26 June 2017

The Hole

The Hole 2009
  • Director: Joe Dante
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Teri Polo, Bruce Dern, Quinn Lord
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Chris Massoglia – nothing yet
    • Haley Bennett – nothing yet
    • Nathan Gamble – The Dark Knight, Babel
    • Bruce Dern – The Glass House, Coming Home, The King of Marvin Gardens, Silent Running, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, Run for Your Life, The Fugitive, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Marnie
  • Why? Bought this by mistake, thinking it was something else
  • Seen: 24 June 2017      
       Dane is sullen over having to move – once again, this time from Brooklyn – to a new town – small! – and takes it out on his little brother Lucas. His interest is caught by the neighbour girl Julie.
       The three of them find a hole in the cellar floor. A seriously deep and bottomless hole. In the night something comes up out of the hole and scary things start happening.
       Is this a kids’ movie? If I was a kid I’d be really scared. I’m not a kid and I’m scared anyway!
       What a fortunate mistake. A good scary movie. The three kids are believable and likeable. The three young actors are appealing, especially Gamble as Lucas. I hope to see them in other films.

3 * of 5   

Racing with the Moon

Racing with the Moon 1984
  • Director: Richard Benjamin
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Elizabeth McGovern, Sean Penn, Nicholas Cage, John Karlen, Rutanya Alda
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Sean Penn – The Tree of Life, Milk, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, 21 Grams, Mystic River, Pauly Shore Is Dead, I Am Sam, Before Night Falls, The Thin Red Line, The Game, She’s So Lovely, Dead Man Walking, Carlito’s Way, Shanghai Surprise, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    • Elizabeth McGovern – Downton Abbey, If Not for You, Ragtime
    • Nicholas Cage – Matchstick Men, The Family Man, Bringing Out the Dead, Face/Off, The Rock, Red Rock West, Wild at Heart, Moonstruck, Arizona Junior, Peggy Sue Got Married, Rumble Fish, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Why? Elizabeth McGovern, Sean Penn
  • Seen: Once before. Now 23 June 2017      

       Long before she became Mrs Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern was in a very funny sit-com that I believe was called If Not for You. This film is another of her obscure gems. That is, she’s a gem. The film isn’t, if I remember correctly.
       Christmas, 1942, California. Seventeen-year-old Henry (Penn) is a reluctant classical piano player. He prefers jazz. He works in a bowling alley, risking his hands in resetting the pins. He gets into fights with snooty rich kids at the bowling alley.
       He falls for Caddie, the girl who sells movie tickets and works in the public library. Because she lives in a mansion he believes she is rich, but she’s the daughter of the maid.
       They fall in love. What a surprise. It’s not much of a story and the characters aren’t very interesting. Henry’s friend Nicky (Cage) is simply obnoxious. Henry and Nicky are due to ship out with the marines in a few weeks but it’s hard to be worried.
       The film tries but the result is banal, pretentious and clichéd. Young Penn and McGovern rescue it from complete oblivion.

2 * of 5  (Hal gave it 4)

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation 2003
  • Director: Sofia Coppola
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Akiko Takeshita, Catherine Lambert, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Bill Murray – Moonrise Kingdom, Darjeeling Limited, Broken Flowers, The Royal Tenenbaums, Hamlet, Cradle Will Rock, Rushmore, Ed Wood, Groundhog Day, What about Bob?, Little Shop of Horrors, Ghostbusters, Tootsie
    • Scarlett Johansson – He’s Just Not That Into You, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Prestige, The Island, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Manny & Lo
    • Giovanni Ribisi – The Rum Diary, Public Enemies, The Dead Girl, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Cold Mountain, Friends, The Gift, Saving Private Ryan, SubUrbia, The X Files
  • Why? Scarlett Johansson
  • Seen: Once before. Now 10 June 2017      

       A prize-winning movie but the first time I saw it I was disappointed. I didn’t understand the hype. Maybe I’ll be more into it this time.
       Tokyo. Weary Bob Harris (Murray) is welcomed by smiling Japanese hotel staff. He’s a famous movie star. Sleepless in his room he gets faxes from his wife about missed birthdays and shelf choices. He’s in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey advert. The Japanese director babbles long-winded instructions. The translator translates a few words.
       Left alone by her hard-working photographer husband (Ribisi), Charlotte (Johansson), a Yale philosophy graduate, wanders around Tokyo. Alone, unhappy and bored.
       Bob and Charlotte are both insomniacs. They meet, finally, in the hotel bar. Several awkward encounters follow.
       It’s all very sensitive about two lost souls in a foreign country. Two lost souls searching for a meaning in their lives.
       It’s always a pleasure to watch Johansson being subtly expressive but what a boring movie. Even the glimpses into modern Japan don’t lift it much. I still don’t get the hype. But it does have a classy tone.
2 * of 5   

What If?

What If? 2013
  • Director: Michael Dawse
  • Based on the play by T.J. Dawe
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Megan Park, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Daniel Radcliffe – The Woman in Black, Harry Potter 1-7, December Boys, Extras, David Copperfield
    • Zoe Kazan – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
    • Adam Driver – Star Wars the Force Awakens, Tracks, Inside Llewyn Davis
    • Rafe Spall – The World’s End, Life of Pi, Prometheus, Hot Fuzz, A Good Year, Shaun of the Dead
  • Why? Daniel Radcliffe
  • Seen: 4 June 2017      

       Sometimes we need something lightweight. I’m usually not interested in romantic comedies but one half of the couple is Daniel Radcliffe after all.
       Wallace has been heartbroken and isolated for more than a year and lives with his sister and a little nephew. Chantry is an animator and has a boyfriend. Wallace and Chantry meet at a party neither is enjoying and they connect.
       Chantry and her boyfriend really love each other and have been together for five years. Wallace is not over Megan. So Chantry and Wallace are just friends. They can be just friends, right?
       Well, what do you think?
       It’s very talky and they talk so fast it’s hard to keep up at times. But it’s quite funny with sharp non-mushy dialogue. Predictable but surprisingly likeable.
       Or maybe not so surprisingly.  It is Daniel Radcliffe after all.

3 ½ * of 5   

2 June 2017


Speed 1994
  • Director: Jan de Bont
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton, Glenn Plummer, Hawthorne James, Carlos Carrasco
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Keanu Reeves – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The House by the Lake, A Scanner Darkly, The Matrix Trilogy, Sweet November, The Gift, Feeling Minnesota, A Walk in the Clouds, Johnny Mnomic, Much Ado About Nothing, Dracula, My Own Private Idaho, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Dangerous Liaisons
    • Sandra Bullock – Gravity, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The House by the Lake, Crash, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Twenty-Eight Days, Practical Magic, While You Were Sleeping
    • Dennis Hopper – Swing Vote, The Night We Called It a Day, EDtv, True Romance, Red Rock West, The Indian Runner, Rumble Fish, Apocalypse Now, Easy Rider
    • Jeff Daniels – Good Night and Good Luck, The Squid and the Whale, The Hours, Pleasantville, Terms of Endearment, Ragtime
    • Joe Morton – X Files, The Astronaut’s Wife, Homicide Life on the Streets, Crossroads
    • Glenn Plummer – Day after Tomorrow, Strange Days, Frankie & Johnny
    • Hawthorne James – Roswell, Hill Street Blues, Amistad, The Doors, The Colour Purple
    • Carlos Carrasco – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
  • Why? Good film
  • Seen: Two or three times previously. Now 28 May 2017

             If memory serves me correctly, this film introduced us to Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. We’ve been fans ever since.
       In the first minute we meet Dennis Hopper, a terrorist demanding $3 mil to release people he’s got trapped in an elevator. Jack (Reeves) to the rescue with partner Harry (Daniels).
       Twenty-two minutes of nail-biting suspense. And that’s before the bus.
       The bus. Dennis Hopper has rigged it so that if the bus goes slower than 50 mph the bomb will explode. No nails left to bite, I move to my knuckles.
       It’s really just one long car chase and completely unbelievable and I hate car chase movies. But Reeves and Bullock are so appealing and it’s just so exciting that I forgive it.

3 * of 5   


Léon 1994
  • Director: Luc Besson
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Jean Reno – Avis de mistral (My summer in Provence), Hustle, Les visiteurs, Nikita, Le grand bleu
    • Natalie Portman – Thor, Black Swan, The other Boleyn Girl, Darjeeling Limited, Paris je t’aime, V for Vendetta, Star Wars, Closer, Cold Mountain, Anywhere but Here, Mars Attacks!, Beautiful Girls
    • Gary Oldman – The Dark Knight Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, The Dark Knight, Friends, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Romeo Is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, JFK, State of Grace, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Meantime
    • Danny Aiello – The Closer, Do the Right Thing, The January Man, Moonstruck
  • Why? Besson. Oldman. Very good film
  • Seen: Two or three times previously. Now 27 May 2017

             Assassins are not cool. I mean, come on, they kill people for money. That is really not OK.
       Why then is Léon so cool? Must be the round shades and the black coat and the too short trouser legs. And the houseplant. And his friendship with the young Mathilda, the neighbour girl who lives with her drug dealing dad, hooker mum, abusive older sister and beloved little brother.
       Social realism on a high excitement level.
       Pill-popping, poetic, Beethoven-loving, totally insane Gary Oldman murders Mathilda’s family while she’s at the supermarket. Léon takes her in. She finds out he’s a hitman and thinks that’s cool. She offers to do his housekeeping if he teaches her to be a hitman so she can kill the men who killed her brother. Léon says no. A lot of good that does. She may be a little girl but she’s a tough, fast-talking, street smart charmer.
       The film is tender, funny and complex. And exciting.
       Jean Reno is perfect as the vulnerable, ruthless, kind illiterate Léon. Gary Oldman is a brilliant mad villain as only Gary Oldman can be. Young Natalie Portman is incredible in the star-making role.

5 * of 5   


Legend 2015
  • Director: Brian Helgeland
  • Based on the book by John Pearson
  • Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Colin Morgan, Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis, Tara Fitzgerald, Nicholas Farrell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tom Hardy – Mad Max Fury Road, Flood, The Dark Knight Rises, Soldier Sailor Tinker Spy, Inception
    • Emily Browning – Summer in February, Ned Kelly,
    • Colin Morgan – Humans, The Fall, The Living and the Dead, The Huntsman Winter’s War, The Laughing King, Testament of Youth, The Tempest (on stage at the Globe and the filmed version), Quirke, Merlin, Island, Parked, The Catherine Tate Show, Doctor Who
    • Christopher Eccleston – Fortitude, Doctor Who, 28 Days Later, The Others, eXistenZ, Elizabeth, Jude, Shallow Grave
    • David Thewlis – Macbeth, The Theory of Everything, Harry Potter, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Kingdom of Heaven, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, The Big Lebowski, Naked, Life Is Sweet
    • Tara Fitzgerald – Rose and Maloney, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Brassed Off
    • Nicholas Farrell – Mortdecai, Testament of Youth, Summer in February, Amazing Grace, Driving Lessons, Sex Chips and Rock’n’Roll, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Othello, In the Bleak Midwinter
  • Why? Colin Morgan
  • Seen: 25 May 2017

             As a rule I don’t like gangster films but this is London and Colin Morgan has a small role so I’ll give it a try.
       Oh look, Christopher Eccleston is in it too. A cop. Colin Morgan is Frank, chauffeur to Reggie Kray, one of the gangster twins. And brother to Frances, who marries Reggie.
       Oh look, Nicholas Farrell is in it too. A psychiatrist who lies, from fear, saying that Ron Kray is sane though he’s barking mad, or as Farrell puts it in sober medical terms, ‘off his fucking rocker.’
       Oh look, the actor who plays Endeavor is in it too. And Tara Fitzgerald, as Frank and Frances’s mother. And David Thewlis.
       It’s confusing but interesting.  London and the East End of the 60’s are lovingly portrayed and the psychological study of the two twins – the cheeky, charming, violent business gangster Reggie, and the psychopathically murderous but also charming Ron – is well played by Hardy in his best role so far. Everyone ensnared and enthralled in the twins’ web are well portrayed by Browning, Morgan and the rest – all actors who deliver as they always do.
       The music is good as well – both the live music and the background 60’s hits.
       For a gangster film it’s quite good. But it’s still a gangster film.

3 ½ * of 5