Category: Film

Film: Hamlet (BBC adaptation with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart)

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This is the first time that I’ve seen or read Hamlet and I only had the faintest idea of the plot. This film is a good way to experience it. I definitely find it easier watching Shakespeare than trying to read it and having now seen a few of his plays I am less intimidated by the language and can focus on the story more.

It is a great cast but I was surprised how much the role of Hamlet was played for what came across to me to a large degree as comic effect – well suited to David Tennant – when I was expecting a lot more tragedy. I suppose that is why Shakespeare’s plays can be interpreted in many different ways and I expect that I would need to study the play more to see what aspects of the character I’ve not picked up on.

My only other comment would be that this comes across very much as a filmed version of a play rather than a fully fledged film in it’s own right.

• Spare Cycles: Much Ado About Nothing (The Globe Theatre, London)

• Spare Cycles: King Lear: Live cinema broadcast from the Globe Theatre, London

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Film review: Dunkirk (IMAX 2D)

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This film packs a powerful emotional punch.  Actually, it gets you in the gut.

If you get the chance you should see this in IMAX.  The big screen and massive sound give you the feeling that you are right up close to the action.  Each bullet sounds deadly and the aircraft engines vibrate you in your seat.  The story deserves to be told on this scale.

• The Guardian: Dunkirk review – Christopher Nolan’s apocalyptic war epic is his best film so far

Film: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story

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When the last Star Wars film – The Force Awakens – was released I wrote this in my review:

It achieves its basic requirement: putting down firm foundations for the several more Star Wars films and spin offs that will be coming our way over the next few years.

I enjoyed the spectacle but I thought the plot was a re-run of previous films:

Don’t expect miracles from the plot – once things get going you do get a real sense of déja-vu.  This is the third time part of this story line has been used in the Star Wars films.  You’d think that the bad guys would have a bit more imagination by now.

Rogue One is the first of a number of spin-off movies, including one due next year that currently goes by the name of “the untitled Han Solo Star Wars movie”.

I’d heard this film was good, as in “it’s good for a spin off”, but I really enjoyed it.  It looks great, it keeps the action flowing and the music clearly takes its cues from the original scores but builds on them well.  It is definitely part of the Star Wars universe.

Most importantly it has a plot. The events of the film provide background to the original Star Wars film and effectively explain that film’s title “A New Hope”.  It’s great to get some new revelations.

If all the Star Wars spin-off “stories” are as good as this one then it bodes well for the future.

 

 

Film: The Revenant

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After being attacked by a bear, a man is left for dead.  He survives, driven by the desire for revenge.

Unflinchingly violent, achingly beautiful, this deserves to be seen on a big screen.

 

Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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I managed to go into the new Star Wars film without having seen anything apart from the very first trailer and having heard nothing about the plot.  I keep hearing that the film is making serious amounts of money and I’m not surprised – I saw the film a couple of weeks after release and the 9am weekday showing I went to was at least 3/4 full.  My local cinema still has 29 showings a day…

Expectations are very high for this film and for the most part it manages to meet them.  This is easily the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (although some may say that the competition is not up to much…).  The film goes back to the “beat-up” universe of the original trilogy and it looks great – even though I only saw it in 2D. It achieves its basic requirement: putting down firm foundations for the several more Star Wars films and spin offs that will be coming our way over the next few years.

The new cast members are good and they bring a good dose of humour to the story even if their characters are not fully fleshed out.  It’s good to see the old-timers back on the screen.

Don’t expect miracles from the plot – once things get going you do get a real sense of déja-vu.  This is the third time part of this story line has been used in the Star Wars films.  You’d think that the bad guys would have a bit more imagination by now.  That’s not to say that the story doesn’t have its killer twists.

This is a great film.  You cannot deny that there is still a certain magic when the film starts, the yellow plot synopsis disappearing into the far reaches of space whilst the main title music blasts out.  Experiencing that on a big screen still gives me the tingles…

Film mini review: Interstellar

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A few points:

I’ve enjoyed several of Christopher Nolan’s previous films and was really looking forward to seeing this, especially on a big screen.

It looks good on a big screen, but it does not look amazing.  I was expecting amazing.

It starts off slowly.  It has a story to tell and is in no rush to tell it – it clocks in at just under 3 hours.  This is pitched as sci-fi blockbuster but is more space opera.  There’s nothing wrong with that but I went in having purposefully avoided seeing trailers or reading anything about the film and I did not get what I was expecting.

The sound sometimes overpowers some of the dialogue.  I thought it might be just my screening but it appears that others had the same problem.  I also felt that the soundtrack was trying too hard to manipulate your emotions.

Apart from that, I left the cinema thinking it was a good film and I enjoyed the story even if I did not totally understand it.

 

• The Guardian:  Interstellar review – if it’s spectacle you want, this delivers

• New York Times:  Off to the Stars, With Grief, Dread and Regret

• The Guardian:  Interstellar articles

• The Guardian:  Christopher Nolan releases Interstellar comic prequel

• Alternative Interstellar posters: part one / part two