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

Jackass the movie (2002).
Starring: Juhnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O.
Director: Jeff Tremaine.
Synopsis: American 20-somethings have nothing better to do than try to kill themselves (sort of).
Dean's comments: This is a crude and really nasty film, but anyone who claims they didn't laugh at some point is lying. Some scenes are simply too crude to be funny (such as a guy having a dump in a bathroom showroom) while other stunts are so dangerous that you're glued to your seat wondering if the guys are OK (I'm thinking of when a golf buggy lands on Johnny Knoxville's head). At other times it's really funny, especially when they're doing stupid thing to their own bodies and not annoying unsuspecting members of the public. The film is only 80 minutes long and so you're not going to waste your life if you watch this; give it a go, but don't recommend it to anyone you think gets offended easily.
Rating: 5/10.

The Jacket (2005).
Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kris Kristofferson.
Director: John Maybury.
Synopsis: A war veteran, wrongly placed in a mental asylum, experiences time travel into his own near future.
Dean's comments: A film that has shades of ‘Twelve Monkeys’ and ‘Eternal Sunshine…’, ‘The Jacket’ is a fine love story which treats the difficulties of mental illness and society’s view toward war veterans with accomplishment. Brody’s character (Jack Sparks) is implicated in a murder after arriving back from the gulf war where he received a terrible injury. What follows, in the mental hospital, may or may not be a science fiction story or a journey through Spark’s destabilised brain. Upon being forced into a straight jacket and locked in a morgue overnight, Sparks is able to travel to the future and meet the grown-up version of a little girl he was kind to when he returned from the war. The girl (Knightley) is now a directionless woman who chain smokes and only seems interested in earning enough money to but enough drugs to get through the next day. These two characters have a profound effect on each other, they travel to the asylum where Sparks was held and talk to the workers there who remember him. It is here that the distinction between the psychology and the science fiction is made, with neither forming a completely coherent explanation for what is going on. The best bit about the film is the obvious chemistry between Knightley and Brody, and the love story that develops between the characters. Nice to see Keira Knightley in a ‘proper’ film role after all this Hollywood pap she’s been tempted in by of late.
Rating: 6/10.

Jackie Brown (1997).
Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert Forster, Robert DeNiro, Bridget Fonda.
Director: Quentin Tarantino.
Synopsis: A woman tries to con a bunch of criminals and the police.
Dean's comments: Just one look at the ensemble cast listed above and you'll probably want to check 'Jackie Brown' out. In my mind this is the weakest of Tarantino's films (except 'From Dusk till Dawn' perhaps) because it relies on one character being the hero without any of the slick and artistic set-pieces or splendid dialogue of his other films. Although that doesn't mean that it is a bad film by any sense, all the 70s nostalgia, cross-purposed intentions and devious plans that Jackie Brown sets in motion gives the film an entertaining and engaging sheen. There is an argument that the character of Jackie Brown is probably the most well-rounded and developed in any of Tarantino's films, she's probably the only character he's ever created who he wanted to 'win' at the end. The film actually has a moral message burried in there too, the idea that a leopard can change its spots. 'Jackie Brown' is a good film, but it doesn't have the same post-modern glint as 'Pulp Fiction' or the dirty criminal underbelly of 'Reservoir Dogs'; although Samuel L Jackson does get some wonderful dialogue to work with in the first 30 minutes and Robert DeNiro gives one of his best and most understated performances in years.
Rating: 6/10.

Jacob's Ladder (1990).
Starring: Tim Robbins.
Director: Adrian Lyne.
Synopsis: A man questions his sanity after experiencing flashbacks from the Vietnam war.
Dean's comments: If you thought that 'Apocalypse Now' was the epitome of existential Vietnam films, then welcome to the bizarre world of Jacob's Ladder. From the opening two scenes, in which the main character experiences a flashback of his wounding in Vietnam before experiencing an arguably more hellish vision of the 1970s New York subway, you are always aware of the fact that nothing here is quite what it seems. For a start you are never quite sure 'when' it is set, are the scenes of Vietnam nightmares or are they flashbacks? Are Jacob's visions of demons and flashbacks to his past mere dellusions, dreams, psycological traumas or perhaps something else entirely? I had some prior knowledge of the film, so its ending wasn't totally a surprise to me - and the clues that lead up to it are fairly visible once you have an idea where the story is heading. Whether the film is actually anti war or not is a point to debate, although the horrors of what happened in Vietnam are clearly on display - once the twist has played out - make Jacob's post-Vietnam hell a cathatic experience which ends on a high. So perhaps all the carnage in Vietnam was worthwhile? There's nothing wrong with a little moral ambiguity though, thankfully it is left up to the viewer to decide the answers.
Rating: 7/10.

Jarhead (2005).
Starring: Jake Gyllenhall, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx.
Director: Sam Mendes.
Synopsis: The experiences of a two-man sniper team in the Gulf war in 1990.
Dean's comments: A film which follows squarely in the footsteps of Stanley Kubrik’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘Jarhead’ screams out against the military’s heartless use of a nation’s youth in pursuit of unspeakable goals. But more than this, ‘Jarhead’ seems interested in the ordinary soldier’s experience of the periphery of war; of what goes on when someone who is highly trained to kill is prevented from doing so, of when the technology of war takes over from its human side. This is what happens to a team of snipers (Gyllenhall and Saarsgard) who are sent out to take part in the Gulf War of 1990, despite being trained to kill their experiences of the conflict amount to nothing more than picking apart the remains of those slaughtered by US warplanes. The film recreates the horrific images of slaughter that went unseen in the western media after Western attacks against retreating Iraqi forces on the Basra road. Despite the US military’s presentation of this as some kind of computer game, the reality of the stench, dust and terror of the aftermath of the war is brought home to the soldiers in the film and the audience. The title of the film refers to the way in which the US military treats its marines, they are known as ‘Jarheads’ i.e. empty vessels ready to be filled with anything their generals are prepared to tell them. As well as these references to the real army, there are references to the history of war films; most notably ‘Full Metal Jacket’ – the boot camp scenes are reprised – and ‘Apocalypse Now’ – the soldiers watch the film before going to war, singing and cheering along to ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ as the US helicopters ferry Robert Duvall et al into battle. An excellent anti-war film that is so much more than the usual rage against the military machine, ‘Jarhead’ gets inside the ennui of the human element of warfare and exposes the emotions that inevitably reveal themselves.
Rating: 8/10.

Jaws (1975).
Starring: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Synopsis: A massive shark is killing swimmers off the coast of America.
Dean's comments: This is not a scary film! How can you have a horror film when all you have to do to not get killed is not go swimming?! The shark monster is one of the worst props in movie history too. Can people please stop voting this to the top of 'best films' lists?
Rating: 2/10.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001).
Starring: Jason Mewes, Kevin SMith, Ben Affleck, Shannon Elizabeth.
Director: Kevin Smith.
Synopsis: The archetypical American slackers go in search of royalties after someone uses their ideas.
Dean's comments: Funny in places, too crude in others, this film lives up to it's billing in that it really does look like it was produced by a pair of doped up slackers. The best bits in the film are the strangely post modern asides to the camera and knowing digs at the Hollywood film making industry. Who else thinks that Ben Affleck didn't get the joke and just laughed along because everyone else was? All the Star Wars references look a little dated now, but the song at the start where they just swear as much as possible just creased my sides up when i heard it. A little toilet humour now and then can be a good thing.
Rating: 5/10.

Jeepers Creepers (2001).
Starring: Gina Philips, Juston Long.
Director: Vicotr Salva.
Synopsis: 2 teenagers uncover sinister going-ons in rural USA.
Dean's comments: The first 30 minutes of 'Jeepers Creepers' is wonderful, it has lots of classic scare tactics and lots of 'don't go in there!' moments. I was hoping that it was going to turn into a rather modern version of a classic formula, unfortunately not. The whole film is ruined when the great big winged monster-type-thing is revealed to be a big pile of latex rubber. As soon as we've seen the monster the film is suddenly not scary any more. Even the really nasty ending (think holes instead of eyes) isn't enough to redeem the fact that the producers have thrown away what should have been a horror classic. It's worth watching the opening 30 to 45 minutes, but you might as well skip to the end after that.
Rating: 5/10.

Jurassic Park (1993).
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Synopsis: A rich benefactor funds the development of an amusement park filled with dinosaurs.
Dean's comments: This is a great action film with a splattering of maths, SFX and of course, dinosaurs. The special effects that brought the dinosaurs to the screen signalled a new development in technology hitherto unseen in film. The book upon which the film is based is perhaps slightly better than the film, but the film has subtly different qualities and takes the viewer on a different story. I'm surprised that more people don't class 'Jurassic Park' as a horror film, indeed there was a lot of controversy when the film was given a low rating back in 1993, some say to allow children to get in to see it. 'Jurassic Park' is a film that everyone should see, the dinosaurs are a wonder of specials effects which Steven Spielberg knows just how to handle in his wide, sweeping shots of the vistas of the island. The plot goes to a suitable dramatic place before the end of the film, with plenty of the characters being killed in very nasty ways (although not as nasty as in the book). I like the way that 'our heroes' don't 'win' at the end of the film, the dinosaurs get to 'win' and force the Humans off the island. Says something about the power of nature and the dangers of dabbling in science that we don't fully understand.
Rating: 6/10.

Reviews Home, Home.