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The Emperors New Groove 2001, USA Director Mark Dindal 87 Mins Cert U A half term cartoon with attitude. Irony, well it appeals to children as well as adults. A good time to be had by all, loud, fast, and full of action. Technically vastly superior to the insultingly poor quality Poke 1 and Poke 2 and Digi toons doing the rounds of late. 3,7 and 38 years young all got something out of it. What is it about? Well an Emperor gets his comeuppance when he is transformed into a Llama. He needs help to regain his groove and place in the Palace. Fortunately he has John Goodman (or at least his voice talents ) in the shape of heart of gold Pacha. Earth Kitt is Lector like slithery with her tongue in hamming up her wicked femme role as Yzma. Some really high quality colouring and animated scenes. How does it end well.....this is a family show, it all turns out right in the end. I liked this cartoon, it held my attention by the simple quality of the story, the great colors and Aztec, Mayan ? (Probably made up stylised Hollywood) images. It's short, at under an hour and a half, and you could do a lot worse this half term. Book in advance. You know it makes sense. Part of the magic of taking kids to the cinema is making sure they consider it an event. Time it right, and buy them some junk, then some more junk. They’ll love it, and it might just set them out on a lifetimes love of the movies.
The Constant Gardener Just for a change I thought it was too long in places. Some authors, Ellroy, Donleavy Le Carre I can keep going with till the cows come home. This latest effort, out now, in luggable hardback for a bargain £15.00 should keep most people going for a week, and as such is very good value for money. What disappointed me was that so little of it seemed to be infused with that Le Carre page turning quality which was there to savour in full in Single and Single and The Tailor of Panama his two previous efforts. The plot, pay attention Bond .... junior old Etonian diplomat in one of the least worst African postings, manages to lose his wife to the heat and dust, and his grip on reality as he attempts to follow in her footsteps. Why? I?m glad you asked. Mammon. In the shape of big bad drug companies, with their shady, secretive ways, and their big budget bribery. Death, redemptive journey and death. The cast of characters seems built for the big screen, and one can have many enjoyable light reveries considering how you would cast the production. The diplomatic emotional cripples, the enlightened academics, the cardboard cutout bad guys and the open mouthed wide eyed believers. At it's best dealing with the tradecraft knowledge which Justin our hero manages to resurrect from his limited training memories. In a civilised country, you never can tell. Elba, evocatively, Switzerland, Germany and the remote Canadian snow covered boondocks are all brought to life with a cold eyed attention to detail. These were the fun and exciting episodes for me. What I did not enjoy was the only half honest accounts of how so many of the other male characters were drawn. Sandy, our hero?s superior, and would be cuckolder. Torn between his soldiers son woodeness and incandescently uptight maleness. He could not, would not, have written such a letter without more of a physical effort to realise his dreams. De sperately sad, and probably only the very tip of the iceberg in terms of reality, and the way in which corporate patent protection is put before global patient protection.
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle USA 2000 Dir Des McAnuff This TRIBECA production ( a fearless leader effort in fact ), works on a number of levels. If like me you are a child of the 60?s, and ever spent anytime watching TV that wasn?t the Beeb Beeb C you will have come across R&B. The flying squirrel, and the slow-witted moose. An OK cartoon, but not in the same league as either Bugs Bunny or even the Wily E Coyote and the Road Runner. My seven year old with limited shared experience, but a genetic pre disposition to cartoons, like me, loved it. Still, the young De Niro must have been influenced by the simple toons showing the fearless animated animal chums regularly outwitting the bombs, bangs, bullets and plots of Fearless leader and his band of simple minded spies in their dastardly attempts to take over the world, or even your living room. Why else would have have done this? Surely not so that he can reprise a certain Travis B's "Are You talking to me" scene. No....Thought Not. Was it so that he could check out Rene Russo in some gloriously vamped Middle European Natasha role, quite possibly. She was great. I also enjoyed the cameo appearances by John Goodman, playing err John Goodman, and the likes of Randy Quaid and Whoopi Goldberg, as Judge Judy. Whats it all about then? Well as you ask, after a very confusing opening few minutes it all settles down to the President needs Rocky and Bullwinkle to help to stop Fearless Leader (De Niro) from brainwashing the intelligent American public by means of some nefariously created tripe TV, into voting for him as President. Our fearless furry friends team up with Special Agent Karen Sympathy as they try to err save the free world. Along the way there are plenty of laughs for the popcorn eaters, and plenty of laughs on a different level for those who grew up with American TV. The animated human interactions are good, without being really "special&qu ot; effects, and the straight cartoon animation is in keeping with my dim memories of the original. When we saw it, the Cinema was packed, and the next showing a sell out. Well worth a shout with a youngster in tow.
Traffic 2001 USA Cert 18 147 Mins. Director Steven Soderbergh Starring Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Amy Irving, Dennis Quaid A sprawling dusty, realistic drug epic about the nature of the war. Is it all about detection, arrest and deterrence, or is it about understanding the anger the creates the demand?. Too intelligent for many of my fellow watchers "Too long and not enough action". Well sorry, but if you want that kind of film check out Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson and their respective back catalogues. Mr Soderbergh has a rare quality, that makes me want to watch his films, and actors great and good, and ordinary "want to be in all his movies " ... Julia Roberts allegedly. The Plot? ... Well as there are lots of speaking parts I will keep the summary simple. Judge needs to do something. Daughter using big style. Mexicans fighting amongst themselves. Drug Baron on remand. Turncoat in fear of life. Cops sitting in the back of a van. Assassins running around doing their job. Pregnant woman doing deals. All of it. The whole culture, from control, to supply, to bribery, to addiction, to management. It?s a business, and the resources behind the supply exceed the resources behind the attempts to curtail demand. What happens? People get hurt, and some die. It?s the nature of the game. It affects us all, and will continue to do so, until as our heroes character offers the ?Thinking out of the Box? option. You figure out what it means. Catherine the pregnant is great, I never quite saw her as capable of ordering a hit as she appeared. Douglas does what he has done many times before well enough. His daughter does what the daughter in American Beauty nearly did for me and almost steals the film. Star turn for me is Del Toro, watch this man. He can act. Deserves each and every one of it?s nominations, and will probably only get half of those it deserves. A worthy successor to it?s German original. Highly recommended.
The Directors cut may well be more to my taste. I?m not sure I will anticipate this as much as I did Hannibal, the book to film to industry event. Rather like a long awaited dining experience, with previously good company, it may come as no surprise that it just doesn?t quite capture that Babettes Feast of sensual sumptuousness that the Silence of the Lambs did. Fundamentally it?s just too short. Rather like a quick snack, it?s tasty, easily digestible, but leaves you not quite satisfied, and in need of a big dinner shortly afterwards. For me too, I didn?t have the pleasure of lolling about and enjoying the courses, feeling full at then end of each one, and then languidly pausing long enough to wind up to the next. Maybe I should not have expected some Roman Orgy of epic proportions, which I certainly got from the book. That the ending was a disappointment I can live with, that despite being burdened with heavy expectation it only just managed to satisfy, is no surprise. I really must learn not to expect so much. On that basis, I am thinking this is a classic and that?s only five minutes in while the credits are rolling, and the frantic ?Can we have some adverts? cat calls, and musical chairs goes on down my local Odeon. Sell out for days, so why do they show it in a small screen? You will enjoy I trust the Hollywood moments, the turn your head away scene(s), the laugh out loud scene, and the ?Jesus? moment when the whole cinema jumps. Moore as Clarice is not quite the same animal as Foster as Clarice, and the intervening years have obviously not been kind to our special agent heroine. Though she is still the cool, clear complexioned, calculating and constant Clarice. Sir A, shows his concerns courteously, for his protégé, but is this concealing a metaphysical desire to devour her, or is he genuinely drawn to her Deep Rolling character. Beautifully filmed, designed, and scored as you?d expect. The supporting cast are l ike the added ingredients to a classic French Provincial recipe of many components, each of the good ones, adding something, Oldman in particularly fine form, but Liotta out of his depth I fear, and not responsible for adding any piquancy to the overall dish. You decide. You pay your money and you make your choice. I liked it, but wanted to love it.
Bedazzled 2000 USA, Director Harold Ramis. 93 Minutes Cert 12 Well with Faust as the inspiration, and Pete and Dudley’s ’67 vintage classic behind them director Harold, and stars Liz and Brendan make a passable attempt to keep us amused and guessing until the end. They just about succeed. Fraser bumbles along in an idiotic way, never quite believing that his luck has come this good, and never quite getting the point, that you need to be fairly specific, when dealing with the Devil herself. Twirly Hurley gets through a lot of costume changes, and manages to look utterly unconvincing in nearly all of them. Sorry Liz, but you look good, talk bad, and should stick to the cosmetics stuff, where your accent, and efforts don’t require too much movement. Multiplex fodder, and you can certainly do better. Avoid. Read the original.
The Sweeney was ahead of its time as far as I was concerned. The things I loved, and still do enjoying the re-runs, about it most were: That the villians often got away, or perhaps it was just that the Flying Squad didn't always get to them on time. Regan and Carter were, despite being the worst dressed law enforcement officers ever, cool, calculating, and clever. Thaw and Waterman always seemed to me to be having a fantastic time being whizzed round grubby parts of London looking for Blaggers, Swindlers, and Gangsters, being driven round by their monosyllabic ( probably not in Equity ) driver. Haskins the Boss, his shiny dome gleaming as he would invariably give Jack a bollocking. The bottle of Scotch in Regans desk, poured into the tea every other episode. Do people really do this? The theme tune. Come on everyone remembers and knows it. You do don’t you. I thought I heard you. The violence, and the fantastic ugliness of the criminals. Where did they get all those English jobbing actors with faces for radio from? Sarf London probably….. no offence. Then endings....... always just when you thought it ought to, none of that American happy ending epilogue gush. Just think you could have had chunky knit and winsome smiles of Starsky and Hutch, or the crumpled suit and dodgy neckwear of the Flying Squads finest. I know who I’d want keeping my streets safe. Cheers 'Guv.
So congratulations to young gun Hussain, who despite his own heroic efforts with the bat managed to win a Test Series. Fair play to the ECB for stage-managing a five day, for a change, finale, and also for letting kids in gratis. That was the most enlightened decision of the summer. Success breed’s success so I have heard, well let’s hope so. Pakistan this winter, and the greatest team in the World next summer. I can’t see any sane bookmaker offering much on England winning either of these, no matter what inside info he has. Realistically this summer was about England getting motivated, Atherton enjoying himself, batting with tremendous focus and concentration. Trescothick was promoted at the right time, and took and deserved his opportunity. He should be a fixture for the next ten years. Craig White has done himself a power of good, and one screamer that took out the Mans leg stump will remain in my memory for a good long while. As for Curtly and Courtney, I really do think I was fortunate to have seen them play. Both deserved an ovation, and the big man was even treated to a splendid few overs of gentle batting practice on his final afternoon. Touch. Reality bites however, the Windies all summer were weak, batted very poorly for them, and sadly will miss their two strike bowlers, as the supply of top class alternatives seems non-existent. England won the series, by perhaps playing badly less often, and if you like losing fewer sessions to the opposition. Changes need to be made for the summer of 01, otherwise they will be waving the Ashes wistfully bye bye yet again.
USA 2000, Cert PG, 90 Minutes Directed by: Brian Levant Starring: Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Kristen Johnsen, Joan Collins This is easily the best summer kids film, and believe me I’ve seen them all. Trains, dogs , and a mouse. Admittedly I love cartoons, and the Flintstones is a classic, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised. Loads of good visual gags, and slapstick stuff, Fred just about believable, and Barney and Betty done to a treat. The Rollerskating drive in waitress scenes and twinkle toed bowling sequences were fantastic! My only gripe was Wilma herself, not the svelte sharp tongued lovely of the animated version, but a more than solidly built poor little rich girl. Have to mention in despatches Ms Collins, who must have cost the production a fortune in eye makeup and frocks. Those of you familiar with the original cartoon will remember the great Gazoo. He makes an emotional contribution, and I had better leave it at that. Though I didn’t see the first Flintstone film, this one was good enough to make me think about it. If you’ve got a bored kid, go see it.
Snatch UK 2000, Dir Guy Ritchie, Cert 18 Well my pedigree chums if you liked Lock Stock you will stop liking and start loving. This has it all. Dogs, caravans, bare knuckle fighting, gangsters, Russians, shooters, 84 Carat diamonds, and pigs. If you can’t find something to take your fancy from that little lot, just stay at home. Beautifully lit, shot, and with a thumping soundtrack, this is easily the best British Film of the year. Never mind the dialogue, which the yanks will struggle with, and the plot, do keep up, its not really that important. What you get for your sick squid is a rollicking tale of diamond theft, double crossing, and enough stupidity to make you realise that it really is easier to do an honest days work for a living. Brad is great as a Pikey bare knuckle boxer, Vinnie is great as himself, and even Mike Reid does a passable old Jew. This comes more than highly recommended. Get off your ass and see it. Today.
In Too Deep (18) 1999 USA Dir. Michel Rymer Are you a cop? Rather bizarrely it seems this question is the bad guys easy way to spot an undercover man. If he says no it's entrapment apparently. On this premise the story of Omar Epps efforts to infiltrate the empire of God, a fearsome crack dealer and otherwise all round nice guy is based. You can't just shoot someone to prove you are a real man, but firing wildly and acting convincingly in your drive by test works just as well. Epps takes to his role with gusto, and despite a dodgy hairstyle ( when he's just chillin at home ) looks the part. Stanley Tucci ( who I usually like ) as his boss/controller mumbles his way through his brief scenes as a world wearyseen it all before kind of guy. He could have done this in his sleep. I liked Epps and the story was plausible if a bit lightweight. The violence was realistic and not over done. Very tense in places, and very slow and dull in others ( the love interest ) The ending may not be to your liking but you will be gripped for most of it. I saw this 24 hours after Essex Boys, and the English Gangster gets my vote over the American wannbe Gangsta.
Essex boys (18) 2000 UK Dir. Terry Winsor Who wants to be a millionaire? Sean Bean gets out of jail and goes back to what he's best at, running the Essex drugs distribution business. A lively violent tale of sex drugs and torture in largely rural Essex with three very splendid performances from Alex Kingston, Charlie Creed-Miles and Tom Wilkinson, and oh yes Sean Bean. Based loosely on the three shotgunned stiffs found in a Landrover in a muddy Essex farm lane the story involves lots of dodgy dealings, drugs and the last three letters in Essex. I thought it very evocative of the way things could well have been in the murky world of Southend Bouncers, palatial gangster residences, Essex wives and girls and illicit drugs. There is a lot of Alex Kingston which is always nice, and Charlie boy does himself and his career a few favours by simply keeping his mouth shut and whizzing about all over the beautifully shot Essex countryside in a variety of motors. I always have a soft spot for English films and the leading man apart this is a really rather fine one. If you liked Lock Stock the film, not the naff series then this could be one you will rate.
The Lux Cinema In trendy Hoxton Square, just off the Old street roundabout is where the Lux is doing it's thing. It's cheap, £6.00 a throw £5.00 for members, and it's cheerful, and the Front of House staff are pleasing to look at and helpful, if a bit slow. The coffee is good, which personally is a big plus. I have some reservations about the quality of the temporary seating, which I was dreading, but for a not overly long film it was ok. I would not want to be in it for more than a couple of hours however. So far the programming has been a refreshing change from the multiscreen Hollywood dross, and I look forward to many happy returns. For me a late start time is much to be applauded. 21:00 for American Movie a few weeks ago. The film does start as advertised on the button, so don't expect 20 minutes of Pearl & Dean and other dross to allow you that extra livener in the bar next door. The audience when I visited was also a bit loud which I find intensely irritating. I put that down to too many stimulants. That's Hoxton for you.
Well I can hardly do this in ten, so I have two sides one for the ying and the other the yang. Light Side Gregorys Girl For Clare Grogan and Football Some Like it Hot For Marilyn and Tony Curtis Pretty In Pink For Molly Ringwald Cinema Paradiso For being about the magic of Cinema Trop Belle Pour Toi For being about having it all and wanting more Baghdad Café For being weird Delicatessan For being funny, French and wierd Cyrano De Bergerac For Gerard and rhyming couplets Life is Sweet For chocolate lovers, And Alison Steadman Babettes Feast For food lovers And for those of you who would prefer something a little darker try these if you will: Once upon a Time in America De Niro French Connection 1 For Popeye Doyle Taxi Driver For a jailbait Jody Bad Leuitenant For Keitel, and Coke Godfather 1 For making an offer you can’t refuse Apocalypse Now For the smell of napalm in the morning Blade Runner A replicant? I don’t think so. Henry : Portrait of a Serial Killer For being all too believable Blood Simple for being the Coen Brothers In the Heat of the Night Steiger and Poitier I might be able to nominate two or three of these as all time top five material at any one time, but these all came to me without reference to the Halliwell or anything else for that matter. Some you may agree with, some you will not. I'll have a double espresso and a large salty popcorn please. Whats yours then?
My Dog Skip USA 2000 Cert U Director Jay Russell Starring Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, Harry Connick Jr (Voice) For those of you who know what 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon are, this is another fine example of how he seems to be in everything. For the rest of you this is a sentimental story of a boy and his dawg in Yazoo Missouri during the 40’s. Nice kid, nice dog. Not many tricks, but a genuine story played sympathetically and gently, very suitable for children. Growing up, making friends, playing ball, staying overnight in the local cemetery, that sort of stuff. Sickly stuff for an adult audience, but the kids enjoyed it, and it certainly isn’t the worst thing I’ve taken them to see.