Film Reviews by RC

Welcome to RC's film reviews page. RC has written 19 reviews and rated 29 films.

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The Happy Prince

Fabulous

(Edit) 03/08/2019

A wonderful of telling the story of Oscar Wilde through the lens of his last days in Paris. Excellent acting throughout and very convincing relationships. Fascinating insight into his last years and days after his release from Reading jail. Told largely in flashbacks so be prepared to do a bit of work to understand the chronological sequence of events if you do not already know his story. A tale of love, redemption, celebrity and decline.

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Shoplifters

A slice of life with a narrative twist

(Edit) 03/08/2019

I've not seen any of this director's work before - it reminded me very much of Mike Leigh using observational narrative to tell a story whilst painting a picture of real life, warts and all.

Very engaging, generates a lot of sympathy for the characters in the 'family' with all their difficulties and creative responses to those problems. I imagine it might be a fair depiction of less-privileged life in a modern Japanese city, it certainly came across that these were real people. And then there is the increasing undercurrent of uncertainty about what exactly is going on here as the narrative elements develop which provides a dramatic tension that keeps you engaged.

In the end (trying to write this without making a spoiler) we are confronted with a deep question about what exactly a family is. Well worth watching, I can imagine a very similar story being told in a more familiar (English) milieu which makes this a truly great international film.

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The Measure of a Man

A French Daniel Blake? - not really.

(Edit) 04/06/2019

A bit the same territory as Daniel Blake in the first third, but without the edge, and then going on to follow him into rubbish work. Excellent sparse performance by the lead (Vincent Lindon) but in the end curiously unsatisfying. The underlying desperation of all the characters in Daniel Blake was missing, somehow you felt that they would all be ok despite everything. This was certainly not the outcome of Loach's masterpiece. Stephaie Brize has made a good observational film but failed to use drama get to grips with the underlying issues. Worth watching though to help realise that the situation in France (and elsewhere) under neo-liberal capitalism is the same as in the UK.

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A Very English Scandal

Ambition as a Cancer Eating the Establishment

(Edit) 04/06/2019

Excellent performances by both Grant (Thorpe) and Whishaw (Scott/Josiffe) and the supporting cast. Nice period touches by Frears. On the one hand a reminder of how far we have come as a society in 50 years on homosexuality. On the other hand a depressing reminder of how little has changed about the way the English establishment closes ranks and protects its own, even after finally being forced to take action against immorality and cancerous ambition in its midst.

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Arcadia

Some interesting content in an incoherent framework

(Edit) 04/06/2019

Despite containing much fascinating footage it is difficult to discern a pattern or intention, let alone meaning, in the montage.

It is claimed by some to be about our relationship with nature and the land (or something) - but I don't see that reflected here. There is a good non-documentary film to be made about this subject, but this isn't it. Frankly it is a bit incoherent.

Three stars solely because some of the archive clips are interesting in themselves, not for the whole as a movie which would get one star.

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Loveless

Very "Russian" but also very resonant to our own situation.

(Edit) 04/06/2019

Another slice of modern Russian middle-class life from Zvyagintsev (Elena, Banishment, Leviathan) reminding us how similar our societies now are.

The lovelessness of the title is the characters' lives; their empty mediated life produces tragic consequences in their reality.

Slow paced, sometimes satirical, a portrait of the alienation produced by the modern world. Zvyagintsev works in the tradition of great Russian film making, now totally accessible and comprehensible to an English audience.

The consequences of modern life laid bare.

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The Nile Hilton Incident

A real story about a real incident

(Edit) 28/01/2019

Cairo, 2011, cusp of a revolution, routinely corrupt system including police, a girl gets murdered in the Nile Hilton, a Somali maid (illegal immigrant) sees the killer leaving, the detective assigned proceeds to disentangle things uncovering a deeper plot...

Very well made, subtitled, based on a true story. The detective is very well acted and the character is complex with flaws and virtues and believable, the backdrop doesn't intrude. Like any 'noir-ish' film the plot sometimes seems tangled and you can loose track of who is working for who but in the end truth will out and out hero gains wisdom if not success.

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I, Daniel Blake

If it makes you ashamed to live in this society...

(Edit) 14/12/2018

....(and it should), then you need to do something about it.

I am furious that we treat well meaning people in this way. It is shameful that we have so lost touch with human values that workers can put up with dishing out this inhuman treatment to those who find themselves in difficulties.

Where there is a direct human connection - as shown between Daniel and Katie and the others who he lives around there is mutual support and care. Where "The System" intervenes between human relationships as shown between Daniel and the staff who are supposed to support him it is totally broken.

Possibly the only way to fix it is to burn down all social insecurity and nojob centres and start again. Those jobs (the benefits staff) should not exist in that form - lets do away with them and replace them with a system that actually works for people.

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The Unknown Girl

A Slice of Life Character Film

(Edit) 14/12/2018

The Dardennes brothers (who directed) are a bit like a French (or Belgian) Mike Leigh with a touch of the unexpected. Films that observe their characters and let us feel with them in the situation shown. The Unknown Girl is a fine example as the doctor mixes her feelings about leaving her socially responsible post as doctor in a poor area for a flash new clinic with her feelings about an unknown girl who gets murdered more or less on her surgery doorstep. Guilt drives her to investigate and we are taken along for the ride.

Finely acted, especially by Adèle Haenel as the young doctor and Louka Minnella as the boy Bryan who may or may not have something to tell.

It was good enough that we felt the need to watch it twice to pick up on some of the nuances.

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The Return

A fabulous modern Russian mood film

(Edit) 22/10/2018

Director Andrey Zvyagintsev went on to make Elena (2011) and Leviathan (2014). This, his first feature from 2003, clearly sets out his themes.

Reflective in pace, giving the cast a chance to fully inhabit the characters and reveal the narrative. Excellent cinematography, a simple story explored in depth, posing questions that extend you beyond the narrative.

In this one the two young actors playing the boys are outstanding - possibly the best child acting you will ever see. Tragically Vladimir Garin who plays the older brother died during post-production before the premiere. He was swimming in the same lake where the film was shot when he drowned.

This is modern Russian film making at its best.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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A Town Called Panic

A surreal gem

(Edit) 22/10/2018

A masterpiece of the surreal. Silly, crazy, unlikely, logical in its own world (and more or less in ours), escapist, surprising, cheap and cheerful, obviously a labour of love and obsession to make, hugely entertaining. A child's toy-box world complete and entire within itself.

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Mountain

A mish-mash that merely wastes an hour of your life

(Edit) 22/10/2018

Lots of nice snow and rock scenery but a bit of a mish-mash. Put together from various sources of mountain footage including much modern "extreme sports" helicopter stuff of fools doing absurd things. Places never identified. Random footage of buddhist monks never explained or integrated. Music doesn't really add anything. Voice-over typically portentous.

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The Party

Seven people trying to be clever and interesting and failing

(Edit) 23/07/2018

Silly stagey drama about tedious self-centred middle class people. Contrived and not even funny if you recognise the types on display. Has nothing to say and says it badly.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Free State of Jones

The best film yet about the American civil war

(Edit) 23/07/2018

Both a wonderful drama and a fascinating insight into a little known aspect of the American civil war. Tells a true story with conviction and sympathy.

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Rashomon

A classic that holds up reasonably well and perhaps has a contemporary point to make

(Edit) 23/07/2018

Its a classic which presages many elements in subsequent films. A bit slow paced at times with some over-expressive acting (but you could call that 'style'). The inner story told from four different points of view is not as outrageous as the main teller says, but as subject for a meditation on perception, ambiguity and reality it works well. In the end the truth is what you decide it is - which is perhaps something that resonates uncomfortably for us in these Trumpian times.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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