Film Reviews by NP

Welcome to NP's film reviews page. NP has written 9 reviews and rated 465 films.

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Topaz

Underrated

(Edit) 27/04/2021

The sprawling, epic nature of this espionage story is its chief pleasure and most of the spy-craft sequences showcase Hitchcock's technical genius (especially the set-piece with the florist – a character entirely deserving of his own franchise). Okay, some of the actors leave something to be desired, but when the filmmaking is this impeccable I'm willing to overlook the flaws.

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Torn Curtain

Lesser Hitchcock is still better than most!

(Edit) 14/03/2021

If you're a Hitchcock acolyte, you may find more to enjoy here than you'd expect. If you're ambivalent or prone to dislike him, this is probably not going to be for you.

Formally, this is a very beautiful piece of work. Hitchcock's precision with the camera – never wasting a shot, always prioritising clarity – makes so many filmmakers look hopelessly slack and sloppy.

Is it his most sensational or compelling narrative? No, not by a long stretch; it might've worked better – and been more quintessentially Hitchcockian – if the film had followed Julie Andrews' questing female protagonist for all of its length, as it does in the early sections, instead of cleaving to Newman's stolid and rather uninteresting professor. It is also sadly lacking in a lot of the black humour that the director famously brought to his films.

Nevertheless, it is more than watchable in my opinion, with a few wonderful and idiosyncratic set-pieces, like the clumsy and brutal murder of the East German agent at the farmhouse, the encounter with the eccentric Polish countess (the most emotional part of the film) and the escape from the theatre.

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Stage Fright

A solid second tier Hitchcock thriller

(Edit) 15/12/2020

The 'All the world's a stage and every one of us is giving a performance' theme might be somewhat hoary, but Hitchcock delivers a reliably solid elaboration of it here, replete with the colourful supporting turns, sly humour and atmospherics that one would expect.

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Touchez Pas Au Grisbi

Nigh on perfect

(Edit) 16/10/2020

A nigh on perfect crime flick. Jean Gabin touches the sublime as an ageing gangster who just wants to go to bed. Also a clear influence on Scorsese's equally excellent The Irishman.

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Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain

A visual tour de force

(Edit) 30/09/2020

A visual tour de force. The rapid-fire editing and wirework transfigure the actors into living puppets inside an amorphous, ever-shifting psychedelic landscape, rendering a wuxia fantasy film into something more closely resembling an experimental Norman McLaren short. Filled with audacious imagery, like the sparks literally flying from off the side of the screen as two characters develop an almost instant physical chemistry. The plot is nonsense, of course, but one doesn't watch something like this for the story - it's pure, glorious spectacle.

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Domino

Intriguing, albeit flawed

(Edit) 22/07/2020

Surprisingly interesting and fun! I was not a fan at all of his last film, Passion, which I thought lacked the subversive wit and panache of De Palma when he's on form, and which is quite often back in evidence here. There's something spectacularly tasteless about making a Hitchcockian chase movie centred on Isis and domestic terrorism, but De Palma makes the inherent schlockiness of the material work in his favour, leaning into the tensions between the subject matter and the execution to make a disturbing commentary on the way Islamist extremism feeds on and becomes a warped version of online celebrity, as exemplified in the hilarious moment when a suicide bomber grins stupidly as he waits for a drone to descend into the bull ring and capture his 'close-up'.

Sure, its shoestring budget is all-too-apparent, and the choppy editing and abruptly sidelined characters expose the troubled production history, but it's notable that De Palma can still put together a more memorable set-piece with all of this against him than most filmmakers can muster with Hollywood backing.

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The Comfort of Strangers

Unheralded masterpiece

(Edit) 16/07/2020

Actually think this is an unheralded masterpiece. Christopher Walken is utterly terrifying and the film itself is chilling and mesmeric.

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The Long Gray Line

Unexpectedly profound

(Edit) 31/10/2019

Deeply moving and unexpectedly profound. Also, the cinematography on display here is consistently more experimental than whole swathes of modern art-house movies, using wide angles and borderline abstract geometric compositions to depict frail, mortal human bodies at the mercy of the unbending forces of military order and modern warfare.

How is it possible for John Ford to have made so many truly great movies?

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The Quiet Man

A John Ford masterpiece

(Edit) 20/08/2019

It's not been helpful for John Ford's legacy that many of his major films - like The Quiet Man - conceal their profound and ambivalent ruminations on tradition and culture and tolerance beneath such seemingly whimsical surfaces: it means that many inattentive modern viewers will come to his films unprepared for their manifold complexities and likely to dismiss them out of hand as little more than quaint and antiquated trifles.

Just one thing that leapt out at me on a first viewing is that the romance between Wayne and O'Hara must be one of the richest and strangest ever put onscreen: they're equal parts lovers, dupes, fighters and tormentors - both strong-willed and myopic yet sympathetic fools who goad and misunderstand and love each other, and can't see past their own cherished ideas to conceive of their partner's full subjectivity, until, blissfully, they finally do, in the movie's magnificent extended climax.

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