Film Reviews by RD

Welcome to RD's film reviews page. RD has written 50 reviews and rated 54 films.

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The Tunnel: Series 1

Not too bad

(Edit) 23/11/2019

It's a brave project to clone the stunning Scandinavian series based on the Denmark to Sweden bridge, copied across to the channel tunnel. Some amount of diversion from the original would have stopped direct comparisons, but we have a lead character as a blonde with social problems and a penchant for sudden sex, driving her own Porsche. The male lead is a family man with a recent vasectomy and a dysfunctional home life. All this is identical to The Bridge.

It's actually a half decent thriller series, up to general UK standards and better than some, but after enjoying The Bridge, there's a sad feeling of deja-view throughout this.

The title music is awful and some of the dialogue is undecipherable.

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Infernal Affairs 1

Average cop thriller

(Edit) 23/11/2019

I can't really decide what was wrong with this film, it was quite well done but after falling asleep twice in it I would just class it as uninspiring.

What is good about it however is the soundtrack (although the music is a little odd), there is an uncompressed PCM 5.1 option which is stunning and ranks amongst the best I've heard.

Turn it on and listen loud, it may keep you awake!

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The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe

Simple amateur theatricals

(Edit) 21/10/2019

Oh dear, I like French films, even French humour, but this was taking it too far. It all seemed very simple but the bits that were meant to be funny were very lame indeed. Each joke took some lengthy setting up and made it all the more predictable. This film is very dated and we found it quite tedious although we stuck it through to the bitter end.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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True Detective: Series 2

Disappointingly weak after series 1

(Edit) 10/10/2019

The first series had Woody Harrelson & Matthew McConnaughy playing two very strong but different detectives, and played very well. Great music by T Bone Burnett, all in all a notable and enjoyable series.

This series ( we managed to watch the first 5 episodes) has, by contrast two fairly weak main characters who don't seem to develop, or show any depth of character throughout the story. the other characters are either weak or not on screen enough to make an impact.

The plot is rather moth-eaten with so many short and unexplained scenes giving the result that we couldn't understand quite what was happening much of the time, and had to work hard to piece the plot together in later scenes to make some sense.

All in all, a bit shallow and confusing but we stuck with it and managed to get to episode 5 before giving up out of sheer indifference.

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Gold

Uninvolving flawed adventure flick

(Edit) 29/09/2019

This is a story of Kenny Wells, ably played by the excellent Matthew McConaughey, who is a drunken gold prospector that teams up with a colleague to discover gold in Indonesia. It is based on a true story and as such could be the basis of a really good film. But it isn't.

Kenny shouts a lot, sometimes in passion for his work and sometimes in fits of bad temper. Glasses are smashed and walls are punched. This brings in the first problem in that we the viewer are often not let in on the issue causing the outbursts, so we see the outrage and fights but don't really know what's going on. It's frustrating for the viewer.

There is a board meeting of the New York company that is trying to merge with Kenny's firm, a piece of paper is brandished and all hell breaks loose with a long monologue (violently shouted again) by our hero Kenny. We've no idea until much later what the subject of the letter is, so we're standing on the sidelines watching a seemingly important scene but not actually knowing what all the fuss is about. This sums up the film throughout, however if you stick with it the plot opens up towards the end, and many of the puzzling scenes can be worked out later as the film develops, but it's not great film making and has the effect of constant un-involvement and working out for the poor viewer.

The second great problem is the modern plague of muttered and mumbled dialogue that is incoherent. It's beautifully recorded with a close mic and certainly loud enough in the soundtrack but it's often colloquial american breathy and muttered gibberish that cannot be understood and the story is lost.

If you're not too fussy about plots and film making then this might pass a wet afternoon for you with some fun, but it could be substantially better if the producer had done his work.

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The Favourite

Paper thin superficial plot but very modern

(Edit) 06/07/2019

Can't understand why this won so many awards.

The cinematography is poor, with soft focus and an over-use of extreme wide angle lenses than make everything curved and distorted. The shooting in low light gave the interior shots a natural balance, but unfortunately the daylight through windows produced so much flare they obliterated anything nearby in the shot.

The sound is good although there's not much use of the surround channels, and the music is painfully odd often with the same note squeaked out every few seconds, repetitively ad nauseam. It didn't add to any on-screen action.

The settings were fabulous, Hampton Court and Hatfield House looked magnificent, and the interior furnishings likewise. The acting also was good all round.

The real weak point was the screenplay. Very 21st century and streetwise, complete with break dancing (20th century) and some daft scenes that just appear to pad out the film and give some blood cells to the anaemic story.

The story? Whacky queen has ambitious and bossy aide, another aide appears and wins queens favour. Jealousy consumes aide number one. Film ends.

And - the film ends without any apparent resolution or development, it just looked like they ran out of money at that point, so they decided to suddenly knock it all on the head and get on with the post-production.

Prizes should be awarded to anyone who can read the credits. They have been designed by an intern in his school holidays, all geometric with capital letters everywhere so the spacing is extreme, resembling the alphabet available in the search function for the BBC iPlayer. Completely unreadable without going cross-eyed. Can you can make up other words diagonally if you pause the titles?

Maybe we have been spoilt - we watched Barry Lyndon a few weeks ago and perhaps it's raised our standards too high.

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Orange Is the New Black: Series 1

brave but feeble

(Edit) 05/05/2019

Quite a different flavour of a story which might have worked, but slowly paced and with a poor screenplay containing very feeble attempts at humour. It has the sort of jokes that may appeal to the very young, but mixed with quite gross shock moments as if to inject some life into the plot, it is a very clumsy drama. With some talented writing this could be good but unfortunately it looks as though it has been hastily dashed off by an inexperienced youth as a school drama project. We stayed with episode 1 until the end but were glad to finish it there.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Ronnie Barker: A Home of Your Own

Classic British comedy

(Edit) 12/03/2019

It's a charming and enjoyable film, showing just how the stereotypical British worker operated in the sixties. Not laugh out loud comedy but definitely in the enjoyable category.

This film is unusual in that it has no dialogue, plenty of sound effects and constant loud daft music. It's a great pity they used only two tunes and tried to produce variations on them throughout, as hearing the same tunes over and over again did spoil the film a little.

Much of the enjoyment with this film is trying to put names to the well known faces.

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Cold War

Beautifully made valuable film

(Edit) 05/03/2019

It's a love story with a difference, it is stripped bare of the usual cliches and padding that make up the average film. As such it stands out as unique.

This black and white film is very sharp in blu-ray and with good contrast to all the beautifully composed shots.

In particular, mention must be made of the soundtrack, filled with a wide range of music (performed, not background incidental stuff) from classical to jazz to obscure folk, in fabulous quality and with great use of the surround channels. The train sound effects are superb. Many of the scenes are silent except for ambience, and it works so well.

The story is well told with a good pace and has a great mixture of action, and it is absorbing.

We rented this film after hearing Mark Kermode rate it highly, and we were so delighted to have found it.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Jordskott: Series 2

A messy attempt at a plot and a touch of the supernaturals to boot

(Edit) 26/02/2019

The opening compilation of clips in episode one is a good indication of what's to come in the rest of the series. The clips appear to be completely random and don't give any idea of what the series is about. Completely baffling in fact.

The first episode starts, and then there's lots of scenes that don't appear to have anything to do with each other. That's fair enough I suppose, as many plots start like this but by the end of the first episode we're none the wiser as to what on earth it's about. Nothing is gelling plot-wise. We decided to go for episode two as well, just in case it gets better. It doesn't, and to make things worse the dreaded supernatural twist gets into the plot and completely screws everything up.

We gave up on the series after episode two as the plot was just too fragmented, the characters were rather uninvolving and the whole thing was starting to get silly.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Water Drops on Burning Rocks

It's art

(Edit) 03/10/2018

A proper play, cleverly written and it's art so don't expect it to be fun!

I expect the whole class to write an essay after watching the play, and it should be entitled "Sexual power and attraction between the four characters" and no sniggering at the back.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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8 Women

An amateur dramatics presentation

(Edit) 01/10/2018

Very poorly presented play, with over-emphasisied characters giving a pantomime feel to the film. The sudden bursts of dance & musical numbers put the tin lid on it all and we baled out after about 20 minutes.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Angel

Terrible over-acting

(Edit) 16/09/2018

We like Francois Ozon's films, that is until now.

This film starts with good visuals but they are swamped by the gushing, over-sentimental, easy-listening orchestral music. You can tell something is overdone already in the film at this early stage.

Then to the action and dialogue, which is simple and not particularly interesting to start with, but the greatest difficulty we had was putting up with the incessant terrible display of very hammy over-acting by the lead actress Romola Garai. We've seen her in other films and she is a passable actress capable of much less irritating performances, but this character is so badly portrayed we really couldn't stand watching the film.

Then there was the trip with Sam Neil in the open carriage (the "spot the dodgy back-projection" moment) which really did add to the general discomfort and led to the successful operation of the eject button at about ten minutes into the film, along with a great sigh of relief.

The performances from Sam Neil and Charlotte Rampling were very good, and took on the quality of Oscar nominations next to that of the lead character, however as a whole film that was trying to set a story it was a dismal and painful failure.

And the gushing music still persisted.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Pygmalion and Pichon: Les Funérailles De Louis XIV (Raphaël Pichon)

Beautiful perfomances from all

(Edit) 16/09/2018

French baroque music has a charm and lilt that is so beautiful that even average performances can be beguiling, but when everything is right as in this performance it can be spine-tinglingly beautiful.

The orchestra of period instruments is spot-on in the playing, and not a vibrato to be seen from the string players giving the overall sound a plain sweetness that gives the music its character. The choir is excellent, with dynamics beautifully handled and a good balance of pure voices. The soloists are the crowning glory, they have voices that match the music perfectly, not strident, not wobbly, just pure and well balanced. All these three parts are blended together by great conducting by Raphael Pichon and are very well balanced by the sound engineer, much better than the BBC Proms standards we are used to in the UK.

Other influences add to the enjoyment of the performances, such as the stunning reverberation of the chapel which makes its presence felt throughout. Listen to the solo drummer in the procession down the aisle for how good reverb can sound! Also the use of the balconies and other parts of the chapel frame the whole performance with character and separation.

Watch out early on in the plain vocal pieces for the shadow of the conductor on the wall that looks very much like a clip from the old black & white Nosferatu film.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Baby Driver

A weak story saved by superb film-making

(Edit) 20/08/2018

We rented this after seeing Mark Kermode giving it some critical acclaim on his History of Cinema series.

As many of the other reviewers point out, it's basically a kids film with very shallow characters, plenty of car chases and shoot-outs and a simple plot. The acting is ok, but there's not much substance in the screenplay to be able to give any great performances here.

What saves the film and kept us watching to the end however is the incredible synchronisation of action to the music soundtrack. The music is good and varied, and every door opening and closing, every footstep, every car squeal and crash and even all the gunshots are in perfect time with the music. A very clever and impressive achievement of film making, especially as the action appears fluid and not at all contrived. Photography, soundtrack and editing are all excellent.

One of the main characters, Bats, who spoke a lot of the dialogue, spoke it very fast, very quietly and muttered with a thick american street accent, with the result that we couldn't make out more than about 10% of his lines. However dialogue in this film is redundant to a great extent and although the problem was annoying it didn't detract from the enjoyment of the main attraction of the film - such brilliant editing.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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