Film Reviews by TE

Welcome to TE's film reviews page. TE has written 147 reviews and rated 151 films.

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Birds of Passage

Dark but brilliant.

(Edit) 08/10/2019

This is a highly original take on the familiar theme of Family and Drug Cartels.

By going back to the early years of the drug trade between Latin American countries and the USA, Gallego is able to explore the grey areas between family traditions and capitalist business. As in real life, it is the latter that wins out, and by the end we could be watching any given episode of Narcos.

The rule of business and violence is reflected in the changes of dress, homes and language. However, the older spirits are never completely banished, as can be seen in the quietly constant presence of significant birds.

The prevailing message of the film is that we never learn and that cycles of revenge and greed produce a bitter nihilism.

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High Life

Dismal career-wrecker of a film

(Edit) 08/10/2019

This is a film that fails to work on any of the levels it aspires to.

As a narrative it is hopelessly lost in a scattergun array of flashbacks. As sci-fi it has nothing new to say. As arthouse cinema it is miserably pretentious and dull.

Juliette Binoche must have owed Claire Denis a big favour to have allowed herself to be part of this awful turkey of a film.

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Burning

All this and a cat named 'Boil'

(Edit) 04/10/2019

Another fine film from the South Korean stable of intelligent directors.

The movie starts as if it is going to be an entertaining absurdist comedy, but things get darker. Jongsu's isolation (especially in company) is emphasised by his recurrent masturbation fantasies. He is the abandoned child with the frozen persona and the vivid inner life.

Is Ben a playboy serial killer? What happened to the lissom Haemi?

These key narrative questions become less important than the brooding build up of tension.

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Intimate Relations

Revealing time capsule

(Edit) 02/10/2019

This is a real oddity. Made only 23 years ago, but it feels as if it was made much earlier, even allowing for the fact that it is based on a crime committed in the mid-1950s.

It has the bawdy energy of a knockabout comedy, despite the seriousness of the events portrayed. And contemporary viewers will find some of it quite problematic e.g. the way that the murderer (who in real life turned out to be a vicious sex offender) is presented as a victim of a domineering landlady and her "precocious" 13 year old daughter.

That 13 year old is played by Laura Sadler, who later joined the cast of Holby City before her terrible and untimely death.

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Out of Blue

Drearily disappointing

(Edit) 30/09/2019

An object lesson in the dangers of trying to be too clever. The basic story within the film is fine, but it's hidden behind the woozy smokescreen that wafts around Patricia Clarkson's semi-comatose homicide detective.

I like Patricia Clarkson, and I have liked Carol Morley's films up to now (especially Dreams of a Life) but this is just too precious and ponderous.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Amazing Grace

Wopw! What a voice!

(Edit) 30/09/2019

Sheer brilliance: the music, the voice, the backdrop, the heart and the soul.

This is a wonderful recording of Aretha in full flow. I'd love to have seen her perform live, but this is the next best thing.

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The Virtues

Best mini-series ever?

(Edit) 24/09/2019

Shane Meadows is at the very top of his game in this extremely powerful mini-series.

The tension builds relentlessly towards a magnificently handled conclusion. But, do watch the Extras at the end of the second disc for equally credible and brilliant alternative endings.

Stephen Graham has become one of the finest actors around, and his performance here is magnetically good.

As ever with Meadows, the domestic and community settings are perfectly captured.

It's hard to say more without giving the core of the story away, suffice to say this is absolutely top drawer film making.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Pin Cushion

Bitter pill with a saccharine ending

(Edit) 17/09/2019

Despite the fantasy sequences this film purports to tell a credible story, but the cruelties and the inconsistencies are just too relentless.

It becomes an inflated melodrama rather than a tragedy, but with a ludicrously happy ending tacked on seconds after the shocking culmination of the chain of nastiness.

It has the feel of a student project which has somehow attracted enough funding to support a feature length film.

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Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Superb film about a great band

(Edit) 13/09/2019

Pretty much the perfect rock music documentary, long enough to do justice to the brilliance of its subject, and with some great 'special features' as well.

Big Star's three albums are now recognised as artistic triumphs: the first two are packed with sublime tunes and lyrics that blend exuberance with pain. The third album has some fillers, but also has a core of astonishing songs, a suite of gorgeous melodies combined with bitterly tragic lyrics.

The film gives an excellent record of the band and of the individuals concerned.

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Loro

Totally assured film-making.

(Edit) 03/09/2019

This film deserves 10 stars let alone 5! A fascinating satirical take-down of Silvio Berlusconi, in which the satire is administered via both a velvet glove and a sledgehammer.

As with The Great Beauty, the filming is simply gorgeous. Every frame is like a beautiful still composition in itself.

The sets are sumptuous, and the soundtrack lives up to Sorrentino's reputation for being the world's best director of sound and image.

The clinching brilliance in Loro is the way in which Sorrentino reveals Berlusconi as a prototype for Donald Trump, in background, in personality, in megalomania, and in sleaze.

This is Sorrentino back at the top of his game.

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Fighting with My Family

No originality here!

(Edit) 03/09/2019

Worth 1 extra star for the energetic performance by Florence Pugh, otherwise this film is a ragbag of every tired old cliche to be found in movies about sport.

Professional wrestling is so completely scripted and rigged that it hardly qualifies as sport. It is more like a clownish soap opera with acrobatics thrown in. This makes the triumphant ending quite bizarre. How can you celebrate someone "winning" when it has all been scripted and agreed in advance? That's showbiz I suppose!

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The Human Condition Trilogy

Landmark in world cinema

(Edit) 29/08/2019

It's tempting to write a lengthy piece in a vain attempt to convey the glories of this trilogy.

I'll resist that temptation and just say that it is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in film history, or a passing interest in the human species.

The film explores timeless moral questions.

Don't be put off by the 9 hour length. Savour it, it's more than worth it.

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The White Reindeer

Myths of desire and ice

(Edit) 11/08/2019

This is a wonderful artefact from the rich treasury of Scandinavian folkloric films about witches.

It is also a stark example of the films and literature that express sexual anxiety via transformation into animals.

It is an intense, hard-boiled narrative told with frame after frame of beautiful wintery landscapes. It is also a classically misogynistic tale about the dangers of female desire.

The director presents an unvarnished story, leaving us to make the leap towards a rejection of irrational superstition.

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Mountain

Superficial shiny happy documentary

(Edit) 11/08/2019

Two stars for the various sequences of beautiful mountain ranges shot from helicopters, but that's about all the film has to offer.

The content of the voiceover could have been lifted from Pseuds' Corner in Private Eye, and the whole film has an ad agency sheen, an effect that is enhanced by the rich young white males who make up the visible human cast.

This is a Facebook meme level approach to mountains.

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November

Original and fascinating film

(Edit) 10/07/2019

Packed with vivid images and huge inventiveness.

This is an unsanitised representation of medieval peasant life, full of superstition, deprivation and the humour of bodily functions. The story jumps from scene to scene and there is plenty of evidence of the director's background in animation film, not least in the eerie creations known as 'kratts'.

The film is a bit like a shamanic-psychedelic version of Bergman's 'Virgin Spring', with Breughel and Bosch thrown in for good measure.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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