D: Alfonso Cuarón
Icon/Anhelo (Jorge Vergara)
Mexico 2001
105 mins


W: Alfonso Cuarón & Carlos Cuarón
DP: Emmanuel Lubezki
Ed: Alfonso Cuarón & Alex Rodriguez

Maribel Verdu (Luisa Cortes), Gael Garcia Bernal (Julio Zapata), Diego Luna (Tenoch Iturbide), Diana Bracho (Silvia Allende de Iturbide), Emilio Echevarria (Miguel Iturbide), Ana Lopez Mercado (Ana Morelos), Maria Aura (Cecilia Huerta), Andrew Almeida (Diego 'Saba' Madero)

Two Mexican teenagers and a bored older woman abscond in search of an idyllic beach.
A truly great road movie with a message about friendship and mortality. Fast, funny, frank about sexuality and ultimately devastating.
Classic foreign cinema.

YANKS (15)
D: John Schlesinger
United Artists/CIP (Joe Janni & Lester Persky)
UK/West Germany 1979
141 mins
W: Colin Welland & Walter Bernstein
DP: Dick Bush
Ed: Jim Clark
Mus: Richard Rodney Bennett
PD: Brian Morris
Richard Gere (Matt Dyson), Lisa Eichhorn (Jean Moreton), Vanessa Redgrave (Helen), William Devane (Capt. John), Rachel Roberts (Clarrie Moreton)
American soldiers billeted in a Lancashire town during World War II have romantic relationships with the locals.
A rather long dirge which tries to say something about xenophobia but lacks the drama to be fully convincing. Also, Richard Gere's character is rather repugnant and obnoxious. The female cast members do well though, especially Rachel Roberts, with the performance of the movie.

D: George Duning
King Features/Apple (Al Brodax)
UK 1968
87 mins
W: Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn & Erich Segal
Mus: The Beatles
John Clive (John), Geoffrey Hughes (Paul), Peter Batten (George), Paul Angelis (Ringo / George / Chief Blue Meanie)
Psychedelic Beatlemania animation which is only really appreciated by die hard Beatlemaniacs and those who still experience 1960's hippy culture.
The story concerns Blue Meanies attacking the kingdom of Pepperland. 
It's fair to say that the movie did as much for marijuana sales in 1968 as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kind of says it all really.
Even as a fan of Beatles' music, I did find it very difficult to like this.

"One word can change everything."
"One word can change everything."
YES MAN (12)
D: Peyton Reed
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow (David Heyman & Richard D. Zanuck)
US/UK 2008
104 mins
W: Nicholas Stoller [based on the book by Danny Wallace]
DP: Robert D. Yeoman
Ed: Craig Alpert
Mus: Lyle Workman
Jim Carrey (Carl Allen), Zooey Deschanel (Allison), Bradley Cooper (Peter), John Michael Higgins (Nick Lane), Terence Stamp (Terrence Bundly)

A surprisingly fun comedy.

Comparisons will be made with Liar, Liar which also stars Jim Carrey as a man unable to say a lie, whereas in this he's a man unable to say no.

Over the past decade, Carrey has tried to shy away from the rubberface act which made him famous, but it returns in effect here with his best out-and-out comedy film since Bruce Almighty.

He begins the movie as an introverted recluse (yes, really) who attends a seminar and is empowered to go an entire year saying yes to any question or request so his life will change for the better. A sweet relationship develops with Zooey Deschanel and the movie does have a good share of both funny and sweet moments.

I won't say this is Carrey's best movie of his funniest performance. It's all pretty much more of the same.

Zooey Deschanel is kooky and adorable though. I just think she's ace (I certainly wouldn't say no to her).


D: Akira Kurosawa
Toho (Ryuzô Kikushima, Akira Kurosawa & Tomoyuki Tanaka)
Japan 1961
110 mins


W: Ryuzô Kikushima & Akira Kurosawa
DP: Kazuo Miyagawa & Takao Saito
Ed: Akira Kurosawa
Mus: Masara Sato
PD: Yoshiro Muraki
Cos: Yoshiro Muraki

Toshiro Mifune (Sanjuro), Tatsuya Nakadai (Unosuke), Yoko Tsukasa (Nui), Isuzu Yamada (Orin)

The plot would sound incredibly familiar to those who have seen A Fistful Of Dollars, especially as Sergio Leone's first film of his Spaghetti Western trilogy was a remake of this film.
Toshiro Mifune plays a samurai who offers his services as a bodyguard-for-hire to the members of two feuding bandit gangs in a small village, but he manipulates events so both gangs eventually tear themselves apart.
Yojimbo isn't quite up to the same level as Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, The Seven Samurai, but it is still masterfully crafted, with an almost balletic choreographic style to the action scenes and a powerfully menacing performance from Toshiro Mifune.
Certain elements may feel dated, but the legacy of the film still goes on, inspiring many films in its wake, even in modern times.
A Fistful Of Dollars was a worth remake of this material, but this original film is certainly worth your time.

D: Kenneth Lonergan
Shooting Gallery (John Hart, Jeff Sharp, Larry Meistrich & Barbara DeFina)
US 2000
109 mins


W: Kenneth Lonergan
DP: Stephen Kazmierski
Ed: Anne McCabe
Mus: Lesley Barber

Laura Linney (Sammy Prescott), Mark Ruffalo (Terry Prescott), Rory Kulkin (Rudy), Matthew Broderick (Brian), Jon Tenney (Bob)

Laura Linney delivers one of her finest performances in this affecting drama about a single mother in a small town who struggles to cope with raising her son, her overbearing new boss at her bank job and her ex-convict brother, returning home after a spell in prison.
Kenneth Lonergan's film has an autobiographical, personal feel to it, with good performances from the entire ensemble, but it was Linney who earned all the plaudits, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and deservedly so.

D: Frank Capra
Columbia (Frank Capra)
US 1938
127 mins


W: Robert Riskin [based on the play by George S. Kaufman & Moss Hart]
DP: Joseph Walker
Ed: Gene Havlick
Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin

Jean Arthur (Alice Sycamore), Lionel Barrymore (Martin Vanderhof), James Stewart (Tony Kirby), Edward Arnold (Anthony P. Kirby), Mischa Auer (Kolenkhov), Spring Byington (Penny Sycamore)

You Can't Take It With You is an adaptation of a screwball comedy stage play which benefitted from being released at exactly the right time, when America was still suffering the aftermath of the Great Depression.
A family of eccentric New Yorkers upset the establishment of Wall Street by encouraging people to give up their clerical jobs and live in their mansion where they can pursue their desired vocation. Things get complicated for the family, however, when the daughter of the family gets romantically involved with the charming young son of a businessman.
The film makes fun of the etiquette (or lack of) of the world of big business and it's your typical Frank Capra fable, but it's nowhere near the great director's finest work, even though it did win him a third Best Director Oscar and was named Best Picture of 1938 at the same awards.

D: Lewis Gilbert
United Artists/Eon (Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli)
UK 1967
117 mins


W: Roald Dahl [based on the novel by Ian Fleming]
DP: Freddie Young & Bob Huke
Ed: Peter Hunt
Mus: John Barry
PD: Ken Adam

Sean Connery (James Bond), Tetsuro Tamba (Tiger Tanaka), Akiko Wakabayashi (Aki), Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki), Karin Dor (Helga Brandt), Donald Pleasance (Ernst Stavro Blofeld)

James Bond is sent on a mission to Japan in a rather profligate 007 movie, probably best known for featuring Donald Pleasance as Ernst Blofeld, one of the most iconic Bond villains.  It was also (somewhat surprisingly) scripted by children's author Roald Dahl, who kept only the title, main characters and key locations from Fleming's original novel and pretty much had carte blanche with it.
Following this, Sean Connery handed the title character role over to George Lazenby before reprising the role in Diamonds Are Forever.
If this had been his final outing as 007, it wouldn't have been a bad note to finish on at all.


D: Lynne Ramsay

Amazon/Film4/BFI/Why Not (Rosa Attab, Pascal Caucheteux, James Wilson & Lynne Ramsay)

UK/France/USA 2017 (released 2018)

90 mins


W: Lynne Ramsay [based on the novel by Jonathan Ames]

DP: Thomas Townend

Ed: Joe Bini

Mus: Jonny Greenwood

Joaquin Phoenix (Joe), Ekaterina Samsonov (Nina Votto), Alex Manette (Albert Votto), John Doman (John McCleary), Judith Roberts (Joe's Mother)


To call this film an arthouse version of Taxi Driver wouldn't be too far off the mark. Both films deal with troubled loners who rescue underage girls from a life of prostitution, but this is vastly different when you scratch beneath the surface.

Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal as Joe, a war veteran suffering from PTSD and painkiller addiction, haunted by his an abusive childhood and working as a hired gun to rescue young girls from similar fates. He undertakes a job to rescue a senator's daughter, and becomes embroiled in a deeper conspiracy.

It's a film unlike anything else you'll see, with the real story happening on the dual layer, unveiling Joe's relationship with his mother being the real story of an abusive childhood, with almost everything else being a flight of fantasy happening within his mind.

It's not a film for everyone, and even if you are a fan of arthouse films, there's a chance you'll finish the film scratching your head and wondering what the hell you've just watched.

Joaquin Phoenix delivers an excellent performance, while Jonny Greenwood's jarring music also deserves a lot of credit. The film itself is very much an acquired taste.


"The incredible untold story of the greatest mind of all time."
"The incredible untold story of the greatest mind of all time."
D: Yahoo Serious
Warner Bros. (Yahoo Serious, Warwick Ross & David Roach)
Australia 1988
91 mins
W: Yahoo Serious & David Roach
DP: Jeff Darling
Ed: David Roach, Amanda Robson, Neil Thumpston & Peter Whitmore
Mus: William Motzing, Martin Armiger & Tommy Tycho
Yahoo Serious (Albert Einstein), Odile le Clezio (Marie Curie), John Howard (Preston Preston), Peewee Wilson (Mr. Einstein), Su Cruickshank (Mrs. Einstein)
Slapstick from down under featuring Aussie comedian Yahoo Serious as a madcap scientist who puts the bubbles in beer before inventing the surfboard, the electric guitar and rock & roll.
There's a couple of funny moments, but the film prides itself on being silly. The lead actor didn't receive any more exposure outside his native homeland as this film intended him to, which is a small pity, as he's the funniest thing about this film (but this could be because the rest of the performances are grating). 
It's all relative, you don't need to be a genius to have a laugh at some complete nonsense... and although it's all quite puerile, it is insanely fun.

D: Mel Brooks
20th Century Fox (Michael Gruskoff)
US 1974
108 mins


W: Mel Brooks & Gene Wilder [based on characters created by Mary Shelley]
DP: Gerald Hirschfeld
Ed: John C. Howard
Mus: John Morris
PD: Dale Hennesy
Cos: Dorothy Jeakins

Gene Wilder (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Marty Feldman (Igor), Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth), Cloris Leachman (Frau Blucher), Teri Garr (Inga), Peter Boyle (Frankenstein's Monster), Kenneth Mars (Inspector Kemp), Gene Hackman (The Blind Hermit)

Classic Mel Brooks spoof, featuring Gene Wilder as Frederick Frankenstein, an eccentric brain surgeon who has spent his entire life and career distancing himself from his grandfather's legacy, but ultimately finds himself travelling to Transylvania to perfect the work of his ancestor, with hilariously monstrous consequences. 
Gene Wilder is absolutely perfect in the lead, but the supporting performances still manage to steal the film, most notably Peter Boyle as the comedy monster. Arguably, this is Mel Brooks' finest creation.

"Six reasons why the west was wild."
"Six reasons why the west was wild."
D: Christopher Cain
Vestron/Morgan Creek (Joe Roth & Christopher Cain)
US 1988
107 mins
W: John Fusco
DP: Dean Semler
Ed: Jack Hofstra
Mus: Anthony Marianelli & Brian Banks
PD: Jane Musky
Emilio Estevez (Billy The Kid), Kiefer Sutherland (Doc Scurlock), Lou Diamond Phillips (Jose Chavez y Chavez), Charlie Sheen (Dick Brewer), Dermot Mulroney (Dirty Steve), Casey Siemaszko (Charlie Bowdre)
Billy The Kid joins a group of cowboys and turns them into outlaws.
A cross between an 80's Brat Pack comedy and an old style Western, which appeals more to fanbase of the former. Good fun, but not great, and it really hasn't dated particularly well.
A sequel followed two years later, with a better soundtrack than it did a story.

D: Barry Levinson
Paramount/Amblin (Mark Johnson)
US 1985
109 mins
W: Chris Columbus
DP: Stephen Goldblatt
Ed: Stu Linder
Mus: Bruce Broughton
PD: Norman Reynolds
Nicholas Rowe (Sherlock Holmes), Alan Cox (John Watson), Sophie Ward (Elizabeth Hardy), Anthony Higgins (Moriarty), Freddie Jones (Chester Cragwitch)
Steven Spielberg's influence as executive producer is apparent in this adventure of Sherlock Holmes as a schoolboy, meeting John Watson and investigating a mysterious cult who murder their victims by using hallucinatory agents.
The production design and visual effects are fantastic, but it comes across as more of an Indiana Jones clone than anything written by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Looking back on it, it's still fairly enjoyable, but the screenplay and performances fall short of the technical merit on display.

"Her country. Her heart. Her majesty."
"Her country. Her heart. Her majesty."


D: Jean-Marc Vallée

Momentum/GK Films (Martin Scorsese, Graham King, Timothy Headington & Sarah Ferguson)

UK/US 2009

105 mins


W: Julian Fellowes

DP: Hagen Bogdanski

Ed: Jill Bilcock & Matt Garner

Mus: Ilan Eshkeri

PD: Patrice Vermette

Cos: Sandy Powell

Emily Blunt (Queen Victoria), Rupert Friend (Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha), Miranda Richardson (The Duchess Of Kent), Mark Strong (Sir John Conroy), Jim Broadbent (King William IV), Paul Brittany (Lord Melbourne), Harriet Walter (Queen Adelaide)

This historical drama focuses on the early days Queen Victoria's reign, as she is bound by a political rule that she sits as a regent until she comes of age, as well as focusing on her blossoming relationship with Prince Albert, whom she would subsequently marry and have children with.

This historical romantic drama has fine attention to period detail, especially with the Oscar-winning costumes, and boasts a wonderful performance by lead Emily Blunt. The story, however, has been relocated from other period pieces into the opulent palaces of royalty. It's practically a BBC miniseries with a bigger production budget. It also fails to mention anything of Victoria's addition to cocaine.

Still, it will be very well received by those who like these kinds of movies.


D: Nora Ephron
Warner Bros. (Nora Ephron & Lauren Shuler-Donner)
US 1998
119 mins
W: Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron [based on the screenplay "The Shop Around The Corner" by Samson Raphaelson]
DP: John Lindley
Ed: Richard Marks
Mus: George Fenton
Tom Hanks (Joe Fox), Meg Ryan (Kathleen Kelly), Parker Posey (Patricia Eden), Greg Kinnear (Frank Havasky), Jean Stapleton (Birdie Conrad)

*spoiler warning*
Two rival bookshop owners fall in love with each other online via e-mail, but they despise each other in real life.
A remake of a 1940's screwball comedy which seems more like an unofficial sequel to Sleepless In Seattle, with both main stars sleepwalking through the movie.
A truly insipid rom-com, which is so damn stupid, it even shows you how it's going to end on the promotional poster! It really hasn't dated well and it wasn't particularly good in the first place.