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Arsenic & Old Lace

A nostalgic curio
The principal entertainment value of this old chestnut is as a nostalgic curio from a bygone age of live television plays. They definitely don't make them like this any more - probably for the best! It's mildly amusing, but the acting is so over-the-top and hammy that you can't even consider it as a proper farce. It's only slightly amusing on its own merits and most of the laughs come from viewing it through the telescope of time. For cinema and TV history enthusiasts only.

The Easy Bit

It nearly works
For anyone who loves being child-free, this film will probably be a tough ask - it assumes that you sympathise with people who want children. If you can accept that, the film works pretty well, although I did find the direct-to-camera set-up a bit boring and overdone after a while - with the notable exception of the success stories. The voice-over also seemed a bit rushed and lower quality than the rest of the film. Overall, an honourable failure.

Bad Words

Watchable, but a little monotonous at times
Some of the humour does get a bit near the knuckle and Jason Bateman's character is a little bit too one-note, but overall this is an entertaining film. Worth a watch for adult comedy fans.

Kill Command

Clichéd but fun
Although this is clearly a very clichéd mash-up of Terminator, Aliens and Predator, this is still pretty entertaining for what it is. Certainly worth a watch for hardcore sci-fi action fans.


Pretty obvious, but entertaining nonetheless
A fun, but silly and clichéd action thriller. Everything is by-the-numbers, and you can see the plot twist coming from a mile away, but it's sufficiently entertaining that you can forgive its shortcomings. Worth a watch.

News of the World

A major disappointment
I had such high hopes of this after the great pairing of Hank and Greengrass on Captain Philips, but sadly my hopes were dashed. This is such a poor photocopy of every classic western that you can think of that it just isn't worth your time at all. Next!


Doesn't add up
This looks lovely; the design, animation and sound design are all faultless. However, the story doesn't really add up, despite Merida being a wonderfully charming character. An honourable failure.

Inside Out

Not for young children
I confess that I had to watch this twice before I could properly assess it. It's definitely not a young children's film, as there's precious little to entertain them, but it does have much to consider for older children and (young) adults. As a rumination on what drives us all through life, this is very effective, but I do feel that the story lacks something for making Riley so isolated in her world. Perhaps if she interacted a bit more in the story, this would be a more involving film, but the reflections on lost innocence do add some poignancy and lift this film slightly above average.


One of my favourites
One of my favourite animations of all time. I love the sophistication and shades of grey that this film presents, adding layers of interest that make it very much a re-watchable film. It's genuinely fun for all ages. A must-watch.


Fun and watchable, but...
This is a fun and watchable enough adaptation of Jane Austen, but I just couldn't shake the nagging doubt that Paltrow was completely miscast as Emma. She's effectively doing her 'Shakespeare in Love' schtick, which really doesn't fit in this context. Minus one star for the casting. Northam is wonderful, as always, but there are precious few other highlights, and McGregor is utterly wasted. 'Clueless' is so much better an adaptation.

The Frame

Long, slow and confusing
It can be really entertaining to open a film in medias res, where you have no idea what's going on, but the momentum keeps you engaged. This is NOT that kind of film. You have no idea what's going on, but the exposition you need to understand things comes so long after the momentum has vanished that it's impossible to stay with it. Long, slow and confusing. For diehard Winans fans only.

Rebel in the Rye

OK, but unrewarding
A very watchable, but ultimately pointless biopic about an author whose work seems less and less relevant every year. Nicholas Hoult is excellent in this, but he's essentially repeating his Tolkien turn. Overall, a bit meh.

Operation Petticoat

For completists only
If you can forgive the casual sexism and the mainly schoolboy-level humour, this is reasonably watchable, despite its glacially slow pace. There are actually one or two genuine laughs, which is quite an achievement so long after the film was released. But, this is clearly the least entertaining of either Grant's or Curtis's films. For completists only, otherwise not worth your time.

City of Tiny Lights

Abysmally bad
I genuinely doubt they could have made this film worse, even if they had tried. To be frank, the main entertainment value was shouting at the screen, 'Oh, come on, this can't get any worse!', only to be confounded by the film's stupidity in the very next scene. Just appallingly badly made. You'd think it would be impossible to make a film this weak in this day and age, when every YouTuber can teach you how to write a good script. Abysmal.

The Escort

Not worth your time
Despite reasonable chemistry between the leads, this just doesn't really get going or work at all. It clearly wants to be 'Pretty Woman', but falls massively short, and the presence of big names like Bruce Campbell and Rumer Wllis adds nothing to the concoction. Probably best to give it a miss.


Jack Black holds this film together with a perfectly pitched performance and justifies the viewing time on his own. The rest of the film is bit on the odd side, which works at times and at other times not. Overall, very watchable, but it isn't going to make your heart sing.


A must-watch
My favourite animation of all time. A character with a seemingly impossible dream, up against seemingly impossible odds and adversaries makes this a totally absorbing tale. More than that, it's so beautifully realised that it's just stunning to look at. A must-watch for all animation fans and highly recommended for everyone else.

Kung Fu Panda

Everything you want from an animation
Everything you want from an animation - it's fun, entertaining, beautiful to look at, and carries a sound, moral message full of life guidance. Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and James Hong are all perfect in their roles. Highly recommended.

Singin' in the Rain

Entertaining and beautiful
It took me years to get round to seeing this. I couldn't believe the hype, so I avoided it at all costs. And now I'm glad I've finally succumbed and watched it. I was completely unprepared for just how much fun this film is. So deliciously lighthearted and entertaining, and even jaw-droppingly beautiful in the fantasy dance sequence too. Undoubtedly worth a watch.

Wreck-It Ralph

Beautifully nostalgic
A very enjoyable animation with a kind of cautionary moral that we should be careful what we wish for, as it may have unintended consequences. Beautifully nostalgic and respectful of the 8-bit past of our youth. Worth a watch for sure.

Catch Me If You Can

Worth a watch
A very entertaining caper film. DiCaprio is utterly charming and hooks you in completely, Hanks is as dependable as ever and Spielberg clearly had a lot fun making this film. Certainly worth a watch.

Bad Match

Less than the sum of its parts
As a kind of low-budget remake of 'Fatal Attraction', this is watchable enough, but it's not great. What's really fascinating about this film is that the pieces are all here; a cast that does really well, great use of locations, a script that has the elements and beats in the right structure, but it all adds up to less than the sum of its parts. An honourable failure of sorts.

The Trench

Unrewarding watch
There's much that they got right here, but the biggest mistake was the trench itself - far too clean and sturdy. The cast do as well as they can with the mediocre script, but having seen 'Journey's End' very recently, this pales by comparison. Yes, there's a fairly good evocation of the suspense and dread of waiting to go over the top, but it's been done so much better elsewhere, rendering this film hardly more than a cliché. Even 'Blackadder Goes Forth' (from which the final sequence is clearly stolen) had more pathos. Watchable enough, but barely rewards your viewing.

The Numbers Station

Weak and only mildly entertaining
Another one of those films where the chemistry between the two leads is utterly non-existent, so you don't care about their fight to survive. Cusack looks old and a bit past it, and Akerman has nothing really to do. It's watchable, but only very mildly entertaining. In fact, the obvious dialogue/plot/cast steals from the Bourne films make this film even weaker and less engaging. You should probably give it a miss.

All Is Lost

I've never liked the sea and I'm not a fan of boats, so this film was a long shot for me. However, the inescapable draw of Mr Redford persuaded me and I had heard so many good things about the film, so I gave it a go. And am I glad I did. It's mesmerising. A masterclass in acting and direction and gripping throughout. Utterly compelling and it had me fearing for our hero's safety at all times, as he contends with setback after reversal after gotcha. Fabulous and highly recommended.

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