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Lethal Weapon

Potentially forgettable buddy cop pic, elevated by a killer script and live wire performances.

Halliwell says: Extremely violent policier which caters to the Rambo crowd but has enough pizazz to recommend it to most classes.*


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1st Feb 2017

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The Goonies

Seminal kids movie that I underrated in '85. Shot with an easy pace, until the free-swim at the end.

Halliwell says: The bottomless pit of the Spielberg genre, a silly tale which takes forever to get going and is acted by children who have not studied elocution. The trick effects when they come are OK, but it's a long annoying haul to that point.


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22nd Jan 2017

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When Harry Met Sally

Text-book rom-com that rebooted the genre and set the template for the next 3 decades.

Halliwell says: Over a period of 12 years, a couple meet occasionally to debate whether there can be friendship without sex between a man and a woman.***


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26th Dec 2016

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The Magnificent Seven

A classic story and allstar cast, but John Sturges' vintage western seems slow and dated now.

Halliwell says: Popular western based on the Japanese Seven Samurai; good action scenes, but the rest is verbose and often pretentious.**


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2nd Nov 2016

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Magnum Force

It's only episode 2, but it's Dirty-Harry-by-numbers. Luckily those numbers still add up to something.

Halliwell says: Toned-down sequel to Dirty Harry; the violence is still there but the hero no longer commits it.


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18th Sep 2016

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101 Dalmatians

Dated effort from 60s Disney, sacrificing production value for cheap gags.

Halliwell says: Disney's last really splendid feature cartoon, with the old flexible style cleverly modernized and plenty of invention and detail in the story line. The London backgrounds are especially nicely judged.**


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8th May 2016

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Zabriskie Point

Meandering, liberal arthouse pic from 69/70. It must have seemed a lot more topical at the time.

Halliwell says: Highly self-indulgent and unattractive fantasy about escape from the crudities of our over-civilised world. An expensive failure and an awful warning of what happens if you give an arty director carte blanche.


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16th Oct 2015

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The Color of Money

Overlooked gem from Scorsese’s doldrums. Heavy on film school tricks and filled with good turns.

Halliwell says: Slackly told but consistently enjoyable adventures of Fast Eddie Felson in his older age.**


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8th Oct 2015

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Return of the Jedi

Lazy re-hash, adequately directed but saved by outstanding art direction and big set pieces.

Halliwell says: More expensive fantasy for the world's children of all ages, especially the undemanding ones.*


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11th Aug 2015

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The Empire Strikes Back

Classy, emotional, unpredictable sequel. Head and shoulders above the other 5 at every turn.

Halliwell says: More exhilarating interplanetary adventures, as mindless as Star Wars but just as enjoyable for aficionados.**


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10th Aug 2015

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Grease

Out of context this 50s set (70s style) high school musical starring late 20s actors is almost unwatchable.

Halliwell says: Amiable 'period' musical for teenagers: a highly fashionable explotation of the new star John Travolta, its commercialism was undeniable, and it carefully built in appeal to older age groups.**


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7th Aug 2015

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Star Wars

Dated, clunky, clumsily directed nonsense - that still manages to capture the worlds imagination.

Halliwell says: Flash Gordon rides again, but with timing so impeccably right that the movie became a phenomenon and one of the top grossers of all time. In view of the hullabaloo, some disappointment may be felt with the actual experience of watching it... but it's certainly good harmless fun, put together with style and imagination.***


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7th Aug 2015

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Robin Hood

Decidedly lacklustre effort from the doldrums of the 1970s Disney studio. With mis-guided Honky Tonk.

Halliwell says: Alarmingly poor cartoon feature with all the characters 'played' by animals; songs especially dim and treatment quite lifeless.


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1st Jan 2015

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Beauty and the Beast

Despite the praise and success, this Disney entry disappoints with it's design and storytelling.

Halliwell says: A return to top form by Disney, with excellent animation and a singable score. The picture has been credited with starting a new Hollywood fashion for animated musicals.***


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31st Dec 2014

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Sleeping Beauty

Genre-pushing 1950s Disney fairytale, this time in epic widescreen. Tastefully done.

Halliwell says: Rather stodgy, unwisely Cinemascoped feature cartoon of the old legend; very fashionable and detailed, but somehow lifeless.*


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29th Dec 2014

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Peter Pan

Rich, action-packed Disney entry, benefitting from J. M. Barrie's more layered source material.

Halliwell says: Solidly crafted cartoon version of a famous children's play; not Disney's best work, but still miles ahead of the competition.***


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26th Dec 2014

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Cinderella

Disney's flashy re-tread of Snow White, missing some of the charm but pushing forward animation technique.

Halliwell says: A feature cartoon rather short on inspiration, though with all Disney's solid virtues. The mice are lively and the villainous cat the best character.**


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24th Dec 2014

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Genre-defining animation from Disney. Dated in some ways, but still full of style.

Halliwell says: Disney's first feature cartoon, a mammoth enterprise which no one in the business thought would work. The romantic leads were wishy-washy but the splendid songs and the marvellous comic and villainous characters turned the film into a world-wide box office bombshell which is almost as fresh today as when it was made.****


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22nd Dec 2014

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The Fisher King

Erratic, wacky morality tale from Terry Gilliam. Uneven, but elevated hugely by Bridges & Williams.

Halliwell says: Enjoyable more for its director's extravagances than for its attempt at modern myth-making, and finally too diffuse to be taken seriously.**


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12th Aug 2014

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The Lady In The Lake

Glacially paced Raymond Chandler mystery, hampered immensely by the peep show camera style.

Halliwell says: Complex private eye yarn which makes the original Chandler dialogue sound childish by over-reliance on the subjective camera method: we see the hero's face only when he looks in a mirror. An experiment that failed because it was not really understood.*


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8th Aug 2014

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Night Moves

Classy slice of 70s film noir, with a fantastic, effortless script and a star turn from Gene Hackman.

Halliwell says: Apparently a Chandlerish mystery, this is really a Pinterish audience-teaser with obsessions about communication and the meaning of life. A smart-ass entertainment for eager trendies.*


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31st Jul 2014

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Sorcerer

Dull 'existential' 70s remake of tight 50s classic. Friedkin remains one of the most over-rated directors.

Halliwell says: Why anyone should have wanted to spend $20 million on a remake of The Wages Of Fear, do it badly, and give it a misleading title is anybody's guess. The result is dire.


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30th Jul 2014

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Medium Cool

Confident genre-bending 60s cult classic, that's running a little low on plot.

Halliwell says: Stimulating if overlong comment on the quality of life in the sixties, immaculately made and with a rather effective though obvious twist ending.**


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28th Jul 2014

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The Killing Fields

A political powerhouse subject, let down by plodding execution and shapeless direction.

Halliwell says: Brilliantly filmed, but probably too strong for a commercial audience to stomach, this true adventure tosses one into the horror of modern war and leaves one reeling despite its comparatively happy ending.***


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16th May 2014

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The Searchers

Stagey, studio John Wayne western that falls short of its ominous classic reputation.

Halliwell says: Desultory, easy-going, good-looking western in typical Ford style; a bit more solemn than usual.**


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20th Sep 2013

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The Outsiders

The Complete Novel

Despite Coppola's tinkering, this melodramatic 80s classic still stands up well.

Halliwell says: Oddball youth melodrama, a curious choice for a director with big successes behind him.


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13th May 2013

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On the Beach

Atmospheric, somber, slow-burning, post-apocalyptic drama that fails to ignite.

Halliwell says: Gloomy prophecy which works well in spasms but is generally too content to chat rather than imagine. A solid prestige job nevertheless.**


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6th Apr 2013

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American Psycho

Overblown, vacuous satire that is hampered further by Christian Bale's near-slapstick performance.

Halliwell says: A daft, elegant portrait of a self-obsessed, fashionable, design-conscious man descending into psychosis as a result of his obsessions.**


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25th Mar 2013

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The Omega Man

Charlton Heston cruises an empty NYC by day, dodges albino mutants by night. Good start, lacks tension.

Halliwell says: "Realistic" version of a novel which was about vampires taking over, and was previously filmed unsatisfactorily as The Last Man On Earth. This nasty version rises to a few good action sequences but is bogged down by talk in between.*


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24th Mar 2013

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On The Beach

Cary Grant and Ava Gardner wait months for lethal atomic radiation to arrive down under. Apocalypse slow.

Halliwell says: Gloomy prophecy which works well in spasms but is generally too content to chat rather than imagine. A solid prestige job nevertheless.**


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23rd Mar 2013

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Ice Cold In Alex

Classic WW2 desert rats adventure with John Mills dying for a Carlsberg in the Sahara.

Halliwell says: Engrossing desert adventure with plenty of suspense sequences borrowed from The Wages Of Fear; long, but very well presented.**


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10th Mar 2013

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Houdini

Tony Curtis gets a wriggle on in this short, functional, not particularly magical biopic.

Halliwell says: Superficial biopic with more attention to romance than to interesting detail. Some zest in the playing is killed by claustrophobic studio sets.*


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7th Mar 2013

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The Decline of Western Civilization

Essential, but hilariously dated state-of-the-union doc of LA's 80s punk scene.

Halliwell says: Quirky and fascinating study of some of the unlovelier aspects of youthful rebellion; it makes an interesting companion piece to the director's first feature film, Suburbia.*


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28th Feb 2013

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Witness

Brilliantly written and directed thriller that weaves through many classic tropes, plus carpentry.

Halliwell says: As much about the meeting of cultures as about cops and robbers, this is one of those lucky movies which works out well on all counts and shows that there are still craftsmen lurking in Hollywood.***


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28th Feb 2013

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Peggy Sue Got Married

Interesting time travel companion to #BTTF, held back by Coppola's pedestrian direction.

Halliwell says: It plays like and extended Twilight Zone, but with plenty of interesting details to back up and excellent leading performance.**


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15th Feb 2013

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Desperately Seeking Susan

A great story helps carry this career-launching slice of 80s New York cool briskly along.

Halliwell says: Mildly diverting romantic mystery which could have been both funnier and more thrilling.*


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3rd Jan 2013

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The Princess Bride

Witty, totally enjoyable fairy tale romp, with Homeland's Saul sans beard. Modern classic.

Halliwell says: Rather strained fantasy with occasional bright moments.*


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31st Dec 2012

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Foul Play

Chevy almost plays it straight in this late 70s comedy-thriller, while Goldie Hawn does the screwball.

Halliwell says: Sometimes sprightly, sometimes tired rehash of Hitchcock elements, rather on the level of the similar Silver Streak.*


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28th Dec 2012

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It's A Wonderful Life

Inspiring, slow-burning sentimental Christmas classic with vintage waterworks finale. #BTTFII.

Halliwell says: Superbly assembled small-town comedy drama in a fantasy framework; arguably Capra's best and most typical work.****


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26th Dec 2012

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The Final Countdown

Underdeveloped time-travel flick that pits an 80s aircraft carrier against the 40s Japanese.

Halliwell says: Quite an enjoyable bit of schoolboy science fiction, but containing no more body than an episode of Twilight Zone. The ending, as so often, is impenetrable.*


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21st Nov 2012

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Alien Nation

Dated, but not unsuccessful, attempt to mash up buddy-cop and sci-fi tropes.

Halliwell says: What begins as an interestingly oblique look at the problem of racism soon turns into a lacklustre action movie.


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16th Nov 2012

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Double Indemnity

Billy Wilder & Raymond Chandler steer this tightly plotted femme fatale insurance scam noir classic.

Halliwell says: Archetypal film noir of the forties, brilliantly capturing the decayed Los Angeles atmosphere of a Chandler novel but using a simpler story and more substantial characters. The hero/villain was almost a new concept.****


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15th Oct 2012

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Beautifully handled, genre blending western with standout script, acting, direction.

Halliwell says: Humorous, cheerful, poetic, cinematic account of the two semi-legendary outlaws, winningly acted and directed. One of the decade's great commercial successes, not least because of the song 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head'.***


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14th Oct 2012

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Frantic

Harrison F cherchez sa femme in this 87 Paris thriller. Lots of Grace Jones in les clubs as une hipster helps.

Halliwell says: Amiable thriller with Hitchcockian touches, quite untypical of this director.*


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14th Jul 2012

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Alien

Tense, timeless sci-fi. Magnificently designed and executed and only mildly showing its 33 years.

Halliwell says: Deliberately scarifying and highly commercial shocker with little but its art direction to commend it to connoisseurs.*


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5th Jun 2012

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Class

80s derivative of The Graduate - that hasn't held up too well, despite the early brat pack connection.

Halliwell says: Ghastly travesty of The Graduate which aspires to every kind of sophistication it can think of but ends nowhere.


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19th May 2012

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Breathless

Superficial 80s remake of the New Wave classic. Obviously made an impression on Tarantino.

Halliwell says: Fashionable amalgam of sex and violence, borrowed from A Bout de Souffle but far to long after the event.


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7th May 2012

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State of Grace

Early 90s gangster pic - with juvenile Penn, Oldman and Reilly doing a dry run for 'The Departed'.

Halliwell says: Dull and plodding gangster movie.


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28th Feb 2012

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Married To The Mob

Tight, multi-layered comedy in Jonathan Demme's best film - and the antidote to 'Goodfellas'.

Halliwell says: Effervescent comedy-thriller that bubbles merrily along.**


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23rd Feb 2012

Read more 4.5 star reviews