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King Kong (2005)
The screenwriter William Goldman had a point when he said that if you're going to make a film more than two hours long, you'd better damn well be David Lean. For all its visual flair, undoubted ambition and relentless energy, this three-hour blockbuster drags badly, particularly in the frenzied middle section, set on Skull Island. It doesn't help that the surprisingly dodgy CGI keeps drawing attention to itself. Call it nostalgia if you like, but I preferred Kong when he was a stop-motion miniature in black-and-white.
By the end and I'm labelling this a spoiler, just in case there's anyone out there who doesn't know how King Kong ends I was running severely short of the goodwill that had sustained me through the first hour. Jackson makes such a meal of the finale that all I could think of was: "Hurry up and die, ya big ape." The 1933 film had heart; this version just has bombast, a huge budget and ideas above its station.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Great taboo-buster, good film
A good movie, with a stunning performance by Heath Ledger, but not really deserving of the rave reviews it's been getting. I'm guessing it's been overpraised because it's a "brave" film that breaks taboos. About 20 years ago on TV I caught a heterosexual equivalent starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. It was called Same Time, Next Year and was, I think, adapted from a stage play. In any case, it covered much of the same ground, i.e. two lovers take the occasional break together while carrying on a family life with someone else. I should mention that I find Ang Lee's films awfully slow for the most part, and lost the will to live during Ride With The Devil. By comparison, this one's fairly compelling.
Match Point (2005)
Had the plot not got livelier in the last half hour, I would have given this 1/10. Seriously, it is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It's boring, pretentious, stilted and insanely implausible, with wooden acting and the worst dialogue this side of George Lucas (who at least has the excuse of making fantasy movies). Less than two hours after I left the cinema, I'm still wondering how the man who made one of my top 25 films Sweet and Lowdown, in 1999 could have been responsible for this drivel. Woody, you have lost it, mate, and you clearly have no ear for how the British speak. So many unintentionally funny lines! "I grew up in Belgravia maybe I could show you around London?" (Oh, and it borrows from Crimes and Misdemeanors, a film I would recommend without hesitation.)
Screen One: Hancock (1991)
no actor could emulate Hancock's genius
This was a failure because of (i) the join-the-dots script, (ii) Alfred Molina's valiant but doomed attempt to recreate a comedy legend and (iii) the hilariously bad portrayal of the inimitable John Le Mesurier. Read the biographies instead.
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
read William Goldman's books!
A couple of the comments I've read here are mistaken. For a start,
the film wasn't a flop at all. Producer Joseph E Levine, who used to
finance films out of his own pocket in the days when that was still
possible, spent $22 million on it and saw it earn $4 million profit
before it was even released! (Don't ask me how - something to do
will selling to distributors country by country.)
And to those who say there are inaccuracies, don't tell that to the
screenwriter, William Goldman. He says he researched the story
meticulously and had to leave stories out because there was so
much more he could have written about.
How do I know this? From his marvellous book Adventures in the
Screen Trade and its sequel, Which Lie Did I Tell?
When A Bridge Too Far was released in America, a lot of the US
critics questioned its veracity: for instance, in the scene where
James Caan threatens the doctor. Some also remarked that Ryan
O'Neal was too young to play a general, when in fact he was the
right age for Brig Gen Gavin. But if Goldman had written dialogue
into the script to explain that Gavin was the Allies' youngest
general, it would have been like saying "don't think of pink
elephants". In other words, viewers would have assumed he'd put
it in to explain away O'Neal's casting.
For anyone who loves movies these books are required reading. If
you can, also check out Hype and Glory, half of which is about
Goldman being a judge at the Cannes Film Festival.
Broadcast when BBC Radio 1's new controller was merrily axing half of his star presenters for being too old and stuffy for a pop station, the most effective parts of this show are the thinly disguised reminders of British DJs' most embarrassing moments. At times it's more cruel than funny, and Enfield later apologised for his parody of Tony Blackburn's marital breakdown, which a distraught Blackburn shared with listeners in the 1970s.
Bulletproof Monk (2003)
the last straw!
I've been addicted to films all my life.For several years I've made a point of seeing at least 100 on the big screen each year, as well as those I watch on TV, DVD etc. Then about three months ago, while I was watching Bulletproof Monk, a thought occurred to me. Why do I sit through so many dismal movies like this? Are films getting worse, or am I getting too old for the standard Hollywood "product" now that I'm in my mid-30s? It was an epiphany for me... and as a result, I haven't been to the cinema all summer.
Gabriel & Me (2001)
upsetting for me
Writer Lee Hall's story will stick in my mind purely for forcing me to relive my father's death from cancer 18 years earlier. I was roughly the same age as the kid in the movie, and living in the North-East of England where the film is set, so I identified with him all the more. For me personally, then, the latter stages of the film were very upsetting indeed - but two year on, taking the film as a whole, I regard Gabriel and Me as mediocre and otherwise forgettable, all told.
Autumn in New York (2000)
so bad it's genuinely hilarious
If it had been on artistic merit alone, I'd have given this film a 1, but for all the laughs I've had from it, I'll give it a 7. It has the funniest sex scene ever committed to film, and don't get me started on the "there's only one doctor who can save Winona" stuff...
An Inspector Calls (1954)
Better than Stephen Daldry's version
Before he made Billy Elliot and The Hours, Stephen Daldry
directed a strangely baroque revival of this play for Britain's
National Theatre which won truckloads of awards, was hailed as
the theatrical event of the 1990s and went on to enjoy a very long
run in the West End of London.
I only wish I'd been more impressed with it when I saw it in 1999.
The unusual set design - having the Birling residence look like a
giant doll's house - was undoubtedly striking, but the whole thing
was a bit too clever-clever and postmodern for my liking and the
not very well known actor playing Inspector Goole at that time
simply didn't possess the requisite charisma.
When I caught this movie on TV the other day, it occurred to me
that Guy Hamilton's straightforward telling of Priestley's morality
tale packed a moral wallop that Daldry's version patently lacked -
and that the presence of the incomparable Alastair Sim helped