Film Reviews by PV

Welcome to PV's film reviews page. PV has written 826 reviews and rated 1666 films.

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Hannibal Series

Brooding, Classy Grand Guignol Psychological Horror

(Edit) 08/03/2021

I really enjoyed this. True, when one has seen The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Red Dragon it takes some adjustment to the new characters esp Hannibal Lecter, the devil or Mephistopheles figure, played in movies by Brian Cox then Oscar-winning Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins.

But Mads Mikkelson is a class act as an actor (see THE HUNT a great Danish film) and so we are in safe hands - he plays Hannibal as a Dandy, and does so to perfection. The food prep and shots are wonderful, filmed by a TV advert guy.

Other actors and great and the ingeniously gory and gruesome murders.

Filmed in Toronto. A great cast, superb writing with a dark brooding tone, lost of flashbacks and dream sequences. Atmospheric creepy music in the soundtrack tooo. Proper adult drama - but just a shame re the very puritan coy US TV restrictions on human nakedness which sometimes makes things absurd.

I loved it. 5 stars.

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Hannibal: Series 2

Enjoyable , Brooding, Psychological Horror, with Gory Grand Guignol + Elegance Galore

(Edit) 01/03/2021

I enjoyed series 1 of this enormously and series 2 continues, with really elegant episodes and brooding characters engaged in psychological warfare.

New characters like Mason Verger tie in with the movie HANNIBAL with the pigs etc.

Not sure about Beverly Katz - such a Jewish name and in the book the character is Jewish, but here a Chinese/Oriental actress is cast. Nothing against her, but the name is a mismatch!

Of course, one has to suspend one's disbelief - any mass murderer like this arranging body parts would be caught by DNA despite precaations, CCTV of all shops and houses nearby, satellite tracking, NPR and passers-by. But hey ho, this is all fantasy.

Watch to the VERY end of episode 13 to see how it continues AFTER the credits. The 3 short featurettes on the last DVD are fine, but on disc 2 there is one over an hour long which is superb.

I really enjoy this series. Maybe because it is elegant, intelligent and classy - like me! lol

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Hannibal: Series 1

Absolutely Brilliant TV Series with Breath-taking Attention to Detail

(Edit) 28/02/2021

I had no idea what to expect of this BUT have long admired Mads Mikkelsen as an actor (eg The Hunt) so know he would nail it, and he does, with other characters. He plays Hannibal Lecter as a dandy, and the cooking skills are admirable! References to future films of The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Red Dragon make me want to watch them again, esp the latter.

The story is complex and all very moody in tone, with the sort of long pauses and time taken for emotions to register which may try the patience of youngsters with short attention spans. This then is really not for those with puppy brains.

However, I revelled in the psychological complexity here, the mind games, though of course suspension of disbelief is needed - in reality DNA, CCTV, and NPR would catch a killer pretty quickly.

This is highly enjoyable 'grand guignol' drama - to the reviewer who called it 'icky', OH PURLEASE? It;s Hannibal Lecter. So what were you expecting then? Unicorns, rainbows and group hugs with teletubbies?

Loved it. 3 series apparently all filmed in Toronto. Then TV company cancelled it because of lower ratings. Maybe not a bad thing - some of these US box set series go on way too long.

Loving it for now! 5 stars.

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Isle of Dogs

Awful, Boring, Ugly, Pretentious Japanese-animation-style Wes Anderson Bore-fest movie

(Edit) 22/02/2021

I hated this and have NO idea how anyone can give it 4 or 5 stars.

To be honest, I have hated all Wes Anderson movies I have seen. I have no idea what people see in them. They are dreadful! I just do not get it.

I turned this off half way through. It's a weird and boring Japanese-set animation - not pretty at all. No fun. Not profound though no doubt it thinks it is. Maybe inspired by Japanese Manga animation and comics which hold NO interest for me.

One star, if that.

There are so many lovely animal animations out there. Watch the original 101 DALMATIANS if you like dogs, Not this barking twaddle.

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It's a Sin

Cartoon-character Fantasy 1980s gay drama about HIV/AIDS, spoilt by pc woke posturing

(Edit) 15/02/2021

This could have been good. It could have been accurate. It could have focused on HIV/AIDS in the 80s as many remember it.

Instead it chooses, like most UK TV drama now, to go full woke. SO it's all about race here with a diverse multiculti cast which is simply NOT realistic for 1981 - or now, with very few black/Asian out gay men.

Worse, but typical of TV drama now, every single white male - straight white males - is presented as a thick ignorant buffoon at best, and quite often as nasty, evil, bigoted monsters. SO that racism and sexism is OK then? It is pure bigotry - unpleasant, unnecessary and deeply hypocritical (because the drama purports to want tolerance and no racism/sexism and prejudice against people because of their sexuality). This modern trend is vile yet present in so much TV drama, many movies and sadly too many books including children's books. It really is vile.

The lazy Welsh stereotypes irked too. Yes, because in the 1980s all Welsh people were ignorant bumpkins who lived on eating faggots and peas and Welsh cakes. For goodness sake. Watch the movie 'Pride' so see how it should be done - though that falls back on lazy valleys stereotypes.

It's all very cartoony and shriek-y and drama school flamboyant (believe it or not there are many gay men who do not behave like this). That's fine, as it goes, but I find it increasingly tiresome - like watching a local stage school musical with all those keen moisturised young faces yell-scream-singing at you, in the business of SHOW.

There's a great TV drama to be made about the 1980s HIV/AIDS issue and the life of gay men then. This is not it.

Two stars because it is 'good in parts'. In fact one and a half stars rounded up. The ever-irritating Stephen Fry loses another half point.

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Moffie

Enjoyable, interesting film about South Africa in 1981

(Edit) 30/01/2021

I enjoyed this film, and found it interesting - it is rare to see Afrikaans characters in movies, other than cartoon baddies in so many films about the Apartheid years of South Africa - the richest country in Africa arguably specifically because that system ran it well and meant the country avoided communism and tribal wars and corruption of so many basket case African countries.

I found the extras fascinating - so watch those on the DVD. The boot camp preparation for these actors looks painful!

I generally enjoyed the story, which was well cast and well acted. Whether the gay love story strand is believable or not is another matter, though the film is based on autobiographical books.

Many of the characters certainly ring true to any tale of army life.

So 4 stars. And good to watch this with the documentary 'Searching for Sugarman' about a US singer huge in South Africa at this time, who then vanished into obscurity, as the main theme song is a cover of his biggest hit I WONDER.

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Better Call Saul: Series 5

The enjoyable Breaking Bad Spin-off continues...

(Edit) 30/01/2021

OK so one thing about these BETTER CALL SAUL series - so many months pass between me watching them that I've forgotten who is who and what happened, so sometimes get lost in the labyrinthine plots and time frames, and confuse characters.

It may help to watch the lot close together therefore - Breaking Bad then this - in as short a time period as possible. I did struggle to understand what was happening at times. But if you let it all wash over you and enjoy the ride, then it's fine...

Not as great as the sublime Breaking Bad, especially the early series of that, but good to see old faces again. No way can anyone compete with Bryan Cranston though! Good to see Fring again.

As with Breaking Bad, some lovely original opening sequences and mucho fun in the scorching desert. And there is the usual drug cartel ultra violence and piles of money too.

Seems to end a tad prematurely - I sort of expected more from this series. Apparently there'll be another. We'll see...

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The Workshop

Typically Pretentious and Wordy Arty French Film

(Edit) 28/01/2021

Well what to say? Some older jobless teens apparently who left school with no qualifications get together in the south of France to sit around looking arty and angsty and serious while in some sort of writers' workshop where they intend to write a novel. Ho hum.

I was quite surprised that the debate was so free and open and applaud the French for that - far better than pc woke Britain where at least 3 students would be expelled from this class for what they say (and the teacher) and maybe arrested by the pc gestapo for 'hate crime' 'being offensive' or causing 'hurty feelings'.

And the supposed extreme right extremism plot strand is absurd as what the alleged extremist said (a country being able to secure its borders, prevent illegal immigration and terrorism) seems eminently sensible, surely?

It all looks pretty in the south of France. So one star for the scenery. The other for the acting. No stars for the non-story and the absurd third act.

Honestly, how do films like this even get made? I smell EU funding. Or some bloated pretentious pompous arts body.

Want to watch a film satirising writing workshops then there are others - better ones. Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger ( I think) and one called The Retreat maybe, and campus comedies about absurd creative writing courses.

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100 Bloody Acres

Really Enjoyable Australian OTT Comedy Horror

(Edit) 28/01/2021

I really enjoyed this Aussie movie. It's a farcical OTT comedy horror - like a comic version of Wolf Creek or Wrong Turn.

Some original and laugh-out-loud moments. The Brit trippy traveller fake hippy is hilarious. No spoilers but loads of fun had with that. Horrific trippy fun.

The only thing I though misfired was the more sexual element introduced, no doubt for shock value. Not even sure one female character is needed in that third act. Not a really believable plot or character arc but so what?

But a really good fun popcorn movie. Grand Guignol comedy horror and really great fun.

4 stars.

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The Black Hen

Unusual Nepali film

(Edit) 23/01/2021

Well this is probably the first Nepali film i have watched and may well be the last.

It's so-so, very slow-moving and sometimes confusing. Some cliched sequences too.

But it ticks the world cinema boxes. Stunning mountain scenery.

I do not know much about Nepal BUT I did know about Maoist rebels (remember Chairman Mao killed over 30 million people) and the caste system (which the British in India tried to end but couldn't). The caste discrimination is endemic throughout India of course, yet accepted.

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Gangs of London

Far-fetched, VERY violent, British gangster drama set in London, Wales, Asia...

(Edit) 17/01/2021

OK so I was not sure what to expect from this.

To be fair, it is no more unbelievable that other dramas base don supposed truth, like US drama The Americans - it is drama not documentary, after all.

I suspect I am the wrong demographic for this, (teenage boys and those who like action movies are), though I thought The Sopranos and esp Breaking Bad were sublime - premier league stuff. This is occasionally interesting and entertaining, though sometimes clunky, with cartoon characters and shoot-em-up nasty violence which no doubt aims to shock (though so extreme is it that it isn't really credible).

However, like so much UK drama it is painfully slow in parts - reminds me of Hinterland, the Welsh TV drama with all those shots of people staring into the middle distance and thinking, for ages, looking all profound. Oddly that is counterbalanced here with very violent scenes and stylised violence which will no doubt appeal to kids and esp the south-east Asian market (so no surprise that the director specialised in martial arts films and lives in south-east Asia). I think perhaps SPOOKS is the only UK crime drama that doe snot do this and is fast-paced and snappy throughout.

A shame I thought that no native English gangsters were shown - there have been plenty, the Krays and the Richardson gang still going as are others. It;s no all ethnic gangs - and maybe they strived to tick too many diversity boxes here.

Annoyingly, as in many dramas and movies, a lot of characters look alike too which makes a sometimes confusing plot even more confusing.

Ho hum, Meh for me. Not dreadful, but unsure if I shall bother with series 2. Maybe I shall rewatch Breacking Bad or The Sopranos instead.

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The Ruling Class

VERY dated, overlong (2.5 hours!), dull, unfunny, meandering film based on a late 1960s stage play

(Edit) 17/01/2021

This is a curiosity piece and has not aged well. It is so dated and is in the same camp therefore as The Magic Christian; No Sex Please, We're British; There's a Girl in My Sleep; and even the Beatles baffling Magical Mystery Tour TV film - and even Oh What a Lovely War, the film. ALL are very 1960s. Most are so stagey too, theatre plays not adapted much for the screen.

This is so long - I actually read a book while enduring all two and a half hours of it, because it was so meandering and, yes, dull. Not even an all star cast can save this from its overbearing tedium and failure as drama, however surreally clever it thinks it is. Watch Alistair Sim in the black and white 1951 Scrooge instead and the brilliant Dad's Army 1970s series, 'discriminatory language which may offend' and all.

Everything about it is horribly dated - the fashions, concept, music, even the satire because the elite now is not the aristocracy or the church or old white men dreaming of the British empire at all. No, the elite that rules over us now are those imposing the orthodox ideology of political correctness and wokedom on us all. In many ways, the Brexit vote was against their aloof smuggery. That is the new elite.

So this satire which may have seemed shocking in the last 60s (the theatre restrictions from the Lord Chancellor's office only ended in 1966) is now a museum piece and utterly irrelevant. After all, Eton now is at least 20% BAME and women dominate many professions too, many privately educated.

Listening to the random musical sketches in this I was struck by how it may well have inspired Dennis Potter to write The Singing Detective and his other TV dramas.

2.5 stars rounded up. Watch for curiosity, not entertainment or humour, because if you do the latter you'll be sorely disappointed.

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Contagion

End of the world doom-fest virus movie, one of many, which does NOT predict the Covid19 pandemic

(Edit) 16/01/2021

This is one of those movies with quick-fire dialogue and everyone talking over each other. SO subtitles recommended maybe, and also rewinding and rewatching scenes. esp those discussing complex financial stuff (which even the moneymen and women do not understand when they sell them to the gullible). Written by Scott Z Burns. I liked the international aspect - ranging from Hong Kong to London and more.

Jude Law and other British actors excel here. The brilliant Bryan Cranston plays a general before Breaking Bad made him a superstar. 1970s Hollywood star Elliot Gould rocks up too!

Lots of rot has been written about how this movie somehow predicted the Covid pandemic.

Nope, it didn;t; it's just another viral epidemic movie (and ultimately an END OF THE WORLD fear story and they are as old as humanity). Many have been made. Flemish Belgian TV drama CORDON a decade ago; Brilliant British film THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (the best virus film ever and predicts the Covid19 pandemic better in a way than this); 28 DAYS LATER; and in 1975 SURVIVORS was terrifying at the time (ignore the woke pc remake). THE MAD DEATH (1981) another British TV drama back when they were good and concerned more with drama than ticking diversity boxes and preaching pc propaganda. Even INFERNO from the Dan Brown book covers the same ground. It is ultimately jet fear of death on a micro and macro scale.

This movie just shows how quickly a pandemic can spread. which is always terrifying. Epidemics and pandemics can and do happen - it was never IF but WHEN. One could say the same re the coming resistance to antibiotics which will kill many this century, and of course overpopulation which means Nature will cull us, sadly after so much of Nature has been destroyed.

Watch the EXTRA little film first before watching as that sums up how a pandemic starts, and we are living it now (and yet again, as with this movie, China caused it). This movie even shows a vile wet market where most thing coronavirus started with the animal abuse there and Chinese demand for eating wildlife. This movie is more civilised - watch the very end to see how it started. More viruses will emerge from the wild the more certain amoral empires deforest them and demand wildlife to eat. Blame where blame is due. Make them pay.

Music's a bit dodgy and I am no Soderbergh fan. But this is a decent watch.

4 stars

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The Americans: Series 6

Final series of a wonderfully tense and exciting 1980s set spy thriller

(Edit) 10/01/2021

I loved this series and was sad to see it end BUT, as with so many US TV dramas, it went on a tad too long probably.

And a serious suspension of disbelief is needed - which is OK because it is drama. The same was needed with Breaking Bad. These are heroes or anti-heroes and live superhero lucky lives really. I think every single spy story was shoehorned into the plot in The Americans. Also some pc wokery with the female character taking the active role here and the male one staying home. This 'strong independent' female character in films, TV drama and books (for adults and kids) is now such a new cliche and stereotype - never are women portrayed as needy, teary ort asking a man to fix stuff (as in real life LOL). Just watch Indiana Jones to see how things have changed - and not necessarily for the better.

The acting is great - the main leads incl the Welsh actor Matthew Rhys and the boy and girl too who grew up with the show from 2013-18. I also loved Magdelena (I think that;'s her name) the older female Russian KGB woman.

But tbh I think the 'secret' was staring the world in the face for years - so much so that even my late Aunt Betty could have worked it out (and was deaf and blind, and is rather dead too). So Stan and the other FBI ''experts' must be the slowest dimmest FBI spy-catchers in history! Not quite sure I believe the final episode either and the behaviour of Agent Beeman. BUT as I said, this is fantasy and fiction. It is drama not documentary.

Nevertheless, t all works rather well, despite some flaws, and is way superior to ANY UK TV drama esp anything on the woke preachy pc BBC these days.

A great box set. I could watch it all again! Great 80s music too.

4.5 stars rounded down.

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120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)

Very French, Slightly Overlong Drama about HIV/AIDS campaigns in late 80s Paris

(Edit) 09/01/2021

This started poorly, I thought - no spoilers but to be honest I almost turned it off at this point. Glad I didn't as the drama and characters develop well telling a story I didn't know.

No exact dates given but it seems like the late 80s - the Mitterand years in France anyway when, shockingly, it seems the French rates of HIV/AIDS were double what they were in the UK and Germany. This is no doubt because, despite all the avant-garde posturing smoking Galloise in dark cafes discussing Jean-Paul Satre and Simone Beauvoir, France is really a deeply conservative place (women got the vote way later than in the UK). It is in essence still a rural and southern European country with Catholic values, despite a secular state school system.

Of course, Paris is not France, as any French person will tell you. This is set in Paris.

Anyway, all interesting and some superb scenes using special effects in a nightclub (no spoilers).

At first I thought the third act was extraneous and unnecessary, but as it went on I realised it is what makes really this film. No US movie or UK TV drama probably would dare to do this. So BRAVO!

Reminds me a bit of the best film ever made about drug addiction (forget Trainspotting nonsense). 'Oslo 31, August 2011'.

4 stars. Would be 5 if the very many word political meeting scenes were cut down. Some flab needs losing there.

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