Juamanji: The Next Level (2019) Film Review

One thing leads to another and several of the original crew end up back in the game – although not exactly the same group. But the world has changed, there are desserts and angry ostriches, a different bad guy and a whole heap of different fun.

My big issue with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was the lack of women and the way the few females in the film were represented… while this is still extremely male heavy, a few things have improved. We’ve got Awkwafina, which is delightful, she’s marvellous. Then a few of the sense with the women are a bit better. I mean, there’s still a long way to go, and there’s a huge setup for a sequel at the end. Maybe they could get a few women on the writing team… maybe even just one?

L.A. Confidential (1997) Film Review


The LA Police Department is crooked – beating confessions from the criminals, setting them up, being on the take – and they’ve been getting away with it for a long time. Then along comes clean-cut, glasses wearing Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), a man who is going to do things by the book. Then there is Bud White (Russell Crowe), a thug of a cop who does what he is told, but has a depth that he only exposes to his girlfriend, high-class prostitute Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger). Several conspiracies start to come to light, exposed by or involving celebrity cop Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), tabloid reporter Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) and the big police boss Dudley Smith (James Cromwell).

Watching this twenty years ago, I didn’t get why it was so loved and so respected. It’s got a lot going on, but I just couldn’t engage. I felt that way about it this time until about half an hour from the end – and then everything seemed to click. Now, a day later, parts are still popping into my mind. I can’t say that I loved the film, but I get it. And there is a lot to like and respect about it – very clever and interesting. Definitely worth it.

L.A. Confidential won Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kim Basinger) and Best Writing, Screenplay based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Curtis Hanson), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Music – Original Dramatic Score.



Twins (1988) Film Review


Julius (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is ‘the perfect man’ – a created by six scientist fathers (and no, I cannot quite figure out how that works scientifically) and a beautiful, artist mother (can we explain away the poor representations of women by it being the eighties, or being a fairly low quality film overall?). What he was never told, raised on a tropical island with a scientist who has him working on some research, was that there was another baby – a twin, with all the leftover bits. Vincent (Danny DeVito), the opposite of Julius; raised in an orphanage, stealing cars, cheating on his girlfriend and owing an awful lot of money. Julius finds Vincent and then they go to find the mother they both believed was dead.

It’s everything you expect it to be. A bit crap, but vaguely funny. Mostly funny. Lots and lots of sight gags – Julius is so big and Vincent is so small! Julius is so naïve and Vincent cons him lots! Oh, so funny! (Well, kind of). There is also a scene at the end where a man (Spoiler Alert!) is thwarted by being hit on the head with a block and tackle type thingy, and then a mega amount of chain falls on him. In this film, it’s kind of funny, but I’ve watched so many violent and awful films recently that all I could think of was what an incredibly horrific death it would be. IMDB has a sequel slated, with Eddie Murphy playing the third brother in a set of triplets. There is no way it can work in the logic of this film, but I really hope they make it work. I would totally pay to see that film.


Romancing The Stone (1984) Film Review


As if following the plot of one the adventure romances she writes, bestselling author Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) heads to Colombia to swap a treasure map sent to her by her now-dead brother-in-law for her kidnapped sister. However, she is misled by an evil military guy and ends up going in the wrong direction. Saved from the baddie by Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas), she enlists his help, and before long, they are searching for the treasure themselves. But with everyone after them, including Danny DeVito (though I must admit, the reason for his character in the film was very much little more than comic relief).

This is such a great eighties’ comedy. It’s very funny through excellent writing and good performances, and gee is it good to see a romance in a film that starts with two characters hating each other that resolves with them both deeply in love – so often, the man is stoical and manly and barely acknowledges his feelings, but Michael Douglas got to play a man in love, with sparkles in his eyes and a smile he could not wipe from his face.

Romancing The Stone was nominated for an Oscar for Best Film Editing.

Get Shorty vs Get Shorty (1995) Film Review, Book Review

Get Shorty cover

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Chili Palmer is a loan shark who is not the lowest on the ladder, but has no ambitions to be up top. After a series of events send him to Hollywood, his interest in the movies leads him to Harry Zimm, a producer of horror films who has had some success, but now is financially having some problems. But Chili’s past is not prepared to let go, and he will need to be alert to prevent his own demise.

It’s a fun read, but you need to be alert to keep all the strands in play; to remember who is doing what and why, and to try to predict what will happen next. Most of the characters are pretty flawed, yet it is only the really bad guys that you don’t like. I’ve not read a lot of Elmore Leonard, but after this I will be seeking more out.


Get Shorty (1995) Film Review

This is one of those films that is pretty much the same as the book, almost scene for scene – and it really works. It captures the story beautifully, and with a slick style that suits Chilli Palmer (John Travolta) to a t. With a cast including Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy Lindo and James Gandolfini and a script that takes the mickey out of Hollywood all the way, how can you go wrong?



One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) Film Review

Cuckoo's Nest 1

McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is a criminal who has been moved to a mental institution. It seems that, perhaps he is not mentally ill, but has faked it to avoid the hard labour of prison time. There, he becomes a part of a group of patients who are seen over by the dominating Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and tries to raise their self-esteem and make their lives better in his own, ultimately flawed manner.

What a classic. You want to believe that the evil Nurse Ratched has her patients’ best interests at heart, yet she seems to be constantly getting the upper hand in power plays against them; most notably Billy. Then, when McMurphy comes along, she is challenged and cannot let things go until she wins. Also, McMurphy is a nasty piece of work; he just wants his own way and to have fun with little consideration of the consequences. But, being a selfish so-and-so obviously doesn’t deserve the treatment he ultimately receives.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Milos Forman) and Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman) and was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Brad Dourif), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score.