Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971 USA)

Roald Dahl’s Grimm-like book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” gets a careful, pointed musical treatment here, involving five Golden Ticket-winning children who get to tour a mysterious chocolate factory–at their own expense. Turns out the journey is a test of their personalities and upbringings, and while the film is a little presumptuous to suggest that the poorest child may be the most noble and honest (as if all rich kids are rotten). This must be in the top 10 of the most entertaining films of the last 100 years. Few people haven’t seen this. [Read more…]

The Untouchables (1987 USA)

“Surprise is half the battle, Mr Ness.” “Many things are half the battle…losing is half the battle!” Thank you Netflix for jogging my memory by adding this to your schedule. OK, my boot-licking to the corporate monster over, “The Untouchables” is one the most complete films of the 1980’s and one of the highlights of Brian De Palma’s quirky career. This is an Untouchable classic. It has a great ensemble cast, the 1930’s period re-enactment is excellent, the magical music by Ennio Morricone is top hole. If you didn’t see it because you weren’t born/on drugs/in jail in ’87, you must see it now. And yes, it is pretty corny at times. [Read more…]

Pulp Fiction (1994 USA)

PF is sick slop geared towards video store geeks. Why is this flick so bad? Its like asking why is Barbra Streisand so ugly? She just is. Pulp Fiction, similarly, is a byword for cheap, profane nastiness. Watching this causes your brain to shut off for two and a half hours while a man with a God complex strokes his ego. I can understand to some extent why it is so popular. And as for padding Quentin did achieve something remarkable: every awful stretch of dialogue is dragged out as long as it will last, and then some. It’s as if Tarantino said to himself “I think I can cram two more f words and one more line about milkshakes in here”. [Read more…]

Carry On Henry (1971 Britain)

A curiously neglected entry, perhaps as it was made in a period when the series had generally started to go into decline, but in my view it’s one of the best of all, certainly in the top three. The historical outings were usually among the team’s funniest, and Talbot Rothwell provides perhaps his most audacious script with a real plot, told in his trademark puns and double entendres, but with a real abundance of panache and wit, attaining an almost poetic quality. Here the great tyrant, Henry VIII, is kinky haired Sid James – a pint-sized, dirty old man with a mug only a mother could love – chasing tavern wenches and princesses alike. [Read more…]

The Blob (1958 USA)

Hardly substantial enough to be a guilty pleasure, let alone a cult film: a giant quivering mound of raspberry (or is it blackcurrant?) jelly chasing – and often catching – fleeing, highly respectable teenagers on a weekend night. From the moment we hear Burt Bacharach’s opening theme song “Beware of the Blob!” we know we’re in for a good, solid, campy light hearted fun. Refreshingly free of any scientific investigation/jargon. I like to watch this stuff for historical reasons: the 50’s cars, teens in high collar shirts and high pants, crime-free suburbia, Polio posters, proper girls, crooked teeth, chess games, super friendly cops… [Read more…]

You Only Live Twice (1967 US/UK)

As I watched “You Only Live Twice,” I developed a nostalgia for many scenes that made the older Bond films work so well. One of the great things about “You Only Live Twice” is that it has the confidence to be quiet. Take Bond’s conversation with Henderson (Charles Gray). Bond walks into Henderson’s home, he asks his contact a few questions, an interesting conversation between the men ensues and then Henderson freezes. Someone threw a knife into his back. “North by Northwest,” also has a man unable to reveal a crucial piece of info because he is suddenly killed. And you know what? Between you, me and the gate post, these scenes never get tired/worn. They are what separates the old world of film from the new. [Read more…]

Dracula A.D. 1972 (United Kingdom)

(I dedicate this post to Peter Cushing, who always maintained his dignity even when his hands were full.) Moving on…no prizes for guessing which year this baby was released. T’was a leap year in horror. A vintage year for being a vampire trapped in St Bartolph’s churchyard, London. Although it feels slapdash, with its day-as-night shots, total lack of continuity and sloppy script, this film succeeds as a comic masterpiece. A bit like the Beatles disastrous Let It Be sessions, Hammer’s Dracula run-at-the-top was also nigh. Right nigh. And there was little Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee could do to stop the rot except to throw as much middle aged, Anglo-Saxon gravitas at the latest concotion they had found themselves roped into. [Read more…]

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017 USA)

OK, this is probably just a huge cynical money grab, but at least its a Batman comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it suitable for people who don’t particularly like Batman. It’s fun and lighthearted. And most importantly, it has the re-watch factor strongly going for it. You will have to watch it again to catch all of the jokes and zingers you missed the first time around. It spoofs the Batman mythology, but respects it at the same time.  [Read more…]

The Killers (1964 USA)

Hugely influential classic re-telling of Ernest Hemingway’s short story. This flick has inspired many a wannabe. Not really Film Noir as it was made after the genre had passed and is in colour and features no detectives or private eyes. And not even a “film” as it was originally intended as the very first made-for-television movie. With this version also featuring a murder-by-sniper scene, the recent assassination of John F. Kennedy by sniper ensured The Killers was temporarily on unsafe ground. With Ronald Reagan making his last appearance on film before moving into politics, the ’64 version of The Killers has a bit of history. [Read more…]

The Dunwich Horror (USA 1970)

I reviewed this on April 30, 2015. Now I’m doing it again. Before you steal a forbidden grimoire from a library and writhe nude on a Druid’s altar, hear me out. Why revamp an old post? Because its there! What I love about the Dunwich Horror is that its an overly long episode of Night Gallery. Lovecraft’s stories, with their references to tentacles and other undulating protuberances coming in and out of things at all angles, were certainly sexual – in a mad way – but they were never sexy. He would have hated this sexing up of his story but who cares? This is a unique work: where else will you see a feminist raped to death by a male chauvinist cabbage from an outré dimension? Exactly. Plus the ocean is used throughout as symbolic of timelessness and eternity, and Wilbur Whately’s Twin’s presence is made known by a combo of a heart beating audio clip and the sound of water slushing. Its quite groovy. [Read more…]

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