"Never lose focus"
"Never lose focus"

FOCUS (15)

D: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa

Warner Bros/Ratpac-Dune/Overbrook (Denise DiNovi)

🇺🇸 2015

104 mins


W: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa

DP: Xavier Perez Grobet

Ed: Jan Kovac

Mus: Nick Urata

Will Smith (Nicky Spurgeon), Margot Robbie (Jess Barrett), Rodrigo Santoro (Garriga), Gerald McRaney (Owens), B.D. Wong (Liyuan Tse)

A Thomas Crown Affair for the 21st century, pairing Will Smith and Margot Robbie as glamorous grifters involved in a high stakes hustle.

Amateur con artist Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie) has her wings clipped when seasoned pro Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) spots her hustle from a mile away and gives her some tricks of the trade so she can make some serious bucks. A romance develops between them only for him to cast her aside once her purpose has been fulfilled in a million dollar con.

They cross paths three years later, as they appear to be on rival sides of a scam involving the fortunes of formula one teams.

While this crime caper is reasonable fun, the big hustles do tend to trespass on the wrong side of suspension of disbelief, culminating in an ending which manages to be both convoluted and predictable.

Potential was there for this to be a much better film, but it isn't completely disappointing, it's simply that the romance element never seems to fit and always seems to be an intricate part of the con.


D: Bert I. Gordon
AIP (Bert I. Gordon)
🇺🇸 1976
88 mins
Horror/Science Fiction
W: Bert I. Gordon [based on a story by H. G. Wells]
DP: Reginald Morris
Ed: Corky Ehlers
Mus: Elliot Kaplan
Marjoe Gortner (Morgan), Pamela Franklin (Lorna), Ralph Meeker (Jack), Ida Lupino (Mrs. Skinner), Jon Cypher (Brian), Tom Stovall (Thomas)
Cheap, risible B-movie nonsense based on a mere portion of H. G. Wells' original story.     
Rats feed on a mysterious fluid and grow to gargantuan size before tearing up the town.     
As far as B-movies go, it's got all the right ingredients: a frightful plot, variable acting performances, tacky special effects, etc.  it just isn't a particularly good film.
"It's their party you can die if you want to."
"It's their party you can die if you want to."
D: Damian Lee
Rose & Ruby (David Mitchell & Damian Lee)     
🇨🇦 1989
91 mins
Horror/Science Fiction
W: Richard Bennett & E. Kim Brewster 
DP: Curtis Petersen
Ed: David Mitchell
Mus: Dennis Haines & Stephen W. Parsons
Paul Coufos (Dr. Neil Hamilton), Lisa Schrage (Alex Reed), Colin Fox (Prof. Edmund Delhurst), Real Andrews (Mark Hales), Jackie Burroughs (Dr. Kate Travis)
Loose sequel to the 1976 film with even less to do with H. G. Wells' original prose.
This time, giant rats cause havoc on a university campus. Despite being 13 years younger than the first film, the special effects look even worse and the performances are below even the basic standard of a low-budget movie. Shockingly bad, even for a bad movie.

"When good food... Goes bad!"
"When good food... Goes bad!"
D: Lawrence Kasanoff
Viva/C47/Lions Gate Family Entertainment (George Johnsen, Lawrence Kasanoff & Joshua Wexler)
🇺🇸 2012
87 mins


W: Sean Catherine Derek, Lawrence Kasanoff, Brent Friedman & Rebecca Swanson
Mus: Walter Murphy

voices of: Charlie Sheen (Dex Dogtective), Wayne Brady (Daredevil Dan), Hilary Duff (Sunshine Goodness), Eva Longoria (Lady X), Larry Miller (Vlad Chocool), Christopher Lloyd (Mr. Clipboard)

It's fair to say that Foodfight is a victim of circumstance. This computer-animated feature hit a major snag when it was a victim of theft, leaving only animation that was unfinished and unrendered at a cost of $65 million.
The producers cut their losses and released the incomplete version of the film to claim back a very mere percentage of their stake due to the film being a huge flop at cinemas.
Set in a supermarket where the characters of food products come to life after lights-out, a doggy detective investigates a missing girl who was the cover of a discontinued raisin brand and discovers it to be the work of Brand X, a big conglomerate which is set to wipe out all the smaller, independent labels.
Though the animation looks like something out of a bad computer game from the early 1990's, at least that can be forgiven. The failings here are due to a terrible story which isn't at all original, dialogue which isn't aimed towards children and a moral against commercialism which is completely negated by the incessant product placement.
Even if the film had been released in its completed form, it wouldn't have been very good, but in its rudimentary format, it's downright terrible.

"Welcome to England's worst nightmare."
"Welcome to England's worst nightmare."
D: Nick Love
Momentum/Vertigo/Rockstar (Allan Niblo & James Richardson)
🇬🇧 2004
91 mins


W: Nick Love [based on the novel by John King]
DP: Damian Bromley
Ed: Stuart Gazzard
Mus: Ivor Guest

Danny Dyer (Tommy), Frank Harper (Billy), Tamer Hassan (Millwall Fred), Roland Manookian (Zeberdee), Neil Maskell (Rod)

Danny Dire (sic) plays a rogue cockney geezer who wiles away his time snorting Charlie, chugging a pint o'Nelson Mandela, shagging tarts and smashing the granny out of some faaaaacking mug on Saturday afternoons after watching his football team do their business.
Nick Love's nihilistic movie carries on the legacy left by Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (qv) and sensationalises & glamourises football violence without saying anything particularly profound about the practice.
The movie is fit for parody, and has been several times, but for some reason a lot of people enjoyed it. I can't even class this as a sports movie, since it has fuck all to do with football.
A TV documentary called "The Real Football Factory" followed, where Danny Dyer would investigate real-life hooliganism, but this mostly consisted of him wearing tight jackets, sipping Corona with lime and shitting himself at any given opportunity.

"He's a big city kid in a small town. They said he'd never win. He knew he had to."
"He's a big city kid in a small town. They said he'd never win. He knew he had to."
D: Herbert Ross
Paramount/Indieprod (Lewis J. Rachmil & Craig Zadan)
🇺🇸 1984
107 mins
W: Dean Pitchford
DP: Ric Waite
Ed: Paul Hirsch
Kevin Bacon (Ren McCormick), Lori Singer (Ariel Moore), John Lithgow (Rev. Moore), Dianne Wiest (Vi Moore), Chris Penn (Willard Hewitt), Sarah Jessica Parker (Rusty)
This 1980's variant on Rebel Without A Cause is sheer guilty pleasure nonsense saved by a soundtrack of memorable songs made famous by Kenny Loggins, amongst others.
Kevin Bacon launched his acting career as Ren McCormick, a rebellious new high school student who wants his school to put on a dance in a town where all forms of pop music are banned by the local parish.
He fights the system, gets his own way and come the big school dance everyone in the small town can deliver amazingly choreographed movements like it wasn't banned in the first place.
The most surprising thing of all is that it was inspired by a real-life ban on pop music and dancing in a small Oklahoma town which went back 88 years.
Typically cheesy 80's stuff, not without its flaws, but the soundtrack alone makes it the stuff of legend. Kick off your Sunday shoes and enjoy.
"The man with no name is back. The man in black is waiting."
"The man with no name is back. The man in black is waiting."
D: Sergio Leone
PEA/Gonzales/Constantin (Alberto Grimaldi)
🇮🇹 🇪🇸 🇩🇪 1965
130 mins


W: Sergio Leone & Luciano Vincenzoni
DP: Massimo Dallamano
Ed: Alabiso Serralonga
Mus: Ennio Morricone 

Clint Eastwood (The Man With No Name), Lee Van Cleef (Col. Douglas Mortimer), Gian Maria Volonte (El Indio), Klaus Kinski (Wild)

The second film of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western trilogy follows on from A Fistful Of Dollars with Clint Eastwood & Lee Van Cleef's bounty hunters uniting forces in El Paso to take on Volante's psychotic bandit & his gang.
Arguably better filmed than its predecessor, the story isn't quite as good, but the performances are dastardly & mean, complete with spurts of violence and Ennio Morricone's memorable music score.

D: John Glen
United Artists/Eon (Albert R. Broccoli)
🇬🇧 1981
127 mins


W: Richard Maibaum & Michael G. Wilson [based on the short stories 'For Your Eyes Only' & 'Risico' by Ian Fleming]
DP: Alan Hume
Ed: John Grover
Mus: Bill Conti
PD: Peter Lamont
Cos: Elizabeth Waller

Roger Moore (James Bond), Carole Bouquet (Melinda Havelock), Topol (Milos Columbo), Lynn-Holly Johnson (Bibi Dahl), Julian Glover (Aristotle Kristatos)

Roger Moore's fifth outing as James Bond takes the British spy to the Coast of Greece where he goes through the usual action set-pieces and stunts to beat the bad guys with the usual gadgets and fodder.
Entertaining for its duration, but becomes a bit of a blur amongst the more memorable films of the franchise. The title song performed by Sheena Easton is probably its biggest asset.

D: Fred M. Wilcox
MGM (Nicholas Nayfack)
🇺🇸 1956
98 mins

Science Fiction

W: Cyril Hume [based on 'The Tempest' by William Shakespeare]
DP: George Folsey
Ed: Ferris Webster 
Mus: Louis Barron & Bebe Barron
PD: Cedric Gibbons & Arthur Lonergan
Cos: Helen Rose & Walter Plunkett

Walter Pidgeon (Dr. Edward Morbius), Anne Francis (Altaira Morbius), Leslie Nielsen (Cmdr. John Adams), Warren Stevens (Lt. 'Doc' Ostrow), Jack Kelly (Lt. Farman), Richard Anderson (Chief Quinn)

One of the definitive science fiction movies of all time, inspired by the plot from William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.
Set in the year 2200 AD, a spaceship visits the planet Altair to discover the fate of a previous mission, only to find a deserted world populated only by Dr. Morbius (Prospero in The Tempest), his daughter and their protective robot, Robby. It transpires that the mad doctor created monsters from his own imagination to protect himself and his daughter, leading to a showdown between the visiting crew's captain and Morbius.
While the film may not possess the best dialogue, it still has an intelligent screenplay, memorable characters and several iconic scenes and designs (especially Robby the Robot).
Many might say it looks and feel incredibly dated now, but it will always be considered a classic and milestone of the sci-fi genre.

D: Alfred Hitchcock 
United Artists (Walter Wanger)
🇺🇸 1940
120 mins


W: Charles Bennett, Joan Harrison, James Hilton & Robert Benchley [based on the novel "Personal History" by Vincent Sheehan]
DP: Rudolph Maté
Ed: Otho Lovering & Dorothy Spencer
Mus: Alfred Newman
PD: William Cameron Menzies & Alexander Golitzen

Joel McCrea (John Jones / Huntley Haverstock), Laraine Day (Carol Fisher), Herbert Marshall (Stephen Fisher), George Sanders (Scott Ffolliott), Albert Basserman (Van Meer), Robert Benchley (Stebbins), Edmund Gwenn (Rowley)

One of two American films directed by Alfred Hitchcock during the course of 1940, the other being Best Picture Oscar winner Rebecca. The irony is, during that particular period of the 20th century, this is the more important movie, aiming to be an hugely influential factor in American involvement in World War II. German minister Joseph Goebbels was himself impressed with the power of propaganda on display in the work.
Set during 1938, an American journalist is sent to various cities in Europe to investigate senior figures in the prelude to the Second World War and becomes embroiled in espionage when a bureaucrat appears to assassinated in front of his very eyes.
Hitchcock brings his usual high standard to the work, which begins quite slowly with a rambling narrative, before set piece events are reeled off one after the other; an assassination, a windmill harbouring a secret spy ring, an attempted murder at Westminster Cathedral and a plane crash at sea. Massive credit must go to the production designers and special effects crew who, for such an old film, do a marvellous job in pulling off what would have been deemed unachievable at the turn of the 1940's.
At the time of release, this would have been deemed one of the greatest films ever made, but it would be far more appreciated if it were initially viewed before the outbreak of the war. Still, from a filmmaking perspective alone, it should be respected as a brilliant piece of work.

"Time waits for no man, but true love waits forever."
"Time waits for no man, but true love waits forever."
D: Steve Miner
Warner Bros./Icon (Bruce Davey)
🇺🇸 1992
102 mins
W: Jeffrey J. Abrams
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: Jon Poll
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: Gregg Fonseca
Mel Gibson (Capt. Daniel McCormick), Jamie Lee Curtis (Claire Cooper), Elijah Wood (Nat Cooper), Isabel Glasser (Helen), George Wendt (Harry Finley), Joe Morton (Cooper)
Pleasant, old-fashioned romantic fantasy which sees Mel Gibson's aviator impulsively volunteer for a cryogenics experiment in 1939, mostly due to witnessing his fiancé involved in a car accident and not being able to bear her suffering in a coma.
He is awoken by two teenage boys in 1992 and struggles to acclimatise to the modern world, and soon discovers that the military are seeking him due to his participation in the top secret experiment.
It's by no means a bad film, and had the story been brought to the screen in the 1930's or 1940's, it may have been considered a fantasy classic alongside other films such as A Matter Of Life Or Death or Here Comes Mr. Jordan. A nice film, but incredibly slushy, with a very predictable ending.
"A comedy about love... After marriage."
"A comedy about love... After marriage."
D: Billy Crystal
Rank/Castle Rock/Face (Billy Crystal)
🇺🇸 1995
101 mins


W: Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Kent Beyda
Mus: Marc Shaiman
PD: Terence Marsh

Billy Crystal (Mickey Gordon), Debra Winger (Ellen Gordon), Joe Mantegna (Andy), Julie Kavner (Lucy), Richard Masur (Craig), Cathy Moriarty (Lois), William Hickey (Arthur), Cynthia Stevenson (Liz)

When Harry Met Sally style rom-com about the on-off affair of a basketball official and a married woman who originally meet in Paris which he visits for his father's funeral.     
There's a few lines of dialogue which crack a smile but it's all a mere excuse for Billy Crystal to go through his regular schtick, albeit with a character who isn't as engaging or charming as those he's played in the past, and it isn't helped that all the other characters are upper-class WASP's which a regular cinema audience might have trouble connecting with.

D: Nicholas Stoller
Universal (Judd Apatow & Shauna Robertson)
🇺🇸 2008
111 mins


W: Jason Segel
DP: Russ T. Alsobrook
Ed: William Kerr
Mus: Lyle Workman

Jason Segel (Peter Bretter), Kristen Bell (Sarah Marshall), Mila Kunis (Rachel Jansen), Russell Brand (Aldous Snow), Bill Hader (Brian Bretter), Paul Rudd (Kunu), Jonah Hill (Matthew)

After breaking up with his long term girlfriend and learning about her affair with another man, a songwriter takes a holiday in Hawaii, only to discover that the couple are staying at the same hotel complex.
This comedy is a helluva lot better than it's modest premise would suggest and full credit has to go to Jason Segel, who not only plays the lead character but also wrote the screenplay as well as many of the songs. Mila Kunis is also very cute as the hotel receptionist who develops affection for his character during his plight. It's clear to see that the film is from the same producers as Knocked Up & The 40 Year Old Virgin, sharing the same type of humour and a clear onus on ad-libbing for many of the one-liners (this is especially clear if you take time to watch the special features on the DVD - which are hilariously enjoyable).
The "Dracula musical" scene raises many smiles, also bolstered by Segel's songwriting efforts.

"The world will never be the same once you've seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump"
"The world will never be the same once you've seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump"
D: Robert Zemeckis
Paramount (Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch & Steve Starkey)
🇺🇸 1994
142 mins


W: Eric Roth [based on the novel by Winston Groom]
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Arthur Schmidt
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Rick Carter
Cos: Joanna Johnston

Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Sally Field (Mrs. Gump), Gary Sinise (Lieutenant Dan Taylor), Robin Wright (Jenny Curran), Mykelti Williamson (Benjamin Buford Blue - "Bubba")

Robert Zemeckis' whimsical, bittersweet slice of Americana was amongst the biggest hits of 1994, not only at the box office, but also a huge success come the awards season, when it won a slew of prizes, including the Oscar for Best Picture.     
Tom Hanks plays the title character, a simple man from a humble background whose adventures throughout his life interact with some of the 20th centuries most important figures and events, but despite his achievements, all he ever really wanted was for his childhood love to reciprocate his feelings.
Vastly different from Winston Groom's novel upon which it is based, Zemeckis' film borders upon fantasy, aided by groundbreaking visual effects and a unique style of filmmaking usually associated with the director's high standard. Much of the script's dialogue has since become part of movie folklore, with such sound bites as "stupid is as stupid does", "life is like a box of chocolates" amongst other "Gumpism's", made even more famous by Tom Hanks' excellent leading performance.     
The film is high quality entertainment, although as a history lesson it has about as much impact as the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start The Fire", merely mentioning all and sundry but doing little more than skimming around the periphery of them. The film also suffers from a message that "you need to be an idiot to live the American dream".  Many would hail it as a modern cinema classic, but for some, it just isn't quite at that level.

"A prison of the future. A high tech hell built to hold anything. Except an innocent man."
"A prison of the future. A high tech hell built to hold anything. Except an innocent man."
D: Stuart Gordon
Village Roadshow (John Davis & John Flock)
🇦🇺 🇺🇸 1993
89 mins
Action/Science Fiction
W: Steve Feinberg, Troy Neighbors & Terry Curtis Fox
DP: David Eggby
Ed: Timothy Wellburn
Mus: Frederic Talghorn
Christopher Lambert (John Henry Brennick), Kurtwood Smith (Poe), Loryn Locklin (Karen), Lincoln Kilpatrick (Abraham), Jeffrey Combs (D-Day), Vernon Wells (Maddox)
Low-budget sci-fi hokum which sees Christopher Lambert locked up in a high security prison and plays out like a futuristic version of The Great Escape.
The story is decent, the acting okay, but come the halfway point it's clear to see how budgetary restraints stop the film's true potential from shining through. Still, for a B-movie, it's not at all bad.
"The longer you wait, the harder it gets"
"The longer you wait, the harder it gets"
D: Judd Apatow
Universal (Judd Apatow, Clayton Townsend & Shauna Robertson)
🇺🇸 2005
116 mins (uncut version: 127 mins)
W: Judd Apatow & Steve Carell
DP: Jack Green
Ed: Brent White
Mus: Lyle Workman
Steve Carell (Andy Stitzer), Catherine Keener (Trish Piedmont), Paul Rudd (David), Seth Rogen (Cal), Romany Malco (Jay), Elizabeth Banks (Beth), Leslie Mann (Nicky), Jane Lynch (Paula)
Nowhere near as crass as the title makes it sound, featuring a breakthrough performance from Steve Carell as Andy, a single bachelor with a monotonous stockroom job and an apartment full of comic book collectables, games consoles & tacky 1980's rock posters.
At a work poker night he becomes the butt of his colleague's jokes when they discover he's yet to have slept with a woman at the wrong side of 40.
Together, they take Andy under their wings in a quest to get him laid, offering him advice (some good, some simply awful) to help him get over his fears, but what he really wants more than cheap, tacky sex is a relationship he can connect with.
Like all Judd Apatow's films, the comedy comes mostly from ad-libbed one liners with some funnier than others, but it works especially well here mostly due to the chemistry between the characters. 
Much better than the title might suggest.

"How do you survive the world's greatest predators?"
"How do you survive the world's greatest predators?"


D: Johannes Roberts

Entertainment Studios/Dimension (James Harris & Mark Lane)

🇬🇧 2017

89 mins


W: Johannes Roberts & Ernest Riera

DP: Mark Silk

Ed: Martin Brinkler

Mus: Tomandandy

Mandy Moore (Lisa), Claire Holt (Kate), Chris J. Johnson (Javier), Yani Gellman (Louis), Matthew Modine (Captain Taylor)

47 Metres Down is a low budget horror which was intended to be straight to video but was picked up by a major distributor to become one of the biggest sleeper hits of summer 2017.

The story concerns two sisters who embark on a cage dive expedition whilst on holiday in Mexico. Tragedy strikes when the suspension cable snaps, sending the cage with the two girls plummeting to the ocean floor and leaving them in a race against time as their air supply runs low and vicious great white sharks circling the waters above.

Though the film was marketed as a horror movie about sharks, the real horror in this scenario is not being able to breathe, and director Johannes Roberts does a fine job focusing on this in the claustrophobic environment in which the action takes place.

The ending won't be for everyone's taste, but overall it's a very decent low-budget suspense flick. 


D: Colin Higgins
Paramount (Thomas L. Miller & Edward K. Milkis)
🇺🇸 1978
116 mins
W: Colin Higgins
DP: David M. Walsh
Ed: Pembroke J. Herring
Mus: Charles Fox
Goldie Hawn (Gloria Mundy), Chevy Chase (Lt. Tony Carlson), Burgess Meredith (Mr. Hennessey), Dudley Moore (Stanley Tibbetts), Rachel Roberts (Gerda Casswell / Delia Darrow), Eugene Roche (Charlie Thorncrest)
Screwball comedy-thriller-meets-Hitchcock parody which is basically a series of homages to the iconic director, but is still entertaining and often amusing.
Goldie Hawn's kook & Chevy Chase's reporter team up to prevent a plot to assassinate the pope in San Francisco, deviated by a group of strange individuals including a murderous dwarf and a sinister albino.
While the film is clearly the work of a magpie who's seen all the Hitchcock films, it is thoroughly enjoyable, on the same level as the same screenwriter's Silver Streak (qv).

"Risk taker. Rule breaker. Game changer."
"Risk taker. Rule breaker. Game changer."


D: John Lee Hancock

The Weinstein Company/Filmnation (Don Handfield, Karen Lunder, Jeremy Renner & Aaron Ryder)

🇺🇸 2016

115 mins


W: Robert D. Siegel

DP: John Schwartzman

Ed: Robert Frazen

Mus: Carter Burrell

PD: Michael Corenblith

Michael Keaton (Ray Kroc), Nick Offerman (Dick McDonald), John Carroll Lynch (Mac McDonald), Linda Cardellini (Joan Smith), Laura Dern (Ethel Kroc)

McDonald's The Movie, telling the story of the fast food giant, from its humble beginnings in 1950's California.

Travelling salesman Ray Kroc struggles to earn a living selling milkshake mixers, but when he receives a large order from a restaurant in San Bernadino, CA, curiosity gets the better of him and he drives across the country to check the establishment out. 

Impressed with the speed of service and quality of the hamburgers on sale, he introduces himself to the owners, the McDonald brothers, who tell Ray their story and Ray subsequently implores them to franchise their business. The brothers are initially hesitant, as they attempted this before and it resulted in wayward supervisors and a reduction in quality. They finally agree to Ray's business proposition, dependent on a contract which give them overall control of the direction the business goes in.

Ray mortgages his home to finance new restaurants opening all over the Midwest, but when capital runs low and an attempt to a bigger percentage doesn't materialise, he discovers a way to circumvent the terms of his contract and wrestle control away from the brothers by forming his own company, The McDonalds Corporation, which ultimately becomes a fight over who owns the name McDonalds. 

Michael Keaton plays an excellent part as Ray Kroc, who you initially feel sympathy for, but as the film goes on, you begin to find him less and less sympathetic for all the same reasons. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch are also great as the McDonald brothers, and the production design team do a great job recreating convincing 1950's locations.

Though it technically is a film in which product placement is prevalent, this really isn't an advert for McDonald's, but a powerful story of corporate greed overpowering small, independent business.


D: Darren Aronofsky
Warner Bros./Regency/Protozoa (Eric Watson, Arnon Milchan & Iain Smith)
🇺🇸 2006
97 mins


W: Darren Aronofsky
DP: Matthew Libatique
Ed: Jay Rabinowitz
Mus: Clint Mansell
PD: James Chinlund

Hugh Jackman (Tom Creo / Tomas / Tommy), Rachel Weisz (Izzy Creo / Isabel), Ellen Burstyn (Dr. Lillian Guzetti), Mark Margolis (Father Avila)

Like all Darren Aronofsky film's, it's the sort of movie you really need to be in the mood for. Unless you really immerse yourself in it, you won't enjoy it... at all.
My first attempt to watch it resulted in my falling asleep. 
On a second attempt some years later I managed to watch it all the way through.
It's an incredibly deep movie, with three simultaneous stories spanning centuries, all with a common thread regarding the fountain of youth and similarities which span generations.
Although the narrative is rather confusing, I have to tip my hat to the visionary style, cinematography and fantastic music. Recommended especially to those who also enjoyed Cloud Atlas (qv), which has variations on similar themes.

"Ideology can be idiocy."
"Ideology can be idiocy."


D: Chris Morris

Optimum/Drafthouse/Film4/Wild Bunch/Warp (Mark Herbert & Derrin Schlesinger)

UK 2010

97 mins


W: Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong & Sam Bain

DP: Lol Crawley

Ed: Billy Sneddon

Riz Ahmed (Omar), Kayvan Novak (Waj), Nigel Lindsay (Barry), Adeel Akhtar (Faisal), Arsher Ali (Hassan)

Four Lions is a satirical comedy which tackles a very politically-charged and fractious subject, that of Islamic extremism in both the UK and in the Middle East, and though it pokes fun and ridicules suicide bombers, the non-serious approach to the material also makes the film a little bit pointless.

The story follows four British Muslims who become so engaged in their religious beliefs that they plan to rage terror on the streets of Britain, culminating in a bungled attack at the London Marathon.

Admittedly, the performances of the four incompetent terrorists are good, and there are one or two amusing moments, but it doesn't provide any real belly laughs and treads quite carefully so not to offend anyone and ultimately falls between two stools of being both politically correct and not.

Certainly worth a watch, but nowhere near as good as it could have been.


D: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriquez & Quentin Tarantino
Miramax (Lawrence Bender)
🇺🇸 1995
97 mins
W: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino
DP: Rodrigo Garcia, Guillermo Navarro, Phil Parmet & Andrzej Sekula
Ed: Margie Goodspeed, Elena Maganani, Robert Rodriguez & Sally Menke
Tim Roth (Ted the Bellhop), Antonio Banderas (The Husband), Jennifer Beals (Angela), Sammi Davis (Jezebel), Amanda de Cadenet (Diana), Valeria Golino (Athena), Kathy Griffin (Betty), Madonna (Elspeth), David Proval (Siegfried), Ione Skye (Eva), Quentin Tarantino (Chester Rush), Marisa Tomei (Margaret)
An anthology of stories from a quartet of directors, each seeing Tim Roth as a hotel Bellboy meeting an array of bizarre characters during the night shift. The first three stories ("The Missing Ingredient", "The Wrong Man" & "The Misbehavers") are pretty silly, including a coven of lesbian witches (led by Madonna) & a sado-masochistic couple involving the poor bellhop in their strange sexual games. It's only Tarantino's final segment ("The Man From Hollywood") which makes it worth watching, recreating a scene from a Hitchcock television story, with a hilarious final five minutes which had me bursting into laughter as the end credits rolled.
It's a unique project which blends different styles of filmmaking and script-writing, but the humour clashes in-between each segment and makes the finished product a bit of a mess.
D: Mike Newell
Working Title/Channel 4 (Duncan Kenworthy)
🇬🇧 1994
116 mins


W: Richard Curtis
DP: Michael Coulter
Ed: Jon Gregory
Mus: Richard Rodney Bennett
PD: Maggie Gray
Cos: Lindy Hemming

Hugh Grant (Charles), Andie MacDowell (Carrie), James Fleet (Tom), Simon Callow (Gareth), John Hannah (Matthew), Kristin Scott-Thomas (Fiona), Charlotte Coleman (Scarlett)

Mammoth box office smash of 1994 which put British film back on the worldwide map and created a filmstar out of Hugh Grant, who went on to play virtually the exact same character in various films for the best part of a decade.
Grant plays befuddled bachelor Charles, who meets the woman of his dreams, an American, at a wedding and after spending the night together their paths only ever cross at other social events of their mutual friends.
The humour is very British, with a rich array of characters from different backgrounds, although strictly from the middle-upper classes.
The majority of the performances are very good, especially Kristin Scott-Thomas as Charles' good friend and secret admirer, but the weakest performance is from Andie MacDowell, whose character is actually rather unpleasant, making you wonder exactly how shallow Charles' character really is.
Nevertheless, it was the British film event of the year and has left a lasting legacy.

"Some rooms are locked for a reason."
"Some rooms are locked for a reason."
1408 (15)
D: Mikael Hafström
Paramount (Lorenzo di Bonaventura)
🇺🇸 2007
104 mins
W: Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander & Larry Karazewski [based on the short story by Stephen King]
DP: Benoit Delhomme
Ed: Peter Boyle
Mus: Gabriel Yared
John Cusack (Mike Enslin), Samuel L. Jackson (Gerald Olin), Mary McCormack (Lily Enslin), Tony Shalhoub (Sam Farrell)
A very decent haunted house (hotel) movie based on a story by horror maestro Stephen King and not a million miles away from the plot to The Shining. 
While this falls well short of the author's finest works, it's still very entertaining mostly due to John Cusack's performance, which practically carries the whole movie entirely on his own.
After a promising opening, which starts almost as a black comedy or parody featuring a creepy encounter with hotel owner Samuel L. Jackson, cynical "haunted hotel" reviewer John Cusack checks into the mysterious room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel, which has seen 56 deaths during the 90-odd years the hotel has existed.
The evils Cusack encounters in the room range from eerily effective to laughably ridiculous and the narrative veers completely off the rails towards the tail end of the film, but the parting shot is creepily rewarding.
D: Bennett Miller
Sony Pictures Classics/Annapurna (Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik, Anthony Bregman & Bennett Miller)
🇺🇸 2014
134 mins


W: Dan Futterman & E. Max Frye
DP: Greig Fraser
Ed: Stuart Levy, Conor O'Neill & Jay Cassidy
Mus: Rob Simonsen

Channing Tatum (Mark Schultz), Steve Carell (John E. DuPont), Mark Ruffalo (Dave Schultz), Sienna Miller (Nancy Schultz), Vanessa Redgrave (Jean DuPont), Anthony Michael Hall (Jack)

The golden rule of making a good sports movie is that it has the strength in it's story to appeal to those who don't follow the sport at the heart of its focus. Director Bennett Miller and writers Dan Futterman & E. Max Frye respect these rules, Foxcatcher is more about the danger of obsession and the fractured relationship between two brothers rather than Olympic wrestling.
Based on true events, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo play Mark and Dave Schultz, two Olympic gold medalist wrestlers whose close relationship is split when John Eleuthère DuPont, a reclusive millionaire, plans to sponsor the American wrestling for the next Olympics and wants the two brothers to coach the next team. Only Mark agrees to the deal and lives in a guest house in the opulent DuPont estate. Money and success don't always marry however, and DuPont's ulterior motive for this business venture ensures failure. 
Dave joins to steady the ship, and though the relationship between him and Mark improves, the latter's friendship with DuPont becomes poisoned by distrust, leading to his expulsion from the group and a subsequent murder.
Though the film dramatises events to a point, it's a riveting watch due to the excellent performances, mostly from Steve Carell, against type from his usual comedy roles and disguised beneath makeup, as well as Mark Ruffalo, with a subtle performance as the older, more pragmatic of the two brothers. Even Channing Tatum turns in an award-worthy performance as the hot-headed athlete. Yes, you read the right.
The film was nominated for five Oscars in total, though it quite surprisingly failed to figure in the Best Picture race. 

D: Graeme Clifford
EMI/Brooksfilms (Jonathan Sanger)
🇺🇸 1982
140 mins


W: Eric Bregren, Christopher DeVore & Nicholas Kazan
DP: Laszlo Kovacs
Ed: John Wright
Mus: John Barry

Jessica Lange (Frances Farmer), Sam Shepard (Harry York), Kim Stanley (Lillian Farmer), Bart Burns (Ernest Farmer), Jeffrey DeMunn (Clifford Odets)

Biopic of troubled 1930's actress Frances Farmer whose fall from grace culminated with her commital to an insane asylum.
While the story is the stuff of standard Hollywood melodrama, Jessica Lange portrays the role with a real bitchy zest, carrying the entire film, especially during its soap opera moments. She deservedly received an Oscar nomination for the performance, and possibly would have won had Meryl Streep's performance in Sophie's Choice (considered one of the best leading performances of all time) not been nominated the same year.


D: Noah Baumbach

IFC/RT Features/Pine District (Scott Rudin, Noah Baumbach, Lila Yacoub & Rodrigo Teixeira)

🇺🇸 2013

86 mins


W: Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig

DP: Sam Levy

Ed: Jennifer Lame

Greta Gerwig (Frances Halladay), Mickey Sumner (Sophie Levee), Charlotte d'Ambroise (Colleen), Adam Driver (Lev Shapiro), Michael Esper (Dan), Grace Gummer (Rachel)

This 2013 black & white independent film serves its purpose in the respect that it provided a breakthrough for lead actress and co-writer Greta Gerwig, who went on to feature as a supporting actress in several films since before marking her own directorial debut with 2017's Lady Bird (qv), of which the storyline of Frances Ha has some similarities.

When her roommate moves to a trendier neighbourhood in New York, unemployed dancer Frances Halladay is left bouncing between crashing at her friends' apartments and staying at her parents in Sacramento, in between an ill-thought out trip to Paris on a maxed out credit card.

It's all a bit of a shaggy dog story which doesn't have much resolution, but it's an easy watch with its low key style and good performances.


"A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts."
"A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts."
D: Frank Henenlotter
Shapiro/Glickenhaus (Edgar Ievins)
🇺🇸 1990
90 mins
W: Robert Martin & Frank Henenlotter
DP: Robert M. Baldwin
Ed: Kevin Tent
Mus: Joe Renzetti
James Lorinz (Jeffrey Franken), Patty Mullen (Elizabeth Shelley), Joanne Ritchie (Mrs. Shelley), Joseph Gonzalez (Zorro the Pimp)
Low-budget comedy schlock which borrows heavily from the plot of Frankenstein. 
When his girlfriend is killed in an unfortunate lawnmower incident, a geeky scientist attempts to resurrect her with body parts from murdered hookers, but when she finally does come to life, she goes on a killing spree herself.
Tongue-firmly in cheek, it's a film which is impossible to take seriously and fits well into the 'so bad, it's good' market.
The tagline ("A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts") tells you all you need to know.
"The man who made a monster."
"The man who made a monster."
D: James Whale
Universal (Carl Laemmle, Jr.)
🇺🇸 1931
71 mins
W: Garrett Fort, Francis Edwards Faragoh, John Balderston & Robert Florey [based on the novel by Mary Shelley]
DP: Arthur Edeson
Ed: Maurice Pivar & Clarence Kolster
Mus: David Broekman
PD: Charles D. Hall
Colin Clive (Henry Frankenstein), Mae Clarke (Elizabeth), John Boles (Victor Moritz), Boris Karloff (The Monster), Edward Van Sloan (Dr, Waldman), Dwight Frye (Fritz, The Dwarf), Frederick Kerr (Baron Frankenstein)
One of the definitive all-time horror movies, leaving a lasting legacy of sequels, remakes, spinoffs, reboots and re-imaginations which are still being produced to this day.
Based on the classic novel by Mary Shelley, a research scientist creates a living monster from corpses' body parts and the creature runs amok.
While certain aspects of the film look dated, it's a fascinating piece of filmmaking considering its age, as well as being a seminal piece of work which established a new order of Hollywood monster movies. Director James Whale and actor Boris Karloff became instant household names following the release of this film and it quite rightly deserves respect. The Bride Of Frankenstein followed in 1935.
D: Tim Burton
Disney (Tim Burton & Alison Abbate)
🇺🇸 2012
87 mins
W: Tim Burton & John August [based on the short film screenplay by Tim Burton & Lenny Ripps]
Mus: Danny Elfman
voices of: Charlie Tahan (Victor Frankenstein), Catherine O'Hara (Susan Frankenstein), Martin Short (Edward Frankenstein), Martin Landau (Mr. Rzykruski), Winona Ryder (Elsa van Helsing)
Following the incredibly disappointing Alice In Wonderland, Tim Burton is back to his usual standard of gothic filmmaking with this animated remake of his own 1984 short film (one which ironically saw him fired from Disney for making films too scary for the target demographic of young children).
Using the basic premise of Frankenstein & mixing in a few references from other classic horrors (Dracula, etc.) it sees a schoolboy resurrect his recently dead dog using electricity, but when his school friends discover this, they use his experiment for their own purposes, which cause more harm than good.
Whilst the animation is absolutely flawless, the storyline suffers the same fate as the original film, the storyline falls between two stools of being too macabre for children and too childish for adults.

"You never choose love. Love chooses you."
"You never choose love. Love chooses you."
D: Garry Marshall
UIP/Paramount (Garry Marshall)
🇺🇸 1991
118 mins
W: Terrence McNally [based on his play "Frankie & Johnny In The Clair De Lune"]
DP: Dante Spinotti
Ed: Battle Davis & Jacqueline Cambas
Mus: Marvin Hamlisch
Al Pacino (Johnny), Michelle Pfeiffer (Frankie), Hector Elizondo (Nick), Nathan Lane (Tim), Kate Nelligan (Cora)
Not to be mistaken for the Elvis Presley 1966 film of the same name, although this film did adopt its name from the title song of that movie. 
This likeable chick-flick romance probably suffers from miscasting of the lead roles as two vulnerable people, one an ex-convict, who work at a diner and fall in love with each other, although that's not to say that the performances are bad, it's just hard to believe that Al Pacino & Michelle Pfeiffer are so unglamourous and unlovable that all they have are each other. Still, it has some decent lines of dialogue and a scene-stealing performance from Kate Nelligan which make the story a little more believable.
Good enough as a movie, but it would certainly work better as a stage play.

D: Roman Polanski
Warner Bros. (Thom Mount & Tim Hampton)
🇺🇸 🇫🇷 1988
120 mins


W: Roman Polanski & Gerard Brach
DP: Witold Sobocinski
Ed: Sam O'Steen
Mus: Ennio Morricone

Harrison Ford (Dr. Richard Walker), Emmanuelle Seigner (Michelle), Betty Buckley (Sondra Walker), John Mahoney (Williams), Jimmy Ray Weeks (Shaap), David Huddleston (Peter)

Roman Polanski's attempt at a Hitchcockian style thriller, starring Harrison Ford as a cardiologist in Paris whose wife is kidnapped, leaving him trying to uncover those responsible for her disappearance and becoming embroiled with Arabic terrorists.
It's a pretty decent film but the familiar plot line has been done much better before and since, and Polanski's effort isn't particularly memorable despite the best efforts of a talented cast.


D: Tod Browning

MGM (Tod Browning)

🇺🇸 1932

64 mins (Original Version: 90 mins)


W: Willis Goldbeck & Leon Gordon [based on the short story "Spurs" by Tod Robbins]

DP: Merritt B. Gerstad

Ed: Basil Wrangell

Wallace Ford (Phroso), Leila Hyams (Venus), Olga Baclanova (Cleopatra), Rosco Ates (Roscoe), Henry Victor (Hercules)

Freaks is a unique picture which has a sub genre all to itself and can only loosely be considered a horror film due to its filmmaking style.

Filled with a cast of real life circus performers with deformities, the plot follows a trapeze artist who plans on marrying and subsequently murdering the circus owner for his inheritance, news which displeases the rest of the troupe who try to put an end to her nefarious plans.

Filmed and released prior to Hollywood's production code, Freaks was hugely controversial at the time of release and was subsequently banned, only to later be released with over 20 minutes cut. Despite being now hailed as a masterpiece of cult cinema, Tod Browning's career never recovered following this film and the original version is thought to be lost forever.

A must watch for all movie buffs.


D: Gary Nelson
Disney (Ron Miller)
🇺🇸 1976
100 mins


W: Mary Rodgers [based on her novel]
DP: Charles F. Wheeler
Ed: Cotton Warburton
Mus: Johnny Mandel

Barbara Harris (Ellen Andrews / Annabel Andrews), Jodie Foster (Annabel Andrews / Ellen Andrews), John Astin (Bill Andrews), Patsy Kelly (Mrs. Schmauss), Dick Van Patten (Harold Jennings)

Released over a decade before all the body swap movies which flooded the late 1980's. This one sees Barbara Harris' conservative mother and Jodie Foster, her tomboyish teenage daughter, express a wish to switch lives- which miraculously happens (hey, it's a Disney movie).
It's a fun film with fun performances, although there's a lot of Disney padding which seem irrelevant to the story. Still, it's much more entertaining than the 2003 remake.

D: Mark Waters
Disney (Andrew Gunn)
🇺🇸 2003
97 mins
W: Heather Hach & Leslie Dixon [based on the novel by Mary Rodgers]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Bruce Green
Mus: Rolfe Kent
Jamie Lee Curtis (Tess Coleman / Anna Coleman), Lindsay Lohan (Anna Coleman / Tess Coleman), Mark Harmon (Ryan), Harold Gould (Alan), Chad Michael Murray (Jake), Stephen Tobolowsky (Elton Bates)
21st century remake of the above which presents an opportunity for Lindsay Lohan to warble her bland, insipid Disneyfied teeny-bopper pop rubbish at any given opportunity.
Jamie Lee Curtis is the film's real saving grace, with a fun performance full of energy and pep which turn back the years. 
It is quite a fun film, but the 1976 version with Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster is better overall.

D: Tom Green
20th Century Fox/Epsilon/New Regency/MBST (Larry Brezner, Lauren Lloyd & Howard Lapides)
🇺🇸 2001
87 mins


W: Tom Green
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Jacqueline Cambas
Mus: Mike Simpson

Tom Green (Gord Brody), Rip Torn (Jim Brody), Marisa Coughlan (Betty), Eddie Kaye Thomas (Freddy Brody), Julie Hagerty (Julie Brody), Anthony Michael Hall (Dave Davidson), Drew Barrymore (Receptionist)

Any review of this film will contain the words "one" "worst" "films" "ever" & "made" somewhere in the review. It's simply inevitable.
Tom Green wrote, directed and starred in this ultimate bad-taste comedy which mostly consists of him playing with roadkill & elephant cocks, driving his family insane with his inappropriate behaviour and accusing his father of sexually molesting his younger brother.
If there's a point to the film, only Tom Green knows what it is. For the viewer, it's an hour & a half of him being a total arsehole. 
One of the worst films ever made and though it has amassed a cult following since its release, it is undoubtedly for all the wrong reasons.

D: Rachel Talalay
New Line (Robert Shaye & Aron Warner)
🇺🇸 1991
90 mins
W: Michael DeLuca [based on characters created by Wes Craven]
DP: Declan Quinn
Ed: Janice Hampton
Mus: Brian May
Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Lisa Zane (Maggie Burroughs), Shon Greenblatt (John Doe) Leslie Deane (Tracy), Ricky Dean Logan (Carlos), Breckin Meyer (Spencer), Yaphet Kotto (Doc)
The title may contain the words "The Final Nightmare" but it didn't stop razor-clawed villain Freddy Krueger appearing in further films since (including a remake of the original Nightmare On Elm Street).
All the horror & scares have practically been cast aside for this 6th film of the NOES franchise, which settles mostly for a parody style of humour and a gimmick 3D ending which consisted mostly of confusing, pointless images, none of which are particularly scary.
A clutch of cameos turn up throughout the running time, including Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Roseanne Barr, but to little effect other than the filmmakers having an in-joke amongst themselves.


D: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin

National Geographic/Little Monster (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Shannon Dill & Evan Hayes)

🇺🇸 2018

96 mins


DP: Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin & Mikey Schaefer

Ed: Bob Eisenhardt

Mus: Marco Beltrami

Alex Hannold, Sanni McCandless, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin

Free Solo is an intrepid piece of documentary filmmaking which focuses on the life and career of Alex Hannold, a thrill-seeking mountaineer who undertook the achievement of climbing El Capitan, a 3,000 rock face in the Yosemite National Park, without the assistance of ropes, harnesses and safety equipment. A feat where there is no margin for error and the slightest mistake would lead to certain death.

The film shows Hannold's preparation for the climb, featuring candid interviews with his family, girlfriend and friends who appreciate he's made a living out of doing what he loves, but also that his next climb could be his last.

As well as being about a daredevil climbing endeavour, the film is also a love letter to the beauty of American National Parks, utilising cutting edge drone photography to capture their magnificence. 

As someone who wouldn't even dream of undertaking something so dangerous, this is a piece of filmmaking which had me perched on the edge of my seat throughout, even in the scenes which didn't feature any climbing.



D: Gary Ross

STX/IM Global/Bluegrass/Vendian/Larger Than Life/Route One/Huayi Brothers (Jon Kilik, Gary Ross & Scott Stuber)

🇺🇸 2016

140 mins


W: Gary Ross

DP: Benoît Delhomme

Ed: Pamela Martin & Juliette Welfling

Mus: Nicholas Britell

Matthew McConaughey (Newton Knight), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Rachel Knight), Keri Russell (Serena Knight), Mahershala Ali (Moses Washington), Brian Lee Franklin (Davis Knight)

Free State Of Jones is a US civil war drama with its heart in the right place, but its approach to the material in a non-narrative style makes it a bit of a quest to become engaged in before it gets a little boring.

Inspired by the true events surrounding the life of Newton Knight, who rebelled against the confederate army and its soldiers, Matthew McConaughey does deliver a good performance in the lead, but the length of the film could have easily been trimmed to make the subject a little more bite-size and less like obvious Oscar bait.

Similar themes were explored better in Edward Zwick's 1989 war drama, Glory (qv) which comes higher recommended than this.


"A friendship you could never imagine."
"A friendship you could never imagine."
D: Simon Wincer
Warner Bros./Canal/Regency/Alcor (Jennie Lew Tugend & Lauren Shuler-Donner)
🇺🇸 1993
112 mins
W: Keith A. Walker & Corey Blechman
DP: Robbie Greenberg
Ed: O. Nicholas Brown
Mus: Basil Poledouris
Jason James Richter (Jesse), Keiko (Willy), Lori Petty (Rae), Jayne Atkinson (Annie), August Schellenberg (Randolph), Michael Madsen (Glen), Michael Ironside (Dial)
Ecological-minded animal story about a young boy who forms a friendship with a killer whale threatened with extinction. The sentimental story captivitated audiences at the time and had a lot of appeal with a young target market, but it's really just an aquatic spin on Lassie with a rather cheesy ending (given away on the film poster) which has been parodied countless times. A couple of sequels followed, all of which used the exact same formula.

"Alex Furlong died today. Eighteen years from now he'll be running for his life."
"Alex Furlong died today. Eighteen years from now he'll be running for his life."
D: Geoff Murphy
Warner Bros./Morgan Creek (Ronald Shusett & Stuart Oken)
🇺🇸 1992
108 mins
Science Fiction/Action
W: Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett & Dan Gilroy [based on the novel "Immortality, Inc." by Robert Sheckley]
DP: Amir Mokri
Ed: Dennis Virkler
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: Joe Alves
Emilio Estevez (Alex Furlong), Rene Russo (Julie Redlund), Mick Jagger (Victor Vacendak), Anthony Hopkins (Ian McCandless), Jonathan Banks (Mark Michelette)
Alex Furlong, a racecar driver, is whisked 18 years into the future a split second before a deadly motor racing accident, and finds himself pursued by agents working for a terminally ill billionaire who plans to use Alex's body to house his own mind.
There's some interesting ideas in this film, with New York now a divided society between the poor, who live on the streets, and the rich, who are all executives of the billionaire's corporation, including Alex's old flame- which explains why it is Alex's body which the lovestruck boss seeks.
Unfortunately, the end result is incredibly predictable and doesn't really enjoy it's central idea, instead settling on a formulaic chase movie where Emilio Estevez outruns hammy Mick Jagger and his cohorts. The acting is well below standard and the visual effects are incredibly poor. A better script, better actors and a bigger budget might have helped make a better film.
D: William Friedkin
20th Century Fox (Philip D'Antoni)
🇺🇸 1971
104 mins
W: Ernest Tidyman [based on the book by Robin Moore]
DP: Owen Roizman
Ed: Jerry Greenberg
Mus: Don Ellis
Gene Hackman (Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle), Fernando Rey (Alain Charnier), Roy Scheider (Buddy Russo), Tony LoBlanco (Sal Boca), Marcel Bozzufi (Pierre Nicol), Frederic de Pasquale (Devereaux), Bill Hickman (Mulderig)
Seminal crime thriller which focuses on gritty realism, putting tough narcotics cop James "Popeye" Doyle on the case to investigate a consignment of drugs entering the country.
William Friedkin sets a template for others to follow with his grittily realistic vision, showing the seedy side of New York and portraying a hero who breaks the rules to get results, brilliantly played by Gene Hackman, who deservedly won an Oscar for the performance.
The director also goes one better than the memorable car chase he brought to the screen in Bullitt (qv), this time with an iconic car chase which involves an elevated railway, which is worth sitting through the rest of the film for alone.
A landmark crime picture.
D: Alfred Hitchcock
Universal (Alfred Hitchcock)
🇬🇧 1972
116 mins


W: Anthony Schaffer [based on the novel "Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square" by Arthur LaBern]
DP: Gilbert Taylor
Ed: John Jympson
Mus: Ron Goodwin
PD: Syd Cain

Jon Finch (Richard Blaney), Barry Foster (Bob Rusk), Alec McCowen (Chief Insp. Oxford), Vivien Merchant (Mrs. Oxford), Anna Massey (Barbara Milligan), Billie Whitelaw (Hettie Porter)

Frenzy is the last great thriller from "The Master of Suspense" Alfred Hitchcock.
Set in London, a disillusioned ex-RAF officer is suspected of being the brutal "necktie murderer" and races against time to clear his name.
It doesn't rank alongside the director's greatest works and suffers from some cliches and predictable moments, but it would have been half the film if it wasn't for the great director's visceral style.
It didn't get much love from the critics at the time and is certainly one of Hitchcock's more underrated films, and all quite unfairly.

D: Gregory Hoblit
New Line (Hawk Koch, Gregory Hoblit, Bill Carraro & Toby Emmerich)
🇺🇸 2000
118 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Toby Emmerich
DP: Alar Kivilo
Ed: David Rosenbloom
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: Paul Eads

Dennis Quaid (Frank Sullivan), Jim Caviezel (Johnny Sullivan), Andre Braugher (Satch DeLeon), Elizabeth Mitchell (Julia Sullivan), Noah Emmerich (Gordon Hersch)

An ambitious science fiction which could be criticised for trying to take on too much with its "butterfly effect" psychics.
Queens cop John Sullivan finds his dad's old ham radio in the family home, hooks it up and is miraculously able to communicate with his late father who died 30 years previously.
He convinces his much missed father to escape via a different route from a warehouse fire which originally killed him, inadvertently setting up a series of events which mean a serial killer whose unsolved murders (which originally) ceased in the summer of 1969 continue, including that of John's mother.
The son & father put their efforts together to capture the killer on either side of the timeline. 
The film is much easier to follow with a pair of good performances from Jim Caviezel & Dennis Quaid, although much of the film relies heavily on baseball references and trivia, which may be lost on those who don't follow the sport.

"They were warned. They were doomed. And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them."
"They were warned. They were doomed. And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them."
D: Sean S. Cunningham
Georgetown (Sean S. Cunningham)
🇺🇸 1980
95 mins
W: Victor Miller
DP: Barry Abrams
Ed: Bill Freda
Mus: Harry Manfredini
Adrienne King (Alice), Jeannine Taylor (Marcie), Harry Crosby (Bill), Kevin Bacon (Jack), Betsy Palmer (Pamela Voorhees)
Cheaply produced spot-the-stiff slasher flick set a summer camp (Camp Crystal Lake), brimful with ketchup-splodged murders but very little tension, mostly because the characters have little to no sympathetic value.
An entire franchise was born from this sole film, despite not actually showing the villain who provided the menace in later sequels.
Clearly, the filmmakers hoped that they could make a successful rip-off of Halloween, Carrie, and various other horror films without anyone noticing.
I noticed.

"The body count continues..."
"The body count continues..."

FRIDAY THE 13TH part 2 (18)

D: Steve Miner

Georgetown (Steve Miner)

🇺🇸 1981

87 mins


W: Ron Kurz & Phil Scuderi [based on characters created by Victor Miller]

DP: Peter Stein

Ed: Susan E. Cunningham 

Mus: Harry Manfredini

Amy Steel (Ginny), John Furey (Paul), Stu Charno (Ted), Lauren-Marie Taylor (Vickie), Adrienne King (Alice), Steve Daskawisz / Warrington Gillette (Jason Voorhees)

Although this was rushed into production and distribution to capitalise on the success of the first movie, the events take place five years after the events in the original movie, with the sole survivor being murderer and the rest being a virtual remake, although this time the killer is actually Jason Voorhees.

It's obvious that this was rushed into production, and the filmmakers got themselves into hot water by casting an underage teenage girl, meaning that an entire scene had to be subject to heavy cuts (even though the "double impalement death" does appear on the cover of some home video versions).

It should be worth noting that Jason's iconic horror mask doesn't make an appearance until the third movie.


"A New Dimension In Terror..."
"A New Dimension In Terror..."

FRIDAY THE 13TH part 3 (18)

D: Steve Miner

Paramount/Jason Inc. (Frank Mancuso, Jr.)

🇺🇸 1982

95 mins


W: Martin Kitrosser & Carol Watson [based on characters created by Victor Miller]

DP: Gerald Feil

Ed: George Hively

Mus: Harry Manfredini

Dana Kimmell (Chris Higgins), Paul Kratka (Rick), Tracie Savage (Debbie), Jeffrey Rogers (Andy), Richard Brooker (Jason Voorhees)

Jason Voorhees survived his apparent death at the conclusion of the second movie and continues terrorising kids at Camp Crystal Lake, this time in 3-D. 

It isn't any more or less scary (or interesting) as the first two movies, but it is worth noting that this is the sequel which introduced Jason's iconic hockey mask. Two films too late in my opinion, and it's difficult to care about such stupid victims. More cash-ins followed, all getting progressively worse.


"There are some very good reasons to be afraid of the dark."
"There are some very good reasons to be afraid of the dark."
D: Tom Holland
Columbia (Herb Jaffe)
🇺🇸 1985
105 mins
W: Tom Holland
DP: Jan Kiesser
Ed: Kent Beyda
Mus: Brad Fiedel
Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandridge), William Ragsdale (Charley Brewster), Amanda Bearse (Amy Peterson), Roddy McDowell (Peter Vincent), Stephen Geoffreys (Edward Thompson), Jonathan Stark (Billy Cole)
Tongue-in-cheek spin on Dracula with a good amount of 1980's cheese.
A teenage boy suspects his next door neighbour of being a vampire and takes his suspicions to his own equivalent of Van Helsing, a horror TV host who doesn't take the claims at all seriously.
It's all quite cartoonish and works better as a comedy rather than a horror, but is entertaining throughout it's duration. A sequel followed in 1988 before a miscast remake materialised in 2011.
"Your number's up."
"Your number's up."
D: Peter Jackson
UIP/Universal/Wingnut (Peter Jackson & Jamie Selkirk)
🇳🇿 🇺🇸 1996
109 mins


W: Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh
DP: Alan Bolinger & John Blick
Ed: Jamie Selkirk
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Grant Major

Michael J. Fox (Frank Bannister), Trini Alvorado (Dr. Lucy Lynskey), Peter Dobson (Ray Lynskey), John Astin (The Judge), Jeffrey Combs (Milton Dammers), Dee Wallace Stone (Patricia Ann Bradley), Jake Busey (Johnny Bartlett)

Peter Jackson's supernatural comedy stars Michael J. Fox as a bogus paranormal investigator.  While he has the ability to see ghosts (following a near death experience), he's in cahoots with them so he can ripoff the neighbours in his small picket-fence town. However, when an ethereal grim reaper starts to take lives, he becomes the only suspect and tries to unravel the mystery with his ghostly buddies and a recently widowed physician.
It's a step up for writer/director Peter Jackson from his early movies Bad Taste & Braindead, but it's all very silly with some comical special effects and variable performances, Michael J. Fox and Trini Alvorado are fine, but Jake Busey and Dee Wallace are outrageously cartoonish. The worst performance of the movie, however, belongs to Jeffrey Coombs as an irritating psychiatrist/government agent.
A little too scary for kids, a little too childish for adults. Entertaining enough, but it's no Beetlejuice.

D: Robert Rodriguez
Dimension/Los Hooligans/A Band Apart (Gianni Nunnari & Meir Teper)
🇺🇸 1995
108 mins


W: Quentin Tarantino
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Robert Rodriguez
Mus: Graeme Revell
PD: Cecilia Montiel

George Clooney (Seth Gecko), Quentin Tarantino (Richie Gecko), Harvey Keitel (Jacob Fuller), Juliette Lewis (Katherine Fuller), Salma Hayek (Santanico Pandemonium)

From Dusk Til Dawn is a film which works best if you go into it blind, knowing as little as possible about the story. If you haven't seen it, it's best not to read on.
George Clooney & Quentin Tarantino play two ruthless criminal brothers who take a preacher and his two children hostage and flee to Mexico, where they unwittingly enter a den of vampires and fight for their lives to escape.
For those who didn't realise this movie segued into horror, it provided a refreshing twist on a rather standard crime thriller, but the dramatic impact is severely dulled if you know about it before hand.
This film has a huge cult following and was followed up with a couple of sequels & even a TV series (without input from Tarantino or Rodriguez), but if, like me, you knew about the horror spin, it's difficult to see what all the fuss is about.

D: Allen Hughes & Albert Hughes
20th Century Fox/Underworld (Don Murphy & Jane Hamsher)
🇺🇸 2001
121 mins


W: Terry Hayes & Rafael Yglesias [based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell]
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Dan Lebental & George Bowers
Mus: Graeme Revell
PD: Martin Childs
Cos: Kym Barrett

Johnny Depp (Insp. Frederick Abberline), Heather Graham (Mary Jane Kelly), Ian Holm (Sir William Gull), Robbie Coltrane (Sgt. Peter Godley), Ian Richardson (Sir Charles Warren), Jason Flemyng (Netley)

Based on a graphic novel, From Hell delivers an alternative insight into the (still) unsolved mysteries of the Jack The Ripper serial killings of Victorian London, affiliating the murderer with higher classes (which is actually a rather credible theory when all the evidence is assessed).
Johnny Depp does well as the drug-addicted, psychic police investigator attempting to get to the bottom of the killings. Unfortunately, the film is very much weakened when Heather Graham pops up as Spitalfields prostitute Mary Jane Kelly (she may be pretty, but she really can't act- or do an East London accent).
Overall, it's a decent watch, but a much better job was done in a 1988 two-part TV movie starring Michael Caine (simply called "Jack The Ripper").

D: Fred Zinnemann
Columbia (Buddy Adler)
🇺🇸 1953
118 mins


W: Daniel Taradash [based on the novel by James Jones]
DP: Burnett Guffey
Ed: William Lyon
Mus: George Duning
PD: Cary Odell
Cos: Jean Louis

Burt Lancaster (Sgt. Warden), Deborah Kerr (Karen Holmes), Montgomery Clift (Robert E. Lee Prewitt), Frank Sinatra (Pvt. Angelo Maggio), Donna Reed (Alma Lorene), Ernest Borgnine (Sgt. 'Fatso' Judson), Philip Ober (Capt. Dana Holmes), Jack Warden (Cpl. Buckley)

Glossy Hollywood romance set in an army barracks in the build up to the Pearl Harbor bombing. 
Apparently the movie is very diluted from James Joyce's source novel, with the foul language, violence and sex removed for something a little more soap opera-esque, but the movie still works incredibly well without resorting to turning the air blue.
Montgomery Clift is a new recruit transferred to the Hawaiian barracks, unfairly treated because he refuses to participate in the company boxing team. He does however, strike a friendship with wisecracking Italian Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) and falls in love with 'nightclub hostess' Alma (Donna Reed).
Meanwhile, senior officer Burt Lancaster begins an affair with his superior officers wife (Deborah Kerr) and they deliver one of the most iconic movie kisses of all time (the infamous beach scene).
Although quite wishy-washy in parts, the movie comes alive in scenes with Clift & Sinatra. 
It's your archetypal Hollywood melodrama with routine flagwaving, but I fully understand why it's deemed a classic. 
To think that Michael Bay tried to emulate this with 2001's Pearl Harbor (qv) is quite laughable.

"James Bond is back!"
"James Bond is back!"
D: Terence Young
United Artists/Eon (Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli)
🇬🇧 1963
110 mins


W: Richard Maibaum & Johanna Harwood [based on the novel by Ian Fleming]
DP: Ted Moore
Ed: Peter Hunt
Mus: John Barry
PD: Syd Cain
Cos: Jocelyn Rickards

Sean Connery (James Bond), Daniela Bianchi (Tatiana Romanova(, Pedro Armendariz (Ali Kerim Bey), Lotte Lenya (Rosa Klebb), Robert Shaw (Donald 'Red' Grant), Bernard Lee (M)

Bond's second outing has a bigger budget, bigger set pieces and a bigger villain (played memorably by Robert Shaw) who joins international crime organisation SPECTRE, hatching plans to both kill 007 and steal a top secret coding  machine.
While the franchise as a whole didn't really pick up momentum until Goldfinger was released a year later, From Russia With Love remains amongst the best of the lot, featuring climactic scenes including a speeding train & a helicopter.
For many, this is where Bond's adventures really begin following the rather low-key Dr. No.

"400 million people were waiting for the truth."
"400 million people were waiting for the truth."
D: Ron Howard
Universal/Imagine/Working Title (Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇫🇷 2008
122 mins


W: Peter Morgan [based on his play]
DP: Salvatore Totino
Ed: Mike Hill & Dan Hanley
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Michael Corenblith

Michael Sheen (David Frost), Frank Langella (Richard Nixon), Kevin Bacon (Jack Brennan), Rebecca Hall (Caroline Cushing), Toby Jones (Swifty Lazar), Matthew McFadyen (John Birt), Oliver Platt (Bob Zelnick), Sam Rockwell (James Reston, Jr.)

Much more entertaining than the title would suggest, Ron Howard's film is a dramatisation of a real-life interview which occurred in 1977 between up-and-coming TV personality David Frost and disgraced US president Richard Nixon.
Nixon had remained silent in the years following his resignation, but people wanted to know the truth, but it was almost impossible to procure without the possibility of TV journalists damaging their own reputations, so Frost was treading on eggshells in his approach to, and conduct during, the infamous showdown.
This isn't without the usual romanticised Hollywood gloss but plays out really well, with taut, low-key direction from Ron Howard. It isn't imperative to the plot to possess knowledge of the Watergate scandal or the truths about the Vietnam War, but it helps if you know a little about the background.
Frank Langella delivers a first class performance as Tricky Dicky and Michael Sheen also give a credible account as the intrepid young journalist.
On the DVD bonus menu, it's also worth watching excerpts from the real-life interview for comparison.

D: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Disney (Peter Del Vocho)
🇺🇸 2013
98 mins
W: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee & Shane Morris [based on the story "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen]
Mus: Christophe Beck; Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez
voices of: Kristen Bell (Anna), Idina Menzel (Elsa), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), Josh Gan (Olaf), Santino Fontana (Hans)
Am I missing something?
I just didn't seem to enjoy this as much as the rest of the world. Sure it's great animation in the usual Disney style with the studio's twist on a fairytale with the usual princesses, hulking heroes, dastardly villains and talking animals (well, snowmen in this case) but what makes this the most successful Disney film ever exactly???
The teaser trailer had a walking, talking snowman named Olaf and a reindeer fighting over a carrot (Olaf's nose), but none of this comedy was in the film, instead it's an adaptation of a Hans Christian Anderson story where a newly coronated queen with magical powers hides in a fortress of solitude and makes her kingdom perennial winter while her sister is on a quest to break the curse. 
It was entertaining, but completely without comedy. I, for one, could have quite happily watched a whole film of tug-of-war over the carrot. 
The songs (and there are many of them) are grating and enchanting in equal measure. 'Let It Go' is a truly great Disney song, but some of the others are simply too twee.
Overall, I'd say it's a good family film, but it's so incredibly overrated.

"Every step brings you closer to the edge."
"Every step brings you closer to the edge."
D: Ryan Coogler
The Weinstein Company/Significant (Nina Yang Bongiovi & Forest Whitaker)
🇺🇸 2013
82 mins


W: Ryan Coogler
DP: Rachel Morrison
Ed: Claudia Costello & Michael P. Shawver 
Mus: Ludwig Göransson 

Michael B. Jordan (Oscar Grant III), Melonie Diaz (Sophina Mesa), Octavia Spencer (Wanda Johnson), Kevin Durand (Officer Caruso), Chad Michael Murray (Officer Ingram)

Ryan Coogler's directorial debut tells the true story of Oscar Grant III, a young black man in Oakland, CA trying to go straight for the sake of his family following a brief spell in prison, but ends up being shot by a police officer after an incident of gang-related violence while celebrating New Year's Eve with his girlfriend.
The lead performance of Michael B. Jordan was a strong breakthrough for the young actor and the supporting performances of Octavia Spencer and Melonie Diaz are also good. Some events have been dramatised, but often is the way with films that depict true events. A solid piece of independent filmmaking and the first step into cinema for a director who reunited with the same star for 2015's Creed.

"A murdered wife. A one-armed man. An obsessed detective. The chase begins."
"A murdered wife. A one-armed man. An obsessed detective. The chase begins."
D: Andrew Davis
Warner/Barish (Arnold Kopelson)
🇺🇸 1993
127 mins


W: Jeb Stuart & David Twohy [based on the TV series created by Roy Huggins]
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Dennis Virkler, David Finfer, Dean Goodhill, Don Brochu, Dov Hoenig & Richard Nord
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Dennis Washington
Cos: Aggie Guerard Rodgers

Harrison Ford (Dr. Richard Kimble), Tommy Lee Jones (Deputy Samuel Gerard), Sela Ward (Helen Kimble), Joe Pantoliano (Cosmo Renfro), Andreas Katsulas (Sykes), Jeroen Krabbe (Dr. Charles Nichols), Julianne Moore (Dr. Eastman), Daniel Roebuck (Biggs)

The early 1990's saw a huge surge in movies adapted from 1960's TV programmes and the best of the lot was arguably 1993's The Fugitive, surprisingly nominated for the year's Best Picture Oscar and winning Best Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones.
Whilst the TV series stretched the story out for four seasons, the film abridges it into 130 minutes, without compromising an interesting narrative or dramatic tension.
Harrison Ford plays Dr. Richard Kimble, a vascular surgeon wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife and sentenced to death row. He escapes from custody and begins a search for the real culprit, a one-armed man. Meanwhile, a nationwide manhunt, headed by US Marshal Samuel Gerard (Jones), is seeking Kimble to bring him back to justice.
The Fugitive is one of the ultimate cat-and-mouse thrillers, held together with nail-biting set pieces, taut direction and great performances from it's main two actors, particularly Tommy Lee Jones, with one of the most iconic acting performances of the decade, one which received much parody and imitation in the years following.

"In Vietnam, the wind doesn't blow. It sucks."
"In Vietnam, the wind doesn't blow. It sucks."
D: Stanley Kubrick
Warner Bros./Natant (Stanley Kubrick)
🇬🇧 1987
116 mins
W: Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr & Gustav Hasford [based on the novel "The Short-Timers" by Gustav Hasford]
DP: Douglas Milsome
Ed: Martin Hunter
Mus: Abigail Mead
PD: Anton Furst
Matthew Modine (Pvt. 'Joker' James Davis), Adam Baldwin (Sgt. 'Animal Mother'), Vincent D'Onofrio (Pvt. 'Pyle' Leonard Lawrence), R. Lee Ermey (Gunnery Sgt. Hartman), Dorian Harewood (Cpl. 'Eightball')
Kubrick's war masterpiece is a film of two halves. The first half of the movie concentrates on new recruits in boot camp, dehumanised and turned into killing machines by a bullying, brutal drill sergeant (memorably played by R. Lee Ermey). While the majority of the boys become men during the harsh regime, one in particular isn't earning his stripes and suffers a mental breakdown as a result of the training.
The second half of the film becomes a rather standard tour of duty Vietnam movie, focusing on a platoon on their daily grind without a shred of humanity or conscience as they march through the wastelands.
It's unfortunate that the second half of the film can't match the quality of the first 45 minutes, which is quite simply classic cinema, featuring one of the truly great sadistic characters, one which has been aped and parodied in practically every war movie since.
D: Peter Cattaneo
Fox Searchlight/Redwave (Uberto Pasolini)
🇬🇧 1997
90 mins
W: Simon Beaufoy
DP: John de Borman
Ed: Nick Moore & David Freeman
Mus: Anne Dudley
Robert Carlyle (Gary Schofield), Tom Wilkinson (Gerald Arthur Cooper), Mark Addy (Dave Horsefall), Paul Barber (Barrington 'Horse' Mitchell), Steve Huison (Lomper), Hugo Speer (Guy), Emily Woof (Mandy), Lesley Sharp (Jean Horsefall)
Classic British comedy about six unemployed Sheffield steelworkers who put together a strip act to rake in some cash. A very funny screenplay is made even greater by the performances of it's main cast members, all of whom play believable characters who you really want to root for, and while some of the references may be lost on American audiences, it caught a crest of a wave in it's native UK, where it coincided with a successful political campaign by the Labour Party and quite rightly ensured this film was the British event of the year.
If you don't crack a smile during the film's classic finale, then you quite simply do not possess a soul.
D: Michael Haneke
Metro Tartan/Wega (Veit Heiduschka)
🇦🇹 🇩🇪 1997
108 mins
W: Michael Haneke
DP: Jürgen Jürges
Ed: Andreas Prochaska
Susanne Lothar (Anna), Ulrich Mühe (George), Frank Giering (Peter), Arno Frisch (Paul), Stefan Clapczynski (George, Jr.)
It's recommended to watch this version rather than the shot-for-shot English language remake, which changes absolutely nothing and only dilutes the shocking power of this original.
It's an awkward, uncomfortable horror film with an anti-Hollywood commentary running through it, as director Haneke continues his fascination with violence in the movies which he explored in his previous work.
A married couple and their son in their family home by a lake find themselves terrorised by two strangers who treat their sadistic behaviour as a game as they torture the family and threaten their lives.
The film masterfully builds tension until the third act when it almost becomes impossible to take seriously, becoming a polemic about Hollywood audiences attitudes towards gratuitous violence.
Creepy and disturbing, you're sure to have seen nothing else quite like it.
D: Michael Haneke
Warner Independent/Metro Tartan/Film 4 (Chris Coen, Hamish McAlpine, Hengameh Panahi, Christian Baute & Andro Steinborn)     
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇦🇹 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 2007
108 mins
W: Michael Haneke [from his 1997 film screenplay]
DP: Darius Khondji
Ed: Monika Willi
Naomi Watts (Ann), Tim Roth (George), Devon Gearhart (George, Jr.), Michael Pitt (Paul), Brady Corbet (Peter)
Michael Haneke remakes his own 1997 film for Hollywood audiences, which seems to nullify the point that the very anti-Hollywood original tried to make, though this would cater for those who simply refuse to sit through a film with subtitled dialogue.
The story itself is truly disturbing, suspenseful, thrilling and very uncomfortable to watch. A married couple (Roth & Watts) take their son & dog to their holiday lake house, where they are held hostage by two disturbed, psychopathic young men who want to play anything but "funny games".
It isn't too dissimilar to Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (qv) with a genuine art house feel, but the movie changes with a surprise twist and becomes a polemic towards violence in the movies in it's final act, which, while unexpected if you haven't seen the original, worked much better in the 1997 version.
Naomi Watts is very good as the tormented housewife and all the other performances can't be faulted, especially the two young men (Corbet & Pitt), who are thoroughly detestable. 
American remakes of foreign language films normally lessen the impact of the original films (a good example would be George Sluizier remaking his own film, The Vanishing), and while this is nowhere near as chilling as the 1997 film, it isn't terrible either.
D: Judd Apatow
Universal/Columbia/Relativity Media (Judd Apatow, Clayton Townsend & Barry Mendel)
🇺🇸 2009
146 mins


W: Judd Apatow
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Brent White & Craig Alpert
Mus: Michael Andrews & Jason Schwartzman

Adam Sandler (George Simmons), Seth Rogen (Ira Wright), Leslie Mann (Laura), Eric Bana (Clarke), Jonah Hill (Leo Koenig), Jason Schwarzman (Mark Taylor Jackson)

The film opens with a younger Adam Sandler making relentless prank phone calls (courtesy of home video footage taken by writer/director Judd Apatow when the two were roommates). It's his usual schtick, yet Funny People manages to be amongst Sandler's most mature work.
He's perfectly cast here as an obnoxious, arrogant stand-up comedian with a massive fanbase (so basically playing himself), but when he receives the news that he's suffering from a potentially terminal blood disease, he hires a young, struggling comedy writer (Seth Rogen) to pen some new material for him. 
This is basically The Great Gatsby, relocated to the world of stand-up comedy, and while the performances are good and the stand-up scenes have some well-written humour, the rest of the film isn't so funny.
The length of the film isn't particularly kind either, especially when there's a lot of filler consisting of in-jokes between the director and his cast of friends which the audience may not be privy to.
Enjoyable, but not the stand-up comedy epic that Apatow intended it to be.

D: Roger Kumble
Summit/Participant Media (Robert Simonds & Keith Goldberg)
🇺🇸 2010
92 mins
W: Michael Carnes & Josh Gilbert
DP: Peter Lyons Collister
Ed: Lawrence Jordan
Mus: Edward Shearmur
Brendan Fraser (Dan Sanders), Brooke Shields (Tammy Sanders), Matt Prokop (Tyler Sanders), Ken Jeong (Neil Lyman), Angela Kinsey (Felder)
Brendan Fraser plays a real estate developer who moves with his family from the big city to a rural community in Oregon where he oversees the building of a new housing complex.
The local wildlife, their habitat threatened by the build, decide to take revenge and start a war in the countryside cul-de-sac.
The premise alone tells you that this is one for a younger audience, ecological messages aren't really explored and it settles on juvenile slapstick which isn't particularly funny or engaging. Ample entertainment for pre-teens.
"War never ends quietly."
"War never ends quietly."
FURY (15)
D: David Ayer
Columbia/Le Grisbi/QED (Bill Block, John Lesher, Alex Ott, Ethan Smith, Brad Pitt & David Ayer)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 2014
134 mins 


W: David Ayer
DP: Roman Vasyanov
Ed: Dody Dorn & Jay Cassidy
Mus: Steven Price

Brad Pitt (SSG Don 'Wardaddy' Collier), Jon Bernthal (PFC Grady 'Coon Ass' Travis), Shia LaBeouf (Boyd 'Bible' Swan), Logan Lerman (Pvt. Norman 'Machine' Ellison), Michael Peña (Cpl. Trini 'Gordo' Garcia), Jason Isaacs (Cpt. 'Old Man' Waggoner)

Fury was promoted as a realistic, gritty war film on its release, and though the action scenes are well directed, with frenetic editing and sound cranked up to eleven, less care and attention was served to the cliché-ridden plot and underwritten characters.
Brad Pitt plays the leader of an allied troop who take control of a German tank and trudge through the war-torn countryside killing Nazis. A new member to the outfit is a young replacement gunner, who the rest of the soldiers plan to make a man out of by the time the war is through.
Unfortunately, this is less a band of brothers and more a band of boys, taking to war with all the grace of a teenager going through puberty.
It's a war film without a good guy, and the lack of which makes it difficult to root for the protagonists. It may actually be one of the WWII films where you want the Germans to win.

D: Dwayne Carey-Hill
20th Century Fox/The Curiosity Company (Lee Supercinski & Claudia Katz)
🇺🇸 2007
89 mins
W: Ken Keeler & David X. Cohen
Mus: Christopher Tyng
voices of: Billy West (Philip J. Fry / Lars Fillmore / Prof. Farnsworth / Dr. Zoidberg / Zapp Brannigan / various others), Katey Sagal (Leela), John DiMaggio (Bender / Barbados Slim / various others)
I will never understand why Futurama was axed. It probably wasn't as commercially viable as The Simpson, South Park, Family Guy, etc. but it had a wonderfully geeky and subtle humour running through it.
In this feature length episode, it sees the old gang return with a bang as a tattoo of a time code is discovered on Fry, enabling time travel, which Bender the robot utilises for his own looting needs. 
A great reminder of how excellent the series was, followed up by three further feature-length episodes "The Beast With A Billion Backs", "Bender's Game" and "Into The Wild Green Yonder", none of which were as satisfying as this one.

"Is this you... Or are YOU you?"
"Is this you... Or are YOU you?"
D: Richard T. Heffron
AIP (Samuel Z. Arkoff, James T. Aubrey, Jr. & Paul Lazarus III)
🇺🇸 1976
107 mins 

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Mayo Simon & George Schenck
DP: Howard Schwartz & Gene Polito
Ed: James Mitchell
Mus: Fred Karlin

Peter Fonda (Chuck Browning), Blythe Danner (Tracy Ballard), Arthur Hill (Dr. Duffy), John Ryan (Dr. Schneider), Yul Brynner (The Gunslinger)

Boring sequel to Westworld, starring Peter Fonda & Blythe Danner as journalists who visit the theme park two years after the events in the first film and uncover a conspiracy with the robots being created there.
This film may have a bigger budget than the original film, but is inferior in story, thrills, suspense and tension. 

"Special effects are his life... and his death?"
"Special effects are his life... and his death?"
D: Robert Mandel
Orion (Dodi Fayed & Jack Wiener)
🇺🇸 1986
106 mins
W: Robert T. Megginson & Gregory Fleeman
DP: Miroslav Ondricek
Ed: Terry Rawlings
Mus: Bill Conti
Bryan Brown (Rollie Tyler), Brian Dennehy (Lt. Leo McCarthy), Diane Venora (Ellen), Cliff DeYoung (Martin Lipton), Mason Adams (Col. Edward Mason), Jerry Orbach (Nicholas DeFranco)
Bryan Brown plays movies effects maestro Rollie Tyler, who is invited by the Justice Department to stage a phone assassination of a Mob informer, but finds himself set up and becomes the target of hitmen and on the run from the police.
This thriller is quite well done and is inventive with it's idea, but unfortunately becomes a clichéd chase film in the final half. A rather forgotten film from the 1980's.     
D: Richard Franklin
Columbia TriStar/Orion (Jack Wiener & Dodi Fayed)
🇺🇸 1991
108 mins
W: Bill Condon
DP: Victor J. Kemper, David M. Walsh & Tonino Delli Colli
Ed: Andrew London & Michael Tronick
Mus: Lalo Schifrin
Bryan Brown (Rollie Tyler), Brian Dennehy (Leo McCarthy), Rachel Ticotin (Kim Brandon), Philip Bosco (Lt. Ray Silak)
Practically a remake of the first film with special effects expert Rollie Tyler (Brown) teaming up with a Private Investigator to solve a mystery involving stolen gold medallions.
The original film was much better.