Film Reviews by AK

Welcome to AK's film reviews page. AK has written 9 reviews and rated 12 films.

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Call Me by Your Name

Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful

(Edit) 12/06/2018

This is just an overrated, overblown unmitigated piece of crap. I squirmed all the way through it, shocked by its appalling script, its vapid, vacuous, narcissistic leads and its complete lack of humanity, chemistry or...pretty much anything. The characters might as well have been autistic for all that they actually responded to each other. The script is mostly to blame, being so pleased with itself it feels it doesn't actually have to present anything close to real human speech or emotions (in any language) or how people actually interact or anything close to the spark that makes dialogue enjoyable. I spent the first half hour asking "Who ARE these people? What the hell are they actually DOING? And WHY?" After that comes the empty, self-involved characters (the clue is in the title, lovers appealing to each others sheer vanity) and the waste of the locations. A film so awful I was in physical discomfort throughout, checking my watch and the counter on front of the DVD player with every passing, painful minute. See "Priest" with Robert Carlyle and Linus Roche from about 20 years ago, or even the recent "God's Own Country" for real, human gay love stories in all their pain and glory, and avoid this vapid piece of overrated nonsense, that managed to ruin both the Psychedellic Furs AND peaches for me.

1 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Toni Erdmann

Painful, and not in a good way.

(Edit) 19/04/2017

I had the misfortune to see this in the cinema, assured by a friend that my sides would be aching from laughter one minute, and that I'd be weeping with sadness the next. The only emotion that I felt throughout the whole film (nearly THREE HOURS) was overwhelming boredom. I have never, ever checked my watch in the cinema as often as I have while watching this, regularly thinking, "Surely something funny must happen soon?"

Basically, a middle-aged jerk decides, after his dog dies, to bond with his career-dedicated daughter, something that seems to involve donning a bad wig and false teeth and introducing himself to her colleagues as someone else. Hilarious. For the first hour they are sullen and downright rude to each other, and at times he appears to be stalking her: at one point he lets himself into her flat, walks into her bedroom and hides in her cupboard when he hears her coming -- as one does- from where he spies on her.

In another scene the daughter encourages her "lover" (I use quotation marks as there is no love evident in this relationship, as there is no emotional connection between anyone throughout the whole film) to masturbate onto some petit-fours before she eats one. Yes, it's that kind of funny. As in, it's not. The acting is low-key and monotonous, the cinematography flat and this film drags, drags, drags. Laugh? I didn't even crack a smile for it's entirety, and when it ended I felt liberated from the relentless greyness.

Fans have voiced horror at the proposed US remake. As far as I'm concerned, it can only be better. I understand Bill Murray passed on the lead after "losing" his copy of the DVD of the original. My guess is he watched the first hour and then threw it in the bin.

10 out of 14 members found this review helpful.

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Tale of Tales

A stylish bore

(Edit) 17/11/2016

I had really wanted to see this when it came out, because the reviews made it sound so great. It certainly looks brilliant - great use of scenic locations, great costumes, beautifully filmed, and boasts some fine performances, but....much as it tries, much as it perambulates, digresses and spins its tales, it doesn't actually go anywhere or do anything. All the interwoven stories seem flat and uninvolving and tend to peter out towards the end, leaving me to merely shrug with a "Meh" at their conclusion. There are no twists, no morals, no compelliing narrative pull, just a procession of events badly copied out from a child's book of fairy tales. Honest, Terry Jones' short stories had more punch, pizazz and power than anything on display here. It goes on for far too long and ends with a lovely image that just elicited a heavy, weary sigh from me. Very, very disappointing.

3 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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Carol

Disappointing and rather bland

(Edit) 26/04/2016

I badly wanted to see this when it opened at the London Film Festival, but was unable to get tickets. It came and went quickly at the local cinemas, so I had to wait until it came out on DVD. It wasn't really worth the wait. While it certainly looks great - beautifully filmed - the plot is fairly standard (if there can be such a thing, I know) lesbian awakening, with a fairly predictable flow of: mundane, trapped existence/encounter with glamorous other/glimpse of another world/sucked up into erotic, exciting lust and love/face the repercussions/guilt/denial/and then? To be honest, I'd pretty much sorted that much out before the film even started. There was an interesting twist in that the other woman was a mother and engaged in a struggle for custody, severely compromised by what's seen as moral failings (everyone is suitably cagey) but it only serves to inform us that what all women really want, even lesbians, is motherhood. This, however, is disposed of with a left-field bit of sacrifice and selflessness that comes out of the blue, leaving the end...well, quite nicely open (the final shot is one of the film's best).

Performances are also predictable. As the awakened one, Mara Rooney looks blank and fed up most of the time, sporting a severe fringe that only reminded me of the lesbian character in "Home for Purim", the film-within-a-film in Christopher Guest's "For Your Consideration". Cate Blanchett exudes a haughty coolness laced with occasional hysteria, but it still feels by numbers.

For me, the real revelation was Kyle Chandler as Blanchett's on-screen husband, Harge (what kind of name is that?). A bullying, wounded beast, Chandler exudes a convincing blend of pain and confusion, and ultimately it's hard not to feel sorry for him. Well, I thought so, anyway.

It's not a bad film, but I had hoped for better.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Brooklyn

Very Ordinairy

(Edit) 19/04/2016

I thought I'd like this a lot, and had heard good things about the book and the film, but it was a hard slog.

Everyone and everything in Ireland and in Brooklyn was terribly clean and well scrubbed, with none of the drear and grime that you would associate with the era. Although they went to the trouble of filming the Brooklyn exteriors in Montreal as Brooklyn looks, apparently, too modern, the brownstones in Montreal look as if they might as well be in Williamsburg, and they might as well have been filmed on a backlot for all the atmosphere they generate.

Add a boring, linear and predictable plot plus the most irrational behaviour from the lead character and throw in a one-in-a-million coincidence "twist" before winding it up with those deadly cinematic devices all in a row: slow-motion reunion, patronising voice-over and freeze frame. It's a hard, if not impossible film to warm to, just a series of cliches and soap operatics as well as cloying Oirishness, to be sure. You don't have think too hard to know what kind of role Julie Walters plays, and Jim Broadbent appears as Barry Fitzgerald. A major disappointment and a waste of time.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Force Majeure

Damp, unfocused and overlong

(Edit) 19/01/2016

A family on a skiing holiday in the alps, while sitting on an outdoor terrace, witness an avalanche that threatens to sweep them away. At this point of danger and crisis, while the mother tends to the children, the father runs away and, when everyone survives, has to live with the consequences .

It's a great set-up to an overlong, tedious film that talks, talks and talks some more, ambling along, taking some strange digressions (what looks like the father's fantasy of being involved in a male-only, naked rave) that might well have something to do with the issues of masculinity, family duty and responsibility. It's hard to say. There's a lot of talking, but not much gets said. As with a lot of European films these days, this wanders on its way for nearly two hours before finally ending with the idea that the mother, who has held her husband to account, is no better and is happy to desert her children. As a reward, the husband starts smoking in a most manly way. No, I've no idea. A great set-up squandered by a lot of moaning, crying and self-pity, but nothing that cuts to the heart of the issue.

This is, as is noted by the other reviewer, billed as a "Comedy" or even "Dark Comedy". I've seen funnier cold sores.

2 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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Inherent Vice

Dismal and disappointing

(Edit) 30/09/2015

It's taken me a while to warm to Anderson as a director: I thought "Boogie Nights" was ho-hum and loathed the arrogant pretentious soap of "Magnolia", but really sat up and took notice at the grandeur and dark beauty of "There Will Be Blood" and even the skewed, frustrating "The Master". So, when I heard he'd done a Pynchon adaptation I was verrrry interested. I'm not a huge Pynchon fan: I've read two of his novels, including nine months spent getting through "Gravity's Rainbow", but he intrigues me, and it sounded like this was going to be a great, intelligent and complex 70s noir thing to equal "The Big Lebowski" or even "The Long Goodbye".

It doesn't come close.

This is, in fact, a long, dull, deadly disappointing trudge of a film, that paradoxically crams in too much plot and somehow ends up with none. A great cast is utterly wasted, relationships and chemistry are non-existent, and characters mill about and unload wadges of exposition by either whispering or mumbling or both. There is absolutely no texture or context to this whole thing, none of the cinematic language that would be needed to evoke any sort of atmosphere. Nobody seems to really have anything to do with anybody else as faceless and dull characters drift in and out and in again. There's an oh-so brief flicker of style when Martin Short appears as a coked-up dentist and for about a scene everything goes up a gear into a coke-paced, paranoid frenzy, but then it's back to people mumbling and/or whispering plot points to each other. More criminally, there is absolutely no effort to evoke any sort of period or sense of history. I'm pretty sure Pynchon chose the era with care, that teetering epoch between the dog-ends of flower power and the rise of Nixon and the Moral Majority, but this film doesn't seem to give a toss. Like everything else, it's left at the side of the road on this long, hard slog.

A dreadful, dreadful waste of time, talent and film stock.

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Only Lovers Left Alive

Failed Potential

(Edit) 25/08/2015

I liked the idea of this, a sort of brooding modern-day vampire love story set among the ruins Detroit, but after a while its inertia began to grate on me, as the lead character, (played by Tom Hiddleston as a man with a bit of a headache), mopes and sulks around his house like an adolescent goth. His partner, played by Tilda Swinton, comes off better, but here the differences are hammered home with the subtlety of a wooden stake: she dresses in pale colours, white or beige, has blond hair and pale complexion and smiles a lot, while he dresses in dark colours with black hair and scowls a lot. After this has been established - in about three minutes - not a lot happens. The Chekhovian concept of introducing a gun in the first act if you're going to use it in the third is half followed through, and the couple talk about all the famous people they've known in their long lives - apparently they used to hobnob with Keats, Shelley, Byron...obviously not the kind of vampires to keep a low profile or waste their time waiting tables or even being doctors. After much forboding and ominous "I had a dream about Eva last night" her sister Eva turns up and is played by Mia Wasikowska as a very annoying bratty teenager, which sets off a barely-interesting chain of events (although this does deliver the funniest line of the film) and the film sputters out from there. Beautifully shot, it has to be said, but otherwise rather empty and, due to its almost perverse avoidance of drama, quite dull.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Two Days, One Night

Flat Social Drama - without the drama

(Edit) 03/02/2015

I've been wanting to see this for a while, after all the five-star hyperbolic reviews on its release, so it was a real let down to have to actually sit through it. Dull, repetitive and repetitive, it follows Marion Cotillard as a factory worker who, over the course of a weekend, has to persuade her work colleagues to vote, on Monday, to forego their bonuses and subsequently let her keep her job - because management have declared that they can't do both. And so we watch her plod from place to place, ring doorbells, recite a plot recap and receive one of two answers with little variation. And then go on again. It all feels as if it's happening in real time, and there's no visual flair, no imagination or creative spark behind it. The entire film feels as if it's purposefully been drained of any drama or cinematic language, and the end result is deeply enervating.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.