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The Princess Bride

Title: The Princess Bride
Directed by:
Rob Reiner
Written by:
William Goldman
Year: 1987

The Princess Bride opens up with an old man visiting his sick grandson to read him a story, which happens to be the novel by the same name, written by William Goldman. Even though the story is that of true love, the boy makes sure his grandfather doesn’t dwell too long on sissy details such as kissing. Instead, it’s a fairly straightforward story about a princess who loses her true love, and how he returns to find her, but has to fight the evil king in order to regain the hand of his beloved.

I think this film is extraordinarily difficult to rate and review, because it combines a rather dull story and setting with ingenious dialogue. If the film had lacked the dialogue, it would have been among the worst films I’ve ever watched, and reversely, if the story and setting would have been more interesting, it might have been a masterpiece. As it is, it’s worthwhile, but not exceedingly so. I enjoy the witty dialogue and some other details, but that’s not enough to please me all the time, probably because I’m not amused by everything that’s supposed to be funny.

Still, I might judge this film too harshly. It’s not meant to be a serious movie with an intricate plot and deep musings on the meaning of lite, but it’s rather intended to be plain entertainment. As such, it’s pretty good and if you’re not averse to such films in general, the likelihood that will you’ll like The Princess Bride more than I did is quite high.

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Modern Times

Title: Modern Times
Directed by:
Charlie Chaplin
Written by:
Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard
Year: 1936

My impression of the great, old (let’s say at least fifty years old) classics is on the whole extremely good. They have qualities which survive generation after generation, and show that their directors, actors and writers have something genuinely valuable to show. Thus, it’s a bit sad that Charlie Chaplin with his Modern Times manages to completely wreck this trend. I don’t know why this film is so highly regarded as it apparently is; I think it was a waste of time watching it.

The plot is set during the Great Depression and focuses on its effects and causes on the citizens of an American metropolis. This part of the film I can appreciate, but the big problem is that the film completely fails to amuse me, and comedies without humour is seldom a good idea. I won’t say that I’m completely immune to Chaplin’s body language (which is amazing), but it’s far, far from enough to support a full-length movie. I might have liked slapstick when I was ten, but alas, I’ve grown up. Modern Times makes me more convinced than ever that I should stay as far away as possible from any even remotely similar films.

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The Mexican

Title: The Mexican
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: J.H. Wyman
Year: 2001

It is truly amazing that this film has such renowned actors as Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in it, because it feels like a B film in every other way. The story about a man travelling to Mexico to retrieve a priceless revolver called The Mexican is confusing, a bit shaky, but works if one is prepared to overlook certain things. The acting is not bad, but the characters are not very interesting, which means that the overall impression is not very positive anyway.

On the positive side, I like the basic story and some of the directing, but it fails to bring the film to any level of adequacy. Sad to say, there are simply many, many, films out there much more worthy of my time. It should be noted that I watched this film on television, which meant that instead of spending 123 minutes, I ended up spending closer to three hours due to advertisement breaks. This was extremely annoying and reminded me why I normally never watch television. Two snails to The Mexican.

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Title: I manegen med Glenn Killing – Live från Berns
Directed by:
Walter Söderlund
Written by:
Robert Gustafsson, Jonas Inde, Andres Lokko, Johan Rheborg, Henrik Schyffert
Year: 1994

This is a live performance which consists of the best parts of the television series with the same name. The series did not attract much attention, but in retrospect, after the creators had become famous through other series, it gained popularity. Though I have not watched the series in its entirety, it seems to me that this live show is several notched better.

I have watched this show so many times that I know parts of it by heart. However, before last week, it was many years since I watched and I only did so because I happened to make a reference to it talking with a friend, and it turned out that she had not seen it. Perhaps, it has lost some of its shimmer lent by nostalgia, but it is still among the best pieces of Swedish humour ever produced. This is mostly because all participants are brilliant (especially Robert Gustafsson) in their roles.

By way of recommendation, I think most people in Sweden know about this cadre of comedians and if you happen to like their other productions, the chance that you will enjoy this show is rather big.

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The Simpsons Movie

Title: The Simpsons Movie
Directed by: David Silverman
Written by: Matt Groening, James L Brooks, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti
Year: 2007

This film must be one of the hardest films to make ever, and failure is almost ascertained even before it begun. The Simpsons is a highly popular series with an abundance of episodes with a quality rarely seen in elsewhere. Thus, trying to match almost twenty years of television broadcasting is impossible, and even though a full-length film is different from episodes of a series, I think a comparison is unavoidable.

I regard this film as several average episodes of the series put together. There is more continuity, of course, but the film still keeps the general feeling of the series. Occasionally, there is brilliance, but not by far often enough to be able to match the best episodes. It would be misleading to say that the film is bad, but it is undoubtedly not as good as the best episodes.

The story itself revolves around Homer’s guilt in poisoning Lake Springfield and, in so doing, causing the government to put the city in quarantine under a huge dome. The added continuity of the story is nice, but does not add very much to the experience. The Simpsons has never relied on intricate plots and storylines and this is not the case this time around either.

Conclusively, the film is worthwhile (I have even watched it twice) and I think everyone who likes the series should watch the film as well. However, I do not think it brilliant in the way I think some episodes.

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Bad Santa

Title: Bad Santa
Directed by:
Terry Zwigoff
Written by:
Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Year: 2003

Usually, I do not enjoy laughing at tragedy, but in some ways, Bad Santa is an exception. The story revolves around two men posing as Santa and his little helper, who cares little about Christmas except for the opportunities of robbing shops that it presents. Both are pretty sad figures, and they are also fairly ruthless, at least until they run into a bullied boy who seems to love Santa no matter how bad he is.

I cannot really say why I enjoyed watching this film, because when I describe it, nothing seems to appeal to me. Good acting and the occasional successful joke are probably the reasons, but I still do not quite understand. Anyway, I do not recommend this film around Christmas, since it expertly destroys most of whatever atmosphere you might have built up. I suggest you watch it after Christmas instead, when you are bored to death of red-nosed rein deers and fat men in red and white.

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Evil Dead 2

Title: Evil Dead 2
Directed by:
Sam Raimi
Written by:
Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel
Year: 1987

Ash and his girlfriend Linda stop by a small cottage in a forest, and upon arrival, they encounter a tape recorder, which when started summons an evil entity, the main antagonist of the film. Dwelling on the story is somewhat pointless, because it probably made the way it is intentionally, so together with what I have already mentioned, it will suffice to say that it feels like the final battle of any ordinary horror film, only ninety minutes long.

I am not a fan of horror films, and it is often necessary to appreciate the target of a comedy in order to be able to enjoy the comedy itself. This being said, there are chinks of light which make me laugh at times, but they are rather scarce and fairly dim. To make it short, this film is so bad that it has passed beyond mere mediocrity and come out again on the other side, settling in the domain of slight amusement.

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Title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Quandary Phase
Written by: Douglas Adams
Produced by: British Broadcasting Corporation
Year: 2004

While the two first phases are pure brilliance, the tertiary was somewhat disappointing in that it did not bring anything that the book did not already have. Sadly, the quandary phase has even less content that merits recommendation, and is more some sort of dramatised summary of the fourth novel than something possessing intrinsic value. I like the fourth novel very much, so the radio show being a summary is not meant to be something good. If you are interested in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galxy, I recommend you to read the fourth novel instead. However, do not think that the radio show is bad in itself, because it is not, but since it falls short compared to the book as well as the earlier phases of the radio series, I cannot help being disappointed.

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Title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Tertiary Phase
Written by: Douglas Adams
Produced by: British Broadcasting Corporation
Year: 2004

Those of you fluent in Swedish will know that I love the primary and secondary phases of the most remarkable radio series of all time: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, both earning the highest grade possible. Therefore, it is frankly rather weird that I have not listened to the rest of the series until now, even though there is a quite logical gap between the second and tertiary phases. Let me tell you a little bit about the radio series.

It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978 and later spawned what Douglas Adams called “a trilogy in five parts”. It is therefore the books that are based on the radio version and not the other way around, at least for the first two phases and novels. Roughly twenty five years later, another three phases were produced (tertiary, quandary and quintessential phases), going the other way around, i.e. adapting the last three novels to radio.

There are several differences between listening to the tertiary phase compared to the two earlier ones. Firstly, it lacks originality. Douglas Adams never meant two versions of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to be the same, and even if there are shallow differences between the third novel and the tertiary phase of the radio play, they are not interesting enough. Secondly, Peter Jones, who narrated the first two phases, died in 2000, passing his role on to William Franklyn. Sadly, there is a huge difference between the two in that I really loved Peter Jones narration and that I only get annoyed by William Franklyn’s voice.

I still think the first two phases are among the pest pieces of entertainment ever produced in any medium and some of the positive aspects yet remain (brilliant actors, especially for Ford and Arthur, for instance). However, the third phase does not have the same spark of brilliance, even though I still like the content. In this case, though, I do prefer the novel before the radio series.

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Title: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Directed by:
Guy Ritchie
Written by: Guy Ritchie
Year: 1998

Is there anything more charming than miserable, failed, low-scale British gangsters? In real life there certainly is, but when Guy Ritchie writes and directs, there is not. The story in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels pivots around a card game in which a self-confident young card player loses £500,000 a man heading a powerful crime network. The card player and his friends have a week produce they money, and if they fail, they will probably die.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is 105 minutes of hilarity and action. Dialogue between characters is the main engine which propels the story and this is perhaps the strongest aspect of the film. The dialogue is not only perfectly written, but also carried out in a manner which resonates both with the story and with the actors themselves.

Another main attraction of this film is the weird, absurd and extraordinarily entertaining story. Intricate as it is, it si yet somehow straightforward and to the point. Not a scene is wasted and everything is neatly rounded up in the end. I have watched this film more than once, and I suggest you do the same.

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