Film Reviews by Oli

Welcome to Oli's film reviews page. Oli has written 20 reviews and rated 151 films.

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The Leopard

Really good Italian epic

(Edit) 27/09/2018

Saw this great Italian epic for the first time last night and it is truly one of the best, it follows Prince Salina (Burt Lancaster) and his family amid the chaos of the Revolution, you will truly be blown away by superb cinematography and one of the best looking films for it's time. There is also a superb score by Nino Rota who of course scored the famous Godfather films. I can't say I understood all the history, politics etc. but it's a bit like 1900 by Bernardo Bertolucci (except maybe more coherant than that and certainly a lot less violent!) goes through a tough time in Italian history and contains many good themes. Burt Lancaster for me (even though he was dubbed in Italian) portrayed a superb character with a very good performance, he wants his nephew to succeed him that much is clear and he'll stop at nothing to make sure he makes the right choices for the future of the family.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Night

Unique film

(Edit) 24/09/2018

La Notte is quite a unique film really, even by Antonionis high standards, I wouldn't even say I've really began to understood his cinema style yet but at the same time I'll say I'm starting to because I see the little things that make his films so magical, going into this I'd seen Blow Up and L'Avventura (Blow Up I loved, L'Avventura I found a hard watch), this one features two lovers played superbly by Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni who seem to have hit a hard part in their marriage and as the film unfolds you begin to see the details within this marriage and why it unravels. It his focused mainly on movement and expression (like L'Avventura was a lot) you see the dissatisfaction in Moreaus movements, and in Mastroiannis advances to another woman. Overall I thought it was quite unique and definitely one I'd rewatch sometime in the future, maybe even soon as I have 2 more rentals to watch and might decide to fit it in again!

Italian cinema is quite a broad world to discover, I'm mostly familiar with Federico Fellini, so Antonioni is still quite new to me, but I'm definitely beginning to understand why he is so popular, I'd put it into the slow cinema category, it takes getting used to (I found this and L'Avventura at times seemed to be very long watches) but if you do then you have a superb fascinating world to discover, Antonioni always knows the right image to focus on and in this film he uses it to devastating effect.

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Infernal Affairs 1

Solid gangster film if not spectacular

(Edit) 06/05/2018

It certainly had it's moments which is why I would probably give it an 8/10 (4/5 on here) it's interesting how it came to influence The Departed so much but in it's own being a good movie and having many memorable moments, the performances like Steve said are great and one of the reasons why this film is so good.

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Wings of Desire

Wenders Beautiful Adaptation of Postwar Berlin

(Edit) 01/04/2018

I've got to 2nd Steves review on this because it is such a wonderful film, not just for German cinema but for all cinema, going into this I'd seen Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders so I had an idea of his brilliance when adapting characters to a big story and creating lots of unique atmosphere, cinematography etc. but this just blew me away! The film starts in black and white as Ganz and Sander playing 2 Angels hovering over a postwar Berlin which looks to be a mixture of many things, certain things to come to mind from this like the bleakness of Berlin and the brilliant dialogue particulary with Ganz accompanying an old man who describes a world forgotten. We are entranced through many memorable shots of postwar Berlin and many civilian thoughts which could probably reflect thoughts of people the viewer knows, accompanied as usual by Wenders by a brilliant soundtrack that perfectly reflects the feeling of the film, the emotion of living here but yet the beauty of it all. Ganzs angel desperately wants to break free from being an angel and feel what the people are feeling having experienced most of it 3rd person, but not 1st person. It'd probably be pointless ruining any more of the film for newcomers but watch it and be amazed by one of cinemas many unique cinematic experiences.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Pickpocket

Simple realistic approach to a life of crime

(Edit) 25/03/2018

I’ll first add we have 2 bad reviews and 1 good review, it may be worth adding, if you’re getting into Bresson (like me!) then watch A Man Escaped first, which BFI recommended as it will give you a good insight into his thoughtful realistic approach. Now onto Pickpocket, it’s great when you watch something that doesn’t try too hard to impress, but manages to do it in a suttle simple way anyway. Michel begins the film as a novice pickpocket, we presume bad times have brought him here and that the only way he feels comfortable earning a living at this time is by picking the pockets of others! We are then entranced into a beautifully shot story of his past, his present and his future. I can’t add enough that this film is a one of a kind, sure some people might not understand/like it, I don’t know quite why but take it from me, it was a really pleasant, albeit short, simple, well shot, smart, thoughtful movie with lots to say inbetween!

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Shame

Bergmans take upon war

(Edit) 25/02/2018

I read a review by Roger Ebert which commented on the fact this was released very soon after the Vietnam war started, so we already have a lot of reasoning for the things that happen in the film like they do. It's a very different Bergman film, but that's just the beauty of it , Van Sydow and Ullman are both outstanding in their roles, playing two innocent civilians who want nothing to do with war, what side they're on etc. but still get dragged into it and the horrors that surround it. The events that then unfold take into account basic human survival, it's a very bleak Bergman film but it's very powerful and should be seen if you are a fan of his, it won the best foreign film oscar back then and deservedly so, it is a very good take on war and Bergman deserves full credit for this fine effort, which sits nicely alongside many of his classic consistent films.

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The Sacrifice

Tarkovskys darkest film

(Edit) 18/02/2018

I'll begin this by saying it's Tarkovskys darkest film I've seen, but also equally as beautiful as a film like The Mirror or Stalker, Solaris. We meet Alexander who is planting a tree and relaxing with his son, we then meet the postman called Otto who is a dear friend of Alexanders. What ensues is a lot of vast cinema, we hear hints from Alexanders family that he isn't okay in the head. Then Alexander receives a gift that's mailed to him, we hear hints about his life as an actor etc. we then hear the first mentions of the word Sacrifice and how the gift acts as a sacrifice.

What follows is all out nuclear war and there is a lot of drama where I think the film lost it's touch really, but it does regain it towards the end and some of the final scenes are up there with anything Tarkovskys ever done, so all in all it's certainly worth a watch. If you're going to though I'd recommend you'd watch Solaris/Stalker first, then Mirror, Andrei Rublev, Ivans Childhood and then this one and Nostalgia just to get a general idea of his filmmaking approaches etc.

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La Dolce Vita

7 days in the life

(Edit) 18/02/2018

Everyone tells Marcelo constantly 'I feel sorry for you Marcelo' But why do they feel sorry for Marcelo? If anything they are just as equally pathetic as Marcelo and they are a similar type of character who would probably embarrass themselves just as easily. Am I not making sense? Maybe not. But I think this is the real beauty of this picture, anyone could watch it and see a different film, everyone can relate to Marcelo because we've been there most of us, the inevitable crossroads, the frustrating partner who is overly paranoid and won't let go. Then we have the Swedish beauty queen actress, who is a dazzle to watch, even she isn't perfect she has a partner who equally is paranoid and won't let go.

To not also praise this film of it's cinematography would be a sin, as there are some beautifully shot scenes, like Sylvia stepping into the fountain, like Marcelo pulling feathers from a pillow, journalists circling round a normal woman like vultures, she tells them she is not an actress so queries why they are acting like she is, nobody will tell her straight what has happened, all we know is something has happened and the press want a story and the front page photograph to go with it. All in all to summarise this film I will say it is a fantastic observation into human nature and it deserves all the credit it gets.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Ivan's Childhood

Solid Tarkovsky debut

(Edit) 12/02/2018

It's a solid debut from Tarkovsky, it is about an hour and 34 minutes but it feels much longer, I did feel myself getting bored through it though. Ivan is part of the Russian army in WWII and immediately he is seen having strong dreams relating to his mothers death, these are probably one of the strong parts of this film as it shows childhood and how strong he is for his age. He is highly respected in the army, but one of the officers soon informs him he will be sent to a bording military school, Ivan protests this as much as he can but still can't get his wish, so he tells them he will run away. It's a decent film though I feel like the other 4 Tarkovsky films I've seen were much stronger, nevertheless for a debut you can enjoy it and it is more like a sign to come of Tarkovskys powerful images and thoughts, memories etc. Also has a really good ending, although I wont ruin it!

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Ashes and Diamonds

Youth searching for meaning after WWII in Poland

(Edit) 02/02/2018

I'll first say that Ashes and Diamonds was a lot different to what I was expecting, I thought there would be a lot more guns etc. I thought it would be a story of a kind of serviceman which Maciek kind of is looking at it, I couldn't quite tell what he was part of exactly! Anyway, I still thought it was decent and the film had a couple of good moments and quotes.

I was kind of confused by what the film was though, was this to show a celebration after WWII? Or was it meant to be more of a love story? No idea honestly but it does work in a way, just all in all I didn't find a lot of scenes that memorable, there's some good conversation between Maciek and the lobby desk clerk when they find out they are both from Warsaw and between Maciek and his lover, all in all it's worth a watch to see what Poland was like when Germany surrendered in WWII, but I was expecting a bit better, there's not that many memorable characters in the film and a lot of the scenes left me feeling like they weren't that iconic, this is a far off comparison but even in a film like Rules of the Game for example, in that movie I wouldn't say there was a bad or boring scene, but in this I felt like there was some.

Also, I'll add the film deserves some credit for some of its cinematography, like the fireworks at the end, superb! Overall though I'm torn.

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Stalker

Slow in places, but magnificent achievement

(Edit) 19/01/2018

Where do you even begin with this film? It is fantastic, the direction by Andrei Tarkovsky is just breathtaking, I'd come into this seeing Solaris by him which was also brilliant, kind of similar to this bit slow but rewarding. By slow I mean there's a lot of scenes where it will just show the scenery of 'The Zone' or there will be some philasophical dialogue whilst the 3 men are trying to sleep, but the shots are as breathtaking as any film you will ever see, the direction is superb and the story will keep you on the edge of your toes to see what happens, I wont ruin anything but I'll just say there's never been another film like it, the acting is great the dialogue is great, direction is superb, I like as well how it starts in the yellowish black and white, but then changes to colour once they arrive in the zone. It's one hell of an achievement!

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Burmese Harp

Very powerful post WWII Japanese film

(Edit) 15/01/2018

Great film about the Japanese after WWII, I loved the theme of it how it's all circled around the beautiful music and singing, and it really suits the moving story, it's one of a kind. Mizushima is a naturally gifted harp player in his Japanese unit, his captain has a talented musical ear and has taught all of his unit how to sing to improve their morale when they're down during the war etc. it is told with brilliance by another member of the unit, they are on the road during the war then they come to a stop in British Territority in Burma, where they learn that the war has infact ended, they stay there at command by the British as Japan have surrended and the unit dutifuly surrender too, they soon learn that on a mountain nearby another Japanese unit hasn't heard of the news yet that Japan have surrendered and are still prepared to fight the British, Mizushima is sent to try and persuade them to drop their arms and surrender like Japan have done. What follows is some of the most powerful images in all of cinema, and is both a brilliant display of acting by both the captain of his unit played by Rentarô Mikuni and Mizushima played by the brilliant Shôji Yasui, it is an outstanding story about humanity and it is not to be missed by any Japanese cinema buff.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Rules of the Game

Great piece of cinema

(Edit) 12/01/2018

I think the 2 above (or below!) were taking things a bit too seriously, or maybe they just aren’t used to this style, I’m not sure, if you think about it this is a very good film with lots of witty dialogue, maybe it’s because I’ve seen many worse films but this is certainly a very memorable film with lots of great dialogue, sure the black and white quality isn’t the best but it doesn’t need to be, also I think the scenes work perfectly together, and there’s a lot of great acting here mainly by Marcel Diallo, but also the gentleman who plays Marceau as well and the sergeant looking type. It’s very French style of humour, very dramatic, a man is in love with another mans wife, a fight breaks out, someone fires a revolver, more arguing ensues, then it turns out the wife has infact ran off with another man, there are some really strong messages here, I particulary liked the quote ‘I don’t love you anymore, I have great affection’ there’s just many great moments in this film that would certainly make it rewatchable, like I said there’s many strong messages and the combination of great acting, great witty dialogue, useful messages make it a classic French film.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Human Condition Trilogy

Must watch for Japanese Cinema lovers

(Edit) 07/01/2018

I'm not sure where to even begin with this, you may be put off by the length, as I think in all it's about 9 and a half hours long (you can rent them disc by disc anyway like I did) but nevertheless it makes no difference as this is one of the many epics of Japanese cinema, I'd gone into this seeing Harakiri, so I had a slight inkling about Kobayashis style, but it's really an amazing film, It's Taksuka Nakadai in the role of life, playing the common worker Kaji, who must ask himself if what he is doing is wrong or right, and does he really have to do it? I won't spoil too much as there will be spoilers at the end of this film but for anyone who loves Japanese cinema, or even war films, you should immediately love it, and it will take you on a massive tour de force throughout the entire film trilogy. The dialogue and imagery are also some of the best I've ever seen, and you will the conditions have done to perfection that is probably pretty realistic compared to what they were like in WWII. Apologies for the lackluster review, someone had to review first! You will understand when you see it as it's 3 films I've rented within a month, but watch it, it's pretty heavy in places especially, but understand it and respect it.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Kagemusha

Kagemusha

(Edit) 02/01/2018

I'll begin this by saying I agree with the above, though Ran is one of my favourite Kurosawa movies (and I love kurosawas 50's/60's work too), and I also love Dersu Uzala, I think this one lacks a lot for me, you don't really connect with any of the characters like you would in other Kurosawa films, I'm thinking like in Red Beard, Seven Samurai, Ikiru and the other 2 I mentioned. Nakadai is a brilliant actor though so he deserves special mention, I just think like many other reviews have said on the internet this was more of a stepping stone to Ran, it's worth a watch especially for Kurosawa fans like me, but it does begin to feel long winded, today I rewatched an hour of it and it was already feeling lacklustre, I gave it 3* though as it has it's moments, and an intriguing storyline, though it lacks interesting characters and interesting dialogue like many other Kurosawas films.

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