Monthly Archives: January 2012

Film Review: Haywire (2011)

A highly skilled covert operative discovers that those she works for have set her up for a deadly betrayal.

I went in expecting a sub-Bourne action flick, but while it’s similar to that series this film has a hard-hitting, raw style all of its own. A great deal of which is thanks to the extremely athletic and hard-as-nails lead actress. Gina Carano has taken time out from kick boxing and mixed martial arts to pretend to knock the shit out of some bad guys. When she’s not being chased through various locations and having fights she’s doing a pretty good job of acting. Apparently she performed all the stunt work herself and some of it really looks like it hurt.

The rest of the cast brings some recognisable faces, contributing solid performances. The story is either a little complex or just confusing. I lost it at the very end, but that didn’t really matter. The strengths of the film are in the action.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Haywire on IMDb

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Film Review: Dean Spanley (2008)

Set in Edwardian England a son makes his usual weekly visit to see his ageing, cantankerous father. Tired of the routine he decides to take his father to hear a talk by an Indian mystic. Which leads to a series of encounters with the increasingly eccentric Dean Spanley, played expertly by the eminent dinosaur dude Sam Neill.

It’s tricky to say much about the film without giving away details which would be best left unsaid. And it’s a fairly simple story and concept. I will say that it’s a charming and heartwarming tale. As it unfolds the story becomes somewhat incongruous with the straight, stiff upper lippedness, but that’s more than forgivable. Peter O’Toole in the role of the the old man is suitably infuriating and it’s nice to see him still in the acting lark.

If you enjoy the company of dogs you’ll likely get additional enjoyment from this film.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Dean Spanley on IMDb

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Film Review: The Parallax View (1974)

Warren Beatty plays a small-time newspaper journalist who witnesses the assassination of a U.S. senator. Deciding to investigate he then becomes involved in the deadly conspiracy behind this event and perhaps others.

As a conspiracy thriller it’s more than competent. There’s intrigue a plenty, some genuine surprises and enough action for the genre. The variety or locations and the framing of shots makes for a visually interesting film.

Pretty good and ideal for a lazy afternoon on the sofa. Which is how I enjoyed it. And nice to see Mr. Beatty in one of his few decent roles.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

The Parallax View on IMDb

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Film Review: Submarine (2010)

The directorial debut of Richard Ayoade (Moss from The IT Crowd) can lazily be labelled a quirky, indie comedy. So that’s what I’m doing. The film is set in a Welsh town in the mid-80s and follows a relationship building between two unusual teenagers. While I generally like quirky, indie comedies I found the two central characters unlikeable and struggled to enjoy the film. Perhaps you would fair better. The other, secondary characters are just as strange, but they didn’t grate for me. And the film is amusing, just a struggle for me personally. I’m still keen to see more from Mr. Ayoade.

To be honest I didn’t pay close attention to the latter half of the film, so this review is compromised. Scoring would be unfair.

Submarine on IMDb

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Film Review: Black Narcissus (1947)

This is a film about nuns who setup a convent in an essentially abandoned mountain top palace in the Himalayas. How they deal with this strange, new location and the local people, whose behaviour begins to threaten their beliefs and their way of life. If you can get past that, as well as the age of the film, you’ll find a highly enjoyable and accomplished film.

It won two Oscars for the visuals, which are stunning considering when the film was produced. The actors performances are more naturalistic than you’d expect from the period. Characters and story all kept me gripped to the dark end. There’s even some humour from the disrespectful old woman who acts as caretaker of the palace.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Black Narcissus on IMDb

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Film Review: Lebanon (2009)

Set entirely inside a tank, following the crew as they make their way through a besieged town during the Lebanese civil war. As with other films set in confined spaces the focus is on raising tension and this film does a good job. Characters are rounded and interesting, particularly taking into account the cultural differences. Compared to me anyway.

As you’d expect there’s scenes of brutality and death. War sucks, man. But this film doesn’t. The story isn’t broad, but there’s enough to keep you interested and to keep watching the characters fall apart.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Lebanon on IMDb

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