D: Jeff Nichols
Sony Picture Classics/Hydraulx/Rei Capital/Grove Hill (Sophia Lin & Tyler Davidson)
US 2011
121 mins


W: Jeff Nichols
DP: Adam Stone
Ed: Parke Gregg
Mus: David Wingo

Michael Shannon (Curtis LaForche), Jessica Chastain (Samantha LaForche), Katy Mixon (Nat), Shea Whigham (Dewart), Kathy Baker (Sarah), Ray McKinnon (Kyle)

Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) experiences a series of apocalyptic visions forecasting a destructive storm and prepares his family for the worst, but are his thoughts a prophecy or merely a figment of an imagination affected by mental illness?
This ecological-minded Field Of Dreams focuses on the relationship between Curtis and his family, particularly his wife, Samantha, who attempts to hold the unit together during this testing time.
The acting performances of Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain give a lot of weight to this small film, while the ending shot presents an almost bittersweet irony.

"They've taken his daughter. Now, he's taking them down."
"They've taken his daughter. Now, he's taking them down."
TAKEN (15)
D: Pierre Morel
20th Century Fox/Europacorp/M6/Canal+ (Luc Besson)
France 2008
93 mins


W: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
DP: Michel Abramowicz
Ed: Frederic Thoraval
Mus: Nathaniel Méchaly 

Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills), Maggie Grace (Kim Mills), Famke Janssen (Lenore St. John), Leland Orser (Sam Gilroy), Jon Gries (Mark Casey), Katie Cassidy (Amanda)

A teenage girl is kidnapped while on holiday in Paris and her father, a former government agent tracks her disappearance and murders those responsible for her abduction.
It's by no means original nor does it deliver anything fresh to the action-thriller genre and if you don't like preposterous plots, violence, xenophobia or Liam Neeson then you really won't find it enjoyable.
However, for those who want some brainless thrills, this hits the spot, with Liam Neeson turning back the years to deliver a gritty, hard-bitten, all-action perfomance with some rather nifty martial arts moves, all of which helps turning a blind eye to how ridiculous the premise actually is. The film was hugely popular, enough so to generate a couple of sequels.
"First, they took his daughter. Now, they're coming for him."
"First, they took his daughter. Now, they're coming for him."
TAKEN 2 (15)
D: Olivier Megaton
20th Century Fox/Europacorp/M6/Canal+ (Luc Besson)
France 2012
91 mins


W: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
DP: Romain Lacourbas
Ed: Camille Delamarre & Vincent Tabaillion
Mus: Nathaniel Méchaly 

Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills), Maggie Grace (Kim Mills), Famke Janssen (Lenore Mills-St. John), Leland Orser (Sam Gilroy), Jon Gries (Mark Casey), D.B. Sweeney (Bernie Harris)

A hugely disappointing sequel which goes through similar motions as the first.
Liam Neeson's ex CIA agent has rekindled his broken marriage and he, his ex-wife and daughter go vacationing in Turkey, where Albanian gang members seek revenge for their pals dying in the first film. The thrills and suspense from the first movie are replaced with xenophobic stereotypes, clichéd set pieces, unconvincing dialogue and clumsy direction. 
Despite all this, the film performed successfully at the box office, but this was due wholly to the popularity of the first film rather than on its own merits (of which it has none).
TAKEN 3 (15)
D: Olivier Megaton
20th Century Fox/EuropaCorp (Luc Besson)
France 2014 (released 2015)
109 mins


W: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
DP: Eric Kress
Ed: Audrey Simonaud & Nicolas Trembasiewicz
Mus: Nathaniel Méchaly

Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills), Forest Whitaker (Insp. Frank Dotzler), Famke Janssen (Lenore Mills-St. John), Maggie Grace (Kim Mills), Dougray Scott (Stuart St. John)

A more apt title would be "Taken The Piss", "Taken The Money & Run" or even "The Fugitive", as this has so little to do with the first film and is more a remake of the TV series/film where a man is framed for the murder of his wife and goes on a runner until he can solve the mystery of who the real killer is. That's the story here.
The first film saw ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) venture through Europe looking for the men who kidnapped his daughter. The second film sees Mills and his ex-wife themselves kidnapped while holidaying in Turkey. This third film doesn't even bother with a kidnapping, unless you count an opening prologue which is so poorly executed you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a trailer for a completely different film. 
Everything here is shoddily done, with a plot twist which is so obvious that it can barely be called a plot twist at all.
The first sequel was a cash grab. You'd have to create a brand new term for whatever this is.

D: Joseph Sargent
MGM/Palomar/Palladium (Gabriel Katzka & Edgar J. Scherick)
US 1974
104 mins


W: Peter Stone [based on the novel by John Godey]
DP: Owen Roizman
Ed: Jerry Greenberg & Robert Q. Lovett
Mus: David Shire

Walter Matthau (Lt. Garber), Robert Shaw (Blue), Martin Balsam (Green), Hector Elizondo (Grey), Earl Hindman (Brown), James Broderick (Denny Doyle)

This 1974 thriller is possibly the most important step into what has become a modern day action film.
A New York subway train is hijacked by a group of criminals who only refer to each other by the colour of the hats they're each wearing. Their plot is to hold the group of passengers to ransom for $1 million. 
Though their crime seems to have been meticulously planned, the one person they hadn't factored upon was grizzled transit cop, Lt. Garber, who doesn't want the bad guys to get away with it on his watch.
Considering the age of the film, the action scenes are particularly well directed and edited. The most surprising thing is that the film didn't do particularly well at the worldwide box office, only being successful in the cities around the globe which had underground railroads and virtually ignored everywhere else.
A remake materialised in 2009, which may have gathered more pennies, but the standard of filmmaking was already pretty high with this original film.

D: Tony Scott
Columbia/MGM/Relativity Media (Tony Scott, Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal & Steve Tisch)
US 2009
106 mins


W: Brian Helgeland [based on the novel by John Godey]
DP: Tobias Schliessler 
Ed: Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams

Denzel Washington (Walter Garber), John Travolta (Ryder), John Turturro (Camonetti), James Gandolfini (The Mayor), Luis Guzman (Phil Ramos)

Remake of the 1974 crime thriller which gets garbled up in the Hollywood machine until it's virtually unrecognisable from its original source.
The bare bones of the plot are the same, with a group of criminals hijacking a New York City subway train to ransom, but that is where the similarities end. The original film had a calculated crime masterminded by a well-spoken group of businessmen, in this remake the crime is executed by batshit crazy gangsters headed by a man who puts revenge above the motive of monetary gain. 
With Tony Scott helming, we're also treated to car chases, frenetic editing and sound design cranked up to 11 for yet another Die Hard clone. Witty one-liners are also set aside for superfluous subplots and easy humour aimed at the lower common denominator.
Denzel Washington is miscast as the everyday man up against it, but his performance is incredibly believable in contrast to John Travolta's ridiculously OTT turn as the chief villain.
Brainless entertainment, but another example of a remake which has no right to exist.

"How far would you go to become someone else?"
"How far would you go to become someone else?"
D: Anthony Minghella
Paramount/Miramax/Mirage/Timnick (William Horberg & Tom Sternberg)
US 1999
139 mins


W: Anthony Minghella [based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith]
DP: John Seale
Ed: Walter Murch
Mus: Gabriel Yared
PD: Roy Walker
Cos: Ann Roth & Gary Jones

Matt Damon (Tom Ripley), Gwyneth Paltrow (Marge Sherwood), Jude Law (Dickie Greenleaf), Cate Blanchett (Meredith Logue), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Freddie Miles), Jack Davenport (Peter Smith-Kingsley), James Rebhorn (Herbert Greenleaf)

Patricia Highsmith's novel was originally adapted for the big screen in 1960 by French filmmaker René Clément but didn't seem to tell the whole story.  Anthony Minghella did a much better job with the Hitchcock-esque thriller in 1999.
Matt Damon stars as the eponymous character, Tom Ripley, a sexually-ambiguous pauper who is hired by a shipbuilder to find his errant playboy son in Italy and convince him to return to America.              
It takes little time for Ripley to find his man (Dickie Greenleaf, played by Jude Law), but the two of them strike a friendship which eventually turns sour when Dickie finds he has nothing in common with Tom.
A murder at sea occurs, followed by a cover-up as Ripley evades the police while simultaneously living the life of dead playboy.
All the performances in this film are brilliant, especially Matt Damon and Jude Law, who steals the first half of the movie. Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman & Jack Davenport also star.

D: John Harrison
Columbia Tristar/Paramount (Richard P. Rubinstein & Mitchell Galin)
US 1991
93 mins


W: Michael McDowell; George Romero [based on stories by Arthur Conan Doyle; Stephen King]
DP: Robert Draper
Ed: Harry B. Miller III
Mus: Donald A. Rubinstein; Pat Regan; Chaz Jankel; John Harrison

Deborah Harry (Betty), Steve Buscemi (Edward Bellingham), Julianne Moore (Susan Smith), Christian Slater (Andy Smith), William Hickey (Drogan), David Johansen (Halston), James Remar (Preston), Rae Dawn Chong (Carola)

A trio of ghoulish comic-book style horror short films told via a wraparound in the style of The Twilight Zone. The stories get increasingly better, starting with "Lot 249", a rather standard beast-in-a-box ghost story and ending with "Lover's Vow", adapted from a Japanese ghost story that appeared in Kwaidan (qv).
The middle of the three stories is the most likely to induce nightmares, penned by Stephen King and titled "The Cat From Hell".
Reasonably good as a horror anthology, featuring some very good gore effects by veteran makeup artist Dick Smith.
"The last neighbourhood in America."
"The last neighbourhood in America."
D: Oliver Stone
20th Century Fox/Cineplex Odeon (Edward R. Pressman & A. Kitman Ho)
US 1988
109 mins


W: Eric Bogosian & Oliver Stone [based on the play by Eric Bogosian & Ted Savinar]
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: David Brenner & Joe Hutshing
Mus: Stewart Copeland

Eric Bogosian (Barry Champlain), Alec Baldwin (Dan), Ellen Greene (Ellen), Leslie Hope (Laura), John C. McGinley (Stu), John Pankow (Dietz)

Loosely based on the real life murder of Denver DJ Alan Berg, Eric Bogosian delivers an excellent performance as an abusive radio talk show host who relentlessly taunts both his listeners and his callers.
A small drama with a strong message about the dangers of free speech by director and co-writer Oliver Stone, never one to shy away from the controversial.
Very much a talking heads picture, but made watchable by the power of Eric Bogosian's performance as an incessantly obnoxious character.
If you're looking for something more light-hearted to watch, dig up old episodes of Frasier. This can be a difficult viewing experience.
D: Mel Smith
Virgin/LWT/Working Title (Tim Bevan)
UK 1989
92 mins


W: Richard Curtis
DP: Adrian Biddle
Ed: Dan Rae
Mus: Peter Brewis

Jeff Goldblum (Dexter King), Emma Thompson (Kate Lemmon), Rowan Atkinson (Ron Anderson), Geraldine James (Carmen), Anna Massey (Mary), Emil Wolk (Cyprus Charlie)

An American actor, often typecast as a 'tall guy' spends most of his time playing the mistreated sidekick to an obnoxiously cruel British comedian, before falling in love with a nurse and striking it big in a musical adaptation of 'The Elephant Man'.
A comedy without a true identity of what type of humour to tap into, flirting with slapstick, sex farce and spoof.
Despite this, it has some hilarious moments, especially the iconic sex scene between Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson, but Rowan Atkinson steals the show as a complete bastard and the musical show of The Elephant Man provides some amusement at Andrew Lloyd-Webber's expense.


D: Sean Baker

Magnolia/Duplass Brothers/Through Films (Sean Baker, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox, Darren Dean & Shih-Ching Tsou)

US 2015

88 mins


W: Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch

DP: Sean Baker & Radium Cheung

Ed: Sean Baker

Kitana Kiki Rodriguez (Sin-Dee), Mya Taylor (Alexandra), James Ransone (Chester), Mickey O'Hagan (Dinah), Karren Karagulian (Razmik)

Filmed entirely using an iPhone app (FiLMIC pro) on a modest budget of $100,000, Tangerine follows two transsexual prostitutes as they try to reunite with their pimp, whom one of them is in a relationship with.

The rest of the film is padded out with taxi cab confessions and other various characters, and though there is some good dialogue and the characters are reasonably well fleshed out, it's just a little too experimental for conventional tastes.

As a short film, this may have worked a lot better, although it did present Sean Baker with his breakthrough, which he followed up with the quite excellent The Florida Project (qv) in 2017.


"Two of L.A.'s top rival cops are going to have to work together... Even if it kills them."
"Two of L.A.'s top rival cops are going to have to work together... Even if it kills them."
D: Andrei Konchalovsky 
Warner Bros (Jon Peters & Peter Guber)
US 1989
101 mins


W: Randy Feldman
DP: Donald E. Thorin
Ed: Hubert de La Bouillerie & Robert Ferretti
Mus: Harold Faltermeyer

Sylvester Stallone (Lt. Ray Tango), Kurt Russell (Lt. Gabe Cash), Jack Palance (Yves Perret), Teri Hatcher (Kiki Tango), Michael J. Pollard (Owen), Brion James (Requin)

Two distinguished cops are framed on a bogus murder charge, but escape from prison to get their revenge and clear their names.
Formulaic action stuff, with some originality in the fact that Sylvester Stallone plays the suave type to Kurt Russell's dishevelled maverick. 
Entertaining enough, should one remove their brain before watching.
D: Martin Scorsese
Columbia/Italo-Judeo (Michael Phillips & Julia Phillips)
US 1976
114 mins


W: Paul Schrader
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Marcia Lucas, Tom Rolf & Melvin Shapiro
Mus: Bernard Herrmann

Robert De Niro (Travis Bickle), Cybill Shepherd (Betsy), Jodie Foster (Iris), Peter Boyle (Wizard), Harvey Keitel (Sport), Albert Brooks (Tom)

Travis Bickle, a New York taxi driver on the night shifts finds difficulty connecting with people on a social level, suffering from depression, insomnia and struggling to cope with the seediness around him on a daily basis, he takes it upon himself to inflict some vigilante justice so he can save a teenage girl from a life of prostitution.
A controversial film at the time of it's release and even to this day, Taxi Driver portrays a sleazy side to New York's streets and the crime that comes with it, culminating in a frenzied and violent retribution at the climax. The film also had a fair share of real life controversies when a man cited it as an inspiration for an attempt on the life of former US president Ronald Reagan.
Still, it was important piece of 1970's cinema, launching the career of Martin Scorsese into one of the most important filmmakers and cementing Robert DeNiro's place as one of the best actors of his generation. It also launched the career of then juvenile actress Jodie Foster.
"This summer, the teacher from hell is about to get taught a lesson."
"This summer, the teacher from hell is about to get taught a lesson."
D: Kevin Williamson
Miramax/Dimension (Cathy Konrad, Julie Plec, Bob Weinstein & Harvey Weinstein)
US 1999
96 mins


W: Kevin Williamson
DP: Jerzy Zielinski
Ed: Debra Neil-Fisher
Mus: John Frizzell

Katie Holmes (Leigh Ann Watson), Helen Mirren (Eve Tingle), Barry Watson (Luke Churner), Marisa Coughlan (Jo Lynn Jordan), Liz Stauber (Trudie Tucker), Jeffrey Tambor (Richard Wenchell)

Delayed a release and retitled from "Killing Mrs. Tingle" to escape controversy following real-life events at Columbine High School, this film failed to capitalise on the same director-writer's successes with the first two Scream films and the TV series Dawson's Creek.
This black comedy sees precocious high school student Katie Holmes plan revenge on her strict teacher (Helen Mirren). With two of her friends, they break into her home and abduct her to teach her a lesson, but the belligerent teacher doesn't fold easily.
The script is too smug and knowing for its own good, and it's not viable to connect with the main character. What little entertainment is there is simply due to Helen Mirren's expertly bitchy performance.

TED (15)
D: Seth MacFarlane
Universal/Media Rights Capital/Bluegrass (Scott Stuber, Seth MacFarlane, John Jacobs & Jason Clark)
US 2012
102 mins


W: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wald
DP: Michael Barrett
Ed: Jeff Freeman
Mus: Walter Murphy

Mark Wahlberg (John Bennett), Mila Kunis (Lori Collins) Seth MacFarlane (voice of Ted), Joel McHale (Rex), Giovanni Ribisi (Donny)

As a child, John Bennett made a Christmas wish that brought his teddy bear to life and the two grow up together as the best of friends. In adulthood, John must choose between getting stoned and watching movies with his fuzzy buddy or settling down with his girlfriend.
If you watch either Family Guy or American Dad, you really should know what to expect from Seth MacFarlane's directorial debut: A random story of nonsense, full of jokes that don't care who they offend, four-letter obscenities, pot humour, fart jokes and the occasional reference to 80's & 90's culture.
The story is formulaic and unoriginal but this won't be what you're watching it for. You're watching it to see a teddy bear that acts & talks like Peter Griffin and in that respect, it delivers.
It's no funnier than a regular episode of Family Guy, but an entertaining comedy for fans of the cartoon. Though it's highly doubtful that Seth MacFarlane has enough in his comedy bag to keep going with anything further than this (as has been proved with his output since).
"The thunder buddies are back."
"The thunder buddies are back."
TED 2 (15)
D: Seth MacFarlane
Universal/Media Rights Capital/Fuzzy Door (Scott Stuber, Seth MacFarlane, Jason Clarke & John Jacobs)
US 2015
115 mins


W: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild
DP: Michael Barrett
Ed: Jeff Freeman
Mus: Walter Murphy

Seth MacFarlane (voice of Ted), Mark Wahlberg (John Bennett), Amanda Seyfried (Samantha Jackson), Jessica Barth (Tami-Lynn), Giovanni Ribisi (Donny), John Slattery (Shep Wild), Morgan Freeman (Patrick Meighan)

The foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear is back. Those who watched the original will expect more of the same. It's a film about a cuddly toy that talks like Peter Griffin.
This follow-up feels like a bit of a cash-grab, with a scattily-plotted story where Ted fights for civil rights after being legally declared an item of property rather than a person, so he and best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) hire pot-smoking young lawyer Amanda Seyfried to take the case.
There's one or two amusing moments, but there's also far too many jokes that fall flat and feel far too mean-spirited, especially when compared to the kooky fun of the original film, some of the jokes even feel like they're outtakes from the previous adventure.
There's also far too many cameos that go nowhere, such as Liam Neeson surreptitiously buying breakfast cereal and a plotline which goes nowhere about collecting Tom Brady's ejaculate. The overall result is no better than a live action version of a Family Guy episode, with a bear, endless references to 1980's films and TV shows and a "legalise cannabis" argument which is exhaled straight into your face.
This is very much for the Facebook and Twitter generation. #Average

D: William Dear
Warner Bros. (Craig Zadan & Neil Meron)
US 1991
88 mins


W: Darren Star [story by Fred Dekker]
DP: Douglas Milsome
Ed: John F. Link & Mark Stevens
Mus: David Foster

Richard Grieco (Michael Corben), Linda Hunt (Ilsa Grunt), Roger Rees (Augustus Steranko), Robin Bartlett (Patricia Grober), Gabrielle Anwar (Mariska Blade), Geraldine James (Vendetta Galante), Roger Daltrey (Blade)

An adolescent version of James Bond, played for laughs and quite entertaining for a silly popcorn movie.
When on a high school field trip to France, a student is mistaken for a spy who has the same name and has to save his friends from an evil villainess and a European bureaucrat with plans of world domination.
Fast cars, high tech gadgets, cheesy jokes and a suave protagonist. This is every bit as entertaining as the Roger Moore 007 movies. Incredibly silly, but a lot of good fun, Richard Grieco plays a likeable lead, practically apeing the persona he played in similar TV roles, while the film is completely stolen beneath him by Robin Bartlett as an uppity school teacher who ends up having as much brawn as she does brains. Worth watching, if only for a bit of brainless fun.
"He always wanted to be special... But he never expected this!"
"He always wanted to be special... But he never expected this!"
D: Rod Daniel
Atlantic (Mark Levinson & Scott Rosenfelt)
US 1985
91 mins


W: Joseph Loeb III & Matthew Weisman
DP: Tim Suhrstedt
Ed: Lois Freeman-Cox
Mus: Miles Goodman

Michael J. Fox (Scott Howard), James Hampton (Harold Howard), Lorie Griffin (Pamela Wells), Susan Ursitti (Lisa 'Boof' Marconi), Jerry Levine (Rupert 'Stiles' Stilinski)

Teenwolf is a prime example of a movie that could have only been made in the 1980's. It's pure cheese, but with its tongue firmly in-cheek, it manages to be harmless, inoffensive fun.
The story follows a high school misfit who sees his popularity soar when he discovers that he is a hereditary werewolf, allowing his transformation and animal instincts to guide his basketball team to the state finals and become a hit with the popular crowd, much to the detriment of friends he'd had since early childhood.
Like his character in the film, Michael J. Fox saw his own popularity soar following the success of Back To The Future, allowing films like this to have their own modest success.
Very much a product of its time not only with the cheesy brand of comedy, but more so the fashion and makeup effects, but very much worth watching for reasons of nostalgia, with a good message that it's important to be yourself for your own reasons and not to impress others.
A sequel followed, but it was more a whimper than a howl.             
"Freshmen have always had trouble adjusting to college life. But never like this."
"Freshmen have always had trouble adjusting to college life. But never like this."
D: Christopher Leitch
Atlantic (Kent Bateman)
US 1987
94 mins


W: R. Timothy Kring [based on characters created by Joseph Loeb III & Matthew Weisman]
DP: Jules Brenner
Ed: Stephen Polivka, Kim Secrist, Harvey Rosenstock & Raja Gosnell
Mus: Mark Goldenberg

Jason Bateman (Todd Howard), Kim Darby (Prof Tanya Brooks), John Astin (Dean Dunn), Paul Sand (Bobby Finstock), James Hampton (Harold Howard), Mark Holton (Chubby)

Lazy retread of the first film, substituting basketball for boxing and Michael J. Fox for Jason Bateman, who doesn't have the charisma to carry the film. Even the makeup effects are second rate.
The first film was a bit of a paradox. It wasn't a brilliant film, but it did very well due to being released at exactly the right time with the right cast in the roles, and it's still quite watchable in the modern era. This one isn't worth watching once in a blue moon.
D: Steve Barron
Virgin/Golden Harvest/Limelight (Kim Dawson, Simon Fields & David Chan)
US 1990
93 mins


W: Todd W. Langen & Bobby Herbeck [based on characters created by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird]
DP: John Fenner
Ed: William Gordean, Sally Menke & James Symons
Mus: John du Prez

Judith Hoag (April O'Neil), Elias Koteas (Casey Jones), Brian Tochi (voice of Leonardo), Corey Feldman (voice of Donatello), Robbie Rist (voice of Michelangelo), Josh Pais (voice of Raphael)

At the tail end of the 1980's and beginning of the 1990's, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had become a phenomenon thanks to a range of toys and animated TV show. The live action cinematic outing tapped into the fanbase well, but the production values of the film felt more like an MTV promo or a B-movie rather than a summer blockbuster, with cheap looking visual effects looking especially suspect.
Reporter April O'Neill discovers the underground pizza-loving creatures, who are preparing for battle against a Japanese ninja who seeks to destroy them.
It's a film for the fans and nobody else, but even so, it became the highest grossing independent film at the time of it's release and amongst the year's most successful films, resulting in the sales of much more merchandise and even propelling its theme song ("Turtle Power") to the summit of the UK music charts. Still, this doesn't mean it was very good, but good enough for two more sequels to materialise (as well as a big budget remake a couple of decades later).
D: Jonathan Liebesman
Paramount/Nickelodeon (Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Galen Walker, Scott Mednick & Ian Bryce)
US 2014
101 mins


W: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec & Evan Daugherty [based on characters created by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird]
DP: Lula Carvalho
Ed: Joel Negron & Glen Scantlebury
Mus: Brian Tyler

Pete Ploszek/Johnny Knoxville (Leonardo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Megan Fox (April O'Neil), Will Arnett (Vern Fenwick), William Fichtner (Eric Sacks), Whoopi Goldberg (Bernadette Thompson)

Serving in the capacity of producer, Michael Bay short-changes another fanbase to give Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the same treatment that he imbibed upon the Transformers movies.
Incompetent reporter April O'Neill (a hugely miscast Megan Fox) discovers that the turtles she had as pets when she was a young girl are alive and well and living in the sewers, where they have mutated into pizza-eating ninjas. When the City is threatened by a criminal kingpin, the creatures come out of hiding to defeat him. 
One-dimensional and formulaic with its story, the characters and their dialogue, the entertainment only comes with mindless action scene after mindless action scene. It's difficult to pinpoint who the film appealed to, with the majority of the franchise's fanbase shunning the film when they heard of Michael Bay's involvement, yet it still made a small fortune during its cinematic release. Critic-proof, it may very well be, but that doesn't stop it being a few steps ahead of awful.


D: Dave Green

Paramount/Nickelodeon/Platinum Dunes (Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Scott Mednick & Galen Walker)

US 2016

112 mins


W: Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec [based on characters created by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird]

DP: Lula Carvalho

Ed: Jim May & Bob Ducsay

Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Pete Ploszek (Leonardo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Megan Fox (April O'Neill), Stephen Arnell (Casey Jones), Will Arnett (Vern Fenwick), Brian Tee (Oroku Saki / The Shredder), Tyler Perry (Dr. Baxter Stockman), Laura Linney (Police Chief Rebecca Vincent)

My expectations were this were pretty low considering how little I enjoyed the previous movie, but even so, this is a poor sequel.

Tacky acting, slipshod dialogue and hokey visual effects and the Michael Bay formula of brainless action scene after brainless action scene wrap themselves around a lazy story, which does introduce the more familiar villains of Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady into the fold, but not in a way which will appease fans of the original cartoon series.

It is what it is, and will most likely be enjoyed by youngsters, but is best avoided by everyone else.


'10' (18)
D: Blake Edwards
Warner Bros./Orion/Geoffrey (Tony Adams & Blake Edwards)
US 1979
122 mins


W: Blake Edwards
DP: Frank Stanley
Mus: Henry Mancini

Dudley Moore (George Webber), Julie Andrews (Samantha Taylor), Bo Derek (Jenny Hanley), Robert Webber (Hugh), Dee Wallace (Mary Lewis), Sam Jones (David Hanley)

A randy middle-aged song composer rates girls he meets from 1 to 10 based on their appearance. One day, he sees a woman so beautiful that he classes her a '10', the catch is that she's on her way to her own wedding...
Silly sex farce with a few moments of amusement and some decent performances from Dudley Moore and, perhaps more surprisingly, Bo Derek.
It struck a chord with many audience members when it was originally released for being unashamedly frank and risqué, but there's too many films released since which go that little bit farther.
It's good, but doesn't get anywhere near a 10/10.
D: Cecil B. DeMille
Paramount (Cecil B. DeMille)
US 1956
219 mins


W: Aeneas Mackenzie, Jesse L. Lasky, Jack Garris & Fredric M. Frank [based on the novels "The Prince Of Egypt" by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, "Pillar Of Fire" by Reverend J. H. Ingraham, "On Eagle's Wings" by Reverend G. E. Southon & in accordance with the Bible, the ancient texts of Josephus, Eusebius, Philo & The Midrash]
DP: Loyal Griggs
Ed: Anne Bauchens
Mus: Elmer Bernstein 
PD: Hal Pereira & Walter Tyler
Cos: Edith Head, Ralph Jester, John Jensen & Dorothy Jeakins

Charlton Heston (Moses), Yul Brynner (Rameses), Anne Baxter (Nefretiri), Edward G. Robinson (Dathan), Yvonne De Carlo (Sephora), Debra Paget (Lilia), John Derek (Joshua), Cedric Hardwicke (Sethi), Nina Foch (Bithiah)

The most expensive film ever produced at the time of release, spanning nearly 4 hours and adapted from several sources to tell the biblical story of Moses, from his floating crib to leading the Israelites to the promised land.
Whether or not you're religious, it remains a sensational story, meticulously directed with focus on capturing the period, although much of the interior decoration and costume design looks set-bound by more traditional standards.
Still, a good watch for a rainy Easter weekend, though the pedestrian style and verbose dialogue might test the patience of younger children. Best appreciated by film buffs, as it is arguably the best of Cecil B. DeMille's bible-inspired pictures.
"Monsters come in many forms."
"Monsters come in many forms."
D: Dan Trachtenberg
Paramount/Bad Robot (Ethan Darby & Lindsey Weber)
US 2016
103 mins

Thriller/Science Fiction

W: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken & Damien Chazelle
DP: Jeff Cutter
Ed: Stefan Grube
Mus: Bear McCreary

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Michelle), John Goodman (Howard Stambler), John Gallagher, Jr. (Emmett Dewitt)

Aside from being produced by J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company, 10 Cloverfield Lane has nothing to do with the 2007 film Cloverfield (qv), which utilised a handheld camera style to present a hostile alien takeover in New York City.
This is a completely different film altogether, though it clearly cherry-picked its inspirations from several other sources, yet maintains some originality of its own.
Following a car accident, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground bunker where she believes she and another young man have been abducted by a psychotic survivalist (John Goodman).  His reasons for holding her, are because he believes that the outside world has been compromised by either nuclear fallout or foreign attack.
The story plays its hand very close to its chest, so you don't know whose story to believe, while Goodman's performance treads a thin line between pathetically needy and mentally fractious. 
The plot twists unfold as the film goes on, and though it does have some ridiculous moments, it will still have you biting your fingernails on the edge of your seat.
It was probably unfortunate timing that the film was released so soon after the similarly-themed Room (qv), which is by far a much superior film.

"How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways."
"How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways."
D: Gil Junger
Buena Vista/Touchstone/Mad Chance (Andrew Lazar)
US 1999
97 mins


W: Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith [inspired by "The Taming Of The Shrew" by William Shakespeare]
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: O. Nicholas Brown
Mus: Richard Gibbs

Heath Ledger (Patrick Verona), Julia Stiles (Katarina Stratford), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Cameron James), Larisa Oleynik (Bianca Stratford), David Krumholtz (Michael Eckman), Andrew Keegan (Joey Donner), Susan May Pratt (Mandella), Larry Miller (Walter Stratford)

William Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew gets a teenage update, set at an American high school where a pair of sisters are forbidden from dating by their strict father. There is a condition however, should the older, more responsible sister get a boyfriend, the party-loving younger of the two may also date, but there aren't many takers, until a mysterious stranger accepts a bet to woo the difficult Katarina and ends up falling in love with her.
More a reference to the world of Shakespeare rather than an adaptation for a modern audiences. The comedy style of the opening act starts erratically, flirting with farce before becoming a more traditional romantic comedy, working mostly because of the charming performances of Heath Ledger and, particularly, Julia Stiles.
I tried to think of 10 things I hated about it. I struggled to think of one.
D: Bruce Beresford
EMI/Antron (Philip S. Hobel)
US 1983
92 mins


W: Horton Foote
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: William Anderson
Mus: George Dreyfus

Robert Duvall (Mac Sledge), Tess Harper (Rosa Lee), Betty Buckley (Dixie), Wilfred Brimley (Harry), Ellen Barkin (Sue Anne)

Robert Duvall won an Oscar for his performance as Mac Sledge, a down-and-out Country & Western singer who tries to reclaim his past glories.
A subtle character study which the critics adored (as did Oscar voters, who nominated it for Best Picture of 1983). As for conventional audiences, like Country & Western music itself, it's something you will like or something you won't with very little middle ground.
A similar story was tackled in 2009's Crazy Heart (qv).

"A business on the line. A friendship on the edge. A woman caught in the middle."
"A business on the line. A friendship on the edge. A woman caught in the middle."
D: Robert Towne
Warner/Mount Company (Tom Shaw)
US 1988
115 mins


W: Robert Towne
DP: Conrad L. Hall
Ed: Claire Simpson
Mus: Dave Grusin

Mel Gibson (Dale McKussic), Michelle Pfeiffer (Jo Ann Vallenari), Kurt Russell (Lt. Nick Frescia), Raul Julia (Xavier Escalante), J.T. Walsh (Hal Maguire)

A former drug dealer is tempted to get involved in one last major deal, but has his activities monitored by a narcotics detective, once one of his best friends, especially when they vie for the attentions of the same woman.
Better-than-average thriller, with a twist of romance, which capitalised on a cast that were considered box office gold at the tail end of the 1980's. Rather formulaic in places, but attractive to watch due to excellent cinematography and good performances.
For some, the cocktail of the same name would be far more palatable.
"Life is waiting."
"Life is waiting."
D: Steven Spielberg
Dreamworks (Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald & Steven Spielberg)
US 2004
129 mins


W: Andrew Niccol, Sacha Gervasi & Jeff Nathanson
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Alex McDowell

Tom Hanks (Viktor Navorski), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Amelia Warren), Stanley Tucci (Frank Dixon), Chi McBride (Joe Mulroy), Diego Luna (Enrique Cruz), Zoë Saldana (Dolores Torres), Kumar Pallana (Gupta Rajan)

A typically Hollywoodised version of true events. A man from a (fictional) Eastern European country is caught in a technical loophole when his nation is torn apart by civil war during his flight to New York City. Forbidden to leave the airport terminal by a bureaucratic controller, he makes friends with other airport staff and becomes an inspiration to them for not giving up his dream of eventually visiting the City.
The main star of the picture is the scale of the set, so convincing that it's an actual airport terminal that you'd be forgiven for not realising it is actually a (product-placement laden) film set. Unfortunately, this does lead to some product placement which is forcibly stuffed down one's throat, almost literally.
The performances of the cast are otherwise disappointing, including Tom Hanks who attributes a duck-like waddle to his character's walk for no particular reason, while Stanley Tucci plays a villain straight out of a pantomime and Catherine Zeta-Jones' promiscuous air hostess is just grotesque.
Aside from a handful of good moments of an innocent man adjusting to life trapped in a virtual prison, the rest of the storyline is rather embarrassing, especially a subplot where two supporting characters get married. We've come to expect so much more from Steven Spielberg, but this effort is uncharacteristically grounded.
D: James Cameron
Orion/Hemdale/Pacific Western (Gale Anne Hurd)
US 1984
108 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd & William Wisher
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Mark Goldblatt
Mus: Brad Fiedel 

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese), Paul Winfield (Traxler), Lance Henriksen (Vukovich), Rick Rossovich (Matt), Bess Motta (Ginger), Earl Boen (Silberman)

One of the greatest science fiction films of all time, despite being originally conceived as a horror film, a technological spin on the slasher sub-genre which had become prevalent during the early 1980's.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a role which would define his career, stars as the title character, a cybernetic assassin sent back in time from a future where sentient robots have changed the face of the planet and are engaged in warfare with the last human survivors. Once back in 1980's Los Angeles, The Terminator's mission is to locate a woman whose unborn son would later become the leader of the human resistance. Her best hope for survival comes in the form of a human protector, also sent back in time from the post-apocalyptic future.
Though some of the effects have dated quite poorly and the mono sound recording leaves a slight uncomfort in the ear, the film is a groundbreaking piece of science fiction cinema which transformed James Cameron from a B-movie director into one of Hollywood's brightest prospects. The film also spawned many sequels, the first of which was a superior piece of filmmaking. 
The story poses a chicken-egg paradox which doesn't make much sense, but still delivers one of the finest endings in cinema history.
"It's nothing personal."
"It's nothing personal."
D: James Cameron
Carolco/Lightstorm/Pacific Western (James Cameron)
US 1991
135 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: James Cameron & William Wisher
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Richard A. Harris, Mark Goldblatt & Conrad Buff
Mus: Brad Fiedel 
PD: Joseph Nemec III

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), Edward Furlong (John Connor), Robert Patrick (T-1000), Joe Morton (Miles Dyson), Earl Boen (Silberman)

It's a rarity for a sequel to be on a level par with the original movie, it's even more infrequent when the sequel is an improvement. Director James Cameron seems to have pedigree with sequels, although it would be best to ignore Piranha II. Still, two out of three isn't bad.
It wouldn't be particularly fair to say this is a retread of the first story, even though it may use virtually the same premise, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the same character once again, except this time, he's an obsolete version of the cybernetic assassin, reprogrammed to be a protector against the true villain, a far superior killing machine made from liquid metal.
With his mother in a mental institution, John Connor is a teenage delinquent who spends his days riding his motorbike and rebelling against his foster parents. Little does he know that he's a target for assassination before he grows into the man who leads a resistance against the machines on a post-apocalyptic wasteland.         
Everything about this sequel is an improvement on the first film, especially the ground-breaking special effects which created a new dawn of computer generated imagery. Though it may be set in a 1997 which has been and gone, it doesn't feel dated and has stood the test of time. A complete reversal of the original film, not just with Arnie playing the good guy, but also in the fact that his character arc is completely switched, entering the film as an unemotive robot and becoming increasingly human as the film progresses, despite the exposure of the metal shell beneath his synthetic skin.
The best sequel ever made? Affirmative.
D: Jonathan Mostow
Warner Bros./Columbia/IMF/C2 (Hal Lieberman, Colin Wilson, Mario Kassar, Andrew Vajna & Joel B. Michaels)
US/Germany 2003
109 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: John Brancato & Michael Ferris [based on characters created by James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd & William Wisher]
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Neil Travis & Nicolas de Toth
Mus: Marco Beltrami

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Nick Stahl (John Connor), Claire Danes (Kate Brewster), David Andrews (Lt. Gen. Robert Brewster), Kristanna Loken (T-X)

Before taking a hiatus from the biz to concentrate on a political career, it's quite fitting that Arnold Schwarzenegger chose to reprise the same character that originally made him a hot prospect. Unfortunately, the story isn't anywhere near as good as what we've come to expect from the first two movies.
A decade has passed since the events from the previous film. John Connor is living off the grid having saved the world from mass destruction, but finds that the action taken has only postponed the nuclear holocaust. Hunted by a female "Terminatrix", once again he is protected by the original terminator model, reprogrammed by his future wife, a young vet who he goes on the run with, hoping to reach her military man father before he sets in motion the events which lead up to Judgment Day.
The film feels like a cash grab, and without James Cameron at the helm it seems to meander its way along without a clear destination. The performances don't really work either, and without Linda Hamilton reprising her role as Sarah Connor it loses a bit of the magic. Enioyable enough, thanks to some good visual effects and a handful of car chases and well executed action scenes, but still a rather depressing addition.
D: McG
Warner Bros./Columbia/Sony (Derek Anderson, Moritz Borman, Victor Kubicek & Jeffrey Silver)
US/UK 2009
114 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: John Brancato & Michael Ferris [based on characters created by James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd & William Wisher]
DP: Shane Hurlbut
Ed: Conrad Buff
Mus: Danny Elfman

Christian Bale (John Connor), Sam Worthington (Marcus Wright), Anton Yelchin (Kyle Reese), Moon Bloodgood (Blair Williams), Bryce Dallas Howard (Kate Connor), Helena Bonham-Carter (Dr. Serena Kogan)

The first Terminator film to be set wholly after the nuclear holocaust which practically erases mankind. 
In the midst of battle between the last few human survivors and a race of intelligent machines, a cyborg infiltrates the resistance stronghold where the leader, John Connor, must determine which side he's fighting for.
Though the film has some good special effects (at least for the most part) and a unique visual style, it lacks any emotional substance that previous films had at their core, as well as the time travel element which made the previous movies more than just a humdrum science fiction adventure.
Sam Worthington also played a lead character in Avatar, released the same year with a very similar plot, although that was far more iconic and memorable than what's on display here. Massively disappointing.
"New mission. New fate."
"New mission. New fate."
D: Alan Taylor
Paramount/Skydance (David Ellison & Dana Goldberg)
US 2015
126 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier [based on characters created by James Cameron & William Wisher]
DP: Kramer Morgenthau
Ed: Roger Barton
Mus: Lorne Balfe

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Emilia Clarke (Sarah Cooper), Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese), Jason Clarke (John Connor), J.K. Simmons (O'Brien), Matt Smith (Alex)

Straight off the bat, I'm going to say Terminator: Genisys isn't exactly a sequel, and isn't exactly a remake. What it is, is a fucking insult! 
When The Terminator originally appeared in 1984, it was only a low budget piece of work which made a superstar out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played the title character.
The story of a cyborg assassin, sent back in time to murder the mother of a resistance leader before she has a chance to conceive, drew upon many different genres to present a unique spin on the serial killer films which were dominating cinema theatres around the same time.
It played fast and loose with the theories of time travel, leaving a chicken and egg paradox which is still debated now, incorrectly regarded as a plothole.
1991 saw the first sequel emerge, with a much bigger budget, cinema-changing visual effects, packed with action, thrills and emotional conflict in abundance. It was so good, it's still considered by many as one of the greatest sequels ever.
There were two more sequels, but let's disregard them as Terminator: Genisys does, which starts off as a shot-by-shot remake of the first film but then creates an alternative timeline, where Sarah Connor, the subject of assassination, isn't the meek waitress she once was in the original 1984, but a vigilante action woman, her fate changed due to being guarded over by a reprogrammed terminator since childhood. Due to this 1984-esque rewriting of history, when human protector Kyle Reese does arrive back in time, the mission has changed, so instead of ensuring her survival and conceiving the child of the future, they travel forward in time to 2017 to prevent Judgement Day from ever occurring. Makes sense yet? Well, it won't... (Spoilers)
They arrive in 2017 to be the subject of assassination by yet another terminator, in the form of John Connor (who wouldn't even exist in this paradox), who turns out to be the "father of Skynet", a software which causes the demise of humanity. (Spoiler over)
This film just proves how egotistical Hollywood has become, not just to tarnish the memory of a 1980's classic, but to do so with a plot so ridiculous that it's insulting to the audience. I don't particularly mind the fact that this story negates the happenings in the third and fourth films, since they weren't anything special, but if the big studios are going to continue doing this, can we at least get our money back?
I spoke to one of the head cheeses at a Tinseltown studio who defended their business by laughing at me. This is because Hollywood treats the audience like idiots, which we partly are, because as long as they produce remakes, reboots and sequels of the films of yesteryear, there will always be people who'll watch them, even via piracy.
They can't be bargained with, they can't be reasoned with, they absolutely will not stop, not until we're all dead.

D: James L. Brooks
Paramount (James L. Brooks)
US 1983
132 mins


W: James L. Brooks [based on the novel by Larry McMurtry]
DP: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Ed: Richard Marks
Mus: Michael Gore

Debra Winger (Emma Horton), Shirley MacLaine (Aurora Greenway), Jack Nicholson (Garrett Breedlove), Danny DeVito (Vernon Dahlart), Jeff Daniels (Flap Horton), John Lithgow (Sam Burns)

Winner of the 1983 Oscar for Best Picture, Terms of Endearment follows the relationship between a mother and daughter over several years. The focus of the story is equally split between the life of Aurora Greenaway, the difficult-to-please mother who develops a sexual relationship with her enamoured, alcoholic, ex-astronaut next door neighbour, and Emma, the daughter, who's relationship with her own children comes under scrutiny when she splits from her dim-witted husband and later develops a terminal illness.
Though the final act seems tailored for a TV movie of the week, the film begins as a light hearted comedy with some good humour and dialogue. What really holds it together is two perfect leading performances from Debra Winger & Shirley MacLaine, as well as strong supporting performances, especially Jack Nicholson, who comes close to upstaging the two leading ladies. 
Hardly groundbreaking, but particularly memorable, laying down a stencil for other sentimental melodramas to follow many years since.
"My name is Angela. They're going to kill me."
"My name is Angela. They're going to kill me."
TESIS (18)
D: Alejandro Amenábar
Escorpion (Jose Luis Cuerda)
Spain 1996
126 mins


W: Alejandro Amenábar & Matteo Gil
DP: Hans Buhrmann
Ed: Maria Elena Sainz de Rojas
Mus: Alejandro Amenábar & Mariano Marín

Ana Torrent (Angela Marquez), Fele Martinez (Chema), Eduardo Noriega (Bosco Herranz), Nieves Herranz (Sean Marquez), Rosa Campillo (Yolanda)

A film student plans to write a thesis on snuff films and watches one, only to discover that it's victim is a former student at her school.
Chilling Spanish thriller which might have received more attention had it been in the English language, although maybe it's a very good thing that there was no Hollywood involvement.


D: Roman Polanski

Columbia/Renn/Timothy Burrill/SFP (Claude Berri)

UK/France 1979 (released 1980)

186 mins


W: Roman Polanski, Gerard Brach & John Brownjohn [based on the novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy]

DP: Geoffrey Unsworth & Ghislain Cloquet

Ed: Alastair McIntyre & Tom Priestley

Mus: Philippe Sarde

PD: Pierre Guffroy & Jack Stephens

Cos: Anthony Powell

Nastassja Kinski (Tess Durbeyfield), Peter Firth (Angel Clare), Leigh Lawson (Alec Stokes d'Urberville), Rosemary Martin (Mrs. Durbeyfield), Carolyn Pickles (Marian)

Roman Polanski's tribute to his late wife (Sharon Tate) is this brilliant realised costume drama, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 19th century novel.

Nastassja Kinski lights up the screen as the title character, a peasant girl who discovers that she is of noble heritage and on upon discovering her extended family, she becomes the object of affection for two men, one of whom her affluent cousin.

It's a fine testament to Thomas Hardy's work, which was very ahead of its time, with much focus paid to the setting of 19th century Wessex (director Polanski, a fugitive from America, filmed everything in France, which was harbouring him from arrest). Credit must also go to the two cinematographers, Geoffrey Unsworth, who passed away during filming, and Ghislain Cloquet, who seamlessly took over for the rest of the production 

Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, the film went on to win 3 awards (Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design). 

Very much worth a watch, even if you're not a fan of period drama.


"Who will survive and what will be left of them?"
"Who will survive and what will be left of them?"
D: Tobe Hooper
Bryanston/Vortex (Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper)
US 1974
81 mins


W: Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper
DP: Daniel Pearl
Ed: Sally Richardson
Mus: Wayne Bell

Marilyn Burns (Sally), Allen Danzinger (Jerry), Paul Partain (Franklin), William Vail (Kirk), Gunnar Hanssen (Learltherface)

Fraught with controversy and even banned in some countries since its original 1974 release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will either strike people as one of the scariest horror movies of all time, or a shamelessly violent exploitation film.
A small group of teenagers visiting a cemetery in rural Texas pick up a mentally unsound hitchhiker, who they subsequently ditch, only to go from the frying pan and into the fire when they discover a ramshackle house occupied by a family of maniacs.
Adapted by the same true events which inspired Psycho & The Silence Of The Lambs, it displays a sustained amount of terror which never relents, even up to an ending without any real closure.
Though its cult success has turned it into a horror classic, it's a very difficult film to watch, both due to its guerrilla filmmaking style and its bloodthirsty content, but nobody can deny its power to disturb.
D: Marcus Nispel
New Line (Michael Bay & Mike Fleiss)
US 2003
98 mins


W: Scott Kosar [based on a screenplay by Kim Henkel & Tobe Hooper]
DP: Daniel C. Pearl
Ed: Glen Scantlebury
Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Jessica Biel (Erin), Jonathan Tucker (Morgan), Erica Leerhsen (Pepper), Mike Vogel (Andy), Eric Balfour (Kemper), Andrew Bryniarski (Leatherface), R. Lee Ermey (Sheriff Hoyt)

Some clueless Hollywood executive must have watched the original movie and felt that a remake would be even more disturbing if the audience saw what "Leatherface" looked like beneath his mask made from human skin. It doesn't work.
It also wasn't a good move to cast R. Lee Ermey either, especially playing the same character from Full Metal Jacket, except as a sheriff rather than a drill sergeant.
Though it may have a bigger budget thrown at it, it lacks the austere style which made the original film so stomach churning. It also lacks a more important factor, which would be to make a horror film scary.
"Once in... There's no way out."
"Once in... There's no way out."
D: Ami Canaan Mann
Anchor Bay/Forward Pass/Infinity Media/Gideon/QED/Watley (Michael Jaffe & Michael Mann)
US 2011
115 mins


W: Don Ferrarone
DP: Stuart Dryburgh
Ed: Cindy Mollo
Mus: Dickon Hinchcliffe

Sam Worthington (Det. Mike Souder), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Det. Brian Heigh), Jessica Chastain (Det. Pam Stall), Chloë Grace Moretz (Anne Sliger), Jason Clarke (Rule), Annabeth Gish (Gwen Heigh)

Based on true events, Sam Worthington & Jeffrey Dean Morgan star as detective partners investigating homicide cases which appear to be the work of a serial killer.
The film is very focused on character development and the story has an awful lot of characters, which in turn makes it very dialogue heavy.
The first season of the TV show True Detective touched on similar themes, and in a much more satisfying way.
Worth a watch, but it's nothing spectacular. 

"He doesn't hide the truth. He filters it."
"He doesn't hide the truth. He filters it."
D: Jason Reitman
20th Century Fox (David O. Sacks)
US 2006
92 mins


W: Jason Reitman
DP: James Whitaker
Ed: Dana E. Glauberman 
Mus: Rolfe Kent

Aaron Eckhart (Nick Naylor), Maria Bello (Polly Bailey), Cameron Bright (Joey Naylor), David Koechner (Bobby Jay Bliss), Sam Elliott (Lorne Lutch), Katie Holmes (Heather Holloway), Rob Lowe (Jeff Megall), Robert Duvall (The Captain), William H. Macy (Senator Finistirre)

Aaron Eckhart is excellent in this hilariously politically incorrect black comedy. 
He plays a cynical-but-suave spin doctor who makes a decent living lobbying against bureaucrats for the benefits and virtues of smoking cigarettes.
There are moments towards the tail end of the film which veer towards sentimentality, but it's the irony that comes beforehand which is far more memorable.
"It takes a Siamese secret agent to unravel the purr-fact crime!"
"It takes a Siamese secret agent to unravel the purr-fact crime!"
D: Robert Stevenson
Disney (Ron Miller & Bill Walsh)
US 1965
116 mins


W: Bill Walsh [based on the novel "Undercover Cat" by The Gordons]
DP: Edward Colman
Ed: Cotton Warburton
Mus: Bob Brunner

Hayley Mills (Patti Randall), Dean Jones (Agent Zeke Kelso), Dorothy Provine (Ingrid Randall), Roddy McDowall (Gregory Benson), Neville Brand (Dan)

An intelligent but troublesome cat foils a gang of bank robbers.
Corny and dated live action family comedy from Disney, starring Hayley Mills at the very height of her appeal. Young kids might still find it enjoyable, but a long time has passed since what was deemed enjoyable in 1965. 
A 1997 remake was released, once again by Disney, starring Christina Ricci, but it was largely charmless.
D: Luis Bunuel
Greenwich/Galaxie/Inine (Serge Silberman)
Spain/France 1977
100 mins


W: Luis Bunuel & Jean-Claude Carriere [based on the novel "La Femme et la Pantin" by Pierre Louys]
DP: Edmond Richard
Ed: Helene Pieniannikov
PD: Pierre Guffroy

Fernando Rey (Mathieu), Carole Bouquet / Angela Molina (Conchita)

Luis Bunuel's final film is a surrealist view at a poisonous romance.
On a train from Seville to Paris, a middle-aged man recounts to his fellow passengers of his doomed love affair with Conchita, a beautiful young woman who constantly manipulates, deceives and torments him, leading him on for the thrill of the chase then rebuffing his advances when he does get a chance to bed her.
It's a stroke of genius from the director to use two different actresses for the part of the alluring femme fatale; the demure, seductive and innocent Carole Bouquet when the script calls for the character to be attractive and the cattish, fiery Angela Molina when the script calls for her to be spiteful.
It's all about the duality of the female psyche, and though it can often seem a bit misogynistic, it's also a clever portrayal of a desperate man always wanting what he can never quite get.

D: Tom Hanks
20th Century Fox/Clinica Estetico (Gary Goetzman, Jonathan Demme & Edward Saxon)
US 1996
108 mins


W: Tom Hanks
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Richard Chew
Mus: Howard Shore; Adam Schlesinger, Tom Hanks & Mike Miccirillo

Tom Hanks (Mr. White), Tom Everett Scott (Guy Patterson), Liv Tyler (Faye Dolan), Johnathon Schaech (Jimmy Mattingley), Steve Zahn (Lenny Haise), Ethan Embry (T.B. Player)

In the 1960's, a (fictional) band with modest roots hit the big time with a little help from their manager.
Sanitised bubble gum pop is the flavour for this nostalgia trip when it could have been a better film had it focused on a real life band (The Beatles, perhaps). It feels like a pet project for Tom Hanks, who also wrote and directed, clearly pining for a simpler, more innocent time in his life. A couple of the songs are quite catchy, but the film itself is rather forgettable.
D: Delbert Mann
United Artists/Granley/Arwin/Nob Hill (Stanley Shapiro & Martin Melcher)
US 1962
99 mins


W: Stanley Shapiro & Nate Monaster
DP: Russell Metty
Ed: Ted J. Kent
Mus: George Duning

Cary Grant (Philip Shayne), Doris Day (Cathy Timberlake), Gig Young (Roger), Audrey Meadows (Connie), Dick Sargent (Harry Clark), John Astin (Beasley)

Cary Grant does his usual act as a bachelor tycoon who vies for the attentions of a virginal secretary (played by Doris Day). 
A wink-wink, nudge-nudge sex comedy from the early 1960's which caused a bit of a stir at the time of it's release for being a little too naughty with it's dialogue. Looking back, it's hard to see what the fuss was about, but it's still a charming little vehicle for it's cast with some fun dialogue and good comic timing.
It will have charm for those who need a little throwback to the 1960's, but more modern audiences might wish to give it a skip.
"Somebody said 'get a life'... So they did."
"Somebody said 'get a life'... So they did."
D: Ridley Scott
UIP/Pathé/Percy Main (Ridley Scott & Mimi Polk)
US 1991
128 mins


W: Callie Khouri
DP: Adrian Biddle
Ed: Thom Noble
Mus: Hans Zimmer

Geena Davis (Thelma Dickinson), Susan Sarandon (Louise Sawyer), Harvey Keitel (Hal Slocumb), Michael Madsen (Jimmy Lennox), Christopher McDonald (Darryl Dickinson), Stephen Tobolowsky (Max), Brad Pitt (J.D.)

While on a weekend road trip, two best friends find themselves chased by the law after one of them shoots a man who was attempting to rape the other.
A perfect women's picture, which isn't to say that it's not just as accessible to men. The performances of the two leads are excellent and it's refreshing that director Ridley Scott didn't settle on a Hollywood ending, making the story stronger because of it, with an important message about the power of true friendship.
D: Gordon Douglas
Warner Bros. (David Weisbart)
US 1954
94 mins

Science Fiction/Horror

W: Ted Sherdeman [story by George Worthing Yates]
DP: Sid Hickox
Ed: Thomas Reilly
Mus: Bronislau Kaper

Edmund Gwenn (Dr. Harold Medford), James Whitmore (Sgt. Ben Peterson), Joan Weldon (Dr. Pat Medford), James Arness (Agent Robert Graham), Onslow Stevens (Gen. O'Brien)

Amongst the truly great B-movies of the 1950's and possibly the last of its kind before the genre got flooded with the weird and ridiculous in the 1960's.
The plot here borders on the ridiculous, but there's enough science behind it to suspend disbelief, using atomic radiation as the explanation behind an army of giant ants attacking a small New Mexico town.  It may be old hat by modern standards, but for 1954 this was a groundbreaking concept. The visual effects are also a factor that hasn't dated particularly well, but once again, for the mid-1950's, they're very well executed.
"The world's toughest cop is getting a brand new partner. He's a real blast from the past."
"The world's toughest cop is getting a brand new partner. He's a real blast from the past."
D: Jonathan Betuel
New Line/J&M (Richard Abramson & Sue Baden-Powell)
US 1995
92 mins

Comedy/Science Fiction

W: Jonathan Betuel
DP: David Tattersall
Ed: Rick Shaine & Paul Mirkovich
Mus: Robert Folk

Whoopi Goldberg (Katie Coltrane), George Newbern (voice of Theodore Rex), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Elizar Kane), Juliet Landau (Dr. Veronica Shade), Bud Cort (Spinner), Stephen Hattie (Edge)

Theodore Rex is one of those films which really shouldn't have been made. In fact, it nearly wasn't with main star Whoopi Goldberg reluctant to participate, only coerced into production via the threat of legal action. The final result was a straight to video flop which cost the studio in the region of $35m.
Set in the near future, a robot cop teams up with a humanoid dinosaur to solve a crime. There's some dialogue which the screenwriter planned to be jokes, but they aren't because they're not funny.
Even as a kids film, this is embarrassingly thin, and at 96 minutes it's a complete waste of an hour & a half.

D: James Marsh
Focus Features/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce & Anthony McCarten)
UK 2014
123 mins


W: Anthony McCarten [based on the book "Travelling To Infinity: My Life With Stephen Hawking" by Jane Wilde Hawking]
DP: Benoît Delhomme
Ed: Jinx Godfrey
Mus: Jóhan Jóhannsson

Eddie Redmayne (Stephen Hawking), Felicity Jones (Jane Hawking), Charlie Cox (Jonathan Jones), Emily Watson (Beryl Wilde), Simon McBurney (Frank Hawking), David Thewlis (Dennis Sciama)

Whether or not you've studied any of his work, you should at least have an inkling of who Stephen Hawking is, so that should make this review a lot easier without the need to get into his scientific theories and all that hubbub.
This biopic only mentioned his work on the periphery of the story and focuses almost entirely on his relationship with his first wife, Jane, from their introduction at Cambridge University through to the publishing of his much-heralded book "A Brief History Of Time".
Perhaps some liberties are taken with the facts in favour of this dramatic reconstruction but it all seems rather feasible and tasteful to the Hawking family.
Eddie Redmayne is a revelation. Totally convincing as the Motor Neurone Syndrome-suffering theorist and won a thoroughly merited Oscar for his performance.
It must be said though, that Felicity Jones didn't receive anywhere near enough credit for her portrayal of his on-screen partner, who pledged her life & love to him following his diagnosis. She completely lights up the screen with her resplendent performance, equally deserving of a Best Actress Oscar.
Have some hankies at the ready when watching this, it will most certainly tug at the heartstrings, at least theoretically.

D: Paul Thomas Anderson
Miramax/Paramount Vantage (Joanne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson & Daniel Lupi)
US 2007
152 mins


W: Paul Thomas Anderson [based on the novel "Oil" by Upton Sinclair]
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Jonny Greenwood
PD: Jack Fisk
Cos: Mark Bridges

Daniel Day-Lewis (Daniel Plainview) Paul Dano (Eli Sunday/Paul Sunday), Kevin J. O'Connor (Henry), Ciaran Hinds (Fletcher), Dillon Freasier (H. W. Plainview)

Very close to perfect cinema.  It's a movie in a genre of its own: One which you mull over and mentally digest long after the end credits finish. An intelligent mix of Western, period drama and an allegory for the birth of capitalism and the death of religion.

Daniel Day-Lewis thoroughly deserved his second Oscar for his tour de force performance as oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, a man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever as he manipulates his way into a small church community for the oil beneath their land at the turn of the 20th century.  

I'd even go as far to say that it deserved the Best Picture Academy Award also instead of the Coen Brother's winner No Country For Old Men.  Albeit this might not be a film for all tastes, it cannot be denied that it's an intelligent, thought-provoking, meticulously filmed piece of work that could be hailed as a modern classic.

D: Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly
20th Century Fox (Frank Beddor, Michael Steinberg, Charles B. Wessler & Bradley Thomas)
US 1998
118 mins


W: Ed Decter, John J. Strauss, Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Christopher Greenbury
Mus: Jonathan Richman

Cameron Diaz (Mary Jensen), Ben Stiller (Ted Stroehmann), Matt Dillon (Pat Healy), Lee Evans (Tucker/Norm), Chris Elliott (Dom Woganowski), Lin Shaye (Magda), Jeffrey Tambor (Sully)

Following their bad taste tributes to the road movie (Dumb & Dumber) and sports genre (Kingpin), the Farrelly Brothers' next victim was romantic comedy.
A decade after striking out in embarrassing fashion on prom night, a man hires a shady private detective to locate the whereabouts of his high school sweetheart, but ends up double crossed.
The gross-out gags start early and don't let up as the film progresses, leaving no victims as it even pokes fun at the mentally handicapped. 
Despite the toilet humour, the film was amongst the most successful of its year, and has moments of raucous hilarity, featuring Cameron Diaz' most iconic performance and serving Ben Stiller's career a gigantic boost. It can't be denied that there's something about it.
D: John Carpenter
Universal/Alive (Larry Franco)
US 1988
94 mins

Action/Science Fiction/Horror

W: Frank Armitage [based in the story "Eight O'Clock In The Morning" by Ray Nelson]
DP: Gary B. Kibbe
Ed: Gib Jaffe & Frank E. Jiminez
Mus: John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Roddy Piper (John Nada), Keith David (Frank Armitage), Meg Foster (Holly Thompson), Peter Jason (Gilbert), Raymond St. Jacques (Street Preacher)

Is this the best ever film to feature a professional wrestler in the leading role?
It's a fair claim.
1980's WWF star "Rowdy" Roddy Piper plays drifter John Nada, who discovers a batch of sunglasses which allow the wearer to see the world for what it really is- The world is overruled by a race of skeleton-faced alien zombies who hold all the top positions and all the highest paid jobs, everyone else is controlled through advertising, subliminal messages and an intergalactic beacon.
It's a silly film, but enormous fun, in the same vein as the director's previous film Big Trouble In Little China (qv). Piper and Keith David also feature in arguably the funniest (yet still realistic) fist fight in cinema history, worth watching the film for alone.
A bonafide classic of cult cinema.


D: Peter Jackson

Wingnut (Peter Jackson & Clare Olssen)

UK 2018

99 mins


Ed: Jabez Olssen

Mus: Plan 9

Released in the centennial year following the end of World War I, Peter Jackson's harrowing documentary utilises a film colourisation process which brings new life to historical footage, almost to the point where it seems as though it were captured in the modern era.

The narration is provided by interviews with soldiers who served, detailing their experiences both overseas in Europe during the conflict and their return home afterwards.

A masterclass of factual filmmaking and a technological breakthrough with its retrospective trickery. Incredibly powerful and moving stuff.


"People are the ultimate spectacle."
"People are the ultimate spectacle."
D: Sydney Pollack
Palomar (Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff & Sydney Pollack)
US 1969
129 mins


W: James Poe & Robert E. Thompson [based on the novel by Horace McCoy]
DP: Philip Lathrop
Ed: Frederic Steinkamp
Mus: Johnny Green
PD: Harry Horner
Cos: Donfeld

Jane Fonda (Gloria Beatty), Michael Sarrazin (Robert Syverton), Susannah York (Alice), Gig Young (Rocky), Red Buttons (Sailor), Bonnie Bedelia (Ruby), Bruce Dern (James)

The title refers to a gunman's motive for opening fire towards the end of a six-day dance marathon during the Great Depression manipulated by a sleazy master of ceremonies under the false promise of a $1,500 prize.
The story itself is an allegorical representation of the injustices during this period of record unemployment and bread lines on every corner. The film is packed with a strong ensemble cast, especially Jane Fonda as a headstrong, independent woman, not afraid of lashing out at those around her, Susannah York as a Jean Harlow lookalike desperate for stardom, and Gig Young as the aforementioned master of ceremonies, Rocky. Others with numbers on their backs, dancing for fortune are Red Buttons, a former sailor with heart problems, Bonnie Bedelia as a heavy pregnant woman and Michael Sarrazin as a runaway drifter with no real desire to participate.
Though the film concludes on a harrowingly depressing note, the filmmaking exercise and style has stood the test of time, whereas other films released around the same time during the late 1960's have dated quite badly. Worth watching for the performances alone, with a final punch that delivers a permanent sting.
D: W. S. Van Dyke
MGM (Hunt Stromberg)
US 1934
93 mins


W: Albert Hackett & Frances Goodrich [based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett]
DP: James Wong Howe
Ed: Robert J. Kern
Mus: William Axt

William Powell (Nick Charles), Myrna Loy (Nora Charles), Maureen O'Sullivan (Dorothy Wynant), Nat Pendleton (Lt. John Guild), Minna Gonbell (Mimi Wynant), Porter Hall (MacCauley)

A former detective turned socialite returns to New York after four years and investigates a missing persons case with his wife (and dog) just for the fun of it.
Originally intended as a second feature, the film became so popular during its cinema run that it was promoted to the main picture slot and subsequently nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. 
Like most films from the same period, it hasn't dated particularly well, but it's clear to see the inspiration it provided for crime comedies made later on.

"Every man fights his own war."
"Every man fights his own war."
D: Terrence Malick
20th Century Fox/Fox 2000/Phoenix (Robert Michael Geisler, John Roberdeau & Grant Hill)
US 1998
170 mins


W: Terrence Malick [based on the novel by James Jones]
DP: John Toll
Ed: Billy Weber, Leslie Jones & Saar Klein
Mus: Hans Zimmer

Jim Caviezel (Pvt. Witt), Sean Penn (Sgt. Welsh), Elias Koteas (Capt. Staros), Ben Chaplin (Pvt. Bell), Nick Nolte (Col. Tall), Adrien Brody (Cpl. Fife), John C. Reilly (Sgt. Storm), Woody Harrelson (Sgt. Keck)

Writer-director Terrence Malick's first project in 20 years was lauded by the critics upon release, even garnering 7 Oscar nominations including Best Picture. For traditional cinema audiences however, many would be left scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss was about.         
The film lacks a traditional narrative, instead it focuses on several soldiers on a routine mission during World War II, all of whom have their own outlook on their place in the conflict, as well as on life in general. There could have been even more stories, but several strands of storyline ended up on the cutting room floor, including entire performances from some big names in an already all-star cast.
It's all very pretty to watch, with poetically astounding cinematography perfectly capturing the beautiful setting, but the ultimate point of the movie is that war is a conflict against nature. Take that as you will, there's not much else here.
"Man is the warmest place to hide."
"Man is the warmest place to hide."
D: John Carpenter
Universal (Lawrence Turman & David Foster)
US 1982
109 mins

Science Fiction/Horror/Thriller

W: Bill Lancaster [based on the story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr.]
DP: Dean Cundey
Ed: Todd Ramsay
Mus: Ennio Morricone
PD: John J. Lloyd

Kurt Russell (MacReady), Wilford Brimley (Blair), T.K. Carter (Nauls), David Clennon (Palmer), Keith David (Childs), Richard Dysart (Copper), Richard Masur (Clark), Donald Moffat (Gary)

John Carpenter's big budget remake of the 1950's B-movie The Thing From Another World is superior in every way, from spectacular visual effect to a much more sinister & paranoid plot. Based on the story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr., the action takes place at a remote station on Antarctica where a small team are threatened by an alien shapeshifter which can assimilate anything or anyone.
Although Rob Bottin's amazing creature effects provide the scares, the paranoia element also drives the film, especially in the scene where Kurt Russell's MacCready hatches a plan to ascertain which of his team is 'the thing'.
The final act becomes a bit chaotic with the narrative and over the top with the visual effects, but it leads to fittingly ambiguous ending with only a couple of survivors.
2011 saw a new version released into cinemas which tried to justify itself by calling itself a prequel, but bollocks to that. It's a remake. And a shit one at that!
This is the definitive version of The Thing, complete with one of the best movie taglines ever.
"It's not human. Yet."
"It's not human. Yet."
D: Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr.
Universal/Strike/Morgan Creek (Marc Abraham & Eric Newman)
US 2011
103 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Eric Heisserer [based on the story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr.]
DP: Michel Abramowicz 
Ed: Julian Clarke & Peter Boyle
Mus: Marco Beltrami

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kate Lloyd), Joel Edgerton (Sam Carter), Ulrich Thomsen (Dr. Sander Halvorson), Eric Christian Olsen (Adam Finch), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Derek Jameson)

Though it may have sold itself on the pretence that it's a prequel rather than a remake, this is simply Hollywood spin. It's a remake, using exactly the same formula as John Carpenter's film and not deviating from it. It may not have the same characters, and its closing moments may be a wink to the John Carpenter version, but that's about as original as it gets. If that wasn't bad enough, this remake also substitutes the paranoia in a claustrophobic atmosphere in favour of cheap shock tactics and disappointing CGI gore effects. None of the cast shine and the main female protagonist gives about as much emotion as a bad Kristen Stewart impersonator.
Ignore this abomination and rewatch the 1982 version, even seek out the 1951 version. The only thing on display here is shameless Hollywood greed.
D: Christian Nyby
RKO/Winchester (Howard Hawks)
US 1951
87 mins

Science Fiction/Thriller

W: Charles Lederer [based on the story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr.]
DP: Russell Harlan
Ed: Roland Gross
Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin
PD: Albert S. D'Agostino & John Hughes

Kenneth Tobey (Capt. Patrick Hendry), Margaret Sheridan (Nikki Nicholson), Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. Arthur Carrington), William Self (Cpl. Barnes), James Arness (The Thing)

A bloodthirsty shape-shifting alien attacks a small group of scientists at a remote Antarctic outpost.
For 1951, this was a milestone event in the science fiction genre, becoming the first film to present an extra-terrestrial being (even though it is basically a man in a rubber suit). Director Christian Nyby (with mysterious help from either Howard Hawks or Orson Welles) does a good job cranking up the tension with the limited resources of the time and though many aspects of the production haven't dated so well, the story went on to serve one of the greatest remakes of all time (and unfortunately one of the worst). It also paved way for a fresh sub-genre of science fiction, with many B-movies of similar ilk being released in several years following.


D: William Cameron Menzies

London Films (Alexander Korda)

UK 1936

113 mins

Science Fiction

W: H.G. Wells [based on his novel "The Shape Of Things To Come"]

DP: Georges Perinal

Ed: Charles Crichton & Francis Lyon

Mus: Arthur Bliss

PD: William Cameron Menzies & Vincent Korda

Raymond Massey (John Cabal / Oswald Cabal), Edward Chapman (Pippa Passworthy / Raymond Passworthy), Ralph Richardson (The Boss), Margaretta Scott (Roxana / Rowena), Cedric Hardwicke (Theotocopulos)

In 1936, this British science fiction drama was likely to have been palmed off as flights of fancy. However, on hindsight, H.G. Wells' adaptation of his own novel features a prophecy which doesn't stray too far from real-life events.

The film opens in 1940, in a London-like "Everytown" on the eve of a war which rages on for decades. The war only ceases due to a plague, which is followed by a new civilisation, class system and a race for space, which prompts a rebellion that threatens another war.

A masterful storyteller H.G. Wells may be, but his skills as an author don't necessarily crossover to screenwriting, with little attention paid to dialogue or character development. Visually, however, this film is years ahead of its time, with much focus on the artistic and technical side of filmmaking. Director William Cameron Menzies, whose main expertise was as a production designer and art director, ensures that the ambitious set designs and special effects are a sight to behold, while Arthur Bliss's music captivates the ear. 

A remake was released in 1979, but this was more to cash-in on the success of Star Wars rather than pay tribute to this film.


D: Carol Reed
London Films/British Lion (David O. Selznick, Alexander Korda & Carol Reed)
UK 1949
104 mins


W: Graham Greene
DP: Robert Krasker
Ed: Oswald Hafenrichter
Mus: Anton Karas
PD: Vincent Korda

Joseph Cotten (Holly Martins), Trevor Howard (Major Calloway), Alida Valli (Anna Schmidt), Orson Welles (Harry Lime), Paul Hoerbiger (Porter), Ernst Deutsch (Baron Kurtz), Erich Ponto (Dr. Winkel), Siegfried Breuer (Popescu)

Even those who've not seen The Third Man will recognise Anton Karas' memorable and haunting zither music, while those who have seen it will instantly recognise it as "The Harry Lime Theme".
Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martins, a writer who travels to post-war Vienna to meet his old friend, Harry Lime, but is met not only with the news that his friend has met with an unfortunate accident, but also that he's not the man he thought he was. Holly attempts to convince those spread the bad news that they're mistaken, before an unexpected meeting with the man itself, a delayed appearance which doesn't disappoint. The character's entrance itself is the stuff of cinema legend, whilst Orson Welles' enigmatic performance makes for one of the greatest villains in film history.
Though it may have been produced in 1949, The Third Man has not aged one bit and there's far too much quality here for a film review to accurately give justice to, from Carol Reed's taught direction to Robert Krasker's atmospheric cinematography, making use of real life locations, including dark and dingy sewers, where light and shadows give an even greater air of mystery.
The words 'cinema classic' are often bounded about a little too gratuitously, but this is a filmmaking achievement where the description fits perfectly. 
D: Catherine Hardwicke
UIP (Michael London & Jeffrey Levy-Hinte)
US 2003
100 mins


W: Catherine Hardwicke & Nikki Reed
DP: Elliott Davis
Ed: Nancy Richardson
Mus: Mark Mothersbaugh & Brian Zarate

Evan Rachel Wood (Tracy Freeland), Nikki Reed (Evie Zamora), Holly Hunter (Melanie Freeland), Jeremy Sisto (Brady), Brady Corbett (Mason Freeland), Deborah Kara Unger (Brooke LaLaine)

Two incredibly strong acting performances drive this movie. Holly Hunter really should have won her second Oscar for this and Evan Rachel Wood should have at the very least received a nomination.

Wood plays Tracy, a typical thirteen year old girl, getting decent grades at school, but not one of the in-crowd.  Her life (and her mother's) turn upside down when she becomes friends with one of the cool kids, Evie (Nikki Reed).  From a sweet girl who respects her family and does chores for her mum (Hunter). Tracy gets involved with drugs, alcohol, petty crime and self-harm, getting involved so deep she's a completely different person come the end of the movie, much to the emotional drain of her family and especially her mother.

It's more than just a movie about teen angst, it's also about manipulative friendships and how parents are sometimes almost powerless to stop their kids falling in with the wrong type.

A big surprise is how well directed this film is, beginning in rich colour and slowly becoming black & white as it depicts Tracy's descent into her troubles.  

It's a huge shame director Catherine Hardwicke had to go and (arguably) ruin her career with the first Twilight movie.

"You'll never believe how close we came."
"You'll never believe how close we came."
D: Roger Donaldson
New Line/Beacon (Armyan Bernstein, Peter Almond & Kevin Costner)
US 2000
145 mins


W: David Self [based on the book "The Kennedy Tapes - Inside The White House During The Cuban Missile Crisis" by Ernest R. May & Philip D. Zekalow]
DP: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Ed: Conrad Buff
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: Dennis Washington

Kevin Costner (Kenneth O'Donnell), Bruce Greenwood (John F. Kennedy), Steven Culp (Robert Kennedy), Dylan Baker (Robert McNamara), Michael Fairman (Adlai Stevenson), Henry Strozier (Dean Rusk)

During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy and his White House staff decide on the best course of action to diffuse the situation without creating a Third World War.
An effectively chilling and captivating dramatisation of an important historical event which manages to maintain tension throughout despite it being known how events were resolved. Kevin Costner's comeback performance was unfortunately eclipsed by Bruce Greenwood, who gives an excellent portrayal of JFK. 
D: Alfred Hitchcock
Gaumont British (Ivor Montagu)
UK 1935
81 mins


W: Charles Bennett, Ian Hay & Alma Reville [based on the novel by John Buchan]
DP: Bernard Knowles
Ed: Derek Twist
Mus: Louis Levy

Robert Donat (Richard Hannay), Madeliene Carroll (The Airman), Godfrey Tearle (Prof. Jordan), Lucie Mannheim (Annabella), Peggy Ashcroft (Margaret), John Laurie (John), Wylie Watson (Mr. Memory), Helen Hayes (Mrs. Jordan), Frank Cellier (Sheriff Watson)

Richard Hannay, a Canadian in London, meets a woman named Annabella who is on the run from secret agents. He agrees to provide refuge for her in his flat, but when she is murdered he flees the scene, eludes the police, becomes handcuffed to a woman he meets on a train and eventually takes a chase across Scotland to pursue the real villains.
The plot of the film may deviate from the original novel, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing with film adaptations, especially with a great director like Alfred Hitchcock at the helm. Though it may be one of his earlier works, it has much of the style and gimmickry that went on to serve him later in his career.
D: Michael Caton-Jones
Warner Bros. (Art Linson)
US 1992
115 mins


W: Robert Getchell [based on the book by Tobias Wolff]
DP: David Watkin
Ed: Jim Clark & Peter N. Lonsdale
Mus: Carter Burwell

Leonardo DiCaprio (Tobias Wolff), Robert DeNiro (Dwight Hansen), Ellen Barkin (Caroline Wolff Hansen), Jonah Blechman (Arthur Gayle), Eliza Dushku (Pearl), Chris Cooper (Roy), Carla Gugino (Norma)

An autobiographical story based on the memoir by Tobias Wolff. 
During the 1950's, a rebellious teenage boy changes his attitude when his divorced mother begins a new marriage with a bullying husband in Seattle.
This moving drama, shown entirely from the young boy's point of view, has shades of Stand By Me in its setting and period, but is nothing like a bittersweet nostalgia tale, as it shows the abusive relationship between a violent man and his teenage stepson.
What makes the film so arresting is the strength of it's performances, especially Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his very early roles.
D: Shane Meadows
Optimum/Warp/FilmFour (Mark Herbert)
UK 2006
102 mins


W: Shane Meadows
DP: Danny Cohen
Ed: Chris Wyatt
Mus: Ludovico Einaudi 

Thomas Turgoose (Shaun Fields), Stephen Graham (Andrew 'Combo' Gascoigne), Jo Hartley (Cynthia Fields), Andrew Shim (Milky), Vicky McClure (Lol Jenkins), Joseph Gilgun (Woody), Rosamund Hanson (Michelle)

This Is England is amongst the best British films of the 'noughties'.
Shane Meadows' window into the early 1980's is a little nostalgic and a little unpleasant, but wholly dramatic.
A young boy from a working class background gets bullied at school following his father's death in the Falklands War. He becomes friends with a gang of older teenagers and is soon indoctrinated into a gang with National Front connections.
The film tackles a few issues, including the political landscape of the time, with the roots of racism as its main focus. 
All the characters are well-observed and believable, with solid acting from the entire cast, especially young Thomas Turgoose, who had no prior acting experience.
The film provided inspiration for three spinoff TV mini-series', set in 1986, 1988 and 1990 respectively.

"The sort of sequel to 'Knocked Up'."
"The sort of sequel to 'Knocked Up'."
THIS IS 40 (15)
D: Judd Apatow
Universal (Judd Apatow, Clayton Townsend & Barry Mendel)
US 2012
133 mins


W: Judd Apatow [based on characters from the film screenplay "Knocked Up"]
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Brent White & David L. Bertman
Mus: Jon Brion

Paul Rudd (Pete), Leslie Mann (Debbie), John Lithgow (Oliver), Albert Brooks (Larry), Megan Fox (Desi), Jason Segel (Jason), Melissa McCarthy (Catherine), Chris O'Dowd (Ronnie)

The sort-of-sequel to Knocked Up.

It follows the other couple from that movie, Pete & Debbie, as they hit 40-years-old and suffer a marital crisis, financial problems, a daughter going through puberty and other mid-life problems.

It's pretty much sitcom material from Judd Apatow with slightly more interesting characters, though it's quite obvious in the dialogue what was scripted and what was ad-libbed by the actors. It also makes a mistake of marketing itself as a "sequel" to Knocked Up (qv), but doesn't even have any true reference to events from that movie, nor does it feature the characters played by Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen. Instead it features cameos from Jason Segel, John Lithgow, Megan Fox and others.

As a standalone comedy, it's reasonably enjoyable as a witty attempt to mirror the trials and tribulations of a real-life relationship, but it could have done with being half-an-hour shorter.


D: Rob Reiner
Mainline/Embassy (Karen Murphy)
UK/US 1984
82 mins


W: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer & Rob Reiner
DP: Peter Smokler
Ed: Robert Leighton
Mus: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer & Rob Reiner

Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel), Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls), Rob Reiner (Marty DiBergi), R.J. Parnell (Mick Shrimpton)

A spoof documentary so convincing, those who watched the film on original release wondered why a more successful band weren't the subject of focus.
Following the British band Spinal Tap on their American tour, documentarian Marty DiBergi has a front row seat to witness all the on-stage faux pas, mishaps, cancelled gigs and group spats during their ill-fated journey.
Though it may be a work of fiction, the setbacks that the band fall foul of could all feasibly be based on real-life calamities that befall a rock and roll band, except perhaps the fate that their drummers seem to face, and the film is consistently hilarious from start to finish. 
A special edition DVD is recommended, packed with extras including film commentary from the cast as their on-screen characters.
Most films on this site are rated out of 10. This one goes to 11.
D: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Columbia/Mandate/Point Grey (Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg & James Weaver)
US 2013
106 mins

Comedy/Science Fiction

W: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg [based on the comic book "Jay & Seth versus The Apocalypse" by Jason Stone]
DP: Brandon Trost
Ed: Zene Baker
Mus: Henry Jackman

Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson

All the actors in This Is The End play exaggerated versions of themselves, most of whom only seem to play the same character they've played in every film in which they've appeared. The cast includes Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera and Danny McBride, all of which do their usual.

The story pans out like an American stoner end of days flick, written and filmed while the entire cast were high on drugs.

During a party at James Franco's house, where everyone is doing drugs, the apocalypse occurs leaving Franco, Rogen, Robinson, Hill, McBride and Jay Baruchel to fight over who gets to eat a Milky Way and who gets to rape Emma Watson.

The biggest problem with this film is that it's just not funny and just comes off as a self-indulgent Shaun Of The Dead. I actually find it quite insulting that a group of actors and grown men need to stoop to the level of "look at us, we're famous, but we do drugs just like the 'common' folk". It just smacks of needy.

I personally couldn't wait for the end.

"It's spy against spy."
"It's spy against spy."
D: McG
20th Century Fox/Overbrook (Simon Kinberg, James Lassiter, Robert Simonds & Will Smith)
US 2012
97 mins


W: Timothy Dowling & Marcus Gautesen
DP: Russell Carpenter
Ed: Nicolas de Toth
Mus: Christophe Beck

Reese Witherspoon (Lauren Scott), Chris Pine (Franklin Foster), Tom Hardy (Tuck Hansen), Til Schweiger (Karl Heinrich), Chelsea Handler (Trish)

A sitcom plot is needlessly stretched over 97 minutes as Reese Witherspoon tries to decide whose pants she'd rather get into between fellow spies Chris Pine & Tom Hardy. Being a frivolous girl of the 21st century she decides that she wants both. I'm sure there's words for women like that.
Considering Witherspoon won a Best Actress Academy Award for 2005's Walk The Line, it's incredibly disappointing that she didn't go on to broaden her range, instead of reverting to the tedious, insipid rom-com nonsense which is quite frankly beneath her. As for Chris Pine & Tom Hardy, since they're trying to aim for action man roles, it's quite possible they'll regret appearing in this, expunging it from their CV's. Complete dross.

D: Norman Jewison
United Artists (Norman Jewison)
US 1968
102 mins


W: Alan R. Trustman
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Hal Ashby, Ralph E. Winters & Byron Brandt
Mus: Michel Legrand
PD: Robert Boyle
Cos: Theodora Van Runkle, Ron Postal & Alan Levine

Steve McQueen (Thomas Crown), Faye Dunaway (Vicky Anderson), Paul Burke (Eddy Malone), Jack Weston (Erwin Weaver), Biff McGuire (Sandy), Yaphet Kotto (Carl)

Steve McQueen gives one of his most notable performances as Thomas Crown, a self-made millionaire who masterminds a bank robbery simply to see if he can get away with it, even with sexy insurance investigator Vicky Anderson turning her focus to him and eventually falling for his charms.
The story does get a little bogged down under the weight of artistic directorial flourishes and gimmicks from Norman Jewison, such as split screen multi-images and other gimmicks, which only detract from the story.
This being said, it's a film which came out at the right time, capturing the coolness of the late 1960's, but watching nowadays it's very much style and technique over story and characterisation, it's still worth a watch for the iconic chess scene, in which the two leads smoulder over each other as they match wits.
The film was remade in 1999, starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo.

"Courage is immortal."
"Courage is immortal."
THOR (12)
D: Kenneth Branagh
Paramount/Marvel (Kevin Feige)
US 2011
114 mins


W: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne, J. Michael Straczynski & Mark Protosevich [based on the comic book by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby]
DP: Haris Zambarloukos
Ed: Paul Rubell
Mus: Patrick Doyle

Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Tom Hiddlestone (Loki), Stellan Skarsgård (Erik Selvig), Colm Feore (Laufey), Ray Stevenson (Volstagg), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis), Rene Russo (Frigga), Anthony Hopkins (Odin)

The choice of director may have been a strange one at the time of release, but Kenneth Branagh makes a very decent stab at the superhero subgenre. In fact, Thor is every bit as good as other recent superhero flicks Captain America, Iron Man, X-Men, et al, and sets up the characters perfectly for the Avengers Assemble (qv) movie.
This origin tale sees the powerful but arrogant God of Thunder outcast from his home planet of Asgard and banished to Earth where he must learn humility. He only does so when he falls in love, thus placing the needs of others above his own.
Chris Hemsworth is very impressive in his breakthrough performance as the title character, whilst Natalie Portman provides a convincing love interest. Anthony Hopkins is Anthony Hopkins.
There's a little bit of Flash Gordon campiness and the story has been done in various forms before, but still it's a great introduction of an iconic comic book character yet to make his big screen appearance.

D: Alan Taylor
Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)
US 2013
112 mins


W: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Robert Rodat & Don Payne [based on the comic book by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby]
DP: Kramer Morgenthau
Ed: Dan Lebental & Wyatt Smith
Mus: Brian Tyler

Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Tom Hiddlestone (Loki), Stellan Skarsgård (Erik Solvig), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Christopher Ecclestone (Malekith), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Algrim/ Kurse), Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis)

An okay sequel to the first film which follows on from the events in 2012's Avengers Assemble.

It's important to watch the preceding movies, but not imperative (as it should be). Of course, it always helps to be familiar with the comic book character.

With Loki in the dungeons and Thor about to take his throne, the people of his kingdom face an invisible enemy who wish to destroy the universe as we know it.

In truth, the plot is a load of mumbo-jumbo, but it sees characters from the original film returning, including Natalie Portman as Thor's bit of fluff.

The action set pieces are what make the movie worth watching and it sets up the third movie nicely.



D: Taika Waititi

Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)

US 2017

130 mins

Fantasy/Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost [based on characters created by Stan Lee & Larry Lieber]

DP: Javier Aguirresarobe

Ed: Joel Negron & Zene Baker

Mus: Mark Mothersbaugh

Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Karl Urban (Skurge), Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster)

The third Thor movie and 17th of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is up amongst the better superhero movies and is certainly the best of Thor's individual adventures.

The action and adventure commences immediately, with Thor defeating a fire demon to prevent the fabled Ragnarok (a prophecy foretelling the end of Asgard, Thor's home planet). 

On his return home, he discovers that his mischievous brother Loki has been impersonating their father, and has allowed their world to become vulnerable to attack. 

They visit Earth to locate their father, and are met by their older sister, Hela, The Goddess of War, who takes over their home and leaves Thor stranded on a junkyard planet where he becomes involved in gladiatorial combat for a dictatorial leader's entertainment. 

Thor: Ragnarok had plenty of action, adventure and comic relief to entertain throughout its duration, and sticks closely enough to the source material to keep fanboys happy.

Some of the visual effects aren't quite as polished as others (the giant dog looks rather poor), but the Incredible Hulk effects have never looked better.

As always, a post-credit sequence offers a teaser for the next in the series of films (2018's The Avengers: Infinity War). One minor gripe is that Natalie Portman's character is lazily written out, replaced by Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, whose acting certainly can't be classed as Oscar-worthy by any stretch of the imagination.



D: Cory Finley

Universal/Focus Features/June/Big Indie (Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Kevin J. Walsh, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash)

US 2017 [released 2018]

92 mins


W: Cory Finley

DP: Lyle Vincent

Ed: Louise Ford

Mus: Erik Friedlander

Anya Taylor-Joy (Lily), Olivia Cooke (Amanda), Anton Yelchin (Tim), Paul Sparks (Max), Francie Swift (Cynthia)

The distributor's marketing department definitely made a faux pas pushing this film as a comedy. If anything, it could loosely be considered a black comedy, but it would be more apt to call it an indie mix of Heathers, Heavenly Creatures and Strangers On A Train.

Anya Taylor-Joy & Olivia Cooke play a pair of troubled upper-class schoolgirls, Lily and Amanda, who rekindle an unlikely friendship after spending much of their teenage years apart. The uneasy friendship between them culminates in a conspiracy to plot the murder of Lily's stepfather... enlisting the help of slacker drug dealer Tim.

Spending a year on the festival circuit before being given a wide release, this is an impressive piece of independent cinema from a breakthrough writer-director, with two good performances from its young actresses (Taylor-Joy is definitely one to watch).

The script was originally written for stage, and though it would probably best be suited to that medium, this film is well worth a watch if you have a spare 90 odd minutes.


D: Ken Annakin 
20th Century Fox (Stan Margulies & Jack Davies)
UK 1965
133 mins


W: Jack Davies & Ken Annakin
DP: Christopher Challis
Ed: Gordon Stone & Anne V. Coates
Mus: Ron Goodwin
PD: Tom Morahan

Sarah Miles (Patricia Rawnsley), Stuart Whitman (Orvil Newton), Robert Morley (Lord Rawnsley), Terry-Thomas (Sir Percy Ware-Armitage), James Fox (Richard Mays), Alberto Sordi (Count Emilio Ponticelli), Gert Fröbe (Col. Manfred Von Holstein)

In 1910, a newspaper tycoon sponsors a London to Paris air race.
An airborne version of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World full of eccentric characters and their even crazier flying machines. It's all quite knockabout and a little bit pompous, but has plenty of jokes flying around to entertain for the running time.
The screenplay received an Oscar nomination.
D: John Landis
Orion (Lorne Michaels & George Folsey, Jr.)         
US 1986
105 mins


W: Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels & Randy Newman
DP: Ronald W. Browne
Ed: Malcolm Campbell
Mus: Elmer Bernstein; Randy Newman
PD: Richard Sawyer

Steve Martin (Lucky Day), Chevy Chase (Dusty Bottoms), Martin Short (Ned Nederlander), Patrice Martinez (Carmen), Alfonso Arau (El Guapo), Joe Mantegna (Harry Flugleman)

Three cowardly cowboy song-and-dance film stars, fired by their studio for insubordination, are hired by a Mexican woman to rid their small village from attacks by a notorious bandit. They agree, believing it to be staged for entertainment purposes, but when real bullets start to fly, they realise too late that they're way out of their depth.
It's a slapstick version of The Magnificent Seven, with added songs. Enjoyment depends heavily on whether or not you like Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. For those who do, this will rank amongst their best work.


D: Michael McDonagh

Fox Searchlight/Film4/Cutting Edge/Blueprint (Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin & Martin McDonagh)

US/UK 2017

115 mins


W: Martin McDonagh

DP: Ben Davis

Ed: Jon Gregory

Mus: Carter Burwell

Frances McDormand (Mildred Hayes), Woody Harrelson (William Willoughby), Sam Rockwell (Jason Dixon), Lucas Hedges (Robbie), Caleb Landry Jones (Red Welby), Abbie Cornish (Anne), John Hawkes (Charlie), Peter Dinklage (James)

Frances McDormand delivers one of her very best performances (and certainly her best since Fargo) in this jet black comedy from Martin McDonagh.

McDormand plays Mildred, a mourning mother, fuelled by guilt and grief, who makes use of three billboards outside her small Missouri town to shame the local police into finding her daughter's killer.

The local police chief, William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), is initially opposed to the erection of the billboards, which also spawn the wrath of racist deputy Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) and it doesn't take long before the rest of the townsfolk turn against Mildred and her vigilante actions.

With dialogue which cuts like a knife and a cast of characters who fall between morally reprehensible and wholly sympathetic, McDonagh's film feels like a Chaucer inspired fable on the stages of grieving, managing to tackle every emotion and bring it to the screen. You may laugh, you may cry, you may even wince. 

There will be some who won't take a liking to its style and content, but for many this will easily amongst the best films they'll see from 2017.


"His code name is Condor. In the next twenty-four hours everyone he trusts will try to kill him."
"His code name is Condor. In the next twenty-four hours everyone he trusts will try to kill him."
D: Sydney Pollack
Paramount (Stanley Schneider)
US 1975
118 mins


W: Lorenzo Semple, Jr. & David Rayfiel [based on the novel "Six Days of the Condor" by James Grady]
DP: Owen Roizman
Ed: Fredric Steinkamp & Don Guidice
Mus: Dave Grusin

Robert Redford (Joe Turner), Faye Dunaway (Kathy Hale), Cliff Robertson (Higgins), Max Von Sydow (Joubert), John Houseman (Mr. Wabash)

Robert Redford plays Joe Turner, codenamed Condor, an innocent researcher for a branch of the CIA who is targeted for assassination by a rival branch. 
Amongst the best thrillers of the 1970's, which is quite a remarkable achievement considering it was a decade which featured plenty. 

"They rob banks. She steals hearts."
"They rob banks. She steals hearts."
D: Francis Veber
Warner Bros./Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV (Lauren Shuler-Donner)
US 1989
96 mins


W: Francis Veber [based on the screenplay "Les Fugitifs"]
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Bruce Green
Mus: David McHugh

Nick Nolte (Daniel Lucas), Martin Short (Ned Perry), Sarah Rowland Doroff (Meg Perry), James Earl Jones (Det. Movan Duggan), Alan Ruck (Tenner)

A serial bank robber, just released from prison is caught up in someone else's bungled heist and goes on the run with the inept criminal and his young daughter.
American remake of a French farce (from the same writer-director) which probably worked better in its native language. It starts off reasonably well and the attempted bank robbery has moments of slapstick amusement, but the comedy grows thin as the film moves on. It's likely to be enjoyed most by those who like to see Martin Short receiving physical abuse.
"Prepare for glory!"
"Prepare for glory!"
300 (12)
D: Zack Snyder
Warner Bros./Legendary/Virtual (Steve Barnett & Mark Canton)
US 2006
91 mins


W: Zack Snyder & Kurt Johnstad [bassd on the comic book by Frank Miller]
DP: Larry Fong
Ed: William Hoy
Mus: Tyler Bates

Gerard Butler (King Leonidas), Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), David Wenham (Dilios), Dominic West (Theron), Vincent Regan (Captain), Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes)

Visually, much of 300 is a treat to behold, utilising computer trickery to generate its ancient backgrounds, settings and surroundings. 
The story itself is a comic book style retelling of the fable where a Spartan king leads his small army into battle against vastly superior Persian numbers.
It's no history lesson, and the dialogue is mostly shouted rather than spoken, but it all builds up towards a brutal blood & thunder battle where the 300 become the stuff of legend.
"They're deserters, rebels and thieves. But in the nicest possible way."
"They're deserters, rebels and thieves. But in the nicest possible way."
D: David O. Russell
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/Coast Ridge/Atlas (Charles Roven, Paul Junger Witt & Edward L. McDonnell)
US 1999
115 mins


W: David O. Russell [story by John Ridley]
DP: Newton Thomas Sigel
Ed: Robert K. Lambert
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Catherine Hardwicke

George Clooney (Archie Gates), Mark Wahlberg (Troy Barlow), Ice Cube (Chief Elgin), Spike Jonze (Conrad Vig), Jamie Kennedy (Walter Wogaman), Mykelti Williamson (Col. Horn), Cliff Curtis (Amir Abdullah), Said Taghmaoui (Capt. Said), Judy Greer (Cathy Daitch)

At the end of the Gulf War in 1991, a small group of American soldiers desert their ranks to locate Saddam Hussein's hoard of gold buried behind enemy lines.
Partially satirical, partial black comedy war adventure before becoming neither here nor there. Very entertaining for the most part, but the best scenes come in the first 20 minutes. 
Critics seemed to appreciate it more than audiences, deeming it the only good thing to come out of the Middle East conflict.
D: Leonard Nimoy
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners III (Ted Field & Robert W. Cort)
US 1987
102 mins


W: James Orr & Jim Cruickshank [based on the screenplay "Trois Hommes et un Couffin" by Coline Serreau]
DP: Adam Greenberg
Mus: Marvin Hamlisch

Tom Selleck (Peter Mitchell), Steve Guttenberg (Michael Kellam), Ted Danson (Jack Holden), Nancy Travis (Sylvia)

Three swinging bachelors living together in a luxurious Manhattan penthouse have their lives thrown into turmoil when a baby is left on their doorstep. 
This American remake of 1985 French farce "Trois Hommes et un Couffin" (or "Three Men & A Cradle" for those who parle Anglais) was a enormously successful, becoming one of the biggest films of 1987.          
The three leads acquit themselves well, but it's Tom Selleck who comes off best, playing the relatively straight man to Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson's more kooky characters.
There was also a myth surrounding the film that a ghost is seen in the background during one of the scenes. It is, of course, completely untrue, the "ghost" simply being a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson lazily left on set by a naughty stagehand.
It's a comedy which worked best in the yuppie 1980's, especially with the portrayal of three men who are absolutely clueless when it comes to bringing up an infant. Times have moved on, but the film still remains a modest classic of 80's cinema.
D: Emile Ardolino
Touchstone/Interscope (Ted Field & Robert W. Cort)
US 1990
100 mins


W: Charlie Peters, Sara Parriott & Josann McGibbon [based on characters from "Three Men & A Baby"]
DP: Adam Greenberg
Mus: James Newton Howard

Tom Selleck (Peter Mitchell), Steve Guttenberg (Michael Kellam), Ted Danson (Jack Holden), Nancy Travis (Sylvia), Christopher Cazenove (Edward Hargreave), Fiona Shaw (Elspeth Lomax)

Fans of the original film will see this as a guilty pleasure even though the story is basically a pantomime. The three bachelors from the first film set off for England to prevent the mother of their "adopted" from marrying a man who doesn't like children.
The film is rather slapdash in its treatment and isn't quite sure what kind of comedy it's trying to be, veering from tawdry sex comedy to crude slapstick before ending in farce. 
It has its heart in the right place and plays on the "cute strings", but the story wouldn't have seen the light of day had the first film not made the production company an absolute fortune. The main trio of male stars are completely upstaged by Fiona Shaw's uppity schoolteacher who takes a shine to Tom Selleck's character.
A good conclusion to a much-loved comedy double bill.
D: Richard Lester
20th Century Fox/Film Trust (Alexander Salkind)
UK/Panama 1973
107 mins


W: George MacDonald Fraser [based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas]
DP: David Watkin
Ed: John Victor Smith
Mus: Michel Legrand
PD: Brian Eatwell
Cos: Yvonne Blake & Ron Talsky

Michael York (d'Artagnan), Oliver Reed (Athos), Richard Chamberlain (Aramis), Frank Finlay (Porthos), Geraldine Chaplin (Anne of Austria), Jean-Pierre Cassel (King Louis XIII), Charlton Heston (Cardinal Richelieu), Faye Dunaway (Milady de Winter)

Not the first film based on Alexandre Dumas' classic novel and it certainly won't be the last, but probably the most lavishly produced with no expense held back in recreating the period with huge sets, garish costumes and an all-star cast.
This treatment is mostly for jokes, without much plot, but all the loose ends come together for The Four Musketeers, released a year later.
D: Jon Turtletaub
Buena Vista/Touchstone/Global Venture (Martha Chang)
US 1992
84 mins


W: Edward Emanuel
DP: Richard Michalek 
Ed: David Rennie
Mus: Rick Marvin

Victor Wong (Mori Tanaka), Michael Treanor (Samuel 'Rocky' Douglas), Max Elliott Slade (Jeffrey 'Colt' Douglas), Chad Power (Michael 'Tum Tum' Douglas), Alan McRae (Samuel Douglas, Sr.)

Aimed solely at young teenagers, this amiable adventures sees three boys, all sons of an FBI agent and taught martial arts by their grandfather, on a mission to defeat an arms dealer.
For kids, this is perfectly adequate, though anyone over the age of 15 will probably find it too silly. Despite this, it was reasonably successful, triggering a string of sequels.
"Time Waits For One Man."
"Time Waits For One Man."

3:10 TO YUMA (15)

D: James Mangold

Lionsgate/Relativity Media/Tree Line (Cathy Konrad)

US 2007

122 mins


W: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas [based on the novel "Three-Ten To Yuma" by Elmore Leonard]

DP: Phedon Papamichael

Ed: Michael McCusker

Mus: Marco Beltrami

Christian Bale (Dan Evans), Russell Crowe (Ben Wade), Logan Lerman (William Evans), Ben Foster (Charlie Prince), Peter Fonda (Byron McElroy), Alan Tudyk (Doc Potter)

Elmore Leonard's novel was originally given the big screen treatment in 1957 starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. Fifty years later comes this update with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in the respective roles and it has to be said that it's a very impressive remake, especially considering it was released in a decade when the western genre was generally considered a thing of the past.

Bale plays Dan Evans, a penniless rancher who lives with his family and gets no respect from his teenage son.  He witnesses a stagecoach robbery by infamous outlaw Ben Wade and his crew nearby his land and when the criminal is captured by authorities, he volunteers to escort him to the town of Contention, which has a rail station which will transport the prisoner to Yuma, where he will face trial. Evans does this for two reasons, money to save his ranch and also to win the respect of his son, as the mission takes them across hostile territory and pursued by Wade's violent gang.

Both Bale and Crowe are excellent and the film does a great job transporting the viewer back to the Wild West. Oscar nominations were received for its music and sound, and it wouldn't have been a huge surprise had it received more. 

Many have called it one of the best remakes of recent years, and I'd be inclined to agree.


"One girl. Two guys. Three possibilities."
"One girl. Two guys. Three possibilities."
D: Andrew Fleming
Tristar/MPCA (Bud Krevoy & Steve Stabler)
US 1994
93 mins


W: Andrew Fleming
DP: Alexander Gruszynski
Ed: William C. Carruth
Mus: Thomas Newman

Lara Flynn Boyle (Alex), Stephen Baldwin (Stuart), Josh Charles (Eddy), Alexis Arquette (Dick), Martha Gehman (Renay)

An administrative error means two guys and a girl have to share a university dorm.
A high school sex comedy which, quite surprisingly, doesn't have much sex in it. The innuendo was enough for an 18 certificate though. 
It's practically a teenage version of the French New Wave 1962 film Jules et Jim (qv), which it references quite heavily. It's reasonably enjoyable for the most part, with upfront and earnest statements about sexuality.
D: Akira Kurosawa
Toho (Akira Kurosawa & Sojiro Motoki)
Japan 1957
105 mins


W: Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima & Akira Kurosawa [based on the play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare]
DP: Asaichi Nakai
Ed: Akira Kurosawa
Mus: Masaru Sato
PD: Yoshiro Muraki & Kohei Ezaki

Toshiro Mifune (Washizu Taketoki), Isuzu Yamada (Washizu Asaji), Takashi Shimura (Odakura Noriyasu), Minoru Chiaki (Miki Yoshiaki), Akira Kubo (Miki Yoshiteru)

Akira Kurosawa's take on Shakespeare's Macbeth, translating it into his native language and adapting it to represent old Japanese culture, in which a samurai, prompted by his wife and an old witch, murders his lord and suffers the subsequent repercussions.          
Like The Seven Samurai, this ranks amongst the director's finest works, beautiful to watch and a solid adaptation of a piece of classic literature.
"Owen asked his friend, Larry, for a small favor..."
"Owen asked his friend, Larry, for a small favor..."
D: Danny DeVito
Orion (Larry Brezner)
US 1987
88 mins


W: Stu Silver
DP: Barry Sonnenfeld
Ed: Michael Jablow
Mus: David Newman

Billy Crystal (Larry Donner), Danny DeVito (Owen Lift), Anne Ramsay (Momma), Kim Greist (Beth Ryan), Kate Mulgrew (Margaret Donner)

The title may be a little off-putting, but this black comedy is actually a very good homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train (qv).
A bitter writing professor, struggling with his new book while his ex-wife reaps the rewards of plagiarising his previous work, is approached by one of his students, a bullied momma's boy who tries to convince him to swap murders.
Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito make a surprisingly good double act, with the former playing the straight man to the latter's sinister incompetent. Though the comedy does have occasional moments of slapstick, its funniest moments are in the darker scenes.
D: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman
Warner Bros. (Don Bluth)
US/Ireland 1994
87 mins


W: Don Bluth [based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson]
Mus: Barry Manilow & William Ross

voices of: Jodi Benson (Thumbelina), Gary Imhoff (Prince Cornelius), Joe Lynch (Grundel Toad), Gino Conforti (Jacquimo)

The standard of the animation on show here may have passed quality control when Disney were off their A-game during the 1980's, but following the studio giant's rejuvenation in the early 1990's, this film was on a hiding to nothing.
Unless you're six years of age or younger, it does no justice at all to its source material and the Barry Manilow songs are all rather terrible.
D: Terence Young
United Artists/Eon (Kevin McClory)
UK 1965
132 mins


W: Richard Maibaum & John Hopkins [based on the novel by Ian Fleming]
DP: Ted Moore
Ed: Peter Hunt
Mus: John Barry

Sean Connery (James Bond), Adolfo Celi (Emilio Largo), Claudine Auger (Dominique Derval), Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe), Rik Van Nutter (Felix Leiter), Bernard Lee (M), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny)

After getting back in shape at a health spa, Agent 007 is sent to The Bahamas to locate a stolen NATO bomber with a nuclear payload hidden somewhere underwater.
This fourth James Bond spy adventure is amongst the most memorable, but not necessarily amongst the best, as it trades story and structure in favour of gimmicks and gadgets, though it does have plenty of action scenes, stunts and Oscar-winning visual effects. Tom Jones warbles the rather forgettable theme song.
D: Michael Apted
Columbia Tristar/Tribeca/Waterhorse (Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal & John Fusco)
US 1992
119 mins


W: John Fusco 
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Ian Crafford
Mus: James Horner

Val Kilmer (Ray Levoi), Sam Shepard (Frank Coutelle), Graham Greene (Walter Crow Horse), Fred Ward (Jack Milton), Fred Dalton Thompson (William Dawes)

A rookie FBI agent investigates a murder on a Sioux reservation in North Dakota during the 1970's. Partly based on fact, the film isn't particularly memorable, but there are far worse choices for an evening's viewing entertainment.
Graham Greene steals the acting honours with his turn as a native police officer, Walter Crow Horse.
It's also worth notice that this was one of the first films produced by Robert DeNiro's production company, Tribeca.
D: Pete Hewitt
Pathé/Sky/UK Film Council (Graham Broadbent, Damian Jones & Pete Hewitt)
UK 2002
83 mins


W: Phil Hughes
DP: Andy Collins
Ed: Michael Parker
Mus: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Rupert Grint (Alan A. Allen), Bruce Cook (Patrick Smash), Simon Callow (Sir John Osgood), Stephen Fry (Sir Anthony Silk), Celia Imrie (Miss Rapier), Paul Giamatti (Johnson J. Johnson), Ned Beatty (Gen. Ed Sheppard)

A stupid film with a stupid story, but it was unashamedly aimed at children, especially Harry Potter fans as it features Rupert Grint, who found initial fame portraying Ron Weasley in the magical film series.
The story here follows a young boy who suffers from constant flatulence and eventually uses his ailment to power a rocket into space. 
A one-joke movie which appeals only to those who find its premise funny, to everyone else it's a flagrant waste of UK Film Council money, especially considering some of the names involved.
"The Future Is Here."
"The Future Is Here."

THX 1138 (15)

D: George Lucas

Warner Bros/American Zoetrope (Francis Ford Coppola & Lawrence Sturhahn)

US 1971

95 mins

Science Fiction

W: George Lucas

DP: David Myers & Albert Kihn

Ed: George Lucas

Mus: Lalo Schifrin

Robert Duvall (THX 1138), Donald Pleasance (SEN 5241), Maggie McOmie (LUH 3417)

Six years before Star Wars was originally released, George Lucas made his directorial debut with this Avant Garde sci-fi, based on a short film he created whilst still studying at film school.

Set in a dystopian future policed by cyborgs, humans are stripped of their identities and have their emotions suppressed by mandatory drugs. THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) begins to break these rules along with two other rebels, and they rise up against the strict society in which they live.

It's fair to say that the concept is better than the film, and although this served as an inspiration to what was to become Star Wars, it failed to find an audience when it was originally released, only garnering a cult following after George Lucas' universal success.


"A highly strung love story."
"A highly strung love story."
D: Pedro Almodóvar
Enterprise/El Deseo (Agustin Almodóvar)
Spain 1991
102 mins


W: Pedro Almodóvar 
DP: Jose Luis Alcaine
Ed: José Salcedo
Mus: Ennio Morricone

Antonio Banderas (Ricky), Victoria Abril (Marina Osorio), Loles Leon (Lola), Francisco Rabal (Maximo Espejo)

A drug-addict porn actress is kidnapped by a former psychiatric patient who keeps her tied to his bed.
Though the plot sounds incredibly unsettling, it's very tastefully handled by Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar, who uses the brutal setting as a study for Stockholm syndrome rather than a tawdry S & M love story. 
Shot in Spanish, with English subtitles, but even some lovers of foreign language cinema will still be put off by its lurid storyline.
D: Joel Schumacher
20th Century Fox/New Regency (Arnon Milchan, Steven Haft & Beau Flynn)
US/Germany 2000
109 mins


W: Ross Klavan & Michael McGruther
DP: Matthew Libatique
Ed: Mark Stevens
Mus: Nathan Larsen

Colin Farrell (Pvt. Roland Bozz), Matthew Davis (Pvt. Jim Paxton), Clifton Collins, Jr. (Pvt. Miter), Thomas Guiry (Pvt. Cantwell), Shea Whigham (Pvt. Wilson)

In the build up to the Vietnam War, a rebellious young soldier causes trouble at a tough Louisiana training camp.
Filmed in Dogme style by director Joel Schumacher, using only natural light on set with handheld cinematography, the general premise of this film seems lifted from other movies, simply repackaged in a style that critics were agog about at the time of release, making this exercise not much more than shameless Oscar-bait, it does however feature an enigmatically characteristic performance from Colin Farrell which will keep you hooked throughout.
"They didn't make history, they stole it!"
"They didn't make history, they stole it!"
D: Terry Gilliam
Avco Embassy/Handmade Films (Terry Gilliam)
UK 1981
113 mins


W: Michael Palin & Terry Gilliam
DP: Peter Biziou
Ed: Julian Doyle
Mus: Mike Moran 
PD: Millie Burns

John Cleese (Robin Hood), Sean Connery (Agamemnon), Ian Holm (Napoleon), Ralph Richardson (Supreme Being), David Warner (Evil), Shelley Duvall (Pansy), Michael Palin (Vincent)

Terry Gilliam's first film following his success with the Monty Python comedy troupe sees a schoolboy taken on a trip through time by a group of mischievious dwarves.
The comedy style tries desperately to emulate the hilarity of Monty Python sketches, but falls short and sometimes feels like a desperate attempt at zany. Still, it does have some funny moments, but would be best appreciated only by fans of Terry Gilliam.
"You will orbit into the fantastic future."
"You will orbit into the fantastic future."
D: George Pal
MGM/Galaxy (George Pal)
US 1960
103 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: David Duncan [based on the novel by H. G. Wells]
DP: Paul C. Vogel
Ed: George Tomasini
Mus: Russell Garcia
PD: George W. Davis & William Ferrari

Rod Taylor (George Wells), Yvette Mimieux (Weena), Alan Young (David Filby/James Filby), Sebastian Cabot (Dr. Phillip Hillyer)

On the eve of 20th century, a Victorian inventor creates a time machine which propels him to the year 802701, where mankind has divided into two species, the peace-loving, languid Eloi, and carnivorous beasts known as Morlocks.
This treatment of H. G. Wells' classic novel is more a metaphor for the power of education and the importance of reading rather than the regular science fiction fare released around the same time. The production design and time-lapse special effects were quite remarkable considering the film's age, but feel incredibly dated now, nevertheless this is still streets ahead of the 2002 remake.
D: Simon Wells
Warner Bros./Dreamworks (Walter F. Parkes & David Valdes)
US 2002
96 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: John Logan [based on the novel by H. G. Wells]
DP: Donald M. McAlpine
Ed: Wayne Wahrman
Mus: Klaus Badelt 
PD: Oliver Scholl 
Cos: Deena Appel & Bob Ringwood

Guy Pearce (Dr. Alexander Hartdegen), Samantha Mumba (Mara), Mark Addy (David Philby), Sienna Guillory (Emma), Phyllida Law (Mrs. Watchit), Jeremy Irons (The Über-Morlock), Orlando Jones (Vox 114)

Less a remake and more a complete re-write, relocating the setting from Victorian London to turn of the century New York City where an inventor creates a time machine in the hope of altering events in the past so he can save the woman he loves. When his meddling in the past proves fruitless, he travels 800,000 years into the future on a quest for answers, but receives none, and encounters two tribes of species, one peaceful and the other barbaric.
Though special effects & make up advancements serve the story to deliver better-looking incarnations of the Eloi & Morlocks from the 1960 film, this adaptation is let down by a shockingly dumbed-down narrative, annoying performances and a ridiculous futuristic dialect which sounds like it was ad-libbed on set.
The most disappointing thing of all is that this film was directed by the original author's own grandson, which must at least be considered some form of patricide. At the very least it proves that creative and intellectual genius isn't hereditary.
D: Joel Schumacher
Warner Bros./Monarchy/Regency (Arnon Milchan, Michael Nathanson, Hunt Lowry & John Grisham)
US 1996
149 mins


W: Akiva Goldsman [based on the novel by John Grisham]
DP: Peter Menzies, Jr.
Ed: William Steinkamp
Mus: Elliot Goldenthal
PD: Larry Fulton

Matthew McConaughey (Jake Brigance), Sandra Bullock (Ellen Roark), Samuel L. Jackson (Carl Lee Hailey), Kevin Spacey (Rufus Buckley), Oliver Platt (Harry Vonner), Charles S. Dutton (Ozzie Walls), Brenda Fricker (Ethel Twitty), Kiefer Sutherland (Freddie Lee Cobb)

Amongst the better adaptations of John Grisham's courtroom drama novels, set in a small Mississippi town where a young lawyer defends a black man who murdered the two Ku Klux Klan members who raped his young daughter.
This old fashioned style melodrama could be dubbed the To Kill A Mockinbird of the 1990's, but the truth is that it isn't quite as good as Harper Lee's classic novel. At nearly two-and-a-half hours long, there's many strands of story which could have been left on the cutting room floor for reasons of pacing. The ensemble cast all give their best, with Samuel L. Jackson the standout performer.
"He must unlock a hidden past to survive a deadly future."
"He must unlock a hidden past to survive a deadly future."
D: Avi Nesher
MGM (Raffaella de Laurentiis)
US 1991
96 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Avi Nesher
DP: Anthony Richmond
Ed: Isaac Sehayek
Mus: Patrick Leonard

Michael Biehn (Eddy Kaye), Patsy Kensit (Anna Nolmar), Tracy Scoggins (Blue), Robert Culp (Phillips), Richard Jordan (Col. Taylor)

B-movie update of The Manchurian Candidate, starring Michael Beign as a watchmaker who must prevent an assassination attempt on a politician which triggers a domino effect.
This messy action flick doesn't really deliver anything new and isn't particularly memorable. Michael Biehn does his best with what he has to work with, but the rest of the cast are as convincing as the terrible special effects.
"They killed his wife ten years ago. There's still time to save her."
"They killed his wife ten years ago. There's still time to save her."
D: Peter Hyams
UIP/Largo/JVC/Signature/Renaissance (Moshe Diamant, Sam Raimi & Robert Tapert)
US 1994
98 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Mark Verheiden & Mike Richardson [based on their comic book series]
DP: Peter Hyams
Ed: Steven Kemper
Mus: Mark Isham

Jean Claude Van Damme (Max Walker), Mia Sara (Melissa Walker), Ron Silver (Sen. Aaron McComb), Bruce McGill (Eugene Matuzak), Gloria Reuben (Sarah Fielding)

In a future where time travel is a possibility, a cop whose job is to protect the past discovers that a corrupt politician is manipulating past events in a plot to become president.
Timecop is amongst Jean Claude Van Damme's best movies, helped by a very clever premise which feels like a concept from a Philip K. Dick short story.
It's not quite as good as what it could have been, tailored specifically for the martial arts action star to strut his stuff, but it's certainly not a bad film.
"Golf pro. Love amateur."
"Golf pro. Love amateur."
TIN CUP (15)
D: Ron Shelton
Warner Bros./Monarchy/Regency (Gary Foster & David Lester)
US 1996
135 mins


W: John Norville & Ron Shelton
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: Paul Seydor & Kimberly Ray
Mus: William Ross

Kevin Costner (Roy McAvoy), Rene Russo (Molly Griswold), Cheech Marin (Romeo Posar), Don Johnson (David Simms), Rex Linn (Dewey)

It's unfortunate timing that this film was Kevin Costner's follow up to 1995's dismal Waterworld, which saw the actor unfairly branded box office poison.
Tin Cup isn't just Costner's best film for the best part of the mid-1990's, it's also his best performance, starring as a washed-up golfer turned small time hustler who tries to clean up his act to participate in a major tournament.
Like the best sports films, it doesn't matter if you have no interest in golf or even know how to follow the rules of the game, as it's more a triumph over adversity picture than a film merely about a sport. Ron Shelton brings the same style and humour which he introduced with Bull Durham, with good supporting performances from Rene Russo, Cheech Marin and Don Johnson as a smug rival.
D: Volker Schlöndorff 
Artemis/Hallelujah Argos (Franz Seitz & Anatole Dauman)
West Germany/Poland/France 1979
142 mins


W: Franz Seitz, Volker Schlöndorff, Jean-Claude Carriere & Günter Grass [based on the novel by Günter Grass]
DP: Igor Luther
Ed: Suzanne Baron
Mus: Maurice Jarre

David Bennett (Oskar Matzerath), Angela Winkler (Agnes Matzerath), Mario Adorf (Alfred Matzerath), Daniel Olbrychski (Jan Bronski), Katharina Thalbach (Maria), Charles Aznavour (Sigusmund Markus)

The Tin Drum is an equally intelligent, visceral and disturbing piece of filmmaking, based on a book deemed "unfilmable", and from the subject material it's very easy to see why.
Oskar Matzerath is the omniscient child at the centre of the story who, on his third birthday, becomes fed up with the hypocritical behaviour of the adults who surround him, including his mother who is embarking on an affair with his uncle. He receives a tin drum as a present and decides he doesn't want to grow any older, which he achieves by feigning an accident which stunts his growth.
Forever resembling a child as World War II and the fascist nazi regime begins to emerge around him, he manages his perception of the world around him by banging his own beat on his toy drum and reacting to unwanted authority with a glass-shattering shriek.
The story, full of allegory and metaphor, certainly won't be for everyone, especially in the more disturbing scenes where Oskar embarks on a sexual relationship with a teenage prostitute, which have been (unfairly) compared to child pornography (there's no nudity, but the references are still powerfully difficult to watch).
A genuine oddity of foreign language art-house cinema, featuring an irrational character as the principal focus and main voice of reason during a dark period of human history. 
Though portraying a three year old, David Bennett was actually 12-years-old at the time of production, but still manages to convince on all levels, especially during the scenes where his face is etched in horror at the haunting events that surround him.

"The American dream changes. The people who sell it don't."
"The American dream changes. The people who sell it don't."
TIN MEN (15)
D: Barry Levinson
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners II (Mark Johnson)
US 1987
112 mins


W: Barry Levinson 
DP: Peter Sova
Ed: Stu Linder
Mus: David Steele

Richard Dreyfuss (Bill Babowsky), Danny DeVito (Ernest Tilley), Barbara Hershey (Nora Tilley), John Mahoney (Moe Adams), Jackie Gayle (Sam)

The second film of Barry Levinson's "Baltimore trilogy" starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito as two car salesmen who participate in a series of feuds during the mid-1960's.
This slightly-black comedy is merely enjoyable for the constant dispute  between the two main characters which becomes more bitter as the film goes on, though it isn't as memorable as Levinson's other works, or even the first film in his personal trilogy of films (Diner).
D: Tomas Alfredson
Focus Features/Studio Canal/Karla Films/Paradis/Kinowelt/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner & Robyn Slovo)
UK/France/Germany 2011
127 mins


W: Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan [based on the novel by John le Carré]
DP: Hoyte van Hoytema
Ed: Dino Jonsäter 
Mus: Alberto Iglesias
PD: Maria Djurkovic

Gary Oldman (George Smiley), Colin Firth (Bill Haydon), Tom Hardy (Ricki Tarr), Mark Strong (Jim Prideaux), Ciaran Hinds (Roy Bland), Benedict Cumberbatch (Peter Guilliam), Toby Jones (Sir Percy Alleline), John Hurt (Control)

Those expecting James Bond will be disappointed, while those who've seen a John le Carré adaptation will know how his stories are structured, filling the plot with many characters and back stories before allowing the mystery to unfold. It's just the way he plays his chess.
During the 1970's, MI6 agent George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is brought out of semi-retirement to carry out an investigation after it emerges that a suspected mole is involved in espionage with the enemy.
There's a lot to let sink in, with plenty of herrings thrown in to always keep you guessing, with a lot of serious performances rather than a reliance on gadgets, gizmos and action scenes. The period is captured well, with atmospheric production design, cinematography and music, while the source novel is adapted well considering the books of le Carré are notoriously difficult to ensnare a wide audience. You're either one of Smiley's people or you're not.

"Nothing on earth could come between them."
"Nothing on earth could come between them."
D: James Cameron
20th Century Fox/Lightstorm (James Cameron & Jon Landau)
US 1997
194 mins


W: James Cameron
DP: Russell Carpenter
Ed: James Cameron, Richard A. Harris & Conrad Buff
Mus: James Horner
PD: Peter Lamont
Cos: Deborah L. Scott

Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack Dawson), Kate Winslet (Rose DeWitt Bukater), Billy Zane (Cal Hockley), David Warner (Spicer Lovejoy), Bill Paxton (Brock Lovett), Kathy Bates (Molly Brown), Suzy Amis (Lizzy Calvert), Gloria Stuart (Rose Calvert), Frances Fisher (Ruth DeWitt Bukater), Danny Nucci (Fabrizio DeRossi)

It's little wonder that James Cameron's Titanic, at huge cost to the studio, went on to become the most successful film in box office history. The story taps into every single market audience with it's blend of action, adventure, romance and historical reconstruction.
A team of researchers into the sinking of the Titanic meet face-to-face with one of its survivors, now an old woman, who reminisces into her journey upon the ill-fated voyage as a teenage girl from an aristocratic family, heading to America for a forced marriage, but falling in love with a penniless artist from third-class while upon the luxurious liner.
Though the romance in the story is completely fictional and rather unfeasible, it still became one of the most iconic love stories since Romeo & Juliet which resonated well with the idylls of the female side of audience, but not so much with the male contingent. Still it must be said that there must have been plenty of true stories from the decks of the real-life ship to give a better focal point for James Cameron's script rather than a formulaic romance with far too many cardboard characters and a pair of pantomime villains, but it's not the story which makes the film watchable, but the reconstruction of the disaster itself, when the "unsinkable" ship strikes an iceberg before perishing beneath the waves.
Technically, Titanic is a marvel to behold, with excellent cinematography, faithful production design, lush costumes, cutting edge visual effects and an orchestral score which must be considered amongst the classics, and while the storyline is fundamentally weak, everything else is a mastercraft of majestic filmmaking.
"100 years later... Lightning strikes twice."
"100 years later... Lightning strikes twice."
D: Shane Van Dyke
Asylum (David Michael Latt)
US 2010
90 mins


W: Shane Van Dyke
DP: Alexander Yellen
Ed: Mark Atkins

Shane Van Dyke (Hayden Walsh), Marie Westbrook (Amy Maine), Bruce Davison (Capt. James Maine), Michelle Glavan (Kelly Wade)

A direct-to-DVD piece of trash which only exists to exploit the fans of the 1997 James Cameron movie. 
Made on a shoestring budget, this has nothing to do with Jack, Rose, Molly Brown, or even the Titanic...
A luxury liner, geniusly named Titanic II (yawn) sets off on its maiden voyage 100 years to the day after its namesake, but that pesky iceberg still has something up its sleeve and sends a tsunami to capsize the ship, therefore making this closer to a remake of The Poseidon Adventure (qv), which itself had a tepid remake in 2006.
Written by, directed by and starring the odious Shane Van Dyke (Dick's grandson), the film is so amateurish that it's obvious to see most of it was filmed in hotel corridors and that the Queen Mary is doubling up for the mighty ship. I think there's even a scene where you can make out Queen Mary merchandise.
Personally, I hope Shane Van Dyke bankrupted himself making this trash and doesn't make anymore exploitative crap to boost his own over-inflated ego and give him an excuse to walk arm-in-arm with a group of beautiful ladies. 
Even for Asylum Films, a production company whose output is generally poor, this is beyond terrible. 
Let it sink without trace, and Shane Van Dyke's nepotistic 'career' along with it.