"If You Want To Live You Will Obey."
"If You Want To Live You Will Obey."


D: D.J. Caruso

Dreamworks/Paramount/Goldrest (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci & Pat Crowley)

🇺🇸 2008

118 mins


W: John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz & Dan McDermott

DP: Dariusz Wolski

Ed: Jim Page

Mus: Brian Tyler

Shia LaBeouf (Jerry Shaw / Ethan Shaw), Michelle Monaghan (Rachel Holloman), Julianne Moore (ARIIA), Rosario Dawson (Zoe Perez), Michael Chiklis (George Callister), Anthony Mackie (Maj. William Bowman), Billy Bob Thornton (Tom Morgan)

Enemy Of The State for a new generation of cinemagoers, Eagle Eye stars Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan as two strangers who are forced to work together after receiving a telephone call from an unknown woman who is tracing their whereabouts through technology.

Though the movie ticks over at an entertaining pace, it's almost impossible to ignore that every single plot device has been borrowed from another, more superior movie and this was simply rushed through the Hollywood conveyor belt of moviemaking to try and make a box office star out of Shia LaBeouf while the iron was hot.


"Valerie's about to discover how far a girl has to go to find Mr. Right."
"Valerie's about to discover how far a girl has to go to find Mr. Right."
D: Julien Temple
20th Century Fox/DEG/Kestrel (Tony Garnett)
🇺🇸 1988
100 mins
Comedy/Science Fiction/Musical
W: Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey & Terence McNally
DP: Oliver Stapleton
Ed: Richard Halsey
Mus: Nile Rodgers
PD: Dennis Gassner
Geena Davis (Valerie Gail), Jeff Goldblum (Mac), Jim Carrey (Whiploc), Damon Wayans (Zeebo), Julie Brown (Candy Pink), Michael McKean (Woody), Angelyne (herself)
A trio of aliens crash their spaceship into a valley girl's swimming pool and she falls in love with one of the extra-terrestrial beings. 
A campy cult hit which I just didn't 'get'. 
Is it supposed to be a satire of how superficial hollywood is? All I seemed to witness was 90 odd minutes of Geena Davis swanning around in tight swimsuits, Jeff Goldblum pouting a lot and Jim Carrey & Damon Wayans being generally annoying. There's a load of terrible 80's songs too. I just don't get the appeal of it at all.
D: Mark Robson
Universal (Jennings Lang & Mark Robson)
🇺🇸 1974
123 mins


W: George Fox & Mario Puzo
DP: Philip Lathrop
Ed: Dorothy Spencer
Mus: John Williams
PD: Alexander Golitzen & E. Preston Ames

Charlton Heston (Stewart Graff), Ava Gardner (Remy Royce-Graff), Lorne Greene (Sam Royce), Marjoe Gortner (Jody Joad), Barry Sullivan (Willis Stockle), George Kennedy (Lou Slade), Richard Roundtree (Miles Quade), Genevieve Bujold (Denise Marshall)

Dreary soap opera set around an earthquake in Los Angeles, where the lives of the various characters intertwine.
It takes a while to get going, with a large cast of characters all getting a bit of screen time before things get shaky.
The special effects range from impressive (at least for the time) to rather poor (particularly the moments when it's clearly a stagehand shaking a mirror). You can't say the same about the performances, most falling under the latter category, or worse.
As far as disaster pics from the 70's go, this is one of the more memorable ones, with the added gimmick of using a new technique of sound recording and amplification to get bums shaking on the cinema seats.
As a cinematic event, it has its place in history, and that's where it belongs.

D: Elia Kazan
Warner Bros (Elia Kazan)
🇺🇸 1955
115 mins
W: Paul Osborn [based on the novel by John Steinbeck]
DP: Ted McCord
Ed: Owen Marks
Mus: Leonard Rosenman
James Dean (Caleb Trask), Raymond Massey (Adam Trask), Julie Harris (Abra Bacon), Richard Davalos (Aron Trask), Jo Van Fleet (Cathy Ames / Kate Trask), Burl Ives (Sam)
The biblical metaphors of John Steinbeck's original novel get lost in this adaptation, which gets a little too bogged down in soap opera melodramatics.
James Dean is fittingly moody as a rebellious adolescent who, against his strict father's wishes, frequently visits his mother, who runs a nearby brothel.
Towards the end of the film, the story becomes two brothers fighting over their distant father's affections. The performances are strong, but the narrative is quite turgid in places. 
It received a cult following, mostly James Dean fans, and his performances provided the first of his two posthumous Oscar nominations (the second was for Giant).
"Every sin leaves a mark."
"Every sin leaves a mark."
D: David Cronenberg
Focus Features/BBC/Astral Media/Corus/Telefilm Canada/Kudos (Paul Webster & Robert Lantos)
🇬🇧 🇨🇦 🇺🇸 2007
100 mins


W: Steven Knight
DP: Peter Suschitzky
Ed: Ronald Sanders
Mus: Howard Shore

Viggo Mortensen (Nikolai Luzhin), Naomi Watts (Anna), Vincent Cassel (Kirill), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Semyon), Sinead Cusack (Helen), Jerzy Skolimowski (Stepan), Donald Sumpter (Yuri)

A 14-year-old Russian prostitute dies during childbirth in a London hospital and Anna, the nurse who helped deliver the newborn baby, finds in her possession a diary which implicates members of the Russian mob of her rape.
Anna, of Russian origins herself, delves further into matters and becomes caught up amongst the lives of criminals. 
Eastern Promises begins with immediate bloodshed and the violence continues throughout. Naomi Watts' performance is excellent, but the film is stolen by Viggo Mortensen's Russian gangster.
Screenwriter Steven Knight tackled similar subject matter involving London's seedy underbelly in Dirty Pretty Things (qv), which has a better story, but this is a far more entertaining film.

"A comedy about a good girl, a small favour and a big rumour."
"A comedy about a good girl, a small favour and a big rumour."
EASY A (12)
D: Will Gluck
Screen Gems (Zanne Devine & Will Gluck) 
🇺🇸 2010
92 mins
W: Bert V. Royal
DP: Michael Grady
Ed: Susan Littenberg
Mus: Brad Segal
Emma Stone (Olive Penderghast), Penn Badgley (Todd), Amanda Bynes (Marianne Bryant), Dan Byrd (Brandon), Thomas Haden Church (Mr. Griffith), Patricia Clarkson (Rosemary Penderghast), Stanley Tucci (Dill Penderghast), Lisa Kudrow (Mrs. Griffith)
A refreshingly original teen comedy which does for Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter what 10 Things I Hate About You did for Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew. Emma Stone plays a student who gains popularity for all the wrong reasons when rumours about her sexual shenanigans spread around campus.
Packed to the brim with references to 80's teen movies and a fantastic lead performance by Emma Stone to boot. Stanley Tucci & Patricia Clarkson are also excellent as the (awesomely cool) parents. Recommended over any of the American Pie films & most other insipid, puerile teen comedies.

"A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere."
"A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere."
D: Dennis Hopper
Pando/Raybert (Peter Fonda)
🇺🇸 1969
94 mins


W: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper & Terry Southern
DP: Laszlo Kovacs
Ed: Donn Cambern

Peter Fonda (Wyatt), Dennis Hopper (Billy), Jack Nicholson (George Hanson)

Easy Rider is a film which ranks higher on the importance scale than the entertainment one. It's a landmark film in the rise of independent cinema at the tail-end of the 1960's and its influence still factors in modern productions.
The story is minimal, charting the journey of two motorcycle-riding, pot-smoking drifters who travel the American highways hoping to reach Mardi Gras with conflict the in the way being in the shape of rednecks and conservative types finding the duo's way of life unacceptable. A reflection on the changing face of America and the rise of hippy culture.
Jack Nicholson's supporting performance as a civil rights lawyer who joins the two men on their journey is the highlight of the film, a role which confirmed a breakthrough for one of the greatest actors of all time, earning him his first nomination for an Oscar.
A must see movie, if only once.

"Minor league. Major friendship."
"Minor league. Major friendship."
D: Bill Couturie
Universal/Longview (Rosalie Swedlin)
🇺🇸 1996
94 mins
W: David Mickey Evans
DP: Alan Caso
Ed: Robert K. Lambert & Todd E. Miller 
Mus: Stephen D. Endelman
Matt LeBlanc (Jack Cooper), Jayne Brook (Lydia), Jack Warden (Chubb), Jay Caputo / Denise Cheshire (Ed)
It may be a kids movie, but that doesn't change the fact that it's stupid. Mind-numbingly stupid.
Joey Tribbiani from the TV sitcom Friends (aka Matt LeBlanc) plays a farmboy who's in his rookie season with a minor league baseball team. Another player on the team is a chimp who absurdly becomes the player of their season.
The rest is the usual sports cliche rags-to-riches stuff with jokes which fall flat.
I can deal with the dumb story, juvenile acting and an annoying animatronic ape, but the direction is incredibly bad, even for a terrible movie. It may have enough to entertain youngsters, but for everyone else it may struggle to hold interest. Only watch this if you really want to see a talented comedy actor slumming for a quick buck.
"When it came to making bad movies, Ed Wood was the best."
"When it came to making bad movies, Ed Wood was the best."
ED WOOD (12)
D: Tim Burton
Touchstone/Buena Vista (Tim Burton & Denise DiNovi)
🇺🇸 1994
124 mins


W: Scott Alexander & Larry Karazewski [based on the book "Nightmare Of Ecstasy: The Life & Art of Edward D. Wood" by Rudolph Grey]
DP: Stefan Czapsky
Ed: Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Danny Elfman
Pd: Tom Duffield

Johnny Depp (Edward D. Wood), Martin Landau (Bela Lugosi), Sarah Jessica Parker (Dolores Fuller), Patricia Arquette (Kathy O'Hara), Jeffrey Jones (Crisswell), Bill Murray (John 'Bunny' Breckinridge), Vincent D'Onofrio (Orson Welles)

Tim Burton took a break from his usual gothic-fantasy films to direct this darkly comic biographical film about real-life director Edward D. Wood, Jr., frequently dubbed 'the worst director of all time'. 
Wood's body of work mostly came during the 1950's, films which coined the phrase "so bad, they're good" after picking up a cult following. Wood also collaborated with Bela Lugosi prior to the actors death, although the once great horror actor had succumbed to heroin addiction and was a frail shadow of his former self when Wood had the opportunity to cast him in mad doctor roles and whatnot.
Burton's film does surreal justice to the madcap, eccentric director, even tackling his cross-dressing alter ego tactfully when the director made his cinema bow with the atrocious Glen or Glenda.
Johnny Depp brings warmth and compassion and plenty of laughs to the character, but the star of this film is without a doubt Martin Landau as the ageing Bela Lugosi, given a brilliantly canny resemblance due to the fantastic Oscar-winning makeup.
It helps if you've seen one or two of the real Ed Wood's films, notably Plan 9 From Outer Space, but even if not, the film provides a quirky insight into the career of a director who brought some of the very worst B-movies to the screen.

"Two underdogs. One dream."
"Two underdogs. One dream."


D: Dexter Fletcher

Lionsgate/Marv/TSG/Studio Babelsberg (Adam Bohling, David Reid, Rupert Maconick, Valerie Van Galder & Matthew Vaughn)

🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2016

105 mins


W: Sean Macauley & Simon Kelton

DP: George Richmond 

Ed: Martin Walsh

Mus: Matthew Margeson

Taron Egerton (Michael 'Eddie The Eagle' Edwards), Hugh Jackman (Bronson Peary), Iris Berben (Petra), Keith Allen (Terry Edwards), Jo Hartley (Janette Edwards), Christopher Walken (Warren Sharp)

This lighthearted biopic of Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, who rather cruelly became the butt of many jokes after his great failure of finishing last at the 1988 Winter Olympics, is very much presented in the same format as 1993's Cool Runnings, which is another film to hail the achievements of people who weren't archetypal Olympic athletes.

The film starts with Edwards as a young boy with a dream of becoming an Olympian, and after being cut from his local skiing team, he exploits a loophole so he can represent Britain in the ski-jumping event. The only catch is- he's never participated in the event before, and with the help of a disgraced former professional, overcomes the obstacles to get to the Winter Olympics, where he still fails to earn the respect of his peers but won the hearts of the crowd by encapsulating the 'can do' spirit of the games, especially as an amateur who competed for the sake of his own ability, regardless of his chances of victory, and for him, breaking a personal best and Great British record was enough to cue the celebrations.

Like most films based on true life events, liabilities are taken with facts, and Hugh Jackman's character is completely fabricated for the benefit of the plot. In real life, Eddie Edwards' struggle was a lot more difficult and he felt that each jump could be his very last as he trained for his chance. The biggest negative of the real life story is that changes to Olympic rules following Edwards' debut ensured its practically impossible to follow in his shoes (or skis, in this instance).

As for the film, it's a wonderful feelgood comedy, with a brilliant lead performance by Taron Egerton, who has the real life Eddie's mannerisms nailed to an absolute T. 


"Live. Die. Repeat."
"Live. Die. Repeat."
D: Doug Liman
Warner/Village Roadshow/Ratpac-Dune (Erwin Stoff, Tom Lassally, Jeffrey Silver, Gregory Jacobs & Jason Hoffs)
🇺🇸 2014
113 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Adventure

W: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth [based on the book "All You Need Is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka]
DP: Dion Beebe
Ed: James Herbert & Laura Jennings
Mus: Christophe Beck

Tom Cruise (Maj. Bill Cage), Emily Blunt (Sgt. Rita Vrataski), Bill Paxton (Sgt. Farell), Brendan Gleeson (Gen. Brigham)

It may not have reaped the box office receipts that the studio may have hoped for, but it's failings are very much due to a poor marketing campaign rather than an inferior piece of filmmaking. In fact, if you're looking for some action/sci-fi entertainment, you can't do much better in recent years than this film.
The plot is possibly easier to follow as it unravels than it is to explain, based on a Japanese manga the story is set in the near future when alien forces have invaded Europe and all that stands between them and victory is the world's armed forces. Decorated Major Bill Cage, (Tom Cruise) declines a duty which he feels is a suicide mission and is subsequently busted rank to private and tarnished as a deserter, forced to participate in the mission which is basically a high-tech update on the D-Day landings, with soldiers in high tech battle suits storming the French beaches only to be obliterated by the alien race. 
Cage however, experiences contact with a member of the alien species which allows him to live the day over and over again, ad infinitum, until he can work out a winning strategy over the deadly invasion. He finds help from a female officer who experienced similar events in a previous battle against the aliens and together they attempt to form a plan to defeat them for good.
It may sound like a sci-fi twist on Groundhog Day, but it's a uniquely original piece of work, brilliantly directed by Doug Liman, whose previous films include 'The Bourne Identity' and it's easily one of the best edited films over the course of the last year, with a good balance of comedy, drama and even a dash of romance amongst all the carnage.
It's a huge shame that the marketing strategy for this movie proved to be such a damp squib, it certainly deserved a bigger audience.

EDTV (12)
D: Ron Howard
Universal/Imagine (Ron Howard & Brian Grazer)
🇺🇸 1999
122 mins


W: Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel [based on the screenplay "Louis XIX: Roi Des Ondes" by Emile Gaudreault & Sylvie Bouchard]
DP: John Schwartzman
Ed: Mike Hill & Dan Hanley
Mus: Randy Edelman
Pd: Michael Corenblith

Matthew McConaughey (Ed Pekurny), Jenna Elfman (Shari), Woody Harrelson (Ray Pekurny), Ellen DeGeneres (Cynthia), Sally Kirkland (Jeanette), Martin Landau (Al), Rob Reiner (Mr. Whitaker), Dennis Hopper (Hank Pekurny), Elizabeth Hurley (Jill)

Ron Howard's satire of reality TV is well-intended, but altogether a bit of a mess (if you watch the DVD extras, you'll witness a ridiculous amount of filmed scenes which ended up on the cutting room floor).
Arriving on cinema screens during the dawn of the new age of "car crash TV programming" and following in the wake of The Truman Show (a much better film), it tells the story of an overzealous TV producer who coins an idea to follow an Average Joe around with a filming crew for a couple of months, they select Ed (Matthew McConaughey), an average working class dude with a rather dysfunctional family, however when his private life is made very much public by the 24-hour soap opera, he wants out, but the show has proved too much of a hit for the producers to pull the plug.
Much of the satire works quite well, with the TV station manipulating much of Ed's daily life for higher ratings, but the final third of the movie sinks into puerile dick & fart jokes which simply don't belong.
It seems as though the film, much like the producers of the fictional reality TV show, just made it up as it went along, filmed what was thrown in front of them, and simply wished for the best.
Not bad, but nowhere near as intelligent, witty or memorable as The Truman Show, and perhaps this is why it flopped massively at the box office.

D: Lewis Gilbert
Rank/Acorn (Lewis Gilbert)
🇬🇧 1983
110 mins
W: Willy Russell [based on his play]
DP: Frank Watts
Ed: Garth Craven
Mus: David Hentschel
Michael Caine (Dr. Frank Bryant), Julie Walters (Susan 'Rita' White), Michael Williams (Brian), Maureen Lipman (Trish), Jeananne Crawley (Julia), Malcolm Douglas (Denny), Godfrey Quigley (Rita's Father)
It's a mesmerising big screen debut from Julie Walters, whose performance captures the attention for the most part of the movie, but Michael Caine's understated performance shines through in the film's final moments.
He plays an alcoholic literature tutor whose passion for the subject is revitalised when he coaches night student Susan (aka Rita), a working-class Liverpudlian, trying to better herself despite the wishes of her family.
Willy Russell's stage play translates to the screen well due to the excellence of the two main performances, arguably Michael Caine's best (yes, better than Alfie) and he certainly gets the best line of dialogue in the script.
The only thing which doesn't quite work is an intrusive music score which maybe worked in the 80's but jars the ear in more modern times. 
D: Lone Scherfig
Sony Pictures Classics/BBC/Endgame (Finola Dwyer & Amanda Posey)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2009
95 mins
W: Nick Hornby [based on the memoir by Lynn Barber]
DP: John de Borman
Ed: Barney Pilling
Mus: Paul Englishby
Carey Mulligan (Jenny Mellor), Peter Sarsgaard (David Goldman), Alfred Molina (Jack Mellor), Cara Seymour (Marjorie Mellor), Rosamund Pike (Helen), Dominic Cooper (Danny), Olivia Williams (Miss Stubbs), Emma Thomson (Miss Walters)
Based on the memoirs of Lynn Barber, a young student gets involved with a seductive older man who promises her the world, but in truth, is only using her for an extra-marital fling.
Not since Marlee Matlin in Children Of A Lesser God in 1986 has a young actress made a breakthrough performance so exquisite. Carey Mulligan deserves a lot of credit here as she goes from a naïve schoolgirl to a wise young woman of the world against the backdrop of 1960's Twickenham (West London).
The supporting cast are also excellent, Peter Sarsgaard nails the smarmy lethario, Alfred Molina excels as the bumbling father and Emma Thompson cameos as a empathic headmistress. Cara Seymour, Rosamund Pike and Olivia Williams are also great, but you can't deny that it's Mulligan's picture.
Lone Scherfig directs the period piece well and Nick Hornby's screenplay is well fleshed out with believable characters and dialogue.
Despite the twee ending, it's a very enjoyable coming-of-age tale.

D: Tim Burton
20th Century Fox (Tim Burton & Denise de Novi)
🇺🇸 1990
100 mins


W: Caroline Thompson & Tim Burton
DP: Stefan Czapsky
Ed: Richard Halsey
Mus: Danny Elfman
Pd: Bo Welch
Cos: Colleen Atwood

Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands), Winona Ryder (Kim Boggs), Dianne Wiest (Peg Boggs), Anthony Michael Hall (Jim), Kathy Baker (Joyce)

Edward Scissorhands is arguably still Tim Burton's best collaboration with Johnny Depp, it's a contemporary fairytale romance mixed with Frankenstein.
Edward (Depp) is an artificial man created by a mad scientist, but left incomplete, with razor-sharp blades instead of hands. He is discovered in an abandoned house by an inquistive Avon lady (Wiest) who welcomes him into her home, where he subsequently falls in love with her daughter (Winona Ryder).
Tender romance and sentimental drama is finely balanced with humour as Edward attempts to settle into the suburban settings, but ultimately he discovers it's not where he belongs, leading to a beautifully bittersweet ending.
The film helped Johnny Depp's cinema career really take off and made Tim Burton a household name for his quirky, gothic style (following Beetlejuice and Batman). The production design, costumes, music and makeup effects are also impeccable. A true modern fairytale classic.

D: John Sayles
Rank/Orion (Sarah Pillsbury & Midge Sandford)
🇺🇸 1988
119 mins
W: John Sayles [based on the book by Eliot Asinof]
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: John Tintori
Mus: Mason Daring
John Cusack (Buck Weaver), Clifton James (Charles Comiskey), Michael Lerner (Arnold Rothstein), Christopher Lloyd (Bill Burns), John Mahoney (Kid Gleason), Charlie Sheen (Happy Felsch), David Strathairn (Eddie Cicotte), D.B. Sweeney (Shoeless Joe Jackson)
The secret to making a good sports movie is to make it accessible to those who don't have any particular interest in the respective sport that it presents. Writer/director John Sayles does this flawlessly with Eight Men Out, tackling one of baseball's biggest scandals, in which players of the 1919 Boston Red Sox team were paid bribes to throw the World Series to the Cincinatti Reds. 
The story deals very much with the human drama and characters behind the scandal, with the innocent members of the team having their careers tarnished along with the disgraced.
The 1989 film 'Field of Dreams' also referenced the same story with an element of fantasy, meaning John Sayles' film escaped the majority of public attention, despite being a more serious representation of events.
8 MILE (18)
D: Curtis Hanson
Universal/Imagine (Brian Grazer, Curtis Hanson & Jimmy Iovine)
🇺🇸 2002
110 mins


W: Scott Silver
DP: Rodrigo Prieto
Ed: Jay Rabinowitz & Craig Kitson
Mus: Eminem

Eminem (Jimmy 'B-Rabbit' Smith), Kim Basinger (Stephanie Smith), Brittany Murphy (Alex Latorno), Mekhi Phifer (Future)

A white street-rapper from a trailer trash background participates in a rap competition, which he wins. Oops, did I spoil the film there? Oh, come on. It was obvious.
Not unlike the life of its star Marshall Mathers III, the supposed semi-autobiographical storyline is nothing but fabricated nonsense.
Fans of Eminem will be wowed by his performance and the story of the film, but for those who aren't fans of his work will be left scratching their heads as to why this film received such critical acclaim. If anything, it weakens the mystery of the real life man behind the rap artist.
The only real plaudit the film really deserves is for the end credit song "Lose Yourself", which has some surprisingly decent lyrics, except for the extraneous namechecking of co-star Mekhi Phifer (why?). 
Like rap music itself, it's completely down to personal taste.

8MM (18)
D: Joel Schumacher
Columbia (Gavin Palone, Judy Hofflund & Joel Schumacher)
🇺🇸 1999
119 mins
W: Andrew Kevin Walker
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Mark Stevens
Mus: Mychael Danna
Nicolas Cage (Tom Welles), Joaquin Phoenix (Max California), James Gandolfini (Eddie Poole), Peter Stormare (Dino Velvet), Anthony Heald (Daniel Longdale), Catherine Keener (Amy Welles)
A huge disappointment from the writer of Se7en (qv). This exploitative thriller follows Nicolas Cage's histrionic detective investigating the authenticity of a snuff film and the shady characters behind its existence, all while being constantly bugged by his hysterical wife wailing down the phone at him every five minutes.
All the impact of the film is ruined with an unconvincing, unsatisfactory ending when it's revealed that the true villain is just an average Joe (who likes to play the music of Aphex Twin very loudly, like all nutters would).
The film would have been more powerful if the hamminess of the performances were reeled in and the investigation uncovered a deeper kind of corruption in the underground of suburbia in a way that David Lynch seems to relish when he tackles films on similar subjects.

D: Robert Rodriguez
Columbia/Los Hooligans (Robert Rodriguez & Carlos Gallardo)
🇺🇸 🇲🇽 1992
81 mins


W: Robert Rodriguez
DP: Robert Rodriguez
Ed: Robert Rodriguez

Carlos Gallardo (El Mariachi), Consuelo Gomez (Domino), Reinol Martinez (Azul), Peter Marquardt (Mauricio)

In terms of story and plot, El Mariachi really isn't anything special: a nomadic musician is mistaken for a hitman and hounded by a group of gangsters.
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez deserves huge credit however for making a thrilling, action-packed Western which looks far more expensive than it's minuscule budget.     
A few years later, he remade the film as Desperado (qv), armed with a much bigger budget and even more guns and bullets. Cinema audiences seemed to prefer the remake, but you simply can't detract from the ingenuity Rodriguez used for this original film.
It's noted that the film holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the lowest budgeted film to gross over $1 million at the US box office.
"Reading. Writing. Revenge."
"Reading. Writing. Revenge."
D: Alexander Payne
Paramount/MTV/Bonafide (Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, David Gale & Keith Samples)
🇺🇸 1999
103 mins
W: Alexander Payne & Jim Wilson [based on the novel by Tom Perrotta]
DP: James Glennon
Ed: Kevin Tent
Mus: Rolfe Kent
Matthew Broderick (Jim McAllister), Reese Witherspoon (Tracy Flick), Chris Klein (Paul Metzler), Jessica Campbell (Tammy Metzler), Mark Harelik (Dave Novotny), Phil Reeves (Walt Hendricks), Molly Hagan (Diane McAllister), Delaney Driscoll (Linda Novotny), Colleen Camp (Judith Flick)
A witty and inventive satire, relocating the political chicanery and power struggles of an election campaign to the corridors of an American high school.
Reese Witherspoon plays prissy prefect Tracy Flick, front runner for the job of president for the school government. Her main competition comes from Mr. McAlistair, a teacher with a grudge, convinced that Tracy's seduction of a former teacher and close friend led to his dismissal from the high school. 
As McAlistair, Matthew Broderick delivers one of his most mature screen performances, a far cry from the days of Ferris Bueller, but the star of the picture is Reese Witherspoon as the cloying, manipulative and ambitious candidate, so blinkered by success that she pays no attention to how her actions affect others.
D: Rob Bowman
20th Century Fox/Marvel/Regency (Arnon Milchan, Gary Foster & Avi Arad)
🇺🇸 2005
97 mins


W: Zak Penn, Stuart Zicherman & Raven Metzner [based on characters created by Frank Miller]
DP: Bill Roe
Ed: Kevin Stitt
Mus: Christophe Beck

Jennifer Garner (Elektra Natchios), Terence Stamp (Stick), Kirsten Prout (Abby Miller), Goran Visnjic (Mark Miller), Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa (Roshi), Will Yun Lee (Kirigi) 

Spin-off from 2003's Daredevil which doesn't really correct the casting errors from the preceding film. Jennifer Garner is 'resurrected' in the role as the eponymous assassin who spends most of the film battling her emotions and some dodgy-looking CGI wolves.
Brainless, but quite enjoyable in places, it just doesn't quite justify itself as a standalone franchise.
D: David Lynch
Paramount/EMI/Brooksfilms (Jonathan Sanger)
🇺🇸 1980
125 mins


W: Christopher DeVore, Eric Bergren & David Lynch [based on the books "The Elephant Man: A Study In Human Dignity" by Ashley Montagu & "The Elephant Man & Other Reminiscences" by Sir Frederick Treves]
DP: Freddie Francis
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: John Morris
PD: Stuart Craig
Cos: Patricia Norris

Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Frederick Treves), John Hurt (John Merrick), Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Kendal), John Gielgud (Carl Gomm), Wendy Hiller (Mothershead), Freddie Jones (Bytes), Michael Elphick (Night Porter), Hannah Gordon (Mrs. Treves)

On paper, David Lynch seems a strange choice of director for this biopic of John Merrick (aka The Elephant Man), a Victorian man brutally paraded as a freak at a circus sideshow, whose plight is discovered by Dr. Frederick Treves, who takes the man in and uncovers the man's humanity behind his grotesque appearance.
The performances are fantastic in this film and there are several moments of emotional poignancy and a downbeat, yet inspirational ending. At the time, the Academy Awards didn't have a regular category for Makeup, but if it had, this would have been a hands-down winner.
Director David Lynch, whose previous screen credits included the nightmarish Eraserhead, turned out to be the perfect choice to make this film, presenting a sympathetic drama in the style of an old black & white horror movie. 

"Absolute power demands absolute loyalty."
"Absolute power demands absolute loyalty."
D: Shekhar Kapur
Polygram/Channel 4/Working Title (Allison Owen, Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner)
🇬🇧 1998
121 mins


W: Michael Hirst
DP: Remi Adefarasin
Ed: Jill Bilcock
Mus: David Hirschfelder
PD: John Mhyre
Cos: Alexandra Byrne

Cate Blanchett (Queen Elizabeth I), Geoffrey Rush (Francis Walsingham), Christopher Eccleston (Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk), Joseph Fiennes (Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester), Richard Attenborough (William Cecil), Kathy Burke (Mary I of England)     

A rather staid and heavy-going schoolbook historical drama about the former English monarch, Elizabeth I.
Great efforts have been done to recreate the Elizabethan period, with impeccable production design, costumes, makeup and photography whilst lead actress Cate Blanchett carries the film almost entirely with a very strong performance. It drags impossibly slow in places, but overall makes a decent film, though it's unlikely to be subjected to repeat viewings.
A sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, was released a decade later.

"This holiday, discover your inner elf."
"This holiday, discover your inner elf."
D: Jon Favreau
Warner Bros./New Line (Jon Berg, Todd Komarnicki & Shauna Robertson)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2003
110 mins
W: David Berenbaum
DP: Greg Gardiner
Ed: Dan Lebental
Mus: John Debney
Will Ferrell (Buddy), James Caan (Walter Hobbs), Mary Steenburgen (Emily Hobbs), Zooey Deschanel (Jovie), Daniel Tay (Michael Hobbs), Ed Asner (Santa Claus), Bob Newhart (Papa Elf), Peter Dinklage (Miles Finch)
A Christmas family film perfectly tailored for Will Ferrell's comedy style. As Buddy the Elf, Ferrell is equally irritating and gleefully over the top as a man, adopted by Santa & his elves as a child, who journeys to New York City to find his real father, a belligerent and joyless businessman. 
The formula follows very much a fish-out-of-water comedy seen countless times before and since, but Will Ferrell's sheer exaggeration make it eminently watchable, especially in the scenes with a cute Zooey Deschanel as the love interest. Almost guaranteed to provide some Christmas cheer.

ELLE (18)

D: Paul Verhoeven

SBS/Pallas/France 2/Canal+ (Saïd Ben Saïd & Michel Merkt)

🇫🇷 🇩🇪 2016

130 mins


W: David Birke [based on the novel "Oh..." by Philippe Duran]

DP: Stephane Fontaine

Ed: Job ter Burg

Mus: Anne Dudley

Isabelle Huppert (Michele Leblanc), Laurent Lafitte (Patrick), Anne Consigny (Anna), Christian Berkel (Robert), Virginie Efira (Rebecca), Charles Berling (Richard)

Isabelle Huppert deservedly won a Golden Globe award and received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her lead performance as Michele Leblanc, a businesswoman in the games industry who is the victim of rape following a home invasion, opting not to report the crime to the police due to a bad experience with them in the past.

In the days that follow, she is harassed by her attacker and she grows increasingly suspicious of the men in her life, including her best friend's husband whom she was having an affair with.  Her relationship with her family also becomes stretched and she develops an obsession with a young handsome neighbour.

It's difficult subject matter, which has been tackled before in a far more exploitative way, but director Paul Verhoeven delivers in quite a tasteful way, making a parable between violence in real life and violence in the media both being welcomed into our homes.

The film was met with controversy upon its release, especially from feminist groups who found the topic distasteful and offensive, and though it is an audacious theme to undertake, it is done in the best possible taste.


D: James Signorelli
New World/NBC/Queen B (Eric Gardner & Mark Pierson)
🇺🇸 1988
96 mins
W: Sam Egan, John Paragon & Cassandra Peterson
DP: Hanania Bier
Ed: Battle Davis
Mus: James B. Campbell
Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), W. Morgan Sheppard (Vince Talbot), Daniel Greene (Bob Redding), Susan Kellermann (Patty), Jeff Conaway (Travis)
Camp comedy with a vamping lead performance from Cassandra Peterson as a gothic TV horror show presenter who discovers that she really has magical, witchly powers.
The film has gathered a respectable cult following, but it's one of those movies you're bound to either love or hate with very little middle ground.
D: Neill Blomkamp
Tristar/Alphacore/Media Rights Capital/QED (Neill Blomkamp, Bill Block & Simon Kinberg)
🇺🇸 🇿🇦 2013
109 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Neill Blomkamp
DP: Trent Opaloch
Ed: Julian Clarke & Lee Smith
Mus: Ryan Amon
PD: Philip Ivey

Matt Damon (Max da Costa), Jodie Foster (Delacourt), Sharlto Copley (Kruger), Alice Braga (Frey Santiago), Diego Luna (Julio), William Fichtner (John Carlyle)

Neill Blomkamp's follow up to District 9 isn't as good as his directorial debut, but that would have been quite an ask, but Elysium is in familiar territory and many of the visuals are alike to the 2009 South African sci-fi movie.
The story itself has been presented before in various forms. Set in a future dystopian society, the Earth has become a wasteland, with the planet's super rich living on a space station utopia called Elysium, run by dictator-esque Jodie Foster.  Those who remain on Earth live in slums, working petty jobs while robots police the cities. 
Matt Damon plays Max, an ex-criminal doing mundane factory work when he is involved in accident leaving him only 5 days to live. The only chance to heal his injuries is to gain citizenship to Elysium, since that's practically impossible, he is hired by a gang to apprehend the CEO of his company, a citizen of Elysium, and download his memory so that new identities can be forged and passport to the utopian space station can be granted.
Max is pursued by a manic bounty hunter (Sharlto Copley) who seeks to retrieve the information and the chase takes them to Elysium where Damon holds the key for all those left behind on Earth to gain citizenship.
The performances are generally decent, but Jodie Foster (and her ridiculous accent) are very much miscast. Sharlto Copley steals this movie with his wonderfully OTT performance
The visuals, effects and action scenes are second to none and Blomkamp is surely going to have a long career in this genre, but the story was all pretty much been-there-done-that, especially with a near-identically themed In Time being released just a few years ago.
On the whole I wasn't disappointed with this film, it just didn't feel anywhere near as fresh as District 9 and had no real allegorical substance like Blomkamp's breakthrough movie.


D: Ciro Guerra

Diaphana/Buffalo/Caracol/Ciudad Lunar/Dago Garcia/MC/Nortesur (Cristina Gallego)

🇨🇴 🇻🇪 🇦🇷 2015

125 mins


W: Ciro Guerra & Jacques Toulemonde Vidal [based on the diaries of Theodor Koch-Grunberg & Richard Evans Schultes]

DP: David Gallego

Ed: Etienne Boussac

Mus: Nascuy Linares

Nilbio Torres (Young Karamakate), Antonio Bolivar (Old Karamakate), Jan Bijvoet (Theo), Brionne Davis (Evan), Luigi Sciamanna (Gaspar)

Embrace Of The Serpent details the adventures of two journeys through the Amazon, both of them thirty years apart, the first set in the early 20th Century and the second around the 1940's.

Karamakate, the last tribesman of his people, reluctantly agrees to guide a German scientist and his companion, once a local of the area, to the whereabouts of a sacred healing plant, but upon the journey, Karamakate sees the detrimental effects that westernisation has had on the rainforest, both with the harvest of rubber and other crops & the dwindling numbers of the indigenous.

The second part of the story sees the same journey take place when Karamakate is a much older man, his memory and knowledge fading, guiding an American botanist to the same fabled plant.

The film does a magnificent job in taking the viewer on its journey, using washed-out black & white photography as it presents South American cultures which can now only be read about in books. 

Critically acclaimed, this became the first Colombian-funded film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

Don't expect Apocalypto (qv), this is far more artful and subtle with its depictions.


"An adventure beyond words."
"An adventure beyond words."


D: Tony Leondis

Sony/Columbia (Michelle Raimo Kouyate)

🇺🇸 2017

86 mins


W: Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel & Mike White

Mus: Patrick Doyle

T.J. Miller (Gene Meh), James Corden (High-5), Anna Faris (Linda Jailbreak), Maya Rudolph (Smiler), Steven Wright (Mel Meh), Jennifer Coolidge (Mary Meh), Patrick Stewart (Poop)

In 2017, the world seems to have become so technology-obsessed that there's even a movie which will brainwash young children that this is the way the world should be interacting, not with words, but with emoji symbols which are now a feature of smartphones 😒.

The story takes place in a schoolboy's smartphone, in the city of Textopolis, where anthropomorphic emoji's go about their daily lives. The happy emojis are always happy and the sad emojis are always sad, which is practically the running joke of the movie.

New to this society is Gene Meh, who isn't sure how to emote and thus becomes targeted as malware by the phone's security settings.

The biggest problem with the film is that it celebrates the technology-obsessed society in which we live and therefore becomes a marketing ploy as the main characters have to play a game of Candy Crush so they can escape persecution (this scene actually goes as far as telling us all the entire rules of Candy Crush, probably so we all download it).

There's little to no point criticising this movie though, since it made back its production budget four-fold during its cinema run, mostly because it's easy to market an animated movie to young children and their parents during school breaks.

Some films I just can't give a mark out of ten to.


D: Steven Spielberg
Amblin (Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall)
🇺🇸 🇨🇳 1987
152 mins


W: Tom Stoppard [based on the novel by J. G. Ballard]
DP: Allen Davieu
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Norman Reynolds
Cos: Bob Ringwood

Christian Bale (Jim Graham), John Malkovich (Basie), Miranda Richardson (Mrs. Victor), Nigel Havers (Dr. Rawlins), Joe Pantoliano (Frank), Leslie Phillips (Maxton), Masatu Ibu (Sgt. Nagata), Emily Richard (Mrs. Ballard), Rupert Frazer (Mr. Ballard)

This WWII epic, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by J. G. Ballard, is amongst Steven Spielberg's most underrated films, made by the director when he was trying to make more 'mature' choices following the success of E. T. & the Indiana Jones films.
Christian Bale delivers a phenomenal juvenile performance as a young boy who becomes separated from his parents in British Colonial China during Japanese occupation and matures behind the fences of a POW camp as the war progresses. John Malkovich also delivers a memorable performance as an unscrupulous American prisoner who the young boy becomes friends with.
The film is a true work of art, boasting superb cinematography and production design, plus a rousing John Williams music theme.
"Open 'til midnight"
"Open 'til midnight"
D: Allan Moyle
Warner Bros./New Regency (Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche, Michael Nathanson & Arnon Milchan)
🇺🇸 1995
91 mins
W: Carol Heikkinen
DP: Walt Lloyd
Ed: Michael Chandler
Mus: Mitchell Leib
Anthony LaPaglia (Joe), Liv Tyler (Corey), Johnny Whitworth (A.J.), Rory Cochrane (Lucas), Renee Zellweger (Gina), Robin Tunney (Debra), Ethan Randall (Mark), Maxwell Caulfield (Rex Manning), Debi Mazar (Jane)
A mix between The Breakfast Club & Kevin Smith's Clerks, although the screenplay isn't quite as rounded as those two movies, Empire Records is quite sweet-natured at heart and an easy-going teen comedy.
The story follows a group of high schoolers and Generation X-ers who work at an independent record store in Middle America  and their efforts to prevent their workplace becoming part of a big franchise.
Starring Renee Zellweger & Liv Tyler before their big breaks, the group of characters in this film tick almost every box of diversity. The oddball, the rocker, the stoner, the slut, the emo chick, the prefect and a sleazy pop star. All the cast work well together, but the main reason of enjoyment for me was it's excellent soundtrack of great songs, including two of my personal favourite bands of the 1990's, The The and The Gin Blossoms.
A guilty pleasure movie, if nothing more, recommended especially to music lovers.         
"This fairytale princess is about to meet a real Prince Charming."
"This fairytale princess is about to meet a real Prince Charming."
D: Kevin Lima
Buena Vista/Disney (Barry Josephson & Barry Sonnenfeld)
🇺🇸 2007
107 mins
W: Bill Kelly 
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Stephen A. Rotter & Gregory Perler
Mus: Alan Menken
PD: Stuart Wurtzel
Amy Adams (Giselle), Patrick Dempsey (Robert), James Marsden (Prince Edward), Timothy Spall (Nathaniel), Idina Menzel (Nancy Tremaine)
Enchanted, like 2001's Shrek, pokes fun at the fairytale romance in a self-referential spoof style. The film begins with animation, but switches to live action when a princess is pushed down a well by a witch and is transformed into Amy Adams, who roams New York City still believing she's in her fairytale kingdom, searching for her Prince Charming.
Visually, the film is incredibly well done, especially in one of the more whimsical scenes where birds and creatures help Amy Adams tidy up a house.
Some of the songs are a little cloying and the end is a little saccharine, but Adams is delightful in the lead and the story has the best intentions.
D: Peter Hyams
Universal/Beacon (Armyan Bernstein & Bill Borden)
🇺🇸 1999
120 mins
W: Andrew W. Marlowe
DP: Peter Hyams
Ed: Steve Kemper
Mus: John Debney
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Jericho Cane), Gabriel Byrne (Satan), Kevin Pollak (Bobby Chicago), Robin Tunney (Christine York), CCH Pounder (Det. Marge Francis), Rod Steiger (Father Kovak), Derrick O'Connor (Thomas Aquinas), Miriam Margolyes (Mabel), Udo Kier (Dr. Abel)
Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on the devil in one of his weakest performances to date. He plays ex-cop Jericho Cane (honestly, that's his characters name), who must protect a young woman or the world will face Armageddon.
It's all a load of theological action nonsense which isn't particularly memorable, mostly because it isn't particularly good.
"The end was just the beginning."
"The end was just the beginning."


D: Neil Jordan
Columbia (Stephen Woolley & Neil Jordan)
🇬🇧 🇩🇪 🇺🇸 1999
102 mins


W: Neil Jordan [based on the novel by Graham Greene]
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Tony Lawson
Mus: Michael Nyman 
PD: Anthony Pratt
Cos: Sandy Powell

Ralph Fiennes (Maurice Bendrix), Julianne Moore (Sarah Miles), Stephen Rea (Henry Miles), Ian Hart (Mr. Parkis), Jason Isaacs (Father Smythe), Samuel Bould (Lance Parkis)

A writer reflects on a doomed sexual affair which blossomed between him and a friend's wife in the days building up to the First World War.
Adapted from Graham Greene's novel, the references to religion are mostly set aside for more focus on the affair itself, beautifully lensed by cinematographer Roger Pratt, while the period is faithfully recreated by director Neil Jordan and the rest of his crew.
All the performances are excellent, with Julianne Moore the standout in an Oscar-nominated role.
"Every moment of your life they stand watch."
"Every moment of your life they stand watch."
D: David Ayer
Open Road/Studio Canal/Exclusive Media (David Ayers, Matt Jackson, John Lesher & Nigel Sinclair)
🇺🇸 2012
110 mins
W: David Ayer
DP: Roman Vasyanov
Ed: Dody Dorn
Mus: David Sardy
Jake Gyllenhaal (Brian Taylor), Michael Peña (Mike Zavala), Anna Kendrick (Janet Taylor), Natalie Martinez (Gabby Zavala), America Ferrera (Officer Orozco), Frank Grillo (Sgt. Daniels)
End of Watch is a rather humdrum cops & robbers crime drama which uses the "found footage" style gimmick to give itself from originality.
The story, not a million miles away from 1988's Colors (qv), follows two LAPD officers on their regular beat as they use handheld camera devices to document their duties. They get involved too deep in one of their investigations into gang members and become marked men themselves. 
The gimmick here doesn't really work because the filmmakers don't truly commit to it, using the gimmick outside of work hours when the men are with their families and not ringing true (which would be the whole point of using the filmmaking style). A good example would be when Jake Gyllenhaal and his wife, Anna Kendrick, are taking a regular journey by themselves, yet someone is still present to film them (ironically one of the more memorable moments and probably the sweetest scene in the entire film).
The documentary-style sub genre is getting rather stale since it was first used in films such as The Blair Witch Project and if the filmmakers can't commit to the style, then the audience will struggle with it too. It feels like a lie.
A disappointment considering the acting talents of Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña & Anna Kendrick, who all do well, unfortunately, the director has let them down here.
D: Gavin Hood
Lions Gate/Summit (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Gigi Pritzker, Linda McDonough, Robert Chartoff, Lynn Hendee, Orson Scott Card & Ed Ulbrich)
🇺🇸 2013
114 mins

Science Fiction

W: Gavin Hood [based on the book by Orson Scott Card]
DP: Donald McAlpine
Ed: Zach Staenberg
Mus: Steve Jablonsky
PD: Sean Haworth & Ben Proctor
Cos: Christine Bieslin Clark

Asa Butterfield (Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin), Harrison Ford (Col. Hyrum Graff), Hailee Steinfeld (Petra Arkanian), Abigail Breslin (Valentine Wiggin), Ben Kingsley (Mazer Rackham), Viola Davis (Maj. Gwen Anderson)

Ender's Game is a pretty much a cross between Harry Potter & Starship Troopers. Set in a future of intergalactic war, where children are trained at military complexes where it is hoped the saviour of the human race will be discovered.
Under the dictatorial eye of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) a new talent emerges in Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), who triumphs over bullying and is declared 'the one' from the authoritarian figure, who promotes him to further training where he has to overcome more bullying after being ostracised by his fellow cadets (on more than one occasion).
His final test comes in a simulated battle environment where he must obliterate the enemy out of existence and with this comes a rather obvious 'twist' which is altogether quite unconvincing in the grand scheme of science fiction fantasy. Anyone who's seen Star Trek would see it coming a mile off.
The general moral of triumph over adversity and standing up against bullies is the underlying subplot of the whole film, and it works quite well, but the film as a whole is targeted at a teenage boy demographic and probably won't appeal to anybody outside that circle.  The acting from the young cast is decent and Ben Kingsley pops up with a cameo, Harrison Ford is miscast though and Alfre Woodard's character as a cadet psychiatrist is underused.  It's good to see Hailee Steinfeld back following her promising debut in 2010's True Grit.

"A single bullet can change history."
"A single bullet can change history."
D: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Pathé/Mandalay (John D. Schofield)
🇩🇪 🇬🇧 🇮🇪 🇺🇸 2001
131 mins


W: Alain Godard & Jean-Jacques Annaud [based on the book "Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad" by William Craig]
DP: Robert Fraisse
Ed: Noelle Boisson
Mus: James Horner
PD: Wolf Kroeger

Jude Law (Vasili Zaitsev), Joseph Fiennes (Commisar Danilov), Rachel Weisz (Tania Chernov), Bob Hoskins (Nikita Khrushchev), Ed Harris (Maj. Erwin König), Ron Perlman (Koulikov)

A decently made war movie with moments of historical fact about a feud between two rival snipers following the fall of Stalingrad.
The major flaw is the casting decisions, with British and American actors cast and subsequently struggling to deliver a Russian accent, despite their best efforts.
Overall, it's an entertaining history lesson, but doesn't stick in the memory as much as other, more powerful war pictures.
D: Wolfgang Petersen
20th Century Fox/Kings Road (Stephen Friedman)
🇺🇸 1985
108 mins
Science Fiction
W: Edward Khmara [based on a story by Barry Longyear]
DP: Tony Imi
Ed: Hannes Nikel
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: Rolf Zehetbauer
Dennis Quaid (Will Davidge), Louis Gossett, Jr. (Jeriba Shigan), Brion James (Stubbs), Richard Marcus (Arnold), Carolyn McCormick (Morse)
All talk, little action science fiction movie which doubles up as an allegory for racial tolerance.
A human space pilot and a lizard-like alien crash land on a distant planet and must set aside their differences for the sake of their own survival.
The film has some great makeup effects and good production values, but very little happens to justify a running time of 108 minutes. A good message is all but lost in space.
D: Tony Scott
Buena Vista/Touchstone/Scott Free (Jerry Bruckheimer)
🇺🇸 1998
127 mins


W: David Marconi
DP: Dan Mindel
Ed: Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Trevor Rabin & Harry Gregson-Williams

Will Smith (Robert Clayton Dean), Gene Hackman (Edward 'Brill' Lyle), Jon Voight (Thomas Brian Reynolds), Lisa Bonet (Rachel F. Banks), Regina King (Carla Dean), Barry Pepper (David Pratt), Ian Hart (John Bingham)

Throwback to paranoia thrillers of the 1970's with the amount of explosions you pay for with a Jerry Bruckheimer produced action flick.
Will Smith plays an Average Joe lawyer who inadvertently becomes the possessor of an incriminating piece of evidence against a section of the government, making him public enemy no. 1 as the "get into his identity" and put him under constant surveillance.
For a brainless action thriller, this does what it says on the tin, providing enjoyment for it's running time, but you'll be hard pressed to remember anything about it a few weeks later. 
"In memory, love lies forever."
"In memory, love lies forever."
D: Anthony Minghella
Miramax (Saul Zaentz)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇮🇹 1996
162 mins


W: Anthony Minghella [based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje]
DP: John Seale
Ed: Walter Murch
Mus: Gabriel Yared
PD: Stuart Craig
Cos: Ann Roth

Ralph Fiennes (Count László Almasy), Kristin Scott-Thomas (Katherine Clifton), Juliette Binoche (Hana), Naveen Andrews (Kip), Willem Dafoe (Caravaggio), Colin Firth (Geoffrey Clifton)

The English Patient is a David Lean-esque wartime romance which went on to sweep the 1996 Oscars, winning 9 awards in all.
Ralph Fiennes plays Almasy, a Hungarian mapmaker and pilot shot down over enemy lines during the conflict and burned unrecognisable.
Suffering from amnesia, the hospitals incorrectly list him as English and give him little time left to live. He is cared for by Canadian nurse Hana, who reads to him from his memoirs and helps him remember his doomed love affair with the wife of one of his colleagues.
Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje, the film appears to omit some information which leave some questions unanswered, such as Willem Dafoe's character, a morphine-addicted thief who turns up and drifts out for a reason left far too vague.
The film focuses mostly on luscious desert photography, rich production design and impeccable costumes.
Whilst the story is complex and intricate, the flawless performances and vast scale of Anthony Minghella's sweeping direction carry the film. 
Many will enjoy this, but an equal amount will also wonder how it won so many prestigious awards. It's probably important to have seen some of David Lean's films to fully appreciate this, especially Lawrence Of Arabia and Brief Encounter, since the story loosely merges both for something astonishingly breathtaking.
"Their deadly mission: to crack the forbidden island of Han!"
"Their deadly mission: to crack the forbidden island of Han!"
D: Robert Clouse
Warner/Concord (Fred Weintraub & Paul Heller)
🇺🇸 🇭🇰 1973
99 mins


W: Michael Allin
DP: Gilbert Hubbs
Ed: Kurt Hirschler & George Watters
Mus: Lalo Schifrin

Bruce Lee (Lee), John Saxon (Roper), Shih Kien (Han), Jim Kelly (Williams), Bob Wall (O'Hara)

The first Hollywood produced martial arts movie is more like a entry to the James Bond series, starring the legendary Bruce Lee as a spy who travels to the mysterious island of criminal mastermind Han, who is showcasing a fighting tournament.
For fans of Bruce Lee, this doesn't disappoint, with the action star performing some brilliant fight choreography, including a kick which was executed so quick, that it couldn't be captured on film at 28 frames per second.
Certain elements are dated, such as the sound recording and production design, but that only adds to its kitsch charm. Under no circumstances should this be remade.
There have been many pretenders to the throne, but none come close.

"A story so shocking, so threatening, it will frighten you beyond all imagination."
"A story so shocking, so threatening, it will frighten you beyond all imagination."
D: Sidney J. Furie
20th Century Fox/Pelleport/American Cinema (Harold Schneider)
🇺🇸 1981 (released 1982)
125 mins
W: Frank DeFelitta [based on his novel]
DP: Stephen H. Burum
Ed: Frank J. Urioste
Mus: Charles Bernstein
Barbara Hershey (Carla Moran), Ron Silver (Dr. Phil Sneiderman), David Labiosa (Billy Moran), George Coe (Dr. Weber), Jacqueline Brookes (Dr. Elizabeth Cooley)
Exorcist-like horror in which a woman is convinced that she's sexually assaulted by an invisible demon. 
A fine lead performance from Barbara Hershey and some creepy visual effects make it well worth watching for horror aficionados. The claims to be based on a true story are incredibly far-fetched.
D: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
20th Century Fox/New Regency (Paul Schiff)
🇺🇸 2007
85 mins 
W: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
DP: Shawn Maurer
Ed: Peck Prior
Mus: Edward Shearmur
Kal Penn (Edward Pervertski), Adam Campbell (Peter Pervertski / Superpeter), Jennifer Coolidge (The White Bitch of Gnarnia), Jayma Mays (Lucy Pervertski), Faune Chambers (Susan Pervertski), Crispin Glover (Willy), Tony Cox (Bink), Hector Jimenez (Mr. Tumnus / Tony Fauntana), Carmen Electra (Mystique)
Writer-director duo Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer do their usual, throwing an idiotic plotless parody film together just for the sake of referencing all and sundry without bothering to include any jokes, except those that would only be found amusing by a twelve-year-old.
The Chronicles of Narnia get the lions share of the references, but any film which proved a hit in the 10 years prior gets some kind of reference chucked in just for shits, but missing the vital ingredient of giggles.
To demonstrate the humour, the surname of the Pevensie has been changed to Pervertski, Narnia becomes Gnarnia, and The White Witch becomes The White Bitch. 
While, the filmmaking duo must have been in side-splitting hysterics while writing the script, the laughter didn't carry over to cinema auditoriums.
A pathetic excuse for entertainment.
"What do you see when you look at me?"
"What do you see when you look at me?"
D: Antoine Fuqua
Columbia/Village Roadshow/Escape Artists (Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Alex Siskin, Steve Tisch, Mace Neufeld, Tony Eldridge, Michael Sloan & Denzel Washington)
🇺🇸 2014
132 mins


W: Richard Wenk [based on the TV series created by Michael Sloan & Richard Lindheim]
DP: Mauro Fiore
Ed: John Refoua
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams

Denzel Washington (Robert McCall), Marton Csokas (Nikolai Itchenko), Chloë Grace Moretz (Alina), Melissa Leo (Susan Plummer), Bill Pullman (Brian Plummer)

This may claim to be based on the iconic TV series which started Edward Woodward, but it really isn't, it's just another by-the-numbers Hollywood action thriller of which there seem ten a penny nowadays.
Denzel Washington plays Robert 'Bob' McCall, a working class man with a hidden past as a CIA operative, who decides to take on the Russian mob after he witnesses them mistreating a young prostitute (Moretz, woefully miscast).
Some of the action scenes are well staged and Denzel Washington delivers a decent performance, but the film lacks any originality and goes on at least half-an-hour too long.

"There will be consequences."
"There will be consequences."


D: Antoine Fuqua

Sony/Columbia/Escape Artists (Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Denzel Washington, Alex Siskin, Steve Tisch, Antoine Fuqua, Mace Neufeld, Tony Eldridge & Michael Sloan)

🇺🇸 2018

121 mins


W: Richard Wenk [based on the television series created by Michael Sloan & Richard Lindheim]

DP: Oliver Wood

Ed: Conrad Buff

Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams

Denzel Washington (Robert McCall), Pedro Pascal (Dave York), Ashton Sanders (Miles Whittaker), Bill Pullman (Brian Plummer), Melissa Leo (Susan Plummer)

Based on a British television series, the first Equalizer movie was released in 2014 and, despite being reasonably entertaining, was totally forgettable, despite a solid lead performance by Denzel Washington.

This is actually one of the rare instances where a sequel is better than the first movie, and as a standalone film, it isn't important to have seen the first film to understand this one, so long as you understand the basics of the character Washington plays.

As Robert McCall, Washington is an every man, working for a mobile-based taxi service (no, not that one) as well as moonlighting as a vigilante who helps those who can't help themselves. The film wastes no time getting into a thrilling opening action scene before getting into a subplot involving McCall helping an impressionable black teenager from going down the wrong path. Meanwhile, an assassination in Paris is investigated by McCall's former colleague, who is subsequently murdered and it isn't long before the same hitmen come gunning for him.

The plot is a little hackneyed and the subplots a little too goody-goody, but Washington's performance and some well directed action sequences carry the movie very well.

Considering this is Denzel's first sequel in a career spanning nearly 40 years, you can assume that he wouldn't have taken on the work if he didn't think it would be a good movie.

It's far from perfect, but it's a big improvement on the first movie.


"A moment of love becomes a crime of passion."
"A moment of love becomes a crime of passion."
EQUUS (15)
D: Sidney Lumet
United Artists (Lester Persky & Elliott Kastner)
🇬🇧 1977
137 mins


W: Peter Shaffer [based on his play]
DP: Oswald Morris
Ed: John Victor-Smith
Mus: Richard Rodney Bennett

Richard Burton (Dr. Martin Dysart), Peter Firth (Alan Strang), Colin Blakely (Frank Strang), Joan Plowright (Dora Strang), Jenny Agutter (Jill Mason)

Despite receiving a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in this film, 1977 wasn't the best year for Richard Burton. Eager to get his career back on track following the awful sequel to The Exorcist (see Exorcist II: The Heretic), he started in this adaptation of Peter Shaffer's stage play, which was an unfortunate and surprise flop during its cinema run. However, this shouldn't be deemed as a slight on the quality of the film, since it is a solid adaptation of a controversial piece of theatre.
Burton plays Dr. Martin Dysart, a psychiatrist whose latest patient, Alan Strang, has a very troubled mind and an unhealthy obsession with horses, committed to a mental care facility after blinding a stable full of the animals with a metal spike.
The performances of the two main characters are without criticism, neither is the standard of filmmaking, with director Sidney Lumet packing plenty of symbolism into a story which itself had metaphorical references to homosexuality.
The film's failure at the box office can only be attributed to the fact that it came out a decade too early, when the subject matter was a little too taboo for conservative audiences.

"He will erase your past to protect your future."
"He will erase your past to protect your future."
D: Chuck Russell
Warner Bros. (Arnold Kopelson & Anne Kopelson)
🇺🇸 1996
115 mins
W: Tony Puryear & Walon Green
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Michael Tronick
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Arnold Schwarzenegger (US Marshal John Kruger), James Caan (US Marshal Robert DeGuerin), Vanessa Williams (Lee Cullen), James Coburn (Chief Arthur Beller), Robert Pastorelli (Johnny Casteleone), James Cromwell (William Donohue)
Arnie goes back to his roots with Eraser, a formulaic action-thriller which he might have made before he became the quintessential action hero.
He plays a government agent who specialises in faking assassinations of those on the witness protection programme so that they're off the radar for good. He gets involved in a conspiracy whilst protecting one of his clients and ends up getting chased by bad guys with technologically advanced weaponry.
Whilst the new age weapons in the movie are highly inventive, the formula the film follows isn't so original and even the once-imitated pay off lines have become tired and cliched (at one point, Schwarzenegger shoots an alligator and utters "You're luggage.")
Entertaining enough for it's duration, but a disappointing comparison to some of his better films like The Terminator or Predator. The majority of the visual effects even look second rate and it doesn't quite set the pulse racing like his bigger blockbusters.
D: David Lynch
AFI (David Lynch)
🇺🇸 1977 (released 1978)
89 mins
W: David Lynch
DP: Frederick Elmes
Ed: David Lynch
Mus: Peter Ivers
Jack Nance (Henry Spencer), Charlotte Stewart (Mary X), Allen Joseph (Mr. X), Jeanne Bates (Mrs. X), Judith Anna Roberts (Beautiful Girl Across the Hall), Laurel Near (Lady in the Radiator)
The first feature from director David Lynch is a surrealist nightmare with abstract images & haunting visuals and sound design. 
Jack Nance is nervy nerd Henry, whose wife gives birth and he finds himself the father of an inhuman monster. He escapes from his horrors in his equally unusual dreams where the "lady in the radiator" resides.  The film's title even comes from one of these dream sequences, where Henry's head is chopped off and turned into erasers for pencils.
For nighmarish visuals, Lynch's film is bang on the money, but the story is the most unusual that you'll ever experience.
The trouble I personally have with the majority of David Lynch movies is that I find them weird just for the sake of being weird. I think I understand them, but do I really? Does anyone??
Yes, it's a classic. Nobody can deny it. But it's a classic simply for being the biggest headfuck ever put on film.
"She brought a small town to its feet and a huge company to its knees."
"She brought a small town to its feet and a huge company to its knees."
D: Steven Soderbergh
Columbia Tristar/Universal/Jersey Films (Michael Shamberg, Danny DeVito & Stacey Sher)
🇺🇸 2000
131 mins


W: Susannah Grant
DP: Ed Lachman
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: Thomas Newman

Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich), Albert Finney (Ed Masry), Aaron Eckhart (George), Marg Helgenberger (Donna Jensen), Cherry Jones (Pamela Duncan), Veanne Cox (Theresa Dallavale), Peter Coyote (Kurt Porter)

Julia Roberts is the star of the show as the eponymous woman, a single mother and part-time lawyer who brought a gas & electric company to it's knees when it's discovered that they're poisoning the water supply of a nearby community.
Susannah Grant also deserves due credit for penning a screenplay packed with quippy, sassy dialogue for the lead actress which doesn't seem overly forced or pretentious.
Julia won an Oscar and Albert Finney received a well deserved supporting actor nomination. Aaron Eckhart also delivers a realistic performance as Erin's biker boyfriend, reluctantly relegated to a babysitter for her kids during her campaigning. Based on a true story.
D: John Cherry
Warner Bros./Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners III (Stacy Williams & Doug Claybourne)
🇺🇸 1988
91 mins
W: Ed Turner & B. Kline
DP: Peter Stein
Ed: Ernest D. Thomas
Mus: Mark Snow
Jim Varney (Ernest P. Worrell), Douglas Seale (Santa Claus), Oliver Clark (Joe Carruthers), Noelle Parker (Pamela Trenton)
Arguably the best of the Ernest movies, but that's not to say it's particularly good.
Jim Varney is dim-witted man-child Enest P. Worrell, who is selected by Santa to take over his annual duties.
The character returned in several other films, including Ernest Rides Again and Ernest Goes To Jail but all the films are quite witless from start to finish and appeal mostly to juvenile audiences (or those who find the main character funny).
D: John Carpenter
Avco Embassy/IFI/Goldcrest (Larry Franco & Debra Hill)
🇺🇸 1981
99 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: John Carpenter & Nick Castle
DP: Jim Lucas
Ed: Todd Ramsay
Mus: John Carpenter
PD: Joe Alves 

Kurt Russell (Snake Plissken), Lee Van Cleef (Bob Hauk), Ernest Borgnine (Cabbie), Donald Pleasance (President of the USA), Isaac Hayes (Duke of New York City)

Dystopian action movie, set in the 1997 (so unfortunately the year of its prophecy is already dated).
When the island of Manhattan has become a high security prison, the president of the USA is taken hostage within the walls and it's down to one man to break him out... the eye-patch wearing vigilante Snake Plissken.
Kurt Russell delivers one of his most memorable performances as Plissken, bringing just the right attitude and rebellious sneer to the role.
The film has a huge cult following, but isn't quite director John Carpenter's best work. Good fun though.

"Snake is back."
"Snake is back."
D: John Carpenter
Paramount/Rysher (Kurt Russell & Debra Hill)
🇺🇸 1996
100 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: John Carpenter, Debra Hill & Kurt Russell
DP: Gary B. Kibbe
Ed: Edward Warschilka
Mus: Shirley Walker & John Carpenter
PD: Lawrence G. Paull

Kurt Russell (Snake Plissken), Stacy Keach (Cmdr. Malloy), Steve Buscemi (Eddie), Peter Fonda (Pipeline), Cliff Robertson (President)

Sequel to Escape From New York which follows the exact same formula and doesn't bring anything new into the mix.
Kurt Russell reprises his role as Snake Plissken but his best efforts can't make up for a stale screenplay.
Made 15 years too late after the original film and really not worth wasting time with.

D: Don Taylor
20th Century Fox (Arthur P. Jacobs & Frank Capra, Jr.)
🇺🇸 1971
97 mins
Science Fiction
W: Paul Dehn
DP: Joseph Biroc
Ed: Marion Rothman
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
Roddy McDowell (Cornelius), Kim Hunter (Zira), Bradford Dillman (Dr. Lewis Dixon), Natalie Trundy (Dr. Stephanie Branton), Eric Braeden (Dr. Otto Hasslein), Sal Mineo (Dr. Milo)
The third in the series of the Planet Of The Apes movies is both a sequel and a prequel (and also a bit of a cheat).
Following events on from Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, three intelligent chimpanzees escape their doomed planet and travel back in time to Earth's past, where they inadvertently start a chain reaction which brings the story of the previous films around into a loop.
Unfortunately, the film has dated badly, since it's set in a year which has now been and gone, but it still has a decent story which ties up well with the rest of the franchise, although Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (qv) delivers a much better alternative.
"Breaking out is an inside job."
"Breaking out is an inside job."
D: Mikael Håfström 
Lionsgate/Summit (Mark Canton, Randall Emmett, Remington Chase, Robbie Brenner & Kevin King-Templeton)
🇺🇸 2013
115 mins 


W: Miles Chapman & Arnell Jesko
DP: Brendan Galvin
Ed: Elliot Greenberg
Mus: Alex Heffes

Sylvester Stallone (Ray Breslin / Anthony Portos), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Emil Rottmayer / Victor Mannheim), Jim Caviezel (Warden Hobbes), Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson (Hush), Amy Ryan (Abigail Ross), Vinnie Jones (Drake), Vincent D'Onofrio (Lester Clark)

Sylvester Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a structural engineer who makes his living breaking out of prison so security measures can be improved. 
His new job, offered by top CIA agents, is to be incarcerated in a maximum security, unescapable prison for a bounty of a reward. He accepts, but soon learns he's been set up and faces the rest of his life in the brutal penitentiary.
With the help of political prisoner, under the guise Anthony Portos, he hatches an escape plan and seeks revenge on his former business associate who backstabbed him.
It's all a rather brainless spin on the usual prison breakout thriller, with the guilty pleasure of pairing two of Hollywood's biggest action stars Stallone and Schwarzenegger, albeit about two decades too late.
Enjoyable enough for the running time, but it doesn't match up to any of the events from the excellent TV show 'Prison Break'.

"Now is the time for heroes."
"Now is the time for heroes."
D: John Huston
Lorimar (Freddie Fields)
🇺🇸 1981
117 mins


W: Evan Jones & Yabo Yablonsky [based on the screenplay "Two Half Times in Hell" by Zoltán Fabri]
DP: Gerry Fisher
Ed: Robert Silvi
Mus: Bill Conti
PD: J. Dennis Washington

Michael Caine (Capt. John Colby), Sylvester Stallone (Capt. Robert Hatch), Max Von Sydow (Maj. Karl von Steiner), Pelé (Luis Fernandez), Bobby Moore (Terry Brady), Osvaldo Ardiles (Carlos Rey)

Prisoners at a POW camp are ordered to organise a football match between themselves and the guards for the sake of German Propaganda, but use the event as a front to hatch an escape plan.
The novelty of using real football players in the cast sets this aside from other Great Escape wannabes, but it's all ridiculously cheesy and can't be taken seriously at all, especially when some of the world's soccer stars leave much to be desired with their attempts at acting.
Seen as a classic in Britain, when it's on UK TV screens every Christmas. In truth, it's nothing more than a guilty pleasure film and there's nothing wrong with that. 
D: Steven Spielberg
Universal (Steven Spielberg & Kathleen Kennedy)
🇺🇸 1982
115 mins

Science Fiction

W: Melissa Mathison
DP: Allen Davieu
Ed: Carol Littleton
Mus: John Williams
Pd: James D. Bissell
Cos: Deborah L. Scott & Carlo Rambaldi

Dee Wallace (Mary), Peter Coyote (Keys), Henry Thomas (Elliott), Robert MacNaughton (Michael), Drew Barrymore (Gertie), K. C. Martel (Greg), Sean Frye (Steve), Tom Howell (Tyler), Erika Eleniak (Pretty Girl)

The most popular movie at the box office in the 1980's has dated quite well and is still considered one of the best family films of all time.
An alien is stranded on Earth and discovered by a young boy from a broken suburban family who befriends the creature and together they form a deep bond of friendship.
The movie can be viewed as a Christ allegory, a parable about the importance of a maternal figure or simply as a science fiction movie which both adults and young children can enjoy. John Williams' exhilarating music must surely be considered one of the greatest movie themes ever.
In 2002, a 'special edition' with new visual effects and recut scenes was released and did more harm than good, taking away some of the magic from the original film and rather mockingly insulting to the huge fanbase of the 1982 issue.
D: Michel Gondry
Focus Features (Steve Golin & Anthony Bregman)
🇺🇸 2004
108 mins
Comedy/Romance/Science Fiction
W: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth
DP: Ellen Kuras
Ed: Valdis Oskarsdottir
Mus: Jon Brion
PD: Dan Leigh
Jim Carrey (Joel Barish), Kate Winslet (Clementine Kruczynski), Kirsten Dunst (Mary), Mark Ruffalo (Stan), Elijah Wood (Patrick), Tom Wilkinson (Dr. Howard Mierzwiak)
A surreal and imaginative film from the same mind which wrote Being John Malkovich & Adaptation.
Jim Carrey is a true revelation in this, delivering a performance without his usual overacting or facial calisthenics. He plays Joel, a regular chap who is left dumbfounded when he discovers that his flaky girlfriend (Kate Winslet) has had their relationship erased from her memory. Heartbroken, he undergoes the same treatment.
This truly original film does away with a chronological narrative as it takes us inside the fractured, suffering mind of Joel, as his psyche puts up barriers to prevent the deletion of his memories.
The plot, as complex as they come, serves up a labyrinth of visually nightmarish images, brilliantly realised by the screenwriter and director Michel Gondry. Jim Carrey & Kate Winslet are truly excellent.
"Evan help us."
"Evan help us."
D: Tom Shadyac
Universal (Neal H. Moritz, Tom Shadyac, Gary Barber & Roger Birnbaum)
🇺🇸 2007
96 mins
W: Steve Oedekerk
DP: Ian Baker
Ed: Scott Hill
Mus: John Debney
Steve Carell (Evan Baxter), Morgan Freeman (God), Lauren Graham (Joan Baxter), John Goodman (Congressman Chuck Long)
Sequel to Bruce Almighty with a peripheral character taking over the reins from Jim Carrey.
In the original film, Evan Baxter was Bruce's rival at the news station, in this he's a politican who is asked to build an ark by God (Morgan Freeman) in a contemporary update on the story of Noah.         
All the enjoyment from the first film has been sucked out and replaced with dodgy CGI and a disappointly unfunny screenplay.          
Supposedly, this was the most expensive comedy ever produced when it first premiered, one can only assume that Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman & John Goodman picked up hefty paycheques as it's difficult to see where else all that money went.
"Infinite space. Infinite terror."
"Infinite space. Infinite terror."
D: Paul (W. S.) Anderson
Paramount/Golar/Impact (Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin & Jeremy Bolt)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1997
95 mins
Horror/Science Fiction
W: Philip Eisner
DP: Adrian Biddle
Ed: Martin Hunter
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: Joseph Bennett
Laurence Fishburne (Capt. Miller), Sam Neill (Dr. William Weir), Kathleen Quinlan (Peters), Joely Richardson (Lt. Starck), Richard T. Jones (Cooper), Jack Noseworthy (Ensign Justin), Jason Isaacs (D.J.), Sean Pertwee (Smith)
Hellraiser in space and though the film was met with lukewarm response during its cinema run, it did gain favourable attention when released on home video.
After 35 years drifting in the unknown, contact is re-established with Event Horizon, a spaceship capable of travelling creating its own wormhole for travelling vast distances quickly.
A team of intergalactic scientists are sent to salvage the ship, headed by Laurence Fishburne & Sam Neill, but they find a derelict vessel with no sign of life... 
This film deserves credit for not copying Alien's formula which it easily could have done, the shadowy production design adds to the tension and there's some decent scare scenes.
The majority of the performances are decent, but Joely Richardson is completely unconvincing. Director Paul W. S. Anderson, best known for video game adaptations like Mortal Kombat & Alien vs Predator, delivers his best work here, unfortunately his output since is lazy filmmaking at best. 
"The most dangerous place on Earth."
"The most dangerous place on Earth."
D: Baltasar Kormákur
Universal/Working Title/Cross Creek (Baltasar Kormákur, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nicky Kentish-Barnes, Tyler Thompson & Brian Oliver)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇮🇸 2015
121 mins


W: William Nicholson & Simon Beaufoy [based on the book "Left For Dead: My Journey Home From Everest" by Beck Weathers]
DP: Salvatore Totino
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: Dario Marianelli

Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sam Worthington

Everest may possess an ensemble cast of some big names, but the story really doesn't need them, it could have been just as good had the cast been a bunch of nobodies (especially since for half the duration all the actors face are covered beneath mountaineering clobber).
Still, this is a hugely underrated movie which probably deserved more attention during its cinema run. The film dramatises the true events of 1996, when an expedition up to the summit of the world's highest peak turned into a fight for survival due to averse weather conditions.
In the same ballpark as Alive (qv), this is an adventure story without good guys or bad guys, with triumph of the human spirit at the heart of its morals. The film sticks boldly to the facts as they are known, at the expense of a typical Hollywood ending. 
The first big budget feature of Scandinavian director Baltasar Kormákur, this dramatic adventure film utilises spectacular photography and convincing visual effects which succeed in taking your breath away.

D: James Fargo 
Warner Bros./Malpaso (Robert Daley)
🇺🇸 1978
114 mins
W: Jeremy Joe Kinsberg
DP: Redford Metz
Ed: Ferris Webster & Joel Cox
Mus: Steve Dorff
Clint Eastwood (Philo Beddoe), Sondra Locke (Lynn Halsey-Taylor), Ruth Gordon (Ma Boggs), Geoffrey Lewis (Orville Boggs), Beverly D'Angelo (Echo)
Clint Eastwood's venture into comedy as a brawling truck driver with his pet orangutan companion going from bar to bar and getting into raucous, rowdy adventures.
Everybody liked this film except the critics and what's not to like? Clint Eastwood and his monkey... Who make a better screen couple than Clint & Sondra Locke.
As a guilty pleasure movie, this is just fine, although a sequel, Any Which Way You Can, was completely unnecessary.
D: Richard Linklater
Paramount/Annapurna/Detour (Richard Linklater, Megan Ellison & Ginger Sledge)
🇺🇸 2016
116 mins


W: Richard Linklater
DP: Shane F. Kelly
Ed: Sandra Adair

Will Brittain (Billy Autrey), Blake Jenner (Jake Bradford), Zoey Deutsch (Beverly), Ryan Guzman (Kenny Roper), Tyler Hoechlin (Glen McReynolds), Glen Powell (Finn)

Richard Linklater returns to his roots with this "spiritual sequel" to Dazed & Confused (qv).
Set in 1980, the story follows a fraternity of college baseball players as they party their way to the impending semester.
The film settles for humorous realism over belly laughs and would be best appreciated by those who went to high school around the same period.
The soundtrack is great, but the film doesn't stick in the memory quite the way National Lampoon's Animal House does.

D: Sam Raimi
Palace/Renaissance (Robert G. Tapert)
🇺🇸 1981 (released 1983)
85 mins
W: Sam Raimi
DP: Tim Philo
Ed: Edna Ruth Paul
Mus: Joe LoDuca
Bruce Campbell (Ash Williams), Ellen Sandweiss (Cheryl), Betsy Baker (Linda), Hal Delrich (Scott)
Despite obvious budgetary restraints writer-director Sam Raimi did a quite excellent job bringing this iconic horror film into existence.
A group of friends at a secluded cabin in the middle of the woods find a book in the basement, which awakens evil spirits when they begin to read from it. 
The oft-imitated story of demonic possession in the woods is simply done but atmospherically visualised, even though some of the plasticine-like special effects will probably be derided by modern audiences used to the gory makeup effects used in the Saw films and others.
Considering the financial limitations, it's a marvellously crafted scary movie and has to considered amongst the greatest horror films of all time.


D: Fede Alvarez

Tristar/Ghost House/Film District (Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi & Bruce Campbell)

🇺🇸 2013

92 mins


W: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues [based on the screenplay by Sam Raimi]

DP: Aaron Morton

Ed: Bryan Shaw

Mus: Roque Baños

Jane Levy (Mia Allen), Shiloh Fernandez (David Allen), Lou Taylor Pucci (Eric), Jessica Lucas (Olivia), Elizabeth Blackmore (Natalie), Jim McLarty (Harold)

There's a few movies made during the 1980's which could have probably done with a modern makeover. Unfortunately, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead is not one of them. The original film, shot in 1981, may have rudimentary effects and incredibly low budget production values, but the fear factor, horror quotient and suspense still hold up very well, and these are things which cannot be improved merely by throwing money at them.

The plot is practically the same, centring around a group of teenagers who visit a cabin in the woods, discover a book on witchcraft and unleash evil spirits upon themselves, although this version includes backstory for moronic audience members and throws in a subplot about drug addition for absolutely no reason.

The worst thing by far about this is Sam Raimi's involvement as producer. One for the money, at the cost of one's legacy. Poor.


D: Sam Raimi
Renaissance/DEG (Robert G. Tapert)
🇺🇸 1987
85 mins
W: Sam Raimi & Scott Spiegel
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Kaye Davis
Mus: Joseph LoDuca
Bruce Campbell (Ash Williams), Sarah Berry (Annie Knowby), Dan Hicks (Jake), Kassie Wesley (Bobby Joe), Ted Raimi (Possessed Henrietta)
Both a sequel and a spoof remake of the original film, following the exact same plot but utilising better visual effects and throwing in some comic book humour.
Perhaps this was the film that Raimi would have made if he had the budget, but, for me, the atmosphere of the original is made even better by the low-budget style.
Where this film excels on the original is with the comedy, as our hero Ash tools himself up with a shotgun and chainsaw to do business with the demonic beasties.
Most prefer this to the original, but I think it's not quite as good, simply because the original was a horror and this is a comedy.
Army Of Darkness: The Medieval Dead followed five years later.
"Have a nice end of the world."
"Have a nice end of the world."
D: Ivan Reitman
Columbia/Montecito (Ivan Reitman, Daniel Goldberg & Joe Medjuck)
🇺🇸 2001
102 mins

Science Fiction/Comedy

W: David Diamond, David Weissman & Don Jakoby
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Sheldon Kahn & Wendy Greene Bricmont
Mus: John Powell
PD: J. Michael Riva

David Duchovny (Dr. Ira Kane), Orlando Jones (Prof. Harry Block), Julianne Moore (Dr. Allison Reed), Seann William Scott (Wayne Grey), Ted Levine (Brig. Gen. Russell Woodman), Dan Aykroyd (Gov. Lewis), Ethan Suplee (Deke Donald)

David Duchovny & Orlando Jones play two incompetent college professors who investigate a meteor crash in the Arizona desert and discover a hostile alien lifeform which evolves exponentially. Sure enough, the US government turn up to make matters worse and it's up to the misfits, teamed with a failed fireman (Scott), a clumsy government scientist (Moore) and a couple of college flunkies to save the day.
Ivan Reitman's comedy combines elements from Ghostbusters & Independence Day to deliver an enjoyable (albeit forgettable) movie, which probably would have benefitted from some funnier jokes. The special effects are possibly the film's biggest asset.
"There is nothing more human than the will to survive."
"There is nothing more human than the will to survive."


D: Alex Garland
Universal/DNA/Film4 (Andrew MacDonald & Allon Reich)
🇬🇧 2015
108 mins

Science Fiction

W: Alex Garland
DP: Rob Hardy
Ed: Mark Day
Mus: Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow

Domhnall Gleeson (Caleb Smith), Alicia Vikander (Ava), Oscar Isaac (Nathan Bateman), Sonoya Mizuno (Kyoko)

It's been a good few years for sci-fi movies with an intelligent, thought-provoking edge, following the likes of District 9, Moon & Never Let Me Go. Ex_Machina is no exception, blending elements from the stories of Frankenstein, Blade Runner & Her for a unique viewing experience. It also has to be stated that the title itself is a stroke of absolute genius, but unless you know screenwriting lingo, this may just fly over your head (watch the film before googling).
A young computer programmer wins a contest which allows him to spend the week at his CEO's high-tech, remote home, which also doubles as a top secret research facility where the eccentric technology expert has been working on female cyborgs with a high artificial intelligence quota. 
It is the young computer programmers task to perform a "Turing test" on the robot to determine whether 'her' responses are legitimately human or just appear to be and report his findings to his boss. Before long, he develops feelings for the machine, which appear to be reciprocated, but soon discovers the inventor's ulterior motives for inviting him to his subterranean retreat.
Alex Garland makes a successful leap from novelist & screenwriter to film director with this refreshing spin on the "mad scientist" sub-genre, utilising a talented cast to give believable performances. The visual style of the film is also fantastic, with remarkable production design, photography and special effects which are a marvel to behold. The electronic score by Portishead also deserves an honourable mention.
The story does become a little dark in its final scenes and there are a few paradoxes in the plot which may leave your head in a tizzy, but this is a thinking man's sci-fi which is well worth a watch.

"Forged by a god. Foretold by a wizard. Found by a king."
"Forged by a god. Foretold by a wizard. Found by a king."
D: John Boorman
Warner Bros./Orion (John Boorman)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 1981
140 mins


W: Rospo Pallenberg & John Boorman [based on the book "Le Morte d'Arthur" by Thomas Malory]
DP: Alex Thomson
Ed: John Merritt
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: Anthony Pratt
Cos: Bob Ringwood

Nigel Terry (King Arthur), Nicol Williamson (Merlin), Helen Mirren (Morgana Le Fay), Nicholas Clay (Sir Lancelot), Cherie Lunghi (Queen Guinevere), Liam Neeson (Sir Gawain), Patrick Stewart (King Leondegrance)

Handsomely photographed and impeccably made version of the Arthurian legend of the magical sword with all the usual fabled characters and plotlines, Merlin, Uther Pendragon, the Holy Grail and King Arthur himself.
Though it's a visual treat, a long running time and slightly miscast performances lessen the impact it could have had. A bigger name in the lead could have made this a real cinema classic, but it's still a return to form for director John Boorman after his disappointing sequel to The Exorcist.

D: Stuart Baird
Warner Bros. (Joel Silver)
🇺🇸 1996
132 mins
W: Jim Thomas & John Thomas
DP: Alex Thomson
Ed: Dallas Pruitt, Frank J. Urioste & Stuart Baird
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo, Steven Seagal, Oliver Platt, Joe Morton, David Suchet
Plane hijack thriller featuring David Suchet, taking a break from his Hercule Poirot TV series, playing a fanatical Islamic terrorist who plans to release a deadly toxin over the American East Coast. Kurt Russell & Steven Seagal head an elite team who plan to intercept the flight and neutralise the threat.
Despite having the guts to provide a real shock quite early on in the second act, Executive Decision is still a hackneyed Die Hard clone which only relocates the action set-pieces which have been done long before and ever since.
Film editor Stuart Baird flexes his directorial muscles, but on this evidence, perhaps his career is better off in the cutting room.
"Play it. Live it. Kill for it."
"Play it. Live it. Kill for it."
EXISTENZ (eXistenZ) (15)
D: David Cronenberg
Miramax/Alliance Atlantis/Serendipity Point/Natural Nylon (Robert Lantos, Andras Hamori & David Cronenberg)
🇺🇸 1999
97 mins

Science Fiction

W: David Cronenberg
DP: Peter Suschitzky
Ed: Ronald Sanders
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Carol Spier

Jude Law (Ted Pikul), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Allegra Geller), Willem Dafoe (Gas), Ian Holm (Kiri Vinokur), Callum Keith Rennie (Hugo Carlaw), Sarah Polley (Merle)

Unfairly labelled a Matrix-clone, despite being released in the same year as the Wachowski's science fiction extravaganza.
Jude Law & Jennifer Jason Leigh are participants of a hi-tech, puzzling and complex computer game where a techno-biological device is attached to their spinal column, allowing them to enter the 'game' via vivid hallucinations.
A good concept and some interesting visuals keep the movie alive, and David Cronenberg's slick direction provides originality and intriguing metaphors, but the story is needless complicated and convuluted. Entertaining enough for it's duration, but not as memorable as the filmmaker's previous work.
D: William Friedkin
Warner Bros. (William Peter Blatty)
🇺🇸 1973
121 mins


W: William Peter Blatty [based on his novel]     
DP: Owen Roizman & Billy Williams
Ed: Norman Gay, Jordan Leondopolous, Evan Lottman & Bud Smith
Mus: Jack Nitzsche (& Mike Oldfield)
PD: Bill Malley

Ellen Burstyn (Chris McNeil), Max Von Sydow (Father Merrin), Jason Miller (Father Karras), Lee J. Cobb (Lt. Kinderman), Linda Blair (Regan McNeil), Mercedes McCambridge (voice)

One of the most iconic horror films of all time and deservedly so, faithfully adapted by William Peter Blatty from his own best-selling novel.
Chris McNeil (Burstyn) doesn't quite know where to turn when her 12-year-old daughter, Regan (Blair) is seemingly possessed by a malicious demon. She turns to a young priest, who enlists the help of an elderly priest with experience dealing with the occult, as they both try to rid the evil manifestation from the girl's soul.
All the performances in this horror classic combine dramatic reactions with those of sheer horror, whilst technical special effects provide for the more grizzly scenes such as Regan's head turning 180 degrees and penetrating herself with a crucifix whilst her bed levitates.
Director William Friedkin expertly captures the atmosphere of the book and presents one helluva scary movie. Perhaps it's impact is lessened with the wake of the goreporn horror, but considering this film is over 40 years old, it really has to be respected. Two sequels followed, in 1977 and 1990 respectively, followed by a shambolic prequel in 2004.
"It's four years later. What does she remember?"
"It's four years later. What does she remember?"


D: John Boorman
Warner Bros (Richard Lederer & John Boorman)
🇺🇸 1977
117 mins


W: William Goodhart [based on characters created by William Peter Blatty]
DP: William A. Fraker
Ed: Tom Priestley
Mus: Ennio Morricone

Richard Burton (Father Philip Lamont), Linda Blair (Regan McNeil), Louise Fletcher (Dr. Gene Tuskin), Kitty Winn (Sharon Spencer), Max Von Sydow (Father Merrin), Paul Henreid (The Cardinal), James Earl Jones (Kokumo), Ned Beatty (Edwards)

This could quite easily be the worst sequel ever released by a major Hollywood studio. It has very little to do with events of the original story, but wants a big piece of the first film's success.
A new priest, Father Lamont, investigates the evil that manifested itself in Regan (Linda Blair) four years earlier, and makes a discovery that the demon, thought to be exorcised, is merely sleeping.
In between huge slabs of religion versus science mumbo-jumbo, there's many scenes of stock footage which are completely irrelevant to the story and not much happens for the rest. A talented cast all deliver lazy performances and the writing is even lazier. The film was a huge commercial disaster, released in two versions, neither of which make any sense.

"Do you dare walk these steps again?"
"Do you dare walk these steps again?"
D: William Peter Blatty
20th Century Fox/Morgan Creek (James G. Robinson & Joe Roth)
🇺🇸 1990
110 mins


W: William Peter Blatty [based on his novel "Legion"]
DP: Gerry Fisher
Ed: Tom Ramsey & Peter Lee Thompson
Mus: Barry de Vorzon

George C. Scott (Lt. William Kinderman), Ed Flanders (Father Dyer), Brad Dourif (James Venamun), Jason Miller (Damien Karras), Nicol Williamson (Father Morning), Scott Wilson (Dr. Temple)

The first (and only) true sequel to 1973's The Exorcist. 
A detective investigates a series of serial killings and discovers that the young priest from the original story is now possessed with an evil spirit.
A massive improvement on the terrible 1977 film (Exorcist II: The Heretic), with a much better thought out plot and some scary moments. The biggest negative is that it probably came out a decade too late and failed to capture the audience who scared out of their wits by the original movie.

"The adventure begins in your own back yard."
"The adventure begins in your own back yard."
D: Joe Dante
Paramount (Edward S. Feldman & David Bombyk)
🇺🇸 1985
109 mins
Science Fiction
W: Eric Luke
DP: John Hora
Ed: Tina Hirsch
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
Ethan Hawke (Ben Crandall), River Phoenix (Wolfgang Müller), Jason Presson (Darren Woods), Amanda Peterson (Lori Swenson), Dick Miller (Charlie Drake)
Three schoolkids, inspired by strange dreams, build a spacecraft out of scrap they find at a junkyard and travel into outer space where they encounter a strange alien species whose knowledge developed by intercepting American TV shows.
As a children's movie, this isn't too bad and has it's heart in the right place, but it works best when the action is grounded. The best scenes are those of the boys raiding the junkyard for materials they can use and developing the scientific know-how to achieve flight. Once they journey into space, it becomes ridiculous (unless you're 10 years old or younger) and the aliens are incredibly annoying (unless you're a fan of Pee-Wee Herman). It hasn't really dated very well in fairness and will be appreciated most by those who watched it during the 1980's.


D: James Glickenhaus

Avco Embassy/Amsell/Interstar (Mark Buntzman)

🇺🇸 1980

102 mins 


W: James Glickenhaus

DP: Robert M. Baldwin

Ed: Corky O'Hara

Mus: Joe Renzetti

Robert Ginty (John Eastland), Christopher George (Det. James Dalton), Samantha Eggar (Dr. Megan Stewart), Steve James (Michael Jefferson)

Some may know The Exterminator as one of the "video nasties" of the early 1980's, or even as a banned movie, but both claims are exaggerated.

This vigilante crime thriller takes some inspiration from Death Wish & Taxi Driver, starring Robert Ginty as an ex-Vietnam veteran who vows revenge when his friend is killed by a street gang and subsequently goes berserk on the seedy streets of New York City.

Repulsive and very cheaply made, notoriety was achieved through a nasty-looking beheading scene in the film's opening moments as well another gruesome scene involving a industrial-size mincer, the latter of which was used in a copycat murder case on the streets of America. 

An undeserved sequel followed four years later.


D: Stephen Daldry
Warner Bros. (Scott Rudin)
🇺🇸 2011
124 mins


W: Eric Roth [based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer]
DP: Chris Menges
Ed: Claire Simpson
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
PD: K. K. Barrett

Thomas Horn (Oskar Schell), Tom Hanks (Thomas Schell), Sandra Bullock (Linda Schell), Max Von Sydow (The Renter), Viola Davis (Abby Black), John Goodman (Stan)

Those expecting to see a Tom Hanks film may be extremely loud and incredibly cheesed-off, the A-lister is barely in this picture, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, the film has enough merits of its own.
This is the first mainstream Hollywood project to really deal with the subject of Asperger's Syndrome, starring Thomas Horn as the young boy with the ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). Following his father's death in the 9/11 attacks, the boy is convinced that his father's messages and a mystery key left him a challenge to discover and he goes on a quest to find out what the key opens. On his journey, he meets and touches the lives of a number of strangers, including the mysterious "Renter", an elderly mute excellently played by Max Von Sydow and together they unlock a secret more valuable than any fabled treasure.
Although he delivers a good performance, the casting of Tom Hanks seemed a little pointless due to his lack of screen time. It seems that perhaps the producers didn't have enough faith in the story and needed a big name in the credits to ensure success. The rest of the cast do an absolutely fine job.
D: Gavin Hood
Entertainment One/Raindog (Ged Doherty, Colin Firth & David Lancaster)
🇬🇧 2015 (released 2016)
102 mins


W: Guy Hibbert
DP: Haris Zambarloukos 
Ed: Megan Gill
Mus: Paul Hepker & Mark Kilian

Helen Mirren (Col. Katherine Powell), Alan Rickman (Lt. Gen. Frank Benson), Aaron Paul (2nd Lt. Steve Watts), Barkhad Abdi (Jama Farah), Jeremy Northam (Brian Woodale), Iain Glen (James Willett), Phoebe Fox (Carrie Gershon)

There are some who have criticised Eye In The Sky of being a political propaganda piece to justify the ongoing war on terror in the Middle East, and though some of the events do feel contrived, the film presents a realistic moral and ethical dilemma which those high up in the chain of military command may potentially face.
A joint British-American surveillance operation in Kenya confirms a hideout on the outskirts of Nairobi is housing members of a terrorist network, three of which on the most wanted list, who, on further investigation, appear to be stockpiling weapons and planning an attack.
The conflict which follows afterwards is within the war room around the globe, where the military powers balance whether or not the chances of collateral damage (signified here by an innocent girl selling bread on the street) don't pose a problem with a strike on their target.
The complex moral issue is made even more gripping due to the excellent performances of the cast, particularly Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman & Barkhad Abdi, and most surprisingly by Aaron Paul, with his most serious film role post Breaking Bad.
Leaving the politics aside, Eye In The Sky is a gripping thriller which will certainly have you balanced on the edge of your seat.
A posthumous Oscar nomination for Alan Rickman certainly wouldn't be pie in the sky.

D: Stanley Kubrick
Warner Bros./Pole Star/Hobby (Stanley Kubrick)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1999
159 mins


W: Stanley Kubrick & Frederic Raphael [based on the novella "Dream Story/Traumnovelle" by Arthur Schnitzler]
DP: Larry Smith
Ed: Nigel Galt
Mus: Jocelyn Pook
PD: Les Tomkins & Roy Walker

Tom Cruise (Dr. Bill Harford), Nicole Kidman (Alice Harford), Sydney Pollack (Victor Ziegler), Marie Richardson (Marion Nathanson), Rade Sherbedgia (Mr. Milich), Todd Field (Nick Nightingale)

Eyes Wide Shit. Stanley Kubrick's last ever picture was publicised on the scandalous notion that it featured a steamy sex scene with (then real-life couple) Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman.
The film begins with upper-class Manhattan couple having a tiff when Alice Harford (Kidman) admits to her well-to-do doctor husband William (Cruise) that she has fantasised about having sex with other men. William, angered by the confession, embarks on a night of sexual temptation, gatecrashing a masked orgy at a swanky mansion whilst Nicole Kidman just sits around looking stinky.
Kubrick's film isn't erotic, profound or even shocking, it just seems like a pretentious excuse to show a load of tits. Conspiracy theorists claim that the film is something deep and meaningful about the existence of the Illuminati, a secret society that control the world, and Kubrick's death prior to the release of the film and the studio cutting scenes out was to cover up this, but I personally think that's reaching for something that just isn't there.
There's some good production design and camerawork, but this is a disappointing swansong to Kubrick's excellent career.