ih007b2077

IMDb member since July 2001
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    IMDb Member
    18 years

Reviews

Inception
(2010)

The Greatest Movie of all Time
'Inception' is a cinematic experience without rival. I have seen it, so far, 10 times at the cinema and I can't wait to go again. What I shall do when the theatres all stop screening it, I simply don't know. It gets better and better the more times you see it. Part of this is because it all makes more sense each time it's viewed, but mainly it is because the combination of a lot of individual parts keeps you enthralled and intrigued from start to finish. The direction, original script, ensemble cast, and terrific music all add up to cinematic heaven. I am not even going to begin to mention any of the plot as it can't be appreciated without viewing. The cast are all good. Di Caprio has never been better, although the highly watchable Ellen Page and the mesmerising performance of Marion Cotillard really steal the show between the three of them. Many people I know would probably be put off by the fact that it is both a 'summer blockbuster' and a science fiction film. But it is so very much more than that. I liked the Director's second movie 'Memento' but this is far beyond expectations. His own story is scripted magnificently. I truly feel that, in the current trend of singalong movies such as 'Grease', this should become a candidate for a talkalong, as it is wonderful to talk along to the script yourself! (Obviously mouthing, not speaking, the words!). I hope and pray that it becomes the number one movie in the IMDb list. Currently standing at Number Four, it is definitely worthy of such a status.

30 Days of Night
(2007)

A comedy, right?
I cannot believe the reviews I have seen for this. This was pretty awful at best. I must have seen the wrong movie because if this is popular then movie standards must have plummeted lately. Josh Hartnett picks turkeys like Bernard Matthews. He is actually the breast and feathers in this one. I found almost all of the cast on the verge of hysterical laughter, which killed any chance for me enjoying it. had it been deliberately played for laughs I might have succumbed. Only the vampires were convincing. They were much more serious. Not since William Hurt, hiding his embarrassment behind a beard in 'The Village', has an actor looked more like falling about in hysteria, as Hartnett does in this, again helped by a bit of a beard. Who wrote the wonderful script? Every time the survivors moved their base, it was announced they had to leave again. Did large segments get abandoned on the cutting room floor? I would have left it all, actually. Regarding the dialogue, only the vampires' strange lingo was anything like convincing. The rest of the script was pure comedy. Finally, in spite of the extensive gore, I was not once concerned about any of the characters because there was not a single scrap of tension or suspense. it made 'Dog Soldiers' and even the dreadful 'Underworld' seem passable.

The Skeleton Key
(2005)

Image of Goldie
'The Skeleton Key' is a far better movie than many have given credit for. I was not expecting much, which does admittedly help, but I was rather surprised by the tension. It has many similarities to hundreds of other movies in the spooky house genre, but seems to stride over and above clichés, and actually makes the situation appear fresh. With a good combination of spooky horror and tension, it does hold the attention all the way through, and it does have a genuinely original ending. It reminded me of 'The Others' which I didn't generally like, although that also had a good conclusion. 7 out of 10. John Hurt adds weight to his mute character, but it is Kate Huson who keeps you enthralled, much as Michelle Pfeiffer did so well in 'What Lies Beneath'. I have not always liked her, possibly because she didn't look much like her Mother (!) but, with age, (all of 25?) she now has a lot of her Mum's charm and cuteness. There is one scene, near the end, when I actually found myself saying: 'Get out, Goldie'! She had me fooled for a second. And anyway, anyone who looks like Goldie is always going to get my vote. Forget the negative reviews. This movie is a good popcorn-dropping chiller.

Open Water
(2003)

Close The Water
I am only writing this review because, sadly, I have heard two people slag it off, having watched this movie on pirate dvds. I feel strongly about this lawbreaking, especially when they have the cheek to slag off the movie, having watched it on a small screen, with an inferior and illegal copy. Whilst I did not particularly like this film, I do not think it deserves to be dismissed so readily by these, and other, criminals. How can anyone judge this movie on a small screen? It requires the large scale cinema screen, and whilst it was not made for widescreen even at the cinema, the expanse of water is more compelling in a cinema. The comparisons with 'Blair Witch' are understandable, but I think this is a better made film. It definitely made me feel anxious without ever scaring me. I was happy for it to end, and that's not to say I didn't enjoy it, but it was a relief. There. Got it off my chest. Bloody pirate watchers!

The Village
(2004)

Talk About Red Herrings
This was a fair idea. A good cast, on the face of it. And the would-be-king of twists. So where did it all go wrong? Well, there's no faulting James Newton-Howard's music, which helped the film along. The sets and scenery reminded me of 'Sleepy Hollow' and 'Blair Witch Project' (the latter film being awful, in my opinion) but the direction left me giggling. Supposedly meaningful shots of rocking-chairs. If this meant anything and I'm dumb, put me out of my misery. The worst of it is the acting, with the exception of the blind girl, although even she has to be given one of the worst, last lines in movie history. Mr Pheonix seems to be convincing enough, but he is confined to a horizontal position for the last half of the movie. Did he 'do' an Oliver Reed or David Hemmings and they couldn't find a double? Sigourney Weaver is good as always but she is hardly in the storyline. Brendan Gleeson plays his usual part. William Hurt, behind a bushy beard, may have insisted on 95% of his shots being side-on, presumably because he couldn't stop laughing at his atrocious dialogue. But the most hilarious performance comes from Adrien Brody. I didn't see 'The Pianist' but I'll bet he's glad he's already won an Oscar, because if he gets another part, it will probably be as a stage warm-up act for Woody Allen. It's almost worth seeing again to really have a good laugh. I think this movie is even worse than 'Unbreakable' and I haven't seen 'Signs' although people exiting the cinema were overheard to compare the two ('Signs' and this rubbish, that is). I still give it 5 out of 10 for some aspects, including the twists, the red herrrings, and the music. But the real reason I dislike this is that it is an obvious attempt at capturing the atmosphere of 'Sleepy Hollow', which it can never do. Sorry Mr S. One good twist does not a movie make.

Spider-Man 2
(2004)

tHE pERFECT bLOCKBUSTER
Think of Superman 2 and how much better it was than the original. Then double it. You then get a bit closer to how good Spider-Man 2 is. With the exception of the Green Goblin being the villain with the greater fun factor, this sequel does for S-M what the plural did for 'Alien', and certainly what happened to the Superman series. I can't think of a better blockbuster, certainly not a comic one, in any event. Give the movie-makers a pat on the back. Average Hollywood fare can be forgiven in the light of this Marvel masterpiece. It really has everything a good film should have. Behind the guise of Peter Parker, we have a super-hero. Behind the guise of a comic book caper, we have just about all the ingredients of any movie classic. Tobey Maguire is on very top form, and that's saying something. He has the kind of high profile that holds mediocre films together. He is always watchable, but this is surely his finest hour, and I truly believe he should be nominated for Oscar glory, such is the magnitude of the performance. This is the Hamlet of the comic strip world. The great thing about this is that it can appeal to tastes on many different levels. Aside from the impressive, and sometimes frightening, action, there are moral issues and human dilemmas which soap operas would be proud to address. Danny Elfman's music, and the sharp, pinpoint direction, with no wasted or superfluous scenes, make this a thrill ride from beginning to end. They simply cannot top this movie. And finally. It had to happen sooner or later. Miss Dunst at last comes of age in a performance which makes Scarlett O'Hara seem like a bit part. She is truly outstanding, and gorgeous (even with the red hair), making this movie stand alongside such classics as 'Titanic', which most people seem to slag off these days. Well, the viewing public can't be wrong, because the money made by these movies says an awful lot. People still like good old-fashioned romances, and when combined with great spectacle, such as huge liners sinking, or Spider-Man saving MJ from Doc Ock (!)it proves my long-held belief that they don't make 'em like they used to, except in this instance, they clearly do. 9 out of 10. Don't know why it isn't 10 out of 10 really, but it must have some flaw..where?! I am not particularly a fan of comic book movies, but this is quite exceptional. NOT TO BE MISSED ON ANY ACCOUNT.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
(2004)

Do Great Spotless Minds Think Alike?
Perhaps they do, because, without giving anything away, there are two examples in this film of exactly that. Or am I really referring to lightning striking twice, or history repeating itself...I'm not too sure, and it's sure hard to write a review of this without giving anything away. I have had to watch ESOTSM three times before writing this, because it took me that long to decide if I really liked it, and one viewing, unless you're cleverer than me, does not make total sense of it all. Guess what. I really liked it. Having not seen 'Adaptation' or 'being John Malkovich', I was new to the script-writer, but anything as fresh and original as this will always get my vote. This is almost 'Sliding Doors' meets 'Memento', but it's not anything like either of those films in either style or story, really. But there are some similarities. I was surprised at the size of the audiences because I fully expected the cinema-going masses to give this a miss. This is no ordinary Jim Carrey movie, although I have not seen his previous 'serious' films. This is still amusing, though, in a gentler kind of way. He shines, although is ultimately out-acted by the brilliant Kate Winslet, who is on fantastic form here. She really doesn't make enough movies, and it was great to see her in another great film (I'm counting 'Titanic' and 'Enigma' as the others), especially following the dire 'Life of David Gale'. The supporting cast are good, although Tom Wilkinson is forever etched in my brain now as the 'villain' from 'Girl With A Pearl Earring', in which he was terrific. Finally, in the cast department, a mention for Kirsten Dunst. She injects life into the middle of this movie, just when it almost threatens to peter out slightly. But save it she does. Just how good is ESOTSM? Ask me after I've watched it another 3 times. Justifies its top 50 in the IMDB list, in my view. Not sure beyond that. My one criticism, as I always try to think of one, is that there could perhaps have been more urgency inside Carrey's mind, to increase the tension. But it's not a thriller, so it doesn't matter anyway. Defies categorisation really. But then again all the best films are. ('Donnie Darko' is another case in point.) 8 out of 10 - for now. Not to be missed, that's for sure. Don't kill bill - make a date with Kate.

The Girl Next Door
(2004)

New eyes needed for peeping Tom
This film is just about as good as teen comedy gets. It has everything, from the sordid to the subtle, in the way of humour. The story is well-worn but seems fresh. It is funny and is also engaging, thanks to good writing and a very good cast. The movie overall is not a classic or anything, but definitely showcases two new talents to great effect. I have read another British reviewer who has likened Emile Hirsch to Leonardo diCaprio. To me he seemed more like a combination of Ewan Macgregor and someone who I can't quite recall. He is really good in this movie, bringing the kind of youthful screen presence more associated with older, established stars. His comic timing is excellent, and he is surely a big name for the future. The supporting cast are all effective and engaging, including Timothy Olyphant, who is likeable even when we see his character's nasty side. Which brings me, finally, to Elisha Cuthbert...I haven't watched '24' so was totally unfamiliar with her. All I can say is that there are elements of Marilyn Monroe here. A sparkling talent for comedy, combined with both the natural and sexy appeal of Monroe, she simply can't fail in dismantling the crowns of every other pretender aspiring to be the Queen of Hollywood. She is a competent actress, whose looks may in fact thwart her acting abilities, but that's life. Meryl Streep got the roles, but Cuthbert can't help it if she looks like Aphrodite. Actually, 'Goddess' is an insult to her. My God, what a woman! Oh yes, the film....6 out of 10, which is good in my scale. 19 out of 10 for Miss C.

Monster
(2003)

Was she?
I don't now if I'm alone here, but the first two victims had it coming! (Well, definitely the first one in any case). Initially, when she won the Oscar, I was a bit cheesed off as Naomi Watts is my favourite actress and I didn't see how anyone could beat her performance in '21 Grams'. OK. I was wrong. Theron's performance is awesome, even taking account of the completely altered appearance. Christina Ricci, who I adore, seemed somewhat dumbstruck (which she's good at anyway - witness her semi-wordless role in 'The Man Who Cried', an underrated movie)in the company of Theron's 'monster'. I really believe, watching Ricci closely (as I always do!), that the camera captures her actually admiring her co-star's acting during their many scenes together. It is almost as if she cannot believe that it is Charlize Theron opposite her, acting as if her life depended on it. Ultimately, CR's performance is somewhat marred and overshadowed by this awe of her co-star. It doesn't matter, though, because she does her job as the easily manipulated and unwitting ally in the unfolding of events. The film does not glamorise proceedings. It is as gritty as '21 Grams' without its tricks of confused chronology. I liked it, even though most of the audience grimaced in their seats. Not as depressing as '21 Grams' in spite of the subject matter. Simple direction and story-telling perfectly recreates the seediness of the story. I hadn't realised that the woman was now dead. I assumed she would be considered ill, but maybe that doesn't alter the American system...Now, would Charlize please go back to being glamorous and leave Naomi to take over for the next few Oscars. And Christina Ricci needs a leading role to properly fulfill her acting abilities and finally emerge as a true Hollywood Great, which she will, I'm sure. 8 out of 10. Why was it an 18? A 15, surely...

Lost in Translation
(2003)

Slow Boat To Tokyo
First things first. I expected to like this film, and I did like it. But it was not the event I had hoped for. Normally I take to these sedately-paced stories of human emotion and art-house-type presentation. The whole thing is just so painfully slow, however, and I really can't see how it can have attracted such high praise. The direction, scenery and music are all good. And yet there is nothing strong enough about the central characters to make them dominate a slow movie. I certainly admire Scarlett Johansson, having watched her emerge in both 'The Man Who Wasn't There' and the wonderful 'Ghost World'. Unfortunately, in this role, she doesn't quite have the presence to pull off the impossible - that is, make something of a character who seems to have no real soul. Bill Murray, although I still don't like him, is capable, but I found him miscast. This movie needed a Nicholson or a Hoffman, but I know they're too old now. Where have all the young gifted actors disappeared to? I rate this movie 5 out of 10, and cannot fathom why the critics are foaming at their mouths. It does have great 'bits' but there are far too many meaningless slow periods. My favourite bit was the golf drive, which seemed to be heading for the volcano. Even this shot was out of context and performed for effect. I was half expecting some sub-title to tell me that this was meaningful. Worth watching on a rainy day, but wait for it to be free.

21 Grams
(2003)

Oscar Missed Naomi
This is not a walk in the park. This is no easy picnic. Nor can you actually feel good about being in the cinema. What this movie is, however, is a stark reminder of how life can cripple us; and also, thankfully, that movies like this are still being made. I'll start with the format and style. The lack of chronological events does not have any confusion linked with it. I never once found myself wondering if a scene was before or after the accident. It just flows, out of order, but seamlessly. There is nothing pretentious in the direction - just hard-hitting drama. Never are we indulged in gore, even when we do reach the point when the tragedy strikes. This cleverness surely is the mark of geniuses at work. I'm not going to say much about the plot, because if there is anyone reading these reviews who hasn't seen the film, then all I can say is you'll need to go yourself. Sean Penn was new to me, incredibly. I have managed to miss everything he has done thus far, including 'Mystic River'. I have previously seen Benicio Del Toro, and wondered what all the fuss was about, especially when he won an Oscar for 'Traffic'. But here he almost steals the film. He's that good. As I said, almost...because there isn't, I firmly believe quite seriously, any actor or actress on this planet who can match the magnificence of Naomi Watts. Every time I watch her, I steel myself for her absolute brilliance. I don't think there has ever been another actress as good as her. She outshines all her peers, although I have not yet seen 'Monster' with Charlize Theron. I t won't matter, because Naomi is better than Bette Davis!Her first Oscar will not be long coming. She should have won for 'Mulholland Drive' but wasn't even nominated. She even makes 'The Ring' thoroughly watchable, and that would have been a fairly ordinary movie without her. You don't come out of the cinema with a smile on your face. But you have just witnessed a supremely acted drama. How can anyone prefer Nicole Kidman to Naomi Watts as an actress? Beats me... Oscar owes Naomi, but not for long. Look what happened to NK after missing out for 'Moulin Rouge'. Terrific film, but not 10 out of 10 because of the subject matter. Not one to see more than 4 or 5 times...

The Magnificent Seven
(1960)

Only One Remains
I have just watched 'Mag 7' at the cinema. I own the DVD, but couldn't resist another chance to see, what was, my favourite film. I grew up with this movie, watching it at least a dozen times in the 60s and 70s, all at the cinema. The last time, I recall, was in 1974 when it was on one of its many reissues. Shortly afterwards, at Christmas that year, it appeared on TV for the first time. In those video-less days, great movies took that long sometimes to reach the small screen. In the case of 'The Magnificent Seven', made in 1960, it took 14 years, which is the same length of time it took the first James Bond film to reach TV. Don't ask me why I remember all this, but I do. Anyway, this movie was singularly responsible for turning me into a sort of movie buff/addict/anorak, or whatever I should be called. I can still recall the first time I saw it, at 'The Ritz' in Brislington (alas, long gone) with my Father. I was about 7. Unfortunately, films in those days ran continuously and you just went in and stayed as long as you wanted. Well, we got there with about 15 minutes to go, and so I saw the climax firstly. I have never really forgiven him/myself for that, but it didn't and hasn't stopped me from enjoying this film many times. When we departed the cinema, apparently I looked up and told him 'that was the best film I've ever seen'. Well, I was 7! It remained my favourite for a long, long time, and although now I can acknowledge that there are better movies, I still say that none have had the immense impact that this one did on me. I can still recall the excitement of grown men at this film! People now talk of the wonderful cast. At the time of making it, though, nearly all of the cast were relatively unknown. Surely there is not another film which has made such megastars of so many of its cast members? One one remains, alive - Robert Vaughn, who was always my least favourite of the Seven, but tonight, having watched it after 30 years since my last cinema trip, I found his performance perhaps the best. It is really McQueen's movie, though. Without him, this would never have been the classic it now clearly is. How we miss McQueen. I haven't said much of the film itself because I'm sure that anyone who reads this will know it well enough anyway. All I can say personally is that this movie recalls to me my own childhood, and that is something we could all do with remembering. No other western will ever be able to match this film; not for me anyway. I mean, the music alone is reason enough. The best movie score of all time.

Girl with a Pearl Earring
(2003)

Pierces The Soul
A couple of weeks ago, I was less than enthusiastic about Scarlett Johanssen's performance in 'Lost In Translation'. I think now that it was just the movie as a whole that I didn't particularly like. Here she gives an enigmatic and mesmerising performance in what can only be described as a gentle classic. The film is 'assembled' like the craft of a painter. There is nothing out of place. Everything, unlike 'LIT', flows, albeit slowly; but never are you spurring the action along. It is to be savoured. The sets, the costumes, the performances, and the music. This is a faultless film. The pace is slow, but fits perfectly together like the artistic jigsaw it is. At one point, I was hoping that the music score would involve the piano. In the next scene, we were introduced to a harpsichord. I knew then that this was a movie that slotted into my own top drawer, without effort. If there are any criticisms, it may be that I didn't feel Colin Firth was quite as cut out for this role as someone like Johnny Depp. I like Firth but to me he always seems more at home with lighter roles. It doesn't really matter, however, as the whole cast is terrific, especially Miss Johanssen, who surpasses everything she has done before, which is saying something, because she is terrific in'Ghost World' and out-acts Billy Bob Thornton in 'The Man Who Wasn't There'. I had never heard of the artist Johannes Vermeer, being a bit dense in matters of the fine arts. But you don't have to be a high-brow to enjoy this story. You just need to be able to appreciate the art of good cinema. Finally, a word again about the music. It was so good that I will be seeking the soundtrack, should there be one. If the ear-piercing scene looks painful, it is far outweighed by the piecing of one's soul. 9 out of 10.

Runaway Jury
(2003)

Runaway audience
'12A' certificates are something of a nuisance. Well, actually, the 12 certificate was just as bad. The trouble with a film like this being open to everyone aged 12 years and above is that, when you get a gang of six 12-year-olds watching a 2-hour courtoom thriller, they are going to be restless. I still advocate the old 'A' certificate, whereby anything between a 'U' and '15' should be with accompanying adults. Because films like this can almost get ruined by an audience who will misbehave if they don't understand what's going on, assuming they're even trying to fathom it. Anyway, that aside, I enjoyed this movie. The changing of the central theme from the book didn't really have any impact. This movie's strengths lie in sharp editing and direction; and the perfect cast. John Cusack has become my favourite modern-day actor, after his performances in 'Identity' and this film. He has that ability to craft these mysterious personas and yet appear to be the average man in the street. Rachel Weisz looks lovely and has never been better in a role, which could easily have gone to any number of Hollywood actresses. She, in turn,is now my favourite British actress. Now then...Hoffman and Hackman. A great teaming. I can imagine these two slugging it out in a remake of 'Inherit The Wind' but here Hackman does not play one of the two attorneys. At first I was slightly disappointed by this, but when you've seen the film, you will agree that he is well cast. Hoffman doesn't seem to me to be quite the actor he once was, but maybe it's just the type of role he had. Not that much to get his teeth into, but if you forget earlier and superior performances, he does a nice job. Gene Hackman, though, is utterly supreme. He is up there with the very best, and is equally good as a good guy or a villain. I won't say which category he is in though. This is the best film I've seen this year so far. 8 out of 10.

Lost in Translation
(2003)

Slow Boat To Tokyo
First things first. I expected to like this film, and I did like it. But it was not the event I had hoped for. Normally I take to these sedately-paced stories of human emotion and art-house-type presentation. The whole thing is just so painfully slow, however, and I really can't see how it can have attracted such high praise. The direction, scenery and music are all good. And yet there is nothing strong enough about the central characters to make them dominate a slow movie. I certainly admire Scarlett Johansson, having watched her emerge in both 'The Man Who Wasn't There' and the wonderful 'Ghost World'. Unfortunately, in this role, she doesn't quite have the presence to pull off the impossible - that is, make something of a character who seems to have no real soul. Bill Murray, although I still don't like him, is capable, but I found him miscast. This movie needed a Nicholson or a Hoffman, but I know they're too old now. Where have all the young gifted actors disappeared to? I rate this movie 5 out of 10, and cannot fathom why the critics are foaming at their mouths. It does have great 'bits' but there are far too many meaningless slow periods. My favourite bit was the golf drive, which seemed to be heading for the volcano. Even this shot was out of context and performed for effect. I was half expecting some sub-title to tell me that this was meaningful. Worth watching on a rainy day, but wait for it to be free.

Les triplettes de Belleville
(2003)

And The Tadpoles jumped Over The Moon
When you watch a film, wherein a saucepanful of dried,cooked tadpoles, transforms into the moon, you can expect the weird and wonderful. It is both, but is not the complete film it might have been. An almost silent, French animated adventure, I wondered if Walt Disney wasn't so much turning in his grave, than being reincarnated as a boggle-eyed henchman, as there is a passing resemblance to the 'French Mafia' villains. Actually they looked like Boycie from 'Only fools and horses' but I wasn't going to mention that. This is possibly the strangest animation I've seen but I'm not a regular in his field. I'm a 'Finding Nemo'/'Peter Pan' sort of person - you know, the clown fish who never wants to grow up. Here, watching this, I wondered if I was coming or coming, and I'm not being rude. Some of the ideas reminded me of Monty Python mixed with 'Wacky Races', mixed with about a hundred other memories. The film does run out of steam, I thought, when the kidnapping of the cyclist gets underway, but never ceases to hold some interest. I did guess that there would be some reason why the fridge was empty; newspapers could not be read; and the hoover left redundant, but a lot of the visual punchlines were unexpected, especially the tyre substitute. I think I'll stick to 'Nemo' but this is very watchable, although not quite the classic some have made it out to be. My favourite character was the waiter. A creation of genius (although my imagination saw John Cleese serving Mr Creosote!)7/10.

Dead End
(2003)

Am I dead?
Brain-dead, that is, because if this movie is rubbish, I'm in that category. Personally, I don't think I'm in either category, because I think that this film, low-budget and all, is a horror cult classic in the making. I've seen it twice in three days just to make sure I'm not dreaming. The first time I saw it, I was scared. The second time I saw it I was scared. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a good, if not great, horror movie. Actually, to use the word 'horror' is not really correct. It's got thriller and black comedy intertwined with very few actually gory scenes, but the clever pace and direction ensures that it is edge-of-the-carseat stuff from the moment Ray Wise and co set out for their Christmas Eve drive to his in-laws. This is a perfect example of how less is more. Oh, I do hate myself for using that ridiculous saying, but it's applicable. I have always been scared of Ray Wise ever since his Jeckyll and Hyde change in 'Twin Peaks'. There I go again, using that word...scared. This doesn't happen very often. I can only claim that I've been genuinely uneasy about two other films I've seen in the past 4 years, since my popcorn life was reborn. These were 'The Ring' and 'Mulholland Drive'. None of the three films are out and out horror, and yet each has the ability to get under your skin. I doubt if such a small budget will ever be as wisely deployed again, because this is a great reminder to Hollywood moguls that money isn't everything. There are only a handful of characters in this film. Ray Wise is totally believable as the driving Dad. His wife, played by someone I can't be bothered to look up, is extremely infectious, especially when she goes loopy. The chocolate and pumpkin pie backseat supper is an absolute comic classic! The son and the sister's boyfriend are effective (especially the former - a star of tomorrow?), as is the 'lady in white'. But, but, this movie belongs to Alexandra Holden. Yes, she's blonde. Yes, she's beautiful. She can certainly act. And it is through her, in my opinion, that we should follow the chain of events, for, in her state of shock, she may (to nick a phrase from 'Donnie Darko') be able to show us the way. Actually, the more I write about this movie, the more I want to see it again. My only slight criticism, and it's very slight, is the penultimate scene, or the final scene if you draw the line at the start of the credits. That seemed unnecessary to me, but all in all, a real treat. Put it this way. If I'm ever on a minor road in the country and I get lost, should I happen upon a signpost to Marcott, then I'll start to get somewhat worried, and the chocolate pie will be in good company... 9 out of 10. Go and see it. Please.

Manhattan
(1979)

Nostalgic November
I started the month with another 1979 movie I had never seen at the cinema,'Alien', and I've ended it in the same fashion. 1979 was not a great year for movies but these two long-overdue cinema trips were well worth the wait. I rate 'Manhattan' as my third favourite film, behind 'It's A Wonderful Life' and 'the Magnificent Seven'. Two of the three, including 'Manhattan', are not likely to feature in many people's all-time top three, but for me they epitomise my taste in films. 'Manhattan', a creaky print circa 1979 complete with dodgy sound and its original 'AA' certificate - how I remember them! - is, I suppose, Woody Allen's self-portrait. I've seen this movie more times than any other, so the jokes are not as fresh as they once were, but the music, the photography, and Mariel Hemingway are always a joy. The final scene is my favourite of all time, and is worth watching just to see that alone. 9/10. Gershwin was a genius. Allen is a genius. Perhaps I should watch and listen to more stupid people. I may learn a thing or two.

Finding Nemo
(2003)

Maritime Memento
My favourite character, Dory, has short-term memory loss, so that's why I was reminded of 'Memento'. I saw this film by accident, because my original choice was thwarted because 'the film had broken down'. What good fortune because otherwise I suppose I may never have experienced 'Finding Nemo'. This was definitely the best animation I have ever seen, Disney classics aside. (You know, the 'real' animation.) Forget 'Monsters Inc'. That was good. Even the Toy Story movies aren't as good as this one, in my opinion. There isn't a dull moment in this highly intelligent film, which, on the fish face of it, sounded pretty boring. This is the real 'Ocean's 11'...getting to Nemo at the eleventh hour. When I watch a film like this, I wonder how other script-writers sleep at night. This has got more class than a hundred non-animated films I could mention put together. There is simply nothing bad to say about this movie. My only negative thought is that I was hoping the shipwreck was going to be the 'Titanic'! (but we were in the wrong ocean for that.) I liked the 'other movie jokes' such as 'Terminator' and felt that a mickey-take of 'Titanic' could have been appropriate, especially as some idiots have just voted it the worst film ever made. Well, it gets in my top five, actually -'titanic' that is, because I can't really 'do' cartoon lists. If I did, 'Peter Pan' would be my number one, with 'Finding Nemo' in that top five somewhere. I am almost considering buying this film eventually, it's that good. 8 out of 10. Impossible to dislike this, unless you're born miserable.

Miranda
(2002)

Not the Mermaid...
I doubt if many people remember the film starring Glynis Johns. I always liked her. She had that husky voice, latterly impersonated to great effect by Felicity Kendall. But that was about a mermaid. Christina Ricci, rarely seen in these parts since 'Sleepy Hollow', makes a welcome return to my local Cineworld. I knew very little about this, having read something about it 2 years or so ago, except that CR was the lead. I have often wondered why she has not become slightly better known but anyway she is back. 'Miranda' is a good little offbeat movie, and anyone who knows me will know that I like quirky material. Therefore I enjoyed it. I suppose, if it has to have a 'shelf' at the video store, it would be in the comedy romance department, rather than the reverse. It certainly has its funny moments. It never succeeds as a thriller, though, which it may never have intended to do, but overall there is something very likeable about this material. Quite a good cast, including Kyle Maclachlan, who seems to age like the picture of Dorian Gray. The soundtrack is very enlivening and John Simm's voice, in the very funny Miranda song, is very good. Lots of verys, then, but at the close of the day, 'Miranda' is unlikely to find its way into many peoples' DVD libraries. Firstly, it may not even get a release here, and if it does, chances are that only strange obsessive people like me will want to buy it. Personally, though, I find Miss Ricci compelling, especially because of her looks, and also through her mysterious acting. I reckon Hitchcock would have killed to get her in a movie of his. She has that special kind of appeal. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was surprised it even got a release, as I'm certain it was made ages ago. 'Of all the libraries in all the world, she had to walk in to this one'. That's not the tagline, but it could have been! One final thought. Are they as big as Heather Graham's? Comments welcomed, but I'm referring to eyes here.

Alien
(1979)

Menace not Mayhem
Having just watched this film, for the first time in its entirety, I am following yesterday's review for the sequel. Somehow I have managed to miss this movie before, even though it is 24 years old (Couldn't they have waited until 2004 for the 'traditional' anniversary release?) I didn't think I would be writing this review as I said I only would do so if it was better than 'Aliens'. Well, for those who watched it on its initial release, I expect this is still held in higher regard. But, for me, 24 years later, 'Aliens' still has the edge. They are really quite different movies, in that the sequel, as sequels generally tend to do, goes for all-out action, but whereas most follow-ups pale in comparison to the original, 'Aliens' actually goes one better, and does not lose sight of the importance of tension, as well as the action. 'Alien' is a much slower film, filled with tense creepy moments, and less mayhem. There are, after all, fewer crew members to dispose of here. I was surprised that it didn't really look dated, except when you see how young the cast look. The weakest 70s giveaway is the occasionally inappropriate music. Other than that, it is still very 'contemporary' in its feel. Sigourney Weaver looks terrific and gradually makes her presence felt as the tension mounts. I reckon I have watched the first half before, but the final hour was unfamiliar to me. It is said that all great thrillers, if the Alien films can be placed in that category as well as horror and sci-fi, work better if the tension outweighs the graphic depiction of events. On this level, 'Alien' is great, but 'Aliens' was as tense, if not more so, and a terrif action movie to boot. So, whereas I gave 'Aliens' 9 out of 10, I award 8 out of 10 to the original.

Aliens
(1986)

GOING BACKWARDS
I write this review, on the eve of attending the cinema to watch 'Alien: The Director's Cut'. I have watched 'Aliens' maybe twenty times over the years, but somehow I've never seen the original all the way through, and certainly never at the cinema. Therefore, I am worried that I will think the original is better, in which case I wanted to be able, at least for tonight, to state quite categorically, that 'Aliens' is easily my favourite science fiction movie of all time. Should the original exceed all expectations, at least 'Aliens' will have temporary justice. I don't really understand why 'Aliens' is just so watchable time and again. Maybe James Cameron is a genius, because I do find all of his films obsessive. (I certainly prefer him as a director to Ridley Scott, so I'm not really expecting the original to surpass the sequel!) Maybe it's because the tension is so well staged. Maybe it's the relationship between Sigourney Weaver and 'Newt'. There are so many elements of this movie which make it stand out. Vasquez and Hudson are the most interesting crew members, although the android, played so convincingly by Lance Henriksen, deserves such credit for their mission. Whatever it is, this movie deserves to be held in God-like regard. It also contains the greatest line in movie history, in my opinion. Every time I see that scene, when Ripley disappears to become the human forklift and emerges with those immortal words to the Queen Alien, who is terrorising Newt, I am reminded of how great a film it is.With adrenaline pumping, and armed with those basic, and thankfully, human traits of bravery and child protection, Ripley issues the command of 'Get away from her, you bitch!' Simple, but words which never fail to make you want her to kick the **** out of old Queenie. 9/10. If the original is better, I'll be posting that review tomorrow...

Intolerable Cruelty
(2003)

The title speaks volumes...
Oh dear. What a load of rubbish! And this has the Coen Bros involvement? (although, contrary to IMDB records, only one of the brothers was credited with direction, so maybe the other one is partially excused). This has to be the biggest let-down of any movie I've seen in years. The ingredients are there, in abundance. The story is quite good, with a few nice twists. The trailer promised the goods. But the full product is quite simply one of the worst 'romantic comedies' I have ever seen. The sum of all the parts add up to a boring mess, and I was actually planning the wording of my slating review as I watched it, and I haven't done that before. Perhaps, I thought at first,that it was just me, because, as I've commented before, I find that Catherine Zeta Jones' beauty does not make her sexy; nor do I find her an actress. Leaving her side, which I find it personally easy to do, I turn to the other cast. Geoffrey Rush was good, as always. But he was hardly in it. Billy Bob Thornton was funny, but he was hardly in it. George Clooney is in it a lot, which is more than I can say for 'Welcome To Collinwood' in which he featured in 3 scenes and yet commanded star billing. However, 'WTC' was a good movie, and did not need any 'big' names to endorse its quality. Here, George, tries his best. He is actually quite good, but, but...he alone, in one of the two major roles, could not sustain this movie. I kept thinking of how much better this would have worked with the late and great Jack Lemmon, and the also great, but not yet late, Shirley Maclaine. Come to think of it, perhaps George Clooney and some other female lead may have carried it off. Maybe. But the whole thing was totally flat. The film doesn't even look good. The photography seemed to me like an insult to CZJ, who I admit, if nothing else, is beautiful to look at, even though she has no sex appeal and can't act. Even her famous eyes seemed to be misty due to the lack of sparkle in the picture. In conclusion, this is a waste of anyone's time, although no doubt the female audiences will like the fact that George Clooney is actually present in most of the scenes this time around. I suppose if I can claim to blissfully spend time watching Heather Graham watch paint dry quite happily, then I'm not going to knock those who wish to see a lot of George. A great disappointment, and completely confirms my previous assessments of Miss Zeta Jones. NO SEX APPEAL! Michael Douglas needs to carefully examine his pre-nuptuals, I feel. For fans of the rom-com, go rent a Reese Witherspoon movie... 3/10.

Foul Play
(1978)

goldie's gem
No doubt in my mind that this is Goldie Hawn's best film. She does the dumb blonde thing brilliantly here and she has never looked better. The whole cast is good, although it is definitely very 70s in appearance, which is always a drawback!This is both funny and quite exciting. Very lighthearted and Hitchcockian, it moves along at a fast pace, and is always entertaining. The scenes with Dudley Moore and Goldie are absolutely brilliant and the villains are like those of Bond movies but adapted for screwball comedies. I don't quite know why I like this film so much. Perhaps it's because it's not available on DVD, and things always seem better when you can't have them. For any fans of Goldie out there, this is definitely the film to see, and, if it were available, to own. Can someone please release this on DVD?! For all aspiring dumb blondes, just watch Goldie's gem of a performance. And did I mention that she has never looked better....nor, possibly, has anyone else...ever.

Underworld
(2003)

In the So-Bad-It's-Good Category
Well, almost. I had to see this twice before penning any review. This is a fantasy action film, much in the vein (!) of many other fantasy action films. The mood is dark and the music is upbeat, and the story is quite good. Kate Beckinsale looks good in black leather, whilst 'Erika' looks even better in more traditional vampire gear. There are so many noteworthy unintentionally funny bits in this that when you see it for a second time, you can't help laughing when you spot them. This is definitely not for feminists. How many times are the women told to 'Leave us' so that the chaps can have a proper chat?! The voice of the big dark werewolf sounded like he'd swallowed ten sheets of sandpaper and washed it down with a jug of rusty nails. I'm sure you can spot the rope attached to the flying 'Michael' in one scene. And those doors....if you thought that Nicole Kidman's job was a difficult one in 'The Others', then she'd have a nightmare if she had to follow behind this lot. I've never seen so many door-opening scenes. I guess the Director likes to create dramatic impact in moving from one set to another, but this was like watching 'Alice in Wonderland' on speed. Kate Beckinsale really does pick them. The diabolically bad 'Pearl harbour'; the tame 'Serendipity'; and the boring 'Golden Bowl'. I've yet to see her in a good movie, but she always looks very nice. I suppose this was never going to be my kind of movie, but it was worth seeing just to count the number of doors being opened. I guess that's the reason behind the shooting the hole in the floor scene. Maybe Kate said to the Director: 'If I've got to open one more of these doors, I'm quitting'. Perhaps it would have been better if she had.

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