Film Reviews by PV

Welcome to PV's film reviews page. PV has written 1357 reviews and rated 2232 films.

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Bamboozled

Amateurish, clunky, divisive and possibly racist, film by the ever-over-rated Spike Lee

(Edit) 21/02/2024

I must admit I hate Spike Lee films - about as much as Wes Anderson films. Just awful, What do people see in them? No idea.

BUT because I am a big fan of satire, including shocking near-the-knuckle stuff, I thought I would watch this. I gave up after 40 minutes.

Spike Lee has to be just about the most racist film director/writer in the history of the USA certainly in recent years. His complete lack of awareness (I assume) of his own racist stereotyping of ALL white people as ignorant clueless buffoons or out-and-out-racists (ALL white people in the world fit into these 2 camps in the Lee universe) is stark.

For GREAT scathing satire in movies watch TEAM AMERICA - WORLD POLICE. Or even DR STRANGELOVE. Or even PLANET OF THE APES (1967/8). Or even WHITE CHICKS (in which blacks white up, though that film which is occasionally funny steals a lot from the classic SOME LIKE IT HOT).

Not sure what this is filmed with - seems like a home video, The writing is dire, clunky and on-the-nose. The acting so wooden you could make an African mask out of it. The direction just so clumsy and amateurish. It was painful to watch even 40 minutes of this racist dross.

As for minstrel shows - a US tradition imported to the UK via touring groups in late 19th and early 20th C, this is ALL about theatre - makeup and facepainting and no different from African natives 'whiting up' (watch MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON or SHE to see it). The fake outrage by supposedly traumatised persons of colour who have glimpsed Al Johnson is pathetic and fake - pure manufactured racism. It is threat, not racism, and theatre and drama creates types for EVERYONE, all colours and genders. The way it is. STILL. See how white males are portrayed on TV drama these days (if you can find a white male) - all useless clueless buffoons (in adverts only that) though in drama they can also be abusive violent monsters, Yay!

Spike Lee seems to think being racist against all 'white people' (as he would call them to create the OTHER) in the world makes him non-racist, Not very bright then. But hey, it made him very rich as a professional victim.

I shall not make the mistake of watching a Spike Lee movie ever again.

This film and Lee think they are so clever. Nope. Just boring and worse, this sort of stuff incites division. Please keep it in the USA and stop importing it to the UK, which never had slavery (not since 12th C) and ended it all over the world. BLM etc is like that and has been SO damaging in the UK, like a viral pandemic actually, sowing the seeds of division and mate. The UK is a class-based society and that is where disadvantage lies - not race or gender. Socio-economic class.

No stars

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Homebound

Watchable but Flawed Film, a Dysfunctional Family Old House Mild Horror Britflik

(Edit) 19/02/2024

This is an effective haunted house film, in effect, funded by BFI and BBC.

It leans heavily on THE TURN OF THE SCREW and also THE CEMENT GARDEN (though no way was Ian McEwan the first to explore that theme).

Actually, all a bit tame. I had expected more nudity and violence really. This could be family viewing at 7-8pm on terrestrial TV. Most actors here have UK TV pedigrees. The acting is great however so no fault there - the kids are suitably deranged and creepy. As I said, very TURN OF THE SCREW (watch the 1961 movie THE INNOCENTS which is based on that Henry James story - it is the best version).

HOMEBOUND is BY THE BOOK in terms of character arcs and journeys - the thing is, that arc is just not believable at all, the way characters switch so suddenly Sometimes the logic here is nonsensical too. They have phones. So someone would have been on to social services pronto in real life.

This is not really a horror - there is one great JUMP moment which effectively uses sound though! I love it when directors use sound well, so full marks for that.

3 stars overall

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Papadopoulos and Sons

Watchable and Fun North-London-Set Greek Cypriot Drama

(Edit) 19/02/2024

I really enjoyed this film. It was genuinely original, though perhaps could have been a TV drama. The director/writer is clearly drawing on lived experience - and the street featured is just like the ones I knew when I lived opposite Palmers Greek, I mean Green, in north London! Many Cypriot immigrant families in north London - most Greek but also Turks, as at Wood Green.

Is is believable? Not really. These Saul on the road to Damascus do OCCASIONALLY happen in real life, but not often. Very rich people tend to stay very rich and will do anything to keep it that way! BUT it is a story and fiction, so...fine. It's fun! Nonsense but fun.

I saw the end twist coming miles off, from act one actually. So many PLANTS in the early film re the geek boy in the family playing the stock market.

SO best to see it all as a fantasy, or IMAGINERY REALITY - there are roots in the real world here, yes. Despite the morality-tale-cum-fairytale which follows.

The actor Stephen Dillane stars here with his real-life son who, to be fair, is not the spitting image of him, no more so than the daughter. All actors do well.

The Greek-Turkish beef (or doner lamb/mutton) gets referenced. Though I do wonder how many Muslim Turks marry girls from Greek Orthodox families.... How many Muslim families are happy for daughters to marry non-Muslims? Yes, for the sons, so long as the wife converts to Islam. That is the sad reality. There is a GREAT deal of bigotry, racism and faith hate amongst London's and Britain's multicultural communities - often hidden when ethnic/faith groups are in a minority. When in a majority as in certain northern English towns and cities, then we get separate societies, ethnic and faith enclaves living by their own rules and values and not integrating into British or Western culture. Just watch the news. Any decade.

SO do not overthink this. Do not worry or fuss about the ethnic stereotypes (especially as ALL stereotypes are based on truth even if just part of it or an outdates truth - just see how white Brits are portrayed as Imperial bowler-hatted gin-swilling racist stereotype buffoons in ALL Asian and Bollywood).

I liked the amoral financier characters - so close to reality, it is scary. Though no way did I believe the character arc and journey of the woman who was supposedly employed to work for the accountant firm. Fairytales like that just do not happen. People - male and female - in the City wallow in their amorality out of pure greed and self-interest. My lived experience, that.

I also LOVE the fact it was self-funded, so no state subsidy from BFI BBC FilmFour etc - which these days would lead to preachy woke sermons and colour-blind casting. This low budget British film mostly avoids that (except a bizarre scene of some hawker selling household goods door to door - which happens in the suburbs, though does not tend to happen when huge houses with long drives and big gates are on a street!)

The ending is eye-rollingly silly slushy (NO SPOILERS) BUT it is actually very Hollywood movie and MAMA MIA so many will love it, no doubt.

So flawed but watchable and yes, original. Reminded me a bit of another semi-autobiographical self-financed film, SIXTY-SIX (2006).

If the ending were less toe-curling it would be 4 stars. 3.5 stars rounded up.

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The Camp

Brilliant, harrowing German film about Buckenwald Concentration Camp during and after the Second Wor

(Edit) 17/02/2024

This is a brilliant film, harrowing but true, well-written, well-directed and well-acted, with real heart and focus. It matters.

I did think it would be dubbed when I saw no subtitles option BUT thank goodness it had subtitles and is the German. Its cast has many familiar faces for those who know German films and TV drama.

Buchenwald was one of the lesser known concentration camps, because it was not a death camp like Auschwitz and others - it was a work camp, though 50,000+ people died there of 250,000 sent there 1937-45.

The way the war ends in chaos, panic and uncertainty for all, the SS and German soldiers and inmates works very well.

This is directed by the same guy who directed the brilliant 2013 TV miniseries GENERATION WAR.

One of the best wartime concentration camp films ever made. ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR (1978) is also superb and there are others. This is up there with the best of them.

4.5 stars

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Plebs: Soldiers of Rome

Genuinely Fully Ancient Roman Comedy Spin-off from TV Series PLEBS

(Edit) 17/02/2024

I have not watched any of the TV series at all, so came to this film totally green really.

I enjoyed it. The characters are genuinely quirky, funny and strong as individuals. The usual types, and cartoon character sometimes, but that is fine - it is comedy and IS actually comedy and made me smile and laugh (unlike so much modern comedy esp onc pc BBC TV).

The plot is silly, but why not? Have you watched BRITANNIA? And that is not even comedy.

Nice and compact in length too, no dragging.

3.5 stars rounded up

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The Outfit

So-so but VERY stagey and wordy Chicago mob crime thriller with twists set in 1950s

(Edit) 16/02/2024

I had no idea what to expect in this film. I am not a big fan of Mark Rylance - for some reason I find it hard to believe any character he plays. Not sure why.

Anyway, I was amazed this did not start off as a stage play because it follows many of the conventions of one, including the one-set interior location - which would have kept the budget down nicely, especially if it was filmed in the UK pretending to be Chicago 9I have no idea).

I was grateful for a James Dean reference revealing the 1950s time period; the reveals later on sort of make sense though I struggle to believe the final big one (NO SPOILERS) which held true to screenplay demands for character arcs, but there are limits to what we'll believe and suspend our disbelief for.

An interesting curiosity. Maybe watch as a starter before a main course of Goodfellas, The Godfather or The Sopranos!

3 stars

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Werewolves Within

Unfunny Unscary Comedy Horror - Watch AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON instead

(Edit) 14/02/2024

Hmm well, I like a good comedy horror film - and arguably all horror is comedy anyway (DISCUSS!) But this is limp. I did not laugh once. Maybe I would have done if I were a teenager. Maybe not, I do not know. It is based on a video game, 'parently, which says it all, I suppose.

Not a patch on a classic like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON which also has WAY better special effects - mind you, compared to this B-movie, Michael Jackson's Thriller video has better special effects! Those wanting great werewolf transformations will be yawning in disappointment with this film. Want a great comedy horror with gore, watch SEVERANCE (2006).

This is another one of those new films which aim to cast black/BAME and female actors in all main roles. Any white male characters that do exist are useless buffoons or abusive monsters. Apparently this racism/sexism is progress... Personally, I think it is boring.

BUT if you're feeling hungee for diversity donuts and tickbox jollies, then watch SPELL (2020) or the over-rated GET OUT, I suppose, or the genuinely funny slasher horror comedy FREAKY (2020) which did make me laugh.

Sadly this film falls between 2 stools - it is neither scary (so not a horror) nor funny (so not a comedy) and it is certainly not original or clever or surprising in its supposed twists (NO SPOILERS). Plus, no subtitles and the dialogue is mumbled though oddly also very stagey and overblown, with cartoon characters aplenty - the main actor would have fitted in well in those 1930s black comedies which are considered racist now. All those eye-bulging shocked expressions.

Just not to my taste, but passes the time. Kids may like it more.

2 stars, 1 for having a screenplay written by someone called Wolff!

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Nobody

Watchable Wish Fulfillment/Revange Action Thriller with Its Tongue in Its Cheek

(Edit) 04/02/2024

I usually hate shoot-em-up Action Movies, and the writer of this wrote the John Wick ones which I avoid.

However, loving Breaking Bad (which this resembles, and The Americans), I watched for the BETTER CALL SAUL main actor. I am glad I did.

There are some laugh-out-loud moments in the dialogue and actually the whole thing plays as a satire on the whole action movie genre, which I like.

Cartoon character violence veers into superhero computer game or Marvel territory BUT it does not matter - for a movie this entertaining.

Realistic and plausible? NAH! Just silly but fun.

Great Friday Night viewing. 4 stars

But just one little question: WHY CAN WOMEN NOT PUT THE BINS/TRASH OUT? Do women lack arms or legs? Are they unable to carry bags and walk? Odd that, as so many seem to carry tonnes of shopping when they have been out buying clothes, especially if a man is paying LOL. We need gender equality. That means women taking the backbags out on bin day. Go on, sisters, you know you can...

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Hindenburg: The Last Flight

Watchable Alternative Reality 3 hour German TV drama on 2 DVDs - sadly no subtitles option!

(Edit) 14/02/2024

This was directed by the same guy who did the BRILLIANT TV miniseries GENERATION WAR also from 2013 which is THE best German war film/series I have ever seen. Original German, subtitles, as it should be too.

I hate dubbing into English - most Brits do. I suppose the production decision was made to appeal to US TV channels. But, personally, I hate it. No option for subtitles and original German, WHY? There's enough expense spent on the cast, settings, numerous stuntmen and CGI artists for all the special effects, How much would subs cost? Pennies! Much cheaper than dubbing for a start.

So that gripe over, is it good? Well it is passable, and the story constructs a dastardly bomb plot around a real airship disaster (search online for real footage and that for the British RH101 which also burst into flames after crashing into the ground). The loss of 48 lives was more than the 36 killed in the much better-known Hindenburg disaster of 1937, though fewer than the 52 killed in the French military Dixmude in 1923 and the 73 killed when the USS Akron crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey in 1933. THIS is why we do not travel bu airship today!!!

There is a 1975 HINDENBURG film which I have enjoyed on TV (despise lacklustre reviews).

Not sure why this needs 2 DVDs with a 90 minute half of a 3 hour drama on each. Could all fit on one DVD, surely?

3 stars. Worth watching anyway and special effects impress - the Nazi-ere atmosphere is done well too.

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Torpedo: U-235

Atrociously Dubbed Low-Budget U-boat Hokum from Belgium

(Edit) 10/02/2024

I wanted to like this, I really did. I was on TEAM TORPEDO-235 before I pressed play. When I did, the first horror was the atrocious dubbing. WHY NO OPTION for the original language with subtitles? The only way to watch foreign films imho.

A vaguely Indiana Jones-style silly Nazi plot tentatively featuring Africa and the Congo, and with words used in dialogue sometimes that would give BBC/UK/KAFTA wokiedokies conniptions. and cause them lifelong trauma no doubt. Fine, I have no issue with racial words in dialogue - it is realistic. I have no issue with silly fantasy plots - many movies have them. It is how the plot is enacted and realised that is the issue here.

This is a short film but I found my mind wandering and my eyes looking at my watch.

Obviously low-budget and aimed at the US straight-to-DVD market, with some absurd endpiece which btw has NO basis in historical fact.

Try watching Oppenheimer (the 1980 TV series is WAY better than the over-rated recent movie) or DAS BOOT - all versions - to see how a submarine chase drama can be done.

2 stars

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The Banshees of Inisherin

Over-rated Forgettable Pointless Film about a Pointless Irish Argument - how did this win awards?

(Edit) 10/02/2024

I was suspicious about this film, as I am about all films that win so many awards, from BAFTA or OSCARS. There is usually a political reason, these days often one that is woke and all about ticking boxes. So obvious at recent Oscars. Here, the Irish bias seems to have done it - I doubt an identical film set in England of 1823 would win any awards or plaudits. Racial bias then is the reason for the fistfuls of awards.

I found this all silly, boring, pointless, UNFUNNY to the nth degree (dark humour? Give me a break! There is no comedy). A parable or allegory? About conflict and war - been done WAY better elsewhere (read SMITH' GAZELLE by Lionel Davidson). I mean, who cares? This is a NOTHING film, about NOTHING, meaning NOTHING and by a writer/director with a track record in such movies.

I dislike the 2 main actors anyway, in the vastly over-rated Bruges and the rest. I do not know why, I just never believe they are the characters they play.

Barry Keoghan is superb as usual. Now to be seen in Spielberg's MASTERS OF THE AIR, I think. That is probably quality.

This? This is pure pretentious drivel and tedious with it - I mean clock-watching monotonous.

The sort of film stupid people who are keen to fit in with current critic opinion think is intelligent and profound. It is not. And worse, UK taxpayer cash paid for it.

The countryside and sea is all pretty, deliberately coloured by the cameras/lens to try and make it all magical and mystical, But it is neither.

Do yourself a favour, watch FATHER TED instead. Go on. Go on go on go on! Now THAT is funny.

1 generous star

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Johnny and the Bomb

Highly entertaining time-slip drama for both kids & adults with a top British cast

(Edit) 08/02/2024

I really enjoyed this. Decent simple story. Great actors, early George McKay (Pride, 1917) and Matthew Beard (Vienna Blood). And the great Keith Barron (The Land that Time Forgot etc) and Frank Finlay.

Adapted from a PROPER kids' book - not the sort of preachy woke lecturing middle grade kids books of now, which remind me of propaganda books under Nazi-ism/communism, or else cartoon character whizzbang simplistic stuff which does nothing to lift the literacy of kids. my advice to parents - raid the archive for decent books and stories for the young 'uns. Go back to the future!

Obviously inspired by the expression BAGS OF TIME with a silly time machine shopping trolley - BUT WHY NOT? All time travel tales are silly and vague re the details of how to do it! So if a story skirts over the how then fine - though I do know agents/publishers challenge this in submissions (WHY? IT IS FICTION!) No need to explain the (fantasy) science! OK so this is not up there with BACK TO THE FUTURE or THE TIME MACHINE (1960 film is sublime). But it is fun and it hangs together and works.

This is very traditional actually - people go back in time, change something then have to go back again and put right what they made wrong. That is a trope used by so many stories and authors. So nothing original here BUT it is a good fun proper story.

I have never seen this on TV and it seems to have vanished from the schedules for some reason - maybe the use of 'slur word' (SHOCK HORROR!) which the woke taliban of TV would certainly trigger warning now or maybe cut or mute as in so many 1970s sitcoms. No word is wrong in and of itself and when in dialogue in a story should NEVER be muted or cut - if the usual baby-brained wokies are offended and triggered, they should grow up and get an education as they clearly lack one.

I suspect Terry Pratchett felt he had to address race and gender in this film (though not the 2004 book which is the last of the Johnny Maxwell trilogy) so did so. Does not add much though and thankfully no absurd diverse cast in 1941 which they'd do now (in 1939 there were just 6000 black people in the UK out of a population of 44 million).

Anyway, I really enjoyed this. Yes, it is yet another time-slip drama, and as ever with these things, the logic/science of time travel is NEVER explained and is always vague and magical BECAUSE IT IS NONSENSE. It is the same in all time travel films. Oddly the only story which tried to explain it is the Czech novel NEWTON'S BRAIN, published 18 years before HG Wells THE TIME MACHINE.

Be aware: A tachyon or tachyonic particle is a hypothetical particle that always travels faster than light.

4 stars.

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Eismayer

Watchable Austrian Army Drama About Attitudes to Homosexuality with a Brilliant First Half

(Edit) 07/02/2024

How much this is based on a true story is unclear BUT it is certainly inspired by one - watch to the very end to see the real-life people photos.

Anyway, the first half of this is simply brilliant - the main actor utterly nails it as a harsh and closeted army officer. A superb character study. I believed less in the openly gay Bosnian-Austrian recruit, to be honest and wonder if in real life he was that rebellious and cocky. The photo at the end of the film shows him far more white western European looking than the actor in the film who is swarthier and, it is implied, Muslim (was he in real life?)

A western director (USA?) which is maybe why it's all a tad coy and conservative (no full frontals here). Many of the actors here have been in the brilliant VIENNA BLOOD and also WE CHILDREN FROM BAHNHOPF ZOO a German TV series. The army recruit actors here are superb.

Still, it's an interesting film about how the army has changed in Hitler's own country, and about attitudes for homosexuality between generations and ages.

The second half deflated into a limp slushy love story for me - but the first half is blistering. Hence 4 stars.

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Spies

Very Muddled & Confusing Overlong Minor Fritz Lang Film - Let its Great Soundtrack Wash Over You!

(Edit) 04/02/2024

This is a very long film. It is also very muddles and, for me, confusing. I felt like I needed a print-out of the plot and characters to read beforehand - as is useful if going to the theatre to watch a Shakespeare play or even Gilbert and Sullivan (and when I take the print-out with me to shows, so many people ask in the interval to read the pages I have printed off the internet as the plot and/or character numbers have confused them).

Useful historical context: Japan was on the side of Britain and the allies in the First World War, and this is pre China going communist too, though Russia was of course, though white Russians who escaped after losing the 1921/2 civil war to the reds were all over western Europe in the 1920s. So this plot does reflect growing German nationalism and resentment re the punitive conditions of the Versailles Treaty in 1919. History eh?

Having said all that, I enjoyed it, sort of let it wash over me. I am making the effort to try and watch all Fritz Lang films this year. Amazing to think this is almost an antique, 100 years old in 2028.

The baddie mastermind here reminded me of a Bond villain, wheelchair and all. Maybe that is where the Bond film makers got their idea from, esp for Blofeld? Then think the Austin Powers spoof of that Bond film You Only Live Twice from 1967.

It is all very pantomime and no doubt the wokies will get triggered by the racial Japanese stereotypes (though never the white or male ones!) accompanied by chopsticks score music - by the way, the soundtrack is fab. Piano plus electronics. Just great!

I MUSH preferred WOMAN IN THE MOON made the next year 1929 with a lot of the same cast.

Just 3 stars for this, But I am still not entirely sure what was going on...

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The Beach

Watchable if implausible Danny Boyle film based on the 1997 novel

(Edit) 04/02/2024

This film is annoying and entertaining. I actually read the novel by the very well-connected Alex Garland in 1997 - and this fits with most (not all) of it. Garland also wrote the very derivative but excellent Danny Boyle film 28 DAYS LATER. and now seems to focus on writing/directing science fiction movies. Maybe I'll sell my first edition novel on the back of this though LOL.

Leonardo di Caprio is perfectly cast as is Tilda Swinton who is perfect as the deeply manipulative hippy leader of the beach people. So accurate how hippies despite all the talk of love and peace, really just want money and power.

I have never been to Thailand - I am just off the age group who went there in the 90s as Alex Garland did. The whole dope-smoking culture I find boring and the beach rave culture stuff - like some parts of this movie.

But overall, watchable., though hardly realistic or plausible.

3 stars

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