Film Reviews by PB

Welcome to PB's film reviews page. PB has written 27 reviews and rated 29 films.

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The Spanish Princess

Historical Liberties

(Edit) 23/12/2020

Good series and worth watching to stimulate interest in the period and by far the most worthy of Henry's wives. Unfortunately if you like your period drama accurate then this series may irritate. Philippa Gregory takes great liberties with historical accuracy. It is well acted though, particularly Catherine of Aragon. Pleasing few hours of entertainment.

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Dogman

Grim Down South

(Edit) 21/12/2020

A small decent guy gets bullied by a local criminal. Unrelenting gloom. A depressing view of humanity.

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I Wish

Moving story, a bit slow

(Edit) 16/11/2020

Most of the actors in this movie are children and they do an impressive job. Could probably have benefitted from being 20 minutes shorter.

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Great acting, beautiful photography

(Edit) 09/10/2020

Very atmospheric french film with great actresses and beautiful cinematography. Memorable film, think arthouse. Great attention to detail with interesting costumes and stunning locations. Not one for those who like plenty of action in their films, this is a slow-burn love affair between the two main characters.

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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My Brilliant Friend: Series 1

Brilliant book, brilliant series

(Edit) 30/07/2020

Always slightly worrying when you have loved a book and then watch a film of it. No worries here, the sense of history, the superb child actors and the atmosphere of traditional life in Italy is absolutely fantastic. It also reminded me of days of my youth, playing outside with friends for days on end. Teachers either tyrannical or inspiring. Strict childhoods. Education as a genuine privilege to be grasped at any cost. The reality of poverty in households before birth control became widespread. One of the best series I've ever watched.

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Waterloo: The Ultimate Battle

Interesting film for those who want to learn about Waterloo

(Edit) 23/07/2020

Well made film showing what a bizarre period in history this was. Napoleon narrowly missed victory, obviously not at his best, what with having stomach cancer etc. The weather was not on his side either. Communications were so difficult and erratic that a large band of french soldiers wandered around missing all the important action. Knowing absolutely nothing about this period of history, I found it very interesting.

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Gulag: Forgotten Prisoners of WWII

Moving account of one survivor's story

(Edit) 23/07/2020

The story of the gulags beggars belief. Set up as a tool of political oppression after the russian revolution of 1917, the system was much increased when Stalin came to power. 18 million people were sent to the Gulag from 1930 to 1953, of which roughly 1.5 to 1.7 million died. Political opponents, pro-democracy advocates, prisoners of war, criminals, the middle-class of countries occupied by Russia as the Nazis retreated in WWII all were worked or starved to death in freezing conditions. I found the film rewarding and it stimulated me to find out more about the Gulags. As a family doctor I had a polish patient who had survived time in the Gulag and her friend wrote a riveting account of their time there. As in concentration camps, those who survived often had moral lines to cross.

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Apostasy

A window into a bizarre religious group

(Edit) 23/07/2020

Mind control and brainwashing are all grist to the mill of religious cults, as is the policy of marrying only within the cult and a system where those who question or reject the cult's beliefs are then isolated and shunned by the membership. In Jehovah's Witness territory this alienation of those who transgress is called "disfellowship". I found this film authentic and sad. Great acting and a moving story.

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Battle for Moscow

Soviet Propaganda

(Edit) 10/07/2020

This film supposedly covers an event in the Battle for Moscow in WW2. Turns out this was a piece of soviet propaganda during the war that has little authenticity. Russians still celebrate it and there are statues to the heroes.Check out the truth on wikipedia. I hate it when historical films or TV mess with actual events.

There were millions of heroic deeds during the horrendous russian campaign,unfortunately this film portrays one dreamt up by the authorities to bolster morale. The idea that 28 guardsmen saved Moscow is complete bollocks.

All a bit unnecessary as basically the Russians won the second world war and their population paid the most horrific price.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Leave No Trace

Sensitive portrait of a Vietnam Veteran with PTSD

(Edit) 19/05/2020

I loved this film despite the sad context of a Viet Veteran living in the wild with his teenage daughter. Acting is brilliant and completely convincing. More american soldiers committed suicide after their experiences in Vietnam than actually died in the war itself. The average age of amerian soldiers was 19 and they spent 12 months in hot, humid and hostile conditions where at any moment they could be ambushed or blown up by booby traps. Over half of american forces towards the end of the war resorted to heavy use of marijuana or alcohol to deal with the stress and 22% used heroin. These are the realities behind the two best VIetnam war films...The Deerhunter and Apocalypse Now. Leave No Trace does the same of highlighting the ravages of PTSD amongst the survivors and is a great and moving film. Youtube has some great documentaries on Viet Vets living wild.

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Yesterday

Warm and Fun

(Edit) 17/05/2020

Fun idea of a singer who wakes up after an accident to find that no-one in the world has any memory of the Beatles or their music. Harmless fun.

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Never Look Away

Beautiful and thought provoking film about a young artist in Germany joining the avant-garde

(Edit) 16/05/2020

Loved this film. A modern german masterpiece IMHO. Real insights into developing as an artist and finding your own individual voice. The acting is superb and it covers an important era in Germany coming to terms, or not, with the crimes against humanity in the second world war. As a doctor I found the ex-SS gynaecologist totally believable, a ruthless psychopath flourishing under both nazi and communist regimes.

The central love story holds the film together. Beautiful and intense film.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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True Detective: Series 3

Complex and dark marathon about human nature

(Edit) 29/04/2020

This is the most intense of the True Detective series with piercing and convincing focus on some complex personalities. As a UK citizen I needed english subtitles to understand the dialogue. Mahershala Ali gives a riveting if moody performance but his speech was the most difficult to understand. Presume this is local dialect.

The film takes place in three eras, 1980, 1990 and 2015 and the programme flits endlessly between these three time periods. The plot is complex and the characters are generally damaged goods. The central love story between Mahershala Ali and Carmen Ejogo is convincing and as complicated as most marriages are. Ejogo is cute and smart in her role. The friendship between the two investigating detectives has many ups and downs but is a subtle study of good buddies separated by race.

The plot is clever and suitably labyrinthine for a near 8 hour series. You get the impression that the whole creative effort must have been pretty draining, you cannot fault their work ethic. It certainly catches the baffling complexity of human nature and the massive ramifications a crime can have on a tight-knit rural community. Collateral damage is far more intense than the original crime.

Overall True Detective has been a compulsive and original take on the detective genre and generates a spooky and ominous milieu. Hard to forget and sometimes hard to watch.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Cameraperson

Weird

(Edit) 20/04/2020

As a pro photographer I was interested to see this film. After 10 minutes I couldn't watch any more. Never seen such drivel in my life.

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I Am Not Your Negro

A moving and shocking documentary of american racism

(Edit) 21/01/2020

Well made documentary based on an unfinished book by James Baldwin who subsequently died of stomach cancer. Gives a good account of the similarities and different viewpoints of the leading black activists of the 1960's and 1970's, most of whom were murdered by white supremacists. Baldwin moved to Paris, as a black homosexual activist he would have been particularly vulnerable. My visit to the USA 2 years ago suggest they still have a long way to go but attitudes are slowly changing, I believe a recent poll showed 80% of americans are now supportive of inter-racial marriage. As a teenager some american friends tried to show me a Klu Klux Klan meeting. Each junction on the country roads had a man with a shotgun. By the time we found the meeting, there was only a burning cross remaining.

Shocking footage of the hate that some white people had for black americans. Bobby Kennedy appears weak-willed and short of compassion.

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