D: John Musker & Ron Clements

Disney (Osnat Shurer)

US 2016

107 mins


W: Jared Bush

Mus: Mark Mancina; Lin-Manuel Miranda

Voices of: Auli'i Cravalho (Moana), Dwayne Johnson (Maui), Rachel House (Tala), Temeura Morrison (Tui), Jermaine Clement (Tamatoa), Nicole Scherzinger (Sina), Alan Tudyk (Heihei)

Moana is a collection of Polynesian folk stories given the Disney treatment, and was very well received by audiences, as well as critics who praised not only its representation of Polynesian people, but also utilising a well-sourced cast.

The plot is basically Aladdin with a female lead, but it does manage to stay fresh and original, helped with songs penned by Lin-Manuel Miranda whose Broadway musical Hamilton was hugely popular at the time of Moana's release.

Moana is a Polynesian princess who is chosen by the ocean to return a precious pearl to the goddess it belongs to, but first she needs the help of a shapeshifting Demigod named Maui to show her the way. 

It really is your standard Disney adventure, dressed up as something more to please a social media crowd who felt there haven't been enough movies like this in the past where female characters from ethnic backgrounds are given the spotlight (although 1998's Mulan is one which immediately comes to mind).

Nevertheless, Moana is a very good animated film which will certainly appeal to a wide family audience.



D: Aaron Sorkin

STX Films/Huayi Brothers (Mark Gordon, Amy Pascal & Matt Jackson)

US 2017

140 mins


W: Aaron Sorkin [based on the book "Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite To Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High Stakes Adventure In The World Of Underground Poker" by Molly Bloom]

DP: Charlotte Bruus Christensen

Ed: Alan Baumgarten, Elliot Graham & Josh Schaeffer

Mus: Daniel Pemberton

Jessica Chastain (Molly Bloom), Idris Elba (Charlie Jaffey), Kevin Costner (Larry Bloom), Michael Cera (Player X), Brian D'Arcy James (Brad), Chris O'Dowd (Douglas Downey), Bill Camp (Harlan Eustace), Samantha Isler (Teenage Molly)

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has a track record of writing intelligent and interesting screenplays based on unsympathetic characters, his past credits including Steve Jobs, Charlie Wilson's War and The Social Network (for which he won an Oscar). For Molly's Game, Sorkin stepped up behind the camera to take up the directorial lens and it's a very impressive debut.

The subject of focus this time around is Molly Bloom, a former Olympic-class skier who becomes involved in underground poker tournaments for the rich and famous, which she ran for several years until she became indebted to the Russian mafia and was subsequently arrested as part of an FBI RICO case.

The film does a good job blending backstory with the court case, as Molly's story unfolds as the film progresses.

This is a role Jessica Chastain was meant for and she really sinks her teeth into it. On one hand, it's quite difficult to feel sympathy for a woman who played with fire and got burned, but subsequently Molly is portrayed as a woman of strong principles, even with the odds stacked against her.

Idris Elba also delivers a fine performance as Molly's lawyer, initially hesitant to take her case due to his clean cut image. Kevin Costner also provides fine support as Molly's father, and though the scenes which feature him do turn a little too melodramatic, they provide a clever insight into understanding Molly's career choices.

Aaron Sorkin proves his directorial mettle is just as good as his penmanship. Let's look forward to more of the same with his next project.


MOM & DAD (18)

D: Brian Taylor

Momentum/Armory/XYZ/Fyzz (Christopher Lemole & Tim Zajaros)

US/UK 2017 (released 2018)

83 mins 


W: Brian Taylor

DP: Daniel Pearl

Ed: Rose Corr & Fernando Villena

Mus: Mr. Bill

Nicolas Cage (Brent Ryan), Selma Blair (Kendall Ryan), Anne Winters (Carly Ryan), Zackary Arthur (Josh Ryan), Robert T. Cunningham (Damon), Lance Henriksen (Mel Ryan)

Mom & Dad is a horror black comedy which spent a few months on the festival circuit before getting a widespread release in early 2018.

The plot sends up the zombie sub-genre, becoming increasingly zany as the story progresses.

Focusing on the Ryan family as an unexplained phenomenon causes parents to attack their own children, teenage daughter Carly and her younger brother Josh escape the murderous intentions of their mom & dad as their methods to kill become increasingly twisted and surreal.

For me, this film was a little too offbeat and utterly ridiculous, despite giving a perfect opportunity for a Nicolas Cage freakout (who doesn't enjoy those?). The comedy element also fluctuated a little too much between outlandishly bizarre and unpleasantly tasteless, which would have been fine if it decided from the outset what type of laughs it wanted to go for.  There's also no excuse for such a lazily-written ending. It did provide one or two laughs, but there was also an awful lot of eye-rolling.



D: Frank Perry

Paramount (Frank Yablans)

US 1981

129 mins


W: Frank Yablans, Frank Perry & Robert Getchell [based on the memoir by Christina Crawford]

DP: Paul Lehman

Ed: Peter E. Berger

Mus: Henry Mancini

Faye Dunaway (Joan Crawford), Diana Scarwid (Christina Crawford - adult), Mara Hobel (Christina Crawford - child), Steve Forrest (Gregg Savitt), Rutanya Alda (Carol Ann), Howard da Silva (Louis B. Mayer)

Voted the worst film of the whole 1980's by Razzie voters, it can't be said that this movie is 'so bad, it's good', but it has become a cult hit as an unintentional comedy, which is quite understandable as Mommie Dearest is quite frankly, hilarious.

Based on a memoir by Joan Crawford's adopted daughter, Christina, this biographical film shows a warts-and-all relationship between her and the neurotic movie star from the late 1930's up until Joan's death in the 1970's.

The story really isn't flattering to Joan Crawford, portraying her as a perfectionist with outbursts of histrionics and poor treatment of her adopted children, and it certainly isn't helped by Faye Dunaway's wildly shrieking overacting.

Like The Room and Troll 2, it's a film which isn't fairly reflected by a rating out of 10. Yes, it's terrible, and as a serious biographical drama it was intended to be, it's difficult to give it more than zero, but for a trashy soap opera, it really does make hilarious viewing.


D: Gérard Lauzier
Gala/Film Par Film/DD/Canal (Jean-Louis Livi)
France 1991
104 mins
W: Gérard Lauzier
DP: Patrick Blossier
Ed: Georges Klotz
Mus: François Bernheim
Gerard Depardieu (Andre Arnel), Marie Gillain (Veronique Arnel), Patrick Mille (Benjamin), Catherine Jacob (Christelle), Charlotte de Turckheim (Irena), Jean-François Rangasamy (Pablo)
Tepid French farce in which a teenage girl, on a summer holiday with her father and vying for the attentions of a boy she fancies, spins a web of lies that her father is a secret agent and she is his lover.
It has moments of amusement, but it's all in quite poor taste. An American remake, also starring Gerard Depardieu in the lead, was marginally better, although neither film is really worth writing home about.

D: Neil Jordan
Palace (Stephen Woolley & Patrick Cassavetti)
UK 1986
104 mins


W: Neil Jordan & David Leland
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Lesley Walker
Mus: Michael Kamen

Bob Hoskins (George), Cathy Tyson (Simone), Michael Caine (Mortwell), Clarke Peters (Anderson), Kate Hardie (Cathy), Robbie Coltrane (Thomas), Sammi Davis (May)

Mona Lisa could easily be described as a British version of Taxi Driver (qv), there are a few similarities between the two films, but not enough to accuse Neil Jordan's film of plagiarism.
Bob Hoskins plays George, an ex-convict released from prison after taking the fall for his gangster boss. Snubbed by his ex-wife and daughter, he goes to collect his earnings but is instead given a job as a chauffeur to high-class call girl, Simone (Cathy Tyson).
The relationship between the two is initially one of dislike, mostly due to George's bigotry, but soon develops into one of trust, and Simone asks him if he can locate the whereabouts of her friend, a fifteen-year-old girl who was forced into a life of prostitution by the same pimp.
The film shows a seedy side of 1980's London, but is softened by Bob Hoskins' excellent, brooding performance. Cathy Tyson is also brilliant, with a role that captures the exotic mystery of the Nat King Cole song "Mona Lisa", which plays frequently throughout the film.

"Not Every Conspiracy Is A Theory."
"Not Every Conspiracy Is A Theory."


D: Jodie Foster

Tristar/Smoke House/IM Global/The Allegiance Theater (Lara Alameddine, George Clooney, Daniel Dubiecki & Grant Heslov)

US 2016

99 mins


W: Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf & Jamie Linden

DP: Matthew Libatique

Ed: Matt Chesse

Mus: Dominic Lewis

George Clooney (Lee Gates), Julia Roberts (Patty Fenn), Jack O'Connell (Kyle Budwell), Dominic West (Walt Camby), Catriona Balfe (Diane Lester), Giancarlo Esposito (Capt. Marcus Powell)

A good idea isn't quite executed to its full potential in this real-time thriller set in the world of finance.

George Clooney does his usual Cary Grant act as Lee Gates, the host of daily financial television show Money Monster, where he advises his audience on matters of commerce and stock trading. The episode is interrupted by gunman, Kyle Budwell, who holds the host hostage over financial advice which left him bankrupt and desperate for answers.

The theme is similar to 2002's Phone Booth, and while it does have some originality, the characters are all very one-note and director Jodie Foster makes some very strange direction choices (such as breaking the 180-degree rule in some scenes) and the film does leave one or two loose ends.

Personally, my overruling thought was that it made an incredibly boring television show far more interesting. Perhaps the principal idea could have been utilised in a better way, especially with the dawn of so many Reality TV programmes taking over stations.


"For everyone who's ever been deeply in love or deeply in debt."
"For everyone who's ever been deeply in love or deeply in debt."
D: Richard Benjamin
Universal (Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy & Art Levinson)
US 1986
91 mins


W: David Giler [based on the screenplay "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" by Norman Panama & Melvin Frank]
DP: Gordon Willis
Ed: Jacqueline Cambas
Mus: Michel Colombier
PD: Patrizia Von Brandenstein

Tom Hanks (Walter Fielding), Shelley Long (Anna Crowley), Alexander Godunov (Max Beissart), Maureen Stapleton (Estelle), Joe Mantegna (Art Shirk), Philip Bosco (Curly), Josh Mostel (Jack Schnittman)

Tom Hanks & Shelley Long buy into the great American dream when they buy their first house, a small mansion at a bargain price.
Things fall apart however, including their relationship, soon after moving in and they bust the bank putting the property back into shape.
This remake of 1948 screwball comedy, Mr. Blanding's Builds His Dream House, gives Tom Hanks a great platform to showcase his comedy talents, but Shelley Long isn't really given too much to do.
Nevertheless, The Money Pit is one of the better and most enjoyable Hollywood remakes from the 1980's.
"Get on the fast track."
"Get on the fast track."
D: Joseph Ruben
Columbia (Jon Peters & Neil Canton)
US 1995
110 mins
W: Doug Richardson & David Loughery
DP: John Lindley
Ed: George Bowers & Bill Pankow
Mus: Mark Mancina
Wesley Snipes (John Powell), Woody Harrelson (Charlie Kaylor), Jennifer Lopez (Grace Santiago), Robert Blake (Donald Patterson), Chris Cooper (Torch), Joe Grifasi (Riley)
Reuniting Wesley Snipes & Woody Harrelson three years after White Men Can't Jump (qv), this silly action film features the two actors as a pair of disgraced policemen who decide to rob, well, a train carrying money.
What could have been a modern twist on train robbery films of the western genre is given the standard action movie formula and isn't particularly special or memorable.         

D: Bennett Miller
Columbia (Brad Pitt, Michael de Luca & Rachel Horovitz)
US 2011
133 mins


W: Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin [based on the book "Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis]
DP: Wally Pfister
Ed: Christopher Tellefsen
Mus: Mychael Danna

Brad Pitt (Billy Beane), Jonah Hill (Peter Brand), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Art Howe), Chris Pratt (Scott Hatteberg), Robin Wright (Sharon), Kerris Dorsey (Casey)

I have very little interest in baseball as a sport, but baseball movies are a completely different animal. The secret of any good sports movie is that you don't need to have an interest in that particular sport to embrace the movie.
Moneyball is all about the business angle of the sport, as Brad Pitt & Jonah Hill attempt to build a championship winning side on a limited budget for the Oakland A's based on statistical analysis. Aaron Sorkin & Steve Zaillian write a screenplay with peppy dialogue and realistic characters which make this almost into a Jerry Maguire (qv) minus the love story. The only drawback is that it does tend to champion sport as a business rather than the sport itself, but perhaps this is an indictment of modern day sports entertainment in itself.
Personally, I think this is right up there with Brad Pitt's finest ever performances, but the real revelation is Jonah Hill, providing that he has more strings to his bow than teen-targeted stoner comedies.

D: Patty Jenkins
Metrodome (Mark Damon, Clark Peterson, Donald Kushner, Brad Wyman & Charlize Theron)
US/Germany 2003
109 mins


W: Patty Jenkins
DP: Steven Bernstein
Ed: Jane Kurson & Arthur Coburn
Mus: BT

Charlize Theron (Aileen Wuornos), Christina Ricci (Selby Wall), Bruce Dern (Thomas), Scott Wilson (Horton), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Gene), Lee Tergesen (Vincent)

Not a slash & gore horror that the title may suggest, but the real-life story of Aileen Wuornos, a lesbian prostitute who became a serial killer of her clients.
The film doesn't really tell us anything about the woman which a documentary might tell us, but is worth watching for Charlize Theron's strong performance (although you may not believe it was her, caked beneath unrecognisable makeup).

"An astronaut went up in the capsule... But what came down?"
"An astronaut went up in the capsule... But what came down?"


D: Bill Rebane (& Herschel Gordon Lewis)
Something Weird/BI&L (Bill Rebane, Henry Marsh & Sheldon S. Seymour (Hershel Gordon Lewis))
US 1965
70 mins
Science Fiction/Horror
W: Sheldon S. Seymour (& Herschel Gordon Lewis)
DP: Frank Pfeiffer
Henry Hite (Frank Douglas / The Monster), June Travis (Ruth), Phil Morton (Col. Steve Connors), Peter S. Thompson (Dr. Chris Manning)
Notoriously bad B-movie which frequently appears on the lists of the worst movies ever made.
To go over the plot would be pointless, the film doesn't really have one. It was formed by using an incomplete horror movie and wrapping a (new) story around it, where an astronaut returns to Earth as something less than human. Unfortunately, the director of the new material was unsuccessful in reassembling the cast from the already filmed material, resulting in pointless plotting not helped by the nonsensical ramblings of a narrator.
Not worth a second of anybody's time.
"Stories are wild creatures."
"Stories are wild creatures."


D: J.A. Bayona 

Focus Features/River Road/Participant Media (Belén Atienza, Mitch Horwits & Jonathan King)

US/Spain 2016

108 mins


W: Patrick Ness [based on his novel]

DP: Oscar Faura

Ed: Bernat Vilaplana

Mus: Fernando Velazquez 

Lewis MacDougall (Conor O'Malley), Felicity Jones (Elizabeth Clayton), Sigourney Weaver (Grandma Clayton), Toby Kebbell (Mr. O'Malley), Liam Neeson (voice of The Monster)

A Monster Calls is an incredibly sweet fantasy drama which probably falls between two stools of being a little too unsuitable for young children and being the product of a marketing campaign that won't appeal to adults.

The fantasy element in this story draws similarities with Pan's Labyrinth, in which they take place in a child's imagination.

The child of this film is Conor O'Malley, a bullied schoolboy whose mother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and they are living in his grandmother's house who Conor views as a stern, unlikeable woman. Shortly after midnight, Conor is visited by a tree monster who says he will share three stories with him and in return wants to hear the secrets of Conor's worst nightmare.

The stories which the monster tells are shown with brilliant animation, and offer a moral which help Conor deal with the domestic and social issues that he struggles with and help him better come to terms with the impending loss of his mother.

Though the film may have been poorly marketed, it still offers a lot to enjoy: a good script, striking visuals, great performances (especially from Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones) and a strong coming-of-age message. The film yielded a modest box office return but has gone on to amass a small cult following. Personally, I recommend it heavily.


D: Claudio Fragasso
Continental Motion Pictures Group (Clark Tyrrel)
Spain 1984
84 mins
W: Claudio Fragasso
DP: Jose Garcia Galisteo
Ed: Antonio Jose Ochoa
Alice Cooper (Vincent Raven), Victoria Vera (Sandra), Carlos Santurio (Frank)             

The title says it all really. It's a low budget spin on werewolf movies with Alice Cooper in the lead role. It isn't very good, but it isn't really trying to be. It doesn't quite fit into the 'so bad, it's good' genre of films either.

Cooper plays a rock star (so he's basically playing himself) who travels with his friends to his rural hometown to shoot a music video. Their visit coincides with devil dog attacks on the small town populace and it is discovered that Cooper's family have a hereditary legacy of a 'lycanthrope curse'.

There have been better episodes of the cartoon series Scooby Doo (which probably had better acting in too).

The enjoyment factor depends heavily on whether or not you like Alice Cooper.  I do, but his presence isn't quite enough to carry the film. There is however, a great Alice Cooper-penned song which the film starts and ends with and that was enough for me to justify watching this.



D: Gil Kenan 
Columbia/Relativity Media/Amblin (Steve Starkey & Jack Rapke)
US 2006
91 mins


W: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab & Pamela Petter
Mus: Douglas Pipes

voices of: Steve Buscemi (Mr. Nebbercracker), Mitchell Musso (D.J.), Sam Lerner (Chowder), Spencer Locke (Jenny), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Elizabeth), Kevin James (Officer Landers)

Surprisingly, this is an animated film that will be appreciated more by adults than it probably would be by children. 
A trio of young children investigate why the creepy house across the street has its reputation and why its cantankerous owner, Mr. Nebbercracker is so protective of his land. 
What could have been a lazy Scooby Doo ripoff becomes a well-written animated mystery with elements of Rear Window and The Old Dark House embedded into a plot. Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis were key executives on this project, and together they deliver a piece of animation good enough to rival the output of Disney and Pixar.

"You know who to call when you have ghosts. But who do you call when you have monsters?"
"You know who to call when you have ghosts. But who do you call when you have monsters?"
D: Fred Dekker
Tristar/Taft (Keith Barish)
Canada 1987
81 mins
W: Shane Black & Fred Dekker
DP: Bradford May
Ed: James Mitchell
Mus: Bruce Broughton
Andre Gower (Sean Crenshaw), Robby Kiger (Patrick Rhodes), Brent Chalem (Horace), Ryan Lambert (Rudy Halloran), Tom Noonan (Frankenstein's Monster)
Typically tacky, teen-orientated 1980's cheese, throwing in all of the classic monsters of film & literary folklore (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc) with no real purpose or plot.
It's very much a project of its own time, and wouldn't really be appreciated now unless you first watched it and enjoyed it upon its original release and simply fancied a bit of nostalgia.


D: Chris Wedge

Paramount/Nickelodeon/Disruption (Mary Parent & Denis L. Stewart)

US 2016

105 mins 

Science Fiction/Comedy

W: Derek Connolly

DP: Don Burgess

Ed: Conrad Buff 

Mus: Dave Sardy

Lucas Till (Tripp Coley), Jane Levy (Meredith), Amy Ryan (Cindy Coley), Rob Lowe (Reece Tenneson), Danny Glover (Mr. Weathers), Barry Pepper (Rick), Holt McCallany (Burke)

A poor man's Transformers, but considering how poor I rate Michael Bay's sci-fi franchise this isn't a glowing indictment.

Lucas Till plays a high school senior with a side job on the junkyard, where he discovers a creature living in his truck that feeds on gasoline.

What could have been a family friendly adventure with a throwback to similar themed movies of the 1980's soon becomes a sermon about the evils of fracking, but aimed at kids.

Surprisingly, the film was in post-production for nearly 2 years, but that doesn't explain why the visual effects look so shoddy.


D: Marc Forster
Lions Gate (Lee Daniels)
US 2001
111 mins
W: Milo Addica & Will Rokos
DP: Roberto Schaefer
Ed: Matt Chesse
Mus: Asche & Spencer
Billy Bob Thornton (Hank Grotowski), Halle Berry (Leticia Musgrove), Heath Ledger (Sonny Grotowski), Peter Boyle (Buck Grotowski), Sean Combs (Lawrence Musgrove)        
A racially motivated drama of loss and redemption, embedded with many great performances, particularly from its lead actress, Halle Berry as Leticia Musgrove. 
Mourning her husband, whose death sentence had just been carried out, Leticia finds solace and comfort when she begins a passionate relationship with Hank Grotowksi, one of the prison guards who carried out the sentence, himself mourning his own loss when his son takes his own life. 
The acting from Halle Berry & Billy Bob Thornton is excellent, especially from the former who received a Best Actress Oscar for her work. The supporting actors are also very good, particularly Heath Ledger & Peter Boyle as Hank's son & bigoted father, respectively.

"We scare because we care."
"We scare because we care."
D: Pete Docter
Disney/Pixar (Darla K. Anderson)
US 2001
92 mins
W: Andrew Stanton & Daniel Gerson
Mus: Randy Newman
voices of: Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski), John Goodman (James P. "Sulley" Sullivan), Mary Gibbs (Boo), Steve Buscemi (Randall Boggs), James Coburn (Henry J. Waternoose), Jennifer Tilly (Celia Mae)
Yet again Pixar make huge steps in progressing computer animation with this, its fourth feature length film, but the story is weaker than some of the studio's other films. Aimed mostly at young children.
Set in a parallel universe called Monstropolis and solely occupied by monsters, they rely on the screams of human children to power their world. The twist is that the monsters are far more afraid of children than the children are of them, and Monstropolis is thrown into chaos when a little girl is stranded there. 
Enjoyable enough, but it's no Toy Story.

D: Dan Scanlon
Disney/Pixar (Kori Rae)
US 2013
104 mins
W: Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanlon & Robert L. Baird
Mus: Randy Newman
voices of: Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski), John Goodman (James P. "Sulley" Sullivan), Steve Buscemi (Randall Boggs), Helen Mirren (Abigail Hardscrabble)

A doubtlessly enjoyable (especially for under-10's) but rather pointless prequel to Pixar's very successful 2001 smash Monsters, Inc.

The story of this is pretty much what it says on the tin, monster pals Sulley & Mike meet at university and put their initial rivalry aside to participate in a teamwork ethic which sees the winners initiated into the university's top 'scare program'.

Not that kiddies would mind, but there seemed to be mixed messages in this film. For the most part it seemed as thought the moral of the story was that teamwork is greater than individual achievement and if you work and study hard enough, you'll achieve your goals. Then the film pulls a sucker punch with a 'cheats never prosper' message and the only way you get to where you're going is to start on the bottom rung.

Perhaps we shouldn't read too much into the morals of the story because it is, after all, a children's movie. Nevertheless, the whole film seemed rather pointless due to the fact that the whole 'scream collecting' from sleeping children was debunked in the first movie.

Great animation from Pixar once again, but it simply doesn't scale the heights of their finest and best works.

"Makes Ben-Hur look like an epic!"
"Makes Ben-Hur look like an epic!"
D: Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones
Python/EMI (Mark Forstater)
UK 1975
90 mins
W: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle & Michael Palin
DP: Terry Bedford
Ed: John Hackney
Mus: Neil Innes
Graham Chapman (King Arthur / various other characters), John Cleese (Sir Lancelot / various), Terry Gilliam (Patsy / various), Eric Idle (Sir Robin / various), Michael Palin (Sir Galahad / various), Terry Jones (Sir Bedevere)
The hellzapoppin-like Monty Python comedy troupe are certainly not everybody's cup of tea, you'll either find them ridiculous or hilarious, but if you fall into the latter group, the British comedy cadre's take on the medieval legend of King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail will most likely be the funniest film you will ever see.
There's lots to laugh at and every fan will have their favourite moments, whether it be the duel with The Black Knight, the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, or the Knights Who Say 'Ni'. The film inspired a stage musical, Spamalot, which is every bit as good as the motion picture.
D: Terry Jones
Hand Made Films (John Goldstone)
UK 1979
93 mins


W: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle & Michael Palin
DP: Peter Biziou
Ed: Julian Doyle
Mus: Geoffrey Burgon

Graham Chapman (Brian / various others), John Cleese (various), Terry Gilliam (various), Eric Idle (various), Michael Palin (various), Terry Jones (The Virgin Mandy / various)

Monty Python take on the tale of Christ, featuring a man named Brian as an contemporary alternative for the religious figure. 
As with everything Monty Python, you really have to be a fan of the comedy troupe to fully appreciate it, otherwise you'll just find it ridiculously silly and rather pointless.
The team found themselves in hot water with religious factions at the time of release, who deemed the film blasphemous. Still, it made them all incredibly wealthy with a huge amount of success from a vast cult following.

D: Terry Jones
Universal/Celandine (John Goldstone)
UK 1983
90 mins
W: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle & Michael Palin
DP: Peter Hannan
Ed: Julian Doyle
Mus: Eric Idle & John du Prez
Graham Chapman (various characters), John Cleese (various), Terry Gilliam (various), Eric Idle (various), Michael Palin (various), Terry Jones (various), Carol Cleveland (various)
Unlike Monty Python's take on The Holy Grail and the Life of 'Brian', this film lacks a traditional narrative in favour of a series of sketches covering the topics of life, death, sex, contraception and gluttony.
The sketches are of varying quality, but none are funnier than the comedy groups previous works or, indeed, the sketches from their first vignette, And Now For Something Completely Different (qv).
There are occasional moments of amusement, but this is very hit-and-miss. A rare off day from a group of talented comedians.

D: George Clooney
Columbia/Fox 2000/Smokehouse (George Clooney & Grant Heslov)
US/Germany 2014
118 mins


W: George Clooney & Grant Heslov
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Stephen Mirrione
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
PD: Jim Bissell

George Clooney (Lt. Frank Stokes), Matt Damon (Lt. James Granger), Bill Murray (Sgt. Richard Campbell), John Goodman (Sgt. Walter Garfield), Jean Dujardin (2nd Lt. Jean-Claude Clermont), Bob Balaban (Pvt. Preston Savitz), Hugh Bonneville (2nd Lt. Donald Jeffries), Cate Blanchett (Claire Simone)

Based on a true story, The Monuments Men is about the efforts of a small Allied platoon during WWII whose operation was to locate and preserve famous works of art, sculptures and other precious artefacts, including Michelangelo's Mother & Child, most of which were hoarded or destroyed by Nazi forces.
George Clooney, who also directed the film, plays the captain who heads the mission, joined by Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Jean Dujardin. Cate Blanchett also makes an appearance as a French art expert who may know the whereabouts of many of the missing pieces.
The film quite plays out like Ocean's Eleven behind enemy lines, with the actors pretty much playing their usual type and a screenplay geared towards being quirky with its dialogue. 
Unfortunately, the pacing of the first act is so suicidally slow that it has a huge impact on the second half of the film, while the quirky dialogue delivery to the subject doesn't have the same impact had the film taken a more dramatic approach. The production itself is very well done, with some good attention to 1940's Europe, and all the technical aspects of the film are generally good and it's all very well polished, although for a war film, it's very short on action, thrills and tension.
Originally slated for a December 2013 release to coincide with the awards season, however this was pegged back to finish off post-production work and didn't make it's premiere until February 2014. Ineligible for the 2014 Academy Awards, it didn't make many waves at next years ceremony either (although a nod for Production Design may have been acceptable).
Considering the buzz prior to the film's release, the finished product was incredibly disappointing and not particularly engaging. Considering the talent involved, this film really ought to have been better.

"250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face is yourself."
"250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face is yourself."
MOON (15)
D: Duncan Jones
Sony Pictures/Stage 6/Liberty (Stuart Fenegan & Trudie Styler)
US 2009
93 mins

Science Fiction

W: Nathan Parker & Duncan Jones
DP: Gary Shaw
Ed: Nicolas Gaster
Mus: Clint Mansell
PD: Tony Noble

Sam Rockwell (Sam Bell), Dominique McElligott (Tess Bell), Kaya Scodelario (Eve Bell), Benedict Wong (Thompson), Kevin Spacey (voice of GERTY)

A man working alone on a lunar surface mining station makes a shocking discovery about himself.

A surprisingly good science fiction movie. From the cover I was expecting a hybrid of Solaris & 2001: A Space Odyssey. While having a few references to the forementioned movies, it still manages to be original and entertaining. Despite only having one main character it manages to be gripping throughout, all the credit has to go to Sam Rockwell, possibly the best actor who has never been nominated for an Academy Award. He's done a great job in all the movies he's starred in, surely his time will come soon.

D: Otto Preminger
United Artists (Otto Preminger)
US 1953
99 mins
W: F. Hugh Herbert [based on his play]
DP: Ernest Laszlo
Ed: Otto Ludwig
Mus: Herschel Burke Gilbert
Maggie McNamara (Patty O'Neill), David Niven (David Slater), William Holden (Donald Gresham), Tom Tully (Michael O'Neill)
A young girl is torn between the attractions of a middle aged lover and a younger one.
For the more conservative 1950's, this film was quite the scandal, particularly for the usages of words such as "virgin" so frivolously. 
By today's standards it's got about as much spice as a glass of milk, but it's a cute performance from Maggie McNamara in the lead.
D: James Neilson
Disney (Bill Anderson)
UK 1964
119 mins


W: Michael Dyne [based on the novel by Mary Stewart]
DP: Paul Beeson
Ed: Gordon Stone
Mus: Ron Grainer

Hayley Mills (Nicky Ferris), Peter McEnery (Mark Camford), Eli Wallach (Stratos), Joan Greenwood (Frances Ferris)

A typical Disney vehicle for Hayley Mills, starring as a young girl on holiday on the Greek Island of Crete who inadvertently gets involved with a group of jewel thieves.
It's your usual sweet-as-pie performance from the juvenile star, the title song though, penned by Terry Gilkyyson, is as annoying as they come, and may have you reaching for the off button.

"This is the story of a lifetime"
"This is the story of a lifetime"


D: Barry Jenkins

A24/Plan B/Pastel (Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner & Jeremy Kleiner)

US 2016

111 mins


W: Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney [based on the unpublished play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by Tarell Alvin McCraney]

DP: James Laxton

Ed: Nat Sanders & Joi McMillon

Mus: Nicholas Britell

Trevante Rhodes (Adult Chiron / "Black"), Ashton Sanders (Teenage Chiron), Alex Hibbert (Child Chiron / "Little"), Andre Holland (Adult Kevin), Jharell Jerome (Teen Kevin), Jaden Piner (Child Kevin), Naomie Harris (Paula), Mahershala Ali (Juan), Janelle Monae (Teresa)

This review needs to start with the Oscars gaffe being addressed, when the presenters read out the wrong name and the producers of La La Land were named Best Picture, only for the mistake to be corrected during the acceptance speeches and Moonlight to be named as the actual winner.

So, which film is better? La La Land or Moonlight. It's a subjective question, and both films are completely different. The former being a modern twist on musical romance and the latter being a gritty urban drama about sexual and personal identity.

Moonlight is broken into a three act structure, with each act focusing on an age in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami, the victim of bullies during his childhood and domestic abuse from his junkie mother.

As a young boy, he spends his days hiding away from those who hurt him and is eventually taken under the wing of a local drug dealer, Juan, who, along with his girlfriend, become a parental figures to the young boy.

The second act shows Chiron as a teenager, where he is still the victim of bullying at school and his sexual identity begins to take shape when he has his first homosexual encounter with a childhood friend. This segment ends with Chiron finally snapping under the pressure and getting his own justice through violence.

The final act follows Chiron as an adult, now a tough drug dealer living in Atlanta and going by the street name "Black", making peace with the ghosts of his past, he becomes reacquainted with his mother, now in rehab, as well as the childhood friend with whom he had his first sexual encounter, which is where the film comes to a rather abrupt and cryptic ending which will leave many audience members thinking "is that it?".

While the end is an acquired taste, there's plenty of symbolism for the ambiguity to be understood, especially with the blue moonlight (a metaphor for homosexuality) and water (a metaphor for change) which run throughout the running time, and though Barry Jenkins does take an artful approach to the subject, he gets the very best out of his cast, especially the trio of actors who play Chiron at different stages of his life, as well as Mahershala Ali, who won a Best Supporting Oscar for his role, and Naomie Harris, who was nominated.

The question still stands: Should La La Land have won Best Picture at the Oscars? Personally, I think it was the better film as a whole, but Moonlight had the better story, as well as being the film that Hollywood were clamouring for the Oscars to have more diversity. It's still all a matter of personal taste. 


D: Lewis Gilbert
United Artists/Eon (Albert R. Broccoli)
UK 1979
126 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Christopher Wood [based on the novel by Ian Fleming]
DP: Jean Tournier
Ed: John Glen
Mus: John Barry
PD: Ken Adam 

Roger Moore (James Bond), Lois Chiles (Holly Goodhead), Michael Lonsdale (Hugo Drax), Richard Kiel (Jaws)

One of the silliest James Bond films, with the British agent investigating the disappearance of a space shuttle during a test flight in Venice, Rio, the Amazon & finally on the lunar surface.
With Roger Moore starring as the main character, it's all geared towards comedy and cheesy one-liners. There are just about enough action scenes to whet the appetite, but giant henchman Jaws is written out of the plot in a ridiculously pathetic way.
The plot also has very little to do with Ian Fleming's original novel, so this is an adaptation in name only.         
Entertaining enough for an action-adventure, but equally tacky. Some of the visual effects are good, but it's certainly amongst the weaker Bond movies.

D: Wes Anderson 
Focus Features/Empirical American/Indian Paintbrush (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales & Jeremy Dawson)
US 2012
94 mins
W: Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
DP: Robert Yeoman
Ed: Andrew Weisblum
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
Jared Gilman (Sam), Kara Hayward (Suzy), Frances McDormand (Mrs. Bishop), Bill Murray (Mr. Bishop), Edward Norton (Scout Master Ward), Bruce Willis (Captain Sharp)

Wes Anderson's style is not too dissimilar to the Coen Brothers. The humour is quirky and subtle and special attention is paid to idiosyncratic characters and comic timing of the performances. I really enjoyed this movie, but I wouldn't expect it to be everyone's cup of tea. It's a bittersweet tale about the changing face of the 60's & the loss of innocence.  

Set on a remote New England island, it tells the story of two young teenagers who run away together, causing the community to give chase.

The two juvenile performances are excellent, the supporting characters offer light comedy, boosted by a refreshingly original script.


D: Norman Jewison
MGM (Patrick Palmer & Norman Jewison)
US 1987
102 mins
W: John Patrick Shanley
DP: David Watkin
Ed: Lou Lombardo
Mus: Dick Hyman
Cher (Loretta Castorini), Nicolas Cage (Ronny Cammareri), Vincent Gardenia (Cosmo Castorini), Olympia Dukakis (Rose Castorini), Danny Aiello (Johnny Cammareri)
Cher stars as Loretta Castorini, an Italian-American accountant from Brooklyn, who finds herself falling in love with the brother of her betrothed in this contemporary romantic comedy. 
A huge hit at the time of its release, it's become a rather forgotten film since, despite winning Oscars for both Cher & Olympia Dukakis, as well as for the original screenplay by John Patrick Shanley.

D: Colin Chilvers & Jerry Kramer
Warner Bros./Ultimate (Dennis Jones & Jerry Kramer)
US 1988
93 mins
W: David Newman
DP: Thomas Ackerman, Robert E. Collins, Frederick Elmes, John Hora & Crescenzo Notarile
Ed: Dale Beldin, David E. Blewitt & Mitchell Sinoway
Mus: Bruce Broughton; Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson (himself), Joe Pesci (Frankie "Mr. Big" LiDeo), Sean Lennon (Sean), Kellie Parker (Katie)
A novelty piece in which Michael Jackson uses the power of his music to defeat the mob. Cashing in on the huge success of the biggest pop star of the 1980's saw it receive a huge following from the wealth of fans that the King of Pop possessed.
There's some pretty good special effects in the opening montage and the soundtrack of Michael Jackson songs is amongst his best works. The enjoyment factor is wholly reliant on whether or not you're a fan of the singer, and even so, it's nothing amazing.
"Nothing in this world will prepare you for this."
"Nothing in this world will prepare you for this."
D: Paul W. S. Anderson
New Line/Threshold (Lawrence Kasanoff)
US 1995
101 mins
W: Kevin Droney [based on characters from the video game]
DP: John R. Leonetti
Ed: Martin Hunter
Mus: George S. Clinton
Christopher Lambert (Raiden), Robin Shou (Liu Kang), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Shang Tsung), Linden Ashby (Johnny Cage), Bridgette Wilson (Sonya Blade), Talisa Soto (Princess Kitana), Chris Casamassa (Scorpion)
For those not in the know, Mortal Kombat was a highly successful and popular video arcade game during the 1990's which became a staple on the consoles of teenage boys worldwide.
The film, like most video game-movie transitions, will not appeal to anyone who hasn't played the game. It's brimful with references and doesn't have much story aside from a plot which could be written on the back of a postage stamp; a group of characters are assembled to participate in a winner-takes-all fighting tournament.
Even fans of the game will be disappointed with this in all fairness. The lack of a decent story doesn't help, but coupled with the fact that the fight scenes are poorly choreographed and the visual effects are terrible, there isn't a lot to cheer about. 
A preference over watching this would be to get the old Super Nintendo out of the attic and play away for a couple of hours trying to remember the control combinations to unleash the special moves.
D: John R. Leonetti
New Line/Threshold (Lawrence Kasanoff)
US 1997
94 mins
W: Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel [based on the video game]
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Peck Prior
Mus: George S. Clinton
Robin Shou (Liu Kang), Talisa Soto (Kitana), James Remar (Raiden), Sandra Hess (Sonya Blade), Lynn Red Williams (Jax), Brian Thompson (Shao Kahn)
A sequel which is no better or worse than the original film (which wasn't that great itself) in terms of plot, but with a noticeably smaller budget, it makes for rather shoddy entertainment.
The plot is virtually a retread of the original film, with a couple of new characters introduced. The performances are atrocious, but it's doubtful that the target demographic would care too much about that. Unfortunately, the fight choreography isn't too great either.
D: David Koepp
Lionsgate/Infinitum Nihil/Mad Chance/Oddlot (Andrew Lazar, Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, Gigi Pritzker & Patrick McCormick)
US 2015
106 mins


W: Eric Aronson [based on the novel "Don't Put That Thing At Me" by Kyril Bonfiglioli]
DP: Florian Hoffmeister
Ed: Jill Savitt & Derek Ambrosi
Mus: Geoff Zanelli & Mark Ronson

Johnny Depp (Charlie Mortdecai), Gwyneth Paltrow (Johanna Mortdecai), Ewan McGregor (Inspector Alistair Martland), Olivia Munn (Georgina Krampf), Paul Bettany (Jock Strapp), Jeff Goldblum (Milton Krampf)

Johnny Depp plays Charles Mortdecai, a debonair art dealer with a Terry Thomas accent and moustache, who jetsets around the world to recover a stolen painting which is rumoured to contain a code that leads to Nazi gold. Throwing off secret agents, Russian mobsters, international terrorists and his jealous wife, all while twiddling his moustache. Did I mention Mortdecai has a moustache? Well, he has a moustache.
Gwyneth Paltrow doesn't have a moustache, but she does speak the Queen's, with an accent which feels like an insult to Britain.
The whole film is a joke about a moustache and very little else because the humour is about fifty years too late.
One of the worst films of 2015.

D: Peter Weir
Warner Bros. (Jerome Hellmann)
US 1986
117 mins


W: Paul Schrader [based on the novel by Paul Thereux]
DP: John Seale
Ed: Thom Noble 
Mus: Maurice Jarre 
PD: John Stoddart

Harrison Ford (Allie Fox), Helen Mirren (Mrs. Fox), River Phoenix (Charlie), Jadrien Steele (Jerry), Hilary Gordon (April)

An eccentric and idealistic inventor relocates his family to a Central American jungle where he endeavours to build an ice machine and help the indigenous people, causing a conflict between himself and his wife & teenage children.
This ecological minded drama, based on Paul Thereux's novel, seems to have lost something in translation from page to screen, but it's strengthened by the large scale production design and a very strong lead performance from Harrison Ford (apparently the actor's personal favourite of his own work).
D: J.C. Chandor
A24/Filmnation/Participant Media (J.C. Chandor, Neal Dodson & Anna Gerb)
US 2014
125 mins


W: J.C. Chandor
DP: Bradford Young
Ed: Ron Patane
Mus: Alex Ebert

Oscar Isaac (Abel Morales), Jessica Chastain (Anna Morales), David Oyelowo (Lawrence), Alessandro Nivola (Peter Forente), Albert Brooks (Andrew Walsh)

The title refers to 1981, statistically the worst year in New York City for violent crimes.
Oscar Isaac plays an immigrant who has built a small business empire in the oil industry, and in the week building up to a big contract negotiation for a plot of land, he finds his interests hit. Trucks are jacked at gunpoint, employees are attacked and even his family seem to be a target in their opulent new home. With an ambitious district attorney breathing down his neck over possible fraud and embezzlement, can the business deal be seen through without resorting to more criminal means?
Plot similarities can be made with the 1983 version of Scarface, with Oscar Isaac doing his best Pacino as a Latino immigrant though his empire has been built on business rather than criminal activity, though the story seems to insinuate that there's a very thin line between them.
There's much build up to an ending that doesn't quite pay off, but it's still an enjoyable watch due to the strength of the acting performances and the good production values.

D: Anton Corbijn
Lionsgate/Demerest/Potboiler/Film4 (Stephen Cornwell, Gail Egan, Malte Grunert, Simon Cornwell, Andrea Calderwood)
UK 2014
122 mins


W: Andrew Bovell [based on the novel by John le Carré]
DP: Benoît Delhomme
Ed: Claire Simpson
Mus: Herbert Grönemeyer

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Günther Bachmann), Rachel McAdams (Annabel Richter), Willem Dafoe (Tommy Brue), Robin Wright (Martha Sullivan), Grigoriy Dobrygin (Issa Karpov), Daniel Brühl (Max), Nina Hoss (Irna Frey), Homayoun Ershadi (Dr. Faisal Abdullah)

Like most John le Carré adaptations, A Most Wanted Man is a heavy-going political thriller with a complex backstory and meandering, long-winded narrative.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his last perfomance before his untimely death, plays a government agent with a history. He targets a Muslim terrorist with links to 9/11 and arranges his own team to bring him to justice, while a rival agency want to be the ones to get their man first.
The complexities of the plot never really solve themselves, and though the film can be commended for its anti-Hollywood ending, the film is merely a shaggy dog story.
Worth watching for Philip Seymour Hoffman's swansong, but it isn't a thriller that will be most wanted by everyone.

MOTHER! (18)

D: Darren Aronofsky

Paramount/Protozoa (Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin & Ari Handel)

US 2017

121 mins


W: Darren Aronofsky

DP: Matthew Libatique

Ed: Andrew Weisblum

Jennifer Lawrence ('Mother'), Javier Bardem ('Him'), Ed Harris ('man'), Michelle Pfeiffer ('woman'), Domnhall Gleeson ('oldest son'), Brian Gleeson ('younger brother')

Mother (stylised as "mother!") is without a doubt the most polarising movie of late 2017, with the audience members either loving it or absolutely loathing it, and very little going somewhere in-between.

Like Darren Aronofsky's other works (Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream), it's in a genre of its own, paying homage to horror imagery and hugely metaphorical, allowing the viewer free licence to decide what the point of it all is. It's understandable why some people would call his style pretentious, but his filmmaking does have its fans.

The story of Mother unfolds like a David Lynch nightmare, set wholly at a idyllic house in the middle of a picturesque meadow, where the virginal and chaste Jennifer Lawrence lives with her poet husband Javier Bardem. Neither of the characters are named, credited only as 'mother' and 'him' respectively. 

Their peaceful existence is interrupted by a couple who mistake the house for a B&B, and are invited to stay by 'him', against the wishes of 'mother'. Before long, more and more unwanted visitors arrive and their behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and unwelcome to the point of brutal violence at the culmination of the story.

The puzzling style of the film leaves much open to interpretation, and the general consensus is that it's a dramatic revisualisation of biblical stories, where even the house is portrayed as a living, breathing entity.

It really won't be a film for all audiences and will only be recommended if you like Aronofsky's previous work or the films of David Lynch. A disservice to the film was done by the distribution company's marketing department, who aimed the film at traditional horror fans rather than the arthouse audience it will have much more appeal to.


D: Walter Salles
Focus Features/Film4 (Michael Nozik, Edgard Tenenbaum & Karen Tenkhoff)
Argentina/Chile/France/UK/US 2004
126 mins
W: José Rivera [based on the book by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara]
DP: Eric Gautier
Ed: Daniel Rezende
Mus: Gustavo Santaolalla
Gael Garcia Bernal (Ernesto Guevara), Rodrigo de la Serna (Alberto Grenado), Mia Maestro (Chichina), Gustavo Bueno (Dr. Hugo Pesce), Jorge Chiarella (Dr. Bresciani)

A biopic of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara before his revolutionist days, based on his own memoirs.

Gael Garcia Bernal delivers a great performance as the famous figure in his younger years, his destiny becoming shaped by the political upheaval in South America as he travels around it with his friend.

A good film, but highly unlikely to be the subject of repeated viewings.

D: Baz Luhrmann
20th Century Fox/Bazmark (Martin Brown, Baz Luhrmann & Fred Baron)
US/Australia 2001
128 mins


W: Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce
DP: Donald M. McAlpine
Ed: Jill Bilcock
Mus: Craig Armstrong
PD: Catherine Martin
Cos: Angus Straithe & Catherine Martin

Nicole Kidman (Satine), Ewan McGregor (Christian), John Leguizamo (Toulouse-Lautrec), Jim Broadbent (Zidler), Richard Roxburgh (Duke of Worcester), Kylie Minogue (The Green Fairy)

A movie I fondly like to refer to as "Marmite Rouge", based on the fact you'll either love it or hate it.  This leaves it rather critic-proof. Those who like pop music or stage musicals will not heed my review, while those who struggled to get through the first five minutes will relish it.

In a nutshell, the story is the same as James Cameron's "Titanic", only set in the Moulin Rouge theatre in Paris as opposed to the fated liner, and all the dialogue is replaced by lyrics from pop songs from Madonna's Like A Virgin to Elton John's Your Song.  The true life protagonist of the Moulin Rouge, Toulouse Loutrec, is given a supporting role of watching Ewan McGregor singing through clenched teeth, Nicole Kidman bandying about like a whore while Kylie Minogue plays the embodiment of an intoxicating beverage.

There's no satire involved, which was most certainly a trick missed. It's practically a 2 hour, 6 minute attention-seeking music video, which personally, I just found quite creepy.

"The squeak shall inherit the Earth."
"The squeak shall inherit the Earth."
D: Gore Verbinski
Dreamworks (Tony Riche, Tony Ludwig & Bruce Cohen)
US 1997
97 mins
W: Adam Rifkin
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Craig Wood
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Nathan Lane (Ernie Smuntz), Lee Evans (Lars Smuntz), Vicki Lewis (April Smuntz), Maury Chaykin (Alexander Falco), Michael Jeter (Quincy Thorpe), Christopher Walken (Caesar), William Hickey (Rudolf Smuntz)
Two brothers attempt to rid a derelict mansion they hope to inherit of a mouse which scurries around it.
This cartoon-like slapstick farce has a dark, gothic undertone to it, making it just as enjoyable for adults as it would be for children. A busy mix of Laurel & Hardy and Tom & Jerry, though I prefer to think of it as a rodent's equivalent of Home Alone.

MOVIE 43 (15)
D: Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, Will Graham, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner & Jonathan van Tulleken
Relativity Media/Virgin (Charles B. Wessler, John Penotti, Peter Farrelly & Ryan Kavanaugh)
US 2013
94 mins


W: Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, Ricky Blitt, Bill O'Malley, Will Graham, Jack Kukoda, Matt Portenoy, Claes Kjellstrom, Jonas Wittenmark, Tobias Carlson, Will Carlough, Jonathan van Tulleken, Elizabeth Shapiro, Patrik Forsberg, Olle Sarri, Jacob Fleisher, Greg Pritikin, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk & Steve Baker

Elizabeth Banks (Amy), Kristen Bell (Supergirl), Halle Berry (Emily), Kate Bosworth (Arlene), Gerard Butler (Leprechaun), Josh Duhamel (Anson), Anna Faris (Julie), Richard Gere (Boss), Terrence Howard (Coach Jackson), Hugh Jackman (Davis), Johnny Knoxville (Pete), Justin Long (Robin), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Mikey), Chloë Moretz (Amanda), Chris Pratt (Doug), Liev Schreiber (Robert Miller), Seann William Scott (Brian), Emma Stone (Veronica), Jason Sudeikis (Batman), Uma Thurman (Lois Lane), Naomi Watts (Samantha Miller), Kate Winslet (Beth)

The most accurate and succinct way of describing Movie 43 would be as a profligate, unfunny mess. 
This Kentucky Fried Movie (qv) inspired sketch show assembles a huge cast of some of Hollywood's biggest names, only to completely embarrass them with such a pathetic and poorly-written script.
There are actually two versions of the film, with the UK version having a wraparound featuring a group of kids searching online for the fabled Movie 43 and instead finding a seemingly endless stream of short films.
The American version features Dennis Quaid as an unscrupulous movie producer responsible for the making of Movie 43 (a rather poor stab at self-referential humour).
The short films are all of the poorest possible taste, featuring stories ranging from a man musing on the best way to take a dump on his girlfriend, superhero speed-dating, a teenage girl who gets her first period and Halle Berry making guacamole with her tits. There was also going to be a story about necrophilia, but producers deemed this a line which shouldn't be crossed.
I could admire the fact that each different story was helmed by a different director, it's something which has been done in the past to varying effect, but here it's just done badly.
13 directors, twice as many writers, but not a single moment which could be classed as slightly amusing. The strangest thing is how the filmmakers amassed such a huge cast to appear in this rubbish. Did the big name stars lose a bet, or did the producers resort to blackmail? Either way, everyone involved in this nonsensical hodgepodge should hang their heads in shame for earning any kind of remuneration.

D: Alfred Hitchcock
RKO (Harry E. Edington)
US 1941
95 mins
W: Norman Krasna
DP: Harry Stradling
Ed: William Hamilton
Mus: Edward Ward
Carole Lombard (Ann Smith), Robert Montgomery (David Smith), Gene Raymond (Jefferson Custer), Jack Carson (Chuck Benson), Philip Merivale (Ashley Custer), Lucile Watson (Mrs. Custer), William Tracy (Sammy)

A married couple discover their marriage wasn't valid and while the husband wants to marry his wife again, she'd rather have nothing to do with him.

A rare foray into the comedy genre for Alfred Hitchcock, this had me expecting a black comedy but this is most definitely a screwball comedy, two completely different sub-genres. Robert Montgomery was decent but Carole Lombard thoroughly annoyed me, but perhaps this is more to do with the characters than the acting. 

Overall, it was okay but the story was very old-fashioned.  I'm pretty sure TV's American Dad did a version of the same story (Mr & Mrs Smith indeed) and it was much funnier (although in much poorer taste).

Not really a 'Hitchcock film', worth watching only for curiosity purposes.

The 2005 film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was a remake in name only.

D: Doug Smith
20th Century Fox/Regency (Arnon Milchan, Akiva Goldsman & Lucas Foster)
US 2005
120 mins


W: Simon Kinberg
DP: Bojan Bozelli
Ed: Michael Tronick
Mus: John Powell

Brad Pitt (John Smith), Angelina Jolie (Jane Smith), Vince Vaughn (Eddie), Kerry Washington (Jasmine), Adam Brody (Benjamin Danz)

Not a remake of the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock screwball comedy, if anything, this is a remake of Prizzi's Honor (qv).
Unsatisfied with their boring marriage, John and Jane Smith have some spice injected into their lives when it emerges that they're both professional assassins and their next target is each other. The rest of the film is spent with them attempting to kill each other.
Brad Pitt goes through the entire film in the same gear, while Angelina Jolie does her usual action-whore act. Considering this film established the pair as a real-life couple, you'd expect more chemistry, but there really isn't any. For an action-comedy it's pretty light on both, as well as originality. The worst part is that it's far too annoyingly smug, especially when it comes to Jolie's pathetic excuse for an acting performance.
Easy-to-watch, dumbed down Hollywood bullshit.

"Disaster is just a small step away."
"Disaster is just a small step away."
D: Steve Bedelack
Universal/Studio Canal/Working Title/Tiger Aspect (Peter Bennett-Jones, Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner)
UK/US/Germany/France 2007
89 mins


W: Hamish McColl & Robin Driscoll [based on the character created by Richard Curtis & Rowan Atkinson]
DP: Baz Irvine
Ed: Tony Cranston
Mus: Howard Goodall

Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), Emma de Caunes (Sabine), Jean Rochefort (Maître d'Hôtel), Karel Roden (Emil Dachevsky), Max Baldry (Stepan Dachevsky), Willem Dafoe (Carson Clay)

A vast improvement on the 1997 film, Bean, which first introduced the calamitous dolt to the big screen, but it's still a far cry from his misadventures in the hilarious TV show.
After winning a holiday to France, Mr. Bean inadvertently separates a father from his son and has a disaster of a time spending the rest of his trip attempting to reunite them. 
There's a lot of good slapstick humour on offer and, like the original TV series, limits the amount of dialogue that the main character speaks.
Certainly worth a watch over the disappointing 1997 effort, but far from perfect, and it probably came along a few years too late to really capture the core of its audience.

D: Frank Capra
Columbia (Frank Capra)
US 1936
118 mins
W: Robert Riskin [based on the story "Opera Hat" by Clarence Budington Kelland]
DP: Joseph Walker
Ed: Gene Havlicek
Mus: Adolph Deutsch
Gary Cooper (Longfellow Deeds), Jean Arthur (Babe Bennett), Raymond Walburn (Walter), Lionel Stander (Cornelius Cobb), George Bancroft (MacWade), H.B. Warner (Judge Walker)
A writer from a small town inherits a fortune and surprises the populace of New York with his goodheartedness and honesty.
Classic screwball comedy. Like all of Frank Capra's films it blends the perfect amount of wit, intelligence and eccentricities. 
Watch this version over the immature Adam Sandler remake from 2002.
"Larry Burrows wished for it all... Until all that he wished for came true!"
"Larry Burrows wished for it all... Until all that he wished for came true!"
D: James Orr
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV (James Orr & Jim Cruickshank)
US 1990
105 mins
W: James Orr & Jim Cruickshank
DP: Alex Thomson
Ed: Michael R. Miller
Mus: David Newman
James Belushi (Larry Burrows), Linda Hamilton (Ellen Burrows / Ellen Robertson), Michael Caine (Mike the Barman / Mr. Destiny), Jon Lovitz (Clip Metzler), Hart Bochner (Niles Pender), Bill McCutcheon (Leo Hansen), Rene Russo (Cindy Jo)
A modern twist on It's A Wonderful Life (qv) starring James Belushi as the regretful man in a midlife crisis, wondering if his life would be better had he hit a home run during his baseball-playing high school days. 
The film is entertaining enough, with some decent performances from most and a sweet on-screen chemistry between Belushi & Linda Hamilton. In the grand scheme of things, hitting a homer is far too trivial a plot point as a life-changing event and doesn't convince in the same way that Frank Capra's perennial classic does.

"Of all the lives he changed, the one that changed the most was his own."
"Of all the lives he changed, the one that changed the most was his own."
D: Stephen Herek
Interscope (Ted Field, Michael Nolin & Robert W. Cort)
US 1995
143 mins


W: Patrick Sheane Duncan
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Trudy Ship
Mus: Michael Kamen

Richard Dreyfuss (Glenn Holland), Glenne Headly (Iris Holland), Jay Thomas (Bill Meister), Olympia Dukakis (Principal Jacobs), William H. Macy (Vice Principal Wolters), Alicia Witt (Gertrude Lang), Jean Louisa Kelly (Rowena Morgan)

Mr. Holland's Opus could easily be described as Goodbye Mr. Chips with symphonies and orchestras.
Richard Dreyfuss plays the title character, an aspiring composer who takes a temporary job as a high school music teacher and spending 30 years of his life in the profession when he realises that his true vocation is to make others feel passion in music, which causes a rift between his own child, suffering from a hearing impairment.
It's an easy going film which suffers a little for its length, but the excellent performance from Dreyfuss makes the running time a little easier to endure.

"The man beyond the myth."
"The man beyond the myth."
D: Bill Condon
Miramax/Roadside Attractions/BBC/Filmnation (Anne Carey, Iain Canning & Emile Sherman)
UK/US 2015
104 mins

W: Jeffrey Hatcher [based on the book "A Slight Trick Of The Mind" by Mitch Cullin; and characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]
DP: Tobias Schliessler
Ed: Virginia Katz
PD: Martin Childs
Mus: Carter Burwell

Ian McKellen (Sherlock Holmes), Laura Linney (Mrs. Munro), Milo Parker (Roger Munro), Hiroyuki Sanada (Tamiki Umezaki)

Sherlock Holmes may be cinema's most portrayed literary character, but until now has yet to be portrayed as retired and in his twilight years. Perhaps this film answers the reason why, since there is very little mystery and absolutely no crime for the sleuth to solve, since this a period drama and not a whodunit, making the film's title particularly misleading. Perhaps it would have been wiser sticking to the original title of the source novel "A Slight Trick Of The Mind", since this is less a film about Sherlock Holmes and more about the early stages of dementia.
There's no Dr. Watson, Moriarty, Deerstalker Cap and iconic pipe in this portrayal of Holmes, instead openly stating that this was a fictionalised account of the detective made famous by the stories from the late Dr. Watson. There's no labyrinthine riddle for Holmes to solve either as he's settled in his countryside retreat, battling his dementia as he attempts to write a memoir and tend to his bees, with the help of his housekeeper's young son. 
It's not a terrible film. In fact, there's many qualities, such as strong performances from Ian McKellen & Laura Linney. The production design, costumes, makeup and cinematography are also very good without being deemed revolutionary.
As mentioned above, this is a period drama, and for those expecting that it's a good film, but for those expecting one last case from the super sleuth, this will be a huge disappointment.

MR. MOM (aka MR. MUM) (15)
D: Stan Dragoti
20th Century Fox/Sherwood (Lynn Loring)
US 1983
91 mins
W: John Hughes
DP: Victor J. Kemper
Ed: Patrick Kennedy
Mus: Lee Holdridge
Michael Keaton (Jack Butler), Teri Garr (Caroline Butler), Frederick Koehler (Alex Butler), Martin Mull (Ron Richardson), Ann Jillian (Joan)
Early 80's battle of the sexes stuff starring Michael Keaton as a stay-at-home dad while his wife brings home the bacon following his redundancy.
Good enough, but films on a similar theme have been ten a penny since, and there's just not an awful lot about this to make it memorable enough to stand the test of time.

"He's big. He's bad. He's in trouble."
"He's big. He's bad. He's in trouble."
D: Michael Gottlieb
New Line (Bob Engelman)
US 1992
84 mins
W: Edward Rugoff & Michael Gottlieb
DP: Peter Stein
Ed: Earl Ghaffari & Michael Ripps
Mus: David Johansen & Brian Koonin
Terry 'Hulk' Hogan (Sean Armstrong), Sherman Hemsley (Burt Wilson), Austin Pendleton (Alex Mason), Robert Gorman (Alex Mason, Jr.), Madeline Zima (Kate Mason)
Ridiculous and irritating slapstick intended to launch wrestling star Hulk Hogan as a film star. He practically plays himself, a wrestler, who is hired to babysit a millionaire's rowdy, misbehaving kids.
The premise is pretty stupid, the acting is atrocious and it's all very ridiculous. Still, you get what you expect.
"It's lonely in the middle."
"It's lonely in the middle."
D: Billy Crystal
Columbia/Castle Rock/New Line (Billy Crystal)
US 1992
119 mins
W: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel & Billy Crystal
DP: Don Peterman 
Ed: Kent Beyda
Mus: Marc Shaiman
Billy Crystal (Buddy Young, Jr.), David Paymer (Stan Young), Julie Warner (Elaine), Helen Hunt (Annie Wells), Ron Silver (Larry Meyerson)
The ideal film for Billy Crystal to showcase his schtick as ageing comedian Buddy Young, reflecting on his early career and fall from the spotlight, as well as his fractious family relationships.
This is Billy Crystal's film all over, tailor-written and directed by the star and thoroughly enjoyable if you're a fan of the comedian's work, and even if you aren't, there's a couple of moments that will provide amusement.


D: Frank Capra

Columbia (Frank Capra)

US 1939

130 mins


W: Sidney Buchman [based on the unpublished story "The Gentleman From Montana" by Lewis R. Foster]

DP: Joseph Walker

Ed: Gene Havlick & Al Clark

Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin

James Stewart (Jefferson Smith), Jean Arthur (Clarissa Saunders), Claude Rains (Sen. Joseph Paine), Edward Arnold (Jim Taylor), Guy Kibbee (Gov. Hubert Hopper), Thomas Mitchell (Diz Moore), Harry Carey (President Of The Senate)

One of Frank Capra's & James Stewart's finest collaborations is a classic political satire set in Capitol Hill's corridors of power.

Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, an idealistic but naïve young politician who is appointed to the senate following the death of an older senator. He attempts to form an alliance with Joseph Paine, an older politician and presidential hopeful who was his childhood hero and close friend of his father's, but it soon emerges that Smith's plans obstruct corruption amongst his peers who attempt to discredit him and have him removed from office.

Though the mannerisms, dialogue and some of the execution is quite old-fashioned, the main thread of the story is still incredibly relevant and the ending does provide a heartwarming feeling in Capra's best style.

When the film was released, it was met with controversy on both sides of the ocean, ironically for different reasons; In the United States for portraying politicians as corrupt and in Communist countries for showing how democracy works. For me, any film that demonstrates what the word 'filibuster' means has to be worth watching.


D: Mike Leigh
Focus Features/Film4/Lipsync/Thin Man (Georgina Lowe)
UK/France/Germany 2014
150 mins


W: Mike Leigh
DP: Dick Pope
Ed: Jon Gregory
Mus: Gary Yershon

Timothy Spall (J.M.W. Turner), Dorothy Atkinson (Hannah Danny), Marion Bailey (Sophia Booth), Paul Jesson (William Turner), Lesley Manville (Mary Somerville), Martin Savage (Benjamin Haydon)

Mike Leigh's biopic of eccentric 19th century artist J. M. W. Turner is as pretty as a picture, with fine cinematography and production values, as well as solid performances from Timothy Spall and the supporting cast.
Following Turner in the last 25 years of his life, after he had painted his most famous works, the story itself is quite boring, with some of the pacing at a near standstill, and doesn't quite justify it's running time.
Exceptionally made it may well be, but it's not amongst the noted director's finest work. If this was a book, it wouldn't be a page turner.

"Loyalty without question. Friendship without equal."
"Loyalty without question. Friendship without equal."
D: John Madden
Miramax/Ecosse (Sarah Curtis)
UK 1997
103 mins
W: Jeremy Brock
DP: Richard Greatrex
Ed: Robin Sales
Mus: Stephen Warbeck
PD: Martin Childs
Cos: Diedre Clancy
Judi Dench (Queen Victoria), Billy Connolly (John Brown), Geoffrey Palmer (Henry Ponsonby), Anthony Sher (Benjamin Disraeli), Gerald Butler (Archie Brown)
Following the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria develops a friendship with her gardener.
Judi Dench delivers a fantastic performance as England's (as yet) longest reigning monarch in this conservative period drama, meticulously designed with its faithful period detail, costumes and makeup, as well as being elegantly directed by John Madden.
D: Chris Columbus
20th Century Fox/Blue Wolf (Marcia Garces Williams, Robin Williams & Mark Radcliffe)
US 1993
125 mins


W: Randi Mayem Singer & Leslie Dixon [based on the novel "Alias Madam Doubtfire" by Anne Fine]
DP: Donald McAlpine
Ed: Raja Gosnell 
Mus: Howard Shore

Robin Williams (Daniel Hillard / Iphigenia Doubtfire), Sally Field (Miranda Hillard), Pierce Brosnan (Stu), Harvey Fierstein (Frank), Polly Holliday (Gloria), Lisa Jakub (Lydia), Matthew Lawrence (Chris), Mara Wilson (Natalie)

Robin Williams delivers one of his most memorable performances in this family comedy about an out-of-work actor so desperate to see his children following the bitter divorce from his wife, that he disguises himself as a quaint English nanny in order to spend time with them.
The never-shy Williams has much freedom and opportunity here for his trademark improvisation to deliver the laughs, whilst the prosthetic makeup transforming him into the title character is incredible.
It's also quite refreshing that the film doesn't settle for a typically Hollywood happy ending, though there is still quite a hefty dose of sticky sentimentality that the film could have done without.

"Nudity. Variety. High society."
"Nudity. Variety. High society."


D: Stephen Frears
Pathé/The Weinstein Company/BBC (Norma Heyman)
UK/US 2005
103 mins


W: Martin Sherman
DP: Andrew Dunn
Ed: Lucia Zucchetti
Mus: George Fenton

Judi Dench (Laura Henderson), Bob Hoskins (Vivian Van Damm), Will Young (Bertie), Christopher Guest (Lord Cromer), Kelly Reilly (Maureen), Thelma Barlow (Lady Conway), Anna Brewster (Doris), Rosalind Halstead (Frances), Sarah Solemani (Vera)

Mrs Henderson Presents is a story which is better suited to stage, but this film version does a very good job, despite not much happening throughout.
Just before the outbreak of World War II, widow Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) becomes the owner of a theatre in London's West End, but after struggling to turn a profit, she insists that her vaudeville matinees showcase naked ladies, a business strategy which proves very lucrative, though she grows suspicious of the stewardship methods of theatrical director Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) and frequently sneaks in to have a spy.
The film all builds towards Mrs. Henderson's explanation for her decisions, which is a particularly poignant moment and a fine way to bring the film to a close.
Stephen Frears does a good job directing, and the cast of lovely ladies perform well with their clothes on just as good as they do when the kit is off.
More than a parade of boobs and bums, this film also has some balls.

MUD (15)
D: Jeff Nichols
Lions Gate/Roadside Attractions (Lisa Marie Falcone, Sarah Green & Aaron Ryder)             
US 2012 (released 2013)
130 mins


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

Matthew McConaughey (Mud), Tye Sheridan (Ellis), Sam Shepard (Tom Blankenship), Michael Shannon (Galen), Joe Don Baker (King), Ray McKinnon (Senior), Sarah Paulson (Mary Lee), Paul Sparks (Carver), Jacob Lofland (Neckbone), Reese Witherspoon (Juniper)

It has to be said that Matthew McConaughey has had an excellent 12 months during 2013-14. Winning the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club to add to his slew of annual awards.

This movie came out earlier in 2013 and all the talk then was of him receiving an Oscar nomination for this, albeit in a supporting role despite playing the title character.

The story is Tom Sawyer-esque, about two teenage boys, Ellis & Neck, who live on the banks of the Mississippi River, they discover a derelict boat which a drifter by the name of Mud is using as a home.  Wanted for murder and fleeing a vigilante mob, the boys help Mud to repair the boat so he can continue his getaway.  McConaughey does a great job to make you empathise with a character who isn't holier than thou, but credit also has to go to the two young boys who play Ellis & Neck.

A number of stars turn up in relatively small parts, including Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon and Sam Shepard, but McConaughey steals the movie.

The only criticism is the last 15 minutes which seemed unconvincing and a little contrived. Nevertheless a decent independent drama worth watching for the performances alone.

"A love story in the City of Dreams."
"A love story in the City of Dreams."
D: David Lynch
Pathé/Studio Canal/Assymmetrical (Mary Sweeney, Alain Sarde, Neal Edelstein, Michael Polaire & Tony Krantz)
US/France 2001
146 mins
W: David Lynch
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Mary Sweeney
Mus: Angelo Badalamenti 
Naomi Watts (Betty Elms), Justin Theroux (Adam Kesher), Laura Elena Harring (Rita), Ann Miller (Coco Lenoix), Dan Hedaya (Vincenzo Castigliane), Mark Pellegrino (Joe), Robert Forster (Det. Harry McKnight)
David Lynch's filmmaking standard is generally creepy, fascinating, hallucinatory and profoundly, compellingly confusing. Mulholland Drive can certainly be described as all these terms. It can also be described as half a dream and half a nightmare as it weaves an intricate story concerning two women, one a budding Hollywood actress and the other suffering from amnesia. 
Lynch originally intended this film to be a pilot for a TV series and it's safe to say it's every bit as weird as his previous TV show (Twin Peaks).
The film is a puzzling enigma, and if you manage to decipher it, it will stick with you as a marvellously twisted piece of work. At the same time, if you were to switch it off halfway through, it would be completely understandable.
D: Lee Tamahori
MGM/Polygram/Largo (Richard Zanuck & Lili Fini Zanuck)
US 1996
107 mins
W: Pete Dexter & Floyd Mutrux
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Sally Menke
Mus: Dave Grusin
PD: Richard Sylbert
Nick Nolte (Maxwell Hoover), Melanie Griffith (Katherine Hoover), Chazz Palminteri (Ellery Coolidge), Michael Madsen (Eddie Hall), Chris Penn (Arthur Relyea), Treat Williams (Col. Fitzgerald), Jennifer Connelly (Allison Pond), Daniel Baldwin (Agent McCafferty), Andrew McCarthy (Jimmy Fields), John Malkovich (Gen. Timms), Bruce Dern (Chief Bill Parker)
In 1950's Los Angeles, four police detectives investigate the murder of a woman who worked at an atomic test site and discover a conspiracy which runs deep.
The film captures the look of the period with the style of a modern film noir, but is let down tremendously by a plot which seems to have been pieced together from other, better crime thrillers and a generally unsatisfactory ending. The performances are also rather scatty, ranging from good (Nick Nolte, John Malkovich) to Melanie Griffith.
Watch Chinatown instead.
"She's always known he was the one... She didn't know he was also the two, the three and the four..."
"She's always known he was the one... She didn't know he was also the two, the three and the four..."
D: Harold Ramis
Columbia (Trevor Albert & Harold Ramis)
US 1996
117 mins
W: Chris Miller, Mary Hale, Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
DP: Laszlo Kovacs
Ed: Penn Herring & Craig Herring
Mus: George Fenton
Michael Keaton (Doug Kinney), Andie MacDowell (Laura Kinney), Harris Yulin (Dr. Leeds), Richard Masur (Del King), Eugene Levy (Vic), Ann Cusack (Noreen), John de Lancie (Ted), Brian Doyle-Murray (Walt)
A workaholic clones himself so he can spend more time with his family, but finds more trouble than it's worth when his clone does the same thing.
An unusual film in many respects. The plot works quite well and there's some funny moments, but there's something about Michael Keaton's performance that doesn't work quite as well. He's fine as the lead character, but as the clone(s) of the exact same character is where the film becomes quite silly and unconvincing.
The visual effects utilised to have Keaton playing multiple characters are very well executed though.
Reasonably enjoyable, but you wouldn't want to subject yourself to multiple viewings.
D: Stephen Sommers
Universal/Alphaville (James Jacks & Sean Daniel)
US 1999
124 mins


W: Stephen Sommers
DP: Adrian Biddle
Ed: Bob Ducsay
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith 
PD: Allan Cameron

Brendan Fraser (Rick O'Connell), Rachel Weisz (Evie Carnahan), John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan), Arnold Vosloo (Imhotep), Kevin J. O'Connor (Beni Gabor), Jonathan Hyde (Dr. Allen Chamberlain), Oded Fehr (Ardeth Bay)

Not so much a remake of the 1932 classic horror of the same name, but more an Indiana Jones-style adventure yarn starring Brendan Fraser as an intrepid explorer who stumbles upon the resting place of a mummified Egyptian priest, buried alive for a thousand years and revived through a spell book.
The film is played mostly for laughs, with the occasional shock and more than enough action set pieces to keep it ticking over nicely.
Brendan Fraser makes a charismatic action star, whilst Rachel Weisz makes a charmingly sweet damsel in distress.
The special effects are generally good, though some of the CGI seems a little too cartoon-like. Good fun for older kids and adults alike.


D: Alex Kurtzman

Universal/Dark Universe/Perfect World (Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel & Sarah Bradshaw)

US 2017

110 mins


W: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie & Dylan Kussman

DP: Ben Seresin

Ed: Paul Hirsch, Gina Hirsch & Andrew Mondshein

Mus: Brian Tyler

Tom Cruise (Nick Morton), Sofia Boutella (Ahmanet), Russell Crowe (Dr. Henry Jekyll), Annabelle Wallis (Jenny Halsey), Jake Johnson (Chris Vail)

Universal's reboot of The Mummy is the first in their planned series of Dark Universe films, in which they are remaking all of their classic horror movies from the early 1930's, monetary gain being the primary reason.

If The Mummy is anything to go by, things an only get better.. surely. Relocating the bulk of the action from 1930's Northern Africa to present day London, this adventure movie is a complete and utter mess, starring a ridiculously miscast Tom Cruise as a treasure hunter gone rogue from the US army. 

Along with a female historian whom he has a romantic tryst with, they uncover an Egyptian tomb and release a great evil into the world when their airplane crashed over Britain. 

It soon emerges that their find is part of a plan by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), of Jekyll & Hyde fame, who is in the story for no real reason. 

Screenwriter turned director Alex Kurtzman does a really shoddy job bringing this to the screen, failing to elicit any convincing performances from his main stars and even the visual effects fail to live up to the billing. Sofia Boutella manages to pull off a creepy performance as the malevolent Ahmanet, but her work is undone by everyone else being so piss poor, particularly newcomer Annabelle Wallis, who must be a Razzies favourite for Worst Supporting Actress of the year (along with her work in the equally poor King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword).


D: Stephen Sommers
Universal/Alphaville (James Jacks & Sean Daniel)
US 2001
129 mins
W: Stephen Sommers
DP: Adrian Biddle
Ed: Bob Ducsay & Kelly Matsumoto
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Allan Cameron
Brandon Fraser (Rick O'Connell), Rachel Weisz (Evie Carnahan), John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan), Arnold Vosloo (Imhotep), Oded Fehr (Ardeth Bay), Patricia Velasquez (Anck-Su-Namun), Freddie Boath (Alex O'Connell), Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (The Scorpion King)

A sequel which exists only to steal your money through cinema.  If I'd watched this on the big screen I'd have demanded my money back.  The storyline is practically the same as the first movie, except there's an obnoxious little brat as Brendan Fraser's & Rachel Weisz's son who gives Jar Jar Binks a run for his money as the most annoying cinematic sidekick of all time.  It's even more obvious that this movie was rushed into theatres to catch the school holidays by the lazy special effects, particularly at the end.  Worth watching purely as an example of Hollywood's greed.

D: Rob Cohen
Universal/Relativity Media (Sean Daniel, James Jacks, Bob Ducsay & Stephen Sommers)
US/China/Germany 2008
111 mins


W: Alfred Gough & Miles Millar [based on characters created by Stephen Sommers, Lloyd Fonvielle & Kevin Jarre]
DP: Simon Duggan
Ed: Joel Negron & Kelly Matsumoto
Mus: Randy Edelman

Brendan Fraser (Rick O'Connell), Maria Bello (Evelyn O'Connell), Jet Li (The Dragon Emperor), John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan), Russell Wong (Ming Guo), Liam Cunningham (Maguire), Luke Ford (Alex O'Connell), Isabella Leong (Lin), Michelle Yeoh (Zi Yuan)

Indiana Jones-lite, following exactly the same formula from the first two movies, except this is set in China rather than North Africa and replaces Rachel Weisz with a rather poor Maria Bello.
It also focuses much more on the son's character, presumably to take over from Brendan Fraser after he leaves the franchise.
Like Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it simply doesn't measure up to the original. The CGI effects range from decent to absolutely atrocious and you get a feeling of deja vu when it comes to the action set pieces.
Still, I preferred this on an entertainment level to the quite awful The Mummy Returns (qv).

"The world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next."
"The world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next."
D: Steven Spielberg
Universal/Dreamworks/Amblin (Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg & Barry Mendel)         
US/Canada 2005
164 mins
W: Tony Kushner & Eric Roth [based on the book "Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter Terrorist Team" by George Jonas]
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
Eric Bana (Avner Kaufman), Daniel Craig (Steve), Ciaran Hinds (Carl), Mathieu Kassovitz (Robert), Hanns Zischler (Hans), Ayelet Zurer (Daphna Kaufman), Geoffrey Rush (Ephraim)

Spielberg directs without the usual spoonful of sentimentality that usually accompanies his movies.  It's a very brutal and grim thriller depicting the Israeli Secret Service Agency's mission to assassinate the Palestinian 'Black September' terrorists responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games, mostly based on truth, but with a huge dose of Hollywood fiction added for dramatic effect.

Kevin MacDonald's documentary, One Day In September deals with the same incident in a far more realistic way.

Being nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, was a very generous acknowledgment.

D: Brian Henson
Disney (Brian Henson & Martin G. Baker)
US 1992
86 mins
W: Jerry Juhl [based on the story "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens]
DP: John Fenner
Ed: Michael Jablow
Mus: Miles Goodman; Paul Williams
Michael Caine (Ebeneezer Scrooge), Steven MacKintosh (Fred), Meredith Braun (Belle), Robin Weaver (Clara), Kermit The Frog (Bob Cratchit), Miss Piggy (Emily Cratchit), The Great Gonzo (Charles Dickens), Fozzie Bear (Fozziwig)
A cheerful and fun adaptation of Charles Dickens' perennial Yuletide classic aimed not just at children, but general fans of The Muppets.
Michael Caine (in human form) steps into the shoes of Ebeneezer Scrooge, a Christmas-hating miser who changes his ways after being visited by a group of ghosts.
The usual Muppets (Kermit, Miss Piggy, etc.) don't appear quite as much as you'd like them to, but it's still enjoyable enough for the older fans of the puppet comedy troupe.
"More entertaining than humanly possible!"
"More entertaining than humanly possible!"
D: James Frawley
ITC (Jim Henson)
UK 1979
97 mins
W: Jerry Juhl & Jack Burns
DP: Isidore Mankofsky
Ed: Christopher Greenbury
Mus: Paul Williams & Kenny Ascher
Jim Henson (Kermit the Frog / others), Frank Oz (Miss Piggie / others), Charles Durning (Doc Hopper), Austin Pendleton (Max), Scott Walker (Frog Killer), Mel Brooks (Prof. Krassman)

The first Muppet feature film brings the characters from the TV show onto a bigger canvas to showcase their act, with a self-referential storyline which sees Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy and the rest travelling across America to Hollywood so they can appear in their own film.
The material is quite thin for the musical variety act's first cinema outing, but it's clean, enjoyable family fun, with a memorable song ("The Rainbow Connection") performed by Kermit himself. The 2011 film, The Muppets (qv), was practically a remake of this.

D: James Bobin
Disney (David Hoberman & Todd Lieberman)
US 2011
103 mins
W: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: James Thomas & Alan Baumgarten
Mus: Christophe Beck
Jason Segel (Gary), Amy Adams (Mary), Chris Cooper (Tex Richman), Rashida Jones (Veronica), Kermit The Frog (himself), Miss Piggy (herself), Walter (himself)

Practically a retread of their first outing. Kermit, Miss Piggy and co have all gone their separate ways and the Muppet studio is now owned by a oil tycoon who wants the buildings smashed to the ground. Cue Jason Segal, Amy Adams and a load of cameos to put on a Muppet-a-thon and save the day, complete with a load of great new songs from Flight Of The Conchordes' Brett McKenzie.

Yes, it's a kids film... But I think it's brilliant that muppets are back again for a new generation. Some things never grow old.

D: Frank Oz
Tristar (David Lazer)
US 1984
94 mins
W: Frank Oz, Tom Patchett & Jay Tarses
DP: Robert Paynter
Ed: Evan A. Lottman
Mus: Ralph Burns
Kermit The Frog (himself), Miss Piggy (herself), Fozzie Bear (himself), The Great Gonzo (himself), Dabney Coleman (Murray Plotsky), Art Carney (Bernard Crawford), James Coco (Mr. Skeffington), Joan Rivers (Eileen)

The Muppets' third big screen outing (following The Muppet Movie & The Great Muppet Caper) is amongst their best work, with the puppet variety act performing on New York's Broadway. It's basically a feature-length episode of their TV show, but tons of fun for fans of Jim Henson's creations. Guest stars aplenty, but it's the muppets who steal the show. 
"One broke his silence. The other broke the system."
"One broke his silence. The other broke the system."
D: Marc Rocco
Guild/Canal (Mark Frydman & Mark Wolper)         
US 1995
122 mins
W: Dan Gordon
DP: Fred Murphy
Ed: Russell Livingstone
Mus: Christopher Young
Christian Slater (James Stamphill), Kevin Bacon (Henri Young), Gary Oldman (Warden Milton Glenn), Embeth Davidtz (Mary McCasslin), Stephen Tobolowsky (Mr. Henkin), Brad Dourif (Byron Stamphill)
Incarcerated in Alcatraz prison, a prisoner is brutally beaten, mistreated and serves his sentence in solitary confinement, until a young lawyer stands trial on his behalf and uncovers the faults in the system and prison brutality from the despotic warden.
This courtroom drama does somewhat blur the right & wrongs of this true account, but is incredibly well acted, especially from Kevin Bacon, with arguably the finest screen performance of his career.
D: Sidney Lumet
EMI/GW (John Brabourne & Richard Goodwin)
UK 1974
131 mins
W: Paul Dehn [based on the novel by Agatha Christie]
DP: Geoffrey Unsworth
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: Richard Rodney Bennett
PD: Tony Walton
Albert Finney (Hercule Poirot), Ingrid Bergman (Greta Ohlsson), Lauren Bacall (Mrs. Hubbard), Wendy Hiller (Princess Dragomiroff), Sean Connery (Col. Arthbutnot), Jacqueline Bisset (Countess Andrenyi), John Gielgud (Beddoes)
Agatha Christie's better known creation, the sleuth Hercule Poirot investigates a murder on a snowbound train and discovers that everybody is a suspect.
It's very much an actor's piece, with some fine performances from many members of the all-star cast, but Albert Finney isn't quite the right fit for the famous detective (though he does try his very best in the role). It's probably the definitive movie version of the classic novel, but it's a mystery which is better suited to stage.
Good, but not great.
"Everyone is a suspect."
"Everyone is a suspect."


D: Kenneth Branagh

20th Century Fox/Scott Free (Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon, Simon Kinberg, Kenneth Branagh, Judy Hofflund & Michael Schaefer)

UK/US 2017

114 mins


W: Michael Green [based on the novel by Agatha Christie]

DP: Haris Zambarloukos

Ed: Mick Audsley

Mus: Patrick Doyle

PD: Jim Clay

Cos: Alexandra Byrne

Kenneth Branagh (Hercule Poirot), Penelope Cruz (Pilar Estravados), Willem Dafoe (Gerhard Hartman), Judi Dench (Princess Dragomiroff), Johnny Depp (Edward Ratchett), Josh Gad (Hector MacQueen), Derek Jacobi (Edward Henry Masterman), Leslie Odom, Jr. (Dr. Arbuthnot), Michelle Pfeiffer (Caroline Hubbard), Daisy Ridley (Mary Debenham)

A new adaptation of Agatha Christie's classic mystery stars a modern ensemble cast for the new generation of moviegoers.

The mystery, intrigue and suspense won't really be there for those who have either read the novel or seen any previous version, since this remake doesn't allow itself any creative licence with the original prose.

Kenneth Branagh directs himself in the lead as super sleuth Hercule Poirot, who finds himself above the luxury train amongst a group of strangers who later become suspects when gangster turned art dealer, Edward Ratchett, is murdered in his sleep, stabbed a dozen times with a number of clues which pinpoint who was responsible for the crime.

With the train unable to continue its journey due to a snowstorm, Poirot investigates the murder and discovers that everyone is suspect. 

The majority of the cast are excellent, with Michelle Pfeiffer possibly the main standout in what could easily be her comeback role. 

Kenneth Branagh isn't quite as convincing as the Belgian detective, but maybe this is due to David Suchet owning the role in a long-running British TV series.

The period design and costumes make for a convincing 1940's setting, but the CGI visual effects could have been done a lot better.

For those unfamiliar with the story, this will be a good version to watch, but for many the 1974 version with Albert Finney will be the definitive adaptation.


"A story of love, laughter & the pursuit of matrimony."
"A story of love, laughter & the pursuit of matrimony."
D: P. J. Hogan
CIBY 2000/AFFC (Lynda House & Jocelyn Moorhouse)
Australia 1994
105 mins
W: P. J. Hogan
DP: Martin McGrath
Ed: Jill Bilcock
Mus: Peter Best
Toni Collette (Muriel Heslop), Bill Hunter (Bill Heslop), Rachel Griffiths (Rhonda Epinstall), Sophie Lee (Tania Degano)
Hugely enjoyable Australian comedy about an overweight, unhappy and lonely 22-year-old, fed up with being the butt of many jokes, running off to find love and happiness.
This sleeper hit found a huge audience when it was released in the UK and launched the career of its lead actress, Toni Colette, who appeared in bigger budget Hollywood features not long after.
"Their spirit would never be broken."
"Their spirit would never be broken."
D: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Ad Vitam (Charles Gillibert)
France/Turkey 2015
97 mins


W: Deniz Gamze Ergüven & Alice Winocaur
DP: David Chizaliet & Ersin Gok
Ed: Mathilde van de Moortel
Mus: Warren Ellis

Günes Sensoy (Lale), Doga Doguslu (Nur), Elit Ìscan (Ece), Tugba Sunguroglu (Selma)

This French produced Turkish film takes place in a small rural village, where traditional values and are still of the utmost importance. A group of orphaned schoolgirls, under the guardianship of their strict uncle, who turns their home into a prison after the girls are seen innocently playing with some teenage boys on the beach. The girls rebel against the authority, sneaking out to watch football matches and experience life, but one-by-one, they are forced into arranged marriages by their patriarch.
The story is quite a slow mover, though it builds to a nail-biting and bittersweet conclusion, though their are some scenes in the build up which feel a little contrived. 
Feminists championed the film for their own social justice arguments, but it's more a story about the clash between Eastern and Western cultures. 
The film was deservedly nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

"She won't be silenced."
"She won't be silenced."
D: Anthony Waller
Columbia Tristar/Cobblestone (Alexander Buchman, Norbert Soentgen & Anthony Waller)
UK 1995
90 mins


W: Anthony Waller
DP: Egon Werdin
Ed: Peter Adam
Mus: Wilbert Hirsch

Marina Sudina (Billy Hughes), Fay Ripley (Karen Hughes), Evan Richards (Andy Clarke), Oleg Jankowskij (Larsen), Igor Volkow (Arkadi), Sergei Karlenkov (Lyosha), Alec Guinness (The Reaper)

Set almost wholly inside a Moscow film studios where a mute makeup artist works, locked in after dark, she witnesses a real-life murder being filmed for a snuff movie trade.
Despite the low budget, this slasher-style thriller is incredibly well made by director Anthony Waller with a modest cast delivering some very good performances. Some may note it for one of the final screen performances of Sir Alec Guinness, who turns up in a brief, but creepily sinister cameo role.


D: Stephen Frears
Working Title/SAF/Channel 4 (Tim Bevan & Sarah Radclyffe)
UK 1985 (released 1986)
97 mins


W: Hanif Kureishi
DP: Oliver Stapleton
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: Ludas Tonalis

Gordon Warnecke (Omar), Saeed Jaffrey (Nasser), Roshan Seth (Papa), Daniel Day-Lewis (Johnny), Shirley Anne Field (Rachel), Rita Wolf (Tania)

Originally made for and broadcast on TV, this multicultural drama received a cinema release following critical praise on the festival circuit.
This British drama, with a few moments of comedy, takes place in South London during the Thatcher-era, where a young Asian with entrepreneurial ambitions starts managing his uncle's launderette and has a love affair with a white racist.
The story handles a lot of issues incredibly well, tasteful with its balance of homosexuality, racism and a London area during a period of transition.
D: Herbert Ross
Warner Bros. (Herbert Ross & Anthea Sylbert)
US 1990
95 mins


W: Nora Ephron
DP: John Bailey
Ed: Stephen A. Rotter & Robert Reitano
Mus: Ira Newborn

Steve Martin (Vinnie Antonelli), Rick Moranis (Barney Coopersmith), Joan Cusack (Hannah Stubbs), Melanie Mayron (Crystal Ryback), Bill Irwin (Kirby), Carol Kane (Shaldeen), William Hickey (Billy Sparrow)

Following a hugely successful period during the 1980's, Steve Martin's fall from the spotlight began with this dull comedy, where he stars as a gangster, relocated in the witness protection programme, finding it hard to go straight, much to the chagrin of government agent Rick Moranis.
The performances feel miscast in this tepid comedy, particularly Steve Martin, who seems robbed of the wacky characteristics which make his performances so much fun. Even the comedian's biggest fans will be hard pressed to find much enjoyment from this.
The film was intended to be the comedy cousin of Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, the novel upon which it was based was written by Nora Ephron's husband, Nicolas Pileggi. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work.


D: Roger Michell

Fox Searchlight/Free Range (Kevin Loader)

US/UK 2017

106 mins


W: Roger Michell [based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier]

DP: Mike Eley

Ed: Kristina Hetherington

Mus: Rael Jones

Rachel Weisz (Rachel Ashley), Sam Claflin (Philip), Iain Glen (Nick Kendall), Holliday Granger (Louise Kendall)

It's rather unfortunate that Anglo-American production is much less than the sum of all its parts. Based on a classic novel, boasting a magnificent lead performance from Rachel Weisz, handsomely photographed and meticulous attention paid to the period, My Cousin Rachel turns out to be a rather dull film.

The story concerns Philip, an orphan, who receives the news that his adoptive cousin has died, and he suspects that the death is the work of his late cousin's wife Rachel, an older, seductive woman of whom Philip develops his own infatuation.

Perhaps in the hands of a different director, a darker vision would have suited the material. As is, it's worth watching for Rachel Weisz's performance, but very little else.


"There have been many courtroom dramas that have glorified the Great American Legal System... This is not one of them."
"There have been many courtroom dramas that have glorified the Great American Legal System... This is not one of them."
D: Jonathan Lynn
20th Century Fox (Dale Launer & Paul Schiff)
US 1992
119 mins
W: Dale Launer
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Tony Lombardo
Mus: Randy Edelman
Joe Pesci (Vincent LaGuardia Gambino), Ralph Macchio (Bill Gambini), Mitchell Whitfield (Stan Rothenstein), Marisa Tomei (Mona Lisa Vito), Fred Gwynne (Judge Chamberlain Haller), Lane Smith (Jim Trotter III), Austin Pendleton (John Gibbons), Bruce McGill (Sheriff Farley)
My Cousin Vinny gives Joe Pesci one of his best comedy performances as a hugely inexperienced Italian-American lawyer from Brooklyn, way out of his comfort zone in small town Alabama, where he has to represent his cousin on a false murder charge.
The script is excellently written, giving Pesci more than a handful of one-liners, whilst the supporting cast is also fantastic. Marisa Tomei's Oscar win for Supporting Actress is oft-maligned, but she does bring much sassiness to a love interest who, could easily have blended into the background had it been portrayed by anyone else.
"Fathers have just one problem with raising their daughters. They grow up."
"Fathers have just one problem with raising their daughters. They grow up."
D: Steve Miner
Touchstone/Cité (Jacques Bar & Jean-Louis Livi)
US 1994
90 mins
W: Francis Veber & Charlie Peters [based on the screenplay "Mon Père, Ce Héros" by Gerard Lauzier]
DP: Daryn Okada
Ed: Marshall Harvey
Mus: David Newman
Gerard Depardieu (André Arnel), Katherine Heigl (Nicole Arnel), Emma Thompson (Isobel), Dalton James (Ben), Lauren Hutton (Megan Arnel), Faith Prince (Diana), Stephen Tobolowsky (Mike)
Based on the French farce Mon Père, Ce Héros (qv), which also had Gerard Depardieu in the lead, this remake sees him star alongside Katherine Heigl as his troublesome daughter and is slightly better in its execution, though some of the jokes are still rather bad taste. 
On a holiday, she pretends her father is her lover so she can pass for an older woman. That's pretty much the long and short of it.
Katherine Heigl, in one of her earliest roles, brings a bit of cute sassiness, as well as sweet innocence, to the daughter role. 
Enjoyable enough for the duration, but very easy to forget.
"The Martian has landed. There goes the neighbourhood."
"The Martian has landed. There goes the neighbourhood."
D: Donald Petrie
Disney (Robert Shapiro, Jerry Leider & Mark Toberoff)
US 1999
93 mins

Comedy/Science Fiction

W: Sherri Stoner & Deanna Oliver [based on the television sitcom created by John L. Greene]
DP: Thomas Ackerman
Ed: Malcolm Campbell
Mus: John Debney

Christopher Lloyd (Uncle Martin / The Martian), Jeff Daniels (Tim O'Hara), Elizabeth Hurley (Brace Channing), Daryl Hannah (Lizzie), Wallace Shawn (Dr. Elliot Coleye), Christine Ebersole (Mrs. Brown)

Based on the television sitcom which ran from 1963-1966, this obnoxiously unfunny attempt to revive a forgotten programme for a new generation of audience sees an alien, stranded on Earth and taking the form of Christopher Lloyd, receive help from a TV producer to help him get back home.
For the intended audience, this is moderate entertainment, though for anyone over the age of 8, there's very little to enjoy. Even the visual effects look like they were thrown together hastily at little expense.

D: Howard Zieff
Columbia Tristar/Imagine (Brian Grazer)
US 1991
102 mins


W: Laurice Elehwany
DP: Paul Elliott
Ed: Wendy Greene Bricmont
Mus: James Newton Howard

Dan Aykroyd (Harry Sultenfuss), Jamie Lee Curtis (Shelly DeVoto), Anna Chlumsky (Vada Sultenfuss), Macauley Culkin (Thomas), Richard Masur (Phil Sultenfuss), Griffin Dunne (Mr. Bixler)

Syrupy, maudlin and overly sentimental coming-of-age story with a bit of a young romance thrown in (perhaps to cash in on Macauley Culkin's fame following the success of Home Alone).
Anna Chlumsky delivers a good juvenile performance as an undertaker's daughter, struggling to cope with growing up without her mother in a small town during the 1960's. The film revitalised the song "My Girl" by The Temptations, getting back into the music charts after nearly three decades. Little girls will appreciate this movie a lot more than little boys.
A cash-grab sequel was released three years later.
D: Jim Sheridan
Palace/Fernadale/Granada (Noel Pearson)
UK/Ireland 1989
103 mins


W: Jim Sheridan & Shane Connaughton [based on the book by Christy Brown]
DP: Jack Conroy
Ed: J. Patrick Duffner
Mus: Elmer Bernstein

Daniel Day-Lewis (Christy Brown), Ray McAnally (Mr. Brown), Brenda Fricker (Mrs. Brown), Ruth McCabe (Mary Carr), Fiona Shaw (Dr. Eileen Cole), Eanna MacLiam (Old Benny), Alison Whelan (Old Sheila), Declan Croghan (Old Tom)

Daniel Day-Lewis gives one of the greatest ever screen performances in this true story of Christy Brown, an Irish-born man who has suffered his whole life with severe cerebral palsy yet overcomes the odds to learn to paint and write with his only controllable limb- his left foot.
It's an amazingly acted piece of work, with brilliant performances not only from its lead actor, but also from Brenda Fricker as Christy's sympathetic mother and Ray McAnally as his abusive father.
An intelligent, heart-tugging and thoroughly entertaining biographical picture.
"Every moment counts."
"Every moment counts."
MY LIFE (12)
D: Bruce Joel Rubin
Guild (Jerry Zucker, Bruce Joel Rubin & Hunt Lowry)
US 1993
116 mins
W: Bruce Joel Rubin
DP: Peter James
Ed: Richard Chew
Mus: John Barry
Michael Keaton (Bob Jones), Nicole Kidman (Gail Jones), Bradley Whitford (Paul Ivanovich), Queen Latifah (Theresa), Michael Constantine (Bill Ivanovich), Rebecca Schull (Rose Ivanovich), Haing S. Ngor (Mr. Ho)
A father-to-be is struck by the news that he is suffering from terminal cancer and decides to document his final days on videotape as a diary for his unborn son.
This sentimental drama certainly has it's heart in the right place and evokes some good performances from it's cast, but it seems content to take the path of least resistance to evoke some easy tears, especially with the overplaying of John Barry's saccharine music score.


D: Claude Barras

Gebeka/Praesens/Blue Spirit (Armelle Glorennec, Eric Jacquot & Marc Bonny)

France/Switzerland 2016

65 mins


W: Celine Sciamma, Claude Barras, Germano Zullo & Morgan Navarro [based on the book "Autobiographie d'une Courgette" by Gilles Paris]

Mus: Sophie Hunger

Gaspard Schlatter / Erick Abbate (Courgette), Sixtine Murat / Ness Krell (Camille), Paulin Jaccound / Romy Beckman (Simon), Michel Vuillermoz / Nick Offerman (Raymond), Paul Ribera / Barry Mitchell (Ahmed)

Despite being an animated film which generally appeal more to younger audiences, My Life As A Courgette tackles many mature themes which might not be suitable for anybody below teenage years.

Based on a novel by Gilles Paris, this French film tells the story of Courgette, a nine-year-old boy who becomes the newest resident of an orphanage following the accidental death of his abusive, alcoholic mother. 

At his new home, he is initially bullied by another boy, before becoming friends and developing a childhood crush on a troubled girl who also moves in.

At a mere 65 minutes, the film provides perfect entertainment for its duration, with stop-motion animation in a style of its very own. 

A deserved nominee for Best Animated Film at the 2016 Oscars.


D: Hayao Miyazaki
Studio Ghibli (Yasuyoshi Tokuma)
Japan 1988
86 mins
W: Hayao Miyazaki 
Mus: Joe Hisashi
voices of: Noriko Hidaka / Lisa Michels (Satsuki Kusakabe), Chika Sakamoto / Cheryl Chase (Mei Kusakabe), Shigesato Itoi / Greg Snegoff (Tatsuo Kusakabe), Susi Shimamoto / Alexandra Kenworthy (Yasuko Kusakabe), Hitoshi Takagi (Totoro)
When two young girls move to the countryside to be near their sick mother, they find adventure with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.
A very good animated film which adults might appreciate more than children, possibly because the animation isn't Disney-fied. Hayao Miyazaki's movies put character development and a great storyline before singing animals & Alan Menken songs, making for a much more spiritual animated film experience.
D: Richard Benjamin
Columbia Tristar/Weintraub (Ronald Parker & Franklin R. Levy)
US 1988
108 mins
Comedy/Science Fiction
W: Herschel Weingrod, Timothy Harris & Jonathan Reynolds
DP: Richard H. Kline
Ed: Jacqueline Cambas & Brian Chambers
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Dan Aykroyd (Steven Mills), Kim Basinger (Celeste), Jon Lovitz (Ron Mills), Alyson Hannigan (Jessie Mills), Seth Green (Fred Glass), Ann Prentiss (voice of The Bag)
Feeble, sex-obsessed comedy (for kids?) in which an astronomist falls in love with and subsequently marries a beautiful alien woman who has only visited Earth to discover more about his scientific operation. 
The script to this film is pretty woeful, banking on the beauty of Kim Basinger to carry the film, which works in the early scenes she shares with Dan Aykroyd, but the couple have very little chemistry with each other. Jon Lovitz delivers a thoroughly irritating supporting performance as Aykroyd's womanising brother. It's left up to Alyson Hannigan and a little dog to deliver the best performances, which isn't saying much.  Alan Silvestri's music score sounds so similar to one of John Williams' most famous, it's a surprise this didn't culminate in a lawsuit.
Chewing gum for the eyes, with a plot that would entertain children filled with jokes which are completely unsuitable for them.
D: Simon Curtis
TWC/BBC/Lipsync/Trademark (David Parfitt & Harvey Weinstein)
UK 2011
101 mins


W: Adrian Hodges [based on the book "The Prince, The Showgirl and Me, and My Week With Marilyn" by Colin Clark]
DP: Ben Smithard
Ed: Adam Recht
Mus: Conrad Pope & Alexandre Desplat

Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe), Eddie Redmayne (Colin Clark), Kenneth Branagh (Laurence Olivier), Julia Ormond (Vivien Leigh), Judi Dench (Sybil Thorndike), Emma Watson (Lucy), Dougray Scott (Arthur Miller)

Michelle Williams portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in this semi-biopic is so convincing, you may have to keep telling yourself it isn't actually the real movie legend.
The story follows a young assistant director (Eddie Redmayne) and his brief fling with Monroe on and off the set of Laurence Olivier's 1956 movie The Prince & The Showgirl.  It's not certain if all of the story is true, but it is very well publicised that Marilyn Monroe was incredibly difficult to work with, frequently turning up on the film set late, drunk, or not at all.
Kenneth Branagh is excellent as Olivier, but this is definitely Williams moment to shine. She's come a very long way since Dawson's Creek and is very much one of the up and coming young actresses of the early 21st century.
The rest of the casting is good, with modern day likenesses cast as movie legends of yesteryear. Keep your eyes peeled for a Norman Wisdom 'cameo'.
It doesn't delve deep into the life of a troubled woman, but offers an entertaining tidbit of one of the most iconic actresses of the 20th century.

D: Kinka Usher
Universal/Dark Horse (Lawrence Gordon, Mike Richardson & Lloyd Levin)
US 1999
120 mins


W: Neil Cuthbert [based on the comic book by Bob Burden]
DP: Stephen Goldblatt
Ed: Conrad Buff
Mus: Stephen Warbeck
PD: Kirk M. Petrucelli
Cos: Marilyn Vance

Ben Stiller (Roy / Mr. Furious), William H. Macy (Eddy / The Shoveler), Hank Azaria (Jeff / Blue Raja), Janeane Garofalo (Carol / The Bowler), Kel Mitchell (Invisible Boy), Paul Reubens (The Spleen), Wes Studi (The Sphinx), Geoffrey Rush (Casanova Frankenstein), Greg Kinnear (Lance Hunt / Captain Amazing), Claire Forlani (Monica)

A ragtag group of wannabe superheroes unite to save Champion City from the tyrannical rule of Casanova Frankenstein, the evil villain who has already abducted the city's most famous superhero, Captain Amazing.
Mystery Men is a hugely underrated spoof which struggled to find an audience during its theatrical run and subsequently flopped. It's a shame because it's generally quite fun, with a subtle sense of humour running through it as well as some brash, in-your-face visual gags. It's a huge shame this fell between two stools of whether to aim itself at an adult or teenage market.
"We bury out sins, we wash them clean."
"We bury out sins, we wash them clean."
D: Clint Eastwood
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/Malpaso (Robert Lorenz, Judie Hoyt & Clint Eastwood)
US 2003
132 mins
W: Brian Helgeland [based on the novel by Dennis Lehane]
DP: Tom Stern
Ed: Joel Cox
Mus: Clint Eastwood
PD: Henry Bumstead
Sean Penn (Jimmy Markum), Tim Robbins (Dave Boyle), Kevin Bacon (Sean Levine), Laurence Fishburne (Whitey Powers), Marcia Gay Harden (Celeste Boyle), Laura Linney (Annabeth Markum), Kevin Chapman (Val Savage), Thomas Guiry (Brendan Harris), Emmy Rossum (Katie Markum)
A sinister, foreboding crime drama by director Clint Eastwood, from a novel by Dennis Lehane. 
Three childhood friends who drifted apart following a traumatic event are reunited as adults when one of their daughters is murdered.
The mystery aspect of the story is peripherally important to the plot, taking a back seat whilst the focus is on the three main male characters, their relationship with each other and their own families, as well as the deep-rooted issues that haunt each of them.
It's a real actor's film, evoking excellent performances from it's ensemble cast, winning Oscars for both Sean Penn & Tim Robbins. Highly recommended stuff.