"Everything you've heard is true."
"Everything you've heard is true."
D: Milos Forman
Orion (Saul Zaentz)
🇺🇸 1984
160 mins


W: Peter Shaffer [based on his play]
DP: Miroslav Ondricek
Ed: Nena Danevic & Michael Chandler
Mus: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (adapted by Neville Marriner)
PD: Patrizia Von Brandenstein
Cos: Theodor Pistek

F. Murray Abraham (Antonio Salieri), Tom Hulce (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Elizabeth Berridge (Constance Mozart), Simon Callow (Emanuel Schikander), Roy Dotrice (Leopoldo Mozart), Christine Ebersole (Katerina Cavalieri), Jeffrey Jones (Emperor Joseph II), Charles Kay (Count Orsini-Rosenberg)

Despite the title, Antonio Salieri takes centre stage in this biopic of the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told in flashback by his murderer as he ages in a mental asylum. F. Murray Abraham is excellent as tormented composer Salieri who is left both mesmerised and jealous by Mozart's manic genius.  Tom Hulce is also fantastic as the wild composer who even quotes himself as a vulgar man.  Both actors were nominated for Oscars but it was Abraham who took away the little gold man.
The movies assets include an excellent screenplay, periodically faithful production design, beautiful photography and lavish costumes. All wonderfully directed and packaged by Czech director Milos Forman.         
Only the American accents take it down a peg (although maybe it was best the cast did use their natural voices rather than butcher the Austrian accent).

D: Marc Webb
Columbia/Marvel Entertainment (Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad & Matt Tolmach)
🇺🇸 2012
136 mins
Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction
W: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent & Steve Kloves [based on the comic book characters created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko]
DP: John Schwartzmann
Ed: Alan Edward Bell & Pietro Scalia
Mus: James Horner
Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Rhys Ifans (Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard), Dennis Leary (Capt. George Stacy), Irfan Khan (Dr. Rajit Ratha), Martin Sheen (Ben Parker), Sally Field (May Parker)

It wouldn't be completely unfair to say that this continuation of the franchise, following the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, came out far too soon after that trilogy (2002-2007). It turns out that this reboot was rushed into production to save Disney acquiring the rights to the character after purchasing the rest of the Marvel characters for its cinematic universe, so it doesn't take a genius to figure that Hollywood studio greed was the main driving force and motivation here.

Doing-over the origin story, this tries to do opposites with what we've previously seen, but still manages to have way too many parallels, especially with replacing the character of Mary Jane Watson with Gwen Stacy as the love interest, Peter Parker acquiring and discovering his powers, the introduction of the villain, and Uncle Ben's inspirational quote ("With great power comes great responsibility"). 

Though the pacing here is quite ridiculously slow, there are enough action scenes to break up the mundanity and they're all done rather well, culminating in a showdown with the film's main villain (Lizard). Unfortunately, the film does have some major problems besides the pacing- as subplots and supporting characters seem to be dropped at random, the main villain is quite lazily written and Peter Parker is portrayed as a little too much of a rebel, before and after he gets his superpowers.

Summing it all up, it's not a terrible superhero movie or a poor Spider-Man movie, but it certainly came out far too soon and suffers in comparison to what's already been seen. 


D: Marc Webb
Columbia/Sony/Marvel Entertainment (Avi Arad & Matt Tolmach)
🇺🇸 2014
142 mins

Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction

W: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner & James Vanderbilt [based on the comic book characters created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko]
DP: Dan Mindel
Ed: Pietro Scalia
Mus: Hans Zimmer & The Magnificent Six 

Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Jamie Foxx (Max Dillon/Electro), Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborn/Green Goblin), Colm Feore (Donald Menken), Paul Giamatti (Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino), Sally Field (Aunt May Parker), Felicity Jones (Felicia), Campbell Scott (Richard Parker)

Released during a time when there's a complete over-saturation of superhero movies to the point where they're far from super as well being released way too soon after Sam Raimi's trilogy, this sequel to the rebooted "Amazing Spider-Man" franchise fails to rise above mediocrity on every single level. Poorly scripted and with more than a handful of incredibly ropey performances, this film is merely a series of illogical scenes which make no sense in context with the narrative and is nothing short of very lazy filmmaking.
Following on from familiar events, the plot continues with the on-off relationship of Peter Parker and his love interest (in this case Gwen Stacy) while a couple of bad guys arise so Spider-Man has somebody to fight with at the film's climax. This time it's super-charged Electro, played by Jamie Foxx (miscast), a loner Oscorp technician with an unhealthy obsession with the superhero and closer to the Riddler character from Batman than he really should be. The other villain is Harry Osborn/The Green Goblin, and if you've seen the previous Spider-Man films, there's nothing really different here and it's all just the same wash with a different shampoo.
The film is thrown together with no great skill, sorely lacking in drama and emotional build-up to the point that when the inevitable does finally happen it's very difficult to care.
Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 had some serious flaws, but looks a masterpiece besides this. If this is what the franchise has become, it's not worth pressing on with another film- although there will still be a market of die-hard fanboys and teenage boys to exploit. For everyone else, this falls way short of what should be expected from a big budget blockbuster.

D: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Momentum/UGC (Claudie Ossard)
🇫🇷 2001
116 mins


W: Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillarme Laurent
DP: Bruno Delbonnel
Ed: Herve Schneid
Mus: Yann Tiersen
PD: Aline Bonetto
Cos: Madeline Fontaine

Audrey Tautou (Amélie Poulain), Matthieu Kassovitz (Nino Quincampoix), Rufus (Raphael Poulain), Yolande Moreau (Madeleine Wallace), Artus Penguern (Hipolito); Urbain Cancellier (Collignom), Dominique Pinion (Joseph), Maurice Benichou (Bretodeau)

Audrey Tautou is absolutely fantastic in the title role of this French gem.
Amélie Poulain is a waitress in Montmartre, Paris. One evening, by complete chance, she discovers a young boy's box of childhood treasures.  She returns them to the estranged owner after a 40 year absence and she is overwhelmed with how her gesture touches his heart.  She vows henceforth to live a life where she does good unto others and plays matchmaker, inspirer and Good Samaritan to all those close to her life, but when she falls in love herself she doesn't quite know how to allow for her own happiness.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet injects his own personality into the film with vivid colours, quirky characters and some good humour (the globe-trotting gnome is priceless).  All the performances are great but it's Tautou who carries the entire film.  Yann Tiersen's great music also deserves a mention.
As the French would say: Le Petit Plaisir

"...look closer."
"...look closer."
D: Sam Mendes
Dreamworks (Dan Jinks & Bruce Cohen)
🇺🇸 1999
122 mins


W: Alan Ball
DP: Conrad L. Hall
Ed: Tariq Anwar & Christopher Greenbury
Mus: Thomas Newman
PD: Naomi Shohan
Cos: Julie Weiss

Kevin Spacey (Lester Burnham), Annette Bening (Carolyn Burnham), Thora Birch (Jane Burnham), Wes Bentley (Ricky Fitts), Mena Suvari (Angela Hayes), Chris Cooper (Colonel Fitts), Peter Gallacher (Buddy Kane), Allison Janney (Barbara Fitts), Scott Bakula (Jim Olmeyer), Sam Robards (Jim Berkley)

The title refers to a variety of rose which is beautiful to look at but rotten at the roots and the movie tagline invites us to 'look closer...'
American Beauty is a frank, humorous and ultimately depressing look at a dysfunctional suburban family.  Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, an office worker who lives with his wife and daughter and about to reach a midlife crisis in which he develops an inappropriate crush on his daughter's high school friend. He begins to smoke pot, drink beer at the dinner table and virtually do anything to alienate his wife, who, unbeknownst to Lester, is having an affair.  His daughter, meanwhile, is contemplating breast augmentation surgery and begins dating the drug dealer who lives next door with his military nut father and basket case mother.
The mixed bag of characters make this a brilliant drama and a suspenseful murder mystery which keeps you gripped, as it turns out that Lester is destined to die... But by whose hand???
Theatre director Sam Mendes made his film debut with this and did an excellent job, eventually winning the Best Director Oscar with this film, brimful with both intense and profound symbolism. Veteran cameraman Conrad L. Hall also contributes heavily to the drama with rich photography which give the movie a polished look of beauty despite it being about some rather grotesque characters.  A very intelligent movie and quite deservedly named the best film of 1999 at the Academy Awards, the Baftas and the Golden Globes.

D: Paul Weitz
Universal (Paul Weitz, Rodney Liber & Andrew Miano)
🇺🇸 2006
107 mins


W: Paul Weitz
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Myron Kerstein
Mus: Stephen Trask
PD: William Arnold

Hugh Grant (Martin Tweed), Dennis Quaid (President Joseph Staton), Mandy Moore (Sally Kendoo), Chris Klein (William Williams), Marcia Gay Harden (First Lady Staton), Jennifer Coolidge (Martha Kendoo)             

Supposedly a satire on both television talent shows such as American Idol & The X Factor and on US politics, which begs the question: who is this film supposed to appeal to?
The assumption must be that spelling the title with a Z is trying to appeal to a younger audience but the political references don't cater to them.
Hugh Grant plays a Simon Cowell-type judge on an entertainment programme to find the next new pop star and is joined by the US president (Quaid) as a guest judge. The whole thing is quite ridiculous and just seems to be a cash-in on TV shows which were popular at the time.  A movie with no longevity whatsoever.

D: Ridley Scott
Universal/Imagine/Scott Free/Relativity Media (Ridley Scott & Brian Grazer)
🇺🇸 2007
158 mins
W: Steven Zaillian
DP: Harris Savides
Ed: Pietro Scalia
Mus: Marc Streitenfeld
PD: Arthur Max
Denzel Washington (Frank Lucas), Russell Crowe (Richie Roberts), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Huey Lucas), Josh Brolin (Detective Trupo), Lymari Nadal (Eva), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Nicky Barnes), Armand Assante (Dominic Cassano), Ruby Dee (Mama Lucas)
1970's America; an ambitious detective fights to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin living a life of opulence in Manhattan, smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.
A rather simple story provides for one of the best gangster movies of recent years, striking similarities to both Carlito's Way and Goodfellas whilst still maintaining it's own story to tell (it's also nowhere near as good as Goodfellas, arguably the best of it's genre along with The Godfather saga).
Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe both deliver great performances and the direction is of the usual quality you'd associate with Ridley Scott.
Amongst the best films of 2007.
"Where were you in '62?"
"Where were you in '62?"
D: George Lucas
Universal/Lucasfilm/The Coppola Company (Francis Ford Coppola & Gary Kurtz)
🇺🇸 1973
110 mins


W: George Lucas, Gloria Katz & Willard Huyck
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Verna Fields & Marcia Lucas
PD: Dennis Clark
Cos: Aggie Guerard-Rodgers

Richard Dreyfuss (Curt), Ron Howard (Steve), Paul LeMat (John), Charles Martin Smith (Terry), Cindy Williams (Laurie), Candy Clark (Debbie), Mackenzie Phillips (Carol), Wolfman Jack (Wolfman Jack), Harrison Ford (Falfa), Bo Hopkins (Jo)

Where were you in '62?
American Graffiti charts the misadventures of four Californian teenagers on a summer night before the four friends part ways the next day to leave their town for their respective colleges.  
The movie was a landmark film of the 1970's and is a funny, bittersweet and moving tale of nostalgia, friendships, relationships and pop music, with a popular song playing in the background of each 'sketch'.
All four story vignettes hold their own weight but some are more enjoyable than others, it all depends which one you connect with, whether it's Richard Dreyfuss' Curt, trying to find the girl of his dreams; Ron Howard's Steve, spending one last night with his girlfriend and trying to decide the best way to break up with her; Paul LeMat's John, stuck babysitting a young teenage girl while a rival is trying to find him for a drag race; or Charles Martin Smith's Terry, entrusted to a classic car and geekily trying to pick up chicks and liquor in a rather pathetic rite towards manhood.
The film was made on a rather modest budget, but went on to become a huge box office success, grossing over $100 million in the United States alone.

"Some legacies must end."
"Some legacies must end."
D: Tony Kaye
New Line (John Morrissey)
🇺🇸 1998
118 mins
W: David McKenna
DP: Tony Kaye
Ed: Jerry Greenberg & Alan Heim
Mus: Anne Dudley
Edward Norton (Derek Vinyard), Edward Furlong (Danny Vinyard), Fairuza Balk (Stacey), Stacy Keach (Cameron Alexander), Elliott Gould (Murray), Avery Brooks (Dr. Bob Sweeney), Beverly D'Angelo (Doris Vinyard)
Edward Norton delivers his career best performance in this tense prison melodrama. He plays the leader of a Neo-Nazi gang, arrested and sentenced to a stint in prison after a vicious attack.  In prison, he begins to reform, while outside the walls his younger brother begins to follow in his fascist footsteps.
Shot in grainy black & white photography to carry a documentary-style feel, this film is very much carried by Edward Norton's excellent performance.  His screen presence alone is the very picture of hate and fascism, complete with a swastika tattoo emblazoned on his chest.  Unfortunately, a cop-out ending takes away much of the power of the message it's trying to convey.  It's still a very good film, but it really could have been better.

D: David O. Russell
Columbia/Annapurna/Atlas (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle & Megan Ellison)
🇺🇸 2013
138 mins


W: David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer
DP: Linus Sandgren
Ed: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers & Alan Baumgarten
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Judy Becker
Cos: Michael Wilkinson

Christian Bale (Irving Rosenfeld), Amy Adams (Sydney Prosser), Bradley Cooper (Richie DiMaso), Jeremy Renner (Carmine Polito), Jennifer Lawrence (Rosalyn Rosenfeld)

Some hustle as a way of life, some hustle for love, some hustle for respect, some hustle for truth, some hustle to survive.
American Hustle is a quintet of great performances, four of which are very special.
In this crime caper, Christian Bale (almost unrecognisable due to a bloated belly and questionable combover) is small-time grifter Irving Rosenfeld, who along with his mistress Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) con their way to a fair amount of cash until the Feds put the skids on their operation.
FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) then heads an operation, using their help, to entrap a group of politicians and senator who have ties to the mob, including well-intentioned mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) who is overseeing casino development in Atlantic City.
The only spanner in the works comes from Rosenfeld's ditzy bimbo wife, Rosslyn (a scene-stealing Jennifer Lawrence).
The plot sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is and aside from an opening sequence which comes from the middle of the narrative, it's a very simple story to follow, even though you're constantly wondering who's playing who.
Director David O. Russell captures the early 1970's period brilliantly, with perfect set decor, costumes, makeup & hairstyling and as I touched on earlier, the performances are brilliant. Jennifer Lawrence won a handful of awards for supporting actress but Amy Adams also deserved a share of the spoils in the lead actress category.  Robert DeNiro also pops up in a fine cameo as a mobster.
It's almost unbelievable that this film was nominated for 10 Oscars and left the ceremony empty-handed. Any other year this would have scooped quite a few awards, perhaps even Best Picture. It really is that good.

"It's not a crime if you're doing it for the good guys."
"It's not a crime if you're doing it for the good guys."


D: Doug Liman

Universal/Cross Creek/Imagine (Brian Grazer, Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson, Doug Davison & Kim Roth)

🇺🇸 2017

115 mins


W: Gary Spinelli

DP: Cesar Charlone 

Ed: Saar Klein, Andrew Mondshein & Dylan Tichenor

Mus: Christophe Beck

Tom Cruise (Barry Seal), Sarah Wright (Lucy Seal), Domhnall Gleeson (Monty Schafer), Alejandro Edda (Jorge Ochoa), Benito Martinez (James Rangel), Mauricio Mejia (Pablo Escabar)

When a film claims that it's based on true events, it's always fair to say that creative liberties have been taken, and this certainly isn't any different for this biopic of Barry Seal, an American airline pilot who earned a fair crust becoming a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel, of whom Pablo Escabar was a prominent member.

Early in the film Barry Seal is busted by a CIA agent for smuggling illegal cigars into the country and is subsequently propositioned into taking spy photographs for the US government. Whilst performing these duties, he is approached by cartel members who offer him vast amounts of wealth to deliver their narcotics into the United States. The rest of the film then becomes The Wolf Of Wall Street, with drug-running substituting stockbroking, especially with its presentation inclining more towards the comedy genre than drama.

The film is entertaining enough for its duration, and the 1970's are very well recreated by director Doug Liman (helming his first feature since 2002's The Bourne Identity). One minor gripe is with the casting of Tom Cruise in a lead role that Matthew McConaughey would have been much better suited for.


"In prison they are the law. On the streets they are power."
"In prison they are the law. On the streets they are power."
D: Edward James Olmos
Y.O.Y. (Sean Daniel, Robert M. Young & Edward James Olmos)
🇺🇸 1992
125 mins


W: Floyd Mutrux & Desmond Nakano
DP: Reynaldo Villalobos
Ed: Arthur Coburn & Richard Candib
Mus: Dennis Lambert & Claude Gaudette

Edward James Olmos (Montoya Santana), William Forsythe (J.D.), Pepe Serna (Mundo), Danny de La Paz (Puppet), Evelina Fernandez (Julie)

Brutally violent prison drama about a Mexican-American hoodlum who forms a gang while serving an 18-year stretch to protect fellow Mexicans from attacks from other inmates, becoming a kingpin behind prison walls.
Upon his release, he finds life difficult to acclimatise to, and soon finds himself back behind bars again.
The film gained notoriety for its brutal depiction of prison life, including a homosexual rape scene, and though the narrative is a little slow moving, the performance of Edward James Olmos is excellent.
The same writers returned to similar themes with Blood In, Blood Out (qv) released a year later. 

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
D: Paul Chart
Blue Dolphin/BBC (Irvin Kershner)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1997
99 mins
W: Paul Chart
DP: William Wages
Ed: Michael Russo
Mus: Simon Boswell
Robert Forster (Jake Nyman), Fairuza Balk (Alice Thomas), Amanda Plummer (Sandra Thomas), Paul Sorvino (Sheriff Frank Noonan), David Thewlis (Santini)
American Perfekt is a strange road movie with an even stranger title, drawing some  inspirations from Luke Reinhardt's novel The Dice Man.
Robert Forster plays a mysterious serial killer who makes his decisions based on the outcome of a coin toss. At a road side motel, he abducts a woman so he can show her what became of her missing sister.
Despite good performances and some eerie, atmospheric direction, it's not a particularly memorable film, but a decent debut from writer-director Paul Chart.

"There's something about your first piece."
"There's something about your first piece."
D: Paul Weitz
Universal (Warren Zide, Craig Perry, Chris Moore & Chris Weitz)
🇺🇸 1999
96 mins
W: Adam Herz
DP: Richard Crudo
Ed: Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Mus: David Lawrence
Jason Biggs (Jim Levenstein), Alyson Hannigan (Michelle Flaherty), Chris Klein (Chris Ostreicher), Tara Reid (Victoria Lathum), Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin Myers), Seann William Scott (Steve Stifler), Mena Suvari (Heather Gardner), Eddie Kaye Thomas (Paul Finch), Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia), Eugene Levy (Noah Levenstein)
A bunch of dickhead high school students make a vow to lose their virginity before they graduate.  One of them fucks a pie. Because he is a moron.
This movie was done a lot better in 1982 when it was called Porky's. It was immensely popular however, riding on the crest of a wave when gross-out comedies were all the rage.  It's success doesn't stop it from being puerile, over-sexed nonsense.             

"This summer it's all about sticking together."
"This summer it's all about sticking together."
D: J.B. Rogers
Universal (Warren Zide, Craig Perry & Chris Moore)
🇺🇸 2001
105 mins
W: Adam Herz
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Larry Madras & Stuart Pappe
Mus: David Lawrence
Jason Biggs (Jim Levenstein), Alyson Hannigan (Michelle Flaherty), Chris Klein (Chris Ostreicher), Tara Reid (Victoria Lathum), Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin Myers), Seann William Scott (Steve Stifler), Mena Suvari (Heather Gardner), Eddie Kaye Thomas (Paul Finch), Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia), Eugene Levy (Noah Levenstein)
The cast from the first movie are back (probably by contractual obligation) in another pie which uses the exact same recipe, only this time the horny high school dickheads are on a spring break.  The characters still spend the entire movie thinking with their cocks and acting like complete and utter knobs. 
It would be unfair to say this is better or worse than the first movie because they're both incredibly overrated, except this sequel smells like a blatant cash-in.

D: Jesse Dylan
Universal (Warren Zide, Craig Perry, Chris Moore, Adam Herz & Chris Bender)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2003
96 mins


W: Adam Herz
DP: Lloyd Ahern
Ed: Stuart Pappé
Mus: Christophe Beck

Jason Biggs (Jim Levenstein), Alyson Hannigan (Michelle Flaherty), Seann William Scott (Steve Stifler), January Jones (Cadence Flaherty), Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin Myers), Eddie Kaye Thomas (Paul Finch), Eugene Levy (Noah Levenstein), Fred Willard (Harold Flaherty)

A surprising improvement on the first two movies which changes the formula somewhat and redeems itself from it's prequels by having some of the characters grow up and not acting like idiots for the entirety of the running time (this cannot be said of Seann William Scott's character though).
Jim & Michelle from the first two movies are deeply in love and are making plans to wed. However, their wedding invites do not include Stifler (Seann William Scott) because he always makes a dick of himself.  This doesn't stop him gatecrashing though.
It's still puerile nonsense, but at least this one squeezes in a decent amount of laughs instead of ridiculous jokes about blow jobs or sticking your dick in an apple pie.

D: Steve Rash
Universal (Mike Elliott)
🇺🇸 2005
87 mins
W: Brad Riddell
Mus: Robert Folk
Tad Hilgenbrinck (Matt Stifler), Arielle Kebbel (Elyse Houston), Eugene Levy (Noah Levenstein), Chris Owen (Chuck Sherman), Matt Barr (Brandon Vandecamp)         
Straight to DVD sequel which loses all the original cast (except for Eugene Levy, who must really need the money) and follows Steve Stifler's cousin as he spends a summer at Band Camp so he can spy on girls getting undressed and act like a general douchebag.
There is absolutely no reason for this to be an American Pie film.  Obviously the producers had no faith in the project and therefore had to precede the title with "American Pie presents", it didn't help the film to get a theatrical run though. What does that tell you?

"Killer looks."
"Killer looks."
D: Mary Harron
Lions Gate/Muse (Edward R. Pressman, Chris Hanley, Christian Hanley Solomon)
🇺🇸 🇨🇦 2000
101 mins


W: Mary Harron & Guinevere Turner [based on the novel by Brett Easton Ellis]
DP: Andrzej Sekula
Ed: Andrew Marcus
Mus: John Cale
PD: Gideon Ponte

Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman), Willem Dafoe (Donald Kimball), Jared Leto (Paul Allen), Reese Witherspoon (Evelyn Williams), Samantha Mathis (Courtney Rawlinson), Chloe Sevigny (Jean)

This adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis' cult novel loses much of the sadistic black humour which made it a compelling read but doesn't do a bad job bringing to screen what must have been a difficult book to adapt due to it's violent content.
Christian Bale is fantastic as Patrick Bateman, a successful Wall Street broker who descends into psychosis as a result of his unhealthy obsessions.         
A satire on consumerism, greed and promiscuity which shouldn't be taken altogether too seriously. The whole thing is the sick fantasy of a madman.

"The most lethal sniper in US history."
"The most lethal sniper in US history."


D: Clint Eastwood
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Mad Chance/Malpaso (Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Peter Morgan & Bradley Cooper)
🇺🇸 2014
132 mins
W: Jason Hall [based on the book by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen & Jim DeFelice]
DP: Tom Stern
Ed: Joel Cox & Gary D. Roach
Bradley Cooper (Chris Kyle), Sienna Miller (Taya Kyle), Luke Grimes (Marc Lee), Jake McDorman (Ryan 'Biggles' Job), Corey Hardrict (Dandridge)
Firstly, I'm gonna start by saying that this is a film review, so I'm going to keep try and keep politics out of this as far as I can. There's still conflict ongoing in the Middle East and it's a very contentious subject about the validity of US involvement. This is a film review, nothing more and nothing less.
American Sniper has many similarities with 2009's The Hurt Locker, though the latter follows a bomb disposal ace during his tour of duty whilst the former concentrates on, well, it doesn't take a genius.
This biopic of Chris Kyle does get the Hollywood treatment with a rather heavy dose of patriotism and does take liberty with some of the facts, but it has to be said that Bradley Cooper does a fantastic job portraying the Texan marksman. The story follows Kyle's life, from his strict upbringing to his brief stint as a rodeo cowboy. He soon enlists with the Marines and following the events of 9/11 sets his sights, quite literally, on protecting his military brothers.
The transformation of Kyle's character as the film goes in is what holds the drama, as he becomes less of a man, husband, father and more a soulless, killing automaton before he finally does something he never bargained on. Quitting.
Cooper's performance carries this movie, but the supporting cast are also great, especially Sienna Miller, with a surprisingly good performance.
There will be some who think this glorifies violence, war or is merely an American version of the film within a film in Inglorious Basterds, but this is a genuine work of craft from director Clint Eastwood, with tense action scenes punctuated with atmospheric photography, editing and sound which thrust you into the heat of the battle and the dilemma of the man behind the sniper sights every time he has make the decision of whether or not to pull the trigger.
On another note, there was some rather harsh criticism around the time of release about the use of a plastic baby prop in a couple of scenes. Yes, it does look pretty bad if you're eagle-eyed enough to spot it, but it's still more convincing that the CGI baby in Twilight.

"At last, a comic book hero we can all relate to."
"At last, a comic book hero we can all relate to."
D: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Optimum (Ted Hope)
🇺🇸 2003
101 mins
W: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini [based on the comic books "American Splendor" and "Our Cancer Year" by Harvey Pekar & Joyce Brabner]
DP: Terry Stacey
Ed: Robert Pulcini
Mus: Mark Suozzo
Paul Giamatti (Harvey Pekar), Harvey Pekar (himself), Shari Springer Berman (Interviewer), Earl Billings (Mr. Boats), James Urbaniak (Robert Crumb), Judah Friedlander (Toby Radloff), Toby Radloff (himself), Hope Davis (Joyce Brabner)
American Splendor is a comic book movie without the usual superheroes in flowing capes yet still manages to be a quirky and enjoyable work.
The main character, Harvey Pekar, is just an ordinary man with nerdy interests and a menial job as a clerk in a hospital, but he went on to become a famous comic strip author of events based on his life.
While not being a movie which would appeal to the general comic book market it's an inventive and originally witty film for fans of a more independent market. Similarities could possibly be made to 2001's Ghost World, but this film is altogether a more entertaining watch.

D: Don Bluth
Universal (Don Bluth, John Pomeroy & Gary Goldman)
🇺🇸 1986
80 mins
W: Judy Friedberg & Tony Geiss
Mus: James Horner; Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
voices of: Philip Glasser (Fievel Mousekewitz), Amy Green (Tanya Mousekewitz), Cathianne Blore (Bridget), Christopher Plummer (Henri), Dom DeLuise (Tiger), Madeliene Kahn (Gussie Mausheimer)
Cute animated feature about a group of Russian mice who emigrate to the United States in the 1880's.
The story is quite uninteresting and the film generally wouldn't appeal to anyone over the age of 12.
The theme song "Somewhere Out There" gave the movie a little bit of longevity but it's all rather unremarkable. A sequel followed in 1991.

"Look out pardners, there's a new mouse in town!"
"Look out pardners, there's a new mouse in town!"
D: Phil Nibbelink & Simon Wells
UIP/Universal/Amblin (Steven Spielberg & Robert Watts)
🇺🇸 1991
75 mins
W: Flint Dille
Mus: James Horner
voices of: Phillip Glasser (Fievel Mousekewitz), James Stewart (Wylie Burp), Cathy Cavadini (Tanya Mousekewitz), Dom DeLuise (Tiger), John Cleese (Cat R. Waul)
The mouse from the first movie is tricked by a cat to move to the Wild West.
Average sequel to a rather average movie.  Good entertainment for anyone under 12, but anyone older would have seen it all before.
Film enthusiasts may wish to note the vocal performance of James Stewart was amongst his last contributions to cinema, but it's not really befitting an actor of so many talents.

D: John Landis
Universal/PolyGram/Lycanthrope (George Folsey, Jr.)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1981
93 mins


W: John Landis
DP: Robert Paynter
Ed: Malcolm Campbell
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
PD: Leslie Dilley
Cos: Deborah Nadoolman
Makeup: Rick Baker

David Naughton (David Kessler), Griffin Dunne (Jack Goodman), Jenny Agutter (Alex Price), John Woodvine (Dr. Hirsch), Brian Glover (Chess Player), David Schofield (Darts Player), Lila Kaye (Barmaid), Paul Kember (Sgt. McManus), Don McKillop (Inspector Villiers), Frank Oz (Mr. Collins), Rik Mayall

While hiking through the English moors, two American college students, Jack & David, happen across 'The Slaughtered Lamb' pub in an isolated village.  The pub patrons eccentric behaviour unnerves them and they disappear into the night only to be attacked by a wolf-like creature which kills Jack and wounds David.
Recovering in a London hospital, David is befriended by an attractive nurse - and visited by his undead friend Jack, who warns him of his fate to become a werewolf come the next full moon and must therefore kill himself to end the curse.
This horror classic was a trendsetter in terms of both makeup effects and creature design, becoming the first film to win an Oscar for Best Makeup in a newly formed competitive category.  Makeup man Rick Baker went on to have an incredibly successful career creating makeup and visual effects for a hatful of films over the course of a quarter of a century.
An American Werewolf In London works on both levels in the comedy and horror genres due to excellent scripting, structured characters and unpretentious direction and appeals well to fans of either genre. 
The chemistry between David Naughton & Jenny Agutter works incredibly well and adds to an incredibly touching ending which also proves that Jenny Agutter was a fantastic British actress.
A sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, was made in 1996, but was viewed as a dismal failure which lacked teeth.

D: Anthony Waller
Stonewood/Hollywood/Cornerstone (Richard Claus)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇫🇷 🇱🇺 1997
98 mins
W: Tim Burns, Tom Stern & Anthony Waller
DP: Egon Werdin
Ed: Peter R. Adam
Mus: Wilbert Hirsch
Tom Everett Scott (Andy McDermott), Julie Delpy (Serafine Pigot), Vince Vieluf (Brad), Phil Buckman (Chris), Julie Bowen (Amy Finch)
A remake rather than a sequel to An American Werewolf In London, lacking the black comedy that made the original movie such a treat to watch.
Physical makeup effects are also replaced by CGI beasties which are about as menacing as a Bichon Frise puppy.
All in all, a pointless exercise which fails to engage fans of the first film or develop a new audience for this one.

D: Joe Roth
Columbia (Billy Crystal, Susan Arnold & Donna Arkoff Roth)
🇺🇸 2001
102 mins


W: Billy Crystal & Peter Tolan
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Stephen A. Rotter
Mus: James Newton Howard
Cos: Ellen Mirojnick & Jeffrey Kurland

Julia Roberts (Kiki Harrison), Billy Crystal (Lee Phillips), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Gwen Harrison), John Cusack (Eddie Thomas), Hank Azaria (Hector), Stanley Tucci (Dave Kingman), Christopher Walken (Hal Weidmann)

As a PR stunt, two feuding film stars fake a relationship in order to promote their latest movie.
What starts as a promising satire of Hollywood and it's celebrity culture ends up being quite narcissistic, self-referential and takes itself way too seriously.  The enjoyment factor depends heavily on how much you care about celebrities and their personal business.
Considering the talent involved in this movie, it was a hugely missed opportunity. (It's almost too obvious that studio involvement ruined this)

D: Steven Spielberg
Dreamworks/HBO (Steven Spielberg, Debbie Allen & Colin Wilson)
🇺🇸 1997
152 mins


W: David Franzoni & Steven Zaillian
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Rick Carter
Cos: Ruth E. Carter

Morgan Freeman (Theodore Joadson), Matthew McConaughey (Roger Baldwin), Djimon Hounsou (Cinque), Nigel Hawthorne (Martin Van Buren), Anthony Hopkins (John Quincy Adams), David Paymer (US Secretary Of State John Forsyth), Pete Posthelthwaite (Holabird), Stellan Skarsgard (Lewis Tappan), Anna Paquin (Queen Isabella), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Ensign Covey)

A Spielberg history lesson, traversing the line between fact and entertainment value.
Prior to the abolishment of slavery, a group of captives mutineer a ship off the coast of Cuba and subsequently face trial in the US, where young, ambitious lawyer Matthew McConaughey must prove that they are of African origin and victims of illegal slave trade.
Much like the director's 2012 film Lincoln (qv), Amistad tells us much what we already know; slavery was an evil practice.
There's a handful of excellent performances, especially Djimon Hounsou as the slave who received the most of the focus in the film and Anthony Hopkins as former US president John Quincy Adams. The cinematography, production design and costumes are of the usual high standard you expect from a Spielberg movie, the biggest problem is that there's much preaching over a subject which hasn't been an important issue for the best part of a century, although, perhaps it's a subject which ought to be learned so that the dark history will never repeat itself. There's much better films which tackle the same subject though.

D: Stuart Rosenberg
AIP/Cinema 77 (Ronald Saland & Elliot Geisinger)
🇺🇸 1979
118 mins


W: Sandor Stern [based on the book by Jay Anson]
DP: Fred J. Koenecamp
Ed: Robert Brown
Mus: Lalo Schifrin

Josh Brolin (George Lutz), Margot Kidder (Kathleen Lutz), Rod Steiger (Father Delaney), Don Stroud (Father Bolen), Murray Hamilton

When the movie was originally released there was much mystery surrounding the book it was based upon, supposedly about factual events which happened at the Long Island house in the 1970's.
Newlywed couple George & Kathy move into the property with their two young children and dog and over their short stay experienced strange manifestations of evil which drove them away.  Unfortunately, the power of the film is lessened by the admission that the Lutzes fabricated the entire story to avoid bankruptcy.
Still, the film has moments of genuine terror, punctuated by Lalo Schifrin's deliciously eerie music. Rod Steiger's ridiculously over the top performance, however, injects some unintentional comedy.  The house itself remains a creepy character of horror cinema.

D: Damiano Damiani
Dino de Laurentiis/Orion (Ira N. Smith & Stephen R. Greenwald)
🇺🇸 1982
104 mins


W: Tommy Lee Wallace [based on the book 'Murder In Amityville' by Hans Holzer]
DP: Franco DiGiacomo
Ed: Sam O'Steen
Mus: Lalo Schifrin

Burt Young (Anthony Montelli), Rutyana Alda (Dolores Montelli), Jack Magner (Sonny Montelli), Diane Franklin (Patricia Montelli), James Olson (Father Frank Adamsky)

It's almost unbelievable that this second installment of the Amityville movies has more basis in fact than it's predecessor.
This prequel follows the events which led up to the Amityville house becoming 'haunted', when a young man slaughtered his family as they slept and then blamed it on demonic possession.
It's easy to see which parts are exaggerated and the dialogue and performances are rather embarrassing, but as far as sequels/prequels go, it certainly isn't atrociously bad, especially when compared to those which followed.

"Evil never dies"
"Evil never dies"
D: Steve White
Promark/Spectacor/Zeta (Zane W. Levitt, Mark Yellen & Steve White)
🇺🇸 1996
93 mins
W: Joshua Michael Stern
DP: Tom Callaway
Ed: Kert Vandermuelen
Mus: Ray Colcord
Robin Thomas (Bill Martin), Starr Andreeff (Claire Martin), Allen Cutler (Todd Martin), Rachel Duncan (Jessica Martin), Franc Ross (Tobias), Lisa Robin Kelly (Dana)
The seventh film of the series sees the evil curse from the Amityville house manifest itself in a child's dollhouse.
It's best not to think of why someone would even build a dollhouse replica of a supposedly haunted Long Island house, nevermind how it became filled with evil spirits. The screenwriters and director never gave it a second thought and neither should the audience. 

D: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu
Optimum/Zeta Film/Altavista (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu)
🇲🇽 2000
154 mins
W: Guillermo Arriaga
DP: Rodrigo Prieto
Ed: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Luis Carballar & Fernando Perez Unda
Mus: Gustavo Santaolalla
Emilio Echevarria (El Chivo), Gael Garcia Bernal (Octavio), Goya Toledo (Valeria), Alvaro Guerrero (Daniel), Vanessa Bauche (Susana), Jorge Salinas (Luis), Marco Perez (Ramiro)
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's Amores Perros is right up there with City Of God (Cidade de Deus) as one of the best foreign language movies of the 21st century.
Whilst City of God was hailed as Brazil's answer to Goodfellas, Amores Perros has to be considered Mexico's version of Pulp Fiction.
A car accident is the focal point of three different but interlinked stories, the first of which featuring two feuding brothers, one who robs drugstores for cash, while the other gets involved with a dog-fighting syndicate.
The second story involves a model who was a victim in the car accident linking the trio of tales. As she learns to adapt to a wheelchair-bound life, her pet dog finds his way stuck underneath the floorboards of her house, unable to escape causing an argument between the crippled beauty and her lover, who is reluctant to tear up the floorboards to rescue it (it's more interesting than it sounds).
The third story involves a vagrant who looks after stray dogs, hired to carry out a professional killing, but has a change of heart when he takes in a fighting dog involved in the first of the trio of stories.
The middle of the three stories is the weakest of the trio, but the first and third installments are absolutely gripping.  The dog fighting scenes are quite savage and the direction is flawless. This film is quite simply Mexico's finest export of the year 2000.

"When you can't breathe you can't scream."
"When you can't breathe you can't scream."
D: Luis Llosa
Columbia/Cinema Line (Verna Harrah, Leonard Rabinowitz & Carole Little)
🇺🇸 🇧🇷 1997
89 mins
W: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr.
DP: Bill Butler
Ed: Michael R. Miller
Mus: Randy Edelman
PD: Kirk M. Petruccelli
Jennifer Lopez (Terri Flores), Ice Cube (Danny Rich), Jon Voight (Paul Sarone), Eric Stoltz (Dr. Steven Cale), Jonathan Hyde (Warren Westridge), Owen Wilson (Gary Dixon), Kari Wuhrer (Denise Kalberg)
Following the same formula as Jaws, a team of anthropologists/documentary filmmakers go looking for a tribe of Indians in the Amazon rainforest and become the prey of a giant killer snake instead.
A bad movie which is watchable for all the wrong reasons, especially the ropey special effects and the unintentionally laughable performance of Jon Voight, a once fine actor committing career suicide by portraying a Venezuelan snake-hunter.
Sequels followed, somehow managing to be even worse.

"You try telling him his 50 minutes are up."
"You try telling him his 50 minutes are up."
D: Harold Ramis
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/Baltimore/Spring Creek/Face/Tribeca (Paula Weinstein & Jane Rosenthal)
🇺🇸 1999
103 mins
W: Peter Tolan & Kenneth Lonergan
DP: Stuart Dryburgh
Ed: Christopher Tellefsen
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Wynn Thomas
Robert DeNiro (Paul Vitti), Billy Crystal (Dr. Ben Sobel), Lisa Kudrow (Laura MacNamara Sobel), Joe Viterelli (Jelly), Chazz Palminteri (Primo Sidone), Bill Macy (Isaac Sobel)
It's quite fun to watch DeNiro send himself up as an ageing gangster with anxiety attacks who blackmails white collar psychiatrist Billy Crystal to be his doctor.  The laughs run out before the end of the movie when it becomes quite stale and predictable. Still, it has moments of genuine laughs and some good performances from it's two lead actors.
A more serious version of the plot was used in the TV series "The Sopranos", airing the same year. Though similarities were roundly mocked in the second season of the show.

D: Harold Ramis
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/Baltimore/Spring Creek/Face/Tribeca (Paula Weinstein & Jane Rosenthal)
🇺🇸 🇦🇺 2002
96 mins


W: Peter Steinfeld, Harold Ramis & Peter Tolan [based on characters created by Peter Tolan & Kenneth Lonergan]
DP: Ellen Kuras
Ed: Andrew Mondshein
Mus: David Holmes
PD: Wynn Thomas

Robert DeNiro (Paul Vitti), Billy Crystal (Dr. Ben Sobel), Lisa Kudrow (Laura Sobel), Joe Viterelli (Jelly), Cathy Moriarty (Patti LoPresti)

A needless sequel with hit & miss jokes.
Robert DeNiro's ageing gangster, Paul Vitti, fakes a mental breakdown in prison so he can be released into the custody of his neurotic psychiatrist against his will.
It's by no means an awful film, but just seems like a cash-in on the moderate success of the first movie. Watch The Sopranos instead.

D: Anatole Litvak
20th Century Fox (Buddy Adler)
🇬🇧 1956
105 mins


W: Arthur Laurents [based on the play by Marcelle Maurette & Guy Bolton]
DP: Jack Hildyard
Ed: Bert Bates
Mus: Alfred Newman
PD: Andrei Andreiev & Bill Andrews
Cos: Rene Hubert

Ingrid Bergman (Anastasia), Yul Brynner (Bounine), Helen Hayes (Empress), Martita Hunt (Baroness Von Livenbaum), Akim Tamiroff (Chernov), Felix Aylmer (Chamberlain), Ivan Desny (Prince Paul)

In 1920's Paris, a group of exiled Russians claim to have found the living daughter of Russia's last Czar, presumed executed in 1918, but the claimant is a fake.
Ingrid Bergman delivers one of her career best performances which saw her make a return to the screens of Hollywood following a scandal which saw her ostracised in the 1940's, eventually winning a deserved Oscar for her work (which also made her feel welcome in Hollywood again, following her affair with director Roberto Rossellini).
It's all quite schoolbook history, but it's one of them films from Hollywood's golden age which has to be watched, if only once.

D: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman
20th Century Fox (Don Bluth & Gary Goldman)
🇺🇸 1997
94 mins
W: Susan Gautheir, Bruce Graham, Bob Tzudiker & Noni White [based on the play by Marcelle Maurette & Guy Bolton]
Mus: David Newman; Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens
voices of: Meg Ryan (Anya/Anastasia), John Cusack (Dimitri), Kelsey Grammer (Vladimir), Christopher Lloyd (Rasputin), Angela Lansbury (Grand Duchess Marie), Hank Azaria (Bartok), Bernadette Peters (Sophie), Kirsten Dunst (Young Anastasia)
Jumbled animated version of the story of a young girl claiming to be the long-lost daughter of Tsar Nicholas.
The story is a bit of a mess, combining elements and characters from other stories (the villain in this is Rasputin for some reason) and making it all a bit incoherent, but youngsters will find the anachronisms easy to ignore.  The songs can be a little too twee on occasion, but there's a couple of decent ones which fit in with the general theme of the film.
Good entertainment for kids, but it's unlikely to be appreciated too much by anyone over 13.

D: Otto Preminger
Columbia (Otto Preminger)
🇺🇸 1959
160 mins


W: Wendell Mayes [based on the novel by Robert Traver]
DP: Sam Leavitt
Ed: Louis Loeffler
Mus: Duke Ellington

James Stewart (Paul Diegler), Lee Remick (Laura Manion), Ben Gazzara (Lt. Frederick Manion), Arthur O'Connell (Parnell McCarthy), Eve Arden (Maida), Kathryn Grant (Mary Pilant), Joseph N. Welch (Judge Weaver), George C. Scott (Claude Dancer), Brooks West (Mitch Lodwick), Murray Hamilton (Alphonse Paquette)

Otto Preminger's excellent courtroom drama caused a huge sensation when originally released in 1959, using words like "rape", "panties" and "spermatogenesis" which were unheard in cinema screens during the time.
Based on actual events, James Stewart's district attorney turned defending lawyer takes on a case where his chances of success seem small. A former US soldier faces a murder charge following a bartenders sexual assault on his wife, and with two corporate hotshot lawyers standing for the prosecution, Stewart uses courtroom histrionics, verbal tennis and lawful lingo to sway the jury to his benefit, aiming for an acquittal for reasons of "temporary insanity" on behalf of his client.
At 160 minutes, the film is a little overlong, but not a moment needs to be cut. The first hour builds up the bare bones of the case, while the mystery of events unfolds in the courtroom scenes overseen by the pedantic Judge Weaver (a great performance from real-life judge Joseph N. Welch). 
Without the aid of flashback scenes, the ambiguity of Lt. Manion's innocence adds even more to the drama, and with Stewart in such fine form, you can't help but hope that he is the lawyer on the victorious side.
There's a couple of goofs in the filmmaking execution which prevent this excellent film from attaining a perfect score (the opening scene has a shadow of the camera crew caused by long shadows), but the frank dialogue and dramatic courtroom scenes makes this an absolute must-see.

"They bring you the news so you don't have to get it yourself."
"They bring you the news so you don't have to get it yourself."
D: Adam McKay
Dreamworks (Judd Apatow)
🇺🇸 2004
94 mins
W: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay
DP: Thomas Ackerman
Ed: Brent White
Mus: Alex Wurman
PD: Clayton R. Hartley
Will Ferrell (Ron Burgundy), Christina Applegate (Veronica Corningstone), Paul Rudd (Brian Fantana), Steve Carell (Brick Tamland), David Koechner (Champ Kind), Fred Willard (Ed Harken)
A mostly-fictionalised comedy biopic of an outspoken, flamboyant newsreader who came to prominence in the 1970's and his feuding relationship (working and personal) with a female co-anchor.
It's easily Will Ferrell's best and funniest performance to date and he's helped by a great supporting cast including Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate plus several cameo appearances from actors such as Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller & Jack Black.
It is incredibly silly in parts, but it makes up for that with the fact that the funny bits are absolutely hilarious. Even those who aren't fans of the comedians involved should give this one a chance.

D: Adam McKay
Paramount (Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell & Adam McKay)
🇺🇸 2013
119 mins
W: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay
DP: Oliver Wood 
Ed: Brent White & Melissa Bretherton
Mus: Andrew Felterstein
Will Ferrell (Ron Burgundy), Christina Applegate (Veronica Corningstone), Paul Rudd (Brian Fantana), Steve Carell (Brick Tamland), David Koechner (Champ Kind)
The first Anchorman film was one of the surprise hits of 2004, featuring several hilarious moments and is amongst the best works of Will Ferrell.                  
Inspired by a true story of a flamboyant newsreader in the 1970's. A sequel was inevitable, and, as far as sequels go, it really isn't that bad, in fact, some moments are just as funny as the first film.
Fired from his original network and separated from his co-host wife, news anchor Ron Burgundy is struggling to hold down a job, until he is approached by a producer of an upcoming 24-hour news channel which requires his services. 
He assembles his old crew of Brian Fantana, Champ Kind and Brick Tamland and together they win over the ratings war by making up news they think people would want to hear (including smoking crack on air).
Meanwhile, Burgundy fights a custody battle with his separated wife for his son and embarks on an affair with his African-American female producer, leading to a rather embarrassing dinner with her family where he speaks in racial stereotypes.
There are a few jokes which are more embarrassing than they are funny, but there's more than enough good jokes to make up for that.
The film descends into a series of celebrity cameos in the final moments and becomes all a bit silly, but if it's seriousness you're after, you wouldn't get that far into the movie.
Overall, it's not as good as the first film, but is still a decent enough sequel and worth watching if you enjoyed the original.
D: George Sidney
MGM (Joe Pasternak)
🇺🇸 1945
139 mins


W: Isobel Lennart
DP: Robert Planck & Charles Boyle
Ed: Adrienne Fazan
Mus: George Stoll; Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn 
PD: Cedric Gibbons
Cos: Irene

Frank Sinatra (Clarence Doolittle), Gene Kelly (Joseph Brady), Kathryn Grayson (Susan Abbott), Jose Iturbi (himself), Carlos Ramirez (Carlos), Dean Stockwell (Donald Martin)

Old-fashioned musical about two sailors on leave which was done much better in On The Town a few years later.         
This is rather unremarkable and doesn't really justify it's lengthy running time.  It's worth watching simply for it's iconic scene; Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry The Mouse.  It was one of the first movies to integrate live action with animation which became more prevalent over the course of cinema history.  A trendsetter, but nothing too special.

D: Ian MacNaughton
Columbia/Kettledrum/Python (Patricia Casey) 
🇬🇧 1971
88 mins


W: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones & Michael Palin
DP: David Muir
Ed: Thom Noble

Graham Chapman (various characters) John Cleese (various characters), Terry Gilliam (various characters), Eric Idle (various characters), Terry Jones (various characters), Michael Palin (various characters)          

Monty Python's first cinematic outing lacks narrative structure and is merely a collection of sketches from the comedy troupe's BBC TV show, intended to introduce American audiences to their brand of humour, incredibly unique at the time. 
For fans of Python, or even those who are curious about Python, this is a must-watch. It has very little to offer to anyone else.

D: Rene Clair
20th Century Fox (Harry M. Popkin)
🇺🇸 1945
97 mins
W: Dudley Nichols [based on the novel "Ten Little Niggers" by Agatha Christie]
DP: Lucien Andriot
Ed: Harvey Manger
Mus: Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco
PD: Ernst Fegte
Walter Huston (Dr. Armstrong), Barry Fitzgerald (Judge Quincannon), Louis Hayward (Philip Lombard), Roland Young (Blore), June Duprez (Vera Claythorne), C. Aubrey Smith (General Mandrake), Judith Anderson (Emily Brent), Mischa Auer (Prince Starloff), Richard Haydn (Rogers), Queenie Leonard (Mrs. Rogers)
Classic whodunit based on a novel by Agatha Christie in which 10 strangers are invited to a remote island off the coast of England by a faceless host only to discover that their assembly has a more ominous plan in store, as one by one they are murdered and point fingers at each other in a state of paranoia with no means of escape from the island.
The idea has been done since, but nowhere near as good as this brilliant original, with atmospheric photography and sets, tense direction by Rene Clair, an array of brilliant performances and a story which always keeps the viewer second guessing.              

D: Tony Cookson
Trimark/Panorama (Just Betzer)
🇺🇸 1991
92 mins


W: Tony Cookson
DP: Paul Elliott
Ed: Michael Ornstein
Mus: Randy Miller

Marcia Stressman (Sarah), Joshua John Miller (Joshua), Eden Gross (Max), Alan Thicke (voice of Matthew)

Two teenage inventors create a robot which becomes possessed with the spirit and voice of their dead father.
A rather humdrum family comedy with some huge dollops of sentiment during the end. It unsurprisingly went straight to video in the UK.

"Much more than human."
"Much more than human."
D: Aaron Lipstadt
New World (Mary Ann Fisher)
🇺🇸 1982
80 mins
Science Fiction 
W: James Reigle & Don Opper
DP: Tim Suhrstedt
Mus: Don Preston
Klaus Kinski (Dr. Daniel), Brie Howard (Maggie), Norbert Weisser (Keller), Don Opper (Max 404), Crofton Hardester (Mendes), Kendra Kirschner (Cassandra)
In 2036, a police transport vehicle is hijacked in deep space. The scientists on board, some of them androids, react in various ways.
Cheap-looking science fiction, straight from the filmmaking school of Roger Corman.  Despite its financial limitations, it has a rather good story and some decent performances.

D: Robert Wise
Universal (Robert Wise)
🇺🇸 1971
131 mins
Science Fiction/Thriller
W: Nelson Gidding [based on the novel by Michael Crichton]
DP: Richard H. Kline
Ed: Stuart Gilmore
Mus: Gil Melle
PD: Boris Leven
Arthur Hill (Dr. Jeremy Stone), David Wayne (Dr. Charles Dutton), James Olson (Dr. Mark Hall), Kate Reid (Dr. Ruth Leavitt), Paula Kelly (Karen Anson)
Based on arguably Michael Crichton's most serious work, a group of scientists are involved in a race against time to stop a virus which has infected a small village and claimed the lives of it's inhabitants. 
It's amongst the best movies about potentially unstoppable viruses and is much better than most of the disaster movies lauded around in the 1970's.

D: Alan Parker
Tristar/Carolco (Alan Marshall & Elliot Kastner)
🇺🇸 1987
109 mins


W: Alan Parker [based on the novel 'Fallen Angel' by William Hjortsberg]
DP: Michael Seresin
Ed: Gerry Hambling
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: Brian Morris

Mickey Rourke (Harry Angel), Robert DeNiro (Louis Cypher), Lisa Bonet (Epiphany Proudfoot), Charlotte Rampling (Margaret Krusemark)

New York, 1955. Harry Angel (Rourke) is hired for $125 a day to track down the big band singer Johnny Favorite. 
What seems like a straightforward missing persons case dramatically becomes a murder hunt for the down-and-out detective. 
His client, Louis Cyphre (DeNiro), a mysterious stranger, ups his fee to keep Angel on the case.  Each of Angel's leads ends up as a victim of a ritualistic act of murder as he begins to put the pieces of the jigsaw of Johnny's strange story into place.
An atmospheric, moody thriller from director Alan Parker, with a couple of decent performances from the two main actors.  The most negative thing about the entire movie is that it's so obvious to anyone with half a brain what the big twist is.

D: Ron Howard
Columbia/Imagine/Skylark (Ron Howard, Brian Grazer & John Calley)
🇺🇸 2009
138 mins


W: Akiva Goldsman [based on the novel by Dan Brown]
DP: Salvatore Totino
Ed: Mike Hill & Daniel Hanley
Mus: Hans Zimmer

Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Ewan McGregor (Father Patrick McKenna), Ayelet Zurer (Dr. Victoria Vetra), Stellan Skarsgård (Cmmdr Maximilian Richter)

Dan Brown's follow up to The Da Vinci Code was originally written as a prequel, but this screen adaptation is a straight-up sequel with more of the same; a conspiracy involving the Vatican and the Illuminati.
Following the death of the pope, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is contacted by Vatican officials and along with Italian scientist Victoria Vetra, must piece together clues to prevent an assassination attempt on the next cardinals in line to be elected pope.
The mystery is ridiculously far-fetched and the plot twist makes even less sense the more you dissect it, which isn't helped by the fact that the writer takes this all way too seriously.
Just like the predecessor, if you enjoyed the book, you'll probably enjoy the film.

D: William Dear
Buena Vista/Disney/Caravan (Irby Smith, Joe Roth & Roger Birnbaum)
🇺🇸 1994
102 mins


W: Holly Goldberg Sloan [based on a screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley & George Wells]
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Bruce Green
Mus: Randy Edelman
PD: Dennis Washington

Danny Glover (George Knox), Tony Danza (Mel Clark), Brenda Fricker (Maggie Nelson), Christopher Lloyd (Al Angel), Ben Johnson (Hank Murphy), Jay O. Sanders (Ranch Wilder), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Roger Bomman)

Sentimental remake of a 1950's Clarence Brown movie about an unsuccessful baseball team enlisting the help of angels to turn their season around.
The story is well suited to Disney's family target audience and isn't a bad viewing for a rainy day, but its main fanbase is likely to be in America rather than elsewhere around the globe.  A similar story was done to much better effect in 1989's Field Of Dreams.

D: Clay Kaytis & Fergal Reilly
Columbia/Sony/Rovio (John Cohen & Catherine Winder)
🇺🇸 🇫🇮 2016
97 mins


W: Jon Vitti [based on characters created by Rovio Entertainment]
Mus: Heitor Pereira

voices of: Jason Sudeikis (Red), Josh Gad (Chuck), Danny McBride (Bomb), Maya Rudolph (Matilda), Bill Hader (King Mudbeard / Leonard), Sean Penn (Leonard), Peter Dinklage (The Mighty Eagle)

The Angry Birds video game is a wasteful but entertaining way to spend a few hours, the same could be said about the movie.
A community of flightless birds live in relative harmony on their island, with only the always angry member (Red) posing a problem for their tranquil existence. This changes when a group of green pigs visit the island under the guise of friendship and steal all the birds' eggs, taking them back to their own island to eat in a feast.
Red leads the revenge attack against the pigs, with help from his friends, in what is virtually a big screen version of the computer game.
Though this film will perfectly adequate for young children, the story and characters are rather standard and the attempt at wedging in some adult humour results in jokes which just don't fit.
There also seems to be an irresponsible moral that teaches young children that getting angry is a good thing.
It's also worth mentioning that the DVD is crammed with extras, such as short films, which will likely entertain the kids even more.

D: Steve Buscemi
Silver Nitrate/Franchise Films (Steve Buscemi, Elie Samaha, Andrew Stevens, Julie Yorn, Danny Trejo, Edward Bunker & Tracee Stanley)
🇺🇸 2000
94 mins


W: Edward Bunker & John Steppling [based on the novel by Edward Bunker]

Willem Dafoe (Earl Copen), Edward Furlong (Ron Decker), Danny Trejo (Vito), John Heard (James Decker), Mickey Rourke (Jan the Actress), Tom Arnold (Buck Rowan), Seymour Cassel (Lt. Seeman)

Animal Factory is a rather mundane prison drama, based partially on true events, where a young junkie is imprisoned on a minor charge but becomes a member of a hardcore prison gang, leading to violence and further incarceration.
The cast is full of good actors, but nobody really shines. Steve Buscemi does an okay job on the other side of the camera, but this material needed someone who could bring a little bit more grit to the screen.

D: John Halas & Joy Batchelor
DCA (John Halas & Joy Batchelor)
🇬🇧 1954
75 mins


W: John Halas & Joy Batchelor [based on the novel by George Orwell]
Mus: Matyas Seiber

voices of: Maurice Denham, Gordon Heath

Faithful adaptation of George Orwell's novel but the political allegory may go over the heads of children and the animation isn't good enough quality to engage the minds of most adults.
It's impressive that one voice actor portrayed all the characters in this, but unfortunately the movie falls in-between two cracks trying to find an audience.

D: Steven Lisburger & Bill Kruyer
Lisburger (Steven Lisburger & Donald Kushner)
🇺🇸 1979 (released 1980)
80 mins
W: Michael Fremer & Steven Lisburger
Mus: Graham Gouldman
voices of: Gilda Radner, Billy Crystal, Harry Shearer, Michael Fremer
Animated spoof of the Summer Olympics with animals from around the world competing in various athletics events.
A fun animated film with some good voice talent, but there's a definite bias towards the US winning all the gold medals.

D: John Cromwell
20th Century Fox (Louis D. Lighton)
🇺🇸 1946
128 mins


W: Talbot Jennings & Sally Benson [based on the book by Margaret Landon]
DP: Arthur Miller
Ed: Harmon Jones
Mus: Bernard Herrmann
Pd: Lyle Wheeler & William S. Darling

Irene Dunne (Anna), Rex Harrison (The King), Linda Darnell (Tuptin), Gale Sondergaard (Lady Thiang), Lee J. Cobb (Kralahome), Mikhail Rasumny (Alak)

Lavish, old-fashioned period drama about an English governess who arrives in Bangkok to teach the 67 children of the king and the relationship which develops between the two.
There's a handful of good performances and it all looks very pretty with atmospheric black & white photography and masterful production design but the movie doesn't make a lasting impression on the memory quite like the musical remake of 1956 (The King & I)

D: George Nicholls, Jr.
RKO (Kenneth MacGowan)
🇺🇸 1934
79 mins


W: Sam Mintz [basee on the novel by L. M. Montgomery]
DP: Lucien Andriot
Ed: Arthur Schmidt
Mus: Max Steiner
PD: Van Nest Polglase & Al Herman

Anne Shirley [Dawn O'Day] (Anne Shirley), Tom Brown (Gilbert Blythe), O.P. Heggie (Matthew Cuthbert), Helen Westley (Marilla Cuthbert), Sara Haden (Mrs. Rachel Barry)

Old-fashioned storybook drama about an orphan girl who moves to the country to live with her aunt, based on the novel by L. M. Montgomery.
The lead role feels like it would be tailor-made for Shirley Temple but Dawn O'Day quite literally makes it her own, changing her own stage name to match the lead character (Anne Shirley) following the release and subsequent success of the film.

D: John Huston
Columbia (Ray Stark)
🇺🇸 1982
128 mins


W: Carol Sobieski [based on the stage play "Little Orphan Annie" by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse & Martin Charnin
DP: Richard Moore
Ed: Michael A. Stevenson
Mus: Ralph Burns
PD: Dale Hennesy

Albert Finney (Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks), Carol Burnett (Miss Agatha Hannigan), Aileen O'Quinn (Annie), Ann Reinking (Grace Farrell), Bernadette Peters (Lily St. Regis), Tim Curry (Daniel Hannigan)

Overlong musical made at a time in cinema history when musicals were box office poison (this film cost $42 million to produce and was a huge flop).  The story follows an orphan girl who charms a millionaire and is subsequently adopted by him, but the lead actress here is so odious that it's hard to understand why.  Veteran John Huston was certainly the wrong choice of director and most of the performers are incredibly miscast, but if you can turn a blind eye to the annoying performances than you may find it a lot easier to enjoy the movie.
It's seen as a bit of a Christmas time classic but it still hasn't recouped all of the ridiculously bloated budget for the studio. 

D: Woody Allen
United Artists (Charles H. Joffe)
🇺🇸 1977
93 mins


W: Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman
DP: Gordon Willis
Ed: Ralph Rosenblum
Pd: Mel Bourne
Cos: Ruth Morley, Ralph Lauren & others

Woody Allen (Alvy Singer), Diane Keaton (Annie Hall), Tony Roberts (Rob), Carol Kane (Allison), Paul Simon (Tony Lacey), Colleen Dewhurst (Mom Hall), Janet Margolin (Robin), Shelley Duvall (Pam), Christopher Walken (Duane Hall)

Arguably Woody Allen's best work as Alvy Singer, a neurotic Jewish comedian who has a relationship with a quietly Midwestern girl called Annie Hall.
The chemistry between the two leads is fantastic and there's some great dialogue and some incredibly hilarious scenes (the cocaine scene must surely rank as one of the funniest ever Woody Allen moments).
Allen has a good record of writing strong female characters and Diane Keaton set the benchmark in this, winning an Oscar for the performance with the film itself winning 3 more awards (Best Picture, Best Director & Best Original Screenplay).
The neurotic male lead became a staple in Woody Allen films but it was definitely at it's freshest here. A must watch for Allen fans and definitely worth watching even if you aren't. 

D: Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman
Paramount/Hanway/Starburns/Snoot (Rosa Tran, Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman & Dino Stamatopolous)
🇺🇸 2015
90 mins


W: Charlie Kaufman [based on the play by Francis Fregoli (Charlie Kaufman)]
Mus: Carter Burwell


voices of: David Thewlis (Michael), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Lisa), Tom Noonan (everyone else)

Anyone familiar with Charlie Kaufman's work would know that his films are equally bizarre, surreal and hugely metaphorical. He doesn't buck that trend with Anomalisa, an arthouse animation film which doesn't have much about it in the way of its story, but it's still beautifully told...
A customer service expert, fed up with his mundane life, embarks on a business trip where everyone he interacts with at his humdrum hotel speaks with same monotonous voice (that of Tom Noonan). The only person with any individuality is Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh), who he has a one-night stand with, before returning to the routine of his existence.
An animation film which certainly isn't for children, especially for its lengthy sex scene and industrial language, it's unlikely to appeal to many adult also, but fans of Charlie Kaufman's other works will witness another groundbreaking piece of intelligent cinema.

D: Mike Cahill
Fox Searchlight (Hunter Gray, Mike Cahill, Brit Marling & Nicholas Shumaker)
🇺🇸 2011
95 mins
Science Fiction/Drama
W: Mike Cahill & Brit Marling
DP: Mike Cahill
Ed: Mike Cahill
Mus: Fall On Your Sword
Brit Marling (Rhoda Williams), William Mapother (John Burroughs), Robin Taylor (Jeff Williams), Jordan Baker (Kim Williams), Kumar Pallana (Purdeep)
Both the title & the synopsis imply this movie is of a the science fiction genre, but the sci-fi element in the story is incredibly subtle, allowing the main focus to be on the pensive, tender drama at the heart of its tale.
Brit Marling plays MIT student Rhoda Williams, who, on the same night as the discovery of a doppelgänger planet in our solar system, is involved in a car accident which leaves musician John Burroughs (William Mapother) without his wife and child.
After Rhodes serves four years in prison for manslaughter, she visits the now reclusive Burroughs to apologise for her crime, but instead ends up getting involved in a close friendship with him, all while the great minds of Planet Earth are attempting to make contact with the alternative one.
For an independent, low budget film, this borders on excellent. The visuals are stunningly realised, the two central performances outstanding and it raises some intelligent, philosophical and thought-provoking questions, especially with its ambiguous final moments.

D: John Badham
Buena Vista/Touchstone (Jim Kouf, Cathleen Summers & Lynn Bigelow)
🇺🇸 1993
108 mins


W: Jim Kouf
DP: Roy H. Wagner
Ed: Frank Morriss & Kevin Stitt
Mus: Arthur P. Rubinstein
PD: Lawrence G. Paull

Richard Dreyfuss (Det. Chris Lecce), Emilio Estevez (Det. Bill Reimers), Rosie O'Donnell (Gina Garrett), Dennis Farina (Brian O'Hara), Marcia Stressman (Pam O'Hara), Cathy Moriarty (Luella Delano)

Rather pointless sequel to 1987's Stakeout which follows a very similar formula. Richard Dreyfuss & Emilio Estevez reprise their roles as two cops on a stakeout and this time they're joined by the incredibly unfunny Rosie O'Donnell as a lawyer.  The trio have to pretend they're a family to keep the people they're staking out off the scent.              
The jokes are lame and it's all rather unnecessary.  

ANT-MAN (12)
D: Peyton Reed
Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)
🇺🇸 2015
117 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure/Comedy

W: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay & Paul Rudd [based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby]
DP: Russell Carpenter
Ed: Dan Lebental & Colby Parker, Jr.
Mus: Christophe Beck

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Evangeline Lilly (Hope van Dyne), Corey Stoll (Darren Cross/Yellowjacket), Bobby Cannavale (Paxton), Michael Peña (Luis), Tip 'T.I.' Harris (Dave), Anthony Mackie (Falcon)

One of Marvel Comics' smaller characters gets the big screen treatment and the final result is almost larger than life.
The plot isn't too dissimilar to the first Iron Man film, an inventor creates a super suit which is coveted by a rival scientist and the crux of the story is to stop the power from getting into the wrong hands. 
Paul Rudd is the main character, a cat burglar who, upon release from prison takes on another job and comes into possession of the suit. It turns out he was part of a set-up by the suit's creator and now must train up to become Ant-Man or face another spell in prison. He chooses the former, and takes on an Avenger in the process, a duel which may or may not continue in later Marvel films.
Though the story isn't as fresh as it could have been, life is breathed into it by a fine balance of comedy, as well as outstanding visual effects which also brings a lot of humour into the film, especially in the final scene where a fight takes place around a child's train set.
A good addition to the Marvel Comics movie collection.


D: Peyton Reed

Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige & Stephen Broussard)

🇺🇸 2018

118 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure/Comedy

W: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barner & Gabriel Ferrari [based on characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber & Ernie Hart]

DP: Dante Spinotti

Ed: Dan Lebental & Craig Wood

Mus: Christophe Beck

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang / Ant-Man), Evangeline Lilly (Hope Van Dyne / Wasp), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Michael Peña (Luis), Hannah John-Kamen (Ava Starr / Ghost), Walton Goggins (Sonny Burch), Laurence Fishburne (Bill Foster), Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet Van Dyne)

Avengers: Infinity War was such a cinematic behemoth that any Marvel movie that followed was going to feel small in comparison, so it's quite fitting that the next in the MCU series of films would be about the most diminutive superhero in the comic book canon.

Following on from the events in the first film and Captain America: Civil War (qv), Scott Lang is under house arrest as punishment for his actions, passing his time by looking after his daughter and generally goofing around. Meanwhile, former Shield scientist Hank Pym and his daughter Hope Van Dyne are conducting a new experiment which may prove that Pym's wife and Hope's mother, Janet, the original wasp, is still alive and trapped in the quantum zone, which Ant-Man shrunk down into in the original film. Hank and Hope abduct Scott for his assistance, but also attract the attentions of Ghost, a woman with a molecular instability who also needs to benefit from the quantum science, as well as Sonny Burch, a black market trader who deals in the high tech.

Though the film provides enough entertainment through action set pieces and scenes of comedy, it does suffer by having villains who just aren't interesting enough, especially for Ghost, who is given a victim status which we are forced to empathise with.

Though Edgar Wright was replaced halfway through production of the first film, it's clear that he had a huge positive influence on the outcome of the film which this sequel sadly lacks. It does provide a fun distraction, but it just doesn't stand tall like the bigger Marvel movies.



D: Lars Von Trier

Nordisk Film/Zentropa/Arte France/Canal+/Film i Väst/Svenska Filminstitutet/Sveriges Television (Meta Louise Foldager)

🇩🇰 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 🇮🇹 🇵🇱 🇸🇪 2009

108 mins


W: Lars Von Trier

DP: Anthony Dod Mantle

Ed: Anders Refn & Åsa Mossberg

Mus: Kristian Eidnes Andersen

Willem Dafoe ("He"), Charlotte Gainsbourg ("She")

The first film of Lars Von Trier's "depression trilogy" (followed by Melancholia and Nymphomaniac) is an experimental art/horror film which will certainly not be for the palate of regular moviegoers.

Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play an unnamed married couple, mourning the loss of their child when they retreat to a cabin in the woods where their grief subsequently manifests itself as a sadomasochistic sexual relationship which becomes more and more violent.

Like all art films, there will be some who will think this is a masterpiece whilst others will find it pretentious and unpleasant. 

I, personally, cannot give it more than the rating below as I did not enjoy watching it and would not recommend it to anyone, but I can't call it a bad film either. Like art itself, for every Mona Lisa, you also have Tracey Emin's Unmade Bed. 


D: Peter Howitt
20th Century Fox/MGM/Hyde Park/Industry (Nick Wechsler, Keith Addis & David Nicksay)
🇺🇸 2001
110 mins


W: Howard Franklin
DP: John Bailey
Ed: Zach Staenberg
Mus: Don Davis
Pd: Catherine Hardwicke

Ryan Phillippe (Milo Hoffman), Rachael Leigh Cook (Lisa Calighan), Claire Forlani (Alice Paulson/Rebecca Paul), Tim Robbins (Gary Winston), Richard Roundtree (Lyle Barton)

Cyber thriller about a young computer ace (Phillippe) who accepts a job at a top software company and discovers that his boss is using unconventional and illegal methods to corner the marketplace.
Aside from Tim Robbins doing a good job apeing a Bill Gates-esque software mogul, the acting is rather awful (especially the emotionless performance of Rachael Leigh Cook) and the whole thing is rather forgettable.

"Every ant has his day."
"Every ant has his day."
D: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson
Dreamworks (Brad Lewis, Aron Warner & Patty Wooton)
🇺🇸 1998
83 mins
W: Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams & John Powell
voices of: Woody Allen (Z), Sharon Stone (Princess Bala), Sylvester Stallone (Cpl. Weaver), Gene Hackman (Gen. Mandible), Jennifer Lopez (Azteca), Christopher Walken (Col. Cutter),
Dreamworks opened their computer animated feature account with this enjoyable story about a worker ant who falls in love with a princess and prevents a military coup by an overbearing general of the soldier ants.         
The animation itself is excellent, following the good work done in Toy Story, the birth of the computer animated feature film.
The story itself is incredibly similar to Pixar's A Bug's Life, released the same year and some of the jokes would appeal to adults rather than children.  The voice talents are all on song and the characters have stunning resemblance to their voice actors. Good family fun. 

"Play or be played."
"Play or be played."
D: Oliver Stone
Warner Bros./Ixtlan (Lauren Shuler-Donner, Clayton Townsend & Dan Halstead)
🇺🇸 1999
162 mins
W: John Logan, Oliver Stone & Daniel Pyne         
DP: Salvatore Torino
Ed: Tom Norberg, Keith Salmon, Stuart Waks & Stuart Levy
Mus: Robbie Robertson, Paul Kelly & Richard Horowitz
Al Pacino (Tony D'Amato), Cameron Diaz (Christina Pagniacci), Dennis Quaid (Jack 'Cap' Rooney), James Woods (Dr. Harvey Mandrake), Jamie Foxx (Willie Beaman), LL Cool J (Julian Washington), Matthew Modine (Dr. Ollie Powers), Charlton Heston (AFFA Commissioner)
An unusual choice for director Oliver Stone, whose output usually have political asides or are deemed controversial.
This is purely a drama about the goings-on at an American Football team, with a veteran coach and owner at loggerheads over the running of the team, whilst the players have dramas of their own in their lives.
It's quite entertaining when Al Pacino is shouting at all and sundry but it doesn't quite justify it's length, especially when you have little to no interest in NFL.

D: Billy Wilder
United Artists/Mirisch (Billy Wilder)
🇺🇸 1960
125 mins
W: Billy Wilder & I. A. L. Diamond
DP: Joseph LaSchelle
Ed: Daniel Mandell
Mus: Adolph Deutsch
Pd: Alexander Trauner
Jack Lemmon (C. C. Baxter), Shirley MacLaine (Miss Kubelik), Fred MacMurray (Jeff Sheldrake), Ray Walston (Joe Dobisch), Jack Kruschen (Dr. Dreyfuss), Joan Shawlee (Sylvia), Edie Adams (Miss Olsen), David Lewis (Al Kirkeby)
It's subjective whether or not this film deserved to win the Best Picture Oscar for 1960 over Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho which failed to even receive a nomination for the award. The way I see it, perhaps it was an apology for Billy Wilder's own masterpiece, Some Like It Hot, failing to be nominated the previous year. That being said, The Apartment is doubtlessly a classic comedy from the great filmmaker.
Jack Lemmon plays timid insurance clerk C. C. Baxter with aspirations of promotion by 'loaning' his apartment out to his business executives so they can carry out their the extra-marital trysts with secretaries and mistresses.
Shirley MacLaine just happens to be one of those secretaries, the apple of CC's eye, but also in the sights of the personnel director who's hoping to get use of the apartment.
The humour is very much archetypal of Billy Wilder's work, almost stereotypically 'Jewish' with buzzwords and chutzpah. It's clear from this movie that he was a huge influence to Woody Allen and other filmmakers.
It's a very "proper" sex comedy which deals with the serious subjects adultery, suicide attempts and other questionable ethics without sinking into tawdriness or obscenities, even leaving space for a feelgood ending.
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine both deliver iconic performances and director/writer Wilder proves why he is one of the best Hollywood filmmakers of all time.
For me, it's not 'Best Picture perfect' but it's pretty darn close.

D: Francis Ford Coppola
United Artists/Omni Zoetrope (Francis Ford Coppola)
🇺🇸 1979
147 mins


W: Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Herr & John Milius [based on the novel 'Heart Of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad]         
DP: Vittorio Storaro
Ed: Richard Marks, Walter Murch, Gerald B. Greenberg & Lisa Fruchtman
Mus: Carmine Coppola
Pd: Dean Tavoularis
Cos: Charles James

Martin Sheen (Capt. Willard), Robert Duvall (Lt. Col. Kilgore), Marlon Brando (Col. Kurtz), Frederic Forrest (Chef), Albert Hall (Chief), Sam Bottoms (Lance), Larry Fishburne (Clean), Dennis Hopper (Photojournalist), Harrison Ford (Colonel), Scott Glenn (Civilian)

A heavy going Vietnam war epic which has moments of pretentiousness, but more importantly, great power.
Loosely based on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart Of Darkness, the story follows Capt. Kilgore, who is given the mission of finding a rogue colonel (Brando) who has hidden himself in the Vietnamese hills to fight his own war.
The longer the film goes on, the more difficult the story becomes to follow and the more unstructured the narrative becomes (perhaps an allegory for the war itself). Nevertheless, it has some iconic moments and powerful visuals where the viewing experience becomes more important than the story itself.
The movie took an absolute age to make and cost the studio heavily (238 day shoot at a $31 million cost). It's also unfortunate that Marlon Brando delivers a near incomprehensible performance during a time in his career when his ego grew bigger than his talent. All of the other performances are great though, especially Robert Duvall as the deplorable Kilgore, who loves the smell of napalm in the morning.
A 202 minute version, Apocalypse Now Redux, was released in 2001 and a very interesting documentary on the making of the film was made in 1991 (Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse).
It's not an easy watch, but one which every movie fan must view at least once.

No one can outrun their destiny.
No one can outrun their destiny.
D: Mel Gibson
MGM/Icon (Mel Gibson & Bruce Davey)                      
🇺🇸 2006
115 mins


W: Mel Gibson & Farhad Safinia
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: John Wright
Mus: James Horner
Pd: Tom Sanders
Cos: Mayes C. Rubeo

Rudy Youngblood (Jaguar Paw), Morris Birdyellowhead (Flint Sky), Jonathan Brewer (Blunted), Dalia Hernandez (Seven), Raoul Trujillo (Zero Wolf), Rodolfo Palacios (Snake Ink)

A heart-stopping mythic adventure set against the turbulent times of the once great Mayan civilisation. When their idyllic existence is brutally disrupted by a violent invading army, a man of the tribe, Jaguar Paw, is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him as human sacrifices are made to appease the idolised Sun God.
Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of love for his wife & children, Jaguar Paw makes a desperate break to return home and ultimately save the lives of his people, all the while being pursued by a group of Aztec warriors who demand revenge after he kills one of their own.
Scenes of graphic violence make this unsuitable for family audiences, which is a shame since it would make a great introduction to all who tend to avoid foreign language cinema.

"Houston, we have a problem..."
"Houston, we have a problem..."
D: Ron Howard
Universal/Imagine (Brian Grazer)
🇺🇸 1995
134 mins


W: William Broyles, Jr. & Al Reinert [based on the book 'Lost Moon' by Jim Lovell & Jeffrey Kluger]
DP: Dean Cundey
Ed: Mike Hill & Daniel Hanley
Mus: James Horner
Pd: Michael Corenblith
Cos: Rita Ryack

Tom Hanks (Jim Lovell), Kevin Bacon (Jack Swigert), Bill Paxton (Fred Haise), Gary Sinise (Ken Mattingly), Ed Harris (Gene Krantz), Kathleen Quinlan (Marilyn Lovell)

It had been less than a year since man first walked on the moon, but as far as the American public were concerned, Apollo 13 was just another 'routine' mission - until Jim Lovell announced the words which pierced even the immense void of space: "Houston, we have a problem..."
In their stricken vessel, 200,000 miles from Earth, astronauts Lovell, Jack Swigert & Fred Haise fight a desperate battle to survive, while on Earth, mission control face a battle to bring the men home safe, with grounded astronaut Ken Mattingly & flight director Gene Kranz and his heroic ground crew battle against time and the odds with more problems adding to the crisis with each second the men are trapped in space.
Apollo 13 has a lot about it to make it a great cinematic experience; great special effects, meticulous attention to detail which captures the decor and minutiae of the early 1970's and the vistas of outer space. Unfortunately, the movie lacks the real punch it needs, partly due to Ron Howard's colour-by-numbers direction and an opening credit sequence which tells us that the movie is based on a book written by the main character (thus killing any suspense on whether the men do in fact return home alive and safe).
The cast more than make up for these shortcomings though, especially Ed Harris, who has the screenplay's best written character with the zippiest dialogue. 
The movie itself isn't unlike the real Apollo mission, it has lots of stars around it, but doesn't quite achieve the goal it sets out for.

"There's a reason we've never gone back to the moon."
"There's a reason we've never gone back to the moon."
APOLLO 18 (15)
D: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Dimension (Timur Bekmambetov & Ron Schmidt)
🇺🇸 2011
86 mins
Science Fiction/Horror
W: Brian Miller
DP: Jose David Montero
Ed: Patrick Lussier
Warren Christie (Capt. Ben Anderson), Lloyd Owen (Cmmdr. Nate Walker), Ryan Robbins (Lt. Col. John Grey), Andrew Airlie (Thomas Young)
The plot is the same as Paranormal Activity (qv) except it's set on the surface of the moon, with astronauts panicking and trying to escape an unseen terror.
It wouldn't have been too bad had some effort gone into the screenplay and the direction didn't simply ride on the coat-tails of the Paranormal Activity films and it's rather insulting that the story claims to have any basis in the truth.
Nothing particularly scary happens, it's all incredibly forgettable and it looks like the entire production was filmed using a cheap webcam.
I've seen several webcam movies which are far more entertaining, but I probably wouldn't be able to review them on here...

D: Bryan Singer
Columbia Tristar/Phoenix/Bad Hat Harry/Canal+ (Jane Hamsher, Don Murphy & Brian Singer)
🇺🇸 🇫🇷 1998
111 mins


W: Brandon Boyce [based on the novella by Stephen King]
DP: Newton Thomas Sigel
Ed: John Ottman
Mus: John Ottman
Pd: Richard Hoover

Ian McKellen (Kurt Dussander), Brad Renfro (Todd Bowden), Bruce Davison (Richard Bowden), Elias Koteas (Archie), Joe Morton (Dan Richler), Jan Triska (Isaac Weiskopf), Michael Byrne (Ben Kramer), Heather McComb (Becky Trask), David Schwimmer (Edward French)

Based on a short story from the same book by Stephen King which also brought Stand By Me & The Shawshank Redemption to the screen, this is a rather weak adaptation of a rather interesting story.
It focuses on a schoolboy who blackmails an elderly Nazi to tell him all about the holocaust or face being outed.
Ian McKellen's excellent performance makes this worth watching, but Brad Renfro is a terrible actor and other parts are incredibly miscast, especially Ross from Friends who takes away any power that the finale of the movie may have had with someone more convincing in the part.
Bryan Singer's second film after his excellent debut with 1995's The Usual Suspects, this is just a little blot on his  career (another big blot would follow later, but I'm not getting into that one).

"Home Is Calling"
"Home Is Calling"


D: James Wan

Warner Bros/DC/Cruel & Unusual/Mad Ghost (Peter Safran & Rob Cowan)

🇺🇸 2018

143 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, Geoff Johns & James Wan [based on characters  created by Mort Weisinger & Paul Norris]

DP: Don Burgess

Ed: Kirk Morri

Mus: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry / Aquaman), Amber Heard (Mera), Willem Dafoe (Vulko), Patrick Wilson (Orm Marius), Dolph Lundgren (Nereus), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (David Kane / Black Manta), Nicole Kidman (Atlanna), Temeura Morrison (Thomas Curry)

It's fair to say that DC comics, desperate for a series of movies to rival Marvel's Cinematic Universe, have had an erratic output so far.

Wonder Woman was a success, scoring with audiences as well as critics, but the other films have been rather underwhelming. For me, Man Of Steel was disappointing, Suicide Squad was a disjointed mess and Batman vs Superman was incredibly poor. I didn't think Justice League was as bad as some of the reviews I've seen or heard, but it certainly had flaws, especially with its inconsistent visual effects.

Aquaman, who featured as one of  the Justice League members, gets his own origin tale here, and in fairness, it's closer to Wonder Woman's quality than the other movies.

Born the son of the Queen of Atlantis and a human lighthouse keeper, Arthur Curry (Aquaman) is asked to challenge for the throne of the secret underwater world to prevent a war between land and sea, instigated by the current king of the sea, Arthur's half-brother.

Aquaman reluctantly accepts and also faces a villain in the form of Black Manta, a pirate who seeks revenge following the death of his father in the opening skirmish.

The action scenes and visual effects throughout are reasonably good, bringing a lot of light to a series of comic book movies which have been quite dark up until now. 

The only minor irritants are that the plot bears a lot of similarities with Black Panther, released the same year (therefore, if you don't like this movie, you're racist against fish), and the running time is about 30 minutes too long, mostly due to the padded-out scenes trawling through exposition. 

All-in-all, it's a fun slice of science fiction hokum, and the only thing I really didn't like in the entire film was Pitbull's shit cover version of Toto's Africa.


Eight legs, two gangs and an attitude.
Eight legs, two gangs and an attitude.
D: Frank Marshall
Hollywood/Amblin (Kathleen Kennedy & Richard Vane)
🇺🇸 1990
109 mins


W: Don Jacoby & Wesley Strick
DP: Mikael Solomon
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: Trevor Jones
Pd: James Bissell

Jeff Daniels (Dr. Ross Jennings), Harley Jane Kozak (Molly Jennings), John Goodman (Delbert McClintock), Julian Sands (Dr. James Atherton)

After serving the best part of a decade as Steven Spielberg's producer, Frank Marshall made his directorial debut with this horror story dubbed 'Jaws with spiders'.
When an explorer dies in the Amazon jungle, a deadly species of spider gets into his coffin before it is exported back to the man's small country town.  Back in the idyllic town, the spider makes it's nest and hundreds of the little beasties go on the rampage and kill the residents. 
Steven Spielberg's influence is clear for all to see and John Goodman provides hilarious comic relief as a flamboyant pest control expert.  Despite being classed as a family film, this must be a trip into Satan's lair for anyone who truly suffers from arachnophobia. The little beasties will certainly make your skin crawl.

D: Nicholas Jarecki
Lions Gate/Green Room/Treehouse (Laura Bickford, Kevin Turen, Justin Nappi, Robert Salerno & Mohammed Alturki)
🇺🇸 2012
107 mins
W: Nicholas Jarecki
DP: Yorick LeSaux
Ed: Douglas Crise
Mus: Cliff Martinez
Richard Gere (Robert Miller), Susan Sarandon (Ellen Miller), Tim Roth (Det. Bryer), Brit Marling (Brooke Miller), Laetitia Casta (Julie Cote), Nate Parker (Jimmy Grant)
When this movie was first released in 2012, there was much talk of veteran actor Richard Gere receiving his first Oscar nomination. He eventually lost out, but you'd not have sniffed at him being nominated for this.
During the opening moments, the film feels as though you've seen it all before, he plays a selfish businessman being fraudulent with his company accounts in order to push a merger through, while philandering with his mistress behind his wife and family's back.
The movie twists into thriller territory on the half hour mark, when Gere is in a car accident which kills the woman he's having an affair with, before fleeing the incident in order to escape being prosecuted with the lucrative business deal on the horizon.
The rest of the film concentrates on high-priced lawyers keeping Gere's arse out of jail while he has to keep his daughter (Britt Marling) sweet after she discovers discrepancies in the company accounts.
The final scene will either infuriate or captivate you, depending on how you feel about ambiguity.
Despite all the pre-Oscar talk being about Gere's performance, the real revelation here is Britt Marling. She first caught my eye in the 2011 indie sci-fi/drama Another Earth, and she delivers just as good a performance in Arbitrage. I'm keeping an eye out, because I'm expecting her to be a big star in a few years if she keeps up this good work.

"The movie was fake. The mission was real."
"The movie was fake. The mission was real."
ARGO (15)
D: Ben Affleck
Warner Bros./GK/Smokehouse (Grant Heslov, George Clooney & Ben Affleck)
🇺🇸 2012
115 mins


W: Chris Terrio [based on the article 'The Great Escape' by Joshua Bearman and the book 'The Master of Disguise' by Antonio J. Mendez]
DP: Rodrigo Prieto
Ed: William Goldenberg
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
PD: Sharon Seymour
Cos: Jacqueline West

Ben Affleck (Tony Mendez), Bryan Cranston (Jack O'Donnell), Alan Arkin (Lester Siegel), John Goodman (John Chambers), Tate Donovan (Robert Anders), Clea Duvall (Cora Lijek)

Even Ben Affleck's harshest critics have to give the guy his due respect here; he stars in, co-produces and directs an excellent political thriller, based on a true story of a covert CIA operation to rescue hostages from Iran during a period of civil unrest by using the guise of a bogus movie production.     
The plot isn't too dissimilar from the Dustin Hoffman-Robert DeNiro film Wag The Dog (qv), a satire which used the Hollywood production of a bogus war to get a president re-elected. Argo, however, has both feet firmly in the thriller genre and several moments are a masterclass in cinematic tension.
Affleck gets the very best out of his ensemble cast with a couple of truly excellent performances, most notably from Alan Arkin, who gets all the best lines of dialogue as a cynical movie producer.
Though the film won the Best Picture Oscar, Affleck was most definitely robbed of a Best Director nomination (that's right, he didn't even get nominated!). Scandalous.

D: Emir Kusturica
Electric/Constellation/UGC/Hachette (Claudie Ossard & Yves Marmion)
🇺🇸 🇫🇷 1991 (released 1993)
119 mins


W: David Atkins
DP: Vilko Filac
Ed: Andrija Zafranovic
Mus: Goran Bregovic
Pd: Miljen Kljakovic

Johnny Depp (Axel Blackmar), Faye Dunaway (Elaine Stalker), Jerry Lewis (Leo Sweetie), Lili Taylor (Grace Stalker), Paulina Pourzikova (Millie), Vincent Gallo (Paul Leger)

Johnny Depp plays a New York fishmonger who visits Arizona to see his uncle and ends up falling in love with an older woman.
Equally quirky and surreal, idiosyncratic and original, with lots of artistic symbolism and postmodern homages to cinema classics (mostly The Wizard of Oz).
Half the audience will doubtlessly see this as pretentious dross while the other half will see it as the director intended, a bizarre dream.
Nevertheless, the acting is faultless (especially Faye Dunaway, delivering her finest performance since the 70's) and the soundtrack is excellent.

"How well do you know your neighbour?"
"How well do you know your neighbour?"
D: Mark Pellington
Sony/Screen Gems/Lakeshore (Peter Samuelson, Tom Gorai & Marc Samuelson)
🇺🇸 1998
117 mins


W: Ehren Kruger
DP: Bobby Bukowski
Ed: Conrad Buff
Mus: Angelo Badalamenti

Jeff Bridges (Michael Faraday), Tim Robbins (Oliver Lang), Joan Cusack (Cheryl Lang), Hope Davis (Brooke Woolfe), Robert Gossett (Whit Carver), Mason Gamble (Brady Lang), Spencer Treat Clark (Grant Faraday)

Arlington Road is a clever psychological thriller which plays on the growing paranoia of it's lead character, played with fierce intensity by Jeff Bridges.
Following the death of his wife, Michael Faraday (Bridges) grows suspicious of his new neighbours across the road, the man of the house (Tim Robbins) especially, whom he suspects of being terrorists. 
He makes discoveries which seem to justify his paranoia culminating in a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse with a cynical and unexpected twist.
Both male leads deliver great performances and the sharp script makes this one of the best thrillers of its year.

D: Michael Bay
Touchstone/Valhalla (Jerry Bruckheimer, Gale Anne Hurd & Michael Bay)
🇺🇸 1998
150 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Jonathan Hensleigh, J. J. Abrams, Robert Roy Pool, Tony Gilroy & Shane Salerno
DP: John Schwartzmann
Ed: Mark Goldblatt, Chris Lebenzon & Glen Scantlebury
Mus: Trevor Rabin
PD: Michael White

Bruce Willis (Harry Stamper), Ben Affleck (A. J. Frost), Billy Bob Thornton (Dan Truman), Liv Tyler (Grace Stamper), Will Patton (Charles Chapple), Steve Buscemi (Rockhound), Peter Stormare (Lev Andropov), Keith David (General Kimsey), Owen Wilson (Oscar Choi), William Fichtner (Col. William Sharp), Michael Clarke Duncan (Jayotis Kurleenbear), Jason Isaacs (Ronald Quincy)

When NASA executive director Dan Truman discovers that the Earth has only 18 days before it's obliterated by an asteroid the size of Texas, he has only one option- to assemble a ragtag team of roughneck oil drillers with absolutely no qualifications or experience of working in outer space, then land this inferior group on the asteroid so they can drop a nuclear warhead deep into it's core.
CRASH! BANG! SMASH!! That's what it takes to save the world (except New York City, 'somewhere' in China and Paris, which get wiped out by smaller meteors).
Unfortunately, Armageddon is so poorly written that it makes it almost impossible to care for the characters on show.  Most of them are arrogant or obnoxious and the rest are merely stupid, so director Michael Bay shows us a bunch of stereotyped people in slow motion so we remember that it is actually the human race which is in peril. Will Patton is possibly the only realistic character out of all the mob with speaking parts, but even his back story doesn't get the drama that it deserves.
The rest is all Michael Bay's action movie on cocaine, with some decent visual effects (the destruction of NYC & Paris were very well done), but the rest is almost impossible to make out, especially the scenes which take place on the meteor surface.  Overall, the whole thing is just a series of music videos for Aerosmith songs.  It goes without saying that in Michael Bay's universe, the laws of physics, timezones and believable dialogue simply don't exist.
It is more fun to watch than the similar Deep Impact though, which was released the same year.

"Trapped in time, surrounded by evil, low on gas."
"Trapped in time, surrounded by evil, low on gas."
D: Sam Raimi
Guild/Renaissance/Introvision (Robert Tapert) 
🇺🇸 1992
109 mins


W: Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Bob Murawski & R. O. C. Sandstorm
Mus: Joseph LoDuca
Pd: Tony Tremblay

Bruce Campbell (Ash Williams), Embeth Davidtz (Sheila), Marcus Gilbert (Lord Arthur), Ian Abercrombie (Wise Man), Richard Grove (Duke Henry the Red), Michael Earl Reid (Gold Tooth), Bridget Fonda (Linda)

The third installment of the Evil Dead trilogy sees Ash (Bruce Campbell) thrust back in time to Medeival England where he must battle zombie-like beings.
The gory horror from the first two movies is shed in favour of a more comic-book action style comedy.  It's certainly not for everyone's taste, but fans of the first two movies should enjoy it. Good, unpretentious fun. 

"Why are they here?"
"Why are they here?"
D: Denis Villeneuve
Paramount/Lava Bear/Filmnation/21 Laps (Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder & David Linde)
🇺🇸 2016
116 mins

Science Fiction

W: Eric Heisserer [based on the short story "Story Of Your Life" by Ted Chiang]
DP: Bradford Young
Ed: Joe Walker
Mus: Johann Johansson

Amy Adams (Louise Banks), Jeremy Renner (Ian Donnelly), Forest Whitaker (Col. Weber), Michael Stuhlbarg (Agent David Halpern), Tzi Ma (Gen. Shang)

If, when you think of science fiction films, the first which come to mind are Star Wars and Star Trek movies, then Arrival may not be for you.
However, if you enjoyed more thought-based science fiction films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Contact and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, then this is certainly worth a watch.
Amy Adams plays an expert linguist whose services are required by the US government when a dozen alien spacecraft arrive in random locations around the planet. 
Along with a team of scientists, she makes contact with the extra terrestrials onboard and attempts to decipher their language to answer the question which is most pressing the world's military forces: why are they here?
Little more can be said about the plot without uncovering major spoilers, which come about with the use of excellent editing and a very well written screenplay. Amy Adams' magnetic lead performance  makes the film even more engaging when the narrative does become a little slack around the midway point.
Denis Villeneuve is fast becoming a much sought after director, and with films like this, it's easy to see why.

D: Thorald Dickenson
🇬🇧 1939
85 mins
W: Thorald Dickenson & Donald Bull [based on the novel by Leonard Gribble]
DP: Desmond Dickinson
Ed: Sidney Stone
Mus: Miklos Rozsa
Leslie Banks (Insp. Anthony Slade), Greta Gynt (Gwen Lee), Ian McLean (Sgt. Clinton), Anthony Bushell (John Doyce)
A player is poisoned during a football match and a detective investigates.
A good little mystery with a great star performance from the lead actor. The subject of football is only on the periphery of the mystery itself so it's easy to follow even if you're not a huge fan of the sport (or Arsenal Football Club)


D: Frank Capra

Warner Bros (Frank Capra & Jack L. Warner)

🇺🇸 1944

118 mins


W: Julius J. Epstein & Philip G. Epstein [based on the play by Joseph Kesselring]

DP: Sol Polito

Ed: Daniel Mandell

Mus: Max Steiner

Cary Grant (Mortimer Brewster), Josephine Hull (Aunt Abby Brewster), Jean Adair (Aunt Martha Brewster), Raymond Massey (Jonathan Brewster), Peter Lorre (Dr. Herman Einstein), Priscilla Lane (Elaine Harper Brewster), John Alexander (Teddy Brewster)

Frequently considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's films, it may come as a surprise to many that this dark comedy was directed by Frank Capra, despite being incredibly different to his usual feel-good urban fables.

Cary Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a cynical journalist who secretly gets married and invites his new bride to meet his beloved aunts, only to make a shocking discovery that the two old ladies are murderesses, who coax old men into their home where they poison them with wine and have them buried in the cellar.  Mortimer begins to panic that the homicidal tendencies may be hereditary and delves further into his family history.

Based on a stage play, the action crosses over to screen incredibly well, helped by great performances, an amusing script and very tactile direction which makes the light of the fact that the whole plot is incredibly flippant when it comes to the subject of murder & death.


"The most fun money can buy."
"The most fun money can buy."
D: Steve Gordon
Orion (Robert Greenhut)
🇺🇸 1981
117 mins


W: Steve Gordon
DP: Fred Schuler
Ed: Susan E. Morse
Mus: Burt Bacharach
PD: Stephen Hendrickson
Cos: Jane Greenwood

Dudley Moore (Arthur Bach), Liza Minnelli (Linda Marolla), John Gielgud (Hobson), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Martha Bach), Jill Eikenberry (Susan Johnson), Stephen Elliott (Burt Johnson), Ted Ross (Bitterman), Barney Martin (Ralph Marolla)

Dudley Moore gives one of his career best performances as the loveable drunk playboy Arthur, who falls in love with waitress Liza Minnelli but is engaged to be married to rich bitch Jill Eikenberry, thus giving him a dilemma of living life rich and unhappy or poor and in love.
As good as Moore is however, the movie has the rug pulled out from under it's feet by John Gielgud as Arthur's butler Hobson, who gets all the best lines of dialogue and delivers them with such deadpan tones that they're all the more hilarious. 
"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" must also surely be one of the all time great movie theme songs, penned by Burt Bacharach, amongst others and performed by Christopher Cross.  An inferior sequel followed in 1988 and the movie was remade with Russell Brand in the lead role 30 years later, replacing Dudley Moore's loveable drunk with the baby-talk of an overrated buffoon. Watch this version instead.

D: Michael Hazanavicius
The Weinstein Company (Thomas Langmann) 
🇺🇸 🇫🇷 2011
100 mins


W: Michael Hazanavicius 
DP: Guillaume Schiffman
Ed: Michael Hazanavicius & Anne-Sophie Bion
Mus: Ludovic Bource
Pd: Laurence Bennett
Cos: Mark Bridges

Jean Dujardin (George Valentin), Berenice Bejo (Peppy Miller), James Cromwell (Clifton), John Goodman (Al Zimmer), Penelope Ann Miller (Doris), Malcolm McDowell (The Butler), Uggie (The Dog)

A silent film about a Hollywood leading song & dance man who becomes worried about his star appeal following the birth of the 'talkies' and the decline of silent movies.
On artistic merit, The Artist is an excellent production. Meticulous to detail in every way and the two main performances are superbly acted (although both are arguably upstaged by a dog). Entertainment-wise, it's thoroughly enjoyable as a break from the norm, but not necessarily a film you'd watch other than for it's novelty and possibly not more than once.
It really is a delicious irony that this, a silent movie, won the Best Picture Oscar on the wake of Avatar's success and the rebirth of 3D movies and super-budget blockbusters, proving that all the money in the world can be spent, but all you really need is a good story. I wouldn't like to see this become fashionable though, the gimmick has been done now, and on this occasion, it worked very well.
The movie gets 10 out of 10 for effort and it's refreshing to see a noble and appreciated experimetal piece of independent work which surreptitiously gives Hollywood the finger, but it really wasn't the "Best Film of 2011".

"Brace yourself for Melvin."
"Brace yourself for Melvin."
D: James L. Brooks
Tristar/Gracie Films (James L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson & Kristi Zea)
🇺🇸 1997
133 mins


W: James L. Brooks & Mark Andrus
DP: John Bailey
Ed: Richard Marks
Mus: Hans Zimmer
Pd: Bill Brzeski
Cos: Molly Maginnis

Jack Nicholson (Melvin Udall), Helen Hunt (Carol Connelly), Greg Kinnear (Simon Bishop), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Frank Sachs), Skeet Ulrich (Vincent), Shirley Knight (Beverly), Jesse James (Spencer Connelly), Yeardley Smith (Jackie), Harold Ramis

Jack Nicholson gives a fantastic comedy performance as Melvin Udall, an obsessive compulsive novelist who seemingly takes pride in his ability to affront, repulse, offend and repel people. His targets are random and his aim reckless, even pushing away the people he even cares about.
His life changes however, when his gay neighbour, Simon Bishop, is hospitalised and Melvin is forced to look after Simon's dog, which makes him change all the routines to which he's become accustomed and begin to enjoy the smaller things in life.
The unexpected act of kindness attracts the attention of coffee shop waitress Carol Connelly, whose son requires medical needs which Melvin is happy to fund, sparking a relationship between the two unlikeliest of people, but Melvin still has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis.         
In terms of performances, on-screen chemistry and quirky one-liners, As Good As It Gets is truly that. The movie only suffers from being a tad too long, but for the best part Nicholson, Hunt and Kinnear keep it ticking along nicely and make this one of the most wonderful romantic comedies of the 1990's.
The two leads both won Oscars for their performances, mostly due to their wonderfully charming on-screen chemistry.

D: Andrew Dominik
Warner Bros./Virtual Studios/Scott Free/Plan B (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Ridley Scott, Jules Daly & David Valdes)
🇺🇸 2007
153 mins


W: Andrew Dominik [based on the novel by Ron Hansen]
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Cos: Patricia Norris

Brad Pitt (Jesse James), Casey Affleck (Robert Ford), Sam Shepard (Frank James), Mary-Louise Parker (Zee James), Paul Schneider (Dick Liddil), Sam Rockwell (Charley Ford), Jeremy Renner (Wood Hite), Zooey Deschanel (Dorothy Evans)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an incredibly slow-burning experience, but one which is worth sticking with. For the most part, the story doesn't seem to be going anywhere in particular, and the sound quality is barely audible to make sense of the sparse dialogue. It's almost like a visual poetry utilising Roger Deakins' handsome photography with two great performances to hold interest, one of which is absolutely fantastic (take a bow, Casey Affleck). Once you get past the slow build up, the rewards are delivered in the final 45 minutes of the picture when all the pieces fit together and it becomes an intelligent, thought-provoking drama about the power of reputation.
As a Western, it's no Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, but as an allegory about the development and obsession of celebrity status it's a marvellous piece of work.

D: Niels Mueller
Metrodome (Alfonso Cuaron & Jorge Vergara)
🇺🇸 2004
95 mins
W: Niels Muller & Kevin Kennedy
DP: Emmanuel Lubezki
Ed: Jay Cassidy
Mus: Steven Stern
Sean Penn (Samuel Bicke), Naomi Watts (Bonny Simmons), Jack Thompson (Jack Jones), Michael Wincott (Julius Bicke), Mykelti Williamson (Harold Mann), Nick Searcy (Tom Ford)
The Assassination of Richard Nixon is a fascinating study of the true story of a depressed salesman who suffers a mental breakdown after his wife leaves him. Blaming Richard Nixon for the destruction of the 'Great American Dream' he plots to hijack a plane and crash it into the White House.
Similarities can be made to Martin Scorses's 1976 masterpiece, Taxi Driver, although nowhere near as violent or disturbing. Sean Penn's mesmeric performance carries the entire film with some sterling support from the rest of the ensemble, particularly Naomi Watts, Michael Wincott & Mykelti Williamson.

"Like father. Like son. Like hell."
"Like father. Like son. Like hell."
D: James Foley
Orion/Hemdale (Elliott Lewitt & Don Guest)
🇺🇸 1986
111 mins
W: Nicholas Kazan
DP: Juan Ruiz Anchia
Ed: Howard E. Smith
Mus: Patrick Leonard; Madonna
Sean Penn (Bradley Whitewood, Jr.), Christopher Walken (Bradley Whitewood, Sr.), Mary Stuart Masterson (Terry), Christopher Penn (Thomas Whitewood), Millie Perkins (Julie)
What begins as a melodrama about the relationship between a young hoodlum and his criminal father descends into incredulity when the father starts picking off his members of his sons gang for knowing too much information about him and his past.
The performances of Christopher Walken & Sean Penn can't be criticised and Madonna contributed one of her best songs to the soundtrack ('Live To Tell'), but it's a very average film.

D: Louis Malle
Paramount (Denis Heroux)
🇨🇦 🇫🇷 1980 (released 1981)
105 mins


W: John Guare
DP: Richard Chiupka
Ed: Suzanne Baron
Mus: Michel Legrand
Pd: Anne Pritchard
Cos: Francois Barbeau

Burt Lancaster (Lou), Susan Sarandon (Sally), Kate Reid (Grace), Michel Piccoli (Joseph), Hollis McLaren (Chrissie), Robert Joy (Dave), Al Waxman (Alfie), Robert Goulet (Singer)

Burt Lancaster delivers one of his great screen performances as Lou, an ageing gangster who lives his twilight years hanging around the casinos of Atlantic City, doing odd jobs.  He gets involved with a sexy croupier, Sally and her drug dealing husband in a very understated drama about wasted lives.          
All the performances are fantastic, especially Lancaster and Susan Sarandon, who were both nominated for Oscars, as was the film itself and it's director. 


D: David Leitch

Focus Features/87 Eleven/Denver & Delilah/Closed On Mondays (Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, A.J. Dix, Kelly McCormick, Eric Gitter & Peter Schwerin)

🇺🇸 2017

115 mins


W: Kurt Johnstad [based on the graphic novel "The Coldest City" by Antony Johnston & Sam Hart]

DP: Jonathan Sela

Ed: Elisabet Ronaldsdottir

Mus: Tyler Bates

Charlize Theron (Lorraine Broughton), James McAvoy (David Percival), John Goodman (Emmett Kurzfeld), Eddie Marsan (Spyglass), Til Schweiger (Watchmaker), Toby Jones (Eric Gray), Sofia Boutella (Delphine Lasalle)

Set in Cold War Germany in the days leading up to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, an MI6 spy investigates the death of another agent so a top secret list of double agents working behind enemy lines can be retrieved.

Bond with a female twist, the action scenes are very well choreographed and the cinematography throughout is glorious, capturing the neon-tinted 80's with style. The cast don't disappoint and the soundtrack is brimful with classic 80's electronica.

Unfortunately, the pacing and non-linear narrative drag, but it still makes for a decent action movie with a badass protagonist expertly portrayed by Charlize Theron.


D: Joe Wright
Universal/Studio Canal/Relativity Media/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner & Paul Webster)
🇬🇧 2007
118 mins


W: Christopher Hampton [based on the novel by Ian McEwan]
DP: Seamus McGarvey
Ed: Paul Tothill
Mus: Dario Marianelli
Pd: Sarah Greenwood
Cos: Jacqueline Durran

James McAvoy (Robbie Turner), Keira Knightley (Cecilia Tallis), Romola Garai (Bryony Tallis), Saoirse Ronan (Briony - aged 13), Vanessa Redgrave (Bryony - older), Juno Temple (Lola Quincy), Benedict Cumberbatch (Paul Marshall), Blenda Blethyn (Grace Turner)

Atonement is a brilliantly acted love story set against the backdrop of the Second World War, based on Ian McEwan's best-selling novel.
Keira Knightley plays the eldest daughter of an aristocrat, living in the luxury of a grand country house and the amorous infatuation of similarly-aged Robbie (James McAvoy), the son of the housekeeper.
Robbie also has his own secret admirer, Cecilia's precocious younger sister, Briony, who catches the two young lovers in a passionate embrace and in a fit of jealousy, fabricates a vicious rumour which sees them separated and Robbie sent into military service.
Years later, when Robbie is enlisted to serve in wartorn France and Cecelia is nurse working in London, their paths cross again, but they are unable to rekindle their relationship, still feeling the pain of Briony's unkind lies. 
Briony is also a young nurse herself, living a life of solitude and guilt-ridden for ruining her sister's chance at happiness. She attempts to make things right, but with the war on the doorstep, her atonement may just have come too late...
This truly is one of the great wartime romance films with some absolutely fantastic performances, especially from James McAvoy and Keira Knightley (arguably her best ever work), but the finest performance is possibly from young Saoirse Roman who plays Briony as the young precocious girl.
My only criticism is that director Joe Wright seemed to dip the entire film as Oscar bait, directed and edited to within an inch of it's life so it would be nominated in as many categories as possible. It's a ploy which wasn't entirely necessary, since the film was nominated for seven awards, ironically missing out on a Best Director nod.
Despite that criticism, it can't be denied that the film does have some beautiful photography, faithful production design which captures both pre-war Britain and the conflict itself, as well as iconic costumes (especially THAT green dress). 
Perhaps it's a film which may not be fully appreciated on an initial viewing, but is certainly worth a second watch.

D: Joe Cornish
Studio Canal/UK Film Council/Big Talk/Film4 (Nira Park & James Wilson)
🇬🇧 2011
88 mins
Science Fiction
W: Joe Cornish 
DP: Tom Townsend
Ed: Jonathan Amos
Mus: Basement Jaxx & Steven Price
Jodie Whittaker (Samantha Adams), John Boyega (Moses), Alex Esmail (Pest), Franz Drameh (Dennis), Leeon Jones (Jerome), Simon Howard (Biggz), Luke Treadaway (Brewis), Nick Frost (Ron)
"Bear alienz with a zed, innit bruv? Dey iz bear invaydin' the 'hood n tingz, you knowz wot I is sayin'?"
Actually, no. I don't. And the above sentence is actually more intelligible than the majority of dialogue in this pathetic excuse for entertainment.
Strangely enough, this film did find some moderate success with a demographic I share nothing in common with but this just seems ample proof that a fool and their money are easily parted.
To me, this film is just a bunch of shits behaving like a bunch of shits and these are the fuckers the audience are supposed to be rooting for???? I just don't get it and for that reason I switched it off and pretended that the aliens won, for I am a cynic who would rather face Armageddon than put my faith in a group of drug-dealing, antisocial rapists who can't construct an intelligent sentence and lack even the slightest bit of charm. Disrespectful, odious cretins!
Personally, I think 'rudeboyz' and gang culture is a disgrace to Britain and I find it distasteful that a film exists where this style of characterisation should be embraced. Projects like this only make me cheer the demise of the UK Film Council so trash like it can't find their way onto cinema screens. I just wonder which library or museum had to close it's doors in order for this piece of shit to be funded.

D: Takashi Miike
Tartan (Akemi Suyama & Satoshi Fukushima) 
🇯🇵 1999 (released 2000)
115 mins
W: Daisuke Tengan
DP: Hideo Yamamoto
Ed: Yasushi Shimamura
Mus: Koji Endo
Ryo Ishibashi (Shigeharu Aoyama), Eihi Shiina (Asami Yamasaki), Miyuki Matsuda (Ryoko Aoyama), Jun Kunimura (Yoshikawa)
Several years after losing his wife to cancer, a film producer/director uses a casting call to 'audition' a host of women so he can choose one for his next love interest.  He instantly falls in love with one of the women. A polite, shy, petite and beautiful young dancer who seems like the perfect catch.  However, when he begins to date her, this dream catch soon turns into a nightmare as it transpires that she is a damaged soul and is really after revenge for previously being used and abused by men.
The final act is truly one of the most horrifying, nightmarish scenes to ever be put on camera and is every man's worst possible nightmare.  
Anyone who's seen this film will truly fear the words "Kiri, Kiri, Kiri"

D: Jay Roach
New Line/Eric's Boy/Moving Pictures (Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd, Demi Moore & Mike Myers)
🇺🇸 1997
87 mins


W: Mike Myers
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Debra Neil-Fisher
Mus: George S. Clinton 
Pd: Cynthia Charette
Cos: Deena Appel

Mike Myers (Austin Powers/Dr. Evil), Elizabeth Hurley (Vanessa Kensington), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Mimi Rogers (Mrs. Kensington), Robert Wagner (Number Two), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Fabiana Udenio (Alotta Fagina), Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina)

A hilarious spoof of James Bond films which probably came out at just the right time, amassing a huge fan base and giving the world a handful of quotes which would be popular for the best part of a decade.
Mike Myers delivers a good comedy performance in the dual role of both the British super spy Austin Powers and his arch nemesis Dr. Evil.
After being cryogenically frozen and being thawed out in the 1990's, Austin Powers still has 1960's attitudes to free love, promiscuoity and pop music whilst trying to foil Dr. Evil, who himself was frozen for thirty years and has awoken to absolutely no knowledge of financial inflation (he holds the world to ransom for $1 million dollars, a running joke in the series).
It's great camp fun which spawned a couple of sequels, the first of which was one of the biggest box office hits of its year.

D: Jay Roach
New Line/Eric's Boy/Moving Pictures (Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd, Demi Moore & Eric McLeod)
🇺🇸 1999
91 mins


W: Mike Myers & Michael McCullers
DP: Ueli Steiger
Ed: Debra Neil-Fisher
Mus: George S. Clinton 
Pd: Rusty Smith
Cos: Deena Appel

Mike Myers (Austin Powers/Dr. Evil/Fat Bastard), Heather Graham (Felicity Shagwell), Elizabeth Hurley (Vanessa Kensington), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina), Verne Troyer (Mini Me)

Despite arriving only two years after the first film and pretty much following the same formula, this sequel is every bit as funny as it's predecessor.  This time, the 60's spy is sent back to the 1960's to foil inept villain Dr. Evil and is assisted with new partner Felicity Shagwell.
The new characters bring a freshness to the comedy and the introduction of Dr. Evil's smaller clone, Mini Me, is just genius. Groovy baby!

D: James Cameron
20th Century Fox/Lightstorm (James Cameron & Jon Landau)
🇺🇸 2009
155 mins
Science Fiction
W: James Cameron
DP: Mauro Fiore
Ed: Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua & James Cameron
Mus: James Horner
Pd: Rick Carter & Robert Stromberg
Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldana (Neyteri), Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine), Giovanni Ribisi (Parker Selfridge), Wes Studi (Eytukan), Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacón), Stephen Lang (Col. Miles Quaritch)
Aesthetically, Avatar could potentially be the greatest and most creative motion picture in cinema history. Every frame of action has so much scale and depth unlike anything ever seen before. The conceptual design of the alien tribes, landscapes, wildlife and plants are breathtakingly imagined, in addition to all the other CGI visual effects on display. You have to hand it to director James Cameron, he sure can put on the greatest show on earth.
Storytelling and story-writing however, are two completely different beasts, and that where Avatar's flaws lie.
Set on the faraway planet of Pandora, wheelchair-bound soldier takes his late brother's place in a scientific program where he is able to control an alien species avatar and infiltrate their tribe, the point being to negotiate a peace before human diggers destroy their homestead to mine for a precious element, unimaginatively called Unobtainium.     
However, the more time he spends amongst the Na'vi alien clan, the more he appreciates their lifestyle and customs, yearning to be one of them rather than the greedy human 'skypeople'.
To those who have seen films such as Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai or Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, the plot was predictable from it's early moments, even though Cameron throws in a few Vietnam/Iraq War allegories and some pro-ecological minded babble. The characters, cliches, caricatures and banal dialogue aren't too far from the usual you'd find in any other action-adventure-science fiction movie.
Practically every single human character lacks the dimension which makes the visuals such a spectacle to behold, especially the human villains, who just seem to be dicks simply because the script calls for it.
In short, Avatar is Disneyland for the eyes, but has far too many shortcomings to be classed overall as one of the very best films ever made. 

D: Jeremiah Chechik
Warner Bros. (Jerry Weintraub)
🇺🇸 1998
89 mins
W: Don McPherson [based on the TV show]             
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: Joel McNeely
PD: Stuart Craig
Ralph Fiennes (John Steed), Uma Thurman (Emma Peel), Sean Connery (Sir August de Wynter), Jim Broadbent (Mother), Fiona Shaw (Father), Eddie Izzard (Bailey), Eileen Atkins (Alice), John Wood (Trubshaw), Keeley Hawes (Tamara)
Big screen incarnation of a cult 60's TV show which is so incredibly bad, it's an embarrassment for all involved.
The plot (or lack of) concerns two spies who foil a maniacal plot by a mad scientist who holds the world to ransom by controlling the weather.  Unfortunately, the characters are so undeveloped, the 'jokes' are so poor and the performances are so lazy, you really don't care if the good guys win the day, you simply want the film to be over as soon as possible.
D: Joss Whedon
Paramount/Marvel (Kevin Fiege)
🇺🇸 2012
137 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Joss Whedon [based on characters from Marvel's comic books]
DP: Seamus McGarvey
Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Lisa Lassek
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Pd: James Chinlund
Cos: Alexandra Byrne

Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanov/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddlestone (Loki), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)

It's like the party of the year, and everyone's been invited.
What writer/director Joss Whedon has done here is blended all the elements of what makes a great summer blockbuster successful without compromising characters, a good story or shitting over the fans of the original franchises- it was a tough ask too, considering this movie contained characters from several.
All the action set pieces were a marvel to behold without distracting with gratuitous, dizzying pyrotechnics, flashy camera movements and relentless editing.
This movie works as an apex to all the recent Marvel movies (Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor) but can also be appreciated as a standalone movie, with the four superheroes joining an allegiance to defeat the otherworldly army of the mischievious, power-hungry Loki (it helps if you've seen Thor or are familiar with the comic book characters, but it's not wholly essential).
Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and others all return to reprise their roles from the previous films, but it was a real catch casting Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. He nailed the character perfectly and without doubt delivers the most faithful portrayal of the character on the big screen thus far. It's also good to see a realistic CGI Hulk following the rather disappointing incarnations in the previous films.
A sequel was inevitable, and rightly so, the superhero subgenre, especially of Marvel characters is hot property for Hollywood, and for all the right reasons. Not to be mixed up with 1998's The Avengers.

D: Joss Whedon
Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)
🇺🇸 2015
141 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Joss Whedon
DP: Ben Davis
Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Lisa Lassek
Mus: Brian Tyler & Danny Elfman

Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanov/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton / Hawkeye), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver), Elizabeth Olson (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (voice of J.A.R.V.I.S./Vision), James Spader (Ultron), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)

The Superman IV of the Marvel films. 
Actually, that's not at all fair, the production values, visual effects and action set pieces are every bit as good as previous films from the Marvel universe, it's just the story that's complete hodgepodge.
As with the previous films, it's absolutely imperative that all previous films are watched in chronological order as they all follow off one another. 
The story sees Tony Stark, in a cross between playing God and fighting his own demons, toy with something he doesn't understand in order to put a powerful force field around the Earth to protect it from events in the first film from happening again. Things go wrong and Stark's own software becomes corrupted, resulting in a team of metal soldiers bringing about the threat of apocalypse.
It's best not to think about the story, which is a complete mishmash of nonsense, and focus merely on the string of action set pieces, put together with state-of-the-art computer effects and timely choreography.
Unlike the 2012 film, this does try to cram in far too much information and way too many characters. It feels like a house party where everyone is vying for attention, but all you really want to do is have a few beers in the kitchen. 
The Avengers films really need to be a main event in the Marvel series of films, but this still feels much like a sideshow, preparing things for the next in the series rather than being a standalone movie of its own.


D: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)

🇺🇸 2018

149 mins

Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Christopher Marcus & Stephen McFeely

DP: Trent Opaloch

Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Matthew Schmidt

Mus: Alan Silverstri

Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes / War Machine), Tom Holland (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa / Black Panther), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill / Star Lord), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Groot), Dave Bautista (Drax), Zoe Saldana (Gamora)


Celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes this 19th film since 2008's Iron Man set the franchise on its money-spinning way, amassing a gargantuan cast of characters for this comic book adventure. 

The story picks up from the strands from many of the films which precludes it, particularly the first two Avengers movies, the two Guardians Of The Galaxy films and the third Thor movie, but it would be incredibly beneficial to have seen all 18 Marvel movies leading up to this one, so you know exactly where the story is.  It probably would be accessible to watch this as a standalone film, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Directors Anthony & Joe Russo do an excellent job amassing the cast, just as they did with Captain America: Civil War, and though the film has a trio of main storylines, it's not difficult to follow.

The plot concerns our superheroes trying to prevent bad guy Thanos from claiming all six infinity stones, which he plans to place in his weaponised gauntlet to become the most powerful being in the universe, a nefarious plan which will culminate in the demise of half the population of all planets.

The action begins straight away, with Thanos attacking the refugees of Asgard to claim the Space Stone, hidden inside the Tesseract which Loki smuggled away before his home planet's destruction. 

The Avengers then amass, even collaborating with the Guardians of The Galaxy to prevent Thanos from claiming the remaining stones, which will allow him to control time, souls and minds, as well the universe in its entirety.

For fans of superhero movies and the MCU in particular, this will be everything they want and more, and even if you're not a huge fan of comic-book movies this is still an amazing show, with state of the art visual effects which deserve to be seen on the big screen (the bigger the better, and preferably in 3D).

There are a few plotholes if you look deep enough, some of the major characters are relegated to mere comic-relief and some of the humour doesn't quite marry up with some of the bleaker moments. The cliffhanger ending also seems like a cynical trap to ensure that the audience return for the next film (released in 2019), but this is every bit worth the price of an admission ticket and is the definitive popcorn event movie of 2018's summer, proved by the financial return over its opening weekend, where it broke all records.

I'd say 75% of this movie is the best superhero movie ever, but the closing scene does leave you high and dry & makes you feel like you've just witness a two & a half hour trailer for the next Avengers film.


"Some men dream the future. He built it."
"Some men dream the future. He built it."
D: Martin Scorsese
Warner Bros./Miramax/Initial (Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King & Charles Evans, Jr.)
🇺🇸 2004
163 mins


W: John Logan
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Thelma Schoonmaker
Mus: Howard Shore
Pd: Dante Ferretti
Cos: Sandy Powell

Leonardo DiCaprio (Howard Hughes), Kate Beckinsale (Ava Gardner), Cate Blanchett (Katharine Hepburn), John C. Reilly (Noah Dietrich), Alec Baldwin (Juan Trippe), Alan Alda (Senator Ralph Owen Brewster), Ian Holm (Professor Fritz), Danny Huston (Jack Frye), Gwen Stefani (Jean Harlow), Jude Law (Errol Flynn)

From director Martin Scorsese comes this masterful biopic of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes, born into money as heir to a drill but fortune, the film opens with Howard Hughes on the set of Hell's Angels, a film he produced and directed at great cost which was making him a laughing stock of Hollywood. The film was however very well received. 
The movie then concentrates on his romantic relationships with Hollywood A-listers whilst also designing and funding new aircraft for the military and his own pet project, the largest seaplane ever made - The Hercules (aka The Spruce Goose, a nickname Hughes himself hated).
The final act of the film focuses on Howard Hughes' fighting a bill so that his TWA empire has freedom to offer international flights, thus being huge competition for Pan Am, who at the time had exclusivity for that business.
The film is incredibly faithful to the flamboyant billionaire, even in it's representation of his obsessive compulsive disorder, and it has to be said that Leonardo DiCaprio delivers an absolutely mesmerising performance. Cate Blanchett is also fantastic as actress Katharine Hepburn, who was romantically involved with Howard Hughes before she met Spencer Tracy.
All aspects of the production are bang on the money, from the Art Deco style of the period to the sumptuous Hollywood gowns.
Even if you had no interest in the life and achievements of the eccentric aviation pioneer, it's worth watching for it's spirited entertainment value.  

"There is no such thing as a simple miracle."
"There is no such thing as a simple miracle."
D: Penny Marshall
Columbia Tristar (Lawrence Lasker & Walter F. Parkes)
🇺🇸 1990
121 mins
W: Steven Zaillian [based on the book by Dr. Oliver Sacks]
DP: Miroslav Ondricek
Ed: Jerry Greenberg
Mus: Randy Newman
Pd: Anton Furst
Robin Williams (Dr. Malcolm Sayer), Robert DeNiro (Leonard Lowe), Julie Kavner (Eleanor Costello), Ruth Nelson (Mrs. Lowe), John Heard (Dr. Kaufman), Penelope Ann Miller (Paula), Max Von Sydow (Dr. Peter Ingham)
Based on an inspiring true story, Robin Williams plays a young neurologist who treats a group of patients suffering from encephalitis with a new drug, which brings them out of their catatonic state for the first time in 30 years, but the victims soon start to become immune to the drug and slip back into their comatose states.
The movie is a sentimental tearjerker, which has a needless pantomime villain in the shape of John Heard's character, but Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro are both excellent and have a fine on-screen partnership.  Penelope Ann Miller is also very good as DeNiro's love interest.
A truly emotional experience.

D: Sheldon Lettich
Wrong Bet/Imperial Entertainment (Ash R. Shah & Eric Karson)
🇺🇸 1990
108 mins
W: Sheldon Lettich & Jean Claude Van Damme
DP: Robert C. New
Ed: Mark Conte
Mus: John Scott
Jean Claude Van Damme (Lyon Gaultier), Harrison Page (Joshua Eldridge), Deborah Rennard (Cynthia), Lisa Pelikan (Helene Gaultier), Ashley Johnson (Nicole Gaultier)
Arguably Jean Claude Van Damme's best martial arts flick. 
He plays a deserter from the Foreign Legion who becomes a bare knuckle fighter on the streets of America to raise money for his brother's family after he is attacked in a violent assault.
Like similar films of the genre, it doesn't have much by way of brains, but makes up for it with plenty of brawn and the occasional dosage of sentimentality. 
The fight scenes are very well choreographed and directed, making up for the Muscles From Brussels' lack of acting skills.