Inside Man

Last night I watched Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington as a police detective who’s pitted against a bank robber played by Clive Owen. At first, the robbery seems straightforward, if clever, but as the story unfolds it becomes apparent that much more is going on than meets the eye. With good support from the likes of Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe, the tale develops at a good pace and in interesting directions. Spike Lee’s directing keeps things taut and exciting and shows New York City off nicely.

This is one I’d definitely spend good money on, having rented it, since I think it will only improve with further viewings. Recommended.


Last night I watched Next, a film starring Nicolas Cage as a man who can see into his own future. The catch is that he can usually only see two minutes ahead, which is enough to allow him to run his own magic act and make a little money in the casino, as well as avoiding a certain amount of trouble, but not enough to allow for really big stuff.

The plot revolves around the search for a stolen nuclear device, and a government agent’s attempts to involve our hero in tracking it down and preventing a disaster. All Cage’s character really wants, however, is to pursue the girl of his dreams. The film is based on a story by Philip K. Dick, a science-fiction author of some note, and largely stands up well. I particularly liked the surprise ending, even though it left the story hanging a bit. I felt that the bad guys weren’t really sinister enough, and were completely one-dimensional, but they’re really almost incidental to the plot.

On the whole, then, a thoroughly entertaining movie, and well worth renting. I’d buy it if it was suitably cheap (as it is at Amazon right now) but not at full price.

The Invention of Lying

This afternoon my friend Vally and I got on a bus to South Woodford (after quite a bit of waiting) and saw the new Ricky Gervais film, The Invention of Lying. The first half of the film was very entertaining, as it explored what it means to have a world in which nobody lies and everybody speaks their mind all the time, and what happens to that world when one person discovers they can lie. It falls apart a bit in the second half, though. The romance feels a bit forced and the pandering-to-Hollywood saccharin happy ending feels very contrived. On the whole, I’d say that it’s worth seeing if you fancy killing a couple of hours in a pleasant enough manner but it’s not worth going too far out of your way for.

District 9

I’ve just got back from seeing District 9 and I’m very glad that I took the trouble to go out and see it. Even if science-fiction isn’t usually your cup of tea I’d still recommend it. Yes, it’s a none-too-subtle commentary on the way we treat immigrants and those we perceive as being different from ourselves and yes, it’s not saying anything new. But it’s clever, engaging and, to use the word so many others have applied to too many films, gritty. The pseudo documentary format of much of the film works well, the acting is good and the special effects are, as we’ve all come to expect these days, superb.

The only criticisms I could really level at it are that it’s quite predictable and that the ending is all-too-obviously leaving the way open for a sequel, presumably to be called ‘District 10’. That having been said, it’s well worth the money and the couple of hours of your time. You won’t be disappointed.

Alice’s Restaurant

This morning my friend Liz reminded me, via the power of Facebook, of a film I saw for the first time many years ago and fell in love with – Alice’s Restaurant. I’ve seen it several times over the years and enjoyed it every single time. And Amazon only want £2.98 for it, so I reckon I’m going to have to invest in a copy. Something to add to my order when I next buy something from them.

I really need to expand my current DVD collection to include more in the way of older films that I particularly enjoy. I already have Passport to Pimlico, which is just joyful. If you’ve never seen it you really owe it to yourself to track down a copy, and don’t let the fact that it’s in black and white put you off. What other films should I add to my list?


I went to see the new X-Men film with Jenny, Jenni and Sophia last night at the Cineworld in Shaftesbury Avenue. The special effects were, as always these days, superb but the story fell flat as far as I was concerned. They’d tried to introduce some plot twists but they felt contrived and I didn’t care enough about the characters for it all to matter. Still, it was good fun and a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Afterwards we popped into Ed’s for a bite to eat, although I’d eaten enough nachos in the cinema to stop me from being hungry. I nibbled the odd chip and had a milkshake while the others ate. Then home to bed. A good evening.

In The Loop

Last night I brandished my new Unlimited Pass at the Cineworld cinema at Shaftesbury Avenue and saw ‘In the Loop’ with my friends Sophia and Paul. It’s rare for a film to make me laugh out loud but this one managed to do it all the way through. I noticed the others doing the same. If you’re not put off by a lot of swearing, go and see it.

Afterwards we had a very pleasant meal of pizza and wine. The wine wasn’t great but it was OK and it helped the evening along nicely. I really enjoy spending time with friends. After all, as we said last night, stuff can come and go but you don’t want your friends to.

An Afternoon in Docklands

Yesterday afternoon we spent a very enjoyable time in London’s Docklands. At least we did once we managed to actually get there. First there was trouble on the bus to Stratford when a group of people decided they didn’t want to pay. Eventually they got off and we were on our way again. On our arrival at Stratford we found that the DLR wasn’t running. There had been no notice of this; in fact, it wasn’t included in the station announcements along with the other lines that were closed. We found our way to the rail replacement bus, after a bit of grumbling, and soon we were on our way.

Once we arrived at Canary Wharf we located a handy pub where we had a drink while awaiting the rest of our party’s arrival. Having had a bit of a chinwag we spent a very enjoyable time in the Museum in Docklands, which currently has a very good Jack the Ripper exhibition on. Not so much about the murders as about the time in which they happened.

After that it was back to the pub for a meal before wandering over the road to the cinema to see Hellboy II, which was great fun. Not only does it look fantastic but there’s bags of humour. If you like that kind of special effects extravaganza, go and see it.

An uneventful couple of bus rides brought us home again at a not-too-unreasonable hour, but I’m still very glad it’s a bank holiday Monday today.


I went to see Stardust yesterday afternoon. Now, I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, so I’d already read and enjoyed the book and was a bit worried about whether the film would be able to live up to it. I needn’t have been concerned – it’s an absolute joy. It contains nothing deep, it’s not going to change your life or anything, but it will entertain and amuse you, and that’s just fine. The casting is excellent, the special effects everything you would expect from a modern work, and the film maintains a wonderful sense of magic, of detachment from reality. I’m not going to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it, so I won’t say much more except that I heartily recommend it and I’ll be buying the DVD when it’s available.