Aliens

The moon from Alien has been colonised, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough?

Aliens ranks highly among both the best and worst things for movie sequels. The good is what you’ll already know, whether you’ve seen the movie or not: Aliens is a great sequel because it’s really quite different to its predecessor. The bad is what only occurred to me as I considered what came after it: James Cameron put the idea in the heads of Ridley Scott et al. that this was a world that needed to be exhaustively explored. Continue reading “Aliens”

Stand By Me

After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy.

The first time I saw a dead body was, like the characters in Stand By Me, in the company of three friends. From the top of bales of hay stacked twenty feet high, Dan, Jacob, Joe and I saw a swarm of flies pestering the body of a sheep – its guts were hanging out. But for such a relatable story, Stand By Me falls a little short of my own childhood’s sense of adventure. Continue reading “Stand By Me”

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke.

For so cruel and unforgiving a villain as Darth Vader, one doesn’t expect him to fail. And yet, that’s exactly what he does – letting Luke Skywalker (shock twist: his own son) slip through his fingers in the closing moments of The Empire Strikes Back. It’s far from a victory for the good guys, though. It’s proven to be a gruelling two hours, and as the credits roll, I’m still left wondering if A Fool’s Hope would have been a more accurate title for the trilogy’s opening instalment. Continue reading “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”

Cinema Paradiso

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village’s theatre and formed a deep friendship with the theatre’s projectionist.

“An enchanted village. A wonderful friendship. Star-crossed lovers. And the magic of the movies.” Cinema Paradiso hits every one of these beats. I celebrated, laughed and cried in all the right places. But, as Tornatore’s obituary to classic movie theatresCinema Paradiso doesn’t capture what the movies mean to me – it’s a lamentation for a filmgoing generation I was never a part of. Continue reading “Cinema Paradiso”

Amadeus

The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri – now confined to an insane asylum.

Amadeus is the story of two creative geniuses whose overlapping passions forge one of the most interesting and engrossing cinematic rivalries I’ve ever seen – not a result of circumstance or even history, but rather the work of F. Murray Abraham’s Antonio Salieri and Tom Hulce’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Continue reading “Amadeus”

Die Hard

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Die Hard has jumped the list. It’s one of my favourite films, certainly my favourite action film, and I was saving the joy of talking about it. There seems to be no more appropriate time. Continue reading “Die Hard”

My Neighbour Totoro

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

I’m a reluctant member of the generation of Western cinephiles who have embraced Studio Ghibli’s exotic storytelling, characters, and fantasies. This reluctance in no way comes from the source material. It comes from not wanting to be misallocated to the kawaii Tumblr crowd who get the fucking Totoro tattooed on themselves because they’re just so unique. Continue reading “My Neighbour Totoro”

Full Metal Jacket

A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanising effects the Viet Nam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.

Full Metal Jacket doesn’t come across as a traditional war film any more than The Shining comes across as a traditional horror film. Both, in what I’m starting to see is a trend from Kubrick, are just meticulously executed stories about people and how weird we are. Continue reading “Full Metal Jacket”

The Princess Bride

While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.

The Princess Bride is everything an adventure film should be, and yet it slipped past my childhood unnoticed. I suppose that’s because it’s a cult film. Eurgh, I hate that phrase, but I’m using it (I suppose) to emphasise the modesty of its success upon release, and its quotability. It’s a film people go to midnight screenings of – half to actually watch the film, half to enjoy the company of other “cultists”. Continue reading “The Princess Bride”

The Shining

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

The two film genres I do not like: musicals and horror. It makes me uncomfortable to look into somebody’s eyes as they sing, and it’s a waste of time to spend half a film with my hands covering my eyes. Continue reading “The Shining”