film reviewettes

i’ve been on a bit of a cinema binge recently and there’s more to come so i’ll get some thoughts down here before i forget.

Tron: Legacy

ok.  zero peril.  seems short.  ruined by bad 3D but that might have just been the projection at the bristol “cinema de lux”. 6/10

The King’s Speech

as good as everyone says. 9/10


as good as the reviewers say, maybe better.  best 3D i’ve seen yet – non-intrusive and there’s a scene where i just thought it was real (well, a real cartoon) for a minute!  (and that’s at the same cinema as Tron: Legacy – see above) 9/10

True Grit

well, it’s good.  for me it took a while to get going.  i feel like people have raved about it because they’re surprised that the big name actors did a decent job – if they were unknowns no-one would be impressed?  maybe.  also, annoyingly fake snakes – but that could just be me with my cgi eyes – YMMV. 8/10

Confessions (告白)

a properly weird Japanese film.  a teacher’s daughter has died and while the police rule it accidental death the teacher is convinced that it was the work of two of her pupils.  since the law is powerless to punish minors she doesn’t bother trying to prove their guilt but proceeds to .. well, psychologically torture them .. a bit.

the first scene i found the most confusing – the classroom activity (kids talking amongst themselves while the teacher calmly addressed them) with the sound focusing variously around the room.  neither the odd activity nor the movement of the sound seemed to serve any purpose beyond saying, “this is a strange place you’ve landed in.”

after that things moved along at a brisk pace.  the “murderous high school kids at school” setting helped give the whole thing a manga-esque feel but i think the pace did that too.  and the blood.

by the end i felt like it had been retreading some of the territory of Battle Royale – an extreme and violent disconnect between youth and adults in Japan. 8/10

The Adjustment Bureau

not “bourne identity meets something” but “the matrix meets bruce almighty” – but quite good fun all the same.

oh, also, didn’t realise until i saw the credits that this is based on a story by Philip K. Dick, the god of sci-fi who authored the basis for Bladerunner. 7/10

Norwegian Wood (ノルウェイの森)

these opinions may be negatively influenced by my rookie mistake of going to the watershed (bristol’s mainstream arty cinema) on the opening weekend – foreign films there particularly attract the “white, middle-class, guardian-reading, aspiring-to-intellectual” types (like me) who laugh at all the wrong things in an effort to sound like they belong.  (i guess i’m just annoyed because they make plain the failings i’m trying to hide in myself).

based on the Murakami novel, the story revolves around the effects of suicide on two young people and those around them.  the book covers this subject matter with gentleness while the film, i think, isn’t able to do so.  probably this is because they’ve attempted to pack the entire novel into a single movie.

the music was truly dreadful.  i stayed later than most people in the cinema just to read the name of the culprit in the credits.  the whole tone and content of the movie is sad.  very sad things happen – i don’t need sweeping melancholic strings turned up to 11 to let me know that!  which reminded me of Infernal Affairs/The Departed in which the main difference that stuck out for me between the Japanese original and the Hollywood remake was the treatment of the Very Sad Scene.  in the original; sweeping strings and slow motion.  in the remake; nothing! – it’s just right in your face – and you feel it.  so maybe it’s a Japanese thing.  maybe they need to do a new score for western release or something.

almost as heavy-handed as the music were one or two “emotional” scenes and a handful of overtly “arty” shots throughout the film.

but if you can get past all that, the rest was pretty good!  some nice acting, some interesting (in a good way) art direction and the love scenes were very well done – extremely intimate and real without being rude for rude’s sake (no boobs or bits on display).

so in the end i liked it. 7/10


the tale of a (rather posh) family trying to have a nice get together in a cottage on the Scilly Isles before the young-ish son goes off to Africa for a year.

this is sooo real!  if it wasn’t so nicely shot i’d have thought it was a documentary.

there are mild laughs, many gently cringe-worthy family stress moments.  but mostly it’s just a beautifully portrayed window into the life of this family.

one reason i was looking forward to this film was because i LOVE the Scilly Isles, and that certainly added a little something for me.  but don’t go thinking it’s a postcard or sales pitch for the Scillies.  you only really see a few parts of Tresco and it’s almost never sunny.  weird.  🙂 9/10

coming next:

Unknown and five Japanese films being shown this weekend at the Arnolfini by the Japan Foundation film tour. also probably some comments on Neuromancer by William Gibson and Halo Jones by Alan Moore.


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