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Content by Tommy Dooley
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Reviews Written by
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England)
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   

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Stand [Import]
Stand [Import]
Price: CDN$ 33.20
11 used & new from CDN$ 13.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing Russian tale of homophobia, Aug. 31 2015
This review is from: Stand [Import] (DVD)
Anton and Vlad are a gay couple in modern Russia ' a place where extreme views on same sex relationships are still publicly rampant. The authorities too seem complicit in the way homophobic attacks are ignored. Then Anton and Vlad see a man being beaten on the streets, and Anton wants to stop and help ' Vlad has a different view.

They later find out that this was a homophobic attack and Anton wants to do the work the police won't do and track the attackers down. This is the story of that search.

Now there are some that moan when we have yet more depictions of homophobia in film because it has all been done before; but for a great many men and women this is a reality of life and by highlighting this gross breach of human rights and even decency we may be able to bring around change. So for that I applaud the film makers. It is also well acted and has some excellent direction and use of cameras and angles. Some scenes could have been shorter I felt, but that is a minor issue in what many will rightly see as an important film. It is a difficult watch in places too, but that is of necessity deliberate ' recommended to those who appreciate the gay film genre in all its many colours.

Robot Overlords (La Loi des robots) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Robot Overlords (La Loi des robots) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Gillian Anderson
Price: CDN$ 25.46
6 used & new from CDN$ 16.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun, switch off your brain and enjoy Sci – fi romp., Aug. 30 2015
We all love a great big robot with a throbbing piece (I meant a gun)and this film has them – by the bucket load – or is that ‘circuit board load? Set in the UK (actually filmed mostly in Northern Ireland) we have been invaded by huge robots – who just like politicians ‘never lie’. They are here to study all life forms and have imposed a curfew on all humans – except the Quisling types who actively collaborate – led by a sneeringly objectionable Ben Kingsley.
** Plot Spoiler a bit further down**
People are monitored by some sort of electronic tag that alerts the nasty machines if you do anything naughty and they come after you. Well if you are caught doing anything these robots don’t like then you are sort of vaporised. Then the heroes – all kids – discover how to turn their tags off (like some of the crims we currently do this to). Then off they go on their plucky way to reunite families, start a resistance and save the world!

Is this any good though? Well no its utter rubbish and it knows it and that is why it is great fun. On the check list there are all the ingredients.
• An unambiguously evil enemy? –Check.
• Over the top performances straight out of Victorian melodrama? – Check.
• Some big names? – Check and double check – Gillian ‘X Files’ Anderson is the mum!
• References to how great Britain used to be? –Check – even got a Spitfire!!
• Ludicrous stunts that defy death and gravity? – Completely Check!
• Pesky kids straight out of Scooby Doo? – Just keep those checks coming.

But as I said it does all this on purpose and so it is not only forgivable it is actually endearing, you can watch this with the kids, mind you they may say you need to watch something more adult. Also it is a perfect length at 90 minutes – for some good old fashioned sciency fictiony fun, then you can’t go far wrong with this.

The Falling
The Falling
DVD ~ Maisie Williams
Price: CDN$ 12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining film that could have been better, Aug. 30 2015
This review is from: The Falling (DVD)
Set in the 1960s at an all girl school we meet Lydia (Masie Williams) who has a best friend in Abbie. They have it all as friends and a love of nature centring around an old oak tree. They have a mixed bag of teachers who seem to adhere to Victorian values and modesty principles – that is despite the burgeoning ‘summer of love’.

Then tragedy happens and Masie starts to have fainting fits – very soon the phenomenon spreads and she seems to be at the centre of it. Throw in a mum with issues (Maxine Peake) and a bit of the Occult, forbidden sex and deep rooted paranoia and you have the makings of a rather good story.

Maxine Peake is billed starring here, but she is not really on screen for a great period of time; Greta Scacchi as the dowdy Miss Mantel is though pure excellence in a performance dripping with understatement. I have seen comparisons to ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ and even the events around Salem and the subsequent Witch trials. However, I think such comparisons may lead to expectations that may not be met. It is though a film that had a great idea and I think it could have been taken much further as it sort of peters out; despite that it is still on I can recommend.

Child 44 / Enfant 44 (Bilingual)
Child 44 / Enfant 44 (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Communist Paradise murder thriller that has its moments, Aug. 27 2015
On the face of it this is actually a well made film. The plot is that Hardy playing Leo Demidov is a State Security officer in Stalin’s Russia, he has a chequered past and was supposedly at the fall of the Reichstag in Berlin at the close of WW II- the historical inaccuracies around this part are woeful – but in the need for a good story – thoroughly acceptable. For example -one soldier is too scared to fire his machine gun – now they have just fought across half a continent to have gotten the colly wobbles at this point is a bit disingenuous and that is no matter how much it helps to contrive the plot later. The flag bit is also completely made up.

Then we move on to the present day and he sort of uncovers a child murderer serial killer – but as the political wheel turns he is forced to denounce his wife as some sort of spy. Refusing to do so he is demoted and sent to some arse end of nowhere place where he meets Gary Oldman and decides to carry on the search for the killer.

Now this is from the trilogy by Tom Rob-Smith and out of necessity they have missed a lot out in this 132 minute film; but you still get the basic gist. The period detail is great, the acting all passable – the false Russian accents are ok in places. A word in defence of the actors – they at least try to do the accents but like many I prefer the original language. Also people are a bit too emotional in places – this was Stalinist Russia you were only allowed to get emotional when either tractor production targets were exceeded or there was a bumper turnip harvest – fact!

That aside it is watchable it has a fair bit of plot but not a lot of chemistry and there are times when you wonder what their motivation is or what the point is. This could be down to direction or editing, but this ends up being a film where it is lesser than the sum of its parts. It is still an ok watch – hence my rating.

Futuro Beach [Import]
Futuro Beach [Import]
Price: CDN$ 36.61
21 used & new from CDN$ 20.81

4.0 out of 5 stars Loves labours lost in this Brazilian and German co-production, Aug. 27 2015
This review is from: Futuro Beach [Import] (DVD)
Donato (Wagner Moura -`Elite Squad') is a lifeguard at `Praia do futuro' and gets called into action one day when two German tourists get into trouble in the turbulent surf. Donato is unable to save him but afterwards meets Konrad - this is the friend of the drowned man and he is gay - just like Donato.

Well one thing leads to another and they get romantically entwined. It is a relationship built on lust and though that can survive for a while it always seems doomed to failure. Whilst the inevitable catches up on the love front, Donato seems to have also, not run, but ambled away from his past and family. That is a past with a memory and it is just as inevitable that it too will catch up with him.

Now this is a very well made and observed film, with some stunning scenes and a confidence to know when to ramp up the ante and when to let it meander by in a pique of self absorption. There is a smattering of bedroom action, but simulated and nothing over the top. This is a relationship piece more than anything else and covers most of the bases. It has a full range of emotions too and reactions but approaches its subject from the view that there is essentially good in all of us. This is a film for those who want to be made to think and if that floats your boat then I think you will get a lot from this film.

Green Prince [Import]
Green Prince [Import]
Price: CDN$ 39.94
16 used & new from CDN$ 17.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Revealing Documentary of the son of `Hamas' who spied for Israel,, Aug. 27 2015
This review is from: Green Prince [Import] (DVD)
Mosab Hassan Yousef is a son of one of the founding fathers of the Palestinian group Hamas. He grew up in the shadow of Israel's occupation and the shadow of his fathers fight and rhetoric. He was the heir apparent and decided to take up the armed struggle. This got him arrested and in the grips of the Israelis.

He was then interrogated by the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Service) and they tried to turn him, he was still sent to prison. He then ended up working for the Shin Bet and this is his story. Now this is a basic documentary with interviews to camera from Mosab and Gonen Ben Yitzhak (his handler) for the most part. There is also use of archive footage to flesh out the tale and a bit of re-enactment too.

This is actually a very moving and extraordinary film in places with unexpected turns and reveals for both Israel and Palestine. This has the potential to be very divisive as it is a subject that burns close to a lot of people's hearts. That said it is better to discuss than to not and if this film encourages debate then I think that can only be a good thing - as indeed this documentary is too - recommended to those with an interest in modern and World history.

Queen and Country
Queen and Country
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 27.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Grown up Sequel to ‘Hope and Glory’., Aug. 27 2015
This review is from: Queen and Country (DVD)
Writer and director John Boorman introduced us to some of these characters back in 1987 with the marvellous war time tale – ‘Hope and Glory’. Bill is now ten years old and has been sent off to do his National Service – only we are now involved in the Korean War (which still limps on to this day – peace never having been formally agreed). He and his mate Percy though end up stuck in base camp teaching the typing pool.

Life in the camp is far from fun and games and the strict Regimental Sergeant Major and Sergeant Major make their life a bit of a hell – so they create diversions, shenanigans and go chasing the girls near the base by way of diversion. However, as with all diversions – whether on camp or elsewhere – there will be consequences.

Now this is a very well made film, period detail is great etc. The make up is all good and the acting is generally very good. Caleb Landry Jones as Percy Hapgood though struck me as miscast – his accent is unplacable (perhaps as he is American?); he does the emotion well but seems a bit unhinged – which may indeed have been the point. David Thewlis is probably the most stand out performance as the irritatingly unlikeable Bradley – and shows how broad his acting abilities are. Overall though a very good film and if you were a fan of the original, then you will probably want to see – but the jokes are much thinner on the ground here, but it still has a vibrancy that evokes the time and the passion in an endearing way.

Les Combattants / Love at First Fight (Version française)
Les Combattants / Love at First Fight (Version française)
DVD ~ Adèle Haenel
Price: CDN$ 22.99
4 used & new from CDN$ 17.45

4.0 out of 5 stars French Rom Com and Doomsday Prepping in a rather satisfying film, Aug. 23 2015
Arnaud is going to spend his summer working in the family business of making high quality sheds. Then they get a gig at the house of Madeleine’s parents and he sort of falls for her.

She is a feisty young woman who is waiting for the apocalypse and just wants to be ready to survive. This also involves her wanting to join the French Army and do all that gruelling training stuff that quite frankly would have me running the other way. The question for Arnaud is how far is he willing to go to win her – apparently ice cold – heart.

This is a sort of comedy, as it has a few comedic moments, but what it really is, is an unconventional love story – as Morrissey wrote ‘this one is different because it’s us’ – and as such it should be hard to empathise with them – yet by dint of chemistry it is quite the opposite. There is a vibrancy to the whole thing that sweeps you along with it.

This is a warm, amusing film, with great direction and acting and you may even learn a few tips on survival – all in all a recommended watch.

Cub BD+DVD [Blu-ray]
Cub BD+DVD [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Maurice Luijten
Price: CDN$ 19.96
2 used & new from CDN$ 16.90

3.0 out of 5 stars Belgian semi horror that runs out of steam, Aug. 23 2015
This review is from: Cub BD+DVD [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Sam is twelve years old and is not the most popular member of his Belgian Cub Scout Group. They are all off for a camping holiday in the French countryside and to make it more interesting, the two Scoutmasters concoct a story about a legendary bogeyman. This is Kai a half boy half werewolf thing that eats people.

Well suitably scared they end up in the woods and Sam soon uncovers the layer of what he assumes is this mythical boy. Only thing is no one believes him and so do not heed the warnings of what awaits them al – mwah etc.

Now this is a directorial debut on the big screen for Jonas Govaerts and the film was part funded by crowd funding – so there is a lot to commend here. The fly in the filmatic ointment is the script and the holes therein. There are some cringeworthy moments and surprises that are a bit leftfield. There are also some sub plots that are put in to the mix and then just left there – and you are left guessing as to the significance of them. The ending too is one for people who like loose ends. The direction and acting and make up and sets are all really good and there is a great atmosphere of tension for most of the film. It also does not lack compulsion, but for the reasons mentioned above it is an overall film that just makes it into the ‘OK’ category – hence my rating.

Machan [Import anglais]
Machan [Import anglais]
Offered by Rarewaves-CA
Price: CDN$ 12.14
8 used & new from CDN$ 9.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Sri-Lankan story of the have nots seeking betterment in Bavaria, Aug. 20 2015
This review is from: Machan [Import anglais] (DVD)
This is a film based on a group of slum dwellers from Sri-Lanka who all want a better life. Living in what some would see as a seaside idyll; they exist in a hand to mouth way, barely being able to access the basics for survival. The main character is Stanley and he is the sort of lovable loser who just won’t give up.

Then one day he discovers a flyer for an International tournament for handball in Bavaria. They have never heard of the game but see it as a one way ticket to Europe and a better life. So they set out to form a team, learn the rules and learn how to play. The path is a rocky one, with a fair few laughs and a fair bit of heartbreak too.

Now I have seen rave reviews for this film – which is why I got it – however, it is far from the show stopper it is claimed. It is very well made and the actors all do an excellent job. There are a couple of ‘wtf’ moments – but that is forgivable. The elephant in the room with this though is illegal migration and the idea that a ticket to Europe or ‘the West’ is a panacea for all ills, the beauty of Sri Lanka etc is just ignored – and this film more than propagates the myth.

As a piece of entertainment it works very well as a piece of serious social comment it is more of a puff piece and lets itself down a bit for it.

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