Hercules (US, 1997)

Great Gerald Scarfe design and the James Woods charactersation (wonderful blue flame for hair) is fabulous. But, of course, this is Disney world where the American Dream of going the distance, being yourself, love conquers all etc. etc. reigns. Excuse the gag reflex. (DVD, 2). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119282/

The 40 Year-Old Virgin (US, 2005)

Over-long romantic comedy that’s worth a look. Interesting for the number of minor characters who are non-WASP; is Hollywood at last showing America as the immigrant culture it is? However it insists on jive-talking African-Americans so it’s not moving forward on that. (DVD). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405422/

Melinda and Melinda (US, 2004)

Interesting idea: run a similar narrative twice, one tragic the other comic. Doesn’t quite come off but there’s some classic Allen lines (Ferrell’s in the ‘Allen’ role) and certainly worth a look. Maybe Allen should try to make one of the those comedies he did in the ’70s again. (OAR). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0378947/

And Your Mother Too (Mexico, 2001)

A truly great film; gets better each viewing. In fact, the film demands more than one viewing; and it’s great on the first watch. There are not many films that combine the raunch (actual not Hollywood) of the teen movie with the existential element of the road movie and add a big dash of politics using a Godardian voice over. Put you off? It shouldn’t. The astonishing visual style, loads of handheld long takes show off the fantastic performances and wonderful landscape. (DVD, 3) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245574/

Team America: World Police (US, 2004)

A bad film; though the vomit sequence is very funny. Satire can be great; this movie takes the piss out of both hawks and doves. However, it’s the hawks that win (or is that part of the Hollywood parody?). Where’s Bush? A bit faint-hearted not to include the leader of the war of terror. One of those films I wonder why I get to the end. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372588/

Dune (US, 1984)

The poor script, written by David Lynch, is the prime reason for this film’s failure. Great set design (only MacLachlan’s ’80 hair looks wrong) and costume and some wonderfully grotesque Lynchian moments. (DVD, 2) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087182/

Batman Begins (US, 2005)

I didn’t like this much in the cinema, but then it was on the IMAX screen and IMAX-sized. Possible the frenetic editing is too much to take in on that size screen. On the telly, however, it’s easier and I found the film much more enjoyable. Mostly for the imagery; wasn’t quite convinced by the ‘fear’ business. (Cable viewing – Cv). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372784/

The Seventh Seal (Sweden, 1957)

Ingmar Bergman seems to be out of fashion but he was pre-eminent in the establishment of arthouse cinema during the 1950s and helped loosen the shackles of Hollywood’s Production Code. My memory of this was of a portentous and gloomy and good film. Watching again I’m struck by the warmth and humour! Memory faulty or Bergman’s serious reputation getting in the way? It is a serious film, a medieval knight jousting with death; beautifully composed mise en scene. (DVD, 2)

A Very Long Engagement (France, 2004)

A detective-romance-war film; interesting combination. The detective plot defeated me but the other two offer the required emotions: gooeyness and horror. Most impressive are the visuals; some extraordinary shots that are seen only fleetingly (the squall when the farmer has to enlist and at the graveyard for Somme victims are two that stand out). Don’t worry too much about the plot, it’s a romance after all, and revel in the look. (OAR). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0344510/

Talk to Her (Spain, 2002)

Is Almodovar the most popular arthouse director in the west? I’ve found this and Bad Education (2004) a disappointment and I’m not sure why. I enjoy daring cinema particularly with a sense of humour. Talk to Her delivers both but I guess I’m bored with the Almodovar formula. Nevertheless if you haven’t seen it do so. (DVD, 2). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0287467/