D

THE DA VINCI CODE (12)
D: Ron Howard
Columbia/Imagine/Skylark (Brian Grazer, John Calley & Ron Howard)
🇺🇸 2006
149 mins

Mystery/Thriller

W: Akiva Goldsman [based on the novel by Dan Brown]
DP: Salvatore Totino
Ed: Dan Hanley & Mike Hill
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Allan Cameron

Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Audrey Tautou (Sophie Neveu), Ian McKellen (Sir Leigh Teabing), Jean Reno (Capt. Bezu Fache), Paul Bettany (Silas), Alfred Molina (Bishop Aringarosa), Jürgen Prochnow (Andre Vernet)

You have to hand it to Dan Brown. He made a lot of money with a story which is basically a load of complete dross. Still, the novel sold an unbelievable amount of copies and is amongst the most-read books of the 21st century.
As far as the film goes, it's a decent adaptation, making the best out of the source material concerning a controversial religious secret to which the key is hidden amongst the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, causing a power struggle between an intrepid historian and power members of the Christian religion. 
Tom Hanks was a curious (and miscast) choice to play the lead character Robert Langdon & Audrey Tautou's casting was even more puzzling. The strangest appointment however was for director Ron Howard to helm the project.
Those who enjoyed reading the book will probably enjoy the film as well. 
I didn't enjoy reading the book.
5/10

"Dare to live."
"Dare to live."
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (15)
D: Jean-Marc Vallée
Focus Features/Truth/Voltage (Robbie Brenner & Rachel Winter)
🇺🇸 2013
116 mins

Drama/Biopic

W: Craig Borten & Melissa Wallack
DP: Yves Bélanger
Ed: John Mac McMurphy & Martin Pensa

Matthew McConaughey (Ron Woodroof), Jennifer Garner (Dr. Eve Saks), Jared Leto (Rayon), Steve Zahn (Tucker), Dallas Roberts (David Wayne), Bradford Cox (Sunny), Dennis O'Hare (Dr. Sevard)

 McConaughey achieves a rare feat in this movie and that is to make you root for a wholly unlikeable character.
He plays homophobic, drug-using, philanderous trailer-trash Ron Woodroof, diagnosed with AIDS and given only 30 days to live, he smuggles unapproved medicines into the US to prolong his own life and then uses loopholes in the law to make money helping other sufferers, charging them $400 membership for a club where they'll get their monthly medicine for free.
This really is McConaughey's career best performance and there's another great performance from Jared Leto as cross-dresser Rayon, so convincing, you'd be forgiven if you thought it was actually a real woman.
Another surprise was the performance of Jennifer Garner as Ron & Rayon's doctor. Usually I think she's a rather poor actress, but she's very good in this.
Inspired by true events, Dallas Buyers Club isn't quite the best movie to tackle the subject of AIDS, but it does tackle a lot of ignorance regarding the deadly virus, especially since it's set in the mid-80's when it was still dubbed 'the gay plague'. 
The two main performers, McConaughey and Leto, are in their absolute element here, while excellent makeup completes the transformation. All three disciplines won Oscars for the 2013 awards.
8/10

THE DAM BUSTERS (PG)
D: Michael Anderson
ABPC (Robert Clark & W.A. Whittaker)
🇬🇧 1955
125 mins

War

W: R.C. Sheriff [based on the books "The Dam Busters" by Paul Brickhill and "Enemy Coast Ahead" by Guy Gibson]
DP: Erwin Hillier
Ed: Richard Best
Mus: Leighton Lucas & Eric Coates

Michael Redgrave (Dr. B.N. Wallis), Richard Todd (Wing Cmdr. Guy Gibson), Basil Sydney (Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris), Derek Farr (Capt. J.N.H. Whitworth)

Dramatisation of the dam buster missions of World War II, where the creation of bouncing bombs would destroy German dams and provided a turning point for allied victory. 
The film has gone on to become a British war classic, much due to its stirring and patriotic music, and also due to the brilliant action sequences, utilising excellent model work and photographic effects (these scenes were also a huge inspiration for the finale of Star Wars).
The acting is fine throughout, and though the political incorrectness of some of the dialogue might cause a bit of a sniff in modern times, this is very much a slice of the realism of wartime Britain.
7/10

"The first time was only a warning."
"The first time was only a warning."
DAMIEN: OMEN II (18)
D: Don Taylor
20th Century Fox (Harvey Bernhard)
🇺🇸 1978
109 mins

Horror

W: Stanley Mann & Michael Hodges [based on characters created by David Seltzer]
DP: Bill Butler
Ed: Robert Brown
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith

William Holden (Richard Thorn), Lee Grant (Ann Thorn), Jonathan Scott-Taylor (Damien Thorn), Robert Foxworth (Paul Buher), Lew Ayres (Bill Atherton), Sylvia Sidney (Aunt Marion)

Damien, the minion of the antichrist, returns in this sequel to the 1976 horror The Omen as a teenager and evil occurrences and murders affect his foster family.
It's a rare sequel which does justice to the original movie, but doesn't quite better it, and some of the memorable moments of horror are incredibly well executed.
6/10

THE DAMNED UNITED (15)
D: Tom Hooper
Columbia/BBC/Left Bank (Andy Harries & Grainne Marmion)
🇬🇧 2009
98 mins

Sports/Biopic

W: Peter Morgan
DP: Ben Smithard
Ed: Melanie Oliver
Mus: Rob Lane

Michael Sheen (Brian Clough), Timothy Spall (Peter Taylor), Colm Meaney (Don Revie), Jim Broadbent (Sam Longson), Stephen Graham (Billy Bremner)

I'm not old enough to experience Brian Clough's managerial history but I know him by reputation and Michael Sheen does an excellent job bringing one of football's most famous characters to the screen.
I'd recommend this movie even to those who haven't any interest in football because it's a great study of sporting rivalries and the relationship between avaricious businessmen and ambitious managers. In fact, there's hardly any football action in the movie and what little there is is mostly footage from the archives.             
The subject matter would probably work best as a stage play, but as a film it's still enjoyable, even for those who don't follow the beautiful game.
6/10

DANCES WITH WOLVES (12)
D: Kevin Costner
Tig (Kevin Costner & Jim Wilson)
🇺🇸 1990
181 mins

Western

W: Michael Blake [based on his novel]
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Neil Travis
Mus: John Barry
Pd: Jeffrey Beecroft
Cos: Elsa Zamparelli

Kevin Costner (Lt. John Dunbar), Mary McDonnell (Stands With A Fist), Graham Greene (Kicking Bird), Rodney A. Grant (Wind In His Hair), Floyd Red Crow Westerman (Chief Ten Bears), Tantoo Cardinal (Black Shawl), Robert Pastorelli (Timmons)

The critics wanted to tear this film apart before it's 1990 release, dubbing it "Kevin's Gate" during production in anticipation of it being a bloated ego trip and a flop of mammoth proportions. 
When the film became a hit and went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, it left them critics with egg on their faces, and damn right too! Dances With Wolves is an absolutely fantastic movie and a genuine labour of love for actor, producer and director Costner.
He plays a Lieutenant in the American Civil War who is honoured for bravery and relocated to a remote outpost on the frontier of the Wild West where he befriends a Sioux tribe and is eventually adopted by them and subsequently faces charges of desertion by the US army.
This is a western for people who don't really like westerns, politically correct in it's portrayal of the native people and their culture, but is more specifically a drama about self-discovery and new beginnings.  That being said, this must be recognised as a classic of its genre, reviving it after a decade of dormancy.
10/10

"Lust. Seduction. Revenge. The game as you've never seen played before."
"Lust. Seduction. Revenge. The game as you've never seen played before."
DANGEROUS LIAISONS (15)
D: Stephen Frears
Warner Bros./Lorimar/NFH (Norma Heyman, Hank Moonjean & Christopher Hampton)
🇺🇸 1988
120 mins

Drama

W: Christopher Hampton [based on the novel 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' by Choderlos de Laclos]
DP: Philippe Rouselott
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: George Fenton
PD: Stuart Craig
Cos: James Acheson

Glenn Close (Marquise de Merteuil), John Malkovich (Vicomte de Valmont), Michelle Pfeiffer (Madame de Tourvel), Swoosie Kurtz (Madame de Volanges), Keanu Reeves (Chevalier Danceny), Mildred Natwick (Madame de Rosemonde), Uma Thurman (Cecile de Volanges)

Glenn Close & John Malkovich play repugnant monsters of French aristocracy, who challenge each other to sexual conquests during the revolution. 
The Marquise de Merteuil (Close) challenges her former lover Vicomte de Valmont (Malkovich) to seduce virgins merely for her own entertainment, but she receives her comeuppance when a genuine romance blossoms between Valmont & Madame de Tourval (Pfeiffer).
Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer are absolutely perfect in this period drama, which is meticulously filmed and designed. Keanu Reeves is miscast, but that won't be of much surprise to anyone.
8/10

A DANGEROUS METHOD (15)
D: David Cronenberg
Sony Pictures Classics (Jeremy Thomas & Tiana Alexandra)
🇺🇸 2011
99 mins

Drama/Historical/Biopic

W: Christopher Hampton [based on his play "The Talking Cure"; book "A Most Dangerous Method" by John Kerr]
DP: Peter Suschitzky 
Ed: Ronald Sanders
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: James McAteer
Cos: Denise Cronenberg 

Michael Fassbender (Carl Jung), Keira Knightley (Sabina Spielrein), Viggo Mortensen (Sigmund Freud), Vincent Cassel (Otto Gross)

A rather plodding biopic of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and the birth of psychoanalysis.
Michael Fassbender & Viggo Mortensen are both excellent in their roles, it's a shame their hard work is rather undone by Keira Knightley's terrible acting (this has to be seen to see how bad it is).
I thought David Cronenberg was one of the best directors during the 80's & 90's, with films such as The Fly, Videodrome & Naked Lunch, but this is most certainly one of his weaker films from an entertainment perspective.
Good attention to the period and a couple of well-acted performances, but an incredibly boring film.
6/10
 
THE DANISH GIRL (15)
D: Tom Hooper
Universal/Working Title (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Anne Harrison, Tom Hooper & Gail Mutrux)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 🇧🇪 2015
119 mins

Drama/Biopic

W: Lucinda Coxon [based on the book by David Eberhoff]
DP: Danny Cohen
Ed: Melanie Ann Oliver
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
PD: Eve Stewart
Cos: Paco Delgado

Eddie Redmayne (Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe), Alicia Vikander (Gerda Wegener), Matthias Schoenaerts (Hans Axgil), Ben Whishaw (Henrik Sandahl), Amber Heard (Ulla Paulson)

Though this biographical drama does have roots in the true life events concerning a Danish artist becoming one of the first people to undergo a sex change operation, the on-screen events, as well as the book by David Eberhoff, are majorly fictionalised. 
It's quite subjective who the title refers to, since it could quite easily be in reference to Gerda Wegener, Alicia Vikander's character, who gets just as much screen-time as Eddie Redmayne's Einar Wegener / Lili Elbe, and her character is much easier to empathise with, whereas Eddie Redmayne, despite a great performance, isn't helped with great characterisation in the screenplay, as to why a married artist, devoted to his wife, would suddenly decide that he would like to live his wife as a woman. It's dealt with here like a bit of whimsy brought on by the kinky thrill of cross-dressing.
Though the performances make the film worth watching, the cinematography, production design and costumes are also brilliant, making each frame seem like a real-life oil painting. Alicia Vikander is quite easily the best thing about the film though, and while her performance won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, it has to be acknowledged that she was the lead in this production.
Like Lili Elbe herself, the film is dressed up beautifully, it just doesn't show us what truly lies beneath.
6/10

"40 years ago, an undelivered letter from John Lennon could have changed his life forever... He just got it today."
"40 years ago, an undelivered letter from John Lennon could have changed his life forever... He just got it today."

DANNY COLLINS (15)

D: Dan Fogelberg

Bleecker Street/Big Indie (Nimitt Mankad, Jessie Nelson, Denise DiNovi & Shivani Rawat)

🇺🇸 2015

106 mins

 

Comedy/Drama

 

W: Dan Fogelberg

DP: Steve Yedlin

Ed: Julie Monroe

Mus: Theodore Shapiro; Ryan Adams

 

Al Pacino (Danny Collins), Annette Bening (Mary Sinclair), Christopher Plummer (Frank Grubman), Bobby Cannavale (Tom Donnelly), Jennifer Garner (Samantha Lee Donnelly)

 

Danny Collins is a better film than it may sound, but isn't completely without faults, especially in some of the dialogue which doesn't ring true and an ending which nosedives into mawkishness before a swift change of direction saves it from complete predictability.

Al Pacino plays the title character, a washed-out, ageing, drug-addicted singer with shades of Neil Diamond to his act, still commanding a large audience but something is missing from his life.  He hits a crisis point when he receives a belated letter from the late John Lennon, prompting him to move out of his mansion to live in a hotel, where he romances the divorced manager and attempts to repair his relationship with his estranged son.

Al Pacino returns to his usual fine form with his leading performance, but the story doesn't stray too far from the familiar.

6/10

 

DANTE'S PEAK (15)
D: Roger Donaldson
Universal/Western Pacific (Gale Anne Hurd & Joseph M. Singer)
🇺🇸 1997
108 mins

Adventure

W: Leslie Bohem
DP: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Ed: Howard Smith, Conrad Buff & Tina Hirsch
Mus: John Frizzell & James Newton Howard
PD: Dennis Washington

Pierce Brosnan (Dr. Harry Dalton), Linda Hamilton (Mayor Rachel Wando), Charles Hallahan (Dr. Paul Joseph Dreyfus), Grant Heslov (Greg), Elizabeth Hoffman (Grandma Ruth)

A natural disaster version of Jaws, in which a vulcanologist warns a town of an impending eruption but the townsfolk won't listen until it's too late.
It's slightly better than Volcano (qv), released the same year and features a wonderful family moment when a little old lady is swept away by a sea of ash & lava and not even James Bond himself can save her.
5/10

DAREDEVIL (12)
D: Mark Steven Johnson
20th Century Fox/Regency/Marvel (Arnon Milchan, Gary Foster & Avi Arad)
🇺🇸 2003
103 mins

Action/Adventure

W: Mark Steven Johnson
DP: Ericson Core
Ed: Dennis Virkler & Armen Minasian
Mus: Graeme Revell
PD: Barry Chusid
Cos: James Acheson

Ben Affleck (Matt Murdock / Daredevil), Jennifer Garner (Electra Natchios), Michael Clarke Duncan (Wilson Fisk / Kingpin), Colin Farrell (Bullseye), Joe Pantoliano (Ben Urich), Jon Favreau (Franklin 'Foggy' Nelson), David Keith (Jack Murdock)

Amongst the worst superhero films of the early 21st century, miscast in every role, especially Ben Affleck as the blind lawyer by day and vigilante crime fighter by night.
The scene in which Jennifer Garner's Electra has a fight with blind Matt Murdoch in a park because he wants to know her name must feature amongst the most ludicrously pathetic scenes ever committed to celluloid. Although it might have held some weight if an extra yelled out "He's blind, you prissy dismissive bitch, just tell him your fucking name!"
At least that might have been more daring than an of the supposed superhero exploits on show here.
3/10

THE DARJEELING LIMITED (15)
D: Wes Anderson
20th Century Fox (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Roman Coppola & Lydia Dean Pilcher)
🇺🇸 2007
91 mins

Comedy/Drama

W: Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman & Roman Coppola
DP: Robert Yeoman
Ed: Andrew Weisblum
PD: Mark Friedberg

Owen Wilson (Francis), Adrien Brody (Peter), Jason Schwartzmann (Jack), Anjelica Huston (Patricia), Irrfan Khan (The Father), Bill Murray (The Businessman)

In line with Wes Anderson's other works, it follows a dysfunctional family, this time a trio of brothers as they board The Darjeeling Limited, a train travelling through India as they make their own journey of self discovery and aim to repair their ailing brotherhood.
I didn't find this as good as The Royal Tenenbaums of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, but it does have it's amusing and bittersweet moments.
I'd recommend this to fans of Anderson's movies, but if you're not a fan of his other films, the chances are you won't like this one either.
6/10
  
DARK ANGEL (aka I COME IN PEACE) (18)
D: Craig R. Baxley
Vision/Damon/Saunders (Jeff Young)
🇺🇸 1990
93 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Jonathan Taylor & Leonard Maas, Jr.
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Mark Helfrich
Mus: Jan Hammer

Dolph Lundgren (Det. Jack Caine), Brian Benben (Agent Larry Smith), Betsy Brantley (Diane Pallone), Matthias Hues (Talec)

A 1990's update on old B-movie nonsense about an intergalactic drug dealer, visiting earth to deliver his narcotics and pay-off line ("I come in peace"). 

It's easy to forgive the poor performances but would certainly be more likeable if some more effort were put into the special effects.

4/10

DARK CITY (15)
D: Alex Proyas
New Line/Polygram/Mystery Clock (Andrew Mason)
🇺🇸 1998
101 mins

Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs & David S. Goyer
DP: Dariusz Wolski
Ed: Dov Hoenig
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: George Liddle & Patrick Tatopolous

Rufus Sewell (John Murdoch), Kiefer Sutherland (Dr. Daniel Schreber), Jennifer Connelly (Emma Murdoch / Anna), William Hurt (Insp. Frank Bumstead), Richard O'Brien (Mr. Hand)

A gothic fairytale set in a City of perpetual nighttime, where an amnesiac uncovers the truth about the government.
Similarities will most certainly be made with The Matrix, although this is ultimately rather forgettable. Good set designs, costumes and makeup though.
5/10

THE DARK CRYSTAL (PG)
D: Jim Henson & Frank Oz
Universal/AFD/ITC (David Lazer)
🇬🇧 1982
94 mins

Fantasy/Animated

W: David Odell
DP: Oswald Morris
Ed: Ralph Kemplen
Mus: Trevor Jones
PD: Harry Lange

voices of: Stephen Garlick (Jen), Lisa Maxwell (Kira), Billie Whitelaw (Aughra), Percy Edwards (Fizzgig),

Arguably, this is a reimagination of The Lord Of The Rings, with muppets. 
Featuring the talents of Jim Henson and Frank Oz, the fantasy takes us on a journey with Jen, an elf-like creature who must return a shard to a powerful jewel and bring balance to the kingdom.
It's very well made and brilliantly designed, but quite dark thus making it rather unsuitable for younger children.  A good piece of 1980's nostalgia for those who remember it.
6/10

"Welcome to a world without rules."
"Welcome to a world without rules."
THE DARK KNIGHT (12)
D: Christopher Nolan
Warner Bros./Legendary/Syncopy (Charles Roven, Emma Thomas & Christopher Nolan)
🇺🇸 2008
145 mins

Crime/Action/Adventure

W: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan [based on characters created by Bob Kane] 
DP: Wally Pfister
Ed: Lee Smith
Mus: Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
PD: Nathan Crowley
Cos: Lindy Hemming

Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Heath Ledger (The Joker), Michael Caine (Alfred), Gary Oldman (Lieutentant Jim Gordon), Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent / Two Face), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Rachel Dawes), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox)

In a way, we have to thank Joel Schumacher for destroying the franchise with Batman Forever & the truly diabolical Batman and Robin, if only so that the course of events would result in Christopher Nolan revitalising it with Batman Begins, and this installment which, ironically, isn't as dark in theme, but is much better, owing more to crime thrillers of the 1940's and 50's rather than the comic book genre.
Christian Bale fills the boots of both Bruce Wayne & the Caped Crusader a lot better than his predecessors have, and Heath Ledger delivers the performance of his career, and the best supporting performance of the year as the manic, cackling Joker, his facial expressions and weird twitches simply are worth his Oscar win alone. Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart are also notable supportiing performance, but are simply blown blown out the water whenever Heath Ledger is on screen.  Maggie Gyllenhaal also does well as Katie Holmes' character in the previous installment.  It's rather poignant that Heath ended his career on such a high, with what WILL be the performance he'll forever be remembered for.
The movie isn't all about Ledger's Joker portrayal, set a few years after the events in Batman Begins, when the vigilante crime fighter has become a symbol of hope to the lawless city of Gotham, whom noble District Attorney Harvey Dent champions. Meanwhile, the organised crime gangs are at odds with each other over the theft of their money, to which the Joker enters the fray, a manic psychopath who simply wants to see the city burn.
The theme of the film runs deep, coming off more as a film noir which just happens to have Batman in it.
There's much build up in-between the action set pieces, but when they do come, they're nothing short of spectacular. 
Even if you're not a fan of comic book or superhero movies, The Dark Knight is well worth a watch.
8/10

"A fire will rise."
"A fire will rise."
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (12)
D: Christopher Nolan
Warner Bros./Legendary/Syncopy (Charles Roven, Emma Thomas & Christopher Nolan)
🇺🇸 2012
160 mins

Crime/Action/Adventure

W: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan [based on characters created by Bob Kane]     
DP: Wally Pfister
Ed: Lee Smith
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Nathan Crowley
Cos: Lindy Hemming

Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Gary Oldman (Commissioner James Gordon), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle / Catwoman), Tom Hardy (Bane), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate / Talia Al-Ghul), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox)

***SPOILER WARNING***
I've very mixed emotions on this. On one hand it continues Christopher Nolan's amazing vision that he brought with Batman Begins & The Dark Knight complete with stunning set pieces, complex characters and amazing special effects, but another part of me feels a bit cheated. Batman Begins & The Dark Knight deserved a better closing chapter.
This movie certainly has merit, but I just can't ignore the shortcomings.
Bane is a truly malevolent villain, but the sound simply prevents you from hearing what he's saying for the majority of this movie. It's imperative to have seen the first of Nolan's trilogy so you're familiar with Ra's Al Ghul, the League of Shadows, etc. etc. This wasn't necessary with The Dark Knight, it continued the theme and made reference without making it a necessity. 
Most of all that disappointed was that the screenplay called to cram so much into the running time and tie up all the loose ends that the last hour or so seemed like overkill. It left loose ends too!!
As for the storyline, it lacked depth: Bruce Wayne is now a half crippled invalid who comes out of retirement to stop Bane & his henchmen and their plan to destroy Gotham, but Batman doesn't use any cunning to defeat him. It's just all too easy.
Batman is defeated the first time he meets Bane and is vanquished to an inescapable prison, which he ends up escaping from and it's all just too easy. 
I actually liked Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Catwoman, I also thought Tom Hardy caught the right look of Bane but he didn't have to do much except look scary. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman & Joseph Gordon-Levitt are all fine, but Christian Bale just seemed like he's had enough of it all now.
Also, Christopher Nolan needs to stop using Marion Cotillard as villains because it's getting too predictable.
I enjoyed huge aspects of this and wouldn't say it was a bad movie or even a huge disappointment- it simply isn't as good as the first two in the Nolan trilogy. At least it still dumps on the Joel Schumacher Batman movies.
7/10

"Every family has it's demons."
"Every family has it's demons."
DARK SHADOWS (12)
D: Tim Burton
Warner/Village Roadshow (Richard D. Zanuck, Graham King, Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski & David Kennedy)
🇺🇸 2012
113 mins

Fantasy/Comedy/Horror

W: Seth Grahame-Smith & John August [based on characters created by Dan Curtis]
DP: Bruno Delbonnel
Ed: Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Rick Heinrichs
Cos: Colleen Atwood

Johnny Depp (Barnabas Collins), Michelle Pfeiffer (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard), Helena Bonham-Carter (Dr. Julia Hoffman), Eva Green (Angelique Bouchard), Jackie Earle Haley (Willie Loomis), Jonny Lee Miller (Roger Collins), Chloë Moretz (Carolyn Stoddard), Bella Heathcote (Victoria Winters)

All the negative reviews will probably only be relevant to those who remember the TV programme of the 1960's. It's before my time and the only similarly-themed shows I know of were The Addams Family & The Munsters, therefore I can only critique the film on it's own merits and not on any previous incarnations.
I thought this was a better movie than most fantasy movies released in the past couple of years (Beautiful Creatures, etc) and has the gothic production design, macabre makeup and surreal visuals you'd expect from Tim Burton's direction and once again he partners with Johnny Depp who delivers a flamboyant performance as a 200 year old vampire who is resurrected from being buried alive and wants to take control once again of his family's legacy and get revenge on the witch who imprisoned him.
It's also good to see Michelle Pfeiffer in a major part again. She's looking damn fine for her age.
The movie gets a bit ridiculous in the final 15 minutes, but it was still an enjoyable watch. It's another movie stolen by Johnny Depp's acting, in a role he really sinks his teeth into. 
6/10

DARK STAR (PG)
D: John Carpenter
Jack H. Harris (John Carpenter)
🇺🇸 1974
83 mins

Science Fiction/Comedy

W: John Carpenter & Dan O'Bannon
DP: Douglas Knapp
Ed: Dan O'Bannon
Mus: John Carpenter
PD: Dan O'Bannon

Brian Navelle (Lt. Doolittle), Carl Kuniholm (Boiler), Dan O'Bannon (Sgt. Pinback), Joe Saunders (Commdr. Powell)

A low-budget spoof of 2001: A Space Odyssey and other sci-fi films which was initially made for a university protect but went on to huge cult success, launching the career of director John Carpenter and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon who went on to write Alien in 1979 (the plot between this film and Alien are uncannily similar).
The film has no deep storyline, mostly involving a group of slacker astronauts bored in space, but there's plenty of funny moments, especially when they become prey to the alien they're carrying abroad (which looks like a beachball with hands). A prophetic film for more to come.
6/10

"Their war is coming to our world."
"Their war is coming to our world."

THE DARK TOWER (12)

D: Nikolaj Arcel

Columbia/Imagine/MRC/Weed Road (Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard & Erica Huggins)

🇺🇸 2017

95 mins


Science Fiction/Fantasy


W: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen & Nikolaj Arcel [based on the series of books by Stephen King]

DP: Rasmus Videbæk

Ed: Alan Edward Bell & Dan Zimmerman

Mus: Tom Holkenborg


Idris Elba (Roland Deschain, The Gunslinger), Matthew McConaughey (Walter Padick, The Man In Black), Tom Taylor (Jake Chambers), Jackie Earle Haley (Sayre)


Intending to be the first episode in a series of movies and television shows, this adaptation of Stephen King's eight book series was over a decade in development and was released to practical silence. Needless to say that it's unlikely that the series will continue.

Set across parallel worlds, Walter Padick, an evil wizard also known as The Man In Black, is searching for a child's mind with the power to destroy the dark tower, a beacon which holds the universe together. Aiming to stop him is a young boy, Jake Chambers, from the real world as we know it, who joins forces with Roland Deschain, the Last Gunslinger, who has been in an eternal battle with The Man In Black.

This misguided attempt to bring a series of novels to the screen fails on multiple levels, the biggest one being that if you've not read any of the books, you won't have a clue what's going on. Another failure is the casting of Matthew McConaughey, who looks more like a shady lawyer than a malevolent wizard. Idris Elba is decent casting, but the screenplay lets him down with his cumbersome dialogue.

Quite possibly the biggest disappointment of 2017.

2/10


DARKEST HOUR (PG)

D: Joe Wright

Universal/Focus Features/Working Title/Perfect World (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten & Douglas Urbanski)

🇬🇧 2017

125 mins


Biopic/War


W: Anthony McCarten

DP: Bruno Delbonnel

Ed: Valerio Bonelli

Mus: Dario Marianelli

PD: Sarah Greenwood

Cos: Jacqueline Durran


Gary Oldman (Winston Churchill), Ben Mendelsohn (King George VI); Kristen Scott-Thomas (Clementine Churchill), Lily James (Elizabeth Layton), Ronald Pickup (Neville Chamberlain), Stephen Dillane (Lord Halifax)


Gary Oldman truly delivers a convicting performance in this wartime biopic of former prime minister Winston Churchill focusing on the early days of his premiership as Britain were drawn closer and closer to the conflict of World War II.

Looking at wartime events solely from the corridors of power within British parliament the film does get bogged down with a lot of talky scenes and much feels like a dramatic reconstruction of real-life events, all leading up to Churchill's iconic wartime address.

However, with Gary Oldman filling the shoes of the politician with the aid of some excellent prosthetic makeup, his magnetic performance does keep you engaged throughout the duration of the film.

I've always considered Joe Wright an Oscar-bait director, his previous credits including Atonement and The Soloist, and my opinion hasn't changed following the viewing of this. Some scenes feel very stagey, whilst one scene in particular, when Churchill boards a London Underground train to canvas opinion from the public when he fears he's lost the support of his peers, feels very forced and nowhere near as convincing as it could have been.

Aside from Oldman, the rest of the performances are fine, but Kristen Scott-Thomas is very underused as his wife Clementine, with only a handful of scenes for her to get her acting chops into.

Anyone who's left school probably won't take any knowledge away from the picture that they don't already know and most people still in their teenage years are unlikely to be captivated by the material and the way it's presented, so the film kind of falls between two stools.

It is a film produced solely to win film awards and that's exactly what it's going to do.

7/10


DARKMAN (15)
D: Sam Raimi
Universal (Robert Tapert)
🇺🇸 1990
96 mins

Crime/Horror/Science Fiction

W: Chuck Pfarrer, Sam Raimi, Daniel Goldin & Joshua Goldin
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Bud Smith, Scott Smith & David Stiven
Mus: Danny Elfman

Liam Neeson (Peyton Westlake / Darkman), Frances McDormand (Julie Hastings), Colin Friels (Louis Strack, Jr.), Larry Drake (Robert G. Durant), Nelson Mashita (Yakitoto), Jesse Lawrence Ferguson (Eddie Black)

Comic book style horror about a scientist, hideously deformed after an explosion in his lab, who creates a synthetic substitute for skin which enables him to be a master of disguise and hunt the mobsters who caused the explosion which caused his affliction.
Sam Raimi does a good job directing the rather meagre budgetted movie, utilising the  comic book style to get away with cheap looking special effects. The performances and makeup are very well done though. A decent film for fans and non-fans of the genre.
6/10
  
"It's about love. It's about romance. And more crap like that."
"It's about love. It's about romance. And more crap like that."
DATE MOVIE (15)
D: Aaron Seltzer 
20th Century Fox (Paul Schiff & Jason Friedberg)
🇺🇸 2006
83 mins

Comedy

W: Aaron Seltzer & Jason Friedberg
DP: Shawn Maurer
Ed: Paul Hirsch
Mus: David Kitay

Alyson Hannigan (Julia Jones), Adam Campbell (Grant Fockyerdoder), Jennifer Coolidge (Roz Fockyerdoder), Fred Willard (Bernie Fockyerdoder), Tony Cox (Hitch), Carmen Electra (Anne)

If you like juvenile 'jokes' about farts, vomit and catshit then you'll probably find some of this puerile nonsense funny. Those who like some form of maturity from their comedies as a consequence of clever dialogue or extraordinary situations then you'll see this excuse for a movie for what it really is - pathetic. 

The film doesn't have any real story to go over, it just parodies a bunch of romantic comedies, mostly Meet The Parents, but it doesn't really parody or spoof... it vaguely references other movies but doesn't do anything different that's neither funny nor clever. 

Personally, if somebody made this our 'date movie', it would be our only one!

2/10

"Some dates end with a bang."
"Some dates end with a bang."
DATE NIGHT (15)
D: Shawn Levy
20th Century Fox (Shawn Levy & Tom McNulty)
🇺🇸 2010
88 mins (extended version: 101 mins)

Comedy

W: Josh Klausner
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Dean Zimmerman
Mus: Christophe Beck

Steve Carell (Phil Foster), Tina Fey (Claire Foster), Taraji P. Henson (Det. Arroyo), Mark Wahlberg (Holbrook Grant), Mark Ruffalo (Brad Sullivan), Kristin Wiig (Hayley Sullivan)

Altogether this wasn't a bad watch. It was kind of like a throwback to classic screwball comedies of the 1940's and Neil Simon rom-coms of the 70's, except the married couple in questions weren't quite so mismatched and the plot was updated for a modern audience. 
Steve Carell (playing his usual character) and Tina Fey play a married couple who go out on their monthly date night and end up being mistaken for another couple when they steal their dinner reservations, setting up a night of chaos, including being chased by gangsters.
The material is quite basic, but the performances make it an amusing and entertaining watch.
Not to be confused with Date Movie (qv).
6/10

DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (aka LE ROUGE AUX LÈVRES) (18)
D: Harry Kumel
Roxy/Showking/Cinevog/Maya (Paul Collet & Alain Guillaume)
🇧🇪 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 1971
96 mins

Horror

W: Harry Kumel & Pierre Drouot
DP: Edward Van Der Enden
Ed: Gust Verschueren
Mus: François de Roubiax

Delphine Seyrig (Countess Elizabeth Bathory), John Karlen (Stefan), Daniele Ouimet (Ilona Harczy)

An arthouse style horror movie featuring two lesbian vampires who visit a seaside town during off-season. The surrealistic visual style and elegant performances make this a very worthwhile watch, which stays faithful to vampire legend, maintaining an element of sinister creepiness throughout it's running time. Recommended to both fans of horror and arthouse audiences.
8/10

"In a country where anybody can become president, anybody just did."
"In a country where anybody can become president, anybody just did."
DAVE (12)
D: Ivan Reitman
Warner Bros. (Lauren Shuler-Donner & Ivan Reitman)
🇺🇸 1993
110 mins

Comedy

W: Gary Ross
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Sheldon Kahn
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: J. Michael Riva

Kevin Kline (Dave Kovic / President Bill Mitchell), Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Mitchell), Frank Langella (Bob Alexander), Kevin Dunn (Alan Reed), Ben Kingsley (Vice President Gary Nance), Charles Grodin (Murray Blum), Ving Rhames (Duane Stevenson)

Being There and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington for the 1990's. 
When the US president suffers a stroke whilst having an extra-marital affair, a recruitment agent who shares an uncanny likeness to him is convinced to impersonate him for the good of the country, but takes his position too far and starts to change things for the better, much to the behest of a crooked politician.
Kevin Kline does incredibly well in the dual role of the president and his lookalike Dave, with Sigourney Weaver giving good support as the president's wife while Frank Langella plays the sneering villain with menace.
The film manages to be both fun and politically astute, including some satire towards the attitudes of American senators, especially when Dave fiddles with the budget to keep some children's schools funded.
6/10

DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD (15)

D: Ricky Gervais

Entertainment One/BBC (Ricky Gervais & Charlie Hanson)

🇬🇧 2016

96 mins


Comedy 


W: Ricky Gervais [based on characters created by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant]

DP: Remi Adefarasin

Ed: Gary Dollner

Mus: Ricky Gervais & others


Ricky Gervais (David Brent), Ben Bailey Smith (Dom Johnson), Tom Basden (Dan), Jo Hartley (Pauline), Mandeep Dhillon (Karen)


Fans of the mockumentary television comedy series The Office will be pleased to see Ricky Gervais reprise his role as David Brent, the boss from hell with a penchant for saying the wrong things to the wrong people.

Now a sales representative for a toiletries company, a documentary team catch up with the attention-seeking buffoon, who admits to have suffered depression following the events of the TV show and plans to use this film as a comeback, as his band, Foregone Conclusion, go on a tour of gigs in various locations.

The humour is more groan-inducing than it is funny, but it does have a few laugh out loud moments. The songs, penned by Gervais himself in collaboration with others, are full of lyrics which will make you grimace. They truly are completely awful, which is part of the point, and it will come as no surprise that it isn't a road to the fruitful career that Brent envisions.

It's all a bit of a shaggy dog story, which will only really appeal to fans of the original TV show, or possibly Ricky Gervais' biggest fans. Either way, you'll be watching through a pained expression on your face.

6/10


"When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth."
"When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth."
DAWN OF THE DEAD (18)
D: George A. Romero
Target/Laurel Group/Dawn Associates (George A. Romero)
🇺🇸 1978 (released 1979)
127 mins

Horror

W: George A. Romero 
DP: Michael Gornick
Ed: George A. Romero
Mus: Dario Argento & Goblin

David Emge (Stephen Andrews), Ken Foree (Peter Washington), Scott H. Reiniger (Roger DeMarco), Gaylen Ross (Francine Parker)

The definitive zombie movie. George A. Romero's classic horror is just as much a satire on consumerism, following a small group of people who take shelter in a shopping mall to avoid the zombie apocalypse.
The gore effects are all quite gross, but the makeup techniques used are excellent considering the film's age.
It isn't often that a horror sequel betters the original film and Dawn Of The Dead does just that. A must see for all fans of the genre.
9/10

DAWN OF THE DEAD (18)
D: Zack Snyder
Universal (Eric Newman, Richard B. Rubinstein & Marc Abraham)
🇺🇸 2004
101 mins

Horror

W: James Gunn [based on the screenplay by George A. Romero]
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Niven Howie
Mus: Tyler Bates
PD: Andrew Neskoromny

Sarah Polley (Ana Clark), Ving Rhames (Kenneth Hall), Jake Weber (Michael), Mekhi Pfifer (Andre), Ty Burrell (Steve Marcus), Michael Kelly (C.J.), Kevin Zegers (Terry)

A remake of the 1979 George A. Romero film with an identical story but takes a leaf out of the script from 28 Days Later, with quick and crazed zombies rather than the slow-moving, lethargic creatures in the original film.
Using a bigger budget, the film features less cheesy makeup and some decent visual effects, but doesn't do much different with the story save for a ridiculous post credits sequence which should have been left on the cutting room floor.
As far as remakes go, it's quite good and certainly one of the better horror films post 2000.
6/10
  
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (15)
D: Matt Reeves
20th Century Fox (Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver)
🇺🇸 2014
124 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
DP: Michael Seresin
Ed: William Hoy & Stan Salfas
Mus: Michael Giacchino

Andy Serkis (Caesar), Jason Clarke (Malcolm), Gary Oldman (Dreyfus), Keri Russell (Ellie), Toby Kebbell (Koba), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Alexander)

Not quite the missing link in the Planet Of The Apes universe, but still very enjoyable, this follow-up to 2011's Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes pre-dates the events from the original 1968 film (and the 2001 "re-imagination") but merely recycles the same plot from one of the original film's sequels, 1973's Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, in which Caesar and his ape family live in relative harmony in the woods while the surviving humans from a global pandemic require the use of a dam to generate power as they try to rebuild civilisation.  Caesar wants both humans and ape to co-exist in peace, but some apes, especially those who were victims of experimentation at the hands of humans are ready to go to war, leading to a division of loyalties.
Like the 2011 film, the visual effects are astounding, with Andy Serkis and other actors once again donning a special suit to perfectly capture the range of emotions which give the chimpanzees their own individual characters.
Despite lacking the originality or intelligence of it's predecessor and quite blatantly ripping off a previous Apes instalment, it appeals to a much broader audience than the niche, dated originals and sets up potential for another film quite nicely.
7/10

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (12)
D: Roland Emmerich
20th Century Fox (Roland Emmerich & Mark Gordon)
🇺🇸 2004
124 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Roland Emmerich & Jeffrey Nachmanoff [based on the book "The Coming Global Superstorm" by Art Bell & Whitley Strieber]
DP: Ueli Steiger
Ed: David Brenner
Mus: Harald Kloser
PD: Barry Chusid

Dennis Quaid (Prof. Jack Hall), Jake Gyllenhaal (Sam Hall), Ian Holm (Prof. Terry Rapson), Emmy Rossum (Laura Chapman), Sela Ward (Dr. Lucy Hall), Dash Mihok (Jason Evans)

Exaggerating global warming for the sake of a dramatic tension, The Day After Tomorrow is a far-fetched disaster movie which still maintains an air of realism.  
The story and characters are all one big cliche, featuring Dennis Quaid as a meterologist who predicts an impending wave of freak weather, including snowstorms in India, huge tidal waves in New York, followed by a super storm which plunged the entire northern hemisphere into a new ice age.  He then treks into the trecherous conditions to rescue his son, who is part of a small group of survivors seeking shelter in New York City.
It goes without saying that the film has some absolutely ludicrous scenes and dialogue (like characters trying to 'outrun the cold' and arguing about which books to burn in a library when they're surrounded by wooden furniture), but brilliant special effects and steady pacing make this a decent watch.  Any Hollywood blockbuster which uses the phrase 'We have reached a critical desalinisation point' must surely get a few brownie points.
The credibility of the plot may be hugely amplified, but the enjoyment factor alone makes this one of the better disaster movies of recent times.         
6/10

THE DAY OF THE JACKAL (18)
D: Fred Zinnemann
Universal/Warwick (John Woolf & David Deutsch)
🇬🇧 🇫🇷 1973
142 mins

Thriller

W: Kenneth Ross [based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth]
DP: Jean Tournier
Ed: Ralph Kemplen
Mus: Georges Delerue

Edward Fox (The Jackal), Michael Lonsdale (Dep. Commissioner Claude Lebel), Alan Badel (The Minister)

Edward Fox gives a cold, emotionless and calculating performance as The Jackal, an assassin hired to take out French president Charles de Gaulle, while British and French forces unite to stop him.
It's a low-key but incisive piece of work, based on Frederick Forsyth's best selling novel. Remade in 1997 simply as 'The Jackal'.
7/10

"From out of space... A warning and an ultimatum!"
"From out of space... A warning and an ultimatum!"
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (PG)     
D: Robert Wise
20th Century Fox (Julian Blaustein)
🇺🇸 1951
92 mins

Science Fiction

W: Edmund H. North [based on the short story "Farewell To The Master" by Harry Bates]
DP: Leo Tover
Ed. William Reynolds
Mus: Bernard Herrmann

Michael Rennie (Klaatu), Patricia Neal (Helen Benson), Hugh Marlowe (Tom Stephens), Sam Jaffe (Prof. Jacob Barnhardt), Billy Gray (Bobby Benson)

A science fiction with Cold War allegories which became a milestone in the the genre. The story concerns an alien and his robot aide who visits Washington DC to warn the world what will happen if wars continue.
This was the first movie to show a "flying saucer", a memorable movie robot and a line of dialogue ("Klaatu Barada Nikto") which itself achieved cult status, make this a bonafide classic of the sci-fi genre.
Quite dated after 60 years but a momentous achievement at the time. The remake doesn't deserve to bear its title.
8/10

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (12)
D: Scott Derrickson
20th Century Fox (Erwin Stoff, Gregory Goodman & Paul Harris Boardman)
🇺🇸 2008
103 mins

Science Fiction

W: David Scarpa [based on the 1951 screenplay by Edmund H. North]
DP: David Tattersall
Mus: Tyler Bates

Keanu Reeves (Klaatu), Jennifer Connelly (Helen Benson), Jaden Smith (Jacob Benson), John Cleese (Prof. Karl Bernhardt), Kathy Bates (Regina Jackson)

A pathetic remake of the 1951 film which lacks narrative cohesion and has some of the worst acting performances ever committed to celluloid.  Keanu Reeves is more wooden than he usually is as an alien messenger warning the world of impending doom.  Jennifer Connelly tries her best with what she's given as a single mother to Jaden Smith, who delivers possibly the most irritating juvenile performance in the history of cinema.  If that little brat is the history of the planet, I was actually hoping that the film was going to end with the apocalypse.
The story completely takes the piss when Keanu's 'alien' decides to go for a McDonald's. 
To hell with this version! Watch the 1951 film instead.
2/10

DAYS OF HEAVEN (PG)
D: Terrence Malick
Paramount (Bert Schneider & Harold Schneider)
🇺🇸 1978
95 mins

Drama

W: Terrence Malick
DP: Nestor Almendros
Ed: Billy Weber
Mus: Ennio Morricone
PD: Jack Fisk
Cos: Patricia Norris

Richard Gere (Bill), Brooke Adams (Abby), Sam Shepard (The Farmer), Linda Manz (Linda)

Days Of Heaven is a visually amazing drama with a pinch of religious allegory.
Set at the turn of the 1900's, Bill, a migrant steel mill worker, along with his betrothed, Abby, and younger sister, Linda, flee the industrial city of Chicago for the sanctuary of the Midwest, where they work on a wheat farm for a terminally ill plantation owner who takes a shine to Abby.
Bill convinces Abby to marry the farmer, so they can both live off the inheritance when he passes, but as the rich landowner becomes suspicious of the deception, Abby's feelings for him become genuine.
Though the narrative is more a visual poetry than a traditional drama, anyone who knows how Terrence Malick directs his films wouldn't be surprised with how he paints his canvas.
The acting performances are all good without being earth-shattering, while the main star of the film is Nestor Almendros' breathtaking cinematography.
8/10

DAYS OF THUNDER (15)
D: Tony Scott
Paramount (Jerry Bruckheimer & Don Simpson)
🇺🇸 1990
107 mins

Adventure/Sports

W: Robert Towne
DP: Ward Russell
Ed: Billy Weber & Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Hans Zimmer

Tom Cruise (Cole Trickle), Robert Duvall (Harry Hogge), Nicole Kidman (Dr. Claire Lewis), Randy Quaid (Tim Laland), Michael Rooker (Rowdy Burns), Cary Elwes (Russ Wheeler)

A young stock car racer challenges the champion driver. 
Everything else about the film is lifted from Top Gun with jets replaced with cars.
Despite having a huge star in the lead, it was deemed a box office failure, although it did generate a top-selling song ("Show Me Heaven" by Maria McKee) and introduced the world to a relationship between Cruise & Kidman which lasted over a decade.
4/10

"See it with a bud."
"See it with a bud."
DAZED & CONFUSED (15)
D: Richard Linklater
Universal/Gramercy/Alphaville (James Jacks, Sean Daniel & Richard Linklater)             
🇺🇸 1993
102 mins

Comedy/Drama

W: Richard Linklater
DP: Lee Daniel
Ed: Sandra Adair

Jason London (Randall 'Pink' Floyd), Wiley Wiggins (Mitch Kramer), Matthew McConaughey (David Wooderson), Milla Jovovich (Michelle Burroughs), Rory Cochrane (Ron Slater), Adam Goldberg (Mike Newhouse), Anthony Rapp (Tony Olsen), Ben Affleck (Fred O'Bannion)

American Graffiti for the Generation X, following a group of high school students who celebrate the first night of the summer holidays, mostly by victimising younger students.
A huge cult hit which launched director-screenwriter Richard Linklater's career, with a brilliant soundtrack of classic 70's songs. Well worth a watch, especially for fans of Linklater's other films.
The film also yields very early roles for many young actors who would go on to have flourishing careers, including Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck.
7/10
  
"High seas. Deep terror. Try to stay calm."
"High seas. Deep terror. Try to stay calm."
DEAD CALM (18)
D: Phillip Noyce
Warner Bros./Kennedy Miller (Terry Hayes, Doug Mitchell & George Miller)
🇦🇺 1989
96 mins

Thriller

W: Terry Hayes [based on the novel by Charles Williams]
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Richard Francis-Bruce
Mus: Graeme Revell

Sam Neill (Capt. John Ingram), Nicole Kidman (Rae Ingram), Billy Zane (Hughie Warriner)

An effective thriller about a couple who let a mysterious stranger aboard their yacht, who then attempts to kill them.
The plot is quite unremarkable and cliche-ridden and the dialogue isn't anything to write home about, but the trio of main performances can't be sniffed at and director Phillip Noyce maintains tension well, with good cinematography and editing. Very much style over substance, but an entertaining thriller nevertheless.
6/10

DEAD MAN WALKING (15)
D: Tim Robbins
Polygram/Working Title/Havoc (John Kilik, Tim Robbins & Ruud Simmons)
🇺🇸 1995
122 mins

Drama/Crime

W: Tim Robbins [based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean]
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Lisa Zeno Churgin
Mus: David Robbins

Susan Sarandon (Sister Helen Prejean), Sean Penn (Matthew Poncelet), Robert Prosky (Hilton Barber), Raymond J. Barry (Earl Delacroix), R. Lee Ermey (Clyde Percy), Celia Weston (Mary Beth Percy), Lois Smith (Helen's Mother), Scott Wilson (Chaplain Farley), Roberta Maxwell (Lucille Poncelet)

Sean Penn plays off his bad-boy image to deliver one of his greatest screen performances, winning his first Oscar nomination for best leading actor in the process. 
He plays Matthew Poncelet, a death row prisoner who repents his crime to a catholic nun who volunteers herself as his only companion on the final days of his sentence. 
Tim Robbins as director and writer brings a great docudrama to the screen, with solid performances from the two main stars, winning a Best Actress Oscar for Susan Sarandon. Penn is the true revelation here however, in a performance which shaped the rest of his career.
7/10

"Laugh, or I'll blow your lips off..."
"Laugh, or I'll blow your lips off..."
DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID (PG)
D: Carl Reiner
Universal (David V. Picker & William E. McEuen)
🇺🇸 1982
89 mins

Comedy/Crime

W: George Gipe, Steve Martin & Carl Reiner             
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Bud Golin
Mus: Miklos Rozsa
PD: John de Cuir
Cos: Edith Head

Steve Martin (Rigby Reardon), Rachel Ward (Juliet Forrest), Carl Reiner (Field Marshal Von Gluck), George Gaynes (Dr. Forrest)

Both a spoof and homage to film noir of the 1940's and 50's, with Steve Martin playing a private eye who, through marvellous editing, acts alongside Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman and many others, intercut into the comedy using footage from screen classics such as Double Indemnity, Suspicion, The Killers, etc.
The story and script, following Steve Martin's investigator on a missing persons case, isn't quite good enough on its own two feet, but the selection of lines from the golden oldies borders on genius.
Steve Martin fans should enjoy it and most certainly would fans of the original movies which are being sent up.
6/10

"Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary."
"Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary."
DEAD POETS SOCIETY (PG)
D: Peter Weir
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV (Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas & Steven Haft)
🇺🇸 1989
128 mins

Drama

W: Tom Schulman
DP: John Seale
Ed: William Anderson
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: Wendy Stites
Cos: Marilyn Matthews

Robin Williams (John Keating), Robert Sean Leonard (Neil Perry), Ethan Hawke (Todd Anderson), Josh Charles (Knox Overstreet), Gale Hanson (Charlie Dalton), Dylan Kussman (Richard Cameron), Allelon Ruggiero (Steven Meeks), James Waterson (Gerard Pitts), Norman Lloyd (Mr. Nolan), Kurtwood Smith (Mr. Perry)

A slow-boiling drama set at a script boarding school where new poetry teacher John Keating, a former student himself, unshackles his students from the rigorous routine of their studies to discover a more beautiful meaning to their lives, encouraging them to 'seize the day' and have more confidence within themselves.
Robin Williams delivers one of his greatest screen performances, but it's little more than a supporting role, with the members of the 'Dead Poets Society' taking centre stage.
A handful of scenes feel mawkish and manipulative with a couple of one- dimensional characters who lack depth, but the film makes up for this with it's more memorable scenes, most of which take place in Williams' classroom, including one of the greatest cinema endings of all time.
An Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay and Bafta's choice for Best Film of the year.
It's not as powerful now as it was upon release, but this is due to the amount of copycats which have emerged in its wake.
8/10

"In his mind, he has the power to see the future. In his hands, he has the power to change it."
"In his mind, he has the power to see the future. In his hands, he has the power to change it."
THE DEAD ZONE (18)
D: David Cronenberg
Paramount (Debra Hill)
🇺🇸 1983
103 mins

Horror/Thriller

W: Jeffrey Boam [based on the novel by Stephen King]
DP: Mark Irwin
Ed: Ronald Sanders
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: Carol Spier

Christopher Walken (Johnny Smith), Brooke Adams (Sarah Bracknell), Tom Skerritt (Sheriff Bannerman), Herbert Lom (Dr. Sam Welzak), Anthony Zerbe (Roger Stuart), Colleen Dewhurst (Henrietta Dodd), Martin Sheen (Greg Stillson), Nicholas Campbell (Frank Dodd), Sean Sullivan (Herb Smith)

A rather faithful adaptation of Stephen King's brilliant novel, with a great performance by Christopher Walken.  He plays Johnny Smith, a victim of a car accident who awakens from a coma with clairvoyant powers.
In all fairness, the story worked better in the book, especially when Smith is wrestling with his conscience about whether or not to assassinate a crooked politician who is destined to bring about a nuclear war.  This makes up the main crux of the story, but the second act also concerns Smith assisting a small-town sheriff who is trying to solve a serial killer case.
It's more a psychological thriller than the horror normally associated with the original writer and the film does a good job with it's adaptation, but the book is so much better.             
6/10

DEADLY BLESSING (18)
D: Wes Craven
Polygram/Interplanetary (William Gilmore)
🇺🇸 1981
102 mins

Horror

W: Glenn M. Benest, Matthew Barr & Wes Craven
DP: Robert Jessup
Ed: Robert Bracken
Mus: James Horner

Maren Jensen (Martha Schmidt), Sharon Stone (Lana Marcus), Susan Buckner (Vicky Anderson), Jeff East (John Schmidt), Ernest Borgnine (Isaiah Schmidt)

Unremarkable pre-Elm Street Wes Craven horror flick about a monastic Hittite sect in Pennsylvania and the murderous actions of a succubus, it's all rather silly and predictable, notable only for an early Sharon Stone performance and the unintentionally hilarious miscasting of Ernest Borgnine as a wild-eyed preacher.             

4/10

"Not all nightmares happen on Elm Street."
"Not all nightmares happen on Elm Street."
DEADLY FRIEND (18)
D: Wes Craven
Warner Bros./Pan Arts Layton (Robert M. Sherman)
🇺🇸 1986
99 mins

Horror

W: Bruce Joel Rubin [based on the novel 'Friend' by Diana Henstell]
DP: Philip Lathrop
Ed: Michael Eliot
Mus: Charles Bernstein

Matthew Laborteaux (Paul Conway), Kristy Swanson (Samantha Pringle), Michael Sharrett (Tom Toomey), Anne Twomey (Jeannie Conway), Anne Ramsay (Elvira Conway)

Silly but enjoyable variation on Frankenstein about a teenage boffin who creates a robot with artificial intelligence. However, when his girlfriend Samantha is murdered, he implants the robots brain in her body and she awakens to go on a murderous rampage for revenge.
As ridiculous as it is, the film is a great deal of fun, with as much comedy as it has scares. The acting is truly terrible though, aside from Anne Ramsey as a cantankerous elderly neighbour who becomes the victim of the film's most memorable death scene.
5/10

DEADLY PURSUIT (aka SHOOT TO KILL) (18)
D: Roger Spottiswoode
Touchstone (Ron Silverman & Daniel Petrie, Jr.)
🇺🇸 1988
110 mins

Action/Adventure/Thriller

W: Harv Zimmel, Michael Burton & Daniel Petrie, Jr.
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Garth Craven & George Bowers
Mus: John Scott

Sidney Poitier (Warren Stantin), Tom Berenger (Jonathan Knox), Kirstie Alley (Sarah Renell), Clancy Brown (Steve), Richard Masur (Norman), Andrew Robinson (Harvey)

Sidney Poitier returns to the big screen full of energy following a foray into directing. He plays an FBI agent who tails a serial killer to the Rocky Mountains, where the homicidal maniac has infiltrated a fishing group, holding them hostage for safe passage.
Poitier, perilously out of his comfort zone has his own assistant in the form of mountain guide Tom Berenger, whose significant other is part of the fishing group.         
It's all quite cliche-ridden and the characters are cardboard throwaways, but it's a good addition to the man vs nature genre, with Poitier and Berenger making a unique action movie odd couple.
6/10

"Wait til you get a load of me."
"Wait til you get a load of me."
DEADPOOL (15)
D: Tim Miller
20th Century Fox/TSG/Marvel (Lauren Shuler-Donner, Ryan Reynolds & Simon Kinberg)
🇺🇸 2016
108 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick [based on the character created by Fabian Nicieza & Rob Liefeld]
DP: Ken Seng
Ed: Julian Clarke
Mus: Tom Holkenberg

Ryan Reynolds (Wade Wilson / Deadpool), Morena Baccarin (Vanessa), Ed Skrein (Ajax), Gina Careno (Angel Dust), T.J. Miller (Weasel), Leslie Uggams (Blind Al), Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead), Stefan Kapecic (voice of Colossus)

Deadpool is almost certainly a strict comic book movie for the fans, featuring a morally-dubious, foul-mouthed wisecracking character who might not be endeared to be Auntie Flo. Let's be honest, as a comic book entity, Deadpool is the arsehole of the superhero world.
Prior to release, much was made of the film having an R-rated certificate in the United States due to it being far less family-friendly than the other films in the Marvel universe, though it's probably important to have seen many of the other films (particularly X-Men) due to the in-jokiness of the one-liners.
Deadpool previously made a cameo appearance in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but liberties were taken with the character and fans were left very unhappy. He's much truer to his origins here as a mercenary for hire who seeks revenge on the scientist who subjected him to the rogue experiment which gave him the accelerated healing powers, but also left him grotesquely deformed.
A pet project for Ryan Reynolds, it has to be said that he's perfect for the role & this is the finest work of his career.
The action scenes are bloodily violent, the wisecracks are hilariously x-rated and the scenes of romance almost border on BDSM, so it's certainly a comic book movie for a more mature audience rather than the younger generation who have only recently been introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Bound to be amongst the most fun movies of 2016, but it certainly won't be appreciated by overprotective mothers.
8/10

DEADPOOL 2 (15)

D: David Leitch

20th Century Fox/Marvel (Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler-Donner & Ryan Reynolds)

🇺🇸 2018

119 mins


Action/Science Fiction


W: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds [based on characters created by Fabian Nicieza & Rob Liefeld]

DP: Jonathan Sela

Ed: Dirk Westervelt, Craig Albert & Elízabet Rolandsdóttir

Mus: Tyler Bates


Ryan Reynolds (Wade Wilson / Deadpool), Josh Brolin (Cable), Morena Baccarin (Vanessa), Julian Dennison (Russell Collins / Firefist), Zazie Beetz (Domino)


The first Deadpool was a fresh breath of air to the world of superhero movies, subverting the usual traditions of the genre and brilliantly bringing the wisecracking vigilante to the big screen.

Unfortunately, the sequel isn't anywhere near as good, trying in vain to capture the magic again by throwing more money at it, but the bigger cash injection does not equal funnier jokes.

The plot also has more sentimentality thrust into it on this occasion, when Deadpool and a teenage boy with superpowers are both incarcerated in a prison which neutralises them and our impudent anti-hero subsequently saves the boy from a time-travelling assassin named Cable. A deed which ultimately backfires when the teenager turns rogue and develops villainous intentions.

There's also a subplot of Deadpool receiving an epiphany where he must ultimately decide whether or not his heart is in the right place.

Though there is much to enjoy, especially with the fine action scenes and performances, the acerbic comedy and the twee sentimentality don't really mix and some of the in-jokes only seem to be thrown in for the benefit of the cast & crew only.

The director of the original film, Tim Miller, left the project citing creative differences, and perhaps this was this sequel's biggest loss.

6/10


DEATH BECOMES HER (PG)
D: Robert Zemeckis 
Universal (Robert Zemeckis & Steve Starkey)
🇺🇸 1992
104 mins

Fantasy/Comedy

W: Martin Donovan & David Koepp
DP: Dean Cundey
Ed: Arthur Schmidt
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Rick Carter
Cos: Joanna Johnston

Meryl Streep (Madeline Ashton), Bruce Willis (Ernest Melville), Goldie Hawn (Helen Sharp), Isabella Rossellini (Lisle Von Rhuman), Sydney Pollack (Doctor), Ian Ogilvy (Chagall), Adam Storke (Dakota), Nancy Fish (Rose)

Two feuding women fight over a potion which brings about eternal youth.
A better movie was wasted here, but it must be said that the visual effects are absolutely brilliant. It's also quite fun to see Bruce Willis send up his tough guy image by playing against type as a complete wimp. Streep and Hawn are good, but the script really needed to be better, especially in the later stages.
6/10

"A comedy of terrors."
"A comedy of terrors."

THE DEATH OF STALIN (15)

D: Armando Ianucci

eOne/IFC/Gaumont (Yann Zenou, Laurent Zeitoun, Nicolas Duval Adassovsky & Kevin Loader)

🇬🇧 🇫🇷 🇧🇪 2017

107 mins


Comedy/Political


W: Armando Ianucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin & Peter Fellows [based on the graphic novel "La Mort de Staline" by Fabian Nury & Thierry Robin]

DP: Zac Nicholson

Ed: Peter Lambert

Mus: Chris Willis


Steve Buscemi (Nikita Khrushchev), Simon Russell Beale (Lavrentiy Beria), Jeffrey Tambor (Georgy Malenkov), Paddy Considine (Andrey Andreyev), Rupert Friend (Vasily Stalin), Jason Isaacs (Georgy Zhukov), Michael Palin (Vyacheslav Molotov), Andrea Riseborough (Svetlana Stalina)


The creators of British TV show 'The Thick Of It' take their style of political satire beyond the iron curtain to Cold War era Soviet Union for this 2017 comedy, laced with political incorrectness and acerbic dialogue.

Set in the corridors of power in the days leading up to and following the death of communist dictator Vasily Stalin, the film takes much glee in poking fun at the chaos surrounding the political regime and the historical characters involved in it.

It probably helps to be fans of Armando Ianucci's other works, particularly The Thick Of It or its cinematic spinoff In The Loop, and even have some knowledge of Soviet history, but even without there are plenty of moments which should raise a smile. It does a feel a little smug in places, but this is still an intelligent, frequently funny piece of work. 

7/10


DEATH PROOF (18)
D: Quentin Tarantino
Momentum (Quentin Tarantino, Erica Steinberg, Elizabeth Avellan & Robert Rodriguez)
🇺🇸 2007
111 mins

Thriller

W: Quentin Tarantino
DP: Quentin Tarantino
Ed: Sally Menke

Kurt Russell (Stuntman Mike), Rosario Dawson (Abernathy), Zoe Bell (herself), Tracie Thoms (Kim), Rose McGowan (Pam), Sydney Tamila Poitier (Jungle Julia), Jordan Ladd (Shanna), Vanessa Ferlito (Arlene), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Lee)

Kurt Russell delivers a wickedly creepy performance as Stuntman Mike, a maniac with a vendetta against women who uses his 'deathproof' car as his weapon of choice.
If it weren't for his cameo appearance, you'd be forgiven for not realising this was a Quentin Tarantino film, it doesn't have many of his usual trademarks and is merely his own tribute to exploitation and splatter films of the 1970's, complete with scratchy cuts and edits, amateur sound dubbing and karate kicking heroines. 
The movie was released as part of a 'Grindhouse' double bill with Robert Rodriguez' Planet Terror, which wasn't quite as good as this film.
6/10

"In the year 2000 hit & run isn't a felony. It's the national sport."
"In the year 2000 hit & run isn't a felony. It's the national sport."
DEATH RACE 2000 (18)
D: Paul Bartel
New World (Roger Corman)
🇺🇸 1975
79 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Adventure

W: Robert Thom, Charles Griffith & Ib Melchiot
DP: Tak Fujimoto
Ed: Tina Hirsch
Mus: Paul Chihara

David Carradine (Frankenstein), Simone Griffith (Annie Smith), Sylvester Stallone (Machine Gun Joe), Mary Woronov (Calamity Jane Kelly)

A hugely popular cult movie which inspired a remake and a series of video games (Carmageddon).
Set in the future (well, 2000) a violent race has its winner judged by how many human casualties a driver inflicts.         
The comedy is as black as can be, but it became a hugely enjoyable cult favourite for those who could take it.
6/10

"They Came For His Family, Now He's Coming For Them."
"They Came For His Family, Now He's Coming For Them."

DEATH WISH (18)

D: Eli Roth

MGM/Annapurna/Cave 76 (Roger Birnbaum)

🇺🇸 2018

107 mins


Action/Thriller


W: Joe Carnahan [based on the novel by Brian Garfield & the 1974 screenplay by Wendell Mayes]

DP: Rogier Stoffiers

Ed: Mark Goldblatt

Mus: Ludwig Goränsson


Bruce Willis (Dr. Paul Kersey), Vincent D'Onofrio (Frank Kersey), Dean Norris (Det. Kevin Raines), Kimberley Elise (Det. Leonore Jackson), Elisabeth Shue (Lucy Rose Kersey), Camila Morrone (Jordan Kersey)


A remake of the 1974 film, with added violence and Bruce Willis, ridiculously unconvincing as a doctor, who turns vigilante following an attack on his family which leaves his wife dead and teenage daughter in a coma.

Despite being an okay time-killer, this doesn't bring anything new to the ideas explored in the 1974 film (and its many sequels) and just feels like a cash-in on similarly themed movies like Taken and John Wick.

Willis did one for the money, Elisabeth Shue & Vincent D'Onofrio deserve much better and John Norris plays his exact same character from TV's Breaking Bad.

Unremarkable to say the very least.

4/10


DECEPTION (aka LA MIGLIORE OFFERTA (THE BEST OFFER)) (15)
D: Giuseppe Tornatore
Warner Bros/Paco Cinematografica (Isabella Cocuzza & Arturo Paglia)
🇮🇹 2013
125 mins

Drama/Thriller

W: Giuseppe Tornatore
DP: Fabio Zamarion
Ed: Massimo Quaglia
Mus: Ennio Morricone

Geoffrey Rush (Virgil Oldman), Sylvia Hoeks (Claire Ibbetson), Jim Sturgess (Robert), Donald Sutherland (Billy Whistler), Philip Jackson (Fred), Dermot Crowley (Lambert), Liya Kebede (Sarah)

Known as The Best Offer (or La Migliore Offerta) elsewhere in the world, the title was changed to Deception for it's UK release. A bad move by distributors, since the story is ruined by this title change. 
Geoffrey Rush plays eccentric, obsessive-compulsive art auctioneer Virgil Oldman, who keeps priceless works of art to himself through the help of his assistant Billy (Donald Sutherland).
Oldman is hired to value and sell the house and belongings of reclusive, agoraphobic heiress Claire Ibbetson, who lives at a nearby villa. Virgil becomes obsessed with her and the two fall in love, following which Claire overcomes her fear of strangers and the outside world.
As mentioned above, the film is ruined with the switch of title, since it's obvious that a deception is coming, dangling in front of the audience like a carrot and cheapening the plot twist when it does come. The film itself is fine, with good acting from it's ensemble, great production design, sheen photography and a beautiful music score. It just really needed to keep it's original, more ambiguous title, to provide a bigger, better climax.
6/10

THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION (18)
D: Penelope Spheeris
Nu-Image (Penelope Spheeris)
🇺🇸 1981
100 mins

Documentary

DP: Steve Conant, Bill Muerer & Penelope Spheeris
Ed: Charles Mullin, Peter Wiehl & David Colburn

A decade before Wayne's World hit cinemas, director Penelope Spheeris presented this documentary studying the punk rock movement towards the end of the 1970's. 
There's a few quirky moments and some interesting interviews with frontmen of some underground bands, but general entertainment value is wholly dependent on whether or not you care for the genre of music.
6/10

THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION PART II: THE METAL YEARS (18)
D: Penelope Spheeris
New Line (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
🇺🇸 1988
90 mins

Documentary

DP: Jeff Zimmerman & Julio Macat
Ed: Earl Ghaffari

Penelope Spheeris' follow-up to her 1981 documentary is probably a far more accessible film, as it focuses on a genre of music which was far more popular than the punk rock movement which had all but died out at the beginning of the 1980's.
The film includes some frank interviews with some of the bigger stars of the genre, including Lemmy (lead singer of Mötorhead), Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne & Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (of Aerosmith).
The questions and answers are mostly relative to the price of fame, as well as the excess which comes with it, undercut with some humour and plenty of industrial-strength language.
A must-watch for anyone who was a fan of the music, or anyone who lived through the period.
7/10

THE DEEP (15)
D: Peter Yates
Columbia/EMI/Casablanca (Peter Guber)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1977
124 mins

Adventure/Thriller

W: Peter Benchley & Tracy Keenan Wynn [based on the novel by Peter Benchley]
DP: Christopher Challis
Ed: David Berlatsky
Mus: John Barry

Jacqueline Bisset (Gail Berke), Nick Nolte (David Sanders), Robert Shaw (Romer Treece), Louis Gossett, Jr. (Henri Bondurant), Eli Wallach (Adam Coffin)

It's quite obvious early on that The Deep is a cash-in on the enormous success of Jaws, whether the author of the original novel, Peter Benchley, intended it or not.
Jacqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte play a couple of holidaymakers who discover a shipwreck while scuba-diving off the coast of Bermuda. The treasures which they find attract the attentions of a group of pirates, who have their own reasons for locating the sunken ship. Robert Shaw also appears as a character which is so similar to Quint, it might as well be the same character.
As an action film, there's barely any action, and the adventure really isn't that adventurous. The only thrills come in the underwater scenes, of which there are plenty, all benefitting marvellously from the excellent underwater cinematography. Unfortunately, it's the plot which sinks without trace.
5/10 

"Your worst fear is about to surface."
"Your worst fear is about to surface."
DEEP BLUE SEA (15)
D: Renny Harlin
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow (Alan Riche, Tony Ludwig & Akiva Goldsman)         
🇺🇸 1999
105 mins

Action/Adventure/Horror

W: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers & Wayne Powers
DP: Stephen Windon
Ed: Frank J. Urioste, Derek G. Brechin & Dallas S. Puett
Mus: Trevor Rabin

Thomas Jane (Carter Blake), Saffron Burrows (Dr. Susan McAlester), Samuel L. Jackson (Russell Franklin), Michael Rapaport (Tom Scoggins), Stellan Skarsgård (Jim Whitlock), LL Cool J (Sherman Dudley)

Jaws on steroids. Almost quite literally.
Scientists create a new breed of super-intelligent shark so they can carry out experiments to cure Alzheimer's disease, but the creatures learn quickly how to fight back.
Cack-handed direction, terrible acting, unconvincing sharks and an even more unconvincing scar on LL Cool J's forehead mar what could have been a fundamentally better film.
Without doubt, the biggest highlight is when one of the aquatic beasties lets Samuel L. Jackson know exactly what it thinks of his big speech. Everything else is let down by terrible CGI.
4/10

DEEP COVER (18)
D: Bill Duke
New Line/Image Organization (Henry Bean & Pierre David)
🇺🇸 1992
112 mins

Crime/Thriller

W: Henry Bean & Michael Tolkin
DP: Bojan Bozelli
Ed: John Carter
Mus: Michel Colombier

Laurence Fishburne (Russell Stevens / John Hull), Jeff Goldblum (David Jason), Charles Martin Smith (Agent Gerald Carver), Victoria Dilliard (Betty McCutcheon)

Laurence Fishburne & Jeff Goldblum deliver fantastic performances in this thriller about an undercover cop who infiltrates the Los Angeles drug-smuggling hierarchy only to discover the police and the cartels are equally as corrupt as each other.
Directed by Bill Duke, probably best known as 'Mac' in Predator, who proves his mettle behind the camera with this deft thriller.
Comparisons could be made to Martin Scorsese's gangster movie The Departed, although this predates it by 14 years.
7/10

"Oceans rise. Cities fall. Hope survives."
"Oceans rise. Cities fall. Hope survives."
DEEP IMPACT (12)
D: Mimi Leder
Paramount/Dreamworks (Richard D. Zanuck & David Brown)
🇺🇸 1998
125 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Bruce Joel Rubin & Michael Tolkin
DP: Dietrich Lohmann
Ed: David Rosenbloom
Mus: James Horner
PD: Leslie Dilley

Robert Duvall (Capt. Spurgeon Tanner), Téa Leoni (Jenny Lerner), Elijah Wood (Leo Biederman), Vanessa Redgrave (Robin Lerner), Maximilian Schell (Jason Lerner), Morgan Freeman (President Tom Beck)

With a storyline almost identical to the same year's Armageddon, it has to be said that Deep Impact finishes second place for 1998's best Earth vs Asteroid adventure film, mostly because it takes itself way too seriously, whereas Armageddon knows it's over the top and lacks credibility. Deep Impact however, takes place in a universe where its audience are expected to believe that a teenager with a telescope can discover impending doom before all NASA's brains can. Meh.
The movie also crams in way too many characters, most of which are totally expendable and only exist to set up some awkward dialogue (the scene in which Elijah Wood asks Leelee Sobieski to marry him or 'die' is almost laughable in its awkwardness), while others seem to be used as a reference to something the script couldn't get around with better writing. There's just far too much which is throwaway, and the films most dramatic moment come only in the scene where astronauts speak with their families, begging a question why these characters weren't the sole focus the entire time.
Accolades for the worst performance must go to Tea Léoni, who is so totally unconvincing as a human being, nevermind a TV newsreader with daddy issues whose character only seems to exist as someone who can get intel on updates on the Earthbound object and to set up an overly schmaltzy scene with her daddy towards the end, supposedly as a subplot to respect family issues or some bullshit.
The film does improve in the final moments, where the Earth gets the fuck smashed out of it, although it makes no sense why some             non-characters are just carrying out their usual business with a tidal wave rushing ashore to smash the granny out of them (there's a chap reading a newspaper when the wave knocks him into next week). It begs the question whether this is down to poor direction or the visual effects team having way too much fun?
4/10

DEEP RISING (15)
D: Stephen Sommers
Buena Vista/Hollywood Pictures (Laurence Mark & John Baldecchi)
🇺🇸 1998
106 mins

Science Fiction/Horror

W: Stephen Sommers
DP: Howard Atherton
Ed: Bob Ducsay & John Wright
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith

Treat Williams (John Finnegan), Famke Janssen (Trillian St. James), Anthony Heald (Simon Canton), Kevin J. O'Connor (Joey Pantucci), Wes Studi (Hanover), Derrick O'Connor (Capt. Atherton), Jason Flemyng (Mulligan)

A decent B-movie mash-up of Alien, The Poseidon Adventure & Die Hard with octopus-like beasties attacking those aboard a ship in the South China seas.
It isn't that good, but then again, it isn't trying to be either and though the CGI creatures look rather terrible, the plot is tongue-in-cheek enough to let these technicalities pass by.
5/10

"Not all aliens come from space."
"Not all aliens come from space."
DEEPSTAR SIX (18)
D: Sean S. Cunningham
Tri-Star (Sean S. Cunningham & Patrick Markey)
🇺🇸 1989
100 mins

Science Fiction/Horror

W: Lewis Abernathy & Geoff Miller
DP: Mac Ahlberg
Ed: David Handman
Mus: Harry Manfredini

Taurean Blacque (Capt. Phillip Laidlaw), Nancy Everhard (Joyce Collins), Greg Evigan (McBride), Miguel Ferrer (Snyder), Matt McCoy (Jim Richardson)

Alien set underwater with a storyline almost identical to the same year's bigger budget underwater science fiction films The Abyss (which was better) and Leviathan (which was worse).
The cheap looking effects can be forgiven more than the terrible performances, but when you watch B-movie hokum, you pretty much know what to expect. The cast are all at sea, but considering the talent involved, it's not the kind of film where you expect Oscar-worthy acting.
4/10

DEEPWATER HORIZON (15)

D: Peter Berg

Lionsgate/Summit/Participant Media (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian, Stephen Levinson, David Womack & Mark Wahlberg)

🇺🇸 2016

107 mins


Thriller/Adventure/Biopic


W: Matthew Michael Carnahan & Matthew Sand

DP: Enrique Chediak

Ed: Colby Parker, Jr. & Gabriel Fleming

Mus: Steve Jablonsky


Mark Wahlberg (Mike Williams), Kurt Russell (Jimmy Harrell), John Malkovich (Donald Vidrine), Gina Rodriguez (Andrea Fleytas), Kate Hudson (Felicia Williams), Ethan Suplee (Jason Anderson)


Based on true events leading up to the catastrophic fire on the free-floating Deepwater Horizon oil rig, due south of the Louisiana coastline, which, in 2010, was responsible for the worst oil spill in US history.

The film does tend to dramatise certain events, following two of the high ranking staff members in the build up to the disaster, where safety precautions were ignored at the insistence of BP oil company bureaucrats who were eager for the financially disastrous vessel to start churning out profits.

Though Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell offer good performances as the two leads, not enough attention is paid to those who lost their lives during the tragic event, and only given tribute during the closing credits.

Technically, there are some excellent achievements, especially with the Oscar-nominated visual effects, but the film as a whole feels like the usual Hollywood treatment of an incredibly serious subject.

6/10


THE DEER HUNTER (18)
D: Michael Cimino
Universal/EMI (Michael Deeley, Barry Spikings, John Peverall & Michael Cimino)
🇺🇸 1978
183 mins

War/Drama

W: Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, Louis Garfinkle & Quinn K. Redeker
DP: Vilmos Zsigmond
Ed: Peter Zinner
Mus: Stanley Myers

Robert DeNiro (Michael), John Cazale (Stan), John Savage (Steven), Christopher Walken (Nick), Meryl Streep (Linda), George Dzundza (John), Chuck Aspegren (Axel), Rutanya Alda (Angela)

Bum-numbingly long but powerful and ultimately depressing drama about the effects of war on the human psyche.
The Vietnam war itself is very much on the periphery of the storyline, with the majority of the first half set in an industrial town with a large Russian Orthodox populace, where four friends going about their usual business of work, drinking, a friend's wedding and deer hunting in the mountains.
When the friends go to the war together, they are captured by the Vietcong and forced to play Russian Roulette.
The psychological damage and post traumatic stress that the men suffer due to their wartime exploits occupy the final third of the film with each of the men dealing with it in various ways, before a finale which is like a punch to the gut.
Robert DeNiro delivers a great performance as Michael, who is virtually in every scene, but the movie is stolen by Christopher Walken as Nick, quite possibly one of the greatest supporting performances of all time.
At three hours long, it's not a film you could enjoy repeat viewings with, but it's a film you have to give the respect of watching at least once. Winner of the 1978 Best Picture Oscar.
8/10

"Fight back"
"Fight back"
DEFENDOR (15)
D: Peter Stebbings
Alliance/Darius Films (Nicholas Tabarrok)
🇨🇦 2009
101 mins

Crime/Comedy/Drama

W: Peter Stebbings
DP: David Greene
Ed: Geoff Ashenhurst
Mus: John Rowley

Woody Harrelson (Arthur Poppington / Defendor), Kat Dennings (Kat Debrofkowitz / Angel), Elias Koteas (Chuck Dooney), Michael Kelly (Paul Carter), Sandra Oh (Dr. Park)

Defendor is a different spin on superhero movies not too dissimilar from Kick-Ass & Super, but also complete unique in it's own way.
Woody Harrelson plays the intentionally misspelt crime fighter, a simple man who dons his rudimentary costume to uncover police corruption and foil a kingpin's plans for both gun smuggling and human trafficking. 
The film opens with Harrelson explaining the origins of his alter-ego to a psychiatrist, as his story unfolds as he is in search to bring 'Captain Industry' to justice, while both assisted and exploited by a young, drug-addicted prostitute who saves him from one of his bungled missions.
Despite the plot, this film is not a superhero movie, it merely uses it as a metaphor for dual personality and schizophrenia, with Harrelson playing both a mentally retarded man with a haunting past by day and a justice-seeking vigilante by night who becomes a symbol of courage for his local community.
The film is perfectly balanced between comedy & drama, with some hilarious and bittersweet moments. Woody Harrelson delivers a great performance, and along with the films Zombieland & The Messenger (for which he received an Oscar nomination), 2009 seemed to be a very good year for the actor.
6/10

"Freedom begins with an act of defiance."
"Freedom begins with an act of defiance."
DEFIANCE (15)
D: Edward Zwick
Paramount Vantage/Bedford Falls (Edward Zwick & Pieter Jan Brugge)
🇺🇸 2008
137 mins

Drama/War/Historical

W: Clayton Frohman & Edward Zwick [based on the book "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans" by Nechama Tec]
DP: Eduardo Serra
Ed: Steven Rosenblum
Mus: James Newton Howard

Daniel Craig (Tuvia Bielski), Liev Schreiber (Zus Bielski), Jamie Bell (Asiel Bielski) George MacKay (Aron Bielski), Mia Wasikowska (Chaya Dziencielsky), Iben Hjejle (Bella)

Taking a break from the James Bond film schedule, Daniel Craig takes the lead in this adaptation of a true story, set in WWII-torn Eastern Europe where a group of brothers escape nazi persecution in the remote woods, eventually providing a refuge for other Jewish survivors who uprise in an act of heroic defiance.
In a way, it's a shame that Hollywood sunk its claws into this story, glossing over the horrors of the holocaust in favour of a glamourised action vehicle for the A-list star.
Daniel Craig is miscast here, as is Liev Schreiber, whilst all other characters are completely underwritten so the focus is on the two feuding brothers, wrestling over leadership of the group.     
James Newton Howard's poignant music is an asset, but this could have been a much better film in the hands of the right production crew, or even as a foreign language feature, perhaps.
6/10

THE DEFIANT ONES (PG)
D: Stanley Kramer
United Artists (Stanley Kramer)
🇺🇸 1958
97 mins

Drama

W: Nathan E. Douglas & Harold Jacob Smith
DP: Sam Leavitt
Ed: Frederic Knudtson
Mus: Ernest Gold
PD: Rudolph Sternad
Cos: Joe King

Tony Curtis (John Jackson), Sidney Poitier (Noah Cullen), Theodore Bikel (Sheriff Max Muller), Charles McGraw (Captain Frank Gibbons), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Big Sam), King Donovan (Solly), Claude Akins (Mac), Cara Williams (The Woman)

Two escaped convicts of mixed races must work together in order to evade capture by the authorities.
An influential and important drama about racial acceptance as well as a chase movie, brilliantly written and directed with two excellent performances from Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier.
Hugely important for its time and just as relevant today.
8/10

"What if you could change the past?"
"What if you could change the past?"
DÉJÀ VU (12)
D: Tony Scott
Touchstone/Scott Free (Jerry Bruckheimer)
🇺🇸 2006
121 mins

Thriller/Science Fiction

W: Bill Marsili & Terry Rossio
DP: Paul Cameron
Ed: Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams
PD: Chris Seagers

Denzel Washington (Agent Douglas Carlin), Val Kilmer (Agent Paul Pryzwarra), Paula Patton (Claire Kuchever), Bruce Greenwood (Agent Jack McCready), Adam Goldberg (Dr. Alexander Denny), Jim Caviezel (Carroll Oerstadt)

Typically inane Bruckheimer-produced thriller in which modern state-of-the-art technology allows detective Denzel Washington to look back into the past to solve a terrorist bombing onboard a ferry. 
He then seeks to find a way to prevent the disaster from ever happening.
A variation on the story was done much better in the 2011 film Source Code (qv).
Personally, I think this film takes the piss when its screenwriters expect its audience to understand the complexities of time travel when the writers clearly have no clue. Even if you turn a blind eye to the many plotholes, this something you've seen done many times before. Even if you turn a blind eye to the many plotholes, this is something you've seen done many times before.
5/10

DELICATESSEN (15)
D: Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro
UGC/Constellation/Hachette (Claude Ossard)
🇫🇷 1991
97 mins

Comedy/Fantasy

W: Adrien Gilles, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro
DP: Dariusz Khondji
Ed: Herve Schneid
Mus: Carlos D'Alessi
PD: Marc Caro

Marie-Laure Dougnac (Julie Clapet), Dominique Piñon (Louison), Karin Viard (Mademoiselle Plusse), Jean-Claude Dreyfus (Clapet), Ticky Holgado (Marcel Tapioca)

A black comedy/surrealist nightmare set in post-Apocalyptic France where due to food shortages, a butcher serves up the residents of the flats above his shop. 
The production design of the movie is fantastic, playing out like a French version of the Terry Gilliam movie Brazil. 
It's offbeat, but very entertaining. Considering the low budget, all the visuals are striking.
8/10

"What did happen on the Cahulawassee River?"
"What did happen on the Cahulawassee River?"
DELIVERANCE (18)
D: John Boorman
Warner Bros. (John Boorman)
🇺🇸 1972
109 mins

Adventure

W: James Dickey [based on his novel]
DP: Vilmos Zsigmond
Ed: Tom Priestley
Mus: Eric Weissberg

Jon Voight (Ed), Burt Reynolds (Lewis), Ned Beatty (Bobby), Ronny Cox (Drew)

Four friends from the big city go on a canoeing trip in a backwoods Southern community get a more perilous experience than the white water rapids and the great outdoors. 
The movie achieves a classic status for it's two memorable scenes but is so much greater than 'duelling banjo's' and the disturbing 'squeal piggy' scenes. All four main cast members deliver excellent performances, with Burt Reynolds arguably the standout with his greatest ever screen performance.
Director John Boorman never really bettered this film (although Hope & Glory was a great effort) and the film can only truly be described as a 'must watch'.
9/10

"The future isn't big enough for the both of them."
"The future isn't big enough for the both of them."
DEMOLITION MAN (15)
D: Marco Brambilla
Warner Bros. (Joel Silver, Michael Levy & Howard Kazanjian)
🇺🇸 1993
115 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Daniel Waters, Robert Reneau, Peter M. Lenkov & Jonathan Lemkin
DP: Alex Thomson
Ed: Stuart Baird
Mus: Elliott Goldenthal
PD: David L. Snyder

Sylvester Stallone (Sgt. John Spartan), Wesley Snipes (Simon Phoenix), Sandra Bullock (Lt. Lenina Huxley), Nigel Hawthorne (Dr. Raymond Cocteau), Benjamin Bratt (Officer Alfredo Garcia), Denis Leary (Edgar Friendly)

If you don't take this film too seriously it's quite fun as a satirical action movie set in a non-violent future, that being said, it's not really that great and thinks it's cleverer than what it actually is.
Bad news cop John Spartan (Stallone) is cryogenically frozen along with über-baddie Wesley Snipes. They are both awoken in the 21st century many years after an earthquake which has changed the landscape of Los Angeles and the attitudes of the population.  Violence is unheard of, foul language is punishable by fines and the use of toilet paper is an archaic practice (seriously), but Stallone and Snipes shake it all up.
The film saw a breakthrough role for Sandra Bullock, playing spunky a 21st century cop who assists Stallone's fish out of water, but the script really doesn't help her character.
Of course, no blockbuster is complete without blatant product placement, but surprisingly it's Taco Bell rather than McDonald's which receives the honours.
Despite many criticisms, the production design for this film is incredibly good, although it's an incredibly unlikely fantasy-vision of the future with some of the concepts beyond bizarre.
Loose parallels could be drawn with Aldous Huxley's novel 'Brave New World' and Sandra Bullock's character was clearly named as a homage.
6/10

DEMONS (DEMONI) (18)
D: Lamberto Bava
Dacfilm (Dario Argento)
🇮🇹 1985
89 mins

Horror

W: Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, Dardano Saccheti & Franco Ferrini
Mus: Claudio Simonetti

Urbano Barberini (George), Natasha Hovey (Cheryl), Fiore Argento (Hannah), Geretta Giancarlo (Rosemary)

A group of various people are tricked into attending a movie premiere at a dilapidated cinema and while the horror movie is screening, members of the audience start to transform into flesh-eating monster.
Derivative of zombie flicks, this European horror film from producer Dario Argento has similarities to his earlier work, with much bloodshed and gore, as well as some rather grizzly makeup effects. It became something of a cult favourite on home video.
6/10

DENNIS (aka DENNIS THE MENACE (PG)
D: Nick Castle
Warner Bros. (John Hughes & Richard Vane)
🇺🇸 1993
96 mins

Comedy

W: John Hughes [based on characters created by Hank Ketchum]
DP: Thomas Ackerman
Ed: Alan Heim
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith

Walter Matthau (George Wilson), Mason Gamble (Dennis Mitchell), Joan Plowright (Martha Wilson), Christopher Lloyd (Switchblade Sam), Lea Thompson (Alice Mitchell)

Not to be confused with the character Dennis The Menace, from British comic The Beano, this is a big screen version the American cartoon series "Dennis" about a mischievious 5-year-old brat whose shenanigans drive his docile, elderly neighbour George Wilson to the brink of insanity.
It has some funny moments but is overall just another movie in the whole young kids vs moronic adults chain following the success of Home Alone, Problem Child and other such films which were out in their droves during the early 90's.
5/10

THE DEPARTED (18)
D: Martin Scorsese
Warner Bros./Initial/Plan B/Vertigo (Brad Pitt, Brad Grey & Graham King)
🇺🇸 🇭🇰 2006
151 mins

Crime/Thriller

W: William Monahan [based on the screenplay 'Infernal Affairs' by Alan Mak & Felix Chong]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Thelma Schoonmaker
Mus: Howard Shore
PD: Kristi Zea

Leonardo DiCaprio (William 'Billy' Costigan), Matt Damon (Colin Sullivan), Jack Nicholson (Frank Costello), Martin Sheen (Captain Queenan), Mark Wahlberg (Staff Sgt. Dignam), Ray Winstone (Mr. French), Alec Baldwin (Ellerby), Vera Farmiga (Madolyn)

Based on a Japanese trilogy of crime movies and relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, an undercover cop infiltrates his way into the mob hierarchy, whilst a young cop with ties to the head gangster is simultaneously promoted through the ranks. 
A fantastic piece of ensemble casting, with villains playing good guys, good guys playing villians and a mixture of both thrown into the mix. Leonardo di Caprio, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen & Marc Wahlberg are standouts of the cast, but everybody involved deserves their fair share of credit.
It isn't Scorsese's best film, but it certainly falls in his top 10 and saw him win a deserved (and belated) Oscar for a glittering career of magnificent movies. It also proves that he can tackle remakes without deviating from the quality of the original.
9/10
  
DERAILED (15)
D: Mikael Håfström
Miramax/TWC (Lorenzo di Bonaventura)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2005
107 mins

Thriller 

W: Stuart Beattie [based on the novel by James Siegel]
DP: Peter Biziou
Ed: Peter Boyle
Mus: Edward Shearmur

Clive Owen (Charles Schine), Jennifer Aniston (Jane / Lucinda Harris), Vincent Cassel (Philippe LaRoche), Melissa George (Deanna Schine), Giancarlo Esposito (Det. Franklin Church)

Anyone who says the plot twist is obvious is lying. The plot twist is actually so ridiculous in this film it cheapens the thrilling build up which comes before it.
Clive Owen plays a businessman who cheats on his wife, Melissa George, for a bit of naughtiness with Jennifer Aniston (silly boy). The two are attacked in their hotel room, where Aniston is raped and Owen is mugged.  Since the two were engaging in an illicit affair, neither of them report the crime for risk of their spouses discovering the infidelity.
Days later, Owen is contacted by the attacker for more money in a seemingly continuous web of blackmail and deceit, until Owen gets in over his head and takes the law into his own hands, leading to the forementioned ridiculousness.
The performances hold this film together more than the flawed storyline, which is atypically what you'd be subjected to in a TV movie-of-the-week. Decent, but not great, and not to be confused with a Jean Claude Van Damme film of the same name.         
5/10

THE DESCENDANTS (15)
D: Alexander Payne
Fox Searchlight (Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor & Jim Burke)
🇺🇸 2011
115 mins

Drama/Comedy

W: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash [based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings]
DP: Phedon Papamichael
Ed: Kevin Tent
Mus: Rolfe Kent

George Clooney (Matt King), Beau Bridges (Hugh), Shailene Woodley (Alexandra King), Judy Greer (Julie Speer), Matthew Lillard (Brian Speer), Robert Forster (Scott)

Whenever George Clooney does his Cary Grant act, his performance depends heavily on the quality of the screenplay... 
The Descendants has an excellent screenplay, co-written by Alexander Payne whose movies always seem to be critically adored and who I view as a more dramatic, less neurotic version of Woody Allen.
The movie follows a lawyer (Clooney) whose world is thrown into turmoil when his wife is in a coma following an accident and he has to reconnect with his rebellious daughters while completing a business deal which could see his family earn millions from a real estate deal. The script finely balances tender dramatic moments with humour and the performances from the ensemble cast are quite terrific, especially Shailene Woodley as the eldest daughter. I think this is George Clooney's career best performance and director Payne brings a Hawaii to the screen which isn't all luaus, tropical cocktails & eternal paradise, but just another part of the world where people experience the same dramas as everyone else.
8/10

"Face your deepest fear."
"Face your deepest fear."
THE DESCENT (18)
D: Neil Marshall
Pathé (Christian Colson)
🇬🇧 2005
99 mins

Horror

W: Neil Marshall
DP: Sam McCurdy
Ed: Jon Harris
Mus: David Julyan
PD: Simon Bowles

Shauna MacDonald (Sarah Carter), Natalie Mendoza (Juno Caplan), Alex Reid (Beth O'Brien), Saskia Mulder (Rebecca Vernet), Myanna Buring (Sam Vernet), Nora-Jane Noone (Holly)

When a potholing expedition goes wrong, a group of women find themselves trapped in unchartered caves with no means of escape and an inadequacy of survival gear. Their psychological and personal welfare is put to further test when they discover they are not alone and are being hunted by blind, vampire-like predators.
Unlike many modern horror films this maintains tension throughout, locking in the claustrophobia early on before pouring on the scares in abundance.
The acting isn't spectacular, but it is made up for with the atmospheric cinematography and production design. 
7/10

"He came back to settle the score with someone. Anyone. Everyone."
"He came back to settle the score with someone. Anyone. Everyone."
DESPERADO (18)
D: Robert Rodriguez
Columbia/Los Hooligans (Bill Borden & Robert Rodriguez)
🇺🇸 1995
106 mins

Action/Western

W: Robert Rodriguez [based on his screenplay 'El Mariachi']
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Robert Rodriguez
Mus: Los Lobos
PD: Cecilia Montiel

Antonio Banderas (El Mariachi), Salma Hayek (Carolina), Joaquin de Almeida (Bucho), Steve Buscemi (Buscemi), Cheech Marin (Short Bartender)

Robert Rodriguez remakes his own 1992 low-budget action movie El Mariachi with a souped-up budget. 
Enjoyably over-the-top, Rodriguez was clearly influenced by Hong Kong action movies such as those directed by John Woo and shows homage in his exaggeratedly drawn-out shoot outs, but unfortunately Desperado lacks the rawness of the original film. Nevertheless, most people prefer this version.
6/10

DESPICABLE ME (PG)
D: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Universal/Illumination (Chris Meledandri, John Cohen & Janet Healy)
🇺🇸 2010
95 mins

Animated

W: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio
Mus: Heitor Pereira; Pharrell Williams

voices of: Steve Carell (Gru), Jason Segel (Vector), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario), Kristin Wiig (Miss Hattie), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith), Elsie Fisher (Agnes)

While not as polished as Pixar animated movies, this is still decent entertainment for the family, with a good story about a super villain, Gru, and his 'minions' who hatch a nefarious plan to steal the moon.
To help Gru's plans to come into fruition, he must adopt three orphans girls, who at first are simply part of his evil plans but after a while he develops a paternal instinct and begins to start caring for them.
It's all quite cutesy & sweet, but there are good moments of humour, most of which comes from the idiotic minions.
I compared this to Pixar's The Incredibles, though as I said above, the animation isn't quite as meticulous as Pixar's work, although it will be just as appealing to youngsters.
7/10
  
DESPICABLE ME 2 (PG)
D: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Universal/Illumination (Chris Meledandri & Janet Healy)
🇺🇸 2013
98 mins

Animated

W: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio
Mus: Heitor Pereira; Pharrell Williams

voices of: Steve Carell (Gru), Kristin Wiig (Lucy Wilde), Benjamin Bratt (El Macho), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Elsie Fisher (Agnes), Dana Gaier (Edith), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario)

The overall cuteness of the first movie has gone but this sequel is every bit as entertaining.
Gru has shed his bad guy persona in order to be the father of the three orphan girls from the first movie but he still has a huge entourage of minions. 
Meanwhile, an unknown villain is plotting a nefarious plan so Gru is hired by a secret organisation to 'think like a villain' in order to catch their man at large.
The animation is very well done and this is entertaining for both kids and adults, with some more fun, toe-tapping songs by Pharrell Williams and a good range of voice talent, including Kristen Wiig as Gru's partner/love interest.
The ending had me wondering if there's any more scope for a planned third movie. Personally, I think this franchise should be left alone now, although it's no surprise that the minions got their own spin-off film. 
6/10

DESTINATION MOON (U)
D: Irving Pichel
Universal (George Pal)
🇺🇸 1950
91 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Rip Van Ronkel, James O'Hanlon & Robert Heinlein
DP: Lionel Lindon
Ed: Duke Goldstone
Mus: Leith Stevens
PD: Ernst Fegté

Warner Anderson (Dr. Charles Cargraves), John Archer (Jim Barnes), Tom Powers (General Thayer), Dick Wesson (Joe Sweeney)

Released 19 years prior to the real-life moon landing, Destination Moon is eerily realistic to the (then) futuristic events.
Though the special effects technically got the physical aspects of the moon surface and space travel correct, they have become incredibly dated after 60 years and the story is quite basic, but it's a decent space-adventure for its time and can be appreciated for historic value. 
6/10

DETROIT (15)

D: Kathryn Bigelow

Annapurna/First Light (Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Matthew Budman, Megan Ellison & Colin Wilson)

🇺🇸 2017

143 mins


Drama/Crime


W: Mark Boal

DP: Barry Ackroyd

Ed: William Goldenberg

Mus: James Newton Howard


John Boyega (Melvin Dismukes), Will Poulter (Philip Krauss), Algee Smith (Larry Reed), Jacob Latimore (Fred Temple), Jason Mitchell (Carl Cooper), Hannah Murray (Julie Ann), Kaitlyn Dever (Karen), Anthony Mackie (Greene)


Set during the 1967 Detroit riots, Kathryn Bigelow's crime drama focuses mostly on events before, during and after the Algiers Motel Incident, where three black teenagers were shot dead by police officers in what was alleged to be racially-motivated brutality.

With the truth behind the events sketchy, the film pieces the blanks together with realistic conviction, but the film also seems willing to stoke a fire during a time when racial tension in America is incredibly fractious, especially with an ending where no justice is served to those who should have been found guilty.

The ensemble cast all do a great job, particularly John Boyega, Algee Smith & Will Poulter, and Kathryn Bigelow's direction is gripping throughout. Surprisingly, the film was a flop during its cinema run, despite glowing reviews from critics. Perhaps its audience is still waiting to discover it.

7/10


THE DEVIL INSIDE (18)

D: William Brent Bell

Paramount/Insurge/Prototype (Matthew Peterman & Matthew Paulson)

🇺🇸 2012

83 mins


Horror


W: William Brent Bell & Matthew Paulson

DP: Gonzalo Amat

Ed: Timothy Mirkovich & William Brent Bell

Mus: Ben Romans & Brett Detar


Fernanda Andrade (Isabella Rossi), Simon Quarterman (Father Ben Rawlings), Evan Helmuth (Father David Keane), Ionut Grama (Michael Schaefer), Suzan Crowley (Maria Rossi)


Yawn. Another cheaply made "found footage" horror movie to cash-in on the success of the terrible Paranormal Activity movies. 

Following a botched exorcism which results in grizzly murder, the woman responsible is convicted and incarcerated at an asylum in Vatican City. 

Isabella Rossi, the murderer's daughter, plans to visit her mother for the first time in 20 years, as she films a documentary which investigates the murder and subsequently records a clandestine exorcism being performed.

The ridiculous plot is tailored for the found footage gimmick, and even that isn't done very well, with the lead actress just gormlessly watching the events unfold instead of emoting with any sort of conviction.

Everything else is the usual demonic possession tropes first seen in The Exorcist thrown in with nothing of any originality and an abrupt ending which proves that production ran out of money whilst filming.

Despite being a moderate box office hit, this is easily the worst horror movie released in 2012 and its success can only be attributed to a marketing campaign and trailer which completely misled cinemagoers.

1/10


THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (15)
D: David Frankel
20th Century Fox (Wendy Finerman)
🇺🇸 2006
109 mins

Comedy

W: Aline Brosh McKenna [based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger]
DP: Florian Ballhaus
Ed: Mark Livolsi
Mus: Theodore Shapiro
PD: Jess Gonchor
Cos: Patricia Field

Anne Hathaway (Andrea Sachs), Meryl Streep (Miranda Priestley), Emily Blunt (Emily Charlton), Stanley Tucci (Nigel)

Despite being demographically targeted to women, men can also enjoy this fashion world comedy due to the deliciously bitchy performance by Meryl Streep (although it really is a supporting performance rather than a leading one).
Anne Hathaway has the lead role as a budding businesswoman vying to work her way up the ladder of the fashion & beauty industry. She lands a job as an assistant to Streep's publication editor who is incredibly difficult to please. 
Similarities can be struck to the 1988 film Working Girl, especially with scenes involving Anne Hathaway's character choosing between her boyfriend and her career, although this film has enough originality to carry it, based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger. 
Despite all the critical plaudits going to Meryl Streep, the real scene-stealing performance belongs to Emily Blunt as Hathaway's rival assistant.
7/10

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (18)
D: Taylor Hackford
Warner Bros. (Arnon Milchan, Arnold Kopelson & Anne Kopelson)
🇺🇸 1997
144 mins

Horror/Thriller

W: Jonathan Lemkin & Tony Gilroy [based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman]
DP: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Ed: Mark Warner
Mus: James Newton Howard
PD: Bruno Rubeo

Keanu Reeves (Kevin Lomax), Al Pacino (John Milton), Charlize Theron (Mary Ann Lomax), Jeffrey Jones (Eddie Barzoon), Judith Ivey (Edith Lomax), Connie Nielsen (Christabella Andreoli), Craig T. Nelson (Alexander Cullen)

A horror twist on the courtroom drama, playing wholly on the concept that the devil owns a law firm which specialises in getting the guilty acquitted, free to roam the streets to sin again. Unfortunately, this is as satirical as it gets and the final 15 minutes descends into incredulity.
Keanu Reeves is less wooden than usual as hotshot lawyer Kevin Lomax, whilst Al Pacino gets to ham it up and shout a lot as John Milton, the firm's owner. The best performance in the film belongs to newcomer Charlize Theron, a solid debut as Lomax's wife.
6/10

THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO) (18)
D: Guillermo del Toro
Sony Pictures Classics/Canal+/Good Machine (Agustin Almodóvar & Bertha Navarro)
🇪🇸 🇲🇽 2001 
108 mins

Horror 

W: Guillermo del Toro, Antonio Trashorras & David Muñoz
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Luis de la Madrid
Mus: Javier Navarrete

Marisa Paredes (Carmen), Eduardo Noriega (Jacinto), Federico Luppi (Dr. Casares), Fernando Tielve (Carlos), Iñigo Garcés (Jaime)

Similarities will be made with the same director's Pan's Labyrinth, although The Devil's Backbone predates it by 5 years.
Set during the Spanish Civil War, at a remote setting, with children as the key characters, whose eyes filter out the politics involved in the on-going war. Guillermo del Toro's direction also allows the story to be told through atmospheric photography and macabre production design, rather than blood and gore effects.
After his father dies, a 10-year old is sent to a desert orphanage, where a ageing professor and a crippled widow hope to protect them from the war outside the walls, but the true danger exists within the walls, initially in the form of a bullying older boy, the rumours of another orphan who disappeared, and the janitor with an attitude (Eduardo Noriega), a former child of the orphanage.
A mysterious ghost story with hidden messages about the political landscape at the time, The Devil's Backbone is worth a watch simply for the chilling style in which it's filmed.
6/10

DIABOLIQUE (18)
D: Jeremiah Chechik
Warner Bros./Morgan Creek/ABC (Marvin Worth & James G. Robinson)
🇺🇸 1996
107 mins

Thriller

W: Don Roos [based on the novel 'Celle Qui N'Était Plus' by Pierre Boileau & Thomas Narcejec]
DP: Peter James
Ed: Carol Littleton
Mus: Randy Edelman
PD: Leslie Dilley

Sharon Stone (Nicole Horner), Isabelle Adjani (Mia Baran), Chazz Palminteri (Guy Baran), Kathy Bates (Shirley Vogel)

Pathetic remake of French thriller Les Diabolique which failed to even understand the basic premise of the original film and tacks on a Hollywood ending which makes absolutely no sense.
All the performances are miscast and the film generally fails to justify it's existence.
Watch the original film instead of this load of muff!
1/10

LES DIABOLIQUES (15)
D: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Filmsonor (Henri-Georges Clouzot)
🇫🇷 1955
114 mins

Thriller/Horror

W: Henri-Georges Clouzet & Jerome Geronimi [based on the novel 'Celle Qui N'Était Plus' by Pierre Boileau & Thomas Narcejec]
DP: Armand Thirard
Ed: Madeliene Gug
Mus: Georges Van Parys

Simone Signoret (Nicole Horner), Vera Clouzot (Christina Delasalle), Paul Meurisse (Michel Delasalle), Charles Vanel (Inspector Fichet), Jean Brochard (Plantiveau)

Classic thriller from a director dubbed "The French Alfred Hitchcock" and on this evidence, deservedly so.
A sadistic headmaster's wife & mistress conspire to murder him and are seemingly haunted by his spirit after his body disappears. 
This film perfectly balances suspense with horror, fine tuned with some great performance from its cast. 
It was remade in 1996 starring Sharon Stone, but that version should be ignored under all circumstances.
8/10

DIAL M FOR MURDER (PG)
D: Alfred Hitchcock
Warner Bros. (Alfred Hitchcock)
🇺🇸 1954
105 mins

Thriller

W: Frederick Knott [based on his play]
DP: Robert Burks
Ed: Rudi Fehr
Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin
PD: Edward Carrere & George James Hopkins

Ray Milland (Tony Wendice), Grace Kelly (Margot Wendice), Robert Cummings (Mark Halliday), John Williams (Chief Inspector Hubbard), Anthony Dawson (Captain Swan Lesgate)

Set-bound but highly influential Hitchcock thriller based on Frederick Knott's stage play.
Retired tennis player Tony Wendice arranges to have someone kill his wife so he can benefit from the inheritance, but the complex plan goes wrong, leading to an investigator piecing together how it was originally conspired.
Hitchcock originally planned to explore possibilities with 3-D filmmaking when making this film but the gimmick never really came off, where it really pays off however is in dramatic tension. Still, it's interesting that The Master of Suspense was always planning on new ways to be inventive with his filmmaking to keep his work fresh & exciting. 
8/10

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (PG)
D: Guy Hamilton
United Artists/EON/Danjaq (Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli)
🇬🇧 1971
118 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Richard Maibaum & Tom Mankiewicz [based on the novel by Ian Fleming]
DP: Ted Moore
Ed: Bert Bates
Mus: John Barry
PD: Ken Adam

Sean Connery (James Bond), Jill St. John (Tiffany Case), Charles Gray (Blofeld), Lana Wood (Plenty O'Toole), Jimmy Dean (Willard Whyte), Bruce Cabot (Saxby), Bruce Glover (Wint), Putter Smith (Kidd), Norman Burton (Felix Leiter)

James Bond follows an international diamond smuggler across the world, climaxing in a secret lair in the Nevada desert.
Sean Connery's last official outing as 007, reclaiming the reins from George Lazenby in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
The story isn't as memorable as other James Bond movies, requiring more glitzy locations, stunts and special effects to mask the scripts shortcomings. 
6/10
  
"Shoot the dead."
"Shoot the dead."
DIARY OF THE DEAD (18)
D: George A. Romero
Optimum (Peter Grunwald, Art Spigel, Sam Englebardt & Ara Katz)
🇺🇸 2008
94 mins

Horror

W: George A. Romero
DP: Adam Swica
Ed: Michael Doherty
Mus: Norman Orenstein

Michelle Morgan (Debra), Josh Close (Jason), Shawn Roberts (Tony), Amy Lalonde (Tracy), Joe Dinicol (Eliot), Scott Wentworth (Andrew)

The Night Of The Living Dead saga gets the documentary style/found footage treatment and it works in places, but not so well in others, as a ragtag group of teenagers film the events of a zombie apocalypse when the low-budget horror film they were shooting is interrupted by it.
Unfortunately it tries too hard to be clever and make some sort of social commentary that it forgets to be scary.
4/10
 
DICK TRACY (PG)
D: Warren Beatty
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV (Warren Beatty)
🇺🇸 1990
103 mins

Crime/Adventure

W: Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr. [based on characters from the comic book created by Chester Gould]
DP: Vittorio Storaro
Ed: Richard Marks
Mus: Danny Elfman; Stephen Sondheim
PD: Richard Sylbert
Cos: Milena Canonero

Warren Beatty (Dick Tracy), Charlie Korsmo (Kid), Glenne Headly (Tess Trueheart), Madonna (Breathless Mahoney), Al Pacino (Big Boy Caprice), Dustin Hoffman (Mumbles), William Forsyth (Flat Top), Charles Durning (Chief Brandon), Mandy Patinkin (88 Keys), Paul Sorvino (Lips Manlis)

Warren Beatty's performance is too wooden and lacks charisma to do true justice to the eponymous comic strip character, but his direction brings a fantastic visual style, with sets and costumes of primary colours captured handsomely by Vittorio Storaro's photography for a real cutting edge comic book look. Most of the stars are virtually unrecognisable in brilliant prosthetic makeup, especially Al Pacino, who is fantastic as Big Boy Caprice, but aside from those mentions of merit it's incredibly boring due to a rather limp narrative.  Madonna's performance isn't helped, miscast as a gangster's moll who just seems to be cast to aimlessly coo through Stephen Sondheim's original songs.
5/10

DIE ANOTHER DAY (12)
D: Lee Tamahori
20th Century Fox/Odyssey/Apollo (Sam Taylor, Mike Downey & Frank Huebner)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2002
103 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade [based on characters created by Ian Fleming]
DP: David Tattersall
Ed: Christian Wagner
Mus: David Arnold
PD: Peter Lamont

Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Halle Berry (Jinx Johnson), Toby Stephens (Gustav Graves), Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost), Rick Yune (Zao), Judi Dench (M), John Cleese (Q), Michael Madsen (Damien Falco), Madonna (Verity)

James Bond escapes imprisonment by North Koreans and sets out to discover who betrayed him.
Pierce Brosnan deserves a little credit for keeping a straight face through what is easily the most ridiculous Bond movie so far, which takes the piss out of viewers by asking them to accept that it's feasible for the film's hero to hide behind an invisible car.
Worst Bond film. Worst Bond song. Worst Bond cameo appearance. Take a bow, Madonna.
3/10

"Suspense. Excitement. Adventure. On every level."
"Suspense. Excitement. Adventure. On every level."
DIE HARD (18)
D: John McTiernan
20th Century Fox (Lawrence Gordon & Joel Silver)
🇺🇸 1988
131 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Jeb Stuart & Steven E. de Souza [based on the novel 'Nothing Lasts Forever' by Roderick Thorp]
DP: Jan de Bont
Ed: Frank J. Urioste & John F. Link
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: Jackson DeGovia

Bruce Willis (John McClane), Bonnie Bedelia (Holly Gennaro McClane), Reginald Veljohnson (Sgt. Al Powell), Paul Gleason (Dwayne T. Johnson), Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber), De'voreaux White (Argyle), William Atherton (Thornburg), Hart Bochner (Ellis), James Shigeta (Takagi), Alexander Godunov (Karl)

The definitive action movie of the 1980's, creating an entire genre of copycats pitting a lone hero against a group of bad guys in a sole location.
Bruce Willis stepped from TV sitcom star into tough guy roles with his role as NYPD cop John McClane, visiting his family for the Christmas holidays and finding the odds stacked against him when terrorists strike her high-rise office complex. McClane single-handedly takes on the bad guys as he runs around the building barefoot, picking them off one-by-one, even when the police, FBI and press outside the building hinder his efforts by allowing his real identity to be leaked, putting his wife in jeopardy.
For an action movie, all the performances are surprisingly very well acted, especially Alan Rickman as the terrorist leader- setting up a cliche that, henceforth, all bad guys will be played by a British actor.
Packed with action, suspense, thrills and realistic drama, Die Hard set a benchmark in the genre which is often imitated, but never bettered.
10/10

DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER (18)
D: Renny Harlin
20th Century Fox (Lawrence Gordon, Charles Gordon & Joel Silver)
🇺🇸 1990
124 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Steven E. de Souza & Doug Richardson [based on the novel '58 Minutes' by Walter Wager]
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Stuart Baird & Robert A. Ferretti
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: John Vallone

Bruce Willis (Lt. John McClane), Bonnie Bedelia (Holly Gennero- McClane), William Sadler (Col. Stuart), Franco Nero (Gen. Ramon Esperanza), Dennis Franz (Capt. Carmine Lorenzo), William Atherton (Richard Thornburg), Art Evans (Leslie Barnes), Fred Dalton Thompson (Ed Trudeau), Reginald Veljohnson (Sgt. Al Powell)

The first Die Hard movie saw LAPD cop John McClane running around an office complex in trousers and a vest picking off bad guys one by one on Christmas Eve.
This time, he gets to wear a bunch of questionable sweaters as he attempts to thwart terrorists who have locked down an airport, threatening to crash planes into the runways unless their demands are met.
Adapted from the novel '58 Minutes' which had nothing to do with the novel that inspired the original Die Hard, this sequel does feel like too many square pegs were placed in round holes. There are some entertaining moments of action, peppered with good visual effects and spicy one-liners, but it does suffer massively in comparison with the original film.
6/10

"Think fast. Look alive. Die hard."
"Think fast. Look alive. Die hard."
DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE (15)
D: John McTiernan
20th Century Fox/Buena Vista/Cinergi (John McTiernan & Michael Tadross)
🇺🇸 1995
128 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Jonathan Hensleigh
DP: Peter Menzies
Ed: John Wright
Mus: Michael Kamen
PD: Jackson DeGovia

Bruce Willis (Lt. John McClane), Samuel L. Jackson (Zeus Carver), Jeremy Irons (Simon Gruber), Graham Greene (Det. Joe Lambert), Colleen Camp (Det. Connie Kowalski)

The third Die Hard film changes the formula into something which was probably originally conceived for the Lethal Weapon series of movies (the shooting script was originally titled Simon Says).
John McClane is now separated from his wife and on suspension from the NYPD, but brought back into duty when a terrorist summons him to fulfil a number of tasks, mostly for his own amusement, but failure to complete them will result in a bomb detonating somewhere in New York City.
McClane also gets a companion in this movie, as pugnacious Harlem shop owner Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) gets sucked into the chaos.
It turns out that the terrorist behind the games and bombings is none other than the brother of the bad guy from the first film, making this none other than a plot of revenge and robbery when a Wall Street gold vault is targeted amidst the wild goose chase to find bombs elsewhere.
Despite a refreshing change to the formula of the previous two films, it just doesn't feel like a Die Hard film, mostly due to the fact that McClane isn't alone in his stand against the bad guys. 
Entertaining, but nothing more.
6/10
  
DIE HARD 4.0 (aka LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) (15)
D: Len Wiseman
20th Century Fox/Dune (Michael Fottrell)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 2007
129 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Mark Bomback [based on the article "A Farewell To Arms" by John Carlin]
DP: Simon Duggan
Ed: Nicolas DeToth
Mus: Marco Beltrami
PD: Patrick Tatopolous

Bruce Willis (Det. John McClane), Justin Long (Matt Farrell), Timothy Olyphant (Thomas Gabriel), Cliff Curtis (Miguel Bowman), Maggie Q (Mai Linh), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Lucy Gennero-McClane), Kevin Smith (Frederick 'Warlock' Kaludis)

Very little is left from the original movie except the character of John McClane, now divorced and having a bad relationship with his kid's too. Nevermind, there's still a group of terrorists to take on single-handedly.
The terrorists in this 3rd sequel are cyber-criminals, holding America to ransom as they hack into various government resources to gain control of power, telecommunications and the airwaves. McClane chaperones a software expert who contributed towards the cyber-crime to Washington DC but is hunted all the way by the terrorists who are tying up all loose ends.
Despite completely changing the formula from the first two films and not really being a "Die Hard movie", this is a decent standalone action movie. The plot may verge on the ludicrous side and it may ripoff action scenes from other movies, but it's still a thoroughly entertaining watch with good visual effects and some cynical humour.
The main bad guy is a bit of a pansy, but I suppose that's part of the point.
The Die Hard series continued with A Good Day To Die Hard (qv)
6/10
  
DIGBY: THE BIGGEST DOG IN THE WORLD (U)
D: Joe McGrath
20th Century Fox (Walter Shenson)
🇬🇧 1973
88 mins

Comedy/Science Fiction

W: Michael Pertwee [based on the book 'Hazel' by Ted Key]
DP: Harry Waxman
Ed: Jim Connock
Mus: Edwin T. Astley

Jim Dale (Jeff Eldon), Peter Sellers (Dr. Harz), Angela Douglas (Janine)

If you were to watch this movie now, you'd probably balk at how dated the special effects appear to be.
The story itself is quite decent; an old English sheepdog accidentally drinks an experimental growth formula intended for use on plants and grows to gargantuan size. 
It's unlikely to find any audience nowadays, but for the 1970's it made a nice children's film for a rainy afternoon.
A film which is unfortunately very much stuck in its own age.
4/10

"Suddenly, life was more than french fries, gravy and girls."
"Suddenly, life was more than french fries, gravy and girls."
DINER (15)
D: Barry Levinson
MGM/United Artists (Jerry Weintraub)
🇺🇸 1982
110 mins

Comedy/Drama

W: Barry Levinson 
DP: Peter Sova
Ed: Stu Linder

Steve Guttenberg (Eddie), Daniel Stern (Shrevie), Mickey Rourke (Boogie), Kevin Bacon (Fenwick), Timothy Daly (Billy), Ellen Barkin (Beth), Paul Reiser (Modell), Kathryn Dowling (Barbara)

The first of Barry Levinson's "Baltimore trilogy" (merely a trilogy of films set in the director/writer's hometown). 
Set in 1959, the story follows a group of college students and their various lives and             problems.
The film carefully balances between comedy and drama without fully committing to either genre. As a nostalgic character study it works best, with a handful of good performances, some memorable scenes and sporadically witty dialogue.
8/10

DIRTY DANCING (15)
D: Emile Ardolino
Vestron (Linda Gottlieb & Eleanor Bernstein)
🇺🇸 1987
97 mins

Drama/Musical/Romance

W: Eleanor Bergstein
DP: Jeff Jur
Ed: Peter C. Frank
Mus: John Morris
PD: David Chapman
Cos: Hilary Rosenfeld

Jennifer Grey (Frances 'Baby' Houseman), Patrick Swayze (Johnny Castle), Jerry Orbach (Dr. Jake Houseman), Cynthia Rhodes (Penny Johnson), Jack Weston (Max Kellerman), Jane Brucker (Lisa Houseman), Kelly Bishop (Marjorie Houseman)

The most critic proof film of 1987. It doesn't matter what I say about this film, you'll either love it or hate it.
Without doubt, Dirty Dancing will leave all the ladies swooning over Patrick Swayze's rippling chest and abs (and maybe slightly jealous, wishing it was them dancing with Johnny at the end instead of Baby Houseman), this is just a film that guys won't appreciate as much.  It's good bubblegum entertainment which has aspirations to be wholesome, but am I the only person questioning why a Summer Camp Rep in his thirties is romantically cavorting with a teenager?  People get locked up for this sort of thing in real life! (Apologies if I've ruined the magic, but it's kinda true.)
Taking the movie as a metaphor for a teenage girl's step into adulthood it can be appreciated a lot more than the face value story of a girl defying her parents to practice dancing with her rebellious instructor while on holiday at a summer camp in the 1960's.
Grossly overrated by women and completely underrated by men, my opinion sees it fall somewhere in the middle.  A semi-classic of pop culture with a memorable soundtrack of iconic songs.
6/10
  
THE DIRTY DOZEN (15)
D: Robert Aldrich
MGM (Kenneth Hyman)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1967
149 mins

War/Action

W: Lukas Heller & Nunnally Johnson [based on the novel by E.M. Nathanson]
DP: Edward Scaife
Ed: Michael Luciano
Mus: Frank de Vol

Lee Marvin (Maj. Reisman), Ernest Borgnine (Gen. Worden), Charles Bronson (Joseph Wladislaw), Telly Savalas (Archer J. Maggott), John Cassavetes (Victor Franko), Jim Brown (Robert Jefferson), Richard Jaeckel (Sgt. Bowren), George Kennedy (Maj. Max Armbruster), Donald Sutherland (Vernon Pinkley)

Notoriously violent for its time, The Dirty Dozen is a Gung Ho, all-star wartime action flick with principal focus on explosions and set pieces rather than character, but it still manages to be hugely entertaining.
Lee Marvin plays a rebellious major who is tasked with assembling a suicide squad made up of military prisoners so they can infiltrate and destroy a chateau in Nazi-occupied France where all the high ranking generals congregate.
Marvin puts the recruits through an intense training scheme which takes up most of the film's running time, culminating in a war game exercise where his troops take on and emerge victorious over the military elite. The final act takes place at the chateau for the big action set piece from which most of them do not survive.
Though the film makes it difficult to get emotionally involved with the ragtag group of criminals, the pure machismo of the group and their exploits makes it impossible not to root for them.
All the performances are fine, especially John Cassavetes, who was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for his role, but, as said above, it's not a film you watch for the strength of the performances, but for the action scenes, all of which are brilliantly executed considering the age of the movie. 
8/10

"What did you learn from your grandparents?"
"What did you learn from your grandparents?"

DIRTY GRANDPA (15)

D: Dan Mazer

Lionsgate/QED (Bill Block, Michael Simkin, Jason Barrett & Barry Josephson)

🇺🇸 2016

102 mins


Comedy


W: John Phillips

DP: Eric Alan Edwards

Ed: Anne McCabe

Mus: Michael Andrews


Zac Efron (Jason Kelly), Robert DeNiro (Dick Kelly), Zoey Deutch (Shadia), Aubrey Plaza (Lenore), Dermot Mulroney (David Kelly), Julianne Hough (Meredith Goldstein)


Is this honestly what comedy has become in the 21st century, or will Robert DeNiro simply take on any old role now if it pays enough?

It's never a good start when you're introduced to a film's main character with him masturbating furiously while watching pornography and this scene sets the tone for Dirty Grandpa, full of puerile jokes which miss more than they hit.

In the days building up to his wedding, a young lawyer goes on a road trip with his grandfather, who convinces his grandson to take a detour to where the college kids are having spring break, so the old man can fuck a teenager. Classy.

It's an actual embarrassment that a fine actor like Robert DeNiro has to degrade his career with films like this, although without him the film could probably be even worse.

The seedy plot does make some attempt to redeem itself before the ending, but gives up on that and goes straight for the jugular of lowbrow humour. Wrong on too many levels.

2/10


"He doesn't break murder cases. He smashes them."
"He doesn't break murder cases. He smashes them."
DIRTY HARRY (18)
D: Don Siegel
Warner Bros/Malpaso (Don Siegel)
🇺🇸 1971
103 mins

Crime/Thriller

W: Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink & John Milius
DP: Bruce Surtees
Ed: Carl Pingitore 
Mus: Lalo Schifrin

Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Harry Guardino (Lt. Bressler), Reni Santori (Chico), John Vernon (The Mayor), Andy Robinson (Scorpio)

The film which introduced Clint Eastwood's most famous character, Harry Callahan, a maverick homicide cop with no respect for the civil rights of criminals. 
Set in San Francisco, a mad sniper, going by the name of Scorpio, holds the city to ransom following a series of killings and kidnappings, and Callahan puts the law into his own hands to bring about justice.
Widely criticised at the time of its release, the film has since become a blueprint for countless cop thrillers as well as spawning four sequels for the Dirty Harry character (Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact & The Dead Pool).
This film received some inspiration from the real life crimes of the Zodiac Killer, who was active the late 1960's and taunted the police with his unsolved crimes and it has to be said that, while the actions of the main character are morally dubious, it does provide great satisfaction to see the bad guys get what they deserve.
8/10

"Some things are too dangerous to keep secret."
"Some things are too dangerous to keep secret."
DIRTY PRETTY THINGS (15)
D: Stephen Frears
Miramax/BBC/Celador (Tracey Seaward & Robert Jones)
🇬🇧 2002 (released 2003)
94 mins

Drama/Thriller

W: Steven Knight
DP: Chris Menges 
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: Nathan Larson

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Okwe), Audrey Tautou (Senay Gelik), Sergi Lopez (Sneaky), Sophie Okenedo (Juliette), Benedict Wong (Guo Yi)

Great acting is showcased in Stephen Frear's dark thriller revealing the chilling underside of London's illegal immigrants.  Worth watching due to its dramatically realistic Oscar-nominated screenplay by Steven Knight and a fantastic performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor for which he was unfortunate not to be nominated for an Academy Award.
7/10

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (PG)
D: Frank Oz
Rank/Orion (Bernard Williams)
🇺🇸 1988
110 mins

Comedy/Crime

W: Dale Launer [based on the screenplay "Bedtime Story" by Stanley Shapiro & Paul Henning]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Stephen A. Rotter & William Scharf         
Mus: Miles Goodman
PD: Roy Walker

Michael Caine (Lawrence Jamieson), Steve Martin (Freddy Benson), Glenne Headly (Janet Colgate), Anton Rodgers (Inspector Andre), Barbara Harris (Fanny Eubanks), Ian McDiarmid (Arthur)

Steve Martin & Michael Caine play Freddy Benson and Lawrence Jamieson, two confidence tricksters on the French Riviera, one for small stakes whilst the other lives in a luxurious mansion. 
At first, Lawrence agrees to help Freddy spruce up his routine but when it becomes apparent that the Riviera isn't big enough for the both of them, they wager a "loser leaves town" bet over who can obtain the fortune of a naïve American soap heiress.
Directed by Frank Oz, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is arguably Steve Martin's funniest movie, featuring some absolutely hilarious scenes of the two con men trying to outfox each other and a possible scene-stealing performance from Glenne Headly as the woman whose fortune both men are feuding for.
The film is a remake of the sprightly 1964 comedy film 'Bedtime Story', starring David Niven & Marlon Brando in the leads.
8/10

THE DISASTER ARTIST (15)

D: James Franco

Warner Bros/New Line/Ratpac-Dune/Good Universe (James Franco, Vince Jolivette, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg & James Weaver)

🇺🇸 2017

103 mins


W: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber [based on the book "The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Film Ever Made" by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell]

DP: Brandon Trost

Ed: Stacey Schroeder

Mus: Dave Porter


Biopic/Comedy


James Franco (Tommy Wiseau), Dave Franco (Greg Sestero), Seth Rogen (Sandy Schklair), Ari Greynor (Juliette Danielle), Alison Brie (Amber), Josh Hutcherson (Philip Haldiman), Jacki Weaver (Carolyn Minnott), Zac Efron (Dan Janjigian)


It's a rich irony that one of the worst films ever made is the basis for one of the best films of 2017.

James Franco doesn't just portray Tommy Wiseau in this comedy biopic, he actually becomes him.

It's quite important to have seen 2003's The Room, dubbed the Citizen Kane of bad movies, before watching this "making of", or some of the references to the awful movie may not catch on.

The Room (qv) was wholly financed by struggling actor, Tommy Wiseau who spent over $6 million on the production, which he also wrote, starred in and directed, but with no filmmaking knowledge, fundamental filmmaking practices weren't just overlooked, but almost mocked (over half of The Room's running time has no bearing on the actual plot of the movie, entire sets were built for little reason, the film was shot on 35mm film and digital video, which require two different lighting methods, etc)

The comedy of errors all begins with the friendship which develops between Wiseau and struggling young actor, Greg Sestero. The two men strike a bond over their admiration of James Dean, which partially inspired Wiseau to write The Room, alongside his infatuation with famous playwright Tennessee Williams.

Though The Room is a terrible piece of work, it has gone on to achieve a cult fanbase, and this tribute to the best worst movie is bang on the money, with an excellent central performance and one of the funniest screenplays of the year. It's very much worth sitting through a terrible movie for.

8/10


DISASTER MOVIE (15)
D: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
Lions Gate (Peter Safran, Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer)
🇺🇸 2008
87 mins

Comedy

W: Aaron Seltzer & Jason Friedberg
DP: Shawn Maurer
Ed: Peck Prior
Mus: Christopher Lennertz

Matt Lanter (Will), Vanessa Minnillo (Amy), Gary 'G-Thang' Johnson (Calvin), Nicole Parker (Enchanted Princess / Amy Winehouse / Jessica Simpson), Crista Flanagan (Juney / Hannah Montana), Kim Kardashian (Lisa), Carmen Electra (The Beautiful Assassin)

Pathetically unfunny comedy from director-writer duo Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer, who present this as a parody when what they're actually doing is referencing a whole bunch of celebrities and raping a load of movies without adding any jokes.

It's pointless going over the storyline, because there isn't one, just reference after reference after reference.

The only funny thing is that the film made a profit, but that won't make you laugh either.

1/10


"Sex is power."
"Sex is power."
DISCLOSURE (18)
D: Barry Levinson
Warner/Baltimore (Barry Levinson & Michael Crichton)
🇺🇸 1994
128 mins

Thriller

W: Paul Attanasio [based on the novel by Michael Crichton]
DP: Tony Pierce-Roberts
Ed: Stu Linder
Mus: Ennio Morricone

Michael Douglas (Tom Sanders), Demi Moore (Meredith Johnson), Donald Sutherland (Bob Garvin), Caroline Goodall (Susan Hendler), Dylan Baker (Philip Blackburn)

Preposterously nonsensical thriller in which a female executive at a computer company accuses a male colleague of sexual harassment after he rejects her advances. The film drops this plot in the final act when it becomes some technological nightmare which only the writer of the novel it's based on will understand. 
The performances are also as bad as the plot, especially Demi Moore, portraying a thoroughly unlikeable character.
4/10

THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (LE CHARME DISCRET DE LA BOURGEOISIE) (15)
D: Luis Buñuel
Greenwich (Serge Silberman)
🇫🇷 🇪🇸 🇮🇹 1972
105 mins

Comedy/Drama

W: Luis Buñuel & Jean-Claude Carriere
DP: Edmond Richard
Ed: Hélène Plemiannikov
PD: Pierre Guffroy
Cos: Jacqueline Guyot

Fernando Rey (Don Raphael), Delphine Seyrig (Simone Thevenot), Stephane Audran (Alice Senechal), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Henri Senechal)

The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie is a film without a plot, but anyone familiar with Luis Buñuel's work knows that this isn't detrimental to the entertainment or artistic value.
This surrealist comedy sees a group of upper class and their efforts to enjoy a dinner together constantly interrupted by a string of increasingly bizarre scenarios.
The performances are all wonderful and the colourful composition makes it a pleasure to watch, but the lack of a formal narrative may frustrate some viewers. It will have its fans amongst world cinema aficionados though.
7/10

"You are not welcome here."
"You are not welcome here."
DISTRICT 9 (15)
D: Neill Blomkamp
Tristar/Wingnut (Peter Jackson & Carolynne Cunningham)
🇺🇸 🇨🇦 🇳🇿 🇿🇦 2009
108 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell [based on the screenplay 'Alive In Jo'burg' by Neill Blomkamp]
DP: Trent Opaloch
Ed: Julian Clarke
Mus: Clinton Shorter
PD: Philip Ivey

Sharlto Copley (Wikus van de Merwe), David James (Col. Koobus Venter), Jason Cope (Christopher Johnson), Vanessa Haywood (Tania Smit van de Merwe)

District 9 was without doubt the biggest surprise of 2009, a unique documentary-style science fiction movie which doubles up as an intelligent allegory for apartheid.
Set in Johannesburg in the near future when an alien visit leaves an entire race stranded to live in a shanty town on the edge of the city.
An operation is put into place to evict them from their slum and move them elsewhere, but some of the intergalactic residents are reluctant to leave, leading to a war between the government and the alien species.
The CGi effects are absolutely faultless and all the members of the unknown cast put in brilliant performances, especially the particularly impressive debutant Sharlto Copley.
It's a shame James Cameron's mega blockbuster Avatar was released the same year otherwise this would definitely have been the recipient of the best Visual Effects Oscar.
Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson served as producer on this project, but all the credit belongs to debut director/writer Neill Blomkamp, adapting the script from his own 2006 short film "Alive in Jo'burg".
9/10

"Welcome to the district. Welcome to hell."
"Welcome to the district. Welcome to hell."
DISTRICT 13 (18)
D: Pierre Morel
Momentum (Luc Besson)
🇫🇷 2004
84 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Luc Besson & Bibi Naceri
DP: Manuel Teran
Ed: Frederic Thoraval
Mus: Da Octopuss

Cyril Raffaelli (Damien), David Belle (Leito), Larbi Naceri (Taha), Dany Verissimio (Lola), François Chattot (Kruger)

Not a sequel to District 9, in fact, this was released half a decade earlier, though the two films do have a few similarities.
Set in a future where Paris ghettos have become lawless, politically fragile areas, each have become sealed off from the rest of the country. Two men must break into District 13, the most violent of them all, for different reasons. One, to rescue his sister from the drug gang who hold her prisoner and the other, a police officer, to defuse a neutron bomb before it detonates.
Yes, it's a preposterous plot, but for an action film, it exhilarates throughout with stunningly acrobatic parkour stunt work, characters jumping off rooftops and spinning off balconies. At 85 minutes, it's a bite size slice of nonsense.
7/10

"Every killer lives next door to someone."
"Every killer lives next door to someone."
DISTURBIA (15)
D: D.J. Caruso
Paramount (Joe Medjuck, E. Bennett Walsh & Jackie Marcus)
🇺🇸 2007
105 mins

Thriller

W: Christopher Landon & Carl Ellsworth
DP: Rogier Stoffiers
Ed: Jim Page
Mus: Geoff Zanelli

Shia LaBeouf (Kale Brecht), David Morse (Robert Turner), Sarah Boemer (Ashley Carlson), Viola Davis (Det. Parker), Carrie-Anne Moss (Julie Brecht)

Half-arsed Rear Window remake for the MTV generation, starring Shia LaBeouf as a wheelchair-bound teenager who copes with his father's recent death by spying on neighbours & suspecting the chap next door of being a murderer.
The film falls apart in it's final act with an unrealistic, badly executed twist.
In the grand scheme of things, it's not a terrible "remake", but it simply doesn't compare to Hitchcock's suspense masterpiece.
4/10
 
DISTURBING BEHAVIOUR (15)
D: David Nutter
MGM/Village Roadshow/Hoyts/Beacon (Armyan Bernstein & John Shestack)
🇺🇸 1998
84 mins

Science Fiction/Horror

W: Scott Rosenberg
DP: John S. Bartley
Ed: Randy Jon Morgan
Mus: Mark Snow

James Marsden (Steve Clark), Katie Holmes (Rachel Wagner), Nick Stahl (Gavin Strick), Steve Railsback (Officer Cox), Bruce Greenwood (Dr. Edgar Caldicott), William Sadler (Dorian Newberry)

A poorly devised, god-awful cross between Dawson's Creek and The Stepford Wives.
Rebellious kids at a high school find their friends are being turned into prefects by the creepy megalomaniac dean. 
It's all quite ridiculous and seems to only have been made to capitalise on an inexplicable line of dialogue in which a character says "Hey, teacher! Leave them kids alone." (I wish I was making this up).
This film flunks on most levels.
2/10
  
THE DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY (LE SCAPHANDRE ET LE PAPILLON) (12)     
D: Julian Schnabel
Pathé (Kathleen Kennedy & Jon Kilik)
🇫🇷 🇺🇸 2007
111 mins

Drama/Biopic

W: Ronald Harwood [based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby]
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Juliette Welfling
Mus: Paul Centelon

Mathieu Amalric (Jean-Dominique Bauby), Emmanuelle Seigner (Celine Desmoulins), Marie-Josée Croze (Henriette Durand), Anne Consigny (Claude Mendibil), Patrick Chesnais (Dr. Lepage)

Based on one of the best books I've read in recent years, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly is an excellent adaptation of a story that I thought would struggle to make transition to the silver screen. 
It's the story of fashion journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby, who awakens from a coma paralysed from head-to-toe and only able to move his left eyelid. With the help of a speech therapist, he uses his left eye as his only ways of communication and uses this unique method to dictate his biography (the book that this movie is based on)
Brilliantly directed and photographed mostly from a first person perspective, it's a sombre and dramatic story of a man trapped inside a shell, unable to escape.
Fantastic performances from the cast. A classic of French cinema and a beautiful, touching film. Try and read the book first.
9/10
 
"Life, liberty and the pursuit of vengeance."
"Life, liberty and the pursuit of vengeance."
DJANGO UNCHAINED (18)
D: Quentin Tarantino
Columbia/The Weinstein Company/A Band Apart (Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin & Pilar Savone)
🇺🇸 2012
165 mins

Western

W: Quentin Tarantino
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Fred Raksin
PD: J. Michael Riva
Cos: Sharen Davis

Jamie Foxx (Django Freeman), Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz), Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie), Samuel L. Jackson (Stephen), Kerry Washington (Broomhilda Von Shaft), Don Johnson (Big Daddy)

Inglourious Basterds was a return to form for Quentin Tarantino and this surpasses that effort, sitting beside Pulp Fiction as one of his very best films.  A unique twist on classic westerns with Jamie Foxx & Christophe Waltz pairing up as bounty hunters searching for Foxx'a enslaved wife.     
A big deal was made at the time for the supposed gratuitous use of the N-word & excessive violence. Firstly, the violence, like in all Tarantino's films is so OTT in a comic-book style way, it's as comic as it is gruesome. Whilst the N-word clocks up umpteen times, it's a movie about slavery which actually mocks the practice. I seriously can't understand how someone would be offended by this movie.  
Jamie Foxx is bad ass as the title character, but the best performances belong to Leonardo Di Caprio as a sadistic plantation owner and Christophe Waltz as Dr. King Schultz, likewise with his turn in Inglourious Basterds, a scene-stealing performance.
8/10