Rob Roy (1995) Film Review


Rob Roy MacGregor (Liam Neeson) is the head of a clan in 1712, Scotland, living in idyllic happiness with his wife, Mary (Jessica Lange) and their sons. But he is at the whim of the powerful classes, most notably English Lord Montrose (John Hurt), his manservant Killearn (Brian Cox) and the evil Cunningham (Tim Roth). MacGregor needs to find a way to retain his honour in the face of adversity.

It came out in 1995, the same year as Braveheart, and there are clearly a lot of similarities. I love it, even though I question the lack of Scottish actors (especially with a few of the very dodgy accents), though certainly the main cast is extremely strong and drive the story. Revisiting this was extremely interesting, and what I noted the most was the extremely strong script – often, entire conversations, entire moods and conflicts were summed with one perfect line. Wonderful. I am unsure on the historical accuracy, but it is a fantastic film.

Rob Roy was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tim Roth).


Reservoir Dogs (1992) Film Review

Reservoir dogs

A group of criminals are brought together for a jewelry heist, but things go badly. That’s pretty much the whole plot of the film, but there is much more to it than that. There is the coming together of the criminals, each given the name of a colour to avoid sharing personal information. There is the revelation of an undercover cop in the group. There is the slow bleeding out of one of the criminals as they wait, after the event, to see who survived. All told in though a combination of flashbacks interjected into the story.

It was considered revolutionary at the time; the clear voice of a new auteur, a bright new star on the Hollywood scene; Quentin Tarantino. How true; Tarantino quickly became known for his witty dialogue and extreme violence. Looking back on this, twenty years after its release, it mostly holds up. The script is good, although I always found some of the key scenes (the pancake house in particular) pretty annoying. My one criticism is that the acting is generally quite clunky, and I think that is thanks to the lack of experience of Tarantino at the time. I’d actually love to see him remake it now to see if the way he directs the actors would be any different.


Arbitrage (2012) Film Review


Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a very rich businessman. He’s just turned 60, has a lovely family and seems to have it all. But, of course, it is not all it seems. He is having an affair and the family business that he is trying to sell is in a poor financial state. Then, when attempting to sneak away for a romantic weekend with his mistress, he has a car accident and she is killed. He flees the scene and hopes to get away with it. Then Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) appears and things heat up for Miller.

This film is really half a film. There’s nothing all that new about the plot – someone very wealthy is in legal trouble and has to do things to get out of it. Just when it looks like he is stuck, he wriggles out of it.  But then, surely, the rules say that there needs to be another conflict, or another problem. The film just didn’t quite work. It just didn’t bring what was needed to the table. Though I must say, Richard Gere was fabulous.

Richard Gere was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture.

Broken (2012) MIFF Film Review



Bloody hell, this film nearly killed me. It is amazing, absolutely amazing, but awful, absolutely awful. Why do only bad things happen? Why indeed?

Skunk is eleven and lives in North London with her father, brother and au pair. Things are pretty good. She’s on school holidays and spends her days hanging out and being a kid. Then really bad stuff starts happening all over the place. I can’t recount it, as I think I am too traumatised. But it was stunning.

The performances are fabulous on all counts, from Tim Roth and Cellian Murphy right down to the kooky twins on the scooters. Eloise Laurence is absolutely amazing as Skunk, and I cannot wait to see what she does in the future.

If you don’t mind being mentally bashed by a film, I’d highly recommend Broken. Apart from all of the awful things, it is gorgeous and funny and really sweet.

The Incredible Hulk (2011) Film Review


In my attempt to see all the Marvel films leading up the Avengers from last year, I’ve watched The Incredible Hulk. This one’s the one with Edward Norton and Tim Roth. Unfortunately, even such strong acting talent could not save this film for me.

Luckily, the origin of the Hulk is covered in a very impressive opening sequence, where we see Doctor Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk, causing a whole heap of damage and fleeing. We then join him in Brazil, where he is practicing a series of methods to control his anger and his pulse rate to avoid releasing the hulk. Along comes General Ross (William Hurt) an army general who has recruited Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to bring Bruce Banner in so they can use the technology to create super-soldiers. Ross gives Blonksy a treatment which causes him to start to become a monster – and eventually, a truly evil threat to humanity.

I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I should. Perhaps it was because Mark Ruffalo was so perfect as Bruce Banner in The Avengers, that Edward Norton didn’t cut it for me. About halfway through, I was disappointed at the lack of appearance by the Hulk. When it was clear that the film would end with a battle between the Hulk and the monster that comes from Emil Blonsky. But even this ridiculous fight didn’t do it for me. I got bored. Bring on more Iron Man and Avengers films, but don’t bother with another Hulk. Or make it better. Although it was delightful to have the briefest appearance of Robert Downey Jr at the end. That was nice.