Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

David Miller directs Kirk Douglas, Walter Matthau and Gena Rowlands in this modern Western where an independent cowboy finds himself on the run and at odds with the system.

Jack Burns is asleep in the wilderness. He is breaking in a new horse, Whisky, who still does not like the saddle, needs his legs shackled overnight. They head into town, two gentle rebels. En route Jack’s path is obstructed by a new fence and a busy road -the latter Whisky doesn’t want to navigate. Jack (a resplendent Kirk Douglas in maybe his best role) finds himself constantly butting against the new America, trying to cage him in. It’s lack of freedoms that used to define it, it’s attitude to grind out non-conformity and heart. Eventually Whisky and he are on the run. Pursued by sheriffs, helicopters and the future. Thrilling action, fine acting and a nice Dalton Trumbo scripted message about the Land of the Free. Would make a fine double bill with Junior Bonner.

9

Sorry We Missed You (2019)

Ken Loach directs Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood and Rhys Stone in this drama following a delivery driver trying to hold is family together after he signs a contract that affords him very few rights.

A lacerating attack on the realities of the gig economy. This had me on the verge of tears at times. I know what is presented is the worst case scenario; extreme bad luck, heartless boss and family drama… but that is why the safety net of rights exist, of legally prescribed maximum hours, worker’s directives and statutory sick pay. For middle class people, they’ll watch this and think “Something should be done…”, for working class people they’ll recognise a nightmare situation that feels like something that could be more and more prevalent over the coming years. “Something should be done…” and that will be that for most people. The Bicycle Thieves for the 21st Century.

8

Anaconda (1997)

Luis Llosa directs Jennifer Lopez, Jon Voigt and Ice Cube in this adventure thriller where a documentary crew in South America are hunted down by a giant snake.

Never boring, never good. It hurtles between adequate and awful like a kid with a dead leg doing a bleep test. Sometimes the snake convinces, most times it does not. Sometimes Jon Voigt’s ACCENTED baddie if cheesy value, most times it is a once great actor pulling a weird face. And yet behind Out Sight, Hustlers and The Cell this somehow houses J-Lo’s fourth best performance.

4

Criminal Lovers (1999)

François Ozon directs Natacha Régnier, Jeremy Réniér and Miki Manojlović in this teen “lovers on the run” flick.

What starts out as a thrill kill turns into a very Grimm fairy tale. Lust turns into inadequacy and revelation. A crime spirals into increasingly nightmarish repercussions. You don’t massively care about the characters but the journey is unpredictable enough that you stay invested.

5

Turbulence (1997)

Robert Butler directs Ray Liotta, Lauren Holly and Rachel Ticotin in this bonkers airplane disaster thriller.

This was advertised on the back cover of every comic book I bought when I was 18. A terrible film full of ropey effects, uncertain storytelling and a terrible lead protagonist. Was the wooden Lauren Holly, our flight attendant turned John McClane, ever truly anyone’s idea of the next big thing? Sharon Stone or even Cameron Diaz would have smashed this role. But… but… ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** Ray Liotta absolutely rocks in this. A lizard of gurning mania, he spends the final hour out hamming Gary Oldman, out zany-ing Nicolas Cage and out fucking the frame more than Jack Nicholson at their collective best / delicious worst. And the best thing about his off-the-wall nutso? You spend the first act teased and tossed whether he is going to be the good guy or Ted Bundy. Rope-a-dope! Ted Bundy, it is. Bundy on a Plane. That was the pitch. That’s what we get. Every moment with Ray is sublime, everything else gloss trash. Saturday night sorted. As good as a really bad film gets.

6

The Beast Within (1981)

Philippe Moura directs Paul Clemens, Bibi Besch and Ronny Cox in this stale horror where a woman is raped by a bugman and 18 years later her son bugs out.

Starts with a sexual assault, ends with a sexual assault, fills a clumsy middle with wasted support actors and a meh transformation effect. Very poor, hard to justify.

2

The Seventh Continent (1989)

Michael Haneke directs Dieter Berber, Birgit Doll and Leni Tanzer in this experimental film that explores the true story of a family who abandoned modern life in a cold, incomprehensible way.

A provocative arthouse hit, not for faint hearts or those averse to cinematic risk. The first act avoids showing the leads’ faces almost entirely. We get to know them by their routines and product consumption. A lot of the way through the movie has the look of a dated school textbook. By the last act, as they are tragically checking out of a dehumanising modern grind, you’ll need nerves of steel. It is a truly affecting, gut wrenching denouement. Not anyone’s sane choice for a Friday night entertainment but even more powerful than some of Haneke’s more celebrated big name actor hits.

7

Hour of the Gun (1967)

John Sturges directs James Garner, Jason Robards and Robert Ryan in this Western drama following the legal fallout from the O.K. Corral gunfight.

Straight laced and straight faced cowboy realness. Not exactly exhilarating or memorable despite a few tense stand-offs. Garner plays against type, does well, but I prefer him with that mischievous sparkle.

5

Movie of the Week: Ms .45 (1981)

Abel Ferrara directs Zoë Lund, Steven Singer and Jack Thibeau in the New York vigilante flick where a mute Garment District worker takes to the streets to hunt male beasts after she endures two rapes in one mind-shattering day.

A rape revenge exploitation movie that has aged like fine wine. All men are scum, the worst transgressors are hunted down but the others can justifiably picked off in a spree. Valerie Solanas would buy popcorn. This feels more of our time, more sensitive and more stylish now than it probably ever did back then. Lund is an appealing and unfussy lead even when deranged. The guerrilla Manhattan location work produces some fantastic frames, every street scene is brimming with life. And for a slice of cheapo nasty it is pretty on point when detailing the daily, relentless objectification and demeaning behaviour that women go through. The violence is gleefully transgressive, the ironic white man funk soundtrack thumps and the last shot is a killer punchline. Side note: Every poster for this is epic.

9

And one extra special mention for this one-sheet that I tried and utterly failed to steal from a bus stop as a teenager

Midway (2019)

Roland Emmerich directs Ed Skrein, Woody Harrelson and Patrick Wilson in this WWII epic following the US Navy’s recovery after Pearl Harbour through to their successful retaliation in the Pacific.

Fourth choice actors (Woody and Luke Evans aside) avoid getting in the way of the heartless polygon carnage. A film so flat, so devoid of spark, you wonder if it is the first AI directed film? China chipped in on the budget so we get their personalised China-set subplot sticking out like a sore thumb on a gangrenous foot. Emmerich has done better work, the veterans deserve better, you want the Japanese to win a long ago settled war. Mandy Moore looks nice in a period dress, attracting those heartland, God fearing dollars.

3