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Old 30th Dec 2012, 16:42   #1
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Default Film Lists 2013

67 Cloud Atlas (should be down there in the twenties, actually)
66 22 Bullets
65 12 Years a Slave
64 My Dinner With Andre
63 The Adventures of Tintin - Secret of the Unicorn
62 Fermat's Room
61 The Lovely Bones
60 The Fountainhead
59 The Wizard of Oz
58 The Wolverine
57 Cruising
56 The Shining
55 Interiors
54 Europa Report
53 Captain Philips
52 A Royal Affair
51 A Dangerous Method
50 Man of Steel
49 Atlas Shrugged, Part Two
48 White House Down
47 Gravity
46 Exam
45 Atlas Shrugged, Part One
44 Children of Men
43 Trance
42 Rush
41 Now You See Me
40 The Disappearance of Alice Creed
39 Men In Black
38 Midnight in Paris
37 Mud

36 Elysium
Two stars is the best this can hope for, really, and it's a major push I only bother to make for the sake of the visuals. Elysium is a case study in audience hand-holding (or is that nose-leading?) through the most painfully obvious of scenarios from the opening frame to the last. No emotional cue goes un-flashbacked, no cliché unexpressed, no expectation unreaslised. But after making the easy stuff such hard work it skimps to the most appalling degree on anything that might burst this oh so flimsy bubble - and there's plenty that does. This is a skeleton story with the connective tissues removed, a real disappointment for anyone who enjoyed Neill Blomcamp's far superior debút. District 9 degenerated into exactly this kind of action nonsense in its final act. Elysium offers less throughout.

35 Bravissimo
A 1955 Italian comedy starring the great Alberto Soldi, in which he plays a selfish, self-aggrandising... actually I'm not sure what he is, exactly. "A penniless not quite supply teacher" comes closest, I guess. He is forced to take care of a six year-old boy whose relatives can't be bothered to, but who then turns out to be an operatic baritone child-prodigy. Cue fevered plans to get rich quick and renewed interest in familial duty from the poor boys more ridiculous that wicked uncles... lots of fun.

34 Predator
Simple and classic.

33 Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
I need to think about this one. It may well be a five star movie.

32 Extraterrestre (Extraterrestrial) /

31 Oblivion
Sigh. This movie could be summed up by pointing out that it contains an opening monologue-sequence which (in addition to signposting the plot twist an hour or more early) proved entirely superfluous, as when the actual story started every single blessed word of it was blahhed out by one person or another at a more appropriate time. It's that kind of movie, the obvious one that Hollywood makes every year or so but then worries that people won't get (even though it is basically a cut-and-paste job from dozens of other sci-fi bits) and so they over-explain up front, making the following hours kind of drag. The weird thing is, from start to finish it's done with such polished confidence that you almost go along with it, even when it's stupid, which is often. It's a one-star yarn with two-star presentation, and should be consigned to its namesake as soon as possible.

30 Pitch Black

29 Seeking a friend for the end of the world

28 Star Trek Into Darkness

27 High Noon

26 A Field in England

25 Four Lions

21-24 Harry Potter and the Last Four Movies

20 Stand Up Guys
Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin. What's not to like? I came to this with, aside from some anticipation regarding the three leads, distant memories of seeing Tough Guys, in which Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas played ageing crooks fresh out of jail and embarking on one last heist. Stand Up Guys is not quite the same thing: here it's only one tasting freedom, and the last thing anyone wants to do is relive the old days. At least, not at first. It's almost a road movie and not bad overall, a touch sentimental and mostly slow moving, like its protagonists/ The humour is low key, eschewing one-liners (with one rather plodding exception) in favour of lingering on the performances, which... well, let's not pretend this is anything but three guys doing that thing they each do. The story veers between the predictable and the unexpected, but the end result is an entertaining, slightly pulpy drama with a pretty decent cast. It would make a good short story, and that's not a bad measure for a movie.

19 Side Effects
I'm mostly a fan of Steven Soderbergh, and I'm mostly a fan of this film, too. It's great to look at, never boring, the acting is all... ahem ...yes, is all fine... where was I? It's an interesting movie, which is certainly not mutually exclusive with having an interesting story, but can lead you to study the one more than sink into the other. The nature of the drama shifts strangely throughout, along with our perceptions of all... ahem ...yes, all of the characters. You'd certainly not be able to predict where it was heading, if it wasn't for... ahem ...for Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas.

Ahhh, that's mean: It's a good movie.

18 The League of Gentlemen
Jolly spiffing British capers as an eight-man gang of disgraced former soldiers, each one a specialist in his field, are assembled to pull a daring daylight heist of a London bank. All the chaps are frightfully decent sorts, but never forget: they are up to no good... Made in 1959, just a few years before the actual Great Train Robbery (and allegedly the inspiration for that crime), the accents are all a bit plummy but it's not as stagey as I anticipated. It's certainly light entertainment, then as now, more than a bit dated but still fun. Plus there's that outstanding cameo by a young Oliver Reed - oh my.

17 Battleship
Lots of crap films are based on computer games these days, but for the film-makers of Battleship to admit that theirs was based on the Hasbro board game took a lot of balls. Enough to merit one star in fact, which is fortunate, because this was so laughably bad that even the near ceaseless procession of cringe-worthy character clichés, bargain-basement plotting and, of course, explosions which comprised this nonsense really wouldn't have earned one without that. Part One of my Tim Riggins Movie Marathon achieved exactly the low expectation threshold required to make John Carter (formerly Of Mars) potentially look really, really good. I can hardly wait. But, for the sake of my brain, I shall.

EDIT: And I'm still fighting that flagging urge.

16 Headhunter (Hodejegerne)
I got this film anticipating an evening in the company of Lars Mikkelsen, aloof star suspect of Forbrydelsen series one and brother of Casino Royale's villainous Mads - except that was a different film of the same name. Damn. This is a novelty heist flick which started well, setting up a smooth but short-of-stature corporate head-hunter who moonlights as an art thief; then Game of Throne's brilliantly named Nikolaj Coster-Waldau showed up, caught the eye of the hero's statuesque Nordic goddess - er, "wife" - and the whole thing abruptly jumped right off the deep end. It gradually regained some composure, providing cool, mad and harsh moments on the way to a rather cheesy ending. Not great, but not totally rubbish either.

15 Back to the Future
Precisely as much fun as it was the first time I saw it - and this was the first time my girlfriend saw it! I don't know how they raise their children in Italy, but they clearly don't do it properly. If their calamitous political situation is anything to go by, they treated them to repeat viewings of Back to the Past. Anyway, looking forward to Part Two...

EDIT: Well, that didn't happen in the end. Maybe in the future...

14 Cockneys vs. Zombies
I sought this out after Mark Kermode passingly praised it. I'm not sure what film he was talking about, but I saw a version in which the few actual jokes were heavily signposted, the plot conveniently trivial (or vice versa) and the characters all paper-thin caricatures of caricatures. I might have laughed, once or twice, but it was an effort. Shaun of the Dead this is not, and any lingering tolerance I might have felt for fackin' east end mankeys was terminally crushed by the closing monologue. Everyone associated with this piece of shit should consider themselves thought of by me as a Berkshire Hunt. Look it up.

13 Berberian Sound Studio
About halfway through Berberian Sound Studio, my girlfriend leaned my way and said "This movie sucks". I disagree, and I'm correct to do so. The rightly admired Toby Jones is excellent as Gilderoy, a mild-mannered English sound technician flown out to Italy by a charismatic director to make all the difference to his lurid horror flick and who finds himself increasingly disturbed by what he sees, both on the screen and off it. The great strength of the film is that, though we never see a frame of the film being made, we have ample opportunity to be disturbed by what we hear. That, plus the generally striking quality of the acting, the simple but rich cinematography, the off-kilter script... very interesting. I might even take the time to review it properly.

12 Flight
Rather like Training Day for me, this is a film in which Denzel Washington's talent is there to see but the overall experience isn't up to that same level. After setting up the flaws of the protagonist with efficient competence, the genuinely thrilling end to the first act asks a lot of the rest of the film, which simply returns to its earlier focus and never achieves the same heights. There's plenty of drama, but an ever growing need for some kind of moral accounting takes the pilot's seat and once it sets course for home it won't be turned aside, even if that means the critical moment of change feels quite arbitrary - and the coda wraps everything up with a nice, socially responsible bow which even manages to sap the impact of that. Although there is still much to be enjoyed here, it is ultimately entertainment drama. Leaving Las Vegas offers a far superior, far harder examination of the central themes.

11 Silver Linings Playbook
I ignored this with stout resolution until, completely by accident, I found out it was a David O. Russell movie and immediately went to the cinema. And it is good fun, with pretty tight (Oscar-winning? apparently) performances from the two leads and some genuinely funny and/or moving moments. Except... well, I found almost all the supporting characters over-blown, and as the film progressed I got the distinct impression that there were things languishing on the cutting room floor (that phrase needs an IT-age update) that I needed to see for this to be a truly coherent narrative; on discovering in the credits that this was adapted from a novel, that impression made a lot of sense. The biggest disappointment came in the climax, which managed to make this feel like just another underdog success flick, if considerably more left-field than the Hollywood mainstream type. A good movie then, but no I <3 Huckabees.

10 Django Unchained
Ehhhhhhh... How to justify three stars. Well, there are the performances: Foxx and Waltz are good, DiCaprio and Jackson better. And there are sequences that I enjoyed quite a lot: the saloon, the reunion, the dinner. But... episodic from the outset, it hangs together less well the longer it goes on, and it never seems to end. Structurally, it reminded me of Deathproof (extended chains of dialogue scenes building up to set-piece killings; repeat; end on a beat with comic-book sensibility) and the impression I had of escalating triviality and a general decline on Tarantino's part, which I so thoroughly and pleasantly revised with Inglourious Barsterds, has only returned with greater strength. The ending is ridiculous, embarrassing really. It may lose a star by the end of the year.

EDIT: it lost a star before April...

09 Lincoln
How to justify not-five-stars. In a way it's easy, because - in spite of DDL's flawless performance, the genuinely beautiful Barry Lyndon standard of the image on the screen, the deft script that mixes fire and calm - I found myself waiting for a character arc in the midst of all the epic storytelling; anyone's character, not necessarily Lincoln's, but I don't think I got one. I enjoyed it for a variety of reasons, but one of those wasn't Old Man Spielberg's sentimental streak, the lingering looks of great significance, usually on the part of the minor (-ity? at times) players. Nor did I like the shower scene. But it is still a fine film.

08 Toy Story 3
Oh, dear, I cried. Really. I'm such a soft touch.

07 Kon-Tiki
This was the film I wanted to make, dagnabit. It's not quite Life of Pi, but last year's Norwegien maritime adventure is pretty good in its own right, featuring solid performances and a few thrills along the way. Reasonably true to life, although some of the dramatisation feels a little overblown (and poor Herman Watzinger may well be spinning in his grave...).

06 Little Miss Sunshine
It's just a great little film, isn't it? My girlfriend sat enraptured throughout with never less than a half-smile on her face... me too, probably.

05 Dredd
On the surface, it's nothing but fascistic, Dystopian, super-violent bullet porn, and everything the Stallone version wasn't - for a start he keeps the helmet on. However, stepping beyond this most fanboy of details, Dredd turned out to have numerous touches that truly harked back to the style of the source material; the burden of characterisation was laid firmly (and rightly) across the shoulders of everyone except the titular Judge, and I can honestly say that I'd like to see them make another.

EDIT: It's possible I should revise Dredd up to four stars - after recommending it too enthusiastically to a bunch of friends, they had us all sit down and give it a go. Two viewings in a month and it held up just fine.

04 Zero Dark Thirty
Bigelow constructs a quality piece of politically aware post-9/11 espionage drama but, much like with The Hurt Locker, she fails to hit centre target when it comes to character. In spite of this it manages to be engrossing throughout, the torture scenes particularly so, although many peripheral events proved clockwork-predictable to me. I preferred Argo overall, but that film's dramatic ending was a little strained; ZD30 by contrast builds to a masterful piece of military high tension.

03 The Master
Sorry Bill...
I gave it four stars at first, but although I look back on it a little more kindly over time I also have to revise it down a notch. Excellent performances, design and cinematography can't support the weight of what is ultimately over-long art house fare; fine in its moments, and if it lasted two hours it would be a masterpiece, but for me it pales beside There Will Be Blood.

02 Life of Pi
Impossible not to be generous. A beautiful visual experience and a moving emotional journey, I enjoyed it far more than the source novel and far more than I expected to. The heritage of the novel, rendered into a clunkily saccharine interview, is its only flaw, but not sufficiently so to warrant a points drop; and without it Irrfan Khan would have been a hard-to-justify participant beyond his mellifluous voice, so for that reason alone it demanded inclusion. His younger persona was equally well played, and I find myself surprised that this would be the benchmark 2013's other movies are to be judged against.

01 The Hobbit
Revised down from three stars. It's bloated, repetitive, filled with countless dwarves that don't look very dwarfish and certainly not saved by the encounter with Gollum, which lacked any semblance of his lynch-pin sequence from LotR: The Two Towers. All in all, an arse-breaking slog, in which (against all the odds) the song may well have been the best bit. I'm sure I'll see all the "parts" to come, of course...

2012 list | 2011 list | 2010 List | 2009 List | 2008 List | 2007 List

Last edited by Noumenon; 28th Dec 2013 at 18:59. Reason: Grey for repeat viewings
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 19:04   #2
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Default Re: Film Lists 2013

o' trash!


I'm having a month off. I'm going to do some reading....

I lasted till the 11th, when Family Friday Pizza And Movie Night kicked off with:
  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood ( 1938 ) - jolly fun which had the kids leaping about at the end recreating some of the 'great sword fighting bits' and generally behaving like I remember kids behaving at the ABC Minors Saturday morning matinees.
  2. Frankenweenie (2012) - and on the 12th we drive 90 miles to a real Saturday matinee. An autism friendly screening which, after an initial panic, went down well. The film was the usual Tim Burton, Gothic Cute disappointment too overly-stuffed with visual references for its own good. The highlight for me was Martin Landau's science teacher. A great part, with a message that Burton though so important that he stopped Danny Elfman from putting any music under parts of it. One of the few moments in the film that weren't underscored with full throttle orchestral accompaniment. Meh.
  3. Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) - that was fun.
  4. The Wayward Cloud (aka 天边一朵云 2005) - Arty Taiwanese porn musical with a lot of water-mellons which included one never-to-be-forgotten dance routine set in a public toilets. Our hero was dressed as a giant penis surrounded by a hundred girls with sink plungers glued to their tits. Not something you see every day.
  5. Soldier ( 1998 ) - a Paul W.S. Anderson film based on a screen play by David Webb Peoples. So, one of my least favourite directors working from a script by a writer for whom I have some respect. The script won. Just. The basic story is: trained-from-birth, emotionless, killing-machine soldier is discarded when superior replacement arrive. He's dumped, meets a colony of peaceful types and learns there's more to life than 'Fear and Dicipline'. Kurt Russell is simply terrific as the soldier. He hardly moves a face muscle for the whole film and gets about 50 words of dialogue and is utterly compelling. He makes an emotional journey of millimetres but it is riveting to watch. Anderson however tried his best to sink the film with the usual bucketloads of ultra-violence, culminating in the inevitable fistfight and over-use of gimmicky double-framing (printing each frame of film twice to give an 'edgy' pseudo slo-mo effect). He's also guilty of letting the art directors (who were obviously having fun) fill their future intergalactic junk-yard planet with all sorts of crap it wouldn't have made any sense to ship off-world. 1950s aeroplanes, boats, and, at one particularly throw-things-at-the-screen moment, a yellow school bus. Who, or what, or why thought; "I know, it's the future, school buses will be obsolete so it'll make sense for them to be shoved in spaceships and flown out to an uninhabited planet and then dropped into a pile?" This is dead pure, lazy, stupid Hollywood stupid bullshit stupidity. The same kind of stupidity (and this is a major fault in the script) that makes, out of the entire galaxy, the new recruits training exercise just happen to take place within yards of the one man who has good reason to resent their presence - and THEN has the idiocy to have the bad guy say, "By the way if you happen to see anyone down there," (i.e. the nice peaceful community of stranded refugees who have shown compassion and understanding to our battle-scarred emotional wasteland of a 'hero') "Then consider them hostile and kill them on sight." Oh no! Men, women and cute children in peril! What is our hero to do? This is just crap. Really stupidly stupid crap too because it wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to establish that the bad guys have come to that particular place for a real reason, not by Hollywood bullshit accident. The stranded refugees have, after all, been trying get someone's (anyone's!) attention for years. Just retool the plot slightly - a couple of sentences would do it: The 'bad' guys have come to investigate reported sightings on an uninhabited planet. One of the refugees panics and opens fire. The soldiers respond. Death and mayhem. The potential for real tragedy is so easy. There; fucking big plot WTF? solved. Thank you. My bill will be in the post as soon as a remake is announced.
  6. Intervista (1987) - which I only watched to find out how to pronounce 'Cinnecit*', fully intending to switch it off after I had found out. I ended up watching the whole thing. Damn you, Sr. Fellini! I cried during the scene where Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg watch their younger selves in a clip from La Dolce Vita.
  7. Transatlantic Tunnel (1935) - dated melodrama full of 'women's films' stock characters: the Driven Husband (his Dream, capital D, makes him blind to all else...), the Noble Wife (she goes literally blind - oh the irony! - and leaves him without letting him know, so her Driven Husband's Dream, capital D, can go on...), a Beautiful Socialite Heiress (secretly in love with the unattainable Driven Husband, but driven to sell herself to the Unspeakable Cad who can finance the Driven Husband's Dream), the Driven Husband's Best Friend (secretly in love with the Driven Husband's Noble Wife but puts his all into making the Driven Husband's Dream come true - because that's what the Driven Husband's Noble Wife wants) all set in an Art Deco future with television conferencing, autogyros, streamlined cars and huge 'radium drills' that can bore through the hearts of volcanoes. None of it made much sense if you thought about it for more than a few moments but it looked good, and the actors earnestly delivered their trite lines with good-old, 1930's British stoicism. Not a totally wasted 90 minutes. Certainly less wasted than the 90 minutes I spent watching:
  8. Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990 ish) - dumb, cliché-ridden piece of 'monster on the lose in confined space' crap with one vaguely novel idea (buried in the laboriously explained back-story), and one nice, simple piece of set design (which, very cheaply, transformed the main location's endless, boring corridor into a slightly futuristic endless, boring corridor). The monster looked even more like a penis with teeth than usual, and the acting was dreadful. I know it's easy to say, 'oh man, the acting was, like - so bad!" but the standard here really was not good, not good at all, even by schlock standards. For many members of the cast this was their only screen credit. (For which, much thanks.)
  9. The Devil Rides Out (1968 ) - workmanlike Hammer horror with Charles Grey having great fun stealing everything that wasn't nailed down as the villain. I had fun spotting that Peter Swanwick (the baldy bloke in the control room in The Prisoner) was one of the satanists. The whole show was marred for me though by a very coppy-outy ending.
So, 9 films. Not bad for a month in which I was determined not to watch even one.... Next month. All bets are off.

  1. Megamind (2010) - Daughter number two and I, both stricken with flu, needed that. Great fun.
  2. Teenagers from Outer Space
  3. The Snow Beast - a creature feature double bill of rewatches with daughter number one. Much hilarity.
  4. Frankenstein General Hospital ( 1988 ) - 90 minutes. One almost decent joke and that was very very crappily delivered. An awful film. I seriously hope I see nothing as bad as this for the rest of the year.
  5. Rise of the Guardians (2012) - Once I'd realised I was watching an off-the-shelf Superhero movie featuring the The Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman as The Justice League of Childhood with the Boogie-man as the super-villain of the piece I almost enjoyed it. The ending (as is so often the case these days) was far too long. (It's over already!) Some great set design though. Loved the set design.
  6. Rage in Harlem (1991) - I think I need to see that again. And not on a crappy VHS. From what I remember of the book this stayed pretty close to the mood, pacing, violence and the very dark (I nearly said 'black') humour of the original - though I did kind of miss that one of the central male conmen characters dresses as a preacher and not a nun as he did in the book.
  7. Kika (1993) - another Pedro Almodóvar under my belt. Not sure I liked it as much as some of his others - to be honest I don't think I liked it full stop - but it does confirm one of my rules of thumb for choosing what to watch. Any film with music by Ennio Morricone or costume design by Jean Paul Gaultier is worth a look.
  8. Repo Man (1984) - for the umpteenth time and loved it even more than I have ever loved it before - though if anyone knows where I can find a cut containing the 'Dorito' scene I would appreciate it. I miss that scene every time I watch it.

    'Food - Meat Flavored'. Goddamn mellon-farmers...
  9. A Dirty Little Business (aka Merchants of Venus 1998 ) - in which Michael York plays a Russian immigrant to the USA working in a dildo factory. Not very good. Obviously cheaply made (the sound in particular was very variable) it's one of those fascinating films where you spend more time wondering what it must be like to be a jobbing actor (like Michael York, Michael Cox, and Beverly D'Angelo) doing crap like this one day, a cartoon voice-over the next. (Cox and D'Angelo have worked on episodes of Scooby-do, and York on Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!) And how did Michel J Pollard, Troy Donahue and Arthur Hiller, director of Love Story, get involved with such a flaccid script?
    Another one of those films where the story of the making was probably more interesting than the final product.
  10. Cat Women of the Moon (1953) - Rubber Spider Attack research disguised as Friday Night Movie Fun with the kids. They loved it. We laughed all the way through it. I confirmed rubberyness of spiders.
  11. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ( 2008 ) During the film Aslan tells Lucy twice that he's not going to come and save the day. "The same thing doesn't happen." Then he just comes back and saves the day. Is this going to happen in all of these? Everything gets desperate and then Aslan comes back, roars and saves the day, breathes on people and does magic shit while Lucy brings characters back to life with magic potion? Long time since I read the books but it seems possible. Well 'this could get uninteresting real quick'....
  12. The Naked Truth (1957) - mildly amusing British comedy with Terry Thomas, Peter Sellars etc.
  13. Rigged (1985) - a weird one. Started off awfully. I mean really really awful in that way only films from the 80s can: our utterly bland, pudding faced producer/lead (playing a tough Texas oilman) wears a fashion crime pastel blue suit in the first act and a lot of the dialogue is delivered in an unintelligible Texan mumble. The lighting is weird too. The whole thing is shot with that diffuse, backlit, soft-focus glow that Penthouse magazine used to shoot their centrefolds, back in the days when tan lines were in fashion and pubic hair a novelty. But somewhere on the way it almost gets good. Nothing much seems to happen for a long time; everything takes ages to set up. It was like watching a very soft porn version of Dallas. Then it neatly changes gear (almost literally) and our pudding faced hero is suddenly trying to fight his corner in a very soft porn version of Body Heat - but without any of the steamy eroticism. Somehow, despite the rotten start, I found myself quite engaged. A lot better than our utterly bland, pudding faced producer/lead's only other feature film. Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold. Boy, did that stink! I wish I still had a copy.....
  14. Three Colours White (1994) - my second Krzysztof Kieslowski and, though lauded by grown up critics I'd heard of, I was somewhat disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high I don't know but The Double life of Veronique I though beautiful, elegiac, and utterly captivating. This was just another film. And I hated the last but one shot of Julie Delpy redeeming her character, giving hope to the protagonist and all that other happy ending bullshit. It was - I learned from watching the extras on the disc - added much later, it looks like it. The shot stands out like a sore thumb and just sinks the end of the film for me.
  15. Howl's Moving Castle - second time of watching and I still don't really like it. It doesn't gel.
  16. Running Man (1987) - an SF 'TV is evil' satire which passes the time with a couple of halfway jokes (the condemned contestants in a rigged duel to the death TV show get court-appointed theatrical agents) but was mostly meh. Probably the only film ever to feature two future governors of American states hitting each other while wearing Spandex.

  1. Batman (1966) A special Friday Family Film and Pizza (but occasionally Onigri) Night. It was the first time my mum, my kids, my wife, and I had all been in the same room since my dad died nearly two weeks ago. We watched the 1966 Batman projected up on the big(ish) screen. First time my mum, or my three year-old, batman-obsessed little boy had seen it. Both enjoyed it for vastly different reasons and I sat and loved sharing it with them (though Lee Meriwether's rather peachy bum up there on the screen in glorious Technicolor was an added bonus - and was also, I suspect, the only bit of the film my dad would really have enjoyed).

    Mrs JM is away for the weekend at some sort of two day crochet trade show in Glasgow. (Yeah, I'm baffled too and I share a house with the woman.)
    So, while she's away the kids and I settle down on the sofa with buckets of Maltesers, loads of dripping ice-lollies, and watch:
  2. Journey to the Centre of Time ( 1968 ) - a dreadful film which stretches three minutes of story to movie length by long sequences of stock footage, endless techno-babble and a special effects budget that runs to letting off a small firework placed on top of a 'computer' console. (A measure of the film's limited budget can be seen by the fact that the 'control room' is three such consoles placed in front of a wall of blackout curtain. And as a good quarter of the film takes place in this space it's pretty obvious measure too.) The kids had a great time adding their own MST3K type rifftrack.
  3. War of the Planets (1966) - Now here's something weird. I've seen War of the Planets a couple of times and though the girls would enjoy its brightly-coloured fast-paced cheesiness. What I hadn't thought through was that I first saw this piece of Italian Space nonsense as a battle-hardened SF movie watcher of 50 years experience. They were seeing it for the first time as impressionable kids who don't know all the cliches. They loved it. They didn't take it totally seriously but they enjoyed themselves. The jokes and giggles died away during the show as they became drawn into the story - though Holly's heartfelt cry of: "...and you can bend spoons!" at the end of the villain's scenery-chewing "Join us and become masters of the universe!" rant was a cracker. Watching it with them the film became a lot better than I remembered.
  4. 2001: A Space Travesty (2000) - Back in February I watched a cheapo piece of drek called Frankenstein General Hospital which I described as "An awful film. I seriously hope I see nothing as bad as this for the rest of the year."
    I failed.
    Frankenstein General Hospital was shit but at least it was cheap shit. You can forgive all sorts of stuff if you know the cast a crew were working hard for peanuts and making the sets out of what they can find. Having worked on a film set where I had to scrounge cardboard boxes from the local supermarket's bins (so we could flatten them to write idiot boards for the star) I can understand and forgive a lot. With Frankenstein General Hospital it was hard work because, apart from one very thin joke delivered very badly, there wasn't really much going for it. (Even gratuitous nudity from former Playboy models couldn't save it.)
    2001: A Space Travesty on the other hand had no excuse. It cost 45 million US Dollars and is basically Hollywood mashup: Leslie Neilsen doing his Police Squad shtick to the Tune of Men in Black. Here's the pitch... "Frank Drebin - in Space..." Not exactly a bad idea for a 90 popcorn comedy but, dear god! you would have thought someone would have come up with at least ONE new joke. Beyond dire. Neilsen hated it. He described it in an interview in 2003 as "the worst experience I've ever had". At least he got paid (well, I hope he did). I didn't.
  5. El Chupacabra (2003) - No hope, low budget, straight to DVD piece of shit about legendary the South American goat-sucking vampire, El Chupacabra on the loose in LA. Dreadfully written: "Goats are usually found in areas with a high goat population.". And lousily acted. Really really bad. I became fascinated by the central character's blinks for a while. Young Lantino actor, vaguely symmetrical, and he wouldn't stop blinking. I guess it was some sort of nervous twitch but it was hypnotically distracting*. Some very odd camera angles too. A lot of really low-level stuff which, I guess, is supposed to suggest the low POV of the beasty but, as it's never used as the low POV of the beasty, just leaves the audience thinking "Why are we looking at this guy's ankles? Why are we looking at the cellulite on the back of this woman's thighs? etc." The best thing about the show (apart from wondering just how long the editor can sustain the pointless shot of our two villains walking across a bridge while some bland music covers up the conversation they are obviously having but can't hear) the best thing about this show is the cheap, on location 'Making of' that accompanies it. When you have the 'star' of the show telling the interviewer how professional the crew is you know you're deep in wannabee land. Kudos too to the director of this featurette for making the two obvious stunts in the film more exciting and dangerous than they appeared in the finished product just by finding a better angle. "Shoot whatever you want just don't get in our way OK?" During the film I remember thinking: "I wonder how close that 'speeding' car actually came to that stuntman?". Watching the 'Making of' I was shocked. "Jeso! He nearly hit the guy!" I'd know who I'd hire.

    * On reflection I'm exaggerating about the shoddiness of the acting. The central performance was crap. I had one of those - "oh, please don't tell us this is the hero..." moments when he first appeared. And he seriously fluffed his lines on more than one occasion - in the takes they USED! God knows what he was like in the out-takes. (This is why people budget for ADR, people!) Everyone else does the best they can with a crap script, less than two dimensional characters, and, I suspect, very weak direction.
  6. Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961 aka Iron Sharp, 宇宙快速船 Uchū Kaisokusen, Space Hypership) - whatever you call it, it was shit.
  7. Ponyo ( 2008 ) - I loved it! A simple story beautifully told. Very dreamy.
  8. Shaolin Ninja (1985 if you believe the box, or 1981 if you think the IMDb can do no wrong. Mind you, the VHS case thought it was a cert 18 while the tape had a 15 sticker on it (The BBFC says 15). To add to the confusion before we even get to the start of the story the film has changed its title and is called Shaolin Fighters Vs Ninja in the opening credits. It is apparently also known as Return of the Deadly Blade.). What follows is the usual 90+ minutes of Chinese guys walloping seven kinds of shit out of each other (literally; at one point one of our 'heroes' attacks someone who is having a dump in a riverside outhouse on stilts). Who these people are and why they are wellying the crap out of each other at a moment's notice is beyond me. For reasons which I didn't understand - though 'revenge' seems to get mentioned a lot - two lone fighters are in search of Master Li who disappeared many years before. Someone has hired Ninjas (sic) to stop them. I think. Some sort of Moon Goddess is floating about too disguised as a mortal. In the end Master Li turns up in his Kung-Fu flying wheelchair and despite lots of "Ah! So you are my father, and he is my brother and my auntie too - I must kill you!" dialogue at the end, culminating in a sword vs wheelchair vs flying moon goddess lady fist fight, I was still none the wiser at the end.

    Best underwater Ninja attack sequence I have ever seen though.
  9. Ninja Dragon (1986) - Another from the VHS pile. And what a gem! Ninja Dragon is an incomprehensible mess of a film cobbled together by cutting some newly shot footage of badly dubbed, middle-aged white men into a Chinese gangster film in which everyone dresses like the Blues Brothers. The white men are gangsters too and film alternates between shots of the Chinese Gangsters happily carrying on with their incomprehensible Chinese Gangster feuding and shots of the white guys barking orders to them down the telephone in sub-Sweeny White Gangster style. Both of the white gangsters are also Ninjas(!). From time to time the gangstering stops to let some ninja stuff happen. I'm pretty sure the Chinese Gangster stuff was originally intended to be set in the 1930's; the clothes and weapons certainly give that feel - how many modern gangsters use Thompson submachine guns? Though the white guys' sequences are definitely modern day; modern cars and Uzis. The music is eclectic too and, I'm sure, borrows a couple of sound cues from David Lynch's Dune. I was so impressed (happily bewildered) by the whole mess that I immediately sauntered over to eBay and bought a DVD copy and another of the director's "Cut and Paste" films, Ninja Terminator, (which, my sources tell me, is even less comprehensible than Ninja Dragon). I paid £1.27 for the both of them - and that includes postage.
  10. The Independent (2000) - rewatch of a favourite great little film.
  11. Drainiac! (2000) - Straight to DVD. Teenagers. Creepy House. Something evil in the pipework (hence the title). No budget. Been there, done that - but never quite so crappily as this. I've only seen one other film by the writer director, Brett Piper - which was the tremendously awful A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990). On this limited sampling I'm willing to bet that the titles of his films are the best bits. Not that Drainiac was ALL awful. There were a few nice inventive, low-budget in camera 'let's do the creepy effect by tilting the set and have the evil slime run UP the walls!' stuff going on, but it was swamped by the awful, awful script, some really godawful post-production sound work and rotten acting. Though, it must be said, the two female leads were bearable and have gone on to better things. (Mind you, getting naked and writhing around in a bathful of rubber tentacles will always add JunkMonkey watch-ability points. Pity the wrong actress got wet and naked but you can't have everything. What has Hollywood got against short, well-rounded brunettes?)
  12. Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists (20012) Friday night pizza fun.
  13. Center of the Web (1992) - the parcel I ordered from eBay (see Ninja Dragon above) arrived with the wrong discs in the case. So I'm watching the discs that are in there quick so I can send them back and get the right ones sent to me. I do wonder why I'm bothering though; Center of the Web is a plodding, leaden-paced 'thriller' that stars Charlene Tilson. Took me ages to work out where I had seen her before. She played Lucy 'The Poison Dwarf' Ewing in Dallas. Very dull. Though the hand drawn muzzle-flash pasted onto the end of her pistol as she finally gets round to shooting the bad guy was almost almost worth the pain.

    Two frames of almost inventive film making. The opening credits ran for two minutes the end credits for six. Eight minutes is a sizeable percentage of a 92 minute movie.
  14. Gladiator (1986) - between making the notorious mad artist turned serial murderer film Driller Killer (1979) and proper films with well kent actors like Christopher Walken and Harvey Keitel: King of New York (1990), Bad Lieutenant (1992), The Funeral (1996), etc. Abel Ferrara paid the rent by directing some TV work. Episodes of Miami Vice and and TV movies like this. Gladiator is a better than average, grittier than usual, made for TV action/message of the week movie ('Drink Driving is Bad') that mashes up bits of Death Wish and Duel and pits a bereaved auto-mechanic against the serial hit and run driver who killed his brother. Like Duel the killer's car is his character - we never see the driver's face or hear him speak, and the vigilante mechanic has a crisis of confidence after driving a speeding car off the road (only to find the occupants were a couple desperate to get to the hospital as the woman was in labour), and turns himself in. The best line is delivered by the always dependable Robert Culp. He's just been read a long list of conflicting descriptions of the vigilante driver and his souped-up, turbo-charged, gizmo laden truck. The descriptions have mostly come from his drunk victims: "So," says our world weary detective. "We're looking for a bald, black James Bond. Shouldn't be hard to find..."
  15. Death Ring (1992) - Yet another of the endless number of movie riffing on the central theme of The Most Dangerous Game (1932). In this one a bored, petulant ex-Green Beret (with the screen presence of a plate of custard) is kidnapped by a bonkers billionaire (played with wonderful over-the-top, camp loopiness by Billy Drago. Drago really was the best bit about this film a whole performance built on the idea of seeing how far he could tilt his head 'being weird' before the director told him to stop. The Green Beret type is played by Mike 'Son of Chuck' Norris. His character's best war story - or at least the only one the audience gets to hear - is about the time he spent three days sitting in a forest behind enemy lines waiting for his buddies to arrive. They had retreated but no one had told him. (Did they know something we didn't?) To cut a lot of tedious character (hah!) development and backstory guff short the custardy ex-Green Beret, Special Forces guy and his girlfriend are kidnapped by two blokes, in broad daylight, in the middle of the city by the old chloroform pad over the mouth gag. (Which makes you start to really wonder just how movie tough this guy is.) Their friend (ace helicopter pilot and wartime buddy, played by someone being Mickey Rourke for the day) notices they have disappeared and goes looking. Luckily the bad guys have a distinctive tattoo on their wrists (Zoinks,Thelma, a clue!). Green Custard guy and girlfriend wake up on Mystery Island where they are introduced to an ethnically diverse group of bad actors who will be hunting him down for kicks. With a four-hour head start our hero whittles a spear out of a branch and makes some ill-defined 'stand in a loop of something and get hung up by your ankle' device. He is attacked by skinny Asian ethnic hunter who does a great line in throwing shiruken into bits of wood just next to our hero's head before standing in the ill-defined loop of something gizmo and getting himself killed. Our hero does not pick up the shiruken, or go through the dead bad guy's pockets to see if he has anything else useful. Our suspicions about him being a bit of a thicko are deepened. Our hero is attacked by the Apache Indian ethnic hunter who throws a BLOODY BIG SPEAR into the tree trunk right next to our hero's head. (Being a tree near this guy is dangerous - though it could be a comment on the guy's acting. "Honest. I couldn't tell them apart!") There is fighting. The Apache Indian ethnic hunter gets killed by an ill-defined prodding in the tummy with a stick. The hero does not pick up the BLOODY BIG SPEAR either. (To save time I'll tell you he doesn't pick up the Kris or the garotte from the other two ethnically diverse - but easily disposed of - hunters either. Our suspicions about Custard boy's thickness are confirmed. Stop whittling sticks and pick up something with a point, you numbskull!) Meanwhile, the Mickey Rourke-o-gram talks to the police and calls in at the only tattoo shop in Los Angeles where he beats the crap out of the owner, and finds the tattoo belongs to a Hispanic cult member. We're glad he did this because when the cult kidnap him a few moments later and tie him to a chair then tell him where to find our hero we aren't wondering who they are. We may be wondering why people are telling him all this but at least we know who's doing it. They let him go and Rourke legs it back to the cops who, with the help of a map and a small wooden ruler, work out that small islands 250 miles of the coast of Mexico are outside the jurisdiction of the L.A.P.D.. (Great detective work!). At which point our sidekick-hero commandeers a helicopter and sets off.

    In the end our hero defeats all comers with the help of a crippled previous survivor of the hunt, a Mickey Rourk-a-like throwing hand grenades from a helicopter, and, in what I think was supposed to be an attempt at irony, he is finally rescued from the killer fists of an ex Viet-Cong female assassin - by his girlfriend! Our hero is being pummelled unto death by a small Asian woman who he had previously thrown out of an upper-storey window and his girlfriend has to rescue him by shooting her in the back. I'd love to have heard the conversation around the Norris family table that night after a hard day's action movie acting:
    Mike: Hi Dad! I'm home. How d'it go today?

    Chuck: Oh, you know, son, the usual: killed a gazillion goons with my bare hands, defused the bomb with my feet, and threw a truck full of dynamite at the bad guys... how about you...?

    Mike: listen, dad, I gotta go tidy my room, okay...?
    I just want to point out I bought this movie by accident.
  16. The Alternate (1999) - yet another cheapo Die Hard knock off. Lots of people do stupid things so they can get shot to death easily - sometimes several times. The greatly underrated Eric Roberts is the lead and he does his thing well and frustrated me again. Why doesn't he get/take better material? He's a far better actor than this crap deserves; it's sad to see him doing shit like this. The vastly overrated Michael Madsen turns up for a bit (though not on the same set or on the same day as any of the other names in the cast) and, almost literally, phones in his performance. He also manages to win the film's 'looking even less bothered about being in the show than anyone else' competition by peering through a pair of binoculars without taking off his sunglasses. Highlights of the ineptness here included: a practical demonstration of the harness used by stuntmen while strapped to a fan descender, the same helicopter being in two separate places at the same time, budget-extending stock news footage of masses of emergency vehicles at a real real emergency - which don't match in any way the location footage, and police who are, at a crucial moment, unable to shoot down one of the two same helicopters because it went behind the besieged building; the implication being that they have only thrown a cordon around one half of it. Derivative shit but worse than that: badly done, derivative shit.
  17. Steel Dawn (1987) Post-apoc mullets and fighting movie which plays out as yet another variation on Shane but with swords this time. Not good. But not terrible. The DVD transfer of the disc I bought from Poundland was dreadful though. Strangely, and variably, cropped, sometimes slicing the top of the image off leaving you staring at talking torsos for a great deal of the time.
  18. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (2003) - one of the better quidworth's I've spent in Poundland recently.
  19. Lorna (1964) - another early Russ Meyer this time featuring an almost coherent story and the stupendous breasts of Lorna Maitland.

  1. Mudhoney (1965) - and another appearance of the stupendous breasts of Lorna Maitland. This time she is less to the fore in a deranged melodrama of rape and murder, religious bigotry, lynching and true love. This was Meyer's ninth feature and he still hadn't grasped the concept of the Line of Action - there's hardly a conversation in his early films that doesn't flip flop the characters across the screen or have them staring off in weirdly dislocating directions. This may have been deliberate (or he just didn't think it was important enough to be worth bothering about) but I find it very peculiar.
  2. Wild Women of Wongo ( 1958 ) - in the middle of the afternoon Daughter Number One (aged ten) decided that what we all really needed to do "right now!" was to watch a "really crap film". Anything to oblige....
  3. Eegah (1962) - ditto
  4. Robot Monster (1953) - double ditto
  5. Dr No (1962) - I've never really been a Bond fan but I remember this as being a lot lot better than it is.
  6. Star Trek II : The Wrath of Kahn (1982) - I loath all things Star Trekkie but I realised the other day had never seen this one. It turns out not to be as kak as the others and is probably the least kak of the ones I have seen. They were still trying, when they made this one; had got past the pompous reverence of the first film and hadn't yet become smug and formulaic. Though it does strain the credibility that Star Fleet didn't notice a whole planet had 'blown up', (why would an uninhabited planet just explode anyway?) and the whole Run Silent Run Deep shtick in the Flashing "Nebula" (complete with 'thunder' noises on the soundtrack) at the end was total pants - always puzzled me in the ST films why, when the scanners are down and the enemy is merely an intermittent image on the main view-screen, doesn't Kirk (or whoever) just send a whole bunch of crew members to look out of all the windows the Enterprise is equipped to see if they can see anything. Every time the enemy is finally spotted in one of these films it's within spitting distance and would be clearly be seen by anyone taking a keek out of a porthole far earlier than its suddenly appearing on the bridge's telly. - dear gods I need to get out more ...
  7. Venus in Furs (aka Paroxismus and Black Angel 1969) - Written and Directed by Jess Franco who died last week. Venus in Furs is regularly written up as his best film (of his 200 or so directorial credits). This doesn't mean by any measurable standard that it's good. Just his best. He made some godawful films did Sr Franco. Venus is a trippy, bewildering, haphazard mess of a film. It's a tale of ghostly revenge carried out by a beautiful fur-clad ghost-woman on the people who killed her during an orgy. The 'erotic' bits here are interspersed with lots of Jazz, held together (hah!) by an off-screen narration full of, even for 1969, dated hep-cat jive-speak delivered by a narrator. To add to the fun the narrator is as obviously dead as the woman he finds on the beach in the opening scene but he doesn't find out he's dead too until the end of the film when he finds his own body washed up on the same beach. It's a film that doesn't look like it knows what it's doing from one scene to the next but at least most of it was in focus - which is more than you can say for some of his films. One of my favourite moments was when a character walked into his own Point of View shot; nice trick if you can do it.
    A great chunk of the film is supposed to take place in Rio de Janeiro for no other reason than Franco had a lot of stock footage of the carnival to hand but you wouldn't know it from the newly shot footage - no attempt has been made to match anything.
  8. Afterwards ( 2008 ) - during the course of what seems like three hours (but is in fact only 107 minutes) a miserable mumbling French arsehole living in New York forgives himself for being an arsehole and accepts his role as some sort of ill-defined, supernatural, guiding-angel type. Beautifully shot and great music but a leaden pace and a loathsome central character. The central philosophy and metaphorical language are trite (though very pretty) and the whole thing ends up looking like The Sixth Sense on Mogadon. Another film that John Malkovich couldn't rescue.
  9. Ed Wood (1995) - to my mind Tim Burton's best film.
  10. Puss in Boots (2011) - second Friday Night Pizza Film in a row to feature Selma Hayek's voice.
  11. Tron (1982)
  12. The Great Race (1965) - this is turning into one of my kids' favourites.
  13. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) - what a bore! At least 30 minutes too long - I watched it with three 10 year olds and there was some serious fidgeting going on just before we got to the third act.
  14. Space Mutiny (1988 - MST3K version) - dreadful dreadful film made bearable by MST3K. Having said that I must find an unmuckedabout copy.
  1. Ice Planet (2003) - German TV movie pilot for a never to be made TV series that managed to get released in the cinemas (well, at least one cinema - in Norway). A prime example of an undercooked script cobbled up from bits selected from a wide selection of other, better scripts and glued together with a lot of adequate CGI Lightshow.

    A giant horrible something attacks an earth colony. The commander orders everything that can fly to take off then loses his ENTIRE fleet when he sends them ALL into the mysterious black cloud. At once. Doesn't send in a 'probe', ask for a volunteer to see what's in there, or offer to go in himself... just loses his entire command, and the war, in 10 seconds flat. Ladies and gentlemen, meet our hero! Left only with a rag-bag of cadets, the usual passing Han Solo clone (with whom he has HISTORY), a passing senator, and a mysterious silent girl they leap aboard a gigantic passing spaceship piloted by an elderly oriental super-scientist (bitter at humanity for twisting his super-dingus research to destructive use). The gigantic passing spaceship was, apparently, built from specs encoded in a crystal of ice that landed on Earth. The crystal also contained some very specific galactic sat-nav directions and a very vague mention of some terrible danger.

    One trip through a hitherto unmentioned rent in the fabric of the space/time continuum later and our heroes find themselves stuck on an ice planet in some distant and uncharted part of the universe - oh, and they have a thousand bewildered civilians on board too. (Actually we have to take the thousand bewildered civilians on trust as the budget would only run to someone saying, "Captain, I have a thousand bewildered civilians down here? What do I tell them?")

    Well, this is all 'so what'? Sounds pretty much like just about every other failed Star Trek / Battlestar Glacatica / Farscape mashup. But then it gets bonkers. On the ice planet, where it is 10 degrees below zero but no-one's breath ever mists, they discover a giant glowing tree thing with all of Human history encoded in it and Human hunter-gatherer types living in ice caves. The mysterious silent girl gets all glowy and starts speaking alieny mysticy cobblers. The Bad Guys arrive. The most symmetrical of the male rookies goes through some portally thing at the behest of alien mystical babblespeaking silent girl and turns into a metallic blue-skinned godlike being with long blond hair. He can open his mouth really wide as he screams and shoots blue lights out of his fingers. (Like one of those incomprehensibly super-powered Anime heroes.) He stops mid bigmouth-screaming finger-blasting to have a conversation with his dad on a park bench under some trees back on Earth - Whit! now we're referencing Solaris...? Meanwhile our commander - whose leadership style consists of doing exactly what the last person suggested he do several minutes beforehand - flies to the rescue of metallic blue-skinned godlike boy - though how he knew where to go is a mystery - and gets several more of his people killed before the Bad Guys (whoever they are) are defeated. There is sadness at the death of the several people he got killed which is displayed in loving detail - the sadness is not shared by the audience because they have no idea who has died (or why) and what their relationship to the people who are grieving for them is. (Whoever they are. No one's even bothered to tell us that.)


    The whole planet pops through the rent of fabric of the space/time continuum (or a different one, who knows?) and everyone is now somewhere even more uncharted than the last bit of uncharted universe they were in. We're now deep into Space:1999 territory, folks. A voice over tells us this is 'only the beginning'.... The End. I'm really sorry this series never made it. It would have been hilarious.
  2. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension (1984) - for the umpteenth time. For the first time in company and all the funnier for sharing.
  3. Frauen für Zellenblock 9 (aka The Women in Cell Block 9 & Tropical Inferno 1978 ) - tatty, underachieving, nasty piece of shit Women in Prison film. Even by director Jess Franco's standards this was a piece of crap.
  4. Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel aka Castle of the Walking Dead, Blood of the Virgins, and a load of others - though my favourite is: The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism 1967) Short (85 min.) Euro-horror tosh with Christopher Lee paying the rent in a story 'inspired' by Poe's Pit and the Pendulum.
  5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) - for better or worse I think this is the start of a Friday Family Movie Night Potterthon. Gawd help me.
  6. Ghoulies IV (1994) - truly godawful. Only the villainess' cleavage and PVC-clad buttocks kept me watching. Another 25p wasted at a car boot sale.
  7. Journey to the Center of the Earth (The Brendan Fraser one) - stupid trailer for the roller coaster ride / game movie - which I rather enjoyed in a totally childish sense of wonder manner. (New big white sheet home-made projection screen improving the pseudo cinematic experience several hundred percent.)
  8. Humanoid Woman - rewatch of a slashed to ribbons version of Russian SF movie Cherez Ternii K Zvyozdam. Even in its butchered state it's still extraordinary stuff.

    Abandoned this month:* Exorcism (2003) - an amateurish filmic version of those dreadful evangelical Chick Publications cartoon gospel tracts - tarted up to look like a horror movie. Dreadfully acted, abysmally directed. Just too painful to watch beyond the ten minute mark. I gave up shortly after this exchange between a father and his boy:

    There's no closer relationship in the world
    than that between a father and son.


    I thought it was between husband and wife...


    No, son. God didn't give his only begotten wife;
    he gave his only begotten son...
    Wha....? Unless I am totally misunderstanding the word 'begotten', (to have fathered or sired), this means the writer thinks God married his own daughter.

    Sarah's Child
    (1994) which is, to quote the back of the box, a 'gripping, spine-tingling psychological thriller filmed entirely in scenic Utah and Idaho'. I guess all the gripping and spine-tingling happens after the 15 minute mark because that's where I abandoned what looked like an endlessly wordy, woodenly-acted TV movie of the week. The sort of crap that turns up on the truemovies channel at 4am - only not as interesting. It was the director's only gig.
* Yes, there are films so unbelievably shite that even I can't watch them.


  1. Ghostbusters (1984)- Friday night with the kids.
  2. The Comic (1984) - when I first watched this last year I dismissed it as 'a turd'. But I think I may be wrong. The Comic, after having lived in my head for a year or so and on another viewing is, possibly, the greatest undiscovered work of genius film-making produced in Britain since the Sixties - or a sustained display of amateur ineptitude which, just by being so incredibly crap, manages to completely bypass any form of criticism.

    With most bad films you have some idea what the film was trying to do:i t's an unfunny comedy, it's a not scary Horror film, it's an unthrilling thriller. With The Comic you don't have a clue. I really haven't got any way to start to work out what the film thought it was other than to liken it to other films which it resembles (slightly - and then almost certainly by accident). Plot-wise I think it's the rags to riches and back again, rise and fall story (think David Essex in That'll be the Day / Stardust) but set in an authoritarian future where jackbooted militia can beat the crap out of people in public for no real reason, then throw them in gaol without trial, and the highest form of culture appears to be the working man's club circuit. It's obviously heavily influenced by David Lynch's unfiltered stream of unconsciousness imagery; uncomfortable, grainy, double-framed shots of nothing much happening are sustained beyond any sensible length. At the end of the film several of these, seemingly totally unrelated shots, are repeated as if they are DEEPLY SIGNIFICANT. There are nightmare/dream sequences with the smoke machines pumping away so much that, at times, it's hard to figure out what is going on on screen.

    The cutting jolts all over the place leaving audience confusion in its wake - for most of the film I had very little idea of where any of the 'action' was taking place; apart from a shot of some boats in a harbour and a couple of establishing shots of a big house all the film takes place indoors - even the scenes which are obviously meant to be outside feel like interiors. (Mostly down to the crappy sound work.) The setting is weird too, the street (shot in what appears to be some sort of living museum heritage centre) is knee deep in straw. The rich get about in horse-drawn carriages or vintage auto-mobiles. The protagonist's 'flat' consists of one ground floor room with a door that opens straight onto the street and has shop windows - and some of the worst wrinkled wallpaper-hanging I have seen. A metaphor maybe for all the many layers of meaninglessness on display? A thin covering to be peeled away to reveal even shallower layers of meaningless beneath? And just why does the protagonist's mullet change colour from yellow to orange, then back again, quite so often? What was that grainy, sepia-toned flashback to the granny getting her throat slit by total strangers all about? Who is the whore in the red dress and what has she to do with anything going on in the rest of the film? Why does the hero pay for his daughter to be smuggled out of the country with a small bag of undefined something like a character from a historical movie? and why doesn't the smuggler look to see what's in the bag? - it could be toenail clippings for all he knows! Why is 'the comic' at the centre of the film so incredibly bloody unfunny? the only really funny stand-up delivered joke of the whole film comes from a character we have never met before (and never seen again) suddenly appearing mid-frame to deliver a seriously surreal gag before vanishing from the movie. What. Is. Going. On? This sort of thing keeps me awake at night.

    I think producer / writer / director / editor / sounds effects arranger Richard Driscoll was trying to do something very simple - an SF reworking of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment in the northern Working-men's club circuit - but somehow, accidentally, managed to make the most accurate, sustained, parody of every bad, overly-arty first year Film Student movie ever produced.

    It's comedy heaven.
  3. Kannibal (2001) - It's Richard Driscoll week here at Junk Monkey Mansions - well the man has just been done for defrauding the Inland Revenue for 1.5 million - Kannibal is a pretty terrible Silence of the Lambsy thing about a human liver eating serial-killer. I've seen it before and have no reason to change my mind about my previous opinion of it:
    a straight to ex-rental, self-financed, incomprehensibly plotted, dreadfully acted piece of serial killer bumsplatter which is close to nudging Zombie Women of Satan off top spot in my Crappest Film Ever Made in Britain list.
    Though I have since seen Driscoll's Legend of Harrow Wood so maybe Zombie Women of Satan is now down at number three.

    This time I watched it with the director's commentary - which was very uninformative but very funny. Driscoll has a very loose grasp of the English language, Kannibal is apparently an "Operatic version of Tosca", he also, apparently, not only doesn't know what 'plagiarism' means but can't pronounce it either, Concord is now "sadly out of decommission". I thought he was just a rotten writer; he's not; he talks like that. He's a rotten talker too.
  4. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2003) - Again. I know I'm in a minority but I really likeSky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. It's good old-fashioned, Republical serial hookum and it knows it, and it's FUN. A much better love letter to the glory days of pulp than the Indiana Jones films, or Rocketman, or any of the others that have tried. It succeeds for me I think because there is no cynicism in this show at all. It's all there on the screen. No subtexts, no sly winks to the audience (apart from the Godzilla reference - maybe); it takes itself seriously and stays in character, which is always the best way to do comedy. Love it.
  5. Highway to Hell (2012) Dear GODS!
    An amazingly dreadful (it's a Richard Driscoll film) Horror Comedy Musical which was ineptly edited down and redubbed from his earlier Eldorado due for the most part one suspects for copyright reasons - i.e. he didn't get clearances/rights to the songs he used in the original. (So ineptly edited that in at least two of the many fades into, and then out from, black between scenes, the opening or closing frames of removed scenes are clearly visible before the incoming shot arrives on screen.) I really really suspect that this may be the worst film in the world. I have seen many utterly shite films over the years but if I say that this makes Frankenstein General Hospital look really good in comparison you may get some idea. Hell, it makes Driscoll's own Legend of Harrow Woods look good in comparison - and that's not somethng I ever thought I would find myself typing.

    I feel like I have just forced myself to stick my head in a blender. Dreadful. I now need to find the original - which is longer...
  6. Wild, Wild Planet (1965) - a rewatch, with the kids this time, of a curious bit of Italian SF which starts of really tediously, get oddly creepy for a wee while in the middle - as dolly birds in beehives, and their rubber-mac wearing, four-armed, sunglassed clone assistants, shrink people and shove them in suitcases - before descending into the usual fisticuffs and random explosions when the evil scientists' underground layer is, for no apparent reason, flooded with explosive Vimto during a glorious donnybrook. There is also a sudden (and pointless) homage to the mirror scene in the Lady from Shanghai.

  7. Love on Wheels (1932) - early, and very very dated, British musical. Ye gods, people were easily amused in those days.
  8. Dangerous Exile (1957) - heaving bosoms, daring rescues, perfidious Welsh sluts, the boy king Louis XVIII hidden among strangers as evil French revolutionaries hunt him down, sword-fights, huge narrative jumps as complex sub-plots are described in a few words, acts of noble self-sacrifice, frantic moonlight gallops, misty dawn landings and all cloaks swirled at every opportunity - and all in glorious Eastmancolor. I rather enjoyed it. I was slightly thrown out of the film every time we had a close up of the young king though as he was played by a 13 year old Richard O'Sullivan (the 70's TV sitcom stalwart best known for playing Robin Tripp in Man About the House). Messed up the old mise en scene for me a bit did that.
  9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) - two movies in and I am already fed up with the Harry Potter marathon. Gods almighty! this was boring. Over two hours of watching people pulling get out of Jail Free Cards out thin air and explaining away everything with a bunch of make it up as you go along rules. Some seriously shit lines too I really felt for the actor who had to deliver:

    "Your bird may have blinded the basilisk, but it can still hear you."

    A real Dungeons and Dragons line if ever I heard one. I yawned a lot.
  10. Merlin and the War of the Dragons (2008 ) - a cheapo Global Asylum POS (12 days for the principal shoot) which, from time to time, almost... almost... managed to get something mythically mystical going for it (most oftenly the bits with the rather yummy and very Welsh Carys Eleri appears as the ethereal faerie Lady of the Lake, Lady Viviane*) - before pissing whatever it was away with some piece of dreadful acting/writing/direction/focus pulling (or any combination of any or all of the above). Favourite moment was watching the unconvincing actor playing the Saxon king delivering the line: "Send forth the berserkers!" with a straight face.

    *About halfway through I decided that she was definitely 'crwmpet'. (Sadly the actual Welsh word for 'crumpet' turns out to be 'Crempoethau'.)
  11. Broken Embraces (2009) - ooh, I likes me a bit of Almodóvar I do
  12. The Cars that Ate Paris (1974) - what a great little film! A lot funnier than I remember. Brilliant performance from John Meillon as the mayor.
  13. Hollow Man (2000) - Basically it's the Invisible Man updated which segues into a sleazy slasher film. It's so full of OTT stupid moments it almost becomes fun - the heroine escaping from the superconducting walk-in fridge by constructing a powerful electromagnet from a defibrillator and a drawer handle is one of the best (why they keep the defibrillator in the fridge is a question) and as for the moment when the Final Girl and her boyfriend take one look at the centrifuge loaded with home made Nitroglycerine (?), from which the villain has removed the control panel after setting the timer so it starts spinning when he's safely away, is a treat. "There's nothing we can do!" says the script. "Just unplug the fucker!" says the audience.
  14. Quand j'étais chanteur (aka The Singer 2006) - slow, amiable May September romance which is often more concerned with eulogising the vanishing world of the French dance band scene than driving the story. Enjoyable, beautifully acted, and, at times, wonderfully shot and edited but I doubt if it is going to live long in my memory.The final shot annoyed me though. Here's the scene: Gérard Depardieu (aged 60) and Cécile De France (30) have just been sat in a cafe. Their relationship which started as a (barely credible) one night stand has stumbled on (sexlessly) for months before, it would appear, finally coming to an end. It's late at night. The two of them have been sat in a near empty cafe. A sad regretful song played on the juke-box. Both cried. As the song finishes they leave the cafe together the camera slowly dollies to follow them, then frames them in a long shot out on the pavement the other side of the windows. The lights of the cafe go out. They are the last customers. The shot holds without a cut as they shake hands and, after a moment, she exits screen left They may have spoken we don't know; we didn't hear if they said anything. They are too distant to lip read. He stands on the pavement, back to the camera, lost, alone, resigned to a life of loveless mediocrity. Depardieu's body language here is strange. Strange but great. Shoulder hunched, twitching and fumbling. He's not put a foot wrong during the whole show; it's a wonderful performance, and here, somehow, he conveys desperate lost uncertainty... in a long shot... with his back to the camera! A bereft old man alone. It's a heartbreaking moment.

    At this point if the director had had any balls he would have faded to black and the film would have had a lovely poignant ending.... but wait! Just to be safe, in case he changed his mind in the editing suite or because the producers needed a 'happy ending', he held the shot for far longer than he needed then had the rather yummy yummy-mummy Cécile suddenly rush back and throw herself into his sad old has been arms arms and snog his battered old potato face as if he were the last man on earth.

    Suddenly "Aaaaah!" turned into "Meh!"

    It's a sad fact of life but miserable, middle-aged, potato-faced men don't get the slim sexy elegant girl. (Dammit!) I know. Been there, done that, fucked it up.

    Just as young women don't need to be sold the knight in shining armour myth. Miserable, middle-aged, potato-faced men like me don't need to be sold this porky that there is some piece of hot totty out there just gagging for our flabby old, world-weary bodies. We need to be told that it's OK; that it's time to stop pretending. We need to be told, 'You're not alone; even wonderfully charismatic people like Depardieu can't pull the birds any more. It's over! Resign yourself to the fact.".

    Should have faded to black.

    Mind you, having said that; if Cécile De France threw herself at me and tried to snog my face off I don't think I'd put up too much resistance...
  15. The Brain that Wouldn't Die ('February 15th 1962') - my annual watch of a truly great bad film which still contains The Mad Scientist's Prayer:
    "What you see is real. What I've done, I've done, and what I've done is right - it is the work of science."
  16. The Killer Shrews (1959) - Daughter No 1 has been reading the Medveds' Golden Turkey books and demanded we watch this.
  1. The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
  2. The Fourth Kind (2009) - aliens, found footage, and Milla Jovovich. As crap as it sounds.
  3. The Objective ( 2008 ) - A bunch of special ops types wander round Afghanistan one by one falling prey to Ancient Mysterious Thingies till the last one meets God/gods/Ancient Mysterious Thingies. One of those films that is almost... something... not 'good' but something. Felt a lot longer than 90 minutes though.
  4. Stories of Lost Souls (2005) - seven (or eight if you have the US edit) shorts assembled to form something with a feature length running time. The shorts (like most shorts) vary from the bland to the banal and back again with the odd interesting moment. There is some attempt to link them with intertitles (which also help smooth out the changes in aspect ratio) but they do little to disguise the fact that what we have here is a bunch of shorts stripped of their credit sequences (where possible) and nailed end to end with gaffer tape. The Shooting Gallery on Channel Four used to show this stuff late at night when all but total film geeks (or those of us waiting to see our names in the credits) had gone to bed.* The Propeller Channel on SKY used to do similar but both had the decency to run the opening and closing credits. WhatStories of Lost Souls has got is a stunning cast list: Paul Bettany, Cate Blanchett, Billy Boyd (in US edit), Sophie Dahl, Michael Gambon, James Gandolfini, Jeff Goldblum, Daryl Hannah, Josh Hartnett, Hugh Jackman, Keira Knightley, Maureen Lipman, Joanna Lumley, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Andy Serkis, Sarah Silverman, Imogen Stubbs and others. After a while it became apparent that lots of actors will be very generous with their time to wannabee directors (lots of favours called in I suspect: the short directed by Hugh Jackman's wife is very red carpet) and that most of these films were selected for inclusion here because of their casts not because of any thematic unity. Of the seven I most enjoyed 'Supermarket', written, directed, and starring Illeana Douglas. It might not have been the best film of the bunch but it was the most likeable; possibly the only chance you will ever get to watch Jeff Goldblum sing a George Formby song.

    *Cool! It has been revived! That'll teach me not to watch TV or look at the listings any more
  5. The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) - I have never seen an episode of the Brady Bunch (did it ever air in the UK?) but this updated and modernised self-parodying gem is so clever and well made that I didn't feel the lack. A film that plays that game of tottering naive, fish-out-of-water characters (and the sympathetic audience) towards embarrassment predicament situations and then rescuing them at the last moment with some very funny twists. It's a formula that usually has me running a mile; it can slip over into mawkishness so very very easily. This show played the game with such full-on nauseatingly gung-ho gusto that it rolled right over the pathos potholes and carried me with it. I'm not ashamed to say I laughed; a lot. I now have the theme tune stuck in my head.
  6. Lair of the White Worm ( 1988 ) - I am a man who is easily pleased and watching Amanda Donohoe outrageously camping it up as an immortal vampire lizard woman in thigh high PVC boots, or naked and painted blue wearing a huge 'ceremonial' pointy strap-on dildo pleased me immensely. (I know; I'm sad.) This film just doesn't work on so many levels (like all of Ken Russell's films) but it is amazing. It's not funny, it's not horror, it's not sexy, it's not interesting, exciting, weird or... anything really but it is just so gloriously bonkers trying to be all of those things it becomes something else. I just can't help wondering what it would have been like if it hadn't been directed by Ken 'Phallus' Russell in his usual histrionic manner. I doubt it would have been as funny.
  7. The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) - Again. I don't often rewatch films quite so quickly but after enthusing about this piece of jolly fluff to my mum I decided I wanted to share it with her. I'm afraid I have a new Top Guilty Pleasure film.
  8. Satanik ( 1968 ) - very cheap and instantly forgettable fumetti-based film with a female scientist type doing a bit of an inverted Jekyll and Hyde; turning from disfigured monstrosity to beautiful (but ruthlessly deadly) master criminal.
  9. The Great Garrick (1937) - another of my all-time favourite feel-good films. A forgotten gem from director James Whale.
  10. The Paper (1994) - a day in the life of a New York newspaper. And rather well done too. I quite enjoyed it.
  11. Session 9 (2001) - another random selection from the VHS pile. It's the innocents in a creepy place falling one by one to an unseen killer routine but given a twist. Instead of the usual assortment of teenage wannabees stranded in the spooky place (in this case an abandoned mental hospital) we have instead a group of white, blue collar workers with a contract to strip the asbestos out of the place. They're working to a deadline and going home at the end of the day. It's all very credible - and creepy. Not bad at all. Great sound work.
  12. High Heels (1991) - Pedro Almodóvar
  13. Fearless Tiger (1991) - tedious piece of straight to video martial arts crap which involves a wafer thin plot nominally about international drug running but really about the producer star showing of his kung-fu moves - endlessly showing of his kung-fu moves over and over again... okay already! enough with the hand waving, can we have some plot please! Mind you, when he does start talking it's hard to work out what he's saying a lot of the time. I had to rewind the tape a couple of times before I worked out that the 'seeny krute' meant 'the pretty way round', really really bad acting (we are talking village hall am-dram levels of credibility here). Very dull.
  14. Be Kind Rewind (2008 ) - should there be a comma in that title? Feels like there should be but there isn't; I checked. I nearly abandoned this the first 20 minutes of so just left me stone faced and very very unamused. Maybe it's me but I just don't find Jack Black at all funny. It got better once the 'Sweding' started but it seemed to take an age to get there.
  15. Raising Cain (1992) - erm? I'm not sure I really got what all that was about but Lolita Davidovitch was hot, John Lithgow had fun chewing up the scenery in every direction he could think of and there were director Brian De Palma's trademark extended shots - one of which followed characters down three storeys. I like shots like that - for one thing, it gives the actors a chance to do some real acting. I think I like the way De Palma makes films more than the films themselves.
  16. Candy ( 1968 ) - I finally get to see Candy a star-studded piece of late '60s kitsch I've been meaning to look at for years. Starring everyone from Brando, Burton, and James Coburn, written by Buck Henry (who wrote the screenplays for The Graduate and Catch 22) from a book by Terry Southern (who worked on Dr Strangelove and Easy Rider)... and I didn't really like it - there were okay moments, but few and far between. For the most part I thought it too long, too self-indulgent and very very dated. Many people compare this film with Barbarella which was made in the same country (Italy) released in the same year, has a superficially similar(ish) plot line (innocent sexually attractive blonde falls in with a succession of men who take advantage of her naivete) and both films contain shots in which actors writhe around on sheets of glass (the 'weightless' stripping sequence under the opening credits in Barbarella* and a weird, out-of-nowhere shot supposedly in the back of a Mercedes in Candy where Richard Burton's character attempts to seduce the virginal heroine.) Anita Pallenberg is in both films, The director of Candy starred in Barbarella director Roger Vadim's...And God Created Woman (1956) Terry Southern Co-WROTE the screenplay Barbarella etc etc etc. You can see why people compare the two.

    The really big difference is that Barbarella is an adult, a woman; though she doesn't understand what is happening a lot of the time she is a willing and active participant in the sexual acts that occur during the course of the film and is shown to enjoy them. (The only time I think that she isn't a willing participant is when Durand Durand's attempts to pleasure her to death with his Excessive Machine - even then she has a capacity for sexual pleasure far beyond its capabilities and the machine is destroyed instead.) Candy on the other hand is a girl - a teenager still at high school - who is repeatedly coerced into having sex (if not actually raped) by everyone she meets including her uncle and, in the end, her own father. For the most part she seems to get no pleasure from any of these incidents - and for the most part this is all played for laughs. Sorry, but these days this just looks like big-screen child abuse.

    * One of the high water marks in 20th century SF film making in my humble opinion:

  1. Goemon (2009) - a solid 2 hours of near non-stop high-energy super-ninja stuff based on a Robin Hood type character from Japanese legend. Very bloody and very messy (just about everyone dies, babies get tossed into vats of boiling oil, wives of less co-operative assassins are slaughtered out of hand etc etc) and it's amazingly entertaining. I'm not sure I kept track of who had (or was about to) be betray(ed) and/or kill(ed) (and/or vice versa) by whom - at one point I was slightly convinced that someone had managed to usurp himself before working out that one of the himselfs was someone else - but I really enjoyed it. A Jacobean revenge tragedy on steroids (with ninjas).
  2. Heckler (2007) - talking head documentary about what a pain in the arse hecklers can be to stand-ups which segues into a talking head documentary about what a pain in the arse internet film reviewers can be to stand-up comics who go on to make unfunny comedies. It's a heartfelt movie, driven by the producer (stand-up turned actor) Jamie Kennedy's hurt at getting trashed by many professional and amateur reviewers. And it's a heartfelt message that is totally undermined every time he appears on screen behaving like a spoilt brat. Several times he is shown talking to critics, who have panned him, challenging them to justify their attacks. He is often unable to read out what they have written about him, stumbling over some of the longer words (which he clearly doesn't understand) and is then unwilling, or unable, to engage them in any meaningful dialogue - instead suggesting to one reviewer that if he had had a really good messy blow job recently he might have liked his film more - wha...? Another reviewer gets the Star Trek Vulcan split finger salute thing waved in his face and told he "lives at [the San Diego] Comic-Con" as if this was an amazingly funny and devastating put down. It wasn't. In both cases the reviewers looked bemused and uncomfortable. Jamie Kennedy just appeared to be mentally unwell and did himself no favours. Any sympathy he might have generated was pissed away with his displays or rudeness and crudity. There is an important message in here: we should all be careful about what we say especially in the anonymous and (relatively) unregulated interweb. People have feelings and having two years of your life's work shat on by nasty little wannabe hacks with no creative experience of their own must hurt. It's an important message but delivered badly.
  3. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010) - I loved it!
  4. Mirror Mirror (2012) - A perfect Friday Night Pizza movie. (Thanks, Daisy!)
  5. Attack of the Crab Monsters - a giant papier mache monsters eating scientists movie which had the girls and me in stitches for its entire running time.
  6. Super 8 (2011) - which was darker than I expected - though that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I quite enjoyed it though, about half-way through, I had the weird feeling that if ever I ever watched it again I would probably hate it. Not quite sure I understand why I felt that way but it might have something to do with the fact that it suddenly reminded me of The Goonies. I hated The Goonies. I am the only person in the world who does, but I thought it was horrible.
  7. The Stuff (1985) - or maybe I should just wait a couple of years. I dismissed The Stuff, a tale of a killer pudding threatening to take over America, as:
    Nearly as crappily crap as it sounds. For the most part it is the usual mess of muddled story, sudden narrative jumps, and never explained incidents,
    I was wrong. It's a very odd, witty very funny little film. I apologize to all concerned for my sniffy remarks.
  8. Ice Cream Man (1995) - now this was crap; I don't think I'm ever going to change my mind on this one. Ice Cream Man is a witless wander into the Kids Know Someone is a Killer But No one Takes Them Seriously So They Set Out To Prove It genre. Inept in every direction, for most of the time it plays like a slightly gory Children's Film Foundation production with David Warner and Olivier Hussey getting paid for a few days work while wondering what did happen to their careers. It's a measure of the scrappy production values that the kid consistently referred to as the 'fat kid' and who is always shown slower more plodding and out of breath than the others in the gang is, in fact, played by a kid of perfectly average weight wearing a variety of padded jackets and 'fat suit' clothes with no attempt to make his face, hands or any other viable part of his body look overweight. A production so crappy they couldn't find a fat American kid actor? Things I learnt from this film:
    • Lee Majors II looks very like his dad.
    • Staff members pushing stock trolleys around American supermarkets don't notice when people climb on and off them while they are being pushed along.
    • Fading to black at the end of Every Scene really does look as shitty and indecisive as I suspected it would.
  9. Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 3 of Mrs JM's relentless family watchings of the Harry Plodder films. Second movie in a row with lots of fading to black at the ends of scenes as our hero faints at least four times (I lost count). And sometimes my initial thoughts are correct. Half way though watching this I had the thought that I had seen this film before:
    Originally Posted by my IMDb 'review' back in Aug 2005
    For all the effort that went into this film (and technically it is very impressive) I doubt if I will remember a single frame of it in a week's time.
    Well it's been more than a week but I was right. I knew I'd seen it but didn't remember a thing about it. Nothing. My memory of this film was a total blank despite the fact that several sequences were shot a couple of miles down the road from my house. It didn't even generate a sense of deja-vu. I had totally forgotten it. This time (and maybe last time too) I found myself increasingly irritated by our hero. He's such an annoying little twerp. Can't keep a secret for more than 30 seconds before he's rushing off to tell Hermione and Ron all about it (the fact that the prisoner bloke is out to kill him - see! it's going already, the Gary Oldman character. No, the name's gone - and the incredibly useful animated map thing. He's no sooner given it in the strictest confidence than he's blabbing all about it to H & R) - and I'm getting so fed up with him being forgiven for everything. Every time he breaks 'the rules' he is let off this time and warned not to do it again or there will be consequences... next time... kindly smile, twinkle in the eye. (Yawn!)
  10. Welcome to Collingwood (2002) - a film which starts with one of my favourite opening gimmicks: show characters in absurd/weird/puzzling situation followed by a title card saying: "Three Weeks Before" and playing the whole film out in flashback to the point where the absurd/weird/puzzling situation makes perfect and inevitable sense. I laughed. A lot. I now need to see the original: Big Deal on Madonna Street ( 1958 ).
  11. The Princess Bride (1987) - for the umpteenth time. One of my favourite films.
  12. The Giant Claw - more rainy afternoon bad movie fun with number One Daughter.
  13. Movie 43 (2013) - I would go and find the turd icon to slap here but I suspect the makers would find it funny. What a piece of shit!
Abandoned in August:
Phobic (2002) (I lasted 7 whole minutes! of a very home-made looking: shot on video and badly at that. It starring someone who I remember stinking up the screen in a stonkingly bad 1998 supernatural thriller called Talisman. I have better bad movies to watch than this.
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) - A 'comedy'. After twenty minutes watching a bunch of middle-aged well-heeled hedonistic one-note cardboard cut out arseholes: character A = Failed in Long Term Relationships, Character B = Unfulfilled Dreams he Decided Not to Follow etc. I realised that, for a comedy, it was incredibly not funny. All the humour (that I could detect) seemed to consist of the characters calling each other 'gay' or ridiculing anything that didn't conform to some hard-drinking, slut-fucking, party-animalling version of emotionally stunted, alpha-male arseholeness. To hell with them.


  1. Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979) - Russ Meyer's last film. A frenetic sexplotation comedy centred around the everyday story of a husband with an IQ of 36 and 'an inability to look a good fuck in the face' and his wife who suffers from 'enthusiasm'. It's cartoon stuff, Warner Bros' Loony Tunes capering - with tits. And it's pretty funny for great chunks of its running time, though for the life of me I couldn't really tell you why. Most of the funnies come from the strange mock earnestness of the on-screen, direct to camera narrator who hustles the narrative from one bonkers set piece sex scene to another. His monologues are a weird mixture of Dylan Thomas-like relentlessly mellifluous free-flowing poetry, and straight, plain-speaking American newsreel commentary. Strange stuff. And it's not just the narrator - at one point two characters converse in rhyming couplets while having sex, and one of the many bouts of furniture-rattling humping is cut to the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore. It's almost free-form film making, chaotic, jazzy, uncontrolled. Bebop softcore porn. I like it. And not just for the boobs.
  2. How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (2000) - A curmudgeonly writer, happily childless, is changed by meeting a neighbour's little girl who suffers from cerebral palsy. Actually, written down like that it sounds like a real piece of over-sentimental crap but it's a mildly amusing tale and mildly heart warming in an unsentimental and remarkably non-gushy manner.
  3. Dorian Gray (2009) - The Oscar Wilde story with, as usual for National Lottery funded projects, a shitload of money thrown at the art department and not enough thrown at the script. It could have been worse.
  4. Rollerball (2002) - pointless ADHD remake. The best bit of the whole sorry mess was the rather good music by Fifth Element composer Eric Serra. I may have to find the original sound track. I play the Fifth Element OST often enough.
  5. Bugsy Malone (1976) - for the gods-knows-how-many-timesth time but the first time on the big screen since I saw it in on its first run in the cinema 37(!) or so years ago. It is now Number One Daughter's 'favourite film' - replacing Labyrinth in her affections.
  6. Forbidden Planet - for the gods-knows-how-many-timesth. I dearly love Forbidden Planet and, now I own a decent DVD copy, I got to watch it projected for the first time in 27(ish) years. (Last time was in Hull library theatre.) It's a film of its time; contemporary magazine SF made flesh and gorgeous to look at.
  7. Dolls (2002) - my second Takeshi Kitano film (the first was the multi award winning Hana-Bi) I'm still not convinced. Slow, elegiac (it says so on the cover), and emotionally engaging - I'll admit to having a real lump in my throat when the girl shows the boy she remembers the necklace - but in the end it didn't just work for me. I kept getting thrown out of the film. Some of the editorial decisions bordered on the patronising. It was almost as if the director wasn't confident that the audience would remember who characters were without him reminding them from time to time. 'Look it's HIM!' - the fade in of the traffic warden / obsessed fan's character as his blood was being washed from the street was the most obvious. We knew whose blood it was. It had been clearly established it was the traffic warden / obsessed fan's. He was the only character wearing a white suit and carrying a white blind person's walking stick. We had seen him walking down the road. We had just seen a shot of his blood splattered body lying on the road. Why did we then need the fade in to remind us who he was as his blood is washed off the road? We didn't. It might have been useful to know how he had gone from walking down the road to lying dead on it - did he get run over? did he kill himself? THAT wasn't clear, but there we go. He's an award winning director and I'm just some poor chump who doesn't know my arse from my elbow or if ALL Japanese women are insanely beautiful - or just the ones that appear in movies.
  8. Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974) a vastly disappointing piece of late Hammer nonsense that I had never got round to seeing before. Brilliant title though and proof (if proof be needed) that I would watch any old shit if it had Caroline Munro's cleavage in it.
  9. Crash of the Moons (1954) - an early TV movie nailed together from episodes of the Rocky Jones: Space Ranger TV series. It's pretty awful stuff; it's only really redeeming moment was the one when our hero dons a space suit to deal with a red hot meteorite (in interstellar space?) that has become attached to his ship's tail planes. He deals with it by taking a fire hose out the airlock and squirting the thing with water - then shooting it with a hand gun till it falls off. I nearly hurt myself laughing.
  10. Reptilicus (1961) - which was a vast disappointment. I didn't really have high hopes for it. It's a Danish Godzilla with a winged prehistoric lizard thingie stomping the landmarks Copenhagen flat while the combined might of the Danish armed forces futilely fire everything they have at its general direction. (But not the Air Force. Did the Danes not have an Air Force in 1963 or did they get a preview of the script and decline to take part?) But I was expecting better from Ib Melchior the writer of Deathrace 2000, the rather good Robinson Crusoe of Mars, the very odd Angry Red Planet, and the oddly good The Time Travelers. It was directed by Sidney Pink (ditto some of the above). Not one of their better efforts.
  11. Ikarie XB1 (1963) - a rewatch of one of my favourite pieces of Soviet Block SF but this time it's a brand spanking new DVD with subtitles (in English!) without spelling mistakes from the newly discovered Second Run label. Happy birthday, me.

    Untitled by dpsantos, on Flickr
  12. Sucker Punch (2011) - what Nou says: "unbelievable garbage from start to finish, not even all the [scantily-clad symmetrical women flashing their knickers while firing machine-guns] could save it." (How can anyone make scantily-clad symmetrical women flashing their knickers while firing machine-guns boring?)
  13. Buffalo '66 ( 1998 ) - odd.
  14. Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991) - the Alan Rickman one. A lot longer than I remember.
  15. House of Usher (1960)
  16. The Legend of Hell House (1973) - the second film in a row to feature four characters stuck in a house written by Richard Matheson. Some genuine chills here but ultimately it all fell a bit flat. Nice score though. Some genuinely weird stuff on the soundtrack thanks in part to the great Delia Derbyshire.
  17. Quatermass 2 (1957) - meh.
  18. Elektra (2005) - comic book guff which I abandoned a couple of years ago at about the twenty minute mark. Occasionally I go back and look at films I didn't like first time round just in case I was wrong. Sometimes I am (cf The Stuff above). This time I wasn't.
  19. The Phantom Planet (1961) - clunking piece of not very good SF watched with Number One Daughter. We giggled a lot.
  20. Crypt of the Living Dead aka Hannah, Queen of the Vampires(1973) - another fine DVD product on the defunct cheapo (and questionably legal) 23rd Century label. Most of their discs appear to have been hand-mastered from battered ex-rental VHS copies and often have tape roll and other undigital blemishes but this was the first one I have watched that changed aspect ratio from scene to scene. Some scenes full frame, some matted off top and bottom. I have no idea why. It was almost as if the DVD had been mastered from two different sources. The film itself was pretty run-of-the-mill American abroad / superstitious locals vampire nonsense but with the odd moment of interest: like the moment when the metal conduits for the lighting in the tourist site location look slightly out of place in the recently excavated archaeological dig the site is pretending to represent. Makes you wonder why all the characters are wandering around in the dark holding up piddling little paraffin lanterns when there's a whole son et lumière waiting at the flick of a switch.
  21. The Sleepwalker Project (1997 - or 2003) - an accidental rewatch of two 60 minute episodes of a short lived TV series chopped into a 84 minute TV movie. The TV series aired (and was cancelled) in 1997 and the movie seems to have appeared in 2003. I accidentally rewatched it because I thought I was watching two different episodes chopped together than the episodes I watched chopped together last time. The show had potential and was passingly interesting - researchers can enter other people's dreams and poke about and solve crimes, right wrongs, etc. etc. Mission Impossible with reality bending (years before Inception). It had potential. Somewhere along the line the 'film' had been released under two different titles. Sleepwalker Project and or Sleepwalker/Sleepwalkers (depending whether you believed the disc or the case). By the time I had realised the cause of my growing sense of deja vu tonight I was too knackered to change the disc and get something else to watch. And Naomi Watts is hot....
  22. Specimen (1996) - low budget SF constructed from bits of garbled retellings of several other (much better) movies: Terminator, Starman, Firestarter and Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe (sic - Abraxas, Guardian of the Galaxy was better) and very flatly done. For most of its time it looked like a tatty pilot for an unambitious 'man alone wandering America helping strangers while looking for his destiny' type series - complete with fade to black commercial break points - but with nudity. (Thinking about it, the nudity footage could easily have been edited out if the they'd sold it to TV but was obviously shot to spice up the trailers if the film got a release.) It sucked; even with the nudity - it's a measure of the film's suckiness that the script doesn't even nod at the essential creepiness of our hero imagining his dead mother stripping naked and getting impregnated by aliens. (The fact he accidentally burned her to death when he was a child makes it even creepier.)
  23. Trancers (1985) - a Rule Seven movie ( 'Rule #7: Any and all time travel devices [in low budget SF films] will only transport you to Los Angeles the year the film was made; no matter how hard you try to make it take you somewhere more interesting.'*) Part of a minor group of post Blade Runner low-budget movies that mash-up the hard boiled detective and SF Genres. Some work, some don't. This one teeters on the edge by not taking itself too seriously but not desperately striving for the yoks. By not taking itself too seriously it allows the audience to sit back and ignore the gaping plot holes. By not scrabbling to milk every laugh it avoids the sad, mind-numbing desert wasteland that is the unfunny comedy. Best line: "Dry hair is for squids." There were four sequels.

    *I wish I could remember what the other rules were.



  1. Pranzo di ferragosto ( 2008 ) - a middle-aged man looking after his elderly mother ends up looking after a whole houseful of elderly women. Maybe the subject matter is too close to my own circumstances but I was less than bowled over by what many people seem to think was a delightful and charming film.
  2. Clash of the Warlords aka Mad Warrior (1985) - now this is more like it! A spectacularly shoddy post-apoc Mad Maxalike from the Philippines which is so stunningly inept it's hilarious. I haven't laughed so much for ages - any film that opens with a two minute freeze frame of an explosion has got something going for it. (Presumably the opening credits were supposed to go over this static shot but apart from a brief - 6 second - flash of the film's title... nothing. No director's credit, writing, music, producer, nothing. I don't think I've ever come across that before. How can you release a film without putting the opening credits in place? Though, as I type this, it occurs to me that maybe the film didn't have a writer, director, or a producer. That would explain a lot.

    Any of you guys directed before? Anyone...?

    So what happens? Basically a lot of podgy Filipinos in leather waistcoats and identical moustaches stare at the corners of the screen looking meaningful; when they're not trying to hack each other's limbs off with axes. The hero gets rescued, twice, by a girl with a machine gun and several characters appear from nowhere and disappear just as quickly. Every shot has at least 57 people in it, most of them yomping aimlessly from one place to another in an attempt to make it look as if something is happening on screen and in the end the villain and hero produce light sabres from god knows where and the villain explodes. Whatever the hero says to the secondary hero at the end, before riding off into an end credit freeze frame, is a mystery as they forgot to dub the dialogue for that bit. But they did remember to put in the end credits. Several members of the crew were listed with their first names only - presumably so the Philipino version of the Benefits Fraud Office couldn't work out who they were. (Though I do like the fact that they had a 'Booman' on the crew. Wonder what his job was? Sneak up behind people when the acting got too boring and shout "BOO!"?)

    As the cherry on my evening's crappy cake of delights, the transfer has to be one of the worst I have ever seen. Not only was there tape roll from the tatty VHS copy from which it is mastered but on at least two occasions the screen went to blue as, I guess, the tape jammed in the machine. Another quality product from 23rd Century. A keeper.
  3. Empire of Ash ( 1988 ) - in a post-apocalyptic America lots of people shoot a lot of other people - a lot. The sort of film made for those who find the thought of firing semi-automatic weapons sexually stimulating but who are too lazy to read a Jerry Ahern novel. Very dull. Occasionally the relentless monotony of people machine gunning each other to death is broken (with a different type of monotony) by just about every woman with a speaking part in this film getting naked - sometimes with comedy 'boinggg!' noises on the soundtrack as their norks come bouncing into view. (Oh, how I laughed.) In addition there's: a 'cute' computer robot, a bickering pair of middle-aged 'Nam vet gun dealers*, a pair of Victoria's Secret clad bimbos, cannibal zombie types lurking in the woods, religious cultists forcing captured nubiles to breed with their ancient leader, and, in a surreal moment that looks like it wandered in from another film, a character with a rocket-launcher hat who wears a glove puppet. But mostly it was Blam! Blam! Badadadadadada! Argh! F**k! Let's get outta here....! Blam! Blam! Badadadadada! Argh! Blam Argh! - Argh! Blam! Very very dull.

    Probably the only film ever to have had a threquel made without ever having had a sequel. Empire of Ash was, apparently, released in Europe under the marketing gimmick title of Empire of Ash 2. When they came to make the real sequel a year later they had to call it Empire of Ash 3 to avoid confusion.

    * 'Viet Nam vets who deal in guns' not 'vet guns'. Can't see why anyone would want to buy a gun specially for shooting vets - though if someone had one, and a time machine, I suppose they could go back and alter history so that Christopher Timothy's acting career didn't peak with his arm up a cow's arse.
  4. Satan's Dog (1983) aka Play Dead - in fact so aka that it said Satan's Dog on the case and disc, Play Dead on the opening credits.* Either way it was shit. One of those films so unengaging you notice continuity errors in the sex scene.

    *Mind you the distribution company also changed its name. On the box it's '23rd Century' on the disc '22nd Century'.
  5. Thor the Conqueror (1983) - the and then... and then... and then... 'adventures' of a well-oiled barbarian type who looks a bit like the way Brendon Fraser thinks he looks, wandering from place to place killing people or raping them, depending on their sex. (Though, to be fair, our hero does kill a couple of women without raping them.) Depressingly dull and dreadful Sword and Sorcery bollocks* enlivened only by the peculiar narrative device of an onscreen story-teller/owl/wizard character who basically hangs around being mystical, watching all this testosterone driven bilge, and commenting on it for our benefit - in a very good imitation of the sort of stuff Ed Wood wrote for his onscreen story-teller/mystic/undead collaborator Criswell. Speeches like this which he delivers as the camera pans away from our hero and his pregnant lover cuddling in their happy bide-a-wee tree-branch shelter:
    "Ena is expecting the fruit of their love. She is a female strong and intelligent; a son in her belly; a woman's magic... but there is coming Newt - the enemy of Thor!"
    His best moment comes when he magics up a quadruped for our hero to ride:
    "In centuries to come he will be called 'horse'!"

    My best moment came when I woke up and realised it had finished. (A moment which I then spoiled by rewinding the film to the place I last remember being awake and watching it again while concious.)

    * a phrase my spellchecker wanted to correct to "Sword and Crockery bollocks"; now that might have been a much more interesting film.
  6. Immortals (2011) - More sweaty men with swords but a much bigger budget, a story, and some seriously drop-dead gorgeous costume design by Eiko Ishiok. (The only reason I bought the film was because her name was on the credits.)

  7. Nightmares Come at Night (1970) - another dollop of sordid seventies' eurosleeze from Jess Franco.The usual mixture of pre-silicon age chesty bits, half-hearted lesbian sex and an utterly-incomprehensible plot (even by Franco's own fevered standards). The incomprehensibility is explained slightly by the fact that this was, apparently - and I guess still is - two unfinished films glued together. It looks like it. But who cares? The screen is full of euroboobs and there's dialogue like this to keep you amused when there isn't:
    "Before I met Cynthia I had a strip-tease act in a sleazy night club in Zagreb. But now I don't know who I am or what I'm doing... It's horrible!"
    and, as abstract as that looks on your screen, it made even less sense in context. Some man our Sr Franco.
  8. The Cry of the Owl (2009) - initially intriguing, but ultimately over-long, adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel. I was slightly wrong-footed by the packaging on the DVD case which shows a an axe holding silhouetted figure staring up at an old house with the strapline: 'When the watching stops... the terror begins'. It looks for all the world like your standard slasher stalker horror bollocks. What arrives on screen is a slow-paced tale of damaged, unhappy people and obsession which gradually turns into a Hitchcocky 'innocent man unable to prove his innocence' flick.
  9. Sin City (2005) - blah!
  10. Batman Begins (2005) - 2005 was obviously a good year for Rutger Hauer appearing in comic book movies. He was in Sin City too. I quite enjoyed Batman Begins though, after a while, I did get slightly distracted by counting the number of British and European actors in, what the surface, looks like a quintessentially American film. The cast (almost) in order of appearance on the film's IMDB page: Christian Bale (Welsh), Michael Caine (English), Liam Neeson (Irish), Gary Oldman (English), Cillian Murphy (Irish),Tom Wilkinson (English), Rutger Hauer (Dutch), Ken Watanabe (Japanese), Linus Roache (English), Larry Holden (Irish), Gerard Murphy (Irish), Colin McFarlane (English)...

    Katie Holmes, Mark Boone Junior, and Morgan Freeman appeared to be the only Americans in there. (Though Shane Rimmer did pop his head up too to deliver what looked like a very tacked-on bit of "Oh my god! I have to explain the dire consequences of what they are doing..." exposition at one point.) To my mind the best of Nolan's Batman films. More substance, less flash! bang! wallop!
  11. Le parfum d'Yvonne (1994) - slow gentle love and loss story. Very French. And probably the funniest single cutaway to a cage full of budgerigars in the middle of a sex scene in the history of cinema.
  12. The Science of Sleep (2006) - a rewatch. And I'm still not convinced.
  13. Dead Awake (2000) - a rewatch and odder than I remember it. A genuinely weird little thriller which just gets odder and funnier as it goes on without ever playing for laughs. About an hour into the film our hero, Desmond Caine, is hiding out in the tiny apartment of a legally blind all-night cafe waitress. The room is half filled by a huge television which is chained to the wall. He turns it on and finds himself the main news item:
    News Anchorman: "Corporate superstar, or love-crazed killer. Who is the real Desmond Caine? Here to offer a window into his bizarre world is Caine's attorney and confidant; Lena Savage. Miss Savage, if Caine did not commit this heinous murder-dismemberment of his fiancées wheelchair-bound lover - how do you explain his suicide attempt?"
  14. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) - and I'm back onboard. After the last episode which I thought was a crashing bore I was pleasantly and happily surprised by this one. The first which only happens in the Magic world. Nothing takes place in the real 'Muggle' world here. No Dursleys. And very funny at times too with the humour coming from performance and character for the most part rather than any 'let's do some funny' writing.
  15. SOL (2013) - overlong, very low budget first time director SF film which plays as a variant on the Lord of the Flies, Tunnel in the Sky theme. ie kids, alien environment, survival. Not good but I have seen far worse. It got points for trying and not tromping down the usual tried and trusted low budget movie routes.
  16. Galaxy Quest (1999) - much fun.
  17. Soapdish (1990) - star-studded Hollywood pastiche-lite of an Almodóvar film. Safe and predictable with a couple of nice moments (usually delivered by the vastly underrated Kevin Kline), but not a patch on the OTT originals.
  18. Star Pilot (aka 2+5 Mission Hydra 1966) - wonderfully unintelligible piece of Italian SF. A rewatch.
  19. Future Women (aka Rio 70, The Girl From Rio, The Seven Secrets of Sumuru - and god only knows what else - 1969) - A slightly less incoherent than usual Jesus Franco Bondesque spy nonsense set in Brazil and featuring actors you may have heard of - well, George Saunders. A rewatch.
  20. Eragon (2006) - see post
  21. The Inglorious Bastards (1978) - Over-long Italian war film in which hundreds of people run into machinegun fire for no real reason, a train is in two places at the same time, and Ian Bannen plays an American. Dull shite. Tarentino loved it but then Tarantino is a schmuck.
  22. Mini's First Time (2006) - rich sociopath teen seduces her step father. They murder her mother. She frames him. Apparently it was a comedy. I was so hooked I spent most of the show trying to work out in which films I had seen the various, very familiar looking locations before. Pretty sure (without checking) of the ones used in Battlestar Galactica and Galaxy Quest but some elude me.
  23. The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (2006) - a rewatch of a visually interesting but deathly slow film. I only fell asleep once this time of watching. I think it was three last time.
  24. Dracula 2001 (2001) - I spent so much of this film wanting to like it a lot more than I did. All the elements were there but somehow it just didn't gel. The references to other Dracula films didn't help. Reminding the audience of better films they could be watching is always a risky move.
  25. Trancers II (1992) - humourless straight to video sequel to the mildly amusing Trancers which I watched last month. I'll not bother looking for any of the other sequels (I was wrong before there were in fact five of them).

Abandoned in October:
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975) - there are lines, and this was well on the other side of too many them.
Infection: the Invasion Begins bloody awful, very amateur rehash of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers / Slither routine. You would have thought this story had been done so many times it was bombproof - but no, this time it was so ineptly done it was unbearable. This made It Came From Outer Space 2 my previous low-water benchmark (my mixed metaphor of the week) look REALLY good.


  1. Run, Lola, Run (1998) - oooh! I liked that. Simple. Fast. Funny. - and hasn't our heroine got a lovely bum?
  2. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) - sweet Studio Ghibli (how DO you pronounce that?) offering which is being remade as 'live action' movie as I type.
  3. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) - for the umpteenth time. This time with Number One Daughter, whose growing fascination with crappy movies I am more than happy to pander to.
  4. Through The Time Barrier (1960) - told you! Much hilarity my best moment was watching the hero roll up a large paper plan into a tube and realising he had just made an origami baseball bat.
  5. The Neanderthal Man (1953) another riff on the Jekyll and Hyde story. This time our misguided, potion-brewing scientist is convinced that 'primitive' ape men with their larger brains (including during his lecture, a diagram of the noggin of the discredited forgery Piltdown Man) were more intelligent than modern man. Laughed at by his peers, he conducts experiments on cats, a deaf mute Mexican servant girl, and finally himself. The cat turns into a Sabre Tooth Tiger, he turns into a rubber masked 'apeman' and the Mexican girl sort of didn't happen really. (Apparently his formula didn't take well on females.) Anyhow, murders, clearly implied rape, and other generic molestations ensue, gun-wielding posses shoot at everything that moves, visiting scientist Richard 'Rocky Jones' Crane doesn't fall in love with the deranged scientist's daughter OR his fiancée while getting top the bottom of things and everyone has a whale of a time delivering their lines in a variety of overwrought manners. It's almost as if the actors were playing some really weird game at times, trying to see who could out-do the others acting with them in the scene and seeing just how far they could take it before the director told them to stop. In the end the deranged scientist is attacked by a Sabre Tooth Tiger (accidentally made by the hero during his investigating from a spare cat) and shot by the posse - simultaneously! You don't see that very often. Unfortunately, weird acting moments aside, the film was a deadly bore. A very very long 78 minutes.
  6. Laputa: Castle in the Sky () - Studio Ghibli again. Some seriously nice eye candy going on in this one.
  7. Looper (2012) - I may be missing something here, or maybe I was expecting too much, but I thought this a pretty dull affair. The complexity I had been led to expect was just not that complex. I spent the whole movie thinking I had missed something obvious and I was going to have a - "Doh! Of Course! Why didn't I see that?" - hand-palm moment at the end but I didn't get one. Most 1950/60s SF short stories that deal with time travel are more convoluted. The whole move was based on a clunkily stupid premise anyway. Rather than have people timetravelled back to be shot by the hit men; why not shoot them as and when - then timetravel the bodies back to be disposed of? That way the guys in the future KNOW their victims are dead and don't have to spend their time constantly chasing down their own old hitmen and then throwing them into the past to be shot (or not) by their younger selves - with all the possible problems and uncertainties that follow. ('Because they wouldn't have a movie otherwise!' just doesn't cut it: the premise is just too stupid.) Why not timetravel the victims six feet under? Why not to a secure facility? Why to the middle of a cornfield where the murder has to take place in the open air where any passing local could see it? An open field, moreover, where there is always the possibility of the victim escaping. As the time travel machines also operate in space as well as time (the later version of the protagonist get thrown from France to America when he moves back into his own past) there's no given reason why the victims had to end up in the field - even if they did, for whatever unexplained reason have to materialise in that particular spot, did no one in this international, ruthless, time-travelling Mafia have the wit to buy this field and build a shed over the spot where the victims arrived? With a cage in it? And a motion detector strapped to a shotgun? Something a bit more foolproof than hoping the hitman arrives and does the job he's supposed to? What if the shooter gets a puncture on the way, or his alarm clock doesn't go off? Stupid premise. Stupid movie.

  1. Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (1884)- Studio Ghibli's Year Zero.
  2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) - Well that was pretty damn good!
  3. Despicable Me 2 (2013) - pretty meh sequel. I really liked the original but this felt like it had nowhere to go. The slapstick side-play of the minions saved it from being a bore but the central story was pretty limp and flopped about. Odd moments like the smallest kid screaming when her toy unicorn was in danger and her scream being so piercing it broke all the glass in the room looked as they were setting up a moment towards the end of the film where this amazing glass shattering scream would be a significant rescue moment. (All the glass jars containing the jams and jellies so laboriously set up being the other constituent.) But it never happened. Why was that screaming bit in there? Who knows. A little false start that led nowhere. The film felt full of moments like that. Half worked out. A couple of rewrites away from finished.
  4. Hotel Transylvania (2012) - A fun kid's film which played with the basic premise of all monsters that ever have been imagined are real, not nasty just misunderstood, and go for their holidays to a hotel run by Dracula. For a film plunging into the waters staked out as Tim Burton territory in most people's the makers did the adults in the audience the great favour by not ladling on the obvious movie references. Not perfect but I think it will stand rewatching.
  5. Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1978) - the usual Hong Kong chopsocky played for laughs. Which meant the comedy made Norman Wisdom look subtle, and was about as funny as applying pile ointment. The music was spectacularly dreadful.
  6. Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (1989) - rewatch of Alex Proyas' first, cheapest, and possibly best feature.
  7. Crocodile (2000) - a giant, sometimes rubber sometimes CGI, crocodile eats a bunch of annoying American kids on Easter Break - but not fast enough.
  8. Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (2002) - the same crocodile eats a load of bank robbers and other survivors of an aircrash, and a helicopter.
  9. Shark Attack (2000) - another Nu Image film (the same producers as last night's crocodile flicks) A real Scooby-Do plot with the obviously-the-villain-from-the-first-shot property developer using mutated sharks to scare away tourists and buy up the town - and he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for the meddling photogenic marine biologist and his pneumatic girlfriend. The third Nu Image film in two days all of them have included helicopters. I wonder if they're kinky for choppers in the Nu Image front office.
  10. Mistress of Atlantis (1932) - even in a tatty low quality transfer of the English language version (it was also shot in German and French versions simultaneously) this is an extraordinarily wonderful film. Wish I knew what it was that I love so much about it. For great periods nothing much happens, the story which really doesn't make much sense and could be written on the back of a stamp and the acting style is very very dated - but there is a wonderful dreamlike quality about the film that just captivates me every time I watch it. Wish I could find a decent DVD release.
  11. Meet the Robinsons (2007) - a rewatch with the kids.
  12. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) - for the umpteenth time. This time satisfying the curiosity of Number One Daughter. Her curiousity was so satisfied that we immediately watched the sequel:
  13. Return of the Killer Tomatoes (aka Big Breasted Women go to the Beach and Take Their Tops Off 1988) - One of the rare times when the sequel is far better than the original. Though, if I had remembered the sex shop scene, and our heroine offering to give the hero a blow job, I might have thought better of watching it with her. (That's what the ratings are for, you thicko!) Right. That's four rewatched movies in a row. My hoarding of all this old crap is justified for another couple of months. Back to the new crap....
  14. 13 Assassins (2010) - I get over my Takashi Miike aversion. (I got half way through his Visitor-Q a few years ago before ripping it out of the DVD player and swearing I'd never let any of his films stink up my eyeballs again - ever!) My policy of watching anything on the Artificial Eye label and then sticking my hand into the To Be Watched pile and pulling something out at random served me up 13 Assassins. I doubt if I will ever want to watch Visitor-Q again but this was a workmanlike samuri epic.
  15. 2019: After the fall of New York (1983) - Gods! I do love Italian post-apocalyptic movies. This one mashes up the usual clichés and then delivers an optimistic 'man setting out to the stars ending' which is not that common an idea in this sort of flick. Riding off into the sunset yes, that's been done often enough - but the sun in question is usually ours, not Alpha Centauri. So mad Mad Max pointy-car mayhem meets Escape From LA post-urban ultra-violence with a brief bit of Planet of the Apes weirdness in an abandoned theatre. As a cherry on the cake: a recycled prop from Barbarella!

    I am so easily pleased.
  16. Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) - The fourth film I've seen directed by John "Bud" Cardos and, true to the form of the previous three:(Night Shadows aka Mutant, The Day Time Stood Still, and Gor II aka Outlaw of Gor), the hero is a total failure. Cardos' heroes don't DO anything except the wrong thing - or nothing. In Night Shadows the hero gets his brother killed, is rescued by his girlfriend, and ends up trapped and whimpering, hiding from zombies before being rescued by a secondary character we had been led to believe was dead. In The Day Time Stood Still (a masterpiece of vagueness) the protagonists, three generations of an all-American family, do very little for the whole movie but react with bafflement to unexplained weirdness around them. In Gor II a vegetarian swordmaster on a barbarian world gets generally abused and screws things up till someone else kills the villain. In Kingdom of the Spiders the hero (played by the Mighty Shat) has already lost his brother, 'killed in 'nam', but makes up for it by failing to save his sister-in-law from killer spiders, has to be rescued from certain death by the 'lady scientist' love interest when he in turn is bitten, nearly electrocutes himself by almost emptying a water based fire-extinguisher into an electrical fuse box (luckily the fire-extinguisher was empty giving us a hero who even manages to fail to screw up!), and so on. In the end our all-American action hero has to convey with a few "Oh sweet Jesus!" lines that he has managed to trap the few remaining characters still alive and they are now all spider food. By the time the end credits roll everyone in this film has died - or is doomed to die. Cardos's films look like typical low budget action films of the day - I bet the trailers looked very typical - but there is a strange fatalism about them that undercuts the clichés.

    Often while watching a film you know that people wouldn't act
    in real life like the movie hero. There are conventions: good guys can shoot straight, bad guys couldn't hit the elephant they were sitting on with a bazooka. All American males know how to hot wire a car in an emergency and can ride motorbikes likeEvel Knievel. (One of the things that makes Rob Roy a much better film than Braveheart is that in Rob Roy the central character pisses off the English, then does what any real person would do: he hides. As it turns out it's not the BEST thing he could have done but it's real. In Braveheart William Wallace is just an American Action Hero in a skirt.) In Cardos' films you get the idea that he's playing with the conventions of low-budget genre fiction, casting hero figures to type, and then getting them to react to the situations they find themselves in as if it were real. I guess he was lucky that he could do that. It would be impossible now. Back in the seventies the heroes of movies weren't guaranteed to survive till the end credits: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Silent Running etc.and even mildly nerdish Richard Dreyfuss could be an action hero (Jaws). These days hero types in action films always survive and are always superhuman. (Quite often literally so.) Even the 'Everyday Joes' thrust into a situation outwith their normal everyday lives are played by pumped-up steroidal hunks.

    I need to see more of this guy's films.
  17. Flight to Mars (1951) - Daughter Number Two wanted 'a crappy movie' for Pizza Night. You don't get much crapper than this.
  18. Moon Zero Two (1969) - Daughter Number One wanted a crappy movie while the rest of the family watched some Christmas bilge. We couldn't find King Dinosaur which she had wanted to watch after my brief history of the space suits originally made for Destination Moon but turning up in all sorts of other crap films. She's already seen Cat Women of the Moon, Flight to Mars (which prompted the discussion) and Robot Monster - this was the only other one I thought I possessed. I couldn't find it. So we watched Moon Zero Two instead which, slightly disappointingly, turned out to be far better than I remembered it.
  19. Arthur Christmas (2011) - Sony Aardman kiddy Christmas film with amusing moments but it didn't quite do it for me like Pirates did. Something about the rhythm of the film; the beats were wrong.
  20. Spirited Away (2001) - my favourite Studio Ghibli (so far).
  21. Jennifer (1978) - a film which bears more than a passing resemblance to Carrie from two years earlier with nods toTourneur's classic Cat People in the swimming pools scenes. Misfit highschool girl with single, religiously driven parent is tormented to the point where she unleashes on her tormentors suppressed parapsychological powers (over rubber snakes). Not bad for a low budget knockoff. That one of the characters claimed to have slept with John Travolta, who had a small part in Carrie and had subsequently become a star, was a bit cheeky.
  22. Eaten Alive (1980) - Italian jungle cannibal nonsense which (according to people who know these things) was largely assembled from great chunks of other Italian cannibal films. I do know that the cover of my copy on the shoddy 23rd Century label:

    Eaten Alive 23rd Century by the_junk_monkey, on Flickr

    was assembled from at least one totally different movie in my collection:

    Amazonia - The Catherine Miles story cover by nirejhenge, on Flickr
Films I have watched this year but forgot to note down at the time (possibly due to brain damage inflicted by watching them):
Ninja Terminator
(see March)
Deathwalker II (1987) straight to video Sword and Sorcery 'Comedy' which polluted my phone for a while.

Previous Years' Lists: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Next Year's List: 2014
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There Are Not Seven Words In My Signature

Last edited by JunkMonkey; 12th Jan 2014 at 0:41.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 19:13   #3
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Default Re: Film Lists 2013

I'll make it to the 100 film mark this year, just you see.

Update, late November: I've not been able to update my list for a few weeks, so I've probably missed some. Anyway, clearly no chance of making it to 100 now

54. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
53. Sightseers
52. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
51. Kung-Fu Panda
50. Everything Must Go
49. A Field in England
48. The Crying Game
47. Bridget Jones's Diary
46. Carlito's Way Do we have a rating for 'I fell asleep'? (Not sure that was the film's fault. I was shattered and mildly tipsy.)
45. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
44. Inside Man
43. Horrible Bosses
42. Dead and Loving It
41. The American
40. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (no idea exactly where this sits in the list - watched it weeks and weeks ago but forgot to add)
39. Inland Empire
38. The Wave
37. Edward Scissorhands
36. The Seven Year Itch
35. The Host
34. Scott Pilgrim vs the World
33. The Social Network
32. Leaving Las Vegas
31. Moulin Rouge
30. A Cinderella Story
29. Django Unchained
28. The Inbetweeners Movie
27. Face/Off
26. Chocolat
25. Flashdance (the remake)
24. Happy-Go-Lucky (the Mike Leigh one)
23. Get Him to the Greek
22. Star Trek (2009)
21. Once Upon a Time in America
20. The Wolfman
19. Rounders
18. Mr Nice
17. Vertigo
16. Rosemary's Baby
15. Forrest Gump
14. Ghost
13. The Truman Show
12. Unstoppable
11. The Third Man
10. Tyrannosaur
9. Glorious 39
8. In Bruges
7. Moon
6. Robin Hood
5. The Hobbit
4. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
3. Batman: The Dark Knight Rises
2. St Elmo's Fire
1. Three Men and a Little Lady
Libraries gave us power.

Last edited by Lucoid; 5th Jan 2014 at 9:52.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 23:26   #4
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Location: England
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Default Re: Film Lists 2013

DVDs, videos, TV, cinema and LoveFilm:

102. Man of Steel - DVD Last of the year. Mr Crowe and Mr Costner were both a delight.
101. Monsters University - DVD ½
100. Before Sunrise - DVD
99. Gladiator - DVD
98. A Knight's Tale - DVD ½
97. Zero Dark Thirty - LF Disturbing.
96. Johnny English Reborn - DVD ½
95. Star Trek: Into Darkness - DVD
94. Iron Man 3 - DVD
93. X-Men: First Class - DVD
92. Dark Knight Rises - DVD
91. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - DVD ½
90. Ocean Waves - DVD
89. Ironclad - DVD ½
88. The Hunger Games - DVD
87. Music & Lyrics - DVD ½
86. Little Women - DVD
85. Lincoln - cinema
84. Australia - DVD ½ A weird favourite of certain of my family
83. Breaking Dawn Part Two - DVD
82. Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows Part Two - DVD
81. Harry Potter & Prisoner of Azkaban - DVD
80. Voyage of the Dawn Treader - DVD
79. Sister Act - DVD No year is complete without watching Sister Act.
78. Tangled - DVD ½ Rapidly becoming a favourite Disney
77. Ratatouille - DVD ½
76. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - LF
75. Pitch Perfect - LF Not bad teen movie, + the Cup Song.
74. Cloud Atlas - DVD Against expectation, I loved this to bits.
73. Argo - LF Did it deserve an Oscar above Lincoln? No way. Also falsified history majorly.
72. Henry IV Part One - DVD Tom Hiddleston being lovely
71. Richard II - DVD Ben Whishaw being perfect.
70. Avengers Assemble - DVD
69. The Great Gatsby (2013) - DVD Too noisy, not enough languidity.
68. Little Miss Sunshine - DVD
67. Slumdog Millionaire - DVD
66. It's A Wonderful Life - DVD
65. Elizabeth - DVD
64. Shakespeare in Love - DVD
63. Coriolanus - DVD
62. Interview with the Vampire - DVD
61. American Psycho - DVD
60. The Bodyguard - DVD
59. Open Range - DVD
58. Last of the Mohicans - DVD
57. Moulin Rouge - DVD
56. The Rocky Horror Picture Show - DVD
55. The Boyfriend - DVD
54. Mamma Mia! - DVD
53. Meet Me in St Louis -
52. Cabaret - DVD
51. Northanger Abbey - DVD
50. Persuasion - DVD
49. Emma - DVD
48. The Sound of Music - DVD ½
47. Oklahoma - DVD Poor old Jud. They had it in for him from the off.
46. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - DVD
45. Fiddler on the Roof - DVD
44. Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang - TV ½
43. The Go-Between - LF ½
42. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug - cinema Very good Legolas - that's enough to make me happy.
41. Gravity - cinema Spectacular
40. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - cinema So-so but the food looked yummy.
39. Carnage - LF Painful to watch.
38. Badlands - LF ½
37. Contagion - LF ½
36. igby goes down - LF ½
35. Despicable Me - LF
34. The Artist - LF
33. Looper - LF ½
32. Margin Call - LF ½
31. Snow White & the Huntsman - LF Meh.....
30. Beasts of the Southern Wild DVD
29. Anna Karenina - LF Despite the KK effect, brilliant production and direction.
28. Royal Hunt of the Sun - LF Bizarre film and compelling performance from Christopher Plummer.
27. Prometheus - LF ½ A sad waste, remaking with no continuity.
26. The Bishop's Wife - LF Cute old David Niven and Cary Grant
25. The Station Agent - LF ½
24. Silver Linings Playbook - LF
23. Maurice - LF
22. The Sorrow & the Pity - LF Max Ophuls' documentary on French collaborationism - very powerful.
21. In the Name of the Father - LF Why have I never watched this before? Stunning performances from DD-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite.
20. Rust & Bone - LF A strange oddity of a film.
19. To The Wonder - LF ½ Not as good as The Tree of Life; severe lack of dialogue.
18. Beautiful Creatures - LF Rarely do I turn off a film. This didn't make the grade.
17. Hunky Dory - DVD ½ Superb little 70's vehicle with cute songs and acting
16. Django Unchained - LF ½
15. Quartet - LF Another powerful weepy about older age.
14. Oz the Great & Powerful - LF ½ A missed opportunity.
13. Song for Marion - LF A really weepy, esp. if your mum who died a year ago was called Marion
12. Life of Pi - DVD
11. The Last Temptation of Christ - LF
10. The Cabin in the Woods - LF
9. Moon - LF Sam Rockwell looking like Dean Stockwell; moving, quiet, thoughtful film. And loved the Chesney Hawkes tribute.
8. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs - DVD Lots of fun in underrated cartoon - the Sept '13 sequel looks cool too!
7. The Amazing Spider-Man - LF ½ Garfield makes a good PP, but the plot was insufficient.
6. Les Miserables - cinema
5. The Great Gatsby - video Oh Sam Waterston, you lovely man...
4. Robin Hood - (2010) - TV ½
3. The Golden Compass - TV
2. The Princess & the Frog - TV
1. Beginnners - DVD
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
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Old 31st Dec 2012, 7:54   #5
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Location: Poland
Posts: 1,300
Default Re: Film Lists 2013

1. Labirynth (1986, dir. Jim Henson) -
2. Dirty Pretty Things (2002, dir. Stephen Frears) -
3. Kontroll (2003, dir. Nimród Antal) -
4. Something with a dragon in the title (I'll try and edit )-
5. aka Antitrust (2001, dir. Peter Howitt) -
6. Capricious Summer
(1968, dir. Jiř* Menzel) -

Last edited by m.; 23rd Jan 2013 at 15:31.
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Old 31st Dec 2012, 12:17   #6
ono no komachi
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Default Re: Film Lists 2013

1. Moneyball

Last edited by ono no komachi; 7th Jan 2013 at 13:30.
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Old 3rd Jan 2013, 17:38   #7
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Location: South Orange, New Jersey, USA
Posts: 259
Default Re: Film Lists 2013

6. The Grey (2011; d. Joe Carnahan)
5. Zero Dark Thirty (2012; d. Ca
4. The Queen of Versailles (2012; d. Lauren Greenfield)
3. Aliens (1986; d. James Cameron)
2. Rope (1948; d. Alfred Hitchcock)
1. Vertigo (1958; d. Alfred Hitchcock)
The Mookse and the Gripes |

Last edited by Mookse; 23rd Jan 2013 at 23:13.
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Old 4th Jan 2013, 6:30   #8
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Location: Illinois
Posts: 2,854
Default Re: Film Lists 2013

1. Lincoln
2. A Separation
3. Amélie ...much better the second time
4. How to Train Your Dragon -
5. Rebecca - first time I saw this, it left me cold. This time I was so caught up in how good Joan Fontaine is, how wonderful the lighting, how menacing the "do it" scene with Mrs Danvers. I can still see Rebecca and she's not even there.
6. Hello Dolly - always
7. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring (2003)
8. Foreign Correspondent (1940)
9. Double Indemnity (1944)
10. Caché
11. Footnote
12. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
13. The Passion of Ayn Rand
14. The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) don't know when I've laughed so well. Wait, that would be last month's The Incredible Shrinking Man...
15. Friendly Persuasion and Gary Cooper shirtless to boot.
16. Sergeant York for the umpteenth time. on a Saturday night. with my mother.
17. The Libeled Lady (1936)
18. Brave -
19. Searching for Sugar Man - Five Red Stars, best thing all year!
20. Citizen Kane finally. I think The Third Man is much finer.
21. The Guilt Trip -
22. A Late Quartet -
23. The Call -
24. The Station Agent -
25. Casino Royale -
26. Cactus Flower
27. Schindler's List
28. Rust and Bone -
29. Hysteria
30. Love and Other Drugs
31. Butterfield 8 sooo dated, a remake would be nice
32. Farewell, My Queen
33. The Bridge on the River Kwai
34. Badlands

Last edited by Beth; 10th Nov 2013 at 16:48.
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Old 6th Jan 2013, 18:35   #9
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Location: UK
Posts: 3,199
Default Re: Film Lists 2013

Great Expectations
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Kill Bill
Star Trek Into the Darkness
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008=post 80611

Last edited by Ang; 18th May 2013 at 22:59.
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 19:11   #10
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Location: Ireland
Posts: 418
Default Re: Film Lists 2013

1. War Horse - - Spielberg in child-friendly Saving Private Ryan mode. It's a tad overblown and somewhat unbelievable (though that might come from the source novel which I haven't read).

2. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift - 0 - More of the same from the Ice Age team. Even the addition of new characters cannot save this dying franchise, though Peter Dinklage's monkey pirate was mildly amusing

3. The Amazing Spider-Man - - Overlong and unnecessary reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. Andrew Garfield is good as Peter Parker though there's far too much CGI super-hero/super-villain bashing each other for my liking

4. Haywire - - Rather nifty action movie from Steven Soderbergh. Short on dialogue it features some terrific action sequences. As an Irishman it was a real pleasure to see Dublin being used as a location for one of those sequences. A top-notch cast includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas but the real star of the show is Gina Carano.

6. Killing Them Softly - - Andrew Dominik's third film after Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a brilliantly gritty and talky crime drama featuring Brad Pitt on top form as a hit man brought in to deal with the aftermath of a card game that has been done over.

7. The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town - - Fascinating documentary about the making of one of Springsteen's best album. Some great archive footage and a real surprise to me that Springsteen wrote about 70 songs that he whittled down to the 10 that appeared on the final album.

8. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - - Entertaining action movie featuring a really impressive sequence set in the world's tallest building. The plot doesn't make much sense, but who cares?

9. Batman Begins - - Christopher Nolan's first Batman movie stands up very well indeed. Suitably dark and less comic-booky than its Marvel counterparts. Really enjoyable.

10. Unknown - - Liam Neeson in a sub Hitchockian film that lifts directly from The Bourne Identity and Total Recall. Crap really.

11. Killer Joe - - Matthew McConaghey gives the performance of his life in William Friedkin's gripping Southern Noir.

12. The Hobbit - - Waaay too long and too derivative of the LotR movies that preceded it. Jackson is flogging a dead horse here.

13. The Mask of Zorro - - Hugely entertaining swashbuckling romp with Antonio Banderas

14. 17 Again - - Enjoyable comedy with Zac Effron going back to school as a younger version of Matthew Perry. Liked this far more than I thought I would

15. The Expendables - - Could only manage 40 mins of this before switching channels (and I like Jason Statham).

16. Dredd -

17. Paranorman -

18. Looper -

19. What Richard Did -

20. The Fighter -
Currently reading: Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

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