An American Werewolf in London (1981) Film Review


I saw this when I was far too young to have seen it and have had nightmares ever since. So, I’ve avoided it for a long time. But I am so glad now that I took the time to watch it.

Essentially, two Americans are travelling in the North of England, across the moors, when they are attacked by a werewolf. One, Jack (Griffin Dunne) is killed, the other, David (David Naughton) wakes up in a London hospital being treated by a sexy nurse, Alex (Jenny Agutter). But it just doesn’t go well… as it says in the title.

I got great the delight from spotting a very young Rik Mayall in early scenes, acting his young heart out. I thought it was a fantastic film – not so much of the horror, a lot more of the funny. The bit that I remember scaring me – the first time David changes – is still tormenting, but more because I get it now, the pain that he is going through. But my favourite but are all the moments with Jack – a dead man with excellent makeup who comes back to haunt David. Funny and ace.

An American Werewolf in London won an Oscar for Best Makeup.


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Sione’s 2 : Unfinished Business (2012) Film Review


After Sione’s Wedding, the boys seemed to have got themselves together. They had girlfriends and a life. And then, suddenly, Sione (Pua Magasiva) drops dead after being hit on the head with a basketball – though it was an aneurysm, nothing related to the hit. But Bolo (David Fane) who threw the ball has disappeared and the boys think he may be suicidal.

Michael (Robbie Magasiva) has returned from Australia, Albert (Oscar Kightley) is taking a moment from attempting to get his wife pregnant, Sefa (Shimpal Leilisi) is trying to figure out why his girlfriend is so happy, and Stanley (Iaheto Ah Hi) is tied up with a new religion. They need to find Bolo and then discover Sione’s secrets.

I really enjoyed Sione’s Wedding, but I liked this more. Sure, there were still a lot of issues around the representation of women, but it is mostly the men who are left looking like the fools. You know what I’d love to see? I’d love to see what would happen if these guys put together a film that had fabulous female characters in decent roles. Come on, guys, give it a go.


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Sione’s Wedding (2006) Film Review


Sione (Pua Magasiva) is getting married, but due to a series of wedding misadventures, his brother and three mates are banned – unless they get girlfriends. Not just dates, serious girlfriends. There’s Michael (Robbie Magasiva), a womaniser who prefers the Caucasian ladies, but none of his regular dates really take him seriously. Stanley (Oscar Kightley), who is a bit shy around the ladies and cannot see a good thing when it is right in front of him. Stanley (Iaheto Ah Hi), who is obsessed with a voice on a dating party line. And finally, Sefa (Shimpal Lelisi) who is in a long-term relationship that he takes far less seriously than his love of the drink. How can they ever get to Sione’s wedding?

It’s a sweet film. Fun, light-hearted, gentle and funny. It’s not the best representation of women, but it is just the fact that these guys are so hopeless at interacting with women that brings the humour… and the joke is on them.

It would have been nice to have had a woman or two in the film who were not ideals put on a pedestal, but we can’t have it all, can we? Ah it’s fun. Enjoy it for what it is.


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Crash (2004) Film Review


A whole bunch of people of a variety of different nationalities are living their lives, going about things as they do. But then someone is racist toward them, or they are racist toward someone else, it’s just racism and racism and racism. And, I think, the point is that everyone can be racist, and no-one likes it when someone is racist toward them.

Okay, way over simplified, but there are a lot of stories, and some of them are really awful (actually, most of them are really awful in some way or another). And by awful, I mean tragic, not cheesy and bad. But since it won the Oscar, there has been a lot of backlash for it being an over-simplification of the issue of race. I don’t know, I just think that it is not a great film. It’s got far too much going on, it has all of these events addressed on a really shallow level, and surely what we want from a film about race and racism is some depth? And then there is the soundtrack… continual, overbearing, and very annoying. And it gave the sense for a very long time of the film ending, but then it never ended. At least, it felt like it never ended. Possibly, with better editing and the soundtrack removed altogether, it could have been an okay film. Maybe. The soundtrack just made me really, really angry.

Crash won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco) and Best Achievement in Film Editing, and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Matt Dillon), Best Achievement in Directing (Paul Haggis) and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (In the Deep).


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A Clockwork Orange vs A Clockwork Orange


A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Alex is a teenage thug in a future world. He and his gang drink and take drugs and go out to attack and rape whoever they can. But his gang are sick of him taking control and set him up to be sent to prison. After two years in prison, he ends up in an experimental program that uses a combination of drugs and extremely violent footage to bring about waves of extreme nausea, stopping any ability for the offender to re-offend. However, thrown back out into society, Alex is lost and vulnerable to those who, justifiably, want to harm him.

It’s a tough read because Alex, who narrates the books, uses a lot of ‘Nadsat’ terms – that is, a made up teenage talk. There is a glossary at the end of the book, but I battled through without it as I was reading it on a Kindle. Generally, it wasn’t hard to figure out what he meant, but it did require some work. The use of nadsat distanced me from a lot of the violence, I think, although I remember some of the images from watching the movie many years ago. What I found most interesting, and it will take a re-watching of the film to confirm this, but I suspect was left off the film, and that was the final chapter. This suggests that the only cure to this thuggery is time and age, and I imagine if this is how it was read, it would have been hugely controversial as it is almost allowing their behavior.


A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Indeed, it seems that the last chapter of the book is not addressed in the film, but there is certainly enough sex and violence in this film to make it challenging – at lease, in the early seventies. I recall that even the director of the film, Stanley Kubrick, had some issue with it. A quick and not at all thorough bit of research revealed that Kubrick’s issue came after several copycat crimes occurred and he received death threats. He was able to pull the release of the film in the UK but it still received Oscar nominations.

The violence in the film is so melodramatic that now it comes across as almost comical, which probably says an awful lot about how graphic depictions of violence, including rape, are nowadays. I’d say it is still an extremely good film that makes very interesting points on culture and punishment, but I cannot imagine it having the type of impact that it would have upon release almost forty-five years ago.

A Clockwork Orange was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Stanley Kubrick), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Stanley Kubrick) and Best Film Editing.

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Silence of the Lambs (1991) Film Review


Detective Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is about to graduate into the FBI but is targeted by her boss to talk to Hannibal the Cannibal (Anthony Hopkins), to gain an insight into the identity of the current killer on the loose, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine).

This is a fabulous film. Yes, the style has dated – especially Agent Clarice Starling’s very big hair. But the film is so intense and compelling, it is very easy to ignore the stylings. I remember watching this at a slumber party in the nineties – there were four of us, two of us had not seen it and the other two (I was one of them) had never seen anything like it. And we screamed and laughed and screamed. I haven’t watched it since, but I recalled so much of it that the impact was lost. Yet, it was still an intense experience.

Silence of the Lambs won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jodie Foster), Best Director (Jonathan Demme) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced of Published (Ted Tally) and was nominated for Best Sound and Best Film Editing.


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Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Film Review


The world has been attacked by smart aliens that can anticipate the every move of people who try to attack it. US Army media spokesman Cage (Tom Cruise) who is fearful of combat, is pushed into battle by the General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) and quickly dies. Only doesn’t actually die – he wakes again the day before and re-lives the same day – again and again, each time ending in death. He ends up finding legendary soldier Rita (Emily Blunt) and discovers that he has a special skill that can help them destroy the aliens. But he will need to die over and over, and watch those around him die, until the problem is solved.

Ace. Funny at times, and so amusing to watch Tom Cruise getting killed over and over again. The character of Cage at the start was just so unlikable and entitled, so it was wonderful to see him go through a whole variety of stages including bewilderment and depression. Watch this. It’s seriously fabulous.


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