POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES (U)
D: Frank Capra
United Artists/Franton (Frank Capra)
W: Hal Kanter & Harry Tugend [based on the screenplay "Lady For A Day" by Robert Riskin]
DP: Robert Bronner
Ed: Frank P. Keller
Mus: Walter Scharf
PD: Hal Pereira & Roland Anderson
Cos: Edith Head & Walter Plunkett
Bette Davis (Apple Annie / Mrs. E. Worthington Manville), Glenn Ford (Dave 'The Dude' Conway), Hope Lange (Elizabeth 'Queenie' Martin), Arthur O'Connell (Count Alfonso Romero), Peter Falk (Joy Boy)
Frank Capra remakes his own 1933 film 'Lady For A Day' for a 1960's audience. A gangster, feeling that his luck is taking a downward slide, assists in the creation of an illusion that a penniless apple seller is a lady of wealth for the visit of her long-lost daughter, engaged to a Spanish nobleman.
The opening act of this remake does tend to drag, leading to the film to feel overlong, but the technical aspects such as cinematography, art direction, costumes and makeup are very good. The performances are also great, though it's Peter Falk who steals the show as a gangster henchman, providing some welcome comic relief. The story itself is typical of the self-indulgent fantasies that Frank Capra built his name on, and though it does seem whimsical and old-fashioned by modern standards, this was pure guilty-pleasure escapism for the time of original release.
POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING (15)
D: Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone
Universal/Perfect World/The Lonely Island (Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone)
W: Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg & Jorma Taccone
DP: Brandon Trost
Ed: Jamie Gross, Craig Alpert & Stacey Schroeder
Mus: Matthew Compton
Andy Samberg (Conner "Conner4Real" Friel), Jorma Taccone (Owen "Kid Contact" Bouchard), Akiva Schaffer (Lawrence "Kid Brain" Dunn), Sarah Silverman (Paula Klein), Tim Meadows (Harry Duggins)
A This Is Spinal Tap mockumentary following the solo tour of a vacuous, egotistical and selfish pop star modelled very much on Justin Bieber. Originally a member of a three-piece boyband, Conner4Real is promoting his self-penned second album which is tanking in the sales charts, despite all his efforts to make it a gargantuan success, including publicity stunts during his concerts which inevitably go wrong and proposing to his celebrity girlfriend on live TV.
More than being a parody of pop singers and their egos, it pokes fun at the whole media circus, with real life celebrities turning up with cameo appearances which mock themselves.
The songs are purposefully terrible, but the comedy in this film is hilariously funny. It's a surprise that the film itself was a flop at cinemas, especially since one of the producers was Judd Apatow, whose comedy stable has fired out several hits over the years.
THE POST (12)
D: Steven Spielberg
Dreamworks/20th Century Fox/Amblin/Participant Media (Steven Spielberg, Amy Pascal & Kristie Macosco Krieger)
W: Josh Singer & Liz Hannah
DP: Janusz Kaminsky
Ed: Michael Kahn & Sarah Broshar
Mus: John Williams
PD: Rick Carter
Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee), Meryl Streep (Kay Graham), Sara Paulson (Antoinette Bradlee), Bob Odenkirk (Ben Bagdikian), Tracy Letts (Fritz Leebe), Bradley Whitford (Arthur Parsons), Bruce Greenwood (Robert McNamara), Carrie Coon (Meg Greenfield)
Presidents lie. That's pretty much the message of Steven Spielberg's political drama. I wonder why that would be of such topical interest in 2017?
The story almost serves as a companion piece to the 1976 film All The President's Men, set at the offices of the Washington Post, following two journalists as they delve deeper into the Watergate scandal. The Post is more about freedom of speech and freedom of press, when it emerges that government secrets about America's involvement in the Vietnam War are leaked and a power play is put into effect between the newspaper and the US Supreme Court over whether the information can become public knowledge.
Simultaneously, the film serves as a parable for feminist empowerment, as newspaper owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) initially finds herself silenced by the men who surround her to eventually voice her own opinions come the end of the movie.
Aside from a few moments, the film is quite dull, labouring from plodding exposition to plodding exposition, without telling too much about what the government secrets are.
The period detail, cinematography and music all capture the mid 1970's well, the performances are good and the script does have some witty one-liners, but it does hammer home the point a little too obviously that Hollywood aren't keen on the current presidential administration, as though we weren't aware of it already.
If you have interest in US politics, you're highly likely to enjoy it, but it's no All The President's Men.
POWER RANGERS (aka SABAN'S POWER RANGERS) (12)
D: Dean Israelite
Lionsgate/Temple Hill/SCG/Toei (Haim Saban, Brian Casentini, Marty Bowen & Wyck Godfrey)
W: John Gatins [based on characters created by Haim Saban]
DP: Matthew J. Lloyd
Ed: Martin Bernfeld & Dody Dorn
Mus: Brian Tyler
Dacre Montgomery (Jason Scott / Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (Kimberley Hart), R.J. Cyler (Billy Cranston / Blue Ranger), Becky G (Trini / Yellow Ranger), Ludi Lin (Zack / Black Ranger), Bryan Cranston (Zordon), Elizabeth Banks (Rita Repulsa)
In all honesty, you know if you're going to like this film or not before you watch it.
I was never a viewer of the Mighty Morph'n Power Rangers when it was a hugely popular television series, but I was very much aware of its existence.
This reboot is pretty much more of the same that you'll see in other origin superhero stories and unless you were a fan of the original series, this isn't going to be much to write home about.
A group of five angsty teens happen across an old alien ship and become infused with superpowers and soon learn that an old enemy of the previous generation of Power Rangers has returned for vengeance.
The film makes history in some circles by being the first superhero movie to feature LGBT and autistic characters, but this virtue signalling is only tackled on the periphery and mostly swept under the carpet for the majority of the story.
The young cast do a good job, but neither Bryan Cranston nor Elizabeth Banks belong in a film like this.
THE PREDATOR (15)
D: Shane Black
20th Century Fox (John Davis)
W: Shane Black & Fred Dekker [based on characters created by Jim Thomas & John Thomas]
DP: Larry Fong
Ed: Harry B. Miller III & Billy Weber
Mus: Henry Jackman
Boyd Holbrook (Quinn McKenna), Trevante Rhodes (Nebraska Williams), Jacob Tremblay (Rory McKenna), Olivia Munn (Dr. Casey Bracket), Sterling K. Brown (Will Traeger)
Shane Black, who was one of the cast members of the original 1987 movie, takes the directorial reins and shares a writing credit for this 2018 sequel/reboot, but if you're expecting this to tie in more with the testosterone filled Arnold Schwarzenegger film, prepare to be disappointed.
The original Predator isn't exactly blessed with a great screenplay or Oscar worthy acting, but the simple plot- pitting a small platoon of soldiers against an alien who kills for sport, it more than hits the spot for action, thrills and tension, it hits the spot.
A 1990 sequel wasn't quite as good, but kept a similar premise as it switched from the South American jungle to the urban jungle of Los Angeles' gang wars.
The franchise went tits up from there, tying into Fox's Alien movies for two films before Predators attempted to return to the roots of the original film.
This 2018 reboot sees the alien hunters come to Earth to steal a child's autism. Yes, you read that right.
It's never a good thing when a release date is postponed for hefty reshoots, but even the bare bones of the plot here are laughably bad. When this is paired with terrible dialogue, choppy editing, shoddy CGI and performances out of the Josh Duhamel school of acting, this was bound to be a terrible experience to witness at the cinema.
This could possibly be the worst film to emerge from 2018.
PRINCESS MONONOKE (MONONOKE-HIME) (PG)
D: Hayao Miyazaki
Toho/Studio Ghibli (Toshio Suzuki)
W: Hayao Miyazaki
Mus: Joe Hisashi
Yôji Matsuda / Billy Crudup (Ashitaka), Yuriko Ishida / Tara Strong (San), Yuko Tanaka / Minnie Driver (Lady Eboshi), Kaoro Kobayashi / Billy Bob Thornton (Jiko-Bō)
Princess Mononoke is among Studio Ghibli's most popular selection of anime features, directed by Hayao Miyazaki in his usual style.
The word Mononoke is not a name, but rather a reference to a spirit or monster in Japanese folklore, where the story takes its inspiration.
Set in 16th century Japan, the story follows a young prince, who becomes mortally wounded protecting a village from a demonic creature and on his journey to find medicine that can heal him he becomes involved in a war between the gods of the forest and the humans who consume its resources.
Originally released in Japan in 1997, it took a couple of years to be internationally distributed, by which time it had become one of the highest grossing films in Japanese cinema.
It's understandable but this kind of animation isn't for everyone, and probably wouldn't be fully embraced by the Disney crowd, but for those wishing to immerse themselves in Japanese anime films, this is a great starting point.
PSYCHO II (18)
D: Richard Franklin
Universal (Hilton A. Green & Bernard Schwartz)
W: Tom Holland [based on characters created by Robert Bloch]
DP: Dean Cundey
Ed: Andrew London
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Meg Tilly (Mary Samuels), Vera Miles (Lila Loomis), Robert Loggia (Dr. Bill Raymond), Dennis Franz (Warren Twomey), Hugh Gillen (Sheriff John Hunt)
It was never going to be an easy task following up with a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror movie, but Psycho II does not do a bad job at all, despite being nowhere near the seminal 1960 film. Robert Bloch did, in fact, write a follow up to the original novel, but this film is not based upon that book.
Anthony Perkins reprises his role as Norman Bates, released from a mental institution after 22 years, much to the annoyance of Lila Loomis, the sister of the first film's main victim, Marion Crane. Returning to the ominous family house overlooking his namesake hotel, Bates attempts to move on with his life and away from that which haunts him, in doing so, he allows a young woman to move into his home, only for "mother" to begin another killing spree...
Much of the plot is predictable to anybody who has ever seen a horror movie, or indeed the original film, but there's still some wiggle room in the plot for a couple of interesting twists and turns.
Perkins slips back into his most famous character like it's a glove and Meg Tilly provides an excellent supporting character with her breakthrough performance.
Not as good as the original film by a long shot, but miles ahead of the pathetic remake.
Biographical crime drama about John Dillinger and the authorities who tried to catch him.
An incredibly slow-build up and some inaudible dialogue mar what could have potentially been a fantastic gangster movie.
The performances are very good, particularly Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard, while the period detail, photography and music score are also excellent.
The slow-boiling narrative might make a few minds switch off, but those who stick with it are rewarded with an intelligent cops and robbers thriller with moments of genuine brilliance and inventive style.
It trails in the wake of more seminal classics like The Godfather, but to better Coppola's classic would be a huge ask.
THE PURGE (15)
D: James DeMonaco
Universal/Platinum Dunes/Blumhouse/Why Not (Jason Blum, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller & Sebastien Lemercier)
W: James DeMonaco
DP: Jacques Jouffret
Ed: Peter Gvodras
Mus: Nathan Whitehead
Ethan Hawke (James Sandin), Lena Headey (Mary Sandin), Adelaide Kane (Zoey Sandin), Max Burkholder (Charlie Sandin), Tony Oller (Henry), Edwin Hodge (Bloody Stranger), Rhys Wakefield (Polite Leader)
The Purge is an interesting idea which doesn't quite work as well as it could have, although, by modern horror standards, it certainly isn't a terrible film.
Set in a dystopian future where unemployment and poverty in the United States are at record lows, much of which is due to The Purge, an annual event where murder is decriminalised for 12 hours during an evening.
James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) has used the event for his and his family's profit, selling home security systems and living in a secure mansion, their reasonably peaceful Purge Night becomes an ordeal for survival when a bloody stranger infiltrates their home, and a bloody mob gather outside and demand his release, or the whole family will become targets.
The plot does have a few holes, but the general premise is an incredibly interesting one, even though the film descends into a standard home invasion thriller halfway through, bringing with it all the usual tropes and cliches you'd expect.
A series of films followed.
PUSS IN BOOTS (U)
After winning over hearts in Shrek 2, Puss In Boots gets his own spinoff movie, which, unless you're 8-years-old, may be a little bit disappointing.
Much like Shrek, it's a mishmash which draws off various fairytales, but the story is over-convoluted for no particular reason (especially considering this is supposed to be a kids film), pitting the swashbuckling cat against Humpty Dumpty, who used to be his friend, but is now a rival who aims to grow a giant beanstalk with beans he stole from Jack & Jill, so he can steal the golden goose, etc.
Overall, the animation is very good, but it lacks comedy aside from the occasional "ha ha, he's a Spanish" and "ha ha, he's a cat".
It also seems to tell kids that breaking and entering is an acceptable act of bravery. Okay, but nowhere near as enjoyable as the first couple of Shrek movies.
D: Anthony Asquith
General Film Distributors (Gabriel Pascal)
W: George Bernard Shaw, W.P. Lipscomb, Cecil Lewis & Ian Dalrymple [based on the play by George Bernard Shaw]
DP: Harry Stradling
Ed: David Lean
Mus: Arthur Honegger
Leslie Howard (Prof. Henry Higgins), Wendy Hiller (Eliza Doolittle), Wilfred Lawson (Arthur Doolittle), Scott Sunderland (Col. Pickering), Marie Lohr (Mrs. Higgins), David Tree (Freddy Eynsford-Hill)
Slightly old-fashioned with its execution, but this first film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's sprightly comedy of manners is blessed with some fine performances and brilliantly witty dialogue which make it timeless in its own right.
Professor of dialect Henry Higgins accepts a wager to transform common as muck flower seller Eliza Doolittle into a lady of high-standing by correcting her grammar and diction, and though it appears he has bitten off more than he can chew with the task at hand, a relationship blossoms between the two unlikely companions.
The story was further immortalised in the musical remake, My Fair Lady, as well as a very loose teenage version of a similar story (She's All That). Some may argue that this is the best filmed version of George Bernard Shaw's play, though My Fair Lady is probably the more memorable.