Film Reviews by Pete W

Welcome to Pete W's film reviews page. Pete W has written 85 reviews and rated 721 films.

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Always Say Yes

Explicit but not erotic

(Edit) 29/10/2019

Hector travels to Mexico City to pose naked. That never happens so he has sexual encounters with a number of men, all explicitly depicted. But it all seems rather joyless and mechanical. Not a particularly strong storyline to link all the characters.

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Mary Queen of Scots

Tudor feminism

(Edit) 24/10/2019

"Tudor feminism" is the title of one of the extras on this DVD and I think it tells you all you need to know about this film. Personally, I think both Elizabeth and Mary are stronger and more complex characters than they are allowed to be in this film. But the rivalry between them was many layered - the religious divide is glossed over, for example. In reality, the two main characters never met but a meeting has to be engineered for dramatic purposes (as it has been in other dramatic settings of the story). I'm not sure that if Elizabeth and Mary had met, the two would have been quite so understanding of each others position. At the end of the day, Mary tried to topple Elizabeth from her throne (or was trapped into expressing support for such a move) and paid the price.

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All Is True

Not Upstart Crow

(Edit) 19/10/2019

Perhaps some reviewers saw that this film was scripted by Ben Elton and expected a feature length edition of Upstart Crow. That is indeed a very enjoyable comedy but this is a different beast. Taking what little we know about Shakespeare’s life, the film shows Will at the end of his life having retired from playwriting dealing with the earlier death of his son and some inappropriate behaviour for the time from his daughters.  The film really benefits from having such Shakespearean luminaries as Branagh, Dench and (briefly) Mckellan in the lead roles, bringing their understanding of Shakespeare and his plays. An enlightening interview with Branagh and other extras explain a lot about the film and its production. Special mention to make up for making Branagh almost unrecognisable as Will.

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The Favourite

Almost lived up to the hype

(Edit) 23/07/2019

The problem with a film that gets so many accolades is that expectations are raised - sometimes unrealistically. You have to accept that this is not a historically accurate depiction of the events of this period. It uses them as a framework on which to hang a modern storyline. This is a period when women had a great impact at court and in politics but I doubt if every man at that time was a witless fop and a dandy, occupied in racing ducks. The lesbian triangle between the three main characters is a very shaky edifice, built on the fact that some letters between the Queen and Sarah Churchill were destroyed, which gets in the way of a story which is essentially about power and influence, not sex. The music in the film at times is awful - much too dominating and invasive.

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Kajaki

Horrifyingly realistic

(Edit) 20/07/2019

I expect this is as close as anyone is going to get to dramatising the experience of the British Army in Afghanistan. You cannot but sympathise with the plight of the soldiers who find themselves trapped in a minefield, sustaining horrific injuries. But, whilst admiring their heroism, you have to ask why the information about the minefield had not been passed on to them, why their communications equipment was so poor and why the Army didn't have the necessary equipment to extricate them - something which seems to have led to the death of one of the wounded. From the viewpoint of 2019, this looks like a pointless war which went on too long and cost too many lives. Be prepared for realistic soldier dialogue which can be a bit strong at times and confusing at the start of the film - but the drama of the situation soon takes over.

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Peterloo

Missed opportunity

(Edit) 18/07/2019

I don't think Mike Leigh's directorial style suited this subject matter. The film is way too long and flabby. Contrary to what the director might have intended, I didn't come away with much sympathy for the victims of the massacre. There are revolutionary and violent elements at work within the reform movement, Orator Hunt is a condescending and self important ass and the pantomime presentations of the villains of the piece - the Prince Regent, the government, the magistrates and mill owners, and anyone who doesn't "thee" and "thou" everyone else - is grating after a while. I want to find out more about the reform movement, the Great Reform Act and the Chartists but perhaps feature film is not the right medium.

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Mary Poppins Returns

Practically imperfect in every way

(Edit) 23/06/2019

OK, this is a very clever reworking of the original Mary Poppins story but it's nowhere near as entertaining. The parallels with the first film are very close - sweeps become lamplighters, there's a cartoon element accessed via a porcelain bowl rather than a street painting, Uncle Albert has turned into Meryl Streep - and there are some nice homages to the original characters and songs. But the songs really let it down - nothing of the calibre of the songs in the original. Dick van Dyke's appearance is a highlight as he's the only cast member who conveys any of the feel good factor of the first film although he's obviously been passing on his linguistic Cockney skills to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Peter Rabbit

Not impressed

(Edit) 19/01/2019

Wonder how much Harrods paid to be in this film? Why anyone would think it wise to update Peter Rabbit I’ve no idea. And what is the target audience? Hardly a children’s film.

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Seat in Shadow

Incomprehensible tosh

(Edit) 10/01/2019

I'm glad the blurb about the film told me it was a comedy - I would never have known otherwise. No idea what the point of the film was.

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Hacksaw Ridge

Remarkable story based on fact

(Edit) 23/08/2018

Well I never knew that a conscientious objector in WW2 won the equivalent of the VC - and deserved it. Yes the battle scenes are very graphic but I expect the real Battle of Okinawa was pretty graphic too. Elements of Saving Private Ryan and Gallipoli appear in this film and kudos to Desmond Doss for resisting attempts to film his life story earlier as it wouldn't have been accurate - apparently Audie Murphy wanted to get his hands on the film rights - but there are some throwback elements to the war films of the 1950s here. The Japanese are all untrustworthy suicidal maniacs and no questions are raised at their barbecuing at the hands of the American flame throwers. The film would have benefited from being cut by about 20 minutes and there is a sudden jump from initial training, with Doss suffering at the hands of his officer, NCO and fellow GIs, to the battle of Hacksaw Ridge where he is revealed to be a hero. But a film worth watching for the story it reveals.

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Lion

Thought provoking and emotional journey

(Edit) 22/07/2018

Excellent film. In the first half, we see how a 5 year old child can get lost in India and almost overwhelmed. The child is rescued from dire conditions on the streets of Calcutta and in a Dickensian orphanage and brought up in Australia, but as a young man becomes increasing driven to find his way back to his village and mother in India. Google Earth turns out to be his means of achieving this. Good acting by Dev Patel as the young man and Sunny Pawar as the child. Others have found the film too long but I didn't. It gripped me throughout. Make sure you watch the final section of the film to see the real life characters on which it is based and to find out exactly how the boy Saroo came to be lost.

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Dunkirk

Bring back Jonnie Mills

(Edit) 19/06/2018

They knew how to make war films in the 1950s - even if they are black and white and pre-CGI. I found this a grave disappointment. Hardly any acting to speak of and horrendously unrealistic. The RAF seems to consist mainly of Tom Hardy in a Spitfire with unlimited supplies of ammunition and the ability to glide around over Dunkirk without power and still shoot down Stukas. Similarly, Ken Branagh plays the Royal Navy single handedly. Not a very inspiring tribute to all those who were involved at Dunkirk.

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God's Own Country

Brokeback Mountain meets Ilkley Moor bah tat

(Edit) 28/02/2018

A rather familiar storyline very much based on Brokeback Mountain and some of the scenes and motifs are a direct lift - strip down washes in a bucket, skinny dipping, left behind clothing - but I don't think this detracts from the story. Unlikely to do much to encourage people to take up farming in Yorkshire amongst the racists in the pub, it is a touching story of how an emotionally repressed young farmer gradually realises that he needs help and support from an immigrant worker with whom he has developed a relationship more meaningful than the quick shags in the back of his trailer or in pub toilets. Good performances from the two leads but strong support too from Gemma Jones as a grandmother who knows more than she lets on and Ian Hart as father incapacitated by a stroke.

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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La La Land

Yuck

(Edit) 06/08/2017

Really struggled to get through this. I have no idea how it won so many awards. The music is totally forgettable (ever heard anything from the soundtrack album?) and the limited dancing doesn't get anywhere near Gene Kelly standard. Even Frank Sinatra could dance better than Ryan Gosling. Horrible schmaltzy storyline which almost parodies one of those old Rock Hudson/Doris Day films. Girl meets boy; girl hates boy; boy pretends to hate girl; girl starts to have second thoughts; bedroom scene. Avoid.

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Taxi Zum Klo

Groundbreaking but very explicit

(Edit) 18/04/2017

The film depicts gay life in West Berlin in the pre Aids era. On one hand, it is a realistic story about the relationship between two men. One is fairly conventional, the other (on the face of it a respectable primary school teacher) is driven by the need to seek promiscuous sex which undermines the relationship. Amusing at times it is also graphically sexually explicit, but not in a pornographic way.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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