Tag Archives: 4/5

Four Lions 4/5

Rather good comedy about something that i thought might be beyond comedy at the moment, the exploits of inept suicide bombers. I really wasn’t expecting it to be this good, and it’s a very British comedy to me, I wonder if it did well in places like America?

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 4/5

The first 10 minutes take a little acclimation as you get used to the dreadful acting, but they are made easier by the gogo dancing clips, but once Tura Satana goads the guy into racing, the massive energy and sheer balls to the wall bravura of this movie carries it through magnificently until the end.

Russ Meyer sure liked breasts.

Revenge of the Nerds 4/5

Revenge of the Nerds

This is a lot of fun (very dodgy gender politics aside…), and is so 80s, and the 80s is awesome. Some great characters, especially Booger and Pointdexter.

I’d forgotten Booger Presley too.

Funny to see a young John Goodman as the pushy coach too.

Viy 4/5

Viy

Whacky Russian (and I mean Soviet Russia, not this namby-pamby post-Iron Curtain Russia) horror, with some bizarre, funny and quite memorable sequences… Old witch jumping on a guy’s back and flying him over fields, corpse-witch trying to break his mystic circle, assorted demons/vampires/skeletons attacking our poor hero… I even saw a trace of Evil Dead 2 and Pan’s Labyrinth anticipated in this movie. Rather fun, and odd.

Sightseers 4/5

Sightseers

This is a second watch, and if anything it’s funnier the second time around. The hilarious deadpan, deadly pair go around the terrible attractions of the British countryside leaving a trail of death and destruction as they go, saying banal yet hilarious things.

This is my favourite Ben Wheatley movie, and I’m looking forward to what he produces next.

Buried 4/5

Buried

Well, I really couldn’t on board with the ending (which I won’t spoil), but the fact the director and writer and indeed Ryan Reynolds could hold my attention so raptly is essentially a single setting involving once character onscreen shows a lot of talent in all respects. It was tense, gripping and extremely well executed. One of the best thrillers of the last 5 years, I’d say.

But the ending just made me want to punch the director. But I do acknowledge that was a very personal view of it, and others will think it’s a good ending. So don’t let my comments about it put you off.

Valerie and her Week of Wonders 4/5

Valerie and her Week of Wonders

This was an oddity, and the first few minutes feel like some dodgy European softcore porn in how it plays, but you quickly get used to that, and it becomes a deeper movie, albeit reeking of sensuality, carnality and primal urges.

It’s quite beautiful in places, and lacking any clear coherency or relationship to reality. It was more a dream-composition, always hovering around the theme of awakening female sexuality, and showing imagery and sequences that seemed influenced by Alice in Wonderland, early surrealist movies like Age D’Or, and more obviously by 1922’s Nosferatu, and the more metaphysical work of Ingmar Bergman, and even, maybe the TV show The Prisoner.

I can also see it has either influenced or run a similar, parallel path to such movies as those by Jodorowsky (it reminded me of Santa Sangre), Daughters of Darkness, The Wicker Man.

A beautiful, odd movie.

Ask A Policeman 4/5

Ask A Policeman

This is a lot of fun, I’ve liked Will Hay comedies since I first saw them as a boy, and this one is solid, with snappy, amusing dialogue from the shady, but good-hearted, boys. Also with the wonderful Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott.

This is a very British comedy, however, and I’m not sure it will travel well. It’s like an early prototype of the St Trinians movies, if that paints a picture.

Repulsion 4/5

Repulsion

One of those movies that represents a primal nightmare, in this case of a single woman who is not comfortable with men. She hates her sister’s boyfriend leaving his razor etc in the bathroom over her things, she hates any intimacy shown both towards her and towards other women, she even find women talking about men uncomfortable.

Slowly, she imagines attacks, and descends into her own private madness where her imagination and reality become mixed and interchangeable.

A masterful movie, with the usually upright and confident Catherine Deneuve giving a mousey, timid performance, and looking more waifish than lovely.

Her look also is echoed in a later movie by Polanski – Rosemary’s Baby – where Mia Farrow looks like a short haired version of this poor girl.

Polanski would go on to reexplore urban alienation and madness in the masterful “The Tenant” several years after this.

Milius 4/5

Milius

Compelling but fun documentary about a guy who writes great, grand dialogue, and was a peer of Spielberg, Lucas and all. Really fun to see what he added to the 70s and 80s moviescape. The world is a better place because of this guy, for sheer entertainment alone.

We Need to Talk about Kevin 4/5

We Need to about talk about Kevin

What would it be like to have to raise a kid who is a psychopath? To live among people who vilified you for the actions of your child? To blame yourself, and be in fear that people will confront you with your fears every minute of the day?

It’s a very difficult subject, and front and centre to this movie. Very well acted, directed and written, it has a central coldness in tone that is probably unavoidable, but isn’t helped by the nonlinear nature of the presentation. I felt more at ease with this difficult subject when the narrative stayed linear, but even then it was disconcerting.

A fine movie, one that would make a good double bill with Stoker, but by no means an easy watch.

Filth 4/5

Filth

Wow, a real tour-de-force with McAvoy as a complete asshole, who we get to see as a tortured, lonely man in this Scottish comedy version of Bad Lieutenant. This film is funny, repulsive, tragic in turns, and it did feel like a Trainspotting-lite in the first 20 minutes, but then quickly shed that feel and became its own thing.

I’m not entirely sure it’s a great movie, though it had many, many memorable scenes, and I’m sure I’ll remember it for years to come, but it’s a very, very good movie.

Oh and a spectacular and glorious cameo from David Soul too.

The Haunting 4/5

The Haunting

Lovely, atmospheric, tense, watchable. Not scary, but mesmeric.

It adheres very closely in both story and tone to the Shirley Jackson book it’s based on, even using parts of the beautifully written opening and closing paragraphs of that book in voiceover at the beginning and end.

Beautiful horror.

Shock Corridor 4/5

Shock Corridor

Crazy, fun exploitation flick about a reporter faking insanity to investigate a murder in an asylum, but then finding faking madness and being mad are kind of a bit too close to each other for comfort.

It also actually says things about America at the time it was made, including comments on racism, facing responsibility for one’s actions (or not), and how being different can condemn you.

So sleazy in parts, and cheaply profound in others.

Best line comes when the hero finds himself in a women’s ward: “NYMPHOS!”

Beauty and the Beast 1991 4/5

Beauty and the Beast

First Watch!

This was a pretty terrific and absorbing Disney, with some great songs/animation combos, and a more resonant story than you often get with Disney.

One downside is it did keep making me think of the far-superior La Belle et La Bete (and giving me an urge to watch that again), which it shares many elements of, but Disney-fied, of course. That’s not a significant fault of this movie though, it does have enough charm of its own to stand up proud.

Dial M For Murder 4/5

Dial M For Murder

Pretty damn good procedural murder/detective story from Hitchcock, where the cool, meticulous planner becomes unravelled by little deviations from the plan.

The only thing that seems unbelievable is what man in his right mind is tired of being married to Grace Kelly?

In the police inspector, I see the spiritual parent of Columbo.

Pontypool 4/5

Pontypool

Ferocious and very original, this shows what someone with talent can do with a small cast, a single set, and an idea seen through to the end.

I have to confess I did not follow what was going on in some parts, but I did appreciate the talent on show. All the acting was rather fine, especially Stephen McHattie, who came across as a wrinkled mix of Willem Defoe and Joe Spinell (but was always his own, clear, self).

It didn’t scare me, but it did keep be switched on and intent through the entire time.

Lion King 4/5

Lion King

First watch!

Rather finely paced story, with simple but smooth and pleasing animation, fine comedy characters, and a story that stays simple and effective. They really cast fine vocal talents too.

I can see why this is considered a modern Disney masterpiece.

Life Story 4/5

Life Story

The discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick…

I haven’t seen this since the first (and only?) time it was aired on the BBC, and there were whole scenes I remember quite distinctly. It takes the great tack of presenting the race to work out the structure of DNA as a dynamic detective story, which clever people trying to work out the puzzle from the patchy evidence.

What really makes it so watchable is Jeff Goldblum in his prime, acting like a hyperkinetic, goggle-eyed predatory bird, marvelling over evidence, harassing people at the oddest times, and drilling towards the truth as James Watson.

This is marvellous, and I give it 1/2 a star extra just because it’s so little seen, and should be seen by more people.

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter 4/5

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

Made at the tail-end of the Hammer era of horror movies, this is a rip-roaring, swashbuckling horror movie, with Captain Kronos killing vampires with a Katana many years before Blade got to it, this is just a lot of fun. There’s whole new vampire mythology being made up in this one, with vampires coming in a lot of varieties and with distinct ways to kill them, and whilst the lead is a little uncharismatic (he looks like Bjorn Borg), it really cracks along at a fair pace, and is thoroughly entertaining. I think this guy was Hammer’s attempt to provide a hunk for the ladies maybe. Hammer were always good at providing attractive young ladies for guys to look at, and whilst Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are fantastic, they aren’t exactly hunk material for the ladies.

The central friendship between Kronos and Grost is also pretty good, with a few lines giving a decent feel for how much they mean to each other. I also liked the scenes involving the inn bullies, which I suspect was padding to fill out the time as it really didn’t connect with anything else, but were actually pretty good at illustrating what a badass Kronos was. The whole working out how to kill this species of vampire was cool too, and there were other nice imaginative touches to this (the time-freezing during the vampire attack; Kronos making the vampire self-hypnotise and freeze; the entire sword-fight).

Also, Kronos gets a little roughsex with Caroline Munro.

Deserves a remake.

Oh, and the gorgeous Caroline Munro is in it.

Oh, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum is in it too.

Stoker 4/5

Stoker

This is an outrageously good-looking film, and every scene has tantalising and enthralling composition. It engages and keeps your attention.

However…

The motivations and character development of the main focus of this story is just odd. I will avoid spoilers so I’ll not elaborate too much, but it jarred a little, and you had to have patience and acceptance of some pretty strange character development to really enjoy this film.

It nearly lost me, but it didn’t. I think mostly helped by the great performances.

Damn, it’s beautiful to look at.

National Lampoon’s Vacation 4/5

National Lampoon's Vacation

Very funny movie that started the Vacation series, which clearly peaked at Christmas Vacation.

The Griswalds are fully-developed characters from the off (well, Clark and Ellen anyway, the kids were always changing actors/ages), and it’s also fun to see Cousin Eddie also fully formed.

There are many laughs throughout, as mishap piles on mishap, and Chase starts acting crazy.

Great comedy writing from John Hughes, and great comedy direction from Harold Ramis.

God Bless America – Odd One Out 050

God Bless America

God Bless America – podcast

Wolf of Wall Street 4/5

Wolf of Wall Street

The 3 hours just flies by for the most part, and even though it is baggy in places, the scenes that play out remain pretty entertaining. Leo is doing great work here, as is Jonah Hill, and it’s kind of fun watching these scumbags enjoy themselves at the expense off of the faceless schmucks they rip off (that side of the story is something you never see here).

There are a lot of very solid scenes, and many sales pep talks, but my favourite scene my far is the one involving the ‘lemmons’. I was laughing, wincing, gasping, laughing again, as Scorcese uses his director tricks to put us in Leo’s perspective, and then show us what actually happened. Terrific film-making.

I also hear there may be a 4-hour cut coming out on blu sometime. Sign me up, I’ll be buying that.

The Lego Movie 4/5

The Lego Movie

Very fun movie with one insanely catchy tune that will lodge in your head like a brainspider. It’s goofy and surreal, with plenty of jokes, some of which are at oldschool Lego expense, which is fine. Without spoiling however, I think this movie is not just working on a meta-level (big deal, a lot of kids movies do that, to keep the adults interested), but actually transcends this in the last act and becomes meta-meta-level (meta about meta-levelling).

Combine this is various butt-reference jokes, Batman, robo-pirate and similar, and you have something that the kids will enjoy, but so will the adults. In the screening I was in, you could hear the kids really laughing in places, but you could also hear the adults laughing just as hard in the same places.

Definitely recommended.

Sanjuro 4/5

Sanjuro

Whilst not as thoroughly engaging or immersed in a coherent story as the similar Yojimbo (and there’s debate as to whether this is a sequel, or different character), this is still a lot of fun. With very little dialogue, we have characters who reveal their true nature by their words and actions (the mother is extremely wise, as is the father, who we only see at the end), and it’s very enjoyable to see Mifune cut and chop his way through hordes of guards like they were shop dummies.

It’s Mifune being magnificent that really makes this movie, and its fun to see this mighty warrior have to think a bit more than fight, at the mother’s request to avoid violence. There’s also some other really nice touches, like a guard that’s been captured who, so taken with the mother’s naïve trust, acts with respect and honour to her, and does exactly what he’s told, and is genuinely happy for the men who support her when things go their way.

Fun, fine and will put a smile on your face for much of the time.

God Bless America 4/5

God Bless America

This is the only liberal revenge fantasy movie I know of. It turns the usual vigilante/justified killer genre movie on its head by changing the target of the anger-fuelled killings from the usual right-wing demons like foreigners, lefties and the underclass into liberal hate-figures like reality show judges, those horrible right-wing commentators who are always loathsome to any decent person, and so on. And feels satisfying for it.

This was terrific. I thought the direction was clean and elegant without being showy, the story was smart, the dialogue was a little Tarantino-esque and Diablo Cody-esque (which I think Goldthwaite lampooned himself, by lifting dialogue from Jackie Brown and directly referencing Juno) but in a good, fun way, and the last act was quite ferocious. the opening scene bothered me a little, as it was just too ferocious for my taste.

Joel Murray in particular was terrific.

You have to see this, it is currently streaming on Netflix US.

Return of the Jedi 4/5

Return of the Jedi

Fun to watch, and better than I remember it. I guess how much you enjoy this one may hinge on how much the ewoks grate on you. I like them. I find them charming, I like the tribal shennanegins and their primitive tech used to take down the empire forces (let’s ignore the hang-gliders though).

This really is a great movie, with the opening rescue taking the first act as a self-contained episode, setting up the finale as the main meat of the movie. But it’s a great first act.

The rest of the movie is in turns moving (Yoda’s finale scene as the ancient Jedi in his little hut), exciting (wow the speeder bike chase is great) and then splits into three threads of action that cuts together really well, though I think the emperor/luke/vader thread is the most enthralling one.

I do miss the old end music (why change it?), I thought Hamill in particular really delivered a great performance in this.

Star Wars: Clone Wars 4/5

Clone Wars

This is a review of both parts of the Star:Wars Clone Wars 2-D animated series.

This is fun, exciting and fresh, and the best Star Wars since the original trilogy.

Originally broadcast in 4 or 5 minute segments, this still works wonderfully as a single cut-together entity, almost entirely due to the canny filmmakers who wisely used cliffhanger devices between segments, thus providing the dramatic glue to allow the cut-together version to work well.

The animation is simple but very effective, the action is well choreographed and exciting (in Volume 1, there’s a battle between Mace Windu and, well, a droid army, that’s just fantastic), and it never flags. We get some important insight into Annakin’s journey, Yoda’s powers, and how General Grievous got where he got.

Thoroughly recommended, the crowning achievement to date of Star Wars, since Return of the Jedi.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 4/5

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

Rather charming, clever and extremely inventive animated movie, that starts well and just gets better and better. I like some of the great ideas in here, like the clever girl having her own protective behaviours such as hiding her own smartness, and the fact some of the characters act against how they’d act if this movie traded in stereotypes.

One of the best animated movies I’ve seen for a while (for its inventiveness and weird moments, like people being chased by walking roast chickens). It plays to me like the weird lovechild of Tim Burton and David Lynch, sentenced to work at pixar together (maybe that’s a little strong).

Beautiful.