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Reviews by diogenes

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345 reviews/ratings - 18 pages (20 reviews/ratings per page)

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The Golden Compass (2007)

I was bored to tears by this movie. I had to struggle to avoid falling into unconsciousness followed swiftly be coma and then rigor mortis. But then (full disclosure) I read the whole trilogy many years ago and afterwards felt that I had rather wasted my time. The elements of the story are so clumsily and almost thoughtlessly put together (daemons are supposed to be our souls, or something. Are they physical? Do they defecate?). I find it hard to believe that Pullman's novel would have been as celebrated as it was if it were not billed as some sort of atheist propaganda. Certainly the 'Magisterium' - an obvious stand-in for the Catholic Church - is presented in a sort of simplistic, historically-illiterate manner as the root of all evil. There is one point in the first book of the trilogy when the separation of a person from their daemon is presented as the equivalent to circumcision (another sort of cutting) - and at this point I thought 'maybe the novel is about to get interesting'. Except that the point is left hanging in the air and is undeveloped (and, in any case, Christianity, in contrast to the other Abrahamic faiths, abolished circumcision - another example of the author's overall clumsiness with his ideas). So there really isn't much to grab one's interest. The prevalence of CGI in this movie is, I suppose, inevitable, but I always find CGI annoying.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 4 / 10
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The Golem (2018)

Perhaps could have benefited from being a little tighter and faster paced... but it's hard to be too critical of a movie with a monster that literally thrusts its hand inside people and rips their hearts out! Not to mention making people's heads explode!

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 7 / 10
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Good Boy! (2003)

Oh God, it's awful! When, at the end, the mom says 'Start unpacking - we're home for good' I laughed my head off! It was so predictable. (Although it doesn't really make sense, since they could always take the dog with them when they move. So why the sudden change of mind???) I can't believe that the producers managed to rope Vanessa Redgrave into doing one of the voices! Still, the whole thing's so unpretentious, it makes it almost beyond criticism. As a movie for very young children (10 or below) it's fine. Liam Aiken is a moderately charming actor.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 5 / 10
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The Good Son (1993)

I'm surprised by some of the negative reviews here of this film. Here is a movie which features an unlikely combination of two of the biggest boy actors of the 90s: Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood. And guess what? Seeing these two interacting on screen is every bit as riveting as you would expect. I think Culkin has really found his forté here as well, playing an 'evil' character. A definite must-see.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 8 / 10
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Goodbye Sam (2017)

Probably my personal favourite of Theo Taplitz's short films - simple, sweet, and charming - though I also particularly like "Sorry to Say", "Crap You!" and "The Mosquito".

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Goreshto pladne (1965)

A classic. Unmissable.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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Gostya iz budushchego (1985)

Gorgeous. It proceeds at an unhurried pace, but by episode 3 I was hooked. When it ended, I wished it could have gone on forever, and I was already missing it. Aleksei Fomkin was most likeable as the male lead, Kolya. The closing credits are also accompanied by the most wonderful theme tune of all time, which will make you wish you were back in the 1980s.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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Gribiche (1926)

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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Der Grüne Heinrich (1993)

I liked the portion in which Andreas Schmid starred, and I liked the whole movie. Visually rich and beautiful, the story is gently melancholic.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Gummi-Tarzan (1981)

With its right-on message that every child can excel at something, it is not surprising that this movie won a Unicef Award; though perhaps the characters in this movie are just a little too simplistic and stereotyped to be enirely credible. What is fascinating about this film now is what it reveals about the cultural chasm separating 1981 from the present day. When Ivan's parents discover that their son's closest friend is a middle-aged man who operates cranes, and that he regularly visits this man out of school hours, they are merely bemused and a little surprised, but not hostile or suspicious, still less hysterical, as they would be now. The film thus stands as a sad testament to a more civilised and less febrile era. Alex Svanbjerg gives a highly creditable performance as Ivan.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 7 / 10
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The Harvest (2016)

What a NASTY little film!

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed Star 2 / 10
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Die Heiden von Kummerow und ihre lustigen Streiche (1967)

Delightful, pastoral comedy. It makes me wish I lived in Kummerow in the first decade of the 20th century...

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Henry (2011)

Not bad. Anton Starkman carries off his role well.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 6 / 10
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Here Come the Double Deckers! (1970-1971)

A co-production with 20th Century Fox Television, and very 'American' in style and content, for me this falls a little flat with its over-reliance on slapstick gags telegraphed well in advance, though some episodes are reasonable, and it is very nice to see Peter Firth as a remarkably handsome adolescent.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 5 / 10
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Hideaway (2017)

As the contact numbers at the end of the closing credits make clear, this film is a social services advertisement, rather than an artistic film. If meant as the latter, it is no more than unimaginative cliché, with an uninspired script, ropy acting and nausea-inducing wobbly camera. Art cannot co-exist with the attempt to be 'worthy'. For then it becomes essentially about the virtuous intentionality of the filmmaker, and loses its organic connection with objective reality.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed Star 2 / 10
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Historia kina w Popielawach (1998)

Extraordinarily beautiful. Probably among my top 20 favourite films ever.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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Hitlerjunge Quex (1933)

Firstly, let's get one thing out of the way. It is hardly probable that people will respond to seeing this film by immediately donning their SS uniforms (kept carefully neat and pressed in their wardrobes) and goose-stepping down the Balls Pond Road. Expressions of hand-wringing concern over this movie are therefore completely absurd. The fact that the German government chooses to treat its citizens like small children whose little minds might be irreparably warped by the sight of a swastika should not lead us to take such an illiberal attitude. All art, as Oscar Wilde said, is absolutely immoral.

"Hitlerjunge Quex" is undoubtedly very finely acted, with a superbly constructed narrative, building the dramatic tension perfectly to its tragic denouement. Jürgen Ohlsen (as Heini) is utterly brilliant. Heini is such a sweet boy that one finds oneself rooting for him throughout. (And I don't believe this is something one can fake - that is, I am sure that Jürgen Ohlsen really was a sweet boy.) One curious thing about this film, though, is the almost total absence of politics in it. This may seem an odd thing to say about what is admittedly a Nazi propaganda film, but throughout the course of the film we learn nothing about the Nazi's political programme. If your knowledge of Communism and Nazism were derived solely from this film, you would hardly be able to guess that the two groups had differing political and economic philosophies. The only hint of politics in the film is that we are led to believe that the Communists stand for the 'proletariat', whilst the Nazis stand in some sense for a 'Germany' which includes, and transcends, all classes. But besides this vague hint, politics hardly figures at all. What Heini dislikes about the Communists is simply that they expect him to participate in activities (such as smoking, drinking and sexual interaction with women) that he has no interest in (and when he expresses his distaste, they tend to respond by belittling him). And what appeals to Heini about the Nazis is that they act more like a (slightly militarised) Boy Scout troupe. Having just watched this film for the second time, I believe I am correct in saying that there is not a single anti-semitic remark in the entire movie. This absence of politics might be considered dishonest, since it serves to obscure what the Nazi movement was actually about. But on the other hand, it is surely the film's salvation as a work of art. Had we discovered that Heini was beginning to take an anti-semitic stance, for example, we would no doubt have been alienated. But instead the film becomes a story about an incredibly sweet boy who struggles against adversity (and the poverty of his family) in order to do something worthwhile, to serve a movement that provides him, and other boys, with a sense of belonging and comradeship, but who suffers a tragic (though strangely beautiful and moving) death at the end. Such a tale is worth telling at any time, and it is what makes this a great film, and a 'must-see' for all devotees of boy actors and boy movies.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Hjartasteinn (2016)

Saga (below) is right that this film is unusual in dealing substantially with the non-homosexual youth who is the object of same-sex attraction, and for this it deserves credit as a realistic portrayal. It's a bit of a downer, because everyone seems to be constantly inflicting sexual shame on everyone else - the kids inflict shame on their mother, for example. If only everyone stopped heaping damned sexual shame on each other, everyone could live sane and happy lives...

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 8 / 10
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How Olin Lost His Eye (2013)

Rather silly. Appealing boy actor.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed Star 3 / 10
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Hugo (2011)

A nice concept, but nevertheless a film that seems somehow less than the sum of its parts. I think the problem might have been with the two young actors, Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz, both of whom I find slightly annoying, particularly the latter. The cinematography and mise-en-scène is gorgeous (though visuals clearly designed for 3D cinema viewing don't come off quite so well on the small screen in 2D), but I wonder if on this occasion these elements triumph over narrative content. The movie does seem a little overlong.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 5 / 10
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