Film Reviews by TE

Welcome to TE's film reviews page. TE has written 303 reviews and rated 313 films.

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Wyatt Earp

Just a bad home movie

(Edit) 10/09/2020

This is an amateur home movie. Not even unintentionally funny enough to be worth watching. Even the sound recording is dreadful. Avoid!

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Bill Morrison: Selected Films 1996-2014

Uniquely brilliant artistry

(Edit) 27/08/2020

This gets 5 stars for 'Decasia' alone!

The first disc traces Morrison's development and the origins of his trademark use of distressed found footage and avant garde music.

This is film-poetry that fits in a gallery as much as in a cinematic setting. Full screen showings of Morrison's work must be very rare, which is a shame as that would make for a more immersive experience.

'Outerborough' is the best of the other short films on Disc 1, a mesmerising split-screen ride on an urban monorail.

However, it is 'Decasia' that is the most fully realised work here. It is a treasure trove of memorable images and effects.

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For Sama

Extraordinary window into the horrors of civil war

(Edit) 22/08/2020

The first review on here, by "PV" is simply ignorant.

At no point in 'For Sama' is there any endorsement of Islamic fundamentalism in general or of ISIL in particular. We see the beginnings of the opposition to the Assad regime during the Arab Spring. ISIL did not hi-jack the freedom movement in Aleppo: they were present as one of many anti-Assad groups but chose to leave early on in order to help set up their disastrous caliphate.

It's a shame that such an excellent documentary should be the subject of such an ignorant attack by PV.

This is above all else a timeless document of humane values fighting to survive in the most extreme conditions of inhumanity. It puts the focus where it should be, on the children irreparably damaged by war and sectarian violence.

The honest self-questioning by Waad al-Kateab gives the film an ongoing resonance.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Neighbouring Sounds

Subtle and intriguing

(Edit) 21/08/2020

The sights and sounds in this very watchable film are full of hints and discreet nods. There is a nagging sense that more is happening off screen than on it. The facial close-ups are particularly telling.

The director's light touch works well, though there is perhaps insufficient character development to make us care too much about the security concerns of these upper middle class Brazilians. There is almost a feeling of catharsis when the wealthy patriarch gets his come uppance in the end.

Filho also works plenty of wry humour into the meandering narrative.

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Incendies

The true reality of civil war

(Edit) 14/08/2020

A chilling unpacking of the profound horrors of war, especially civil war. The implications of religious sectarianism are spelt out with shocking rigour and detail.

The story itself is gripping and the direction is surefooted. Flashback is an over-used technique these days, but here it is used with great skill, allowing us to follow the quest at the same pace as the sister and brother at the heart of the tale.

The origin of the script is in a successful play and the debt to Greek tragedy is clear.

This is a story that resonates powerfully in the mind for a long time after the final telling image on the screen.

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Honeyland

Restores faith in the medium of film

(Edit) 14/08/2020

Every so often a film comes along which defies conventional analysis. The 'docu-drama' genre is a good source of such films, and Honeyland is an outstanding example.

The review by PD contains a lot of helpful detail, and an important questioning. Ultimately the film succeeds on several levels, from the visually stunning cinematography to the allegorical message implicit in the despoiling of Hatidze's bee colony.

This is simply a magnificent example of the power of film to inform and to advocate.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Ema

Attractive surface but ultimately disappointing

(Edit) 08/08/2020

An excellent review by WS, so I won't repeat the points made there.

This film had a very sycophantic review in Sight & Sound magazine, but I feel much more ambivalent about it. The best bits were the set piece dance scenes, which benefit from stunning settings and fine choreography.

Any emotional impact is undermined by the robotic performance of Ema herself, a detached sensibility that is undoubtedly intentional on the part of the director. The whole narrative feels contrived and overheated (pun on arson and pyromania intended). Every action is po-faced and crammed with cynical motivation.

It's hard to care about anyone in this portentous, humourless film.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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The Hunt for Vlad the Impaler

Truly dire

(Edit) 04/08/2020

Slow, ponderous and unintentionally hilarious (mainly because everyone looks so serious and constipated all the time).

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Monos

A visual treat

(Edit) 04/08/2020

A 3-star narrative is elevated to a 4-star film experience by the dangerous beauty of the settings and the excellent camerawork.

The lighting is incredibly good throughout, helped by a superb palette of stark colours.

In some respects the film owes a lot to both Lord of the Flies and Apocalypse Now, but none of the characters are well enough depicted and developed to merit closer comparisons to those great works.

However, this is a striking movie that holds the attention from start to finish.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Country Music

Watch without prejudice!

(Edit) 29/07/2020

I wish I could give this more than 5 stars! What a joy this series is!

Lots of fascinating film footage and still photography, all assembled with the trademark Ken Burns effortless interweaving style.

Too many people in the UK have held snobbish attitudes to Country music. Let's hope that this brilliant documentary helps to break that down even more.

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Casa de Lava

Cinema as art form: no apologies!

(Edit) 30/05/2020

It's well worth watching the special feature interview with Pedro Costa that is included on this disc.

There is a bilious review here by JS, who appears to have tried Costa's films before. I've no idea why JS would bother to write a review or even watch Casa de Lava in the first place. You don't watch a Costa film for Hollywood glam and car chases and easy cheesey movie-making.

It is a real pleasure to absorb Costa's slow-paced, enigmatic approach to story-telling. This is brave, unapologetically artistic film-making.

The Cabo Verde landscapes and village scenes are mesmerising, but it is the deeper spirit of mystery and strangeness that lingers in the viewer's mind longest.

All too often we impose our own expectations on art. Costa's films defy convention and it is deeply heartening to know that there are directors out there who are brave enough to pursue their own unique vision.

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The Visitor

The last refuge of compassion

(Edit) 29/05/2020

A quiet masterpiece of a film, even more relevant today than it was 13 years ago when it came out.

The narrative is steadily paced and credible at every point. Thomas McCarthy's skill as a director is to create engaging characters from very sparse material, and here we immediately care for the four main characters.

The contrast between real, oppressed lives and the academic futility of Walter's professional milieu is superbly portrayed.

Two bitter-sweet love stories unfold before our eyes.

This is humane film-making at its very best.

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The Third Wife

A visually stunning mythic tale.

(Edit) 23/05/2020

This is a mesmerising film, beautifully languid but full of repressed passion.

Births, deaths, romantic love, sexual love, age, youth, patriarchy...all these themes are addressed in minimalist but telling ways. The shy glances of the 14 year old central character are the essence of the film. Real life is constantly revealed via furtive looks and she becomes our 'eyes'.

The deliberate ambiguity of the ending is in keeping with the delicate, reserved tone of the rest of the film.

This is an amzingly assured debut feature film from Ash Mayfair.

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Gulag: Forgotten Prisoners of WWII

Opening up a little known chapter of our history

(Edit) 23/05/2020

A harrowing account of the degradation and oppression suffered by Hungarian prisoners, mainly women, in Russian gulags in the later stages of WW2. This shocking treatment continued for many years after the War had ended, a situation that the Allies colluded in.

A one-star review on here accuses the film makers of not portraying the horrors in sufficient detail. Personally I cannot understand how such comments can be made, the suffering is very clearly delineated.

What the film also shows is the extent to which certain individuals are able to harden themselves and do whatever it takes to survive. The morally compromised choices that this involves are the true subject of the film.

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Bacurau

"It's only the beginning!"

(Edit) 23/05/2020

An extraordinary film! The sheer boldness of the mixture of genres makes for absorbing viewing: one minute we are in an arthouse-style depiction of a remote rural community, the next we are in a western gangster brew of violence and nihilism.

The film doesn't always flow smoothly between these poles, but that is also part of its charm. It keeps the viewer on her toes!

There are moments when we wonder if it is going to go down a 'magic realism' route, but what appears to be a flying saucer is swiftly identified by an elderly villager as 'a drone'.

There is clearly a political allegory involved. Could the crooked mayor be Bolsonaro, and the vicious American mercenaries be the US support for the murder and rape of the Brazilian hinterland? The answers are: yes, and yes.

There is a folksy Tarantino-style catharsis at the end, but mark the final words of the mercenary leader.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
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