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Film Reviews

  • 26th October 2007

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

    5:10 PM — One of the most anticipated films of the autumn, The Assassination of Jesse James has nonetheless been a long time in coming - nearly as long as its title, in fact.Originally set for a 2006 release, with filming completed more than two years ago, despite rave reviews from test screenings for the central performances of Brad Pitt (as James) and Ben's little brother Casey Affleck (as Ford), the fact that the film is a Western seems to have given the studio a number of concerns.

  • Fred Claus

    5:10 PM — One of the major benefits of the spread of the internet and the boom in movie piracy has been that the big American studios have finally begun to release their films world-wide at approximately the same time. Whereas in the bad old days us poor consumers from the UK market would end up getting Christmas movies in February or March, the studios following their old pattern of staggering European releases until a good three months after the American box office had had its fill, or even have to wait until the following Christmas, those nasty pirates have forced the studios' hands.

  • 29th September 2007

    The Kingdom

    9:30 AM — Thanks to the generally pro-Britain approach of the United States in the early years of the Second World War, Hollywood began producing movies about the war long before America even entered the conflict - all staunchly pro-Allies.It wasn't until the mid 1960s that any Second World War films began to emerge that were even vaguely critical of any Allied soldiers, or that dared to suggest that, well, maybe it wasn't quite as simple as "all Germans and Japanese are evil" as the movies seemed to make out.

  • The Heartbreak Kid

    9:30 AM — In the late 1990s, it looked as if the Farrelly brothers were the next big thing in Hollywood comedy. First came the bizarrely braindead Dumb and Dumber then the more intelligent yet equally weird Kingpin, both of which made decent amounts of money and built up keen fanbases that adore them to this day.But the real clincher was 1998's There's Something About Mary - one of the most influential comedies of the decade.

  • The Invasion

    9:30 AM — In today's world of increasing paranoia over the creeping powers of state surveillance, where parallels to Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Red Scares of the 1950s are made in the West's liberal press on an almost daily basis, it seems a fairly obvious choice to look to old Cold War parables for sources to rework for the present day.But in hunting them out, it seems rather bizarre to opt for one of those that helped add to the paranoia, rather than point out the insanity of the situation.

  • Ratatouille

    9:30 AM — Despite the vast majority of modern computer-animated children's films revolving around talking animals being derivative and uninspired, with even the latest Shrek movie having lost much of the lustre that made its predecessors so much fun, every now and then the genre still throws up the odd gem.With the behind-the-scenes talent involved in this latest outing from animation giants Disney and Pixar - notably writer and co-director Brad Bird, the chap behind the entertaining The Incredibles and superb The Iron Giant - the signs were always good.

  • Stardust

    9:30 AM — The second directorial effort from British producer Matthew Vaughan, who prior to his debut with Layer Cake in 2004 was best known variously as the best mate of director Guy Ritchie or the husband of supermodel Claudia Schiffer, is a surprising change of direction.After all, Vaughan started out closely associated with the late-1990s revival of the British gangster movie after successfully shepherding Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to worldwide success.

  • Rendition

    9:30 AM — After the high-octane actioner The Kingdom earlier this month, now we get the more subdued, darker side of the war on terror with Rendition.Picking up on one of the most disgraceful aspects of America's current counter-terrorism strategy, it is an overdue high-profile bit of publicity for an aspect of the current war that has received far too little attention from both press and public alike.

  • Sicko

    9:30 AM — Michael Moore's stock has fluctuated wildly over the last six or so years. Where in the late 1990s he held a modest reputation as a documentary filmmaker, in the UK he was barely known.After all, his breakthrough documentary Roger Me - a 1989 investigation into the impact of outsourcing jobs to foreign countries in his hometown of Flint, Michigan - seemed to be looking at problems far less serious than those facing people in post-Miners' Strike Britain on the eve of the Poll Tax Riots.

  • The Lookout

    9:30 AM — The directorial debut of screenwriter Scott Frank, unsurprisingly also the writer of this intriguing thriller, is something that fans of intelligently constructed films should be anticipating with relish.Best known in Hollywood as a script doctor, working on films as diverse as Minority Report and The Interpreter, it is for two solo screenplays based on Elmore Leonard novels for which film buffs should thank him.

  • 1st July 2007

    No Reservations

    5:10 PM — This latest film outing is the first in a glut of new movies for the former Darling Buds of May star, who has managed to become one of the most successful female British stars in Hollywood over the last ten years or so. Though coming up to her 38th birthday, so nearing the age where Hollywood traditionally begins to lose interest in actresses known for their good looks, she's still just as stunning as ever, and still seems to be in much demand, despite her last couple of big screen outings having come in for a bit of a critical mauling.

  • Run, Fat Boy, Run 1

    5:10 PM — Americans seem to have had a long, special kind of reverence for the British sense of humour. Be it the slapstick Vaudeville antics of London boy Charlie Chaplin, the surreal sketches of Monty Python, or the more recent Stateside superstardom of Sacha Baron Cohen and Ricky Gervais, when America takes to British humour, it takes to it big time.Little wonder, then, that after the insane successes of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg is now considered a hot comedy property with serious potential to make it big in the US.

  • Atonement

    5:10 PM — For the last three decades, Ian McEwan has been at the forefront of the British literary scene - a multiple prize-winner and author of innumerable critically-lauded books that have seen him inducted into the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and even given a knighthood.His very first collection of short stories won the Somerset Maugham Prize back in 1976, and considering Maugham's long association with Hollywood it is perhaps only fitting that McEwan's Booker Prize-shortlisted 2001 novel Atonement should now receive the movie treatment.

  • 3:10 to Yuma

    5:10 PM — Back in the 1950s, it was practically impossible to go to the cinema without being confronted with posters for movies about men in wide-brimmed hats with six-shooters at their waists.Where today it's science fiction and superheroes dominating the box office, with every other film seeming to have some kind of fantastical computer-generated special effect or other, in the fifties it was the Western that was king.

  • A Mighty Heart

    5:10 PM — Six years after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Hollywood has begun to gear up to critical approaches to the War on Terror. In the last couple of years we've had the sentimental looks at the attacks themselves in World Trade Center and United 93; now A Mighty Heart takes us into the aftermath, and the impact of America's swift response. Over the next 12 months will come a glut of films looking at life in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the machinations behind the scenes in the world's latest war.

  • Death Proof

    5:10 PM — Sometimes even the biggest names in cinema can get it wrong. When uber-producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein - the chaps responsible for such mega-hits as Sin City, Chicago, Cold Mountain, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill - decided to team up with best buddy directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez to create the ultimate cool, experimental cult movie, few would have predicted an impending commercial disaster. Though Rodriguez and Tarantino may not be to everyone's taste, they each have a vast and loyal fanbase - a smash hit seemed all but inevitable.

  • Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution

    5:10 PM — Catherine Tate is a bizarre phenomenon. Her rise over the last few years has been so rapid that the expression "meteoric" seems to have been made for it.She's now a big enough name that pretty much everyone in Britain has surely heard of her, but for those who haven't watched her BBC2 comedy sketch series, modestly entitled The Catherine Tate Show, the precise nature of her talents seems a little vague.

  • Michael Clayton

    5:10 PM — This latest outing from George Clooney is another of the character pieces in which he is beginning to specialise - a close study of one flawed man up against overwhelming odds.After taking on similar parts in the likes of Syriana and The Good German, and having directed films revolving around the same basic concept in Good Night and Good Luck and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, it seems that this is becoming Clooney's personal trademark.

  • Knocked Up

    5:10 PM — A film that stars a bunch of people you've probably never heard of and that's quite explicitly a romantic comedy is not one that would normally be cause for much excitement.Romantic comedies - in fact, comedies full stop - rarely seem to get the critics too excited. It's been ten years since anyone got an Oscar for starring in a romantic comedy, and that was Jack Nicholson, one of the most award-laden screen actors of all time, for As Good As It Gets.

  • 1408

    5:10 PM — It's doubtless a little harsh to put John Cusack in the same league as the likes of Ben Affleck in terms of career dives. He has, after all, been making at least a couple of films a year for the last few years. But at the same time, it's hard not to feel that none of them have really lived up to the hype that surrounded him towards the end of the 1990s. As the new century dawned, Cusack seemed to be the new darling of Hollywood. The masses adored him in the likes of High Fidelity and Gross Point Blank, and his experimentally bizarre turn in Being John Malkovich showed that he was more than willing to take risks.

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