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).
OCEAN'S 8 (12)
D: Gary Ross
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Smoke House (Steven Soderbergh & Susan Ekins)
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.
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.
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.
OCEAN'S THIRTEEN (PG)
D: Steven Soderbergh
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Section Eight (Jerry Weintraub)
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.
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.
OF MICE & MEN (PG)
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.
OF MICE & MEN (12)
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.
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (15)
D: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Paramount/Dreamworks/Reliance/Bluegrass (Scott Stuber, Guymon Casady & Daniel Rappaport)
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.
OFFICE SPACE (15)
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).
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.
OH HEAVENLY DOG (PG)
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.
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).
THE OLD DARK HOUSE (PG)
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.
THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (15)
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)
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.
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.
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.
THE OMEN (18)
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.
THE OMEN (18)
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.
ON DEADLY GROUND (15)
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.
ON GOLDEN POND (PG)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (18)
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.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (18)
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.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (15)
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.
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.
ONE HOUR PHOTO (15)
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.
ONE HUNDRED & ONE DALMATIANS (101 DALMATIANS) (U)
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.
ONLY THE BRAVE (12)
D: Joseph Kosinski
Columbia/Black Label/Conde Nast (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Michael Menchel, Dawn Ostroff, Molly Smith & Jeremy Steckler)
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.
ONLY THE LONELY (PG)
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.
THE OPPOSITE OF SEX (15)
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".
THE OPPOSITE SEX & HOW TO LIVE WITH THEM (15)
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.
ORCA: KILLER WHALE (15)
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.
ORDINARY PEOPLE (15)
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.
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.
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.
OUT OF SIGHT (15)
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.
OUT OF THE PAST (aka BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH) (PG)
D: Jacques Tourneur
RKO (Warren Duff)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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)
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.