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

Galaxy Quest (1999).
Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman.
Director: Dean Parisot.
Synopsis: A group of washed actors from a famous science fiction TV series get abducted by real aliens.
Dean's comments: As a huge fan of science fiction, and in particular Star Trek, I found this film very entertaining. I would recommend to anyone who is a fan (even a part time viewer) of Star Trek to take this film in. The influences that 'Galaxy Quest' takes from that seminal sci-fi TV series are many, not least modelling the lead character on Captain Kirk and Alan Rickman doing his best impression of Patrick Stewart "I am an ac-TOR!". A lot of the comedy is quite slapstick, such as the behaviour and speech patterns of the aliens, and Sigourney Weaver's character is under-used (like the female characters in Start Trek I suppose) so don't expect a classic. If you're in the mood for a bit of a light-hearted comic spoof then this is your film.
Rating: 6/10.

Galliploi (1981).
Starring: Mark Lee, Mel Gibson.
Director: Peter Weir.
Synopsis: Two young men from Western Australia sign up, for different reasons, to fight for the British Empire in Turkey.
Dean's comments: An absolute classic of a war film, a denunciation of the British Empire, an anti-war essay, a historical document on the birth of a nation, the making of a future Hollywood film star; all of these descriptions apply to 'Gallipoli'. Archie (Lee) is a lad who wants to go to war for glory and to carry on the traditions of his fore-fathers, Frank (Gibson) is a schemer who signs up after realising how few opportunities life is throwing at him elsewhere, both are slung into the hell that is the battle at Anzac cove and slowly come to realise the lies and deceit that their government had used to get them into the conflict. There is actually very little 'war' in the film, the first 45 minutes are set in Australia and show the two lads competing in running events and getting to know one another as the hitch-hike across the Australian desert, there are lots of comic and dramatic gems in this opening half of the film, Gibson especially delivers some wonderfully cheeky lines. The helplessness and futility of the first world war is made all too clear though after the boys arrive in Turkey, their friends begin to die immediately and the painful conclusion to the film is all too visible in the future. The final shot of the film is a wonderfully moving image of the main character being shot down as he runs "...like a leopard", the hopes and dreams of the youth of an entire nation destroyed by a single bullet. Simply brilliant.
Rating: 9/10.

Get Carter (1971).
Starring: Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, John Osborne, Britt Ekland.
Director: Mike Hodges.
Synopsis: A Cockney gangster travels to his Tyneside hometome in order to avenge his brother's murder.
Dean's comments: If 'The Italian Job' revealed Michael Caine's talents as a quirky cockney actor to the public of the 1960s, then 'Get Carter' revealed his talents as an actor of true range and talent to the movie-going public of the 1970s. This is a film that follows Newcastle-born, cockney-talking anti-hero Jack Carter on a mission of revenge that takes him back to his home town. He is a gangster who goes without the permission of his London bosses in order to find out what happened to his brother, a man who was killed in a car accident the previous week. Suspecting foul play, Carter unravels a web of lies, prostitution and extortion in which everyone - including his London bosses and tyneside family - seem to have a vested interest. As the web is unravelled Carter decides it is time to avenge his brother's death by killing everyone who had even the smallest knowledge of the town's seedy underbelly. Needless to say, this makes for an incredibly gruesome film in which Caine plays the stone-faced angel of death with a cold calculated stare. In a film that covers this kind of material it is no surprise that it all feels slightly hollow, almost as if the killing is occurring for no reason other than that's all Carter has been brought up to do. But this is often the case when the central character is an anti-hero. Without the traditional clichés and sign-posts telling us who to cheer and which protagonists are 'good' and 'bad', 'Get Carter' is an incredibly gritty film which occasionally borders on exploitation in its portrayal of Brit Ekland's character as nothing more than a sex object. The film bucks the trend of the usual 'cockney gangster' film though and as a result is a classic of 70s British cinema.7.
Rating: 7/10.

Ghost Dog (1997).
Starring: Forrest Whitaker.
Director: Jim Jarmusch.
Synopsis: A black mafia hit-man who lives the code of the samurai is targeted for death by his bosses.
Dean's comments: 'Ghost Dog' is an absolute gem of a film, a plethora of comic asides, ridiculous characters and philosophy make this movie a cut above the rest. The character of 'Ghost Dog' himself, played by Forrest Whitaker, is the most unlikely serene samurai hero of all time. Living on a roof with pigeons, working for the mafia, consoling himself with Eastern philosophy and having a best friend whose language he cannot understand, he is the archetypal social outcast and as such is a man with whom the audience sympathises and is interested in. The absolute comic highlight of the film is the behaviour of the 3 mafia bosses; after watching so many films where the mafia dons are aloof men surrounded in mystery and myth it's so refreshing to have this portrayal of them as nutters who sit around watching cartoons all day. I was unsure what to make of Ghost Dog's not-quite-cross-purpose conversations with his French-speaking ice-cream-van-owning 'friend' when I saw the film, but I think that as well as being a clever comic gimmick it's also trying to be rather philosophical about the nature of communication and understanding. The only people who seem to understand Ghost Dog are his friend (who can't understand his words) and the a little girl (who lives in a different world and cannot understand his life). Maybe this means that the people who are closest to you are those who are often most distant from you, they can bring a new perspective on your life.
Rating: 9/10.

Ghostbusters (1984).
Starring: Bill Murray, Sugourney Weaver, Dan Akroyd, Rick Moranis.
Director: Ivan Reitman.
Synopsis: A group of scientists set up a ghost hunting firm in contemporary New York.
Dean's comments: 'Ghostbusters' works for one very important reason, that the cast is great. Bill Murray is a genius of comedy and brings a sparkle to everything he's in, put him alongside Dan Akroyd's straight man and Sigourney Weaver as the hard-to-get single damsel in distress and you've almost got a classic before you add a plot. In fact, when I come to think of it the plot is really silly and not very good at all, everything rests on the comic timing of Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd. Of course I'm not sure that any of us kids realised that back when it came out (I was 6 years old) back in the 1980s. The great thing about it is that it's one of the only things that I thought was good when I was young that's still good now (think Transformers or Teenage Mutant Turtles, boring). Don't turn your nose up because it's a kids film (and ignore the fact that New York = the entire world) and don't ignore it because you 'enjoyed it when i was a kid'. Watch is again, its great.
Rating: 6/10.

Ghostbusters 2 (1989).
Starring: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Akroyd.
Director: Ivan Reitman.
Synopsis: The Ghostbusters return after 5 years to battle the ghosts of New York once more.
Dean's comments: The follow up to 'Ghostbusters' has lost all the comic timing and charm of the original. Shameless attempts to make money score very low in my rating system (see 'The Phantom Menace' for proof).
Rating: 2/10.

Gladiator (2000).
Starring: Russel Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Pliver Reed, Richard Harris.
Director: Ridley Scott.
Synopsis: A Roman general is betrayed on the battlefield and swears vengence against his enemies.
Dean's comments: 'Gladiator' received a lot of hype at the time of its release because is was supposed to be one of the first proper 'epic' films in a long time. That in itself doesn't make for a good film. The large set-pieces and the computer graphics used to re-create large sections of ancient Rome are certainly impressive; once again this alone does not make for a great film. The film's main problem is Russell Crowe. The guy is just far too wooden for my liking; special effects and brilliant battle sequences are good, but why should I really be upset by a Roman general being on the wrong side of a sword for once. "Unleash hell!" he says towards the start of the film; if he's going to order the deaths of all them Germanic people in the name of conquest then I say he gets what's coming to him. Watch 'Gladiator' though, the effects are breathtaking and worth the 2 hour running time.
Rating: 6/10.

The Godfather (1972).
Starring: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, James Caan, Robert Duvall.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola.
Synopsis: A young war hero involves himself in his family's organised crime business after an assassination attempt on his father goes wrong.
Dean's comments: 'Godfather' is a genuine epic film, the opening 30 minutes take us into a lavish world of expensive parties, family loyalties and sinister dealings. The great thing about the film is the arc that Al Pacino's character takes over the course of the 3 hours; starting out as a rather a childish figure within his own family, despite being a war hero, he ends up as a ruthless killer whose steely gaze gives away nothing but contempt for his enemies and suspicion of his friends. The final sequence of shots, which show Michael Corleone systematically eliminating all his opposition, encapsulate this; all because someone took a shot at his father. In this way the film is all about family, about the way that family stick together and that outsiders often aren't trusted. 'The Godfather' takes this to an extreme though, showing what happens when you let family dominate you're life. The film is a classic in another sense too, quite simply put it is the benchmark against which all epic crime dramas are tested, it's influence extends into popular culture as well as film and TV. I've watched this film several times, each time I pick up something new in the dialogue or spot another link in the chain of loyalties that I never saw previously. Each time enriches the experience and makes the film, and the series as a whole, much deeper.
Rating: 9/10.

The Godfather 2 (1974).
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola.
Synopsis: The new boss of the Corleone family seeks to solidify his position by isolating himself from eveything he has ever worked for.
Dean's comments: Let's get this bit out of the way first, 'Godfather 2' is better than 'Godfather' because of Robert DeNiro. That man is one of the best actors of his age, pulling off an amazing interpretation of the character created by Marlon Brando in the first film, DeNiro solidified his position in film history. If DeNiro is the icing on the cake, then the cake itself (i.e. the juxtaposition of the lives of the father and the son in modern and old New York) is just as perfect. There is something indescribably beautiful about the scenes in which DeNiro makes his name in the old city. His stalking of the old boss, his devotion to his wife and family and setting up his business interests are all mirrored by Al Pacino's character. The difference is that the son is already a privileged man while the father was impoverished and had to do whatever he could to survive. Michael Corleone finally goes too far even for himself when he arranges for his own brother Fredo to be assassinated. The film ends on a long and lingering shot of the mafia boss contemplating the life he's carved out for himself; alone, always in danger and, in his eyes, cursed before his god. This is the ultimate statement that 'crime doesn't pay', and is the ideal way to end the story of Michael Corleone.
Rating: 10/10.

The Godfather 3 (1990).
Starring: Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Diane Keaton.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola.
Synopsis: Michael Corleone tries to 'go straight', his family are having none of it though.
Dean's comments: As I pointed out in my review of 'Godfather 2', the final shot in that film is the perfect ending. The need to make this third episode in the series has never been made clear to me, one assumes it can only be to make some money. Now 'Godfather 3' isn't that bad, after all it does have Al Pacino in it, but it's the fact that it ruins a masterpiece of 70's cinema that annoys me. Did we really need to see Michael Corleone trying to 'go straight' while a new force takes over at the head of the family? This third part is very much an 'after-thought' to the other two, and I'm not impressed. If you loved the first two Godfather films then you'll probably think this is OK, if you don't expect anything you'll probably rather enjoy it. Also note that Sofia Coppola is utterly dire as an actress, stick to the writing love.
Rating: 6/10.

The Golden Compass (2007).
Starring: Dakota Blue Richards, Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman.
Director: Chris Weitz.
Synopsis: A young girl discovers she has the power to predict the future, and becomes embroiled in a mystical power struggle.
Dean's comments: As a huge fan of the Philip Pulman novels upon which this film is based I entered the cinema to watch it with extreme trepidation. Putting aside the insanity of Catholic groups boycotting the film, I was excited to see how much of the anti-organised religion would make it through from the book to the film - where its high profile nature makes corporate backers frightened of anything that might offend their consumers. There is very little anti-religion material in the first book, and so the film follows in the same vein. The film adaptation quite happily bounces along and tells Lyra's story of a mystical journey to the north where she saves her friends from evil gobblers. That's about the only plus point. This is a film which would have been far better were it perhaps 20 minutes longer - given more time, the writers might have been able to immerse me in Lyra's world and make things believable. As is it, the film dumps the viewer in a world which is similar to but not England with only a couple of quick minutes at the start which introduce the concept of differing factions, dust and all the other things that Pulman works so hard to lavishly weave into his novel. As a result of glossing over these concepts, they seem trite and silly when they are introduced and used later on. The worst offenders are the witches, who turn up for no reason what-so-ever to help Lyra when she most needs it. Daniel Craig is totally under-used and Dakota Blue Richards's accent shifts about uncomfortably throughout. On the plus side though, Nicole Kidman is positively seething with lusty badness as Ms Coulter - a great performance in a role that needed someone who could turn on the dark charm. I hope that part 2 will be an improvement in terms of storytelling, since there is a wonderful story to be told.
Rating: 4/10.

Goldeneye (1995).
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Izabella Scorupco, Sean Bean, Judy Dench.
Director: Martin Campbell.
Synopsis: Bond battles elements of the old Russian regime in a race to stop the 'Goldneye' weapon from being used.
Dean's comments: There is hope for the Bond franchise. 'Goldeneye' does a very good job of trying to drag the antiquated formula into the modern age of a post-cold-war world and sexual equality. Most of the Bond clichés are here, but Brosnon brings a freshness to the whole thing that seems to spark the movie into life. The producers seem to have decided that they should embrace the modern age rather than desperately trying to cling to the 60s, the introduction of Judy Dench as 'M' is a good example of this change as Bond has to take orders from a woman. It doesn't really matter that the developments in the plot are rather obvious or that Sean Bean plays an unimaginative bad guy, 'Goldeneye' signalled a brief return to form for the Bond franchise which was never really followed up.
Rating: 6/10.

Goldfinger (1964).
Starring: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe, Harold Sakata.
Director: Guy Hamilton.
Synopsis: Bond investigates Auric Goldfinger's innexplicaple hoarding of gold reserves.
Dean's comments: 'Goldfinger' is the benchmark as far as spy thrillers go in my mind. As well as being the all time classic Bond film, it encapsulates the feel of the 60's-spy-cold-war era. Sean Connery is at his best as Bond here, smooth and charming as ever with a glint in his eye and a ruthless streak when needed. The support cast make the film what it is though, Honor Blackman (already an icon of feminist empowerment due to her role in The Avengers) brings a certain gravitas to her character (ludicrously named of course, but this is the 60s) which no other actress in a Bond film has since been able to match. She feels like she is Bond's intellectual and physical equal, not because the producers tell us she is, but because she acts her socks off. Gert Frobe and Harold Sakata form the most memorable and entertaining crime lord and side kick of the duo Bond franchise, Frobe in his over-the-top portrayal of a German uber-villian and Sakata with the silliest, and therefore best, 'special power' of all time. Even ignoring the fact that this is 'Bond', 'Goldfinger' is still one of the best crime / action films ever.
Rating: 8/10.

Good Will Hunting (1997).
Starring: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Ben Affleck.
Director: Gus Van Sant.
Synopsis: A young impoverished genius is encouraged to study at university.
Dean's comments: Any film that tries to include maths automatically gets my attention. The problem with 'Good Will Hunting' is that the maths is far too abstract for anyone to understand or to have any effect on the plot. Also the entire plot is signposted and telegraphed all the way along such that nothing is a surprise, all you're left with is the genius of Robin Williams holding it all together (which he does pretty well) as Affleck and Damon are their usual wooden selves. Good to see Williams in some roles that don't rely on him playing a comic with a screw loose, shows off his acting talents.
Rating: 5/10.

Goodbye Lenin! (2003).
Starring: Daniel Bruhl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova.
Director: Wolfgang Becker.
Synopsis: At the fall of the Berlin wall, a mother has a stroke and loses consciousness for 8 months; awaking in a brave new world, her son tries to shield her from the changes in Germany.
Dean's comments: This, quite simply, is a brilliant film; first because of its simplicity and secondly because it's heart-warming without being pretentious and going down the Hollywood "feel-good" movie route. I have certain left-wing tendencies and so the film takes on a more nostalgic feel for me. I have little sympathies with the communism of Russia and East Germany; but with their oppressive regimes in ruin it becomes easier to look at them simply in terms of their opposition to capitalism and a U.S. dominated world, thus it becomes possible to paint them rather romantically. Thankfully this is just me, the film makers keep their feet firmly on the ground. They show us the improvements in living conditions that the west brings as well as the loss of community and creeping yolk of materialism that comes with it. The film is also very funny, all sorts of comedy moments arise out of the family keeping Mum in the dark as to the fall of the DDR. There is a great strength in the film's ending too, you're never quite sure where the plot is going to go even though the Mother's death seems inevitable. The tables are finally turned in the final couple of scenes as Bruhl's character is lied to by his mother to preserve his fantasy, just as he has done for her.
Rating: 8/10.

Goodfellas (1990).
Starring: Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Lorraine Braco, Joe Pesci.
Director: Martin Scorsese.
Synopsis: The life of a young man growing up and living in the mafia.
Dean's comments: This is one of the best films that has ever been made. Not because of the violence or the guns or the hype it got or mafia fan-boys going on about it or any of that, but because Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro are brilliant together and they know how to make a genuine film about the mafia. After the yardstick for mafia films being 'The Godfather' for so long, it is a fantastic experience to see a film in which the mafia is not the great 'family' but an institution with failings, problems and institutional psychoses. Scorsese's use of music, direction and voice-overs is second to none as he paints his epic image of three decades of Americana as a Mafioso. The film's opening 20 minutes shows the hope that the young Henry Hill sees in his new family while the film's final 45 minutes deals with the spiralling-out-of-control of his life and conflicts within an organisation that is essentially the same as when he joined it. In this way it's a coming-of-age film, but also a film about the loss of childhood dreams and acceptance of reality.
Rating: 10/10.

Good Night and Good Luck (2005).
Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr.
Director: George Clooney.
Synopsis: The story of Edward Murrow's campaign against the MaCarthite witch-hunts of 1950s USA.
Dean's comments: The problem with all politically motivated dramas is that the people who are likely to watch them are most likely to be the people who have already been convinced by their arguments. George Clooney's production about the ills of witch-hunts in the modern age is likely to find an audience amongst the disenfranchised left (people like me), but people who don't care are hardly likely to sit down for a 90 minute lecture about the subject. This is what 'Good Night and Good Luck' boils down to but - despite the excellent performances, wonderful musical interludes and clever use of archive footage - no one will be impressed unless they already sing from Clooney's song book. Personally I agree with almost every political statement the film tries to make; the 'dumbing-down' of television, the news media's obsession with celebrity and the ease with which politicians can use the media shift the public's focus away from their own failings are all subjects that carry immense weight in the post-satellite age. The nostalgia of the film appealed to me too; I was as fascinated by the fact that a news reporter could appear on television smoking a cigarette as I was that a television program could ever exist that consisted of one presenter talking to camera in lengthy multi-claused sentences. But then, as I said, I already agree with Clooney. I suspect that this film will do little to convince anyone of his point of view.
Rating: 6/10.

Grease (1978).
Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John.
Director: Randal Kleiser.
Synopsis: Musical set in 1950's American suburbia.
Dean's comments: This is terrible, I hate American teenagers being fresh and 50's and singing about how life is so terrible when actually they're really privileged. I hate almost all of the song numbers and the clothes they wear. The whole thing is annoying, sickly sweet, trashy and boring.
Rating: 1/10.

The Great Dictator (1940).
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Jack Oakie, Paulette Goddard.
Director: Charles Chaplin.
Synopsis: A barber who awakes 20 years after the great war is mistaken for dictator Adenoid Hynkel.
Dean's comments: This was the first Charlie Chaplain film that I ever saw, and perhaps one which is not typical of the majority of his work. Even though the opening 20 minutes of the film contains a huge amount of fairly unsubtle slapstick humour, the rest of the 2 hours is filled with a vicious comic attack on the absurdities of fascism and stupidity of Hilter and Mussolini. It's an old adage that the best way to deal with evil is to mock it, and in the uncertain work of 1940s this was a remarkably brave way to do it. The film revolves around the events in the nation of Tomania and its cruel anti-semetic dictator Adenoid Hinkel, a deliberately unsubtle take on Hitler's rise to power in Germany. Hinkel is a laughable man, a silly person who is either doing what his propaganda minister tells him to or arguing like a child with the dictator of Bacteria (Italy). In addition to Hinkel, Chaplain plays a Jewish soldier who wakes up 20 years after entering a coma in world war 1 and struggles to understand way the world has changed. After being persecuted and sent to a prison camp, the Jewish barber escapes and is mistaken for Hinkel – given a pulpit from which to speak, Chaplain gives a strangely well-judged monologue about the beauty of humanity and the necessity of democracy and communication in an uncertain world.
Rating: 8/10.

Green Street (2005).
Starring: Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam.
Director: Lexi Alexander.
Synopsis: A Harvard drop-out becomes invloved with football hooligans in London.
Dean's comments: Let’s first of all clear the air here; I am a West Ham fan, but this fact has nothing to do with my opinion that this film is utterly dire. The film has a huge number of problems, firstly Elijah Wood is a very unconvincing ‘hard-case’, secondly the morality of the story is ‘football hooliganism is OK’, and finally – and this is just so unforgivable that is defies belief that it ever got past the production team – Charlie Hunnam’s accent is appalling! Hunnam tries to do a Cockney accent but fails all ends up, this is even worse than Dick van Dyke’s ‘Mary Poppins’ car crash of an accent. How, when casting, this wasn’t picked up on astounds me. The plot is this; a young Harvard drop-out travels to London to visit his sister and learns a lesson in life by making friends amongst London football hooligans. This is hardly the kind of message that anyone needs these days what with football in England being torn between the over-commercialism of Sky Sports coverage and the dark rose-tinted days of 1970s violence. I have no problems with the portrayal of a small number of West Ham fans being violent, indeed such violence does go on, my problem is that the film does nothing to undermine the insane belief that such violence promotes camaraderie and community spirit. Just a bad, bad film.
Rating: 2/10.

The Grudge (2004).
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bill Pullman, Jason Behr, Ryo Ishibashi.
Director: Takashi Shimizu.
Synopsis: A malevolent entitly manifests itself in a house where a terrible murder occured.
Dean's comments: Apparently the forth version of a story that begun as a short Japanese film and evolved into longer efforts before becoming this English language version, 'The Grudge' is horror by-the-numbers. The film is backed by Sam Raimi and so has a lot of credibility in the genre, but it seems to use a lot of standard horror shock tactics without really being too innovative. Examples include quick cuts to hands coming out of doors or people appearing over the shoulder of someone who has just been backing off into a dark room. It's good because it get right into the nitty-gritty of the shock/horror without any pretentious messing about. I was also quite impressed by the way that they managed to set an English languare film in Japan (the only bit that didn't make sense was the way that a whole adult family appeared to have moved to Japan; this seems rather unlikely). Gellar does the glossy-eyed horror victim quite well (she's had enough practice) while the rest of the ensenble cast scream and jump about in all the right places. Some of the main 'shock' sequences (the opening pre-credits scene, the girl coming out of an occupied bed and hand appearing out of Gellar's hair) were diminished by effect by either the fact that they were in the trailors or that they were well signposted. I was annoyed by the way that the Japanese detective is the one who tells the story about the malevolent presense, can you imaging a remake set in America that had an NYPD chief telling an old wives' tale? No I thought not; makes no sense does it. Your average punter will probably be jumping out of their seats for this one, anyone who has seen plenty of horror films will probably sit there and complain that they've seen it all before.
Rating: 6/10.

The Guru (2002).
Starring: Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei.
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer.
Synopsis: A dancer seeks his fortune in America, instead he finds consumerism and a divide between rich and poor.
Dean's comments: This is fair enough as a comedy and a denunciation of the American dream. Beneath the cheap sex jokes and titillation there's quite a lot here about culture being subsumed and bought up by big business and sold out to corporate interests. The film comes out on the side of people being good and the American dream being bad so that's fine in my eyes.
Rating: 5/10.

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