6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A - Multiple Viewing Possibilities
B - Deserves Another Look
C - Once Should Suffice


With Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Sally Geeson, Alistair Williamson
Directed by Gordon Hessler
Edgar Allan Poe's tale set in 19th century England has two bothers at its core, one locked away apparently having a contagious disease. He escapes and murder ensues. With voodoo and a whole bunch of underhandedness the horror catches up with those who found themselves at the wrong end of the offended party. With two classic horror actors Price and Lee in the cast, this is an enjoyable little film, which drags a little at times, but delivers a cool payoff.
3 / C
- PB

With George Clooney, John Turturro, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Tim Blake Nelson, Charles Durning, Michael Badalucco
Directed by Joel Coen
The genius of the Coen brothers should never be underestimated. With The Big Lebowski quite a hard act to follow, this film might seem a touch on the slow side. A convict convinces two idiots chained to him in the post WWII South to escape with him to find a treasure. Along the way they encounter a host of crazy characters like the gangster Babyface Nelson, a bluesman who sold his soul to the devil, a KKK con man and more. An election is under way and our three cons record a song at a radio station for quick cash. It becomes a hit without their knowledge. And all along a bounty hunting lawman's on their trail. Exquisite dialogue and wonderful scenes (as always) pack this film tight with a rich blend of intelligent writing and masterful visualisation. In my ignorance I've never read Homer's Odyssey and with this film being based on it, I will now supplement my lacking intellect by catching up on it. This film is sure to have so much more meaning after the fact.
4 / B
- PB

With George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Julia Roberts
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Based on a Ratpack movie with Dino, Frankie and the boys, our hunky cast plots to hit three of the biggest Vegas casinos in one go. There's more behind this plot than mere greed. Clooney's ex is now shacked up with the owner of the casinos, a nasty little man. He puts a team of experts together and the machine is set in motion to pull the biggest Vegas score ever. Our mastermind's surname is Ocean and they comprise of 11 guys - hence the title, as opposed to its appearance as a street address. Peppered with humour, intricate planning, some action and suspense, the only downside is Ms Roberts - unappetizing and overrated, but thankfully with little screen time. Good plot, fun characters and enough technical planning and wit to keep you interested. But, please guys, enough with Vegas already…
4 / B
- PB

With Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Chris Owen, Laura Dern
Directed by Joe Johnston
When the Russians launched the Sputnik everyone believed it would change life as we know it. For Homer it was more true than most. Watching it streak across the night sky one evening with the rest of the coal mining town’s neighbourhood, he decides he wants to build a rocket. With the help of his three friends, the go through many trials an errors to perfect their rocket. With their teacher’s encouragement to enter it into the science fair that could take them to the country finals in Indianapolis, they see new hope to escape from the dead end coal mining fate that awaits them - they could get scholarships for college and make something of themselves. But this is not as easy. Besides financial constraints there are barriers like disdain from jock football players and their principal, but mostly from Homer’s dad. He’s a strict, stubborn man who lives for the coal mine. He’s brave and headstrong, but close-minded. His support for his son’s endeavour is none if any. But his love for his son does filter through at times. It seems like a real classic tale of the drive to escape the small town life and a father who tries to prevent it, expecting his son to follow in his footsteps - surprise is, it’s a true story. October Sky is a triumphant, feel good film that keeps the soppy factor at bay making it a worthwile inspirational viewing experience.
4 / B

- PB

THE OFFSPRING - Complete Music Video Collection
In the early '90s the new more accessible Punk-Rock style took off with a bang. Besides groups like
Green Day, another band that stuck to their sound and convictions is The Offspring. Across their decade+ career Dexter, Noodles and their gang produced many catchy tunes with some kick, and often a sense of humour. It also resulted in many music videos, 17 of which are included here, from Come Out And Play (Keep'Em Separated), Self Esteem, Gotta Get Away, Gone Away, and I Choose, to Pretty Fly (For A White Guy), Why Don't You Get A Job, The Kids Aren't Alright, She's Got Issues, Hit That, and Can't Repeat. Some clips are quite innovative or at least interesting to watch while a few follow the routine path. Bonus features throw in two more videos and 11 energetic live performances. You also get a making-of look, storyboards and commentaries. While they may be a bit too commercial for hardcore Punk fans, they do run a comfortable middle way for a divided crowd that prefer more extreme music and those prone to radio fluff.
5 / B
- PB

With John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Sherilyn Fenn
Directed by Gary Sinise
Sad, classic tale of two migrant working cousins, George and Lenny, with high hopes and aspirations, faced with many up hills, mostly due to the latter’s mentally retarded state. Emotional, moving and also quite hrash and heartless as many of the characters are blunted, cruel and brutal during the hard times. Lenny’s soft kindness unfortunately doesn’t sync up with his large frame and uncontrollable strength that has fatal results. Based on the well-known Steinbeck novella, this is the 3rd film adaptation very competently directed by Sinise who only really came to the public’s attention 2 years later with Forrest Gump.
4 / C

- PB

With Leon Schuster, Alfred Ntombela, Bill Flynn & every other SA TV actor
Directed by Leon Schuster
Oh dear lord, is this the future of SA moviemaking? The transitional shift to video has come with ease master prankster Leon Schuster (but adds to the even more cheap & tacky look as result). Leon cannot help but incorporate over-hammed, sentimental patriotism when it comes to incorporating a narrative in between his hidden camera antics. This is the worst yet, including a Saddam Hussein style renegade dictator (shrunk to a midget from living in a small hide-out for years…?!) who ends up on the plane where our Schuster character Mr. Schucks and his little sidekick are migrating to Australia. The pranks are far too few, the pathetic storyline shockingly bad. As mentioned, if it weren't for the hidden camera jokes (some great, others lame and a few staged), this would be the dud of the year - although it's probably one of highest grossing SA films ever - go figure.
1 / B
- PB


With Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billy Whitelaw
Directed by Richard Donner
My lord the acting can sink to new lows of hamminess! It's embarrassing to watch some of the scenes in this movie. But then suddenly the same person who just did a bad soap stare is good again. I am at odds with myself about this one. You can immediately see that the graveyard is a set. (crap) You can immediately see the decapitation scene took a lot to get it just right. (Very cool!) The scene in the zoo is absolutely satanic. Peck's 'wife' (Lee Remick) is fucking terrible. Whoever told her she can act should be ritually stabbed with Buchenhagen's knives. Little Damien kicks ass and Billie Whitelaw as his babysitter is the best performer of the lot. After all is said the music is absolutely incredible! Director Richard Donner's camera shots are beautiful, with thoughtful yet simple framing.
PS. The woman who hangs herself for Damien is Hollie Palance, daughter of Jack. The special features include the obvious director's commentary and a retrospective featurette incl. interviews with director, composer, editor and writer.
4 / B
Uncle Vinnie

With William Holden, Lee Grant
Directed by Don Taylor
The 2nd installment and the best of the lot. Far superior to
The Omen in terms of acting, chills and storytelling. The film is not as beautifully shot as Donner's, but what it lacks in the pretty dept. it more than compensates with hectic music and incredible ominous atmosphere. Holden has a very strong screen presence, as usual. Compared to the downbeat Peck he is an acting Ferrari. The crows take the place the Rotweiler filled in the first movie and I daresay they are more freaky than the mutts.
PS. Beware of the elevator scene!
5 / B
Uncle Vinnie

With Sam Neil, Rossano Brazzi, Don Gordon, Lisa harrow
Directed by Graham Baker
The worst of the trilogy. A terrible, typical 80's devil movie. Even the music sucks in this one. The series should have ended with part 2. Neil is good when he prays to Satan though. Very sensitively played. But in general it's a load of old crap. If you've never seen it, avoid it. It will spoil the brilliance of the 1st two movies forever!
2 / C
- Uncle Vinnie

With Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
One-man movie movement, Robert Rodriguez caps his Mexican trilogy off with this written, produced, filmed, directed and edited ride of violence, deceit and Mariachi music. Banderas reprises his role of the Mariachi turned vigilante, but with a missing story filled in via flashbacks, a military character is brought into the fray, who will justifiably taste his vengeance. There is a coup in the making with a crime boss and El Mariachi's unfinished-business-villain involved. A corrupt CIA agent (Depp) enlists El Mariachi and an ex-FBI agent to make his orchestrated plot fall in place - our gun-slinging guitarist getting the man he's been after and the retired agent getting the criminal who killed his partner. Stylishly shot and choreographed, Rodriguez's utilization of high definition video is hardly noticeable - if entering into it without this knowledge, not many viewers will pick it up. The future is surely here, but it will still take a great deal for the day to break when we find ourselves at the dawn of a total transition from film to video.
3 / B
- PB

With Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans, Ricky Tomlinson, Kathy Burke
Directed by Shane Meadows
Hey! Carlyle, Ifans and Tomlinson were all together recently in
51st State! Fancy that. What starts off as a batty comedy eventually turns serious. A woman turns her awkward boyfriend's wedding proposal down on national TV. She loves him and her daughter is mad about the guy, and he about the both of them. Her ex happened to see the show and after a robbery (which left his partners in the lurch) he heads from Scotland to the Midlands to claim back his family, his ex-partners after him. Even with the drab and depressing gray weather the supporting characters are quite colourful, realistic and nuts. The Western theme is not too blatant, besides the bad guy coming into the small town to take what he wants and the frequent musical references, stand-off situations and country music fan character of Tomlinson. Carlyle does the wise-ass Scot thing while Ifans excels as the bad dress-sense, nerd boyfriend with his souped-up Ford Sierra. A brilliant surprise is seeing British comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer making cameo turns as two of the clowns being robbed.
3 / C
- PB

With Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson
Directed by Sergio Leone
A Fist Full Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good The Bad & The Ugly director Sergio Leone made this classic 'death of the western' by creating a lyrical and passionate homage, bidding farewell to a time, era and genre as only he can. Money and power hungry men operate above the law against the backdrop of the railway revolution opening up the West, which with its progress also bred opportunities for corruption and evil, life being cheap in their eyes. The unlikely blue-eyed nice guy Henry Fonda is great in the villainous role, a cool career move no-one would've expected (although he didn't jump at it, worried about his image at first). Charles Bronson is great as the silent harmonica player who takes on the bad men with a secret agenda. The fine performances, powerful storytelling, incredible pacing, amazing photography and awesome Ennio Morricone soundtrack makes this one of the best Westerns of all time. The double disc contains the film in glorious widescreen (any other format should be avoided at all cost). Unfortunately Leone died many years ago, but commentary tracks are supplied by experts like directors John Carpenter, John Milius and Alex Cox, film historians Sir Christopher Frayling and Dr. Sheldon Hall, as well as cast and crew. It makes for a varied and enlightening glimpse into this classic piece of cinema. The second disc contains a documentary with exclusive interviews from key players like actress Claudia Cardinale, Gabriele Ferzetti, Bernardo Bertulocci and cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli. It also contains archive interviews with Leone and Fonda. Besides the production picture gallery, you also get a fascinating then-&-now look at the locations. Cast profiles and the original trailer are also thrown in.

PS. For those who are tuned in, you'll notice the first name on the end credits, that of the production manager, Mickey Knox - Quentin Tarantino is a Leone fan…
6 / A
- PB

With Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, gary Cole, Erin Daniels
Directed by Mark Romanek
Robin Williams has proven that he can tackle a serious role with just as much precision as a comedic one, especially of late. As he did with
Insomnia opposite Al Pacino, for instance. In One Hour Photo Williams plays Sy, a gray little everyman working at the photo developing station of a supermarket. He takes his work absolutely seriously - seeing as he has not much of a life outside of work. Over the years he started to develop a fixation on a young family who drop their film at his photo booth. We pick up on these characters as this obsession slowly becomes more intense, heading for danger. In stead of turning it into your run of the mill stalking/serial killer thing, the filmmakers look at these subjects with a meticulous eye, Williams' portrayal evoking sympathy without him being a hero. We feel both pity and empathy for him. The cinematography, scene- and shot construction takes on a clinical, unreal yet artistic mood as we're pulled into this dual world of familial bliss and the sorrow of having no-one. By avoiding too much clue planting, the outcome diverts from your expectations.
One Hour Photo is a classy thriller debut from writer-director Romanek (famed music video director), with a more thought provoking theme than your usual dire faire.
5 / B
- PB

With Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon, John Goodman, Paul Reiser, Andrew "Dice" Clay, Michael Douglas
Directed by Harald Zwart
They don't make too many movies where one guy has throng of women in a daze.
Tyler is a scam artist with her scummy boyfriend (a dual role wonderfully played by the Dice Man Andrew Clay) - gaining sympathy after a "fight", they rob the Samaritan's house. A barman (Dillon) is one such sucker, but the two get involved a bit more seriously, to the point where her boyfriend ends up dead and she moves in. He loses his job while she tries her best to turn the run down house into her life long dream home. Besides his infatuation, his lawyer cousin (Reiser) has similar burning desires, as does the cop (Goodman) investigating the shot boyfriend and second body that turns up after the new couple turn to a similar scam as she operated before. The story is told via their three perspectives; Dillon at a Bingo hall to a killer he's hiring to get rid of her, systematically ruining his life, Reiser at a therapist and Goodman to his priest - each perspective seeing the other players from their subjective points of view. Co-producer Michael Douglas delivers a fun role as the hired killer while Liv is pretty hot, but the laughs are few & far. As a bit of getaway entertainment, which is well constructed, this is pretty much acceptable stuff.
3 / B
- PB

With George Lazenby, Diana Rigg
Directed by Peter H. Hunt
After the ever popular Thunderball ('65) a long run as the world's smoothest spy came to an end when Connery hung up his Walther PPK to pursue other acting adventures - to many a fan's dismay, of course. The prospective new Bond ended up being a bit of a bomb when George Lazenby realised the acting thing wasn't for him, least of all in the ill-fitting shoes of special agent 007. His stern, not-as-cool demeanour and the lack of elaborate wild gadgetry distracts from the flavour of how we've grown to love it. But, none the less, it is a Bond film and many aficionados actually praise it as a good installment, calling Lazenby the "romantic Bond", since he falls in love and gets married ! The Avengers' Diana Rigg is certainly one of the high-points inbetween the snow bound chases after Telly Savalas who wants to unleash a deadly virus onto the world.
2 / B
- PB

With Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening
Directed by Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner ventures back to his sure thing of the Western theme. While this is no Dances With Wolves award winner, nor a drawn out spectacle like The Postman, Open Range is a subtle contrast between tranquility and the eruption of violence, personified by the character Costner portrays - a man with a violent past who turned to the simple, quiet life. As part of a quartet of freegrazers, Costner and Robert Duvall square up against a wealthy landowner / rancher (with the sheriff in his pocket) who kills one of their men and leaves another for dead. Bening is the female interest, helping with the wounded men and siding with the freegrazers. With a languid pace and more of an Unforgiven feel than Dances With Wolves, Costner takes the viewer on a steady rise from scenic subtlety to a gritty, tense shoot-out.
4 / B
- PB

With Kevin Spacey, Linda Fiorentino, Peter Mullan, Colin Farrell
Directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan
Spacey and Fiorentino do the Irish accent thang in this pretty funny little flick about a charismatic thief who loves the media attention as much as he loves money. Cool, calm, collected and celebrity thief (Spacey) has the cops in Ireland raving mad. He tries his best to outwit and piss them off (even with a pending courtcase). This is an enjoyable heist/action/comedy with Spacey’s Irish accent not too bad. His gang is portrayed by fine actors, while the cloe microphone re-recorded sound acoustics on Fiorentino’s voice gets annoying at times (she’s still damn tasty, though). The heat gets cranked up when they steal a valuable painting, the cops camp out in front of his house, the IRA think they’re stealing what they want to nab and in-fighting flare up within the gang. The comedy/drama balance is well maintained while its gritty feel hardly comes close to that of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.
3 / B
- PB

With Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
With so many stoppable enemies on our planet, one is sometimes more dangerous than someone armed with a bomb. A virus can infiltrate and destroy at an alarming rate. Spreading like wildfire, they can wipe out entire populations. When a new virus dumps the United States into a crisis, it’s up to Hoffman and his viral expert team to track it, find a vaccine and thus ultimately destroy it. It’s no easy task, though, especially since there seems to be serious opposition from within the military ranks higher up. A tense drama with enough action & excitement to avoid it being a dreary mini-series adapted from a Grisham novel, as well as a good dosage of thought provoking possibilities that a situation like this is not unlikely. Scary.
4 / B

- PB

With Nicole Kidman, Fionulla Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Elaine Cassidy, Eric Sykes
Directed by Alejandro Amenabar
The war is over and a protective mother on an isolated estate in a large, old house lives alone with her young son and daughter, her husband missing in action. The girl claims that she sees a little boy in the house, as well as several other people. Strange sounds and occurrences get creepier, especially after three new servants arrive. The tension steadily builds as the religious mother starts to lose her grasp of the situation. Produced by Kidman's now ex, Tom Cruise, the largely Spanish production definitely has an effect by lending it a Hollywood-free atmosphere. This dark, suspense filled spooky trip may be obvious to some from the outset, but it systematically sucks you into its ghostly bosom with sparse but intense scares outdoing the crap late 90's barrage of teen horror re-hashes.
4 / C
- PB

With Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George
Directed by Clint Eastwood & Philip Kaufmann
Again Clint plays a not quite evil guy who ends up killing. This time it’s not greed, though, but the murder of his friends and family that leads him to murder. This humble farmer becomes a fugitive as a result as the law is on his tail. Set in the post-civil war South, the film was co-directed by Philip Kaufmann and Eastwood. It also stars Sondra Lock, Clint’s wife of many years (until their divorce a couple of year back).
4 / B

- PB


© 2006 Flamedrop Productions