Film Reviews by Pete W

Welcome to Pete W's film reviews page. Pete W has written 86 reviews and rated 740 films.

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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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Hindemith: A Pilgrim's Progress

Not up to previous standards

(Edit) 29/03/2017

I've generally enjoyed Tony Palmer's films about composers but this one left me cold. You get about 10 minutes of sketchy detail about Hindemith's life - mainly to prove that he's not one of those horrible Nazis. Then John Gielgud reads (very beautifully) relevant excerpts from Bunyan's PIlgrim's Progress against film footage of Germany under the Nazis and what I take to be tableaux vivants based on the medieval altarpiece which Hindemith used as the inspiration for the opera Mathis der Mahler. All this is accompanied by music which one can only assume is by Hindemith. Only at the final credits do we find out that the music is indeed from Mathis der Mahler. Surely there is more to be said about Hindemith than this and more of his music to be heard?

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The Searchers

Difficult to stomach

(Edit) 19/02/2017

No matter how much you admire the cinematography, the storyline is unpleasant and racist. Native americans are portrayed as murderous rapists, justifying their wholesale slaughter and the desecration of their bodies. The occasional attempt at humour falls flat against the "White cowboy - Good. Red indian - bad" moral of the story.

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Macbeth

Interesting take on Shakespeare

(Edit) 20/12/2016

Welles has some interesting ideas on Macbeth. Not all come off. The Scottish accents employed by the cast make the whole thing sound like a particular violent episode of Dr Finlay's Casebook. Good black and white photography - mainly black. Welles' costume at the end of the film makes him look like the Statue of Liberty. I don't think this is the version for you if you don't already know the play.

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Testament of Youth

Not as good as the old BBC TV version

(Edit) 10/12/2016

It must be difficult to take such a gripping and moving book as Testament of Youth and turn it into a mediocre film, but this is what has happened. Obviously some episodes and characters have to be omitted, but why include Winifred Holtby at all if you are just going to show her for 5 minutes and not explain her influence on Vera Brittain after the war. Kit Harington is badly miscast as Roland Leighton - Colin Morgan who is excellent as Victor would have made a much better job of it but presumably doesn't have the drawing power of a Game of Thrones star. I recommend that you seek out the BBC TV version of the late 1970s - much closer to the book and a better all round effort.

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Falstaff: Chimes at Midnight

Flawed but watchable

(Edit) 08/11/2016

It's a shame Orson Welles wasn't allowed to do a proper job of making this film. He is very watchable as Falstaff but the fact that he had next to no budget for this film shows. Poor quality sound and some pretty obvious use of stand-ins are symptoms of this. But put these to one side and there are some classic scenes here, directed by a master.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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A Short Film About Killing

Brutal and powerful

(Edit) 04/10/2016

A film about two killings, examined in forensic but unemotional detail. A teenage boy gratuitously and cruelly murders a taxi driver for reasons which are never very clear to us (and perhaps not to the boy either). The murder is shown in a lengthy sequence which is very disturbing. The film then moves very quickly to the next killing - the execution by hanging of the murderer by the state. This too is harrowing. The film's power derives from its almost documentary approach to two horrific acts of killing. The film is difficult to watch but, once seen, you won't forget it.

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'71

Tense

(Edit) 28/09/2016

A film that (for those of us old enough to remember it) makes you reflect on the role of the Army in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. Very difficult to decide exactly who are the heroes and villians in this scenario. Jack O'Connell is good in the leading role of the soldier left behind by his patrol in "enemy" territory and hunted by all sides for differing reasons. In some respects, the film reminds me of that 1940s classic "Odd Man Out" in which James Mason was on the run in Belfast.

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BBC Shakespeare Collection: Titus Andronicus

Gore galore

(Edit) 25/08/2016

Shakespeare's version of a revenge play is certainly full of gore and horror. Murder abounds, three hands and one tongue get hacked off, two characters get fed to another in a pie and I almost forgot the rape. As with the majority of the BBC Shakespeare, the settings are quite theatrical but there is a strong cast overall. Trevor Peacock and Edward Hardwicke as the elder Adronici are very good. The 100% evil character Aaron the Moor is suitably over the top as portrayed by Hugh Quarshie.

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Benjamin Britten: Nocturne

Recycling

(Edit) 08/04/2016

If you've seen Tony Palmer's other films about Britten, you've probably already seen about 50% of this film. The message that Britten was a pacifist is hammered home relentlessly and 40 years after his death, Britten is deployed in anti-Iraq War mode. Not very subtle. Britten's relationships with boys are glossed over and recent conjecture about the underlying cause of his serious health issues is ignored. I don't feel that this rehash adds anything to Palmer's earlier films.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Badly misjudged prequel

(Edit) 11/03/2016

Any similarities between this film and the 1960s TV series are purely coincidental. Napoleon Solo acquires a past as a war hero and art thief. Kuryakin has a bit of a temper. Plot is wafer thin and music is overpowering. Neither actor in the principal roles is a patch on Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

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American Sniper

Not brave enough

(Edit) 14/12/2015

I agree with NC. Enemy at the Gates is a much better film about the duel between two ace snipers. While this film attempts to address the personal trauma caused to soldiers by war, it doesn't have the nerve to really tackle the issues around whether war achieves anything. I suspect that the producers would have felt that it was unpatriotic to suggest that the Iraq War was at best pointless. Chris Kyle's status as a legend and hero has off course been cemented by his murder. This might have been a better film if it had taken Kyle's story as the basis for a drama, without such a close link to the real Kyle.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Fall of Eagles

Lengthy but gripping

(Edit) 13/10/2015

Nowadays, you are unlikely to see a 13 part series on the TV analysing the fall of the great European dynasties. But although this series of plays covers a lot of ground, it provides a good historical examination of Europe between 1848 and 1918. Occasionally, it bites off more than it can chew with the episode about Lenin's (Patrick Stewart - excellent) takeover of the Marxist opposition to the Tsar being rather impenetrable. A vast cast of 1970s stalwarts with some surprising appearances by Captain Peacock as Prince Albert and by most of the cast of Last of the Summer Wine as various characters such as Rasputin, von Luddendorf and assorted Russian politicians. The main characters are well cast with Charles Kay and Gayle Honeycutt as the Tsar and Tsarina - indecisive in the case of Nicholas and increasingly deranged in the case of the Tsarina. Barry Foster is particularly good as the Kaiser. At many points you start to feel sympathetic towards Wilhelm only to have that sympathy dashed by another piece of arrogance or insensitivity. You really do feel that the fall of the German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires was unavoidable given who was at the head of each dynasty.

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Sicily Unpacked

Fascinating insight

(Edit) 21/08/2015

Engaging presenters look at the art and cuisine of Sicily with more general observations on the culture, history and agriculture of the island. Good introduction to the region which doesn't gloss over the more shady recent past.

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Lilting

Bilingual film

(Edit) 14/08/2015

One character in this film speaks only in Mandarin, two are bilingual in Mandarin and English and the rest speak only English. So be prepared for lots of subtitles and translations. The film itself is quite static with long takes in which the camera acts as an observer - which works well when you have an actor of the stature of Ben Whishaw in front of you. But the story itself is not particularly strong - what to do with the non-English speaking mother of your dead boyfriend when she doesn't know that he was gay - or resolved. Whishaw is very moving as the mourning boyfriend though.

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