Film Reviews by TE

Welcome to TE's film reviews page. TE has written 133 reviews and rated 134 films.

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November

Original and fascinating film

Packed with vivid images and huge inventiveness.

This is an unsanitised representation of medieval peasant life, full of superstition, deprivation and the humour of bodily functions. The story jumps from scene to scene and there is plenty of evidence of the director's background in animation film, not least in the eerie creations known as 'kratts'.

The film is a bit like a shamanic-psychedelic version of Bergman's 'Virgin Spring', with Breughel and Bosch thrown in for good measure.

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The Vanishing

Waste of talent

Even the presence of the excellent Peter Mullan can't rescue this over-cooked tale.

The story leaps along with no real attempt to make things logical or credible, and the potentially interesting setting (a remote island lighthouse) is wasted.

Really disappointing.

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Bad Times at the El Royale

Starts ok but loses it!

The set-up is good, with a careful build towards a cleverly worked series of the different characters' take on a defining incident.

However, what follows is a complete let down.

The story needs pace, but instead it gets bogged down in clumsy flashbacks. The final showdown is gaudily violent and the whole affair is effectively dumbed down.

Nice soundtrack adds an extra star to make it two.

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The Racket

Classic b/w crime pulp

Very fine, taut mobster thriller. No flab, just hard-nosed policing (Mitchum) and hard-nosed gangstering (Ryan) with an excellent supporting cast.

Besides the usual tropes, the film has a strong political commentary within the storyline.

The way it brings in city politics and the local media prefigures much later series like The Wire.

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Starlet

Check out Sean Baker's earlier work!

What a brilliant calling-card of a first movie! Sean Baker has gone on to make Tangerine and The Florida Project, and I can't wait to see what he does next.

All the elements are here in Starlet: a good story, excellently relaxed performances, innovative camerawork and a great soundtrack.

It's sad to note that Besedkah Johnson died just a year after her wonderful turn here as Sadie.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Tangerine

A brilliant delight.

Funny, sassy and brilliantly filmed on i-phones, Tangerine displays many of the features that come to fruition in The Florida Project.

The quality of light and colour is particularly outstanding, and the trans 'demi-monde' of Los Angeles is made very real. There are loud echoes of Alan Clark in the pacy way that the narrative is regularly driven by brisk walking and talking.

Some of the dialogue is so rapid fire that I sometimes felt the need for subtitles, mainly because the writing is so witty. Great soundtrack too!

Sean Baker is a talent to be watched.

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Possum

Sledgehammer approach to child abuse

Yet another entry in the race to play variations on the child abuse theme.

This one comes across like an episode from the League of Gentlemen, so solemn and po-faced that it becomes laughable, especially with the reliance on a "spooky" electronic soundtrack to spice up the bleak visuals.

The terse, Pinteresque dialogue sequences merely add to the feeling of parody.

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Damsel

No such thing as a 'fresh start'!

I love westerns but the comedy western is a sad footnote to the genre. Once I realised that this film is a comedy western I almost abandoned it.

However, it won me over to a large extent, with the deliberately updated language in the dialogue and the comic sketch nature of some of the later scenes.

The landscapes and the birch forest scenes are very beautiful, worth the price of admission alone.

Ultimately it casts a wry, questioning shadow across the idea of an 'American dream'. There is no nobility or fresh start in life here.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Le Corbeau

A whodunnit with a difference!

A tricksy narrative that keeps the viewer guessing until the very end.

On one level this is a good old fashioned mystery story, and on another it is a parable for the breakdown of trust in a community (a very relevant concern in France during WW2).

It is always refreshing to see how far French cinema was in advance of the USA and the UK throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. French directors were not afraid to make movies for grown-ups, with a frankness about sex that makes most British and American films of the period look childish.

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The Banishment

A consistently excellent director

Zvyagintsev had already established his well deserved reputation with 'The Return' by the time he made this film. Both movies display the themes which have recurred in all his work: critique of contemporary Russian society; lack of effective communication between lovers; male stupidities; and emotional coldness towards children.

There is more narrative in 'The Banishment' than in his other films (it is based on a novel by William Saroyan). Thankfully Zvyagintsev avoids the use of flashbacks in favour of a straightforward story line plus a half hour 'prequel' sequence.

All of this is done with his usual flair for eye-catching settings and superb play of light and dark.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Ingrid Goes West

Dark humour rules

This is a well worked, dark satire on contemporary neuroses about social media, celebrity and loneliness.

It is both funny (in dark ways) and tragic in its portrayal of delusional image addiction.

Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen are excellent.

The ending is particularly bleak, despite its apparent sugar coating.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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They Came to a City

Astonishingly relevant today!

What a superb discovery! This is a spellbinder of a film.

The post-WW2 concerns about the future of society and the planet are just as relevant today (maybe even more so) and this film is a basic primer in the archetypes of capitalism, social democracy and revolutionary politics.

Some of the stylings might have dated, but this is a great, timeless movie.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Fat Girl

Brave and provocative.

Genuinely edgy film-making by Breillat. She probes away at the viewer's assumptions about teeenage female sexuality, and about the casual cruelty of the bourgeois family unit.

The grudging tenderness between the sisters is the only true warmth on display. The opening dialogue between the pair sets up the calculated shock of the ending, which represents the most horrific irony.

This is provocative cinema at its best.

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Tehran Taboo

Linked stories make up a compelling movie

Very assured movie depicting the clash between natural, humane sexuality and a cruelly repressive, male-dominated social order.

The animation seems to be based mainly on a 'posterised' version of real actors performing the scenes. At first I wondered what was gained by this technique, but gradually the film becomes more and more beautiful, more and more easy on the eye.

I imagine that the insight into life in Tehran afforded by this film does not go down well with the Iranian authorities.

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Crazy Rich Asians

Too rich and not crazy enough!

Dreadful, soapy sentimentality at its worst.

An uncritical portrait of self-centred rich people with no humour and no taste.

I was expecting a light, fantasy-world movie with some class, but this is just dull and predictable.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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