Demolition Man (1993) Film Review

John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is cop in a horrific, violent, dystopian future, whose methods are so intense that, in capturing the terrorist Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), they end up sharing a punishment. Being put in suspended animation. Skip to several decades later, all crime has been eliminated and the police exist only for show. So when Phoenix escapes, the only way the useless police (including Benjamin Bratt and, my fav, Sandra Bullock) can deal with him is to unfreeze John Sparton. It’s a fish out of water story, it’s fabulous, I love it so much, and I really want to know exactly what the three seashells do.

Crash (2004) Film Review


A whole bunch of people of a variety of different nationalities are living their lives, going about things as they do. But then someone is racist toward them, or they are racist toward someone else, it’s just racism and racism and racism. And, I think, the point is that everyone can be racist, and no-one likes it when someone is racist toward them.

Okay, way over simplified, but there are a lot of stories, and some of them are really awful (actually, most of them are really awful in some way or another). And by awful, I mean tragic, not cheesy and bad. But since it won the Oscar, there has been a lot of backlash for it being an over-simplification of the issue of race. I don’t know, I just think that it is not a great film. It’s got far too much going on, it has all of these events addressed on a really shallow level, and surely what we want from a film about race and racism is some depth? And then there is the soundtrack… continual, overbearing, and very annoying. And it gave the sense for a very long time of the film ending, but then it never ended. At least, it felt like it never ended. Possibly, with better editing and the soundtrack removed altogether, it could have been an okay film. Maybe. The soundtrack just made me really, really angry.

Crash won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco) and Best Achievement in Film Editing, and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Matt Dillon), Best Achievement in Directing (Paul Haggis) and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (In the Deep).


The Net (1995) Film Review

The net

Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) is a computer programmer who works from home, and lives an extremely solitary life apart from visiting her mother, who is in a home with Alzheimer’s. Her only contact is with delivery men and online with other computer geeks in a chat room. So when she is sent a mysterious disk just before going on holiday, by a colleague who, shortly afterwards dies in a plane crash, she doesn’t realise the importance of it. After a series of events, her identity is wiped and she is on the run, trying to fight to get her life back.

I love it. It is quite amazing to see a film with the technology of 1995 playing with ideas of identity theft still very much in play these days. The one thing which is just does not ring true is the speed of the internet connections – I barely get that now, and when the mobile phones are the size of about twenty iPhones glued together, fast internet just does not ring true.

The Heat (2013) Film Review

The Heat

Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is an extremely good but arrogant and unpopular FBI agent. She plays by the rules, doesn’t swear and gets cases closed. She is sent away to work on a case and comes across Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) a cop who is pretty much the opposite; slobby, foul-mouthed and flouts the rules. Yet, she too gets the job done, and she too is unpopular in her workplace. They start with a hate-hate relationship that quickly turns into a working partnership.

It’s ridiculous and stupid, and there is very little base in reality for pretty much anything that happens in the film. But I still loved it. Thank goodness Sandra Bullock still has some comedy to play, because when she stops that, I’ll miss her a lot. (Hopefully she will continue with these roles alongside the Gravity-type serious stuff) Heat 2 is apparently in the making, and I expect I’ll enjoy it, but I really look forward to seeing Melissa McCarthy doing some less over-the-top crazy roles. She’s very good at them, but I’d like to see something different.

Miss Congeniality 2 : Armed and Fabulous (2005) Film Review

Miss Congeniality Two

After her successful mission in Miss Congeniality and the ensuing publicity , Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is having a tough time working as an FBI agent as she is constantly recognized. On top of this, her relationship with her colleague ends unexpectedly and she is bereft. When the opportunity comes to become the face of the FBI in a publicity campaign, along with a book, an entourage and appearances on every television chat show across the land. Then, Miss America (Heather Burns) and Stan Fields, the host of the awards (William Shatner) are kidnapped and she ends up back in action with her new, angry FBI agent bodyguard Sam Fuller (Regina King).

This is exactly the sequel it needed to be. It had all of the humour of the first, and ridiculous costumes and slapstick and the lot. Plus add in Nick Offerman and Abraham Benrubi and you have a good, cheesy ridiculous film that many people would consider a waste of a few hours of your life, but that I just loved. To bits.

Gravity (2013) Film Review



Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first trip into space, mid-way through a spacewalk where she is investigating some issues with a computer system thingy, when disaster strikes. Insurmountable damage occurs to their shuttle, leaving Stone and Kowalski (George Clooney) the only two survivors, trying to find a way back to Earth.

It’s tense from the word go.

As someone who can find herself connecting to characters and really living the experience, the feeling of hopelessness, of being out of control and being in such a totally surreal environment was close to overwhelming. There were certainly aspects of the film that were clearly about manipulating the audience reaction, but I had no issue with that at all. I just wanted them to be home, safe.

The one thing I found it very difficult to get past was Sandra Bullocks zero-gravity-defying hair.

If you are wondering about what life is like in space (and see some pretty awesome hair), there are some amazing clips from the ISS from previous resident Commander Hadfield and more recently, Commander Suni Williams. Once I allowed myself to let go of the hair issue, I really enjoyed the film. It’s crucial that the film is seen in the cinema and in 3D – I think if you did not have the whole experience, it would be just an average suspense, only in space.

Miss Congeniality (2000) Film Review


Ah, 2000. Back to the days when there could be a hilarious comedy about a bomb at the most patriotic of events, the Miss United States pageant. And that when everything seemed mostly wrapped up, the FBI could move out, ignoring any continuing threat. I wonder how a film like this would work post 9/11?

Sandra Bullock is at her comic best playing Gracie Hart, an extremely unfeminine FBI agent with no manners and no grace at all. But when a mysterious terrorist called The Citizen seems to be targeting a beauty pageant, the FBI need an agent on the ground. With the assistance of pageant expert Victor Melling (Michael Caine), Gracie gains some Grace and the hearts not only of the nation, but also of fellow FBI agent Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt). Oops, may have been a bit of a spoiler, but it’s thirteen years old. Surely a spoiler at this stage is reasonable – unlike all of those people who live Facebook-statused Offspring two weeks ago and did a spoiler alert after only minutes. Booo.

Miss Congeniality is a great film. Funny, a top cast and a ridiculous plot. Yes, there is a bit of political incorrectness, and there are certainly flaws, but generally it is a very enjoyable experience. Plus Candice Bergen is in it. And William Shatner. Love it – two reviews in a row with William Shatner. Lovely.

The Lake House (2006) Film Review


Doctor Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock)moves into the lake house – a beautiful house with a tree in the middle that is on stilts on a lake. So does architect Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves). Only the kicker is that he is living there two years before her. There is a weird time-travelling letterbox that allows them to communicate and, of course, fall in love.  But the path of love does not go smoothly.

It’s a pretty appalling film. The concept almost works, although there are several scenes where the two characters are sitting and having a conversation in the same place but in different times, and I don’t see how that would work. Far too many drives to that darned letterbox, methinks. Keanu Reeves is not good as a romantic lead. It seemed to me that he was trying too hard to be a damaged man (although damaged by what? That wasn’t clear to me). Give him some explosions, a gun, something to run towards or away from and let him do some kicking and punching. That’s what he is awesome at. I loved Sandra Bullock in this, but I love Sandra Bullock in almost anything – well, anything romantic and anything comic.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) Film Review


This review originally appeared on in March 2012.

Jonathan Safran Foer is one of my favourite authors. His two fictions Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are two of my favourite ever books. I love the humour and absurdity and heart of his writing. At the cinema recently, I saw the trailer for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close  and my heart sank. It looked awful. The problem is the marketing.

This is not a film about September 11.

But this is how it is being marketed, and I think that’s really wrong. Yes, (spoiler alert) the father died in one of the towers. This film is not about that – it’s about his son and how he deals (and cannot deal) with his grief. This is why I cried for two hours watching it.

At first, I was not happy with the choice of Thomas Horn as Oskar – he just wasn’t my Oskar, my little, nervous, weird, precocious Oskar. Plus he seems more like eleven or twelve than nine. As the film went on, he grew on me, and apart from a couple of overly schmaltzy, emotional moments, he was great. Especially the way he wields that tambourine! The casting of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock was a mistake, I reckon. I mean, they are both so recognisable that it is hard to see them as anything other than who they are, and I found it hard to separate that. Mind you, they both made me cry, so I guess they had their acting chops on.

I wonder if the reviewers who are hating this film have read the book.

I wonder if it is my absolute love of this book that has lead me to love the film – I don’t need to try to understand it. I’ve been through all the disbelief and incredulousness as I read (how can anyone let a nine-year-old wander around New York on his own like that?) and was able to just enjoy the ride. This is a clear example of when a trailer ruins a film; don’t watch the trailer. And when you see this film, take lots of tissues.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Max Von Sydow)