Film Reviews by CH

Welcome to CH's film reviews page. CH has written 16 reviews and rated 19 films.

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War and Peace

Bondarchuk's War and Peace

(Edit) 28/02/2021

You won''t need any persuading that this is the greatest screen adaptation of War and Peace. The Russian government threw vast sums of money at the 1960's production of this Tolstoy epic in a move to eclipse the 1950's American version. The troubled relations between feudal Czarist Russia, divisive European Emperors and the upstart adventurer Napolean Bonaparte form the backdrop of War and Peace. If you don't have time to read Tolstoy's great book then watch this poignant masterpiece instead.

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Le Crime de Monsieur Lange

When is murder not a crime?

(Edit) 08/02/2021

An early, fast paced film from Jean Renoir......a homage to American cinema? Whilst undoubtedly a French language film, the style is early Hollywood featuring a bottle blonde who kicks ass when it needs to be kicked, runs a laundry and even breaks into a high warbling song worthy of Edith Piaf. As a previous reviewer has bluntly stated, the charms of this film would be lost on younger audiences.... Monsieur Lange has it's devotees, but they are more likely to be found amongst french film afficionados who are able to place it within the historic and political context of the 1930's.

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Le Crime de Monsieur Lange

When is murder not a crime?

(Edit) 08/02/2021

An early, fast paced film from Jean Renoir......a homage to American cinema? Whilst undoubtedly a French language film, the style is early Hollywood featuring a bottle blonde who kicks ass when it needs to be kicked, runs a laundry and even breaks into a high warbling song worthy of Edith Piaf. As a previous reviewer has bluntly stated, the charms of this film would be lost on younger audiences.... Monsieur Lange has it's devotees, but they are more likely to be found amongst french film afficionados who are able to place it within the historic and political context of the 1930's.

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Taste of Cherry / 10 on Ten

Death is a lonely hunter.

(Edit) 28/01/2021

There is a rift between those who claim this film to be the sublime pinnacle of Iranian Abbas Kiarostami's film making and those who wait in vain for the slow burn plot to weave meaningful threads or at least hint at cathartic redemption. Mr Badii cruises the streets of Tehran like a punter in search of young unemployed men. He interrogates them with a confident yet unsettling intensity and is initially vague about the nature of his proposed employment opportunity for these young men. One boy unnerved by his persistence threatens violence and a doe eyed young soldier takes fright at the bizzare requests, as they drive across a wasteland on the periphery of the city he jumps out and flees. Badiis quest for death becomes almost banal as one after the other finds a reason not to assist him in his search for an accomplice.

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The Secret in Their Eyes

A game of Charades....is it a book, is it a film?

(Edit) 27/10/2020

Maybe I'm not the best person to review Secret in their eyes. It's the second time I have rented it, but I wanted to give it that second chance and knew this was a film my partner would enjoy. I was right.....he did.....all the nuances and twists and turns that I had missed ( both times) he praised highly. All I could think is, who would spot, from a previously seen photo, the murder suspect in a football stadium of thousands of roaring, scarf waving fans? I had just watched Nine Queens, another Argentinian film which is a sparky clever masterpiece of entertainment. No comparison at all to the rather dark, existentially morose (and occasionally slushy) Secret. I accept that thousands won't agree....so don't let me put you off renting it.

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The Return

The diving board

(Edit) 08/10/2020

A devastating Russian film that I have borrowed twice already from Paradiso and I recommend it to anyone new to Russian films. It is a masterpiece, a tense, dark tale about two young brothers trying to make sense of the sudden reappearance of a man claiming to be their father. They must learn to accommodate him, but he is an awkward piece in this family's jigsaw. Is the expedition he has planned for the boys, for them or for himself?

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Voyage of Charles Darwin

When the BBC made great fims

(Edit) 30/09/2020

Absolutely top class 1970's series......throughout this Covid Lockdown debacle we have rationed ourselves to one episode per night....ravishing film making (with actors well known to anyone old enough to remember the 1970's.) We all know about Darwin and the Galapagos islands but this BBC series delves deep into Darwin's diaries and accounts of the 3 years aboard the ship Beagle. Apparently this big budget series nearly crippled the BBC. Highly recommended.

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The Death of Louis XIV

Death where is thy sting?

(Edit) 30/09/2020

Louis Roi de Soleil, once flamboyant King retreats to his Royal death bed after a long glorious reign. He is now surrounded by erstwhile doctors, surgeons, homeopaths, flunkeys, lawyers with papers to be signed, military strategists with ships to commission, engineers with bridges to build, bishops, cardinals, courtiers, wives, mistresses, Louis unwinds his halting mortal coil (once demanding chicken broth before sinking back to the business of passing onto the next life)

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The Student

Interior designs

(Edit) 02/09/2020

This tense and occasionally farcical Russian story treads several anthropological, philosophical and moral fine lines ........ a teenage boy's angst and descent into an raging evangelical biblical madness (that at times threatens to tip the film into an abyss of schlock horror...well that's the jolly Old Testament for you.) This film also offers compelling reasons why you should never waste your time or money decorating a teenagers bedroom with flowery wallpaper, matching curtains and duvets.

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The Guardians

The beasts of the field

(Edit) 06/08/2020

A slow and understated French film that relies on wide camera panoramas, framed interiors and still portrait shots. Absolutely beautiful. The main character is a version of Thomas Hardy's Tess Durbeyfield (from Tess of the d' Urbevilles) a young woman seeking employment in a rural backwater of France during WW1. Her life becomes enmeshed with a farming family, harnessed into hard labour on the land, recently stripped of it's workforce of young men, now engaged in trench warfare with a faceless enemy. I am surprised that this film is not better known, I found it only by chance and will watch it again.

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The Olive Tree

A place in the sun

(Edit) 15/07/2020

Feisty young Spanish eco warrior challenges a German corporation to return a gnarled and ancient olive tree to it's rightful place in the sun, (the olive groves belonging to her ailing grandfather.) This film occasionaly tips towards melodrama and soap opera but the message is clear enough.... wealthy, powerful corporations within European union should not indulge in the asset stripping of poorer member states.

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Happy End

Another hamster bites the dust.

(Edit) 01/04/2020

There should be a law against keeping hamsters as pets. Ask anyone......it never ends well and I mean never. Once we are through the puzzling opening shots (which I thought might be a trailer for a film I hadn't ordered,) the film begins to puzzle us with pornograhic emails from someone to someone else and somebody plays a viola de gamba, is this significant? I don't know, I would need to watch the film again, as I was still reeling from the shock of seeing Toby Jones with all his British National treasure status suddenly occupying the screen. Maybe he is a fluent French speaker and also French National treasure...peut etre?. Mostly this film was a mishmash and a veritable kedgeree of borgeois French family dysfunctionality with the odd comedic moment to light the dark. I don't think Toby Jones spoke any French at all....I would need to watch the film again to verify this, but I returned the dvd with only the very final scene burned in my memory.

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Zama

Be careful what you wish for.

(Edit) 01/04/2020

The colonisation of South America by Spanish and Portugese is well known history, often narrated as, and portrayed as a swashbuckling pursuit of gold and land. Let this (admittedly) slow burn film tell another story of swampy malarial hell on earth with administrative ennui seeming to being the enemy. A strange and shocking film, but for that, you will have to stay with it to the very end.

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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

A long time in Anatolia

(Edit) 16/03/2020

It would be churlish to suggest that this film could have been slightly shorter by cutting the opening 20 minutes down to say 15 mins.......but stay with it folks, because there is a symbolic balance (I think it may be dark/light), but the time wasting scenes allow us to take stock of the characters in the police vehicles. Things are not quite what they might seem to be, the accused is shot framed in the drivers mirror like a religious icon( Goya?) Jesus on the cross.....and I think this is a ultimately a significant detail being offered to us early on. In fact the more I think about this film after the event the more I appreciate the care and detail of this masterpiece.

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Of Horses and Men

Not My little ponies

(Edit) 16/03/2020

A stunningly original and shocking film that teeters on the edge of darkness, but with enough humour to set this film apart from merely gratuitous horror. Nature is red in tooth and claw (and as we all knew anyway, it's grim up North)

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