Film Reviews by TE

Welcome to TE's film reviews page. TE has written 140 reviews and rated 143 films.

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Pin Cushion

Bitter pill with a saccharine ending

(Edit) 17/09/2019

Despite the fantasy sequences this film purports to tell a credible story, but the cruelties and the inconsistencies are just too relentless.

It becomes an inflated melodrama rather than a tragedy, but with a ludicrously happy ending tacked on seconds after the shocking culmination of the chain of nastiness.

It has the feel of a student project which has somehow attracted enough funding to support a feature length film.

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Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Superb film about a great band

(Edit) 13/09/2019

Pretty much the perfect rock music documentary, long enough to do justice to the brilliance of its subject, and with some great 'special features' as well.

Big Star's three albums are now recognised as artistic triumphs: the first two are packed with sublime tunes and lyrics that blend exuberance with pain. The third album has some fillers, but also has a core of astonishing songs, a suite of gorgeous melodies combined with bitterly tragic lyrics.

The film gives an excellent record of the band and of the individuals concerned.

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Loro

Totally assured film-making.

(Edit) 03/09/2019

This film deserves 10 stars let alone 5! A fascinating satirical take-down of Silvio Berlusconi, in which the satire is administered via both a velvet glove and a sledgehammer.

As with The Great Beauty, the filming is simply gorgeous. Every frame is like a beautiful still composition in itself.

The sets are sumptuous, and the soundtrack lives up to Sorrentino's reputation for being the world's best director of sound and image.

The clinching brilliance in Loro is the way in which Sorrentino reveals Berlusconi as a prototype for Donald Trump, in background, in personality, in megalomania, and in sleaze.

This is Sorrentino back at the top of his game.

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Fighting with My Family

No originality here!

(Edit) 03/09/2019

Worth 1 extra star for the energetic performance by Florence Pugh, otherwise this film is a ragbag of every tired old cliche to be found in movies about sport.

Professional wrestling is so completely scripted and rigged that it hardly qualifies as sport. It is more like a clownish soap opera with acrobatics thrown in. This makes the triumphant ending quite bizarre. How can you celebrate someone "winning" when it has all been scripted and agreed in advance? That's showbiz I suppose!

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The Human Condition Trilogy

Landmark in world cinema

(Edit) 29/08/2019

It's tempting to write a lengthy piece in a vain attempt to convey the glories of this trilogy.

I'll resist that temptation and just say that it is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in film history, or a passing interest in the human species.

The film explores timeless moral questions.

Don't be put off by the 9 hour length. Savour it, it's more than worth it.

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The White Reindeer

Myths of desire and ice

(Edit) 11/08/2019

This is a wonderful artefact from the rich treasury of Scandinavian folkloric films about witches.

It is also a stark example of the films and literature that express sexual anxiety via transformation into animals.

It is an intense, hard-boiled narrative told with frame after frame of beautiful wintery landscapes. It is also a classically misogynistic tale about the dangers of female desire.

The director presents an unvarnished story, leaving us to make the leap towards a rejection of irrational superstition.

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Mountain

Superficial shiny happy documentary

(Edit) 11/08/2019

Two stars for the various sequences of beautiful mountain ranges shot from helicopters, but that's about all the film has to offer.

The content of the voiceover could have been lifted from Pseuds' Corner in Private Eye, and the whole film has an ad agency sheen, an effect that is enhanced by the rich young white males who make up the visible human cast.

This is a Facebook meme level approach to mountains.

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November

Original and fascinating film

(Edit) 10/07/2019

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.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Vanishing

Waste of talent

(Edit) 02/07/2019

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!

(Edit) 15/06/2019

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

(Edit) 15/06/2019

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.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Starlet

Check out Sean Baker's earlier work!

(Edit) 13/06/2019

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.

(Edit) 09/06/2019

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

(Edit) 02/06/2019

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.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Damsel

No such thing as a 'fresh start'!

(Edit) 26/05/2019

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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