James Foley directs Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon and William Petersen in this yuppie in peril thriller; here the family unit is threatened by an unusually nasty boyfriend their teenage daughter unwittingly brings home.
Like a key scene where RW❤️MW on a rollercoaster, this is a lot of awkward build-up, loads of bad choices at the peak and then we are thundering through a squidgy bloody fumble that is invasive and rushed. Marky Mark is better doing his fake little boy lost conwork than when convincing us he’s a full on psycho. Witherspoon and Petersen both struggle with characters who continually choose secret option: awful. The shockingly full on home invasion finale has multiple characters swap from cowardly to heroic to comatose within single scenes. As a teen Fatal Attraction or a slick Straw Dogs, it fills an evening. The cheesiest moments should become iconic if they aren’t considered as such already. Finger bang. Chest thump. Homemade tattoo. Dog’s head. Window toss. That doesn’t mean you should queue up and ride it again.
Daniel Kokotjlo directs Molly Wright, Siobhan Finneran and Sacha Parkinson in this British drama where a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses have their faith tested when both daughters come-of-age.
An immersive drama. You feel like you are taking a convincing peek into a subset of society you only see on high street corners and underpasses. The acting is attractive and uniformly convincing, especially after a couple of brave narrative choices. The cinematography by Adam Scarth is evocative without being particularly fussy. Not my cup of tea but faultless.
Phil Alden Robinson directs Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix in this caper movie where a bunch of outsiders who test corporations’ security vulnerabilities are forced to steal a MacGuffin.
Hacking. Encryption. Surveillance. The first Brian De Palma Mission: Impossible owes this a sizeable debt. Though here the tone is kept breezily light. It is a nimble ensemble piece that fleet footed skips between comedy and conspiracy without ever wobbling into being too broad or too heavy. I watched this at the cinema as a young kid and it is family friendly only in that it is admirably bloodless and tells its shaggy tale with a clarity lacking from far superior films. I’ll probably be a pensioner next time I revisit it and I’ll gain just as much simple pleasures from it as pre-teen me did and middle aged me has.
Éric Rohmer directs Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle and Pascal Greggory in this romantic comedy where two cousins, both on separate cusps of coming-of-age, go on holiday together.
The punchline is fifteen year old Pauline knows what she wants (and what she doesn’t want) more than the adults plotting their affairs and romantic intrigues. Or it might just be an excuse to ogle a teenager and a model in swimsuits for 90 minutes?
Peter Berg directs Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke and Iliza Shlesinger in this action comedy where a disgraced ex-cop, recently released from jail, solves a crime.
Burger King – The Movie! Has everything greasy and satisfyingly disposable you want, just not as good as Five Guys, ShakeShack or even Wahlburgers! The action has crunch, the plot is undemanding and warmed over, Alan Arkin and especially foul mouthed romantic interest Shlesinger land easy, saucy giggles. I almost stopped looking at my phone and gave this my full attention for a while.
Frank Pavich directs Alejandro Jodorowsky, H.R. Giger and Charles Foss in this documentary about the Chilean cult director’s failed big budget attempt to make Frank Herbert’s Dune in the 1970s.
I’m a massive fan of lost films. John Carpenter’s Shadow Company. Nicolas Cage’s Superman Lives. Richard Stanley’s Island of Doctor Moreau. The Tourist. David Hughes’ brilliant book The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made is a fantastic read if you are curious about this ephemeral corner of cinema history. This documentary is a solid teaser for one such folly that never got before cameras, it certainly sounds ambitious but I highly doubt we would have actually sat through a nine hour classic if things went to plan. More noteworthy is just how many of the visual ideas and working relationships forged went on to influence modern blockbuster cinema. And it is always fun remembering H.R. Giger sounded exactly how you’d imagine the Alien would talk if he called you up for a chat on the phone.
Otto Preminger directs Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons and Mona Freeman in this film noir based on the true story of a rich girl who leads a restless driver into a murderous plot.
Starts strong but then makes the tragic mistake of moving Mitchum and Simmons into the background for the third act courtroom showdown. Still, the final reel has a shock in store for you… and Preminger ensures there is a constant creepiness to even the most arbitrary moments. At its very best though when it is two sexy stars just hanging out together.
Steven Spielberg directs Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law and Frances O’Conner in this sci-fi drama where a human looking robot boy is programmed to love and then abandoned into a world of unemployment, abuse, exploitation and resentment.
A damning assessment of humanity hidden in a fairytale rollercoaster ride. I know it has its detractors. I know the weird mix of emotive longing and shifting creepiness and theoretical musing and contactless sex and millennia spanning twists throw many people. But for me this Spielberg’s richest work, marrying his spectacular showman instincts with his more heartfelt intellectual grown-up leanings. You can have larks picking out what came from Stanley Kubrick’s extensive pre-production work but this plays like peak but disillusioned Amblin to me. The family friendly childhood fantasy melders grown up and sophisticated. The filmmakers have created a work with so many smart parallels, hidden portents and moments of smooth visual dialogue you cannot help but be overwhelmed. Every time I get lost in A.I., I’m amazed by the pinnacle excellence of the world building and the bold shifts in storytelling. It is an unparalleled production. This is hard sci-fi… exploring big questions so that if you were thrown by the talking teddy or child actor protagonist (or hyper evolved singularity robots from the future who happen to look like aliens) that shows up your own prejudices rather than any deficits in the final product. This is one of the most rigorously intelligent, open ended pieces of blockbuster filmmaking ever realised. The entirety interrogates the idea of what it is to be human, to dream, to create and exploit other intelligences for our own base wants. It is a film that ends with a relic of humanity selfishly creating his own A.I. automaton to fulfil his imprinted needs and desires… There’s never been a bleaker, saccharine happy ending. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the world.”
Steve McQueen directs Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Micheal Ward and Shaniqua Okwok in this teen romance where a group of young black immigrants meet up for a West London house party.
The music and period costumes are marvellous. Captures the lurches and euphoria of staying out all night pretty accurately. It can feel pretty stretched out and slight at times… there are two particular moments that shift from being heart racing to patience testing. But if McQueen’s intention was to catch the ephemeral feeling of an all nighter and the rush of initial attraction then he has managed it handsomely. At its best when the principals get absorbed behind the lost-in-the-moment faces of the extras with no plot lines at all.