John Hodge

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Trance Review


Good

Danny Boyle is obviously having a ball with this thriller, deploying every cinematic trick he can think of to throw the audience off the track. But sometimes too much of a good thing is annoying. And while this film holds our interest, it also reveals early on that we simply can't trust anything we see on-screen. So while it's expertly shot and edited, and the actors make the most of their shifty characters, it's not easy to just sit back and enjoy the show.

McAvoy stars as Simon, an auctioneer presiding over the sale of a £30 million Goya painting, which promptly goes missing after an elaborate heist. Simon suffers a head injury in the assault, and can't remember anything, which is a problem when it turns out that he was working with criminal mastermind Franck (Cassel). Now Franck and his goons (Sapani, Cross and Sheikh) want to know where the painting is, so they enlist hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Dawson) to help Simon recover his memory using a series of unconventional methods. But she wants her share of the cash. 

Yes, the further they travel into Simon's mind, the stranger things get. McAvoy has little to do here but look dazed in between moments of lucidity that generally spark something horribly violent. Opposite his understated performance, Cassel can hardly help but be a lot flashier as a menacing charmer. And Dawson has a fierce presence as a woman who quickly takes control of every situation she's in. Although Dawson also has to contend with a couple of leery nude scenes that go further than what was strictly necessary.

Continue reading: Trance Review

The Sweeney Review


OK
The iconic 1970s British TV series gets the big screen treatment from crime-drama aficionado Nick Love (The Business). And this slick cop thriller is enjoyable even if the plot never amounts to much more than an extended episode of a television show. But it looks great, and the cast is thoroughly entertaining.

Jack (Winstone) is a grizzled veteran of the Flying Squad, known in rhyming slang as "the Sweeney", an elite team of undercover London cops who deal with armed crime. His right-hand man and protege is George (Drew), and as they investigate a suspiciously messy jewellery heist, they are distracted when internal affairs officer Lewis (Mackintosh) starts looking for a reason to shut them down. Their captain (Lewis) tries to help, but things are complicated by the fact that Jack is having an affair with Lewis' wife (Atwell).

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The Beach Review


OK
Danny Boyle says he was "keen to distance this movie from Lord of the Flies, which The Beach has been unfairly compared to." Okay, so The Beach is not Lord of the Flies. Lord of the Flies has a lot more going for it.

Many a confused moviegoer has already asked me what the heck this film is about, since the trailer makes it out to be something akin to, er, Lord of the Flies. The movie, based on the novel by Alex Garland, traces the Thailand trip of young Richard (DiCaprio), who in Bangkok encounters a crazy guy named Daffy (Carlyle, who has nary an understandable line of dialogue in the whole movie).

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Trainspotting Review


Essential
It's the most heavily-hyped and anticipated indie film I have ever seen.

It's a foul and grotesque exercise in nausea, yet completely engrossing from the start.

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Shallow Grave Review


Essential
The biggest favor you can do your senses this week is see Shallow Grave, a slick British thriller cut with the blackest comedy to hit theaters since Reservoir Dogs. Utterly hilarious in that British way, Shallow Grave is the tale of three roommates, Juliet, Alex, and David, in search of a fourth.

From the get-go, this film begins to close its fingers around your neck and never lets go. The eerie feeling that something is just not quite right is present from the beginning, even before things take a turn for the worse. Of course they inevitably do, when the trio's newly found roommate, Hugo, suddenly dies in his room. Lo and behold, next to the body the three find a suitcase containing a million pounds, and after some debate, they decide to keep it and bury its previous owner in--you guessed it--a shallow grave.

Continue reading: Shallow Grave Review

John Hodge

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