Film Reviews by DB

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

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20th Century Women

Usual teen angst coming-of-age drama, but a young cast keeps it fresh.

(Edit) 10/03/2018

I WANTED to see 20th Century Women because I'd seen good reviews about it. Also, I like Elle Fanning very much. Annette Benning is good as the mother in the central role, but she has done this sort of role before in both AMERICAN BEAUTY and THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT. ELLE FANNING is the best thing about the movie, her performance is just so natural and fresh. Good period detail too for 1979 and both BILLY CRUDUP and GRETA GERWIG help bulk up the cast and move the story along. A good rental.

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Free Fire

High expectations - but a big let down.

(Edit) 10/03/2018

IF EVER there was a case of me having very high expectations for a film, and really wanting to see it - and then having a crushing sense of disappointment - it is with FREE FIRE. I have seen BEN WHEATLEY films before, I like his last film, HIGH-RISE for instance. On paper, this looks so good: executive produced by MARTIN SCORSESE, and Ben Wheatley is a fresh British talent. The concept is simple enough: a shootout in a warehouse. But once the action started, I found the editing so frenetic that I quickly lost track of who everybody was. The Irish dialogue was hard to follow, because the accents were so thick and heavy (I aqctually watched the film twice - the second time with the subtitles option turned on). There was also a bit too much emphasis on John Denver on the soundtrack for my taste. It is South African actor, SHARLTO COPLEY who totally steals the show as Verne. In conclusion: I would have to say QUENTIN TARANTINO handled the same sort of material, but did it better in RESERVOIR DOGS and that was 25 years ago.

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Elle

I was expecting it to be much better.

(Edit) 10/03/2018

I QUITE LIKE European cinema - especially thrillers, and when I heard that ELLE starred ISABELLE HUPPERT and was directed by the Dutch PAUL VERHOEVEN I was immediately hooked. But that was before I saw the film. The sexual violence didn't bother me - I have seen worse in STRAW DOGS and CLOCKWORK ORANGE. More, it was the attitude of Huppert's main character: even towards the end when she finds out who her attacker is, she doesn't seem to bothered about punishing him. This was completely at odds with the rest of the film, with the earlier scene of Huppert on the gun range. Ultimately, very disappointing to me, and PAUL VERHOEVEN should go back to making erotic thrillers and sci-fi action movies in Hollywood.

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My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

NWR is a good film-maker, but not a nice person.

(Edit) 19/02/2018

ON THE recently released 40th Anniversary Blu Ray edition of the film "SORCERER" - director William Friedkin's 1977 classic, there is Bonus material: a two-handed interview with Friedkin and Nicolas Winding Refn, conducted at Friedkin's house all about why Sorcerer failed at the box office. Throughout this interview, you can see Friedkin getting more and more annoyed by Refn's continous asking of the same question in slightly different ways. "Nick, how many times do you want me to answer the same question?", Friedkin asks, his patience finally snapping. Throughout the interview, Refn displays a detached arrogance, constantly saying things like: "We all now that I am the new version of you" [Friedkin] and: "Hey, Bill. When did you know Sorcerer was a flop?" - to which the director responds with a cold: "No. You can call me Mr. Friedkin". And, it is Refn's frosty arrogance that carries over into this film - a documentary about the making of his 2013 movie, "ONLY GOD FORGIVES" - a film shot and set in Thailand, starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott-Thomas. The film was the follow-up to Refn's very successful DRIVE - and it tanked at the box office. Going back to the Friedkin interview, Refn calls ONLY GOD FORGIVES a "masterpiece", after which he is totally shot down by Friedkin.

This documentary is a companion piece to ONLY GOD FORGIVES (a film I have seen and happen to like), and it mostly shows Refn moping around in an unbuttoned white shirt, stuck in his Bangkok apartment on the 47th floor in a high-rise, worrying about the structure of the film, and how it will be received upon release. Most of the film is shot by Refn's wife, who also has to deal with her baby children. Once the film is done, the Refn's go back home in Denmark, where Refn goes through episodes of mania and doubt, convinced his film isn't good enough - but it does well at the Cannes Film Festival, so Refn is happy.

This documentary serves only die hard fans of Refn's work, and those who like Only God Forgives. It is scored by Refn's regular collaborator, CLIFF MARTINEZ, and the music is the best thing about the film. Thankfully, this documentary is only one hour long, and as Refn's wife says:

"I love you, but you are not easy to live with".

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Simon Killer

An American in Paris

(Edit) 19/02/2018

SIMON KILLER is a very unflinching movie in it's depiction of the seedy underworld of Paris. A brilliantly made indie flick, with strong performances, brutal sex scenes and a sort of detached, observational cinematography that puts the viewer right in the heart of the city.

The film pulls no punches and is often an uncomfortable watch, but a rewarding one. Central to the story is Simon - an American loner, just split up with his girlfriend, who has a shady, violent past. We don't know what he's done, but he is certainly not a killer (despite the film's title). Simon is a brilliant performance by young actor/director BRADY CORBET (a man who's career I followed with interest since I saw him in THUNDERBIRDS (2004), and Corbet is no stranger to this sort of material, since he has been on the indie circuit for years, making films like MELANCHOLIA (2011) and MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2004), another very tough film to watch).

SIMON KILLER really surprised me. I didn't know what to expect.I have seen it twice, and it feels very fresh and new. Not to everybody's taste, but I hope to see more of this type of film-making.

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