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Paper Dolls (1982)
Absolute trash - but fantastically entertaining trash! *SPOILERS BELOW!*
Pure trashy, glamorous (well, for 1982 glamour-stakes anyhow!), bitchy and endlessly re-watchable entertainment, Paper Dolls is worth a watch for a number of reasons...
1) The opening credits sequence, in which supermodel Taryn Blake (Daryl Hannah, in one of her first acting jobs, coincidentally around the same time Blade Runner made her a star!) is photographed in a number of different poses, outfits and locations by the same guy who played Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch! During the opening moments, the title theme song is absolutely HILARIOUS! But, then, how could it not be with such lyrics as, "She works magic with her eyes... Full of innocence, that mesmerise..." or "Caught between two different worlds... She's the envy of the other girls"?! I wonder if this had been released as a pop single, would it have gone straight to #1?! Also, Daryl Hannah wears some of the most TERRIBLE clothes I've ever seen! But she still looks brilliant, and she seems to be having a ball playing up to the camera, as the photographer tells her to pretend such things as Timothy Hutton kissing her, so she would then "melt like chocolate chip in the sun" - I kid you not, he really says that!
2) Julia Blake, played to the hilt by Joan Hackett. Julia is teen supermodel Taryn Blake's cold-hearted, ruthless, bespectacled and miserable mother, who controls Taryn's entire life and is terrified at Taryn walking out on her the same way Taryn's father did years before.
The late Joan Hackett, who sadly passed away of cancer a year or so after this movie in her mid 40s, completely and utterly steals the entire show here! Watch out for the scene where she totally loses it with Taryn for simply wanting to have a sleepover with a friend - "YOU WALK OUT ON ME!" she bellows, "GO AHEAD! Like father, like daughter!" - how Joan Hackett didn't receive an Emmy nomination for portraying this frosty, uptight cow is a mystery to me!
3) As if one scary Joan in this movie wasn't enough - there's TWO! The ultimate Joan - Alexis Carrington, Joan Collins herself! If Ms Collins had been given more screen-time than Joan Hackett, it may have been SHE who chewed up the scenery instead! Collins is Racine, the sophisticated and pushy talent agent. Collins is her usual flashy, campy, hilarious self. She says things like, "Ciao, darling!" and, "Be careful whose pool you swim in today - you never know whose been in it yesterday!" - basically, Racine could easily be a not-so-distant relative of Alexis Carrington!
4) CAT FIGHT! CAT FIGHT! One of the most hilarious girl-on-girl scraps that I've ever seen on film. Taryn Blake and her "rival", sweet high school student turned model Laurie Caswell (Alexandra Paul, making her film debut with this one!) battle in a make-up tent on a beach in Hawaii, rolling around on the sandy floor, and smearing lipstick on each others' faces! The editing is appalling in this sequence, but that makes it even more funny!
Taryn yells such insults as, "Beginner novice!" while Laurie retorts, "You and your stupid, stupid games!" Needless to say, this is LITERALLY a "make up" tent, as the girls catch their reflection in a mirror, laugh hysterically at how idiotic they look, and are instantly best friends at that moment! All together now... AWWWW!!!!
5) The Warren Beatty look-a-like! Taryn and Laurie, loaded down with shopping bags in New York, spot movie star Warren Beatty across the street! Taryn's philosophy about approaching him is, "Famous people like to be recognised by other famous people!" What makes this scene so funny is the fact that the actor playing Warren Beatty looks about 15 years younger than Beatty actually would have looked in 1982!
I could go on in detail at the many, many great moments in Paper Dolls, but you should really try and see this obscure little gem to enjoy them all for yourself! It's tacky beyond belief, but that's part of its charm - and how many other nearly forgotten 1980s flicks star Daryl Hannah, Alexandra Paul, Joan Collins, Joan Hackett, Jennifer Warren, Craig T. Nelson, Marc Singer, Eric Stoltz... and the guy who played Huggy Bear from S&H?!!?
A fun way to spend 66 minutes!
Just slightly running over one hour long, this is a fun stand up comedy performance from my favourite guy of all time, Graham Norton!
Highlights include Graham making sexual innuendos by teasing a bloke in the front row, and right at the end when he brings out the beloved Kitty Phone (think VERY early episodes of So Graham Norton!), and makes one of his infamous phone calls!
I borrowed the video from a friend of mine, and now I'm tempted to buy a copy for myself! It isn't as brilliant as So Graham Norton or V Graham Norton, but it's 66 minutes of the great man himself, and that makes it a must-see!
V Graham Norton (2002)
Graham Norton, 5 nights a week - brilliant stuff!
I love Graham Norton's new show, V Graham Norton, going out 5 days a week - I am a huge fan, and although these half hour shows aren't QUITE as brilliant as the hour long Friday night So Graham Norton, they are still incredibly addictive!
I went and saw V Graham Norton being filmed on 10 June 2002, with my friend/work colleague Federika. The audience had to bring along embarrassing holiday photographs! I took along a sweet but humiliating photo of myself aged 12 (but looking MUCH younger!) in Cornwall, dressed as a pixie!
I didn't think the picture was shocking or hysterical enough to get a mention, but it did - and the audience liked it the most out of all the photos Graham selected, so I won the grand prize! My heart was pounding when Graham said, "Barnaby's our winner! Come up here, Barnaby!" and I had to go up onstage and meet one of my favourite people of all time, and be given a FREE HOLIDAY TO ICELAND!
So, I guess I am biased about how much I love the show! It's a shame it can't be at least 60 minutes long, it sometimes feels rushed at just half an hour in running time. The guests are generally brilliant - I think Jennifer Tilly was really funny, and Alex Kingston did a good send up of her doctor role in TV's ER! Daryl Hannah seemed very nervous, but relaxed and became more amused as the show went on.
The audience participation is still as funny as ever, one of the most amusing anecdotes being from a guy who had to break up with a woman because he had an allergic reaction to her!
V Graham Norton may be for truly dedicated, utterly devoted Graham Norton fans only... and that is what I am!
Possibly the greatest television series the BBC has EVER made
I absolutely adore Tenko - I saw it on video for the first time when I was 19 years old and was absolutely hooked! When I found out that only Series 1 was available on video, and that the BBC had failed to release Series 2, Series 3 and the two part special Tenko Reunion on video, I was hopping mad, I can tell you!
Finally, UK Gold repeated the entire series last year, and thanks to a fellow Tenko fan named Patsy, I now have the whole thing on video for me to watch over and over again!
The characters in this series are so real, that the viwer really does care for them deeply - Ann Bell is Marion Jefferson, the wife of a British army colonel, who finds herself appointed leader of the British women; Sister Ulrica (Patricia Lawrence) is the formidale nun, leader of the Dutch internees; Beatrice Mason (Stephanie Cole), the determined, no-nonsense doctor; Major Yamauchi (Bert Kwouk), the strict but at times compassionate commandant of the camp; nurses Kate Norris (Claire Oberman) and Nellie Keene (Jeananne Crowley); and so on, were just some of the protagonists who made this series so unforgettable.
Some of the most dramatic storylines occurred in Series 2, where a Eurasian woman, the evil Miss Hasan (Josephine Welcome) and a sly internee named Verna Johnson (Rosemary Martin) called the shots. Series 3 took place in Singapore, when the War had ended and the women had to cope with being free, trying to get used to their lives after years of imprisonment.
Gruelling, dramatic, shocking, funny, gripping - Tenko was all of these things, and much more. If it is ever on television, I urge you to watch it.
FYI: I recently met the actress Louise Jameson, who was so brilliant as Cockney Blanche Simmons in Tenko. I told her how much I loved the series, and she said that Tenko was her favourite acting job of all time - and she's been in Doctor Who, Bergerac and EastEnders to name just a few!
Stands alongside Breakfast Club as an Eighties teen classic
Lucas was released with little fanfare in 1986, and many think it is one of the greatest "teen" movies ever made. I would agree, for the simple reason that this particular film has realistic, sympathetic and likeable characters and, with the exception of all the football heroic antics towards the end, it's just full of sweetness and charm.
Looking back, it's one of those films with a very interesting cast...
Corey Haim (Lucas Blye) - this was Haim's finest hour, giving a really excellent performance as the title character, a misfit who listens to classical music and collects bugs in lieu of rock 'n' roll and partying. He followed this up with The Lost Boys the following year, but then WHAT happened?!!?...
Kerri Green (Maggie) - everyone loved this sweetly appealing, auburn haired actress in The Goonies (1985) and Lucas - she was lovely in both films. However, Kerri sadly chose not to persue an active film career, which is a disappointment as she would certainly have become a big movie star had she wanted to be...
Winona Ryder (Rena) - even in such a small supporting role, not to mention a debut performance, Winona indicated that she had an extraordinary acting talent. Even though her Lucas co-stars had the bigger roles, it was Winona who has become a major movie star with a huge array of films to her credit, plus two Oscar nominations for her work in The Age of Innocence (1993) and Little Women (1994)...
Charlie Sheen (Cappie) - 1986 was a great year for Martin Sheen's son. In Lucas and Platoon, Sheen did some great work. But like Corey Haim, what on earth went wrong?!...
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Alise) - who would have thought over a decade later this actress would do such a good job as Georgia Thomas in the hugely successful TV series Ally McBeal?!...
Despite its almost universal acclaim and brilliant young cast, Lucas is not as well-known to movie lovers as, say, Pretty in Pink or any other teen movie of that era. Well, all I can say is that those who have not seen Lucas are sadly missing out on something incredibly special.
So Graham Norton (1998)
As of May 2001, the best thing on British television - no argument!
You've only to read my imdb review of The Best of So Graham Norton DVD to know how much I adore this show - I record every episode on videotape so I can watch them over and over again, I have seen two episodes being filmed - the first one I saw was the episode with Sophia Loren and Ben Fogel, the second with Sir Elton John and Kim Wilde! I also cherish the autographed photo Graham Norton himself sent me, signed "For Barnaby, So Much Love, Graham Norton"!
So Graham Norton began in 1998 and by 2001, it became one of the most popular TV chat shows in England! Loyal fans tune in every week to see what shocking/embarrassing/sexual/perverted/unbelievable revelation Graham's audience will reveal, and to see which celebrity guests will be brave enough to chat with the cheekily irresistable Graham Norton!
Infamous for the hysterical websites that Graham downloads on the show, and for his phoning up wacky civilians (usually in America!), So Graham Norton gets better and better each week, and has made Graham a household name in the UK. Surprisingly, So Graham Norton is also incredibly popular with the critics and has won several awards, including a 2001 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Programme.
The current series has come to an end, but will be back in autumn 2001. I for one can hardly wait!
It's all just SO fantastic!
Without a doubt, Graham Norton is the funniest comedian that England has seen for a long, long time! I am an absolute major fan of Graham and his hilarious chat show, entitled So Graham Norton, which is one of the most popular TV programmes on Channel 4.
I tape his show every Friday evening and watch them over and over! I have even been lucky enough to see two episodes being filmed live in London - I was in the front row for the one with Sir Elton John and Kim Wilde, and near the back for the Sophia Loren/Ben Fogle show! Graham has also sent me a fabulous signed photo, enscribed "For Barnaby, So Much Love! Graham Norton"
The Best of So Graham Norton is a video and DVD of some of Graham's funniest, rudest and shockingly unforgettable moments from Series 1, 2 & 3. It begins with a compilation of "Stand up/Sit down" moments with the audience, who confess unbelievable things on national television, the most infamous being "you must have a bucket" Rachel, who admits to being in great pain after having sex with a well-hung man!
Next, we get a compilation of Graham's celebrity guests - classic moments include Sharon Gless admitting she was terrified when a British customs lady at Heathrow told her how brave she was to be doing Graham's show!
Many of the outrageous websites that Graham just loves to show his celebrity guests are in, including Carrie Fisher's favourite - "Morman Masturbation Prevention"! And yes, even those unforgettable phone calls to crazy Americans - Joan Collins gets to telephone Keith, the guy with a glove fetish who adored her glove-wearing Alexis in Dynasty!
There are so many brilliant moments, it is impossible for me to list them all here!
For all fans in the UK who love So Graham Norton, you MUST buy The Best of So Graham Norton on DVD (which also has a funny six minute interview with Graham himself, who reveals all on the mysterious pensioner Betty, who is in the front row every week, and lets us know how much he wants Dolly Parton to come on - she did, in Series 4, and she was fantastic!), you'll absolutely love it.
For all of you in America, I sincerely hope So Graham Norton gets a TV slot in the States soon. I don't know if you'll adore him as much as us Brits do, but if Anne Robinson of The Weakest Link can become a phenomenon in the States, then so should Graham Norton!
The Hole (2001)
Just saw it about two hours ago!
As soon as I finished work today at 5pm, I raced to my local Odeon cinema with my friend Cherry to watch The Hole by 5:45pm!
I don't think it was as eerie or as compelling as it could have been, but I was intrigued by the story and impressed by the young cast enough to be entertained.
What is great about The Hole is the fact that it gives the done-to-the-death American teen chiller movie a complete makeover, by being set in England. The film is fuelled by the ever excellent Thora Birch, who is excellent as Liz. A lot of reviews have criticised her attempt at a British accent, and although it isn't like when Gwyneth Paltrow made everyone in the world think she actually WAS a limey with Emma and Sliding Doors, Thora does a very good job.
I think British teens are depicted very well here onscreen - I am curious if The Hole will do well when it is released in the States, as they come off so differently from the Neve Campbells and Jennifer Love Hewitts of this world.
Although Nick Hamm's direction isn't always on the mark in this film, he captures some scenes just right - especially the one where the blond guy stands full-frontal naked chatting to Keira Knightley in the shower room, which came off very naturalistic, humorous, seductive and slightly dangerous.
There isn't enough suspense in The Hole and it is one of those movies where you think "It's good, but what a shame that they didn't do more with the enticing material".
Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999)
A good laugh
In England, Teaching Mrs. Tingle has gone directly to rental video - it did not get a cinema release over here, and I doubt it will come out on DVD either. This is a shame, as I for one think it is an enjoyably silly movie which was unfairly received by both critics and the general public.
True, it is not as skilfully plotted as Kevin Williamson's Scream movies, but the concept of the 1980 comedy classic 9 to 5, starring Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, is so brilliant that it deserved to be used again in a movie.
Helen Mirren is excellent as the cold, sneering, malevolent and ruthless Mrs. Eve Tingle - every single person who went to school has had a teacher like her! In my case, it was the terrifying Mrs. Woolhouse at my infant's school in London years ago - I know she and Mrs. Tingle would have been confidantes!
A lot of people criticised Helen Mirren for taking a role in a teen horror movie, due to her acclaim in the Prime Suspect TV drama, and her Oscar-nominated turn in The Madness of King George. Well, perhaps Mirren was desperate to do something a little less dramatic - what better than a film like Teaching Mrs. Tingle?! And to her credit, she did a great job.
Katie Holmes, who I have just seen in a brief but significant role in The Gift, is fairly likeable as the hapless Leigh Ann Watson, but it is the actress who plays Jo Lynn who steals the show. I forget her name, but she is hysterical - the scene where she acts out moments from The Exorcist to "entertain" a tied & gagged Mrs. Tingle is absolutely side-splitting stuff!
Rather like Ferris Bueller himself, Matthew Broderick, playing a dedicated teacher in Election, it's amusing to see Breakfast Club/Pretty in Pink/Sixteen Candles star Molly Ringwald play a substitute teacher in this film - a good casting decision by Kevin Williamson. But why did Vivica A. Fox have such a small part?
As well as humorous scenes, there are also moments of tenderness, particularly where Leigh Ann goes home to find her mother has fallen asleep in her bed, while the classic TV series Little House on the Prairie plays on Leigh Ann's television, featuring a sweet moment between Pa (Michael Landon) and Laura Ingalls (Melissa Gilbert).
Teaching Mrs. Tingle is not a classic by any means, but I have watched it three times now and enjoyed it every single time. Give it a try!
Poltergeist III (1988)
Extremely awful or extremely entertaining...?!
Well... both, really!
Poltergeist (1982) was an absolutely brilliant film with a fantastic storyline, superb acting from the entire cast - JoBeth Williams in particular - and great special effects. The first sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), is a fairly worthy follow up.
This the second sequel is a hard nut to crack! I have seen it many times and I cannot decide whether I think it's quite good or whether it is the biggest pile of rubbish ever made!
For a start, not having JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson reprise their roles as Diane and Steve Freeling in this film indicates that even they knew something wasn't quite right with the script for this film. Hard as they might try, Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen are not able to fill their shoes - Skerritt's Bruce is fairly likeable, but Allen's Pat/Trish is not at all a sympathetic character.
I think it was a good idea after the first two movies to have a different setting place, the Chicago skyscraper rather than just an ordinary house, so bravo to the filmmakers for trying something a tad different.
The problem with Poltergeist III is that it is just too odd in certain scenes - I still have no idea whether it is the real Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) and her boyfriend who murder the psychologist, or demons disguised as Donna and her boyfriend?! Is Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) dead and, if so, how the hell does she keep popping up now and then?!
The whole plot devide revolving around Tangina's tacky blue necklace is downright laughable, as is the number of times the dialogue consists totally of two words... CAROL ANNE!
I think it is a great pity that Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne Freeling so brilliantly in all three movies, died so tragically after the release of this film. Had she lived, she would have been in her 20s now - wouldn't it be interesting to know if her film career would have continued into the 1990s and 2000s?
The guy who plays Reverend Kane in this film is NO MATCH WHATSOEVER for the late Julian Beck, who was so scary as Kane in Part II!
The main problem with this film is Richard Fire, as stupid Dr Seaton. Even when Tangina's body turns grey and Donna comes out of her, he stands there saying rubbish like: "This is all Carol Anne's doing! It's not real, Mr and Mrs Gardner!" - puh-leeze! Hasn't he got eyes in his head?!
Ultimately, Poltergeist III is an absolute turkey, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy watching it! One more thing - that creepy little girl named Marcie should have been horribly murdered by Kane!
Not a patch on the 1982 original, but entertaining all the same
First of all, need to ask... where the HELL did the filmmakers find Julian Beck?! I remember seeing this film on television when I was about eight years old and my parents had to let me sleep in their room because I had been so frightened by Beck's voice ("Let...me...in!"; "Because...I'm...smart!"; "God is in His holy temple!" etc), appearance and old-fashioned preacher's clothing. It's difficult to think of him as an ordinary guy, drinking coffee with the cast & crew when the cameras weren't rolling!
That's the ironic thing about this film - considering they obviously spent lots of money on makeup and special effects, the most affective and eerie element came in the form of old Julian Beck! What a waste of budget!
Now for a couple of moans - Poltergeist was made in 1982, this sequel came four years later in 1986. This is obvious by how the original cast members now look - Oliver Robbins is now a teenager and Heather O'Rourke is not an ultra-sweet little girl. However, the events are supposed to be set just ONE YEAR after the first film, according to a line of dialogue from Steve (Craig T. Nelson).
And I know the reason Dominique Dunne did not reprise her role as the Freelings' eldest daughter, Dana, was because she was sadly killed after the first film was released, but her character is not mentioned even once in this movie. Fair enough, she might not have been living with them any longer, but couldn't Diane (JoBeth Williams) have come off the phone saying, "Boy, Dana's having a great time in Europe!" or something?!
The acting is so-so in this film (Will Sampson should NOT have been cast, and considering how brilliant Zelda Rubinstein was in her brief appearance in the earlier film, she overacts terribly this time round). Personally, I thought JoBeth Williams was outstanding as Diane in Poltergeist - worthy of an Oscar nomination. She is still good here, but doesn't get to get scream: "Get away from my BABIES!"
See Poltergeist II: The Other Side, and make up your mind if you think the first one was better (it is!).
3 Women (1977)
Robert Altman is an unappreciated genius!
I am a huge fan of Robert Altman. He has made some of the most unique motion pictures that we are ever likely to see, and you can always rely on Altman to create remarkable characters in his films.
Although everyone tends to state that Nashville (1975) is Altman's masterpiece, I think that honour goes to Short Cuts (1993). However, 3 Women is a close second.
I remember seeing this really late one night a few years ago, at about 1:30am. I had already seen some Altman pictures, and especially wanted to see this after reading how good it was.
I was just surprised at HOW good it was. The music score from the opening scene immediately caught my interest, indicating that this would be something special.
The story had me gripped from start to finish - it didn't even bother me that it is such a slow moving film, as I wasn't eager to have it come to an end!
The performances are outstanding. 3 Women provided Shelley Duvall with the greatest role of her sporadic career - she plays Millie Lammoreaux so well that it's difficult to picture anyone else doing it. I think I read that Altman allowed Duvall to write most of her dialogue and Millie's dialogue is what makes the film so special - that sounds strange when most of the time she's talking about recipes for her microwave oven that can be cooked in 20 minutes, but believe me it's true! Duvall won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for this film, but an Oscar nomination was sadly not forthcoming.
Duvall is supported brilliantly by Sissy Spacek, who should be applauded for taking the role of Pinky Rose after her star-making, Oscar nominated performance in Carrie (1976). Although she was in her thirties at the time, Spacek is consistently childlike in this film, even looking about 13 years old! I found her endearing as "sweet" Pinky and somewhat disturbing when she comes out of the coma, transforming into "horrible" Pinky!
Janice Rule has little to do as Willie, but some of her facial expressions are first rate.
This is a hard film to describe and difficult for me to urge others to see it - not because I don't think it is wonderful, but because it NEVER seems to be on TV and has NEVER been on videotape (and I doubt it will ever make it on to DVD, either). However, if you should ever catch it, you should not be disappointed. Believe me, you'll be engrossed in five minutes flat!
American Beauty (1999)
The best film of 1999 - no argument!
What else is there to say about this cinematic masterpiece that hasn't already been said by countless others, including IMDb users, critics worldwide and other artists in the film industry?!
Well, I just want everyone out there to know that I feel the same way!
Possibly the finest actor working at the moment, Kevin Spacey makes Lester Burnham one of the most memorable, likeable, endearing and complex characters ever captured on film. I know a lot of people wanted Denzel Washington to win the Oscar for Best Actor this year [I can't speculate, as I didn't see Hurricane], but I was thrilled when Gwyneth Paltrow announced Spacey as the recipient.
The three younger actors in the film are simply amazing. She has been acting since the age of four and appeared in such films as Patriot Games, Hocus Pocus and Now & Then, but this has been the first opportunity for Thora Birch to prove just how incredibly talented she is. As Jane, the Burnhams' miserable and lonely teenage daughter, Birch did a wonderful job.
Mena Suvari gave a star-making performance as Angela Hayes, the star of Lester's "rose petal fantasies" and I am sure Wes Bentley's career will soar, too.
Alan Ball's script is delicious - a combination of being funny, sad and dark. And well done to British director Sam Mendes - what a fantastic first movie!
Just ONE little moan (sorry!) - I just think it's a pity that wonderful character actress Allison Janney, who stole scenes as Ellen Barkin's best pal in Drop Dead Gorgeous and as the counsellor in 10 Things I Hate About You, does not have an awful lot to do as Mrs Fitts.
Other than that, American Beauty is a perfect film.
The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
Not a masterpiece, but a sadly overlooked horror gem from Disney
Along with Orca the Killer Whale and Jaws, this was among one of the first films I ever saw on video - back in about 1983, when I was three years old!
I remember watching this film practically every evening and going crazy when my elder brother taped over it! I didn't see it again until I was 14 and although it didn't have the same impact, I still think it is a highly imaginative chiller.
It is a shame that this film seemed doomed from the moment the cameras started rolling. To add to all the distribution problems, Bette Davis was reportedly bored rigid on set and thought Lynn-Holly Johnson was a lousy actress, often commenting on how much she'd wanted Diane Lane to star as Jan Curtis instead.
The atmosphere of the film is undeniably creepy, largely thanks to the music featured in it - both the score and the tune from Mrs Aylwood's music box are first rate. Alan Hulme's brilliant cinematography is a wonder to behold. Had The Watcher in the Woods been a box-office hit, I'm sure Hulme would have been nominated for an Oscar.
Johnson is not "lousy" (as Davis reportedly said), she is adequate in the leading role. Much better is adorable Kyle Richards (who had previously appeared in the horror film Halloween and as Alicia Sanderson Edwards in TV's Little House on the Prairie) who plays Johnson's younger sister. However, it is a shame that Davis, Carroll Baker and David McCallum are all sadly underused - the last named has hardly any screen time at all.
Definitely one to see, IF you DO manage to catch it, which is unlikely - the film was never available to buy on videotape in England and has only been on TV about twice in 20 years!
NOTE: The film did get a fabulous special edition DVD release in 2001, with all three endings so fans of the movie could FINALLY see the deleted scenes with the alien watcher of the title!
Maybe Baby (2000)
Could have been far better
Picture the scene - it's an office. Three ladies are sitting together, transfixed as a handsome young actor seductively recites a poem to them. When he has finished Joanna Lumley, with the sauciest grin you've ever seen on her face, says: "Darling, you're in serious danger of turning me back into a heterosexual!"
That scene alone is enough to see this film - I was in stitches for about 3 minutes!
I saw Maybe Baby the other evening with my friend Ruth, at a sneak preview. We both had very mixed feelings about it, agreeing that for the first half an hour it was fresh, funny and entertaining.
Maybe I'm biased as I am a major Joanna Lumley fan, but as soon as she disappears from sight, something goes slightly wrong and I began to look at my watch wondering when it would finish.
One of the biggest problems with this film is the casting of Joely Richardson as Lucy, the woman who is so desperate to conceive a baby. She is such an irritating character, not to mention soppy and bossy, that you really don't give a hoot if she DOES become pregnant. Personally, I would worry for the offspring's sanity with Lucy as a mother.
On the other hand, Hugh Laurie managed to be funny, charming, sympathetic and endearing, while Emma Thompson was great in her one and only scene as their hippie pal.
I practically closed my eyes whenever Rowan Atkinson (as Lucy's gynacologist) appeared onscreen - WHY does he always play these braindead characters? He is far more effective in the wily and acid-tongued roles like Blackadder.
It's a sweetly undemanding film, but if you are expecting anything like Notting Hill or Four Weddings & A Funeral, you'll be very disappointed.
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Winona & Angelina at their best!
Angelina Jolie became a star overnight with her performance as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted - she thoroughly deserved the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
One of the most talented actresses to emerge in the Eighties, Winona Ryder has not been so good since she played the malicious Abigail Williams in The Crucible. Susanna Kaysen was portrayed brilliantly by Ryder, who was curiously overlooked for a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
It is a great film, although it seemed to bypass cinemas completely in England. Definitely one to see - you'll be surprised at how much you'll remember it.
The Haunting (1999)
Not brilliant, but why such terrible reviews?! Lili Taylor's Nell is a career best!
I very nearly didn't bother going to see The Haunting when it was released in England recently, as I had not yet read even ONE decent or praising review. Thankfully, I had a change of heart and went with my good friends, Jason & Dave.
ALL three of us agreed that although Robert Wise's version from the 1960s is superior, Jan De Bont's 1999 version is in a league of its own. It certainly isn't a masterpiece, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining chiller. EVERY single member of the audience leapt out of their seats during the skeleton scene!
What makes The Haunting worth seeing is the outstanding performance from the excellent Lili Taylor as Eleanor "Nell" Vance, the most sensitive and vulnerable member of the group. It was a tough role and, considering Nell is in practically every scene (often alone, to boot), Taylor did a first rate job. Personally, I think she deserves a Best Actress Oscar nomination, but as the film was so badly received, she'll probably get an undeserved Razzie nomination instead.
If you can forgive the final few minutes, which are admittedly weak, I think you'll enjoy The Haunting. Hell, it's worth seeing for that screamingly funny/creepy woman as Mrs Dudley - "I don't stay at night. Not when it begins to get dark"!
MUCH better than the novel!
Carrie is a masterpiece of 1970s horror cinema. The Oscar nominated performances from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are flawless, and Brian De Palma never directed a better movie. A real eye opener, too - not many mainstream films had included scenes involving menstruation (Spacek in the shower) or oral sex (Nancy Allen and John Travolta in the parked car). With the exception of hairstyles and clothing, this one has not dated badly either.
Sliding Doors (1998)
Gwyneth at her "doubly" best!
Forget Gwyneth Paltrow's Academy Award-winning performance as Viola in Shakespeare in Love - THIS is the other movie she made in 1998 which SHOULD have won her the Best Actress Oscar! She is sublime in this brilliant romantic comedy, which marks the writing/directorial debut of Peter Howitt, who is best known in England for playing Joey "Greetings!" Boswell in the hit TV sitcom Bread. Thank God Minnie Driver turned the role of Helen down! Nobody, except possibly Kate Winslet, could have played it quite so well as Paltrow did. Although his character James is almost disgustingly perfect, John Hannah also gets a chance to shine, while both John Lynch (Gerry) and Jeanne Tripplehorn (Lydia) manage to be both instantly hissable, but strangely likeable characters! The storyline of this film is so simple I don't know why no-one ever made it years ago. Anyone still fixated on that all important "What if...?" question should see Sliding Doors immediately.
Mother Love (1989)
Diana Rigg at her finest hour - Barnaby Marriott
Diana Rigg is outstanding as the deranged and possessive Helena Vesey in this marvellous BBC mini-series of 1989. It is a role that, I believe, won her a British Academy Award (BAFTA). It is hard to remember anyone who managed to be so funny, scary and mesmerising than Ms Rigg as this indelible protagonist, who brings the superb dialogue to life - "Laburnum! Such a pretty tree... and so many of them!"; "Treachery, disloyalty... are the most DREADFUL of crimes. And deserve the severest punishment!"; and "Ha ha ha! HERE's Mr Tiger!". This series is sometimes repeated on Sky's UK Gold channel - make sure you see it!
Audrey Rose (1977)
Not quite up to the standards of Exorcist or Omen, but still good
Audrey Rose is a very intelligent horror movie, but it is not as creepy as its original source - the novel by Frank De Felitta. On the acting front, Marsha Mason is both believable and sympathetic as the frantic mother, Janice Templeton. It's a shame that both Sir Anthony Hopkins and John Beck seem to have their minds on other matters, as if they were not enjoying being a part of this movie. Making a fantastic debut, Susan Swift is quite remarkable in the dual roles of Ivy Templeton and Audrey Rose Hoover. The climax, however, is more depressing than moving.
Hilary and Jackie (1998)
A cello movie that's a stirring watch?!
I did not expect to find Hilary and Jackie such an absorbing and fascinating watch. What makes it so good is because of the superb acting by Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths, both of whom received well deserved Oscar nominations for their sublime performances as the title characters. Although Watson had the meatier part, I think Griffiths really holds her own, as the more subdued and thoughtful sister. The soundtrack is quite wonderful.
The Crucible (1996)
Based on possibly the greatest play ever written, The Crucible is a fabulous movie - it's hard to believe that it was actually distributed by 20th Century Fox, and not an independent company. Why it took so long to be adapted for the big screen is just baffling to me. Thank God that the genius behind the original text, Arthur Miller, was permitted to write the screenplay - and get an Oscar nomination for it! The cast are all to die for, with Winona Ryder proving she doesn't always have to play lovable characters like Charlotte Flax in Mermaids (1990), or Jo March in Little Women (1994) - her performance as the malicious Abigail Williams is just as outstanding. In her Oscar nominated portrayal of Elizabeth Proctor, Joan Allen leaves an indelible impression of marvellous acting. I was in tears in the scene where she and John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) fall in love all over again. I sincerely hope that The Crucible will be shown in schools/colleges in years to come, to remind us of the horror that occurred in 17th century Salem. A work of cinematic genius.
The Opposite of Sex (1997)
Not the classic everyone made out, but good all the same
I must admit, I didn't think this film was the masterpiece that the reviews made it out to be. However, I respected Don Roos for having the guts to make a film that most other filmmakers/studios would not dare to touch. At its core, it is fuelled by an outstanding and hysterical performance by the sublime Lisa Kudrow, as the grouchy and sexually repressed Lucia (pronounced "Loosha"!). It's hard to understand why she didn't receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but at least The New York Film Critics' Circle got it right! This film also establishes Christina Ricci as an actress who is going to go far.
Micki + Maude (1984)
Better than Blake Edwards' "10"
A brilliant comedy, which is without a doubt the best film Blake Edwards has ever made. In a Golden Globe winning performance, Dudley Moore is immensely likeable as the hapless Rob Salinger. He is superbly supported by the always lovely and excellent Amy Irving as Maude, while Ann Reinking had the best role of her confusingly brief career as Micki. A sweet, funny and highly original film.