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

Kagemusha (1980).
Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai.
Director: Akira Kurosawa.
Synopsis: A thief is given the job of impersonating a medieval warlord in order to cover up his recent death.
Dean's comments: The most striking thing about Kagemusha is probably the opening shot. Kurosawa always seemed to know exactly how and where to put his cameras, and for 5 minutes the camera remains in one location as a general, his advisor and a convicted thief give a surprisingly interesting opening exposition. After it is established that the criminal is to be the recently-dead general’s look-alike, Kurosawa proceeds to play with this concept using a mixture of high drama and farce. Most notable is the telling of much of the tale from the point of view of spies sent to keep an eye on the clan, the use of semi-comedy characters of low social standing to tell the story is a theme common in many of Kurosawa’s earlier films. It’s a tale of loyalties and asks if blood really is thicker than water. It could easily be a little shorter, but then the expansive shots of thousands of extras in samurai gear sauntering around a battlefield are probably worth the extra 20 minutes of your life.
Rating: 6/10.

Kes (1969).
Starring: David Bradley, Colin Welland, Brian Glover.
Director: Ken Loach.
Synopsis: A boy in depression-wrecked Barnsley trains a Kestrel.
Dean's comments: An undeniably beautiful film, 'Kes' is - on reading a synopsis - not a film that most people would consider watching. A poor boy, growing up in 1960s Barnsley and with no real friends to speak of, decides to learn the art of falconry and train a kestrel. The film's beauty lies in Ken Loach's ability to paint the strength Britain's working classes in its simplicity and 'ordinariness'. Billy is exactly that, a normal ordinary boy who most of his teachers don't even give a second glance. But Loach develops his character as essentially a good person, one who is devoted to his family despite their failings, one who appears lazy to others but in fact dedicates himself wholly to the task of training his Kestrel. When the careers officer asks Billy if he has considered going into the pits to work, he scoffs at the idea that Billy might work outside of the manual trade - the class bias of the English schooling system on display for all to see. 'Kes' has a lot in common with a film like 'Napoleon Dynamite' while being the thematic opposite to 'The Incredibles'; the theme is that you are what you are, no one can take away your individuality and that everyone is great in their own way and good at something even if it is outside the mainstream (Billy can't play football but can train a wild bird of prey). Everything in the film is structured around Billy and his interaction with the people in his life. Even his first successful outdoor flight with Kes - an event which should be the central moment of the film - is told in his own words in front of his class in school, thus highlighting the importance of and acceptance within school at such a young age. The school children, who had a moment before been ridiculing him for 'playing with birds', are captivated by his story; an indication that children don't have to be tear-aways, and that when treated fairly and with respect are often capable of responding in like. The film ends with the ultimate act of of desecration, the drunken lay-about who is Billy's brother kills Kes in an act of petty vengeance against what he perceives as his younger brother's refusal to conform to the norm. A film that is about youth and the history of the working class in post second world war Britain just as much as it is a celebration of humanity and denouncement of conformity, 'Kes' is a wonderful film that everyone of all ages will love and cry over. A work of genius.
Rating: 10/10.

Kidulthood (2006).
Starring: Noel Clarke.
Director: Menhaj Huda.
Synopsis: A group of teenagers - who act older than their years - have a day weekend that changes their lives.
Dean's comments: Actor and writer Noel Clarke – 31 when he penned and appeared in ‘Kidulthood’ – seems like a rather unlikely man to be describing the turmoil of disaffected youth in inner London at the turn of the 21st century. Reading interviews with the man reveals that his experiences in growing up make him more than qualified for the task. That - alongside his attention to detail in showing the film to teenagers in London before its release – ensures that this portrayal is fairly realistic. Now my youth was no where near as drug and sex-ridden as is the youth of the characters in this film, but the lives of some of those who I grew up with were much closer. The most striking element of the portrayal of west London youth culture is the use of language in the film; each of the characters uses an eclectic mix of east coast US gang speak and estuary English with a liberal sprinkling of ‘init’s. Many in the Mary Whitehouse camp may complain that this cinematic use of language and ‘immoral’ behaviour is fermenting the same in real life, these people must live in an upper class mansion in some halcyon Edwardian era in which social problems are something not to be mentioned. ‘Kidulthood’ makes an effort to address the lives, problems, contradictions and strengths of the people who live in Britain’s more deprived regions; naturally a study of this nature will end up including images and events which many may find disturbing. Although Clarke’s bravery in putting this film together is to be applauded, I am not sure that he entirely succeeds. The characters are all so unlikeable that I found it difficult to accept the few epiphany moments that occur at the film’s conclusion. Clarke needs to learn that if he creates characters that are so easy to despise, the audience is unlikely to find much empathy for them when they die or have their lives ruinned.
Rating: 6/10.

Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003).
Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah.
Director: Quentin Tarantino.
Synopsis: An assassin, betrayed by her collegues on her wedding day, awakes from a coma and swears bloody revenge.
Dean's comments: Slick and stylish; this post-modern martial arts flick is fast-paced in its combat sequences and full of knowing nods to the audience in its manga style animations and seemingly indestructible anti-hero lead. Fallible only in its lack of characterisation, this stands second to none in its post-modern credibility. There are several sequences that are sure to become legendary, the emourmous final battle between the Bride and the Goons of Liu's crime lord that has a plethora of fantastic swordplay, visually stunning camera angles and backdrops is one. Other brilliant sequences are the opening fight in a suburban kitchen which sets the standard of everything that is to come and the cartoon that fills us in on the background of O-Ren Ishii. There is plenty of nastiness that always accompanies this sort of film, the nastiest bit perhaps being when The Bride awakens to discover that she is being raped while in her comatose state. I think that fans of classic martial arts films will love 'Kill Bill', fans of Taratino's stylings will enjoy it too.
Rating: 8/10.

Kill Bill vol. 2 (2004).
Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madson.
Director: Quentin Tarantino.
Synopsis: The Bride continues to pursue her nemeses in search of revenge, finally meeting with the eponymous Bill.
Dean's comments: The second volume contains the back-story that the first volume missed, telling us about the history between The Bride and Bill, also showing us the training that The Bride recieved at the hands of a kung fu master. This second volume lacks the set-pieces and style of the first, although everything that Chai Hui Liu does in his role as the master and trainer is brilliant, expecially the allusions to classic kung fu movies and his over-the-top methods. Many of the scenes are more terrifying in this installment, The Bride's escape from her early grave is certainly one that has a lot more terror than anything in the first part. The final confrontation between 'The Bride' and Bill seems over-worked and is far too 'wordy' for my liking with lots of dialogue that seems horribly out of place and almost irrelavent. Still a damn good movie though with plenty of post modernism and bizarre fight sequences.
Rating: 7/10.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949).
Starring: Alec Guiness, Dennis Price.
Director: Robert Hamer.
Synopsis: An unscrupulous minor aristocrat desides to murder his entire extended family in order to inherit a fortune.
Dean's comments: ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ is an outstanding comic tour de force in which Alec Guinness excels by playing all 8 members of the same family. The D’Ascoyne family are a motley crew of English aristocrats who are murdered one by one at the hand of the unscrupulous Louis Mazzini, a man who realises that his only chance in life for success in life is to get at the family fortune as quickly as possible. The comedy is black and the performances are excellent, best of all though is Alec Guinness. Guinness plays each member of the D’Ascoyne family with a distinctive difference; from the Admiral – who has only one scene – to the family’s only female member, one can scarcely believe that the same actor is playing all the parts. A superb classic of British comedy, this is a part of cinematic history which everyone should watch.
Rating: 7/10.

King Arthur (2004).
Starring: Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugh Dancy, Stellan Skarsgard, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone.
Director: Antoine Fuqua.
Synopsis: The story of King Arthur, loosely based around the 15th centuary legend.
Dean's comments: This is a film that opens in a quite awful way, the first 15 minutes are cringeworth as Lancelot is taken away from his village and Ray Winstone gets into his 'loud Cockney' mode again. Thankfully the film recovers itself by relying on some awesome battle sequences to bring the audience into the drama of the plot. I think that the casting team for the film need to be given a slap; Clive Owen is terribly wooden while Ray Winstone is the same embarresingly over-the-top Londoner that he always plays. Skarsgard (as the Saxon King) is great and Knightley is able to seemlessly shift her charater from a maiden-in-distress to a rabid warrior woman. It's almost as if the producers were trying to make 'Braveheart' for Britain as a whole. The problem is that Britain as a nation wasn't formed like that, and people living north of Hadrian's wall don't speak with West Country accents either, they would be Scottish.
Rating: 5/10.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005).
Starring: Olando Bloom, Liam Neeson.
Director: Ridley Scott.
Synopsis: A young Frenchman searches for redemption for his wife on the battlefields of the Crusades.
Dean's comments: Spectacular battle scenes aside – although to do such a thing is hard given that one is an extended siege of Jerusalem – Kingdom of Heaven is a film which suffers from the fact that Orlando Bloom looks incredibly uncomfortable in the role of a tortured medieval blacksmith who travels to the Middle East to find redemption for his wife’s suicide. I’m not sure if anyone in the casting team thought that Bloom brought any gravitas to the role or that they needed him for the ratings; I thought that the film – which is a rather insightful discussion of the history of political and violent upheavals in the Middle East – was let down by Bloom.
Rating: 5/10.

King Kong (2005).
Starring: Andy Serkis, Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody.
Director: Peter Jackson.
Synopsis: A dodgy film maker goes in search of the ledengary monster, King Kong.
Dean's comments: A visual feast of stunning graphics, set pieces and special effects, 'King Kong' looks amazing on the big screen. I doubt that this will carry across to small the screen format though. 'King Kong' - as the very name suggests - was made to be shown on the silver screen, this is something Peter Jackson seems to understand instinctively. He makes use of every inch of the wide screen format and fills every available minute with fiendishly stunning visuals designed to woo even the most hard-nosed critic. And boy does he succeed. Films from Hollywood are all too often dominated by blockbusters and action trash, but there is a time and a place even for a monster movie. This remake of the cult classic not only ticks all the required monster movie boxes, but is also a study of the social stigma of being different as well as a tale of doomed love. Although the love found between the eponymous anti hero and the film's heroine is ludicrously beyond the realms of fantasy, it tells of an understanding resulting from a shared hardship rather than a love for any physical reason. Both Kong and the woman are fish out of water in their own worlds, they are outcasts who people (Jack Black's character) only want to exploit for their physical characteristics. In this they find a mutual understanding. OK it is silly to think that a giant ape would have this kind of empathy with a pretty young woman, but let's suspend disbelief for a bit shall we? 'King Kong' is certainly too long, the film is split into 3 distinct parts over its three hour running time. There's the pre-Kong segment which contains a lot of unnecessary and cumbersome 'comedy' and slapstick moments before we get to see Kong in his native jungle and towering defiantly over the skyline of 1930's New York. The storyline quite cleverly looks at rampant consumerism and the fickle nature of stardom in the modern age. One minute Kong is an object of fascination, the next minute airplanes are trying to gun him down. A metaphor perhaps for the way that celebrity magazines love to build up a new star only so that their fall will be all the more dramatic and painful. I would be lying if I said that the film's ending isn't emotional, Kong is depicted not as the rampaging monster of legend, but instead as a sympathetic creature representing the force of nature that Mankind often has seemed so intent on destroying for his own benefit. How is it that Jackson has been able to engage the audience emotionally with a huge CGI ape? Stand up Mr Andy Serkis - the real star of the movie - whose performance was used as a kind of electronic template over which the image of Kong was laid. Staggering in its CGI revolution, 'King Kong' is a great film for many more reasons than simply that fact. Peter Jackson has come a long way since 'Meet the Feebles'.
Rating: 8/10.

Kinsey (2004).
Starring: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Peter Sarsgaard.
Director: Billy Condon.
Synopsis: A biography of the sex sociologist Alfred Kinsey.
Dean's comments: Beyond being a dramatisation of the life of a man who studied the science of Human sexuality, I can’t see the point of this film. Neeson and Linney give indifferent performances – they look like they’re acting-by-numbers – while the film doesn’t really have a plot apart from the slowly-burning arc of Dr Kinsey’s life. Peter Sarsgaard entirely steals the film; his performance as a curious bisexual student of Kinsey hints at future greatness as an actor.
Rating: 4/10.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan.
Director: Shane Black.
Synopsis: A small-time criminal stumbles into an audition and is swept into a surreal world in which the sister of his high-school friend has been murdered at the behest of a rich businessman.
Dean's comments: If Quentin Tarantino thought he was going to have the definitive say on the post modern crime genre then he is going to have to up his game somewhat. 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' follows a small time thief who is thrown in at the deep end of a large conspiracy of rich playboys, playgirls and their gay private investigators. The film is very reminiscent of the more screwball Coen Brothers small time crime capers (think 'Raising Arizona' or 'The Big Lebowski') in the way it finds the funny side of the deaths of its characters and treats the murder, torture and extortion of people with a certain black humour. There are several elements from traditional detective tales, there is a mysteriously wise detective, there is a super rich villain, there is a secretive and beautiful damsel in distress; the twist is that all these elements are - for want of a better phrasing - unsubtly weird so that when they are combined they become almost uncontrollable and deviate spectacularly from convention. This would probably descend into anarchy were it not for *'s wonderful voiceover. The main character guides us through the film introducing us to characters and their histories as well as hinting at the future development of the plot. There are a number of moments where this turns into pure postmodernism as the voiceover directs the camera or calls for freeze-frame moments while he goes into greater detail. None of this is particularly revolutionary, but the film has been produced with enough of a flair to make it seem fresh and untried. An exciting film which proves that independent American cinema is still a live and kicking force, fans of all genres should find something to love about 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'.
Rating: 8/10.

Kung Fu Hustle (2004).
Starring: Stephen Chow, Qiu Yuen, Wah Yuen, Siu Lung Leung.
Director: Stephen Chow.
Synopsis: A motely crew of kung fu masters defend their simple village from attack.
Dean's comments: This is a film that is almost indescribably ludicrous, a film with such a silly premise that it deserves to be rubbish. In fact the film is a hilarious throw back to the comedic excesses of eastern Kung Fu movies before ‘Crouching Tiger’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’ made them sophisticated and artistic. The plot revolves around an evil gang (called the axe gang) trying, for some reason, to muscle in on a poor and run-down area of a Chinese city. The inhabitants of the area find that they have amongst them several ‘Kung Fu masters’ who battle the axe gang and all the evil kung fu masters they can rustle up to fight against. The story then consists of a series of set pieces between ever-stronger Shaolin-types who can perform a series of ever more absurd moves. Now this may sound really silly, but the almost naïve comedy of it has an immense charm that I would like to think most people will warm to. Just like Chow’s previous film, ‘Shaolin Soccer’, this film is one that fans of ‘old school’ martial arts films will most likely lap up. Some humourless folk might turn their noses up; I say just sit back and laugh.
Rating: 6/10.

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