Film Reviews by DJ

Welcome to DJ's film reviews page. DJ has written 12 reviews and rated 21 films.

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Rise of the Footsoldier II

Essex at its Worst

(Edit) 18/04/2020

This film is very similar to those American films where they speak the vernacular that few outside the area will understand.  It is brilliantly acted and directed.  I was born in this area and I assure you, these people actually exist.  Carlton took a wrong turn early in life and then found he was inextricably involved in a criminal network from which he later became desperate to escape.  Initially seeking retribution, he found he needed cocaine to go into battle ... and a lot of it.  He was later to realise that he was getting too old for this life, so eventually cleaned himself up in a bid to give up the life of crime.  He had a wife and kids, whom he loved dearly.  

The acting throughout was so good, everything became incredibly real.  From the technical point of view, this film is extremely well directed, the lighting dramatic and the dialogue audible.  However, unless you actually live in London or the surrounding areas, it is unlikely you will understand the dialogue.  In this respect it is in need of subtitles, as there are few consonants uttered.  Maybe, this is the reason that it carried such verite.  The casting director gathered a collection of talent actually from the area of the film's location, and that is what made it so real.  The talent didn't so much act their parts, as live them.  There are no silly theatrics in this film, no James Bond, no superhero fantasy ... it is frighteningly real ... all of it.  In fact, there is hardly a place on this planet, where the violence exceeds what this film depicts.  For me, it was a docudrama, brilliantly portrayed, yet shocking.

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1992

A Mental Exercise

(Edit) 24/03/2020

This film is a docudrama, but fails to summon up the depth of interest sufficient to carry the viewer through a convoluted plot.  The objective of this film is to show the events that took place in 1992, however, the pace of the film is too brisk, and the Italian language is spoken at over 180-words per minute.  This means that the subtitles have to keep pace.  The resultant is, if you read the subtitles, you don't see the film.  If you watch the film, you won't have time to read the subtitles.  There are hundreds of facts to take in.  These become more a test of mental agility than entertainment and not a film that anybody but the Italians could enjoy, for it is about their country.

  Cinema, in its truest sense, is where the picture tells the story for 80% of the time, the script playing a supporting role.  This film was never made for export and thus, like the consequences of muttered Americanese without subtitles or the Italian language rolling off the tongue far more quickly than most other European languages, such films are made with the indigenous in mind ... nobody else.  

I got about half-an-hour into this film, but wasn't enjoying it one little bit, for there wasn't time to take it in, or remember who was who and who said what, simply because it starts well, but seemingly runs out of time, when everything has to be rushed.  It was never intended for export.  It is hoped that, one day, it will be remade with a measured pace.  It should always be remembered that documentaries are teaching aids.  If you learn little or nothing from a documentary ... it has failed.  

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Bridge of Spies

So different, therefore, so refreshing.

(Edit) 14/01/2020

What I found so enjoyable about this films was the lack of that single note and a drum, against which most narrators, actors and actresses have to vie.  There was a music score, but, as in most of Stephen Spielberg's films, he understands the power of silence and frequently uses it to instal gravitas in the mind.  The 'clever' critics often look for something that isn't there, then bemoan the fact.  

This film possesses a beautifully acted role by Tom Hanks, who takes the lead.  It has a steady pace and even sports the mediocrity of life, in that I felt there was no exaggeration, no stupid ideas, no unbelievable moments, it was what is was, a docudrama of just one instance from the life of a man who went on to save thousands of lives.

In reality, life is often quite hum-drum.  Only fiction produces the impossible, incredible, unbelievable stunts of survival, where the hero is clairvoyant  and beyond reproach.  For those of us who lived through the 'Cold War', this film will have more meaning ... a very enjoyable film for the mature amongst us. 

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The Martian

They nearly made it work

(Edit) 09/01/2020

This film proves very real at the outset, but leaves one convinced that in reality there would be no chance of survival, for the second half broke away from reality and, like many films of this genre, falls back on make-belief.  What many filmmakers of today don't realise is that, now we have the Internet, people are far more science savvy than ever before.  The atmospheric pressure on Mars is about 1/100th that on Earth.  That means it is 0.01 Bar or 0.0147 lbs per square inch.  He was able to hold in 14 psi over a 8 ft diameter hole with a plastic sheet.  The pressure on the polythene sheet he used to hold back a breathable atmosphere calculates as being 101,475 lbs = > 45 Tons.  I didn't go to college or university, I didn't get an eleven plus, I didn't sit an exam when leaving school, I have no qualifications ... so I must be thick.  If it doesn't hang together with a thick-o like me, then it doesn't hang together.  He used another polythene sheet to replace the nose-cone of his spaceship, which underwent an acceleration of  386.4 ft per second squared,  This means that within 5 secs, he has reached 1,932 ft per second, a speed  of 1,317 mph.  Both these events should have been omitted, leaving us, the audience, with some plausibility.  Well acted, well directed, well edited, but the storyline is bereft of logic.

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Trumbo

Screenwriters Inspired

(Edit) 09/12/2019

For many, the most outstanding 'magic' they will walk away with is the scriptwriting, which brought an incredible third dimension to this outstanding movie. The lead role, played by Bryan Cranston, was indeed deserving of an award.  I find it strange that film critics can be so laboriously picky, many thinking it is their duty to undermine the endeavours of a hundred people who have succeeded in producing an incredible work of art.  This is a great picture for the mature adult and and will prove an education for many.  In such documentaries, there are always inaccuracies which are frequently pounced upon.  However, there are some things, when creating a movie, that simply don't work and they are altered to bring about plausibility, believability and credibility.  This applies to all movies, fact or fiction.  Such movies are rare, simply because they carry the risk of not recovering their costs.  Regardless of this, it was brilliantly directed and the cast were able to set their talent free.  I hope it becomes a classic.

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In Which We Serve

The then 'King &. Country'

(Edit) 06/11/2019

  In contrast to the assessment of others, I found this film fell short on interest.  The opening was filled with action, leaving the remainder of the film rather flat, as it was malled by repetition.  A series of flashbacks covers the individual lives of the crew.  it got to the third crew member, which proved just too much for me to handle and I switched it off.

  Noel Coward had a brilliant mind, wrote incredible music scores and was deemed a playwright with exceptional ability, but, to many, failed as an actor, as he was unable to mask his self-assuredness, pomp and rapid speech ... he could touch 200 wpm with ease.

  The genre of this film comes under the heading of 'war time propaganda', necessary in its day, as it helped people survive the threat of tomorrow.  Back then, it was honourable to dupe the people into having hope and convince them that their men would return from the trenches.  To this end, it is thick with so much improbability, as to be unacceptable.  However, the camerawork was excellent, but I found Noel Coward somewhat overbearing ... yet he comes from that era and that's how it was back then.

  The paradigm of any film is to grab the audience's attention in the first 40-seconds and then hold them.  This films grabs the audience's attention in the first 40-seconds and then promptly loses them ten minutes later.  It stands as an historical piece of wartime propaganda, but beyond this, falls well short of today's films, which have undergone 80-yrs of development since this film was made. 

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In the Loop

An extreme case of coprolalia

(Edit) 01/10/2019

l believe it is all to do with one's upbringing, but having recently viewed the beginning of this film, I find it synonymous with the present day establishment in the House of Commons.  In this respect, I'm believing that this film was written and produced by an 'insider', who knew more than most about those involved in politics.  Were it to have been considered a lampooning of the political establishment in the past, today it is pretty close to being a documentary!  A personal opinion, of course.

The language is totally unacceptable, unnecessary and unworthy of the name entertainment, however, there is a group of the younger set who will doubtless enjoy the coprolalia, and it may even go unnoticed by those suffering from the same syndrome.

Five minutes into the film, including the titles, it was ejected.  I think that says it all.

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Ulzana's Raid

The Good and the Evil

(Edit) 23/08/2019

What is good about this film is the beautiful photography, the DoP and editing were truly excellent, as was the sound.  However, it proved to be an abattoir when it came to horses and humans.  As is usually the case with films that are truly graphic, they tend to divert from 'entertainment', simply because they are too damn close to the elbow.  As films go, this is amongst the excellent, but I found it a little too overpowering, because I honestly believed that they killed animals throughout the film.  Am I squeamish,? No, just with principles.  I neither see the slaying of an animal as entertainment, nor do I agree with killing animal in the name of entertainment, because it isn't entertainment.  What was surprising, for me, was the fact that there were some survivors ... amazing.

If you happen to love animals, especially horses and dogs ... and dislike seeing disembowelled human beings, don't watch this film, because you will find it very upsetting.  A bygone era, shocking and best forgotten.  

 The director, Robert Aldrich, is a master craftsman who has the ability to make you want to hide.

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Hostiles

A Docudrama with Licence

(Edit) 20/06/2019

    Whilst it is true that one cannot make a docudrama without the addition of stagecraft and a touch of poetic licence, this film is so well directed, choreographed and photographed, all it required was some extremely convincing actors ... and the Casting Director found them!  One is totally absorbed and quickly so, probably because it is so conscience-shocking, as one is made to realise just how brutal and mindless man can be when at war.  The standard of acting is nothing less than superb.  This isn't 'Cowboys and Indians', dancing around campfires and the whooping of war cries, it is reality in the flesh.  If you like to see and hear the truth with no holds barred, then this film is recommended as one of the best about 'How the West was Won'.  That being said, I wouldn't let my children watch it.

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The Vietnam War

An in-depth account accurately told.

(Edit) 23/04/2019

This series should be acclaimed as one of the most accurately told pieces of history one is every likely to possess as a historian, teacher, student or member of a family who has lost a loved one in this disastrously prosecuted war, from which it seemed impossible to extract the fighting forces. Like Afghanistan, the indigenous people fought a strike and withdraw strategy. Afghanistan has never been defeated in 6000 yrs and the North Vietnamese used a similar strategy, which denies technology that hoped for sweeping victory. There were no winners in Vietnam, just endless suffering by all sides.

The film's Director, Ken Burns, is one of the most acclaimed directors of our time. HIs understanding of film grammar excels to the point that his techniques are taught in film schools and colleges throughout the Western world. This is an exemplary piece of work that will doubtless be revered as the truest account on record. It is the creation of an extremely clever man and it must have taken years to research and complete, such is the passion of Ken Burns when undertaking a project.

Utterly gripping and brilliantly executed, this film will never be surpassed in the field of documentaries.

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Jacquot de Nantes

The Art that is Film.

(Edit) 15/04/2019

This film is amongst the elite, when it comes to the art of film making. The director adopts methods of conveying to his audience time and place, telling us whether we are about to go backwards or forwards in time.

Considering Demy and his friends were all children, the acting was truly superb and one quickly becomes absorbed in the story. The scenes surrounding the action were as real and natural as you would ever see in film, the director of photography painting with light.

This film has an element of cleverness, that breaks the rules of film grammar per se, yet works. It would never surprise me if it became a classic, given time. It is one of those pieces of work that comes together simply, due to all the elements being so well performed. The casting director did a splendid job of choice, the editing was precise and the script superb. The Director is an artist extraordinaire.

This film bears the true essence that is France alone, so-much-so that had it been made in England, it wouldn't have worked.

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Wind River

Similar in taste.

(Edit) 04/04/2019

Like other reviewers, I found the sound track difficult to comprehend from both the logical point of view and practically. Why-oh-why editors bury the dialogue amidst a cacophony of sound FX I've no idea. As an editor myself, I find a comfortable level of background-whatever is best left at -17dB's down under dialogue, not at the same level or higher than the dialogue. The practise of leaving sound FX and music at an a high volume level is custom and practise in the film industry, so, like other reviewers, I say 'thank goodness we have subtitles'. Beyond that, I thought the cast and quality of acting and directing in this film were superb.

For those of you who point out that this film was similar to other films, please be advised that there are only about 30-plots possible when concocting a story line. They say, if you have twelve people in a room, there is a very good chance of having two people with the same birthday. Story plots are similar, where many plots are copycats of fairy stories, 'save the maiden', Cinderella, etc., so don't be too hard on them.

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