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Non-Review Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has style and charm. It doesn’t have much more than that, but never underestimate how far style and charm can get you. Guy Ritchie has always had a nice a sense of movement, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. always moves at a nice pace, even when it’s not entirely sure where it is going. A film so light that it threatens to get caught in the gust as it breezes by, it is also important never to overestimate how far style and charm can get you either.

Ride along...

Ride along…

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Non-Review Review: About Time

About Time is pretty much vintage Richard Curtis. I don’t mean that in a bad way – certainly not in an entirely bad way. Curtis knows how to structure a romance, has a gift for distinguishing characters in a large ensemble, and has the capacity to employ sentimentality to calculated and devastating effect. About Time has moments of brilliance and emotional punch, framing the main character’s inexplicable ability to time travel in delightful metaphorical terms.

At the same time, Curtis has his weaknesses. Most notably, there’s the sense that his lead characters are all variations on the same character – with more cynical pundits suggesting the base model might be Curtis himself. Similarly, his ensembles are constructed efficiently as a collection of quirky characters who do quirky things quirkily, living out the most quaintly British of lives involving afternoon tea and indulging in the most stereotypical of exclamations (“just a tick…”, “oh gosh…”, etc). There’s a sense that Curtis’ world exists inside old-fashioned post cards more than in anything approaching the real world.

More than that, though, Curtis labours his point just a little bit too much, as if worried the audience might miss the whole “we’re all travelling in time” metaphor and the “secret to being happy” philosophy if it isn’t explicitly articulated in a voice-over monologue set to an upbeat pop song.

Time enough at last...

Time enough at last…

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Boy, Is My Face Yellow: The Cloud Atlas Yellow-Face Non-Issue

Damn you, international release schedule! I really wanted to to weigh in on the whole Cloud Atlas “yellow face” controversy that was raging at the end of 2012, but thought it best to wait until I had actually seen the film to offer comment. That just seems like common sense, even if Spike Lee clearly doesn’t agree. Of course, by the time that Cloud Atlas was released in the UK and Ireland, the storm in a teacup had passed, but I still think it’s worth commenting upon.

cloudatlas4

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Non-Review Review: Cloud Atlas

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Cloud Atlas is a bold, imaginative, creative, frustrating, original, inventive, exhausting and ambitious piece of work. It’s a film that really forces the audience to collaborate, to try to force the pieces of story on the screen to fit together into a structure that is both rewarding and unique. Coming out of the film – which has been dubbed “the most expensive indie movie of all time” – I was left with the impression that Cloud Atlas is a film where everybody is going to hold a slightly different perception of what the film is, and what it’s about. I can very honestly say that Cloud Atlas is quite unlike any other film I have ever seen, and that sense of experimentation and the sheer skill to force the narrative into a shape that makes some sort of sense, unique to almost each viewer, is one massive accomplishment.

Sweet music...

Sweet music…

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Non-Review Review: The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (Band of Misfits)

This review was embargoed until 14th March.

There’s a lot of charm to The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (or Band of Misfits, if you’re so inclined). Aardman Animation might be best known for their distinctive (and beautiful) claymation style, but the studio also has some very sharp writers providing great concepts, ideas and scripts for their madcap films. Pirates! is no different, taking a fairly conventional setting with a fairly conventional central moral, and just throwing absolutely everything against the wall. The result is a genuinely endearing and more-than-a-little madcap family adventure.

A cut above the rest?

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