Monday, 30 May 2011

I watch movies so you don't have to

St Michael's parish church on a sunny day
Mr A and I have a subscription to the mail order DVD library that is LoveFilm. Here are reviews of all the movies we have watched in April and May, written when I really should have been revising for tomorrow's final exam. I really haven't enjoyed this last stretch of revision - I'm not learning anything new, and I'm very preoccupied with what happens next - how will I earn a living? Do I really want a standard entry-level NHS Dietitian job? If not, then what? Answers on a postcard, please.

Alice in Wonderland
Not the original Lewis Carroll story, but the recent version with Johnny Depp - my choice, of course. Mr A wasn't interested so I watched it on my own as a treat one afternoon in the slack time when I'd got back from GNT before school work started again. I liked it, especially the choice of actors to voice particular roles - Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee was particularly inspired. 8/10.

Made in Dagenham
Quite good, but all the ladies are extremely good looking and therefore rather unrepresentative of women in Essex. Miranda Richardson was a brilliant Barbara Castle, though. I compared this with my time working in Dagenham as a student sponsored by Ford more than 10 years after the strike, and failed to draw any comparisons because I didn't get to see the sewing machine area and didn't meet any females at all back then. There are some short clips of the actual women who were involved at the end of the DVD, which was fascinating. 8/10.

A harrowing story of the 1981 IRA hunger strike in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland, showing much of the spirit of the hunger strikers, and some of the brutality towards them by the authorities. It was a pretty balanced commentary, and left it up to the viewer to decide whether they were right or wrong. 7/10.

The Other Guys
I saw this in the cinema with Lola II when it came out, and had mixed views at that time because we made the mistake of sitting too close to the screen. We enjoyed it more when thinking back afterwards, so I thought I'd give it another go, and it was better this time. Mr A even laughed out loud a couple of times: Mark Wahlberg's mystified expression at the loveliness of his buddy's wife was a particular highlight, along with the really quiet fight at the funeral. 8/10.

The Blind Side
This is the movie that won Sandra Bullock her Oscar, and she does a good job although it's not that great a film. Based on a true story, it's firmly based in the US culture of (American) football and the college scholarship system, which made some of the references a little obscure to us. Mr A wasn't that impressed, I liked it, but not excessively. 7/10.

Christiane F
I watched this without Mr A, based on my having seen it first at an impressionable age, and wanting to see why it had remained with me ever since. It's not an easy film, depicting a decline into heroin and prostitution for the very young lead character, albeit with a 'happy' ending, for her at least. One of the most striking aspects was the absence of any allusion to HIV/AIDS, which was only just emerging into society in 1981 when the film came out. 7/10.

Four Lions
This is described as a black comedy, which I suppose is accurate because there are amusing elements within it. In most black comedies, however, nobody is actually portrayed as blowing themselves up - usually there's some hilarious explanation and everyone's still alive at the end. After the laughs, I found myself considering the possibility that the idiocy portrayed may not be too far from reality, which is a sobering thought indeed. 7/10.

Perrier's Bounty
This very much reminded us of In Bruges, which was one of my rare 10/10 films (most get 7 or 8 out of 10). Some of the actors and many of the gangster characters were very similar, but unfortunately they were much less sympathetic, and often just stupid or unpleasant without any redeeming features. I was sorry to see some of the bad guys meet a sticky end in In Bruges, but not here - I didn't even care much for the hero. 7/10.

(The Tragedy of) Macbeth
Mr A specialises in choosing these difficult yet 'classic' films for us to watch. Mostly I let him get on with it and watch them without me (especially while I was away at GNT) but I thought this would be educational. It's directed by Roman Polanski and produced by Playboy Productions, so there's gritty bloody realism along with gratuitous witch nudity. Not bad, but at 2 hours 20 minutes it would have been better if he had made it a bit shorter. 7/10.

Sherlock Holmes
Now this one really did go on too long. At one point the DVD got stuck, as they sometimes do, and usually we try all sorts of techniques to continue from the same point onwards. This time we jumped to the next scene without even trying. It would have been an excellent film at 90 minutes, with a nice relationship between Holmes and Watson, and lots of 'reveal' at the end. But at over 2 hours it only gets 7/10.

We managed to avoid all the hype and didn't see it at the cinema, in 3D or anything else. I'd heard it was quite long, but it didn't seem to go on as long as Macbeth or Sherlock Holmes, despite checking in at 2 hours 42 minutes. Really good CGI, story not bad, could have done with a bit less fighting, but then I think we're unusual in finding the battle scenes boring. Overall, I liked it. 9/10.

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