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Brown on Resolution (1935)
confusing, muddly narrative bogs down nice action scenes
The DVD I own uses 'Forever England' as its title displaying an non-descript other type of armored cruiser on the box having no relevance to the ships used in the film. Well, these are minor issues with a film so muddled in narrative. Opening in 1893 (?) , with Queen Victoria still alive and well, it manages to present a poster featuring the later King George V in the opening scenes. A completely redundant scene to introduce us to the future parents of the character played by John Mills.
The story then leap-frogs to the young Mills going through training and embarking on one of those obsolete naval vessels still in abundance at the start of WW I. The Germans are befriended in waters far away, a bit of nice rivalry occurs, war breaks out in an instant, the bigger gunned German cruiser annihilates the old tub Mills sails in. Mills survives, is picked up , cared for and manages to escape when the cruiser reaches an Island for repairs.
Up to this point it was all mildly interesting with Mills his usual competent self and quite a view nice naval shots. (Dreadnoughts close-up, Leander class cruiser)
To stall the cruiser, Mills sabotages the repair by shooting his German buddy in the back. My jaw dropped. He could easily have shot the German standing 3 feet away, or aimed for a leg. But no, he simply executes his earlier buddy deliberately.
A bit as if Schindler decided to turn in the 1000 saved Jews after a bit of soul searching by the end of 1944.
And this type of behavior would have inspired people?
John Mills makes the best of it and we get to see a few interesting technical scenes, but unwatchable towards the end. Avoid.
Portman's acting ability is poorly wasted in this wooden, stupid movie that loans heavily from both solaris, alien, stalker and say, predators. There is an amazing amount of pretense with utterly crap dialogue. 2 stars for Portman trying to save this mess and 2 stars for some nice visuals. Watch Solaris or Stalker for thought-provoking SF and Predators for some mindless fun. Watch this when suffering from insomnia
head and shoulders above the average episode
Printer's Devil benefits hugely from being an hourly episode. Characters are more defined, there's a nice build-up in suspense (though mainly for the paper's employees, rather then the viewer, who's already into Mr Smith's secret.) Meredith is a delicious little Satan, but it really is Robert Sterlings acting that supports the narrative. I knew his face, but had no idea he was such a good actor. Printer's devil has stood passing of time a lot better than most - shorter - episodes and is still hugely enjoyable. The climax could have been a bit better though..
Technically Fine, wrong actor, silly plots
The original Morse series was lauded as the pinnacle of British police-series on TV, though it was very much about style over substance. Superb acting and cinematography almost made up for the rather contrived and stilted plots of many episodes. But with some it generated stellar TV. The series was all about John Thaw as Endeavour Morse , gritty, grumpy with major strokes of insight by association rather than traditional police-work. He shunned the use of his first name, just using Morse for all but one episode. So, how does one select a young Morse for a prequel? I don't mind that Shaun Evans does not look like a young John Thaw, but as personalities there is a massive gap, to hard to be breached. Evans looks and operates like a choir-boy , or as a newly appointed vicar to a parish. There is zero similarity with the rough and gritty personality of the eventual Morse of the eighties. Sorry, but this is a poor choice casting-wise. The second gripe is about the fact that Evans is totally overshadowed by Roger Allam as his DI boss. The DI reminds me of Maigret as played by Bruno Cremer with that deep rumbling voice, exact timing and a hint of some unspoken tragedy. This series could just as well have been : "Fred Thursday, DI" and would have been none the worse for it. Thirdly, plots seem to race down the glacier towards plain silliness. The last episode I viewed was about a Tiger kept in isolation, breaking free , killing randomly by applying a scent to a hankie, finally being killed in a maze by the Superintendent who happened to have killed a man-eater back in his days in India. This same episode also covers the strained relation between Strange and Morse with Strange almost begging to be still Morse's mate though the latter is left behind career-wise. The casting of the young Strange is equally baffling, there is not a hint of the larger-than-life portrayal by James Grout. Finally, an average rating of 8.6 on IMDb, really means that a major part of the audience is blissfully ignorant of the origins of the Morse canon. If the Lewis series made for a superior sequel, than this mediocre outing does not do a prequel justice.
watered down dystopian trash
I did not particularly warm to the first film , but gave it the benefit of the doubt. My 18 year old daughter emphasized that these type of movies are simply not tailored to the taste of middle-aged gents, and sure she was right. The entire movie - save for some impressive CGI - feels like brewing a cup of coffee by hand having the filter fold and having a watered down cup of something as result. Plenty of action, but no suspense. There is simply no feeling the dystopian world itself exists outside the studio's interior and the heroine is just another big-eyed babe with made-belief toughness. These type of movies need rougher edges, real bad-ass opponents (Kate Winslet, give me a break) , a better pacing and less running around within studio's. Fortunately my 18 year old did appreciate the layered intensiveness of Minority Report, though still switch-tasking between movie and tablet. Insurgent just made me yawn..
Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
dismissed on technicalities
Never mind whether this a lightweight 'Woody Allen' or a poorly written and thus acted fluffy intermezzo. What really annoyed me was the strict adherence to the use of - almost - only medium/long shots for the entire length of the film. For some reason Allen decided that close-ups would cover all the lovely frames in mind and so we are forced to make up our own idea of Colin Firth going through the motions. The latter was either drawn by the paycheck or by the idea of being in a Allen movie, but he's only allowed to play a shadow of the formidable actor he really is. This is one shallow piece of work, not worthy of being part of the Allen heritage. Only the cinematography stands out..
flawed but occasionally successful adaption
Anyone not familiar with the book by John Varley will be quite lost watching this adaption. Anyone who has read it will think it will a bit of a clunker really. Truth is, a film adaption could never do justice to the book's complexity.
To draw any kind of an audience you need a big name in the cast and luckily (publicity-wise) Kris Kristofferson decided the money was good enough. However , there is a pretty literal description of the main character from the book itself: "I'm no Robert Redford, but my face doesn't scare little girls either." So, a Joe Average from the book is replaced by he-man Kristofferson? Out of place as such and Kris goes through the numbers in his role. Cherryl Ladd can't act her way out of a shoebox, but at least she fits into the role as chain-smoking gang- leader. Well, sort of..
There is almost nothing wrong with the first 40 minutes or so, where the book is painstakingly followed. The pacing is slow, but it feels like it's gearing up for a big finale. It's when we see the first glimpses of the future when the whole contraption is starting to fall apart. Cheap production values and CGI take it's tole and there is this persistent feeling that the film ran out of budget. 6 out of 10 stars for getting some parts of the story properly done; the nerve for even giving it a try , but coming up short for the 2nd part
'Miranda' manages to succeed with an 'in-your-face' approach where the main lead constantly address her audience and where most of the humor is seen coming miles ahead. This normally would boil down to an utterly tepid experience , but with Miranda Hart the effect is hugely more than the sum of its parts. I'm sure the division is similar to watching the late Tommy Cooper. You will either notice the brilliance or find it utterly boring. I 've no idea why the format of continuously speaking to the audience works within this series. It simply does. All cast members are above average, with Patricia Hodge stealing every scene she is in. A huge factor may be the neck-breaking speed. I like that. Suspect it's simply too much for part of the public..
do not try to revive a legend
'Hamelen' is almost beyond legendary for our generation growing up in the 70's in Holland. The fact that most of it will never be seen again due to the standard procedure of re-using tapes brings tears to ones eyes. On the other hand : I tried to interest my offspring to the 6 episodes that have survived (and put on DVD), and they shook their heads in dismay. Well, some things do not age - like the shorts by Laurel & Hardy / Citizen Kane by O. Welles - but ultra-low budget dutch TV Series from the past do.. Ultimately, this is a lesson; you cannot go 'back'. It's slow, effects are laughable, acting for the most part is mediocre. Some of the songs still work, though not for the obnoxious children involved. A true legend should not be judged by modern standards I guess
Le vieux fusil (1975)
Nauseatingly violent but captivating
I saw this on television some years after its cinematic release, more or less by chance. It took all the time up until Schindler's List before I witnessed such realistic violence again. This film is part love story and part Rambo and though cleverly filmed and staged it is a bit of a bewildering experience. It took weeks to shake off the image of the grizzly and sadistic way Romy Schneider met her end. I'm sure these kind of atrocities took place in occupied Europe,but it is another matter of having to put up with it on the screen. Noiret going Rambo style against the Germans is thrilling though a bit over-the-top. Lots of style, well acted, but too grizzly for me.
Alles is familie (2012)
top notch acting ; mediocre scenario
Gone are the days that Dutch film consisted mainly of profanity , mediocre acting and loads of random nudity. 'Alles is familie' (All is family) thrives on top notch acting of the entire cast, led by our brightest of stars, Carice. The first 20 minutes made little impact and it took a while to get spinning into higher gear. This a typical film that gets better once it gets going and the second half was captivating. The scenario (by Kim van Kooten) is not the brightest, but who cares with this level of acting. Plenty of laughs, some very touching moments and very, very good music in places. (And of course, it is good to notice that Kim manages to keep half her family employed) Center of it all, obviously is Carice. She sulks, she grins, half the cinema (or more) drowns in those eyes. She's the Dutch It-girl and every film profits..
Season of the Witch (2011)
mediocre but a painless sit-through
SOTW may be a mediocre film, but at least it manages to entertain. Nic Cage really makes an effort and Ron Perlman, well has never been better than in a middle ages setting. For all the historic inconsistencies they at least got the atmosphere about right. What makes it entertaining in the end is the sustained air of suspense while being on route. Not that it keeps you on the the edge of your seat, but it is decent enough. Travelling in the middle ages must have been a sort of Russian Roulette with little more than a sword to rely on. Unfortunately the last 20 minutes or so, the film goes over the top in a strange , pointless , exercise of CGI effects. The CGI itself is passable, but in contrast with the subtle air of discomfort during the voyage that makes up for the 2nd part of the film. As proclaimed, a painless sit-through , but could have been better with a subtle last act..
Gritty, humorous , the start of a few careers
I recall being terribly upset by one of the more realistic episodes of Floris when I first saw the series as a little boy. Since then the series has been programmed a couple of times during the last 40 years on Dutch television. My own kids loved it even with the relative slow pace and the B/W presentation. A shame really as I own 3 publications that contain Color pictures from the series. The closest in comparison may be Ivanhoe (1959) featuring Roger Moore which is obviously filmed with at least 10 times more budget, though also in B/W. Perhaps I am being a little chauvinistic here, but 'Floris' comes across as a grittier, more realistic medieval depiction. It also has great chemistry between it's leads and a hauntingly good opening theme. Unfortunately for posterity the production went way over the proposed budget and the NTR (responsible for the TV programming) decided that this type of programs was not it's primary goal. Rutger Hauer made it pretty big in Hollywood (at least for Dutch standards) whereas Sindala (Jos Bergman) was never heard of again. Some years ago the Floris concept was ineffectively transferred to the big screen in a Dutch film version focusing on 'the grandson of..' Actually never met anyone who has seen this or willing to admit to it..
Midsomer Murders (1997)
Mediocrity is its middle name
MM is anything but a treat. Can't fathom how this mediocre series earns it's 8.3 on IMDb. It entirely lacks the great atmosphere of 'Morse' or the great chemistry between the leads in 'A touch of frost'. John Nettles mumbles his way through every episode as if tranquilized performing like made out of wood. It is especially his lisping delivery that makes it a pain to sit through. I had the displeasure to watch the final episode with the laughable ending. I would strong recommend to watch the final Morse version as an antidote to the mediocrity offered by MM. For one thing it will give you an idea what a strong scenario, atmosphere and heartbreakingly good acting can do to a series..
Classy, but outdated detective series
Bruno Cremers' Maigret is shown occasionally on TV these days and I've seen quite a number of episodes through the years. Cremer is a bit of an unlikely actor to play the part with his massive frame. But that perhaps, is cause the only 2 actors observed in this role were Jean Gabin and dutch actor Jan Teulings. Both seemed more appropriate in a physical sense. However, Cremer manages to hold your attention by underplaying his role. His Maigret never seems to raise his voice , yet keeps you interested by his mere presence. It is a bit of a one trick pony, as Cremers presence is just about the only true reason to watch the series. With all the 'modern' crime investigation series hosted by todays television This Maigret does feel very dated. Not only is Maigret doing all his own footwork (which chief of police would be willing to?) but his suspects seem to think he will be the one to pass the verdict. As we all know judges are there for, but with Maigret even the sentence seems covered.
Het grote gebeuren (1975)
A lasting impression on the smallest of budgets
'Het grote gebeuren' could be translated very loosely to 'the main event' but that would trigger a reference to a film with no connection whatsoever. A better translation would be perhaps 'The apocalypse as imagined with the tiniest budget possible'. It nevertheless made a big impression when I saw it as a teenager on Dutch television. The narrator tells how the end of the world came about to be in the Town of Rijssen in Eastern Holland. Actually, that is no more then 30 miles from where I live , but let's not digress. The budget for this TV-film must have been absolutely minimal. The whole film consists of narration and the most primitive effects possible, but since the narration is by Kees Brusse this is no punishment. The man can count to a 1000 and still keep your attention through the numbers. At the most basic level, I guess the story just tells us that one day our time is up and each of us will have the ticket we deserve by how we lived our lives. At the time I saw this it made a lot of sense and an everlasting imprint.
Cutthroat Island (1995)
Easily tops POTC
Bored to death by the overlong Pirates of the Caribean and had enough of an effeminate J. Depp? Cutthroat Island is superior to any of the idiotic POTC versions. Modine is a far better actor than Orlando B. and Geena Davis trounces the totally out-of-place K. Knightly. The big question is, why did this one flop at the box-office? The presence of Frank Langella alone should make it a bona fide picture. The answer should be that the time wasn't right and it probably missed the questionable humor provided by J. Depp. I watched Cutthroat Island without leaving my seat whereas POTC (any one of the three) induced the desire to yawn at length and step outside for a smoke.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Enduring relevance and lasting charm
I bought this film (pleasantly surprised to find it so easily) based on the sole image of the collection of planes to be scrapped. This was just an interesting photo from a book, but I had no idea how good this film turned out to be. This is not evident from the start, cause the first couple of scenes are quite average. However, the film spins into a higher gear with the ride home. A brilliantly handled scene depicting the reluctance to finally come home again. And then it is one brilliantly played scene after another. Moving, but not overly sentimental, realistic, but not gritty. It is the sort of film that makes you want to reset you memories to see it again for the first time. A+