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Reviews Written by
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England)

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Angels Crest [Import]
Angels Crest [Import]
DVD ~ Thomas Dekker
Price: CDN$ 15.74
21 used & new from CDN$ 9.13

4.0 out of 5 stars The Aftermath of Loss in a genuinely moving film, Jan. 24 2015
This review is from: Angels Crest [Import] (DVD)
Ethan is a young father to Nate who is a three year old. The mother is a lush who has fled the family home and left Nate to the sole charge of the father. Then on the first day of snow Ethan decides to take Nate to the forest and see the real beauty of nature. Once there Nate has fallen asleep in his safety seat, so Ethan goes off to deer watch for a few minutes.

On his return Nate is gone and after a frantic search, involving most of the town- his dead and frozen body is found. Why the father did not follow the child's tracks in the snow is never answered though which I did feel was odd and has been seen by a lot od commentators as a bit of a plot hole. In the aftermath the whole town has to take a look at itself and how it truly is and accusation, recriminations and bigotry are high on the `to do' list.

This is a quietly confident film with a great performance from Thomas Dekker (`Kaboom') as Ethan and is more about social relationships and the threads that can unite and sometimes tie us together and what happens when those threads unravel - it is far from a `feel good' movie but it has its moments all the same. It also is filmed with a great eye to the location (Alberta and Calgary, Canada) and gives fair treatment to all of the players. One to make you think and one I can recommend, but bear in mind the plot hole that I mentioned. Seven out of ten rounded to four stars.

Desire to Kill
Desire to Kill
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 9.19
3 used & new from CDN$ 9.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Death is the best doctor, Jan. 24 2015
This review is from: Desire to Kill (DVD)
This Korean film (aka `Enemy at the dead end') concerns two men, one has had a stroke Min-ho and the other has had surgery to save his life - Song-Up. They are both in recovery and have both suffered a degree of amnesia. One thing is certain though and that is that Ming-ho knows that Song-Up has done him a wrong in the past and he is going to kill him.

The plot unfolds mostly in the treatment room, but we also have interactions from the medical staff and a few flashbacks to put meat on the bones of the story. As their memories return - so does the past come back to haunt both of them.

This is one of those films that took its time to warm up and have me fully engaged. For those who like their humour dark and enjoy a psychological thriller this will be one to enjoy. The whole point of the film is in the reveals so this is not one you will want to watch more than once - but it is still made well enough to keep you guessing right till the end and I have to say it was worth the wait.

A Most Wanted Man / Un homme très recherché [Blu-ray]
A Most Wanted Man / Un homme très recherché [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman
Price: CDN$ 17.99
8 used & new from CDN$ 17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly gripping thriller, Jan. 24 2015
From the novel by John Le Carre's novel `A Most Wanted Man' - we get one of the last films from Philip Seymour Hoffman. We have a refugee arriving in the German port of Hamburg. He is half Chechyan and half Russian and has suffered some full on torture. He also has a claim to a mountain of money that has been bequeathed to him by his father. A man he had little time or love for - he is also a convert to Islam.

This arouses the interest of both the German and US governments. With funds flowing to terrorist organisations they want to ensure that he is not going to be a conduit for more of the same. Hoffman plays a counter terrorism officer Günther Bachman and he has a team of agents who excel at playing the players in what turns out to be a classic game of cat and mouse.

This is an extremely well made film with a brilliant supporting cast that includes the incomparable Willem Dafoe, Daniel Brühl and Robin Wright. There is also a part for one of my fave Germans Kostja Ullmann (`Summer Storm'). This is a production where everyone gives of their best in a story that is at first glance simple, but gets wrapped in a web of deceit and shifting alliances - it is a great testament to the rare ability that Hoffman had and a film that is easy to recommend.

The German Doctor (Sous-titres français)
The German Doctor (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Alex Brendemühl
Price: CDN$ 19.99
15 used & new from CDN$ 19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Boys from Argentina (and Brazil), Jan. 18 2015
Set in 1960 we are introduced to a German doctor in Patagonia - Argentina. He is on his way to Bariloche and travels with a family he has met en route. Once there he takes up a job as a cow doctor in genetics and also carries on `practicing' on people as he is into growth hormones to `improve the race'. He is drawn to the young daughter of the family - Lilith - whom he says he can help develop as she was born prematurely and so has retarded growth and suffers bullying as a result. She in turn takes to the charismatic charmer but can't quite put her finger on why.

The family are at first wary of this German interloper, but German influence is quite high in that part of Argentina. Lilith and her brother are both sent to a German school and soon Herr Doctor is a regular fixture not only at their hotel but in their lives. What the family don't know is that they are harbouring `The Angel of Death' from Auschwitz - Dr Mengele.

This was written by Lucia Puenzo who also directs this and as such is a work of fiction, but it still deals with some of the nasty things that Nazi experimentation got up to; however this is still remarkably sanitised - only hinting at the depth of horror - but that is not a criticism. Àlex Brendemühl as Mengele manages to be both expert doctor and spine chillingly evil at the same time and by doing so bring a level of menace that very much brings the tension levels up. The setting is perfect (genuine location) too and most of the period detail is on the money. It is in Spanish and German and a bit of Hebrew with good sub titles. This is one for the story and atmosphere and as such can be recommended, but not if you get hung up on liberty's with history.

Run [Blu-ray] [Import]
Run [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 26.37
15 used & new from CDN$ 15.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Free running antics in a somewhat unbelievable film, Jan. 18 2015
This review is from: Run [Blu-ray] [Import] (Blu-ray)
Daniel lives with his dad and he does that free running thing or Parkour and seems to be very good at it. He also breaks into peoples homes and steals things. The synopsis describes this as being both a hero and thief - well I think the cops would just go for the thief option to be honest. Anyway his pops is on the run from some bad guys and so they have to do a Midnight flit again or `run' away - see the title is actually quite clever.

Well they end up with him having to go to a new school and - well you guessed it he meets a girl and the usual happens and they fall for each other. Then the bad guys turn up and this time they decide not to run but do some fighting instead.

Now this film has buckets of macho BS that I found to be a bit boring - no actually very boring, but that is de rigueur these days. Also it reminded me of `Skateboard' which was a film trying to make skateboarding cool in a cinematic way. Well if you have never seen it then your life is much the richer for having not done so. This is no way near as bad, but it is the bigging up of free running antics that stats to wear thin. But if you like that sort of thing then this could be your film Nirvana.

There is an awful body double moment here too - and you don't have to pay too much attention to spot it. The music is all urban stuff and actually works quite well. I streamed this and some would say an actual stream would be a good place for it to end up. But it did pass the time and is far from terrible hence my rating, but I think I saw it on a good day.

Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei (DVD)
Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei (DVD)
DVD ~ Robert Wieckiewicz
Offered by polski_film
Price: CDN$ 33.00
3 used & new from CDN$ 25.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Walesa seen as the hero of the people in a film some will say is biased., Jan. 18 2015
This film is well made, it is also engaging and it purports to tell the story of Lech Walesa and the rise of the `Solidarity' movement in Communist Poland. To do this we get Lech being interviewed by an Italian journalist and through her questions we go on a tour of the flash points of the past. This starts with the Gdansk shipyard protests in 1970 which were cruelly suppressed by the authorities and killed many people - he was arrested and interrogated.

It documents his struggles and the people he worked with both for and against. We also have his wife and six children and the part they played in his work and life. It is all well acted and directed and the use of archive footage with new work is done extremely well. We follow him all the way through to getting the Nobel Peace Prize and his triumphant visit to Washington DC, with an awful lot of ups and downs in between.

All that aside this has been accused of the being `too official' and basically a hagiography of the man. There is no reference to his work after the fall of Communism - but that is the choice of the film maker and there are no allusions to his collaboration - but we do see him sign documents that he does not read in order to be released from detention. So as a film it holds up fairly well but it will be seen as propagandist by those who want to see Walesa as the collaborator `Bolek' that he has been accused of and as a reforming hero by others. As such it will cause a polarisation of opinion. I actually enjoyed watching this two hour offering and so as a filmatic experience it does work -as a factual history lesson it is debatable. Either way I would give 7/10 but am rounding down to three stars.

In Bloom [DVD] [Import]
In Bloom [DVD] [Import]
Offered by marvelio-ca
Price: CDN$ 14.69
11 used & new from CDN$ 11.00

5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Spark that fades', Jan. 18 2015
This review is from: In Bloom [DVD] [Import] (DVD)
This indie, gay based drama has been compared to Brit, indie hit `Weekend'. I can see the comparisons but actually found this to be a better story. It is about two men Paul and Kurt, the film starts out with them meeting at a party and it is clear that they are somewhat `estranged'; we then go back seven months to when their love was clearly `in bloom' and find out how they got to this stage.

Whilst Paul worked in a supermarket to pay the bills, Kurt was a drug dealer and got to meet a lot of laid back people - some might say too laid back. A chance encounter then starts the clock ticking on the road to separation. We also have a back story of a serial killer who is targeting lone men. What we then have is the painful deterioration of the two lovers relationship and I have to say it was done completely convincingly. Things never just end and this was like watching nails being hammered into the coffin of their shared love.

I found this completely absorbing even though it was far from being a `feel good' movie. Quite the contrary; it dealt with an aspect of relationships that is all too often ignored and that is the breakdown. Director Chris Michael-Birkmeier has made a very good film and has also got two excellent performances from his leading men Kyle Wigent as Kurt and Tanner Rittenhouse as Paul - both of them virtual unknowns but both showing great ability. Not a bedroom fest more a study of a relationship past its best and if you are up for a challenging, intelligent and very human story then you could do a lot worse than giving this one a chance - recommended.

Gerontophilia (Bilingual)
Gerontophilia (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Pier-Gabriel Lajoie
Price: CDN$ 20.00
4 used & new from CDN$ 18.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Love across the generational divide., Jan. 10 2015
This review is from: Gerontophilia (Bilingual) (DVD)
Film maker Bruce La Bruce has always courted controversy and along the way made some very interesting films and I am glad to say he has kept that up with his latest offering. This tells the story of Lake who starts to find he is attracted to older men. He has a very nice girlfriend - Desiree- who is the same age as him, but something must be missing.

Then his mum gets a job at an elderly persons care home and she offers him a summer job, which he takes to like a duck to water. Once there he also finds that a lot of the patients are being fed tranquilisers in order to keep them in a semi conscious state. He befriends one such man and soon Lake realises he is more than drawn to older men and he lets nature take its course.

Now there is some nudity in this film, but for Mr La Bruce it is positively restrained. What this film is when it is striped back is a love story plain and simple. There are very touching moments and some well observed humour too. The down sides are the plot holes that have been done for dramatic effect and so can be just about forgiven. The acting is all above average too and Pier-Gabriel Lajoie as Lake is very engaging and convincing in the role of the young man discovering `silver love'. A very different film and I am glad to have seen it; Bruce La Bruce continues to surprise and even though sometimes the surprises are not very nice I am grateful that he keeps trying.

Spring of Life [Import]
Spring of Life [Import]
DVD ~ Monika Hilmerová
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 164.69
6 used & new from CDN$ 49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Accomplished and Moving film of the Lebensborn programme, Jan. 10 2015
This review is from: Spring of Life [Import] (DVD)
This Czech film tells part of the story of the Nazi's programme known as `Lebensborn'. This was a system whereby natural authorised and certificated women of Aryan purity were chosen to go to special schools where they were matched with a pure Aryan hero of the Master Race for the sole reason of reproduction. The babies of this union were to be raised to continue the Thousand year Reich.

In the film we meet Gretka who is a Czech from the Sudetenland - she is chosen and sent off to one such place. There she is at first honoured and amused by all the attention. Then she meets a local Jew who is being held as a hostage by the Nazi's and treated like a dog. Through his suffering and the ever more intransigent attitudes of her teachers - and alleged betters - she decides to rebel.

This is all based on true events, it will have you reaching for the tissues too as anything dealing with babies and war is bound to be a tear jerker. This was a made for TV production in 2000 and the quality of the production belies its humble origins. In Czech and German with very good sub titles this is one for all followers of World War II films in all of their guises.

Rover [Blu-ray] [Import]
Rover [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 23.49
20 used & new from CDN$ 21.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and atmospheric Australian thriller, Jan. 10 2015
This review is from: Rover [Blu-ray] [Import] (Blu-ray)
This is a film set sometime in the future `after the collapse'. We are not told if this is a world wide event or just linked to Australia - either way what is left is virtually lawless. Guy Pearce plays Eric an ex-soldier and farmer who is on the road. He gets car jacked by some ne'er do wells who leave him their battered up SUV, which he uses to pursue them.

On the way he encounters a wounded youth - Rey played by Robert Pattinson. Once it is established that it was Rey's big brother who has stolen the car, they team up in a sort of unholy alliance to catch up with the gang.

This is essentially a road trip movie with plenty of odd types along the way to both piqué your interest and make your gorge rise. Guy Pearce is just excellent and rather scrofulous in a role that would be a stretch for any actor. Pattinson too puts in an admirable performance of the gawky stammering youth who has lost his way in a world with no directions. The make up is amongst the best I have ever seen and the music gets you without you noticing - at one point it sounds like an orchestra tuning up after an all night boozing session and it is just perfect for the atmosphere. With an air of brooding menace throughout this is another great addition to Australian cinema.

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