0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Easy Rider (1969).
Starring: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson.
Director: Dennis Hopper.
Synopsis: Two drifters motorcycle across the USA.
Dean's comments: The first thing I have to say about ’Easy Rider’ is that it has an outstanding soundtrack, an almost endless collection of classic 60’s rock anthems punctuate this seminal film about the much-sought-after freedom of the American dream in the mid-to-late twentieth centaury. Dennis Potter and Peter Fonda play the freedom-seeking duo who ride across America from California to New Orleans in search of the ‘Mardi Gras’. The real star of the show is Jack Nicholson, who plays a powerful man in a small town who used to be a dreamer like Potter and Fonda. He joins in for the ride but is murdered by local hicks who don’t understand that the freedom they have so much pride in America for is the same freedom that should allow people to grow their hair long and live in communes smoking pot. The film is almost one of two halves cut together, one is shots of the US outback and long highway tracks of motorbikes sailing along the road, a second is a series of brilliant set-pieces. Such set pieces include small-town harassment of Potter and Fonda, Nicholson getting stoned before discussing aliens and the American fear of those who live free and a psychedelic trip in New Orleans. The film’s final scene could be nihilistic, but it makes a powerful statement about everything else that has occurred. I shan’t give away what happens though. The film may appear to be very slow in starting, but persevere, as it soon evolves into a classic of American cinema.
Rating: 8/10.

Educating Rita (2002).
Starring: Michael Caine, Julie Walters.
Director: Lewis Gilbert.
Synopsis: A young woman decides to go back to university, in doing so she re-ignites the passion for education in her aged tutor.
Dean's comments: This is really top stuff. As someone who has spent a lot of his life in academia and a university setting, I completely sympathise with Michael Caine's character. He is totally uninterested in education and has lost any enthusiasm for the younger generation of students. He has become immersed in the 'ivory towers' of his college and has forgotten that for the vast majority of people university is an untouchable and exclusive place where dreams come true. Julie Waters plays that character, the power of her charisma overcomes the years of depression and disappointment that the university has bred in Caine's role. This isn't some cheap 'feel good' film; Waters has lots of funny lines and the ending makes total sense and rounds off the plot. No sickly sweet Hollywood endings here. Note that the film is actually shot at Trinity college in Dublin.
Rating: 7/10.

The Element of Crime (1984).
Starring: Michael Elphick, Me Me Lai, Esmond Knight.
Director: Lars Von Trier.
Synopsis: An inspector investigates a series of murders that display a disturbing pattern.
Dean's comments: Lars Von Trier's directorial debut is, to say the least, a very strange film. His use of browns, yellows and blacks gives the film a strong distopean feel as Michael Elphick's character follows a trail of murder and rape around central Europe. The film has lots of weird and inexplicable imagery (the final shot involves a weasel in a drain?) which almost made me think I was looking at a David Lynch piece. The film has plenty of twists and bends as Elphick (as 'Fisher') tries to decipher the notes of the rapidly-going-insane police chief and crack the case. There were plenty of times in the film where I was convinced that most of the main characters were in fact the murderer. In this sense the film is very entertaining as it keeps you guessing all the way through, it's entertaining in another sense as you marvel at the weirdness of the imagery.
Rating: 6/10.

Elephant (2003).
Starring: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen.
Director: Gus Van Sant.
Synopsis: Gritty drama about two youths planning to attack their local school.
Dean's comments: Here we have a film which is obviously a commentary on the issues surrounding the Columbine High School massacre. The film doesn't use actors, at the kids in the film are just kids from a real school. This means for a disturbingly 'real' experience, with long takes of the children discussing their lives and just being young, enjoying the simplicity and ease of being young in the modern world. The roles that Eric and Alex play, those of the mass-murderers are even more disturbing. Very little commentary on why they are about to commit these crimes is given, the only hint being a fantastic juxtaposition between playing a violent computer game and playing the piano. This is similar in a way to what Anthony Burgess was trying to say in 'A Clockwork Orange', knee-jerk reactions to societies ills rarely prove accurate. Alex and Eric eventually carry out their crimes after a long period of meticulous and cold planning which sent a chill to my spine. The children, in whom we have spent so much time invested learning their lives, are cut down in a mechanical manner. Thus the horror and callousness of such killings is presented without editorialisation or prejudice.
Rating: 7/10.

The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars episode 5 (1980).
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher.
Director: Irvin Kershner.
Synopsis: With the Death Star in ruins, Luke travels to meet Yoda to continue his training.
Dean's comments: The follow up to the original Star Wars film is probably the best of the rest in the series. The film kicks off with a great series of action set-pieces as the empire assault an ice world where the remnants of the rebels reside after the events of the previous film. This gets us right back into the Star Wars world and straight back into the action that we loved from the first. We can forgive the now familiar "invention of AT-ATs and AT-STs so we can sell them as toys" because the people involved are still the most important things. Luke is still very annoying and whiney but his encounters with the now legendary green puppet hint at a future of greatness. The ending is a classic piece of cinema too, leaving us at the nadir of the trilogy. Let's not forget the best lines, all given to Harrison Ford; his response to Leah telling him that she loves him: "I know." Several other exchanges between the characters are genius too, one of the best being: Leah: "Captain; being held by you isn't quite enough to get me excited!", Solo's response: "Sorry sweetheart. I haven't got time for anything else.". What a scoundrel!
Rating: 6/10.

Enigma (2001).
Starring: Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott.
Director: Michael Apted.
Synopsis: During the second world war, a race is on to crack the German millitary codes.
Dean's comments: I rather enjoyed this love story / political thriller when I saw it at the cinema. Kate Winslet is a very good actress and she plays the slightly geeky code-breaker very well. Scott is great as the ridiculously geeky mathematician who I assume is based around Alan Turing. The film works because it has several levels to its plot, there are the imminent U-boat attacks, the plot to conceal Stalin's atrocities against Poles and the awkward relationship igniting between the two leads in an atmosphere of secrecy. Throw in two really good actors and you've got yourself a pretty good film which most people should enjoy (i.e. you don't have to have lived through the war to get it; although more than half of the audience in the cinema were 60 year old women). Let's not forget that there is a smattering of maths in the film too, always worth a bonus point or two.
Rating: 6/10.

Enduring Love (2004).
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton.
Director: Roger Michell.
Synopsis: A lethal accident brings two stangers together.
Dean's comments: The film opens with a idyllic scene, a man and woman enjoy a picnic on a beautiful English field. A hot air balloon passes behind the couple at dangerously low levels, an old man and child are trapped on the balloon, several men rush to the rescue. 4 men grab onto the balloon in order to restrain its flight, as the balloon starts to rise 3 let go, the forth man holds on until he is too high, falling to his death. This event changes the life of Joe, played by Daniel Craig, as he is pursued by Jed, played by Rhys Ifans, a man who becomes obsessed with the idea that they share a spiritual bond because of their shared experience. Evans is brilliant as Jed, a man who seems simple and unassuming yet hides fanatically religious beliefs and will not allow Joe to get on with his life. Joe also becomes consumed by his memories of the event, expressing his psychosis through drawings and debates with his students. The film is a rather good psychological drama but lacks a little in that Jed's character seems a little too psychotic (however well Evans plays him). There is also a running undercurrent of philosophy which isn't maximised by the screenwriters. I have not read the book upon which the film is based, and I didn't see enough in 'Enduring Love' to make me want to read it.
Rating: 6/10.

Erasorhead (2002).
Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart.
Director: David Lynch.
Synopsis: Henry Spencer discovers that he is the father of a hideous alien lifeform, his life begins to descend into anarchy.
Dean's comments: This is really really weird. Did I mention that this is weird? Because this is weird. If ever there was a film that screamed "This is David Lynch speaking!!" then 'Erasorhead' does that. From its opening scenes of falling through space and wandering through and industrial wasteland to the woman in the radiator and the erasers made from Spencer's head, this is a mind-bending journey through the depths of the Human psyche and the male fear of pregnancy. Most of the images are so weird and odd that they keep you totally glued to the screen while you struggle to interpret meanings, the alien baby for example I presume represents Spencer's fear of having children and worry that things will turn out badly. The film has an enormous problem; it really is too weird even for me. I think that most people will be so confused by the concoction of images presented on their screens that they wont get the point. Indeed I feel I've missed the point. Unfortunately Lynch has gone beyond the realms of comprehensible story telling with this film.
Rating: 4/10.

Les Espions (1957).
Starring: Peter Ustinov, Curd Jurgens.
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Synopsis: Classic spy shenanigans in 1950's rural France.
Dean's comments: Any film that ends with the screen going black and the legend "FIN" appearing (as long as it isn't a spoof) has to be worth a viewing. 'Les Espions' is pretty funny in places and contains lots of things that have since become stock-in-trade devices for spy dramas. The trouble is that is goes on a little too long and could do with losing 30 minutes off it's running time. Fortunately though the mystery is pretty interesting and the final scene genius. Give this film a go it you fancy something different or if you're a fan of the cold-war spy genre, don't be surprised if you find your interest waning in the middle.
Rating: 4/10.

E.T. (1982).
Starring: Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Synopsis: A friendly alien creature finds his home in a small American home.
Dean's comments: Can someone please tell me what the big deal is with E.T? It is rubbish. Whenever I think of E.T. all I can think of is soppy American kids being daft, a stupid alien creature that isn't cute and a film whose highlight involves riding a bike through the air. Riding a bike in the air? Why is that amazing, I'm certain you can see the strings in the background. What is an alien that dotty doing traipsing around the galaxy in a spaceship, his species should have disappeared long ago due to lameness. Spielberg needs to be ashamed of having anything to do with this patronising, annoying, pro-American-dream smarm-fest.
Rating: 2/10.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).
Starring: Jim Carey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood.
Director: Michel Gondry.
Synopsis: A man in an eccentric relationship with an eccentric woman tries to forget all memory of her by undergoing an experimental medical process.
Dean's comments: This film is fantastic, and no surprise that it comes from the same people who did 'Being John Malkovich'. The opening 20 minutes of the film seem somewhat confusing as we are introduced to Jim Carey's character before the title sequence. He travels to a seemingly random location for no apparent reason, stumbling accross Winslet they seem to click together. We are soon introduced to the realities of their past relationship, that they decided to have their memories erased once their relationship got too crazy. The way that the story is told, in a non-linear style, allows their relationship to be explored in a unique way which draws the viewer in to their world. As well as Carey and Winslet acting their socks off, the supporting cast (Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood) are all brilliant. The journey that the audience takes through the mind of Carey's character as he under-goes his memory removal reveals all the secrets and eccentricities of their relationship, all the time Carey's character is trying to retain memories of his love. So what is it all about? Destiny? True love being forever? Love being crazy? Maybe all of these things but mixed in with a fair dose of knowing humour and post-modern storytelling that makes the entire experience one which you'll want to go through again. This is a film that could go down as a classic in years to come.
Rating: 8/10.

Etre et Avoir (2002).
Starring: Georges Lopez, The children of rural France.
Director: Nicholas Filibert.
Synopsis: Documentary following a year in the life of a rural teacher in France.
Dean's comments: Well isn't this a pretty and heart-warming film. Not heart-warming in the way that a Holywood film is, but in being genuinely interested in the lives of ordinary rural children the film takes us into their lives and makes us hope that maybe the world isn't that bad after all. The teacher himself seems to be some kind of saintly creature, if only this man could be replicated and sent around the world to bring kids up. The funniest scene is the one where a child's family try to help him with his maths homework, the entire family seem to struggle over these simple mathematical tasks. This shows how much they care for the education of their son though, an attitude that surely derives from the behaviour of the teacher. Ultimately the film is an exercise in liberal education values, respect in schools works both ways, having a small number of children per teacher and the teacher being individually involved in the child's education.
Rating: 6/10.

Event Horizon (1997).
Starring: Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne.
Director: Paul S W Anderson.
Synopsis: A spaceship returns from a black hole with something evil onboard..
Dean's comments: A lot of people seem to think that this is a brilliant horror film. I was unimpressed by their attempts to scare people by just using nastier and nastier special effects. Let's have a bit of atmosphere please.
Rating: 2/10.

The Evil Dead (1981).
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich, Betsey Barker, Teresa Tily.
Director: Sam Raimi.
Synopsis: 5 young Americans go into the woods and unwittingly unleash hell.
Dean's comments: This is the number one original teen horror film. Lambasted in its day for being a terrible 'video nasty', that kind of accusation seems rather out of place in the modern world. None of the shock value and genuine terror felt by the characters in the film has been lost over time. Sam Raimi managed, with this one film, to set up almost every cliche that would ever be used or seen over the next 15 years of teen horror before 'Scream' came along and injected a much-needed dose of post modern humour. The content of the film itself can only really be considered 'nasty' if one forgets to bring one's sense of humour, really bad make up and animatronic heads decomposing are hardly a cause for banning a film. Fans of horror will love 'The Evil Dead', society's more prudish element may still be up in arms about it but the world is moving on without them.
Rating: 6/10.

The Evil Dead 2 (1987).
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie DePaiva, Denise Bixler.
Director: Sam Raimi.
Synopsis: A man is trapped in a forest cabin with a pile of evil demons.
Dean's comments: So is Bruce Campbell playing the same character in this film or not? Plot? Who cares, give us action, gorey deaths, disembodied voices and floating heads, throw in some classic cheesy lines ('Groovy') and a super final scene to get a horror classic that the Mary Whitehouse brigade will simply never understand; It's not supposed to be real Mary, you're supposed to laugh. Yep, 'Evil Dead 2' is a comedy; how else are we meant to react to the duff SFX, disembodied hand and silly make up if not by laughing? Sam Raimi sure know how to parody the horror genre. It's just a shame that the copy of 'Evil Dead 2' I found was of such bad quality, they didn't have the DVD in the rental store.
Rating: 6/10.

The Exorcist (1973).
Starring: Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn.
Director: William Friedkin.
Synopsis: A girl is posessed by an evil spirit and needs to be exorcised by a priest.
Dean's comments: A classic horror film, 'The Exorcist' broke new boundaries in cinema in it's use of special effects and subliminal imagery. The film itself though isn't great, mainly containing a big pile of blasphemies and half shocking scenes involving a teenage girl. The final couple of sequences, which involve the exorcism of the demon from the girl, is fairly legendary and has influenced the depiction of 'evil' in films ever since. This is a film to watch if you're interested in the history of the horror genre and you want to be scared at the same time.
Rating: 5/10.

The Eye (2002).
Starring: Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou.
Director: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun (what?).
Synopsis: A woman who has an eye transplant begins to experience strange things...
Dean's comments: This thriller out of Hong Kong is pretty scary stuff. The idea that a random body part becomes evil or posessed isn't particularly new but 'The Eye' manages to make the formula work in this instance. When it comes down to it though, there isn't a lot more than a couple of thrills here. Horror fans will probably enjoy watching this.
Rating: 5/10.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman.
Director: Stanley Kubrik.
Synopsis: A successful doctor goes out for a night he will never forget after arguing with his wife.
Dean's comments: If someone wants to email me and tell me what is so great about a film which barely has a plot and revels in pretending that looking at naked women is art rather than titillation, then please feel free. As far as I can tell, the point of the plot is to teach Tom Cruise’s character a number of life lessons. Amongst these is the fact that no matter how rich and powerful he may feel there is always someone with more. On an all-night trawl though New York’s low and high life, he also learns that nothing is ever as it seems and that loyalty to his wife is probably the best way to conduct his sex life – hardly ground-breaking lessons in life but apparently worthy of 150 minutes of film. In addition to the pompous way in which the plot treats its obvious message, I am irritated by the director’s pretence that it’s ok to look at naked girls as long as it’s done in an artistic manner. If people want to see Nicole Kidman’s tits then can she please just get on with getting them out rather than farting around pretending that it means something more than it does by using pasted-shaded lighting? Of course the fact that Tom Cruise’s character finds it so easy to turn down umpteen sexual encounters in one night is not irritating in the slightest. I finished watching the film wondering what the point of all of it was; perhaps it was nothing more than an excuse to get Cruise and Kidman (a couple at the time of filming) to have sex on screen.
Rating: 2/10.

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