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

Raging Bull (1980).
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty.
Director: Martin Scorsese.
Synopsis: The story of the life of the boxer Jake La Motta.
Dean's comments: Quite simply a brilliant film in which the style, method acting and cinematography of the boxing action are unsurpassable. I'm not a fan of boxing, and as such I can bring myself to rate the film any higher than this, even though it's obvious that its a classic deserving of much praise. De Niro especially deserves the plaudits for the way that he devoted his body to becoming two ages of La Mota (during his career as a determined youth from the local area and then after his fall from stardom, becoming nothing more than a 'B' list star in cabaret clubs) rapidly gaining and then losing weight. The film won an Oscar for the editing, and rightly so, the use of animal noises and swift cuts from inside the ring get the viewer into the thick of the action. Even people ambivalent towards the sport are forced to appreciate the strains that the boxers went through, and the stresses they had to endure. The life of La Mota himself swings between deserving sympathy and deserving jail, often both in the same scene. He was a man with a very complicated life and an even more complicated mental state, laced with paranoia and fear; he was rarely content and so the film of his life and times is a riveting affair.
Rating: 8/10.

Raising Arizona (1987).
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Holly Hunter.
Director: Joel Coen.
Synopsis: A man and wife (he a failed armed robber, she a prison clerk) scheme to steal a babay.
Dean's comments: The masters of modern screwball comedy created a strangely captivating work of bizarre genius when they produced 'Raising Arizona'. To describe the film in any way is almost to do it an injustice, it is so beyond the boundaries of normal genres that it almost defies the usual definition of a comedy. More so than any other Coen brothers' film, 'Raising Arizona' represents Ethan and Joel simply opening up their minds and filming whatever came out, no matter how eccentric or strange. Holly Hunter and Nick Cage play one of the oddest couples of all time, a couple with strange ideals about the nature of love and how a 'normal' family should behave. They steal a baby from uncaring parents, name him Arizona, and proceed to have a series of outlandish encounters with a whole host of Coen brothers' regulars playing a variety of archetypal Coen brothers characters. From the in-laws to militant baby-snatchers to a grenade-toting hell's angel, there is no-one ludicrous enough to be out of place in this most spaced out of films. In terms of the actual plot, the film revolves around a couple who cannot have a baby, resort to theft and then watch as their lives spiral out of control. As to why this happens, morals regarding the theft of a baby or why indeed a serial criminal would marry the local sheriff’s assistant, the Coen brothers are typically silent; preferring instead to focus on the visual feast that is the insanity of the events and leave their significance to the viewer. Simply a great comic festival in which the whys and wherefores are ignored in favour of laughter, 'Raising Arizona' should have them rolling in the aisles.
Rating: 7/10.

Ran (1985).
Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu.
Director: Akira Kurosawa.
Synopsis: A warlord in medieval Japan leaves his lands and riches to his sons.
Dean's comments: A genuine epic full of lavish sets, bright colours, overwhelming action and a tale about princes, princesses, warring families and power-hungry lords; Ran should be a much more entertaining romp than it actually is. Kurosawa seems to almost over-use the splashes of pastel colours and vibrant reds and yellows on the plumes of the warriors in his battle scenes, this feels a little like an attempt to make up for the fact that all his best films were made in black and white. Kurosawa is a master of story-telling and one of the greatest directors of all time, he has an unfortunate tendency to allow his films to drag and allow a promising beginning become bogged down in unnecessary exposition. This is the case to a certain extent in Ran. The main plot follows the machinations of a family after the father - a powerful warlord - decides to retire and split his fortunes of war amongst his sons. The resulting 'peace in our time' lasts for not long though as the sons are soon quibbling over what is left of the kingdom and are busy exiling their father from their newly-acquired lands. Now if any of this sounds familiar to you then you are most likely a Shakespeare fan; apparently this is an adaptation of 'King Lear'. I can't imagine a western production of that play set in a western context ever being as lavish and opulent as Kurosawa's medieval Nipponese epic. In terms of being a sheer festival of everything that is visually stunning about movies, 'Ran' will beat most opposition; the lack of a powerful narrative drive is a big let-down though.
Rating: 6/10.

Rashomon (1950).
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori.
Director: Akira Kurosawa.
Synopsis: The story of a terrible murder to told from several conflicting viewpoints.
Dean's comments: Being one of Kurosawa's earlier films, 'Rashomon' has lost a lot of its impact on the modern viewer as a result of the techniques he helped to pioneer being exploited and over-used by anyone and everyone since. However, even without keeping the historical context of the film in mind, several sequences are very impressive - I am mainly thinking of the story that is told by a medium who is channelling a murdered husband. The plot is that a murder has been committed, and that the various parties involved tell their versions of events. Each version is subtly different from the last, the murdered husband speaks through a medium of his own suicide, the bandit tells of being goaded into the fight by the dishonoured wife, the wife describes the insanity of the bandit as he ruthlessly kills her husband. The themes of the film revolve around the fallibility of people and their insistence on bending the truth in order to appear better than they are. There is the usual Kurosawa tendency to over-dwell on lengthy atmosphere-building shots; this is not as irritating as some of his other films though, as it is an integral part of the plot. The subtle differences between the shots and angles define the varying points of views of the characters. 'Rashomon' is a tense and engaging film, but one that is only fully appreciated by keeping the historical context of film-making in mind. It is a film which pushed the boundaries of cinema by allowing its actors to play different characters and using clever camerawork to tell the story just as much as the dialogue. A landmark film that has lost a little of its edge in the post modern age.
Rating: 7/10.

Ray (2004).
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington.
Director: Taylor Hackford.
Synopsis: The life and times of legendary blues pianist Ray Charles.
Dean's comments: A tale of two men, 'Ray' tells the story of the legendary blues pianist Ray Charles as much as it tells the story of a great actor. I rate Jamie Foxx's biographical performance as one of the strongest I have seen in modern times. He stretches every sinew and taxes ever spark of acting talent in order to show the complexity of Ray Charles as a man. A man who displays such innocence at certain ways of the world while showing almost ruthless exploitation of his position and reputation to get women, he seemed to lead an almost chaotic life in which there were never any certainties. Despite frivolous use of drugs and faithlessness to his wife, Charles comes through as a man who deeply cared about people around him but whose weakness was his humanity. How can a man from such a humble background say 'no' when riches and the high life is thrust upon him? It is felt that Charles' passion for his music was partly due to the hardships he endured, one can only sing from what one knows in the heart after all. The problem with a biopic like this is that it is difficult to know whether to pass comment on the film or the life of the person you have just seen portrayed. However you feel about Ray Charles and the music he played, 'Ray' is an excellent film because of Jamie Foxx - it's as simple as that. He is fast becoming one of the finest actors in his generation, 'Ray' shows him at the zenith of his powers.
Rating: 7/10.

Rear Window (1954).
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock.
Synopsis: A man confined to a wheelchair in his appartment becomes convinced that a murder has taken place in the flat oppisite.
Dean's comments: Is there anything that Alfred Hitchcock couldn't do? What kind of genius does it take to build up all the 'whodunnit' mystery and tension of a crime thriller, all shot from the inside of one apartment building? Well it isn't all down to the director, he had some help in the form of an outstanding performance by James Stewart as the archetypical Hitchcockian inquisitive male lead who simply can't help but embroil himself in a mystery. An exceptional and deceptively simple mystery, 'Rear Window' stands out amongst Hitchcock's repertoire as a classic amongst classics.
Rating: 8/10.

Rebecca (1940).
Starring: Lawrence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock.
Synopsis: A young woman marries a rich widower, only to discover that the influence of the memories of his previous wife live on and begin to affect her life.
Dean's comments: Rebecca is a film in the Hitchcock mould of tense mysteries, it also has several other levels to it, including comedy, drama and a murder mystery. Lawrence Olivier just eats up the set as the troubled widower who has painful memories of his late wife and even more painful experiences settling into a new routine. Fontaine plays the inexperienced girl perfectly; she is totally unprepared for her new role as lady of the house. I think that the best performance comes from Judith Anderson as the positively scary Mrs Danvers, housekeeper at the Mandalay residence. She seems to have contempt for Fontaine's character because she is unable to be a traditional haughty 'lady'. The film rumbles along, with great wit and panache, between several different styles and feels, opening with a spooky nightmare we are soon in Monaco for a tale of love-at-first-sight before coming back to England for some tense rivalries and to find out the awful truth about Olivier's relationship with the eponymous Rebecca. I would say that the various plots and twists in Rebecca should ensure that everyone will find something they'll enjoy.
Rating: 8/10.

Rebel without a cause (1955).
Starring: James Dean, Nathalie Wood, Sal Mineo.
Director: Nicholas Ray.
Synopsis: A teenager who can't stay out of trouble moves into a new school and attracts instant attention.
Dean's comments: Why is it that every generation thinks that it’s teenagers are the most destructive who have ever lived? Those who would complain that the ‘kids of today’ have ‘no respect’ and are more destructive that the teenagers of some imaginary halcyon age would do well to learn a little bit of cultural history, watching ‘Rebel without a cause’ might be a good place to start. James Dean plays Jim Stark, a teenagers who – despite a strong family and a good secure upbringing – cannot stop rebelling against what he perceives are society’s demands of him. Jim seems to attract trouble, when he moves to a new school he cannot help but get on the wrong side of the bad gang of kids, the leader of whom he fights and then challenges to a dare-devil car race. Exactly why he behaves in this way is never clearly stated, but hints are dropped liberally about the unhappiness of white-washed life in the post-war era. In a society where life is ‘easy’ (no hunger, plenty of housing), a teenager’s undoubted excess energies have to be released somewhere. When society deems it preferable to punish teenagers for behaving normally rather than steering them into alternative outlets, the seeds are sown for a social breakdown. So there you are Mr and Mrs Daily Mail reader, teenagers have always been tear-aways and the current crop is no different to when you were young.
Rating: 6/10.

Red Road (2006).
Starring: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran.
Director: Andrea Arnold.
Synopsis: A CCTV operator recognisees someone from her past.
Dean's comments: It is a joy to every so often discover a film with a simple script that is impeccably acted.  'Red Road' is such a film.  It is a dark psychological thriller which revolves around the lonely existence of a divorcee, a woman who's career and relationship with her ex-husband's parents force her to live on the edges of normal society.  By working as a CCTV operator, she sees life through a camera lens and is constantly isolated from the real world.  When she sees a man from the past through her camera, the fact that she reacts at all is an indication that there is a terrible story untold.  As the story unfolds the history of what went on between these characters is revealed slowly and thoughtfully.  It remains unclear for a long time what she is trying to accomplish by stalking the man.  Is she attempting revenge or simply morbidly fascinated by a man who's dark past makes him interesting in a way that she never can be.  Unlike many films of this genre, the reveal - when it comes - is satisfying and, though touching, not as grisly or nihilistic as I was expecting.  By the end the film does give humanity hope, but in our modern age of lives separated by walls, lies and cameras, it's going to be tough.
Rating: 7/10.

The Red Squirrel (La Ardilla Roja) (1992).
Starring: Emma Suarez, Nancho Novo.
Director: Julio Medem.
Synopsis: A man decides against suicide when he meets an amnesiac woman who has just been involved in a motorbike accident.
Dean's comments: The tag-line to this film makes mention of the fact that it's an 'anti-macho' piece. This is certainly true in the sense that the male characters in the film are a fairly useless bunch while all the women are strong and wilful people. The plot revolves around a man pretending that he is the boyfriend of a woman he has only just met after she was involved in a motorbike accident. The man had been contemplating suicide, but decides that this charade would be a more interesting endeavour. As the plot moves along the nature of the deceptions become more and more complex, with other people being dragged into the web of lies. The 'Red Squirrel' itself is the name of a park, but also refers to a creature (unsown) which might be interfering with the lives of the protagonists and unknowingly unravelling their deception. The film deserves to be watched because it's got some good lines and a group of interesting characters. Not to mention that they all speak reasonably slow Spanish, and I could understand about 50% of it (assuming they didn't use words I'd never heard before).
Rating: 7/10.

Reign of Fire (2002).
Starring: Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco, Matthew McConaughey.
Director: Rob Bowman.
Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world, Human survivors battle against ancient dragons.
Dean's comments: This is a very ordinary action film with a lot of flash bang and post-apocalyptic clichés. The cast aren't great and the plot is just a set of relatively unconnected set pieces in which the characters either have to kill, catch or run away from dragons. I suppose that the dragon SFX are quite good, and I like the way they have a go at American, but if you want a modern post-apocalyptic thriller then watch '28 days later'.
Rating: 3/10.

Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Starring: Harvey Kietel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen.
Director: Quentin Tarantino.
Synopsis: The aftermath of a hold-up at a jewellery store.
Dean's comments: Now here's an interesting film, a film about a jewellery heist in which we never get to see a hold-up. In fact, most of the film's worst criminal acts happen off camera (think ear-slicing and Mr White going 'mad' in the jewellery store). In his presentation of the behaviour of this gang Tarantino has hit upon something special, we are introduced to the members of the gang and their idiosyncrasies rather than seeing them solely in terms of their criminal activities. The opening scene, where the group discuss tipping waitresses around a large open table before emerging into the morning air to stuck ironically down the street outside encapsulates, this idea; that we are taken into this underground criminal world by something as innocuous as a comradely argument about tips, something we've probably all done. The plot revolves around a heist in a jewellery store, with the gang members each known by a randomly selected colour and therefore totally unaware of each other's pasts. As the story develops we get glimpses into the planning of the heist, as well as the police efforts to infiltrate the crime ring and snippets of events close to the heist itself (crucially though we never get to see inside the store or any of the crime in progress). The film is great because the characters are all weird and wonderful, the plot is simple yet intricate in painting a picture of the motivations of the protagonists, the soundtrack is great while Tarantino's direction shows all the hallmarks of a creative genius trying new things. 'Reservoir Dogs' is a classic crime movie, one of the quintessential films of the 1990s that will live long into the future as a benchmark for the crime genre.
Rating: 9/10.

Resident Evil (2002).
Starring: Mila Jolovich, Michelle Rodriguez.
Director: Paul W S Anderson.
Synopsis: A woman with a mysterious past awakes to discover she is in the middle of a battle to the death involving flesh-eating zombies.
Dean's comments: I recon that this film is only passable if you fancy an evening of mindless action and extreme violence where any attempt to make sense of a 'plot' or develop 'characters' is ignored. It would be great to see two female leads in an action film if they actually did anything other than fire guns at zombies. There are some good special effects (the film's main redeeming factor), especially a brilliantly gruesome sequence where a guy is literally diced up by a series of powerful laser beams.
Rating: 2/10.

Return of the Jedi, Star Wars part 6 (1983).
Starring: Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford.
Director: Richard Marquand.
Synopsis: The forces of the rebellion and the empire line up for the final battle.
Dean's comments: Come on people, all you Star Wars fan-boys out there who persist in claiming that this is a good film while you rubbish the prequels need to have a serious re-examination of the facts. This film has precisely one good thing going for it, that it allows Darth Vader to be redeemed. After almost three films of the 'battle between good and evil' and the 'lure of the dark side' it turns out that 'evil' isn't an absolute, and that everyone has the power of forgiveness. Taken as a whole, the Star Wars films are about redemption, Anikin Skywalker was a man who embraced evil but found that it wasn't necessarily a one way street; through his actions and the mercy of those around him he is redeemed of all the terrible things he has done. Aside from the symbolism and subtext of the Star Wars arc, this final instalment isn't very good. The action starts too quickly, almost as if Lucas was worried he'd overdone it with the nadir at the end of 'The Empire Strikes Back' and needed to dazzle us with some effects as soon as possible. Then there's the whole 'new Death Star' (Think of something new!) and the 'Ewoks' (Lamest alien creatures ever!) to make everything really tacky.
Rating: 4/10.

Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars part 3 (2005).
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid.
Director: George Lucas.
Synopsis: Anakin Skywalker finally becomes Darth Vader.
Dean's comments: After all the hype and all the years of waiting, the movie going world finally got to find out the reason why Anakin Skywalker gave in to the dark side and became the all-time baddest of bad guys, Darth Vader. Except that's what they thought was going to happen when they turned up to the cinema. The flaws in Star Wars 3 are multitudinous and totally overwhelm Ian McDiarmid's strong performance as the emperor-to-be. From the opening blast of CGI (far too much to the eye to follow) to the lethargic and laborious exposition (20 minutes of people talking one-on-one about 'moving quickly') that proceed 'Ani's change to the dark side, it is clear that George Lucas has totally lost the plot. Once again the film looks like an over-produced toy advert; it's clear that McGregor is only in it for the money and Natalie Portman must have wondered what happened to her character, she is reduced to a lame romantic side-interest before Anikin inexplicably decides that her safety is worth siding with the powers of evil. The film is worst than the 'Phantom Menace'. The fact is that if you strip away all of the shit from 'Phantom Menace', what you're left with is a really cool light sabre battle in which the camera focuses on the action for more than a couple of frames at a time. If you strip all the shit away from 'episode 3' then all you've got is Lucas counting the dollars.
Rating: 2/10.

Ringu (1998).
Starring: Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rie Inou.
Director: Hideo Nakata.
Synopsis: A reporter investigates an urban myth surrounding a video tape which is rumoured to have mystical and deadly powers.
Dean's comments: This is a great horror film which generated a lot of mainstream interest in Japanese 'extreme Asian' cinema. The film makers have created their own urban myth, that there is a mysterious VHS tape which, when watched, will kill you if you fail to pass the tape on within 7 days. This is fairly reminiscent of those 'gypsy curse' emails which tell you to forward them to everyone in your address book or be cursed. The film therefore plays on modern fears surrounding technology and our unease around something that very few of us really understand. It's not just about the plot though; the execution is pretty good too. Hideo Nakata uses some well-worn horror genre clichés to good effect in order to build an air of tension and fear as the lead character investigates the deaths of her friends. The lead character is a journalist who discovers this legend and finds pictures of some recently killed people, their faces horribly distorted. It is reported that these people died in horrific terror, and that the myth of the VHS tape is somehow involved. The final scene is so unexpected (as one thinks that the film is over) that it becomes even more frightening than could otherwise have been; in that sense I suppose that the director is using the well-worn 'they always come back' cliché. Don't go into this film expecting anything, I think you'll be pretty surprised at how tense you'll feel by the end.
Rating: 7/10.

Ripley's Game (2002).
Starring: John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone.
Director: Liliana Cavani.
Synopsis: Tom Ripley, retired and living in Italy, prusuades his neighbour to become a murderer.
Dean's comments: The premise of 'Ripley's Game' rests on the portrayal of its main protagonist. Tom Ripley is given a dark edge by John Malkovich, his performance borders on the 'evil' side of self-serving egotism always keeping a healthy dose of dry black humour underneath the surface. Tom Ripley decides to manipulate his neighbour in a game of international murder and crime after an incident at a dinner party, such a character would normally be considered psychotic and somewhat deranged. In the world of Ripley's game though, the eponymous Ripley is more of a kindly middle-aged man who happens to have a tendency to ruthlessly kill criminals and keep their money rather than report them to the police. This is the kind of lead character I like to see in films, a man with many levels of depth to his personality and schemes who is always in front of the audience and all the other characters in the story. This is the kind of plotting I like to see too, a bit of mystery alongside a pile of darkly comic deaths. A major downside to the film is that Ray Winstone once again plays a dopey Cockney.
Rating: 6/10.

The Road to Perdition (2002).
Starring: Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Paul Newman.
Director: Sam Mendes.
Synopsis: The son of a member of an organised criminal gang in 1920s USA sees his father commiting a murder.
Dean's comments: This entire film is let down by the horribly signposted ending. It is too obvious what is going to happen; this would be so bad if the journey there was any good, sadly the film has very little atmosphere or gravitas to it. Hank's gang are meant to be menacing aren't they? Well they don't come across like that, Jude Law's character is the only one in the film who looks vaguely dangerous. The plot is all about Hanks' character having to choose between his blood family and his criminal family. One would expect this to be a hard choice; but this is a gangsters-by-the-numbers Hollywood film and so the outcomes are never in doubt. If it weren't for some vaguely good performances by Hanks and Law I would avdise people to steer well clear of 'Road to Perdition'.
Rating: 5/10.

Romper Stomper (1992).
Starring: Russell Crowe, Daniel Pollock.
Director: Geoffrey Wright.
Synopsis: A neo-nazi gang in Australia attacks local Asians but then begins to crumble at the seams.
Dean's comments: Now I thought I had seen a lot of violent films, but ‘Romper Stomper’ really takes the biscuit. The plot is on the surface rather uncomplicated – a bunch of Australian neo-nazis implode after losing a running battle with a gang of Vietnamese – but hides an excellent criticism of the politics of fear and hate. Fear and hatred breed violence, a violence which seems on the surface to be a solution to problems, but a violence that must ultimately escalate leaving no one a winner. This is a message which resonates in the modern world, a world in which reactionary commentators tell us that the way to deal with hatred is to send armies into foreign countries with all guns blazing. Fear, hatred and violence will only come back to bite you on the arse, just in the way it does to Russell Crowe’s gang when they decide to beat up a group of Vietnamese men who are drinking in a local bar. The sense of fun and achievement that they feel as they literally smash the heads of their rivals in is soon obliterated as they are chased out of the home and forced to hide in a warehouse. Rivalries soon emerge within the group; it is only a matter of time before matters take a deadly turn.
Rating: 6/10.

Ronin (1998).
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Natasha McElhone, Sean Bean.
Director: John Frankenheimer.
Synopsis: A spy / terrorism thriller in which each of the people gathered together by IRA operatives are working under thier own false pretense.
Dean's comments: This is a half-way decent action thriller / drama about a group of people gathered together for one criminal cause begin to disintegrate as individual members begin to reveal their true colours. The film has an incredibly long car crash which I can think of no other reason for than they needed to fill 5 extra minutes, but on the plus side there's some fun action stuff and a lot of intrigue between the members of the make-shift 'gang'. Natasha McElhone does a surprisingly good Ulster accent. 'Ronin' does have Bob De Niro in it and so is certainly worth a viewing. It's the sort of film for a mildly brainless action-orientated film evening in.
Rating: 5/10.

Rope (1948).
Starring: John Dall, Farley Granger, James Stewart.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock.
Synopsis: Two men kill the first guest to arrive at their party and hide the body in full view.
Dean's comments: More of a stage play than a screenplay, ‘Rope’ is a murder mystery with an interesting twist. The audience knows exactly what has happened and who has killed who from the opening scene, indeed we witness the murder in the very first shot. The plot then revolves around a party in which our two murderers revel in what they have done has their victim’s friends arrive and eat nibbles from a chest in which the murdered man lies. One of the murderers has some interestingly fascist opinions on the ‘right’ he has as an intellectual to kill at will; his accomplice finds it somewhat harder to comes to terms with what has happened and begins to break down as James Stewart’s character suspects some kind of foul play in progress. The film is broken into 4 rather indistinct acts, there are only three cuts in the entire film. It is good to see actors act as if they were in acting in a theatre, having to come in and out of shot on cue and very much getting into their characters. I guess the plot appealed to Hitchcock’s twisted thriller imagination, and I certainly agree that it makes for interesting material although it may work better on stage rather than screen.
Rating: 6/10.

The Rules of Attraction (2002).
Starring: James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder.
Director: Roger Avary.
Synopsis: Something about university students have lots of sex I think.
Dean's comments: This is a film me and my mates stopped watching because the opening 20 minutes were awful. It appeared to contain a pile of sequences that ran backwards before running forwards at normal pace. Is this supposed to be clever, because it just annoyed me. Don't watch this film.
Rating: 1/10.

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