Film Reviews by TE

Welcome to TE's film reviews page. TE has written 290 reviews and rated 300 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Underground

A film that has been overtaken by history

(Edit) 12/06/2021

This blu-ray issue consists of the cinema version of 'Underground' and a second disc containing the 4-part television mini-series that was edited down to the final cinema cut (which is still nearly 3 hours long).

Emil Kusturica was once a feted world cinema director, but his status has been diminished by the politically controversial nature of some of his films, especially this one, 'Underground'. He has been accused by many people of being an apologist for the brutal nationalism of the former Serbian regime. 'Underground' certainly gives a very partial account of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and the treatment of the non-Serbian characters (especially the Bosnians) is regrettable, though Kusturica is on record as having no regrets. Nowadays his reputation is intact only within Serbia.

The film still carries a powerful, slightly manic energy, and the music is great. But overall the narrative is compromised by the director's political agenda, which has not stood the test of time.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Pledge

Partly rescued by a great cast

(Edit) 09/06/2021

Sean Penn certainly assembled a very fine cast for this, his second film as director. Apart from Jack Nicholson as lead, there are cameos for Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Sam Shepard, Benicio Del Toro, Paricia Clarkson and Harry Dean Stanton, as well as a good role for Robin Wright Penn.

Nicholson gives one of his better late-career performances, but the whole enterprise is let down by a dull script and a far-fetched narrative. Would Lori really be attracted to the crumpled, nondescript retired cop? Would that same retired cop really try to use Lori's 8 year old daughter as "live bait" to catch a predatory paedophile?

The interest is sustained by the gritty reality of the smalltown setting, and Penn is good at giving us the incidental details.

The opening sequence tells the viewer the film's ending, which is a shame as it reduces any tension in the final section.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Elvira Madigan

All You Need Is Love. Possibly...

(Edit) 09/06/2021

The real life story of Elvira Madigan, a celebrity tightrope walker, and Count Sixten Sparre is one of the world's great romantic tales. In this 1967 movie, Swedish director Bo Widerberg gives it the full 'love is all that matters' treatment.

It's worth suspending all contemporary cynicism and allowing yourself to be swept along by the sheer bliss of the lovers' rapture, and by the beautiful strains of Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto (which became an unlikely hit as a result of this film and which is now referred to on cd labels as "Mozart's Elvira Madigan Concerto").

Of course, we know from the start that such happiness cannot last, but that is the whole point: nothing can stand in the way of true love, not hunger, not friends, not family, not even the fear of death.

Over 50 years on it is hard to imagine such a grandly Romantic film being made these days. But, as in the Elvis Costello song, it's worth asking: "What's so funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding"?!

Pia Degermark looks stunningly beautiful in the lead role, and you would think that she was set fair for a great career. However, her life seems to have been blighted by anorexia, drugs and financial fraud leading to prison. Still, 'Elvira Madigan' is an incredible artistic peak to have been part of.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Las Acacias

No words for how good this is!

(Edit) 04/06/2021

It's tempting to write a detailed review of this superb film, a chunk of words to describe the subtle nuances of character, longing, isolation and hope that underpin the simple narrative. But, in keeping with the minimalist brilliance of 'Las Acacias', suffice to say that this is humane, emotionally intelligent cinema at its very best.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Let Him Go

Dances with Yokels

(Edit) 04/06/2021

'Let Him Go' promises plenty but in the end it proves to be something of an unresolved mix between gritty family drama and gung-ho violence.

The build-up is slow and carefully paced, sustained by a solid performance from Diane Lane. If her performance is 'solid', Kevin Costner is more 'stolid'. Looking heavy in face and body, Costner never seems to get out of second gear from start to finish.

The film sets out to be a realistic portrayal of a family crisis and the emotional abuse of a child, but in the final third all parties suddenly start taking ludicrously unrealistic decisions.

It ends up looking like a rejected episode of the 'Fargo' series: civilised people versus the backwoods crazies (who are led by Lesley Manville in a curious departure from her usual roles). The 'Fargo' effect is completed by the presence of Jeffrey Donovan among the villains, delivering his trademark loony grin psycho performance.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Comes a Horseman

Mediocre western lifted by the settings

(Edit) 01/06/2021

For fans of the Western film genre there's enough to enjoy here to merit a 3-star rating: a very good cast (Richard Farnsworth effortlessly eclipsing Fonda, Caan and Robards); a classic little folks versus the cattle baron storyline; and, best of all, some stunning landscapes.

However, Pakula just doesn't seem able to get the whole thing off the ground. The narrative has no pace, and the key character of the cattle baron isn't developed sufficiently to make his actions credible.

The editing is patchy and it has the feel of a would-be epic movie spoilt by leaving too much on the cutting-room floor.

One oddity is the orange Afro sported by James Caan (the one on his chest as well as the one on his head).

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

About Endlessness

Perhaps the last work of a contemporary master

(Edit) 01/06/2021

This is probably not the best Roy Andersson film to begin with if you are new to his work (watch 'Scenes From the Second Floor', 'You the Living' and 'A Pigeon Sat on a Branch...' before this one) but it does summarise the key themes of his earlier films.

Once again the Samuel Beckett comparisons are well justified. The boundaries between tragedy and comedy are constantly teased and tested. Andersson is particularly good at bringing out profoundly humane qualities in both day-to-day scenarios and scenes of transcendant power.

To fully appreciate 'About Endlessness' it helps to take in the recent documentary 'Being a Human Person', where Andersson talks about his latest work with quiet passion and dry humour.

It is sad to learn that 'About Endlessness' is Andersson's final film. Each of his movies takes a very long time to make, with even the apparent outdoor scenes elaborately staged in his studio / home.

Fittingly, his films are now receiving overdue worldwide acclaim.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

In Bloom

A woman director's skills in full bloom

(Edit) 27/05/2021

Here comes a polar opposite review to the other one on here (by "Alphaville").

'In Bloom' is a powerfully engaging coming of age drama by the very talented Nana Ekvtimishvili, whose more recent film, 'A Happy Family', has to be one of the outstanding world films so far this century.

Ekvtimishvili examines the changing roles of women in the male-dominated, ultra-conventional culture of Georgia. Here her young female lead actors give brilliant performances. Most of the cast are not professional actors and the whole film has a convincingly naturalistic feel.

There are subtle references to the politics of the region in the immediate aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union, but it is the vibrant personal stories that resonate the most.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

County Lines

Hard shell, soft centre

(Edit) 27/05/2021

Sadly there's not enough originality in this stark tale to set it apart from all the other gritty insights into the underworld of drugs, violence and child exploitation.

As time goes by, the makers of such movies feel the need to focus on some previously neglected horror. Here it is the use of the drug mule's rectum to carry illegal substances, hence the particularly nasty wounds inflicted on him.

Hopefully it is a film that might serve as a warning to some young viewers. It certainly portrays essential truths about life in parts of inner-city Britain, but this aspect is rather let down by a soft-centred ending that runs counter to everything that has preceded it.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Being a Human Person

A fine testament to a modern genius

(Edit) 24/05/2021

Roy Andersson is a uniquely brilliant film maker, a master at creating superb blends of comedy and tragedy. Sadly Andersson has announced that his 2020 film 'About Endlessness' is to be his last.

This is hardly surprising as he is now 78 years old and his films take a very long time to make. At least we now have this documentary, 'Being a Human Person', to mark Andersson's achievements and to provide insights into his art.

The documentary itself is revealing and engaging. The blu-ray disc also contains some special features which are essential viewing to complement the main film. Mike Leigh's contribution is especially enlightening.

Best of all, this disc drives the viewer back to the films themselves. They certainly repay multiple viewings.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Urban Cowboy

Forgettable fun!

(Edit) 22/05/2021

Something of a 1980 time capsule, with Travolta badly mis-cast as a Texan trailer trash mechanical bull rider. Fortunately, the film is carried by an excellent pantomime villain performance by Scott Glenn, and by a lithe, sexy turn from Debra Winger.

It's a film with its own rude energy, full of denim, Stetson hats and a lot of great dancing (though not by Travolta). A high point is the Dolly Parton look-alike contest, closely followed by the well chosen cheesey country soundtrack.

Compared to Robert Altman's superb 'Nashville', this film is really trivial and one-dimensional, but it gets by as an enjoyable piece of hokum.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Liverpool

A Quiet Masterpiece

(Edit) 19/05/2021

The director of 'Liverpool', Lisandro Alonso, is best known for the excellent 'Jauja', so it is a pleasure to be able to see one of his earlier works.

'Liverpool' is part of Alonso's "Lonely Man" trilogy and is set in the southernmost area of Latin America, the remote township of Ushuaia in Argentina. The central character is Farrel, a sailor who goes on a short journey back to his home village, which he had left under a cloud some twenty years ealier.

No professional actors are used, and Farrel is played by a resident of Ushuaia, a snow plough driver called Juan Fernandez.

The backstory remains mysterious, although there are some telling hints embedded in the imagery on screen. In fact, it is all about the detail in the images before us as there is hardly any dialogue at all.

Alonso succeeds in immersing us in this remote, quiet world. Just as the viewer begins to wonder why the film is called "Liverpool", all is revealed in a final moment of poignant symbolism.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

La Leon

Satisfyingly slow and carefully paced film

(Edit) 10/05/2021

One of the pleasures of 'World' cinema is the insight it often affords into little known areas of the planet. Here the narrative is set in the watery estuary lands of the thinly populated north of Argentina.

It's a hard-scrabble life and the central character, Alvaro, is isolated by his sexuality and by his love of books. From the outset his persona is threatened by the macho, racist El Turu.

We see a series of vignettes of life on the small island, all shot in a slightly misty grey-and-white. Many of the lingering shots are very beautiful, but there is an air of mounting menace that the director, Santiago Otheguy, maintains very well.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Charulata

The Eyes Have It!

(Edit) 03/05/2021

This is a master-class in film direction, full of superb detail but with nothing spare or unconnected to the artful narrative.

Shot in a beautiful, creamy black-and-white, this is a film that comes close to cinematic perfection. The lighting, the acting, the subtleties of the story itself, all combine to produce a wonderfully satisfying work of art.

Not content with simply reproducing the Tagore story, Ray introduces several brilliant flourishes: the opening sequence using the opera-glasses, the scene on the swing in the garden, and the final freeze-frame are just the most obvious examples.

The personal emotions are set within a historical context, but it is the love story that cooks within the crucible of the beautifully styled house that matters most.

And above all else is the non-verbal acting of Madhabi Mukherjee, whose eyes express more in a single shot than most actors can manage in a lifetime (forgive the hyperbole...just watch 'Charulata' and you'll see what I mean!).

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Love Witch

Using sleaze to good advantage

(Edit) 03/05/2021

This is such a good parody-movie that I felt the need to double-check the year in which it was made.

Anna Biller, the director, seems to have done pretty much everything in the background production yet she has still found time to introduce a nicely sharp feminist angle into the absurd proceedings.

Everything is pitch perfect: the garish colours; the lingering close-ups of Samantha Robinson's heavily made-up eyes; the mannered, ponderous acting; the cheapness of the props; the Dulux blood; the camp nudity. It all looks like the cover of a trashy 1960 pulp paperback novel.

I'm not sure that Biller has managed to balance the 'message' behind the film with the sheer fun elements, but it makes me want to see more of her work.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
1234567891020