D: Alfred Hitchcock
Paramount (Alfred Hitchcock)
US 1955
103 mins


W: John Michael Hayes [based on the novel by David Dodge]
DP: Robert Burks
Ed: George Tomasini
Mus: Lyn Murray
PD: Hal Pereira & Joseph MacMillan Johnson
Cos: Edith Head

Cary Grant (John Robie), Grace Kelly (Francis Stevens), Jessie Royce Landis (Mrs. Jessie Stevens), John Williams (H.H. Hughson), Charles Vanel (Bertani), Brigitte Auber (Danielle Foussard)

Cary Grant is at his most suave in this minor Hitchcock caper, in which he plays a retired cat burglar now living on the French Riviera. 
When a spate of jewel robberies occur, he becomes the prime suspect and absconds so he can find the real thief, but things become complicated when he catches the eye of a beautiful socialite (Grace Kelly).
This is clearly the film which Hudson Hawk (qv) attempted and failed to parody and even though Hitchcock himself deems it at as one of his 'lesser works', the entertainment factor alone puts it amongst his finest films.
Robert Burks won an Oscar for his cinematography, and the film also received nominations for Best Art Direction & Best Costume Design.
Simple proof that even Hitchcock in lower gears is better than most filmmakers going full pelt.

"She knew what it took to get to the top. A lot of heart. And a little head."
"She knew what it took to get to the top. A lot of heart. And a little head."
D: Gus Van Sant
Columbia (Laura Ziskin)
US 1995
107 mins


W: Buck Henry [based on the novel by Joyce Maynard]
DP: Eric Alan Edwards
Ed: Curtiss Clayton
Mus: Danny Elfman

Nicole Kidman (Suzanne Stone Maretto), Matt Dillon (Larry Maretto), Joaquin Phoenix (Jimmy Emmett), Casey Affleck (Russell Hines), Ileana Douglas (Janice Maretto), Dan Hedaya (Joe Maretto), Kurtwood Smith (Earl Stone)

Nicole Kidman received huge critical acclaim for her performance as a fame-hungry TV weather girl who feels her career is being impeded by her husband and begins a string of affairs with teenagers who she hopes to manipulate into killing him.
This deft satire did Nicole Kidman's career a huge favour, putting her in the spotlight as a serious performer. It's a clever study of celebrity status for the sake of celebrity status, with grounded direction from Gus Van Sant and a good screenplay from Buck Henry.
Not to be confused with the 1994 British film of a same name.
D: Robert Mulligan
Universal-International (Alan J. Pakula)
US 1962
129 mins


W: Horton Foote [based on the novel by Harper Lee]
DP: Russell Harlan
Ed: Aaron Stell
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
PD: Alexander Golitzen & Henry Bumstead

Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch), Mary Badham (Jean Louise "Scout" Finch), Phillip Alford (Jem Finch), John Megna (Dill Harris), Frank Overton (Sheriff Heck Tate), Robert Duvall (Arthur "Boo" Radley)

A masterpiece from the golden age of cinema when the power of a film was owed to the on-screen drama, great performances, quality of direction and a fantastic screenplay.

The adaptation of Harper Lee's novel tells the story almost entirely from the Finch children's point of view and both young actors portraying Scout & Jem do an excellent job. This is Gregory Peck's movie however, flawless as the embodiment of Southern lawyer Atticus Finch.

Amongst the very best films of the 1960's.

TO LIVE & DIE IN L.A. (18)
D: William Friedkin
MGM-United Artists/New Century/SLM (Irving H. Levin)
US 1985
116 mins


W: William Friedkin & Gerald Petievich [based on the novel by Gerald Petievich]
DP: Robby Muller
Ed: Scott Smith
Mus: Wang Chung

William L. Petersen (Richard Chance), Willem Dafoe (Eric Masters), John Pankow (John Vukovich), Debra Feuer (Bianca Torres), Dean Stockwell (Bob Grimes), John Turturro (Carl Cody), Darlanne Fluegel (Ruth Lanier)

A gritty and cynical thriller about an embittered, arrogant Secret Service agent who wants to put the cuffs on money counterfeiter Willem Dafoe. 

William Friedkin's movie doesn't suffer the formulaic clichés most from this genre fall into and is easily his best crime movie since The French Connection.

A hugely underrated, little seen film from the 1980's.

D: James Clavell
Columbia (James Clavell)
UK 1967
105 mins


W: James Clavell [based on the novel by E. R. Braithwaite]
DP: Paul Beeson
Ed: Peter Thornton
Mus: Ron Grainer

Sidney Poitier (Mark Thackeray), Christian Roberts (Bert Denham), Judy Geeson (Pamela Dare), Suzy Kendall (Gillian Blanchard), Lulu (Barbara Pegg)

A black teacher comes to a tough school in East End London, where he wins over the hearts of the students.
Incredibly dated sentimental drama, mostly memorable for its title song performed by Lulu, as well as providing inspiration to the TV sitcom "Please, Sir".
The plot has also been recycled in various forms for several TV shows, films and stage plays in years since, probably working best in 1988's Stand & Deliver (qv).
D: Yasujiro Ozu
Shochiku/Ofuna (Takeshi Yamamoto)
Japan 1953
134 mins


W: Yasujiro Ozu & Kogo Noda
DP: Yuharu Atsuta
Ed: Yoshiyasu Hamamura
Mus: Takanobu Saito

Chishu Ryu (Shükichi Hirayama), Cheiko Higashiyama (Tomi Hirayama), So Yamamura (Kōichi Hirayama), Kuniko Miyake (Fumiko Hirayama), Haruko Sugimura (Shige Kaneko)

A mainstay on the majority of critics all-time favourites, Tokyo Story isn't a film for mass audiences, nor is it recommended to anyone who is looking for entertainment value. It's a film where not a lot happens, and that's entirely the point.
The low-key, mundane tale sees an elderly couple from the remote Japanese countryside travel to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to visit their grown-up children, who are too busy with their own lives to have any time for their folks.
It's an arthouse focus on a generational gap and culture clash, with an underlying message that human interaction is important, regardless of how much it may lack excitement.
From a filmmaking standpoint, it's clear to see why the film is hailed as a masterpiece, utilising a style which was far from the norm back in 1953, filming shots from a kneeling POV (thus requiring sets with ceilings to be built), as well as characters delivering their lines as they face just off camera, as though it is the audience with whom they are speaking to.  This won't mean a lot to the average moviegoer, which makes this a difficult film to rate.
A classic, it may well be, but you wouldn't watch it twice.

D: Phil Roman
Warner Bros./Turner (Phil Roman)
US 1992
84 mins


W: Dennis Marks [based on characters from the long-running cartoon series]
Mus: Henry Mancini

voices of: Richard Kind (Tom), Dana Hill (Jerry), Anndi McAfee (Robyn Starling), Henry Gibson (Dr. J. Sweetface Applecheek)

A lucklustre feature length episode of the timeless characters from the cartoon shorts of the 1940's and 1950's. 
This could be considered theft of childhood memories, giving the cat and mouse voices and replacing the usual mayhem with sickening sweetness and the raucous fights with friendship as they team up to save a mistreated girl from an evil guardian.         
Completely misconceived banality which is the result of too many Marge Simpson's moaning about the original work promoting cartoon violence. It will probably appeal only to children under 6.
"A legend even in his own time."
"A legend even in his own time."


D: Tony Richardson

United Artists/Woodfall (Tony Richardson)

UK 1963

129 mins


W: John Osborne [based on the novel 'The History Of Tom Jones, A Foundling' by Henry Fielding]

DP: Walter Lassally

Ed: Antony Gibbs

Mus: John Addison

PD: Ralph Brinton

Albert Finney (Tom Jones), Susannah York (Sophie Western), Hugh Griffith (Squire Western), Edith Evans (Miss Western), Joan Greenwood (Lady Bellaston), Diane Cilento (Molly Seagrim), Joyce Redman (Mrs. Waters / Jenny Jones)

Mixing the attitudes of the swinging sixties with the prose of Henry Fielding's 1749 novel, Tom Jones is a far cry from the angry young man / kitchen sink dramas which director Tony Richardson was synonymous with at the turn of the 1960's.

Set in 18th century England, the story concerns the title character, an aristocratic philanderer, and his romancing of Sophie Western, but when Sophie's father, a stuffy lord discovers Tom Jones illegitimacy of noble birth, the young rake travels to find his biological parents and had many bawdy adventures on his odyssey.

It's fair to say that the film was definitely released at the right time, but it really hasn't dated badly, mostly due to the excellent performance of Albert Finney and some very strong supporting performances.

It's worth watching for the banquet seduction scene alone, proof that you don't need nudity for an iconic sex scene.

The film was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning 4, including Best Picture, and a (terrible) sequel was released in the 1970's. 



D: Roar Uthaug

Warner Bros/MGM (Graham King)

US/UK 2018

118 mins


W: Evan Daugherty, Geneva Robertson-Dworet & Alastair Siddons [based on characters created by Crystal Dynamics]

DP: George Richmond

Ed: Stuart Baird & Michael Tronick

Mus: Tom Holkenberg

Alicia Vikander (Lara Croft), Dominic West (Lord Richard Croft), Walton Goggins (Mathias Vogel), Daniel Wu (Lu Ren), Kristin Scott-Thomas (Ana Miller), Derek Jacobi (Mr. Yaffe), Nick Frost (Max)

The general rule of thumb is that video games do not make a good transition to the big screen, and though that may be true, movies based on computer games do make a nice little earner for the studios, so from a business standpoint, it's good sense that these movies will be regularly produced.

The character of Lara Croat already made a big screen bow in 2001, with Angelina Jolie donning the outfit for some action packed adventure and excitement (see Lara Croft: Tomb Raider). The storyline in this reboot takes its inspiration from the 2004 release of the game series, casting Alicia Vikander as a young Lara for more of an origin tale.

Living a working class life following her father's disappearance many years prior, Lara reluctantly signs the inheritance papers to prevent her family mansion being sold off. Discovering a secret lair harbouring her father's more clandestine work, Lara travels to Hong Kong to further investigate his disappearance, eventually arriving at a mysterious island where a group of henchmen are searching for the sarcophagus of Himiko, a mythical queen who is fabled to hold the key to life.

Though the film is reasonably entertaining, it borrows most of its story from other, much better films, while the characters are very one-dimensional and the plot is simply by-the-numbers. Alicia Vikander does look the part as a young Lara Croft, but she's given too little to do in this, with action sequences being few and far between.

It's Raiders Of The Lost Ark with a female protagonist, but nowhere near as good as it could or should be.


"Justice is coming."
"Justice is coming."
D: George Pan Cosmatos
Cinergi (James Jacks, Sean Daniel & Bob Misiorowski)
US 1993
129 mins


W: Kevin Jarre
DP: William A. Fraker
Ed: Frank J. Urioste, Roberto Silvi & Harvey Rosenstock
Mus: Bruce Broughton
PD: Catherine Hardwicke

Kurt Russell (Wyatt Earp), Val Kilmer (Doc Holliday), Sam Elliott (Virgil Earp), Bill Paxton (Morgan Earp), Powers Boothe (Curly Bill), Michael Biehn (Johnny Ringo), Charlton Heston (Henry Hooker)

Lawman Wyatt Earp, plans on retiring in the Old West town of Tombstone, but when his brother is killed by the Clanton Gang, he and Doc Holliday plan their revenge.
Typically Hollywoodised build up to the Gunfight at the OK Corral, done better in films before and even since. Released at a time when westerns had fallen out of favour with cinema audiences, this version was still more successful than Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp (qv), released barely a year later.
D: Gregory Poirer
Columbia Tristar/Revolution/Eagle Cove (Alan Riche, Tony Ludwig & Paul Kurta)
US 2000
95 mins


W: Gregory Poirer
DP: Charles Minsky
Ed: Harry Keramidas
Mus: David Kitay

Jerry O'Connell (Michael Delaney), Shannon Elizabeth (Natalie Parker), Jake Busey (Kyle Brenner), Horatio Sanz (Steve), Jaime Pressly (Tricia)

Vulgar adolescent sex comedy, starring Jerry O'Connell as a deadbeat gambler who needs funds, so hires an old flame to seduce his best friend, so he can collect on a wager they made, which would be won by whomever stays single the longest.
To call this comedy about as funny as testicular cancer just wouldn't be right, since it actually features a "joke" about testicular cancer. Absolutely classless from start to finish, with thoroughly unlikeable, feckless characters played by a cast with zero charisma.
D: Roger Spottiswoode
MGM/United Artists/Eon (Michael Wilson & Barbara Broccoli)
UK/US 1997
119 mins


W: Bruce Feirstein [based on characters created by Ian Fleming]
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Dominique Fortin & Michel Arcand
Mus: David Arnold

Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Jonathan Pryce (Elliot Carver), Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin), Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver), Joe Don Baker (Jack Wade), Ricky Jade (Henry Gupta)

James Bond takes on a powerful media mogul who manipulates the news by creating catastrophic events, ensuring that his newspaper chains are first with the breaking scoop.
1984 meets 007, with the usual gadgets, gimmicks, stunts and beautiful women. Pierce Brosnan doesn't do a bad job as the suave British spy, but the script doesn't really give him enough to go with. Enjoyable enough, but it's no Goldfinger.
D: Brad Bird
Disney (Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof & Jeffrey Chernov)
US 2015
130 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof & Jeff Jensen
DP: Claudio Miranda
Ed: Walter Murch & Craig Wood
Mus: Michael Giacchino

George Clooney (Frank Walker), Britt Robertson (Casey Newton), Raffey Cassidy (Athena), Hugh Laurie (David Nix), Tim McGraw (Eddie Newton)

Recent years have seen Disney produce a few films based on the attractions at Disneyland. This is a concept based on an entire section of the theme park.
Walt Disney himself had a fascination with science, technology and the world of the future, which he envisioned himself with the EPCOT theme park in Florida.
This movie has a fascinating concept, and the majority of the execution has some superb visuals, production design and effects, but the convoluted script needed a lot of ironing out before filming should have begun, especially the opening half hour, which is poorly realised and could have been left on the cutting room floor.
I'll begin with the meat of the story: A rebellious, ambitious teenager, a daughter of a NASA employee, comes into the possession of a magical pin which allows her to see an alternative world of the future. 
With the help of a cyborg child, she tracks down a reclusive inventor, once a resident of the future kingdom, and together they travel to the alternative world so they can save planet Earth.
This is Disney's version of Brave New World or Atlas Shrugged, with a plot which most adults will be tested to follow. It deserves a second viewing in fairness, but it's also fair to say that the more you dissect the story, the less it makes sense.
This isn't a film that everyone will appreciate, and it's easy to see why it bore the brunt of a lot of criticism. There's a lot to like and an equal amount to dislike.
The production design, visual effects and other technical aspects are good, and the (real lead) performance of Britt Robertson is excellent, completely outshining a miscast George Clooney.
Of course, as a Disney film, there'll be lots of product placement, especially for the theme park itself, which is a minor irritant. The biggest irritant is that a very good concept wasn't fleshed properly out to achieve a much better film. It wasn't a flop at the box office, but didn't make much money back either, and it's very understandable why.

D: Sydney Pollack
Columbia (Sydney Pollack & Dick Richards)         
US 1982
116 mins


W: Larry Gelbart & Murray Shisgal
DP: Owen Roizman
Ed: Fredric Steinkamp & William Steinkamp         
Mus: Dave Grusin
PD: Peter Larkin
Cos: Ruth Morley

Dustin Hoffman (Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels), Jessica Lange (Julie), Teri Garr (Sandy), Dabney Coleman (Ron), Charles Durning (Les), Bill Murray (Jeff), Sydney Pollack (George Fields), George Gaynes (John Van Horn), Geena Davis (April)

Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, an unemployed actor, nefariously difficult to direct and told by his dismissive agent that nobody on Broadway or in Hollywood wants to take the risk of working with him.
Desperate for work, he goes to an audition for a daytime soap dressed as woman and is immediately hired by the unknowing directors, later becoming the talk of the town for 'her' sassy performances. Things get even more complicated for Michael when he falls in love with one of his co-stars, but she only knows him as Dorothy Michaels.
This classic 1980's comedy could have gone the other way with it's subject material, resorting to bad taste or easy jokes, but instead is full of great dialogue and characters on a par with the similarly themed Some Like It Hot (qv).
It's well publicised that there were many on-screen spats between Hoffman and director Sydney Pollack, two perfectionists both fighting over how best the vision should be realised. In the end, it all worked out, and whoever got their own way did a brilliant job.
TOP GUN (15)
D: Tony Scott
Paramount (Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer)
US 1986
110 mins


W: Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr.
DP: Jeffrey Kimball
Ed: Billy Weber & Chris Lebenzon
Mus: Harold Faltermeyer

Tom Cruise (Lt. Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell), Kelly McGillis (Charlotte Blackwood), Val Kilmer (Lt. Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky), Anthony Edwards (Goose), Tom Skerritt (Viper)

Top Gun was the biggest box office hit in the summer of 1986 and is still held in fond regard by its vast legion of fans. Still, it's okay to say the film is a bit rubbish, held together by a paper-thin plot about a mercurial jet pilot who think he'll get laid if he starts World War III. 
Tom Cruise plays Maverick (in name and in nature), who is promoted to the top flight school in America where his unorthodox style is scrutinised by a female training expert who ends up falling in love with him. The story flirts with a bit of action involving Russian fighters jets, but this is mostly so the male side of the audience don't realise that this is a love story.
Despite some iconic moments, the film is far too light on any memorable action scenes and is merely a love letter to the US Air Force. It may have some great songs to compliment the on-screen nonsense, but it's not worth sitting through just to listen to the soundtrack. Albeit, despite its many flaws, it rides in the pocket between a utter nonsense and a modern classic. Completely subjetive.
D: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker
Paramount/Kingsmere (Jon Davison & Hunt Lowry)
US 1984
90 mins


W: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker & Martyn Burke
DP: Christopher Challis
Ed: Françoise Bonnot & Bernard Gribble
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: Peter Lamont

Val Kilmer (Nick Rivers), Lucy Gutteridge (Hillary Flammond), Christopher Villiers (Nigel, 'The Torch'), Billy J. Mitchell (Martin), Jeremy Kemp (Gen. Streck)

From the same writer-director trio responsible for Airplane (qv), this follows the same spoof formula and relocates it to Germany where a rock star gets involved in political espionage.
It has a few visual gags which are quite amusing, but it doesn't tickle the rib cage quite like the filmmakers' previous effort.
"They stole his mind. Now he wants it back."
"They stole his mind. Now he wants it back."
D: Paul Verhoeven
Guild/Carolco (Buzz Feitshans & Ronald Shusett)
US 1990
109 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Thriller

W: Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon & Gary Goldman [based on the story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick]
DP: Jost Vacano
Ed: Frank J. Urioste
Mus: Basil Poledouris
PD: William Sandell

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Douglas Quaid), Rachel Ticotin (Melina), Sharon Stone (Lori), Ronny Cox (Cohaagen), Michael Ironside (Richter), Mel Johnson, Jr. (Benny), Marshall Bell (George)

As a concept, Total Recall is one of the most imaginative ever conceived, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, whose works also inspired Blade Runner and many other science fiction films.
The story is a head fuck, which is rather apt considering the plot, but if you're not in the mood for something heavy, just sit back and enjoy the all-out action extravaganza which unfolds.
In a future of interplanetary travel and memory implants, a working class man named Douglas Quaid visits a mind doctor, who convinces him to purchase their five-star package, where he'll receive the memory of travelling to Mars as a spy. What follows is an ambiguous mix of dream and reality, as a group of mobsters give chase and even Quaid's own wife wants to kill him. Once on Mars, Quaid reconnects with a former lover and the two of them uncover a conspiracy involving a corrupt politician and the cost of air.
At a substantial cost (the most expensive ever at the time of production), the visual effects and production design used to bring Mars to the screen are very well presented, though some of the flashier visual effects haven't dated well at all, but with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the driving seat, you know you're in for some thrilling action, even if you don't know what the hell is going on for half of the running time.
D: Len Wiseman
Columbia/Original Film (Neal H. Moritz & Toby Jaffe)
US 2012
118 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill & Kurt Wimmer [based on the story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick]
DP: Paul Cameron
Ed: Christian Wagner
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams

Colin Farrell (Douglas Quaid), Kate Beckinsale (Lori), Jessica Biel (Melina), Bryan Cranston (Cohaagen), Bokeem Woodbine (Harry), Bill Nighy (Matthias)

No Mars, no mutants, no Arnie, what exactly was the point of this remake???
This movie does take the general idea from the original, but so did Liam Neeson vehicle Unknown (qv), released the year prior and that did a better job than this cinematic turd.
The production design is lifted straight from Blade Runner & Minority Report and they completely do away with Richter's character (unforgivable) so Kate Fuckingthedirectorsale can get more screen time.
In all honesty, Arnold Schwarzenegger was never going to win acting awards for the original, but the fact he's replaced in the remake with a wooden Colin Farrell is simply laughable.
The most unforgiving thing is that this movie doesn't even stick to the source material, Philip K. Dick's 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale'.
A complete waste of money, effort and celluloid and most certainly one of the most blasphemous remakes in cinema history.

D: Orson Welles
Universal (Albert Zugsmith)
US 1958
95 mins


W: Orson Welles [based on the novel "Badge Of Evil" by Whit Masterson]
DP: Russell Metty
Ed: Virgil Vogel & Aaron Stell
Mus: Henry Mancini

Charlton Heston (Ramon Miguel Vargas), Orson Welles (Hank Quinlan), Janet Leigh (Susan Vargas), Joseph Calleia (Pete Menzies), Akim Tamiroff (Uncle Joe Grandi)

The plot for Orson Welles' 1958 thriller takes some following, but the atmospheric photography makes it a little easier, starting with a famous one-shot opening sequence which introduces Mexican narcotics detective Ramon "Mike" Vargas (Charlton Heston), who clashes with a local police chief in a border town over a murder.
Though the pacing is very heavy, the pieces of the puzzle all slot into place come the finale. 
Orson Welles' menacing performance is excellent, but Charlton Heston is less convincing as a Mexican cop.
Studio interference re-cut the film in 1958, but it is now available in its original cut and has since gone on to become a cult classic.

"Perfect trip. Perfect trap."
"Perfect trip. Perfect trap."
D: Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck
Columbia/Spyglass/StudioCanal (Graham King, Timothy Headington, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber & Jonathan Glickman)
US 2010
103 mins


W: Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie & Julian Fellowes [based on the 2005 screenplay "Anthony Zimmer" by Jérôme Salle]
DP: John Seale
Ed: Joe Hutshing & Patricia Rommel
Mus: James Newton Howard

Angelina Jolie (Elise Clifton-Ward), Johnny Depp (Frank Tupelo / Alexander Pierce), Paul Bettany (John Acheson), Timothy Dalton (Insp. Jones), Steven Berkoff (Reginald Shaw), Rufus Sewell (Lawrence)

Following the excellent The Lives Of Others, director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck's first English language film is a huge disappointment.

This international thriller opens in France, with Angelina Jolie doing her usual arse wiggle walk she does in any movie which requires her to be a slutty character.  Anyway, it turns out that she's a disgraced British agent. She receives instruction to get a train to Venice and choose a patsy on the journey. She opts the Johnny Depp and lands him in hot water when he's mistaken for an infamous criminal and he ends up on the run from both MI6 and a notorious gangster. 

This movie is ridiculously outdated considering Alfred Hitchcock made this same movie in 1935 and called it The 39 Steps.

The 'twist' ending is so blindingly obvious to anyone with half a brain that this movie is actually quite insulting.


"One tiny spark begins the night of towering suspense."
"One tiny spark begins the night of towering suspense."
D: John Guillermin (& Irwin Allen)
20th Century Fox/Warner Bros (Irwin Allen)
US 1974
165 mins


W: Stirling Silliphant [based on the novels "The Tower" by Richard Martin Stern & "The Glass Inferno" by Thomas M. Scortia & Frank M. Robinson]
DP: Fred Koenecamp & Joseph Biroc
Ed: Harold F. Kress & Carl Kress
Mus: John Williams
PD: William Creber
Cos: Paul Zastupnevich 

Paul Newman (Doug Roberts), Steve McQueen (Michael O'Halloran), William Holden (James Duncan), Faye Dunaway (Susan Franklin), Fred Astaire (Harlee Claiborne), Susan Blakely (Patty Duncan), Richard Chamberlain (Roger Simmons), Robert Vaughn (Sen. Gary Parker), Jennifer Jones (Lisolette Mueller), O.J. Simpson (Harry Jernigan)

In a decade swamped with disaster films, The Towering Inferno was amongst the best, both financially and critically.
Adapted from two books, "The Tower" and "The Glass Inferno", it uses the same stencil as other films from the genre, cramming soap opera storylines, a plethora of characters and a lot of padding into a impending catastrophe, this one being a fire which traps a group of people on the top floor of the world's tallest building while a firefighter and the building's architect hatch a plan to bring everyone down safely.         
A lot of the film has dated by today's standards, but for 1974 the effects and production values do the job that's asked of them. 
D: Ben Affleck
Warner Bros./Legendary (Graham King & Basil Iwanyk)
US 2010
124 mins


W: Ben Affleck, Peter Craig & Aaron Stockard [based on the book "Prince Of Thieves" by Chuck Hogan]
DP: Robert Elswit
Ed: Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams & David Buckley

Ben Affleck (Doug MacRay), Rebecca Hall (Claire Keesey), Jon Hamm (Adam Frawley), Jeremy Renner (Jeremy Coughlin), Blake Lively (Krista Coughlin), Pete Posthelthwaite (Fergus Colm), Chris Cooper (Stephen MacRay)

The Town proves Ben Affleck's talents as a director and screenwriter, as he pairs a talented ensemble cast with a typical heist plot, as a longtime thief in a small Massachusetts town becomes involved in a relationship with a bank manager from one of his previous robberies and must face a decision on whether to continue on his path of criminal activities or settle down into a quieter life, a choice complicated further by an FBI agent's investigation as well as the code of silence not being respected amongst some of his gang's members.
The plot will strike similarities with both Heat (qv) and Mystic River (qv), though it doesn't quite have the magic to make it a memorable piece of cinema. A good watch, with some tremendous performances from several of the cast members, but nowhere near a classic of the crime genre.

D: John Lasseter
Disney/Pixar (Ralph Guggenheim & Bonnie Arnold)
US 1995
80 mins


W: Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alex Sokolow [story by John Lasseter, Joe Ranft & Pete Docter]
Mus: Randy Newman

voices of: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Jim Varney (Slinky Dog), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm), Annie Potts (Bo Peep)

It could be very possible to go on and on about how this is cinema's first fully computer animated feature film and how it broke the mould of animation and visual effects, but the simple fact is that it's the story that makes the film so immersive rather than the technological breakthrough.             
In a world where toys come to life away from human eyes, Woody, a traditional pull-string cowboy doll, the long-time favourite of a small boy and "sheriff of the bedroom", becomes jealous and finds his status under threat when a new arrival, a Space Ranger action figure who doesn't realise that he's a toy, becomes the new flavour of the month.             
Full of imagination, wit and lively vocal performances from Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Toy Story became an instant classic and practically dated all the cel-animated Disney films that preceded it.
It may not feel like an animated film for large segments due to its computer animated style, appealing to adults just as much as children of all ages due to the bright humour, and is amongst the very best of its kind.
D: John Lasseter & Lee Unkrich
Disney/Pixar (Heléne Plotkin & Karen Robert Jackson)
US 1999
92 mins


W: Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsaio, Doug Chamberlin, Chris Webb, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Ash Brannon
Mus: Randy Newman

voices of: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Kelsey Grammer (Stinky Pete), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Jim Varney (Slinky Dog), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm), Wayne Knight (Al McWhiggin)

A sequel every bit as good as the original film, especially in the animation style which had improved massively in the few years between.
Woody, the beloved cowboy doll of a young boy, is stolen by a toy shop owner so he can add it to his rare collection from a short-lived 1950's TV show. 
Buzz Lightyear comes to the rescue with some of the other toys, who hope to free Woody before he's sold to a Japanese museum.
Though some of the novelty from the first film has worn off, the story here is just as much fun, with the perfect balance of humour, sentimentality and adventure, with some clever in-jokes and Star Wars references thrown in for those in the know. It's probably too good for kids, instead appealing more to the adults who are still children at heart, reminiscing on their own beloved childhood toys before outgrowing them.
Strangely, the film was originally planned as a straight to DVD release, but thankfully someone at Disney saw sense enough to release it theatrically, ensuring a big payday for the studio giants.
D: Lee Unkrich
Disney/Pixar (Darla K. Anderson)
US 2010
98 mins


W: Michael Arndt [based on characters created for 'Toy Story' & 'Toy Story 2']
Mus: Randy Newman

voices of: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Ned Beatty (Lotso), Michael Keaton (Ken), Jodi Benson (Barbie), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm), Timothy Dalton (Pricklepants)

The perfect ending (or maybe not) to the Toy Story series, equally as enjoyable as the first two films and rounding off a fantastic animated trilogy.
Andy, the young boy from the first two films, is all grown up and preparing for life in college. Woody and the rest of the toys hope for one last playday but spend most of their time locked in storage and reminiscing about the past, disaster strikes however when they accidentally get donated to a daycare centre where they are mistreated by preschoolers and the building is run at night by despotic teddy bear. 
The film blends the comedy from the first two films with classic prison movies of yesteryear, but it has a dark side to it and the final scenes leave a frog in the throat and a tear in the eye.  You have to hand it to Disney animators nowadays, they sure can make computer animation look as realistic as a live action movie, while the clever screenplay only gives it even greater appeal. It might be a little bit mean to say that the Toy Story trilogy is wasted on the young.
"Laughter is a state of mind."
"Laughter is a state of mind."
D: Barry Levinson
20th Century Fox (Mark Johnson & Barry Levinson)
US 1992
121 mins


W: Barry Levinson & Valerie Curtin
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Stu Linder
Mus: Hans Zimmer & Trevor Horn
PD: Fernando Scarfiotti
Cos: Albert Wolsky

Robin Williams (Leslie Zevo), Michael Gambon (Lt. Gen. Leland Zevo), Joan Cusack (Alsatia Zevo), Robin Wright (Gwen Tyler), LL Cool J (Capt. Patrick Zevo), Donald O'Connor (Kenneth Zevo), Jack Warden (Gen. Zevo)

Despite some inventive visuals and profligate production design, this film offers nothing else.  It's like getting a big, beautifully wrapped present complete with pretty bows and elaborate ribbons on Christmas morning, but when you open it, it's just an empty box.
Robin Williams and Joan Cusack deliver thoroughly annoying performances as two child-like grown ups who have been screwed out of their toymaker dad's will in favour of their military general uncle who wishes to only make war toys with his newly-inherited factory.
The story is both ridiculous and highly tedious, which is a surprise considering it's written and directed by Barry Levinson, whose previous work includes Rain Man and Bugsy. This is simply a white elephant.
D: John Landis
Paramount (Aaron Russo)
US 1983
116 mins


W: Timothy Harris & Herschel Weingrod
DP: Robert Paynter
Ed: Malcolm Campbell
Mus: Elmer Bernstein
PD: Gene Rudolf 
Cos: Deborah Nadoolman

Dan Aykroyd (Louis Winthorpe III), Eddie Murphy (Billy Ray Valentine), Don Ameche (Mortimer Duke), Ralph Bellamy (Randolph Duke), Denholm Elliott (Coleman), Jamie Lee Curtis (Ophelia) Paul Gleeson (Clarence Beeks)

Long before Eddie Murphy developed an ego that outweighed his talent he actually starred in some enjoyably funny comedies. Trading Places is up there amongst his best, both film and performance-wise.
Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) is a street con artist who finds himself behind bars. Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd) is a Harvard educated banker for a big city investment firm. They both have their lives switched by the pair of crotchety, bigoted old men who run Louis' firm for the purposes of their gambling entertainment. The bet is that Valentine wouldn't be able to succeed in the business world and Winthorpe wouldn't cope on the streets without resorting to a life of crime.
The comedy duo are both in their element, shining throughout, and there's an excellent supporting cast on hand to assist, especially Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy, Denholm Elliott & Jamie Lee Curtis, proving she has more to her act than scream queen of slasher movies.
"No one gets away clean."
"No one gets away clean."
D: Steven Soderbergh
USA Films/Initial/Bedford Falls (Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz & Laura Bickford)
US 2000
147 mins


W: Stephen Gaghan [based on the TV series "Traffik" by Simon Moore]
DP: Peter Andrews
Ed: Stephen Mirrione
Mus: Cliff Martinez 

Michael Douglas (Robert Wakefield), Don Cheadle (Montel Gordon), Benicio del Toro (Javier Rodriguez), Luiz Guzman (Ray Castro), Dennis Quaid (Arnie Metzger), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Helena Ayala), Steven Bauer (Carlos Ayala), Benjamin Bratt (Juan Obregón) James Brolin (Gen. Ralph Landry), Erika Christensen (Caroline Wakefield)

An intelligent mix of docudrama and crime thriller, Traffic is a twisted vignette of interlinking stories much in the vein of Short Cuts, Crash, Babel, etc. uncovering the depths of drug running and the people it affects. 
Steven Soderbergh's excellent direction makes the three main stories easier to follow with a unique visual style. The sepia tint in the Mexico sequences may be a bit harsh on the eye but makes the documentary-style footage seem all the more real, following police officer Benicio del Toro torn between his duty and turning a blind eye to the deep-running corruption.
Tinted with cool blue camerawork, Michael Douglas' viewpoint plays like a political drama, with Douglas' Washington senator vowing to stamp down on American drug culture while being unaware that his own daughter is addict.
The third story follows narcotics detective Don Cheadle and his partner investigating drug baron Steven Bauer and his pregnant wife Catherine Zeta-Jones in the Los Angeles suburbs, with double-crossing and hired assassinations on both sides of the fence.
Not only is Soderbergh's direction first rate, it's helped by a clever Stephen Gaghan screenplay (adapted from the Channel 4 television series), superb editing and fantastic performances from Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Cheadle, Erika Christensen and especially Benicio del Toro (who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor).
"Get on board to stay alive."
"Get on board to stay alive."


D: Yeon Sang-Ho

Next Entertainment World/Red Peter (Lee Dong-Ha)

South Korea 2016

118 mins


W: Park Joo-Suk

DP: Lee Hyung-Deok

Ed: Yang Jin-Mo

Mus: Jang Young-Gyu

Gong Yoo (Seok-Woo), Jung Yu-Mi (Syong Kyeong), Kim Su-An (Soo-An), Ma Dong-Seok (Sang-Hwa), Kim Eui-Sung (Yon-Suk)

Train To Busan is a zombie film from South East Asia with unique difference, all the action is set on a public train heading cross-country.

The film is full of bloody gore to keep horror fans biting their nails, but the action set pieces do have a habit of becoming repetitive.

Still, it's a fair sight better than most of the big budget horror flicks churned out by Hollywood over the same year.


"The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed is the cop who will cross it."
"The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed is the cop who will cross it."
D: Antoine Fuqua
Warner/Village Roadshow/NPV/Outlaw (Jeffrey Silver & Bobby Newmyer)
US 2001
122 mins


W: David Ayer
DP: Mauro Fiore
Ed: Conrad Buff
Mus: Mark Mancina

Denzel Washington (Alonzo Harris), Ethan Hawke (Jake Hoyt), Scott Glenn (Roger), Tom Berenger (Stan Gursky), Harris Yulin (Doug Rosselli), Raymond J. Barry (Lou Jacobs), Cliff Curtis (Smiley), Dr. Dre (Paul), Snoop Dogg (Blue)

Much was made of Denzel Washington's performance against type, which saw the actor win a Best Actor Oscar. In fairness, just as much credit is due to Ethan Hawke's supporting performance as rookie detective Jake Hoyt, whose first day as a member of an elite narcotics unit is spent being set up for a fall when if emerges that his superior officer, Detective Alonzo Harris (Washington), is corrupt.
The build up is fraught with tension as well as convincing performances, only to fall short with it's underwhelming ending which sees Harris launch into a foul-mouthed tirade before getting his dues.
Despite it's disappointing finale, it's well worth a watch just to see two great performances.
D: Danny Boyle
Polygram/Channel 4/Figment (Andrew MacDonald)
UK 1996
94 mins


W: John Hodge [based on the novel by Irvine Welsh]
DP: Brian Tufano
Ed: Masahiro Hirakubo

Ewan McGregor (Mark Renton), Ewen Bremner (Spud), Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy), Kevin McKidd (Tommy), Robert Carlyle (Begbie), Kelly MacDonald (Diane), Peter Mullan (Swanney)

Danny Boyle may have got his foot in the door of stardom with his previous effort, Shallow Grave, but his career really launched with Trainspotting, an adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel about a group of Edinburgh heroin addicts who occasionally participate in petty theft, sex, booze and violence whenever they are capable of it. 
The film could be easily summed up by it's main character Mark Renton's "Choose life speech" which accompanies the opening sequence, but it's much more than that. Occasionally surreal, disturbing and even stomach churning, John Hodge's screenplay also has a cruel and cheeky black humour which runs through it.
Ewan McGregor's performance saw his career heading for Hollywood stardom following this film, even though the most memorable character by far is Begbie, a total psychopath with no redeeming qualities (played with relish by Robert Carlyle).
The subject was a hot topic upon it's release, not for it's sensationalisation of drug culture or for making a degenerate character into a sharp-witted protagonist, but more so for proving that sometimes it's quite possible to make something worthwhile from an "unfilmable" novel.
It certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but not many can deny it is amongst the best and most powerful British films of the entire decade.


D: Danny Boyle

Tristar/Film4/Creative Scotland/Cloud Eight/DNA (Andrew MacDonald, Christian Colson, Danny Boyle & Bernard Bellew)

UK 2017

117 mins


W: John Hodge [based on characters created by Irvine Welsh]

DP: Anthony Dod Mantle

Ed: Jon Harris

Ewan McGregor (Mark Renton), Ewen Bremner (Daniel 'Spud' Murphy), Jonny Lee Miller (Simon 'Sick Boy' Williamson), Robert Carlyle (Francis Begbie), Kelly MacDonald (Diane Coulston)

No British film quite captured the 1990's quite like Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, released in 1996 to great success and garnering a massive cult following despite its edgy material. This sequel uses material from Irvine Welsh's novel that didn't make it into the original film, as well as snippets from the novel Porno, the author's own sequel to his work.

20 years on from events in the original film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns home to Scotland to face the music after robbing his friends of a cut of £16,000. 

Spud is still addicted to heroin, while Sick Boy spends his days snorting cocaine and blackmailing rich businessmen. Begbie, having just escaped from prison, is looking out most for revenge having been double-crossed by Renton.

Although it's good to see the characters back, this sequel doesn't have the same magic as the first film and the story is rather aimless. 

It has its moments which will make you laugh, feel disgust, and perhaps a mix of both, but it really isn't anywhere near as good as the 1996 film.

Director Danny Boyle titled the film 'T2: Trainspotting' for the cinema release, just to annoy James Cameron.


"We all know one."
"We all know one."
D: Judd Apatow
Universal (Judd Apatow & Barry Mendel)
US 2015
124 mins


W: Amy Schumer
DP: Jody Lee Lipes
Ed: William Kerr & Paul Zucker
Mus: Jon Brion

Amy Schumer (Amy Townsend), Bill Hader (Dr. Aaron Conners), Brie Larson (Kim Townsend), Colin Quinn (Gordon Townsend), John Cena (Steven), Ezra Miller (Donald), Tilda Swinton (Dianna)

Well, at least the title is rather apt.
Amy Schumer launched her career off the back of sexually liberal comedy sketches and makes her leap to the big screen here as a hard-drinking, pot-smoking, sexually promiscuous journalist who couldn't give a shit about sport but ends up writing an article about it anyway and is assigned to interview a sports doctor because Tilda Swinton's bitchy editor demands for it.
Unfortunately, Schumer's character is so repugnant in the opening moments that it becomes immaterial whether or not she redeems her behaviour in the closing stages.
It's sorry to say that the Judd Apatow comedy well has run dry if this is all he has left. Party girls will enjoy it, but there's not much comedy for anyone else.

D: Charles Band
Empire Pictures (Charles Band)
US 1985
85 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Paul de Meo & Danny Bilson
DP: Mac Ahlberg
Ed: Ted Nicolaou
Mus: Mark Ryder & Phil Davies

Tim Thomerson (Jack Deth), Helen Hunt (Leena), Michael Stefani (Martin Whistler), Art LaFleur (McNulty), Telma Hopkins (Ruth Raines), Richard Herd (Spencer)

An ultra low budget mishmash of the plotlines from Blade Runner & The Terminator. 

Tim Thomerson plays Jack Deth, a bounty hunter in the future who hunts Trancers, zombie-like creatures whose minds are controlled by bad guy Whistler.  Jack is sent back to the 1980's to hunt the ringleader and save the day, all with assistance from a very young and beautiful Helen Hunt.

It's not a bad movie, but it's not very good either. Just a poor man's Blade Runner (qv).

A string of poor sequels followed.

"Beyond good. Beyond evil. Beyond your wildest imagination."
"Beyond good. Beyond evil. Beyond your wildest imagination."
D: Nelson Shin
Hasbro Marvel/Sunbow/Toei (Joe Bacal & Tom Griffith)
US/Japan 1986
84 mins


W: Ron Freidman [based on characters created by Hasbro]
Mus: Vince DiCola

voices of: Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Judd Nelson (Hot Rod / Rodimus Prime), Robert Stack (Ultra Magnus), Frank Walker (Megatron / various characters), Leonard Nimoy (Galvatron), Orson Welles (Unicron)

Though the rudimentary standard of animation causes a strain on the eye, this cartoon feature is a great follow-on from the popular series, with a story that caters for the fans in abundance.
The battle rages on between Autobots and Decepticons, causing the mantle to pass from Optimus Prime as the leader of the good guys. Chief baddie Megatron also finds himself deceived by one of his own, but reincarnated as Galvatron, he and a seemingly indestructible devourer of planets wreak havoc across the galaxy.
It was quite a bold move for the filmmakers to kill off two of the series' most popular characters, although cynics might think this is more to launch a new line of action figure toys rather than propel the story forward.
It's probably for fans only, though film buffs would note the film as Orson Welles' final screen credit as the voice of Unicron.
D: Michael Bay
Paramount/Dreamworks/Hasbro (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy & Ian Bryce)
US 2007
143 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman [based on characters created by Hasbro]
DP: Mitchell Amundsen
Ed: Paul Rubell, Glen Scantlebury & Thomas Muldoon
Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Tyrese Gibson (Sgt. Robert Epps), Josh Duhamel (Capt. William Lennox), Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes), John Turturro (Agt. Seymour Simmons), Jon Voight (John Keller), Rachael Taylor (Maggie Madsen), Anthony Anderson (Glen Whitmann)

We wait two decades for a Transformers movie and this is what Michael Bay gives us, one pyrotechnic migraine.
The story, or lack of, concerns Shia LaFuckingBeouf trying to sell his grandfather's glasses on eBay because he is a dickhead. He also tries to moisten the knickers of the sluttiest girl in school, but has trouble getting her head out of her arse.
His luck changes when he buys a robot disguised as a car, sent to Earth to locate the whereabouts of a magical cube which is in the possession of the US government. Baddie robots are also after this magical cube and trying to find their leader, Megatron, who crash landed on Earth many years ago. The story is a load of bollocks to be fair. 
The story also squeezes in some subplots going on in the Iraq war and a group of MIT students trying to decipher a code. Yawn.
In Michael Bay's universe, the USA is the only country in any peril, time zones do not exist and every black character seems to be a relative from The Cosby Show.
The only thing the movie delivers is in the visual effects department and even the CGI goes way too far. Why the hell would a robot need moving lips? The high octane action scenes move so frenetically, you're not able to focus on anything and the movie carries no emotional weight at all, so when the demise of one of the hero robots does come, it's met less with a shock and more with a "meh".
This will probably be an unpopular choice on a 'most disappointing films of all time list', but one simply cannot forgive this movies shortcomings or the directors ridiculously monstrous ego.
After a 20 year wait for this movie, we deserved more & we deserved better.
D: Michael Bay
Paramount/Dreamworks/Hasbro (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy & Ian Bryce)
US 2009
150 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman [based on characters created by Hasbro]
DP: Ben Seresin
Ed: Paul Rubell, Joel Negron, Roger Barton & Thomas Muldoon
Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes), Josh Duhamel (Maj. William Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (Sgt. Robert Epps), John Turturro (Seymour Simmons), Kevin Dunn (Ron Witwicky), Julie White (Judith Witwicky)
Following on from the events in the first movie with the Autobots & Decepticons still at loggerheads. This time, the Transformers talk street lingo because Michael Bay is a wanker who wants to appease his brain dead MTV audience rather than fans of the original cartoons.
In the 1986 animated film, a major character dies and it carries great emotional weight. A major character also dies in this movie but the audience is too distracted by the relentless explosions to give a shit.
Shia LaDouche is his usual annoying self, a character you couldn't care less about and I actually wanted him to be torn apart by Megatron. Megan Fox swans around like her farts don't stink and the first hour of the movie is all about the most unrealistic romantic partnership in cinema history at a crux because Shia won't tell Megan that he loves her before he goes to university so instead he buys her a webcam for no particular reason (product placement).
Also starring McDonald's, Burger King, several automobile companies and anything else which paid for the profligate, overstated visual effects.
It's unfortunate that money talks in Hollywood, and had the first film not made a wad of cash, this sequel wouldn't have even made it past the script development stage. In fact, it feels like it hadn't, and no amount of pyrotechnic explosions and expensive visual effects can substitute for an interesting story with characters you can root for. 
The worst of the bunch. 
D: Michael Bay
Paramount (Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy & Ian Bryce)
US 2011
154 mins

Action/Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Ehren Kruger [based on characters created by Hasbro]
DP: Amir Mokri
Ed: Joel Negron, Roger Barton & William Goldenberg
Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Josh Duhamel (Col. William Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (Sgt. Robert Epps), Rosie Huntingdon-Whitley (Carly Spencer), John Turturro (Seymour Simmons), Patrick Dempsey (Dylan Gould), John Malkovich (Bruce Brazos), Frances McDormand (Charlotte Mearing), Ken Jeong (Jerry Wang)

Michael Bay has proved with the first two that he can't make a Transformers movie worthy of what the excellent cartoon series deserved and this third installment follows the same formula... High octane action sequences (only this time in dizzying, semi-focused post-converted 3D), Shia LaBeouf acts like a twat whilst vying for the attention of some tart with blowjob lips and limited acting capability, more irritating incidental characters are introduced for no reason (take a bow John Malkovich & Frances McDormand) and the storyline tries to throw in a milestone of World History, this time the 1969 moon landing as well as an American Landmark being destroyed for shits & giggles (Lincoln Memorial here).

All of this takes place on planet Michael Bay where all the laws of physics are ignored, there are no such thing as timezones and no good character with a surname can die.

We should've known better really from what was delivered in the first two films, and we only have ourselves to blame for spending our hard-earned money watching this poor excuse for a summer blockbuster and, in turn, Michael Bay and the studio executives will continue to churn out these films on an assembly line not too dissimilar to the action figures themselves. Once again Hollywood sells out.

A terrible film, but the Burger King chicken nuggets which were marketed as a tie-in promotion were quite tasty, and what they transformed into are a good metaphor for the standard here.

"This is not war. It's extinction."
"This is not war. It's extinction."
D: Michael Bay
Paramount (Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Boneventura & Ian Bryce)
US/China 2014
165 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Ehren Kruger [based on characters created by Hasbro]
DP: Amir Mokri
Ed: William Goldenberg, Roger Barton & Paul Rubell
Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Mark Wahlberg (Cade Yeager), Stanley Tucci (Joshua Joyce), Kelsey Grammer (Harold Attinger), Nicola Peltz (Tessa Yeager), Jack Reynor (Shane Dyson), Bingbing Li (Su Yueming), T.J. Miller (Lucas)

The original cast may have cut & run, but this won't stop Michael Bay from churning out movie after movie and making as much money as possible from this franchise, it's working too, but it's almost impossible to fathom why.
Mark Wahlberg becomes the focal character in this fourth film of the series, a scrap-collector who comes into the possession of an Autobot and finds himself a target from both the US government and the Decepticons, while an unscrupulous businessman hopes to use the alien technology for his own means.
That's about as much story as you get before an endless barrage of explosions and visual effects which flood the eyes and disengage the brain.
The worst thing about the film is that it grossed over $1 billion, so a fourth sequel will inevitably be in the works.

"Two worlds collide. One survives."
"Two worlds collide. One survives."


D: Michael Bay

Paramount/Hasbro/Angry Films (Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura & Ian Bryce)

US 2017

154 mins

Science Fiction/Action

W: Akiva Goldsman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway & Ken Nolan [based on characters created by Hasbro]

DP: Jonathan Adela

Ed: Mark Sanger, John Refoua, Adam Gerstel, Debra Neil-Fisher, Roger Barton & Calvin Wimmer

Mus: Steve Jablonsky

Mark Wahlberg (Cade Yeager), Josh Duhamel (Col. William Lennox), Stanley Tucci (Merlin), Anthony Hopkins (Sir Edmund Burton), Laura Haddock (Viviane Wembly), Isabella Moner (Isabella), John Turturro (Seymour Simmons)

The fifth (and worst) of the Transformers movies could quite possibly be the worst movie to be released in 2017 (subject to opinion).

With the Earth licking its wounds from the war in the previous films, all Transformers are banned from the planet, but the war between Autobots and Decepticons rages on, and the only way to prevent the Earth from total destruction lies in Arthurian legend.

The plot is a completely garbled mess, opening with a scene involving transformers in England's dark ages with a drunken Merlin summoning his powers from one of the giant robots.

It's probably best that the viewer gets this drunk too, in order to enjoy the rest of the film (or fall asleep. Whatever comes first). The rest of the film is just a mess, which Michael Bay may well understand, but the rest of us are doomed.


D: Byron Haskin
RKO/Disney (Perce Pearce)
UK 1950
96 mins


W: Lawrence Edward Watkins [based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson]
DP: Fred A. Young
Ed: Alan Jaggs
Mus: Clifton Parker
PD: Tom Morahan

Robert Newton (Long John Silver), Bobby Driscoll (Jim Hawkins), Walter Fitzgerald (Squire Trelawney), Basil Sydney (Capt. Smollett), Denis O'Dea (Dr. Livesey), Geoffrey Wilkinson (Ben Gunn)

Disney's version of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel of a stowaway stuck abroad a ship of swashbuckling pirates on a quest for booty, filmed in the UK to make use of profits which couldn't be transferred to stateside due to tax reasons.
It's about as good a production as what could have been made at the time, and considering the film is over 60 years old, it holds up quite well.
Bobby Driscoll, as the only American in the cast, feels quite out of place as Jim Hawkins, but Robert Newton makes up for it with his iconic performance as Long John Silver, complete with an "Aarrgh!" which has long since become a recurrent stereotype of pirate lingo.


D: John Huston

Warner Bros (Henry Blanke)

US 1948

126 mins


W: John Huston [based on the novel by B. Traven]

DP: Ted McCord

Ed: Owen Marks

Mus: Max Steiner

Humphrey Bogart (Fred C. Dobbs), Walter Huston (Howard), Tim Holt (Bob Curtin), Bruce Bennett (James Cody), Barton MacLane (Pat McCormick)

Highly acclaimed and often imitated, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre is a western adventure starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston & Tim Holt as three gold prospectors on a dangerous expedition in the Mexican outland, plagued by violent bandits.

A classic of its time, the film has dated quite well in many respects, with some of the quotes still referenced in pop culture. Walter Huston steals the movie as a veteran prospector and deservedly won an Oscar for his performance. John Huston also won Oscars for both directing and writing the movie, which was one of the first Hollywood studio films to shoot outside of the United States.



D: Elia Kazan 

20th Century Fox (Louis D. Lighton)

US 1945

128 mins


W: Tess Slesinger & Frank Davis [based on the novel by Betty Smith]

DP: Leon Shamroy

Ed: Dorothy Spencer

Mus: Alfred Newman

Dorothy McGuire (Katie Nolan), Joan Blondell (Aunt Sissy), James Dunn (Johnny Nolan), Lloyd Nolan (McShane), Peggy Ann Garner (Francie Nolan), Ted Donaldson (Neeley Nolan)

Elia Kazan's first directorial assignment was bringing Betty Smith's best-selling novel to the screen. 

The story follows a family living in Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century, with matriarchal figure Katie Nolan struggling to save every penny, while the father of the family, Johnny uncontrollably spends it all on alcohol. 

The film is blessed with a collection of excellent performances, particularly Peggy Ann Garner as Francie, the young daughter of the family, and James Dunn, who won a supporting actor Oscar for his work.

The superb detail put into the production is so fine, you'd be forgiven for not realising it was a studio-bound production.

It's a little overlong, and a little old-fashioned, but is still a fine example of a 1940's family melodrama.


D: Terrence Malick
Fox Searchlight/River Road (Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner & Grant Hill)
US 2011
139 mins


W: Terrence Malick 
DP: Emmanuel Lubezki
Ed: Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber & Mark Yoshikawa
Mus: Alexandre Desplat

Sean Penn (Jack O'Brien), Brad Pitt (Mr. O'Brien), Jessica Chastain (Mrs. O'Brien)

For aficionados of arthouse movies only.

Director/Writer/Producer Terrence Malick abandons a conventional narrative and goes for a visual poetry on life, the universe and everything.  The little story it does have revolves around a suburban family, where the mother lives her life by a spiritual code whereas the father teaches the children that if they want something, they must earn it. It's all rather cryptic though, as the story is mostly told without dialogue, rather with beautifully captured imagery.

The visuals are capitivating, including a "creation of the universe" scene akin to the space ballet from 2001: A Space Odyssey (qv), but aside from moments like this the movie is overlong, rather pretentious and a criminal waste of Sean Penn.


D: Ron Underwood
Universal/No Frills (Brent Maddock & S. S. Wilson)
US 1990
96 mins

Science Fiction/Horror/Comedy

W: S. S. Wilson, Brent Maddock & Ron Underwood
DP: Alexander Gruszynski 
Ed: O. Nicholas Brown
Mus: Ernest Troost

Kevin Bacon (Valentine McKee), Fred Ward (Earl Bassett), Finn Carter (Rhonda LeBeck), Michael Gross (Burt Gummer), Reba McIntyre (Heather Gummer)

Tremors is more than just a throwback to B-movies of the 1950's, it's a B-movie for a brand new generation. It's exactly the sort of film you'd pull into a drive-in for; a creature feature with a cheesy script and shoddy effects, but so much fun you can forgive every bit of its tackiness.
In Perfection, a small town in the Arizona desert, the population are terrorised by a species of subterranean worm-like monsters who pull people beneath the ground to feast upon. A pair of odd job men hatch a survival plan, with the assistance of a female geologist and a gun-obsessed husband and wife duo.
Despite the visual effects failing to convince, everything else here, for a low-budget production, is bang on the money.
"The worms have turned."
"The worms have turned."
D: S. S. Wilson
Universal/MCA/Stampede (Nancy Roberts & Christopher de Faria)
US 1995
90 mins

Science Fiction/Horror/Comedy

W: Brent Maddock & S. S. Wilson
DP: Virgil Harper
Ed: Bob Ducsay
Mus: Jay Ferguson

Fred Ward (Earl Bassett), Christopher Gartin (Grady Hoover), Helen Shaver (Kate Reilly), Michael Gross (Burt Gummer)

More a Jurassic Park spin-off than a sequel to the original film, with the worm-like monster evolving into carnivorous, blind dinosaur-like creatures.
It's still reasonably entertaining due to the enthusiasm of the cast, with Fred Ward and Michael Gross reprising their roles from the predecessor and Christopher Gartin doing his very best to ensure that Kevin Bacon's character isn't missed too much.
"When terror is at your doorstep, you can run or you can fight."
"When terror is at your doorstep, you can run or you can fight."
D: Joel Schumacher
Millennium/Saturn/Nu Image (Rene Besson, Irwin Winkler & David Winkler)
US 2011
90 mins


W: Karl Gajdusek 
DP: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Ed: Bill Pankow
Mus: David Buckley

Nicolas Cage (Kyle Miller), Nicole Kidman (Sarah Miller), Liana Liberto (Avery Miller), Cam Gigandet (Jonah), Ben Mendelsohn (Elias), Jordana Spiro (Petal), Dash Mihok (Ty)

Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman star in this home invasion thriller, laced with an undercurrent of deception and betrayal.
Aside from a freak out performance from Nicolas Cage which is unintentionally hilarious, the other performances are way below par.
It says it all about the quality of this film, when it was pulled from its theatrical run after only 10 days to be put into DVD distribution just 18 days later.

"The code on the street is never black and white."
"The code on the street is never black and white."
TRIPLE 9 (15)
D: John Hillcoat
Open Road/Worldview/Anonymous Content/Sierra/MadRiver/Surefire (Keith Redmon, Brad Dorros, Mark Butan, Anthony Katagas, Christopher Woodrow & John Hillcoat)
US 2016
115 mins


W: Matt Cook
DP: Nicolas Karakatanis
Ed: Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Atticus Ross

Casey Affleck (Chris Allen), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Michael Atwood), Woody Harrelson (Sgt. Jeffrey Allen), Anthony Mackie (Marcus Belmont), Kate Winslet (Irina Vlaslov), Aaron Paul (Gabe Welch), Norman Reedus (Russell Welch), Gal Gadot (Elena Vaslov), Teresa Palmer (Michelle Allen)

Triple 9 has shades of Heat, The Usual Suspects & The Departed about it, but doesn't quite match the potential of those movies, considered in the higher echelon of cops & robber movies.
A group of corrupt cops who carry out heists for the Russian mafia are blackmailed into carrying out one final job, which seems impossible unless it coincides with a triple 9 radio call (the code for a police officer down). The group nominate the newcomer to their department, their sergeant's own nephew Chris Allen, but some of the group have their own emotional conflict carrying out the plan.
This crime thriller starts promisingly, with a successful bank heist which almost becomes a bungled one, and for the most part, it cranks up the tension realistically. There's a lot of characters jam-packed into the screenplay though, and some are relegated to one-dimensional supporting characters rather than studied in any depth. The biggest crime of all is how underused some of the actors are, particularly Woody Harrelson, and Kate Winslet is particularly miscast as the main Russian gangster. Casey Affleck & Anthony Mackie deliver the best performances, but even their story thread feels like a sideshow with so much else going on.

TROLL (15)
D: John Carl Buechler
Empire Films (Albert Band)
US 1986
86 mins


W: Ed Naha
DP: Romano Albani
Ed: Lee Percy
Mus: Richard Band

Michael Moriarty (Harry Potter), Shelley Hack (Anne Potter), Noah Hathaway (Harry Potter, Jr.), Jenny Beck (Wendy Anne Potter), Sonny Bono (Peter Dickinson), June Lockhart (Eunice St. Clair), Phil Fondacaro (Malcolm Malory / Torok)

Albert Band's productions were never blessed with a generous budget or decent script, but his Empire Films label still managed to churn out a decent number of schlock horrors during the mid-1980's to cash-in on the VHS market. The standard of films were quite poor, and the same has to be said of Troll, a film which is only notable for featuring a character named Harry Potter and for a sequel which had nothing to do with the first film.
In a nutshell, the story sees a troll disguise himself as a young girl so he can create havoc around an apartment complex, killing its residents so that their cadavers can evolve into forests. It sounds worse than it actually is, but it's still tacky garbage with some truly awful visual effects.
Still, the quality on display here is still much better than the 'sequel', which is often dubbed the "best worst film ever made".
"One was not enough."
"One was not enough."
TROLL 2 (15)
D: Drake Floyd (Claudio Fragasso)
MGM/Epic/Filmirage (Brenda Norris & Joe D'Amato)
Italy/US 1990
94 mins


W: Drake Floyd (Claudio Fragasso)
DP: Giancarlo Ferrando
Ed: Vania Friends
Mus: Carlo Maria Cordio

Michael Stephenson (Joshua Waits), George Hardy (Michael Waits), Margo Prey (Diana Waits), Connie MacFarland (Holly Waits), Deborah Reed (Creedence Lenore Gielgud)

Notoriously known as one of the worst films ever, it leaves no stone of badness unturned in all aspects of its production. It actually looks as though it was filmed on a budget of $10 or less, using a cast of amateur actors who were given leading roles despite believing they were only auditioning as extras and bit-parts.
It has nothing to do with the original Troll movie from 1986, it doesn't even feature any trolls in it. The movie was originally called Goblins, but they changed the name hoping it would bring more success (even though the 1986 film Troll wasn't a hit!).
The plot follows a suburban family of hideously awful actors and their vacation to the small rural town of Nilbog (see what they did there?) where the town's populace wants to eat the family, but must first turn them into a chlorophyll-like substance. 
Only Josh, the young son of the family, and the ghost of his dead grandfather know the town secret, but can Josh convince his parents and older sister of the truth?
This movie is unintentionally hilarious, especially the bits which are supposed to be scary, the 'clever' parts are just stupid and the pacing is ridiculous- rushing through parts which could have used more time (like the ending) and dragging through parts which should have been quick (driving, shopping trips, etc). The rest of the movie is mostly strange.
The director is adamant that this movie is a masterpiece and while that's true in the respect of belonging in a bad movie museum, the quality in all departments of filmmaking lack even amateur standard.
Ironically, I would still recommend this as a watch over most modern Horror movies, but not for shocks or terror, just mouth agape astonishment or bawl-your-eyes-out laughter.
It's one of two films on this website (the other being 2003's The Room) which can't be rated out of 10 simply for its sheer awfulness vs entertainment ratio. A bad movie, but probably the best bad movie ever.

D: André Øvredal
SF Norge (John M. Jacobsen & Sveinung Golimo)
Norway 2010 
103 mins


W: André Øvredal
DP: Hallvard Bræin
Ed: Per-Erik Eriksen

Otto Jespersen (Hans), Hans Morten Hansen (Finn), Tomas Alf Larsen (Kalle), Johanna Mørck (Johanna)

The 'found footage' subgenre finds its way to World Cinema for this Norwegian dark fantasy.
A group of film students plan to make a documentary about a man they suspect is a bear poacher, but they soon discover that what he really hunts are trolls, giant creatures that live in the remote woods.
The troll species range from docile to mean and deadly, and the hunter, Hans, is hoping to find the biggest one of them all in a glacier-filled mountains. 
A plot device involving the Norwegian governments complicit knowledge of the troll-hunting activities briefly takes the story in a different direction before it gets back on track.
Though found footage, mockumentary style films have become rather stale and formulaic in recent years, director-writer Andre Øvredal puts a fresh new spin on it by tying it into his country's centuries-old folklore. The visual effects are little less quality than you'd expect from a Hollywood production, but on the whole aren't too bad, though those which appear in the finale are rather underwhelming.

D: Lloyd Kaufman
Starlight/Troma (Michael Herz & Lloyd Kaufman)
US 1996
107 mins


W: James Gunn & Lloyd Kaufman [based on "Romeo & Juliet" by William Shakespeare]
DP: Brendan Flynt
Ed: Frank Reynolds
Mus: Willie Wisely

Jane Jensen (Juliet Capulet), Will Keenan (Tromeo Que), Valentine Miele (Murray Martini), Maximilian Shaun (Cappy), Earl McCoy (Monty Que), Lemmy (Narrator)

Tromeo & Juliet is a bizarre experiment of filmmaking which seems to blend The Toxic Avenger with William Shakespeare's much-adored love tragedy, narrated by Lemmy from rock band Motörhead and set amongst the New York punk scene.  Albeit loosely based on the Bard's literary classic, the plot does follow the same narrative of star-crossed lovers who are kept apart due to being members of rival gangs, which ultimately spells their own demise at their own hands.
You really need to be a fan of Troma productions to get any enjoyment from the film, else you're likely to think it's just cheap and nasty (which is mostly the entire point of Troma productions). 
"A world inside the computer where man has never been. Never before now."
"A world inside the computer where man has never been. Never before now."
D: Steven Lisburger
Disney (Donald Kushner)
US 1982
96 mins

Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Steven Lisburger
DP: Bruce Logan
Mus: Michael Femer
PD: Dean Edward Mintzer
Cos: Rosanna Norton & Elois Janssen

Jeff Bridges (Kevin Flynn), Bruce Boxleitner (Alan Bradley), David Warner (Ed Dillinger), Barnard Hughes (Dr. Walter Gibbs), Cindy Morgan (Dr. Lora Baines)

A computer game designer becomes trapped in the games that he created.
At the time of production, the concept behind Tron was hugely groundbreaking, and the production itself attempted to match it, both aesthetically with its style and visual effects, to mixed reception. 
In 1982, the computer generated effects on show were a new dawn of filmmaking and marvel to behold. Watching now, they're rather painful on the eye. The film still has some iconic set pieces, including the light cycle chase and other various games which the programmer must play to the death, but aside from these moments it has dated very poorly. It's not a bad film, but it's very much a product of its time and modern eyes simply find it difficult to look back on favourably.
D: Joseph Kosinski
Disney (Sean Bailey, Jeffrey Silver & Steven Lisburger)
US 2010
127 mins

Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz [based on characters created by Steven Lisburger]         
DP: Claudio Miranda
Ed: James Haygood
Mus: Daft Punk

Jeff Bridges (Kevin Flynn), Garrett Hedlund (Sam Flynn),  Olivia Wilde (Quorra), Bruce Boxleitner (Alan Bradley), Michael Sheen (Zuse / Castor)

The original Tron, with its dated computer generated effects, was in dire need of a makeover when this sequel surfaced in 2010.
In fairness, it's more of a remake than a sequel, recycling all the plot devices from the first film for a new generation of audience members. The visual effects on show are much better here, with energetic music provided by Daft Punk. There's no real improvement on the story though, meaning disappointment for those who were fans of the original film. It falls between two stools of being not original enough to stand on its own two feet and appealing only to those who have seen the incredibly dated 1982 film.
"Get some"
"Get some"
D: Ben Stiller
Dreamworks/Red Hour (Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller & Eric McLeod)
US/UK/Germany 2008
102 mins


W: Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller & Etan Cohen
DP: John Toll
Ed: Greg Hayden
Mus: Theodore Shapiro

Ben Stiller (Tugg Speedman), Jack Black (Jeff Portnoy), Robert Downey, Jr. (Kirk Lazarus), Steve Coogan (Damien Cockburn), Jay Baruchel (Kevin Sandusky), Danny McBride (Cody Underwood), Nick Nolte (Sgt. John 'Four Leaf' Tayback), Brandon T. Jackson (Alpa Chino), Matthew McConaughey (Rick Peck), Tom Cruise (Les Grossman)

Tropic Thunder is a bit of a mess, mostly due to cramming in far too many comedy styles which don't compliment each other. 
The film begins as a satire on Hollywood whilst parodying the troubled real-life production of Apocalypse Now, as Tropic Thunder, a film within the film, runs behind schedule, over budget, with an inexperienced director (Coogan) struggling to handle the big egos in his cast (Stiller, Black, Downey, Jr.).
The funniest moments come in the opening scenes, but soon descends into farce when the cast are left stranded deep in the jungle, where they're convinced it's all part of the director's filmmaking style, when they're really facing genuine peril from a guerrilla drug gang.
For many, Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance made the film, playing an Auatralian luvvy who dyes his skin pigment so he can play a black army sergeant with the same attitude as Mr. T's character from TV's The A-Team.
The real scene-stealer here though is Tom Cruise's virtually unrecognisable cameo as foul-mouthed and grotesquely abusive film producer, Les Grossman.
Enjoyable, but less than the sum of all its parts.
D: John Paddy Carstairs
GFD/Two Cities (Maurice Cowan)
UK 1953
85 mins


W: John Paddy Carstairs, Maurice Cowan & Ted Willis
DP: Ernest Steward
Ed: Geoffrey Foot & Peter Seabourne
Mus: Mischa Spoliansky

Norman Wisdom (Norman), Jerry Desmonde (Augustus Freeman), Margaret Rutherford (Miss Bacon), Moira Lister (Peggy Drew), Derek Bond (Gerald), Lana Morris (Sally Wilson), Joan Sims (Edna)

The first, and still best, of Norman Wisdom's slapstick features, starring the comedian as a slapdash department store assistant who causes chaos on the job.
Norman Wisdom, not only follows in the footsteps of comedy greats Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy, he stands beside them, with a unique act that impersonators attempt to ape, but will never be able to better.


D: Alfred Hitchcock

Paramount (Alfred Hitchcock)

US 1955

99 mins


W: John Michael Hayes [based on the novel by Jack Trevor Story]

DP: Robert Burks

Ed: Alma McCrorie

Mus: Bernard Herrmann

Edmund Gwenn (Capt. Albert Wiles), John Forsythe (Sam Marlowe), Shirley MacLaine (Jennifer Rogers), Mildred Natwick (Ivy Gravely), Mildred Dunnock (Mrs. Wiggs), Jerry Mathers (Arnie Rogers)

Alfred Hitchcock turns his hand to black comedy for this shaggy dog story / murder mystery, a corpse providing the McGuffin as various characters discover it and can't decide between themselves the best course of action concerning the dead body and each of them being potentially responsible for a murder as their secrets unfurl.

A small film for Hitchcock, who used a lesser known cast as an experiment to see if a film could be successful without a big name on the bill (the answer was moderately).

It's a fun film for its age, but it could have been quite awful if it wasn't for the Master Of Suspense at the helm.


TROY (15)
D: Wolfgang Petersen
Warner Bros. (Wolfgang Petersen, Diana Rathbun & Colin Wilson)
US/UK/Malta 2004
163 mins


W: David Benioff [based on "The Iliad" by Homer]
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Peter Honess
Mus: James Horner
PD: Nigel Phelps
Cos: Bob Ringwood

Brad Pitt (Achilles), Eric Bana (Hector), Orlando Bloom (Paris), Diane Kruger (Helen), Brian Cox (Agamemnon), Sean Bean (Odysseus), Brendan Gleeson (Menelaus), Saffron Burrows (Andromache), Peter O'Toole (King Priam), Julie Christie (Thetis), Rose Byrne (Briseis)

A rather insipid variation on an ancient legend, with some woefully miscast performances and a screenplay littered with unconvincing dialogue.
Just short of three hours long, the story feels crammed with way too many characters and scenarios, but still finds a way to get in all the major plot points of Homer's classic poem, even though it rushes through some of the more iconic parts (The Trojan Horse, etc).
Brad Pitt's performance as Achilles is very much tailored for the actor and feels false, especially with stilted, cringe-worthy dialogue delivered with an unconvincing accent. It's fair to say even the actor himself feels embarrassed with his performance. Orlando Bloom is completely miscast as Paris and Diane Kruger, though absolutely stunning as Helen of Troy, is given absolutely nothing to do except stand inert and look beautiful. The best performance of the movie comes from Peter O'Toole as ageing king, Priam, particularly in a scene where he begs for the body of his fallen son, a scene of such dramatic impact that it really belongs in a completely different film. 
The period detail, photography, costumes and visual effects are of the quality you'd expect from a big budget Hollywood blockbuster, but this is still very much dumbed down for the masses, whereas a more classical approach would have made a much better experience.
D: Joseph Ruben
Columbia (Walter F. Parkes & Lawrence Lasker)
US 1989
103 mins


W: Wesley Strick
DP: John Lindley
Ed: George Bowers
Mus: Brad Fiedel 

James Woods (Eddie Dodd), Robert Downey, Jr. (Roger Baron), Margaret Colin (Kitty Greer), Yuji Okumoto (Shu Kai Kim), Kurtwood Smith (Robert Reynard), Tom Bower (Cecil Skell), Miguel Fernandes (Art Esparza)

Above average courtroom thriller which becomes quite formulaic in its later stages.

James Woods (with a stupid ponytail) is a maverick civil rights lawyer who takes on the cases others don't. Partnered with rookie Robert Downey Jr, he tries to clear a convict's name after he has already been serving 8 years for murder.

Though the two leads keep the film ticking over nicely, there's far too many clichés which prevent the film from being memorable, making it little more than a TV movie of the week and wasting an incredibly talented cast.



D: Ulu Grosbard

United Artists/MGM (Robert Chartoff & Irwin Winkler)

US 1981

108 mins


W: Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne [based on the novel by John Gregory Dunne]

DP: Owen Roizman

Ed: Lynzee Klingman

Mus: Georges Delerue

Robert DeNiro (Msgr. Desmond Spellacy), Robert Duvall (Det. Tom Spellacy), Charles Durning (Jack Amsterdam), Cyril Cusack (The Cardinal), Burgess Meredith (Msgr. Fargo)

From a novel which was itself based on a true murder case from the 1940's (The Black Dahlia), this fictionalised version stars Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall as two brothers who become involved in the case from two differing sides, Robert Duvall playing a detective investigating the crime, whilst Robert DeNiro plays a Monsignor who is unwittingly involved. 

Despite a pair of excellent performances, the film itself is quite dull, lumbered down with a lot of talking heads conversation and religious mumbo-jumbo. Perhaps it's the case itself which isn't particularly cinematic, a more literal version came to the screen in 2006 (simply named The Black Dahlia), but that was even duller than this film.


D: Henry Hathaway
Paramount (Paul Nathan)
US 1969
128 mins


W: Marguerite Roberts [based on the novel by Charles Portis]
DP: Lucien Ballard
Ed: Warren Low
Mus: Elmer Bernstein

John Wayne (Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn), Kim Darby (Mattie Ross), Glen Campbell (La Bouef), Dennis Hopper (Moon), Jeremy Slate (Emmett Quincy), Robert Duvall (Lucky Ned), Strother Martin (Col. Stonehill), Jeff Corey (Tom Chaney)

It may well have been a sympathy vote which saw John Wayne win a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in True Grit, but it still can't be denied that it's amongst the most memorable characters of his long-running career.
The veteran actor plays Rooster Cogburn, a hard-drinking old west gunslinger, hired by a young girl who wants him to avenge her father's death at the hands of a group of bandits.
The narrative is quite slow moving, especially in its opening act where nothing particularly happens, but the finale is worth waiting for. A remake was released in 2010, starring Jeff Bridges in the leading role.
"Punishment comes one way or another."
"Punishment comes one way or another."
D: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Paramount/Skydance (Scott Rudin, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)
US 2010
106 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen [based on the novel by Charles Portis]
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Roderick Jaynes
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Jess Gonchor
Cos: Mary Zophres

Jeff Bridges (Rooster Cogburn), Matt Damon (LaBouef), Josh Brolin (Tom Chaney), Barry Pepper (Lucky Ned), Hailee Steinfeld (Mattie Ross), Domnhall Gleeson (Moon)

Shorter version of the above, which cuts to the chase without substituting quality.
It's not quite up there with the Coen Brothers' best work (Fargo, Raising Arizona, No Country For Old Men) but is still an impeccably filmed western with strong performances and meticulous attention to the period.  As Rooster Cogburn, Jeff Bridges delivers a very good performance, but the shining star here is Hailey Steinfeld, delivering one of the best juvenile performances of all time.
Ever since the mob's been after him... Miles Pope hasn't been himself."
Ever since the mob's been after him... Miles Pope hasn't been himself."
D: Charles Lane
Warner/Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV/Sandollar (Carol Baum & Terry Schwartz)         
US 1991
93 mins


W: Andy Breckman
DP: Tom Ackerman
Ed: Kent Beyda
Mus: Marc Marder

Lenny Henry (Miles Pope), Frank Langella (Leland Carver), Charles Lane (Duane), J.T. Walsh (Houston), Anne-Marie Johnson (Kristi)

On the run from gangsters, a black actor disguises himself as a white man.
A failed attempt to launch British comedian Lenny Henry as an actor, not helped by a poor script and some very unconvincing makeup. The theme itself could also be considered a racially-motivated spin on other, better comedies.
"When he said I do, he never said what he did."
"When he said I do, he never said what he did."
D: James Cameron
20th Century Fox/Lightstorm (James Cameron & Stephanie Austin)
US 1994
141 mins (UK version: 135 mins)


W: James Cameron [based on the screenplay "La Totale!" by Claude Zizi, Simon Michael & Didier Kaminska]
DP: Russell Carpenter
Ed: Conrad Buff, Mark Goldblatt & Richard A. Harris
Mus: Brad Fiedel
PD: Peter Lamont

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Harry Tasker), Jamie Lee Curtis (Helen Tasker), Tom Arnold (Albert Gibson), Bill Paxton (Simon), Art Malik (Salim Abu Aziz), Tia Carrere (Juno Skinner), Eliza Dushku (Dana Skinner), Grant Heslov (Faisal), Charlton Heston (Spencer Trilby)

To call True Lies an Americanised update on James Bond would be a bit misleading, since it's equally as much a comedy as it is a spy action-thriller, adapted from little-seen French farce La Totale.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays government agent Harry Tasker, who keeps his real employment a secret from his family, who are blissfully unaware he's jetting across the world on intrepid missions, instead they think he's in a boring business seminar somewhere.
His wife, Helen, becomes bored with her mundane office life and embarks on an affair with a used car salesman who claims to be a spy, taking all the credit for Harry's work. 
Harry compromises his position to get a saucy-kind of revenge on his unfaithful wife, but when the two are kidnapped by a real group of terrorists, the high jinks really begin. 
The filmmaking standard is of the usual impeccable standard from perfectionist James Cameron, utilising slick photography and editing and flawless visual effects to deliver the thrilling action whilst Jamie Lee Curtis provides all the comic relief to steal all the limelight from Arnie.
"Stealing. Cheating. Killing. Who says romance is dead?"
"Stealing. Cheating. Killing. Who says romance is dead?"
D: Tony Scott
Warner Bros./Morgan Creek/Davis (Bill Unger, Steve Perry & Samuel Hadida)
US 1993
119 mins


W: Quentin Tarantino
DP: Jeffrey Kimball
Ed: Michael Tronick & Christian Wagner
Mus: Hans Zimmer

Christian Slater (Clarence Worley), Patricia Arquette (Alabama Whitman), Dennis Hopper (Clifford Worley), Val Kilmer (Elvis Presley), Gary Oldman (Drexl Spivey), Brad Pitt (Floyd), Christopher Walken (Vincenzo Cocotti)

A Bonnie and Clyde for the 1990's, with a pinch of inspiration from Terrence Malick's Badlands.
Like his other scripts, Quentin Tarantino's screenplay is packed with comic undertones, memorable dialogue and a cornucopia of characters. Christian Slater plays an Elvis-loving shop assistant who goes on the run with his ex-prostitute wife after he murders her drug dealing pimp. Gangsters are on the chase to reclaim stolen cocaine as the couple head to Hollywood to seek refuge.
It's a film where the supporting characters shine just as much as the leading performances, especially Christopher Walken as a Sicilian mobster and Gary Oldman as a dreadlocked villain. Even the cameos are a treat, with Brad Pitt playing a constantly stoned layabout and Val Kilmer popping in as the ghost of Elvis.
"Be careful what you wish for... It just might come true."
"Be careful what you wish for... It just might come true."
D: Anthony Minghella
BBC Films (Robert Cooper)
UK 1990 (released 1991)
106 mins


W: Anthony Minghella
DP: Remi Adefarasin 
Ed: John Stothart
Mus: Barrington Pheulong

Juliet Stevenson (Nina), Alan Rickman (Jamie), Jenny Howe (Burge), Bill Paterson (Sandy), Christopher Rozycki (Titus), David Ryall (George)

Originally made as TV movie and screened as part of a BBC Series, Truly Madly Deeply briefly had a cinema run in the summer of 1991.
Juliet Stevenson plays Nina, a bereaved woman who struggles to come to terms with her partner Jamie's death and is soon reconciled with his ghost, though the script doesn't clarify whether this is merely a figment of Nina's imagination. As time goes on, Nina meets a new man, but is still haunted by Jamie's ghost, though she comes to realise that her idealistic view of her relationship with Jamie also had some negatives, as she comes to terms with her grief and finally moves on.
Anthony Minghella's romantic fantasy is full of sentiment without being sentimental, witty and an incredibly clever dramatisation of the stages of bereavement, with two excellent central performances from Juliet Stevenson, whose role was written for her specifically, and Alan Rickman, making a welcome break from his bad guy supporting roles and taking on a leading one.
The TV movie roots are apparent, but this doesn't get in the way of a brilliant story.

"On the air. Unaware."
"On the air. Unaware."
D: Peter Weir
Paramount (Scott Rudin, Andrew Niccol, Edward S. Feldman & Adam Schroeder)
US 1998
102 mins


W: Andrew Niccol
DP: Peter Biziou
Ed: William Anderson
Mus: Philip Glass & Burkhard Dallwitz
PD: Dennis Gassner

Jim Carrey (Truman Burbank), Noah Emmerich (Marlon), Laura Linney (Meryl), Natascha McElhone (Lauren/Sylvia), Holland Taylor (Mrs. Burbank), Ed Harris (Christof)

A satire on TV and media which seemed to be prophetic in the dawn of reality shows. 
Jim Carrey is unwittingly the star of his own show, a 24-hour soap opera which has revolved around his life since his moment of birth, with events controlled by a producer with a God-complex who lives in the studio's moon. Truman begins to question events that surround him and wishes to leave his manipulated world, but the megalomaniac creator makes it increasingly difficult to do so.
Andrew Niccol's screenplay is a work of genius, packed with metaphorical moments and hugely intelligent references to life, the universe and everything. Jim Carrey ditches his rubberface act for his performance as an everyman, but it's unfortunate that he's upstaged by Laura Linney as his kooky on-screen wife, Ed Harris as his creator and the world within a world, a breathtaking studio set so vast that it can be seen from orbit.
"Are you now or have you ever been..."
"Are you now or have you ever been..."
D: Jay Roach
Bleecker Street/Everyman/Shiv Hans/Groundswell (Michael London, Janice Williams, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson, Nimitt Mankad, John McNamara & Kevin Kelly Brown)
US 2015
124 mins


W: John McNamara [based on the book "Dalton Trumbo" by Bruce Cook]
DP: Jim Denault
Ed: Alan Baumgarten
Mus: Theodore Shapiro

Bryan Cranston (Dalton Trumbo), Diane Lane (Cleo Trumbo), Helen Mirren (Hedda Hopper), Louis C.K. (Allen Hird), Elle Fanning (Nikola Trumbo), John Goodman (Frank King), Michael Stuhlbarg (Edward G. Robinson), Alan Tudyk (Ian McLellan Hunter)

A slice of Hollywood history and the more unpleasant side of 1950's politics, with a masterclass of a central performance by Bryan Cranston as cantankerous-but-brilliant screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.
It helps to know a little of the history surrounding the Hollywood Ten, but the story still paints a fine picture for those not in the know.
Following the McCarthy witch hunts where communists were blacklisted in Hollywood, Trumbo refused to cooperate with a congress investigation and subsequently imprisoned. Upon his release, Trumbo continued to write screenplays under various pseudonyms and eventually won back the respect of Hollywood, winning a brace of Oscars in the process, much to the annoyance of anti-communist columnist Hedda Hopper, who was a key figure in getting the Hollywood Ten blacklisted in the first place.
The film does romance certain aspects of the proceedings and completely glosses over a few elements such as director Elia Kazan's contribution to the matters, but perhaps that's a story for another day.
It's Cranston's performance that makes this film eminently watchable, resulting in the actor receiving his first Academy Award nomination.
It's a film which will be most appreciated by film buffs, Hollywood enthusiasts or even fans of Bryan Cranston, but it won't be enjoyed by everyone.

TRUST (15)
D: Hal Hartley
Palace/Zenith/True Fiction/Film Four (Hal Hartley & Bruce Weiss)
US/UK 1990
103 mins


W: Hal Hartley
DP: Michael Spiller
Ed: Nick Gomez
Mus: Phillip Reed

Adrienne Shelly (Maria Coughlin), Martin Donovan (Matthew Slaughter), Merritt Nelson (Jean Coughlin), John MacKay (Jim Slaughter), Edie Falco (Peg Coughlin)

After being ostracised by her family following her father's sudden death, a pregnant girl finds companionship and friendship with a surly electrician.
Hal Hartley's art house independent film about dysfunctional relationships doesn't cater for all tastes, in fact, his deadpan style of humour grows weary even for fans of the obscure. Adrienne Shelly's performance makes it a worthwhile watch, but there's very little else to mention.

TRUST (15)
D: David Schwimmer
Millennium Films/Nu Image (Avi Lerner & David Schwimmer)
US 2010 (released 2011)
105 mins


W: Andy Bellin & Robert Festinger
DP: Andrzej Sekula
Ed: Douglas Crise
Mus: Nathan Larson

Clive Owen (Will Cameron), Catherine Keener (Lynn Cameron), Liana Liberto (Annie Cameron), Noah Emmerich (Al Hart), Viola Davis (Gail Friedman)

Focusing on the relationship between a man and his teenage daughter after she befriends a man on the internet who turns out to be a paedophile. 
Trust is a film with huge potential, with good performances from Clive Owen and newcomer Liana Liberto, but the direction from David Schwimmer is far too safe, without daring to be edgy and there's not enough conflict in the story to maintain interest. The screenplay also raises far too many questions without answers, before ending on a disappointingly ambiguous tone.

D: Michael Lehmann
20th Century Fox/Noon Attack (Cari-Esta Albert)
US 1996
97 mins


W: Audrey Wells
DP: Robert Brinkmann
Ed: Stephen Semel
Mus: Howard Shore

Uma Thurman (Noelle Slusarsky), Janeane Garofalo (Abby Barnes), Ben Chaplin (Brian), Jamie Foxx (Ed), James McCaffrey (Roy)

A female version of Cyrano de Bergerac, featuring one excellent performance from Janeane Garofalo as a radio animals expert, who, thinking herself as unattractive, asks her beautiful friend to impersonate her for a date with a charming British photographer.
Though Cameron Diaz's star name may steal the limelight, the film gets all its power and charm from Garofalo's performance, setting up a convincing romance between her and the leading man. A chick flick which should be just as welcome to men as it is for its target demographic.
A quite lovely film, and that's the truth.
"Evil just messed with the wrong hillbillies."
"Evil just messed with the wrong hillbillies."
D: Eli Craig
Magnet/Eden Rock/Looby Lou/Reliance/Urban Media (Morgan Jurgenson, Albert Klychak, Roseanne Milliken & Deepak Nayar)
Canada/US 2010
89 mins


W: Eli Craig & Morgan Jurgenson
DP: David Geddes
Ed: Bridget Durnford
Mus: Michael Shields & Andrew Kaiser

Tyler Labine (Dale Dobson), Alan Tudyk (Tucker McGee), Katrina Bowden (Allison), Jesse Moss (Chad), Chelan Simmons (Chloe)

Okay, the title is a dud, but this horror-comedy is an enjoyable twist on cabin in the woods slasher films, with the odd wink and a nod to backwoods thriller Deliverance (qv).
Tucker & Dale are two scruffy but well-meaning rednecks on a fishing trip at a newly-acquired ramshackle cabin where a group of preppy college kids are also camping nearby. 
Conflict arises between the two when the pair of hillbillies rescue a student from drowning, which the other teenagers mistake for a kidnapping. 
A string of cartoon violence deaths follow, as the kids attempt to kill Tucker & Dale, but wind up killing themselves instead.
This low-budget effort sat in distribution limbo for a few years before gathering a small cult following. Much like 1990's Tremors, it's an enjoyably fun B-movie with a throwback to classics of its genre.
Remove brain, crack open a beer or two and enjoy.

"Can you survive the ride?"
"Can you survive the ride?"
D: Robert Butler
Rysher (Martin Ransohoff & David Valdes)
US 1997
100 mins


W: Jonathan Brett
DP: Lloyd Ahern II
Ed: John Duffy
Mus: Shirley Walker

Ray Liotta (Ryan Weaver), Lauren Holly (Teri Halloran), Catherine Hicks (Maggie), Brendan Gleeson (Stubbs), Hector Elizondo (Lt. Aldo Hines), Ben Cross (Capt. Samuel Bowen), Rachel Ticotin (Rachel Taper)

Ridiculous ripoff of Airport 1975, starring Ray Liotta as a psychopath who takes control of a New York-Los Angeles commercial flight just as the aeroplane is heading towards a major storm.
Ray Liotta puts so much energy into his performance that he gets away with appearing in such a poor film, but Lauren Holly and the rest of the cast are as poor as the premise itself. Straight to video stuff.
D: Roger Spottiswoode
Warner Bros./Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners IV (Raymond Wagner)
US 1989
99 mins


W: Dennis Shryack, Michael Blodgett, Daniel Petrie, Jr., Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr.         
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Paul Seydor, Mark Conte, Kenneth Morrisey & Lois Freeman-Cox
Mus: Charles Gross

Tom Hanks (Scott Turner), Mare Winningham (Dr. Emily Carson), Craig T. Nelson (Howard Hyde), Reginald Veljohnson (David Dutton), Scott Paulin (Zack Gregory), J.C. Quinn (Walter Boyett), Beasley (Hooch)

One of two 1989 cop and dog crime comedies, starring Tom Hanks as Scott Turner, an obsessive-compulsive detective who takes in a slovenly hound whose owner is murdered on the docks.
More family-orientated than the same year's K-9 (qv), this is mostly enjoyable for Tom Hanks performance. The story only has one real joke, which is how ugly and slobbery the dog is. Still, it does a good job at making the audience engage with its ugly duckling, especially in its schmaltzy ending.
"The generations change. But the choices remain the same."
"The generations change. But the choices remain the same."
D: Herbert Ross
20th Century Fox/Hera (Herbert Ross & Arthur Laurents)
US 1977
119 mins


W: Arthur Laurents
DP: Robert Surtees
Ed: William Reynolds
Mus: John Lanchberry
PD: Albert Brenner
Cos: Albert Wolsky

Anne Bancroft (Emma Jacklin), Shirley MacLaine (Deedee Rodgers), Mikhail Baryshnikov (Kopelkine), Leslie Browne (Emilia Rodgers), Tom Skerritt (Wayne Rodgers), Martha Scott (Adelaide), Marshall Thompson (Carter)

The Turning Point is a soap opera set around the world of ballet. The American Ballet Theatre tours Oklahoma City, where it's ageing star revisits a former rival, now a housewife, whose daughter is now in the biz.
It's a tough ask for ballet to appeal to a cinema audience as they're two completely different mediums of dramatic expression, but director Herbert Ross does a decent job here, making it worth watching for the performances alone, not just with its two bickering leads Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine, but also for the acting talents of the ballet stars in the picture, particularly Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne.
It won't be for everyone.
"Life is in their hands. Death is on their minds."
"Life is in their hands. Death is on their minds."
D: Sidney Lumet
United Artists/Orion-Nova (Henry Fonda & Reginald Rose)
US 1957
95 mins


W: Reginald Rose [based on his play]
DP: Boris Kaufman
Ed: Carl Lerner
Mus: Kenyon Hopkins

Henry Fonda (Juror #8), Martin Balsam (#1), John Fiedler (#2), Lee J. Cobb (#3), E.G. Marshall (#4), Jack Klugman (#5), Edward Binns (#6), Jack Warden (#7), Joseph Sweeney (#9), Ed Begley (#10), George Vaskovec (#11), Robert Webber (#12)

Based on the stage play of the same name, this is quite easily the finest courtroom drama ever made. 
In a deliberation room, the dozen (unnamed) members of a jury are about to give a guilty verdict in a murder case, but are one-by-one convinced otherwise by a doubting jury member, who goes through each piece of evidence to prove reasonable doubt and save the defendant from being handed a death sentence.
It's clear that the story had stage play roots, bound to a single set this is very much an actor's piece, with each member of the ensemble delivering a solid performance, especially Henry Fonda as the juror making his lone stand and Lee J. Cobb as a bigoted jury member gunning for some vengeance for his personal issues.
A remake was made for TV with Jack Lemmon in the lead, and despite having some good performances, it can't compare to this original- a true classic of cinema.
"The future is history."
"The future is history."
D: Terry Gilliam
Universal/Atlas/BBC/Polygram/UGC (Charles Roven)
US/UK/Germany/France/Japan 1995
130 mins

Science Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

W: David Peoples & Janet Peoples [inspired by the screenplay "La Jetee" by Chris Marker]
DP: Roger Pratt
Ed: Mick Audsley
Mus: Paul Buckmaster
PD: Jeffrey Beecroft
Cos: Julie Weiss

Bruce Willis (James Cole), Madeliene Stowe (Kathryn Reilly), Brad Pitt (Jeffrey Goines), Christopher Plummer (Dr. Goines), Jon Seda (Jose), David Morse (Dr. Peters)

One of the greatest sci-fi films of all time and certainly one of the finest of the 1990's. Bruce Willis gives one of his best and most mature screen performances as James Cole, one of Earth's few survivors following an global epidemic which has all but wiped out humanity.
He is used as a guinea pig in a time travel experiment to gather information in the past so a cure can be found, but is accidentally sent to the wrong year and ends up condemned in a mental asylum where he meets a wacky environmentalist (a scene-stealing Brad Pitt) whom Cole suspects as being the main culprit behind the outbreak.
With the help of a sympathetic psychiatrist, Cole attempts to unravel the complex puzzle of the "Army of the Twelve Monkeys" in a plot which successfully plays on butterfly effect theories and paradox upon paradox.
Inspired by a French art-house film called La Jetee, which had a similar theme, but was mostly told through still images, Twelve Monkeys presents a labyrinthine mystery which begs to be watched more than once.
As good as Willis' performance is, he simply can't act crazy the way Brad Pitt does crazy, who picked up a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and also received an Oscar nomination.
Twelve Monkeys makes a profound and complex viewing experience, but it's all very well done by director Terry Gilliam, arguably his best ever work.


D: Henry King

20th Century Fox (Darryl F. Zanuck)

US 1949

132 mins


W: Sy Bartlett & Beirne Lay, Jr.

DP: Leon Shamroy

Ed: Barbara McLean

Mus: Alfred Newman

Gregory Peck (Brig. Gen. Frank Savage), Hugh Marlowe (Lt. Col. Ben Gately), Gary Merrill (Col. Keith Davenport), Millard Mitchell (Maj. Gen. Pritchard), Dean Jagger (Maj. Harvey Stovall), Robert Arthur (Sgt. McIllhenny)

Gregory Peck stars as a hard-as-nails Air Force general who takes command of a bomber unit whose members are suffering from low morale and bad attitudes. He soon whips them into shape with his strict disciplinary measures and they ultimately become a proud military force who contribute considerably in an air battle against the German Luftwaffe. 

It's fair to say that film is very much a product of its time, heralding great acts of bravery in the years following World War II. Technically, the film is very well made for its time, using real life footage in addition to special visual effects for its action-packed climax. A handful of the performances are also very strong, especially from Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger.


D: Steve McQueen
Fox Searchlight/Regency/River Road (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen & Anthony Katagas)
US/UK 2013
134 mins


W: John Ridley [based on the book "Twelve Years A Slave" by Solomon Northup]
DP: Sean Bobbitt
Ed: Joe Walker
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Adam Stockhausen
Cos: Patricia Norris

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup), Michael Fassbender (Epps), Benedict Cumberbatch (Ford), Lupita Nyong'o (Patsey), Paul Dano (Tibeats), Paul Giamatti (Freeman), Sarah Paulson (Mrs. Epps), Brad Pitt (Bass), Alfre Woodard (Mistress Shaw)

'Slavery is a tragedy that should befall none.'

12 Years A Slave is a remarkably harrowing and uncomfortable watch based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in pre-Civil War New York, abducted from his wife and family and sold into the diabolical slave trade where he spent each day doing all he could to survive.

Director Steve McQueen (no, not that one) isn't afraid to show all the horrific ordeals of forced slavery, mothers separated from their children, 'inferior' workers flogged, whipped and occasionally hung.

Every single performance in this film is fantastic, Chiwetel Ejiofor appears in virtually every scene, mostly as a passive character who witnesses and experiences all the atrocities, but his performance is nevertheless excellent, especially in the closing stages. Lupita Nyony'o thoroughly deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar as Patsey, whom Solomon befriends on a cotton plantation owned by the seething, dictatorial, cynically evil Epps (Michael Fassbender).

Not all the white people are the bad guy though, and some of them even help Solomon to win back his freedom, but these characters are few and far between and even those who do have redeeming qualities simply don't lessen the impact of Solomon's ordeal.

Unsurprisingly, the film was named Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars.



D: Mike Mills

A24/Annapurna (Anne Carey, Megan Ellison & Youree Henley)

US 2016

118 mins


W: Mike Mills

DP: Sean Porter

Ed: Leslie Jones

Mus: Roger Neill

Annette Bening (Dorothea Fields), Greta Gerwig (Abbie Porter), Elle Fanning (Julie Hamlin), Lucas Jade Zumann (Jamie Fields), Billy Crudup (William)

Writer-director Mike Mills brings this semi-autobiographical story to the screen, set in 1970's Santa Barbara, starring Annette Bening as a single mother who runs a boarding house, and enlists the help of her tenants to help raise her son in a world she no longer recognises or understands.

The performances of the three principal actresses are fantastic, and their characters are well fleshed out by Mills, but the overall result could have done with being about 20 minutes shorter.


"Five students who changed the game forever."
"Five students who changed the game forever."
21 (15)
D: Robert Luketic
Columbia (Dana Brunetti, Michael DeLuca & Kevin Spacey)
US 2008
123 mins


W: Peter Steinfeld & Allan Loeb
DP: Russell Carpenter
Ed: Elliott Graham
Mus: David Sardy

Jim Sturgess (Ben Campbell), Kate Bosworth (Jill Taylor), Kevin Spacey (Mickey Rosa), Laurence Fishburne (Cole Williams)

Though based on a true story, the treatment, direction and performances make this gambling drama completely implausible.
A group of talented mathematics students are led by their avaricious  professor to the Las Vegas blackjack tables where he hopes they'll make him rich by counting cards.
Aside from giving an explanation to "The Monty Hall Problem" that even idiots could understand, the film is dumbed down for an MTV audience in every single aspect, especially with its pantomime villain (a wasted Kevin Spacey). All the other performances are so annoyingly smug, it's impossible to root for anyone except the house. This will only appeal to those who are far too young to gamble.
"How much does life weigh?"
"How much does life weigh?"
21 GRAMS (18)
D: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu 
Icon (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu & Robert Salerno)
US 2003
124 mins


W: Guillermo Arriaga
DP: Rodrigo Prieto
Ed: Stephen Mirrione 
Mus: Gustavo Santaolalla

Sean Penn (Paul Rivers), Naomi Watts (Cristina Peck), Benicio Del Toro (Jack Jordan), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Mary Rivers), Melissa Leo (Marianne Jordan), Clea Duvall (Claudia), Danny Huston (Michael)

The lives of three people are affected following a hit-and-run traffic accident.

The fragmented narrative might not be to everyone's taste, with the jigsaw of scenes shown in a random order (the director mentions in DVD commentary that they are shown in the order of emotional power), but after you get through the first 20 minutes you get a grasp on what's happening you get to enjoy a dramatic, well-acted thriller.  Naomi Watts, Sean Penn & Benicio del Toro all deliver tour de force performances and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu proves that, as a director, he could be a Hollywood heavyweight.

A clever and emotional piece of work.

"The only thing getting blown tonight is their cover."
"The only thing getting blown tonight is their cover."
D: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Columbia/MGM/Relativity Media (Neal H. Moritz & Stephen J. Cannell)
US 2012
109 mins


W: Jonah Hill & Michael Bacall [based on the television series created by Stephen J. Cannell & Patrick Hasburgh]
DP: Barry Peterson
Ed: Joel Negron
Mus: Mark Mothersbaugh

Jonah Hill (Morton Schmidt / Doug McQuaid), Channing Tatum (Greg Jenko / Brad McQuaid), Dave Franco (Eric Molson), Brie Larson (Molly Tracey), Rob Riggle (Mr. Walters), Ellie Kemper (Ms. Griggs), Ice Cube (Capt. Dickson)

Based on a 1980's TV show which itself was guilty pleasure nonsense, this is a refreshingly funny reboot to the big screen which doesn't take itself too seriously and even revels in the fact that it's a remake of a TV series with a line early in the film where a character pretty much admits it.

The rest of the movie is delightfully tongue-in-cheek, with two underachieving rookie cops sent undercover in a high school to investigate a drug smuggling operation.

Despite the plot being something straight out of a tacky 80's show, the movie works incredibly well due to the on-screen partnership of Channing Tatum & Jonah Hill.

Tatum often gets criticism for just being a pretty boy cast only for eye candy, but I have to disagree, he's good at what he does- it's not like he's being cast as Hamlet!

Jonah Hill deserves lots of credit here though, an actor who can play comedic and serious roles and also co-wrote the screenplay, proving he truly is an up-and-coming talent in Hollywood.

This film is much better than expected, and delivers many hilarious moments, a couple of great in-jokes and a cameo which borders on genius (yes, that one).

D: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Columbia/MGM/L Star/Media Rights Capital/Original Film (Neal H. Moritz, Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum)
US 2014
112 mins


W: Michael Bacall, Rodney Rothman & Oren Uziel [based on the television series created by Patrick Hasburgh & Stephen J. Cannell]
DP: Barry Peterson
Ed: David Rennie & Keith Brachmann
Mus: Mark Mothersbaugh

Jonah Hill (Morton Schmidt / Doug McQuaid), Channing Tatum (Greg Janko / Brad McQuaid), Peter Stormare (Ghost), Ice Cube (Capt. Dickson), Amber Stevens West (Maya Dickson), Wyatt Russell (Zook), Jillian Bell (Mercedes)

Much like 21 Jump Street (the television series and the first movie), the story is completely ridiculous, but it's so much fun that it's easy to turn a blind eye and just enjoy it for what it is.
The plot is basically a retread of the first film, and the script points this out pretty early on with an in-joke.
Cops Schmidt & Janko once again go undercover to investigate a drugs case, this time at a college campus where they both get a little too involved with their undercover alter-egos.
There are many funny scenes and an equal amount where the humour falls a little flat. Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum once again make a great double act, but the film's worst performance is from Jillian Bell, with an awkward comedy performance that is more creepy than it is funny.

"The days are numbered."
"The days are numbered."
28 DAYS LATER (18)
D: Danny Boyle
20th Century Fox/DNA/UK Film Council (Andrew MacDonald)
UK 2002
104 mins


W: Alex Garland
DP: Anthony Dod Mantle
Ed: Chris Gill
Mus: John Murphy

Cillian Murphy (Jim), Naomie Harris (Selena), Brendan Gleeson (Frank), Megan Burns (Hannah), Christopher Ecclestone (Maj. Henry West)

Danny Boyle once again puts British horror back on the map with this zombie flick with a twist.
A bicycle courier wakes from a coma to discover London is deserted following the outbreak of a virus which had turned humans into raging, bloodthirsty and quick creatures whose bite can transform a recipient into one of them.
With a trio of other survivors, they head north to Manchester, where the promise of military protection turns out to be a lie.
For the most part, this horror film is well above par, with truly terrifying monsters as it's principal villains. Unfortunately, this falls apart in the third act where the story seems to be more about military ethos and the real monsters are those who are sworn to protect.
Still, this did as much for genre as George A. Romero's Night Of The Living Dead (qv), producing a sequel and clearly inspiring the pilot episode of TV's long-running zombie hit "The Walking Dead".
"When days turn to weeks..."
"When days turn to weeks..."
D: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
20th Century Fox/Fox Atomic/DNA/UK Film Council (Enrique Lopez-Lavigne, Andrew MacDonald & Allon Reich)
UK 2007
95 mins


W: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Enrique Lopez-Lavigne & Jesus Olmo
DP: Enrique Chediak
Ed: Chris Gill
Mus: John Murphy

Robert Carlyle (Don), Rose Byrne (Scarlet), Jeremy Renner (Doyle), Harold Perrineau (Flynn), Catherine McCormack (Alice), Mackintosh Muggleton (Andy), Imogen Potts (Tammy), Idris Elba (Stone)

This sequel doesn't get much better than its opening scene, where a man abandons his wife in a boarded up farmhouse when bloodthirsty zombies attack. 
Weeks later, the man is reunited with his children in the London docklands, which has become a sanctuary for survivors. But, when there's an outbreak of the virus once again, his son and daughter are helped by a doctor and an American soldier to escape.
Though reasonably enjoyable, this is in pale comparison to the first film which was fraught with tension from beginning until end. This has moments of high tension, but much of it feels rushed and the zombies aren't quite as scary the second time around.
D: Catherine Hardwicke
Summit/Temple Hill/Maverick/DMG (Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian & Mark Morgan)
US 2008
121 mins


W: Melissa Rosenberg [based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer]
DP: Elliot Davis
Ed: Nancy Richardson
Mus: Carter Burwell

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Billy Burke (Charlie Swan), Peter Falcinelli (Carlisle Cullen), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale), Anna Kendrick (Jessica Stanley), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black)

Before my opinion on this movie is torn to shreds by its huge fanbase (why?????) let me just say, if you're not in the target demographic for Twilight, you won't enjoy it. I gave it a watch simply to make up my own opinion instead of making assumptions and I thought it was tacky shit. Sue me.     
The enjoyment factor of this movie depends heavily on whether or not you've read the Stephanie Meyer novels. If you haven't, you're pretty much screwed because you won't have a clue what's going on as the only information which is put across is through the poor use of voiceover narration. 
I haven't read the books because they appeal more to teenage girls rather than thirtysomething heterosexual males like myself, so I can only review this film based on it's cinematic merit. It doesn't look good.
I attempted to watch this three times and fell asleep during the first two attempts because it's just so boring and disingenuous. 
Before I get hate mail from girls on my Facebook page, I'll explain further...
This isn't an adaptation for the screen, it's merely an accompaniment for the successful novels. There is no great build up of characterisation or back story, the characters just exist because they do. And their actions happen because they do.  In a nutshell, Bella Swan (Stewart) falls in lust with the CREEPIEST guy in her new school, Edward Cullen (Pattinson), who's basically a stalker but it's okay because he's really an age old glittery vampire. He saves her from getting squished by a token black guy's terrible driving and getting attacked by three guys who have 'vile, repulsive thoughts' about her (Pasty-faced Eddie can read everyone's thoughts except Bella's, presumably because she's incredibly vacuous with absolutely no personality).
He then gives her a 100mph piggy back up a mountain so he can shit all over centuries of vampire folklore.
The acting is about the same quality as you'd witness in GCSE Drama Class, the dialogue is delivered as though it was read in a script, memorised and spoken, rather than flowing naturally. Not that the dialogue is anything to write home about.
Kristin Stewart goes through the entire movie with only two expressions, the first being a vacuous pensive look, supposedly to evoke the feeling of dramatic tension, and the second being a masterclass in "eyebrow scowling". In fact, her acting is so terrible, she can't even put ketchup on a portion of chips without hamming (seriously, it's true).
Robert Pattinson is actually very good at perfecting Derek Zoolander's pout, but I doubt that's what he was going for.  Seriously kids, Edward Cullen is an absolute douche, and if anyone in real life shared his character traits, he's be branded a psycho, not a protagonist.
If I haven't touched on it earlier, the chemistry between these two characters exists because it does.
As for the production values: The direction is poor, provoking a thought that Catherine Hardwicke should have seen a few vampire films prior to directing one. Everything else is amateur, from the misty-wreathed mountain cinematography to the pasty makeup and low-budget CGI effects (particularly the 'action' sequences where you can still make out the wires flying the cast around the set). The suicidal editing and sound mixing are also an amateurish low (you can hear dialogue when actors mouths aren't moving, and vice versa).
I actually think this amongst the worst movies ever made and I couldn't bear to put myself through another 4 movies. Fans of the books, teenage girls and people with no concept of what a proper romance movie should contain will probably love it. I thought it was 2 hours of absolute shit.

D: Chris Weitz
Summit/Temple Hill (Wyck Godfrey & Karen Rosenfelt)
US 2009
130 mins


W: Melissa Rosenberg [based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer]
DP: Javier Aguirresarobe 
Ed: Peter Lambert
Mus: Alexandre Desplat

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen), Billy Burke (Charlie Swan), Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Hale), Rachel Lafevre (Victoria Sutherland), Anna Kendrick (Jessica Stanley), Michael Sheen (Aro), Dakota Fanning (Jane)

Kristen Stewart is back as vacuous, disingenuous and ungrateful little girl Bella Swan in this sequel to a movie I didn't really like in the first instance. 

This one has "Romeo & Juliet" references throughout, probably so author Stephanie Meyer can add plagiarism to her résumé following the romanticisation and bastardisation of vampires in the first book/movie.

After being abandoned by her bloodsucking lover R-Patz, K-Stew is hounded (literally) by creepy werewolf Taylor Swift (or Lautner, whatever) and there's some love triangle bullshit with a beastly twist.

It's all porn for teenage girls. If you're not in the target audience for these movies, it's all pathetically laughable, poorly acted crap where two creepy guys fight for the love of a teenage girl without a personality.

D: David Slade
Summit/Temple Hill (Wyck Godfrey & Karen Rosenfelt)
US 2010
123 mins


W: Melissa Rosenberg [based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer]
DP: Javier Aguirresarobe
Ed: Nancy Richardson & Art Jones
Mus: Howard Shore

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme Cullen), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen), Bryce Dallas Howard (Victoria Sutherland), Billy Burke (Charlie Swan), Dakota Fanning (Jane)

The continuation of THE WORST SAGA IN CINEMA HISTORY continues with the 3rd in the series of Twilight.  I'm not a twelve year old girl, I've not read the books, I can only review these movies from my own perspective and not the niche demographic they're aimed at. 

As I've already stated, I've not read the books, but they seem like Stephanie Meyer just makes them up as she goes along.  It's just more bastardization of vampire/lycanthrope legend for girls too young to read proper literature. 

The first two films were cheaply made with poor production values and terrible special effects to fully exploit the cult success of the books. A ploy that worked since the first two movies grossed millions of dollars.                  

There is no reason for the third movie to look so cheap, as if it were thrown together over a weekend by a bunch of kids.

Personally, I am bewildered as to why any two people/creatures (whatever) would be involved in a love triangle over Bella. She's the most boring, passionless cocktease in the history of cinema. 

D: Bill Condon
Summit/Temple Hill (Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt & Stephenie Meyer]
US 2011
117 mins


W: Melissa Rosenberg [based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer]
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Virginia Katz
Mus: Carter Burwell

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme Cullen), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Hale), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen)

So... The last in the series of these BAD movies is split into two parts, presumably to extort more money from its fanbase and no other reason whatsoever.

I really don't understand the appeal of these films, or the books. They're just lazily written man-hating diatribes by a loathsome woman author who has no connection with reality whatsoever.

The first three movies were seemingly about a girls choice between necrophilia and bestiality, it's no surprise that this movie has to throw some paedophilia into the mix. 

The wussiest vampire in the history of cinema and literature marries his cardboard lover Bella, they have sex, play chess, have sex again, play chess, have sex, play chess and break beds. She gives birth to a CGI baby and shirtless man-wolf Taylor Swift (whatever) falls in love with it.

Utter bollocks!!

D: Bill Condon
Summit/Temple Hill (Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt & Stephenie Meyer]
US 2012
115 mins


W: Melissa Rosenberg [based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer]
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Virginia Katz
Mus: Carter Burwell

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme Cullen), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Hale), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen), Michael Sheen (Aro)

And so ends the worst series of movies I've ever seen, I'm just glad to get it all over and done with so I can pretend they don't exist and watch some proper vampire movies like Dracula, Near Dark & The Lost Boys.

First of all, I can't believe two guys would spend 4 movies fighting over a girl who is so uninteresting, emotionless & frumpily unattractive, but what this climatic episode to the saga does is simply OUTRAGEOUS!

All the build up from the previous four movies ends with Taylor Swift (whatever) suddenly being cool with Bella being transformed into a lesbian (whatever) because he's destined to get jiggy with her daughter- who's not even one-year-old yet.                  

The werewolf-vampire battle to end all battles also turns out to be a damp squib, since it doesn't even happen, despite being the main selling point of this movie.

I'm not a teenage girl, I've not read the books, I can only review the movies from a cinematic point of view and I can quite honestly say that they are all amongst the worst movies ever made.

D: John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante & George Miller
Warner Bros. (Steven Spielberg & John Landis)
US 1983
101 mins


W: John Landis, George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, Josh Rogan & Rod Serling [based on the TV series created by Rod Serling]
DP: Steven Larner, Allen Davieu & John Hora
Ed: Malcolm Campbell, Tina Hirsch, Michael Kahn & Howard E. Smith
Mus: Jerry Goldsmith 

Dan Aykroyd (Passenger), Albert Brooks (Car Driver), Vic Morrow (Bill Connor), Scatman Crothers (Mr. Bloom), Kathleen Quinlan (Helen Foley), Jeremy Licht (Anthony), Kevin McCarthy (Uncle Walt), John Lithgow (John Valentine)

Four different directors each deliver their own tribute to Rod Serling's 1960's TV series, all in the supernatural style but of varying quality, with George Miller's final segment the standout epsiode and Steven Spielberg's surprisingly weakest.
The film begins and ends with a wraparound story in which a truck driver tells these four spooky stories to his passenger.
The first segment, "Time Out", directed by John Landis sees a racist bigot travel back in time to Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, it ends abruptly due to a tragic on-set accident which caused the death of its star Vic Morrow and two child actors.
The second and worst segment, "Kick The Can", directed by Spielberg, is a schmaltzy, tepid fable which sees the residents of a nursing home gifted the magic of youth for an evening. 
Things improve with Joe Dante's third story, "It's A Good Life", in which a woman helps a young boy with telekinetic powers, driving him home to his parents who are controlled by him and finding that she's unable to leave.
George Miller's fourth is a remake of a TV episode, "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" where a manic airline passenger is convinced that a gremlin creature on the wing of the plane is going to cause it to crash.
The fourth quarter alone makes it worth sitting through the rest, but the wonders of modern DVD technology makes it able to skip through the also-rans just to tune into the superior episode, which has become much imitated and parodied.
Rating the film is difficult, since all the chapters are of varying quality (Wraparound 6/10; Time Out 5/10; Kick The Can 4/10; It's A Good Life 6/10; Nightmare At 20,000 Feet 7/10)
"Only their mother can tell them apart."
"Only their mother can tell them apart."
D: Ivan Reitman
Universal (Ivan Reitman)
US 1988
107 mins


W: William Davies, William Osborne, Timothy Harris & Herschel Weingrod
DP: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Ed: Sheldon Kahn & Donn Cambern
Mus: Georges Delerue & Randy Edelman

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Julius Benedict), Danny DeVito (Vincent Benedict), Kelly Preston (Marnie Mason), Chloe Webb (Linda Mason), Bonnie Bartlett (Mary Ann Benedict), Marshall Bell (Mr. Webster)

Twins has one driving force behind the plot and just runs with it for 107 minutes. 
Adding a plot twist to the mismatched partner road movie genre which flooded the mid-to-late 1980's, the main joke in this comedy sees Arnold Schwarzenegger play his polar opposite Danny DeVito's twin brother. The product of a science experiment to create the "perfect man", Schwarzenegger's flawlessly toned but emotionally naïve Julius is raised with education on a secluded island, while DeVito's Vincent is raised in an orphanage and becomes a small time crook who plans to take his newly-found brother along on the ride for one last scam. 
The story doesn't really delve deeper into the "surroundings make the man" subplot which it skirts around in its build up, and is enjoyable simply for the partnership of the two physically mismatched leading men.
"The dark side of nature."
"The dark side of nature."
D: Jan de Bont
Warner Bros./Universal/Amblin (Kathleen Kennedy, Ian Bryce & Michael Crichton)
US 1996
113 mins


W: Michael Crichton & Anne-Marie Martin
DP: Jack N. Green
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: Mark Mancina

Helen Hunt (Jo Harding), Bill Paxton (Bill Harding), Cary Elwes (Jonas Miller), Jami Gertz (Melissa Reeves), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Dusty Davis), Alan Ruck (Robert Nurick)

Jan de Bont's follow up to Speed once again does what it says on the tin. It's a thrilling adventure about twisters and a group of scientists who endeavour to find out more about them.
There's a rather needless love story between Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt wedged into the action which does nothing for the film except make Jami Gertz look like a terrible actress. The plot also sets up a rival group of scientists as the villains, but this ends before it really gets onto its feet.
It's really worth watching only for the stunning visual effects, which will almost literally blow you away.
D: James Toback
Fox Searchlight/Muse (Edward R. Pressman & Chris Hanley)
US 1997
84 mins


W: James Toback
DP: Barry Markowitz
Ed: Alan Oxman

Robert Downey, Jr. (Blake Allen), Heather Graham (Carla Bennett), Natasha Gregson-Wagner (Lou)

Two girls meet outside their boyfriend's apartment and discover that they're both dating the same man.
A small film which cashed in on Robert Downey, Jr.'s reputation as a Hollywood bad boy, unfortunately the women in the cast are given virtually nothing to do and come off as very weak characters. With a three person cast, a single location and a story which takes place over real time, it would probably have worked best as material for a stage play.
"91,000 people... 33 exit gates... One sniper."
"91,000 people... 33 exit gates... One sniper."
D: Larry Peerce
Universal/Filmways (Edward S. Feldman)
US 1976
115 mins


W: Edward Hume [based on the novel by George LaFountaine]
DP: Gerald Hirschfeld
Ed: Eve Newman & Walter Hannemann
Mus: Charles Fox

Charlton Heston, John Cassavetes, Martin Balsam, Beau Bridges, David Janssen, Marilyn Hassett, Jack Klugman, Gena Rowlands, Walter Pidgeon 

A psychotic lone gunman sets his sniper crosshairs on the crowd of a championship American Football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in this thriller from the 1970's.
Like all disaster flicks from around the same era, the build up consists of soap opera melodramatics as various characters are introduced, bearing no consequence to the plot except to build tension.
Perched above the scoreboard, the assassin picks out his victims through his sights as the big game unfolds on the pitch, while the LAPD & SWAT, aware of his presence, arm wrestle for control of the situation before the maniac begins opening fire.
When the gunfire finally does commence, the ensuing terror and panic causes more harm than the whizzing bullets as thousands of spectators flee for their lives, making for a dramatic, but rather anticlimactic finale when neither the gunman, nor his motives are explained.
A very well made thriller from a filmmaking standpoint, but it's the sort of film that will either keep you gripped from start to finish or make you fall asleep due to its slow build up which seems to drag on for eons.

D: Stanley Kubrick
MGM (Stanley Kubrick)
UK 1968
141 mins

Science Fiction

W: Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke
DP: Geoffrey Unsworth & John Alcott
Ed: Ray Lovejoy
PD: Tony Masters, Harry Lange & Ernie Archer

Gary Lockwood (Frank Poole), Keir Dullea (David Bowman), William Sylvester (Heywood Floyd), Leonard Rossiter (Andrei Smyslov), Douglas Rain (voice of HAL 9000)

Arguably, the definitive science fiction movie, but also the most misunderstood as it seems to be so ambiguous, it's up to the viewer to take what they want from it. Some may choose to mull over the visual poetry as they may see fit, while others might just time their hallucinatory aids so they can enjoy the trip. Both legally and morally, I would have to recommend the former.

For me, the premise of Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece is that an unknown being (represented in this film by a mysterious black monolith) has been observing life on Earth since the very beginning, and only intervening on rare occasions to evolve human intelligence.

The movie is split into two main sections: the first being 'The Dawn Of Man', where primates are fighting amongst themselves, and after one of the apemen discover the monolith, he happens upon the concept of tools & weapons, using a bone as an implement for battle.

The second section of the film follows a group of astronauts on a mission to Jupiter, while their spaceships central computer, HAL, tries to take control of the mission for unknown reason.

The final half-hour is where you can choose to dissect the meaning of it all/experience the psychedelia (depending on how much you've been smoking), but for me the message is as follows: 

The technologies we encounter through human history, from the first rudimentary tool to the super computers that navigate the universe, are based on the same intellectual level- they can be used for good or evil and the choice is up to the user.

Kubrick's masterpiece of science fiction has become hugely influential and much imitated since it's 1968 premiere, and though it's still very much misunderstood, not many would be able to argue that it's a masterpiece of filmmaking excellence.

"The year we make contact"
"The year we make contact"
2010 (PG)
D: Peter Hyams
MGM/United Artists (Peter Hyams)
US 1984
114 mins

Science Fiction

W: Peter Hyams [based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke]
DP: Peter Hyams
Ed: James Mitchell
Mus: David Shire
PD: Albert Brenner
Cos: Patricia Norris

Roy Scheider (Dr. Heywood Floyd), Helen Mirren (Tanya Kirbuk), John Lithgow (Dr. Walter Curnow), Bob Balaban (Dr. Chandra), Keir Dullea (David Bowman)

A sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey which poses more questions than delivers answers, which isn't good considering the plot follows a group of astronauts who investigate the happenings from the first film.
From a production standpoint alone, 2010 is incredibly well made, with excellent visual effects, makeup, art direction and costumes, but the end will only have yourself wondering what the hell it's all about.
"We were warned."
"We were warned."
2012 (12)
D: Roland Emmerich
Columbia (Harald Kloser, Mark Gordon & Larry J. Franco)
US 2009
158 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: David Brenner & Peter S. Elliott
Mus: Harald Kloser

John Cusack (Jackson Curtis), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Adrian Helmsley), Amanda Peet (Kate Curtis), Danny Glover (Thomas Wilson), Thandie Newton (Laura Wilson), Woody Harrelson (Charlie Frost)

It was a risky choice for Roland Emmerich to direct another new age disaster film which prophecies events so close to the film's release date, and though it tapped into a market, this special effects extravaganza dated itself within three years.
Using the theory that the world would end in December 2012, Emmerich uses the same mould from The Day After Tomorrow (qv), throws in far too many soap opera characters and allows expensive visual effects to tell the story instead, as a series of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis lay the planet to waste as a small group of survivors seek refuge while a corrupt politician only seems interested in saving his own backside.
Though the CGI effects are often impressive, the set pieces follow the exact same blueprint over and over and over until its underwhelming climax.

D: Paddy Considine
Studio Canal/Film4/UK Film Council (Diarmid Scrimshaw & Mark Herbert)
UK 2011
92 mins


W: Paddy Considine
DP: Erik Wilson
Ed: Pia DiCiaula

Peter Mullan (Joseph), Olivia Colman (Hannah), Eddie Marsan (James), Paul Popplewell (Bod), Sally Carman (Marie)

Those expecting a film about a dinosaur may be very disappointed, as this is a powerfully-observed character study about repressed anger.
Peter Mullan plays an embittered, lonely man who lives day to day getting drunk, gambling and having explosive moments of rage. He finds solace when he befriends a devout charity shop worker who has problems of her own with an abusive, violent husband.
It's a film where not a lot happens, but you're still transfixed to the screen due to the brilliance of the two leading performances.
A solid directorial debut from Paddy Considine.