Film Reviews by PV

Welcome to PV's film reviews page. PV has written 1366 reviews and rated 2241 films.

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Inglourious Basterds

Worst movie of the last 5 years

(Edit) 24/07/2013

This is a dire movie, even by QT's plummeting standards. Silly, badly written (repetitive dialogue; dialogue that is clearly Tarantino's voice spoken by several characters, so not differentiation). Ridiculous rewriting of history (why?) for no purpose. Silly pantomime-ish hiss-boo portrayal of Nazis. Utterly absurd and deeply unenjoyable.

How this ever made money and got nominated for awards is beyond me. It is trash. No stars.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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A Serious Man

Hilarious, Dry, Deadpan Jewish Comedy

(Edit) 18/07/2013

There are some real laugh out loud moments in this film - some perfectly crisp dialogue that made me chortle loudly! The tale of a put-upon professor in the late 60s who has work and family issues as his son prepares for bah mitzvah is bittersweet - a comi-tragedy that actually has a very British flavour (in that the hero is a 'loser') - like many a British comic novel.

One thing that does baffle a bit: the opening sequence which is set in Poland of the 19th century. I have no idea really why that is there - though it's funny. It almost seems you've got the wrong film when you start playing the DVD - but persevere through it to the main movie. The ending too confuses (no spoilers - but suffice to say there are mystical themes here). Lots of stuff about rabbis went over my head, but the characterisation makes it all work here, as does the wonderful snappy dialogue.

Intelligent, funny and so good I watched it 3 times in a row.

Five stars.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Flight

A brilliant study of alcoholism

(Edit) 16/07/2013

This movie left me thinking about it for the rest of the day and week. It is a somewhat brilliant study of alcoholism, and the air crash and flight stuff is merely the context where that happens. I was expecting some 'snakes on a plane' mash-up; instead I found myself watching the best movie on alcoholism since 'Leaving Las Vegas'. Its characters and moral issues are well-written and developed, and there is a level of depth and complexity here unusual in Hollywood movies. The female druggie character's story is also well-developed, and the separate-then-meeting technique works well. There are no easy answers here and no simplistic moralising - that impressed me.

Of course, the plane crash and CGI effects are great too - but this film is more intelligent than that. In fact, I was surprised they didn't start with the crash - I knew this movie would be different from the first scenes therefore.

The only negatives: a slight descent in sentimentality, esp with the son subplot. Rather too much waffling about God for my liking (but not TOO much and this is an American movie, after all). Moreover, Denzel Washington just does not look ill or addled enough, after all his drinking (and the smoking, drugs etc). But hey, it's a Hollywood impression of alcoholism, and a trembling wreck would be less attractive and not allowed to fly a plane. And there are high-functioning alcoholics.

I struggled to watch this sometimes - the battle of the main character, the lying, the compulsive need to drink are all things I have seen in people I know, so I know how spot on its portrayal was.

I give this 4.5 stars rounded up. One of the films of the year for me - sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always interesting.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Zero Dark Thirty

Over-long, Disjointed but Watchable 'Politically Correct' Movie

(Edit) 25/06/2013

This film is not bad - it is watchable if very VERY long. More like 2 or 3 episodes of a TV drama stuck together though than one cohesive story. Maybe that's because it ranges over 12 years and several countries? Maybe the story would be better served by TV though if that is the case?

This is also one of those films that shows history which is not history, but rather wish fulfilment of Hollywood producers and writers. According to this script, a lone woman - who is of course utterly courageous, compassionate, and superior to all men present (who are against her initially) - is responsible for the talking out of Osama Bin Laden. Yeah right. Sadly, a lot of people will believe this hogwash as fact - and Bigelow really does not need to stoop to such feminist propaganda levels either.

But it's a competent if unexciting movie - and is perhaps best in its initial scenes (which unusually for a US movie show the US forces in a bad light) and its final scenes (which are exciting to watch). Some well-drawn characters (oddly, the men are much better drawn as characters than the heroin women), interesting scenes, and a sense of menace in Pakistan and Afghanistan which is certainly true to life.

So average then - 3 stars.

Subtitles are recommended too even if you aren't hard of hearing, just to understand what everyone is saying over the noise!

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Band's Visit

Brilliant, Intelligent, Unusual, Funny and Sad Israeli Movie

(Edit) 15/06/2013

This film will not appeal to those who like CGI effects, fast paced action, fastcut editing. They will moan and whinge that the plot is slow and boring, when perhaps it is they that those adjectives best apply to.

And who would seriously expect actors to be expert musicians anyway? I have seen far worse miming in BBC dramas.

In fact, this is an intelligent and thoughtful film, highly enjoyable, funny, with some laugh out loud ironic moments, sad in parts, and nicely structured, filmed and acted. It is possibly the best movie I have ever seen that addresses the Arab/Israeli conflict and tensions, and reminded me a bit of the best novel I have ever read on the issue (Lionel Davidson's 'Smith's Gazelle').

This is a lovely, gentle intelligent film, based on character, which progresses well to a satisfying ending.

4.5 stars rounded up.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Mid-August Lunch

Lovely, genuinely funny Italian film with lots of wicked old ladies

(Edit) 06/06/2013

I really liked this film. It's simple - but funny. It works.

The writer/director also stars as a middle-aged man trapped in his life of caring for his mother (like people I know). A couple of his friends are in the same position, but as they have to work or travel, ask him to take their mothers and aunts - so now the poor man has 4 or 5 elderly women to look after and feed: some task! They get the better of him of course in lots of ways - as the man makes them food and dulls his stress with glass after glass of wine...

Some great, true and funny lines from the old women - which are so genuine and real - are laugh out loud funny to anyone who has ever looked after an elderly relative. For those who are younger and don't appreciate the humour of the elderly, it's best not to rent this movie; but for older and more experienced types, this movie is a gem. My only criticism is that it's too short and ends too soon - but it makes a change from the grand finales in happy clappy Hollywood fare.

I rate this as 4.5 stars because I really enjoyed watching the simple set up and the great lines - and I love Italy too (not sure where it was filmed though). A nice little film.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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English Vinglish

A sort of sentimetal Bollywood 'Mind Your Language' fairy tale

(Edit) 05/06/2013

I usually hate Bollywood movies, but this is at least watchable - unfortunately they add some of those awful song and dance numbers towards the end for the Indian audience (fastforward through that nonsense and you won't miss anything).

This is a fairytale of an Indian woman going to the USA for a wedding and being nervous because she can't speak English (which is utterly absurd anyway: all light-skinned Middle-class professional Indians speak English; it's their dark-skinned untouchable poverty-stricken servants who do not!)

Anyway, she attends an English class. The teacher is a queeny flamboyant gay American (this is how Indians see white American New York men); a French classmate is a chef who falls passionately in love with this pretty Indian woman; other classmates include the lech Pakistani taxi driver, the overweight Mexican woman, the Sri Lankan software geek, the Japanese quiet girl, and the withdrawn and unfriendly African. It's a good job there weren't any Germans in this class of stereotypes or they'd be wearing jack boots and raisin their right arms in the air in Hitler salutes!

So many silly coincidences in this flight of fancy fairytale too - but as a piece of whimsy to watch as a feelgood movie (all Bollywood movies are feelgood fluff really)it'll pass the time.

Some funky music on the soundtrack and some modern attitudes to gays make this a very modern Indian movie indeed. But the stereotypes of white Westerners is, frankly, just racist - a bit like if a British movie had an Indian characters saying 'oh goodness gracious me' all the time and eating curry sandwiches...

Anyway, 3 stars. Watchable Bollywood nonsense, if you like that sort of thing.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Quartet

Very disappointing, predictable, boring, unbelievable film - with a class cast + writer + fine music

(Edit) 20/05/2013

I was looking forward to watching this film - but it was so plodding, so predictable, so unbelievale in its plotting (the rap subplot), that I looked at my watch many times whilst I precicted (accurately) in the first minutes what would happen by the end - then ticked off my correct prdictable predications as they came true.

This movie has such a wonderful cast of British character actors - almost any old actor worth their salt took the pay-cheque for this one then!

And it should have been good - or better - with a fine writer like Ronald Harwood. Perhaps at aged nearly 80 he cannot see the sheer unbelievabiity and predictability of his screenplay (which is based on a theatre play, which was based on a TV documentary about a real retirement home for opera singers in Italy).

Sorry, but this gets 1.5 stars rounded up. As a movie with and for oldies, the Marigold Hotel one is far better than this.

4 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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The Spell

Wordy, Confusing, Amateurish, Home-made, Self-financed British Movie

(Edit) 13/05/2013

I really wanted to like this film. It's a little self-made movie (who wrote, directed and produced) by someone who has the money to do that. I tend to forgive films made with not much money, because I know what a monolith the movie business (and the publishing business) is. I therefore always support independents.

However, this is pretty bad. Wordy, flabby, with some wooden acting and a barely comprehensible plot. It needs rewriting and the rewriting some more, then more editing and cutting.

I fatsforwarded through some parts because it was dragging so much.

The script is the first big problem - lots fo swearing for no reason.

There need to be more action and far less sitting around and chatting and nattering - that's boring, on film.

Still, I shall award this 1.5 stars rounded up to 2.

I can see potential here, but the writing is flabby, the direction slow and plodding, and the film is really quite amaterish and boring. The ending is also a cop-out and utterly predictable - with no twist! The whole movie should have been working towards a great ending, but it just sort of peters out, like this review, and fades...to....black....leaving...nothing....

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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End of Watch

So-so police action movie - one for the fans, though.

(Edit) 09/05/2013

This is the sort of movie that would appeal to off-duty plods and woodentops in the UK, fantasising about doing interesting police work on their days off watching DVDs (instead of their usual arresting of drunks, druggies, shoplifters and those who say bad words on Facebook and emails - well, easy meat boosts arrest targets eh?)

For me, this was pretty boring - though I can appreciate the immediacy the director was aiming for with the hand-held camera and police car camera stuff, all from the convenient fact that one cop is filming a documentary (though we are never told why).

There is a constant attempt to add empathy to the two main characters, to humanise them, and thus build up to the finale. Sadly, for me, I still didn't care much about them as characters, so was unmoved by what happened to them; and certainly I didn't believe the Mexican drug cartel plot shoehorned into the plot to raise the stakes. That balances the 'good' hispanics we see who are cops.

Lots of shooting, drug crime and murders, for people who like that sort of thing.

3 stars - just - because it is well-made. But really, one for the Americans and off-duty plods fantasising about being cool LAPD cops.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Shut Up and Shoot Me

Very Funny Farce and Black Comedy set in Prague (in English though)

(Edit) 09/05/2013

There is good news and there is bad news. Bad news first: the sound quality in this film is awful - we had the volume up to the max and still could not hear some dialogue! The other bad news is that there is no subtitles option - no hard of hearing subtitles. They would have been handy!

Happily, that is the only bad news. The good news is that the rest of this film is brilliant. The script is clever, witty and well-written - and efficient, with no flab - the acting and direction are great; the locations look wonderful! I used to live in Prague for a while, so recognised the awful and doomy Hotel Dum too (where lots of English teachers get dumped by their employers!)

Some of the gags are old-fashioned in that visual humour slapstick was the continentals love - one particular joke was the same as I've seen in a 1930 Laurel and Hardy film (about one man breaking in through a window while the other enters the house through the open door and watches him).

But anyway, this film made me laugh out loud several times. It is genuinely funny - far more so than most Hollywood comedies. I could watch it all again now. If you like black humour, then you'll love this. The comedy is winter dark and the ironies abound. Funny funny funny! 5 stars!

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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The Killer Inside Me

Well-made but unbelievable drama that fails to convince

(Edit) 05/05/2013

This is a well-made and well-written story, from a novel, I think.

However, there is one major issue with this film: it is, frankly, unbelievable. I shall not give any plot spoilers, but just say bthat characters must be believable, especially if they end up killing people (rather a major step). This movie is called The Killer Inside Me so we know that happens (so no spoiler).

Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is believable, as is Starling. Here the main character acts in a way no human would - and not enough back story and character development is givem to explain his actions and what eventually happens. I suppose the religious will put it down to the devil inside him...But it just doesn't work in terms of story development: the world of the story is not believable.

But a nice period piece and watchable - hence 4 stars.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Going Places

Boring, dated, tiresome French early 70s film, yes - but not sexist or misogynistic

(Edit) 02/05/2013

This film is just deadly dull - it is far too dull to be offensive, other than to those desperately looking to be offended, or so conditioned by our politically correct age that they cannot see the contradiction in being offended by this, but not offended by a movie showing leery women exploiting men (no doubt some would see that as 'liberating' and portraying 'strong women'). Well, you can't have it both ways, sisters! (Unless feminists are hypocrites, of course).

Anyway, the problem with this film is that it essentially has no plot - two likely lads hassle women for sex and engage in petty theft on an early 70s road trip across France (but really, it is not as exciting as it sounds).

Possibly the second half of this movie is brilliant - but we lost patience after 40 minutes and simply could not stand any more! It felt as though we'd watched 5 hours of tedium after half an hour, so just couldn't take the second half. If it's as bad as the first though, this is one star - and evidence that the French are different if this was a huge hit in 1974. With whom? Who could possibly enjoy this drivel?

1 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

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Blood Simple

Brilliant, influential movie - forerunner of Fargo and Shallow Grave

(Edit) 24/04/2013

If you want to have a real cinematic treat, watch this, and then Shallow Grave and/or Fargo: you will see that Fargo is essentially a bigger budget remake of this, and Shallow Grave (directed but not written by Danny Boyle, and still his best film, I think - way better than the tedious Trainspotting or the sentimental wallowing of Slumdog) lifted so much from it. Some scenes (light shining through bullet holes)were 'taken' directly from here for Shallow Grave.

The best thing about this film is the script: tight, terse, pithy and funny. Some great lines.

It has a plot to die for (literally!).

Nice direction too.

The weak things about this movie?

Well, it is dated - and looks dated even for 1984!

And the music - much of it hispanic - is awful. Also, the black barman character was an unnecessary distraction, included probably for the interesting contrast between a Detroit Motown-loving outsider black man in Countrya nd Western territory.

But really, still 4.5 stars, despite the creaky bits!

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Hunt

Brilliant, powerful, Danish film about a man falsely charged with child abuse

(Edit) 23/04/2013

This film is brilliant - and should have won the Oscar for best foreign film 2012, and every other award going.

This really is a must-see. For all MPs, teachers, paranoid parents, children's groups etc.

The script makes the dialogue, and the characters who speak it, so very believable, as a tragedy unfolds, (perfectly paced), all spurred on by parental paranoia, false rumours, a 'no smoke without fire' reasoning, and the sort of vile mob mentality we often see in Britain today.

Indeed, some of the lines reminded me of some of the silly things my female colleagues used to say when I was a college teachers - the nursery school scenes here show how very stupid such people can be, and how their wooly reasoning destroys an innocent man's life. This movie shows all men are extremely vulnerable to being a victim of such false accusations - which is perhaps why the school system today is being so feminised and female-dominated as to be a man-free zone: why should men expose themselves to a hellish experience like this?

This film should be remade in English and shown to all those thinking of assuming anyon accused of any crime (esp child abuse) is automatically guilty, or that children always tell the truth: the way adults project what they want onto children in this film is brilliantly done, and disturbingly believable and realistic. This makes it moving and sometimes disturbing really - one almost has to watch through one's fingers as the mob of gullible parents turn on their former friend (who is a great teacher!).

Particulatly chilling is the vile head of the nursery who idiotically seems to believe that children never tell lies, and seems to think all men who are ever alone with children are therefore guilty of child abuse.

The way the false accusations grow like a virus and never go away is handled brilliantly right up until the last scenes.

The only part that didn't really work for me was the deer/hunting analogy (though I am not Danish and have never been hunting, so maybe that's why!) - though it works way better than that silly scene in The Queen with the stag called Diana (yawn!).

But that is a small gripe.

This film deserves a much wider audience - and perhaps a remake for those too lazy or illterate to read subtitles.

It fully deserves 5 stars as the best foreign film I have seen in the last year, or maybe the last 5 years.

A brilliant, moving and sometimes disturbing movie.

9 out of 10 members found this review helpful.
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