29th April 2006
12:00 AM — The pitch is not a hard one to imagine - This Is Spinal Tap meets Four Weddings and a Funeral with just a touch of Pop Idol chucked in for good measure. Nonetheless, it is a strange experience to find a film where the biggest names in it are Martin Freeman, aka Tim from The Office, and Jimmy Carr, the ubiquitous host of innumerable nostalgic compilation TV shows.But put into the Spinal Tap-style mockumentary comedic tradition the fact that the cast is largely unrecognisable to most British, let alone American, audiences is all part of its charm.
The Da Vinci Code
12:00 AM — Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is one of those novels that occasionally appears and inexplicably becomes a phenomenon. On the surface, there was nothing overly special or original about the standard airport thriller plot; the characters are all archetypes at best, stereotypes at worst, and the writing varied between bland and outright bad.Compare it with any other similar pulp thriller and there is little, if anything, to set it apart from the crowd, let alone to explain its almost unprecedented 40 million worldwide sales.
28th April 2006
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
12:00 AM — In 1987, Oliver Stone defined a decade with his superb exploration of American business that was Wall Street, yet even the devious business mastermind that was Gordon Gekko could not have dreamed up some of the things the energy giant Enron managed to get up to -and that eventually led to its downfall.The story of Enron's collapse was well covered at the time yet for many it remained a story for the business pages.
12:00 AM — Ignore the terrible 'trendy' title, because it is all part of the surprisingly intelligent yet still highly amusing and often wonderfully silly satire of this movie. Combining two of the most popular obsessions of the last few years, reality television and terrorism, may not seem like the most obvious cinematic draw, as by now we're all becoming thoroughly sick of both.
12:00 AM — Bruce Willis seems to have been playing the washed up, aging wannabe hero now for even longer than he was playing the real thing. After breaking out of television with 1988's Die Hard and becoming one of the big names of the action movie world, his best roles since playing the washed-up boxer in Quentin Tarantino's superb Pulp Fiction back in 1994 have all been very similar.
5th April 2006
12:00 AM — Happy Endings, the film that opened the 20th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, is the latest offering from Don Roos.It is a twisting and sometimes complicated tale of relationships between nine Californians. Incorporating blackmail, sperm donation, questionable paternity and long-lost parents from the director of 'The Opposite of Sex', the film explores the complexity of modern life.
4th April 2006
Keep Not Silent
12:00 AM — This film explores the difficult subject of orthodox Jewish women living in Israel who try to reconcile their deep religious belief with (the forbidden) homosexual practice. The genre was more fly on the wall documentary than feature film and focused mainly on the real life stories of two lesbian women living in the ultra orthodox religious communities in Jerusalem.The first, a single woman, seeking understanding tolerance and acceptance from her family and permission from her rabbi to live as a lesbian women and practice her religion
24th March 2006
12:00 AM — You surely cannot get much more topical and controversial than a Palestinian film about suicide bombers. Anyone who watches the news regularly will have seen and heard about little else for much of the last five years.So the obvious question many would ask is, "Why would I want to go to the cinema for this when I can just turn on the TV?"
12:00 AM — A play revolving around the depressing subject-matter of impoverished young people living in the shadow of AIDS would, to a lot of people, hardly sound like the most entertaining night out. Chuck in song and dance numbers, and it's hardly surprising that Rent has become the subject of numerous parodies - not least the memorable song "Everyone has AIDS" from 2004's irreverent Team America: World Police.
Cockles and Muscles (Crustaces et Coquillages)
12:00 AM — Cockles and Muscles is a delightful, light-hearted tale of the intricacies of modern French family life.Set in the sea side resort of Côte d'azur where mechanic father, Marc (Gilbert Melki) and his half Dutch wife Beatrix (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) take their son Charly (Romain Torres) to enjoy an idyllic summer in the house that Marc spent his youth.
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
12:00 AM — Since the success of the likes of Toy Story and Shrek, computer-animated movies have become a regular fixture of the school holiday cinema listings.From the apparent decline of Hollywood animation in the 1980s and early 1990s, new technologies have revitalised the art of feature-length cartoons, and the constant desire of parents world-wide to find something to keep their kids occupied has ensured that there is big money in the genre.
11th March 2006
The Weather Man
12:00 AM — The basic premise of Nicholas Cage as a man wrestling with the age-old dilemma of whether his family or career is more important may sound rather familiar to fans of this often brilliant, frequently erratic actor.Back in 2000, his disappointing feel-good flick The Family Man - even the title was similar - gave him a Sliding Doors-style second chance at life, where he opted for love over money.
12:00 AM — After the ridicule heaped upon actors who meddle in politics in 2004's entertaining puppet satire Team America: World Police, it is a brave Hollywood star indeed who dares to tackle the contentious world of contemporary politics.Yet as the war in Iraq reaches its third anniversary, mainstream Hollywood seems finally to be catching up with the political debates that have been raging ever since the "War on Terror" was launched in the wake of the September 11th attacks. The figurehead for this new movement is emerging in the unlikely shape of a fat, bearded George Clooney.
The Pink Panther 1
12:00 AM — You would have thought that he would have learned his lesson after reviving the classic comic character of Sgt Bilko for the screen, but it seems that Steve Martin pays little attention to critics.Having failed to do justice to American comedian Phil Silvers' most famous creation, Martin has now decided to attempt to pick up the mantle of the best-loved character of that most versatile of British actors, Peter Sellers, by donning the trademark moustache and trenchcoat of bumbling French detective Inspector Clouseau.
Tristan + Isolde
12:00 AM — The medieval romance of Tristan and Isolde (or Yseult, depending on how archaic you want to be) is these days best known thanks to the grand opera by Richard Wagner, often claimed to be one of the finest ever written.After its initial appearance during the Dark Ages, by the 13th Century Tristan had been elevated to the level of one of the knights of King Arthur's Round Table, before the tale of their tragic romance eventually evolved into that of Lancelot and Arthur's queen, Guinevere.
Imagine Me And You
12:00 AM — As soon as one film finds success with a subject previously thought not to hold any commercial appeal, movie-makers tend to run around in a desperate attempt to imitate the same previously unconsidered route to success.Gladiator shows that the historical epic can still find an audience, and within a couple of years we have the likes of Kingdom of Heaven and the upcoming Hannibal trying to cash in. X-Men does stupidly well at the box office, and the next few years sees cinemas packed out with umpteen other movies based on comic books and superheroes.
The White Countess
12:00 AM — The death of producer Ismail Merchant in May last year marked the end of an era for British film-making. As one half of the Merchant Ivory team, the "Ivory" being director James Ivory, his name has become synonymous with the kind of lavish costume drama which typified British films for much of the latter half of the 20th Century, teaming up on more than 40 film projects, including the much-loved adaptations A Room With A View (1985), Howards End (1992) and The Remains of the Day (1993). The White Countess is the last product of this partnership, which has brought more intelligent and lavish versions of literary classics to the big screen than any other.
12:00 AM — One of the major dilemmas for any fan of Hollywood blockbusters over the last decade has been how to explain what has happened to Harrison Ford. This is the man who played the two coolest cinematic characters to have merged in the final quarter of the 20th Century.This is Han Solo. This is Indiana Jones. This is also Deckard from Blade Runner, another all-time iconic film character, and a man Oscar-nominated for his starring turn in the serious and restrained Witness.
12:00 AM — Truman Capote ranks as one of America's greatest ever writers, yet today is probably best known - at least to film lovers - as the author of that classic Audrey Hepburn flick Breakfast at Tiffany's.He is also prime material for the typical Hollywood biopic - a man who rose from poverty in the deep south to the New York cocktail set, mixing with A-list celebrities and royalty while engaging in a string of doomed homosexual relationships with married men and battling drug and alcohol addictions, before dying of a drug overdose aged 59.
10th February 2006
Good Night, And Good Luck
12:00 AM — Considering that George Clooney's career started off with a pile of awful nonsense like Return to Horror High and Return of the Killer Tomatoes, and that his return to the big screen after finally getting famous with TV hospital drama ER was blighted by the disastrous campness of Batman and Robin and tedious nonsense of The Peacemaker, his successes of the last few years are nothing short of amazing.Not content with reviving both his own and director Steven Soderbergh's careers with a wonderfully charming performance in 1998's rom/com crime caper Out of Sight, he has gone on to turn in some genuinely great performances in a succession of modern classics.