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The Snowman and the Snowdog (2012)
Nice idea, nice animation, shame about the music (includes spoilers)
This sequel to "The Snowman" was a nice idea. I'm not sure if the world needed one; the original Raymond Briggs creation was pretty much complete in itself (boy builds snowman, snowman comes to life, boy and snowman have good time, snowman melts, audience sniffles, The End) but if a sequel was to be made this was a fair one. I'd only say "fair" as I found the "boy's poor old dog dies but he gets a new one" storyline cringingly mawkish. Maybe it's just me, but I felt that if he'd wanted a new dog that badly perhaps he could just have gone to DogsTrust.
The original Briggs Snowman didn't need any such bolted-on "aaahh" factor as it was complete in itself.
What made this a 6/10 rather than an 8, though, was the music. The original Snowman debuted in 1982. The "Walking in the Air" tune has been memorable since then – it's been part of the national psyche for 30 years (and frankly Aled Jones probably got sick of it after about a month). I couldn't remember the music from "Snowdog" even while it was playing. If I watch this again (and I might; the animation was stunningly beautiful, well up to the standard of the original) I'll do so with the "mute" button on.
A Is for Acid (2002)
Still a gem
My only problem with this movie is Martin Clunes. He acts it well, but is so often shown on TV as an extremely affable and likable character that it's almost impossible to believe him as a serial killer. Be it in fiction ("Men Behaving Badly") or documentary (about both dogs and horses) he always comes over as a jolly nice chap (which I'm sure he is). Casting him as a cold-blooded serial killer just doesn't work – it worked when Leone cast the blue-eyed angel Henry Fonda as a psychopath in "Once upon a Time in America", but casting Clunes as a serial killer is a step too far.
Having said that this is nonetheless a gem of a movie. Set design is pure '40s and the use of 1940s music is extremely well done. Hence my 8/10 rating.
Peaked too late
This movie took too long to get to the point, for me. The start was too predictable - Murray doesn't fit in in the Army - and it only really got going with the Daring Rescue in the Armed RV. The references to the USSR and Czechoslovakia also mean it's a bit dated nowadays. They coul have cut the whole mud-wrestling scene and made more of the rescue, I think. 5/10
From Hell (2001)
"Orright Meery Pappins?" - return of the fake Mockney accent.
The movie was enjoyable enough. Good atmosphere, not a bad plot (making the Ripper a political murder was certainly a new twist), good set design, good lighting, plenty of gore and so on.
There was however one person involved with this film who completely ruined it for me. That person should be buried in sand at least a cable's length from the shore. Who was this person? Johnny Depp's voice coach, that's who. That accent was just plain wrong in several respects.
Firstly it wasn't a London accent - presumably it was meant to be a Cockney accent but they didn't even try for generic "London". It was an "Estuary" accent - a sort of mishmash generalised "South East England" accent which has become widespread on TV over the past 15-20 years . In US terms, let's say they'd taken a Trenton, NJ accent and said "OK, that's close enough to a Brooklyn accent; they're both in the north-eastern US" when it MATTERED that the speaker was from Brooklyn.
Secondly an accent like that would not (even in the 21st century) denote "middle-class" (as Depps character was described); it's a very working class accent. Nothing in the least wrong with that, but it simply doesn't work (and it's simply not conceivable that someone would have made his way up from the "working classes" to become a police Inspector in the 1880s). Thirdly, and what wrecked it for me completely, was that Depp's voice coach had Depp doing a more-than-workmanlike impression of David Beckham (English soccer player and alleged style icon). The impression was so accurate that I have to believe he did it on purpose. I kept waiting for the Inspector to start discussing England's chances of qualifying for the European Soccer Championships!
I must be getting old, but can someone explain what this was about?
When I was younger, I would be painfully embarrassed by my grandmother asking "what's she doing now?" or "who's that?" when watching a film. Luckily I was alone when I watched this, so I only embarrassed myself by asking those same questions. I'm sure the writer understood what this was about - it's even possible that the director, and even the actors, had some idea, but that wasn't transferred onto the screen. The plot was simple - "scary things happen in the dark". Unfortunately the script was even simpler ("eeeeeek!" "here, drink this, it'll make you sleep") and the acting and the characterisation simpler still (none). Luckily someone involved with this movie - probably the cinematographer - admired Blade Runner enough to put some reminiscent touches in there, so there was something to watch. The DVD alternate ending is better than the standard one, 3/10 for cinematography alone.
Life Is Sweet (1990)
I know these people
Another reviewer has commented that this could be a fly-on-the-wall documentary rather than fiction. That hits the nail right on the head. I live some 5 miles from Enfield (where Life is Sweet was filmed) and this is completely true to life. No car chases, no martial artists, no expensive explosions, just life going on and (in the main) being fairly sweet. Everybody knows a Patsy who has a "little deal", everybody knows families like this one, everybody knows an Aubrey who never *quite* makes it. Mike Leigh knows what he's talking about, and it's enough to make a highly enjoyable movie that's worth seeing many times. I don't fancy Aubrey's "Saveloy on a bed of Lychees", though!
Bleakest movie - ever
I watched "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" many years ago but only just re-watched it today on DVD. I've now seen it twice today, once with standard soundtrack and again with the soundtrack consisting of commentary from the director and producers. Frankly I'm disgusted at myself for not seeing this movie more often - this is one of the best pictures of all time, in my opinion. Nicholson has never made a better picture (though I do think that he's made a good living playing McMurphy ever since) and Fletcher epitomises the kind of eveil that goes un-noticed because it's there 'for your own good'. The film is ultimately bleak, though, in its statement that spontenaity and personaity will be punished by destruction - either physical (like Bobby) or by forced conformance (like McMurphy).Forman surely has taken this from his experience behind the Iron Curtain.
9/10 - not 10 because of its hopelessness.
Scary Movie 2 (2001)
Watching this made me wish that somebody, somewhere, had the power to walk up to the director during filming and say "step away from the camera, sir". Movies like this degrade film. It's even worse than "Scary Movie" itself (which had the tagline "no sequels". If only). Presumably the director, writers and cast paid to make this trash, rather than getting a penny for it?
Watch the Shadows Dance (1987)
What was this about?
I just bought a DVD player, and this was one of the free movies thoughtfully supplied with it. Even at that price, I was overcharged. The plot (such as it was) was muddled, character development was nonexistent and the martial arts sequences were poor to say the least. I've given this 2 on the strength of Nicole Kidman alone, who at one point actually did some acting, and for the one interesting scene where the Older Woman turns up on a motorbike to save Our Hero. One for the "why was this ever made?" bin, for me.
Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
Silly, silly, silly.
A VERY silly movie, and none the worse for that. Don't expect (as other reviewers seem to) this to be a serious treatise on extraterrestrial biology - this is a brain switch off movie, meant to be enjoyed and giggled at. There are some lovely lines in it, and the ending, while not unexpected, is happy and feelgood. Great for watching on a plane, or for whiling away a couple of hours if you want a laugh with a few friends. It's worth it for the blue, furry Goldblum alone! 6 points.
Bone Daddy (1998)
Stick to the adverts, Rutger
Some time ago Rutger Hauer made a series of TV advertisements for Guinness. These were ten times more entertaining than 'Bone Daddy'. This movie combined a poor and formulaic plot, bad acting, ropey dalogue and unsympathetic characterisation to make a total waste of 90 minutes. By the end of this, I was wishing the killer had polished the lot of them off. Avoid. 3/10
"Disappointed" is too strong a word
It would be churlish to say I was disappointed. I've been wondering for a couple of days what the right word is, and I think I've come up with "crestfallen". One comment I heard (from an adult) was "great - when can we see the full-length version?" and I think that about sums it up.
Effects and cinematography were immaculate and the casting was inspired in at least one case. Robbie Coltrane was born to play Rubeus Hagrid! Sadly Coltrane was one of the few performers allowed to show their talent.
Scenes like Diagon Alley were just as I imagined them and this is a superb Hogwarts Great Hall (I *loved* the floating candles). Other effects like the wall into Diagon Alley and the unicorn blood were reminiscent of some of the effects seen in "The Matrix". Thanks Dolby Labs for inventing the surround sound system - quidditch balls flying overhead added the final touch to a fantastic action scene. The only scene that didn't fit was, to
me, The Leaky Cauldron (a medieval drinking hole in central London would be crammed with tourists - this should have been a dusty rundown neo-Victorian place, in my view).
So why "crestfallen"? It seemed to me that to fit this movie into a viewable length (152 minutes) all too much was squeezed out. The plot was extremely linear and, in some cases, would have made very little sense to anyone (if there *is* anyone!) who hadn't read the book. Though this is, of course, a childrens' film the book on which it's based has much richer subplot and characterisation.
Some important characterisation went by the wayside (it was never mentioned, for instance, that Ron was an excellent chess player although he and Harry were seen playing chess at one point) and plot lines like Norbert (Hagrid's Norwegian Ridgeback dragon) were so trimmed as to become almost incomprehensible. John Cleese's Nearly Headless Nick was just about completely headless.
This applies to characterisation as well as plot- the only characters who seemed to be developed were Hagrid and Hermione (Emma Watson) - everyone else, including Harry, were played in a fairly emotionless way. I felt for instance that some of Snape's (Alan Rickman) best sarcasm had ended up on the cutting room floor.
Apart from a severely trimmed plot, this movie lacked emotion. The book is warm - this was rather cold. I found myself not caring very much what happened to Harry.
One thing does worry me. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (or Sorceror's) Stone is 223 pages long. If the book has been compressed this much is anything beyond two films practicable? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the fourth book) is over 600 pages with a complex plot; how much of it would survive?
Why was this so popular?
In its time, "Bread" was a bit of a cult show. Now it's being shown again on UK Gold (a UK 'classics' channel) I wonder what the source of its popularity was. The mother is domineering and has a nasty tongue in her head, her family are obsessed with 'the family' to the exclusion of normal social interaction with anyone else, the humour (such as it is) is laboured at best, and the dialogue is stilted and poorly-delivered.
This certainly hsn't stood the test of time.