The Forbidden Territory (Dennis Wheatley)

This was a smash hit in 1933 for its first time author. And he never looked back. By the 1960s he was selling a million books a year. He was never ‘big’ in America though, and with his elitist views and prudish characters, Wheatley’s name has faded into near obscurity now. As well as being well written from a technical perspective—plot, story, dialogue, exposition, The Forbidden Territory is also an interesting window on the late British Empire. For this reason, if no other, the books of Dennis Wheatley are worth reading. If you have a warm fire and a comfortable reading chair, this slim novel should provide a top-hole evening of very British entertainment: wealthy debonair characters (resolutely heterosexual) tanning the hide of uppity foreigners. It almost makes one wish for the return of the British Empire. [Read more…]

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The Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers (2002 New Zealand/USA)

So the journey continued with ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.’ This review will assume you have seen the first film, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Which is fine because Peter Jackson, at the helm of this massive production, assumes you have seen it as well. Intelligently, Jackson does not begin with a redundant and unnecessary prologue. He dives right into what the filmmakers considered the hardest segment of the trilogy to make.  [Read more…]

Assault On Precinct 13 (1976 USA)

Labelled an “auteur” by the French and a “bum” by his compatriots, John Carpenter will never get the acclaim of a Spielberg or a Hitchcock. I’m siding with the Americans…The best thing about “Assault” is its bare-bones construction. There’s precious little backstory, no real explanation for the heinous actions of the gang members, no extraneous “character development” for the protagonists, no scenes where they talk about how they have a wife and kids at home or are retiring tomorrow, and very few cutaways from the main action once it gets going (the lone exception being a few sequences with a couple of clueless cops patrolling the neighbourhood who keep missing the siege on the supposedly abandoned precinct). [Read more…]

Live And Let Die (1973 United Artists)

LALDYou’ll have a rucking good time watching a clown in a tuxedo, I mean Britain’s most famous spy, in his 8th adventure. Buttocks will be kicked and maybe even some names taken in vain. Mix in some racial tension and viola! An above average Bond flick. This time it feels smaller scale and slightly less over the top although it has the action comedy tone which would define the Roger Moore era. Ludicrous yet rooted in the real world and centred on a very real issue rather than the usual world domination or diamond lasers. Director Guy Hamilton manages to get the tone just right. This was a stark change to the usual proceedings: Roger Moore’s debut is about voodoo, the supernatural and the majority of the cast are black people.  [Read more…]

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974 United Artists)

This is another 007 adventure which gets trashed by many critics. Perhaps because it’s subdued in tone, possibly abnormally so for a Bond movie. As if the film itself is depressed. Well, in 1974 the world was in a depressed state–because of the energy crisis, which M and Bond remind us of in one of their dialogue exchanges. The vibe surrounding here is the most peculiar of them all: it’s very Asiatic/kung-fu in tone, and very downbeat. It’s definitely no extravaganza like, say, The Living Daylights, but an attentive viewing of the Man With The Golden Gun should prove very rewarding. This is the last of the ‘old-fashioned’ Bond films. [Read more…]

Moonraker (1979 United Artists)

For children in the late 70s Roger Moore was The Man. Suave, sophisticated and debonair. We didn’t care that he was as old as the hills. If you could fashion a man out of a bottle of Old Spice–Rog would be that man. You could smell his classiness from your cinema seat. I don’t think anybody walked out of a Timothy Dalton Bond feeling like they could conquer the world, but with Roger we did. No matter how many actors play the role, he’s the one I remember with most affection. This was 007’s eleventh adventure on the big screen. This was big. Huge! Biggest budget yet. Biggest box office profit. But Moonraker is strangely unloved. “Too unlike the novels, too much like Star Wars, too silly…” say the naysayers. I disagree. [Read more…]

Goldfinger ( United Artists 1964)

                     (This post is dedicated to Marina over at https://yipyipstudios.com/)

“Do you exshpect me to talk?” “No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die.” Trust a German actor to have a superior command of the English language than a Scotsman. It goes without saying that Goldfinger is the quintessential 007 film. It’s been spoofed, referenced, praised, and paid homage countless times. Seriously, I’m pretty sure just about every television series that’s existed since the 1960s has made some reference to Goldfinger in some form. No matter what your opinion of the movie, no matter where your 007 tastes run, you absolutely have to respect the third James Bond adventure for what it was: the first 007 film with all of the familiar tropes that will continue through the series until the 2006 reboot. [Read more…]

Death Wish (1974 USA)

Few motion pictures have the notoriety of Death Wish: short sharp slabs of repulsive, sadistic violence that linger in the memory along with a theme–if you like the film then you must be an advocate of fascist exploitation cinema, or if you don’t like it then you are a bleeding heart liberal. Critics of the time hated the picture, calling it irresponsible for advocating vigilantism. What the critics of the time failed to see, as the film became a huge commercial success, was that they had the luxury to sit in their comfy secure high rise apartments as the people of the streets lived in fear of stepping outside their homes. At least in large cities like New York. [Read more…]

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)

The Chronicles of Narnia is a film that couldn’t have been made in the 20th century effectively – it relies so heavily on special effects and digital tricks that even attempting to make it without all the digital trickery would have resulted in a B-film, regardless of its budget. With his experience as the special effects guy on several of the Batman films, director and producer Andrew Adamson did manage to put together one hell of a display. With all the visual do-goodery in place, and one of the best stories ever told to drive it forward, there wasn’t a lot to make the Witch and the Wardrobe fail… And of course, it doesn’t. [Read more…]

American Made (2017)

Mr Show Pony himself, Tom Cruise, is here recycling his usual mannerisms – the grin, the hand gestures – even revisiting his own cinematic past as a pilot. Yet this time around his showboating is not meant to be wholly admired. Originally, Cruise was liked by the public, then fell out of the public’s good graces for some reasons…sofa jumping on Oprah, shilling for a cult, suing gay porn star after gay porn star until they were pauperized…but now, due to his skill as an actor, he is conditionally liked again. Director Doug Liman, having directed The Bourne Identity and Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, knows a thing or two about fast pace, intrigue, and the limits of idealism. And American Made really is American made! Amazing. [Read more…]

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