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Oxford Murders [Blu-ray] [Import]

 R (Restricted)   Blu-ray
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Math and murder May 1 2011
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Murders are committed for love, money, hatred, justice or revenge -- but not usually as an intellectual exercise. Yet Álex de la Iglesia approaches such a string of deaths in "The Oxford Murders," adapted from mathematician Guillermo Martinez's novel. Elijah Wood and William Hurt have magnificent chemistry and give excellent performances, but the script has a lot of flab.

Martin (Wood) is a young American student at Oxford who is writing his thesis; he hopes to have the famous mathematician Arthur Seldom (John Hurt) advise him... only to have his hopes dashed.

But when Seldom visits the house where he is boarding, the two men find Martin's landlady dead -- and while at first it appears to be natural causes, the police discover that she was murdered. And when Seldom reveals that he was sent a strange message warning him about the murder, he and Martin begin speculating that they're dealing with an "intellectual serial killer."

At the same time, Martin finds himself in an odd love triangle between his landlady's neurotic daughter (Julie Cox) and a sexy Spanish nurse (Leonor Watling). But his mind is fixed on unraveling the pattern that may lead him and Seldom to the murderer -- and the greatest puzzle is one that no one may be able to figure out.

Pythagorus, the principle of uncertainty, sequential math and mathematical order versus chaos. "The Oxford Murders" feels a bit like a mathematical episode of "Masterpiece Theatre" -- vast venerable colleges, the tangled motives, and some seemingly impossible murders.And the idea of murder warnings based on sequential mathematics is a fascinating one...

... which becomes a problem, because we end up with endless, pompous discussions about truth, reality and philosophy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting twist on a standard muder mystery Dec 31 2010
By Marcia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
It's easier to tell you what this movie is not. It is not an action crime drama, but you probably expected that since it's set in Oxford university, England. It's not an Agatha Christie murder where all the possible murderers are introduced at the beginning and at the end the how done it reveals the who done it. It is however, a standard plot line used in many mysteries where it's either the first or the last person you would expect to be the killer. What's fascinating is the subplot of the murderer being a"fan" (the detective suggests the murderer loves the philosophy professor (John Hurt) and the intricacies of the red herrings created by John Hurt, a great British actor who carried the movie)

The red herrings are all tied up in the philosophical idea of "can we ever know the truth?", but then it is set in Oxford. The young man who worships the professor is a mathemetician. This creates interesting notions of mathematicas as the only knowable truth or is it? So what's philosophy and mathematics have to do with murder? That's the interesting red herrings. It is titled Oxford Murders. Is there a serial killer on the loose in Oxford? How important is the professor's formula for murder? In the end it turns out to be a rather simplistic murder mystery with all the clues on any other murder mystery and of course, we meet the killer or is it killers?

If you are a fan of John Hurt this is for you. If you are a mathemetician this is for you. If you like British mysteries this is for you. If you like complicated subplots there here. Unfortunately, I wouldn't buy it because once the how done it is presented and the who done it is revealed all the excess mathematical formulas and philosophical propositions melt away and the viewer is left with a formula mystery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well balances mystery about unbalanced murder Oct. 23 2010
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
This is a great film to add to your collection of mysteries. It is up there with Christy and Sayers. All the elements are there and blend well.

The actors are well chosen to match the characters and the acting is bang on. The sets were perfect and not distracting from the story.

There are several approaches one can take while telling a story. One is like Tony Hillerman who usually has two parallel stories that have characters periodically crossing each other and may not converge in the end. The other is the worlds within worlds approach as with the book "Sophie's World" or the film "The Thirtieth Floor" (1999). This story was more standard mystery with the usual suspects that all could be guilty. All the clues are there and the butler does not come out of the closet just before the end. Yet in the end, we get not one twist but a series of plausible twists. Leave it to a Mathematician.

In the film we get a statement "I believe in Pi" this give away the armatureness of the math section of the film as everyone in industry knows the ' Pi (~.7854816) is the formula to convert form one geometric figure to another look it up. You do not need a calculator if you remember 7854 in your head.

The story starts with a famous woman being murdered, no doubt, about it, two people find the body and a mysterious mathematical clue points to possible future murders. Can the clues be deciphered using a mathematically attitude and future murders prevented; or will we have to rely on good old-fashioned detective skills?

Be sure to watch again to see what clues you may have missed.
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Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  173 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oxford is a Dangerous Place July 29 2012
By David Bower - Published on Amazon.com
I wonder what people who actually live in Oxford think of all the murderous activity associated with that locale in British detective mysteries? Oxford would have to rank right up there with St. Mary Mead and Midsomer as being among the most dangerous places to live in all of England.

Once again murderous forces are at work in Oxford but this time seems to focus on mathematics and mathematicians. The story is well crafted and held my attention all the way through. The acting is good and involves the viewer in the activities and emotions of the characters although it was not easy to identify with any of them. The major roles are well done with Elijah Wood as the graduate student, John Hurt as the famous professor, Leonor Watling as the significant female interest, Julie Cox as the frustrated female interest, and Jim Carter as the determined police inspector.

The scenery and settings do a great job of enhancing the mood of the movie and all work together to create an entertaining evening's viewing. There is some partial nudity and bedroom activity which limits it to adult audiences. This one is not for children. All told it is a well done British mystery.
35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You Can Cut this Class Oct. 30 2010
By R. Schultz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
It's a snobbish cliché to pronounce the book on which any film material was based as being much better than the film. But in this case, I'm not trying to demonstrate my literacy with the recommendation. It's my sincere opinion.

This movie just doesn't make the grade. It graduates from the merely pedantic to the completely far-fetched. Like the book, it posits a serial killer who is playing abstruse mathematical games with Professor Seldom and his protégé at Oxford's Mathematical Institute. However, the film throws in all sorts of extra glancing mathematical references - to Fermat's Last Theorem, to Fibonacci's series, and to chaos theory. A lot of these references don't exist in the book or else are more integral aspects of the book. So the movie is like a Koosh ball, sprouting all sorts of alien little rubbery protrusions that make it briefly tantalizing, but that ultimately just cause it to come off as silly.

The movie reminds me of Tom Stoppard's play "Arcadia." While that play was acclaimed, when you thought about it logically, you realized that all its talk about chaos theory was completely adventitious and unnecessary.

There are other problems with this movie. Scenes that were treated more realistically in the book become grotesqueries in the movie. The film tries to combine the most garish elements of "The DaVinci Code," a CSI episode, and "The Zodiac Killer."

Whereas in the book, the protagonist's Russian roommate is just a normal person, in the movie he is portrayed by an actor who inexplicably chews up the scenery like a rabid dog. In the book, Seldom's former eccentric, obsessed colleague is indeed a hopeless case in the extended care ward of a hospital; but in the movie the man is presented as a shocking mutilation of a figure. In the book, Seldom is an average-looking 50-year-old professor; in the movie he is played by John Hurt whose already world-weary face is photographed as ravaged superannuation. The book's brief, innocent sex scenes become rawly carnal in the film. In the book, inappropriate romances that are barely suggested or suspected are made explicit and decisive in the film. The film also adds a further twist ending to the solution of the murders that is sort of interesting and integrating, but that ultimately makes a triangle with 190 degrees of all the antecedent action.

Not that the book is perfect. Author Guillermo Martinez failed to adequately explain a key puzzle and carelessly leaves some dangling plot points. But the book is more satisfyingly grounded than this hodgepodge of a film. This is one class you should definitely cut.
32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Implausibility of Pure Truth Aug. 18 2010
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Argentinean writer Guillermo Martinez has a PhD in Mathematical Logic in Buenos Aires and studied at the Mathematical Institute at Oxford University and these facts may explain the sophisticated subject matter of his novel ' novel THE OXFORD MURDERS ('Crímenes imperceptibles'), now adapted for the screen by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Álex de la Iglesia, who also directed the film. It is a cerebral exercise in logic and mathematical theory in addition to being a clever murder mystery heavily bent toward the thinking viewer.

Martin (Elijah Wood) arrives at Oxford form his trailer house home in Arizona to study with the brilliant mathematics professor Arthur Seldom (John Hurt). He brings little with him as he settles in with roommate Yuri Podorov (Burn Gorman) who clearly has a loathing for Seldom and for all of the great minds that have apparently stolen his solution for a theory. His elderly and physically impaired landlady Mrs. Eagleton (Anna Massey), who worked on the infamous Enigma Code that saved England in WW II, warmly accepts Martin into her home, introduces him to her daughter Beth (Julie Cox) who makes it clear that the old lady is preventing Beth from having the life of a free person, a cellist who wants more from life than confinement as a caregiver. Martin discovers that Seldom is not available to take on new postgrad students, and Martin challenges Seldom in a large classroom as Seldom is declaring Ludwig Wittgenstein's theory that there is no real truth. That challenge begins a bond between the two and when they individually meet at Mrs. Eagleton's home and find her murdered, Seldom shares a strange note left in his mailbox indicating the murder is the first of a series linked by a mysterious pattern. This new clue introduces the possibility of a code-guided threat of a serial killer and indeed more murders occur, each victim on the surface appearing to die of natural causes, but each paired with a message bearing a new arcane symbol. Seldom and Martin work together to break the code and to discover whether the deaths are innocent or the subtle, "imperceptible" homicides of a psychotic killer seeking to match wits with the great logician. They work with the policeman Inspector Petersen (Jim Carter) and the hunt is on. There are plenty of sidebars to lead them astray - both from the truth of the code and from personal needs: Martin becomes physically involved with Lorna (Leonor Watling) who has been Seldom's girlfriend in the past, and with Beth to no great end, and Seldom finds a suspicious father of a child in need of lung transplants. The ending of the story is completely surprising - another code we have failed to break in the course of this intellectual thriller.

Elijah Wood and John Hurt have superb screen chemistry and maintain our interest and concern throughout the film. At times the references to theories of Gödel, Heisenberg, and Wittgenstein are discussed so rapidly that the information, so pertinent to the story, is difficult to follow. This is a thinking person's movie, but very much well worth the effort as the performances and developments of the story are exceptional. Grady Harp, August 10
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The truth is not mathematical Aug. 19 2010
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Murders are committed for love, money, hatred, justice or revenge -- but not usually as an intellectual exercise. Yet Álex de la Iglesia approaches such a string of deaths in "The Oxford Murders," adapted from mathematician Guillermo Martinez's novel. Elijah Wood and William Hurt have magnificent chemistry and give excellent performances, but the script has a lot of flab.

Martin (Wood) is a young American student at Oxford who is writing his thesis; he hopes to have the famous mathematician Arthur Seldom (John Hurt) advise him... only to have his hopes dashed.

But when Seldom visits the house where he is boarding, the two men find Martin's landlady dead -- and while at first it appears to be natural causes, the police discover that she was murdered. And when Seldom reveals that he was sent a strange message warning him about the murder, he and Martin begin speculating that they're dealing with an "intellectual serial killer."

At the same time, Martin finds himself in an odd love triangle between his landlady's neurotic daughter (Julie Cox) and a sexy Spanish nurse (Leonor Watling). But his mind is fixed on unraveling the pattern that may lead him and Seldom to the murderer -- and the greatest puzzle is one that no one may be able to figure out.

Pythagorus, the principle of uncertainty, sequential math and mathematical order versus chaos. "The Oxford Murders" feels a bit like a mathematical episode of "Masterpiece Theatre" -- vast venerable colleges, the tangled motives, and some seemingly impossible murders.And the idea of murder warnings based on sequential mathematics is a fascinating one...

... which becomes a problem, because we end up with endless, pompous discussions about truth, reality and philosophy. Eventually you just want to scream at Seldom, "Get off your butt and go detect!"

Álex de la Iglesia cloaks the movie in pale light and a bleak greyness broken by brief spatters of color, and occasionally drops in some more explosive scenes (a rather clever incident involving two buses). Unfortunately, the plot has quite a bit of flab -- Martin's romance with Lorna doesn't really add anything to the plot except a sex scene involving pasta, and his demented classmate doesn't add much more.

But there is a saving grace. Wood and Hurt are absolutely magnificent together as the yin and yang of this investigation -- one is an idealistic, somewhat naive young student, and the other is an embittered, icy old man who apparently takes a weird delight in stirring others up. Cox is a crazy-eyed mass of nerves, and Watlin is just... there. And for some reason both of them are instantly ravenous for Wood.

"The Oxford Murders" is one part murder mystery, one part mathematics, and one part deadly boring philosophical debate that screeches the plot to a halt. A flawed movie with some fascinating, glittering facets.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Oxford Murders Jan. 30 2011
By Spider Monkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
`The Oxford Murders' is quite simply one of the worst films I have seen in years. A sad way to start any review, but true never the less. The acting is terrible, from all concerned, it is wooden and infuriating to watch. The Dialogue is sloppy, inauthentic, stilted and detracts from the meagre plot. You are brought crashing out of the weak storyline by the combination of poor dialogue and terrible acting, which could've have been delivered with more humanity by a wooden marionette puppet. The direction is jerky and tries too hard to be clever where you'd be happy with a coherent narrative and clear plot execution. The storyline and script is flawed in the extreme, there are so many holes in this film from the outset that it left me infuriated to watch it. It is hard to pinpoint one example as they were numerous and glaringly obvious. The police talk to the professor and student about case developments at regular intervals when they are also prime suspects for gods sake! This film is meant to be set in 1993 and yet the set designers and researchers feel it was appropriate to use 80's police cars and equipment and litter the film with other out of sync settings and props. I could go on, but suffice it to say that as far as murder mysteries go this is dire and as an afternoons viewing goes this is a waste of time and you can easily find anything to do that would be more productive than watch this flawed, infuriating and ridiculous film.

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