D: Joel Coen
Momentum/Universal/Touchstone/Studio Canal/Working Title (Ethan Coen)
US 2000
106 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen [based on 'The Odyssey' by Homer]
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Roderick Jaynes & Tricia Cooke
Mus: T-Bone Burnett
PD: Dennis Gassner

George Clooney (Everett Ulysses McGill), John Turturro (Pete), Tim Blake Nelson (Delmar), Charles Durning (Pappy O'Daniel), John Goodman (Big Dan Teague), Michael Badalucco (George Nelson), Holly Hunter (Penny)

The Coen Brothers movies are very much love-them-or-hate-them but they do happen to have a vast legion of fans and I count myself among them (aside from their remake of The Ladykillers - they must have only made that to get out of some contractual obligation)

In this, they rework Homer's classic tale The Odyssey and relocate it to depression-era Deep South and follows the mishaps of three gormless fugitives from a chain gang as they seek a fabled treasure.  George Clooney steals the show as the leader of the trio, delivering his best comic performance to date.

I'm not a huge fan of the traditional Golden Oldie folk songs that the soundtrack is littered with, but in context of the movie, the song choices work incredibly well.

I'd say this is amongst Joel & Ethan Coen's best films, but it's still nowhere near as good as Fargo (qv).


"Earth is a memory worth fighting for."
"Earth is a memory worth fighting for."
D: Joseph Kosinski
Universal/Relativity Media/Monolith (Joseph Kosinski, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Barry Levine & Duncan Henderson) 
US 2013
124 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Karl Gajdusek & Michael deBruyn [based on the graphic novel by Joseph Kosinski]
DP: Claudio Miranda
Ed: Richard Francis-Bruce
Mus: M83 & Joseph Trapanese

Tom Cruise (Cmmdr. Jack Harper), Morgan Freeman (Malcolm Beech), Olga Kurylenko (Julia Rusakova Harper), Andrea Riseborough (Victoria Olsen), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Sgt. Sykes), Melissa Leo (Sally / Tet)

If you've not watched this movie, don't read this review. This film is best watched if you go into it blind and know as little of the plot as possible. This is pretty much what I did, but I'm clever and I figured it all out within the opening act...
Tom Cruise is really trying his best to claim action man roles following his jump over Oprah Winfrey's couch and this is certainly his best film since 2002's Minority Report (aside from his cameo in Tropic Thunder).
That being said, I found this movie just as disappointing as I found it technically impressive.
In a nutshell, it takes the driving factors of The Matrix, The Terminator, Independence Day & (mostly) 2009's Moon for the bones of the plot, and if you've seen any of them movies, ESPECIALLY the latter, the big plot twist in this will have you rolling your eyes rather than leave you speechless and mouth agog.
Here's a more concise breakdown of the plot: In the post-Apocalyptic future, Cruise & his English wife (Riseborough) are Earth's babysitters, maintaining drones (terminators) which protect harvesting machines from the baddies... Cruise starts wondering about his existence and discovers that there's more to life than following instructions and his persona from Top Gun comes forth. He intercepts a ship of human survivors just before all but one are assassinated by the robot drones and then Morpheus, I mean Morgan Freeman, tells him to follow the white rabbit to discover the truth. The rest of the film is Moon (qv) with Tom Cruise instead of Sam Rockwell before a climax ripped straight from Independence Day (qv).
Aside from having a completely unoriginal and totally Hollywoodized story and being very slowly paced, the sets are brilliantly designed, the movie is photographed well and the visual effects are incredibly well done.  This movie simply fails due to the "seen it all before" issues, but it's worth a one-off watch for any fan of science fiction.          
However, I'd recommend Moon as a much better film.

"All's fair when love is war."
"All's fair when love is war."


D: Steve Shill
Screen Gems/Rainforest (Will Packer)
US 2009
108 mins
W: David Loughery
DP: Ken Seng
Ed: Paul Seydor
Mus: James Dooley
Beyoncé Knowles (Sharon Charles), Idris Elba (Derek Charles), Ali Larter (Lisa Sheridan), Jerry O'Connell (Ben), Christine Lahti (Reese)
In a nutshell, it's an interracial update of Fatal Attraction, except the performances of the two lead actresses are laughable, not that I've ever considered Beyonce (pretentious accent on the E) Knowles to be a particularly good actress... or singer.
This is a tv-movie-of-the-week at best, with all the cliches from the umpteen crazy-bitch-from-hell films which precede it and is nothing short of unintentionally hilarious, especially when the last 15 minutes makes it all about Beyoncé as she competely sheds her family-mother-from-affluent-background character and turns all ghetto. It was laughably pathetic! I actually sided with Ali Larter!!
Of course, Beyoncé had to have one of her own songs playing over the closing titles. Egotistical bitch!
"The Plan Is Priceless"
"The Plan Is Priceless"

OCEAN'S 8 (12)

D: Gary Ross

Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Smoke House (Steven Soderbergh & Susan Ekins)

US 2018

110 mins


W: Gary Ross & Olivia Milch [based on characters created by George Clayton Johnson & Jack Golden]

DP: Eigil Bryld

Ed: Juliette Welfling

Mus: Daniel Pemberton

Sandra Bullock (Debbie Ocean), Cate Blanchett (Lou), Anne Hathaway (Daphne Kluger), Mindy Kaling (Amrita), Sarah Paulson (Tammy), Awkwafina (Constance), Rihanna (Nine Ball), Helena Bonham-Carter (Rose Weil)

With Hollywood dead set on remaking as many movies as possible with female leads, this spinoff of Ocean's Eleven is a perfectly enjoyable heist flick.

Sandra Bullock plays the sister of George Clooney's character from the 2011 film, an ex-convict who, upon release, immediately plots the theft of a priceless diamond necklace during an art gala and simultaneously getting her own back on her ex-partner whose duplicity saw her sentenced to prison.

The film is not without its problems, one being that its twist will be quite obvious to anyone who can count and the infatuation with fashion will appeal far more to women audience members than to males. The female cast are all good however, particularly Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, who make a fine double act. It's a shame about James Corden's appearance in the last few scenes though, where he's simply playing himself (and can't even do that convincingly). Still, his presence doesn't ruin what is otherwise an entertaining popcorn movie.


"Are you in or are you out?"
"Are you in or are you out?"
D: Steven Soderbergh
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/NPV (Jerry Weintraub)
US 2001
116 mins


W: Ted Griffin [based on the screenplay by Harry Brown & Charles Lederer]
DP: Peter Andrews
Ed: Stephen Mirrione
Mus: David Holmes
PD: Philip Messina

George Clooney (Danny Ocean), Brad Pitt (Rusty Ryan), Matt Damon (Linus Caldwell), Andy Garcia (Terry Benedict), Julia Roberts (Tess Ocean), Don Cheadle (Basher Tarr), Casey Affleck (Virgil Malloy), Scott Caan (Turk Malloy) Elliott Gould (Reuben Tishkoff), Bernie Mac (Frank Catton), Carl Reiner (Saul Bloom)

A surefire contender for the coolest remake of all time, Steven Soderbergh's update of the 1960's rat pack crime caper Ocean's Eleven just oozes with effortless charisma.

George Clooney leads as Danny Ocean, a suave and confident ex-convict who pools the talents of 10 other conmen in order to rob three Las Vegas casinos on the night of a championship boxing match.

There's a good mix of fun, thrills and self-indulgence, with all the cast in good form. The heist itself is a masterstroke of deft direction and excellent film editing.


D: Steven Soderbergh
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/NPV (Jerry Weintraub)
US 2004
125 mins


W: George Nolfi [based on characters created by Harry Brown & Charles Lederer]
DP: Peter Andrews
Ed: Stephen Mirrione
Mus: David Holmes
PD: Philip Messina

George Clooney (Danny Ocean), Brad Pitt (Rusty Ryan), Matt Damon (Linus Caldwell), Andy Garcia (Terry Benedict), Julia Roberts (Tess Ocean), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Isabel Lahiri), Vincent Cassel (François Toulor)

Following the heist in Las Vegas and Danny Ocean's inevitable return to prison, he gets the same gang together (with an additional member to boot) in order to participate in more heists.

The formula from the first film is tweaked so this is more in-jokey, with even more emphasis on being cool. The referential self-indulgences are far more embarrassing in this film though, and like a dog constantly begging to be liked, you'll eventually get fed up with it.


"Revenge is a funny thing."
"Revenge is a funny thing."


D: Steven Soderbergh

Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Section Eight (Jerry Weintraub)

US 2007

122 mins


W: Brian Koppelman & David Levien  [based on characters created by Harry Brown & Charles Lederer]

DP: Peter Andrews

Ed: Stephen Mirrione

Mus: David Holmes

George Clooney (Danny Ocean), Brad Pitt (Rusty Ryan), Matt Damon (Linus Caldwell), Andy Garcia (Terry Benedict), Don Cheadle (Basher Tarr), Elliott Gould (Reuben Tishkoff), Al Pacino (Willy Bank), Ellen Barkin (Abigail Sponder)

The third and final part of the Ocean's Trilogy is an improvement on the second film (Ocean's Twelve), but by the same token, it feels like a spoof version of the first film (Ocean's Eleven), albeit without Julia Roberts returning to reprise her role as the love interest.

It's another variation on the same plot, with Danny Ocean and his team of criminals putting their wits together to rip off another casino, owned by businessman Willy Bank, though this time, the heist is to be done mostly over the gambling tables on the casino's relaunch night.

There are moments where it seems it's trying a little too hard to be cool, and some of the comedy interludes may make you roll your eyes, but overall it is an entertaining crime caper, though it really does pale in comparison to the 2001 film.


D: John Glen
Eon/Danjaq (Albert R. Broccoli)
UK 1983
131 mins


W: George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum & Michael G. Wilson [based on characters created by Ian Fleming]
DP: Alan Hume
Ed: Peter Davies & Henry Richardson
Mus: John Barry

Roger Moore (James Bond), Maud Adams (Octopussy), Louis Jourdan (Kamal Khan), Kristina Wayborn (Magda), Kabir Bedi (Gobinda)

James Bond returns in this far-fetched adventure, sending him to the Middle East to take on an Arabic prince and escape the clutches of a seductive woman who between them plan to steal priceless treasures.

One of the weakest Bond films, even by Roger Moore's standards, when the emphasis was on expensive stunts and cheesy one-liners.


D: Gene Saks
Paramount (Howard W. Koch)
US 1968
105 mins


W: Neil Simon [based on his play]
DP: Robert G. Hauser
Ed: Frank Bracht
Mus: Neal Hefti

Jack Lemmon (Felix Ungar), Walter Matthau (Oscar Madison), John Fiedler (Vinnie), Herb Edelman (Murray), David Sheiner (Roy), Monica Evans (Cecily), Carole Shelley (Gwendolyn)

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau had appeared in several films together, but The Odd Couple is the most fondly remembered, with both actors delivering equally iconic performances.
Screenwriter Neil Simon has a gift for making amusing situations out of everyday events, especially with mismatched couples, and this is easily the most accessible of his works, providing a massive stepping stone for his later stage plays and film screenplays. 
After his wife commences divorce proceedings, fussy journalist Felix Ungar is invited to stay at his recently-divorced, slobbish friend's apartment, where their clashing habits and lifestyles get on each other's nerves.
Though the one-set approach to the material is perfect for stage, the film does a good job translating it to the big screen.
A hugely popular sitcom followed in the 1970's, as well as a sequel in 1998, though the latter failed to capture the magic of this original work.

"He's a force of nature."
"He's a force of nature."
D: Peter Hedges
Disney (Scott Sanders, James Whittaker & Ahmet Zappa)
US 2012
105 mins


W: Peter Hedges
DP: John Toll
Ed: Andrew Mondshein
Mus: Geoff Zanelli

Jennifer Garner (Cindy Green), Joel Edgerton (James Green), C.J. Adams (Timothy Green), Dianne Wiest (Bernice Crudstaff), Rosemarie DeWitt (Brenda Best), Ron Livingston (Franklin Crudstaff), David Morse (James Green, Sr.)

The Odd Life Of Timothy Green is a rather odd film. This Disney fantasy for a more mature audience seems to tick all the usual boxes for an Oscar-bait movie, but also fails on most counts.
A childless couple who are unable to conceive write a list of attributes for a perfect child during a wine-fuelled night and bury it in the garden. The next morning, a child has grown, a plant-like Jesus with leaves growing out of his ankles.
The attempted Christ parable really doesn't work here, and the acting isn't of any memorable standard to lift this above an average timekiller.
It will have a very niche market who will enjoy it most, but everyone else will just find it equally strange and mundane.

"The picture Hollywood said could never be made."
"The picture Hollywood said could never be made."


D: Lewis Milestone
Hal Roach Films (Lewis Milestone)
US 1939
107 mins
W: Eugene Solow [based on the novel by John Steinbeck]
DP: Norbert Brodine
Ed: Bert Jordan
Mus: Aaron Copland
Burgess Meredith (George Milton), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Lennie Small), Betty Field (Mae), Charles Bickford (Slim), Roman Bohnen (Candy), Bob Steele (Curley), Noah Beery, Jr. (Whit)

The definitive version of John Steinbeck's classic novel.

During the Great Depression, two itinerant farm workers travel the country looking for work on ranches, one of whom is a mentally-retarded giant who isn't aware of his own strength and can't seem to stay out of trouble.

The drama is excellently acted by every member of its cast and even manages an uplifting ending despite the often depressing subject matter.

"We have a dream. Someday we'll have a little house & a couple of acres. A place to call home."
"We have a dream. Someday we'll have a little house & a couple of acres. A place to call home."

OF MICE & MEN (12)

D: Gary Sinise
UIP/MGM (Russ Smith & Gary Sinise)
US 1992
111 mins
W: Horton Foote [based on the novel by John Steinbeck]
DP: Kenneth McMillan
Ed: Robert L. Sinise
Mus: Mark Isham
PD: David Gropman
Gary Sinise (George Milton), John Malkovich (Lenny Small), Ray Walston (Candy), Casey Siemaszko (Curley) Sherilyn Fenn (Curley's Wife)

Well-intended and very well acted remake of the above though this adaptation feels emotionally cold and often feels like a filmed stage reenactment.

Malkovich steals the movie and Gary Sinise proves to be a much better actor than he is a director. 

Worth watching if you're a fan of the book, but the 1939 version has a much better sense of atmosphere.

"Party like your job depends on it."
"Party like your job depends on it."


D: Josh Gordon & Will Speck

Paramount/Dreamworks/Reliance/Bluegrass (Scott Stuber, Guymon Casady & Daniel Rappaport)

US 2016

105 mins


W: Justin Malen, Laura Solon, Dan Mazer, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore & Timothy Dowling

DP: Jeff Cutter

Ed: Jeff Groth & Evan Henke

Mus: Theodore Shapiro

Jason Bateman (Josh Parker), Olivia Munn (Tracey Hughes), T.J. Miller (Clay Vanstone), Jennifer Aniston (Carol Vanstone), Kate McKinnon (Mary Winetoss), Courtney B. Vance (Walter Davis)

The employees from the most unprofessional software company on the planet throw an office Christmas party, against the wishes of their CEO, in the hopes that it will convince a financial benefactor to sign a contract with them and prevent job cuts... although this storyline is dropped before the halfway mark of the film as it instead goes to the blueprint of comedy from The Hangover films.

There could have been a good movie here, but the characters are just as annoying before the party as they are during or after, and it's only Jennifer Aniston's character as the bitchy CEO which has any realism to it. The film starts with a handful of throwaway scenes with jokes that fall flat and don't really move the plot along and the jokes throughout the party centre around a bunch of arseholes acting like a bunch of arseholes.

Six writers, two directors, but not a single memorable joke. Watch the Christmas special to the UK television series The Office instead, it's far more rewarding.


"Work sucks."
"Work sucks."


D: Mike Judge 
20th Century Fox (Michael Rotenberg & Daniel Rappaport)
US 1999
89 mins
W: Mike Judge [based on his animated series 'Milton']
DP: Tim Suhrstedt 
Ed: David Rennie
Mus: John Frizzell
Ron Livingston (Peter Gibbons), Jennifer Aniston (Joanna), Stephen Root (Milton Waddams), Gary Cole (Bill Lumbergh), David Herman (Michael Bolton), Ajay Naidu (Samir Nagheenanajar), John C. McGinley (Bob), Diedrich Bader (Lawrence)

Inspired by a cartoon series depicting the lowly side of office life, this comedy is a giant finger to big commercial corporations.

Three disgruntled office workers have enough of their place in the company pyramid and exploit a software loophole to make themselves millionaires on the company wages (a wink & a nod to one of the plot developments in a Superman film).

The three main characters make a good partnership and there's also brilliant performances from John C. McGinley & Gary Cole as middle management yes men.

The comedy element isn't sustained throughout the film and the ending is quite disappointing, but overall it's well worth a watch.

Far more entertaining than other films of the ilk, though it's not quite of the same calibre as the TV series "The Office" (the UK version, not the American one).

D: Taylor Hackford
Paramount/Lorimar (Martin Elfand)
US 1982
126 mins


W: Douglas Day Stewart
DP: Donald Thorin
Ed: Peter Zinner
Mus: Jack Nitzsche

Richard Gere (Zack Mayo), Debra Winger (Paula Pokrifki), Louis Gossett, Jr. (Sgt. Emil     Foley), David Keith (Sid Worley), Lisa Eilbacher (Casey Seeger), Lisa Blount (Lynette Pomeroy), Robert Loggia (Byron Mayo)

Richard Gere is one of them actors I simply don't relate to. No idea what it is, I simply don't like him. However, it must be said that his performance in this romantic drama is worthy of praise.

He plays a rebellious naval recruit, Zack Mayo, enlisting straight out of a broken family from the wrong side of the tracks and instantly disliked by stern drill sergeant Emil Foley.

Mayo finds friendship with a fellow recruit however and they both develop relationships with a pair of young women working at a local paper mill, desperate to be married into the service so they can dream of better lives away from the small industrial town.

Louis Gossett, Jr. steals this film as the strict training officer, but the rest of the cast are all fine, particularly Debra Winger with a standout female performance amongst a cast mostly of men.

The love theme "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic.



D: Joe Camp
20th Century Fox/Mulberry Square (Joe Camp)
US 1980
103 mins
W: Rod Browning & Joe Camp [based on the screenplay "You Never Can Tell" by Lou Breslow & David Chandler]
DP: Don Reddy
Ed: Steve Moore & Leon Seith
Mus: Euel Box & Frank Denson
Chevy Chase (Benjamin Browning), Jane Seymour (Jackie Howard), Omar Sharif (Malcolm Bart), Robert Morley (Bernie), Benji (Benji)

Benji gets a paranormal twist in this muddled fantasy, far too unsuitable for children with some of its profane humour.

A private investigator (Chevy Chase) is murdered and reincarnated as a dog to solve his own murder, with the help of Jane Seymour. Unfortunately, the film can't make up its mind whether it wants to be a mystery or a comedy vehicle for Chevy Chase, voicing a dog for the vast majority of the film.

A complete mess which ought to have been put down.

"A picture straight from the heart of America."
"A picture straight from the heart of America."
D: Fred Zinnemann
Magna (Arthur Hornblow, Jr.)
US 1955
143 mins


W: Sonya Levien & William Ludwig [based on the musical by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II; play 'Green Grow The Rushes' by Lynn Riggs]
DP: Robert Surtees
Ed: Gene Ruggiero & George Boemler
Mus: Robert Russell Bennett, Jay Blackton & Adolph Deutsch; Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

Gordon MacRae (Curly), Shirley Jones (Laurey), Rod Steiger (Jud Fry), Gloria Grahame (Ado Annie), Charlotte Greenwood (Aunt Eller), Gene Nelson (Will Parker), Eddie Albert (Ali Hakim)

As with most of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, they have their target audience and anyone who falls either side of it probably won't enjoy them, there are some exceptions to the rule, but Oklahoma is a particularly trying film is you're not a fan of the songwriters' other works.

This set-bound adaptation of the stage play sees a group of ranch hands vie for the attentions of a beautiful woman, all through the medium of song & dance.

Nowhere near as memorable as the songwriters other works, with only a few songs which people will remember.

Of course, if you don't like the old style musical you won't enjoy this at all. (I didn't enjoy this at all).


"Beware the night!"
"Beware the night!"


D: James Whale
Universal (Carl Laemmle, Jr.)
US 1932
71 mins
W: Benn W. Levy & R. C. Sherriff [based on the novel 'Benighted' by J. B. Priestley]
DP: Arthur Edeson
Ed: Clarence Kolster
PD: Charles D. Hall
Melvyn Douglas (Roger Penderell), Charles Laughton (Sir William Porterhouse), Raymond Massey (Philip Waverton), Gloria Stuart (Margaret Waverton), Boris Karloff (Morgan), Ernest Thesiger (Horace Femm), Eva Moore (Rebecca Femm)

Classic, but very dated haunted house flick from the golden era of Universal horror movies.

There's also a touch of self-referential humour injected amongst the tragedy of horrors as a group of stranded travellers take refuge in the creepy house populated with eccentric oddities.

It will have little appeal to modern day audiences, but will be enjoyed by film buffs and connoisseurs of the oldies simply for being a seminal piece of filmmaking.



D: David Lowery

Fox Searchlight/Endgame/Condé Nast/Sailor Baby/Identity/Tango/Wildwood (James D. Stern, Dawn Ostroff, Jeremy Steckler, Anthony Mastromauro, Bill Holderman, Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston & Robert Redford)

US 2018

93 mins


W: David Lowery [based on the story by David Grann]

DP: Joe Anderson

Ed: Lisa Zeno Churgin

Mus: Daniel Hart

Robert Redford (Forrest Tucker), Sissy Spacek (Jewel), Casey Affleck (John Hunt), Danny Glover (Teddy Green), Tom Waits (Waller), Elizabeth Moss (Dorothy)

After a career which spanned six decades, Hollywood veteran Robert Redford announced his retirement and that this low-key crime biopic would be his final movie performance.

Based on a true story, he plays Forrest Tucker, who, in-between prison stints, committed a string of robberies using only his gentlemanly charm.

Casey Affleck also stars as a police detective who makes it his duty to arrest Tucker, and though some of the perpetrated crimes do feature in the film, it focuses more on a tender relationship between the wily old criminal and Jewel, the woman who loves him despite of his chosen lifestyle.

It's a film which is very easy to watch, featuring a great swan song from Redford and doesn't outstay its welcome at a timely 93 minutes.

There isn't too much to it, and perhaps that's one of its greatest beauties.


D: Park Chan-Wook
Tartan (Seung-Yong Lim)
South Korea 2003
120 mins
W: Hwang Jo-Yun, Lim Jun-Hyeong & Park Chan-Wook
DP: Jeong Jeong-Hun
Ed: Kim Sang-Beom
Mus: Yeong-Wook Jo
Choi Min-Sik (Oh Dae-Su), Yoo Ji-Tae (Lee Woo-Jin), Kang Hye-Jeong (Mi-do)
A complex story of revenge and redemption from South Korea which many people would be quite forgiven for switching off in the first half hour due to its complicated narrative.
A seemingly ordinary businessman, Oh Dae-Su, is incarcerated in a hotel-like-prison for 15 years where he spends his days renouncing upon his sins, hatching a plan for escape and plotting revenge on those who put him there.
When he does achieve freedom, he discovers that his wife is dead, his daughter has been adopted and he only has five days to discover the identity of the person who had him imprisoned and their motives for doing so.
He gains the help of a young sushi chef called Mido, who falls in love with him, but there is a disturbing secret between the two characters which unweaves in the film's climax.
The narrative structure and characters are like an Oriental spin on Shakespeare's works with revenge being the main driving force behind the story.
Some of the scenes are certainly not for the squeamish, particularly one where Oh Dae-Su uses a hammer for some makeshift dentistry work on one of his victims.
Oldboy is without doubt one of the best films to come out of Eastern Asia in the past couple of decades. An American remake also reared its head, but it's nowhere near as good as the original.
"Find the truth and make it hurt."
"Find the truth and make it hurt."
D: Spike Lee
FilmDisrict/40 Acres & A Mule (Roy Lee, Doug Davison & Nathan Kahane)
US 2013
104 mins


W: Mark Protosevich [based on the screenplay by Park Chan-Wook, Im Joon-Hyung & Hwang Jo-Yoon]
DP: Sean Bobbitt
Ed: Barry Alexander Brown
Mus: Roque Baños

Josh Brolin (Joe Doucett), Elizabeth Olson (Marie Sebastian), Sharlto Copley (Adrian Doyle Pryce), Samuel L. Jackson (Chaney), Michael Imperoli (Chucky)

There's no beating around the bush on this one. This is Spike Lee selling out.  This inferior remake of the 2003 South Korean film follows exactly the same plot and brings nothing new to the table, unless you count the slightly tweaked ending which seems like a gargantuan plothole.
Even for those who've not to see the original film, this is poor, with lazy performances, screenwriting and a lack of style in the action set pieces, even the movie tagline lacks imagination.
Not so much Oldboy, more an old director, with no original material left so he needs to resort to plagiarism. 

"Much much more than a musical!"
"Much much more than a musical!"
D: Carol Reed
Columbia/Warwick/Romulus (John Woolf)
UK 1968
146 mins


W: Vernon Harris [based on the musical play by Lionel Bart; novel 'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens]
DP: Oswald Morris
Ed: Ralph Kemplen
Mus: John Green; Lionel Bart
PD: John Box
Cos: Phyllis Dalton

Mark Lester (Oliver Twist), Ron Moody (Fagin), Oliver Reed (Bill Sykes), Shani Wallis (Nancy), Harry Secombe (Mr. Bumble), Jack Wild (Jack 'The Artful Dodger' Dawkins), Hugh Griffith (The Magistrate), Joseph O'Connor (Mr. Brownlow), Leonard Rossiter (Mr. Sowerberry)

Lionel Bart's musical version of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist gets the big screen treatment and goes into movie folklore.

Even for a musical released towards the tail end of the genre's golden age, the film did incredibly well, even going as far as winning the Best Picture Oscar (the last musical to do so until 2002's Chicago).

Carol Reed's film is a splendid piece of work, doing justice to both the stage musical and the original novel, with Ron Moody stealing the picture as master pickpocket Fagin. Oliver Reed also delivers his finest ever performance as the story's true villain, Bill Sykes. The cast of children are all fantastic, though Mark Lester's pure & chaste title character is most certainly upstaged by Jack Wild's performance as cheeky scoundrel The Artful Dodger.

It does drag a little in places around the mid-section, but this is truly one of the great film musicals and arguably the finest ever adaptation of Charles Dickens' works.


D: Antoine Fuqua
FilmDistrict/Millennium (Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel & Mark Gill)
US 2013
120 mins
W: Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt
DP: Conrad W. Hall
Ed: John Refoua
Mus: Trevor Morris
Gerard Butler (Mike Banning), Aaron Eckhart (President Benjamin Asher), Morgan Freeman (Allan Trumbull), Angela Bassett (Lynne Jacobs), Rick Yune (Kang Yeonsak), Dylan McDermott (Dave Forbes)
It's Die Hard in the White House and about 20 years too late. 
The movie opens with some ridiculously over-patriotic music even worse than Air Force One and then fades in to reveal Secret Service agent Gerard Butler & US President Aaron Eckhart having a little sparring match at Camp David, so we know not only that he's the President, but that he's a man not to be trifled with... Fast forward 18 months and Gerard Butler is demoted to a government desk job and married to a self-important, prissy bitch. 
The white house falls under attack by Korean terrorists & really bad CGI and then it's formulaic bullshit time.
As you can tell, I didn't think too much of this movie. It's just cliche after cliche swimming in a big pool of mediocrity.
It's not terrible, I just enjoyed it much better in 1992 when it was called Under Siege (qv).
"The last man alive is not alone!"
"The last man alive is not alone!"
D: Boris Sagal
Warner Bros. (Walter Seltzer)
US 1971
98 mins

Science Fiction

W: John William Carrington & Joyce H. Carrington [based on the novel 'I Am Legend' by Richard Matheson]
DP: Russell Metty
Ed: William H. Ziegler
Mus: Ron Grainger

Charlton Heston (Dr. Robert Neville), Rosalind Cash (Lisa), Anthony Zerbe (Matthias)

Following a conflict of germ warfare and the decimation of the world population, a lone survivor protects himself against the the loathsome, night-crawling creatures that mankind has become.

This filmed version of Richard Matheson's fantastic novel "I Am Legend" is definitely a production of its time, and as such seems badly dated now, particularly because the year of its prophecy is 1977. 

A previously filmed version (The Last Man On Earth) paid more attention to the horror style of the original source material and a recent remake under the book's original title gave it some Hollywood gloss. This version will unfortunately fade into obscurity, despite being marginally better than the other films.


"You are one day closer to the end of the world."
"You are one day closer to the end of the world."


D: Richard Donner
20th Century Fox (Harvey Bernhard)
US 1976
111 mins
W: David Seltzer
DP: Gil Taylor
Ed: Stuart Baird
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
Gregory Peck (Robert Thorn), Lee Remick (Katherine Thorn), David Warner (Keith Jennings), Billie Whitelaw (Mrs. Baylock), Harvey Stevens (Damien Thorn)

A British politician and his wife adopt a child who shows signs of diabolical motivations and later emerges to be the antichrist.

Amongst the truly great horror films, mostly due to Jerry Goldsmith's sinister use of music, utilising a Latin chorus to give a sense of otherworldly dread (the legendary composer was rewarded with his only Oscar for his music on this film). The performances are also top notch, particularly from Gregory Peck & Lee Remick as the husband and wife who are redundant from stopping the evil power of a small child.

The final shot still remains one of the creepiest images dedicated to film.

Sequels, Damien: Omen II and The Final Conflict followed in 1978 and 1981, respectively, as well as a terrible TV movie (Omen IV) in 1991, featuring a female antichrist.



D: John Moore
20th Century Fox (Glenn Williamson & John Moore)
US 2006
110 mins
W: David Seltzer
DP: Jonathan Sela
Ed: Dan Zimmerman
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Julia Stiles (Katherine Thorn), Liev Schreiber (Robert Thorn), Mia Farrow (Mrs. Baylock), David Thewlis (Keith Jennings), Pete Posthelthwaite (Father Brennan), Michael Gambon (Bugenhagen), Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick (Damien Thorn)

Miscast, boring and needless remake of the 1976 movie which uses the same script but manages to lose all the tension, thrills and sense of foreboding dread.

It seems it was only made to coincide with the release date of 06/06/06.

One wonders how much intelligence it took for a Hollywood executive to think up that slice of 'absolute genius'. 

Skip this version, watch the original.



D: Steven Seagal
Warner Bros. (Steven Seagal & Julius R. Nasso)
US 1994
101 mins
W: Ed Horowitz & Robin U. Russin
DP: Ric Waite
Ed: Robert Ferreti & Don Brochu
Mus: Basil Poledouris
Steven Seagal (Forrest Taft), Joan Chen (Masu), Michael Caine (Michael Jennings), John C. McGinley (MacGruder), R. Lee Ermey (Stone), Shari Stattuck (Liles), Billy Bob Thornton (Homer Carlton)

An ecologically-minded action flick starring Steven Seagal as a former CIA agent turned ambassador for the Eskimos, killing all and sundry in his mission to stop the greed of a big oil corporation.

This "vision quest" picture is one of them brainless action films which, even with your brain removed while watching, makes little sense and is simply complete nonsense. The performance from Seagal is notoriously bad, but he can be forgiven since he isn't exactly a graduate from RADA. The real embarrassment involved in this debacle is Michael Caine, who clearly involved himself for the money.

"Growing up isn't easy at any age."
"Growing up isn't easy at any age."


D: Mark Rydell
Universal/ITC/IPC (Bruce Gilbert)
US 1981
109 mins
W: Ernest Thompson [based on his play]
DP: Billy Williams
Ed: Robert L. Wolfe
Mus: Dave Grusin
Henry Fonda (Norman Thayer), Katharine Hepburn (Ethel Thayer), Jane Fonda (Chelsea Thayer-Wayne), Doug McKeon (Billy Ray), Dabney Coleman (Bill Ray)

A tender, bittersweet comedy-drama starring Henry Fonda & Katharine Hepburn as an elderly, retired husband & wife who spend their summer at their New England lakeside cottage with their daughter & grandson.

Whilst the film doesn't have too much in the way of plot, the performances are absolutely fantastic, aided by the fact that real life a father-and-daughter pairing act alongside each other and bring the friction from their relationship in real life to the screen.

Henry Fonda died soon after the film's release, and received his only Best Actor Oscar for the performance, becoming the oldest actor to earn the accolade. Katharine Hepburn also won her fourth Best Actress Oscar, setting a record which still hasn't been bested.

D: Stanley Kramer
United Artists (Stanley Kubrick)
US 1959
134 mins

Drama/War/Science Fiction

W: John Paxton & James Lee Barrett [based on the novel by Nevil Shute]
DP: Giuseppe Rotunno & Daniel Fapp
Ed: Frederic Knudtson
Mus: Ernest Gold
PD: Rudolph Sternad

Gregory Peck (Cmmdr. Dwight Lionel Towers), Ava Gardner (Moira Davidson), Fred Astaire (Julian Osborn), Anthony Perkins (Lt. Cmmdr. Peter Holmes), Donna Anderson (Mary Holmes), John Tate (Adm. Bridie)

Following the atomic destruction left by the wake of World War III, a group of survivors aboard an American submarine set out to investigate where mankind can begin again.

From the synopsis, you'd be forgiven for expecting a much more interesting film. This is very much talking heads and preachy prophecy rather than envisaging any physical action.

Still, it was an important film at the time of its original release and remains one of the first doomsday movies.

Fred Astaire, away from the song-and-dance roles which made him a household name, delivers the finest performance in the ensemble piece.


D: Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
MGM (Arthur Freed)
US 1949
98 mins


W: Betty Comden & Adolph Green [based on the ballet "Fancy Free" by Leonard Bernstein]
DP: Harold Rosson
Ed: Ralph E. Winters
Mus: Lennie Hayton & Roger Edens

Gene Kelly (Gabey), Frank Sinatra (Chip), Jules Munshin (Ozzie), Vera-Ellen (Ivy Smith), Betty Garrett (Hildy Esterhazy), Ann Miller (Claire Huddeson)

A breakthrough musical for its time, discarding the strict set-bound approach which had previously dominated the genre in favour of filming on location in and around New York City, where a trio of sailors (Kelly, Sinatra & Munshin) enjoy their 24 hours leave from duty.

The memorable song and dance numbers give the film its longevity, and though the genre is practically defunct now, this is one which stands the test of time. Often parodied, never bettered.


D: Elia Kazan
Columbia (Sam Spiegel)
US 1954
108 mins


W: Budd Schulberg
DP: Boris Kaufman
Ed: Gene Milford
Mus: Leonard Bernstein
PD: Richard Day

Marlon Brando (Terry Malloy), Karl Malden (Father Barry), Lee J. Cobb (Johnny Friendly), Rod Steiger (Charley Malloy)Eva Marie Saint (Edie Doyle), Pat Henning ('Kayo' Dugan), Leif Erickson (Glover)

One of the all time classic crime pictures, featuring one of Marlon Brando's very best performances as a former prizefighter, who, following the death of his brother, breaks ranks with a mob-connected docklands Union boss.

There's since been much made of the "method" style of acting utilised by the performers in this film, amongst the first of its kind to use the practice and often imitated since.

Though much of the film feels old-fashioned, or a homage to gangland pictures of the 1930's, this is simply a must-watch for any cinema buff.


"How often do you find the right person?"
"How often do you find the right person?"

ONCE (15)

D: John Carney
Icon/Summit/Samson/Bord Scannán Na Héireann (Martina Niland)
Ireland 2006 (Released 2007)
83 mins
W: John Carney 
DP: Tim Fleming  
Ed: Paul Mullen
Mus: Glen Hansard & Markéta Írglová
Glen Hansard (Guy), Markéta Írglová (Girl), Bill Hodnett (Guy's Dad), Danuse Ktrestova (Girl's Mother)

A simple boy-meets-girl story set on the streets of Dublin, where a busker meets and falls for a Czech immigrant, also a musician, and together they record an album.

This ultra low-budget gem utilises a documentary, hand-held camera style to give it a convincing, raw and realistic edge. What the script lacks in way of dialogue it makes up for with the brilliant folk-rock songs, which all underpin the story's narrative perfectly.

Though the film was only a modest box office hit, it inspired a hugely successful stage musical.

"As boys they said they would die for each other. As men, they did."
"As boys they said they would die for each other. As men, they did."


D: Sergio Leone
Warner Bros./Embassy/Ladd (Arnon Milchan)
US 1984
228 mins
W: Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero de Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferrini & Sergio Leone [based on the novel "The Hoods" by David Aaronson]
DP: Tonino Delli Colli
Ed: Nino Baragli
Mus: Ennio Morricone
Robert DeNiro (David 'Noodles' Aaronson), James Woods (Max), Elizabeth McGovern (Deborah), Treat Williams (Jimmy O'Donnell), Tuesday Weld (Carol), Burt Young (Joe)

A vast, sprawling gangster epic filmed in the operatic style its director is renowned for. Once Upon A Time In America tells the story of a group of gangster friends and their rags-to-riches and back again lives, from their humble beginnings and petty crimes during the Roaring Twenties through to their eventual demise in 1968.

Despite being filmed as a singular entity, it's a film which could be best enjoyed in two sittings, with a good point halfway through the film to call an intermission.

The cast are all fantastic and the period detail evokes a nostalgic feeling, despite the story often having dark & lurid moments. Ennio Morricone deserves a special mention for his excellent music score.

Despite being considered one of the best gangster movies of all time, the film was a box office failure in the US upon its release, although this was mostly due to the studio releasing a heavily edited version.

"They time has come."
"They time has come."


D: Robert Rodriguez
Columbia/Dimension (Elizabeth Avellán, Carlos Gallardo & Robert Rodriguez)
US 2003
102 mins
W: Robert Rodriguez
DP: Robert Rodriguez
Ed: Robert Rodriguez
Mus: Robert Rodriguez
Antonio Banderas (El Mariachi), Salma Hayek (Carolina), Johnny Depp (Sheldon Jeffrey Sands), Mickey Rourke (Billy Chambers), Eva Mendes (Ajedrez Barillo), Danny Trejo (Cucuy), Enrique Iglesias (Lorenzo)

This sequel to El Mariachi/Desperado reunites director Robert Rodriguez with Antonio Banderas as the gunslinging outlaw, coming out of retirement to save the president of Mexico from assassination.     

There's some style in fits and starts, but overall this has about as much entertainment value as a cartoon. Johnny Depp steals the film as an eccentric assassin, but it's just all too silly to warrant any repeat viewings.



D: Sergio Leone
Paramount/Rafran/San Marco (Fulvio Morsella)
US/Italy 1969
165 mins
W: Sergio Leone & Sergio Donati
DP: Tonino Delli Colli
Ed: Nino Baragli
Mus: Ennio Morricone
Henry Fonda (Frank), Claudia Cardinale (Jill McBain), Jason Robards (Manuel 'Cheyenne' Gutierrez), Charles Bronson (Harmonica), Gabrielle Ferzetti (Mr. Morton), Keenan Wynn (Sheriff of Flagstone)

Following the success he had with his "Spaghetti Trilogy", Sergio Leone got his opportunity to direct a Western for a big Hollywood studio, and with it, delivered arguably the greatest film within the genre.

A notorious gunfighter in the old west has ambitions to be a wealthy businessman, and plans to drive a woman off her lands, which is also sought after by a railway company.

Though lengthy, Leone's work is a thoroughly professional piece of work. There are no good guys here, and the casting decision of Henry Fonda, a revered American icon, in the lead role of a violent opportunist, proved to be a work of genius.      

You'll need a bagful of patience to truly appreciate this, but it's entirely worth the while.

"Her only chance for the future is to embrace the power of the past."
"Her only chance for the future is to embrace the power of the past."
D: Lee Tamahori
Communicado/NZFC/Avalon (Robin Scholes)
New Zealand 1994
103 mins


W: Riwia Brown [based on the novel by Alan Duff]
DP: Stuart Dryburgh
Ed: Michael Horton
Mus: Murray Grindley & Murray McNabb

Rena Owen (Beth Heke),Temeura Morrison (Jake 'The Muss' Heke), Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell (Grace Heke), Julian Aharanga (Nig Heke), Cliff Curtis (Uncle Bully)

A brutally compelling & riveting drama about a New Zealand family of Maori descent and their struggle to cope with the dysfunctional family unit. Rena Owen delivers an excellent performance as the tortured soul mother of the family, married to an excessively violent thug of a father, unemployed and borderline alcoholic. Two of the sons are criminals and the eldest daughter is coming of age, finding escapism from her home troubles however she can.
The acting is absolutely excellent. Temuera Morrison as the father steals the show as an absolute brute of a man, but is by no means a one-dimensional character.
Apparently, this was a massive hit in its native New Zealand, out-grossing even Jurassic Park at the box office. 
It's a powerful movie to watch and is sometimes quite unpleasant with it's scenes of domestic violence and rape, but I'd recommend this movie to anyone.

"There was no crime in Star City, Arkansas. No murder. And no fear. Until now."
"There was no crime in Star City, Arkansas. No murder. And no fear. Until now."
D: Carl Franklin
IRS Releasing (Jesse Beaton & Ben Myron)
US 1992
105 mins
W: Billy Bob Thornton & Tom Epperson
DP: James L. Carter
Ed: Carole Kravetz
Mus: Peter Haycock, Derek Holt & Terry Plumeri
Bill Paxton (Dale 'Hurricane' Dixon), Cynda Williams (Lila 'Fantasia' Walker), Billy Bob Thornton (Ray Malcolm), Michael Beach (Lenny Franklin), Jim Metzler (Dud Cole)
A neat, though little seen, crime thriller and a solid directorial breakthrough from Carl Franklin.
The clashing police styles between West Coast and Middle America comes under study as three drug dealers are suspected to be heading to a small Arkansas town where local sheriff Bill Paxton tends to the flock.
Joined by two LA cops, Paxton is out of his depth with the investigation, his usual day-to-day activities normally consisting of calming down an argument between a pair of married hicks.
Paxton has ambition however, and despite being ridiculed by his Californian colleagues, is set to crack the case himself, leading to an unpredictable plot twist.
It's not the most glamorous crime film of the 90's, and didn't do much box office business, but all the performances are good, it's well written and very well directed. An obscure little gem.
D: Milos Forman
United Artists/Fantasy (Saul Zaentz & Michael Douglas)
US 1975
134 mins


W: Lawrence Hauben & Bo Goldman [based on the novel by Ken Kesey]
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Richard Chew, Lynzee Klingman & Sheldon Kahn
Mus: Jack Nitzsche

Jack Nicholson (Randall Patrick McMurphy), Louise Fletcher (Nurse Mildred Ratched), William Redfield (Harding), Michael Berryman (Ellis), Brad Dourif (Billy Bibbit), Will Sampson (Chief), Scatman Crothers (Turkle)

Based on Ken Kesey's novel, the film production rights were brought by veteran actor Kirk Douglas and sat in Hollywood limbo for over a decade until they were passed down to his son, Michael. Enlisting the help of producer Saul Zaentz, filming eventually begun in the mid-1970's and the finished product became one of the classic films not only of the decade, but all time, featuring a brilliant ensemble of performances which helped it win the "Big 5" Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress & Screenplay).

Jack Nicholson fits the beguiling character of Randall P. McMurphy like a glove, a charismatic rebel who feigns insanity so he can force a move from prison to a mental asylum in the hope that his sentence will be more lenient. 

During his time in hospital, he enlists the help of his fellow patients in stirring up trouble against the authorities, personified by the iron-fisted, dictatorial chief nurse, Mildred Ratched.

The material is tastefully handled by director Milos Forman, whose eye for camera makes the story feel like a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the on-goings inside a real-life mental asylum, rather than a fictional drama, and though the story turns rather downbeat in its final moments, the final scene is a startling and inspirational piece of movie magic.


"There's nothing more dangerous than a familiar face."
"There's nothing more dangerous than a familiar face."


D: Mark Romanek
20th Century Fox/Fox Searchlight/Catch 23/Killer/Madjak (Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler & Stan Wlodkowski)
US 2002
95 mins
W: Mark Romanek
DP: Jeff Cronenweth
Ed: Jeffrey Ford
Mus: Reinhold Heil & Johnny Klimek
Robin Williams (Sy Barrett), Connie Nielsen (Nina Yorkin), Michael Vartan (Will Yorkin), Gary Cole (Bill Owens), Dylan Smith (Jake Yorkin), Eriq La Salle (Det. James Van Der Zee)

Not quite the psychological thriller it's marketed as, far more a complex character study of infatuation and obsession, gripping though it is simply because of Robin Williams' strong central performance in a role which is very much against the actor's usual type. Aside from this performance, or had the casting been any other actor, this would be a rather forgettable, average movie.

On a separate note, it is photographed very well, with photography being one of the main plot devices in the story, but this is very much style over substance, with writer-director Mark Romanek showing some stylish flourishes with his debut feature, but there's much room for improvement.



D: Wolfgang Reitherman
Disney (Walt Disney)
US 1961
79 mins
W: Bill Peet [based on the novel by Dodie Smith]
Mus: George Bruns
voices of: Rod Taylor (Pongo), Cate Bauer (Perdita), Betty Lou Gerson (Cruella De Vil), Ben Wright (Roger Radcliffe), Lisa Davis (Anita Radcliffe)

Walt Disney's first animated feature of the 1960's is arguably the last true classic of the studio head's lifetime.  

Based on the novel by Dodie Smith, it gets its usual bit of Disney tweaking, with the usual songs added to tell the story of a pair of dogs who have to save their puppies from a cruel villainess who plans to use their skins for fashionable clothing.

Though the story is quite dark, in Disney's hands it's transformed into something perfectly apt for all the family. The songs aren't quite as memorable as other Disney works, but the animation is just fine, particularly on the dalmatians themselves and the brilliantly-realised London backgrounds.

"Every second counts."
"Every second counts."
127 HOURS (15)
D: Danny Boyle
Fox Searchlight/Pathé/Everest/Film4 (Danny Boyle, Christian Colson & John Smithson)
UK/US 2010
93 mins


W: Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy [based on the book "Between A Rock & A Hard Place" by Aron Ralston]
DP: Anthony Dod Mantle & Enrique Chediak
Ed: Jon Harris
Mus: A. R. Rahman

James Franco (Aron Ralston), Amber Tamblyn (Megan McBride), Kate Mara (Kristi Moore)

Based on a true story of a young, thrill-seeking adventurer trapped and alone during an intrepid rock-climb, 127 Hours expertly captures the claustrophobia, desperation and mania of a man quite literally caught between a rock and a hard place.
James Franco, an actor on the up, turns in a great performance as the adventurous Aron Ralston, slowly losing his mind as he contemplates how to escape his predicament.
Director Danny Boyle has dabbled with the kind of hallucinogenic style of display before (The Beach, Trainspotting)  but it does come off particularly well here.

"What happened in the onion field is true. But the real crime is what happened after."
"What happened in the onion field is true. But the real crime is what happened after."
D: Harold Becker
Black Marble (Walter Coblenz)
US 1979
126 mins


W: Joseph Wambaugh [based on his book]
DP: Charles Rosher
Ed: John W. Wheeler 
Mus: Eumir Deodato

John Savage (Karl Hettinger), James Woods (Gregory Powell), Franklyn Seales (Jimmy Smith), Ted Danson (Ian Campbell), Ronny Cox (Sgt. Pierce Brooks)

A slow-burning reenactment of a true crime event, though the real crime is the events which emerged in the aftermath.
A pair of police officers pull over a pair of petty crooks for a traffic offence and both cops find themselves abducted at gunpoint and driven to an onion field where the elder of the two men is shot in cold blood and though the other officer escapes death, he subsequently finds himself fired from the force for cowardice, while the two killers escape the death sentence by manipulating the justice system.
A small film of the late 1970's which has all but become completely obscure. Certainly worth a watch for fans of crime drama, with exceptional performances from John Savage, Ted Danson and particularly James Woods.

D: Nicolas Winding Refn
Space Rocket Nation/Gaumont/Bold (Lene Børglum)
Denmark/France 2013
90 mins 


W: Nicolas Winding Refn
DP: Larry Smith
Ed: Matthew Newman
Mus: Cliff Martinez

Ryan Gosling (Julian Thompson), Kristen Scott-Thomas (Crystal Thompson), Vithaya Pansringarm (Lt. Chang), Ratha Phongam (Mai), Tom Burke (Billy), Gordon Brown (Gordon)

Nicolas Winding Refn's follow up to 2011's Drive is all style over substance and a huge disappointment.
The plot is a rather average revenge story, set in Thailand, but pretentiously filmed and edited, despite beautifully picturesque photography, production design and other filmmaking elements. This counts for nothing when balanced against the confusing narrative and a lack of characters to associate with.
It's a certain audience splitter, as it proved when it debuted at Cannes. Those who loved it lauded it with praise, while it would be a huge surprise if those who hated it made it through the whole film at all.

"It's not what stands in front of you, it's who stands beside you."
"It's not what stands in front of you, it's who stands beside you."


D: Joseph Kosinski

Columbia/Black Label/Conde Nast (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Michael Menchel, Dawn Ostroff, Molly Smith & Jeremy Steckler)

US 2017

133 mins


W: Ken Nolan & Eric Warren Singer [based on the GQ article "No Exit" by Sean Flynn]

DP: Claudio Miranda

Ed: Billy Fox

Mus: Joseph Trapanese

Josh Brolin (Eric Marsh), Miles Teller (Brendan McDonough), James Badge Dale (Jesse Steed), Taylor Kitsch (Chris McKenzie), Jennifer Connelly (Amanda Marsh), Jeff Bridges (Duane Steinbrink), Andie MacDowell (Marvel Steinbrink), Natalie Hall (Natalie Johnson)

Quite often, when a film is based on true events, it can do a disservice to those who are portrayed, rather than pay tribute. This is not the case with Only The Brave, which tells the story of The Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of firefighters from Arizona who are on the front line of forest fire defence.

Headed by veteran firefighter Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), the film begins with the training for full accreditation of the team members, who think their chances are in jeopardy when rebellious junkie Brendan McDonough joins their ranks, hoping for a better life so he can bring up his newborn daughter so she can have the best chances in life.

The first hour focuses heavily on character development and the relationship of trust between the men, before they finally get their chance to prove themselves and subsequently become town heroes when they fend off the Yarnell Hill Fire, a destructive wildfire which came very close to taking an entire town in the summer of 2013.

The film does have some moments which are predictable, and could be easily summarised as Backdraft meets Top Gun, but it's really much more than that. 

Unfortunately, Only The Brave was only given a limited release in the UK, without much marketing to give it appeal, but, for me, this is amongst the best films of 2017, boasting solid performances, breathtaking cinematography and astonishing visual effects. An absolute must watch.


"A comedy for anyone who's ever had a mother."
"A comedy for anyone who's ever had a mother."


D: Chris Columbus
20th Century Fox (John Hughes & Hunt Lowry)
US 1991
104 mins
W: Chris Columbus
DP: Julio Macat
Ed: Raja Gosnell
Mus: Maurice Jarre 
John Candy (Danny Muldoon), Maureen O'Hara (Rose Muldoon), Ally Sheedy (Theresa Luna), Anthony Quinn (Nick Acropolis), James Belushi (Sal Buonarte)

Sitcom-stuff romance and a loose remake of 1955's Best Picture winner Marty, starring John Candy as an affable, heavy-set police officer who falls in love with a shy beautician and hides the relationship from his domineering mother, herself the object of affection from an amorous Greek neighbour.

Entertaining enough for its duration, with competent performances from the lead actor and love interest, but it's more notable for a return to the screen for actress Maureen O'Hara after a long hiatus. Everyone involved is capable of much better work though, and this is merely time-filler fluff.

D: Chris Kentis
Lionsgate/Plunge/Eastgate (Laura Lau & Estelle Lau)
US 2003 (released 2004)
79 mins


W: Chris Kentis
DP: Chris Kentis & Laura Lau
Ed: Chris Kentis
Mus: Graeme Revell

Blanchard Ryan (Susan Watkins), Daniel Travis (Daniel Kintner)

Open Water is a film which received some very mixed reviews upon its original release, but compared with many other Jaws-inspired, stranded-at-sea horror movies, it makes for a pleasant surprise.
The production qualities at the beginning make it look like a softcore porn movie but as soon as the action is solely located to the water, where a couple of scuba-divers become separated from the rest of their party as sharks circle around them, it becomes an atmospheric and realistic thriller which will have you on the edge of your seat, especially if you harbour a fear of sharks. 
The acting from the two principles was very good, especially Blanchard Ryan, not a well-known name, but her performance here really should have developed into a more successful career.
I also felt it was an incredibly brave decision to snub a Hollywood ending for something more downbeat. For me, this is what made the terror truly terrifying.


D: Don Roos
Sony/Rysher (David Kirkpatrick & Michael Besman)
US 1998
105 mins
W: Don Roos
DP: Hubert Taczanowski
Ed: David Codron
Mus: Mason Daring
Christina Ricci (Dedee Truitt), Martin Donovan (Bill Truitt), Lisa Kudrow (Lucia de Lury), Lyle Lovett (Carl Tippett), Johnny Galecki (Jason Bock), Ivan Sergei (Matt Mateo)

Christina Ricci takes the leap from juvenile actress to tarty adult performances with this edgy drama of a promiscuous young teenager who seduces and goes on the run with her gay brother's lover for financial gain.

The plot has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and the performance  of Ricci is excellent, though it's also Lisa Kudrow's spinsterish performance which makes a pleasant surprise. 

It's a shame the casting director also went with the decision of using Lyle Lovett, who delivers a pathetically unconvincing, wooden piece of "acting".



D: Matthew Meshekoff
Miramax/Spelling/Outlaw (Stanley M. Brooks & Robert Newmyer)
US 1993
86 mins
W: Noah Stern
DP: Jacek Laskus
Ed: Adam Weiss
Mus: Ira Newborn
Ayre Gross (David Crown), Courteney Cox (Carrie Davenport), Kevin Pollak (Eli), Julie Brown (Zoe)

He Said, She Said sitcom stuff following a pair of Jewish men who discuss their sexual conquests at length by breaking the fourth wall (i.e. direct to the audience)

There's nothing particularly memorable here, or funny, and may have worked better as a television comedy series rather than a feature film, especially when it all feels like it's trying to cash in on the success of When Harry Met Sally. High Fidelity (qv), based on the Nick Hornby novel, presents a much better, funnier story on similar themes.



D: Michael Anderson
Famous Films/Dino de Laurentiis (Luciano Vincenzoni)
US 1977
92 mins
W: Luciano Vincenzoni & Sergio Donati
DP: Ted Moore & J. Barry Herron
Ed: John Bloom, Marion Rothman & Ralph E. Winters
Mus: Ennio Morricone
Richard Harris (Capt. Nolan), Charlotte Rampling (Rachel Bedford), Will Sampson (Umilak), Keenan Wynn (Novak), Bo Derek (Annie)

One of umpteen attempts to cash-in on the success of Jaws (qv), mixing horror and thrills with an ecological theme as a killer whale takes revenge for its mate's death off the Newfoundland Coast.

All the performances are incredibly ropey, particularly Richard Harris who appears to ape Long John Silver with his role as a marine expert, although considering how bad the script is, it's a surprise any of the actors managed to deliver their lines with a straight face.

"Everything in it's proper place... Except the past."
"Everything in it's proper place... Except the past."


D: Robert Redford
Paramount/Wildwood (Ronald L. Schwary)
US 1980
124 mins
W: Alvin Sargent [based on the novel by Judith Guest]
DP: John Bailey
Ed: Jeff Kanew
Mus: Marvin Hamlisch
Donald Sutherland (Calvin Jarrett), Mary Tyler Moore (Beth Jarrett), Timothy Hutton (Conrad Jarrett), Judd Hirsch (Dr. Tyrone C. Berger), Elizabeth McGovern (Jeannine Pratt)

Ordinary People is a rather ordinary movie. Perhaps a controversial opinion considering this film was named Best Picture by the 1980 Academy Awards.

It's a drama about an affluent New England family trying to cope with the death of the eldest son.

The performances are all excellent, especially Timothy Hutton as the youngest son & brother of the deceased member, struggling in school and sent to a Jewish psychiatrist to overcome his grief.

It may well be a solid adaptation of Judith Guest's tearjerker novel, but perhaps the drama would've been more powerful had the family been less well-heeled and more like "ordinary people".

Robert Redford does a decent job turning from Hollywood leading man to director, but I honestly can't believe this was named Best Film of 1980 over Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull.

"There's something wrong with Esther."
"There's something wrong with Esther."


D: Jaume Collet-Serra
Warner Bros./Dark Castle (Joel Silver, Susan Downey, Leonardo DiCaprio & Jennifer Davisson Killoran)
US 2009
123 mins
W: David Leslie Johnson
DP: Jeff Cutter
Ed: Timothy Alverson
Mus: John Ottman
Vera Farmiga (Kate Coleman), Peter Sarsgaard (John Coleman), Isabelle Fuhrman (Esther), CCH Pounder (Sister Abigail), Jimmy Bennett (Danny Coleman)

Modern American horror movies just don't grab me, they don't hook me in, they don't give me a sense of dread or terror and for the most part, I find them quite boring. Occasionally there's a film which provides an exemption to these opinions, but Orphan isn't one of them.

The main bones of the child-from-hell movies have been done in various forms before, and there's a few tweaks here and there which give this a little originality, but that's about it.

The only good thing about this film is the performances, which are all fairly convincing considering the subject matter, but it's just another updated spin on the same old clichés which have been bandied about since The Bad Seed.

Some might find the twist in the tale quite original, but if you look closely for the clues throughout, it's pretty damn obvious what's going to happen.

An improvement on director Jaume Collet-Saura's previous effort (House Of Wax), but these are simply MTV horror movies for an MTV audience.

D: Juan Antonio Bayona
Warner Bros/Picturehouse (Mar Targarona, Joaquin Padro & Alvaro Augustin)
Spain 2007
105 mins


W: Sergio G. Sanchez
DP: Oscar Faura
Ed: Elena Ruiz
Mus: Fernando Velazquez
PD: Josep Rosell

Belén Rueda (Laura), Fernando Cayo (Carlos), Roger Princep (Símon), Montserrat Carulla (Beninga), Andrea Gertrudix (Enrique)

A woman moves into the orphanage where she lived as a child with her family, and soon comes to believe that her son has been kidnapped by the ghosts of her childhood playmates.
This effective Spanish chiller, reminiscent of The Innocents, The Others & 1982's Poltergeist does a terrific job in creating atmosphere through clever use of cinematography and music, as well as excellent leading performance from Belén Rueda.
The beginning and ending are brilliantly executed, and though the mid-section of the film does tend to drag, the scattering of jump scares and creepy moments makes up for the lagging of progression in the mystery.

"Sooner or later they will find you."
"Sooner or later they will find you."
D: Alejandro Amenábar
Buena Vista/Miramax/Escorpion (Fernando Bovaira, Jose Luis Cuerda & Summin Park)
US/Spain 2001
104 mins


W: Alejandro Amenábar 
DP: Javier Aguirresarobe 
Mus: Alejandro Amenábar 
PD: Benjamin Fernandez
Cos: Sonia Grande

Nicole Kidman (Grace Stewart), Christopher Eccleston (Charles Stewart), Fionnula Flanagan (Bertha Mills), Elaine Cassidy (Lydia), Eric Sykes (Edmund Tuttle), Alakina Mann (Anne Stewart), James Bentley (Nicholas Stewart)

A refreshingly original, stylish and intelligent horror movie from the mind of Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar.

Set during the late-1940's, a widowed mother of two young children who are allergic to sunlight experiences strange events in their rural country house, as the children claim they can see otherworldly spirits and other paranormal phenomena.

The film gets great strength from its dark and chilling style as well as brilliant performances from Nicole Kidman & the juvenile actors, who convince us of ghostly-goings on in the absense of actual on-screen poltergeists.


D: Sydney Pollack
Universal (Sydney Pollack)
US/UK 1985
150 mins


W: Kurt Luedtke [based on the writings of Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)]
DP: David Watkin
Ed: Frederic Steinkamp, William Steinkamp, Sheldon Kahn & Pembroke J. Herring
Mus: John Barry
PD: Stephen Grimes
Cos: Milena Canonero

Meryl Streep (Karen Von Blixen), Robert Redford (Denys Finch Hatton), Klaus Maria Brandauer (Baron Bror Von Blixen), Michael Kitchen (Berkeley Cole)

Quite easily the most boring film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture.
It's a biopic of a Baroness (Meryl Streep) who marries a man she doesn't love, moves to a coffee plantation in Kenya and embarks on an affair with free-spirited, wrinkly-faced game hunter Robert Redford.         
What aims to be an African version of Gone With The Wind takes an absolute age to get going and doesn't really do much when it gets there. Despite brilliant National Geographic style photography and great detail to early 20th century colonial Kenya it's all style and very little substance to engage the viewer.
Fans of period dramas or die hard Streep fans will enjoy this more than I did. I just sat wondering how this won 7 Oscars in a year when The Color Purple won none.

"Opposites attract."
"Opposites attract."


D: Steven Soderbergh
Universal/Jersey Films (Michael Shamberg, Danny DeVito & Stacey Sher)
US 1998
123 mins
W: Scott Frank [based on the novel by Elmore Leonard]
DP: Elliot Davis
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: Cliff Martinez
George Clooney (Jack Foley), Jennifer Lopez (Karen Sisco), Ving Rhames (Buddy Bragg), Don Cheadle (Maurice Miller), Dennis Farina (Marshall Sisco), Albert Brooks (Richard Ripley), Steve Zahn (Glenn Michaels) 

Steven Soderbergh's cool, suave take on this crime caper is almost a film noir with it's style, starring George Clooney & Jennifer Lopez as a bank robber and a US marshal, respectively, who fall in love despite being on opposite sides of the law.

Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard, it has sleek and chic stamped all over it with its zesty dialogue and vast spectrum of characters. The non-linear narrative  might pose a problem for some people to follow the story, but those who do will experience a thoroughly enjoyable and witty caper. 

Clooney does his usual schmoozy Cary Grant act to typical effect, but the real standout performer is Jennifer Lopez, with her finest acting work to date.

D: Scott Cooper
Relativity Media/Appain Way/Scott Free/Red Granite (Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Kavanaugh, Ridley Scott & Michael Costigan)
US 2013
116 mins


W: Scott Cooper & Brad Ingelsby
DP: Masanobu Takayanagi
Ed: David Rosenbloom
Mus: Dickon Hinchliffe

Christian Bale (Russell Baze), Casey Affleck (Rodney Baze, Jr.), Woody Harrelson (Harlan DeGroat), Willem Dafoe (John Petty), Forest Whitaker (Wesley Barnes), Zoë Saldana (Lena Taylor), Sam Shepard (Gerald Baze)

Out Of The Furnace is a study of the loyalties and bond between two brothers in a small Pennsylvania town. 
Russell Baze, the elder, follows in his father's footsteps of working at the town steel mill, while younger brother, Rodney Baze, an Iraq war veteran struggles to settle back into life, constantly finding himself in debt to a local small-time gangster.
After an accident involving death by drink driving, Russell serves time, released to the discovery that his ex-girlfriend is now in a relationship with the local sheriff and his brother is participating in bare-knuckle fights to earn his keep.
Rodney soon disappears after getting involved in a group of dangerous criminals in the Jersey hills, prompting Russell to take the law into his own hands.
A slow-burning thriller, which utilises excellent performance from its ensemble cast, Out Of The Furnace does drag a little in places, but also strikes comparisons with The Deer Hunter (qv). Only the ending disappoints.


D: Jacques Tourneur

RKO (Warren Duff)

US 1947

97 mins


W: Geoffrey Homes [based on his novel "Build My Gallows High"]

DP: Nicholas Musuraca

Ed: Samuel E. Beetley

Mus: Roy Webb

Robert Mitchum (Jeff Bailey), Jane Greer (Kathie Moffett), Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling), Rhonda Fleming (Meta Carson), Richard Webb (Jim)

One of the great film noir thrillers of the 1940's, moodily presented with Jacques Tourneur's usual atmospheric black and white photography. 

A former private detective, now living in a small town as a gas station attendant, has his past catch up with him when a gangster hired him to locate his homicidal girlfriend, who he subsequently falls in love with.

This is the film which catapulted both Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas onto the A-list, and though the film isn't quite as memorable as others released around the same time, it clearly created inspiration for some later films, as well as being remade (quite poorly) as Against All Odds in 1984.


"Try to remain calm."
"Try to remain calm."
D: Wolfgang Petersen
Warner Bros./Punch (Arnold Kopelson, Wolfgang Petersen & Gail Katz)
US 1995
127 mins


W: Laurence Dworet & Robert Roy Pool [based on the book "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Neil Travis, Lynzee Klingman & William Hoy
Mus: James Newton Howard

Dustin Hoffman (Col. Sam Daniels), Rene Russo (Roberta Keough), Morgan Freeman (Brig. Gen. Billy Ford), Donald Sutherland (Maj. Gen. Donald McClintock), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Maj. Salt), Kevin Spacey (Lt. Col. Casey Schuler)

After an African monkey carrying a fatal virus stows away to America, a deadly epidemic spreads around a small town which the US government quarantine whilst medical officers work around the clock to find a cure.

Outbreak is a good example of a generally good idea gone sour when Hollywood studios throw lots of money at it. The story gets more and more ridiculous as the film progresses, not helped by a pantomime bad guy character played by Donald Sutherland.

Dustin Hoffman and the rest of the cast are generally good with underwritten characters & there's very good use of cinematography from Michael Ballhaus, but aside from this, it's all rather average and incredibly unfeasible.


"On Jupiter's moon, something deadly is happening."
"On Jupiter's moon, something deadly is happening."


D: Peter Hyams
Warner Bros./Ladd (Richard Roth)
UK 1981
109 mins
Science Fiction/Thriller
W: Peter Hyams
DP: Stephen Goldblatt
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: Philip Harrison
Sean Connery (Marshall William T. O'Neil), Peter Boyle (Mark Sheppard), Frances Sternhagen (Dr. Marian Lazarus), James B. Sikking (Sgt. Montone), Kika Markham (Carol O'Neil)

Clearly inspired by the success of Star Wars, this sci-fi update of classic western High Noon relocates the setting to a mining colony on one of Jupiter's moons where security marshal Sean Connery investigates a series of suspicious deaths and uncovers a narcotics smuggling operation. 

Despite the sets and visual effects being quite dated, the story provides a very decent crime thriller with otherworldly locations with solid performances from its cast.

"...an army of one."
"...an army of one."
D: Clint Eastwood
Warner Bros/Malpaso (Robert Daley)
US 1976
135 mins


W: Philip Kaufman & Sonia Chernus [based on the novel "Gone To Texas" by Forrest Carter]
DP: Bruce Surtees
Ed: Ferris Webster
Mus: Jerry Fielding

Clint Eastwood (Josey Wales), Chief Dan George (Lone Watie), Sondra Locke (Laura Lee), Bill McKinney (Terrill), John Vernon (Fletcher)

The Outlaw Josey Wales is the ultimate revenge western. Directed by Clint Eastwood himself, but inspiration was clearly handed down from Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone.
Eastwood also stars as the title character, a Missouri farmer whose family is brutally murdered by Union soldiers during the American Civil War.  With vengeance on his mind, Wales joins the confederate army, but when his fellow soldiers surrender they are gunned down in cold blood and Wales becomes a target from the men who killed his family, but he still has revenge on his mind and finds a new sidekick in the form of Native American Lone Watie, who also wants a taste of revenge for what he has lost during the period of war.
The film was controversial at the time of release due to its violent content, but it seems very tame compared to modern releases. The film does feel a tiny bit on the lengthy side, but there isn't really a single moment which belongs on the cutting room floor.
Eastwood is excellent, but it's Chief Dan George who steals the film in the performance stakes. Everything else is top notch, from the screenplay to the cinematography, as well as Jerry Fielding's Oscar nominated music score.

D: Francis Ford Coppola 
Warner Bros./Zoetrope (Fred Roos & Gray Fredrickson)
US 1983
91 mins


W: Katherine Knutsen Rowell [based on the novel by S. E. Hinton]
DP: Stephen H. Burum
Ed: Anne Goursaud
Mus: Carmine Coppola 
PD: Dean Tavoularis

C. Thomas Howell (Ponyboy Curtis), Matt Dillon (Dallas Winston), Ralph Macchio (Johnny Cade), Patrick Swayze (Darrel Curtis), Rob Lowe (Sodapop Curtis), Emilio Estevez (Two-Bit Matthews), Tom Cruise (Steve Randle), Diane Lane (Cherry Valance)

A rather low-key project for director Francis Ford Coppola to get stuck into following the success of the first two Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now.

Based on S. E. Hinton's novel of juvenile delinquency and warring teenage gangs, the film serves quite well as a visual adaptation, boasting a young cast of actors, many of whom went on to become household names later on in the decade. 

The film went on to have modest commercial success before gathering a cult following, though considering the pedigree of the director, some might find it very disappointing in comparison to his other works and those who have read the book will appreciate it more over those who haven't.

Coppola also directed another of the same author's works  the very same year (Rumble Fish).


"Some fight for money. Some fight for glory. He's fighting for his son's love."
"Some fight for money. Some fight for glory. He's fighting for his son's love."
D: Menahem Golan
Cannon (Menahem Golan & Yoram Globus)
US 1987
93 mins


W: Stirling Silliphant & Sylvester Stallone
DP: David Gurfinkel
Ed: Don Zimmerman & James Symons
Mus: Giorgio Moroder

Sylvester Stallone (Lincoln Hawk), Robert Loggia (Jason Cutler), Susan Blakely (Christina Hawk), Rick Zumwalt (Bull Harley), David Mendenhall (Michael Hawk)

1987 was a rather terrible year for Cannon film productions, whose usual output was hastily-made, low-budget action films, but following their purchase of the rights to film Masters Of The Universe & Superman IV, both of which were emptying the coffers and they needed a hit, and quick.

Directed by the co-studio head, Israeli filmmaker Menahem Golan decided the best way to get some money back into the bank was with this formulaic story centred around the thuggish and brutal world of arm wrestling.

Sly Stallone, fresh from the set of the Rocky films, stars as Lincoln Hawk (seriously), a truck driver who participates in arm wrestling competitions and vies to win the love & respect of his son the only way he knows how, by winning another competition. 

The film did reasonably well for the studio, despite the fact that it's mindless crap, even for guilty pleasure stuff, with some truly odious acting performances.


D: Garry Marshall
UIP/MGM (Alexandra Rose & Anthea Sylbert)
US 1987
112 mins


W: Leslie Dixon
DP: John A. Alonzo
Ed: Dov Hoenig & Sonny Baskin
Mus: Alan Silvestri

Goldie Hawn (Joanna Stayton/Annie Proffitt), Kurt Russell (Dean Proffitt), Edward Herrmann (Grant Stayton III), Katherine Helmond (Edith Mintz), Roddy McDowell (Andrew)

Starring the real-life couple of Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, it's a bit of an in-joke that at the start of this comedy-romance, they don't get on. In fact, they do rather hate each other.

Hawn plays a spoilt heiress who hires Russell for some carpentry work, but after she reneges on payment he wants some revenge, and finally gets it when he convinces her that she's his wife after she suffers amnesia, using her to look after his unruly kids whilst he goes about his business.

The film is generally good fun, played for laughs and utilises the chemistry between its screen partnership to good effect.



D: Julius Avery

Paramount/Bad Robot (J.J. Abrams & Lindsey Weber)

US 2018

110 mins


W: Billy Ray & Mark L. Smith

DP: Laurie Rose & Fabian Wagner

Ed: Matt Evans

Mus: Jed Kurzel

Jovan Adepo (Pvt. Boyce), Wyatt Russell (Cpl. Ford), Mathilde Ollivier  (Chloe), John Magaro (Tibbet), Pilou Asbæk (Wagner)

Set during the build up to the D-Day Landings during World War II, the plot follows a small platoon of Paratroopers who land in a small French village where their mission is to destroy a radio tower in an old church, however, it emerges that not all is as it seems as secret experiments in the catacombs unleash a biological weapon which the Nazi's plan to yield... an army of undead soldiers.

Nazi zombies may sound like something from a cheesy 80's flick directed by John Carpenter, but it is done quite effectively in this 2018 movie, although with a bit too much seriousness than was actually needed.

The cast are generally good, particularly Mathilde Ollivier as a French village girl whose family have been affected by the experiments and there's plenty of grizzly gore and shock moments which put this a cut above most horrors released by major Hollywood studios nowadays. 

Some of the visual effects are a little ropey, but the  majority of the practical and makeup effects make up for this, and it's refreshing to see in an age of CGI.

Merging genres doesn't always come off (as seen in 2011's Cowboys & Aliens), but it does work quite well here... although some theories tying this into the Cloverfield movies (also produced by J.J. Abram's company Bad Robot) or Marvel's Captain America stories come up way too short. It wasn't that good, fanboys.


D: Sam Raimi
Disney (Joe Roth)
US 2013
130 mins
W: Mitchell Kapner & David Lindsey-Abaire [based on characters created by L. Frank Baum]
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Bob Murawski 
Mus: Danny Elfman
James Franco (Oscar 'Oz' Diggs), Mila Kunis (Theodora), Rachel Weisz (Evanora), Michelle Williams (Glinda), Zach Braff (voice of Finley), Joey King (voice of China Girl), Bill Cobbs (Master Tinker), Tony Cox (Knuck)
I was expecting this to be as overblown as the incredibly disappointing Alice In Wonderland, but the truth is, it was actually rather good.     
A prequel to The Wizard Of Oz was always going to be a challenge, but director Sam Raimi adds the right blend of magic & fantasy to a rather decent story of a carnival charlatan who ends up in a strange land and finds himself to be the oft-fabled wizard.
I'm not sure if this story has any basis in L. Frank Baum's original works, but it works here and the visuals are stunning.
The only negatives are some of the casting choices. James Franco was a bit of a creepy lethario as the wizard, but the real miscast performer was Mila Kunis, fine at the start of the film, but her voice doesn't ring true to the character the more that you hear it.
Still, despite a couple of little snags, this is a much better film than the awful Return To Oz (qv) from the 1980's.