Film Reviews by PD

Welcome to PD's film reviews page. PD has written 21 reviews and rated 251 films.

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The Love Box

Entertaining 1970s esoterica

(Edit) 10/03/2019

A set of short stories based around the personal column in a magazine. Entertaining shorts usually with a little twist in the tail. There is a smattering of nipples and bottoms that would have counted as "smutty" in 1972 but seems very tame now. Most of the stories show women as the strong characters which was nice too see.

All in all a fun watch for anyone over 13.

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Anomalisa

Dystopian Rom-com

(Edit) 18/02/2019

I loved this. It inhabits a creepy world part way between a gentle rom-com and a dystopian nightmare. The animation is superb.

The plot is inspired by the Fregoli Delusion, a psychological condition where the patient believes everyone else in the world to be the same person, hence the action is set in the Fregoli Hotel and all the characters have the same face and voice. Combined with a relentless bombardment of "customer service" messages the main character's Michael's world is presented as a nightmarish place. Ironically Michael is a specialist in customer service so has helped to create his own nightmare. A ray of hope develops for him until his "reality" takes hold again.

This isn't a feel-god move, more of a feel- awkward and in some places it is almost painful to watch. Absolutely not like any other film I have seen for a very long time. Another unique feature of the film is that the animation is painstakingly realistic but parts of the post-processing has been omitted so that, for example, the joins on the puppets' face components have been left visible rather than edited out; finger-marks are left visible where the puppets have been handled. This contributes to the general feeling of creepiness and unease.

There is a huge amount of detail in here to observe and think about. Definitely worth watching more than once.

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Tell No One

French cinema gets much better than this

(Edit) 26/09/2018

A run-of -the-mill thriller with guns, car chases and all the usual ingredients. OK as far as it goes but I was hoping for something little more sophisticated. Plenty of action but little in the way of any character development or imaginative cinematography. The plot elements are thrust under your nose so forcefully you can't possibly miss them. There is not much in this film to make you think. The scene at the end where the stag wanders out of the trees had us laughing out loud it was so corny.

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A Snake of June

Disapointing

(Edit) 26/09/2018

The idea for the film looks interesting and I had hopes as this sort of thing is something the Japanese do well. Sadly just about every aspect of the plot is either full of holes or just plain unbelievable. Two stars for the atmospheric look and feel and no stars for the rest.

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Things to Come

Worth a watch

(Edit) 01/05/2018

A nice French film about relationships end endings. I found myself at times sympathetic to the heroine and at other times annoyed by her. She is the instrument of both her own fortunes and misfortunes - a strong and uncompromising woman but also at times a selfish and domineering woman too. She is often critical of everyone round her but doesn't actually have anything better to offer herself.

Enjoyable to watch but only 3 stars as the film didn't really have anything to lift it above the dozens of other films in the genre.

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Boy Meets Girl

French through and through

(Edit) 13/04/2018

Young people wander the streets of Paris and discuss philosophy, sex and indulge in some petty crime. Sound familiar? I must have seen dozens of French films like this. This particular instance of the genre works well in black-and-white and carries it all off with some style. In the end I didn't come away with the feeling that I had seen something special, but I would say it is was worth making the effort to see.

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The Duke of Burgundy

Didn't live up to the hype

(Edit) 07/04/2018

I rented this as it has a 94% fresh from Rotten Tomatoes and some 5* reviews as an art film. It must be good then?

I really couldn't see why it got these reviews. It seemed to be the plot of a low-budget art-movie crossed with the cinematography and production values of a 1970s soft-porn film: all soft focus stockings, lingering shots of leaves and streams then panning up to solarized views into the sky. I would have said it was some post-modern ironic statement except that the film seemed to take itself very seriously indeed. I am still somewhat baffled about the whole thing. The actors play their parts well enough but what on earth was the director thinking?

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Belle Epoque

Entertaining rom-com

(Edit) 03/04/2018

Set in 1930s Spain the story is told though rose-tinted spectacles. Excellent watching on a cold wet afternoon in the UK if you want to escape to somewhere warm, romantic and comforting. This isn't any sort of accurate portrayal of a Spain torn apart by civil war, but then it isn't meant to be.

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Manchester by the Sea

Good, but less than the sum of its parts

(Edit) 03/04/2018

There are a lot of good things about this film. It is well acted, has a powerful story and takes its time to build the characters and doesn't have the compulsory Hollywood feel-good ending.

It only gets three stars from me because sadly I never quite believed in the events for real. I never lost the sensation that I was watching a movie: a good one but still just a movie. Everything abut the film was a bit too perfect for it to feel real: the scenes too well-lit, the actors too good looking, the camera too steady, the sets too perfectly assembled. Real life isn't like that. It was in essence a gritty real-life drama but spoiled by having glossy big-budget production values smothered all over it.

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Nail Gun Massacre

Possibly the worst film you will ever see - worth watching for that reason.

(Edit) 03/04/2018

If you rent this DVD then watch the interview with the director on the special features as well as watching the movie. Essentially this film was made by a guy who had never had any interest in cinema until one day in some sort of mid-life crisis he decides to leave his job and invest his savings in making a horror movie, despite having no film making experience whatsoever.

Why a nail gun massacre? - because he liked Texas Chainsaw Massacre and thought a nail-gun version would be nice: "how hard could it be to make a movie?" he asks in the special features interview. Well, it turned out to be much harder than he thought. My favourite bit is the point during production that he realises that his film is never going to scare anyone and so he tries to make it into a cult classic instead.

Bizarrely he succeeds almost by accident in making a film so bad that it does in fact gain some cult status first in Europe and then in America. The sad part is that in his naivety he has signed away all his rights to an unscrupulous film distributor so that in the end he never sees a penny for all his efforts.

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The Taste of Others

A rom-com with brains

(Edit) 03/04/2018

My wife and I both loved this. Its hard to describe the plot without giving too much away but in the end the best man wins the girl; it is just not always obvious who the best man is. The romance weaves around various characters until it settles on the romantic at the heart of the film. I had a smile on my face from start to finish.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Series

Outstanding acting from Alec Guinness

(Edit) 03/04/2018

Alec Guinnes is truly outstanding as George Smiley. He inhabits the character to the point where one questions whether George Smiley is a real person or just a fiction. This is TV drama at its best.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Great Beauty

Seems to be a love it or hate it move

(Edit) 27/03/2018

First there are a lot of 1 and 2 star reviews here that say the film has no plot, is long, slow, arty, pretentious etc. They are not wrong and if long, slow, arty and a bit pretentious is not your thing then this film isn't going to float your boat at all.

However if that sort of thing doesn't bother you then I recommend this wholeheartedly. The film follows the life of a rich art set in Rome. It shows them leading their pointless self-indulgent lives and being generally arty and pretentious; it makes a pretty scathing indictment of their hollow lives. The twist is that it does this with such adoring and sumptuous cinematography that I was left wondering of this really is a biting satire or a homage to the life. Perhaps it is a bit of both. In some ways the film itself is living the arty and pretentious life whilst mercilessly satirising itself at the same time. The leading character lives this way too.

I certainly didn't find the film boring, in fact I was engrossed the whole way through. I also found it funny, the absurd situations and some of the characters' biting comments had me laughing out loud in places. Definitely recommended.

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Ghost Story

Better than I was expecting

(Edit) 22/03/2018

I'm a big fan of a Withnail and I chose this film mainly to see the actor Vivian MacKerrel in one of his few screen roles. MacKerrel is reputed to have been the model for the drug and alcohol riddled character Withnail.

I was expecting both McKerrel and the film to be terrible but actually it was all quite fun. Intentionally or not the film borders on parody and the interactions between the three posh chums were a delight to watch. If you are looking for a serious art film or a even genuinely scary movie you will be sorely disappointed, but as a piece of entertaining 1970s esoterica it fits the bill just fine.

The extras are interesting too and describe how the film was set in England but shot on location in India whilst the credits claim it to be shot on location in Wales.

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London in the Raw

A bit slow and a bit tame

(Edit) 16/01/2018

This is one of the unusual films where the sequel was better than the original. I would recommend watching the sequel Primitive London first and come back to this if you want more.

Both films are a collection of titilation mixed in with supposedly serious commentary and documentary footage that looks like it was included just to get the film past the censors and critics. The result is a fascinating and sometimes bizarre mishmash of 1960s London.

Primitive London keeps a brisk pace and is braver on selecting its subject matter. In contrast this film lingers too long on most of its subjects and is less ambitious.

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