Author Archives: leerobertadams

Pelíšky (1999) – A poignant Christmas treat from the Czech Republic…


 

 

Fotosky - Pelíšky

“After the enjoyable but lightweight Obecná škola, I’m pleased to report that the next film on my journey into Czech cinema is the real deal. Pelíšky (Cosy Dens) is an immensely satisfying tragicomedy set in the months preceding the fateful Prague Spring of 1968.

It is a robust family drama featuring some wonderfully poignant comic performances from a formidable cast of Czech and Slovak character actors.

My immediate recommendation comes with a “but” – while Obecná škola is broad enough to appeal to a general audience, your enjoyment of Pelíšky may depend on two things: How well you’re attuned to Czech gallows humour, and at least a basic knowledge of Czech history and culture.

So if you don’t know why someone would have a live fish in their bathtub, or think that Prague Spring sounds like an ideal time to visit the capital, grab a Czech friend before sitting down to watch Pelíšky…” Click here to read my full review for the Brno Expat Centre (Opens in a seperate tab).

Interstellar (2014) – Christopher Nolan disappears up his own wormhole…


Interstellar is so big that it has its own gravitational pull, and time grinds to a halt while watching it…

Interstellar

“Christopher Nolan returns with Interstellar, one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year. It is a handsome, ambitious, sombre space epic, which is also deeply flawed and exposes Nolan’s weaknesses as a director more than any of his earlier work.

I admire Nolan as a film maker, because he makes popular, intelligent films with things to say about the human condition. His images are massive, his visions meticulously crafted and he draws expert performances from his actors. And yet…his films  lack stardust, a sense of wonder, a touch of showmanship, like a story told by an accountant, not a natural raconteur…” Click here to read my full review for Pop.junk (opens in separate window

Autumn/Winter Movie Preview & Gone Girl Review…


Here’s my most recent articles for Popjunk.net -

04/09 – Wormholes, morons, and gruesome death – an Autumn/Winter movie preview…

Birdman

“So summer’s done – it went really quickly, didn’t it? Still, now the dog days are over, at least we don’t need to feel guilty about sitting in a dark room watching pictures on the wall. Here’s my pick of the upcoming films taking us up to Christmas -“

Click here for the full list (opens in a new tab)

04/10 – Gone Girl (2014) – a match made in Hell…

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Gone Girl is a superior potboiler, a sick and slick thriller that manages to be both very dark and effortlessly entertaining, and marks a return to form for director David Fincher after the dreary, spiteful Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Fincher seems to be enjoying himself here, and it is rare that you come out of a two and a half hour movie thinking, ‘Actually, that could have been a bit longer…'”

Click here for the full review.

Boyhood; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Obecná škola, an interview…


Here’s my latest reviews for the Expat Centre here in Brno, Czech Republic -

20/8 – Boyhood (2014) – Life, or something like it…

Boyhood

Boyhood is a remarkable project, filmed over twelve years using the same actors and actresses. Richard Linklater is a director who likes to take his time with his personal projects.

His Before trilogy was almost twenty years in the making, revisiting the young lovers of Sunrise at regular intervals to see how life has treated them in the meantime. The technique allows the actors to bring their own hard-won wisdom to their roles, and Linklater treats his characters as real people…”

Click here to read the full review (opens in a seperate tab)

01/09 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) – Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be…

TMNT pic

“Just one adult?” asked the girl behind the ticket counter, looking around behind me to see if I had any kids in tow. It occurred to me then that the last time I queued for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, I was a kid myself.

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Lucy (2014) Review…


I’ve recently started writing for a lively, brand new pop culture website called pop.junk. Here’s my first offering for my new comrades -

Lucy (2014) – If it had brains, it would be dangerous…

scarlett lucy

“Alfred Hitchcock had a thing for icy blondes, and shared his kinks and fetishes with the viewer in films like Vertigo, The Birds, and Marnie. Luc Besson also likes to air his sexual preferences in his films, and the French director likes ‘em hot, young and deadly.” Click here to read the full review…

 

A.M.W.T.D.I.T.W; Transformers: Age of Extinction; Nowhere in Moravia (2014)


Recently I’ve picked up my first paid writing gig – I’m now the film critic for the Brno Expat Centre, writing film reviews and movie-related articles for the expat community in my adopted home town. It’s been great so far – apart from new cinema releases, I’ve covered a local film festival and started reviewing Czech films.

Here are links to my reviews for the Brno Expat Centre so far -

20/06 – A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) – Seth McFarlane Fires Blanks in Smutty Western Comedy…

A Million Ways to Die in the West 1

“Have you heard the one about the farting cowboy? If not, go see A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane will tell it to you half a dozen times.” Click here to read the full review (opens in new tab).

01/07 – Transfomers: Age of Extinction (2014) – Michael Bay’s Metal Monster Mash Goes East…

Tranformer pic

“No-one in modern cinema blows up $165 million like Michael Bay. His fourth installment of the money-spinning franchise Transformers: Age of Extinction is flashy, hollow, juvenile and about an hour too long, but at least all the money’s on the screen.” Full review here.

Lastly, my first attempt at reviewing a Czech movie – this was actually quite nerve-wracking, because I’ve only seen a handful of Czech films before -

28/07 -Nowhere in Moravia (Díra u Hanušovic) – Sex, Beer and Boredom in a Small Village…

Nowhere in Moravia

“Miroslav Krobot’s morbidly funny Nowhere in Moravia is a downbeat portrayal of small lives, set in a tiny village where life takes forever.” Full review is here.

 

An 80s Childhood in Ten Beards…


Studies show that people are more likely to start smoking if surrounded by smokers when they are children, and public health watchdogs are always wringing their hands about TV & movies making cigarettes look glamorous. The same goes for beards – I didn’t have my first beard until the age of thirty-three. Trying to work out why, I looked back at my childhood and realised that not only did my Dad and Santa Claus have beards, but beards proliferated TV too, surely having something to do with my late-developing urge to have facial hair.

1. Timothy Claypole (Michael Staniforth) in Rentaghost

rentaghost

One of my earliest TV memories was of Timothy the medieval jester cavorting around a suburban house in Rentaghost. The show was about a bunch of ghosts who worked for a supernatural agency, but grew increasingly surreal with the more characters added. Timothy eventually became almost the straight man when surrounded by a Scottish witch, a pantomime horse, and Miss Popov, who teleported every time she sneezed. Which was about twenty times an episode. I had absolutely no idea what was going on as a kid, and re-watching an episode before writing this, I still have no idea.

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Under the Skin (2013) – A chilly meditation on being human…


You spend a lot of time gazing into the eyes of Scarlett Johansson’s alien temptress in Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer’s obtuse adaptation of Michael Faber’s acclaimed novel. You also spend a long time scrutinizing the expression on her face, which is usually as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa’s. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, does this creature have a soul? What is she thinking – or is she just computing? The facial expressions are like ones we use, but does she share any comparable emotions with us?

Questions such as these arise because Glazer has stripped the story to the absolute minimum. We are given almost no information about Johansson’s character Laura. In his last film, Birth,Glazer left it up to the viewer to decide exactly what had happened. In Under the Skin, he pares it down even further, so there is almost no dialogue to help us along. We’re left alone to draw our own conclusions.

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The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) – “By Jove…it’s a good job we’re both honest men.”


The-Lavender-Hill-Mob-007

I could’ve robbed my company blind in my last job.  With intimate knowledge of their processes and systems, I could’ve created so much confusion that I would be safely esconsced in a bar somewhere in Buenos Aires, spunking my way through half the loot before they even realised something was wrong.  The reason I didn’t?  Because I’m an honest person.  I believe in the basic goodness of humanity, and believe that most people on this planet are generally honest and decent, which is why I think the Heist Movie performs such a valuable function to society.

The great thing about a good heist film is that you get to feel part of a caper for a couple of hours.  The best examples have a clearly defined prize, and make it clear who or what is being robbed.  You get to be involved in the planning, make your own judgements on the cleverness of the plan, and enjoy the thrill of the robbery without any personal risk.  Many heist films simultaneously withold vital information from the viewer – The Sting and Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven are good examples – so that while the viewer feels part of the scheme, they are also deceived by a final rug-pull at the film’s conclusion.

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Harold and Maude (1971) – Stinks of Bad Death…


haroldmaude2

“It’s a funny old world,” W.C Fields once said, “A man’s lucky if he gets out of it alive.” When he was dying, a friend visiting him in hospital found him reading the Bible. Why? “I’m checking for loopholes.”

Those two quotes, in a round about way, sum up why I don’t like Harold and Maude. Life is hard at times, a knackering, exasperating accumulation of circumstance that sometimes leaves one wishing for a quieter life…oblivion, for example. But no-one gets out alive, and there are no loopholes. One may not have signed up for this shit, but to check out early is a dereliction of duty.

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