Film Reviews by Martyn

Welcome to Martyn's film reviews page. Martyn has written 7 reviews and rated 274 films.

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The Wire: Series 1

Greatlly overrated

(Edit) 16/05/2021

Started watching this because of the rave reviews from critics and here, but I just don't get it.

The dialogue in the first episode is so bad it's funny, like a piss-take of a TV police drama. Every one of the short, shouted sentences includes some or all of shit, fuck, piss, ass and nigger. Don't think I've led a sheltered life. My wife went to high school in Lexington. As a foreigner, most of her friends at the time were black girls, despite the apartheid in the school corridors. And there were guns and knives. I concede the depiction of the 'projects' may be realistic. The word 'realistic' is used in the rave reviews. But the police?

Every cop is like a mad dog, barking at all the other mad dogs in the office.. Everyone shouts, no-one listens, no-one forms sentences worth listening to. I've worked for an American company, anyone even talking like that would be on a warning straight away. It cannot be realistic. That level of aggression is not sustainable.

I don't mind the unrelenting bleakness, the urban winter setting, devoid of green. That works in The Bridge because the characters are human. The French series Engrenages (or Spiral) also, but the characters are interesting and believable. But this?

After the first episode I wanted it to stop. But then I read the reviews again and watched a couple more, then decided, as absolutely anyone would say in this series 'fuck this shit, nigger'.

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Greed

Surprisingly profound

(Edit) 14/03/2021

I expected a light comedy, and Steve Coogan is not my favorite comedian, but this is surprisingly deep. It's funny alright, with the best lines going to the self-effacing shadowing ghost-writer, who keeps saying he thinks he not good at telling jokes while being the real comedian. Broad in scope, with realistic portrayals of life for ordinary women in Sri Lanka. Can't say from experience how realistic was the portrayal of the lives of billionaires in Monaco but it was certainly entertaining. If you're an enthusiast for global free-market capitalism you may find this uncomfortable.

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Suntan

The decline of a 'sad' man

(Edit) 11/12/2020

Others see this as being about youth and middle age, but to me that's not the main point. The age gap only emphasises his problems

The 'hero' is a sad man, withdrawn, a 'nerd', somewhat autistic, probably damaged by a life of bad treatment by 'normal' people. At the start of the film he still functions as a doctor. A great light is shone into his life by contact with young pleasure seekers who accept him for while, the sun, closeness to nature, dancing and booze. This could go either way - it could be 'suntan', allowing him to blossom, or, as happens in the film, it could burn.

I would expect this and repeated rejection to cause a downward spiral of depression, alcohol and isolation, with slowly becoming less and less functional. But this is a movie, and his ending is more dramatic.

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The Night Clerk

Poignant tale of a man with Asperger's in a cruel world

(Edit) 03/10/2020

I can't agree with the critics' review here and elsewhere. This is the best, i.e. the most accurate and sympathetic, portrayal of Asperger's Syndrome, in film I have encountered so far, speaking as one myself. As a drama, it avoids Hollywood black and white goodies and baddies, apart from the murderer himself. The detective is not prejudiced against Bart, nor is he tempted by the easy option of pinning the murder on the weirdo. He is intelligent, but cannot ignore the evidence. The girl who appears to be his saviour, is actually for him a femme fatale. But is wasn't just the plot twists that held my attention. I felt Bart's pain, his vulnerability, his isolation. Tempted to give this five stars

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The Wolf's Call

Technically accurate thriller, shame it's not in French.

(Edit) 25/06/2020

I uses to work on software for submarines, and appreciated the depiction of 'acoustic warfare'. Would give it 4 stars, but I also like to hear French, and, inexplicably, that is not an option in this French film, so only 3 stars.

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Contagion

Prophetic, and rivetting

(Edit) 02/04/2020

Topical amid coronavirus, this tells of a flu pandemic originating in China with a virus passing from bats to humans. Naturally, for dramatic effect the virus in the story is far more deadly than the one we face.

The science is real and well-explained. The film avoids the Hollywood stereotype of the maverick scientist up against the 'government'. Instead, the CDC get to work, risking themselves, unpicking the mystery and managing the spread. The charismatic YouTube influencer with 12 million followers is part of the problem, advocating his own quack treatment and preaching against the real vaccine, when it finally arrives.

The film depicts first panic buying, then looting and a partial breakdown of society, and a realistic depiction of human nature - selfishness, mistrust, excessive fear. Significant subplots take place in China, most the story is set in the US.

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Margot at the Wedding

It's not a comedy

(Edit) 16/08/2019

I was drawn to this film by the trailer as some of the characters seemed mildly autistic. Still think that's true, but this aspect of character isn't explicitly developed in the film, even though it is about characters who either don't get or ignore the rules of social/family interactions. Not bad, but didn't interest me, and it's certainly not a 'comedy' as described.

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