Monday, 1 February 2010


“Why should people go out and pay money to see bad films when they can stay home and see bad television for nothing?” - Samuel Goldwyn

Several brief movie reviews today, as over the last holiday break we watched quite a few good movies (and some bad ones!).
“Adam’s Rib” (1949 – directed by George Cukor)
This is a light-weight comedy with that wonderful couple, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. They play a pair of barristers married to one another, and who cross swords in the courtroom. She defends a woman who attempts to shoot her philandering husband and he is the lawyer wanting to convict the near murderess. Needless to say that the legal sparring in the courtroom interferes with the happily married couple’s life at home and fundamental issues about women’s rights, unfaithfulness, upholding the law, separating public and private life, keeping job and home well apart, are explored. This is a cheeky, funny film with lots of fun moments and the Tracy/Hepburn pairing sparkles and shines with the love between them manifest clearly even on the celluloid! (7.5/10)

“Escape from Alcatraz” (1979 – directed by Don Siegel)
Clint Eastwood plays a prisoner with high IQ who is transferred to Alcatraz – that most impregnable of penitentiaries with a clear record regarding escapees, until this case – or so the film wants us to believe. The film is a typical dick flick where macho men do their thing but at the same time reveal their sensitivities and are capable of also demonstrating higher values such as friendship, loyalty, camaraderie and protecting one another from aggressors. The film is very enjoyable as it is fast-moving, develops the characters very well, has its touches of humour and pathos, and is characterised by excellent acting. Eastwood in particular gives a faultless performance and his handling of the role predicts the fantastic work he does now in directing. (7.5/10).

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” (2009 – directed by P. J. Hogan)
This movie based on Sophie Kinsella’s best selling novels “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and “Shopaholic in Manhattan” and seeing that we watched the movie with someone who has read both novels, the film is apparently sadly deficient in the humour and satire that the books display. I must admit that this film didn’t strike me as overly amusing or satirical, but rather prosaically formulaic and it definitely falls into the chick flick class, with hardly much class. Isla Fisher plays a young woman with an irresistible urge to shop (on bad credit) until she drops. Through some dithery job application business she manages to get herself employed by a financial magazine rather than the fashion magazine she hopes to be employed by. More shopping mayhem results and also some unintended success with writing for the magazine. A romantic story is inevitably woven into the story, with parting and despair followed by the inevitable happy ending. Pedestrian and contrived (5/10).

“The Fly” (1986 – Directed by David Kronenberg)
OK, this is a standard issue horror/sci fi movie with quite an intelligent plot, lots of thrills and spills and lots of revolting (but good) special effects (the film got an Oscar for best make-up and a Saturn award for best horror film). Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist who is trying to perfect a teleportation machine. He uses himself as a guinea pig and manages to mix his tissue with the tissues of a fly that by chance flies into the teleport chambers during the experiment. He slowly transforms into a man/fly creature with horrible consequences. Geena Davis plays the love interest and has one of the worse scenes on film to act through! So bad it’s good (6.5/10)!

“The Fly II” (1989 – Directed by Chris Wallas)
This is the “Son of The Fly” literally, as it deals with the son of the scientist in the previous film, who has inherited his father’s fly/human chromosomes. OK, as far as sequels go this is an attempt to capitalise on the success of the original film, and as most sequels go, it manages to take the story that little bit further and lowers the bar somewhat. Although it’s an inferior film to the original, it is not all trash, and we found it curiously engaging. The yukky special effects are there again and the depth of the movie comes from its exploration of the issue of “fatherhood”. Just don’t watch it on the same day as the original film (5.5/10).

“The Missionary” (1982 – Directed by Richard Loncraine)
This is a typical English refined and subtle comedy written by Michael Palin, who also stars as the Missionary of the title. There are hardly any similarities to the Monty Python movies, despite Palin’s associations. The humour here is subtle, gentle, sometimes covert and dry and there is great characterisation, with hardly any action. The plot takes place in Edwardian London, in 1905. After 10 years of being a missionary in Africa, the Reverend Charles Fortesque (Palin) is recalled to England, where his bishop gives him his new assignment. He is to minister to London’s prostitutes. Charles hopes Deborah, his fiancée, will object and give him an excuse to say no to the bishop, however, she is so imperturbably innocent that she totally fails to understand what he is being asked to do, and urges him to do his best. Wealthy Lady Ames is expected to fund the work, but she makes it clear to Charles that there will be no contribution unless he shares her bed… (7/10).


  1. Hello Nic, my comments about the movies you talk about:

    Adam's rib: Great film, loved it! 9/10
    Escape from Alcatraz: Haven't seen it, will watch it.
    Confessions of a shopaholic: Very funny, enjoyed it. 9/10
    The Fly: Scary! 8/10
    The Fly II: Haven't seen it.
    The missoinary: Haven't seen it.

    Thanks for the reviews!

  2. Some great suggestions there Nicholas. I loved "Adam's Rib" when I watched it several years ago. "Escape from Alcatraz" was great too.
    I haven't seen the others.

  3. Don't leave Judy Holliday out of Adam's Rib - she wore the hat that turned the tide.
    My favourite Hepburn/Tracy is The Desk Set, written by You've Got Mail-Nora Ephron's parents, and about an office being computerised. It is truly delicious in every way and very feminist.

  4. escape from alcatraz is my favorite one on your list
    seen both fly movies
    the fly (original) was fantastic