Bradshaw Watch – Palo Alto (2014)

For anyone struggling to get through Peter Bradshaw’s review of Palo Alto (2014) in The Guardian, here is a rundown of his thoughts on the film – minus bluntly-stated plot details he could have copy-pasted from Wikipedia:

– Peter begins his review by stating that “a generic label here could be More Than Zero” – deftly pointing out how shit the pun he is using is, while using it anyway. This gag also allows him to subtly but firmly assure his readers that he has read Bret Easton Ellis’ novel Less Than Zero (1985), going so far as to name the author directly to ram the point home

– The film is directed by Gia Coppola, who Peter points out is the granddaughter of “Francis Ford”. Bradshaw does not specify who he means here, but it is obvious to cinephiles such as Peter and myself that he of course means Francis Ford Coppola

– The film is based on a a short story collection by James Franco

– The film also stars James Franco, and Jack Kilmer – “son of Val”. Bradshaw does not specify who he means here, but it is obvious to cinephiles such as Peter and myself that he of course means Val Kilmer

– The film also stars Emma Roberts

– One character uses an e-cigarette, which Peter suggests might symbolise “a spiritual void” of some kind. He goes so far as to suggest that this character is “another of modern cinema’s dodgy vapers,” suggesting a widespread pattern – though without providing any other specific examples

– The film also stars Nat Wolff

– Jack Kilmer, Peter feels, has “an open, attractive screen presence,” and an “unaffected charm”

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Bradshaw Watch – ‘Zabriskie Point’ (1970)

For anyone struggling to get through Peter Bradshaw’s one-paragraph review of Zabriskie Point (1970) in The Guardian, here is a rundown of his thoughts on the film – minus bluntly-stated plot details he could have copy-pasted from Wikipedia:

– The film was directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

– The film has been re-released

– The film is “freaky and far-out,” at all times

– The film was “a counterculture adventure” and reminded Peter a bit of Easy Rider and Bonnie and Clyde

– The film also reminded Peter of one or all of the films by David Lynch which were set in the desert – though, presumably, is not thinking of Dune

– Peter also describes the film as providing “an acid flashback to Hitchcock’s North by Northwest

– “Short of travelling by time machine,” Peter considers watching the film to be the best way to visit the Los Angeles of the late 1960s, because it shows you “all the streetscapes, billboards and brand names” which were there in the late 1960s when it was made, in Los Angeles

– Peter considers the film to have invented “its own docu-surrealism” through the practice of casting some actors who were not well known at the time. The film also incorporated some real footage of campus unrest

– Peter considers himself “heretical” for preferring the film to Antonioni’s more famous work Blowup

– The film stars Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, and Rod Taylor

– Peter describes the film as “not a bonfire but a slo-mo detonation of the vanities,” which may be intended as proof that he has read the 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe, or that he is familiar with the medieval practice of burning condemned material possessions, or both.

DO NOT BE FOOLED. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COUNTERFEIT FILM CRITICISM, CONTACT YOUR LOCAL POLICE STATION – OR LEAVE A TESTIMONIAL ON FLICKBOOK.WORDPRESS.COM

Bradshaw Watch – ‘The Best of Me’ (2014)

For anyone struggling to get through Peter Bradshaw’s one-paragraph review of The Best of Me (2014) in The Guardian, here is a rundown of his thoughts on the film – minus bluntly-stated plot details he could have copy-pasted from Wikipedia:

– The film was based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks. Bradshaw goes further, stating that the film was “based unmistakably” on a novel by “the great rom-dram maestro Nicholas Sparks.” This addition gives an impression of familiarity with the material, and coincidentally also bumps Peter six unnecessary words closer to his minimum limit

– Peter asserts that, having refused to check his “corrosive cynicism” at the door, and thus he was able to “appreciate the calculated narrative ploys and manipulations” with a strength of insight which may have escaped his more blind, gullible colleagues. No examples of the ploys or manipulations in question are given

– The film stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, and an unnamed man whom Peter thought looked a lot like Will  Ferrell – but, it is made clear, he wasn’t

– Marsden and Monaghan’s characters are played by two different, younger characters during flashbacks, and Peter did not think Marsden’s double looked very much like him at all.

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Bradshaw Watch – ‘The Judge’ (2014)

For anyone struggling to get through Peter Bradshaw’s review of The Judge (2014) in The Guardian, here is a rundown of his thoughts on the film – minus bluntly-stated plot details he could have copy-pasted from Wikipedia:

– At no point in the film does anyone use the famous Bible quotation from Matthew 7:1: “judge not, that ye be not judged”

– The film stars Robert Downey Junior and Robert Duvall

– There are plenty of  “emotional fireworks” of some kind in the film. Peter also describes it as being “soupy but entertaining”

– Peter believes the film is “obvious Oscar bait”. He imagines what it would be like if, during one scene of intense pathos, the words “Academy Award – for your consideration”  were to  flash in the bottom right corner of the screen. He makes clear, however, that they do not.

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Review – ‘Gotham’ (2014)

Fox’s new Batman-ish TV show Gotham just might be the most enjoyable thing on television right now, to a certain type of viewer. If you are the kind of person who slows down as they pass accidents on the motorway, or laughs at YouTube videos of parkour mishaps, this should be the TV event of your century. The giddy schadenfreude of watching as its creators make almost every decision that could be made wrong even wronger – twice – makes Gotham more than just a scientifically fascinating case study in failure. It’s a genuine joy to behold from beginning to end, and although I know it makes me a bad person I just can’t look away.

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‘Under the Skin’ (2013) – review

Scarlett Johansson has always been a difficult prospect. Although she has risen to stardom through her talent as an actress, from her debut she was lumbered with the dubious privilege of also being a “sex symbol”. Being set up as an object of desire might seem like an honour, but for a serious actor it must be just as much a stigma – threatening to undermine and distort the perception of every role you undertake. I’ve always had trouble separating the two in my mind, interpreting her presence as a cynical attempt by the film’s backers to manipulate me.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 22.57.10In Under the Skin she manages to completely nullify that burden for the first time, by confronting it head-on in a film which, though completely focused on sex and erotic desire, goes to great lengths to be as unerotic as possible. In the film Johansson plays a recent immigrant to the United Kingdom, who is essentially a mixture between a foreign spy and a trafficked sex-worker. Brought to Scotland by a shadowy ‘handler’ – who acts as part-bodyguard, part-pimp – she is tasked with seducing and entrapping as many adult men as she can, by exploiting their lust for her physical beauty. The real plot which is served by these entrapments is left deliberately vague, but – as the film makes clear in the most memorable its many miniature visual masterstrokes – it’s going to leave the men in question feeling a little bit adrift.

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Bradshaw Watch – ‘Withnail & I’ (1987)

For anyone struggling to get through Peter Bradshaw’s single-paragraph review of Withnail and I (1987) in The Guardian, here is a rundown of his thoughts on the film – minus bluntly-stated plot details he could have copy-pasted from Wikipedia:

  • One of the film’s stars, Richard Griffiths, died last year
  • Peter describes the film as a “brilliant fin de siècle comedy” – a term encompassing artworks and ideas associated with late 19th century France. It is almost completely meaningless in this context, perhaps meant to allude generally towards a feeling of decay and bohemian squalor. The main reason for its use here is, of course, to sound a bit clever
  • The film was directed by Bruce Robinson
  • The film has been re-released in cinemas
  • The film also stars Richard E Grant and Paul McGann as “the eponymous Withnail and I”
  • “Every line” of the film, according to Peter, is “a quotable joy” – though he neglects to give a single example. He does paraphrase one line, describing the recent death of actor Griffiths as “the ice in the cider of [his] enjoyment”
  • The film also stars Ralph Brown as a “lugubrious” drug dealer, a character who has ascended to “legendary status”. There may be reasons for this rise to fame – aspects of Brown’s performance, or of the character as written – but, if there are, Bradshaw chooses to leave them entirely unmentioned (as is his right!)
  • Peter is envious of people who are about to see the film for the first time – his concern for these lucky individuals is most likely why he is so very, very careful not to reveal any details whatsoever of the film’s underlying ideas, or details of the actors’ performances in his 148 word writeup.

DO NOT BE FOOLED. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COUNTERFEIT FILM CRITICISM, CONTACT YOUR LOCAL POLICE STATION – OR LEAVE A TESTIMONIAL ON FLICKBOOK.WORDPRESS.COM