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Manglehorn (2014) / D: David Gordon Green / 97m

Cast: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine, Chris Messina, Skylar Gasper

Manglehorn

Rating: 5/10 – in the wake of a failed romance that has left him heartbroken, locksmith A.J. Manglehorn (Pacino) decides to try again with bank teller Dawn (Hunter), but his personality puts obstacles in his way; despite the obvious talent involved, Manglehorn is a chore to sit through, as the character himself – as Dawn discovers – isn’t someone you want to spend too much time with.

The Brain (1962) / D: Freddie Francis / 83m

Cast: Anne Heywood, Peter van Eyck, Cecil Parker, Bernard Lee, Jeremy Spenser, Maxine Audley, Ellen Schwiers, Siegfried Lowitz, Hans Nielsen, Jack MacGowran, Miles Malleson, George A. Cooper

The Brain

Rating: 5/10 – a fatal plane crash sees a millionaire businessman’s brain kept alive by pioneering scientists, one of whom (van Eyck) finds himself searching for the person who caused the plane crash when the businessman’s brain communicates with him; an erratic sci-fi thriller that gets bogged down whenever it concentrates on the murder suspects, this adaptation of Curt Siodmak’s novel Donovan’s Brain has a great cast and a terrific premise, but is let down by Francis’ pedestrian direction and a style that wants to evoke film noir but can’t because the script hasn’t been written that way.

A Certain Justice (2014) / D: James Coyne, Giorgio Serafini / 96m

aka Puncture Wounds

Cast: Cung Le, Dolph Lundgren, Vinnie Jones, Briana Evigan, Gianni Capaldi, James C. Burns, Robert LaSardo, Jonathan Kowalsky, Sean O’Bryan, Eddie Rouse

A Certain Justice

Rating: 4/10 – Iraq veteran John Nguyen (Le) returns home and becomes embroiled in a fight against big-time drug dealer Hollis (Lundgren) when he saves a hooker (Evigan) from the violent attentions of Hollis’ men; as a showcase for Le, A Certain Justice works well enough, but this is still a muddled actioner that cuts narrative corners more often than it doesn’t, and sees Lundgren adopting a wig and ponytail that makes him look like an aging hippie instead of a menacing crime boss.

Woman on the Run (1950) / D: Norman Foster / 77m

Cast: Ann Sheridan, Dennis O’Keefe, Robert Keith, John Qualen, Frank Jenks, Ross Elliott, J. Farrell MacDonald, Victor Sen Yung, Steven Geray

Woman on the Run.jpg

Rating: 7/10 – when store window designer Frank Johnson (Elliott) witnesses a gangland execution he goes on the run, leaving his estranged wife (Sheridan), the police, and a persistent reporter (O’Keefe) trying to track him down before the killer does; a cleverly written film noir based on Sylvia Tate’s original story, Woman on the Run may have a misleading title but it features hard-boiled dialogue, bruised relationships, and atmospheric location work, all of which means the movie is an under-rated gem and deserves a wider audience.

The Battle at Apache Pass (1952) / D: George Sherman / 82m

Cast: John Lund, Jeff Chandler, Susan Cabot, Bruce Cowling, Beverly Tyler, Richard Egan, Jay Silverheels, John Hudson, Jack Elam, Regis Toomey

The Battle at Apache Pass

Rating: 6/10 – peace on the frontier with the Apache nation is threatened by the divisive tactics of Indian Affairs agent Neil Baylor (Cowling) and unsanctioned raids by Geronimo (Silverheels); based around two historical events – the Bascom Affair in 1861, and the title encounter in 1862 – The Battle at Apache Pass is an enjoyable Western featuring good location work in Monument Valley, beautiful photography, and Chandler (as Cochise) and Silverheels reprising their roles from Broken Arrow (1950).

The Phenom (2016) / D: Noah Buschel / 88m

Cast: Johnny Simmons, Ethan Hawke, Paul Giamatti, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Yul Vazquez, Louisa Krause, Paul Adelstein, Elizabeth Marvel, Marin Ireland

The Phenom

Rating: 5/10 – Hopper Gibson (Simmons) is a talented pitcher who has a shot at the big leagues but suffers a crisis of confidence, one that threatens his future; well acted but dour and uninviting, The Phenom plods along in such a low-key manner that some viewers may well decide they don’t care enough if Hopper overcomes his slump, and may also decide to watch something else instead.

A Place to Go (1964) / D: Basil Dearden / 86m

Cast: Rita Tushingham, Mike Sarne, Bernard Lee, Doris Hare, Barbara Ferris, John Slater, David Andrews, William Marlowe, Michael Wynne, Roy Kinnear

A Place to Go

Rating: 5/10 – an ambitious young man who wants to get away from Bethnal Green gets involved with a local racketeer (Slater) and a young woman (Tushingham) at the same time, and much to the consternation of his parents (Lee, Hare); a slice of life, East London style, this kitchen sink drama is enjoyable enough but is hampered by a dreadful performance by Sarne and some weak plotting, but still has enough to recommend it, particularly the (deliberately) sad sight of Lee’s character trying to impress as an escapologist.

Shadows on the Stairs (1941) / D: D. Ross Lederman / 64m

Cast: Frieda Inescort, Paul Cavanagh, Heather Angel, Bruce Lester, Miles Mander, Lumsden Hare, Turhan Bey, Charles Irwin, Phyllis Barry, Mary Field

Shadows on the Stairs

Rating: 4/10 – a killer strikes in a boarding house where everyone comes under suspicion; a leaden whodunnit shot in a pedestrian style, Shadows on the Stairs is typical of the period with its mix of drama, comic relief in the form of Hare and Irwin as bumbling policemen, romantic triangles, and occasional flashes of social comment, but it all adds up to a movie that betrays its stage origins at every turn.

Moonwalkers (2015) / D: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet / 107m

Cast: Rupert Grint, Ron Perlman, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Campbell-Moore, Tom Audenaert, Jay Benedict, James Cosmo, Eric Lampaert, Kevin Bishop, Erika Sainte

Moonwalkers

Rating: 4/10 – in 1969, the US military sends unstable CIA agent Kidman (Perlman) to London to contact Stanley Kubrick with an offer to film a mock moon landing (in case the real mission goes wrong) – but he ends up working with a would-be rock band manager (Grint) instead; uneven and often groan-inducing, Moonwalkers takes a great idea and tramples all over it with a mix of psychedelia, undercooked comedy and inappropriate violence, leaving just a few knowing nods and winks in relation to the period to provide anything of interest.

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