F (aka THE EXPELLED) (18)
D: Johannes Roberts
Capital Markets Film Finance/Black Robe (Ernest Riera & Paul Blacknell)
🇬🇧 2010
76 mins


W: Johannes Roberts
DP: Tim Sidell-Rodríguez
Ed: John Palmer
Mus: Neil Stemp

David Schofield (Robert Anderson), Eliza Bennett (Kate Anderson), Ruth Gemmell (Sarah Balham), Juliet Aubrey (Helen Anderson), Roxanne McKee (Nicky Wright)

Decent low-budget British horror which centres on a group of feral youths attacking a high school and its teachers after hours.
Johannes Roberts keeps the tension building nicely throughout and delivers some nice directorial flourishes, particularly with the faceless villains, who remain hooded throughout as they do an impressive job with their parkour skills before landing their prey. The main and biggest criticism is the needlessly ambiguous ending, which is bound to infuriate the majority of audiences. A good stab at a British version of Scream, but it really won't be appreciated too much by mainstream audiences.

"For 31 years it's been just the Fabulous Baker Boys... but times change."
"For 31 years it's been just the Fabulous Baker Boys... but times change."
D: Steve Kloves
Gladden/Mirage (Paula Weinstein, Sydney Pollack & Mark Rosenberg)
🇺🇸 1989
114 mins


W: Steve Kloves
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: William Steinkamp
Mus: Dave Grusin
Pd: Jeffrey Townsend
Cos: Lisa Jensen

Jeff Bridges (Jack Baker), Beau Bridges (Frank Baker), Michelle Pfeiffer (Suzie Diamond), Jennifer Tilly (Blanche 'Monica' Moran)

Two jazz pianist brothers decide to spruce up their failing, old-fashioned act and recruit former escort Suzie Diamond as their new silky-voiced lounge singer, whom both brothers end up falling for.
Despite an excellent performance from Michelle Pfeiffer, this is simply one of them films which is more arty than it is entertaining.      
If you're a jazz aficionado or a die hard fan of Pfeiffer you may find a lot more enjoyment from it.

"In order to trap him, he must become him."
"In order to trap him, he must become him."
D: John Woo
Douglas/Reuther/WCG/Constellation (David Permut, Barrie M. Osborne, Terence Chang & Christopher Godsick)
🇺🇸 1997
139 mins

Action/Crime/Science Fiction

W: Mike Werb & Michael Colleary
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Christian Wagner & Steven Kemper
Mus: John Powell

John Travolta (Sean Archer / Castor Troy), Nicolas Cage (Castor Troy / Sean Archer), Joan Allen (Eve Archer), Alessandro Nivola (Pollux Troy), Gina Gershon (Sasha Hassler), Dominique Swain (Jamie Archer)

Nicolas Cage & John Travolta literally swap places (and faces) in this inventive action thriller from Hong Kong director John Woo.
The film opens with obsessive FBI agent Sean Archer (Travolta) hot on the tracks of criminal mastermind Castor Troy (Cage), who has planted a bomb somewhere in the City and is also responsible for the murder of Archer's young son.
When the pursuit ends with the criminal in a coma, a scientific experiment is developed for the lawman to literally wear Castor Troy's face and get information from the imprisoned brother as to where the bomb is hidden.
Meanwhile, the real Castor wakes up and performs a similar ruse...
Despite being far-fetched and highly unbelievable, the performances of Nicolas Cage & John Travolta give the film much credibility, especially Cage who can play both the vulnerable good guy as well as the maniacal bad guy with a huge amount of zeal. The only flaw is minimal; and that is at the end of the film we're supposed to accept John Travolta as the good guy again after watching nearly an entire movie of him being the bad guy. 

"Six students are about to find out their teachers really are from another planet."
"Six students are about to find out their teachers really are from another planet."
D: Robert Rodriguez
Dimension/Los Hooligans (Elizabeth Avellan)
🇺🇸 1998 (released 1999)
102 mins
Science Fiction/Horror
W: Kevin Williamson
DP: Enrique Chediak
Ed: Robert Rodriguez
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Jordana Brewster (Delilah Profitt), Clea DuVall (Stokely Mitchell), Laura Harris (Marybeth Hutchinson), Josh Hartnett (Zeke Taylor), Salma Hayek (Rosa Harper), Famke Janssen (Elizabeth Burke), Robert Patrick (Joe Willis), Elijah Wood (Casey Connors)
Limp, half-arsed remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers set in an American high school with visuals from John Carpenter's The Thing thrown into the mix for good measure. 
A similar thing was done in the equally abysmal Disturbing Behavior, released the same year, but you expect much more from a cast of familiar names or a skilled director like Robert Rodriguez.

"Aflame with the excitement and emotions of tomorrow."
"Aflame with the excitement and emotions of tomorrow."
D: François Truffaut
Rank/Anglo Enterprises/Vineyard (Lewis M. Allen)
🇬🇧 1966
112 mins
Science Fiction/Drama
W: François Truffaut & Jean-Louis Richard [based on the novel by Ray Bradbury]
DP: Nicolas Roeg
Ed: Thom Noble
Mus: Bernard Herrmann
Oskar Werner (Guy Montag), Julie Christie (Linda Montag), Cyril Cusack (Captain), Anton Diffring (Fabian)         
1984-esque, set in a dystopian future where a fascist regime dictates that books are banned and a fireman's job is to burn them.
Films like Fahrenheit 451, 1984 and others are great proof that you don't need aliens, spaceships or lasers to be a clever, thought-provoking science fiction movie. While the film isn't quite as memorable as others of its type, it's very much worth watching as an adaptation from a classic Ray Bradbury novel, with a very solid performance from its leading man & well directed by Truffaut. One of the cleverest directorial touches he includes are that none of the film's titles appear on screen- instead they are spoken.
FAHRENHEIT 9/11 (15)
D: Michael Moore
Lions Gate (Jim Czarnecki, Kathleen Glynn & Michael Moore)
🇺🇸 2004
122 mins

DP: Mike Desjarlais
Ed: Kurt Engfehr, Christopher Seward & T. Woody Richman
Mus: Jeff Gibbs
Michael Moore's documentary is more of an attack of George W. Bush' presidential administration rather than an informative or educational account of the events of September 11th 2001.
Credit has to be given to the filmmaker for not shying away from the controversial in order to get his voice heard, but if you have little interest in American politics then it's all quite pointless to watch aside from a scene in which the former president squirms in front of a room full of school kids when he receives the news of the events in New York City on that fateful day.


D: Sidney Lumet

Columbia (Sidney Lumet, Charles H. Maguire & Max E. Youngstein)

🇺🇸 1964

112 mins


W: Walter Bernstein & Peter George [based on the novel by Eugene Burdick & Harvey Wheeler]

DP: Gerald Hirschfeld

Ed: Ralph Rosenblum

Henry Fonda (The President), Walter Matthau (Groeteschele), Dan O'Herlihy (Gen. Black), Frank Overton (Gen. Bogan), Fritz Weaver (Col. Cascio)

Sailing below the radar due to Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove being released in the same year, this Cold War drama looks at similar themes through more dramatic lenses.

Due to an erroneous message from the Pentagon, a US bomber is despatched with an atomic weapon en route to Moscow, starting a domino effect of events which the American president must account for.

Incredibly well written, with a superb central performance from Henry Fonda, this is a film which would have been harder hitting when watched in the 1960's, when the fear factor was very much part of current affairs. It still has some resonance nowadays, but much of the tech in this film is dated.

It's unfortunate that the much superior Dr. Strangelove was released the same year, despite looking at the Cold War from a satirical viewpoint.


"Wife. Mother. Spy."
"Wife. Mother. Spy."
D: Doug Liman
Summit/River Road (Jez Butterworth, Akiva Goldsman, Doug Liman, Bill Pohlad, Jerry Zucker & Janet Zucker)
🇺🇸 2010
108 mins


W: Jez Butterworth & John Butterworth [based on the books "Fair Game" by Valerie Plame & "The Politics Of Truth" by Joseph C. Wilson]
DP: Doug Liman
Ed: Christopher Tellefsen
Mus: John Powell

Naomi Watts (Valerie Plame), Sean Penn (Joseph Wilson), Noah Emmerich (Bill), Ty Burrell (Fred), Sam Shepard (Sam Plame), Bruce McGill (James Pavitt)

American political thrillers can be a very hit & miss genre, enjoyment may depend heavily upon which continent you live on or, indeed, your general level of interest. This one, in short, is giving a middle finger to the Bush administration and his policies on the Gulf War.
Based on a true story, it features Sean Penn & Naomi Watts as married CIA agents collecting intelligence and information on WMD in Iraq (or lack of). 
Their gathered intel is then cherry picked by officials who want to justify the war and the couples names are then leaked to the press, jeopardising their future careers in their government jobs.
It's an intelligent, dramatic film with superb performances from it's two leads, helped by a very clever, controversial screenplay.
Not to be confused with the 1990's film starring Cindy Crawford.

"Don't trust a soul."
"Don't trust a soul."
D: Gregory Hoblit
Warner Bros./Turner/Atlas (Charles Roven & Dawn Steel)
🇺🇸 1998
127 mins
W: Nicholas Kazan
DP: Newton Thomas Sigel
Ed: Lawrence Jordan
Mus: Tan Dun
Denzel Washington (Det. John Hobbes), John Goodman (Det. Jonesy), Donald Sutherland (Lt. Stanton), Embeth Davidtz (Greta Milano), James Gandolfini (Lou), Elias Koteas (Edgar Reese)
Unoriginal and forgettable supernatural thriller which sees Denzel Washington's clean-cut detective hunting a demonic serial killer who has the ability to transfer his soul from one body to another.
It's all been done before and much better as well, most notably in 1987's sci-fi/horror The Hidden (qv). 
The tagline "Don't Trust A Soul" is probably the cleverest thing about it.

"The adventures of an ordinary man at war with the everyday world."
"The adventures of an ordinary man at war with the everyday world."
D: Joel Schumacher
Warner Bros. (Arnold Kopelson, Timothy Harris & Herschel Weingrod)
🇺🇸 1993
115 mins
W: Ebbe Roe Smith
DP: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Ed: Paul Hirsch
Mus: James Newton Howard
Michael Douglas (D-Fens), Robert Duvall (Det. Martin Prendergast), Barbara Hershey (Beth), Rachel Ticotin (Sandra), Tuesday Weld (Mrs. Prendergast)
Arguably Joel Schumacher's finest hour as a director. Michael Douglas plays a disgruntled civil servant who has reached breaking point. He abandons his car on a gridlocked Los Angeles freeway and makes his way on foot through the urban jungle to confront his ex-wife on his daughter's birthday. His conflicts with other civilians begin with minor irritants like the price of a can of cola and being a few minutes too late to order breakfast from a takeout diner before he gets in serious trouble with LA gangs over a territorial issue when he merely takes a rest on "their" land.  The only person who seems to share and admire his rebellion is a homophobic Neo-Nazi, much to Douglas' disgust.
Part black comedy, part acerbic crime thriller, the film owes much to it's canvas of characters, especially Robert Duvall as mild-mannered cop aiming to put a stop to Douglas' shenanigans and Barbara Hershey as the estranged wife. This is Michael Douglas' film though, delivering his best performance since his Oscar-winning turn in Wall Street.
D: Brett Ratner
Universal/Beacon (Marc Abraham, Zvi Howard Rosenman, Tony Ludwig & Alan Riche)
🇺🇸 2000
126 mins


W: David Diamond & David Weissman
DP: Dante Spinotti
Ed: Mark Helfrich
Mus: Danny Elfman

Nicolas Cage (Jack Campbell), Téa Leoni (Kate Reynolds / Kate Campbell), Jeremy Piven (Arnie), Josef Sommer (Peter Lassiter), Saul Rubinek (Alan Mintz), Don Cheadle (Cash)

Overly sentimental variant on It's A Wonderful Life, in which Nicolas Cage plays a wealthy but soulless banker whose life magically transforms so he is a husband & father to a suburban family. The moral of the story seems to be making a choice between love & money, but eventually settles that you can have both, which pretty much destroys any message that the film attempts to convey.
Nicolas Cage isn't the best choice of actor for this film, but tries his best in the role. Téa Leoni, meanwhile, simply cannot act her way out of a paper bag. 
Okay as a family film to waste a bit of time with but nothing besides that.

"There's no body in the family plot."
"There's no body in the family plot."
D: Alfred Hitchcock
Universal (Alfred Hitchcock)
🇺🇸 1976
126 mins


W: Ernest Lehman [based on the novel "The Rainbird Pattern" by Victor Canning]
DP: Leonard J. South
Ed: J. Terry Williams
Mus: John Williams
PD: Henry Bumstead

Barbara Harris (Blanche Tyler), Bruce Dern (George Lumley), Karen Black (Fran), William Devane (Arthur Adamson / Edward Shoebridge), Ed Lauter (Joseph P. Maloney), Cathleen Nesbitt (Julia Rainbird)

Alfred Hitchcock's last film is far from his best, but does feature some stylish flourishes which are expected from the master of suspense.
The film has parallel plots which intertwine towards the finale, the main story strand sees a phoney psychic who is hired to locate a long-lost heir. Along with her cab driver husband, another fraud, they become involved in a kidnapping plot with another couple (Karen Black and William Devane), who plan to be paid their ransom in priceless diamonds.
Though the story is a bit of a mish-mash, it works reasonably well as the film progresses, with some very memorable scenes, including an out-of-control car speeding down a hill being the standout.
The acting of the four principal actors is good, and the music by John Williams is perfectly mysterious.

D: Ben Sharpsteen
Disney (Walt Disney)
🇺🇸 1940
135 mins
W: Joe Grant & Dick Huemer
Mus: Edward H. Plumb

Deems Taylor (narrator)
Walt Disney's homage to classical music, with works of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Bach and other composers given a cartoon interpretation.
The critics adored this, which will leave mainstream Disney fans wondering what all the fuss is about. It's understandable why it's a classic, simply for the experiment of mixing animation with music, but unfortunately that isn't enough. It's length is also unjustifiable.
Possibly worth watching for "The Sorceror's Apprentice" sequence with Mickey Mouse but it really isn't the cinema classic that the stuffier film critics hail it to be.


D: David Yates

Warner Bros/Heyday (David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & Lionel Wigram)

🇺🇸 🇬🇧 2016

133 mins


W: J.K. Rowling [based on her novel]

DP: Philippe Rousselot

Ed: Mark Day

Mus: James Newton Howard

PD: Stuart Craig

Cos: Colleen Atwood

Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), Katherine Waterston (Porpentina Goldstein), Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein), Colin Farrell (Percival Graves), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Carmen Ejogo (Seraphina Picquery), Samantha Morton (Mary Lou)

J.K. Rowling's expanded universe of Harry Potter's wizarding world takes us to 1920's New York, where magical zoologist Newt Scamander and his Mary Poppins suitcase full of fantastic beasts is a new arrival to American shores from Britain. 

When one of his creatures escapes from the suitcase at a bank, Newt and a "no-maj" (lacking magic) baker accidentally switch cases. Meanwhile, something is causing havoc around the city, and the unlikely duo, with the help of two magical sisters, investigate the goings-on, while the ominous Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) appears to be doing likewise.

Though the story here is not a direct prequel to Harry Potter's adventures, there are many references to it, and fans of J.K. Rowling's schoolboy wizard certainly won't feel short changed by this.

The production design and costumes capture the period wonderfully, as well as being creative in their own respect. One small niggle is that some of the CGI is nowhere near the standard you'd expect for a top dollar blockbuster, especially for the supposed fantastic beasts, although this can't be said for all of the effects (some of which are well executed). The role of Newt Scamander seems to fit Eddie Redmayne like a glove.


"Who will change the future?"
"Who will change the future?"


D: David Yates

Warner Bros/Heyday (David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & Lionel Wigram)

🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2018

134 mins


W: J.K. Rowling

DP: Philippe Rousselot

Ed: Mark Day

Mus: James Newton Howard

PD: Stuart Craig

Cos: Colleen Atwood

Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein), Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein), Jude Law (Albus Dumbledore), Johnny Depp (Gellert Grindelwald)

When the first film (Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them) proved to be a hit, it was inevitable that sequels would follow, especially since the Harry Potter movies proved so bankable for Warner Bros.

Just like the first movie J.K. Rowling penned the screenplay herself, following on from them events to set up the villainous character of Grindelwald, an evil wizard who practices the dark arts of magic. Albus Dumbledore enlists the help of Newt Scamander to find the wizard and defeat him and he attempts to enlist the help of his pals from the first adventure.

The film starts with a bang, as Grindelwald escapes incarceration, but then the next 60-90 minutes is dragged down with boring, plodding exposition, which mostly consists of characters pointing at things and explaining the plot to us muggles who don't have a Scooby what's going on. It also invests a lot of time in setting up characters for more sequels, because J.K Rowling wants another throne to sit on as she judges the rest of us peasants via her Twitter account.

In all honesty, I'm not a fan of Harry Potter and never have been. Some of the films were enjoyable, but some were dull as dishwater, 2-hour plus trailers for the next in the series. That's pretty much what this is, except even Harry Potter fans are disappointed and left theatres wondering what the hell they'd just watched, especially since it seems to retcon things which are already canon.

Perhaps J.K. Rowling should stick to writing books, rather than screenplays (or condescending, disingenuous, virtue-signalling tweets).


"Prepare for the fantastic."
"Prepare for the fantastic."
D: Tim Story
20th Century Fox/Marvel/Constantin (Bernd Eichinger, Avi Arad & Ralph Winter)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2005
105 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Mark Frost & Michael France [based on characters created by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: William Hoy
Mus: John Ottman
PD: Bill Boes

Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic), Jessica Alba (Sue Storm / Invisible Woman), Chris Evans (Johnny Storm), Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm / The Thing), Julian McMahon (Victor Von Doom / Doctor Doom), Kerry Washington (Alicia Masters)

Far from fantastic comic book adventure which doesn't live up to its potential.
The origin side of things is fine, with a team of astronauts struck by a radiation cloud which affects their DNA and gives them various superhuman powers. Unfortunately the focus then goes on Jessica Alba's character moaning that she doesn't get enough love from her ex-boyfriend, Mr. Fantastic (Gruffudd) and with her relationship with Victor Von Doom hitting the skids, she's now without a boyfriend. Diddums. The modest budget doesn't make the most convincing visual effects or makeup either, especially The Thing's obvious rubber suit. Product placement couldn't be more in your face either. Flame-grilled Whopper anyone?
The biggest problem is the wooden characters and performances. Keep them all away from the Human Torch or there'll be a catastrophe!

"Change is coming."
"Change is coming."
D: Josh Trank
20th Century Fox/Marvel (Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Hutch Parker, Robert Kulzer & Gregory Goodman)
🇺🇸 2015
100 mins 

Science Fiction

W: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg & Josh Trank [based on the comic book series by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby]
DP: Matthew Jensen
Ed: Elliot Greenberg & Stephen E. Rivkin
Mus: Marco Beltrami & Philip Glass

Miles Teller (Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (Sue Storm / The Invisible Woman), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm / The Human Torch), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm / The Thing), Toby Kebbell (Victor Von Doom / Doctor Doom)

The previous two Fantastic Four movies, released in 2005 and 2007, were far from fantastic, but at least they were more entertaining than this. Even the 1994 made-for-TV version wasn't as boring.
Though this origin tale has some good ideas, the execution of them is nothing short of terrible, presented in a dull way where nothing much happens for the most part and not much else happens after. It's abundantly clear that this was a project where director Josh Trank and the studio did a lot of wrestling for overall control (backed up the director's tweet after the film's premiere that the final result would have been very different had he called more of the shots).
The junior fantastic four, all high school age, are united when child prodigy Reed Richards creates a gateway to another dimension for his school science fair.
On a grander scale, control of the stargate (I'm just gonna call it that) is wrestled over between Richards and erratic, obnoxious genius Victor Von Doom, in what must surely be a metaphor for the production of this film.
After a midnight trip to the fourth dimension, the four gain their powers to make them become Mr. Fantastic, The Human Torch, The Invisible Girl and The Thing, while Von Doom, fused to his protective suit, hatches a plan to kill everyone (but only in the final 10 minutes of the movie).
This film is so bad, that Marvel have even disowned it from their cinematic universe list. There's so much wrong with it that you can't blame them. It may not be the worst superhero film ever made, but it's easily the most disappointing.

D: Tim Story
20th Century Fox/Marvel/Constantin (Bernd Eichinger, Avi Arad & Ralph Winter)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 🇬🇧 2007
92 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Mark Frost & Don Payne [based on characters created by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee]
DP: Larry Blanford
Ed: William Hoy
Mus: John Ottman
PD: Kirk M. Petrucelli

Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic), Jessica Alba (Sue Storm / The Invisible Woman), Chris Evans (Johnny Storm / The Human Torch), Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm / The Thing), Julian McMahon (Victor Von Doom / Doctor Doom), Kerry Washington (Alicia Masters), Andre Braugher (Gen. Hager), Doug Jones (The Silver Surfer), Laurence Fishburne (voice of The Silver Surfer)

Like the first film all the potential is lost through a rushed production, making for a sloppy narrative with unpolished production values and visual effects.
The first act is once again taken up with the tedious storyline of Jessica Alba's character moping around because she's not getting enough love, even though impending doom is on its way in the shape of alien being, the silver surfer, followed by the mighty destroyer of worlds, Galactus.
Once the action does get going, it's not entirely awful, but the filmmakers definitely missed a trick. In the Marvel Universe, Galactus is the most feared of all the comic book villains, in this film it's represented by a cloud. The superhero movie sub-genre really deserved better than this.

D: Wes Anderson
20th Century Fox/Indian Paintbrush/American Empirical (Allison Abbate, Scott Rudin, Wes Anderson & Jeremy Dawson)
🇺🇸 2009
87 mins
W: Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach [based on the novel by Roald Dahl]
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
voices of: George Clooney (Mr. Fox), Meryl Streep (Felicity Fox), Bill Murray (Clive Badger), Jason Schwartzman (Ash Fox), Willem Dafoe (Rat), Owen Wilson (Coach Skip)
Witty & inventive adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book using stop-motion animation which suit the material well. 
The voice actors give the characters much personality as Mr. Fox tries in vain to put aside his hunting roots and be a family man, but temptation is simply too much when he moves into a new home opposite three farms.
Wes Anderson's quirky style in his previous films may have dissuaded some viewers from checking this one out, but this is very much worth watching, especially if you're a fan of Roald Dahl's original book.
D: Richard Fleischer
20th Century Fox (Saul David)
🇺🇸 1966
100 mins

Science Fiction

W: Harry Kleiner & David Duncan [based on the novel by Otto Klement & Jay Lewis Bixby]
DP: Ernest Laszlo
Ed: William B. Murphy
Mus: Leonard Rosenman
PD: Jack Martin Smith & Dale Hennesy

Stephen Boyd (Charles Grant), Raquel Welch (Cora Peterson), Edmond O'Brien (Gen. Carter), Donald Pleasance (Dr. Michaels), Arthur O'Connell (Col. Donald Reid), William Redfield (Capt. Bill Owens), Arthur Kennedy (Dr. Peter Duval)

Incredibly dated but iconic sci-fi gem about a team of scientists who are miniaturised in a vessel and injected into a comatose, brain-damaged scientists bloodstream to repair the damage.
While the production design and visual effects were groundbreaking in the 1960's, by today's standards this looks like a cheesy TV movie or an episode of Doctor Who. Enjoyable enough for its story, but time really hasn't been very kind.

FAR & AWAY (12)
D: Ron Howard
UIP/Universal/Imagine (Brian Grazer & Ron Howard)
🇺🇸 1992
140 mins


W: Bob Dolman
DP: Mikael Solomon
Ed: Michael Hill & Daniel Hanley
Mus: John Williams
PD: Allan Cameron

Tom Cruise (Joseph Donnelly), Nicole Kidman (Shannon Christie), Thomas Gibson (Stephen Chase), Robert Prosky (Daniel Christie), Barbara Babcock (Nora Christie), Cyril Cusack (Danty Duff)

Epic-style romance about a couple of Irish immigrant farmers trying to make it in America during the 19th century. The old-fashioned style of filmmaking might have come off better had the film been made in the 1940's or 1950's, unfortunately Ron Howard's film is boring, far too long and certainly not helped by the atrocious 'Oi-rish' accents of the two main stars, Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman.

"What imprisons desires of the heart?"
"What imprisons desires of the heart?"


D: Todd Haynes

Focus Features (Christine Vachon & Jody Patton)

🇺🇸 2002

107 mins


W: Todd Haynes

DP: Edward Lachman

Ed: James Lyons

Mus: Elmer Bernstein

PD: Mark Friedberg

Julianne Moore (Cathy Whitaker), Dennis Quaid (Frank Whitaker), Dennis Haysbert (Raymond Deagan), Patricia Clarkson (Eleanor Fine), Viola Davis (Sybil)

An exquisitely-photographed slice of 1950's New England, reminiscent of classic Douglas Sirk melodramas, starring Julianne Moore as a housewife in a wealthy Connecticut suburb who discovers that her husband (Dennis Quaid) is homosexual. To deal with her grief, she embarks on a secret relationship with her black gardener and incurs wrath from the racist townsfolk.

Beautifully filmed, strongly acted and with a powerful message in the script. Julianne Moore has rarely been better.


"Small town... Big crime... Dead cold."
"Small town... Big crime... Dead cold."
FARGO (18)
D: Joel Coen
Working Title/Polygram (Ethan Coen)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1996
98 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Roderick Jaynes (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Rick Heinrichs

Frances McDormand (Marge Gunderson), William H. Macy (Jerry Lundegaard), Steve Buscemi (Carl Showalter), Peter Stormare (Gaear Grimsrud), Harve Presnell (Wade Gustafson), John Carroll Lynch (Norm Gunderson)

The Coen Brothers' finest hour: an "untrue true story" which works both as a crime thriller as well as a black comedy.
The movie claims to be based on a true story (which it isn't, the filmmakers just decided to claim it as such) of a crime gone wrong in snow-covered Minnesota. 
Used car salesman Jerry Lundegaard hires two irascible kidnappers to abduct his wife so he can take a slice of the ransom that his father-in-law will pay. It all goes wrong however, and a trail of murders are left for pregnant police officer Marge Gunderson to investigate.
The Coen's deliver a genuine work of art here, filled with great characters, memorable dialogue and a story so surreal yet believable, it's forgiving that many audience members believed it's claims to be based on fact. One of the best films of the 1990's and inspiration for a TV show which hit the smaller screen two decades later.

D: Gerard Corbieu
Guild/Stephan/Alinea/Canal (Vera Belmont)
🇧🇪 🇮🇹 1994
111 mins


W: Andre Corbieu, Gerard Corbieu & Marcel Bieulieu
DP: Walther Vanden
Ed: Joelle Hache
Mus: Christophe Rousset
PD: Gianni Quaranta

Stefano Dionisi (Carlo Maria Broschi), Enrico Lo Verso (Riccardo Broschi), Elsa Zylberstein (Alexandra), Caroline Cellier (Margaret Hunter), Jeroen Krabbe (George Frederic Handel)

Comparisons will certainly be made with 1984's Amadeus in this biopic of a high-pitched opera singer and his on-going feud with both his brother and the renowned composer Handel.
The film is packed with rich production design & costumes and inventive sound techniques creating the castrated opera star's authentic singing tones.
It's all rather over-the-top and quite camp, and certainly won't be for everyone.

D: Rob Cohen
Universal/Mediastream (Neal H. Moritz)
🇺🇸 2001
107 mins


W: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist & David Ayer
DP: Ericson Core
Ed: Peter Honess
Mus: BT

Paul Walker (Brian O'Conner), Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Ortiz), Jordana Brewster (Mia Toretto), Rick Yune (Johnny Tran)

An undercover cop goes undercover in a Los Angeles street racing gang, two characters argue over a tuna sandwich and the rest is all fast car porn & techno music for the easily-pleased.
It was hugely successful though, generating a series of sequels, none of which will appeal if you didn't enjoy the first film.

D: Amy Heckerling
Universal (Art Linson & Irving Azoff)
🇺🇸 1982
92 mins
W: Cameron Crowe [based on his book]
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Eric Jenkins
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Stacy Hamilton), Brian Backus (Mark Ratner), Phoebe Cates (Linda Barrett), Sean Penn (Jeff Spicoli), Judge Reinhold (Brad Hamilton)
One of the best teen comedies of the 1980's, based on screenwriter Cameron Crowe's observations when he went undercover as a student at a real high school.
The story follows several students on their quests for sex & fun, lacking the puerile toilet humour of similar films around the same time (Porky's, Revenge of the Nerds) in favour for more believable, realistic gags and characters with a little more flesh (Phoebe Cates, for sure).
All the cast members do a fine job, but Sean Penn steals the movie as a relentlessly stoned surfer dude. Gnarly!
Keep an eye out for a debut performance by Nicolas Cage (billed as Nicolas Coppola)

D: Adrian Lyne
Paramount (Stanley R. Jaffe & Sherry Lansing)
🇺🇸 1987
119 mins
W: James Dearden [based on his teleplay "Diversion"]
DP: Howard Atherton
Ed: Michael Kahn & Peter E. Berger
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: Mel Bourne
Michael Douglas (Dan Gallagher), Glenn Close (Alex Forrest), Anne Archer (Beth Gallagher), Ellen Hamilton Latzen (Ellen Gallagher), Stuart Pankin (Jimmy), Ellen Foley (Hildy), Fred Gwynne (Arthur)
Any man contemplating a one night stand would think twice after watching this, the film which inspired the terminology "bunny boiler".
Screenwriter James Dearden adapted his own little known TV movie for one of the most iconic and successful films of the 1980's. Michael Douglas plays a married New York attorney who has a weekend of infidelity with a colleague, who, angered by his insensitive chauvinism after their tryst, becomes increasingly manic, progressing from incessant phone calls to stalking his family, even going as far as cooking the family pet in a spiteful show of revenge.
The formula has since become an overused cliche in the girlfriend/housemate/neighbour-from-hell market, but for the mid 1980's this had tremendous impact. Adrian Lyne's thriller builds the tension well from an inauspicious beginning and owes much to Glenn Close's chillingly believable performance. Credit must also go to Anne Archer, who gives life to a shamefully underwritten picket fence wife.
Definitely not a film for Valentine's Day.
D: Carl Reiner
MGM (Katy Jacobs & Pierce Gardner)
🇺🇸 1993
88 mins
W: David O'Malley 
DP: Gabriel Beristain
Ed: Bud Molin & Stephen Myers
Mus: Richard Gibbs
Armand Assante (Ned Ravine), Sherilyn Fenn (Laura Lingonberry), Kate Nelligan (Lana Ravine), Sean Young (Lola Cain), Christopher McDonald (Frank Kelbo), James Remar (Max Shady)
Silly parody of both Fatal Attraction & Basic Instinct which throws in a few references to other film noir/thriller movies for good measure.
There's maybe one or two funny moments in the whole film, which isn't a particularly good ratio and the performances are nothing better than average.
D: Ralph Nelson
Universal (Robert Arthur)
🇺🇸 1964
115 mins


W: S. H. Barnett, Peter Stone & Frank Tarloff
DP: Charles Lang
Ed: Ted J. Kent
Mus: Cy Coleman
PD: Alexander Golitzen & Henry Bumstead
Cos: Ray Aghayan

Cary Grant (Walter Eckland) Leslie Caron (Catherine Freneau), Trevor Howard (Cmmdr. Frank Houghton), Jack Good (Lt. Stebbings)

Wartime comedy featuring Cary Grant cast against type as a gruff sea captain who finds himself in charge of a group of refugee school children and their teacher.
The story meanders between adventure, farce and sex comedy, but features some funny lines of dialogue.
Good old-fashioned fun for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

D: Charles Shyer
Touchstone/Touchwood Pacific Partners I (Nancy Myers, Carol Baum & Howard Rosenman)
🇺🇸 1991
105 mins


W: Nancy Myers & Charles Shyer [based on the screenplay by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett]
DP: John Lindley
Ed: Richard Marks
Mus: Alan Silvestri

Steve Martin (George Banks), Diane Keaton (Nina Banks), Kimberly Williams (Annie Banks), Martin Short (Franck Eggelhoffer), George Newbern (Bryan Mackenzie), Kieran Culkin (Matty Banks)

Remake of a 1950's classic with Steve Martin in the original Spencer Tracy role as a father whose sanity and wallet take a pounding with his daughter's wedding looming on the horizon.
As far as remakes go, this isn't terrible, but delves into a lot of sentimentality following a promising start and some of the characters are incredibly annoying (particularly Martin Short). Steve Martin does his best to help maintain an even keel.

D: Ivan Reitman
Warner Bros./Northern Lights (Joel Silver & Ivan Reitman)
🇺🇸 1997
98 mins


W: Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel [based on the screenplay "Les Compres" by Francis Veber]
DP: Stephen H. Burum
Ed: Sheldon Kahn & Wendy Greene Bricmont
Mus: James Newton Howard

Robin Williams (Dale Putley), Billy Crystal (Jack Lawrence), Julia-Louis Dreyfus (Carrie Lawrence), Nastassja Kinski (Collette Andrews)

A grotesque, unfunny and soulless remake of a French farce which sees Robin Williams & Billy Crystal going through their usual schtick as two men who are contacted by a former girlfriend who begs them to find her 16-year-old son, each believing that the child is their own.
Williams and Crystal aren't the problem here, they're routine, despite not being anything special, are the only reason to keep watching this drivel. The film's biggest problem is Julia Louis Dreyfus' absolute monster of a character, one of the most unpleasant you'd see in any film, nevermind one which is supposed to be a comedy. An absolutely ghastly experience.


D: Yorgos Lanthimos

Fox Searchlight/Element/Arcana/Film 4/Scarlet/Waypoint (Ed Guiney, Ceci Dempsey, Lee Magiday & Yorgos Lanthimos)

🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇮🇪 2018

120 mins


W: Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara

DP: Robbie Ryan

Ed: Yorgos Mavropidis

PD: Fiona Crombie

Cos: Sandy Powell

Olivia Colman (Queen Anne), Emma Stone (Abigail Hill), Rachel Weisz (Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough), Nicholas Hoult (Earl Robert Harley), Joe Alwyn (Samuel Masham), Mark Gatiss (John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough)

Political games and cat fights in the court of Queen Anne are afoot in this bawdy 18th Century romp from director Yorgos Lanthimos, working off a screenplay that had been lying dormant for 20 years before getting a fresh reworking and a brand new title (the original was "The Balance Of Power")

The trio of performances see Olivia Colman play the ailing Queen Anne, suffering from poor health at the tail end of her reign, while Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone play a pair of chambermaids who vie for her attention as her main confidant. Rachel Weisz as a duchess of high standing who has the Queen's ear in matters of politics, while Emma Stone's Abigail Hill comes from a far poorer background, but ends up being equally manipulative.

Inspired by true characters and events, artistic licence is made to give the story a rather contemporary feel, mostly to serve the acerbic dialogue and spiteful humour, both of which are hilarious.

The production, filmed at Hatfield House and Hampton Court Palace, capture the period perfectly, helped by Robbie Ryan's fisheye cinematography which captures the sprawling halls of royalty with a sense of panorama.  The only thing which didn't work for me was the eerie music, which seemed intrusive more than it did immersive.

The trio of performances at the focal point of the story are all excellent, and though it's Olivia Colman who is being pushed as the lead for the sake of awards recognition, any and all of three of the ladies could be considered the lead. Those expecting a more elegant costume drama (like Downton Abbey) may be perturbed by the humour, but those who like their humour a little dark will likely find it quite hilarious.


FEAR (18)
D: Rockne S. O'Bannon
First Independent/Vestron (Richard Kobritz, Mitchell Cannold, Diane Nabatoff & Henry Kline)
🇺🇸 1990
95 mins
W: Rockne S. O'Bannon
DP: Robert Stevens
Ed: Kent Beyda
Mus: Henry Mancini
Ally Sheedy (Cayce Bridges), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Shadow Man), Lauren Hutton (Jessica Moreau), Michael O'Keefe (Jack Hays)
Pathetic, cliche-ridden and mindless thriller about a psychic detective who discovers the serial killer she is pursuing is himself a psychic.
The movie offers nothing new and has an exceptionally poor, miscast performance by Ally Sheedy and one of the most pathetically docile villains of all time, one who becomes a snivelling wimp when he clumsily loses his murder weapon (a dagger).
A TV movie of the week and nothing more.
D: Terry Gilliam
Universal/Rhino (Laila Nabulsi & Patrick Cassavetti)
🇺🇸 1998
119 mins


W: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni, Tod Davies & Alex Cox [based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson]
DP: Nicola Pecorini
Ed: Lesley Walker
Mus: Ray Cooper
PD: Alex McDowell
Cos: Julie Weiss

Johnny Depp (Raoul Duke), Benicio del Toro (Dr. Gonzo), Tobey Maguire (The Hitchhiker), Gary Busey (The Highway Patrolman), Ellen Barkin (The Waitress), Christina Ricci (Lucy)

Terry Gilliam's surreal trip follows a journalist and his attorney as they drive into Las Vegas on a wild drug binge.
Hunter S. Thompson's original book was deemed unfilmable due to the subject matter and the adaptation is as messy as it is is bizarre. Gilliam does a great job making each visual look like it's captured through the eyes of a drug user.
There's not much story, character development or memorable dialogue, but it still manages to be a memorable film, and though there doesn't seem to be much point to it, this is, ironically, the point.

D: Peter Weir
Warner Bros./Spring Creek (Mark Rosenberg & Paula Weinstein)
🇺🇸 1993
122 mins


W: Rafael Yglesias [based on his novel]
DP: Allen Davieu & Tom Cannole
Ed: William Anderson, Armen Minasian & Lee Smith
Mus: Maurice Jarre

Jeff Bridges (Max Klein), Isabella Rossellini (Laura Klein), Rosie Perez (Carla Rodrigo), Tom Hulce (Brillstein), John Turturro (Bill Perlman), Benicio Del Toro (Manny Rodrigo)     

A strange but unique drama from director Peter Weir, held together and given credibility by it's performances.
Jeff Bridges is one of a handful of survivors from a plane crash. In the weeks that follow the terrible event he faces his own fears (heights, allergies) and tests his own mortality.  He also finds friendship with a woman whose child died in the accident when his family fail to understand what he's going through.
As good as the performances are, the film only brushes over the periphery of a person's state of mind following a near-death experience in favour of some new age mystisism which doesn't answer the issues that it raises.


D: Denzel Washington

Paramount/Bron Creative/Macro Media (Todd Black, Scott Rudin & Denzel Washington)

🇺🇸 2016

139 mins


W: August Wilson [based on his stage play]

DP: Charlotte Bruus Christensen

Ed: Hughes Winborne

Mus: Marcelo Zarvos

Denzel Washington (Troy Maxson), Viola Davis (Rose Maxson), Jovan Adepo (Cory Maxson), Stephen Henderson (Jim Bono), Russell Hornsby (Lyons Maxson), Mykelti Williamson (Gabriel Maxson)

Fences is virtually a filmed version of a stage play, but it does showcase an ensemble of excellent performances, especially from the leading pair, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the latter of whom won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, despite being the leading actress in the picture.

The transition from stage to screen doesn't appear to affect the material, which focuses on the relationships of Troy Masson, a rubbish collector and his family in 1950's Pittsburgh, the majority of the scenes taking place in his back yard where he plans to put up a fence with his son.

The dialogue mostly consists of Troy battling with racial oppressions of the time, particularly his failures to make it as a ball player due to the colour of his skin. A sore point which he tries to pass down to his son, an aspiring football player who is bound by his father's strict rules.

Though the material will doubtlessly work better on stage, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis make this eminently watchable with their excellent character portrayals, especially in the quieter moments when Troy isn't shouting at everyone.


"Built To Fight. Born To Love."
"Built To Fight. Born To Love."


D: Carlos Saldanha

20th Century Fox/Blue Sky (John Davis, Lisa Marie Stetier, Lori Forte & Bruce Anderson)

🇺🇸 2017

108 mins


W: Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle & Brad Copeland [based on "The Story Of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf & Robert Lawson]

Mus: John Powell 

voices of: John Cena (Ferdinand), Kate McKinnon (Lupe), Bobby Cannavale (Valiente), Gina Rodriguez (Una), Daveed Diggs (Dos)

The Story Of Ferdinand was originally made into an 8-minute short film by Walt Disney and his studio way back in 1938, winning an Oscar for Best Animated Short. 

The story centres on a bull who is more interested in the matador's flowers than he is in fighting. 

This feature length update adds 100 minutes to the plot, mostly about the evils of bullfighting and, to a lesser extent, eating meat... you know, for kids.

The animation may be an improvement on the 1930's counterpart and family-friendly it may be, but that doesn't make it a great movie.

Children may find enjoyment in it, but a good animated film should really aim higher. After all, it's the parents who can afford the price of the tickets.

Personally, I find the 8-minute version much more fun.


D: Bill Kroyer
20th Century Fox/FAI/Youngheart (Wayne Young & Peter Faiman)
🇦🇺 1992
76 mins
W: Jim Cox [based on the book by Diana Young]
Mus: Alan Silvestri
voices of: Samantha Mathis (Crysta), Christian Slater (Pips), Tim Curry (Hexxus), Jonathan Ward (Zak), Robin Williams (Batty Koda), Grace Zabriskie (Magi Lune)
Ecological-minded animated fantasy about a fairy, a fruit-bat and a miniaturised lumberjack who unite to save a rainforest from an evil spirit who aims to destroy it.
Overall, the animation is rather decent for a non-Disney production and the story is entertaining enough, with a well-intended moral that we should all respect nature. Under-12's will enjoy it much more than any other demographic.
"One man's struggle to take it easy."
"One man's struggle to take it easy."
D: John Hughes
Paramount (John Hughes & Tom Jacobson)         
🇺🇸 1986
103 mins
W: John Hughes
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Paul Hirsch
Mus: Ira Newborn
Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller), Alan Ruck (Cameron Frye), Mia Sara (Sloane Peterson), Jeffrey Jones (Edward R. Rooney), Jennifer Grey (Jeannie Bueller)
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
If you really scratch beneath the surface, Ferris Bueller isn't a very nice person. He's a high school student who'll seem to screw anyone over to get what he wants, including his best friend. However, Matthew Broderick makes the character surprisingly loveable. Skipping school with his best pal & his girlfriend, the trio venture into Chicago for a day of high end truancy, including a fancy restaurant, a museum of art, watching a baseball game and of course, gatecrashing a street parade party.
Because the film is so fun, it's easy to accept that Ferris isn't a particularly nice person.
One of John Hughes' more iconic teen comedies of the 1980's and it's aged quite well, even though it's clearly an exercise in being irresponsible.

D: Rob Reiner
Columbia Tristar/Castle Rock/Manhattan Project (David Brown, Rob Reiner & Andrew Scheinman)
🇺🇸 1992
138 mins


W: Aaron Sorkin [based on his play]
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Robert Leighton
Mus: Marc Shaiman
PD: J. Michael Riva
Cos: Gloria Gresham

Tom Cruise (Lt. J.G. Daniel Kaffee), Demi Moore (Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway), Jack Nicholson (Col. Nathan R. Jessup), Kevin Bacon (Capt. Jack Ross), Kiefer Sutherland (Lt. Jonathan Kendrick), Kevin Pollak (Lt. Sam Weinberg), James Marshall (PFC Louden Downey), Wolfgang Bodison (Lance Corp. Harold W. Dawson), J. T. Walsh (Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson), Christopher Guest (Dr. Stone)

A quite excellent ensemble courtroom drama with solid performances from all involved.
Two fanatical marines training at Guantanamo Bay are arrested following the death of another marine and the case to defend them is assigned to cocky, youth hotshot military lawyer Lt. Daniel Caffee (Cruise), the Navy's go to man for plea bargaining so a potentially controversial case won't go to trial when it is discovered that the two marines were given orders to carry out admonishment (aka a 'Code Red') upon the victim, which went tragically wrong, resulting in the death, and senior officials at the base covered up their involvement in the wrongdoing, setting up the two young marines as scapegoats.
Refusing to accept a murder or manslaughter charge, the two marines face trial with Kaffee, Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway (Moore) and Lt. Sam Weinberg (Pollak) representing them and their only possible chance to win the case is to subpoena highly decorated officer Colonel Nathan Jessup (Nicholson) to prove his guilt of ordering illegal practices of 'Code Red's' on his military base.
Aaron Sorkin's excellent screenplay is littered with sparkling dialogue, fleshed out by realistic characters, all of whom have their own motives and dilemmas to their involvement in the case.
All the cast do justice to a great drama, but the scene-stealing turn by Jack Nicholson gives the film it's classic scenes, especially in the closing stages when he takes the witness stand for a battle of wits with rookie lawyer Kaffee.
One of the best films of 1992.

D: Norman Jewison
United Artists/Mirisch (Norman Jewison)
🇺🇸 1971
180 mins
W: Joseph Stein [based on his stage play]
DP: Oswald Morris
Ed: Antony Gibbs & Robert Lawrence
Mus: John Williams; Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick
PD: Robert Boyle
Cos: Elizabeth Haffenden & Joan Bridge
Chaim Topol (Tevye), Norma Crane (Golde), Leonard Frey (Motel), Molly Picon (Yente), Paul Mann (Lazar Wolf), Rosalind Harris (Tzeitel), Michele Marsh (Hodel), Neva Small (Chava), Paul Michael Glaser (Perchik)
Fiddler On The Roof is without doubt a musical which will split audiences, you'll genuinely either love it or hate it.
Norman Jewison's three-hour adaptation of the stage musical is practically a homage to the director's ethnic roots. The production values and performances are all good, and some of the musical numbers are quite memorable ("If I Were A Rich Man", etc.), but if you're neither a fan of musicals or religious pictures then this will seem like torture. 
Topol is the standout of the cast as Tevye, a Jewish father whose daughters are about to be married in his small Russian village.
The film was lucky to be released at the right end of the 1970's, since the genre was all but dead less than a decade later.
D: Phil Alden Robinson
Universal/Carolco (Lawrence Gordon & Charles Gordon)
🇺🇸 1989
107 mins


W: Phil Alden Robinson [based on the novel 'Shoeless Joe' by W. P. Kinsella]
DP: John Lindley
Ed: Ian Crafford
Mus: James Horner
PD: Dennis Gassner

Kevin Costner (Ray Kinsella), Amy Madigan (Amy Kinsella), Gaby Hoffman (Karin Kinsella), Ray Liotta (Shoeless Joe Jackson), Timothy Busfield (Mark), James Earl Jones (Terence Mann), Burt Lancaster (Dr. 'Moonlight' Graham), Frank Whaley (Archie Graham)

Field Of Dreams is a very clever film which works on a number of levels. Through innocent eyes it's merely a spiritual fable about ghosts bringing a prosperous future to a struggling farming family, but through older eyes it's clearer to see that it's a metaphor for bonding between a father and his son. 
Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella keeps hearing cryptic ethereal voices in his cornfield, messages such as "if you build it, he will come", promoting Ray to tear up his crops and build a baseball pitch so spirits of the disgraced Chicago White Sox players of the 1919 World Series can make their atonements.
Even if your baseball knowledge is slim to none, the film's opening montage tells you all you need to know, but even if that doesn't follow, there's no need to fret, this is less a sports fantasy and more so a bittersweet drama about second chances. A wonderful piece of work.

"America likes to watch."
"America likes to watch."
15 MINUTES (18)
D: John Herzfeld
New Line/Industry/New Redemption/Tribeca (Nick Wechsler, Keith Addis, David Blocker & John Herzfeld)
🇺🇸 2000
120 mins
W: John Herzfeld
DP: Jean Yves Escoffier
Ed: Steven Cohen
Mus: Anthony Marinelli & J. Peter Robinson      
Robert DeNiro (Det. Eddie Flemming), Edward Burns (Jordan Warsaw), Kelsey Grammer (Robert Hawkins), Avery Brooks (Det. Leon Jackson), Melina Kanakaredes (Nicolette Karras), Karel Roden (Emil Slovak), Oleg Taktarov (Oleg Razgul), Vera Farmiga (Daphne Handlova), Charlize Theron (Rose Hearn)
This film's title is inspired by the Andy Warhol quote that everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame and plays out like an American thriller version of the Belgian black comedy, Man Bites Dog (qv).
Homicide detective Edward Flemming (DeNiro) & arson investigator Jordan Warsaw (Burns) put their heads together to solve a series of crimes where a pair of Eastern Europeans go on a killing spree, film their exploits and send the tapes in to a local news station. 
While the film isn't afraid to cause a major shock twist halfway through its proceedings, all the satirical value is lost in favour of a standard crime movie which, without its big star name, wouldn't have amounted to more than a TV one-off special. 
Entertaining enough for its duration, but you'll forget everything about it a quarter of an hour later.

D: Luc Besson
Columbia/Gaumont (Patrice Ledoux)
🇫🇷 1997
127 mins

Science Fiction

W: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
DP: Thierry Arbogast
Ed: Sylvie Landra
Mus: Eric Serra
PD: Dan Weil
Cos: Jean-Paul Gaultier

Bruce Willis (Korben Dallas), Gary Oldman (Zorg), Milla Jovovich (Leeloo), Ian Holm (Cornelius), Chris Tucker (Ruby Rhod), Luke Perry (Billy), Brion James (General Munro), Lee Evans (Fog), Tiny Lister (President Lindberg)

Visually and conceptually inventive but altogether a bit of a mess. The film did however find huge box office success and has since developed a cult following.
Set in the 23rd century, a taxi driver, a monk and a supreme being must fight off the forces of evil (headed by an overacting Gary Oldman) and save the planet.
While all the stunning visual effects, costumes and set designs can be marvelled at, the narrative really is a gigantic mess and all the characters are far too eccentric, including a totally irksome performance from Chris Tucker as a campy new-age DJ which the film definitely could have got by without.

"It takes a pair to beat the odds."
"It takes a pair to beat the odds."
50/50 (15)
D: Jonathan Levine
Summit/Mandate/Point Grey (Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen & Ben Karlin)
🇺🇸 2011
100 mins
W: Will Reiser
DP: Terry Stacey
Ed: Zene Baker
Mus: Michael Giacchino 
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Adam Lerner), Seth Rogen (Kyle Hirons), Anna Kendrick (Katherine McKay), Bryce Dallas Howard (Rachael), Anjelica Huston (Diane Lerner)
A thirtysomething male is diagnosed with cancer and copes with his grief by getting high with his stoner buddy and picking up girls by using his affliction to win them over.                 
Probably the most unlikely subject matter to form the basis for a comedy, and while the plot may sound in incredibly bad taste this is actually done very well and full credit has to go to the screenwriter for creating a script filled with forthright characters and witty, realistic dialogue without having to resort to manipulative tactics to tug at the heart strings. All the cast turn in good performances and the chemistry in the romance between Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Anna Kendrick and the bromance with Seth Rogen make this a treat of a watch.
D: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Universal/Focus Features (Michael de Luca, Dana Brunetti & E. L. James)
🇺🇸 2015
125 mins


W: Kelly Marcel [based on the insipid trash masquerading as a novel by E.L. James]
DP: Seamus McGarvey
Ed: Anne V. Coates, Lisa Gunning & Debra Neil-Fisher
Mus: Danny Elfman

Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele), Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey), Jennifer Ehle (Carla Wilks), Marcia Gay Harden (Dr. Grace Trevelyan-Gray)

A sado-masochistic relationship develops between two unrealistic characters following the most unprofessional interview in business history, which merely consists of literature virgin Anastasia 'Ana' Steele talking to manchild Christian Grey about nothing of consequence.
I've always considered this material to be romanticisation of an abusive relationship and my opinion has not changed. This is glorified rape, plain and simple. Just because he wears a well-tailored suit, has regular manicures and has excelled at whatever his business is does not change this fact. The sex scenes aren't sexy, they're just a big shot taking advantage of a vulnerable, naïve person. 
Honestly, replace Jamie Dornan with Pruitt Taylor Vince and this is creepy as fuck, even if he does follow the time-honoured romantic tradition of keeping a drunken chick's puke out of her hair. Classy. 
I can't comment on how the portrayal of characters was handled in the books, I've not read them, but in this film Christian Gray is shown as a rich arsehole who thinks he can treat women however badly he wants and still expect to be called 'Sir'. There isn't much romance in that.
The books may have been the product of a successful marketing campaign, but this film is just glossy Hollywood bullshit for people who think they're too classy for pornography.


D: James Foley

Universal/Perfect World/Trigger Street (Michael DeLuca, E.L. James, Dana Brunetti & Marcus Viscidi)

🇺🇸 2017

118 mins


W: Niall Leonard [based on the insipid trash masquerading as a novel by E.L. James]

DP: John Schwartzman

Ed: Richard Francis-Bruce

Mus: Danny Elfman

Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele), Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey), Eric Johnson (Jack Hyde), Eloise Mumford (Kate Kavanagh), Bella Heathcote (Leila Williams), Rita Ora (Mia Grey), Kim Basinger (Elena Lincoln)

A sequel to Fifty Shades Of Grey, because "No means Yes" if you're rich and "handsome". Also, E.L. James churned out three of these fucking books and the first movie made a shitload of money for some reason I honestly cannot fathom.

The story sees billionaire rapist cram his way back into wet lettuce Anastasia Steele's life because he wants to "renegotiate terms", so he can whip and fuck her at weekends a little bit more. Of course, the best way to do this is to stalk her, buy the company she works for and practically prostitute her for his own titillation. What a gentleman.

Kim Basinger also turns up (caked in clownish makeup) as one of Grey's former lovers and she's less than impressed that she isn't the one being fuck-whipped at weekends & treated like a piece of property. Anastasia also has to deal with a rapey boss, but she's not into him because he's not billionaire-rich.

Honestly, these stories are just trash, and although they may provide a little bit of kink for middle aged women with a questionable sex life, as movies they're just insanely dull, poorly acted, insipid bullshit with a terrible message that romance and sexual relationships are just a rich man's plaything.


"Mischief. Mayhem. Soap."
"Mischief. Mayhem. Soap."
D: David Fincher
20th Century Fox/Fox 2000/Regency (Art Linson, Céan Chaffin & Ross Grayson Bell)
🇺🇸 1999
139 mins


W: Jim Uhls [based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk]
DP: Jeff Cronenweth
Ed: James Haygood
Mus: The Dust Brothers
PD: Alex McDowell

Edward Norton (Narrator), Brad Pitt (Tyler Durden), Helena Bonham-Carter (Marla Singer), Meatloaf (Robert Paulson), Jared Leto (Angel Face)

The first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. 
The second rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club.
If you've not seen Fight Club, it's best to refer to the first and second rules, since the less you know about the film, the more you're bound to enjoy it.
Edward Norton plays a yuppie businessman suffering from severe insomnia and fed up with his materialistic, corporate existence and consumer lifestyle. He attempts to tackle his anxiety by joining a series of self-help groups, but then forms his own when he meets a mysterious, enigmatic personality (Tyler Durden) while on a business trip and an underground boxing club is formed and soon develops into a vigilante army who plan to cripple American economics with anarchistic activities.
Based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel, the story is an acerbic attack on metrosexuality, 21st century capitalism and focuses on the Jekyll and Hyde characteristics of the male psyche.
It won't be a film appreciated by everyone, but those who do enjoy it would list it amongst the very best films of the 1990's.

D: David O. Russell
Paramount/Relativity Media/Mandeville (David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Ryan Kavanaugh, Mark Wahlberg, Dorothy Aufiero & Paul Tamasy)
🇺🇸 2010
115 mins


W: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
DP: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Ed: Pamela Martin
Mus: Michael Brooks

Mark Wahlberg (Micky Ward), Christian Bale (Dicky Edlund), Amy Adams (Charlene Fleming), Melissa Leo (Alice Ward), Jack McGee (George Ward)

Mark Wahlberg turns in the best performance of his career in this excellent biopic studying the relationship of an up-and-coming boxer Micky Ward and his family. Unfortunately for Wahlberg, his performance is overshadowed by Christian Bale who deservedly won an oscar for his portrayal of the crack-addicted trainer brother. Amy Adams & Melissa Leo are also excellent as Wahlberg's girlfriend & overpowering mother, respectively.
It's not quite Raging Bull, but it's right up there with the best of its genre.

"Jimmy's finally got a new life. The trouble is it's somebody else's."
"Jimmy's finally got a new life. The trouble is it's somebody else's."


D: Arthur Hiller
Warner/Hollywood/Silver Screen Partners IV (Geoffrey Taylor)
🇺🇸 1990
108 mins


W: Jill Mazursky & Jeffrey Abrams
DP: David M. Walsh
Ed: William Reynolds
Mus: Stewart Copeland

James Belushi (Jimmy Dworski), Charles Grodin (Spencer Barnes), Mako (Mr. Sakamoto), Hector Elizondo (The Warden)

An escaped convict assumes the identity of an advertising executive after finding his Filofax, living the high life whilst the executive finds that his luck goes the other way.
Trading Places style comedy which doesn't do much besides it's central idea. Reasonably entertaining, but it could have been better.

D: Don Taylor
United Artists (Peter Vincent Douglas)
🇺🇸 1980
105 mins
Science Fiction
W: David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter & Peter Powell
DP: Victor J. Kemper
Mus: John Scott
Kirk Douglas (Capt. Matthew Yelland), Martin Sheen (Warren Lasky), Katharine Ross (Laurel Scott), James Farentino (Cmdr. Richard Owens), Ron O'Neal (Cmdr. Dan Thurman), Charles Durning (Senator Samuel Chapman)
Twilight Zone style science fiction which sees a modern day aircraft carrier on a routine Navy exercise is transported back in time to December 1941, just hours before the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
While the idea shows promise, the film unfortunately doesn't deliver on such a great premise. The direction lacks any real impetus or energy and makes the whole thing feel like a pilot for a TV show.
D: James Wong
New Line (Warren Zide, Craig Perry & Glen Morgan)
🇺🇸 2000
97 mins


W: Glen Morgan, James Wong & Jeffrey Reddick
DP: Robert McLachlan
Ed: James Coblenz
Mus: Shirley Walker

Devon Sawa (Alex Browning), Ali Larter (Clear Rivers), Kerr Smith (Carter Horton), Kristen Cloke (Valerie Lewton), Seann William Scott (Billy Hitchcock), Amanda Detmer (Terry Chaney), Tony Todd (William Bludworth)

Teen-orientated horror film which sees a high school student who foretells a plane crash shortly before departure. He and a handful of his student buddies manage to disembark before takeoff, watching in horror as the chilling prediction comes true.     
They may have got one over on the grim reaper on this occasion, but death waits for no man, and the group of survivors find themselves haunted by strange events and fatal accidents.
The acting and screenplay may be incredibly cheesy and the general premise is ridiculously far-fetched, but it's little matter, since the death scenes are quite inventive and realised quite well with some grizzly, macabre visual effects. 
Silly, but fun, and having the principal characters share a surname with a legend of the horror genre makes for quite a fitting homage.

D: David R. Ellis
New Line (Warren Zide & Craig Perry)
🇺🇸 2003
90 mins


W: J. Mackye Gruber & Eric Bress
DP: Gary Capo
Ed: Eric Sears
Mus: Shirley Walker

Ali Larter (Clear Rivers), A.J. Cook (Kimberley Corman), Michael Landes (Thomas Burke), T.C. Carson (Eugene Dix), Jonathan Cherry (Rory Peters)     

Cash-in sequel which follows practically the same formula but substitutes a plane crash for a pileup on the motorway. One of the survivors from the first film is promoted to an "expert" in this and swans around like cock of the walk while all the other characters are walking dead.
The death scenes are just as inventive as the first film but the story is complete codswallop. Two more sequels followed, both far inferior to this. Alas, as long as there's an audience there'll always be a Hollywood studio to exploit it.

D: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Columbia Tristar (Hironobu Sakaguchi, Jun Aida & Chris Lee)
🇯🇵 🇺🇸 2001
106 mins
W: Al Reinert & Jeff Vintar
Mus: Elliott Goldenthal
Voices of: Ming Na (Aki Ross), Alec Baldwin (Capt. Gray Edwards), Ving Rhames (Sgt. Ryan Whittaker), Steve Buscemi (Neil), Peri Gilpin (Jane Proudfoot), Donald Sutherland (Highwind), James Woods (Gen. Hein)
Based on a video game, a female scientist searches for the spirits which will rid the world of phantoms, powerful aliens who have taken over the planet.
While the animation is fantastic, creating human characters so lifelike, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that this is an animation at all. The story however, isn't so convincing, and would most appeal to fans of the computer game only.

D: Andrew Stanton 
Disney/Pixar (Graham Walters)
🇺🇸 2003
100 mins
W: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson & David Reynolds
Mus: Thomas Newman
voices of: Albert Brooks (Marlin), Ellen DeGeneres (Dory), Alexander Gould (Nemo), Willem Dafoe (Gill), Allison Janney (Peach), Austin Pendleton (Gurgle), Geoffrey Rush (Nigel)
Finding Nemo was the fifth animated film to be produced by Pixar and is still amongst their best works.
The story begins with Nemo, a young Clownfish, separated from his father in the South Pacific Ocean after being caught in a net and ends up in a fishtank in a dentist's surgery, awaiting adoption from a spoilt niece.
Meanwhile, Nemo's father and his absent-minded companion scour the Ocean in a quest to be reunited with him. 
Finding Nemo perfectly balances comedy with animation genius and features a memorable and hilarious vocal performance from Ellen DeGeneres as the forgetful Dory. Definitely worth "catching".
"An unforgettable journey she probably won't remember."
"An unforgettable journey she probably won't remember."
D: Andrew Stanton
Disney/Pixar (Lindsey Collins)
🇺🇸 2016
97 mins


W: Andrew Stanton & Victoria Strouse [based on characters created by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson & David Reynolds]
Mus: Thomas Newman

Ellen DeGeneres (Dory), Albert Brooks (Marlin), Hayden Rolence (Nemo), Ed O'Neill (Hank), Diane Keaton (Jenny), Eugene Levy (Charlie)

This long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo picks up where the original film left off, and the story doesn't change much. 
Forgetful fish Dory remembers that she was trying to find her parents before becoming friends with Marlin and Nemo, and continues with her adventure finding them, leaving Marlin and Nemo with the task of finding her.
The original film left big shoes to fill, and it's unfortunate that Finding Dory doesn't come anywhere close to filling them.
The adventure, comedy and thrills are lacking, and though this won't matter to much to juvenile audiences, older viewers with fond memories of the original film will be left a little disappointed.

"Unlock your imagination."
"Unlock your imagination."
D: Marc Forster
Miramax/Filmcolony (Richard N. Gladstein & Nellie Bellflower)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2004
106 mins


W: David Magee [based on the book "The Man Who Was Peter Pan" by Allan Knee]
DP: Roberto Schaefer
Ed: Matt Chesse
Mus: Jan A. P. Kaczmarek
PD: Gemma Jackson
Cos: Alexander Byrne

Johnny Depp (James Matthew Barrie), Kate Winslet (Sylvia Llewelyn Davies), Julie Christie (Mrs Emma du Maurier), Radha Mitchell (Mary Ansell Barrie), Dustin Hoffman (Claude Frohman), Kelly MacDonald (Peter Pan), Ian Hart (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Freddie Highmore (Peter Llewelyn Davies)

A sweet-natured biographical drama with Johnny Depp in fine form as Sir J. M. Barrie, the playwright who is perhaps best known for writing the story of Peter Pan. The film follows Barrie's relationship with a young woman and her children and their inspiration to creating his iconic characters from his famous story.
While factual legitimacy may have been adapted in favour of a more dramatic story, it cannot be denied that Finding Neverland has it's heart in the right place. Faithful production design, costume designs and a poignant musical score also add to the enjoyment of the film, which is a perfect watch for a rainy Sunday afternoon, although it may ruin the magic of Peter Pan for those who still believe in fairies and pixie dust.

D: Robert Lieberman
Paramount (Joe Wizan & Todd Black)
🇺🇸 1993
109 mins
Science Fiction
W: Tracy Tormé [based on the book "The Walton Experience" by Travis Walton]
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Steve Mirkovich 
Mus: Mark Isham
D.B. Sweeney (Travis Walton), Robert Patrick (Mike Rogers), Craig Sheffer (Allan Dallis), Peter Berg (David Whitlock), Henry Thomas (Gregg Hayes), James Garner (Lt. Frank Watters)
Based on a book which is itself supposedly based on a factual account of an abduction by aliens. 
The quality of the film is barely any better than a TV movie of the week without anything to really make it stand out and claims to be based on truth is incredibly far fetched. For those who'd believe it's story, it has quite a tale to tell, but would've probably reached a bigger audience if it were done as an episode of TV show The X-Files.
D: Clint Eastwood
Warner Bros./Malpaso (Clint Eastwood)
🇺🇸 1982
136 mins


W: Alex Lasker & Wendell Willman [based on the novel by Craig Thomas]
DP: Bruce Surtees
Ed: Ferris Webster & Ron Sprang
Mus: Maurice Jarre

Clint Eastwood (Maj. Mitchell Gant), Freddie Jones (Kenneth Aubrey), David Huffman (Buckholz), Warren Clarke (Pavel Upenskoy)

A curious choice for Clint Eastwood to take on, both as a director and star, failing to impress as neither. He plays the lead in this spy thriller as an ex-Vietnam pilot who must sneak into Russian enemy lines to steal a supersonic jet which is flown using the pilot's thoughts.
As an action-adventure film, it doesn't have much action or adventure and as a thriller it's far too light on the thrills, focusing more on Eastwood's characters fractured psyche and haunting flashbacks, the modelwork and special effects are also quite poor having waited half the film for the titular jet to finally appear (and the fact that over 90% of the film's entire budget went to financing the visual effects).

D: Sydney Pollack
Paramount/Mirage (Sydney Pollack, Scott Rudin, John Davis & Michael Hausman)
🇺🇸 1993
153 mins


W: David Rabe, Robert Towne & David Rayfiel [based on the novel by John Grisham]
DP: John Seale
Ed: William Steinkamp & Fredric Steinkamp     
Mus: Dave Grusin

Tom Cruise (Mitch McDeere), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Abby McDeere), Gene Hackman (Avery Tolar), Hal Holbrook (Oliver Lambert), Terry Kinney (Lamar Quinn), Wilford Brimley (William Devasher), Ed Harris (Wayne Tarrance), Holly Hunter (Tammy Hemphill), David Strathairn (Ray McDeere), Gary Busey (Eddie Lomax)

One of the better big screen adaptations of one of John Grisham's novel stars Tom Cruise as an up-and-coming lawyer who is promoted into a big law firm and finds himself trapped between being an informant for the FBI and being a target for the mafia who control his company.
For the most part, this is a very effective thriller, helped by a brilliant ensemble cast with some fantastic supporting performances, notably Holly Hunter as a floozy secretary. The only disappointment comes with the Hollywood ending, rewritten to divert from the more realistic toughness of Grisham's original book.

"This time he's fighting for his life."
"This time he's fighting for his life."
D: Ted Kotcheff
Carolco (Buzz Feitshans)
🇺🇸 1982
94 mins
W: Michael Kozell, William Sackheim & Sylvester Stallone [based on the novel by David Morell]
DP: Andrew Laszlo
Ed: Joan E. Chapman
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith 
Sylvester Stallone (John Rambo), Brian Dennehy (Sheriff Will Teasle), Richard Crenna (Col. Sam Trautman), David Caruso (Mitch)
Based on a provocative, tough and savage novel by David Morell which studies the complexities of post traumatic stress disorder, this becomes nothing more than a popcorn movie in the hands of actor/co-writer Sylvester Stallone & director Ted Kotcheff. This doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad film, it's still reasonably thrilling and very entertaining.
Stallone plays a drifter who visits a small town to look up a war buddy, but finds himself arrested simply for minding his own business. Police brutality snaps him and he escapes custody to wage a one-man war on the sheriff and his men.
Though the film only shaves the periphery of the subject it's really dealing with, Stallone gives one of his better screen performances as a man who has reached his breaking point, although any power that his performance could convey is obliterated by the cheesy cameo of Richard Crenna as his old General, whose performance is nothing short of laughable. Two cash-grab sequels followed, as well as an attempted reboot of the franchise in 2008, but all these films did was weaken the point of the original film.
"Never have so few taken so much from so many."
"Never have so few taken so much from so many."


D: Michael Crichton
United Artists/Starling (John Foreman) 
🇬🇧 1978
108 mins


W: Michael Crichton [based on his novel]
DP: Geoffrey Unsworth
Ed: David Bretherton
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: Maurice Carter

Sean Connery (Edward Pierce), Donald Sutherland (Agar), Lesley-Anne Down (Miriam), Alan Webb (Trent), Robert Lang (Sharp), Malcolm Terris (Henry Fowler)

Though inspired by true events, this film, from writer-director Michael Crichton (from his novel), is complete fiction.
Connery plays a dapper Victorian gent, who masterminds a plan to rob a train carrying gold to those fighting in the Crimean War. The initial plot involves him and pickpocket locksmith Donald Sutherland locating and cloning four keys which open the on-board safe.
Overall, this historical crime caper is good fun, but would have been a much better film had it been played straight, rather than relying on slapstick and farce for comic effect in some scenes.
Geoffrey Unsworth's cinematography is absolutely impeccable.
The film is better known in some countries simply as "The Great Train Robbery".

D: Jerry Zucker
Columbia (Jerry Zucker & Hunt Lowry)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 1995
134 mins


W: William Nicholson
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Walter Murch
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: John Box

Sean Connery (King Arthur), Richard Gere (Lancelot), Julia Ormond (Guinevere), Ben Cross (Prince Malagant), Liam Cunningham (Sir Agravaine), John Gielgud (Oswald)

Cheesy, Hollywoodised retake on Arthurian Legend which does away with Merlin, the quest for the Holy Grail and the Lady of the Lake in favour of a love triangle plot concerning King Arthur, Guinevere and Sir Lancelot.
Connery delivers a modest but decent portrayal of the fabled king (albeit with a Scottish accent), while Julia Ormond isn't given much to do except appear doe-eyed and drink dripping water from a leaf, both performances are Oscar-worthy in comparison to Richard Gere's "hey, look at me, I'm cool" turn as Lancelot, which might have got away with the cheesy lines of dialogue if it wasn't for Gere's ridiculous non-English accent.

"One Giant Leap Into The Unknown."
"One Giant Leap Into The Unknown."


D: Damien Chazelle

Universal/Dreamworks/Temple Hill/Perfect World (Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner & Damien Chazelle)

🇺🇸 2018

141 mins


W: Josh Singer [based on the book "First Man: The Life Of Neil A. Armstrong" by James R. Hansen]

DP: Linus Sandgren

Ed: Tom Cross

Mus: Justin Hurwitz

PD: Nathan Crowley

Ryan Gosling (Neil Armstrong), Claire Foy (Janet Armstrong), Corey Stoll (Buzz Aldrin), Pablo Schreiber (Jim Lovell), Jason Clarke (Ed White), Kyle Chandler (Deke Slayton)

First Man is a biopic of Neil Armstrong, though it doesn't take the conventional approach in showcasing his life & achievements. It's fair to say that if you're expecting a cross between Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff, this subverts expectations by presenting a story which is a little bit closer to The Tree Of Life.

The film begins shortly before the death of Armstrong's infant daughter, following which he switches his career focus from test pilot to the NASA space programme, dedicated to both the Gemini and Apollo programmes which aimed to see American astronauts beat Russian cosmonauts in the mission to land on the moon. 

Ryan Gosling gives a low-key, emotionally void performance as Armstrong, who was reported to be a very pensive, introverted man who wouldn't allow his emotions to interfere with his work. Claire Foy also gives a solid performance as Janet, Armstrong's first wife and much of the narrative's conflict is with the relationship between the two of them, culminating in a rather powerful scene in which she demands he explains to his sons that there may be a chance he may not survive the mission ahead.

Chazelle's direction is the real star here though, using dizzying cinematography as a tool to disorientate as well as incredible visual effects and sound design to allow the viewer to both feel and fear the perils of space travel. The design of the film is also done with the highest degree of accuracy, focusing on rusty nuts and bolts of the spacecraft rather than sleek fuselage which we've grown accustomed to as the science fiction genre has developed (n.b. This film is not science fiction), as well as utilising realism for the depictions of the missions, such as silence in space and a convincingly accurate vista of the moon's surface at the film's climax.

From a technical aspect, First Man is first class, but it's the narrative which is second rate, suffering from a slow build up and leaving many unanswered questions. It may take one giant leap for filmmaking, but for entertainment value, it doesn't quite reach the heights of the outer stratosphere.


"A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge and seafood."
"A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge and seafood."
D: Charles Crichton
MGM (Michael Shamberg)
🇬🇧 1988
108 mins


W: John Cleese & Charles Crichton
DP: Alan Hume
Ed: John Jympson
Mus: John DuPrez

John Cleese (Archie Leach), Jamie Lee Curtis (Wanda Curtis), Kevin Kline (Otto), Michael Palin (Ken), Maria Aitken (Wendy Leach), Tom Georgeson (George)

A Fish Called Wanda twins the dry wit of an Ealing Comedy with the uproariously ridiculous style of Monty Python for a brilliantly hilarious crime caper with great performances and very funny gags.
Four thieves perform a diamond heist but when the gang leader, George, is double-crossed, the loot goes missing. Sexpot of the operation, Wanda Gershwitz (Curtis) attempts to seduce George's stuffy solicitor (Cleese) in order to ascertain where the diamonds have been hidden.
Meanwhile, a personal feud develops between stuttering animal-lover Ken (Palin), who is asked to assassinate the only witness to the robbery, and Kevin Kline's psychopathic, xenophobic hitman Otto, whose obsession with Nietzsche makes him think he's an intellectual, when he's in fact incredibly stupid.
All the cast are brilliant, but it's Palin & Kline who standout, given the funniest scenes to work with. The humour won't suit everyone, but Python fans certainly won't be disappointed.

"A modern day tale about the search for love, sanity, Ethel Merman and the Holy Grail."
"A modern day tale about the search for love, sanity, Ethel Merman and the Holy Grail."
D: Terry Gilliam
Columbia Tristar (Debra Hill & Linda Obst) 
🇺🇸 1991
137 mins


W: Richard LaGravenese
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Lesley Walker
Mus: George Fenton
PD: Mel Bourne
Cos: Beatrix Aruna Pasztor

Robin Williams (Parry), Jeff Bridges (Jack Lucas), Mercedes Ruehl (Anne Napolitano), Amanda Plummer (Lydia), Michael Jeter (Homeless Cabaret Singer)

Terry Gilliam was the perfect choice to direct this offbeat urban fantasy about a homeless man's quest for the Holy Grail.
Following a tragedy which he feels responsible for, former DJ Jack Lucas is on seeking his own salvation and strikes an unlikely friendship with an eccentric vagrant, Parry, who himself is seeking the fabled treasure.
Mercedes Ruehl & Amanda Plummer are in support as the men's respective love interests and all four give brilliant performances which lend credibility to an otherwise vividly nightmarish fairytale.
It's a film you simply have to experience, and you'll either understand it or you won't, but you can't deny it has an enchanting power as a modern spin on fairytales.

D: Sergio Leone
United Artists/Jolly (Arrigo Colombo & Giorgio Papi)      
🇮🇹 🇪🇸 🇩🇪 1964
100 mins
W: Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari, Victor A. Catena & G. Schlock [based on the screenplay "Yojimbo" by Ryuzô Kikushima & Akira Kurosawa]
DP: Massimo Dallamano
Ed: Roberto Cinquini
Mus: Ennio Morricone
Clint Eastwood (The Man With No Name), Marianne Koch (Marisol), Gian Maria Volonte (Ramon Rojo), Jose Calvo (Silvanito)
A landmark Western and first of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Trilogy, it also follows The Magnificent Seven as an excellent example of a plot from a Kurosawa samurai movie crossing over into the western genre, this time with 1961's Yojimbo.
Clint Eastwood is The Man With No Name, a drifter who rides into a small Mexican town where two rival gangs are embroiled in a power struggle. Eastwood makes himself a mercenary for hire, first to the Mexican family, The Rojo's, who control the town's liquor, but then switches to the other side, The Baxter's, who control the town's firearms.
Eastwood is superb as the mystery man with little to no honour or morality, a man who can speak entire sentences without having any dialogue through his facial expressions alone.
Though A Fistful Of Dollars is nowhere near as good as The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, it does make a great first installment to a classic trilogy of films.
It's also worth catching the original Japanese film, Yojimbo (qv).
D: Bob Rafelson
Columbia/BBS (Bob Rafelson & Richard Wechsler)
🇺🇸 1970
96 mins
W: Adrien Joyce & Bob Rafelson
DP: Laszlo Kovacs
Ed: Gerald Shepard & Christopher Holmes
Jack Nicholson (Robert Eroica Dupea), Karen Black (Rayette Dipesto), Billy Green Bush (Elton), Fannie Flagg (Stoney), Sally Struthers (Betty), Marlena MacGuire (Twinky)
Jack Nicholson's follow up performance to his scene stealing turn in Easy Rider sees him play an aimless redneck who jilts both his pregnant mistress  and his brother's fiancée to hitchhike to nowhere in particular.
The final product is less a story of any real narrative coherence but merely a collection of incedents and character studies, featuring a few scenes which must be categorised as classic movie moments, particularly the infamous diner scene.
Jack Nicholson is fantastic, although it could be argued that Karen Black's performance steals the movie from under his nose.
"This is not a love story. This is a story about love."
"This is not a love story. This is a story about love."
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER (12)
D: Marc Webb
Fox Searchlight/Watermark (Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, Mason Novick & Steven J. Wolfe)
🇺🇸 2009
91 mins
W: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
DP: Eric Steelberg
Ed: Alan Edward Bell
Mus: Mychael Danna & Rob Simonsen
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tom Hansen), Zooey Deschanel (Summer), Chloë Grace Moretz (Rachel), Matthew Gray Gubler (Paul), Geoffrey Arend (McKenzie)
Not a love story, but still very much a story about love, this ingenious spin on romantic comedies features a non-linear narrative charting a seamingly random series of events during a 500 day relationship between a principled greetings card artist and a frivilous receptionist.
While some of the scenes feature a rather misogynistic view of the battle of the sexes, Zooey Deschanel brings realism to a character who might seem overly ditzy or infuriating to others. Very well conceived, reasonably realistic with the addition of a great soundtrack. What's not to like?
D: Clint Eastwood
Warner/Dreamworks/Amblin/Malpaso (Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz & Steven Spielberg)
🇺🇸 2006
131 mins


W: William Broyles, Jr. & Paul Haggis [based on the book by James Bradley & Ron Powers]
DP: Tom Stern
Ed: Joel Cox
Mus: Clint Eastwood

Ryan Philippe (John Bradley), Jesse Bradford (Cpl. Rene Gagnon), Adam Beach (Cpl. Ira Hayes), Barry Pepper (Sgt. Michael Strank), Jamie Bell (Pvt. Ralph Ignatowski), Paul Walker (Sgt. Hank Hansen), Robert Patrick (Col. Johnson)

The first of a double bill of films directed by Clint Eastwood about one of the significant turning points of World War II.
Though this film is geared towards American patriotism and does drag with lots of talk, it's worth watching to fully experience the double bill, although the second part, Letters From Iwo Jima (qv), telling the same story from the Japanese perspective, was much better.

D: Michael Hodges
EMI/Famous/Starling (Dino de Laurentiis)
🇬🇧 🇳🇱 🇺🇸 1980
115 mins
Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure
W: Lorenzo Semple, Jr. [based on characters created by Alex Raymond]
DP: Gilbert Taylor
Ed: Malcolm Cooke
Mus: Queen 
PD: Danilo Donati
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon), Melody Anderson (Dale Arden), Topol (Dr. Hans Zarkov), Max Von Sydow (Emperor Ming the Merciless), Timothy Dalton (Prince Barin), Brian Blessed (Prince Vultan)
Cheese and Queen. What more could you want?
If this film took itself seriously, it would be absolutely awful. The acting is absolutely atrocious, the visual effects, set designs and costumes have dated incredibly badly since 1980 and the soundtrack can only be described as Freddie Mercury's wet dream, but it's absolutely impossible to take this film seriously.
It's good clean, science fiction matinee stuff with a cheeky tongue-in-cheek style. Clearly produced to cash-in on the success of Star Wars and the rise of other films in the same genre around the same period.
It has to be deemed as a classic, although not necessarily for all the right reasons.
D: Adrian Lyne
Paramount (Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer)
🇺🇸 1983
98 mins
W: Joe Eszterhas & Tom Hedley
DP: Donald Peterman
Ed: Bud Smith & Walt Mulconery
Mus: Giorgio Moroder
Jennifer Beals (Alex Owens), Michael Nouri (Nick Hurley), Lilia Skala (Hanna Long), Sunny Johnson (Jeanie Szabo), Kyle T. Hefner (Richie Plasic), Belinda Bauer (Katie Hurley)
It's easy to get sentimental about films like this. It's hailed as an 80's classic and was a huge success at the time, especially on home video and helped to launch the careers of producers Jerry Bruckheimer & Don Simpson, but the narrative practically plays out like a series of lengthy music videos.
A welder by day, a budding dancer plies her talents at night in a seedy nightclub, but eventually her dreams are realised... But only after she develops a sexual relationship with the boss. 
Enjoyable for it's dance choreography, utilising great photography and slick editing, it's easy to get caught up in the toe-tapping despite the popcorn storyline with a ridiculous central message: sleep with your boss and the world's your oyster.
Jennifer Beals tries to deliver humanity to a rather boring character, but it's an uphill struggle with a screenplay which is so, so bad. The finest qualities the film has is with it's quick-fire editing and brilliant cinematography by Donald Peterman, who performs some technical wizardry in making the choreographed dance scenes even more exciting, as well as masking the body & stunt doubles from the actual performers. It's easy to take things like this for granted, but it has to be said that Peterman's work makes the movie far much more watchable.
The film's success is almost certainly due to being released at the right time, when it could capitalise on the rising popularity of MTV and pop music.
"Some lines shouldn't be crossed."
"Some lines shouldn't be crossed."
D: Joel Schumacher
Columbia Tristar/Stonebridge (Michael Douglas & Rick Bieber)
🇺🇸 1990
114 mins
W: Peter Filardi
DP: Jan de Bont
Ed: Robert Brown
Mus: James Newton Howard
Kiefer Sutherland (Nelson Wright), Julia Roberts (Rachel Manus), Kevin Bacon (Dave Labraccio), William Baldwin (Joe Hurley), Oliver Platt (Randy Steckle)
A great idea, let down by erratic execution and an incredibly poor ending.
A group of medical students experiment to discover if there is, in fact, life after death, by stopping their hearts until they 'flatline' and then being brought back to life, but each of them after being resurrected become haunted by sins they've committed in the past.
The most interesting thing about Flatliners is how each character fights the ghosts from their pasts and try to find some atonement for their misdeeds, which include Kevin Bacon's character's racist bullying of a black girl during his childhood, William Baldwin's videotaping sexual liaisons with a number of women and Kiefer Sutherland's chilling murder of a young boy, which becomes the centrepiece of the chilling stories.
Conceptually, this is a very good film, but Joel Schumacher's rushed direction delivers a lack of any real atmosphere and leaves the film littered with plenty of mistakes.
"You Haven't Lived Until You've Died."
"You Haven't Lived Until You've Died."


D: Niels Arden Oplev

Sony/Columbia/Cross Creek/Further (Laurence Mark, Michael Douglas & Peter Safran)

🇺🇸 2017

110 mins


W: Ben Ripley [based on the screenplay by Peter Filardi]

DP: Eric Kress

Ed: Tom Elkins

Mus: Nathan Barr

Ellen Page (Dr. Courtney Holmes), Diego Luna (Ray), Nina Dobrev (Marlo), James Norton (Jamie), Kiersey Clemons (Dr. Sophia Manning), Kiefer Sutherland (Dr. Barry Wolfson)

A remake of the 1990 film which nobody was clamouring for, but the film executives at Sony don't give a fuck about that so long as they can make a buck or two back from a minimum outlay.

The plot is much the same, a group of medical students experiment with near death experiences and bring demons back from the other side with them, although, following the experiments in this film, they mostly act like young students without a care in the world, because this remake is for the YOLO generation. This is the film's biggest flaw. The characters don't act like medical professionals, they just act like spoilt teenagers who can do whatever the fuck they want without consequence.

The 1990 movie wasn't without its flaws, but it was atmospherically effective and built the tension incredibly well. This remake lacks both, and for the most part, it's mind-numbingly boring. Watch the original instead, do not resuscitate this one.


"Meet the only guy who changes his identity more often than his underwear."
"Meet the only guy who changes his identity more often than his underwear."
D: Michael Ritchie
Universal (Alan Greisman & Peter Douglas)
🇺🇸 1985
96 mins
W: Andrew Bergman [based on the novel by Gregory McDonald]
DP: Fred Schuler
Mus: Harold Faltermeyer
Chevy Chase (Irwin M. Fletcher), Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Gail Stanwyck), Tim Matheson (Alan Stanwyck), Joe Don Baker (Chief Jerry), Richard Libertini (Frank Walker), Geena Davis (Larry)
Chevy Chase plays journalist Irwin M. "Fletch" Fletcher, who goes undercover as a drifter to find out more about a beachfront drug-dealing operation. Whilst undercover, he is approached by a playboy who, claiming he has a terminal illness, hires him for his own murder, so his wife can benefit from an inheritance that a suicide won't cover.
Wrought with suspicion, Fletch does his own digging into the matter, aided by a number of disguises, and discovers a link between his two investigations.
The film is very much tailored for Chase's persona, so the enjoyment factor depends heavily on whether or not you like the actor.  Those who do are treated to his best screen performance, giving comedy value to practically every line the script asks him to deliver with an almost deadpan humour style. 1980's guilty pleasure stuff.

D: Michael Ritchie
Universal (Alan Greisman & Peter Douglas)
🇺🇸 1988
95 mins
W: Leon Capetanos [based on characters created by Gregory McDonald]
DP: John McPherson
Mus: Harold Faltermeyer
Chevy Chase (Irwin Fletcher), Hal Holbrook (Hamilton Johnson), Julianne Phillips (Becky Culpepper), R. Lee Ermey (Jimmy Lee Farmsworth), Randall 'Tex' Cobb (Ben Dover), Cleavon Little (Calculus Entropy)
Average sequel to Fletch, which sees the journalist investigating corruption in the Deep South after he inherits a home there.
The jokes aren't as funny in this follow up to the 1985 comedy, leaving a bare plot of Chevy Chase donning various disguises and doing his usual schtick, but sadly returning no real value for humour.
D: Robert Zemeckis
Paramount (Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey & Robert Zemeckis)
🇺🇸 2012
138 mins


W: John Gatins
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Jeremiah O'Driscoll
Mus: Alan Silvestri

Denzel Washington (Whip Whitaker), Don Cheadle (Hugh Lang), Kelly Reilly (Nicole Maggen), Bruce Greenwood (Charlie Anderson), John Goodman (Harling Mays), Melissa Leo (Ellen Block)

Disguised as a disaster/action movie by it's promotional trailer, Flight is actually a sensitive drama about alcoholism & drug addiction.
Denzel Washington is brilliant as Captain Whip Whitaker, who averts a plane crash using unconventional methods, but then finds his conduct investigated following the aftermath of the heroic landing, which lost 6 lives from it's passengers & crew.
Denzel Washington rarely disappoints and thoroughly deserved his Oscar nomination for best actor & all the supporting performances are excellent, especially Don Cheadle as Whitaker's lawyer, Kelly Reilly as a fellow drug addict & John Goodman, who attempts to steal the show as a manic drug dealer.
Those expecting a plane crash adventure might be disappointed, but I thought this was the best movie that tackled the subject of alcoholism since 1995's Leaving Las Vegas (qv).

D: Randal Kleiser
Buena Vista/Disney (Robby Wald & Dimitri Villard)
🇺🇸 1986
90 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure/Comedy

W: Michael Burton & Matt MacManus [based on a story by Mark H. Baker] 
DP: James Glennon
Ed: Jeff Gourson
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: William J. Creber

Joey Kramer (David Freeman), Veronica Cartwright (Helen Freeman), Cliff DeYoung (Bill Freeman), Sarah Jessica Parker (Carolyn McAdams), Paul Reubens (voice of Max)

A 1980's children's adventure movie which, despite a good premise, has dated incredibly badly due to its execution.
One dark night, a 12-year-old goes searching for his brother in the woods and falls into a ditch, knocking himself out. He awakens and walks home, only to be greeted with his confusing realisation that he has been missing and presumed dead for eight years, yet he hasn't aged a day. The rest of the film can't live up to this promising opening when it sinks into "Disneyfied" territory when it unfolds that he spent these missing years as the commander of a spaceship, journeying the galaxy with a ship whose central computer talks like Pee-Wee Herman.
It's a huge shame that the filmmakers resorted to this comedy gimmick when the rest of the plot had enough to carry the film and make it a modest 80's classic.

D: Robert Aldrich
20th Century Fox (Robert Aldrich)
🇺🇸 1965
149 mins
W: Lukas Heller [based on the novel by Elleston Trevor]
DP: Joseph Biroc
Ed: Michael Luciano
Mus: Frank DeVol
James Stewart (Frank Towns), Richard Attenborough (Lew Moran), Peter Finch (Capt. Harris), Hardy Kruger (Heinrich Dorfmann), Ernest Borgnine (Trucker Cobb), Ian Bannen (Crow), Ronald Fraser (Sgt. Watson), Christian Marquand (Dr. Renaud), Dan Duryea (Standish), George Kennedy (Bellamy)
Rousing, slickly directed, adventure story which sees an all-star cast aboard a cargo plane which crashes in the desert. 
In a race against time and the elements, the survivors rebuild another plane from the wreckage.
Surprisingly, Ian Bannen's performance was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Although his performance is good, one would feel Hardy Kruger must have felt incredibly disappointed to be overlooked as the German architect of the rebuilt plane.
A remake was made in 2004, but was nowhere near as intense as this original film (and featured an incredibly irritating performance in the Hardy Kruger role).
"If they stand together, they stand a chance."
"If they stand together, they stand a chance."
D: John Moore
20th Century Fox (John Davis, William Aldrich, Wyck Godfrey & T. Alex Blum)
🇺🇸 2004
113 mins
W: Scott Frank & Edward Burns [based on the novel by Elleston Trevor]
DP: Brendan Galvin
Ed: Don Zimmerman
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Dennis Quaid (Frank Towns), Tyrese Gibson (A.J.), Giovanni Ribisi (Elliot), Miranda Otto (Kelly Johnson), Tony Curran (Alex Rodney), Hugh Laurie (Ian), Scott Michael Campbell (James Liddle)
Remake of the 1965 James Stewart adventure which sees the survivors of a plane crash in the Sahara desert band together to make another plane from the wreckage.
Not a terrible remake, but doesn't match the original in either style, pace or any other merit.
The only notable differences are the vastness of the Sahara being substituted for the Mongolian Desert and Giovanni Ribisi's totally irritating performance as the character played so excellently by Hardy Kruger in the original.
Watch the 1965 version instead.
D: Robert Schwentke
Touchstone/Imagine (Brian Grazer)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2005
98 mins
W: Peter A. Dowling & Billy Ray
DP: Florian Ballhaus 
Ed: Thom Noble 
Mus: James Horner
Jodie Foster (Kyle Pratt), Peter Sarsgaard (Gene Carson), Sean Bean (Capt. Marcus Rich), Kate Beahan (Stephanie), Erika Christiansen (Fiona)
Flightplan is essentially a modern spin on The Lady Vanishes (qv) which sees Jodie Foster & her screen daughter boarding a flight back to America, but halfway through the journey the child disappears, leaving Foster to frantically search for her, alienating the flight crew as well as the rest of the passengers.
A more believable screenplay could have made something better from the source material, unfortunately there's so many plot twists & red herrings that it borders on ludicrous, especially since it's obvious from very early on in proceedings who the real bad guy is.
Jodie Foster plays her character excellently, but aside from her performance the film has little else to recommend it and is totally forgettable.
D: Brian Levant
Universal/Amblin/Hanna-Barbera (Bruce Cohen)
🇺🇸 1994
93 mins


W: Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewin, Steven E. de Souza & others [bassd on the animated series by Hanna-Barbera]
DP: Dean Cundey
Ed: Kent Beyda
Mus: David Newman
PD: William Sandell
Cos: Rosanna Norton & Monique Brown

John Goodman (Fred Flintstone), Elizabeth Perkins (Wilma Flintstone), Rick Moranis (Barney Rubble), Rosie O'Donnell (Betty Rubble), Kyle MacLachlan (Cliff Vandercave), Halle Berry (Miss Stone), Elizabeth Taylor (Pearl Slaghoople)

Steven 'Spielrock's' production, bringing the prehistoric community and characters of Bedrock from the cartoon world to a live action screen is nothing more than an exercise in Hollywood studio profligacy. While the set design features all the visual gags you'd likely see in an episode of the cartoon series, the script is wafer-thin with any notable jokes or humour, despite having over 30 different screenwriters contributing to the script.
John Goodman does his best with what he's given, and isn't too bad a choice as Fred Flintstone, unfortunately the rest of the ensemble as either grossly miscast or simply dire. A sequel which managed to be even worse was released six years later.

D: John Duigan
Warner Bros./Kennedy-Miller (George Miller, Terry Hayes & Doug Mitchell)
🇦🇺 1990
96 mins
W: John Duigan
DP: Geoff Burton
Ed: Robert Gibson 
Mus: James D'Arcy
Noah Taylor (Danny Embling), Thandie Newton (Thandiwe Adjewa), Nicole Kidman (Nicole Radcliffe)
John Duigan's coming-of-age drama is a follow-up to his previous film The Year My Voice Broke, telling the story of a clandestine romance between a boy at a boarding school and a Ugandan girl at a neighbouring all-girl's school.
Bittersweet and affectionate without being particularly memorable, featuring a pair of good performances from it's two leads.
Nicole Kidman may get top billing, but she's very much a supporting character with on of her very early screen performances.


D: Stephen Frears

Paramount/BBC/Pathé/Qwerty (Michael Kuhn & Tracey Seaward)

🇬🇧 🇫🇷 2016

110 mins


W: Nicholas Martin

DP: Danny Cohen

Ed: Valerio Bonelli

Mus: Alexandre Desplat

PD: Alan MacDonald

Cos: Consolata Boyle

Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Hugh Grant (St. Clair Bayfield), Simon Helberg (Cosmé McMoon), Rebecca Ferguson (Kathleen Weatherley), Nina Arianda (Agnes Stark)

Proof that Meryl Streep can do no wrong, and even when she's lousy, she can nab herself an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

In this biopic, played-for-laughs, she stars as 1940's socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, who spent much of her vast fortune attempting to launch a career as an opera singer, despite a lack of basic talent.

Although Meryl Streep won her 20th Academy Award nomination for her performance, it's Hugh Grant, as her husband and manager, who deserves the plaudits for this one. 

A good film, sure, but nowhere near an Oscar-worthy one.


"Find Your Kingdom."
"Find Your Kingdom."


D: Sean Baker

A24/Cre Film/Freestyle Picture Company/Cinereach/June (Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Francesca Silvestri & Shih-Chung Tsou)

🇺🇸 2017

115 mins


W: Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch

DP: Alexis Zabe

Ed: Sean Baker

Mus: Lorne Balfe

Brooklynn Prince (Moonee), Bria Vinaite (Halley), Willem Dafoe (Bobby Hicks), Valeria Cotto (Jancey), Christopher Rivera (Scooty)

There are some who have compared The Florida Project with 2016's Moonlight, but that may not be a shining endorsement of Sean Baker's urban drama, which features a trio of brilliant performance in its less than glamorous setting.

The title itself is an ironic one, making reference to the original name that the Epcot Center has become, a theme park to mirror Orlando's Disneyworld. 

Set on the outskirts of Disney's magical kingdom, the story takes place at a rundown motel which has been in decline since its 1960's heyday, and has now become residence to many undesirable tenants, two of whom are Halley, an unemployed single mother who makes her rent by selling stolen goods and occasional prostitution, and her 6-year-old daughter Moonee, who is very much the focal point of the film, spending her school summer break on the motel grounds with her friends, getting up to mischief and begging tourists for ice cream money. 

Willem Dafoe also plays a prominent role as the hotel manager, Bobby, trying his best to keep his residents happy as well as keeping the place in business.

The two main actresses, Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince do an excellent job with their film debuts, and an Oscar nomination for the juvenile actress honestly wouldn't come as too big a surprise. Willem Dafoe scoring a third nomination is a certainty - watch this space!

The abrupt ending won't be to everyone's taste, but this still remains one of the best independent films of 2017.


D: Jeffrey Bloom
New World (Sy Lewin & Thomas Fries)
🇺🇸 1987
92 mins
W: Jeffrey Bloom [based on the novel by Virginia Andrews]
DP: Frank Byers & Gil Hubbs
Ed: Gregory F. Plotts
Mus: Christopher Young
PD: John Muto
Louise Fletcher (Olivia Foxworth), Victoria Tennant (Corinne Dollanganger), Kristy Swanson (Cathy Dollanganger), Jeb Stuart Adams (Chris Dollanganger)
Based on a best-selling sensationalist novel, all the horrors from the book have been toned down in favour of soap opera style melodramatics.
Following the death of her husband, perfect mother Victoria Tennant returns to her parents with her four children, who are locked in the attic by their deranged grandmother who refuses to allow their existence to be known to their terminally ill grandfather before his death (he didn't approve of his daughter's marriage and wrote her out of his will as a result).
Months pass, with the children still hidden away and they soon discover that their mother is no better, feeding them poisoned cookies to keep them inert.
The incest storyline from V. C. Andrews original book receives the most dilution, replaced instead with mere innuendo before a finale which is more likely to make you laugh than feel any other emotion.
"Follow him home."
"Follow him home."
D: Carlo Carlei
MGM/Rocket (Paul Maslansky & Lata Ryan)     
🇺🇸 1994
96 mins
W: Carlo Carlei & James Harrington [based on the novel by James Herbert]
DP: Raffaele Mertes
Ed: Mark Conte
Mus: Carlo Siliotto
Matthew Modine (Thomas Johnson), Nancy Travis (Carol Johnson), Eric Stoltz (Jeff Newman), Max Pomeranc (Brian Johnson)
A man who dies in a car crash is reincarnated as a dog who tries to find his way back home to his family.
Though it may be low-key and lack any "star names", it delivers on sentimental, bittersweet drama and really tugs on the heartstrings without feeling mawkish or forced. It may very well make you cry.
"Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!"
"Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!"
THE FLY (18)
D: David Cronenberg
20th Century Fox/Brooksfilms (Stuart Cornfeld)
🇺🇸 1986
100 mins
W: Charles Pogue & David Cronenberg [based on the story by George Langelaan]
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Ronald Sanders
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Carol Spiers
Cos: Denise Cronenberg
Jeff Goldblum (Seth Brundle), Geena Davis (Veronica Quaife), John Getz (Stathis Borans), Joy Boushel (Tawny)
The golden rule of remaking a film is simple, be original whilst still capturing the general essence of the original film. David Cronenberg's version of The Fly doesn't just do that, it provides a perfect example of a remake.
Keeping to the main plot of the story from the B-movie original, Cronenberg adds elements and allegories of addiction and infection to the mad-scientist monster movie.
Though the makeup effects may look like a guy in the rubber mask by today's standards, the performances from Jeff Goldblum & Geena Davis are nothing short of entirely convincing.
Goldblum plays eccentric scientist Seth Brundle, who has stumbled upon a miraculous invention which he plans to "change the world as we know it"- a teleportation device.
On his inaugural test of the machine, he is unknowingly spliced with a common housefly. Initially, he develops superhuman strength and heightened sentence, but then faces the harsh truths that he is becoming less and less human.
The Fly is a genuinely terrifying horror movie with intelligent allegories which lift it well above the schlock which saturated the genre during the early/mid 1980's.
"Like Father, Like Son"
"Like Father, Like Son"
D: Chris Walas
20th Century Fox/Brooksfilms (Steven Charles Jaffe)
🇺🇸 1989
105 mins
W: Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat & Frank Darabont    
DP: Robin Vidgeon
Ed: Sean Barton
Mus: Christopher Young
Eric Stoltz (Martin Brundle), Daphne Zuniga (Beth Logan), Lee Richardson (Anton Bartok), Gary Chalk (Scorby), John Getz (Stathis Borans)
The original cast have little to do with this by-the-numbers, mad scientist sequel, with the directorial reins lifted up by the special effects makeup designer from the original film.
The opening scene features an unconvincing Geena Davis lookalike dying during childbirth. Seth Brundle's half human-half fly son then zips through childhood under the watchful eye of Bartok Industries, who are hopeful that the boy will inherit his father's genius and fix the faults with their own attempts to create a teleportation machine.
The plot throws in a forced romance which just feels wrong, before an unpleasantly squishy finale. Far more violent than the 1986 film, but lacking the allegorical substance which made David Cronenberg's vision much more than 'just a horror movie'.