D: Fritz Lang
Nero (Seymour Nebenzal)
Germany 1931
117 mins


W: Thea Von Harbou, Paul Falkenberg, Adolf Jansen & Karl Vash
DP: Fritz Arno Wagner & Gustav Rathje
Ed: Paul Falkenberg
Mus: Edvard Grieg

Peter Lorre (Franz Becker), Otto Wernicke (Inspector Karl Lohmann), Gustaf Grundgens (Schraenker), Theo Lingen (Bauemfaenger), Theodor Loos (Commissioner Groeber)

In a small German community, a child molester and murderer evades capture by the police and a mob of the townsfolk begin to take the law into their own hands to find the person who is killing the town's children.
The decades may have dated M into a dramatic crime thriller, but when it was originally released in 1931 Germany it was very much a horror story, filled with expressionism by director Fritz Lang, who made the story a parable with the rising fascism in his native country (the original title translated as "The Murderers Are Among Us")
Peter Lorre is excellent in the central role, sinister with everything he does, and the use of "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" as music to introduce his character works in a very unsettling way. 
This was Fritz Lang's first production in sound, and though it has some silent scenes they serve the expressionistic style of the film well. 
This work was so controversial at its time that the Nazi regime banned it when they took power in 1933, leading to some degradation in the prints.

D: Stewart Raffill
Guild (R. J. Louis)
US 1988
99 mins
Science Fiction
W: Steven Feke & Stewart Raffill
DP: Nick McLean
Ed: Tom Walls
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Pd: W. Stewart Campbell
Jade Calegory (Eric Cruise), Jonathan Ward (Michael Cruise), Christine Ebersole (Michael Cruise), Katrina Caspary (Courtney), Lauren Stanley (Debbie), Ronald McDonald (himself)
Pathetic E.T. ripoff that makes no attempt to be subtle with, what can only be described as, theft.
An alien (inextricably named after a sandwich) becomes stranded on Earth and befriends a wheelchair-bound young boy until it can become reunited with its family, in order to survive in Earth's atmosphere, the Mysterious Alien Creature must drink a certain brand of carbonate drink and eat a certain brand of fast food for sustenance. It becomes an insult to intelligence when a scene set in McDonald's features customers performing a choreographed dance sequence for absolutely no reason! I can't speak for everyone, but this always happens whenever I nip into one of their branches for a milkshake.
Everything about this production is below standard, with poor performances, ridiculous dialogue and creature design which is so bad, they shouldn't have even reached the development phase.
It is not a pleasure to proclaim this one of the worst films ever made, Jade Calegory, the film's lead actor, was a spina bifida sufferer confined to a wheelchair in real life, and his performance is the only decent thing about the film, if you can call it that. It's really a 99 minute advert for fast food and not much more.

MAD MAX (15)

D: George Miller
Warner Bros (Byron Kennedy)
Aus 1979
100 mins

Action/Thriller/Science Fiction

W: James McCausland & George Miller
DP: David Eggby
Ed: Tony Paterson & Cliff Hayes
Mus: Brian May

Mel Gibson (Max Rockatansky), Joanna Samuel (Jessie), Hugh Keays-Byrne (The Toecutter), Steve Bisley (Jim Goose)

During the dawn of an apocalyptic new age, a policeman seeks revenge on the motorcycle gang that murdered his wife and child.
Though much of the execution behind the vision has dated quite badly with its low-budget style, the idea itself was streets ahead of the time. Despite its low budget, the film was a huge box office hit, especially in its native Australia, and for nearly two decades, the film held the biggest budget/profit ratio worldwide.
Much of the film is build up towards a violently climactic ending which set up a further two sequels with Mel Gibson in the starring role.

"Just one man can make a difference."
"Just one man can make a difference."


D: George Miller
Warner Bros (Byron Kennedy)
Aus 1981
96 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Terry Hayes, George Miller & Brian Hannant
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: David Stiven, Tim Wellburn & Michael Chirgwin
Mus: Brian May

Mel Gibson (Max Rockatansky), Bruce Spence (The Gyro Captain), Vernon Wells (Wez), Emil Minty (The Feral Kid), Michael Preston (Pappagallo)

A former policeman turned drifter becomes involved in a war over petrol between what remains of the old police forces and a violent gang of bikers.
A continuation of events from the first film, with a more expensive budget making for a much wider scope, bigger stunts and more explosive action scenes.
There aren't many sequels which better the original film, but this was one of them.


D: George Miller
Warner Bros (George Miller)
Aus 1985
106 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Terry Hayes & George Miller
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Richard Francis-Bruce
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: Graham Walker

Mel Gibson (Max Rockatansky), Tina Turner (Aunty Entity), Bruce Spence (Jebediah), Angelo Rossito (Master), Frank Thring (The Collector), Adam Cockburn (Jebediah, Jr.)

The weakest of the Mad Max films sees the policeman turned drifter arrive in a desert town ruled by a ruthless woman.
Though the vision is continued from the previous two films, the storyline here is much weaker. Tina Turner vamps slightly in her supporting role, but provides some pretty good songs for the film soundtrack (most notably "We Don't Need Another Hero").

"The future belongs to the mad."
"The future belongs to the mad."
D: George Miller
Warner/Village Roadshow (Doug Mitchell, George Miller & P. J. Voeten)
US/Aus 2015
120 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris
DP: John Seale
Ed: Margaret Sixel
Mus: Junkie XL
PD: Colin Gibson
Cos: Jenny Beavan

Tom Hardy (Max Rockatansky), Charlize Theron (Imperator Furiosa), Nicholas Hoult (Nux), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Immortan Joe), Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley (The Splendid Angharad), Riley Keough (Capable), Zoë Kravitz (Toast the Knowing), Abbey Lee (The Dag)

Though Hollywood output has become far too overshadowed with sequels, remakes, reboots and re-imaginations in recent years, Mad Max is a film series which probably needed a makeover, with a new age of computer-generated visual effects able to portray the futuristic world much better than what could be afforded in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
Unclear whether the film is a sequel to the Mel Gibson trilogy or a remake of the second movie (The Road Warrior), it's fair to say it could be neither, simply presenting the vision to a new generation with a new cast of actors.
As for the story, it's practically a series of car chases and a flurry of action sequences as a rebellious woman (Furiosa - Charlize Theron) drives across the desert wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Australia with a trio of gangs in hot pursuit. Coming to her aid is Max (Tom Hardy), once a cop, but now a drifter whose only means is to survive in this new world. He escapes from being a hood ornament for one of the pursuing gangs and assists Furiosa in smuggling a group of women to safety and away from their husband, a tyrannical leader who controls the water supply of the new world.
Though the story isn't going to win any awards, the visuals are brilliantly conceived. It's not really any better or worse than the original trilogy, but this is clearly what director George Miller would have wanted to make back in the early 1980's had the budget and technology been at his disposal, and also manages to be quite allegorical with the conflicts in the Middle East.
This will whet the appetite for anyone craving a decent action movie, hitting full throttle early on and not once stopping to hit the brakes.

D: Richard Benjamin
Warner Bros./Stonebridge/Kaiola/Regency/Canal (Arnon Milchan, Michael Douglas & Rick Bieber)
US 1993
110 mins


W: Holly Goldberg
DP: Ralf Bode
Ed: Jacqueline Cambas
Mus: Mark Isham

Whoopi Goldberg (Sarah Mathews), Ted Danson (Hal Jackson), Nia Long (Zora Mathews), Will Smith (Tea Cake Walters)

The stuff of sitcom, with Will Smith, fresh off the set of 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air' and Ted Danson fresh off the set of 'Cheers'.
The comedy in this film concerns a black teenager who is repulsed when she discovers that he real father is a white car salesman. Of course, if this were reversed the racism would be more obvious, but since it pokes fun at 'white trash' then it's perfectly okay. Double standards bullshit.

"The bad news is you have houseguests. There is no good news."
"The bad news is you have houseguests. There is no good news."


D: Tom Ropelewski 
Rank/Orion (Leslie Dixon)
US 1990
90 mins
W: Tom Ropolewski
DP: Denis Lewiston
Ed: Michael Jablow
Mus: David Newman
John Larroquette (Mark), Kirstie Alley (Jessie), Alison LaPlaca (Claudia), John Diehl (Fred), Jessica Lundy (Bernice), Bradley Gregg (Jonathan)
Mediocre domestic comedy in which a married couple dread the impending visit from their in-laws.
The jokes are quite obvious and the film as a whole isn't particularly memorable.
Sitcom material at best, the only thing it's lacking is a soundtrack full of canned laughter.
D: Steven Soderbergh
Warner Bros./Film Nation/Iron Horse (Nick Wechsler, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum & Reid Carolin)
US 2012
110 mins
W: Reid Carolin
DP: Steven Soderbergh
Ed: Steven Soderbergh
Channing Tatum ('Magic' Mike Lane), Alex Pettyfer (Adam), Matt Bomer (Ken), Cody Horn (Brooke), Olivia Munn (Joanna), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas)
I'll be the first to admit that this movie looked as appealing as contracting genital herpes when it was first released. I think Channing Tatum & Alex Pettyfer are terrible 'actors' and this movie was advertised as some kind of girls-only Chippendale comedy chick flick bullshit. 
What drew me to actually watch it was simply due to the fact it's directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven, et al) and he always brings a unique style to all his work.  I was actually pleasant both surprised and very impressed, this turned out to be a good mix between Boogie Nights & a serious, American version of The Full Monty.
This is actually the first thing I've seen with Channing Tatum where his character has any kind of depth and development and the screenplay is a very well-written rags to riches tale with a fable of morality running through it.  
From a performance perspective, Matthew McConaughey steals this movie as the greedy Master of Ceremonies and brains behind the strip troupe. Pretty boys Channing Tatum & Alex Pettyfer also deliver the best performances of their careers, without having too much to do.
D: John Sturges
United Artists/Mirisch (John Sturges)
US 1960
138 mins


W: William Roberts [based on the screenplay "The Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto & Hideo Oguni]
DP: Charles Lang, Jr.
Mus: Elmer Bernstein

Yul Brynner (Chris), Steve McQueen (Vin), Robert Vaughn (Lee), James Coburn (Britt), Charles Bronson (O'Reilly), Horst Buchholz (Chico), Brad Dexter (Harry Luck), Eli Wallach (Calvera), Vladimir Sokoloff (Old Man), Rosenda Monteros (Petra)

The first thing that usually comes to mind when you think of the film The Magnificent Seven is usually Elmer Bernstein's stirring music theme, or perhaps one of the seven main performances, you'd be forgiven for not realising it was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, simply because it's adapted for a different genre - a Western.
Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Horst Buchholz & Brad Dexter are the seven vigilante gunmen, hired by a poor Mexican village for protection against a group of bandits (a plot which was also parodied in 1986's Three Amigos!).
Like in the original film, the background of all seven characters is explored before the inevitable showdown and all the cast members deliver some of the best performances of their careers, particularly Charles Bronson.
In all honesty, the original is by far the better film, purely because it did so much for Japanese cinema and the career of its director Akira Kurosawa, but this American remake (at a time when remakes weren't used a moneymaking enterprise) cannot be denied as one of the best remakes of all time, brilliantly locating the action from 16th Century Japan to the Wild West. Not quite the greatest western of all time, but certainly amongst the most enjoyable.

"Justice has a number."
"Justice has a number."


D: Antoine Fuqua

MGM/Columbia/Village Roadshow (Roger Birnbaum & Todd Black)

US 2016

133 mins


W: Nic Pizzolato & Richard Wenk [based on the screenplays "Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto & Hideo Oguni and "The Magnificent Seven" by William Roberts]

DP: Mauro Fiore

Ed: John Refoua

Mus: James Horner & Simon Franglen

Denzel Washington (Sam Chisholm), Chris Pratt (Joshua Faraday), Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux), Vincent d'Onofrio (Jack Horne), Byung Hun-Lee (Billy Rocks), Haley Bennett (Emma Cullen), Peter Sarsgaard (Bartholomew Bogue), Luke Grimes (Teddy Q)

While not as terrible as the majority of Hollywood remakes which have been churned out over the past decade, this 2016 version of the classic 1960 western (& 1954 samurai original) fails to justify its existence. 

The characters may have different names, but the plot doesn't stray too far from the original films path, even chucking in a scene completely stolen from Django Unchained to make Denzel Washington's character a little bit cooler.

The whole point of the 1960 version was to switch genres for an American audience, but this was put into production for monetary gain only, bringing with it a 21st century cast which includes multiple races. Unfortunately, ticking the boxes of political correctness doesn't capture the magic from the original films, and the overall result is quite boring and pointless, neglecting the character-driven element to set up some rather mundane and unconvincing action set pieces.



D: David S. Ward
Braveworld (Mark Rosenberg)
US 1989
106 mins
W: David S. Ward
DP: Reynaldo Villalobos 
Ed: Dennis M. Hill & Tony Lombardo
Mus: James Newton Howard
Tom Berenger (Jake Taylor), Charlie Sheen (Ricky 'Wild Thing' Vaughn), Corbin Bernsen (Roger Dorn), Margaret Whitton (Rachel Phelps), Rene Russo (Lynn Weslin), Wesley Snipes (Willie Mays Hayes), Dennis Haysbert (Pedro Cerrano)
A corrupt owner of the Cleveland Indians baseball team throws together a ragtag group of has-beens and wannabes in the hope that their season will end in tatters and she can franchise the team off for huge financial gain. The players, however, pull out all the stops in order to win the World Series and save the club.
The jokes are average, but the performances are generally good, especially from Tom Berenger as a veteran player, Charlie Sheen as a myopic pitcher and Dennis Haysbert as a voodoo-practising oddball. Guilty pleasure stuff.


D: David S. Ward
Warner Bros./Morgan Creek (James G. Robinson & David S. Ward)
US 1994
104 mins
W: R. J. Stewart, Tom S. Parker & Jim Jennewein [based on characters created by David S. Ward]
DP: Victor Hammer
Ed: Paul Seydor & Donn Cambern
Mus: Michel Colombier
Tom Berenger (Jake Taylor), Charlie Sheen (Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn), Corbin Bernsen (Roger Dorn), Dennis Haysbert (Pedro Cerrano)
Garbled retread of the first film with virtually the same plot and the same tired jokes. Dennis Haysbert's character inextricably switches from Voodooist to Buddhist for no particular reason. Boring.
More sequels followed, but nobody cared.
D: Spike Lee
Warner Bros./Largo/Forty Acres & A Mule (Marvin Worth & Spike Lee)
US 1992
201 mins


W: Arnold Perl & Spike Lee [based on the book "The Autobiography of Malcolm X"]
DP: Ernest Dickerson
Ed: Barry Alexander Brown
Mus: Terence Blanchard
PD: Wynn Thomas
Cos: Ruth E. Carter

Denzel Washington (Malcolm X), Angela Bassett (Betty Shabazz), Albert Hall (Baines), Al Freeman, Jr. (Elijah Muhammed), Delroy Lindo (Archie), Spike Lee (Shorty), Theresa Randle (Laura), Kate Vernon (Sophia), Lonette McKee (Louise Little), Tommy Hollis (Earl Little)

Spike Lee's biopic of the civil rights activist feels like an overlong tirade rather than a focused study on the turbulent life and violent death of one of the mid-20th century's key iconic figures.
Denzel Washington delivers an electrifyingly powerful performance, but there's little else to recommend about it.

"They're not there to shop. They're not there to work. They're just there."
"They're not there to shop. They're not there to work. They're just there."


D: Kevin Smith
Universal/Gramercy/Alphaville/View Askew (James Jacks, Sean Daniel & Scott Mosier)
US 1995
108 mins
W: Kevin Smith
DP: David Klein
Ed: Paul Dixon
Mus: Ira Newborn
Jason Lee (Brodie Bruce), Jeremy London (T.S. Quint), Shannen Doherty (Rene Mosier), Claire Forlani (Brandi Svenning), Michael Rooker (Jared Svenning), Ben Affleck (Shannon Hamilton), Renee Humphrey (Tricia Jones)
A pair of teenagers cope with their recent relationship break-ups by hanging out with their friends at their local mall.
Kevin Smith's follow-up to Clerks (qv) is a bit of a mess from a comedy perspective, not quite sure what it wants to be, mixing satirical social commentary, goofy slapstick and childish cartoon humour together.
It's reasonably enjoyable, but it's clear to see that studio involvement was too meddlesome here.
D: John Huston
Warner Bros. (Henry Blanke)
US 1941
100 mins


W: John Huston [based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett]
DP: Arthur Edeson
Ed: Thomas Richards
Mus: Adolph Deutsch

Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade), Mary Astor (Brigid O'Shaughnessy), Gladys George (Iva Archer), Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo), Lee Patrick (Effie Perine), Sydney Greenstreet (Kasper Gutman), Barton MacLane (Det. Lt. Dundy), Ward Bond (Det. Tom Polhaus), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Wilmer Cook)

This 1941 version of Dashiell Hammett's famous novel is actually the third to hit cinema screens, and easily the most iconic due to the perfection of the casting.
Humphrey Bogart is easily the ideal choice as cynical private eye Sam Spade, whose latest case involves both a missing person and a missing artefact, a precious statue of a bird whose whereabouts have been a mystery since the Middle Ages.
It's a tricky investigation which sees Spade's partner murdered in the first act and the sleuth becoming a suspect in the eyes of two zealous police detectives.
John Huston's direction and the black & white photography perfectly captures the mood of the period, as well as encapsulating the mystery of Hammett's original novel, where nobody can be trusted, including the main protagonist.
A perfect example of a classic detective movie. Certain elements have become dated, but it's still a remarkable piece of 1940's cinema.

"A killer comedy."
"A killer comedy."
D: Rémy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel & Benoît Poelvoorde
Metro/Les Artistes Anonymes (Rémy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel & Benoît Poelvoorde)
Belgium 1992
96 mins


W: Rémy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde & Vincent Tavier
DP: Andre Bonzel
Ed: Rémy Belvaux & Eric Dardill
Mus: Jean-Marc Chenut

Benoît Poelvoorde (Ben), André Bonzel (André), Remy Belvaux (Remy), Jacqueline Poelvoorde-Pappaert (Ben's Mother)

Promoted as Belgium's answer to Reservoir Dogs, Man Bites Dog is a clever satire about a documentary crew following a serial killer (a plot very much ripped-off in Robert De Niro's 2001 thriller '15 Minutes').         
It's quite an uncomfortable watch due to the documentary feel about it. It's difficult to class this movie as any particular genre. It's part thriller, part character study and part black comedy, with the filmmakers practically playing themselves on-screen. A foreign cinema classic from the early 90's, but it won't cater for everyone's tastes.

D: Fred Zinnemann 
Columbia/Highland (Fred Zinnemann)
UK 1966
120 mins


W: Robert Bolt [based on his play]
DP: Ted Moore
Ed: Ralph Kemplen
Mus: Georges Delerue
PD: John Box
Cos: Elizabeth Haffenden & Joan Bridge

Paul Scofield (Sir Thomas More), Wendy Miller (Alice More), Leo McKern (Thomas Cromwell), Robert Shaw (Henry VIII), Orson Welles (Cardinal Wolsey), Susannah York (Margaret More), Nigel Davenport (Duke of Norfolk), John Hurt (Richard Rich)

The story of Thomas More, an English nobleman who stood in the way of King Henry VIII becoming head of the Church of England so he could progress with divorce from Catherine of Aragon and remarriage to Anne Boleyn.
Robert Bolt adapted the screenplay from his own play, and though the story feels like it would be better suited to stage, the prestigious direction, meticulous production design and powerful performances ensure that the film has a more cinematic status, acknowledged by the Academy Awards who named it the Best Picture of 1966.
Paul Scofield delivers a masterclass of a performance as Sir Thomas More, an understated man of distinguished principles who was prepared to pay for them with his life, while Robert Shaw tries to steal the show as King Henry VIII. 
It's unlikely to garner any fans from modern audiences, but it's a near- perfect film for its age.

"Saving the world never goes out of style."
"Saving the world never goes out of style."
D: Guy Ritchie
Warner Bros/Ratpac-Dune (John Davis, Steve Clark-Hall, Lionel Wigram & Guy Ritchie)
US 2015
116 mins


W: Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram [based on the television series created by Ian Fleming, Norman Felton & Sam Rolfe]
DP: John Mathieson
Ed: James Herbert
Mus: Daniel Pemberton

Henry Cavill (Napoleon Solo), Armie Hammer (Ilya Kuryakin), Alicia Vikander (Gabriella Teller), Elizabeth Debicki (Victoria Vinciguella), Jared Harris (Adrian Sanders), Hugh Grant (Alexander Waverly)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is yet another iconic TV series to receive the big screen treatment in the 21st century and the overall result isn't disappointing.
The original TV programme was a little before my time, so although I'm aware of the name, I'm quite unfamiliar with the characters, plot and formula. I can only judge for the film on its own merits and though comparisons are drawn with James Bond movies, I can only attribute this to the involvement of Ian Fleming.
Rival agents (Henry Cavill of the CIA and Armie Hammer of the KGB) must pool their talents to accompany a young East German woman across the border and reunite her with her father, who is reportedly involved with another spy agency who have plans for their nuclear arms.
The storyline here isn't too dissimilar from anything which has been seen or done many times before, but there's enough gloss in the execution to give it an original sheen, while the main trio of Cavill, Hammer and Vikander works quite well.
Style over substance, certainly, but it's relatively good fun.

D: Alexander Mackendrick
Ealing (Michael Balcon)
UK 1951
85 mins


W: Roger MacDougall, John Dighton & Alexander Mackendrick [based on the play by Roger MacDougall]
DP: Douglas Slocombe
Ed: Bernard Gribble
Mus: Benjamin Frankel

Alec Guinness (Sidney Stratton), Joan Greenwood (Daphne Birnley), Cecil Parker (Alan Bimley), Michael Gough (Michael Corland), Ernest Thesiger (Sir John Kierlaw) 

The Man In The White Suit is amongst the finest works to emerge from Ealing Studios, and though it's not quite on the same level as The Lavender Hill Mob or The Ladykillers, this is simply because it's a completely different kind of comedy.
Played as a farce, it's a satire on business, advancements in science and technology and commercialism & consumerism in general.
Alec Guinness plays an eccentric scientist who constantly finds himself fired from textile factories, but upon inventing an indestructible material which never gets dirty he finds himself a very wanted man, albeit not exactly the reasons he had in mind.
The screenplay, based on the play by Roger MacDougall is pure genius, and the lead performance by Alec Guinness is an absolute treat. 
Obviously, it's quite dated now, but still stands out of one of the best British comedies of the 1950's.

D: Zack Snyder
Warner Bros./Legendary/Syncopy (Charles Roven, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas & Deborah Snyder)
US 2013
137 mins

Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure

W: David S. Goyer [based on characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster]
DP: Amir Mokri
Ed: David Brenner
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Alex McDowell
Cos: James Acheson & Michael Wilkinson 

Henry Cavill (Kal-el / Clark Kent / Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Michael Shannon (General Zod), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Russell Crowe (Jor-el)

Zack Snyder can go to hell and take this piece of shit with him!
Christopher Reeve would be spinning in his grave if he knew what was done to the Superman movies with this incredibly lacklustre effort. That being said, this is as far away from Superman as you could even dare to imagine. It starts off looking like Flash Gordon, then rips off Star Trek, the terrible 1998 version of Lost In Space and various other sci-fi movies for huge chunks without really having any originality of its own, in-between having a couple of flashbacks of Clark Kent's childhood taking fatherly advice from Kevin Costner.
I don't think Henry Cavill was a bad choice for the lead, but there is no real replacement for Christopher Reeve, who truly made the character his own. The rest of the cast leaves a lot to be desired. Michael Shannon is no match for Terence Stamp as Zod and Russell Crowe as Jor-El just didn't ring true. I really like Amy Adams as an actress but she was hugely miscast here as Lois Lane.
It's quite a cold, soulless, passionless film which makes Superman Returns look like a masterpiece and has a storyline almost as boring than Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.
There will be some who will like the direction Zack Snyder is taking Superman movies in, but for me, the first two Christopher Reeve movies cannot be bettered. One of 2013's biggest disappointments.

"You can only push an innocent man so far."
"You can only push an innocent man so far."
D: Asger Leth
Summit (Lorenzo di Bonaventura & Mark Vahradian)
US 2012
102 mins
W: Pablo Fenjves
DP: Paul Cameron
Ed: Kevin Stitt
Mus: Henry Jackman
Sam Worthington (Nick Cassidy / Joe Walker), Elizabeth Banks (Lydia Mercer), Jamie Bell (Joey Cassidy), Anthony Mackie (Mike Ackerman), Genesis Rodriguez (Angie Lopez), Edward Burns (Jack Dougherty), Ed Harris (Dave Englander)
An interesting premise makes a very average film.  Sam Worthington plays an ex-cop who uses a possible suicide attempt from a hotel ledge as a decoy for a diamond heist. With a better script, fleshed-out characters and a little directorial flair, this could have been a really good film, instead it's ridiculous, formulaic nonsense. 
Aside from Ed Harris, the acting is rather poor, especially from a very miscast Elizabeth Banks. 
Alfred Hitchcock could've made a masterpiece out of this. Asger Leth just takes the paint-by-numbers route.


D: Tony Scott
Fox 2000/Regency/Scott Free (Arnon Milchan, Tony Scott & Lucas Foster)
US 2004
140 mins
W: Brian Helgeland [based on the novel by A. J. Quinnell]
DP: Paul Cameron
Ed: Christian Wagner
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams
Denzel Washington (John W. Creasy), Dakota Fanning (Lupita Ramos), Christopher Walken (Paul Rayburn), Giancarlo Giannini (Miguel Manzano), Radha Mitchell (Lisa Ramos), Mickey Rourke (Jordan Kalfus)
A.J. Quinnell's novel was originally adapted for screen in 1987 starring Scott Glenn in the lead role, but that version disappeared under the radar without trace. This 2004 remake is a rare beast- a much better version with a great central performance from Denzel Washington as a washed-up bodyguard hired by a well-off family to watch over their daughter in a tough Mexican city.
There does seem like something got lost in the translation from the novel, especially with the subplot of spiritual redemption from the main character and Tony Scott's directorial flourishes use too much jumpy photography and choppy editing. Nevertheless, it's still an entertaining ride.
D: Milos Forman
Universal/Mutual/Jersey Films/Cinehaus (Michael Shamberg, Danny DeVito & Stacey Sher)
US 1999
119 mins


W: Scott Alexander & Larry Karazewski
DP: Anastas Michos
Ed: Christopher Tellefsen & Lynzee Klingman
Mus: R.E.M.
PD: Patrizia Von Brandenstein
Cos: Jeffrey Kurland

Jim Carrey (Andy Kaufman), Danny DeVito (George Shapiro), Courtney Love (Lynne Margulies), Paul Giamatti (Bob Zmuda)

Jim Carrey delivers a magnificent performance in this biopic of Andy Kaufman, an unorthodox comedian who found fame on the TV sitcom Taxi, before cutting his comedy career short to focus on being an entertainer in the world of wrestling.
Show-stopping Carrey was the perfect choice to play the attention-hogging Kaufman, while Courtney Love, Danny DeVito & others provide great supporting performances.

"There's a fine line between genius and madness."
"There's a fine line between genius and madness."
D: James Marsh
Discovery/BBC/UK Film Council (Simon Chinn)
UK/France 2008
93 mins


DP: Igor Martinovic
Ed: Jinx Godfrey
Mus: Michael Nyman

Philippe Petit (himself)

James Marsh's documentary focuses on the daring and illegal feat of a French tightrope walker who envisioned one of the greatest stunts in the history of the artistic skill; to walk above the void in-between the North and South towers of the World Trade Center.  The truly mesmerising thing is that he did it, gaining access to the building with the help of an inside man and fake identity in order to pull off the stunt shortly before the building's grand opening in 1974.
There's a bit of dramatic fakery here and there, and Michael Nyman's musical cues sometimes feel out of place, but this is still an insightful diary into one man's intrepid dream, treading carefully between lunacy, ability, showmanship and obsession.
A feature film which focuses on the same events was released in 2015, titled The Walk (qv).

D: Nicolas Roeg
Cinema 5 (Michael Deeley & Barty Spikings)
UK 1976
140 mins

Science Fiction

W: Paul Mayersberg [based on the novel by Walter Tevis]
DP: Anthony Richmond
Ed: Graeme Clifford

David Bowie (Thomas Jerome Newton), Rip Torn (Nathan Bryce), Candy Clark (Mary-Lou), Buck Henry (Oliver Farnsworth), Bernie Casey (Peters)

The weird and wonderful David Bowie made his cinematic breakthrough in this weird & wonderful science fiction cult favourite.
As an alien who arrives on earth to collect water for his own dying planet, he adopts the name Thomas Jerome Newton and plans to make financial gains selling the secrets of alien technology so he can afford to build a spacecraft for his return voyage, but eventually succumbs to the addictions of human sin, sex and alcohol.
The film is very much a product of its time, with the focus of Nicolas Roeg's direction being on an artful presentation rather than a traditional narrative. 
A must-watch for Bowie fans, but it won't be enjoyed by the masses.

"Public enemy no. 1 of all the world..."
"Public enemy no. 1 of all the world..."
D: Alfred Hitchcock
GFD/Gaumont (Ivor Montagu)
UK 1934
84 mins


W: A.R. Rawlinson, Charles Bennett, D.B. Wyndham-Lewis, Edwin Greenwood & Emlyn Williams
DP: Curt Courant
Mus: Arthur Benjamin

Leslie Banks (Bob Lawrence), Edna Best (Jill Lawrence), Peter Lorre (Abbott), Frank Vosper (Ramon), Hugh Wakefield (Clive), Nova Pilbeam (Betty Lawrence)

Twenty-two years before Alfred Hitchcock remade his own film for a 1950's audience, The Man Who Knew Too Much was originally British-produced, in gloomy black and white, and without a Doris Day song which would go on to be an enormous hit (Que Sera, Sera).
A family, on holiday at a ski resort, have their daughter kidnapped to silence them when they discover that a group of gangsters plan to carry out an assassination at the Royal Albert Hall.
The first act is laboured by its unconvincing interior locations, but the film comes to life with its tense set-pieces, particularly at the Royal Albert Hall and the gunfight showdown on the foggy streets of London.
Obvious restraints prevented this from becoming the film it could potentially be, so it's understandable why the master of suspense tackled it again in 1956, and to much greater effect.

D: Alfred Hitchcock
Paramount (Alfred Hitchcock)
US 1956
120 mins


W: John Michael Hayes & Angus MacPhail [based on a story by Charles Bennett & D. B. Wyndham-Lewis]
DP: Robert Burks
Ed: George Tomasini
Mus: Bernard Herrmann

James Stewart (Dr. Ben McKenna), Doris Day (Jo McKenna), Bernard Miles (Mr. Drayton), Brenda de Banzie (Mrs. Drayton), Daniel Gelin (Louis Bernard), Ralph Truman (Buchanan), Mogen Wieth (Ambassador), Alan Mowbray (Val Parnell), Hillary Brooke (Jan Peterson)

Alfred Hitchcock, not a stranger to experimental film techniques and production, remade his own film of 1934, adding 30 more minutes of added suspense and tailoring the plot for the new stars, most notably Doris Day singing the Oscar-winning song "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)". Most importantly, Hitchcock replaces the interior set-bound economics of the original film with bigger budget locations.
James Stewart & Doris Day are a married couple whose holiday in Morocco takes a turn for the worst when they witness a fatal stabbing and the victim whispers a cryptic message into Stewart's ear.
To buy Stewart's silence, a group of spies kidnap the couples son, leading to a race against time to both save their boy and thwart an assassination plot, leading to a tense finale in the Royal Albert Hall.
Despite not being entirely limited by budgetary restraint, the original was made before Hitchcock was dubbed "The Master of Suspense", with the remake he proved yet again why he was honoured with the nickname.

D: Joel Coen
Working Title/Gramercy (Ethan Coen)
US 2001
116 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Roderick Jaynes & Tricia Cooke
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Dennis Gassner
Cos: Mary Zophres

Billy Bob Thornton (Ed Crane), Frances McDormand (Doris Crane), Michael Badalucco (Frank Raffo), James Gandolfini (Dave Brewster), Richard Jenkins (Walter Abundas), Scarlett Johansson (Rachel Abundas)

The Coen Brothers tribute to film noir stars Billy Bob Thornton as a laconic, chain-smoking barber who blackmails his wife's philanderous boss into investing in a new business, set up by a shyster salesman, but the plans soon turn sour.
As with most of their works, it will appeal mostly to fans of the Coen Brothers films. For those who aren't, there's still a fantastic performance from Thornton to enjoy, as well as some atmospheric, gloomy B&W photography from Roger Deakins.

D: John Huston
Allied Artists (John Foreman)
UK 1975
129 mins


W: John Huston & Gladys Hill [based on the story by Rudyard Kipling]
DP: Oswald Morris
Ed: Russell Lloyd
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: Alexander Trauner
Cos: Edith Head

Sean Connery (Daniel Dravot), Michael Caine (Peachy Carnehan), Christopher Plummer (Rudyard Kipling), Saeed Jaffrey (Billy Fish)

John Huston spent decades trying to get his adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's story off the ground, but it still probably came out a few years too early. Being a allegory for the British Empire and colonialism, the political subject was still a hotbed when the film was released in 1975. To say that the film has grown with time, is an understatement.
Sean Connery and Michael Caine play officers who supplement their income through various scams before they desert the British army to venture into unchartered land where it is fabled that man hasn't stepped since the days of Alexander the Great. They discover a tribe of people who mistake Connery for a God, though things don't work out as planned.
Both Caine and Connery are both suited to their roles, but the standout performance here is Christopher Plummer, in a small role as the writer Rudyard Kipling.
It may have missed its target in 1975, but has since grown into a modest classic from a great director.


D: Stan Dragoti
20th Century Fox (Victor Drai)
US 1985
93 mins
W: Robert Klane [based on the screenplay 'La Grande avec und Chaussure Noire']
DP: Richard H. Kline
Ed: Bud Molin & O. Nicholas Brown
Mus: Thomas Newman
Tom Hanks (Richard Drew), Dabney Coleman (Burton Cooper), Lori Singer (Mandy), Charles Durning (Ross), Jim Belushi (Morris), Carrie Fisher (Paula)
This remake of a French farce (La Grand Blonde avec und Chaussure Noire) was one of Tom Hanks' poorest choices from his early career, long before he found his shoes in dramatic starring roles.
He plays a bumbling violinist who is mistaken for a spy and becomes involved in a CIA plot. 
The plot is okay, but the translation of the comedy is cartoonish, immature nonsense. The trailer is funnier than the actual film.
D: Guy Hamilton
United Artists/Eon (Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli)
UK 1974
125 mins


W: Richard Maibaum & Tom Mankiewicz [based on the novel by Ian Fleming]
DP: Ted Moore & Oswald Morris
Ed: Raymond Poulton & John Shirley
Mus: John Barry
PD: Peter Murton

Roger Moore (James Bond), Christopher Lee (Francisco Scaramanga), Britt Ekland (Mary Goodnight), Maud Adams (Andrea Anders), Hervé Villechaize (Nick Nack)

Roger Moore's second outing as James Bond sees agent 007 travel to the Far East to take out a professional assassin named Scaramanga.
Moore's smarmy performance aside, the film itself is great fun, albeit complete nonsense in comparison to the Connery Bond movies. Britt Ekland makes a memorable Bond girl, while Christopher Lee and midget actor Hervé Villachaize make a great pair of villains.
D: Carl Reiner
Warner Bros./Aspen (David V. Picker & William E. McEuen)
US 1983
93 mins


W: Steve Martin, Carl Reiner & George Gipe             
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Bud Molin
Mus: Joel Goldsmith

Steve Martin (Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr), Kathleen Turner (Dolores Benedict), David Warner (Dr. Necessiter), Paul Benedict (Butler), Richard Brestoff (Dr. Pasteur), James Cromwell (Realtor), Sissy Spacek (Anne Uumellmahaye - voice)

Steve Martin often did his best work with director Carl Reiner and The Man With Two Brains is no exception.
In this send up of 1930's mad doctor films, Martin plays successful brain surgeon Dr. Hfuhruhurr who develops an obsessive relationship with a disembodied brain which only he can communicate with (telepathically, of course). There's also a subplot about an serial murderer dubbed 'the elevator killer' which the doctor gets wrapped up in.
Though the film will find most appeal with Steve Martin fans, Kathleen Turner is the scene-stealer as his gold-digging wife, while the best running joke in the film is that the majority of the other players always fail to pronounce Martin's characters name correctly. Sissy Spacek, in an uncredited vocal performance, provided the voice of the mind that he falls in love with. 
Silly, but fun.


D: Kenneth Lonergan

Amazon/Roadside Attractions/K Period/Pearl Street (Matt Damon, Kimberley Steward, Chris Moore, Kevin J. Walsh & Lauren Beck)

US 2016

137 mins


W: Kenneth Lonergan

DP: Jody Lee Lipes

Ed: Jennifer Lame

Mus: Lesley Barber

Casey Affleck (Lee Chandler), Lucas Hedges (Patrick Chandler), Kyle Chandler (Joe Chandler), Michelle Williams (Randi), Gretchen Mol (Elise Chandler)

Originally intended as a project for Matt Damon (who still served as producer), Casey Affleck delivers the performance of his career as Lee Chandler, a grief-stricken loner who receives the news that he is to be his nephew's guardian following the death of his brother.

Though the film follows a linear narrative of the relationship between the two characters, while some back story unfolds with a series of flashbacks that explain the reasons for Lee's depression and reluctance to occupy himself with social interaction.

The film isn't an easy watch, with Kenneth Lonergan's unsympathetic directorial style dragging you further in to Lee's world. What makes the film magnetic viewing is the excellent performances of Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams.

It wouldn't be too far off the mark to call Manchester By The Sea 2016's equivalent of Ordinary People (qv). It is a solid drama, but you may not wish to subject yourself to repeat viewings.


D: John Frankenheimer
United Artists (Howard Koch)
US 1962
126 mins


W: George Axelrod [based on the novel by Richard Condon]
DP: Lionel Lindon
Ed: Ferris Webster
Mus: David Amram
PD: Richard Sylbert

Frank Sinatra (Bennett Marco), Lawrence Harvey (Raymond Shaw), Janet Leigh (Rosie), James Gregory (Sen. John Iselin), Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Shaw), Henry Silva (Chunjim), John McGiver (Sen. Thomas Jordan)

Based on the novel by Richard Condon and released at a time when the Cold War was at the forefront of many people's minds, this classic political thriller sees a Korean War hero (Lawrence Harvey) return to America as a brainwashed assassin triggered to murder a liberal senator. Meanwhile, a military investigator (Frank Sinatra) is plagued by nightmares and has his suspicions that not all is as it seems.
Angela Lansbury delivers a brilliantly chilling performance as the main character's monstrously ambitious mother. 
Perhaps it goes on for 20 minutes more than it ought to, but it's a fine example of its genre and one of the very best films of the early 1960's.
A remake emerged in 2004, and didn't do a bad job with the update.
"Everything is under control."
"Everything is under control."
D: Jonathan Demme
Paramount (Ilona Herzberg, Jonathan Demme, Scott Rudin & Tina Sinatra)
US 2004
129 mins


W: Daniel Pyne & Dean Georgaris [based on the novel by Richard Condon]
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Carol Littleton & Craig McKay
Mus: Rachel Portman
PD: Kristi Zea

Denzel Washington (Maj. Bennett Marco), Liev Schreiber (Raymond Prentiss Shaw), Meryl Streep (Eleanor Prentiss Shaw), Jon Voight (Thomas Jordan), Kimberly Elise (Eugenie Rose)

One of the best remakes in recent years, updating the story to incorporate events of the Gulf War.
Denzel Washington plays a decorated soldier experiencing terrifying flashbacks of his tour of duty and uncovers a conspiracy involving a presidential election and an eerie brainwashing experiment.
Director Jonathan Demme is spot-on with the update of both the 1962 film and Richard Condon's original novel, even managing to append a unique twist to the proceedings which doesn't feel forced or clichéd.
The casting decisions are also fantastic, particularly Meryl Streep filling the shoes of Angela Lansbury's creepy performance in the previous film. I personally prefer the 1962 version, but as far as remakes go, it's a nice change to have one this enjoyable.
"Let Freedom Reign"
"Let Freedom Reign"


D: Justin Chadwick

20th Century Fox/Pathé/Videovision/Distant Horizon/Origin (David M. Thompson & Anant Singh)

UK/South Africa 2013

146 mins


W: William Nicholson [based on the autobiography "Long Walk To Freedom" by Nelson Mandela]

DP: Lol Crawley

Ed: Rick Russell

Mus: Alex Heffes 

Idris Elba (Nelson Mandela), Naomie Harris (Winnie Madikizela), Tony Kgoroge (Walter Sisulu), S'Thandiwe Kgoroge (Albertina Sisulu), Riaad Moosa (Ahmed Kathrada), Zolani Mkiva (Raymond Mhlaba)

Idris Elba really commits to the portrayal of Nelson Mandela in this biographical drama, charting his journey from civil rights lawyer during the segregation of Apartheid, his incarceration at Robben Island penitentiary, and eventual inauguration as the president of South Africa.  Occasionally his accent wavers and the makeup is quite unconvincing, but aside from that it's an excellent performance. One which should have arguably gained the actor an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Naomie Harris is also very good as Winnie Madikizela, the revolutionary activist who would later become his wife.

Based on a 700+ book, the film does rush through a few things which could have taken time, such as the end of Apartheid, which was a hugely significant historical event at the end of 20th Century, and though the first half of the film does focus on Nelson Mandela as a person behind the politics, this gives way as the film progresses as he merely becomes a central figure amongst the changing world around him. In fairness, to squeeze so much history into a 146 minute movie is a noble feat, as Mandela's autobiography could warranted being adapted into a 5 or 6 part mini-series. Enough is covered here to paint an accurate portrayal of a significant historical figure, who himself sadly passed away just a month after the film's premiere.


D: Woody Allen
United Artists (Charles H. Joffe)
US 1979
96 mins


W: Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman
DP: Gordon Willis
Ed: Susan E. Morse

Woody Allen (Isaac Davis), Diane Keaton (Mary Wilke), Michael Murphy (Yale), Mariel Hemingway (Tracy), Meryl Streep (Jill)

Woody Allen's love story to New York and the romantic tribulations of its residents, opening with a crescendo of George Gershwin's music and a montage of New York vistas and scenery.
Allen plays the usual neurotic character to which he's become accustomed, a comedy TV show writer going through a midlife crisis following a bitter divorce from his wife (Meryl Streep), who is now dating another woman.
Allen himself is in a relationship with a 17-year-old drama student, but the age gap sees him find love elsewhere, which he finds with superficial Manhattanite, Mary (Diane Keaton), who is secretly in love with Allen's best friend.
Some viewers will certainly find the on-screen relationship between Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway leaves a bad taste in their mouths, but when you consider that the entire film is about how self-serving and corrupt relationships can be it makes it a little easier to swallow.
Fans of Allen's work will class this as one of this very best (perhaps a little short of his superior Annie Hall) while those who don't like Allen would find a little bit of enjoyment from Gordon Willis' exquisite cinematography.

"Enter the mind of a serial killer... You may never come back."
"Enter the mind of a serial killer... You may never come back."
D: Michael Mann
Recorded Releasing/De Laurentiis (Richard Roth)
US 1986
120 mins
W: Michael Mann [based on the novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris]
DP: Dante Spinotti
Ed: Dov Hoenig
Mus: Michael Rubini
William L. Petersen (Will Graham), Kim Griest (Molly Graham), Joan Allen (Reba), Brian Cox (Dr. Lektor), Dennis Farina (Jack Crawford), Stephen Lang (Freddie Lounds), Tom Noonan (Francis Dollarhyde)
Five years prior to Anthony Hopkins immortalising the character of Hannibal Lector in The Silence Of The Lambs, Brian Cox had first dibs on bringing the psychotic doctor to the screen in Michael Mann's crime thriller.
Much like the 1991 film, this sees an intrepid FBI agent interview the incarcerated Lector to enable himself to "think like a killer" in order to entrap a serial killer who goes by the alias "The Tooth Fairy".
In comparison to The Silence Of The Lambs, this film feels very low key, but is definitely a worthwhile watch for fans of serial killer thrillers and the like.
Remade in 2002 under the book's original title.
D: Michael Gottlieb
20th Century Fox/Gladden (Art Levinson)
US 1987
89 mins
W: Edward Rugoff & Michael Gottlieb
DP: Tim Suhrstedt
Ed: Richard Halsey & Frank Jiminez
Mus: Sylvester Levay
Andrew McCarthy (Jonathan Switcher), Kim Cattrall (Emmy Heshire), Estelle Getty (Claire Timkin), James Spader (Mr. Richards), G.W. Bailey (Capt. Felix Maxwell)
Silly romantic fantasy in which an ancient Egyptian princess is placed under a curse in which she becomes a 20th century mannequin, miraculously bought to life by a bumbling window dresser who is the only person who is able to witness her speak and move.
For a juvenile audience, it has enough about it for entertainment value, but for older audiences it's very cheesy without being particularly funny.
The theme song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" was a huge hit on both sides of the Ocean for the pop band Starship.
D: Stewart Raffill
Rank/Gladden (Edward Rugoff)
US 1991
95 mins
W: Edward Rugoff, David Isaacs, Ken Levine & Betty Israel
DP: Larry Pizer
Ed: Joan Chapman
Mus: David McHugh
Kristy Swanson (Jessie), William Ragsdale (Jason), Meshach Taylor (Hollywood)
Pathetically bad rehash of the 1987 film which couldn't even be bothered to bring back characters or actors from the original cast, except for Meshash Taylor as a gay fashion expert, given an even bigger role for a reason only the writer and director would know.
This is, quite simply, a film that has no right to exist.

D: Harold P. Warren
Emerson/Sun City (Harold P. Warren)
US 1966
74 mins
W: Harold P. Warren
DP: Robert Guidry
Ed: James Sullivan
Mus: Ross Huddlestone & Robert Smith, Jr.     
Harold P. Warren (Michael), Diane Mahree (Margaret), Jackie Neyman (Debbie), Tom Neyman (The Master), John Reynolds (Torgo)
It shouldn't come as much surprise that everyone involved in the making of this low budget horror was never involved in another film again, which is a good thing, because the skills on show here leave a lot to be desired.
Harold P. Warren, an insurance man from Texas, made this film as part of a bet that making a horror film was not a difficult undertaking, and so financed it himself to write, produce, direct and star in.
The bare bones plot concerns a family who get lost while driving to a rural lodge and happen across a house, where they are warned not to stay by a cripple but decide to anyway because they clearly have no understanding of personal space.
It soon emerges that the master of the house has a harem of wives which he wishes to add to with the two interloping female family members, the nefarious reasons for which are never explained.
There are many things wrong with this film, starting with an incoherent plot and terrible dialogue, made even worse with the execution. The cinematography, continuity, editing, and sound recording are exceptionally bad, to the point that it's abundantly clear that Harold P. Warren didn't have a clue what he was doing.
Notoriously known as being one of the worst films of all time, and not in a "so bad it's good" way. It's incredibly boring, with long, tedious shots which easily could have been pared down to make this a 30 minute short film.
D: John Schlesinger
Paramount (Robert Evans & Sidney Beckerman)
US 1976
125 mins


W: William Goldman [based on his novel]
DP: Conrad L. Hall
Ed: Jim Clark
Mus: Michael Small

Dustin Hoffman (Babe Levy), Laurence Olivier (Szell), Roy Scheider (Doc Levy), William Devane (Janeway), Marthe Keller (Elsa), Fritz Weaver (Prof. Biesenthal), Marc Lawrence (Erhard)

Not a biopic about an Olympic champion that the title might suggest, but a gripping thriller with more nerve-jangling scenes than most of the modern day offerings.
A Nazi war profiteer returns to America from Uruguay in search for stolen diamonds which were in the possession of his (now dead) brother. He turns his attentions to those who he believe have clues to where they are hidden, an American agent and his younger brother, a long distance runner.
Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider & Marthe Keller are all very good, but the movie is remembered mostly for Laurence Olivier's crazed performance, the embodiment of sheer evil as Dr. Szell.
The dentistry torture scene is an iconic scene of motion picture history and worth watching the film for alone.

"Nice planet. We'll take it."
"Nice planet. We'll take it."
D: Tim Burton
Warner Bros. (Tim Burton & Larry Franco)
US 1996
103 mins
Science Fiction/Comedy
W: Jonathan Gems [based on the trading card series created by Topps]
DP: Peter Suschitzky
Ed: Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Wynn Thomas
Jack Nicholson (President James Dale / Art Land), Glenn Close (Marsha Dale), Annette Bening (Barbara Land), Michael J. Fox (Jason Stone), Pierce Brosnan (Prof. Donald Kessler), Sarah Jessica Parker (Nathalie Lake), Martin Short (Jerry Ross), Rod Steiger (Gen. Decker), Lukas Haas (Richie Norris), Natalie Portman (Taffy Dale)
The comedic flip side to 1996's other alien invasion film, Independence Day (qv), Mars Attacks is a throwback to the B-movies of the 1950's and 1960's with both its style and content.
Based on characters from a trading card game, it's all quite tongue in cheek as menacing-looking Martians visit, bringing messages of peace as they disintegrate all and sundry with their high-tech weaponry. Jack Nicholson plays a dual role as the President of the USA and a redneck casino owner and there's plenty more big names in the all-star cast.
Technically, it isn't as good as Roland Emmerich's science fiction blockbuster, but it's by far more fun.


D: Reginald Hudlin

Open Road/Starlight/Chestnut Ridge (Paula Wagner, Reginald Hudlin & Jonathan Sagner)

US 2017

118 mins


W: Michael Koskoff & Jacob Koskoff

DP: Newton Thomas Sigel

Ed: Tom McArdle

Mus: Marcus Miller

Chadwick Boseman (Thurgood Marshall), Josh Gad (Sam Friedman), Kate Hudson (Eleanor Strubing), Dan Stevens (Loren Willis), James Cromwell (Judge Foster), Sterling K. Brown (Joseph Spell)

Chadwick Boseman delivers an excellent performance in this biographical courtroom drama as Thurgood Marshall, a defence attorney and civil rights lawyer who would go on to become instrumental in the Brown vs Board of Education legal case in the mid-1950's, where racial segregation in educational establishments was dissolved. He also went on to become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, but the events in this film pre-date these two events, instead focusing on a lesser known criminal case in America's Deep South.

Offering his services to African-American's who otherwise would have no means of representation, Marshall takes on the case of Joseph Spell, a black chauffeur standing trial for the rape of his employer's wife, but the lawyer's hands are tied by the presiding judge, and a white, Jewish lawyer, Sam Friedman, is brought in to act as proxy.

Though the court case is where the majority of this story takes place, the case in question has been handled before in other courtroom dramas, albeit slightly differently, and the film doesn't tackle Marshall's bigger achievements at all, and much of the events here are either diluted or dramatised through the PC lenses of modern society, rather than presenting a hard-bitten version of the truth.

Still, the performances are very good, especially from the lead actor, and it's certainly worth a watch.


"Help is only 140 million miles away."
"Help is only 140 million miles away."
D: Ridley Scott
20th Century Fox/Scott Free (Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Aditya Sood & Mark Huffam)
US 2015
141 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Drew Goddard [based on the novel by Andy Weir]
DP: Dariusz Wolski
Ed: Pietro Scalia
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams
PD: Arthur Max

Matt Damon (Mark Watney), Jessica Chastain (Melissa Lewis), Jeff Daniels (Teddy Sanders), Kristen Wiig (Annie Montrose), Michael Peña (Rick Martinez), Kate Mara (Beth Johansson), Sean Bean (Mitch Henderson), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Vincent Kapoor)

First off, The Martian is not a comedy. It may have won the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy Film, it may star Kristen Wiig, it may have amusing moments and dialogue, but there is no way this falls outside the genres of science fiction or adventure.
Based on the novel by Andy Weir, Matt Damon stars as Mark Watney, an astronaut left stranded, presumed dead on Mars when he is separated from his crew following a storm which is so violent, they have no choice but to abandon their mission and head back to Earth.
Using his skills as a botanist and engineer, Watney must find a way to grow food on a planet where nothing grows, as well as managing his oxygen, water and other perishables until he can be rescued, which could be as long as four years.
Meanwhile, the suits at NASA hatch their plans to bring the astronaut back alive without compromising the crew who are already on their return home.
The Martian has shades of 2013's Gravity, putting a sole person in unimaginable position where their only goal is survival. Matt Damon brilliant carries the film in the majority of scenes where he is the only character, sharing his thought-process via a video diary where his biggest plan for survival is to "science the shit out of the planet".
This is amongst the best films of 2015, and thoroughly deserves to be amongst the Best Picture Oscar nominees.


D: Delbert Mann

United Artists (Harold Hecht)

US 1955

91 mins


W: Paddy Chayefsky [based on his television play]

DP: Joseph LaSchelle

Ed: Alan Crosland, Jr.

Mus: Roy Webb

Ernest Borgnine (Marty Piletti), Betsy Blair (Clara), Esther Minciotti (Mrs. Piletti), Joe Mantell (Angie), Augusta Ciolli (Aunt Catherine)

At a mere 91 minutes, this 1955 Best Picture winner still holds the record for being the shortest film to win the Oscars biggest prize.

It's a simple story, adapted from a 1953 television play of the same name also penned by Paddy Chayefsky, telling the story of Marty Piletti, an Italian-American butcher from the Bronx who goes out on Saturday nights looking for love with his best friend, Angie.  By chance, he meets Clara, a plain school teacher who his friends and overbearing mother don't seem to like, but all Marty wants is his own happiness.

Though certain elements are dated, the central "love conquers all" theme still stands the test of time and the film began a trend for material originally written for television received a Hollywood makeover. The plot was recycled for 1991 rom-com Only The Lonely, but Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair make a far better couple than John Candy and Ally Sheedy.


D: Robert Stevenson
Disney (Walt Disney & Bill Walsh)
US 1964
139 mins


W: Bill Walsh & Don da Gradi [based on the books by P. L. Travers]
DP: Edward Colman
Ed: Cotton Warburton
Mus: Irwin Kostal; Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
PD: Tony Walton
Cos: Tony Walton

Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), David Tomlinson (Mr. Banks), Glynis Johns (Mrs. Banks), Dick Van Dyke (Bert/Mr. Dawes, Sr.), Matthew Garber (Michael Banks), Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks), Hermione Baddeley (Ellen), Elsa Lanchester (Katie Nanna)

The original author of the series of books may not approve of Disney's adaptation of her work, but Mary Poppins is a timeless classic which is still capturing the imaginations of children over half-a-century after its original release.
Julie Andrews is the perfect choice as the magical nanny, who floats into London on her umbrella to teach two slightly naughty Edwardian children to make life enjoyable for both themselves and others, as well as building the fractured relationship between them and their stern father, a city banker.
All the songs, penned by the Sherman Brothers, are memorable, and even Dick Van Dyke's unconvincing performance as a Cockney street artist remains sticks in the memory.
Positively charming and a timeless childhood classic for kids of all ages. Practically perfect in every way.


D: Rob Marshall

Disney (Marc Platt, John DeLuca & Rob Marshall)

US 2018

130 mins


W: David Magee [based on characters created by P.L. Travers]

DP: Dion Beebe

Ed: Wyatt Smith

Mus: Marc Shaiman

PD: John Myhre

Cos: Sandy Powell

Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Jack), Ben Whishaw (Michael Banks), Emily Mortimer (Jane Banks), Pixie Davies (Annabel Banks), Nathanael Saleh (John Banks), Joel Dawson (Georgie Banks), Julie Walters (Ellen), Colin Firth (William Wilkins), Meryl Streep (Topsy), Dick Van Dyke (Mr. Dawes, Jr.)

Setting a new record of 54 years between the original film and its sequel, Mary Poppins returns to capture the hearts of children and adults alike with more magical adventures.

The original film is considered by many, including myself, an absolute classic, so the bar was set incredibly high and Emily Blunt had some big shoes to fill, replacing Julie Andrews as the title character.

Set many years after the original in depression era London, the Banks children from the original movie are now grown up, Michael with three children of his own (although his wife has passed on) and his sister Jane is a political campaigner for a working class movement. Given a week to save their family home from repossession from the bank, the magical nanny returns to bring a little joy back into everyone's lives.

The plot does copy the stencil of the first movie, but does so in quite a refreshing and original way, helped by Emily Blunt's performance, who does her own thing with the character but still brings a wonderful presence to the role which Julie Andrews did brilliantly in the original. Lin-Manuel Miranda also stars as a lamplighter, much similar to the role of Bert from the original film.

If I were to nitpick, it would be about the pantomime villain bank manager and a few of the casting decisions which seem a bit distracting and totally out of place, but what it does do it does very well, especially in dealing with a theme of loss. 

As a fan of the original, it does capture the magic with the visuals, especially in the fantastic production design which recreates Cherry Tree Lane just as it was in the 1964 movie, and the choice of using hand-drawn animation for the visual effects set pieces instead of computer generated imagery. It's just a shame that the songs in this are nowhere near as catchy as memorable as those penned by The Sherman Brothers in the original classic, although it has to be said that the bar was set incredibly high there and only time will tell if the songs in this will carry any weight.

Fans of the original will certainly have nostalgic feelings attached going into it, and I'd understand if some were disappointed with this new vision, and it's difficult to judge how younger children would view this, if they didn't have any affiliation with the original film.

Overall, I didn't think it was super, but it was califragilisticexpialidocious.


M*A*S*H (15)
D: Robert Altman
20th Century Fox/Aspen (Ingo Preminger)
US 1970
116 mins


W: Ring Lardner, Jr. [based on the novel by Richard Hooker]
DP: Harold Stine
Ed: Danford B. Greene
Mus: Johnny Mandel

Donald Sutherland (Hawkeye Pierce), Elliott Gould (Trapper John McIntyre), Tom Skerritt (Duke Forrest), Sally Kellerman (Maj. Hot Lips Houlihan), Robert Duvall (Maj. Frank Burns)

The farcical and satirical comedy on show in M*A*S*H is well ahead of its time. Set during the Korean War, but with all references removed to that conflict it could easily be attributed to the Vietnam War, which was still taking place when the film was produced.
The story follows the antics of a group of doctors in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit, as they maintain their sanity outside the operating tents with sexually-charged antics and pranks. Mostly as escapism to the "war is hell" scenario, but also as a middle finger up to bureaucratic hierarchy. 
The film made stars out of a virtually unknown cast at the time of filming, as well as director Robert Altman who brings his own patented style of clever camera angles, overlapping dialogue and a wicked style of black comedy, culminating in a rigged football game between the doctors and the superiors.
This anti-war comedy proved a huge influence during a year when more serious war pictures were being rolled out by studios (Patton, Tora! Tora! Tora!, etc.) and was adapted into a long-running TV series a few years after its premiere, as well as clearly being a big inspiration to sex-antic comedies which emerged over the next two decades.

"They told 16 year old Rocky Dennis he could never be like anyone else. So he was determined to be better."
"They told 16 year old Rocky Dennis he could never be like anyone else. So he was determined to be better."
MASK (15)
D: Peter Bogdanovich
Universal (Martin Starger)
US 1985
120 mins
W: Anna Hamilton Phelan [based on the true story of Rocky Dennis]
DP: Laszlo Kovacs
Ed: Barbara Ford
Mus: Dennis Ricotta
Cher (Rusty Dennis), Sam Elliott (Gar), Eric Stoltz (Rocky Dennis), Laura Dern (Diana Adams), Estelle Getty (Evelyn Tallis), Richard Dysart (Abe Tullis)             
Mask is the extraordinary true story of Rocky Dennis, a teenager born with a rare deformity in his facial bones which give him an unusual, unique appearance and a short life expectancy. His mother, Rusty, is a member of a Hell's Angels-like biker gang, addicted to alcohol and drugs. They both attempt to live as normal a life as possible under the circumstances and while Rocky excels academically, his mother finds it difficult to keep herself clean and sober.
Cher and Eric Stoltz (beneath unrecognisable makeup) deliver astounding performances and it must be considered a crime that Cher didn't at least receive an Oscar nomination for her performance (Stoltz deserved one too). It did win an Academy Award in the sole category it was nominated- Best Makeup, but to be ignored in all other categories must be considered one of the all-time awards snubs. Though it looks and seems like a TV movie-of-the-week, this is still amongst the best films of 1985 and deserved more recognition.
Not to be confused with the 1994 film The Mask, starring Jim Carrey.

"From zero to hero."
"From zero to hero."
D: Chuck Russell
New Line/Dark Horse (Bob Engleman)
US 1994
101 mins
W: Mike Werb [based on characters appearing in Dark Horse comics]
DP: John R. Leonetti
Ed: Arthur Coburn
Mus: Randy Edelman
Jim Carrey (Stanley Ipkiss / The Mask), Cameron Diaz (Tina Carlyle), Peter Greene (Dorian Tyrell), Peter Riegert (Lt. Mitch Kellaway), Amy Yasbeck (Peggy Brandt)       
1994 saw the career of Jim Carrey go from zero to hero; the rubber-faced comedian scoring massive box office hits with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (qv) before The Mask became a huge summer smash. 
He plays a goofy, wimpish bank clerk who discovers an ancient mask which has the power to turn him into a mischievious superhero. The film perfectly captures a comic-book look and utilises some excellent visual effects which combine live action with brilliant cartoon animation. Rumbunctious fun for kids and plenty for adults to enjoy too.
The film also offered a debut performance from Cameron Diaz, who literally bursts into the spotlight.
A sequel followed in 2003 (Son Of The Mask), but is best avoided.

D: Martin Campbell 
Columbia Tristar/Amblin (Doug Claybourne & David Foster)
US 1998
136 mins


W: John Eskow, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
DP: Phil Meheux
Ed: Thom Noble
Mus: James Horner
PD: Cecilia Montiel

Antonio Banderas (Alejandro Murrieta / Zorro), Anthony Hopkins (Don Diego de la Vega), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Elena Montero), Stuart Wilson (Don Rafael Montero), Matt Letscher (Capt. Harrison Love)

Indiana Jones-style adventure with the mask of the Mexican swashbuckler passing from Anthony Hopkins to Antonio Banderas as both men fight for revenge, Hopkins vying to kill the man who kidnapped his daughter and Banderas sworn to avenge his brother's death.
Catherine Zeta-Jones makes her Hollywood big screen debut as the woman with whom both men have an underlying interest.
A hugely entertaining update of the old-fashioned style Hollywood swashbucklers.

D: Roger Corman
AIP/Alta Vista (Roger Corman)
UK 1964
89 mins


W: Charles Beaumont & R. Wright Campbell [based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe]
DP: Nicolas Roeg
Ed: Ann Chegwidden
Mus: David Lee
PD: Robert Jones
Cos: Laura Nightingale

Vincent Price (Prince Prospero), Hazel Court (Juliana), Jane Asher (Francesca), Patrick Magee (Alfredo), John Westbrook (The Red Death)

Roger Corman's striking horror classic is as picturesque as a living canvas, Vincent Price stars as a devil-worshipping medieval prince who holds a ball in his castle while a plaque rages outside his walls, but Death is an uninvited guest.
The cinematography & production design make this film eminently watchable, whilst Price has great fun as the Machiavellian villain.
Arguably the best of all Corman's horror films.

D: Paul Thomas Anderson
TWC/Annapurna (Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi, Megan Ellison & JoAnne Sellar) 
US 2012
138 mins


W: Paul Thomas Anderson
DP: Mihai Mālaimare, Jr.
Ed: Leslie Jones & Peter McNulty
Mus: Jonny Greenwood

Joaquin Phoenix (Freddie Quell), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Lancaster Dodd), Amy Adams (Peggy Dodd), Laura Dern (Helen Sullivan), Madisen Beaty (Doris Solstad), Ambyr Childers (Elizabeth)

Joaquin Phoenix plays a naval officer returning to US soil following a tour of duty and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
He is seduced by Amy Adams into joining a strange cult, headed by her flamboyant father, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), but the rebellious officer is a hard man to manage.
Aside from a trio of excellent performances, the film has little to write home about, dragging on occasion and far more boring than the director's previous efforts (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood).

D: Peter Weir
20th Century Fox/Universal/Miramax (Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., Peter Weir & Duncan Henderson)
US 2003
132 mins


W: Peter Weir & John Collee [based on the novels by Patrick O'Brien]
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: Lee Smith
Mus: Iva Davies, Christopher Gordon & Richard Tognetti
PD: William Sandell
Cos: Wendy Stites

Russell Crowe (Capt. Jack Aubrey), Paul Bettany (Dr. Stephen Maturin), James D'Arcy (First Lt. Thomas Pullings), Edward Woodall (Second Lt. William Mowett), Chris Larkin (Capt. Howard)

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Captain of a British vessel attacked by an enemy ship is torn between his duty and his responsibility over his men's lives.
Though Peter Weir's seafaring adventure is brilliantly filmed and meticulously crafted, with some excellent sea battles, there are far too many scenes which drag on beyond their means and the dialogue between the characters is, on occasion, very cumbersome.
Paul Bettany wins the acting plaudits as the ship's doctor, first mate and logical conscience of the stern captain.

"1,000 faces and not a single clue."
"1,000 faces and not a single clue."


D: Perry Andelin Blake
Revolution/Happy Madison (Sid Ganis, Alex Siskin, Barry Bernardi & Todd Garner)
US 2002
80 mins


W: Dana Carvey & Harris Goldberg
DP: Peter Lyons Collister
Ed: Peck Prior & Sandy Solowitz
Mus: Marc Ellis

Dana Carvey (Pistachio Disguisey), Jennifer Esposito (Jennifer Baker), Harold Gould (Grandfather Disguisey), James Brolin (Fabbrizio Disguisey), Brent Spiner (Devlin Bowman)

Ten years after Wayne's World hit cinema screens, Dana Carvey's career was still in limbo whilst Mike Myers had a string of hits (Austin Powers, etc.)
Carvey attempted to create his own star power with this puerile comedy about a child-like Italian restauranteur who learns his family skills of disguise and puts them into use to rescue his father from gangsters.
Unfortunately, the script consists mostly of baby talk, the makeup is below average standard and Dana Carvey is far too irritating to carry the movie.
The only plus is that this torture is only 80 minutes long.

D: Gary Goddard
Cannon (Menahem Golan & Yoram Globus)
US 1987
106 mins
Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction
W: David Odell [based on characters from the cartoon series]
DP: Hanania Baer
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: Bill Conti
PD: William Stout
Dolph Lundgren (He-Man), Frank Langella (Skeletor), Meg Foster (Evil Lyn), Billy Barty (Gwildor), Courteney Cox (Julie Winston) James Tolkan (Det. Lubic)
The modus operandi of Cannon studios during the mid-to-late 1980's was to buy the rights to blockbuster material and then produce it with such a low budget, even B-movies of the 1960's would point and laugh. 
This method of filmmaking was to befall on their adaptation of the Master Of The Universe TV cartoon serial, which saw He-Man battle Skeletor in a magical kingdom. The TV series helped shift a huge amount of merchandise during the decade, including a line of action figures.
Cannon practically ended all the trade with this completely inadequate action fantasy, hampered with a bungled storyline and relocated to Earth for reasons only the filmmakers will know.
Everything about this is completely inferior, from the performances and script to the production design, makeup and visual effects,
Even die hard fans of the TV show would be hard pressed to enjoy this.

D: Ridley Scott
Warner/Saturn/Scott Free (Jack Rapke, Ridley Scott, Steve Starkey, Sean Bailey & Ted Griffin)
US/UK 2003
116 mins


W: Nicholas Griffin & Ted Griffin [based on the novel by Eric Garcia]
DP: John Mathieson
Ed: Dody Dorn
Mus: Hans Zimmer

Nicolas Cage (Roy Waller), Sam Rockwell (Frank Mercer), Alison Lohman (Angela)

A pair of confidence tricksters drift apart when one of them is reunited with his daughter.
This is one of them films which gained a following for having plenty of scenes in which Nicolas Cage "loses his shit", but all in all it's quite forgettable and the performances aren't really anything particularly special.

D: Joe Dante
Universal (Michael Finnell)
US 1993
99 mins
W: Charlie Haas [based on the story by Jerico Stone]
DP: John Hora
Ed: Marshall Harvey
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: Steven Legler
John Goodman (Lawrence Woolsey), Cathy Moriarty (Ruth Corday), Simon Fenton (Gene Loomis), Omri Katz (Stan), Lisa Jakub (Sandra)
Joe Dante's Matinee is an ode to 1950's film director William Castle, who produced horror and science fiction B-movies with an added twist, such as 3D "ghost viewer" glasses and rubber-costumed "monsters" at film premieres.
John Goodman is full of beans for this role as the wacky film producer using the same tricks to promote his new film "Mant!" in small town America during the peak of Cold War paranoia.
It's far from Dante's best work, but is still a very underrated film which struggle to find its key audience.
D: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow (Joel Silver)
US/Australia 1999
136 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Zach Staenberg
Mus: Don Davis
PD: Owen Paterson
Cos: Kym Barrett

Keanu Reeves (Thomas Anderson / Neo), Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity), Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith), Gloria Foster (The Oracle), Joe Pantoliano (Cypher)

The coolest film of 1999? The Matrix is certainly one of the coolest films of the 1990's.
Keanu Reeves plays a computer hacker trying to find a man called Morpheus. Once he finds him, his eyes are opened to the truth; his entire existence is actually a virtual reality world, all within the confines of a mainframe computer system. The real world is now a barren wasteland, where a handful of human survivors are in a fierce war against machines with high artificial intelligence.
It's a plot which draws off the usual sci-fi staples, but also adds much originality as well as a reference or three to Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland stories.
The film is also worth noting for its milestones in visual effects achievements, using "bullet time photography" to fully make a fully convincing world within a world.

D: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/NPV (Joel Silver)
US 2003
138 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Zach Staenberg
Mus: Don Davis
PD: Owen Paterson

Keanu Reeves (Neo), Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity), Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith), Jada Pinkett Smith (Niobe), Gloria Foster (The Oracle), Harold Perrineau (Link), Monica Bellucci (Persephone)

The first sequel to The Wachowski's 1999 breakthrough sci-fi hit is very much style over substance when compared to the original film, but still has enough action and thrills to keep it entertaining.
The story picks up where the original left off, with a full war brewing between the 'awoken' humans and the artificial intelligence network which controls the matrix.
Its only drawback is the cliffhanger ending, making it feel like a 138 minute trailer for the third in the series (which was filmed simultaneously with this one and released later the same year).

D: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/NPV (Joel Silver)
US 2003
129 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Zach Staenberg
Mus: Don Davis
PD: Owen Paterson

Keanu Reeves (Neo), Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity), Hugo Weaving (Smith), Jada Pinkett Smith (Niode), Monica Bellucci (Persephone)

Like most things which have revolutions, this third film to the series goes through the same old motions and is all very much "been there, done that".
Like the second film, it's style over substance once again with a plot consisting entirely of gobbledygook. This couldn't have gone any more off track from the first two films and leaves the impression that it was simply pieced together with trimmings from the cutting room floor when the previous films were edited. A very unsatisfying conclusion.

D: Richard Donner
Warner Bros./Icon (Bruce Davey & Richard Donner)
US 1994
127 mins
W: William Goldman [based on the television series created by Roy Huggins]
DP: Vilmos Zsigmond
Mus: Randy Newman
PD: Tom Sanders
Cos: April Ferry
Mel Gibson (Bret Maverick), James Garner (Marshal Zane Cooper), Jodie Foster (Annabelle Bransford), Graham Greene (Joseph), Alfred Molina (Angel), James Coburn (Commodore Duvall)
James Garner takes a supporting role in this western set comedy, based on the TV show character which he made famous in the later part of the 1950's.
For this big screen adaptation, Mel Gibson steps into the title character's shoes, a gunslinging Wild West gambler in a race to raise the money necessary to participate in a high stakes poker tournament, where his opponents include those who tried to double-cross him.
Slightly lengthy, but generally good fun, although it could be said that the in-jokes are far better than the obvious comedy. 

"Art. Politics. Power."
"Art. Politics. Power."

MAX (15)

D: Menno Meyjes

Lionsgate/Pathé/Alliance Atlantis/UK Film Council/Kinowelt/Aconit/H2O (Andras Hamori)

UK/Hungary/Canada 2002

106 mins


W: Menno Meyjes

DP: Lajos Koltai

Ed: Chris Wyatt

Mus: Dan Jones

PD: Ben Van Os

John Cusack (Max Rothman), Noah Taylor (Adolf Hitler), Molly Parker (Nina Rothman), Leelee Sobieski (Liselore), Ulrich Thomsen (Capt. Mayr)

Set in the days following the end of World War I, when Germany is still reeling from defeat and suffering the political implications of the conflict, a Jewish arts dealer strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Adolf Hitler, in-between his career as an artist and politician.

The film does flirt with Hitler's anti-Semitic outlook without fully exploring it, and does seem to hint at it escalating due to their dematerialising friendship.

Good performances really hold the movie together, especially from Noah Taylor, who would go on to play Der Führer in a television show a few years later. A special mention also has to go to Ben Van Os, for his excellent production design which captures the period with an air of animosity creeping in, just as the fascist regime did at the time.


D: Stephen King
Dino de Laurentiis (Martha Schumacher)
US 1986
97 mins
Science Fiction/Thriller
W: Stephen King
DP: Armando Nannuzzi
Ed: Evan Lottman
Mus: AC/DC
Emilio Estevez (Bill Robinson), Pat Hingle (Bubba Hendershot), Laura Harrington (Brett Graham), Yeardley Smith (Connie)
Horror novelist Stephen King takes a dab at screenwriting & directing with this science fiction thriller where all mechanical devices go haywire and develop a life of their own and menacing trucks trap a group of humans in a North Carolina gas station.
The premise is a rather idiotic update on Steven Spielberg's debut feature Duel (qv) and doesn't quite work. 
The soundtrack, crammed with songs by Stephen King's favourite rock band, AC/DC is certainly worth a listen to but King should really stick to working behind the typewriter rather than the camera.


D: Wes Ball

20th Century Fox/TSG/Temple Hill (Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen & Lee Stollman)

US 2014

113 mins

Science Fiction

W: Noah Oppenheimer, Grant Pierce Myers & T.S. Nowlin [based on the novel by James Dashner]

DP: Enrique Chediak

Ed: Dan Zimmerman

Mus: John Paesano

Dylan O'Brien (Thomas), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa), Aml Ameen (Alby), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt), Will Poulter (Gally), Ki Hong Lee (Minho), Patricia Clarkson (Ava Paige)

Based on a series of young adult novels, The Maze Runner is set in a dystopian future where a group of teenage boys live in a community of their own making which they call The Glade, the only escape from which is through an ever-changing labyrinth which is patrolled by dangerous cyborgs.

Thomas is a newcomer to this society, waking up in an elevator with no memory of who he is and how he got to be sent to the prison community. His presence is met with conflict by one of the teenage members, but the group of boys all band together to plot an escape when a teenage girl enters The Glade for the first time.

The Maze Runner will be as entertaining for teenage boys as Twilight is for teenage girls, but if you're outside the target demographic, you're unlikely to find it amazing.

Still, it's adequately produced, with some good performances, visual effects and some thrilling action scenes, but it's all pretty much Lord Of The Flies meets The Hunger Games for the under 16's. Two sequels followed.


"From gentle to mental."
"From gentle to mental."
D: Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly
20th Century Fox/Conundrum (Bradley Thomas, Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly)
US 2000
117 mins
W: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly & Mike Cerrone
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Christopher Greenbury
Mus: Peter Yorn & Lee Scott
Jim Carrey (Charlie Baileygates / Hank Evans), Renee Zellweger (Irene Waters), Chris Cooper (Lt. Gerke), Robert Forster (Col. Partington), Richard Jenkins (Agent Boshane)
The Farrelly Brothers, whose previous credits include the gross-out comedies Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin & There's Something About Mary, tackle schizophrenia with this effort. Jim Carrey stars as a state trooper with a split personality who falls in love with the woman he has to escort to New York City.
The filmmakers found themselves in hot water for poking fun at this hidden ailment, which was a little harsh in hindsight. The main issue is that the film isn't particularly funny, banking on Jim Carrey's rubberface act to raise the laughter. Disappointing and irritating. 

D: Sandra Goldbacher
Momentum/Road Movies/IoMFC (Finola Dwyer)
UK/Germany 2001
108 mins
W: Sandra Goldbacher & Laurence Coriat
DP: Denis Crossan
Ed: Michael Ellis
Mus: Adrian Johnston
Anna Friel (Marina), Michelle Williams (Holly), Oliver Milburn (Nat), Trudie Styler (Linda)
A rather pedestrian drama focusing on the friendship of two friends as they grow up and drift apart, from their school days in 1970's London to their university student days and beyond.
The two lead performances from Anna Friel & Michelle Williams are good, but aside from that, it isn't particularly memorable.

"Watch Your Back"
"Watch Your Back"


D: Mark Waters

Paramount/Broadway (Lorne Michaels)

US 2004

97 mins


W: Tina Fey [based on the book "Queen Bees & Wannabes" by Rosalind Wiseman]

DP: Daryn Okada

Ed: Wendy Greene Bricmont

Mus: Rolfe Kent

Lindsay Lohan (Cady Heron), Rachel McAdams (Regina George), Lacey Chabert (Gretchen Wieners), Amanda Seyfried (Karen Smith), Lizzy Caplan (Janis Ian), Jonathan Bennett (Aaron Samuels), Daniel Franzese (Damian Leigh), Tina Fey (Ms. Norbury)

A smarter than average teen comedy, featuring Lindsay Lohan's best performance and launching the careers of several other cast members.  

Lohan plays the new girl at a high school who falls under the influence of the popular clique and eventually sabotages friendships in the process.

A hugely popular movie since it's 2004 release, its success is mostly due to Tina Fey's insightful script, based on a book which didn't actually have a narrative and was more a self-help guide for young girls. The social observation prevalent through the first half of the movie does subside towards the closure, but it's still a thoroughly enjoyable movie with far more clout than many of the other films which set up a similar premise.

A straight to video sequel followed, but didn't receive the same attention.


"Not your usual suspects."
"Not your usual suspects."
D: Barry Skolnick
Paramount/Ska (Matthew Vaughn)
UK/US 2001
98 mins
W: Charlie Fletcher, Chris Baker & Andrew Day [based on the screenplay "The Longest Yard" by Tracy Keenan Wynn]
DP: Alex Barber
Ed: Eddie Hamilton & Dayn Williams
Mus: John Murphy
Vinnie Jones (Danny Meehan), Jason Statham (Monk), David Kelly (Doc), David Hemmings (Governer), Vas Blackwood (Massive), Danny Dyer (Billy the Limpet)
This Anglicised remake of American an sports comedy (The Longest Yard) stars real-life former footballer Vinnie Jones, a man of very limited acting ability, as a disgraced England footballer sent to prison for assault and forced by the warden into coaching other convicts to play in a match against the guards.
This is a prime example of the rubbish which came out of the woodwork following the success of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (qv). An English gangster film with a lead character with absolutely no charisma or charm, armed with a hand-me-down script with barely any believable dialogue.

D: Martin Scorsese
Universal (Jonathan Taplin)
US 1973
110 mins
W: Martin Scorsese & Mardik Martin
DP: Kent Wakeford
Ed: Sid Levin
Harvey Keitel (Charlie), Robert DeNiro (Johnny Boy), David Proval (Tony), Richard Romanus (Michael)
Martin Scorsese's original gangster piece, long before his later crime dramas Goodfellas & Casino, stars Harvey Keitel & Robert DeNiro in early roles as a pair of hoodlums in 1960's New York and their petty crime sprees as they attempt to make a name for themselves.
Keitel's performance carries the picture, sticking up for his friend's continual  screw-ups and wrestling with his own conscience.         
There are some similarities to Goodfellas (qv), but those expecting a "Goodfellas Jr" may feel short-changed, but it's notable as the film for which the director found his identity as a filmmaker.
The soundtrack of popular hit songs around the time is exemplary.

"What happens when a man possesses the power to cause catastrophe at will?"
"What happens when a man possesses the power to cause catastrophe at will?"
D: Jack Gold 
Warner Bros./ITC (Jack Gold)
UK/France 1978
105 mins
W: John Briley [based on the novel by Peter Van Greenaway]
DP: Arthur Ibbetson
Ed: Anne V. Coates & Ian Crafford
Mus: Michael J. Lewis
Richard Burton (John Morlar), Lino Ventura (Brunel), Lee Remick (Dr. Zonfeld), Michael Hordern (Atropous), Gordon Jackson (Dr. Johnson)
Part whodunit, part apocalyptic disaster flick.
Richard Burton stars as a writer who can not only predict the future, he holds the belief that he can create it, especially disasters, by the use of his telekinetic abilities.
The film opens with him being bludgeoned to near death in his home while watching a news bulletin about a lunar mission gone wrong, a French detective investigates the assault, but even from comatose state in a hospital bed there still remains a threat of impending danger.
There's a handful of good performances, especially Lee Remick as a psychiatrist, but Richard Burton is practically limited to a cameo appearance. The visual effects and most of the elements of the production are very good considering the age of the film, and overall it's worthy of a cult following.
It's somewhat surprising that this hasn't been through the Hollywood remake machine, with a clichéd, upbeat ending tacked on.

"There's a whole other world going on inside him."
"There's a whole other world going on inside him."


D: Brian Robbins

20th Century Fox/Deep River/Dune/Regency (Jon Berg, David T. Friendly & Todd Komarnicki)

US 2008

90 mins

Comedy/Science Fiction

W: Bill Corbett & Rob Greenberg

DP: J. Clark Mathis

Ed: Ned Bastille

Mus: John Debney

Eddie Murphy (Dave Ming Cheng / Number 1), Elizabeth Banks (Gina Morrison), Ed Helms (Number 2), Gabrielle Union (Number 3), Mark Blucas (Mark Rhodes)

Anyone who read British comics The Beano, The Beezer and The Dandy may remember the strip The Numskulls, in which a human body was a vessel containing tiny people who controlled each body part.

Meet Dave is pretty much a film version of that, with Eddie Murphy playing a spaceship as well as the tiny captain within. The rest of the plot is your usual fish-out-of-water tale, with the bigger Murphy wandering around New York City and becoming more human with the help of Elizabeth Banks kindly single mother. 

Though not as bad as some other Eddie Murphy films released around the same time (Norbit, etc.) this is far from his best work.


D: Martin Brest
Universal/City Light (Martin Brest)
US 1998
180 mins


W: Ron Osborn, Jeff Wade, Kevin Wade & Bo Welch [based on the play "Death Takes A Holiday" by Alberto Casella]
DP: Emmanuel Lubezki
Ed: Joe Hutshing & Michael Tronick
Mus: Thomas Newman
PD: Dante Ferretti

Brad Pitt (Joe Black), Anthony Hopkins (Bill Parrish), Claire Forlani (Susan Parrish), Jake Weber (Drew), Marcia Gay Harden (Allison Parrish), Jeffrey Tambor (Quince)

This glossy remake of 1940's fantasy Death Takes A Holiday is a movie totally in love with Brad Pitt. Overlong, pretentious and the only message it seems to convey is that true love is totally dependent on initial encounters and have nothing to do with the content on one's character, beauty is skin deep and as long as somebody is ruggedly handsome, it doesn't matter if they have the personality of a rock. 
It's understandable that the character calls for Brad Pitt's performance to be rather emotionless, but his acting in this is pretty woeful (particularly his Jamaican accent, mon!) and he spends the majority of the time gawping in wonder and eating peanut butter. Claire Forlani's character lacks credibility and Anthony Hopkins tries his best with what is the movie's most believable character, but a better screenplay is desperately needed. Thomas Newman's tender music is sweet, but is there really a need for it to play throughout every single scene?!
The only people I'd recommend this to is little girls with absolutely no comprehension of what true love is. Pop singer Taylor Swift might like it.

D: Vincente Minnelli
MGM (Arthur Freed)
US 1944
113 mins
W: Irving Brescher & Fred Finklehoffe [based on the novel by Sally Benson]
DP: George Folsey
Ed: Albert Akst
Mus: Georgie Stoll
Judy Garland (Esther Smith), Margaret O'Brien (Tootie Smith), Tom Drake (John Truett), Mary Astor (Anne Smith), Lucille Bremer (Rose Smith), June Lockhart (Lucille Ballard)
Classic Judy Garland musical about an affectionate family at the turn of the 20th century.
Like the majority of the musicals of Hollywood's Golden Age there'll be those who enjoy this more than others, but many people will recognise the timeless songs, especially "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"

"Meet the new bugs on the block."
"Meet the new bugs on the block."
D: Michael Lehmann
New World/Castle Premier (Denise di Novi)
US 1991
82 mins
Comedy/Science Fiction
W: Redbeard Simmons & Michael Lehmann         
DP: Mitchell Dubin
Ed: Norman Hollyn
Mus: David Newman
Ed Begley, Jr. (Richard Applegate), Stockard Channing (Jane Applegate), Dabney Coleman (Aunt Bea), Bobby Jacoby (Johnny Applegate), Camille Cooper (Sally Applegate)
A family of giant insects disguise themselves as humans so they can infiltrate suburban America and destroy a nuclear facility which wrecked their natural habitat in the Brazilian rainforest
Slapstick for the MTV generation from a point in the 90's when it was cool to support anything Greenpeace, or whatever, man. 


D: Peter Jackson

Intervision/OPEIU/Wingnut (Jim Booth)

New Zealand 1989

97 mins


W: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Danny Mulheron & Stephen Sinclair

DP: Murray Milne

Ed: Jamie Selkirk

Mus: Peter Dasent

voices of: Mark Hadlow (Robert the Hedgehog / Heidi the Hippo / Barry the Bulldog), Peter Vere-Jones (Bletch the Walrus / Arthur the Worm / Newspaper Mouse), Donna Akersten (Lucille the Poodle / Samantha the Cat / Dorothy the Sheep), Stewart Devanie (various characters)

Muppets on drugs. That's pretty much the central theme of this movie, which has become a modest cult success following Peter Jackson's rise to stardom and his Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

This black comedy focuses on the perverse shenanigans which go on behind the curtains at a puppet variety show, satirising The Muppets in a rather filthy way.

Enjoyment depends wholly on how filthy your sense of humour is, but it has to be said that the whole film is dirty, even achieving a sickeningly seedy look through its cinematography, production design and puppetry. 

As Jackson said upon his Best Director win for Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King - The Academy were very wise to overlook this.


D: Jay Roach
Dreamworks (Nancy Tenenbaum, Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro & Jay Roach)
US 2000
108 mins


W: Jim Herzfeld & John Hamburg [based on the screenplay by Greg Glienna & Mary Ruth Clarke]
DP: Peter James
Ed: Jon Poll
Mus: Randy Newman

Ben Stiller (Gaylord 'Greg' Focker), Robert De Niro (Jack Byrnes), Blythe Danner (Dina Byrnes), Teri Polo (Pam Byrnes), Owen Wilson (Kevin Rawley), James Rebhorn (Dr. Larry Banks)

Ben Stiller has a week to forget when he visits the in-laws-to-be with his fiancé and faces the inauguration from hell from her stern father, a former CIA agent, very set in his conservative ways.
There are some genuinely funny moments in this smash hit comedy, with a good on-screen double act between Stiller and Robert DeNiro. Far too many jokes revolve around Ben Stiller's characters name (Focker) which were stretched beyond breaking point in the inevitable sequel (Meet The Fockers).
There are a couple of cringeworthy moments, but it's generally a good-natured romantic comedy, based on a 1992 film which flew so low under the radar, it would be miracle if anyone even knew of its existence, nevermind actually seen it.

"Misery loves family."
"Misery loves family."
D: Jay Roach
Dreamworks (Jane Rosenthal & Robert De Niro)
US 2004
115 mins
W: Jim Herzfeld & John Hamburg
DP: John Schwartzmann
Ed: Jon Poll & Lee Haxall
Mus: Randy Newman
Ben Stiller (Gaylord 'Greg' Focker), Robert De Niro (Jack Byrnes), Dustin Hoffman (Bernie Focker), Barbra Streisand (Roz Focker), Blythe Danner (Dina Byrnes), Teri Polo (Pamela Byrnes)
The formula from Meet The Parents (qv) returns for this sequel to the 2000 hit film, with far too many jokes revolving around the unfortunate surname of Ben Stiller's character and his family. 
Generally, the film is quite enjoyable, with Dustin Hoffman & Robert DeNiro constantly attempting to outdo each other throughout the film being the main highlight, the predecessor is much funnier though.


D: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

20th Century Fox/Regency (Peter Safran, Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer)

US 2018

83 mins


W: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

DP: Shawn Maurer

Ed: Peck Prior

Mus: Christopher Lennertz

Sean Maguire (King Leonidas), Carmen Electra (Queen Margo), Ken Davitan (Xerxes), Nicole Parker (Paris Hilton / Britney Spears / Ellen DeGeneres / Paula Abdul)

Parody of 300 from the writer-director duo who spent most of the mid-2000's spoofing any films they could. Unfortunately, their direction and writing skills contain no humour or comic timing, resorting to referencing pop culture figures, bad taste gags and puerile jokes, most of which are repeated throughout the movie.

The film was shot in a week. It shows. Easily one of the worst films of 2008.


"Opening Wide."
"Opening Wide."

THE MEG (12)

D: Jon Turtletaub

Warner Bros/Gravity/Flagship/Appelles/Maeday (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Colin Wilson & Belle Avery)

US/China 2018

113 mins


W: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber [based on the novel "Meg: A Novel Of Deep Terror" by Steve Alten]

DP: Tom Stern

Ed: Steven Kemper

Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams

Jason Statham (Jonas Taylor), Li Bingbing (Suyin Zhang), Rainn Wilson (Jack Morris), Ruby Rose (Jaxx Herd), Winston Chao (Dr. Minway Zhang), Cliff Curtis (James 'Mac' Mackreides)

There's an episode of TV's Family Guy where Peter, the moronic head of the Griffin family, suggest a new idea for a film. It's Jaws, but with a bigger shark, the film's title will be Bigger Jaws. That's what The Meg is.

Set off the coast of Shanghai, because cracking the Orient means more to Hollywood than a decent script or dependant acting nowadays, the plot opens with a group of scientists who unearth a trench on the ocean floor which is considered the deepest point on Earth. The expedition goes wrong and rescue expert Jonas Taylor is brought in to save the day, albeit too late as disturbing the trench has allowed the escape of a Megalodon, a huge shark thought to have been extinct since prehistoric times. Everything that follows is derivative of any shark movie you may have seen since Jaws first emerged onto cinema screens in the 1970's.

The Meg is certainly one of those films you'll know you'll enjoy or not before you even watch it. It's exactly what it says on the tin- Jason Statham fighting a shark. 

The acting is atrocious, the dialogue laughable and the plot ridiculous, but with films like Sharknado managing to find an audience, this at least deserves some credit for having some production value. For fans of shark movies or Jason Statham vehicles, this is worth a catch, just don't expect it to be fresh. For me, The Meh would have been a more accurate title.



D: Lars Von Trier
Zentropa/Canal+ (Meta Louise Foldager & Louise Vesth)
Denmark/Sweden 2011


W: Lars Von Trier
DP: Manuel Alberto Claro
Ed: Molly Malene Stensgaard

Kirsten Dunst (Justine), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire), Alexander Skarsgård (Michael), Kiefer Sutherland (John), John Hurt (Dexter), Stellan Skarsgård (Jack), Charlotte Rampling (Gaby)

On her wedding day, a young woman experiences apocalyptic visions and develops friction between her new husband and her sister as the portentous omens which haunt her appear to be coming true.
There are those who will appreciate Lars Von Trier's filmmaking style, utilising picturesque cinematography to present a visual poem rather than a story developing through dialogue. Of course, on the other hand, there's just as many who will find this boring, pretentious twaddle.

"Some memories are best forgotten."
"Some memories are best forgotten."
D: Christopher Nolan
Pathé/Newmarket/Summit (Suzanne Todd & Jennifer Todd)
US 2001
116 mins
W: Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan
DP: Wally Pfister
Ed: Dody Dorn
Mus: David Julyan
Guy Pearce (Leonard Shelby), Carrie-Anne Moss (Natalie), Joe Pantoliano (Teddy), Mark Boone, Jr. (Burt), Stephen Tobolowsky (Sammy)
Christopher Nolan's directorial breakthrough is nothing short of genius. 
Told in reverse chronological order, a man who cannot make any new memories following an attack in which his wife was raped and murdered searches for the man responsible so he can avenge her death. Forming his clues through photographs and notes, he tattoos the facts on his body in his relentless hunt.
Though Guy Pearce delivers his best screen performance as the enigmatic lead character, the real star of this picture is the editing, putting the puzzling mystery together one piece at a time towards it's thrilling denouement.
One small gripe is that the DVD allows for the story to be viewed in "real time" which should really be avoided. It simply takes all the magic of the movie away.

D: Rob Marshall
Columbia Tristar (Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick & Steven Spielberg)
US 2005
145 mins


W: Robin Swicord [based on the novel by Arthur Golden]
DP: Dion Beebe
Ed: Pietro Scalia
Mus: John Williams
PD: John Myhre
Cos: Colleen Atwood

Zhang Ziyi (Sayuri), Ken Watanabe (The Chairman), Michelle Yeoh (Mameha), Koji Yakusho (Nobu), Youki Kudoh (Pumpkin), Kaori Momoi (Mother), Gong Li (Hatsumomo)

Beautiful to look at from the opening frame, with rich cinematography and lush costumes just two of the merits that make this cinematic eye candy.
A young girl is sold by her father into the life of a geisha, where she is initially bullied by the head girl, but becomes mentored by a rival to become one of the most desired women in pre-WWII Japan.
Though the production is very well presented, it's 'Hollywood deluxe', with no real authenticity to early 20th century Japan, especially with the casting choices of Chinese actresses, though both Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li are excellent in their roles, the former of whom is an effortless natural beauty.
The story doesn't quite defend the lengthy running time, but your eyes will appreciate watching it.

D: John Carpenter
Warner Bros./Studio Canal/Regency (Bruce Bodner & Dan Kolsrud)
US 1992
99 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Robert Collector, Dana Olsen & William Goldman [based on the novel by H. F. Saint]
DP: William A. Fraker
Ed: Marion Rothman
Mus: Shirley Walker

Chevy Chase (Nick Holloway), Daryl Hannah (Alice Monroe), Sam Neill (David Jenkins), Michael McKean (George Talbot), Stephen Tobolowsky (Warren Singleton)

John Carpenter's spin on the invisible man concept sees Chevy Chase in the lead role. Following an accident at laboratory which turns him invisible, the CIA hunt him down to cover up the event.
Although the film is genuinely entertaining and has some impressive visual effects, its main problem is that it can't quite decide what kind of movie it wants to be, deviating between chase thriller and romantic comedy with occasional slapstick. The performances don't help with the style of filmmaking either, with Chase torn between doing his usual comedy routine and playing it straight, while Sam Neill is a rather formulaic bad guy. Daryl Hannah is given very little to do as the love interest.

"Protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe."
"Protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe."
D: Barry Sonnenfeld
Columbia/Amblin (Walter F. Parkes & Laurie MacDonald)
US 1997
90 mins
Science Fiction/Action/Comedy
W: Ed Solomon [based on the comics by Lowell Cunningham]
DP: Don Peterman
Ed: Jim Miller
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Bo Welch
Will Smith (Agent J), Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K), Linda Fiorentino (Dr. Laurel Weaver), Vincent D'Onofrio (Edgar), Rip Torn (Agent Zed), Tony Shalhoub (Jeebs)
With his stock rising high following the huge success of Independence Day (qv) in 1996, Will Smith stuck with the sci-fi blockbusters for 1997's Men In Black, a comic book adventure with a big dose of comedy injected.
Stripped of his identity and recruited into a top secret government agency which tracks and controls extra-terrestrial life, both he and his veteran partner, Tommy Lee Jones, uncover a plot to destroy their universe.
There's some excellent make up, visual effects and production design some crafty little in-jokes wedged into the story, but it will still appeal much more to younger audience members than adults. Still, it's good fun.
"Back in black."
"Back in black."
D: Barry Sonnenfeld
Columbia/Amblin (Walter F. Parkes & Laurie MacDonald)
US 2002
88 mins
Science Fiction/Action/Comedy
W: Robert Gordon & Barry Fanaro [based on the comics by Lowell Cunningham]
DP: Greg Gardiner
Ed: Steven Weisberg & Richard Pearson
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Bo Welch
Will Smith (Agent J), Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K), Rip Torn (Agent Zed), Lara Flynn Boyle (Serleena), Rosario Dawson (Laura Vasquez), Tony Shalhoub (Jack Jeebs)
Virtually ignoring the end of the first film to reunite Will Smith & Tommy Lee Jones' characters, this sequel is more or less a retread of the first film with a female villain (a woefully cast Lara Flynn Boyle) with motives which don't stray too far from the 1997 movie.
It gives off the impression that the cast and crew were only in it for the money. 
The atrociously poor visual effects really should have been subject for a refund. 

D: Barry Sonnenfeld
Columbia/Amblin (Walter F. Parkes & Laurie MacDonald)
US 2012
106 mins
Science Fiction/Action/Comedy
W: Etan Cohen [based on the comics by Lowell Cunningham]
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Don Zimmerman
Mus: Danny Elfman
Will Smith (Agent J), Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K), James Brolin (Young Agent K), Jermaine Clement (Boris the Animal), Michael Stuhlbarg (Griffin), Emma Thompson (Agent O)
A big improvement on the first sequel, but it doesn't have anything on the original Men In Black, mostly because it makes absolutely no sense.
It deals with time travel, so it's probably best you ignore everything about metaphysics and just enjoy the movie for what it is. Agent J (Smith) must travel back to 1969 to save younger Agent K (Brolin). It keeps the same mismatched partner elements from the first films only this time it's in the sixties. 
The comedy isn't as prevalent as the first movie but there's enough action and adventure to entertain.
Will Smith does his usual and some of the supporting performances leave a lot to be desired (especially from Nicole Schertzinger, appearing in a cameo which should have gone to an actual actress). The biggest asset is Josh Brolin, who does an impeccable impersonation of a young Tommy Lee Jones. A shame the visual effects aren't quite up to the same standard.
"History is made by those who break the rules."
"History is made by those who break the rules."
D: George Tillman, Jr.
20th Century Fox (Robert Teitel & Bill Badalato)
US 2000
123 mins

W: Scott Marshall Smith
DP: Anthony B. Richmond
Ed: John Carter
Mus: Mark Isham
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Carl Brashear), Robert De Niro (Master Chief Leslie Sunday), Charlize Theron (Gwen Sunday), Hal Holbrook (Mr. Pappy), David Keith (Capt. Hartigan), Michael Rapaport (Snowhill)
Based on the true story of Carl Brashear, who overcame racism and other adversities to become the first African-American chief diver in the US Navy, despite facing hurdles from all the way up the military chain of command.
This biopic feels quite pedestrian in places, with not much to set it apart from countless other triumph over adversity tales, though it's very much galvanised with A-list performances of Cuba Gooding, Jr. & Robert DeNiro as an alcoholic, bigoted instructor who redeems himself when he becomes Brashear's trainer.

"Someone knows too much."
"Someone knows too much."
D: Harold Becker
Universal/Imagine (Brian Grazer & Karen Kehala)
US 1998
112 mins


W: Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal [based on the novel "Simple Simon" by Ryne Douglas Peardon]
DP: Michael Seresin
Ed: Peter Honess
Mus: John Barry

Bruce Willis (Agent Art Jeffries), Alec Baldwin (Lt. Col. Nicholas Kudrow), Miko Hughes (Simon Lynch), Chi McBride (Agent Tommy Jordan), Kim Dickens (Stacey Siebring)

Only in formulaic Hollywood action guff could the US government be so grossly incompetent that they could fail to carry out a professional hit on a 9-year-old autistic boy. The reason he's become a target is because he cracked a top secret code, which is bad for some reason, even though the child can fail to hold a conversation with anyone, including his own mother.
Bruce Willis can save the day though, as a disgraced agent on bodyguard duty, but with as little personal skills as the child.
The representation of autism here is not only false, but also very distasteful. The performances are all pantomime standard and the incessant John Barry score that plays throughout feels completely out of place.

"Mom is many things... Normal isn't one of them."
"Mom is many things... Normal isn't one of them."
D: Richard Benjamin
Rank/Orion (Lauren Lloyd, Wallis Nichita & Patrick Palmer)
US 1990
110 mins
W: June Roberts [based on the novel by Patty Dann]
DP: Howard Atherton
Ed: Jacqueline Cambas
Mus: Jack Nitzsche
Cher (Rachel Flax), Bob Hoskins (Lou Landsky), Winona Ryder (Charlotte Flax), Christina Ricci (Kate Flax)
Coming-of-age 1960's set comedy-drama starring Cher as a flirtatious mother of two young girls, one of whom is torn between her decision to become a nun and her attraction to a handsome teenage boy.
Though this film found its audience at the time of release, it fails in the longevity test, memorable mostly for Cher's cover version of The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss), reaching number one in the UK singles charts.

D: Oren Moverman
Oscilloscope (Mark Gordon, Lawrence Inglee & Zach Miller)
US 2009
113 mins
W: Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
DP: Bobby Bukowski
Ed: Alexander Hall
Mus: Nathan Larson
Ben Foster (Sgt. Will Montgomery), Woody Harrelson (Capt. Tony Stone), Samantha Morton (Olivia Pitterson), Steve Buscemi (Dale Martin), Jena Malone (Kelly)
A powerful and emotional drama, solely focused on the war at home, as Ben Foster & Woody Harrelson play US army messengers, notifying the Next Of Kin about the loss of their loved ones. The most powerful scenes are the cinematic equivalent of a punch to the gut and the acting is simply excellent, especially from Harrelson and Samantha Morton, who plays a widow struggling to cope with the grief following the death of her husband. 
Unfortunately, the narrative goes in a different direction shortly after the hour mark but it's still a powerful, albeit depressing movie and an important look at the damage war does to everybody and not only serving on the frontline.

D: Ronald Neame
MGM/Palladium (Sandy Howard & Gabriel Katzka)
US 1979
107 mins
Science Fiction/Adventure
W: Stanley Mann & Edmund H. North
DP: Paul Lohmann
Ed: Carl Kress
Mus: Laurence Rosenthal
Sean Connery (Dr. Paul Bradley), Natalie Wood (Tatiana Donskaya), Karl Malden (Harry Sherwood), Brian Keith (Dr. Dubov), Martin Landau (Gen. Adkin), Trevor Howard (Sir Michael Hughes), Henry Fonda (The President)
Talkative disaster melodrama, in which a group of scientists discuss the best course of action to avert a huge meteor careering towards Earth.
Unfortunately, the film gets so bogged down in dialogue, in lacks any thrills or tension, and doesn't have much drama either. From the poster alone, it's clear to see that this is TV movie of the week standard, albeit with a strong cast.

D: Robert Townsend
MGM/Tinsel Townsend (Loretha C. Jones)
US 1993
99 mins
Science Fiction/Adventure
W: Robert Townsend
DP: John A. Alonzo
Ed: Adam Bernardi
Mus: Cliff Eidelman
Robert Townsend (Jefferson Reed / Meteor Man), Marla Gibbs (Maxine Reed), Eddie Griffin (Michael Anderson), Robert Guillaume (Ted Reed), James Earl Jones (Earnest Moses), Bill Cosby (Marvin)
A novel idea to launch a black superhero, gaining his powers after being hit by a meteor and using them to clean up his gang-ridden neighbourhood.
Good intentions aside, it simply lacks any qualities to make it memorable, despite being reasonably entertaining.


D: Fritz Lang
UFA (Erich Pommer)
Germany 1926 (re-edited issue 1984)
120 mins (1984 version: 83 mins)

Science Fiction

W: Thea Von Harbou
DP: Karl Freund & Günther Rittau
PD: Otto Hunte, Erich Kettlehut & Karl Volbrecht

Brigitte Helm (Maria), Alfred Abel (Joh Frederson), Gustav Fröhlich (Freder), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Rotwang), Fritz Rasp (The Thin Man)

In 1926-27, this German silent would have wowed cinema audiences the way modern audiences are blown away by IMAX. As a work of art, it's still hugely influential for the majority of futuristic science fiction films, especially for the production designers who create the wonderful worlds of tomorrow. As far as entertainment is concerned, this is unlikely to interest anyone who isn't either working in the biz or merely a film buff. Overlong and heavy-going in places, it's not an easy watch, despite the brilliance for its age.
Set in a modernistic city in the year 2000, political unrest stirs amongst a group of workers who live underground, and an inventor creates an evil cyborg in the likeness of a saintly girl to control the populace.
That's the story in a nutshell, effective in the way it's told simply because it's a film project which hadn't been directed in this way prior. 
A must-see, if only for educational purposes (the original 1926 silent, not Giorgio Moroder's re-cut 1984 version with a rock music soundtrack).


D: Whit Stillman
Mainline/Westerley/Allagash (Whit Stillman)
US 1989 (released 1990)
98 mins


W: Whit Stillman
DP: John Thomas
Ed: Christopher Tellefsen
Mus: Mark Suozzo & Tom Judson

Carolyn Farina (Audrey Rouget), Edward Clements (Tom Townsend), Christopher Eigeman (Nick Smith), Taylor Nichols (Charlie Black), Allison Rutledge-Parisi (Jane Clarke), Dylan Hundley (Sally Fowler)

Metropolitan is a small independent film where not much happens, but is still well-made, well-written and well-acted besides this.
A cash-strapped, left-wing student falls in with a group of rich Manhattan socialites who just seem intent on having cocktail parties and little else, making them realise there's more to life than their faux friendships. 
With more than a few references to the Pride & Prejudice and other literature classics, the film feels like an ode to Jane Austen without being a modernisation of her works.
This film won't be everyone's cup of tea however, and despite some realistic, intelligent dialogue there's very little else to recommend about it.

D: Gore Verbinski
Dreamworks/Newmarket (Lawrence Bender & John Baldecci)
US 2001
123 mins


W: J.H. Wyman
DP: Dariusz Wolski
Ed: Craig Wood
Mus: Alan Silvestri

Brad Pitt (Jerry Welbach), Julia Roberts (Samantha Barzel), James Gandolfini (Winston Baldry), J.K. Simmons (Ted Slocum), Bob Balaban (Bernie Nayman)

An incompetent thief is blackmailed by gangsters to smuggle a priceless pistol out of Mexico, his girlfriend being used as leverage to ensure he carries out his mission.
This is doubtlessly one of the biggest cockteases in Hollywood history. Advertised as a blockbuster vehicle for Brad Pitt & Julia Roberts, the pair actually spend hardly any screen time together. Perhaps because they have so little chemistry when they do. Disappointly forgettable.

D: George Armitage
Rank/Orion/Tristes Tropiques (Jonathan Demme & Gary Goetzman)
US 1990
97 mins


W: George Armitage [based on the novel by Charles Willeford]
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Craig McKay & Bill Johnson
Mus: Gary Chang

Fred Ward (Sgt. Hoke Moseley), Alec Baldwin (Frederick 'Junior' Frenger), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Susie 'Pepper' Waggoner), Nora Dunn (Ellita Sanchez)

Ex-convict on the run Alec Baldwin impersonates a police officer to manipulate the law to his own means whilst doggedly pursued by Fred Ward, the cop whose badge he stole.
In the grand scheme of things, the film isn't a classic, but does have moments of tense thrills and dark humour, in addition to a pair of good performances from its leading men.

"The truth can be adjusted."
"The truth can be adjusted."
D: Tony Gilroy
Warner/Section Eight/Mirage/Castle Rock (Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox, Kerry Orent & Steven Samuels)
US 2007
119 mins


W: Tony Gilroy
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: John Gilroy
Mus: James Newton Howard

George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Tom Wilkinson (Arthur Edens), Tilda Swinton (Karen Crowder), Sydney Pollack (Marty Bach)

It wouldn't be hugely off the mark to describe this film as a mix between The Fugitive & Erin Brockovich, featuring an impressive performance from George Clooney as the title character.
As a "fixer" for a corporate law firm, he finds that he may have bitten off more than he can chew when they represent a guilty chemical company over a billion dollar law suit.
The pacing of the first 30-40 minutes does occasionally drag, but the opening act must be watched studiously to have an understanding grasp of what follows in the second & third acts.
Though it's amongst Clooney's best performances, the film's best players are Tom Wilkinson & Tilda Swinton (Swinton won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, while Wilkinson may well have if it wasn't for an astoundingly good performance from Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men the same year).
An intelligent and thoroughly enjoyable legal thriller shot with some unique directorial flair.

"A romantic comedy you can't refuse."
"A romantic comedy you can't refuse."
D: Kelly Makin
Universal/Castle Rock/Simian (Elizabeth Hurley & Charles Mulvehill)
US 1999
103 mins


W: Adam Scheinman & Robert Kuhn
DP: Donald E. Thorin
Ed: David Freeman
Mus: Basil Poledouris

Hugh Grant (Michael Felgate), James Caan (Frank Vitale), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Gina Vitale), Burt Young (Vito Graziosi), James Fox (Philip Cromwell), Joe Viterelli (Vinnie D'Agostino)

Meagre attempt to cash in on Hugh Grant's popularity at the time by casting him in this tepid rom-com about a charmingly befuddled English auctioneer who gets inadvertently involved with the Mafia when he falls in love with a teacher whose father is a mobster.
It's all one-joke sitcom stuff with annoying performances and not much to laugh about.

D: John Schlesinger
United Artists (Jerome Hellman)
US 1969
113 mins


W: Waldo Salt [based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy]
DP: Adam Holender
Ed: Hugh A. Robertson
Mus: John Barry

Jon Voight (Joe Buck), Dustin Hoffman (Enrico 'Ratso' Rizzo), Brenda Vaccaro (Shirley), Sylvia Miles (Cass), John McGiver (Mr. O'Daniel)

A frank & seedy look at New York City at the tail end of the swinging sixties. A rather dim-witted Texan "stud" journeys into the Big Apple hoping to earn a fortune seducing older ladies. His plan doesn't go as expected and he forms a bond with a degenerate Italian grifter.
The contrast between Jon Voight & Dustin Hoffman's characters makes them a classic film double act.
Despite not being too risqué (at least by modern day standards) it became the first X-rated film to win a Best Picture Oscar, although this may more to do with that fact that the entire plot is a metaphor for repressed homosexuality, a hugely taboo subject for its time.

D: Alan Parker
Columbia/Casablanca (Alan Marshall & David Puttnam)
UK 1978
121 mins


W: Oliver Stone [based on the book by Billy Hayes & William Hoffer]
DP: Michael Seresin
Ed: Gerry Hambling
Mus: Giorgio Moroder

Brad Davis (Billy Hayes), Randy Quaid (Jimmy Booth), John Hurt (Max), Irene Miracle (Susan), Bo Hopkins (Tex), Paul Smith (Hamidou)

A brutally uncomfortable watch, but a film which simply can't be ignored. Based partly on the true story of Billy Hayes, an American student caught attempting to smuggle hashish bars out of a Turkish airport and given a lengthy sentence in a squalid prison as a scapegoat so others wouldn't attempt the same.
In utter despair from his ordeal and desperate to see his family again, he sees the opportunity to take the "midnight express" (i.e. escape).
Certain events in the film are exaggerated and embellished from the truth, but it's all for dramatic impact, rather than what the PC brigade would call racism. The prison depicted in the film has caused some embarrassment for Turkey in the years since, for which screenwriter Oliver Stone has had to apologise, but it cannot be denied that the events in this film can't be forgotten.

D: Woody Allen
Sony Pictures Classics/Gravier/Mediapro (Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum & Jaume Roures)
US/Spain 2011
94 mins


W: Woody Allen
DP: Darius Khondji
Ed: Alisa Lepselter
Mus: Stephane Wrembel
PD: Anne Siebel

Owen Wilson (Gil Pender), Rachel McAdams (Inez), Marion Cotillard (Adriana), Michael Sheen (Paul Bates), Adrien Brody (Salvador Dali), Kathy Bates (Gertrude Stein)

Love him or hate him, it can't be denied that, on occasion, Woody Allen is an exceptional storyteller.
Midnight In Paris seems like a very personal project for the writer-director. A love letter to Paris, the 1920's and the age of Belle Époque.
Owen Wilson plays a disillusioned writer who strolls through Paris at night and travels back to a time where he soirees with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and other famous figures who inspire him in his own work. 
It's not too far different from the BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart and is quite self-indulgent Woody Allen. It doesn't stop it being a good film and possibly Allen's best work since Bullets Over Broadway.

D: Martin Brest
UIP/Universal (Martin Brest)
US 1988
126 mins
W: George Gallo
DP: Donald Thorin
Ed: Billy Weber, Chris Lebenzon & Michael Tronick
Mus: Danny Elfman
Robert De Niro (Jack Walsh), Charles Grodin (Jonathan Mardukas), Yaphet Kotto (Alonso Mosely), John Ashton (Marvin Dorfler), Dennis Farina (Jimmy Serrano), Joe Pantoliano (Eddie Moscone), Richard Foronjy (Tony Darvo), Robert Miranda (Joey), Jack Kehoe (Jerry Geisler), Wendy Phillips (Gail)
Robert DeNiro never received much praise for the comedy roles which he took up, but Midnight Run is one film for which he deserves kudos, despite playing it straight and the laughs coming from the mismatched partner scenario with a twist.
DeNiro plays independent bounty hunter Jack Walsh, hired by a bail bonds agency to locate a former mob accountant (Charles Grodin) and return him to custody. What follows is a road trip from hell as he locates his man, but has a harder time than he expects getting him back from New York to California, pursued all the while by a pair of incompetent mobsters, tenacious FBI agents and a former colleague with a grudge 
It's a fantastic twist on the "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" formula, with a charmingly hilarious interaction between the two lead characters.
It's not quite DeNiro's best film, but it's certainly one of his most underrated.

"He's not like us."
"He's not like us."
D: Jeff Nichols
Warner Bros/Entertainment One/Tri-State/Faliro (Sarah Green & Brian Kavanaugh-Jones)
US 2016
111 mins

Science Fiction/Drama/Thriller

W: Jeff Nichols
DP: Adam Stone
Ed: Julie Monroe
Mus: David Wingo

Michael Shannon (Roy Tomlin), Joel Edgerton (Lucas), Kirsten Dunst (Sarah Tomlin), Adam Driver (Paul Sevier), Jaeden Lieberher (Alton Meyer), Sam Shepard (Calvin Meyer)

It's apparent that Steven Spielberg movies were an inspiration for writer-director Jeff Nichols' screenplay, particularly Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, and though the film had obvious budget restraints, the filmmaker does a very good job.
It's a difficult film to describe the plot to without traipsing into spoiler territory and it's also a film which is best appreciated if you know very little about it, so if you've yet to see it and would like to, I recommend that you read no further.
The story sees Michael Shannon & Joel Edgerton on the road with a young boy who turns out to be Shannon's biological son. In pursuit of the trio are the FBI and members of a religious cult. This is where the story becomes quite convoluted, as it's set up that the boy has been kidnapped by the cult, who were using his supernatural abilities for their own means, but it transpires that the child was, in fact, rescued. The FBI, having gained intelligence on the cult's knowledge of certain government secrets, want to capture the boy so they can discover how he knows such information.
Shannon & Edgerton succeed in delivering the boy to his mother (Kirsten Dunst), before taking the journey to an undisclosed location where a certain event is prophesied to occur.
For an independent film, the amount of craft put into it is admirable, and Jeff Nichols appears to be a top filmmaker stepping onto the big stage. However, the pacing of the narrative won't be for everyone and if you weren't a fan of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, it's unlikely that you'll enjoy this too much. 
The acting, particularly by Michael Shannon, is excellent and the cinematography is very well done. A special mention also has to go to David Wingo for his atmospheric music score, which must be a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination.

D: Woody Allen
Miramax/Sweetland (Robert Greenhut)
US 1995
95 mins
W: Woody Allen
DP: Carlo DiPalma
Ed: Susan E. Morse
PD: Santo Loquasto
Woody Allen (Lenny), Helena Bonham-Carter (Amanda), Mira Sorvino (Linda Ash), Michael Rapaport (Kevin), F. Murray Abraham (Leader), Olympia Dukakis (Jocasta), Peter Weller (Jerry Bender)
Woody Allen enthusiasts will enjoy this much more than regular cinemagoers. It's his typical style of neurotic comedy, yet isn't anywhere near as good as his better works.
He takes on the lead character once more as a sports writer driven to rescue the mother of his adopted son from a life of prostitution.
Mira Sorvino's standout performance is enchanting and irritating in equal measure, but was memorable enough to see her win 1995's Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

D: Ernest Schoedsack
RKO (Merian C. Cooper)
US 1949
94 mins
W: Ruth Rose
DP: J. Roy Hunt
Ed: Ted Cheesman
Mus: Roy Webb
Terry Moore (Jill Young), Ben Johnson (Gregg), Robert Armstrong (Max O'Hara), Frank McHugh (Windy), Douglas Fowley (Jones)
It's King Kong with a smaller ape wrecking havoc in the name of fantasy and adventure.
The stop motion special effects are very impressive considering the age of the film but it's nothing more than a blatant cash-in on the success of 1933's bigger, better monkey movie.

D: Ron Underwood
Buena Vista/Disney/RKO (Ted Hartley & Tom Jacobson)
US 1998
114 mins


W: Mark Rosenthal & Lawrence Konner [based on the screenplay by Ruth Rose]
DP: Don Peterman & Oliver Wood
Ed: Paul Hirsch
Mus: James Horner
PD: Michael Corenblith

Charlize Theron (Jill Young), Bill Paxton (Gregg O'Hara), Rade Sherbedgia (Andre Strasser), Peter Firth (Garth), David Paymer (Harry Ruben), Regina King (Cicely Banks)

Though it's far from perfect, this is an example of a remake which is superior to the original film, which was nothing more than a cash-in on the success of King Kong. 
The special effects in the original were a technological milestone at the time, but like the original Kong, don't look special now following the dawn of optical effects, CGI and bigger budgets allowing for other advancements.
The story between the two films is vastly different, with the remake taking on a more ecologically-minded edge, culminating in an action-packed ending with some great visual effects.
Neither film can be classed as a masterpiece, but the remake is the easier version to watch, although the scene in which Charlize Theron sings to the giant ape in Swahili really should've been left on the cutting room floor.


D: Jake Szymanski

20th Century Fox/TSG (Peter Chernin, Jonathan Levine, David Ready & Jenno Topping)

US 2016

99 mins


W: Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O'Brien

DP: Matthew Clark

Ed: Lee Haxall & Jonathan Schwartz

Mus: Jeff Cardoni

Zac Efron (Dave Stangle), Adam DeVine (Mike Stangle), Anna Kendrick (Alice), Aubrey Plaza (Tatiana), Sugar Lyn Beard (Jeanie Stangle), Stephen Root (Burt Stangle), Stephanie Faracy (Rosie Stangle)

I'm dismayed by the current standard of comedy when all Hollywood want to churn out month after month are low-brow teen-orientated sex comedies brimful with puerile humour, especially when it's more embarrassing than it is funny.

Zac Efron and Adam DeVine play two raucous brothers who are requested by their parents to find dates for their sister's upcoming wedding to prevent them from acting like dickheads and spoiling the day. They succeed in finding Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, who look wholesome, but turn out to be less better behaved than the boys.

This shoe-on-the-other-foot sort of thing has been done before, as far back as the 1960's, and it wasn't particularly funny then, but it's louder now, and more in-your-face than ever before.

I found the characters incredibly annoying, not helped by immature performances and an infantile script (Anna Kendrick deserves better than this). Personally, I couldn't care less if two absolute wankers get girlfriends or not.


"He knows FA about football."
"He knows FA about football."
D: Steve Barron
UK Film Council/Hallmark/AIN (Neil Peplow & Steve Barron)
UK 2001
89 mins
W: Rob Sprackling & J.R.N. Smith
DP: Mike Eley
Ed: Colin Green
Ricky Tomlinson (Mike Bassett), Amanda Redman (Karine Bassett), Philip Jackson (Lonnie Urquart), Bradley Walsh (Dave Dodds), Phill Jupitus (Tommo Thompson)
British-produced satire which pokes fun at the England football team, and though the jokes will be obvious to fans of football and those from England, anyone else is unlikely to cotton on to the humour.
This mockumentary begins with the breaking news that the current England football manager has suffered a fatal heart attack, and the bureaucratic suits at the Football Association have doubts over giving the job to the standout candidate (a reference to Brian Clough), so offer the job to an old-fashioned first division manager who is way out of his depth on the international stage, where the team still need to qualify for the upcoming World Cup.
The film is full of references to players present and past, including a pony-tailed goalkeeper, a playboy midfielder and a striker whose best days are behind him.
Overall, it won't be appreciated by anyone other than its intended audience, and feels like a feeble attempt to launch a film career for a television sitcom actor who was very popular at the time of release.

"Option 1: Diplomacy. Option 2: Military. Meet Option 3"
"Option 1: Diplomacy. Option 2: Military. Meet Option 3"

MILE 22 (18)

D: Peter Berg

STX/Huayi Brothers (Peter Berg, Mark Wahlberg & Stephen Levinson)

US 2018

94 mins


W: Lea Carpenter

DP: Jacques Jouffret

Ed: Colby Parker, Jr. & Melissa Lawson Cheung

Mus: Jeff Russo

Mark Wahlberg (James Silva), Iko Uwais (Li Noor), Lauren Cohan (Alice Kerr), John Malkovich (James Bishop), Ronda Rousey (Sam Snow)

Director Peter Berg has been dubbed a poundstore Michael Bay by some, which is quite harsh considering he helmed Deepwater Horizon, Lone Survivor and Patriots' Day, all of which were decent movies, and only 2012's Battleship on his resumé is considered a dud... until now.

The film opens with a montage which shows Mark Wahlberg's character James Silva to be some kind of child prodigy-come-adult genius. Unfortunately, this is never shown in the rest of the movie as he just acts like an obnoxious, shouty douchebag who leads a covert government unit and shoots at people every now and then.

His covert group of agents must accompany a political prisoner 22 miles across hostile territory where he awaits extradition, upon which he will reveal information which will prevent a potential terrorist attack.

Wahlberg's aside, the performances are okay, especially Lauren Cohan, but the action scenes are poorly executed, mostly due to the baffling direction and editing choices, which are far too frenetic to actually make out what's going on, and thus must serve only to disguise poor stunt work.

At a mere 94 minutes, at least it's not too big a waste of time.


MILK (15)
D: Gus Van Sant
Focus Features/Axon/Groundswell (Dan Jinks & Bruce Cohen)
US 2008
128 mins


W: Dustin Lance Black
DP: Harris Savides
Ed: Elliott Graham
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Bill Groom
Cos: Danny Glicker

Sean Penn (Harvey Milk), Emile Hirsch (Cleve Jones), Josh Brolin (Dan White), Diego Luna (Jack Lira), James Franco (Scott Smith)

Sean Penn won his second Best Actor Oscar in five years (following 2003's Mystic River) for his lead performance in this biopic of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist during the 1970's and the first openly gay politician to run for Californian office.
It's a superb performance from Penn, 100% convincing in the role, whilst Josh Brolin & James Franco offer sterling support. There's excerpts from documentary films featuring the real-life Harvey Milk & the subject matter is handled very tastefully by director Gus Van Sant.

D: Joel Coen
20th Century Fox/Circle Films (Ethan Coen)         
US 1990
115 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
DP: Barry Sonnenfeld
Ed: Michael R. Miller
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Dennis Gassner
Cos: Richard Hornung

Gabriel Byrne (Tom Reagan), Marcia Gay Harden (Verna), John Turturro (Bernie Bernbaum), Jon Polito (Johnny Caspar), J.E. Freeman (Eddie Dane), Albert Finney (Leo)

Not quite in the same regard as the Coen Brothers' other films (Fargo, No Country For Old Men, etc.), this is probably one for die-hard fans of the filmmakers of gangster movie enthusiasts only.
It's quite a complicated, convuluted tale of two warring mob bosses during prohibitio-era America. The characters & dialogue are quite Coen-esque, but not quite as quirky as their usual, while the attention to the period is given justice by Barry Sonnenfeld's atmospheric photography, as well as the production and costume design, in addition to Carter Burwell's memorable music score.
It occasionally (and quite unnecessarily) drags in many places, but does feature one classic scene between Gabriel Byrne & John Turturro, where the latter prays for his life in the woods, which makes the film altogether well worth a watch.

"Beyond their journey. There is a love."
"Beyond their journey. There is a love."
D: Clint Eastwood
Warner Bros./Lakeshore/Malpaso (Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy, Tom Rosenberg & Paul Haggis)
US 2004
132 mins


W: Paul Haggis [based on stories from "Rope Burns" by F. X. Toole]
DP: Tom Stern
Ed: Joel Cox
Mus: Clint Eastwood
PD: Henry Bumstead

Clint Eastwood (Frankie Dunn), Hilary Swank (Maggie Fitzgerald), Morgan Freeman (Eddie 'Scrap Iron' Dupris), Anthony Mackie (Shawrelle Berry), Jay Baruchel (Danger Barch), Mike Colter (Big Willie Little)

Million Dollar Baby is a boxing picture which will leave you absolutely floored.
Ageing boxing coach Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) reluctantly trains a trailer-trash waitress into realising her dream of becoming a prizefighter, but there comes a cruel twist of fate in the championship bout which changes their lives.
Hilary Swank delivers a strong performance as Maggie Fitzgerald, winning a Best Actress Oscar in the process, whilst Clint Eastwood gives one of the strongest screen performances in his illustrious career. Morgan Freeman received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as a retired fighter, whilst the film became the underdog winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture for 2004, and rightly so.

D: Ronald Neame
GFD (John Bryan)
UK 1953
91 mins


W: Jill Craigie [based on a story by Mark Twain]
DP: Geoffrey Unsworth
Ed: Clive Dinner
Mus: William Alwyn

Gregory Peck (Henry Adams), Jane Griffiths (Portia Lansdowne), Ronald Squire (Oliver Montpelier), Joyce Grenfell (Duchess of Cromarty), A.E. Matthews (Duke of Frognall)

A twist on "Brewster's Millions" for a British audience with an American star, a man is given a million pounds in the form of a single note and is given the challenge of spending it without breaking into it.
The film has a slight charm about it, but doesn't have the weight of the best Ealing comedies. A pleasant watch, but nothing remarkable.


D: Seth MacFarlane
Universal/MRC/Fuzzy Door (Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber & Jason Clark)
US 2014
116 mins


W: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild
DP: Michael Barrett
Ed: Jeff Freeman
Mus: Joel McNeely

Seth MacFarlane (Albert Stark), Charlize Theron (Anna Barnes-Leatherwood), Amanda Seyfried (Louise), Neil Patrick Harris (Foy), Giovanni Ribisi (Edward), Sarah Silverman (Ruth), Liam Neeson (Clinch Leatherwood)

Seth MacFarlane's follow up to Ted is hugely disappointing, mostly because it simply isn't funny, at all, resorting to puerile fart jokes for most of its humour.
MacFarlane directs himself as a poor sheep farmer, low on confidence after being dumped by his belle for being the biggest coward in town. It doesn't take him long to find a new love interest though, unfortunately for him, she's already married to the most infamous gunslinger in the West.
The script to this film is really lazy, as though it were thrown together over a stoned weekend, with Seth MacFarlane putting his own character in practically every scene with all the other actors given absolutely nothing to do except drop in an F-word every now and then.
Charlize Theron tries, but her character is so weak, you simply don't care for the romance blossoming between her character and the lead.
Ted had a living bear which talks like Peter Griffin. This film has a cowboy version of Brian Griffin. Using modern day buzzwords and mannerisms in the context of a 19th century Western simply doesn't work. It's just lame.
The comedy would mostly appeal to young children, but the constant foul language and sex jokes makes it completely inappropriate.
It's understandable why this was considered amongst the year's worst films.

"For thousands of years, man has been evolutions greatest creation... Until now."
"For thousands of years, man has been evolutions greatest creation... Until now."
MIMIC (18)
D: Guillermo del Toro
Dimension (Bob Weinstein, B. J. Rack & Ole Bornedal)
US 1998
105 mins
W: Matthew Robbins & Guillermo del Toro
DP: Dan Laustsen
Ed: Patrick Lussier
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Mira Sorvino (Dr. Susan Tyler), Jeremy Northam (Dr. Peter Mann), Josh Brolin (Josh), Giancarlo Giannini (Manny), Charles S. Dutton (Officer Leonard Norton)
One of the better, most atmospheric Hollywood horror flicks of the late 1990's, set in the near future where a species of mutants, created to rid New York City of a plague, evolve into murderous creatures that resemble human beings.
It's refreshing to see a horror film where a director (Guillermo del Toro) utilises dark camerawork to create a sense of dread and builds the tension without resorting to cheap shocks or tacky effects, but when the creature is seen, it doesn't disappoint.

D: Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda
Universal/Illumination (Chris Meledandri & Janet Healy)
US 2015
91 mins


W: Brian Lynch
Mus: Heitor Pereira

voices of: Pierre Coffin (Kevin / Stuart / Bob / The Minions), Sandra Bullock (Scarlet Overkill), Michael Keaton (Walter Nelson), Alison Janney (Madge Nelson), Steve Coogan (Professor Flux)

The huge success of the Despicable Me films made it inevitable that the minion characters from them would receive their own spin-off, and the resulting film had its own huge success.
The story explains the origins of the minion species, existing to serve only the worst of the worst throughout the history of the world. Set in the 1960's, three minions, Kevin, Stuart and Bob, are hired by an evil villainess who needs them for a plot to infiltrate and overthrow the Royal Family of England.
The animation is superb, but the humour isn't really on point, mostly because the dialogue is nonsensical mumblings of the strange little creatures. Fans of the Despicable Me films and young children won't be disappointed, but the movie isn't quite the little treat it potentially could have been.

"Everybody runs."
"Everybody runs."
D: Steven Spielberg
20th Century Fox (Jan de Bont, Bonnie Curtis, Gerald R. Molen & Walter F. Parkes)
US 2002
144 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Scott Frank & Jon Cohen [based on the story by Philip K. Dick]
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Alex McDowell

Tom Cruise (John Anderton),,Colin Farrell (Danny Witwer), Samantha Morton (Agatha Lively), Max Von Sydow (Lamar Burgess), Peter Stormare (Dr. Solomon P. Eddie)

Another high-tech concept from Philip K. Dick gets the big screen treatment, and Steven Spielberg does a pretty good job with the futuristic visuals, especially in the darker moments.
In a distant future of ubiquitous product placement and zero tolerance to crime, a government unit uses a group of psychics, dubbed "pre-cogs" and kept in suspended animation pool, to determine and prevent murders before they even happen, but when one of the cops in charge of the unit is deemed guilty of killing a man he is yet to have met, he runs...
Tom Cruise is in his comfort zone in this spin on paranoia chase thrillers, with enough action set pieces to keep it ticking over nicely. The film's best moments come when he kidnaps one of the pre-cogs to prove his innocence. Samantha Morton really should have received at least a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, she doesn't have an awful lot to do, but when she gets her chance to shine, she grabs it.

D: George Seaton
20th Century Fox (William Perlberg)
US 1947
94 mins


W: George Seaton [based on a story by Valentine Davies]
DP: Charles Clarke & Lloyd Ahern
Ed: Robert Simpson 
Mus: Cyril Mockridge

Maureen O'Hara (Doris Walker), John Payne (Fred Gailey), Natalie Wood (Susan Walker), Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle), Gene Lockhart (Judge Henry Harper)

Seasonal classic in which a department store Santa Claus claims that he's the real thing and is committed as a result, only for the community to rally for his release.
Parts of the film haven't dated well, but it's a sweet & charming story of Yuletide innocence which perfectly encapsulates the magical time of year.

D: Les Mayfield 
20th Century Fox (John Hughes)
US 1994
114 mins


W: George Seaton & John Hughes [based on a story by Valentine Davies]
DP: Julio Macat
Ed: Raja Gosnell
Mus: Bruce Broughton

Elizabeth Perkins (Dorey Walker), Dylan McDermott (Bryan Bedford), Mara Wilson (Susan Walker), Richard Attenborough (Kris Kringle), J.T. Walsh (Ed Collins)

Schmaltzy remake of the 1947 classic with some good performances, especially from Richard Attenborough as the department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real thing.
As far as remakes go, this is very well done, but seems to have been dipped in an extra coating of sugar in the more sentimental moments.

D: Arthur Penn
United Artists/Playfilms (Fred Coe)
US 1962
106 mins
W: William Gibson [based on his play]
DP: Ernest Caparros
Ed: Aram Avaklan
Mus: Laurence Rosenthal
PD: George Jenkins & Mel Bourne
Cos: Ruth Morley
Anne Bancroft (Annie Sullivan), Patty Duke (Helen Keller), Victor Jory (Capt. Keller), Inga Swenson (Kate Keller), Andrew Prine (James Keller), Beah Richards (Viney)
A moving, incredibly well-acted, real life drama about the childhood of Helen Keller, left blind, deaf and dumb from an illness during infancy, and the efforts from her tutor Annie Sullivan to help her communicate again using a sign language method, which is met with incredulity by the young girl's family, particularly the overbearing, traditionalist father.
The performances of Anne Bancroft & Patty Duke carry this biographical film, which does occasionally veer into over-hysterical melodrama, when a more down to earth  approach to the subject matter could have been just as effective, that being said, the scene towards the end when Helen finally realises that she is being taught the methods to communicate is very uplifting.
The two lead performances certainly struck a chord with audiences at the time of the film's release, winning Oscars for Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
Personally, I felt there were better female acting performances in 1962, but it's perfectly understandable why Oscar decided to reward these two ladies, especially Patty Duke, who, at 16 years old, became the youngest recipient of a Supporting Actress Oscar (until eclipsed by Tatum O'Neal for Paper Moon in 1973)

"One bad apple."
"One bad apple."
D: Tarsem Singh
20th Century Fox/Relativity Media (Ryan Kavanaugh, Bernie Goldmann, Brett Ratner & Kevin Misher)
US 2012
106 mins


W: Melissa Wallack, Marc Klein & Jason Keller [based on the fairytale "Snow White" by The Brothers Grimm]
DP: Brendan Galvin
Ed: Robert Duffy & Nick Moore
Mus: Alan Menken
PD: Tom Foden
Cos: Eiko Ishioka

Lily Collins (Snow White), Julia Roberts (Queen Clementianna), Armie Hammer (Prince Andrew Alcott), Nathan Lane (Brighton), Mare Winningham (Margaret), Michael Lerner (The Baron), Sean Bean (The King)

One of two 2012 movies adapted from the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale, the other being Snow White & The Huntsman. Personally, I feel the latter was the better film. Just.
This one uses a pantomime style to the other's more action-orientated fantasy, although I think the performances are slightly better in this. Lily Collins is a much more convincing Snow White than Kristen Zombie and Julia Roberts is rather hilarious, vamping it up as the evil queen.
My interest started to flag in the final half-hour of this, but it's the most family-friendly of the two movies. If anything, I'd say this would be the better choice for the seasonal period.

"Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he's writing to stay alive."
"Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he's writing to stay alive."
D: Rob Reiner
Medusa/Castle Rock/Nelson (Andrew Scheinman & Rob Reiner)
US 1990
107 mins
W: William Goldman [based on the novel by Stephen King]
DP: Barry Sonnenfeld
Ed: Robert Leighton
Mus: Marc Shaiman
James Caan (Paul Sheldon), Kathy Bates (Annie Wilkes), Richard Farnsworth (Buster), Frances Sternhagen (Virginia), Lauren Bacall (Marcia Sindell)
Adapted from Stephen King's novel and bolstered by a manic, wide-eyed performance from Kathy Bates, Misery is amongst the better works of the horror author's adaptations.
Injured in a car accident, writer Paul Sheldon is taken in by a reclusive nurse Annie Wilkes, who claims to be his biggest fan, but the crazed woman takes badly to the news that his new book is the final part of a best-selling series and forces him against his will to re-write it.
Bates' absolutely steals this movie as the psychopathic carer, delivering one of the most memorable villainous performances in screen history. You have to have a strong stomach for some of the film's more grizzly moments, particularly the infamous "hobbling scene". Not for weak stomachs.

D: Donald Petrie
Warner Bros./Castle Rock/Village Roadshow (Sandra Bullock)
US 2000
111 mins
W: Marc Lawrence
DP: Laszlo Kovacs
Ed: Billy Weber
Mus: Edward Shearmur
Sandra Bullock (Gracie Hart), Michael Caine (Victor Melling), Benjamin Bratt (Eric Matthews), William Shatner (Stan Fields), Ernie Hudson (Harry McDonald), Candice Bergen (Kathy Morningside)             
A tomboyish FBI agent has to rediscover her heirs & graces and transform from an ugly duckling into a golden goose to infiltrate a beauty pageant which has been targeted by a terrorist threat.
Not to be taken seriously, this film is what it is, good fun and nothing more. Of Sandra Bullock's earlier work, this is her most charming performance.
A sequel followed, but this is the kind of film which works only the once.


D: Tim Burton

20th Century Fox/TSG (Peter Chernin & Jenno Topping)

US 2016

127 mins


W: Jane Goldman [based on the novel by Ransom Riggs]

DP: Bruno Delbonnel

Ed: Chris Lebenzon

Mus: Mike Higham & Matthew Margeson

PD: Gavin Bocquet

Cos: Colleen Atwood

Eva Green (Miss Peregrine), Asa Butterfield (Jake Portman), Ella Purnell (Emma Bloom), Finlay MacMillan (Enoch O'Connor), Lauren McCrostie (Olive Elephanta), Chris O'Dowd (Frank Portman), Terence Stamp (Abraham Portman), Judi Dench (Esmeralda Avocet), Samuel L. Jackson (Mr. Barron)

Fantasy maestro Tim Burton tackles Ransom Riggs occult novel for this magical movie, starring Asa Butterfield as troubled teenager Jake Portman, who travels to a small Welsh town so he can visit an orphanage where his late grandfather stayed as a boy.

He initially discovers that the orphanage is a ruin, bombed during WWII, but is whisked away to a day in September 1943, when the orphanage still stands, run by headmistress Miss Peregrine who uses her magic to replay the day on an endless loop. 

The children within the orphanage all have their own special gifts and are referred to as peculiars. Jake discovers that they himself has a unique gift; as monsters are visible only to him and aim to destroy Miss Peregrine's home.

Despite being visually creative and having some good special effects, costumes and production design, the narrative of this movie doesn't flow as neatly as you'd like it to, and probably runs the risk of boring young children who wouldn't understand the time-loop portion of the plot. 

Worth a watch for fans of fantasy films or Tim Burton, but it's not amongst his best works.



D: John Madden

EuropaCorp/Filmnation/Archery/Canal+/Cine+/France 2 Cinema (Ariel Zeitoun, Ben Browning & Kris Thykier)

US/France 2016

132 mins


W: Jonathan Pera

DP: Sebastian Blenkov

Ed: Alexander Berner

Mus: Max Richter

Jessica Chastain (Elizabeth Sloane), Mark Strong (Rodolfo Schmidt), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Esme Manucharian), Alison Pill (Jane Molloy), Michael Stuhlbarg (Pat Connors), Sam Waterston (George Dupont), John Lithgow (US Senator Ron Sperling)

Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) takes on US congress in this incredibly America-centric political drama.

As a high-stakes power broker for a top firm, Miss Sloane turns face after being approached by a firearms company to work her magic and make weapons more appealing for women. This culminates in the businesswoman fighting congress and the right to bear arms, an argument which means much more on the other side of the Atlantic than it does in the UK.

A good performance from Chastain does carry the film, but the story itself is likely to be divisive between those who are about the issue religiously, and those who really couldn't care less. Unfortunately, I belong in the latter camp.


D: Costa-Gavras
Universal/Polygram/Guber-Peters (Edward Lewis & Mildred Lewis)
US 1982
122 mins


W: Costa-Gavras & Donald Stewart [based on the book by Thomas Hauser]
DP: Ricardo Aronovich
Ed: Françoise Bonnot
Mus: Vangelis

Jack Lemmon (Ed Horman), Sissy Spacek (Beth Horman), Melanie Mayron (Terry Simon), John Shea (Charles Horman), Charles Cioffi (Capt. Ray Tower)

A near excellent political thriller set in unnamed South American country amid civil unrest.  During a curfew under martial law, a young journalist goes missing and his wife and father unite to discover his whereabouts and discover truths about America's involvement into the military coup.

The performances from Jack Lemmon & Sissy Spacek make this a gripping watch and the taut direction and screenplay by Constantin Costa-Gavras cannot be faulted.

Based on a true story.