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

L A Confidential (1997).
Starring: Kim Basinger, Russel Crowe, Guy Pierce, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito.
Director: Curtis Hanson.
Synopsis: Three different police officers in Los Angeles have vastly different ways of investigating the same crime.
Dean's comments: This is a great film. Russel Crowe plays his part brilliantly well, in retrospect this is probably more to do with the fact that he is a pretty wooden guy and his character is this is wooden too... The other Hollywood A-list stars in the film all do very good jobs with what are, when you think about it, very clichéd parts. On ths surface L A Confidential is just another 'good-cop bad-cop' tale with a slightly more detailed plot and a good cast, underneath that there are some great performances and a lot of interesting messages about the state of the law in California with respect to rich celebrities and the level of honesty in journalism. This is especially in the modern world where entire magazines exist solely to run stories on 'celebrities' who may have done nothing more than appear on TV for a couple of hours. The 'cult of the celebrity' is very upsetting for me, often I despair at people who are interested in 'celebrity survivor' and other such dross.
Rating: 8/10.

Labyrinth (1986).
Starring: David Bowie.
Director: Jim Henson.
Synopsis: Fantasy tale set in a giant labyrinth.
Dean's comments: I saw this was I was very wee, and I thought it was great. Looking back now and I it's a very standard piece of fantasy with David Bowie in a role that he suits quite well. I think that the kids of today are a little too sophisticated to enjoy this sort of thing, it's strictly for 20-somethings that are trying to re-capture their youth.
Rating: 4/10.

The Ladykillers (1955).
Starring: Alec Guinness, Peter Sellars, Cecil Parker, Katie Johnson, Herbert Lom.
Director: Alexander Mackendrick.
Synopsis: 5 criminals rent a room near a railway line in order to commit a robbery.
Dean's comments: Everyone always talks about Alec Guinness as a great actor, I think that his performance in 'The Ladykillers' is as good a showcase as any as to why this is true. Guinness plays an unscrupulous villain, a thief who is prepared to exploit the vulnerabilities of a kindly old woman to steal money from a train. He finds lodgings at her house but soon discovers she is not quite the hapless sop he first perceived her to be. The rest of Guinness’s gang - quite brilliant cast as they are - pretend to practice for their orchestra while planning their heist. Guinness’s mannerisms are just brilliant, his creepiness and snide baiting within his own gang are Dickensian in nature yet never does he descend into a cardboard cut-out 'arch' villain. Guinness has such control over his own acting and delivery that it makes you wish he was in everything. Peter Sellars is only a couple of steps behind him and Katie Johnson's utter Englishness and matter-of-fact approach to discovering a cadre of train robbers in her house is a staggeringly pointed portrayal of the innocence and righteousness of that nation in an era when their empire was falling apart. A comedy, a comment on Englishness and showcase of great British acting, 'The Ladykillers' is a classic of British cinema.
Rating: 7/10.

The Ladykillers (2004).
Starring: Tom Hanks, Irma P Hall.
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen.
Synopsis: A group of disfunctional criminals plot to rob a casino by tunneling from under the house of an old battleaxe.
Dean's comments: Apart from some very strange character dying in very strange circumstances, there is little else in this film that puts it anywhere near the high standards of the Coen brothers' other movies. Tom Hanks does a pretty good job as the intellectual and well-spoken Southerner who is the brains behind the plot to steal money out of a casino. The best character is Irma P Hall's landlady, she very funny when she talks about her deceased husband and complains to the totally ineffectual police. The references to 'Bob Jones' university went over my head at the time of watching the film, but it turns out that the institution is an uber-christian place that has bible quotes liberally distributed all over its website. More interestingly it has a bizarre policy which bans inter-racial dating amongst its students. I get the impression that the fact that the landlady was giving money to the university was either a statement of her insanity or her puritanical Christian values. Unfortunately my finger isn't exactly on the pulse of political issues in Hicksville USA and so I can't really tell.
Rating: 5/10.

Lake Placid (1999).
Starring: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, .
Director: Steve Miner.
Synopsis: A monster is eating people in lake Placid.
Dean's comments: Hmm. This is a film which is caught between being an entertaining spoof horror romp and a genuine monster flick in the mould of King kong or Godzilla. ‘Lake Placid’ ends up being neither and – despite some laudable comic moments – generally fails to excite or frighten. Not that no-one is trying hard though, Fonda in particular seems to have a lot of energy for her role as the classic career-minded scientist who is so obsessed with not being discriminated against for being a woman that she deliberately isolates herself. ‘Lake placid’ is inoffensive brainless stuff that will go down quite well accompanying an evening in with mates and a crate of beer.
Rating: 3/10.

Land and Freedom (1995).
Starring: Ian Hart.
Director: Ken Loach.
Synopsis: A young scouser goes off the fight in the Spanish civil war. He soon receives a lesson in left wing ideology.
Dean's comments: I want to briefly have a rant against the SWP (for the uninformed: the Socialist Workers Party) before I get on to the film. I saw 'Land and Freedom' at a Marxist conference organised by the SWP; I was rather enjoying the film when it reached a scene where the main character tore up his Communist Party membership card. This action inspired a round of applause from the audience; clearly they empathised with his situation, realising that the 'theory' and 'speech-giving' of his political organisation had little to do with the lives of ordinary working people fighting fascism. The interesting thing was the was very same SWO members failed to see the irony when at the end fo the film they started trying to convince me to join their organisation. I tried to explain that it was the very fact that they were trying to recruit me into their Stalinist-leaning talking-shop (sometimes indistinguishable from the 'People's Judean Front') after seeing Land and Freedom which meant I would never bother joining them. The British left will always be a fringe comedy element if it continues like that.

But on to the film; brilliant! A depiction of how institutionalised political organisations are so out of touch with the things they are often talking about that there's barely any point listening to them. If you want to get something done then you need to leave the speech-giving and back-patting behind. As Tony Benn said, "I'm leaving parliament to go into politics", essentially this is what the Python team were talking about with the 'PFJ', but Ken Loach does it with a greater style and sadness than anyone else would have been able to manage.

Rating: 8/10.

Land of the Dead (2005).
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Simon Baker, John Leguizamo.
Director: George Romero.
Synopsis: Zombies rule the world, and in a human enclave a group of rich isolationists try to continue civilisation.
Dean's comments: The latest and least of George Romero's zombie series sees the allegory move once again into a more modern setting. Romero has even more sympathy than ever for his zombies, the pathos that the audience felt for the zombie lab rat Bob at the end of Day of the Dead is amplified as now we see a community of zombies, united by their fear of humanity, willing to move en masse against a human outpost to secure their freedom from oppression. So if this is an allegory for the modern world, Dennis Hopper's role as the political elite (George W Bush?) is clear enough; he spends the entire film in his palace, totally ignorant of the world and insistent that people should be thankful to him for the fact that the shit they live in isn't as foul-smelling as it could have been. The poor remnants of humanity is treated almost with contempt, they are seen as weak but deserving of an honourable death when attacked by zombies. The human rebels (described as terrorists by Hopper's character) and the zombies receive Romero's sympathy. Is it now the zombies that represent humanity in the modern world? Is their storming of Hopper's palace and subsequent slaughter of its human occupants a metaphor for collective action against society's elites and their apologisers? If so then what are we to make of the rebels? They are part of the elite but set aside from it, i.e. they have power but not vested in any peoples or state. Are these then the terrorists of the real world? If so then Romero affords them more respect than they deserve, but it serves to make a useful point; that being that state oppression and terrorism are two sides of the same coin. On the horror side, there are few frightening moments in 'Land of the Dead', but there is plenty of the gore that has made Romero's films famous.
Rating: 5/10.

Last Days (2005).
Starring: Michael Pitt.
Director: Gus Van Sant.
Synopsis: Documenting the last days of a rock star fallen on tough emotional times.
Dean's comments: Despite the credits insisting otherwise, 'Last Days' is about the final days of Kurt Cobain. These last days of his life were ones in which his mental world began to fall apart has he lost the ability to cope with the media intrusion and circus surrounding his personal life. Cobain was the artistic and creative force behind one of the most influential American bands of the early 1990s, the media hysteria and attention from fans that such an elevated position created was too much for the man to take. 'Last Days' is about the isolation that Cobain immersed himself shortly before his death, we see the main character 'Blaine' wandering in woods and avoiding the attention of friends, we see him playing angst-ridden melodies with surprising verve and passion. Gus Van Sandt paints a drab picture, but one in which there is a lot of insight into the life of a tortured genius and the hectic lifestyle that is thrust upon them by 'friends' and well-wishers. Several scenes involve long and tortured shots of undergrowth, walls and houses; sometimes this descends into tedium, I caught myself looking at my watch one of twice. A film that is all about atmosphere and feeling, 'last Days' is an interesting piece which - even if you don't enjoy it - shouldn't feel too long due to the 80 minute run time. One you should certainly watch.
Rating: 6/10.

The Last King of Scotland (2006).
Starring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy.
Director: Kevin Macdonald.
Synopsis: A Scottish doctor travels to Uganda and meets Idi Amin.
Dean's comments: As a man who is entirely unaware of the recent history of Uganda, I approached this film hoping to be educated in history as well as being given an insight into one of the world's most hated dictators.  The structure of the film helps one such as myself, since - aside from Amin himself - the main character is a green middle class Westerner with no knowledge of who Idi Amin was or what he stood for, the creators of this film are able to tell two sides of his story.  At first McAvoy's character enters Uganda and is taken under Amin's wing, he sees a man of culture who is strong and proud of his nation's history - a man who is eager to share his experiences of the world.  As the plot moves forwards, we are offered glimpses of the horror of the truth behind what happened in Uganda during Amin's reign.  McAvoy sees death at close hand, at first it is almost a rush - but eventually it becomes a terrifying experience.  When Amin finally loses trust in his Scottish friend, he shows his true colours by hunting him down and taking bloody vengeance upon him.  The final few scenes of the movie bear little relation to what came before - they are more like a horror film than a historical political drama.  This by allowing the audience to get aquainted with Amin before revealing his terrifyingly short temper and eagerness to crush all who cannot trust, the true horror of the man is brought home.  It's not just the structure that does this though, Forrest Whittacker's performance as the Ugandan dictator is a genuine triumph of acting, the award he won for the role were all richly deserved.  After seeing the film I read up about Amin, it appears that much of the historical stuff is true, Amin's actions during the events are speculation of course.
Rating: 8/10.

Last Orders (2001).
Starring: Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Helen Mirren, David Hemmings, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone.
Director: Fred Schepisi.
Synopsis: A group of friends undertake a journey to deliver the ashes of a recently-deceased chum to their final resting place at sea.
Dean's comments: This is a surprisingly good film about the journey through life and how things rarely turn out the way one might want. I think the strength of the film is in the strength of its cast. Mirren especially is fantastic as the enduring mother who still attends her mentally challenged daughter on a regular basis, despite the fact that she's never even been able to speak or acknowledge her mother's existence. Even Ray Winstone manages to curb his usual 'Cockney wide-boy' tendencies for the duration of the film in favour of a bit of proper acting. In terms of the plot, the film does a pretty good job of looking at the lives of its characters as a whole and looking at whether they've 'made a difference' or had a good existence. 'Last Orders' is a solid film, but nothing too special or overly imaginative.
Rating: 6/10.

The Last Samurai (2003).
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe.
Director: Edward Zwick.
Synopsis: A washed-up American soldier goes to Japan and re-discovers a lust for life..
Dean's comments: Not another film where Tom Cruise gets to be a hero and tries desperately to win an Oscar! Sorry Tom but I've seen through your little game. 'Last Samurai' was just about passable because of Ken Watanabe's performance as the 'renegade' general and the rather cool ninja fight scenes in the middle of the film. Several very odd people in America seem to think that the film is about the danger of centralised government and somehow pro-American as a result. I find this very strange, the film seemed to be so clearly about the destructive effect of American Imperialism that I wasn't even going to mention it until I discovered someone with a conflicting viewpoint. Anyway, it's hardly giving anything away to say that Tom just about survives to the final scene after leading an all-too metaphorical charge-to-the-death by the simple and honourable people of Japan against the institutionalised and heartless army backed by the U S of A. Unoriginal and dull in places, Cruise is far too smarmy for his own good; the film is about Western imperialism destroying native cultures though, so it gets some bonus points in that sense.
Rating: 4/10.

Layer Cake (2004).
Starring: Daniel Craig, Michael Gambon, Colm Meaney, Dexter Flecher
Director: Matthew Vaughn.
Synopsis: A drug dealer is put in a no-win situation by his over zealous boss.
Dean's comments: 'Layer Cake' is a rather entertaining film with plenty of nice twists and full of totally weird characters in strange situations. The film's main character is rather an enigma though, are the audience really supposed to feel for him and empathise with him? The guy looks like he's been lifted out of a men's fashion magazine and no one can have any sympathy for his "I'm just a business man" line, it's people like him that cause a lot of the misery that the film depicts happening to the junkies. There is also the stereotypical East Europeans (a cold-blooded killer! What a surprise!) and the reduction of the film's only female characters to a sex object and a stupid middle-aged battle axe. Getting these character absurdities out of the way, stylisticly the film is great with lots of good dialogue flying around as the main characters trade insults and derision about their current predicament. I'm a fan of the film's setting too, England looks good in 'Layer Cake'. The ending is a bit of a let down, almost a realisation that the main characters aren't nice guys after all and that something should be done about them.
Rating: 5/10.

The League of extraordinary Gentlemen (2003).
Starring: Sean Connery, Jason Flemyng, Naseeruddin Shah, Stuart Townsend.
Director: Stephen Norrington.
Synopsis: A group of rogues from classic Victorian literature join up to go on a secret mission.
Dean's comments: 'LXG' (as this film was dubbed in the SciFi press) is not very good. In general it relies on a bunch of action film clichés and special effects to tell a story. I suppose even that's too much credit, I don't think they're even trying to tell a story, just show of a new (admittedly impressive special effect) in which they can paint half of the invisible man's face. Basically the plot revolves around some bizarre bastardisation of Victorian literature in which The Invisible Man, Dorien Grey, Captain Nemo and all sorts of other misfits really exist and go around together trying to save the world from 19th centaury Germans with tanks... can I stop now? Trying to rationalise the plot is giving me a headache. You'll probably only be able to stomach this film if you're a fan of sci-fi / action films and in the mood for a bit of brainless violence / running and jumping.
Rating: 3/10.

Licence to Kill (1989).
Starring: Timothy Dalton, .
Director: John Glen.
Synopsis: Bond is stripped of his 'licence to kill'.
Dean's comments: I suppose that this isn't too bad in terms of Bond plots, the problem is that Timothy Dalton is a complete wuss and messes the whole film up. This is a Bond film that even die-hard fans might not insist that you need to see.
Rating: 2/10.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004).
Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston.
Director: Wes Anderson.
Synopsis: Washed-up television producer and adventurer Steve Zissou goes on one last voyage to avenge the death of his partner.
Dean's comments: This is a film which has a very silly premise; the writers and production team know that and use Bill Murray's extraordinary comic skills to play on the silliness to achieve a film which should surprise you and make you laugh. 'Team Zissou' is absurdly lame in the production values of their TV shows and the people that Steve has chosen to be in his gang. Steve Zissou meets the man who may or may not be his son, they get attacked by pirates, raid a lighthouse for its state-of-the-art scientific equipment and assault an island in their spandex wet-suits with a three-legged dog. The film’s cast is great; but Murray stands out above them all, he has an amazing comic range and timing, wringing every last laugh out of each scene. If you are looking for an entertaining and quirky film (including moments like someone joining ‘team Zissou’ and immediately being issued with a red cap and a pair of Speedos or a cut away life size model of the ship being used within the context of the film and then as a set) then look no further than ‘the life aquatic’.
Rating: 6/10.

The Life of Brian (1979).
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin.
Director: Terry Jones.
Synopsis: A young man by the name of Brian is mistaken as the messiah.
Dean's comments: This is a film which challenges for the title of 'best comedy of all time'. Not only for that fact that gag-for-gag it beats all-comers, but because of the constant subtext of political and religious subversion keeping you on your toes. By exposing the inadequacies and contradictions of left-wing politics and organised religion, the python team manage to simultaneously take a swipe at two sides of an intellectual divide without coming out in favour of one or the other. The presentation of the 'People's Judean Front' and their rivals (SPLITTERS!) should have anyone who has ever been involved in left-wing activism cringing in their boots yet also marvelling at the fact that the Python team have it so right. The numerous jibes at the bible and biblical teachings go on for ever, the best being when the people following Brian out into the desert after they totally randomly decide he's the messiah (Cleese: "I say you're the Messiah and I should know I've followed a few."), followed by the made-up miracles. The opening three scenes to the film should be framed as comedy history in my opinion, a clever subversion of the three kings story, then a subversion of the sermon on the mount ('...blessed are the cheese-makers...') and finally the stoning for saying 'Jehovah' (Cleese is on legendary top form here). Any one who hasn't seen this (or perhaps refuses to out of a religious bias!?!?) needs to be forced into a chair in front of a TV to take in this film, the best religious satire ever made.
Rating: 9/10.

Live and Let Die (1973).
Starring: Roger Moore, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Yaphet Kotto, Geoffrey Holder.
Director: Guy Hamilton.
Synopsis: Bond travels to the Americas to stop a crime lord obsessed with the mystical world.
Dean's comments: Roger Moore's first effort as the legendary British spy is easily his best. The combination of bizarre characters with the fact that Moore doesn't look that old makes for a memorable film. One of my favourite characters of all time is in this film, Sheriff W J Pepper, played by Clifton James, completely matches my idea of what Southern white guys are like in the USA and I have subsequently tries to model my 'Hick' accent on the way he speaks and use the phrases that he gets out ("Shum kinda secrit a-jint!" for example). The film delves into the 'silly' aspect of the Bond genre rather than trying to take itself too seriously; Baron Samedi is a good example of a rather odd character who is only there to provide a dangerous, but comic, villain for Bond. Let's not forget the opening scene either, where a funeral parade walks by, kills an agent and puts him in the coffin they were carrying! Dark comedy and silliness work well together to make this the best Bond film that was made without Sean Connery.
Rating: 7/10.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998).
Starring: Jason Flemyng, Jason Statham, Nick Moran, Dexter Fletcher..
Director: Guy Richie.
Synopsis: A group of young London 'wide-boys' get themselves embroiled in a web of drug dealing and theft after a card game goes wrong.
Dean's comments: 'Lock Stock...' is a film that feels rather like a Coen brothers' movie with an English setting and a director that loves speeded-up footage. It has all the classic elements that make for a great crime caper, a big bad boss, his lackeys, the bumbling small-time criminals and the cheeky 'good guys' that we can follow around. I think I have an affinity with this film because it is set in London, but it isn't just that, there are several moments of brilliant humour and quite a number of darkly comic deaths. The plot too is a twisting weaving tale in which everyone comes out badly and no one wins, the whole thing builds up to a crescendo in the last 20 minutes as every criminal in London seems to be after the same thing. The soundtrack to the film is great, with lots of modern 'funky beats'; let's not forget about the cliff-hanger ending either. I suppose this is a film that might not appeal to all, but fans of crime should enjoy it.
Rating: 8/10.

The Long Good Friday (1980).
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren.
Director: John Mackenzie.
Synopsis: On Good Friday in London, a gangland criminal is trying to do business with his American partners; but Irish terrorist are out for revenge against him.
Dean's comments: Bob Hoskins is almost the perfect actor for the role of Cockney gangster Harold Shand in this film about the trappings of Thatcher's Britain. In my opinion he is the original Chav; forget bling-wearing Burberry-topped wife-beaters, the Chav is simply the antithesis of the salt-of-the-earth working class hero, someone who is so determined to disavow their roots that they will cover them up by pretending to be wealthier than they really are. Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren play such a couple who have fallen into the great myth of Thatcher's Britain - that wealth brings happiness. Harold embarks upon the mistake of only seeing money, be it his own or its use to placate his enemies, he is unable to see that some people might fight for an ideology rather than the promise of a bigger boat. The working class roots of this character are exposed by the language he uses and his connection to the street; the moral of the story seems to be that if one throws aside one's roots then one is left open to attack by the class zealots who would send you back there. The film was made in the 1980s, but thankfully there are very few of the irritating musical numbers typical of that era. Instead of this, 'The Long Good Friday' is a stylish and occasionally funny film with a spectacular twist and a fantastic eye for detail; it’s a classic British film.
Rating: 7/10.

Loose Change (2001).
Starring: Vaious.
Director: Dylan Avery.
Synopsis: An overview of the conspiracy theories surrounding the 9-11 attacks.
Dean's comments: Stylishly put-together with lots of interesting facts, which when taken in isolation mean very little of course, ‘Loose Change’ pores over the events of 9-11 with an apparent fine tooth comb. The film’s basic raison d’etre is to prove that the US government was complicit in the 9-11 attacks, in doing this it asks a lot of questions while glossing over the holes in its own case. While quite rightly asking why the FBI has impounded footage from the pentagon plane crash, the film alleges that flight 93 never crashed in the ground and that in fact an elaborate ploy was enacted to land the flight and evacuate the passengers – an event which makes no sense and has no evidence in support of. The film’s most outrageous allegation is that 11 of the 19 9-11 hijackers are not even dead, but living out their lives in the Middle East. Why do these people not make themselves known and put the official explanation to bed for all? Perhaps – I suspect – because they are actually dead. The film does serve an important purpose though, which is to highlight the deficiencies of the official explanation. It is not implausible to believe that some elements of the US government may have had an inkling of what was about to happen but done nothing because they thought it served their purpose. It is implausible to believe that the US government deliberately murdered 3000 of its own citizens for political gain.
Rating: 5/10.

The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Christopher Lee, Sean Astin, Kate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm.
Director: Peter Jackson.
Synopsis: A group of adventurers embark on a quest to destroy a powerful and demonic ring.
Dean's comments: This is cinematic history. Never before had anyone attempted to embark upon a film-making endeavour so difficult in terms of satisfying fans and production. I don't know anyone who is a fan of the LOTR books who didn't think this was brilliant, I don't know anyone who saw this film and wasn't at least impressed by the production values and seamless integration of real actors with CGI technology. The right balance between near-tacky dialogue and medieval-styled adventuring is a difficult one to find, especially when one is sprinkling in a pile of fantasy clichés and magical creatures. The choice of actors here is the main reason why it all works, Ian McKellen has no difficulty in delivering lines with a gravitas that lesser actors would have hammed up. The balance is achieved so easily that one begins to forget that one is watching a fantasy film, you get dragged into the adventure and taken along on the journey. Combine this with the amazing scenery and untouched wilderness of the New Zealand mountains and you have an epic film that challenges anyone to find a fault. Everyone will love this, even my Nan thought it was great (admittedly she didn't understand what was going on most of the time, she was still impressed by the action).
Rating: 10/10.

The Lord of the Rings, Two Towers (2002).
Starring: All of the above except Sean Bean and Ian Holm; plus Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto and Andy Serkis.
Director: Peter Jackson.
Synopsis: With the Fellowship in tatters, the disparate groups battle against Saruman's forces to buy Frodo time to complete his quest.
Dean's comments: With the wonder of the first film worn off, the second film loses out in that it has to follow up on what was a moment in cinematic history. Oddly, the second part of the trilogy was my favourite of the books and my least favourite of the film. This is despite the fact that the film contains one of the most awe-inspiring shots ever, the view out from the battlements of Helm's Deep of the Isengard army. The problem is that the story of the journey that Frodo and Sam are making seems to stall during the film, with the introduction of Gollum as a proper character being the only development. This is in contrast to the book where their journey goes all the way up to the moment when Sam believes Frodo to be dead (this is in the next film), thus 'The Two Towers' loses its cliff-hanger ending and suffers as a result. That's enough of the bad though, the film equals the first in its spectacular scenery, wondrous sets and characterisation of the remaining members of the 'fellowship'. Ian McKellen is the star of the show once more, bringing his considerable presence to a role that deserves it.
Rating: 9/10.

The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2003).
Starring: Most of those noted above.
Director: Peter Jackson.
Synopsis: The final battle between the forces of good and evil looms, Frodo and Sam near the end of their quest to destroy the ring.
Dean's comments: Oh how this film deserved 10 out of 10, but the final 20 minutes are totally unforgivable. Those of us who really need that amount of closure about the character's lives are happy to buy the DVD and watch the 5 hour long version. This final part of the trilogy introduced the world to a new level of film-making in terms of the use of special effects and computer generated images. The main set-piece battle, the siege of the white city, is visually spectacular and encompasses several different levels of action; first the siege, then the invasion of the city, then relief by the horsemen. Something that goes on for as long as this siege does might, in other hands, have become tiresome; Jackson does an amazing job of retaining the interest of the viewer for every minute of that battle (getting Legolas to do cooler and cooler stuff helps too). The finale to Frodo's quest to destroy the ring is tinged with despair and the almost inevitability of failure, yet they continue to their doom because they know that's what's required of them. I suppose that there is a certain nobility in what Frodo and Sam are doing that keeps us all willing them on to succeed even after over 8 hours of film; in another film we might be tired of them by now. These three films constitute one of the greatest epics of all time, fully deserving of the Academy awards it recieved.
Rating: 9/10.

Lost in Translation (2003).
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlet Johanssen.
Director: Sofia Coppola.
Synopsis: A 'B' list celebrity and the wife of a man on business meet in Toyko and try to fit in as foreigners in this mysterious city.
Dean's comments: The brilliance of 'Lost in Translation' lies in its simplicity and the fact that Bill Murray is one of the funniest men ever. Accusations of racism are cringingly over-PC, people who make these accusations either haven't seen the film or are too stupid to understand that it is the Americans who are being mocked for their inability to understand Japanese. No one is laughing at the Japanese people trying to speak English, rather at the fact that these Americans go to a foreign country and expect to be able to behave as if they were in New York (or some such English-speaking location). At it's heart, this film is about loneliness and finding companionship to struggle through that feeling of isolation. It's a love story then, but between two people who know that they can never consummate or act upon their feelings. The producers are mature and sensible enough with their own premise that the film effortlessly avoids romantic clichés and the saccharine sweetness that so often ruin romantic comedies. 'Lost in Translation' is a gem of a film then, I recommend it to one and all; although you might get the urge to go to Tokyo just so you can stay in a hotel that has a view of a mount Fuji as a result of it.
Rating: 8/10.

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