Terence Young directs Sean Connery, Robert Shaw and Daniela Bianchi in this OO7 thriller where Bond is pulled into a triple cross involving an unwitting yet sexy Soviet defector.
The Bond movie with the most old school spy craft. One of the most romantic Bonds. Exoticism… gypsy fights and continental train journeys. That gripping final act – an extended face off between Connery and a winning Shaw – is the closest the series gets to pure Hitchcock. Every elements chimes here. It is a more relaxed adventure, the formula is not quite set yet… and all the better for it. Looked glorious on the big screen too.
Keith Thomas directs Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Michael Greyeyes in this Stephen King adaptation where a little girl with the psychic ability to create fire is chased by a shadowy organisation.
Nobody remembers the Drew Barrymore original. This is a solid rehash with some neat spikes of burnt to a crisp gore. Not quite full fat horror but nasty when it counts. The world is tactile, dateless. The first and last act has an appropriate degree of urgency. Michael Greyeyes is always fine value. Killed a Sunday afternoon and I had minimal quibbles.
Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert directs Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Qua in this loopy action comedy where a put upon laundry owner can absorb the skills and lives of her alternate selfs – a new power she’ll have to utilise to save the universe, her family and finish her taxes.
I can see why this is so beloved but it does mistake density for sophistication. Not every wacky “other” world needs to be seen through to completion, as it indulgently makes the leeengthy ending patience stretching rather than bow tying. Having said that, it is always admirable to see a film so brimming with ideas – many are affectionately borrowed from other films – who would have expected Pixar and Wong Kar-wai spoofs to nestle so neatly together, Kubrick is also frequently referenced. If you like Douglas Adams then he also is a key influence. Yet it works best as a silly martial arts comedy. A resplendent Yeoh has still got the chops… and it is so so lovely to see Ke Huy Qua back on the big screen, and in such a warm, fun role. He goes at it full pelt, bless his heart, everyone does. I couldn’t stop smiling like a goon at nearly every moment and line he lands.
Perfect Double Bill: Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Kiyoshi Kurosawa directs Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyōko Koizumi and Yū Koyanagi in this Japanese drama where a family falls apart after their ‘salary man’ father hides his unemployment, just one of the secret lives they all start leading.
Not quite as magical as one of Kurosawa’s grounded but eerie horror flicks but hits many of the same notes. Most of the best moments are in the first half, certain subplots do go off the rails a little… Mum’s story in particular.
Rebecca Hall directs Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga and André Holland in this period drama set during the Harlem Renaissance following the reunion of two light skinned African American women who can “pass” for white.
Anyone who watched the TV adaptation of Preacher will know Ruth Negga has a charm and an intensity that lights up the screen. This is the best showcase for her yet as a devil may care agent of chaos on Tessa Thompson’s more formal, staid, “worthy” lifestyle. The movie can be a little Brechtian at times, feeling like a series of short plays, very fixed and almost deadpan. But the emotions hidden behind that enforced flatness bubble away alluringly. Eduard Grau’s cinematography is sumptuous and painterly, like a photo being developed but not yet fully fixed.
Nicholas Meyer directs William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalbán in this space adventure where a villain from the Enterprise’s past declares a vendetta on Kirk and Star Fleet.
An iconic antagonist, a thrilling game of cat and mouse in a nebula, the shock ending and those nightmare inducing, mind bending ear worms mean this often is many people’s favourite entry of the franchise. The lowered budget sometimes shows things up though. Shatner smugly telling us “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.” is one of my favourite Trek moments. James Tiberius is fucking awesome – middle aged Kirk is second only to Chris Pine Kirk.
Perfect Double Bill: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)
Tony Scott directs Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis and Anthony Edwards in this war movie where the best jet fighter pilots in America train for high speed combat.
That epic synth soundtrack (Faltermeyer / Berlin / Loggins) . The Cruiser becoming an A-Lister right in front of our very eyes. The golden shimmering sheen Scott sells every image with. Flippin’ the bird. Sweaty topless beach volleyball. Goose’s death. That Lovin’ Feelin’. Every winning, glorious chunk chimes still as shameless image entertainment. Only the dogfights feel a bit underwhelming on the small screen. The romance has a jerky, undercooked nature that actually gives Cruise and McGillis space to breathe. Every thread of this feels hashed out and cobbled together, like they made the story up as they went along. The only overriding factors that unify it all are the constant homoeroticism (a man could drive himself crazy figuring out just how intentional that is) and Cruise’s coming of age as an eternal shining movie star he is and always will be. Turn your brain off and just enjoy.
Adrian Lyne directs Diane Lane, Olivier Martinez and Richard Gere in this erotic thriller where a happy housewife starts an affair with a mysterious French book dealer.
In the opening sequence, Lane is buffeted by a gale on a New York back street. The wind exposes her legs, tightens her immaculate clothing to her body. It is like Lyne is a naughty giant blowing her garments astray to give us a teasing show. The star looks classy and resplendent throughout, constantly generating heat. Lyne doesn’t even bother to gift us any notable nudity until at least an hour in, long past the first few trysts. Then the movie goes off the rails with a murder. Neither male lead matches Lane’s appeal, Martinez especially is just a pretty face. The dour final act has minimal grip and little opportunity for Lane to wear and then not wear a stunning outfit. Lacklustre after a promising start.
Pier Paolo Pasolini directs Lello Bersani, Alberto Moravia and Cesare Musatti in this documentary collating the vox pop interviews of the people of Italy on the subject of sex.
Not particularly mind blowing stuff but some of the members of the public have a nice energy about them. It does feel that Pasolini is often trying to categorise certain attitudes that don’t always come across in the actual opinions expressed. He makes a point of interviewing big groups in public, meaning a certain herd-like mentality dominates the interviews. But he is making another valid point by doing exactly that. Becomes overly repetitive.
Perfect Double Bill:This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
Nick Moore directs Emma Roberts, Alex Pettyfer and Juno Temple in this fish-out-of-water kids comedy where a spoilt American rich girl is shipped off to an English boarding school.
Very scrappy, and I’m aware I’m not the target demographic. This will keep a 10 year old girl entertained but even they will want even more scenes where Emma Roberts calls someone a “Bi-Atch!” Thus completely owning them. I know I did. Fuck the true meaning of friendship!