Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
UFO's: The Secret Evidence (2005)
Sanest UFO documentary ever
Nick Cook is a leading aerospace journalist with a particular interest in secret military "black projects". He brings a lucid eye to the subject of UFos and concentrates on the view that they may well be man-made flying craft with a history stretching back to the famous "Foo Fighters" of World war 2.
During the course of the show, he also visits the Weceslas Mine in Poland with its discoverer, Igor Witkowski. Cook's best-selling non-fiction book "The Hunt for Zero Point" contains a fascinating chapter on Witkowski's claims that this mine hosted an ultra-top secret SS research project during the second world war that was looking into anti-gravity and exotic physics.
My one criticism of this documentary is that it crams in so many fascinating ideas that deserve to be covered in greater depth. Cook definitely has the material for a whole series, and I'd love to see him do a whole episode on Foo Fighters, another on the Nazi Bell project, etc.
Strangely forgotten, ambitious film
My wife and I finally got around to watching this R1 purchase we made a couple of years back of an ambitious film that sank without trace in both cinemas and on DVD.
Has anyone seen it? It really is worth seeking out. My better half thought it was excellent, and while I'm just too much of a fan of Conrad in general and this novel in particular to share her view, I definitely enjoyed it.
Willem Dafoe and Irene Jacob are actors who always leave me cold, but Sam Neill and Rufus Sewell (whom I cannot abide normally) are both great as the villains. The production detail is flawless in conveying Indonesia just before the First World War, and the scenery and photography is beautiful. particularly effective is the island where Dafoe's character lives as a recluse with its tropical villa and abandoned wharf and coal mine. The score, too, is very strong.
There's rather too much narration (from the always excellent Bill Paterson, though) and Simon Callow gives a performance that is hammy even by his standards, but, mercifully, is hardly in it.
Richard Lester and Harold Pinter were developing a version of this in the 1980s, which was never made.
Poor, yet not as bad as Caine says
I saw this recently with my wife and discovered it's better than Caine believes, although it's not much cop. Britain's greatest ever screen actor does not seem too interested in this role, which is a pity as he might have elevated it with more conviction in his playing. Rex Harrison seems even less bothered, perhaps unsurprisingly, as his character is very poorly written. William Holden is better, but his screen time is fleeting and, again, his character is not well scripted.
Beverly Johnson is as beautiful a woman as I have ever seen, but is given very little to do, the film might have gained a great deal by concentrating more on her story. Ustinov steals the show, but basically by playing a comic character quite out of keeping with the film's serious tone. The music is poor and Omar Sharif makes one of his many pointless cameos (his career has been based on this for decades now).
Richard Fleischer has to be blamed for not directing this more effectively, he was an infuriatingly unpredictable film director, and this is one of his weaker movies.
One of the finest BBC children's serials ever
I saw this both times when it was shown - when I was around 10 - and it started a lifelong devotion to John Buchan. As a working class Scottish kid, I could barely believe that I was watching a brilliant historical adventure story that featured heroes who came from my background and who weren't much older than me. All of the lads in my class at school loved it, too. The magnificent performance by the young actor who played Dougal, the leader of the Gorbals Diehards, still stays with me as a superb performance by a boy actor, and he captures much of the warrior-leader genius of the character from the novel.
The old guy who plays Dickson McCunn was also brilliant, too, as the elderly, mild-mannered retired grocer who discovers he's actually a hero. The memory of the final scene of the six Diehards saluting him as he drives past them still brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye.
Finally, David Wood as Sir Archibald Roylance is another great portrayal of a Buchan hero. (Wood was also the greatest ever Gollum - forget Jackson's LOTR in "The Hobbit" as adapted by "Jackanory".
I wish this would come out on DVD or be repeated so my own sons can see it.
Winter Kills (1979)
Massively disappointing conspiracy thriller
With an absolutely amazing cast and crew, this might have been a classic. Instead it is a repetitive paraphrasing of all the conspiracy theories extant in 1979 about the JFK assassination grafted, rather pointlessly, on to a vaguely incoherent plot about the murder of fictitious president Kegan in 1960. Many superb character actors are wasted as they are either not given enough to do - Sterling Hayden or Eli Wallach, for instance, or they are asked to go rather luridly over the top - John Huston. Jeff Bridges and Anthony Perkins do manage to acquit themselves very well, in their very different ways, though.
The photography is gorgeous, but does not justify an hour and a half of your life, or the price of the DVD purchase.
Skilled, innovative and effective ghost story reworking
Unfortunately, I never saw this "live" on its original transmission, so I don't really know whether or not I would have been fooled into believing it was genuine. Nevertheless, this really does stand up well as a first class modern re-imagining of a haunted house story. Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith and Craig Charles are all very believable as themselves, and so too is the skeptical American physicist. The parapsychologist suffers from some dialogue - albeit not much - that just does not ring true "He's the last of the materialists" for instance. There have been some criticisms of the mother and daughters; I did find the girls rather false, but thought the mother was much more convincing.
Anyway, the question is now whether this is a fine ghost thriller now, even though everyone knows it was a filmed drama. I believe that it most certainly does enthrall the modern, clued up viewer and provides some real chills that take it well beyond the annoyingly dull, juvenile and amateurish antics of "The Blair Witch project".
The Awakening of Gabriella (1999)
tasteful romantic and sexy film for couples
If you're after hardcore scenes, this is not your film. If you're looking for exceptionally beautiful women and very handsome men looking fabulous in romantically arousing scenes to watch with your loved one, then get this film now. My wife and I loved it. Susan Featherly comes across as gentle, innocent, real and lovely (with one of the most beautiful noses in the world) as the heroine coming to terms with a more sophisticated lifestyle. The leading man is handsome and distinguished. The supporting actresses Taimie Hannum and Jeannie Millar are absolutely stunning. the maid looks ravishing in her uniform and it would have been great to see more of her. Lovely clothes, sets and photography, beautiful people and nice music make for sexy, subtly exciting viewing.
Memorias del ángel caído (1997)
Superb, subtle and deeply haunting occult drama
Some of the very finest actors in Spain star in this superb gem. It is a genuinely unsettling drama that investigates the effect of matters Satanic on an "ordinary" Catholic parish.
Highly recommended to all fans of "The Name of the Rose" "Crimson Rivers" or "The Exorcist" films - although it's a great deal more believable than any of them.
This film in many ways prefigures the great run of sophisticated Spanish horrors of recent years, like "The Others" "Abre Los Ojos" "Los Sin Nombre" and "Darkness".
Fantaterror fans should also check out films like "Intacto".
I love it when the French turn out enetrtaining blockbusters: Crimson Rivers and Vidoq spring to mind as examples of very good populist entertainment.
This sequel, though, failed for me at almost every level: thee greeat Jean Reno sleepwalks here, not that he has anything to do anyway, and he even seems to be playing a character with a comp`letely different personality to the one he had in the first film.
The direction and editing both suffer from the dreaded diseases of modern action films: lack of narrative clarity and far far far too many quick cuts that simply leave the viewer confused as to what is going on.
The script is weak, but what can we expect from Luc Besson who has not been involved in any even passable film since "Leon" (itself rather over-rated, but with several excellent features)?
Vincent Cassell is sorely missed. The great Christopher Lee is wasted.
The only thing I liked about the film was the use of the Maginot Line (once considered as a possible secret base for Blofeld in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service), but even then the visual atmospherics potentially available were not effectively exploited.
Quatermass 2 (1957)
Tense and intelligent Brit sf thriller that influenced "X-Files
A superb script by unsung genius Nigel Kneale; very good direction by Val Guest; atmospheric photography; eerie music; several very good acting performances. The only drawbacks are that Brian Donlevy is awful as Quatermass and the special effects at times look a bit laughable.
Most intriguing of all is just how similar "The X_Files" is to this. There are various sites on the internet claiming that the creators of "Files" plagiarised this (and other Nigel Kneale films/TV series).
You can certainly see many remarkable coincidences.
Overall, a highly enjoyable, thought-provoking and influential film.
The Stone Tape (1972)
Greatest ever TV ghost story
The writer who conceived this masterpiece, Nigel Kneale, is the most brilliant living writer of supernatural fiction. Were it not for the fact he has mainly written TV scripts, he would be hailed as the new Algernon Blackwood.
This BBC TV drama from the early 70s is one intelligent, subtle and utterly disturbing. It is very well directed and (mainly) well acted but it is the power of Kneale's genius as a writer that elevates it to greatness.
I understand it is soon to be (or is now?) available on a BFI DVD, well worth seeking out.
Little Voice (1998)
Great songs disguise a bad film
Highly Over-rated. Brenda Blethyn is virtually unwatchable. Ewan McGregor is not much better, neither is jane Horrocks (except when she's singing). Michale caine manages to salvage some dignity, but the film is the usual insult to the Bristish working class from the English film-making class.
Blood and Wine (1996)
Michael caine is extraordinary - film is so-so
Michael Caine gives one of his greatest performances, and that really is saying something. How many times have you seen someone overshadow CJck Nicholson? Well it happens here. Caine's character is at times pathetic, at others funny, and at others deeply nasty, and always believable.
Jennifer Lopez looks astonishing in this but her character is a cypher. The script is so-so, as is the direction, but it is worth watching once for the Caine masterclass.
Mona Lisa (1986)
Not a great film, but Caine is superb
watch it for the moment when Michael Caine tells Bob Hoskins to "f*** off". It is one of the finest examples of intelligent deployment of swearing in a film. Tarantino and disciples please take note; I'm tired of endless, witless profanity in modern movies.
Get Carter (1971)
nasty, but impressive
It is not pleasant viewing, but Caine is immense in it, and is well-supported by a cast of British notables (Osborne, Hendry) and familiar faces from British TV.
Good to see Mike Hodges has recently made an impact again with "Croupier". watch out, too, for a young and sexy Britt Ekland in the notorious phone-sex scene.
The Last Valley (1971)
Extremely intelligent, well-made historical film
It's a mystery why this film is not better known. It has a magnificent cast; a fascinating setting, a fine script and it is superbly filmed in its European locations. As a microcosm of European society at the time of the 30 Years War it is impressively erudite, yet it is also a highly accessible epic drama, even if you are not particularly interested in the historical background.
The Italian Job (1969)
One of the most entertaining films ever
What more could you ask: Michael Caine on top form; a brilliant supporting cast of oddballs; some of the wittiest most exciting action scenes ever; great settings; a fab 60s score and song by Quincy Jones; unforgettable dialogue and, to cap it all, one of the finest endings in the history of cinema.
The Avengers (1998)
A mixed bag
It starts well: the ministry assault course Steed has to undergo and the meeting of world villains disguised as giant teddy bears. The casting looked great Fiennes, Thurman and Connery. Some great costumes and art design. So why was it a disappointment?
the director was wrong, for a start. the script was weak to mediocre. Connery was absolutely wasted. The supporting villains were rubbish: useless English micro-celebrities with no style or acting ability. The mighty "Avengers" theme was hardly used. There was far too much nonsense involving Mother and Father (characters from the weakest ever Avengers period).
It also degenerated into the kind of dull, predictable action shenanigans we see in all Hollywood films these days. Oh, and there was a pointless cameo from original Avenger patrick MacNee.
In about 20 years, someone might be able to have a go at making a genuinely good Avengers film.
Amazing cast: Connery returns; the great Michael ironside (one of the most under-rated screen villains ever); and the lovely Virginia Madsen (one of the most underused screen beauties who really can act) are all wasted.
It doesn't make any sense and it is badly directed. What a letdown
Breaking the Waves (1996)
Vile, inept and pretentious
This film is horrendous. It is deeply insulting to the religious beliefs of the people of the Scottish islands and highlands. Emily Watson's performance is deeply insulting to people with learning difficulties. She is a terribly over-rated actress, anyway, but the twee, silly way she acts shows that neither she not the director have made any attempt to get to know any real people with learning difficulties.
It features many nasty and unpleasant scenes and shoddy film-making, which heralded the way for the Dogma - emperor's new clothes - style of making bad films. There is an irritating use of famous, inappropriate pop songs and an absurd ending.
Strange Days (1995)
Deeply unpleasant film
Angela Bassett is the only person who comes out of this nasty film with any credit. She comes across as strong, complex and utterly gorgeous.
Juliette lewis is appalling in this, and most of the rest of the cast aren't much better, I'm afraid, even though some of them are fine actors.
Who do we blame? Katherine Bigelow and James Cameron, I'd suggest.
La reine Margot (1994)
This is a magnificent film - far superior to the more recent and famous film "Elizabeth".
It has everything: a star who is not only a superb actress, but who happens to be the most beautiful woman in the world! The supporting cast is great: Vincent Perez and Daniel Auteil are particularly noteworthy. Direction is first class, the music is awesome and the atmosphere of the film is rivalled by few other films- "The Name of the Rose" springs to mind.
An extremely intriguing and very brave blockbuster
This is the most intelligent and interesting film in the series. The first two are very good and quite good respectively, but I do feel they are over-rated. This film, in contrast, deserves a much better reputation than it has gained. It is atmospheric, dark, bold, different and intelligent. I agree, though, that it does suffer from the obvious removal of "less commercial" , ie, more intelligent scenes.
I'd really love to know what Vincent Ward would have produced if he had been allowed to direct his even bolder and more complex vision for "Alien".
Total Recall (1990)
Not bad, but Michael Ironside is the film's real star
Yet again, the great Canadian cult actor steals a major film. Why isn't this man recognised as one of the great sinister screen presences? He is definitely comparable to cinema legends like Jack Palance when it comes to emanating menace and he is a fine actor to boot. Ronny Cox, as his evil boss, also gives a fine, and subtle, performance. Sharon Stone has never been this good before or since.
The Killing (1956)
One of the best and most influential crime films
Remember the really clever structure of "Reservoir Dogs" that wowed everyone a few years back? It came from this early Stanley Kubrick masterpiece.
Remember Michael Madsen's smirking psycho in "Reservoir Dogs" that stunned everyone back then? He is as nothing to the unique Timothy Carey's smirking psycho in "The Killing".
This really is a must see: a fantastic cast of character actors play the ill-assorted, and ill-starred, misfits trying to rob a racecourse. Their leader is the immense Sterling Hayden - you'll recall him as the insane General Ripper in Kubrick's "Dr Strangelove" and the corrupt Irish police captain who breaks Al Pacino's jaw - and pays for it - in "The Godfather". Well, this film gives him another of his great roles and he's magnificently supported by his motley gang members or enemies, played by people like Marie Windsor and Elisha Cook - film noir scene stealers one and all.
Then there is the tough, concise dialogue by crime genius Jim Thompson and the stunning direction, photography, editing, and stagings by the master himself, the greatest film-maker ever - Stanley Kubrick.