Posts filed under 'Movie review'

Smug Balls

After recently re-discovering the utterly discusting and quite frankly disturbing picture of the smug Will Young alike who was beaming out smuggish vibes from the front of that Specsavers windows I thought that surely since then other smuggers, as they have been tagged as, would have come to the surface to rival Kev.

As it happens on my travels not many have come up, that is until I was greeted with the poster for the new film ‘Letters To Juliet’, yet another dreary wander into romantic comedy with some American in somewhere in Europe. Whilst the woman may take a few smug points it is the grinning goblin to her right which takes centre stage. Chris Egan, who I have investigated and has quite a sincere face normally, manages to out-smug the rest of the world only using three quarters of his face which is an amazing achievement.

Unfortunately I couldn’t locate a copy of that picture and so sought a semi-smug replacement:

10 comments June 14th, 2010

Movie review: Slaughterhouse-Five

Make way, Jonathan Ross, I’m coming after you.

Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) dir. George Roy Hill
Starring: Michael Sacks, Valerie Perrine, Ron Leibman
Adapted from the novel ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut

Rating 4/5
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Here’s an interesting one. I bought this DVD as part of a box set, without having seen it, because the book had been described for several years as “unfilmable”, and then they made a film of it. It had come top of some ‘top ten’ kind of listing of such films. Then I forgot about it for a couple of years. Then I read the book and, some time later still, watched the film.

We should start with why it’s unfilmable. Aside from the fact that a good quarter of the book involves the author speaking directly to the reader, often about the process of writing the book itself, it is one of the most disjointed storylines imaginable. The protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, has an unusual affliction where his conscious mind is able to slide in and out of any moment in his life. He skids backwards and forward as the fancy takes him, revisiting the bits he likes. His connection to the ‘present’, whatever that means, is tenuous.

Billy Pilgrim’s life is not an easy one. Drafted into the US Army while still relatively young, he is taken hostage by Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. After the war he marries a woman he hates and watches his children grow up, working as an orthodontist. He is abducted by aliens who force him to mate with his favourite B-movie actress. The various events that take place in these three very different phases of his life are muddled around in the book as Billy slides around between them. You are probably starting to see why this was described as ‘unfilmable’.

So what of the film? Made from a book like this it could easily be messy, but it flows remarkably well. But it’s hard to tell how much of it would still have made sense if I hadn’t read the book first. Certainly the film would not have made so much sense if it hadn’t come from such a well-written novel, and even then, some of the rougher edges have been carefully smoothed off to shoehorn its strange plotline onto the screen.

As a film, it’s certainly not comfortable viewing all the way through, but its various depictions of the firebombing of Dresden and alien worlds work remarkably well, and the occasional shot of a naked young actress is also quite welcome. But the real wonder here is the performance from the various lead actors – the lead three or four characters are remarkably well played, understated to offset the rather outlandish plot line, and it’s strange that the people playing them have sunk into relative obscurity.

All in all, a brave and largely successful attempt at some pretty bizarre subject matter. Funny and surprising, it’s definitely worth a shot and another easy four jams.

This film on IMDB

9 comments January 29th, 2008

Movie review: Theatre of Blood

Time for another Barry Norman moment…

Theatre of Blood (1973) dir. Hickox
Starring Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, plus Arthur Lowe (from Dad’s Army)

Rating: 4/5
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It’s a British movie from the seventies with credibility! Yes, it’s a Vincent Price movie and yes, by this time he was already a bit of a parody of himself. But it’s widely regarded as one of his best. As a horror film it’s not particularly scary, it’s just good fun with enjoyable gory bits and some mystery.

Mr Price plays Edward Lionheart, a gifted West End actor who only ever played Shakespeare roles, for which he was panned by the critics. He was denied the critics’ award – something that would have marked the peak of his career – for not being innovative enough. Now everyone presumes him dead, but he has taken up residence in an abandoned theatre and – with the help of his daughter and the band of tramps who saved his life – he kills off the critics who denied him the award one by one.

The plot is a little sparse, but the film is saved by the way the killings take place: he murders each in the manner of a Shakespeare play, working through the plays he appeared in from the first to the last. It makes for some particularly inventive and gory killings. There’s also a swordfight on trampolines.
The plot still sounds pretty sparse, but it really needs nothing more. This is seventies horror, not Pride and Prejudice. Seven bloody killings in 90 minutes makes sure the film moves along at a brisk pace and the whole thing is executed with a witty sense of humour.

Good quality horror and gore that doesn’t take itself too seriously – and it has Vincent Price performing his face off. Brilliant fun from start to end. Watch it – an easy 4/5 jams!

This film on IMDB

3 comments June 2nd, 2006

Movie review: Confessions of a Driving Instructor

Good evening. One of my final year lectures is British Cinema, and as part of my exam revision, I have watched Confessions of a Driving Instructor in full. Student life is hard. This might even become a regular feature.

Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976) dir. Cohen
Starring Robin Asquith, Lynda Bellingham (her off the Oxo adverts)

Rating: 2/5
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This is the first “Confessions” movie I have seen but it’s actually the third one in the series, which sees Tim (Robin Asquith) and his brother set up a driving school. Hilarity, of course, ensues.

This is possibly the worst film I have seen in a long time. It’s one of many British films of the 70s that were made on no budget whatsoever in order to make some quick cash, though the “Confessions” series is unusual in that it was funded by the US studio Columbia. Even so, the budget is almost non-existant and was mostly spent on insuring one large Bentley that is used in several reckless chase scenes and in convincing hordes of young women to briefly appear naked. Even Lynda Bellingham – later the prim and proper mum of the Oxo household – gets her baps out. In total there are flashes of gratuitous nudity from about six women.

The production values are a joke. It’s so bad it’s almost funny, but not quite. The funniest thing is how inexplicably eager women are to hop into bed with our gurning protagonist.

The point of the film seems to be to give hope to otherwise unattractive, geeky men who have no luck with women, by convincing them that most women are sex-starved, adulterous creatures who will get undressed at the first opportunity, have sex in any location and are willing to try it on with any unattractive geeky driving instructor who might come their way. The majority of them also have large dangly boobs.

All of the above is, of course, not true in real life, which is a tremendous disappointment. And so I give this film only 2/5 jam jars.

This film on IMDB

5 comments May 30th, 2006


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