I'm old enough to vaguely remember the real hostage situation on which this movie is based. The mid-1970s seemed to be a time when there was a lot of this kind of terrorist attack, many centred on the fragile situation that continues to exist between Palestine and Israel.
The events portrayed here take place in 1976 when German and Palestinian terrorists hijack an Air France plane en route from Tel Aviv to Paris. The plane was eventually diverted to Entebbe in Uganda then under the domination of the despotic Idi Amin.
The movie is a pretty faithful telling of events but does lack some tension and sense of danger. Both the hijacking itself and the assault by a crack team of Israeli soldiers on the airport as they attempt to rescue the hostages should be heart-thumping incidents but they somehow feel a bit flat. It feels more watching a poor cable news network report than a dramatic reconstruction.
Having said that, I do like the dramatic device of intercutting the story with a modern dance performance which works very well (there's a superb piece of dance at the the very end of the movie) and I also thought Rosamund Pike was well cast as one of the German hijackers.
Whilst Peter Ustinov was always a joy to watch on screen, he is to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot what Margaret Rutherford was to Miss Marple. That is to say, he bears not resemblance at all to the character.
Of his stints in the role, this is by far the least successful and much of the blame can be laid at the feet of director Michael Winner who bludgeons his way through the action with little care. The fact that Ustinov and the rest of the very starry cast manage to wring any drop of humour, intrigue or interest from the script and plot is despite Winner's best intentions and is a testament to their combined skills and talents. If you want to see how it could have been, stick to the Ustinov version of Death on the Nile which knocks this one way out of the ring.
Exciting and entertaining kids animation that has a bit of fun for the grown-ups too. Makes a nice change from the sugary, sickly, cloyingness of Disney animations and even though the moral nature of the tale is predictably hammered home in an unsophisticated way, it does score points for the motley gang of unlikely heroes that populate the Viking village in which the story takes place.
I felt disappointed by this tale of the survivor of a global disaster, communicating with the crew of a retuning space ship. It held a lot of promise with the cast headed up by the wonderful George Clooney who was also in the director's chair for this one.
Although the premise, direction, script and special effects were all good, the story really lacked something and I certainly thought we were building up to a bigger surprise reveal than we actually got.
There are some good scenes, the pivotal spacewalk moment in particular is well realised and stood out for me, but I needed more of an exploration of loss, loneliness and hope than I was ultimately served. All this is a shame as, especially as a parable for the year of the COVID pandemic, this could have had a lot more impact.
This movie was a brilliant dissection of the screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his struggles with alcohol as he tries to complete the script of Citizen Kane.
It is a dense, detailed and wordy film that really pays a fantastic homage to the subject matter and the era in which it is set.
Gary Oldman really shines as the lead and is ably supported by a very fine cast which includes Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Charles Dance and Tom Burke.
The cinematography is beautiful with the whole movie looking like some vast Film Noir epic which is fitting for the period and subject matter.
The witty script by Jack Fincher is an utter delight and it is a shame that his death in 2003 means he never got to see his screenplay come to fruition. Thankfully, his son, David, has directed this work with a palpable sense of love and I think this is one of the best newly released films I've had the pleasure of seeing in a very long time.
Daniel Day-Lewis has reportedly claimed that this will be his final movie in an acting role. If that proves to be the case, he's gone out with more of a whimper than a bang.
It's not that this is a bad movie, in fact, I did rather enjoy the sumptuous, period setting of a high class fashion house in the 1950s, rather it is a movie that really just promised so much but kind of failed to develop. It's like one of those municipal fireworks displays that leaves you feeling more "Oh?" than "Wow!"
I also had some discomfort at the underlying story of coercive control and emotional blackmail that is at the heart of the movie and I felt needed addressing in some way rather than just being allowed to go on unchallenged. It didn't sit well so rather than a peculiar love story that could have given me a glowing warmth at the end, I was left feeling slightly soiled and mystified.
Based on an atypical John le Carré novel, The Constant Gardener deals, not with the murky world of espionage but with the unethical dealings of 'Big Pharma' testing drugs on the poor in Africa.
Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz star as the couple who uncover what is going on and the story is told in an interestingly non-linear format, switching backwards and forwards in time and place.
It's an interesting movie with an important point to make but did lack, for me, a bit of the novelist's characteristic subtlety and deftness. Never having read the book, this issue could lie with Jeffrey Caine who wrote the screenplay.
A great sci-fi thriller in which Tom Cruise plays a cop who heads up a unit that fights "PreCrime"; crimes that have yet to occur but are foretold by a trio of technologically enhanced clairvoyants.
The movie has some nice effects and plenty of futuristic technology and Cruise goes full-throttle at all the many action and chase sequences.
Directed by Steven Spielberg with his characteristic energy and flair, this is a proper, throw things at the screen, blow the budget, action spectacular but has an interesting plot to go with it, based as it is on a Philip K Dick story.
Samantha Morton plays a pivotal role as one of the psychics and, as is typical of her, gives a very convincing performance while Max von Sydow is his usual, watchable self as the political boss of the whole operation.
Minority Report is a good, old fashioned block buster that is still a thrilling and enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.
This is a story that has been told several times in the history of the movies but they really should have stopped in 1959. This is a remake too far and so obviously tries to steal so of the thunder from Gladiator that in places it seems like direct plagiarism. Just don't bother.
Well what can be said that hasn't already been said? Probably the best musical ever made with every song a hit. Julie Andrews, Alpine scenery, nuns and Nazis are a winning combination that still makes me laugh out loud, burst into spontaneous song and shed a tear.
This movie is simply glorious.
I do have to confess that I can't now watch this movie without sniggering at the scenes parodied so well by French and Saunders (the lack of 'Wee Jimmy Krankie' in the cell next to Lecter is almost a shock) and Family Guy but, that aside, this is a terrific movie.
Anthony Hopkins may not have been the first to play Hannibal Lecter but he's certainly made the role his own and Jodie Foster will forever be Clarice Starling in my view. I've also got a bit of a soft spot for Scott Glenn (an actor who should be better known) who has a great role here
I'd not watched the movie for years until a recent, late-night viewing and had forgotten some of the plot details so it was good to see that the movie still really works as a thriller. It also came as a surprise at how a movie that in my mind is still so recent had a plot that lacked so much of our modern day-to-day technology. There were no mobile phones, no computers and no internet which seems bizarre and is a reminder of just how pervasive this technology has become.
By modern standards, this is not a gory film. Rather it is a crime movie that has at it's heart an horrific character and series of events. That's not to imply that it doesn't have the ability to scare but it's more a thrilling chill rather than a shudder.
Julianne Moore takes over the role of Clarice Starling in this sequel and, much as I love her, she doesn't quite hit the brittle, uptight manner that worked so well in the Jodie Foster version.
Having said that, her performance is good and Anthony Hopkins as the eponymous Hannibal Lecter is, if anything, more creepy and sinister here than in his previous outing. I personally find this film more uncomfortable to watch and certainly there is a lot more gore on show. The 'Grand Guignol' spectacle of the final scenes still induces uncomfortable squirms and shudders from me and I've now seen it three times.
There's a very effective score with a lovely operatic interlude by Patrick Cassidy and Hans Zimmer which for me is real highlight of the movie.
Ooof! Really? Just why was this made? Whilst I really enjoyed the first Pacific Rim with its tale of giant monsters from under the sea bashing hell out of huge, robot machines, that movie had the advantage of having Guillermo del Toro at the helm.
Whilst this takes on his ideas, director and writer Steven S. DeKnight gives us none of Del Toro's depth of character or dark, visionary imagination. So what we have is a series of special effects, thumping each other while a bunch of kids scream and mumble their way through blandly derivative science fiction tropes.
Does nothing to honour the spirit of the original and barely passes for entertainment.
Over the years I think I've seen just about every version of this much remade story but I have to say, this is probably the best.
Despite the somewhat hackneyed and well trodden plot, I was genuinely moved by the portrayal of the two central characters. Bradley Cooper's talented but washed out, alcohol dependant country singer and Lady Gaga as the waitress he discovers singing in a bar. Both of these actors are utterly convincing in their respective roles and in the portrayal of the deep love they feel for each other. Lady Gaga is a revelation as, stripped of her usual pop star paraphernalia, she demonstrates that she can more than hold her own. This is a believable and well observed portrayal of an ordinary woman in a doomed love affair and I really hope that we see more of Lady Gaga on the big screen at some point. Cooper is also brilliant and I don't think I've seen alcoholism on the big screen played in such a convincing way for a long time.
The pair are just so natural with each other, the way they talk, the way they gaze into each other's eyes, the way they move together, it really is like watching people fall in love. They manage to elevate the story from the fairly simple "Boy meets girl/Rags to riches" cliché to make it a touching, tender and moving film that is a joy to watch.
A small movie which is made completely captivating by its star. At 86, Sophia Loren demonstrates she still has power and grace playing here a holocaust survivor and former prostitute who takes in a young, delinquent Senegalese boy. The bond that the two develop is beautifully and believably portrayed, never becoming sugar coated and saccharin. The plot doesn't shy away from some difficult subjects with child exploitation, drug dealing and poverty all laid bare but at the centre is a beautiful and heartfelt, very human tale that is movingly brought to life by a superb cat and director. It is, however, Loren who steals the show, unsurprisingly given her stellar career, proving that she always was more than just a glamorous co-star but a formidable actress and one of a dying breed.
I usually don't review a movie unless I have sat through it all, I feel that it is the least I can do. The Prom, however broke me and I bailed out after about an hour.
There's nothing wrong in principle with a big, campy musical extravaganza. Indeed, I quite like a good show tune now and again but watching James Corden, Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman prance around my TV screen in a variety of hideously prime coloured costumes was simply nauseating.
This is not so much an attack on the senses, more a bludgeoning to death and has set back the cause of LGBTQ+ equality by decades. I hope Corden never works again!
A fascinating biopic about Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who was blacklisted at the height of the communist witch-hunts in the 1940s and 50s. Starring Bryan Cranston as the chain-smoking writer and directed by Jay Roach, I loved the sense of style and humour that the character encapsulated. Even when his world was collapsing and his reputation was ruined by the vindictive conservative and Republican supporters, Trumbo managed to keep working, albeit using a pseudonym and the sparkling script gives the character some great lines.
Helen Mirren portrays the vile Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper who seems to make it her driving, personal aim to hound out suspected socialist and communist sympathisers who are working in the US film industry.
Dalton Trumbo's work on the screenplay for Spartacus and the support offered to him by actor Kirk Douglas is well known and this is well portrayed here. What I was unaware of was the humility and good grace of the man himself when, years later he was publicly recognised for his contributions to so many great films. It is a genuinely touching moment in a terrific movie.
Clare Foy takes on the role of computer hacker Lisbeth Salendar in this continuation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. This is, I feel, the weakest of the sequence despite Foy's best efforts. I'm not sure whether time has moved on and this kind of story no longer seems as relevant or contemporary as it once did but for some reason, the story just didn't click and the situations just seemed to have been rehashed from other, better movies. A shame as Salendar as a character probably could sustain several more tales but here, she seems trapped and stifled by previous plots and has failed to grow or mature.