K2 (15)
D: Franc Roddam
Transpacific/Majestic (Jonathan Taplin, Marilyn Weiner & Tim Van Rellim)
US 1991
111 mins


W: Patrick Myers & Scott Roberts [based on the play by Patrick Myers]
DP: Gabriel Beristain
Ed: Sean Barton
Mus: Chaz Jankel

Michael Biehn (Taylor Brooks), Matt Craven (Harold Jameson), Raymond J. Barry (Philip Claiborne), Luca Bercovici (Dallas Woolf)

Loosely based on real-life events: Two friends endeavour to climb the second-highest mountain on Earth, K2 (also referred to as Godwin-Austen), and find the expedition more difficult than they originally anticipated.
This National Geographic buddy-buddy adventure is unfortunately so damned boring that you'll wish they were climbing a shorter mountain. Attractive cinematography, but little else to recommend about it.

"Meet the two toughest cops in town. One's just a little smarter than the other."
"Meet the two toughest cops in town. One's just a little smarter than the other."
K-9 (12)
D: Rod Daniel
Universal/The Gordon Company (Lawrence Gordon & Charles Gordon)
US 1989
95 mins
W: Steven Siegel & Scott Myers
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Lois Freeman-Fox
Mus: Miles Goodman
James Belushi (Det. Michael Dooley), Mel Harris (Tracy), Kevin Tighe (Lyman), Ed O'Neill (Sgt. Brannigan), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Benny the Mule)
Along with Turner & Hooch, this was one of two cop-dog buddy pictures which came out in the late 1980's. Belushi plays an unconventional narcotics detective who gets an Alsatian as his partner to solve a drug operation.  The comedy is in fits and starts but it's enjoyable for a few of Belushi's dead pan one-liners and afantastic animal performances from the multiple German Shepherd dogs who played Jerry Lee.
A guilty pleasure movie, but by no means a classic. 
Two sequels followed, "K-911" and "K-9:PI", neither of which were particularly good.
D: Akira Kurosawa 
20th Century Fox/Toho (Akira Kurosawa)
Japan 1980
179 mins


W: Akira Kurosawa & Masato Ide
DP: Takao Saito, Shoji Ueda, Kazuo Miyagawa & Asakazu Nakai
Ed: Akira Kurosawa
Mus: Shinichiro Ikebe
PD: Yoshiro Muraki

Tatsuya Nakadai (Shingen Takeda / Kagemusha), Tsutomu Yamazaki (Nobukado Takeda), Kenichi Hagiwara (Katsuyori Takeda), Kota Yui (Takemaru), Hideo Murata (Baba)

Akira Kurosawa's samurai epic begins in 16th century war-torn Japan, a petty thief is hired as the double of a samurai warlord and upon the warlord's death, must stand in his place to keep the army's morale from dying.
Kurosawa's movies were a huge influence to George Lucas and Star Wars, to which Lucas stumped up some of the cash to co-produce this movie. 
At nearly 3 hours long it's a difficult slog to get through and doesn't hold interest as well as the director's best work (The Seven Samurai), but the film is alive with colour, great costumes and spectacular visuals as well as staying faithful to the traditionalism, honour and loyalty of the samurai way.
Many scenes are hypnotically inert, but when the battles scenes do come, they are well worth the wait.

"Fear never travels alone."
"Fear never travels alone."


D: Dominic Sena
Rank/Propaganda/Polygram/Viacom (Tim Clawson)
US 1993
118 mins
W: Tim Metcalfe
DP: Bojan Bazelli
Ed: Martin Hunter
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Michael White
Brad Pitt (Early Grayce), Juliette Lewis (Adele Corners), David Duchovny (Brian Kessler), Michelle Forbes (Carrie Laughlin)
A couple driving across America to document and photograph sites of famous murders pick up a hitch-hiking couple, unaware that the male of the couple is a serial killer.
A dark twist on a road movie, intended to boost the career prospects of David Duchovny following the popularity of The X-Files, but it only really served Brad Pitt's career, truly menacing as a psychotic murderous drifter.
Entertaining for its duration but it's a forgotten film of the 1990's, fading away following the emergence of better variations on the same theme.
"He stole the money... And he's not giving it back."
"He stole the money... And he's not giving it back."
D: David McNally
Warner Bros./Castle Rock (Jerry Bruckheimer)
US 2003
89 mins


W: Steve Bing & Scott Rosenberg
DP: Peter Menzies, Jr.
Ed: John Murray & William Goldenberg
Mus: Trevor Rabin

Jerry O'Connell (Charlie Carbone), Anthony Anderson (Louis Booker), Estella Warren (Jessie), Michael Shannon (Frankie), Christopher Walken (Salvatore Maggio)

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, best known for brainless action movies has a rare foray into brainless comedy and slapstick for this no-brainer trash, too stupid for adults and unsuitable for young kids.
A pair of petty crooks from Brooklyn chase a kangaroo that's stolen a package meant for a gangster around the Australian desert. The kangaroo just so happens to be smarter than the hapless pair.
At the turn of the new millennium, Jerry O'Connell seemed to be the only member of the "Stand By Me" quartet still making movies, but he can't be too proud of that- every single one of them was a pile of excrement!

"He taught him the secret to karate lies in the mind and heart, not in his hands."
"He taught him the secret to karate lies in the mind and heart, not in his hands."
D: John G. Avildsen
Columbia/Delphi (Jerry Weintraub)
US 1984
127 mins


W: Robert Mark Kamen
DP: James Crabe
Ed: Bud Smith & Walt Mulconery
Mus: Bill Conti
PD: William J. Cassidy

Ralph Macchio (Daniel), Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita (Mr. Miyagi), Elisabeth Shue (Ali), Martin Kove (Kreese), Randee Heller (Lucille), William Zabka (Johnny), Ron Thomas (Bobby), Rob Garrison (Tommy), Chad McQueen (Dutch)

A perfect example of a guilty pleasure movie from the director of Rocky (qv), utilising the same formula of an underdog aiming for personal glory.
Ralph Macchio plays Daniel, the new kid in a small town who becomes the target of bullies at his new school. He chooses to join the local karate school, but those same bullies are already members, so Daniel gets help from the most unlikely of people, a timid Japanese gardener, Mr. Miyagi (Morita), who uses unconventional methods to teach the martial art form and prepares Daniel to compete with the school bullies at the upcoming championships.
It's pure cheese, but had a lasting legacy which produced two sequels as well as a 21st century remake, as well as inspiring children everywhere to take up the sport.
"Wax on, wax off" became one of the classic sound bites of the 1980's.

D: Harold Zwart
Columbia/Overbrook (Jerry Weintraub, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter & Ken Stovitz)
US/China 2010
140 mins


W: Christopher Murphey [based on a screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen]
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Joel Negron
Mus: James Horner

Jaden Smith (Dre Parker), Jackie Chan (Mr. Han), Zhenwai Wang (Cheng), Taraji P. Henson (Sherry Parker), Wenwen Han (Meiying)

Updating the 1984 film for a new generation, this version isn't atrociously bad, although it really should've been called The Kung Fu Kid, since that's the principal martial art that it centres around. 
The bare bones from the original lay in place, but with the action relocated to China, it brings a bit of oriental culture into the plot as a replacement for the small town America from the Ralph Macchio version, and the cheesy 80's soundtrack is replaced with teeny-bopper rubbish.
With Will Smith & his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, attached as producers, this does have a nepotistic stink about it and Little Jaden Smith has very little acting capability and even less charisma.
Just like the original version, it's down to the Mr. Miyagi character (played by Jackie Chan and renamed Mr. Han) to save the day.


D: John G. Avildsen
Columbia/Delphi (Jerry Weintraub)
US 1986
113 mins
W: Robert Mark Kamen
DP: James Crabe
Ed: David Garfield, Jane Kurson & John G. Avildsen
Mus: Bill Conti
PD: William J. Cassidy
Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso), Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita (Mr. Miyagi), Nobu McCarthy (Yukie), Tamlyn Tomita (Kumiko)
Cash-in sequel to the 1984 box office smash, taking Daniel and his teacher Mr. Miyagi East to Okinawa, Japan where the latter's father is terminally ill and there are old scores to settle.
While the first film was cheesy fun, this is simply tedious.


D: John G. Avildsen
Columbia Tristar (Jerry Weintraub)
US 1989
112 mins
W: Robert Mark Kamen
DP: Stephen Yaconelli
Ed: John Carter & John G. Avildsen
Mus: Bill Conti
Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso), Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita (Mr. Miyagi), Robyn Lively (Jessica Andrews), Thomas Ian Griffith (Terry Silver), Martin L. Kove (John Creese), Sean Kanan (Mike Barnes), Jonathan Avildsen (Snake)
Even less entertaining than part II, which in itself was a blatant cash-in, this third part to the series of films recycles the same plot from the original movie, as the owner of the dojo whose students were beaten at the championships in the 1984 film seeks his revenge. Mr. Miyagi is clearly fed up in this one (aren't we all), refusing to train Daniel who begins to use a different trainer, unaware that he's a friend of the bad guy and plans to double-cross him.
This poor carbon copy expect the audience to care more about Bonsai trees than about human interest (of which there is very little).  
"Kitten, please."
"Kitten, please."
KEANU (15)
D: Peter Atencio
Warner Bros/New Line/RatPac-Dune/Monkeypaw (Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Peter Principato, Paul Young & Joel Zadak)
US 2016
99 mins


W: Jordan Peele & Alex Rubens
DP: Jas Shelton
Ed: Nicholas Monsour
Mus: Steve Jablonsky & Nathan Whitehead 

Keegan-Michael Key (Clarence / Smoke Dresden), Jordan Peele (Rell / Oil Dresden), Tiffany Haddish (Trina 'Hi-C' Parker), Method Man (Cheddar), Jason Mitchell (Bud), Luis Guzman (Bacon Diaz)

It's best to watch Keanu with as little knowledge about it as possible, as although the plot is a new kind of ludicrous, the film still manages to be incredibly funny.
The title refers to a cute kitten who escapes a drug den and gets to become in the possession of slacker stoner, Rell, who happens to adore the animal.
When the cat is stolen by rivals, Rell and his cousin Clarence pose as drug dealers to infiltrate the gang and take Keanu back.
The more you think about the story, the stupider it becomes, but so what? There's a very cute cat in this film and that's good enough for me.


D: Paul Angunawela
Lions Gate (Aidan Elliott & Mark Huffam)
UK 2012
85 mins
W: Leigh Francis & Paul Angunawela
DP: Julian Court
Ed: Peter Boyle
Leigh Francis (Keith Lemon / various characters), Kelly Brook (herself), Verne Troyer (Archimedes), Kevin Bishop (Dougie), Laura Aikman (Rosie)
Like Sacha Baron Cohen, Leigh Francis is a British comedian who has built an entire career on playing different characters, all of which are fundamentally an exaggeration of his own personality, and though his humour can border on puerile, he's amassed a vast legion of fans during his spell in the limelight, mostly due to his caricatures on the TV show "Bo Selecta" and more recently as foul-mouthed panel show host, Keith Lemon.
Unfortunately, hard-bitten fans will find it difficult to extract any enjoyment from this film, which is a miserable excuse at an attempt for comedy and serves only as an ego project for its star.
The threadbare plot concerns a loser who, desperate for fame, creates a new model for a smartphone and becomes an overnight success, then lives the high life of eating in expensive restaurants and dating Kelly Brook. The plot may not seem so stupid if the jokes weren't jaw-droppingly bad, but they are. This pathetic excuse for a comedy is a lemon.


D: Brian G. Hutton
MGM (Gabriel Kotzka & Sidney Beckerman) 
US/Yugoslavia 1970
143 mins


W: Troy Kennedy Martin
DP: Gabriel Figueroa
Ed: John Jympson
Mus: Lalo Schifrin

Clint Eastwood (Pvt. Kelly), Telly Savalas (Big Joe), Don Rickles (Crapgame), Donald Sutherland (Oddball), Carroll O'Connor (General Colt)

The plot from The Italian Job (qv) is relocated to World War II, where an American platoon abduct a German General and discover the whereabouts of hidden gold.
A perfectly enjoyable "old man's war movie", dated now, but still palatable for bank holiday viewing.


D: John Landis
Alpha (Robert K. Weiss)
US 1977
90 mins
W: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker
DP: Stephen Katz
Ed: George Folsey, Jr.
Marilyn Joi, Saul Kahan, Marcy Goldman, Joe Medalis, Barry Dennen, Rich Gates, Tara Strohmeier, Neil Thompson, George Lazenby, Henry Gibson, Evan Kim
Director John Landis and writers Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker got themselves noticed with this film, which is entirely a series of Saturday Night Live style sketches, parodies and mock news bulletins. Some of the jokes are funnier than others, but many will say it's worth watching alone for the parody of Enter The Dragon about halfway through the running time.
D: Kenneth Loach
United Artists/Woodfall (Tony Garnett)
UK 1969 (released 1970)
109 mins


W: Kenneth Loach, Tony Garnert & Barry Hines [based on the novel "A Kestrel For A Knave" by Barry Hines]
DP: Chris Menges
Ed: Roy Watts
Mus: John Cameron

David Bradley (Billy Casper), Lynn Perrie (Mrs. Casper), Freddie Fletcher (Jud), Colin Welland (Mr. Farthing), Brian Glover (Mr. Sugden)

A gloomy piece of working class Britain at the turn of the 1970's, when the North of England's mining industry was still thriving and the career prospects for most of the pupils at a small Barnsley school was to work in the coalmines.
One of the schoolboys is Billy Casper, whose bullying older brother works in the mines and mother lives on the breadline. Despite coming from the town's poor estate, Billy has a job as a paperboy and tries his best to stay out of trouble after prior altercations with the police, but the teachers at his local school always find a way to punish him merely for his past transgresses.  Billy finds some escapism when he finds a nest of young kestrels in the woods and, after stealing a book about falconry, studies on how to train one, which allows his own confidence to grow and outlook on life develop.
Kes has some uplifting moments, particularly in a scene where one of the school's teachers begins to see the potential that Billy has as he talks about his hobby, but is ultimately a depressingly bleak drama about a life of a routine which can never be broken.
A classic of British cinema, whose influence has been felt in films made since (Billy Elliot, a perfect example) and though some of the production values, scenarios and lines of dialogue feel a little dated, it remains as powerful as it ever was.

D: Matthew Vaughn
Universal/Lions Gate/Marv/Plan B (Matthew Vaughn, Brad Pitt, Kris Thykier, Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack & David Reid)
US/UK 2010
117 mins


W: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn [based on the comic book by Mark Millar & John Romita, Jr.]
DP: Ben Davis
Ed: Pietro Scalia, Jon Harris & Eddie Hamilton
Mus: John Murphy, Henry Jackman, Marius de Vries & Ilan Eshkeri
PD: Russell DeRozario
Cos: Sammy Sheldon

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Dave Lizewski / Kick-Ass), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Chris D'Amico / Red Mist), Chloë Moretz (Mindy MacReady / Hit Girl), Mark Strong (Frank D'Amico), Lyndsy Fonseca (Katie Deauxma), Nicolas Cage (Damon MacReady / Big Daddy)

Like 1999's Mystery Men (qv), this takes superhero parody to a whole new level.
Based itself on a lesser known comic book character, it features a geeky high school student in a crime-ridden city, who decides to don a scuba-diving suit to take on the bad guys, only to discover he's bitten off way too much than he can chew, only to be saved and unite forces with a former cop who dresses up like Batman and his foul-mouthed daughter.
Its tongue firmly in-cheek with spoof, twisted humour and homage to other films and TV shows of the ilk (blatant product placement, etc.) makes it an enormously fun movie to watch, but it wouldn't be for everyone. Avid fans of superhero movies will certainly appreciate the jokes, while the performances of Nicolas Cage & Chloë Moretz steal all the thunder.

KICK-ASS 2 (15)
D: Jeff Wadlow
Universal/Marv/Plan B (Matthew Vaughn, Brad Pitt, Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack & David Reid)
US/UK 2013
103 mins


W: Jeff Wadlow [based on characters created by Mark Millar & John Romita, Jr.]                                  
DP: Tim Maurice-Jones
Ed: Eddie Hamilton
Mus: Henry Jackman
PD: Russell DeRozario
Cos: Sammy Sheldon

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Dave Lizewski / Kick-Ass), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Chris D'Amico / The Motherfucker), Chloë Moretz (Mindy MacReady / Hit-Girl), Jim Carrey (Sal Bertolini / Colonel Stars & Stripes), John Leguizamo (Javier), Clark Duke (Marty Eisenberg / Battle Guy), Morris Chestnut (Det. Marcus Williams)

The satire from the first film has gone but the characters & over the top violence remain in this sequel which isn't nearly as good as the first movie, but isn't altogether that bad either. 
Dave/Kick-Ass is still a high school student by day and vigilante superhero by night, but he's grown up and not so geeky in this. Mindy/Hit Girl is also grown up and going through puberty, leading to a huge segment of this film feeling like outtakes from Mean Girls. It does make for one of the movies funnier moments though.
The story mostly follows Chris/Red Mist, seeking revenge for his father's death as he vies to become the ultimate super-villain (The Motherfucker) and hires an army of costumed baddies to achieve this, in turn forcing Kick Ass to form his own cadre.
As far as sequels go, this isn't by any means terrible, but it lacks the freshness of the first film, misses Nicolas Cage's character and with Hit Girl grown up, it's not shocking or funny when she uses the C-bomb like it was the first movie.  I personally think Mystery Men (qv) was a better movie and it's a shame it went under the radar when it was released.

"An ancient sport becomes a deadly game."
"An ancient sport becomes a deadly game."


D: Mark DiSalle & David Worth
Kings Road (Mark DiSalle)
US 1989
103 mins
W: Glenn Bruce
DP: Jon Kranhouse
Ed: Wayne Wahrman
Mus: Paul Hertzog
Jean Claude Van Damme (Kurt Sloane), Dennis Alexio (Eric Sloane), Dennis Chan (Xian Chow), Michel Qissi (Tong Po), Ka Ting Lee (Freddy Li), Rochelle Ashana (Mylee)
On one hand, Kickboxer is the type of action film which every teenage boy will enjoy, on the other, both time and increased maturity have not been kind to this JCVD blockbuster, which isn't much better than TV movie standard. It's still quite fun to see the high-kicking Belgian take up the martial art to avenge his brother's defeat and subsequent crippling at the hands of a brutal Thai fighter, but it's also so ridiculously cheesy, that it verges on impossible to take the film seriously.


D: Jon Turtletaub

Buena Vista/Disney (Hunt Lowry, Arnold Rifkin, Christina Steinberg, Jon Turtletaub & David Willis)

US 2000

104 mins


W: Audrey Wells

DP: Peter Menzies, Jr.

Ed: Peter Honess & David Rennie

Mus: Marc Shaiman

Bruce Willis (Russ Duritz), Spencer Breslin (Young Russ), Emily Mortimer (Amy), Lily Tomlin (Janet), Chi McBride (Kenny)

Disney's The Kid is a Disney movie. That's important to know for some reason. This "It's A Wonderful Life" style family movie stars Bruce Willis as an image consultant who comes face-to-face with his younger self, who acts as a conscience so he can change his obnoxious ways for the better. Strangely, other characters are able to see the kid as well, where the film may have worked much better if it was only Bruce who could see his younger counterpart giving him wise advice.

Simplistic, but perfectly watchable, although the annoying music score which plays throughout may have you wanting to tear your ears off.

Remember, it's a Disney movie.


D: Lisa Cholodenko
Focus Features (Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Gary Gilbert & Celine Rattray)
US 2010
107 mins


W: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
DP: Igor Jadue-Lillo
Ed: Jeffrey M. Werner
Mus: Carter Burwell, Nathan Larson & Craig Wedren

Annette Bening (Nicole Allgood) Julianne Moore (Jules Allgood), Mark Ruffalo (Paul Hatfield), Mia Wasikowska (Joni Allgood), Josh Hutcherson (Laser Allgood)

A trio of brilliant performances and an intelligent, realistic screenplay make this a very good film.

Annette Bening & Julianne Moore play a married lesbian couple whose kids want to discover who their surrogate father is. They secretly meet him (Mark Ruffalo) and he interlopes in the close family unit, much to the chagrin of Annette Bening's character.

There's been a few movies which have explored this type of theme in the past but they come across more as plots for a sitcom (Made In America a prime example), this balances the scales of comedy and drama perfectly.

Annette Bening is absolute brilliant in this. A career best performance and any other year she would have won the Best Actress Oscar (she lost to Natalie Portman for Black Swan).

A highly recommended watch.


D: Menhaj Huda
Revolver (Menhaj Huda, Amir Madani, George Isaac & Damian Jones)
UK 2006
91 mins


W: Noel Clarke
DP: Brian Tufano
Ed: Victoria Boydell
Mus: The Angel

Aml Ameen (Trevor), Red Madrell (Alisa), Adam Deacon (Jay), Jaime Winstone (Becky), Femi Oyeniran (Moony), Madeliene Fairley (Claire), Cornell John (Curtis), Noel Clarke (Sam)

The title may be clever but the rest of the film has about the same level of intelligence as a piece of GCSE coursework in the wake of left-wing government in which everyone in Britain should just allow the uprise of unlikeable characters, drug abuse, chavs and shit rap music for the sake of diversity and equality... If I wanted to see this I'd just take a stroll through North London instead of watching a depressing movie about it. 
Director Menhaj Huda and screenwriter Noel Clarke haven't done anything original here, they try to make everything look and sound realistic, raw and gritty but the end product is nothing short of pretentious. 
Yes, Clarke's captured the way modern teenagers talk, but that's nothing to be proud of. All it does is glamourise the fact that the English language has been "bear butchered 'n ting".
Yes, there is a seedy side of London, as there is every other city in the world, but all this movie shows is a London without redemption.

"Here comes the bride."
"Here comes the bride."
D: Quentin Tarantino
Miramax/A Band Apart (Lawrence Bender)
US 2003
111 mins


W: Quentin Tarantino
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Sally Menke
Mus: The RZA
PD: Yohei Tanada & David Wasco

Uma Thurman (The Bride), Lucy Liu (O-Ren Ishii), Viveca Fox (Vernita Green), Daryl Hannah (Elle Driver), Michael Madsen (Budd), David Carradine (Bill), Michael Parks (Earl McGraw), Sonny Chiba (Hattori Hanzo)

Even writer-director Quentin Tarantino acknowledges this as a work of nonsense, going as far as describing it as "the kind of movie characters from his other screenplays (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, etc.) would enjoy watching", and that's possibly the best way to describe it. Tarantino blends the elements of film's which have inspired his career to create a fun ode to martial arts and exploitation films of the 1970's.
Uma Thurman plays a nameless character referred to as 'The Bride', who wakes from a lengthy coma to take revenge on the assassins who put her in hospital, ultimately 'killing Bill' a spurned ex-lover who arranged her wedding day ambush.
With the story split into two parts, this first instalment deals mostly with The Bride taking on a female samurai and her cohorts in Japan and leaves the ending open for the adventures to continue in the second film.

"Revenge is a dish best served cold."
"Revenge is a dish best served cold."
D: Quentin Tarantino
Miramax/A Band Apart (Lawrence Bender)
US 2004
136 mins
W: Quentin Tarantino
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Sally Menke
Mus: Robert Rodriguez
PD: David Wasco
Uma Thurman (The Bride), David Carradine (Bill), Michael Madsen (Budd), Daryl Hannah (Elle Driver), Gordon Liu (Pai Mei), Michael Parks (Esteban Vihaio), Perla Haney-Jardine (B.B.), Samuel L. Jackson (Rufus)
The continuation and conclusion of Quentin Tarantino's ode to exploitation films and kung fu flicks of the 70's, with Uma Thurman as vengeful assassin, The Bride.
This second part to the double bill has much less action, focusing instead on the relationships of the characters and the build up to the events in the first film.
Tarantino gives the film great style, with comic book style composition and colours, while the premise is obviously not meant to be taken that seriously. As mentioned in the review for the first film, QT described the films as 'the type of movies that the characters from Pulp Fiction would go to the cinema to watch'. Personally, I think Vincent Vega and Mr. Pink have pretty decent taste.

"A true story of obsession & murder."
"A true story of obsession & murder."
D: John Krokidas
Sony Pictures Classics/Killer Films (Michael Benaroya, Christine Vachon, Rose Ganguzza & John Krokidas)
US 2013
104 mins
W: John Krokidas & Austin Bunn
DP: Reed Morano
Ed: Brian A. Kates
Mus: Nico Muhly
Daniel Radcliffe (Allen Ginsberg), Dane DeHaan (Lucien Carr), Ben Foster (William S. Burroughs), Michael C. Hall (David Kammerer), Jack Huston (Jack Kerouac), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Naomi Ginsberg), Elizabeth Olsen (Edie Parker)
With a title like 'Kill Your Darlings' I was expecting a much more taut, thrilling and dramatic film about a real-life murder.
Based on a true story, the movie focuses on the rise of the 'Beat Generation' writers Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, William S. Burroughs & Jack Kerouac as they plan to go against the grain of conventional prose and indulge themselves in a new wave of literature.
For the most part, the film plays out like Fight Club at Columbia University, except there's no fights, there's no conflict and there's no real drama, just a group of rather unpleasant, self-obsessed characters talking pretentiously and marvelling in their own genius. The only real rebellion they participate in on-screen is stealing the university's library keys to put banned works like Lady Chatterely's Lover on display. 
One of the biggest faults I found with the film was how openly gay Ginsberg & Carr's characters were. Perhaps they were that way in reality, but considering the events in the story took place at a time when homosexuality was not just taboo but forbidden makes this feel totally anachronistic. I'm sure the entire point of the Beat Generation school of literature was to express their lifestyle choices through their writing rather than their actions. In my opinion, the film would have been much more powerful if the characters were wrestling internally with their sexual orientation, instead of leering salaciously at each other throughout the duration.
A murder does takes place in the story but it's very much on the periphery rather than being the integral part of the story that it should be.
Overall, the film is just a giant snorefest despite a handful of good performances, especially Dane DeHaan as Carr.  Daniel Radcliffe, aside from resembling a young Allen Ginsberg is incredibly miscast (perhaps it's because his acting has no real depth. All I see is Harry Potter.)
Worth watching if you want to see a schoolboy wizard having his first gay kiss, but there's no entertainment or even educational value in this film. It's merely an independent film intended to shock with no real merits aside from some decent acting performances.
Also, the intentional anachronisms of having modern songs playing over the soundtrack was complete and utter bollocks. Pretentious bullshit.

"It's craazzy!"
"It's craazzy!"
D: Stephen Chiodo
Trans World Entertainment (Charles Chiodo, Edward Chiodo & Stephen Chiodo) 
US 1988
88 mins

Horror/Science Fiction/Comedy

W: Charles Chiodo, Edward Chiodo & Stephen Chiodo
DP: Alfred Taylor
Ed: Christopher Roth
Mus: John Massari

Grant Cramer (Mike), Suzanne Snyder (Debbie), John Allen Nelson (Sheriff Dave Hanson), Royal Dano (Gene Green), John Vernon (Curtis Mooney)

The title alone immediately tells you that this is a bad movie. Establishing it as a bad movie before the fact, the shocking revelation is that the film isn't too bad at all, in fact, it's quite a lot of fun.
This low budget cult favourite could either work as a horror movie for those who are afraid of clowns, or a goofy comedy for those who aren't.
An alien species who have the appearance of creepy circus clowns invade a small town in Middle America, where they take tremendous glee in turning the population into a candy floss-like substance, going on the rampage with their bizarre arsenal of weapons, including guns that shoot popcorn and balloon animals for dogs.
There's obviously budgetary constraints which prevent the film from having great special effects and some of the more expensive scenes were only shot once, so whatever the quality of the outcome, the footage was included in the film.
Yes, it's an obviously bad movie, but like Plan 9 From Outer Space (qv), this is one where the phrase "so bad, it's good" is completely apt. It's a novelty, and though the joke wears thin towards the end of the film, at 88 minutes long, it's a mercifully short time to immerse yourself in nonsense. 

D: Robert Siodmak
Universal (Mark Hellinger)
US 1946
102 mins


W: Anthony Veiller & John Huston [based on the story by Ernest Hemingway]
DP: Elwood Bredell
Ed: Arthur Hilton
Mus: Miklos Rozsa

Burt Lancaster (Swede), Ava Gardner (Kitty Collins), Edmond O'Brien (Jim Reardon), Albert Dekker (Big Jim Colfax), Sam Levane (Lt. Sam Lubinsky), Virginia Christine (Lilly Lubinsky)

The Killers is a masterpiece of the film noir genre, beginning with a nerve-shredding scene before unveiling the mystery behind the motive.
The opening scene features two menacing, heavy-set gangsters entering a diner where they plan to undertake a contract killing on a man, known to the locals as Swede. After pressing one of the customers for information, they visit a nearby hotel to carry out the assassination.
What follows is a startling piece of originality. The murder is investigated  not by a police detective, but by an insurance man. It is revealed (via flashback) that 'Swede' was a young boxer who becomes involved in the world of organised crime, overseen by kingpin Big Jim Colfax.
Robert Siodmak's moody direction keeps the non-linear narrative gripping, while the performances of the cast are all very good, especially from Burt Lancaster, in one of his earlier roles, and Ava Gardner, in one of her best ever performances as the film's femme fatale. Miklos Rozsa's atmospheric score has since become quite iconic, especially after being used in the TV series Dragnet.

D: Stanley Kubrick 
United Artists (James B. Harris)
US 1956
83 mins


W: Stanley Kubrick & Jim Thompson [based on the novel "Clean Break" by Lionel White]
DP: Lucien Ballard
Ed: Betty Steinberg
Mus: Gerald Fried

Sterling Hayden (Johnny Clay), Coleen Gray (Fay), Vince Edwards (Val Cannon), Jay C. Flippen (Marvin Unger), Marie Windsor (Sherry Peatty)

Early Stanley Kubrick, though it features flourishes of the perfectionist touch of which the director had become accustomed.
An ex-convict enlists the help of others so he can execute a robbery at a racetrack to the tune of $2 million, but, ultimately, things do not go as planned.
The film utilises a documentary style to present realism (which counters the unconvincing sets) and it's rather apparent that the film was inspired by Jules Dassin's Rififi (qv) and the films of John Huston.
It's not amongst the director's best works, but it allowed him a good foothold in the industry to go on and make his more famous works.

D: Roland Joffé
Goldcrest/Enigma (David Puttnam)
UK 1984
141 mins


W: Bruce Robinson [based on the article "The Death & Life Of Dith Pran" by Sydney Schanberg]
DP: Chris Menges
Ed: Jim Clark
Mus: Mike Oldfield
PD: Roy Walker

Sam Waterston (Sydney Schanberg), Haing S. Ngor (Dith Pran), John Malkovich (Al Rockoff), Julian Sands (Jon Swain), Craig T. Nelson (Military Attache), Spalding Gray (US Consul)

Not all films released during the 1980's were cheesy action flicks or teen comedies. In fact, the decade saw plenty of harrowing and dramatic war dramas with a political edge. The Killing Fields is a testament to that.
It isn't an entertaining film by any means, instead, a truly powerful piece of cinematic viewing. 
Set in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot's barbaric Year One regime, when all the "undesirable" Cambodian citizens were executed by the Khmer Rouge, war reporter Sidney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) and his interpreter Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor) are separated during conflict and Pran is left behind enemy lines and struggles for his survival.
Based on a true story, the film won 3 Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Ngor, only the second non-professional to win the award (he was actually a doctor in his native Cambodia).
The film was also honoured as the best of 1984 at the British Academy Awards (Baftas).

"How do you escape what you can't resist?"
"How do you escape what you can't resist?"
D: Chen Kaige
MGM/Montecito (Lynda Myles, Joe Medjuck & Michael Chinich)
UK/US 2002
100 mins


W: Kara Lindstrom [based on the novel by Nicci French]
DP: Michael Coulter
Ed: Jon Gregory
Mus: Patrick Doyle
PD: Gemma Jackson

Heather Graham (Alice Tallis), Joseph Fiennes (Adam Tallis), Natasha McElhone (Deborah), Ulrich Thomsen (Klaus)

American ex-pat living in London, Heather Graham leaves her lover after getting the fuck of her life from mountaineer Joseph Fiennes when he's out and about promoting the book about his intripid exploits. They marry soon after and it doesn't take long before she uncovers some skeletons in his closet.
Joseph Fiennes is given very little to do except mope around looking creepy, while Graham is given even less, miscast as a doe-eyed beauty who gets her kit off at every opportunity. There's some steamy sex scenes, including a little bondage and asphyxiation to get the heart beating faster, but aside from that, a very boring and inconsequential thriller.

D: John Cassavetes
Faces Distribution (John Cassavetes)
US 1976
108 mins (extended version: 135 mins) 


W: John Cassavetes
DP: Mitchell Breit & Al Ruban
Ed: Tom Cornwell
Mus: Bo Harwood

Ben Gazzara (Cosmo Vittelli), Timothy Carey (Flo), Seymour Cassel (Mort Weil), Morgan Woodward (The Boss)

Like all the films of John Cassavetes, this isn't for everyone and is more likely to bore the majority of people rather than enthral.
A seedy strip-club owner finds himself indebted to the mob, and the only way to wipe the slate clean is to assassinate a rival Chinese bookmaker. 
The performance of Ben Gazzara makes the film watchable, but the pedestrian pacing and frequently pretentious direction will leave many people snoring before the film has even got close to its climax.
The shorter version is definitely recommended over the 135 minute version, which even the lead star admitted being bored by.


D: Yorgos Lanthimos

A24/Curzon Artificial Eye/Film 4/New Sparta (Ed Guiney & Yorgos Lanthimos)

Ireland/UK/US 2017

121 mins


W: Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou

DP: Thimios Bakatakis

Ed: Yorgos Mavropsaridis

Colin Farrell (Steven Murphy), Nicole Kidman (Anna Murphy), Barry Keoghan (Martin), Raffey Cassidy (Kim Murphy), Sunny Suljic (Bob Murphy), Alicia Silverstone (Martin's Mother)


Anybody who's seen Yorgos Lanthimos' previous film, The Lobster, would be expecting his latest effort to be equally surreal, and it's probably more so. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is one of those films which will be enjoyed more the less you know about it, so if you don't wish to have the plot spoiled, now is a good time to stop reading.

The film will make you uncomfortable from its opening moment, a close up of open heart surgery which might leave some audience members immediately reaching for a sick bag. The story then develops with Steven Murphy, a hospital surgeon, and a 16-year-old boy called Martin and their strangely uncomfortable relationship. It later emerged that Steven was the surgeon who operated on Martin's father, who passed away during treatment and Steven feels guilty due to some malpractice on his part.

The uncomfortable relationship between the two of them then becomes even more sinister when Steven's children become sick, and he is told by the strange young man that he must choose which of his family members to sacrifice, or they will all die. A twisted revenge plot which is designed for Steven to experience the pain of losing a beloved relation.

The twisted screenplay features comedy so black, the Coen Brothers will surely look on with envious eyes and the film unravels like one of David Lynch's surrealist nightmares. It's partially a modernisation of Greek myth, but one could also summarise it as Michael Haneke's version of Sophie's Choice.

The film won an award for its screenplay at Cannes Film Festival, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see it nominated at the Oscars.

The performances from the entire cast are excellent, including Alicia Silverstone, who surprisingly only appears in one scene, but nearly steals the entire movie with it.

This psychological thriller is definitely not for mainstream audiences, but those whose acquired taste it appeals to will most certainly enjoy it.


D: Andrew Dominik
TWC/Annapurna/Plan B (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz & Anthony Katagas)
US 2012
97 mins


W: Andrew Dominik [based on the novel "Cogan's Trade" by George V. Higgins]
DP: Greig Fraser
Ed: Brian A. Kates & John Paul Horstmann
Mus: Jonathan Elia & David Wittman

Brad Pitt (Jackie Cohan) Scoot McNairy (Frankie), Ben Mendlesohn (Russell) Richard Jenkins (Driver), James Gandolfini (Mickey), Ray Liotta (Markie Trattman), Sam Shepard (Dillon)

Mixed reviews gave this crime-thriller modest box office success, though it should appeal certainly to fans of the genre, especially fans of Martin Scorsese's work, which it apes reasonably well, especially with most of the soundtrack     choices. 
Brad Pitt plays a cool-as-ice hitman who has to restore order after three petty criminals rob a mob-protected poker game run by local gangster Ray Liotta.
Whilst not being as visually impressive as Scorsese's works or as violent as Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, it's still a decent modern crime thriller.  James Gandolfini probably steals the movie as an alcoholic, sex-crazed mob boss.

D: Robert Hamer
Ealing (Michael Balcon)
UK 1949
105 mins


W: Robert Hamer & John Dighton [based on the novel "Israel Rank" by Roy Horniman]
DP: Douglas Slocombe
Ed: Peter Tanner
Mus: Ernest Irving

Dennis Price (Louis Manzini), Valerie Hobson (Edith D'Ascoyne), Alec Guinness (Lord D'Ascoyne / Henry D'Ascoyne / Admiral D'Ascoyne / Ascoyne D'Ascoyne / Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne / Duke of Chalfont), Joan Greenwood (Sibella)

Kind Hearts & Coronets is the film which made Ealing studios synonymous with quality comedy filmmaking in Britain and also gave Alec Guinness a huge step onto the world's stage.
Guinness plays several members of an aristocratic family who are being picked off one-by-one by an impecunious family member, Louis Manzini, who wants to jump the queue to gain nobility.
The plot unravels itself from Manzini's prison cell, as he pens a memoir on the eve of his execution.
The comedy here is far more subtle than in Ealing comedies which followed, but it's still a masterpiece of work which shares a place with The Lavender Hill Mob, The Ladykillers & The Man In The White Suit as the studio's very best.

"Go ahead, you tell him you didn't do your homework."
"Go ahead, you tell him you didn't do your homework."


D: Ivan Reitman
Universal (Brian Grazer & Ivan Reitman)
US 1990
110 mins
W: Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod & Timothy Harris
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Sheldon Kahn & Wendy Bricmont
Mus: Randy Edelman
PD: Bruno Rubeo
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Det. John Kimble), Penelope Ann Miller (Joyce Palmieri / Rachel Myatt Crisp), Pamela Reed (Det. Phoebe O'Hara), Linda Hunt (Miss Schlwoski), Christian Cousins / Joseph Cousins (Dominic Palmieri / Cullen Crisp, Jr.), Richard Tyson (Cullen Crisp), Carroll Baker (Eleanor Crisp)
Following the success of 1988's twins, Arnie once again tests the water of comedy and arguably delivers his best performance in the genre. As detective Richard Kimble, he goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to flush out the former wife of a drug dealer.
While Twins played off the gimmick of pairing Schwarzenegger with Danny DeVito for it's laughs, this film concentrates a lot more on characterisation, as well as a decent story which includes a little romance and some action. Penelope Ann Miller gives a good performance as Arnie's love interest but the film is stolen by supporting actresses Pamela Reed as Schwarzenegger's partner and Linda Hunt as the school's principal.
"Anthony didn't ask to be brought into this world."
"Anthony didn't ask to be brought into this world."


D: Jeffrey Obrow & Stephen Carpenter 
Norkat/FM (Jeffrey Obrow)
US 1987
97 mins
W: Jeffrey Obrow, Stephen Carpenter, John Penney, Earl Ghaffari & Joseph Stefano
DP: Stephen Carpenter
Ed: Earl Ghaffari & John Penney
Mus: David Newman
David Allen Brooks (John Hollins), Rod Steiger (Dr. Phillip Lloyd), Amanda Pays (Melissa Leftridge), Talia Balsam (Sharon Raymond), Kim Hunter (Amanda Hollins)
Unoriginal and not particularly interesting low budget creature feature pitting a group of scientists against a genetically engineered beastie.
It's all been done before and will continue to be done long since. There are a few effective moments and creature effects, but overall it's a film which will only be really appreciated by diehard horror aficionados.
"From nothing comes a king."
"From nothing comes a king."


D: Guy Ritchie

Warner Bros/Weed Road/Safehouse (Akiva Goldsman, Joby Harold, Tory Tunnell, Steve Clark-Hall, Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram)

US/UK/Australia 2017

126 mins


W: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram 

DP: John Mathieson

Ed: James Herbert

Mus: Daniel Pemberton

Charlie Hunnam (King Arthur), Jude Law (Vortigern), Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Mage), Djimon Hounsou (Sir Bedivere), Aidan Gillen (Goosefat Bill), Eric Bana (Uther Pendragon)

Guy Ritchie brings his East End cheeky chappy style to Arthurian Legend, also throwing in whatever he can magpie from Lord Of The Rings, Game Of Thrones and whatever else he pilfer, all to very poor effect.

Charlie Hunnam is the title character, an orphan who believes he grew up in Londinium, but is actually the son of Uther Pendragon, the previous king who was murdered by his supplanter and he escapes a beheading to lead the people in a revolt against evil king Vortigern.

The clash of styles employed by Guy Ritchie really doesn't work, the dialogue is boisterous, loud and two characters talking about how West Ham United got on at the weekend wouldn't have felt out of place with the filmmaker's Cor Blimey approach. Charlie Hunnam can't deliver a British accent convincingly, despite being British, and the whole film is a complete and utter mess.

Legend of the Sword? More like Legend of the Bored.


D: Merian C. Cooper & Ernest Schoedsack
RKO (Merian C. Cooper)
US 1933
100 mins


W: James Creelman & Ruth Rose
DP: Edward Linden, Vernon Walker & L. O. Taylor
Ed: Ted Cheesman
Mus: Max Steiner
PD: Carroll Clark, Al Herman & Van Nest Polglase

Robert Armstrong (Carl Denham), Fay Wray (Ann Darrow), Bruce Cabot (John Driscoll), Frank Reicher (Capt. Englehorn), Sam Hardy (Charles Weston)

Although later versions updated visual effects and production values for modern audiences, the original 1933 version of King Kong remains a pioneering enterprise in filmmaking as well as a milestone in photographic effects and stop-motion animation. The film also remains one of the greatest monster movies of all time.
An unscrupulous film director sets sail for an undiscovered island, where prehistoric creatures still exist, including Kong, a giant ape which takes a beautiful actress as its hostage, before they overcome it and bring it back to New York City in chains for it to become a fairground attraction.
Unlike later versions, the pacing of the story doesn't let up and despite some of the effects looking dated, it is still a marvellous spectacle to behold.

D: John Guillermin
Universal (Dino de Laurentiis)
US 1976
135 mins


W: Lorenzo Semple, Jr. [based on the screenplay by James Creelman & Ruth Rose]
DP: Richard H. Kline
Ed: Ralph Winters
Mus: John Barry
PD: Dale Hennesy & Mario Chiari

Jeff Bridges (Jack Prescott), Charles Grodin (Fred S. Wilson), Jessica Lange (Dean), John Randolph (Captain Ross), Rene Auberjonois (Roy Bagley), Julius Harris (Boan), Ed Lauter (Carnahan)

Though the bare bones of the story remain, many changes evolve from the 1933 version to make this more apt for the 1970's. A filmmaking crew becomes an oil company, visiting Skull Island for raw petroleum when they make the discovery of the island's giant ape inhabitant.
Another change is The World Trade Center replacing the Empire State Building at the climax, but through it all, this feels like a spoof rather than a remake, with some hammy performances and special effects of varying quality (some scenes are clearly a man in a suit, while other scenes, barely on screen for a few seconds, were created from large scale models at huge expense).
Completely inferior to the original film and largely ignorable now since another remake was released in 2005.

D: Peter Jackson
Universal/Wingnut (Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh & Peter Jackson)
US/New Zealand 2005
179 mins


W: Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens & Peter Jackson [based on the screenplay by James Creelman & Ruth Rose]
DP: Andrew Lesnie
Ed: Jamie Selkirk
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Grant Major
Cos: Terry Ryan

Naomi Watts (Ann Darrow), Adrien Brody (Jack Driscoll), Jack Black (Carl Denham), Thomas Kretschmann (Capt. Englehorn), Colin Hanks (Preston), Jamie Bell (Jimmy), Andy Serkis (Kong / Lumpy)

The original film was clearly of huge inspiration to Peter Jackson who makes this a labour of love with cutting edge visual effects and huge attention to the Depression Era period bringing this remake to the big screens.
Despite all this, the film is stretched out way beyond its running time with almost suicidal pacing (the first hour is practically redundant) and spending way too much time developing characters who are only peripheral to the main plot (does anybody really care about Lumpy the ship's cook?). Unfortunately, this is Peter Jackson's biggest weakness of all his films, not knowing when enough is enough and blowing everything up to huge excess.
The Oscar-winning visual effects may be a feast on the eyes, but it won't stop your backside from going numb. The 1933 original still remains the outstanding film, but this remake is a huge improvement on the 1976 version.

"He's alive!"
"He's alive!"


D: John Guillermin
DEG (Martha Schumacher)
US 1986
105 mins


W: Nathan Jenson & Steven Pressfield
DP: Alec Mills
Ed: Malcolm Cooke
Mus: John Scott

Linda Hamilton (Dr. Amy Franklin), Brian Kerwin (Hank Mitchell), Peter Elliott (Kong)

A sequel to the 1976 remake (which wasn't particularly good in the first place), this features a rather silly storyline and some incredibly poor visual effects.
In short: King Kong survives his fall from a New York skyscraper and a female "Queen Kong" is discovered on (another) Skull Island.
Kong just wants to get it on. That's pretty much the long and short of it. It's all very ridiculous.
"It's no laughing matter."
"It's no laughing matter."


D: Martin Scorsese 
20th Century Fox/Embassy (Arnon Milchan) 
US 1983
108 mins
W: Paul Zimmerman
DP: Fred Schuler
Ed: Thelma Schoonmaker
Mus: Robbie Robertson
PD: Boris Leven
Cos: Richard Bruno
Robert DeNiro (Rupert Pupkin), Jerry Lewis (Jerry Langford), Diahnne Abbott (Rita), Sandra Bernhard (Masha)
The King Of Comedy is one of the lesser known collaborations between director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert DeNiro, but is every bit as good as the more popular partnerships (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, etc).
DeNiro stars as Rupert Pupkin, an oddball so obsessed with becoming the world's most famous comedian that he begins to stalk his idol, late night talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), even going as far as kidnapping him.
One of the best films of 1983 and ample proof that its director can tackle black comedy as well as gangster movies and biopics.
D: Abel Ferrara
Rank/Reteitalia/Scena/Caminito (Mary Kane)
US 1990
103 mins


W: Nicholas St. John
DP: Bojan Bozelli
Ed: Anthony Redman
Mus: Joe Delia
PD: Alex Tavoularis

Christopher Walken (Frank White), David Caruso (Dennis Gilley), Laurence Fishburne (Jimmy Jump), Victor Argo (Roy Bishop), Wesley Snipes (Thomas Flannigan)

On his release from prison, a New York gangster takes over the city's drug trafficking by murdering his rivals.
A slow, average gangster movie which attempts to come off as a modern spin on Robin Hood legend. It's all rather unremarkable aside from a cold-blooded performance from Christopher Walken.


D: James Marsh

Studiocanal/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Ali Jaafar & Michelle Wright)

UK 2018

108 mins


W: Joe Penhall

DP: Danny Cohen

Ed: Nick Moore & Jinx Godfrey

Mus: Benjamin Wallfisch

Michael Caine (Brian Reader), Jim Broadbent (Terry Perkins), Ray Winstone (Danny Jones), Tom Courtenay (John Kenny Collins), Charlie Cox (Basil), Paul Whitehouse (Carl Wood), Michael Gambon (Billy 'The Fish' Lincoln)

Aka The Over-The-Hill Mob, King Of Thieves reconstructs the events surrounding the robbery of a Hatton Garden safe deposit, where over £200 million was stolen in cash, gold, jewellery and diamonds, of which some has still not been recovered.

Michael Caine is the leader of the group and he is joined by a cadre of elderly, experienced thieves with the only young member of the criminals portrayed by Charlie Cox as an alarm systems expert.

As a crime caper, the film only has one joke of "the thieves are old" which is beaten to death. However, as a reconstruction of events, it's quite well done and maintains interest over the running time.

Of the cast members, Michael Caine and Ray Winstone do their usual, but Jim Broadbent is very much against type as a right 'orrible c**t.

Reasonably well helmed by James Marsh, it isn't the finest heist movie you'll ever see, but it is a good timekiller.


"A comedy of majestic proportion."
"A comedy of majestic proportion."
D: David S. Ward
UIP/Universal/Mirage (Jack Brodsky)
US/UK 1991
97 mins
W: David S. Ward [based on the novel "Headlong" by Emlyn Williams]
DP: Kenneth MacMillan
Ed: John Jympson
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Simon Holland
John Goodman (Ralph Hampton Gainesworth Jones), Peter O'Toole (Sir Cedric Charles Willingham), John Hurt (Lord Percival Graves), Camille Coduri (Miranda Greene), Richard Griffiths (Duncan Phipps), Joely Richardson (Princess Anna), Julian Glover (King Gustav of Finland)
After the entire Royal Family are killed in an accident, the only living heir to the throne is Ralph, a slobby American bar singer with no knowledge of British tradition or grace. The Prime Minister then attempts to undermine him and embroil him in a sex scandal so he can claim the throne for himself.
While this comedy isn't blessed with the funniest of screenplays, John Goodman's flamboyance and chutzpah gives the film some funny moments. It's a bit insulting to UK audiences, whose culture it heavily lampoons, but won't cause any offence if taken with a pinch of salt.
D: J. Lee Thompson
Cannon (Menahem Golan & Yoram Globus)
US 1985
100 mins


W: Gene Quintano & James R. Silke [based on the novel by H. Rider Haggard]
DP: Alex Phillips
Ed: John Shirley
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: Luciano Spadoni

Richard Chamberlain (Allan Quatermain), Sharon Stone (Jesse Huston), Herbert Lom (Col. Bockner), John Rhys-Davies (Dogati)

Popcorn and junk food adaptation of H. Rider Haggard's novel, which is much closer to a remake of Indiana Jones movies than to its source material.
An adventurer and his female sidekick hunt for fable treasure which is also desired by a cadre of infamous bad guys.
The production values are of the cheapest kind, as usual for Cannon-produced films. The less said about the performances the better.

"Let courage reign."
"Let courage reign."
D: Tom Hooper
The Weinstein Company/UK Film Council/See Saw/Bedlam (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman & Gareth Unwin)
UK 2010
113 mins


W: David Seidler
DP: Danny Cohen
Ed: Tariq Anwar
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
PD: Eve Stewart
Cos: Jenny Beavan

Colin Firth (King George VI), Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue), Helena Bonham-Carter (Queen Elizabeth), Guy Pearce (Edward VIII), Timothy Spall (Winston Churchill), Derek Jacobi (Cosmo Lang), Jennifer Ehle (Myrtle Logue), Michael Gambon (George V)

This biopic of King George VI focuses on his ascendancy to the throne after the abdication of Edward VIII and sees him overcome a stutter to deliver a passionate speech to the country on the Eve of the Second World War.
What gives this drama such raw emotional power is not just the excellent performance of lead actor Colin Firth, but the relationship between him and his speech therapist, played with gusto by Geoffrey Rush. 
The screenplay may feel as though the subject would work better as a stage play, but as a film it's still an exemplary piece of work, winning the 2010 Oscar for Best Picture.

D: Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly
Rysher (Brad Krevoy, Steve Stabler & Bradley Thomas)
US 1996
113 mins


W: Barry Fanaro & Mort Nathan
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Christopher Greenbury
Mus: Freddy Johnston

Woody Harrelson (Roy Munson), Randy Quaid (Ishmael Boorg), Vanessa Angel (Claudia), Bill Murray (Ernie McCracken)

This gross-out comedy was the Farrelly's follow up to Dumb & Dumber, and though it didn't reap the box office takings of its predecessor, it's still every bit as funny (if you can take it), poking fun at the Amish community as well as Redneck America.
Woody Harrelson stars as Roy Munson, a once professional bowler with a wicked arm, but after losing it in an accident he turns into an alcoholic hustler.
He takes a talented Amish bowler (Randy Quaid) under his wing, and with the help of a beautiful gangster's moll (Angel), they journey to Vegas to participate in the annual competition.
Some of the humour is, of course, in the worst possible taste, but a talented cast make it much more than your average toilet comedy, especially Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray and their terrible comb-overs

D: Matthew Vaughn
20th Century Fox/Marv/Cloudy/Shangri-La (Adam Bohling, David Reid & Matthew Vaughn)
US/UK 2014 (released 2015)
129 mins


W: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn [based on the comic book series "The Secret Service" by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons]
DP: George Richmond
Ed: Eddie Hamilton & Jon Harris
Mus: Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson 

Colin Firth (Harry 'Galahad' Hart), Taron Egerton (Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin), Mark Strong (Merlin), Samuel L. Jackson (Richmond Valentine), Michael Caine (Chester 'Arthur' King)

Kingsman: The Secret Service may have flown below the radar of some of the more well-marketed films of early 2015, but the lack of more obvious publicity certainly didn't harm its commercial success earlier in the year.
Based on a comic book from the same stable as Kick-Ass, much of the same film production crew brings this comedy-adventure to the big screen, following a group of British secret service agents who are descendants of Arthurian knights.
The film opens with a Kingsman agent being slain during a rescue attempt, thus the need for a new cadet.  Suave Saville Row tailor Harry Hart (aka Galahad) (Colin Firth) thinks foul-mouthed, parkour-practicing Eggsy, a young hoodlum from a seedy council estate, has what it takes to become the next secret agent and enlists him in a rigorous training programme to see if he has the right stuff. In the meantime, a communications tycoon plans on world domination with a nefarious scheme involving his free cellular network to control its users and their aggression.
The story draws on several inspirations, most notably British spy staples like James Bond, the Avengers TV series, and to a lesser extent X-Men, Men In Black & even perhaps something as gritty as Harry Brown.
The comedy throughout is highly amusing, with good performances from young actor Taron Egerton and Colin Firth, whilst Samuel L. Jackson does a good job as a rather cowardly villain with a phobia of blood. 
Some of the visual effects in places seem a little unpolished, but this is made up for by some brilliantly staged choreography during the action set pieces.
Quite possibly the most pleasant surprise of 2015.


D: Matthew Vaughn

20th Century Fox/Marv (Matthew Vaughn, David Reid & Adam Bohling)

UK/US 2017

141 mins


W: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn [based on characters created by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons]

DP: George Richmond

Ed: Eddie Hamilton

Mus: Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson

Taron Egerton (Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin), Colin Firth (Harry Hart / Galahad), Julianne Moore (Poppy Adams), Mark Strong (Merlin), Pedro Pascal (Whiskey), Jeff Bridges (Champagne), Halle Berry (Ginger Ale), Channing Tatum (Tequila), Edward Holcroft (Charlie Hesketh), Hanna Alström (Princess Tilde), Elton John (himself)

The first Kingsman movie was to the spy genre what Kick-Ass was to superhero movies, and was amongst the pleasant surprises of the year when it was released in early 2015. A sequel was inevitable, but alas, this is little more than a cash grab.

Like a Bond film, no time is wasted waiting for the first action set piece, when Eggsy is attacked by rogue applicant Charlie Hesketh, now with a bionic arm, outside the Kingsman tailor shop and secret headquarters. 

Before the first act concludes, all of the Kingsmen except Eggsy and Merlin are bombed at their homes, leaving the two survivors to unite with their American counterparts, the Statesmen, in order to defeat villainess Poppy Adams, a drug dealer who holds the world to ransom when her modified products cause users to suffer blue rashes, paralysis and ultimately death. The good news is that the original Galahad (Colin Firth) is alive and well, because bullet wounds to the head are not fatal (seriously, the film gives us that explanation, so we should just go with it.)

There's a none-too-subtle allegory for the Trump presidency shoved down our throats before the Kingsmen and Statesmen get to work. 

Though the action set pieces maintain interest of this spy spoof, the humour is nowhere near as funny as the original film and the suspension of disbelief requires a little too much from the audience. Some cameos are wasted entirely, such as Channing Tatum, who barely gets 10 minutes screentime, and Elton John, playing himself to embarrassingly unfunny levels with what is, frankly, a one-joke part.

There are some good scenes, but the overall film is a bit of a mess which doesn't capture the magic of the original film. Disappointing. 


"Aunt Felice has a nasty way of showing her affection..."
"Aunt Felice has a nasty way of showing her affection..."
D: Pen Densham
Columbia Tristar/Trilogy/Astral (Pen Densham & John Watson)
US 1988
98 mins
W: Stephen Volk & Tom Ropelewski
DP: François Protat
Ed: Stan Cole
Mus: J. Peter Robinson
Joanna Pacula (Felice Dunbar), Meredith Salenger (Amy Halloran), Nicholas Kilbertus (Jack Halloran), Mimi Kuzyk (Brenda Carson)
Low-budget horror starring Joanna Pacula as a model harbouring a secret dark side, she's part of a cult of witch-like creatures who pass on their gifts and curses via a kiss. 
Though the screenplay isn't terribly original, the film does possess some incredibly impressive gore effects and some effectively chilling moments. The performances are adequate and it's reasonably well directed for a modest, small-budget scary movie.
"Sex. Murder. Mystery. Welcome to the party."
"Sex. Murder. Mystery. Welcome to the party."
D: Shane Black
Warner Bros. (Joel Silver)
US 2005
103 mins
W: Shane Black
DP: Michael Barrett
Ed: Jim Page
Mus: John Ottman
Robert Downey, Jr. (Harry Lockhart), Val Kilmer (Gay Perry), Michelle Monaghan (Harmony Faith Lane), Corbin Bernsen (Harlan Dexter), Dash Mihok (Mr. Frying Pan)
Robert Downey, Jr. steals this movie!! 
He plays a petty thief who is mistaken for an actor & given the assignment of going on a routine errand with Hollywood Private Eye Val Kilmer in order to do some homework on the kind of character he'll be portraying.
The two of them find themselves involved in a real-life mystery, including dead bodies, dismembered fingers and near death experiences.  It's quite similar to writer/director Shane Black's previous movies (The Last Boy Scout, Lethal Weapon) with the right amount of black comedy and acerbic, sarcastic dialogue.
It's no classic, but good fun for fans of action/thriller movies.

D: Hector Babenco
HB/Sugarloaf (David Weisman)
US/Brazil 1985
119 mins


W: Leonard Schrader [based on the novel by Manuel Puig]
DP: Rodolfo Sanchez
Ed: Mauro Alice & Lee Percy
Mus: John Neschling

William Hurt (Luis Molina), Raul Julia (Valentin Arregui), Sonia Braga (Leni Lamaison / Marta / Spider Woman)

Those settling down to watch this expecting a horror movie will be sorely disappointed. The title may allude to that particular genre, but this a political prison drama with main character who is flamboyantly homosexual.
Luis Molina (William Hurt), jailed for offences against a minor, shares a cell with political prisoner Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia), whom he entertains with stories about his favourite pulp movies, all of which star Spider Woman (Sonia Braga).
The main plot of the film develops slowly, only truly taking shape in the final 30 minutes, so it's understood if people switch off before then, but it's really worth sticking with.
In hindsight, it's quite strange that William Hurt won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of, what is basically, an effeminate, overly camp stereotype, but it has to be remembered that this performance is amongst the first of its kind.  Though it must be said that Raul Julia's performance is the one to watch, full of quiet rage and pent up aggression.
It's certainly not a film for everyone, but should find a core audience amongst art house aficionados.

"How much hell can two people raise in the middle of nowhere?"
"How much hell can two people raise in the middle of nowhere?"
D: Bill Bennett
AFFC (Bill Bennett)
Australia 1998
95 mins
W: Bill Bennett
DP: Malcolm McCulloch
Ed: Henry Dangar
Frances O'Connor (Nikki Davies), Matt Day (Al Fletcher), Chris Haywood (Det. Hummer), Barry Otto (Adler Jones)
A tense road movie with a twist on conventional getaway thrillers, Frances O'Connor and Matt Day play an amoral couple of petty thieves who are on the chase with a videotape which implicates a famous footballer in child pornography.
Frances O'Connor's brilliant performance paved the way for a brief foray into Hollywood movies (Steven Spielberg cast her in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence on the strength of her performance in this).
As good as it is, it's not quite as memorable as other films with similar themes (Badlands, The Getaway, etc), but is most certainly worth a watch
D: Marc Forster
Paramount (William Horberg, Walter F. Parkes, Rebecca Yeldham & E. Bennett Walsh)
US/China 2007
127 mins


W: David Benioff [based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini]
DP: Roberto Schaefer
Ed: Matt Chesse
Mus: Alberto Iglesias

Khalid Abdallah (Amir), Homayound Ershadi (Baba), Shaun Toub (Rahim Khan), Atossa Leoni (Soraya), Saïd Taghmaoui (Farid)

An exceptional US-funded foreign language feature adapted from a huge bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini.
The story begins in the 1970's Afghanistan, prior the Russian invasion and its aftermath, when the two boys, whose fathers were servant and master, fly kites together, but their friendship begins to deteriorate when one is bullied over his race, while the other fails to stand by his defence. A decision that haunts the young boy who into his adulthood.
Good performances, especially from Homayound Ershadi as Amir's father, a well-written screenplay, great photography and brilliant music make this amongst the best films of 2007.

"He will rock you."
"He will rock you."
D: Brian Helgeland
Columbia Tristar/Escape Artists/Finestkind (Tim Van Rellim, Todd Black & Brian Helgeland)
US 2001
132 mins


W: Brian Helgeland
DP: Richard Greatrex
Ed: Kevin Stitt
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Tony Burrough
Cos: Caroline Harris

Heath Ledger (William Thatcher / Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein), Mark Addy (Roland), Rufus Sewell (Count Adhemar), Paul Bettany (Geoffrey Chaucer), Shannyn Sossamon (Jocelyn), Alan Tudyk (Wat)

A tribute to Chaucer rather than a direct adaptation of his works, this deliberately anachronistic swashbuckling adventure depicts jousting as a medium of entertainment for the Olde English in the same way modern day folk would watch a football match, with the addition Queen's greatest rock hits. 
It's a fun poke at the history books with enjoyable performances, especially from Ledger and Bettany and is an entertaining popcorn flick which is nigh impossible to take seriously on any level.

"A one night stand to end all others."
"A one night stand to end all others."
D: Judd Apatow
Universal (Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson & Clayton Townsend)
US 2007
127 mins
W: Judd Apatow
DP: Eric Edwards
Ed: Brent White & Craig Alpert
Mus: Loudon Wainwright & Joe Henry
Seth Rogen (Ben Stone), Katherine Heigl (Alison Scott), Paul Rudd (Pete), Leslie Mann (Debbie)
Released the same year as Juno (qv), this less-quirky approach to an unplanned, unexpected pregnancy is both far funnier and much more responsible with its depiction of a young woman facing a life-changing decision.
A entertainment TV hostess has a drunken one-night-stand with a layabout stoner who she meets while celebrating her promotion at a nightclub, after becoming pregnant as a result, she becomes torn over doing the right thing , eventually inviting him into her life, which prompts him to become more responsible and give up getting high with his buddies.
Judd Apatow's brand of comedy is heavily dependant on witty one-liners, most of which are ad-libbed, with the cast practically playing themselves and all the characters (particularly the male ones) being far too similar to one another, but the focus on the main relationship is the key to this film, putting an odd pairing of Seth Rogen & Katherine Heigl together, yet the chemistry between them feels realistic, whilst Heigl's on-screen sister Leslie Mann & her husband Paul Rudd seem much better suited, yet spend almost the entire film immersed in petty squabbles.
There's a few gross-out moments which the film would have been much better without, but it's still a great deal more enjoyable and less pretentious than its hipster doppelgänger mentioned above.
"What happens when the numbers run out?"
"What happens when the numbers run out?"


D: Alex Proyas
Summit/Escape Artists/DMG (Alex Proyas, Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal & Steve Tisch)
US/UK 2009
121 mins
Science Fiction/Thriller
W: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden & Stiles White
DP: Simon Duggan
Ed: Richard Learoyd
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Nicolas Cage (Prof. John Koestler), Rose Byrne (Diana Wayland), Chandler Cantlebury (Caleb Koestler), Lara Robinson (Lucinda Embry), Ben Mendlesohn (Prof. Phil Beckman), Nadia Townsend (Grace Koestler)
A father becomes obsessed with a mathematical formula which appears to predict impending natural disasters and the end of humanity.
The first half of the movie begins quite promisingly, but Nicolas Cage's cheesy acting, some atrocious CGI visual effects and a pathetically bad ending lets it all go South. Somewhere in the writing, there was a good idea for a disaster flick in the vein of The Medusa Touch (qv), unfortunately it all got chewed up and spewed out as some form of propaganda for the Scientology cult. It's a small miracle that Tom Cruise or John Travolta didn't take on the lead role themselves.
"Welcome to the bottom of the food chain."
"Welcome to the bottom of the food chain."
D: Michael Lantieri
Scanbox Asia Pacific (Alan Riche & Tony Ludwig)
Australia 1999
90 mins
W: Hans Bauer & Craig Mitchell
DP: David Burr
Ed: Michael Fallavollita
Mus: John Debney
Jill Hennessy (Victoria), Billy Burke (Oates), Kevin Zegers (Patrick), Paul Gleeson (Denby)
Komodo dragon eggs are dumped on a North Carolina beach in the 1970's. 20 years later they hatch and the young dragons have an appetite...
Average creature feature with unconvincing giant lizards and even less convincing acting, disappointing considering the film is directed by special effects expert Michael Lantieri (of Jurassic Park fame).
The formula has been done long before and will continue to be done since.
Enjoyable enough for a "bad movie", but not as memorable as others.


D: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Warner Bros/Legendary/Tencent (Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni & Alex Garcia)

US 2017

118 mins


W: John Gatins [based on the screenplay "King Kong" by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace]

DP: Larry Fong

Ed: Richard Pearson

Mus: Henry Jackman

Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad), Samuel L. Jackson (Lt. Col. Preston Packard), John Goodman (Bill Randa), Brie Larson (Mason Weaver), John C. Reilly (Hank Marlow), Toby Kebbell (Jack Chapman), Jing Tian (San Lin)

The Hollywood reboot machine continues to churn, even going as far as to ask us to ignore that classic films ever existed and just pay our money, sit out asses down and watch what is presented.

The plot of 1933's King Kong is the victim here, regurgitated into an anti-Vietnam war parable with the action based in the 1970's, rather than the roaring thirties. 

A joint military-scientific mission sees a large group sent to the island of the title, where they are met with hostility by the giant ape after dropping destructive bombs willy-nilly. 

Those who survive must find their way to the north side of the island to await rescue with a host of large, prehistoric beasties ready to gobble them up at every turn. The twist soon emerges that King isn't the real beast, and is actually a protector for the indigenous people of the island, but this doesn't matter to militant colonel Samuel L. Jackson, who had revenge in mind for all the blood spilt.

As a standalone film, Kong: Skull Island is very enjoyable, with some superb visual effects, and the Vietnam allegory does work for the most part. Unfortunately, sticking the knife in a classic film just doesn't sit well for me, at all, and I would have had more respect if this was a completely original work, but it's becoming increasingly clear that originality doesn't belong in Hollywood, and without slapping fake nostalgia over everything they touch, they just aren't willing to take a gamble.

It's worth noting that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts doesn't seem to take to criticism of his film well, and has defended it on Twitter with various posts... and this film is probably a good example of too many cooks spoiling the broth, as it's obvious that studio involvement was a hindrance. It's actually very well directed, but it's still a huge insult to the 1933 film, which should always be hailed as a cinematic masterpiece.

It's probably on a par with Peter Jackson's version, and is an improvement on both the 1976 King Kong and the atrocious 1986 film King Kong Lives.


D: Robert Benton
Columbia (Stanley R. Jaffe)
US 1979
105 mins
W: Robert Benton [based on the novel by Avery Corman]
DP: Nestor Almendros
Ed: Jerry Greenberg
PD: Paul Sylbert
Cos: Ruth Morley
Dustin Hoffman (Ted Kramer), Meryl Streep (Joanna Kramer), Jane Alexander (Margaret Phelps), Justin Henry (Billy Kramer), Howard Duff (John Shaunessy), George Coe (Jim O'Connor), JoBeth Williams (Phyllis Bernard)
Kramer vs Kramer is possibly the first mainstream Hollywood film to deal with the subject of divorce as Ted & Joanna Kramer separate and fight for custody of their young son, Billy.
Ted tries his best to juggle caring for his boy whilst maintaining his position at a high-end New York advertising firm, struggling to do both at first before settling into a routine through the help of a female neighbour. 
The film does a wonderful job depicting a strong father figure who has to take up the role of both parents, but also shows sympathy towards the mother, stuck in a loveless marriage in which it tore her apart to leave for the sake of her son.
Dustin Hoffman & Meryl Streep are both excellent and the film carries a lot of emotional weight, as well as having a few lighter, tender moments which are particularly memorable.


D: Peter Medak
Rank/Parkfield (Dominic Anciano & Ray Burdis)
UK 1990
119 mins


W: Philip Ridley
DP: Alex Thomson
Ed: Martin Walsh
Mus: Michael Kamen

Gary Kemp (Ronnie Kray), Martin Kemp (Reggie Kray), Billie Whitelaw (Violet Kray), Susan Fleetwood (Rose), Charlotte Cornwell (May), Jimmy Jewel (Cannonball Lee), Kate Hardie (Frances)

Made with the coorporation of the real-life Kray twins, this feels more like an episode of a soap opera than a biopic of England's most infamous criminal duo. 
The film focuses on the life of the twins, played by Spandau Ballet's Gary & Martin Kemp, as they grow up in a mother-dominated household in London's East End. Though violent moments are directed in an unflinching manner, the film edges closer and closer to glamorising the gangsters and their culture as the film progresses.
The screenplay could have presented a less bias portrayal, but there's no complaints about the acting, especially from Billie Whitelaw as the twins' mother.
"A world light years beyond your imagination."
"A world light years beyond your imagination."
D: Peter Yates
Columbia (Ted Mann & Ron Silverman)
UK 1983
121 mins
W: Stanford Sherman
DP: Peter Suschitzky
Mus: James Horner
PD: Stephen Grimes
Ken Marshall (Prince Colwyn), Lysette Anthony (Princess Lysa), Freddie Jones (Ynyr), Francesca Annis (The Widow of the Web), Alun Armstrong (Torquil), David Battley (Ergo the Magnificent), Bernard Bresslaw (Rell), Liam Neeson (Kegan), Todd Carty (Oswyn)
The Welsh Film Board attempted to do its own version of Star Wars with this sword & sorcery adventure which, unfortunately, has dated incredibly poorly.
On his wedding day, a prince sees his bride captured and held prisoner by a giant monster in a teleporting castle. A wise old wizard assists him in finding an ancient weapon capable of killing the beast, as well as discovering the location of the castle which begins each new day in a different part of the vast fantasy world.
Some of the makeup effects still look good, but the visual effects look ropey and the acting is particularly hammy, especially from a supporting actor who plays a young magician whose power is limited to turning himself into a duck. James Horner's rousing music still sounds good and the film will still be looked upon nostalgically by         those who enjoyed it during the 1980's. It's unlikely to capture any modern audiences though, who would most probably view it with derision.


D: Travis Knight

Focus Features/Laika (Travis Knight & Arianne Sutner)

US 2016

102 mins


W: Marc Haimes & Chris Butler

Mus: Dario Marianelli

voices of: Art Parkinson (Kubo), Charlize Theron (Sariatu / Monkey), Matthew McConaughey (Hanzo / Beetle), Ralph Fiennes (Raiden), Rooney Mara (Karasu / Yukami), George Takei (Hosato)

Some might mistake Kubo & The Two Strings as a Japanese produced anime film from the promotional material, and though the story takes root in ancient Japan, the film is produced by American production studios Laika, who previously brought films like Coraline and Paranorman to the big screen.

The story revolves around Kubo, a one-eyed boy with magical powers which revolve around his shamisen musical instrument, which can bring origami figures to life.

He is pursued by his two evil aunts and wizard grandfather, who tries to steal Kubo's other eye to prevent the boy from seeing into people's souls. When his mother is murdered, Kubo is assisted by a talking monkey and a samurai beetle, on a quest to find an unbreakable sword and protective armour, so he can defeat the evil spirits which haunt him.

The most impressive factor of Kubo & The Two Strings is the stop-motion animation, which is the best I've personally ever seen, while the story does present a heartwarming message about the importance of personal memories, especially surrounding family, which are deemed to be the greatest magic of all.


"When you have attitude who needs experience?"
"When you have attitude who needs experience?"
KUFFS (15)
D: Bruce A. Evans
Universal (Raynold Gideon)
US 1992
101 mins


W: Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon
DP: Thomas Del Ruth
Ed: Stephen Semel
Mus: Harold Faltermeyer

Christian Slater (George Kuffs), Tony Goldwyn (Ted Bukovsky), Milla Jovovich (Maya Carlton), Bruce Boxleitner (Brad Kuffs), Troy Evans (Captain Morino)

When his cop brother dies, slacker George Kuffs inherits his police precinct and sets about solving the crime. At least until a corrupt DA partners him with a strictly by-the-book officer who doesn't want to get involved in any scandal.
This mismatched cop comedy relies far too much on Christian Slater narrating direct-to-camera in the mannerisms of Ferris Bueller, whilst the majority of jokes are unfunny and puerile.
Still, if this film was played straight it would still be littered with predictable cliches and a nonsensical plot.

D: Stephen Chow
Columbia/Sony Pictures Classics (Stephen Chow, Chui Po-Chu & Jeff Lau)
Hong Kong/China 2004 (released 2005)
99 mins


W: Stephen Chow, Tsang Kan-Cheong, Xin Huo & Chan Man-Keung
DP: Poon Hang-Seng
Ed: Angie Lam
Mus: Raymond Wong, Stephen Chow, Hang Yi & Xian Luo Zong

Stephen Chow (Sing), Yuen Wah (Landlord of Pig Sty Alley), Yuen Qiu (Landlady of Pig Sty Alley), Leung Siu-Lung (The Beast)

In 1940's China, a wannabe gangster aspires to join a notorious gang, while residents of a housing complex demonstrate extraordinary powers in defending their turf.
The film is a rather surreal mix of martial arts, action and comedy, but highly entertaining, though there will be some who will find it hard to get through the opening 30 minutes.

D: John Stevenson & Mark Osborne 
Dreamworks (Melissa Cobb)
US 2008
92 mins
W: Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger
Mus: Hans Zimmer
voices of: Jack Black (Po), Dustin Hoffman (Master Shifu), Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Ian McShane (Tai Lung), Jackie Chan (Master Monkey), Lucy Liu (Viper)
While it's not quite up there with the best animated films of recent times, its appeal to young children helped it spawn a couple of sequels and some spin-off short films.
The film is what it is, a panda trains to learn Kung Fu from a wily old master and becomes the best he can be.
Jack Black was the perfect choice to voice the main character, with Dustin Hoffman & Angelina Jolie also contributing their vocal talents.

D: Masaki Kobayashi
Toho/Ninjin Club/Bungei (Shigeru Wakatusi)     
Japan 1964
125 mins


W: Yoko Mizuki [based on the stories of Lafcadio Hearn]
DP: Yoshio Miyajima
Mus: Toru Takemitsu
PD: Shigemasa Toda

Rentaro Mikuni (Samurai), Michiyo Aratama (1st Wife), Misako Watanabe (2nd Wife), Katsuo Nakamura (Hoichi), Ganjiro Nakamura (Head Priest), Takashi Shimura (Priest), Joichi Hayashi (Yoshitsune) Ganemon Nakamura (Kannai)

A collection of four Japanese ghost stories, told in a very traditional way, beautifully filmed and far more haunting than they are "scary".
Hollywood took note, with a couple of the stories dressed up for remakes (the most notable in the 1991 horror anthology "Tales From The Darkside").