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.
Stanley Kramer directs Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly in this courtroom drama based on a real 1925 cause célèbre where a Tennessee school teacher was put on trial for teaching evolutionary theory.
A bit overwhelmingly theatrical – pompous, didactic and with zero adherence to courtroom procedure. Everyone is going at it at 11 and their prosaic reasoning lacks erudite impact. Gene Kelly steals the show as the serpentine journalist who somehow finds himself on the side of good. You can’t really knock something this well made, superbly cast and that wears its liberal bleeding heart on its sleeve… but it would be nice if Spencer Tracy’s lawyer palpably won a few arguments rather continually express frustration that he would have history on his side in the long run.
Tony Scott directs Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold and Brigitte Nielsen in this action comedy sequel where Detroit cop Axel Foley returns to the West Coast to solve the ABC crimes.
A sequel so monogamous to its blockbuster originator you genuinely can compare every element. Is Bob Seger’s opening credit hit Shakedown poppier than Glenn Frey’s The Heat Is On? Is Tony Scott’s glossier, more bombastic direction more entertaining than Martin Brest’s grittier, satirical tone? Do you prefer cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball’s smooth pop art visuals of Bruce Sutree’s grainier realism? Is Steven Berkoff’s overacting ham villain more of a challenge than Jürgen Prochnow’s more imposing, mysterious antagonist? Do you wanna hear Axel F. in every scene or does Harold Faltermeyer’s new percussive action theme draw you into the crime set-pieces more effectively? Is the sexual tension more rife between Johnathan Bank’s scuzzy henchman or Brigitte Nielsen’s teutonic henchwoman? Annoying boy scout Billy Rosewood or Rambo weirdo Billy Rosewood? Banana in the tail pipe or cement truck demolition derby? Nasty Girl or Gerald Ford? Ramon “the fella he met about a week ago” or Johnny Wishbone from the island of St Croy? Baby Damon Wayans walk-on or baby Chris Rock walk-on? Pointer Sisters or Pointer Sisters? Mansion shoot out or oil field bazooka-out? The first film wins pretty much all these coin tosses but it is closer than you would imagine. As a pure entertainment, this starts with the Eddie Murphy Production Company credit appearing over a close-up of the mega star rearranging his crotch. We all came to see Eddie be the biggest swinging dick in the room again. II snappily delivers, taking zero risks to fuck with that winning recipe.
Andrew Fleming directs Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk and Neve Campbell in this teen horror where a gang of girls becomes vengeful witches.
Teen Witchcraft… Don’t Do It! Chokers at the ready, pleated mini-skirts on order! Not a perfect film… it is somehow both clunkingly obvious and loosely vague at the very same time. The acting is pretty basic, as is the scope of the drama. However, when it lurches into violence or terror it actually hits home pretty hard. While no The Lost Boys, an obvious influence, it never is boring. A product of its time, opening the garden gate for the superior Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scream series. Perfect sleepover horror / wish fulfilment for girls experimenting with eye shadow.