Film Reviews by CM

Welcome to CM's film reviews page. CM has written 5 reviews and rated 54 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Still Walking

Beautifully acted family drama

(Edit) 31/05/2016

The loss of a child must be the worst thing that can happen to a parent. This film takes a snapshot of a family which has suffered just such a tragedy.

Every year, on the anniversary of the death of the family's oldest son, the remaining son and a daughter (plus their partners and children) gather at their parents house to commemorate the deceased son and we join the family on one such occasion. The film gives the impression that the surviving siblings can never live up to the memory of their older brother and the death seems to have driven a permanent wedge between many of the family relationships - between the two parents, for example, and between the father and the second son. In a way, this family seems to have suffered two tragedies, the death of the son and the subsequent impact it has had on the relationships between the rest of the family. It is the latter of these which the film really focuses on.

If none of that sounds like very cheery viewing, the film is still very much worth watching. The writing and the acting are superb. Although a particular sadness has beset this family, the dynamics are of a sort that can be seen in many families. For the most part the relationships are characterised more by sniping and distance (emotional and physical) than by out and out arguments but there are also moments of warmth and humanity. Ultimately, despite a lack of drama or action in the film it manages to be compelling viewing.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Wild

A journey worth going on

(Edit) 31/05/2016

It is a testament to how much I enjoyed Wild, that after watching it I found myself wanting to read the book on which it is based and wanting to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. (One of those is more likely to happen than the other). The film tells the story of Cheryl Strayed's attempt to hike part of the PCT following the premature death of her mother from cancer and her subsequent 'wild' behaviour featuring promiscuity and hard drug use. The film follows Strayed during the course of the hike whilst using flashbacks to describe the events that led to her decision to start it.

The idea of a character making both physical and psychological journeys, or of a journey being redemptive, is not new of course but is none the less valid for that. It is also true that the pace of the film is often quite slow, but that pace seemed appropriate for a journey taken on foot. The film is not one of dramatic dénouements. It is nonetheless a film that succeeded in drawing me in to the character's journey (in both senses of the word) and giving me a sense of quiet satisfaction and of time well spent by the time it reached it's conclusion.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

While We're Young

Not amazing, but pleasant enough

(Edit) 03/05/2016

While We're Young is a film about aging. Josh and Cornelia (played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) are a couple in their 40s who find themselves growing apart from friends who they were previously close to after the friends have a baby. (Josh and Cornelia are childless, having been unable to have a child themselves). In place of these friends, Josh and Cornelia start hanging out with a couple of twenty-somethings, Jamie and Darby, who they first meet after the young couple attend a lecture given by Josh. From here, the film explores how growing old affects our drive/ambition and our ability to be hip, as well as showing how middle age often brings compromises with it that are not necessarily part of a more youthful perspective on life.

Whilst the film was pleasant enough, to my mind it was not particularly revelatory or insightful about some of the challenges/changes associated with approaching middle age, and some of the points it did make felt a little clumsy. It does have its comic moments, but is more of a light drama than a comedy. Not a bad film, therefore, but not essential viewing.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Old Joy

Subtle and enjoyable

(Edit) 25/04/2016

The premise of this film is straightforward - two friends, Mark and Kurt, go on a camping trip in the woods outside Oregon. Much is left unsaid, but we are able to glean that Mark and Kurt haven't seen each other for some time, and that their lives have taken different directions since their friendship was first formed. Mark is acquiring the trappings of approaching middle age - a job, a house and, soon, a child. Kurt is still living a hippie/drop-out type of life. You get the sense that if Mark and Kurt were to meet now, they wouldn't necessarily form a friendship, and what the film is ultimately about is whether their shared history is enough to sustain the friendship now.

The film explores its central question in a deliberately subtle and naturalistic way. You get the sense that Mark struggles with some of Kurt's ideas and behaviours, whilst for his part Kurt seems to miss the friendship more than Mark does. However, there are no great histronics and no particularly clear-cut denouement. This certainly makes the film believable and relateable, but some may find this approach frustrating. My personal view is that if you take the film on its own terms, it is enjoyable and worth watching. I find myself still thinking about the film two days after watching it. It is also beautifully shot, and the soundtrack by Yo La Tengo fits the film perfectly.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Sketches of Frank Gehry

Could you have been better

(Edit) 19/04/2016

This had the potential to be a really interesting film. It explores some of Frank Gehry's work and discusses some of his life history. The problem from my perspective was that it felt all a bit superficial, more like an infomercial than an objective documentary film. We get to see a little bit how Gehry works when designing buildings, but really not that much. Similarly, we learn a little bit about Gehry's life, including the fact that he used to be lacking in confidence, but again not that much.

Probably the highlight of the film for me was the footage of some of Gehry's buildings, including of course the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The discussions with Gehry's therapist also provided some interesting insights. Fundametally, however, I came away from the film feeling that I hadn't got to know the man or his work as much as I would have liked.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.