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Hazel

What films have you seen recently?

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Films I have seen recently -

 

The Family Stone - Sarah Jessica Parker/Diane Keaton/Craig T Nelson...huge cast. Parker goes to spend Christmas (or Thanksgiving) with her boyfriend's family, and they all take an instant dislike to her. They are laidback, functional, and relaxed. She is uptight, prim, proper, and snobbish. Much hilarity ensues as she tries to be accepted and a huge Stone family secret is revealed proving that the family isn't so functional as it first appears. Some amusing moments, not enough to make a film though, and I must remember NEVER to listen to my rom-com obssessed sister's recommendations.

 

Tsotsi - In a South-African township, runaway and gang leader Tsotsi, steals a car and discovers a baby in the back seat. He tries to take care of the baby and in turn it teaches his something about the meaning of life, the value of life, and the goodness in people if only he searches it out. Gripping viewing, but as a mother not so long removed from the stages of having a tiny baby, I found it distinctly uncomfortable to watch and my anxiety that Tsotso should return the baby clouded my judgment or appreciation of the film. Stunning look though at the township life. Well recommended.

 

An American Haunting - Donald Sutherland/Sissy Spacek

We go back in the past to 1818, and a wealthy landowner is cursed by the village witch for trying to charge her 20% interest on a loan. Immediately a strange visitor in the form of a poltergeist takes control of the house and focuses it's attentions on the eldest daughter. The family fight to regain control of their house and save their daughter from the nightly attacks. There is absolutely no build up in this film -you are launched straight into the action and there is no release till the end. There is a twist, I didn't like the twist - it seemed to 'trying to be controversial' or trying to tie up the past and present occupations neatly. But for scares it is pretty good in an Amityville/Exorcist/Poltergeist vein.

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Films I have seen recently -

The Family Stone... and I must remember NEVER to listen to my rom-com obssessed sister's recommendations. ...

I have seen this movie a while ago and found it quite amusing. I wouldn't call it the best film ever made or anywhere in the range of an Oscar, but - it had it's nice sides and I wouldn't mind seeing it again sometime.

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My husband and I are gradually working our way through Battlestar Galactica. We've just rewatched series 1, and have launched into series 2.

 

I love it's complexity and darkness, and the political aspects of it - and most of all the very flawed and mixed up characters, but I'm struggling a little more to get engrossed in series 2. I think with following the storyline on Galactica itself, as well as those on Caprica and also those down on the planet of Kobol is just a little too much. It feels much more fragmented and bitty than the first series, which only had Galactica and Caprica.

 

Despite that, it's still far better than any other series I've seen recently. We're rationing ourselves to a maximum of two episodes per week, to string out the enjoyment and suspense. Otherwise we would watch the whole lot in a single week, by staying up ridiculously late every night, and then be disappointed when we reached the end so quickly and had nothing left to watch. (I will try and follow the same principle at Easter, by not eating all my easter eggs within 24 hours!!)

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We're rationing ourselves to a maximum of two episodes per week, to string out the enjoyment and suspense.

You have more self-discipline than me, Claire! I had the boxset of series 2 for Christmas and watched it in a week - it was simply too compulsive not to! It's an absolutely fantastic series; I think I posted about it on the old thread. Whilst it tells a cracking story, its real strength is that the drive comes from issues and characters. I particularly like what they do with the cylons so that it's not simply a question of them as unambiguous bad guys, but beings with issues of identity who believe in God. That aspect is cranked up a lot as Season two unfolds.

 

Don't worry, Claire, that fragmentation settles down and there are some superb episodes to come. I've followed a lot of sci-fi series with story arcs but this is the only one where I can honestly say there has not been a single duff episode. If you aren't normally a sci-fi watcher, this is still a series you should take a look at because it is, above all else, thoughtful, challenging, character-driven drama of the highest order.

 

Unfortunately, as with Lost, I came to Sky too late to catch the latest season.

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The only film I've sat through recently was Vera Drake. It evoked many memories of my childhood in the drab 1950s, and gave much food for thought, although some of the 'points to ponder' were a bit obvious...like being poked with a pointy stick by someone saying 'now look at it from this angle'

Imelda Staunton was magnificent, and I love seeing Phil Davies in things.

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I'm glad that Battlestar Galactica settles down a little, David, that's a relief.

 

I agree with you about even the cyclons not being 100% evil - that makes it so much more interesting - especially the Sharon character (or characters??) - but even the tall blond woman (does she have a name?) has the odd moment when I feel a moment of pity and warmth for her. One of the strongest episodes of series one for me was when Starbuck was interrogating the captured cyclon - I had such mixed feelings about the rights and wrongs of it all....

 

I was a little annoyed by the end of series one cliffhanger

 

...where Commander Adama was shot - just because he was plastered all over the front cover of the series 2 DVD box - leaving us in very little doubt as to whether the bullet was fatal or not!!

 

 

Any other fans out there - I seem to remember at least one other person got DVDs for Christmas....

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but even the tall blond woman (does she have a name?)

Number 6 (if you can call that a name!). These issues twist and turn all over the place during the series and one episode in particular really makes you think! Blew me away with the brilliant conceit they come up with, still, I can't say anything at the moment!

 

I know what you mean about the cliffhanger, but for me the real impact of that was...

 

 

knowing that everything had changed for Sharon and that the whole dynamic around her character would have to change. It was more the shock at what she did than the curiosity about whether Adama would live. It certainly added to the fragmentation at the start with Tigh having to lead Galactica, stretching the characters still further.

 

 

Baltar's a great character too and they do a great job of balancing all the elements of his presentation - comedy, self-interest, fear, treachery and just enough sympathy to stop us being alienated from him.

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I have just been to see a Turkish art-house film called 'Climates' which got good reviews. If any of you out there are thinking of going, DON'T. Utter twaddle. Long takes of people's faces emoting; close-ups of lightbulbs and hazelnuts; piano music ebbing and flowing. Strewth! :P. Lucky for everyone that there isn't a smiley for 'throws up' otherwise I'd have used that.

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Lucky for everyone that there isn't a smiley for 'throws up' otherwise I'd have used that.

Lest you need it in the future, brightphoebus...

 

sick0021.gif

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I'm still working my way through Battlestar Galactica which I copied from DVD rentals. The only way to cope when they don't send the series in order. I can't remember whether it was Sainsbury's or Tesco (one is run by I Love Film and the other by Screen Select) that can't send series in order. I have season two to watch (kindly copied via SkyPlus). I have found that I have to watch a couple of episodes at a time to counter the frustrating pace of single episodes.

I'm also working my way through The Dead Zone season 4 and Dead Like Me season 2.

Talking of series cancelled before their time; can I recommend Firefly by Joss Whedon (he of Buffy and Angel fame). It is brilliant and was killed off before it's time after only a dozen episodes.

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Talking of series cancelled before their time; can I recommend Firefly by Joss Whedon (he of Buffy and Angel fame). It is brilliant and was killed of before it's time after only a dozen episodes.

I think I raved about that at some point in the past, tagesmann, so it's probably lost in cyberspace. Yes, it's highly original and very entertaining. Much like Battlestar Galactica it's a sci-fi series which you could very easily watch even if you're not 'into' sci-fi. It's that great mixture of action and humour that Joss Whedon does so well, with an excellent on-going plot, which of course makes the cancellation highly frustrating.

 

Have you seen Serenity, the film conclusion to the story, tagesmann? It's also extremely good. Essentially it deals with River's secrets and consequently doesn't wrap up some of the other aspects I would have liked to see resolved. In particular, Shepherd Book, who seemed to have a tantalisingly enigmatic background.

 

In spite of cancellation, still well worth watching.

 

Shiny!

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Yes I have seen Serenityand did enjoy it. But I was disappointed not to find out more about Book. I wonder whether time constraints or the actor's availability influenced the decision to leave his story untold. I think one of Joss Whedon's strengths is his comedy along with the fact that he isn't precious about the genre. Why not have cowboys in space? Why shouldn't the future be any less perfect than now? Why shouldn't Vampire Slayers hate their life and just want to be ordinary teenagers?

Oh, and my favourite thing about Battlestar is the lack of sound in space. It works so well and makes a nonsense of everything else before (including Star Wars).

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Baltar's a great character too and they do a great job of balancing all the elements of his presentation - comedy, self-interest, fear, treachery and just enough sympathy to stop us being alienated from him.

 

He is good - I have a real soft spot for him, but that may be because he was a slightly similar character in a mini-series from ages ago. (Anyone else remember the wonderful, "Sex, Chips and Rock n Roll"??).

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Just watched "The Mistress of Spices" (on DVD). Not a very new movie (2005) but I hadn't seen it before. I like Gurinder Chadha, her movies are always a little different. This one was directed by her husband and she was the producer. Very interesting movie about an Indian spice lady who has to decide between culture and love.

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Last night I watched Pierrepoint starring the wonderful Timothy Spall. Albert Pierrepoint was the Home Office Executioner when capital punishment was still carried out in Britain. He ran the executions of the Belsen staff after the second world war, and he was the executioner of Ruth Ellis - the las women to be hanged in Britain. This film tells his story from when he first applied and became the executioner till Ruth Ellis and his resignation.

 

I chose this film because I am actually a member of a few anti-capital punishment groups (and correspond with 3 inmates currently), so I knew a fair amount about this man. I had also believed that he resigned because he no longer believed that capital punishment was right, but this film shows myriad reasons for his resignation. He always believed that the condemned were entitled to an extremely swift 'cell to death' execution (in the film he is shown trying to beat a 13 second record set by his father). He believed that the condemned were entitled to a decent burial as hanging absolved them of their crime.

 

The first instance in the film of his conviction wavering is when they run out of coffins for the Belsen condemned. Then little by little other factors chip away at his conviction - his wife's interest only in the money he received, his wife's lack of interest or refusal to hear about his work, his sudden fame and notoriety after the Belsen 'job', contact from the condemneds' families, the execution of one of his friends and so on. His final reason for resigning was because he wasn't paid for the trips he made and the condemned was reprieved. But this was just a face-saving excuse - he really had lost his conviction that what he was doing was just. He later stated that it became about revenge and that's why he no longer believed in capital punishment.

 

The film is very well made - it is a quiet and dignified portrayal of this intensely private man. It suits the man and the subject matter. Timothy Spall is just tremendous. From the detached man who is the executioner to the happy, popular Albert that delivers groceries - Spall gets the conflicting personality just right. And the final breakdown/awakening is heart breaking. Pierrepoint had some 600+ souls on his conscience and Spall carries the weight of every single one of them.

 

Highly recommended.

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Watched "Point Break" last night on Five. I forgot what a good trashy film it is. Sit back and think of nothing for two hours...

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...I was disappointed not to find out more about Book. I wonder whether time constraints or the actor's availability influenced the decision to leave his story untold.

I'm pretty sure that it was to do with the limitations of a film. After all, Whedon had set up threads designed to work within the framework of an entire series, which ended half way through, so he simply couldn't accommodate them all in the two hour traffic of a film. The relationship between Mal and Inara had to sit on the back-burner too, which was a shame. Still, some pretty bold developments in the plotting for the film - the smell of burnt bridges lingering in the air...

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I watched Miami Vice last night - the Michael Mann reincarnation. First of all before I start on the film let me say that I love Michael Mann. I love every single one of his films, especially Heat and Collateral. The man is a movie god. Well he was until now. What the hell happened with Miami Vice?

 

There is huge problems with this film. There is absolutely no chemistry between Farrell (Sonny Crockett) and Foxx (Ricardo Tubbs). Farrell did a great job of an American accent in Phone Booth, but his talent has severely let him down in this film. The gravelly, gruff, barking that he does in MV is awful and barely disguises his heavy Irish accent. It's almost like they knew his accent was coming through and his dialogue is mostly in soundbites, barked at the fellow actors. Foxx is very good but there isn't much scope for...what do you call it?...ACTING.

 

The script is really woeful. Neither me nor hubby wanted to turn to each other and say "this is crap" so we sat in silence, giving an air of deep contemplation. Eventually though it was so ridiculous that we just had to laugh. Everything is abbreviated, every phrase is cut down. It doesn't add gravitas, speed or drama to the film - it just renders it incomprehensible. The amount of so-called police jargon positions the viewer firmly on their couch - alienated from the world of the film.

 

The cameras move about so much that I felt ill. I get why they do that - I get the need for drama and action but for the smooth rides and smooth but speedy boat rides in world of Miami Vice - it just didn't suit.

 

The one good thing that I will say is that the cinematography is just sublime. Mann is wonderful at lighting up the screen. I can stare at his films for hours - they are literally art.

 

Don't say you weren't warned.

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On Thursday night last week, I watched The Lake House starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Now, I am not a fan of rom-coms, or romantic films. Or Keanu Reeves. Or Sandra Bullock, So god only knows what force of nature compelled me to add this to my Amazon rental list. I think it was the odd premise.

 

It is 2006 and Cate (Bullock) has left her house on the lake to live in Chicago. She leaves a note for the next owners welcoming into their new home. In 2004, Alex (Reeves) moves into the lake house (which his father played by Christopher Plummer built) and somehow collects Cate's letter from the mailbox. And so begins a romance that spans time through the correspondence.

 

As they get to know each other through letters, Alex makes salient events that happen in Cate's life. For instance, through her story we find out that she kissed a random man at her birthday party in 2004 which annoyed her then boyfriend. So when we return to 2004, Alex now knows Cate through her letters and he turns out to be the random man she kissed. It still would have happened without the correspondence but it means more now to Alex than it would have. Confused? Well, admittedly for the first half an hour of the film I had a look of "what the hell?" on my face. But once I let go of logic I really enjoyed the film.

 

They agree to meet at a date in 2006 (Cate's time / 2 years later for Alex) at a restaurant. Alex doesn't turn up. So Cate decides to stop the correspondence and get on with her life. Alex pines. But just as you think it is all over she finds out why he didn't turn up.

 

Both parts are competently acted by Bullock and Reeves. Not Oscar winning for sure but Bullock is always good, (especially in 28 Days the only film I can repeatedly watch her in) and Reeves for once does a nice job. In one scene, he actually made a tear come to my eye.

 

It's a bizarre film. Illogical and sometimes mawkish. But you know, I actually enjoyed it. It's not flashy and plays it for what it is - turning out to be a beautiful, haunting film.

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Thanks, Hazel, even though this kind of story isn't really my thing, I was interested in this movie. Maybe I should go and borrow the DVD.

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Over the weekend had Volver out on DVD, starring Penelope Cruz and directed by Pedro Almodovar.

 

At the beginning I was starting to worry that it was going to be the equivalent of a magic realism type novel, either that or too surreal for our taste but no worries. We found it engrossing and it was the finest acting we'd seen by Cruz. Recommended.

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Just watched "The Mistress of Spices" (on DVD). Not a very new movie (2005) but I hadn't seen it before. I like Gurinder Chadha, her movies are always a little different. This one was directed by her husband and she was the producer. Very interesting movie about an Indian spice lady who has to decide between culture and love.

 

is this an adaptation of the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni? I read that book while I was doing my A Levels but have vague recollections of loving the descriptions of the culture?

 

Last night I finally sat down and watched Brokeback Mountain , everyone I know raves about this film I was just mildly bored and not all that interested. I understood the whole point that gay people had to supress their love but there was something about the characters that just didn't pull me into the story, which is strange because i normally find it very easy to get immersed in films.

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is this an adaptation of the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni? I read that book while I was doing my A Levels but have vague recollections of loving the descriptions of the culture?
Apparently, it is. See more here at

The Internet Movie Database (Imdb). As I said, I love Gurinder Chadha since she seems to have a good understanding for different cultures. She is Indian herself, grew up in Kenya, then went to England and is married to an American of Japanese descent. So, hardly any culture that she wouldn't know about. You can tell from her movies. This one was directed by her husband and she was the producer and they both wrote the screenplay.

Anyway, must look for that book. ;)

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I watched Miami Vice last night - the Michael Mann reincarnation. First of all before I start on the film let me say that I love Michael Mann. I love every single one of his films, especially Heat and Collateral. The man is a movie god. Well he was until now. What the hell happened with Miami Vice?

 

I've not seen this but I do like those of Mann's earlier films that I've seen - Thief and The Keep. Thief in particular is an excellent crime thriller, James Caan is superb.

 

Oh and Tangerine Dream still sometimes do "Beach theme" from the soundtrack at concerts :D.

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