Peter Collinson directs Michael Caine, Noël Coward and Benny Hill in this classic British crime caper comedy where a group of cockney faces steal millions of gold bullion and escape Turin in Mini Coopers.
The best ending ever. A favourite of mine for Caine’s hyper relaxed performance, the fashions, the energy and the colour. So sweet and innocent that it could be My First Crime Movie for the kids. Now, I know deep in my heart that it isn’t perfect. It pretty much is a sexist old Brexiteer’s wet dream fantasy and whoever thought the annoying Arthur character needed quite so many lines deserves shooting. But it is so comfy, so fun and so of its very iconic moment in time that luxuriating in it is like taking a 90 minute long bubble bath that keeps its temperature and all its foamy goodness. Sometimes that’s all you really want from a movie, a bit of warmth and relaxation. Who cares about the wrinkles, hey? “Camp Freddie, everybody in the *world* is bent!”
Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin direct Tina Turner, Ike Turner and Roger Davies in this celebration of Tina’s career and life.
OK… so the LA ‘92 filmmakers were unlikely to submit a corporate puff piece but this does seem to focus on Ike’s abuse and the media’s vampiric fascination with it just a little too often. Her sad upbringing and then exploitation by her violent husband means this a struggle to enjoy at times as an entertainment. I wouldn’t personally cut any of the content… just maybe add 15 more minutes so we can enjoy the music and Thunderdome just a smidge more. Her hardwork to reinvent herself in the Eighties and forge an unparalleled solo career is the highlight. It is also the period where she seems to have the most fun, you can relax into the stories behind the hits and her manager Roger Davies shines. A quiet, smart man – he is a testament that not everyone in the music industry is a leech and sometimes the suits are valuable for more than funding or logistics. I’d love to have seen a still game and joyfully unguarded Tina share a little on screen reunion with her sweet and sensitive business partner. As a preemptive official eulogy to her career, Lindsay & Martin employ all the current documentary techniques with a classy prestige. Makes you want to dig out her greatest hits, so mission accomplished.
Alex Proyas directs Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson and Michael Wincott in this comic book revenger where a rocker comes back from the dead on Devil’s Night hunting those who killed him and his bride to be.
I know this movie means a lot to people my age but it left me cold as a teen. I could too readily see the scars where they ‘officially’ transplanted shots and added in body doubles after Brandon Lee’s fatal on-set accident. Watching it in high definition for the first time, I’m pretty sure now there’s three or four further sequences where a stuntman (future John Wick director Chad Stahelski) gives the performance and they just cut around lighting or showing his face. The ghoulish magic trick to resurrect the star and complete the project takes me out of the experience too much. And not to speak ill of the dead, Lee’s performance is all over the shop and rarely showcases his martial arts prowess. Eric Draven’s afterlife persona is like The Joker gone goth, prankster and menace, not particularly likeable or consistent. The world vision is a X rated Batman 1989 on a budget (or a rough early sketch of Se7en rainy dystopia) and the miniature work to achieve this is pretty whack. It is an admirable try at doing a dirty big visual piece of world building for pennies on the dollar but Proyas falls sadly short. The one element the movie gets right, in my book, is the villains. They are pretty interchangeable nihilist scumbags but at least the casting is spot on. Any movie with Wincott, David Patrick Kelly and Michael Massee getting screen time is usually very much my jam. Shame they are weighed down by such grim tragedy in both the general mood and production history. Sad. I struggle to see how anyone fully concentrating on it gets much joy out of The Crow.
Ridley Scott directs Tom Cruise, Mia Sara and Tim Curry in this fantasy romance where Darkness wants the last unicorn dead and the innocent princess who can attract it for his evil bride.
Ridley the visualist matches his work on Alien and Blade Runner here. The production design by Assheton Gorton is a wonder to behold; a cornucopia of scale, dry ice and… yep… glitter. Sadly Ridley the storyteller is at his most indulgent. How can an 85 minute movie seem so long and so lifeless? I’ve tried to get into Legend a fair few times. Assuming at some point the tumblers will click into place and it will open itself up to me. But it is a shallow experience, too dark for children and too whimsical for adults. Tim Curry’s magnificent Darkness is the best thing here but his maliciously beautiful turn is surrounded by hollowness. He and Rob Bottin should take a bow for the deliciously monstrous creation they conjured, who is sadly left waiting in the wings while teens mope and elves frolic for two thirds of the dawdle time. How can you squander such an iconic villain? There is also a sumptuous fantasy dance number near the end but it is swiftly scraped from the memory by some wimpy late in the day adventure that follows it. Legend will always be more infamous for its various cuts (you are never quite sure what length or score or variation on Darkness you are going to get until you turn the telly on) and for its waste of a young Tom Cruise… merely one volleyball game away from mega stardom.
Robert Wiene directs Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina and Fritz Kortner in this silent horror where an injured pianist is given an emergency transplant but then discovers that his new hands used to belong to a murderer.
Starts out all action. The chaos and carnage of a train wreckage. This is a really pacy atmospheric sequence. The more traditional horror that follows is creepy but a little creaky. Certain sequences are given a little too much rope for very little reward. But again, if I had the opportunity to watch this on the big screen with no distractions the score might be higher.
Stephen Sommers directs Treat Williams, Famke Janssen and Kevin J. O’Conner in this monster action comedy where a cruise liner’s passenger list has been devoured by a sea monster and only some pirates, a thief and the owner are left to escape the ship.
A R rated wet run for The Mummy. A mash up of Die Hard and The Poseidon Adventure and Aliens. A vast roster of C-list ‘that guy’s who you can pretty much guess what order they’ll get ate up in… apart from the first two. A wisecracking Shaggy from Scooby Doo take that is simultaneously annoying and likeable from O’Conner. An excuse for peak Famke Janssen to wear both a stunning red evening dress and a wet t-shirt. When the muscleheads bicker she steps just outta shot to change up her look. Nineties teen beauty Claire Forlani was originally cast as master thief Trillian St. James but walked from the set… And I think that worked out for the best in the long run. Some really cheap ass CGI that is used quickly enough that you don’t mind it. A literal boatload of sticky gore including a half digested man popping back to say his last words. A jet ski outracing tentacles and an explosion through the corridors finale. A fun little joke joke cliffhanger. Neither as fantastic as it sounds or as terrible as it could have been, Deep Rising is a perfectly average no-brainer beer and pizza movie. They don’t make em like this anymore. Shame that.
Vernon Sewell directs Derren Nesbitt, Colin Gordon and Ann Lynn in this British thriller about three bank robbers who lock the manager and cashier in the safe over a long weekend and realise they must break them out before they suffocate.
Quentin Tarantino loves it. The Radio Times Guide gave it one miserable star. It is a cracking little procedural. Character and atmosphere give way to process and fate. Featuring lead performances from two of The Prisoner’s more memorable Number Twos.
Edmund Goulding directs Joan Crawford, John Barrymore and Greta Garbo in this Oscar winning drama about the residents of a luxurious hotel in Berlin.
Took me a little while to synch up with this. Lionel Barrymore’s overly ingratiating clerk on a big blow out was very off putting in the first act. Eventually though he gels with the other more worldly characters and we get to watch Joan Crawford’s leggy but sweet stenographer lower her standards, John Barrymore as the world’s most inept “hotel thief” and Garbo iconically wanting to be alone. Star power wins you over. Yes, Grand Hotel is dated but still feels pretty daring in its ‘pre-code’ content. The production design is incredible, a vista of chequers and balconies. I’d stay there.
J. J. Abrams directs Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney and Kyle Chandler in this Amblin sci-fi adventure where a smalltown in the Seventies becomes embroiled with an escaped alien cover-up and only the nerdy kids know the truth.
Not the blast I remember. Still mostly fun but a bit too studied. Abrams gets his Spielberg homage pitch perfect when dousing the wonder in mystical light or busying the screen with a small town in cutesy distracted chaos. The middle act through is too heavy and too sentimental. Aside from Fanning, the supporting kids lack personality and are pretty interchangeable. These aren’t the well defined and popping personalities of The Goonies or even Stranger Things. The best moments really are the making and final presentation of the Z grade horror movie the gang were distracted from by all these train crashes, tanks, choppers and close encounters. Felt a little baggy and underwhelming on a second watch even if it is a very well crafted blockbuster.
Herbert Ross directs Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and John Lithgow in this teen rebellion dance flick where a small town has banned dancing but the new boy has got the moves.
Does exactly what it says on the tin. If you are an MTV kid this is a half a dozen music videos to pop hits masquerading as set pieces. If you are looking for nostalgic cheese, this gets the balance just about right. Lori Singer can’t act. Chris Penn really, really can’t dance. Glitter performs a military coup in the final minutes. It is no Rebel Without a Cause even if it doggedly follows the steps if not the emotions. It ain’t even a Tuff Turf. But its heart is in the right place and most of the cast deservedly moved up onto better roles.