Film Reviews by LC

Welcome to LC's film reviews page. LC has written 55 reviews and rated 303 films.

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When the Wind Blows

A snapshot of its time

(Edit) 14/11/2020

I expect this film had much more impact on release, when people were living under the daily threat of nuclear holocaust. Watching it for the first time now, I'm not entirely sure how well it holds up. It's nicely made, and obviously well-meaning, but the actual storyline is so thin it's barely there, with this clearly being more of a political warning of the time than a rounded drama.

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The Garden of Words

On the cheesy side...

(Edit) 14/11/2020

This very short animated feature starts off as a nicely understated romance, but unfortunately climaxes with some fairly ripe melodrama. Some solid themes, but ultimately it's all a bit heavy-handed (possibly the fault of the English dub?), and in the end comes across as a fairly cheesy romance. Still, some pleasant animation, and with a running time of only 45 minutes it's unlikely to outstay it's welcome by too much.

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Prince of Darkness

A near-total misfire

(Edit) 29/10/2020

Stylistically, this is recognisably a John Carpenter movie, with another group of isolated characters battling for survival, set against a moody synth soundtrack - unfortunately however, it falls flat on pretty much every level. Where the mix of SF and horror worked brilliantly in 'The Thing', here the attempt to merge supernatural horror with scientific theory just feels messy, whilst the threat element is too nebulous ( we have an eerie glowing container, murderous tramps, zombies who shoot water from their mouths, people who turn into bugs, and a demon from a mirror dimension) to act as a strong hook. Worst of all, the characters are all flat and uninteresting, so it's hard to care when they die anyway - even Donald Pleasance can't save this script.

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I Confess

Staying silent

(Edit) 28/10/2020

A reasonably solid Hitchcock thriller, though the ending veers towards rather extreme melodrama. Ultimately this film will succeed or not depending on how much sympathy you have for the central character's dilemma. Presumably at the time this film was made, there was considered to be something vaguely noble in a priest keeping a criminal's confidence - following numerous real-life scandals regarding church cover-ups, I'm not sure how much of this will hold much water for a modern audience. A more in depth exploration of the moral aspect might have been nice, but as it is, this film is more concerned with the nuts and bolts of the plot.

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Dark Passage

Refreshingly odd

(Edit) 23/10/2020

The plot of this film noir thriller is quite hard to take at times, with a few wildly unlikely moments and coincidences. However, it's redeemed by some inventive direction - particularly the first half, where everything is either shot from the point of view of Bogart's character, or so that his face isn't shown (he does eventually appear on camera, but it takes so long, I was beginning to wonder if the producers had decided to save money by just hiring Bogart for a voice-over and getting a stand-in for the physical scenes). The hero's quest to clear his name also doesn't play out in quite the way you might expect, leaving this a slightly odd but interestingly different film.

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A Rainy Day in New York

Glossy rich kids romcom

(Edit) 23/10/2020

An amiable and watchable romantic comedy, with some decent performances (particularly from Elle Fanning), though occasionally the dialogue creaks a bit, as all the young leads seem to have cultural references of people at least twice their age. The colourful cinematography and opulent locations make everything look gorgeous, though there is a slight flip-side to this: everyone involved is sickeningly, hideously rich - and ultimately it can become quite hard to care for the emotional struggles of these privileged elites who one suspects will never know a day's real hardship in their lives. Still - it's nice to look at, and plays out entertainingly enough. (3.5 out of 5)

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The Invisible Man

A new angle, but an average film.

(Edit) 15/10/2020

This very loose updating of HG Welles classic does at least have the benefit of some novelty on its side, which is no bad thing (does anyone really need another straight re-telling of the original story?), but it's only partially successful as a movie in its own right. There are some good conceptual ideas here - primarily the notion of the heroine being gaslighted by the title character, but once the invisible action kicks in it all becomes very silly. Leaning much more heavily in the direction of SF than horror (there are no real scares to be found here at all), ultimately this felt like some half-baked urban remake of 'Predator'.

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1917

Looks great...but it has some issues

(Edit) 05/10/2020

Visually this film is stunning, and worth a watch just on that level, with amazing sets, camerawork and cinematography. However, the flipside is that everything is so artfully composed that it ends up losing any sense of reality, with the constant smooth gliding of the camera giving the feel of either a computer game, or a sanitised, glossy Hollywood production, rather than more gritty war films of the past. The script also tends towards Hollywood sentimentality at times, whilst both the lead characters make baffling decisions when confronted with the enemy, on multiple occasions putting their lives in danger, rather than actually do the obvious thing of raising their guns and immediately shooting their opponents. Still - worth watching just for the eye candy. (3.5 out of 5)

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The Gentlemen

3 star film, raised to 4 stars thanks to Hugh Grant

(Edit) 12/09/2020

In its own right, this is a decent British gangster flick, with a few good lines and moments. The only real downside is that Guy Ritchie is clearly playing in the same territory as 'Snatch' and 'Lock Stock', and this film doesn't have anywhere near the verbal wit or visual style of those films, so it pales in comparison. However, on the plus side, Hugh Grant is incredible here in a role so different to his usual posh buffoon persona that he is almost unrecognisable - every time he comes on screen he is hugely entertaining, and it's pretty much worth a watch for his performance alone.

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Magic

Gottle o geer!

(Edit) 06/09/2020

A solid horror in the 'Psycho' mode, this is well made but lacks the spark of anything truly original to push it into 'classic' territory. The killer ventriloquist's dummy is a fairly standard horror trope, and one that's been done several times before (this film was certainly not the first) - this film tackles the subject well enough, and there are a few minor twists along the way, but ultimately it doesn't really bring anything new to the table. It's well shot, there's a nice score, and Hopkins is excellent in the main role - the only downside is that it's all slightly predictable. (3.5 out of 5)

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Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

(Edit) 05/09/2020

A mix of documentary and drama, with about an even split between narrated sections and dramatic recreations. A generally solid effort, if obviously constrained by budget (any battle scene has to rely on cutaways of a few screaming faces), this manages to provide an informative overview of the time period. Clearly originally intended for TV broadcast however, which means that every 15 minutes we get mini-climaxes, teases for the future and reprises - obviously there were originally ad breaks, and these were designed to keep the viewers attention, but they really should have been edited out for this compilation, as it just adds needless repetition.

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Color Out of Space

Color Out of Space

(Edit) 20/08/2020

A good, solid adaptation of Lovecraft's classic horror story, without quite reaching the status of 'classic'. The main issue any visual adaptation is going to have is that the colour in the original is something so alien it cannot even be described, whereas here they've gone for a shade of purply-pink, so it's never going to feel quite as unnerving as the source material. Other than updating to the present day, the film pretty much follows the beats of the original story, and largely successfully so. In many ways this feels like a throwback to such 80's rubbery horror films as 'From Beyond' and Carpenter's 'The Thing', which is no bad thing. Slight in terms of plot, this is all about build up and atmosphere, before descending into full blown madness at the end. It may well feel slightly derivative to modern audiences unfamiliar with the original 1927 story, but that's really just an indication of how many people have tapped into that infected well of ideas since.

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The Idiots

Not so idiotic

(Edit) 09/08/2020

I was slightly worried this was going to be 110 minutes of improvised idiocy, but it actually turned out to be a much better structured piece of storytelling than I was expecting. The central premise of faking mental illness for fun is pretty shocking and taboo, an issue the film doesn't shy away from confronting head on, but it does also raise some interesting notions regarding 'polite society', and people's varying reactions to the disabled. The grainy home-movie style cinematography doesn't make this pleasant to look at (certainly compared to Von Trier's other films), but it probably helps to keep the film feeling it bit more real than a more polished product might. We get a good glimpse of an enclosed society, its internal power struggles, and some quite moving storylines for some of the characters - if I have one major criticism, it's that not all of them are fully explored to an equal level, so sometimes it can be hard keeping track of who's who. Obviously a film that will only appeal to arty-farty types, but well worth a watch if you want something different and interesting.

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The Beach Bum

Stylish, but little substance

(Edit) 09/08/2020

This film shares a lot of surface similarities with 'Spring Breakers', again focusing on crass hedonistic party people in sun-drenched Florida, but ultimately it's nowhere near as successful. Matthew McConaughey is on good watchable form as a constantly wasted alcoholic who stumbles through a series of misadventures, yet always seems to emerge smelling of roses. The storyline is incredibly slight however, and the film concentrates so much on the title character (who is in practically every scene), that hardly any of the supporting cast get much development. It looks nice, and there are some mildly amusing sequences throughout, but the content is so thin that even at a brisk 87 minutes it starts to drag a bit after a while.

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Ulysses 31

80's nostalgia blast

(Edit) 18/07/2020

I have dim memories of watching this as a child in the 80's on CBBC, so thought I'd see what it's like all these years later. Sometimes nostalgia doesn't stand up to modern-day scrutiny, but this cartoon has held up very well. A science fiction twist on ancient Greek myths, some episodes are more simplistic than others, but there's enough going on to hold the attention of an adult viewer. The picture isn't as sharp as modern viewers might expect, but the animation is still impressive, and there are loads of great spaceship and monster designs. Only one real criticism - this series features possibly the greatest theme song of any 80's kids TV show, yet for some bizarre reason the opening titles have been edited down to half their actual length, cutting the song in half - madness, but at least it's still on youtube!

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