HThe Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Lily Cole, Verne Troyer, Andrew Garfield. Dir: Terry Gilliam.
Plummer is an immortal master of a portal to the imagination, but a deal with the devil could cost him his daughter. Quintessential Gilliam, the visuals have his dazzling individual touch, but the details of the plot are confusing and not always easy to comprehend. Multiple viewings may well help.
300 (2007) Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham. Dir: Zack Snyder.
300 brave Spartans go up against the demonic Persian army. A film that makes He-Man look profound. The action and violence is dazzlingly realised but quickly becomes monotonous and incessant. Fans of bad dialogue and big men in pants will get the most out of it.
Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, William Demarest. Dir: Preston Sturges.
A young soldier returning from the war is hailed as a hero, even though he was discharged before even shipping out. Smart and sharp comedy about the nature of hero worship. Fast paced and well performed, they just don’t make em like this anymore.
Nosferatu (1922) Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach. Dir: F.W. Murnau.
Legendary illegal adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic. Brilliantly realised with its sinister shadows and creepy sets, it may no longer terrify, but it’s striking scenes unforgettable. The gruesome depiction of the Count is refreshingly original, so far from today’s bland teenage bunch.
The Brides of Dracula (1960) Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur, David Peel. Dir: Terence Fisher.
Having vanquished Dracula, Van Helsing comes to the aid of a woman who is being pursued by a handsome vampire. One of Hammer’s best; well paced, with some good characters and a few nasty twists. Cushing is in particularly dynamic good form; only Lee is missing, Peel doesn’t cut it.
Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix (2007) Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Gary Oldman. Dir: David Yates.
As Voldemort gathers his forces, Harry is left persecuted from all corners and unable to fight. The most satisfying of the Potter films to date; the adaptation is superior, feeling less obviously paired down from a lengthier work. The darker themes are engaging, the characters strong and the finale impressive.
Macbeth (1948) Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy, Roddy McDowall. Dir: Orson Welles.
Shot in 3 weeks and for little money; Welles’ version is condensed, the speeches long but rushed through, making it hard to follow. Some of the acting is uneven. But the mist filled, foreboding sets and grim shadows give the film a sense of dark spectacle and power that is unmatched in other adaptations.