November 27, 2015




DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick

May contain spoilers!

It is difficult to know how to review this “classic”. If I rated it based on my personal opinions and feelings alone, I would struggle to give it more than 1/10! This was one of the most gruelling 138 minutes of film that I have ever experienced and proof that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Granted, the subversive messages about yob culture and the ways that society and governments want to deal with such things withstanding, the execution is just too bizarre for me.

The only saving grace is the care and attention given to the look of the film, with Kubrick’s trade mark cinematography and uses of sound and music, but all in all, this is an acquired taste, one which is obsessed with sex and violence in an artistic way, trying to tell us that violence is abhorrent whilst revelling in it.

Maybe I missed the irony but I do not think so. I believe that Kubrick was playing with us, brainwashing the audience in a similar manner to the way that Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) is conditioned by the state with the use of aversion therapy. We are being exposed to abhorrent images whilst being told that this is in order to see them as just that. But I am not so sure. This is just one step away from either being exploitative or profound.

I felt that it was a glorified exploitation piece, trying to throw as much sex and violence at the audience as humanly possible, something which was all too common in the 1970’s. Any profundity is just a bonus for those who wish to find it.

A Clockwork Orange was supposedly banned for years after a spate of copycat crimes but this is a bit of a misnomer. It was not banned, but it was withdrawn by Kubrick himself and continued to be withdrawn until after his death in 1999, but was it because if these crimes, the death threats which he received or was it because it was a work of self-indulgence which encouraged other, depraved individuals to indulge themselves?

Whatever his motives the film has gained notoriety and critical kudos over the decades since its release and personally I do not see why. I will probably never watch this again, though I will accept that its message at the time, in 1971, regarding the rise of the yob culture, which is still relevant today, was topical and intriguing and I can see why so many people of that generation were prepared to the get behind it.

I can not.


I appreciate that this a very personal view of a film created by a director who polarises his audience. I love 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Spartacus (1960), Dr. Strangelove (1965) and think highly of The Shining (1980) but on the other hand we have this and Eyes Wide Shut (1999)My review is focused on my experience of watching the film and I have chosen not to try to take into account the general positive feelings about the film, so many of which can be sycophantic.


November 26, 2015

nixon1995 – Theatrical Cut

1995/2008 – Expanded Version



DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone

May contain spoilers!

When I first watched this film on VHS back in early 1996, I was nothing short of disappointed. Already being a huge fan of Stones work with JFK (1991), Born On The Fourth Of July (1989) and Platoon (1986), I was really looking forward to this Oscar nominated biopic of Richard M. Nixon by a man who was thumbing his nose at not just the American institution, but the corrupt western values in general.

Bear in mind I was just 17 at the time so anything or one who attacked “the man” was appealing. But that is not what we got here. On my first viewing and this is an opinion shared by many who have seen this film of all ages, Nixon is a scrappy, overly long confused melodrama serving those already indoctrinated into U.S. politics. In other words, it is talking to those Americans who either lived through it and paid attention or those involved in politics.

But on later viewings the real film emerges from this mess and it becomes clearer and clearer as you begin to decipher the plot and are able to put the none-linear plot into context. Stone was expected to do a hatchet job on Tricky Dicky”, a man who is generally considered to be one of the worst and most dangerous Presidents that the U.S. has had in living memory, but instead we get a sort of Greek tragedy, a tale of a tortured soul who in spite of the good work he did, would never received the adoration or respect which he deserved.

This is in contrast to his childish and dangerous drive to blame everybody else for his failings, problems and in the end, crimes. And there were a lot of crimes.

Anthony Hopkins, who interprets the character of Richard Nixon perfectly, never taking him of or turning his performance in to caricature but seeming to capture the essence, domina and tone of the man, allowing Hopkins to act his socks off with the restrictions of impersonation. And Hopkins leads and stellar cast through what is now, as of 2008’s Extended Cut, a 213 minute epic charting Nixon’s rise from his Quaker roots to being forced to resign the highest office in the land.

The Extended Cut is 28 minutes longer than the theatrical version and fills in so many of the gaps and confusing elements of the original version, many of which making that first viewing 19 years ago that much harder. It expands on his policies whilst President, particularly in Cambodia, but adds a few Oliver Stone moments, more inference that Nixon had a vague but proxy role in the assignation of JFK and the added scene with Sam Waterstone’s CIA head, for example.

The latter is a long scene but one which is very subjective and I doubt that there is any real truth in it. And that is a general criticism of the film on the whole. How much of this is true? Well I would say technically, a lot of it is. But how much of it has been presented through the Oliver Stone prism? I would say just as much but is that a problem?

No. This is not a textbook, this is an artist endeavour and one which sheds light one a man and the politics of the time which many of us never witnessed first hand or have been given a chance to revisit. Personally I think that Nixon is a brilliantly crafted film, taking us on a guided tour of the Nixon era, but the tour guide, Stone, is constantly meandering and seemingly wandering off point. But if you can keep up then this is an intriguing portrait of a man who went to great lengths to keep people at arms length. Who knew the real Richard Nixon? Not many by all accounts.


November 25, 2015

earth_vs_the_flying_saucers_xlgOriginal Black & White Version – 1956

Colourised Version – 1956/2007



DIRECTOR: Fred F. Sears

May contain spoilers!

Why haven’t I seen this before? Well, the snob in me probably dismissed the film outright with a title like this but what was I thinking? I love classic sci-fi but have not really seen enough. It was only by chance that I caught the last 15 minutes of this on TV and was inspired to rush out and buy a copy on Blu-ray to see the rest.

What a gem of a movie this is. Clearly the inspiration for Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks (1996), and in turn, other modern special effects extravaganzas including Independence Day (1996), this is a fast paced, intelligent action film, bolstered by the high quality and ever ground breaking visual effects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen.

The script is hammy, but of its time, especially where science fiction was in 1956, but it is also littered with science, through either dumbed down facts or fictitious, but whilst using terms which would have sounded awesome to an audience of the 1950’s, make little sense now when we actually understand the words!

But it is filled with clever sci-fi concepts and more than it needs, proving that a real effort was made to produce a true work of science fiction and not just some alien invasion romp. The effects may be dated, but they are brilliant, conveying the plot with ambitious visuals and a sense of speed and pace which is surprising for a film of this era.

The final battle between Earth’s forces and the Saucers over Washington D.C. is thrilling, clearly inspiring so many modern action films.

But what about the controversial Colourisation process? Well, I like it, in this case at least. I am not a fan or supporter of Colourisation on the whole, but I am also not against having the option. In the 1980’s, the process was met with hostility as classics were butchered by the process which was unnecessary and garish, thanks to Ted Turner of the TCM (Turner Classic Movies), with films such as Casablanca being subjected to this treatment.

But Noir is not the right genre for this process though there are plenty of films which would have been shot in colour given the choice at the time and this, so Harryhausen claims, was one of them. And seeing the results of the modern process, which is leagues above that of the 80’s and 90’s, I can see his point.

The colour version looks great. Bright and vibrant, changing and in many ways, improving the look of so many scenes. Now, I have no problem with black and white and I in fact watched this first in the original monochrome but the final scene on the beach for example, looks completely different in colour.

In the black and white version, the beach looks dull and over cast, dark and bleak, but in colour it looks like a sunny paradise and since this was supposed to be a bright and happy ending with our leading couple running off into ocean having saved the world, I think that the bright and vibrant look is correct.

Ray Harryhausen seems to think so and who are we to disagree? Legend Films, who are responsible for the colourisation, have done a admirable job and whether we agree or not as to the value of the process, as long as the original version exists, then there is no real harm in it. In fact, if the colour version attracts just one new, younger fan who would not normally have sat through the black and white version, then it is worth while.

But colour or monochrome, this is a great classic sci-fi flick and must see for any fan of the genre.


November 24, 2015


Parts 1 & 2 – 2014 & 2015 (3D)



DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence

May contain spoilers!

The Hunger Games (2012) and Catching Fire (2013) were both bold, ambitious and genre warping movies, both proving that you can make a genre film within a genre, rather than just a  simple box ticking exercise.

The tone of the first movie was subversive and dark, setting children upon each other and managing to show this without showing too much whilst the second, took the plot a step further but my fears were realised with Mockingjay, Parts 1 and 2.

I felt that the story was going nowhere, destined to take us down a generic revolutionary route with few surprises and in many ways I was right. But I was also wrong as by the time this franchise concludes, characters are not quite where we would expect them to be, some are dead, some have moved on and others, such as Katniss Everdeen are effectively left with a happy ending, though clearly bitter sweet.

But my problem with Mockingjay is that we have suddenly been torn away from the story we knew, that of the Capitol’s depravity and The Hunger Games themselves, into a seemingly action lead, war/revolutionary tale, one in which there can be only one winner.

The twists revolve around District 13, the heart of the resistance lead by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) who seems to lead a communist style district, someone who is set to depose the overtly capitalist President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his District 1.

The twist is that it is not Communism vs. Capitalism at all, just another leader intent of taking control and falling into the same perilous and corrupt traps as Snow.

But that aside, the slow pacing which worked so well with the first two movies, feels just slow and plodding in these finales, dragging every thought, repeating conversations, looks and plots as if to drag out the story over a four and half hour run time. And Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) herself has changed. Always been somewhat unlikable and aloof in the early films, here we are told that she is unlikable yet her character is somewhat more sympathetic and with this artificial change, Lawrence’s performance suffers.

Then there is this constant and infuriating love triangle between Katniss, Peeta (Josh Hutchinson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) which is just dragged kicking and screaming into every possible scene, leaving us somewhat uninterested as who she chooses by the end, as is her constant wining, moaning and irresponsible insubordination.

Face of the resistance or not, she is clearly a liability from start to finish and I was just hoping that someone would shoot her by the end and give the resistance a chance. But as it turns out, they did not need to as they win without her anyway.

Yes, she may have inspired them but since the film was about her mission to assassinate Snow, she fails to even get close and her failure is all her own. She is simply not up to the job and I fail to see how or why we are expected to get behind her. She is not a hero.

And the contrivance of having the Game-Makers set traps in the Capitol was just ludicrous and not particularly satisfying either. All in all, Mockingjay is the embodiment of a high concept which had nowhere to go and ends up treading water until we stop paying for it.

Well, it is over and after a flying start it parachuted back to earth, safely but without any flair, real substance or the attitude of the first two films. And I have no doubt that if this ubiquitous two-part finale had been made as just one two and a half our film, then it would have been much, much better.


November 23, 2015




DIRECTOR: Sam Taylor-Johnson

Contains spoilers!

Wow. My expectations were low, but still encouraged by the behind the scene stories that the script and direction had improved upon the E L James source novel, one which I must admit, I have not read but heard plenty about.

But all I can say is how bad must that novel have been if THIS is better? The casting choice of Grey is clearly wrong, not that Jamie Dornan is the wrong type for the role, because physically he is fine, but he has no acting chops and fails to embody the characters complexity. Dakota Johnson on the other hand, is fine.

Ironically, the film suffers from its high production values, glossy sets and costumes, as well as being presented as a major motion picture. But the screenplay is everything but, just being one notch above a third rate porno! The character development is bizarre, with strange and unjustifiable choices being made throughout, with little attention given to their motivations.

So, this is clearly a glorified sex film, right? WRONG.

With few sex scenes, most of which would qualify for a normal romance and given the film a rating of 12 if the tone was dialled down a notch, this film offers nothing to its audience, with sex scenes so boring and unimaginative that I was literally falling asleep!

So, with horrendously hammy action, set-ups, dialogue and boringly pointless sex scenes which hardly push any boundaries whatsoever, I fail to see what all the fuss was about.

In my opinion, this film is talking to prudes, prudes who are trying to move in to the 21st century’s sexual awareness. Not women or men who have had long term sexual relationships or marriages. It has a teenage level of understanding of sex and the film presents it in this way, presuming that adult couples only have sex in one position, once a month by the sounds of it.

To me, Fifty Shades Of Grey should have been adapted by a director and writer who have experience of exploitation film making, or psychological thrillers perhaps? A decision should have been made as whether this was going to have little sex but plenty of character or sex upon sex and be a depraved sexual exploitation film which would not only shock today, but become a classic of tomorrow.

But what we have here is neither. A weird interpretation of sexual fetishes, which plays into the misconception that a fetish is a deviation rather than a preference to be shared. In states that it is a positive experience several times but this film does not believe it.

It is like attending someone’s first Ann Summers Party with drunken laughter to conceal the embarrassment of opening up sexually to themselves and other women. Realising that both men and women like sex and feeling free to talk about it.

The potential of this film was astronomical, but first they needed to dump E. L. James, most of her novel, any of her script notes and take the concept and write a new story and make a firm decision as to whether it is a sexual exploitation movie in the vein of 70’s classics such as Caligula, or a serious physiological thriller, maybe more in the vein of last year’s Lost Girl (David Fintcher).

But this film as it is, jumps from either embarrassingly hilarious, creditworthy and boring. Either way, I would avoid this monstrosity.


November 22, 2015


Today marks the Sixth Anniversary of nEoFILM, a personal project to served two key purposes. The first was simply to set up a workable system and format to write film reviews around my busy work and home schedules. The second to was to build the nEoFILM brand as it were with no money and no real intentions of making any. In short, nEoFILM is an experiment, an ongoing project to both fulfil my passion to for writing about movies and to learn about brand growth and management, with the success or failure being measured in followers, visitors and views.

But in the end, the concepts behind nEoFILM are simply self-expression and passion for the subject, which is of course, film.

The past six years have a been busy for me, with lots of ups and downs as you would expect and as a result, this blog reflects this, with periods of absence and intense periods of activity, peaking in the summer of 2013. I will always endeavour to write, post and maintain nEoFILM and as long as the band of faithful readers is out there then you, they and everyone who joins the nEoFILM readership can rest assured that the quality content will continue for years to come.

So, I will leave you with this, a collection of the key banners beginning with the one of the latest and ending  with the first “Blue” banner which set the simple and yet bold tone of the blog back in 2009 and 2010 until it was replaced in 2011.

February also saw the first attempt at a Promo Video, the aim was raise the profile via Youtube.

This year I have focused more on articles than reviews, posting my first OST review, Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar (2014) and again, taking a look at Flicker Alley and their Cinerama releases.

In 2015 we have also celebrated the anniversaries of the Summer Blockbuster @40 and the Centenary of 3-D, which was first projected back in June of 1915.

September saw the first issue of the nEoFILM Hardcopy, a printed version of the blog’s output for the month previous. It is an experiment and whether it will continue is up to you so feedback is appreciated.


Thank you all for growing and consistent support over the years.


2009 – 2015


neopol-film-banner-2013-mark-2-work-white-plain-1.jpg neopol-film-banner-2013-mark-2-work-white-montage-1.jpg neopol-film-banner-2013-mark-2-work-white.jpg neopol film banner 2013 work white blue neopol film banner 2013 work neofilm-2012-banner-2012-350.jpg neofilm-banner-2011-2.jpg neofilm-banner.jpg


November 18, 2015




DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski

May contain spoilers!

Considered to be a masterpiece of not only 70’s cinema, but Cinema on the whole, Chinatown, Roman Polanski’s last film to be made in the U.S., is just that. Clearly serving as inspiration for what I consider to be a true and my film, L.A. Confidential (1997), even sharing the same composer, the late Jerry Goldsmith, this noir classic is a solidly written and elegantly directed interpretation of the California Water Wars, with William Mulholland being recast here as Noah (geddit?) Cross (John Huston).

The story is complex, layered and psychological, with more than a one viewing necessary to fully interpret and maybe even fully understand, but in the mean time, as with L.A. Confidential, you can just lap up the sharp script and the smooth characters as the final and disturbing revelations unfold.

Sex, rape, violence and intrigue dominate this tale of how water can be withheld from so many, as few men managed to monopolise the industry at the cost of farms and people, creating droughts by redirecting rivers and building dams in order to make millions, all this in the 1937 setting, where $10 million was a fortune.

Jack Nicholson is perfect in a role which could easily have been cast with Humphrey Bogart in his heyday, as is Faye Dunaway but John Huston’s classic, calculating a regal villain is underplayed to perfection, menacing yet warm without the cliché’s, in fact the same can be said for must of the cast in this regard, except for the general clichés of the noir genre.

The film is pitched perfectly, intelligent, deep and topical. The building of dams and stealing water is still very much an issue of today only it is not talked about nearly enough. But the detail of Robert Townes screenplay is wonderful, with layers of foreshadowing, dialogue developed for and by Jack Nicholson’s expert delivery and Polanski’s symbolism laden direction. The film is a case in its own right, just as Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006) is a magic trick about magic tricks.

But the legacy is clear. Almost from the opening scene, this is as much Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) as anything else,  yeah seriously and that explains why that film is so good too, as well as the more obvious L.A. Confidential. Two Neo-noir greats and it all starts here, in 1974.

A true masterpiece and a template of how to revisit film noir.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96 other followers