"The last man on Earth is not alone."
"The last man on Earth is not alone."


D: Francis Lawrence
Warner Bros. (James Lassiter, David Heyman, Neal H. Moritz & Akiva Goldsman) 
US 2007
100 mins
Science Fiction
W: Akiva Goldsman & Mark Protosevich [based on the novel by Richard Matheson]
DP: Andrew Lesnie
Ed: Wayne Wahrman
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Naomi Shohan
Will Smith (Dr. Robert Neville), Alice Braga (Anna Montez), Charlie Tahan (Ethan), Emma Thompson (Dr. Alice Krippin)
Will Smith is the last man on Earth, roaming a desolate New York City with his dog, listening to Bob Marley on his iPod (product placement, y'see) and evading capture by CGI beasties which were vampires in Richard Matheson's original novel but only director Francis Lawrence knows what the hell they're supposed to be in this.
Matheson's has had a number of big screen adaptations, from 1969's The Omega Man to a New Zealand variation on the story in 1985 called The Quiet Earth.  There are umpteen apocalyptic disaster movies better than this. Will Smith doesn't do a bad job carrying the first half of the film entirely on his own (with dog and Bob Marley, of course), but the film completely falls to shit when a female character is introduced. Seems a bit chauvinistic to me. The less said about the atrocious visual effects, the better. There simply is no excuse for a big budget summer blockbuster to have CGI so poorly executed.
"Love is all you need."
"Love is all you need."
I AM SAM (12)
D: Jessie Nelson
New Line/Bedford Falls (Jessie Nelson, Richard Solomon, Marshall Herskovitz & Edward Zwick)
US 2001
132 mins


W: Kristine Johnson & Jessie Nelson
DP: Elliot Davis
Ed: Richard Chew
Mus: John Powell
Pd: Aaron Osborne

Sean Penn (Sam Dawson), Michelle Pfeiffer (Rita Harrison Williams), Dakota Fanning (Lucy Diamond Dawson), Dianne Wiest (Annie Cassell), Laura Dern (Miranda Carpenter)

Sean Penn received much criticism for over-acting in this sentimental drama but it didn't stop him receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
He plays Sam, a mentally retarded man fighting for custody of his young, precociously intelligent daughter (Dakota Fanning), receiving the help of attorney Michelle Pfeiffer to plead his case.
The title is a reference to the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs & Ham" and there are also several references to songs of The Beatles throughout it's duration.
It may feel a little mawkish and cloying in places, but it's still highly enjoyable, and criticisms of Penn's performance are incredibly harsh.


D: Ken Loach

eOne/Sixteen/Why Not/Wild Bunch (Rebecca O'Brien)

UK/France/Germany/Belgium 2016

100 mins


W: Paul Laverty

DP: Robbie Ryan

Ed: Jonathan Morris

Mus: George Fenton

Dave Johns (Daniel Blake), Hayley Squires (Katie Morgan), Briana Shann (Daisy Morgan), Dylan McKiernan (Dylan Morgan)

Director Ken Loach came out of retirement as he had something serious to say about the British welfare system and the finish result was appreciated heavily at Cannes film festival, receiving a rapturous standing ovation.

The film, pieced together from several real-life stories while writer Paul Liberty was researching, follows Daniel Blake, a carpenter from Newcastle-upon-Tyne who had recently been a victim of a heart attack only to become a victim of bureaucratic changes to the department of work & pensions. 

He strikes up a friendship with Katie, a single mother relocated from London where the housing services are seriously depleted.

The film does have a message to convey about people not quite getting the help they need, though it does get a little preachy in blaming the current government at the time of filming, completely ignoring that some of the wheels were put in motion by the previous leadership. 

Politics aside, it's an important film which addresses the common misconception, especially from the opinion of the upper classes, that all those on benefits are no-hopers, beggars and moochers, which is far from the truth.

In the case of Daniel Blake, he's a proud, dignified gentleman whose paid into the system his whole life only to be betrayed when the safety net wasn't there to catch him, whereas Katie's dilemma can only be blamed on a lack of social housing.

One thing is for certain, it's a bleak dramatic film which is not created for enjoyment, but far more for raising awareness.


"Conceived by the devil, only she knows what her baby really is!"
"Conceived by the devil, only she knows what her baby really is!"
D: Peter Sasdy
Rank/Unicapital (Norma Corney)
UK 1975
94 mins


W: Stanley Price
DP: Ken Talbot
Ed: Keith Palmer
Mus: Ron Grainger

Joan Collins (Lucy Carlesi), Ralph Bates (Gino Carlesi), Donald Pleasance (Dr. Finch), Eileen Atkins (Sister Albana)

Cheap English horror with very little to recommend about it.
The title makes little sense, since the film begins with a "demon child" being born, then the film becomes a monotonous series of relentless dream sequences with Joan Collins and a murderous dwarf who may or may not be possessing the newborn child (the bizarre direction makes this quite unclear).
Complete and utter garbage, serving as a ripoff to Rosemary's Baby, Don't Look Now and The Exorcist, but really poorly done. 


D: David O. Russell

Fox Searchlight/Qwerty (Gregory Goodman, David O. Russell & Scott Rudin)

US/UK 2004

106 mins


W: David O. Russell

DP: Peter Deming

Ed: Robert K. Lambert

Mus: Jon Brion

Jason Schwartzman (Albert Markovski), Dustin Hoffman (Bernard Jaffe), Isabelle Huppert (Caterine Vauban), Jude Law (Brad Stand), Lily Tomlin (Vivian Jaffe), Mark Wahlberg (Tommy Corn), Naomi Watts (Dawn Campbell)

This "existential comedy" was possibly the most divisive film of 2004 with many calling it genius and an equal amount calling it pretentious twaddle.

In Short Cuts style, the plot follows a collection of characters, but the main story thread focuses on Albert Markovsky, who hires a pair of detectives who specialise in investigating the meaning of life for their clients, as he wants them to explain coincidences which happen in his day-to-day life.

Totally different from anything else you'll ever see, but to call it genius is reaching, especially when you consider that the writer-director thinks it's the weakest film from his filmography. For me, it was pretentious twaddle.


"If you're going to bury the truth, make sure it stays buried."
"If you're going to bury the truth, make sure it stays buried."
D: Jim Gillespie
Columbia/Mandalay (Neal H. Moritz, Erik Feig & Stokely Chaffin)
US 1997
101 mins


W: Kevin Williamson [based on the novel by Lois Duncan]
DP: Denis Crossan
Ed: Steve Mirkovich
Mus: John Debney

Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie James), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Helen Shivers), Ryan Philippe (Barry Cox), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Ray Bronson), Anne Heche (Missy Egan)

The late 1990's saw the rise of a new screenwriter, Kevin Williamson, who created the TV show 'Dawson's Creek', as well as penning 1996 horror movie Scream (qv), a part-satirical look at horror films and brought some much needed freshness to the genre.
His Scream follow-up, I Know What You Did Last Summer, is merely a return to the usual cliches, mixing the slasher sub-genre with a standard revenge flick, starring a group of dumbass teens who hit someone with their car, cover it up, and then find themselves picked off one by one a year later. It's rather enioyable for the duration, but not particularly memorable, with acting, characters and dialogue no better than the average you'd expect.

D: Chris Sivertson 
Tristar (Frank Mancuso, Jr.)
US 2007
105 mins


W: Jeff Hammond
DP: John R. Leonetti
Ed: Lawrence Jordan
Mus: Joel McNeely

Lindsay Lohan (Aubrey Fleming / Dakota Moss), Julia Ormond (Susan Fleming), Neal McDonough (Daniel Fleming), Brian Geraghty (Jerrod Pointer)

I know what killed Lindsay Lohan's career. This pathetic excuse for a psychological horror, where her attempts to move away from her teeny-bopper roles into something more sultry can only be met with ridiculing laughter.
A good horror film can be blessed with either an intelligent screenplay, an air of mystery or convincing performances, in fact, the very best can possess all three.
Some however, have none of these attributes and Chris Sivertson's movie fits into this notorious category.
Pairing Lohan with a goreporn formula which had already been done in abundance with the Saw films proved a mistake which audiences stayed away from and critics rightfully panned. The whole movie has even less credibility than a celebrity sex tape.

"He needed a best man... He got the worst."
"He needed a best man... He got the worst."
D: John Hamburg
Dreamworks/Montecito (Donald De Line & John Hamburg)
US 2009
110 mins


W: John Hamburg & Larry Levin
DP: Lawrence Sher
Ed: William Kerr
Mus: Theodore Shapiro

Paul Rudd (Peter Klaven), Jason Segel (Sydney Fife), Rashida Jones (Zooey Rice), Andy Samberg (Robbie Klaven), J.K. Simmons (Oswald Klaven), Jane Curtin (Joyce Klaven), Jon Favreau (Barry), Jamie Pressly (Denise)

I Love You, Man puts a twist on the conventional rom-com, instead of focusing on him and her, it pokes fun at 'bromances' between guys.
Paul Rudd plays a workaholic estate agent who realises, as his wedding approaches, that he doesn't have a close male friend to make best man. On the hunt for one, he attracts the wrong kind of attention from gay guys, but eventually finds friendship with a charming but opinionated slacker (Jason Segel).
The comedy is very hit-and-miss, especially in the first half of the film, but works from the midway point due to the double act of Rudd and Segel.
Good enough for a fun movie to relax to, but don't expect too much from it.

D: Lawrence Kasdan
Columbia Tristar/Chestnut Hill (Jeffrey Lurie & Ron Moler)
US 1990
97 mins


W: John Kostmayer
DP: Owen Roizman
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: James Horner
PD: Lilly Kilvert

Kevin Kline (Joey Boca), Tracey Ullman (Rosalie Boca), Joan Plowright (Nadja), River Phoenix (Devo Nod), William Hurt (Harlan James), Keanu Reeves (Marlon James), James Gammon (Lt. Larry Schooner), Heather Graham (Bridget)

Kevin Kline follows up his Oscar winning turn in A Fish Called Wanda with this black comedy about an adulterous pizza shop owner whose jealous wife attempts to murder him after discovering his infidelities, but finds him almost impossible to kill after all her, her mother's and a young admirer's attempts on his life fail.
All the performances are generally decent but the script becomes desperately unfunny in the final half following a promising opening. Supposedly based on a true story, there was genuine promise in the plot, and could have been a great deal better. It won't bore you to death, but if you were to fall asleep watching, you wouldn't miss much.

"They're straight as can be, but don't tell anyone."
"They're straight as can be, but don't tell anyone."
D: Dennis Dugan
Universal (Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Tom Shadyac & Michael Bostick)
US 2007
110 mins


W: Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Jeff Gourson
Mus: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Adam Sandler (Chuck Levine), Kevin James (Larry Valentine), Jessica Biel (Alex McDonough), Ving Rhames (Fred G. Duncan), Steve Buscemi (Clinton Fitzer), Dan Aykroyd (Capt. Phineas J. Tucker)

Two New York firemen arrange a fake gay wedding so that one of them can secure his rights to a pension.
Unfunny, crass homophobic racist rubbish which leaves no stereotype untouched and fails to justify why Adam Sandler is one of Hollywood's highest paid actors.  Considering Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor contributed to the screenplay on this, there is no reason for it to be so insulting to the intelligence of its audience. I now pronounce this a terrible movie.

"An act of revenge."
"An act of revenge."
D: Meir Zarchi
Cinemagic (Meir Zarchi & Joseph Zbeda)
US 1978
101 mins


W: Meir Zarchi
DP: Nouri Haviv
Ed: Meir Zarchi

Camille Keaton (Jennifer Hills), Eron Tabor (Johnny), Richard Pace (Matthew Lucas), Anthony Nichols (Stanley), Gunter Kleeman (Andy)

Unpleasant, exploitation film from the 1970's which only seemed to have been made for sheer shock value, for which it gained much notoriety and was subsequently banned in several countries.
The story could easily have been written on the back of a napkin: a young journalist is viciously gang-raped by four men in the remote woods and systematically gets her revenge on those responsible in equally gruesome ways.
Despite the film looking as though it were filmed on a cheap home video camcorder, Camille Keaton's performance is actually rather good. Both the character and the actress are subjected to rather awful conditions and though the screenplay has her do some very unconvincing things, it's easily the best performance in this film (although the rest can only really be described as awful).
Shock value aside, this is a very unremarkable film, and claims that this is an attempt at female empowerment are lamentable.

"Some secrets will haunt you forever."
"Some secrets will haunt you forever."
D: Danny Cannon
Columbia/Mandalay (Neal H. Moritz, Erik Feig, Stokely Chaffin & William S. Beasley)
US 1998
101 mins


W: Trey Callaway [based on characters created by Lois Duncan]
DP: Vernon Layton
Ed: Peck Prior
Mus: John Frizzell 

Jennifer Love Hewitt (Julie James), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Ray Bronson), Brandy Norwood (Karla Wilson), Mekhi Phifer (Tyrell Wilson), Muse Watson (Ben Willis)

Poor sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer with the same clichés and virtually the same dumbass characters, the only difference is that it's set at a holiday camp in the Caribbean because, well, why the hell not? The cast and crew wanted a free holiday, it would seem.
Jennifer Love Hewitt and her chums win the holiday when she phones a radio call-in show with the (incorrect) answer. They then swan about in paradise, singing karaoke and getting drunk, before their vacation turns into a nightmare when a serial killer pursues them.
Not only is this film stupid, it's insultingly stupid. Only recommended to those who don't know what the capital of Brazil is.

I, TONYA (15)

D: Craig Gillespie

Neon/Clubhouse/Luckychap (Tom Ackerley, Margot Robbie, Steven Rogers & Bryan Unkeless)

US 2017

119 mins


W: Steven Rogers

DP: Nicolas Karakatsanis

Ed: Tatiana S. Riegel

Mus: Peter Nashel

Margot Robbie (Tonya Harding), Sebastian Stan (Jeff Gillooly), Allison Janney (Lavona Golden), Julianne Nicholson (Diane Rawlinson), Caitlin Carver (Nancy Kerrigan)

I, Tonya takes a unique approach to its source material, almost embracing a mockumentary-style to present this biopic of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding and her huge controversial career and the scandal surrounding the 1994 Winter Olympics.

The film opens with the cast members delivering documentary-style interviews and repeatedly breaks the fourth wall with its deliverance of differing versions of the truth, headed by Margot Robbie with her career-best performance. 

Coming from an unprivileged background and lacking the money to enhance her career, Tonya Harding had to make it on talent alone, but in a sporting discipline where competitors were also judged on presentation, she was always going to find it an uphill struggle, especially when her competition used classic music in their routines while "Trashy Tonya" stuck with rock & roll and film soundtracks.

Nevertheless, Tonya Harding was a talented athlete, and for a brief moment, was the United States biggest hope for Olympic Gold... until her position was usurped by rival Nancy Kerrigan, whose chances of making the 1994 Olympics were put on standby when an assailant hired by Harding's husband attacked her during a practice session. A vicious attack which Tonya Harding has always denied pre-knowledge Of and the film unfolds in a way for the viewer to make up their own mind whether she's guilty of involvement.

Margot Robbie is absolutely brilliant in the title role, but it has to be said that she's upstaged at every turn by Allison Janney as her abusive, potty-mouthed mother. All the other performances are fine, but a lot of credit also belongs to the director, writer and especially the editor who seamlessly blends VFX and stunt doubles for the exhilarating skating scenes.

A huge breakthrough film for an up-and-coming production company.


D: Chris Wedge & Carlos Saldanha
20th Century Fox/Blue Sky (Lori Forte)
US 2002
81 mins


W: Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson & Peter Ackerman
Mus: David Newman

voices of: Ray Romano (Manny), John Leguizamo (Sid), Denis Leary (Diego), Goran Visnijc (Soto), Jack Black (Zeke), Diedrich Bader (Oscar)

During the prehistoric ice age, a woolly mammoth, a sloth and a sabre-toothed tiger become friends and aim to return an infant child back to its tribe. Meanwhile, a squirrel is on it's own quest to find some nuts.
The filmmakers did a good job with this, keeping it fun for kids (and, of course, adults who are kids-at-heart) when they could have taken the ecological sermon route. The subplot involving the squirrel is the main comic relief and the animation is as good as can be expected.

D: Carlos Saldanha
20th Century Fox/Blue Sky (Lori Forte)
US 2006
90 mins


W: Peter Gaulke, Gerry Swallow & Jim Hecht
Mus: John Powell

voices of: Ray Romano (Manny), John Leguizamo (Sid), Denis Leary (Diego), Seann William Scott (Crash), Josh Peck (Eddie), Queen Latifah (Ellie)

The main storyline in this first sequel to Ice Age gets a little annoying at times, as Manny the Mammoth discovers a female of his species- the problem is that she thinks she's a meerkat, and is hesitant to leave her 'family' when the ice shelves begin to break due to a warming climate.
Scrat returns as the nut-seeking squirrel, and once again provides the film's much funnier moments.

D: Carlos Saldanha & Mike Thurmeier
20th Century Fox/Blue Sky (Lori Forte & John C. Donkin)
US 2009
94 mins


W: Michael Berg, Peter Ackerman, Mike Reiss & Yoni Brenner
Mus: John Powell

voices of: Ray Romano (Manny), John Leguizamo (Sid), Denis Leary (Diego), Queen Latifah (Ellie), Seann William Scott (Crash), Josh Peck (Eddie), Simon Pegg (Buck)

Clearly dinosaurs make an appearance in this Ice Age adventure, which isn't anywhere near as fun as the previous two movies (mostly because Scrat the Squirrel doesn't feature as heavily).
Enjoyable enough for youngsters, but a little on the annoying side for an older audience, especially with the addition of a new character (voiced by Simon Pegg).

D: Steve Martino & Mike Thurmeier
20th Century Fox/Blue Sky (Lori Forte & John C. Donkin)
US 2012
88 mins


W: Michael Berg & Jason Fuchs
Mus: John Powell

voices of: Ray Romano (Manny), John Leguizamo (Sid), Denis Leary (Diego), Queen Latifah (Ellie), Jennifer Lopez (Shira), Nicki Minaj (Steffie), Drake (Ethan)

Although ecologically-aware themes were only on the periphery of the first three movies, the theme is completely cast aside for this fourth Ice Age movie, easily the weakest of the franchise, as it seems happy to settle on being a pirate movie. Kids will love it, but with each film in the series, the interest for adults will wane.
Personally, I could watch the adventures of Scrat, the nut-seeking squirrel for ages and am secretly demanding a "Scrat: The Movie". All the Ice Age movies would be far less entertaining if it weren't for his shenanigans.
It also has to be mentioned that the closing credit song in this film contains possibly the worst use of autotune ever. It may actually want you to tear your ears off!
Dear Ice Age producers, put the mammoth, sloth and sabre-tooth tiger out to pasture and give us a full-length squirrel movie! 

"Kiss your ice goodbye."
"Kiss your ice goodbye."


D: Mike Thurmeier

20th Century Fox/Blue Sky (Lori Forte)

US 2016

94 mins


W: Michael J. Wilson, Michael Berg & Yoni Brenner

Mus: John Debney

Ray Romano (Manny), John Leguizamo (Sid), Denis Leary (Diego), Simon Pegg (Buck), Adam DeVine (Julian), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Shangri Llama)

It may well be time for 20th Century Fox animation studios to give up on this. It's clear that all avenues have been exhausted when this fifth Ice Age movie opens with Scrat the Squirrel finding a spaceship and launching himself into outer space, subsequently creating the Big Bang (don't think about it too much, the writers obviously didn't.)

The opening mischief sets up a domino effect, causing a deadly meteor to career towards planet Earth, and it's down to Manny the Mammoth and his chums to stop it.

The horse is being well and truly flogged here. There isn't even any ice in this movie. Even the target audience of the under-sixes might become restless by this one. Unfortunately, it was a hit at the box office, so it's likely that a sixth will be scraped from the barrel. Some things really need to be extinct.


D: Ang Lee
Fox Searchlight/Good Machine (Ted Hope, James Schamus & Ang Lee)
US 1997
113 mins


W: James Schamus [based on the novel by Rick Moody]
DP: Frederick Elmes
Ed: Tim Squyres
Mus: Mychael Danna
PD: Mark Friedburg

Kevin Kline (Ben Hood), Joan Allen (Elena Hood), Henry Czerny (George Clair), Adam Hann-Byrd (Sandy Carver), Tobey Maguire (Paul Hood), Christina Ricci (Wendy Hood), Elijah Wood (Mikey Carvey), Jamey Sheridan (Jim Carver), Sigourney Weaver (Janey Carver)

1970's-set soap opera set involving the lives & infidelities of middle class New England families, Kevin Kline and Joan Allen are an (unhappily) married couple, Allen is unaware that Kline is nipping next-door for a quick bonk with Sigourney Weaver, meanwhile, their kids (Elijah Wood, Christina Ricci) are experiencing their own sexual awakening.
The Ice Storm is modesty directed and very well written, with an ensemble of good performances, though Sigourney Weaver is arguably the standout, although Ricci comes close second. 

"Identity is a secret. Identity is a mystery. Identity is a killer."
"Identity is a secret. Identity is a mystery. Identity is a killer."
D: James Mangold
Columbia (Cathy Konrad)
US 2003
90 mins


W: Michael Cooney
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: David Brenner
Mus: Alan Silvestri

John Cusack (Ed Dakota), Ray Liotta (Sam Rhodes), Amanda Peet (Paris Nevada), John Hawkes (Larry Washington), Alfred Molina (Dr. Malick), Clea Duvall (Ginny Isiana), John C. McGinley (George York), Jake Busey (Robert Maine), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Malcolm Rivers)

During a night of heavy rainfall, a group of strangers are left stranded at an isolated roadside motel where they are picked off one-by-one by an apparent serial killer.
Identity tries far too hard to be complex and clever with its plot twists, and despite being quite well executed visually, it leaves enough loose ends to trip itself over with. There's a handful of good performances and will keep you guessing throughout, although the ending is far from satisfactory, completely out of identity from everything that came before. Still, it's a unique twist on a derivative variant on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (qv).

"Is this man our next president?"
"Is this man our next president?"
D: George Clooney
Columbia/Smokehouse/Appian Way (George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Brian Oliver)
US 2011
101 mins


W: George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon [based on the novel "Farragut North" by Beau Willimon]
DP: Phedon Papamichael 
Ed: Stephen Mirrione
Mus: Alexandre Desplat

Ryan Gosling (Stephen Meyers), George Clooney (Mike Morris), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Paul Zara), Paul Giamatti (Tom Duffy), Evan Rachel Wood (Molly Stearns), Marisa Tomei (Ida Horowicz), Jeffrey Wright (Franklin Thompson)

The Ides of March is an America-centric political drama set during an unspecified election year.
An idealistic young staffer for a presidential candidate gets thrown into the deep end of dirty politics, backstabbing and bribery while working on the campaign.
Like many films of its ilk, it's a film which will mean more on American shores than overseas, but fantastic performances from an impressive ensemble cast and a great script of zesty, poisonous dialogue make this an entertaining watch, although the finished product is not particularly memorable.
"Which side will you be on?"
"Which side will you be on?"
IF... (15)
D: Lindsay Anderson
Memorial (Michael Medwin & Lindsay Anderson)
UK 1968
110 mins


W: David Sherwin
DP: Miroslav Ondricek
Ed: David Gladwell
Mus: Marc Wilkinson

Michael McDowell (Mick Travis), David Wood (Johnny), Richard Warwick (Wallace), Christine Noonan (The Girl), Robert Swann (Rowntree)

If... is an allegorical story of political uprising, peppered with references to figures such as Che Guevara, posters of whom are scattered around the set dressing.
Set at a strict boys boarding school where intellectual achievement is despised and status is dependent wholly on privilege, one of the rebellious students, Mick Travers, declares guerrilla war on the hierarchy, culminating in a finale which would have deemed incredibly violent when the film premiered in 1968 (it actually received an X rating at the time).
Director Lindsay Anderson takes a very formal approach to the majority of scenes set in the staid academy, but intersects it with dreamy sequences shot in stark black & white. Malcolm McDowell gives a solid performance in one of his early roles, and it's easy to see from this film why he was a perfect choice for A Clockwork Orange (qv).
The title is a reference to a Rudyard Kipling poem.

D: Terry Gilliam
Sony Pictures Classics/Lions Gate (Samuel Hadida, William Vince, Amy Gilliam & Terry Gilliam)
UK/Canada/France 2009
123 mins


W: Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown
DP: Nicola Pecorini
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna
PD: David Warren & Anastasia Masaro
Cos: Monique Prudhomme

Heath Ledger (Tony), Christopher Plummer (Doctor Parnassus), Lily Cole (Valentina), Verne Troyer (Percy), Andrew Garfield (Anton), Tom Waits (Mr. Nick), Johnny Depp (Imaginarium Tony #1), Jude Law (Imaginarium Tony #2), Colin Farrell (Imaginarium Tony #3)

A travelling circus wow their audiences by transporting them into a world of magic and wonder.
This film is a trip into the vivid imagination of Terry Gilliam- nothing more, nothing less.     
The narrative to this movie is a huge mess, certainly not helped by the passing of Heath Ledger halfway through filming and Gilliam did an excellent job completing the film without the actor, utilising the talents of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to represent the character within the alternative universes inside the imaginarium.
Entertaining enough, but don't expect it to make too much sense.
"The true enigma was the man who cracked the code."
"The true enigma was the man who cracked the code."
D: Morten Tyldum
The Weinstein Company/Black Bear (Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky & Teddy Schwarzman)
US/UK 2014
114 mins


W: Graham Moore [based on the book "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges]
DP: Oscar Faura
Ed: William Goldenberg
Mus: Alexandre Desplat

Benedict Cunberbatch (Alan Turing), Keira Knightley (Joan Clarke), Matthew Goode (Hugh Alexander), Rory Kinnear (Detective Nock), Charles Dance (Cdr. Alastair Denniston), Mark Strong (Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies)

Based on the true story of Alan Turing, a (possibly aspergic) mathematician whose machine design broke the enigma code and decyphered German messages during WWII. 
This biopic favours a non-linear narrative, juggling Turing's post-war days as a gay recluse investigated by the police for his lifestyle and his Cambridge schooldays as a bullied child prodigy along with the meat of the story in which he overcomes being ostracised by his colleagues and military superiors by getting his expensive machine into action and winning the heart of a beautiful belle (played by Keira Knightley) to hide his homosexuality. Much drama also comes when Turing's machine finally does deliver the goods, only for the team to not be able to take action yet in fear of the German's discovering that their secret codes had been cracked.
There's a clear Hollywood influence in the film, presenting it all as truth when it's obvious that some things had been added or omitted for dramatic effect, and there's barely any credit given to the brave soldiers on the battlefield, instead attributing all the credit to one man for winning the war. The tail end of the film focuses solely on Turing's homosexuality, which should have served as a subplot only.
Despite these tiny gripes, Benedict Cumberbatch delivers an excellent performance as the 'odd duck', and the supporting cast are also incredibly good (especially Knightley, in her best work since Atonement).

D: Juan Antonio Boyona
Warner Bros./Summit/Apaches (Álvaro Augustin, Belen Atienza & Enrique Lopez Lavigne)
Spain/US 2012
113 mins


W: Sergio G. Sanchez
DP: Oscar Faura
Ed: Elena Ruiz & Bernat Vilaplana
Mus: Fernando Velázquez

Naomi Watts (Maria Bennett), Ewan McGregor (Henry Bennett), Tom Holland (Lucas Bennett), Oaklee Pendergast (Simon Bennett), Geraldine Chaplin (The Old Woman)

The Impossible follows the quite remarkable true story of a family torn apart and their determination to find one another again following the aftermath of the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 in South East Asia.
Visually arresting and emotionally dramatic, Naomi Watts and Tom Holland deliver brilliant performances as the mother & son fighting against Mother Nature to be reunited with the rest of their family (McGregor & Pendergast).
The tsunami scene is one of tremendous awe, ripping through the holiday resort and bringing death to thousands, but the film loses some of this impact by solely focusing on one particular family rather than the event as a whole. It remains a haunting watch, but loses a little of its emotional power due to it's low-key approach. The direction falls a bit flat around two-thirds of the way through, when it becomes less of a survival tale and more a docudrama about the healthcare struggle to help the casualties and victims. Despite this, it's an excellent recreation of daunting real-life events.
"A new home. A new life. Seen through eyes that see everything."
"A new home. A new life. Seen through eyes that see everything."
D: Jim Sheridan
20th Century Fox (Jim Sheridan & Arthur Lappin)
US/UK/Ireland 2003
105 mins


W: Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan & Kirsten Sheridan
DP: Declan Quinn
Ed: Naomi Geraghty
Mus: Gavin Friday & Maurice Seezer

Samantha Morton (Sarah), Paddy Considine (Johnny), Sarah Bolger (Christy),Emma Bolger (Ariel), Djimon Hounsou (Mateo)

A genuinely beautiful and movie drama about a family of Irish immigrants struggling to settle in America.
Samantha Morton's hard work in supporting roles previously is rewarded with a strong lead performance, one which earned her a deserved Best Actress Oscar nomination. She plays the matriarch of the struggling family, married to emotionless Paddy Considine and mother to their two girls Christy & Ariel. The two Irish girls who play the children are real-life sisters and their performances are quite excellent for two young actresses, while Djimon Hounsou is also brilliant as their mysterious neighbour who harbours a painful secret. Director/co-writer Jim Sheridan based this film on his own childhood memories and it's a very special film indeed, with flawless performances and some fine music from Gavin Friday & Maurice Seezer.

"It's in Belgium."
"It's in Belgium."
D: Martin McDonagh
Universal (Graham Broadbent & Pete Czernin)
UK/Belgium 2008
107 mins


W: Martin McDonagh
DP: Eigil Bryld
Ed: Jon Gregory
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Michael Carlin

Colin Farrell (Ray), Brendan Gleeson (Ken Daley), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Waters), Clemence Poésy (Chloe Villette), Jeremie Rénier (Eirik), Jordan Prentice (Jimmy), Ciaran Hinds (The Priest)

Colin Farrell & Brendan Gleeson play two disgraced gangsters sent to the town of Bruges (it's in Belgium) by their mobster boss Ralph Fiennes (doing his best impression of Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast) while he decides what action to take.
Gleeson is enjoying the break, taking in the wealth of art and culture, whilst Farrell is moping around, incredibly bored, spending his evenings getting drunk, snorting cocaine, trying to romance a local lady (Clemence Poésy) and striking up a friendship with a racist dwarf.
The film is incredibly political incorrect, even going as far as comparing the Belgian town with purgatory. One of very few movies for which the genre classification "black comedy" is particularly apt, containing great performances and some very funny one-liners (although some will most certainly offend the PC brigade).

D: Richard Brooks
Columbia (Richard Brooks)
US 1967
134 mins


W: Richard Brooks [based on the novel by Truman Capote]
DP: Conrad L. Hall
Ed: Peter Zinner
Mus: Quincy Jones

Robert Blake (Perry Smith), Scott Wilson (Dick Hickock), John Forsythe (Alvin Dewey), Paul Stewart (Jensen), Gerald S. O'Laughlin (Harold Nye), John Gallaudet (Roy Church), James Flavin (Clarence Duntz), Jeff Corey (Mr. Hickock), Charles McGraw (Mr. Smith)

A chilling true story is brought to the screen with stark realism in this 1967 crime drama.
Based on the classic novel by Truman Capote, it tells of two young hoodlums, one fresh from prison who commit murder over a farmer and his family over the robbery of only $40. 
They try to escape to Mexico but the authorities catch them and they are both sentenced to death by hanging.
Despite it's cold portrayal of the two men, the movie examines the importance of a fair and just legal system, especially considering one of the guilty men had already served time for murder and was given parole only to commit again.

"A thousand thrills... And Hayley Mills!"
"A thousand thrills... And Hayley Mills!"
D: Robert Stevenson
Disney (Hugh Attwooll)
UK 1961
100 mins


W: Lowell S. Hawley [based on the novel "Captain Grant's Children" by Jules Verne]
DP: Paul Beeson
Ed: Gordon Stone
Mus: William Alwyn
PD: Michael Stringer

Maurice Chevalier (Jacques Paganel), Hayley Mills (Mary Grant), George Sanders (Thomas Ayerton), Wilfred Hyde-White (Lord Glenarvan), Wilfrid Brambell (Bill Gaye)

Engaging children's adventure which starts off quite realistically but then builds into complete fantasy. 
With the aid of a jaunty, eccentric professor, three children seek their father, an explorer who is lost somewhere in South America.
As far as geography lessons go, this film may well have taken place in the wonderful world of Oz, but for clean, wholesome entertainment of the Disney variety you could do a hell of a lot worse.
It hasn't dated particularly well with elements of the production, visual effects, etc., but it's unlikely that the young audience this is aimed at will care.

"A young man. An older woman. Her ex-husband. Things are about to explode..."
"A young man. An older woman. Her ex-husband. Things are about to explode..."
D: Todd Field
Miramax/Greene Street/Good Machine (Graham Leader, Ross Katz & Todd Field)
US 2001
138 mins


W: Rob Festinger & Todd Field [based on the story "Killings" by Andre Dubus]
DP: Antonio Calvache
Ed: Frank Reynolds
Mus: Thomas Newman

Sissy Spacek (Ruth Fowler), Tom Wilkinson (Matt Fowler), Nick Stahl (Frank Fowler), Marisa Tomei (Natalie Strout), William Mapother (Richard Strout)

A powerful and emotional drama about a middle class married couple in a small New England community trying to cope with grief following the murder of their only son.
Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek & Marisa Tomei are nothing short of brilliant and the final 20-30 minutes of the film are intensely gripping, transferring seamlessly from drama to thriller. 
There's a few moments in the middle of the second act which drag a tad, but overall this a thoroughly recommended piece of independent film.

D: Jane Campion
Pathé (Laurie Parker & Nicole Kidman)
US/Australia 2003
119 mins


W: Jane Campion & Susanna Moore [based on the novel by Susanna Moore]
DP: Dion Beebe
Ed: Alexandre de Francheschi
Mus: Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson

Meg Ryan (Frannie Avery), Mark Ruffalo (Det. Giovanni Malloy), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Pauline), Nick Damici (Det. Richard Rodriguez)

Meg Ryan's first film after becoming "cosmetically enhanced" is a rather convuluted, sometimes pretentious attempt at a feminist spin on a serial killer film.
The performances are generally decent and the cinematography is outstanding, taking on a modern film noir style, but the final result isn't particularly remarkable or especially memorable.

D: Ron Howard
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow (Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Will Ward, Joe Roth & Paula Weinstein)
US/Spain 2015
121 mins


W: Charles Leavitt, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver [based on the book by Nathaniel Philbrick]
DP: Anthony Dod Mantle
Ed: Dan Hanley & Mike Hill
Mus: Roque Baños

Chris Hemsworth (Owen Chase), Benjamin Walker (Capt. George Pollard), Cillian Murphy (Matthew Joy), Tom Holland (Young Thomas Nickerson), Ben Whishaw (Herman Melville), Brendan Gleeson (Old Thomas Nickerson)

Based on a book which depicts events which themselves inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick, In The Heart Of The Sea is a tale of survival at sea set in the early 1800's, where a whaling ship is capsized following an encounter with the massive creature, leaving the crew cast adrift in the heart of the sea.
It's quite apt that Ron Howard directed, since the story is a 19th century version of Apollo 13, although far more boring.
Good to look at, it may be, with fine production design, cinematography and visual effects, but it really is a bore to sit through. Even listening is quite a torture, mostly because of Chris Hemsworth's terrible accent of a New England sea captain.

D: Norman Jewison
United Artists (Walter Mirisch)
US 1967
109 mins


W: Stirling Silliphant [based on the novel by John Ball]
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Hal Ashby
Mus: Quincy Jones

Sidney Poitier (Virgil Tibbs), Rod Steiger (Bill Gillespie), Warren Oates (Sam Wood), Quentin Dean (Delores Purdy), James Patterson (Purdy), William Schallert (Webb Schubert), Jack Teter (Philip Colbert), Lee Grant (Mrs. Leslie Colbert)

A true classic of cinema, winning the Best Picture Oscar in a very competitive year (beating The Graduate, amongst others).
Sidney Poitier plays homicide detective Virgil Tibbs, who finds himself investigating a murder in a small Mississippi town populated with racists, including bigoted Chief of Police Bill Gillespie (an excellent Oscar winning performance from Rod Steiger).
An important film for its era with a message which is just as relevant today.

D: Wolfgang Petersen
Columbia/Rose/Castle Rock (Jeff Apple)
US 1993
123 mins


W: Jeff Maguire
DP: John Bailey
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: Ennio Morricone
PD: Lilly Kilvert

Clint Eastwood (Frank Horrigan), John Malkovich (Mitch Leary), Rene Russo (Lilly Raines), Dylan McDermott (Al D'Andrea), Gary Cole (Bill Watts), Fred Dalton Thompson (Harry Sargent), John Mahoney (Sam Campagna)

30 years after he failed to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, secret service agent Frank Horrigan uncovers a new plot to assassinate the president, this time by an ex-CIA hitman and expert master of disguise.
Great performances and a brilliantly written script fly this far above the average cat-and-mouse thriller, with John Malkovich bringing humanity and intellect to a psychopathic character. Clint Eastwood also brings much charisma to the part of Horrigan, a veteran agent well into his twilight years. If released in a different year, it's quite possible this film could have snagged a few Oscars (it received 3 nominations including Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Malkovich).

D: Armando Ianucci
Optimum/IFC/BBC (Adam Tandy & Kevin Loader)
UK 2009
109 mins


W: Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci & Tony Roche [based on the BBC television series "The Thick Of It"]
DP: Jamie Cairney
Ed: Ant Boys & Billy Sneddon

Peter Capaldi (Malcolm Tucker), Tom Hollander (Simon Foster), Gina McKee (Judy Malloy), James Gandolfini (Lt. Gen. George Miller), Chris Addison (Toby Wright)

Perhaps it's necessary to have seen the BBC satire 'The Thick Of It' to fully appreciate this big-screen transition. It also helps if you're politically inclined, or at least have a fair understanding.
If not, it's still possible to enjoy the cynical characters spouting their acerbic dialogue, especially from actor Peter Capaldi, who steals every single moment of this film. Some people won't get it, but others will find it absolutely hilarious.
D: John Carpenter 
New Line (Sandy King)
US 1995
95 mins


W: Michael DeLuca
DP: Gary B. Kibbe
Ed: Edward Warschilka
Mus: John Carpenter & Jim Lang

Sam Neill (John Trent), Julie Carmen (Linda Styles), Jürgen Prochnow (Sutter Cane), Charlton Heston (Jackson Harglow), David Warner (Dr. Wrenn)

Insurance agent Sam Neill investigates the disappearance of a best-selling horror novelist in a small town, but soon experiences nightmarish visions and discovers that he can't seem to escape beyond the town borders.
It soon emerges that those who have read the novelists books begin to lose their sanity.
Twilight Zone stuff, far from director John Carpenter's best works, although there are some good visual effects and some effectively creepy moments, though it's not especially memorable.

"Falsely accused. Wrongly imprisoned. He fought for justice to clear his father's name."
"Falsely accused. Wrongly imprisoned. He fought for justice to clear his father's name."
D: Jim Sheridan
Universal/Hell's Kitchen (Jim Sheridan)
UK/Ireland 1993
127 mins


W: Jim Sheridan & Terry George [based in the autobiography "Proved Innocent" by Gerry Conlon]
DP: Peter Biziou
Ed: Gerry Hambling
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: Caroline Amies

Daniel Day-Lewis (Gerald Conlon), Pete Postlethwaite (Giuseppe Conlon), Emma Thompson (Gareth Pierce), John Lynch (Paul Hill), Joanna Irvine (Ann Conlon), Corin Redgrave (Robert Dixon), Britta Smith (Anne Maguire)

Based on the true story of Gerry Conlon and the Guildford Four, framed by police who desperately needed a scapegoat for an IRA pub bombing in the Surrey town in 1974. Sentenced to life imprisonment, Gerry Conlon and his father Giuseppe fight to clear their names, and even when the real guilty men are found, police still keep the evidence to acquit them a secret, while the Ulstermen's solicitor Gareth Pierce continues to dig for answers.
The trio of performances from Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson are all fantastic and director Jim Sheridan presents a harsh and realistic portrayal of a life behind bars, police brutality and corruption. Thoroughly recommended.

D: Alexandre Rockwell
Will Alliance/Pandora/Why Not/Odessa/Alta/Mikado (Jim Stark & Hank Blumenthal)
US/Japan/Germany/France 1992
93 mins


W: Alexandre Rockwell
DP: Phil Parmet
Ed: Dana Congdon
Mus: Mader

Steve Buscemi (Adolpho Rollo), Seymour Cassel (Joe), Jennifer Beals (Angelica Pena), Will Patton (Skippy), Jim Jarmusch (Monty), Sam Rockwell (Paulie)

A cult indie black comedy with Steve Buscemi & Seymour Cassel on top form. Buscemi plays a budding screenwriter and director obsessed with making his pretentious 500-page screenplay and finally gets the backing from local mobster Cassel, who uses Buscemi as an accessory to gain the funds by illicit means.
Though the story may owe a little inspirational debt to Neil Simon's The Odd Couple it sure is a must-watch for budding filmmakers.
Seymour Cassel absolutely steals the movie, which also features an impressive acting performance from Jennifer Beals.

"Sometimes the truth is best left buried."
"Sometimes the truth is best left buried."


D: Paul Haggis

Warner Independent/Summit/NALA (Patrick Wachsberger, Steven Samuels, Darlene Caamaño Loquet, Laurence Becsey & Paul Haggis)

US 2007

121 mins


W: Paul Haggis & Mark Boal [based on the article "Death & Dishonor" by Mark Boal]

DP: Roger Deakins

Ed: Jo Francis

Mus: Mark Islam

Tommy Lee Jones (Hank Deerfield), Charlize Theron (Det. Emily Sanders), Susan Sarandon (Joan Deerfield), Jonathan Tucker (Mike Deerfield), James Franco (Sgt. First Class Dan Carnelli), Josh Brolin (Sheriff Buchwald), Jason Patric (First Lt. Kirklander), Frances Fisher (Eve)

The title of this crime mystery takes its name from the location where David slew Goliath in common folklore, referenced to in the movie during one of its particularly memorable scenes.

Based on a true story, Tommy Lee Jones stars as Hank Deerfield, a retired military investigator who receives the news that his son has been reported AWOL. He travels to the barracks in New Mexico and soon after his son's charred and dismembered body is discovered in the deserted outskirts of town. Hank pushes himself into the investigation, overseen by rookie detective Emily Sanders and both become involved in a judicial struggle between the local police and the military.

Paul Haggis' follow up to Crash features some powerful performances, especially from Jones in an Oscar-nominated role, as well as containing a strong anti-war message.


"Tomorrow is a luxury you can't afford."
"Tomorrow is a luxury you can't afford."
IN TIME (12)
D: Andrew Niccol
20th Century Fox/New Regency/Strike (Andrew Niccol, Marc Abraham, Amy Israel, Kristel Laiblin & Eric Newman)
US 2011
109 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Thriller

W: Andrew Niccol
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Zach Staenberg
Mus: Craig Armstrong

Justin Timberlake (Will Salas), Amanda Seyfried (Sylvia Wells), Cillian Murphy (Raymond Leon), Alex Pettyfer (Fortis), Matt Bomer (Henry Hamilton), Olivia Wilde (Rachel Salas), Johnny Galecki (Borel)

A unique, futuristic twist on Robin Hood-Bonnie & Clyde folklore from Andrew Niccol, writer of Gattaca & The Truman Show, amongst others.
Set in the near future where humans are genetically-engineered to no longer age, instead their lives are dependent on the currency of time, a digital timer on their wrists, counting down by the second. The super-rich have decades, whilst the poorer people have mere hours, creating a huge segregation in society. 
When he has a great deal of time given to him by a depressed playboy, Will (Timberlake), travels through the timezones to experience how the richer half of the populace live, but arouses suspicion from police officers, named 'timekeepers', who suspect him of foul play. He goes on the run with a rich businessman's daughter, robbing 'timebanks' to give more life to those who need it most.
Though the concept is original, it also has many flaws and lacks feasibility, even in the genre of science fiction. Justin Timberlake emerges as a promising new action hero, but Amanda Seyfried is terribly miscast. Good entertainment, though if it emerged from the mind of Philip K. Dick it may have had the potential to be much better.
D: Noel Coward & David Lean
British Lion/Two Cities (Noel Coward)
UK 1942
114 mins


W: Noel Coward
DP: Ronald Neame
Ed: Thelma Myers & David Lean
Mus: Noel Coward

Noel Coward (Capt. Kinross), John Mills (Shorty Blake), Bernard Miles (Walter Hardy), Celia Johnson (Alix Kinross), Kay Walsh (Freda Lewis)

The story of a WWII destroyer told in a series of flashback vignettes from the point of view of a group of survivors lost at sea after the boat was sunk by an enemy torpedo.
Based partly on the experiences of Louis Mountbatten, this archetypal British flagwaver proved to be a hugely popular propaganda piece and though many elements are dated now, it found the perfect audience when it was released during wartime.
Considered to be the film which launched David Lean's career, it's more a labour of love for Noel Coward, who starred, produced, wrote, composed and co-directed.

D: Ben Palmer
Film4/Bwark (Christopher Young)
UK 2011
97 mins


W: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris [based on characters from the television show]
DP: Ben Wheeler
Ed: William Webb & Charlie Fawcett
Mus: Mike Skinner

Simon Bird (Will Mackenzie), James Buckley (Jay Cartwright), Blake Harrison (Neil Sutherland), Joe Thomas (Simon Cooper)

For those who haven't watched the TV show, The Inbetweeners was arguably the funniest British comedy to hit television screens in well over a decade. The misadventures of a group of senior school teenagers who are far from cool but aren't quite prefects either, doing the things regular teenagers do- badly.
The film really shouldn't be watched if you're unfamiliar with the series, as it follows on from the end of final series, with our four young gents embarking on their first lads holiday.
The big screen transition captures the general essence of the TV show but is all bigger, louder, faster, more. There's some funny moments, but the majority are just recycled from the original series and grossly exaggerated.
The TV show really deserved a fourth season rather than hitting the big screen, and there's no doubt it would have been funnier than what's offered here, which is very hit and miss.


D: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris
Film4/Bwark (Spencer Millman)
UK 2014
96 mins


W: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris [based on characters from the TV show]

Simon Bird (Will Mackenzie), James Buckley (Jay Cartwright), Blake Harrison (Neil Sutherland), Joe Thomas (Simon Cooper)

Since the first film to follow on from the TV series was such a box office success (on British shores at least), it was inevitable that another film was due.
Unfortunately, the comedy all goes South, quite literally, as the hapless teenage quartet venture off to Australia so one of them can reunite with a lost love.
There's some promise in the plot when the friends join a pretentious group of backpackers, but that's lost when they head off to the outback for an endless barrage of puerile shit & piss gags and low blows which pummel fond memories of the TV show into an unrecognisable pulp. 
The first film had its faults but at least it presented a believable (yet still over the top) set of circumstances which happen on a "lad's holiday", tying up all the loose ends from the excellent comedy series and even giving the much-loved characters their own happy endings.
This film ruined all that in the quest for a shameless cash grab, and would be far more respectable if it went with the title "Four Dickheads in Australia". 

"Your mind is the scene of the crime."
"Your mind is the scene of the crime."
D: Christopher Nolan
Warner Bros./Legendary/Syncopy (Emma Thomas & Christopher Nolan)
US 2010
142 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Thriller

W: Christopher Nolan
DP: Wally Pfister
Ed: Lee Smith
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Guy Hendrix Dyas

Leonardo DiCaprio (Dom Cobb), Ken Watanabe (Saito), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur), Ellen Page (Ariadne), Marion Cotillard (Mal Cobb), Tom Hardy (Eames), Cillian Murphy (Robert Michael Fischer), Tom Berenger (Peter Browning), Michael Caine (Prof. Stephen Miles), Pete Postlethwaite (Maurice Fischer)

Inception is one of those films where the less you know about it, the more you are rewarded, so if you've yet to see this picture stop reading now... Christopher Nolan's works often have a subplot of "the duality of man" from his breakthrough film, Memento, and throughout his revitalisation of the Batman franchise, all his films touch on the fragility of one's psyche and with this "dream thriller", the director-writer has truly outshone himself with what is arguably the best movie of 2010.
Set in the near future, dream thief Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) makes a living through the illegal activity of breaking into the minds of CEO businessmen, stealing their companies secrets to sell to rivals.
Wanted on US soil, he plies his trade mostly in Europe and Asia, and is hired by a Japanese businessman who wants a rival's business to fold, asking the question "Is Inception possible?", can the rival businessman have the idea put in his head to dissolve his business.
What follows is a deeply complex, intricate storyline involving the navigation of people's minds through the subconscious.  It may be a little too complicated for some people to easily follow, but the films begs to be watched more than once, whether it could be understood on its initial viewing or not. The style is rich on intelligent references to conceptual art (Esher) and labyrinthine mythology (Ariadne) and has production values par excellence, rich photography, faultless visual effects, haunting music from composer Hans Zimmer and clever use on the soundtrack of Edith Piaf's timeless song "No Regrets."
I, unfortunately, have one regret, and that is that I didn't experience this cinematic marvel on a bigger screen. The bigger, the better. A true modern classic which must be experienced.

D: Louis Leterrier
Universal (Avi Arad & Gale Anne Hurd)
US 2008
112 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Zak Penn & Edward Harrison [based on characters created by Stan Lee]
DP: Peter Menzies, Jr.
Ed: John Wright & Rick Shaine
Mus: Craig Armstrong

Edward Norton (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Liv Tyler (Betty Ross), Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky / Abomination), William Hurt (Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross), Tim Blake Nelson (Samuel Sterns)

A huge improvement on Ang Lee's psychologically-fixated 2003 film, but it still lacked enough action and an entertaining storyline to make it 'incredible'.
The onus here is more on tying the character into the then-upcoming Avengers movie, with Edward Norton taking on the role of Bruce Banner, a scientist who is transformed into the angry green giant through the help of military gamma rays.
The CGI special effects are incredibly well done in places, but the hulk itself still looks too much like a piece of technical wizardry rather than a living, breathing animal.
Arguably, this one of the weakest of the recent marvel comic book adaptations, and for many, the embodiment of the Hulk on the big screen will never be better than Lou Ferrigno's green giant in the cheesy 1980's TV series.
D: Jack Arnold
Universal (Albert Zugsmith)
US 1957
81 mins

Science Fiction

W: Richard Matheson [based on his novel "The Shrinking Man"]
DP: Ellis W. Carter
Ed: Al Joseph
Mus: Hans Salter

Grant Williams (Scott Carey), Randy Stuart (Louise Carey), April Kent (Clarice), Paul Langton (Charlie Carey)

After being exposed to a strange radioactive gas, a man shrinks gradually and inexorably to microscopic size.
The special effects feel dated by today's standards but can still be considered groundbreaking for the time.
The science fiction element of the story is well handed and the film treats us to an ending which Hollywood isn't brave enough to deliver in recent years. Based on the novel by Richard Matheson.

D: Brad Bird
Disney/Pixar (John Walker)
US 2004
115 mins


W: Brad Bird
Mus: Michael Giacchino

voices of: Craig T. Nelson (Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Helen Parr / Elastigirl), Samuel L. Jackson (Lucius Best / Frozone), Jason Lee (Buddy Pine / Syndrome), Sarah Vowell (Violet Parr), Spencer Fox (Dash Parr)

A decade on and still awaiting a sequel, Pixar's take on superhero movies certainly deserves one. 
It may lack the belly laughs which some of the animation giants other films may provide, but it certainly doesn't lack fun, adventure and excitement. 
The story follows a family of superheroes who are forced into retiring from saving the planet from crime and chaos, living their lives as normal civilians and keeping their superhero identities hidden, but the temptation becomes too much for the husband & father, Mr. Incredible, who goes out looking for crimes to solve and bad guys to thwart, but he bites off more than he can chew when he gets to grips with a super villain, a crazy scientist who once idolised all the superheroes as a boy, but now, with the aid of giant robots, is set on destroying all of them.
With her husband missing, "Elastigirl" and the kids spring into action to save Mr. Incredible, as well as saving the planet from certain doom.
The movie may not have done the business like the rest of the studio's output, but it still clawed in enough to justify another film, especially since it ended on such a cliffhanger.


D: Brad Bird

Disney/Pixar (John Walker & Nicole Paradis Grindle)

US 2018

125 mins


W: Brad Bird

Mus: Michael Giacchino

voices of: Craig T. Nelson (Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Helen Parr / Elastigirl), Sarah Vowell (Violet Parr), Huck Milner (Dash Parr), Samuel L. Jackson (Lucius Best / Frozone), Bob Odenkirk (Winston Deavor), Catherine Keener (Evelyn Deavor)

14 years after the original Incredibles movies comes this long-awaited sequel, bound to be amongst the biggest box office successes of 2018.

The story follows on directly from the cliffhanger ending from the original film, but doesn't take too long to go on a different direction altogether. The plot follows the Parr family, still living in secrecy due to a worldwide ban on superheroes, but this one includes some social justice politics which Disney seem to love shoving down everyone's throats, going by their recent output.

Bob Parr and his wife Helen are introduced to the Deavors, an entrepreneurial brother and sister team who aim to make superheroes legal again, but only want Elastigirl's help to do it, leaving Mr. Incredible at home to watch the children, making this practically a gender switch on the original film. Now, I have no problem that studios are trying to push strong female leads. After all, movies do need strong characters regardless of gender, but they're really pushing it too hard now, to the point that it's becoming forced. 

Despite the standard of animation being absolutely perfect and some genuinely funny laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of action scenes bound to excite, I did feel quite disappointed that, given the length of time between the two films, the best story they came up with was basically a retread of the original movie.

Rest assured, this is a highly entertaining animated film which the whole family will enjoy, but it simply isn't incredible.


"A husband. A wife. A billionaire. A proposal."
"A husband. A wife. A billionaire. A proposal."
D: Adrian Lyne
Paramount (Sherry Lansing)
US 1993
118 mins


W: Amy Holden Jones [based on the novel by Jack Englehard]
DP: Howard Atherton
Ed: Joe Hutshing
Mus: John Barry
PD: Mel Bourne

Robert Redford (John Gage), Demi Moore (Diana Murphy), Woody Harrelson (David Murphy), Seymour Cassel (Mr. Shackleford), Oliver Platt (Jeremy), Billy Bob Thornton (Day Tripper)

Glossy Hollywood bullshit which attempts to glamourise prostitution and has about as much credibility as a Jackie Collins novel.
Suave, yet creepy billionaire Robert Redford meets married couple Demi Moore & Woody Harrelson and offers a huge wad of money so he can get into her knickers. Classy.
Instead of punching the rich douchebag in the face, they actually consider his offer, justifying it with their own reasons before Moore belittles herself with the chance to make a cool million for one night of sex.
There's absolutely no chemistry between any of the characters and the acting is soap opera standard. Honeymoon In Vegas (qv) tackled a similar idea the previous year, but treated it as the obvious comedy that it is. This turns it into something cheap and tawdry and fails to explore or explain any issues that it raises. Woody Harrelson comes away from this car crash eliciting some sympathy, but only because his acting career deserved better than this.

"The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe has been answered."
"The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe has been answered."
D: Roland Emmerich
20th Century Fox/Centropolis (Dean Devlin) 
US 1996
146 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Adventure

W: Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich
DP: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Ed: David Brenner
Mus: David Arnold
PD: Patrick Tatopolous & Oliver Scholl

Will Smith (Capt. Steve Hiller), Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson), Bill Pullman (President Thomas Whitmore), Mary McDonnell (Marilyn Whitmore), Judd Hirsch (Julius Levinson), Robert Loggia (General William Grey), Randy Quaid (Russell Casse), Margaret Colin (Constance Spano), James Rebhorn (Albert Ninziki)

Independence Day is a profligate update on 1950's B-movies, complete with a storyline, characters and dialogue recycled from a 1970's disaster film.
Two days before America celebrate Independence Day, alien spacecraft surround the globe, destroying some of the planet's most iconic landmarks (The White House, Empire State Building, some skyscraper in Los Angeles).
In the days that follow, the American survivors of mankind devise a plan to strike back against the aliens while the English are sipping tea and all the other racial and cultural stereotypes are doing their usual.
Eccentric genius Jeff Goldblum solves the dilemma of how to beat them and after a truly cringeworthy speech from president Bill Pullman, the American's are inspired to lead the world into an Independence Day victory.  Yeah! Go America!!
What Roland Emmerich's science fiction extravaganza lacks in dialogue and characters, it makes up for in abundance with it's truly extraordinary visual effects.
Will Smith stepped from sitcom star to world star with his performance as an Air Force captain, but he's possibly the only star who can hold their head up proud over this. 
The film would have been vastly improved had it recognised that the United States is not the only country facing Armageddon.

"We had twenty years to prepare. So did they."
"We had twenty years to prepare. So did they."


D: Roland Emmerich

20th Century Fox/TSG/Centropolis (Dean Devlin, Harald Kloser & Roland Emmerich)

US 2016

120 mins

Science Fiction

W: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich & James Vanderbilt

DP: Markus Förderer

Ed: Adam Wolfe

Mus: Thomas Wander & Harald Kloser

Liam Hemsworth (Jake Morrison), Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson), Jessie Usher (Dylan Hiller), Bill Pullman (Thomas J. Whitmore), Maika Monroe (Patricia Whitmore), Sela Ward (President Elizabeth Lanford), William Fichtner (Joshua T. Adams), Judd Hirsch (Julian Levinson), Brent Spiner (Dr. Okun), Angelababy (Rain Lao)

Independence Day: Regurgitated would be a much more fitting title, although some may argue that this is a sequel that shouldn't exist at all.

Set in an alternative present day, 20 years after the events in the first film, mankind has rebuilt society and made improvements to Earth's defence using alien technology, this is all to no avail however when the mother of all motherships is on approach to teach humans who the real boss of the universe is, but it's only America that's in any real danger.

Will Smith bowed out of appearing in this sequel, possibly because the production couldn't afford his salary, but most likely because he didn't fancy the script. Nevertheless, his character's son steps into the shoes of a top gun pilot and characters from the original film are resurrected, often needlessly, especially in the case of Dr. Okun, in a coma for 20 years and awakens just to provide some pathetic comic relief. Judd Hirsch is also needlessly wasted, returning in a cameo role as Jeff Goldblum's incredibly Jewish father. Even Eve from Wall•E turns up to instruct us foolish peasants on how to defeat the evil alien species. 

The film is a blatant cash-grab, which isn't surprising considering how bankable the first film was, but what's less forgiving is how boring it is, with action scenes which feel lifted from the deleted scenes of any other doomsday film. Every single acting performance is laughably bad and the terrible CGI effects equally unconvincing.

The first Independence Day was far from perfect, but it was a fun update of 1950's B movies with some excellent crafted model effects, and though the dialogue was cheesy, the action films kept it entertaining. This sequel has absolutely nothing going for it and has to be considered as one of the worst films of 2016. It's certainly one of the most boring. The worst thing of all is that it even sets up a third movie... Hopefully a real alien attack will happen before production begins.


D: Steven Spielberg
Paramount/Lucasfilm (Robert Watts)
US 1984
118 mins


W: Gloria Katz & Willard Huyck [based on characters created by George Lucas & Philip Kaufman]
DP: Douglas Slocombe
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Elliot Scott
Cos: Anthony Powell

Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Kate Capshaw (Willie Scott), Ke Huy Quan (Short Round), Amrish Puri (Mola Ram), Roshan Seth (Chattar Lai), Philip Stone (Capt. Blumburtt), Roy Chiao (Lao Che), David Yip (Wu Han)

Preceding the events in Raiders Of The Lost Ark (qv), this prequel sends intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones to a remote Indian village after he narrowly escapes with his life in Shanghai, his young companion, Short Round, and a prissy showgirl in tow.
The villagers, living in poverty, blame their misfortunes on a satanic Thugee cult living in the catacombs of an ancient palace, stealing the village's magical stones as well as all their children.
The adventure from the previous film is turned up a notch, including some excessive horror for a PG-rated film (the infamous heart-ripping scene a prime example). Like Raiders, it's a fantastic tribute to Saturday afternoon adventure serials but unfortunately it does come with it's share of irritants, Kate Capshaw's odious performance one of them, and how Steven Spielberg got away with the casual racism remains a mystery (the filming actually had to take place in Sri Lanka after Indian authorities refused to approve of the script).
Watch out for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from Dan Aykroyd.

D: Steven Spielberg
Paramount/Lucasfilm (Robert Watts)
US 1989
127 mins


W: Jeffrey Boam [based on characters created by George Lucas & Philip Kaufman] 
DP: Douglas Slocombe
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Elliot Scott
Cos: Anthony Powell & Joanna Johnston

Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Sean Connery (Dr. Henry Jones), Denholm Elliott (Marcus Brody), Allison Doody (Dr. Elsa Schneider), John Rhys-Davies (Sallah), Julian Glover (Walter Donovan), River Phoenix (Young Indy)

Littered with mistakes, geographical errors, anachronisms and goofs, but still enormous fun.
Indiana Jones rescues his father (Connery) from Nazi clutches and goes on an adventure to locate the Holy Grail before the Third Reich.
Moving away from the occult fantasy of The Temple Of Doom in favour of religious artefacts makes for more family-orientated viewing much more in the spirit of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, even bringing back a few characters from the original film (Sallah, Marcus Brody).
Far-fetched but highly entertaining, this was the perfect conclusion to a trilogy of adventures. 

D: Steven Spielberg
Paramount/Lucasfilm (Frank Marshall)
US 2008
117 mins


W: David Koepp; George Lucas & Jeff Nathanson [based on characters created by George Lucas & Philip Kaufman]
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Guy Hendrix Dyas
Cos: Mary Zophres

Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Cate Blanchett (Irina Spalko), Karen Allen (Marion Williams), Ray Winstone (George McHale), John Hurt (Harold Oxley), Jim Broadbent (Charles Stanforth), Shia LaBeouf (Mutt Williams)

A sequel 20 years too late and feeling uncomfortably like an attempt to usurp the ageing Ford with Steven Spielberg's love-child Shia LaBeouf as the fedora-wearing archaeologist explorer.
After escaping from an atomic blast outside Area 51, Indiana Jones and his young companion travel to Peru on a hunt for an Incan crystal skull, pursued all the time by Russkies. 
There's a handful of entertaining moments as it attempts to recreate the excitement from the 1980's trilogy of films, but the final result is incredibly disappointing, proving that, not only is Harrison Ford too old for these shenanigans, but so is George Lucas, who not only wrote the story to this mess, but had passionate plans for it to be titled "Indiana Jones & The Saucer Men".
Steven Spielberg also proves that his filmmaking product has matured since 1989.
There's a fan theory that the majority of the film is a nuclear-dream which all takes place in Indiana Jones' head as he's dying of radiation poisoning while trapped in a fridge, which is far more feasible than all the alien bullshit.

"Loyalty. Honour. Betrayal."
"Loyalty. Honour. Betrayal."
D: Andrew Lau & Alan Mak
Metro Tartan (Andrew Lau)
Hong Kong 2002
101 mins


W: Alan Mak & Felix Chong
DP: Andy Lau & Lai Yiu-Fai
Ed: Danny Pang & Pang Ching-Hei
Mus: Chan Kwong-Wing

Tony Leung (Chen Wing-Yan), Andy Lau (Lau Kin-Ming), Anthony Wong (Wong Chi-Shing), Eric Tsang (Hon Sam), Chapman To (Crazy Keung), Kelly Chen (Dr. Lee Sum-Yee)

Infernal Affairs is a Hong Kong based crime thriller which was remade in the US as The Departed (qv).
This original is a good advert for oriental cinema, but its impact is certainly affected to those who've already watched Martin Scorsese's remake and know of the plot twists.
For those who've yet to see either film, the story sees an undercover cop posing as a member of triads, whilst a triad member is in deep with the police investigation unit of the operation. The two men endeavour to identify each other without letting their cover slip and discover their facade is difficult to keep secret.
On a personal level, I thought The Departed was the better film, simply because it delves deeper into the backgrounds of the principal characters and uses the addition of cynically acerbic dialogue and darkly comic humour, plus, of course, a deliciously OTT performance from Jack Nicholson as the mob boss.
You'll be grateful for watching both versions, as there will be some who'll prefer the raw energy of this original film.

"Based on a tattle-tale."
"Based on a tattle-tale."
D: Steven Soderbergh
Warner/Participant Media/Groundswell (Gregory Jacobs, Jennifer Fox, Michael Jaffe, Howard Braunstein & Kurt Eichenwald)
US 2009
108 mins


W: Scott Z. Burns [based on the book by Kurt Eichenwald]
DP: Peter Andrews (Steven Soderbergh)
Ed: Stephen Mirrione
Mus: Marvin Hamlisch

Matt Damon (Mark Whitacre), Scott Bakula (Brian Shepard), Joel McHale (Robert Herndon), Melanie Lynskey (Ginger Whitaker), Thomas F. Wilson (Mark Cheviron), Patton Oswalt (Ed Herbst)

The film isn't what you'd expect from the way the trailer promotes it, less a spy parody of zippy one-liners and more a comedy of business politics and embezzlement.
Matt Damon delivers a good lead performance, but the film itself isn't anything special.
"Greed is good. Sex is easy. Youth is forever."
"Greed is good. Sex is easy. Youth is forever."
D: Gregor Jordan
Senator (Marco Webber)
US 2008 (released 2009)
98 mins


W: Brett Easton Ellis & Nicholas Jarecki [based on the novel by Brett Easton Ellis]
DP: Petra Korner 
Ed: Robert Brakey
Mus: Christopher Young

Billy Bob Thornton (William Sloan), Kim Basinger (Laura Sloan), Winona Ryder (Cheryl Moore), Mickey Rourke (Peter), Brad Renfro (Jack), Amber Heard (Christie)

A collection of Brett Easton Ellis' short stories is brought to the screen in a compendium which is closer to Southland Tales than it is to Short Cuts.
Set in 1980's Los Angeles, it follows a group of alienated characters and their issues with casual sex, alcohol and drug addictions, but in a really boring way.
If you can stay awake through this, you've done very well.
D: Quentin Tarantino
Universal/TWC/A Band Apart (Lawrence Bender)
US/Germany 2009
147 mins


W: Quentin Tarantino
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Sally Menke
PD: David Wasco
Cos: Anna B. Sheppard

Brad Pitt (Lt. Aldo Raine), Melanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus / Emmanuelle Mimieux), Christoph Waltz (Col. Hans Landa), Michael Fassbender (Lt. Archie Hicox), Eli Roth (Sgt. Donny 'The Bear Jew' Donowitz), Diane Kruger (Bridget Von Hammersmark), Daniel Brühl (Pvt. Fredrick Zoller), Til Schweiger (Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz)

A busy mix of wartime action, cartoon violence, Nazi propaganda satire and lugubrious black comedy which can only be done by Quentin Tarantino, who brings the style of a western into a war movie, with Texan Brad Pitt and his apache-hunting commandos on a mission to scalp German soldiers. Meanwhile, a French-Jewish cinema owner is forced by officials to hold the premiere of a Nazi Propoganda film.
It wavers between genius and nonsense and plays fast & loose with historical facts but does it very well. Excellent acting from all involved, especially Christophe Waltz (a deserved winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar), Melanie Laurent & Diane Kruger.
D: Paul Thomas Anderson
Warner Bros/IAC/Ghoulardi/Ratpac-Dune (Paul Thomas Anderson, JoAnne Sellar & Daniel Lupi)
US 2014
149 mins


W: Paul Thomas Anderson [based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon]
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Leslie Jones
Mus: Jonny Greenwood
Cos: Mark Bridges

Joaquin Phoenix (Larry 'Doc' Sportello), Josh Brolin (Det. Christian 'Bigfoot' Bjornsen), Owen Wilson (Coy Harlingen), Katherine Waterston (Shasta Fay Hepworth), Reese Witherspoon (Penny Kimball), Jena Malone (Hope Harlingen), Benicio del Toro (Saucho Smilax)

Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel is a bizarre mix of film noir detective mystery and stoner comedy, a mix which will prove divisive with audiences, especially with its incomprehensible plot and weird collection of characters.
Set in Los Angeles during 1970, a pot-smoking Private Eye, Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) takes on three separate missing persons cases, all of which appear to involve his former girlfriend, and becomes embroiled in a world of narcotics-smuggling, people trafficking, police corruption and Manson-esque cults.
The film is purposefully difficult to follow, the story of the book making the transition to the big screen without being simplified, and while the style is beautiful to watch, with dedication to period detail and atmospheric cinematography, it feels almost like two-and-a-half hours of a surreal drug trip.
Similarities could be made with the style of 1991's Naked Lunch coupled with the humour of 1998's The Big Lebowski, but if you're not a fan of either of those two films, you probably won't like this either.

D: Joe Dante
Warner Bros./Amblin/Guber-Peters (Michael Finnell)
US 1987
120 mins

Science Fiction/Comedy

W: Jeffrey Boam & Chip Proser
DP: Andrew Laszlo
Ed: Kent Beyda
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith

Dennis Quaid (Lt. Tuck Pendleton), Martin Short (Jack Putter), Meg Ryan (Lydia Maxwell), Kevin McCarthy (Victor Scrimshaw), Fiona Lewis (Dr. Margaret Canker), Robert Picardo (The Cowboy), Vernon Wells (Mr. Igoe)

Fantastic Voyage for the 1980's.
A roguish Air Force pilot volunteers for a scientific experiment where he and his vessel are miniturised and injected into the bloodstream of a lab rabbit. However, he inadvertently ends up inside a supermarket clerk while a group of bad guys are on the chase to find the original vessel and steal the microchip which achieves miniturisation.
Innerspace is another 1980's film for which Steven Spielberg served as executive producer and his style is emblazoned across it. A curious mix of science fiction, adventure, comedy and romance which does work quite well, but is also a little childish in parts.
Dennis Quaid & Martin Short form a good double act despite rarely appearing on screen together and some of the visual effects are incredibly well realised.
"Do they ever return to possess the living?"
"Do they ever return to possess the living?"
D: Jack Clayton
20th Century Fox/Achilles (Jack Clayton)
UK 1961
99 mins


W: William Archibald & Truman Capote [based on the novel "The Turn Of The Screw" by Henry James]
DP: Freddie Francis
Ed: James B. Clark
Mus: Georges Auric
PD: Wilfred Shingleton

Deborah Kerr (Miss Giddens), Megs Jenkins (Mrs. Grose), Pamela Franklin (Flora), Martin Stephens (Miles), Peter Wyngarde (Peter Quint), Clytie Jessop (Miss Jessel), Michael Redgrave (The Uncle)

Based on the Henry James' novel "The Turn Of The Screw", The Innocents is a genius revamping on haunted house ghost stories starring the impeccably pure Deborah Kerr.
Set in Victorian England, Kerr plays spinster governess, Miss Giddens, who is hired to look after two orphan children at a secluded countryside estate. 
While looking after the children, she finds them more precocious than their age may suggest and that they are nowhere near as innocent as they appear to be.
Miss Giddens appears to see the ghostly figures of two people, a man and a woman, around the reclusive estate and discovers that they bare resemblance to two recently deceased members of staff who were in a sadomasochistic relationship with each other and she becomes convinced that these ghostly apparitions are corrupting the two young children.
The Innocents does an excellent job of playing tricks with the audiences mind, as you're constantly wrestling with whether these ghostly visions are real or if it's the lead character who's going mad and allowing her own repressed feelings to come forth. The film makes use of its eerie countryside locations, shadowy black & white photography, and particularly the creepy, atmospheric music (the song "O Willow Waly", which serves as introduction to the film, is incredibly sinister).
2001's The Others clearly took this film as inspiration and put a different twist on it, but this is still amongst the best and most original films of its kind. Certainly in the top 10 horror movies of the 1960's, when the genre was at its very peak.

D: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
CBS/Studio Canal (Scott Rudin, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)
US 2013
105 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
DP: Bruno Delbonnel
Ed: Roderick Jaynes (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)
Mus: T-Bone Burnett
PD: Jess Gonchor
Cos: Mary Zophres

Oscar Isaac (Llewyn Davis), Carey Mulligan (Jean Berkey), Justin Timberlake (Jim Berkey), John Goodman (Roland Turner), Adam Driver (Al Cody), Garrett Hedlund (Johnny Five), F. Murray Abraham (Bud Grossman)

The Coen Brothers are undoubtedly the masters of the shaggy dog story, but sometimes it's just the way you tell 'em, and that's where the filmmakers excel.
Inside Llewyn Davis is about a week in the life of a struggling New York folk singer during the early 1960's, trying to raise a buck in fleapit gigs and make money off his failing album, while dealing with domestic affairs.
Oscar Isaac does a brilliant job in a title role role which would probably have gone to Coen's stalwart John Turturro a decade ago (before he flushed his career down the toilet by appearing in the Transformers movies).
Davis' journey takes him from New York to Chicago, chasing his dream while he babysits his friend's cat which came into his possession by happenstance, while cameo appearances from John Goodman, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake give him other dilemmas to overcome. His singing isn't too shabby either.
The real assets of this film are the folk music soundtrack and Bruno Delbonnel's atmospheric cinematography, taking over the cameraman reins from the Coen's usual director of photography Roger Deakins, and perhaps claiming a stake to be the director's man for the job henceforth. His work makes this easily the 'best looking' film of the past year, despite the story not being the best. 
It's not an easy watch if you aren't a budding musician or a fan of the Coen Brothers' other movies, but most definitely worth watching if you are.
D: Spike Lee
Universal/Imagine (Brian Grazer)
US 2006
123 mins


W: Russell Gewirtz
DP: Matthew Libatique
Ed: Barry Alexander Brown
Mus: Terence Blanchard
PD: Wynn Thomas

Denzel Washington (Det. Keith Frazier), Clive Owen (Dalton Russell), Jodie Foster (Madeleine White), Christopher Plummer (Arthur Case), Willem Dafoe (Capt. John Darius), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Det. Bill Mitchell)

Spike Lee's multicultural heist thriller opens with Clive Owen breaking the fourth wall to address the audience with a claim that he has masterminded the perfect bank robbery. Denzel Washington is the detective assigned to prevent just that and what follows is a battle of wits, mind games and double-crossing which always keeps the audience guessing, especially with morally-ambiguous supporting characters thrown into the mix.
Elaborate, but quite brilliant, and without pushing the boundaries of feasibility, with great performances from its ensemble cast.
"Meet the little voices inside your head."
"Meet the little voices inside your head."
D: Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen
Disney/Pixar (Jonas Rivera)
US 2015
94 mins


W: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley
Mus: Michael Giacchino

voices of: Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Bill Hader (Fear), Lewis Black (Anger), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Richard Kind (Bing Bong), Kaitlyn Dias (Riley Andersen)

What's going on inside Riley's head?
Riley's emotions, personified as Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, control Riley's actions, and with Joy ruling the roost, it's all happy-go-lucky for the young girl. That is until her parents uproot from their hometown of Minnesota to a new house in San Francisco. The move doesn't go as planned, and with the stress of a new city, new school and losing her old friends things go haywire inside Riley's mind, especially when Joy and Sadness get lost in the memory banks where Riley's personality is crumbling away.
The Pixar animators do a very good job of visualising a story which pretty much all takes place within a little girl's head, but it presents a good moral that we should never let our actions be decided by anger.
Once again, Disney and Pixar collaborate to bring a film which is just as likely to be enjoyed by adults as it is by youngsters, though the technicalities of the plot may go right over the heads of young children.

"Two angry men driven to tell the truth... Whatever the cost."
"Two angry men driven to tell the truth... Whatever the cost."
D: Michael Mann
Touchstone/Forward Pass (Michael Mann & Pieter Jan Brugge)
US 1999
158 mins


W: Eric Roth & Michael Mann [based on the article "The Man Who Knew Too Much" by Marie Brenner]
DP: Dante Spinotti
Ed: William Goldenberg, Paul Rubell & David Rosenbloom
Mus: Pieter Bourke & Lisa Gerrard
PD: Brian Morris

Al Pacino (Lowell Bergman), Russell Crowe (Jeffrey Wigand), Christopher Plummer (Mike Wallace), Diane Venora (Liane Wigand), Philip Baker Hall (Don Hewitt), Lindsay Crouse (Sharon Tiller), Debi Mazar (Debbie DeLuca), Stephen Tobolowsky (Eric Kluster)

Michael Mann's exposé on big tobacco corporations sees Russell Crowe deliver an excellent performance as Jeffrey Wigand, a whistleblower for a cigarette company ready to unveil the truth about the harmful chemicals the products contain and the company's complicit stance on them. Al Pacino plays Lowell Bergman, a TV producer determined to uncover the truth, but the two men find a series of obstacles in their way, from death threats to the network's refusal to air the report.
This thriller is marvellously directed, utilising moody photography and careful editing to make every scene claustrophobic, building the tension towards its jarring climax.
Crowe is fantastic, Pacino is excellent, but the unsung hero is Christopher Plummer as a forthright interviewer.
Highly enjoyable, but released at a time when the dangers of smoking not being a huge revelation is it's only criticism.
"It's not the house that's haunted."
"It's not the house that's haunted."
D: James Wan
Film District/Alliance International (Jason Blum, Oren Peli & Steven Schneider)
US 2010
102 mins


W: Leigh Whannel
DP: John R. Leonetti & David M. Brewer
Ed: James Wan & Kirk Morri
Mus: Joseph Bishara

Patrick Wilson (Josh Lambert), Rose Byrne (Renai Lambert), Barbara Hershey (Lorraine Lambert), Lin Shaye (Elise Rainier), Ty Simpkins (Dalton Lambert)

Insidious (adjective): spreading or acting inconspicuously but with harmful effect.
Meh. A modern take on Poltergeist which follows the same formula pretty much and borrows plot and imagery from other, better horror movies. The performances are generally okay but it's all about as scary as a Punch & Judy puppet show. Also, the title is a misnomer. Inshitious would have been more apt. Still, it was successful enough for a sequel or two to materialise. I suppose a fool and their money are easily parted.

"Don't close your eyes."
"Don't close your eyes."
D: Christopher Nolan
Alcon (Paul Junger Witt, Edward L. McDonnell, Broderick Johnson & Andrew Kosove)
US 2002
118 mins


W: Hillary Seitz [based on a screenplay by Nikolaj Frobenius & Erik Skjoldbjaerg]
DP: Wally Pfister
Ed: Dody Dorn
Mus: David Julyan
PD: Nathan Crowley

Al Pacino (Det. Will Dormer), Robin Williams (Walter Finch), Hilary Swank (Det. Ellie Burr), Maura Tierney (Rachel Clement), Martin Donovan (Det. Hap Eckhart)

Insomnia is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same title, starring Al Pacino & Martin Donovan as two LA detectives who travel to a remote Alaskan town inside the Arctic Circle to investigate a schoolgirl's murder.
Pacino doesn't cope with the perpetual daylight as well as his partner, setting up a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the sociopathic main suspect (Robin Williams, brilliantly cast against type).
Fine acting and incredibly atmospheric, this is one US remake which does huge justice to its original source.


D: Guy Hamilton

British Lion/Watergate (A.D. Peters)

UK 1954

79 mins


W: Desmond Davis [based on the play by J.B. Priestley]

DP: Ted Schaife

Ed: Alan Osbiston

Mus: Francis Chagrin

Alastair Sim (Inspector Poole), Jane Wenham (Eva Smith), Arthur Young (Arthur Berling), Olga Lindo (Sybil Berling), Brian Worth (Gerald Croft)

J.B. Priestley's most celebrated stage play is conservatively brought to the screen, practically carried by a masterful performance by Alastair Sim as the inspector of the title.

Set in 1912, the plot follows a mysterious inspector who pays a visit to an upper-class Yorkshire family with news of the death of a young girl, and sets out to prove that each of them have some responsibility for her death.

Though the execution is somewhat old-fashioned, the message is still strong and cuts a knife through the system which divides the classes.

On balance, the stage play is much better, but this is as good a film adaptation as could be imagined.


D: David Kellogg
Disney/Caravan (Jordan Kerner, Roger Birnbaum & Andy Heyward)
US 1999
78 mins


W: Kerry Ehrin, Zak Penn & Dana Olson [based on characters created by Andy Heyward, Jean Chalopin & Bruno Bianchi]
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Thom Noble & Adam Cody
Mus: John Debney
PD: Michael White & Leslie Dilley

Matthew Broderick (John Brown / Inspector Gadget), Rupert Everett (Sanford Scolex / Dr. Claw), Joely Fisher (Dr. Brenda Bradford), Michelle Trachtenberg (Penny Brown)

Disney's live action rendition of the animated TV series sees the half-human, half-robotic detective, tooled up with mechanical devices for any event, face off against his evil twin, also geared with similar devices.
For kids, this will probably be highly enjoyable, but it doesn't really capture the essence of the original cartoons. 
Considering this is a Disney film, the production values really should have been better, especially the tacky CGI effects.

"They control your money. They control your government. They control your life. And everyone pays."
"They control your money. They control your government. They control your life. And everyone pays."
D: Tom Tykwer
Columbia/Relativity Media/Atlas (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle & Lloyd Phillips)
US/Germany 2009
113 mins


W: Eric Warren Singer
DP: Frank Griebe
Ed: Mathilde Bonnefoy
Mus: Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil
PD: Uli Hanisch
Cos: Ngila Dickson

Clive Owen (Louis Salinger), Naomi Watts (Eleanor Whitman), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Wilhelm Wexler), Ulrich Thomsen (Jonas Skarssen)

Listing Clive Owen & Naomi Watts above the title is a bit of a tease, since the two stars share very little screen time together, and though the opening act may drag this becomes a nerve-shredding, realistic thriller of politics and espionage.
Owen plays interpol agent Louis Salinger, who is determined to uncover an international arms dealing ring with the assistance of Naomi Watts' assistant DA.
Watts' faith in Owen diminishes when his shady past overshadows their operation thrusting the two into a game of corruption, murder and suspense.
A shootout inside an art museum is a scene worth waiting for as Clive Owen demonstrates the ability that he would have been a great choice for James Bond before that role was handed to Daniel Craig.
"In every girl is the woman she is destined to become... And in every woman is the girl she used to be."
"In every girl is the woman she is destined to become... And in every woman is the girl she used to be."
D: Bryan Forbes 
MGM (Bryan Forbes)
UK 1978
125 mins


W: Bryan Forbes [based on characters created by Edith Bagnold]
DP: Tony Imi
Ed: Timothy Gee
Mus: Francis Lai
PD: Keith Wilson
Cos: Deborah L. Scott

Nanette Newman (Velvet Brown), Tatum O'Neal (Sarah Brown), Anthony Hopkins (Capt. Johnson), Christopher Plummer (John Seaton)

Belated, unnecessary sequel to 1944's National Velvet. Grand National winner Velvet Brown is now grown up, but her unruly teenage daughter not so much, but she is soon tamed when she gets involved in equestrianism and becomes a showjumper.
The soap opera approach makes this drama feel flat, with wishy-washy dialogue and televisual production values. A handful of the performances are fine and the pacing whinnies along, but all in all it's not a thoroughbred piece of cinema and certainly nowhere near as good as the original.
D: Sydney Pollack
Universal/Working Title/Mirage (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner & Kevin Misher)
US/UK/Germany 2005
128 mins


W: Charles Randolph, Scott Frank & Steven Zaillian 
DP: Darius Khondji
Ed: William Goldenberg
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Jon Hutman

Nicole Kidman (Silvia Broome), Sean Penn (Tobin Keller), Catherine Keener (Dot Woods)

Nicole Kidman plays Silvia Broome, an interpreter for the United Nations who thinks she is above the law when her politician husband is abducted, putting herself and others in danger with her impulsive actions as she flies completely off the handle to track down those responsible.
Perhaps it would be easier to sympathise with her character if she didn't swan around like her shit didn't stink, but her performance is so smug that you'll be forgiven for rooting for the bad guys. Amongst the biggest disappointments of 2005 and a film which Nicole Kidman needs to remove from her resumé, her performance (and accent) is absolutely terrible.
"Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here."
"Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here."
D: Christopher Nolan
Warner Bros/Legendary/Syncopy (Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan & Lynda Obst)
US/UK 2014
169 mins

Science Fiction

W: Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan
DP: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Ed: Lee Smith
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Nathan Crowley

Matthew McConaughey (Joseph Cooper), Anne Hathaway (Dr. Amelia Brand), Bill Irwin (voice of TARS), Jessica Chastain (Murphy Cooper), Casey Affleck (Tom Cooper), Michael Caine (Prof. John Brand), John Lithgow (Donald), Matt Damon (Dr. Mann)

Visually, Christopher Nolan's 2014 sci-fi is a treat, but the story is a let down, especially in the final half hour when it descends into the completely nonsensical.
Set in a future where the last generations of Earth are plagued by giant dust clouds and limited to farming labour just to keep the food chain going, a former pilot (Matthew McConaughey) stumbles by chance on a NASA base and the small group of scientists jump at the chance to tell him that Earth's days are numbered and they want him to lead a mission to find another planet on the other side of a wormhole capable of harbouring human life.
There's some dramatic moments when McConaughey has to say goodbye to his kids before heading out into the great void of the universe, but the scenes feel quite rushed.
The scenes in space are brilliantly realised, especially the journey into and through the black hole and the universe on the other side, consisting of phantom time zones, a planet formed entirely of ice and another where water covers the entire surface and giant tidal waves prevent any chance of life settling.
It's after the discovery of these uninhabitable planets that the film completely loses it's way. Taking us away from the meat of the story and the intergalactic space voyage in favour of following McConaughey's now grown up daughter (played by Jessica Chastain), now working for NASA and generally acting like a bit of a bitch due to her "daddy issues".
The 2001 (A Space Odyssey) inspired finale then goes off the scale, treating science as mere folly as it presents a moral that we should all trust in love and let it be our guide. Either that or NASA can't be trusted.     
It's unfortunate that story descends into incredulity, the visual effects and production values, like Christopher Nolan's previous movies, cannot be faulted and some of the scenes are very well realised. Perhaps it's ironic that a film about black holes should have so many plot holes, as well as being so long that you may also feel that decades have passed while you were watching.

"From the western capitalist pigs who brought you Neighbors and This Is The End"
"From the western capitalist pigs who brought you Neighbors and This Is The End"
D: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Columbia (Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg & James Weaver)
US 2014
112 mins 


W: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg & Dan Stirling
DP: Brandon Trost
Ed: Zene Baker & Evan Henke
Mus: Henry Jackman

James Franco (Dave Skylark), Seth zeigen (Aaron Rapaport), Lizzy Caplan (Agent Lacey), Randall Park (Kim Jong-Un), Diana Bang (Sook-Yin Park)

The Interview is probably more famous for the real-life events rather than the film itself. Prior to the film's controversial release, North Korean politicians were furious about the subject matter, resulting in the distributor being the victim of a software hack.
It's little surprise why the communist nation were so upset, since the film focuses on an inept chat show host and his equally useless producer set to interview the Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, but they do so with the intention on assassinating him. 
An attempted cross between Spies Like Us and satire fails because of one key reason. It isn't funny. Resorting to dick and fart jokes and racism rather than poking fun at any political issues.
It wouldn't surprise if the events that happened before the official release were merely a publicity stunt, as it's very unlikely this would have raked in millions worldwide on word-of-mouth alone.

"Drink from me and live forever."
"Drink from me and live forever."
D: Neil Jordan
Warner Bros./Geffen (Stephen Woolley & David Geffen)
US/UK 1994
122 mins


W: Anne Rice [based on her novel]
DP: Philippe Rousselot
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: Elliot Goldenthal
PD: Dante Ferretti
Cos: Sandy Powell

Tom Cruise (Lestat de Lioncourt), Brad Pitt (Louis Pointe du Lac), Antonio Banderas (Armand), Stephen Rea (Santiago), Christian Slater (Daniel Malloy), Kirsten Dunst (Claudia), Domiziana Giordano (Madeleine)

Based on Anne Rice's novel, Neil Jordan's modern gothic horror classic utilises lavish period design, atmospheric photography and music as well as a fine ensemble of performances.
Tom Cruise may get top billing but he's very much a supporting character behind Brad Pitt's Louis Pointe du Lac, a 200 year old vampire who reminisces about his life to a modern day San Francisco journalist. 
Louis initially became a vampire after being seduced by aristocratic Lestat de Lioncourt in 18th Century New Orleans.
Together they feed off the blood of their prey and 'adopt' a vampiric daughter, Claudia (a scene-stealing Kirsten Dunst).
But Louis & Claudia believe they have a better chance of survival in France, and escape Lestat to join a theatre of vampires, but things don't go as planned.
There were many who criticised the homoerotic subtext within, but it really works in this film. Those expecting a horror movie for scares will be incredibly disappointed, this isn't that kind of horror, but is amongst the very best vampire films ever made, abiding strictly to the legend.
For some, this will be worth watching simply to see Tom Cruise upstaged by a juvenile.
D: Sean Penn
Paramount Vantage (Sean Penn, Art Linson & Bill Pohlad)
US 2007
147 mins


W: Sean Penn [based on the novel by John Krakauer]
DP: Eric Gautier
Ed: Jay Cassidy
Mus: Michael Brook, Kaki King & Eddie Vedder

Emile Hirsch (Chris McCandless), Marcia Gay Harden (Billie McCandless), William Hurt (Walt McCandless), Jena Malone (Carine McCandless), Catherine Keener (Jan Burres), Vince Vaughan (Wayne Westerberg), Kristen Stewart (Tracy Tatro), Hal Holbrook (Ron Franz)    

I've always thought Sean Penn was a great actor and this movie also proves his talents as a director. 
It's a story of a college graduate who loses faith in 20th century society and voyages out into the wilderness of America and journeys to Alaska to live free and open to the elements.
Kristen Stewart pops along about two-thirds through the movie and almost had me reaching for the fast forward button but thankfully her scenes are mercifully small.
One criticism would most certainly be the film's length, it could easily have had a half-hour pared off, nevertheless it's a poignant love letter to a hippy-style culture with some good performances, especially Hal Holbrook in his twilight years. A great soundtrack must be mentioned too, with original songs by Eddie Vedder.
"They can't keep their hands off each other's assets."
"They can't keep their hands off each other's assets."
D: Joel Coen
Universal/Imagine (Ethan Coen & Brian     Grazer)
US 2003
95 mins


W: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Roderick Jaynes
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Leslie McDonald
Cos: Mary Zophres

George Clooney (Miles Massey), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Marilyn Hamilton Rexroth Doyle Massey), Geoffrey Rush (Donovan Donaly), Cedric The Entertainer (Gus Petch), Edward Herrmann (Rex Rexroth), Richard Jenkins (Freddy Bender), Billy Bob Thornton (Howard Doyle)

I'm a big fan of the Coen Brothers work, but this is without doubt their weakest film (yes, it's worse than The Ladykillers) and prompts the assumption that they only made it to exhaust a studio contract (perhaps).
George Clooney does his tiresome Cary Grant act as a divorce lawyer who wins a case against gold-digger Catherine Zeta-Jones, who then plots her revenge, double-crossing him for his fortune.
You'd think Zeta-Jones would be perfect casting for a gold-digger but I simply found her character absolutely grotesque, even for black comedy standards.
If you're not a fan of the Coen's avoid this completely, even die-hard fans of the filmmakers would agree that this is the worst film they've put their names to.
D: Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano
Gaumont (Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou & Harvey Weinstein)
France 2011
113 mins


W: Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano
DP: Mathieu Vadepied
Ed: Reynald Bertrand
Mus: Ludovico Einaudi

François Cluzet (Philippe), Omar Sy (Bakary 'Driss' Bassari), Audrey Fleurot (Magalie), Anne Le Ny (Yvonne), Alba Gaïa Kraghede Belludi (Elisa)

This French movie is proof that a well-written screenplay is the driving force behind a good movie.
It follows the true story of a man from a Paris ghetto who becomes a carer for a rich paraplegic and the friendship which develops between the two diverse characters from opposite backgrounds. 
The chemistry between the two leads is fantastic and the drama is bittersweet without being manipulative.          
It's a crime that this movie wasn't nominated for a Foreign Language Film Oscar! Personally, I'd have it as one of the very best films of 2011, period.
D: William Cameron Menzies
20th Century Fox (Edward L. Alperson) 
US 1953
82 mins

Science Fiction

W: Richard Blake
DP: John Seitz
Mus: Raoul Kraushaar
PD: William Cameron Menzies

Jimmy Hunt (David MacLean), Helena Carter (Patricia Blake), Arthur Franz (Stuart Kelston), Leif Erickson (George MacLean), Hillary Brooke (Mary MacLean)

In a remote farmyard community, Martian invaders brainwash humans as spies and saboteurs.
Invaders From Mars is one of the original and more classic science fiction B-movies which seems very dated now, but is still quite impressive for its age.
Comparisons will most certainly be made with the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (qv) film, released two years later, which has a much more foreboding sense of dread and paranoia. Still, Invaders From Mars can be considered as a milestone for the genre, providing a fine directorial debut for William Cameron Menzies, who previously plied his trade as a production designer and art director for the movies.
D: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Warner Bros. (Joel Silver)
US 2007
99 mins

Science Fiction

W: Daniel Kajhanich [based on the novel "The Body Snatchers" by Jack Finney]
DP: Rainer Klausmann
Ed: Hans Funck & Joel Negron
Mus: John Ottman
PD: Jack Fisk

Nicole Kidman (Carol Bennell), Daniel Craig (Ben Driscoll), Jeremy Northam (Tucker Kaufman), Jackson Bond (Oliver), Jeffrey Wright (Stephen Galeano), Veronica Cartwright (Wendy Lenk)

Pathetic remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (qv) with performances which are so inept that all the characters may as well be emotionless zombies. Ha ha! See what I did there?
The 1955 and 1978 versions already perfected the idea, this is purely an example of shambolic money-grabbing lazy filmmaking.
D: Don Siegel
Allied Artists (Walter Wanger)
US 1956
80 mins

Science Fiction

W: Geoffrey Homes [based on the novel "The Body Snatchers" by Jack Finney]
DP: Ellsworth Fredricks
Ed: Robert S. Eisen
Mus: Carmen Dragon
PD: Joseph Kish

Kevin McCarthy (Dr. Miles Bennell), Dana Wynter (Becky Driscoll), Larry Gates (Dr. Dan Kauffman), King Donovan (Jack Belicec), Carolyn Jones (Teddy Belicec)

Strange things are happening in a small Californian town as the people's behaviour is changing, wives don't recognise their husbands and vice versa, and the town's doctor discovers the cause is mysterious alien pods which is producing perfect doppelgängers of them and assimilating the original.
This 1950's B-movie perfectly captures the communist paranoia at the time of it's release as well as working as a straight up Sci-Fi invasion flick.
A sequel/remake followed in 1978, followed by countless clones and copycats, but for many, this original is by far the better film, completely iconic, with a realistic, paranoid atmosphere in every single frame.
"The seed is planted... Terror grows."
"The seed is planted... Terror grows."
D: Philip Kaufman
United Artists (Robert H. Solo)
US 1978
115 mins

Science Fiction

W: W. D. Richter [based on the novel "The Body Snatchers" by Jack Finney]
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Douglas Stewart
Mus: Denny Zeitlin
PD: Charles Rosen

Donald Sutherland (Matthew Bennell), Brooke Adams (Elizabeth Driscoll), Leonard Nimoy (Dr. David Kibner), Veronica Cartwright (Nancy Bellicec), Jeff Goldblum (Jack Bellicec), Art Hindle (Dr. Geoffrey Howell)

The small town terror of the original film is relocated to the City of San Francisco, as mysterious alien pods which prey on the population as they sleep and replace them with emotionless doubles.
While the original film made a fantastic allegory on both the Cold War and communism, what makes the 1978 version excel upon the original is that it can be seen as both a sequel as well as a remake, heightening the fear factor with the action taking place in a large metropolitan city rather than a small rural community and starting off practically where the 1954 film ends (thanks to a quite brilliant cameo appearance from Kevin McCarthy), as well as presenting one of the most terrifying endings in movie history.
The concept was remade again as Body Snatchers in 1993, strangely relocating the events to a military camp for some stupid reason, and more recently as The Invasion, starring Nicole Kidman & Daniel Craig, but the less said about that version, the better.     
D: Clint Eastwood
Warner Bros./Malpaso/Spyglass (Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz & Mace Neufeld)
US/South Africa 2009
133 mins


W: Anthony Peckham [based on the book "Playing The Enemy: Nelson Mandela And The Game That Made A Nation" by John Carlin]
DP: Tom Stern
Ed: Joel Cox & Gary Roach
Mus: Kyle Eastwood & Michael Stevens

Morgan Freeman (Nelson Mandela), Matt Damon (François Pienaar), Tony Kgoroge (Jason Tshabalala), Adjoa Andoh (Brenda Mazibuko), Julian Lewis Jones (Etienne Feyder)

"Football is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, whereas rugby is a hooligan's game played by gentlemen"     
Although I agree with that statement, I don't agree with the context it's used in this film, but I do agree with the sentiment that sport can unite a country, as this movie so proves.
Morgan Freeman stars as former South African president Nelson Mandela, who, with the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament taking place, encourages the South African team captain, François Pienaar (Matt Damon), that a victory for the home nation will unite it's people in celebration.
Invictus is a thoroughly entertaining, inspiring movie whether or not you have an interest in politics and/or rugby. Excellent performances by Morgan Freeman & Matt Damon and well directed by the auteur Clint Eastwood.


D: Ralph Fiennes

Sony/Headline/BBC (Gabriella Tana, Stewart Mackinnon, Christian Baute & Carolyn Marks Blackwood)

UK 2013

111 mins


W: Abi Morgan [based on the novel by Claire Tomalin]

DP: Rob Hardy

Ed: Nicolas Gaster

Mus: Ilan Eshkeri

PD: Maria Djurkovic

Cos: Michael O'Connor

Ralph Fiennes (Charles Dickens), Felicity Jones (Nelly Ternan), Kristen Scott-Thomas (Mrs. Ternan), Tom Hollander (Wilkie Collins), Michelle Fairley (Caroline Graves)

Though the title may make it sound like part of Marvel's series of superhero movies, The Invisible Woman is in fact a biopic of Charles Dickens' and his clandestine affair with Nelly Ternan, a young actress who becomes his mistress until the authors' death. 

Felicity Jones is excellent as the lead actress, and Ralph Fiennes apes Charles Dickens to brilliant effect, but the story itself is rather dull. Overall, it would have worked better as a TV movie or perhaps a mini series.

The period detail is good, as are the performances, but everything else is just a little stagnant.



D: Sidney J. Furie

Rank/Lowndes (Harry Saltzman)

UK 1965

109 mins


W: Bill Canaway & James Doran [based on the novel by Len Deighton]

DP: Otto Heller

Ed: Peter Hunt

Mus: John Barry

PD: Ken Adam

Michael Caine (Harry Palmer), Guy Doleman (Colonel Ross), Nigel Green (Major Dalby), Sue Lloyd (Jean Courtney), Gordon Jackson (Carswell)

The James Bond films' cockney cousin, providing Michael Caine with his breakthrough role as Harry Palmer, a working class spy who investigates a series of British agents being brainwashed by an underground criminal organisation.

Certain elements are dated, and it does feel like it's riding a little too much on the coattails of the Bond movies successes, but it's still a great deal better than some of the 007 movies.

Caine is simply perfect in the role, and some of the cinematography is very well done. BAFTA noticed this, rewarding Otto Heller for his work.


D: Sidney J. Furie
Tri-Star (Ron Samuels & Joe Wizan)
US 1986
119 mins


W: Kevin Elders & Sidney J. Furie
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: George Grenville
Mus: Basil Poledouris

Louis Gossett, Jr. (Col. Charles 'Chappy' Sinclair), Jason Gedrick (Doug Masters), David Suchet (Col. Akir Nakesh), Tim Thomerson (Col. Ted Masters), Larry B. Scott (Reggie)

When an Air Force pilot is shot down in a hostile Middle Eastern country, the man's son enlists the help of a retired pilot to rescue him.
It's all rather far-fetched and the finale is rather ridiculous, but it's a good slice of 1980's cheese, complete with a soundtrack of songs, some good and some absolutely terrible.  You could say the same thing about the performances too.
Always viewed as Top Gun's little brother, I think both movies are about as good (or bad) as each other. At least this one doesn't take itself too seriously.
"It came from outer space!"
"It came from outer space!"
D: Brad Bird
Warner Bros. (Allison Abbate & Des McAnuff)
US 1999
86 mins


W: Tim McCanlies [based on the book "The Iron Man" by Ted Hughes]
Mus: Michael Kamen

voices of: Vin Diesel (The Iron Giant), Jennifer Aniston (Annie Hughes), Eli Marienthal (Hogarth Hughes), Harry Connick, Jr. (Dean McCoppin), Christopher McDonald (Kent Mansley)

An animated film as much for adults as it is for children, perfectly capturing the feel and paranoia of a 1950's B-movie.
Set in 1957, a young boy discovers a giant iron robot and protects it from the US government, who are convinced is a communist weapon and aim to destroy it.
Surprisingly, this film didn't perform very successfully at the box office. It really deserved better.
D: Phyllida Lloyd
20th Century Fox/Pathé/UK Film Council/Yuk/Canal+/Goldcrest (Damian Jones)
UK 2011
104 mins


W: Abi Morgan
DP: Elliott Davis
Ed: Justin Wright
Mus: Thomas Newman

Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher), Jim Broadbent (Denis Thatcher), Anthony Head (Sir Geoffrey Howe), Richard E. Grant (Michael Heseltine), Iain Glen (Alfred Roberts), Olivia Colman (Carol Thatcher)

There's no denying that Meryl Streep delivers an excellence performance as Margaret Thatcher in this biopic of the former UK prime minister, however the narrative & the screenplay and Phyllida Lloyd's colour-by-numbers direction weaken the movie as if can't decide if it wants to ride on the coattails of recent movies The Queen or A Beautiful Mind. It's a little bit of both.
Personally, I'd have found it much more fun if Iron Man & the rest of the Marvel Avengers were in it.
D: Jon Favreau
Paramount/Marvel (Avi Arad & Kevin Fiege)
US 2008
121 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway [based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck & Jack Kirby]
DP: Matthew Libatique
Ed: Dan Lebantal
Mus: Ramin Djawadi
PD: J. Michael Riva

Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Terrence Howard (James Rhodes), Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane), Shaun Toub (Yinsen), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts)

As far as superhero origin stories go, Iron Man is amongst the best, despite lacking a decent villain for our hero to go into battle with.
Robert Downey, Jr. delivers a delightfully schmoozy performance as Tony Stark, a weapons designer for the US government who is abducted in the Middle East and forced to build a bomb for his captors. Instead, he builds an impenetrable battle suit and escapes, and upon his return to America, he perfects his design and goes back to deliver revenge.
For those unfamiliar with the Marvel comic book character, this is an enjoyable introduction to the character with a perfect choice cast in the lead role, given some funny one-liners to add some light comic relief. The soundtrack, full of tracks by heavy metal bands, is also a neat touch.
IRON MAN 2 (12)
D: Jon Favreau
Paramount/Marvel (Kevin Fiege)
US 2010
119 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Justin Theroux [based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck & Jack Kirby]
DP: Matthew Libatique
Ed: Dan Lebantal & Richard Pearson
Mus: John Debney
PD: J. Michael Riva

Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff), Sam Rockwell (Justin Hammer), Mickey Rourke (Ivan Vanko / Whiplash), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)

A disappointing follow up to a hugely entertaining first film. The action scenes are quite sporadic as the majority of the film focuses on a Tony Stark ego trip.
Mickey Rourke steps into the villains shoes as Whiplash, who has designed his own powerful armoured suit and is hired to create a horde of Iron Man clones. 
Considering Rourke's recent good performances in Sin City & The Wrestler, his work in this is less impressive, delivering a truly atrocious Russian accent.
Overall, this caters towards those more familiar with the comic book characters, also introducing the character War Machine. Unfortunately, it lacks the fun of the original and is quite forgettable.
IRON MAN 3 (12)
D: Shane Black
Disney/Marvel (Kevin Fiege)
US 2013
130 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Shane Black & Drew Pearce [based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck & Jack Kirby]
DP: John Toll
Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Peter S. Elliott
Mus: Brian Tyler

Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Don Cheadle (Col. James Rhodes / Iron Patriot), Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian), Rebecca Hall (Maya Hansen), Ben Kingsley (Trevor Slattery / Mandarin), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan)

After the disappointing and rather forgettable Iron Man 2, perhaps the movies needed a change of director and action movie maestro Shane Black takes the reins for this third (and final???) part. 
Following on from Avengers Assemble, Robert Downey Jr returns as the charismatic Tony Stark and partnered with stunning visual effects makes for a winning formula once again, this time he's up against über-terrorist, The Mandarin, declaring war against America with undetectable bombs.
I thought this was better than Iron Man 2, but I had a few gripes, so here come some potential spoilers...
Most of the film is very Iron Man-less, until all the suits turn up in the big final set piece, which I thought was actually a huge let down, especially in comparison to the huge finale to The Avengers movie.
Also, the ending leaves it ambiguous as to whether there'll be a fourth Iron Man movie, the pre-credits "ending" made me think that this was the end of Iron Man and everything was all done and dusted, but there's a post-credit snippet of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner having a conversation, followed with the subtitle "Tony Stark will return", but it's impossible to see how going by what happened pre-credits (watch it and you'll see)
Also, there was a huge lack of AC/DC hits on the movie soundtrack. Shameful!
Better than Iron Man 2, but nowhere near as good as the first film or The Avengers movie.
"Time destroys everything."
"Time destroys everything."
D: Gaspar Noé
Metro Tartan/Nord-Ouest/Eskwad/Canal (Daniel Rossignon & Richard Grandpierre)
France 2002
97 mins


W: Gaspar Noé
DP: Gaspar Noé
Ed: Gaspar Noé
Mus: Thomas Bangalter

Monica Bellucci (Alex), Vincent Cassel (Marcus), Albert Dupontel (Pierre), Jo Prestia (Le Tenia)

Gaspar Noé's controversial film is an incredibly difficult watch, and not just because it's narrative is told in reverse. 
The film begins with two men searching underground Paris nightclubs in search for a man named La Tenia, before delivering a revenge so sadistic, you'd be forgiven for not watching on.
The revenge delivered is justice for a rape attack on one of the men's girlfriend's, a beautiful woman whose only crime was to walk alone down a Parisian subway. 
The rape scene itself is shown in full, elongated horror and though it may only last 10 minutes, it seems a lot longer as the woman is subjected to the heinous attack.
It could be deemed ironic that following these two scenes of such grotesque violence, the film ends with a rather beautiful ending, since the end is actually the beginning.
Worth sticking with if you can take it, despite the fact that it will most likely make you dry heave. 
D: Elaine May
Columbia (Warren Beatty)
US 1987
107 mins


W: Elaine May
DP: Vittorio Storaro
Ed: Stephen A. Rotter, William Reynolds & Richard Cirincione
Mus: John Strauss

Warren Beatty (Lyle Rogers), Dustin Hoffman (Chuck Clarke), Isabelle Adjani (Shirra Assel), Charles Grodin (Jim Harrison), Jack Weston (Marty Freed), Tess Harper (Willa)

This huge box office flop was an incredibly ill-conceived attempt to recreate the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "Road To" vehicles of the 1940's.
Dustin Hoffman & Warren Beatty play a Simon & Garfunkel-like songwriting duo who inadvertently get involved in Middle Eastern affairs.
The film's main problem is that it isn't funny on any level and is simply embarrassing for all involved.
Claims to be the worst film ever made are fair.

D: Michael Bay
Warner Bros./Dreamworks (Walter F. Parkes, Michael Bay & Ian Bryce)
US 2003
130 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzmann & Roberto Orci
DP: Mauro Fiore
Ed: Paul Rubell & Christian Wagner
Mus: Steve Jablonsky
PD: Nigel Phelps
Cos: Deborah L. Scott

Ewan McGregor (Lincoln Six Echo / Tom Lincoln), Scarlett Johnasson (Jordan Two Delta / Sarah Jordan), Djimon Hounsou (Albert Laurent), Sean Bean (Dr. Merrick), Michael Clarke Duncan (Starkweather Two Delta), Steve Buscemi (James McCord)

A very promising concept is ruined by director Michael Bay (no surprises there) who turns this into another run-of-the-mill action flick.
Ewan McGregor & Scarlett Johansson escape from a utopian society to discover that their entire existence has been a lie. They once thought that they were survivors of nuclear fallout, but the truth is that they are perfect clones of rich benefactors, and their organs are to be harvested when the time calls for it.
That's as far as it goes for intelligence in the hands of Michael Bay, and while this could have been a tribute/update of Logan's Run, the megalomaniac director instead concentrates his efforts on making a two-hour plus advert for Converse, Microsoft, Porsche, Nike, Sony, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and explosions.
"A tropical paradise, untouched by man, where a bizarre civilization exists."
"A tropical paradise, untouched by man, where a bizarre civilization exists."
D: Don Taylor
AIP/Cinema 77 (Skip Steloff & John Temple-Smith)
US 1977
98 mins


W: John Herman Shaner & Al Ramrus [based on the story by H.G. Wells]
DP: Gerry Fisher
Ed: Marion Rothman
Mus: Laurence Rosenthal

Burt Lancaster (Dr. Moreau), Michael York (Andrew Braddock), Nigel Davenport (Montgomery), Barbara Carrera (Maria), Richard Basehart (Sayer of the Law)

In the early 20th century, a sailor becomes shipwrecked on an island where a mad scientist creates a group of half-man, half-beast creatures.
Certain elements of the production are incredibly well done considering the age of the film, but the story is very much a weak link, serving only as a platform to showcase John Chambers' impressive makeup creations.
Remade in 1996.

D: John Frankenheimer
Entertainment/New Line (Edward R. Pressman)
US 1996
95 mins


W: Richard Stanley & Ron Hutchinson [based on the story by H.G. Wells]
DP: William A. Fraker
Ed: Paul Rubell
Mus: Gary Chang

Marlon Brando (Dr. Moreau), Val Kilmer (Dr. Montgomery), David Thewlis (Edward Douglas), Fairuza Balk (Aissa), Ron Perlman (Azazello)

Bigger budget remake of the above with the focus on CGI effects rather than physical transformations using prosthetics and makeup effects.
The story manages to be even more boring and incoherent here, with Marlon Brando chipping in with a batshit crazy cameo appearance. 
The film was a flop, only grossing £28m back from its budget of £50m.


D: Wes Anderson

Fox Searchlight/American Empirical/Indian Paintbrush (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales & Jeremy Dawson)

US/Germany 2018

101 mins


W: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman & Kunichi Nomura

Mus: Alexandre Desplat

voices of: Bryan Cranston (Chief), Koyu Rankin (Atari Kobayashi), Edward Norton (Rex), Bob Balaban (King), Bill Murray (Boss), Jeff Goldblum (Duke), Scarlett Johansson (Nutmeg), Greta Gerwig (Tracy Walker)

Wes Anderson usual visual style and quirky humour goes into this animated film, set in the dystopian future of Japan caught in a dog flu epidemic. The dictatorial mayor of the city passes a law exiling all canines to an island full of trash and a young boy ventures over to get his beloved dog, Spots, back.

Despite being an animated film, this is more likely to be enjoyed by adults, as it will probably go over the heads of young children.

The stop-motion animation style is excellent, the voice actors are all perfectly cast and the script does have many humorous and touching moments, presenting the film as a satire on immigration, consumerist waste, dictatorial societies and a face value story about one boy and his dog. 

At 101 minutes, the novelty does wear off in the final half hour, especially when the trailer practically sums the entire film up in a couple of minutes, but it's certainly recommended to those who enjoy Anderson's other works.


D: Tommy Lee Wallace
Warner Bros./Lorimar (Matthew O'Connor)
US 1990
180 mins


W: Lawrence D. Cohen & Tommy Lee Wallace [based on the novel by Stephen King]
Mus: Richard Bellis

Tim Curry (Pennywise), Harry Anderson (Richie Tozier), Dennis Christopher (Eddie Kaspbrak), Richard Masur (Stanley Uris), Annette O'Toole (Beverly Marsh), Tim Reid (Mike Hanlon), John Ritter (Ben Hanscom), Richard Thomas (Bill Denbrough)

This adaptation of Stephen King's lengthy novel was originally broadcast as a two-part TV drama before it was released in its entirety on DVD, which may explain why many scenes fade to black as though it's about to cut to commercial.
As a TV movie, it's decently well made, though not nearly as scary as the reputation will have it, more creepy than anything else. The first "part" of the film is much better than second, in fact, if you switched it off halfway through you could call it a very good movie and save yourself 90 minutes.
Young kids in Maine are being murdered by an evil spirit which manifests itself as a creepy clown, and a group of adults who thought they destroyed it in the 1960's get back in touch with each other so they can take it on again. The first half (and better half) of the film is mostly flashbacks of the main characters' childhoods, how they became friends and how they thought they killed the evil clown. Unfortunately, in the flat second half, they've all grown into their 40's and go through the paces once again, only slower and with even more flashbacks, before finally deciding that the best way to get rid of "it" is just to go to town on it. Moral of the story: face your fears by kicking the shit out of them.
The book explains a lot more, but it shouldn't be necessary to read a book in order to enjoy a film. As mentioned above, the first half is great, but the second half is absolute dross, particularly the unconvincing and frankly ridiculous final 10-15 minutes.
"You'll Float Too."
"You'll Float Too."

IT (15)

D: Andy Muschetti

Warner Bros/New Line/Ratpac-Dune (Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame, David Katzenberg & Barbara Muschetti)

US 2017

135 mins 


W: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga & Gary Dauberman [based on the novel by Stephen King]

DP: Chung-Hoon Chung

Ed: Jason Ballatyne

Mus: Benjamin Wallfisch

Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh), Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), Jack Dylan Grazier (Eddie Kaspbrak), Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise)

The much anticipated feature film version of Stephen King's It, which originally hit screens in the form of a two-part TV movie way back in 1990. 

The original film wasn't without its faults. Though bound by restrictions on budget and violence, it still provided effective shocks, mostly due to the creepy performance from Tim Curry as the sinister child-murdering spectral clown. Still, the first part of the 1990 version was much more entertaining than the second part, which drifted into nonsense and wasn't particularly scary.

This 2017 update suffers from similar circumstances, except it's the opposite way. The first half is dire, suffering from poor acting and ridiculously slow pacing, only punctuated by the usual cliché horror moments and predictable jump scares. 

The story doesn't drift too far from the source material, but it's only half the story. Set in 1989, instead of the 1960's (probably to save on production design budget) only half of King's novel is focused on, following a group of school friends who come together to defeat a malevolent spirit who manifests himself as Pennywise the Dancing Clown who comes out of hibernation every 27 years to feast on children. 

Perhaps this would have been a better film had Cary Fukunaga (the creator of True Detective) been kept as director, it's clearly his influence in the final hour which redeem this film, with some truly terrifying visuals leading up to a nail-biting climax.  Unfortunately, the final moments of the film are poorly done, throwing in a romance hook which feels more like a cockblock and leaving it open for a sequel because money is to be made from another film, rather than telling it all in one.

The CGI is often quite ropey, as are many of the juvenile performances, with only Sophia Lillis' performance as Beverly Marsh the real standout. 

Bill Skarsgård does an okay job portraying the evil clown, but he's creepy for the sake of being creepy, whereas Tim Curry's performance in the original was far more effective.

As far as remakes go, it's far from terrible, but one wonders what could've been had Cary Fukunaga been able to take it down a psychological thriller path rather than settling for the usual big studio blueprint.


"A cop. A waitress. A lottery ticket."
"A cop. A waitress. A lottery ticket."
D: Andrew Bergman
Columbia Tristar (Mike Lobell)
US 1994
101 mins


W: Jane Anderson
DP: Caleb Deschanel
Ed: Barry Malkin
Mus: Carter Burwell

Nicolas Cage (Charlie Lang), Bridget Fonda (Yvonne Biasi), Rosie Perez (Muriel Lang), Wendell Pierce (Bo Williams), Isaac Hayes (Angel Dupree)

A mildly engaging feelgood Rom-Com which lacks feasibility but uses enough Hollywood magic to make it borderline convincing.
Nicolas Cage plays a married cop, who keeps his promise to split his lottery winnings with her after being short on his tip, even though his lottery winnings are four million dollars. His charity donation obviously causes friction between him and his wife.
The performances make the film slightly engaging, although if Bridget Fonda played the wife and Rosie Perez was the waitress, this would have been a completely different film.
D: David Robert Mitchell
Animal Kingdom/Northern Lights (Rebecca Green, Laura D. Smith, David Robert Mitchell, David Kaplan & Erik Rommesmo)
US 2014 (released 2015)
100 mins
W: David Robert Mitchell
DP: Mike Gioulakis
Ed: Julio C. Perez IV 
Mus: Disasterpeace
Maika Monroe (Jaime Height), Keir Gilchrist (Paul), Daniel Zovatto (Greg), Jake Weary (Jeff / Hugh), Olivia Luccardi (Yara)
A mild teen-oriented horror story, utilising the same plot device from The Ring, though replacing the videotape McGuffin with sexual intercourse (so clearly a metaphor for STD's).
A teenage girl has a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, but is then abducted and told that she's now carrying a curse where she'll seemingly hallucinate various character are following her and the only option is to pass on the curse to someone else, but should that person be killed by evil spirits, the curse will once again revert back to her.
There's plenty of tension and suspense to compliment the supernatural theme, but there's also a few moments where the characters do some incredibly stupid things. The ambiguous ending might not be appreciated by everyone, but this is a decent stab at an independent ghost story, with some atmospheric photography and genuinely creepy music.
"Together for the first time."
"Together for the first time."
D: Frank Capra
Columbia (Frank Capra)
US 1934
105 mins


W: Robert Riskin [based on the story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams]
DP: Joseph Walker
Ed: Gene Havlick
Mus: Louis Silvers

Clark Gable (Peter Warne), Claudette Colbert (Ellie Andrews), Walter Connelly (Alexander Andrews), Roscoe Carns (Oscar Shapeley), Alan Hale (Danker)

Times may have changed since 1934, but the influence of Frank Capra's classic screwball comedy It Happened One Night is still prevalent, even in modern romantic comedies.
A spoiled runaway heiress is followed across America by a charming reporter and though their journey brings much misadventure, the couple end up falling in love.
As well as Capra sprinkling his own touch of magic on the film, the chemistry between the two leads makes it unmissable. This was the first film to win the "big 5" Oscars (Best Film, Actor, Actress, Director & Screenplay). Only two other films have achieved the feat since.

"This is the self preservation society."
"This is the self preservation society."
D: Peter Collinson
Paramount/Oakhurst (Michael Deeley)
UK 1969
100 mins


W: Troy Kennedy Martin
DP: Douglas Slocombe & Norman Warwick 
Ed: John Trumper
Mus: Quincy Jones

Michael Caine (Charlie Croker), Noel Coward (Mr. Bridger), Benny Hill (Prof. Simon Peach), Raf Vallone (Altabini), Rosanno Brazzi (Roger Beckerman)

A British classic of crime, comedy and adventure, adored on it's homeland but no so much elsewhere on the globe.
Cheeky Cockney chappie Michael Caine plays ex-con Charlie Croker who masterminds the theft of gold bullion by staging a traffic jam in Turin and using Mini Coopers for a quick getaway.
The comedy in the build up verges into rather needless slapstick on occasion, but there's also some hilariously iconic moments, the climactic car chase is a stunt riddled extravaganza and enormous fun, complete with an Ealing comedy style ending.
A patriotically English crime caper.
"Get in. Get out. Get even."
"Get in. Get out. Get even."
D: F. Gary Gray
Paramount (Donald DeLine)
US 2003
110 mins


W: Donna Powers & Wayne Powers [based on the 1969 screenplay by Troy Kennedy Martin]
DP: Wally Pfister
Ed: Richard Francis-Bruce & Christopher Rouse
Mus: John Powell

Mark Wahlberg (Charlie Croker), Charlize Theron (Stella Bridger), Edward Norton (Steve Frazelli), Donald Sutherland (John Bridger), Jason Statham (Handsome Rob), Seth Green (Lyle), Mos Def (Left Ear)

The Italian Job is a 1969 crime caper and a British classic. This is not The Italian Job.
The film may start in Italy but it doesn't take long to relocate to the United States and start ticking off all the usual cliches and going all Ocean's Eleven with the plot.
Of course, a revenge subplot has to be wedged in, otherwise why else would we want to root for the thieves at the heart of the story?
The only connection this has to the original film is two characters carrying the same name as 1969 counterparts and a trio of Mini's are still used in the final chase. There's also a wink & a nudge reference but it's more of an embarrassment than a homage.

"The biggest entertainment to rock the screen with laughter!"
"The biggest entertainment to rock the screen with laughter!"
D: Stanley Kramer
United Artists/Casey (Stanley Kramer)
US 1963
192 mins


W: William Rose & Tania Rose
DP: Ernest Laszlo
Ed: Frederic Knudtson, Robert C. Jones & Gene Fowler, Jr.
Mus: Ernest Gold
PD: Rudolph Sternad
Cos: Bill Thomas

Spencer Tracy (Capt. C.G. Culpepper), Milton Berle (J. Russell Finch), Sid Caesar (Melville Crump), Buddy Hackett (Benjy Benjamin), Ethel Merman (Mrs. Marcus), Mickey Rooney (Ding Bell), Dick Shawn (Sylvester Marcus), Phil Silvers (Otto Meyer), Terry-Thomas (J. Algernon Hawthorne), Jonathan Winters (Lennie Pike)

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is a mad, mad, mad, mad movie. Director Stanley Kramer spared no expense bringing this slapstick compendium to the screen, casting a cornucopia of comedy talent and utilising practically every stunt man available in Hollywood in 1963. 
The story sees a dying gangster (Jimmy Durante in a brief cameo), admit with his last muster that he buried $350,000 under a "Big W" somewhere in California. Those who bear witness bicker over how the money should be split before they scarper off on their own in a madcap dash to find the loot, pursued every step of the way by shady Police Captain Culpepper, who has his own reasons for wanting to locate the cash.
Though there's a lot of characters thrown into this bag of mixed nuts, the story is simple to keep up with, though it does have a few moments of overkill, especially in the last act. 
Still, it's a fine tribute to the comedy art of slapstick, with some fun performances, Ethel Merman in particular, gleefully upstaging everyone.
The $7m price tag in 1963 seems modest nowadays, but it was a hefty one in 1963. But considering Cleopatra was produced the same year, this seems like pocket change to production studio United Artists. 
A fun matinee movie for a rainy bank holiday.

D: Frank Capra
RKO/Liberty (Frank Capra)
UK 1946
129 mins


W: Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett
DP: Joseph Walker & Joseph Biroc
Ed: William Hornbeck
Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin

James Stewart (George Bailey), Donna Reed (Mary Hatch), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy), Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter), Henry Travers (Clarence), Beulah Bondi (Mrs. Bailey), Gloria Grahame (Violet Bick)

Perennial Yuletide classic, which failed to generate much business on its original release in 1946, but has gone on to become one of the all-time festive favourites.
George Bailey (James Stewart) is prevented from committing suicide on Christmas Eve by his guardian angel, who shows him what life would have been like for his family and friends had he never been born in the first place.
The whole film is a twist on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" without the Scrooge element and is dusted with Frank Capra's usual magic.
Regardless of whether or not you believe in angels, this film will enchant even the most cynical souls.