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

Octopussy (1983).
Starring: Roger Moore, Maud Adams.
Director: John Glenn.
Synopsis: Bond discovers a rouge Russian plot to carry out a pre-emptive invasion of western Europe.
Dean's comments: This is a classic example of Bond-dregs from the mid 80s. Roger Moore's entire acting range appears to be the raising of one eyebrow, how can a man age so much in only 10 years since he first played Bond anyway? I'm prepared to give the film credit for having a suitable and dramatic ending, the 'clock running down' is a classic for a reason. In fact, the final sequence is pretty good in terms of the action and drama, a runaway train and nuclear device is a stalwart of Bondisms. This isn't enough to redeem the whole film though, the first 70 or 80 minutes are awful.
Rating: 2/10.

The Odd Couple (1968).
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau.
Director: Gene Saks.
Synopsis: Two recently divorced men share a flot in New York City.
Dean's comments: This excellent comedy from the 1960s is based on the simple premise of a clash of opposites. Jack Lemmon is the sparkling clean housewife of a man who cannot help but wash clean and cook wherever he goes; Walter Matthau is his best friend, but also a man who is exceedingly slovenly and interested only in his weekly games of poker. Although one can imagine the kind of gags this set up leads to, there is very little predictable about the film and even the predictable moments are still laugh-out-loud. Something that struck me about the film was how long it takes the two main characters to be stuck in a flat together, it is fully 30 minutes before they are finally left by themselves and begin to realise the contempt they have for each other’s life styles. It is this restraint by the writers that ensures the success of the film; by allowing the characters to develop before engaging the full comedy mode, they gave ‘The Odd Couple’ a human heart to back up the raucous comedy.
Rating: 7/10.

Oldboy (2003).
Starring: Min-Sik Choi, Hye-jeong Kang, Ji-tae Yu.
Director: Chan-Wook Park.
Synopsis: A man is held prisoner by mysterious strangers for 15 years before being released and told to find out who encarcerated him.
Dean's comments: If you want a horror / action / mystery / thriller with a credible twist and some really nasty scenes then you can't get much better than 'Oldboy'. The opening 25 minutes to the film, in which Min-Sik Choi's character (Dae-su) is held captive in a makeshift prison and kept alive while being fed the same fried dumplings every day, is dark and gritty; the second act the film contains one of the best directed martial arts sequences I have ever seen as Dae-su fights a sequence of bat-wielding goons. The scene is one long take and looks like something out of a 2D beat-em-up as the camera pans left and right along a corridor while Dae-su fights with a hammer and a bunch of different sticks against a literal squadren of kung-fu goons. We also have two of the nastiest scenes of all time as Dae-su forcibly removes 15 teeth from his former captor with a wrench as well as eating a live octopus in a sushi bar. Of all these scenes it was the consumption of the octopus that gave the British censors the biggest problems; one isn't allowed (rightly) to harm animals in films, but the scene was allowed to pass on the basis that the octopus didn't appear to be in pain (?) and that the consumption was integral to the plot. Believe it or not it actually gets worse from this point on as more teeth are removed and someone has their tongue cut off with a pair of scissors. Once you've got through all that the sexual perversions and murders that permeate the rest of the film seem rather trite. 'Oldboy' could be a cult classic in years to come, one of the very best 'Asia Extreme' films.
Rating: 9/10.

Oh Brother, where art thou? (2000).
Starring: George Clooney, John Tuturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman.
Director: Joel Coen.
Synopsis: Three unconvincing 'criminals' break free and travel across dustbowl USA in search of treasure.
Dean's comments: 'Oh brother...' is a hugely entertaining comedy, mostly due to the Coen brothers' typically eccentric script but also as a result of the hitherto hidden comic talents of George Clooney. Clooney does his best to imitate the facial extremes of Jim Carey without descending into farce. The film is - apparently - a re-working of the classic Greek epic 'Odessey' set in - and this is much more apparent - the deep south dust bowl of 1930s USA. The script takes us through several bizarre locations and events; the three heroes infiltrate and break up a KKK meeting, get robbed by a lavishly dressed conman, get seduced by three sirens, achieve national musical fame as the 'The Soggy Bottom Boys' and finally get pardoned of all their crimes by the governor who they accidentally help to elect. The soundtrack to the film is genius, first amongst the great tracks is the song for which the Soggy Bottom Boys become famous. It's a fantastically upbeat piece of music with a hyperactive beat and strained harmonised vocals. It's almost worth watching the film just for the music. Thankfully though the rest of the film is a heartily good romp of eccentricity, mysticism and oversized characters. Not the Coen brothers' best, but still very good.
Rating: 7/10.

Office Space (1999).
Starring: Ron Livingston, John C McGinley, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole.
Director: Mike Judge.
Synopsis: A young man works in a dead end job, but all that is about to change.
Dean's comments: Perhaps the modern definition of a cult film, 'Office Space' will certainly strike a chord with anyone who has ever worked for a useless boss in a drab office doing something monotonous and dull. The film is by no means a classic, it is horribly contrived - the main character is hypnotised by a guy who then dies thus leaving him in a state of relaxed nirvana which frees him up to be rude to his boss - with some fairly hammy performances, but there is enough comedy to keep it all together and the plot never tries to venture into tedious moralising. It's all simple stuff at heart; guy hates job, guy meets girl, girl hates job, co-workers hate jobs, they hatch a hair-brained scheme to get rich quick; but with one magnificently funny scene that will have you skipping your DVD back time and time again (just imagine what Michael Corleone would do if his printer broke down). A funny film that is for the most part fairly unmemorable, but worth checking out for its cult status.
Rating: 6/10.

The Omen (1976).
Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner.
Director: Richard Donner.
Synopsis: A young family have a baby, little do they suspect that he is the son of satan.
Dean's comments: 'The Omen' is a classic horror which plays into the idea that you never really know what a baby / child is thinking, the idea that dark forces are protecting this helpless individual by manipulating the people around it is fantastically disturbing and frightening. The strength of the horror in the film lies in the way that the Satanic forces are un-confrontable and therefore essentially unbeatable. The film contains some scenes that have gone down in horror movie lore, the 'portent-photos' depicting the deaths of various characters are one important example, as well as the name 'Damien' being forever linked with Satanism. The best thing about the film in my mind is the premise that the characters not just up against a murderer or terrible being, but the devil himself, literally a god of evil. In this sense you know that the protagonists are doomed, how can the devil be beaten by mortals anyway? Gregory Peck is a great actor, and brings a real strength to his role; the final scene especially. Fans of horror should have already seen this, if not then where have they been all their lives? This is the quintessential 70's horror movie, with a classic musical score to go with it.
Rating: 7/10.

The Omen 2 (1978).
Starring: Jonathan Scott-Taylor, William Holden, Lee Grant.
Director: Don Taylor.
Synopsis: Damien learns his destiny as the antichrist.
Dean's comments: The second part very much follows on from the first, here though the horror of a small baby being looked after by dark forces is replaced by the horror of a young man trying to survive military academy. The mystery is somewhat diminished when Damien discovers the '666' logo on his head, I was always more scared by the fact that these dark forces of evil were acting in a way detached from Damien and out of his control. With Damien aware of his power, the impact is diminished. The best bit is easily when Damien's identity is discovered on the rocky wall-painting that has been stored away from prying eyes for millennia. Still a good horror film then, but it looses the impact and weight of the first.
Rating: 5/10.

The Omen 3 (1981).
Starring: Sam Neill.
Director: Graham Baker.
Synopsis: Now an adult with a high-powered job within the U.S. diplomatic corps, Damien tries to kill the second coming of Christ.
Dean's comments: The comments that applied to the second 'Omen' film apply doubly so here, with Damien now fully grown and using his powers consciously the impact of the detached and all-powerful Satanic force is diminished further. The plot is interesting I suppose, it doesn't make a huge amount of sense though that God would wait for so long to try to defeat his nemesis by bringing a 'second coming'. The thing just isn't as emotionally engaging anymore because of the Human embodiment of the Devil. By the way, I have seen Omen 4 but it is so bad that I'm not even going to review it.
Rating: 3/10.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
Starring: George Lazenby, Telly Savalas, Diana Rigg.
Director: Peter R Hunt.
Synopsis: Bond goes after his arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Dean's comments: Fans of 'Bond' seem to be very divided over this film. Fans of Flemmings books claim that 'On her Majesty's secret service' is the best story in the literature, some say that this film is appalling, others say that it's great because Bond is more than a caricature for the first and only time to date. Let's start by saying that this is not the worst Bond film, and that I have never read any Ian Fleming books. All I know is that George Lazenby is rubbish, and doesn't look the part in the slightest. Having said that, Diana Rigg is fantastic (as is Savalas) and the film might have been better off if she had been drafted in to play the first female Bond (after her Avengers work I'm sure people would have accepted her in the role). The trouble is that whenever I think of this film I can't help but remember the ridiculous blue-screened skiing scene which Lazenby hams up so badly it made me want to stop watching. In short, this isn't great, but no-where near as bad as some 'fans' of Bond might have you think.
Rating: 3/10.

On The Waterfront (1954).
Starring: Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J Cobb, Rod Steiger.
Director: Elia Kazan.
Synopsis: An ex-boxer unwittingly assists corrupt union bosses in the murder of a man.
Dean's comments: In this exquisitely crafted and beautiful film, Marlon Brando stars as the young ex-prize-fighter who once took a drive for a bet and is now working as a low-level tough for a corrupt dockside union. This is no ordinary dockside, and this is no ordinary coming-of-age tale about a man who has the veil of naivety lifted from his eyes. ‘On the Waterfront’ is set in the docks of New York at a time when corruption in unions and silence amongst men was rife, the cityscapes look beautiful even through the fog and miasma of the burgeoning industrial 1950s. Brando plays Terry Malloy, a man who unwillingly participates in the murder of a man and begins to see through the lies that he has come to accept about life on the docks. This is not a journey he undertakes alone though; a local priest and young woman – representing aspects of society’s good will and civility – open his eyes to the truth of what he is unwillingly doing to his friends and family. The film magnificently captures the contradictions of the working classes in the modern age, the strength of the men on the docksides contrasts starkly against their unwillingness to use or focus their strength against the self-appointed union masters. The ‘D and D’ – deaf and dumb when talked to by the police – culture of the workers extends even to a self-imposed silence when one of their own number being murdered, even more shocking is the reaction of the workmen to Malloy after his testimony against the union boss. Despite being a hero, he is ostracised. The story shows the plight of the working man from the view of those at the bottom, the film shoes us how good men and women are prepared to ignore injustice and stand up for the bad guy because society and experience has taught them that they can only really afford to look out for themselves. The film’s final scenes brought a tear to my eye as I pleaded with Brando’s character to get up and walk those final steps that would inspire his fellow working men to leave their corrupt ‘unions’ behind forever. The film’s ultimate message is one of great hope and inspiration; although Brando’s character inspires the men to challenge the union boss, it is ultimately their collective strength that wins the day. A film which is just about the most perfect I have seen in its portrayal of the idiosyncrasies of the working classes, ‘On the Waterfront’ should be watched by all who hope to understand the social and political dynamics of the post-war western world. A classic.
Rating: 10/10.

Ong Bak (2003).
Starring: Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao.
Director: Prachya Pinkaew.
Synopsis: A trained fighter from a small Thai village travels to Bankok after the village idol is stolen.
Dean's comments: After the recent deluge of movies in which martial arts experts have their skills exemplified by the addition of the occasional high wire and special effects, the promise of a film in which none of these 'aids' are used should fill us with fear and excitement. Fear that our over-stimulated senses may have ceased to appreciate the Bruce Lees of this world, anticipation and excitement of the fact that the kung fu film industry is getting back to basics. Thankfully for the producers of 'Ong Bak', there is not one moment in the film where the experience would have been improved by the addition of a high wire or unrealistic 'Shaolin Soccer' moment. Tony Jaa demonstrates a whirlwind of skill and talent as he chews up the sets and extras alike in the role of a simple villager given the task of retrieving the sacred Ong Bak - an image of the Buda - from Bangkok criminals. Jaa travels to the bright lights of the big city and makes an unwilling name for himself in the local fight club when his unscrupulous cousin becomes convinced that he can make money from his amazing talent as a martial artist. As Jaa's character is manipulated by one person after the next, he single-mindedly pursues the Ong Bak while trying to remember the reaching of his master that his fighting skills should never be used in anything but the direst of circumstances. 'Ong Bak' isn't the most original film of all time; there are kung fu film clichés (Jaa's comedy side-kick of a cousin, the mafia style bad guys) and excuses to have needless fights, but the visual experience more than makes up for this. Just watching Jaa perform would be enough even if there were no plot to speak of, he demonstrates an interesting fighting style in which he uses his body weight extensively to knock opponents off their feet and to the floor. There are a number of spectacularly acrobatic moments too, the knowledge that no wires or effects are used in the production of these moments make you want to watch them again and again. Thankfully the film's editor obliges in this regard by re-showing the best action sequences - often from 3 different angles. A visual treat for any fan of the martial arts genre, Tony Jaa is sure to become a screen legend second only to the likes of Bruce Lee.
Rating: 7/10.

Only Human (Seres queridos) (2004).
Starring: Norma Aleandro, Guillermo Toledo, Maria Botto, Marian Aguilera.
Director: Dominic Harari, Teresa Pelegri.
Synopsis: A daughter brings her Palestinian boyfriend home to her dysfunctional, Jewish, Argentinean family.
Dean's comments: Although no-one could claim that ‘Only Human’ (‘Seres Queridos’ actually translates – sort of – as ‘You’ll be loved’) has a lot of originality in it, it is a film that packs a whole load of comedy in its 90 minutes of run time. The gags are all quite well-worn; families are dysfunctional, the mother is washed up, the sister is an over-sexed single mother, the brother is a bewildered pseudo-religious freak, the granddad is an eccentric, but somehow it all comes across as rather fresh and modern, sparking new life into what should really be tired gags. The film cleverly uses comedy to deal with the main underlying plot, that of the difference in religion between the family and the new boyfriend. Of course none of the family are really religious, and the boyfriend is a teacher who works in Barcelona rather than a Koran-preaching Imam, but everyone seems to have to try so hard to get over the prejudices they claim not to have. In the end we start to sympathise with everyone involved, after all they’re just a normal family struggling to come to terms with their own inconsistencies first before they take on world politics. A modern and refreshing take on a classic tale of blood being thicker than water and families simultaneously providing their members with equal quantities of strife and comfort, ‘Seres Queridos’ is a comedy that most people will see a lot of their own lives in.
Rating: 6/10.

The Others (2001).
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston.
Director: Alejandro Amenabár.
Synopsis: A classic ghost story set in a lonely old house in post-wartime Britain.
Dean's comments: 'The Others' is a classic ghost story (lonely house, lonely mother, kids seeing ghosts, misty surroundings) which is genuinely scary, has a great twist and doesn't contain many of the usual telegraphs that ruin similar films. Nicole Kidman is brilliant (when isn't she brilliant?) and does a good job of looking scarred and determined at the same time. This is recommended for fans of the genre and people who like to jump in their seats.
Rating: 6/10.

Outfoxed (2004).
Starring: Various interviewees.
Director: Robert Greenwald.
Synopsis: Documentary on the fox news network.
Dean's comments: This is another of these films which is never going to do anything beyond preach to the converted. I applaud the makers for going to such lengths to demonstrate the bias inherent in the Fox news network, but no one who agrees with Sean Hannity’s drivel is ever going to watch the film let alone take on board the salient points an begin a campaign of truth against Murdoch’s network. Only a bunch of sad left wingers – that’s me – are ever going to be bothered enough to care. Despite this, the film itself – despite clearly being made with a certain agenda in mind – is an attractive documentary which appears to have been well-researched. Anyone with a passing interest in the modern media phenomenon which is 24-hour news should watch this; I suspect very few will.
Rating: 6/10.

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