S

"It was not sex. It was good."
"It was not sex. It was good."
SIBLING RIVALRY (15)
D: Carl Reiner
Castle Rock/Nelson (David V. Lester, Don Miller & Liz Glotzer)
US 1990
88 mins

Comedy

W: Martha Goldhirsh
DP: Reynaldo Villalobos
Ed: Bud Molin
Mus: Jack Elliott

Kirstie Alley (Marjorie Turner), Bill Pullman (Nicholas Meany), Carrie Fisher (Iris Turner-Hunter), Jami Gertz (Jeanine), Scott Bakula (Harry Turner)

Insipid sitcom stuff, in which Kirstie Alley (fresh from the set of Cheers) plays an unhappy wife who sleeps with a man who later turns out to be her brother-in-law, made even more complicated by the fact that he died during fornication.
The black comedy plot could have been much better in the hands of better screenwriting and better direction, but this is a rather tame, forgettable waste.
4/10
 
"In Mexico, Sicario means hitman."
"In Mexico, Sicario means hitman."
SICARIO (15)
D: Denis Villeneuve
Lionsgate/Black Label/Thunder Road (Basil Iwanyk, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Edward McDonnell & Molly Smith)
US 2015
121 mins 

Thriller 

W: Taylor Sheridan
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Joe Walker
Mus: Jóhan Jóhannsson

Emily Blunt (Kate Macer), Josh Brolin (Matt Graver), Benicio del Toro (Alejandro Gillick), Victor Garber (Dave Jennings), Daniel Kaluuya (Reggie Wayne)

Sicario, which translates loosely as hitman, is a 2015 thriller which will draw comparisons with 2000's Traffic. Both feature the war on drug trafficking, both take place on both sides of the US-Mexico border and both films also star Benicio del Toro. That is where the comparisons end.
Emily Blunt plays an idealistic FBI rookie who joins a crack team headed by shady CIA agent Josh Brolin. Their mission is to investigate drug cartels between Juarez, Mexico and the state of New Mexico, but the legality of their practices are blurred and justice plays second fiddle to motives of revenge, as mysterious gun-for-hire Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) has his own reasons for involvement in the operation.
Bolstered by realistic, no holds barred direction, Sicario is a brutal look at the American war on drugs, featuring just as many immoral characters as those with noble sensibilities. Emily Blunt gives a strong performance in the lead, but it's Benicio del Toro who steals the show with a performance of little words and silent menace. Roger Deakins also deserves a mention for his atmospheric photography, which perfectly captures both the beautiful and barbaric vistas on either side of the borders.
8/10

"No rules this time."
"No rules this time."

SICARIO 2: SOLDADO (aka SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO) (15)

D: Stefano Sollima

Columbia/Lionsgate/Black Label Media (Basil Iwanyk, Edward L. McDonnell, Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill & Trent Luckinbill)

US 2018

122 mins


Thriller


W: Taylor Sheridan

DP: Dariusz Wolski

Ed: Matthew Newman

Mus: Hildur Gudnadóttir


Benicio Del Toro (Alejandro Gillick), Josh Brolin (Matt Graver), Isabela Moner (Isabela Reyes), Jeffrey Donovan (Steve Forsing), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Gallo), Catherine Keener (Cynthia Foards), Matthew Modine (Secretary of Defence James Riley)


For me, Sicario was amongst the best films of 2015, and although a sequel wasn't necessary, plans for a third part to a trilogy are very much in the works.

The set up is still the same, focusing on Mexican drug cartels operating close to the US border, but this sequel also includes the addition of Islamic terrorism, with the plot focusing on the possibility that daesh suicide bombers are smuggling into the United States via Mexico. Government agent Matt Graver (Brolin) and hitman Alejandro Gillick (Del Toro) are tasked to go into the hostile territory to manipulate a war between rival cartels, the theory being that one large cartel would be easier to control than several smaller ones.

This thriller may take a right-leaning stance, mixing together a collection of Donald Trump's worst nightmares, but politics aside, it had plenty of action, suspense and tension to keep you on the edge of your seat. The plot does miss Emily Blunt's character as the neutral bystander amongst all the chaos, and though the director and his crew try to emulate the visuals of the original film, it isn't quite as polished in the overall look and the pacing at times can be rather slow, as multiple story threads become intertwined.

Aside from a needlessly ridiculous moment in the final act, this isn't a bad sequel at all, although it could easily have been made as a standalone film with no connection at all to the original movie. For me, it rubber-stamps Taylor Sheridan as one of the best screenwriters working in Hollywood in current times.

6/10 


SID & NANCY (18)
D: Alex Cox
Zenith/Initial (Eric Fellner)
UK 1986
111 mins

Biopic

W: Alex Cox & Abby Wool
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: David Martin
Mus: Joe Strummer, The Pogues, Pray For Rain

Gary Oldman (Sid Vicious), Chloe Webb (Nancy Spungen), David Hayman (Malcolm McLaren)

A biographical romantic drama about the relationship between Sid Vicious, the controversial frontman of 1970's punk band The Sex Pistols, and his American girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
The enjoyment level of this film depends quite heavily on whether you enjoyed the bands music and/or followed the movement of the music genre during the punk era. If neither of these factors apply, it can still be appreciated for good performances from its lead couple, production design which captures the period perfectly or even for cultural interest.         
6/10
 
"One pill can change your life."
"One pill can change your life."
SIDE EFFECTS (18)
D: Steven Soderbergh
Open Road/Endgame/Filmnation (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Gregory Jacobs & Scott Z. Burns)
US 2013
106 mins

Thriller 

W: Scott Z. Burns
DP: Peter Andrews (Steven Soderbergh)
Ed: Mary Ann Bernard (Steven Soderbergh) 
Mus: Thomas Newman

Rooney Mara (Emily Taylor), Channing Tatum (Martin Taylor), Jude Law (Dr. Jonathan Banks), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Dr. Victoria Siebert)

A surprisingly low-brow thriller from director Steven Soderbergh, about a young woman suffering from depression, given an experimental drug by her doctor which has unexpected side effects which throw both their lives into turmoil.
Rooney Mara proves, as in other films released around the same time, that she has the potential to be a very strong leading lady when given a good script to work with. Jude Law & Channing Tatum are also quite impressive, Catherine Zeta-Jones, however, is simply unpleasant, both as a character and as an actress.
Overall, this is nowhere near as good as Soderbergh's other work, but still worth a one-off watch. 
6/10

SIDEWAYS (15)
D: Alexander Payne
20th Century Fox (Michael London)
US 2004
126 mins

Comedy/Drama

W: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor [based on the novel by Rex Pickett]
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Kevin Tent
Mus: Rolfe Kent

Paul Giamatti (Miles Raymond), Thomas Haden Church (Jack Lopate), Virginia Madsen (Maya), Sandra Oh (Stephanie), Jessica Hecht (Victoria)

Sideways is one of those films which found itself critically lauded but didn't quite find its feet with mainstream audiences.
Two middle-aged men, one a failed writer and the other a struggling actor, learn about love, life and fine wine when they go on a road trip through California's wine country.
The adroit performances & witty screenplay  can't be faulted, but much like a Beaujolais, it won't be to everyone's taste.
7/10
 
THE SIEGE (15)
D: Edward Zwick
20th Century Fox (Lynda Obst & Edward Zwick)
US 1998
116 mins

Thriller/Political

W: Lawrence Wright, Menno Meyjes & Edward Zwick 
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Steven Rosenblum
Mus: Graeme Revell

Denzel Washington (FBI Agent Anthony Hubbard), Annette Bening (CIA Officer Elise Kraft), Bruce Willis (Maj. Gen. William Devereaux), Tony Shalhoub (FBI Agent Frank Haddad)

A snorefest of a political melodrama with aspirations of being a nail-biting thriller.
Martial law is declared in New York City following a several terrorist attacks. 
There's much shouting and a lot of dick-measuring between the two lead actors, to little or no effect and anyone watching outside the US will experience no real sense of dread or tension.
Considering the star names in the cast and crew, there's no excuse for this film to be so arse-numbingly dull.
4/10
 
"It's not like they didn't warn us."
"It's not like they didn't warn us."
SIGNS (15)
D: M. Night Shyamalan
Touchstone/Blinding Edge (M. Night Shyamalan, Frank Marshall & Sam Mercer)
US 2002
106 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: M. Night Shyamalan
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Barbara Tulliver
Mus: James Newton Howard

Mel Gibson (Father Graham Hess), Joaquin Phoenix (Merrill Hess), Rory Culkin (Morgan Hess), Abigail Breslin (Bo Hess), M. Night Shyamalan (Ray Reddy)

Arguably the last credible film from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan before his career took a steep nosedive from which it hasn't yet recovered. Still, this isn't completely without its flaws.
A disillusioned preacher, who lost his faith following the death of his wife, prepares his family for an invasion from a hostile alien species which they learn about from ominous crop circles on his land and the impending news on the television.
It's a decent modernisation of B-movies from the 1950's and 60's, with a few effective frightening moments but the focus is mainly on the human drama at the centre of the story. Its biggest weakness is the unconvincing ending which has been widely ridiculed for making little to no coherence in comparison to the rest of the story.
5/10
 

SILENCE (15)

D: Martin Scorsese

Paramount/Sharpsword/Verdi/IM Global (Barbara DeFina, Randall Emmett, Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Gaston Pavlovian, Martin Scorsese & Irwin Winkler)

US/Taiwan/Japan/UK/Mexico/Italy 2016

161 mins


Drama


W: Jay Cocks & Martin Scorsese [based on the novel by Shusako Endo]

DP: Rodrigo Prieto

Ed: Thelma Schoonmaker

Mus: Kim Allen Kluge & Kathryn Kluge

PD: Dante Ferretti

Cos: Dante Ferretti


Andrew Garfield (Sebastiao Rodrigues), Adam Driver (Francisco Garube), Liam Neeson (Ferreira), Ciaran Hinds (Alessandro Valignano), Issey Ogata (Inoue), Shinya Tsukomoto (Mokichi), Tadanobu Asano (The Interpreter)


Based on a Japanese novel which was originally turned into a 1971 film in its native country, Martin Scorsese made this a personal pet project, spending over two decades bringing it to screen, with many cast changes and obstacles preventing it from being released sooner.

The story bears some comparisons with the 1986 drama The Mission and the 1991 film Black Robe. Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver star as two Jesuit priests, who travel from Portugal to Japan in the 17th century to spread Christianity and locate their mentor, who has apostatised and gone missing, but they are met with hostility by the indigenous people, who have turned their backs to the religion.

Despite some excellent acting and breathtaking cinematography, the plot simply isn't as engaging as it could be, and the running time doesn't quite justify itself.

Still, no film by Martin Scorsese can be considered a turkey. It's just that Silence is an acquired taste.

6/10


"To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman."
"To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman."
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (18)
D: Jonathan Demme
Orion/Strong Heart (Edward Saxon, Kenneth Utt & Ron Bozman)
US 1991
118 mins

Horror/Thriller

W: Ted Tally [based on the novel by Robert Harris]
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Craig McKay
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Kristi Zea
Cos: Colleen Atwood

Jodie Foster (Clarice Starling), Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Hannibal Lecter), Scott Glenn (Jack Crawford), Anthony Heald (Dr. Frederick Chilton), Ted Levine (Jame Gumb), Brooke Smith (Catherine Martin), Charles Napier (Sergeant Boyle), Diane Baker (Senator Ruth Martin)

One of the greatest horror movies ever made. A claim reinforced by the fact that, to date, it is the only representative of its genre to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Foster) is recruited to investigate an incarcerated serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, theorising that by doing so, it would assist in tracking another one who is still at large.
The film largely follows the golden rules of horror by not showing all its hand early on, building up the tension and only resorting moments of bloodshed when it's truly necessary, instead it uses creepy innuendo, sinister dialogue and strong performances in order to imprint itself into the viewer's perception.
Both Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster are terrific, both winning Oscars for their performances as the film swept the Big Five categories (Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay), becoming only the third film ever to do so.
9/10
 
SILENT HILL (18)
D: Christophe Gans
Universal/Tristar/Focus Features (Samuel Hadida & Don Carmody)
Canada/France 2006
125 mins

Horror

W: Roger Avary [based on the video game developed by Konami]
DP: Dan Lausten
Ed: Sebastian Prangere
Mus: Jeff Danna

Radha Mitchell (Rose da Silva), Sean Bean (Christopher da Silva), Laurie Holden (Cybil Bennett), Jodelle Ferland (Alessa Gillespie), Deborah Kara Unger (Dahlia Gillespie)

Silent Hill is another poor attempt to merge a movie with its video game origin without bothering to add plot & character development or even a decent story into the fold.
The story (or lack of) follows Radha Mitchell as the most irresponsible mother in the world, who wants to cure her daughter's somnambulism, so she does what all intelligent, competent mothers do... She takes her to the desolate ghost town of Silent Hill, the subject of her daughter's dreams/nightmares, much against the wishes of her husband (a wasted Sean Bean).
Once in Silent Hill, the daughter vanishes and the mother is attacked by terrible special effects which you can only assume are meant to be disturbing.
This goes on for nearly two hours and the films ends, setting up a needless, unnecessary sequel.
3/10
 
SILENT MOVIE (PG)
D: Mel Brooks
20th Century Fox/Crossbow (Michael Hertzberg)
US 1976
87 mins

Comedy

W: Mel Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy de Luca & Barry Levinson
DP: Paul Lohmann
Mus: John Morris

Mel Brooks (Mel Funn), Marty Feldman (Marty Eggs), Dom DeLuise (Dom Bell), Bernadette Peters (Vilma Kaplan), Sid Caesar (The Chief)

If you were to think of Mel Brooks films, chances are you'd instantly think of 'Blazing Saddles', 'Young Frankenstein' or 'The Producers'. Silent Movie may not be quite at the same level as the director's best works but should still be held in quite high regard amongst them.
This spoof of silent movies is itself, a silent movie, starring Brooks as a filmmaker who attempts to film, you guessed it, by assembling an all-star cast which will make it a success, and a huge cast of stars appear in the movie as themselves, including Paul Newman, Burt Reynolds, Liza Minnelli and Marcel Marceau (with the film's most iconic joke).
It's self-referential humour will most likely go over the heads of some, but should be appreciated by older audiences and film buffs especially.
6/10
 
SILENT RUNNING (U)
D: Douglas Trumbull
Universal (Michael Gruskoff)
US 1972
89 mins

Science Fiction

W: Deric Washburn, Steven Bochco & Michael Cimino
DP: Charles F. Wheeler
Ed: Aaron Stell
Mus: Peter Schickele

Bruce Dern (Freeman Lowell), Cliff Potts (John Keenan), Ron Rifkin (Marty Barker), Jesse Vint (Andy Wolf)

From a filmmaking perspective, Silent Running is a milestone piece of work, truly ahead of its time and giving special effects creator Douglas Trumbull his directorial debut and allowing him to create a world of futuristic space travel akin to the visuals he designed for Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Unfortunately, the story is dated, taking place in 2008 abroad a space station containing all the world's vegetation and plants, cared for meticulously by resident botanist Bruce Dern, who constantly rebels against his other crew members.
When an order is received to terminate the horticulture, Dern murders his crewmates and entrusts the greenhouse project to a couple of robotic drones.
The production design and visual effects, for 1972 are well above the expected standard for this type of picture, but Bruce Dern's character is too pretentiously unlikeable to carry the entire story.
A landmark film, worth watching for science fiction fans or film buffs, but the year of its prophecy has now been and gone.
7/10

SILKWOOD (15)
D: Mike Nichols
ABC (Mike Nichols & Michael Hausman)
US 1983
131 mins

Biopic

W: Nora Ephron & Alice Arlen
DP: Miroslav Ondricek
Ed: Sam O'Steen
Mus: Georges Delerue

Meryl Streep (Karen Silkwood), Kurt Russell (Drew Stephens), Cher (Dolly Pelliker), Craig T. Nelson (Winston), Diana Scarwid (Angela), Fred Ward (Morgan)

Based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, a metallurgy worker at a Texas chemical plant who campaigned for her company to provide safe measures against exposure to plutonium and it's carcinogenic effects.
The movie has a TV movie feel to it, with low-key direction by Mike Nichols, but the trio of performances from Meryl Streep as Karen, Kurt Russell as her boyfriend and Cher as her lesbian housemate make this eminently watchable. 
One little criticism is simply due to hindsight and wasn't considered a big deal when the film was made in 1983. This is that it depicts Silkwood as a habitual chain smoker, smoking cigarettes in practically every scene. As said above, the irony of this wouldn't have stood out in 1983, but by modern standards seems like Ronald McDonald campaigning about the dangers of eating fast food.
Nevertheless, a very good biopic and a unique insight into the unscrupulous practices of a nuclear plant.
7/10
 
SILVER DREAM RACER (15)
D: David Wickes
Rank (Rene Dupont)
UK 1980
111 mins

Sports

W: David Wickes
DP: Paul Beeson
Ed: Peter Hollywood
Mus: David Essex

David Essex (Nick Freeman), Beau Bridges (Bruce McBride), Christina Raines (Julie Prince), Harry H. Corbett (Wiggins)

The last film to be funded by British production company Rank before it became assimilated into other companies (eventually going defunct in 1996). Unfortunately, it's less a swan song and more a whimper.
Silver Dream Racer is a cliche-ridden, derivative sports drama starring David Essex at the peak of his success as a garage mechanic who becomes a motorcycle racer.
The script is as asinine as the Essex-penned songs on the soundtrack and the performances aren't anything particularly special either. 
It's worth noting that the versions edited for British cinemas is vastly different from the one which was released internationally, as one has a downbeat (and unintentionally hilarious) ending.
4/10
 
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (15)
D: David O. Russell
The Weinstein Company (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen & Jonathan Gordon)
US 2012
117 mins

Comedy/Drama/Romance

W: David O. Russell [based on the novel by Matthew Quick]
DP: Masanobu Takayanagi
Ed: Jay Cassidy
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Judy Becker
Cos: Mark Bridges

Bradley Cooper (Pat Solatano), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany Maxwell), Robert DeNiro (Pat Solatano, Sr.), Jacki Weaver (Dolores Solatano), Chris Tucker (Danny), Julia Stiles (Veronica), John Ortiz (Ronnie), Brea Bee (Nikki), Anupam Kher (Dr. Patel)

Silver Linings Playbook is amongst the very best romantic comedies of recent years, achieving the rare feat for the romantic comedy genre of being able to appeal to men just as equally as it does its main target audience of women.
Based on the novel by Matthew Quick, writer-director David O. Russell does a splendid job adapting the source material without resorting to mawkish sentimentality or bad taste humour.
Bradley Cooper stars as Pat Solatano, a sufferer of bipolar disorder who, following an 8-month stint in a psychiatric hospital, moves back home with his obsessively-compulsive parents (Robert DeNiro & Jacki Weaver). Still, haunted by the breakdown of his marriage, he is in a conflicting battle with his own emotions to re-enter his life as it once was.
He is soon introduced to Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman with problems of her own following the sudden death of her husband and together they try and find the silver lining to their failed marriages.
All the performances from the ensemble cast are absolutely fantastic (including Chris Tucker, completely cast against his usual type) and the dialogue is quick, snappy and, above all, realistic.
A modern feelgood classic.
8/10
 
SILVER STREAK (15)
D: Arthur Hiller 
20th Century Fox (Edward K. Milkis & Thomas L. Miller)
US 1976
113 mins

Comedy/Thriller

W: Colin Higgins
DP: David M. Walsh
Ed: David Bretherton
Mus: Henry Mancini

Gene Wilder (George Caldwell), Richard Pryor (Grover Muldoon), Jill Clayburgh (Hilly Burns), Patrick McGoohan (Roger Devereau), Ned Beatty (Bob Sweet)

A spoof of Hitchcockian thrillers and 1970's disaster movies, both of which were still incredibly popular with audiences during the time of release.
Gene Wilder stars as a hapless publisher who witnesses a murder on a transcontinental train and becomes involved in the conspiracy to cover it up.
This memorable comedy-thriller is among Wilder's best works, which saw his first on-screen collaboration with fellow comedian Richard Pryor, albeit a partnership which only comes into fruition halfway through the film.
It's all very silly, but still a lot of fun.
7/10
 
SILVERADO (15)
D: Lawrence Kasdan
Columbia (Lawrence Kasdan)
US 1985
132 mins

Western

W: Lawrence Kasdan & Mark Kasdan
DP: John Bailey
Ed: Carol Littleton
Mus: Bruce Broughton
PD: Ida Random

Kevin Kline (Paden), Scott Glenn (Emmett), Kevin Costner (Jake), Danny Glover (Mal Johnson), John Cleese (Sheriff John Langston), Rosanna Arquette (Hannah), Brian Dennehy (Sheriff Cobb), Linda Hunt (Stella), Jeff Goldblum (Calvin 'Slick' Stanhope)

A group of misfit cowboys and pioneers try to establish a future in a small Wild West town plagued with injustice in this ensemble piece Western.
Despite its all star cast, this was an unsuccessful attempt to revive a dying genre in a decade where it had become incredibly unfashionable. It has some good moments, convincing performances and a rousing music score, but simply came a decade too late, despite the best efforts of all involved.
6/10
 
"Destiny has big plans for little Simon Birch."
"Destiny has big plans for little Simon Birch."
SIMON BIRCH (15)
D: Mark Steven Johnson
Hollywood/Caravan (Laurence Mark & Roger Birnbaum)
US 1998
113 mins

Drama

W: Mark Steven Johnson [suggested by the novel "A Prayer For Owen Meany" by John Irving]
DP: Aaron E. Schneider
Ed: David Finfer
Mus: Marc Shaiman

Ian Michael Smith (Simon Birch), Joseph Mazzello (Joe Wenteworth), Ashley Judd (Rebecca Wenteworth), Oliver Platt (Ben Goodrich), David Strathairn (Rev. Russell), Jim Carrey (narrator)

A man reflects on a childhood friendship, the death of his mother and other nostalgic moments of his life.
Simon Birch is an exercise in manipulation, increasingly smug in its pretentious execution. There's little surprise that John Irving wanted the title changed from his original source novel (A Prayer For Owen Meany) and wanted his name removed from the film's credits.
Some of the performances can't be faulted, but the contrived overkill by the director and syrupy Marc Shaiman music score are enough to make this film dangerous for diabetics.
4/10
 
SIMONE (S1M0NE) (PG)
D: Andrew Niccol
New Line (Andrew Niccol)
US 2002
117 mins

Comedy

W: Andrew Niccol
DP: Edward Lachman
Ed: Paul Rubell
Mus: Carter Burwell

Al Pacino (Viktor Taransky), Catherine Keener (Elaine Christian), Evan Rachel Wood (Lainey Christian), Winona Ryder (Nicola Anders), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Max Sayer), Jay Mohr (Hal Sinclair), Jason Schwartzman (Milton)

An underrated showbiz satire which didn't quite find an audience during its theatrical run. It's a shame, because it was an incredibly unique and interesting film which arguably deserved an Oscar nomination for the screenplay.
Al Pacino plays a film director struggling to find the perfect leading lady for his upcoming film project, so he does the next best thing. He creates one.
This modern day spin on Frankenstein for a digital age possibly suffers from coming out a few years earlier than it should have and probably would have caused more of a stir after the upsurge of social media sites like Twitter and the dawn of internet celebrities later on in the decade.
6/10
 
"Sometimes good people do evil things."
"Sometimes good people do evil things."
A SIMPLE PLAN (15)
D: Sam Raimi
Paramount/Mutual/Savoy/BBC (James Jacks & Adam Schroeder)
US/UK/Germany/France/Japan 1998
120 mins

Thriller

W: Scott B. Smith [based on his novel]
DP: Avar Kivilo
Ed: Arthur Coburn & Eric L. Beason
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Patrizia Von Brandenstein

Bill Paxton (Hank Mitchell), Billy Bob Thornton (Jacob Mitchell), Bridget Fonda (Sarah Mitchell), Brent Briscoe (Lou Chambers), Gary Cole (Neil Baxter)

In a small, snowbound Minnesota town, a farmer, his mentally-handicapped brother and their erratic friend discover $4.4m in a crashed plane and devise a plan to keep the money, but their greed eventually gets the better of them.
A new twist on a familiar theme, the plot even draws comparisons to 1996's Fargo (qv), which may be a far superior movie, although very little in this can be faulted. Amongst the best movies of 1998, with strong performances from Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda and Billy Bob Thornton, the latter of whom received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
7/10
 
"See our family. And feel better about yours."
"See our family. And feel better about yours."
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (PG)
D: David Silverman
20th Century Fox (James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully & Richard Sakai)
US 2007
87 mins

Animated

W: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Schwartzwelder & Jon Vitti [based on the characters from the TV show created by Matt Groening]
Mus: Hans Zimmer [original Simpsons Theme composed by Danny Elfman]

voices of: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson / other various characters), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson / other various characters), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson / other various characters), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns / other various characters), Hank Azaria (Moe Syzlak / other various characters)

The long-running animated sitcom finally made its cinematic bow, nearly 20 years after the very first episode.
The hapless Springfield family go on the run after their town is declared an environmental danger and placed under a giant glass dome by the American government. Homer's plans to start again in Alaska aren't met with approval from Marge and the kids and they return back home to save their hometown and friends from obliteration.
The film found favour with audiences, becoming one of the bigger theatrical successes of 2007, but on reflection it's not really any better than an average episode of the TV show... And was it really necessary to show Bart's bits? Personally, I think the film was quite detrimental to the TV series, as it really hasn't been the same since. A shame, since it was an iconic part of 1990's television. 
6/10
 
SIN CITY (18)
D: Robert Rodriguez (& Frank Miller)
Buena Vista (Elizabeth Avellan)
US 2005
124 mins

Action/Crime

W: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez [based on the comic book series by Frank Miller]
DP: Robert Rodriguez
Ed: Robert Rodriguez
Mus: Robert Rodriguez, John Debney & Graeme Revell

Jessica Alba (Nancy Callahan), Devon Aoki (Miho), Alexis Bledel (Becky), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Benicio Del Toro (Jackie Boy), Michael Clarke Duncan (Manute), Carla Gugino (Lucille), Rutger Hauer (Cardinal Roark), Jaime King (Goldie / Wendy), Michael Madsen (Bob), Brittany Murphy (Shellie), Clive Owen (Dwight), Mickey Rourke (Marv), Nick Stahl (Roark, Jr.) Bruce Willis (John Hartigan), Elijah Wood (Kevin)

On style alone, this is arguably the finest comic book movie ever made.
A trio of stories takes place in crime-ridden Basin City, featuring corrupt cops, cannibalistic killers, gun-toting prostitutes and more.
The stories don't quite interlink in the way Pulp Fiction or other similar films do, with the main character from each vignette having his own story to tell.
Mickey Rourke is the standout of the cast in the first (and arguably best) of the three stories, The Hard Goodbye, in which he plays a facially-disfigured maniac framed for murdering a prostitute, seeking revenge for those who were really responsible.
The second story, The Big Fat Kill, sees the gun-wielding prostitutes of Old Town battle the mob following the death of a corrupt cop in their city limits.
The third tale, That Yellow Bastard, is a wrap-around, starring Bruce Willis as one honest cop who takes the fall for a corrupt politicians perverted nephew, released from prison just in time to protect a girl he once saved from being targeted once again. 
Robert Rodriguez' vision of using a green screen visual effects technique to build the fictional world are brilliantly realised, as is the utilisation of black & white photography with flashes of colour. 
An iconic piece of pop/cult cinema.
8/10
 
"There is no justice without sin."
"There is no justice without sin."
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (18)
D: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller
Dimension/Miramax/Aldamisa (Robert Rodriguez, Aaron Kaufman, Stephen L'Heureux, Sergei Bespalov, Alexander Rodnyansky & Mark Manuel)
US 2014
102 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Frank Miller [based on his comic book series]
DP: Robert Rodriguez
Ed: Robert Rodriguez
Mus: Robert Rodriguez & Carl Thiel

Mickey Rourke (Marv), Jessica Alba (Nancy Callahan), Josh Brolin (Dwight), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Johnny), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Bruce Willis (John Hartigan)

When the original Sin City burst into cinema screens in summer of 2005, it was a breath of fresh air for the comic book subgenre, mixing film noir stories with a stylish backdrop, whilst staying true to the original source material.
The stories in this sequel may be based on those from the graphic novels, but the format feels tired and the CGI effects far less polished. It also came out far too late after the original film, when superhero films were practically ten-a-penny down at the local multiplex.
If you don't compare it to the first film, it isn't terrible, but the interlinking stories don't interlink (two of which were set before events in the first film) and the main thread, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a not-so-lucky gambler feels quite pointless. The world of Sin City, with heroic vigilantes and corrupt lawmen is a universe which could go on to make a great cinematic franchise, but on this evidence, it's best to leave it grounded. Watch the first film, by all means, but you wouldn't feel too disappointed if you gave this one a skip.
4/10

SING (U)

D: Garth Jennings

Universal/Illumination (Chris Meledandri & Janet Healy)

US 2016

108 mins


Animated


W: Garth Jennings

Mus: Joby Talbot


voices of: Matthew McConaughey (Buster Moon), Reese Witherspoon (Rosita), Seth MacFarlane (Mike), Scarlett Johansson (Ash), John C. Reilly (Eddie), Tori Kelly (Meena), Taron Egerton (Johnny)


Anthropomorphic animals sing pop songs on an X-Factor like talent show. That's about the whole plot.

Another way to describe this film would be: smarmy producer tries to make a quick and easy buck with minimum effort.

If you like tedious pop music, are under the age of 8 or a single mother, Sing may have enough about it to entertain. Everyone else would do better to give this a skip.

4/10


SING STREET (12)

D: John Carney

Lionsgate/TWC/Irish Film Board (Anthony Bergman, John Carney, Kevin Scott Frakes, Christian Grass, Martina Niland, Raj Brinder Singh & Paul Trijbits)

Ireland/UK/US 2016

105 mins


Musical/Comedy/Drama


W: John Carney

DP: Yaron Orbach

Ed: Andrew Marcus & Julian Ulrichs


Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (Cosmo Lawlor), Lucy Boynton (Raphina), Ben Carolyn (Darren), Mark McKenna (Eamon), Percy Chamburuka (Ngig), Jack Reynor (Brendan Lawlor), Aidan Gillen (Robert Lawlor), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Penny Lawlor)


This junior version of The Commitments is writer-director John Carney's follow up to his breakthrough Once, and like the 2006 film, it utilises a similar method of using music and lyrics to underpin the plot. 

The story is a rather simple coming-of-age tale, set in 1980's Dublin, where a school outcast and his ragtag group of friends form a band, make video promos on a shoestring budget and ultimately play a gig at their conservatively stringent school, with a little romance thrown in as the band's lead singer develops a crush on an older girl who lives around the neighbourhood.

The film is full of nostalgia for the 1980's, with a feel-good vibe running through it and a soundtrack of some cracking songs, especially "Drive It Like You Stole It" which has become the film's unofficial anthem.

A deserved nominee for Best Musical or Comedy Film at the 2017 Golden Globes.

8/10


"What a glorious feeling!"
"What a glorious feeling!"
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (U)
D: Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
MGM (Arthur Freed)
US 1952
102 mins

Musical/Comedy

W: Adolph Green & Betty Comden
DP: Harold Rosson
Ed: Adrienne Fazan
Mus: Nacio Herb Brown

Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood), Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden), Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown), Milland Mitchell (R.F. Simpson), Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont)

Quite possibly the most iconic musical from the golden age of the genre, simply due to its title song and inspired song-and-dance performance from Gene Kelly.
Set during Hollywood's transition from silent films to talkies, a film star sees her stardom fade as another sees theirs growing brighter, much like A Star Is Born, but with a brand new twist, as the young ingenue is reluctant to take the limelight and is content to remain the unsung hero as another claims the glory, but she eventually achieves the recognition she deserves.
While the genre itself has become less and less fashionable, this is one film that still feels fresh and vibrant, mostly due to its comic screenplay, engaging performances and energetic choreography. 
The perfect musical? You're darn tootin'! It sure is the perfect feel good movie. 
10/10
 
SINGLE WHITE FEMALE (18)
D: Barbet Schroeder
Columbia Tristar (Barbet Schroeder)
US 1992
108 mins

Thriller

W: Don Roos [based on the novel "SWF Seeks Same" by John Lutz]
DP: Luciano Tovoli
Ed: Lee Percy
Mus: Howard Shore

Bridget Fonda (Allie Jones), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hedra Carlson / Ellen Besch), Steven Weber (Sam Rawson), Peter Friedman (Graham Knox), Stephen Tobolowsky (Mitch Myerson)

Another of umpteen [fill-in-the-blank]-from-hell thrillers which saturated the genre during the early 1990's.
This particular one focuses on a flatmate from hell, as Jennifer Jason Leigh's psychopathic character becomes Bridget Fonda's new roommate.
It's all colour-by-numbers plotting, with a few effective shock moments, but chances are you've seen it all before in various other guises. The only factor which sets this apart from others are the good performances of the two main actresses and some creative set pieces, particularly the "death by stiletto" moment.
6/10
 
"Love is a game. Easy to start. Hard to finish."
"Love is a game. Easy to start. Hard to finish."
SINGLES (12)
D: Cameron Crowe
Warner Bros./Atkinson/Knickerbocker (Richard Hashimoto & Cameron Crowe)
US 1992
99 mins

Comedy/Romance

W: Cameron Crowe
DP: Ueli Steiger
Ed: Richard Chew
Mus: Paul Westerberg

Bridget Fonda (Janet Livermore), Campbell Scott (Steve Dunne), Kyra Sedgwick (Linda Powell), Matt Dillon (Cliff Poncier), Sheila Kelley (Debbie Hunt), Jim True (David Bailey)

One of 1992's little known gems, Singles could almost be seen as a pre-cursor to the TV series "Friends", both in terms of its set up and execution.
Set amongst Seattle's grunge scene of the early 1990's, a group of friends who live in the same apartment complex look for love, with most of the story focusing on the relationships between Steve & Linda (Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick) and Janet & Cliff (Bridget Fonda & Matt Dillon).
A perceptive comedy on the lives of professional twentysomethings. Cameron Crowe's screenplay style always brings something a little different without the regular cliches you'd come to expect and the soundtrack is full of some great songs from the early 1990's, including tracks from Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and some songs penned especially for the film by Replacement's frontman Paul Westerberg.
7/10
 
SIRENS (15)
D: John Duigan
Miramax/Umbrella/AFFC (Sue Milliken)
Australia/UK 1994
94 mins

Drama

W: John Duigan
DP: Geoff Burton
Ed: Humphrey Dixon
Mus: Rachel Portman

Hugh Grant (Rev. Anthony Campion), Tara Fitzgerald (Estella Campion), Sam Neill (Norman Lindsay), Elle MacPherson (Sheela), Portia de Rossi (Giddy), Kate Fischer (Pru), Ben Mendelsohn (Lewis)

An English vicar and his repressed wife visit the home of Australian painter Norman Lindsay, where they find themselves captivated by his bohemian lifestyle and the models who live with him.
Sirens could be seen as a raunchy cousin to Merchant-Ivory pictures or even a stiff-upper-lip version of erotic cinema, depending on the viewer's tastes. The performances are generally good, even from the supermodels in the cast who are making their film performance debuts (Elle MacPherdon, a standout), but the film isn't particularly memorable, even with scenes featuring unabashed full frontal nudity. Released in 1994, along with Four Weddings & A Funeral, it created a fanbase in America for (the then quite-unknown) Hugh Grant.
6/10
 
"No sex. No booze. No men. No way."
"No sex. No booze. No men. No way."
SISTER ACT (15)
D: Emile Ardolino
Touchstone/Touchwood Pacific Partners (Teri Schwartz)
US 1992
100 mins

Comedy

W: Joseph Howard
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Richard Halsey
Mus: Marc Shaiman

Whoopi Goldberg (Deloris Van Cartier / Sister Mary Clarence), Maggie Smith (Rev. Mother Superior), Kathy Najimy (Sister Mary Patrick), Wendy Makkena (Sister Mary Robert), Mary Wickes (Sister Mary Lazarus), Harvey Keitel (Vince LaRocca), Bill Nunn (Lt. Eddie Southern)

A lounge singer on the run from her psychotic mobster boyfriend is put in the witness protection program and takes refuge in a strict Catholic convent where she uses her talents to transform their singing choir.
A typical fish-out-of-water comedy with an energetic leading performance from Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith nearly stealing the show without really trying.  The only irritating performance for me was from Kathy Najimy.
It was the surprise box office success of 1992, becoming the 4th biggest film of the year, spawning a (cash grab) sequel and a musical stage production.
6/10
 
SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT (12)
D: Bill Duke
Touchstone (Scott Rudin & Dawn Steel)
US 1993
106 mins

Comedy/Musical

W: James Orr, Jim Cruickshank & Judi Ann Mason [based on characters created by Joseph Howard]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: John Carter, Pem Herring & Stuart Pappé
Mus: Miles Goodman

Whoopi Goldberg (Deloris van Cartier / Sister Mary Clarence), Maggie Smith (Reverend Mother), Kathy Najimy (Sister Mary Patrick), Barnard Hughes (Father Maurice), Mary Wickes (Sister Mary Lazarus), James Coburn (Mr. Crisp), Lauryn Hill (Rita Louise Watson)

Cash-grab sequel with Whoopi Goldberg returning as the singer-turned-nun hired to educate a group of underachieving school students with a reluctant attitude towards her interloping.
The very same formula from the first film is relocated from convent to ghetto school in a smug, patronising and annoyingly stereotypical way.
It found success within its target audience of (mostly) teenage girls, but everyone else will struggle to find any enjoyment in it. At the very least, it provided a platform for Lauryn Hill to showcase her talents before fronting pop-r&b group The 'Fugees.
4/10
 
"After this week in paradise. They're going to need a vacation."
"After this week in paradise. They're going to need a vacation."
SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS (12)
D: Ivan Reitman
Touchstone/Caravan/Northern Lights (Ivan Reitman, Wallis Nicita & Roger Birnbaum)
US 1998
101 mins

Adventure/Comedy/Romance

W: Michael Browning
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Sheldon Kahn & Wendy Bricmont
Mus: Randy Edelman

Harrison Ford (Quinn Harris), Anne Heche (Robin Monroe), David Schwimmer (Frank Martin), Temeura Morrison (Jager)

An ageing pilot flying a fashion journalist to Tahiti so she can be with her fiancé has to make an emergency landing on a remote island where the pair become stranded. 
A film without an identity. As an adventure, Harrison Ford is far too old for the on-screen shenanigans to be convincing and as a romance, the partnership of Ford & Anne Heche lacks any chemistry. Even as a comedy, there isn't really any humour aside from - he's old, she's scatty and David Schwimmer turns up as Ross from Friends. The plotting is so glaringly obvious that you could easily skip an hour and still know what's going on.
Very average entertainment.
4/10
 
THE 6TH DAY (15)
D: Roger Spottiswoode
Columbia/Phoenix (Mike Medavoy, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Jon Davison)
US 2000
124 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Cormac Wibberley & Marianne Wibberley
DP: Pierre Mignot
Ed: Mark Conte, Dominique Fortin & Michel Arcand
Mus: Trevor Rabin

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Adam Gibson / Clone), Tony Goldwyn (Michael Drucker), Michael Rapaport (Hank Morgan), Michael Rooker (Robert Marshall), Sarah Wynter (Talia Elsworth), Wendy Crewson (Natalie Gibson), Robert Duvall (Dr. Griffin Weir)

A helicopter pilot finds himself on the run from government authorities after he discovers that he has been cloned.
Two Arnold Schwarzeneggers does not double the fun. In fact, the quota of action scenes are greatly toned down from the star's usual output and the special effects which do appear in the rare set piece aren't particularly special. The plot doesn't have one iota of intelligence, which wouldn't be a bad thing if the action provided more entertainment and Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance is extraordinarily bad, even for his standards. 
The title obviously replies to the bible verse that "on the sixth day, God created man". Perhaps the studio should have called it The Seventh Day and had a rest instead.
4/10
 
"Not every gift is a blessing."
"Not every gift is a blessing."
THE SIXTH SENSE (15)
D: M. Night Shyamalan
Buena Vista/Hollywood/Spyglass (Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy & Barry Mendel)
US 1999
107 mins

Horror

W: M. Night Shyamalan 
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Andrew Mondshein
Mus: James Newton Howard

Bruce Willis (Malcolm Crowe), Haley Joel Osment (Cole Sear), Toni Collette (Lynn Sear), Olivia Williams (Anna Crowe), Donnie Wahlberg (Vincent Gray), Mischa Barton (Kyra Collins)

Amongst the great horror movies of recent times. Bruce Willis stars as a child psychologist who investigates the case of a young boy who claims that he can see ghosts. 
Some elements of the story are rather obvious, but it's the telling of the story which makes this a special film, building atmosphere and tension with a great use of cinematography, editing and music. The performances are also incredibly good, particularly Haley Joel Osment with one of the all-time greatest juvenile performances in cinema history. Credit must also go to Toni Colette as the young boy's mother, perhaps even more so due to her character being so underwritten.
Though it's essentially a horror movie, it inclines towards interaction between the characters, smart dialogue and clever mis-en-scene to give it dramatic impact, rather than relying on clichéd scare tactics, gratuitous gore and high body counts.
The film became the sleeper hit of 1999 and one of the most successful films of all time. Unfortunately for writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, he couldn't quite reach the same heights following this, with each subsequent film becoming progressively worse.
9/10
 

SKY CAPTAIN & THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (PG)

D: Kerry Conran

Paramount/Brooklyn Films II/Riff Raff/Blue Flower/Filmauro (Jon Avnet, Marsha Oglesby, Sadie Frost & Jude Law)

US 2004

106 mins


Action/Adventure/Science Fiction


W: Kerry Conran

DP: Eric Adkins

Ed: Sabrina Plisco

Mus: Edward Shearmur


Jude Law (Joseph Sullivan), Gwyneth Paltrow (Polly Perkins), Angelina Jolie (Cmmdr. Francesca Cook), Giovanni Ribisi (Dex)


To call Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow an admirable failure would be both harsh and true, for the revolutionary technical achievements are let down by a rather mundane, by-the-numbers plot.

Set in an alternative, technology advanced 1939, New York City is attacked by huge robots and America's best chance for a saviour is Joseph Sullivan, the titular Sky Captain, whose private Air Force, the Flying Legion are put into action. 

The plot feels very much recycled from superhero movies of the 1990's (notably The Rocketeer), though the visual style of the film can by marvelled at, since the entire production was filmed in a green screen environment, without physical sets (a technique perfected by Sin City (qv) a year later), although the glazed colour grading here can be a little headache-inducing after a while.

It's unfortunate that the film was a box office flop, it isn't a terrible watch, it's just a good example of a film which failed to find its audience.

5/10


SKYFALL (12)
D: Sam Mendes
Columbia/MGM/Eon (Michael G. Wilson & Barbara Broccoli)
UK/US 2012
143 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & John Logan [based on characters created by Ian Fleming]
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Stuart Baird
Mus: Thomas Newman

Daniel Craig (James Bond), Javier Bardem (Raoul Silva), Judi Dench (M), Ralph Fiennes (Gareth Mallory), Naomie Harris (Eve Moneypenny), Berenice Marlohe (Severine), Albert Finney (Kincaid), Ben Whishaw (Q)

Like Casino Royale & Quantum of Solace, Skyfall takes the franchise in a completely different direction from the Connery, Moore & Brosnan movies of yesteryear, but still keep the staple of thrilling set pieces, impressive stunts and high-octane special effects, sometimes at the expense of a good story.
Bond meets his match with a new villain, a former agent who plans on assassinating high profile members of MI5. 
There's a fair share of clichés, goofs and shameless product placement, but there's also many stunning visuals, breathtaking action scenes and stunts, but it all goes on just that little bit too long.
Javier Bardem makes one of the series' very best villains but doesn't quite get enough screen time and comes into the film much too late.
Much was hyped when Skyfall hit cinemas in the Autumn of 2012, though much of this was due to the commemoration of 50 years since the first Bond movie (Dr. No) was released rather than the brilliance of this segment.
6/10

"Don't look up."
"Don't look up."
SKYLINE (15)
D: Greg Strause & Colin Strause
Universal/Rogue/Relativity Media (Greg Strause, Colin Strause, Kristian Andresen & Liam O'Donnell)
US 2010
94 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Thriller

W: Joshua Cordes & Liam O'Donnell
DP: Michael Watson
Ed: Nicholas Wayman-Harris
Mus: Matthew Margeson

Eric Balfour (Jarrod), Scottie Thompson (Elaine), Brittany Daniel (Candice), Crystal Reed (Denise), David Zayas (Oliver), Donald Faison (Terry)

Though it's far from a perfect film, this was very harshly treated by critics and audiences when it first made its cinema bow.
It's your typical alien takeover blockbuster with the associated wooden acting, one-dimensional characters and minimalist dialogue, but it succeeds where others fail by upholding the suspension of disbelief to realistic effect, it's also very light on the cliché-meter with a surprisingly refreshing ending to boot.
A very underrated update on sci-fi B-movies for a new generation. It's just a shame it was unappreciated, since it's a better movie than Battle: Los Angeles (qv).
5/10

SKYSCRAPER (12)

D: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Universal/Legendary/Seven Bucks (Beau Flynn, Dwayne Johnson, Hiram Garcia & Rawson Marshall Thurber)

US 2018

102 mins


Action/Thriller


W: Rawson Marshall Thurber

DP: Robert Elswit

Ed: Michael Sale & Julian Clarke

Mus: Steve Jablonsky


Dwayne Johnson (Will Sawyer), Neve Campbell (Sarah Sawyer), Chin Han (Zhao Long Ji), Roland Møller (Kores Botha), Pablo Schreiber (Ben)


20 years after Die Hard appeared on our cinema screens and 34 years after The Towering Inferno was a huge hit comes this merge of both plots, starring Dwayne Johnson as a security expert and former FBI agent who must rescue his family from a high tech Hong Kong skyscraper which is subject to a terrorist attack and engulfed in fire.

This film knows which other movies it's ripping off, but does so with its tongue firmly in cheek and although Dwayne Johnson plays the same character he plays in everything else, he's such a likeable personality, it's virtually impossible to get offended by his lack-of-acting skills.

Farfetched, of course, but some of the set pieces will have you on the edge of your seat and the suspension of disbelief is just on the right side, to make you truly believe that a one-legged amputee can really jump into a building with a single bound.

It certainly won't be turning heads when the awards season comes about, but for a popcorn movie, this is fine entertainment.

6/10


"A man becomes unstuck in time in the film that became a classic."
"A man becomes unstuck in time in the film that became a classic."
SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE (18)
D: George Roy Hill
Universal/Vanadas (Paul Monash)
US 1972
104 mins

War/Science Fiction

W: Stephen Geller [based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut]
DP: Miroslav Ondricek
Ed: Dede Allen
Mus: Glenn Gould
PD: Henry Bumstead

Michael Sacks (Billy Pilgrim), Ron Liebman (Paul Lazzaro), Eugene Roche (Edgar Derby), Sharon Gans (Valencia Pilgrim), Valerie Perrine (Montana Wildhack)

Slaughterhouse Five is a film which most likely requires its viewers to have read the Kurt Vonnegut classic anti-war novel it's based upon beforehand. That being said, this film adaptation makes the complexities of the source material much easier to mentally digest. It's a genuine paradox, much like the subject matter itself.
The plot is an enigma, a philosophical musing that timelines don't exist in the linear, but rather all at once and in non-sequential order. Lost? Well, yes. This is why reading the book might be considered a pre-requisite.
Michael Sacks plays Billy Pilgrim, a WWII veteran who "timejumps" from his settled family life in suburbia back and forth to his experiences in World War II and his time spent interned in a Dresden POW camp, as well as forward into the distant future on the planet Tralfamadore, where he is confined to a zoo-like dome with an adult movie star as his love interest, observed by aliens who only exist in the 4th dimension.
The deep plot will sound twisted and convuluted to those unfamiliar with Vonnegut's prose, but screenwriter Stephen Geller does a fantastic job adapting such a challenging piece of literature.
Part science fiction, part war but wholly brilliant in its execution and craft, this is up there with Catch-22 as one of the all-time anti-war works.
Recommended especially to those who've read and enjoyed the original novel.
7/10
 
"After all, what are friends for?"
"After all, what are friends for?"
SLEEP WITH ME (18)
D: Rory Kelly
August/Paribas/Revolution (Michael Steinberg, Roger Hedden & Eric Stoltz)
US 1994
94 mins

Comedy/Drama

W: Duane Dell'Amico, Roger Hedden, Neal Jimenez, Joe Keenan, Rory Kelly & Michael Steinberg
DP: Andrzej Sekula
Ed: David Moritz
Mus: David Lawrence

Eric Stoltz (Joseph), Meg Tilly (Sarah), Craig Sheffer (Frank), Todd Field (Duane), Parker Posey (Athena), Quentin Tarantino (Sid)

Sleep With Me is a better idea than it is a film, featuring a story of a woman's affair with her fiance's best friend split over six separate scenes written by six separate writers.
It's probably most better known however for a cameo appearance from Quentin Tarantino at a house party, where he dissects the homoerotic context of Top Gun. 
A modest independent film, with a good trio of performances from its leads and a noble attempt at something new. 
6/10

"Four friends made a mistake that changed their lives forever."
"Four friends made a mistake that changed their lives forever."
SLEEPERS (18)
D: Barry Levinson
Warner Bros./Propaganda/Baltimore (Steve Golin & Barry Levinson)
US 1996
147 mins

Drama/Thriller

W: Barry Levinson [based on the book by Lorenzo Carcaterra]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Stu Linder
Mus: John Williams 
PD: Kristi Zea

Kevin Bacon (Sean Nokes), Billy Crudup (Tommy), Robert DeNiro (Father Bobby), Minnie Driver (Carol), Dustin Hoffman (Danny Snyder), Jason Patric (Shakes), Brad Pitt (Michael)

Sleepers is very much a story of three acts, the first filmed in the style of a 1930's gangster film and the final part as a courtroom drama. The second act is where the plot is moulded into its shape, as a group of friends use the help of a respected priest and a high-standing lawyer to get away with the murder of a pederastic prison guard who molested them while they were incarcerated for accidental manslaughter.
There's shades of Once Upon A Time In America (qv) in the execution, using meticulous period design and photography to capture the crime-ridden Hell's Kitchen part of New York during the 1960's.
A solid adaptation of Lorenzo Carcaterra's book, with good performances from the ensemble, though its claims to be based on a true story seem a little dramatised and sensationalistic.
7/10
 
SLEEPING BEAUTY (U)
D: Clyde Geronimi
Disney (Ken Peterson)
US 1959
75 mins

Animated

W: Erdman Penner [based on the books "La Belle Au Bois Dormant" by Charles Perrault, "Little Briar Rose" by The Brothers Grimm & the ballet "The Sleeping Beauty" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky]
Mus: George Bruns

voices of: Mary Costa (Princess Aurora), Bill Shirley (Prince Phillip), Eleanor Audley (Maleficent), Verna Felton (Flora), Barbara Jo Allen (Fauna), Barbara Luddy (Merryweather)

Like Cinderella, this is a Disney cartoon feature which appeals far more to younger girls than it would younger boys. A stereotype, I know, but I still believe it's an accurate one.
Adapted from three sources, the fairytale of a beautiful princess put to sleep by the spell of a wicked witch fits in well with the rest of the Disney production line, but the story is just too light to build a feature around, therefore there's a lot of filler which doesn't relevantly serve the plot, as well as a lot of songs which aren't particularly memorable in comparison to those from previous films.
Ironically, it's little princesses who will be awoken by this feature and it's the little princes who will be put to sleep.
6/10
 
"She changed her name. Her looks. Her life. All to escape the most dangerous man she's ever met. Her husband."
"She changed her name. Her looks. Her life. All to escape the most dangerous man she's ever met. Her husband."
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY (15)
D: Joseph Ruben
20th Century Fox (Leonard Goldberg)
US 1991
99 mins

Thriller

W: Ronald Bass [based on the novel by Nancy Price]
DP: John W. Lindley
Ed: George Bowers
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith

Julia Roberts (Laura Williams Burney / Sara Waters), Patrick Bergin (Martin Burney), Kevin Anderson (Ben Woodward), Elizabeth Lawrence (Chloe Williams)

A huge hit when it was released in 1991, though this is more likely to be attributed to Julia Roberts' (heading off the back of Pretty Woman's success) name attached to it than the storyline of the movie. 
In order to escape her violent husband, a woman fakes her own death and takes a new identity, but her previous life soon catches up with her.
Plotting-by-numbers husband-from-hell thriller which doesn't stand out from the dozens of other similarly plotted films released around the same time. The performances are okay, but there's nothing particularly memorable about the film in general.
4/10
 
"What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew, was the only someone for you?"
"What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew, was the only someone for you?"
SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (PG)
D: Nora Ephron
Tristar (Gary Foster)
US 1993
105 mins

Romance/Comedy

W: Nora Ephron, David S. Ward & Jeff Arch
DP: Sven Nykvist
Ed: Robert Reitano
Mus: Marc Shaiman

Tom Hanks (Sam Baldwin), Meg Ryan (Annie Reed), Ross Malinger (Jonah Baldwin), Rita Wilson (Suzy), Bill Pullman (Walter), Rosie O'Donnell (Becky), Rob Reiner (Jay)

Sleepless In Seattle is one of those idyllic romantic stories which only works within the confines of a Hollywood movie.
The screenplay unashamedly rides on the coat-tails of the romance classics of the 1940's and 50's, notably "An Affair To Remember", which is referenced a few times in the dialogue.
The story sees an unlikely relationship develop between two people living at completely different ends of the United States. When Tom Hanks' young son calls in to a radio talk show to play matchmaker, a journalist from New York hears the call and begins to question her own engagement.
Nora Ephron fails to capture the realism or humour which served her so well in her script to When Harry Met Sally (qv).  There's a handful of good one-liners between Tom Hanks & Ross Salinger, and their father-son relationship is very well presented. What weakens the film is the cloying character Meg Ryan portrays, who just seems to act on impulse throughout the entire film.
The film proved incredibly popular during its cinema release in 1993, but it's fair to say that you wouldn't lose any sleep if you were to let this romantic comedy pass you by.
6/10
 
"They feast on your fear - and it's dinner time."
"They feast on your fear - and it's dinner time."
SLEEPWALKERS (18)
D: Mick Garris
Columbia Tristar/ION (Mark Victor, Michael Grais & Nabeel Zahid)
US 1992
89 mins

Horror

W: Stephen King
DP: Rodney Charters
Ed: O. Nicholas Brown
Mus: Nicholas Pike

Brian Krause (Charles Brady), Mädchen Amick (Tanya Robertson), Alice Krige (Mary Brady), Jim Haynie (Donald Robertson), Cindy Pickett (Helen Robertson), Ron Perlman (Capt. Soames)

A mother and son, both shape-shifting, vampiric creatures and the last of their species, move into a small town community, where they feast on the blood of young girls for sustenance. This isn't a vampire movie however, as the creatures' true forms are in the shape of large cats and they share a mutual hatred and hostility towards the domesticated kind.
Written directly for the screen by Stephen King, rather than adapted from one of his novels, this strange horror features way too many cats, too little suspense and very little entertainment. The film does feature one of cinemas most unusual death scenes, where a corn on the cob is the lethal implement, but this really is the only notable moment in a somnambulant film.
4/10
 
"Heads will roll."
"Heads will roll."
SLEEPY HOLLOW (15)
D: Tim Burton
Paramount/Mandalay/American Zoetrope (Scott Rudin & Adam Schroeder)
US 1999
105 mins

Horror/Mystery/Fantasy

W: Andrew Kevin Walker [based on the short story "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving]
DP: Emmanuel Lubezki
Ed: Chris Lebenzon 
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Rick Heinrichs
Cos: Colleen Atwood

Johnny Depp (Ichabod Crane), Christina Ricci (Katrina Van Tassel), Miranda Richardson (Mary Van Tassel), Michael Gambon (Baltus Van Tassel), Caspar Van Dien (Brom Van Brunt), Jeffrey Jones (Rev. Steenwyck), Christopher Walken (The Headless Horseman)

Washington Irving's classic ghost story gets the fairytale treatment, albeit in the usual gothic style Tim Burton has employed throughout his directorial career.          
An efféte New York police inspector investigates a series of murders in the small town of Sleepy Hollow, where it transpires that they have been perpetrated by a headless horseman, whose spirit has been commanded by whomever has lifted the curse.
The excellent cinematography and production design are a tribute to the Hammer Horror classics of the 1960's and make this film a treat for the eye to behold. The screenplay is far from perfect, but good performances wash over that, particularly Christopher Walken, who makes a perfect choice for the ghostly cavalier, though the second villain is less impressive, a character seemingly plucked directly from a pantomime.
Despite the flaws, there's plenty here to keep you awake.
7/10
 

SLENDER MAN (15)

D: Sylvain White

Sony/Screen Gems/Mythology/Madhouse (Bradley J. Fischer, James Vanderbilt, William Sharak, Robyn Meisinger & Sarah Snow)

US 2018

93 mins


Horror


W: David Burke [based on the character created by Victor Surge]

DP: Luca Del Puppo

Ed: Jake York

Mus: Ramin Djawadi & Brandon Campbell 


Julia Goldani Telles (Hallie Knudsen), Joey King (Wren), Jaz Sinclair (Chloe), Annalise Basso (Katie), Taylor Richardson (Lizzie Knudsen)


This poor excuse for a horror movie takes its inspiration from a character created for an internet meme which became more prevalently known due to school campus chit-chat. With that in mind, it's understandable that this film is aimed solely at a teenage audience, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a terrible movie. Slender Man = slender plot.

During a sleepover, four teenage girls summon the Slender Man, a supernatural being who kidnaps children and is only visible to those who believe in his existence, but as strange things occur the girls investigate further and further allowing them to believe in the mythical menace even more.

The film has many problems, mostly being that the characters are boring, the villain isn't threatening, the mood isn't foreboding and the whole thing generally lacks tension. Also, it isn't scary.

One way it does succeed is by theorising that Slender Man depends on people investigating his existence on the internet... I had to google what the fuck I just watched immediately after leaving the cinema.

2/10


"Think of the perfect crime... Then go one step further."
"Think of the perfect crime... Then go one step further."
SLEUTH (15)
D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Palomar (Morton Gottlieb)
UK 1972
139 mins

Mystery

W: Anthony Shaffer [based on his play]
DP: Oswald Morris
Mus: John Addison

Laurence Olivier (Andrew Wyke), Michael Caine (Milo Tindle)

Had Sleuth been brought to screen a decade earlier, there's little doubt it would have been the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, holding the directorial reins. Still, this isn't to discredit the work of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who along with playwright Anthony Shaffer does a splendid job adapting the latter's one-set stage play. Credit must also go to the tour de force performances of both Laurence Olivier & Michael Caine.
Olivier plays an ageing writer who invites his wife's lover to his home, where they challenge each other over a game of wits with potentially deadly consequences.
The subject matter is perhaps much better suited to stage, but when you get two leading performances as good as this, who are we to complain?
8/10
 
SLIDING DOORS (15)
D: Peter Howitt
Paramount/Miramax (Sydney Pollack, Philippa Braithwaite & William Horberg)
UK/US 1998
108 mins

Romance/Comedy

W: Peter Howitt 
DP: Remi Adefarasin
Ed: John Smith
Mus: David Hirschfelder

Gwyneth Paltrow (Helen Quilley), John Hannah (James Hammerton), John Lynch (Gerry), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Lydia), Zara Turner (Anna), Virginia McKenna (Mrs. Hammerton)

Two lives unravel for a PR executive, one in which she catches an early train home to catch her boyfriend having an affair, and another in which she catches the train. However, both lives happen to lead to the same destiny.
Though Gwyneth Paltrow delivers a convincing British accent, the twin stories are only possible to follow when one of the Gwyneth's get a haircut. 
This British rom-com has moments of wit and charm, but is unfortunately flawed because of underwritten characters, one of which we get treated to twice. 
5/10
 
SLING BLADE (18)
D: Billy Bob Thornton
Miramax/Shooting Gallery (Brandon Rosser & David L. Bushell)
US 1996
136 mins

Drama

W: Billy Bob Thornton [adapted from his short film screenplay "Some Call It A Sling Blade"]
DP: Barry Markowitz
Ed: Hughes Winborne
Mus: Daniel Lanois

Billy Bob Thornton (Karl Childers), Dwight Yoakam (Doyle Hargraves), J.T. Walsh (Charles Bushman), John Ritter (Vaughan Cunningham), Lucas Black (Frank Wheatley), Natalie Canderday (Linda Wheatley), Robert Duvall (Mr. Childers)

Adapted from a short film called "Some Folks Call It A Sling Blade" also written by Billy Bob Thornton, this movie provided his big break as writer, director and star. 
Thornton plays Karl Childers, a simple man recently released from a mental hospital where he spent 25 years after killing his mother and her lover. 
Finding difficulty re-entering society, he befriends a young boy (Lucas Black) and his mother who allow him to live in their garage, much to the malign of the mother's thuggish boyfriend (Dwight Yoakam).
All the cast are excellent, but it's Billy Bob Thornton's performance that make this a fascinating watch. Karl is such a passive character, but you can't help but sympathise with him, despite the opening scene where he confesses the murder of his mother to an up-and-coming newspaper reporter.
A stirring drama which I'd heavily recommend. Billy Bob Thornton will never better this.
8/10
 
THE SLIPPER & THE ROSE (PG)
D: Bryan Forbes
Paradine Co-Productions (David Frost & Stuart Lyons)
UK 1976
146 mins

Romance/Fantasy/Musical

W: Bryan Forbes, Robert Sherman & Richard Sherman [based on the story "Cinderella" by The Brothers Grimm]
DP: Tony Imi
Mus: Richard Sherman & Robert Sherman
PD: Ray Simm

Gemma Craven (Cinderella), Richard Chamberlain (Prince Edward), Margaret Lockwood (The Wicked Stepmother), Michael Hordern (The King), Edith Evans (Dowager Queen), Annette Crosbie (Fairy Godmother)

British production The Slipper & The Rose is a dramatisation of the Cinderella fairy tale with the addition of some original songs (penned by The Sherman Brothers), handsome production design, exquisite costumes and some rather conservative performances. Unfortunately, the one important thing it's missing is any sense of magic.
Little girls will enjoy it a lot more than little boys. For me, it's just pantomime stuff... I'm surprised more of the usual luvvies weren't cast.
5/10
 
"From the depths of the earth to the edge of existence... The hunt is on."
"From the depths of the earth to the edge of existence... The hunt is on."
SLIPSTREAM (PG)
D: Steven Lisburger
Entertainment Film Productions (Gary Kurtz)
UK 1989
102 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Tony Kayden
DP: Frank Tidy
Ed: Terry Rawlings
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
PD: Andrew McAlpine

Mark Hamill (Will Tasker), Bob Peck (Byron), Bill Paxton (Matt Owens), Kitty Aldridge (Belitski), Eleanor David (Ariel), Ben Kingsley (Avatar), F. Murray Abraham (Cornelius), Robbie Coltrane (Montclaire)

An android with human emotions is hunted through the universe by a pair of bounty hunters.
This poorly executed Blade Runner ripoff has very little to recommend it and not surprisingly nearly bankrupted the producer, who had previously brought Star Wars to the big screen. Even with Mark Hamill giving his first mainstream performance since 1983's Return Of The Jedi, it failed to captivate audiences, again, not surprisingly since it had him grossly miscast as the villain.
You'd be forgiven if you let this one slip you by.
4/10
 
"You like to watch... Don't you?"
"You like to watch... Don't you?"
SLIVER (18)
D: Phillip Noyce
Paramount (Robert Evans)
US 1993
103 mins

Thriller

W: Joe Eszterhas [based on the novel by Ira Levin]
DP: Vilmos Zsigmond
Ed: Richard Francis-Bruce
Mus: Howard Shore

Sharon Stone (Carly Norris), William Baldwin (Zeke Hawkins), Tom Berenger (Jack Landsford), Martin Landau (Alex Parsons), Colleen Camp (Judy Marks)

Riding on the success of Basic Instinct and based on a voyeuristic thriller by Ira Levin, this is just another psychotic sex movie scripted by Joe Eszterhas & starring sex kitten of the moment Sharon Stone.
Unfortunately, this plays out more like a comedy, unintentionally funny when it should evoke tension and cheesy when it should be seductive.
Stone plays an uptight, chaste (ha ha) book editor who moves into a Manhattan skyrise apartment owned by the creepiest guy in New York (Stephen Baldwin).  There's a serial killer on the loose and he may live in the same building, but that is on the periphery of the story as most of the movie focuses on Sharon Stone getting fucked.
The chemistry between Baldwin & Stone is excruciatingly laughable, although the badness of this movie cannot be blamed on miscast performers alone. It was flawed at basic script level and the Ira Levin book deserved a better adaptation, especially the bungled ending which was pieced together due to late reshoots. Very thin stuff.
3/10
 
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (15)
D: Danny Boyle
Pathé/Celador/Film4 (Christian Colson)
UK/India 2008
115 mins

Drama

W: Simon Beaufoy [based on the novel "Q & A" by Vikas Swarup]
DP: Anthony Dod Mantle
Ed: Chris Dickens
Mus: A. R. Rahman
PD: Mark Digby

Dev Patel (Jamal Malik), Frieda Pinto (Latika), Madhur Mittal (Salim Malik), Anil Kapoor (Prem Kumar), Irrfan Khan (Police Inspector)

Jamal Malik, a teenage call centre worker from a humble background is interrogated by police following his performance on an episode of the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", where he is one question away from winning the fortune jackpot. Convinced that his success is due to cheating by the officers and show's producers, Jamal explains how some significant events of his life happened to imbibe him with the correct answers, from his early childhood in the Mumbai slums where he and his brother are orphaned following the murder of their mother, to escaping a group of gangsters who use homeless children for hustling purposes, as well as his present life, where it emerges that he only wanted to participate on the show to catch the eye of his long-lost childhood sweetheart.
Director Danny Boyle gives the film a unique style against the Indian backdrop, getting the very best out of his cast, especially the young performers who play Jamal throughout the different years of his life.
The marketing presented Slumdog Millionaire as a feelgood movie, but there's many scenes which negate this sentiment, despite ending on an upbeat note, including a Bollywood-style dance finale which feels very out of place considering everything that preceded it.
Adapted from Vikas Swarup's novel Q & A, the film delivers an important message, even in the 21st century, firstly for showing the gulf in class in India's most deprived areas, but mostly for portraying someone from an underprivileged background as an equal.
Winner of 8 Oscars, including Best Picture & Best Director.
8/10
 
SMALL SOLDIERS (PG)
D: Joe Dante
Dreamworks/Universal/Amblin (Mike Finnell & Colin Wilson)
US 1998
110 mins

Adventure/Comedy/Science Fiction

W: Gavin Scott, Adam Rifkin, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
DP: Jamie Anderson
Ed: Marshall Harvey & Michael Thau
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith

Kirsten Dunst (Christy Fimple), Gregory Smith (Alan Abernathy), Phil Hartman (Phil Fimple), Kevin Dunn (Stuart Abernathy), Denis Leary (Gil Mars), Jay Mohr (Larry Benson)
voices of: Tommy Lee Jones (Chip Hazard), Frank Langella (Archer), Ernest Borgnine (Kip Killigan), George Kennedy (Brick Bazooka), Bruce Dern (Link), Christopher Guest (Slamfist), Michael McKean (Insaniac)

Toy soldiers, inadvertently fitted with experimental munitions chips used by the American military, run amok in a small town neighbourhood, programmed to destroy another brand of toys called The Gorgonites, fitted out with similar technology.
Director Joe Dante, reuniting with executive producer Steven Spielberg, uses the same B-movie style he employed in Gremlins (qv), but the plot of the film merely makes this feel like a lower quality knockoff of the 1980's classic. There's some good moments, starting with some black comedy which it doesn't stick with, as well as some very good visual effects, but ultimately this is rather disappointing. A shame, since this could have been a much better film.
This marked the last screen appearance of actor Phil Hartman (also a regular on TV's The Simpsons) before his death by murder in May 1998.
5/10
 
SMOKEY & THE BANDIT (PG)
D: Hal Needham
Universal/Rastar (Robert L. Levy)
US 1977
97 mins

Comedy/Adventure

W: James Lee Barrett, Charles Shyer & Alan Mandel
DP: Bobby Byrne
Ed: Walter Hannemann & Angelo Ross

Burt Reynolds (Bo 'Bandit' Darville), Sally Field (Carrie 'Frog'), Jackie Gleason (Sheriff Buford T. Justice, 'Smokey'), Jerry Reed (Cledus 'Snowman' Snow)

Iconic car chase movie which was a huge hit at the time of release, spawning a couple of sequels which were less successful.
It's a car chase movie, so you pretty much know what you're in for. Burt Reynolds plays a bootlegger who drives across the US with Sally Field, while her manic police officer fiancé gives chase.
Smokey & The Bandit is a genuine guilty pleasure movie which is still held in high regard by many, but to call it a classic would be a huge overstatement.
Sequels followed, but failed to capture the fun factor of the original movie.
6/10
 
"Believe everything except your eyes."
"Believe everything except your eyes."
SNAKE EYES (15)
D: Brian de Palma
Buena Vista/DeBart (Brian de Palma)
US 1998
99 mins

Thriller

W: David Koepp
DP: Stephen H. Burum
Ed: Bill Pankow
Mus: Ryuichi Sakamoto

Nicolas Cage (Det. Rick Santoro), Gary Sinise (Cmmdr. Kevin Dunne), John Heard (Gilbert Powell), Carla Gugino (Julia Costello), Kevin Dunn (Lou Logan), Michael Rispoli (Jimmy George)

Snake Eyes is a rather underrated thriller. It has many flaws, but it's still reasonably entertaining, held together with some directorial flair and clever camera & editing techniques rather than it's cliched & predictable plot.
Nicolas Cage, overacting hammily throughout, plays a corrupt cop who investigates the assassination of a politician at a boxing championship match, and finds there's nobody who can be trusted.
The plot itself is rather messy, with an ending which can be seen a mile off, the opening however, a 10 minute steadicam panning shot, is amongst the best you'll ever see since the days of Alfred Hitchcock. Brian DePalma isn't quite of the same calibre, but he does homage quite well.
5/10
 
"Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the fright."
"Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the fright."
SNAKES ON A PLANE (15)
D: David R. Ellis
New Line (Gary Levinsohn, Don Granger & Craig Berenson)
US 2006
105 mins

Horror/Action/Adventure

W: John Heffernan & Sebastian Gutierrez
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Howard E. Smith
Mus: Trevor Rabin

Samuel L. Jackson (Agent Neville Flynn), Julianna Margulies (Claire Miller), Nathan Phillips (Sean Jones), Bobby Cannavale (Hank Harris)

Snakes On A Plane began life on internet fan pages whose members mused upon the idea before the filmmakers put it into serious development.
That being said, this isn't a serious movie, and the plot is beyond ridiculous. The title says it all, there's deadly snakes on a plane, released by a maniac to kill a witness (as well as everyone else) and it's down to Samuel L. Jackson to clean up the mess by dropping F-bombs at any opportunity.
This is not a good film, but provided brainless enjoyment to many. As far as bad films go, this is one for which the phrase "so bad, it's good" is incredibly apt.
4/10
 
SNATCH (18)
D: Guy Ritchie
Columbia/Ska (Matthew Vaughn)
UK/US 2000
103 mins

Crime/Comedy

W: Guy Ritchie
DP: Tim Maurice-Jones
Ed: John Harris & Les Healey
Mus: John Murphy

Jason Statham (Turkish), Stephen Graham (Tommy), Brad Pitt (Mickey), Alan Ford (Brick Top), Benicio Del Toro (Franky Four-Fingers), Vinnie Jones (Bullet Tooth Tony)

Various groups of London gangsters and Irish travellers try to steal a diamond back from an American jewel thief.
Guy Ritchie's follow up to Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels is practically cut from the same cloth with many of the same actors playing virtually the same characters. However, the screen lights up whenever Brad Pitt appears, playing an unintelligible, bare-knuckle-fighting Irish gypsy. 
The film proved hugely popular, especially on British soil, but there's plenty of other crime capers which are far better.
6/10
 
"A burglar, a spy, a fugitive, a delinquent, a hacker and a piano teacher... And these are the good guys."
"A burglar, a spy, a fugitive, a delinquent, a hacker and a piano teacher... And these are the good guys."
SNEAKERS (12)
D: Phil Alden Robinson
UIP/Universal (Walter F. Parkes & Lawrence Lasker)
US 1992
125 mins

Crime/Thriller/Comedy

W: Phil Alden Robinson, Walter F. Parkes & Lawrence Lasker
DP: John Lindley
Ed: Tom Rolf
Mus: James Horner

Robert Redford (Martin Bishop), Dan Aykroyd (Darren 'Mother' Roskow), Ben Kingsley (Cosmo), River Phoenix (Carl Arbogast), Sidney Poitier (Donald Crease), David Strathairn (Irwin 'Whistler' Emery), Mary McDonnell (Liz)

A group of oddball computer hackers are hired to reclaim an electronic device from a criminal mastermind who plans to hack into government resources.
A surprisingly fun caper, with a good vein of humour running through it and enjoyable performances from its talented ensemble.
Quite possibly one of the most under-appreciated films of the early 1990's and well worth catching if you can find it (it's proved to be quite elusive since its release).
7/10
 
SNIPER (15)
D: Luis Llosa
Columbia Tristar/Baltimore (Robert L. Rosen)
US 1993
98 mins

Action/Adventure

W: Michael Frost Beckner & Crash Leyland
DP: Bill Butler
Ed: Scott Smith
Mus: Gary Chang

Tom Berenger (Sgt. Thomas Beckett), Billy Zane (Richard Miller), J.T. Walsh (Chester Van Damme), Aden Young (Cpl. Doug Papich), Ken Radley (El Cirijuano)

An expert marksman is joined by a rookie on a dangerous assassination mission in Panama.
This action-thriller has some tense moments, well filmed jungle photography and a pair of competent performances, but the story isn't much above the standard of a TV movie. Not a bad film, but if you were to catch it in your crosshairs, it wouldn't be a terrible thing if you missed it.
Several sequels followed, all released direct-to-video.
5/10
 
SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN (12)
D: Rupert Sanders
Universal (Joe Roth, Sam Mercer & Palak Patel)
US 2012
127 mins

Fantasy/Adventure

W: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock & Hossein Amini [based on the fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm]
DP: Greig Fraser
Ed: Conrad Buff & Neil Smith
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Dominic Watkins
Cos: Colleen Atwood

Kristen Stewart (Snow White), Chris Hemsworth (Eric, the Huntsman), Charlize Theron (Queen Ravenna), Sam Claflin (William), Bob Hoskins (Muir), Ian McShane (Beith), Ray Winstone (Gort), Nick Frost (Nion)

Following the success of 2010's Alice In Wonderland and the conveyor belt of "re-imagined" fairytales as live action projects, it wasn't going to take long for Snow White to get some Hollywood remake treatment. In fact, 2012 saw two adaptations, with Mirror Mirror (qv) released a little earlier the same year.
Snow White & The Huntsman is a reasonably entertaining fantasy, filmed in an apt gothic style with macabre set design, luxurious costume design and impressive visual effects. It's unfortunate that the casting director's didn't have the same eye for aptitude when they cast the repugnant Kristen Stewart as the title character. Charlize Theron, on the other hand, is a much better choice as the pantomime villain.
Most people should be familiar with the Snow White fairytale made most popular with Disney's version (Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs), but perhaps young children won't be, for which this film would generally be unsuitable due to its dark style and mild horror. This is really for a teenage audience and fans of the Twilight movies, both of whom ought to have seen the animated version, so the storyline should have no surprises, until that is, when Snow White's character becomes a powerful warrior, who delivers a Elizabeth I-style monologue before going once more into the breach as though she were Henry V.
It would seem that most modern fantasy movies owe a huge debt of gratitude to the template set down by Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy, of which Snow White & The Huntsman is actually guiltier than most.
5/10
 
SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS (U)
D: David Hand
Disney (Walt Disney)
US 1937
82 mins

Animated

W: Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Dick Richard, Merrill de Maris & Webb Smith [based on the fairy tale "Snow White" by The Brothers Grimm]
Mus: Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline & Paul SmithLarry Morey

voices of: Adriana Caselotti (Snow White), Harry Stockwell (The Prince), Lucille La Verne (Queen Grimhilde), Roy Atwell (Doc), Billy Gilbert (Sneezy), Pinto Colvig (Grumpy / Sleepy), Otis Harlan (Happy), Scotty Mattraw (Bashful)

The first feature length cartoon was a painstaking effort for its animators, taking years in the making, and was considered, at the time at least, a huge risk by producer Walt Disney. In Hollywood, it's widely said that "nobody knows anything", so of course the film was bound to be a worldwide success, as timeless now as it ever was.
The darkness of The Grimm Brothers fairytale has of course been toned down for a more child-friendly audiences, but still has occasional moments of horror, such as the evil queen's transformation to the wicked witch, seducing the virginal Snow White with a poisoned apple so she can finally be the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. The memorable songs however, are all light-hearted and pastoral, not to mention iconic.
Though cel animation has since been replaced by technological advancement and computer-generated images, it cannot be denied that Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs was a groundbreaking achievement.
9/10
 
"The only safe place is on the run."
"The only safe place is on the run."

SNOWDEN (15)

D: Oliver Stone

Open Road/Endgame/Wild Bunch/Krautpack/Onda/Vendian (Moritz Borman, Eric Kopelhoff, Philip Schulz-Deyle & Fernando Sulichin)

US/Germany 2016

134 mins


Biopic/Political


W: Oliver Stone & Kieran Fitzgerald [based on the books 'The Snowden Files' by Luke Harding & 'Time Of The Octopus' by Anatoly Kucherena]

DP: Anthony Dod Mantle

Ed: Alex Marquez & Lee Percy

Mus: Craig Armstrong


Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Edward Snowden), Shailene Woodley (Lindsey Mills), Melissa Leo (Laura Poltras), Zachary Quinto (Glenn Greenwald), Tom Wilkinson (Ewan McAskill), Rhys Ifans (Corbin O'Brien), Nicolas Cage (Hank Forrester)


No stranger to controversial material, director Oliver Stone brings to the screen this biopic of Edward Snowden, who revealed CIA secrets to the press and blew the whistle on some of their methods of public surveillance.

The film begins with Snowden's blossoming career in the CIA, following an accident which cut his service in the army short, and it does become obvious that some of the scenes have been dramatised. 

The performances are very good, however, especially from Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the title character and Rhys Ifans as an unscrupulous government senior, but Nicolas Cage is wasted in a minor cameo role.

Snowden's story was also tackled in the critically-praised documentary Citizen Four.

6/10


"Soon the first snow will come and then he will kill again."
"Soon the first snow will come and then he will kill again."

THE SNOWMAN (15)

D: Tomas Alfredson

Universal/Working Title/Perfect World/Another Park (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo & Peter Gustaffson)

UK 2017

119 mins


Crime/Thriller


W: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan & Søren Sveistrup [based on the novel "Snømannen" by Jo Nesbø]

DP: Dion Beebe

Ed: Claire Simpson & Thelma Schoonmaker

Mus: Marco Beltrami


Michael Fassbender (Harry Hole), Rebecca Ferguson (Katrine Bratt), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Rakel Fauske), Val Kilmer (Gert Rafto), J.K. Simmons (Arve Støp), Chloë Sevigny (Sylvia Ottersen)


The Snowman has to be one of the biggest disappointments of 2017, especially considering the pedigree of the talent involved and that it was based on one of Norway's best-selling novels.

An earlier film based on a Jo Nesbø novel was 2012's Headhunters, which was incredibly well received and amongst my personal favourites of the year, unfortunately quality did not follow suit.

The plot did have promise and the marketing trailer delivered intrigue, but the execution of the film itself failed on many levels, particularly with the editing, which is a shock considering one of the editors was the esteemed Thelma Schoonmaker (Martin Scorsese's regular choice). The acting is fine, but there are too many cameos which go nowhere, as though they were intended to be a red herring, but this doesn't come off well at all and doesn't serve to build tension or suspense.

Michael Fassbender plays an alcoholic detective whose latest case follows a serial killer who leaves clues to where his next crime will be committed and he leaves a snowman with his victim's dismembered body parts attached, unfortunately this doesn't play anywhere near as creepy as it should. 

There could have been a good murder mystery here, but it felt like studio involvement had caused reshoots and a hashed final cut.

Perhaps it would have been better had it been filmed in its native Norwegian. It wouldn't be a huge surprise if this was simply a victim of the original prose becoming lost in translation. 

4/10


"You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies."
"You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies."
THE SOCIAL NETWORK (12)
D: David Fincher
Columbia/Relativity Media/Trigger Street (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca & Ceán Chaffin)
US 2010
115 mins

Drama/Biopic

W: Aaron Sorkin [based on the book "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich]
DP: Jeff Cronenweth
Ed: Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter
Mus: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg), Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin), Justin Timberlake (Sean Parker), Armie Hammer (Tyler Winklevoss/Cameron Winklevoss), Max Minghella (Divya Narendra), Rooney Mara (Erica Albright), Dakota Johnson (Amelia Ritter)

A biopic not so much about a person, but about a product and it's subsequently gargantuan success.
Facebook, the global website, has become a huge business and social networking tool since its inception in the early 21st century, but the creative programmer behind it, Mark Zuckerberg, didn't originally conceive it to be used in this way. This isn't what the film is about however, taking a courtroom drama stance on the way the company was created, with accusations of plaigarism abound by a rival pair of brothers who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea.
The ensemble cast are all generally good, especially Andrew Garfield as a Harvard student whose programming knowledge and business nous was (allegedly) also heavily exploited whilst schmoozing outsiders walked in and absorbed all his company shares underneath his nose. The real star however is the snappy, quirky and acerbic dialogue in Aaron Sorkin's screenplay. The general moral is also quite apt, seemingly that you need to be an obnoxious douchebag to become a billionaire, but at what price?
8/10
 
A SOLDIER'S STORY (15)
D: Norman Jewison 
Columbia/Delphi (Norman Jewison & Patrick Palmer)
US 1984
101 mins

Mystery/Drama

W: Charles Fuller [based on his play]
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: Caroline Biggerstaff & Mark Warner
Mus: Herbie Hancock

Howard E. Rollins, Jr. (Davenport), Adolph Caesar (Waters), Art Evans (Wilkie), David Alan Grier (Cobb), David Harris (Smalls), Denzel Washington (Peterson)

A military lawyer investigates the death of a strict drill sergeant at a Louisiana army camp, where the murder may or may not be racially motivated.
A well-written and very well acted, but rather old-fashioned mystery melodrama from director Norman Jewison, with standout performances particularly from Howard E. Rollins, Jr. & Adolph Caesar, with a notable early role from Denzel Washington.
Unfair comparisons will be made with A Few Good Men (qv).
7/10
 

SOLO (aka SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY) (PG)

D: Ron Howard

Disney/Lucasfilm (Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur & Simon Emanuel)

US 2018

135 mins


Science Fiction


W: Lawrence Kasdan & Jonathan Kasdan [based on characters created by George Lucas]

DP: Bradford Young

Ed: Pietro Scalia

Mus: John Powell (& John Williams)


Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett), Emilia Clarke (Qi'ra), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), Thandie Newton (Val), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Paul Bettany (Dryden Vos), Erin Kellyman (Enfys Nest), Jon Favreau (Rio Durant), Linda Hunt (Lady Proxima), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (L3-37)


When Disney brought the rights to Lucasfilm for a tidy sum, they announced that not only will there be three more films to the original saga, but a series of spinoffs ancillary to these main stories. Solo is the second of which, following 2016's Rogue One, which was likewise set between the events of Episode III & Episode IV.  We can expect a whole lot more of these too, because as long as there is money to be made, Disney will squeeze every last penny out of this movie franchise. There is a famous adage however, that you can only have so much of a good thing.

2018's Solo provides the backstory of one of the sagas most beloved characters, starring Alden Ehrenreich as the roguish pirate Han Solo, from his meagre beginnings on a slavery planet to becoming the pilot of the iconic Millennium Falcon. 

From my own personal point of view, there was enough backstory provided for this character in the original Star Wars movies, and his introduction in the 1977 film was more than sufficient, as was his character arc within that story as a money-grabbing mercenary turned hero of the hour by the time the credits roll. That being said, the trailer had me hooked and I was happy to pay the price of the movie ticket, especially since Rogue One was so impressive. Unfortunately, Solo was incredibly underwhelming and totally unnecessary.

The film flirts with the legend of the character, having escaped from poverty and being thrown out of the empire's flight academy, meeting his longtime companion Chewbacca, and performing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs is all on the billing, but only touched on the periphery as Han Solo joins a gang of bandits and assists with the heist of incredibly volatile rocket fuel for a crime lord named Dryden Vos.  There's also a bit of romance thrown in, which serves to underpin why Han was presented so cynically in his original introduction.

There are some very entertaining moments in this Star Wars chapter, and the performances in general are good, but it has to be said that the whole is less than the sum of all its parts, and the introduction of an irritating droid with an SJW agenda gives the saga one of the worst characters imaginable since Jar Jar Binks in Episode I, and it really doesn't have enough jeopardy in the action scenes which make you think that the characters are in any real peril... we already know that the main duo are going to survive.

On balance, Ron Howard does a good job bringing balance to a very troubled production, but the film itself is nothing like how the original teaser trailer presented it, and is just a series of set pieces which don't have any real dilemma.

It's nowhere near as bad as The Phantom Menace, but it's equally as disappointing.

Disney need to realise that the fans need more than this, but they don't care. All they really want is our money.

5/10


SOME LIKE IT HOT (PG)
D: Billy Wilder
United Artists/Mirisch (Billy Wilder)
US 1959
120 mins

Comedy/Musical/Crime

W: Billy Wilder & I. A. L. Diamond [based on the screenplay "Fanfares Of Love" by Robert Thoeren & M. Logan]
DP: Charles Lang, Jr.
Ed: Arthur Schmidt
Mus: Adolph Deutsch
PD: Ted Haworth
Cos: Orry-Kelly

Jack Lemmon (Jerry/Daphne), Tony Curtis (Joe/Josephine), Marilyn Monroe (Sugar Kane Kowalczyk), George Raft (Spats Colombo), Pat O'Brien (Mulligan), Joe E. Brown (Osgood E. Fielding III)

In Billy Wilder's classic comedy, Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis play two jazz musicians who inadvertently witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.  Pursued by the mob, they take cover by disguising themselves as women and join a travelling all-female troupe where they both have eyes for the sizzling Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe). 
The trio of main performances are fantastic, especially Marilyn Monroe who delivers her best ever screen performance.
The cross-dressing comedy theme has been done since (La Cage Aux Folles, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire) but none of the films compare to the excellence of Some Like It Hot.
The most shocking thing is that it failed to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, arguably the biggest Oscars snub of all time.
Well.. Nobody's perfect, I guess.
10/10
 
"He sacrificed life in the present to find love in the past."
"He sacrificed life in the present to find love in the past."
SOMEWHERE IN TIME (PG)
D: Jeannot Szwarc
Universal/Rastar (Stephen Deutsch)
US 1980
104 mins

Romance/Fantasy

W: Richard Matheson [based on his novel "Bid Time Return"]
DP: Isadore Mankofsky
Ed: Jeff Gourson
Mus: John Barry
PD: Seymour Klate
Cos: Jean-Pierre Dorleac

Christopher Reeve (Richard Collier), Jane Seymour (Elisa McKenna), Christopher Plummer (William Fawcett Robinson), Teresa Wright (Laura Roberts)

A writer falls in love with an old photograph of an actress and finds a way to travel back in time to romance her.
The premise of the film could perhaps have worked had the film been released a decade earlier, but with a miscast performance from Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour given very little to do, this feels like a beautifully wrapped present with nothing in it.
Mawkish and saccharine, though these words alone could be used to describe John Barry's music score which seems to play incessantly throughout the movie.
An old-fashioned love story which probably would have been better suited had it been made around the 1950's.
5/10
 
SOMMERSBY (PG)
D: Jon Amiel
Warner/Regency/Canal (Arnon Milchan & Steven Reuther)
US/France 1993
113 mins

Romance/Drama

W: Nicholas Meyer & Sarah Kernochan [based on the screenplay "The Return Of Martin Guerre" by Jean Claude Carriere & Daniel Vigne]
DP: Philippe Rouselott
Ed: Peter Boyle
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Bruno Rubeo
Cos: Marilyn Vance-Straker

Jodie Foster (Laurel Sommersby), Richard Gere (Jack Sommersby / Horace Townsend), Bill Pullman (Orin Meacham), James Earl Jones (Judge Barry Conrad Isaacs)

Remake of French drama The Return Of Martin Guerre. Reasonably well done at a time when remakes weren't just a money-making venture for Hollywood producers.
Seven years after the American civil war, a man returns home to his family, but is accused of being an imposter by everyone except his wife.
It was much better done in the original, with a sense of ambiguity in the story. Still, this is very well filmed, with lush period costumes and set design. Its biggest single criticism is that the film's marketing trailer gives away the entire plot.
5/10
 
"He's a relative nightmare."
"He's a relative nightmare."
SON-IN-LAW (PG)
D: Steve Rash
Buena Vista/Hollywood (Michael Rotenberg & Peter M. Lenkov)
US 1993
95 mins

Comedy

W: Fax Bahr, Adam Small & Shawn Schepps
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Dennis M. Hill
Mus: Richard Gibbs

Pauly Shore (Fred), Carla Gugino (Becca), Lane Smith (Walter), Cindy Pickett (Connie), Mason Adams (Walter, Sr.)

It's not completely unfair to call Pauly Shore the "Adam Sandler of the early 1990's", starring in surfer dude/stoner comedies which only really appealed to an MTV audience where he generally plays a douchebag who's a dick to everyone except the girl he's inexplicably dating.
In Son-in-Law, this girlfriend takes him to the parents farm for Thanksgiving, which inevitably ends up a disaster. Disaster is probably the best way to sum this film up, because it certainly isn't a comedy.
3/10
 
"Make believe. Not war."
"Make believe. Not war."
SON OF RAMBOW (12)
D: Garth Jennings
Optimum/Paramount Vantage/Canal+ (Nick Goldsmith)
UK/US/France/Germany 2007 (released 2008)
95 mins

Comedy

W: Garth Jennings
DP: Jess Hall
Ed: Dominic Leung
Mus: Joby Talbot

Bill Milner (Will Proudfoot), Will Poulter (Lee Carter), Jules Sitruk (Didier Revol), Neil Dudgeon (Brother Joshua), Jessica Stevenson (Mary Proudfoot)

Much better than any of the actual sequels to the original Rambo film (First Blood).
Son of Rambow is a nostalgia trip of the 80's and quite charming feelgood movie about friendship featuring two rather excellent juvenile performances about two boys from the same school, but different sides of the housing estates, become friends and decide to make an amateur remake of Rambo together.
Writer/director Garth Jennings recreates the period brilliantly, including all the fashion and trends of the time, from pseudo punks to glue sniffing to playing the UK top 40 off a cassette tape recorded from radio.
A must watch for anyone who grew up during the decade. 
7/10
 
"The next generation of mischief."
"The next generation of mischief."
SON OF THE MASK (PG)
D: Lawrence Guterman
New Line/Dark Horse (Erica Huggins & Scott Kroopf)
US 2005
87 mins 

Comedy/Fantasy

W: Lance Khazei [based on characters from Dark Horse comics]
DP: Greg Gardiner
Ed: Malcolm Campbell, John Coniglio & Debra Neil-Fisher
Mus: Randy Edelman

Jamie Kennedy (Tim Avery), Alan Cumming (Loki), Traylor Howard (Tonya Avery), Steven Wright (Daniel Moss), Kal Penn (Jorge), Bob Hoskins (Odin)

A sequel nobody wanted, needed, asked for and 11 years too late. 
The first movie made a star out of Jim Carrey and had some impressive cartoon visual effects reminiscent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the late 80's.
This sequel stars Jamie Kennedy, the dweeb from the Scream movies, playing our protagonist, a cartoon artist with an infant son.
The seed of Loki's mask somehow passed on to a new generation during conception and Loki needs his mojo back and kidnaps the "gifted" child. There's a lot of cartoonish shenanigans just like the first movie, except it isn't funny here it's just cartoonish nonsense.
Alan Cumming delivers an exceptionally bad performance as the villain, Loki. The story is pretty much incomprehensible and even the visual effects are below standard. The overall result is just creepy.
A movie which must be avoided and a sequel that shouldn't have been made.
1/10

SON OF THE PINK PANTHER (12)
D: Blake Edwards
MGM/United Artists/Filmauro (Tony Adams)         
US/Italy 1993
93 mins

Comedy

W: Blake Edwards, Steve Sunshine & Madeline Sunshine [based on characters created by Blake Edwards & Maurice Richlin]
DP: Dick Bush
Ed: Robert Pergament
Mus: Henry Mancini

Roberto Benigni (Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli), Herbert Lom (Charles Dreyfus), Debrah Farentino (Princess Yasmin), Claudia Cardinale (Maria), Robert Davi (Hans Zerba), Burt Kwouk (Cato Fong)

Poorly executed, written, directed and acted sequel to The Pink Panther series, coming well over a decade too late with an annoyingly miscast performance from Roberto Benigni as a clumsier incarnation of Inspector Clousou (same character, different name), lacking the comic timing and charm which Peter Sellers brought to the role.
This would prove to be the final movie of Blake Edwards before his retirement. An incredibly disappointing swansong.
3/10
 

SOPHIE'S CHOICE (15)

D: Alan J. Pakula

ITC (Alan J. Pakula & Keith Barish)

US 1982

157 mins


Drama


W: Alan J. Pakula [based on the novel by William Styron]

DP: Nestor Almendros

Ed: Evan Lottman

Mus: Marvin Hamlisch

PD: George Jenkins

Cos: Albert Wolsky


Meryl Streep (Sophie Zawistowska), Kevin Kline (Nathan Landau), Peter MacNicol (Stingo)


It's not a great surprise that Meryl Streep won an Oscar for her performance in this film. It's not just the greatest performance of her career, it's amongst the most powerful acting performances in cinema history. 

She perfected both Polish and German accents for her portrayal as Sophie Zawistowska, a survivor of the holocaust who, following the end of World War II moved to Brooklyn where she shares a house with hot-headed American Jew Nathan Landau and Southern writer Stingo, where they become a circle of friends.

Sophie's experiences of World War II are presented via flashback, revealing that she was married to a resistance leader prior to her arrest and her and her young children were located to a concentration camp where she would become a secretary for a high-ranking German official.

Sophie's relationship with Nathan becomes strained due to his jealousy and she gets closer to Stingo, to whom she reveals her biggest secret about her past.

If you know what Sophie's Choice is really about, then it will have a small effect on the film's most memorable scene, though it remains emotionally powerful even so.

Meryl Streep is perfect, while Kevin Kline overacts wildly and Peter MacNicol isn't really given enough to do to really flex a good performance out of the role.

A truly memorable drama which will certainly scar the memory of those who have seen it.

8/10


"He didn't give up. He got down."
"He didn't give up. He got down."
SOUL MAN (15)
D: Steve Miner
New World (Steve Tisch)
US 1986
101 mins

Comedy

W: Carol Black
DP: Jeffrey Jur
Ed: David Finfer
Mus: Tom Scott

C. Thomas Howell (Mark Watson), Rae Dawn Chong (Sarah Walker), Ayre Gross (Gordon Bloomfield), Melora Hardin (Whitney Dunbar), James B. Sikking (Bill Watson), Leslie Nielsen (Mr. Dunbar), James Earl Jones (Prof. Banks)

Sometimes it's easy to judge a film of the past through modern day lenses, but even for the 1980's this was rather racist...
The plot follows a white college student "blacks up" in order to win a scholarship to a prestigious law school.
Soul Man is the kind of politically-incorrect mistaken identity comedy that filmmakers managed to get away with prior to 1990, but that doesn't mean it's okay. 
Had more effort gone into the screenplay this might have been a more tasteful film about equality and status, but as is, it's about as appealing and entertaining as an early 20th century minstrel show.
4/10
 
THE SOUND OF MUSIC (U)
D: Robert Wise
20th Century Fox/Argyle (Robert Wise)
US 1965
172 mins

Musical

W: Ernest Lehman [based on the book by Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse; musical by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II]
DP: Ted McCord
Ed: William Reynolds
Mus: Irwin Kostal
PD: Boris Leven
Cos: Dorothy Jeakins

Julie Andrews (Maria), Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp), Eleanor Parker (The Baroness), Richard Haydn (Max Detweiler), Peggy Wood (Mother Abbess)

Musicals may be a dead genre nowadays but during the 1960's they were still hugely popular, proved by the fact that The Sound Of Music became the biggest box office hit of all time when it had its theatrical run, ending a 26-year record held by Gone With The Wind. The soundtrack was also a huge seller, still holding records to this very day due to such enormous sales.
The film itself is still held in high regard by its fans and still manages to engage new generations due to the inescapably memorable songs and the good performances of its cast.
The story follows a trainee nun who becomes a governess to the Von Trapp family in the Austrian countryside, falling in love with the widowed Captain Von Trapp, teaching his children how to sing and escaping with them to avoid Nazi persecution.
The film is not without some flaws. The first being the length, which goes on at least half an hour longer than it really should. Another gripe would be that it seems to state that a woman's place is to look after the house and children, rather than having a life of her own, but perhaps this is simply due to the period in which the film is set and the year in which it was released.
Love it or hate it, it's a film which is impossible to avoid.
8/10
 
A SOUND OF THUNDER (12)
D: Peter Hyams
Warner Bros/Franchise Pictures (Moshe Diamant, Howard Baldwin & Karen Baldwin)
US/UK/Germany/Czech Rep 2005
103 mins

Science Fiction

W: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer & Gregory Poirier [based on the short story by Ray Bradbury]
DP: Peter Hyams
Ed: Sylvie Landra
Mus: Nick Glennie-Smith

Edward Burns (Travis Ryer), Catherine McCormack (Sonia Rand), Ben Kingsley (Charles Hatton), David Oyelowo (Marcus Payne), Jemima Rooper (Jenny Krase)

This film was absolutely ravaged by the critics and in truth it is a huge mess.
It's a shame that the one of the companies in charge of the production went bankrupt halfway through filming, leaving the movie looking pretty shoddy and like a cheap made-for-cable movie in the respect of production values, but the plot and idea isn't all bad, at least theoretically.
Set in the future, businessman Ben Kingsley (miscast) makes his fortune by selling 'time safaris', where the rich of society can literally time travel to a prehistoric age and shoot themselves a dinosaur. Strict rules are in place to ensure that a butterfly effect doesn't take place, but guess what happens...
The performances are uneven and the CGI effects are absolutely terrible (especially the monkey-dinosaurs) but overall this does slightly balance out with an interesting story (credit here belongs to Ray Bradbury), but the direction of the film is very poorly executed.
Another film from Franchise Pictures which squandered a huge amount of money. In this case, $80 million worth.
3/10

"Every second counts."
"Every second counts."
SOURCE CODE (15)
D: Duncan Jones
Summit/Vendôme (Mark Gordon, Jordan Wynn & Philippe Rousselet)
US/France 2011
93 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Ben Ripley
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Paul Hirsch
Mus: Chris P. Bacon

Jake Gyllenhaal (Capt. Colter Stevens), Michelle Monaghan (Christina Warren), Vera Farmiga (Capt. Colleen Goodwin) Jeffrey Wright (Dr. Rutledge)

An army helicopter pilot wakes up in another man's body on-board a train and discovers he is part of a government experiment where he only has eight minutes to find a bomb, or the mission has to be reset and he must try again.
It would be fair to describe this sci-fi thriller as Groundhog Day meets Quantum Leap, but the concept has enough originality to stand on its own two feet, although comparisons may be unfairly made with the 2006 thriller Deja Vu.
It was a big ask for director Duncan Jones to follow-up his debut (Moon) with something bigger and better and he doesn't do a bad job here. It could have been better, but on the flip side it could have been a lot worse. Certainly worth a watch, but you may not want to subject yourself to repeat viewings.
6/10

SOUTH PACIFIC (U)
D: Joshua Logan
Magna (Buddy Adler)
US 1958
170 mins

Musical

W: Paul Osborn [based on the musical by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II]
DP: Leon Shamroy
Mus: Alfred Newman & Ken Darby

Mitzi Gaynor (Ens. Nellie Forbush), Rossano Brazzi (Emile de Becque); Ray Walston (Luther Billis), John Kerr (Lt. Joseph Cable), France Nuyen (Liat), Juanita Hall (Bloody Mary)

Amongst the most popular of the Rodgers-Hammerstein musicals with a huge fan base still to this day, though this may be also to do with the many stage shows which have been in theatres since the film's release.
Set in 1943 on an island in the South Pacific, the story follows a romance that blooms between an American navy nurse and a French planter who later becomes a war hero.
Like all Rodgers-Hammerstein musicals, it will have many ardent fans, but will also have those who find this completely unappealing. It's not audience-friendly to the latter due to an overlong running time and its tendency to use colour filters in the cinematography for dramatic effect.
For those who do enjoy their musicals, this has some of the more memorable songs from the songwriter duo, including "Some Enchanted Evening", "There Is Nothing Like A Dame" and the quite inescapable "Happy Talk".
6/10
 
"It's the land of hospitality... Unless you don't belong there."
"It's the land of hospitality... Unless you don't belong there."
SOUTHERN COMFORT (18)
D: Walter Hill
EMI/Phoenix/CGV (David Giler)
US 1981
106 mins

Action/Adventure/Thriller

W: Michael Kane, Walter Hill & David Giler
DP: Andrew Laszlo
Ed: Freeman Davies 
Mus: Ry Cooder

Keith Carradine (PFC Spencer), Powers Boothe (Cpl. Charles Hardin), Fred Ward (Cpl. Lonnie Reece), Franklin Seales (PFC Simms), T.K. Carter (Pvt. Tyrone Cribbs), Lewis Smith (Pvt. Stuckey)

A fine action thriller which blends elements from the plot of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" but also throws in a Vietnam war allegory for good measure.
A small platoon of National Guard soldiers are on a routine exercise in the Louisiana swamps inadvertently start a war with a group of Cajun inhabitants. With a lack of ammo and no real experience in life-or-death missions, the odds are stacked against them to make it out alive.
It's a tightly constructed and tensely directed action film, much more intelligent than many that were released early in the same decade. 
Some viewers may draw a comparison with 1972's Deliverance (qv), but they're two very different films entirely.
8/10
 
"Have a nice apocalypse."
"Have a nice apocalypse."
SOUTHLAND TALES (12)
D: Richard Kelly
Universal (Sean McKittrick, Bo Hyde, Kendall Morgan & Matthew Rhodes)
US 2006
144 mins

Science Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

W: Richard Kelly
DP: Steven Poster
Ed: Sam Bauer
Mus: Moby
PD: Alexander Hammond

Dwayne Johnson (Boxer Santoros / Jericho Cane), Seann William Scott (Roland Taverner), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Krysta Lynn Kapowski), Mandy Moore (Madeline Frost), Justin Timberlake (Abilene), Miranda Richardson (Nana Mae Frost)

Richard Kelly's follow up to the excellent Donnie Darko is a huge disappointment. Set in Los Angeles following a nuclear war, it follows a vignette of stories and tries to come off as some kind of futuristic version of Short Cuts, involving politics, blackmail, sex and science fiction.
It doesn't work though because it's elongated, incomprehensible, pretentious nonsense. The actors just wander around with a look on their face as though they understood the story less than I did.
There's some good visuals but the movie as a whole is a failure. 
Just a director's ego trip following the cult success of his debut.
3/10
 
SOYLENT GREEN (15)
D: Richard Fleischer
MGM (Walter Seltzer & Russell Thatcher)
US 1973
97 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Stanley Greenberg [based on the novel "Make Room, Make Room" by Harry Harrison]
DP: Richard H. Kline
Ed: Samuel E. Beetley
Mus: Fred Myrow

Charlton Heston (Det. Frank Thorn), Edward G. Robinson (Sol Roth), Leigh Taylor-Young (Shirl), Chuck Connors (Tab Fielding), Brock Peters (Chief Hatcher), Joseph Cotten (William R. Simonson)

Like many of the futuristic sci-fi's produced in the late 1960's and early 1970's, Soylent Green has dated very badly, mostly due to the production design which makes everything look like 1970's New York City.
Set in 2022, the population of New York are controlled by the government on a diet of synthetic food. Policeman Charlton Heston investigates and makes a startling discovery of what it is that makes an artificial foodstuff called Soylent Green.
The twist ending might provoke a surprise reaction from viewers who don't know what Soylent Green is, but it's not that huge a surprise for those who have seen a dozen or so dystopian future thrillers, or even the marketing trailer for this film, which asks three questions and then tells the answer.
It's quite refreshing that the film ends on a downbeat note, but it's still not very good.
5/10