Film Reviews by ML

Welcome to ML's film reviews page. ML has written 5 reviews and rated 406 films.

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Haunting of Cellblock 11

Absolutely terrible

(Edit) 21/03/2015

Why has this film got four stars on this site? It has considerably less everywhere else there is a review.

So bad it's almost unwatchable. Every single horror cliche is explored by sub-standard actors from inexplicably malfunctioning cameras capturing something to yokels warning the incomers "to stay away from that place, it's bad news!" The special effects are bad, the script is untenable, and while the two leads are passable every other actor is, at best, not getting the "support" they need from the director.

It's 85 minutes long counting the enormous introductory credit sequence and the actual ghost hunt doesn't begin until the forty minutes mark. There is about 36 minutes of actual action and most of that is the anchor of the fictional tv show around which the film is based saying "is anyone there?!" for the camera.

Bad, bad, avoid.

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The Silence of the Lambs

"The World Is More Interesting With You In It"

(Edit) 15/05/2014

I haven't seen this on any format other than video, so to see it on DVD was a real treat. I had never before heard Clarice mutter "Bill..." under her breath when she first views his handiwork - every bit as iconic as Will Graham's realisation that "it's just you and I now, sport" in prequel Manhunter.

Another enhancement was the distant wind blowing through the obscene ballroom where she tells Hannibal, played by a near-best Anthony Hopkins hamming i up as "pure psychopath" and confident Lecter. Basically, it was nice to see it again.

Because it's genius, or near genius. It's gripping, runs a taught detective thriller alongside the most stirring of psychological interaction between two of the three leads, horrific - the fact that the mess of gore in Buffalo Bill's basement viewed just before the lights go out doesn't even make the top five most memorable moments from this dyed-in-the-wool horror story tells its own story - and it doesn't patronise. Must see cinema. Violent, stirring, clever, even when it tips over into melodrama.

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Angel of Mine

Creeping Beauty

(Edit) 11/05/2014

So one woman begins to stalk another woman's family based upon her belief, dismissed by her own parents and partner, that the child she lost in a fire seven years ago is now mysteriously a member of her family. That it is based upon a true story seems undeniable, as the ending is just too perfectly realised to be anything else but true - the two central performances are stubbornly prosaic but this is the directors intention, and both leads carry it off beautifully while the men in the movie stamp about totally bereft of even the vaguest inkling as the greatest of dramas quietly unfolds in their family homes.

That its the stalker rather than the stalkee to whom we are introduced first is beautifully balanced by the unfolding of the rather astonishing plot; that we are brought into the life of the stalker just in time to see it delineate to the specific point that will define it is also a great little device.

On the downside, nothing happens for huge swathes of the movie and it has a fell of a shorter film that is stretched out to 90 minutes because that's how long films are. It also lacks the emotional punch of a film like I've Loved You So Long which enjoys similar revelations and pacing. Still, a very decent stab and certainly worth 90 minutes of your time.

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White Dog

Grim Mutt

(Edit) 11/05/2014

The American release of this (American) film was hamstrung by a panicked studio (Paramount) that was out-and-out terrified by what it had on its hands - namely, nothing less than the most uncompromising look at racism in the United States up until that point.

The mode for this study is a struggling actress, played with an attractive open-faced tension by the underexposed Kristy McNichol, who hits a beautiful big pure-white german shepherd in her car one night and makes a deep connection with him after he comes between her and an attacker.

But the dog has a problem - he has been trained to attack African Americans on sight, and does so, viciously.

The question, then, is this; can racism be unlearned once it has been learned? Is the endless cycle of advice she receives to "have him put to sleep" the only advice? Or is there something more that can be done? Paul Winfield is at his best playing animal-trainer "Keys", determined to find out.

The tension is maintained superbly by occasionally obscuring the colour of the incidental characters that cross the dogs path - a person's colour is portrayed, not as incidental, but as the only thing that matters, literally. The reason is rampant, institutionalised racism. The film tells us, a persons colour only matters when the beholder is a racist. The notion that the film itself is racist is ludicrous.

Giving more away would be spoiling, but it's an absorbing and challenging movie, and recommended - though Old Yeller it ain't.

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Breakfast on Pluto

Speak up!

(Edit) 11/05/2014

Cillian Murphy will have a stab at just about anything, and whilst it was unquestionably de riguer for a "serious" actor to have a transsexual role on his ledger during the last two decades, and that this has become a little tiresome, I was interested to see what he would bring. The answer is, not a great deal. By 2005 the weeks spent in the company of "a drag queen and her friends" was not something unusual and seemed to have informed Cillian's performance in such a way as to demand he speaks in such a tiny voice that it is often difficult to hear him. He does get to the heart of the character he portrays, but the structure of the film - based firmly upon the source novel - is such that he never really gets to work up a layered version of his character, and it becomes something more akin to an actors study than a deeply involved portrayal.

"Kitten" Braden, Irish and less sexually confused than sexual confusing, waltzes his way through school without the imagined assorted issues as she enjoys a character simply too big to be impacted by the rural maulings of (fictional) border town "Tyrellin". In fact it's not until she brushes up against the IRA that real problems begin to beset her as she happily trades in her home and boyfriend in order to do the right thing - whatever the cost.

An inexplicably present and woefully underused Liam Neeson flits in and out of the narrative providing a decent grounding for the story when he appears in this otherwise flighty, rather groundless, anaemic movie buoyed but not rescued by Murphy and Neeson.

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