D: Michael Chapman
Warner Bros./PSO/Guber-Peters (Gerald Isenberg)
🇺🇸 1986
98 mins
W: John Sayles [based on the novel by Jean M. Auel]
DP: Jan de Bont
Ed: Wendy Greene Bricmont
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Anthony Masters
Daryl Hannah (Ayla), Pamela Reed (Iza), James Remar (Creb), Thomas G. Waites (Broud)

A blonde Neanderthal woman is ostracised from her tribe for rebelling against the male superiority and adopted by a dark-haired clan, who consider her ugly.
Aside from a decent performance from Daryl Hannah and some impressive makeup effects, this is a rather lacklustre and boring film with characters it's difficult to connect with. It tries to make some sort of point against male chauvinism, but it doesn't really work when all the characters communicate with only sign language and grunts.

D: Desmond Davies
MGM (Charles H. Schneer & Ray Harryheusen)
🇬🇧 1981
118 mins
W: Beverly Cross
DP: Ted Moore
Ed: Timothy Gee
Mus: Laurence Rosenthal
PD: Frank White
Harry Hamlin (Perseus), Laurence Olivier (Zeus), Claire Bloom (Hera), Maggie Smith (Thetis), Ursula Andress (Aphrodite), Jack Gwillim (Poseidon), Judi Bowker (Andromeda), Burgess Meredith (Ammon), Siân Phillips (Cassiopeia)
A mishmash of Greek myth and legend, starring Harry Hamlin as Perseus, determined to face adventurous danger and deadly mythical creatures as he fights for the love of Andromeda.
The story is a hodge-podge which works better than one would expect, with a throwback to fantasy films of yesteryear with Ray Harryheusen's stop-motion visual effects featuring prominently.  They mightn't be appreciated by the generation of kids nowadays, but they are themselves a work of cinematic art and this film is a marvellous showcase for them.

D: Louis Leterrier
Warner Bros./Legendary (Richard D. Zanuck, Basil Iwanyk & Kevin De La Noy)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2010
96 mins


W: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi [based on the 1981 screenplay by Beverly Cross]
DP: Peter Menzies, Jr.
Ed: Martin Walsh & Vincent Tabaillon
Mus: Ramin Djawadi

Sam Worthington (Perseus), Gemma Arterton (Io), Mads Mikkelson (Draco), Alexa Davalos (Andromeda), Liam Neeson (Zeus), Ralph Fiennes (Hades)

The original 1981 movie is far from perfect and has dated rather badly, but at the time of its original release it seemed the perfect swansong to Ray Harryheusen's stop motion visual effects which were considered revolutionary when first put into effect during cinema's golden age.
The fact that the original's effects now look cheesy and dated doesn't justify a remake, especially one which dumps all over the Greek legends upon which it was based in order to appear more like an unofficial Lord Of The Rings sequel.
Considering the original film took liberties with legend and thrust a questionable metal owl character into the plot was hardly Grade A filmmaking but the CGI visual effects in this are barely any better, while the acting performances are even worse. Sam Worthington (and his terrible accent) is completely miscast and I always expect much better from brilliant actors like Liam Neeson (who is given hardly anything to do but stand around and occasionally release a kraken) and Ralph Fiennes (fresh off the Harry Potter set, it would seem).
If you want to watch Lord Of The Rings, watch Lord Of The Rings. If you want to watch Clash Of The Titans, watch the 1981 version.

CLASS (15)
D: Lewis John Carlino
Orion (Martin Ransohoff)
🇺🇸 1983
98 mins
W: Jim Kouf & David Greenwalt
DP: Ric Waite
Ed: Stuart Pappe
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
Jacqueline Bisset (Ellen Burroughs), Rob Lowe (Franklin 'Skip' Burroughs), Andrew McCarthy (Jonathan Ogner), Cliff Robertson (Franklin Burroughs III), John Cusack (Roscoe Maibaum), Alan Ruck (Roger Jackson), Virginia Madsem (Lisa)
Following the huge successes of films like National Lampoon's Animal House and Porky's, more and more sex comedies of the 1980's seemed geared towards an adolescent audience, and the pattern continued with 1983's Risky Business and Class, amongst others.
In this film, a college freshman has an affair with an older woman who turns out to be his roommate's mother, causing a huge rift between the two students.
This teen-orientated comedy possibly got lost amongst many similar themed films from the same era and hasn't been remembered as fondly as the majority of them, which is a shame, since it's quite an enjoyable watch, but if you're looking for something with a little more class of a different kind, it may be best avoided.

"Truth needs a soldier."
"Truth needs a soldier."
D: Phillip Noyce
Paramount (Mace Neufeld & Robert Rehme)
🇺🇸 1994
141 mins


W: Donald Stewart, Steven Zaillian & John Milius [based on the novel by Tom Clancy]
DP: Donald McAlpine
Ed: Neil Travis
Mus: James Horner
PD: Terence Marsh

Harrison Ford (Jack Ryan), Willem Dafoe (John Clark), Anne Archer (Dr. Caroline Ryan), Henry Czerny (Bob Ritter), Joaquim da Almeida (Col. Felix Cortez), Harris Yulin (James Cutter), Donald Moffat (President Bennett), Miguel Sandoval (Ernesto Escobedo), James Earl Jones (Jim Greer)

The third Jack Ryan thriller from Tom Clancy's novels to reach the silver screen, following 1990's The Hunt For Red October and 1992's Patriot Games, the latter also starring Harrison Ford in the central role.
It's quite slowly paced and dialogue heavy until a handful of kinetic action scenes crank the volume up, the plot  concerning CIA agent Jack Ryan and his investigation of drug cartels in Colombia tied up with corruption within the US government.
The film will probably appeal more to fans of the authors work rather than mainstream movie fans or those simply wanting a good thriller. 
Though there are moments of tension, action and suspense, the film is mostly bogged down with a lot of tedium.
"Just because they serve you doesn't mean they like you."
"Just because they serve you doesn't mean they like you."
D: Kevin Smith
Artificial Eye/View Askew (Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier)
🇺🇸 1994
103 mins
W: Kevin Smith
DP: David Klein
Ed: Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier
Brian O'Halloran (Dante Hicks), Jeff Anderson (Randall Graves), Marilyn Ghigliotti (Veronica), Lisa Spoonauer (Caitlin Bree), Jason Mewes (Jay), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob)
Kevin Smith's debut feature is über-low-budget, filmed in an actual convenience store where Smith once plied his trade and the story is rather simple, but incredibly funny and memorable.
A placid convenience store clerk and his carefree friend both work on a regular Saturday afternoon and discuss topics ranging from girlfriends & sex to the Star Wars trilogy, whilst serving a strange array of customers causing a day full of mishaps and near chaos.
Despite not having very little story to run on, Smith's down-to-earth, realistic dialogue makes this one of the great comedies of the 1990's, a must watch for Generation X-ers and a great example of filmmaking on a shoestring budget (the film cost $27,000).

"With no power comes no responsibility."
"With no power comes no responsibility."
D: Kevin Smith
The Weinstein Company/View Askew (Scott Mosier)
🇺🇸 2006
93 mins
W: Kevin Smith
DP: David Klein
Ed: Kevin Smith
Mus: James L. Venable
Brian O'Halloran (Dante Hicks), Jeff Anderson (Randall Graves), Rosario Dawson (Becky), Trevor Fehrman (Elias), Jennifer Schwalbach (Emma), Jason Mewes (Jay), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob)
12 years after the events in the first movie and Dante & Randall are still unsatisfied with their prospective careers, this time working in a fast food outlet after the convenience store from the first film is burned down.
The conversations still revolve mostly around relationships, sex and movie favourites, but the dialogue seems more forced and less forthright from the first movie and a love story is stuffed in to make this more of a romcom than a Generation X rant about modern society (akin to the first film).
It does have some funny moments, but also feels like Kevin Smith is running low on ideas and therefore has to revisit his roots.

"What if you had a universal remote... that controlled your universe?"
"What if you had a universal remote... that controlled your universe?"

CLICK (12)

D: Frank Coraci

Columbia/Revolution/Happy Madison (Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Neal H. Moritz, Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Jake Hoffman & Jonah Hill)

🇺🇸 2006

107 mins


W: Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe

DP: Dean Semler

Ed: Jeff Gourson

Mus: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Adam Sandler (Michael Newman), Kate Beckinsale (Donna Newman), Christopher Walken (Morty, the Angel of Death), David Hasselhoff (Johnny Ammer), Henry Winkler (Theodore Newman)

Although I'm not a fan of Adam Sandler, Click was a pleasant surprise from the comedic actor's filmography. 

He plays Michael Newman, a workaholic architect who acquires a magical remote control which allows him to fast forward through dull or unpleasant moments of his life, however, the device takes on a mind of its own and fast-forwards Michael into a future where his wife has divorced him and his children have grown to resent him. 

Though the material is tailored for Adam Sandler's usual act, it does have a good message at its heart about not taking for granted the moments we spend with family and the convenience we tend to rely on with technology.

Perhaps the treatment deserves better than Adam Sandler's schtick, but it's fair to say that this could have been a lot worse. As is, it was good enough to be nominated for an Academy Award (for makeup). Still, considering its lead star, you wouldn't be harshly judged if you were to switch over.


D: Joel Schumacher
Warner Bros./Regency/Alcor (Arnon Milchan & Steven Reuther)
🇺🇸 1994
121 mins


W: Akiva Goldsman & Robert Getchell [based on the novel by John Grisham]
DP: Tony Pierce-Roberts
Ed: Robert Brown
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Bruno Rubeo

Susan Sarandon (Reggie Love), Tommy Lee Jones (Roy Foltrigg), Brad Renfro (Mark Sway), Mary-Louise Parker (Dianne Sway), Anthony LaPaglia (Barry Muldano), J.T. Walsh (Jason McThune)

An 11-year-old boy from the wrong side of the tracks finds himself having to hire a sassy female lawyer after witnessing a mob hit and both of them become hounded by the FBI as well as the mafia.     
Based on a novel by John Grisham during a point in the 1990's when many of his books were getting cinema adaptations, this is one of the better films based on his work, due in part to Susan Sarandon's excellent performance. She received a deserved Oscar nomination for her work.

D: Renny Harlin
Carolco/Canal/Pioneer (Alan Marshall & Renny Harlin)
🇺🇸 1993
112 mins
W: Michael France & Sylvester Stallone     
DP: Alex Thomson
Ed: Frank J. Urioste
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: John Vallone
Sylvester Stallone (Gabriel Walker), John Lithgow (Eric Qualen), Michael Rooker (Hal Tucker), Janine Turner (Jessie Deighan), Rex Linn (Travers), Caroline Goodall (Kristal), Leon (Kynette), Craig Fairbrass (Delmar), Ralph Waite (Frank)
Die Hard on a mountain. That's pretty much the entire story.
After a friend's girlfriend falls to her death during a rescue operation, mountain rescue ace Gabe Walker (Stallone) retires. He returns to the area a few years later when gangsters are trying to find loot after their plane performs crash-landing atop the snowy peaks.
It's all nonsense, with far too many scenes containing some truly terrible dialogue and John Lithgow delivering one of his poorest performances as an English(??) villain. Despite its many faults, which include crap acting, awful dialogue and an idiotic premise, it's still incredibly enjoyable, simply because of its high octane action scenes, edgy stuntwork and fantastic modelwork visual effects. Just make sure you remove brain before watching.

"Freeze the future."
"Freeze the future."
D: Jonathan Frakes
Paramount/Nickelodeon/Valhalla (Gale Anne Hurd & Julia Pistor)
🇺🇸 2002
94 mins
Science Fiction/Adventure
W: Rob Hedden, J. David Stern & David N. Weiss
DP: Tim Suhrstedt
Ed: Peter E. Berger & Jeff W. Canavan
Mus: Jamsheid Sharifi

Jesse Bradford (Zak Gibbs), French Stewart (Earl Dopler), Paula Garces (Francesca), Michael Biehn (Henry Gates), Robin Thomas (Dr. George Gibbs), Julia Sweeney (Jenny Gibbs)
A teenager discovers a device which has the ability to make time stand still.
Despite some good visual effects, the film and storyline pander only to a teenage audience and alienates everyone else, but considering the film was co-produced by Nickelodeon, perhaps this should be expected.
It's a shame that a promising idea is put to waste with no real style or energy, better investment and more focus could have ensured a more timeless film, rather than something completely forgettable.

D: Christopher Morahan
EMI/Moment (Michael Codrin)
🇬🇧 1986
97 mins


W: Michael Frayn
DP: John Coquillon
Ed: Peter Boyle
Mus: George Fenton

John Cleese (Brian Stimpson), Alison Steadman (Gwenda Stimpson), Penelope Wilton (Pat)

A waste of John Cleese. 
He plays an obsessively organised and punctual headmaster who is running late for a conference in the English countryside and faces a road trip from hell with one of his pupils driving him to his destination.
It has occasional moments of comedy but nothing that particularly sticks out. Cleese really deserved better.

"Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven."
"Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven."
D: Stanley Kubrick
Warner Bros./Polaris (Stanley Kubrick)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 1971
137 mins

Science Fiction/Crime

W: Stanley Kubrick [based on the novel by Anthony Burgess]
DP: John Alcott
Ed: Bill Butler
Mus: Walter Carlos
PD: John Barry
Cos: Milena Canonero

Malcolm McDowell (Alex DeLarge), Patrick Magee (Frank Alexander), Michael Bates (Chief Guard Barnes), Warren Clarke (Dim), Adrienne Corri (Mary Alexander), Carl Duering (Dr. Brodsky)

A difficult and repulsive watch, but not many can deny its brilliance.  
Set in an unconfirmed year in Britain's future where wretched violence is rife, a young gangster guilty of rape and murder obtains early release from his prison sentence on the condition that he participates in an brainwashing experiment which renders him inert if he develops any violent or sociopathic thoughts.  He then rejoins a society far more violent and unfriendly than the one he left when he was first incarcerated.
Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece boasts an excellent performance from Malcolm McDowell as über-villain Alex DeLarge, who achieves the near impossible of making you care for an unsympathetic character almost beyond redemption throughout the first act.  The futuristic visions are so close to being spot on it's difficult to class this in the Science Fiction genre, but more a psychological thriller.  Those who can get through it's most gruesome scenes will certainly agree that it is one of the best movies of the 1970's, if not ever.  It's certainly not for the squeamish though.  Real horrorshow, my droogs.
D: Steven Spielberg
Columbia (Julia Phillips & Michael Phillips)
🇺🇸 1977
135 mins
Science Fiction
W: Steven Spielberg
DP: Vilmos Zsigmond
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Joe Alves
Richard Dreyfuss (Roy Neary), Francois Truffaut (Claude Lacombe), Teri Garr (Ronnie Neary), Melinda Dillon (Jillian Guiler), Cary Guffey (Barry Guiler), Bob Balaban (Laughlin)
A classic science fiction film from Steven Spielberg.  
A series of UFO sightings and government cover-ups effect residents of Indiana differently. A working-class family man ostracises his wife and kids in his descent into craziness to uncover the truth, whilst a single mother is desperate to locate her young son, who appears to have been abducted by an alien species.
Enjoyment is heavily dependant on which version of the film you watch.  The director's cut is probably more accessable for everyone, but the original theatrical version has the longer build-up and much higher tension. The final 30 minutes are simply amazing, with brilliant special effects and memorable John Williams' music.

D: Nick Park
BBC/Aardman (Carla Shelley & Michael Rose)
🇬🇧 1995
30 mins
W: Bob Baker & Nick Park
Mus: Julian Nott
Voices of: Peter Sallis (Wallace), Anne Reid (Wendolene)
Third of the Wallace & Gromit movies, following A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers.
In this one, Gromit is framed for murder whilst Wallace falls in love and the two of them uncover a sheep-rustling scam.
Great animated slapstick and perfect viewing for a wet and windy afternoon.

"If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking."
"If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking."
D: Mike Nichols
Columbia (Mike Nichols, John Calley & Cary Brokaw)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 2004
100 mins
W: Patrick Marber [based on his play]
DP: Stephen Goldblatt
Ed: John Bloom & Antonia Van Drimmelen
PD: Tim Hatley
Julia Roberts (Anna), Jude Law (Dan), Clive Owen (Larry), Natalie Portman (Alice)
Those expecting a sweet, cutesy romcom may feel both disappointed and shocked, for this is anything but. It's a warts & all look at sex, relationships, affairs and break-ups. Clive Owen & Natalie Portman are absolutely fantastic but Jude Law & Julia Roberts have slightly underwritten characters but try their best, although it's difficult with the former duo in barnstorming form. Mike Nichols directs an earnest, frank drama with a poignant and witty script which bites to the core with it's cutting, rapacious and borderline-misogynistic dialogue.
"Discover the love of a lifetime."
"Discover the love of a lifetime."
D: Richard Attenborough
The Works (Richard Attenborough & Jo Gilbert)
🇬🇧 🇨🇦 2007
117 mins
W: Peter Woodward
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Lesley Walker
Mus: Jeff Danna
Shirley MacLaine (Ethel Ann), Christopher Plummer (Jack), Mischa Barton (Young Ethel Ann), Stephen Amell (Teddy Gordon), Neve Campbell (Marie), Pete Postlethwaite (Michael Quinlan), Brenda Fricker (Grandma Reilly), Gregory Smith (Young Jack)

An Irish boy finds a WWII pilots wedding ring and traces the late airman's widow, setting up a story told in flashback of the two young lovers, marrying before he goes off to duty.
This romance weepie is very much in the same vein as 2004's The Notebook (qv), but feels a bit forced in moments. Some of the performances are good and Mischa Barton bares her boobies, but it's not particularly memorable, despite being well-intentioned and professionally produced and directed.

"Everything is connected."
"Everything is connected."
D: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer
Warner Bros. (Grant Hill, Stefan Arndt, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer)
🇩🇪 🇺🇸 2012
172 mins

Science Fiction

W: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer [based on the novel by David Mitchell]
DP: Frank Griebe & John Toll
Ed: Alexander Berner
Mus: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer
PD: Hugh Bateup & Uli Hanisch
Cos: Kym Barrett & Pierre-Yves Gayraud

Tom Hanks (Zachry / various other characters), Halle Berry (Luisa Ray / various), Jim Broadbent (Timothy Cavendish / various), Jim Sturgess (Adam Ewing / various), Doona Bae (Sonmi 451 / various), Ben Whishaw (Robert Frobisher / various), Hugo Weaving (various characters), Hugh Grant (various), Keith David (various), James D'Arcy (various), Xun Zhou (various), David Gyasi (various), Susan Sarandon (various)

Based on the award-winning novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas is a thought-provoking and intricately profound masterpiece which I'd put amongst such sci-fi classics as 2001: A Space Odyssey. 
This movie certainly isn't for wandering minds though & if you don't make it through the first ten minutes, you won't make it through the movie at all.  It features six very different stories all set during different periods of time (late 1700's, early 1900's, 1970's, Present Day, The 22nd Century & A Post-Apocalyptic Age) and all these stories all seem to have a common link, even though you're questioning their right too.
The main cast members all play several characters, at least one in each story (more or less), all through the aid of some spectacular makeup transformation enabling them to embody the various portrayals, while the hauntingly beautiful music score works wonderfully throughout the entire anthology, tying it all together as the final puzzle pieces slot into place. 
This movie will question beliefs on both religious hypotheses and the theory of both reincarnation and legacy.  More importantly, it's a story about the power of inspiration, how it can shape and form the next generation and the importance of learning from historical events.
It's a long, complex movie, which might put a lot of people off with the non-linear narrative, but I would urge those people to stick with it, as it's a brilliantly structured allegorical fable on upsetting the natural order of things.
Quite possibly the best (and most underrated) film of 2012.
"Some Thing Has Found Us"
"Some Thing Has Found Us"
D: Matt Reeves
Paramount/Bad Robot (J. J. Abrams & Bryan Burk)
🇺🇸 2007
81 mins
Science Fiction
W: Drew Goddard
DP: Michael Bonvillain
Ed: Kevin Stitt
PD: Martin Whist
Lizzy Caplan (Marlena Diamond), Jessica Lucas (Lily Ford), T.J. Miller (Hudson Platt) Michael Stahl-David (Robert Hawkins), Mike Vogel (Jason Hawkins)
A Godzilla-like creature attacks New York City and the event is presented via home video style footage, following an opening act set at a leaving party where nothing of particular consequence really happens... until the moment the city comes under attack.
A landmark film in regards to its experimental concept, visually it's amazing as well as quite uncomfortable & nauseating to watch, though this style creates an atmosphere which sucks you in and make you feel as if you're experiencing the disastrous occurences for real. It's as frustrating as it is thrilling, however, with no explanation to the creatures origin... The only reference comes from the minimal dialogue ''It's a terrible thing" and "It's winning"! A few scenes require you to reach for the pause or rewind buttons so you can try and fathom what it is you did or didn't see, and some of the dialogue is inaudible, but that doesn't matter too much as it's not a conversation-driven film. It is however, the finest science-fiction horror movie released from the United States in many years. The film received heavy criticism in some circles for exploiting the horrors of 9/11, which I think is particularly unfair.
CLUE (15)
D: Jonathan Lynn
Paramount/Guber-Peters (Debra Hill)
🇺🇸 1985
87 mins
W: Jonathan Lynn
DP: Victor J. Kemper
Mus: John Morris
PD: John Lloyd
Tim Curry (Wandsworth), Eileen Brennan (Mrs. Peacock), Madeline Kahn (Mrs. White), Christopher Lloyd (Prof. Plum), Martin Mull (Col. Mustard); Michael McKean (Mr. Green), Lesley Ann Warren (Ms. Scarlet)
An attempt to bring the popular board game (known as Cluedo in the UK) to the big screen. 
It's all a bit of a mess with comedy which veers from satire to farce and is ultimately a load of nonsense which follows virtually the same plot as Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.
In keeping up with the mystery of the board game, the film had three alternative endings, all of which would vary from screening to screening in different cinemas during its original theatrical run, which I personally think is an excellent twist. Unfortunately, that magic is now lost on home video/DVD releases and subsequent television screenings which show all three endings sequentially and relegate the film into being just another run-of-the-mill spoof.

"Sex. Clothes. Popularity. Is there a problem here?"
"Sex. Clothes. Popularity. Is there a problem here?"


D: Amy Heckerling
Paramount (Robert Lawrence & Scott Rudin)
🇺🇸 1995
97 mins


W: Amy Heckerling
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Debra Chiate
Mus: David Kitay

Alicia Silverstone (Cher Horowitz), Stacey Dash (Dionne), Brittany Murphy (Tai), Paul Rudd (Josh), Dan Hedaya (Mel Horowitz)

Loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma, this switches the setting to 1995 Beverly Hills, where a peppy teenage high school student would rather shop at the mall than do her homework, but finds it comes naturally to be amongst the popular crowd at school, playing matchmaker for her friends but finds it almost impossible to find a guy who loves her without thinking of her as a brainless Valley Girl.
A fresh spin on a familiar story, with charming performances from its cast. It was the first, and amongst the best, of many films which modernised the plots of literature classics and set them inside American high schools. Alicia Silverstone gives her finest screen performance here and the script also provides an opportunity to poke fun and satirise the fashion trends of the time.

D: Michael Apted
Universal (Bernard Schwartz)
🇺🇸 1980
125 mins


W: Tom Rickman [based on the autobiography by Loretta Lynn]
DP: Ralf D. Bode
Ed: Arthur Schmidt
Mus: Owen Bradley
PD: John W. Corso
Cos: Joe I. Tompkins

Sissy Spacek (Loretta Lynn), Tommy Lee Jones (Doolittle Lynn), Levon Helm (Ted Webb), Phyllis Boyens (Clara Ramey Webb), Beverly D'Angelo (Patsy Cline)

Biopic of Loretta Lynn, adapted from her own autobiography, detailing her life from her days as the wife of a backwoods Kentucky hillbilly to her stardom as a Country & Western singer. 
Spacek does an excellent job portraying the famous singer, justifyably winning a Best Actress Oscar for her performance.

"When he pours, he reigns"
"When he pours, he reigns"
D: Roger Donaldson
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners III (Ted Field & Robert W. Cort)
🇺🇸 1988
103 mins


W: Heywood Gould [based on his novel]
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Neil Travis & Barbara Dunning
Mus: Peter Robinson
PD: Mel Bourne

Tom Cruise (Brian Flanagan), Bryan Brown (Doug Coughlin), Elisabeth Shue (Jordan Mooney), Lisa Banes (Bonnie), Laurence Luckinbill (Mr. Mooney), Kelly Lynch (Kerry Coughlin), Gina Gershon (Coral), Ron Dean (Uncle Pat)

Or tale of cock, rather, with Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan, a cocky yuppie who gives up a career in business to become a Manhattan bartender, wowing his punters by spinning bottles and throwing ice around.
Other than displaying fancy moves with flair-bartending, he and misogynistic bar owner Doug, hustle rich chicks for their cash, because they're following the "Bro code".  Things change however when Brian moves out to the tropics and falls in love with girl-next-door type Elisabeth Shue (who he definitely doesn't deserve!).
The film could be classed as a guilty pleasure flick or simply a paean to 1980's consumerism, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a load of crap when you sober up to really think about it.


D: Lee Unkrich

Disney/Pixar (Darla K. Anderson)

🇺🇸 2017

105 mins


W: Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich, Lee Unkrich & Jason Katz

Mus: Michael Giacchino

voices of: Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel), Gael Garcia Bernal (Hector), Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz), Alanna Ubach (Mama Imelda), Rene Victor (Abuelita), Ana Ofelia Marguia (Mama Coco)

A traditional Mexican story gets a Disney-Pixar makeover, primarily because inclusivity and diversity was the flavour of the moment in Hollywood throughout 2017. Assembling a voice cast of Latino performers, along with Pixar's usual high standard of animation, the overall result was very well received by both audiences and critics, winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

The story follows Miguel, a young Mexican boy with an interest in music, which has been banned in his household for decades by his elderly grandmother.

During the annual "Day Of The Dead" celebrations, Miguel finds himself transported to Tierra Del Muerte, where the souls of the dead reside on the condition that they are still remembered the living. Within the Land Of The Dead, Miguel meets his great great grandfather, an aspiring musician whose songs were stolen by a world famous crooner, and Miguel tries to correct this injustice before returning to the land of the living.

Brilliant animation and all the politics aside, Coco is an enjoyable film, but it's really nothing special when compared with other films in Pixar's catalogue (Toy Story, etc) and much feels like virtue-signalling simply for the sake of it.

Still, it's one way to immerse youngsters into a culture which would perhaps be alien to them otherwise. Overhyped, but certainly not disappointing.


D: Ron Howard
20th Century Fox (Richard D. Zanuck, David Brown & Lili Fini Zanuck)
🇺🇸 1985
117 mins

Science Fiction/Comedy

W: Tom Benedek
DP: Don Peterman
Ed: Michael Hill & Daniel Hanley
Mus: James Horner
PD: Jack T. Collis

Don Ameche (Art Selwyn), Wilford Brimley (Ben Luckett), Hume Cronyn (Joe Finley), Brian Dennehy (Walter), Jack Gilford (Jack Lefkowitz), Steve Guttenberg (Jack Bonner), Maureen Stapleton (Mary Luckett), Jessica Tandy (Alma Finley), Gwen Verdon (Bess McCarthy), Tahnee Welch (Kitty)

An alien species which never age descend upon a Florida town with a heavy elderly population, members of whom feel rejuvenated after swimming in a pool holding alien pods.
For the most part, the film carries the perfect balance between comedy and sentimentality, before leaning towards the latter in the closing moments. The visual effects and performances cannot be faulted however, especially Don Ameche as a septuagenarian who discovers a new lease of life, even teaching a couple of the young kids how to breakdance.
Schmaltzy in parts, it may be, but it's still carried off quite well. An unnecessary sequel followed.

D: Daniel Petrie
20th Century Fox (Richard D. Zanuck, David Brown & Lili Fini Zanuck)
🇺🇸 1988
116 mins

Science Fiction/Comedy

W: Stephen McPherson
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Mark Warner
Mus: James Horner
PD: Lawrence Paull

Don Ameche (Art Selwyn), Wilford Brimley (Ben Luckett), Courtney Cox (Sara), Hume Cronyn (Joe Finley), Jack Gilford (Bernie Lefkowitz), Steve Guttenberg (Jack Bonner), Barret Oliver (David), Maureen Stapleton (Mary Luckett), Jessica Tandy (Alma Finley), Gwen Verdon (Bess McCarthy-Selwyn), Tahnee Welch (Kitty)

A needless, unnecessary sequel, in which original cast members return to their Florida residence to rescue alien pods which have been claimed by an oceanographic laboratory. The main conflict the majority of them face is having to explain to their families how they survived being 'lost at sea'.
This sequel leans far more towards a sentimental angle than its predecessor and is mostly boring. A cash-in on the success of the first film.

D: Michael Mann
Dreamworks/Paramount (Michael Mann & Julie Richardson)
🇺🇸 2004
115 mins


W: Stuart Beattie
DP: Dion Beebe & Paul Cameron
Ed: Jim Miller & Paul Rubell
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: David Wasco

Tom Cruise (Vincent), Jamie Foxx (Max Durocher), Jada Pinkett Smith (Annie Farrell), Mark Ruffalo (Ray Fanning), Peter Berg (Richard Weidner), Bruce McGill (Frank Pedrosa), Irma P. Hall (Ida Durocher)

Tom Cruise plays cool-as-ice hitman Vincent, who hires mild-mannered cab driver Max (Foxx) to drive him around downtown Los Angeles while he carries out a series of assassinations. A battle of wits develops between the two when Max discovers that he's playing chauffeur for a killer, setting up a tense thriller with two actors on top form.
For the most part, Collateral is a stylish piece of work with dazzling photography and slick editing. It's all rather unfortunate that the final 15 minutes fizzles out rather than emulating all that came before it.

D: Martin Scorsese
Touchstone (Irving Axelrod & Barbara de Fina)
🇺🇸 1986
119 mins
W: Richard Price [based on the novel by Walter Tevis]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Thelma Schoonmaker
Mus: Robbie Robertson
PD: Boris Leven
Paul Newman ('Fast' Eddie Felson), Tom Cruise (Vincent Lauria), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Carmen), Helen Shaver (Janelle), John Turturro (Julian), Bill Cobbs (Orvis), Keith McCready (Grady Seasons)
Twenty-five years after the events in 'The Hustler', Fast Eddie Felson returns to the pool rooms where he used to ply his trade, this time with young protégé Vincent (Cruise), a cocky but talented player who Eddie hopes to lead to victory at an upcoming tournament in Atlantic City.
The two don't see eye-to-eye though, parting ways before Felson comes out of retirement to participate in the tournament himself.
A stylish sequel which references the original film without detracting from it or being a carbon copy. It's also very possible to enjoy this even if you've not seen the original film. 
All the performances are excellent, as is the soundtrack of contemporary songs and classic blues hits.
Not many sequels come this close to matching the quality of the original. This is amongst them.
D: Richard Rush
Cinergi/Hollywood Pictures (David Matalon & Buzz Feitshans)
🇺🇸 1994
123 mins
W: Matthew Chapman & Billy Ray
DP: Dietrich Lohmann
Ed: Jack Hofstra
Mus: Dominic Frontiere
Bruce Willis (Dr. Bill Capa), Jane March (Rose / Richie / Bonnie), Ruben Blades (Lt. Hector Martinez), Lesley Ann Warren (Sondra Dorio), Scott Bakula (Dr. Bob Moore), Brad Dourif (Clark), Lance Henriksen (Buck)
Atrocious attempt to emulate erotism, following the success of Basic Instinct making this thriller a borderline pornographic film in its steamier scenes.
Willis is pathetically miscast as a psychiatrist, who takes on his friends group of patients following his murder and discovers that one of the members is the murderer.
Everything about the movie stinks. The performances range from hammy to miscast, the screenplay is filled with ludicrous dialogue and the whodunit element is so blatantly obvious from the initial meeting that it's barely a whodunit at all.
The less said about the chemistry between Willis & March the better, Bruce actually has more on-screen spark with Scott Bakula, even though they only share one scene together before the latter is killed.
You could argue it's worth watching for comedy value, or as an exercise in 'how not to make a thriller', but it's almost impossible to argue that it isn't terrible on all accounts.

"It's about life. It's about love. It's about us."
"It's about life. It's about love. It's about us."
D: Steven Spielberg
Warner Bros./Amblin (Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Quincy Jones, Jon Peter & Peter Gubers)
🇺🇸 1985
152 mins
W: Menno Meyjes [based on the novel by Alice Walker]
DP: Allen Davieu
Ed: Michael Kahn 
Mus: Quincy Jones
PD: J. Michael Riva
Cos: Aggie Guarard-Rodgers
Whoopi Goldberg (Celie), Danny Glover (Albert), Margaret Avery (Shug Avery), Oprah Winfrey (Sofia), Willard Pugh (Harpo), Akosua Busia (Nettie), Adolph Caesar (Old Mister), Rae Dawn Chong (Squeak)
Steven Spielberg's first 'mature' film, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alice Walker tells the story of a Southern black family during the early part of the 1900's, as they face struggles from both society and within themselves.
All the performances are fantastic and director Spielberg presents the story incredibly well.
The film was nominated for 11 Oscars and went away empty-handed, making it the biggest 'Oscar loser' of all time. It's unfortunate, it really deserved something.
A very well made piece of work.

D: Dennis Hopper
Orion (Robert H. Solo)
🇺🇸 1988
120 mins
W: Michael Schiffer
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Robert Estrin
Mus: Herbie Hancock
Sean Penn (Danny McGavin), Robert Duvall (Bob Hodges), Maria Conchita Alonso (Louisa Gomez), Randy Brooks (Ron Delaney), Grand L. Bush (Larry Sylvester), Don Cheadle (Rocket), Gerardo Mejia (Bird), Glenn Plummer (Clarence "High Top" Brown)     
Pre-dating Boyz N The Hood by a couple of years, Colors tells a similar story from the perspective of LAPD cops attempting to calm the hostilities between rival gangs in the Los Angeles suburbs (much akin to the infamous crips & bloods rivalry).
This is possibly the movie which gave Sean Penn his bad boy image and his on-screen duo with Robert Duvall is a good-cop, bad-cop partnership which, while clichéd, does work very well. Considering this is directed by Dennis Hopper, you'd be forgiven to expect a much grittier, violent thriller, but it's still a very decent watch and still has relevance 25 years following its release.
COMA (15)
D: Michael Crichton
United Artists (Martin Erlichman)
🇺🇸 1978
113 mins
W: Michael Crichton [based on the novel by Robin Cook]
DP: Victor J. Kemper & Gerald Hirschfeld
Ed: David Bretherton
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: Albert Brenner
Genevieve Bujold (Dr. Susan Wheeler), Michael Douglas (Dr. Mark Bellows), Elizabeth Ashley (Mrs. Emerson), Rip Torn (Dr. George), Richard Widmark (Dr. Harris), Lois Chiles (Nancy Greenly), Hari Rhodes (Dr. Moralind)
Hitchcockian style suspense set in a hospital, where a female doctor discovers that patients are being deliberately put into comas so that their organs can be harvested.
It's a grizzly watch, with more dead characters than living ones. Director/screenwriter Michael Crichton does a good job bringing Robin Cook's work to the screen, but it's impossible to wonder what the master of suspense would have made of it.
"A man who believed in war. A man who believed in nothing. And a woman who believed in both of them."
"A man who believed in war. A man who believed in nothing. And a woman who believed in both of them."
D: Hal Ashby
United Artists (Jerome Hellman)
🇺🇸 1978
126 mins


W: Waldo Salt, Robert C. Jones & Nancy Dowd
DP: Haskell Wexler
Ed: Don Zimmerman

Jane Fonda (Sally Hyde), Jon Voight (Luke Martin), Bruce Dern (Captain Bob Hyde), Robert Ginty (Sergeant Dick Mobley), Penelope Milford (Viola Munson), Robert Carradine (Bill Munson)

Along with The Deer Hunter (qv), released the same year, Coming Home was amongst the first films to deal seriously with the plight of American soldiers returning from the Vietnam war.
When her dutiful husband goes off to war, Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda) volunteers at a local veterans hospital where she develops a friendship with bitter paraplegic Luke Martin (Jon Voight), whom she originally met when they were at high school.
Upon his release, Luke becomes an anti-war activist and him and Sally have an affair. Soon after, Sally's husband (Bruce Dern) returns from the war with a minor injury, but has returned a very changed person from the empassioned, patriotic man who left.
Many similarities can be made with Oliver Stone's 1989 film Born On The Fourth Of July, which tells the true story of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic. Though the narrative gets bogged down in the middle with cloying melodrama and an abundance of politics, the two main performances are excellent, winning Oscars for both Jane Fonda & Jon Voight.

D: John Landis
Paramount (George Folsey, Jr. & Robert D. Wachs)
🇺🇸 1988
116 mins


W: David Sheffield & Barry Blaustein
DP: Woody Omens
Ed: Malcolm Campbell & George Folsey, Jr.     
Mus: Nile Rodgers
PD: Richard MacDonald
Cos: Deborah Nadoolman
Makeup: Rick Baker

Eddie Murphy (Prince Akeem / various other characters), Arsenio Hall (Semmi / various), John Amos (Cleo McDowell), James Earl Jones (King Jaffe), Shari Headley (Lisa McDowell), Madge Sinclair (Queen Aeoleon)

Amongst the last truly funny Eddie Murphy films, with the comedian playing multiple characters with the aid of Rick Baker's fantastic makeup.
Predominantly the story follows Murphy as an African prince, from the fictional country of Zamunda, who breaks off his arranged marriage to travel to New York City to choose his own bride who will love him for himself, not for his powerful status.
The film contains some good comedy moments, with Murphy himself providing most of them, but there's also some satirical asides to product placement (Prince Akeem and his aide get a job in a McDonald's clone restaurant; a running joke in the movie, among many others).

"Somewhere... Somehow... Someone's going to pay."
"Somewhere... Somehow... Someone's going to pay."
D: Mark L. Lester
20th Century Fox (Joel Silver)
🇺🇸 1985
88 mins


W: Steven E. de Souza
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Mark Goldblatt, John F. Link & Glenn Farr
Mus: James Horner
PD: John Vallone

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Col. John Matrix), Rae Dawn Chong (Cindy), Vernon Wells (Bennett), David Patrick Kelly (Sully), Bill Duke (Cooke), Dan Hedaya (Arius), Alyssa Milano (Jenny Matrix)

It may be absolute nonsense, but it's doubtlessly an action staple of the 1980's, solidifying Arnold Schwarzenegger's place as the decade's action man and paving the way for umpteen copycats.
Arnie plays John Matrix (seriously, that's his character's name), a retired Black Ops commando whose daughter is kidnapped by a Latin American dictator as collateral so Matrix will assassinate a presidential rival.
The commando has other plans though and wages a one-man war against the dictator on his private island to rescue his daughter.
Despite being ridiculously far-fetched with over the top performances, this is a great example of a popcorn action flick, littered with hilarious one-liners and adrenalous set pieces.

"They had absolutely nothing, but they were willing to risk it all."
"They had absolutely nothing, but they were willing to risk it all."
D: Alan Parker
20th Century Fox/Beacon/First Film/Dirty Hands/Sovereign (Roger Randall-Cutler & Lynda Miles)
🇮🇪 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 1991
120 mins
W: Ian LaFrenais, Dick Clement & Roddy Doyle [based on the novel by Roddy Doyle]     
DP: Gale Tattersall
Ed: Gerry Hambling
PD: Brian Morris
Cos: Penny Rose
Robert Arkins (Jimmy Rabbitte), Michael Aherne (Steven Clifford), Angeline Ball (Imelda Quirke), Maria Doyle (Natalie Murphy), Dave Finnegan (Mick Wallace), Bronagh Gallagher (Bernie McGloughlin), Felim Gormley (Dean Fay), Glen Hansard (Outspan Foster), Dick Massey (Billy Mooney), Johnny Murphy (Joey Fagan), Kenneth McClusky (Derek Scully), Andrew Strong (Declan Cuffe)
Based on the novel by Roddy Doyle which made up the first part of his 'Barrytown' trilogy, the story follows a group of Dublin youths who form a soul band, bringing a modern twist to their favourite R&B songs of the 1960's.
A great movie with an even greater soundtrack. All the ensemble cast do a great job as the members of the band and the script features some good humour.
One of the best films of 1991.

D: Philippe Mora
Vestron/Pheasantry/Allied Vision/Picture Property (Philippe Mora, Whitley Strieber & Dan Allingham)
🇺🇸 1989
101 mins
Science Fiction
W: Whitley Strieber [based on his novel]
DP: Louis Irving
Ed: Lee Smith
Mus: Eric Clapton
Christopher Walken (Whitley Strieber), Lindsay Crouse (Anne Strieber), Frances Sternhagen (Dr. Janet Duffy), Andreas Katsulas (Alex)
A rather strange, meandering science fiction conspiracy, supposedly based on factual events of a man suffering an alien abduction and the effects on both himself and his family following this event.
It will probably mean more to those who have read the book that it's based on. For a mainstream audience, there's much better films out there which aren't based on a 'true story'.

"Lives are on the line."
"Lives are on the line."


D: Jaume Collet-Serra

StudioCanal/Ombra/The Picture Company (Andrew Rona & Alex Heineman)

🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇫🇷 2018

105 mins


W: Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi & Ryan Engle 

DP: Paul Cameron 

Ed: Nicolas de Toth

Mus: Roque Baños

Liam Neeson (Michael MacCauley), Vera Farmiga (Joanna), Patrick Wilson (Det. Lt. Alex Murphy), Jonathan Banks (Walt), Andy Nyman (Tony), Elizabeth McGovern (Karen MacCauley), Sam Neill (Capt. David Hawthorne)

The Taken of Pelham One Two Three, with Liam Neeson doing the same song and dance that's paid his bills over the last 10 years. 

It's another collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra, whom he worked with on similarly themed thrillers Non Stop and Run All Night, and it wouldn't be a surprise if footage from those movies were spliced into this one to save budget. 

Neeson plays a former cop turned insurance man, and the film opens with some well executed shots which underpin the mundanity of his working days and his daily commute from the suburbs to the city and back again. Midway through the first act, he becomes the victim of employment redundancy and on his journey home approached by a mysterious woman named Joanna who has an interesting proposition for him which isn't too far removed from a Hitchcock movie. The film unfortunately ditches this highly implausible concept to dangle the family danger threat for Neeson to jump through hoops at the behest of the unseen villains, all to find a witness abroad the same train who has to kill or face the consequences. 

We've all seen films like this before, and the majority have been done a lot better. The suspension of disbelief fails miserably when a story asks us to believe that there is some form of human interaction on commuter trains, it simply doesn't happen (especially in the UK) and paired with visual effects which look 20 years old, this really doesn't make for a convincing movie, even with the brain removed.

Time to get a new agent Liam, you can do much better than this.


"The desire. The fantasy. The nightmare."
"The desire. The fantasy. The nightmare."
D: Neil Jordan
ITC/Palace (Chris Brown & Stephen Woolley)     
🇬🇧 1984
95 mins
W: Angela Carter & Neil Jordan [based on the books by Angela Carter]
DP: Bryan Loftus
Mus: George Fenton
PD: Anton Furst
Cos: Elizabeth Waller
Angela Lansbury (Granny), David Warner (Father), Sarah Patterson (Rosaleen), Graham Crowden (Old Priest), Micha Bergese (Huntsman), Stephen Rea (Young Groom)
A fairytale for adults with a horror spin on Little Red Riding Hood, using some of the best werewolf effects brought to screen (personally I think these are the second best only to An American Werewolf In London).
It's a very well told horror-fantasy, atmospherically directed with sumptuous production values. Only the ending disappoints.
Still, it's well worth 95 minutes of anyone's time.

D: Craig Zobel
Magnolia/Dogfish (Craig Zobel, Sophia Lin, Theo Sena, Lisa Muskat & Tyler Davidson)
🇺🇸 2012
90 mins
W: Craig Zobel
DP: Adam Stone
Ed: Jane Rizzo
Mus: Heather McIntosh
Dreama Walker (Becky), Ann Dowd (Sandra), Ashlie Atkinson (Marti), Pat Healy (Officer Daniels), Bill Camp (Van), James McCaffrey (Det. Neals)
It's absolutely unbelievable that this film is based on actual events, although this isn't to say that it isn't a convincing and compelling thriller, after all, it isn't too unbelievable that some people can simply be incredibly naïve.
Compliance is by no means a comfortable watch. The movie is deeply disturbing both as a film and as a commentary on how easy people can be manipulated. 
The story follows the members of staff in a busy fast food restaurant during a rather hectic day. The manager gets a phone call from Officer Daniels, informing her that one of her members of staff is accused of theft and must be detained until he gets there.
What follows is a study of how people act when confronted by someone in a position of authority and the line between obedience and manipulation is almost invisible.
It's absolutely shocking that this movie is based partly on fact and though some of it verges on the absolute ridiculous it still serves well as an education tool so that similar behaviour doesn't continue. 
Without doubt, this movie portrays a woman's greatest terror.

CON AIR (18)
D: Simon West
Touchstone (Jerry Bruckheimer)
🇺🇸 1997
115 mins
W: Scott Rosenberg
DP: David Tattersall
Ed: Chris Lebenzon, Steve Mirkovich & Glen Scantlebury
Mus: Mark Mancina
Nicolas Cage (Cameron Poe), John Cusack (Agent Vince Larkin), John Malkovich (Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom), Steve Buscemi (Garland Greene), Ving Rhames (Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones), Colm Meaney (Agent Duncan Malloy), Mykelti Williamson ('Baby O'), Rachel Ticotin (Guard Sally Bishop), Monica Potter (Tricia Poe)
A group of notorious criminals hijack an aeroplane which is transferring them to a high security prison.
Some of the dialogue is banal, and it's all incredibly silly, with little regard to human lives or damage to big cities, but it's all to be expected from a Bruckheimer-produced film.  Simon West's direction is actually very subtle compared to what Michael Bay could have done to this.  Nicolas Cage hams it up a little as a Southern good ol' boy, as does John Malkovich as Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom (now that's a movie character name if ever you heard one).
Nevertheless, if you're a fan of brainless tongue-in-cheek action movies, Con Air is one of the best.  If you're looking for something more gentle, rent out a Merchant-Ivory production.

"The warrior gladiator king."
"The warrior gladiator king."
D: John Milius
Dino de Laurentiis (Buzz Feitshans & Raffaela de Laurentiis)
🇺🇸 1982
129 mins
W: John Milius & Oliver Stone [based on characters created by Robert E. Howard]
DP: Duke Callaghan
Ed: C. Timothy O'Meara
Mus: Basil Poledouris
PD: Ron Cobb
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan), James Earl Jones (Thulsa Doom), Max Von Sydow (King Osric), Sandahl Bergman (Valeria), Mako (Akiro)
A blood & thunder sword and sorcery adventure with Arnie flexing his muscles as the comic-book warrior, seeking the serpent king who murdered his parents.
It's actually not too bad. A standout amongst the rest of the pack from a genre which saw very many films released during the early 1980's.

"Born on the Battlefield."
"Born on the Battlefield."
D: Marcus Nispel
Lionsgate/Nu Image/Millennium (Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Fredrik Malmberg, Joe Gatta, George Furla, John Baldecchi & Les Weldon)
🇺🇸 2011
113 mins


W: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer & Sean Hood [based on characters created by Robert E. Howard]
DP: Thomas Kloss
Ed: Ken Blackwell
Mus: Tyler Bates

Jason Momoa (Conan), Rachel Nichols (Tamara), Stephen Lang (Khalar Zym), Rose McGowan (Marique), Saïd Taghmaoui (Ela-Shan), Leo Howard (young Conan), Morgan Freeman (narrator)

Remake of the above with more sword and less sorcery. There's a huge missed opportunity here with the lack of originality from music video director Marcus Nispel, who goes down the easy route of making this a simple tale of revenge, turning in a primitive knock off of Braveheart rather than a primordial comic book adventure.
The casting is also weak. Jason Momoa, who played beast of a warrior Khal Drogo in TV's Game Of Thrones, turns up in this film with his bronzed Hawaiian tan and does very little else.
Moderate entertainment of the brainless kind, but this is more like Conan the Surfer Dude.

D: Richard Fleischer
Dino de Laurentiis (Raffaela de Laurentiis)
🇺🇸 1984
101 mins
W: Stanley Mann [based on characters created by Robert E. Howard]
DP: Jack Cardiff
Ed: Frank J. Urioste
Mus: Basil Poledouris
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan), Grace Jones (Zula), Wilt Chamberlain (Bombaata), Mako (Akiro), Tracey Walter (Malak), Sarah Douglas (Queen Taramis), Olivia d'Abo (Princess Jehnna)
An evil queen offers to reincarnate Conan's lost love if he agrees to go on a quest for her.
A sequel which is much less blood-thirsty than the first film with a more comic book storyline.
The pacing is much better, but the acting really is atrocious, especially from the supporting cast.

"Even legends need a hero."
"Even legends need a hero."
D: Peter Landesman
Columbia/Village Roadshow/Scott Free/Lstar (Ridley Scott, Giannina Facio, David Woltroff, Larry Shuman & Elizabeth Cantillon)
🇺🇸 2015
122 mins


W: Peter Landesman [based on the article "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas]
DP: Salvatore Totino
Ed: William Goldenberg
Mus: James Newton Howard

Will Smith (Dr. Bennet Omalu), Alec Baldwin (Dr. Julian Bailes), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Prema Matisu), Arliss Howard (Dr. Joseph Maroon), Paul Reiser (Dr. Elliot Pelman), Luke Wilson (Roger Goodall), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Dave Duerson), David Morse (Mike Webster), Albert Brooks (Dr. Cyril Wecht)

A scandal surrounded this film around the time of its UK release, but it had nothing to do with the subject matter of the film, it was due to Will Smith's snub for an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. #OscarsSoWhite was the fashionable Twitter hashtag and even the actor's wife published a video detailing her discontent at how racist the Oscars were. None of this has anything to do with the film, and frankly, it's all a load of nonsense.
Will Smith does deliver a performance which is good, but it's just not Oscar-worthy. The same could be said of the film itself, based on true events, but far too televisual and a little too static in the delivery of its subject.
Smith plays a pathologist of Nigerian origin, living and working in Pittsburgh when he makes a discovery about the link between head injuries that occur in the NFL and the potential of permanent brain damage of those who suffer them. 
The NFL are desperate to silence his findings to protect America's favourite sport, and though the truth eventually emerges, it's another man who takes the credit for the Nigerian doctor's discoveries. 
Will Smith does deserve some praise for playing a character completely against his usual type, but the film is very straight-laced and only begins to become edgy with a forced racial controversy which doesn't seem true. The performances from the rest of the cast are fine, especially considering the supporting roles are so underwritten, but the subject matter would have worked better as a TV movie of the week or perhaps a documentary.

D: Sara Sugarman
Disney (Robert Shapiro & Jerry Leider)         
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2004
90 mins
W: Gail Parent [based on the book by Dyan Sheldon]
DP: Stephen H. Burum
Ed: Anita Brandt Burgoyne
Mus: Mark Mothersbaugh
Lindsay Lohan (Lola Cep), Adam Garcia (Stu Wolff), Glenne Headly (Karen Cep), Alison Pill (Ella Gerard), Eli Marienthal (Sam), Carol Kane (Miss Baggoli), Megan Fox (Carla Santini)
Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen is a film for teenage drama queens and will deliver little to no entertainment value for anybody else.
Lindsey Lohan does what Disney made her famous for, playing a precocious high school student with aspirations for fame and theatre, theatrics and histrionics. 
Personally, I think it conveys a rather irresponsible message, but it's no different than what Disney have been doing for decades and to be honest, sooner or later, teenage girls grow out of this kind of phase.

D: Bernardo Bertolucci
Mars/Marianne/Maran (Maurizio Lodi-Fe)
🇮🇹 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 1970
111 mins


W: Bernardo Bertolucci [based on the novel by Alberto Moravia]
DP: Vittorio Storaro
Ed: Franco Arcalli
Mus: Georges Delerue

Jean-Louis Trintignant (Marcello Clerici), Stefania Sandrelli (Giulia), Gastone Moschin (Manganiello), Enzo Taroscio (Professor Quadri), Dominique Sanda (Anna Quadri), Pierre Clementi (Lino Semirama)

Plagued by the memory of a traumatic homosexual experience during his childhood, a sexually inhibited young man tries to conform to the changing face of fascist Italy under Mussolini's regime, but finds himself out of his depth when he becomes an informant.
This multi-layered, psychologically confusing drama from Bernardo Bertolucci makes a provocative connection between repressed sexual desires and political views, addressing the duality of sexual and political conflicts. 
The heavy-going narrative won't be easily digested by everyone, since there is a lot to mull over in your mind, but it's a wonderfully crafted piece of work with the period marvellously captured by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.

D: Frank Marshall
UIP/Paramount (Kathleen Kennedy & Sam Mercer)
🇺🇸 1995
108 mins


W: John Patrick Shanley [based on the novel by Michael Crichton]
DP: Allen Davieu
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith
PD: J. Michael Riva

Dylan Webb (Dr. Peter Elliott), Laura Linney (Dr. Karen Ross), Ernie Hudson (Capt. Munro Kelly), Tim Curry (Herkermer Homolka), Joe Don Baker (R.B. Travis), Grant Heslov (Richard)

King Solomon's Mines style adventure with killer apes guarding a valuable treasure and a scientist, a mysterious Romanian, a diamond expert, a hunter and a 'talking' gorilla go in search of it.
Complete and utter hokum, with 'Amy The Talking Gorilla' delivering the most annoying animatronic performance in cinema history, although the worst performance in this nonsense must go to Tim 'Ze Must Find Ze Diamonds' Curry.


D: James Wan

Warner Bros/New Line/Evergreen (Peter Safran, Tony DeRosa-Grund & Rob Cowan)

🇺🇸 2013

112 mins


W: Chad Hayes & Carey B. Hayes

DP: John R. Leonetti

Ed: Kirk Morri

Mus: Joseph Bishara

Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Lili Taylor (Carolyn Perron), Ron Livingston (Roger Perron)

Audiences seemed to love this movie, but nowhere near as much as studio executives, who saw fit to franchise the fuck out of it, creating sequels and spinoffs based on props and backstories (The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, The Nun, etc.). Produced for a meagre $20m, the film more than broke even on its opening weekend, so from a business side of things, its a tidy film.

Studio finances aside, the plot doesn't mask the fact that it's taken elements from The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and Poltergeist for yet another knock off from the Hollywood production line.

Set in 1971 and based on a "true story", the Perron family (mum, dad, five daughters) move into a country farmhouse where spooky goings-on wake them at night and the presence gets increasingly malevolent. The family recruit the help of the Warrens, who make a living investigating the paranormal despite Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) being dressed like an elixir salesman from the 1800's.

The rest of the film is made up of the usual horror cliches and tropes which have plagued the genre for the past few decades and any mystery is knocked out of the park by the production of all the needless spinoff movies.

From a technical point of view, the film is adequately done, with good cinematography and visual effects, but I found the editing didn't quite flow and the production design didn't capture the period at all.

Patrick Wilson aside, the rest of the performances are convincing enough, but the film still left me lamenting the golden age of horror- when these kinds of movies were actually scary.


D: J. Lee Thompson
20th Century Fox (Arthur P. Jacobs)
🇺🇸 1972
85 mins
Science Fiction
W: Paul Dehn
DP: Bruce Surtees
Ed: Marjorie Fowler & Allan Jaggs
Mus: Tom Scott
PD: Philip Jeffries
Roddy McDowell (Caesar), Don Murray (Governer Breck), Ricardo Montalban (Armando), Natalie Trundy (Lisa), Hari Rhodes (MacDonald), Severn Darden (Kolp)
Fourth and penultimate film of the original Planet Of The Apes series, set in the 1990's (so it's already dated) when apes revolt against the human race who have enslaved them.
Despite being dated, the movie still has a kitsch value, with some allegorical statements about slavery. 
As an origin story as to how the apes came to be dominant species on Earth, a much better job was done in the 2011 film Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (which is only a loose remake of this). Still, this is a pretty good effort for the early 70's.

D: Richard Donner
Warner Bros. (Joel Silver & Richard Donner)     
🇺🇸 1997
135 mins
W: Brian Helgeland 
DP: John Schwartzman
Ed: Frank J. Urioste & Kevin Stitt
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Paul Sylbert
Mel Gibson (Jerry Fletcher), Julia Roberts (Alice Sutton), Patrick Stewart (Dr. Jonas), Cylk Cozart (Agent Lowry)

A New York taxi driver is obsessed with conspiracy theories, writing about them in his own independent publication, but he becomes a pursued man when something he writes about is more than just a paranoid rant.
A good idea for a thriller descends into a standard chase movie which rips off as many similar films from the 1970's as it can muster.
Lazy filmmaking for an undemanding audience.

D: Fernando Meirelles
Focus Features/Potboiler/Scion/UK Film Council (Simon Channing-Williams)     
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 2005
123 mins


W: Jeffrey Caine [based on the novel by John le Carré]
DP: Cesar Charlone
Ed: Claire Simpson
Mus: Alberto Iglesias
PD: Mark Tildesley
Cos: Odile Dicks Mireaux

Ralph Fiennes (Justin Quayle), Rachel Weisz (Tessa Abbott-Quayle), Danny Huston (Sandy Woodrow), Pete Posthelthwaite (Dr. Lorbeer), Bill Nighy (Sir Bernard Pelegrin)

A quite excellent adaptation of a John le Carré novel about a British diplomat investigating the mysterious circumstances of his wife's death while the two are working in Kenya.
The pace of the movie begins quite stagnantly, building up character and tension before a second and third act which are nothing short of brilliant, with two superb performances from Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, the latter of whom won an Oscar for her work.

"A journey to the heart of the universe."
"A journey to the heart of the universe."
D: Robert Zemeckis
Warner Bros./South Side (Robert Zemeckis & Steve Starkey)
🇺🇸 1997
142 mins

Science Fiction/Drama

W: Michael Goldenberg & James V. Hart [based on the novel by Dan Sagan]
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Arthur Schmidt
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Ed Verreaux
Cos: Joanna Johnston

Jodie Foster (Dr. Ellie Arroway), Matthew McConaughey (Palmer Joss), James Woods (Michael Kitz), Angela Bassett (Rachel Constantine), Tom Skeritt (David Drumlin), John Hurt (S. R. Hadden), David Morse (Ted Arroway), Rob Lowe (Richard Rank), William Fichtner (Kent Clark), Jake Busey (Joseph)

A radio signal which seemingly proves intelligent life in outer space is discovered and decrypted by a female astronomer, who finds that the messages includes plans for a machine which aims to transport it's passenger through the vast wormholes of the universe.
Contact is a mature science fiction movie which may disappoint an audience expecting to see little green men from outer space. It's not that type of film at all. Instead it raises an intelligent argument of science versus religion which it leaves unanswered for the viewer to resolve in their own mind.
Great direction by Robert Zemeckis and a very strong performance by Jodie Foster are further assets to the clever story. Contact is without a doubt one of the most underrated movies of the 1990's.
"Nothing spreads like fear."
"Nothing spreads like fear."
D: Steven Soderbergh
Warner Bros./Participant Media/Imagenation Abu Dhabi/Double Feature (Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher & Gregory Jacobs)
🇺🇸 2011
102 mins


W: Scott Z. Burns
DP: Peter Andrews (Steven Soderbergh)
Ed: Stephen Mirrione
Mus: Cliff Martinez
PD: Howard Cummings
Cos: Louise Frogley

Marion Cotillard (Dr. Leonora Orantes), Matt Damon (Mitch Emhoff), Laurence Fishburne (Dr. Ellis Cheever), Jude Law (Alan Krumwiede), Gwyneth Paltrow (Beth Emhoff), Kate Winslet (Dr. Erin Mears), Jennifer Ehle (Dr. Ellie Hextall), Elliott Gould (Dr. Ian Sussman)

In the hands of another director, this might have been a big blockbuster last summer, but Steven Soderbergh's low-key direction made it slip under the radar somewhat. Nevertheless, it's an intelligent, realistic and well-written thriller about a increasingly threatening worldwide pandemic and its repercussions amongst a vignette of characters on both sides of the divide between members of the government and members of the public, with doctors and conspiracy theorists alike trying to figure out the key to survival.
Infectiously good.


D: Anton Corbijn

Northsee/EM Media/3 Dogs & A Pony (Orian Williams, Anton Corbijn & Todd Eckert)

🇬🇧 🇯🇵 🇦🇺 2007

122 mins


W: Matt Greenhalgh [based on the book "Touching From A Distance" by Deborah Curtis]

DP: Martin Ruhe

Ed: Andrew Hulme

Mus: New Order

Sam Riley (Ian Curtis), Samantha Morton (Deborah Curtis), Alexandra Maria Laura (Annik), Joe Anderson (Hooky), Toby Kebbell (Rob Gretton)

A warts and all biopic of doomed singer Ian Curtis, of British alternative Joy Division, whose life was cut short amid personal problems.

Anton Corbijn presents Curtis' story with moody, washed out black and white photography which manages to capture the personality of the musician as well as the late 1970's period to perfection.

The performances are excellent, especially Sam Riley, who uncannily captures all of Ian Curtis' traits and mannerisms, while Samantha Morton is also excellent as his wife, Deborah Curtis', whose memoir formed the basis for the film.


D: Francis Ford Coppola
Paramount (Francis Ford Coppola)
🇺🇸 1974
113 mins


W: Francis Ford Coppola
DP: Bill Butler
Ed: Walter Murch & Richard Chew
Mus: David Shire
PD: Dean Tavoularis

Gene Hackman (Harry Caul), John Cazale (Stan), Allen Garfield (Bernie Moran), Frederic Forrest (Mark), Cindy Williams (Ann), Michael Higgins (Paul), Elizabeth MacRae (Meredith), Teri Garr (Amy), Harrison Ford (Martin Stett)

An exceptional thriller clearly born in the wake of the paranoia following the Watergate scandal.
This is easily Gene Hackman's finest performance as a surveillance expert, Harry Caul, almost religiously meticulous with his profession and equally as fastidious of his own personal privacy.
Caul is hired to record what turns out to be a very cryptic conversation between an ordinary-looking couple in a park but when his employers start to act sinister he becomes obsessed with the voices on the tape, developing a conscience and becoming drawn into a puzzle he didn't bargain for. 
The tension builds throughout the film from a relatively slow beginning to reach one of the finest crescendo's ever captured on film.
Francis Ford Coppola was arguably the best auteur of the 70's and there's no surprise this movie was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (it lost to The Godfather part II, also by Coppola), but this movie is all about Gene Hackman. Good support is also provided by John Cazale & Harrison Ford, in the creepiest performance of his career.
While a lot of people may switch off before the hour mark, I emplore you to stick with it. It is classic cinema!

D: Tony Goldwyn
Fox Searchlight (Andrew Sugerman, Andrew Karsch & Tony Goldwyn)
🇺🇸 2010
107 mins
W: Pamela Gray
DP: Adriano Goldman
Ed: Patrick Cassidy
Mus: Paul Cantelon
Hilary Swank (Betty Anne Waters), Sam Rockwell (Kenny Waters), Minnie Driver (Abra Rice), Melissa Leo (Nancy Taylor), Peter Gallagher (Barry Scheck), Juliette Lewis (Roseanna Perry)
A very impressive courtroom drama with top performances from Hilary Swank & Sam Rockwell.
Based on a true story, Swank plays a single mother who spends nearly 20 years of her life trying to get her incarcerated trailer trash brother (Rockwell) acquitted of a life sentence for murder which he is innocent of.
The ensemble cast are all on song, especially the two leads, but there's good support from Juliette Lewis (remember her), Minnie Driver, Peter Gallagher, Clea Duvall and Melissa Leo.       
Directed by Tony Goldwyn, best known for his performance of Carl Bruner in Ghost. It's a rather low-key film and without the performances of Swank & Rockwell may have only been a TV movie. 
I've yet to see Sam Rockwell deliver a bad acting performance and this must surely rank amongst his all-time best.

D: Stuart Rosenberg
Warner Bros. (Gordon Carroll)
🇺🇸 1967
126 mins


W: Donn Pierce & Frank Pierson [bassd on the novel by Donn Pierce]
DP: Conrad L. Hall
Ed: Sam O'Steen
Mus: Lalo Schifrin
PD: Cary Odell
Cos: Howard Shoup

Paul Newman (Luke Jackson), George Kennedy (Dragline), Lou Antonio (Koko), Robert Drivas (Loudmouth Steve), Strother Martin (Captain), Jo Van Fleet (Arletta), Clifton James (Carr), Morgan Woodward (Boss Godfrey), Luke Askew (Boss Paul)

"Sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand."
Paul Newman delivers one of his career best performances as Luke, a petty criminal doing two years hard labour with a chain gang and rebels against the system, inspiring the other convicts, until the system finally does break him.
Allegedly a Christ allegory, the film can be taken on both levels, with the perfect mix of drama, comedy, adventure and tragedy.
There's many memorable and classic moments, including the famous egg-eating contest, but the film is arguably best remembered for the excellent performances of Paul Newman, George Kennedy and Strother Martin as the dastardly captain who finally breaks Luke with his memorable line "What we got here is failure to communicate."
The epitome of cool.
D: Jon Turtletaub
Disney (Dawn Steel & Chris Meledandri)
🇺🇸 🇯🇲 1993
97 mins


W: Lynn Siefert, Tommy Swerdlow & Michael Goldberg
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Bruce Green
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Stephen Marsh

John Candy (Irving Blitzer), Leon (Derice Bannock), Doug E. Doug (Sanka Coffie), Malik Yoha (Yul Brenner), Rawle D. Lewis (Junior Bevil)

A comedy retelling of the Jamaican bobsleigh team who took everyone by surprise at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, arriving as a novelty and leaving as equals.     
It's all very good natured and takes a bit of liberty with the whole truth, but is nothing short of good fun. Memorable for one of John Candy's final screen performances before his untimely death, and it's ultimately his performance that stands out as the disgraced coach looking for his own redemption.

"Love... you have to play to win."
"Love... you have to play to win."


D: Wayne Kramer
Lionsgate (Michael Pierce & Sean Furst)
🇺🇸 2002 (released 2003)
101 mins


W: Frank Hannah & Wayne Kramer
DP: James Whitaker
Ed: Arthur Coburn
Mus: Mark Isham

William H. Macy (Bernie Lootz), Alec Baldwin (Shelly Kaplow), Maria Bello (Natalie Belisario), Shawn Hatosy (Mikey), Ron Livingston (Larry Sokolov), Paul Sorvino (Buddy Stafford)

The Cooler is a very impressive indie piece which didn't get an audience that it potentially deserved under it's limited theatrical release.
William H. Macy plays Bernie Lootz, a perpetually luckless casino employee whose job it is to bring bad luck to high rollers. Things change though when he falls in love with a new waitress, much to the disappointment of stern casino boss Shelly Kaplow.
William H. Macy gives a good leading performance here, but the standouts are Maria Bello as the love interest and Alec Baldwin, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Mark Isham's excellent jazzy score also deserves a special mention.

COP (18)
D: James B. Harris
Atlantic (James B. Harris & James Woods)
🇺🇸 1988
110 mins
W: James B. Harris [based on the novel 'Blood On The Moon' by James Ellroy]
DP: Steve Dubin
Ed: Anthony Spano
Mus: Michel Colombier
James Woods (Lloyd Hopkins), Lesley Ann Warren (Kathleen McCarthy), Charles Durning (Dutch Pelz), Charles Haid (Whitey Haines), Raymond J. Barry (Fred Gaffney), Randi Brooks (Joanie Pratt), Steven Lambert (Bobby Franco), Christopher Wynne (Jack Gibbs), Jan McGill (Jen Hopkins)
A rather standard thriller starring James Woods as a homicide detective, obsessed that a recent murder is related to a string of unresolved crimes by an unknown serial killer. 
Ostracising his family and colleagues, this movie is practically carried by Woods' excellent performance. Shame the last 10 minutes descends into clicheland. Based on a novel by James Ellroy.

"No one is above the law."
"No one is above the law."
D: James Mangold
Woods Entertainment (Cary Woods, Cathy Konrad & Ezra Swerdlow)
🇺🇸 1997
105 mins
W: James Mangold
DP: Eric Edwards
Ed: Craig McKay
Mus: Howard Shore
Sylvester Stallone (Sheriff Freddy Heflin), Harvey Keitel (Ray Donlan), Ray Liotta (Gary 'Figs' Figgis), Robert DeNiro (Moe Tilden), Peter Berg (Joey Randone), Janeane Garofalo (Deputy Cindy Betts), Robert Patrick (Jack Rucker), Michael Rapaport (Murray Babitch), Annabella Sciorra (Liz Randone)
A rather average crime drama which provides Sylvester Stallone with his best acting performance in well over a decade. He plays Freddy Heflin, a hearing impaired sheriff in a New Jersey town with a high population of lawmen from New York City where he uncovers corruption.
In fairness, the plot is all a bit of a mess, but it's worth watching simply to witness Stallone doing a very good job.

"Rock out with your glock out."
"Rock out with your glock out."
COP OUT (15)
D: Kevin Smith
Warner Bros. (Marc E. Platt, Polly Johnsen & Michael Tadross)
🇺🇸 2010
107 mins
W: Mark Cullen & Robb Cullen
DP: Dave Klein
Ed: Kevin Smith
Mus: Harold Faltermeyer
Bruce Willis (Det. Jimmy Monroe), Tracy Morgan (Det. Paul Hodges), Kevin Pollak (Hunsaker), Seann William Scott (Dave), Adam Brody (Barry Mangold)

The original title was intended to be "A Couple Of Dicks" but when the studio changed it to "A Couple Of Cops" director Kevin Smith said it was a cop out, which ironically became the new title of the movie.

It's entertaining enough as a homage to 1980's buddy-cop flicks without being particularly funny, partnering Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as two incompetent officers who are put on unpaid suspension after screwing up a drug bust.

With Willis' daughter's expensive wedding on the horizon and needing the cash to pay for it, he decides to sell a valuable baseball card, which gets stolen and winds up in the possession of the drug honcho who they're trying to bring down at the start of the movie.

The film is packed with references to other action & crime films but the jokes are more miss than hit, and all the scenes featuring Seann William Scott are particularly unfunny.

It's sad to say that without Jay & Silent Bob, Kevin Smith's films simply aren't very good.


D: Jon Amiel
Paramount (David Foster, Cooper Layne & Sean Bailey)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 🇨🇦 2003
135 mins
Science Fiction/Adventure
W: Cooper Layne
DP: John Lindley 
Ed: Terry Rawlings
Mus: Christopher Young
Aaron Eckhart (Dr. Joshua Keyes), Hilary Swank (Maj. Rebecca Childs), Delroy Lindo (Dr. Edward Brazzleton), Stanley Tucci (Dr. Conrad Zimsky), Bruce Greenwood (Cmmdr. Bob Iverson)
A group of scientists have to travel deep into the Earth's core to prevent a series of natural disasters.
It's Armageddon, except it isn't in space, but it has the far-fetched plot, ridiculous physics, cardboard characters and goofy dialogue. The special effects are good at some points but rather poor elsewhere but the worst thing about this is the plotholes & idiotic science (the world has stopped turning but it's the same time in Hawaii, Alaska, LA, London, Paris & Rome). Brainless entertainment reminiscent of science fiction B-movies & disaster movies of yesteryear but Jules Verne it isn't...

D: Francis Ford Coppola 
Orion/Zoetrope (Robert Evans)
🇺🇸 1984
127 mins


W: William Kennedy, Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo
DP: Stephen Goldblatt
Ed: Barry Malkin & Robert Q. Lovett
Mus: John Barry
PD: Richard Sylbert
Cos: Milena Canonero

Richard Gere (Dixie Dwyer), Gregory Hines (Sandman Williams), Diane Lane (Vera Cicero), Lonette McKee (Lila Rose Oliver), James Remar (Dutch Schultz), Nicolas Cage (Vincent Dwyer), Bob Hoskins (Owney Madden), Fred Gwynne (Frenchy Demange)

Francis Ford Coppola's career never really recovered following this giant box office failure of 1984, crippling its studio with the huge outlaw of $50 million in production costs.
Set in a famous Harlem nightclub frequented by gangsters, the story follows various characters as they each have a brush with the mob, though the plot mostly focuses on the romance which develops between a jazz trumpeter (Richard Gere) and a gangster's moll (Diane Lane).
Though the film is sumptuous and dazzling to look at, the plot is sluggish and the characters are poorly written. The majority of the performances aren't bad, with the exception of Diane Lane, who is practically a deer in headlights throughout the running time.
Overall, it's a bit like Bugsy Malone, but with adults in the cast, and nowhere near as much fun.
While The Cotton Club goes down in film history as one of the biggest flops of all time, it remains something of a curiosity, quite like 1981's Heaven's Gate. It's not a totally awful film, it just couldn't strike a chord with audiences when it needed to.

D: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Metronome (Josef Aicholzer, Nina Bohlmann & Babette Schröder)
🇦🇹 🇩🇪 🇫🇷 2007
98 mins


W: Stefan Ruzowitzky 
DP: Benedict Neuenfels
Ed: Britta Nahler
Mus: Marius Ruhland
PD: Isidor Wimmer

Karl Markovics (Salomon Sorowitsch), August Diehl (Adolf Burger), Devid Striesow (Sturmbannführer Herzog), Martin Brambach (Haupsturmführer Holst)

A remarkable true story about a group of Jews forced to forge banknotes from a concentration camp in WWII Germany.
Torn between their will to stay alive and the politics of funding the Nazi regime, there is in-fighting amongst the group, headed by fantastic lead performances from Karl Markovics and August Diehl.
An Oscar winner for Foreign Language Film, this film is well recommended to fans of foreign cinema and/or great war movies.

D: Joe Roth
Warner Bros./Morgan Creek (Larry Brezner & Paul Schiff)
🇺🇸 1990
97 mins
W: Mike Pinder
DP: Reynaldo Villalobos
Ed: Paul Hirsch
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Angelo Graham
Patrick Dempsey (Bobby Libner), Ayre Gross (Buddy Libner), Daniel Stern (Marvin Libner), Alan Arkin (Fred Libner)
A low key road movie with lots of heart, set in the 1960's featuring three brothers who drive a Cadillac Coupe de Ville from Michigan to Miami for their mother's birthday. The film concentrates on the relationship between the three brothers, with some good dialogue and a decent soundtrack of 60's songs.

"It may be paradise, but it's no vacation."
"It may be paradise, but it's no vacation."
D: Peter Billingsley
Universal/Relativity Media (Scott Stuber & Vince Vaughn)
🇺🇸 2009
113 mins
W: Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Dana Fox, Curtis Hanson, Greg Beeman & Peter Billingsley 
DP: Eric Edwards
Ed: Pietro Scalia & Dan Lebantal
Mus: A. R. Rahman
Vince Vaughn (Dave), Malin Åkerman (Ronnie), Jon Favreau (Joey), Kristin Davis (Lucy), Kristen Bell (Cynthia), Jason Bateman (Jason), Faizon Love (Shane), Kali Hawk (Trudy)
Considering some of the talent involved, you'd be forgiven for wanting much more from this bland comedy.
A professional synopsis would say that this is a film about a group of couples who go on vacation together and end up behaving badly. An honest synopsis would say it's a group of actors playing the same characters they've played in several films before and still expect to be applauded for it. 
The saddest thing is that some audience members do.

D: Mark Rydell
Warner Bros/Sanford (Mark Rydell)
🇺🇸 1972
128 mins


W: Irving Ravetsch & Harriet Frank, Jr [based on the novel by William Dale Jennings]
DP: Robert Surtees
Ed: Robert Swink & Neil Travis
Mus: John Williams

John Wayne (Will Anderson), Roscoe Lee Browne (Jebediah Nightlinger), Bruce Dern (Asa Watts), Slim Pickens (Anse Peterson), Sarah Cunningham (Annie Anderson), A. Martinez (Cimarron)

John Wayne does his usual as a grizzled cattle driver who, after being deserted by his ranch hands, enlists the help of eleven schoolboys to assist him.
After falling foul of three outlaws, they take on a mission of revenge.
A decent western, though it wasn't helped by being released in the wrong decade and does stretch on for a little too long. 
Roscoe Lee Browne is probably the standout of the cast and the cinematography and music are very good.
A short-lived television series followed a few years later.

"First contact, last stand."
"First contact, last stand."
D: Jon Favreau
Universal/Paramount/Dreamworks/Imagine/Relativity Media (Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Alex Kurtzmann, Roberto Orci & Scott Mitchell Rosenberg)
🇺🇸 2011
118 mins

Science Fiction/Western/Adventure

W: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzmann, Damon Lindelhof, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby [based on the comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg)
DP: Matthew Libatique
Ed: Dan Lebental & Jim May
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams

Daniel Craig (Jake Lonergan), Harrison Ford (Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde), Olivia Wilde (Ella Swenson), Sam Rockwell (Doc), Paul Dano (Percy Dolarhyde)

The title says all you need to know about the story; a Wild West outlaw discovers a piece of futuristic technology sparking a war develops between mankind and the alien species. That's about the long and short of it.
A crossover of genres which probably worked better as a graphic novel. The film itself is nonsensical brainless popcorn entertainment, with a woefully miscast Harrison Ford. Olivia Wilde is pleasing on the eye though.
Not completely terrible, but certainly not very good.

"Tonight, they're calling the shots."
"Tonight, they're calling the shots."
D: David McNally
Touchstone (Jerry Bruckheimer)
🇺🇸 2000
100 mins
W: Gina Wenkdos
DP: Amir Mokri
Ed: William Goldenberg
Mus: Trevor Horn
PD: Jon Hutman
Piper Perabo (Violet Sanford), Adam Garcia (Kevin O'Donnell), Maria Bello (Lil Lovell), John Goodman (Bill Sanford), Melanie Lynskey (Gloria), Bridget Moynahan (Rachel), Tyra Banks (Zoe)
The term 'Beer Goggles' refers to your perception of things when you consume vast amounts of alcohol as depicted by some of the characters in this movie. I'd recommend drinking as much if you're settling down to watch this trash, the theory being that you'll be asleep before the opening credits have transpired.
I could waste my time writing a tirade about what is wrong with the actual movie, but it would be a complete waste of time and keystrokes. Young girls who don't know any better won't pay any attention to any negative publicity this bile gets, they'll just watch it, vainly hoping that if they look reasonably pretty, and open their legs to opportunity, their life will be a breeze too. The same young girls will probably watch this film in a double bill of a Katie Price/Jordan/Paris Hilton show on the ITV2 network's Thursday night slot of dumb-ass programmes.
Piper Parabo is terrible in this movie, although she can't be held accountable for such an unlikeable character. In a key scene which points out what a doxy she is, she waltzes into a record company HQ like she's the Queen of England and demands that they listen to her music and sign her up. Because that's how it happens in real life isn't it? I write film reviews online, it doesn't make me Siskel & fucking Ebert! They could have made this a 'Working Girl' for the 21st century, but it's closer not to Melanie Griffith's industrious heroine, but rather Bambi Woods in Debbie Does Dallas.
D: Andrew Fleming
Columbia (Douglas Wick)
🇺🇸 1996
100 mins
W: Peter Filardi & Andrew Fleming
DP: Alexander Gruszynski
Ed: Jeff Freeman
Mus: Graeme Revell
Robin Tunney (Sarah Bailey), Fairuza Balk (Nancy Downs), Neve Campbell (Bonnie Hyper), Rachel True (Rocchelle Zimmerman), Skeet Ulrich (Chris Hooker)
Four girls at a high school practice witchcraft and use sorcery for their own means, but soon find out the negative repercussions of using such magic.
The film predates the basis for a TV show called Charmed and would probably appeal most to fans of that programme and teenage girls in general.
For everyone else it's rather tedious and unoriginal. Still, it was a surprise hit in 1996 and has gone on to have a cult following.
CRASH (18)
D: David Cronenberg
Columbia Tristar/Alliance (David Cronenberg)
🇨🇦 1996
98 mins


W: David Cronenberg [based on the novel by J.G. Ballard]
DP: Peter Suschitzky 
Ed: Ronald Sanders
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Carol Spier

James Spader (James Ballard), Holly Hunter (Dr. Helen Remington), Elias Koteas (Vaughan), Deborah Unger (Catherine Ballard), Rosanna Arquette (Gabrielle)

A repulsively unlikeable yet compelling drama about a group of people who are sexually aroused by car crashes, a psychiatric term also referred to as paraphilia.
Director/writer David Cronenberg does a good job adapting a novel which would always prove difficult for a big screen transition, the biggest change of which being the relocation of the story from London to the other side of the Atlantic.
It's an impossible film to enjoy watching, but it has a raw form of power about fetishism and eroticism which hadn't dared been tackled before and is very tastefully made considering the subject matter.
CRASH (15)
D: Paul Haggis
Pathé (Cathy Schulman, Don Cheadle, Paul Haggis, Mark Harris, Bobby Moresco & Bob Yari)
🇺🇸 🇩🇪 🇦🇺 2004 (released 2005)
112 mins


W: Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco
DP: J. Michael Muro
Ed: Hughes Winborne
Mus: Mark Isham
PD: Laurence Bennett

Sandra Bullock (Jean), Don Cheadle (Graham), Matt Dillon (Officer Ryan), Jennifer Esposito (Ria), Brendan Fraser (Rick), Terrence Howard (Cameron), Chris Bridges (Anthony), Thandie Newton (Christine), Michael Peña (Daniel)

Though originally released on a limited theatrical run in 2004, it wasn't until a wider release in 2005 that Crash began to grab attention.
Racial tensions overspill in Los Angeles in the weeks running up to Christmas, with a diverse range of characters interacting, seemingly 'crashing' into one another's lives.
The stories and characters range quite widely, beginning with a car-jacking of a politician and his wife, a racist policeman's molestation of a TV producer's wife and a convenience store robbery which sees an innocent man suspected of committing the crime.
This is a film which split audiences, one half with the opinion that it was overly sentimental, clichéd and schmaltzy, whilst the other half thought it was an excellent representation of racism amongst a multicultural society.  I'm siding with the latter.
I can't be the only person who thinks so either... Winner of the Best Picture Oscar for 2005.

"Why are the good people dying?"
"Why are the good people dying?"
D: George A. Romero
Pittsburgh Films (A. C. Croft)
🇺🇸 1973
99 mins
W: George A. Romero & Paul McCollough     
DP: S. William Hinzman
Ed: George A. Romero
Mus: Bruce Roberts
Lane Carroll (Judy), Will MacMillan (David), Harold Wayne Jones (Clank), Lloyd Hollar (Col. Peckem), Lynn Lowry (Kathy), Richard Liberty (Artie), Richard France (Dr. Watts)
George Romero's follow up to Night Of The Living Dead is typical B-movie stuff with a decent story but rather messily executed.
An outbreak of a manmade virus in a small Pennsylvania town turns all the townsfolk crazy, cue the army to quarantine the area and contain the population by marshal law, leading to a rebellion from the people which inevitably becomes chaotic lawlessness and mania.
The performances and dialogue are incredibly poor, certainly not helped by fuzzy sound recording, choppy editing and questionable stock footage.
For its age and meagre budget it's not awful, but a huge step down from Romero's seminal debut.

"Insanity is infectious."
"Insanity is infectious."
D: Breck Eisner
Overture/Participant Media (Michael Aguilar, Dean Georgaris & Rob Cowan)
🇺🇸 2010
98 mins


W: Scott Kosar & Ray Wright [based on a screenplay by George A. Romero & Paul McCollough]
DP: Maxime Alexandre
Ed: Billy Fox
Mus: Mark Isham

Timothy Olyphant (David Dutten), Radha Mitchell (Judy Dutten), Joe Anderson (Russell Clank), Christie Lynn Smith (Deardra Farnum)

Update of the 1973 film which relocates the action to a small Iowa community and benefits from having an increased budget. It doesn't explain itself as well as the original film, so if you haven't seen Romero's version you'll probably wonder what the hell is going on. For the first hour or so it's still quite faithful to the original film before it begins to settle on a half-arsed zombie flick which pretty much falls apart after the ludicrous "car wash scene".
The only improvement on the first film is that the characters have surnames.

"The harder the life, the sweeter the song"
"The harder the life, the sweeter the song"
D: Scott Cooper
Fox Searchlight/Informant Media/Butchers Run (Robert Duvall, Rob Carliner, Judy Cairo & T-Bone Burnett)
🇺🇸 2009
106 mins
W: Scott Cooper
DP: Barry Markowitz
Ed: John Axelrad
Mus: Stephen Bruton & T-Bone Burnett
PD: Waldemar Kalinowski
Jeff Bridges (Bad Blake), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Jean Craddock), Robert Duvall (Wayne Kramer), Colin Farrell (Tommy Sweet)
Jeff Bridges won a long-awaited and well deserved Oscar for his performance as Bad Blake, an alcoholic country music singer who receives much needed salvation from a single mother journalist.
The film has many similarities to 1983's Tender Mercies, which also saw Robert Duvall win a Best Actor Oscar as a washed up Country & Western singer. 
They're both good movies, but the ultimate enjoyment factor heavily depends on whether or not you're a fan of that particular genre of music.
Jeff Bridges really does act his heart out in this, and his singing isn't too shabby either.

"A comedy about truth in advertising."
"A comedy about truth in advertising."
D: Tony Bill
UIP/Paramount (Thomas Barad)
🇺🇸 1990
92 mins
W: Mitch Markowitz
DP: Victor J. Kemper
Ed: Mia Goldman
Mus: Cliff Eidelman
Dudley Moore (Emory Leeson), Daryl Hannah (Kathy Burgess), Paul Reiser (Stephen Backman), J.T. Walsh (Drucker), Mercedes Ruehl (Dr. Baylor), David Paymer (George)
An advertising executive runs a campaign where his ads tell the truth about the product and is subsequently sent to a mental institution. However, when the adverts are published in error, they receive huge popularity due to their honesty.
The first half of the movie is a brilliant satire on commercialism with some hilarious moments, but it completely loses itself in the second half, becoming a half-arsed love story and the satirical roots of the story completely fall apart.
It's a shame, because there was some genuine potential in the first act.

D: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Warner Bros./Carousel (Steve Carell & Denise di Novi)
🇺🇸 2011
118 mins
W: Dan Fogelman
DP: Andrew Dunn
Ed: Lee Haxall
Mus: Christophe Beck
Steve Carell (Cal Weaver), Ryan Gosling (Jacob Palmer), Julianne Moore (Emily Weaver), Emma Stone (Hannah Weaver), Marisa Tomei (Kate Tafferty), Kevin Bacon (David Lindhagen)    
A middle aged divorcee receives tips on how to objectify women from a young, hip go-getter, who subsequently falls in love with the divorcee's daughter.
Superficial, sexist, misogynistic, materialistic, disingenuous rom-com bollocks with a good cast given average dialogue.  
Julianne Moore is probably the most realistic character in the entire film, the rest of them epitomise everything shallow about 21st century lifestyle and mannerisms. There's some cute physical chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, but their characters aren't well written enough to make you really care about their relationship and whether they end up together.
Crazy, stupid shit.

D: William Malone
Trans World Entertainment (William G. Dunn, Jr. & William Malone)
🇺🇸 1984 (released 1985)
97 mins
Science Fiction/Horror

W: William Malone
DP: Harry Mathias
Ed: Bette Jane Cohen
Mus: Thomas Chase & Steve Rucker

Stan Ivar (Capt. Mike Davison), Wendy Schaal (Beth Sladen), Lyman Ward (David Perkins), Robert Jaffe (Jon Fennel), Diane Salinger (Melanie Bryce), Annette McCarthy (Dr. Wendy Oliver), Klaus Kinski (Hans Hofner)

A group of astronauts discover a dormant alien on one of Saturn's moons which begins to kill them off one-by-one.
Straight to video Alien ripoff which isn't even subtle with its plagiarism, utilising the same plot, similar characters and even using the same music cues as the 1979 sci-fi classic. There's a bit of a twist in the final half hour, when it chooses the plot from The Thing (qv) as its source of inspiration.
The only originality comes in the form of the creature design, which is far from amazing, but can at least be forgiven considering the modest budget of the production. This aspect must have been admired by director James Cameron, who used the same creature designers when he made Aliens, which happens to be in a completely different universe to this cheaply-produced mess.

D: Nick Park
Aardman/Channel 4 (Sara Mullock)
🇬🇧 1989
5 mins
W: Nick Park
A clever and inventive animated short film presenting animals discussing their pleasures and dislikes of living in a zoo.
The creator went on to have great success with similarly animated Wallace & Gromit films, whilst this went on to have success of it's own, spawning a series of TV commercials and various merchandise.

"Your legacy is more than a name."
"Your legacy is more than a name."
CREED (12)
D: Ryan Coogler
Warner Bros/MGM/New Line (Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Kevin King-Templeton & Sylvester Stallone)
🇺🇸 2015
133 mins


W: Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington [based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone]
DP: Maryse Alberti
Ed: Michael P. Shawver & Claudia Castello
Mus: Ludwig Göransson 

Michael B. Jordan (Adonis Johnson), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa), Tessa Thompson (Bianca), Phylicia Rashad (Mary Anne Creed), Tony Bellew ('Pretty' Ricky Conlan)

40 years on from the original Rocky and with original star Sylvester Stallone far too old to be stepping inside the ring, the mantle has passed to a new contender, Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate child of Rocky's original nemesis turned trainer and friend, Apollo Creed.
Michael B. Jordan is impressive as the young underdog, who is out to make a name for himself in the ring in his own right, rather than ride on the coattails of his father's legendary success, and with Rocky coaching the young up-and-comer, they find themselves facing a championship bout with a Liverpudlian brawler who sees the match as a chance to beat a legendary name.
As a standalone film, Creed is rather unspectacular, but when compared with some of the other Rocky sequels, it's one of the more serious and far better ones. Sylvester Stallone earned many plaudits, including an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor, for reprising the role which made him a household name, and there were some who called it a sympathy vote. Personally, I think he deserved the accolades, considering his career has been littered with some poor acting performances, it's refreshing to see him return to a character which fits him like a glove.
Whether Creed has enough legs to continue a franchise in its own right remains to be seen, but this isn't a bad film for fans of boxing films or the original Rocky series.


D: Steven Caple, Jr.

MGM/New Line (Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King-Templeton, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler & Irwin Winkler)

US 2018

130 mins


W: Sylvester Stallone & Juel Taylor [based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone]

DP: Kramer Morgenthau

Ed: Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider & Paul Harb

Mus: Ludwig Göransson

Michael B. Jordan (Adonis Creed), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa), Tessa Thompson (Bianca Taylor), Dolph Lundgren (Ivan Drago), Florian Munteanu (Viktor Drago), Phylicia Rashad (Mary Anne Creed)

When the first Creed movie was released in 2015, I enjoyed it on its own merits, but I also wondered whether the Rocky franchise had ran out of steam and whether or not a retread for a new generation had enough legs. Creed II proves that there's still life in the series, not only financially for the studio's bottom line but also thematically & entertainment purposes.

If the first Creed movie could be deemed a rejig of the first Rocky movie, it seemed from the trailers and marketing as though this sequel was a retread of Rocky IV, revisiting Ivan Drago and his son as the antagonists albeit without the Cold War backdrop (which was  way too cheesy in the 1985 movie).

The blueprints are pretty much the same here. Protagonist boxer has the heavyweight title, antagonist boxer wants it, first fight ends badly, training montages ensue, protagonist makes amends, all padded out with domestic issues, ethical disputes and a little dash of romance, and though the running time does exceed the 120 minute mark it does not feel like a 130 minute movie, all due to good pacing, solid performances and a well-delivered theme about fatherhood which runs through the narrative. Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson are all excellent, but special mention has to go to Dolph Lundgren, who I never considered a good actor, but he is exceptionally good in this, as a fallen star forcefully influencing his son to follow in his footsteps and succeed where he failed.

Even though it's a film about boxing, it's not a film about boxing, and as a sequel I think it surpasses the original for quality, so much so, that it makes Rocky IV a better film.

A must watch for fans of the Rocky movies and first Creed film, and even worth catching if you want to see a thoroughly entertaining sports drama.


"Five jolting tales of horror!"
"Five jolting tales of horror!"
D: George A. Romero
United/Laurel (Richard P. Rubenstein)
🇺🇸 1982
120 mins
W: Stephen King
DP: Michael Gornick
Ed: George A. Romero, Pasquale Buba, Paul Hirsch & Michael Spolan
Mus: John Harrison
Carrie Nye (Sylvia Grantham), Viveca Lindfors (Bedelia Grantham), Ed Harris (Hank Blaine), Stephen King (Jordy Verrill), Leslie Nielsen (Richard Vickers), Ted Danson (Harry Wentworth), Hal Holbrook (Henry Northup), Adrienne Barbeau (Wilma Northup), E.G. Marshall (Upson Pratt)
A compendium of grizzly tales (titled "Father's Day", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", "Something To Tide You Over", "The Crate" and "They're Creeping Up On You"), all of which were written by horror maestro Stephen King and presented in a comic-book style.
Some of the stories are better than others, with the first one being below average and culminating in a rather grotesque one. The weakest, by far, of the stories is the one featuring King himself as a hillbilly who discovers an asteroid in his back yard, but the three segments which follow make the entire anthology worth a watch.
Not an easy film to review as a whole, since the sums of all its parts are so inconsistent.


D: Guillermo del Toro

Universal/Legendary (Guillermo del Toro, Callum Greene, Jon Jashni & Thomas Tull)

🇺🇸 2015

119 mins


W: Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins

DP: Dan Laustsen

Ed: Bernat Vilaplana

Mus: Fernando Velazquez 

PD: Tom Sanders

Cos: Kate Hawley

Mia Wasikowska (Edith Cushing), Jessica Chastain (Lady Lucille Sharpe), Tom Hiddlestone (Sir Thomas Sharpe), Charlie Hunnam (Dr. Alan McMichael)

It wouldn't be too unfair to consider Guillermo del Toro as the Mexican Tim Burton. The filmmaker fills his movies with dark material, gothic visuals and meticulous attention paid to period detail and production design. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work when the principal focus isn't on the story, and though Crimson Peak is quite wonderful to look at, the storyline is quite dire.

Set in the Victorian Era, a young woman is torn between two lovers, a childhood sweetheart and a mysterious stranger. Following a tragic family event, she moves into a house which is seemingly haunted and more tragedy unfolds.

Aside from fine production design and costumes, the story is quite boring, with an ending which is predictable from the opening moments.

Pan's Labyrinth was probably the height of del Toro's successes, but his foray since into directing American films just haven't yet reached the filmmaker's previous heights. 


"Danger Runs Deep."
"Danger Runs Deep."
D: Tony Scott
Hollywood Pictures (Jerry Bruckheimer & Don Simpson)
🇺🇸 1995
116 mins


W: Michael Schiffer
DP: Dariusz Wolski
Ed: Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Hans Zimmer

Denzel Washington (Lt. Cmmdr. Ron Hunter), Gene Hackman (Capt. Frank Ramsey), George Dzundza (Chief of the Boat), Viggo Mortensen (Lt. Peter 'Weps' Ince), James Gandolfini (Lt. Bobby Dougherty), Matt Craven (Lt. Roy Zimmer)

America's version of Das Boot (qv), set deep beneath the ocean waves on a nuclear submarine during a time of political conflict with post-Cold War Russia. The patriotically traditional captain of the boat (Hackman) and his more liberally-minded executive officer (Washington) have conflicting management styles which create tension and confusion when they receive truncated orders for a missile strike. 
Crimson Tide is quite unlike other action films from producer duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, focusing more on individual clashes than brainless explosions and pyrotechnics, and though it does tone down some the subject material for a wider audience, the script is quite excellent, bolstered by two two superb leading performances, between whom the majority of the conflict happens.
Quentin Tarantino served as an uncredited screenwriter for some of the dialogue, and it's quite easy to tell which scenes he contributed to.

"They eat so fast you won't have time to scream."
"They eat so fast you won't have time to scream."
D: Stephen Herek
New Line/Smart Egg/Sho Films (Rupert Harvey)
🇺🇸 1986
86 mins

Science Fiction/Horror

W: Stephen Herek & Dominic Muir
DP: Tim Suhrstedt 
Ed: Larry Bock
Mus: David Newman
PD: Gregg Fonseca

Dee Wallace Stone (Helen Brown), Billy Green Bush (Jay Brown), Scott Grimes (Brad Brown), M. Emmet Walsh (Harv), Don Opper (Charlie McFadden), Terence Mann (Ug / Johnny Steel)

In a rural Kansas town, a species of small furry aliens terrorise the locals and a family try and prevent the attack of their farm with the help of a pair of intergalactic bounty hunters.
It's much better than it has any right to be, with some great creature effects, moments of comedy and a few scenes which cause a fright.
The massive success of 1984's Gremlins saw a huge surge of horror-comedies involving small, scary things, and it's unfortunate the Critters was lumped in amongst the crowd, it has enough originality about it to stand on its own. It's also unfortunate that the trio of sequels were much less fun.

D: Mick Garris
New Line/Smart Egg/Sho Films (Barry Opper)
🇺🇸 1988
86 mins
Science Fiction/Horror
W: David Twohy & Mick Garris
DP: Russell Carpenter
Ed: Charles Bornstein
Mus: Nicolas Pike
Terrence Mann (Ug), Don Opper (Charlie McFadden), Scott Grimes (Brad Brown)
Retread of the first film with the carnivorous furball aliens terrorising the rural Kansas town of Grover's Bend once again. 
Though a handful of actors reprise their roles from the first film, this sequel fails to repeat the comedy, horror or general enjoyment of the first film, and the visual effects are of much poorer quality.
It's still the best sequel of the series, but only because the two films that followed were completely terrible.

D: Kristine Peterson
New Line (Rupert Harvey & Don Opper)
🇺🇸 1991
86 mins
Science Fiction/Horror
W: David J. Schow
DP: Tom Callaway
Ed: Terry Stokes
Mus: David C. Williams
Aimee Brooks (Annie), John Calvin (Clifford), Leonardo DiCaprio (Josh), Don Opper (Charlie McFadden), Terrence Mann (Ug)
The violent little beasties from the first two films return again, this time to wreak havoc on the residents of a Los Angeles apartment complex, presumably because they simply had enough of Kansas.
It isn't good in any respect, but is notable for Leonardo DiCaprio's debut performance (this is not worth watching the film for though, even if you are a massive fan of the actor).

"In space, they love to hear you scream."
"In space, they love to hear you scream."
D: Rupert Harvey
New Line (Rupert Harvey & Don Opper)
🇺🇸 1992
90 mins
Science Fiction/Horror
W: David J. Schow & Joseph Lyle
DP: Tom Callaway
Ed: Terry Stokes
Mus: Peter Manning Robinson
Don Opper (Charlie McFadden), Terrence Mann (Ug), Angela Bassett (Fran), Brad Dourif (Al Bert)
Fourth and final of the Critters movies which moves away from the formula of the first three films to be more of a low-budget parody of the film Alien, with a team of intergalactic assassins onboard a space station trying to obtain the last remaining creatures from incarceration to prevent them from being used for biological warfare.
The Critters themselves are practically reduced to bit parts and it's all rather stupid.
D: Peter Faiman
Paramount/Rimfire (John Cornell)
🇦🇺 1986
102 mins
W: Paul Hogan, Ken Shadie & John Cornell
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: David Stiven
Mus: Peter Best
Paul Hogan (Michael J. 'Crocodile' Dundee), Linda Kozlowski (Sue Charlton), John Meillon (Wally Reilly), Mark Blum (Richard Mason), Michael Lombard (Sam Charlton), David Gulpilil (Neville Bell), Irving Metzman (Doorman), Reginald Veljohnson (Gus)
A New York journalist travels to the Australian outback to write an article on a crocodile hunter and takes him back to the big city to close the story, his first ever trip out of the bush.
A Tarzan-esque spin on a fish out of water tale, with several hilarious moments and a sweet romance blossoming between the two main characters.  It doesn't have great originality, but it's very well scripted with some very memorable dialogue and the finale is one of the best endings to any film of 1980's, winning the hearts of even the most stone-hearted audience.
The film seemed to be coincide with a general public obsession with everything Australian, going on to become one of the biggest box office hits of 1986.
D: John Cornell
Paramount/Rimfire (John Cornell & Jane Scott)
🇦🇺 🇺🇸 1988
111 mins
W: Paul Hogan & Brett Hogan
DP: Russell Boyd
Ed: David Stiven
Mus: Peter Best
Paul Hogan (Michael J. 'Crocodile' Dundee), Linda Kozlowski (Sue Charlton), John Meillon (Walter Reilly), Hechter Ubarry (Luis Rico), Juan Fernandez (Miguel), Charles Dutton (Leroy Brown)
A cash-grab sequel which sheds most of the fish out of water formula in favour of a corny kidnapping story, with journalist Sue Charlton held to ransom by a drug dealer over incriminating photographs taken by her former colleague & partner.
The humour doesn't match that from the first movie, but as far as sequels go this certainly isn't terrible and is quite fun, especially if you're a fan of the first movie and the title character. 
Aimed at a much younger audience for it's Tarzan-like hero, and though it is incredibly silly, it does provoke a smile or two, even if you have to remove your brain to really appreciate it. 

D: Simon Wincer
Paramount/Silver Lion/Bangalow (Lance Hool & Paul Hogan)
🇺🇸 🇦🇺 2001
105 mins
W: Matthew Berry & Eric Abrams [based on characters created by Paul Hogan, Ken Shadie & John Cornell]
DP: David Burr
Ed: Terry Blythe
Mus: Basil Poledouris
Paul Hogan (Michael J. 'Crocodile' Dundee), Linda Kozlowski (Sue Charlton), Jere Burns (Arnan Rothman), Jonathan Banks (Milos Drubnik), Alec Wilson (Jacko), Mike Tyson (himself)
The term 'flogging a dead horse' comes very much to mind. 13 years after the previous film and 15 after the original, crocodile hunter Mick Dundee is now living in Los Angeles with his journalist girlfriend, Sue Charlton, and their young son. While Sue investigates a shady film producer, Mick finds work as a film extra, but when that doesn't work out as planned he becomes an animal trainer.
The character made famous in the 1980's is reduced to a cross between Doctor Dolittle and Tarzan. There's very little entertainment and even less humour for even the most ardent or nostalgic of fans. 

D: Guillermo del Toro
October/Iguana/Ventana (Arthur H. Gorson)     
🇲🇽 1992
92 mins
W: Guillermo del Toro
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Raul Davalos
Mus: Javier Alvarez
Federico Luppi (Jesus Gris), Ron Perlman (Angel de la Guardia), Claudio Brook (Dieter de la Guardia)
An antiques dealer discovers a 400-year old clockwork device which contains a bloodsucking insect which bestows immortality.
A novel, imaginative twist on vampire legend directed with a stylish atmosphere by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.
"Dreams change. Friends are forever?"
"Dreams change. Friends are forever?"
D: Tamra Davis
Paramount/MTV (Ann Carli)
🇺🇸 2002
93 mins


W: Shonda Rhimes
DP: Eric Edwards
Ed: Melissa Kent
Mus: Trevor Jones

Britney Spears (Lucy Wagner), Anson Mount (Ben), Zoe Saldana (Kit), Taryn Manning (Mimi), Kim Cattrall (Caroline Wagner), Dan Aykroyd (Pete Wagner), Justin Long (Henry)

Britney Spears fannies around in her bra and knickers, sings a song about not being a girl, or a woman (hermaphrodite perhaps?) and attempts to deliver any kind of depth to an acting performance. It doesn't work. At all.
There is a story somewhere in this about a group of girls on a road trip, but let's be honest, who really gives a shit?
Thankfully, a career in movies didn't materialise for the pop singer.

D: Ang Lee
Columbia Tristar/UCV/SPC/Good Machine/Edko/Zoom Hunt (Bill Kong, Hsu Li Kong & Ang Lee)
🇹🇼 🇭🇰 2000
120 mins


W: James Schamus, Wang Hui Lang & Tsai Kuo Jung [based on the novel "Wo Hu Cang Long" by Wang Du Lu]
DP: Peter Pau 
Ed: Tim Squyres
Mus: Tan Dun
PD: Tim Yip
Cos: Tim Yip

Chow Yun Fat (Li Mu Bai), Michelle Yeoh (Yu Shu Lien), Zhang Ziyi (Jen Yu), Chang Chen (Lo), Siheng Lung (Ser Te), Chang Pei-Pei (Jade Fox)

An arthouse twist on the martial arts film, rejuvenating a genre which had been out of favour for nearly two decades. 
There's even a little romance thrown in, not only between Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen's characters, but also Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeo's.
The story centres around the theft of a valuable sword and the owner's quest to regain possession of it, reigniting a war between himself and a cunning witch.
It's very beautifully photographed and the fight choreography is excellent, but it's made not to appeal to fans of martial arts movies but rather broaden the fan base for them films, which may leave some viewers short changed.     
It's meticulous craft must be acknowledged, as well as the fact that this became one of the most successful foreign language films in cinema history.

D: Mike Hodges
BFI/Little Bird/Channel 4 (Jonathan Cavendish)
🇬🇧 🇮🇪 🇫🇷 1997 
94 mins
W: Paul Mayersberg
DP: Michael Garfath
Ed: Les Healey
Mus: Simon Fisher-Turner
Clive Owen (Jack Manfred), Kate Hardie (Bella), Alex Kingston (Jani de Villiers), Gina McKee (Marion Nell)
A lukewarm hit when it was originally released in 1997, but after it received a cult following in the US it was re-released in 2000 to much better receipts, launching a successful career of it's lead actor, Clive Owen.
He plays Jack Manfred, a budding author and former croupier who returns to work in the casino, where he avoids the temptations to be dishonest, especially when South African femme fatale Jani de Villiers (Alex Kingston) becomes one of his regular customers.
It's a low key thriller with a neat ending, but the real asset is the performance of Clive Owen. He really should have been the new James Bond rather than Daniel Craig.

D: Alex Proyas
Dimension (Edward R. Pressman & Jeff Most)     
🇺🇸 1994
100 mins


W: David J. Schow & John Shirley [based on the comic book by James O'Barr]
DP: Dariusz Wolski
Ed: Dov Hoenig & Scott Smith
Mus: Graeme Revell
PD: Alex McDowell
Cos: Arianne Phillips

Brandon Lee (Eric Draven), Michael Wincott (Top Dollar), Rochelle Davis (Sarah), Ernie Hudson (Albrecht), David Patrick Kelly (T-Bird), Michael Berryman (Skull Cowboy)

A stunningly gothic piece of comic book fantasy, which is also known for an unfortunate on-set accident which led to the death of the lead actor halfway through the shoot, meaning body doubles and digital effects had to be used to complete filming.
The movie itself is a fine piece of work, accomplished in bringing its dark anti-hero to the screen, a rock guitarist who returns from the dead, accompanied by a crow, to wreak revenge on those responsible for his murder and his girlfriend's.
The cult following speaks for itself.
D: Roger Kumble
Columbia/Newmarket (Neal H. Moritz)
🇺🇸 1999
95 mins


W: Roger Kumble [based on the novel 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' by Choderlos de Laclos]
DP: Theo Van de Sande
Ed: Jeff Freeman
Mus: Edward Shearmur 
PD: Jon Gary Steele

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Kathryn Merteuil), Ryan Phillippe (Sebastian Valmont), Reese Witherspoon (Annette Hargrove), Selma Blair (Cecile Caldwell), Louise Fletcher (Helen Rosemond)

A teenage version of Dangerous Liaisons (qv), set at an American high school where two of the rich, cool kids make a bet over a young girl's virginity.     
It is quite adequately done, with a couple of good performances and a rather infamous scene involving a lesbian kiss, the ending is a complete anti-climax however, and really lets the entire film down.
Two truly terrible sequels followed.

"He thought he was just a crush. He was dead wrong."
"He thought he was just a crush. He was dead wrong."
D: Alan Shapiro
Warner Bros./Morgan Creek (James G.         Robinson)
🇺🇸 1993
89 mins
W: Alan Shapiro
DP: Bruce Surtees
Ed: Ian Crafford
Mus: Graeme Revell
Alicia Silverstone (Adrian Forrester), Cary Elwes (Nick Eliot), Jennifer Rubin (Amy Madick), Kurtwood Smith (Cliff Forrester)
A teenage girl develops a crush on her new neighbour and becomes violent where he spurns her advances.
It's all a rather predictable, unoriginal twist on the friend/girlfriend/flatmate/babysitter from hell formula which came out of the woodwork in numbers during the early 90's.
Notable for giving Alicia Silverstone her film breakthrough after appearing in a number of music videos, but aside from that it's all rather unremarkable.
"He's a doll. He's a dreamboat. He's a delinquent."
"He's a doll. He's a dreamboat. He's a delinquent."
D: John Waters
UIP/Imagine (Rachel Talalay)
🇺🇸 1990
85 mins
W: John Waters
DP: David Insley
Ed: Janice Hampton
Mus: Patrick Williams
PD: Vincent Paranio
Johnny Depp (Wade 'Cry-Baby' Walker), Amy Locane (Allison Vernon-Williams), Polly Bergen (Mrs. Vernon-Williams), Ricki Lake (Pepper Walker), Traci Lords (Wanda Woodward)
A teenage delinquent falls in love with an upper class girl in 1960's Baltimore.     
A guilty pleasure movie which helped propel Johnny Depp's career after a stint on a television show. Fans of Grease and other John Waters movies will most certainly enjoy it, as should most Johnny Depp fans.
Kitsch, but good enough to inspire a musical stage play of the same name.
"Desire Is A Danger Zone"
"Desire Is A Danger Zone"
D: Neil Jordan
Palace/Channel 4/NDF (Stephen Woolley)
🇬🇧 🇮🇪 1992
112 mins
W: Neil Jordan
DP: Ian Wilson
Ed: Kant Pan
Mus: Anne Dudley
PD: Jim Clay
Stephen Rea (Fergus), Jaye Davidson (Dil), Miranda Richardson (Jude), Jim Broadbent (Col), Ralph Brown (Dave), Adrian Dunbar (Maguire), Forest Whitaker (Jody), Breffini McKenna (Tinker), Joe Savino (Eddie)
It's best if you watch this film knowing absolutely nothing about it.  It comes pretty close to a masterpiece and is easily in the Top 50 British movies ever made (Technically, it is Irish, but the majority is shot in London)
The story concerns Fergus, an IRA gunman who becomes friends with a British soldier who is taken hostage.  After the soldier's death, Fergus upholds his promise to go to London and look after the soldier's lover, with whom he falls in love.
All the performances are fantastic, especially Stephen Rea, Forest Whitaker, Miranda Richardson and the debutting Jaye Davidson.  Neil Jordan's well written script contains some pearls of dialogue and he directs his thriller with some deft touches, maintaining the tension throughout the running time.  Thoroughly recommended.
"Fear paranoia suspicion desperation."
"Fear paranoia suspicion desperation."
CUBE (15)
D: Vincenzo Natali
Trimark/Cineplex Odeon (Mehra Meh & Betty Orr)
🇨🇦 1997 (released 1998)
90 mins
Science Fiction/Thriller/Horror
W: Vincenzo Natali, Andre Bjelic & Graeme Manson
DP: Derek Rogers
Ed: John Sanders
Mus: Mark Corven
PD: Jasna Stefanovic
Maurice Dean Wint (Quentin), Nicole de Boer (Leaven), Nicky Guadagni (Holloway), David Hewlett (Worth), Wayne Robson (Rennes), Andrew Miller (Kazan), Julian Richings (Alderson)
Six strangers awaken in an interlocking prison of cube-shaped rooms, some of which are booby trapped.
Cube is a geniusly inventive science fiction thriller which makes the most of it's one-set locations with atmospheric photography and taut editing. The film is left open and ambiguous, which make it even better, as some could argue that all the answers would ruin a beautiful thing.
A few black marks are received for some rather tawdry dialogue ("Of course, X plus Y is the power of Z squared. How could I be so foolish?") and a couple of ropey performances, aside from that, it's a brilliant piece of low budget work.
D: Andrzej Sekula
Lions Gate (Ernie Barbarash, Peter Block & Suzanne Colvin)
🇨🇦 2002
95 mins
Science Fiction
W: Sean Hood
DP: Andrzej Sekula
Ed: Mark Sanders
Mus: Norman Orenstein
Kari Matchett (Kate Filmore), Geraint Wynn Davies (Simon Grady), Grace Lynn Kung (Sasha / Alex Trusk), Neil Crone (Jerry Whitehall)
The fantastic 1997 movie Cube didn't need a sequel and, to be honest, this isn't one... It owes more to The Matrix than the original movie, featuring much of the same premise from the first film except this time the interlocking prison-like cubes can now play tricks with time as well as space. Unfortunately, the film has far too many glaring plotholes to be taken seriously and is actually quite insulting to its audience which the writer must think are imbeciles.
"Every nightmare has a beginning."
"Every nightmare has a beginning."
D: Ernie Barbarash
Lions Gate (Suzanne Colvin Goulding & Jon Goulding)
🇨🇦 2004
97 mins
Science Fiction
W: Ernie Barbarash
DP: François Dagenais
Ed: Mitchell Lackie & Mark Sanders
Mus: Norman Orenstein
Zachary Bennett (Eric Wynn), Stephanie Moore (Cassandra Raines), Martin Roach (Robert P. Haskell), Michael Riley (Jax)
The first Cube movie may have been left with an ambiguous ending and many questions unanswered, but it really didn't need to be elaborated on or explored.
Anyone expecting a genesis tale from this supposed prequel will most definitely be disappointed, as this is nothing of the sort. Instead, this is a virtual retread of the first film, with much of action taking place outside the cubes walls, therefore removing any of the tension and mystery which came with the first film.
The story actually borders on parody come the halfway point and finishes up with an ending which is rather insulting.
"Now there's a new name for terror."
"Now there's a new name for terror."
CUJO (18)
D: Lewis Teague
ITC/Sunn Classic/Taft (Daniel H. Blatt)
🇺🇸 1983
91 mins
W: Don Carlos Dunaway & Lauren Cuttier [based on the novel by Stephen King]
DP: Jan de Bont
Ed: Neil Travis
Mus: Charles Bernstein
Dee Wallace (Donna Trenton), Daniel Hugh Kelly (Vic Trenton), Danny Pintauro (Tad Trenton), Ed Lauter (Joe Camber), Christopher Stone (Steve Kemp)
A St. Bernard dog is bitten by a rabid bat and becomes a vicious killer.
The original Stephen King book may have generated scares through the imagination of the reader, as may have this film when it was originally released back in 1983. By today's standards, it just looks like a dog covered in lots of ketchup. Put it down, immediately.

D: David Fincher
Warner Bros./Paramount (Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall & Ceán Chaffin)
🇺🇸 2008
158 mins


W: Eric Roth [based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald]
DP: Claudio Miranda
Ed: Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
PD: Donald Graham Burt
Cos: Jacqueline West

Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button) Cate Blanchett (Daisy Fuller), Taraji P. Henson (Queenie), Julia Ormond (Caroline Fuller), Jason Flemyng (Thomas Button), Tilda Swinton (Elizabeth Abbott)

A child in New Orleans, Louisiana is born as an old man and becomes younger as he ages.
Similarities between this and Forrest Gump are understandable since both movies are scripted by Eric Roth. Like Forrest Gump, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button sees it's title character passing through moments of 20th century history whilst his love interest's life is spiralling in the other direction. Aside from principal characters becoming old (except in Benjamin Button's case) and dying, these are the only similarities. 
There is no explanation to Benjamin Button's ailment but there doesn't have to be. It's a beautiful and poetic fable about life. All the performances are well acted, although Brad Pitt is buoyed by a realistic de-aging process. The photography and period design are immaculate, but the best thing about the movie are the special effects and makeup design which sees the principal characters age and grow younger. The only factor that stops this getting a higher score rating is due to its exorbitant length.

"Look out everybody. The world's smallest con artist is in town."
"Look out everybody. The world's smallest con artist is in town."
D: John Hughes
Warner Bros. (John Hughes)
🇺🇸 1991
101 mins
W: John Hughes
DP: Jeffrey Kimball
Ed: Peck Prior & Harvey Rosenstock
Mus: Georges Delerue
James Belushi (Bill Dancer), Kelly Lynch (Grey Ellison), Alisan Porter (Curly Sue), John Getz (Walker McCormick)
Throughout the 1980's, John Hughes' movies mostly concerned teenage characters in high school with various adventures and dilemmas.     
Come 1990, Hughes seemed to only be interested in making films about younger, more precocious people, which worked well in Home Alone, but not so much here.
Curly Sue is a grotesquely schmaltzy comedy about a con man and his 9-year-old orphan accomplice who win the heart of a successful woman lawyer. The film is so contrived and manipulative that it comes off only as turgid tosh. Shirley Temple may have got away with this sort of thing in the 1930's, but in 1991, no way sucker!
D: Albert Pyun
Cannon (Menahem Golan & Yoram Globus)
🇺🇸 1989
85 mins
Science Fiction/Action
W: Kitty Chalmers
DP: Philip Alan Waters
Ed: Scott Stevenson & Roseanne Zingale
Mus: Kevin Bassinson
Jean Claude Van Damme (Gibson Rickenbacker), Deborah Richter (Nady Simmons), Vincent Klyn (Fender Tremelo), Alex Daniels (Marshall Strat)
Cheap, trashy Terminator knock off about a martial arts expert (none other) who accompanies a female cyborg across post-apocalyptic America, so she/it can save mankind.
It's about the standard you'd expect from Cannon Films, who over the course of the 1980's released some of the worst films (ever).