Return To Oz

*Originally written in 2003 – again, apologies for posting all these old, crappy reviews.

In this minor dark fantasy classic, we return to Oz with Dorothy Gale who has not been able to adjust to normality since her primary adventures. Her Auntie and Uncle do not know what do to with her, and no-one believes her amazing stories. Eventually she is sent to a psychiatric hospital, and unknown to her family it is run by near-masochists who supposedly perform terrifying experiments on children. As this is still a kids’ movie none of this is shown, but the suggestion is pretty heavy.

Jean Marsh plays the relentlessly horrifying Nurse Wilson, and pursues Dorothy through the stormy night in a bid for escape. Dorothy jumps into a river and when she wakes she is in Oz with a chicken called Billina. However, after some exploring it appears that Oz has been infected with some kind of evil, and it is no longer the enchanting place it was, instead it is a place of nightmares. The Emerald city and all inhabitants including the Cowardly Lion and the Tin-Man have been turned to stone. After a chase by the brilliantly memorable and scary Wheelers, Dorothy meets Tik-Tok, a mechanical man, and they try to find the Scarecrow and work out what has happened. Soon Dorothy is taken prisoner by the wicked Princess Mombi, Jean Marsh again, who is obsessed with her appearance, stealing the heads of beautiful young women. It seems that the Nome King has become immensely powerful, turning all to stone as his personal statues. The struggle to return Oz to its glory is one which will take all of Dorothy’s skill and love.

This film is a definite classic for kids, but beware – it is dark and has many moments which will be scary. I saw this recently, having not seen it in a few years, and although the impact has dwindled, and the flaws are clear, it is still a good film which should definitely be seen at a young age. There are many things to recommend it, although fans of The Wizard of Oz my be disappointed by the lack of music and light-hearted fun. The acting is all top notch; Jean Marsh is excellent in her roles and Fairuza Balk is outstanding in her first major performance, seeming both timid and strong and giving a good account of what may be a disturbed, abused child. The new characters are all just as good as those in the 1939 film, particularly Pumpkinhead and Tik-Tok. The effects are extremely good for their time and hold up today. Scary moments include the Wheeler chase, the final encounter with the Nome King, and of course the infamous screaming heads scene which will likely stay in the memory of all who see it. If you have children with strong imaginations, or with an interest in reading or fantasy, then this is a film they should be shown, but if they are scared easily it may not be such a good idea.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Return To Oz!

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Rope

*Originally written in 2004 (it goes without saying as my reviews from this period are basically one big plot reveal, but SPOILER ALERT)

Another technological feat from Hitchcock; a film which seems to have no cuts throughout. Although there are five or six, the editing is so swift that you will have trouble finding the cutting points, and the blend between each is seamless. Like other Hitchcock films where he experiments with camera work and conventional methods of filming and storytelling, it is a success and never feels as if it is the main gimmick of the film. The story and acting are all good enough to keep the viewer enthralled, and the balance between plot and camera-work is perfectly balanced, structured and adds to the overall effect of the film. In short – you can enjoy it without knowing or caring about any of the technical aspects, or for everything mentioned above.

The film takes place over the period of a single night in an apartment owned by two young men, students of Philosophy taught by the well-respected, cynical and clever Rupert Cadell. The students, Brandon and Phillip, decide to murder someone as an experiment, to see what it feels like and to see if they can get away with it. They choose to kill a friend, hiding the body in a trunk in their apartment before inviting Rupert and their other friends (including the victim’s family) over for a party. Enjoying the irony and thrill of it all at first, the pressure soon grows; Knowing jokes about death and murder are thrown around, the victim’s family and friends wonder why he is late and cannot get in contact with him, philosophical, moral and political discussions become heated, arguments break out, and Rupert becomes increasingly suspicious as the Brandon and Phillip’s behaviour gets more strange. Phillip becomes more nervous as the irony, dark humour, and pressure from Rupert grows, and eventually the horror is uncovered. The boys explain their actions and Rupert realises that to some degree he had a part in it, because of his subversive teachings. The superiority complex much talked about by Nietzsche is explored, and the boys question of whether it is right to kill another person because you feel superior is discussed with Hitchockian flair and humour.

The dialogue is typical of Hitchcock, full of dark humour and nodding sight gags such as the fact that the food is served from the trunk in which the body lies. The backdrop of the city is impressive and Dall is pretty chilling. The rest of the cast are admittedly average, but Jimmy Stewart makes up for this by giving a memorable performance, almost against type. He easily controls the screen, and we come to feel like he is superior, all the more shocking and ironic when we sense his involvement in the death and his reaction to that knowledge. A lesser known Hitchcock, but one no less worthy of catching today.

Let us know in the comments what you though of Rope!

Big Driver

Rape is arguably the most difficult subject to tackle on screen, never mind in literature. The horrific act is something which has long been used in stories – particularly in the visual medium – as a turning point in the narrative; the character survives and generally seeks vengeance or justice. There is a whole history, mainly in horror, of the rape revenge stories with increasingly, depressingly violent or graphic, or inexplicably titillating scenes of sexual violence which lead to further acts of violence against the perpetrator(s). Stephen King tackles the issue knowingly in his novella of the same name, from a collection which largely deals with issues relating to women or relationships. The written story is done with a level of tact and a lack of detail of the event, instead spending most of its length on the lead character, depicted before and after the event as a strong, singular women who just happens to be led into the wrong place at the wrong time. Indeed, King even acknowledges the cinematic tropes as the lead character refuses to be a victim and seeks out some of the aforementioned movies as part of her recovery, planning, and justice. The film, while it doesn’t linger on the event, shows enough to possibly put off a large section of the intended audience.

Big Driver stars Mario Bello (who is excellent in the role) as Tess – a successful crime writer who lives with her cat and the voices in her head – a device King often employs. She is invited to speak at library fan meeting and is advised to take a short cut, idyllic drive home off the beaten track by the event organiser. If you’ve seen any film in this vein before, you’ll have already connected the dots – one flat tyre and ‘helpful’ trucker later and Tess has been raped and left for dead in a sewage pipe, along with the rotting corpses of past victims. She survives, heads home, and begins connecting her own dots as she seeks vengeance.

If you’ve watched any rape revenge movie before, then you know what you’re going to get here. Thankfully this one didn’t feel like exploitation, at least to me, and the worthy cast give full-blooded performances. It’s a Lifetime TV movie so you have any idea how extreme the content will be. The direction is sound, nothing eye-catching or out of the ordinary here and the story, while attempting to offer some moderate twists in the narrative and contemplation on guilt doesn’t really offer anything new. This will be mainly for King fans, or any fans of the cast – as it stands it’s a worthwhile watch for those groups, but it’s not one you’re likely to remember or watch again.

Amazon Vine Freebies – July 2017

And so it remains…

Stinky Magee

Horrid Henry

Magical Mathy

Coconut Kathy

Demon Headmasty

Cygnett Swany

Legs McShavey

Salt ‘n’ Peppery

Home Library

Amazon Vine Freebies – June 2017

It continues….

Is it?

What Is It?

Any ideas?

Not for sniffing

Not for sniffing

Not for leaking

Not for… woofing?

A handheld sucka

Can you?

A handheld animal hair sucka

A multi purpose cutta

Laugh it up fuzzball

 

Nightman Listens To – Bruce Dickinson – Tattooed Millionaire

Greetings, Glancers! As I said in a previous post, it’s time for me to delve into the other output which the the core members of Iron Maiden have released over the years. I don’t know much about any of these, I don’t have high hopes of any of them being any good, but if any of them are then it’s going to be Brucey’s solo stuff. While we’re here, we may as well listen to the bonus tracks from the various re-releases. Lets go.

Son Of A Gun‘ opens with a tinny, distant, atmospheric riff. Sounds like early Maiden. Dickinson singing in his more traditional voice than the gruff approach. Slow, heavy. Doesn’t have an 80s vibe, just sounds like classic metal/rock. The chorus isn’t great melodically, and on the whole it’s very simple – not too many risks or progressive elements – I was expecting it to get faster at some point but it stays on the same level throughout.

Tattooed Millionaire‘ is one I may have heard at some point, but I can’t remember. This one is very 80s and does feature a more Fear of The Dark era vocal by Dickinson. It’s a little faster, a little lighter musically – a little more Def Leppard in other words. It has a commercial chorus, though the lyrics are as biting as what Maiden were putting out at the time. Good solo in there, but this is basically a pop song with more prominent guitars. That lead/ending riff also sounds like a copy of Run To You by Bryan Adams.

Born In ’58’ starts quite nicely, not metal at all. Nostalgic lyrics. This could be anyone, sounds like stadium rock, but a bit more subtle. It’s quite nice, feels like a centerpiece and Dickinson saying he can do more than just metal. As The Mullet Man might say, this is one for the ladies.

Hell On Wheels‘ is slow – ACDC slow. Gruff vocals for the verse, old school for the chorus.  Instead of locked he sings ‘lacked’, that style. Very simple and plain. Standard uninspired rock, okay melodies.

Gypsy Road‘ starts slow and soft, similar to ‘Born In 58’. Everything on the album is much lighter than the Maiden wall of sound. It’s Springsteen again, but via Dickinson’s mind and mouth. It’s all very formulaic, verse chorus verse chorus solo chorus end stuff. Melodies okay again.

Dive! Dive! Dive!‘ is presumably going to be higher, starting with an ‘Aces High’ vibe. Then it goes… weird. Oh wow oh vocals. No guitars. Drum, bass, vocals. Then guitar and oh wow oh. I won’t call this one formulaic, though there’s nothing outlandish here. It’s just weird, not weird in a good way, weird in a ‘who thought this was a good idea’ way. A good minute long than it needs to be, not that any of it needs to exist.

All The Young Dudes‘ is Bowie with Bruce’s voice. If you’ve read my Bowie posts you’ll know I’m not a massive fan of Bowie’s vocals. Bruce does a Bowie mimic here for the most part. Still a good song, but get the feeling that all of these should have just been B-Sides or demos or something.

Lickin’ The Gun’ follows what has gone before – gruff vocals, slow pace, basic structure. This one is riff heavy but still sounds weak – middle of the road and uninspired. This could be any 80s rock or soft metal band.

Zulu Lulu‘ opens with howls and guitars. That steady pace is here again and we can already tell from the intro how this is going to go. Talky vocals, lots of pauses in the guitar parts, simplistic. Maybe Bruce had all this crap boiling up in him and needed to get it out of system before getting back to Maiden and making good music again?

No Lies‘ is, of course, the early Bruce version of Bring Your Daughter, with a very similar opening riff. This feels like a demo as the same few words are repeated over and over. Then in the second minute the lyrics start pouring out. It’s a little bit better than most of the other stuff, but it has the same problems – vocals aren’t great and there’s nothing new or of any decent quality. It just reminds us of better songs – No More Lies due to the title, Bring Your Daughter, and Can I Play With Madness thanks to the drums in places. We have this long section in the middle with drums and distortion and nothing else, a bit of bass that no-one cares about. After this brief dalliance with the pointless we return to the chorus and an okay solo.

Spirit Of Joy‘ is the first bonus track. It’s an Arthur Brown cover. A lot of these will be covers. It has a faster pace, sounds better already than most of the album stuff. Not a song I’m overly familiar with but it’s fine.

Darkness Be My Friend‘ is not a cover. It starts well, ominous and soft, much better vocal. Like a dark and lonesome folk song. This is easily the best song so far. Then the flute (?) comes in. Yet it works, even if I imagine pixies skipping about a glade or something.

Sin City‘ is AC/DC, so not my favourite band. Starts with starty stoppy chops of music. Ding don ding dung. Then the familiar ACDC beat comes in. Then the vocals and the cut-off guitars. Not my thing. Growly vocals sound silly. Shite all round.

Winds Of Change‘. Ha ha, this really does sound like G’n’Rs version of Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. And that’s all we’ll remember from this. This is some sort of love song with big Brucey vocals. It’s cheese, but it’s fine.

Riding With The Angels‘ is a Russ Ballard cover – he wrote songs for KISS and others. Sounds live. Screeches and talking. At least this is fast and energetic which makes a change from the rest of the album. It sounds both like very early Maiden and early 90s Maiden. Just a bit of throwaway speed fun.

Bring Your Daughter‘. You know it. You love it. Or hate it. Maybe you haven’t heard this version. It’s almost the same though, slightly different vocals, different guitars but almost the exact same song.

Ballad Of Mutt’. It’s a funny name, and it seems it’s a funny song with some unfortunate vocal appropriation. Still funny though, funny lyrics, standard blues stuff. I wrote a song almost exactly the same as this. Except mine was called ‘Barnaby’.

Black Night‘ is Deep Purple. Live again. More energy and speed. You all know this one, right? Feels like Sabbath, but isn’t, so must be Deep Purple. It’s unfortunate when your covers, which aren’t that great, are better than most of the songs on your official album.

So I said at the top I didn’t have high hopes but that this was likely the best? Oh dear. If this is the best, then we’re in for a whole crapload of crap in the coming listens. Mercy, please. Let us know in the comments what you thought of this – did I get it wrong, does it deserve another listen?

Nightman Listens To – My Fair Lady – Original Broadway Cast (Top 1000 Albums Series)

Oh, dear Lord, no. This is one giant WTF and should not be on a Top 1000 Albums list. Yes, yes, I haven’t heard it yet, but I already know what it’s going to sound like. I’ve seen the movie, hell, I even kind of like the movie. But musicals, in general, suck balls while simultaneously sucking the life out of me. Musicals… you’re lucky if you get two or three good songs, usually at least one centrepiece. My Fair Lady, as far as movie musicals go, has a few songs which the general public will know even if they haven’t seen the movie, but none of the songs are outstanding. Lets just get this over with.

What Do I Know About My Fair Lady: Musical, based off book, which later became a hit movie. Audrey Hepburn is awesome. She’s not here though.

Overture: It’s frantic and fast. It’s a textbook overture. You already know what you’re getting here. There’s about four seconds here to differentiate it from any other musical.

Why Can’t The English: Ridiculous talky singy. There’s only person who should be murdered here, and it’s YOU. This is just an embarrassment for all concerned. Fine in a film musical – pure torment in literally any other form.

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly: Starts horrifically. Gets gradually worse. At least this one has a memorable main line. The backing vocals are shocking. Some of Julie Andrews’ notes are ear cancer too.

With A Little Bit Of Luck: One of the things I hate most about musicals is singing with forced accents. Which means I’m basically buggered where this album is concerned. It’s so false and theatrical – I want my music, in most cases, to be honest, not acting. Of course, this is a musical so I get it’s meant to be the other way around – but as I’m listening with no visuals it just doesn’t work. The song needs to be extraordinary to get its point across. This is tripe. As far as accents go, Cockney is near the top of the list of ones I can’t abide. YOU SOUND LIKE A COCK.

I’m An Ordinary Man: More talking. I don’t care. You may as well be describing the peristalsis which occurs in your anus as your squeeze one through. Posh rapping. Women, eh, amirite? You’d prefer the Spanish Inquisition to letting a woman into your life? Hardy har. I’d prefer you and everyone you’ve ever met being skinned and set on fire than listen to this for another millisecond.

Just You Wait: Oh fuck off.

The Rain In Spain: Abortion.

I Could Have Danced All Night: I don’t mind the ‘chorus’ of this one. All else is pain and two minutes too long.

Ascot Gavotte: Noises. Marching. Then the singing starts and we all wish we were dead.

On The Street Where You Live: This one would be fine without the terrible vocals.

You Did It: Nice flutey opening descends into farce. And not good farce. The sort of farce where you’re trying to get somewhere on time but you can’t find your keys, then the car won’t start, then you get stuck behind eight cyclists who CYCLE IN A GROUP BESIDE THE FUCKING CYCLE LANE, then you get by them only to meet a tractor, before an ISIS appears in the backseat and beheads you.

Show Me: More travesties.

Get Me To The Church: Nope.

A Hymn To Him: Unlistenable.

Without You: Every single song and every single vocal delivery is identical.

I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face: Starts with ridiculous aplomb. It’s all words words words spoken in the same dumb way. Once we finally get to the ‘good’ bit it’s too little too late.

What Did I Learn: I’m fairly competent that several thousands brain cells died while listening to this.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Are you seriously asking me that with a straight face? Every copy of this wank should be wiped from existence.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 559.

Yeah, don’t even comment. In fact, forget I even mentioned it.

Chart Music – 1966

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

1966 Glancers, 1966. The year which meany consider to be the pinnacle of music. A pivotal year by all accounts, for culture worldwide, for music, cinema, politics, civil rights and so on and so forth. Where were you? Where was I? Where am I? So many questions, and so few readers. As you may be aware, I was not yet part of this world, at least not as you understand it, but many people were and they bore witness to things such as England winning the World Cup, thousands more US troops landing in Vietnam, Time magazine asked if God Was Dead, The Church Of Satan was formed, Castro declared Martial Law, Star Trek debuted on TV, John met Yoko, and a maniac went on a shooting spree in Texas.

In the realm of music, David Bowie emerged, The Beatles became the first band to play the Nippon Budokan Hall, Van Morrison and The Doors appeared on stage together, and Bob Dylan turned Judas. A bunch of extraordinarily popular albums were released and many songs still played regularly today were recorded. Looking at the list of songs below, there are only three I know from the name but I’m sure once I listen I will know a few more. The list at a first glance doesn’t seem to be representative of the many great songs and albums which first appeared this year.

  1.  Jim Reeves. Distant Drums.

Smooth vocals. Slow. Far away. Basic beat, simple piano. Strings arrive. Shifts to a more Western style pace. All very pleasant but out of time. Nothing wrong with it, a little too nice for my liking.

2. Dave Dee: Bend It!

Descending riff. Slower pace. Quickening like a Greek tune. Faster. Collapse. Funny. Even Greek guitars so I assume a deliberate choice. I always liked this sort of music from my travels. What exactly is he bending? Pretty good, though probably a novelty song.

3. The Who: I’m A Boy.

Back when they sounded like a nice little garage band, though they still manage to make plenty of noise in the chorus and bridge with those chugging guitars and bin lid drums. Great lyrics, good music.

4. New Vaudeville Band: Winchester Cathedral.

Ha ha, South Park. There’s something in my pocket for you. Waterloo melody. More novelty stuff but still good. Not a bad song yet, yay.

5. The Rolling Stones: Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow.

Fuzz and throbbing and sudden trumpets. All a bit chaotic with the trumpets out of tune with the vocals and guitar. The little break in the middle is nice. I was never a huge fan of early Stones but this is pretty good. The bass is probably the best part. It all collapses into a surprise bonus riff at the end. You wouldn’t get that in the charts these days.

6. The Supremes: You Can’t Hurry Love.

You know it, of course you do. Or the Phil Collins version. Sweet, melodic, beautiful. Can’t say much more about it, just enjoy!

7. Sandpipers: Guatanamera.

A song forever adopted by football crowds with ‘Guatanamera’ changed to… something else. I have no idea what it’s about but all very nice – dreamy verses and of course an incredibly catchy chorus. Oh, a spoken explanation. I didn’t really need that, but thanks.

8. Sonny And Cher: Little Man.

Greek fingering (madam) and bangs (sir). Yes, I know this. Horn beeps. Lots of pauses. It is a very odd song, then again it was 1966. Good though.

9. The Troggs: I Can’t Control Myself.

To be fair, most morning I wake up and scream ‘OH NO!’ This is a song with a marching beat and a simple structure, catchy chorus, verses okay, probably shouldn’t be stretched to three minutes.

10. Dusty Springfield: All I See Is You

Your standard Springfield ballad – big vocals, a little mournful, you know the score.  The chorus/rest of song is much better – even bigger vocals and more emotion, and it keeps getting bigger in every sense as it goes along.

As mentioned earlier, 1966 had a wealth of quality releases – Sounds Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, Boots by Nancy Sinatra, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds, Revolver, Freak Out, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, A Quick One, and many others. Out of the top selling singles of the year in the US, three were by The Beatles, one by The Beach Boys, and one by Frank Sinatra – four out of five ain’t bad. For an alternative list of 10 great songs from 1966 (though most are incredibly famous) have a click on the links below:

  1. The Beatles: We Can Work It Out

2. James Brown: I Got You (I Feel Good)

3. The Mamas And The Papas: California Dreamin

4. The Rolling Stones: Paint It Black

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hey Joe

6. The Velvet Underground & Nico: I’ll Be Your Mirror

7. Janis Ian: Society’s Child

8. Jefferson Airplane: Let Me In

9. The Kinks: Sunny Afternoon

10. The Who: Boris The Spider

What is your favourite song from 1966? Let us know in the comments!

2018 In Film – A Preview – July – September

Popcorn

Lets see what the rest of the blockbuster season has to offer us in the upcoming year.

The Purge: The Island

As much as The Purge series seems, on the surface, to be right up my street, at the time of writing I still haven’t seen any of them. How good can a fourth entry be? Fourth entries are rarely good, but often enjoyable nonetheless. I’ll get to this once I get through the first three, and hopefully before the inevitable The Purge In Space comes along. I don’t know the director or the cast, with DeMonaco stepping back to only fulfill writing duties.

Ant-Man And The Wasp

You already know I haven’t seen Ant-Man yet. I do like Paul Rudd, and the trailer (for the original) seemed like lighter, less serious Marvel affair. Once again, I’ll get to it some day.

The Nun

A spin-off of The Conjuring series, this is sure to make a load of money, but I can’t imagine it being as successful as the core movies. I liked the first movie, wasn’t amazing, but I like how James Wan works and I like the cast – haven’t seen the second one yet. I love how this stars Taissa Farmiga, younger sister to Vera – Taissa is a very gifted actress too. This time Corin Hardy directs – he has one credit to his name so far, but it is a respectable one.

Hotel Transylvania 3

I’ve watched most of the first one – the same parts multiple times – due to my kids liking it. I think they have watched the second one, and I may have seen snippets of it. I assume this will be more of the same with diminished returns, though if it introduces more kids to horror then I’m all for it.

Skyscraper

The Rock continues his one man army romp through every action sub genre you can think of. This time he’s a former hostage negotiator and building security guy, so I’m assuming this is Die Hard again. But wait, Neve Campbell is on board. Regular Glancers will know that I’m actually (not) married to Neve, so you can be sure I’ll be seeing this. Thurber has worked with The Rock before, and I quite liked We’re The Millers, though that makes me think this could be more comedy than action.

Alita: Battle Angel

Isn’t this something that Jimmy Cameron was once involved in? Robert Rodriguez is now directing, and he’s always good for plenty of stylized action, even if he hasn’t had a major success story for a while. Look at the budget of this thing… it could be a mess, but I hope it’s good.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

No, we’re not going anywhere. The first one was fairly awful, so this will undoubtedly be worse.

Gaugin: Voyage De Tahiti

No idea, but Vincent Cassel is on board, and that’s usually enough for me.

Mission Impossible 6

It must be high time that someone else takes over the MI reigns from Tom Cruise. I love him in the role, and the movies are always enjoyable, but to turn the movie series into a full blown, long-lasting franchise, they’ll need to Bond it up and let someone else take over when Tom gets too old. I’ve only seen the second one in the cinema, but I’ll catch this on streaming.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

I was genuinely bewildered when I read a few posts saying people don’t enjoy this show and don’t have high hopes for the movie. The show is great! Clever, quirky, and a lot of fun. I mean, I don’t know if the rapid-fire style will work for a feature length, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin was always a bit of a dweeb. This Disney re-imagining focuses on him as a washed up grown up who has lost his imagination. Good director, good cast, but the Winnie The Poo series was always fluff so I’m not sure how much they can get out of this.

The Equalizer 2

I haven’t seen the first one and I didn’t really watch the series. Denzel hasn’t really convinced me as an action guy, but fine. Ah well, killing baddies is always good so I’m sure I’ll catch it late some night when I’m old and deformed.

The Predator

Given that Predator is one of my favourite films of all time, it’s a guarantee I’ll be seeing this. I’m not sure about the premise – being set in suburbia and all, but Shane Black is involved, and I’ve pretty much loved or enjoyed everything he’s ever touched (including Predator). I like the sequel, the spin-offs are mostly muck, and Predators was decent fun. If Arnie had been nailed down for this, it would be my most anticipated movie of the year.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Is this another Austin Powers? No. It’s an action comedy from Lionsgate with Mila Kunis and a few other random big names. How good can it possibly be? I’m all for the female director and apparent focus on women, but I can’t say I have high, or any, hopes.

Barbie

I’m a dad to two girls. Lets not pretend that there aren’t already a million Barbie movies. And the Life In The Dreamhouse series. I’ve seen most of the straight to DVD efforts, but this is of course going to be a big release. Hold on, this has mysteriously moved out of 2018 to 2020. Oh well, I’ve typed it here now. Regardless, there should have been a Barbie live action movie in the 90s with Stacey Keibler. You know it.

The Meg

I love shark movies. I just do. Even when they’re not good, I’ll still watch, and almost all of them are not good. I haven’t read the books that this is based on, but it’s sharks and Jason Statham, so I’ll be seeing it. Jon Turtletaub as director doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence – Cool Runnings is awful… yeah, most of his movies have not been good, but I did like While You Were Sleeping for some reason, and he has some decent TV credits. I’m sure this will be crap, but hopefully good crap.

Scarface

Why? Apparently Diego Luna and The Coen Brothers are involved, so that’s good. But why?

The Nightingale

Australian period revenge thriller, for the ladies? Cool. I loved The Babadook, so lets hope this is good too.

My Son

No clue, but Melanie Laurent is usually enough for me. Canet is cool too, and Carion’s Joyeuz Noel was pretty good.

Crazy Rich Asians

As much as I’m happy for a mainstream American movie with an Asian cast, it’s a romantic comedy based on a book being directed by a guy who does dance and Beiber movies. So I think I’ll pass.

White Boy Rick

Now we’re talking – Yann Demange’s follow up to the fantastic ’71 – a film close to my heart… and house, this has a great cast – Piper Laurie, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Matthew McConaughey. I don’t know anything about the plot but this all points towards potential greatness.

Captive State

Is this the American District 9? Set in Chicago about citizens after colonization by aliens, so this stinks of politics. Vera Farmiga and John Goodman, and Rupert Wyatt’s three filmd so far have been strong. Hopeful.

The Happytime Murders

This is the puppet one, right? It’s unfortunate then that the cast is populated with, well, puppets. It’s every comedian from those films I don’t like very much. Could still be good though, cos it’s puppets. It ain’t no Farscape though. Seriously – watch Farscape. 

Three Seconds

Crime thriller with a good cast… these can be fine or forgettable, but they rarely make a huge impact on me unless they’re exceptional.

Cadaver

No clue about the plot or director, and a cast of youngish pretty people. It’s horror. As it’s horror I’m always hopeful, and I’m always going to see it, but with the details above I’m sure it won’t be anything special.

Replicas

Keanu Reeves sci fi? Naturally I’m in. The plot seems interesting enough – a futuristic Pet Sematary but with some sort of Handmaid’s Tale twist. Nachmanoff has had successes as a writer, less so with his movie directing.

Kin

Brothers on the run from baddies and monsters and something about a mysterious weapon – sounds like a nonsense, but exactly the sort of nonsense I love. Some biggish names here.

The Little Stranger

Lenny Abrahamson’s latest appears to be a haunted house movie. Good good, but again these have a a habit of focusing on fashion and setting rather than plot or scares. Good cast too so I’ll hope for good reviews.

New Line Horror Film

Is it a new Elm Street?

The Darkest Minds

Based on a YA series I’ve never heard of. So I assume lots of teen romance. Probably guff, but again I’ll take a look if reviews and trailer are good.

Alpha

A boy and a wolf, thousands of years ago. Cool. Lets hope it’s not a CG wolf. The Hughes Brothers haven’t made enough movies over the years, but they are generally strong and interesting when they do.

Fighting My Family

I don’t like Stephen Merchant. I find his humour as funny as… well, Ricky Gervais. However, this is a wrestling movie featuring some wrestlers, based on the true story of… wait for it… Paige. As a pretty big wrestling fan I’m sure I’ll see this, but this has several WTFs… why isn’t Paige just in this as herself? She’s only 25, yet here she is being played by a 22 year old. Is it because Vince McMahon owns her? And what about the whole sex tape business – did that throw a spanner in the works? Does a 25 year old really merit a biography, especially when most of the world have no clue who she is? Will WWE start making films about all of their superstars? This could be the weirdest film ever.

Johnny English 3

Yay? Rowan Atkinson is a God. I mean, I’d much rather have a new Mr Bean series, but I’ll take what I can get. Kerr is a fellow Northern Irish guy, so I suppose I should support him? Fuck that, I don’t give a shit about such things – he has been involved in some good shows though. No Natalie Imbruglia again 😦

The House With A Clock in Its Walls

Is this Eli Roth putting all his cards on the table and going all in? I can’t think of any more poker metaphors, but you get the idea. This seems to be a big budget Del Toro style movie rather than his usual grindhouse fare. Big cast too – Kyle Machlachlan, Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Colleen Camp returning after Knock Knock. I know nothing of the story it’s based on.

Robin Hood

Seriously, how many of these do we need? Have we had a Detroit based one where Robin Hood is a gangsta? The Ridley Scott was wank, and its attempt at being gritty has ticked that box, so what’s left?

Night School

I read that name and guessed it would be another one of ‘those comedies’. That’s it, purely based on the name. Of course I’m right. Keith David is in it…. that’s maybe my only reason to watch.

Smallfoot

Is this another Land Before Time? Yeah, I know that was Little Foot. Hold on, is this seriously another Land Before Time? No, but it is some sort of prehistoric animated thing. The cast is a mess, and the director is Disney-lite, so this will be balls. In fact, there will probably be a joke about (snow) balls in the trailer.

The Kid Who Would Be King

Joe, of Adam And Joe (and laughing at Taffin) fame follows up Attack The Block with what appears to be a retelling of The Sword In The Stone. As I mentioned above for Robin Hood, we’ve already had the gangsta, ‘gritty’ retelling, so what’s left? This seems more like a coming of age comedy, so could be good.

Boy Erased

Speaking of coming of age, this looks like a Joel Edgerton passion project. I prefer coming of age films to be universal, and this seems to focus on a gay kid in a religious small town. Having said that, I generally like these films and the cast and director are all strong, so hoping it’s good.

Let us know in the comments which films you’re looking forward to!

 

Lifeboat

*Crappy review originally from 2003 after my first watch – it’s now one of my favourites.

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Lifeboat is an early experimental film by Alfred Hitchcock, one mainly taking place in the limited confines of a lifeboat. A US ship has been bombed, and a number of survivors reach a lifeboat. Connie Porter is a self-interested, strong-willed reporter, Kovac is anti-German due to the war, and each of the other characters have their own problems and opinions. When a young mother kills herself after her baby dies, the crew become closer and try to find a way out of their situation, deciding to sail for Bermuda even though their compass is broken. When a German joins the boat they crew argue over what to do – some don’t trust him, others say they cannot just throw him out. The German says he knows which way Bermuda is and the others follow his course. He has another agenda though, appearing to lead them to a Nazi supply ship, keeping the water and food pills for himself. When he lets one of the group die they turn against him in typically brutal fashion. However, was he genuinely trying to help them? And how will the group escape now?

The film is of course character driven, but unfortunately many of the characters are not as interesting as the core group and no matter what happens they seem passive and unemotional. Each actor does well even if none stand out and the tension continues to build by small degrees until the last 15 minutes or so. Hitchcock would hone these elements in later films such as Rear Window and Rope, films which also center on a number of moral debates while taking place in a single set. It is interesting because we inevitably ask ourselves what we would do in such a situation, who we would trust, what prejudices would we put aside or exploit to ensure our survival.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Lifeboat!