Film Reviews by JB

Welcome to JB's film reviews page. JB has written 10 reviews and rated 176 films.

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The Men's Room: Series

Dated

(Edit) 09/09/2019

I chose this film because I'm a great fan of both Bill NIghy and Harriet Walter, and I wanted to see their early work. Unfortunately, as the previous review stated, the film definitely shows it age, not only in the men's big hair. It was not particularly well acted and didn't hold my interest.

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Lion

A Beautiful Film

(Edit) 04/07/2017

This review contains spoilers.

A four-year-old boy in rural India goes to sleep in an empty train and is carried 1500 km to Calcutta, a totally foreign world where he is too young to be able to explain where he comes from. He escapes harrowing incidents with child-traffickers and a Dickensian orphanage to finally be adopted by an Australian couple. There he grows to young manhood in a loving and supportive family. It would appear that he is headed for a happy and secure life, but he can not escape the need to try to find the life and the mother he was ripped away from 25 years earlier. Google Earth and a few dim geographical memories are all he has to go on.

You know he's going to succeed - the film just wouldn't quite make sense if he didn't - and indeed he does. The reunion with his mother is a very touching scene. The thing is, if this were just some script writer's imagined story, it would seem altogether too contrived to be believable. But that's not what it is: it's a very accurate (as far as I have been able to discover) retelling of that child's true story. Somehow, knowing that makes all the difference in the world to me. The film closes with genuine photographs of the Australian family through the years, and a brief video of the meeting in India of the adoptive and biological mothers is enough to bring tears to a statue.

As one review stated, "Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre." I couldn't agree more.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Toni Erdmann

Not Your Usual Comedy

(Edit) 04/07/2017

I was torn between 3 and 4 stars for this film. 3 because there were some slow parts, mostly dealing with business negotiations, that left me a bit bored; 4 because there are some brilliantly funny bits and because the film as a whole is strikingly original in concept and execution. I decided the 4 stars won out. Clearly the film bears no similarity to your typical Hollywood comedy. It bounces around between the comic, the mundane and the truly bizarre in a totally unpredictable fashion. Indeed, one thing I really liked about the film is that you never know where it is going. The film is about what is meaningful in life and in relationships, although it asks more than answers those questions. One might say that the bizarre twists of the film are allegories for the more normal twists and turns of one's own life. It's a film asking you to think about what is happening between the characters rather than a film with plot and action to entertain you.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Papusza

A Lovely and Haunting Film

(Edit) 19/06/2017

The Synopsis and Photos on the site here tell you pretty much everything you need to know. If you are into slow moving stories revealing the inner lives of people of other cultures, you can't go wrong with this one. Obviously, if car chases and special effects are your thing, then you need to look elsewhere. I gave it 4 stars rather than 5 because it was a little slow even for me. On a different night it might well have been 5. I should add that, although pretty much everything works out badly for the main characters, the overall effect is to affirm the human spirit rather than to paint life as meaningless.

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Disappointing

(Edit) 01/06/2017

I enjoyed the original film - it was a light bit of fluff but well put together and one could be interested in the character development. But this, the sequel, just doesn't make it. There are the occasional humorous bits, but the significant characters, especially Sonny, are over the top, the plot development (if you can call it that) is transparent, and there was nothing to hold my interest. I must admit to only getting about half way through it before giving up and turning it off.

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The Young Pope

So Disappointing

(Edit) 04/03/2017

I really wanted to like this series. I was hoping for an offbeat drama with sly humour, interesting characters and maybe even some insight into the conflict of the spiritual life struggling in a massive bureaucracy. Wrong on all counts. What little humour there was is puerile, the characters are all cardboard cutouts and, if there are any insights to be had, they somehow slipped by my awareness. How a young man who is a completely amoral narcissist came to be elected pope is never given any explanation, and the entire Vatican hierarchy is so hapless that one can not find any attempt at either a meaningful or genuinely satiric commentary. I hung on for the entire first episode hoping it would improve and start to develop into an engaging story. It didn't.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Italian for Beginners

A Delightfully Quirky Danish Film

(Edit) 09/01/2017

Italian for Beginners deals with a year in the lives of a small group of adults who connect through a tiny evening class for learning Italian. The film, which won numerous international awards including a Silver Bear at Berlin, is a light comedy, though with few laugh-out-loud moments, finding its humour in the foibles of daily life rather than in slapstick or one-liners. The main characters are all somewhat lonely people looking for, if not love, then at least, companionship. You can't help but root for these slightly awkward but likeable loners and hope that somehow they will break through to make the connections they are looking for. The film reminds me a bit of Woody Allen's more cerebral comedies. If you enjoyed those films (and don't mind sub-titled foreign films) I think you'll love this one.

Sidelight: The film was inspired by Maeve Binchy's novel Evening Class which followed a similar adult class in beginning Italian set, of course, in Ireland.

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Red Monarch

A Disappointment

(Edit) 18/09/2016

I had high hopes of an entertaining comedy with perhaps some good social commentary as well. Unfortunately, from the start the dialogue was almost entirely unintelligible, and there was no subtitles option. I watched for about 10 minutes, caught very little of what was said, and of the little I followed the comedy appeared pretty lame. Also the general look of the production was one of a cheaply made tv sitcom. So 10 minutes, that was it, back it went.

Admittedly this might (though I doubt it) be a 3 or 4 star film if you could understand what was said, and, if your ears are better than mine, maybe you can. But there is definitely nothing about this film I can recommend.

1 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Brooklyn

A Lovely, Touching Film

(Edit) 18/09/2016

Okay, let's get it out front. I don't like action films, or superheroes, or car chases, or amazing special effects. I like films that quietly illuminate the depths of people's lives. Nothing much needs to happen other than that you follow the developments and contradictions in the lives of characters you can really care about...that something in the film tells you a little bit about the struggles in your own life. If that's what you like, too, then I'm pretty sure you'll love this film. I don't give many films five stars. 'Nuff said.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Very Pleasantly surprised

(Edit) 02/11/2015

I had no idea what to expect from this film other that it had received mixed reviews. For the first few minutes of watching I was still unsure. Then I tuned in to its quirky offbeat style and loved every minute. You'll probably love it or hate it, too. Only one way to find out!

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