Film Reviews by AS

Welcome to AS's film reviews page. AS has written 75 reviews and rated 310 films.

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The Florida Project

Trip to the gutter dressed up as social comment

(Edit) 19/03/2018

This has no plot, no narrative and no ending. By using saturated colour the director seems to think he can elevate the dingy, some might say squalid, subject matter to artistic height. All it does is exaggerate its baseness. A wholly meaningless exercise in pretentious movie-making. If you enjoy watching an obscenity-spewing young woman working as a cheap prostitute, while her obscenity-spewing offspring run amok, this is for you. If the thought of that sort of thing turns your stomach, stay away.

8 out of 16 members found this review helpful.

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Only the Brave

Due homage to 20 very brave men

(Edit) 19/03/2018

A movie about heroes, men who daily put their lives on the line to protect others from the monster that is forest fire. No, this is not another cliché tale populated by Hollywood types pretending to be brave. This is a true story. The narrative is simple but compelling, with a couple of engaging sub-plots. The dialogue is sharp, the acting emotionally satisfying. The director strikes a perfect balance between the character-driven scenes and the action sequences, the latter of which are brilliantly photographed. It is worth stressing again that this is a true story, and if you aren't familiar with it, don't look it up before you see the movie: the ending will then have its full heart-wrenching impact, and will stay with you for a long time.

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Murder on the Orient Express

Murder of 'Murder on the Orient Express'

(Edit) 10/03/2018

Why is Branagh made up as a Victorian conjurer? That is just one of dozens of questions that could be asked of this travesty of Agatha Christie's masterpiece. Watch it for free if you want to see the vainglorious actor/director disappear up his own flue in a display of utter self indulgence; but do not squander money on it. For the definitive, elegant, intelligent movie of the novel go to the 1974 version, beautifully directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Albert Finney in the perfect in-depth portrayal of the inimitable Poirot.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Unlocked

Deadpan and dangerous

(Edit) 27/09/2017

Amid a clutch of well-knowns - Douglas, Malkovitch, Collette, Bloom - Noomi Rapace is the standout as she kicks, punches, stabs and shoots her way through the tortuous plot with nary a hint of emotion invading her face (of course, this may or may not have been acting). Don't look aside for one moment or you'll be lost forever in the maze of blind alleys and double crossings. Almost unique in a genre infamous for its holey plots and loose ends, the storyline is kept leak-free and all threads deftly gathered by writer Peter O'Brien. No surprise that direction is razor-sharp by Michael Apted (Gorky Park, Enigma, The World Is Not Enough). It won't come as any surprise if Ms Rapace returns to mete out further measures of mayhem in the near future.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Cold in July

A mess at any time of year

(Edit) 27/09/2017

Starts promisingly, with an ordinary guy caught up in a random act of violence. Mystery develops. A twist occurs and the mood becomes darker. The plot promises to become grippingly convoluted. Then Don Johnson turns up as a ridiculous cowboy character and the movie snaps into comedy caper mode. The twisty plot evaporates, the comedy abruptly forgets why it came in and pretty soon all that's left is a hackneyed vigilante tale. Into the final 30 minutes the ordinary guy who led the narrative has been left completely behind along any shred of commonsense as the action rushes mad cow-like toward the slaughterhouse climax.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Going in Style

Another geriatric heist

(Edit) 25/09/2017

According to movie makers the world is overrun (or overshuffled) by old geezers who one day suddenly acquire the skill and vigour to knock over high-security banks.Here's another superannuated trio doing their stuff. Writing and direction keep this effort moving along somewhat faster than the pensioners portrayed by Freeman, Arkin and Cain, who seemingly phoned in their performances, took the money and ran (or hobbled) back to their old folks' homes. There's nothing new here, but if you appreciate the laid-back technique of the three principals you probably won't dislike this creaky caper. Two plus points: Ann Margaret (never ask a lady's age) as attractive and sexy as ever; Chistopher Lloyd, barmy as only he can be.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Dead scary

(Edit) 25/09/2017

Is Brian Cox the world's busiest actor? Does he ever make a bad movie? Here he is again in yet another small but (almost) perfectly formed gem. Just when you thought the doddering horror genre was on the verge of finally frightening itself to death, up comes this shot in the arm to resurrect the stretcher case. Okay, there are a few seen-it-before moments, but overall this is a fresh (if anything in the underground morgue location can be called fresh) take on ghoulishness. If you are remotely of a nervous disposition, do not watch. . But if your thing is having your heart stopped every five minutes then you'll love it.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Devil's Knot

Guilty of first-degree melodrama

(Edit) 21/09/2017

To make a slow-moving courtroom drama you need a powerful writer, a powerful director and, above all, a powerful cast. Then you come up with 'Anatomy of a Murder' or 'Witness for the Prosecution' or 'In Cold Blood'. When you have none of the essential ingredients you come up with this dross, a tale peopled by stock bigot citizens and bent cops, and an investigator played by Colin Firth who wanders through the ruins wearing a perpetually bemused expression as if he has no idea where he is or what he's doing there. The pity is, this could have, and should have, done justice to a real-life criminal case in which justice was very badly served.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Invisible Woman

Dickens, the Enid Blyton version

(Edit) 21/09/2017

Like Abel Magwitch in the swamp, director Ralph Fiennes wallows hopelessly through this mire. His only admirable skill is the ability to turn what was probably a half-page synopsis into an almost two-hour movie. Yet, even given this duration, there is a complete failure to get a grip on Dickens the man. The author's novels are tales of sex, violence and passion, shot through with dark memories of his own childhood. He had a wife, a mistress and fathered umpteen children. He was a ruthless exploiter of celebrity, travelled ceaselessly in pursuit of money, financed plays, theatres and businesses. Fiennes, both as actor and director, fails utterly to convey this character, depicting him as a cavorting jolly good sort, his moments of emotion conveyed by staring extendedly into space. The invisible woman of the title, Dickens' lover Nelly, played by Felicity Jones, is just that, making love and lust look as exciting as ludo on a wet February afternoon. If you want to learn about Dickens and his passions, read his books, steer clear of this emasculated wraith.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Being Flynn

Being pretentious

(Edit) 21/09/2017

An old guy and his son, both of whom aspire to be writers. Neither of them are as good as they think they are, rather like the writer-director of this movie. He has a basic idea, but no plot and a very scant narrative. He ends up with what looks like an overlong and repetitive documentary. The two leads show off their acting skill, but this too becomes a somewhat boring exercise in emotions going nowhere.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The American President

This is the guy they need - right now

(Edit) 21/09/2017

The story is nothing new, love affair/power struggle, set against an everyday backdrop (if the White House can be called everyday). But this is great movie making. Reiner puts not a foot wrong, following confidently in the steps of Capra, Cukor and Wilder. Brilliant screenplay, sparkling dialogue and a pitch-perfect performance from Douglas who steals the show by a landslide

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Heaven

Boredom on the run

(Edit) 21/09/2017

Woman blows up elevator, killing a man, a woman and a child. Her excuse: she meant to off her husband's drug dealer. In jail, apart from crying a bit, she shows scant remorse. We are expected to feel sorry for her. This premise is ludicrous. So is the fact that a young police officer falls abruptly and hopelessly in love with her and then abandons his family, his career, his entire life to help the woman escape. This escape seems to last for ever, and, throughout, the woman never considers she should give herself up and face justice for slaughtering innocent people. We are supposed to applaud her attempt to avoid capture. The final scene teeters towards fantasy, leaving us wondering what the hell that was about. What little action there is is regularly dragged to a halt by man staring into space, woman staring into space, man and woman staring into space.If you're a Cate Blanchett fan you might get to the end of this without gnawing your hand off. Otherwise, avoid.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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My Old Lady

Paris was never as dull as this

(Edit) 21/09/2017

The fault here is writing and direction, both as dull as the apartment the action is set in. The narrative seems to have no purpose, so neither do any of the characters. Thomas, Kline and Smith do their best with the desultory dialogue, its themes of love, loneliness and the meaning of life. But it's been written plenty of times before and with far more emotion. Virtually nothing happens and at the end of ther day the entire exercise has become pointless.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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In Order of Disappearance

Another bloody winter

(Edit) 21/09/2017

As with all Nordic noir everybody looks dour and it's always snowing. But this is entertaining stuff - if you don't mind the gory splashes all over that white stuff. Sharp, dark and complex with flashes of dry humour. Stick with it through a slow start and those disappearances begin to come thick and fast. Spot the signal for the old men's light at the inevitable end of their tunnel.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

'I was born at night. But not last night.'

(Edit) 21/09/2017

Not quite as good as the first outing: the storylines are a tad ordinary and drag on too long; some of the violence is gratuitous; some of the action has become tongue-in-cheek, losing the hard edge of the original 'Sin City'. That said, the cast do a brilliant job of fitting into Frank Miller's noir city and the graphics alone are worth the trip. Razor-sharp dialogue and indeed dames to die for.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
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