This Week’s Films (18/05/14)

Some Guy Who Kills People

Some Guy Who Kills People (2011)Some Guy Who Kills People

At first glance, Ken Boyd may seem like an average comic enthusiast, living with his mother and working to make ends meet as an underpaid, underappreciated ice cream parlor attendant. But Ken has a dirty little secret: he fantasizes about killing people. After being released from a stay in the loony bin, for severe mental trauma suffered when he was beaten and tortured by a gang of high school thugs, Ken’s repressed anger suddenly reaches a boiling point. With gleeful enthusiasm Ken hunts down his tormentors, one by one, and exacts his bloody revenge.

Verdict: 8/10

The Great Train RobberyThe Great Train Robbery (1978)

All aboard for runaway action and suspense in this riveting masterpiece from writer/director Michael Crichton! Starring Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley Anne-Down, it’s a “spine-tingling and suavely performed” adventure (The Hollywood Reporter) based on history’s first train robbery. Filmed by Academy Award-winning* cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, this “ingenious” (Variety) and “wonderful” (Gene Shalit) crime caper delivers mile-a-minute thrills and breathtaking excitement. Connery is Edward Pierce, a master thief who conceives a brilliant plan to steal a fortune in gold bars from a railroad payroll car. But to pull off the most daring heist in history, Pierce must join forces with a safecracker (Sutherland) and his own beautiful girlfriend (Down) in a series of intricately plotted thefts that will test all of their nerve, camaraderie and larcenous skill.

Verdict: 7/10

Crime Time (1996)Crimetime

Bobby Mahon is an actor playing a notorious serial killer on prime-time television. The show becomes a hit, which encourages the real-life murderer on whom it’s based, to go on a spree to make it on screen.

Verdict: 5/10

Mood SwingersDead Babies/Mood Swingers (2000)

What starts as an intimate gathering of college students at a secluded mansion soon becomes a frenzy of parties and debauchery when additional friends arrive with their own formulas for fun. In the meantime, a terrorist group known as “The Conceptualists” infiltrates the area, committing random acts of murder and violence. Oblivious to the danger now among them, the students continue their partying until all hell breaks loose and the body count rises!

Verdict: 3/10

Hollywood Homicide (2003)Hollywood Homicide

From Oscar-nominated Ron Shelton (Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Bull Durham, 1989) this hot action comedy is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat…and in stitches. Starring Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett, HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE redefines the buddy-cop genre. In Hollywood, no one is who they really want to be. Veteran police detective Joe Gavilan (Ford) and his rookie partner K.C. Calden (Hartnett) are no exception. Between Joe’s struggling real estate business and K.C.’s fledgling acting career and yoga instruction, they’ve got a major murder case to solve. With both Internal Affairs and their main suspect on their tails, Joe and K.C. have to infiltrate the dangerous world of the hip-hop recording industry. Juggling two careers proves to be a comical adventure, with Joe and K.C. desperate to stay alive long enough to catch their big break.

Verdict: 4/10

StitchesStitches (2012)

Ten years after a prank on his birthday left hired clown Stitches dead on his kitchen floor, Tommy’s childhood friends gather to plan one last birthday party to end all parties. But they didn’t count on the degenerate jester returning from the grave to seek vengeance on the children who caused his untimely end. Now Tommy and his friends are on the run from an undead jokester who’s ready to use every trick in the book to exact his revenge. Dead Meat director Conor McMahon delivers a delirious slasher with STITCHES, the hilariously twisted and blood soaked tale of one very bad clown.

Verdict: 4/10

The World’s End (2013)World's End

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reteam with director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) in this wildly entertaining thrill ride that critics call “funny as hell” (Richard Roeper, WLS-AM Chicago) and “sheer comic perfection” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).  Twenty years after their first epic pub crawl attempt, the “five musketeers” reunite in their home town to complete the ultimate challenge – one night, five friends, twelve bars – a boozy quest on which only the strongest will survive. But after a bizarre series of encounters with the out-of-this-world locals, they soon realize that reaching their final pub, The World’s End, may be the least of their troubles.  They’re having the time of their lives, ready to take on the world…but tonight they may have to save it.

Verdict: 8/10

ExtinctionExtinction: The G.M.O. Chronicles (2011)

A virus, designed as a tool in gene technology, goes out of control and infects 90% of the population leading to uncontrollable mutations. These zombie like humans seem intent on bringing an end to the few remaining uninfected humans on the planet. The few survivors must band together to survive against the horde and find a cure before time runs out.

Verdict: 5/10

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Special-effects wunderkind and genre master Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds, The Outer Limits) won a place in the hearts of fantasy-film lovers everywhere with this gorgeously designed journey into the unknown. When his spaceship crash-lands on the barren wastelands of Mars, U.S. astronaut Commander “Kit” Draper (Paul Mantee) must fight for survival, with a pet monkey seemingly his only companion. But is he alone? Shot in vast Techniscope and blazing Technicolor, Robinson Crusoe on Mars is an imaginative and beloved techni-marvel of classic science fiction.

Verdict: 6/10

Salmon Fishing in the YemenSalmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)

From the beloved director of Chocolat and the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire (2008) comes the inspirational comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. A visionary Sheikh (Amr Waked) believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative (Emily Blunt) to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain’s leading fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor), who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable. That is, until the Prime Minister’s overzealous press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) latches onto it as a ‘good will’ story. Now, this unlikely team will put it all on the line and embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible.

Verdict: 7/10

My Soul to Take (2010)My Soul to Take

On the day the Riverton Ripper vanished without a trace, seven children were born. Today, they’re all turning 16… and turning up dead. Legendary director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) keeps your heart racing with a suspense-thriller filled with twists, turns and a dark secret that will send your soul searching for cover.

Verdict: 2/10

All the Pretty HorsesAll the Pretty Horses (2000)

Always wanting to live the cowboy lifestyle, young John Grady (Damon) sets off for a Hacienda in Mexico. While there, John enters into a passionate romance with the spellbinding Alejandra (Cruz), much to the displeasure of her powerful father. Doomed from the start, their illicit affair will culminate in murder and betrayal and young John will have to confront the ultimate test of inner strength and resilience.

Verdict: 5/10

Bug (1975)Bug

A massive earth tremor opens a deep crevasse in the California dessert, releasing a bizarre and deadly breed of foot-long cockroaches which threaten to destroy the city of Riverside before spreading across the country.

Verdict: 2/10

HomegrownHomegrown (1998)

Five million dollars worth of California’s sweetest export is up for grabs when a mysterious assailant kills the rightful owner. Now, three naive hired hands who witnessed the murder are drawn into a dangerous world of double-dealing and death threats as they try to harvest and sell the yield. Take a deep breath and get ready to enjoy the most paranoid comedy of the growing season.

Verdict: 3/10

Conan the Destroyer (1984)Conan the Barbarian

The fabulous Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor, author, seven times Mr. Olympia and five times Mr. Universe, is back for the further adventures of Conan, the warrior king. And this time he’s joined by a large cast that includes Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain. In this second Conan epic, he is asked by the evil Queen Taramis to accompany a beautiful young princess to find a magic treasure. If he returns with the treasure and the virgin, the Queen promises to bring Conan’s beloved Valeria back from the dead. But little does he know that she plans to kill them both, or that the return of the treasure will mean the extinction of mankind. In the words of People magazine, “…the action is large-scale, the plot suitably fantastic, and the climax, a fight to the death between Conan and a god brought back to life (the monster was designed by E.T. creator Carlo Rambaldi), is slam-bang.”

Verdict: 5/10

Angela's AshesAngela’s Ashes (1999)

Life in impoverished Depression-era Ireland holds little promise for young Frank McCourt, the oldest son in a tightly-knit family. Living by his wits, cheered by his irrepressible spirit, and sustained by his mother’s fierce love, Frank embarks on an inspiring journey to overcome the poverty of his childhood and reach the land of his dreams: America.

Verdict: 7/10

Far and Away (1992)Far and Away

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in this critically-acclaimed romantic adventure from director Ron Howard. This breathtaking epic opens on the west coast of Ireland, 1892. Joseph Donelly (Cruise), a poor tenant farmer, is determined to bring justice to an oppressive landlord. Instead, he finds himself accompanying the landlord’s daughter, Shannon (Kidman), to America in a quest for land. Arriving in Boston, Joseph finds a place for them to live while proving a natural at bare-fisted boxing. But his triumph is short-lived as he and Shannon are thrown out into the bitter cold. Joseph sets off for work on the railroad, until a passing wagon train reminds him of his original goal to possess his own land. Preparing to stake his claim in the new territory, he runs into Shannon who is unhappily reunited with her former fiance. In the excitement of the Oklahoma land rush, they realize their dreams of land and life together in this satisfying grand-scale adventure that WNCN Radio calls “Ron Howard’s best film – a wondrous epic!”

Verdict: 4/10

Anywhere but HereAnywhere but Here (1999)

Adele is flashy, flirtatious dreamer. Her daughter Ann is a quiet, no-nonsense realist. On the surface, they’re like oil and water, but deep down there are two of a kind. “Susan Sarandon is show-stopping” (The New York Times) and “Natalie Portman soars” (NY-1) in this funny and touching story about a mother who knows best and a daughter who knows better!

Verdict: 7/10

Dirty Wars (2013)Dirty Wars

Journalist Jeremy Scahill presents a thrilling, globe-trotting exposé of America’s expanding secret wars.

Verdict: 8/10

SlackerSlacker (1991)

Slacker, directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused), presents a day in the life of a loose-knit Austin, Texas, subculture populated by eccentric and overeducated young people. Shooting on 16 mm for a mere $3,000, writer-producer-director Linklater and his crew of friends threw out any idea of a traditional plot, choosing instead to create a tapestry of over a hundred characters, each as compelling as the last. Slacker is a prescient look at an emerging generation of aggressive nonparticipants, and one of the key films of the American independent film movement of the 1990s.

Verdict: 7/10

The Tracey Fragments (2007)The Tracey Fragments

“My name is Tracey Berkowitz… 15… just a normal girl who hates herself.” Oscar-nominated* Ellen Page (Juno) delivers an extraordinary performance as a feisty, independent-minded teenager with a unique view of the world. From cutting-edge director Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, Roadkill), The Tracey Fragments tells the story of an outsider who uses fantasy to help her deal with a secret crush, loneliness and frustration. When her 7-year-old brother wanders away while under her care, she examines her life as she is propelled on a late-night journey through the city in a desperate attempt to find him.

Verdict: 6/10

Jesus CampJesus Camp (2006)

Controversial documentary about kids attending a theological summer camp. The filmmakers step back from the fray and let the subjects words speak for themselves. Some reviewers have held this up as an example of the religious far right brainwashing kids, calling it the scariest horror film of the year. Solid reviews and continued press should generate interest in seeing this film upon release.

Verdict: 8/10

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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