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 What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:00 pm

Casino Royale (2006), after the low-point of Die Another Day, the James Bond franchise was given one HELL of a serious reboot, this meant starting it all over from scratch, and getting a new Bond in the form of Daniel Craig. This meant going back to the source by being faithful to Ian Fleming's original 1952 novel, which was the first James Bond novel. It's the breath of fresh air that people needed and Bond was reborn with this. This has James Bond earning his 00 status, and then going on his first assignment, being entered in a high stakes game of Texas Hold'em at the Casino Royale in Montenegro, against the sinister terrorist banker Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who is trying to raise funds for terrorist organisations, but after being foiled in blowing up a prototype plane, Le Chiffre needs to win money. Bond is working along side the lovely treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). But this is a dangerous game, and Le Chiffre is determined to see that Bond doesn't win the money, but Bond won't be beaten. This is one of the best Bonds of the lot, it's so classy and well-made. Craig makes the role his own on his first outing, portraying an ultra-realistic Bond. It's got wonderful locations, some absolutely brilliant moments of action, and a near unwatchable torture scene. But, Craig's Bond is a world away from the fantasy of before, and by God, it works. 5/5



The Long Goodbye (1973), with his star on the rise as a director after M*A*S*H (1970) and McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Robert Altman took on Raymond Chandler's private eye character Philip Marlowe, by transfering his noirish 1953 novel to the madness of 1970's Los Angeles. It shouldn't work, but amazingly it does thanks to dark humour, an inspired cast, spontaneous direction and a good deadpan lead. It has gumshoe Philip Marlowe (Eliott Gould) taking his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) to the U.S./Mexico border at Tijuana, after an apparant incident, and this leads him to a case where the rich and beautiful Eileen Wade (Nina Van Pallandt), for Marlowe to find her alcoholic husband (Sterling Hayden), who is at a clinic run by Dr. Verringer (Henry Gibson), once Marlowe gets Wade back to his wife, he discovers a secret linking Wade to what happened with Lennox. It's a very daring film, as the only other time Chandler's work was updated was with Michael Winner's take on The Big Sleep (1978), but this is a very dark and very savage, but it's well made, and Gould makes a good lead, even if it is restrained but with moments of mischief shining through. But, Altman's freeform direction gives it a dark edge, as does a good score by John Williams. Oh, and look out for a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in an unbilled cameo as a heavy with a dodgy moustache. Razz 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:06 pm

Skyfall (2012), Bond 23, and the 007 franchise came perilously close to ending when MGM went bankrupt, but MGM found money, and they got to make this, with Sam Mendes at the helm too, the first Oscar winning director to do a Bond. The delayed production gave them chance to make the script the best ever, get the best performances from all concerned, and get top talent in front and behind the camera. It's one of the best Bonds of them all. James Bond (Daniel Craig) is seemingly killed while trying to retrieve a computer hard-drive from assassin Patrice (Ola Rapace). The hard-drive contains the information and identities of NATO agents deep undercover, M (Judi Dench) finds herself under pressure from government officer Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), and after MI6 is attacked, Bond reappears. M assigns Bond with finding whoever did this, it takes Bond to Shanghai and Macau, where he meets Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe), who takes Bond to Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), who was behind the attack, but Silva has a past, and it involves M... It's a brilliant piece of entertainment, it's a Bond unlike all the others, but it's also old fashioned in it's direction and acting. Craig is brilliant as Bond, and here he gets to have a bit more fun than his first two outings. It's emotionally charged, and it's the best looking Bond of them all, with real danger and threat too. 5/5



Universal Soldier (1992), the first Hollywood film by German director Roland Emmerich, whose previous film Moon 44 (1990), had caught the attention of producer Mario Kassar, who set up a deal with Emmerich at his studio Carolco. even though the company was already facing financial problems then. This cheesy yet quite enjoyable action/sci-fi film helped the company survive for a while, and it is good fun to watch. During the Vietnam War in 1969, two members of the American Special Forces, Private Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Sergeant Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) have an altercation over the massacre of innocent civilians, and they shoot each other dead. Both are put into cryogenics, and are listed as Missing In Action. 23 years later, and their bodies are being used in an American military experiment known as the Universal Soldier program, an elite counter terrorism unit. Even though their memories were supposed to have been erased, Deveraux starts to remember his past, and ends up on the run with TV reporter Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker), with Scott in pursuit. It's a silly film, but this is the kind of action film you simply don't get anymore, and despite it spawning numerous sequels, it's a wonder no-one has tried to reboot this one yet. But, it put Emmerich on the map as a director of talent, leading to Stargate (1994) and Independence Day (1996). 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:12 pm

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (4th view) - This remains just as good as I think anyone could have hoped for as both a return to Middle Earth after 9 years and the first part of an overextended new trilogy. It sets up the whole new story rather wonderfully, familiar faces falling back into old roles superbly, new faces flawlessly entering the world. Aside from old favourites like McKellen and Serkis, and a great Freeman as Bilbo it's Ken Stott as Balin that steals the show. He's awesome in all three films. Like Fellowship, AUJ remains the most light hearted of the trilogy, with the escape from the goblins the most purely fun set-piece from all 6 films. This was my first watch of the extended cut and while nothing added is quite as important as additional scenes from LOTR, the little moments are generally all welcome. Others may disagree but I still feel like this film has no filler at all. Although I still don't know why we have that Nazgul music used for Thorin and Azog's confrontation! - 5/5





The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2nd view) - Smaug still has problems. Many of them. It still feels like, at times, it's not a Middle Earth. But a year on from initial viewing and the problems are less, it's an infinitely more rewarding experience. It also has one of the absolute bets bits from all 6 films- Bilbo's rasping "Mine" as he picks up the One Ring, and then his obvious sense of self disgust. Smaug is a magnificent creation, beautiful to look at and wonderfully voiced. Gandalf's diversion to Dol Guldur is something I could watch all day long and Luke Evans' Bard is a perfect fit for the film. Inter-species romance still clogs up runtime, barrel-riding antics remain overlong and I still can't understand why CGI orcs are now favoured over prosthetics and make-up but overall, a greatly enjoyable film - 5/5





The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (1st view) -

"I am fire. I am death"
"What have we done?"

More than anything else in Smaug, back in December 2013 the final 15 seconds of the film made me wish that December 2014 wasn't a year away. And while it's obvious that the climax of one film has now become the introduction to another, it's such a thrilling, beautifully realised introduction that I can't help but love it's placement at the beginning of film three.

On the whole Battle is problematic, more satisfying than Smaug was on first watch and some proper lump in the throat moments that reminded me of seeing ROTK at the cinema. Reactions on my part only happened probably because screen moments reminded me of ROTK but they left me feeling satisfied nonetheless. There are some elements that were so ridiculous (worms!) that in most other films I'd have spent the next 5 minutes in the cinema wondering if I had actually just seen what I saw, but in this I just got swept along and didn't start thinking about the flaws until afterwards. And unlike with Smaug, even then I mainly remembered the good stuff. Mainly.

There's at least one character I'd have done away with completely. Alfrid Lickspittle does not belong in Middle Earth, a truly horrendous inclusion for all the wrong reasons. Terrible character, misjudged performance, and with one scene so straight out of Monty Python it's almost unforgiveable, and just his presence makes Bard and Gandalf act like fools. Love between elves and dwarves still do nothing for me at all, I'm almost certain that events in these films will make for inconsistencies next time I see LOTR, I can't for the life of me understand why Peter Jackson thinks that CGI orcs look better than actual people in makeup (Dain. What the hell?) and you can almost tell the moments that will have added scenes in the extended cut. What happened to the gold? What happened to Bard and the people of Lake Town? Do the remaining dwarves not care that Kili and Fili are dead? And didn't Legolas end film 2 chasing after Bolg? And where did those stupid worms go? And when Thorin and co went to fight Azog, what where the others dwarves doing, because we sure as hell didn't seem them in battle? But there's so much about it I loved.

The final battle tries to both outdo and be smaller than Pelennor Fields in ROTK, if that makes sense, and I think it works on both counts and while it's both exhaustingly long and exhausting to watch it's mostly wonderfully realised, with some great touches (I particularly like the battering trolls, and Dain's Pig Steed is awesome). Rarely has there been such an "Uh oh" moment in these films as the truly gloriously horrid grin from Azog when he realises his second army has arrived. The aftermath of the battle, I don't think there'll be many of the criticisms that ROTK was accused of (though I do expect this area of the film to be greatly expanded next year). Thranduil's mention of Aragorn, shoehorned in it may be but that burst of Fellowship music made me want to leave the cinema and delve straight into a LOTR marathon. Similarly, the final scene, back with Ian Holm, as we close into the map of Middle Earth and he Gandalf arriving at Bag End, a perfect, perfect way to finish.

Other stuff of note. Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel teaming up to kick spectral arse is something I could have watched all day long. Freeman and McKellen remain perfect. I'm still saddened that the Misty Mountains theme from AUJ, a piece of music that I thought would become for the Hobbit series what The Fellowship theme was for LOTR, didn't make an appearance in this film or Smaug but Howard Shore has produced another gem of a score. I seriously hope they bring out the Complete editions of the music from these films. I'm so very glad they ended the trilogy as they did in LOTR, with those wonderful illustrations of all the players from across the three films.

Overall, Battle is the second most successful film of the three. As a whole, the trilogy both works the best and suffers the most due to the inevitable comparisons with LOTR. And although I've given them all top marks, The Hobbit Trilogy is no LOTR. They don't reach the near-perfection that LOTR gave us, and I know it's my love for LOTR that's making me more kind towards The Hobbit. I can't help that. The world and the characters, the music and performances that started in LOTR and moved into the Hobbit were always going to make me biased. But in a way I don't mind, because whether it be on their own merits or by association or an amalgamation of both I find the Hobbit films to be 8 hours of enjoyable, fun, diverting, spectacular and thrilling entertainment, flaws and all. And I'm so looking forward to the day when I can watch this trilogy and jump straight into the even more rewarding LOTR. 20 hours of Middle Earth. How can I, of all people, not love that? - 5/5*


_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:40 am

Big Business (20th+ view) - Laurel and Hardy are trying to sell Christmas trees in the summer, much to the annoyance of James Finlayson leading to the greatest reciprocal destruction battle in film history. 19 minutes of sheer brilliance - 5/5





The Odd Couple (10th view) - Always loved this. Damn near every line is a winner, the excellent cast zinging them back and forth. The group of poker players is one of the finest little gatherings on screen, but Lemmon and Matthau take the acting honours - 5/5





Man Of Steel (2nd view) - Really rather good. Certainly better than the last big screen Superman but there is one bit straight ouit of Calvin and Hobbes that I find hilarous - 4/5






Earthquake (3rd view) - I remembered this as being better - 3/5



_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Wed Dec 24, 2014 8:27 am


Frozen (2nd view) - Have you all noticed how Frozen merchandise seesm to dominate just about every shop at the moment? I don't think I've ever seen quite so much you can but for one film. Anyways, remains an immense amount of fun, probably even more enjoyable on this second viewing - 5/5





[b]Get A Horse[/b[ (2013) - Supremely entertaining, probably only the third time a Mickey Mouse cartoon has made me properly laugh, and it's great to see some long forgotten Disney characetrs make an appearance. I'd love for more shorts to be made, hopefully done completely in the style of the old 20s cartoons - 5/5



_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Thu Dec 25, 2014 8:27 pm

The Punisher (1989), directed by editor Mark Goldblatt, and based on the comic book character created by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and John Romita, Sr. and published by Marvel Comics. This dark action thriller was supposed to start off a new franchise but producers New World Pictures went into financial freefall, meaning the production was moved to Australia, and it never got the wide release it deserved, which is a shame really. Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren) is a vigilante who is wanted by the police and he's killed 125 people, all of them criminals with ties to the mob. Castle's own family were killed in a mob hit, and he went underground and lives as a vigilante called The Punisher. The mob's power is weakened because of Castle killing power mobsters, European mob enforcer Gianni Franco (Jeroen Krabbé), who looks to take power back, but it's not long before the Japanese Yakuza, led by Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori), so Castle has to fight two armies, not helped when Franco's son Tommy (Brian Rooney) is kidnapped, but cop Jake Berkowitz (Louis Gossett, Jr.) is on Castle's tail. It's not a bad film actually, but it's a silly piece of 80's cheese, and there is the odd flash of what could have been had it not been for the budget cuts which compromised a lot of the story. Then again, New World Pictures picked it up when Cannon Films started getting into financial problems, it's not like they could have made it worse. 3/5



Pacific Heights (1990), directed by John Schlesinger, whose career had floundered since Honky Tonk Freeway (1981) had proved to be an expensive flop. He still directed films but never achieved the success he'd gone in the 1960's, but he was given this original screenplay by Daniel Pyne from producer Scott Rudin and production company Morgan Creek. It's a taut and suspenseful film which owes a debt of gratitude to Hitchcock. In San Francisco, unmarried couple Drake Goodman (Matthew Modine) and Patty Palmer (Melanie Griffith) buy a 19th Century house in the Pacific Heights district, which they can barely afford but it has 2 ground floor apartments. They rent one out to the Watanabe family (Mako and Nobu McCarthy), but they struggle to find an ideal tenant for the other flat. Until the mysterious Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton) turns up, and he sweet talks his way into leasing the place. But he fails to pay the bills, makes banging noises in the night and unleashes cockroachs in the building, but Drake and Patty can't evict him, until Patty discovers a horrible truth about Carter. It's a good thriller with some good twists along the way, and it's still effective to this day, and it's a good reminder of what a good actor Michael Keaton is, and he gives a truly chilling turn in this film, and it gave Schlesinger the biggest success since Marathon Man (1976), he should have had more success, but sadly it never came. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:30 pm

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010), written and directed by Eli Craig, who started his career as an actor before he decided he wanted to make his own film. It took Craig 3 years to get the money together to make the film, and he went to Alberta, Canada to save on the budget. But the final result is a clever horror-comedy with heart as well, as the two central characters are victims of circumstance with unspeakable things happening. It begins with a group of kids, consisting of Allison (Katrina Bowden), Chad (Jesse Moss), Chloe (Chelan Simmons), Chuck (Travis Nelson), Jason (Brandon Jay McLaren) and Mike (Joseph Allan Sutherland) going on a camping holiday in West Virginia. At a gas station, they notice two hillbillies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), who mean no harm, but their appearance scares the kids. Tucker and Dale are fixing their cabin in the woods. Allison goes to their cabin while Tucker and Dale are out fishing, but Allison bangs her head and the other kids think she's been kidnapped. Tucker and Dale get back, and all hell breaks loose, but it's not their fault! It's a good twist on the teen kids in a cabin in the woods horror cliche, proving appearances can be deceptive and accidents do indeed happen, no matter how inexplicable the circumstances are. But for it's low budget, it manages to be very effective and there is some good horror moments and laughs along the way. 4/5



Win Win (2011), written and directed by Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent (2003) and The Cobbler (2014)), this comedy-drama is a very human story with a colourful cast and some good observations on life along the way. McCarthy made his name with quirky dramedies like this, and this is a fine film, with it's lead character thrown into a snowballing situation, when he just wanted some money for him and his family. In the small town of New Providence, New Jersey, attorney Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) has a second job as a wrestling coach trying to earn enough money to keep his law practice afloat and he doesn't want his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan). But when he's asked to represent court appointed client Leo Poplar (Burt Young), who has early dementia, Mike finds out if he becomes Leo's guardian, he'll get $1500 a month, and he convinces the judge to that he'll take care of Leo. Of course, he has no intention, and places Leo in a care home, and pockets the money. But matters become complicated when Leo's Grandson Kyle Timmons (Alex Shaffer) turns up. It's a good character piece, with some fine actors in the film, Giamatti is great as always, and he's backed by a good supporting cast also including Jeffrey Tambor, Melanie Lynskey and Bobby Cannavale. McCarthy seems to be able to sum up real life in a nutshell, and what some people will do to make money. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:58 pm

No Good Deed (2002), directed by Bob Rafelson (Head (1968), Five Easy Pieces (1970) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)), this crime thriller was loosely adapted from The House on Turk Street, written in 1924 by Dashiell Hammett. It does have it's moments, but it feels derivative and it's been done before elsewhere, and in some cases, better. Which is a shame, as this has a good cast, but the material is weak. When diabetic police detective Jack Friar (Samuel L. Jackson) is investigating the disappearance of a girl after a neighbour begged him to do so. While on Turk Street, he helps old lady Mrs. Quarre (Grace Zabriskie) into her house with her shopping, inside she and her husband Thomas (Joss Ackland) make him some tea, but it's while inside, he discovers the Quarrie's were hostages being held by Tyrone (Stellan Skarsgård) and Hoop (Doug Hutchison), with femme fatale Erin (Milla Jovovich) involved in the criminal activities as well. They are planning a heist with corrupt banker David (Jonathan Higgins), with Friar as hostage, he tries to appeal to Erin's better nature. It's a film with tries to be clever and twisty, but it doesn't try hard enough, and it does come across as a TV Movie of the week rather than one with cinematic qualities. It's not an overall disaster, as it has a third act which livens things up, but it's too little too late. As a result, Rafelson hasn't directed since. Shame really. 2.5/5



The Claim (2000), directed by Michael Winterbottom and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, this is a very loose adaptation of the 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. Winterbottom is no stranger to Hardy, having made Jude (1996), but Winterbottom had recently got a deal at United Artists for 3 films, which would get him some recognition in America. This is a classy yet cold film, well filmed though. Set in Northern California in 1867, in the small town of Kingdom Come, which is benefitting a boom of the gold rush of the era. Irish immigrant Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan) is the self appointed mayor of Kingdom Come and he owns all of the businesses in the town. When Donald Dalglish (Wes Bentley), a surveyor with the Central Pacific Railroad comes to Kingdom Come comes to town with the prospect of having a railroad going either through or near the town, Dillon is determined that it goes through the town, as it will mean more business. Along with Dalglish comes travellers Elena Burn (Nastassja Kinski) and daughter Hope (Sarah Polley), who have ties with Dillon. It's a different kind of western, and this one owes a massive debt of gratitude to Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) and Nicolas Roeg's Eureka (1983), Winterbottom gets the best out of his cast, and even though it does briefly drag, it does pick itself up and it makes for a good powerful drama with some lovely snowy vistas. As for Winterbottom and Boyce, for their next film, they would unleash 24 Hour Party People (2002). 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:29 pm

The Muppet Christmas Carol (40th+ view) - Remains perfect - 5/5




Cash On Demand (1st view) - Peter Cusing stars as an unlikerable bank manager who gets involved in robbing his own bank after criminals take his family hostage - 4/5*





The Sitter (1st view) - I watched this on Christmas day. I felt festive before I watched it. I didn't after - 2/5*





_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:08 am

We Are Marshall (2006), directed by McG (Charlie's Angels (2000), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003) and Terminator: Salvation (2009)), this true life sports drama written by Jamie Linden (Dear John (2010)), is a moving and emotional film. It proves that McG can make good films when he makes the effort, the fact he hasn't made anything like this is a sad fact, as he's making the wrong sort of films, and on the basis of this, he can do drama. Set in 1970, in Huntingdon, West Virgina. Marshall University have the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, which on November 14th, had played a game in North Carolina. On a chartered plane home, the plane crashes while landing, killing everyone on board. The university and town of Huntingdon are left shattered by this tragedy, but university president Donald Dedmon (David Strathairn) decides to start the university's football programme again, employing new head coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) and assistant Red Dawson (Matthew Fox) are determined to put a new team together, and they're determined to ensure the new team succeed. It's a bit cliched in places, but it was a horrible tragedy that occurred and the fact the college decided to continue with the football programme showed the courage they had in the face of nearly impossible odds. But the film has a good cast, and even if you don't know a lot about American football, you don't have to for this film. 3.5/5



The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and so it's come to the end. Peter Jackson's second trilogy set in Middle Earth, taking J. R. R. Tolkien's one book and splitting it into 3 films might seem like a bit of a folly, but it's worked. Sort of, and the last third of The Desolation of Smaug (2013) set the scene nicely for the hell that would follow. It's a good finale, but you do end up suffering from battle fatuge during the grand finale. Shortly after Smaug the Dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) is released from the Lonely Mountain, he starts to destroy Laketown. But after Smaug is taken down by Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), he suggests they head to the mountain for refuge. Meanwhile in the mountain, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) begins to worry about Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), who seems to have become corrupted by the gold and his overall lust for power. But it turns out the elves, led by Thranduil (Lee Pace) are staking a claim to some of the treasure in the mountain, and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) arrives, after being rescued from a near fatal death by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). You could have told The Hobbit in one film, it didn't really have to be three films, but it managed to be entertaining, and far from the disaster that many people predicted. It's well filmed, and while it's not perfect, it sets up the scene for what was to come in the Lord of the Rings trilogy perfectly, and it has a brilliant conclusion too. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:11 am

b]Bad Santa (2003)[/b], a different kind of Christmas film. This one is NOT for the family to watch. In fact, it's one for the grown-ups. Who said Christmas films have to be for the family?? Directed by Ghost World's Terry Zwigoff and based on an idea by the Coen Brothers. This is a contender for one of the best Christmas films ever made, and it's also one of the funniest too. It follows drunken, boorish criminal Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), who posed as a shopping mall Santa with his partner in crime elf Marcus (Tony Cox). While posing as Santa and his elf, they plan to rob the mall, which they do on Christmas Eve. Until one year, when Stokes becomes involved with (Brett Kelly), an overweight boy who believes Stokes really is Santa. Plus, there's trouble when Stokes' foul-mouth gets him into trouble with Mall manager Bob Chipeska (John Ritter) and Mall inspector Gin (Bernie Mac), but can Stokes change his ways?? It's a dirty, rude film but with a heart of gold, it has some brilliant gags, dialogue and scenes along the way. It's different from all the rest which is what makes it stand out. Thornton makes a brilliant down and dirty, but likeable crook, but it's the scenes with Cox and Kelly that stand out. Throw away all the other Christmas films, Bad Santa tops them all!! Very Happy 4.5/5



Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), after making it big with Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). Edgar Wright heads off to Hollywood for this adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Canadian Manga series. It's a faithful comic book adaptation, and it's also a video game film, but not in the normal sense. It proves that Wright is one of the best directors working today. Set in Toronto, it has slacker Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) who is bass player in a band called Sex Bob-Omb, and he's dating high-school girl Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), but then Scott meets the girl of his dreams, quite literally. Ramona V. Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and eventually talks Ramona into dating him. However, there's one big problem, and it's not having to dump Knives for Ramona. Nope, Scott has to defeat Ramona's 7 Evil Ex Boyfriends, who include action star Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), vegan rocker Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh) and the mysterious Gideon Gordon Graves (Jason Schwartzman). It's a very well made film with an original look. It's true to the source material, and it's a love letter to punch-'em-up video games of old. The cast are brilliant, and this should help Wright make it big, this is a great, exciting and very funny romance. 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:36 am

Eating Raoul (1982), directed by Paul Bartel (Death Race 2000 (1975)), who had been a character actor in many Roger Corman productions, he had pitched this black comedy to Corman, who turned it down. Unfazed, Bartel went about raising the money by himself, with help from friends like Joe Dante and John Landis. It's a weird and funny piece which became the sleeper hit of 1982, and gathered a huge cult following. In Los Angeles, Married couple Paul (Bartel) and Mary (Mary Woronov) live in a run down apartment, and they want a better life. Paul is a snob who sells expensive wine bottles to clients, while Mary is a nurse. The apartment block has lots of seedy people about, but they want a better life and to open their own restaurant. After accidentally killing a drunk swinger (Garry Goodrow). They dispose of the body, and take his money. Their scheme is found out by con-man Raoul Mendoza (Robert Beltran) who wants a piece of the action, he will dispose of the bodies and they'll split the money, it seems like a lucrative private enterprise. John Waters would have killed for this film, as it has some moments typical of him. It's seedy and darkly funny, it inspired the Comic Strip team with Eat The Rich (1987), and they would cast Bartel in some of their films. Bartel is still sadly missed, and he had an inimitable presence. 4/5



Dumb and Dumber To (2014), well it was bound to happen. 20 years after the original Dumb and Dumber (1994), and a prequel which no-one wants to talk about, Peter and Bobby Farrelly return to their debut that gave them overnight success. It was a nightmare getting the film greenlit, with it's original studio backing out and the star shuffling his heels over whether he wanted to do it. It's certainly not as good as the original, but was it ever going to be? 20 years after their escapades in Colorado. Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) end up on the road again when Harry reveals he needs a kidney transplant. Harry learns from his old girlfriend Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner) that she had a daughter, but put her up for adoption. Lloyd and Harry decide to track Fraida's daughter down, and it leads them to Dr. Bernard Pinchelow (Steve Tom), who adopted Fraida's daughter Penny (Rachel Melvin), and Lloyd and Harry head to El Paso, where Penny has gone to a convention on behalf of her adoptive father. But Dr. Pinchelow's scheming wife Adele (Laurie Holden) and housekeeper Travis (Rob Riggle), want to stop Lloyd and Harry, because of a box they have. It's an extremely silly film, and what seemed groundbreaking in 1994 now seems immature and embarrassing, but there are some funny gags in it, and maybe it is about time we had a film like this just as escapism from real life. Carrey and Daniels bounce of each other perfectly, but it could have been a hell of a lot better. 3/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:22 am

Slither (2006), the directorial debut of writer James Gunn, who had made his start in film working for Lloyd Kaufman at Troma Films, before breaking into Hollywood doing the screenplays for Scooby-Doo (2002) and Dawn of the Dead (2004). But Gunn wanted to do something close to his heart, something that harked back to his years at Troma. The result was this insane comedy-horror, which has moments of gross horror that harks back to 80's horror films. It's great fun. In the town of Wheelsy, South Carolina. A meteorite full of parasitic aliens crashes near the town, and when Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) becomes infected by the alien parasites, and even though there isn't an obvious change straight away, when Grant shows weird behaviour, it scares Grant's wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks), and then more parasites take over the town. Local Police Chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) tries to find out what the hell is going on, and Mayor Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry) tries to reassure the townspeople, but then peoples pets start going missing, and when local teenager Kylie Strutemyer (Tania Saulnier) is nearly infected, and she see's where the aliens came from. It's a breathe of fresh air to see a film like this, and in a year where everyone was on about Snakes on a Plane (2006), this is the film they should have gone to see. It was a massive box office flop despite glowing reviews, it's a very inventive horror-comedy, with some very colourful characters. Gunn is an original talent, and he has an offbeat view on the world. 4/5



Super (2010), written and directed by James Gunn (Slither (2006)), this is a dark and dirty black comedy which is very violent and badass. It was compared to Kick-Ass on release, but this is done on a lower budget, is alot more savage and goes places Kick-Ass wouldn't have dared go, but it still makes for good viewing, although it is quite uncomfortable in places. Short-order cook Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is in a happy marriage with wife Sarah (Liv Tyler), even though he's had a life of trauma and disappointments. However, the happiness with Sarah doesn't last forever, as Sarah leaves him for strip club owner Jacques (Kevin Bacon), who gets Sarah addicted to drugs. Frank falls into a deep depression, but he also gets touched by God, and gets a message from the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), a superhero from public access TV who tells him that Frank has been chosen to become a superhero. So, Frank becomes the Crimson Bolt, a dark avenger who roams the street looking for crime and putting a stop to it, and he even gets a sidekick with comic book store worker Libby (Ellen Page) who becomes "Boltie", but Frank just wants his wife back. Alot of this is very twisted and nasty, but there are dark laughs to be found. Wilson goes from psychopathic avenger to sensitive depressive, with that sort of a performance, it's a wonder there's laughs to be had. But, it's an engaging film and it's clear writer/director Gunn has plenty of ideas, and in 2014, he unleashed Guardians of the Galaxy... 4/5


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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:11 pm


DUMB AND BUMBER TO
I on the other hand absolutely HATED this film. Unfunny to the point of total boredom, rehashed gags from the original, humour that borders on unnecessarily mean at times (especially Carrey earlier on in the film) and just devoid of any of the heart and sweetness the first film had 20 years ago. I was fearing another Anchorman 2 and i got it, but less funnier. One of the years biggest disappointments 1/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Wed Dec 31, 2014 9:55 am

Exodus: Gods and Kings (1st view, 3D) - Sir Ridders obviously has fun with the battle scenes, the red sea and the plagues, and it's as gorgeous as you'd expect, but Joel Edgerton is pretty terrible and I have no idea why Sigourney Weaver bothered turning up. Scott has made much better epics than this - 4/5*


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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:33 am

Kicking off 2015 with...


One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing (7th view) - Used to love this when I was younger but haven't seen it in about 20 years. Not as good as I remember - 3/5



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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:52 am

Before Sunrise (1st view) - It was okay. I could believe the two as a couple and they shared some nice moments and I was kinda sad at the end but there are only so many drippy conversations I can take in one film. My main thought when watching it was how much I know I'm going to hate Boyhood - 3/5*


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We cleave to the darkness.
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Behold! We are the Nine,
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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:56 pm

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), based on Dodie Smith's 1956 book The Hundred and One Dalmatians, it was read in 1957 by Walt Disney who instantly bought the rights, seeing excellent potential in the material. He was right too, however Sleeping Beauty (1959) hadn't made as much money at the box-office at the time that it should have, and the animation department at Disney was under threat. But Disney was determined to make the film a hit, and he did. In London, Dalmatian Pongo (Rod Taylor) and his "human pet" Roger (Ben Wright) live in a flat, and Pongo is looking for a wife for Roger and a mate for himself, and he finds it in dalmatian Perdita (Cate Bauer) and her human pet Anita (Lisa Davis). Roger and Anita marry, and Perdita has 15 puppies, which instantly catches the attention of Anita's old school friend Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson), who wants to buy the puppies, but Roger and Anita refuse. So Cruella hires crooks Jasper (J. Pat O'Malley) and Horace (Frederick Worlock) to kidnap the puppies, which they do. Pongo and Perdita go out looking for them, and locate them to an abandoned house in Suffolk, where there's 84 other dalmatian puppies too... It's a brilliant piece of entertainment, with an almost jazzy and, for then, up to date feel for it then. It's almost as if Disney was starting to embrace the brave new world of the 1960's and what it would throw at culture. It has some funny moments and it's an overall joy to watch from start to finish, with some good observations on animal behaviour too. 5/5



Isn't She Great (2000), directed by Andrew Bergman (The Freshman (1990) and Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)), with screenplay by Paul Rudnick (Addams Family Values (1993) and Jeffrey (1995)) based upon an article written for New Yorker in 1995 by Michael Korda. This is a fun and bubbly autobiography, (if such a thing has ever existed before), but this is an autobiography as if it was imagined and written by the subject herself, who was quite the character. This tells the story of Jacqueline Susann (Bette Midler) who is an unsuccessful actress and she isn't much cop in other jobs either, but all she wants in life is to be recognised and be famous. She marries press agent Irving Mansfield (Nathan Lane), who also wants to see her famous. Irving then has an idea, Jacqueline should write a book, channeling all her emotion and passion into it. Which she does, the finished result is Valley of the Dolls, which is a notorious and graphic book, which was drawn from Jacqueline's own experiences as a struggling actress. No-one will publish it, until it lands on the desk of publisher Henry Marcus (John Cleese), who helps make the book one of the biggest literary hits of the 1960's. A lot of what happens in the film is made up, but that's kind of the point, it's meant to be glossy and even the serious bits have a modicum of optimism to them. The film certainly isn't as be as what most people make out, it has a good score by Burt Bacharach, and even though Midler was nominated for a Razzie, she makes Jacqueline her own. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:41 pm

Master of the World (1961), produced by American International Pictures, and based on two books by Jules Verne, Robur the Conqueror (1886) and Master of the World (1904), this was an attempt by American International to branch out into epic adventure films, like Around the World in 80 Days (1956) had done. It has varying degrees of success, parts of it look great, and other parts you can tell were done on the cheap, but it's well shot and has imaginative designs on display. In 1868, the residents of Morgantown, Pennsylvania are shocked to hear a booming voice coming from a nearby mountain. So, pioneering scientist Prudent (Henry Hull), his daughter Dorothy (Mary Webster), her fiance Evans (David Frankham) along with government agent John Strock (Charles Bronson) in Prudent's airship to investigate what's inside the mountain. They're shot down by a missile, and they're taken on board a massive airship called the Albatross, invented and ran by Captain Robur (Vincent Price), who has been travelling the world in his flying machine wanting to spread world peace, but Robur does this by destroying the naval fleets of countries. Prudent wants to stop him, but Strock seems to side with Robur. It's a good idea for a film, and this was initially set to be the first in a franchise of films. Unfortunately, it didn't strike a chord with audiences at a time, and American International went back to making horror films and beach party films, and they seldom tried anything like this again. Which is a shame, because despite a few shortcomings, it's a good adventure film. 3.5/5



The Legacy (1978), directed by Richard Marquand (Eye of the Needle (1981) and Return of the Jedi (1983)), and written by Jimmy Sangster (Dracula (1958), The Anniversary (1968) and Fear in the Night (1972)), this horror film was one of many demonic themed ones to open in the wake of The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976). Sangster's original script was set in Detroit, but moved to the UK as it was cheaper, it's a bit derivative and it's been done better elsewhere. Interior decorators Maggie Walsh (Katharine Ross) and her boyfriend Pete Danner (Sam Elliott) work in Los Angeles, but they're asked to do work for a client in England, so they go over, and while riding on their motorbike, are involved in a near collision with a limousine, but it's owner Jason Mountolive (John Standing) instantly invites Maggie and Pete back to his country estate of Ravenhurst. But it seems that their visit was already planned, and Mountolive and the staff knew Maggie and Pete were coming. Other guests at the house include record executive Clive Jackson (Roger Daltrey) and German military dealer Karl Liebnecht (Charles Gray). But, soon the guests start getting bumped off one by one. It's a very silly film, and definitely a product of it's time, but it has a good cast but it could have done with a better, more focused script, as it starts getting quite confusing and over the top towards the end. Some the deaths that occur throughout are effective and some grisly, but even they don't seem to improve this one, which offered a lot, but ends up short. 2.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:29 am

An Autumn Afternoon (1st view) - My second Yasujirō Ozu film, the other being Late Spring. This isn't as good but has the same deliberate pace and elegant atmosphere - 4/5*



Before Sunset (1st view) - Better than Sunrise - 3/5*


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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:11 pm

The Shadow of the Cat (1961), directed by John Gilling (The Plague of the Zombies (1966), The Reptile (1966) and The Mummy's Shroud (1967)) and written by George Baxt (Night of the Eagle (1962)), this horror was produced by Hammer Films, however, because of a contractual clause, Hammer had to go under another name, which is one of the reasons why this one is not as well remembered as Hammer's other output of the time, but it's up there with Hammer's best, as it has good twists. When elderly Ella Venable (Catherine Lacey) ends up being murdered, the only witness to the murder is her cat Tabitha, Ella was murdered by Andrew the butler (Andrew Crawford) and the maid Clara (Freda Jackson) and Ella's husband Walter (André Morell), who only married Ella for her money, planned it to get a cut of Ella's inheritance. When Ella's niece Elizabeth (Barbara Shelley) arrives, she wants to know what's happened. She's come along with Walter's brother Edgar (Richard Warner), his son Jacob (William Lucas) and wife Louise (Vanda Godsell), who are in on the murder. But Tabitha the sly cat is determined to bring havoc on those responsible for Ella's death, and she's able to outsmart and get revenge on the guilty ones. It sounds like a load of far-fetched rubbish, but on screen it isn't. It proves to be a great piece of entertainment and it owes a lot to the work of Edgar Allen Poe, and even Universal's horror films of the 1930's. It almost plays like an episode of Tales of the Unexpected, with some good twists and how karma will always catch up with us in the end. 4/5



The Big Hit (1998), directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Che-Kirk Wong (Gunmen (1988) and Crime Story (1993)), written by Ben Ramsey (Dragonball: Evolution (2009)) and produced by John Woo and Wesley Snipes. The action-crime-comedy was initially intended to have been directed by Woo and starring Snipes, but that never happened, and while there's so much going on it's hard to keep up with the plot, it's done with a professional fast and furious pace throughout. Professional hitman Melvin Smiley (Mark Wahlberg) has two relationships going on. One with the demanding Chantel (Lela Rochon), who knows what he does for a living, and another with the kind Pam (Christina Applegate), who doesn't know what he does. When Melvin and his team, consisting of Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips), Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine), Vince (Antonio Sabato Jr.), and Gump (Robin Dunne), kidnap Keiko Nishi (China Chow), the teenage daughter of local electronics magnate Jiro Nishi (Sab Shimono). But what they don't know is that Nishi has gone bankrupt and can't pay the ransom, and Melvin has Keiko hidden in his house, just when Pam and her parents (Lainie Kazan and Elliott Gould) come for dinner. It's a very silly film and there's a lot of plot squeezed into the film, maybe a bit too much for it's own good, but it has a good cast to it's name even if the plot is a bit convoluted and the action comes on fast and it's very violent. Filmed in 1996, it wasn't released until 1998 after much internal wrangling over the final cut of the film. 3/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:38 pm

X: The Unknown (1956), in 1955, Hammer Films had a huge box-office success with their adaptation of the BBC's 1953 serial, The Quatermass Xperiment. This sci-fi thriller, scripted by future Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster, originally started life as a sequel to Quatermass. However, it's creator Nigel Kneale said no, so Hammer made it a film in it's own right, and it's a very good thriller, with a good cast to boot too. During an army training exercise in a remote part of western Scotland, a large earthquake occurs where soldiers involved in the exercise, including Private Lansing (Kenneth Cope) are exposed and injured by radiation exposure. Dr. Royston (Dean Jagger), who works at the nearby Atomic Energy Laboratory, is called in with Inspector McGill (Edward Chapman), to investigate this, and why it happened. But, when villagers in nearby communities to where it happened start dying of radiation poisoning, Royston and McGill deduct that the force is some prehistoric lifeforce which predates man, and has been trying to get to Earth's surface. It's a very good thriller, and it has a good cast of faces from film and TV of that time and later. It was directed by Leslie Norman, (Barry's Dad), who replaced Joseph Losey, who had ran away from the Communist Witch-hunts of America. As a result, it was a difficult production, but it manages to be exciting to watch. 4/5



And Soon the Darkness (1970), directed by Robert Fuest (Wuthering Heights (1970), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)) and written by Brian Clemens (The Avengers) and Terry Nation (Doctor Who and Blake's 7). This dark, psychological thriller split and divided audiences at the time, but it helped director Fuest and it's writers get work on other projects, but it's not aged well and there are parts of it that drag on for way too long. Set in rural France, two young nurses from Nottingham, Jane (Pamela Franklin) and Cathy (Michele Dotrice), are ona cycling holiday through the French countryside and while stopping to take a rest and sunbathe by the side of the road. Jane gets impatient and wants to carry on alone without Cathy, which she does. While stopping at a cafe, she's warned by cafe owner Madame Lassal (Hana Maria Pravda) that the area has a bad reputation. Worried, she goes back to where Cathy was, but she's vanished. She seemingly finds help in plain clothes detective Paul (Sandor Elès) as well as the local Gendarme (John Nettleton), but everyone seems to be acting suspiciously, and Jane doesn't know who to trust. It should have been a dark, brooding thriller, but it plods along too slowly and there's a lot of shots on the road, almost like a laid back version of Easy Rider (1969), but one with more darkness and threat. But the film's sparse nature works against it, despite the best efforts. The film was remade in 2010, although the action was moved to Argentina. 2/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:49 am

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Made in a time when the western was having a resurgence in popularity, despite the rise of the New Hollywood era. Director George Roy Hill and writer William Goldman took on a western legend, but in the process, gave it a quite modern attitude. It shouldn't have worked, but it did. And it also had one of the best pairing of two great actors, one a legend in his own right, and this film made the other one a megastar. Set in the late 1890's, it focuses on the exploits of Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford), who are part of the Hole in the Wall Gang, who Butch is leader of. But, when one robbery goes awry, Butch and Sundance find themselves on the run, and they eventually decide to head for Bolivia with Sundance's lover, Etta Place (Katharine Ross). When they get to Bolivia, they find themselves holding up banks there, but they also now work at a mine for American named Percy Garris (Strother Martin). While the robbery's take place, they earn the title of "Bandidos Yanquis", however trying to adjust to life in Bolivia puts a strain on their friendship, and Sundance's relationship with Etta. It's a very enjoyable, and very well shot film. Both Newman and Redford gave brilliant performances as the titular duo, sparking off each other brilliantly. The icing on the cake to this film is Burt Bacharach's score, which lifts the mood and has a humourous quality about it as well as a jazzy feel. We hadn't seen the last of Newman or Redford either after this one. 4.5/5



Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), based on the series of books called The Destroyer, originally created and written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir in 1971, the film version of the book was directed by Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger (1964) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971)) and written by Christopher Wood (Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974) and Moonraker (1979)), this is a cheesy action thriller and definitely a product of the 1980's action boom. Remo Williams (Fred Ward) was once a tough Brooklyn precinct cop called Sam Makin, but his death was faked and he was unwittingly recruited into a top secret program that trains assassins called CURE. Remo is trained to be a killing machine by the elderly Korean martial arts master Chiun (Joel Grey), who teaches Remo how to do seemingly impossible stunts like walk on water an dodge bullets. CURE's chief Harold Smith (Wilford Brimley) has been investigating a man called George Grove (Charles Cioffi), and whenever people get too close to Grove, they mysteriously vanish. So, Smith calls on Remo to try and find out what Grove is up to, so Remo puts the training taught by Chiun to good use. It's hardly original, and director Hamilton had set out to make a "Blue-collar Bond", but he made the relationship between Ward and Grey the main point of the film, and it works, even if Grey's Chiun seems a bit un-PC now. There's a brilliant set piece on the Statue of Liberty surrounded by scaffolding, but it's a bit overlong and sadly, it was the only time Remo Williams graced the big screen. 3/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:47 am

A Hen In The Wind (1st view) - A young mother in postwar Tokyo prostitutes herself so she can pay for her son's medical bills, but when her husband returns home from the war he finds to hard to forgive her. Very good - 4/5*

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Behold! We are the Nine,
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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched Part 4: There And Back Again   Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:10 am

Stormbreaker (2006), based upon the 2000 novel by Anthony Horowitz, who also wrote the screenplay, and directed by Geoffrey Sax (White Noise (2005)), this spy film is 7 parts James Bond to 3 parts Harry Potter, and it was originally intended to kick off a franchise based on Horowitz's Alex Rider books, and despite much hype in the run-up to it's release, the sad fact is it sank without trace, and the potential sequels were cancelled. But, you can sadly see why. 14 year old Alex Rider (Alex Pettyfer) lives with his uncle Ian (Ewan McGregor) and their housekeeper Jack Starbright (Alicia Silverstone), Ian is never around much to Alex's regret. But when Ian is killed, Alex learns that Ian wasn't all he seemed. He wasn't a bank manager as he claimed, but he was a spy, working for MI6 under Alan Brunt (Bill Nighy), and Ian had been grooming Alex to be a spy too. Ian had been investigating American billionaire Darrius Sayle (Mickey Rourke), who is developing a new computer system called Stormbreaker set to be shipped to schools around the UK, Alex is sent in as a competition winner to test out Stormbreaker and find out what Sayle is up to, and who was being his uncle's murder. It has some good moments, but you can tell the makers were cutting corners throughout, most of it was filmed on the Isle of Man doubling for Cornwall, and even though it is aimed at kids, non of it is believable, which is possibly the point but it could have been a lot better, and there's too much product placement going on. (especially with Nintendo DS systems) for it's own good. 2.5/5



The Selfish Giant (2013), written and directed by Clio Barnard, (The Arbor (2010)), this gritty drama was conceived by Barnard after she encountered 2 children working as scrap metal merchants while filming The Arbor. Inspired, Barnard ever-so-loosely adapted Oscar Wilde's 1888 children's story of the same name, and gave it a very grimy setting. It's not a particularly flattering portrayal of gypsies or Bradford in general, but it does make for a good film. In Bradford, it follows the lives of two boys. Arbor (Conner Chapman) and Swifty (Shaun Thomas), who have both been suspended from school after getting into a fight, Arbor permanently, and Swifty temporarily. With nothing to do, they end up trying to earn a bit of money, which they find in collecting bits of scrap metal around the streets of Bradford, and they take it to a local scrap dealer called Kitten (Sean Gilder), who owns two horses, and competes in amateur harness racing with local gypsies. Kitten see's that Swifty has a good touch with the horses. So Kitten lets Swifty and Arbor borrow the horse and cart to go collecting metal around the town, but it soon goes wrong for them all. This is the sort of film you would expect from Ken Loach, but this has put Barnard on the map as a talent to watch out for, and she gets the best from her cast of virtual unknowns, but even though the film makes the suburbs of Bradford look almost inhospitable and somewhere to avoid, it has a character of it's own and it's like a character in the film. 3.5/5

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