Reissued as part of the Superbit series, Barry Sonnenfeld’s witty and energetic spoof fields a wonderful tearning in sassy Will Smith and sardonic Tommy Lee Jones. “Searching for a handle on the moment?” asks the latter when the rookie alien investigator is first confronted with the tentacled weirdos from outer space. Fave moment: Noisy Cricket.
One of the great Sidney Lumet’s thoroughly hypnotic New York movies, where you can smell the sweat of the tension and the barely-repressed panic in the streets. An Oscar-nominated Al Pacino is in hell-for-leather form. Made in ’73 and based on Peter Maas’ book of the trials faced by real-life cop Frank Serpico, who ended an 11-year career by blowing the whistle on his colleagues, it follows Pacino as the committed crusader exposing corruption in the force. He’s abused, ostracised, and ultimately has to flee the country. Pacino relishes the scope to wrestle with his demons, destroy his love life not once but twice, and face off a superb supporting cast (including the neglected Cornelia Sharpe, John Randolph and Barbara Eda-Young). If you like watching Al do his thing for two hours, you’ll be in fan heaven, but as with Dog Day Afternoon, he’s skillfully abetted by the gritty, gripping work of a most undervalued director.
Remembered now as Michael Caine’s debut, playing a posh officer opposite Stanley Baker, Cy Endfield’s epic recreates the massacre of the Welsh redcoats by the Zulus at Rorke’s Drift. Jack Hawkins runs the gamut from demented missionary to drunk, and the battle scenes are terrific.
Banned from the 1958 Cannes Festival for slagging off French cinema, Fran
John Travolta begins his ’80s career slide as Bud Davis, a hick who migrates to Houston, falls for the honky-tonk bar scene, marries city girl Sissy (Debra Winger), loses her to recidivist Wes (Scott Glenn), and enters a mechanical bull-riding rodeo. Compelling supporting performances (especially Winger) and authentic bar footage from-director James Bridges (The Paper Chase) compensate for Travolta’s squeaky, misjudged central turn.
Unconventional, witty rom-com chooses its inspirations carefully in Woody Allen and Seinfeld. Jessica’s a New York singleton who can’t find Mr Right, and so decides to give Ms Right a fling. But she doesn’t quite know how to go about this trendy Sapphic stuff, and whenever the film veers on cheese it snaps back sharply. Surprisingly wry.
Much-imitated life-swapping comedy from ’83, back when John Landis was a hot name. Street chancer Eddie Murphy and stockbroker Dan Aykroyd switch places after a nature-versus-nurture debate, with Jamie Lee Curtis as Aykroyd’s love interest. Doesn’t aim to be anything other than broadly funny, and so largely succeeds, though it hasn’t aged too cleverly.
Early Ingmar Bergman investigation of the problems of young love in which a romantic summer idyll turns to pregnancy, marriage, boredom and infidelity. The director’s first film with Harriet Anderson, whose defiant animal vitality was the focus of the tale, it still packs an emotional punch.
After a biological warfare research lab goes tits up when a virus gets loose, plucky security guard Milla Jovovich has to fight off hordes of the living dead in this fast-paced adaptation of the video game. No faulting the SFX or the action, but all the dialogue here is irritatingly clunky exposition, and the plot lies somewhere between predictable and brain-dead.
If not, as it’s perennially voted, one of the 10 greatest films ever made, 1952’s Singin’ In The Rain is at the very least the sharpest Hollywood musical bar none. Fifty years on, it’s still as gooey a plot as they come but with a lethal dose of feel-good factor as sumptuous as its kaleidoscopic colours and Gene Kelly’s ingenious choreography, who’s complaining?
Fascinating, propulsive, inside-out account of southern Santa Monica’s badboy “Dogtown” skateboarders, their explosive mid-’70s emergence at the Del Mar Nationals, and their ultimate domination and artistic definition of their sport. Director Stacy Peralta and writer Craig Stecyk, both former skateboarders, provide access and insights, Sean Penn provides narration.
Die Hard director John McTiernan remakes the ’70s extreme-sports classic with a sledgehammer where the subtle social comment should be. Chris Klein, the poor man’s Keanu, is the Rollerball superstar learning that league-owner Jean Reno has all the morals of a snake. Loud, brash and dumb, though cameos by LL Cool J and Pink might thrill pop completists.
Third time around for Mike Myers’ sweaty secret agent send-up, and the scattergun approach means two flat jokes for every live one. Still, he knocks down your resistance through sheer quantity: part Benny Hill, part Peter Sellers (although losing the fat Scotsman would do us all a favour). Beyonc
The ‘medieval dead’ conclusion to Sam Raimi’s legendary trilogy is more action/comedy than horror, with heroic amputee Ash (Bruce Campbell) wielding his trusty chainsaw on Sumerian demons back in the year 1300. The special effects are worthy of Ray Harryhausen, and the comedy’s in a league of its own. Great fun!
In Bernard Rose’s terrific film, Danny Huston-son of legendary director John and brother to Anjelicagives one of the year’s most outstanding screen performances as charismatic Hollywood agent Ivan Beckman, a man who suddenly finds himself with virtually everything he ever wanted, only to have it brutally snatched away.
The film opens with his lonely death and the callous reaction to it from clients and colleagues at the Media Talent Agency, where he has been a star manipulator and deal-broker. In the long flashback that follows, we see Ivan’s life and relationships unravel as what is left of his career seems to him increasingly brash and eventually empty and the film moves towards its grimly moving climax.
In 2054 murder is obsolete thanks to Precrime, whose precognitive psychics enable police to arrest killers before they can kill. Then Precrime detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is himself accused of planning a murder, and only the psychic Agatha (Samantha Morton) can clear him. Spielberg’s masterful sci-fi suspense turns Philip K Dick’s short story into something Hitchcockian and technologically dazzling.
Multiple Oscar-winner (beating out Scorsese’s Raging Bull) from 1980, directed calmly (and, for some, soporifically) by Robert Redford. It’s a sombre, actorly affair in which wealthy Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore grieve for their son’s death; his brother Timothy Hutton blames and shames. An early, earnest look at the dysfunctional family: American Beauty without the laughs.
Highly absorbing film about respectable family man Vincent (Aurelien Recoing) who, after losing his job as a consultant, invents a prestigious new career and betrays close friends with fictitious investment deals. Juggling fact with fiction creates ever-spiralling tensions until Vincent’s double life closes in around him. A deceptively profound drama.
Tony Richardson’s 1961 take on Shelagh Delaney’s kitchen-sink drama of schoolgirl pregnancy is a travesty. Delaney wrote her play at 18, but its sweet sadness?heroine Jo’s taste of honey is brief indeed?is obliterated by the director’s clumping Brit-new-wave clich
Josh Hartnett again displays his unerring knack for atrocious career choices in this low-brow, lacklustre sex comedy from the sadly-declined Heathers director. Falling for a cutie he meets at the laundromat, horny Josh swears off copulation. On hearing this, countless honeys throw themselves at him, naturally. Comedy and sex don’t gel: here’s proof.