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What films have you seen recently?


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I went to see French film "The Class" yesterday, which won the Palme D'Or at the last Cannes film festival and was nominated for the foreign language Oscar.


The film depicts a year in the life of a class of 13 and 14 year olds in the Parisian equivalent of an inner city comprehensive. All the action, such as it is, takes place within the four walls of the school - most of it, in fact, within one classroom, as a French teacher struggles to get the finer points of grammar over to his charges.


It is all shot in a very naturalistic, documentary style, and I guess this is what we are meant to admire about the film and why it has received so many plaudits. It looks semi-improvised, and the casting of the writer of the memoir on which this was based as the teacher is presumably meant to add further credence to what we see on screen.


However, the film is also incredibly dull. There's no plot in the first half of the film, after which a half hearted attempt at introducing some dramatic tension is made with the possible expulsion of a student and the teacher doing what American politicians call "misspeaking".


So, technically impressive from an acting and scripting point of view, but dull as ditch water.

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I watched Rebecca with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine last night

Germaine Greer wrote an interesting review of the themes within Rebecca when the film was re-released a couple of years ago.

Paedophilia, incest, unrelieved wimpishness - Hitchcock's Rebecca has it all, says Germaine Greer,


gg106, I too remember the TV version with Joanna David. I only have to hear her voice and I can picture scenes from it.


There was a made for TV film with Charles Dance and Emilia Fox in 1997. I don't recall seeing it, although I may have done, Diana Rigg as Mrs Danvers is ringing faint bells.

I have never seen the Olivier/Fontaine film

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Some quick-picks of recent viewing.


30 Days of Night - Rather nice premise for a vampire flick: a remote Alaskan town has no sunlight for 30 days, which of course makes it the perfect destination for vamps. Cue bloodthirsty mayhem, but in fact it's all handled rather well and instead of shocks and gore it is mostly an effective tension piece as the survivors attempt to remain hidden from the vampires. The best part is the vampires themselves, who are a genuinely creepy bunch with their own language and convincing sense of otherness. In particular Danny Huston as the lead vampire is just excellent.


For me, though, the ending spoiled it:



Josh Hartnett injecting himself with vampire blood was ludicrous because it totally ignored the fact that other people 'infected' immediately turned in terms of loyalties, yet he's magically immune. It seemed a contrived twist merely to enable a fight between himself and Huston. Equally, when one of the vampires was injured by the UV light she was blasted on to her back, writhing in pain, but at the conclusion Hartnett watches the sunrise and gradually turns crispy in a peaceful romantic embrace with his beloved.


Spoiled an otherwise excellent film.



We Own the Night - pretty much by-the-numbers piece in which dad and son are upstanding members of the police whilst son/bruv (Joaquin Phoenix) is a ne'er-do-well. Events transpire that lead to Phoenix turning to the side of the law, with all that this entails in terms of his previous life.


It's very watchable but there's nothing new here.


Albino Alligator - Kevin Spacey directs this effective crime drama. Three criminals botch a robbery, killing FBI agents in the process who are busy pursuing an arms deal. They hole-up in a basement bar which is quickly besieged by the cops.


This is a very watchable character piece although the characters are a little predictable (a good-at-heart lead criminal; his smart brother who doesn't want trouble; the amoral violent third crim; the old barkeep; the mysterious stranger etc.). Also, some of the twists aren't very difficult to see coming.


Still, the interchanges and character development are effective and I certainly enjoyed it.

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I watched Rebecca with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine last night on television and enjoyed it, despite the melodrama. I wonder if it has been remade since? It would be interesting to see what a more modern version does with the story, particularly after 'Rebecca's Tale'.


i'm currently reading rebecca for the first time. when i finish, i will have to watch the film


i did really like the comedy sketch from the Mitchell & Webb show on the film where Rebecca is the wife featured and everyone can't get over the fact about how wonderful the 2nd wife will be.


I didn't like the version from The Big Train sketch show (written byt he guys who wrote Father Ted) where the 2nd wife is dressed as a "Mexican Bandido"

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Over the last few weeks, I've seen a fair few films...

Benjamin Button, which I really enjoyed, though I did find the modern day narration scenes a bit trying-I think Daisy telling her grandkids as a bedtime story would have worked better, but that's just me. If it had been a tad shorter too, that would have been good. I liked the attention to detail & the obvious changes in society that each decade brought about. The special makeup effects to age/youthen Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were very good too. As much as I enjoyed it, I don't think I'll be getting it on DVD somehow as I don't think it's one I'd ever rewatch.

He's Just Not That Into You was OK, I guess. It was fairly obvious to me who was going to end up together. I really didn't like Jennifer Connolly's character or that of her on-screen husband. The Ben Affleck & Jennifer Aniston pairing rang really false to me too, especially Affleck's character's change of heart at the end of the film. The only character I remotely related to was Ginnifer Goodwin's, with her over-analysing all the signs etc and deciding X was in love with her. Plus, the bit on the end where the actors (who weren't even pretending that they were trying to be in character) talk about their future plans felt very forced and obviously tacked on. This one didn't live up to its hype at all, if you ask me. With such a talented cast, it really should have been stellar, but for me, it really wasn't!


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was incredibly enjoyable. I liked the stark contrast between the grey, dirty and bleak city of London and the dullness of the title character with the pretty colours & general ornateness of Delisya Lafosse's world. There were some really beautiful outfits/costumes, a fantastic cast in which the American contingent achieved seamlessy perfect British accents (Lee Pace who played Michael was just perfect), the love stories, though a little obvious in how they'd pan out were truly delightful to watch. Definitely one to buy for a rainy day as it left me feeling really hopeful & happy about love & life in general. It's like a cappuccino: light, frothy & sweet but a pleasure to have.


I want to see Slumdog Millionaire this weekend & Last Chance for Love looks quite sweet too...

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Watched Thelma and Louise last night.

I channel hopped after the end of Taggart, and found it on Five, which I rarely visit as it is only has a watchable picture on the spare-room TV.

I had missed the beginning, but not enough to matter, so I stuck with it. I'd not seen it before, but was aware of its reputation.


Enjoyed it very much, although it was way past my bedtime, and a struggle to stay awake to the end. Ad breaks are always a danger zone, the tired eyes will not stay open, and Five seems to have such frequent breaks!

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  • 1 month later...

A couple of recent viewings:


The Orphanage


My word. This is a quite outstanding film. I want to say you should watch it late at night in a darkened room, as I did, since that really is the best time.


Or isn't. Depends how much you enjoy feeling terrified!


Don't get me wrong - this isn't a horror film where terrible things leap out from behind corners. This is a slow-burning builder of psychological tension and it is beautifully made.


Laura moves with her husband and adopted son, Simon, to live in the former orphanage where she spent her early childhood. Simon is an isolated boy with imaginary friends, but after visiting a sea cave with Laura he suddenly makes a new one, leaving a trail of seashells back to his home so his new friend can come to play. Next morning Laura finds a pile of seashells outside the front door.


The chills that build up from this point on are superbly handled, structured around the disappearance of Simon, which Laura is convinced has something to do with his imaginary friend, who at a party for children she hopes to take on at the orphanage seems to become terrifyingly real.


There are some great twists and I can feel chills down my spine even now as I think of a climactic moment when Laura plays the knocking game.


The direction is superb and the whole thing (in Spanish) is produced by Guillermo del Toro, of whom I'm a huge fan. This is not a film for fans of scary movies; it's a remarkable film for people who love films. It just happens to be scary!


I can't recommend it enough.




Whilst I'm not a fan of all Luc Besson's work he has certainly turned up some films that are high on my lists of favourites, such as Leon and The Fifth Element. Angel-A is unusual but displays many of the characteristics I like about him: it has the eye for arresting images (enhanced here by being in black and white) and portrays a world that is slightly gritty and seedy with a neat balance of humour.


Andre is an inept fraudster in Paris who has built up a pile of debt with several people who will extract their dues in body parts if they must. A short, unattractive man, he lives a world of lies, even with himself. At the end of his tether he climbs over the side of a bridge over the Seine to jump to his death, only to see a tall, incredibly attractive woman about to do the same. After she jumps he leaps in to save her, after which she says her name is Angela; she declares herself to be his, saying she has fallen from the sky to help him.


And she quickly does, in unexpected and quirky ways, during the course of which the self-contained Andre starts to fall in love with her.


I liked the film and although it is not a great movie it has much that makes it enjoyable. It is quirky and amusing, often beautiful, and has what I found to be a satisfying mix of fantasy and reality. I liked the characters of Andre and Angela and although their relationship develops a little unevenly and, of course, seems hugely unlikely (her towering over him is a consistently amusing screen image which is nicely played on at times) it's nevertheless at the core of what I liked about it.


You can see a trailer for it here.

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I watched Get Smart last night with Steve Carell as a geeky, punctilious spy. It dragged on a little but there was lots of silly laughs along the way and I was giggling like a good 'un. The two geeks that created the gadgets were especially funny and I see from the trailers that they have got their own film now.

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Watched the Hollywood-remakes-Asian-film-unnecessarily film Mirrors last night. Keifer Sutherland, who spends most of the film SHOUTING RANDOMLY, is a ex-cop who is haunted by the death of...someone...and is separated from his wife and kids. He takes on a job as a night watchman for a huge department store that burned down long ago but the owners are still in legal wrangles over the insurance.


On his first night patrol of the building, he notices something odd about the shiny mirrors. There is a hand print on one of them that can't be polished off, it is on the inside of the glass. Further investigation uncovers hundreds of these prints. Slowly he begins to see things in the mirrors, horrific things, that can't be seen in reality. But what happens in the mirrors, happens in reality. And the mirrors want the souls of him and his family. Cue mad dash to destroy whatever is in the mirrors.


It is a very silly film. I hate horror films that are about 'a thing' rather than a person/ghost...There are a few jumps but nothing really original, and there is the usual fare of gore - one moment especially involving Kiefer's sister which reminded me of the classic Evil Dead films. But all in all, it's not terribly scary, or interesting, or worth a watch.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I watched Jim Carey's " Yes Man" on DVD last week ago. I saw this at the cinema when it first came out a few months ago and it was even better the second time around in the privacy of my own home and my 40" LCD tele. (Anything by Carey rocks as far as i'm concerned) :)


I have also seen "The Uninvited" at the cinema and this was really good. It was a really deep thought provoking film. Parts of it are scary but the whole story was really good and the ending really isn't what you expect. Definitely worth a watch. I also have since found out that this was a remake of a film i haven't seen called "A tale of two Sisters).There is a book called The Uninvited but this is to do with a UFO story by Nick Pope, not what this film was about

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I still have a buzz from going to see Star Trek yesterday. When it was first announced that the latest incarnation was going to revisit the characters of the original series in a prequel I wasn't enthusiastic, but when I considered the involvement of J.J. Abrams I began to wonder if it might not work after all. Then I saw the trailers and with each one became ever more confident.


Having seen the movie I'm left in no doubt that this has been a masterstroke.


Regulars will know I'm a fan of Trek. Not a sticking funny ears on and learning Klingon sorta fan, and not an uncritical one either, but I grew up with re-runs of the original series, loved the reinvention of The Next Generation, revelled in the darker tones of Deep Space Nine before becoming gradually more depressed with the nosedives of Voyager and Enterprise.


The problem is that the whole thing had become tired, unimaginative, incestuous and simply wasn't going anywhere, boldly or otherwise. That's why I thought going back to the beginning was only clinging ever more desperately to the glorious past instead of courageously forging new ground.


How wrong I was.


'Reimagining' is a word that sends colds shivers down my cinematic spine, yet in skilled hands it can work beautifully. Trek is a landmark of late twentieth century popular culture and consequently has a powerful hold on the collective consciousness which you can either dismay with ham-fisted treatments or electrify with genuinely impressive film-making. If you get it right you have an emotive wave just ready to break through the dam, and Abrams certainly pulled his finger out here.


The inheritors of the franchise created in The Next Generation a series for the eighties/nineties mindset: it was about cool rationalism, sleek modernity and cerebral moralising. Oh God the moralising! And the philosophising about what it was to be human...


It was great for a while, of course, but eventually grated as the world moved on. This is the era when Kirk needs to slap Picard on the head and barge his way to the fore with proper action and adventure. Which is exactly what happens here.


This is a movie that's about people once again and relationships as we see the beginnings of the friendship between Kirk and Spock - always gloriously illogical - and the coming together of the crew. Without Shatner's ego controlling things, though, there is greater even-handedness here and all the crew get a decent showing, except for Scotty, who enters proceedings rather late and is in danger of becoming mere comic relief if they're not careful.


All the actors put in great performances, not attempting to impersonate the originals but capturing their spirit. Karl Urban is just superb as McCoy and Zachary Quinto more than lived up to promise as Spock, drawing out very successfully the split deep within his psyche from being half-human. Chris Pine is also surprisingly good as Kirk, capturing an even greater arrogance from the younger man and yet managing to keep him endearing.


The plot is perfectly serviceable. It lacks any great complexity, but that's fine because this is a film that needs to focus on the people and to distract from that with overly involved storytelling would have been a poor choice. But here's the genius of it: there is a coup in the plotline that gives these films the edge they need.


I'm often wary of time travel stories but that aspect in Star Trek was vital because it hits the reset button. Events mean that even from the opening battle the established timeline has been altered. It's the Trek universe, Jim, but not as we know it.


Here history is being re-written, so we can't live in the adrenaline-sapping state of confidence that everyone will live, because even if they did so in the original series, they may not do so here. To that end there are deaths of people and even races from the Trek universe that did not 'happen'. The dice are up in the air; anything could go down; and we have real edge-of-the-seat excitement again.


And in spades! The battles are amazing. Abrams takes us close in so that we are in the thick of it; there's no long thoughtful shots of a Picard on the bridge eventually ordering 'Fire!' as a few phaser shots are sent off against the enemy - these are blood-and-guts, all-or-nothing firefights. Hand-to-hand combat is exciting and dangerous and the whole spirit of adventure is restored.


Everything is beautifully realised: the design, the effects, they're all desperately impressive and so completely right. Even down to ships going into warp as the sound thumps you in your seat, this is a visceral film that you have to see on the big screen.


The humour is spot-on (as opposed to some of the toe-curling stuff we used to get) and the references to Trek-dom are far too numerous to mention, yet aren't laboured, for the most part.


If you aren't into Trek will you enjoy it as much? No, of course you won't. But you'll most likely enjoy it. It's not a perfect film but it's a great one. Is it There Will Be Blood? Of course it isn't - that would be a stupid comparison to make because they are films that are doing totally different things. In its genre this is an outstanding film. It's fun, it's funny, it's gloriously action-packed, it has remarkable performances, it looks amazing and most importantly it takes an iconic brand and re-boots it in a way that will please all but the most fundamentalist fans as well as appealing to a whole new audience, and that's no mean feat.


What weaknesses there are arise largely because this is an establishing piece, putting in place a large cast and setting out the new rules, but I loved that process anyway. I certainly hope this standard will be maintained and built upon. May it live long and prosper!

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Star Trek


I don't have much time to type right now, but:


It was merely okay.




- Good acting by Pine--rebellious, scrappy, shoot-from-the-hip--a much better Kirk than Shatner was, and without the bad acting

- The actor who played Bones was the only actor who seemed to be playing to the original, but did he ever do a good job

- great special effects

- more of Uhura than we've ever seen before--and I mean that in both ways :D




- the actor who played Spock was lifeless and had no personality. Spock has no emotions, he does have a personality

- small, simple, ridiculous plot, full of conveniences and holes

- not time travel...again!

- other than the drill and Red Matter, there was nothing new here, just a rehashing of everything that we've seen before

- the lighting. It seems there was always a light shining in the camera's/viewer's eyes

- Scotty was a little over the top

- too much wasted time on Kirk's birth and both Spock and Kirk when they were young


C'mon, Spock and Uhura? And Kirk hitting on Uhura just for a little tension and humor. Big mistake. Kinda like Riker and Troy and Warf.



This one was about establishing the characters, not about story, and it shows--much to its detriment I think. Batman Begins had a story mixed in with its reinvention, where's the story here? And, in establishing the characters, it doesn't exactly probe very deep. The script must have been written in all of one afternoon.


The good thing is, the second one should be much better. I think we'll have to wait until then for something more worthy of Star Trek. This was more like tween-angst Star Trek, as they are definitely catering to a much younger audience, and not necessarily a sci-fi audience. I don't know what's worse, Revenge of the Sith or the new Star Trek. I'd say they're equally good/disappointing.




While I think Abrams is a good visual director, he can't do anything with story or character--exactly like Michael Bay. Both directors will only ever be able to produce films that appeal to either younger or less discerning viewers.

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Have to say I think I watched a different film to Slow Rain - apart from Scotty, I loved it!


I went hoping for a fun movie with larger than life characters and got it in spades - not quite so up-itself and with more humour than usual to boot. I really, really enjoyed



the third crew member who beamed down onto the drill to destroy it. Never heard of him before, and he gets a whole two lines before he's toast - literally. And - best of all - he's wearing red :D



Could we swap Scotty for his little sidekick - I liked him/her? far more than Monty.


My favourite character? Bones. Wondering if Karl Urban is into spiritualism as he appears to be chanelling DeForest Kelly.


Want more. Now. Please?

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Have to say I think I watched a different film to Slow Rain - apart from Scotty, I loved it!

Did you think it had a rock-solid, air-tight plot? Did you think it was full of original ideas?


Scotty and Bones were about the only larger-than-life characters, and neither of their parts were very large.


Fun? Perhaps. My wife is not a Star Trek fan, but she's pretty sure she's seen at least a couple of the movies. She thought it was fun, too. Perhaps it is fun, but in a Michael Bay sort of way. I've just never thought of Star Trek as that kind of fun.

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I went to see the Star Trek movie last night. David's thorough analysis covers it for me, and I'd definitely congratulate JJ Abrams for injecting new life into an apparently moribund franchise. I have a mixed opinion of his abilities - "Lost" can be excellent, but is uneven, but "Cloverfield" was dreadful.


I think the thing that threw me most of all about the film was the number of humourous moments that were sprinkled throughout, such as

the symptoms of the disease McCoy injects into Kirk to get him onboard the Enterprise and Scotty being transported into a pipe - why has that never happened before in the show?



The other unexpected aspect, which perhaps shouldn't have been such a surprise, was the amount of violence. I'd forgotten that typically each episode of the original series would at some point feature Kirk taking a swing at someone and here he is again in a fair amount of fisticuffs. Many of the leading characters neatly captured the arrogance of youth, and I liked the fact this had clearly been a consideration in the story and script.


It managed to be both respectful to the source material and also add to the Star Trek mythos neatly in the opening sequences. The casting was fine for the most part - I completely forgot I was watching Sylar from "Heroes" play Spock, he inhabited the part well and I did like the focus on his dual nature as half human, half Vulcan. The echoes of the original cast one could detect in Chris Pine (Kirk) and Karl Urban (McCoy)'s performances were pleasing too.


Also, very pleased to see the prominent position given to the excellent Beastie Boys tune "Sabotage". However, it was also depressing to realise Winona Ryder is now old enough to play someone's mother in a movie.

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I completely forgot I was watching Sylar from "Heroes" play Spock, he inhabited the part well and I did like the focus on his dual nature as half human, half Vulcan.
Hubby went to see this last weekend with the boys. He loved it. He hates Heroes with a violent passion, and even he said that Zach Quinto as Spock was one of the best things about the movie. Hubby was a trekkie, OS and NG, and he loved it so much that he is taking us all to see it on Sunday at the IMAX.


I am pleased to learn though that I am both a young viewer and a less-discerning one. Badges of prides. I bloody loved Bay's Transformers movie and can barely hold my breath waiting for the sequel. I'd much prefer to be a less discerning viewer than a movie snob. It's a helluva lot more fun.

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