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Non-Review Review: A Most Wanted Man

For better or worse, A Most Wanted Man is going to be overshadowed by the passing of its lead actor. Philip Seymour Hoffman was a giant, a performer with a wonderful gift for bringing flawed and real characters to life, and A Most Wanted Man serves as his last leading role in a major motion picture. It is impossible to talk about A Most Wanted Man without talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It is a great performance, one that reminds the audience of why they loved Hoffman in the first place – Günther Bachmann is the sort of flawed human being that Hoffman played so well, given a great deal of depth by the late actor.

What's on the table?

What’s on the table?

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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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Non-Review Review: Morning Glory

Early in Morning Glory, our plucky female lead (TM) is interviewing for a position at a major morning show. Asked to outline her vision, she states that “no story is too high or too low” for the show to tackle. Unfortunately, the film makes it clear that the emphasis on that last part. Because this is exactly what we need – a movie about how morning shows aren’t dumb enough.

It's a news day...

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Non-Review Review: Sherlock Holmes

Well. I enjoyed that probably far more than I should have. If you ever wondered what Bad Boys would look like set in turn-of-the-last-century London and featuring a better director, then look no further. Although it would seem to be your typical old-fashioned action yarn in the mode of The Mummy or Shanghai Noon, the movie really works best as a time-displaced buddy cop film – or even just as a regular bromance. The movie is light, quick and entertaining. What more could you expect?

There's going to be bloody 'ell to pay...

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Non-Review Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

It’s certainly an interesting concept: it’s the story of a love out of sync – of two individuals who live their lives at different speeds. Claire falls in love with a strange man she met in a meadow when she was growing up – only he hasn’t aged a day. That’s because he’s a time traveler. So, as you can imagine, that throws up more than the usual boundries to romance. In fairness, the movie seems aware of the myriad of possibilities suggested by its premise, but the truth is that it does little more than exploit them for melodrama. Cheap, heavy-handed melodrama.

Stuck in a movie I can't get out of...

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Non-Review Review: State of Play

Ah, the good old conspiracy thriller theory movie is alive and well, it would appear. For those not quite up-to-date on Hollywood’s fascination with sequels, remakes and adaptations, State of Play is a remake of the classic BBC miniseries of the same name. Following an old-fashioned investigative reporter as he attempts to investigate the death of a Congressman’s aide, he finds himself getting drawn closer and closer to a lion’s den of corruption and defense contractors. It’s a solid conspiracy movie elevated by superior performances that doesn’t really live up to its potential.

Russell Crowe attempts to explain the plot twists of State of Play to a confused Ben Affleck...

Russell Crowe attempts to explain the plot twists of State of Play to a confused Ben Affleck...

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