One of my earliest cinema memories is of my Dad taking me to see the original release of Return of the Jedi, at the tender age of five. Although I hadn’t yet seen Empire Strikes Back one of our more affluent family friends had given me the privilege of viewing Star Wars (now officially known as A New Hope) on their fancy, state of the art, Betamax video player and I was hooked. Return of the Jedi lived up to all my fantastic expectations and a couple of years later I was able to fill in the blanks when I finally got round to seeing the second episode of the trilogy.
During the next 10 years of my life numerous rumours surfaced about further Star Wars instalments, each time bringing me out in heart palpitations. In 1993 it was finally announced that Mr Lucas was in fact going to make a sequel trilogy (spoiler alert!) depicting the events which resulted in Anakin Skywalker turning to the dark side and becoming Darth Vader. Seeing the Special Editions on the big screen in 1997 filled me with even more fervour and finally in 1999, to much fanfare, The Phantom Menace was released. And it was f***ing diabolical*.
We've been given copies of two superb, nostalgia-smothered excerpts from the back catalogue of the legendary British House of Horrors, Hammer.
These classic historical adventures receive their world DVD debut on January 16th courtesy of StudioCanal in the UK. The Brigand of Kandahar was the last in Hammer's long co-production deal with Columbia Pictures and is set in 1850s India. The Scarlet Blade is an adventure set during the troubled English Civil War. Both films star Oliver Reed and were directed by John Gilling.
2011 was a pretty damn good year for film. But, as ever, there were some utter stinkers. Films so bad, so egregious, so unpleasantly whiffy that every last copy should be hunted down, lined up and shot in the head. We'll be picking the top (or bottom) three in each category, but before we get onto the winners/losers, these films very nearly - but not quite - made it into this year's Hall of Infamy.
Johnny English Reborn - This man was Blackadder? Really?
Season of the Witch - Deserves a stake in the heart. Cage doesn't even lose his shit!
The Zookeeper - Why do people keep paying Kevin James?
Soul Surfer - Dennis Quaid wasn't paying attention in Jaws 3.
It's the Golden Globes later tomorrow night, but there's no need to stay up late for the first hints as to which way the Academy will be voting later this Spring - you can keep it right here, because our team of talented writers have been voting all week in the first annual Plexies.
It's nice and simple - we have five categories, with three winners in each. We'll break things down into five nice bite-sized chunks - the categories in reverse order are as follows:
Hmmm... What did Nic Cage star in this year...?
A clue - this one is an absolute walkover.
Could Kirsten Wiig make it with a comedy? Or has Streep handbagged her way to the top?
Fincher? Winding Refn? Scorcese? Spielberg?
Drive? We Need to Talk About Kevin? The Artist is coming up quickly on the rails...
We'll get the ball rolling tomorrow with the worst film of the year. Michael Bay has got to be in here somewhere, right?
Like this film’s eponymous mercenaries, I’m in uncharted territory here. In Google-world, there are almost no reviews – or no one who will admit to one – no production notes and no one can hear you scream.
Lauded by all and sundry as the film to beat during the upcoming awards season, The Artist is finally released carrying - ironically for a silent film - the baggage of more hyperbole and superlatives from the mouths of critics than the most celebrated “talkie”. How lucky we are then that we have undoubtedly one of the best films of the year released within the first week of January because the bar has been set very, very high with this one, and I can't see many upcoming releases knocking it off its lofty perch.
Phyllida Lloyd’s Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady has managed the commendable feat of managing to displease both wings of the political spectrum. The left feel it humanises the former Prime Minister too much and whitewashes over the true impact of her policies. The right meanwhile feels it is out to embarrass and belittle Thatcher by focusing on and exaggerating her struggle with dementia. Both sides’ arguments perhaps have some validity but the point they are both missing is this, on a purely cinematic level and setting all political allegiances aside, the film is just plain boring.
As David Cameron declares war on non-mainstream cinema a mostly silent, entirely black and white and technically French film is filling our brave nation’s cinemas with delighted audiences. I am of course talking about Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist. It isn’t a radical position to be enthusiastic about this film; it was the toast of Cannes and has topped numerous best of 2011 lists. Much as the iconoclast hipster within me wants to hate something everyone else loves I can’t help adoring this film. Naturally, now that there is Oscar buzz naysayers are coming out the woodwork declaring that the film is a shallow pleasure and Kim Novak, star of Vertigo, has even said that she felt raped* by the film.
The producers of James Bond's Skyfall are keenly aware of the differences between the universally acclaimed Casino Royale and the unanimously disregarded Quantum of Solace, a competent director, finished script and good title are just a few of those problems being addressed for the 23rd entry into the unkillable James Bond franchise.
Another, subtler difference between the two films would be the presence of Daniel Craig in unreasonably snug trunks. Casino Royale had it, Quantum of Solace didn't. Which film is in frequent rotation in your spouse/partner/sibling/parents collection? I thought so.
Yesterday saw the release of the first trailer for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. It tells the story of a pair of young’uns who fall in love, and run off into the wild. Being a Wes Anderson film, you can expect the kooky music, bright colours, and overriding theme that maybe the world ain’t so awful after all!