Archive for the ‘Film Reviews’ Category

These are just some of the films that were on telly all the time when I was a nipper–I haven’t seen them since…’s like they’ve disappeared off the face of the Earth…

1.Zoltan,Hound of Dracula

Vampire dog eats unsuspecting American campers…what’s not to like?


Starring James Stewart,this is the one about the bloke with the imaginary friend in the shape of a 6-foot rabbit,funnily enough called Harvey.I saw it once during the 70s,and that was my lot.Honestly….when was the last time you ever saw or heard this film even being mentioned?? (It’s a terrible film,anyway…but well,it’s the principle of the thing…..)

3.Harold & Maude

Bud Cort plays Harold,a teenager obsessed with death who drives a hearse and regularly fakes his own death by staging increasingly elaborate suicide attempts..He meets Maude,played by Ruth Gordon,and an unlikely love affair unfolds.This film was on television pretty much weekly when I was young.It’s an emo’s wet dream,as goth as can be…..time for a remake,think of all the pale young teenagers it could inspire.

4.The Tenant (Le Locataire)

Another cinematic one-night-stand,directed by and starring Roman Polanski (not exactly Mr.Popularity right now,but he has made some of my favourite films),it tells the tale of a chap who moves into an apartment recently vacated by a woman who committed suicide by jumping from the apartment window.Gradually he comes to realise that everyone around him is trying to drive him to take his own life in exactly the same way.A great film for the paranoid.


Back when Channel 4 was a proper channel that showed programmes and films that people actually wanted to watch,this Wim Wenders film was on telly every month without fail.Starring Nastassja Kinski (who was a source of much comfort to me in my lonely teenage years) in a fluffy pink jumper,and Harry Dean Stanton as her father who is looking for her,Paris,Texas is another film that has been lost down the TV company sofa.(Also worth a mention is the twangy Ry Cooder soundtrack….you know the one I mean even if you’ve never seen the film)


The original with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine this film is rarer than rocking horse doings…although throughout the 80s it was the only film the BBC had.


Starring a young Jenny Agutter,the actress single-handedly responsible for the boom in VCR sales during the 80s (but that’s another story),it tells the tale of a schoolgirl and her young brother lost in the Australian outback.Our Jenny “loosens her clothing” (well it’s hot in Oz) quite a lot…this film definitely DOES NOT feature any steam trains.You might think that there is a perfectly logical reason for all this wanton “nuddiness” …when you’re a teenage boy,you don’t need a reason.The BBC clearly needed no justification for showing this every Friday night on BBC 2.

8.The Anniversary

Official legend Bette Davis plays the eye-patch wearing,manipulative matriarch to three sons who come to her house for an annniversary party.One of the sons likes to wear women’s undies,another takes his missus to bed only to discover his mum’s glass eye waiting for them on the pillow.Our Bette is the ultimate bitch….she has to be seen to be believed.

9.The Incredible Melting Man

The title says it all,really.There’s this man……….and he melts.It’s excellent.

10.The Appointment

There are quite a few films with this title…the one I’m thinking of stars the late,great Edward Woodward.Unable to attend his doting daughter’s violin recital due to a business appointment,Ed experiences malevolent forces whilst driving to the meeting,brought into being by his psychic daughter.As you might expect,it ends badly.The boy Woodward never had much luck in films…





Well….read this first.Then go.

After the disappointment of Alice In Wonderland I am happy to report that Matt In Camoland has restored my faith in cinema.

Matt Damon (Matt Damon!) plays a Chief Warrant Officer,Roy Miller,in Baghdad who,along with his squad of badasses,is charged with finding suspected WMD sites…trouble is,when they get there,all they find is,basically…nothing.Zip.Nada.Questioning the intelligence received by his superiors,which they claim is reliable,brings our Matt to the attention of the wrong kind of people who would rather he didn’t shoot his mouth off so much.

Soon he finds himself on the receiving end of a Special Forces badass played by Jason Isaacs,who grew a terrifying handlebar moustache especially for the role-it is,quite simply,the greatest ‘tache in the history of cinema.You know he’s hard as nails because he looks like one of The Village People…and he doesn’t even care.Just try growing one yourself (men only) and see how far you get.

Matt tended to get tetchy when anyone mentioned Team America

Matt goes AWOL to find an Iraqi general who knows the truth about the WMD…but some would prefer it if the general was kept quiet,and he finds himself hunted by the enemy and his own side.

Sound exciting?

Well it is…very.Exciting and loud.Directed by Paul Greengrass,responsible for The Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum,Green Zone features the same nervy camerawork and gritty realism that made these films so successful.Matt Damon,in one of his best performances, is on blistering form as he searches for the truth….he is perfectly cast as Miller,able to be physical without making a joke of it;an action hero with integrity.There are also excellent turns from the aforementioned ‘tache-meister Jason Isaacs and Brendan Gleeson as a CIA operative who helps Miller uncover the truth;there is also very good support from the actors playing the Iraqi general and informant-scary and sad respectively.

The action (hardly) ever lets up-it’s a kind of cinema version of Call of Duty-Modern Warfare-you’re dropped straight into the action on the war-torn streets of Baghdad and left to fend for yourself.The movie clocks in at just short of 2 hours but you wouldn’t think it-the pace is so frenetic,the action so relentless,that the time flies.The only real flaw of the film is in the conclusion-there is obviously a need for closure in a Hollywood blockbuster,which Green Zone,at the end of the day,clearly is,despite it’s timely “message” about Iraq and WMD.Despite this,Green Zone is an intelligent thriller,delivering brains as well as brawn,and I recommend you see it,soon as.


First of all,let me say that I have never been a big fan of 3D,and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland does nothing to change that view.The viewer is constantly bombarded with flying objects and weird insects buzzing,seemingly,within inches of your face to show off the 3D effect,none of which add anything to the story.Yes,the effect works-but to the obvious detriment of the film.

I’m sorry to say,this film is a shambles,and unworthy of Tim Burton.

The film is a sequel of sorts to the original Alice In Wonderland story,not a faithful adaptation of it,and at times veers dangerously into Lord Of The Rings/Chronicles of Narnia territory,with a big climactic battle scene and lots of talk about heroes and destiny.Think of it as a kind of mash-up of Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass,with particular emphasis on the Jabberwocky poem in the latter.The film builds up to the final battle between (sort-of) good and evil where Alice fulfills her destiny by slaying the Jabberwocky with,as I’m sure you know,the Vorpal Blade.I’m not entirely sure that bit was in the book,but that doesn’t stop Tim Burton.

Starring Mia Wasikowska as a 19 year-old Alice,a rebellious teenager who remembers nothing about her previous visit to Wonderland,the story takes place in a drastically changed world under the despotic rule of the bulbous-headed Red Queen,played wonderfully by Helena Bonham-Carter-the best performance in the entire movie.Wasikowska is also very good as Alice,and these two performances just about manage to save the film from being a complete disaster.Johnny Depp on the other hand is less impressive,playing The Mad Hatter in such a way that one feels any actor could have been cast in the role.His name is undoubtedly still a big draw,but the most ardent Depp fans may be disappointed.Elsewhere,Stephen Fry voices the Cheshire Cat and Matt Lucas plays both Tweedledum & Tweedledee;I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) that both actors’ performances rise above the dreaded tag of “stunt-casting.”

If I had to make a comparison with this film and another,I would say Return To Oz,the notorious sequel to Wizard Of Oz which has become famous for being a “bit wrong,” where Oz has gone to the dogs and Dorothy gets a dose of ECT.Although this is a children’s film,younger sprogs may find themselves “touching cloth” at certain moments especially when the Bandersnatch and Jabberwocky are on screen.Unless I needed to polish my 3D specs,this is a very dark film in both tone and visuals.

All in all,I was disappointed with this film….despite there being a lot on screen to catch the eye,there is very little meat in this sandwich.3D gimmicks,a thin story and a lacklustre performance from Johnny Depp spoil what could have been a triumph for Tim Burton.Whether the 2D version would be any better is a question that I am not in any particular hurry to answer.


Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon

First….a confession.

I may have had something in my eye at certain points during this film,but nobody saw this happen and therefore nobody can prove anything.

So my reputation as a badass is intact.

Anyway…back to the film version of The Lovely Bones…

If  you’ve read the book,then I should probably warn you that this is very much a stripped-down version…..the bare bones,if you will.Gone are vast chunks of story and also some characters-Susie’s elbow isn’t found,the family dog doesn’t die and meet Susie in Heaven,her mother doesn’t have an affair with the cop Len Fenerman etc etc.There is much less focus on Susie’s friends at school,also,but this is probably due to the limitations of cinema-what takes up a couple of pages can be explained on film by a single image.If you’ve read the book prior to seeing the film,you will find events happening not only faster than you remember but sometimes out of order and even completely differently.For example,Jack’s (Susie’s father) decline into obsession with finding her killer happened so abruptly,in the space of a couple of scenes,that it made me wonder if I’d blacked out and missed a bit.

Susie goes prog

Susie’s guide in the afterlife,Franny,is also absent-instead Holly has an expanded role to fill the void.And what a void it is-The Inbetween looks like it was made up of out-takes from director Peter Jackson’s own Lord of the Rings films,liberally garnished with a bit of prog rock-Heaven looks like a Yes album (specifically Tales From Topographic Oceans).At one point,Susie and Holly tramp through a forest only recently vacated by Frodo and his chums.Peter Jackson seems to be saying that there is no need to fear death because the afterlife is great fun-and if you happen to be a 14 year old who has been murdered then you’ve got a lot to look forward to.

The film starts out looking like an extended version of That 70s Show…posters of David Cassidy (ask your grandmother) abound,and a sneaky bookshop stand shows copies of Lord Of The Rings for sale (geddit?),but if you’ve read the book before parking your butt in your local flicks,then you know that this is a film about a girl who gets brutally murdered–and,very soon,we’re going to have to watch that onscreen….we’re going to have to see something we don’t want to.

I admit that I felt uneasy as the murder scene unfolded,but,where the novel didn’t flinch,the movie does.It’s easy to forget,with all the wonderful visuals and floaty,happy-clappyness of the afterlife,that the subject matter being presented here as entertainment is not exactly pleasant.The last we see of Susie in life is as she is desperately trying to escape from Mr.Harvey’s underground lair-we next see her as her soul escapes Earth,brushing past Ruth Connors on the way.

Which brings us rather neatly onto the question of performances…well,there is only one star of this film,and that is,of course,Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon.She is talented enough and different enough to carry the film,making it a better-than-average film rather than just an average one.Mark Wahlberg,on the other hand,manages to,(in my opinion anyway)as Jack Salmon,come across as rather weak and ineffectual,with Rachel Weisz as the mother,Abigail Salmon,slightly more effective.Stanley Tucci,in possibly the biggest role of his career,as killer George Harvey,is also wonderfully creepy and calculating,his every line dripping with ewww…although his performance is totally different to the way I imagined the character to be while reading the book.Such is the strange world of movies.

Susan Sarandon plays Grandma Lynn,the chain smoking and drinking grandmother,the comic relief in a film that shouldn’t have any.Her scenes highlight the main problem with the film-clashing tones;one moment sentimentality,the next disturbing violence,topped off with a bit of slapstick-at one point you’d be mistaken for thinking you were watching a comedy.If there’s one thing that Peter Jackson proves with this film,it is that he was the wrong man for the job.

But….I did sort of strangely enjoy it,as a film in it’s own right.Comparing it to the book will ultimately lead to madness,but it did make me reconsider my opinion of the novel,despite what I wrote in my previous blog.

Perhaps a re-read is required.

And there are some very effective moments-Susie being led to Heaven by Harvey’s previous victims to the soundtrack of…no I won’t spoil it (this was the bit when I got something in my eye,bit of dust I think),Jack Salmon talking to Mr.Harvey and finally realising he is the killer,Lindsey sneaking into Harvey’s house to look for evidence.

I highly recommend it…..just forget about the book for two hours.