Amour (2012)

The following review has appeared nowhere on the web recently, although it “was there” on the web a few years ago. But I still have the content that I can re-post. I’m not 100 percent satisfied with the quality of that once published review, as a writer knows when something they write is not feeling perfect. This review is one of those moments. So, I’ve revised it to reasonable satisfaction. Here’s the revised review.

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The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

Based on the popular video game, Angry Birds, comes the hilarious animated movie version, which spawned a sequel in 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie (2016) is about an island of flightless birds who have their own guardian, the Eagle (Peter Dinkage). Three little and not so little, but extraordinarily cute, juvenile-esque birds – Red, Chuck and Bomb – call on the Eagle when their island is visited by suspicious green pigs.

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The Elephant Man (1980)

The severity of John Merrick’s disfigurement is confrontational to our worst sense and the cold street life of poverty in Victorian England, where the film is set, distancing and aloof from his plight.

One feels quite separated from the film, much like the distance one may feel from Merrick, but that the better response is not repulsion, but compassion, so one can be inside the story of “The Elephant Man”.

The Elephant Man (1980) is about dignity. Dignity for those who are, through no fault of their own, impaired, but get ridiculed and oppressed.

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Top Hat (1935)

After seeing Top Hat again, I’ve concluded that there’s been a tendency in Hollywood romantic films to make the fiancé, who’s usually a good bloke, look silly or inadequate. The “new flame”, though, is a dashing handsome rival who’s got more than the goods on the lady’s pathetically portrayed fiancé. In the Astaire-Rogers musical Top Hat (1935), Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) slowly dances his way into the heart of Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers)—which may be innocent enough, if it weren’t for the presence of the fiancé. Unfortunately, it’s all another Hollywood glossed,

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The Band Wagon (1953)

An ode to show business about a washed-up movie actor and dancer (played by Fred Astaire) who is seeking a comeback in a new show about Faust. The kind of show is against his instincts, but he is persuaded to star in. However, it is a musical which doesn’t have much popular appeal, so the producers decide to make the show more appealing with several upbeat routines. The Band Wagon is not so much a strong narrative as showmanship. It fails to impress when it relegates Faust—portrayed in this as a story about temptation and damnation—to the too hard basket, instead favouring the comforts found in escapism. Although this is about the merits of entertainment, it is not so much of an exciting musical, but about a minute of “Girl Hunt”—by far the best segment—stands out.

2 stars out of 5 stars

E.T. (1982)

This neat fantasy, set in an American town, is a famous film directed by Steven Spielberg, that ended his golden period, that started with Jaws in 1975, and in 1984 was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which didn’t quite live up to expectations. The film E.T. is on one level quite ordinary, an accurate observation of childhood down to the minute details. Children of a separated mother get on with life as best they can, when something extraordinary happens to change their lives, the appearance of an extra-terrestrial life form on their “doorstep”,

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Dinner at Eight (1933)

A witty comedy about posh New York society where a string of ambitious individuals are invited to attend a dinner at the home of a wealthy businessman who’s dying, as the guests have their eye on moving on up, and making the right impression, yet the tone is quite ironic, and the emptiness of their lives is hinted at. Yet the characters are not at all dislikeable. Perhaps this one echoes the gospel maxim that life does not consist of one’s possessions, and aiming to get wealthy is a pitfall, although I am not quite sure if that was the intention. Despite one pre-Hays Code concern, Dinner at Eight has a cast of brilliant performances throughout, the dialogue and scenes are more than well handled and for a very stage-liked production it’s not all noticeable, superbly directed. A sheer delight.

5 out of 5 stars

A Night at the Opera (1935)

It’s a comedy farce that makes a sly comment about the lacks in capitalism at a philosophical and practical level, through situational comedy and wisecracks. It’s also got interludes of entertaining music and singing. I found it barely amusing, mostly unfunny, and uneven in its distribution of amusements, although the Marx Brothers are likeable enough but don’t quite make up for it.

2 stars out of 5 stars