Archive for July, 2010

I first saw The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension or Buckaroo Banzai for short in the mid to late 80’s and thought it was utter crap. Looking back on it now it is clearly a mess of a movie and a cheesy mess at that but like so many 80’s movies it has a certain charm. For those who don’t know it (I suspect they outweigh those that have seen it) here is a brief synopsis:

Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) is a Rock-Star, physicist and brain surgeon. Dr Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) whose mind has been taken over by Lord John Whorfin. Whorfin and the rest of his race the Red Lectroids have been banished to the 8th Dimension. Thousands of them escaped (it was covered up as Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds radio broadcast) and have an evil plan that only Dr. Buckaroo Banzai and his band of sidekicks The Hong Kong Cavaliers can stop him. He is helped along the way by Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin) (who for no good reason within the plot is the long-lost twin sister of Buckaroo’s dead wife) and by the peace loving Black Lectroids who had originally captured the Red Lectroids. And that’s a simplified version!

The mythology of the plot and the characters back story is bizarre, it is as if the filmmakers have created this elaborate universe to set the story in and not bothered to tell the audience about it, you just have to pick it up as you go along. The easiest way to describe it is picking up a TV show in the second season. You soon get to know the characters but you aren’t sure what has gone on before and you don’t get the in-jokes. This could be because there were several part-finished stories before they settled on one to be turned into a movie. It was also intended for there to be further Buckaroo Banzai adventures that didn’t happen for financial reasons. The end credits actually promise a sequel “Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League” although the sequel never happened, all reports at the time and since have stated it was the intention to make the movie. As well as the poor box-office, Sherwood Studios went out of business Shorty after the releases. There are suggestions that other studios were interested in picking up the character but never go beyond the red tape involved in acquiring the rights. There was also talk of a TV series in the 90’s, that also came to nothing!

As alluded to above, the movie bombed at the box-office but has gained a cult status ever since. The real problem with its lack of audience was twofold, there was a real lack of marketing for the movie, it also came out in the middle of the summer and had to compete with big hitters like Ghostbusters that was still packing them in two months after its original release. As the movie contained so many genres but couldn’t be pigeonholed into one the studio didn’t know how to market it or more to the point who to market it to.

All that aside the real question, is it any good. And the real answer, I’m not sure. I hated it when I was thirteen, twenty years later I kind of like it but I don’t know why. Everything about the movie goes over the top, the 80’s cloths, the acting and most notably the premise, but that really is no bad thing. The movie is the most fun when at its cheesiest. Also look out for the famous and much imitated end credit sequence. If you are still not convinced to take a look two questions. How funny does Jeff Goldblum look in his cowboy outfit; and how hot does a young Ellen Barkin look? (she was 30 at the time) still not curious? It kind of explains why the movie bombed.

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Making her first appearance in Batman #1 from 1940 (Not to be confused with the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics a year earlier). Selina Kyle aka Catwoman is Batmans most memorable, iconic and enduring love interest. As is often the case with comic book characters over time her origin and actions have sometimes contradicted previous stories, sometimes this is explained away by plot devices, other they just re-write history. Here is an overview of the character:

In her original appearance she was known as The Cat rather than Catwoman. As a burglar with a taste for high risk high-stakes she was introduced as an adversary for Batman. In the fifties she fell foul of the censors when the Comics Code Authority came into existence and she was promptly dropped. During this first stint it is revealed that she was flight attendant who suffered a blow to the head during a plane crash before starting her life of crime. She did briefly reform and help batman before being written out for over a decade.

Returning in the 60’s to the pages of the comic books as well as to the screen in the Batman TV series played by Julie Newmar (then later by Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt). Her most memorable screen outing came in Batman Returns (1992) played by Michelle Pfeiffer. There was another film version in 2004 but it was only vaguely based on the character.

The 70’s saw a new timeline known as “Earth-Two”. In this new version a reformed Selina Kyle married Bruce Wayne, the couple had a child Helena Wayne (who became the Huntress). Taking on the issues of the day it was revealed that the amnesia story was a lie told by Catwoman in a bid to change her identity and escape an abusive marriage. Her prowess as a burglar is revealed when she was forced to “steal” her own jewellery from her estranged husband’s vault. Enjoying the experience she becomes a professional cat burglar taking to The Cat/Catwoman as a disguise. This fits in with her original appearance.

In the 80’s Frank Millers Seminal Batman: Year One reinvented the character. Selina Kyle is a prostitute with an abusive pimp. She encounters Bruce Wayne before either take on their secret identities. 

This new origin was expanded upon in part and rewritten again in part over time. Catwoman (vol. 1) #0 contained an origin story starting with an unhappy childhood and unloving parents. Variouse twists and turns revel how she became Catwoman, one off the more interesting ones involves her time in an orphanage where she exposes a corrupt administrator who has been embezzling funds. At this time she also deletes “Selina Kyle” from the city’s records and steals a diamond necklace belonging to the corrupt administrator, possibly her first theft.

Since the success of the 90’s movie appearance she has had her own comic book series and is portrayed as a likeable antihero rather than an actual villain and is often a love interest of Batman.

Batman: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome both contain storylines suggesting that Selina may be the illegitimate daughter of Mafia boss Carmine Falcone.

How could she fit into the new movie? Following the death of Rachel Dawes Bruce Wayne becomes reclusive. Until he is forced by Alfred and Lucius to attend a party. There he meets a young socialite Selina Kyle who he is intrigued by. He is told she is new to Gothem, in her time there she has attended all the right parties and seen with all the right people, she drives a fast car and rides a motorcycle but nobody knows anything about her past, what she does for a living or where she lives. People chip in with rumors including a few that may be true (or similar to those from the comic book: Prostitute, Dominatrix, Burglar, Daughter of a mob Boss). The pair dump their prospective dates and spend the night together. The next day Bruce checks her out but at first he can find no record of her existing. Soon he discovers references all over the world to a mysterious female cat burglar who uses the latest technology to avoid detection and makes the most elaborate escapes. As he looks at the equipment she uses he soon realizes that she has purchased some of it from Wayne Enterprises via a dummy corporation, this will help him track her history.

As the story unfolds it is revealed that she has been working as a burglar for ten years. She has been doing it to earn money to help sting together some information and untimely to get close to the man she intends to kill. The man she blames for the death of her parents, an underworld boss who also may be her real farther Carmine Falcone*. As Bruce discovers what she is planning he tries to talk her out of it explain that revenge nearly destroyed him. Bruce’s saving Selina from herself can play out as his attempt at saving himself from his alter ego that is consuming him. This storyline can run alongside the main plot without being directly connected to it or it could have a direct connection to forcing Batman to make a difficult decision.

Why should she be in the movie. Batman/Bruce Wayne needs to move on from Rachel but it can’t be simple, he can’t meet a nice girl, hang up the cape and mask and settle down to a happy life. It has to be complicated and conflicted and above all I has to be someone who is in many ways his equal. Batman is a flawed character as under the mask he is just a man and he brings human flaws to the identity. The movie works best when he conflicted. And with Christopher Nolan’s visual flair and casting genius she guaranteed to look good! Who else can bring all these elements to the Batman universe?

Who could play her? The usual suspects who keep coming up are Kate Beckinsale, Rachel Weisz, Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie. Lets by honest everyone who has come up with those names is thinking what she would look like in Michelle Pfeiffer’s costume. As with everyone else who has appeared in Nolan movies to date she needs the acting ability to make it work. She ideally should be late twenties to mid thirties (or can pass for that age) tall and athletic other than that anything goes to be honest those things can go out the window if they have the right connection with Christian Bale. A few more suggestions: Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez, Eva Green, Emily Blunt and a real dark horse who needs to get way from crappy rom-com Anne Hathaway.

What would she be like in Nolan’s universe? A fiercely independent and often volatile individual hiding the damage person beneath. Possibly an adrenaline junky who is only happy when she forgets to be miserable.

Costume? A costume would be essential. Unfortunately Michelle Pfeiffer’s PVC won’t work. Something matt rather than shiny made of a high-tech (fictional) fabric would be more appropriate. She has been known to wear back, green or purple these could all be used at different times. The costume (as suggested above) could be made from a material developed by Wayne Enterprises possibly for military special forces. It should be stab proof and possibly coupled with a bullet proof vest over the top and a small backpack for her equipment and weapons. The addition of high-tech gauntlets and shin protectors would make it possible for her to fight Batman “toe to toe”; her costume offering less protection but more flexibility. Her mask/cowl has been known to contain night vision glasses, this would be useful (and could lend itself to a point of fight scene in total darkness). Gloves with retractable claws could be a useful tool/weapon. She may have to dispense with the whip in Nolan’s world though.


*For those who don’t remember Falcone was played by Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins, he was last seen in Arkham. He did not appear to escape with the other patients released by Ra’s al Ghul’s men and was mentioned In The Dark Knight as still being held in Arkham.

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“Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter” Ernest Hemingway – On the Blue Water

Predator 2 (1990) was a great sequel that really lived up to the Arnold Schwarzenegger original (1987). Danny Glover’s LA cop offered a perfect alternative Schwarzenegger’s “Dutch” and only a couple of steps removed from Roger Murtaugh helped make him a likeable hero. And I haven’t even mentioned the legend that is Gary Busey yet! One of the great things about the original was the ambiguity of the predators and their intensions, one of the best things about the sequel is the way it develops the myth further suggesting answers but asking more questions at the same time. But what’s wrong with the sequel? Very simply its not set in the jungle, predators belong in the jungle and that’s what writer/producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal give us, predators in the jungle.

Based on a script by Rodriguez that dates back to some time between El mariachi (1992) and Desperado (1995) and before the missed opportunity that was the Alien Vs Predator films. Here the film makes reference to the original but not to any of the sequels. Starting with a group of killers being parachuted into an unknown jungle with no knowledge before they woke up in freefall. The group consists of: Adrien Brody, a mercenary and Schwarzenegger’s spiritual successor; Alice Braga, an Israeli sniper; Walton Goggins, (currently recognisable from TV show Justified) an unhinged death row prisoner; Oleg Taktarov as Russian soldier with parallels to Blain (Jesse Ventura) from the original film; Danny Trejo a Mexican mob enforcer; Louis Ozawa Changchien, his Yakuza equivalent; Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as a killer from a Sierra Leone death squad and Topher Grace who appears to be the odd one out.

From here the movie plays out like the original taking its time before revealing the predators, this works on two levels: in the unlikely event this is someone’s first experience of a predator movie it works just like the original; for fans of the original it builds the expectation for the predators until they are finally revealed. Perfectly playing it holding out just long enough but not as long as in the original. When the predators do arrive it is a little predicable but that really isn’t a problem, if a franchise movie wasn’t somewhat predictable.

Making the most of its jungle setting featuring ideas seen before in the franchise including the predators hiding in the trees and the setting of booby traps. Then Laurence Fishburne turns up and in a fantastic role that references Apocalypse Now (1979) (the movie he got his big break in) in more than one way. The best scene in the movie involves Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) who confronts a predator armed with just a Katana. Not only does the scene reinforce the character development of the predators seen in the first two movies and AVP (the better of the Alien Vs Predator movies), it is also extremely well shot borrowing from movies like Hero (2002). Although failing to offer much originality the movie does enough to satisfy fans and newbie’s alike and sets itself up perfectly for a sequel, and even has scope for a prequel.From a production point of view, I just love the fact that despite the jungle scenes being shot in Hawaii, a lot of the movie was shot in Austin, Texas true to Robert Rodriguez’s origins. Whilst not the Predators to Predator in the same way Aliens was to Alien it is still a worthy sequel (or threequell depending on your point of view) a good film rather than a great one but most importantly in this somewhat lacklustre (so far) summer season it’s a good honest fun action movie. I know its only really worth three stars out of five but I really enjoyed it so:

Four Stars out of Five.

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Space, the final frontier, I’m sure I have heard that somewhere before. The vast and seeming endlessness of space, like storytelling and moviemaking is full of endless possibilities. It is often the case that filmmakers are at their best when overcoming limitations so what happens when the only limitations are their imaginations? The five movies we have picked are different in as many ways as they are similar; whether they are blending haunted house horror with action shoot-em-ups, taking us to strange new worlds or bringing the science back to science fiction they all have relevance in the present day.  Here is my contribution. Check out Movie Mobsters for the full article:


Serenity (2005)


“Half of writing history is hiding the truth” – Malcolm Reynolds

Written and directed by Joss Whedon Serenity picks up six months after the end of the TV show Firefly. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is the captain of the Serenity a cargo spaceship and home to a mismatched crew living on the edges of the law. When they help Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) rescue River (Summer Glau), his disturbed but gifted and telepathic sister from a medical facility it puts them in the direct firing line of an “operative” Chiwetel Ejiofor, basically a government assassin. Looking for a way out they stumble across a secret The Alliance doesn’t want anyone to know.

After the disappointment of the Star Wars prequels it was left to this spin-off from a cancelled TV show to show the way, possibly the best Sci-Fi movie of the last decade, certainly the most entertaining and fun. The skill with which the story is constructed makes it equally watchable for newcomers (which I was when I first saw it) and fans of the Firefly TV show (that I am now). The other great thing about the script is the way it is filled with comedy without detracting from the action or drama. The whole thing is held together by a charismatic performance by Nathan Fillion as Malcom Reynolds complimented by the rich variety of the other characters. Working on many levels Serenity is a great action adventure set in space with a large nod the western genre but looking deeper it is also a social commentary. The Alliance wants to make things better (unlike the evil power hungry Empire of Star Wars), unfortunately their meddling has deadly side-effects for some and is just unwelcome by others (American foreign policy and British colonial rule anyone?). That is the key to the movie, forget the cowboys in space, the ideas of good and evil, this is a story of humanity complete with our imperfections and our fallibility. The lasting effect of Serenity is yet to be seen but hopefully it will remind filmmakers of the simple ideals that made Star Wars so great.

“I aim to misbehave” – Malcolm Reynolds.

Also including: Groovers Guide to Star Trek

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A couple of months ago I posted a list of my favourite movies from when I was ten years old. But how did my tastes change? Although I still loved the movies from when I was ten (and still do) I had discovered a few more films in the five years that had passed.

The Terminator: Combining all the things I loved at the time; action, adventure, horror, sci-fi and a great story The Terminator was an instant classic that has only go better with age. Often unfairly overlooked in favour of its more flashy and expensive sequel that is a great film in its own right but the original is still the best. Just creeping onto the list ahead of another James Cameron movie Aliens.

Some Like it Hot: The first older film I fell in love with and to this day it is probably my favourite film. Perfection is an over used term but I can see no way this film could be made better, anyone who thinks they know is either very clever or incredibly stupid.

Die Hard: This movie reinvented action with heart, sole and intelligence without losing the raw and brutal edge that gives action movies there simple visceral edge. The icing on the cake for this movie is the confidence to make the villains the best character and give him all the best lines. As good now as it was over twenty years ago.

The Lost Boys: For every comedy horror that works there are at least a dozen that fall flat on their face. The lost Boys towers above all other movies of the genre. It is so silly it has no right to work but for some inexplicable reason it did and it still does.

Nikita: The first foreign language movie I remember watching and still one of my favourites. I love the fact this movie literally opened the world up to me, but I love it as a movie in its own right too, what more could you ask? Dismissed at the time for style over substance now it has the recognition it deserves as a classic.

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The Red Shoes

A true measure of a great film is that you love it despite its subject matter and not because of it. I have never been to a ballet, I have no particular desire to go to see a ballet and yet I not only love The Red Shoes but actually believe it is one of the best films ever made. Orson Welles commented many times on how he learnt to make movies by watching Stagecoach, not a bad schooling! There are a lot of filmmakers around these days who could learn a lot from The Red Shoes. Although not the same connection, Martin Scorsese who seems to learn from everything he sees ranks it among his favourite films (check out the spiral staircase scene in Shutter Island, if that isn‘t a homage I don‘t know what is!). Scorsese was also a personal friend of Michael Powell and introduced him to his (third) wife Thelma Schoonmaker (yes that Thelma Schoonmaker, three time Oscar winner Thelma Schoonmaker).

I remember discussing Michael Powell when I was a student, the people I was talking with couldn’t understand how the director responsible for Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948) went on to make the controversial Peeping Tom (1960). They looked at me as if I had three heads when I tried to explain that Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes are far darker and more disturbing films than Peeping Tom. I digress let’s get on with a brief synopsis: Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) is a Svengali like ballet producer and impresario. Following a performance he hires a new ballerina Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) and student who wants to be a composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring). When the prima ballerina quits to get married it presents an opportunity for both Vicky and Julian. After their first ballet is a hit Vicky and Julian fall in love, this puts them on a collision course with Lermontov. There is no way this can end well.Written and directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger and shot by legendry cinematographer Jack Cardiff, to call it beautiful would be a huge understatement. It is during the twenty minute dance/fantasy at the heart of the movie that the visual style comes into its own, it is nothing short of stunning. Joan of Arc (1948) is a well shot movie but the fact Cardiff didn’t win (he wasn‘t even nominated) an Oscar is virtually criminal; he had won one the year before for Black Narcissus. The story is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name, the geniuses of its construction is the way the same fairy tale is the subject of the ballet at the centre of the movie without feeling contrived. This plot is very simple on the surface but is multilayered and brimming with subtle (and not so subtle) symbolism.

The reason it works and has appeal beyond any genre you want to pigeonhole it into is that it isn’t about dance or music, it is about people. People, their relationships, their faults, foibles and their insecurities. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of the characters aren’t particularly likeable, if anything it actually makes their journey more interesting. To make this work is a perfect symbiosis of acting and direction helped by sublime casting. Marius Goring plays the mercurial Julian Craster brilliantly. Anton Walbrook’s Boris Lermontov cement that holds the movie together but it is the casting of Moira Shearer that is so important. Vicky Page is the heart of the story when casting the directors were looking for a ballerina who could act and not an actress who could dance. Originally reluctant to take the part, who would have thought Moira Shearer’s performance would be so good and surprisingly nuanced. Starting with the characters at arms length and moving closer to them as the story unfolds gives a feeling of getting to know them.

Made in 1948 during the austere post war years the bold use of colour elevates the visuals at a time when most other British movies were still black and white. I love black and white but this movie needs to be colour. Shot with the Three Strip Technicolor process that had been around for years but only perfected in the 40’s the visuals and the contrast are amazing and put many modern movies to shame, it is considered by some to be the finest example of the Technicolor process thanks in no small part to Cardiff who threw the rule book out and did it his way. There is nothing wrong with directors like Baz Luhrmann but there isn’t a great deal they do now visually that this movie hadn’t already done over sixty years ago. A brief technical note, the film recently underwent a complete restoration using the original negatives, the result of fundraising by Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker. If you haven’t seen the movie recently check out a DVD or blu-ray copy or even better if you are lucky enough, I believe there are a few 35mm prints kicking around although they haven’t reached a cinema near me yet. It is a visual treat you won’t forget in a hurry.

Strangely not that well known, a bit like the works of Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman there are many people who are aware of it but haven’t seen it. To put it in prospective how much this film is under appreciated, despite a rating of over 8 out of 10 on IMDB it doesn’t make it to their top 250. It losses out with their formula as it has received less than 8,000 votes. To put this into prospective Toy Story 3 received more than 25,000 votes within two weeks of its American release and top rated The Shawshank Redemption (1994) has nearly half a million votes.

So if you haven’t seen this masterpiece go and rent the DVD but don’t take my word for it Phil On Film selected it as one of his desert island picks. Meaning if he only had eight films to wtch over and over again for the forseable future this would be one of them. This is that he had to say about it:

“Now more than ever, this is an essential picture. Seeing the breathtaking new restoration was one of my cinema highlights of 2009, and the spellbinding new Blu Ray disc is an utter dream. Jack Cardiff’s cinematography is the finest use of Technicolor imaginable, and the imagination displayed in Powell and Pressburger’s direction of this ballet melodrama never ceases to amaze. The whole film is wonderful, but I’d be happy just to have that extraordinary central dance sequence, which is unquestionably one of the greatest artistic achievements in the history of cinema. A truly extraordinary work of art.”

And finally hanks to the Mad Hatter from The Dark of the Matinee whose mention of this movie a few months ago reminded me that I hadn’t seen it for over a decade.  By the way I still haven’t seen the other Red Shoes yet.

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I was recently a guest on the (LAMMY award winning) podcast “The Matineecast”. For those of you who haven’t listened to The Matineecast (WHY NOT?) it’s hosted by The Mad Hatter who is also the brains behind the movie blog “The Dark of the Matinee”. Early on in the show he always does a segment entitled “Know Your Enemy” in which he asks a series of questions. One of them is “what is a Classic or essential movie you have never seen?” That was an easy question for me to answer, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Released the year I was born and winner of five Oscars, it is a really significant movie. The Oscars were all big ones, it was actually the first movie since Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) to sweep the major categories: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Milos Forman), Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman). It also picked up nominations for Original Music Score, Cinematography, Film Editing and Supporting Actor (Brad Dourif). It went on to go one better at the BAFTA’s adding a Supporting Actor win for Dourif as well as the big five again. It was a huge financial success making around twenty five times it $4.5million budget in the domestic American market alone. It was also a hit in the late 70’s early 80’s on the fast growing VHS rental market. To put it simply we are talking about a pretty major movie in cinema history that I had never seen.

So why had I never seen it? By the mid 90’s I had already developed an obsession with movies and had seen a lot of classic movies, if you had asked me at the time I would probably have said The Godfather Part II was my favourite movie. It was around this time I became aware of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Jack Nicholson was a big star, even kids at school who weren’t into movies knew him as The Joker from Batman (1989) (back then who would have thought his performance would be surpassed by another actor playing the Joker two decades later!), a big fan on Chinatown (1974) I had just seen its belated sequel The Two Jakes(1990), I had seen Easy Rider many times (and had an American flag on the back of my leather jacket inspired by Peter Fonda’s character). Anyway I digress I think it must have been a late night season of Nicholson movies on at the time as I had also seen Five Easy Pieces around the same time. So one night I had been out with some friends came home just in time to set the VCR recording before going to bed. A few days later I came to watch the movie only to find it recorded over. At the time I blamed my brother or my parents for the terrible transgression, I truth looking back they probably didn’t even know I had recorded it!

Not one to worry about these things I knew it would be on again soon. It wasn’t the next time it was due to be on years later it was bumped from the schedule, I think somebody died and they put a movie on as a tribute. And then it must have just faded from memory until last month knowing I was going to be asked the question by Hatter I thought I would make a list of the big movies I have never seen, the movies that seem to come up when he asks other people seem to be epic classics that people find daunting like Gone with the Wind or some of the David Lean movies, I have seen all of them! So I went to IMDB and decided I would go with the highest placed movie on their top 250 that I had never seen. I have seen approximately 95% of the 250 but standing out at number 8 with an average rating of 8.8 from over 200,000 votes was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Seeing it there all my memories of failed attempts to watch it came flooding back and I decided I would make no effort to watch it but would come up on TV one day. So when Hatter told me how great it was and I was in for a treat I said something like I would catch it on DVD sooner or later. Then a strange thing happened, I must have put it in my Love Film (a UK website like Netflix) queue sometime in the past and forgotten it. As one day last week it dropped through my letterbox, so between world cup football matches I have just gotten around to watching it. But was it any good? Simply put it was fantastic.

Assuming I am not the last person in the world to see the movie here is a brief synopsis: R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) isn’t the most stable person and he has a few issues but he clearly isn’t crazy. In an attempt to avoid hard labour in prison he pretends to be crazy and gets transferred to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. Spending his days playing cards or Basketball and pretending to take his medication, he fits into his new environment surprisingly (and frighteningly) well. Although often disruptive he soon has a positive effect on some of the other patients who have been living under the cloud of Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), a tyrant who rules the ward through fear and humiliation.

Nicholson is truly brilliant giving one of his best ever performances but to dismiss it as a one man movie would be to underestimate the depth of the movie. The supporting cast includes Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli and Brad Dourif as well as Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched who is mesmerising in a part turned down by every big name in Hollywood. Interestingly the movie is driven by both character and at times plot making it totally engrossing and immersive. I was amazed to discover it is nearly a two and a quarter hours long, it felt like an hour and a half! As the narrative unfolds, you kind of know where it’s going and how it will end up but this really doesn’t matter. When it comes the end is perfectly handled being both heartbreaking and uplifting at the sme time.

If I were to be asked the same question again now the next highest ranked movie on the IMDB 250 that I haven’t seen is WALL•E (2008) at no. 46, but a more significant movie I haven seen would be E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) I have to say I am in no rush to see either.

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