Mandrake has written 14 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • Never Let Me Go

    Never Let Me Go

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Spoiler that I'm going to ruin the book for you, in the sense of describing something a large number of people seem to miss, at least as far as some comments Kazuo Ishiguro has made about it:

    Seriously don't read if you might want to enjoy the book and figure it out for yourself...:







    So the characters have shorter lifespans that the average person because of their fate as organ donors.

    Kazuo has spoken about how part of the point…

  • Keanu

    Keanu

    A premise you don't realise you wanted or needed until you hear it, but then you hear about it and it's so obvious. The sign of a savvy writer.

    The movie though has one fatal, unforgivable flaw: not enough Keanu the cat.

  • Friends with Benefits

    Friends with Benefits

    There's some cringey window dressing (flash mob?) but more enjoyable than the average romantic flick. Doesn't push it's luck too far.

  • Layer Cake

    Layer Cake

    ★★★

    Volleying between thinking it's badly written and too earnestly plotted, then loving a smattering of scenes here and there, I've seen it four times so I must like it. Whishaw offers one of his chameleon turns which is always fun.

  • Goon: Last of the Enforcers

    Goon: Last of the Enforcers

    ★★★

    If you liked the first Goon, it's pretty enjoyable. Russell is a really good addition, and it's more of the glorious same with some superficial pandering to family values.

  • The Night Before

    The Night Before

    ★★★

    If 1 Crazy Night stories are their own genre, this is not a bad addition to it, more playful and less desperate than I expected. It was fun, good natured and has a better cast than most of these films do, especially when it's also Christmas movie, which are usually over eager attempts at wide appeal cashing in for the broadest spectrum of people to reach for it at the holidays. They could have done a lot more with the characters but it's an easy watch.

  • Quarantine

    Quarantine

    ★★★

    My complaint is old news: the original is better. For one thing, REC includes moments of genuine surprise from groups of the cast since there was one or two things they didn't know about while shooting, and that 'no acting' vibe worked great, and is the only difference between the two worth noting.

    REC and REC 2 were better and more chilling in the world building and horror concept, with deliberate narrative purpose that was a continuation of story instead…

  • Focus

    Focus

    ★★★

    Two of the most naturally talented actors in a muddy puddle of a movie. Cute but not memorable, you probably get a better product if you just dropped Smith and Robbie on the stage of Our Town and have them improv for two hours.

  • Black Mirror: Hated in the Nation

    Black Mirror: Hated in the Nation

    ★★★

    Really disliked in the UK, but didn't seem that bad really.

  • Snowden

    Snowden

    ★★★

    Gordon-Levitt has often been caught between the two status' peaks of Hollywood - A-list star vs prestige character actor. Often his character work has still been based around the particulars of his star persona, and many of the projects trying to exploit his personal It factor end up more idiosyncratic than vehicles usually are. I say that as a fan, he's never been bad in anything.

    Here JGL really gets out of his persona and embodies the part brilliantly. The…

  • What's Your Number?

    What's Your Number?

    ★★★

    Not quite enough irony for a story about a woman obsessed with not being able to respect herself if she nails even one more bloke.

    Having said that, if you like the cast, there's a lot to enjoy in the comic tangents; Quinto, McHale, Mackie and Samberg duet some delightful drive-bys, Pratt illustrates how funny he used to be, and Faris and Evans are equally matched in their natural funny bones.

  • Flight

    Flight

    ★★★

    The opening is great and Washington on top form, good enough for me to root for him winning that oscar, stiff competition be damned.

    The film itself though feels sloppy, a deflatedly plotted, near PSA about
    personal demons. On the one hand it was organically plotted for the story it wants to tell, so it's ironic I'd criticize when usually I'm the one who slams the formulaic, generic stuff and claim an urge to see something less predictable, but the journey felt weakly developed and sudden in it's closure, more like a TV movie.