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I like going to the movies, and on this page I review films I have seen and link to information and reviews from other sources. Plus links of general interest to film enthusiasts. You may notice a tendency for the reviews I present here to give quite high ratings. There are two reasons for this: I mostly only go to see films I think I will like: and if a film does waste my time I don't want to waste any more by writing about it. But I will occasionally mention films that particularly irritate me.

I try and avoid 'spoilers' (giving away too much of the plot and spoiling your enjoyment if you haven't yet seen the film) in my short reviews: if you feel that any of these reviews do contain spoilers please
let me know!

Associated with this page is a Guestbook where you can comment on the reviews, or on the comments made by other readers.

The content on this page will gradually build up as I get around to it, but to get the ball rolling I'll start with the best film I saw last year (or in several years for that matter) which gets a perfect score and sets the standard for others to beat.

The Fifth Element

10/10

Director   Luc Besson
Screenplay   Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Story   Luc Besson
Director of Photography   Thierry Arbogast
Music   Eric Serra
Costumes   Jean-Paul Gaultier
Editor   Sylvie Landra
Cast   Bruce Willis
    Gary Oldman
    Ian Holm
    Milla Jovovich
    Chris Tucker
    Luke Perry
    Brion James
    Charlie Creed-Miles

I really loved this film, and went to see it several times. The last film that had such a big impact on me was Alien and before that 2001: A Space Odyssey. This has a lot to do with sheer spectacle: this film really requires a huge screen and a great sound system. If this sounds like I value form over content - well sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. Trying to put too much in the mix just makes a mess.

I don't have a review of my own ready yet so here are two links to reviews that I found to be reasonably intelligent and interesting. I have read some more perceptive reviews in print media, but since I am strongly against copyright violation I won't be thieving them to this page.

http://www.aint-it-cool-news.com/reviews/fifth.html

http://www.girlsonfilm.com/reviews/fifth.html

Both these sites are very good, so have a look around after reading the Fifth Element reviews.

Since making The Fifth Element Luc Besson has executive produced his friend Gary Oldman's directorial debut Nil by Mouth (and one of the stars of that film is Charlie Creed-Miles who played David in Element) and married Milla Jovovich who played Leeloo in Element.

Besson's next film will be Joan of Arc starring Milla Jovovich which begins filming in France this summer.

You can buy the Fifth Element soundtrack album here.

Milla Jovovich recorded a CD of her songs called The Divine Comedy in 1994. To find out more, or order the CD, follow this link.


Grosse Pointe Blank

8/10

Director   George Armitage
Screenplay   Tom Jakiewicz, DV Devincentis
  Steve Pink, John Cusack
Cast   John Cusack
    Minnie Driver
    Alan Arkin
    Dan Aykroyd
    Joan Cusack
    Mitchell Ryan
    Jeremy Piven
    Hank Azaria
    Todd Freeman

A wonderful black comedy which only loses points because it drags a little in the second half. John Cusack plays Martin Q Blank, a hitman who is beginning to have doubts about his work. When he gets a contract near his home town of Grosse Pointe he decides to attend the tenth anniversary high-school reunion, his first visit since Prom night ten years earlier when he stood up his date Debi (Minnie Driver).

This film features the best convenience-store-totally-destroyed-by-gunfire scene I can remember.


Roseanna's Grave

8/10

Director   Paul Weiland
Cast   Jean Reno
    Mercedes Ruehl

Another delightful black comedy. Jean (Leon, Mission: Impossible) Reno plays Marcello, a cafe owner in a little Italian village. His wife Roseanna (Ruehl) is dying and wishes to be buried beside their daughter in the village cemetary. Unfortunately there are only three spaces left, and they cannot be reserved. Reno rushes around saving lives, donating blood, snatching cigarettes from people's mouths...then people die and he really has to start working hard.

Beautiful scenery and great acting from rising star Reno and Oscar winner (for The Fisher King) Ruehl. Loses points for some incoherent plotting, although the trick ending wouldn't work otherwise.


Swingers

2/10

Director   Doug Liman
Screenplay   John Favreu
Cast   John Favreu
    Vince Vaughn
    Ron Livingstone
    Patrick Van Horn
    Deena Martin
    Katherine Kendall
    Heather Graham

I wasn't too sure about seeing this film, and when I did it was nearly the third time I fell asleep in the cinema (the two times I did were during Kagemusha and Rambo II).

The film is about a bunch of Hollywood wannabe guys partying around LA, trying to pick up women, being prats and doing guy stuff. There is an excursion to Las Vegas.

I have watched paint dry with more interest.


 



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The Fifth Element

Grosse Pointe Blank

Roseanna's Grave

Swingers

Nil By Mouth

Contact

Shooting Fish

Starship Troopers

Titanic

Wild Things

There's Something about Mary



Nil By Mouth

7/10

Director   Gary Oldman
Screenplay   Gary Oldman
Cast   Kathy Burke
    Ray Winstone
    Charlie Creed-Miles
    Laila Morse
    Edna Doré
    Chrissie Cotteril
    Jon Morrison
    Jamie Forman
    Steve Sweeney

Everyday life among violent alcoholic tattooed petty criminal Londoners. With wife-beating and drugs. And quite a lot of rain.

There's not much in the way of a plot really - we watch the characters stumble through their lives for a while and get to know them. The acting is superb. My problems with this film are firstly that many of the scenes go on just a little too long - the film is 2hrs 8min and could usefully lose 20min or so. Secondly it is depressing: true to life but depressing. But worth seeing.


Contact

5/10

Director   Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay   James V Hart
    Michael Goldenberg
    Based on the novel by Carl Sagan
Cast   Jodie Foster
    Matthew McConaughey
    Tom Skerritt
    Angela Bassett
    John Hurt
    David Morse
    Rob Lowe
    William Fichtner
    James Woods
    Geoffrey Blake
    Jena Malone

A film which should have been so much better. The first third of the film shows us how the young Ellie Arroway (played by Jena Malone) develops her interest in SETI and grows up to be a professional astronomer (now played by Jodie Foster) pursuing this goal. Finally a message is received and decoded as plans for some kind of transportation device which is to be built with international cooperation. Up to this point the film is pretty good - on track for a 7 or 8.

Unfortunately the film then meanders into a completely pointless middle section which appears to exist only to keep the beginning and end from being too close together.

The final sections of the film are better, but not up to the standard set by the start.


Shooting Fish

8/10

Director   Stefan Schwartz
Screenplay   Stefan Schwartz
    Richard Holmes
Cast   Dan Futterman
    Stuart Townsend
    Kate Beckinsale
    Nickolas Grace
    Claire Cox
    Ralph Ineson
    Dominic Mafham
    Peter Capaldi
    Annette Crosbie
    Jane Lapotaire
    Phyllis Logan
    Rowena Cooper

A hilarious escapist comedy which is much better than it ought to be. Futterman plays Dylan, a smooth talking American con man and Townsend is Jez, his shy nerdy technical wizard partner in crime. This unlikely pair are orphans with the dream of owning a country mansion. Through various illegal and hilarious schemes they have saved up two million pounds which they keep as £50 notes in booby-trapped suitcases in their home in a converted gasometer.

Beckinsale plays Georgie, who gets involved after being hired as a temp to assist in a computer scam.

After one of their schemes goes wrong Dylan and Jez are sentenced to three months in prison. Then they discover that their £50 notes will cease to be legal tender the day before they are released.

Around about this point in the film the plot goes totally off the rails and the rest of the story seems to have been cobbled together in some mad brainstorming session - but it doesn't matter. By this time the film has built up so much goodwill with the audience, and the protagonists are so likable, that we want to see them get their happy-ever-after ending.


Starship Troopers

6/10

Director   Paul Verhoeven
Screenplay   Ed Neumeier
    Based on the book by Robert A Heinlein
Cast   Casper Van Dien
    Dina Meyer
    Denise Richards
    Jake Busey
    Neil Patrick Harris
    Clancy Brown

A hyperactive violent special effects extravaganza cut through with a thread of black humour that attempts to suck the audience into complicity with its fascist heroes.

The future. The human race is united under the rule of the militaristic Federation which has provoked a war of genocidal extermination with the xenophobically labeled "bugs".

We follow some young volunteers through training and into the war. Awesome FX and extreme violence crossed with Springtime for Hitler.

I was rooting for the bugs.


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The Fifth Element

Grosse Pointe Blank

Roseanna's Grave

Swingers

Nil By Mouth

Contact

Shooting Fish

Starship Troopers

Titanic

Wild Things

There's Something about Mary



Titanic

9/10

Director   James Cameron
Screenplay   James Cameron
Cast   Leonardo DiCaprio
    Kate Winslet
    Billy Zane
    Kathy Bates
    Frances Fisher
    Bernard Hill
    Jonathon Hyde
    Danny Nucci
    David Warner
    Bill Paxton
    Gloria Stuart
    Victor Garber
Running Time   194 minutes 36 seconds

Cameron uses anachronism and the SciFi approach of his previous blockbuster successes to tell a story nominally grounded in the real-life sinking of the ocean liner Titanic. He grants human interest to the inauspicious subject by featuring a ship-board romance between Rose DeWitt Bukater (Winslet) and Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) which gives an excuse to explore the ship and the society that built it.

The historical action is framed by and intercut with present-day scenes in which treasure-hunter Bill Paxton visits the wreck (with real footage of the Titanic shot by Cameron from Russian submarines) and talks with the elderly Rose (Stuart). This device allows Cameron to fit in some necessary exposition and to contrast the technological and social development of the two eras.

A near-perfect piece of popular film-making lacking only a little in tension (after all, we know the ship sinks).


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The Fifth Element

Grosse Pointe Blank

Roseanna's Grave

Swingers

Nil By Mouth

Contact

Shooting Fish

Starship Troopers

Titanic

Wild Things

There's Something about Mary



Wild Things

8/10

Director   John McNaughton
Screenplay   Stephen Peters
Cast  
Ray Duquette   Kevin Bacon
Sam Lombardo   Matt Dillon
Suzie Toller   Neve Campbell
Sandra Van Ryan   Theresa Russell
Kelly Van Ryan   Denise Richards
Gloria Perez   Daphne Rubin-Vega
Tom Baxter   Robert Wagner
Ken Bowden   Bill Murray
Running Time   111 minutes

Sam Lombardo, a handsome student counsellor at Blue Bay High School is lusted after by Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards from Starship Troopers), cheerleader and poor-little-rich-girl. She visits his home on a pretext and leaves in tears. Later she tells her mega-rich widowed mother that Sam raped her. Sandra Van Ryan uses her power and influence in Blue Bay to ostracize Sam. His high-class girlfriend ditches him and one of Sandra's lovers runs him off the road and beats him up. The only lawyer willing to take his case is downmarket Ken Bowden. Then another student, dope-smoking swamptrash Suzie Toller, comes forward to accuse him of raping her too.

The trial comes less than half way through the film and a surprising revelation quickly moves the plot in a new direction.

With the set-up out of the way the film moves into high gear with money, blackmail, betrayal and conspiracy at every twist and turn.

Even during the closing titles some short revelatory scenes add to the plot twists.

Dark, funny and sleazy.

Visit the film's homepage at
Wild Things and get screensavers for Mac or Windows.


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The Fifth Element

Grosse Pointe Blank

Roseanna's Grave

Swingers

Nil By Mouth

Contact

Shooting Fish

Starship Troopers

Titanic

Wild Things

There's Something about Mary



There's Something about Mary

7/10

Directors   Peter Farrelly
Bobby Farrelly
Screenplay   Ed Decter
John J. Strauss
Peter Farrelly
Bobby Farrelly
Cast  
Mary Jenson   Cameron Diaz
Pat Healy   Matt Dillon
Ted Stroehmann   Ben Stiller
Tucker   Lee Evans
Dom   Chris Elliot
Magda   Lin Shaye
Sully   Jeffrey Tambor
Mary's mom   Markie Post
Mary's Stepfather   Keith David
Warren   W. Earl Brown
Running Time   118 minutes 56 seconds

Rhode Island, 1985. High School senior Ted Stroehmann intervenes when bullies start picking on a young mentally handicapped man. He turns out to be the brother of the beautiful Mary who asks Ted to be her date for the Prom. He has an unfortunate and hilarious accident with his zipper in her parents' bathroom and is rushed to hospital. Mary's family moves soon after and Ted doesn't see her again.

Thirteen years later Ted is still fixated on Mary, and on the advice of his friend Dom he hires sleazeball private Detective Pat Healy to find her. Healy locates Mary and Warren in Miami but falls for her himself. He tells Ted she is an obese mother of four living on welfare and returns to Miami. Undeterred Ted also sets off for Miami...

A coherent romantic plot underpins this outrageous comedy and makes it much more than a collection of (often hilarious) gags. Although the humour uses subjects like disability, masturbation, gays and breasts it doesn't do so in an ugly or mean-spirited way.

Rude, crude and laugh-out-loud funny.

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The Fifth Element

Grosse Pointe Blank

Roseanna's Grave

Swingers

Nil By Mouth

Contact

Shooting Fish

Starship Troopers

Titanic

Wild Things

There's Something about Mary



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Some more movie related links:

Hollywood Online

aint-it-cool-news

Girls on Film

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The Fifth Element

Grosse Pointe Blank

Roseanna's Grave

Swingers

Nil By Mouth

Contact

Shooting Fish

Starship Troopers

Titanic

Wild Things

There's Something about Mary