Film Reviews by RC

Welcome to RC's film reviews page. RC has written 31 reviews and rated 81 films.

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Locke

A boring drive down the M6

(Edit) 09/01/2022

A boring half story about a boring man. There was nothing interesting about the character, why make a film about him? An attempt to make a technically clever film - only one person in shot and only one location with the story told through the medium of phone calls - but frankly what was the point. Might have made an ok half hour radio play, but has no merit as a film.

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A White, White Day

A good example of the Arty-Slow genre

(Edit) 22/11/2021

The filmaking is excellent, Ingvar Sigurdsson's performance as the brooding Ingimundur carries the film along and the granddaughter (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir) is also very good.

At times the arty-slow pace becomes almost tedious, but never quite tips over into self-parody. There are a few oddities in the story-line which slightly mar the overall effect - but mostly these only become apparent when thinking about it afterwards as the film manages to gloss over them with its own logic.

Very reminiscent in style and pace of both The County (another Icelandic film) and Leviathan (Zvyagintsev's film set in Northern Russia) - if you enjoyed either of those you'll probably like this (and vice versa).

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Blinded by the Light

Feel Good Tears of Joy

(Edit) 12/09/2021

3/5 is perhaps a little low as a rating as there is so much good stuff - excellent performances from Vivek Kaira (Javid), Dean-Charles Chapman (Matt, Javid's school friend), Aaron Phagura (Roops, Javid's college friend and intro to The Boss), and Nell Williams (Eliza, Javid's girlfriend) and the adult supporting cast.

Lovely use of Springsteen's lyrics both on sound and on screen. Late 80's Luton very well evoked. Some good dance moves and ensemble playing.

Some obvious similarities with Bend It Like Beckham and nowhere near as tacky as classic bad feel-good movies like Love Actually or Notting Hill (or almost anything with Hugh Grant).

In the end lacking in 'edge' and staying well within the confines of safe narrative expectations - but if you accept it as that, it is very touching and uplifting.

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You Were Never Really Here

You'll wish you were never really there in the screening room

(Edit) 23/08/2021

Laying aside the fact that this was one of those really annoying DVDs that insist on making you watch a load of trailers before the film, this was pretty piss poor as a film anyway.

Watch Joaquin Phoenix lumbering around in semi-catatonic state. Attempt to catch the few scraps of mumbled dialogue that occur. Struggle to make sense of of the story when there pretty much isn't one. Struggle to concentrate against the mess of tuneless music dominating the soundtrack. Puzzle as to what the almost subliminal flashbacks mean - presumably attempting to show us that this despicable man living a despicable life in a despicable unnamed american city has some kind of soul and ancient traumas that explain it all. Marvel that he loves his mother - as if that wasn't one of the oldest cliches in the book; the killer with a heart of gold so we forgive him [...not].

Many film makers have foundered on the rocks of attempting to create a convincing film-noir, very few have succeeded - and Lynne Ramsay certainly hasn't here. Perhaps part of the problem is that the original film-noirs themselves were actually a bit of a mess - but they were fresh and different so seemed special at the time even as we failed to grasp why the Maltese Falcon was taking a Big Sleep. But this is much worse than that. There are no thrills, there is no puzzle, there is not even any particularly shocking violence or tenderness. We fail to identify with the lead character - and there are no other characters. - Mercifully it is only 90 mins long - but that is still 90 minutes you will never get back. Avoid this waste of time.

And talking of wastes of time why do some DVDs have compulsory trailers at the beginning. I don't mind watching trailers sometimes, they can even be useful in deciding what to see or avoid. But I don't want to be force fed them - just provide a menu entry like the "extras" - if you liked this film you might like these - then we can choose when to see them. Please sort this out Paradiso or should we start a campaign of defacing DVDs that auto-play trailers so you can't re-use them.

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Demain

Inspirational, but 6 years old

(Edit) 21/06/2021

Much better than I was expecting - well organised and interesting content strung together in 5 chapters leading to the conclusion another world is possible, and the first green shoots of that new world already exist.

Many documentaries dealing with this broad subject (ecological and climate emergency response) are either overly preachy and focused on one aspect of the problems, or simply onanistic filmmaking exercises that are ultimately part of the problem.

This one however manages to tread that delicate line between the two and provides some new (for 2014) insights

But that now (2021) begs the question what has happened since 2014 when it was being shot. Those first green shoots are still around, albeit in desperate need of watering and feeding, but everything bad has got worse - much worse. Why?

It used to be possible to believe a better world was achievable - but is it still? This might lead you down the path of concluding that physical destruction of infrastructure is now a necessary step.

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Harriet

A Good Story Well Told

(Edit) 21/06/2021

I enjoyed this tale, with the added piquancy of being based on a true story. Cynthia Erivo (Minty/Harriet) holds the screen as she progresses from cowed slave to inspiring commander. The photography is excellent throughout and the music track not too distracting.

It is a very conventional film, not really pushing any boundaries. Some of the chase scenes slightly stretch credulity - can a person really outrun a horse through fairly open woodland, can tracking dogs not catch her and loose the scent that easily - but these only require minor suspension of disbelief.

The whole business of Harriet being guided by the voice of god is handled well - whilst sensing danger and finding a safe river crossing can be read as minor miracles thanks to divine intervention, they can equally well be read as tapping into embodied wisdom, or even pure luck - so all sides are satisfied.

All in all I was well satisfied with this movie - not a classic but a good story well told.

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County Lines

Convincing view of a real issue

(Edit) 21/06/2021

Excellent performances by Conrad Khan as the 14 year old Tyler, and Ashley Madekwe as Toni, his mum.

Henry Blake has evidently tapped into his own experiences working in the front line of youth support to make this film, and both the story and the performaces throughout are entirely convincing.

We see how the children of the precariat become extremely vulnerable and susceptible to being sucked into dangerous choices. Thus the problems are handed down from generation to generation as the rich get richer.

The film is in similar territory to both the Education segment of Small Axe (2020) and Rocks (2019), all dealing with the impact of bad divisive policy on young people in difficult circumstances. Of the three Education has the most upbeat ending, whereas this leaves one very aware of the issue and some of the factors driving it but with no resolution in sight.

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Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

More about researching a film, than about Alice Guy.

(Edit) 13/06/2021

Firstly the sound balance on this DVD was appalling with the music backing track, whilst not intrusive, muffling the voice-over for much of the time.

Secondly there seems to be very little in the way of examples of Alice's actual films - possibly because so few have been found, although the film implies that many are available in archives (although possibly still on degraded and dangerous nitrate film-stock). Actually if you took all of the clips together and threw away much of the padding about researching the film it might be quite interesting.

A lot of the film seems to be taken up with graphics of animated dotted lines on a map illustrating the links between Paris and New jersey and Hollywood and all the places in between where Pamela Green went to talk to children and grandchildren of Alice. A lot more is taken up with a mosaic of clips of people, presumably all 'film people', saying they've never heard of her, and then how wonderful she was for unspecified reasons.

The best bits are when we see clips of her films and how the ideas have been recreated in later films - including the famous pram scene in Battleship Potemkin; it seems a young Eisenstien saw an Alice Guy film and it made a big impression on him.

All in all this could have been a really good 30 minute documentary about Alice Guy including a more chronological use of the available clips and without all the stuff about Pamela Green's research methods (she uses the internet, gasp!!!)

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2040

Is it possible in 19 years?

(Edit) 22/02/2021

Firstly this is a really well made film - the creative use of visual effects to inform and underline what is being said is the best I have seen on this subject. The lead character/director is engaging and seeks out some interesting possibilities using only what is already available today.

It avoids the pitfall of so many 'eco' films of being preachy and scary, he doesn't downplay the difficulties but makes an honest attempt to find solutions that could work for his daughter's future.

There is a slight whiff of eco-technic porn about some of the ideas - high-tech mass transport, the continuing prevalence of an internet and some shiny new fun gizmos without considering the resource cost implications, but on the whole he digs up some good ideas - micro-grids transforming the domestic energy landscape, communally owned personal transport, greening (plants) of cities by freeing the space taken by private cars, changes to diet, plus the education of women and their equality as a major driver for reducing resource use.

Overall much better than many attempts at this and probably achievable if it was not for the structural obstacles. System change requires more than simply sharing your energy with your neighbours (try that in the UK and you'll get a ton of regulation and law down on your head unless you also change the system that governs us).

Is it possible in 19 years? Only with revolutionary social changes worldwide. The film illustrates what might be possible if that were to happen - and as such is a useful vision of what could lie beyond a system change. But without system change no hope.

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The Shout

Its Not (quite) Cricket

(Edit) 24/12/2020

I remember seeing this when it first came out (1978) and thinking it a bit overblown. Just watched it again (2020) after it was featured in a list of films containing an English cricket match (a short list; The Go Between from the same period is another one, also with Alan Bates in a similar role)

It now seems a bit better than I remembered despite some inconsistencies and plot holes. Alan Bates, for all his brooding lumbering around, never quite pulls off the surreal menace that the role of Crossley, the man with The Shout That Can Kill, demands.

John Hurt as Anthony the philandering cuckold composer, seems unbelievably weak in the face of Crossley's invasion of his life, but that's what the role as written demands. Tim Curry as Robert Graves (yes the real one, he really did write the story the film is based on) listens to Crossley's tale with suitable wide-eyed innocence in the hut as they are scoring the locals versus loonies cricket match at the asylum.

The cast features many well known English actors of the period, including Susannah York getting her nipples out as usual and a young Jim Broadbent ripping his kit off to prance about in his pants in the thunderstorm that terminates the match, and the film. The Devon locations are an added bonus.

All in all an entertaining 90 minutes although not a great film by any means. (and there isn't that much cricket!). Worth 3/5 or 4/7 if you prefer a finer grained rating system)

Incidentally the synopsis here on Paridiso is incorrect in moment (Dec 2020) - its got the story the wrong way around.

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Green Book

Classic Road Trip Movie

(Edit) 02/11/2019

A really good film telling its story in an engaging way and getting you involved with both the leading characters who emerge as considerably more than their archetypes.

Excellent performances from both Mortensen and Ali carry the narrative forward.

A classic road trip movie. It is a mainstream Hollywood movie so expect some sentimentality and a happy ending (as maybe it happened for real!).

The background story/mileu is interesting as well, although not important unless you are hung up on the story of race relations in the USA - in which case I guess you'll either love it or hate it according to your preconceptions and prejudices and miss the opportunity to enjoy it as a good piece of movie making. Life is not black and white.

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Faces Places

Beautifull, Compelling, Varda at her best

(Edit) 02/11/2019

Visages Villages (the title in French) sees 89 year old artist/film maker Agnes Varda collaborate with 34 year old photo-muralist JR.

Together they embark on a voyage around France creating stunning works/installations as they go and cross fertilising both ways between the generations of artists as they go.

This is their story, and a delight filled one it is.

Agnes died aged 90 in March 2019 and this film together with "The Beaches of Agnes" 2008 makes a fitting legacy for someone at the heart of the post WWII French New Wave Cinema in the 60s (and incidentally, as a friend, one of only 6 people to attend Jim Morrison's funeral). A life well lived, for sure the new generation epitomised by JR will carry the baton forward.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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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.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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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.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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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.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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