Film Reviews by MB

Welcome to MB's film reviews page. MB has written 5 reviews and rated 6 films.

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A Man Escaped

Excellent film

(Edit) 11/02/2021

If you like escape from prison films then this is the daddy. The attention to detail is amazing and the performances are pretty much faultless and it's a true (how true I don't know) story to boot. Because it's B&W and set in WW2 it's almost got a documentary feel to it, conversations are minimal and the story is told in great detail visually, just how a good film should be. Add this to your list you won't regret it.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Barry Lyndon

Film making at its best

(Edit) 13/09/2020

In my opinion Barry Lyndon suffered from two unfortunate problems. Firstly it competed for attention with Jaws and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Secondly the film's title does not capture the audiences imagination. Shame.

Watching the film today (giving little thought to these two issues) is an eye opening treat. As a work of art it is truly remarkable and as an evocation of a long passed period of history it is without equal. The techniques employed by the director result in a film that feels like a documentary made in the 1770's! The attention to detail combined with the use of natural light results in the viewer having no problem suspending their disbelief and watching as if the events were being recorded as they happened. Quite astounding.

The story is not earth shaking but entertaining enough and trots along at a decent pace. The performances are excellent across the board and even Ryan O'Neal's Irish accent is passable.

For anybody remotely interested in 18th century life in Britain and the aristocracy in general this film is a must. 

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Ran

Committing heresy...

(Edit) 28/08/2020

I realise that  Kurosawa is held in high regard. I also realise that Scorsese is an enthusiastic champion of the man, so I'm on very dodgy ground here, but I was underwhelmed by this film. It has been described as an epic. Well I would point viewers in the direction of Lawrence of Arabia if epic is what they want. Then compare the two. Ran is no epic. 

I have what I call the 'machine gun test' which is to say if a madman were to run into the scene, any scene, and mow everybody down with a machine gun - would I care? I certainly would care if Quint, Hooper and Brody were mown down in the middle of Jaws. Likewise I would be most upset if this were to happen to Baxter and Kubelik in The Apartment. Not just because I like the characters,  I am also intrigued as to what will happen to them during the course of the film.

With Ran I had no such concerns and this is where the problems begin. When the film fails the machine gun test it starts a snowball effect in the mind. You start to analyse, maybe over analyse, other aspects and you find your mind wandering. Rather than being engaged in the moment to moment unfolding of the story and the emotional journey you are (hopefully) being taken on you just end up with a numb bum and looking at your watch. 

I could bang on about the issues I had with the direction of the photography but I won't open that can of worms. I regard it as the paramount job and the first hurdle of a film to engage its audience and in this respect Ran fails and thus it is mortally wounded  from the outset. 

There, I've said it.

I can hear film students loading machine guns of their own and pointing them in my direction and like my ambivalence towards the characters in Ran nobody except my own family and friends would mourn my passing.

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The Searchers

A great surprise...

(Edit) 28/08/2020

Let's get this straight from the outset. I'm not a great fan of John Wayne nor am I a particularly enthusiastic watcher of westerns. 

I watched this film because I felt it my duty to as Scorsese has mentioned it so favourably in many interviews. What a treat it was. The characters were engaging the story was gripping and the feeling of being transported to another time and world was powerful and entertaining. The film was not without its shocking moments too which I found brave and admirable considering the time in which it was made - Mr Waynes character and some of his actions certainly did not fit my preconceptions - which goes to show that preconceptions can be a good thing, as long as you are receptive to having them shattered and actually enjoy the process of mental re-alignment.

The portrayal of the native American characters has been criticised and not without justification but to dwell on this aspect of the film is, in my opinion, an error.

If you've not seen this film watch it. You won't be disappointed. You may even be surprised. I was.

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A Matter of Life and Death

This is as good as it gets....

(Edit) 28/08/2020

I find it difficult to write a 'review' of this film because it leaves me quite speechless. What a story! To have conceived of and written this masterpiece is truly a great accomplishment. To have then committed it to film with all the difficulties that that entails is quite remarkable. To have done so with such skill, beauty and imagination is nothing short of miraculous.

If you don't like this film. You don't like film.

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