Review: Alfie [1965] - dir. Lewis Gilbert

Alfie is a young man from the working classes of London. He is confident, charming, totally self-centered and very successful with the ladies; using them for his immediate pleasure without emotional involvement and leaving a trail of emotional devastation. His callousness toward these women contrasts with the delusion that he causes no harm; he is just teaching life's lessons.

London was most definitely swinging in 1966. Cutting edge fashion, mini cars and mini skirts were the new vogue, the counter culture was defining itself, the availability of medically prescribed contraceptives helped usher in the Sexual Revolution (the rest of the UK would have to wait until the 1970s) - and Director Lewis Gilbert's Alfie was released.

Review: The Big Empty [2004] - dir. Steve Anderson

JOHN PERSON (Jon Favreau) is a 30-something struggling actor living alone and facing eviction from his unfurnished apartment in Hollywood. Behind on his rent and heavily in debt, he goes against the better judgment of his pretty neighbor GRACE (Joey Lauren Adams) and accepts an unsolicited offer from his strange neighbor NEELY (Bud Cort) to courier a blue suitcase up to the desert truck stop of Baker, California.

There, in the middle of nowhere, at a seedy motel in the shadow of The World's Largest Thermometer, he'll simply deliver the locked suitcase to a trucker called COWBOY (Sean Bean) and be paid twenty-seven thousand dollars in cold, hard cash. John's given a loaded gun and told he must defend the blue suitcase with his life. It's easy money... or is it?

Review: Frenzy [1972] - dir. Alfred Hitchcock

London is terrorised by a vicious sex killer known as the neck tie murderer. Following the brutal slaying of his ex-wife, down-on-his-luck Richard Blaney is suspected by the police of being the killer. He goes on the run, determined to prove his innocence.

Hailed by many as Hitchcock's final great movie, Frenzy can certainly be described as a return to form after the disappointments of his three previous movies (Marnie, Torn Curtain & Topaz). Echoing his silent classic The Lodger from 46 years earlier and with overtones of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, but with more explicit handling of rape and murder, it is a film with a quintessential 'Hitchcockian' theme of murder and suspense by way of black comedy.

Review: Zulu [1964] - dir. Cyril Enfield

Narrated by Richard Burton and starring an outstanding Michael Caine in his first leading role, ZULU is a tense and dramatic war film about the Battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879--which was part of the Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa--where approximately 150 British soldiers held off 4,000 Zulu warriors. ZULU is an exceptionally well-made and beautifully shot film from 1964 that demonstrates the bravery of the British troops and also acknowledges the Zulu's bravery.

At last, Paramount Home Entertainment has produced the finest release in almost 40 years of Zulu -- one of the greatest historical action movies ever made, and one of the great war movies. Zulu is based on what historian Michael Glover terms "the most highly decorated battle in British history", the defence of Rorke's Drift during the Zulu War of 1879.

Review: Rag Tale [2005] - dir. Mary McGuckian

Comic adventures for a group of journalists working on a newspaper called The Rag. The tabloid reports on scandals and intrigue in a world where the real truth never stops a really good story.

I recently saw The Hoax, and one of Howard Hughes's ideas (or at least, Clifford Irving's) was to create a crisis for a man, then save him from it, and in so doing, make yourself indispensable. Such is the game-plan of the editor of The Rag, who is faced with losing editorial control (and also his job) as the Chairman decides on a new pro-Monarchy policy, being led by his wife, the current Deputy Editor. This film follows the Fleet Street power struggle, the revelations about the characters and their ultimate consequences.

Editorial: Random Thoughts #4201

< \rant >
OK so here we go, time for getting some things of my chest (or more precisely... off my head!), my head has been turning back to remakes again, probably has a lot to do with this week's release of Rob Zombie's Halloween 2, the next 6 months according to IMDB has at least 2 more remakes winging their way to the theatre, George Romero's The Crazies (I thought Danny Boyle had already done this with the 28...later movies?) and what is looking like a shot-for-shot remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (with a little bit of character generation prologue tacked on, much like Zombie's lamentable Halloween 're-imagining')... So the questions I am asking myself are:

Review: Four Flies on Grey Velvet (4 mosche di velluto grigio) [1972] - dir. Dario Argento

Roberto Tobias (Michael Brandon) is a drummer in a rock band who has noticed a man following him for the last several days. Angered by this, he confronts the stranger in an abandoned theater to find out what he wants. The man claims he does not know what Roberto is talking about, and pulls a switchblade. The two struggle, and Roberto accidentally stabs the man, who falls into an orchestra pit, lifeless.

To make matters worse, someone in a bizarre puppet mask has been hiding in the upper wings of the theater and takes incriminating photographs of Roberto holding the bloody knife. Roberto flees, but the next day he receives the dead man's ID in the mail. It becomes apparent that the masked figure has no interest in going to the police, and instead wants to drive Roberto mad with fear and paranoia. But why?

Review: Funeral In Berlin [1967] - dir. Guy Hamilton

Following on from THE IPCRESS FILE, Michael Caine returns as bespectacled spy Harry Palmer in the second instalment in the Len Deighton series. A British spy is responsible for arranging the defection of a Russian officer in charge of Berlin war security. When his plan goes very wrong, he must rely on his own Cockney cunning to escape the morass of double-dealing, intrigue and beautiful, but deadly, women.

Little did I know I'd becoming back to another Guy Hamilton film so soon after reviewing Live & Let Die, but here we are, Funeral in Berlin is the second in the series of Harry Palmer films starring Michael Caine and based around the 3rd book in Len Deighton's popular spy series.

Review: Morecambe & Wise Movie Collection [1965] - dir. Various

The Morecambe & Wise Movie Collection three-disc box set features a triple dose of films from the popular British comedy duo Morecambe and Wise. The three titles included in the collection are: "The Intelligence Men", "That Riviera Touch" and "The Magnificent Two".
The Intelligence Men [1965] is the big screen debut from popular British comedy duo, Eric and Ernie. The bungling spies attempt to go undercover in an enemy operation, however, as always with this hapless twosome, nothing ever goes as planned. Ernie is a pen pusher for the Secret Service and his friend Eric runs a cafe. When Eric accidentally encounters a summit meeting of an international criminal gang, M.I.5 decide to send the hapless pair undercover with Eric posing as "Major Cavendish". Riotous antics follow when they are assigned to protect the legendary Russian ballet dancer, Madame Petrovna, from assassins.

Review: The Last Horror Film [1982] - dir. David Winter

Vinny Durand (Joe Spinell) is a New York City taxi driver obsessively stalking beautiful horror actress Jana Bates (Caroline Munro), as she attends the Cannes Film Festival while at the same time, a masked killer begins killing off all her proteges and associates. Is the obsessed fan the killer, or is there something more sinister going on?

Let's get this out of the way from the very beginning... NEVER trust a 15 year old boy's memory of what constitutes a good movie... reasons...
  1. If it has an actress that is considered hot
  2. If it is of a genre popular at the time
  3. If their parents are guaranteed to hate it
  4. If the reviewers of the time hate it
  5. Last but not least... if it has lots of breasts jiggling around in it!

Review: Sleuth [1972] - dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Rarely has a movie with only three characters been so enthralling as SLEUTH, guided by the expert direction of Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Mystery writer and games man Andrew Wyke (Laurence Olivier) has found the next target for his mind games: Milo Tindal (Michael Caine), a nice young British hairdresser who is having an affair with Andrew's neglected wife, hoping to eventually marry her. Professing to want to release his wife to him, Andrew lures Milo to his country house to play a very nasty trick--but Andrew's trick comes back to haunt him.

Featuring a revelation viewers will have to fight to hold back when recommending this mystery to friends, SLEUTH will greatly appeal to drawing-room murder fans, who will find the movie thrilling with its unexpected twists and turns. Both the unscrupulous and unmerciful Andrew and Milo, sweet but up to Andrew's challenge, shine in each other's company, shrugging off each wicked verbal barb before zinging back another. Both Caine and Olivier are brilliant in their roles; the former was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. SLEUTH is based on the play by British playwright Anthony Shaffer.

Review: Live And Let Die [1973] - dir. Guy Hamilton

In his first turn as James Bond, Roger Moore infiltrates a gang of narcotics smugglers in voodoo-infested Jamaica. His daring exploits lead him on a number of incredible chases. Digitally restored.

OK, so how do you review a movie that has been reviewed a million times before, well that question has kept me up most of this past weekend. My first thought was to go back and describe how I first felt as 6 year old child being taken by my Dad to a small ABC cinema in Liverpool on the day of release to see my FIRST Bond film, but then I realised all I had left in my head from that encounter was velour seats, little pots of raspberry ripple ice-cream, some crocodiles and Baron Samedi... so then I looked at the option of doing it the usual way, look at the script, the actors, the action, then I had a minor epiphany and realised the only way you can ever review a Bond film is bu how it sits within the canon of the rest of the work... so here goes (it's worth a punt!!).

Editorial: Happy, Happy, Halloween...

Well October is here, that happy month that sees the leaves turn to gold, the mornings get crisper and our thoughts turn to ghouls, ghosts and all things spooky... so I thought it would be a good time to see what's coming up in the theatres to hopefully excite and inspire us into spending the price of a meal on a cinema ticket...

So as far as Halloween treats go there seems to be a poor showing this year, Saw VI heading up the pack (in budget terms only...), but with a little luck we may see the one-footed return of Cary Elwes which might make things a little more interesting, or then again maybe not... As for The Stepfather, even though I am a fan of the horror/thriller genre in general, the original Stepfather franchise never grabbed me, so I can't see this changing my mind. As for Cirque de Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, well I assume if you are going to see this you love Twilight... so enjoy...