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Gavin & Stacey: A Special Christmas (2019)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
5/10
A Bit of A Turkey
29 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Like all other Gavin & Stacey afficionados, I was eagerly awaiting the reunion after nearly a decade. Well, despite reading reams of rave reviews all over the internet, I have to say I was disappointed. Three reasons:

First up, the early attempt at hilarity . No, no, no, no, no!

Second, Gavin & Stacey themselves were bo-ring and added nothing to the episode.

Third and worst of all, Smithy's totally unbelievable new girlfriend. Sorry, but in the original series, we all invested in, loved and really believed in these people. Smithy would never have got together with someone like that and instead of producing laughs, it produced angst and irritation.

Somehow it all felt a bit forced and contrived compared with the old days where everything just flowed effortlessly with so many laughs. I really don't want to see any more now, despite the ending.
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4/10
A cynical ploy to cash in on the success of the charming original - best avoided
5 March 2015
It's not often I go to print on this site, but this time I felt obliged to, having been drawn to the cinema to see the follow up to the wonderful Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which I saw a couple of times on its release. It's refreshing to see that some other reviewers have seen through the layers of sugar and syrup.

While many have enjoyed this lighthearted, colourful film as a slice of escapism, I have to say I struggled to stay awake as it irritated rather than engaged me. I went with a friend who hadn't seen the first one and she loved it as it reminded her of a recent holiday to India. It will do well simply by drawing in the crowds who were beguiled when we were first introduced to the hotel and characters three years ago.

My 4/10 score is possibly overgenerous. The script and story lines are contrived beyond belief, the hotel inspector 'farce' is ridiculous, the dance sequences a poor attempt to emulate Slumdog Millionaire. In short, the whole thing's been dumbed down to the lowest common denominators to make money and I rather regret contributing to its inevitable financial success.
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9/10
A new Loach in the making?
29 October 2013
I have to confess I have a 'soft spot' for realist British drama and any film featuring scrapyards and neglected locations nearly always gets a high rating for me.

Having seen Clio Barnard's previous film 'The Arbor' a couple of years back, I was curious to see her next feature and it's well worth the price of admission. Her style and subject matter here remind me of Andrea Arnold's 'Fish Tank' and also a little of Rufus Norris's dysfunctional family in 'Broken', both of which were high on my score sheet.

The two young leads are outstanding, even if their strong northern accents are sometimes hard to follow for me, a southerner, and the portrayal of exclusion, its consequences and repercussions is handled brilliantly by the film makers as you are immersed in their world for what feels far longer than the 90 minutes running time.

See it and appreciate that British drama is alive and kicking. I look forward to her next project.
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Ping Pong (I) (2012)
10/10
Uplifting, unmissable, offbeat Brit-Doc
8 August 2012
Just been to see this at a packed special screening where the directors were present for a Q&A. A touching and humorously compelling glimpse into the world of octogenarian table tennis. Brilliantly edited, combining just the right amount of back story of 8 protagonists from around the world including two lovely old gents from the UK, together with footage from the World Championships which were held in China in 2010. Believe you me, the emotions aroused were similar to watching Team GB live at the London Olympics. Nearly forgot to mention that it also has a great soundtrack.

This film will sadly only get limited screening in cinemas but I believe it will be shown on Channel 4 later this year. Miss it at your peril - it's outstanding and is one of my favourite films of 2012 so far.
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9/10
Compelling and thought provoking brilliance
12 January 2012
I remember learning about the discovery of Joyce Vincent's body a few years ago and thinking what a sad and disturbing news story it was, almost beggaring belief in present day civilised society. This superbly and sensitively crafted drama documentary from Carol Morley answers a mere handful of the many questions which inevitably followed while inevitably producing a myriad of others.

It is a salutary reminder that life is both precious and mysterious, things are often not what they seem and how we all think we know our friends but in reality our comprehension is limited to what we are actually permitted to see and understand.

The most refreshing and at the same time most disturbing impression given is that Joyce's friends appear to be genuine, caring people but despite this, she still slipped through the emotional and physical net which binds humanity together.

The power of this film makes the loss almost as tangible to the audience as it must have felt to Martin. It reminds us that although time is often regarded as a great unhurried and invisible healer, it can also be corrosively destructive.

Plenty to contemplate here...
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Archipelago (2010)
8/10
Commendable British film which will not appeal to the majority.
27 March 2011
Archipelago is a most certainly a 'love it or hate it' film which sharply divides opinion. It's not every day you see a film set on the Scillies so it was a must see for me personally. I'd read both good and bad reviews before I saw it so knew largely what to expect and yes, I can understand why many find it difficult and slow with long still takes and angst ridden silences. Agree that the characters are hard to engage with or like and yes it's infuriating and overly pretentious at times.

However, because of, and not in spite of all these things, it ultimately succeeds in its portrayal of a very different type of dysfunctional family and brilliantly conveys the interactive awkwardness between the characters and there's quiet, suppressed comedy in the twaddle they speak.

It generates a unique and almost claustrophobic atmosphere, although being too raw in its lack of script. It's a reminder that wealth and privilege don't necessarily equate to inner happiness - in this case loneliness and bitterness pervade. I felt very slightly on edge throughout. If you have an open mind you will gain much from Archipelago which deserves but probably won't get a wider and more appreciative audience.
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