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All reviews - Movies (4) - TV Shows (1)

Field of Dreams (1989) review

Posted : 6 years ago on 12 July 2012 11:06 (A review of Field of Dreams (1989))

`And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?` `doc graham`

To call this movie magical may seem redundant,but never has a movie so encapsulated the feelings of hope,nostalgia and yes magic,as perfectly as this.

the plot,which revolves around iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hearing voices telling him to build a baseball diamond where his cornfields are,could have been so much hokum in the hands of a lesser director and cast.

yet with everybody involved delivering career best performances,it is instead,a movie which grabs your heart from the first minute and will remain there forever,yes,its that good!

director Phil Alden Robinson creates an atmosphere of mystery yet never loses sight of the humour and emotional depth which propels the story to its heartwarming,yet never cloying,climax.

kevin costner stars as ray kinsella and has never been more likeable.he exudes star quality and shows the kind of warmth which is sadly lacking in many of his later movies.the highest praise i can give him is to say that not even the great jimmy stewart or spencer tracy could hold a candle to this performance.

the supporting cast,from amy madigan to ray liotta to the irrepressible james earl jones are all uniformly superb.not a single wrong note from anybody which showed in the movies rightful nomination for best picture of 1989.

But the highest praise goes to one of the great hollywood stars of the past. Burt Lancaster was in his late 70s when he payed the role of doc `moonlight` graham,yet in only 2 scenes,walked away with the movie. his performance is breathtaking,heartbreaking and yet embued with such passion and sincerity that every second he is on screen,is a priviledge to see.

i asked the question at the start of this review,now my answer is this...

.hopefully there is, because without our dreams,we are nothing...and dont we all need a little magic now and then?

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Seinfeld review

Posted : 6 years ago on 12 July 2012 11:01 (A review of Seinfeld)

Created in 1990 by stand up comedian jerry seinfeld and his best friend larry david,this show had an inauspicious beginning.

Originally commisioned for only 4 episodes,yes 4! ,the show began life as The Seinfeld Chronicles.It centres around the everyday life of a stand up comic called Jerry Seinfeld and his best friend George Costanza.

Now this doesnt sound special at all yet this show would grow from such humble beginnings to become the biggest sitcom in US tv history. it broke every rule that sitcoms followed and regularly featured taboo subjects such as masturbation,naziism,sexismhomophobia and of course getting `it`out on the first date.

The first episode is barely even a glimpse of what was to come as it struggled to break the confines of the regular sitcom ouvre.

However,the introduction of a female counterpart Elaine Benes in the 2nd episode showed this show had balls.She was a force of nature from the start.An equal to the men in every sense.

She may have been Jerrys ex but this was never going to be a will they/wont they show.

Elaine was as big a loser,as selfish and hell,as funny as the guys.The sparring between Elaine and Jerry was like tracy and hepburn at their peak.Here was a couple who should never have been together in the first place and once that was established,thoughts of them getting together disappeared and opened up the doors for a variety of stories and situations that other shows could only dream of.

The template for the show was always `No hugging,no learning` and it never deviated from its goal. Yes,people could learn from Seinfeld,but it wasnt learning in a cozy,cosby show,golden girls way. Seinfeld showed the truth of the human condition,that man is inherently selfish but it managed to do it in such a way that you still rooted for the characters because deep down,you knew you were that guy.

No character summed this up quite as well as George. Blatantly and admittedly based on Larry David himself,George is a monster of a man. A seemingly born loser who wanted nothing more than an easy life,then raged against the notion that he had to work to help him on his way.Yet the strength of the writing made George strangely likeable,supremely funny and instantly relatable.Who amongst us hasnt lied and schemed to get what we want,then instantly regretted it and lied and schemed to get out of it? That is the genius of george,his motto being...`its not a lie if you believe it`.

It is well known that Larry David used people and situations from his own life for stories and no person had a bigger role than his next door neighbour Kenny Kramer.

David brought in his old friend Michael Richards for the role. A tall,gangly,dishevelled hulk of a man,Richards was a comedy actor of no mean talent.but it was his gift for physical comedy that elevated Kramer to the giddy heights he reached. Just by opening a door,he could leave you in stitches.

Initially, he struggled to get to grips with the character,playing him as a homage to christopher lloyds tour de force in Taxi yet he quickly saw the limitations he was confining himself in and began to unleash the full range of skills at his disposal.

Kramer,despite being a total oddity,was also in effect,the closest thing the show had to a heart. he may have been a scrounger and a drifter but he was always there to help out the others in their ludicrous schemes.

This leads us to the leader of this motley crew,Jerry Seinfeld himself,because thats who he actually played,himself.

Jerry in effect had the most difficult role.He was the star of the whole show and it lived or died by his performance.Its huge credit to him that he wasnt swept aside by the sheer magnitude of the task,not only starring but also co writing and producing the show,as well as competing with the huge performances of his more accomplished co stars.

The true genius of the show was that while it may have been called Seinfeld,it was never a one man show.Jerry and Larry both knew that to succeed,the 4 leads all had to be equal and above all,they had to be real. We all know a George or a Kramer,we all have struggled to get out of the rut we felt like Elaine and we all feel like the leaders in our own little sitcom called life.

Seinfeld wasnt about learning,it was about living life as we see it.

It wasnt about hugging because how often do you do that in your real life?

It was as it said on the label `The show about nothing`. Life is full of nothings but thats what makes it fun.Its what you do with all those nothings that make up your day,your week,your life.

Seinfeld knew that and ran with it,taking the simple sitcom to heights it never knew it could reach. A truly groundbreaking,game changing, juggernaut of a show. Its influence is seen in every successful sitcom which came after. Seinfeld was a once in a lifetime show...thank god it was my lifetime.

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A Few Good Men review

Posted : 6 years ago on 12 July 2012 10:57 (A review of A Few Good Men)

Based on Aaron Sorkins stageplay of the same name, Rob Reiners star studded military courtroom drama is,in this reviewers humble opinion, the gold standard in screen acting and writing.

Tom Cruise plays Army lawyer Daniel Kaffee,a brilliant lawyer with a penchant for plea bargains.a lawyer so willing to make deals that he has never even seen inside a courtroom!

Kaffee is assigned to defend 2 marines,accused of the murder of another marine,private william santiago. helping/bullying him into taking the case seriously is naval investigator Joanne Galloway (Demi Moore). Kaffee soon starts to suspect that the murder was in fact a `code red`,essentially an unofficial order of retribution.

To win the case,Kaffee must not only have to prove the code red but also lock horns with the formidable and powerful Colonel Nathan Jessup, an absolutely barnstorming performance by Jack Nicholson.

The investigation leads to the now classic courtroom battle between Cruise and Nicholson,but i will get back to that,all in good time.

The movie is a tour de force from start to finish.the script absolutely sizzles with tension,drama and humour.The naturalness of the dialogue is a joy to hear. the characters may be stereotypes to some effect yet they seem fresh,they seem real.

Rob Reiner,who was on an incredible run which showed his almost unique gift for any genre with movie classics such as Stand By Me,When Harry Met Sally,The Princess Bride and Misery managed to surpass all of those achievements.

Here he delivers a movie which positively crackles with energy. Every scene grabs your attention,yet this is not a movie for directorial showboating,Reiner just does what the true greats should do.He allows the story to be the star.

Of course, we now come to the actual stars of the movie,and my god,what a cast it is.

Cruise,Nicholson,Moore,Bacon,Sutherland,Pollack.it just doesnt get better than this. Even in reasonably small roles,Bacon and Sutherland have to my mind,never been better.Bacon as the prosecution lawyer who has a job to do even if he doesnt like it and Sutherland as a biblebashing,fanatical marine,deliver terrific support.

Demi Moore,never the worlds best actress,more than holds her own,partially through sheer star presence which is saying something considering the 2 legends she was alongside.

Which brings us to Jack. The sheer brilliance of his performance almost takes your breath away.every second on screen,and it isnt as many as it seems,is cinematic gold. He doesnt chew the scenery like a pacino may have done,instead,he is calm,quiet,yet menacing and then explosive in his showdown with Tom Cruise.And what a showdown it is.A true battle of wills and a fascinating clash of the cream of 2 different generations of hollywood legends.

nicholsons speech is as fine a piece of acting as you will ever see and yet,and yet!!

Tom Cruise is without any doubt,better than he has ever been.he is natural,funny,intense,charismatic,.hell he is simply as good in this movie as ive ever seen from anyone. He goes toe to toe with an acting master and matches him blow for blow. For my money,its the greatest lead performance ive seen.

To think he wasnt even nominated for an oscar in a year which saw al pacino get the most obvious sympathy oscar ever given is an absolute travesty.

its a multi layered performance in a multi layered movie,a movie which bears repeat viewing after repeat viewing.its frankly the last great hollywood courtroom drama.This defined my taste in cinema. it showed me just what real star power was,it showed me what acting should be and it opened my eyes to the fact that story is above everything.

and whether you can handle it or not...that my friends is the truth.

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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy review

Posted : 6 years ago on 12 July 2012 10:51 (A review of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)

by Peter Allen on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 11:54pm ·

This is the greatest comedy ever made, and if you dont agree with me...i will fight you!

Made in 2004, Anchorman is Will Ferrells seriuos attempt to show how sexism barriers were eventually broken down in the largely male dominated workplace, in this instance,the world of the tv newsroom.

it carefully deconstructs the macho posturing of self important,preening mysoginists and their neanderthal views of womans place in the world. in plain english, this is a movie about diversity in the workplace. diversity of course, being an old,old wooden ship used in the ciil war era...

lets be truthful, Anchorman is in fact none of the above. what it is,is genius writing coupled with some of the best improv actors in the business which provides 91minutes of pure comedic gold every step of the way. Every scene provides a laugh,every line spoken with such absurd sincerity.

i have lost count of how many times i have quoted this movie in my actual life,whether it be paraphrasing `Fuck you san diego`, telling anyone who will listen that `milk was a bad choice` or just thinking how much `i love lamp`.the movie is an endless stream of quotable lines.

the performances are the gold standard which all comedy should aspire to. Paul Rudd stepped into the limelight after years of excellent support turns and made hollywood sit up and take notice as brian fantana, a reporter so obsessed with how he looks that he even names his testes.

Steve Carell as Brick is a revelation.this coming after his performance as,coincidentally,an anchorman in Bruce Almighty quickly established him as the rising star of american comedy.

David Koechner as Champ Kind delivers a WHAMMY!! of a performance.it could so easily have been a one note role,yet he plays it to perfection.his reaction to rons blossoming romance with veronica,while funny as hell and extraordinarily gay...is also heartbreaking.

Christina Applegate brings real class to the role of Veronica Corningstone. she never yields to the putdowns which her character initially endures and shows herself to be a comedienne of real quality, culminating in a truly hilarious tit for tat bitchfight with ron as the news credits are rolling.

lastly, we have Wil Ferrell.His performance is timeless. if there was any justice, the oscar would have come his way. this may not be typical oscar fare but at some point,hopefully the academy will realize the skill that goes into a performance of this magnitude. His Ron Burgundy is a grotesque yet spectacular creation. Ferrell plays it completely straight and delivers the finest comedy performance ive ever seen. note perfect in every moment he is on screen.this is the perfect alchemy of actor and role.

i cant speak highly enough of this movie.it is without doubt a classic and one of the few movies which gets better and better with each viewing. 60% of the time it works everytime!

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The Avengers review

Posted : 6 years ago on 12 July 2012 10:49 (A review of The Avengers)

the avengers reviewed.
by Peter Allen on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:02pm ·

Today I saw the movie I had been waiting to see since I was a small kid reading about the exploits of marvels greatest team of superheroes.

The hype for this,movie was incredible and it seemed impossible that it would be able to meet the expectations of fanboys worldwide. The good news is...it does. The better news is that it surpasses those expectations and does so without any pretensions to being other than it is.(I'm looking at you dark knight).

Joss whedon has managed the task of fitting in 7,yes 7,of marvels major players and crafting a movie where everybody gets a chance to shine.

Robert downey Jr excels once again as tony stark/iron man and gets most of the best lines.Chris Evans exudes authority as captain America,a man out of his time and yet a man who anyone would follow despite seemingly overwhelming odds.Chris hemsworth and Tom hiddleston show the same passion and flair they displayed to such great effect in Thor.hemsworth is a true star in the making while loki is simply the best screen villain I've ever seen. Hiddlestons eyes burn into your soul as he takes delight in the death and havoc he creates. Jeremy renner brings the character of hawkeye to life,particularly in the 2nd half of the movie.he shows a real flair for hawks trademark quips and handles the action scenes magnificently.

The 2 standouts tho,are Mark ruffalo,who's Bruce banner is easily the best interpretation of the role to date and who's hulk is breathtaking to behold. Everytime he's on screen you just yearn for more and more. He also gets the films 2 funniest scenes at the expense of a couple of asgardian gods :). His fight with loki is one of cinemas great moments.

Lastly we have scarlett johanssen as black widow. The true surprise of the movie,she is everything the character should be.smart,sexy,agile and cunning.the look in her face when face to face with an angry banner is superb. She has come in for a lot of criticism after the lackluster iron man 2 but here,the weakest link in the line up becomes its strongest part. She is sensational from start to finish.

The movie never let's up.it has action like Michael bay could only dream of.comedy of the highest order and one moment which i won't reveal here which actually brought tears to my eyes as the avengers are shown true heroism and truly become one team.

I can't recommend this movie highly enough. Spidey and the dark knight have a lot to live up to now and frankly, it sets the bar to such a level that only the avengers 2 could probably approach it. Spectacular,tremendous,amazing.the superlatives just don't do it justice. After a lifetime of waiting, I finally saw the Avengers Assemble and man it was worth the wait!!

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