The American Dreamer

Documentary on Dennis Hopper (made as the film-maker was editing The Last Movie) in which Hopper reveals himself, at best, to be the Iggy Pop of American cinema and, at worst, a phoney with the demeanour and glare of Charles Manson.

The Last Movie

Dennis Hopper’s interesting and sincere post-Western set in Peru. (Try to download a torrented version rather than watch on youtube. There’s a significant difference in quality that affects appreciation of the film).

Major Dundee

Sam Peckinpah is the most Homeric of American filmmakers, as the clip above from Major Dundee shows. There’s a great line in the film when Dundee (Charlton Heston) says of ‘confederate renegade’ Captain Tyreen (Richard Harris): ‘He is corrupt; but I will save him.’

Taxi Driver

Scorsese’s film is nearly 40 years old and I must have seen it a dozen times but it hasn’t dated or lost its power and ability to startle.

Flags of Our Fathers

Clint Eastwood’s war movie manages to be patriotic and provide social and political criticism at the same time. A fine achievement from America’s greatest living filmmaker.

The Taking of Power by Louis XIV

Rossellini’s film on the Sun King is extraordinary and a lot of fun.


Billy Wilder on similar terrain to Sunset Boulevard in his penultimate film, which is wonderful, and largely set in Kerkyra.


Rossellini’s film is great, but as in Rome, Open City, one can't help thinking if his tender portraits of the Italian war experience don’t conceal the fact that Italians were responsible with their several wars of aggression for their own suffering and downfall.

The Consequences of Love

Good existential Italian crime drama.

The Secret in Their Eyes

Good film telling us something about Argentinean society and politics in the 1970s.

The Beast to Die

Interesting first half, then deteriorates and becomes silly.

The Lawless

Class and racial tensions spill over in Joseph Losey’s drama. The portrait of small-town white America as nothing more than a lynch mob in waiting is striking.

The Prowler

In Joseph Losey’s noir, Van Heflin plays a dispirited and cynical cop whose only hope of rejoining society is to break its most fundamental rules.


Frank Borgaze’s very good febrile romantic southern noir about sin and redemption.

The Big Night

Joseph Losey’s noir with a lot of potential concerning a youth who seeks to revenge his own humiliation and that of his father only to discover things are not so black and white but which turns into a rather uninteresting fable about generational conflict.

Bottle Rocket

Whimsical film, sometimes engaging and sometimes annoying.

We Own the Night

Starts out quite interestingly but rapidly deteriorates into a load of tosh.

The Yards

Another morose film from James Gray. It has potential but peters out badly.

Gosford Park

A bunch of renowned British actors have a ball in Robert Altman’s amusing film playing masters and servants.

The Warriors

Walter Hill’s hugely enjoyable film presents a disintegrating and depraved New York City and is inspired by Xenophon’s Anabasis, the attempt by 10,000 Greek mercenaries to return home to Greece after their failed mission to overthrow the Persian emperor.

Little Odessa

Depressing crime drama set among the Russian Jewish emigre community in New York. The climax is good and redeems the film somewhat.

Kansas City

Robert Altman’s excellent film interested in race, class and jazz.

American Gangster

Are we really supposed to buy the apotheosis of a heroin dealer, his elevation to the status of a black rebel and business pioneer? The worst type of Hollywood hokum. A pity, because there is an interesting story to tell here – about the proliferation of drug culture in American cities, its connection to the Vietnam war and so on. Podgy Russell Crowe, who plays the crusading cop in the film, looks remarkably like Ricky Gervais.

Road to Perdition

This overly-earnest film is full of plot and character deficiencies and meanders towards a predictable and sentimental climax. Jude Law plays the worst and most unconvincing mafia assassin in cinematic history.

Public Enemies

Michael Mann infuses the John Dillinger myth with glamour and romance. A disappointing interpretation, though Johnny Depp is very good.


John Milius’ film starring Warren Oates is fair enough.

Spirited Away

Good Japanese animated film in the mould of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz and so on.

Baby Face Nelson

Don Siegel’s film is dedicated to the FBI and its crusade against ‘trigger-happy punks’, but you still end up finding the robbers more interesting and entertaining than the cops. Mickey Rooney is miscast as the eponymous Baby Face Nelson.

Plunder Road

Good, laconic heist movie in the mould of Asphalt Jungle and other poetry of failure noirs.

Born to Kill

Robert Wise’s outrageously plotted film noir. Lawrence Tierney plays the psychotic killer, though more interesting are the mental foibles of the characters played by Claire Trevor, Elisha Cook Jr and Audrey Long.

The Devil Thumbs A Ride

Another chilling performance from Lawrence Tierney as ruthless criminal ‘on the lam’ Steve Morgan in this very well written film noir.


Amazingly brutal gangster film starring the superb Lawrence Tierney as John Dillinger, public enemy number one. Screenplay by Philip Yordan.


Good film noir involving dirty dealings in a meat processing factory, starring the very tough Lawrence Tierney and directed by Richard Fleischer.