DDDDDD – Exceptional and unparalleled
DDDDD – Excellent, a special film
DDDD – High Enjoyable, recommended
DDD – Worth watching, but unexceptional or flawed
DD – Bland, dull and average
D – Will give you cancer
Sherlock Holmes (2009) Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong. Dir Guy Ritchie.
A more dynamic Holmes and Watson take on a sinister criminal who has come back from the dead. Turning Holmes into a comic book style character has worked before, and Ritchie’s film is undeniably fast moving smart and entertaining. The only thing missing is a decent mystery to solve.
A Very Long Engagement (2004) Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Marion Cotillard, Dominique Pinon. Dir: Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
A girl refuses to believe her betrothed died in WW 1 and investigates what happened the day he disappeared. Handsome, romantic mystery thriller if a little too garishly shot. Funny and very charming, but is hard to follow and a little slow moving. Not quite a classic.
Woman of the Year (1942) Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Fay Bainter, William Bendix. Dir: George Stevens.
A down to earth sports’ writer begins a relationship with a head strong diplomat’s daughter. The first Tracy/Hepburn film quickly establishes their trademark chemistry. Smart and funny, the adult romantic comedy is a dead art.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2009) Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris, Ray Winstone, Olivia Williams. Dir: Mat Whitecross.
Flawed attempt to hammer the strands of Ian Dury’s life into a narrative. Focuses on his family life, but uses not entirely successful plot devices to bring his past and music career in. Doesn’t help that the Rock star rise and fall story is too familiar. Serkis is the highlight.
Tokyo Story (1953) Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara. Dir: Yasujiro Ozu.
An eldery couple visit their children in Tokyo, but they’re too busy to spend time with them. A gentle but deeply tragic film about the way the old replaces the new and how easily the past is devalued. Slow moving but leaves a lingering impression.
Exotica (1994) Bruce Greenwood, Mia Kirshner, Elias Koteas, Sarah Polley. Dir: Atom Egoyan.
Damaged characters are linked by a strip club and a patron obsessed with a school girl dancer. Slow reveals cleverly disguise the true nature of this human drama, which is touching in places, but frustrating also. Some stories add little to the overall plot and some performances aren’t so impressive.
The Silence of the Lambs (1990) Jody Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine. Dir: Jonathan Demme.
An FBI recruit is sent to question an imprisoned psychopath who knows the identity of a serial killer. Slick and stylish thriller; it’s exciting, but implies more depth than is there. Scenes between Foster and Hopkins are few and don’t demonstrate the psychological impact on Clarice that Lector apparently has.
The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009) George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey. Dir: Grant Heslov.
A jilted journalist goes to Iraq and meets an ex-soldier who claims to have psychic powers. A very funny film, but one without a point to it. It’s too aimless to be the satire it ought to be, and ends up just being a very pleasant distraction.
Christmas in July (1940)Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn, Alexander Carr, William Demarest. Dir: Preston Sturges.
A man is tricked into thinking he’s won a competition and spends the prize money before discovering the truth. Brief, but smart comedy with top notch performances from a solid cast. As you’d except from Sturges, some of the lines are golden.