Film Reviews by JK

Welcome to JK's film reviews page. JK has written 45 reviews and rated 48 films.

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Honeyland

Fascinating

(Edit) 09/06/2021

I wrote a long review of this brilliant documentary/film a couple of weeks ago and it vanished from the site!  Suffice to say that this is a superb watch and I couldn't recommend it more.

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The Dig

Ruined by "nee-na's"

(Edit) 05/05/2021

Archeology is a bit of a Marmite subject:  Either you are fascinated by lumps of old wood or metal covered in soil - or you're not.  I'm not, but this didn't detract from this being a gentle, well acted film.  Feinnes has the Suffolk accent down to a tee and all the other characters were well developed - which is a good job because once they had dug out what looked like a whale skeleton there wasn't that much plot left to explore so you focussed on the burgeoning love aspects, the snobbery of the 'academics/professionals' who failed to acknowledge the person whose knowledge left the rest of them standing but who wasn't 'educated' enough to be mentioned in dispatches.

My great bugbear, (as with so many of todays films), is the bloody awful 'music' which plonked it's way through almost the entire film - for absolutely no reason.  Fabulous shots of the vast skies and open spaces that are Suffolk cried out for nothing but silence or birdsong - indeed, birdsong is specifically mentioned during the film but we never got to hear it.  Instead, this incessant "nee-na" piano accompaniment  which sounded like someone's kid doing their Grade 2 practice after a tough day at school.  Why?  Why do so many films these days have to have this awful, 'death-by-arpeggio' piano droning on throughout?  It adds nothing whatsoever to the film - it's just annoying.  At some point about two thirds of the way through, my co-watcher and I looked at each other and remarked that the music had stopped and we could actually hear and appreciate what was being said.  No sooner had we acknowledged this than it started up again.

Most galling is that the credits feature a 'composer' - what both notes?  The likes of Bernard Hermann, Dmitri Shostakovich, Eric Korngold etc. must be turning in their graves. 

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Marty

What a find!

(Edit) 09/04/2021

This film is absolutely charming in every way.  Ernest Borgnine well deserved his Oscar for a beautifully underplayed but utterly convincing 'Ugly Duckling' who feels he's never going to progress in the romance stakes.  Betsy Blair, too, is so subtle in her portrayal of the 'dowdy' school mistress who also just wants to be appreciated for attributes other than her looks.

  It's easy to see where Disney got the 'Four Crows' dialogue from in the original Jungle Book animation:  "What d'you wanna do?"  "I don't know.  What do you wanna do?" etc. etc.

What adds to the delight is that nobody gets shot, there's no blood, graphic sex, or women sounding like they are on helium and saying "Oh My God" every other sentence.

 Mama and Auntie have conversations that real Mama's and their sisters have - in fact all the characters are three (as opposed to two) dimensional.

 Finally - get a load of that Tiffany-style light in Mama's dining room - It's fabulous! 

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Written on the Wind

A charming and relaxing watch

(Edit) 10/03/2021

The last thing we want to watch during Covid 19 lockdown is a lot of miserable forensic police murder films so this was a soothing bandage on the wounds of current life.

Yes - the plot moves at a ridiculous pace: Man meets woman: Man takes woman on plane trip: Man proposes more or less mid-flight...... but the films in those days were MUCH shorter than a lot of the turgid stuff we have to wade through today. The mainstay is that this film has a very moral message - Too much money isn't good for you basically. It's difficult to say where exactly Rock H fits in other than his being the thwarted lurve interest.

There isn't time to do a lot of character disection or all the psychological profiling of today's films - but who cares? The sets and costumes of 1950's USA with fabulous cars, fabulous hats, and fabulous suspension of belief. It's a winner all round!

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Bad Day at Black Rock

Stunning!

(Edit) 02/12/2020

Every word counted in this brilliantly scripted and shot thriller. The sheer sparcity of the setting, the dialogue and the music made it one of the most memorable films I've seen in a long time. Also, the score (by Andre Previn?) whilst lush and orchestral, never once got in the way of the plot or action - take note contemporary film makers.

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The Lighthouse

The gull is the best bit

(Edit) 13/11/2020

I must thank Mark McPherson for his illuminating review of this film as I couldn't make head nor tail of what the two characters were talking about most of the time.

Which part of the world did their accents hail from? Dafoe seemed to have been an extra in Pirates of the Carribean via somewhere in Ireland and possibly with a detour through Cornwall, whilst Pattinson appeared to have originated from South Africa by way of The Old Kent Road but ended up in upstate New York. Not only that but when they were not shouting at either the weather or each other, they mumbled making it hard to grasp any of the nuances which presumably carried the story.

Given the suffocating proximity that one would normally associate with living within the confines of a lighthouse, this one appeared to have a housing estate attached to it so it was difficult to see why the two characters couldn't have just agreed to live in different parts of it - but then they couldn't have gone quite as bonkers as they did (spoiler alert - who guessed?)

The filming in black and white was superb and chillingly atmospheric . The sea shots were phenomenal and the gulls played their part magnificently but all in all it was deeply gloomy and a big disappointment.

We endured it through to the bitter end

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Sense and Sensibility

Simply a delight

(Edit) 18/08/2020

I cannot fault this film in any way. The cast is sublime - the very best Britain has to offer. It explores and illustrates the crushing boredom and restrictions that women in this era and of this class had to endure. Any woman with half a brain or potential had no chance when life was merely based on status, manners and dresses that 'enhanced' your child-rearing abilities - i.e. having an embonpoint.

This is a real feel-good film.

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From Here to Eternity

A slice of humanity

(Edit) 27/07/2020

The opening scene of square-bashing squaddies didn't bode well as I'm not a fan of American 'WW2' films (and how they, invariably won it). I'm glad, though, I stayed with this film, as, 30 seconds in, the characters began to emerge and what sympathetic, well rounded characters they were.

These were the days when things were 'implied'; We didn't need to see Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr having sex in reality - as appears to be graphically necessary nowadays - because we sort of knew what was going to happen anyway so a wave crashing onto the beach gave us the clue we needed. Similarly, the fight scene between Ernest Borgnine and Montgommery Clift didn't rely on mountains of tomato sauce and gut-wrenching horror because, just be seeing a pair of feet twitch we, the viewers, could use our imaginations as to what had happened.

So little is left to the audiences' imagination these days it's no wonder people spend their cinema time stuffing their faces with popcorn and texting their friends!

Although long, this really is a classic film and well worth watching as the storyline is gripping, the acting (especially from a young Frank Sinatra) is superb, the music - both atmospherically and played by various characters is just right for the setting and being in black and white, the photography is superb.

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Lady Bird

Didn't live up to all the hype

(Edit) 04/07/2020

Like other reviewers, I couldn't really see much 'point' in this film. American teenage girls nowadays all sound like whoopee cushions so the (many) girlie conversations - which I assume formed the basis of any plot there might have been - were just a series of squeaks . It was rather like trying to decipher conversations between dolphins.

From a promising start (the conversation with Mum in the car) it all became pretty predictable unless you were asking yourself how long a broken arm actually takes to mend, given that she auditions for, rehearses, appears in and attends the after-show party for - usually taking the best part of a year?

I was drumming my hum for most of this and wondering where all the hype came from?

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Carousel

Best of all

(Edit) 04/07/2020

Call me old fashioned but how people can rate the droning drivel of so many of today's 'musicals' in comparison to this masterpiece is beyond me.

Yes - it's dated, and in this PC world would probably be regarded as misogynistic, however, the theme, incorporating taboo subjects like domestic violence, class inequality and abandonment is bang up to date.

Better, too, to have four beautiful, brilliantly crafted and tuneful songs than 20 "I'll-see-how-many-anthems-I-can-get-out-of-these-five-notes" in the likes of Les Mis.

In my book - you can't get better than Carousel.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Good but very long

(Edit) 11/05/2020

We ended up watching this in 3 installments as it's mindbendingly long. The first hour appears to be a whole story on it's own then parts 2 and 3 seemed to be an entirely different storyline but with the same characters.

Acting, as always with Di Caprio, is superb and it holds your interest throughout despite the length. The set, music, costumes etc. were very 60's Hollywood as was the ridiculous dancing in the LA party scene.

The ranch 'hippies' were unconvincing as all the young girls had perfectly groomed and squeaky-clean hair that looked like it had just come from a Timotei advert despite the fact they were supposed to be living on a disused film set in the back of beyond. Just saying.

As always, the speech was too quiet and the sound effects and music too loud so you constantly have to keep adjusting the volume on your TV but this seems to be the norm for every film these days.

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Dogtooth

The King's Suit Of Clothes all over again

(Edit) 23/02/2020

This deeply unpleasant, disquieting film has no merit whatsoever as far as I could see yet it won awards and great reviews from movie critics.

Presumably, nobody wanted to appear less than avante garde, up with the intelligent set or down with the kids to admit it was drivel so all had to 'read' some significance into it.

To describe is as 'darkly comic' was an understatement; So 'dark' was the comedy that it didn't actually show through anywhere in the entire film. What was there to laugh at?

Maybe I just missed the point altogether but putting the DVD in, telling my mother it was a film about dogs (which I thought it was and which will teach me to read the sleeve notes beforehand) and then squirming through it was an experience that will haunt me for a long time to come.

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Fisherman's Friends

Like bathing in warm syrup

(Edit) 22/02/2020

This is a film for when your tax return is due or it's rained every day for two weeks or your cold is on it's way out but you still want to be wrapped up in a duvet in front of the fire.

The plot line is as old as some of the shanties but it hardly matters as this is a film to float by without you having to strain any of the little grey cells. It's a bit like Doc Martin with better singing.

The Friends themselves do a fine job and you can easily see the attraction of their music. It's also a great advertisment for RNLI and lifeboatmen.

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Victoria and Abdul

Charming, if, at times, embarrassing to be British

(Edit) 28/01/2020

I came to this with a 'Dame-Judi-plays-Victoria-again' frame of mind, assuming it to be another John Brown with different costumes. This film, however, really flags up the utter pomposity of the British attitude toward anyone or anything other than their own narrow minded bigotry.

Royal courts must have been the deadliest dull places to be so with nothing else to focus on but invented 'rituals' and pageantry their tiny minds had plenty of time to dream up racist and class-ridden propaganda. The sheer tedium of being a maid helping the queen to dress - all 20 of them - illustrates the 'watching paint dry' example.

Victoria herself appeared to rise above all this but was a sad, lonely figure - eating her way to crumbs of happiness. That JB and Abdul both gave her an opportunity to stretch her (not inconsiderable) mind and act like a human being was touching to watch.

The supporting cast, especially Eddie Izzard as Bertie, are superb.

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La Ronde

Probably a great film if you could understand a word of it

(Edit) 21/12/2019

In the 21st century is it really still impossible to subtitle foreign films (or indeed any films needing them) so that people can actually read them?

This film was frustrating and we gave up half way through because the subtitles were totally unreadable. If the background is black there's not much point having black subtitles. Conversely, white ones printed over images of people crossing the desert or in snowy surroundings aren't much help either.

Sorry - it was a highly rated film in its day and was probably very good - we'll never know.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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