The Informant (2009) Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Melanie Lynskey. Dir: Steven Soderburgh
A young executive turns informant by mistake but has plenty to hide himself. What first appears to be a comedy of incompetence soon turns into something darker and more startling. Damon carries the film as the bewildering lead it what is a modest but intriguing black comedy.
First Man into Space (1959) Marshall Thompson, Marla Landi, Bill Edward, Robert Ayres. Dir: Robert Day.
The first man into space crashes down to earth, turned into a monster by meteor dust. Old school Saturday morning film. Although the standard monster on a rampage story, the film benefits from some stylish shooting and genuine attempt to present space travel seriously. Generally good fun.
Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince (2009) Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon. Dir: David Yates
Dumbledore tries to prepare Harry for the battle that is to come. A step backward from the Order of the Phoenix, there’s too much information to digest and not enough excitement. The teen dramatics are a little bit tiresome too. The realisation remains handsome.
The Tingler (1959) Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts. Dir: William Castle.
A scientist speculates about a creature in the body that causes fear and tries to extract it. Totally daft proposition that’s handled with surprising skill and wit, although without the in theatre gimmicks, the finale does not stand up. All around good fun nevertheless.
The Damned United (2009) Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent, Col Meaney. Dir: Tom Hooper
Brian Clough’s disastrously short lived tenure as the manager of Leeds United. A fun retelling of events, with Sheen displaying his usually impeccable impersonation skills. But it’s a little lightweight, we only scratch the surface of the characters, and we never feel the pressures they’re under.
The Hurt Locker (2009) Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty. Dir: Kathryn Bigelow
A US bomb disposal squad in Iraq is joined by a new member. Expertly tense and gritty thriller that throws light on a terrifying job and the kind of people who do that job. But little bits of ‘Hollywood’ slip in, and it undermines some of its realism.
Key Largo (1948) Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor. Dir: John Huston.
An ex-soldier visits a family of a dead comrade but they’re taken hostage in a hotel by gangsters. Hampered by cardboard characters, Bogart seems to sleep walk thought it, the pace picks up and this becomes a tense and sometimes quite nasty crime thriller.
The Road (2010) Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael K. Williams, Robert Duvall. Dir: John Hillcoat
In a post-apocalyptic world, a man and his son travel across a brutal landscape. It’s hard to fault the acting, the direction and the gravitas of the writing, but it’s so bleak. Only the finale contains the smallest crumbs of hope. Not one destined for repeated viewing. Contains cannibalism.