171. 25th Hour (US 2003)

Convicted drug dealer's last day of freedom before a long prison sentence.

 

Spike Lee's films are usually rubbish, but this is underrated and well worth two hours of your time. Ed Norton's as good as ever as the condemned Montgomery Brogan (?!) and the usual people who are usually good in these sort of things  such as Brian Cox, Philip Seymour Hoffman (was he born middle aged?) and Barry Pepper are unusually good.

Lee can't help being preachy at times and there's a forced state of the nation address as Norton/Brogan spews out invective about the blights to society that are spoiling the world and there's a big 9/11 metaphor that gets just too literal at times. Otherwise great acting, good direction and the splendid Rosario Dawson (daughter of  Les) all for the price of a pint (if a pint cost 3 and you'd hired the DVD from the little shop round the corner from me.)

Roas

 

 

 

 

Rosario Dawson

162. Night of the Demon (GB 1957)

An American academic is given a runic message and has thirty six hours to live before being destroyed by a fiend from hell.

An odd little film. Director Jacques Tourneur (disappointingly and prosaically pronounced Jakes Turner) produces a number of memorable moments to accompany a large number of turgid ones. Dana Andrews plays American psychologist John Holden, a visiting Professor of Proving Scary Things Don't Exist.

Andrews is an unlikely academic mainly due to his barely controlled Foghorn Leghorn accent. Nothing in this film suggests that he has anything more than the North American equivalent of a grade 'E' GCSE in CDT, but he still gets to outwit the obviously cleverer British Satanist Julian (clue #1) Carswell who lives with his mum (the clincher) in a game of hide the runic symbol in a ciggie packet on the London-Brighton line.

There are some great scenes. The spectral gathering of cloud that precedes the appearance of the demon is the best bit (the demon itself is a bit rubbish) and there are sinister mirage POV shots when the world appears not as it seems to piss poor academic Dana International.

               

And yes, there is a sample from the film on Kate Bush's Hounds of Love single:

"It's in the trees, it's coming! Some people are on the pitch! Is she still going out with that bassist with the muzzie? Why wasn't it me? Clarke! One nil!"

Andrews shamed the Blues' away mob by running from the solitary Swansea fan.

163. Final Destination (US 2000)

A group of teenagers realise that they are being stalked and killed by Death itself.

The usual collection of high school types. The usual Agatha Christie 'Ten Little (ahem) Indians' scenario. But the great twist is that Death himself is killing them off by one using a variety of imaginative methods.

Early on in the film is the best plane crash in film history (well, on par with Cast Away)- a horrible dream sequence shows the plane falling apart and the travellers being incinerated or ripped out of the plane into the open sky.

The dream sequence is an omen and in a brilliant cinematic moment, the actual plane explodes (without the usual narrative telegraphing) in the top left hand corner of the frame.

The rest of the film can't hope to compete with such a strong opening. Anonymous teenagers and their teacher are almost ritually dispatched by the Grim Reaper and there's a reasonably clever feel bad ending in preparation for Final Destination 2.

 

A decent horror film and a genuine argument for avoiding air travel in favour of a midweek caravan experience at the Robin Hood camp in  Llandudno.

 

164. True Romance (US 1993)

Video store worker and prostitute go on the run after stealing cocaine from gangsters.

 

A problematical film. Stylistically adept and well performed, but a number of bad points:

  . Gratuitous and misogynist violence for the benefit of pervs and other degenerates.

   . Dennis Hopper's 'n*****s' speech. Just disgraceful.

   . Gary Oldman; another mannered, terrible performance, not helped by some truly ghastly dialogue.

But many good points:

  . Good direction from the normally bombastically inclined Tony Scott.

   . A very good performance from Dennis Hopper, good performances from the usual suspects (Walken, Gandolfini) and surprisingly ok performance from Christian Slater.

  . Patricia Arquette; not as good as her sister, but....no idea why I'm trying to qualify that one. Just splendid.

165. Buffalo 66 (US 1998)

Ex con plans revenge on man who missed vital Super Bowl field goal.

A film that creates its own rules. Vincent Gallo wrote the screenplay and music as well as starring and directing.

Gallo plays Billy Brown, a man imprisoned after 'taking the rap' for another man's crime to pay off a betting debt to gangster Mickey Rourke. Billy desperately seeks the love of his Buffalo Bills obsessed 'mom' and it is this desire for love/recognition that leads him into making the bet.

The plot, though convoluted, is in many ways incidental. Gallo shows off his understanding of French New Wave, David Lynch and and lots of other aspects of left field film making, but makes the film his own with a number of original touches (particularly his flashback methods and the final meeting with footballer Scott Wood) and the force of his obsessive personality which blurs the line between man and performer.

A great cast ( Rourke, Jan Michael Vincent, Ben Gazzara, Christina Ricci and of course, Rosanna Arquette - hurrah!) but best of all is Angelica Huston as the Bills' number one fan. Her obsession with the missed field goal captures the essence of all right thinking people's stress related pain after Bryan Hamilton's winner was disallowed.....

Don't start me.

((Best I could find. Couldn't find an Everton one anywhere.)

Mind you, on the same page I found this gentleman:

Scary or what?

 

163. Sands of the Kalhari (US/GB 1965)

A motley group of travellers try to survive the aftermath of crashing in the desert.

The usual ship of fools nonsense and not very good. Stanley Baker plays a wimpish Brit, Suzannah York plays  the slag, and Stuart Whitman plays the macho Yank who replicates the alpha male behaviour of the nearby baboon colony. 

The only part worth recommending is the ending. Whitman has become more violent and Darwinian as the film progresses and ignores his chance to leave when rescue arrives. Instead he strives to become the hardest baboon and takes on the biggest male in the colony in a barney.

Baker trounced Whitman in the defecating contest.

An aerial shot shows the rest of the baboon troupe closing in on Whitman as the fight comes to an end.

 

Probably a bit more profound if you're eleven, come to think of it.

 

165. Rolling Thunder (US 1977)

American marine returns home after years of Khmer Rouge imprisonment. His wife and child are killed by robbers. He seeks his revenge.

Proof that William Devane can act. This man has been in so much rubbish over the years that it was hard to re-visit Paul Schrader's rather miserable little tale. Some good scenes and some decent acting, but not as good as top-class exploitation video nasty The Exterminator which popped its ugly head up two years later to plough the same sordid furrow.  (And will appear in 171-80 now that I've thought about it.)

Supposedly Quentin Tarantino's favourite film. Along with about 10,000 others.

 

168. A.I. (US 2002)

Android dreams of 'real boy' status.

Lots of Spielberg sentimentality, but lots to recommend. Particularly impressive is Spielberg's use of a variety of saturated and non-saturated film stock to make non-Spielberg looking film. The special effects are impressive (particularly the Manhattan sea-scape and the destined-for-destruction damaged androids in a modern take on gladiatorial combat.) 

Many people felt sick after the treacly reunion of boy and mommy (she was just a hard hearted bitch and wasn't worth the 2000 year wait, believe me), at the end of the film, but I was too impressed with the Giacometti aliens to be unduly fussed by a bit of sentiment (What's wrong with you bastards? Can't you accept a little love in your hearts?)

169.Goodfellas (US 1989)

Henry Hill becomes a gangster.

Same as The Godfather (see #23). An outstanding film in every respect, but guilty of promoting the notion of 'you too can be a gangster' to every baseball capped non-entity in the country. 

And Henry Hill was rubbish at his cabaret dinner at Goodison.