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  • Phantom of the Paradise

    Phantom of the Paradise 1974

    ★★ Watched 05 Mar, 2016

    Finally saw this after years of reading about it, about how it deserves a Rocky Horror sized cult status, it's a lost classic... all that.

    Sadly as much as I wanted to love this (as I do most de Palma films from the 70site and 80s) this left me utterly cold. The mix of Phantom of the Opera and Faust is intriguing, and the updating of the story has promise. But the whole thing is so over the top and…

  • Sisters

    Sisters 2015

    ★★ Watched 05 Mar, 2016

    Most disappointing film I've seen for years.

  • Spectre

    Spectre 2015

    ★★ Rewatched 27 Feb, 2016

    2nd viewing actually makes things much clearer. The good stuff is still really good, but the bad stuff far outweighs it and almost drags this down to Quantum levels of tedium.
    The point is you can't make a 'golden era' homage, fun Bond movie and still try to make it a Craig-era furrowed brow character piece, and have all the emotional weight of the villain connection to Bond and the previous movies. The two are incompatible.
    And the third act is an absolute mess.

  • Trainwreck

    Trainwreck 2015

    ★★½ Watched 20 Feb, 2016

    An extremely funny first act soon gives way to all the usual problems inherent in most modern comedies, but particularly those of Judd Apatow and his ilk.

    We have a movie toploaded with great gags (at a good hit rate), funny characters and a story with potential. But around the start of act two it all starts to fall apart as scenes go on far longer than they need to, jokes become thinner on the ground, the characters start behaving…

  • Screamtime

    Screamtime 1983

    ★★★ Watched 19 Feb, 2016

    Better than expected collection of three Brit horror shorts, from back in the day of the support feature, tied together, rather clumsily, with some new NYC shot footage.

    The first two stories (a homicidal Mr Punch doll, and an interesting take on the 'couple move into a haunted house' standard) are fairly effective, especially the second one. The third, featuring Dollar pop star David van Day as a biker trying to rip off a pair of old ladies, is extremely silly and would have been better in the middle rather than the end.

  • Scars of Dracula

    Scars of Dracula 1970

    ★½ Watched 13 Feb, 2016

    Perhaps the worst Hammer/Lee Dracula. Yes even worse than Dracula AD 72.

  • Gambit

    Gambit 2012

    ★★★½ Watched 13 Feb, 2016

    Utterly baffled by the mauling this got from just about everybody. Maybe, as usual, whenever the Coen's names are attached to a comedy, critics suddenly lose their sense of humour. They didn't direct it, and word is not much of their 'original' script survived, but it was their names plastered all over the posters.

    It's an old fashioned caper, romp. It never pretends to be anything else, and should just be viewed on those terms. Yes, it's a remake, but…

  • Britannia Hospital

    Britannia Hospital 1982

    ★★★ Watched 11 Feb, 2016

    Lindsay Anderson's scathing satire clearly has something very important to say but doesn't seem to know what it is, managing to send up trade unions, the NHS, capitalism, dictatorships, the monarchy, liberals and everything else in between.
    A truly astonishing cast of just about every famous sitcom star of the previous 20 years along with Anderson's stock players (McDowell, Crowden, Jeffrey, Lowe) make it a field day for face spotters but it runs out of steam and the end is…

  • Vacation

    Vacation 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 05 Feb, 2016

    Maybe it was the booze late on a friday nightx, but I really was shocked at how funny I found this remake/reboot/sequel/whatever of the well-remembered but overrated Vacation series.
    It's as episodic as the original but the laughs come much faster, the humour coarser, and the performances are better. The scene where the family visit Mum Griswold's college campus is perhaps the highlight (despite borrowing heavily from Modern Family's similar married couple dynamic) along with a hilarious cameo from Chris Hemsworth.

    But what on earth happened to Beverley D'Angelo's face? I had to check IMDB that it was actually her, and not someone wearing prosthetics.

  • Fear in the Night

    Fear in the Night 1972

    ★★ Rewatched 31 Jan, 2016

    Standard Jimmy Sangster "let's drive someone insane for money" story which at least has an interesting setting in an empty boarding school. Sadly it's a setting the film fails to adequately exploit, as it also fails to do with Peter Cushing and Joan |Collins who must have filmed their scenes in about a week, with most of the action concerning Ralph Bates and the normally reliable Judy Geeson, who is (at times literally) on auto-pilot.
    No surprises, bar an unsettling…

  • Crimson Peak

    Crimson Peak 2015

    ★★½ Watched 30 Jan, 2016

    Gorgeous looking but utterly empty attempt by Del Toro to pay homage to everything from Hitchcok to Bava, and all inbetween.

    Like Sleepy Hollow and Grindhouse it spends a lot of money trying to replicate something that was originally very cheap, and the results can't help but look utterly false in comparison. But while these may rollick along with good stories and fun performances, Crimson Peak is played so straight, and the story far too prolonged, that there is very…

  • Legend

    Legend 2015

    ★★ Watched 29 Jan, 2016

    Hopelessly confused and far too in awe of a pair of ruthless murderers to give us anything other than a cartoon gangster story which steals from Goodfellas and Lock, Stock in equal measure.
    Hardy is great as Reggie but his Ron seems to much of a caricature 'mental case' to convince of anything other than a panto villain.

    It looks great, the soundtrack is a good mix of standard gangster tropes and a bit of obscura, but the whole tone is wrong and manages to tell far less story in much more time than The Krays did.