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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The Pirates of Penzance

Unwatchable

(Edit) 03/04/2015

The picture and sound quality on this DVD were so poor that I didn't watch more than 10 minutes. Impossible to either see or hear what was going on.

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Ghost Stories: Vol.4

Worth seeing one of the three films

(Edit) 06/12/2014

The Signalman is a classic ghost story which belongs with the MR James stories in the previous collections. Very convincing performance by Denholm Elliot. However the two modern ghost stories are weak with no sense of suspense or terror.

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Four Lions

Humour doesn't get much blacker than this

(Edit) 15/11/2014

You might think the subject matter of suicide bombers is far from a suitable subject for comedy but this film is very funny, just not in a laugh out loud way. Chris Morris and the cast actually achieve the difficult task of making the potential bombers sympathetic characters.

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Dead of Night

Classic Ealing portmanteau film

(Edit) 15/11/2014

Five stories of the supernatural or inexplicable told by the occupants of a country house. The stories range from the comic through some standard ghost stories to the two most disturbing tales, one involving a mirror and the one which everyone remembers about a ventriloquist. This last tale is a tour de force by Michael Redgrave as the ventriloquist who is either deranged or under the control of his dummy Hugo - we never really find out which. The black and white film is showing its age a bit but well worth seeing.

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Anna Karenina

Confusing

(Edit) 21/08/2014

Somewhere there's a good film to be made of Anna Karenina but this isn't it. The settings are so mannered, based around a theatre, as to be off-putting. Nor did I think that the lead characters carried enough weight. Disappointing.

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The Woman in Black

Old fashioned horror

(Edit) 21/10/2013

I didn't realise that Hammer Films were still in business but they have produced a good old-fashioned scary horror film here. Not a gory slash movie but a suspenseful, chilling ghost story in the MR James tradition. You will jump out of your seat at regular intervals. Daniel Radcliffe does, I think, do a good job as the lead despite the disadvantage of being obviously much too young to have been married, lost his wife in childbirth and acquired a seven year old son within the first five minutes of the film.

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Ludwig

Epic

(Edit) 20/09/2013

Of epic length at nearly 4 hours, this film feels that it needs a good edit to get an hour at least off the running time. Taking its lead from one of main characters - Wagner - it fails to sustain the viewers interest throughout. Which is a shame because it is an interesting historical story with a good performances from a number of actors - Helmut Berger has to carry the film. But it is obvious that the actors are all speaking different languages which have then been dubbed into Italian. Visconti also skirts round the sexual confusion which afflicts Ludwig.

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War Horse

Soppy and sentimental

(Edit) 05/09/2013

Black Beauty meets Blackadder Goes Forth - in fact the storyline is very little more than an updating of Black Beauty to the early part of the twentieth century. This was really too soppy and sentimental for my taste. Hardly a proper memorial for the millions of horses killed in the Great War and I'm afraid I didn't shed anything like a tear at any part of the film. It was just too unbelievable.

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Alice in Wonderland

Not the Alice I know

(Edit) 03/07/2013

The two Alice books are classics but this film has little to do with Lewis Carroll. Alice is a teenager; the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen somehow get merged into one character (with a massive head) and the Jabberwock is a first cousin to the Nazgul from the Lord of the Rings. Pointless. The psychology of Alice and Wonderland have been examined in much more illuminating detail by films which stuck to the original story.

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My Week with Marilyn

Fact or fiction?

(Edit) 27/01/2013

The principal problem with this film is that any attempt to portray the film star Marilyn Monroe is doomed to failure - only the real Marilyn could do that. The real Marilyn comes across in this film as manipulative and insecure - and who knows, she may have been. Branagh is good as Olivier - sometimes you have to look twice to check that it isn't Sir Larry himself - but more could have been made of the Vivien Leigh side of the story. Judi Dench does another of her little cameos as a socialist and sympathetic Dame Sybil Thorndike. Eddie Redmayne is OK - he has exactly the right background to play Colin Clark - but his eyes have only one expression - that of a halibut on a slab. As result any attempt at a smile just looks psychopathic.

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Shakespeare's Globe: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Elizabethan fun and frolics

(Edit) 16/12/2012

A solid antidote for anyone who struggled through Shakespeare at school. When you see the plays presented and acted like this, they make perfect sense and are really entertaining. Merry Wives has the advantage of being a bit of a slapstick comedy as well. Special mention to Christopher Benjamin as a fine, artful Falstaff.

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Anonymous

Good entertainment - unfeasible story

(Edit) 16/12/2012

An interesting and entertaining story if you can get past the fact that the whole storyline is rather risible. Not only are we meant to believe that Shakespeare didn't write all those plays (which might be arguable), he also is portrayed as an illiterate yobbo. In addition, a number of illegitimate royal offspring appear with potentially hilarious incestuous consequences. But it is a good story, well presented and pacey.

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A Single Man

Classy British acting

(Edit) 01/09/2012

A group of (mainly) British actors give a restrained, dignified set of performances. Colin Firth dominates the film and is in practically every shot. An interesting story line with a number of twists and turns kept me engaged. I agree with a previous reviewer - the "gay" tag is irrelevant.

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Shame

A bit pointless

(Edit) 18/07/2012

A weak storyline and characters who are uniformly unsympathetic made for a pretty tedious film. No redeeming features really.

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Lisztomania

Ken Russell does Liszt

(Edit) 06/07/2012

Poor old Liszt. Transformed by Ken Russell into a rock star, Liszt battles against the proto fascist Frankenstein meets Dracula figure of Richard Wagner. A bit of Metropolis, Strangers on a Train, Chaplin and Harpo Marx thrown in for good measure. I missed the kitchen sink but it must be there somewhere amongst the writhing naked bodies and phallic symbols. None of the stars or guest stars can act to save their lives with the possible exception of Paul Nicholas. The silliest Ken Russell film I've ever seen and that's saying something!

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