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About 50 Word Film Reviews
New films, old films, strange films, obscure films....
DDDDDD – Exceptional and unparalleled.
DDDDD – Excellent, a special film.
DDDD – Highly enjoyable, recommended.
DDD – Worth watching, but flawed.
DD – Bland, dull and average.
D – You’ll envy the deaf and blind.
(2011) Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey. Dir:
True story of a much-loved funerary assistant whose relationship with a bitter widow takes a dark turn. Entertaining, but dark curiosity, one that explores the ambiguity of truth and the difference between justice and the law. Full of colourful characters, a shame really that it’s a mockumentary not a documentary.
(2011) Noomi Rapace, Kristoffer Joner, Henrik Rafaelsen. Dir: Pål Sletaune
An over-protective mother hiding from an abusive husband hears disturbing things over a baby monitor. Ghost story that focuses more on the disintegration of its lead (Rapace, excellent) than the supernatural, allowing it to pull an unexpected twist, leaving you questioning all that’s gone before, though perhaps not water-tight.
(1952) Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin, Claire Bloom, Nigel Bruce, Buster Keaton, Sydney Earle Chaplin, Wheeler Dryden, Norman Lloyd. Dir: Charlie Chaplin.
A washed-up music hall comedian saves the life of a ballerina who can no longer dance. Lays it on a bit thick, and a little flatly directed, but an appealing story, tapping into our natural fear of losing our touch as we age. And Buster/Chaplin sequence is an extra treat.
(1976) Barbara Harris, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, William Devane. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock.
A dodgy psychic and her boyfriend investigate a lost heir, but he’s a criminal who doesn’t want attention. Hitch’s final film disappointments, neither he or writer Lehman are at their best. The setup has promise and so do characters, but never gathers pace and by juggling four leads lacks focus.
(1972) Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster, Anna Massey, Barbara Leigh-Hunt. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock.
A struggling divorcee is framed when his ex-wife falls victim to a serial killer. Hitch’s penultimate is soaked in references to his past and old London, while also embracing contemporary sexual explicitness. Has flaws – mis-placed comedy and unsympathetic lead – but proves he still had plenty of tricks up his sleeves.
(1921) Max Linder, Alta Allen, Thelma Percy, Betty Peterson, Lola Gonzales. Dir:Max Linder.
A soon-to-be-wed man experiences a string of bad luck after breaking a mirror. Before Chaplin there was Linder; Linder’s life was tragic, and few of his films survive, but this delightful series of comic scrapes and escapes is a fitting testament to his effortless skills as both a filmmaker and comedian.
A hitman plans revenge on his boss, but is blackmailed by a woman seeking a different revenge. Plays the Farrell/Rapace relationship well, with right amount of awkwardness and said/unsaid, but lacks development with criminal characters. This leaves plot a bit directionless, but compensates with sly humour and bursts of action.
(1964) Lionel Jeffries, Edward Judd, Martha Hyer. Dir: Nathan H. Juran.
A broke writer discovers a professor whose new invention could take them to the moon. Mixed bag, but much to recommend it. Script’s significantly better than your average Harryhausen effects melee, with better characters and comedy, but not well paced and muddles up Wells’ message. Visual effects really are dazzling.
(2013) Steve Coogan, Anna Friel, Imogen Poots, Tamsin Egerton, Chris Addison, James Lance, David Walliams. Dir: Michael Winterbottom.
Story of Paul Raymond, who made millions from strip shows and dirty mags. Struggles to make something meaningful of Raymond’s life or say anything about the times. Does offer hilarious journey into a tasteless, seedy world, as well as tragic story of a man who destroyed what he really loved. Superb performances.
Section 9 must investigate when sex doll robots turn on several influential owners and kill them. Rather laboured. Despite a simpler set-up, this manages to be more confusing, with dialogue leaden with exposition and incessant philosophical titbits. Animation is undeniably sophisticated, sometimes beautiful, but also portentous, overwhelming and indulgent.