True Lies (1994) / D: James Cameron / 141m
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Art Malik, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov, Charlton Heston
Rating: 8/10 – spy Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger) must track down and thwart the plans of jihadists to detonate nuclear bombs on US soil – and keep it all secret from his unsuspecting wife (Curtis); even now, True Lies remains tremendous fun, even if it does get bogged down by its middle act domestic dramatics, and Cameron directs with his usual attention to detail and aptitude for kinetic energy.
The Queen of Versailles (2012) / D: Lauren Greenfield / 100m
With: Jaqueline Siegel, David Siegel, Richard Siegel, Marissa Gaspay, Victoria Siegel, Wendy Ponce
Rating: 7/10 – a look at the lives of self-made millionaire David Siegel and his wife Jaqueline, as their lives go from riches to rags thanks to the economic crisis in 2008; “how the other half lived” might be an appropriate subtitle for The Queen of Versailles, and the ways in which the Siegels try to deal with their reversal of fortune will bring a wry smile to viewers who aren’t millionaires, but ultimately this is a story about a couple for whom hardship means not being able to build their dream home: an enormous mansion that defies both taste and propriety.
Brighton Mob (2015) / D: Christian J. Hearn / 79m
Cast: Ray James, Max Day, Philip Montelli Poole, Stephen Forrest, Nick Moon, George Webster, Reuben Liburd, Amy Maynard
Rating: 2/10 – an inexperienced young policeman (James) is given the job of infiltrating a gang suspected of carrying out bank robberies across the South of England; a low-budget, amateurish effort, Brighton Mob features dreadful dialogue, awful acting, and the kind of direction that seems to have been carried out by someone who’s not actually watching any of the dailies.
Muffin Top: A Love Story (2014) / D: Cathryn Michon / 97m
Cast: Cathryn Michon, Diedrich Bader, Melissa Peterman, David Arquette, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Haylie Duff, Marcia Wallace, Gary Anthony Williams
Rating: 7/10 – when Suzanne (Michon) learns that her husband (Bader) is having an affair and wants a divorce, she goes on a voyage of personal discovery; with several pertinent (if obvious) points to make about self-esteem and body image, Muffin Top: A Love Story is a gently comedic, engaging movie that features an endearing performance from Michon, and doesn’t overdo its theme of female empowerment.
Lavalantula (2015) / D: Mike Mendez / 80m
Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Nia Peeples, Patrick Renna, Noah Hunt, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, Ralph Garman, Diana Hopper, Zac Goodspeed, Danny Woodburn, Time Winters
Rating: 4/10 – when volcanic activity strikes Los Angeles, it brings with it giant fire-breathing spiders, and only action movie hero Colton West (Guttenberg) can save the day; taking its cue from the Sharknado series’ combination of low-budget special effects and broad self-referential humour, Lavalantula is enjoyable enough if you just go with it, and benefits from having Mendez – who gave us the superior Big Ass Spider! (2013) – in the director’s chair.
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) / D: Elizabeth Banks / 115m
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Katey Sagal, Anna Camp, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Chrissie Fit, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Flula Borg, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks
Rating: 6/10 – after a show goes disastrously, embarrassingly wrong, the Barden Bellas are banned from competing in the US, but it doesn’t stop them from taking part in the World A Capella Championships and going up against the dominating Das Sound Machine; a predictable sequel that offers nothing new (other than a great cameo by Snoop Dogg), Pitch Perfect 2 will satisfy fans of the original but newcomers might wonder what all the fuss is about.
Bloody Mary 3D (2011) / D: Charlie Vaughn / 77m
Cast: Veronica Ricci, Derek Jameson, Alena Savostikova, Bear Badeaux, Shannon Bobo, Michael Simon, Natalie Pero, Ryan Barry McCarthy, Shawn C. Phillips, Shay Golden
Rating: 2/10 – the ghost of Mary Worth (Ricci) targets the makers of a music video when her name is invoked and she finds the reincarnation of the man who killed her is the video’s star; dire in the extreme, Bloody Mary 3D is the kind of low budget horror movie that gives low budget horror movies a bad name, and criminally, takes too much time out to showcase Jameson’s limited talents as a singer (and the 3D is awful as well).