dordogneanglais's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Anatomy of a Murder

Well acted, with a reasonable plot, some snappy lines and pretty good acting, but oh so very long! I quite enjoyed the first 90mins or so, but after that, it felt like I was gorging on a Columbo boxset. Slightly disappointing ending and not quite as clever as it thinks it is. 7.5/10

Big Deal on Madonna Street (I Soliti Ignoti)
½

Fairly jocular throughout, with a few mild surprises, this Italian comedy almost makes you laugh quite often, but never really does. It's like an Italian equivalent of an Ealing comedy from the same era. It's perfectly watchable, Toto' is funnier than I've usually found him and it's all quite amusing. 7.25/10

A Walk Among the Tombstones
½

Although this film has a 'cool', almost European look about it, it is actually the most trite and hackneyed 'washed-up, drunken New York cop' thriller one could ever scribble on the back of a small beermat. Neeson is as good as always, bringing a much-needed hint of Taken to what would otherwise be a straight-to-video £1.99 DVD. The jive-talking sidekick is an unwise and extremely irritating inclusion, and the actual crime plot is quite unpleasant. When I left the mostly-empty cinema, I didn't see anyone wildly excited by what they had just seen. It's ok, I suppose. 7/10

Friends for Life (Amici per la pelle)
½

"Amici Per La Pelle" is a perfectly enjoyable movie about the strong friendship between two schoolboys as they grow up. They are apparently from different backgrounds, although I didn't find the contrast enough to make their friendship seem so unlikely, which might make for more of a story. As with much 1950s-60s Italian cinema, not a lot really happens, but it's all very watchable and well-made. 7.25/10

Ghost in the Shell

The music, the look and the direction of this film are all very nicely done, but the plot... I have almost no idea what it was about, and I was really giving it my undivided attention. I think there was some clever philosophy in there about what makes you you and how one day a computer might be just as real a person as you are, but it was all a little too crazy for me. 6.25/10

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
½

Pretty standard Cagney fare, with him playing an ex-con trying to make his way in crime after busting out of prison. That said, it was never boring, followed a reasonable plot and some parts were really quite funny. Perfectly watchable. 7.25/10

Estate violenta (Violent Summer)
½

Like many Italian films of this era, they're more a 'slice of life' than a story per se, but this was an agreeable watch all the same. The few special effects sequences were really gripping (and probably extremely dangerous for the actors!) Violent Summer is alright, but it won't stick in the memory very long. 7.25/10

Il Caso Mattei (The Mattei Affair)
½

"The Mattei Affair" is essentially an interesting story, somewhat marred by lacklustre direction. Told in an annoyingly fragmented flashback style, nothing much seems to happen, apart from the unpleasant plane crash scenes at the very start, which are repeated at the very end. With different handling, this film could've been an uplifting, Rocky-esque, little-guy-turned-oil-baron-against-the-odds kind of story (albeit with a necessarily unhappy ending), but it turned out to be more like a heavyweight political film that only Italians could particularly relate to. 7.25/10

In Darkness
In Darkness(2012)
½

Hardly a barrel of laughs and quite transparently 'pepped up' with some gratuitous 'naughty bits', In Darkness could've so easily been very much better. The basic story is interesting and fairly novel, but the running time overstays its welcome. I'm not sure that the Germans, the Jews nor the Poles come out of it particularly well, leaving the viewer with the message: "people are horrible" which isn't what most viewers want from a film. 6.75/10

Too Late for Tears
½

I like old Film Noirs, and this one is ok, I suppose. It starts off quite boring and slightly unbelievable, ending up so convoluted it becomes almost farcical. The drawbacks with this film are manifold - the lead actors aren't great, the print I saw was so grey and blurry you could hardly see what was happening and the plot all happens in the second half. Despite these shortcomings, it's perfectly watchable and almost enjoyable. 6.75/10

Mafioso
Mafioso(1964)
½

Gently suspenseful throughout, with some amusing dialogue when the family arrive in Sicily from Milan. Never boring, but behind all the hospitality and frivolous compliments, the underlying story is not a pleasant nor enjoyable one. I found the surprise ending a little underwhelming too. 7.5/10

GIORGINO
GIORGINO(1994)

Very long and rather miserable, this may not be the most exciting film you ever saw. On the other hand, it is quite quirky, imaginative, never boring, very French and just plain odd. The lead actor wasn't wildly dynamic and maybe the editor could've had the scissors out a little more often as certain scenes are quite tiresome, but certain bits were rather suspenseful and powerful, even occasionally funny. 6.5/10

Iron Monkey
Iron Monkey(2001)
½

The titular "Iron Monkey" seems to be a Chinese cross between Robin Hood and Batman on speed. There is some kind of a plot with this film, and it ought to be lumped in with Crouching Tiger, Hero and House of Flying Daggers from around that era, although it is their poorer cousin. Never boring and often quite funny, the endless fight sequences do become a little much by the end. 7/10

Samurai Spy
Samurai Spy(1965)

Totally confusing from start to finish. So many Japanese names for characters, armies, places and objects feature in a complex plot full of intrigue that even the most attentive viewer is going to get a little misled here and there whilst being distracted by the less-than-brilliantly translated subtitles. The fight scenes were a little Emmerdale-esque in places, and the mysterious guy in white seems somehow to defy the laws of physics. Just about watchable if you're into Japanese films and are really bored one night. 6.25/10

The Purple Plain

After some brief action near the beginning, this film look rather promising, but then - whilst looking rather glorious in Technicolor - it just meandered on and ended up disappointing. It's alright, I suppose. Certainly nothing memorable. 6.25/10

Superman ieotdeon sanai (If I were Superman)

Surprisingly, for an unknown Korean film, this was rather entertaining in a mildly odd and almost mainstream kind of way. The two leads were about as captivating as they could be considering the language barrier, the subtitles weren't far from perfect and the use of (Western) music in particular scenes was appropriately touching. I actually laughed several times during the first half an hour, before the plot took a turn for the serious, whereupon it became a memorably uplifting movie. Easily the best Korean film I've ever seen and maybe the best 'Superman' film too. 8.5/10

The Wild Child (L'enfant sauvage)
½

A very un-Hollywood premise to this true story, portrayed perfectly well by a cast of 3. The child himself is particularly good, leading me to believe they had actually found another French feral child for the role! It's not a long film, but all said and done, it needed a little more je ne sais quoi to become a truly memorable or interesting film. 6.75/10

In the Mood for Love
½

Agreeable enough, if a little confusing. The music was pleasant, if a little repetitive. The cinematography was pretty, if a little strange. I'm not totally sure what it was about, but it was different. 6.5/10.

Il Tetto (The Roof)
½

With De Sica films, I quite expect a miserable-to-heartbreaking post-war tale of poverty and struggling to survive. Il Tetto is indeed much like that, but still more light-hearted than his masterpieces I Ladri di Biciclette and Umberto D. For all that, it's perfectly watchable, interesting, brisk enough, just rather lightweight. Good, but not especially memorable. 7.25/10

Enigma
Enigma(2002)

Reasonably intelligent plot and perfectly well acted/directed, but somehow Enigma just never really gets going. Even the exciting scenes aren't exciting. The whodunnit aspect to the plot was all a bit watery and unsatisfactory. 6.5/10

The Grey
The Grey(2012)
½

Just about managed to watch half of this. It's like Alive, The Poseidon Adventure, all those Airport disaster films only with rubber wolves and a million times more swearing. Completely un-gripping and not even interesting enough to root for the wolves as they pick off each disagreeable character. 5/10

Liberty (Criminals at Large)

A lame vehicle for lots of drawn-out, high altitude derring do. This film must've been incredibly dangerous to make, yet somehow it all becomes rather boring, rather quickly. 5.5/10

Night Owls
Night Owls(1930)

Brought a couple of minor smirks. It was watchable enough, very short and rather silly. 6/10

The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge)

Quite charming and very French, Le Ballon Rouge is a sort of fable of a film about a kid with a balloon that magically follows him around. That's it in a nutshell, but figuring out how the special effects people moved the balloon up, down, through doorways, windows, make it more like watching one long magic trick. All very agreeable. 8/10

O' Horten
O' Horten(2007)
½

Never in anyone's wildest dreams could this be described as a comedy. The poster is the funniest thing about it! One of the slowest, most tiresome, depressing films I've ever seen, I kept thinking I must be missing something somewhere. This can't really be it. The music was sort of ok, nothing was offensive and the subtitles were easy to read, but that's as good as it got. 5/10

Timetable
Timetable(1956)

Noir by numbers, Time Table somehow manages to have a fairly convoluted plot yet somehow avoid any intrigue, surprises or suspense. The beginning was reasonable, the ending was mildly exciting, but the middle 95% was very humdrum indeed. Even the acting was quite laughable in places. Fortunately, it was quite short. 6.25/10

La banda degli onesti (The Band of Honest Men)
½

Apparently, one of the funniest comedies in Italian cinema history. Don't get too excited though as this barely raised a smirk from me. Some of the comedy, such as getting Lo Turco's name wrong repeatedly, or the slamming of shop shutters on feet, was tiresome indeed. On the plus side, the direction is brisk and the plot is quite decent, with an amusing twist, for a mainstream 1950s comedy. Not altogether unlike The Lavender Hill Mob, I quite enjoyed it. Just about 7/10.

The Last Man on Earth
½

Kind of a Spaghetti Zombie film based on I Am Legend starring Vincent Price and hardly anyone else. Clearly low-budget but that's not necessarily a bad thing here, apart from the blurry old video tape they apparently used. It seems unsure whether they wanted the zombies to be vampires or vice versa, but they muddled through ok. First half was pretty good, then it fizzled out a bit. 6.75/10

Ikiru
Ikiru(1956)

This may not sound like a barrel of laughs, but Ikiru is certainly a lot less grim than one might expect. Slightly overlong and mildly reminiscent of It's A Wonderful Life?, Ikiru is still a masterful film with some very touching moments and a memorable message. 8.5/10

Sleepy Eyes of Death: The Chinese Jade (Nemuri Kyoshiro 1: Sappocho) (Enter Kyoshiro Nemuri the Swordman)
½

Not quite as good as the sequel - Sword of Adventure - but perfectly watchable. Where this falls down is that the plot is very difficult to follow for non-Japanese viewers and some of the fighting has a hint of balsa wood and wire work about it. All said though, the ending was quite exciting and at 80mins, it doesn't drag in the slightest. 6.75/10

Throne of Blood

Rather a blokey film that is quite samey for the most part with lots of sword-brandishing, galloping horses and general warmongering. The plot is fairly straightforward, cinematography always very good and the ghosty bits bring some much-needed humour. Mifune plays a blinder and the ending is very gripping indeed. 8/10

Stromboli
Stromboli(1950)

Another easily missable, miserable movie from Rossellini, set on the island around the volcano. The general premise isn't much, the plot isn't much fun and although I might've given it 6.75/10 for some decent volcanic effects and an earnest effort at being artistic, the horrible tuna-fishing scene and the even more horrible rabbit/ferret scene distressed and annoyed me so much I'm deducting a point. 5.75/10

The Hidden Fortress (kakushi-toride No San-akunin)

I've been waiting years to see the film that was allegedly 'the inspiration for Star Wars'. I thought Hidden Fortress was very good indeed, but not actually any more like Star Wars than any of these Japanese samurai films. A little overlong perhaps and the Fire Festival singing annoyed me a bit, but everything else was pretty great. 8.25/10

Sleepy Eyes of Death: Sword of Adventure (Nemuri Kyoshiro 2: Shôbu)
½

Rather better than one might expect. Sleepy Eyes of Death 2 - Sword of Adventure, is never boring, yet neither is it wall-to-wall fighting like a Jackie Chan film on E numbers. The intrigue, the rapid subtitles and raft of Japanese names can make the plot somewhat difficult to follow, but there's plenty there to entertain anyway. 7.5/10

Mogambo
Mogambo(1953)

Mogambo looks almost nice in wide-angle Technicolor, but nothing happens and even that happens slowly. Anything set in Africa with wild animals all around - as well as dense jungle, storms, guns, disease, natives, traps, heat, drought - must surely show some promise for an entertaining story, but this could just as easily have been set in a Bethnal Green chartered accountants' office for all the excitement and intrigue that Mogambo delivered. Not even worth watching if you're a fan of the three leads and some of the animals appear to get a raw deal too :-( Just about a 6/10

Girl with a Suitcase
½

The usual kind of wandering, Italian 1960s film that isn't really about anything but looks good and is nevertheless rather watchable. The sparse music was very welcome and the fight scene was unusually shot. I quite liked the slightly uncertain ending too. 7.25/10

The Hunger
The Hunger(1983)

A failure of style over content, this feels like an overlong version of one of those peculiar Xmas adverts for Tia Maria or Bacardi or something, with a few token lesbian vampires thrown in to pep it up a bit. Most of it didn't make much sense and the ending even less so. For all that, it was never boring and the 1980s-ness of it all made it moderately watchable. 6/10

The Eagle
The Eagle(2011)

I was half-bored throughout this film. The cinematography is pretty decent, the story is alright I suppose, the historical aspect is maybe a little suspect but I could overlook that. It's all a bit slow and unduly brooding until the fight scenes, which shake about like they were filmed on a mobile as Maximus Billius Elliottus cuts through the opposing armies of Ewok-people like an 8st tap-dancer through butter. To be fair, he was probably the best one in it as Tatum was totally charisma-free and I cared not a jot whether he found his golden dickie bird or not. 6.25/10

Anima Nera
Anima Nera(2013)
½

For a film that started off not seeming to be really about anything much, it quickly gathered in pace and complexity, becoming compelling for almost its entirety. The ending was a little unsatisfactory, but I still found this one of Rossellini's more accessible and enjoyable films. 7.5/10

Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa

Even some arty camerawork and decent direction couldn't save what was inherently a long-winded and unpleasant story. 6.5/10

Project Nim
Project Nim(2011)

A compelling, heartbreaking documentary that leaves you feeling disgusted at humanity, including the 'clever' people. Only 2 people in this whole film acted with any decency. Poor animals. 8/10

Mata Hari, Agent H21
½

Perhaps not the most cerebral or super-gripping spy film I ever saw, but certainly my favourite and most accessible of Truffaut's films. A dash of action and some old cars go some way towards keeping it interesting. 7.25/10

Hamlet
Hamlet(1990)

Yesternight, have I seen this goodly moving picture. Gibson hath made well a good fist of his leading, but many's another actor whom so spake ere a preceding line hardly ends. 'Tis they who doth denegrate the experience to little more than a charade methought. For a gratuity with a journal of a sunday, twas a near pleasurable gift. 7.75/10

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

One of the worst, lamest comedies I have ever seen. Not a single thing about it brought the slightest smirk. I toughed it out for an hour, but if I had turned it off after 2mins, that would've been more than plenty. The music was pretty horrendous too. 4/10 and I'm being generous.

Scarface
Scarface(1932)

Arguably more exciting and less seedy than its 1980s remake, this has some great action scenes, moody lighting and some amusing dialogue. In barely 90mins, it gets the 'power corrupts' message over very strongly. 8.25/10

The Amazing Spider-Man
½

Cinematically, quite stunning at times and the CGI came in not such long, tiresome gluts as it did with Man Of Steel which helped, but even so, there was rather a lot of it. The audio was wildly up and down so that I was deafened by the loud bits and couldn't hear the dialogue properly, as is usual for modern films. As soon as I heard Dr Connors with a UK accent, I knew he would be the baddy immediately and for me, the new cast just aren't quite as 'right' as with the Tobey Maguire films. Good, but not great. 7.25/10

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)
½

I was really enjoying this until somewhere near the end when the CGI and action became just a bit too much. It felt like watching Power Rangers on speed. It was never bad or boring at any point, just 'too much'. Superman seemed a bit unusual not changing in phone boxes, everyone knowing he's Clark Kent, wearing a sort of dull-coloured outfit without shorts, no Jimmy Olsen or Lex Luthor etc, but wasn't really any the worse for it. I enjoyed it once, I could watch it twice, but more than that would probably annoy me. A solid 7.25/10 for me.

Drive
Drive(2011)
½

Slightly atypical 'moody' Hollywood movie that is never boring despite the whole premise being rather improbable. Gets a bit yucky in places and some of the swearing would make Frankie Boyle blush. 7.5/10

Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia) (Strangers) (The Lonely Woman)

I watched Viaggio In Italia because it promised a few 1950s cars, a bit of Vesuvius, Naples and Pompeii plus I mostly like Rossellini films. This, however, wasn't really one of those. The story was incredibly slight, even for an 80min film. Nobody was particularly likeable and nothing much happened. I think there were some veiled metaphors in there somewhere regarding the statues, the catacombs and the couple, but I was too bored to see them. 6.25/10

Burmese Harp
Burmese Harp(1956)

The premise to this film is commendable and the cinematography is pretty good throughout, but everything else... it's long-winded, a bit repetitive, the flashback sequence is slightly confusing, the audio levels go up and down like crazy, the version I watched had subtitles out of sync with the audio and most of it was as miserable as hell. I just about went the distance. 6/10

The Dark Knight Rises
½

Not quite as bristling with assault rifles as Inception or the other Batman films, but still a bit nutty in places. Hathaway makes a pretty good Catwoman, Oldham's a perfect Gordon, Bale's ok, Caine's ok, Cotillard's ok, but Hardy is rather unfaithful to the comics as a strange kind of Bane. All that aside, it's the audio that really spoiled the film for me. With the volume up loud and ears like Daredevil, I could barely make out about 80% of what anyone whispered before some deafening gunfire came along. The plot is essentially Rocky III with an unnecessary extra hour slipped in. I quite enjoyed it, I might even watch it twice, but I wouldn't rave about it. 7.25/10

Michael Jackson's This Is It

I'm only a casual sort of MJ fan but this was pretty great for a kind of backstage documentary type of film. It had a few ups and downs, but the Smooth Criminal bit and the Thriller bit were quite brilliant. 7.5/10

Papillon
Papillon(1973)
½

Apart from a few brief exceptions, Papillon all seemed a bit 'acted' to me. Although never boring, I never got swept up in any of it. Some of the animals in it didn't look like they got a very good deal, the tone was mostly miserable and the whole thing quite overlong. 7.25/10

It Happened One Night

I had unduly high hopes for this being somewhere nearly as good as It's a Wonderful Life. The first hour is pretty brisk and mildly amusing, then in the middle there's annoying singing session from which it never really recovers. The none-too-strong plot rounds off with a telegraphed ending and there's really little that's particularly memorable about the whole film. 6.25/10

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

Looks amazing throughout, like a cross between Star Wars and Power Rangers but isn't actually about anything at all. The motorbikes are still cool though, even after all these years. 6.25/10

Green Lantern
½

Although the story is a bit like twaddle, the CGI and the looks of this film are quite fabulous throughout. There are some welcome breaks in the CGI and action, the music isn't annoying and generally, the whole film exceeded my not-too-high expectations. 6.75/10

Super
Super(2011)

Like a lower-budget and saddo version of Kick-Ass (2010)?, Super never really gets going until the end. For a 'comedy', the humour is fairly sparse, the lead is lacking plenty in charisma and the plot is very straightforward. I quite liked the opening titles though and Boltie was fun for a while. 6.5/10

Backlash
Backlash(1956)

Extremely mediocre for John Sturges. Lots of gunfire, lots of Apaches hollering 'wo-wo-wo' rather loudly and the brass section sounded like they worked harder than the horses who were tripped at every opportunity :-/ Behind all the noise, there was a watery plot not dissimilar to that of Star Wars in places and not a whole lot else. At 81mins, Backlash was fairly short, but I couldn't have lasted much longer. 6.25/10

Senna
Senna(2011)

Interesting. As a standalone film for the non-F1 fan, it was never boring. As a sort of summary of the 1980s and 1990s in F1 for petrolheads, it was rather anti-Prost, with hardly a mention of Senna's team-mates, Piquet or Mansell. As a documentary, it could've done with a little more artistic use of the tons of footage available. I'm a big F1 fan and this was good, but I still preferred Man On a Wire about tightrope walking. 8/10

Captain Clegg (Night Creatures)

One of the less-terrible Hammer films, this isn't really a horror film as such either, being more concerned with smuggling around Romney Marshes and general skulduggery to keep it going. It was alright if a little cheap-looking, Oliver Reed's action scenes were quite amusing, and the 'ghostly' horses were quite funny (especially when they forgot to wear their costumes!). 6.5/10

La Peau douce (The Soft Skin)

Very French indeed - plenty of smoking, old Citroens, faux intellectualism, two-timing and general sneakiness. For all that, it was pretty good if a little predictable plot-wise. The last 20mins were rather gripping for an 'arthouse' film and the 112mins fairly flew by. 7.75/10

Magicians
Magicians(2007)
½

Conjuring up nary a smirk from me with an irritating opening title sequence/music, half an hour of magicians was more than plenty. 4.5/10

The Man Who Could Work Miracles
½

Not bad at all. Rather like a 1930s UK version of Bruce Almighty with a better plot and worse special effects, although they were still pretty amazing for 1936. Didn't overstay its welcome either. 6.75/10

Modern Times
Modern Times(1936)

The 2nd Chaplin film I've ever managed to drag myself through, Modern Times is only 85mins long, but boy, do they seem like long minutes! Apart from a difficult-to-do-but-only-ever-so-slightly-amusing skating scene, the rest felt like an longwinded Chucklevision special for halfwits, filmed in b&w on an expensive set. The singing part at the end was so painfully boring, I felt like counting the stipple peaks on the ceiling. Being a silent film is kind of annyong too as many films were already talkies by 1936. Chaplin's alleged genius continues to elude me. 6.5/10

If....
If....(1968)

A bit too 'arty', too crazy, too unfunny and generally too slow for its own good. The first half of the film essentially just goes to underline how little fun public school is, but it's equally unpleasant for the viewer. There's a very brief interlude with a stolen motorbike which is the only highlight, before turning crazy again. The same hymn keeps popping up in the soundtrack and quickly becomes rather annoying. Just about a 6/10 from me.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I really wanted to see this, but within about 20mins, I was bored senseless. I gave it an hour and really watched it with my total undivided, but I just didn't care, at all. I found myself more interested in the 1970s Hungarian cars and the old London phone boxes. 6/10 for the cars.

Things to Come
½

For 1936, the visions for the forthcoming century are pretty imaginative and amusing. The planes, helicopter, WW2, flatscreen TVs, plastic and trip to the moon are not so far off the mark. Their clothes and the 'wandering' disease are quite hilarious though. A bit too crazy in places, so it's 6.5/10 for me.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
½

Far-fetched, overly long with annoying music, Capra and James Stewart in particular almost conjure up the magic of It's a Wonderful Life but instead come up with a naive, facile, 'good vs corruption' almost-Disneyesque political yarn. The first 10mins were really tiresome, the next hour was almost ok, the last hour was best, but still the rousing patriotism and 'one man can change the world' naivety annoyed me and made me feel like I was being taken for a dupe. Just about 7/10.

The Fourth Kind
½

I watched half of this, but for the life of me I couldn't tell you what it was about. From the very outset, this film was annoying in almost every way. Volume levels were wildly up and down, the scenes were disjointed and the dramatisation parts shared the screen with real-life footage, simultaneously yet extremely pointlessly. 3/10 as I'm feeling charitable.

Twelve O'Clock High
½

All very solid and well-made, but rather more office-based than one might expect, with only a brief spell of (real) aerial dogfights towards the end. Long too, and a bit of a yawn. Never did understand the thing about the Robin Hood character jug either. Just about 7/10.

Yellow Sky
Yellow Sky(1948)
½

Never boring, but never particularly exciting either. Yellow Sky starts off rather miserably with a lizard and a horse getting shot :-/ but after that it becomes much more watchable. An alright 7ish out of 10.

The Goat
The Goat(1921)
½

Generally, pretty good. Plenty of action, a few amazing stunts and some moderately amusing humour, all in 22mins. It just needed a few more goats in it. 7.25/10

I'll Never Forget You (The House in the Square) (Man of Two Worlds)

I like a good time travel yarn and one set in London should be good, right? Almost. The notion that a man can pop back from 1950 to 1800 and back again is all very merry, but he does it by being struck by lightning on his doorstep!? How does the lightning know which dates to use? Why doesn't he just turn to ash? How does he know when and where the lightning is due? Kind of a giant plot hole that's difficult to overlook. Apart from that, the rest of it isn't wildly exciting anyway. 6.5/10

The Curse of the Werewolf

Very slow until Oliver Reed arrives about halfway through, bringing with him some much-needed werewolf action. The last 5 minutes were quite amusing, and there are some funny goats making human noises at times, but it really wasn't enough to sustain any real interest or suspense. Barely 6/10.

Cash On Demand
½

Starts off looking rather boring, but is actually rather a clever plot (which I imagine inspired a few real-life bank robberies!), briskly paced with a very clear print for 1961. I particularly liked Colonel Gore. A good 7.5/10

The Gorgon
The Gorgon(1965)

A very clear print was about all this had going for it. The pace is snail-like. I watched this during a thunderstorm to add a bit of creepiness and it was still as unfrightening as can be. Yawn. 6/10

The Phantom of the Opera

A Hammer Horror version of Phantom that turns out to be nowhere near as bad as one might expect. The Phantom's mask is a bit rubbish and they seem to have forgotten the story should be set in Paris, but everything else is perfectly decent. I enjoyed it rather more than I ought to. 6.5/10

Larceny, Inc.

Apart from a few tiny smirks, there's little to recommend this. It's dated in the extreme and is barely a notch above a bad Three Stooges film. Even though it's meant to be a farce of some sort, the plot is tiresome and ludicrous with the luggage salesman especially irritating. 5.5/10

The Browning Version
½

I didn't expect this film to be Sharknado, and sure enough, after 20mins, I was close to falling asleep. Luckily, the plot picks up quite intriguingly near the middle, Redgrave's acting is brilliant throughout and by the end, I was almost on tenterhooks. Only 'almost' though as despite all the clever parallels with Agamemnon's story and emotional side to the story, not enough actually happens with the plot. Although genuinely moving, I found the ending rather unsatisfactory both in promise and in realism. 7/10 for me.

Three Came Home
½

Quite a pacy telling of a fairly well-worn story about the Japanese invasion of Borneo during WW2. Claudette Colbert seemed so watery and dreary for a lead that my sympathies quickly shifted over to Colonel Suga - a much more entertaining Japanese officer 'with a heart', especially towards the end. The very ending is corny but all in all, not bad. 7.25/10

Saboteur
Saboteur(1942)
½

One of Hitch's rarely-aired films made during WW2 about a saboteur on the loose in US, getting up to naughty tricks in LA, Soda City and NY. Not quite the '3000 miles of terror' it claims on the poster, as this is a bit over-long and only exciting during the action scenes. The blind man was a great character though. 7.25/10

Vera Cruz
Vera Cruz(1954)

Apart from some amusing double-hammy acting by Burt Lancaster, Vera Cruz is pretty humdrum. The plot is perfectly linear, there's a lot of shooting, horses rolling over and forgettable music. On the plus side, it's short, amusing at times and you do see some Aztec pyramids which makes a change. 6.75/10

The Kid with a Bike
½

Very much a Belgian neo-realist film without the slightest hint of Hollywood in it. It's short, watchable, interesting enough, but I couldn't really see any existentialist metaphors behind what is essentially a very straightforward story that ends unexpectedly abruptly and rather unsatisfactorily. 7/10

Night People
Night People(1954)

What a drag that was! The attempts at humour were so weak as to be hardly discernible, and the intrigue of the plot so drawn out that although I could just about follow it, I could hardly wake myself up enough to care. No action to speak of, no real music apart from a horribly random-sounding opening theme, not much of anything really. 5.5/10

Night Has a Thousand Eyes
½

A nice idea for a plot, realised reasonably well. This would benefit massively from digital remastering as the audio was very mumbled and the picture wasn't too sharp either. Maybe even a remake would be a good idea. It'd probably be an easy 7/10 then, but as it stands 6.75/10

The Social Network
½

Not quite as interesting as one is led to believe, the main problem with this film is the audio. Zuck has a very rapid, generally mumbled way of speaking that almost nobody can follow unless they know what he's talking about already. The way the plot jumps to and fro is well done, and Timberlake makes a good job of playing a creep (probably not much of stretch). My over all impression wasn't quite a "like" but more of a "meh" and that everyone involved were like a nest of vipers. 7.25/10

The Wanderers
½

A bit like a cross between Grease and Quadrophenia - neither of which I liked much, but this isn't bad at all, especially if you like old cars. It may not stick in your memory forever, but it was enjoyable enough while it lasted. 7/10

Harry Brown
Harry Brown(2010)
½

Starts off rather horribly and turns boring for the next 15mins, but if you manage to stay with it beyond that, this is a fairly decent film. It's a bit like a modern-day The Equaliser, with Michael Caine using what he learned from the Zulus, Batman and Get Carter to clear up Lewisham. Even Channel 5 peppering it with adverts didn't manage to totally ruin it for me. 7.25/10

I. D.
I. D.(1999)
½

A bit like a low-budget, fictional, English, footbally version of Donnie Brasco. If you can see past the "wasn't he in Grange Hill?" questions that keep springing to mind and the wall-to-wall swearing, it's not a bad film for all that. It's a shame the Shadwell football team is fictional, which along with a few Rada luvvies, Mockney accents and a few Emmerdale punches, detracts a little from any would-be realism. 6.75/10

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)
½

This started off rather well, without the expected whizzbang editing, annoying music and wall-to-wall fight scenes. Unfortunately, they saved those for the end. Essentially, Iron Man 2 is really Rocky IV with more CGI and worse music. Fits in well with the Avengers, Thor, Captain America and all the other Marvel much of a muchness, so if you like those... I may just prefer Rocky IV. 7.25/10

Those Glory, Glory Days

Even though I like football as much as anyone, and I have a soft-ish spot for Spurs and classic cars, this was tiresome in the extreme. Wall-to-wall Mockney accents, painful singing, a lame premise and zero action meant that I could only endure half of it. 5.5/10

Lock Up
Lock Up(1989)
½

I didn't have high hopes for this, but it turned out fairly watchable in the end. It's a bit like Rocky, First Blood and Daylight all rolled into one, with some Rocky IV-esque music too. It's not particularly taxing, and Shawshank Redemption it ain't, but it's not so bad either. 6.75/10

They Live
They Live(1988)

They Live has a low-budget, cult movie feel about it throughout. I love the parts with the view from behind the sunglasses and a few of the lines made me genuinely LOL. That said, it's a great idea rather squandered as the film slowly descends into a Rambo-esque shoot-'em-up towards the end. 7.5/10

Unknown
Unknown(2011)

Despite being quite blatantly a Mercedes advert throughout, this was surprisingly captivating. The plot was sufficiently complex and mysterious to hold my attention for the 113mins and the whole film was rather reminiscent of Taken which I also liked despite my better judgement. Unusually for a modern film, there wasn't an inordinate amount of car chases, explosions and blipvert editing. Recommended. 8.25/10

Love and Death

Never more than weakly amusing, this did bring an occasional inward smirk once or twice despite some terrible, tiresome scenes. Fortunately, it isn't a long film and the Russian aspect to it makes a change for Woody. 6.25/10

Thor
Thor(2011)
½

Pretty much what I expected really - amazing graphics, lots of fighting and things blowing up, crazy story and not much of it. If you like Flash Gordon, you'll probably love this. I don't and I didn't. It was alright though, especially visually. A bit more humour would've been nice. 7.25/10

Madagascar
Madagascar(2005)

I unfortunately saw 10mins of this before the Boat Race which was 9:59m too much. Possibly the most irritating thing I ever saw, including the GoCompare adverts. And they wonder why kids have ADD these days? 0/10

Fish Story (Fisshu sutori)
½

Kind of like a crazy Japanese version of Donnie Darko, only it makes less sense until the end, when it all suddenly comes together. The "Fish Story" punk song becomes a little annoying after the fiftieth time, but otherwise, this film is never boring and quite amusing in places. The ferry sequence and the clever ending lift this up from being mediocre. 7.5/10

A Beautiful Mind
½

A moderately interesting story which isn't really film material, and which drags a bit even for the maths-minded. The typical Ron Howard tearjerking moments leave me typically unmoved. With decent acting from all concerned - even Russell Crowe almost convinces me as a non-gladiator type despite not writing his algebraic x properly - and some of the best 'old' makeup I've ever seen, this is still just about watchable once on a quiet Sunday night. 7.5/10

Guizi lai le (Devils on the Doorstep)
½

As one might expect, this film isn't a barrel of laughs, even though there are a few chuckles to be had in the first half hour. Later on, the camerawork becomes a little chaotic, the 'party' scene is particularly rapid and other parts rather slow. The last minute or so was in colour for no apparent reason, after the preceding 99% had been in b&w. All a little weird and not especially pleasant, even if I did learn a little history and a few new Chinese swear words. 7.25/10

Limitless
Limitless(2011)

A fairly straightforward story, told well with plenty of style and a smattering of humour. I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

Made in Dagenham

Perfectly watchable, but never wildly exciting. Some of the 'they're just like one of us' chavvy exploits at the beginning intended to gain empathy with the viewers rather put me off, making me glad I'm not from Dagenham. Considering the law changed in 1970 but the working classes' pay inequality remains just the same, Ford are gone from Dagenham and the unions are gone too, the big 'victory for the workers' ending seems rather a damp squib. 6.25/10

On the Beach
On the Beach(1959)
½

Long-winded, dreary and unwaveringly miserable, it's quite an achievement for the makers to somehow put together a mega-budget, star-studded film featuring a nuclear war, yet still make it a total drag. Some iffy camerawork, languid direction and making the ropey music 50x as loud as the dialogue probably didn't help either. I managed to last 80 minutes, but I couldn't go the full 120. Yawn. 5.5/10

Fellini's Roma
½

A rambling bunch of mini-films, entirely without plot and mostly with much sense either, Roma is rarely boring, but never very coherent either. Rather like with La Dolce Vita, a few classic cars, a few original expletives and mildly amusing lines do little to prevent Roma from becoming quite annoying by the end. Just about 7/10.

Adieu l'ami (Farewell, Friend) (Honor Among Thieves)

A bit like a low-budget French version of Ocean's Eleven, with plenty of weirdness thrown in. The dialogue is always unnatural, somewhat akin to that of a dodgy Spaghetti Western, the fight scenes are worse than many in Emmerdale and the unfathomable plot lulls in a big way around the middle. Despite some interesting scenes of 1960s Paris and plenty of classic French cars, it felt rather a hard slog to see this through to the end, which I just about managed to do, despite myself. 5.75/10

Baarìa
Baarìa(2009)

A long, comprehensive saga of a film spanning about 7 decades from the 1930s to almost the present day. Beautifully shot throughout, it's quite remarkable how the actors play characters with such a wide age range, but they manage it brilliantly well. Story-wise, this wants to be a political version of Cinema Paradiso, but somehow lacks the emotion or appeal, or brilliant music despite Morricone writing the score again. The ending is rather peculiar too. After 2hrs 22, it seemed rather like they ran out of film or something, quickly tying it up with a brief arty montage about a spinning top. There are a few brief nods to Paradiso and Malena which were nice touches, and Baaria was never boring, but I wouldn't want to see it again. Some brief scenes of animals not being treated well rather marred any enjoyment too. 7.75/10

The Jericho Mile
½

Directed by Michael Mann, this has a hint of Miami Vice about it, with some musical scene-setting montages and plenty of jive in the dialogue. Being from the 1970s, the audio was a little muffled and some of the prison colloquialisms didn't exactly help, but the story was enjoyable enough with a kind of "I'm Spartacus" twist towards the end. A perfectly watchable 7.25/10

General della Rovere (Il generale Della Rovere)

As usual with Italian 1950s-60s films, this isn't a barrel of laughs, but it is very powerful and intelligent. De Sica brilliantly plays a likeable chancer who becomes embroiled in the seriousness of his surroundings when 'asked' by the Germans to impersonate the accidentally-executed General della Rovere He soon lives out the part so well, he becomes as much of a General as the General was. At 2hrs 12m, this isn't a short film, and I felt it sagged a little in the middle after a great start, but the ending made up for it. An easy 8/10.

Girl on a Motorcycle (1968)
½

Like an overlong, trippy Harley Davidson advert from 1968, this film has almost nothing going for it. The motorbike scenes are occasionally well shot, but are more often from the back of a trailer or with laughably upright back projection. It's never really offensive, never boring, just not really about anything. Seemingly, this film is all about rebellion and angst, but the 'crazy' fondue night was the nearest it ever came to adventure. It seems to want to be a Euro 'Easy Rider' for girls, but totally misses the point. I only managed to watch half of it and I wanted to turn it off after 10 mins. 3/10

Wind Chill
Wind Chill(2007)

Rather like some kind of Twilight Zone special, this was not as bad as I expected it to be. The simple premise works well and the 'horror' aspect is rather more creepy and ghostly than yucky out-and-out horror, so I saw it through to the end quite easily. Although I never really felt like it was dragging, this always felt rather slow. Some of the snow looked a little polystyreney too... 6.25/10

Shadows and Fog
½

Looking like a cross between Gotham by Gaslight and The Phantom Raspberry-Blower of Old London Town, Shadows and Fog is not as enjoyable as either of them. The lack of colour, brightness or contrast hardly does it any favours, it's slow, none of the jocular lines really hit home, the story doesn't really seem to be about anything and the 'big ending' is hardly anything. Considering the cast, this is disappointing in every way - never gripping and always seems acted. I fell asleep halfway through it the first time, and I wasn't even tired. Maybe it's a blindingly clever parable for something that passes me by, but that suits me fine. 5/10

Of Mice and Men

Allegedly a classic, the plot mainly revolves around Lon Chaney playing a cross between Frankenstein and the village idiot from Heartbeat, only in a more tiresome way. Curly is a similarly one-dimensional baddy whose wife - the only woman in the film - has unhappily married him for feeble unconvincing reasons. Slim was an almost interesting character, mostly unused. In the middle of the film, there is a tear-jerking episode involving the shooting of an old dog which was so horrible, I couldn't really care for the film beyond this part. The 'climactic' ending is a clumsy parallel of that, but it just didn't wash with me. I think the whole moral of the story was that retarded people like Lenny should be euthenased before they cause any harm, which is rather repugnant too. All in all, not a lot to recommend it. Steinbeck has gone flying down in my estimation. 6.25/10

Rooster Cogburn

This is very much True Grit II, being pretty much identical in plot to True Grit, only now with the young stubborn girl on a vengeance mission replaced by an old stubborn woman on a vengeance mission. Hepburn is meant to irritate throughout and she does rather too good a job of it, irritating the audience too. The dialogue isn't quite as snappy as before and John Wayne is past his best here. Rather boring and quite irritating at times. 6.5/10

The Hitcher
The Hitcher(1986)
½

Maybe not the brainiest film you're ever likely to see, but simple though it is, there is a smattering of style about it. It's compelling enough, not too long, slightly surprising and mildly amusing in places. 7/10

Ace in the Hole (The Big Carnival)

Starts off pretty annoying with Kirk as a wise guy reporter from NY, but slowly develops into a clever and compelling satire on the news reporting industry and in turn, people's mawkish interest in bad news. Especially topical this week, this really opens the viewers' eyes to real-life events. 8/10

Transsiberian
½

Much better than I expected it to be, Transsiberian is pretty mysterious throughout. Apart from a couple of moments of incredulity, and a little flashback 'spelling it out' for the hard of thinking, the general location and novelty of the scenario made for a very watchable film. 7.5/10

The Seventh Continent (Der Siebente Kontinent)

Strange, boring, miserable, and whilst it may border on faintly intriguing at times, it's never interesting. The long takes are often deadly dull, the zoomed-in shots, the lack of dialogue, the drab sets and locations, the black pauses... yawn, yawn, yawn. Leaving the tropical fish to die in a puddle on the floor was hardly going to endear an already terrible film to me. 4.5/10 minus 1 for the fish = 3.5/10. Quite possibly the worst film I ever have seen all the way through. Avoid.

Captain America: The First Avenger
½

I expected this to be like Iron Man, with wall-to-wall 'in yer face' CGI, but instead it was more reminiscent of Rocketeer, with CGI used apparently fairly sparingly until the end when the action became rather hectic. Some nice touches with the Trifleugel and other forgotten Wunderwaffen, some silly motorbikes, surprisingly artistic cinematography and a reasonable cast, all go to make Cap perfectly acceptable family/blokey Boxing Day fare. 7/10

Marvel's The Avengers
½

If I was about 10yrs old, I'd think this was the coolest thing imaginable. The CGI - and there is rather a lot of it! - is pretty stunning throughout. I like the main theme & end theme music. The end credits, like those for Captain America, are really well done. All these things, I'd give 9 or 10/10. Loki, his evil chums and the metal lobsters from the sky are all rather too Power Rangers to scare anyone. The fight scenes go on forever. They could end in 5mins, they could drag on all day - it matters not. The plot is fairly straightforward/stupid and doesn't warrant a 143mins running time. Although I smirked a few times, sharp dialogue was pretty thin on the ground. Hawkeye was a bit lame. The audio levels went up and down like crazy. All this, I'd give 5/10. I really wanted to love Avengers Assemble, but I just couldn't, so 7.25/10.

Blithe Spirit

Disappointing. Other than the annoying unrealistically rapid dialogue, the script is verbose, the character of the medium is extremely irritating and the whole thing is very cosy and dated indeed. It's from 1945, but it could just as easily be Victorian. The basic premise is almost amusing and might make for a decent comedy if it was remade and written for a modern setting. As it stands though, it plays like a cross between Randall & Hopkirk and Rentaghost, but not as good as either of them. A tiresome 6/10.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

After half an hour, I was thinking: "I heard this was supposed to be good, but it's all meatheads slapping each other about" at which point I almost turned off. Fortunately, my guess that this was going to be a slightly downmarket wrestling equivalent of Rocky VI came true, and despite a rather soulless quasi-documentary style, the film picked up quite dramatically. The acting is all top notch, but for me, the subject matter of faded glory when applied to wrestling isn't quite as powerful as when applied to boxing. Where Rocky has a quite brilliant soundtrack, this has (mercifully short) bursts of AC/DC which didn't help, a fair bit of family-unfriendly swearing and a none-too-uplifting message. I wouldn't watch it twice. 7.25/10

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
½

Quite well made, well acted, well written but rather lacking in fun. A story about a Japanese prison camp in Java is necessarily quite miserable, but there just isn't much let up with this. There isn't much "Christmas" about it and virtually no "Merry" at all. Although Conti, Bowie and the Japanese actors do their best, the end result is rather miserable and missable. I'm not even totally sure what it was all about. 7/10

On the Waterfront

It's Spartacus for dockers, with a sad bit of Kes thrown in. I know this is supposed to be Marlon Brando's big moment, and yes, he was very good throughout, but the real star of the show is the direction. In the wrong hands, this could easily have been ruined. Johnny Friendly made a great villain too, even if he did become rather a pantomime baddy by the end. A great film to watch once, but I doubt many people would watch it repeatedly. 8.25/10

The Bravados
The Bravados(1958)
½

Quite humdrum and average for the most part, although perfectly watchable. The ending was surprisingly un-formulaic and non-Hollywood, and there are a few chances to brush up on your Spanish, but even so, I wouldn't say it was bursting with rip-roaring excitement. 6.75/10

Mike Bassett: England Manager
½

A film of two halves, this starts off quite weak and fizzles out quickly. If you don't turn it off after 20-30mins during England's qualifiers, the pace improves ever so slightly when England reach Brazil. The jokes don't though - for me, it was only the slight nostalgic value of seeing Ronaldo, Pele' and that bloke who used to present the sport on Anglia, that made it halfway bearable. I was going to rate this 4/10, but I'll reluctantly admit to smirking slightly at Atomic Kitten's appearance and just being reminded of the halcyon days of On The Ball with Gabby Logan & Barry Venison is surely worth another half a star. Like an England penalty shootout, 5/10

Play It Again, Sam

I remembered this quite fondly from having seen it twenty-odd years ago and it still stands well today. The plot line is straightforward enough, but the Casablanca references and especially some of the comedy moments lift it well above average. The 80mins fairly flew by, with plenty of small chuckles and one unexpected guffaw towards the end. It also reminded me where that "mineshaft explosion" line came from that I've been using all these years. Funny and clever. 8/10

Scoop
Scoop(2006)
½

A gentle mainstream Woody Allen comedy which is more entertaining for its original and fairly inventive plot rather than for especially sharp dialogue. I smirked here and there at a line or two, tThe plot was reasonably pacy and although I guessed a few of the twists, there were some minor surprises. I think most people would enjoy this, but nobody would really go crazy for it. Agreeable enough. 7/10

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg)

Apart from a rather catchy repetitive phrasing in the music, Deneuve's appearance for about half the film and a few classic Simcas, there is really little to recommend this. Quite unique in its operatic style it may be, but the super-predictable plot could easily be written on a postage stamp in thick marker pen. It is actually almost identical in basic plotline to Cinema Paradiso, only that is brilliantly powerful and entertaining in parts whereas this is mostly not. As an 'opera', this doesn't quite work either - the music is well crafted, almost like Verdi at times, but the banal French lyrics simply do not fit well, are often innapropriate in mood and tone, hurting the pace and mood of the film too. The English translation in the subtitles could've been sung along just as suitably, and for that matter, so could the Chinese, Finnish or Togalog. Apart from the two male leads, the singing is pretty whiny and annoying. I had to watch this in several parts, and even then, I almost had to force myself at gunpoint to see it to le fin. 5.75/10

The Damned (These Are the Damned)
½

For the first half hour, this looks like some almost promising version of Brighton Rock or Quadrophenia set in Weymouth. It's not great, but apart from the terrible prevalent theme music, it's ok. Lots of classic cars and bikes, interesting scenery, very clear audio/b&w print on this DVD. After that, the Hammer 'pedigree' shines through and the movie becomes a nonsensical metaphorical 'horror' film that neither scares, thrills or interests. A decent cast and a reasonable budget have been sadly squandered here and it was as much as I could do to pay any attention to the last hour or so. 5/10 or maybe 5.5 if I came from Weymouth.

Red Cliff (Chi Bi)
½

As you might expect, this 148min epic starts off with wall-to-wall battle scenes between thousands of soldiers for no especially good reason. Although every frame is beautiful shot, I did grow quite weary of this footage quite quickly. Luckily, all this 'spectacle' calms down after a while to be replaced by some much-needed dialogue instead. Even though I was paying my undivided, I found it pretty difficult to tell who was who and which side they were on. I wasn't crazy about the zither jam sessions either. For me, the most interesting thing was seeing how Chinese technology compared with Western technology in Roman times. There was nothing particularly 'wrong' with this film - it looked great, it sounded great, nicely directed, well-acted, it even looked pretty factual - but somehow I didn't really find myself caring too much about how it turned out. 7.25/10

The Odessa File
½

Somehow this old film has managed to elude me even though I keep an eye out for Frederick Forsyth adaptations. This is no Day of the Jackal, but there are a lot of similarities in its intrigue and complexity. Equally, there are a lot of classic cars, old UK actors popping up and a few plot parts I don't quite believe in either. For a film entirely set in Germany and Austria, surprisingly few people speak German in it. The German feel is conveyed fairly well without too many reminders of Allo Allo, but the seriousness does lapse a few times. The 'big twist' at the end felt rather obvious and the action wasn't wildly exciting either, so it's a solid and efficient 7/10 from me.

TT3D Closer To The Edge
½

For a documentary film, this is pretty riveting. I'm a bit of a fair weather bike fan, least of all the TT, but wow, was this exciting at times! If you watched this on a big screen in 3D, you'd probably drop your ice cream. The picture quality is really crisp, even from the on-board cameras. Happily, the audio isn't peppered with brainless music as motorbike films often are and the editing isn't super-rapid either. The riders' back stories in the first half of the film are all nicely done (even though if you're not from Northern England, you probably won't understand a word Martin says), and the actual races in the second half are quite mesmerising at times. It'd probably help if you're a bike fan or a Guy Martin fan to watch this, but anyone with a pulse would surely find it exciting. Knocks the faux-excitement of many Hollywood films into a cocked hat. 8.75/10

Big Nothing
Big Nothing(2007)
½

Being a cheapo indie 'made in UK' kind of movie, I really wanted to like this, and I suppose I did a bit. The plot contained a few clever surprises early on, then the twists really became just that bit too tangled and farcical, but I suppose that's forgivable for a black comedy such as this. "Pegg is hilarious" as it says on the cover is rather over-egging it perhaps but he's alright, as are the rest of the cast, even if I do yawn every time I see Schwimmer in anything. Quite a bit of the dialogue was rather lame, but at least the choice of soundtrack music was refreshingly wacky, even the German(!) bit. Big Nothing doesn't overstay its welcome, so you'll probably quite like it. 6.75/10

The Day of the Jackal

Any film that features lots of classic 1960s cars, filmed in France & Italy, and 'stars' an Alfa Romeo Giulietta has a good foundation. Fortunately, the rest of the film isn't bad either. The pace is good, the stunts are quite exceptional and story, unlike most Forsyth adaptations, isn't bogged down with politics detracting from the impetus of the plot. There are rather a lot of old British actors playing Frenchmen without even a hint of Allo Allo accent though, which kind of makes the viewer forget this is meant to be taking place in France. Otherwise, very good.

Charade
Charade(1963)
½

I usually quite like these sorts of 60s caper films, but Charade had too many twists and turns for its own good, becoming quite farcical and tiresome towards the end. Some of the twists didn't really wash with me and they didn't make the ending any less predictable either. I sat through this for my Mum's sake - she fell asleep for about an hour in the middle and still guessed the ending to the letter. The sneezing bloke was totally irritating, Audrey Hepburn was annoying many a time and even Cary Grant had a few rough moments, probably deciding this film wasn't such a good idea and then muddling through. There were a few suspenseful moments, but the whole left me feeling rather more annoyed than pleased at having watched it. 7/10

Robbery
Robbery(1967)
½

A bit like a cross between The Sweeney and The Italian Job, this starts off very well indeed with the first 15mins consisting almost entirely of exciting car chases between lots of Jags and long-forgotten British cars. The rest is quite inevitably a bit of an anti-climax, until the actual robbery which is somewhat marred by horrible 60s incidental music, mumbled dialogue and a few none-too-credible turns of plot. Watch the first 15mins. 6.75/10

Burke and Hare
½

"Outrageously funny" it says on the box. Hmmm. If you look past the dubious premise, this film looks almost ok on paper. Don't be taken in - it isn't. Apart from looking very atmospheric, with the whole 1820s period very well done, there is pretty much nothing else to recommend it. Laugh? I thought I'd never start. Not the slightest of smirks. Not one. I did chuckle twice at the trailers preceding the film, but not the main feature itself. The whole subplot with Ginny's play is extremely irritating. The main plot is faintly interesting in its historical basis with a few little asides about Darwin and penicillin, but otherwise, this is very missable indeed. 5/10

Tunes of Glory
½

It seems that I'm in a minority of one with this film, but I don't care. From the very outset, this film bored me rigid. Everything about it from the pantomime over-Scottishness of it all, the silly military regimentality, the lack of anything happening, the 'comedy', just everything. I fought on despite myself but by halfway, I had to give in. 5/10 if I'm being generous.

Ching yan (The Beast Stalker)

Despite "Beast Stalker" featuring no stars that I had ever heard of, this was one of the best modern Asian films I've ever seen. It wasn't jam-packed with violence, shooting, fighting and car chases, yet it was never boring for a moment. The acting felt pretty compelling and the subtitling was perfect (as far as I can tell). The plot seemed to slightly lose its way toward the end as if they might be making it up as they went along, but the twist at the very end was really rather clever. 7.75/10

Goal II: Living the Dream

Rather formulaic with product placement shouting Audi/Siemens/Adidas/Real Madrid at me throughout, I did somehow see past that and almost enjoy what lay beyond. The football match scenes were very well done, becoming nearly tense at the end. Some of the use of subtitling was a bit odd, as Spanish or Mexican characters spoke English when you wouldn't expect it and vice versa. A tiny bit more humour might've been nice, but the whole is perfectly watchable, especially if you don't expect too much or you like football, Real Madrid, Arsenal and seeing players of what will soon be a bygone era. 6.5/10

Salvatore Giuliano
½

For those that don't know, Giuliano was like a 1940s Sicilian cross between Robin Hood, William Wallace and Che Guevara. Sounds like an ideal basis for a film? One might think so, but this 1962 effort isn't it. The direction and even the cinematography is all over the place, a chronological mish-mash that soon shakes off even the most ardent viewer. Apart from that, the story itself seems rather a miserable, tragic tale of in-fighting between countrymen, without the empathy so need for the protagonist found in movies such as Spartacus or Braveheart. For Italian historians only. 5/10

Carlito's Way

This is a lot like a Scarface spin-off with a dash of Miami Vice thrown in, which is no bad thing. The story was a little predictable in places, and perhaps 144mins is a bit too long, but it was never boring. All the leads played their roles very well. I enjoyed it more than I expected to. 8.25/10

Shadow of a Doubt

A little slow to get going, a little formulaic, a little predictable. Some of the supporting characters are pretty irritating too, but the leads are almost mesmerising for such an old film. Shadow of a Doubt fits in perfectly between the earlier Suspicion and the later Strangers On a Train, as it is almost half of one and half of the other. I prefer those two, but this is entertaining enough. 7.5/10

San suk si gin (The Shinjuku Incident)

Much better and more intelligent than any other Jackie Chan film that I've ever seen, this is darker and very serious in tone. The action scenes are fewer and apart from a quite chaotic ending, the Japanese-ness adds nicely to the flavour. A very watchable 7.75/10

Charlotte Gray

Kind of like a soppy version of Zwartboek 'Lite' that most mums would quite enjoy on a Sunday afternoon. Although Cate Blanchett does a very decent job of not sounding Australian and France looks very French throughout, the fact that this film is completely in English, yet set mostly in France 'wiz ze Frenchie acsonts' means it all comes across as a little too Allo Allo to be taken seriously. The plot is fairly predictable, the tension and action somewhat lacking, considering it's a WW2 film. You probably won't fall asleep through it, but Where Eagles Dare this ain't. Comme çi, comme ça - 6.5/10

Duel in the Sun
½

They ought to rename this "Dull in the Sun" as it was dull, dull, dull. Apart from a few wonderful horses, and a mildly amusing episode with some jam, nothing much happened and it all happened very slowwwwly. The 'big' showdown at the end was as lame as can be and I was already bored silly an hour before it arrived. 5.5/10

Le samouraï
Le samouraï(1967)
½

In some ways this is like a French equivalent of Get Carter - 1960s, stylish, about an urban hitman. This is arguably slightly better. The style is more pronounced, and the plot, especially the ending is quite surprising in places. I think it might've benefitted from slightly more dialogue and/or music at the beginning, but I still enjoyed it. Well recommended.

The Road (La Strada)
½

Clever, sensitive, emotional and all the other things this may be, it had just too strong a hint of fable about it for my personal liking, especially in Gelsomina who was almost a pantomime character. I much prefer the more heartfelt, realistic misery of Notti di Cabiria which just shades La Strada in my eyes. As ever, this b&w post-war Italian turns out not to be a barrel of laughs, with a slightly limp ending, but it's still a near-perfect capolavoro. A maudlin 9/10.

Villain
Villain (1971)
½

Much better than I expected it to be. Villain contains some amusing lines, pacy direction, a decent plot, lots of classic late-60s British cars and a fair few action scenes, all well done. Richard Burton doesn't quite convince as a Londoner, but his role is not too stern a test. In 1971, I imagine this was a strong Cert18, but nowadays, it wouldn't raise too many eyebrows. One for the lads, rather than your granny though. 7.5/10

The Big Combo

Big Combo it may be, but it was also quite a sizeable yawn. There were a few amusing scenes, such as those that involved the hearing aid, but generally this was just an over-convoluted yarn that wasn't particularly compelling, despite revolving around a memorable villain in Brown. The cinematography was decent in places, the music was mostly loud and annoying, script a bit hackneyed, action sparse. Watchable enough, but easily missable too. 6.5/10

Operation: Daybreak
½

Although this has a cheapo made-for-tv feel look about it, apart from some quite terrible 1970s music, Operation Daybreak is actually pretty good. The true story is worth telling, filmed competently well in the actual location, with some quite exciting action sequences. The version I saw had Czech subtitles which didn't exactly help, and it may not be a barrel of laughs, but even so, I quite enjoyed it. 7/10

The Bride of Frankenstein

Rather more funny than scary, every scene with the monster is good fun. I laughed out loud several times. The creepy b&w gothic atmosphere is perfect - just how a horror film should look. Justifiably a classic.

Keep Your Seats, Please
½

Despite its age, and despite a few lame gags, I laughed quite heartily many a time at this, more than I do for many modern comedies. The sequence with the goat is quite hilarious. Young kids will surely love it. 7/10

White Heat
White Heat(1949)
½

For its time, this is a really pacy, exciting crime caper film. Cagney is totally compelling throughout, but the plot, a few snappy lines and direction are equally key in making this one of the best 'old films' around. 8.5/10

The Time Machine
½

Not the very terrible modern version with Samantha Mumba, this is the much funnier 1960s version which follows the book fairly closely. Although it doesn't start too lively, when our time traveller reaches the 801st century and the Morlocks appear, things become quite hilarious. On discovering the Morlocks' underground hideout where they turn the Eloi into McNuggets, our hero fends them off with a box of matches and throws some Emmerdale punches that wouldn't knock Rivaldo over. The special effects throughout are pretty ropey, but it's a fun family film that tries to hang onto some of H G Wells' original profundity. 6.5/10

Faccia a faccia (Face to Face)

I think there was a good film in there somewhere, but the version I saw was quite washed out in colour, the audio was very muffled and mumbly (what with the dubbing too!) and after about half an hour, I was quite fed up with it. I saw it through to the end, but I have no idea what it was about and even Morricone was having a bit of a goal drought with this soundtrack. Would probably be pretty good with digital remastering, but as it is 6.5/10

No Limit
No Limit(1935)

The actual TT race part of this film is quite brilliant for the time and genuinely almost exciting. The stunt riders must've been mad back then. Unfortunately, the hour or so leading up to the race itself is rather dull, with scattered singing. Nowhere near as funny as Keep Your Seats, Please, but sort of amusing in a different way. Apart from Silver Dream Racer, I can't think of any other MotoGP-related films so this is about as good as it gets. 6/10.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring
½

Simple, beautiful, timeless. For me though, it was rather too simple, not quite beautiful enough and it dragged on about 20 minutes more than it needed to. If it hadn't been marred by the usual Asian dash of animal cruelty, I could've liked this film a bit more than I did. The singing at the end rather got on my nerves too. Still the best Korean film I've ever seen though. 7.25/10

Sin City
Sin City(2005)

Tiresome. Apart from the stylish looks and artistic 'comic book' direction - I especially like the car driving scenes - the straightforward plots, the violence and the general yuckiness soon become very wearisome. After about 40 minutes, I had seen more than enough and I usually quite like comic book films. Just about 6/10

Jet Li's Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (Legend of a Fighter)
½

The plot to Fearless, being based on a true story, unfortunately comes in clumps. At the beginning, there are lots of fights in one clump (a few of which are a bit silly and almost put me off continuing), then there's a lot of not very much where Huo Yuanjia is planting rice in the paddy fields, then there's the big ending where he comes back to finish up with one big fight, which is actually the beginning again because the rest of the film was told in a sort of long flashback if you see what I mean. Ordinarily, I would've thought this a fairly humdrum martial arts film going through the usual motions, but as it is true, the Gladiator-esque plot is quite extraordinary. Visually, it all looks impressive too. 7.5/10

Ossessione
Ossessione(1943)
½

I really liked The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), so I expected an Italian version to be pretty good too, and it is. This is quite different in tone - being very Italian and neo-realist, with everyone poor and sad as usual - so plays almost totally differently apart from the main plot thread. Unfortunately, the print is rather grotty in places and the music at times reminded me of The Clangers, but apart from that (especially if you haven't seen the '46 version), there is plenty to keep you interested. A digitally repaired version with better subtitles would be an easy 8/10, but for me, the one I saw was a 7.5/10

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster

Surprisingly, I really liked Ip Man 1, it being a true(ish) historical biopic set in the 1930s. I expected rather less of Ip Man 2 but was pleasantly surprised. It started well with atmospheric opening graphics titles and music. Although there are rather a lot of fight scenes, there was just enough other stuff to keep me interested and the whole England v China showdown at the end was like a very well-made remake of Rocky IV which really had me rooting for old Ip even though I'm English. Donnie Yen is absolutely perfect in both films. Very good. 8/10

The Thing from Another World
½

I was led to believe that this was a sci-fi classic, but oh dear, it is quite woeful in almost every way. The flying saucer under the snow is never shown and glossed over and the alien inhabitant is encased in ice for some time, so when you finally see him, he is very disappointing. He reminded me of the monster in Young Frankenstein, only about half as scary. Anyway, there's a lot of silly military talk for most of the film and even the scientist is irritating. How he didn't laugh when he discovered the creature is of vegetable origin - a super-evolved carrot! - is beyond me. Later on, they talk of carrot people armies and it becomes sillier than Rentaghost. Maybe if they actually looked like carrot people, it would've made a great comedy? Apart from a shiny DC3, some nice huskies and a very mad stuntman in the fire, there is little to recommend this. Avoid. 5.5

The Getaway
The Getaway(1972)

The first 20 minutes are boring, with an annoying machine that keeps deafening the viewer for no good reason. Even after that, I still found it difficult to pay attention for a while. Fortunately, despite a few plot holes and general silliness, the action picks up dramatically in the last hour. It's a shame there isn't more non-gun-related action as there easily could've been with a little more imagination. The driving scenes are almost exciting, if a little unlikely, but the 'big ending' didn't really deliver. For such a well-known, tense, suspenseful film about a bank heist, I found it surprisingly uncompelling. 6.5/10

Quadrophenia
Quadrophenia(1979)
½

The whole Mod scene told with quite a late-70s punk slant as Daniels rebels against everything, smashes stuff, gets together in Brighton with some Rada luvvies for some Emmerdale-esque fights and generally feels hard done by for being a thorough idiot. It has a few memorable moments, quite a lot of The Who product placement and a strangely dubious moral to the story. It only really left me feeling a yearning for old cars, radiograms and Lyons Maid ice creams though. If you liked this, you'll probably like This Is England slightly more, as I did. 7/10

Run Lola Run
Run Lola Run(1999)

Slightly reminiscent of Amelie in its own experimental style - only being German, Lola Rennt is obviously a bit grungy, humourless and uglier. With more guns and hostage-taking than in Amelie, this is not exactly a feelgood movie either. The imaginative direction does make it very watchable and interesting in its own way (especially as it's so short) as Lola's life is re-run three times with slightly different results. If you like this, you'd probably like Tru Calling slightly more which is a 'nicer', more polished version of the same thing. Recommended. 7.75/10

Battle: Los Angeles

Possibly one of the most mindless films I've ever seen, this is like playing Modern Warfare 3 whilst riding around in a tumble dryer for 2hrs. Although this is ostensibly set in LA, it might as well be Naboo as everything is almost totally CGI, mostly shooting or blowing up. The aliens are rather unimaginative, yucky and bristling with Kalashnikovs (no, they didn't even dream up some exciting death rays), the people aren't much better. I'm not entirely convinced that the villains of the piece are the aliens and not the movie moguls who think the peasant populace will enjoy this junk once they are inured to wall-to-wall super violence from lantern-jawed meatheads. Utter tripe. 4/10

The Invisible Man

Although rather short and not especially faithful to the book, this is a very enjoyable romp. For 1933, the effects are quite brilliant at times, the picture/audio is remarkably clear and the first 20-30minutes is hilarious in places. The innkeeper's wife plays a great harpy and Rains himself is about as good as he could be. Very watchable. 7.75/10

Otoshiana (Pitfall)

Unfortunately, not based on the old Atari game of the same name, this is a preposterous film full of ghosts and doppelgangers to propel a lame plot in an arty way. Maybe there is some sort of pretentious metaphoric undertone, but it passed me by. When the kid pulled a frog apart soon after a mention of "dog stew", I was completely turned off, but even so, there wasn't much else to recommend it. There was even dirt on the camera in a few scenes. Quite rubbish. 5.5/10

The Astronaut's Wife
½

Not quite as bad as I expected it to be, but very nearly. The main problem with this film (apart from a daft premise) is that the audio is very quiet, everyone whispers, then the music is very loud. As the scenes are mostly dark, it's quite hard to see them too. Not ideal. Otherwise, for the most part, this film 'looks' pretty good and is never really boring, just a bit tiresome. The watery end scene is definitely the best bit, probably because you're so glad the end is coming. 5/10

The Last Adventure
½

The version I watched had very ropey subtitles and the picture wasn't brilliant either, but even so, I still quite enjoyed this slightly odd film. It starts off well with some quite mental aeroplane stunts, old cars, dragster, motorbike and 1960s Paris. Then it gets a bit strange, the plot picks up as the action moves to the Congo, then comes back to Fort Boyard where the ending is pretty exciting. There certainly is plenty of "adventure" in it and there is an air of coolness at times, with the whistling music and arty direction. Recommended - especially to those that don't usually go in for French films. 7/10

49th Parallel (The Invaders)

I thought this strange that the Germans were played by English actors, and they didn't even attempt a slight Herr Flick accent, but once you come to terms with that peculiarity, the rest of the film is pretty entertaining. Laurence Olivier makes a decent attempt at playing a French Canadian, funny/irritating though his character is. There's plenty of Canadian scenery, complete with esquimaux and indians. The propaganda is laid on with a trowel towards the end, but it's never boring for a moment and is often quite exciting. 7.5/10

The Mechanic
The Mechanic(1972)

I've never seen a Michael Winner film and somewhat reluctantly gave this a try, seeing as it seemed to be full of classic cars and motorbikes. Sadly, almost all of these needlessly explode or tumble off cliffs, thereby detracting from the otherwise minimal plot and transparent feeble twist at the end. Might just about be good enough for broadcasting in the middle of the night, but I'm knocking half a point off for wrecking a nice Alfa. 5.5/10

White Nights (Le Notti Bianche)
½

Quite a simple, fairytale story by Dostoevsky, becomes a beautiful if a little slow, film by Visconti. It starts off well, and every so often there is a glimmer of action to catch your waning attention, but it's only really the end scene with the snow that shows cinema at its best. For the most part, I was somewhere between bored & irritated by Natalia's longwinded history and general kookiness, and the ending was quite improbable and predictable. 7.5/10

Silver Dream Racer

This starts off rather badly with a very obnoxious but well-funded and successful US racer (loosely based on Kenny Roberts?) and his poor but ambitious UK counterpart (loosely based on Barry Sheene?) who has an old Transit van and a day job in a regular garage. This general set up is rather lame, slightly unbelievable and so is much of the acting and dialogue for the first 2/3rds of the film. Anyway, once things pick up and the actual 'big race' gets under way, the film actually becomes quite exciting. For what looks very much like a 1970s film, some of the stunts are very good (but hardly shown) and every effort seems to have been made with the bikes & tracks. The ending came as a genuine surprise! A lot better than I expected it to be. 6.5/10

Battle Royale
½

An interesting idea for a film (perhaps for government policy too?) realised in a very odd, stylish, Japanese way. The beginning with the school, the instruction video and everyone getting grudgingly sent to the island with their exploding necklaces is quite amusing, but then the whittling down of the contestants slowly becomes a bit samey, mindless and yucky. 7.25/10

Inglourious Basterds
½

On the face of it, this couldn't appeal to me less - Tarantino, Brad Pitt in a fictional war film with bad spelling. I was as surprised as anyone to actually quite enjoy this. While Tarantino does his best to make this look European with subtitles, foreign actors and added artificial colouring, it still feels quite unmistakably American. Kruger, Laurent and especially Waltz are all perfect in their roles. Brad Pitt on the other hand... To be fair, the role itself plus his stupid over-affected accent grate almost immediately. There are some turns of Tarantino-esque dialogue which riled me a bit, his usual extreme body count and the length of the film is rather self-indulgent. The Morricone music is quite brilliant at times, the special effects are top notch, Mike Myers didn't feature too heavily (always a good thing) and even the plot is fairly clever, considering. 8.5/10

Coco Before Chanel
½

Hardly my cup of tea, but as I generally like biopics and French films, and having spied a rare classic car in the trailer, I gave it a whirl. As it says, it really is very much life "before" fame and is not dissimilar to La Môme, although this - apart from the brief bouts of singing - is far less annoying. The acting is all pretty good, cinematography too, and unusually for a French film or a Hollywood film, the English character is only an ambiguous villain! Surprisingly ok. 6.5/10

12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men)
½

Quite brilliantly written, and for a film which doesn't look wildly exciting, well acted and directed too. The only real shortcoming for me was that the 12 jurors were slightly unrealistic caricatures and that the case they were discussing was apparently so full of holes, I can't believe 12 randomly selected people would come in at 11-1 against anyway. While it is a thought-provoking film, it only provokes thought in a narrow field of life that most(?) people ought to think about anyway. Otherwise, it's near perfect. 8.75/10

Una Pistola per Ringo (A Pistol for Ringo) (Ballad of Death Valley)

This dog's dinner of a film starts well with a decent theme by Morricone, a couple of half-amusing moments and lines, and there is a quite clever plot in there somewhere too, behind the ropey direction and the lame dialogue. Gemma isn't the most charismatic hero imaginable and Sancho isn't the most amusing of baddies either. The stuntmen falling from high buildings through balsa wood railings are wasting their time as something about this film just keeps the viewer at a distance, never really gripped even in the action sequences. Easily missed.

Eyewitness (Sudden Terror)

Somewhat akin to a poor man's Day of the Jackal, this is an unusual British film being set entirely in Malta. The plot must've taken 5 minutes to write on the back of a beermat, but there is an attempt at some arty cinematography and the whole thing, thanks to some quite exciting action scenes, is watchable enough. 6.5/10

Paisan (Paisà)
½

Having now seen all of the Rossellini trilogy, I can safely say this was the weakest of the three films. Paisan is a string of 6 short stories charting the Allies' progress from Sicily, via Naples, Salerno, Rome, Florence, to Venice. The first few shorter vignettes had a certain charm, but the last two were longer and rather a drag. The ending was especially sudden. The picture quality was hardly 3D Blu-Ray either, and occasional white subtitles on a white background didn't help much. If you feel like watching any of these three, quite disparate WW2 films, opt for Roma Citta' Aperta. 7.5/10

The Face of Another (I Have a Stranger's Face) (Tanin no kao)

Highly rated for reasons I cannot fathom, The Face of Another is a bit like The Invisible Man with some surprising similarities to the Jim Carrey film The Mask thrown in, although this is far less fun than either of them. The special make-up effects in this are quite amazing for the 1960s, the slightly arthouse cinematography is pretty good and the subtitles are almost impeccable for much of the film. I liked the doctor's lab too, which was strange and retro-futuristic. All said and done though, there wasn't enough story or emotion in it, the sub-plot (and many other parts) just didn't make sense and despite never really being boring, I found myself struggling to see it all through. 6/10

Shane
Shane(1953)
½

A nice enough western, but oh so predictable and formulaic. About 2 minutes in, I guessed what was going to happen but hoped for more. Sure enough, that's what happened. The standard barroom brawl were quite entertaining and the scenery, animals and moderate realism was very welcome. At 118mins though, I think it could lose 20-30 mins without any problem, making it seem much livelier. A slightly disappointing 7/10

Divorce Italian Style (Divorzio all'italiana)

Amusing in places, with some clever plot twists and ending, this is an interesting tale of cunning and manipulation well told. The inclusion of La Dolce Vita as a 'lewd' film which Mastroianni's character goes to see at the cinema was a nice touch (considering he's in it), but in general, it was difficult to feel too much empathy with the 40-yr-old Baron who wants to bump off his wife so he can marry his 16-yr-old cousin, no matter how charismatic and clever/devious he might be. As such, the whole film felt a little unseemly and quite lightweight compared to its contemporaries. 7.75/10

They Might Be Giants
½

George C Scott gives it his best, and the general premise is quite an amusing original one, but everything else about this film is quite irritating. After a few gentle smirks near the beginning, the fun soon fizzled out. Dr Watson is extremely annoying and the whole thing felt like a stage play. It took all my stamina to tough out the first hour, but I couldn't soldier on any further. 5/10.

I Wake Up Screaming

I generally like clever noirs and this was highly rated on IMDB so I gave it a whirl. The plot was quite cleverly convoluted (apart from one major hole which totally spoiled it for me), the acting was ok, the print and cinematography were good for its age, the sharp dialogue didn't sparkle quite as much as it needed to and the music was kind of annoying. A bit of action, a dog, a few classic cars, anything, would've helped quite a bit, but alas... 6/10

Arabesque
Arabesque(1966)

Some arty direction and peculiar camera angles start this thriller off on a good footing, then come some amusing lines, a bit of intrigue, some classic cars and scenes of 1960s London. There's a scuffle in London Zoo which is moderately exciting, then it all gets a bit silly. The wrecking ball scene is quite exciting if totally unbelievable and by the time the final denouement comes with the Arab and the combine harvester(!), you'll probably be as glad as I was it was all finally over. 6.5/10

Saturday Night And Sunday Morning

In a similar vein to Billy Liar, this is another of those 1960s b&w grim Northern British films, only not quite so Northern and grim being set in and around the Raleigh bicycle factory. On the face of it, I didn't expect much, but it was actually very enjoyable, well-written, amusing in parts (the airgun episode in particular) and tense in others. Seeing England in a hard-to-imagine era with British cars, when pubs weren't closing down, manufacturing was booming, empty roads with parking spaces everywhere was an unexpected bonus. Well worth watching. 8.5/10

Simón del desierto (Simon of the Desert)

Mad and maddening, this is the first Buñuel film and first Mexican film that I've ever watched. It may also be the last, as it was terrible from start to finish. Full of religious crazy talk, this made no sense whatsoever to anyone sober. The only high points for me were the brief appearances by some goats, a very strange dwarf and an exploding toad. I kid you not. The dubious quality of the subtitles' translation probably didn't help, but this still felt like the longest 45mins of my life. Avoid.

Umberto D
Umberto D(1955)
½

A very bittersweet masterpiece by De Sica, even more bittersweet if you're any kind of dog lover. Battisti is quite brilliant in the eponymous role and his dog Flike deserves an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Despite being very Italian and 1950s in nature, the story is a universal one, even in modern times. I was gripped from start to finish and only just about held back the tears towards the end.

The Fly
The Fly(1958)
½

"Help Me..." is the best bit of what is a fairly humdrum 1950s sci-fi flick. Even so, it's quite amusing in places and metaphorically, arguably more topical now than it ever was. Agreeable enough.

Open City
Open City(1946)
½

It may look old and crackly with sparse subtitles, but don't be put off. For a film obviously made on zero budget with non-professional actors, the neorrealism, storyline and especially the subtle nuanced direction is quite brilliant when viewed just casually or examined in greater depth. Germania Anno Zero is very good, but this is even better - shockingly powerful in places juxtaposed against smatterings of humour, often thought-provoking, compelling and thoroughly emotional throughout. You won't forget this for a long time.

The Last of the Mohicans

This reminded me of Age Of Empires III and it wasn't far into the film before I was wishing I was playing that instead. The plot is obvious from very early on, pivoting on some very unlikely happenings. The script - at least what I could make out amongst the mumbles and the music - skips from melodramatic 'big talk' to deadly dull, which is a shame because the action sequences were very well done, if you're into plenty of violence. Cinematography, costume, attention to historical detail etc all seemed pretty good, but it just wasn't enough to stop me from being very bored after about half an hour. I might not get this on Blu-Ray. 6.5/10

Captain Horatio Hornblower
½

The sea battles were quite exciting and very well done for 1951, being not far short of the much more recent Master & Commander. The plot was ok, despite a few oversights and even though it could do with 10-15mins trimmed out of the middle, I enjoyed it more than I expected to. 7.25/10

Bad Day at Black Rock

I usually find John Sturges films pretty great and this, although short, is no exception. The plot is very straightforward, and quite predictable too, but something about the little bursts of action kept my interest until the reasonably exciting ending.

The Long Good Friday

Probably the closest thing there is to a British Goodfellas. This plays like a spin-off to The Sweeney, which is no bad thing - Jags, Rollers, flares, shotguns, non-PC and dated slang, London sights - all at quite a pace. For me, Hoskins rather overdoes his part, but I suppose the film appears better for it. Even the very-80s Streethawk incidental music works well, and the ending is quite exciting. Enjoyable, if a bit unseemly.

Trapeze
Trapeze(1956)

I've never much liked circuses, clowns, lion tormentors or sad bears riding bikes, so "Trapeze" may not seem like the perfect film for me. It started off looking like Rocky for trapeze artists, but then it became a drawn-out love triangle, wobbled around in the middle 20 minutes longer than it needed to, and by the end I was pretty much shouting "come on Tony, do the triple and let's go home". Not bad, not good, but very middling.

Machine Gun Kelly
½

I liked this in almost every respect except for (i) a slightly lame ending (ii) the maltreatment and tormenting of a puma in a cage, which for me marred the film in a big way. It was difficult to empathise much with Bronson's character as a loveable rogue, but I guess the real Machine-Gun Kelly was hardly the Easter Bunny either. Quite short and perfectly watchable. 7.25/10

Le Notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria)
½

It's just like Pretty Woman! Only with more heart, emotion, style, art and intelligence. I've seen a few Fellini films and never quite appreciated why he is rated so highly until now. Masina is perfect in her role and the linear-but-meandering storyline is full of deft touches and clever undertones. I wonder what happened to Cabiria afterwards...? And d'Artagnan too, of course! Quite brilliant. 9.5/10

Django
Django(1966)

With about as much 'style over substance' as such a low-budget, badly-dubbed film can muster, the grubby, muddy, cold look and feel of this film is one of its strong points, setting it apart from 1960s Hollywood westerns and the Dollars trilogy. The fist fights are rather oddly filmed, with the cameraman seeming to partake in the brawls. The plot is decent enough with (perish the thought!) a tiny twinge of romance and I really like the music too. Perhaps a bit overviolent for some people's tastes, but I found it tastefully toned down. A fun Euro western.

I Giorni dell'ira (Blood and Grit) (Day of Anger) (Gunlaw) (Days of Wrath)
½

"I Giorni dell'Ira" is an odd Spaghetti Western. Somehow, even though the music is quite good, the plot is pretty decent, the usual dodgy lipsynching is expected, there is just that little je ne sais quoi missing, probably somewhere in the acting and direction. All said and done though, I still enjoyed this and I'd rate it as about my 6th favourite Spaghetti Western. 7.5/10

Rambo (Rambo IV)

Errr... horrible. I vaguely remember quite a hoohah when Rambo II came out in 1985, about how superviolent it was. That looks like the Care Bear Movie compared to this! If you get past the first 3 horrific minutes, it sort of picks up. The cinematography is actually quite good, there is some arty direction/editing at times, maybe even a bit of a story and message in there somewhere behind the gory effects. I think the very ending was intended as some sort of nod to anti-war sentiment, but generally I was just horrified by what passes for almost-mainstream entertainment these days. Yuck.

The Incredible Shrinking Man
½

Considering the inherently silly premise, I suppose this is quite well done. The giant props, especially the dripping water, mousetrap and the perilous situations are quite believable. However, the lead actor is hardly lovable, so when he goes toe-to-claw with the cat, I couldn't help rooting for the cat. The ending was rather sudden and disappointing too. Kids would probably like it. A bit. Maybe. 6.5/10

Kiss Me Deadly
½

Apart from some very shiny classic cars and a plot so twisty it borders on unfeasible, there is little to recommend this. Direction is rather slow, cinematography average, music is fairly ropey and with a very irritating character in the car mechanic, you'll be hard pushed to see this through to the spectacular and unbelievable ending. 6.5/10

Passenger 57
Passenger 57(1992)
½

Like the Steven Seagal film that Steven Seagal didn't fancy doing, Passenger 57 races from one improbability to the next. In places though, it is unintentionally quite hilarious and Liz Hurley plays a blinder as a highly improbable posh hijacker, skipping around with a gun like a silly kid. She is staggeringly bad at acting, even in this exalted company. As usual, all the baddies are British or French. Despite myself, I still almost enjoyed it in a post-pub Cobra kind of way.

Repulsion
Repulsion(1965)
½

Bordering on boring, this is a very strange, semi-disturbing film following someone's gradual descent into insanity. Hardly, Mary Poppins then. All the male characters are portrayed as sleazy scumbags, whether real or imaginary, it is difficult to ascertain. Unfortunately for them, Deneuve is more dangerous than Jet Li riding a tiger, so they all come to (equally imaginary?) sticky ends. I'm sure there are some intentional metaphoric undertones but examining them would quickly turn you into a fruitcake. The direction is a bit languid, there are scenes and lines of dialogue that could easily be edited out and the music sounds like a Bagpuss LP on slow. On the plus side, the sixties-ness of London, Deneuve, classic cars and an amusing busker playing the spoons.

Kind Hearts and Coronets

I'm not the biggest fan of Ealing comedies and this looks like one of the more stuffy ones. Don't be put off though, as despite its age and slightly languid pace, the plot is quite brilliant towards the end. Chances are that hearty belly laughs will be few and far between, but I found it amusing and entertaining enough.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

A little-known gem of a noir, this benefits from being told in a straightforward linear fashion. Andrews is slightly reminiscent of Cagney and the fight scenes are well done. The 87mins playing time fairly flew by.

Criss Cross
Criss Cross(1949)
½

I like a good noir, and this so nearly is one. The last half hour was really quite exciting, but the first hour was hampered by back-to-front storytelling which confused rather than enlivened. I didn't find Slim, the bad guy, especially menacing either. It just lacked that little extra sparkle in the plot to lift it above 7/10.

Ningen no joken I (The Human Condition I) (No Greater Love)
½

A 3hr b&w Japanese WW2 film might not seem like everyone's cup of tea, especially as it's the first in a trilogy, but believe me, this is 3hrs well spent. Hardly a moment drags. It reminded me slightly of Spartacus, only more artful even than that brilliant film, with perhaps a dash of Casablanca and Endurance thrown in. The character Kaji is someone that many of us can strongly identify with, and brilliantly played too, as he goes through his various trials of character. Some of the fight scenes may be slightly Emmerdale-esque, and maybe a small laugh or two wouldn't go amiss, but apart from that, this is quite definitely a compelling masterpiece.

Double Indemnity

A film about an insurance fraud may not seem the most spectacular thing in the world, but this lives up to its reputation and stands the test of time well. Chandler's plot here is king - convoluted enough to keep you guessing without becoming farcical. Edward G Robinson is as good as ever and everything else is capable enough.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Apart from endlessly shaky camerawork even when nothing much is happening, and perhaps a few little overlook-able plot holes, this is pretty great as modern films go. The action sequences - fighting, motorbikes, driving, free running - are all quite stunning and almost breathlessly exciting. This 3rd film in the trilogy also, thankfully, makes more sense than the previous two. If you only watch one of the three, watch this one. 8.5/10

The Science of Sleep
½

Mad and irritating in the extreme, Bernal does his best with what is a weak idea dragged out to excruciating lengths. The little bursts of animation are sort of charming at first, then as they grow irritating, the 'time machine' arrives and makes them doubly so. Flitting between English, French and Spanish means it rather falls between three stalls and the comedy elements are some way from sophisticated. It is on these where the script needs to be best that it flounders most painfully. My favourite part was the horse at the end, but maybe that was just because the end was in sight.

The Machinist
½

Maybe not a Xmas afternoon kind of a film, but it is quite clever and intriguing. Bale plays the part marvellously well, but after all the mystery and twists, I wasn't wildly excited by the denouement. Basically, what happens is quite obvious and the remaining, more mysterious, details are rather glossed over. I'm not sure it needed to be quite so Cert18 to achieve the plot either, so only a 7/10 for me.

Sherlock Jr.
Sherlock Jr.(1924)
½

The detective story to this is very slight indeed, being really just a vehicle for Keaton's stunts and cinematic innovations. These must've been pretty mindblowing in the day, and even now, some of the stunts looks madly dangerous. The early comedy was tiresome and the weird sudden ending spoil it somewhat, but the motorbike stunts alone make it worthy of a 7/10.

The Stone Tape

Recently released on DVD, I was really disappointed with just how bad this is in pretty much every respect. Acting, sets, storyline, script, direction, music, everything. It had all the dramatic tension of Rentaghost and even the old cars weren't in it long enough. After about half an hour, I had to give up. 4/10 if I'm feeling charitable.

Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)
½

If you're quite old, quite drunk or quite easily pleased, you might quite enjoy this. I'm not and I didn't. Well, at least the first half I didn't. It was so bad, it felt like Doc Martin: The Movie with a few of the jokes taken out. Somewhere in the middle, when the spaghetti western music came on, I warmed to it slightly, even though it really just reminded me how much better the Dollars trilogy is. Towards the end though, this film improved dramatically, around the time of Cat Stevens and I suppose the ending was quite good. *wrinkles nose* Still over long though.

The Bourne Supremacy

After about 20mins of nothing very obvious going on, this settles down to being more of the same action/mystery mix as Identity. The Russian car chase is very well done and must've kept 50 stunt drivers in work for months, and there are some clever plot touches here and there. I even quite like the Moby theme. All in all, I suppose I enjoyed it, but towards the end, the juddering camerawork, blipvert editing and overdose of machismo that makes Rambo look like Rosie & Jim, did begin to wear a little thin. Jason Bourne ought to forget about Treadstone and hunt down the editor!

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)
½

Nowhere near as horrific and gory as the hype might lead you to expect, this is actually a pretty imaginative telling of a very simple story, pulled off about as well as it could be. While the viewer may feel some sympathy for the protagonist's predicament, it is difficult to stop yourself from thinking "Fancy doing that! What an idiot!" almost constantly throughout. The Scooby Doo appearances were a much-needed amusing touch, but overall this film is interesting and memorable but hardly mind-blowing. Once is enough.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (Nostradamus)

This starts well and the first hour is somewhere between interesting and fascinating, allowing for a certain amount of dodgy translations, reading between the lines and general codswallop. The last half hour concerned with 1981's present & future are strangely accurate then quickly descend into utter craziness. A curate's egg of a documentary, but still quite interesting.

The Big Gundown

Whilst this may not quite reach the heady heights of the Dollars trilogy, this is still a very good spaghetti western. Most of the great elements are there - the Morricone score used in various guises throughout, the same grubby non-Hollywood look and feel, Lee Van Cleef is his usual self, Cuchillo Sanchez makes a great villain and a decent plot that ends with a big showdown. Sollima may not be Leone, but he's capable enough. I enjoyed this much more than I expected to, especially as the version I watched kept slipping into Italian 'ogni tanto'. With a bit of digital remastering and a few audio repairs, this could be pretty great.

The Bourne Identity

Much better than I expected it to be, this wasn't all fights, wall-to-wall explosions and James Bond-esque car chases. There were a few though - I'm not sure a Mini would squeal quite so much on wet cobbled roads, and the ending was rather too silly even for The Transporter - but on the whole, it held my interest and apart from the usual up-and-down sound levels, wasn't annoying. I'm not sure the plot totally made sense, but it wasn't exactly brainless either.

Tarantula
Tarantula(1955)

I suppose for its time, the special effects are pretty good (even if the tarantula's feet don't always touch the ground!). The main plot and build-up are humdrum going on boring apart from some unintentional humour, then the last 20mins are almost exciting and action-packed, before the very end comes as rather a letdown. 6/10 if I'm being generous.

Daylight
Daylight(1996)

With more explosions than a Casualty Xmas special, visually (fx) this is pretty amazing for pre-CGI days. Unfortunately, script-wise and plot-wise, it's very humdrum indeed and the constant shouting makes it feel like Jeremy Kyle: The Movie and grates quite early on. It's a perfect after-pub or bank holiday film, when you're a bit drunk, not exactly concentrating and looking for a bit of a laugh. Kids would probably quite enjoy it too.

Ghost of Frankenstein
½

Oh dear! I liked Bride of Frankenstein, so I was duped into watching this. It starts off quite amusingly but soon fizzles out in a big way. Even at just over an hour long, I was glad when the end came.

The Killing
The Killing(1956)
½

I generally like noirs and this Kubrick film about a complex heist at a horse race looked promising. The first half, about the planning, the characters and setting up the plot wasn't wildly exciting, but the second half with the actual heist itself, although slightly back-to-front in the telling at times, was pretty great.

Stalag 17
Stalag 17(1953)
½

I heard this was highly regarded, and plot-wise this is pretty great. Unfortunately, there is so much lame comedy along the way (although I will admit to smirking at the white Xmas and moustached wrestler lines) that I almost turned it off before the plot really got under way. Some of the acting looked like it was from a Broadway musical too, but all said and done, this was still reasonably entertaining.

Good Morning (Ohayô)

This is quite an unusual, yet somehow very mundane film with a peculiar line in very gentle Japanese comedy. The cinematography is terrible at times, the pace is fairly slow and a lot of the dialogue is longwinded. However, it did have a peculiar charm on occasions and the general weirdness of the film and 1959 Japan just about held my interest until the happy ending. I also learned not to eat powdered pumice stone!

The Lavender Hill Mob

I've heard this is the best Ealing Comedy ever, which sounded like a boast akin to 'the highest mountain in Holland', but this one is actually very entertaining. I wouldn't go as far as to call it much of a comedy, but the plot brings a mild smirk now and again. The scene at the Eiffel Tower and the car chase are almost exciting and I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

Sunset Boulevard

Any film that features an Isotta Fraschini can't be bad, and the rest of it is pretty good too, especially if you like noirs as I do. It reminded me at times of Great Expectations, with a smidgeon of Rebecca and a dash of The Addams Family, which is no bad thing. A little overlong maybe, but certainly stands the test of time well.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

This runs very much like a pastiche of Spiderman, and starts off very well - the first half was entertaining, gripping and contained a few 'laugh out loud' moments. There are hints of Jonathan Ross scattered throughout which were welcome touches. I liked the theme music and the esoteric choice of soundtrack songs. However, when Hit Girl makes her appearance in the film - although brilliantly played by the actress - the film turns slightly unseemly and a bit over-violent, even for a jocular comic book film. The ending makes Scarface look like Watership Down and I was mildly disappointed to see a sequel already written into the first installment. Still a fun evening's viewing, albeit a fairly brainless one.

The Others
The Others(2001)

This looks like the film that M Night Shyalaman never made, and probably should have. Without any CGI or anything exploding, this is a short, intelligent and surprisingly gripping film with a couple of clever twists. Recommended.

Double Take
Double Take(2009)

A clever if impossibly-ambitious concept, using many 1960s clips to illustrate some rather odd coincidences between the life of Alfred Hitchcock, one of his London lookalikes, his films and the Cold War. As a bunch of assorted disparate clips, it's never really boring, but as a whole, it doesn't really work. Mildly educational and fairly watchable.

Clash of the Titans
½

Perhaps I'm a bit simple, but I quite enjoyed this, possibly due to some kind of rose-tinted nostalgia for seeing the original on holiday as a kid. Where this stood above many modern films is in the audio, which seemed to have been balanced so well, I could hear what they were saying AND not get deafened by the sfx. The CGI was used fairly sparingly and subtly (at first) and the Medusa scene was almost exciting. Even if the Ancient Greeks did sound a little Australian, English, Irish at times, I think most kids would love it and most adults could at least tolerate it.

Son of Rambow

For something purporting to be a comedy, the funny moments are not as funny as they need to be, and they come ever so infrequently. The 'lovable scamp' thief kid is not at all lovable, and the best moments come from Stallone. I turned it off after 40 minutes and would much rather watch First Blood instead, which is, ironically, much funnier!

A Christmas Carol
½

Alastair Sim is perfect as Scrooge, but some of the ghosts are a bit lacking. Marley's ghost appears more mad than scary, and while Xmas Present is good, Xmas Future doesn't really seem to do anything. Time has taken its toll on the film's print too. Other, earlier films are much sharper than this and the colourised version is especially wishy-washy to watch, which is a shame. Still one of the best adaptations around though.

City Lights
City Lights(1931)
½

This must've been quite good in its day, and even now, the pace isn't terribly out-of-keeping with modern tastes. The storyline, however, is rather too twee, predictable and linear to hold any real interest beyond about 20mins. The statue scene was fairly imaginative, if still rather too Chucklevision for my tastes. The boxing scene was tiresome. The car driving scene was almost exciting but unfortunately too short, and the last minute or two was, I suppose, the best bit. 'Nice' but so very obvious.

Inception
Inception(2010)

I knew this film was going to have a complex, overlong and needlessly-overconvoluted plot, much like Memento and The Prestige. Sure enough it did. I was rather disappointed at how little I cared about it when I realised everyone's dreams within dreams still seem to be bristling with Hummers, car crashes and assault rifles, and the ultimate goal(s) of the film didn't really seem such a big deal to me. You could probably cut & paste scenes between Dark Knight & Inception without anyone noticing the difference. Visually and technically, this film is quite amazing, but there are other films such as Mirage, Spellbound, Source Code which do much the same thing, are quicker about it and consequently far more enjoyable. 7.5/10

Germany, Year Zero

Much like a German version of the Bicycle Thieves, and almost as good in its own grim way. All semblance of humour is removed and wartorn Berlin doesn't look quite as picturesque as wartorn Rome. Somehow the focus on the boy, Edmund's, difficulties isn't quite as endearing as that of the father/son combination in Bicycle Thieves. Rossellini shows his class though. 8/10

Kurotokage (Black Lizard)
½

Black Lizard is easily one of the weirdest films I've ever seen. It starts off like a noir Kabuki pantomime version of Murder on the Orient Express, with a dash of Hammer Horror and House of Wax thrown in. At times, it is 'high art' and at others, quite trashy. The plot reads like a crazed pervert's fantasy, yet as it plays out it is surprisingly almost mainstream and watchable in a Japanese kind of way. It's never boring, but certainly not for everyone.

La vie de château (A Matter of Resistance)
½

Well-paced and entertaining, La Vie de Chateau isn't boring for a moment. The plot is relatively clever and the funny bits are actually almost amusing by French standards. The last few minutes are rather strange, and without some of the more farcical elements, this could've been a very good film. As it is, it's still well worth watching.

Invaders from Mars

Quite terrible, even by 1950s sci-fi B-movie standards. The aliens are hilariously bad and the ending 'twist' with the 'whole film recap' is especially disappointing.

One Touch of Venus

Mercifully short, but still rather tiresome whenever they break out into song. The plot is as thin as can be, and there were even times when I thought Mannequin might be better, especially during the comedy moments which made Rentaghost seem high-brow. The cast do the best they can with a fairly decent script considering the ridiculous premise. You might enjoy this if you're an especially soppy half-witted girl, but I guess most people will be fairly annoyed after 20mins.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(2010)
½

Hopes weren't too high with this, as I knew it'd be Gladiator in Sherwood Forest, and it was, but I was still fairly pleasantly surprised. The first 70-80% are pretty good, then history goes right out the window as Robin instigates the drawing up of some kind of Magna Carta and leads the English army to victory against a French invasion. I thought Robin Hood was mostly an outlaw who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor"? Apart from that, there were a few faithful nods to the book - Chalus Castle, the feral forest kids, Alan-a-Dale being less of a gay minstrel - and the general cinematography and grittiness showed quite an improvement over the Kevin Costner predecessor. Even at 2.5hrs, it was never boring. 7/10

The Cuckoo
The Cuckoo(2003)

Easily the best film I've ever seen in Saami, Finnish and Russian. This is a peculiar tale, set in the WW2 war between Russia & Finland - not really a chapter I'm overly familiar with - and among other things, goes to show how important it is to be able to speak other languages. Unusual, interesting and quite thought-provoking, if not exactly a barrel of laughs.

Drunken Master (Jui kuen)

Taken in by the IMDB score of 7.6, and having vaguely positive memories of some Jackie Chan film from long ago, I gave this a try. Although it did make me laugh out loud once or twice because of the sheer stupidity of it, I can't see this being of much interest to anyone other than Chinese kids. The plot is exactly like Karate Kid with the 'drunken master' as Mr Miyagi. This film is one fight after another with barely any reason for any of them. The 'big final fight' is especially tiresome. 3/5

The Wolfman
The Wolfman(2010)

Great cinematography and CGI, but rather too yucky for its own good. I liked the old Lon Chaney version, and I suppose this is better in every way except for the extra half hour making it really seem to drag. Not as much fun as it ought to have been. I've come to the conclusion that werewolf films just aren't very good.

The Omen
The Omen(1976)
½

Not actually very scary at all, apart from the music and the general creepiness. The 'Worzel Gummidge head' scene actually made me laugh. There were a few old classic cars, but over all it felt a bit like a Hammer Horror film that Gregory Peck had somehow wandered into and added a bit of gravitas to.

Kes
Kes(1969)

Finally got around to seeing this after all these years, and mostly wish I hadn't. It starts off grim, lightens up very briefly with a bit of football and a blunt poke at the education system, before a rather obvious and miserable ending, all the while scrambled in some mumbled dialect of Northernness. Unpleasant.

The Bank Job
The Bank Job(2008)
½

I heard about the true story that this film is based on from a documentary, and The Bank Job seemed to contain enough classic cars to offset Jason Statham's perpetually-frowning presence. Rather despite myself, and primarily due to pretty good writing, I quite enjoyed it.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
½

A complex plot like The Third Man with an extra layer of complexity. I'm not sure I understood all of it, and if I did, there may be a few points I would argue with. The cinematography was very atmospheric, music was suitably minimal, but the ever-so-languid direction made the 1hr 40 drag by. At times, it felt like the film was running at 70% speed. Burton makes watchable what would otherwise have been a total yawn. Recommended only for the most cerebral of espionage afficionados.

Mirage
Mirage(1965)

A clever film, reminiscent of Spellbound and North By Northwest, told rather in a back-to-front way akin to Memento, and about as good as any of them. Some snappy lines and decent cinematography go to make this an enjoyable mystery thriller.

Billy Liar
Billy Liar(1963)

I found this film surprisingly funny for such an old, b&w Northern film which in my experience are usually about coal or rheumatism. It's not exactly full of jokes, rather based around amusing situations and witty dialogue brought about by Billy's compulsive and imaginative lies. Recommended.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
½

Better than I expected it to be, especially the effects which are at times almost scary by 1950s standards. There isn't much plot other than the standard "aliens arrive, they shoot us, we shoot back, they lose" but it's quite short and never boring. Good fun.

Death Race 2000
½

A very unusual1970s film set in the future, in a similar vein to Logan's Run, Westworld and that ilk, with a bit of Wacky Races thrown in. Blackly comic in places, never boring and quite imaginative. Some good stuntwork too. I can see why this is considered a cult 'classic'.

House of Wax
House of Wax(1953)
½

For one of those 1950s 3D films, this is good fun. Things may come towards the camera all the time to make you go "wooo" but, but behind the gimmickry is a reasonably good horror yarn that at 88mins doesn't outstay its welcome. Enjoyable.

La Jetée (The Pier)
½

One of the weirdest and most imaginative French films I've ever seen (and that's saying something). Clever, different and very artistic it may be, but whether it was enjoyable is quite another matter. It grew on me towards the end, but then it ended very suddenly and peculiarly.

Jekyll & Hyde
½

Looks like one of those films that come free in a newspaper, but one of the better ones. Michael Caine is very much the lead here, with nobody else really doing much. It all gets a bit hammy & pantomimey quite frequently, but is probably better for it. The scenes where Jekyll changes into Hyde are quite well done and good fun, if a little rubbery, and the ending is quite hilarious. I enjoyed it.

Brestskaya krepost (Brest Fortress)

A very good WW2 film focussing on a little-known episode of Russian history. The special effects - especially in the aeroplane sequences - are quite incredible, as is the cinematography which is surely as arty as can be without detracting from the realism. Touching and dramatic though the story is, the plot is none too convoluted and it's not the kind of film you would watch repeatedly, but it is definitely a cinematic masterpiece.

The Killers
The Killers(1946)
½

The cinematography was quite brilliantly noir, and the convoluted plot was sort of ingenious too. However, the telling of the story was so needlessly jumbled, most people probably couldn't follow it or appreciate it and those that could probably found their enjoyment somewhat spoiled. It's like looking at a Canaletto jigsaw - by the time you've put it all together, the joy of it is gone. A shame, as it had the makings of a 10/10 film and ended up being only slightly better than average.

The Hurt Locker

I'm going to fly in the face of popular opinion here. Yes, this film is technically excellent and looks absolutely realistic. It is suspenseful and shocking and all the other things that a modern war film ought to be. For me though, I found the 'plot' a shambolic sequence of fairly unrelated scenes, some of which were unrealistic in nature (such as the soldiers fighting each other in their barracks), some which were quite inexplicable (why the soldiers bothered to defuse half the bombs in the dangerous ways that they did) and almost all of which were just plain horrible. If you enjoyed this film, you need to take a good hard look at yourself.

Il Bidone (The Swindle) (The Swindlers)

Starts off well, loses its way slightly in the middle then ends very strongly indeed. The lead actor is quite brilliant and the ending scene is powerful in every way. As with most 1950s-60s Italian neo-realism films, this is hardly a barrel of laughs, but of the few Fellini films I have seen, this is the most accessible and arguably the best.

Youth of the Beast (The Brute) (Yajû no seishun)

This reminded me a bit of Get Carter, Donnie Brasco and A Fistful of Dollars, all rolled into one, only Japanese with a lot of classic cars thrown in. The plot was quite complex and confusing at times, but it all made sense in the end. Some scenes were very original in a violent kind of way and being Japanese, everyone kills everyone so it's very definitely a bloke's film, but still pretty enjoyable if you like that kind of thing.

Boy and Bicycle (Boy on a Bicycle)

Stylish and rather too arty for its own good. Like Kingdom of Heaven, this looks much better than it is and even at 27mins somewhat overstays its welcome, as it isn't really about anything. Scott probably made the best of what he had to work with and shows promise at an early age.

Burnt by the Sun

I never realised this was a true story until the very end, although 'story' is being rather charitable as almost nothing happened in the whole 2.5hrs. The cinematography was always pleasant, the actress playing Nadia was very good (especially in the Blue Danube scene which was probably the most enjoyable part), the subtitles seemed well translated and always clear. However, the 'comedic' elements with the guy looking for Zagorienka were very slight indeed and the budgie sounded more like an Ewok. By about halfway I was wondering how much more there was left. Only for the very patient.

L'Argent
L'Argent(1983)
½

This French film starts off very well, moves along smartly with some artistry as the counterfeit note changes hands. Towards the end, the action follows one man whose life has been changed dramatically by his involvement with the note, and it's here that the film descends into something bordering on lunacy. Tolstoy's premise is a great one, but the film slips away from it, exaggerating too much and undoing the good work done earlier.

Marnie
Marnie(1964)

Much better than I expected it to be, known as one of the 'disappointing' Hitchcocks. I guessed the denouement early on, but at no point was it ever boring, and some of the acting, writing and arty direction/camerawork was as good as any. Hardly a barrel of laughs though and it is rather like a longer, colour remake of Spellbound.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine
½

Starts off very well, some nice cinematography with quite amazing Watchmen-like CGI, the story is sort of adequate, there's a lot of fighting, then it's the end. I didn't expect The Seventh Seal, and as long as your expectations are suitably adjusted, this does what it does quite well.

The Black Windmill
½

Fairly humdrum thriller, but plenty of classic cars in London and Paris, plus Michael Caine elevate it slightly above being the Sweeney spin-off it looks so much like. I quite enjoyed it. If you've seen Taken with Liam Neeson, this is pretty much the same, only in the 1970s with Michael Caine.

Rocky IV
Rocky IV(1985)
½

I'm guessing that Stallone liked Miami Vice around the time that this was made, so Rocky gets a Lamborghini Islero to drive around at night while he dreams a Crockett-esque montage of the past, accompanied by some very 80s power ballads. Sounds good, but it's not that great really. The robot was a daft addition, the kid(s) just got in the way really and the general US v USSR premise all seemed a bit much. Drago wasn't as fun as Clubber Lang either. I like Rocky 1,2,3,6 (and Miami Vice) more than most people, and although I wasn't bored, I wasn't thrilled either.

Rocky V
Rocky V(1990)

Widely-considered the weakest of the Rocky series, it does have a lot wrong with it. For me, the Don King character is extremely irritating throughout, the old Fanfare For Rocky and Eye of the Tiger music is replaced with horrible MC Hammer and Elton John(!) which all gets a little too Lion King for my liking. For too long, the film is concerned with the rise of Tommy Gunn with Rocky as his manager - we don't want to see Tommy Gunn win and Rocky on the sidelines! The title is Rocky! This is all remedied at the end with the inevitable fight between Rocky & Tommy Gunn (Vader vs Luke with Micky as a ghostly Ben Kenobi?), but it takes place in the street. I suppose that sets it apart from the other films of the series, and I quite like the novelty of it, but what with the kid growing up and the tax problems, it was all rather bitty and slightly annoying. Compared to a lot of modern films though, it's still not as bad as all that.

Brotherhood of the Wolf

Imagine a French mediaeval Steven Seagal film with a lot of fighting and a not-very-believable CGI werewolf and you'll get the idea. The cinematography in this film was pretty great throughout. Even the story started off quite well, but then it dragged on a lot, the CGI werewolf appeared, there was too much unbelievable Jet Li style fighting and finally it ended, not a moment too soon. It says on the back of the box "cinematic gold"... more like "cinematic spelter".

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)
½

One of the best films that I've seen in ages. It has a slight fable feel, and certainly a preachy thread to it, but good intent was obviously inherent from the outset. Despite a rather miserable, slow beginning, I was glad I saw it through. I guessed the ending towards the end, but when it came, it still nearly brought a tear to my eye. I recommend watching it with subtitles on, as the audio is rather muffled and mumbled in places, yet the script is often quite humourous and amusing. Well worth watching.

Click
Click(2006)

A cinematic Twinkie of a film - rather too American for European tastes and after about 30 minutes, you feel the need for something more substantial.The first half, where Adam Sandler gets his remote control, is mildly amusing. The second half, where the film becomes all earnest and preachy is much less amusing, and on closer inspection, is fairly insulting to the viewers' intelligence. The message is a simple one "family before work" - which means that one's family's happiness is more important than money or business success. As the viewer grows bored towards the end, one can't help but wonder if the makers of this film made it to spread a little joy in the world or get a worthy message across, or whether this comedy-by-numbers, as with many of the magnanimous schmaltzy US Christmas movies, was made because they do put money-making quite high up on their own agenda. Depending on one's own circumstances, Adam Sandler's character's discontentment with having a beautiful wife, 2 healthy children, a big house and a job as an architect, might also strike the viewer as rather greedy and difficult to empathise with - the Bicycle Thieves this ain't. It's a lot like A Christmas Carol without the Christmas or the wit. Don't think too much about it and you might almost enjoy it, but I didn't.

Contempt
Contempt(1964)

Godard pulls off something of a miracle here: he takes a great location, beautiful coastline, Bardot in her prime, Jack Palance, classic cars, a Riva, CineCitta' and a large budget and yet still manages to make a film that is much less than the sum of its parts. There is a 'profound' parallel to the main story with that of the Odyssey, but it's tiresome and strained. Piccoli is a boring, smoky leading man who irritated me throughout. All the speaking French, German, Italian, English and Fritz Lang's cameo at the beginning smacked of pointless braggadocio and chummy nepotism. As with Au Bout du Souffle, it's never really boring, but it's far from being interesting too.

Rocky III
Rocky III(1982)
½

As this was the first film we ever hired out when we first got a VHS video and this had just been released, my memory for it is slightly rose-tinted. Having seen it again just now, it's not at all bad. Not quite as good as the first two films as the two fights with Clubber Lang are rather short and the whole film feels like it's the middle of something much longer. On the plus side, Mr T is quite funny and it does have great music - modern films rarely have a memorable theme tune, but this has two.

Let the Right One In
½

It is like all the reviews say: different, stylish, arty, creepy, moody and I suppose, sort of beautiful in an insane kind of way. I almost enjoyed it, but I wouldn't rave about it. The first half hour was extremely boring, then it became yucky, before the last hour or so was very good. The 'poetic' way that it snows all the time, it's usually night and usually very quiet is great if you're Tim Burton with a hangover, but I like a little more colour and sound. Yes, it's better than Twilight, but even by Swedish film standards, it's a little slow and dull for the most part.

Twilight
Twilight(2008)

Like a double-length, double-dreary episode of One Tree Hill with insufficient vampires and werewolves to hold the interest. The slight green tinge to the whole film becomes tiresome, as does the drippy dialogue. The vampire fight towards the end is almost exciting in a Smallville kind of way and the cinematography is pretty good throughout. The bit where Edward runs off with Bella at superspeed and up trees is quite hilarious. I watched it on satellite - a storm came along with rain so hard that the reception went off for the last 15mins, which was rather a relief. Easily missed.

Rocky II
Rocky II(1979)

It's Rocky 1 all over again - same boxers, same cast, same music and same plot, with a few more funny lines and a bit more of his dog. That should be a bad thing, but I liked Rocky 1 so much that it was fine by me. Some criticise Stallone's acting, but Laurence Olivier couldn't have played Rocky any better. The film has its heart in the right place too.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
½

I don't know why this gets such bad reviews. Ok, it's not the most hilarious, brainiest film ever made and maybe it strays some way from the book, but it was never boring and made me smirk a few times. It may be slightly funnier than Paul, quite a bit funnier than Run Fatboy Run and possibly even better than Con Air.

Escape From Alcatraz
½

Interesting true story which moves along at a good pace, although I didn't find the escape itself quite as exciting as perhaps it should have been. The pace and mood was very steady throughout, without many real highlights, exact perhaps for a couple of brief fight scenes. Enjoyable enough.

Mon Oncle
Mon Oncle(1958)
½

I didn't expect a French comedy to be riproaringly hilarious, and sure enough, it wasn't... and I usually like French films! If Tati is a comedy great, there should be 100ft golden statues of the Chuckle Brothers erected immediately. People will argue that I didn't fully understand the subtle satire, the poke at technology, industry, people who are full of self-importance because of their superficial job - yes, I saw all that, but is it funny? Is it clever? I really can't say it is. Making such commentary in an otherwise entertaining film is clever, this is just plain self-indulgent and irritating. I found myself sighing angrily every time M. Hulot tapped his pipe on his foot. The garden party scene with the stepping stones and the fountain were extremely long-winded and irritating, the 'funny' gate and garage door, the parking of the green car at the end even more so. I found myself yearning for "Le Fin" to appear about half way through. I'm giving one star for the dogs - especially the one under the table who growled at the fish - for providing the only mild smirk of the whole film. I'll add another star for some moderately interesting classic cars and 1950s ambience and maybe another half star for the music if I'm feeling charitable. Miss it if you can.

Paul
Paul(2011)
½

As long as you don't expect high art, you will enjoy this. A few parts are quite hilarious, and although I see strong parallels with ALF, it's different enough and doesn't overstay its welcome. Recommended.

Creation
Creation(2010)

"Not as good as the book" would be an obvious criticism, yet somehow, as is often true of adaptations, it's the non-visual element which is most important and conveyed least well with this film too. Darwin's family life seems portrayed well, his work and research is slightly underplayed but the mental turmoil and exertion from writing such a controversial book with the associated marital conflict and ghostly hallucinations is somewhat confusingly overplayed in the non-linear telling of the story. It's not a bad film at all - well acted, period ambience, cinematography - it's just not particularly gripping, possibly because we all knew the outcome before it started and the writers seem not to have dared to mention the wider implications in much depth.

Before Sunrise
½

Even though everyone seems to love this, I'm going to fly in the face of common opinion and point out a few gripes this jaded old cynic had with it. For starters, even in the pre-mobile pre-Facebook era, it is very unlikely that two people would start talking on a train, abroad, in the same language, getting along amazingly well and striking up a lightning-fast romance. It is equally unlikely either person would be single or alone on the train, and quite unlikely that one or the other wouldn't get off at a different station very soon after they met.

Trying not to be distracted by all these improbabilities, I still found their pseudo-intellectual philosophising tiresome and hardly the sort of thing two people talk about when they first meet. The Viennese poet, the Dylan Thomas impersonation, the 'funny' Germanic actors - all irritated me. I suppose if the viewer fancies either of the two leads or is a soft-in-the-head romantic idealist, they may find this film quaint or sweet or gently amusing but I was just plain bored. Watch Roman Holiday instead.

Westworld
Westworld(1973)
½

It's Jurassic Park with robots dressed as cowboys, with a bit of Terminator thrown in. I was quite disappointed with this - the beginning was ok, the middle was boring and the ending wasn't as good as it promised to be. It's strange how the future looks like the 1970s and as I was watching this on a Wifi touchscreen laptop, the tape streamers and PCBs inside Yul Brynner's head didn't seem quite so scary and futuristic, especially when he was hunting the human with his 0.01 Megapixel eyes so the whole world looked like orange Lego. Just about worth 3.5 stars at a pinch.

Pickup on South Street
½

Apart from some terrible music, this is a pretty good noir, even if the outcome is a little obvious early on.

Purple Noon (Plein soleil)

I have never quite got around to watching the modern version The Talented Mr Ripley, so seeing the 1960 French version first meant the plot wasn't familiar to me. I'm so glad I saw this version first! Delon is, as usual, very good indeed. The locations, cinematography and especially the frequency of 1960s classic cars, made a decent film all the more watchable. Recommended.

Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)
½

I generally like noirs and French films, so I was somewhat disappointed in this, given that it is so highly-rated. The plot was quite clever, mainly at the end, but suffered from a few holes (I also guessed the twist before it came, so it can't have been so very surprising). Certain other aspects were weak: the old couple listening to the radio in Niort and the drunkard who tries to climb into the Citroen, were pantomime characters, the dialogue wasn't especially sharp or amusing, CriCri's heart condition seemed rather facile and an obvious portent of what was to come. The acting wasn't especially brilliant, the cinematography somewhat average, the direction rather slow-paced and a complete lack of music can't have helped with any suspense which seemed only slight and rather laboured to me. Throughout, it reminded me of a cross between Rope and Rebecca, both Hitchcock films, both better than this. With his deft touch, this film could've been so much better.

Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story
½

Interesting and insightful, especially regarding Eddie's severely uphill struggle via Sheffield & Edinburgh, showing a willpower and belief that rivals Rocky. When he describes genius and madness being like a circle though, one can't help but wonder quite where he fits on that scale, especially if you've seen his Cows series or the early material in this documentary. The marathon running, politics and appearance in Valkyrie were rather notable omissions though, barely getting a mention... maybe there's a follow-up planned?

The Night of the Iguana
½

I wanted to like this more than I actually did. It started off well, very different to many films, the sequence with Burton driving a bus was quite exciting and the whole Mexican jungle ambience made a great backdrop. It rather fizzled out for me towards the end, when the Kerr-Burton dialogue became pseudo-artistic crazy talk about homes and nests and the old poet guy. Kerr seemed like a know-it-all Mary Poppins character, growing more tiresome as the film went on. I'm not sure the whole film was really about anything and it was hardly a barrel of laughs, right up to the fairly unsatisfactory ending.

Room at the Top

Contrived and boring in the extreme, I found it not only difficult to hear (the audio for the first half was very mumbled) but difficult to believe too. For a scenario that would involve plenty of passion and probably aggression from those involved, everyone seemed unrealistically reserved and matter of fact throughout. The hero is a womanising, swashbuckler of an accountant (I can't say I've met many of those myself). The direction was languid and staid, the dialogue mostly artless, the acting hardly stunning. Somewhere in there, there is a vague, dubious, trite "be careful what you wish for" moral to the story which only becomes apparent towards the end, but by then, the characters are so uninteresting and unappealing, one finds it hard to care anyway. Apart from a few brief appearances from some old British cars, there is very little to recommend it.

Ip Man
Ip Man(2010)
½

Much better than it may seem on paper, at times this film reminded me of a Chinese version of Escape to Victory with a dash of Rocky and Magnificent Seven thrown in for good measure. Like Escape to Victory, this is based on a true story, spanning the pre-war and WW2 era when Japan invaded China. I had never heard of this film and only half-heartedly set about watching it, but I was pretty much spellbound from start to finish. Very good indeed.

Henry's Crime

Keanu Reeves and Chekhov may not sit comfortably in the same sentence and sure enough, they don't in the film either. It's quite watchable and hardly disagreeable. It builds up slightly, you expect something, anything(!) to happen, and then it kind of fizzles out. Chewing gum for the eyes.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)

A bit like Groundhog Day, Donnie Darko and Inception rolled into one, the title is mildly misleading (to anyone who has done any programming) as it's more like an experiment in forensic VR. Hardly a relaxing 90mins, and maybe the ending is somewhat unsatisfactory, but still a fairly intelligent and gripping film nonetheless.

The War of the Worlds

I enjoyed this much more than the Tom Cruise version. Yes, they take severe liberties with the book adaptation. Yes, the acting is pretty bad and the beginning with the line dancing and "jeepers!" dialogue is pretty laughable. Somehow though, the tension and excitement so often lacking in such films, comes through. Even the 'tripods' not having any legs, were still pretty scary and menacing. I like the metallic rattlesnake sound and the heat ray effects, which, although they look very 1950s, still have some sort of potency. For me, the only thing really 'wrong' with it, is the anticlimactic ending, which is true of all versions, but seems even more sudden in this version. Abruptly, the film ceased.

Le Doulos
Le Doulos(1962)

Very stylishly shot in b&w, this film starts off very well, loses a bit of steam in the middle with some slightly long-winded scenes, reaches a clever denouement which is unfortunately rather too unclear to appreciate, then descends into an almost farcical ending. This was probably a very good book up to about 90% of the way through. Even though Belmondo irritates me with his 'coolness', I'd give it 3.5 stars for the actual film and another half a star for some nice old cars and photography.

The French Connection

In 1971, this must've been quite different and almost shocking to the viewer. Nowadays though, Scorsese films have rather superceded it with 'grittiness' and much better music (this has a terrible, irritating soundtrack). The famous car chase scene is quite brilliant, and plenty of the others are very good too. Hackman is great in it, but the dialogue was often too mumbled for the plot to fully grip the viewer, and I can't really believe that the drug squad pulled a whole car apart without looking in the sills until last!?!

Viva Knievel!
½

I wanted to like this, but oh dear, I just couldn't. Some of the motorbike bits were reasonably good, but the Scooby Doo mystery stuff was just too prevalent. It felt like a particularly bad episode of Charlie's Angels Meets Streethawk. The Stratocycle was quite amusing though.

Diabolique
Diabolique(1996)
½

Having seen the reviews for this, I expected it to be terrible - something on a par with a bad Jean-Claude van Damme film, but it's really not so bad. I thought the French original was quite farcical, hammed up in places and wasn't quite as clever as it seemed at first glance. This US version is actually better in some ways, but worse in others. Something about the pacing leaves the viewer less than compelled, the script is probably slightly lame too. The acting is pretty good, the cinematography/setting/ambience is probably slightly better, the neighbours who help carry the wicker chest are much less irritating, the ending is much better. If you don't go in for old b&w foreign films with subtitles, this isn't a bad alternative.

Houdini
Houdini(1953)

Slightly hammy and Hollywood in places, but very enjoyable nonetheless. It was far more entertaining than the IMDB 6.9 led me to expect. Recommended.

Quantum of Solace
½

I liked the Alfa Romeos, Siena, Puccini etc. Throw away all the silly spy stuff with the mobiles, CSI computers, CGI, blipverts and fighting every 2 seconds and you might have a half-decent film. As it is, it was more like some sort of Jet Li Bourne Transporter rehash with a brief glimpse of an Aston Martin to add a vague soupcon of James Bond to it. I'm not sure it even made sense. Oh, and the music was the worst theme I've heard since Goldeneyeeeargh. Where's Moneypenny and that bloke who gives Bond a bottle-opener that secretly doubles up as a flamethrower that he'll need when push comes to shove? Not my idea of a James Bond film. Easily missed.

Antoine and Colette (Antoine et Colette)
½

Watchable, with a certain ring of truth to their relationship, but otherwise barely believable at all. Antoine has turned from a delinquent in a kind of borstal to a regular Bernard Levin in the space of about 5yrs, getting through even more books than he does cigarettes, yet still talks like a mumbling halfwit and still hangs around with his not-so-bright schoolfriend. He's also found himself a pretty decent job somehow, paying enough for a flat of his own in Paris (albeit a grotty one) and become besotted with a rather dreary studious girl which was quite obviously never going to work out from day one. The English subtitles add rather more artistry than was there in the original French script too. If Truffaut is great, then je suis l'oncle d'un singe.

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)
½

This reminded me somewhat of a French equivalent of the Bicycle Thieves, only the neo-realism wasn't so realistic in this, with 'humorous' moments that were almost farcical. Whilst I admit that it was artistically - occasionally beautifully - shot, the sparse music was inappropriately jolly when it put in a brief appearance. The plot also rambled somewhat - this film could've been an hour longer or an hour shorter without really making any difference to the overall impression. For me, the difference was that the poor people in Bicycle Thieves were inherently good, but unfortunate, thus eliciting some sympathy from the viewer. This kid is not quite as unfortunate, yet becomes a troublesome delinquent, thus eliciting less sympathy from the viewer. Definitely a good film, but not quite great.

13 Rue Madeleine

Funny in places, this somewhat disjointed tale of WW2 espionage is quite watchable but hardly compelling. Cagney does well to make it as good as it is.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Rarely have I seen such an un-Hollywood film as this. Such a typically British film - b&w, grim, raining or snowing, cold, everyone's Northern, ugly and miserable, yet for all that, it has a genuine kind of heart, not so much a message or moral to the story as just a look that invokes empathy from the viewer. It's not really the kind of film I would choose to watch and I can't really say why I liked this film, but I did.

The Wild One
The Wild One(1954)

I've been wanting to see this 'classic' for years, but was so disappointed. The 'bad biker' gang all seem like Rada luvvies from Grease 2 with hardly a scuff to show on any of them or their bikes, their anti-social deeds seem to stretch to playing swing jazz quite loudly on the jukebox and wearing a mop as a joke hairstyle, the fight scenes look as if they were arranged by Emmerdale's choreographer, the sets were surely from an Ed Wood movie and the whole premise and plot was as corny as can be. Not totally rubbish, but very nearly.

Taken
Taken(2009)
½

A Steven Seagal film set in France with some Luc Besson style thrown in, the main twist being that Liam Neeson plays Steven Seagal. On paper, I wouldn't ordinarily like this, but I found it strangely entertaining despite myself. Towards the end, it becomes a bit too 'all-action' for its own good and I'm not sure about the overtone that Paris is dangerous and LA is safe, but even so, it's not a bad lads' film at all.

The Third Man

A clever murder mystery plot, well executed, nicely shot in b&w with the additional quirkiness of the zither music and the Vienna setting. It's certainly a decent evening's viewing first time around, but once the outcome is known, it's not something one would watch repeatedly, unless you want to practice your German. That said, it's still probably the best film I've ever found on YouTube.

Persona
Persona(1966)

If you're ever feeling too jolly, you can find this on YouTube. For me, the deplorable Damien Hirst-style 'shock art' tactics with the sheep and the newsreel footage severely and unnecessarily cheapened what was otherwise, for the most part, a decent film. Very well shot, very well acted, unique and thought-provoking, despite the subject matter being of questionable taste. Towards the end however, Persona descended into a string of crazy dreams, meaning very little apart from having the overall effect of madness. Life isn't actually as complex, frightening or depressing as this. A film by crazy people for crazy people.

Ben Hur - An Epic Tale of Courage and Faith

The chariot race is great, very exciting. The rest of the film has its moments, but it is very long and rather drawn out. A good film nevertheless, but not something you'll want to watch time and time again.

Eight Below
Eight Below(2006)
½

The dogs are great, the cinematography of the snow scenes is also pretty good and even the slightly laughable CGI leopard seal isn't bad (it really made me jump!) Apart from that though, the story is very linear and it's totally obvious what's going to happen at every stage. It's a bit slow, the 'Shaggy' character is irritating and the 'love story' so plainly grafted on later is quite sickly. Disney's idea of a happy ending isn't the same as mine either :-/ Apparently Eight Below was inspired by a little-known Japanese film, which I would have much preferred to have watched.

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner is essentially about the brotherly friendship between Amir and Hassan in 1970s Kabul, and Amir's later attempts to make good his conscience some 20yrs later. The main drawback with this is that Amir is such a coward, and a spoiled, boring one at that, the viewer hardly cares about him when the 'poignant' and perfectly unsurprising denouement finally comes. The unpleasant parts are more unpleasant than need be. The kite action scenes are well done and the general ambience is portrayed realistically, but ultimately it's quite emotion-free and leaves an unpleasant aftertaste.

The Italian Job

I finally managed to wince my way past the Miura crash at the beginning, and despite there being some other highly traumatic happenings to a DB5, some E-Types, Minis, Alfas and Guzzis, it was mildly redeemed by the fairly action-packed heist sequence, locations and Matt Monro singing the theme. All in all though, rather tiresome and somewhat irritating. I much prefer the PC game.

Richard III
Richard III(1956)
½

Olivier doth carry this works in entirety on his hump'd back with a goodly showing, for the sets seem verily of cardboard built and the magical silvered disc of video doth play fogg'd, akin to light shining through yonder window on a dewy morn. Images did skip and flicker with the rapidity of a moth's wing and confusion 'twas compounded still more with lack of lighted script writ' thereupon. For countless minutes, machinations and intrigue entangle themselves within a sea of labyrinthine verbiage, yet amelioration cometh late with Bosworth Field as action moves without. Enjoyment lay within grasp for thine Hamlet of Mel Gibson, but by unlucky hap, escapeth thee with Richard III.

Bombon: El Perro
½

A strange 'road movie' about a hard-up Argentine man and a big white dog. That may not sound like much, and it isn't, but it does have a certain gentle charm. I quite enjoyed it, but I'm not sure why really.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Brilliant in its simplicity. The modern remake just goes to show how deceptively adept the original film is and possibly the most thought-provoking sci-fi film ever.

Public Enemies
½

The Care Bear Movie this ain't. It's Heat, with some old cars, Johnny Depp and a bit more gunfire. That's not to say it's bad. Despite lukewarm reviews, I enjoyed this far more than I expected to. The cinematography, the period look and Mann's usual style are a visual treat and it moves along quite briskly. If I have a criticism, it's that the audio is a bit mumbly especially early on compared to the deafening gunshot sounds so I recommend putting the subtitles on. I didn't know much about the real Dillinger which probably helped my enjoyment of the film. I'd even go as far as to say I liked it better than The Untouchables. One of the best modern films I've seen in some time.

The Red Baron (Der rote Baron)

The dogfight scenes are really well done, and it's somewhat refreshing to see Germans being authentically played by Germans (albeit in English) as opposed to Hollywood stars, but somehow this film plays out with some staccato, never having any real flow, never really becoming compelling. Richthofen's apparent feeling for dogfights as sport rather than war, and his regret at being part of a war, never really rings true and garners no sympathy from the viewer. It ends with a whimper too.

The Man Who Would Be King
½

Started off well, fizzled out in the middle and picked up slightly at the end. It's a bit like Zulu, a bit like most things Kipling and a lot like one of those films you get free in a Sunday paper. It's ok, a little hammy in places, but still a moderately watchable lads' action bank holiday kind of film.

In Bruges
In Bruges(2008)

About as appealing as a cold weekend in Belgium. Plenty of swearing, mostly unnecessary, made 'gritty' a thin plot which dawdled from improbable to quite incredible by the end. Eminently missable.

Hard to Kill
Hard to Kill(1990)
½

...and even harder to believe. This is Seagal's 'Rocky' and makes Cobra look like Wild Strawberries by comparison.

Eddie Izzard - Dress to Kill
½

"Je suis le President de Burundi" made me laugh, and the second half in general picks up dramatically after an almost painfully-unfunny first half about subjects too serious to be jocular about. If you tune in around the point of British films or the moon landings, you'll probably love it. See the earlier stuff about Pol Pot or firearms and you may switch off. A mixed bag.

Eddie Izzard - Definite Article

I like Eddie and usually like his shows, but I didn't find this particularly side-splitting. The version I watched had Swedish subtitles which weren't particularly close to what he was saying. I found the Swedish words for "scurvy" and "little yapping dogs" somewhat more amusing than the English. Perhaps it was funnier back in 1996.

Where Eagles Dare

On the face of it, this seems like one of those 1970s Commando comics turned into a film, but on closer inspection, it's much more than that. The action sequences - though frequent - are well done. The music is very rousing. The cars, bikes, planes all seem pretty genuine. Likewise with the location and even the actors playing Germans seem German. Richard Burton makes a great lead and the plot is moderately complex. All in all, just about anyone would quite enjoy it on a Xmas bank holiday.

To Kill A Mockingbird

By reputation, I was looking forward to seeing this film. I was pleased that despite being described as a "courtroom drama" there is plenty more to it than that. It was certainly an agreeable enough way to pass a few hours, and Gregory Peck is very good indeed, but afterwards, the 'moral of the story' seemed somewhat blurred. Was Boo Radley a misunderstood 'good guy'? Was he good at all? For me, the court case was rather too obvious - the townspeople were all cliched violent redneck caricatures and the accused was a super goody-goody, who even had a handicapped arm to rule him as innocent rather too quickly. Life is not usually that simple. There is no mystery at all, which is a shame, for what is otherwise an intelliigent, enjoyable and mildly thought-provoking film.

Freaks
Freaks(1932)
½

I think this film was banned for a long time, probably just for being so boring and unseemly rather than truly offensive. The main thread of the film is a drawn out yawn of a love triangle between Cleopatra the beautiful trapeze artist, the strongman and the male midget, with some 'comedy' asides from the clown and a stuttering bloke who is just plain irritating plus a few facile skits poking awkward fun at the conjoined twins, the bearded lady and the hermaphrodite. Anyway, the main problem is that the midget couple have strong German accents and high squeaky voices, so, as they have a fair amount of dialogue, they're almost impossible to understand (with 1930s audio quality). The various circus freaks are reasonably sensitively portrayed for the time, but even so, it feels rather unseemly watching them just to put across the simple message that they're just like normal people whilst normal people can be ugly inside. I understand the ending scene is especially potent, but after half an hour, I was too bored to care. The Elephant Man is an infinitely better way of saying the same thing.

A View to a Kill
½

Despite my better judgement, this is still one of my favourite Bond films. It makes me laugh when the stuntman fighting on the bridge or driving the very staged half-Renault with the 'invisible' little wheel doesn't look at all like Rog, the Beach Boys skiing bit, the blatant advertisement for Michelin X tyres under the water, the horse-riding bits, the climbing down the big ladder from City Hall...everything. It's rubbish, but it's very enjoyable. I think this is the most 80s-looking Bond film and to me (perhaps with the exception of The World Is Not Enough) was the last enjoyable one. It could've done with another Lotus or Aston Martin in it, but otherwise, it's perfect Bank Holiday Monday fare.

British Intelligence
½

Almost a total yawn from start to finish, apart from a brief biplane sequence. Everyone in it is a double triple agent as and when the occasion suits them, so it's not only quite difficult to follow, it's too boring to care. Boris Karloff is quite good in it though.

M
M(1931)

Very advanced for its time, this must've been quite scary and very novel back then. I personally found it rather grim and teutonic in style, ie stark and black, fairly distasteful, and while I normally like Peter Lorre, I thought he rather hammed it up at the end. It's on YouTube and I kind of half-heartedly recommend it, but I wouldn't say you'll enjoy it.

The General
The General(1927)

Must've been amazing in its day, and even now, despite being slightly long-winded and having a few lame Chucklevision comedy moments, despite the YouTube version I saw having completely inappropriate music, it's still pretty good.

Logorama
Logorama(2010)
½

Great idea, great CGI. Shame about the wannabe-Tarantino script and Pulp Fiction-esque plot. Strangely unpleasant to see how a world plastered with adverts, looks just like America really and the rest of the world in 20yrs time.

Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette)
½

Simple, sad, very honest and quite brilliant. There is a quality to the picture, an almost chiaroscuro type of contrast which is perfect for the mood of the story. Post-war Rome makes a perfect backdrop too, although the message is universal. Perhaps with a tiny bit more Morricone-style music and maybe a bit less of Baiocca's play rehearsal scene, it could be perfect.

How to Steal a Million
½

Starts off well, but rather drags on as the outcome of the plot is rather obvious fairly early on. It seems like an attempt to recreate the charm and success of Roman Holiday, which doesn't quite come off. The comedy moments are not very amusing, and you don't quite see as much of Paris as you did with Rome. That said, it's a perfectly agreeable film (with no 3D, loud music, swearing, violence, car chases, special effects, stunts, fast editing or CGI - imagine that!) I liked the classic cars too, especially the rare red one at the beginning :-)

Threads
Threads(1984)

Super-grim BBC drama about what might've happened if the Russians had nuked Sheffield in the early 1980s. Why a Russia-US war would involve Sheffield getting nuked in a big way isn't strongly expanded upon, but the simulation of how the general populace would react and how UK authorities would 'cope' is probably pretty realistic. Possibly the most miserable thing I've ever seen, but as a child of the 80s, it was easier to watch nowadays than it would've been back then.

Yozhik v Tumane (Yozik in the Fog) (The Hedgehog in the Mist)
½

Different, quirky, charming animation, but God knows what it was all about.

L.A. Confidential

Rather slow to get going, but some shiny old cars, a few surprises and decent cinematography help keep the viewer's interest. I suppose the ending is worth the (rather long) wait, but its main downfall is twofold (i) a lack of flow - almost the whole film feels fragmented (ii) the 'clever' plot is almost too clever. Half the audience won't understand it, the rest will find it too contrived. It's like Dragnet crossed with Gladiator, and certainly better than average, but rather seedier than perhaps need be. Well-made? Yes. Enjoyable...hmm, not quite.

King Kong
King Kong(1933)
½

Better than one might expect, and surprisingly, almost scary in places. The brief episodes of stop motion dinosaurs on the island work far better than the tiresome CGI sections of herds of brontosaurs in the remake, the main antagonists' characterisations work better together and the general pace of the film is snappier too. At the end of the day though, it is still only a rather silly monster film, albeit a classic one that must've been great in its day.

Mongol
Mongol(2008)

The cinematography is impressive throughout. The story - probably as true a biopic as we're likely to see for Genghis Khan - is so full of ups and downs, it can't fail to hold the viewers' interest. The battle scenes are fairly prevalent and as violent as one might expect, but not overly so, and about as realistic as anything I've seen. That said, it's not for the faint-hearted. At times, it makes Gladiator look like the Care Bear Movie. My only qualm is that this is the 1st part of 3 - a kind of Genghis Khan: Year One - and it ended just as I was getting into it. I hope parts 2 & 3 get made soon. If they are as good as this, it will be quite some trilogy.

Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli)

Like many Italian films of the era, it's dark in subject matter, kind of miserable and seems not to really be about much, yet it's probably one of the deepest neo-realistic films you're ever likely to see. Thought-provoking on so many levels, at times reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy or an opera. Occasionally spellbinding and even at 3hrs, it is never boring. Un capolavoro.

Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko(2001)
½

Funny and clever, although a little too mad for most people. Much as I like it, I still don't quite get how the tangent universe stuff works exactly but I can understand how Donnie feels about Hungry Hungry Hippos.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Jack Nicholson is brilliant in this, and it's generally very well acted, written, directed throughout. However, it isn't easy viewing, fun at times, distressing at others and certainly not something you'd want to watch too often. It also has one very large plot problem that, for me, totally ruins the credibility of it. (*spoiler* Jack says repeatedly that he needs to escape from the institution, and has many opportunities - he climbs over the fence easily, steals a bus and a boat, yet is returned by the police. Later, he has the window open, some girls visit with booze, yet he gets drunk and 'forgets' to escape by the morning. If I was as desperate to get out as he purports to be, I would've been gone. Helping the other loonies escape wouldn't be my concern. I might leave the doors open for them, but I'd have got the Chief to throw that sink block through the window much earlier on.) All in all, it's a very intense and different film that you really ought to see.

The Haunting
The Haunting(1963)

I watched this in a dark, old house, alone, on the night of Friday the 13th and still it never scared me in the slightest. Bored, yes, scared, no. The main character Eleanor is so drippy and dreary, you want her to get swallowed up in ectoplasm or something, but nothing much really happens at all. From the very first few lines, it feels like a cliche-ridden childish attempt at a Halloween ghosty story told around a campfire, where all the door hinges squeak, shadows are long and creepy etc. I don't much like modern horror like Saw or Wolf Creek - I prefer this 1960s b&w naivete, but even so, it was as much as I could do to stay awake.

Vertical Limit
½

Starts off reasonably well, then every emergency imaginable befalls the climbers - I think they only forgot to include a shark attack - and it is this super-tension with avalanches, explosions, pietons falling out, ropes snapping etc which ultimately bores the viewer. Less is definitely more in this case. It was never going to be brilliant, but it's still somewhat disappointing.

Capricorn One
½

A decent plotline, starts off well and is never boring, despite growing slowly sillier towards the end. The general premise must've been quite laughable at the time, but nowadays it could work as a metaphor for so many things, and may have slightly more bite in places. 'Good guy' OJ escaping from the authorities takes on a new irony too. The action sequences are well done, but are somewhat misplaced in what could've been a very good, intelligent film, rather than a mediocre but still reasonably entertaining one.

Monty Python's Life of Brian
½

Surely the best of the Python films. Whilst not completely successful, the jokes do mostly hit their mark and on closer inspection, this film is a lot cleverer than any comedy I can think of. I've seen it at least 10x over the years, and due to being set in 33AD, has not dated as much as it probably would have had it been set in 1979. I like the way a handful of people play a cast of thousands too and how it gently pokes fun at religious zealots. Quite brilliant.

Offside
Offside(2006)

It says on the box that this is like an Iranian Bend It Like Beckham...well, it nearly is I suppose, but it reminded me somewhat of An Evening With Gary Lineker too. Despite the attempt at neo-realism by using non-professional actors, the acting seemed somewhat unconvincing on many an occasion, often feeling like a stage play with a small cast made into a film without any of the extras that film as a medium can bring to the telling of a story. It is described as a 'comedy' too, yet if I smirked at all, it must've been very briefly. It's a worthy film, quite interesting in its own way, but a comedy it ain't. This is the only Iranian film I've ever seen, and I'm glad I saw it, but it's not something you'll watch repeatedly or get wildly excited about.

District B13 (Banlieue 13)

I watched the first half hour of this and it was not really futuristic at all, more like a French version of City of God (which I hated even though everybody seems to rate it). However, it did have a bit of style about it and the free running sequence near the beginning is quite amazing - worth watching just for that bit alone - before a load of mindless shooting ensued, accompanied by extremely irritating music whereupon I became very bored.

Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)

The 2hr 45min version, if anything, is even better than the 2hr version. The extra footage adds a new subplot to the original which changes the viewers' feelings on much of the original film. It really comes as a revelation if you've seen the shorter version first. Amazing.

Hitman
Hitman(2007)

Kind of stylish, kind of rubbish and mostly unpleasant. As it progresses, you think "this is going to become good in a minute" but it never really does. After about 2/3rds, I gave up.

Max Manus: Man of War
½

Riveting. I didn't expect much from a Norwegian film that nobody seems to have heard of, yet this was one of the best films I've seen in ages. It is a slightly 'Boy's Own' blokey kind of film, but if you don't mind that then it's like a modern day less-Hollywood version of Heroes of Telemark - a true and remarkable story about a Norwegian WW2 saboteur. If you liked Soldier of Orange or Valkyrie, you'll like this. The 45min featurette is very good too. Highly recommended.

The Damned United

I've been wanting to see this since I first heard about it, and it didn't disappoint. It is rather strange how the chronology is handled, popping backwards and forwards between 1967-1974, but it works well enough. The 1970s ambience is very well done and feels almost like you're watching a 1970s film throughout. It may only appeal to a narrow band of the audience, but if you like football or football history and have even a vague recollection of Brian Clough, Leeds or Nottingham Forest, you are sure to enjoy this.

Operation Crossbow
½

The beginning is pretty good, the ending is almost exciting, it's just the middle that lets it down with the drawn out and fairly incongruous hotel scene with Sophia Loren. This part is rather unlike the surrounding 'Boy's Own' action stuff and looks like it was shoehorned in, just to give Sophia Loren a sizeable role/box office draw whilst adding nothing to the story. Some of the rockets look a bit like Gerry Anderson made them (you can even see the strings sometimes!) and much of the end sequence looks like Dr No or something from Pinewood, but all in all, it's still a reasonably entertaining film.

Black Book
Black Book(2007)

One of the best WW2 films I've ever seen. The 2hrs 25m just flies by. The actors are all perfect for their roles, especially Carice van Houten who must've been criminally overlooked for an Oscar. They all speak Dutch, German and English, while Carice sings well too. Even after several viewings, the clues to the plot twists become more apparent, but it still holds the viewers' interest well.
(If I have a criticism, and it's a tiny one, it's that Rachel is seen alive and well in Israel in the 1950s at the beginning of the film. It is therefore known that she must survive the 1940s in Holland, which detracts very slightly from the tension. I would also like to know about the true events on which this film is based, perhaps as a DVD extra, as the subterfuge and double-dealing is stunningly sneaky.) Quite brilliant.

Romeo Must Die
½

I saw the first half of this, and it wasn't so much bad as just very non-descript, unmemorable and really boring. It was like a Steven Seagal film without Steven Seagal ie not much at all really. Ok, if you're very very bored I suppose.

Rope
Rope(1948)

Undoubtedly clever, plot-wise, direction-wise and especially the way much of it is filmed in very long flowing shots, but whether it's really enjoyable is another matter. It fits in comfortably well with other early colour Hitchcocks of the era, so if you like Dial M For Murder, Vertigo, North By Northwest, you'll probably like this, but I can't say that I did really. It's more of an exercise, almost an experimental film, rather than entertainment per se.

Flammen & Citronen (Flame & Citron) (The Flame and the Lemon)

Very serious and often confusing true WW2 film about Danish resistance hitmen Flame & Citron. This is somewhat similar to Black Book or Max Manus, but rather more sombre, with a web of intrigue and espionage that perhaps detracts slightly from the plot's momentum, as the viewer like the characters, wonders if what they're doing is right rather than wholeheartedly urges them along throughout. This is not to say it is boring in any way, just puzzling, more like a whodunnit than a traditional war film. I found the 'look & feel' with the period shops, cars, etc to be especially well done. Recommended.

Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange) (Survival Run)
½

Absorbing WW2 film from Verhoeven, which will probably be considered a close 2nd to Zwartboek by most people. This is slightly less pacy and mainstream, yet possibly more thought-provoking. To me, the only flaws I saw were that the colouration of the film looked a bit 1970s and nowhere near as vivid as the more modern Zwartboek, and also the jumping to & from Dutch-English became slightly annoying (I would've preferred the film 99% in Dutch as the English actors were all rather 'stiff upper lip' and stereotypical.) The music wasn't brilliant either. That said, this is an interesting historical film that is unfortunately rather difficult to come by. If you find it, watch it.

Everything is Illuminated

This reminded me somewhat of a Ukrainian version of Amelie - a geeky youngster on a journey of discovery, bright colours, gentle comedy, quirkiness and accordion music. A 'nice' film in almost every way. The only thing that stopped me giving this the full 5 stars, is that the whole plot seemed rather too convenient and contrived. Maybe in the full book, this is less apparent. On repeat viewing, it can be a bit tiresome and miserable too. Even so, a thoughtful, different and enjoyable film, with a nice dog and some nice goats in it too!

Disturbia
Disturbia(2007)

At first, this is reasonably amusing - a bit like Ferris Buelller's Day Off, then the Rear Window plot gets going which is ok, it all gets very techy and full of Blair Witch-style panicky suspense over nothing which is pretty irritating and then it all ends a bit like Friday the 13th. As a whole, it's a none-too-deep modernisation of Rear Window for the PlayStation generation, but somehow not as good as that might sound. Where it goes wrong, is nobody is especially likeable, so if they all kill each other, the viewer doesn't really care. It's also fantastically implausible: the chances of some kid with a name like Kale (isn't that a type of seaweed?) pulling a beautiful 'intelligent' girlfriend whilst not being allowed out and wearing an ankle tag may seem farfetched enough, but he also seems to have endless modern expensive gadgets like no kid I've ever met and is a closet McGyver, happens to live across the road from a serial killer who kills people conveniently by the windows and most improbably of all, Kale actually watches rather than just loafing about with his iPod. The serial killer has plenty of opportunity to stab Kale, the girlfriend or his Mum, but somehow neglects to, leaving the way open for a happy ending. The chances of all this coming together must be right up there with a zebra winning the Grand National. Chewing gum for the eyes if you're on a long bus journey or something, but looking out of the windows might be more interesting.

Amélie
Amélie(2001)

Maybe I'm a fruitcake, but for about ten years I thought Amelie was the best film ever. Even now, after having seen it about a dozen times, it's still right up there. It's the epitome of a 'nice' film - uplifting, amusing, quirky, faintly magical, yet tinged with sadness. The simple pleasures in life that the characters like - skimming stones, ice skaters' costumes, picking glue off their hands - are well-observed and deep-rooted in most of us. The scenes with Bretodeau in the phone box & the bar are really effective, and to some extent, makes us all wish we could do an Amelie-esque deed for someone like that. Wonderful film.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

It started off almost good, fizzled out in a big way soon after and by the time it reached the woefully unbelievable antique shop scene, I was becoming very bored indeed. Then it turned into some depraved kind of porn movie and the remote control beckoned. How this ever got the green light is beyond me. Ali G was funny for a while, Borat was funny for a brief moment on Da Ali G Show, but this film should ensure Cohen's comedy career goes into an irretrievable tailspin. (I'm giving it half a star only for the bear which brought the only real laugh when it leaned out of the back of the ice cream van and scared the kids.)

Apocalypto
Apocalypto(2006)
½

It's Braveheart in the jungle. It's The Fugitive. It's High Noon. It's First Blood. It's Gladiator. It's all those things and it's probably as good as any of them in parts. A very different kind of modern film, being entirely spoken in some ancient Mayan language. However, if you are a bit squeamish and didn't like the tapir bit at the beginning, you might not want to see the rest...

Australia
Australia(2008)
½

It starts off like Rocketeer (for me, this was the weakest and annoying section), then it becomes Romancing the Stone with a bit of Indiana Jones thrown in, settles down to become Gone With the Wind via some snippets of Wizard of Oz and ends up being Pearl Harbor. If you imagine an almagam of all those films, you'll get a fair idea of how good this is. It looks wonderful throughout, it's all very 'epic' in feel, it goes on rather too long and apart from the PC message about how Australia treated the Aborigines, it doesn't really have much substance. That said, it's enjoyable enough for the most part and has 'bank holiday Monday matinee' written all over it.

Run Fatboy Run
½

This is like a comedy version of Rocky. Although the laughs don't exactly come thick & fast, and some of the slapstick gets a bit Norman Wisdom-esque at times, it's agreeable enough.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)

Behind all the cinematic 'smoke & mirrors', the underlying story is rather a silly one. Nolan's overuse of non-linear storytelling to add mystery to a fairly simplistic plot, especially at the beginning, becomes quickly tiresome. Ironically, if this film is like a magic trick then 'the pledge' is a good one, 'the turn' is rather long and over done, and 'the prestige' is where it really falls down, by not being as surprising as it thinks it is. For me, the denouement was about 80% obvious long before it was revealed, very slowly, at the end, even on first viewing. I liked this film first time around, but my interest drops away exponentially with every repeat showing. The Illusionist performs better in this respect, despite lacking some of the gloss that the cast bring to The Prestige. Don't get me wrong though, this is not at all bad, being quite different from the usual mainstream Hollywood output and reasonably enjoyable for anyone with a passing interest in conjuring and period drama.

El Cid
El Cid(1961)
½

Three hours that really dragged by, briefly interrupted by some very decent swordfights and jousting. Under closer scrutiny, the later bigger battle scenes look a lot like handbags at 10 paces, with extras just waving swords about. Herbert Lom plays an amusing pantomime baddy, something like a cross between Captain Hook and Mustapha Leak. The real villain of the piece though, is the languid direction and editing which kill El Cid long before the arrows do. If it had about 40mins removed, it could be so much better. The audio mixing on the version I had wasn't brilliant either - most of the time you could hardly hear the dialogue, then the trumpets and timpani would deafen you a minute later which was very annoying. For such a renowned epic, I thought it was only so so.

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)
½

Somehow the wartime intrigue and general sneakiness of the characters seems unusually realistic for a film. Pace is also one of its stronger points, being almost dynamic for a film of its era. Peter Lorre is great for the brief spell that he appears. The script is witty throughout, although delivered rather too quickly at times to seem believable. For me, the only real flaw is that none of the Germans seem all that German or even act mean enough to convey the oppression and fear the characters are supposedly feeling. It is also rather difficult to feel for Ilsa as she is of rather dubious moral fibre, compared to Rick who is actually a lot more honest than he first seems. Perhaps that's the idea - that one can't tell a book by its cover?! Anyway, a classic and deservedly so.

The Invasion
The Invasion(2007)

Not actually as bad as the reviews might make one think, this is similar yet different enough to the 1950s version to be perfectly watchable. For me, it was the overuse of everyone phoning and texting each other that spoiled it. Without that, I would've given it another half a star. There were a few good scenes early on, but they fizzled out towards the end. An ok film, but not something you'll want to watch repeatedly.

(Btw, I found the featurette on the DVD about Morgellons disease far scarier than the film could ever be!)

This Is England

A film of two halves - the first part about Shaun at school, the 1980s scene-setting is really well done. The second part, when Combo appears is when the film becomes gritty, 'hard-hitting' and at times, somewhat facile and tiresome. From the outset, it is clear that Combo is a powder keg, so all that follows is not especially surprising. Prison obviously hasn't reformed him, he has nothing to really live for, and when his unrequited love is spurned, he goes crazy, which for me (without spoiling the end for anyone reading this), seemed like rather an easy and illogical get-out from the writers. That said, some strong parallels between the 1980s and the present day - a dubious war, disenfranchised youth, immigration, unemployment, housing - make this a gripping and thought-provoking wholly British movie.

The Elephant Man
½

A film which is far cleverer than would first appear. Lynch, Hopkins and especially John Hurt combine to sensitively, and at times spellbindingly, put across a terribly sad story without resorting to schmaltz, without music tugging at the heartstrings, without long lingering deliberate shots- It is just brilliantly well acted. This film could so easily have been laughably bad or exploitative, whereas it ends up being a very touching piece that still says as much about the rest of us as it does about the Elephant Man himself...even now in these 'enlightened' times. Jeremy Kyle & his audiences could do worse than to watch this.

Alexander
Alexander(2004)

I suffered about 40 minutes of this, wondering how much worse the casting could've been. The rest of it, even on FFWD, didn't look too appealing. I really wanted to like it too, but I just couldn't.

Darling
Darling(1965)
½

This reminded me at times, almost throughout really, of a British take on La Dolce Vita set in 1960s swinging London, then Paris, then Capri. A bunch of amoral, well off types cry and wail throughout, bemoaning what an unhappy life they lead, even though it's entirely brought upon themselves. As such, the viewer may find it difficult to sympathise with any of them, leading to no real emotional investment in what is, an overlong, indulgent and disappointingly shallow film. The 'casual' abortion scene and the pointless killing of the goldfish only added further disdain. How it came close to winning any Best Film awards is beyond me, as I found it boring and disagreeable in the extreme.

Rocky
Rocky(1976)

I don't know why I like Rocky 1 + Rocky 6, but I do. I can't really understand what Stallone's saying half the time, I'm not the biggest boxing fan in the world, it's corny, it's predictable, it features plenty of American flagwaving patriotism and it's hardly high brow, but somewhere amongst all that, it has an intangible something - it has heart. It's uplifting, almost inspiring, it has a good message. "Fanfare For Rocky" plays a strong part in this. Most of the film is so-so, but the training scenes, with the dog, the music, the steps, are a memorable highlight, more so than the big fight sequence at the end. My opinion may also be clouded by nostalgic reminiscences for the late 1970s, hiring Rocky III out on tape and being very excited about it. Simpler, happier times when 'nice' films still made good box office.

Farewell, My Lovely

A reasonable film, well acted, 1940s ambience etc, but it's so contrived, less amusing than it thinks it is and generally tiresome that by the end, you just don't care who Velma is. I got this free in a newspaper and like The Big Sleep before it, found it to be a total yawn.

The Riddle
The Riddle(2007)
½

I watched this a while ago, and although I don't mind Vinnie Jones & Derek Jacobi, I vaguely remember it being a rather laughable tale based on some lost Dickens manuscript near the Thames, but can't remember a thing more about it. Says it all really. Easily missed.

A Town Like Alice (Rape of Malaya)
½

A perfectly well-made film based on true WW2 events - some good acting, cinematography, the works - but so slow, long and understandably miserable that it takes some stamina to reach the happy ending. Perfectly watchable, and the DVD version I have which came free in a newspaper had a very clear (digitally remastered?) picture for 1956. Not bad at all.

Glengarry Glen Ross

A boring and unpleasant tale of boring and unpleasant estate agents. Littered with swearing throughout, even Al Pacino can't prevent this from being a total waste of everyone's time. Avoid.

Croupier
Croupier(2000)

Despite the faintly-ridiculous coolness at the beginning, the style, plot and dialogue for the most part are actually pretty clever under closer examination. Only the denouement is slightly unclear and could do with a few moments more to clarify exactly what happened. (I'm quite sure Reynolds is in on the plot, but this is hardly even alluded to). I liked the fight sequences, the Mini and the Austin Healeys too :-) A good British film.

Zatôichi (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi)

Kind of like a cross between the usual Japanese samurai movie, Sin City, and Daredevil perhaps with a bit of Bollywood-style dancing at the end. I found it quite enjoyable in a cartoonish sort of way, funny in brief spurts, suddenly violent and certainly different. Worth seeing once, but I don't know if I could watch it repeatedly. Peculiar.

War of the Worlds

Did you know, that if you were vapourised by a big laser beam, only your trousers would survive to flutter up into the air? Me neither, but half the cast in this film come to this rather laughable demise. Basing this film in New York is somehow underwhelming too. The book is set in and around London, so moving it to Tilbury might be ok, but New York... every US film is set in New York!

The rest of the film is hardly boring, but somehow completely ungripping too. The basement scene with the snakey eye thingy is moderately suspenseful, the first 15mins and the peanut butter scene are a complete flop, the rest is mainly a CGI showcase and a lot of shouting. Even John Williams seems to have had an off day as the music is completely forgettable. Probably the worst failing, apart from being reliant on Tom Cruise throughout, is the unsatisfactorily weak and sudden ending. The double-hard super-scary fighting machines die when a few pigeons land on them, and very quickly too. It seems they are allergic to pigeon poop. An alien dangles out of the cabin with some sort of cold and that's the end. So aliens have been planning this invasion for a million years, invented a way to zap everyone's solenoids(!), invented laser beams and giant walking machines, yet they never invented Lemsip? Hmmm.

Anyway, if you like scifi and fancy a laugh, this might just fit the bill.

Detour
Detour(1945)
½

For such an old low-budget noir, with an unknown cast of about 6, this makes compelling viewing. The plot is slightly predictable, slightly contrived, but clever nonetheless. Bad girl Vera is a great addition to the film late on. Well worth watching.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

To modern tastes, it might start a little too slowly, but I find the Italian style-over-substance scenario-setting just perfect. The rivalry between Tuco & Blondie really adds something to this film that the other two in the trilogy are somehow slightly lacking. The Civil War storyline with the bridge maybe goes on for slightly too long (especially if you have the extra 14 minutes of restored footage), but the ending from where Tuco searches the graveyard for Arch Stanton onwards, both visually and musically, is just perfection. Brilliant.

The Magnificent Seven
½

One of the best westerns around - there is hardly a moment's redundant footage, and consequently, it doesn't drag for a second. The action scenes are well done, the dialogue is often witty and the music is very memorable. Eli Wallach & Yul Brynner are at their best too. A must see.

(If you have the 45min "Guns For Hire" as an extra on the DVD, it's better than most 'making of' featurettes).

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz(2007)

Amusing throughout, even hilarious in a few places, Hot Fuzz is one of the better British films of recent years. The ending action scenes go on rather too long, but apart from that, it's never boring. If you liked Shaun of the Dead, you'll love this.

Suspicion
Suspicion(1941)

One of Hitchcock's better films, and for such and old b&w film made on the cheap with hardly any sets and a cast of 9, it is entertaining, suspenseful and amusing in equal measures. I've seen it about 3 or 4 times, and still find Beaky one of the best characters in any of Hitchcock's films. Some interesting old cars too. Recommended.

Looking for Eric
½

You don't need to be a football fan, a ManU fan or even a Cantona fan to like this film, but if you are, you'll love it. It's mainly about coping with daily life, daily problems on a Manchester council estate. The 'ghost' of Cantona adds something novel - this is almost like a French film in many ways - and the ending is wonderful. Goodfellas probably has less swearing in it though, so maybe not one to watch over tea & scones with the vicar. The "United We Stand" documentary on disc 2 is also good. Highly recommended.

For a Few Dollars More (Per Qualche Dollaro in Più)

If I'm splitting hairs, this is probably the weakest of the three in Leone's Dollars trilogy. The plot is reasonably straightforward, it's slightly over long, and the music is not quite as brilliant as in the other two films and maybe even slightly over used. That said, it's still in the top 3 westerns I've ever seen. I am probably only seeing these flaws because I've watched it about a dozen times. The musical watch, El Indio as a very villainous villain, the fist fight, the opening titles and the finale are all brilliant.

The Four Musketeers

Slightly better than the Three Musketeers, mainly because it has less 'funny' moments in it (apart from the scene on the 'ice' which looks totally like polystyrene and is terrible). Oliver Reed features more and this goes a long way towards improving the film. The battle for La Rochelle, the fire and most of the swordplay are all more interesting than the previous film.
There are even some nice goats in it. It's ok I suppose, for an Easter Bank Holiday Monday afternoon with the kids.

Half Moon Street
½

An unusual, if fairly unremarkable thriller that only really has two things going for it. No, not those. (i) it's short (ii) lots of shots of 1980s London street scenes, old cars, red buses, phone boxes etc. In years to come, it might be this quaintness that makes the film a kind of cult classic. Apart from that, it's pretty bland, farfetched in the extreme and Michael Caine isn't in it as much as it needs him to be. Not a bad film if you got it free in a Sunday paper.

Hang 'em High

If you've seen the Sergio Leone westerns lately, this looks like such a poor imitation. It starts off ok, then it fizzles out in a big way, ending quite unexpectedly with no climax at all. (After a picnic! Can you imagine Sergio Leone including a picnic in a Western?!) The music isn't very good throughout, there is rather too much hanging of all and sundry, and apart from Clint's character, the only other who holds any real interest is
the little cow at the beginning. Boring.

The Hitch-hiker

For a super-low-budget movie, this is surprisingly decent. It starts off well, keeps the viewer gripped for about an hour, then ultimately disappoints with a fairly lame ending. (It is based on a true story, so maybe that's just what happened in real life!?) Talman makes a great bad guy, holding together what could've been very boring indeed. Not a bad noir.

Harvey
Harvey(1950)

It's an original premise, arguably a clever one, but funny? Just like the pooka rabbit, I can't see it myself. Maybe it has dated badly - the quickfire conversations were often an annoying assault on the eardrums, especially with the Judge's super-whiny voice. The repetitive "here's my card" routine quickly becomes tiresome and I never really swallowed the simplistic moral to this tale: it's better to be insane & happy, than sane & miserable. That's fine if you've got limitless money and can live in a bar all day with your imaginary friends. Great. Go ahead. For the rest of us though... we have to put up with reality, which unfortunately often does make us miserable. James Stewart was very good as usual, as was the bloke who skidded over on the wet floor at the beginning, bringing the only brief smirk to an otherwise tiresome comedy.

The Three Musketeers
½

I recently read the book and this film follows it surprisingly closely in all but tone. A mistake which is further exacerbated by some strange casting choices, who inject 'humour' with tiresome regularity. The book is slightly over long, rather wordy, very French, grown-up and serious. It's a classic - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This on the other hand, is rather childish, faintly jocular, hardly French at all and really pacy. If you didn't know the story beforehand, I'm not sure you'd follow this. The swashbuckling fight sequences are very hammy, whilst all surrounding furniture is quite obviously made of balsa wood. Some of the non-fighting stunts are good, but otherwise, I was pretty much bored rigid. Might be ok for an Easter Monday bank holiday for a kid who has run out of chocolate.

My Left Foot
My Left Foot(1989)
½

A very well acted, worthy movie, yet somehow not an especially moving one. For me to be moved, a film needs some ups and downs, some light and shade. As you might expect, this wasn't a barrel of laughs. The few lighter moments were very welcome, but was everything dark brown and drab in 1950s Ireland? Was nothing easy on the eye? Unexpectedly, it wasn't so much the focus on the disability that was depressing, but everything else - the poverty, the love/rejection, the artwork, and just generally the story, the set/colour/location, the era, the unpleasant father, the almost total lack of humour. It could easily have been so much better. It's good, especially if you got it free in a Sunday paper, but I can't say I'd really recommend it, much as I'd like to.

Gone With the Wind

The new DVD version I saw had very clear, crisp picture & audio quality, belying the film's age. This went some way to reducing the stamina required to see this saga through. I found the acting (especially at the beginning) looked acted, the sets always looked like sets. Despite the story spanning a good number of years, nobody seemed to age a day. The sumptuous Hollywoodness of it all, with accompanying orchestra, often made the 'touching' scenes less than emotional or realistic. By the end, I was quite bored. Even the "Frankly my dear" line was kind of lost in a torrent of crying and whimpering, which really was becoming too much by the third hour. It's good, probably very good for the time, but not exactly great.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
½

I watched abour 3/4 of this, and there was just so much yuckiness and too much singing that I couldn't stand any more.

Moulin Rouge!
½

I tried to watch this in French, and after about 20 minutes, I just couldn't go on. Maybe it's better in English, but I doubt it.

Cobra
Cobra(1986)

Stallone: "How bad is it?"
Cop: "It's bad"

Stallone's opening line pretty much sums the film up, yet it does have a few mildly redeeming features. The Eightiesness of it all gives it some style. Sly seems to have been enjoying Miami Vice, Hunter, MTV and Dirty Harry at the time. Some of the lines, if you can understand Sly's drawl, are quite amusing early on - I laughed out loud a few times which is more than I do with many modern comedies. The car chase and the old US cars were moderately interesting, but mainly, whilst you won't believe a word of it, the whole film doesn't outlast its welcome and become boring. Despite my better judgement, I almost enjoyed it.

The Outlaw
The Outlaw(1943)

Slightly suspenseful in places, but generally the action scenes are few and far between. Not much really happens throughout and when it does, it's usually underwhelming. The stupid 'funny' music makes the film especially dated & corny. On the plus side, the horse & the weird chicken(?) are endearing, and the take on the Billy the Kid/Brushy Bill legend is mildly interesting. So so.

Sugata Sanshiro (Judo Saga) (Judo Story)

This seemed to me to be like Kurosawa's precursor to Rocky, only with judo (and a bit of strangling thrown in for good measure). The version I watched had a terrible translation for the subtitling which I guess must've added to the confusion of an already-incoherent film and maybe even mistranslated judo for karate!? Anyway some of the fight sequences were ok - even though some of the hardnut combatants seemed to flake out after 'handbags at 10 paces' - but generally I found the whole non-fighting subplots a bit of a drag. Rocky wins by a knockout!

Letters from Iwo Jima

A much better film than Flags of Our Fathers, this is engaging from start to finish. The first air attack scenes are quite staggering, but the main strength of this film lies in the characters and their own personal dramas, which were apparently taken from the real letters. War films rarely come better than this, but due to some graphic content and very emotional scenes, it is not going to be to everyone's liking.

The Terminal
The Terminal(2004)
½

Based on a true-but-none-too-exciting story, Tom Hanks plays a foreigner from some fictitious Russian-sounding country like Bargainbinistan, who through some paperwork confusion, ends up living in a US airport. That's where the fun ends. It's a Spielberg film, so it's a bit slow, rather sickly, and overly long. Boooooorrrrrriiiiiiing.

The Living Daylights

I've tried to watch this several times, but I just can't. It's the only James Bond film I've not seen all the way through. There's a scene where James Bond escapes from a bunch of gunmen, by sliding down a snowy hill riding a cello. Says it all really.

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
½

I like Monty Python, but apart from Eric Idle's Universe Song in this, I hated pretty much all of it, especially the stupid Crimson Permanent Assurance opening thing which must've cost a fortune and puts the viewer in a bad mood before the main film starts. I have this on DVD and VHS somehow and I can't give them away.

Doctor Zhivago

Long and miserable.

The Terror (The Haunting) (The Castle of Terror)
½

For a film called "The Terror", there wasn't a lot of terror in it. It was very slow, had a cast of 6 plus an eagle, entirely filmed on a beach and in one room of a cardboard castle. To be fair, the version I saw had a blurry picture with the audio not quite in sync which may have detracted somewhat from the enjoyment. Jack Nicholson plays a French soldier, yet doesn't even attempt the slightest Pepe Le Pew accent. The special FX (especially the lightning strike) are terrible in the extreme. It was good to see Jack Nicholson & Boris Karloff though, albeit when their careers must've been at a low ebb. There are worse films around, but not many.

Flags of Our Fathers

This film makes a good point about the PR side of war, the peculiar nature of being a 'hero' and what it does to the person who becomes one. The battle scenes were very well done, almost gruesomely so. All in all though, it felt like a half hour story spun out into two hours. No part of it was extremely memorable and all of it was rather too American for non-Americans to find particularly interesting. Rather forgettable.

Roman Holiday
½

Even though I'm not really the target audience for this film, it was very enjoyable. Funny in places and generally charming throughout. They don't make 'em like they used to.

3:10 to Yuma
3:10 to Yuma(1957)

I saw the remake first and liked it, but this original version is definitely better. The slight overuse of the theme music throughout is missing from the remake, but adds a very 1950s ambience to this version. Glenn Ford perhaps isn't quite mean enough as the bad guy Wade, and neither are his hoppos, but the pace, suspense and cinematography are all much better. The ending is different too - perhaps a little fanciful and contrived, but I liked it. A great western.

A-Haunting We Will Go

Rather laboured and pedestrian comedy, that raises a few smirks along the way. The comic subplot with the magician is moderately successful, but it's the main plot with the gangsters that is completely uninteresting. Not bad for such an old film, if you see it for free on Google Videos like I did.

Millions
Millions(2005)

A really 'nice' family Xmas film that kids can enjoy and adults can watch with them, without it being too childish. A bit farfetched and whimsical, but all the better for it. Recommended.

Beat the Devil
½

A star-studded film set in Italy, but somehow it manages to be amazingly bland and unmemorable. Nothing really happens throughout (apart from a well-staged car crash on a mountain road). The comedy elements are extremely dated, hammy and weak. The plot and suspense so feeble, it can't hold your interest for 10 minutes, let alone 89. I like Peter Lorre, but he wasn't in it much. Gina Lollobrigida was the only redeeming feature. The print I saw was rather low-fidelity too. Instantly forgettable.

Slumdog Millionaire
½

Whilst I enjoyed this film, it's hardly a barrel of laughs apart from a few short moments of humour. The cinematography is very colourful and rather arty, but coupled with the rapid editing, parts often seem more like a stream of consciousness than a coherent story subplot which often detracts from any would-be emotion. Much as I liked the general plot idea, it did have a few holes in it. How Jamal found Latika after years apart seemed unduly easy, as did the later questions on the game show, which should've been nigh impossible. Jamal's expression didn't often vary from 'surprised' either. I did like the very Indian-style end credits. All said, it was still mostly worthy of the hype.

21
21(2008)
½

Presented about as excitingly and colourfully as a none-too-visual premise could be. A story about some maths students being good at card-counting in Blackjack needs a bit of colour, bright lights and CSI pizzazz, which is what it gets here, without detracting from the storyline. Could've done with some better music in places, but this enjoyable film never drags and is perfectly watchable if not especially memorable.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Great music, and a reasonable telling of the age-old western story. Kirk & Burt and very good, the gunfight action sequences are quite exciting, but somehow what should be great turns out to be merely pretty good. Certainly worth a watch though.

Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe(1952)
½

A bit old-fashioned to most modern viewers' tastes and the audio was rather mumbled throughout, but the action scenes made up for it. The jousting in particular is really well done. Some of the swordplay looked rather liked 'handbags at 10 paces' but if you can overlook those minor faults, the film's pace, the castles, the way it makes use of the authentic original book version of Robin Hood and especially the action towards the end (which was surprisingly realistic for 1950s Hollywood) all go towards making this a solid Sunday afternoon film. It might even be exciting enough to get a modern kid to put down a PlayStation for a moment. Enjoyable.

The Legend of 1900 (La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano)

Despite being mostly set on a ship, this film has a very epic feel and is like an ocean-going version of Cinema Paradiso in many ways. The opening shots, amongst others, have a beautiful almost painting-like quality to them. Tim Roth is perfect, the Morricone music is of the usual high standard, the period-feel is very well done, yet somehow the potency (empathy? realism?) of Cinema Paradiso just isn't quite there. Recommended nevertheless.

Belly of the Beast

Astonishingly bad, but in a good way. It's never really dull, it's unintentionally hilarious in places, and the action is almost entertaining especially if you're a gun-polishing maniac. The end sequence with the CGI arrow and the voodoo has to be seen to be disbelieved. An ok film for when you've just returned from the pub with a Chinese takeaway.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)
½

A worthy message, but the whole premise seemed a bit contrived and unbelievable to me from the very outset. The beginning scenes in 'Berlin' didn't really look much like Berlin (it turns out it was filmed in Budapest) and as they didn't mention Berlin for a while, I thought they were in Yugoslavia or somewhere going by the look of the buildings. None of it is in German which totally detracts from any credibility and ambience. It plays like the whole film was aimed at older children (perhaps it was?) and by the BBC so as an adult, it all felt a bit 'Jackanory' to me - preachy and rather obvious where this moral fable was going. And anyway, La Vita e' Bella explored the same territory much much more effectively (also by Miramax) years ago, so this always felt like La Vita e' Bella Lite for children. It's ok, but certainly a long way short of the mega masterpiece the extras might lead you to believe it to be.

Death Defying Acts

I liked The Illusionist and I liked The Prestige, so a similar genre film about Houdini in Scotland made by the BBC would be good too, right? Well, not quite. There isn't much "death defying" in it and it drags for a while at frequent intervals. It looks good throughout (especially the rooftop gargoyle scenes) in a 'made for tv' movie kind of way, the plot is almost clever towards the end and it's not overly long, but somehow it just doesn't hang together or grip your interest. A curate's egg of a film.

Valkyrie
Valkyrie(2008)

Better than one might hope, considering it's ostensibly a Tom Cruise film, and despite the fact nobody really speaks much German in it, the complexity of the story and suspense leading up to the plot and attempted coup, carries the film along well. It isn't boring for a moment. The DVD extra "Legacy" is also well worth a watch.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)
½

Green Goblin rather ruins it, otherwise it's pretty good.

Daredevil
Daredevil(2003)
½

I've seen the first 20 minutes of this a few times. I really wanted to like it as Daredevil is a good comic, but Ben Affleck is just so vapid, it can never work. A shame.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)
½

A near-perfect superhero movie, and quite different from the rest in many ways. The plot was rather strange and unusually complex for such a genre. The CGI is used more sparingly, and looks pretty flawless throughout. There is more music, and thankfully, less 'blipvert' editing. It is however, very long, possibly too long for most viewers, although having said that, it is never boring. I've never read the original comic book, so can't compare, but the film is one of the best - better even than Dark Knight. Recommended.

Porridge
Porridge(1979)

Good throughout and hilarious at times. One of the best spin-off movies from a British series.

The Tree of Wooden Clogs (L'albero degli Zoccoli)
½

One of the most boring, long-winded, miserable films I've ever sat through. This is like a 'warts and all' documentary of peasant life around Bergamo in the early 1900s. The pig killing scene early on, totally spoiled it for me, but without that, it was still hardly the most riveting of films. Avoid.

The Man Who Fell to Earth: Bonus Material

Very run-of-the-mill DVD extra with short interviews with all the luvvies with the notable exception of Bowie, no real making-of footage or anything really very new. It's ok, but hardly earth-shattering.

The Eagle Has Landed

A fairly absurd premise, spoiled further by the extremely irritating Donald Sutherland and his stupid whistling dog trick. Luckily, Michael Caine carries the film, the rest of the cast are ok and for all its shortcomings, this isn't a bad film if you're fairly easily pleased and you got it free in a Sunday newspaper.

La Dolce Vita
½

For such a renowned classic, I was rather disappointed in this. At 3hrs, it really does drag. It looks great throughout, the era, Rome, classic cars, great cinematography at times, but it just rambles on about nothing really. There is some message about discontentment amongst the partying classes, and a few other poetic moments, but these are just vague or few and far between. The scenes where several foreigners speak English, French, Italian, German, almost simultaneously are just chaotic and grating on the nerves. The whole 'miracle' scene, the party and the beach scenes at the end are equally annoying. For hardened cinema goers only.

The Man Who Fell to Earth

Strange and for the most part, interesting and intelligent too but regrettably cheapened somewhat by overuse of frequent and tiresome 'arty' bedroom scenes, which in turn stretches the total running time beyond that of many viewers' patience. The alien stuff is by far the highlight of this film. Nearly great, but not quite.

The Public Enemy

Decent gangster flick with some amusing moments, but all in all, rather slow and disappointing compared to White Heat. Cagney is great and carries the film throughout, but can't quite do enough to make up for the staid plot and editing. The DVD version I watched had a very clean print for a 1931 film, and reasonable audio too. You just have to see the trailer - it's so amazingly bad, you won't believe it!

King Kong
King Kong(2005)

This whole exercise in CGI goes on a bit and the dinosaurs, insects etc grow tiresome very quickly. The last half hour is very good though if your patience lasts that long.

Gimme Shelter
½

Unusual documentary film that captures the era well. Starts off rather slowly though, and by the time Tina Turner appeared (I could've done without that bit), I almost gave up, but then the film picked up quite dramatically. There are a few backstage words with Mick and Charlie, but mainly this film concentrates on the Altamont footage. If you like the Stones, you'll probably love this film. If you don't, it's still not bad anyway.

Nobel Son
Nobel Son(2008)
½

I think this is supposed to be a black comedy, only without any laughs. The plot and premise, whilst farfetched, are quite clever albeit a little twisted and yucky. The music, with some irritating vocoder moments, seems to be randomly chosen and randomly placed throughout the film which detracts somewhat, along with some ropey cinematography and dodgy editing, all of which conspire to make this an unappealing way to spend 2hrs. Much as I generally like Alan Rickman, I'd avoid this one.

The Dam Busters
½

Starts off interestingly enough, with the invention and development of the bouncing bomb, fizzles out a bit in the middle and ends on a muted high. The special effects, the extreme patriotism, the pedestrian pace and everyone smoking a pipe, all seem rather dated now, but it's a reasonable enough film that plays almost like a documentary.

Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor(2001)

After about an hour of insipid lovey-dovey Hollywood-by-numbers mush, the battle scenes are almost a welcome break. (I guess at this point you're not supposed to be rooting for the Zeroes, but you almost are!) Dubious historical accuracy aside, the aerial scenes, explosions and CGI are very well done in places, but soon, they too become rather a bore when they go on too long with too much camera shake and overly quick editing. After the attack, you think/hope the film is probably over, but no, it drags on another hour, which is arguably the best hour of the film. All in all, rather ho-hum and quite missable.

Get Carter
Get Carter(1971)

Get Carter has a kind of intangible stylishness that makes it appealing when the subject matter is so unappealing. The Newcastle drizzle, the downmarket bed & breakfast lodgings, the cars, the multi-storey car park, the betting shop and the beach at the end are all so very un-Hollywood, this could only be a British film, and one which captures the era perfectly. Michael Caine is at his best here.

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
½

At first glance, this seems better than Nightmare Before Xmas - the animation is smoother, the models are better, the scenery looks better - but after about 20 minutes you notice that it just never becomes engaging. The songs are mainly irritating, the characters dreary and it all just seems rather silly. Probably ok if you're about 10yrs old, but beyond that and you'll be looking at your watch.

Ring of Bright Water
½

Set mostly in Scotland, this British film from the 1960s seemingly revolves solely around the antics of Mij the otter, but in truth is rather deeper than that. It shows us, amongst other things, that a simple life with a few animals for company can be far more rewarding and enjoyable than a 'successful' life in London with all it entails. The film occasionally lapses into Disney-esque farce in places, with Mij pulling down the curtains and wrecking the house, which detracts slightly from what is otherwise a good film. As ever with animal films (and there are a lot of different animals in this, not just otters), it has some sad moments too, but don't let that put you off. Recommended family viewing. One of the better free-in-a-newspaper DVDs I've ever seen.

Wild Strawberries
½

Wild Strawberries has a lot of parallels with A Christmas Carol - a grumpy well-to-do old man, sees his earlier life in flashbacks and at the end, changes his ways to some degree. This film strikes the viewer as a very clever, poetic and subtly thought-provoking film which remains engrossing throughout. I personally found it overstepped the mark a few times, bordering on madness. I didn't expect a Bergman film to be a barrel of laughs, and true enough, it wasn't, but it was still quite accessible. I preferred it to the even-more-miserable Seventh Seal. The acting is rather ropey in places and the dinner table scene was quite annoying, but apart from that it was certainly interesting, if not high on everyone's lists of favourite films.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)
½

Probably the best of the 3 Spiderman films, this one almost has some talking and a bit of a plot, but is, as ever, ultimately drowned out in a sea of CGI fight scenes. Even so, younger viewers will love it and older viewers will still find it reasonably enjoyable.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil
½

The first half is amusing, but then it fizzles out and becomes almost tiresome by the end. I don't know how the 2 baddies + their hostage managed to fit in a 2-seater Alfa Spider either. I felt like knocking a star off for the heart-wrenching Alfa collision which is still the saddest part in any film to me, much sadder than Yoda dying :-( Mediocre though this may be, I can't think of many comedies in the last 20yrs that are funnier. Worth a watch.

Enemy at the Gates
½

I read some bad reviews of this about how it takes liberties with historical fact etc, but putting that aside, I thought it was about as well done as can be for an English language mainstream film. Bob Hoskins wasn't as laughable as one might expect as Khruschev, and true enough, you can tell the Russians by their London accents and the Germans by their American accents, but the scenery, the ambience and even the CGI aeroplanes are all very well done. Only the very posh shoeshine boy spoiled it a bit for me. Even if you're not a big fan of war films, as I'm not, this is still worth a look.

Insomnia
Insomnia(2002)
½

A bit more of the Alaskan scenery would've dramatically improved what is otherwise a fairly humdrum police detective story. The scene with the floating logs is quite memorable, but not much else. It's ok, but towards the end, it cured me of any insomnia.

The Whistle Blower

A rather typical free-inside-a-newspaper DVD, this British cold war thriller often reminded me of a made-for-tv spy film crossed with a bit of Get Carter. Michael Caine keeps the film moderately watchable, and there are a few decent scenes, but over all it's nothing memorable.

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) (Nosferatu the Vampire)

Although Dracula himself is very well portrayed, the terrible quality of the print and mostly-annoying musical soundtrack was, to a modern viewer, quite unbearable. The creepiness is rather overplayed and borders on pantomime in places. (I liked the hyena though!) If you've seen Bram Stoker's Dracula or read the book, there's not enough extra here to make an hour and half of your time feel worthwhile.

Signs
Signs(2002)
½

Starts off by being mysterious-but-dreary which fortunately picks up towards the end, despite some unnecessarily miserable flashbacks at inopportune moments. On paper, the idea is rubbish, but the cast carry it off well enough for you to see it through. The aliens are quite amusing when they make their brief appearances. Not as good as Sixth Sense but not bad either.

Fargo
Fargo(1996)
½

I don't see why this is so highly thought of. The semi-Swedish accents became very irritating very quickly. Ok, so it's rather different and quirky, but the comedy wasn't really there, and neither was any real suspense or surprises. The cinematography and music were barely average, the pace rather slow and Peter Stormare's lack of dialogue was completely unrealistic unless he was out of his head on drugs. It was ok and fortunately, quite short, but certainly nothing to write home about.

Zulu
Zulu(1964)

Zulu portrays the ambience of the battle of Rorke's Drift very well and at the end, briefly touches on the absurdity of war, although there is hardly a mention of how this historical battle came about. The actual plot is hardly intricate and for many viewers, the waves and waves of Zulus will become a bit tiresome after 2hrs. The cattle stampede and the fire are very well done, but unfortunately during the battle scenes, some of the bayonet stabs clearly miss and many of the other shootings/stabbings leave no visible impression on the victim which makes it rather laughable in places. That said, Zulu is justly considered one of the best films of its kind.

Under Suspicion

Stylish and clever in its own way, but never really becomes gripping. It starts off interestingly, soon becomes unseemly and ultimately becomes tiresome. It's like a good made-for-tv movie, but is certainly something you could miss and not regret.

The Counterfeiters

An amazing, little-known true story well told. Whilst any story of this nature is inherently going to be quite depressing, this one doesn't overdo it. The 1hr 38m flies by and the DVD extras about the real people portrayed in the film expand on the real-life events quite considerably.

The Rocketeer
½

The only Disney film I ever liked. It does what it's supposed to very well, and the Howard Hughes stuff is a nice touch. Great for kids and reasonably enjoyable for adults.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3(2007)

Nobody ever told the Spiderman producers that "less is more". The action sequences and the CGI (amazing though it is) just swamp the film, leaving very little else in between, which is a shame as the previous films were perfectly watchable fare. The 'Staying Alive' scenes where Peter Parker becomes cool & bad were quite amusing, but at 2hrs 20m, you'll find your patience being a little tested by the CGI finale. It's alright, but not great.

Walk the Line
½

I was never a big fan of 1950s music, so it was with some reluctance that I watched this film. Joaquin Phoenix was great in it and considering the actors did the singing/playing themselves, they were quite amazing. Johnny Cash had an interesting life, yet the film doesn't quite convey the excitement one would expect. There is hardly any action whatsoever. The start - the childhood part - is very drab and full of mumbling which tests the viewers' patience early on. All in all, a solid biopic, but not something you'll watch again and again.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

The plot of this classic film noir is quite brilliant. Whilst perhaps not stunningly original in premise, it has hardly a dull moment. The acting and dialogue may be a bit stilted in places (the scene with the cat for example) but this doesn't detract much. The stunt scenes with the old cars are very effectively done and show just how little special FX and CGI are needed to make a great movie. One of the best noirs around.

Once Upon a Time in America
½

Undoubtedly an epic, a masterpiece, a 'great' film. However, it's not an immensely likeable one and at almost 4hrs, not fantastically enjoyable either. In the gangster genre, it fits somewhere between Goodfellas and The Godfather - somehow lacking the wit, pace and humour of the former, yet not quite as epic as the latter. The events of the 35 'gap' years that the film spans are left just hanging in the air for the viewer - Maxie seems to have lived a little, maybe Deborah too, but Noodles, Fat Moe and the other hoods seem to have just skipped that interim period, growing old but doing nothing much - which seems rather an omission in such a super-long epic. (Deborah didn't even look 35yrs older either!)

They say on the DVD extras featurette that the score is one of Morricone's greatest works. To me (and I'm a big fan), his other Dollars' trilogy music and those for Tornatore's Malena and especially Cinema Paradiso are far superior. This music, though suitable enough, wouldn't seem out of place in a sombre Spaghetti Western. The slow pace of many of the scenes may even dissuade many people from seeing it all the way through, and I wasn't very satisfied with the closure of several plot points at the end.

Certainly worth seeing once or twice, but not something you'll want to see again and again.

Three Colors: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge)

My favourite of the trilogy, Rouge is probably also the oddest and most thought-provoking one. As is often the case with artworks, there are many small elements that don't really make any sense, but still add to the overall ambience. The cast, especially Irene Jacob (and Rita!) played their roles perfectly. Highly recommended.

Crime Novel
Crime Novel(2005)

Stylish, moody and well made though this film may be, but just like City Of God, I found it overly unpleasant. Everyone shoots everyone and nobody is likeable. It's nearly Scarface, it's nearly Goodfellas, it's nearly Godfather pt III, and whilst never really boring, it somehow falls short on most counts. Apart from a few interesting 1970s cars, some reasonable music and some decent cinematography, I find this film difficult to recommend. I far prefer Distretto di Polizia.

300
300(2007)
½

It's like a comic book cross between Gladiator and some of those old Sinbad films. Whilst based (very loosely I imagine) on true history, by using so much "strength, courage, honour" & "This is Sparta" machismo with husky dying breath whispering, long overly-stylish CGI battle scenes featuring strange, ugly giant Persians who don't die as easily as the rest of us and marauding semi-fictional CGI battle creatures, it somehow manages to come across as less realistic than even said Sinbad films and a long way short of Gladiator. That said, if you want a laddish night in over a lager, something to poke fun at, and you're a Frank Miller fan, you could do a lot worse. Not really one for when you've got your Nan visiting though.

Hope and Glory

Set in London at the beginning of WW2, this film starts off well with some good aeroplane sequences, the barrage balloon and period details showing life for an 'average' family. However, from about halfway onwards, it starts to fizzle out in a big way. The realism evaporates and then when the family move to Richmond(?) somewhere, it all becomes very casual and jolly. You'd hardly know there was a war going on at all! They seem to really enjoy themselves. I imagine for real people, life was a bit tougher than this - food shortages, casualties, and certainly no living altogether in a big house on an island in the sunshine without contributing anything to the war effort. The Grandpa character is very pantomimey and rather akin to Toad of Toad Hall. The 1st Canadian in it is quite irritating, the 2nd even more so. All the 'charming' parts such as singing along to the piano and Xmas parties, seem very stage school-like and AmDram. It's not a terrible film - you might even enjoy the first hour - but it does become rather twee and drag a bit towards the end.

Goal! The Dream Begins (Goal!: The Impossible Dream)
½

It may be a bit of a facile formulaic football equivalent of Rocky, but it was pleasing enough. The game sequences are really well done. Ok, so it's a bit predictable but as there are so few football films around, if you're a football fan, you'll like it. If you're a Newcastle fan, you'll really like it.

Catch Me If You Can
½

Having read the brilliant book before seeing the film, I was rather disappointed in how much and what was omitted. The book has a lot more charm & humour throughout, most of which is lost in the film. DiCaprio is near perfect for the role, but the non-linear way it was edited needlessly detracted from the story which I think would've benefitted from an occasional voiceover from Abagnale, explaining some of the intricacies of what he was doing that couldn't easily be portrayed visually. A brilliant true-life story made mediocre.

Southland Tales

Although this film is long, it never really becomes boring. It starts off a bit like Terminator 2 and ends a bit like Donnie Darko without really making any sense in between. It may not quite be my cup of tea, but it's certainly different.

Cidade de Deus (City of God)
½

It says on the box that it's like a Brazilian Goodfellas. It's more like the most horrible bits of Goodfellas, Trainspotting and Snatch all distilled into one unpleasant cocktail of gun-toting children, shaky cameras, drug-taking, swearing and of course, endless shooting. Everybody shoots everybody in this. I knew after about 30 seconds I wasn't going to like this, and true enough, I didn't. A shame really because the general thread about the photographer is a worthy (true) story in itself, only it's masked by the wall-to-wall violence. It's certainly not boring, but if you enjoyed it, you'll probably feel bad about it. I don't suppose the Rio Tourist Board enjoyed it and I pretty much hated it.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
½

Although I seem to be in the minority, I thought it was pretty good for what it is - a superhero film, aimed at younger viewers, overly full of very good CGI. The Silver Surfer/Norrin Radd and the Fantasticar made this a tiny bit better than the first film, and I think more faithful to the 1960s comics. Dr Doom is still a bit rubbish and some of the 'funny' lines are kind of painful, but I'd put that down to American tastes. If you want a film to watch with your kids, that you can half-heartedly enjoy too, then you could do a lot worse than this.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

A surprisingly captivating documentary, that could be considered the geeky equivalent of Rocky for arcade machine fans of the 1980s. It won't shake your world, but it's an enjoyable enough way to spend 1hr 20mins.

Il Postino: The Postman (Il Postino)
½

A very gentle, charming film that is a lot cleverer than it first seems. Beautiful scenery and music combine to make this a film that will please young and old audiences alike. Deservedly acclaimed.

Little Caesar
½

Edward G Robinson makes a humdrum film quite good here, although I'd still put it some way behind White Heat. The new remastered version I saw, had great picture quality in parts, terrible quality in others & the audio was pretty rough throughout. This didn't enhance my enjoyment of what was a fairly reasonable, although slow by modern standards, gangster flick.

High Fidelity

The John Cusack backbone to this film is not bad at all, but the periphery - Jack Black especially - is irritating in the extreme. It says in the description "biting romantic comedy", yet for me it didn't raise even the slightest smirk. That's not to says it was entirely bad, just misdescribed. The neo-realism of Rob's life story was indeed well done. So well done in fact, that it was easy to find Rob and Laura rather loathsome leaving the viewer with not much sympathy for either of them until the very end. Well-meaning, but ultimately, instantly forgettable.

Man on Wire
Man on Wire(2008)

A brilliant documentary that had me gripped from beginning to end. The 'follow your dream' message comes across strongly throughout, and the intrigue regarding the illegal setup of the cables (not only at the WTC but also at Notre Dame and Sydney Harbour Bridge), the years leading up to the WTC stunt and the sometimes-fragile relationships between Philippe Petit and his entourage, all bring plenty of interest to the storyline. Considering this documentary is made up primarily of archive footage, amateur film, photos and interviews, joined together with a few reconstructions and modern interviews, it all hangs together very well. I particularly liked the subtext towards the end where Philippe questions why someone following a dream and 'doing a beautiful thing' is considered a dangerous nut by society. He almost has a point. Highly recommended!

Field of Dreams
½

According to Roger Ebert, I must be a Grinch or a grouch because to me, this hokey tale was like an overly-long patience-testing episode of Highway To Heaven or a Ghost Whisperer baseball special. It couldn't be more far-fetched if Casper hit a home run. Admittedly, it was a 'nice' non-violent heart-warming well-meaning kind of film, but then so is Rocky or a million other US films, many of which have less inherently daft premises and without 'cry now' scenes signposted throughout. It's probably great if you're a big fan of baseball or Iowa, a lot less great if you're not.

The Godfather, Part II
½

I actually liked this slightly more than the first film - probably as there were no horse's heads or blown-up Alfa Romeos - and I thought Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were faultless in this, as opposed to James Caan and Marlon Brando who were almost caricature mobsters in the first film. The only gripe I have, is that it was so very long! It comes on 2 DVDs and feels much like two films intertwined. I didn't think the non-linear telling of the story was especially successful and may have been improved by being split so that ptII was the 1920s Robert De Niro storyline and ptIII was the 1960s Al Pacino storyline, making a total of four films. This may sound like sacrilege, but how many people can truly enjoy a film 3hrs 20m long in one sitting? There were a few pointless scenes (eg the "pop goes the weasel" scene) that I would've removed altogether and a few 'lazy' plotlines that I would've lengthened, such as the 2nd hit on Hyman Roth. Who in their right mind would've been that hitman? Nobody. All said and done though, despite the dark mood, this is pretty much perfect.

The Godfather
½

Very very good, but I'm knocking off half a star for the destruction of the lovely rare Alfa Romeo. Surely it could've been done with a mock-up, or off camera? Spoiled the whole film for me.

Rambo III
Rambo III(1988)
½

Not my usual type of film, but it wasn't as bad as I expected. Some of the helicopter stuntwork was quite amazing. Plot-wise, it was like Rambo By Numbers and the few amusing lines from First Blood were missing in this. The music at the end was a very odd choice...

Rebecca
Rebecca(1940)
½

A great film when watched first time around. I've seen it three times now over the years, and the denouement does drag a little on repeat viewing. Unlike with The Great Escape, Amelie or Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, there aren't so many of the little charming touches that you notice and appreciate more on repeat viewings. Even so, it's an easy 4.5 stars for one of Hitchcock's masterpieces.

Malena
Malena(2000)
½

Very similar to Cinema Paradiso in many ways. Whilst Malena may start off seeming rather crass, littered with unsubtle almost-cartoonish jokes and lingering shots, it slowly develops into a near masterpiece, powerful and thought-provoking on so many levels.

The Dark Knight

It's alright, but the Lamborghini scene left me traumatised.

Amadeus
Amadeus(1984)
½

I've seen this film probably 5 times or so and it's still very watchable, primarily for F Murray Abraham's portrayal of 'old' Salieri which is quite brilliant. The pace, editing, music, storyline are all top notch. The only gripe I have that stops me from giving it 5 stars is the very American accents many of the actors have - even Simon Callow sounds American & he's British! Why? They could at least put on a neutral accent.

A Good Year
A Good Year(2006)

Very very predictable. The London types at the start of the film are so unpleasant you may well give up in the first 20 minutes, but if you stick with it and accept the idea that everyone in France also speaks English, the 'charming' French parts raise the film to mediocre. That said, the obvious moral to this story about greed vs quality of life, is still a worthy one that people may need reminding of. It's easier to see this when you're 'winding down' to a giant chateau, but still...

American Gangster
½

If you're not immediately turned off by the horrible opening scene, what follows is a very watchable, Ridley Scott equivalent of Goodfellas. Somehow it just falls slightly short of Goodfellas (the equivalent "what do you mean funny?" quickfire scene with Frank & his gangster pal's suit is far less memorable). It's interesting, it's enjoyable enough if a bit yucky in places, the music is good, but overall it's somehow lacking in general wit.

Delicatessen
Delicatessen(1991)

I liked the strange menu system on the DVD and I liked the end credits music. Apart from that, everything else was tiresome in the extreme. The water scene and anything involving the Troglos was chaotic, grating and I found myself wishing it would end. I really liked Amelie and Long Dimanche, so was terribly disappointed by this severely unfunny comedy.

March of the Penguins
½

I can't really imagine how a film of this genre could be bettered. It's the sort of film that schools should make kids watch. Quite brilliant.

The Lives of Others

Well written, well acted etc but oh so very drab and dull. The hours seemed to drag by slower than a wet weekend in Leipzig.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

The dreariest puppet show you'll ever see.

Caché
Caché(2005)

This film only really had two memorable scenes, both of which were very unpleasant. I absolutely hated the sudden flashback to the horrible scene with the chicken. Otherwise, there is not much to recommend a film with such deep meaning that the viewer is bored rigid whilst trying to figure it out, only to be met with an unsatisfactory and sudden ending. Yawn.

The Motorcycle Diaries
½

Great cinematography really adds a South American ambience. The 'awakening' of the young Che Guevara is, at times, quite touching amongst all the road trip fun shenanigans. For those without in-depth knowledge of Che Guevara, this film is educational and inspirational. I even liked the end credits music! (My only gripe is the speed of the subtitles which on occasion disappear before even the fastest of readers get to read them.) Highly recommended.

Open Range
Open Range(2003)

Formulaic in the extreme and ever so slow for the first 3/4 of the film. The cinematography is great throughout, and the gunfight scene almost makes up for everything, until it too begins to go on rather too long. At no point did this film ever become engrossing, exciting, moving or even imaginative. It's ok if you like westerns, but I can think of plenty better.

Strangers on a Train

A convoluted and clever plot which outwits most of today's offerings - the adage "They don't make 'em like they used to" couldn't be more true than with this film. A near masterpiece, marred only by some rather wooden uncharismatic female characters and a slightly farcical ending. Recommended especially if you find the DVD with the US/UK versions on opposite sides. Fans of Throw Momma From the Train will find extra enjoyment from this original.

Ned Kelly
Ned Kelly(2003)
½

This film is like the Ned Kelly equivalent of Braveheart, and doesn't fall far short. It possibly glorifies the truth somewhat and maybe the Irishness is slightly overdone, but generally good acting, atmosphere and direction all around. There are a surprising number of animals in this film (including a great little monkey!), most of which don't get a very good deal, which made it somewhat less enjoyable than it could've been. For that I'm removing half a star. Certainly worth a look.

1900 (Novecento)

Started off very slowly and after 40 minutes, the ongoing gratuitous cruelty to several frogs on the kid's hat sickened me enough to turn it off. The film might look beautiful, it might even be clever, but to me it was boring and unpleasant.

Jamaica Inn
Jamaica Inn(1939)
½

A complete lack of music, muffled audio, slow editing and a crackly dark print go some way towards spoiling what was nearly a good film. Charles Laughton makes an amusing villain towards the end. Slightly better than Under Capricorn, but not very memorable nonetheless.

The Ladykillers
½

Clever and interesting for about 40mins, then it all becomes rather farcical and a bit AmDram thereafter. I liked the parrots, the old cars and scenes of '50s London, but comedy-wise there's almost nothing there. I think I smirked almost once at the end, and I really wanted to like it. It's ok, but not something to go out of your way for.

De Battre mon Coeur s'est Arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped)
½

Strange and slow to start with, building up to a strange and almost exciting ending. Not bad, but hardly a barrel of laughs. A grubby, smoky film.

Scary Movie
Scary Movie(2000)

The first half is reasonably funny, then it fizzles out in a big way.

He Walked by Night

Decent film noir with some realism and pace to it. I would've given it more stars if the picture quality hadn't been so dark that I could hardly see what was happening half of the time. Audio was a bit mumbly too, especially for a remastered DVD. Otherwise, not bad at all.

Hanover Street

Corny and slow at first, but improves somewhat towards the end. It's a shame that Eddie Kidd's amazing motorbike jump is trimmed down in the finished film so that it doesn't look like much.

Road to Perdition
½

The period costume, the music, the cinematography etc are very well done, but not enough to make up for a slow, predictable and ultimately dreary gangster story. Think Goodfellas minus the wit, pace and style.

Ocean's Eleven

I'd rather see the Frank Sinatra version.

Braveheart
Braveheart(1995)
½

Very good. I can't find the Transit van in the background.

The Ring
The Ring(2002)
½

I prefer the Japanese version

Batman Gotham Knight

I liked the last of the stories with Deadshot, but otherwise it was so-so, and I'm a big Batman fan. CGI and artwork looked great, but the storylines were very insubstantial.

Port of New York
½

Rather a ropey DVD mastering didn't help a humdrum noir that played like an overlong Dragnet special. The fight scenes were rather hammy, music mostly irritating and if it wasn't for Yul Brynner, there would be little good to say about this film. There are many much better noirs out there.

The Butterfly Effect
½

Like Donnie Darko, only unpleasant. I saw the Director's Cut version and although I generally like time travel-related films, this was quite horrible. You feel like you need a shower afterwards. 2.5 stars solely for the acting and I'm being generous. Watch It's a Wonderful Life instead.

The Departed
The Departed(2006)

It's got soooo much swearing in, it would make Joe Pesci blush, otherwise very good. Not quite Goodfellas, but close. Nicholson & DiCaprio are on top form.