Film Reviews by GJ

Welcome to GJ's film reviews page. GJ has written 23 reviews and rated 64 films.

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The Lighthouse

Likable but deranged

(Edit) 11/04/2021

I liked the lighthouse . It reminded me of one of those films Orsen Welles made late in his career . It showcases Robert Pattisons talent and from this film it is considerable. William Defoe, on the other hand , though an acting powerhouse made the wrong choice here. His Captain Birdseye impersonation is jarring and though he delivers a good monologue or two could have toned it down and be a bit more menacing .

It's a bold film with some intentionally unintentional laughs and there's some good acting by a flock of seagulls

If you want to spend the running time with a set of deranged characters and a good drink this is the film for you

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The Black Hole

decent possibilities pulled into a black hole of poor direction

(Edit) 21/03/2021

Just watched it recently and it's not as bad as I remember it . It's quite a serious film for the post star wars late 70s sci-fi period

The problem is poor static direction . The actors have nothing to do so they either chew the scenery or act in a comatose state . Films of this type are morality plays and if the script had attempted to really push the mortality and immortality theme using each character a lot more we would have got a satisfying film. . Unfortunately this film will only remembered for poor acting and poorly realised robots cashing in on the star wars craze .

On the plus side the production design is very good and some visuals still hold up and the actors are put through a physical workout particularly in anti gravity scenes

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Succession

Top Tier Series

(Edit) 17/01/2021

A fantastic series . Each episode is enthralling from start to finish with great writing , acting and direction.

I would give this 4.8 out of 5 if i could . I hope this series retains its high quality throughout the rest of its run.

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Succession: Series 1

Elegant Dark Comedy

(Edit) 30/08/2020

As the first episode progresses you wonder if this is a drama , a thriller or a political mystery ... the series has elements of all of these - but it is also a very black comedy. These characters are unlikable but you are drawn to each of them as their fortunes fluctuate .

There is something magnetic about power - you are drawn into a kind of bunker mentality that the privileged and their followers possess . You just have to see what's happening in America today to see that bunker mentality of the rich and powerful in the White House

The production values are solid as are the performances . This is now into series 3 so it will be interesting to see how this story and its characters develop.

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The Expanse

This series is truly expansive

(Edit) 28/06/2020

You can tell a quality series when you trust and care about the core characters and when secondary characters can carry their own story arcs improving the series even further.

The series starts as a gritty and detailed take on life in the center of our solar system . There is a lot to get familiar with to begin with but it's with the introduction of a proto-molecule plot and it's potential when the series really gets into focus and hits its stride.

There are no weak characters and the series treats the grandiose and the personal with equal care .

The move from Netflix (syfy channel) to Amazon has only helped with feature film level visuals and hopefully the series will maintain its story , visual and character standards for seasons to come

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Joker

A top acting class by Joachim Phoenix

(Edit) 29/06/2020

From the first few moments you knew you were watching an Oscar winning performance - much like Natalie Portmans impact in Black Swan . Comic book characters have come a long way to be the main focus of a pedigree film.

Joker is a disturbing film . It takes the point of view of a nihilist and deconstructs the person and society. Victims are both innocent and guilty and their fate is left to the standards of a madman .

The comic book elements are necessary to the mythos of the character but they are actually not needed for the film itself. Eg the asylum could have remained nameless and its setting would still be effective.

This is Joachim Phoenix's film and the other performances are top notch. It is well directed and it's nice to see Robert de niro add support.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Felt like they had 5 days to come up with this finale

(Edit) 08/05/2020

This is a blueprint of a movie. Take all the elements that worked in ptevious movies ( particularly the emipre strikes back ) and rearrange them. Add a few contrived scenes ( let them fight among the waves ..... why ? ) add superflous characters ( the lady in the helmet ) and tie everything with ropey dialog

Even John Williams score was on auto-pilot. The final battle was spectacular though a carbon copy of every star wars film before it . The rest of the film seemed low key ( dare i say low budget ). There were times it felt like an 8 part streaming series than a cinematic event .

As for characters : why are Star Wars smugglers so boring ? Oscar Isaac is a good actor but his captain zack badass charming rogue ace pilot blah blah only works when somebody writes actual dialogue for him. ( The Solo movie had the same problem: a load of good actors sitting in a room talking about ..... who cares ?)

The actors do their best - particularly Adam driver and Daisy Ridley but the writers couldnt work out their character dynamic . Ok, one wears black and the other white but both are humourless , constantly distracted and borderline kamikaze. It was difficult to care about either one.

JJ abrams directed this remotely from a galaxy far far away - i dont think he wanted to make this film and used broad strokes.

It was nice to see returning characters - some worked better than others but unfortunately i dont think the Carrie Fisher scenes work that well . I dont know what they could have done . Her scenes were included with respect and care but took you out of the movie .

I like the Force Awakens and the Last Jedi but this film feels like a rushed fan service film that had to double back and cut the developing saga in its tracks

5 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

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Entourage

A Fairytale of success and excess

(Edit) 20/04/2020

Critic Mark Kermode hated this movie and for the first 20 minutes i agreed wth him . These characters are reprehensible. All of them should be in Jail and when it looks like the chips are down for any of them , miraclulously they come out on top. Yet by the end of the movie you join in ( sort of ) with the implausible success . This isnt an accident . The TV series was the same . You have these five anti-heroes, stumbling around a very superficial wasteland where cars and party-goers move in slow motion . The credit goes to the writing and particularly the performances. The interplay is still sharp and the comedy still feels fresh. Time has passed since this film was released and some people appearing have had their own share of scandal. Its a fairytale from a very specific viewpoint - it is both insulting and embracing of its characters and their situations. Viewers who liked the series will probably like this movie but i dont think it will win over many converts.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

A very fairytale Hollywood

(Edit) 29/03/2020

A carefully crafted film with a top flight cast and crew but im not sure its an oscar worthy film. There wasnt any stand out scenes or performances for me . Seems to be a lot of lingering shots of Margot Robbie and she doesnt really have much to do and Tarantino does seem have a thing for feet !

Although 1969 is recreated well , this is a world unaffected even by events a year earlier - assasinations , escalating wars .

Maybe thats the point but this hollywood seemed too confident. I Would like to have seen a more insecure, conflicted hollywood where the old clashed with the new and why something like the manson 'family' could take a foothold.

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La La Land

A clever and touching musical

(Edit) 15/01/2020

For the first 10 minutes I found I wasn't in the mood for a musical but before long the performances , chemistry and unromantic romance wins you over. It is a film about dreams in an unforgiving world . I didn't know what to expect but the quality is there throughout and there is always a suprise round the corner .

Both leads are at the top of their game and ably supported by everyone in front and behind the camera .

3 stars is probably too low but I'd reserve 4 stars for a film that draws a stronger emotional response. This film was probably just below 4 stars for me .

So we'll worth watching especially if you like your musicals mixed with touching drama

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Spotlight

Film-making at its best

(Edit) 07/12/2019

The acting was nuanced and yet striking to keep you engaged thougout the movie . The script and direction was pitch perfect . Kudos to the editing : no scene was too long or cut short . This is a film that deserves its success .

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Aquaman

high water mark for the visuals

(Edit) 24/11/2019

Yes its cliched and the acting is underwhelming but for sheer visual spectacle i dont think anything matches it - not even Endgame. The true star of this film is the visuals ... and locations . The action sequences work better than most comic book films particularly the segment in Italy.

The acting is strangely weak . I know its a very technical movie with a lot of dialogue filmed underwater but i think the director fails to get strong perfomances out of anyone with the exception of Black Mantis's father.

As for the script and plot - there are no suprises . Fulfilling your destiny is a mainstay of these types of films and certain plot points were just too obvious.

The biggest flaw is that this film is part of an existing cinematic universe and the first few scenes felt like an ongoing episode in another series . I think these films should exist in their own standalone universe. Eg Burton's or Nolans Batman. The creatives would then have more scope and the quality hopefully improve.

With all its flaws i enjoyed the movie . The acting was a distraction but the sheer variety of visuals and locations made this film a good watch

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Avengers: Endgame

A heartfelt, epic but flawed finale

(Edit) 27/10/2019

The film is a very heartfelt and personal movie with an intergalactic twist . This mixture doesn't work as well as Infinity war and perhaps theres one too many scenes by a lakeside. The performers are all good , particularly Robert downey Jr - who gives his all and could easily have phoned in his performance. Karen Gillan also stands out who despite difficult makeup and gives her character depth.

Its sometimes a difficult film to follow - particularly if you havent recently watched Ant Man 2 or Infinity War , however its true each film isnt designed to exist in a cinematic vacuum by itself.

Endgame a well crafted , confident film. Its not a great film but considering it draws a line under 22 odd films that have come before it - it is a cinematic achievement .

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Captain Marvel

An enjoyable romp

(Edit) 22/09/2019

I had my reservations - although the film joined the billion dollar club, it wasn't getting the positive buzz that black panther was receiving for instance . However from the word go , like all good action-adventure movies the pacing doesnt let up .

I was a little wary of Bree Larsons understated acting but it actually works - I like this Captain Marvel .

My only gripe was how Nick fury lost his eye. The eye-patch is an iconic image and the reason this film uses is a bit of a throwaway. Otherwise Sam L Jackson seems to be enjoying himself ., Jude Law gets a good role as well.

An enjoyable film and looking forward to the next standalone movie .

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp

Too many sub plots

(Edit) 13/08/2019

Spiderman 3 was criticised for having too many plots running at the same time and I think the same can be applied here . There's this need to involve characters from the comic books when it's not necessary . The film constantly lurches back and forth from one sub plot to another and the charm of the first film is lost along the way.

On the plus side the acting and visuals are on top form but I don't expect to see an ant Man 3 any time soon .

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