Film Reviews by JB

Welcome to JB's film reviews page. JB has written 4 reviews and rated 586 films.

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Amarcord

One of Fellini's best

(Edit) 05/06/2021

For me, Amarcord ranks with La Dolce Vita and 8½ as the very best of Fellini - an apparently effortlessly fluid blending of the carnivalesque and the tender, of the deeply personal and the political. One quick factual correction - FG's review complains that the DVD obliges you to watch the dubbed English-language version. It doesn't. The set-up options allow you to select the Italian version with English subtitles. And the sound quality is perfectly fine.

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We Need to Talk About Kevin

Cartoonish

(Edit) Updated 04/05/2020

One wouldn't expect great subtlety from anything derived from Lionel Shriver's novel, but the crudity of this film is remarkable. There's barely a single believable scene in the entire thing, as two ludicrously mismatched adults (he's an obtuse dimwit and she's an ex-"adventurer", we're supposed to believe - which just seems to mean that she's written some guidebooks) struggle to deal with a child who is borderline satanic virtually from the outset. Virtually their only attempt to properly address their son's absurdly confrontational behaviour is to consult a doctor whose perfunctory response to the boy is every bit as incredible as that of the parents'. Every single character is a badly drawn cartoon (the mother's lumpen workmates are a particularly ridiculous gang of caricatures), and the splashes of blood-red that appear as a visual motif throughout the film epitomise the heavy-handedness of the whole enterprise. I very much liked Lynne Ramsay's early films, but this is woeful.

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Destroyer

Ridiculous

(Edit) Updated 09/12/2019

A film so flamboyantly bad that at times I found myself laughing. The direction is hackneyed and the script veers between the banal and the preposterous - there's barely a cliché of the genre that doesn't get an airing here. That said, a more subtle actor than Nicole Kidman might have made something of this low-grade material. Her performance here, however, is ridiculously histrionic. Instead of plausible characterisation, we're presented with an impersonation that's nearly all surface: but dead eyes, greasy hair, wrecked complexion, shambling gait and near-catatonic mumbling are not enough. The rawness that some reviewers have praised in this film I found to be wholly bogus. Kidman is at her best, I think, playing characters for whom life itself is a performance - as in To Die For, for example. Here, the relentless self-consciousness makes the character profoundly unbelievable.

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High Life

Portentous and hollow

(Edit) 02/10/2019

For me, the films of Claire Denis tend to fall short of the intellectual heft to which they obviously aspire, and I found this one especially weak - I think the New Yorker review hits the nail on the head: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/high-life-reviewed-claire-deniss-disappointing-journey-into-space. But the two previous one-star reviews are peculiarly inaccurate. Yes, the baby is central to the opening twenty minutes. But she cries for ninety seconds, in total. Literally, ninety seconds.

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