Clash of the Titans (1981)

The recent Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans films in the early part of the decade didn’t hold the sense of wonder that the 1981 original had. This despite the recent films being action, visual effects spectaculars and the 1981 film being somewhat smaller in scale.

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At Eternity's Gate (2018)

In At Eternity’s Gate (2018), artist Vincent Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) wants to follow his instincts and ‘follow the light’.

It’s a noble quest that seeks beauty in the world. The mild mannered Van Gogh goes to Arles, in the South of France (a lovely place!), on the suggestion of a fellow artist, the intense Gaugin (Oscar Isaac).

In the south of France, and with scant resources, it seems his clothes and painting utensils are his only possessions. He can’t afford the rent but has an understanding landlady.

Determined, obsessive painters, like Van Gogh, will obtain their ‘revelation’ of beauty in the world, no matter what it costs.

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Eerie music, saturated dunes, dusty desert plains, and restless primates mark the opening of the ethereal 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) a science fiction film from director Stanley Kubrick who wrote the screenplay with sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke, based on Clarke’s book.

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Little Dorrit (1987)

Little Dorrit (1987) is very long. The production design is mostly indoors, and the costumes are from the 1800’s, and it only has the occasional flare for cinema. The dialogue and interactions may be sophisticated and require one’s full concentration, but impressive is the scale of the storytelling, based on Charles Dickens apparently satirical novel about being rich and poor in Victorian society.

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Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

I was in the mood for something light and I was reminded of the trailer of the Pokemon movie which was quite a bit of fun. So I watched the actual feature film. I’m aware that Pokemon is a video game but I know nothing about it. I relied on the film I saw, Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019) (which seems to be an adaptation of the game) for more information. It did fill me in with this and that, but most interestingly every human in Rhyme City has a Pokemon, maybe like how people have pets. Followers of the game will no doubt get more out of the film which does go into more detail on Pokemon lore. I went into the movie as your average moviegoer who wanted something light and fun. And in this it delivers.

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Airplane! (1980)

This was the movie that started a trend: the slapstick, nonsensical spoof of disaster movies of the 70s. Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker wrote and directed this landmark comedy treat in 1980 and more of the same came from their stables (1984’s Top Secret, which starred Val Kilmer, is one such film I remember well – but was somewhat disappointing compared to the standard of Airplane’s lunacy).

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The Breakfast Club (1985)

A Saturday High School detention brings students together with different reasons for being there, in the infectious comedy The Breakfast Club (1985).

The students are played by Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, who were all recognizable Hollywood names in the 1980’s, with this film landing many of them into the limelight.

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The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple (1985; Warnings–profanity, domesticated violence) is based on Alice Walker’s diary-formatted novel—which I used to own as a kind of sentimental attachment to the movie, although I read less of it than I would have liked—about life for African Americans during the early 1900s in the American South.

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A Soldier’s Story (1984)

The events around the murder of Sergeant Waters (Adolph Caesar), in a Louisiana military training unit, circa 1944–in the film drama A Soldier’s Story (1984)–unfolds in interviews and conversations and dramatized in flashback. The murder victim becomes a clear-as-crystal character, a boozy, spit and polish, good hearted sergeant, and his demeaning attitude towards his ‘brothers’ in the unit was perhaps a motive for murder.

Captain Davenport (Howard E. Rollins, Jr.) is assigned by Washington D.C to find out who killed the sergeant, but the white folk of the town may not accept an African American captain investigating the shooting of a black man. The captain may be biased, but the self-confident Davenport says he is about the facts. He’s fair, even if the racist attitudes of the community may be cause for a white man to have done it.

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A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

The first shot in A Streetcar Named Desire of the exterior of a two-storey house, where most of the action takes place in the two-hour length of the film, underscores the psychological conflicts of the characters and the intensity of their relationships. The house is claustrophobic, and this accentuates how the characters explode (read: Brando) or implode (Leigh, Hunter, and Malden) emotionally.

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The Aviator (2004)

Following the strong Gangs of New York (2002), Director Martin Scorsese takes on another ambitious, heavily-budgeted epic, with The Aviator (2004), a classy, sumptuous and somewhat intimate bio-pic of movie mogul and entrepreneurial billionaire Howard Hughes, who was making films and inventing commercial aircraft during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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Superman (1978)

For me, the most resonant parts of Superman (1978) come in the profound prologue and a stunning dual performance from Christopher Reeve as Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent and his alter-ego Superman. Can’t forget John Williams’ music, either.

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Atonement (2007)

Oscar better sit up and take notice of this powerful, moving, beautifully captured adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel about the repercussions of a 13-year-old girl’s jealous action leading to the downfall of two people in love (played by James McAvoy and Keira Knightley).

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Are We There Yet? (2005)

Director Brain Levant is a veteran of family movies having helmed forgettable flicks The Flintstones and Problem Child 2, among others, during the 1990s. His last movie was Snow Dogs which is only significant because of what it reveals about its star Cuba Gooding Jr’s flagging career since impressing in Jerry Maguire. In Levant’s latest, Are We There Yet?, divorce and fatherlessness is sentimentalised. It focuses on what divorce does to young children (perhaps including, in exaggerated terms, their temperaments!) and the importance of a father figure in their lives.

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The Ant Bully (2006)

The Ant Bully (G) is an animated adaptation of the John Nickle book about Lucas, a young boy picked on by the bigger guy.

But Lucas picks on an ant colony in his family’s garden. (The logic of the connection sits better as a thematic device than storytelling). The family are going away while he’s left at home with alien obsessed grandma.

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Jackie (2016)

President of the United States John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, in Dallas, Texas. The traumatic event and the aftermath are recreated through the eyes of Kennedy’s wife, Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman). Jackie (2016) is buoyed by Natalie Portman’s portrayal complimented by strong male support.

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Anger Management (2003)

In Anger Management (2003) box office drawcard Adam Sandler plays Dave Buznik, a designer of cat apparel, who continually loses out on a job promotion to a guy who is creatively his junior. While travelling via plane he is apprehended for assaulting an airline hostess, although he denies it, and sent to 30 days of anger management therapy. His therapist is played by Jack Nicholson. Enough said. Remember The Shining? Or Batman? 

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