George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence – who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.
It’s one of those ageless movies, like “Casablanca” or “The Third Man,” that improves with age. Some movies, even good ones, should only be seen once. When we know how they turn out, they’ve surrendered their mystery and appeal. Other movies can be viewed an indefinite number of times. Like great music, they improve with familiarity. It’s a Wonderful Life falls in the second category
Although peppered with colourful, sharply drawn characters, this is Stewart’s movie, instantly loveable as a small town dreamer who sacrifices everything for others. His journey to despair and back warms the cockles like little else. Enjoy it in a cinema so you can sob among others.
In 1961, Kempton Bunton stole a valuable painting from the London National Gallery. He sent ransom notes saying that he would return it on condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend. An uplifting true story about a good man who set out to change the world.
In 1961, 60-year-old Kempton Bunton stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend. An uplifting true story about a good man who set out to change the world and managed to save his marriage.
You could dine on nothing but lard for twenty years and still not develop the hardness of heart necessary to avoid being won over by Roger Michell‘s The Duke, a ridiculously charming British comedy that dunks a gamely accented prestige cast into an appealingly milky true story like so many digestives into a warm, well-earned, early evening cuppa.
Manhattan, Upper West Side, 1957. Against the backdrop of the decaying tenements of New York, two gangs fight for supremacy. This oscar-winning reimagining of the beloved musical tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City.
An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
This is a West Side Story for both the past and present, as pleasing as the best movie musicals used to be, and as relevant as today’s headlines. It makes you feel like you are actually on the turbulent streets of New York’s west side, not a sound stage.
West Side Story is contrived, certainly, a hothouse flower of musical theatre, and Spielberg quite rightly doesn’t try hiding any of those stage origins. His mastery of technique is thrilling; I gave my heart to this poignant American fairytale of doomed love.
Career con artist Roy can hardly believe his luck when he meets a well-to-do widow on-line. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life.
Consummate con man Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), worth millions. And Roy means to take it all.
From their very first meeting, Roy begins plying Betty with his tried and true manipulations, and Betty, who seems quite taken with him, is soon going along for the ride. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes—revealing more insidious deceptions that will take them both through a minefield of danger, intrigue and betrayal.
This movie rattles along with terrific energy and dash and the flashback sequences show that it’s actually far more daring and ambitious that you might expect. It’s a great duel between McKellen and Mirren.
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his Greenwich Village courtyard apartment window, and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder, despite the scepticism of his fashion-model girlfriend.
L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies is an immobilized photo-journalist who, after breaking his leg photographing a racetrack accident, finds himself wheelchair bound and confined to the walls of his apartment. His rear window looks out onto a courtyard and several other apartments, where the binocular-wielding Jefferies spends his days as a voyeur spying on his neighbours. Jefferies gradually becomes more and more engrossed with this activity of his, and soon brings his girlfriend, Lisa, in on the thrill of his voyeurism. It’s all fun and games for the two until they witness what they believe to be a murder in progress, becoming increasingly convinced as they continue to observe the apartment. [KP]
The most densely allegorical of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces, moving from psychology to morality to formal concerns and finally to the theological. It is also Hitchcock’s most innovative film in terms of narrative technique, discarding a linear story line in favour of thematically related incidents, linked only by the powerful sense of real time created by the lighting effects and the revolutionary ambient sound track.
Hitchcock confines all of the action to this single setting and draws the nerves to the snapping point in developing the thriller phases of the plot. He is just as skilled in making use of lighter touches in either dialog or situation to relieve the tension when it nears the unbearable. Interest never wavers during the 112 minutes of footage.
A gripping spy thriller which tells the true story of an unassuming businessman who is recruited into The Cold War in an effort to provide crucial intelligence needed to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.
A true-life spy thriller. The Courier is the story of an unassuming British businessman who is recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. At the behest of the UK’s MI-6 and a CIA operative, he forms a covert, dangerous partnership with a Soviet officer in an effort to provide crucial intelligence needed to prevent a nuclear confrontation and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Courier is a tense, well-executed spy drama that wisely focuses on character and performance more than thrills, knowing that if we actually care about these men it will drastically heighten every narrowed glance, near miss, and frightful chase. It’s not always the freshest adventure, but that’s when the acting carries the piece and breathes life into these unlikely heroes.
A triumphant, inspiring movie about the heroism of human decency, Ironbark is a rock solid spy drama that, if it came out 20 years ago, would have easily become a mainstay on TNT or TBS. Hollywood doesn’t make movies like this very often anymore, and if does prove to be part of a last gasp of character-focused period thrillers, at least the genre is going out with some style.
An oil company executive gets more than he bargained for when a seemingly simple business trip to Scotland changes his outlook on life. Sent by his boss he quickly begins to question whether he is on the right side.
Up-and-coming Houston oil executive “Mac” MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) gets more than he bargained for when a seemingly simple business trip to Scotland changes his outlook on life. Sent by his colourful boss (Burt Lancaster) to the small village of Ferness, Mac is looking to quickly buy out the townspeople so his company can build a new refinery. But after a taste of country life Mac begins to question whether he is on the right side of this transaction.
Here is a small film to treasure, a loving, funny, understated portrait of a small Scottish town and its encounter with a giant oil company.
Local Hero, which concerns the frustrations of a Texas oilman’s attempts to buy up an idyllic Scottish village, ranks as a lyrical anti-urban comedy in the great tradition of films like I Know Where I’m Going and Whisky Galore!; and its essential triumph is to prove that comedy can still contain a gentle, almost mystical, aspect without necessarily being old-fashioned.