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  • National Lampoon's Vacation

    National Lampoon's Vacation

    ★★★

    Years ago I saw National Lampoon's European Vacation while on a coach tour around Europe with my then girlfriend, so was in a position to sigh at just how many cliches were employed to buttress the flimsy and contrived plot with a newly acquired authority. The original Vacation film fares better as it was based on a short story written by John Hughes and published in the titular National Lampoon magazine. The plot of the film adheres to the original…

  • Hard Times

    Hard Times

    ★★★

    Walter Hill is one of the great minimalists of American cinema, his characters don't say much and let their actions speak instead (usually in the form of dishing out pain). His framing is, like his contemporary John Carpenter, very spare, with no extraneous visual information allowed to clutter up the story. Hill would push these tendencies pretty far out there in his best remembered films such as The Driver (1978) and The Warriors (1979), but his style arrives fully formed…

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  • Josie and the Pussycats

    Josie and the Pussycats

    ★★★½

    I had absolutely no idea of what to expect with Josie and the Pussycats other than it was based on an old kids' comic series, and thus pressed play totally cold. So imagine my surprise: of all the stories one could conceive of based solely on the title and the poster, They Live (1988) for 13 year olds would not have been my first or even 10,000th guess. Because the movie really is They Live for 13 year olds it's…

  • Robowar

    Robowar

    ½

    I have no problem at all with trash cinema, indeed I can cite multiple instances of me thoroughly enjoying pure garbage. But what makes those movies so entertaining is how different they were, that their uniqueness made their conventional failures of storytelling, acting and even basic technical filmmaking so endearing. Turds like Robowar on the other hand are not worth anyone's time to make or watch as they offer zero that's distinctive let alone new. There is not one original…