Tight, multi-layered comedy in Jonathan Demme's best film - and the antidote to 'Goodfellas'.
23rd Feb 2012Read more 4.5 star reviews
Shapeless pacing and shoddy production values make for one of the most over-rated film school favorites.
Halliwell says: Absurdly brutalized version of the above, with detailed violence and a superabundance of foul language. Scarface has now become an emigre Cuban, and the film seems to want to make a political statement.
20th Feb 2012Read more 2 star reviews
Portentous historical epic from Warren Beatty. Ambitious in scale and production, it sadly fails to get going.
21st Jan 2012Read more 3 star reviews
19th Jan 2012Read on Twitter
Newly extended scenes only highlight how good every scene is in this masterful western.
19th Jan 2012Read more 5 star reviews
Detailed, absorbing thriller from Costas Garvas, as Debra Winger goes undercover with the KKK.
3rd Jan 2012Read more 4 star reviews
Still great 80s drag comedy w Dustin Hoffman scoring a soap job in heels. Bonus: Bill Murray as his flatmate.
3rd Jan 2012Read more 4 star reviews
Stylish feminist road movie that saw a return to form for Ridley Scott. Feminists might disagree.
18th Dec 2011Read more 4 star reviews
Italian neo-realist classic, as area man struggles to find work and the necessary tools to do it.
14th Dec 2011Read more 4 star reviews
Moody, but flat and dull original car chase movie with Ryan O'Neal. More influential than it is good.
11th Dec 2011Read more 2.5 star reviews
Well handled, tense 80s angst classic, with Penn(s), Walken and Glover amongst the rogues gallery.
Halliwell says: Relentlessly brutal, dispiriting and quite pointless melodrama, even with the saving grace of a factual basis.
4th Nov 2011Read more 3.5 star reviews
The original grunts-in-space epic still stands ahead of the pack. Classic.
15th Sep 2011Read more 4.5 star reviews
Dated, but still majestic slice of 1970's Terrence Malick. Amazing photography and atmosphere.
2nd Sep 2011Read more 4 star reviews
Dated but assured adaptation from the young Kenneth Branagh. Highlighted by the rain of the English Longbow.
6th Aug 2011Read more 4 star reviews
Brilliant rites of passage movie that still stands as the definitive depiction of the war in Vietnam.
24th Jul 2011Read more 4.5 star reviews
3rd Jul 2011Read on Twitter
Total class from 1932. The camera loves Marlene Dietrich & Anna May Wong in this trainbound romance.
Halliwell says: Superbly pictorial melodrama which set the pattern for innumerable train movies to come, though none matched its deft quality and few sketched in their own characters so neatly. Plot and dialogue are silent style, but refreshingly so.***
19th Jun 2011Read more 4 star reviews
Well-paced suspenseful original as Arnie's relentless cyborg hunts its target, spawning a franchise.
17th Jun 2011Read more 3.5 star reviews
A star studded bizarro blip on Jeff Bridges CV. Possibly a black comedy. Definitely inexplicable.
Halliwell says: Heavy-going and confusing melodrama with much flashy editing. Despite its cast, it was never satisfactorily released.
12th Jun 2011Read more 0.5 star reviews
Compelling Le Carré. R Burton total class. George Smiley cameo: just like Marvel universe .
Halliwell says: The old undercover yarn with all the trimmings of such sixties malaises as death wish, anti-establlishmentism and racial problems. As a yarn, quite gripping till it gets too downbeat, but very harshly photographed.**
15th May 2011Read more 4 star reviews
60's thriller with Sinatra that has lost much of the edginess it must have had at the time.
9th May 2011Read more 3 star reviews
Prototype Coen Brothers flick, showing buckets of promise but lacking their later sophistication.
29th Mar 2011Read more 3 star reviews
Effective, old school, big-budget action sequel marking the beginning of the slide to action/comedy.
Halliwell says: Extremely violent policier which caters to the Rambo crowd but has enough pizazz to recommend it to most classes.
6th Mar 2011Read more 4 star reviews
Misfiriing 90's noir, with Jason Patric as a hobo boxer, getting into trouble in a small town.
Halliwell says: Wildly melodramatic thriller with dull performances.
27th Jan 2011Read more 2.5 star reviews
Timeless, spectacular, epic swashbuckler - with beautiful Technicolor cinematography.
Halliwell says: A splendid adventure story, rousingly operatic in treatment, with dashing action highlights, fine comedy balance, and incisive acting all round. Historically notable for its use of early three-colour Technicolor; also for convincingly recreating Britain in California.****
2nd Jan 2011Read more 5 star reviews
Forgot that I watched this, slow, self important conspiracy classic on Moviedrome in the 80's.
16th Oct 2010Read more 3 star reviews
Beautifully shot, acted and directed - Nicolas Ray's masterpiece is still ahead of it's time.
Halliwell says: The first film to suggest that juvenile violence is not necessarily bred in the slums, this somewhat dreary melodrama also catapulted James Dean to stardom as the prototype fifties rebel.**
8th Sep 2010Read more 5 star reviews
Disney's innovative & original 80s Wizard of Oz, which unfortunately hasnt got any deeper or less dull with age.
5th Sep 2010Read more 3 star reviews
Rambling, shambolic Philip Marlowe case from Robert Altman, with shoddy production quality.
Halliwell says: Ugly, boring travesty of a well-respected novel, the apparent intention being to reverse the author's attitudes completely and to substitute dullness and incomprehensibility.
4th Aug 2010Read more 2.5 star reviews
Classic Texan coming of age tale, complete with moody photography and great performances.
18th Jul 2010Read more 5 star reviews
A harrowing subject, rendered in a cliched and dated way - under the long shadow of Platoon.
19th Jun 2010Read more 3 star reviews
Confusing, pretentious and wholly inadequate 80's 'detective' movie with Jeff Bridges..
Halliwell says: Heavy-going melodrama which tries very hard to be something more than a thriller, and manages only to imply that the world stinks; so it might as well have stuck to Philip Marlowe.
26th Mar 2010Read more 1 star reviews
Hard for this cliched 80s thriller to stay dark, when it's lit by neon suits. Inc Wang Chung.
Halliwell says: High-gloss, foul-mouthed, hysterical crime melo, a kind of west coast French Connection.
8th Feb 2010Read more 2 star reviews
Scorcese's 90s tour de force. Menacing and mean, but still a bit stupid in the third act.
31st Jan 2010Read more 4 star reviews
Underrated, but still awesome - with one of the best cliffhangers ever.
Halliwell says: Extraordinarily raucous, confusingly plotted, poorly performed (rarely have actors aged so unconvincingly) sequel that amounts to little more than a trailer for the third part of the series.
3rd Jan 2010Read more 5 star reviews
Superior pre-Oliver Stone Vietnam movie.
1st Jan 2010Read more 3.5 star reviews
Time has made it a classic, but this one's from the skimpy end of the Hitchcock spectrum.
Halliwell says: A curiously absorbing work which begins as light comedy and ends as apocalyptic allegory, this piece of Hitchcockery has no visible point except to tease the audience and provide plenty of opportunity for shock, offbeat humour and special effects (which despite the drumbeating are not quite as good as might be expected). The actors are pawns in the master's hand.***
31st Dec 2009Read more 3 star reviews
Dated effects and a flimsy plot held together beautifully by the Bill Murray superglue.
27th Dec 2009Read more 4 star reviews
Often underrated, it's still a total classic. Spielberg + Ford at their best.
23rd Dec 2009Read more 5 star reviews
Same as it ever was - 72% pure adrenaline.
Halliwell says: Ridiculous thriller, with convoluted and unbelievable plot and a great deal of masculine posturing.
28th Sep 2009Read more 3.5 star reviews
As good as ever.
Halliwell says: Arthur Hailey's Flight into Danger and the film Zero Hour which was made from it get the zany parody treatment in this popular movie which is often funny but sometimes merely crude. It rang the box office bell more loudly than most expensive epics of its year.**
5th Sep 2009Read more 2 star reviews
(dir. Ron Howard)
Washed up fighter James W. Braddock is struggling to keep his family together during the Great Depression, but gets an unlikely shot at the World Title.
Seemingly unsure of whether it wants to be Raging Bull or Rocky, the film's aesthetic lifts heavily, but lacks the punch of the former - while the predictable underdog tale lacks the heart of the latter. Russell Crowe's performance as a hard working honest guy might technically be on the money, but the character is lacking in motivation or passion, making for a pretty flat film.
It seems like everybody involved felt like they were in sure-fire Oscar country here, and Paul Giacametti's performance in particular feels like it was sent in by telegram. He's badly cast as a young-looking training 'veteran' and there's no depth to his character - especially for a role that's usually set to 'powerhouse' (Clint and Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby, Burgess Meredith in Rocky, Joe Pesci in Raging Bull). The script holds few surprises too - the bell rings in the nick of time a couple of times, the dishonest opponent gets the odd punch in after the bell, but unlike the aforementioned Million Dollar Baby, there's little doubt how it's going to end.
The production values and art direction are big and expensive, but when the dust settles all we are left with is a long solid, hard working dust bowl of a movie, not dissimilar to that other dull, depression sports drama - Sea Biscuit.
The old Halliwell's Guide would probably say *.
Halliwell's Film Guide has always set the benchmark for good and bad cinema, and Leslie Halliwell's ruthless style is what we try to emulate when writing up our own reviews.
The book is surprisingly absent on the internet - and although a comprehensive website would thrash IMDB's relatively wimpy brown-nosing (A Clockwork Orange - 8.4!!?) it would quickly make the book obselete.
www.lesliehalliwell.com is a good resource though, with some biography about Leslie himself, favourite reviews, modern reviews, a list of some of the promoted and demoted four star films and a comparison of old vs new versions of the guide.