Spotlight On…Tom Cruise part 2

Posted by David On June 15, 2014 5 COMMENTS

JerryMaguireWelcome to part 2 of my series on the films of Tom Cruise.

We finished part 1 with the Mission: Impossible franchise so we’ll be starting this one with the Cameron Crowe directed Jerry Maguire (1996)(3 Lukes). It seems to be popular to bag this film for some strange reason, especially for the “Help me, help you.” scene, but I confess I like this film. It is genuinely funny, Cuba Gooding Jnr is on fire, and the “You complete me scene.” is fantastic.

The following year Cruise chose 2 films that couldn’t be more different than Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut (1999) (which I mentioned in part 1) and Paul Thomas Anderson‘s excellent Magnolia (1999)(4 Lukes). Cruise had always wanted to work with Anderson, so even though his character, the loathsome self help speaker Frank T.J. Mackey, was a complete departure from his usual roles, he jumped at the chance. And it pays off. His performance is second only to Born on the Fourth of July. In fact everyone in this film brings their A game and I highly recommend it.


Spotlight On…Tom Cruise part 1

Posted by David On June 10, 2014 2 COMMENTS

Tom-CruiseWelcome to my latest Spotlight On article, this time featuring the films of Tom Cruise.

I decided to do this series for a couple of reasons. I had a day off from work thanks to the Queen Lizzie’s Birthday so I decided to spend it watching some movies.

I started with Edge of Tomorrow and then went home to watch a couple others. The intention was to pick at them at random, but when I was finished I was surprised to find that they were both Tom Cruise films (Vanilla Sky & Mission: Impossible).

It would be easy to think that this seemingly random event was simply because Mr Cruise currently has 37 acting credits to his name, and I own most of them, but I assure you it was completely random, and it actually brings me to my second point. I like Tom Cruise.

Now, I know that’s not a popular thing to admit. The general populace (or at least those people who care about that sort of thing) are quick to to dismiss Mr Cruise as everything from a complete weirdo to a religious nut (he is a devout Scientologist). But isn’t a man’s religious beliefs his own affair, regardless of that religion? And the Oprah couch jumping scene was 9 years ago (May 2005 in fact). Yeah, it was a little weird, but haven’t we all done weird stuff when were in love? Surely it’s time to move on.

There is something about him that even his detractors find hard to deny- the man is a Movie Star. Charisma, good looks, a million dollar smile, and yes, even acting ability, Tom Cruise has everything a Hollywood star needs. I may not agree with his ideology, but I do enjoy his films.


I saw a tweet recently that said that all movies based on TV shows were bad, basically because they, more often than not, went for the nod & wink to the audience and instead of laughing with the the program that inspired them, preferring to laugh at them. Now at first thought I would agree with this statement. Most of them do in fact do this, and lets face it, most of them suck because of it. But while researching this article I was surprised to find that not all TV based films are crap, and in fact, some of them are actually pretty good. I also found that these films aren’t a recent trend. There are cinematic versions of classic TV shows dating back to the 50’s and were actually kind of a big deal.

The list of these films is quite extensive, so I decided to limit myself to the following: no animated (so no Simpsons The Movie, which lets face it is basically a long episode of the show, or SpongeBob Squarepants, which is a shame ’cause it’s hilarious), no sketches or shorts stretched into a movie (so no Blues Brothers unfortunately), no films used to finish or extend the show (ie Firefly/Serenity or Twin Peaks), no Star Trek (they’ll get their own Spotlight On), and no telemovies – cinema releases only. I’m also not going to do the Dr Who movies, I’ll leave them for Richo and his Who Reviews. That still leaves a heap of options so this article will be split into 2 parts. I hope you enjoy it!

Get Smart

Fun Fact: Get Smart actually had an earlier cinema release called The Nude Bomb (1980). It was a total bomb (pun intended) and nominated for a Golden Raspberry. It was so bad that the revival TV show ignored it completely for continuity.

Released: 2008

Directed by: Peter Segal

Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin & Dwayne Johnson

Plot: Maxwell Smart, analyst and wannabe agent for the secret spy agency CONTROL, working alongside the experienced Agent 99, must prevent KAOS, an enemy agency, from detonating a nuclear bomb in America and save the President.

For: I’m a big Steve Carell fan. I think he’s good in everything he’s in, it’s just that he’s often in very ordinary films / Doesn’t disrespect the source / Alan Arkin is great / Patrick Warburtin as Hymie / a few laughs / Terrence Stamp always good

Against: Doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a comedy or an action movie and so fails at both. The action isn’t exciting enough and the comedy relies too much on Carell’s natural charm / the love story simply doesn’t convince.

Favourite Scene: Hymie / the Cone of Silence.

Rating: 2 Lukes


Spotlight On…Oscars 2013

Posted by David On February 16, 2013 ADD COMMENTS

For this edition of Spotlight On… I’ll be covering the Best Film nominees for this years Academy Awards. That’s right, I’m watching them so that you don’t have to! We’ll be covering winners in our Academy Awards special on episode #45 so join us then!

Note: As of this time I haven’t seen Amour or Beasts of the Southern Wild yet.


Released: 2012

Directed by: Ben Affleck

Written by: Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (article)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston & John Goodman

Plot: A dramatization of the 1979-1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.

For: Very well directed. Affleck is a far better director than he is an actor / The Argo read through is awesome, I would love to see this actually get made (but of course it won’t) / Mark steps up to the plate at the airport / Alan Arkin is awesome (as always)

Against: Not as gripping as I expected. It is entertaining but could have been so much more. For example, instead of chasing the plane down at the airport (which apparently never happened) why not just radio the plane from the tower and demand that they not take off?

Favourite Scene: The Argo read through, and every scene with Arkin.

Rating: 4 Lukes

Django Unchained

Released: 2012

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Written by: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot: With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

For: Some very funny scenes / Has the usual Tarantino flair / Waltz and DiCaprio are magnificent

Against: Ridiculously over the top – typical over-blown Tarantino production / It is at least 45 mins too long / The soundtrack is unbearable / What is up with the horse dance at the end?! / Nowhere near as funny or clever as it thinks it is / Unfortunately Tarantino has reached a point that no one has the spine to tell him when he is over doing it, which this film desperately needed. It is unlikely that he will ever return to the brilliance of his earlier films.

Favourite Scene: Collecting the Bill Sharp bounty / Candie goes ballistic at dinner / Meeting Big Daddy

Rating:  2.5 Lukes


Spotlight On…Recent Viewings 9

Posted by David On January 1, 2013 4 COMMENTS

It’s the holidays so I have a bit of time to catch up on my film list. Oh and someone pointed out that I should call Spoiler Alert on some of these reviews. Sorry if I annoyed anyone!  🙂

Chernobyl Diaries

Released: 2012

Directed by: Bradley Parker

Written by: Oren Peli (screenplay) & Carey Van Dyke (screenplay)

Starring: Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski & Olivia Dudley

Plot: Six tourists hire an extreme tour guide who takes them to the abandoned city Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. During their exploration, they soon discover they are not alone.

For: Cool poster / Uri character is fun / The abandoned city is well done

Against: Uses a documentary type film style, but never explains why, or who is holding the camera / Very boring, it takes 55 mins for anything interesting to happen / Why do they find Natalie alive? The eviscerated Uri, but she doesn’t have a scratch! / The ending is ridiculously stupid! / A good idea wasted.

Favourite Scene: The group gets back to find the van gutted and the video of what happened / Natalie gets taken again (and the creepy kid)

Rating: 1.5 Lukes