"When the hunters become the hunted."
"When the hunters become the hunted."
D: Wolfgang Petersen
Bavaria Atelier (Gunter Rohrbach)
🇩🇪 1981 (released 1982)
150 mins
W: Wolfgang Petersen [based on the novel by Lothar-Gunther Buchheim]
DP: Jost Vacano
Ed: Hannes Nikel
Mus: Klaus Doldinger
PD: Rolf Zehetbauer
Jurgen Prochnow (Capt.-Lt. Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock), Herbert Gronemeyer (Lt. Werner), Klaus Wennemann (Leitende Fritz Grade), Hubertus Bengsch (1st Lieutenant), Martin Semmelrogge (2nd Lieutenant)
Classic German war film following the crew of a U-boat as they undertake their orders on a suicidal mission, making a potential one-way trip into enemy waters.
The film is incredibly well made with brilliant photography which perfectly captures the claustrophobic, cramped conditions of those on board the submarine.
A full German cast portrays the Nazi soldiers without the usual stereotypes, headed by a strong lead performance by Jurgen Prochnow. 
Even with the knowledge that this is a war film from the point of view of the enemy, it does demonstrate horrors of conflict even if we can't root for the characters to succeed in their mission.

D: Richard Curtis
Universal/Focus/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner & Hilary Bevan-Jones)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇩🇪 🇫🇷 2009
135 mins


W: Richard Curtis
DP: Danny Cohen
Ed: Emma Hickox
PD: Mark Tildesley

Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Count), Bill Nighy (Quentin), Rhys Ifans (Gavin Kavanagh), Nick Frost ('Doctor' Dave), Kenneth Branagh (Sir Alistair Dormandy), Tom Sturridge (Carl), Rhys Darby (Angus 'The Nut' Nutsford), Chris O'Dowd ('Simple' Simon Swafford), Gemma Arterton (Desiree), January Jones (Elenore), Emma Thompson (Charlotte)

The misadventures of a group of DJ's on board a ship in the North Sea broadcasting a pirate radio station.  
Meanwhile, politican Kenneth Branagh proposes a plan to control the airwaves and close down the station.
A feelgood comedy from Richard Curtis with some great music from 60's and a handful of good performances, Bill Nighy stealing the show as the station director and ship's captain. 
It's not the writer's best work but, in my humble opinion, it's a helluva load better than his previous directorial effort (Love Actually).

BOBBY (15)
D: Emilio Estevez
MGM/The Weinstein Company (Michel Litvak, Edward Bass & Holly Wiersma)
🇺🇸 2006
120 mins


W: Emilio Estevez
DP: Michael Barrett
Ed: Richard Chew
Mus: Mark Isham
PD: Patti Podesta
Cos: Julie Weiss

Harry Belafonte (Nelson), Emilio Estevez (Tim Fallon), Laurence Fishburne (Edward Robinson), Heather Graham (Angela), Anthony Hopkins (John Casey), Helen Hunt (Samantha), Ashton Kutcher (Fisher), Shia LaBeouf (Cooper), Lindsey Lohan (Diane Howser), William H. Macy (Paul Ebbers), Demi Moore (Virginia Fallon), Martin Sheen (Jack), Sharon Stone (Miriam Ebbers), Elijah Wood (William Avary)

A vignette of soap opera style stories set at a hotel in the build up to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, starring an enormous cast of some rather big names, and multiple stories unfold over the course of a day.
The separate stories don't really interlink as well as similar films (Crash, Short Cuts, etc) and the first hour drags quite heavily, but it builds up to a powerful climax with clever editing in which real life footage blends perfectly with the fictional stories.
The acting performances range from good to Ashton Kutcher, who practically plays himself as a stoner junkie.  
A real surprise was Lindsey Lohan, who delivers a pretty good performance as a newlywed.
Emilio Estevez shows some good credentials as a writer-director, but the film doesn't really say anything new about RFK's assassination and the motives behind assassin Sirhan Sirhan's actions are not looked at all in any sort of depth.

"You can't believe everything you see."
"You can't believe everything you see."
D: Brian de Palma
Columbia/Delphi (Brian de Palma)
🇺🇸 1984
114 mins
W: Robert J. Avrech & Brian de Palma
DP: Stephen H. Burum
Ed: Jerry Greenberg & Bill Pankow
Mus: Pino Donaggio
PD: Ida Random
Craig Wasson (Jake Scully), Gregg Henry (Sam Bouchard), Melanie Griffith (Holly Body), Deborah Shelton (Gloria Revelle), Guy Boyd (Det. Jim McLean), Dennis Franz (Rubin)
Brian de Palma's version of Hitchcock's Rear Window which might as well have been made as a softcore porn film, with Craig Wasson as an out-of-work actor and occasional voyeur who witnesses his neighbour being murdered.
This thriller begins interestingly enough but then just becomes cheap and sordid as it abruptly enters the world of pornography. The inclusion of a music video for a Frankie Goes To Hollywood song halfway through the movie is simply baffling, coming completely out of nowhere like a punch to the head. Melanie Griffith is the standout of the cast in a limited role, while Craig Wasson lacks the acting skills to give a credible or convincing performance. 

"She taught him everything she knew - about passion and murder."
"She taught him everything she knew - about passion and murder."
D: Lawrence Kasdan
Warner Bros/Ladd (Fred T. Gallo)
🇺🇸 1981
113 mins


W: Lawrence Kasdan
DP: Richard H. Kline
Ed: Carol Littleton
Mus: John Barry

William Hurt (Ned Racine), Kathleen Turner (Matty Tyler Walker), Richard Crenna (Edmund Walker), Ted Danson (Peter Lowenstein), Mickey Rourke (Teddy Lewis)

The Basic Instinct (qv) of the 1980's, this sexed-up Double Indemnity provided the breakthrough role of Kathleen Turner, who smoulders onto the screen with an excellent debut performance.
Set in Florida during a scorching heatwave, a seedy attorney embarks on a sexually-fuelled affair with a married woman, who seduces and manipulates him into murdering her husband, so she can inherit his wealth.
The film also provided a directorial breakthrough for Lawrence Kasdan, who also penned the script, but it's Kathleen Turner who deserves all the plaudits here, with one of the sexiest screen performances of all time.
Likely to be appreciated most by fans of 1940's film noir.

"An act of love or an act of murder."
"An act of love or an act of murder."
D: Uli Edel
MGM/DEG (Dino de Laurentiis & Martha de Laurentiis)
🇺🇸 1992
101 mins
W: Brad Mirman
DP: Douglas Milsome
Ed: Thom Noble
Mus: Graeme Revell
Madonna (Rebecca Carlson), Willem Dafoe (Frank Dulaney), Joe Mantegna (Robert Garrett), Anne Archer (Joanne Braslow), Jürgen Prochnow (Dr. Alan Payley), Julianne Moore (Sharon Dulaney), Frank Langella (Jeffrey Roston)
Pathetic attempt to cash-in on the success of Basic Instinct with this risible thriller which has practically the exact same plot, only this time it's Madonna's dominatrix main suspect in a murder investigation fucking her attorney Willem Dafoe following the death of her previous lover in a kinky sex act. Naughty.
The performances are quite laughable and the sex scenes are just stupid. Madonna doesn't have a bad pair of tits though, a shame about the acting.
D: Ridley Scott
Warner Bros./Scott Free (Ridley Scott & Donald DeLine)
🇺🇸 2008
128 mins


W: William Monahan [based on the novel by David Ignatius]
DP: Alexander Witt
Ed: Pietro Scalia
Mus: Marc Streitenfeld 
PD: Arthur Max

Leonardo DiCaprio (Roger Ferris), Russell Crowe (Ed Hoffman), Mark Strong (Hani Salaam), Golshifteh Farahani (Aisha), Oscar Isaac (Bassam)

A rather heavy-going political thriller with a few similarities to 2005's Syriana (qv).
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a CIA agent undercover in the Middle East, gathering intelligence on an Al-Qaida terrorist network, negotiating and double crossing with both the Jordanian security service and his CIA superior (a very snaky Russell Crowe).
There's quite a lot to take in during the early stages of this movie and there's some well staged action scenes.
Good performances from DiCaprio, Crowe and the rest of the cast, but I wouldn't really list this amongst Ridley Scott's best movies. It's certainly not as memorable as much of his other work.

D: Michael Cristofer
New Line (Jennifer Keohane & Harry Colomby)
🇺🇸 1999
106 mins
W: David McKenna
DP: Rodrigo Garcia
Ed: Eric Sears
Mus: Mark Isham
Sean Patrick Flannery (Rick Hamilton), Jerry O'Connell (Michael Penorisi), Amanda Peet (Jane Bannister), Tara Reid (Sara Olswang), Ron Livingston (Trent)
Unpleasant drama about unpleasant people and their lives of casual sex. The film distastefully starts as a comedy before centring on a plot of whether Jerry O'Connell's character rapes Tara Reid's or not, shown from varying points of view.
It's almost impossible to care because both characters are just so unlikeable, and the supporting characters aren't particularly pleasant either.

D: Abel Ferrara
Warner Bros. (Robert H. Solo)
🇺🇸 1993
90 mins
Science Fiction
W: Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli & Nicholas St. John [based on the novel 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' by Jack Kinney]
DP: Bojan Bazelli
Ed: Anthony Redman
Mus: Joe Delia
Gabrielle Anwar (Marti Malone), Terry Kinney (Steve Malone), Billy Wirth (Tim Young), Meg Tilly (Carol Malone), R. Lee Ermey (Gen. Platt), Forest Whitaker (Maj. Collins)
Pointless 1990's remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatcher (surprisingly produced by the same person responsible for the superior 1978 version). 
This time the action is set wholly on an Alabama military base and appears to be marketed solely towards a teenage audience. The performances can't be faulted but it lacks the thrills and suspense which made the previous versions interesting to watch. It also seems a regression that the second remake of Jack Kinney's novel would limit the action to a single location after the previous film was set in the municipality of San Francisco.
Unsurprisingly it went straight to video in the UK.
"Never let her out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love."
"Never let her out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love."
D: Lawrence Kasdan
Warner Bros./Tig (Lawrence Kasdan, Kevin Costner & Jim Wilson)
🇺🇸 1992
129 mins
W: Lawrence Kasdan
DP: Andrew Dunn
Ed: Richard A. Harris
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Jeffrey Beecroft
Kevin Costner (Frank Farmer), Whitney Houston (Rachel Marron), Gary Kemp (Sy Spector), Bill Cobbs (Devaney), Ralph Waite (Herb Farmer), Tomas Arana (Portman), Michele Lamar Richards (Nicki), Mike Starr (Tony)
An ex-CIA agent is hired as a bodyguard by a pop singer who has received death threats. He demonstrates how terrible he is at his job by doing the only thing he is forbidden to do, embarking on a romantic relationship with her. An action which left women in the audiences swooning whilst men reached for the sick bucket.
Honestly ladies, imagine a very unattractive actor in the lead role in this and you'll realise how ridiculous it all is. Also, Whitney Houston is an absolutely terrible actress.
The soundtrack is pretty decent and sold a shedload of copies, but it really is a rather awful film. Critic-proof though it is, and it was amongst the biggest films of 1992 and inspired a stage musical production.


D: Bryan Singer (& Dexter Fletcher)

20th Century Fox/New Regency/GK/Queen Films (Graham King & Jim Beach)

🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2018

134 mins


W: Anthony McCarten & Peter Morgan

DP: Newton Thomas Sigel

Ed: John Ottman

Mus: John Ottman; Queen

PD: Aaron Haye

Cos: Julian Day

Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury), Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), Joseph Mazzello (John Deacon), Lucy Boynton (Mary Austin), Aiden Gillen (John Reid), Allen Leach (Paul Prenter), Aaron McCusker (Jim Hutton), Mike Myers (Ray Foster)

Like the classic song Bohemian Rhapsody, which combines several styles, genres and musical directions into its composition, the same could be said about this biographical film of Queen and its enigmatic frontman, Freddie Mercury. It simply can't decide what type of movie it wishes to be, charting the bands success (from Mercury's point of view) from their formation in 1970's until their show-stopping performance at 1985's Live Aid.

I should prelude this review by saying I'm a huge fan of Queen and their music, and although I was a little too young to appreciate their appearance at Live Aid, Freddie Mercury's death in 1991 was huge news. Groundbreaking in the fact that he was the first high profile celebrity who had succumbed to AIDS-related illness.

Unfortunately, the film doesn't really tackle this, as it plays out a pastiche of the band's greatest hits, without digging its nails in and uncovering anything particularly candid.

The remaining band members served as consultants on the movie, and its a little too obvious that they were reluctant for anything negative to be committed to a film which charts their rise to success, beset by a minor blip when Mercury recorded a solo album in the mid-1980's.

The story also takes advantage of artistic licence, though this shouldn't be an excuse for a lack of research, anachronisms and some heavy-handed in-jokes which practically break the fourth wall (Mike Myers' may as well have winked at the camera with his cringeworthy cameo role). The film was plagued with production difficulties (director Bryan Singer sacked before completion, etc.), but this doesn't really come across in the final cut - although it does feel like too many cooks spoiling the broth.

The film does have many positives though. The main one being the cast, who physically resemble the band at every point of the movie, none more so than Rami Malek who is absolutely fantastic as Freddie Mercury, nailing the showman's actions, mannerisms, quirks and speaking voice (all the singing was obviously lip-synced, but this was still done incredibly well). In fact, it's a performance which does deserve Oscar consideration, despite the flaws of the film and its screenplay. Lucy Boynton also deserves some praise as Mary Austin, Mercury's girlfriend before he came to terms with his true sexuality. It's unfortunate she wasn't given more to work with and a key scene for potential drama fizzled out (I can't say either way whether this scene was true to life, but since much of the rest of the film was dramatised, why couldn't this scene be?)

Mercury's relationship with Jim Hutton is only explored on the periphery before the film culminates in a truly impressive fashion, and I have to admit that the recreation of the Live Aid scenes are worth the price of admission alone. The execution, performances and filmmaking trickery for the reenactment are easily amongst the film highlights of 2018 and make all the flaws in the buildup beforehand quite forgivable.

Still, there was an opportunity here, especially with such a great cast, to make a masterpiece worthy for such an iconic band. It's what Freddie Mercury deserved, and from that point of view, it is just that little bit disappointing.

Still, the final act will definitely rock you - and could potentially introduce an entire new generation to one of the greatest musical acts of all time.


"An adventure in ecstasy."
"An adventure in ecstasy."
D: John Derek
Cannon/City (Bo Derek)
🇺🇸 1984
104 mins
W: John Derek
DP: John Derek
Ed: John Derek
Mus: Peter Bernstein
Bo Derek (Ayre 'Mac' McGillvary), George Kennedy (Cotton), Andrea Occhipinti (Rejoneador Angel Sacristan), Ana Obregon (Catalina), Olivia D'Abo (Paloma)
Ridiculous erotic tale about a young woman who travels the globe in the 1920's trying to find the ideal man worthy to sacrifice her virginity to. 
Considering this smut was directed, written, photographed and edited by the main star's husband, it's nothing but a personal project for them. The production values resemble the quality of cheap porn and trying to imagine Bo Derek as an innocent young girl is an impossibility. 
Had this been an honest piece of pornography, it could easily be bypassed on radar without causing offence, but the attempt to pass itself off as an actual film is an insult to celluloid.
D: Chris Williams & Byron Howard
Disney (Clark Spencer)
🇺🇸 2008
87 mins
W: Dan Fogleman & Chris Williams
Mus: John Powell
voices of: John Travolta (Bolt), Miley Cyrus (Penny), Susie Essman (Mittens), Mark Walton (Rhino), Malcolm McDowell (Dr. Calico)
A well animated but ultimately forgettable film from Disney about a delirious dog who plays a superhero in a TV show and thinking his powers exist in real life.
Young kids will find this enjoyable, but the standard is well below the studio's usual output. 
D: Phillip Noyce
Universal/Columbia (Martin Bregman, Louis A. Stroller & Michael Bregman)
🇺🇸 1999
118 mins
W: Jeremy Iacone [based on the novel by Jeffrey Deaver]
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: William Hoy
Mus: Craig Armstrong
Denzel Washington (Lincoln Rhyme), Angelina Jolie (Amelia Donaghy), Queen Latifah (Thelma), Michael Rooker (Capt. Howard Cheney), Mike McGlone (Detective Kenny Solomon), Leland Orser (Richard Thompson), Luis Guzman (Eddie Ortiz)
A bed-ridden former forensic expert, Lincoln Rhyme (only in Hollywood), assists a rookie cop in solving a host of macabre murders by a serial killer, each of which more elaborate than the last.
In the wake of films like Seven, this is a generally decent thriller until it is revealed that these intricate crimes have been perpetrated by a complete and utter moron. A total anticlimax.


D: S. Craig Zahler

RLJ/Caliber Media (Jack Heller & Dallas Sonnier)

🇺🇸 2015

132 mins


W: S. Craig Zahler

DP: Benji Bakshi

Ed: Greg D'Auria & Fred Raksin

Mus: Jeff Herriott

Kurt Russell (Sheriff Franklin Hunt), Patrick Wilson (Arthur O'Dwyer), Lili Simmons (Samantha O'Dwyer), Richard Jenkins (Deputy 'Chicory' Kory), Matthew Fox (John Brooder), David Arquette (Purvis)

Incredibly grizzly western starring Kurt Russell as a small town sheriff who assembles a search party after some of his townsfolk have been abducted by a local tribe of vicious Native Americans. 

Debutante writer-director S. Craig Zahler doesn't shy away from violence which borders on sadistic with this western spin on The Most Dangerous Game, in which one-by-one the members of the group are murdered by the clan.

You'll know what you're in for with the opening scene with this one, as a graphic murder takes place in the great frontier, and if you're easy to make feel queasy, it's probably wise not to continue watching.

For everyone else, it's taut, gripping and incredibly well directed, making good use of sound editing to crank up the tension further.

A solid debut, bringing a new brand of style to a rather dormant genre.


D: Arthur Penn
Warner Bros./Tatira-Hill (Warren Beatty)
🇺🇸 1967
111 mins
W: David Newman & Robert Benton
DP: Burnett Guffey
Ed: Dede Allen
Mus: Charles Strouse
PD: Dean Tavoularis
Cos: Theadora Van Runkle
Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow), Faye Dunaway (Bonnie Parker), Michael J. Pollard (C. W. Moss), Gene Hackman (Buck Barrow), Estelle Parsons (Blanche), Denver Pyle (Frank Hamer), Dub Taylor (Ivan Moss), Gene Wilder (Eugene Grizzard)
A romanticised biopic of the most infamous and notorious criminal partnerships of the 20th century, almost glorifying the duo as Robin Hood-types and omits certain characteristics (Clyde's homosexual tendencies, for example) but keeps the bare bones of the pair and their gang's misdeeds reasonably faithful.
All the performances are excellent (Beatty, Dunaway & Pollard have rarely been better) and Arthur Penn inventively directs, mixing the styles of a 1930's crime picture with comic slapstick of the same era (but in a tasteful way).
Critically mailed on it's original release for gratuitous violence (pale in comparison to today's standard), the movie remains an important and influencial piece of American cinema.

D: Paul Thomas Anderson
New Line (Lloyd Levin, Paul Thomas Anderson, John Lyons & Joanne Sellar)                 
🇺🇸 1997
156 mins


W: Paul Thomas Anderson 
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Toby Emmerich
PD: Bob Ziembicki
Cos: Mark Bridges

Mark Wahlberg (Eddie Adams / Dirk Diggler), Burt Reynolds (Jack Horner), Julianne Moore (Maggie / Amber Waves), John C. Reilly (Reed Rothschild), Don Cheadle (Buck Swope), Heather Graham (Brandy / Rollergirl), Luis Guzman (Maurice Rodriguez), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Scotty J), William H. Macy ('Little' Bill Thompson), Alfred Molina (Rahad Jackson), Philip Baker Hall (Floyd Gondolli)

Ensemble piece about the dying days of the 1970's pornography industry as long as Mark Wahlberg's wonder-schlong, he plays well-endowed pornographic actor Dirk Diggler on a rise to fame and fortune from a lowly busboy and then the fall following addiction to drugs, tinkerings with crime and the general decline of the pornographic film industry following the medium's transition from specialist theatres to home video.
The supporting characters are every bit as interesting as the main story, with Burt Reynold's delivering one of his best ever performances as producer/director Jack Horner, trying desperately to keep the market alive. Heather Graham as young 'Rollergirl', who gave up her high school education for the trade and Julianne Moore, excellent as an actress who is in an emotional custody battle for her son.
At 156 minutes, it's a stretch, but there's not much which could have been left on the cutting room floor. On DVD release, avoid the cropped version and ensure you're watching in the intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio (it's actually essential).

"Never leave things undone."
"Never leave things undone."


D: Colin Trevorrow

Focus Features/Double Nickel (Sidney Kimmel, Jenette Kahn & Adam Richman)

🇺🇸 2017

105 mins


W: Gregg Hurwitz

DP: John Schwartzman

Ed: Kevin Stitt

Mus: Michael Giacchino

Naomi Watts (Susan Carpenter), Jaeden Lieberher (Henry Carpenter), Jacob Tremblay (Peter Carpenter), Maddie Ziegler (Christina Sickleman), Dean Norris (Glenn Sickleman), Sarah Silverman (Sheila)

Preposterous would be a good word to describe this maudlin and manipulative drama, starring Naomi Watts as a single mother to two boys, the oldest of which is precocious 11-year-old Henry, who does the family finances and knows big words like Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. He demonstrates his knowledge at any given opportunity in the opening act, whilst his mother fucks about on her PlayStation and shows no maternal qualities whatsoever.

It's soon discovered that Henry has a brain tumour and he subsequently dies, leaving behind a diary where he details witnessing the police commissioner next door molesting his young daughter, as well as plan for Watts to take him out sniper-style.

The plot really is truly ludicrous, not helped by Naomi Watts sleepwalking through the role. Amongst the worst films of 2017 and certainly one of the stupidest.


D: Joe Berlinger
Momentum/Artisan/Haxan (Bill Carraro)
🇺🇸 2000
90 mins
W: Dick Beebe & Joe Berlinger
DP: Nancy Schreiber
Ed: Sarah Flack
Mus: Carter Burwell
Kim Director (Kim Diamond), Jeffrey Donovan (Jeffrey Patterson), Erica Leerhsen (Erica Geersom), Tristen Skyler (Tristan Ryler), Stephen Turner (Stephen Ryan Parker)
Pointless sequel to capitalise on the success of The Blair Witch Project (qv) a few years earlier.
It's practically the same story but without the 'found footage/documentary style' angle which the original film built its marketing around. 
Terrible, lazy filmmaking. A quick cash-grab and nothing more. 

D: Larry Charles
20th Century Fox (Sacha Baron Cohen & Jay Roach)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2006
84 mins


W: Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Anthony Hines & Dan Mazer [based on the TV character created by Sacha Baron Cohen]
DP: Anthony Hardwick & Luke Geissbuhler
Ed: Peter Teschner & James Thomas
Mus: Erran Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Sagdiyev), Ken Davitian (Azamat Bagatov), Pamela Anderson (herself)

Based on the character made famous on Channel 4's Da Ali G Show, Borat is a fictional Kazakh TV presenter and journalist who travels America as a somewhat naïve foreigner, interviewing various people on subjects varying from evangelistical Christianism to feminism, etiquette, politics, religion and homophobia, provoking a series of embarrassing reactions from those not in on the joke.
The film has been heavily criticised in Kazakhstan for making fun of it's people, but it made an absolute fortune for writer/producer/star Sacha Baron Cohen. 
It is very funny, but almost xenophobic with its stereotypes and incredibly politically incorrect with its humour. Great comedy always comes at the expense of offending someone though. 
"Some stars shine forever."
"Some stars shine forever."


D: Janus Metz Pedersen

Nordisk/SF Studios (Jon Norstedt & Fredrik Wikström Nicastro)

🇸🇪 2017

100 mins


W: Ronnie Sandahl

DP: Niels Thastum

Ed: Per Sandholt & Per Kirkegaard

Mus: Vladislav Delay & Jon Ekstrand

Svirrir Gudnason (Björn Borg), Shia LeBeouf (John McEnroe), Stella Skarsgård (Lennart Bergelin), Tuva Novotny (Mariana Simionescu), Leo Borg (Young Björn)

Even those unfamiliar with tennis are sure to know the names of two of the sports biggest stars, Björn Borg and John McEnroe. 

This biographical film focuses on both men as they compete through the 1980 Wimbledon tournament.

Björn, the people's favourite, eyeing his fifth consecutive title is a player of little emotion, letting his athleticism and execution do the talking, whilst John McEnroe, a brash New Yorker is the polar opposite, a petulant player not afraid to throw a tantrum when decisions don't go his way.

As they progress through the competition, flashbacks detail their respective childhoods and training to get to the top of their game, ultimately revealing that the two men are not so unalike at all. 

Like most biographical pictures, there is much dramatisation for the sake of tension in the story, but the performances of the two leads are excellent (especially Shia LaBeouf with an uncanny portrayal of John McEnroe). It was also a stroke of genius casting Björn Borg's own son as his younger self, and the editing of actual footage into the film is quite seamlessly done.

It may not be one which you'll rush to watch at cinemas, but it's certainly worth watching. Personally, I'm rather disappointed that I'm not old enough to have seen the 1980 final, considered by many to be sport's all time classic.


"A true story of innocence lost and courage found."
"A true story of innocence lost and courage found."
D: Oliver Stone
UIP/Ixtlan (Oliver Stone & A. Kitman Ho)
🇺🇸 1989
140 mins
W: Oliver Stone & Ron Kovic [based on the autobiography by Ron Kovic]
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: David Brenner & Joe Hutshing
Mus: John Williams
PD: Bruno Rubeo
Cos: Judy Ruskin
Tom Cruise (Ron Kovic), Raymond J. Barry (Mr. Kovic), Caroline Kava (Mrs. Kovic), Josh Evans (Tommy Kovic), Kyra Sedgwick (Donna), Willem Dafoe (Charlie), Bryan Larkin (Young Ron)
The second film of Oliver Stone's 'Vietnam Trilogy', a biopic of Ron Kovic, a patriotic, all-American kid who felt compelled to join in the conflict when he was drafted at a young & impressionable age.
Left paralysed from the waist down following a skirmish, Ron returned home to an America which felt very differently about the war from how they did before he went to fight. Felt let down by his country, Ron went on to become an anti-war campaigner.
Tom Cruise gives a scintillating performance as Kovic, changing over the years as Ron's personality did. From red, white & blue, baseball-loving, church-going, apple-pie-eating kid to a bitter & hateful Vietnam vet, ostracised by everyone, including his own devoutly Catholic family following an alcohol-fuelled rage.
Whilst not as hard-hitting as Stone's previous war film Platoon, the film still carries huge importance, as well as delivering a strong political message, though some may feel that it will carry a lot more weight on the American side of the Atlantic.

D: Peter Hewitt
Polygram/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner & Rachel Talalay)
🇬🇧 1997
83 mins


W: Gavin Scott & John Camps [based on the books by Mary Norton]
DP: John Fenner & Trevor Brooker
Ed: David Freeman
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams
PD: Gemma Jackson

John Goodman (Ocious P. Potter), Jim Broadbent (Pod Clock), Hugh Laurie (Officer Oliver Steady), Bradley Pierce (Pete Lender), Flora Newbigin (Arrietty Clock), Tom Felton (Peagreen Clock), Celia Imrie (Homily Clock)

Fun kids film about a family of tiny people who live under the floorboards of a house and their mini-war with the unlikeable lawyer resident who's trying to exterminate them.
The children's books are adapted to the big screen quite well, with some good visual effects to add to the adventure and comedy.
An entertaining family flick.

"Born leader."
"Born leader."


D: Tom McGrath

20th Century Fox/Dreamworks (Ramsey Ann Naito)

🇺🇸 2017

97 mins


W: Michael McCullers [based on the books by Marla Frazee]

Mus: Hans Zimmer & Steve Mazzaro

voices of: Alec Baldwin (Theodore Lindsey Templeton (aka The Boss Baby)), Miles Bakshi (Timothy Leslie Templeton), Tobey Maguire (Older Tim), Steve Buscemi (Francis E. Francis), Jimmy Kimmel (Ted Templeton), Lisa Kudrow (Janice Templeton)

Many film fans were incandescent with rage when this film was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar ahead of The Lego Batman Movie, but the truth is The Boss Baby really isn't a bad film at all. In fact, it's perfectly fine for all-round family entertainment. 

The story starts with Tim, a 7-year-old boy with an exuberant imagination, who finds out that he's soon to have a baby brother. Within the following days, a baby in a business suit comes into his home and is gaining all the attention from the parents, much to Tim's annoyance.  Tim soon discovers that his new brother can talk and is arranging business meetings with other neighbourhood babies, brainstorming a plan to put a local pets company named Puppy Co. out of business so people continue to find babies cuter than puppies.

The two brothers soon unite so the plan takes effect and people keep making babies.

For young kids, this will be a very enjoyable film, with a high standard of computer animation you'd expect from Dreamworks studios. There are some clever in-jokes for adults, such as references to Alec Baldwin's yuppie character in Glengarry Glen Ross. 

Perhaps it should make it clearer that the entire story is taking place in Tim's imagination, but it does have good morals about the importance of family, fraternal relationships and teamwork.

A sequel is highly likely.


D: Richard Fleischer
20th Century Fox (Robert Fryer)
🇺🇸 1968
118 mins
W: Edward Anhalt [based on the novel by Gerald Frank]
DP: Richard H. Kline
Ed: Marion Rothman
Mus: Lionel Newman
Henry Fonda (John S. Bottomly), Tony Curtis (Albert DeSalvo), George Kennedy (Det. Phil DiNatale), Mike Kellin (Julian Shoshnick), Hurd Hatfield (Terence Huntley), Murray Hamilton (Sgt. Frank McAfee), Sally Kellerman (Dianne Cluny)
Semi-factual account of Albert DeSalvo, a serial killer and sex pest who preyed on the women of Boston, Massachusetts during the 1960's.
Tony Curtis gives a very good performance, almost unrecognisable under the guise of makeup.

D: Wes Anderson
Columbia/Gracie Films (Polly Platt & Cynthia Hargrave)
🇺🇸 1996
95 mins


W: Owen Wilson & Wes Anderson
DP: Robert Yeoman
Ed: David Moritz
Mus: Mark Mothersbaugh
PD: David Wasco

Luke Wilson (Anthony Adams), Owen Wilson (Dignan), Robert Musgrave (Bob Mapplethorpe), Andrew Wilson (Jon Mapplethorpe), Lumi Cavazos (Inez), James Caan (Mr. Abe Henry)

Wes Anderson movies have a trademark quirky style and zany characters, usually amassing a cult following, his films include The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and Moonrise Kingdom.
He made his directorial debut with this idiosyncratic story of three guys who decide to pull off a heist in order to heal and repair their separating friendships.
It's a promising debut from writer/director Wes Anderson, but he most certainly went on to bigger and better things.

D: Claude Chabrol
La Boétie/Euro International (André Génoves)     
🇫🇷 🇮🇹 1970
94 mins
W: Claude Chabrol
DP: Jean Rabier
Ed: Jacques Gaillard
Mus: Pierre Jansen
Stephane Audran (Helene Daville), Jean Yanne (Paul Thomas), Antonio Passalia (Angelo), Mario Beccaria (Leon Hamel)
Supposedly a French classic, this movie was sold to me on the premise of it being a thriller. It isn't.
A working class butcher develops an obsessive relationship with a school teacher in a small French village where a serial killer is murdering young women.
It tries to be Hitchcockian but it's very much a drama about sexual frustration. Not to say it isn't a good film, I just expected something very much different. I personally much prefer the work of Henri-Georges Clouzet from around the same period of French cinema.

"For money. For murder. For each other."
"For money. For murder. For each other."
BOUND (18)
D: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Guild/DEG/Summit/Newmarket (Andrew Lazar & Stuart Boros)
🇺🇸 1996
108 mins
W: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Zach Staenberg
Mus: Don Davis
Jennifer Tilly (Violet), Gina Gershon (Corky), Joe Pantoliano (Caesar), John P. Ryan (Mickey Malnato), Christopher Meloni (Johnnie Marzzone), Richard Sarafian (Gino Marzzone), Barry Kivel (Shelly)
Two lesbians betray a gangster, the former lover of one of them, and try to flee town with his millions.
This pre-Matrix thriller from The Wachowski Brothers ranks amongst their best work. Well written & brilliantly acted.  It almost comes off looking like a Coen Brothers movie.
It's a little bit of a shame that the filmmakers became a little too obsessed with the science fiction genre following this promising debut.

D: Doug Liman
Universal/Kennedy/Marshall (Richard N. Gladstein, Patrick Crowley & Doug Liman)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2002
114 mins


W: Tony Gilroy & William Blake Herron [based on the novel by Robert Ludlum]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Saar Klein
Mus: John Powell
PD: Dan Weil

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Franka Potente (Marie Kreutz), Chris Cooper (Ted Conklin), Clive Owen (The Professor), Brian Cox (Ward Abbott), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Nykwana Wombosi), Julia Stiles (Nicolette)

Move aside 007! This is James Bond for the new millennium!
Jason Bourne is plucked out of the North Atlantic by a fishing boat. He regains consciousness but is suffering from amnesia, his only clue of who he is and where he's from is a code for a bank security box embedded in his arm.  With the help of Marie, a German tourist, he travels to Paris and discovers he is a secret government assassin, targeted for assassination himself and turns the tables on his authorities.
Matt Damon is brilliant as the man with a past he can't remember and Franka Potente also deserves plaudits as his only ally and love interest. Doug Liman directs in a low-key, thrilling manner for the most part with injections of high octane action for the set pieces. Followed by The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

"They stole his identity. Now he wants it back."
"They stole his identity. Now he wants it back."
D: Paul Greengrass
Universal/Kennedy/Marshall (Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley & Paul L. Sandberg)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2004
104 mins
W: Tony Gilroy [based on the novel by Robert Ludlum]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Christopher Rouse & Richard Pearson
Mus: John Powell
PD: Dominic Watkins
Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Franka Potente (Marie Helene Kreutz), Brian Cox (Ward Abbott), Julia Stiles (Nicolette Parsons), Joan Allen (Pamela Landy), Karl Urban (Kirill)
The spy genre takes another step into the 21st century with this fine sequel to The Bourne Identity.
Jason Bourne and Marie (Franka Potente) have seemingly settled down at a beachside location, but when Bourne is framed for the murder of two informants he finds himself a target from both the American and Russian governments and fights to prove his innocence in a deadly game of cat & mouse, culminating in a thrilling car chase on the snowy streets of Moscow.
Though not as well-rounded a film as The Bourne Identity, it's still a pulsating thriller with some memorable set pieces and necessarily ice-cold performances from both Matt Damon & Russian bad guy Karl Urban. Keep your Martini's Mr. Bond, this cocktail is far more exciting!
D: Paul Greengrass
Universal/Kennedy/Marshall (Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley & Paul L. Sandberg)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2007
110 mins


W: Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns & George Nolfi [based on the novel by Robert Ludlum]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Christopher Rouse
Mus: John Powell
PD: Peter Wenham

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne / David Webb), Julia Stiles (Nicolette Parsons), David Strathairn (Noah Vosen), Scott Glenn (Ezra Kramer), Paddy Considine (Simon Ross), Edgar Ramirez (Paz), Albert Finney (Dr. Albert Hirsch), Joan Allen (Pamela Landy)

Following the more sombre events of The Bourne Supremacy and the revenge against the Russian government that made him a target for assassination, Jason Bourne delves even deeper into his background and becomes determined to discover his true identity, leading him into a labrynthine system which he is compelled to take apart.
Arguably the best of the Bourne trilogy, with two particular pulsating set pieces; the first being a game of cat & mouse at Waterloo Station and the second a fight over the rooftops of Tangier, both enhanced by sharp editing and brilliant action choreography.
Step aside 007, there's a new action hero in town.

D: Tony Gilroy
Universal/Kennedy-Marshall/Relativity (Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Jeffrey M. Weiner & Ben Smith)
🇺🇸 2012
135 mins


W: Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy [based on characters created by Robert Ludlum]
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: John Gilroy
Mus: James Newton Howard

Jeremy Renner (Aaron Cross / PFC Kenneth Kitsom), Rachel Weisz (Dr. Marta Shearing), Edward Norton (Col. Eric Byer), Joan Allen (Pamela Landy), Scott Glenn (Ezra Kramer), Stacy Keach (Adm. Mark Turso), Albert Finney (Dr. Albert Hirsch)

I thought this was okay, but it would have been much better if it didn't feel like it was crammed in with the original Bourne trilogy, it really didn't need to be and Jeremy Renner lacks the character which Matt Damon had to make the first three movies so interesting.  
The story behind The Bourne Legacy expands on the stories in the Matt Damon movies, with government branch Treadstone creating a series of 'supersoldiers' who turn the tables on them.
As a standalone film, it's a decent conspiracy thriller with some good action set pieces, but it feels more like a cash-in on the original trilogy rather than a spinoff sequel taking the story into a different direction.

"The con is on."
"The con is on."
D: Frank Oz
Universal/Imagine (Brian Grazer)
🇺🇸 1999
97 mins
W: Frank Oz
DP: Ueli Steiger
Ed: Richard Pearson
Mus: David Newman
PD: Jackson DeGovia
Steve Martin (Bobby Bowfinger), Eddie Murphy (Kit Ramsay/Jiff), Heather Graham (Daisy), Christine Baranski (Carol), Jamie Kennedy (Dave), Adam Alexi-Malle (Afrim), Kohl Sudduth (Slater), Barry Newman (Kit's Agent), Robert Downey, Jr. (Jerry Renfro), Terence Stamp (Terry Stricter)
Steve Martin plays charlatan film producer/director Bobby Bowfinger who feels he has a hit on his hands with a science fiction     script called Chubby Rain, but the only way he'll get distribution is if he manages to get A-list superstar Kit Ramsay (Murphy) in the lead role.
Kit, a paranoid member of a strange cult, refuses to star, so Bowfinger makes the film without his knowledge, staging actors to speak their lines and catching his reaction on camera, as well as using a double who looks just like a geeky-version of Ramsay for other scenes, such as a chase over a busy freeway during rush hour.
For the most part, Bowfinger is an incredibly funny comedy with a bit of a cynical dig at Hollywood and filmmaking, with Steve Martin & Eddie Murphy delivering their funniest performances for many a moon.
It's a shame that the ending is a complete cop-out, with Chubby Rain proving to be a box office success. The movie within the movie was absolutely atrocious!

D: Michael Moore
Alliance Atlantis/Dog Eat Dog/Salter Street (Michael Moore, Kathleen Glynn, Jim Czarnecki, Charles Bishop & Michael Donovan)
🇨🇦 🇩🇪 🇺🇸 2002
120 mins
W: Michael Moore
DP: Brian Danitz & Michael McDonough
Ed: Kurt Engfehr
Mus: Jeff Gibbs

Michael Moore (narrator)

Michael Moore's biting, often humorous documentary scrutinises gun-crazy America, studying why the country is so prone to violent killings, yet no changes to the amendments are made to make firearms possession illegal, especially in the wake of the 1999 massacre at Columbine high school and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Some of the message gets lost amongst all the mudslinging and political slander from the über-liberal filmmaker, but it still remains a powerful and provocative documentary.

"A deep, dark obsession that bares a woman's body and a man's soul."
"A deep, dark obsession that bares a woman's body and a man's soul."
D: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Main Line (Carl Mazzocone)
🇺🇸 1993
105 mins
W: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
DP: Frank Byers
Ed: David Finfer
Mus: Graeme Revell
Julian Sands (Dr. Nick Cavanaugh), Sherilyn Fenn (Helena), Bill Paxton (Ray O'Malley), Art Garfunkel (Dr. Laurence Augustine), Kurtwood Smith (Dr. Alan Palmer), Betsy Clark (Anne Garrett)
Often considered one of the worst films of all time. Objectifying women and completely degrading.
Julian Sands plays an obsessed surgeon who amputates the arms and legs of a woman who spurned his advances. 
The biggest problem is that you don't know who to root for. Both characters are unlikeable and the film is tedious and offensive. A pathetic attempt from David Lynch's daughter to imitate her father's nightmarish style.
Kim Basinger was originally hired to play the lead female role, but dropped out due to issues with the script, sparking a bitter legal dispute which saw a large settlement for the producers which almost caused Basinger to file for bankruptcy. The legal case is actually a more entertaining story than this movie.

"Every child needs to be loved."
"Every child needs to be loved."

THE BOY (15)

D: William Brent Bell

STX/Lakeshore/Huayi Brothers/Vertigo (Matt Berenson, Jodyne Herron, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg & Jim Wedaa)

🇺🇸 🇨🇳 2016

97 mins


W: Stacey Menear

DP: Daniel Pearl

Ed: Brian Berdan

Mus: Bear McCreary

Lauren Cohan (Greta Evans), Rupert Evans (Malcolm), Jim Norton (Mr. Heelshire), Diana Hardcastle (Mrs. Heelshire)

Uninspiring, unimaginative, drab horror film whose sole purpose it seems is to attempt to launch the career of Lauren Cohan, best known for TV's zombie hit The Walking Dead.

She plays a nanny who is hired by an unusual couple to be an au pair to a porcelain doll, whom they seemingly believe to be real.

There's a plot twist, but you'd have to be a moron not to see it coming. 

Typical Hollywood production line rubbish. Yawn, next.


"The year is 2024... A year you'll probably live to see."
"The year is 2024... A year you'll probably live to see."
A BOY & HIS DOG (15)
D: L. Q. Jones
LG Jaf (Alvy Moore)
🇺🇸 1975
89 mins
Science Fiction
W: L. Q. Jones [based on a story by Harlan Ellison]
DP: John Arthur Morrill
Ed: Scott Conrad
Mus: Tim McIntyre, Jaime Mendoza-Nava & Ray Manzarek
PD: Ray Boyle
Don Johnson (Vic), Suzanne Benton (Quilla June Holmes), Jason Robards (Lou Craddock), Tim McIntyre (voice of Blood)
Weird cult sci-fi fantasia from the 70's about, well, a boy & his dog roaming the post-apocalyptic landscape of America searching for food and other survivors. The twist is that the boy and his dog can have telepathic conversations with each other. 
The plot actually deserved a better movie, I personally found it quite boring, lifted only by the occasional moments of dark comedy and though the ending is misogynistic irony at its best (or worst, depending on your comedy tastes), it seems to take an age to get there. The dog steals the movie, but this is nothing like Lassie.
D: Mark Herman
Miramax/BBC Films (David Heyman)
🇬🇧 🇮🇪 2008
94 mins
W: Mark Herman [based on the novel by John Boyne]
DP: Benoit Delhomme
Ed: Michael Ellis
Mus: James Horner
PD: Martin Childs
Vera Farmiga (Elsa), David Thewlis (Ralf), Asa Butterfield (Bruno), Jack Scanlon (Schmuel), Amber Beattie (Gretel), Sheila Hancock (Natalie), Richard Johnson (Matthias)
Based on a fictional novel by John Boyne, the story focuses on the doomed friendship between the son of a Nazi soldier and a Jewish boy imprisoned at Auschwitz, both children around 8 years old and too young to understand the true nature of the events that surround them.
Very well directed and acted, with close attention to detail and the period.
Although it has a powerful message to convey, it doesn't quite explore or resolve the points it raises. Still, it's a good film to educate those not ready for the horrors of the holocaust which are depicted in Schindler's List or The Pianist (qv), not that this harrowing piece of filmmaking should suffer by comparison. 
D: Rob Cohen
Universal/Blumhouse (Jason Blum, John Jacobs, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina & Jennifer Lopez)
🇺🇸 2015
90 mins


W: Barbara Curry
DP: Dave McFarland
Ed: Michel Aller 
Mus: Randy Edelman

Jennifer Lopez (Claire Peterson), Ryan Guzman (Noah Sandborn), Kristen Chenoweth (Vicky Lansing), Ian Nelson (Kevin Peterson), John Corbett (Garrett Peterson)

Double standards bullshit with Jennifer Lopez as a divorced English teacher who starts perving over her teenage next-door neighbour, but that's fine because he's "hot".
They fuck, he turns psycho and it's Fatal Attraction all over again- for girls. 
As a male, I'm not really expected to enjoy this kind of shit. And that's fine. But is this really the sort of movie the feminists of Hollywood want when they say there's not enough roles for women?

D: Nick Castle
20th Century Fox/Lorimar (Gary Adelson)
🇺🇸 1986
114 mins
W: Nick Castle
DP: Steve Poster & Adam Holender
Ed: Patrick Kennedy
Mus: Bruce Broughton
PD: James D. Bissell
Lucy Deakins (Milly Michaelson), Jay Underwood (Eric Gibb), Bonnie Bedelia (Charlene Michaelson), Fred Savage (Louis Michaelson), Colleen Dewhurst (Mrs. Carolyn Sherman), Fred Gwynne (Uncle Hugo Gibb)
A family move into a new home and make friends with an autistic boy who lives next door, who believes that he can fly.
The movie has a subplot of dealing with loss and coping in a broken home before the title of the film becomes literal and the film takes on a fantasy element which feels totally unconvincing.
There's also some good comic moments with Fred Savage as the G. I. Joe obsessed son of the family, though the product placement couldn't possibly be any more in your face.
Flawed, it is, but the only performances by the two leads makes for a cute chemistry and it generally holds a nostalgic quality for those who watched it during the 1980's, but not worth going out of your way to watch nowadays.


D: Richard Linklater
IFC (Richard Linklater & Cathleen Sutherland)
🇺🇸 2014
165 mins


W: Richard Linklater
DP: Lee Daniel & Shane Kelly
Ed: Sandra Adair

Ellar Coltrane (Mason Evans, Jr.), Lorelei Linklater (Samantha Evans), Patricia Arquette (Olivia Evans), Ethan Hawke (Mason Evans, Jr.)

From an artistic point of view, Boyhood stretches the boundaries of conventional filmmaking which writer/director/co-producer Richard Linklater deserves full credit for.
Filmed over a period of 12 years, the story is a simple coming-of-age tale of a boy's life from the ages of 5 through to 18, covering the usual issues a child encounters during that time in their life. Raised by a single mother, regular excursions with the estranged father, coping with an older sister, school, birthdays, bullying, puberty, an abusive stepfather, etc.
With each year of the boy's life covered in average of 14-15 minutes, the film is essentially a series of short films and home video style moments which bring an air of realism whilst the performances and dialogue are incredibly realistic. It also has to be said that it's a piece of movie magic to see all the characters physically age throughout the running time without the assistance of fancy makeup or prosthetics, not only of the young stars but also for the on-screen parents Ethan Hawke & Patricia Arquette.
There are a few minor gripes with the film, but not enough to make it unenjoyable. The main one is that it doesn't really deal with any issues that it brings up, it only skirts over the periphery of them. Another is that it doesn't really possess any nostalgic value. It's all set over the years post-2001, so if your childhood was prior, you won't generally share the same views or experiences as the main character & will sympathise more with the parents characters especially for viewers who are indeed parents, unfortunately, Arquette & Hawke aren't in the film as much as you'd like them to be. It's not their film though, it's Ellar Coltrane who you watch growing up before your very eyes, hammering home how quickly children grow up and how, indeed, time and moments can pass in the blink of an eye.
Richard Linklater used a similar style of filmmaking with Before Sunrise, Before Sunset & Before Midnight, a trilogy of films about the development of a relationship over three decades.
Still, Boyhood is an admirable filmmaking experience which provided an arduous, lengthy task for its cast and crew and fully deserved all the praise it received. 

D: Kimberly Pierce
20th Century Fox/Killer Films (Jeffrey Sharp, John Hart, Eva Kolodner & Christine Vachon)     
🇺🇸 1999
118 mins


W: Kimberly Pierce & Andy Bienen
DP: Jim Denault
Ed: Lee Percy & Tracy Granger
Mus: Nathan Larson

Hilary Swank (Brandon Teena), Chloe Sevigny (Lana), Peter Sarsgaard (John), Brandon Sexton III (Tom), Alison Folland (Kate), Alicia Goranson (Candace), Matt McGrath (Lonny), Rob Campbell (Brian)

A shocking and compelling drama about gender confusion, Hilary Swank giving a brilliant acting performance as Brandon Teena, a girl from Nebraska in the mid 1990's who dressed and acted like a boy to cope with her sexual identity.
The drama is brought to the screen very delicately, without being overly sentimental or ill-conceived and the performances of the cast, particularly Swank, make it a riveting watch.
D: Franklin J. Schaffner
20th Century Fox (Martin Richards & Stanley O'Toole)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1978
123 mins


W: Heywood Gould [based on the novel by Ira Levin]
DP: Henri Decae
Ed: Robert E. Swink
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: Gil Parrando
Cos: Anthony Mendelson

Gregory Peck (Josef Mengele), Laurence Olivier (Ezra Lieberman), James Mason (Eduard Seibert), Lilli Palmer (Esther Lieberman), Uta Hagen (Frieda Maloney), Rosemary Harris (Mrs. Doring), John Dehner (Henry Wheelock), John Rubinstein (David Bennett), Steve Guttenberg (Barry Kohler)

A renegade Nazi hatches a plot to clone Adolf Hitler as young boys and give birth to a new Third Reich.
It's a very thrilling, suspenseful film with a memorable ending, but it drags a bit in the middle which gives the movie a rather unnecessary long running time. Despite this, the performances are excellent, including Steve Guttenberg in an early small role, but the leading pair of Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier are quite unforgettable.

"Increase the peace."
"Increase the peace."
D: John Singleton
Columbia Tristar (Steve Nicolaides)
🇺🇸 1991
107 mins
W: John Singleton
DP: Charles Mills
Ed: Bruce Cannon
Mus: Stanley Clarke
Laurence Fishburne (Jason 'Furious' Styles), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Tre Styles), Ice Cube (Doughboy), Morris Chestnut (Ricky), Tyra Ferrell (Mrs. Baker), Angela Bassett (Reva Styles), Desi Arnez Hines II (Young Tre)
One of the most important and influential movies of the early 1990's.
When his mother can't cope with raising him anymore, Tre Styles is sent to live with his father in South Central Los Angeles, who teaches Tre to be a responsible man amongst the gangland mentality going on around the area, when members perform drive-by shootings, killing their rivals in the name of territorial right.
The movie raises important issues which it cannot resolve, but carries an important message which is often misunderstood. 
Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding, Jr. deliver excellent performances and John Singleton directs the movie in a realistic, visceral style, winning an Oscar nomination for his film debut, both as writer and director.

"They're back to save America from the 90's."
"They're back to save America from the 90's."
D: Betty Thomas
Paramount (Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd Schwartz & David Kirkpatrick)
🇺🇸 1995
88 mins


W: Laurie Elehwany, Rick Copp, Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner [based on the TV show created by Sherwood Schwartz]
DP: Mac Ahlberg
Ed: Peter Teschner
Mus: Guy Moon

Shelley Long (Carol Brady), Gary Cole (Mike Brady), Christopher Daniel (Greg Brady), Christine Taylor (Marcia Brady), Jennifer Elise Cox (Jan Brady), Jesse Lee (Bobby Brady), Olivia Hack (Cindy Brady)

A big screen transition of a television sitcom about a well-meaning family who still have mannerisms and values from the early 1970's living in present day America.
The idea worked better as a TV show, but it isn't a bad big screen rendition, with a couple of funny moments. A sequel: A Very Brady Sequel followed a year later. 
"Now you're really out of your mind."
"Now you're really out of your mind."
D: Frank Henenlotter 
Palace (Edgar Levins)
🇺🇸 1988
90 mins
W: Frank Henenlotter
DP: Bruce Torbet
Ed: James Y. Kwei & Frank Henenlotter
Mus: Gus Russo & Clutch Reiser
Rick Hearst (Brian), Jennifer Lowry (Barbara), Theo Barnes (Morris), Lucille Saint-Peter (Martha)
Bizarre horror movie about a man who allows a parasite to give him hallucinatory pleasures in return for helping the creature to feast on brain matter.
The movie is clearly an allegory for drug/alcohol abuse with some rather grizzly death scenes. It's all quite ridiculous and can't be taken at all seriously, but it's still rather good.
Perhaps it's a good idea to remove brain before watching... Just in case.

D: Peter Jackson 
Polygram/Wingnut (Jim Booth)
🇳🇿 1992
104 mins
W: Stephen Sinclair, Frances Walsh & Peter Jackson
DP: Murray Milne
Ed: Jamie Selkirk
Mus: Peter Dasent
PD: Kenneth Leonard-Jones
Timothy Balme (Lionel Cosgrove), Diana Penalver (Paquita Maria Sanchez), Elizabeth Moody (Vera Cosgrove), Ian Watkin (Les Kalkon), Brenda Kendal (Emma McTavish)
Gross-out horror movie from Peter Jackson's early career about a woman who gets bitten by a rabid monkey and turns into a zombie.
It's all rather unpleasant rather than scary, with a rather disturbing sense of humour.
It's a great deal better than Peter Jackson's debut (Bad Taste) but on this evidence it's almost impossible to understand how he went on to direct The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
The movie was dubbed a 'video nasty' when it was released in Britain, but fortunately for the filmmakers, it escaped censorship.

"Love Never Dies."
"Love Never Dies."
D: Francis Ford Coppola
Columbia Tristar/American Zoetrope (Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Fuchs & Charles Mulvehill)
🇺🇸 1992
130 mins


W: James V. Hart [based on the novel 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Nicholas C. Smith, Glen Scantlebury & Anne Goursaud
Mus. Wojciech Kilar
PD: Thomas Sanders
Cos: Eiko Ishioka

Gary Oldman (Count Vlad Dracul/Dracula), Winona Ryder (Mina Murray/Elisabeta), Anthony Hopkins (Prof. Abraham Van Helsing), Keanu Reeves (Jonathan Harker), Richard E. Grant (Dr. Jack Seward), Cary Elwes (Lord Arthur Holmwood), Bill Campbell (Quincy P. Morris), Sadie Frost (Lucy Westenra), Tom Waits (R. M. Renfield), Monica Bellucci (Dracula's Bride)

Luxurious remake of Bram Stoker's oft-filmed classic character with focus primarily on the romantic subplot of the text rather than the horror that drives it.
It portrays the Count as noble lonely soul who above all else wants to be reunited with his long-lost love. 
It's a novel twist, but it will probably anger the purists. All the production aspects of this film are fantastic though- dark & gloomy photography, gothic sets, flowing gowns and costumes, and both grotesque and visually stunning make up effects. Gary Oldman gives a decent performance as the heartbroken Count, but the rest of the performances are over-egged or just plain crap, especially Keanu Reeves and his atrocious English accent.

D: Mark Herman 
Prominent/Channel 4 (Steve Abbott)
🇬🇧 1996
107 mins


W: Mark Herman
DP: Andy Collins
Ed: Michael Ellis
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: Don Taylor

Pete Posthelthwaite (Danny Ormondroyd, Ewan McGregor (Andy Barrow), Tara Fitzgerald (Gloria Mullins), Stephen Tompkinson (Phil Ormondroyd), Jim Carter (Harry)

Sentimental comedy set in a small mining village where the mines are set to close, a group of band musicians stick together to play in a national competition.
It's a film which reaches out to people from similar communities as it's target audience. A year later, The Full Monty was released, focusing on another group of people who formed a unit after the closure of an area's big business- it was much funnier and relied on comedy to engage its audience rather than schmaltz.

D: Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman
Disney/Pixar (Katherine Sarafian)
🇺🇸 2012
93 mins
W: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman & Irene Mecchi
Mus: Patrick Doyle
voices of: Kelly MacDonald (Merida), Billy Connolly (King Fergus), Emma Thompson (Queen Elinor), Julie Walters (The Witch), Robbie Coltrane (Lord Dingwall)
The first Pixar animated film to have a female as the lead character, with Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald providing the voice of a highland princess who is forbidden by her parents to prepare for battle, but she continues to practice archery nevertheless.
Brave, unfortunately, is my least favourite Pixar movie to date, possibly because it just isn't aimed at all at my demographic. 
As always, the animation is top notch, as you'd come to expect, but I just didn't find the storyline as interesting, original or engaging as previous efforts from the animation giants. Perhaps I was expecting more of a send up of Braveheart.     
I'm certain children will still enjoy it, it just wasn't for me.

D: Jerry Rees
Disney/Castle/Hyperion/Kushner-Locke/Wang/Global (Donald Kushner & Thomas L. Wilhite)
🇺🇸 1987
90 mins
W: Jerry Rees & Joe Ranft [based on the novel by Thomas N. Disch]
Mus: David Newman
Voices of: Deanna Oliver (Toaster), Jon Lovitz (Radio), Tim Stack (Lampy), Timothy E. Day (Blanky), Thurl Ravenscroft (Kirby)
A group of anthropomorphic domestic appliances go in search of their original owner.
The animation is well below the usual standard that Disney put their name to, and the voice cast are made up of mostly unknown names. 
Entertainment for under 8's only.

"His passion captivated a woman. His courage inspired a country. His heart defied a king."
"His passion captivated a woman. His courage inspired a country. His heart defied a king."
D: Mel Gibson
Paramount/Icon/The Ladd Co./Marquis (Mel Gibson, Alan Ladd, Jr. & Bruce Davey)
🇺🇸 1995
177 mins
W: Randall Wallace
DP: John Toll
Ed: Steven Rosenblum
Mus: James Horner
PD: Tom Sanders
Cos: Charles Knode

Mel Gibson (William Wallace), Sophie Marceau (Princess Isabelle), Patrick McGoohan (King Edward I - Longshanks), Catherine McCormack (Murron), Brendan Gleeson (Hamish), James Cosmo (Campbell), David O'Hara (Stephen), Angus MacFadyen (Robert the Bruce), Ian Bannen (The Leper), Peter Hanly (Prince Edward)
A semi-fictional account of highlander William Wallace's rebellion against English rule and the claims of King Edward I.
If it's a history lesson you're after, this certainly wouldn't be the film of choice as the panning it undeservedly got from critics pointed out. However, the first line of narration clearly states "Historians from England would call me a liar, but history is written by those who hang heroes." Therefore, throwing all arguments of historical inaccuracies in the dustbin where they duly belong.
Ignoring all those criticisms, Braveheart is a poetically directed, beautifully photographed and impeccably designed epic on the bloodied battlegrounds in the name of Scottish independence, whether your true opinions on William Wallace were a traitor, or not. It matters even less that Wallace is portrayed by an Australian accent with a questionable accent. It's a popcorn movie with higher aspirations and was a surprise winner of the Best Picture Oscar for 1995.

D: Terry Gilliam
Universal/Embassy (Arnon Milchan)
🇬🇧 1985
131 mins

Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown & Tom Stoppard
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Julian Doyle
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: Norman Garwood
Cos: James Acheson

Jonathan Pryce (Sam Lowry), Robert DeNiro (Tuttle), Katherine Helmond (Ida Lowry), Ian Holm (Kurtzmann), Bob Hoskins (Spoor), Michael Palin (Jack Lint), Ian Richardson (Warrenn), Peter Vaughan (Helpmann), Kim Griest (Jill Layton), Jim Broadbent (Dr. Jaffe)

Terry Gilliam's 1984 which will most certainly divide audiences.
Set in a dystopian future, a civil servant investigates a clerical error and ends up being an enemy of the state.
Similarities will be made with George Orwell's literary classic, but Brazil still has enough originality to hold its own, with some stylish visuals, amazing set designs and cruelly funny satire. 
"It could happen to you."
"It could happen to you."
D: Jonathan Mostow 
20th Century Fox/DEG/Spelling (Martha de Laurentiis & Dino de Laurentiis)
🇺🇸 1997
95 mins


W: Jonathan Mostow & Sam Montgomery
DP: Douglas Milsome
Ed: Derek Brechin & Kevin Stitt
Mus: Basil Poledouris

Kurt Russell (Jeff Taylor), J.T. Walsh (Warren 'Red' Barr), Kathleen Quinlan (Amy Taylor), M.C. Gainey (Earl)

After their car breaks down, a man's wife is kidnapped and held for ransom by a gang of roughnecks.
A very decent neo-noir thriller is made from a very low-key plot, with a very good performance from Kurt Russell as a man desperate to save his wife at all costs. It's not the type of film which would go on to win any awards, but is still a nail-biting watch.

D: Bruce Beresford 
South Australian Film Corp. (Matt Carroll)
🇦🇺 1980
107 mins


W: Jonathan Hardy, Bruce Beresford & David Stevens [based on the play by Kenneth Ross]
DP: Donald McAlpine
Ed: William Anderson
Mus: Phil Cunneen
PD: David Copping
Cos: Anna Senior

Edward Woodward (Lt. Harry Morant), Jack Thompson (Major J. F. Thomas), Bryan Brown (Lt. Peter Handcock), Charles Tingwell (Lt. Col. Denny), Terence Donovan (Capt. Simon Hunt), Vincent Ball (Lt. Hamilton), John Waters (Capt. Taylor)

Set during the Boer war, three lieutenants are given a court martial as scapegoats for their superiors orders. It kind of plays out like an Australian version of Paths Of Glory. Good performances by Edward Woodward & Bryan Brown, but it simply does not compare to Stanley Kubrick's war masterpiece

D: Blake Edwards
Paramount (Martin Jurow & Richard Shepherd)
🇺🇸 1961
115 mins


W: George Axelrod [based on the novella by Truman Capote]
DP: Franz Planer
Ed: Howard Smith
Mus: Henry Mancini
Pd: Hal Pereira & Roland Anderson
Cos: Edith Head

Audrey Hepburn (Holly Golightly), George Peppard (Paul Varjak), Patricia Neal (2-E), Buddy Ebsen (Doc Golightly), Martin Balsam (O. J. Berman), Mickey Rooney (Mr. Yunioshi), John McGiver (Tiffany salesman)

Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of cool and chic as Holly Golightly, a volatile but loveable and absolutely stunning call girl with an exotic, flamboyant social life who wins the affections of her neighbour.
Capote's novel had been cleaned up for it's cinema adaptation and therefore veers into sentimental territory, but it cannot be doubted that this is one of the iconic movies of the 1960's and Hepburn delivers us one of the all-time most beautiful movie characters.
Unfortunately, not all the casting is as good as Hepburn, especially Mickey Rooney- infamously miscast as a stereotypical caricature of a Japanese neighbour.

D: John Hughes
Universal/A&M (Ned Tanen & John Hughes)     
🇺🇸 1985
97 mins
W: John Hughes
DP: Thomas Del Ruth
Ed: Dede Allen
Mus: Keith Forsey
PD: John W. Corso
Emilio Estevez (Andrew Clark), Anthony Michael Hall (Brian Johnson), Judd Nelson (John Bender), Molly Ringwald (Claire Standish), Ally Sheedy (Allison Reynolds), Paul Gleason (Richard Vernon)
John Hughes' iconic 80's teen film is often judged harshly by stuffy film critics (who doubtlessly fall outside the target demographic).
More than anything, The Breakfast Club is a fun film which does have an important message about high school cliques. Five students arrive for Saturday detention for their respective punishments and though at first their characters couldn't be any more different (a jock, a nerd, a princess, a rebel, a basket case), after spending the day in the school library, they realise they have more in common than originally thought.
The movie does have it's moment of tack and cheese, particularly the "music video moments" when they sporadically break into dance for no reason, and the moral of the movie gets a bit mixed-up when the characters exonerate their own actions by blaming their upbringing, but it cannot be doubted that this is a landmark film of 1980's cinema.
Perhaps you have to be a child of the 80's to appreciate it, but it is by no stretch of the imagination, a bad movie. It's cheesy, it's fun, it's popcorn for the eyes of an easy market, but this makes it far from a poor film. In fact, this is arguably John Hughes' best movie and certainly one of the best teen-marketed films of the 1980's.

D: Peter Yates
20th Century Fox (Peter Yates)
🇺🇸 1979
100 mins
W: Steve Tesich
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Cynthia Schneider
Mus: Patrick Williams
Dennis Christopher (Dave Stohler), Dennis Quaid (Mike), Daniel Stern (Cyril), Jackie Earle Haley (Moocher), Barbara Barrie (Mrs. Stohler), Paul Dooley (Mr. Stohler), Robyn Douglass (Katherine), Hart Bochner (Rod), Amy Wright (Nancy)
A feelgood coming-of-age tale disguised as a cycling movie. Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern & Jackie Earle Haley are a group of friends in-between high school and further education in an Indiana college town populated mostly by students who dub the townsfolk 'cutters'.
Dennis Christopher is obsessed with cycling, living and breathing it, and his heroes are the Italian cycling team. He makes enemies of the college's cycling team when he starts to date one of their girlfriends and the movie culminates in a race between the college team and the 'cutters'.
The movie is a little stuck in it's own time and takes a little while to get going, but the screenplay has some good subtle humour and well-natured characters. 
Winner of the 1979 Oscar for Original Screenplay.

D: Lars Von Trier
Zentropa/Trust/Liberator/Argus/Northern Lights/La Sept/Swedish Television/Media Investment/Nordic Film & Television Fund/VPRO (Vibeke Windelov & Peter Aalbaek Jensen)
🇩🇰 🇸🇪 🇳🇴 1996
156 mins


W: Lars Von Trier & Peter Asmussen
DP: Robby Muller
Ed: Anders Refn
Mus: Joachim Holbek

Emily Watson (Bess), Stellan Skarsgard (Jan), Katrin Cartlidge (Dodo), Jean-Marc Barr (Terry), Adrian Rawlins (Doctor Richardson), Udo Kier (Man on the Train), Jonathan Hackett (Minister), Sandra Voe (Bess' Mother)

In a nutshell; this is an art house Lady Chatterley's Lover update using the Dogme 95 filmmaking style which limit the production to hand-held camera, natural lighting and avant-garde arty-farty direction.
In a remote part of Scotland, a young woman sexually degrades herself to appease her husband, paralyzed in an accident.
Despite an excellent performance from Emily Watson, the film is overlong, quite pretentious and often boring. It was adored by stuffy critics and arthouse audiences but has very little to offer to anyone else. Popcorn munchers may want to avoid this like the plague.

"With Her Love He Lived."
"With Her Love He Lived."


D: Andy Serkis

STX/BBC/BFI/Participant Media/Silver Reel (Jonathan Cavendish)

🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2017

117 mins


W: William Nicholson

DP: Robert Richardson

Ed: Masahiro Hirakubo

Mus: Nitin Sawhney

Andrew Garfield (Robin Cavendish), Claire Foy (Diana Cavendish), Tom Hollander (Bloggs Blacker / David Blacker), Hugh Bonneville (Teddy Hall), Miranda Raison (Mary Dawnay), Stephen Mangan (Dr. Clement Aitken), Jonathan Hyde (Dr. Entwistle)

Andy Serkis directs this colour-by-numbers biographical drama about the life of Robin Cavendish, a polio victim who was left paralysed by his illness and required a machine to allow him to breathe.

After many months in hospital, he and his wife campaigned for his release and subsequently invent a wheelchair with an in-built breathing device to give him and other sufferers some quality of life despite their disabilities.

The story here forgoes any back story of Cavendish's life in the army and only brushes on the periphery of his tea-trading business in colonial Africa, focusing solely on his relationship with Diana Blacker who would subsequently become his wife, before diving headfirst into his hospitalisation and terminal diagnosis.

The stencil here has been done before in films like The Theory Of Everything and A Beautiful Mind, and though this approach is more romanticised, it doesn't give you any time to involve yourself with the characters, despite a pair of good performances from both Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy.

The subject was of huge importance to director Andy Serkis, who was a friend of the Cavendish family from childhood, and the film was produced by Robin's son, Jonathan Cavendish, but this just proves that this biopic has a very bias approach with barely any conflict, tension or argument between the characters. Unfortunately, it's just far too twee and would have been better if it was released for a television audience at half the length.


"You don't have to be crazy to blow 30 million dollars in 30 days. But it helps."
"You don't have to be crazy to blow 30 million dollars in 30 days. But it helps."
D: Walter Hill
Universal (Lawrence Gordon & Joel Silver)
🇺🇸 1985
97 mins
W: Hershel Weingrod & Timothy Harris [based on the novel by George Barr McCutcheon]
DP: Ric Waite
Ed: Freeman Davies & Michael Ripps
Mus: Ry Cooder
PD: John Vallone
Richard Pryor (Monty Brewster), John Candy (Spike Nolan), Stephen Collins (Warren Cox), Lonette McKee (Angela Drake), Jerry Orbach (Charlie Pegler)
Based on a novel written in 1902 which became a stage play shortly after then went on to be first filmed in 1916, there have been more remakes since than some people have had hot dinners. This version is actually the ninth based on George Barr McCutcheon's novel, and the second made in 1985, if you include the Bollywood version titled Babayi-Abbayi.
The only changes in each remake are the cast, the monetary values and the profession of the lead character (Brewster).
For this 1985 Hollywood-produced version, Richard Pryor plays Brewster, a penniless minor league baseball player who learns that he will inherit $30 million if he first squanders $30 million. The idea being that he will understand the value of his inheritance by doing so. 
Firstly, the story is a great idea, proven by the fact that it has been adapted to the screen so many times - but this just feels like lazy filmmaking to capitalise on Richard Pryor's popularity at the time. 
It's okay, but nothing at all special.

"Chucky gets lucky."
"Chucky gets lucky."
D: Ronnie Yu
Universal (David Kirschner & David Gilroy)
🇺🇸 1998
89 mins
W: Don Mancini
DP: Peter Pau
Ed: David Wu & Randolph Bricker
Mus: Graeme Revell
Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky), Jennifer Tilly (Tiffany), Katherine Heigl (Jade), Nick Stabile (Jessie)
Fourth film of the Child's Play series, in which the girlfriend of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Chucky) resurrects his soul in the body of (another) good guy doll, then imports her soul into another so they can be together.
Despite its ridiculous story, it's decent fun, with an occasional nod to Bride Of Frankenstein.  It resurrected a dormant franchise after a great deal of controversy in the mid-90's, when the third movie was deemed a 'video nasty' in Britain and subsequently banned.
Stupid, but fun.

D: Curt Siodmak
Jack Broder Productions
🇺🇸 1951
65 mins


W: Curt Siodmak
DP: Charles Van Enger
Ed: Francis D. Lyon
Mus: Raoul Kraushaar & Mort Glickman

Barbara Payton (Dina Van Gelden), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Police Commissioner Taro), Raymond Burr (Barney Chavez), Tom Conway (Dr. Viet), Paul Cavanagh (Klaas Van Gelden)

The manager of a rubber plantation is cursed and changed into a gorilla.
Risible creature feature with a guy running around in a gorilla suit. One of the worst films of all time, even for 1950's B-movie standards.
"It'll make your skin crawl."
"It'll make your skin crawl."
D: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Rolling M (Edward D. Wood, Jr.)
🇺🇸 1953
69 mins
Science Fiction
W: Edward D. Wood, Jr. & Alex Gordon
DP: Ted Allan & William C. Thompson
Ed: Warren Adams
Mus: Frank Worth
Bela Lugosi (Dr. Eric Vornoff), Tor Johnson (Lobo), Tony McCoy (Lt. Dick Craig), Loretta King (Janet Lawton), Harvey Dunn (Capt. Robbins)
A mad scientist invents an atomic weapon which give people superhuman strength.
Rubbish B-movie from Edward D. Wood, Jr., the so-called "worst director of all time", it spent two years in production due to budgetary problems and it's apparent to see which scenes were added at a later date because the editing just doesn't marry the film together.
Worth watching just for the unintentionally hilarious scene where Bela Lugosi wrestles with a giant rubber octopus which is clearly being moved by the actor's arms.

D: Paul Feig
Universal/Relativity (Judd Apatow, Clayton Townsend & Barry Mendel)
🇺🇸 2011
125 mins


W: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
DP: Robert Yeoman
Ed: William Kerr & Mike Sale
Mus: Michael Andrews
PD: Jefferson Sage
Cos: Leesa Evans

Kristen Wiig (Annie Walker), Maya Rudolph (Lillian Donovan), Rose Byrne (Helen Harris III), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Rita), Ellie Kemper (Becca), Melissa McCarthy (Megan Price), Chris O'Dowd (Officer Nathan Rhodes)

From the cover of the DVD and the first five minutes I thought I was going to absolutely detest this film but I actually thought it was rather good and some bits really did make me laugh out loud.
I was expecting a cross between Sex & The City and The Hangover and I suppose that would be an easy way to describe it, but there's really more to it than that.
I really liked Kristen Wiig's character and empathised with her a lot. Down on her luck with her best friends wedding looming, she finds her maid of honour position under threat by her best friends richer, more vainglorious acquaintance and there's a bitchy battle between them as they try to usurp each other.
I was actually genuinely impressed with how well this movie was written, especially with a cute little romance between Kristen Wiig & Chris O'Dowd.  I also thought I was going to hate Melissa McCarthy in this, she's rather like Zach Galifianakis' character in The Hangover, but the truth is she was very good.  Nevertheless, this is definitely Wiig's movie. She's like a young Meg Ryan.
A refreshingly feel good rom-com for both women and men to have a chuckle at.
Unfortunately, the same group of actresses haven't quite made a film of the same quality since, while the huge success went a little too much to the director's head.

"In the shadow of war, one Man showed the world what we stand for."
"In the shadow of war, one Man showed the world what we stand for."
D: Steven Spielberg
20th Century Fox/Dreamworks (Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt & Kristie Macosko Krieger)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2015
141 mins


W: Matt Charman, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen 
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: Thomas Newman
PD: Adam Stockhausen

Tom Hanks (James B. Donovan), Mark Rylance (Rudolf Abel), Scott Shepherd (Agent Hoffman), Amy Ryan (Mary McKenna Donovan), Sebastian Koch (Wolfgang Vogel), Alan Alda (Thomas Watters)

Bridge Of Spies manages to squeeze a lot of history into it's running time without becoming sluggish or boring, even if the viewer has very little knowledge of events which happened during the Cold War. In fact, the conflict is summed up with one snippet of dialogue that it was a war of information, rather than a war of arms.
Based on a true story, insurance lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is coerced by the government into taking a case which cannot possibly be won, to represent suspected Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Even with his hands tied, Donovan is adamant to ensure Abel gets a fair trial, much to the disgust of the American people.
Though he inevitably loses the case, he does spare Abel from a death sentence, which becomes of paramount importance when a U2 pilot is shot down over Soviet airspace, leaving the two governments with a bargaining chip.
The plot is reminiscent of James Stewart courtroom dramas of the 1950's, with Tom Hanks encapsulating the everyday man characters the late actor famously portrayed to perfection. Mark Rylance deserves the plaudits here though, with a scene-stealing performance of very few words.
Steven Spielberg brings his usual golden touch to the filmmaking process, with atmospheric cinematography and convincing period detail, especially the recreation of the Berlin Wall.
The whole film is a mirror depicting freedom versus oppression, and though it does champion the American Way and wears its constitution like a badge of honour, this is far distant from your standard patriotic flagwaver. 
The real surprise is the involvement of the Coen brothers in the writer's corner, it's not a story which bears their usual branding, but the believable, often amusing dialogue is certainly one of the film's assets.

D: David Lean
Columbia (Sam Spiegel)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 1957
161 mins
W: Carl Foreman & Michael Wilson [based on the novel by Pierre Boulle]
DP: Jack Hildyard
Ed: Peter Taylor
Mus: Malcolm Arnold
William Holden (Shears), Alec Guinness (Colonel Nicholson), Jack Hawkins (Major Warden), Sessue Hayakawa (Col. Saito), James Donald (Major Clipton), Geoffrey Horne (Lt. Joyce), Andre Morell (Col. Green), Peter Williams (Capt. Reeves), John Boxer (Maj. Hughes)
David Lean's classic war adventure about a group of British POW's in Burma who are forced by Japanese soldiers to build the bridge of the title. 
Memorable for many reasons and in particular for Alec Guinness' performance as the staid Colonel Nicholson, who initially displays a heroic stance against the British-hating, dictatorial Saito who runs the POW camp, refusing to order his men to work on the bridge as it contravenes the rules of the Geneva Convention and faces punishment as a result.
When construction of the bridge falls behind schedule, Nicholson agrees to take on a supervisory role on the project so the men will receive better treatment, but also as a statement that British brains are mightier than Japanese brawn.  However, when a rescue operation advances to blow up the bridge, Nicholson simply cannot bear to see the bridge destroyed due to it's symbolisation of patriotic endeavour.
All aspects of the production are fantastic, but the movie does detract from the tension inside the POW camp with scenes concerning an escapee (William Holden) and the impending operation of rescue and destruction. The film would perhaps have been more thrilling (and shorter), if the action was set entirely inside the POW camp.
Nevertheless, It will always be considered one of the finest war dramas of all time.

D: Richard Attenborough
United Artists (Joseph E. Levine, Richard Levine & Michael Stanley-Evans)
🇬🇧 1977
176 mins
W: William Goldman [based on the book by Cornelius Ryan]
DP: Geoffrey Unsworth
Ed: Antony Gibbs
Mus: John Addison
Dirk Bogarde (Lt. Gen. Browning), James Caan (Sgt. Dohun), Michael Caine (Lt. Col Vandeleur), Sean Connery (Maj. Gen. Urquhart), Edward Fox (Lt. Gen. Horrocks), Elliot Gould (Col. Stout), Gene Hackman (Maj. Gen. Sosabowski), Anthony Hopkins (Lt. Col. John Frost), Laurence Olivier (Dr. Spaander)

A movie too long?

Richard Attenborough's war drama is a strikingly well made account of one of the allied failures of WWII, and though it attempts to capture the action from several points of view, it could have done with being half an hour shorter. The first act especially could easily have been abridged for reasons of pacing. Still, it's easy to see why it's considered a classic of the war genre, with a cast full of star names from a generation of excellent actors.


D: Sharon Maguire
Universal/Studio Canal/Miramax/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner & Jonathan Cavendish)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2001
92 mins


W: Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies & Richard Curtis [based on the novel by Helen Fielding]
DP: Stuart Dryburgh
Ed: Martin Walsh
Mus: Patrick Doyle
PD: Gemma Jackson
Cos: Rachael Fleming

Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones), Colin Firth (Mark Darcy), Hugh Grant (Daniel Cleaver), Gemma Jones (Bridget's Mum), Jim Broadbent (Bridget's Dad), Embeth Davidtz (Natasha)

Hugely popular romcom based on an equally popular novel about a neurotic, slightly overweight thirty-something single woman looking for love in all the wrong places.
Renee Zellweger is excellent at the title character and gets some good support from Hugh Grant as her arsehole boss and Colin Firth as her knight in shining armour.
It's film which would mean more to the female lonelyhearts but it's not the type of film that a guy would watch more than once.
D: David Lean
Cineguild/Eagle-Lion (Noel Coward)
🇬🇧 1945
86 mins


W: Noel Coward, David Lean & Anthony Havelock-Allan [based on the play "Still Life" by Noel Coward]
DP: Robert Krasker
Ed: Jack Harris
Mus: Sergei Rachmaninoff

Celia Johnson (Laura Jesson), Trevor Howard (Dr. Alec Harvey), Cyril Raymond (Fred Jesson), Stanley Holloway (Albert Godby), Joyce Carey (Myrtle Bagot)

Though David Lean's career became more famous for vast, sprawling epics like Lawrence Of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, his earlier, more low-key works were equally, if not more dramatically compelling and visually splendid. Brief Encounter is amongst these earlier films.
A married woman is tempted by adultery when fate serendipitously brings a bachelor doctor into her life when they frequently meet at a railway station. The acting performances of both Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard are excellent as their short love affair develops, especially from the former, whose facial expressions deliver more intensity than the majority of entire screenplays. 
The subject matter, considered hugely risqué in the 1940's for projecting sympathy on would-be adulterers, is not as scandalous by modern day standards, especially with sexuality hinted at with innuendo rather than gratuitous nudity.
Even though particular elements feel dated and the face of Britain has shifted since the 1940's, this is still a hugely important and massively influential piece of filmmaking, superbly directed by the late, great David Lean.
A true classic in every single sense of the word.

D: John Boulting
Associated British/Charter Films (Roy Boulting)
🇬🇧 1947
92 mins
W: Graham Greene & Terence Rattigan [based on the novel by Graham Greene]
DP: Harry Waxman
Ed: Frank McNally
Mus: Hans May
Richard Attenborough (Pinkie Brown), Hermione Baddeley (Ida Arnold), William Hartnell (Dallow), Carol Marsh (Rose Brown), Nigel Stock (Cubitt), Wylie Watson (Spicer), Harcourt Williams (Prewitt)
Vintage British cinema featuring a fiendishly good performance from Richard Attenborough as teenage gangster Pinkie Brown, the leader of a notorious racetrack mob & a villain right up on the list with Hannibal Lecter, Anton Chigurh, Patrick Bateman & Death.
Pinkie is a cold soul who cynically romances a waitress and married her so he can use her as an alibi to cover up one of his murders before disposing of her.
It may not hold as much weight as it did in the forties but the final scene is eternally haunting.

D: Martin Scorsese
Paramount/Touchstone (Barbara de Fina & Scott Rudin)
🇺🇸 1999
120 mins


W: Paul Schrader [based on the novel by Joe Connelly]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Thelma Schoonmaker
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
PD: Dante Ferretti

Nicolas Cage (Frank Pierce), Patricia Arquette (Mary Burke), John Goodman (Larry), Ving Rhames (Marcus), Tom Sizemore (Tom Wolls), Marc Anthony (Noel), Mary Beth Hurt (Nurse Constance), Cliff Curtis (Cy Coates), Aida Turturro (Nurse Crupp)

Dour drama about a paramedic and his descent into depression following night after night of the graveyard shift. 
This is a movie which really divided the critics.  Some call it Martin Scorsese's weakest effort while others say it's his most underrated work.  Personally, I thought it fell somewhere in the middle.  It wasn't a bad film, but it didn't do anything for me either. It proved to be a box office flop, despite many positive reviews.

D: Howard Hawks
RKO (Howard Hawks)
🇺🇸 1938
102 mins


W: Dudley Nichols & Hagar Wilde
DP: Russell Metty
Ed: George Hively
Mus: Roy Webb
PD: Van Nest Polglase
Cos: Howard Greer

Katherine Hepburn (Susan Vance), Cary Grant (David Huxley), May Robson (Aunt Elizabeth), Charles Ruggles (Maj. Horace Applegate), Barry Fitzgerald (Mr. Gogarty), Walter Catlett (Constable Slocum), Fritz Feld (Dr. Lehman), Leona Roberts (Hannah Gogarty)

Classic screwball comedy about a zany socialite who causes a zoology professor to lose a valuable dinosaur bone and a baby leopard in the same evening.
It's all quite dated now, but the humour is still funny with dialogue a mile a minute, His Girl Friday style. A good advertisement for the genre which is now considered quite old-fashioned or almost obsolete.

D: James L. Brooks
20th Century Fox/Gracie Films (James L. Brooks & Penney Finkelman Cox)
🇺🇸 1987
131 mins


W: James L. Brooks
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Richard Marks
Mus: Bill Conti
PD: Charles Rosen
Cos: Molly Maginnis

William Hurt (Tom Grunick), Holly Hunter (Jane Craig), Albert Brooks (Aaron Altman), Robert Prosky (Ernie Merriman), Lois Chiles (Jennifer Mack), Joan Cusack (Blair Litton), Peter Hackes (Paul Moore), Jack Nicholson (Bill Rorich)

The life and loves of three people working on a television news network, one a suave, handsome and manipulative anchorman, a knowledgable rival reporter with confidence issues & highly strung scruples and an ambitious producer who enamours them both (captivatingly portrayed by Holly Hunter).
A decent comedy from writer/director James L. Brooks which veers into romance towards the end. It does feature a trio of good performances from William Hurt & Albert Brooks, but it's held together mostly through Hunter's impeccable performance.
The total running time could have been trimmed by 30 minutes, but it was still considered one of the best films of 1987 by the Academy Awards, who nominated it for 7 in total.

"Love is a force of nature."
"Love is a force of nature."
D: Ang Lee
Focus Features/River Road (Diana Ossana & James Schamus)
🇺🇸 🇨🇦 2005
129 mins


W: Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana [based on the short story by Annie Proulx]
DP: Rodrigo Prieto
Ed: Geraldine Peroni & Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Gustavo Santaolalla
PD: Judy Becker
Cos: Marit Allen

Heath Ledger (Ennis Del Mar), Jake Gyllenhaal (Jack Twist), Anne Hathaway (Lureen Newsome), Michelle Williams (Alma), Linda Cardellini (Cassie), Anna Faris (Lashawn Malone), Randy Quaid (Joe Aguirre), Graham Beckel (L. B. Newsome)

In 1963 Wyoming, two young cowboys, Ennis Del Mar & Jack Twist, form a friendship while tending to sheep on a ranch and after a night of heavy drinking, develop a sexual relationship with each other, igniting an on-off affair with each other which sees them struggle to settle into married life, hiding their repressed sexuality from their wives.
Unfairly dubbed "The Gay Western" upon it's release, it's much more deep than that...
Brokeback Mountain is a love story that transcends the bridges between sexual orientation. Had it been the story of a "traditional" straight couple it wouldn't have had the same impact for it's themes of forbidden love, lost opportunity, marital deception, loneliness and ultimately alienation.
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are both excellent, but the film's best performance arguably belongs to Michelle Williams as Ennis' wife, absolutely heartbroken after discovering her husband and Jack in embrace.  Ang Lee's direction brings tenderness, humanity and poetry to a (sadly) controversial subject. Brilliant photography captures the breathtaking majesty of the Rocky Mountain backdrops and Gustavo Santaolalla's acoustic music tells a beautiful story in itself.
Despite being the favourite to win the Best Picture Oscar for 2005, it lost out on the night to Paul Haggis' racial tension drama Crash. Perhaps Hollywood wasn't ready for a gay love story yet. At least it didn't go away empty handed, winning gongs for Best Director, Screenplay and Original Score. 

D: John Woo
20th Century Fox/WCG (Mark Gordon, Bill Badalato & Terence Chang)
🇺🇸 1996
86 mins


W: Graham Yost
DP: Peter Levy
Ed: John Wright, Steve Mirkovich & Joe Hutshing
Mus: Hans Zimmer

John Travolta (Vic Deakins), Christian Slater (Riley Hale), Samantha Mathis (Terry Carmichael), Delroy Lindo (Col. Max Wilkins), Bob Gunton (Pritchett), Frank Whaley (Giles Prentice), Howie Long (Kelly), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Lt. Col. Sam Rhodes)

Preposterous but fun action movie about a pilot's pursuit of a colleague who has absconded with a stealth bomber armed with nuclear weapons.
The plot logic is non-existent and John Travolta delivers a ridiculously OTT performance, but it's just one of them brainless action flicks you can enjoy with a bagful of popcorn.

D: Nicolas Winding Refn
Vertigo (Rupert Preston & Danny Hansford)
🇬🇧 2008
92 mins
W: Norman Brock & Nicolas Winding Refn
DP: Larry Smith
Ed: Mat Newman
Mus: Johnny Jewel
Tom Hardy (Michael Gordon Peterson / Charles Bronson), Matt King (Paul Daniels), James Lance (Phil Danielson), Kelly Adams (Irene Peterson)
So many people have recommended this to me and after a long procrastination I finally got around to watching it.  Sure, it's a disturbing movie but what disturbs me more is Britain's entire perspective on criminals, from The Kray Twins to Charles Bronson.  Bronson was a self-deluded lunatic, hungry for fame and notoriety as England's most feared prisoner- he's completely undeserving of such fame and this biopic completely contradicts that.
There's no denying that Tom Hardy delivers an excellent performance as Charles Bronson/Michael Peterson but the movie itself glamourises a monstrous thug and nothing more, there's no exploration of his character and it kind of plays out like a ripoff of A Clockwork Orange intersected with Bob Fosse style theatrical montages showing Bronson as a "showman" and direct-to-camera monologues which failed to engage me and just made me think that the man completely self obsessed and was up his own arse with his exceptionally high opinions of himself. 
This movie had so much potential and could have shed some light on what brings out the violent instincts of the criminal mind or dangerous sociopaths, instead it glorifies the man at every turn. He's not a showman, an actor, a stand up comedian or a superstar. The man's a complete animal.
I'll probably have a lot of people saying that I may have missed the point of the movie, but I simply didn't enjoy it at all and thought it was nothing but shameless exploitation.

D: Robert DeNiro
Tribeca/Gatien/Price (Robert DeNiro & Jane Rosenthal)
🇺🇸 1993
122 mins


W: Chazz Palminteri [based on his play]
DP: Reynaldo Villalobos
Ed: David Ray & Robert Q. Lovett
Mus: Butch Barbella
PD: Wynn Thomas
Cos: Rita Ryack

Robert DeNiro (Lorenzo Anello), Chazz Palminteri (Sonny), Lillo Brancato (Calogero Anello - aged 17), Francis Capra (Calogero Anello - aged 9), Joe Pesci (Carmine), Taral Hicks (Jane), Kathrine Narducci (Rosina Anello), Clem Caserta (Jimmy Whispers), Robert D'Andrea (Tony Toupee), Eddie Montanaro (Eddie Mush)

Robert DeNiro's directorial debut is a very sterling effort, a nostalgic memoir of growing up in 1960's New York which deals with family conflict, the allure of gangster life, racial issues, first love and the trials and tribulations of growing up.  Its only fault is that it may be 10 or 20 minutes too long due to stretching its canvas a little too far and wide. 

D: John Crowley
Lionsgate/Fox Searchlight/BFI/BBC (Amanda Posey & Finola Dwyer)
🇬🇧 🇮🇪 🇨🇦 🇺🇸 2015
112 mins


W: Nick Hornby [based on the novel by Colm Tóibín]
DP: Yves Belanger 
Ed: Jake Roberts 
Mus: Michael Brook

Saoirse Ronan (Eilis Lacey), Emory Cohen (Anthony Fiorello), Domnhall Gleeson (Jim Farrell), Jim Broadbent (Father Flood), Julie Walters (Madge Kehoe)

Brooklyn is proof that, with a good screenplay, a solid lead performance and the use of good filmmaking, an excellent movie can be made from a rather ordinary story.
Saoirse Ronan plays Eílis Lacey, an Irish immigrant who arrives in New York circa 1950 hoping for a new start. Living in a boarding house in Brooklyn, she lands a job at a department store, becomes homesick, hesitantly falls in love with an Italian-American lad, returns back to Ireland for family duties, and ultimately preferring her life where her heart truly lies.
Based on a novel by Colm Tóibín, Nick Hornby's adaptation brings a bit of humour to the romantic drama, while director John Crowley recreates the period impressively, utilising a beautiful colour palette with the cinematography and costume designers to bring a rich picture to the screen.
The real main star is Saoirse Ronan, with her best performance by far in her career. One can only assume that 2013 flop The Host (qv) was a poor choice by her agent.

"There are two sides to every family."
"There are two sides to every family."
D: Jim Sheridan
Lionsgate/Relativity Media (Michael de Luca, Sigursón Sighvaysson & Ryan Kavanaugh)
🇺🇸 2009
105 mins


W: David Benioff [based on the screenplay "Brødre" by Susanne Bier & Anders Thomas Jensen]
DP: Frederick Elmes
Ed: Jay Cassidy
Mus: Thomas Newman

Tobey Maguire (Capt. Sam Cahill), Natalie Portman (Grace Cahill), Jake Gyllenhaal (Tommy Cahill), Sam Shepard (Hank Cahill), Mare Winningham (Elsie Cahill)

A trio of great performances carry this war drama. At first, I thought Tobey Maguire was miscast as Sam, a marine captain and family man who leaves his wife Grace (Natalie Portman, excellent) and two young daughters for a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Presumed killed in action, Grace is comforted by Sam's brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), an ex-convict and the black sheep of the family who ends up proving his true value to the family unit.
Sam is eventually rescued from his imprisonment and returns to America a changed man.
This could well be Tobey Maguire's finest ever performance and the movie is very well directed by Jim Sheridan. It's based on a Danish original which I may have to give a watch for comparison.
The triangle itself between Maguire, Portman & Gyllenhaal isn't too dissimilar to the one in Pearl Harbor, except it isn't Disneyfied. I'd actually say this movie was very similar to a movie from the same year called The Messenger, which I also thoroughly enjoyed watching.

"In Bruce We Trust"
"In Bruce We Trust"
D: Tom Shadyac
Universal/Spyglass/Shady Acres/Pit Bull (Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey, James D. Brubaker, Michael Bostick, Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe)
🇺🇸 2003
101 mins


W: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe & Steve Oedekerk
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Scott Hill
Mus: John Debney
PD: Linda DeScenna

Jim Carrey (Bruce Nolan), Jennifer Aniston (Grace Connelly), Morgan Freeman (God), Steve Carell (Evan Baxter), Philip Baker Hall (Jack Baylor), Catherine Bell (Susan Ortega), Sally Kirkland (Anita Mann)

Jim Carrey returns to the rubberface act which made him originally famous with this comedy with a fantasy twist.
Carrey plays Bruce, a TV news reporter who feels the world is against him, despite the fact he's in a relationship with Jennifer Aniston.
When he's passed over for an anchorman position he loses his rag and ends up getting fired. He blames God for not giving him a break and winds up meeting the man upstairs (quite literally) and Bruce is then permitted to play God to prove whether or not he can do the job any better.
Despite being quite predictable and veering into schmaltz towards the end, this comedy is a lot of fun which doesn't take it's subject matter too seriously. It also sees a welcome return to comedy form for Jim Carrey after a few years appearing in more dramatic roles.
The film is perhaps stolen from him however as Morgan Freeman as God and Steve Carell as a backstabbing news anchorman, the latter of whom was the lead star for a poorly conceived sequel (Evan Almighty).

BRÜNO (15)
D: Larry Charles
Universal/Media Rights Capital (Sacha Baron Cohen, Jay Roach, Dan Mazer & Jonah Hill)
🇬🇧 2009
89 mins


W: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer & Jeff Schaffer [based on the TV character created by Sacha Baron Cohen]
DP: Anthony Hardwick & Wolfgang Held
Ed: Scott Davids & James Thomas
Mus: Erran Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen (Brüno Gehard)

Virtually a retread of 2006's Borat, with Sacha Baron Cohen giving his lesser known television character a big screen outing. It's more obvious with this film however that some of the scenes are staged. Works as a satire on how celebrity-obsessed people will do anything to be famous & how conservative and strict the bible belt of America is. A good amount of funny scenes but too many leave a bad taste in the mouth.

"You Know The Legend, Now Learn The Truth."
"You Know The Legend, Now Learn The Truth."


D: Don Coscarelli

Vitagraph/Silver Sphere (Don Coscarelli & Jason R. Savage)

🇺🇸 2002 (released 2003)

92 mins


W: Don Coscarelli [based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale]

DP: Adam Janeiro

Ed: Scott J. Gill & Donald Milne

Mus: Brian Tyler

Bruce Campbell (Elvis Presley / Sebastian Haff), Ossie Davis (Jack 'John F.' Kennedy), Ella Joyce (The Nurse), Heidi Marnhout (Callie Thomas), Bob Ivy (Bubba Ho-Tep)

Based on a story from an 'alternative history novella', Bubba Ho-Tep spent a year on various festival circuits before a lot of campaigning by the filmmakers and the cast, as well as a good cult following, saw it eventually pick up a distributor and get a cinema release.

The story is set in a Texas nursing home, where one of the residents is a man claiming to be Elvis Presley (the Elvis who died in 1977 was impersonator Sebastian Haff, whom the real Elvis swapped lives with). Elvis strikes up a friendship with an African-American who thinks he's John F. Kennedy. Together, the duo battle an ancient Egyptian Mummy, named Bubba Ho-Tep, who is terrorising the nursing home to absorb the life-force of its victims.

Though the storyline is complete and utter nonsense, the style is very much in the vein of John Carpenter's movies of the 1980's (Big Trouble In Little China, They Live, etc.), as well as highlighting a theme in modern culture that the elderly are not given ample attention or taken seriously enough. 

It's mad as a box of frogs, but great fun with a hilarious lead performance from the self-proclaimed 'King of the B-Movie', Bruce Campbell.


D: Rob Reiner
Warner Bros. (Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Alan Greisman & Rob Reiner)
🇺🇸 2007
93 mins


W: Justin Zackham
DP: John Schwartzman
Ed: Robert Leighton
Mus: Marc Shaiman

Jack Nicholson (Edward Cole), Morgan Freeman (Carter Chambers), Sean Hayes (Thomas / Matthew), Rob Morrow (Dr. Hollins), Alfonso Freeman (Roger Chambers)

Two terminal cancer sufferers form a friendship and create a "bucket list", a list of things they'd like to do before they "kick the bucket". 
For the most part, the balance between comedy and poignancy is perfect, with Jack Nicholson's cynical millionaire a good partnership with Morgan Freeman's wise old sage. There's also a couple of really bittersweet moments and the message of making the most of our days comes across well, as does the message of forming friendships in the most extraordinary of circumstances. I'd have found this film slightly more powerful without the over-sentimental and sappy final 10-15 minutes. It just seemed forced and cliched to me.
Nevertheless, a decent crowd-pleasing  comedy-drama. 

"Music Never Felt This Good."
"Music Never Felt This Good."
D: Steve Rash
Columbia/Innovisions/ECS (Freddy Bauer)
🇺🇸 1978
113 mins
W: Robert Gittler
DP: Stevan Larner
Ed: David Blewitt
Mus: Joe Renzetti
Gary Busey (Buddy Holly), Don Stroud (Jesse), Charles Martin Smith (Ray Bob), Conrad Janis (Ross Turner), Bill Jordan (Riley Randolph), Maria Richwine (Maria Elena Holly)

Decent B-movie biopic of the rock & roll legend featuring a barnstorming performance from Gary Busey as the singer-songwriter.
Due to budgetary constraints (and not having the relevant cinema rights) there are only two Crickets (Holly's backing group) instead of the real-life three and their names have been changed. It's all cosmetic however as the main focus of the story is on Buddy himself, brilliantly portrayed by Busey who also sang all the classic songs himself.
"Pert. Wholesome. Way lethal."
"Pert. Wholesome. Way lethal."
D: Fran Rubell Kuzui
20th Century Fox/Sandollar (Kaz Kazui & Howard Rosenman)
🇺🇸 1992
94 mins
W: Joss Whedon
DP: James Hayman
Ed: Camilla Toniolo, Jill Savitt & Richard Candib
Mus: Carter Burwell
Kristy Swanson (Buffy Summers), Donald Sutherland (Merrick Jamison-Smythe), Luke Perry (Oliver Pike), Paul Reubens (Amilyn/Lefty), Rutger Hauer (Lothos), Hilary Swank (Kimberly Hannah), David Arquette (Benny Jacks)
A high school student discovers she is a chosen vampire slayer and protects her neighbourhood from a group of bloodsuckers who terrorise the area.
This film inspired a TV series which was broadcast five years later. The TV show has far more laughs, more sex appeal and was generally more entertaining.
The film is rather poor in all honesty, but it does have a small cult following (mostly avid fans of the TV programme)

D: John Lasseter
Disney/Pixar (Darla K. Anderson & Kevin Reher)
🇺🇸 1998
96 mins
W: Andrew Stanton, Donald McEnery, Bob Shaw, John Lasseter & Joe Ranft
Mus: Randy Newman
Voices of: Dave Foley (Flik), Kevin Spacey (Hopper), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Princess Atta), Hayden Panettiere (Dot), Phyllis Diller (Queen), Richard Kind (Molt), David Hyde Pierce (Slim) 

Pixar's second computer-animated feature following Toy Story has a story which bears comparison to Dreamworks' own computer-animated feature, Antz, released the same year and with an incredibly similar storyline.
A worker ant & a group of circus bugs try to overthrow a gang of threatening grasshoppers. 
I'd have to say that out of the two, Antz is the better movie. This has its moments but simply isn't as memorable as other Pixar flicks.

BUGSY (18)
D: Barry Levinson
Columbia Tristar/Baltimore/Mulholland/Desert Vision (Mark Johnson, Barry Levinson & Warren Beatty)
🇺🇸 1991
135 mins


W: James Toback [based on the book "We Only Kill Each Other: The Life & Times Of Bugsy Siegel" by Dean Jennings]
DP: Allen Davieu
Ed: Stu Linder
Mus: Ennio Morricone
PD: Dennis Gassner
Cos: Albert Wolsky

Warren Beatty (Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel), Annette Bening (Virginia Hill), Harvey Keitel (Mickey Cohen), Ben Kingsley (Meyer Lansky), Elliott Gould (Harry Greenberg), Joe Mantegna (George Raft), Richard Sarafian (Jack Dragna), Bebe Neuwirth (Countess DiFrasso), Giancarlo Scandiluzzi (Count DiFrasso), Wendy Phillips (Esta Siegel)

Partly romantisized biopic of mobster Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel featuring arguably Warren Beatty's best ever performance as the gangster who originally visualised the Las Vegas it is today, much to the dismay of the hierarchy whose money he squandered on the Flamingo Casino & Hotel, a much-criticised white elephant when it first opened it's doors in the 1950's.
Barry Levinson directs the period well, with studious art direction, costumes, makeup and hairstyling, while Ben Kingsley, Harvey Keitel, Annette Bening and Elliott Gould deliver excellent supporting performances.
One of the film's best scenes comes in the opening hour when 'Bugsy' discovers one of his henchmen has been skimming funds and forces him to crawl like the devious, conniving, trecherous pig that his is. 
Who'd have thought the usually rather wooden Warren Beatty could play threatening quite so menacingly?! An acting tour de force.

D: Alan Parker
Paramount (Alan Marshall)
🇬🇧 1976
93 mins


W: Alan Parker
DP: Michael Seresin & Peter Biziou
Ed: Gerry Hambling
Mus: Paul Williams
PD: Geoffrey Kirkland
Cos: Monica Howe

Scott Baio (Bugsy Malone), Jodie Foster (Tallulah), Florrie Dugger (Blousey), John Cassisi (Fat Sam), Paul Murphy (Leroy), Albin Jenkins (Fizzy), Martin Lev (Dandy Dan), Davidson Knight (Knuckles), Paul Chirelstein (Smolsky), Paul Besterman (Yonkers)

Musical gangster film unlike any other, with an all-juvenile cast playing the parts of the mobsters with tommy guns firing cream instead of bullets. The story follows gang wars and molls, much the way any other gangster film would, but is standout simply because of its original take on casting children.
A film like this would probably be frowned on nowadays, but was a mini-classic of its time.
"A major league love story in a minor league town."
"A major league love story in a minor league town."
D: Ron Shelton
Rank/Orion (Thom Mount & Mark Burg)
🇺🇸 1988
108 mins
W: Ron Shelton
DP: Bobby Byrne
Ed: Robert Leighton
Mus: Michael Convertino
PD: Armin Ganz
Kevin Costner (Crash Davis), Susan Sarandon (Annie Savoy), Tim Robbins (Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh), Trey Wilson (Joe 'Skip' Riggins), Robert Wuhl (Larry Hockett), Jenny Robertson (Millie)
Baseball comedy featuring a great Susan Sarandon performance as an English teacher caught in a love triangle with a dumb rookie and an experienced but gruff ball player.
Even with a limited interest in baseball, this is a decent sports comedy, livened by its actors' performances rather than the love of the game. 

D: Ernest Dickerson
Universal (Robert Simonds)
🇺🇸 1996
85 mins
W: Joe Gayton & Lewis Colick
DP: Steven Bernstein
Ed: George Folsey, Jr.
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
Damon Wayans (Rock Keats / Jack Carter), Adam Sandler (Archie Moses), James Caan (Frank Colton), Jeep Swenson (Bledsoe), James Farentino (Capt. Will Jenson)
A car thief discovers that his new partner is an undercover cop.
Cliche-ridden action comedy which offers nothing new on the same old chestnut.  Even Adam Sandler fans would be hard pressed to enjoy this, his performance is completely atrocious.

"A monk. A punk. A chick. A kick-ass flick."
"A monk. A punk. A chick. A kick-ass flick."
D: Paul Hunter
MGM/Pathé/Lakeshore (Charles Roven, Douglas Segal, Terence Chang & John Woo)
🇺🇸 2003
104 mins
W: Ethan Rieff & Cyrus Voris
DP: Stefan Czapsky
Ed: Robert K. Lambert
Mus: Eric Serra
Chow Yun-Fat (The Nameless Monk), Seann William Scott (Kar), Jaime King (Jade / Bad Girl)
A monk, a punk, a chick.  A kick-ass flick.     
Erm... No.  The tagline should have read: A monk, a punk, a chick. A piece of shit.
This Matrix-ripoff pairs a martial arts expert monk with a pair of street punks. Surprisingly, there isn't much bullet-dodging.
I really can't understand why Seann William Scott got so many parts at the turn of the century.  He was an absolute tool in the American Pie films and was hailed as the young Jim Carrey. He isn't.

D: Woody Allen
Miramax/Magnolia/Sweetland (Robert Greenhut)
🇺🇸 1994
99 mins


W: Woody Allen & Douglas McGrath
DP: Carlo DiPalma
Ed: Susan E. Morse
PD: Santo Loquasto
Cos: Jeffrey Kurland

John Cusack (David Shayne), Jack Warden (Julian Marx), Chazz Palminteri (Cheech), Joe Viterelli (Nick Valenti), Jennifer Tilly (Olive Neal), Rob Reiner (Sheldon Flender), Mary Louise Parker (Ellen), Dianne Wiest (Helen Sinclair), Jim Broadbent (Warner Purcell), Harvey Fierstein (Sid Loomis)

In 1920's New York, a neurotic playwright has his new play funded by a gangster on the condition that his moll can perform in it. However , her acting skills are absolutely atrocious and she can't remember her lines, putting the entire production in peril. That is, until her surprisingly smart bodyguard steps in to rewrite the dialogue, much to the annoyance of the original writer.
This is possibly Woody Allen's finest and funniest film since Annie Hall, the screenplay hits all the right notes, while Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Tilly and Chazz Palminteri all try their utmost to scene-steal with brilliantly over-the-top performances, particularly Tilly as the dumb-as-a-rock gangster's moll.
D: Peter Yates
Warner Bros. (Philip D'Antoni)
🇺🇸 1968
113 mins
W: Alan R. Trustman & Harry Kleiner [based on the novel 'Mute Witness' by Robert L. Pike]
DP: William A. Fraker
Ed: Frank P. Keller
Mus: Lalo Schifrin
Steve McQueen (Frank Bullitt), Robert Vaughn (Chalmers), Jacqueline Bisset (Cathy), Don Gordon (Delgetti), Robert Duvall (Weissberg), Simon Oakland (Capt. Bennett), Norman Fell (Baker)

Steve McQueen is the epitome of cool in this slick, stylish and seminal crime thriller.             

He plays Lt. Frank Bullitt, a reputable detective who is given the task of looking after a government witness until a court trial, but when the witness is killed by two gunmen, Bullitt tracks the killers and discovers there's more to the case.

The story is quite unremarkable by today's standards, with similar variations in practically every TV episode of CSI and other such programmes, but considering this was made in 1968, it set an impressive bar for others to follow.

McQueen is fantastic with a rather emotionless & professional character which the script calls for and Peter Yates direction builds up the tension for some classic action set pieces, including THAT car chase.


"Three cons. One heist. No rules."
"Three cons. One heist. No rules."
D: Michael Winner
Castle Premier (Michael Winner)
🇺🇸 1990
92 mins
W: Leslie Bricusse, Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran
DP: Alan Jones
Ed: Terry Rawlings
Mus: John du Prez
Michael Caine (Sidney Lipton / Daniel Hicklar), Roger Moore (Gerald Bradley-Smith / Sir John Bavistock), Sally Kirkland (Willie)
Not a fun comedy about darts, but a tedious crime caper about two con men who impersonate crooked rocket scientists. 
The performances are abysmal, it's totally unfunny and the director's career really shouldn't have lasted longer than the 1970's.

"Every adventure has a beginning."
"Every adventure has a beginning."


D: Travis Knight

Paramount/Allspark/Tencent (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Bay, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy & Mark Vahradian)

🇺🇸 2018

114 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Christina Hodson [based on Transformers characters created by Hasbro]

DP: Enrique Chediak

Ed: Paul Rubell

Mus: Dario Marianelli

Hailee Steinfeld (Charlie Watson), John Cena (Jack Burns), Jorge Lendeborg, Jr. (Memo), Pamela Adlon (Sally Watson), Dylan O'Brien (voice of Bumblebee), Peter Cullen (voice of Optimus Prime)

I'm going to start this review by saying that this is the Transformers movie we should have had 11 years earlier, instead of the Michael Bay action smut which just got sillier and sillier with each movie.

Though Bumblebee has a good action quotient, it does have a very endearing and relatable story at its centre, as well as a nostalgic callback to 1987, when the Transformers toys and merchandise were at the peak of their popularity. 

Hailee Steinfeld plays the lead character, a misfit teenager viewed as sulky by her mother and stepdad following the loss of her biological father. On her 18th birthday, she acquires a beaten up Volkswagen Beetle which she fixes up, only to bring to life the title character, a survivor from a robotic war on the planet Cybertron, sent to Earth by his leader Optimus Prime as a scout.  The bad guys (Decepticons) also make their way to Earth to find Bumblebee in the hope that they will also find Optimus Prime, leading onto some firecracker action set pieces which, for once in a Transformers movie, can be viewed without wondering what the actual hell is going on.

The plot is practically a mix between E.T. & Real Steel, but without Michael Bay's seedy sexualisation of the material, it has a childlike wonder which the other movies lacked, as well as a rather human relationship between Charlie and her robotic companion.

I understand that there are people who like Bay's Transformers movies, but I will never understand why... as a child I grew up as a fan of the toys, television serial and the 1986 movie and this is the movie I was anticipating back in 2007. With any luck, this instalment will retcon all them movies - this is a real Transformers movie.


D: Otto Preminger
Columbia/Wheel (Otto Preminger)
🇬🇧 1965
107 mins


W: John Mortimer & Penelope Mortimer [based on the novel by Evelyn Piper]
DP: Denys Coop
Ed: Peter Thornton
Mus: Paul Glass

Carol Lynley (Ann Lake), Keir Dullea (Steven Lake), Laurence Olivier (Superintendent Newhouse), Martita Hunt (Ada Ford), Anna Massey (Elvira Smollett)

An underrated but uneven British produced mystery, full of style but an unconvincing ending feels out of place with the build-up.
A newly arrived American woman in London attends a school to collect her daughter on her first day but she has disappeared, as has every proof of her ever existing.
For the most part, this mystery feels like a Hitchcock film, where it plays with a psychological aspect of the lead female character's mind. Carol Lynley very much holds her own against Laurence Olivier, who comes close to stealing the whole movie. It's only Keir Dullea's character which feels out of place in an otherwise good thriller.

"He's a man of peace in a savage land... Suburbia."
"He's a man of peace in a savage land... Suburbia."
D: Joe Dante
Universal/Imagine (Michael Finnell & Larry Brezner)
🇺🇸 1989
102 mins
W: Dana Olsen
DP: Robert M. Stevens
Ed: Marshall Harvey
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: James Spencer
Tom Hanks (Ray Peterson), Bruce Dern (Lt. Mark Rumsfeld), Carrie Fisher (Carol Peterson), Rick Ducommun (Art Weingartner), Corey Feldman (Ricky Butler), Wendy Schaal (Bonnie Rumsfeld), Henry Gibson (Dr. Werner Klopek), Brother Theodore (Uncle Ruben Klopek)
Bizarre black comedy about a group of neighbours who suspect the new family in their neighbourhood are guilty of foul play.
It's an unusual film for director Joe Dante and a very talented cast to be involved with. The script only has one joke and runs with it for the 102 minute running time. The Fantastic opening shot which zoom into the suburbs from the Universal logo is possibly the highlight of the entire movie.

"Intelligence is relative."
"Intelligence is relative."
D: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Focus Features/Relativity Media/Studio Canal/Working Title (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)
🇺🇸 2008
96 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
DP: Emmanuel Lubezki
Ed: Roderick Jaynes
Mus: Carter Burwell

George Clooney (Harry Pfarrer), Frances McDormand (Linda Litzke), John Malkovich (Osbourne Cox), Tilda Swinton (Katie Cox), Richard Jenkins (Ted Treffon), Brad Pitt (Chad Feldheimer)

It could easily be said of all their works, that if you're not a fan of the Coen Brothers movies, you probably won't like them. They seem to be the masters of the shaggy dog story, but their films are likely to infuriate just as equally as they will entertain.
Burn After Reading is a black comedy which follows an unusual and complicated plot in the world of the CIA, paranoia and espionage.
It isn't quite up to the usual standards of Coen Brothers films, but still makes an amusing black comedy/satire about both the incompetency of the government and the price people pay for plastic surgery. 
The acting is particularly good from the main members of the cast and there's enough here to satisfy the Coen Brother's biggest fans, though those who aren't too familiar with their work will see this as a 96-minute waste of their time.

D: George Roy Hill
20th Century Fox/Campanile (Paul Monash & John Foreman)
🇺🇸 1969
112 mins


W: William Goldman
DP: Conrad L. Hall
Ed: John C. Howard & Richard C. Meyer
Mus: Burt Bacharach
PD: Jack Martin Smith & Philip Jeffries
Cos: Edith Head

Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy), Robert Redford (The Sundance Kid), Katherine Ross (Etta Place), Strother Martin (Percy Garris), Jeff Corey (Sheriff Bledsoe), George Furth (Woodcock), Cloris Leachman (Agnes), Ted Cassidy (Harvey Logan)

One of the definitive Westerns of all time, mainly due to the on-screen partnership of Paul Newman & Robert Redford as the Wild West outlaws, no less helped by the cracking dialogue of William Goldman's screenplay.
It's rare genius for a movie to make you root for the bad guys, and you certainly do here, especially at the film's climax.
The only narrative slack arrives in a scene involving Paul Newman, Katharine Ross, a bicycle and the song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", ironically one of the film's most memorable scenes, along with the brilliant "I can't swim" classic scene and the final shoot-out in Bolivia.

D: Neil Jordan
Geffen (Redmond Morris & Stephen Woolley)     
🇮🇪 1997
106 mins


W: Neil Jordan & Patrick McCabe [based on the novel by Patrick McCabe]
DP: Adrian Biddle
Ed: Tony Lawson
Mus: Elliott Goldenthal
PD: Anthony Pratt
Cos: Sandy Powell

Stephen Rea ('Da'), Fiona Shaw (Mrs. Nugent), Eamonn Owens (Francis Brady), Alan Boyle (Joe Purcell), Aisling O'Sullivan ('Ma'), Sinead O'Connor (The Virgin Mary), Andrew Fullerton (Philip), Patrick McCabe (Jimmy The Skite)

Eamonn Owens is absolutely fantastic as Francis Brady in this darkly comic drama based on the novel by Patrick McCabe about a rebellious boy growing up in 1960's Ireland. Son of an alcoholic father and a mother who makes frequent trips to the funny farm, young Francis gets up to all the usual mischief a boy of his age gets up to, with a tendency to go one step too far with his pranks and shenanigans. One of his cruel tricks sees him taken into psychiatric care where he descends even further into mania.
It's a brilliantly captivating performance from the young lad and Neil Jordan's meticulous direction captures the period perfectly.

"One quiet voice can ignite a revolution."
"One quiet voice can ignite a revolution."
D: Lee Daniels
The Weinstein Company (Lee Daniels, Laura Ziskin, Pamela Oas Williams, Buddy Patrick & Cassian Elwes)
🇺🇸 2012
132 mins
W: Danny Strong [based on the book "A Butler Well Served By This Election" by Will Haygood]
DP: Andrew Dunn
Ed: Joe Klotz
Mus: Rodrigo Leão
Forest Whitaker (Cecil Gaines), Oprah Winfrey (Gloria Gaines), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), Jane Fonda (Nancy Reagan), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Carter Wilson), Terrence Howard (Howard), Lenny Kravitz (James Holloway), James Marsden (John F. Kennedy), David Oyelowo (Louis Gaines), Vanessa Redgrave (Annabeth Westfall), Alan Rickman (Ronald Reagan), Liev Schreiber (Lyndon B. Johnson), Robin Williams (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
Forest Whitaker plays the butler of the title, Cecil Gaines, whose career in The White House sees him serve for a number of different presidents, brought to the screen by some first choice casting decisions in addition to some great makeup work. 
Whilst Cecil witnesses the changing world from those in charge at Oval Office, his son becomes involved in his own civil rights war by joining the Black Panther group.
The film squeezes a lot of history into its running time, which is only really beneficial if you actually know the history. You won't learn anything new from this story.
Despite this minor issue, it's a very well crafted drama, with a superb performance from Whitaker, though the true plaudits belong to Oprah Winfrey, who gives a stunning display as an actress as Cecil's wife, Gloria Gaines. It's almost a crime that she was     snubbed of an Oscar nomination for her performance.

"Change one thing. Change everything."
"Change one thing. Change everything."
D: J. Mackye Gruber & Eric Bress
New Line (Chris Bender, A. J. Dix, Anthony Rhulen & J. C. Spink)
🇺🇸 🇨🇦 2003 (released 2004)
113 mins
Science Fiction/Thriller
W: J. Mackye Gruber & Eric Bress
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Peter Amundson
Mus: Michael Suby
Ashton Kutcher (Evan Treborn), Amy Smart (Kayleigh Miller), Eric Stoltz (George Miller), William Lee Scott (Tommy Miller), Elden Henson (Lenny Kagan)
I actually enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. It handles the concept of space-time continuum and the theory of the butterfly effect very well, although I think it's been done a lot better in other films (12 Monkeys, Donnie Darko, et al).  On the whole, it was a good movie, but would have got a better rating if Ashton Kutcher's character was replaced with somebody     capable of delivering a more convincing acting performance. He's okay when the script doesn't ask him to do much, but watching him try to elicit any kind of emotion borders on laughable.
Two sequels followed, as well as a director's cut with an alternative ending.