‘THX 1138’ (1971) 400 Word DVD Review

September 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 3 out of 5

In Lucas’ bold, dystopian society of the future, human beings are mindless drones, drugged into nonchalance and slaves to commercialism. Instead of a name, each person is assigned a series of letters and numbers, like a barcode. Everything is monitored, policed, by armed android guards, and it all functions perfectly, precisely – everything fitting into its right place.

There are, however, some who have chosen to reject this society’s values – those like LUH (Maggie McOmie). As LUH forces herself off the drugs, she becomes aware of her isolation. Imprisoned in a world devoid of colour, warmth and love, she needs company. She finds it in her roommate, THX 1138 (Robert Duvall), and secretly removes the sedatives from his daily intake. As THX also becomes aware of new feelings and emotions, questioning his place in the world, he falls in love with LUH. They form an illicit, intimate relationship, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t stay a secret for long.

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‘Taken’ (2008) 600 Word DVD Review

August 27, 2009 § 2 Comments

Score: 4 out of 5

Bryan Mills’ (Liam Neeson) seventeen-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is kidnapped while vacationing in Paris. Mills also happens to be a former spy, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let a bunch of Eastern European thugs take his daughter away from him. So, guess what? In true vigilante form he goes down there to rescue his daughter while raining down great vengeance and furious anger on those who perpetrated this wicked deed. As high concept exploitation films go, Taken pretty much ticks all the boxes. The only thing missing is Harrison Ford running around, screaming at the terrorists bad guys, “I want my daughter back!” Instead, we’ll have to make do with Oskar Schindler over here.

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‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ (2004) 900 Word DVD Review

August 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 2 out of 5

It saddens me to say it, but, whatever way you look at it, The Chronicles of Riddick is not a good movie. To say the film is disappointing when compared to Pitch Black is an understatement, as it is nowhere near as interesting or as well produced as that movie. On the other hand, it also fails as an epic, sci-fi fantasy adventure, not living up to the expectations of the genre.

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'Spirited Away' (2001) 500 Word DVD Review

August 14, 2009 § 3 Comments

Score: 5 out of 5

While moving to a new town, ten-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hîragi) and her parents take an unexpected detour and stumble upon what they think is an old, abandoned theme park. However, as darkness gradually descends upon the unsuspecting family, it soon becomes clear that all is not what it seems in this ghost town.

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‘The Savages’ (2007) 300 Word DVD Review

August 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 4 out of 5

Over many years, siblings Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) Savage have drifted apart, leaving their unhappy childhood behind, having forged ahead into their separate, independent lives in different parts of the country. When their estranged father, Lenny (Philip Bosco), develops a form of dementia and becomes unable to take care of himself, Jon and Wendy are brought back together to try and find him a new home, where he can be nursed and looked after before his impending demise. It is during this time that Jon and Wendy reconnect, leading both of them to evaluate themselves under each other’s scrutiny while also having to deal with their father’s slow descent into eternal slumber.

The Savages is a subtle film where, plot-wise, very little actually happens. Its sombre atmosphere, reinforced by a mellow, understated theatrical score, underlines a sense of disconnection that each principle character faces, from others and from themselves. What really sells it, though, is Seymour Hoffman and Linney, who are both excellent performers in their own right, and here they possess a completely natural chemistry of being brother and sister. In a film where little is said and emotions are portrayed more though sideward glances and stiff body language, you need to be of a certain class to carry it through. They do. And they really are perfect onscreen together.

However, while the acting is well above par, The Savages doesn’t have much to say beyond its own little world. It feels like a very personal, very small film; it’s quite touching at times, but apart from two great central performances, there’s little memorable about it. While it feels genuine, the story appears as too mundane and low-key for much to be taken away apart from a depressed shrugging of the shoulders.

(297 words.)

‘The Wrestler’ (2008) 100 Word Cinema Review

August 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 5 out of 5

Mickey Rourke is Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, the wrestler. Filmed in a documentary style – handheld cameras and close-ups – Aronofsky lays out in front of us a tragic figure: a washed-up, worn-out bag of meat living in a trailer park; alone and estranged from his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood); and whose identity is rooted inextricably to the arena, where he is worshipped by his fans, treated like a hero amongst men.

Following Aronofsky’s assured direction, in and out of the ring, the main performances are all excellent. It’s Rourke’s show, but Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood equally match him.

(99 words.)

‘I’ve Loved You So Long’ (2008) 100 Word Cinema Review

August 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 4 out of 5

Juliette Fontaine (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just been released from a fifteen year prison sentence into the care of her sister Lea’s (Elsa Zylberstein) family. Gradually, piece-by-piece, Juliette starts again to rebuild her crippled life, while the mystery over what manner of terrible crime she committed hangs, lurking, in the background.

Kristin Scott Thomas presents a burning, intense, enigmatic performance in director Philippe Claudel’s film about a woman imprisoned, tortured, within the innermost recesses of her mind. Despite the predictable and somewhat implausible twist ending, it’s Kristin Scott Thomas’ portrayal that ultimately makes the film worth watching.

(97 words.)

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