Children Of Men (2006) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Children Of Men (2006) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Children Of Men was one of the most original and thought provoking films of 2006 and rewatching it is still as brilliant and impactful as the day I first watched it. The dystopian world created by Cuarón is so real you can almost taste it.  This, backed up with some epic cinematography (not least one of the best ‘one take’ shots in cinema) and you have a real must own film.  In short Children Of Men is powerful, expertly made and once again shows that with the right script and director, Clive Owen is as good as anyone out there.

Best Bit: The one-take Bexhill sequence

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: The Road, Akira, World War Z

 

Hall-of-Fame

 


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Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:  Empire Records was a massive bomb on it’s original release.  Critically and commercially.  Roger Ebert hated it (that said he hated The Usual Suspects…), Variety labelled it as “Soundtrack in search for a movie”  and it grossed under £300k on it’s theatrical release.   Yet as the years go on so the cult around Empire Records continues to grow and grow.  From regular midnight screenings to the annual Rex Manning Day celebrations (8th April) more and more people have come around to the fact that Empire Records is, actually, pretty damn good.

The story, as such, is about an independent record store on the brink of a take over by a nasty big multi national chain called Music Town stuck with a eclectic team of broken teens and an ego manic musician reluctantly there to plug his new album.  In reality it’s coming of age story that kind of ends up being a 90’s Breakfast Club set in a Record Store rather than a detention.  But, like many a cult hit, this film is less about the story and more about the feels & the characters.  And that is something this film has in spades.

Backtrack.  I discovered Empire Records in a video shop in my home town of Lewes (Lewes Videos take a much deserved bow) thanks mostly to it’s excellent owner who had an ability to find little heard of classics and fill his shelves with them.  From 80’s actioners Action Jackson, Never To Young To Die and my love of Jackie Chan – without that shop I’d probably not be writing this review here.   See before the internet, before Facebook and Instagram a cult hit became a cult hit often from a knowledgeable video clerk pointing you in the direction of something a little special.  Yes the Tarantino stories of video shop life weren’t all exaggerations!  Sadly those days have now passed but I do wonder if this film came out now and had similar reception if it’s fandom would grow as much as it has or would it’s 30 score on Metacritic or sub 30% on Rotten Tomatoes consign it to some little seen Sky Movies channel at 4am in the morning?  

It was a film that initially felt ahead of it times whilst being a launch pad for the careers of at least 3 big stars (Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney).  And this is the key Empire Records continued success.  The cast are brilliant.   Be it Liv Tyler’s innocent but broken Harvard student Corey or Rene Zellweger’s s–ty Gina, Maxwell Caulfield egotist singer Rex Manning or Anthony LaPaglia heart of gold store manager Joe… Empire’s characters resonate hard. For sure it’s not the best acted or directed film of the 90’s. But it’s cast gave it heart and soul, making it relatable.

Oh and the soundtrack.  I’ve seen empire Records well over twenty times. But the soundtrack I’ve listened to hundreds.  And much like the films cast it’s full of oddballs, strangeness, 2nd tier hits and one hit wonders it’s soundtrack delivers an eclectic mix from Coyote Shivers to Edwin Collins.  Look beyond the official soundtrack album to Spotify playlists that have been created with music that didn’t make it to the CD and you’ll find even more quirky tracks covering Gwar, Dire Straights and many more.

I have to admit part of the original appeal for me was Liv Tyler.  Empire was Tyler’s third film (after the very good Heavy and the little seen Silent Fall) but I’m pretty sure I caught it after seeing her in Stealing beauty (a wonderful film in itself). I had a major crush so anything with Tyler in was a draw for me.  She still remains a very underrated actress, with film appearances fleeting after the early successes.

No commentary for this film could pass without reference to the wonderful creation that is Rex Manning.  Part Hoff part every one hit wonder clinging to his heyday singer that’s ever been, former teen star Maxwell Caulfield who himself has something of a high and low filled career (see the critically hated Grease 2) delivers a note perfect slimeball performance backed up by the so bad it’s brilliant ‘Say No More Mon Amour’ track.

Don’t get me wrong the film has flaws.  It’s random to the point of being totally undisciplined, certain characters (Mark) seem like they are in a different film and it’s no surprise that few of the male cast broke big down the line.  BUT no work of art, no movie is perfect and it’s flaws just make it that bit more real.

Even thought Empire Records flopped on it’s release, in the 20 plus years that have followed it’s cult has grown enough for it to get some much needed love back from the rights holders. A ‘Fan Edit’ a few years back was released  (I’m not a massive fan as it kills the pacing and makes certain sections drag longer than they should) and a US Region A BluRay Release.  Outside the official stuff, there’s Etsy shops galore with pins, name badges and posters and Rex Manning Day has become a thing.  No really.

Empire Records was of it’s time.  And like many films I hold dear from my formative years, it’s one that stuck with me.  I’ve never shown it to anyone that didn’t love it.  I embrace it’s flaws.  I love it’s quirkiness and like Warren I too deep down just wanted Joe to give me a job.

Damn the man, Save The Empire! 

 


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The Rock (1996) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

The Rock (1996) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Oddly I wasn’t a fan of The Rock when I first saw it. But twenty years later (yes really) I’m truly amazing just how much this film blew me away.  It’s by far the best Michael Bay film (with Bad Boys a close second) with a killer performance by both Connery and Cage and for sure it’s one of the best action films of the 90’s… which is some praise if you look at a decade full of great action films.  From the car chase to the initial arrival on Alcatraz, from the Indiana Jones styled mine cart escape to Cage’s OTT venting it’s just a joy.  The Rock is essential and a welcome addition to the Hall of Fame.

Best Bit: Car Chase

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Bad Boys, Armageddon, Transformers 

Hall of Fame

 


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RoboCop (1987) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

RoboCop (1987) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Entering the SciFi wing of the Hall Of fame comes RoboCop – the 1987 Paul Verhoeven directed part action part satire that tackles crime, media and violence with a sardonic tone and a dark sense of humour.  Over 30 years later it’s surprising just how well RoboCop holds up (and conversely just how forgettable the recent remake is).  And even scarier… it feels very much like this could be modern day Trump America.  Weller does a great job with the obvious and considerable restrictions that the RoboCop role put upon him but he nails it.  However it’s the film villains that shine the most – from Ronny Cox as corporate bully Dick Jones to Kurtwood Smith as the psychotic Clarence Boddicker they chew up the scenery and give the film some really hateful villains.  But beyond that it’s a film full of iconic moments – Ed-209, the suit itself, the uber-violence and the infinitely quotable one liners.   In short – A must watch.

Best Bit: ED 209 goes rogue.

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: RoboCop 2, The Terminator, Total Recall 

Hall of Fame

 


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Star Wars Week:  Star Wars A New Hope – A Quick Capsule Review

Star Wars Week: Star Wars A New Hope – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

With Solo: A Star Wars Story out this week it felt a good time to revisit our previous reviews for the Star Wars films… next up A New Hope. 

 

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Star Wars is a genre defining, once in a life time kinda film that not only changed a genre of films for good it showed that the true value in film laid beyond the movie itself openning up multiple untouched revenue streams that kept the franchise alive well beyond it’s original runs.  It’s a film that wears its influences on it’s sleeve, from pulp serials of the 30’s and 40’s like Flash Gordon to the World War two dog fights that influence it space combat action so heavily.  The script is hokey for sure but the effects have rarely been topped by CGI and the pace and editing are top notch.  Star Wars defined a generation and still continues to entertain and endure over 40 years later.

Best Bit: The death star assault

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star wars: Return Of The Jedi, Star Wars: Rogue One

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

The Breakfast Club (1985) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

The Breakfast Club (1985) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Its taken me over 30 years but I finally watched The Breakfast Club.  And i wasn’t disappointed.  It’s odd how certain films skip you by but despite rating similar themed coming of age film Ferris Bueller as one of my favourite films fo all time, I just never got around to The Breakfast Club.  The danger is out of time these films can loose their impact but The Breakfast Club doesn’t. Far from it, I could relate to the film and the characters and it maintains a mostly timeless quality.  Age hasn’t taken away the impact of these disparate characters and their journey through one morning of detention.  Superbly performed, expertly directed and endlessly charming –  a classic for sure and a worth entry into the Phil’s Quick Review hall of fame!

Best Bit: Actually watching it after all these years!

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Porky’s , Pretty In Pink

 

HOF

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

All Things Film Blog The Blogs

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:  Empire Records was a massive bomb on it’s original release.  Critically and commercially.  Roger Ebert hated it (that said he hated The Usual Suspects…), Variety labelled it as “Soundtrack in search for a movie”  and it grossed under £300k on it’s theatrical release.   Yet as the years go on so the cult around Empire Records continues to grow and grow.  From regular midnight screenings to the annual Rex Manning Day celebrations (8th April) more and more people have come around to the fact that Empire Records is, actually, pretty damn good.

The story, as such, is about an independent record store on the brink of a take over by a nasty big multi national chain called Music Town stuck with a eclectic team of broken teens and an ego manic musician reluctantly there to plug his new album.  In reality it’s coming of age story that kind of ends up being a 90’s Breakfast Club set in a Record Store rather than a detention.  But, like many a cult hit, this film is less about the story and more about the feels & the characters.  And that is something this film has in spades.

Backtrack.  I discovered Empire Records in a video shop in my home town of Lewes (Lewes Videos take a much deserved bow) thanks mostly to it’s excellent owner who had an ability to find little heard of classics and fill his shelves with them.  From 80’s actioners Action Jackson, Never To Young To Die and my love of Jackie Chan – without that shop I’d probably not be writing this review here.   See before the internet, before Facebook and Instagram a cult hit became a cult hit often from a knowledgeable video clerk pointing you in the direction of something a little special.  Yes the Tarantino stories of video shop life weren’t all exaggerations!  Sadly those days have now passed but I do wonder if this film came out now and had similar reception if it’s fandom would grow as much as it has or would it’s 30 score on Metacritic or sub 30% on Rotten Tomatoes consign it to some little seen Sky Movies channel at 4am in the morning?  

It was a film that initially felt ahead of it times whilst being a launch pad for the careers of at least 3 big stars (Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney).  And this is the key Empire Records continued success.  The cast are brilliant.   Be it Liv Tyler’s innocent but broken Harvard student Corey or Rene Zellweger’s s–ty Gina, Maxwell Caulfield egotist singer Rex Manning or Anthony LaPaglia heart of gold store manager Joe… Empire’s characters resonate hard. For sure it’s not the best acted or directed film of the 90’s. But it’s cast gave it heart and soul, making it relatable.

Oh and the soundtrack.  I’ve seen empire Records well over twenty times. But the soundtrack I’ve listened to hundreds.  And much like the films cast it’s full of oddballs, strangeness, 2nd tier hits and one hit wonders it’s soundtrack delivers an eclectic mix from Coyote Shivers to Edwin Collins.  Look beyond the official soundtrack album to Spotify playlists that have been created with music that didn’t make it to the CD and you’ll find even more quirky tracks covering Gwar, Dire Straights and many more.


I have to admit part of the original appeal for me was Liv Tyler.  Empire was Tyler’s third film (after the very good Heavy and the little seen Silent Fall) but I’m pretty sure I caught it after seeing her in Stealing beauty (a wonderful film in itself). I had a major crush so anything with Tyler in was a draw for me.  She still remains a very underrated actress, with film appearances fleeting after the early successes.

No commentary for this film could pass without reference to the wonderful creation that is Rex Manning.  Part Hoff part every one hit wonder clinging to his heyday singer that’s ever been, former teen star Maxwell Caulfield who himself has something of a high and low filled career (see the critically hated Grease 2) delivers a note perfect slimeball performance backed up by the so bad it’s brilliant ‘Say No More Mon Amour’ track.

Don’t get me wrong the film has flaws.  It’s random to the point of being totally undisciplined, certain characters (Mark) seem like they are in a different film and it’s no surprise that few of the male cast broke big down the line.  BUT no work of art, no movie is perfect and it’s flaws just make it that bit more real.

Even thought Empire Records flopped on it’s release, in the 20 plus years that have followed it’s cult has grown enough for it to get some much needed love back from the rights holders. A ‘Fan Edit’ a few years back was released  (I’m not a massive fan as it kills the pacing and makes certain sections drag longer than they should) and a US Region A BluRay Release.  Outside the official stuff, there’s Etsy shops galore with pins, name badges and posters and Rex Manning Day has become a thing.  No really. 

Empire Records was of it’s time.  And like many films I hold dear from my formative years, it’s one that stuck with me.  I’ve never shown it to anyone that didn’t love it.  I embrace it’s flaws.  I love it’s quirkiness and like Warren I too deep down just wanted Joe to give me a job.

Damn the man, Save The Empire! 

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

The Perfect Weapon (1991) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

The Perfect Weapon (1991) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Perfect Weapon is one of the best 90’s direct to video action films that you probably haven’t seen.   Starring genuine hard man Jeff Speakman and a host of “Oh It’s him ” cast members (Mako, James Hong, Professor Tanaka to name but three), it’s low of budget but high on well done action.  If you are a fan of late 80’s and early 90’s martial arts films (the likes that Cannon would’ve made) then The Perfect Weapon is a must watch!

Best Bit: Training Montage 

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: No Retreat No Surrender, China O’Brien, American Ninja 

 

 

HOF

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
I like Blade Runner. I rewatched it today in it’s Final Cut form (a version I’ve never seen before). It’s a great film for sure, visually stunning and unquestionably groundbreaking .  BUT and this is a BIG but… the story isn’t that great and worse still Decker is pretty useless as a character (Come on he lucks in at almost every turn). Controversially I also think the music is WAY to intrusive throughout and dates the film much more than the visuals or FX which hold up well. I can see why it’s classic to many and it’s influence has been vast. BUT not in my top 50 films, maybe even not in my Top 100.

Best Bit: “Ive seen…”

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Blade Runner 2049, Alien, Strange Days

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

 

In The Line Of Fire (1993) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

In The Line Of Fire (1993) – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
In The Line Of Fire is one of Eastwood’s best performances in a stand out film by director Wolfgang Petersen.  It’s aged well also as the story of a Secret Service agent dragged into a plot to kill the latest president of the United States plays out with an excellent support cast (Russo, Cole, Bell) and a chilling central villain turn by John Malkovich.  It’s tense, superbly directed and throws in a few twists and turns. Well worth checking out. 

Best Bit: The roof top chase

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Heartbreak Ridge, Absolute Power, True Crime

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden