bellareview

Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Mr Selfridge (2013)

In feel good, new, period drama, Rant, Review, romantic, series on 14/01/2013 at 7:06 pm

ITV attempted to create lots of flurry around its latest grand period production in an attempt to recreate the rather more accidental success of Downton Abbey. Mr Selfridge however, is destined to fail due to some spectacularly horrendous acting by protagonist Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge, tedious dialogue and an utterly predictable plot.

The drama tells the story of how Harry Selfridge was a visionary noveau capitalist in his time and how his ideas flourished despite being radical and unconventional. Interesting in itself, were it not that the BBC did exactly the same thing (minus the real name) in The Paradise. Even the main characters and how they fit in the story are a crafty copy: Mr Selfridge has exactly the same ideas, doubts and charisma as John Moray in The Paradise, only being more annoying due to the empty dialogue and bad acting. There is the ‘simple’ shop girl with unlikely talents and the same character traits. There’s the story of a wife and a new charming outsider. It’s mostly fluff and flirtation, but no mystery or any sort of magic.

The London setting is lovely though, and the rest of the cast is very capable (a.o. Zoë Tapper, Samuel West, Pippa Haywood) , making Mr Selfridge just about watchable – but nothing more.

Advertisements

Hunted (2012)

In BBC, Crime, new, Rant, Review, series, Spy on 25/11/2012 at 11:56 pm

The BBC has set its standards high when it comes to present-day spy thrillers thanks to a successful decade of Spooks. When Hunted was announced – supposedly by the makers of Spooks – no doubt many of us were anticipating something good. And no doubt, we’re all disappointed.

Hunted tells the story of a young woman spy, Sam Hunter (Melissa George) and her perilous quest to find out who wants her dead. She works for a private agency and neither she nor her colleagues know why or for whom they put their lives on the line daily. They don’t know if they’re killing goodies or baddies. In my view, that’s about as wobbly a plot as anyone can come up with.  Some morals are written in towards the end, but the mere idea that the protagonist, who we’re meant to believe is fighting for justice, doesn’t care about the rest of the world makes her a fundamentally flawed character.

This 8-part drama also has generous blobs of dialogue that are so appalling I feel sorry for the actors made to say the lines. The bit where some dialogue is supposed to be Dutch is, erm, well, hardly recognisable as said language, and the characterisation is overall weak and obvious when it comes to the smaller supporting parts, and melodramatic when it comes to the protagonist (do we really need to see her terrible childhood nightmares in every episode? Does she really always sleep on the floor because of what happened to her mother 20 years ago?). To top all this off – the final episode builds up to this great unwrapping of secrets – and then they don’t unwrap at all and bits are left dangling.

So far I’ve said nothing good about Hunted, yet I’ve watched all of it. Most of what kept me hanging on was the power play within the enemy Jack Turner’s house (very convincingly played by Patrick Malahide), and the tension throughout to see whether Sam would get away with whatever hazardous venture she was undertaking. And it all looks very cool, in a fast-paced spy kind of way.

Hunted was neither written nor directed by the people who made Spooks, so I think we can safely say it has little to nothing to do with it. As for Auntie Beeb, I hope they do better next time they put our money into such a costly production.

 

 

 

Control (2007)

In biopic, film, period drama, Rant, Review on 17/01/2012 at 7:10 pm

This is probably an interesting film for Joy Division fans. Control is a biopic about Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, made by renowned celeb photographer and No.1 Joy Division fan Anton Corbijn. For this reason, photographers will also quite certainly find this interesting. My advice to film lovers however, is to watch something else.

Sure, the cast is great (Samantha Morton, Sam Riley) and every shot looks like something you’d put up on your wall. Control also received some very good reviews and prizes in Cannes. Living members of the band even liked it, although they said most of the film didn’t really happen that way.It’s also in black and white, which makes it very artsy.

Despite all his glory, the fact remains that Control fails because it is essentially two hours of hopeless tedium. What the problem is? Mainly the writing. There is absolutely no suspense (meaning: you don’t give a donkey’s tit what’s going to happen next) and the protagonist isn’t captivating in any way (meaning you don’t give a duck’s wobbly behind if he does end up dead – which he does, but you already knew this because it actually happened). I’m certainly not going to blame it on the very capable cast, but I am going to say the makers obviously cared too much about being artistic (and you and I know that nobody really knows what that is) and they cared too little about telling a story.

Film critics: stop praising independent films for being bloody pretentious (just because you want to come across as an artistic authority). Joy Division fans/photographers: have fun. Everyone else: I suggest Worried About the Boy (2010), an amazing biopic of Boy George which you’ll love even if you never heard of the guy.

 

The Infidel (2010)

In film, political, Rant, Review on 13/08/2011 at 11:36 pm

This supposed comedy’s story sounds intriguing: A very moderate English Muslim has a son who wants to marry a girl with an extremist Muslim stepfather – and then he finds out he was adopted as a baby and is actually Jewish. For some reason, it got praising reviews all round, while this is one of the most disappointing and mediocre British productions I’ve seen in ages.

The plot sticks to the typical Hollywood curve (all the foreseeable obstacles and the obvious happy ending) so strictly that it becomes utterly predictable – which consequently makes it humourless too. The writing is too simplified and over-explanatory to be even mildly funny and the acting is generally mediocre. Because of the lack of laughs and the bad lines, all the drama becomes highly melodramatic (i.e. making you think: FFS, what’s all the bloody fuss about?). On top of all this, the Muslim and Jewish clichés are exaggerated in way that it makes me as a non-religious viewer feel stupid. Imagine what that makes someone of either faith feel like.

Yes, I’m ranting, I know. The only reason for this exception on my blog is that I believe it should’ve never received the credit it did. To say one nice thing about it: I liked the dancy bit at the end (albeit another big fat cliché). Oh, and it could be good for educational purposes, enhancing understanding amongst cultures and all that. Still doesn’t make it a good film, mind.