PACIFIC HEIGHTS (15)
One of the first entries in a thriller sub-genre which seemed to saturate the early 1990's. It works reasonably well due to Michael Keaton's subtly chilling performance as a nightmare tenant who makes a young couples life hell when he moves into the spare room of their luxurious three-storey semi, using every trick in the book to withhold paying any rent before his true psychopathic tendencies come to the forefront.
The finale descends into cliched and formulaic melodrama which the build up didn't deserve, harming what could have been a very good psychological thriller, despite some very good performances from its cast throughout.
PACIFIC RIM (12)
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (12)
D: Steven S. DeKnight
Universal/Legendary (Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Guillermo del Toro, John Boyega, Femi Oguns, Thomas Tull & Jon Jashni)
W: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder & T.S. Nowlin [based on characters created by Travis Beacham]
DP: Dan Mindel
Ed: Zach Staenberg, Dylan Highsmith & Josh Schaeffer
Mus: Lorne Balfe
John Boyega (Jake Pentecost), Scott Eastwood (Nate Lambert), Cailee Spaeny (Amara Namani), Jing Tian (Liwen Shao)
I wasn't a huge fan of the first Pacific Rim, but the general consensus seemed to enjoy it - which is fine, I can't speak for everyone, I can only speak for myself. With that in mind, it was unlikely I was going to enjoy this sequel... and I didn't. It was everything I didn't like about the first film, except it was much, much worse.
Following on from the robots vs monsters war in the first film, John Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba's character in the original movie, a scavenger who harvests robot technology and sells them on the black market. Arrested for his illegal activity, he is forced back into the military robot unit as a new war rages between human controlled robots and other units which are controlled by the enemy.
Even for a movie where robots fight other robots for practically the entire duration, this is pretty dull, seemingly gravitating more to a Transformers fanbase rather than being its own thing. I honestly think, if you want to see robots fighting each other, watch Real Steel (qv), easily the best film of this type.
PADDINGTON 2 (PG)
D: Paul King
Studio Canal/Heyday (David Heyman)
W: Paul King & Simon Farnaby [based on characters created by Michael Bond]
DP: Erik Wilson
Ed: Mark Everson & Jonathan Amos
Mus: Dario Marianelli
Hugh Bonneville (Henry Brown), Sally Hawkins (Mary Brown), Hugh Grant (Phoenix Buchanan), Brendan Gleeson (Knuckles McGinty), Julie Walters (Mrs. Bird), Jim Broadbent (Samuel Gruber), Ben Whishaw (voice of Paddington Bear)
The first Paddington movie was a pleasant surprise when it was released in 2014, well received by audiences and critics alike.
This 2017 sequel doesn't match the original for story or humour, but is still great, clean family entertainment.
Now settled with the Brown family in England, Paddington attempts to get a job so he can buy a birthday present for his Aunt in Peru, and after a bad experience working in a barber shop, he finds success as a window cleaner. Trouble strikes when he witnesses a robbery of Gruber's Antiques Shop, but it's Paddington who is arrested and sentenced for the crime. The Brown family attempt to clear his name on the outside by finding the real culprit, while Paddington struggles with his life behind bars.
All the cast are just fine, especially Ben Whishaw, who is the perfect voice actor to portray Paddington, bringing much humanity to the CGI bear. It's not the type of film which will be queuing up for little gold men come awards season, but it's a perfect film for a family to snuggle around on a cold, wintry weekend.
PANIC ROOM (15)
Jodie Foster & a young Kristen Stewart star as the mother and daughter who hide in a bunker-like safe room when a group of robbers break into their opulent house.
A decent low-key thriller from director David Fincher, whose use of clever camerawork and editing intensify the action set mostly in a single principal location.
It's not quite as good as the filmmaker's best work (Se7en, Fight Club), but the story is all the better for him behind the lens.
THE PAPER CHASE (PG)
A Harvard law student falls in love with the divorced daughter of his crotchety, peevish professor.
This is a good example of one great performance making a movie, with John Houseman stealing it away from every other cast member. Aside from this performance, the film isn't particularly special and certainly wouldn't be as memorable.
A television series followed, running for four seasons.
PAPER MOON (PG)
During the Great Depression in mid-west America, a shady bible salesman and a young girl (who may or may not be his daughter) make a great team of confidence tricksters, travelling through Kansas on the grift and making a small fortune with small-time hustles before they ultimately bite off more than they can chew.
The film works best by using the real-life father & daughter partnership of Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, with the latter upstaging her dad in virtually every scene. It's probably Oscar fraud that 10-year-old Tatum was nominated as a supporting actress for a lead performance, but it's something which happens frequently to guarantee a win, which the juvenile performance certainly deserved.
Director Peter Bogdanovich utilises black and white photography to great effect, not only to capture the period to convincing effect, but in his own words to accentuate the brilliant performances. Tatum O'Neal definitely steals the show.
From the French word for "Butterfly" and the book by Henri Charìerre, this prison drama is on lengthy side and the pacing does come to the screen rather slowly, the reasoning behind which is so the audience can better engage and empathise with the prisoners' incarceration on a dismal, austere and desolate penal colony.
Steve McQueen & Dustin Hoffman play two prisoners incarcerated on the notoriously inescapable Devil's Island, they strike up an unlikely friendship and plot to fly from the roost.
The two main performances are faultless and though a little of the slow-building narrative could have been curtailed, the film still holds up as a classic over four decades later.
Using a bit of movie magic, clever photography and seamless editing techniques the audience gets two Hayley Mills performances for the price of one.
The juvenile actress plays both roles of a pair of twins, separated following their parents split, but reunited at a summer camp. They then switch places in a ploy to reunite their family.
It's typical of the clean family fun you'd expect from Disney during the 1960's, and though certain elements, like the fashion of the time, are now quite dated, the performance of its lead star maintain its watchability, especially for a rainy Bank Holiday afternoon.
Remake of the above with Lindsay Lohan stepping into the shoes of the dual role played originally by Hayley Mills.
The fashion, jokes, decor and even the characters' names get a rejig for a 1990's audience, yet it still feels like a "been there, done that" venture. Those who haven't seen the original (or simply don't remember it) will enjoy it more.
It's a fairly enjoyable remake, but the 1961 version seems to encapsulate more of the 'Disney magic'.
The members of the incredibly dysfunctional Buckman family have various issues with their children, grandchildren, siblings, pregnancies and even their own parents.
The stories in this ensemble piece and various comedy styles clash quite badly, with the whole being much less than the sum of all its parts. The most interesting story concerns Dianne Wiest disapproving of her daughter's slacker boyfriend (Keanu Reeves) whilst she's also having problems with her rebellious teenage son (Phoenix).
Fans of Steve Martin get a chance to see him doing some of his usual wackiness, but it really doesn't fit in this movie, as he and his wife Mary Steenburgen have problems with their own troubled son.
The performances can't be faulted and everyone gets a good chance to flex some acting muscles, some just come off much better than others.
A short-lived television series inspired by the film emerged in the early 1990's, followed by another in 2010 which ran for several seasons.
PARIS, TEXAS (15)
D: Wim Wenders
Road Movies/Argos (Anatole Dauman & Don Guest)
West Germany/France 1984
W: Sam Shepard & L.M. Kit Carson [based on a story by Sam Shepard]
DP: Robby Müller
Ed: Peter Przygodda
Mus: Ry Cooder
Harry Dean Stanton (Travis Henderson), Dean Stockwell (Walt Henderson), Aurore Clement (Anne Henderson), Nastassja Kinski (Jane Henderson)
Wim Wenders brings his own visual style of poetry to the screen for Paris, Texas, which is practically a shaggy dog story in which an amnesiac attempts to reconnect with his life.
The film opens with Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) wandering around the desert near the town where he was born and subsequently reunites with his brother and later embarks on a journey to find his missing wife, now working in a sex trade.
The film doesn't have a conventional narrative like others, but instead draws on visual themes and mis-en-scene to allow the story to unfold. It's an acquired taste, but enough people enjoyed it enough to bestow it with the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival.
The visual style, cinematography and Ry Cooder's music are excellent, and the final act does provide some fine dialogue.
PARTY MONSTER (18)
Weird biopic of party organiser Michael Alig, whose reputation and career spiralled downwards as he became involved in drug-use and murder.
This film seemed far more intent on relaunching the flagging career of former child star Macauley Culkin rather than telling a gripping story. In the end, it does neither.
Apparently, the book is far more interesting, but that doesn't excuse why the film is so poor.
David Lean's final film, though you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a Merchant-Ivory production, the great director makes a labour of love from his adaptation of E. M. Forster's novel, getting involved in all aspects of the production through to the editing room.
Set in British colonial India at the turn of the 20th century, a British woman accuses an Indian doctor of sexually molesting her during a caving expedition.
It's well documented that E. M. Forster's original novel made the point very clear of the author's hatred of British presence in the country during this time, though these politics are mostly brushed aside for the powerful acting performances to tell the story instead. This won't be a winner for everyone, particularly those who don't especially care for period dramas, but it proved a winner at 1984's awards festivals, particularly the Oscars, who named it amongst their nominees for the Best Picture of the year.
PASSENGER 57 (15)
Die Hard on an aeroplane, starring Wesley Snipes as an ass-kicking sky marshal who happens to be sat in seat 57 when a psychopath takes control of the flight in order to escape custodial sentence.
All the usual Hollywood blockbuster clichés are present, from cheesy one-liners ("always bet on black") during the action scenes to a tacked-on love interest in the form of a feisty flight attendant. Even the main villain puts on an unconvincing British accent so even sight-impaired viewers can be clear that it's a Hollywood action movie.
The ridiculous ending abandons the idea of a mid-air frenzy in favour of a shootout at a fairground. It's just one of those brainless movies, folks.
Personally, I think the title would have worked better if the maniac was the passenger in seat 57 and Wesley Snipes was in a totally different movie.
D: Morten Tyldum
Columbia/Village Roadshow/Start (Stephen Hamel, Michael Maher, Neal H. Moritz & Ori Marmur)
W: Jon Spaihts
DP: Rodrigo Prieto
Ed: Maryann Brandon
Mus: Thomas Newman
PD: Guy Hendrix Dyas
Chris Pratt (Jim Preston), Jennifer Lawrence (Aurora Lane), Michael Sheen (Arthur), Laurence Fishburne (Chief Gus Mancuso)
Passengers is far more enjoyable the less you think about it, without pulling apart any morality lessons it fails to address.
Jon Spaihts screenplay had been sitting dormant for several years waiting for a studio to pick it up, and it's quite obvious that there was studio involvement in the plot, but as mentioned above, the less you allow certain things to bother, the more entertaining the film will be.
Set aboard a long-distance spacecraft, an engineer, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), is awoken from his hyper-sleep chamber 90 years early due to a malfunction. Realising he is doomed to die alone on the ship with nobody for company but an android bartender, he ponders waking another passenger up, knowing fully well that they will face the same fate of never reaching the ultimate destination.
He awakens writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), and the two begin a romance beyond the stars until the truth is uncovered, leading to a conflict between the two of them, which has to be put aside when they realise that the ship is more damaged than they originally thought, and the must work together to save the lives of the other 5,000 people on board.
There is much to enjoy about Passengers, not only with its fine visual effects, production design, cinematography and acting performances, but also with Morden Tyldum's direction, which draws inspiration from many science-fiction classics such as Silent Running, Solaris and 2001, as well as having a wink at The Shining with the scenes involving Michael Sheen's android barman and the empty bar (almost mirroring The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's classic horror).
The only real blight of this film is that it really doesn't address the moral issue it raises, and skirts around it in favour of Hollywood romance, ignoring the crime and the creepiness. At least Jennifer Lawrence may be thankful that she gets to spend the rest of her life alone with Chris Pratt, rather than, say, Chris Griffin...
Mel Gibson caused much controversy around the time of this film's release, not just due to the on-screen content of the picture, but also due to his anti-Semitic rants.
His personal comments aside, The Passion Of The Christ is a brutally powerful piece of work. The final hours of the life of Jesus Christ are brought before our eyes with a stomach-churning, visceral conviction. All the spoken dialogue is in Latin & Aramaic, though there's not much dialogue going on, rather visual horror unfolding before our eyes with the events leading up to Christ's crucifixion.
Whether or not you're a religious person shouldn't matter too much, though it would probably be best to avoid the film at all costs if you're devoutly religious, it certainly isn't Sunday viewing to be paired with TV's Songs of Praise. Claims that it's a blasphemous depiction of events are a bit harsh, but it's certainly an unforgettable experience.
A doctor attempts to promote his theory that "laughter is the best medicine" by setting up his own hospital where he puts this into practice, much to the chagrin of his superiors.
This mawkish "comedy" neglects the humble task of actually including any jokes, or even settling for bittersweet laughs, in favour of boastfully preaching about the positive benefits laughter has on the kidneys. The fact that it's actually based on a true story is baffling.
Even with the talented Robin Williams in the lead role, it fails miserably on all levels, though he can't be blamed for the clichéd script full of pantomime villains and cardboard support.
Perhaps it has its heart in the right place, but it's a painful watch with a twisted moral which seems to say that it's okay to laugh at suffering people.
One of the finest anti-war films ever made, meticulously directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Set in 1916, three French officers are court-martialled for cowardice. A crime for which they'll face death by firing squad.
This powerful melodrama begins in the battlefields & the trenches, with the most vivid scenes captured on film for its time. The final half of the film focuses on the plight of the soldiers with a subplot of incompetence & corruption amongst the more decorated officers, who would never be made culpable for the failed mission.
The performances of the cast are fantastic, with the trio who play the doomed soldiers especially gut-wrenching. Kubrick actually broke ground by filming in real-life locations, clearly inspired by French new wave filmmaking around the same time, and though this posed problems with sound recording and lighting, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a relatively smooth shoot. The photography, set design and direction work very well poetically.
The final 5 minutes should leave a tear in the eye of even the hardest of hearts.
PATRIOTS DAY (15)
D: Peter Berg
Lionsgate/CBS/Bluegrass/Closest To The Hole (Scott Stuber, Dylan Clark, Christian E. Christiansen, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Hutch Parker, Dorothy Aufiero, Stephen Stapinski & Michael Radutzky)
W: Peter Berg, Matt Cook & Joshua Zetumer [based on the book "Boston Strong: A City's Triumph Over Tragedy" by Casey Sherman & Dave Wedge]
DP: Tobias A. Schliessler
Ed: Gabriel Fleming & Colby Parker, Jr.
Mus: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Mark Wahlberg (Sgt. Tommy Saunders), John Goodman (Commissioner Ed Davis), J.K. Simmons (Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese), Michelle Monaghan (Carol Saunders), Kevin Bacon (Agent Richard DesLauriers), Vincent Curatola (Mayor Thomas Menino)
Patriots Day is based around the true events of the 2013 bombing during the Boston Marathon and subsequent terrorist manhunt, but with its hefty injection of Hollywood action, the script could easily have been recycled as a sequel to the Die Hard or Lethal Weapon movies.
The film spends a little time focusing on principal characters, including Tommy Saunders, a suspended police sergeant who was on the finish line when the bombs exploded, as well as a handful of the victims of the fateful day. Bafflingly, the film also dedicates time to the terrorists, who are very one-dimensionally written when the main focus of the movie really should have been on the heroes, rather than the antagonists.
It is very well produced, but the screenplay makes attempts to be humorous, which is a little tasteless considering the material.
A worthwhile watch, but a more serious approach would have gone down a lot better.
Not quite as enjoyable or funny as Shaun Of The Dead or Hot Fuzz, as this comedy partnership of Simon Pegg & Nick Frost seems squarely aimed at an American audience while their previous films catered mainly for an English sense of humour.
The rather low-key story sees the two playing a pair of tourists on a road trip with a stoner alien in tow.
There's some smart in-jokes to science fiction and Spielberg movies and it was a miniature stroke of genius to cast Seth Rogen as the voice of the pot-smoking, foul-mouthed alien.
PAUL BLART: MALL COP (12)
The TV sitcom "King of Queens" was quite enjoyable in fits & starts, and certainly easy to watch over a bowl of cereal at 7am (the time it was often screened in the UK), but for Kevin James to be rewarded with its television run with rubbish juvenile comedies like this is beyond generous.
As a bumbling security guard who wasn't good enough for the police force, he foils a robbery in his shopping precinct and pulls some dick & fart jokes on the way.
As low-brow as they come, but it was successful enough at the cinema to warrant a sequel (the reason why is beyond my logic).
PAY IT FORWARD (12)
The Citizen Kane of "Oscar bait" movies, even told in a round-the-house non-linear narrative as a reporter is on the mysterious case of people doing nice things for complete strangers to discover what the hell is going on in 21st century America. People being nice to each other? What kind of witchcraft is this?
The source happens to be a schoolboy who invents "good deeds" as the homework assignment his teacher requested when he asked his pupils to think of ways to make the world a better place.
The story has its heart in the right place and may have the big puppy dog eyes and wag its tail incessantly, but the sheer mawkish cheesiness of it all makes it impossible to provoke a real emotional reaction. A good idea is lost here, better writing and better direction could have made a better movie.
The trite love story from Titanic (qv) is given a fresh makeover with the location transferred from the decks of the doomed ship to the naval base of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in the days leading up to the Japanese attack.
Two pilots, friends since childhood, fall for a beautiful nurse at the base and fight with each other shortly before they take to the skies and kick the ass of the Japs.
As a history lesson, this film is the worst kind of bad and as a love story it's even worse. At least there's something positive to say about the film, in the shape of convincing production design, visual effects and some beautifully picturesque photography, but it's unfortunately not enough. The screenplay is as shocking as the performances, which sees Ben Affleck doing his finest example of "smell the fart acting" and Jon Voight portraying Franklin D. Roosevelt as though it's some kind of personal insult to the former president. It's just about what you'd expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer-Michael Bay collaboration.
PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (PG)
America's favourite weirdo of the 1980's gets into a right pickle and experiences many high jinks while trying to relocate his stolen bicycle.
The main character of Pee-Wee Herman, a grown man who acts like a 6-year-old, will most likely strike anyone over the age of 10 as simply irritating and though this vehicle gave its star and director a breakthrough into cinema, it's very much a product of its time and hasn't dated well at all.
Back To The Future's more serious cousin, released a year after the blockbuster hit, plays out like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone.
Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) attends her 25th high school reunion and finds herself whisked back to the early 1960's, where she relives her school days.
The film is a strange choice for director Francis Ford Coppola, whose studio was still reeling from a string of box office bombs, but the director has a good eye for nostalgia, helped by production design, costumes and photography which perfectly capture the period.
The time travel element of this fantasy will suffer if compared to the previous year's hugely successful Back To The Future (qv), it's a completely different spin on a similar story.
Kathleen Turner is just perfect as the lead character, revisiting her past life and reunited with her family and old friends. The only duff performance is from Nicolas Cage, who bizarrely delivers all his lines with a ridiculously squeaky voice.
THE PELICAN BRIEF (15)
The 1990's saw many of John Grisham's novels adapted into blockbuster thrillers, of which The Pelican Brief was the first to get the Hollywood makeover.
Unlike the rest of the authors work, this is more political than courtroom-orientated, which might be a little disappointing if you were expecting judges and juries.
Julia Roberts plays a law student whose thesis speculates upon the motives behind the recent assassinations of two leading magistrates. Cages are rattled and she finds her own life in the crosshairs, whilst an investigative journalist presses for her story so he can uncover those responsible.
If US politics isn't your bag, this film will hold little to no interest, as action, thrills and tension takes a back seat for a more conversational-driven stance. The A-list cast ensured box office success, but in all honesty, it's a very disappointing and average piece of work, mundanely directed with none of the performances from the ensemble cast pushing any boundaries.
PETER RABBIT (PG)
D: Will Gluck
Sony/Columbia/Olive Bridge/Animal Logic/Screen Australia (Will Gluck & Zareh Nalbandian)
W: Rob Lieber & Will Gluck [based on characters created by Beatrix Potter]
DP: Peter Menzies, Jr.
Ed: Christian Gazal
Mus: Dominic Lewis
Domhnall Gleeson (Thomas McGregor / voice of Jeremy Fisher), Rose Byrne (Bea / voice of Jemima Puddleduck), Sam Neill (Mr. McGregor / voice of Tommy Brock)
voices of: James Corden (Peter), Daisy Ridley (Cottontail), Margot Robbie (Flopsy)
With the success of Paddington still fresh in the minds of studio executives, they thought it best to strike when the iron is hot and cashed in on Beatrix Potter's much cherished animal characters, seemingly perfect to market for the 2018 Easter holidays.
Unfortunately, the only thing this movie has in common with the original source are the names of the animals, everything else is just juvenile slapstick and lazy writing.
Voiced by the immediately irritating and ridiculously miscast James Corden, Peter Rabbit is an unruly bunny who constantly steals vegetables from the garden of the elderly Mr. McGregor, despite the warnings of his family.
When the old man dies, his young fastidious nephew, Thomas, moves in and is immediately greeted by a mess left by the pesky rabbit and his farmyard friends, starting a war between man and bunny which sees peacetime when pretty neighbour Bea becomes Thomas' love interest.
Everything about this film is a cash grab, doing away with everything beloved about Beatrix Potter's story for something that'll entertain young children, which it will, but it will leave many adults feeling shortchanged.
Personally, I would have enjoyed it a lot more if James Corden's smug, obnoxious voice was replaced with myxomatosis.
THE PHANTOM (PG)
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (PG)
D: Arthur Lubin
Universal (George Waggner)
W: Erich Taylor & Samuel Hoffenstein [based on the novel by Gaston Leroux]
DP: Hal Mohr & W. Howard Greene
Ed: Russell Schoengarth
Mus: Edward Ward
PD: John B. Goodman & Alexander Golitzen
Cos: Vera West
Nelson Eddy (Anatole Garron), Susanna Foster (Christine DeBois), Claude Rains (Enrique Claudin), Edgar Barrier (Inspector Raoul de Chagny), Leo Carillo (Signor Feretti)
This elaborately expensive and luxuriantly produced version of Phantom Of The Opera is quite beautiful to look at, but doesn't capture the horror element of Gaston LaRoux's original novel, draining out the suspense, fear and mystery to its focus on music and (to a lesser extent) subtle comedy.
Still, considering the film was produced in 1943, the rich cinematography and production design has held up incredibly well over the decades.
Set at a Paris opera house, a once-successful violinist, deformed with acid and living as a phantom in the catacombs beneath the building becomes obsessed with a young soprano named Christine, and manipulates the events which occur above him to ensure her a successful career and create a romance between the two of them, but she has no knowledge of his existence.
Though the film boasts opulent sets, costumes and incredibly beautiful photography, the pacing does drag and there's no great payoff.
Universal Studios spared no expense bringing it to the screen, and though the plot would have been enough for 1940's audience, it's specifically this aspect of the film which fails to hold up to modern standards.
PHANTOM THREAD (15)
D: Paul Thomas Anderson
Focus Features/Annapurna/Perfect World (Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, JoAnne Sellar & Daniel Lupi)
W: Paul Thomas Anderson
DP: Paul Thomas Anderson (uncredited)
Ed: Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Jonny Greenwood
PD: Mark Tildesley
Cos: Mark Bridges
Daniel Day-Lewis (Reynolds Woodcock), Vicky Krieps (Alma Elson), Lesley Manville (Cyril Woodcock), Camilla Rutherford (Johanna), Gina McKee (Countess Henrietta Harding), Brian Gleason (Dr. Robert Hardy), Harriet Samson Harris (Barbara Rose)
It's a huge shame that Daniel Day-Lewis announced his retirement from acting prior to the release of this film, before Paul Thomas Anderson had even selected a title for it.
Like Anderson's other works, it will be divisive amongst audience members half of whom will call it a masterpiece whilst the rest will label it pretentious. For me, it leans much closer to the former description.
Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a haute couture dressmaker in 1950's London, running his fashion house with his overbearing sister who tolerates his incredibly pernickety mannerisms and rather misogynistic view towards women, who he sees as muses for his fashion and nothing more.
The story mostly focuses on his romantic relationship with Alma, a French waitress with whom he becomes attracted to, but their vast differences force a wedge between them.
Paul Thomas Anderson draws on various inspirations for his vision, including many tropes from classic fairytales which you may miss on an initial viewing, as well as Freudian psychology which will be a little more apparent. The acting from the ensemble cast is spectacular, especially Daniel Day-Lewis who deservedly earned another Oscar nomination for his work, while Vicky Krieps is splendid with her breakthrough performance.
It's not for everyone, but for those who appreciate the director's other films, this will be considered amongst his very best works. Nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and deservedly so in my opinion.
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (PG)
D: Peter Weir
AFC/British Empire (Hal McElroy & Jim McElroy)
W: Cliff Green [based on the novel by Joan Lindsay]
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: Max Lemon
Mus: Bruce Smeaton
Rachel Roberts (Mrs. Appleyard), Anne-Louise Lambert (Miranda St. Clair), Dominic Guard (Michael Fitzhubert), Helen Morse (Mlle. de Poitiers), Jacki Weaver (Minnie)
Based on the novel by Joan Lindsay, this Australian film surrounds a mystery involving a group of Victorian schoolgirls who disappear on Valentine's Day, 1900 during an excursion to the geographical location of the title.
The mystery is never explained, but the film offers various theories from witnesses and other perspectives, as well as doubling up as a metaphor for sexual awakening and even the oppression of colonial rule.
The film served as a huge breakthrough for director Peter Weir, who went on to enormous success in Hollywood, as well as putting Australian film on the map a decade before the success of films like Crocodile Dundee.
The BAFTA awards deservedly honoured the film for its picturesque cinematography.
THE PICK-UP ARTIST (15)
PIECES OF APRIL (12)
D: Peter Hedges
United Artists (Gary Winick)
W: Peter Hedges
DP: Tami Reiker
Ed: Mark Livolsi
Mus: Stephin Merritt
Katie Holmes (April Burns), Derek Luke (Bobby), Oliver Platt (Jim Burns), Patricia Clarkson (Joy Burns), Alison Pill (Beth Burns), John Gallagher, Jr. (Timmy Burns)
Katie Holmes plays April, the rebellious black sheep of the Burns family who plans for a Thanksgiving reunion as her distant parents and siblings make the long drive from suburbia to the slummy side of New York.
This low-key independent film, released in 2003, is reminiscent of similarly toned films released a decade earlier. There isn't much meat to the story, as April panics over getting her turkey cooked and there's a subplot involving April's cancer-suffering mother, but it really is a postage stamp plot. Despite that, good performances make it watchable, especially Patricia Clarkson, whilst Katie Holmes delivers her best performance in a feature film.
At a mere 81 minutes, it does tick over quite nicely.
PIRANHA 3DD (18)
While 2010's Piranha 3D can be classed as "so bad, it's good", this sequel is just plain bad. Really bad.
The formula and plot are much the same, only the location is changed, taking place at a waterside amusement park.
As for the characters, they're all so boringly repugnant that it's almost impossible to care if any of them survive.
Over-the-top and tacky special effects would be expected but there's absolutely no comedy in this like in the previous film and its attempts at jokes are in the worst possible taste, whilst casting David Hasselhoff in a cameo role as his Baywatch character just smacks of scraping the dregs of the barrel.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR'S REVENGE (aka PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES) (12)
D: Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg
Disney (Jerry Bruckheimer)
W: Jeff Nathanson & Terry Rossio [based on Disney's "Pirates Of The Caribbean]
DP: Paul Cameron
Ed: Roger Barton & Leigh Folsom Boyd
Mus: Geoff Zanelli
Johnny Depp (Capt. Jack Sparrow), Javier Bardem (Capt. Salazar), Geoffrey Rush (Capt. Barbossa), Brenton Thwaites (Henry Turner), Kaya Scodelario (Carina Smyth), Kevin McNally (Joshamee Gibbs)
While most studios and producers would have called quits on this franchise after the last instalment, Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer will do their utmost to wring it completely dry and get as much money as they can from the cinema-going public.
This fifth film is, by far, the weakest of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, reusing much of the plot from the first film in the absence of originality.
Victim of a mutiny once again from the crew of the Black Pearl, captain Jack Sparrow teams up with Henry Turner (son of Will) in the attempt to break a curse and repel the zombie-like crew of Captain Salazar.
Despite having some good visual effects, nothing else in this movie seems to have been done with any conviction, particularly the performances of a talented cast who must have been laughing all the way to the bank.
Young British actress Kaya Scodelario certainly made a mistake accepting the role in this one, following some solid work on TV and The Maze Runner series of films.
A disappointing summer blockbuster.