expatpaul's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
½

Sub-Lynchian culinary nightmare for pre-teens. Surprisingly dark for what it is if a bit dialogue heavy given the film's target audience.

Road to Victory

One of the great strengths of independent film ? possibly the greatest strength ? is that the lower budgets and greater creative control enjoyed by the film-makers in this sector allow for some genuinely original stories to be told. It has been a long, long time since I have seen anything as original as Road to Victory, a sports drama that deals with ambition, choices, drugs... and impotence.

Road to Victory is a powerful and genuinely moving film and one that draws you in slowly and keeps you hooked right up to the end. Although the subject matter is certainly uncomfortable, it is handled with real sensitivity and serves to address a a deeper and more universal question: Just how much would you sacrifice to achieve your dreams. And would the sacrifice be worth it?

Full review here

The Last Lullaby

Following a mercenary act of heroism, Price (Tom Sizemore), a former hitman, finds himself drawn back into his old job. Unfortunately, for Price, he's been away from his work a little too long and, as he prepares for his hit, he finds himself becoming more involved with his target than he intends.

The Last Lullaby is a film of few surprises but one that is strongly scripted and populated with complex and engaging characters, all of whom are superbly brought to life by the cast. It is this combination of script, character and performance that is utterly engrossing and will keep you hooked right up to the end of the film.

A fuller review is here

The Magdalene Sisters

Angry and compassionate without becoming hysterical, The Magdalene Sisters is a damning indictment not only of the Catholic Church, but also of the hypocrisy and fundamentalism that, even now, leads to far too many people being repressed in order to preserve an unjustified status quo.

Cloverfield
Cloverfield(2008)

Cloverfield is based on the brilliantly simple idea that you can shoot an entire monster movie - Blair Witch style - from a single camcorder. The result is made of awesome. Starting with a going-away party, which justifies the running camera, something goes boom and the rest of the film is a solid adrenaline rush all the way.

There is a surprisingly well plotted story under all the screaming and shaky camera work, as well as some well drawn characters. All of this is very carefully revealed within the 'found footage' conceit of the film and comes together in a way that is both very effective and avoids drawing attention to the cleverness of the scriptwriting.

Cloverfield is an all-round, damn good disaster movie.

Dr. No
Dr. No(1962)

So, way back in 1962 a low budget action film starring an unknown Scottish actor was released. I doubt that anyone thought at the time that they were witnessing the start of the most successful film franchise in history.

Many of the elements that became familiar in the subsequent films are already here. We have a megalomaniac super-villain seeking world domination; we have a hero who shags his way around an exotic location (Jamaica in this case); we have the one-liners and we have a theme tune that went on to become iconic.

That said, not all of the elements are in place just yet. Q doesn't make an appearance in this film and there are none of the gimmicky gadgets that became such a feature of the later films. In this outing, Bond is forced to rely far more on his wits and his fists to save the world.

No-one has come close to challenging Sean Connery for the title of best Bond until Daniel Craig starred in Casino Royale, and in this first film Connery's Bond is a lit closer to Craig's reboot than I remembered. Rather than the suave superspy that we have grown to expect, this Bond is a much more down-to-earth character that spends much of his time being beaten, brutalised and coming close to losing everything. This does, of course, make for a much more satisfying ending when he finally does get the girl and kill the baddies.

While I'm on the subject of getting the girl, it is impossible to talk about Dr. No without mentioning Ursula Andress. Not only does she provide the film's most memorable scene - and one that was consciously nodded to in Casino Royale - but she also managed to largely define the long line of Bond girls that followed her.

While Dr. No is a very solid film, it isn't the strongest film in the series and, as such, the film is more significant for what it spawned than what it is. That said, spawning a franchise as successful as this one is no mean feat and Dr. No is a fine start to the series.

El Alambrista: The Fence Jumper

The life of El Alambrista (Fausto Olmos Rentería), an aspiring luchador, changes drastically when his father dies in a mining accident. Taking on the responsibility of being the chief breadwinner for his family, he heads for the US border in search of work. This is not an easy life and, once over the border, he discovers just how hard it can be for an illegal immigrant. The constant fear of deportation leaves these people unable to turn to the authorities for help and, consequently, vulnerable to exploitation and abuse at the hands of dishonest employers, racist thugs and worse.

Not one to stand back and let his people suffer, and having no family fearing deportation, El Alambrista starts to step in to protect his people and to stand up for their rights.

El Alambrista: The Fence Jumper a bit of a rarity. While it is a low budget action film that harks back to the Mexican masked heroes of the 1960s and 1970s, it is also a modern film with a social conscience and one that attempts to address some of the issues surrounding illegal immigration and border control. That it manages to achieve this without falling back onto obvious stereotypes makes it a film well worth seeing.

Full review

Kung Fu Panda
½

It has to be said that Kung Fu Panda does not have the most complex plot ever set in celluloid, nor does it have the most rounded characters and the animation (apart from a superbly stylised opening sequence) is pretty much your bog-standard Dreamworks CGI. What the film does have in abundance, though, is a huge sense of fun.

Po, voiced by Jack Black, is an overweight panda working in his father's noodle shop. He is accidentally named as the Dragon Warrior and suddenly finds himself on a crash course in kung fu so he can face the ferocious, and recently excaped, Tai Lung.

What we get is a stream of slapstick silliness that really is a joy to watch.

While the film does affectionately mock some of the stereotypes of the martial arts genre, there is a refreshing lack of ironic winking at the audience. The film is also thankfully free of trite moral platitudes or irritating attempts to be anything more than it is.

Kung Fu Panda makes no attempt to be anything other than a film about a panda that does kung fu. It's not the most ambitious film ever made, but it does do a very effective job in achieving the goal that it has set for itself.

Gunheavy
Gunheavy(2008)
½

It's a pretty big claim to say that Gunheavy has more firepower than any other film in history and writer/director, Angelo Lopes is certainly ambitious, claiming on the back of the DVD that the film proves ?that inside the digital film making revolution, very impressive special effects don?t need massive budgets.? This post-apocalyptic military dystopia is certainly an audacious film and in many ways it's this sheer audacity that is the most impressive aspect of the film.

The film's background, as described and hinted at, certainly has a great deal of potential and I would like to have seen more done with this. Lopes, however, largely ignores this in the rush get to the action and to maintain an often frenetic pace.

Gunheavy does work as an action film and will certainly satisfy anyone looking for ordnance heavy thrills. The real strength of the film, however, is in the darkly stylish atmosphere that Lopes manages to bring to the screen.

Full review here

Society
Society(1989)

Gloriously over-the-top satire.Weird, surreal and totally unlike anything that had gone before. Well worth a watch.

The Horror Vault 2
½

This second film in the Horror Vault series of anthologies nimbly avoids retreading old ground by grouping the films around a theme that is very different to that of the first film. While the focus of The Horror Vault was on stories of madness and cruelty, The Horror Vault 2 turns this around to give us five darkly humorous tales with an emphasis on the absurd.

The Horror Vault 2 is a very strong anthology in its own right, boasting a collection of films that range from the good to the very good. The writing, the direction, the characterisation and the performances are consistently strong across all five films and the result is an anthology that not only deserves a place in any horror fan's collection but also one that is very rewatchable.

Moreover, the change of theme from the first film in the series to this one allows it to make the most of the anthology format while retaining a freshness for the series as a whole.

Full review here

Fighter
Fighter(2007)
½

Fighter is a very different film to your average Martial Arts flick. While the combat and training scenes are plentiful, these are not the point of the film. Fighter is a film about Aicha, a teenage girl of Turkish origin trying to find her way in Danish society. It's a coming of age story that looks at modern European cultural conflicts in a mature and intelligent way.

The script is densely packed and rich with the complexities of different cultures and generations trying to find how best to get along with each other. There are no pantomime villains here and Aicha's family really does come across as a real family trying to cope with real difficulties.

The acting is strong across the board and the fight scenes are unvarnished and suitably spectacular.

This is one of the best martial arts films I've seen in a long time and one that works very well on a range of levels.

Screamers
Screamers(2006)

Screamers is a documentary that uses the perceptions and music of System of a Down to examine why genocides keep on happening.

Initially it's a slightly odd combination of concert and documentary footage. However, once the film gets into its stride it quickly becomes a very powerful polemical documentary and its central message - that ignoring genocides will only encourage more to take place - is one that certainly bears repeating.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille(2007)

After all the hype about this film a couple of years ago, I have to admit that I was quite disappointed when I finally found the time to watch it. It's not a bad film, but it's not a particularly good film either - especially when you consider its Pixar pedigree.

A lot of the problem comes from the fact that the film seems tlo be very confused as to what it's actually about. We're constantly battered by the refrain that "anyone can cook", but the plot that centres on a character who can't cook at all. By the time they get around to clarifying the point, it's too liitle, too late and simply doesn't ring true.

Although the characters - both human and rodent - have a great deal of potential, none of them are properly developed and are two-dimensional at best, and utterly inconsistent at worst.

The film does have its moments - although Linguini's comical cooking does become more than a little wearing after a while - but the narrative is far too weak and these moments really don't hang together. The result is more a collection of well animated scenes than a film worth seeing.

Bikini Bloodbath Carwash

Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash is a horror comedy in which the women are sexy and the men are either sleazy or stupid, and often both. The film is set in and around a college, the women students of which moonlight at the Bikini Car Wash of the title and what little plot there is centres on an upcoming party organised by Mrs. Johnson (Debbie Rochon), the aggressively lesbian owner of the aforementioned car wash.

The film also has a reanimated psycho chef on the prowl and promises to be mildly titillating sex comedy with a bit of splatter thrown in. Unfortunately, none of this quite works and, although I will be interested to see what the writer/director team of Jonathan Gorman and Thomas Edward Seymour do next but, on the basis of this film, I also hope that they tighten up their script a bit.

Full review here

Azumi
Azumi(2003)

A great, fun action film with a stunning final battle. I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to watching it

Shrek the Third

The law of diminishing returns *really* bit hard on this one

The Notorious Bettie Page

In telling the story of pin-up icon, Bettie Page, The Notorious bettie page necessarily skips over much bit does a great job of capturing both Bettie's exhuberance and her sense of fun. Gretchen Mol is perfectly cast in the lead role and really dos bring her character to life, so much so that many of the scenes manage to raise a warm smile and a feeling of genuine fondness for the chararcters.

The film focusses primarily on the perfiod of Bettie's modelling career and, inevitably, the senate investigation that brought it to an end. The coverage of this investigation is both accurate and really does bring home the venal idiocy of those behind it.

Bettie Page is still an icon today and the revealing portrait of the paranoia that can be whipped up over a collection of photos is still relevant today.

The Host
The Host(2007)

Monster movies have often provided a way of talking about the concerns of the day and The Host, with it's industrial pollutuion and givernment conspiracies is no exception.

Where The Host does break with tradition is that the monster makes its appearance pretty much as soon as we're past the opening credits. But what a monster it is! If spectacular special effects are the bag that you're into, then this really is a film that you need to see.

The plot itself, however, prefers to focus on the family of one of the monster's (still living) victim and, here, it does a great job of finding a balance between comedy and tension. Although the characters are often slapstick in their behaviour, you do find yourself starting to care about them and it's this that keeps you hooked on the film.

And the ending is one of the best I've seen in a long time

The Fountain
The Fountain(2006)

The Fountain is certainly very pretty to look at but a collection of nicely shot scenes do not, on their own, amount to a film, or make a film worth watching. The problem here is that Aranofsky is so busy beating you around the head with all of his New Age inspired symbolism that he seems to have forgotten that a film needs a script.

Although the Conquistador storyline was (for the most part) reasonably well done, I couldn't make myself believe in the modern day versions of Tom and Izzy and I simply didn't care about the future Tom.

Maybe Aranofsky could have got away with this if the film had had something interesting to say. But it doesn't. What we have instead is a collection of rather uninspired platitudes about life, death, and so on being endlessly repeated without ever being expanded, extended or properly explored.

The Fountain is a slickly made, painfully self-important film, and ultimately vacuous waste of celluloid.

No Right Turn

Writer/director, David Noel Bourke has a real talent for capturing the underside of Danish society. I have no idea as to the accuracy of his portrayal of the minor criminals that populate this film, but it certainly all feels sleazily realistic.

No Right Turn is a fairy tale masquerading as a crime thriller. The film incorporates familiar themes of innocence and corruption, and guilt and redemption but, by placing these themes into a gritty modern setting, manages to become something utterly unique.

Full Review is here

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

I've just watched this film again and it's still as much fun as always. Packed with jokes and able to appeal to both children and adults without resorting to the sort of nudging-and-winking that seems to have become endemic post-shrek.

And Wallace and Gromit are such great characters.

The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai

Wonderfully surreal sex comedy about a prostitute who gets shot in the forehead. Rather than killing her, the bullet fills her mind with visions and insights - and makes her really horny. Also in the mix is the cloned finger of George Bush (who makes an appearance in the film) and the result is very silly and very funny.

Altamont Now
Altamont Now(2008)

Punk legend Richard Havoc (Daniel Louis Rivas) was born in 1969 at Altamont. In fact, he was born during the ill-fated 1969 Rolling Stones concert, documented in Albert Maysles' Gimme Shelter. At the height of his fame, in 1998, he vanished. A year later a journalist tracks Havoc and his small band of groupies to an abandoned silo deep in the Californian desert. From here, Havoc plans to put out The Call to the youth of America.

What follows is not only a very effective satire of the way in which alternative youth culture steals its rebelliousness from icons of the past, but also a film that asks what happens when a group of wannabe rebels discover that they can?t find anything to rebel against.

Full Review

Ai nu (Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan)

Set in a brothel and centring on one of the establishments inmates, Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan is a film unafraid to keep its exploitation elements at the forefront of the plot. But with its lavish sets and sumptuous cinematography, director Yuen Chor manages to make the film much more than a simple sleaze-fest and deliver a rather good revenge flick packed with overt, and very effective, eroticism.

There is much to like about this film and it does work on many levels ? as a martial arts action film, as an exploitation film with something to say about exploitation and as tragedy about love and vengeance. Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan also has a depth that is often missing from films of this genre, but it really could have done with an extra half hour to more fully develop both the plot and some of the supporting characters.

Full Review

Perdita Durango

On the face of it, this film has no likeable characters and a black humour that is often sick. But the lead characters, Durango and Dolorossa, are treated sympathetically and their characters do develop as the film progresses so that you find yourself really caring what happens and, at the end of the day, that's what matters.

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is, unashamedly, an action film. But it's an action film with something to say, about moral panics, creeping authoritarianism, about the power of symbols and about individual resistance.

The film throws up questions rather than answers, but these are questions that need to be asked and for this reason, if no other, it is a film that is well worth seeing.

It helps, of course, that the action parts of the film are all suitably spectacular.

I Drink Your Blood

From this post-AIDS perspective, the idea of an entire community being infected sexually is an interesting one and the whole disease-makes-zombies idea is one that is worth playing around with. It?s just a shame that this film does it so badly.

Conan the Barbarian

The film that launched both Arnold Swarzenegger's career and a whole slew of sword and sorcery films in the 80s. And it really is rather good.

Conan is not only gloriously violent but is also played absolutely straight, giving it a dark and intense feel. Granted, the plot is full of holes but in spite of these the film remains a wonderfully dark and gloriously violent example of the Sword and Sorcery genre and one of the few films of this genre that is actually worth watching.

The Horror Vault

The Horror Vault brings together nine films around a common theme of madness and cruelty and it's well worth looking into and one which manages to maintain a consistently high standard throughout.

If this film is indicative of the state of independent horror then the genre is in very good shape indeed.

Full review

Vampire Sisters

Unambiguously exploitative films can be a huge amount of fun but only when the people making these films have a sense of fun which they can bring to the screen. In the case of Vampire Sisters, the film feels far too much like a by-the-numbers exercise and, even with this much flesh and blood on show, the whole thing very quickly grinds to a creaking halt.

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PTU (PTU - Police Tactical Unit)

Johnny To has already established himself as one of the better directors to come out of Hong Kong in recent years and he's on fine form with this stylish crime thriller which touches on themes of honour, loyalty and friendship as it progresses, almost fatalistically, towards a genuinely explosive climax.

PTU: Police Tactical Unit may be a little light on substance, but the style of the film more than makes up for this.

Click here for more

13 game sayawng (13: Game of Death) (13 Beloved)

Falling Down meets My Little Eye in this smart and shocking horror/thriller. Not only does writer/director, Chukiat Sakveerakul have plenty of visceral observations to make about materialism, the increasingly debased nature of reality type entertainment and and the connection between the two, but the film also reflects on the rapidly shrinking nature of the private space.

More here

Two Evil Eyes

Both Romero and Argento are icons of the horror genre and, if nothing else, putting their films back to back in this anthology is a fascinating exercise in comparing the strengths of each. It helps immensely that both films in the anthology are solid entries in the respective directors' oeuvres.

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Akumu tantei (Nightmare Detective)

Over the years Shinya Tsukamoto has ranged across a variety of genres - from the mind bending SF of Tetsuo to the grimy eroticism of A Snake of June. Although both the genre and the plot can change from one film to the next, Tsukamoto's consistent reworking of similar themes and his kinetic visual style gives his films a distinct auteurial stamp that is difficult to miss. While Nightmare Detective, his foray into the horror genre, may well be the director's most accessible film to date, it is still very much a Shinya Tsukamoto film.

This time around he has merged popular concerns with internet suicide pacts with his own themes of alienation, despair and a loss of humanity. The result is a darkly ambitious film that manages to be genuinely chilling.

Full Review

Shoot Down
Shoot Down(2007)

Using a mixture of news footage and interviews, Shoot Down explores the run-up to and the aftermath of the shooting down of two civillian aircraft by Cuban Migs. It?s a powerful story and writer/director Cristina Khuly, whose uncle was one of those killed, has constructed a remarkably even-handed film.

My only real criticism is that the heavy reliance on interviews and news footage does make the narrative a lot drier than it could have been.

More here

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

An unhurried pace gives genuine depth to this surprisingly moving modern western. Well worth seeing.

Freak Out (Mesuvag Harig)

Freak Out represents a tremendous achievement. The people behind this film have come from nowhere to produce something that made it onto an Anchor Bay two disk set. The film very rarely betrays its low-budget origins and both the performances and the comic timing of the actors is pretty solid throughout.

However, it is a collection of jokes - some of which are better than others - rather than a funny film. That said, many horror fans will find much to enjoy in the films referencing of genre classics - predominantly from the 1980s - and if you enjoy a bit of juvenile humour with your gore then this is the film for you.

For the rest of us, though, I think Christian James' next film will be well worth seeing. There is a huge amount of potential here, as well as the determination to make it happen, and sooner or later these people are going to come up with something truly amazing.

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Look
Look(2007)

There are, according to Look's opening credits, approximately 30 million surveillance cameras in the US generating more than 4 billion hours of footage every week. And there are even more in the UK. These cameras are often intrusive and of very little, if any, practical value.

The rapid expansion of the use of hidden cameras is a serious issue and one that has a range of repercussions for both privacy and civil liberties and is an issue that does need to be both highlighted and discussed. Unfortunately, Look falls a long way short of achieving this

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MirrorMask
MirrorMask(2005)

Visually stunning, but the story didn't quite hold up for me.

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Midnight Eagle

A competent, if not inspired, mix of conspiracy thriller and action film.

Midnight Eagle is a bit longer than it should be, but redeems itself with a very powerful and genuinely moving climactic scene which very effectively pulls together the films themes of sacrifice and loyalty and which ? on it's own ? makes the film well worth seeing.

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UNDEAD
UNDEAD(2005)

A hugely entertaining zombie comedy that gleefully mixes it's genres. Not only is it a horror comedy, but the Spierig brothers also throw action, spaghetti western, science fiction and kung fu elements into the mix with glorious abandon.

And Marion, the local wacko who claims to have been abducted by aliens, is a truly superb hero.

Spirits of the Dead

In 1968, three of the great names of European cinema came together to make a film based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. The result was Spirits of the Dead (Histoires Extraordinaires), an anthology of three separate stories revolving around themes of lust, guilt and retribution.

Each of the three directors takes a very different approach to bringing Poe to the screen and the results range from the workmanlike to the outstanding. All three films work on their own terms and the anthology as a whole is well worth getting hold of.

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The Blood Shed

The Blood Shed is a deft homage to the exploitation films of the 1970s and early 80s and, if you've watched too many of these films, it will raise some knowing smiles. And even if you haven't, this is an experience that any horror fan will enjoy.

Click here for the full review.

Layer Cake
Layer Cake(2005)

Daniel Craig is superb as a drug dealer, looking to retire, who gets dragged into 'one last job.' And the film itself has a very effective in-your-face style.

But the script really could have done with some trimming down. There's far too much going on - all of which is laboriously explained - making the film feel a lot more convoluted than it actually is.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Fun. But I think I'd have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn't known that the film would suddenly switch genres half way through

Iceman
Iceman(1984)

Iceman is much more a drama than a science fiction film, but as a drama it is very effective indeed. The film takes an essentially simple premise and expands it into an engrossing story about the meeting of cultures and what it means to be human.

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Dune
Dune(1984)

Disappointing

Fong juk (Exiled)

A full-on action film and one that expertly makes use of all the tropes of the various action sub-genres. It is, by turns, a gangster movie, a western, a road movie and a tragedy ? and there are also plenty of dramatic and comedic moments thrown into the mix as well. Johnny To brings all of these elements together expertly to make a film that is not only spectacular but also takes a long look at modern ideas of honour and loyalty.

Click here for the full review.

The Keeper
The Keeper(2004)

In Redwood County, stripper Gina (Asia Argento) is attacked in a motel and the police are called in. Her boyfriend was killed in the attack and, after recovering and making her statement, Gina wants nothing more than to move on. However, Lieutenant Krebs (Dennis Hopper) has other ideas and kidnaps her, locking her in a cell in the cellar of his isolated house.

What follows is a battle of wits between Krebs and Gina while Sergeant Burns (Lochlyn Munro) tries to track down the missing Gina.

This film desperately wants to be a tense psychological thriller, and it isn't. It's a bit slow in places and some of the and some of the plot points made me go umm.

That said, Dennis Hopper does put in a terrific performance as a cop who's straight to the point of insanity. Argento, also, puts in a powerful performance as the victim looking for an escape and between them the two actors do manage some genuinely tense moments - especially in the second half of the film.

It's just a pity they didn't have a better script to work with.

The Protector (Tom yum goong) (Warrior King)

Very little in the way of plot, but Tony Jaa is incredible

The Horror of H.P. Lovecraft (LovecraCked! The Movie)

There have been many attempts to turn HP Lovecraft?s stories into films and many films that claim to have been inspired by him (63 according to the IMDb) and many of these have been less than successful. In that light, Elias deserves a great deal of credit for managing to bring together a well crafted and generally entertaining collection of films ? even the misses aren?t that bad ? that successfully celebrate both the writer and the spirit of independent cinema.

I?m not sure how well this film will go down with the purists, but for the rest of us it?s a fine collection of films and one that really does include something for everyone.

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Rollerball
Rollerball(1975)

Rollerball is an interesting and thought-provoking film with a truly unforgettable climax, and one that deserves to be seen. It is also a genuine science fiction film in that it attempts to extrapolate a future from present trends as opposed to the flashy CGI driven drivel that gives the genre such a bad name.

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Fah talai jone (Tears of the Black Tiger)

Tears of a Black Tiger manages to simultaneously pay homage to and parody both western and romantic films. It?s also one of the funniest and freshest I?ve seen in a long time. So much so that, as soon as I saw the film, I ordered the DVD - what more can I add?

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Willard
Willard(2003)

No-one does deranged intensity like Crispin Glover and this tale of a lonely introvert that befriends a population of rats allows him to stretch his abilities to the full. With every blink, every jump, every wide-eyed stare, we're drawn deeper and deeper into the character of Willard Stiles and his relationship with his rats - especially Socrates and Ben.

And I was amazed at how much of a personality they managed to invest in Ben. He may be a rat, but he clearly feels that Willard's alpha male role in the pack should be his. Every time Willard and Ben face off, the intelligent malevolence that Ben manages is truly shocking.

Not so much a horror film as a very dark fairy tale, this is one film that is both unforgettable and highly recommended.

Mon Oncle d'Amérique

My American Uncle is a real cinematic oddity combining documentary and drama to fashion something wholly original.

Heavily narrated, especially at the start of the film, My American Uncle takes a while to get going. But its unique combination of a very human script, solid performances and some fascinating insights into human behaviour make this a very rewarding film indeed.

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Vincent
Vincent(1982)

Vincent Price narrates the story of Vincent Malloy, a boy who dreams of being Vincent Price. All brilliantly realised by Tim Burton.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Disappointing. Not even Jim Carrey mugging like a maniac is able to cover the weak links or rescue the seriously repetitive plot.

And the rest of the characters were so bland that I really couldn't bring myself to care about any of them.

Them
Them(2007)

77 minutes of unrelenting tension. This film starts strongly and just gets better as it goes along.

There's no gore, but the pacing and the relentlessness of the film keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

Black Sabbath (I Tre volti della paura) (The Three Faces of Fear) (The Three Faces of Terror)

Three very stylish horror films in one. A Drop Of Water - the first of the three tales - is far and away the strongest, but the other two are certainly well worth seeing.

Cannibal Ferox

Putting aside the animal cruelty for a moment, which is completely gratuitous, this is a very odd film to watch. I wouldn't call it enjoyable but it does exert a morbid fascination.

It's a shame that this isn't a better film because there is a germ of a good idea in here - about the real savages being the white invaders - but the film really fails to go anywhere with this.

Tremors
Tremors(1990)

This is a fun monster movie that recalls the time when monster movies were fun.

The plot moves along at a cracking pace and provides a near perfect mix of comedy and tension that has you, by turns, on the edge of your seat and laughing out lout.

Fay Grim
Fay Grim(2007)

As a genuinely funny farce of a spy thriller, Fay Grim is a unique film. The sprawling plot is driven forward by the sharp and witty ? if occasionally exposition heavy ? dialogue and the film is held together by Parker Posey?s superb performance.

Fay Grim is smart, sexy, stylish and funny. And so is the film.

Click here for a more detailed review.

Provoked
Provoked(2007)

Provoked is based on the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia and the film is a serious attempt to address the issue of domestic violence. While it does feel a little worthy at times, the film avoids descending into sentimentality largely due to the stellar performances of the three main characters.

The real-case of Kiranjit Ahluwalia was a legal landmark that helped create a new defence in court for women suffering from domestic violence. Provoked successfully shows how one woman's courage helps fuel a national campaign that led to a change in the law.

Click Here for a more detailed review.

Pervert!
Pervert!(2005)

Pervert! is packed with jokes, which are linked together with a series of sight gags. And breasts. Not every joke works, but they come so thick and fast that for every gag that falls flat, there are always several more on the way. And breasts.

It?s a wonderfully silly sex comedy and a glorious tribute to the exploitation films of Russ Meyer that not only understands Meyer?s sense of fun, his disregard for authority and his sly subversiveness but brings it all, fully formed, into the 21st century.

Click here for a more in depth review.

300
300(2007)

To say I was less than impressed would be a bit of an understatement - the film was awful. Zack Snyder?s adaptation is faithful to its comic book source, to the point of being a literal retelling of the story. And this is where the problem lies.

A comic book tells it's story through a combination of text and static images. Trying to reproduce the text, as 300 does, in the form of a narration - which was mildly annoying to start with and became increasingly irritating as the film wore on. As for the visuals, Zack Snyder has taken many images directly from the comic and simply reproduced them in screen in glorious slo-mo.

The results are incredibly static. So much so that I was starting to get very bored indeed with watching what amounts to a series of very pretty pictures being presented one after the other.

And when boredom set in, I started thinking about the dialogue and something snapped. As with the imagery and the narration, the dialogue for 300 may well have worked more than adequately on the printed page. But on the big screen, it sounded bloated, over the top and very silly indeed.

I was torn between giving this film two or three stars. The extra star is for unintended comedy value.

Blood Diamond

I was a but disappointed with this film. It wants to be both a thriller and an issue-based drama, but what we got is a pretty straightforward action yarn that simply stops on a regular basis so that one of the characters could deliver a lecture about the dirty business of conflict diamonds.

Beyond the Gates

This has to be the most powerfully moving and emotionally draining film I have seen in a long time.

If you see no other film this year, watch this one.

Click here for a more detailed review.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

And then someone made a film just for me! The plot may leave a lot to be desired but it's a hell of a lot of fun to watch. And even after having seen it several times, the film still manages to bring me to the edge of my seat every time.

Jude Law makes a perfect square jawed hero and he and Gwyneth Paltrow have a great on-screen chemistry that perfectly matches the 1930s feel of the film.

Sky Captain is a huge amount of fun, especially if you've ever enjoyed any sort of pulp science fiction.

Constantine
Constantine(2005)

It is quite an achievement to take a character as dark and interesting as John Constantine and put him in a film this boring. They manage to do this by removing everything about Constantine's character that made the Hellblazer comics worth reading and, instead, produced a god-awful, effects driven pile of foetid dingoes kidneys.

Keanu Reeves tries to look moody, some effects happen, repeat. For two hours.

There wasn't a single point in this whole sorry travesty of a film that I managed to muster the slightest interest in any of the characters, or what might be coming next, or why.

This is a seriously dull film.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Compared to the previous Harry Potter novels, Goblet of Fire is a brick of a book. So it's inevitable that much would have to be cut in order to turn it into a film.

This film is very focussed on the tri-wizard tournament that is the main plot and the various sub-plot have been pretty much entirely expurgated. Unfortunately, a few references to these have been left in leading to a number of scenes popping up with no real explanation and that don't really go anywhere.

The film itself moves along at a fair old pace and is suitably dark. But it does feel a bit rushed in places.

Marie Antoinette

This is not so much a film about Marie Antoinette as a film about a teenager finding her way in a very unfamiliar environment. And, as long as you keep that in mind, you can have a lot of fun with this film.

The 80s soundtrack is a great touch and the film evokes both the look and feel of the court in Versailles.

Don't expect to learn any history from this film, but it's certainly worth seeing.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

With the third film in the series, the Harry Potter franchise finally gets on its feet.

Azkaban is a much more tightly edited film than its - rather flabby - predecessors, and a much darker one. There is a great deal more tension in this film and the dementors manage to be truly horrific.

The film is initially a bit uneven, but soon picks up and the climax is excellent.

Newcomers to the Potter universe, Gary Oldman and David Thewlis are both excellent and really do bring life to their characters. And Alan Rickman really has settled into his character now in a way that he hadn't in the previous two films. Even the dampest of dialogue sounds believable coming from these three.

This is the first of the Harry Potter films that is worth watching even if you don't happen to be a Harry Potter fan.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Chamber of Secrets is an improvement on the first Harry Potter film, but still fails to capture the spirit of the book and still fails to achieve any real dramatic tension.

The real problem here is that the pacing is all over the place. And, apart from a stand-out performance from Kenneth Branagh, the actors are pushed well to the side in favour of the special effects - with predictably dire results.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)

The film starts quite slowly, but really draws you in as it progresses. Figuring out how the tricks were performed was fascinating in itself, and the final reveal was superb.

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

This film represents the death of narrative cinema.

Yes, I do listen to the Kermode show

Super Size Me

Watching someone almost eat themselves to death is not a pleasant experience, but it is a very effective piece of filmmaking.

It's more than an attack on McDonalds, though, and does explore the link between our rush-everything culture and our rapidly expanding waistlines.

In short, slow down, take a walk and spend some time enjoying your dinner. Life's too short to rush.

Van Helsing
Van Helsing(2004)

An effects heavy, plot light visual spectacle.

Tank Girl
Tank Girl(1995)

It's a fun, silly film that manages to retain the anarchic atmosphere of the original comic strips.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things

An unglamorous exploration of a part of North American culture that rarely makes it onto the big screen resulting in an honest and engaging film

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Dull, dull, dull. There are not many films in which I am so bored that I start seriously considering walking out. This film was one of them.

Gothika
Gothika(2003)

The film has an interesting premise, but completely fails do do anything with it.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

I saw this for the first time on DVD recently and was struck by how much it dragged. The filmmakers appear to have tried to force every plot point and event from the book into the film with predictably messy results.

This is a film that really did need a a decent editor.

Bride of the Monster

Probably Ed Wood's best film - which isn't saying much.

Worth seeing for Bela Lugosi's "home" speech

Casino Royale

Casino Royale goes back to Bond's roots.