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Non-Review Review: Quartet

Quartet is an entertaining light comedy, and a solid directorial début from Dustin Hoffman. The film itself isn’t too surprising or demanding, but – as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel demonstrated earlier in the year – there is something to be said for putting a bunch of older actors together in a room and letting them remind you what they can do. Quartet is a fairly standard “life doesn’t end at retirment” film, and one that makes smart use of a talented ensemble cast. Indeed, as the credits roll, we’re reminded of just how talented as Hoffman introduces us to each of the performers – many of whom have long and impressive careers in theatre or music.

There’s nothing here that will surprise anybody, but it is occasionally nice to be reminded just how superb some of the older generation of actors can be.

... in with the old...

… in with the old…

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Non-Review Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow evokes pulp science-fiction cinema with an earnestness and an eagerness that is endearing, if not infectious. Although the special effects have dated significantly in the time since the movie’s release, it’s hard not to admire director Kerry Conron’s use of computer graphics to forge a connection to classic cinema. However, one senses that Conron might have been better suited to emulate the mood, rather than merely the appearance, of these old adventure serials. The problem is that despite its rather wonderfully crafted appearance, there’s never anything in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to really get excited about. And that’s a shame.

A ray of hope?

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Non-Review Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince represents a fairly significant improvement in quality from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It seems the movie franchise is finally getting a handle on this sort of serialised story-telling, as the movie serves more as a collection of sub-plots leading into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than it does as a story in its own right. However, there’s a sense that the series is getting a bit better at balancing all the competing demands for screentime, and it even manages to explain the title mystery, albeit in a slightly off-hand manner (almost as an after-thought).

Storm clouds are gathering over Hogwarts...

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Non-Review Review: The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli is an interesting film. It’s undoubtedly well made, featuring a strong cast and a pretty great script. Being honest, we’ve had more than enough death and destruction amid post-apocalyptic wastelands, so a movie that doesn’t dwell too much on the soulless nihilism of the setting – well, relatively speaking. It’s sort of an action movie response to the after-the-end thrillers we’ve been seeing a lot of in recent years (The Road comes to mind, as does Carriers and Hollywood’s current fascination with zombies). However, the movie comes across as a little too polished and stylised for its own good – at times it seems as if the cast are recording a perfume commercial set amid the ruins of a world that once was.

Have we been down this road before?

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Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

Being honest, this Christmas special had me from the moment that Michael Gambon was announced. I might have been a little uncertain when it was stated that Stephen Moffat’s first Christmas episode would be essentially a re-telling of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, but I have to admit that I enjoyed it a great deal. That isn’t to pretend that it’s a perfect episode of Doctor Who or that there aren’t significant flaws with the hour of television, but it’s fairly entertaining, features fantastic performances and has a few clever concepts playing about – making it great for seasonal viewing.

The Ghost of Christmas past, present and future...

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Krapp’s Last Tape at the Gate

Michael Gambon is great. He really is. I’d pay to watch Michael Gambon sit on stage for an hour. Hell, I’d pay to see Michael Gambon eat a banana, he’s that good. And, thanks to the Gate Theatre and Samuel Beckett, now I can.

A name like "Krapp" just invites punning...

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Non-Review Review: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Fantastic Mr. Fox isn’t a movie for everyone. It’s decidedly quirkily a Wes Anderson film above all else – above being an animated or stop motion film or a Roald Dahl adaptation. There’s the same dialogue and awkward poses and eccentric misunderstood characters at its core. It’s decidedly retro and it won’t win any awards for visual innovation. But – somewhat fittingly for a movie with a moral about being yourself – it is very much its own movie. Still, the suggestion that this isn’t a movie for kids is a little disingenuous. There are, I reckon, a lot of children who will enjoy the movie’s style and story and beauty. However, there will be a quite a few who won’t. But I reckon the same will be true of an adults as well. This is a movie for Wes Anderson fans, of all ages – even those who have never seen a Wes Anderson film before in their lives. But it’s also a film for those who can appreciate cinema in all its forms and with all its different trappings and styles. Those looking for a conventional animated children’s tale, or particularly light entertainment, will likely leave disappointed – but those looking for something with a bit more soul than usual will be right at home.

He's a foxy fella..

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