D: Spike Lee

40 Acres & A Mule (Spike Lee & Monty Ross)

🇺🇸 1989

120 mins


W: Spike Lee

DP: Ernest Dickerson

Ed: Barry Alexander Brown

Mus: Bill Lee

Danny Aiello (Sal), Ossie Davis (Da Mayor), Ruby Dee (Mother Sister), Richard Edson (Vito), Giancarlo Esposito (Buggin' Out), Spike Lee (Mookie), Bill Nunn (Radio Raheem), Rosie Perez (Tina), John Turturro (Pino)

Spike Lee's breakthrough film, presenting racial issues that the political filmmaker felt that Hollywood had a tendency to ignore.

The film takes place on a scorching summer day in multiracial Brooklyn neighbourhood. The local eatery, Sal's Famous Pizzeria, owned by Italian-American Sal and his two sons is the main focal point of the story, where delivery boy Mookie does as little as possible in his dead-end job, occasionally being on the wrong side of bigotry by Sal's embittered son Pino. Mookie acts as a mediator when the neighbourhood's self-styled political activist, Buggin' Out, kicks up a fuss that the pizza restaurant has a lack of African-Americans on its 'wall of fame', a trivial matter which ultimately sparks a riot in the streets, born out of intolerance, frustration and pure vitriol.

The film balances finely between a race relations drama and propaganda, which isn't helped by an ending which fails to address the issues it raises and counters this with a Martin Luther King quote that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

It's quite an irony that 1989 saw the Oscars honour a film (Driving Miss Daisy) that suggested racism wasn't a problem and virtually ignored this, which has an opposite view. It's also quite ironic that, out of a huge ensemble of African-American actors, it was Danny Aiello who received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, although he does do a great job in making a likeable character out of someone suppressing unconscious prejudices.  

The film doesn't really have heroes or villains, just a mixture of realistic characters thrown into a melting pot. The success opened the door for a new generation of black filmmakers, including John Singleton, who released the far more insightful Boyz N The Hood two years later.


D.O.A. (18)
D: Rocky Morton & Annabel Jankel
Warner Bros./Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners III (Jan Sandler & Laura Ziskin)
🇺🇸 1988
97 mins


W: Charles Edward Pogue [based on a screenplay by Russell Rouse & Clarence Greene]
DP: Yuri Neyman
Ed: Michael R. Miller & Raja Gosnell
Mus: Chaz Jankel

Dennis Quaid (Prof. Dexter Cornell), Meg Ryan (Sydney Fuller), Charlotte Rampling (Mrs. Fitzwaring), Daniel Stern (Hal Petersham), Jane Kaczmarek (Gail Cornell)

Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan star in this remake of a 1950 thriller of the same name, where Quaid plays a victim of a slow-acting poison caught in a race against time to solve his own murder.
The performances here are fine, but the film is almost completely without suspense. Considering there were two directors calling the shots, you'd think one of them could get it right.

"They have the looks that kill."
"They have the looks that kill."
D: Cory Yeun
Universal/Dimension (Paul W. S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer, Bernd Eichinger & Mark A. Altman)           
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇩🇪 2006
87 mins


W: J. F. Lawton, Adam Gross & Seth Gross [based on characters created by Tomonobu Itagaki]
DP: Venus Keung & Chan Chi Yang
Ed: Eddie Hamilton
Mus: Junkie XL

Devon Aoki (Kasumi), Holly Valance (Christie), Jaime Pressly (Tina Armstrong), Sarah Carter (Helena Douglas), Eric Roberts (Dr. Victor Donovan)

Paul W. S. Anderson has shaped his entire career out of adapting video games into crap movies. For this, he hands the directorial reins to Cory Yeun and takes on a producer role, but the result still isn't too far adrift than Anderson's output.
There's lots of scantily clad ladies, fight scenes and terrible acting performances with very little in the way of plot. 
Perhaps you need to be a fan of the original Japanese series to enjoy this. Either way, it's still marginally better than Mortal Kombat & Streetfighter.

"The impossibilities are endless"
"The impossibilities are endless"


D: Scott Derrickson

Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)

🇺🇸 2016

115 mins


W: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill [based on characters written by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko]

DP: Ben Davis

Ed: Wyatt Smith & Sabrina Plisco

Mus: Michael Giacchino

PD: Charles Wood

Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Karl Mordo), Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer), Benedict Wong (Wong), Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One), Mads Mikkelson (Kaecilius)

The Marvel comic book character Doctor Strange was originally tackled in 1978 with a TV movie, but without any real budget or the technology for special effects, it's fair to say that this version failed to take flight.

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full operational swing and filmmaking tricks now able to convincingly bring the magic to the string, this 2016 film not only blows the 1978 version out of the water, it practically destroys its existence (I haven't reviewed the 1978 version on this website because of its television roots).

The origin tale follows the path of Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon who suffers irreparable nerve damage following a car accident, and when conventional medicine fails to remedy him, he turns to a mysterious cult in Nepal who teach him of spiritual arts, including the separation of the physical world from the astral world, allowing him to bend the rules of time, space and physics.

An enemy rears his head in the form of Kaecilius, who separated ties with the cult in order to practice the dark side of the spiritual arts. 

The effects are easily the most impressive ever seen in a Marvel film, with no bounds to the limitations, but some of the visuals will seem incredibly familiar to other films (Inception, The Matrix) and the story follows the all too familiar origin story path. Even the character of Doctor Strange is modelled so close on Tony Stark, they could easily be related. That being said, Benedict Cumberbatch fits the character like a glove and the film sets up a follow-up film to perfection.

The superhero genre may be a little oversaturated recently, but with offerings like this, there's still plenty of mileage to go for Marvel.


D: David Lean
MGM (Carlo Ponti)
🇬🇧 🇮🇹 1965
197 mins


W: Robert Bolt [based on the novel by Boris Pasternak]
DP: Freddie Young
Ed: Norman Savage
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: John Box
Cos: Phyllis Dalton

Julie Christie (Lara), Geraldine Chaplin (Tonya), Tom Courtenay (Pasha/Strelnikoff), Alec Guinness (Yevgraf), Siobhan McKenna (Anna), Ralph Richardson (Alexander), Omar Sharif (Yuri), Rod Steiger (Komarovsky)

You can't deny that David Lean's romantic epic set against the backdrop of World War I is a beautifully photographed, meticulously crafted piece of cinema, but at 192 minutes, it's not really a film you'd want to watch more than once.
The complex story follows a Moscow doctor, exiled from his country during the communist revolution and separated from his only love.
Many scenes from Boris Pasternak's classic novel have been omitted from the film, so it might make more sense if you read the book first. Still, it has many memorable scenes, performances and Maurice Jarre's haunting music.

D: Sidney Lumet
Artists Entertainment (Martin Bregman & Martin Elfand)
🇺🇸 1975
130 mins


W: Frank Pierson
DP: Victor J. Kemper
Ed: Dede Allen
PD: Charles Bailey
Cos: Anna Hill Johnstone

Al Pacino (Sonny Wortzik), John Cazale (Sal Naturale), Charles Durning (Sgt. Eugene Moretti), Chris Sarandon (Leon Shermer), Sully Boyar (Mulvaney), Penny Allen (Sylvia), James Broderick (Agent Sheldon), Carol Kane (Jenny), Susan Peretz (Angie Wortzik), Beulah Garrick (Margaret)

Based on a remarkable true story of a bank robbery gone wrong in the summer of 1972, Dog Day Afternoon is a brilliant crime drama which features one of Al Pacino's all time best performances. He plays Sonny Wortzik, an incompetent Brooklyn bank robber who plans to use the money to fund his gay lover's gender change operation.
A few liberties are taken with the facts, mostly to make it's lead character more likeable and sympathetic, but using smoke and mirrors to manipulate the facts doesn't do this movie and harm or detract from the dramatic story at the centre. Frank Pierson's Oscar-winning screenplay is both witty, touching and respectful to it's (then) controversial subject, handled well by Sidney Lumet's professional direction.  
Without a doubt, Dog Day Afternoon is amongst the best films of the 1970's.

"Every dog happens for a reason."
"Every dog happens for a reason."


D: Lasse Hallström

Universal/Amblin/Reliance/Walden/Pariah (Gavin Palone)

🇺🇸 2017

100 mins


W: W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Audrey Wells, Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky [based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron]

DP: Terry Stacey

Ed: Robert Leighton

Mus: Rachel Portman

Josh Gad (narrator), Dennis Quaid (Ethan Montgomery), K.J. Apa (Teenage Ethan), Juliet Rylance (Elizabeth Montgomery), Peggy Lipton (Hannah), Britt Robertson (Teenage Hannah)

This family fantasy follows the life of a dog as it is reincarnated as various breeds over the course of six decades, eventually coming back into the life of a man who owned him when he was a teenage boy.

Josh Gad provides the narration voice for the dog through its various lives as it attempts to learn its reason for being, and each life the dog lives each has its own style.

For dog lovers, this movie may very well be adored, but it does come with a heavy dose of saccharine. Personally, I think for films like this to work, the narrator has to be perfectly cast, and this is where the movie fails. Josh Gad's voice just doesn't sound right for the part. 

It has its heart in the right place and the dogs are very cute, but it's just an average, rather forgettable film. A shame, considering Lasse Hallström had pedigree directing similar films (see Hachi: A Dog's Tale)


"Get 'touched' by an angel."
"Get 'touched' by an angel."
DOGMA (15)
D: Kevin Smith
Miramax/View Askew (Scott Mosier)
🇺🇸 1999
135 mins


W: Kevin Smith
DP: Robert Yeoman
Ed: Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Robert 'Ratface' Holtzman

Ben Affleck (Bartleby), Matt Damon (Loki), Linda Fiorentino (Bethany), Salma Hayek (Serendipity), Jason Lee (Azrael), Alan Rickman (Metatron), Chris Rock (Rufus), Jason Mewes (Jay), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob), George Carlin (Cardinal Glick), Alanis Morissette (God)

Kevin Smith's controversial satire on Catholism will doubtlessly offend religious viewers, but for those who aren't devout to the Christian faith may find it quite a humorous comic-book fantasy.
Matt Damon & Ben Affleck play two exiled angels who have been roaming the Earth for two millennia. They discover a loophole which will allow them to return to heaven, an act which will cause Armageddon. 
Equally bizarre and theological, Kevin Smith's point that religious faith has been dumbed down doesn't come across all that clearly, resulting in a bit of a mess for the intended satire, but there's more than enough comedy to satisfy fans of his previous work, and the characters Jay & Silent Bob reappear as part of a group given a mission to prevent the fallen angels from carrying out their plans.
The clever, often hilarious dialogue in the screenplay more than makes up for some of the poor performances, particularly from Salma Hayek.

D: Jeremy Leven
New Line/American Zoetrope (Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Fuchs & Patrick Palmer)
🇺🇸 1995
90 mins


W: Jeremy Leven
DP: Ralf Bode
Ed: Tony Gibbs
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: Sharon Seymour

Marlon Brando (Dr. Jack Mickler), Johnny Depp (John Arnold DeMarco), Faye Dunaway (Marilyn Mickler), Geraldine Pailhas (Doña Ana), Rachel Ticotin (Doña Inez)

Despite a good performance from Johnny Depp as a young man who claims to be the legendary lover, this is a film which doesn't quite work as well as it could have.
Partly a spoof of old-fashioned swashbuckler movies, it gets bogged down with psycho-babble as Marlon Brando's psychiatrist examines the cape-adorned, mask-wearing young man.
Die-hard fans of Johnny Depp will enjoy it more than others, who'll find Bryan Adams theme song ("Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman") the most entertaining thing about it.

"This party has gone overboard."
"This party has gone overboard."
D: Olly Blackburn
Crown International/Magnolia (Angus Lamont, Robin Gutch & Mark Herbert)
🇬🇧 2008
99 mins
W: David Bloom & Olly Blackburn
DP: Nanu Segal
Ed: Kate Evans
Mus: François-Eudes Chanfrault
Robert Boulter (Sean), Sian Breckin (Lisa), Tom Burke (Bluey), Nichola Burley (Tammi), Julian Morris (Josh), Jay Taylor (Marcus), Jaime Winstone (Kim)
Donkey Punch is a thoroughly unpleasant British thriller named after a similarly unpleasant sexual practice in which the recipient of anal penetration is punched in the back of the head at the moment of climax, so basically it's like rape. Classy.
In the film, a group of common English slappers on their holidays in Mallorca meet a group of horny deckhands, all of whom think they're Danny Dyer for some unknown reason. They take the girls aboard their yacht to take lots of drugs and give the tarts the fuck of their lives. It all goes wrong however when one of the lads attempts the questionable sexual practice and ends up killing the girl (because you'd have to be stupid to not realise that punching someone in the back of the head can be a fatal assault!)
A cover-up is then planned so that the murder isn't discovered, although by this time, you couldn't give a shit if they all died, the characters are so morally abhorrent, it's impossible to sympathise with any of them. 
The production values are no better than a student film, complete with insipid dialogue and a storyline with no redeeming features and an ambiguous moral which is either trying to say that young ladies ought to be less uninhibited when they go on their jollies or, more likely, not to punch someone in the back of their head while you're fucking them.
"In 1978, the US government waged a war against organised crime. One man was left behind the lines."
"In 1978, the US government waged a war against organised crime. One man was left behind the lines."
D: Mike Newell
Mandalay/Baltimore (Mark Johnson, Barry Levinson, Louis DiGiaimo & Gail Mutrux)
🇺🇸 1997
127 mins


W: Paul Attanasio [based on the book 'Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life In The Mafia' by Joseph D. Pistone & Richard Woodley]
DP: Peter Sova
Ed: Jon Gregory
Mus: Patrick Doyle
PD: Donald Graham Burt
Cos: Aude Bronson-Howard & David Robinson

Johnny Depp (Donnie Brasco/Joe Pistone), Al Pacino (Lefty Ruggerio), Michael Madsen (Sonny Black), Bruno Kirby (Nicky), James Russo (Paulie), Anne Heche (Maggie Pistone), Zeljko Ivanek (Tim Curley)

Based on true events, Donnie Brasco is a gangster movie which very much studies the conventions and mannerisms of the mobster lifestyle. 
Johnny Depp is scintillatingly good as Joseph Pistone, an FBI agent posing undercover as Donnie Brasco, getting in tight with one of the mob kingpins, Lefty Ruggerio (Al Pacino), to the point where his real identity has faded away and his cover becomes his real personality.
Two great leading performances and an intelligent script make this one of the better gangster movies of the late 90's, well directed by Mike Newell.

"Twenty eight days, six hours, forty two minutes, twelve seconds... That is when the world will end."
"Twenty eight days, six hours, forty two minutes, twelve seconds... That is when the world will end."
D: Richard Kelly
Metrodome/Pandora/Flower (Sean McKittrick, Nancy Juvenon & Adam Fields)
🇺🇸 2001
113 mins

Science Fiction

W: Richard Kelly
DP: Steven Poster
Ed: Sam Bauer & Eric Strand
Mus: Michael Andrews

Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko), Jena Malone (Gretchen Ross), Drew Barrymore (Karen Pomeroy), James Duval (Frank), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Elizabeth Darko), Mary McDonnell (Rose Darko), Holmes Osborne (Eddie Darko), Katherine Ross (Dr. Lilian Thurman), Patrick Swayze (Jim Cunningham), Noah Wyle (Dr. Monnitoff)

Donnie Darko is a refreshingly original debut project from independent filmmaker Richard Kelly.
Set in the late 1980's, a troubled teenage boy with psychological problems is haunted by a soothsaying giant rabbit who tells Donnie that the world will be coming to an end, leaving the high school student piecing together the ambiguous messages he receives in his narcoleptic state to prevent the omen from happening.
The lurid story appears to be going nowhere in particular until the final act ties everything up with a unique and brilliant twist, settling on a profound final scene which will stick with you long after the credits roll.
The film is packed with clever references and mis-en-scene and lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal gives a brilliant breakthrough performance as the title character.
The film only received a limited release in 2001, but cult status helped it achieve the bigger distribution that it deserved. 
Amongst the best films of the decade.


D: Fede Alvarez

Screen Gems/Stage 6/Ghost House/Good Universe (Fede Alvarez, Sam Raimi & Robert Tapert)

🇺🇸 2016

88 mins


W: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues

DP: Pedro Luque

Ed: Eric L. Beason, Louise Ford & Gardner Gold

Mus: Roque Banos

Stephen Lang (Norman Nordstrom, "The Blind Man"), Jane Levy (Rocky), Dylan Minnette (Alex), Daniel Zovatto (Money), Franciska Törôcsik (Cindy Roberts)

Wait Until Dark (qv) for the 21st century, following a trio of teenage thieves who break into homes to fund their plans to travel to California. 

Rocky (Jane Levy) is the main protagonist of the three, and along with her douchebag boyfriend, Money, and her besotted friend, Alex, they plan robberies based on the database which Alex's dad has in his security company, so they can use copies of keys and utilise knowledge of the alarm systems.

They plan for their last job to be in the house of a blind man, whose cash horde is believed to be $300,000.

Of course, the blind loner is far less helpless than the robbers assume and the deadly game of cat-and-mouse begins, only for it to emerge that the blind man is more morally reprehensible than a gang of lowlife thieves, even if the girl of the group comes from a broken home in a pathetic attempt for the audience to feel sympathy for her plight.

There isn't any good guy here, and it's one of them films where you couldn't care less who comes out alive at the end of it.

There's a good concept here, but it really is ruined by the fact that all the characters are poorly written.

Don't Bother. Watch Wait Until Dark instead.


D: Nicolas Roeg
Casey/Eldorado (Peter Katz)
🇬🇧 🇮🇹 1973
110 mins


W: Allan Scott & Chris Bryant [based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier]
DP: Anthony Richmond
Ed: Graeme Clifford
Mus: Pino Donaggio

Julie Christie (Laura Baxter), Donald Sutherland (John Baxter), Hilary Mason (Heather), Clelia Matania (Wendy), Massimo Serato (Bishop), Renato Scarpa (Inspector Longhi)

Don't Look Now is amongst the creepiest horror movies of the 1970's, if not all time.
Following the death of their young daughter, a married couple visit Venice where they meet two eerie sisters who claim they can contact the dead girl.
The father is cynical to such claims, but soon sees a red-coated figure in various shadowy locations around the city, which he believes to be the spirit of his young daughter.  Then he confronts it...
Nicolas Roeg's atmospheric mystery captures a macabre story amongst the picturesque locations, making this one of the all-time great scary movies. Donald Sutherland & Julie Christie deliver brilliantly realistic performances as the married couple and the chilling score will give even the most cold-blooded audience member the shivers.
As for the denouement, it simply has to be seen to be appreciated. 

"No rules. No nagging. No curfews. No pulse."
"No rules. No nagging. No curfews. No pulse."
D: Stephen Herek
Warner Bros./HBO/Cinema Plus/Outlaw/Mercury (Robert Newmyer, Brian Reilly & Jeffrey Silver)
🇺🇸 1991
105 mins
W: Neil Landau & Tara Ison
DP: Tim Suhrstedt
Ed: Larry Bock
Mus: David Newman 
Christina Applegate (Sue Ellen Crandell), Joanna Cassidy (Rose Lindsey), John Getz (Gus Brandon), Josh Charles (Bryan), Keith Coogan (Kenny Crandall), Concetta Tomei (Mrs. Crandell), David Duchovny (Bruce)
Silly but fun comedy for an MTV audience starring Christina Applegate as a young girl who supports her siblings by getting a job after the elderly babysitter dies when their mother goes away on vacation.
It's not particularly memorable and the story is quite lamentable, but considering the sillyness of the title, you pretty much get what you expect.

D: Oliver Stone
Guild/Carolco/Imagine (Bill Graham, Sasha Harari & A. Kitman Ho)
🇺🇸 1991
134 mins


W: Oliver Stone & J. Randal Johnson
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: David Brenner & Joe Hutshing
Mus: The Doors
PD: Barbara Ling

Val Kilmer (Jim Morrison) Frank Whaley (Robby Krieger), Kevin Dillon (John Densmore), Kyle MacLachlan (Ray Manzarek), Meg Ryan (Pamela Courson)

Val Kilmer is surprisingly very good in this biopic of the man behind the band, so much so in fact, that you would be forgiven for forgetting that it's not the real Jim Morrison. The movie does portray Morrison to be a bit of a pretentious enigma rather than the very troubled man that he clearly was. Great music though.

"What if your deepest, darkest desire came to life?"
"What if your deepest, darkest desire came to life?"
D: Avi Nesher
ITC (Donald P. Borchers)
🇺🇸 1993
100 mins
W: Avi Nesher
DP: Vance Newberry
Ed: Tatiana S. Riegel
Mus: Jan Kaczmarek
Drew Barrymore (Holly Gooding), George Newbern (Patrick Highsmith), Dennis Christopher (Dr. Heller), Leslie Hope (Elizabeth), Sally Kellerman (Sister Jan)

Drew Barrymore plays a young woman haunted by her lethal, ethereal double. Following her mother's death, she moves into a new apartment, shared with a budding writer who is confused by her seemingly schizophrenic behaviour.
This horror movie never really lives up to it's potential due to it's low-budget shackles, questionable performances and atrocious special effects makeup in the final act.
Not as bad as other horror films made around the same time, but it's not very good.

"From the moment they met it was murder."
"From the moment they met it was murder."
D: Billy Wilder
Paramount (Joseph Sistrom)
🇺🇸 1944
106 mins
W: Raymond Chandler & Billy Wilder [based on the novel by James M. Cain]
DP: John Seitz
Ed: Doane Harrison
Mus: Miklos Rozsa
PD: Hans Dreier & Hal Pereira
Cos: Edith Head
Fred MacMurray (Walter Neff), Barbara Stanwyck (Phyllis Deitrichson), Edward G. Robinson (Barton Keyes), Porter Hall (Mr. Jackson), Jean Heather (Lola Dietrichson), Tom Powers (Mr. Dietrichson), Gig Young (Nino Zachette)
Double Indemnity is one of the definitive film noir's of the 1940's. Fred MacMurray plays insurance salesman Walter Neff, who conspires with the glamorous wife of a client to commit fraud by murdering the husband and collecting on the policy.
Billy Wilder & Raymond Chandler expertly capture the morally duplicitous characters with the script and Barbara Stanwyck portrays the archetypal femme fatale who has become imitated in hundreds of films since.
A true classic of cinema's golden age.
"Murder isn't always a crime."
"Murder isn't always a crime."
D: Bruce Beresford
Paramount (Leonard Goldberg)
🇺🇸 1999
105 mins
W: David Weisberg & Douglas S. Cook
DP: Peter James
Ed: Mark Warner
Mus: Norman Corbeil
Tommy Lee Jones (Travis Lehman), Ashley Judd (Libby Parsons), Bruce Greenwood (Nick Parsons / Simon Ryder / Jonathan Devereaux), Annabeth Gish (Angie Green / Angie Ryder)
Ridiculously implausible thriller about a woman who is sentenced to prison for killing her husband, but later discovers that she has been framed and the husband faked his death so he could assimilate a new identity.
Upon her release from prison, she plans to murder him for real since a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice.
Despite the premise being quite enthralling, the film is turned into a ludicrous knock-off of The Fugitive with a female protagonist.
Despite all its shortcomings, it was a huge hit at the US box office, taking more than $100m.
DOUBT (15)
D: John Patrick Shanley
Miramax (Scott Rudin & Mark Roybal)
🇺🇸 2008
104 mins


W: John Patrick Shanley [based on his play]                 
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: David Gropman

Meryl Streep (Sister Aloysius Beauvier), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Father Brendan Flynn), Amy Adams (Sister James), Viola Davis (Mrs. Miller), Alice Drummond (Sister Veronica), Audrie Neenan (Sister Raymond), Joseph Foster II (Donald Miller), Susan Blommaert (Mrs. Carson), Carrie Preston (Christine Hurley), 

A very good screenplay gives four actors a fantastic opportunity to flex their acting muscles and they do so with aplomb.
Based on a play of the same title, the movie is incredibly set-bound and relies heavily on the dialogue between it's characters.
Meryl Streep plays a religious school's principal who suspects Philip Seymour Hoffman's priest of foul play with one of the students. 
The mystery is quite open in this film and you're often wondering if Hoffman's character really is guilty of something unsavoury or if Streep's character has manipulated it out of malice and dissatisfaction with the school losing it's more traditional roots.                      
The ambiguity goes on and culminates in a great scene with Streep & Hoffman at each other's throats in a face off.
The two leads are absolutely brilliant, Streep's character being quite unlikeable but also evoking sympathy, while Hoffman delivers one of his best ever performances.                  
Amy Adams & Viola Davis are also excellent as a fellow teacher and the student's parent, respectively.
Overall, the subject matter would work best as a stage play, but as a filmed adaptation, it doesn't have too many negatives.

"See what happens when a dirty bum meets the filthy rich."
"See what happens when a dirty bum meets the filthy rich."
D: Paul Mazursky
Touchstone (Paul Mazursky)
🇺🇸 1986
103 mins


W: Paul Mazursky & Leon Capetanos [based on the play 'Boudu Sauvé des Eaux' by Rene Fauchois]
DP: Donald McAlpine
Ed: Richard Halsey
Mus: Andy Summers
PD: Pato Guzman
Cos: Albert Wolsky

Nick Nolte (Jerry Baskin), Richard Dreyfuss (David Whiteman), Bette Midler (Barbara Whiteman), Little Richard (Orvis Goodnight), Elizabeth Pena (Carmen)

A wealthy Beverly Hills family have their lives turned upside down when a wandering vagrant tries to drown himself in their swimming pool.
The movie is a remake of French farce Boudu Sauvé de Eaux (Boudu Saved From Drowning) and features eccentric performances and characters. 
Enjoyable, amusing and effective, but not particularly memorable. As far as remakes go, however, it certainly isn't terrible.

D: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Constantin Films (Bernd Eichinger)
🇩🇪 🇦🇹 🇮🇹 2004 [released 2005] 
156 mins


W: Bernd Eichinger [based on the books "Inside Hitler's Bunker" by Joachim Fest & "Until The Final Hour" by Traudl Junge & Melissa Müller{
DP: Rainer Klausmann
Ed: Hans Funck
Mus: Stephen Zacharias

Bruno Ganz (Adolf Hitler), Alexandra Maria Lars (Traudl Junge), Corinna Harfouch (Magda Goebbels), Ulrich Matthews (Joseph Goebbels), Juliane Kohler (Eva Braun)

The final days of Hitler and his Third Reich officials is brought to the screen with meticulous attention to detail from Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Told mostly from the point of view of one of Hitler's young secretaries, the film counts down the final moments of life inside Hitler's bunker as Russian troops advance on Berlin, bringing with them the end of World War II. 
Bruno Ganz is phenomenal as the great dictator, especially in a scene which has become iconic in itself, when Hitler is told by his officers that the war is going to be lost (various versions have popped up on YouTube with alternative subtitles to refer to different subjects).
Corinna Harfouch, as Magda Goebbels, also has a powerful scene where she coldly poisons her own children as defeat begins to move in.
The film was met with some controversy for the way certain real life figures are portrayed, but it's a powerful drama, set in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a room where distasteful egos take up even more space.
Like Das Boot (qv), this is an excellent viewpoint of a heinous war from the losing side.

"We are meant for something bigger."
"We are meant for something bigger."


D: Alexander Payne

Paramount/Ad Hominem (Mark Johnson, Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor)

🇺🇸 2017

135 mins

Science Fiction/Comedy/Drama

W: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor

DP: Phedon Papamichael

Ed: Kevin Tent

Mus: Rolfe Kent

Matt Damon (Paul Safranek), Christoph Waltz (Dušan Mirković), Kristen Wiig (Audrey Safranek), Jason Sudeikis (Dave Johnson), Hong Chau (Ngoc Lan Tran), Udo Kier (Joris Konrad)

The concept Alexander Payne delivers with Downsizing is better than the movie, which begins quite promisingly but tails off in a direction where the issues it raises aren't clear, nor the genre of the movie itself.

Set in a near future where the Earth's resources are nearly depleted, Norwegian scientists create a procedure which becomes known as downsizing, where people are shrunk down to about five inches tall and can reside in communities where they live a life of leisure in opulent mansions. 

Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig), struggling with money problems and finding a suitable house, decide to undergo downsizing, but when Paul is miniaturised, he discovers that his wife didn't go through with it and subsequently files for divorce, taking half of their finances and sentencing him to a miserable life not too far removed from his one as a regular sized man. After striking a friendship with his obnoxious neighbour and a Vietnamese dissident who cleans apartments and scavenges for a living, Paul travels to Norway and the very first downsizing community where it emerges that the environment is in a much worse state than originally thought.

It's a shame that the movie itself downsizes from a quirky sci-fi comedy into a preachy sermon about how we should love our planet, and if the main premise were in the hands of a director like Spike Jonze or Wes Anderson, it could have been a much more different and interesting film. As is, it has some good production design and one excellent standout performance from Hong Chau, aside from this, it's among the biggest disappointments of 2017.

The trailer certainly mis-sold the movie.


D: Rouben Mamoulian
Paramount (Rouben Mamoulian)
🇺🇸 1931
80 mins (original version: 98 mins)


W: Samuel Hoffenstein & Percy Heath [based on the novel "The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson]
DP: Karl Struss
Ed: William Shea
PD: Hans Dreier
Cos: Travis Banton

Fredric March (Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde); Miriam Hopkins (Ivy Pearson); Rose Hobart (Muriel Carew); Holmes Herbert (Dr. Lanyon); Edgar Norton (Poole)

The first horror movie to win an Academy Award, with Fredric March deservedly earning the plaudits for his dual role as both the respectable, eccentric scientist Dr. Jekyll and his grotesque alter ego, Mr. Hyde, the latter of whom becomes overbearing when the chemist drinks a potion which he believes will separate the good and evil behavioural traits in his mind & soul.
Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel, the horror quotient isn't of any large magnitude, but perhaps this is a sign of the changing times. It's the filmmaking execution in this 1932 film which is years ahead of its time, especially a one-shot transformation scene which is achieved using only makeup and special photographic lenses. 
Released in the same year as Bela Lugosi's Dracula and Boris Karloff's Frankenstein, it's Fredric March whose performance really leaves the lasting memory.

D: Victor Fleming
MGM (Victor Saville & Victor Fleming)
🇺🇸 1941
122 mins


W: John Lee Mahin [based on the novel "The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson]
DP: Joseph Ruttenberg
Ed: Harold F. Kress
Mus: Franz Waxman

Spencer Tracy (Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde), Ingrid Bergman (Ivy Pearson), Lana Turner (Bea Emery), Ian Hunter (John Lanyom), Donald Crisp (Sir Charles Emery), Sara Allgood (Mrs. Higgins)

Miscast and misconceived version of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic story, which came about when MGM purchased the distribution rights from Paramount for the 1931 version and then quashed it, allowing this remake to materialise.
Spencer Tracy struggles with the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and his evil alter ego, but perhaps this is due to a lack of makeup. The film does utilise some good cinematography, but the bizarre inclusion of Freudian dream sequences is a complete mystery.
Worth watching for comparison only.

DR. NO (15)
D: Terence Young
United Artists/Eon (Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli)
🇬🇧 1962
111 mins


W: Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood & Berkeley Mather [based on the novel by Ian Fleming]
DP: Ted Moore
Ed: Peter Hunt
Mus: John Barry & Monty Norman
PD: Ken Adam

Sean Connery (James Bond), Jack Lord (Felix Leiter), Joseph Wiseman (Dr. No), Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder), Zena Marshall (Miss Taro), Eunice Gayson (Sylvia), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny), Bernard Lee ('M')

The first official venture of James Bond may lack the gadgetry, expensive stunts and over-the-top adventure which became prevalent in later films, but still serves as a great introduction for British spy 007 to make his big screen bow.
Sean Connery oozes charm & charisma and truly makes the role his own. 
The story isn't as memorable as his later missions, but the film features a few iconic scenes, most notably Bond's introduction around the casino tables and Ursula Andress' Honey Ryder emerging onto the beach in a skimpy bikini (often imitated, never bettered). Joseph Wiseman also provides a menacing portrayal as the eponymous villain.

D: Stanley Kubrick
Columbia (Stanley Kubrick)
🇬🇧 1963
102 mins


W: Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern & Peter George [based on the novel 'Red Alert' by Peter George]
DP: Gilbert Taylor
Ed: Anthony Harvey
Mus: Laurie Johnson
PD: Ken Adam
Cos: Bridget Sellers

Peter Sellers (Capt. Lionel Mandrake / President Merkin Mufley / Dr. Strangelove), George C. Scott (General 'Buck' Turgidson), Sterling Hayden (General Jack D. Ripper), Keenan Wynn (Colonel 'Bat' Guano), Slim Pickens (Major T. J. 'King' Kong), Peter Bull (Ambassador de Sadesky), James Earl Jones (Lt. Lothar Zogg)

Stanley Kubrick's black comedy masterpiece is merely a series of sketches featuring a brilliant Peter Sellers performance as multiple characters, including the title character, a demented German-American inventor who has created a doomsday device which is used to wage war with Russia.
Although the movie was released to capitalise on the political issues at the time, it has just as much plangency in the early 21st century.
Iconic characters, situations and humour have dated well, and the film has parodied and referenced numerous times, particularly in TV programmes such as The Simpsons & Family Guy.

D: Tod Browning
Universal (Carl Laemmle, Jr.)
🇺🇸 1931
84 mins


W: Tod Browning & Garrett Fort [based on the novel by Bram Stoker]
DP: Karl Freund
Ed: Milton Carruth & Maurice Pivar
Mus: Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky & Richard Wagner
PD: Charles D. Hall
Cos: Ed Ware & Vera West

Bela Lugosi (Count Dracula), Helen Chandler (Mina Seward), David Manners (Jonathan Harker), Dwight Frye (Renfield), Edward Van Sloan (Van Helsing), Herbert Bunston (Dr. Seward), Frances Dade (Lucy Weston)

A classic horror from the early years of cinema with Bela Lugosi delivering a performance which would still make him a household name over 80 years later.
Considering its age it tackles Bram Stoker's novel remarkably well, with atmospheric photography, sets and music, along with good performances from the ensemble, most especially Lugosi.

"Who will be his bride tonight?"
"Who will be his bride tonight?"
D: Terence Fisher
Hammer (Anthony Hinds)
🇬🇧 1958
82 mins


W: Jimmy Sangster [based on the novel by Bram Stoker]
DP: Jack Ascher
Ed: James Needs & Bill Lenny
Mus: James Bernard
PD: Bernard Robinson

Peter Cushing (Van Helsing), Christopher Lee (Count Dracula), Michael Gough (Arthur Holmwood), Melissa Stribling (Mina Holmwood), Carol Marsh (Lucy Holmwood), John Van Eyssen (Jonathan Harker)

The 1931 version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi in the title role is often considered the best adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, but Hammer's 1958 version is every bit as good, benefitting from colour photography and two good performances.
The focus is mostly on Peter Cushing's performance as Van Helsing, with Christopher Lee's Dracula not getting more than 10 minutes screen time (which really drives home the point of "less is more").
Plenty more version arose throughout the years, but none better the 1931 version or this one.

D: Mel Brooks
Castle Rock/Gaumont/Brooksfilm (Mel Brooks)
🇺🇸 1995
90 mins
W: Mel Brooks, Rudy de Luca & Steve Haberman [based on the novel by Bram Stoker]
DP: Michael O'Shea
Ed: Adam Weiss
Mus: Hummie Marin
Leslie Nielsen (Count Dracula), Peter MacNicol (Thomas Renfield), Steven Weber (Jonathan Harker), Amy Yasbeck (Mina Seward), Lysette Anthony (Lucy Westenra), Mel Brooks (Dr. Abraham Van Hesling)
Despite being a spoof, this sticks to Bram Stoker's source material much better than most of the recent post-Golden Age Dracula movies. It's Mel Brooks, therefore in a genre of it's own: Love him or hate him. Silly and nonsensical, but quite funny in moments, with Leslie Nielsen on his usual top form.
D: Sam Raimi 
Universal/Lions Gate/Ghost House (Robert G. Tapert & Grant Curtis)       
🇺🇸 2009
99 mins
W: Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Bob Murawski
Mus: Christopher Young
Alison Lohman (Christine Brown), Justin Long (Clay Dalton), Lorna Raver (Mrs. Ganush), Dileep Rao (Rham Jas), David Paymer (Jim Jacks), Adrianna Barazza (Shaun San Dena)

An ambitious young bank clerk refuses an elderly woman a loan and is consequently struck with a gypsy curse, experiencing nightmarish visions and desperate to lift the curse before it consumes her.
Surprisingly good, Drag Me To Hell is amongst the best Hollywood horror movies of the 21st century. 
Sam Raimi rarely makes a duff movie, even though this rides close to plaigarism of his Evil Dead movies, balancing comic book shocks with bad taste comedy. Theoretically, the plot also doubles up as a young woman's fight against eating disorders, if you study the visual clues in depth, but this is still left as a subjective metaphor. Either way, it's creepily enjoyable.

"Just the facts."
"Just the facts."
D: Tom Mankiewicz
Universal/Applied Action (Bernie Brillstein)
🇺🇸 1987
106 mins
W: Dan Aykroyd, Alan Zweibel & Tom Mankiewicz [based on the television series created by Jack Webb]         
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Mus: Ira Newborn
Dan Aykroyd (Sgt. Joe Friday), Tom Hanks (Det. Pep Streebek), Christopher Plummer (Rev. Jonathan Whitley), Harry Morgan (Capt. Bill Gannon), Alexandra Paul (Connie Swail), Jack O'Halloran (Emil Muzz), Dabney Coleman (Jerry Caesar)
Parody of the 1950's TV serial starring Dan Aykroyd as sententious detective Joe Friday & Tom Hanks as his scruffy partner Pep Streebeck. 
The mismatched partners investigate a murder case and uncover a pagan cult in the underground of Los Angeles, with ties deeply rooted into city hall and the clergy.
Dan Aykroyd is great as the straight man to Tom Hanks' ridiculing mediator, simply there to laugh in the face of authority and tear the rule book up.
Some of the jokes are quite funny, particularly the one's which spoof the original TV series, but every now and then the comedy dips into puerile territory. It's at its best when the humour is kept subtle.

"The mystery. The life. The love. The legend."
"The mystery. The life. The love. The legend."
D: Rob Cohen
Universal (Raffaela de Laurentiis)
🇺🇸 1992
120 mins
W: Edward Khmara, John Raffo & Rob Cohen [based on the book 'Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew' by Linda Lee Caldwell]
DP: David Eggby
Ed: Peter Amundsen
Mus: Randy Edelman
Jason Scott Lee (Bruce Lee), Lauren Holly (Linda Lee), Robert Wagner (Bill Krieger), Michael Learned (Vivian Emery), Nancy Kwan (Gussie Yang)
The life & career of martial arts expert and film star Bruce Lee gets the Hollywood treatment (i.e. It's all fictionalised, romanticised bollocks!).
Jason Scott Lee delivers a good portrayal of the iconic star and it's quite entertaining if you take it all with a punch of salt, it's just a shame it couldn't veer closer to the truth.
"You will believe."
"You will believe."
D: Rob Cohen
Universal (Raffaela de Laurentiis)
🇺🇸 1996
103 mins
W: Charles Edward Pogue
DP: David Eggby
Ed: Peter Amundsen
Mus: Randy Edelman
Dennis Quaid (Bowen), Sean Connery (voice of Draco), David Thewlis (King Einon), Pete Postlethwaite (Gilbert of Glockenspur), Dina Meyer (Kara), Jason Isaacs (Lord Felton)
Sean Connery is a dragon, and gets romantically involved with Catherine Zeta-Jones... Oops! That's a different movie.
Let's try again, Sean Connery is a dragon and plays James Bond for the umpteenth time in this disguise remake of Thunderball... Oops! I did it again...
Third time lucky: Sean Connery is a dragon, the last of his kind. Dennis Quaid is a dragon hunter.  Since Quaid will be out of work if he kills the last remaining dragon, the two form a partnership which keeps Quaid out of medieval unemployment and keeps the fire-breathing species from becoming extinct.
The catch- a megalomaniac king wants the dragon's heart so he can absorb it's power.
All in all, it's an enjoyable medieval sword & sorcery adventure despite not being particularly memorable. The CGI-rendered effects bring the dragon to life marvellously and Connery's voice gives the beast a winning personality.
Low-budget sequels followed, lacking all the magic which made this film worth watching.
D: Tiffanie DeBartolo 
Columbia Tristar (Phyllis Housen, John Hackett, Christopher Lloyd & Rita Rokisky)
🇺🇸 1996 (released 1998)
97 mins


W: Tiffanie DeBartolo
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Tom Fries & Phyllis Housen
Mus: Michael Andreas

Ione Skye (Frankie), Jennifer Aniston (Allison), Mackenzie Astin (David), Seymour Cassel (Uncle Leo)

Dream For An Insomniac is the directorial debut and (to-date) sole project of independent filmmaker Tiffanie DeBartolo.
Ione Skye plays Frankie, a neurotic, lovestruck insomniac who works in her uncle's coffee shop and falls for a new member of staff, an aspiring writer.
The direction has some arty flourishes, such as a black & white to colour transition when the man of her dreams comes into Frankie's life as well as a muffled recording process which gives the film a dreamy, ethereal sound.
The dialogue is the let-down, full of pseudo-intellectual soundbites and poetic quotes from other sources. Jennifer Aniston, with her usual persona, is the best-written character, as an aspiring actress who feels the need to constantly practice accents. The romance here feels contrived and there's a lack of comedy. The cast are okay, but the film as a whole is a little too pretentious.

"Judgment is coming."
"Judgment is coming."
DREDD (18)
D: Pete Travis
Lions Gate/DNA (Alex Garland, Andrew MacDonald & Allon Reich)
🇬🇧 🇿🇦 2012
95 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Alex Garland [based on characters created by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra]
DP: Anthony Dod Mantle
Ed: Mark Eckersley
Mus: Paul Leonard-Morgan
PD: Mark Digby
Cos: Dianna Cilliers & Michael O'Connor

Karl Urban (Judge Dredd), Olivia Thilrby (Anderson), Lena Headey (Ma Ma), Wood Harris (Kay)

In the mid 90's, Sylvester Stallone starred in a pathetic adaptation of Judge Dredd, the most famous character from the 2000AD series of comics. Needless to say it was absolutely terrible, but what do you expect from a comic book adaptation produced by Disney.
This version is far more truer to the source material. A violent sci-fi adventure set in a crime-ridden dystopian future, which is much closer to the original Robocop movie than the version mentioned above. The action takes place in a high-rise slum, controlled by criminal drug overlord Ma-Ma.
In a nutshell, it's Robocop meets Die Hard, with the comic book hero going from floor-to-floor, offing the bad guys as he goes.
This is everything that the Stallone version wasn't. An entertaining, thrilling slice of science fiction fantasy.

D: Peter Yates
Columbia/Goldcrest (Peter Yates)
🇬🇧 1983
118 mins


W: Ronald Harwood [based on his play]
DP: Kelvin Pike
Mus: James Horner

Albert Finney (Sir), Tom Courtenay (Norman), Edward Fox (Oxenby), Zena Walker (Her Ladyship), Eileen Atkins (Madge), Michael Gough (Frank Carrington) 

Adapted from Ronald Harwood's stage play which itself was based on autobiographical events, The Dresser is a dramatic study of off-stage theatrical events.
Set in Yorkshire during World War II, a theatre act headed by an ageing, grandiloquent veteran of the stage who is only referred to as Sir, who prepares for a performance for King Lear while battling alcoholism and dementia, assisted by his devoted, effeminate dresser, Norman.
The film is given its strength by the two excellent leading performances from Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, the latter reprising the role he played on stage.
The subject matter would probably work best in the theatre, but as a film adaptation, it's a fine piece of work with allegorical references to several Shakespearian works. It won't be appreciated by everyone however, as it's much more an actor's film than an audiences.

"There are no clean getaways."
"There are no clean getaways."
DRIVE (18)
D: Nicolas Winding Refn
Icon/Bold (Marc Platt & Adam Siegel)
🇺🇸 2011
96 mins
W: Hossein Amini [based on the novel by James Sallis]
DP: Newton Thomas Sigel
Ed: Mat Newman
Mus: Cliff Martinez
Ryan Gosling (Driver), Carey Mulligan (Irene), Bryan Cranston (Shannon), Oscar Isaacs (Standard Gabriel), Ron Perlman (Nino), Albert Brooks (Bernie Rose), Christina Hendricks (Blanche)
A pulsating, high octane and surprisingly violent thriller with intellect and about time too! Drive leaves car chase themed movies like The Fast & The Furious so far in it's wake it couldn't even be called a distant relative.
Ryan Gosling puts in a fittingly subtle performance which does pack a punch (and quite literally, boy does it!!) in all the right scenes. He plays the nameless hero who works in a garage by day and in his spare time works as movie stunt driver and occasional getaway driver for criminal activities.
He tries to go straight when he gets romantically involved with his next door neighbour, a single mother (Carey Mulligan), but when her boy's father is released from prison, one last job beckons, getting him in deep trouble with a local mob boss (a scarily brutal Albert Brooks).
Gosling's austere performance adds much mystery to a conscientiously ambiguous character, while Mulligan impresses just as much as her debut in An Education. The films best performance however belongs to Albert Brooks, cast brilliantly against type as the main villain.
The visuals are impressive, with well-edited chase scenes and an electronic score/soundtrack which compliment the movie well.
Kudos to the Bafta's for recognising this as one of the best movies of 2011. Shame on the Oscars for not.
"The funny, touching and totally irresistible story of a working relationship that became a 25-year friendship."
"The funny, touching and totally irresistible story of a working relationship that became a 25-year friendship."
D: Bruce Beresford
Warner Bros. (Richard D. Zanuck & Lili Fini Zanuck)
🇺🇸 1989
99 mins


W: Alfred Uhry [based on his play]
DP: Peter James
Ed: Mark Warner 
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Bruno Rubeo
Cos: Elizabeth McBride

Jessica Tandy (Daisy Werthan), Morgan Freeman (Hoke Colburn), Dan Aykroyd (Boolie Werthan), Patti LuPone (Florine Werthan), Esther Rolle (Idella), Joann Havrilla (Miss McClatchey)

Winner of 1989's Best Picture Oscar and adapted from a Pulitzer Prize winning stage play, Driving Miss Daisy is a quaint, old-fashioned story about the friendship which develops between an elderly Jewish widow and her black chauffeur in the Deep South in the 1960's.
All the performances are fantastic, particularly Jessica Tandy as the eponymous character and Morgan Freeman as her chauffeur and lifelong friend. Overall, the film is enjoyable without being particularly memorable. Being named best film of the year by the Academy Awards was an incredibly flattering accolade.

D: Ate de Jong
Rank/Working Title/Polygram (Paul Webster)
🇺🇸 1991
99 mins
W: Carlos Davis & Anthony Fingleton
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Marshall Harvey
Mus: Randy Edelman
Phoebe Cates (Elizabeth Cronin), Rik Mayall (Drop Dead Fred), Marsha Mason (Polly Cronin), Ron Eldard (Mickey Bunce), Carrie Fisher (Janie)

Drop Dead Fred is a rather tasteless and vulgar one-joke comedy whose driving force is mainly to be as annoying as possible. 
Phoebe Cates plays a young woman whose marriage breaks down, causing her to move back into her childhood home with her conservative mother. She wishes her mischievious imaginary friend from her childhood back to life and her life becomes even more chaotic.
The crude slapstick on display here mostly revolves around Rik Mayall as the irritating imaginary personality, causing mischief merely for the sake of it, with no real motivation for his existence.
Overall the film is far too puerile for adult audiences and some of the jokes are a little too unsuitable for children, leaving the whole film stuck in a rut. Rik Mayall's rubber face routine cracks a few smiles, but it's all very much "seen it all before". It's been deemed a bit of a 90's classic by those who enjoyed watching it during their childhood, but re-watching without a nostalgic filter it really isn't very funny, unless you find someone picking their nose hilarious.

D: Gus Van Sant
Avenue (Nick Wechsler & Karen Murphy)
🇺🇸 1989
100 mins
W: Gus Van Sant & Daniel Yost [based on the novel by James Fogle]
DP: Robert Yeoman
Ed: Curtiss Clayton
Mus: Elliott Goldenthal
Matt Dillon (Bob Hughes), Kelly Lynch (Dianne), James LeGros (Rick), Heather Graham (Nadine), James Remar (Gentry), Grace Zabriskie (Mrs. Hughes), William S. Burroughs (Tom)
A surreal and poetic melodrama about a group of drug addicts who drive through America robbing drugstores to feed their habit.
All the performances on display are good and Gus Van Sant's austere, low-key direction gives the film a spartan, desperate atmosphere. 
The main criticism is the unenlightening and unconvincing ending, although it didn't prevent the independent film becoming a huge cult favourite.


D: Leo McCarey

Paramount (Herman Mankiewicz)

🇺🇸 1933

68 mins


W: Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Arthur Sheekman & Nat Perrin

DP: Henry Sharp

Ed: LeRoy Stone

Mus: Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby

PD: Hans Dreier & Wiard Ihnen

Groucho Marx (Rufus T. Firefly), Chico Marx (Chicolini), Harpo Marx (Pinky), Zeppo Marx (Bob Roland), Margaret Dumont (Mrs. Teasdale), Louis Calhern (Ambassador Trentino)

This classic Marx brothers comedy is quite simply the easiest of their works to engage with, mixing goofy slapstick with political satire for a truly memorable piece of cinema magic.

The screenplay is tailored perfectly for Groucho Marx's shtick, as he plays an incompetent called Rufus T. Firefly, who is made president of the fictional country of Freedonia during a period of impeding civil war.

Though the production itself feels a little dated, the dialogue is still as funny as it ever was. Real life dictator Benito Mussolini found the film so offensive, he banned it in Italy, much to the Marx Brothers joy.

If you only plan on catching one vehicle starting the fraternal comedy quartet, make it this one. Bursting with brilliant gags during its modest 68 minute running time.


"Leave your comfort zone."
"Leave your comfort zone."
D: Todd Phillips
Warner Bros./Legendary (Todd Phillips, Daniel Goldberg & Susan Downey)
🇺🇸 2010
95 mins
W: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel & Todd Phillips
DP: Lawrence Sher
Ed: Debra Neil-Fisher
Mus: Christophe Beck
Robert Downey, Jr. (Peter Highman), Zach Galifianakis (Ethan Tremblay), Michelle Monaghan (Sarah Highman), Jamie Foxx (Darryl Johnson), Juliette Lewis (Heidi)
A modern update on Planes, Trains & Automobiles (qv) starring Robert Downey, Jr. as a hotheaded businessman travelling across country for his partner's impeding childbirth, unfortunately for him, he's accompanied by a thoroughly irritating and troublesome idiot who makes the journey even more arduous.
It's not the most original spin on the road movie sub-genre and descends completely into farce towards the tail end, but it has a few funny moments and a couple of decent comedy performances (although Galifianakis does begin to grate after a while).

D: Steven Spielberg 
Universal (George Eckstein)
🇺🇸 1971
90 mins
W: Richard Matheson [based on his story]
DP: Jack A. Marta
Ed: Frank Morriss
Mus: Billy Goldenberg
Dennis Weaver (David Mann), Jacqueline Scott (Mrs. Mann)
Steven Spielberg's directorial debut originally aired as a TV movie of the week before a limited theatrical release. 
Technically, the film is as impressive as any studio-funded film released around the same time and despite being shackled by a low budget, the film doesn't suffer with a lack of thrills and tension.
Dennis Weaver plays a businessman on the road in Middle America, hunted by a faceless menace for reasons of ambiguous mystery when a truck driver stops at nothing to drive the meek-mannered man off the road and to certain death.
Weaver is excellent as the one-man cast for the majority of the movie, as his paranoia escalates and his plight continues.
One of the great directorial debuts of all time.


D: King Vidor

Selznick International (David O. Selznick)

🇺🇸 1946

138 mins


W: Oliver H.P. Garrett [based on the novel by Niven Busch]

DP: Lee Garmes, Harold Rosson & Ray Rennahan

Ed: Hal C. Kern & William Ziegler

Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin

PD: J. McMillan Johnson & James Basevi

Cos: Walter Plunkett

Jennifer Jones (Pearl Chavez), Gregory Peck (Lewt McCanles), Joseph Cotten (Jess McCanles), Lionel Barrymore (Sen. McCanles), Lillian Gish (Laura Belle McCanles), Herbert Marshall (Scott Chavez)

Nicknamed 'Lust In The Dust' by many a critic, Duel In The Sun was producer David O. Selznick's vainglorious attempt to recreate the enormous success of Gone With The Wind, to which it fails on every single level.

Mexican-American Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones) is caught up in a love triangle between two brothers, one a man of morals (Joseph Cotten) and the other a wild outlaw who lives by his own rules (Gregory Peck). Of course, it's obvious that the bad boy is going to stoke her fires, so she spends a lot of the film crying over him whilst trying to maintain a steamy image of beauty.

Though the performances are good, sans Butterfly McQueen who merely reprises her racist stereotype from GWTW, and the production values are particularly impressive for 1946, the story is a dirge of a soap opera set amongst horses and the desert.

David O. Selznick ruled over the project with an iron fist, causing many to be fired from or leave the project which makes it a little more understand that the finished project is all a bit of a mess.


D: Peter Farrelly
New Line/MPCA (Charles B. Wessler, Brad Krevoy & Steve Stabler)
🇺🇸 1994
106 mins


W: Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Christopher Greenbury
Mus: Todd Rundgren
PD: Sidney J. Bartholomew
Cos: Mary Zophres

Jim Carrey (Lloyd Christmas), Jeff Daniels (Harry Dunne), Lauren Holly (Mary Swanson), Mike Starr (Joe Mentalino), Karen Duffy (J.P. Shay)

With Dumb & Dumber, writers Peter & Bobby Farrelly gave birth to a new sub-genre of cinema comedy which flooded the screens for several years following... the "gross-out comedy".
Jim Carrey mugs relentlessly throughout as idiotic limo driver Lloyd Christmas, who, along with his equally dim-witted friend and housemate, Harry, travel across America to the snowy climes of Aspen to return a briefcase to it's owner, a beautiful young woman with whom Lloyd is romantically infatuated (who also doesn't actually want the briefcase back since it contained ransom money for her kidnapped husband).  Whilst on the road, the two numbskulls are pursued by a group of mobsters and end up squandering the money on themselves.
The title isn't wrong, this film is dumb (and gets dumber), but that doesn't prevent it from being rip-roaringly hilarious. Jim Carrey's rubberface act can get annoying in some parts, but it's wholly necessary to point out what a complete and utter idiot his character is, complete with chipped tooth and bowl haircut. Jeff Daniels also holds his own, but is frequently upstaged by his co-star.
A prequel "Dumb & Dumberer" followed less than a decade later, but without the acting talents in this original film it struggled to make any waves at the box office. A sequel also emerged in 2014, but was more painful than it was funny.


D: Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrell

Universal/New Line/Red Granite (Charles B. Wessler, Riza Aziz, Joey MacFarland & Bradley Thomas)

🇺🇸 2014

109 mins


W: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Sean Anders, John Morris, Bennett Yellin & Mike Cerrone

DP: Matthew F. Leonetti

Ed: Steven Rasch

Mus: Empire Of The Sun

Jim Carrey (Lloyd Christmas), Jeff Daniels (Harry Dunne), Laurie Holden (Adele Pinchelow), Rob Riggle (Travis / Captain Lippencott), Kathleen Turner (Fraida Felcher), Rachel Melvin (Penny)

20 years after the enormous success of the original Dumb & Dumber movie comes this inferior sequel which features more writers credited to the screenplay than it does laugh out loud moments.

The majority of the plot is even ripped off from the 1997 film Fathers' Day as our dumbass duo Harry & Lloyd hit the road again, this time in an attempt to find Harry's long lost daughter, who seems to be as thick as he is.

While in the first film, the duo had funny mishaps which were at the expense at other characters, their actions in this feel a lot more spiteful and unpleasant.

It looks like Jim Carrey may have to push his serious side a little bit more, the rubberface stuff just doesn't cut it anymore.


DUNE (15)
D: David Lynch
Dino de Laurentiis (Raffaela de Laurentiis)         
🇺🇸 1984
140 mins

Science Fiction

W: David Lynch [based on the novel by Frank Herbert]
DP: Freddie Francis
Ed: Antony Gibbs
Mus: Toto
PD: Anthony Masters
Cos: Bob Ringwood

Kyle MacLachlan (Paul Atreides), Francesca Annis (Lady Jessica), Jose Ferrer (Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV), Sian Phillips (Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam), Brad Dourif (Piter de Vries), Dean Stockwell (Dr. Wellington Yueh), Linda Hunt (Shadout Mapes)

A convoluted science fiction with too many characters who don't seem to be introduced properly (I guess it's important to have read Frank Herbert's novel first), all of which are going to war over a valuable spice on a desert-surfaced planet guarded by giant worms.
It's nevertheless a huge cult classic, but I fail to understand how it was so expensive. The special effects, art direction & costumes (Sting in a cod-piece) are disappointingly average. For me, David Lynch seemed to be the wrong director, since his vision seems to be obsessed with the occult and the unusual, resulting in the narrative becoming a huge, over-complicated mess.

"When 400,000 men couldn't get home. Home came for them."
"When 400,000 men couldn't get home. Home came for them."


D: Christopher Nolan

Warner Bros/Syncopy (Emma Thomas & Christopher Nolan)

🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇫🇷 🇳🇱 2017

106 mins


W: Christopher Nolan

DP: Hoyte van Hoytema

Ed: Lee Smith

Mus: Hans Zimmer

PD: Nathan Crowley

Fionn Whitehead (Tommy), Tom Glynn-Carney (Peter), Jack Lowden (Officer Collins), Harry Styles (Alex), Aneurin Bernard (Gibson), Kenneth Branagh (Cmmdr. Bolton), James D'Arcy (Col. Winnant), Mark Rylance (Mr. Dawson), Tom Hardy (Farrier), Barry Keoghan (George)

Christopher Nolan's recreation of the Dunkirk evacuations, one of World War II's biggest failures for the allied forces, is brought to the screen with a story featuring minimal dialogue, which allow the sights and sounds to build tension with greater effect.

The non-linear story follows the evacuation from three perspectives; land, sea and air, as the British and French forces are surrounded on the beach on all sides by German attack. 

The lion's share of the running time focuses on a small group of soldiers and their struggle to get off the beach, while the other two storylines feature a pair of RAF pilots providing air support and a mariner and his two teenage companions who do their part in the rescue, picking up a soldier suffering from PTSD en route.

The non-linear narrative of Nolan's story won't be for everyone's taste, as it serves more as a gimmick rather than serving any driving force to the story, although it does leave questions hanging over which characters survive. The film's main assets come from the cinematography which finely capture both the period detail and the nerve-shredding battle scenes, as well as the sound design, which aurally plunges you straight into the battlefield from the very first scene.  It also has to be noted that Nolan makes a very good choice in hiring young actors, representative of the actual soldiers' ages to play the main characters, and even former boy band singer Harry Styles delivers a very good performance with his cinema debut.

It's not quite of the same visceral realism of Saving Private Ryan, but Dunkirk will surely be hailed as one of the classic war films in the years to come, and is certainly due for some recognition come the awards season, particularly in the technical categories.



D: Çetin Inanç

Anit Ticaret (Mehmet Karahafiz & Tim Ubels)

🇹🇷 1982

91 mins

Science Fiction

W: Cüneyt Arkin 

DP: Çetin Gürtop

Ed: Necdet Tok

Cüneyt Arkin (Murat), Aytekin Akkaya (Ali), Füsun Uçar (Bilgin'in Kizi)

Produced at a time when western films were banned from Turkey, and copyright law with the countries borders were totally non-existent, this B-movie utilised footage from popular American movies and ultimately became known as Turkish Star Wars.

The plot has nothing to do with George Lucas' blockbuster hit, instead focusing on a space pilot who crash lands and has to battle an evil wizard in order to save Earth.

The storyline is totally incoherent and far too much of the film is made up from Star Wars footage. Despite being terrible, it has gathered a modest cult following, mostly from Star Wars fans, but it has also been called the worst Turkish movie ever made. It really isn't worth watching.


"Who's playing who?"
"Who's playing who?"
D: Tony Gilroy
Universal/Relativity Media (Jennifer Fox & Laura Bickford)
🇺🇸 2009
125 mins
W: Tony Gilroy
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: John Gilroy
Mus: James Newton Howard
Clive Owen (Ray Koval), Julia Roberts (Claire Stenwick), Tom Wilkinson (Howard Tully), Paul Giamatti (Dick Garsik)
An over-convoluted and complicated to follow spy/thriller/rom-com about two inside espionage agents with a history together. 
The movie takes many twists and turns so you're constantly wondering who is double crossing who but ultimately the finale is a bit of a letdown. Also, the frequent mixing of genres is itself a red herring, making it even more difficult to follow the plot.
Despite the confusion, the acting was good, especially from Clive Owen who exudes charisma with all his performances. I'm not such a fan of Julia Roberts and her fucking teeth, but she wasn't too bad in this. 
A little bit of a disappointment, but not a bad movie. Enjoyment will ultimately decide on how much you like the two leads.