Film Review – STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015; USA; FotoKem; 135m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. J. J. Abrams; w. J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt; ph. Daniel Mindel; m. John Williams.  Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Greg Grunberg, Kenny Baker, Simon Pegg, Katie Jarvis, Christina Chong, Miltos Yerolemou, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ken Leung, Harriet Walter, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Warwick Davis, Jessica Henwick, Daniel Craig, Billie Lourd, Judah Friedlander. 30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. Fans of the original trilogy will love this continuation and overlook some of its flaws – notably in originality in plot and character development. But this is the start of a new trilogy that also succeeds in capturing the spirit of those first three films. The result is a lively, action-packed and thoroughly enjoyable addition to the series. It’s great to see Ford back as Han Solo and his scenes will give older fans a warming and satisfied smile. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review Round-up – CARRY ON COWBOY (1966); PATRIOT GAMES (1992) and THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (2002)

Carry on Cowboy (1966; UK; Eastmancolor; 93m) ∗∗∗  d. Gerald Thomas; w. Talbot Rothwell; ph. Alan Hume; m. Eric Rogers.  Cast: Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Angela Douglas, Bernard Bresslaw, Peter Butterworth, Percy Herbert, Jon Pertwee, Sydney Bromley, Edina Ronay. Stodge City is in the grip of the Rumpo Kid and his gang. Mistaken identity again takes a hand as a “sanitary engineer” (plumber) by the name of Marshal P. Knutt is mistaken for a law marshal. Pretty good spoof from the team with most of the team thriving on change. Slapstick and wordplay are to the fore with Pertwee and Hawtrey particularly funny. [PG]

Patriot Games (1992; USA; Technicolor; 117m) ∗∗∗½  d. Phillip Noyce; w. W. Peter Iliff, Donald Stewart; ph. Donald McAlpine; m. James Horner.  Cast: Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Patrick Bergin, Sean Bean, Thora Birch, James Fox, Samuel L. Jackson, Polly Walker, James Earl Jones, Richard Harris, J.E. Freeman, Alex Norton, David Threlfall, Alun Armstrong, Hugh Fraser. When CIA Analyst Jack Ryan interferes with an IRA assassination, a renegade faction targets him and his family for revenge. Slick and efficient action thriller with Ford in excellent form. Lacks the sophistication of the first Jack Ryan adventure, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, but is undeniably entertaining. Followed by CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (1994). [15]

Magdalene Sisters, The (2002; Ireland/UK; Colour; 119m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Peter Mullan; w. Peter Mullan; ph. Nigel Willoughby; m. Craig Armstrong.  Cast: Geraldine McEwan, Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy, Eileen Walsh, Mary Murray, Britta Smith, Frances Healey, Eithne McGuinness, Phyllis McMahon, Rebecca Walsh, Eamonn Owens, Chris Simpson, Sean Colgan, Alison Goldie. Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum. This is a powerful and harrowing drama, brilliantly directed and acted. Its downbeat tone is often lifted by moments of humour making this both a touching and disturbing film. [18]

Film Review Round-up – COWBOYS & ALIENS (2011); THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (1985) and REBECCA (1940)

10531351-1322658704-826498Cowboys & Aliens (2011; USA; DeLuxe; 119m) ∗∗∗  d. Jon Favreau; w. Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby; ph. Matthew Libatique; m. Harry Gregson-Williams.  Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Abigail Spencer, Buck Taylor, Matthew Taylor, Cooper Taylor, Clancy Brown, Paul Dano, Chris Browning, Adam Beach, Sam Rockwell, Ana de la Reguera, Noah Ringer, Brian Duffy, Keith Carradine, Walton Goggins. A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way. Starts out well but quickly descends into formula. Technical aspects are strong and Ford and Craig add much needed weight to an otherwise uninspired story.  Based on the comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Extended version runs to 135m. [12]

41WAWC1EV0LPurple Rose of Cairo, The (1985; USA; DuArt; 82m) ∗∗∗½  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Gordon Willis; m. Dick Hyman.  Cast: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Van Johnson, Alexander H. Cohen, Dianne Wiest, Zoe Caldwell, John Wood, Milo O’Shea, Deborah Rush, Edward Herrmann, Karen Akers, Michael Tucker, Glenn Headly. In 1930s New Jersey, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world. Clever fantasy comedy with sharp observations about the importance of escapism in the cinema during the depression era and wry observations about the Hollywood machine. [PG]

3003_frontRebecca (1940; USA; B&W; 130m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Alfred Hitchcock; w. Robert E. Sherwood, Joan Harrison, Philip MacDonald, Michael Hogan; ph. George Barnes; m. Franz Waxman.  Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny, C. Aubrey Smith, Gladys Cooper. A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband’s dead first wife. Absorbing and atmospheric mystery drama brilliantly acted and directed with evocative cinematography. Winner of Oscars for Best Picture and Best Cinematography, and received nominations for nine additional Oscars. Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier. [PG]

Film Review Round-up – INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008); MY GUN IS QUICK (1957) and M*A*S*H: GOODBYE, FAREWELL AND AMEN (1983)

IJatKotCS_TPBIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008; USA; DeLuxe; 122m) ∗∗∗  d. Steven Spielberg; w. David Koepp, George Lucas, Jeff Nathanson; ph. Janusz Kaminski; m. John Williams; ed. Michael Kahn.  Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine, Andrew Divoff, Alan Dale, Dimitri Diatchenko, Ilia Volokh, Emmanuel Todorov, Venya Manzyuk, Pavel Lychnikoff. Famed archaeologist/adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls. Good to see Ford back as Indy in this belated retread. Highly choreographed action sequences give the movie a manufactured feel, but at times it recalls the spirit of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. [12]

My_Gun_is_Quick_PosterMy Gun is Quick (1957; USA; B&W; 90m) ∗∗½  d. Phil Victor, George White; w. Richard Collins, Richard Powell; ph. Harry Neumann; m. Marlin Skiles; ed. Frank Sullivan.  Cast: Robert Bray, Whitney Blake, Patricia Donahue, Donald Randolph, Pamela Duncan, Booth Colman, Jan Chaney, Genie Coree, Richard Garland, Charles Boaz, Peter Mamakos, Claire Carleton, Phil Arnold, John Dennis, Terence de Marney. Private detective Mike Hammer helps a prostitute being assaulted, and notices that she is wearing a very unique ring. She is later found murdered and there is no trace of the ring, which turns out to be part of a cache of jewellery stolen by the Nazis during World War II and smuggled out of France after the wary by an American army colonel. Bray delivers a one-note performance in this flat and loose adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s novel. [PG]

51hG7Ro-+1LM*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen (TV) (1983; USA; DeLuxe; 120m) ∗∗∗½  d. Alan Alda; w. Alan Alda, Burt Metcalfe, John Rappaport, Dan Wilcox, Thad Mumford, Elias Davis, David Pollock, Karen Hall; ph. Dominic Palmieri; m. Johnny Mandel (theme), Lionel Newman (supervisor); ed. Larry L. Mills, Stanford Tischler.  Cast: Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Loretta Swit, David Ogden Stiers, Jamie Farr, William Christopher, Allan Arbus, G.W. Bailey, Rosalind Chao, John Shearin, Kellye Nakahara, Jeff Maxwell. In the closing days of the Korean War, the staff of the 4077 M*A*S*H Unit find themselves facing irrevocable changes in their lives. Mixes drama, comedy, pathos and sentiment in an expert way that echoed the strengths of the series. This became the most-watched television broadcast in American History. [PG]