2021, the year to try to enjoy films again

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This is a blog that I have pondered putting together for some months now and a new year led me to think that now may well be the right time. I spend, probably too much, time on Social Media because I adore watching films and I like talking about them. My hope was that I would find many like minded people, on Twitter in particular. Twitter is a place where I have very few followers who know me personally so I could be somewhat anonymous, a wry stranger who would occasionally drop into a conversation uninvited and deliver a line of Shakespearean wit and then disappear, leaving the gang of merry tweeters to wonder who the humourous stranger was that had just interrupted their discussion on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Fortunately, there are many such people on Twitter, who find and take great comfort in this dazzling of artistic mediums. They generally appear to share my love and fascination with the World of Cinema, appreciating the beauty and skill involved in every frame of celluloid (or whatever the digital equivalent is). Films have always been about escapism, they have been a comfort blanket when the World has thrown crap in my general direction. “There are always movies” I would be heard to yell, after Liverpool got thumped at home, or a school exam had been failed brilliantly, or mum had decided tonight would be the night for the infamous fish pie.* Films were there to take the burden of life’s pressures from me. They were like a friend. If life appeared to be filled with excrement, stick on Back to the Future, watch Indy get chased down by a bolder, watch the Ghostbusters cross the streams, watch the three men sing the little lady to sleep with a rap song, within minutes the World would be right again.

Does anyone know the lyrics to the three men rap? (I love the song but  can't find the lyrics anywhere) - Three Men and a baby/Little Lady Answers  - Fanpop
Hey Mary, did you brush your teeth?

What I didn’t expect from my trips to Twitterland was to be encountered by the dark side. There is a popular # called #FilmTwitter which if you use at the start or end of one of your tweets will notify it to large parts of the film fan community on Twitter and hopefully start a fun conversation. However, what this hashtag does more often than not is similar to when that dude opens the puzzle box at the start of Hellraiser, it unleashes the Cenobite dwellers of Film Twitter. These are the people who hate everything, the people who’s childhoods have been ruined more times than those of us who used to watch every episode of Rolf’s Cartoon Time.

There is a more sinister side to the FilmTwitter dark troopers, and that is that their hatred now has a platform, and in most occasions a pseudonym or anonymous platform for them to spout their views. Now before I go any further, I am not for one minute suggesting that people are not allowed to dislike a film, or for that matter comment on it explaining why they don’t, of course they are. If everyone in the World liked the same things then it would be quite boring, however we would also probably be now onto Three Men and a gaggle of Great Grandkids (not sure that title would clear the censors but whatever).

The problem we have now is that people love a “like”, a “retweet” a “share”, it’s what makes the unpopular popular, and the best way to do that, is to launch into a film and let it (a piece of art designed to entertain, lest we forget) have it with two Uzi 9 millimeters.

There is an unfair phrase banded around that nobody hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans. This all came about after the release of Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII The Last Jedi in 2018. Now personally, I thought it was fantastic, and here is why. I thought it dared to be different, I thought it wanted to tell a new story, with familiar characters in a Universe that had from day one embraced diversity and shown that regardless of who or what you are you can become all you are meant to be. As Yoda famously uttered in Empire Strikes Back “judge me by my size do you?”. The online response to this film (again piece of art designed primarily to entertain) was quite frightening. Again, I must reiterate, you don’t have to like a film, whether that be Star Wars, Jaws or Police Academy 7, it is perfectly ok to not like a film. But this wasn’t a dislike, this was pure hatred.

Here comes that sinister side, I was mentioning earlier. Some people hated this film so much that they PAID to watch it several times just to build up the evidence, just to back up their arguments. I followed one Twitter user who knew The Last Jedi to the most finite detail, that can only be achieved by studying the film, like a scholar of Shakespeare would. He knew so much about this film, more than I (someone who loved it) hadn’t even noticed. He knew everything about it, and hated it. There was a teeny tiny part of me that admired his dedication to his loathing, but generally I actually felt quite sorry for him. Not because he didn’t like the film, like I said perfectly entitled to that, but he seemed to be dedicating every minute to attempting to destroy this film, with every bead of energy he could muster.

STAR WARS EPISODE 8: THE LAST JEDI – US Wall Movie Poster Print - 30cm x  43cm / 12 Inches x 17 Inches VIII: Amazon.co.uk: Kitchen & Home

Now obviously he was never going to succeed, he was a nameless faceless keyboard warrior, but he obviously felt it was important enough to him to do all of this. He launched an online petition (he wasn’t the only one) to get Episode VIII officially removed from the Star Wars cannon. This was pure dedication. The reason I felt sorry for him was, I couldn’t help thinking, what a waste of time and energy, why make yourself this miserable. Why not watch something you do like and put that amount of time and energy into promoting that film so that more people can see it? By constantly going on about Star Wars either in a positive or negative way you arouse the interest of people who are yet to see it.

The repetition doesn’t help either, there is always one joker who thinks, when asked which is his favourite of the 4 Indiana Jones, that they are the first person to come up with the not very witty response “pah, not sure what you mean there are only 3 films to me (smug face, smug face). Toxic fandoms, they achieve nothing. Actually that is not strictly true, crying, basement dwelling man babies managed to force Daisy Ridley and Kellie Marie Tran off social media, bleating on about ruined childhoods like some entitled toddler who has been told to turn Paw Patrol off as its past bedtime.

The other sinister side of Social Media is that there are films that no-one has even seen yet that are apparently awful. Steven Spielberg is due to release a re-imagination of West Side Story in December 2021 (delayed from 2020). This is a film that is designed for Twitter to tear it apart before even so much of a trailer has been seen.

So here is the thing. Lets make 2021 the year that we just get back to why we are interested in Movies in the first place, and that is to be entertained. We don’t need to think too deeply about them, they are there to take people away from their every day lives and offer some escapism. Yes of course they are there to make money and obviously there are a lot of films about social realism and other such issues, but they are still films and the primary aim is to entertain as an artform.

Think back to the first time you saw the Star Destroyer, engulf the big screen at the start of Star Wars, or when Marty realised what the serious shit he would experience at 88mph was, or when Sally inspired half the patrons in a New York deli to order what ever she was having, or when Cap heard a distant radio signal informing him that help was “on your left”.

Think about Donald O’Connor singing Make em’ Laugh, Harold Lloyd hanging precariously from a clock face, Charlie Chaplin making bread rolls dance, Mary Poppins inventing words like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or Michael telling Fredo that he knew it was him, or Red walking across the beach to meet Andy, or Brody’s realisation that a bigger boat was required, or Buzz flying with Woody in Toy Story, or Axel Foley disarming an unmarked Police car with a banana, and Ripley advising the Alien Queen to step away.

Making 'Em Laugh Till You Hurt - OZY | A Modern Media Company
To Infinity and Beyond: My love for Toy Story – Pop Cultural Studies
Does Jack Latvala keep falling for the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick so he  can be CFO?

These are all magic moments that have been revered for decades. We are now at a stage where we are not allowed to enjoy such things, because ultimately waxing lyrically about things doesn’t get any likes, or retweets, it doesn’t get any attention.

Movies are a wondrous thing, the artform of my generation. They give out hope, they give credible diverse roll models. It’s time to stop trying so hard to find fault and just let yourself go. Life is way to short to be this angry about everything.

If you are the sort of person who finds fault in most films, then my guess is that its not the films that are the problem……….it’s you.

Here’s to a wonderful year of Cinema in 2021. If you let it, it could be the best ever.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

*my mums is a phenomenal cook, just the fish pie really never again.


The magical Cinema

Cannon Bolton in Bolton, GB - Cinema Treasures

The rain was coming down heavier now, big old fat rain, the rain that only comes in the summer. The bus had gotten stuck in traffic, the film started in less than 10 minutes, with any luck I would only miss the adverts and trailers. The Bolton Cannon Cinema was showing Star Wars, the original cut as well, for the first time in over 30 years and it was for one night only. I half expected the queue to go half way back into town, like in the days pre-multiplex.

The traffic was not improving, so I decided to make a run for it. It couldn’t have been more than half a mile away. I begged the driver to let me off before the next stop, he grumpily agreed. The rain was lashing down now, I lept over lake size puddles, didn’t fancy sitting for 2 hours with soggy feet no matter how much I wanted to see the film.

I rounded the corner and there it was the old faithful, The Cannon Cinema in Bolton.

I was relieved but at the same time slightly surprised that there was no queue. Counting my luck I dashed into the foyer, checking my watch. I breathlessly stammered to the old man in the ticket office, “One for Star Wars please…….it hasn’t started has it?” With a wink and a smile that almost suggested don’t be silly we were waiting for you, the old man shook his head “No, you are just in time, go right in”.

I walked up the long dark enticing corridor and up a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs I was actually in the auditorium, with the beautifully imposing giant red curtain bathing the whole room with a glowing expectation. This was my heaven, but it was a strangely quiet heaven. In fact I was the only person in the room. Had I come to the wrong screen?

Before I had time to contemplate, the projector at the back of the room spluttered into life, launching a beam of God light across the cavernous room onto a ginormous red velvet curtain, which almost on queue parted like the the red sea, revealing a 30-45 foot Cinema screen. I moved to a red velvet chair and perched on the edge as the projector clicked into top gear. The familiar site of the Fox searchlight blazed onto the screen with the accompanying fanfare. The screen momentarily went dark and then the following appeared in light blue writing.

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away… | Level Up | by Chris White |  Geek Family Media | Medium

As if a giant fan powered by a thousand trumpets suddenly burst into life forcing me back into my chair the yellow stencilled logo of Star Wars shot across the screen.

  1. Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars Movie Posters | Original Vintage Movie Posters | FilmArt Gallery

As soon as the yellow Star Wars logo disappeared off into the galaxy followed by that oh so familiar yellow text backstory, I sat back into the chair in anticipation for one of the most seminal moments of my life. The following minute of big screen action would give birth to my lifelong addiction to Cinema. Tantive IV raced across the screen being attacked by an invisible foe. Of course it was only momentarily invisible as the old dusty theatre began to rumble and shake as the Imperial Star Destroyer loomed into view. This scene remains as breath-taking now as it was when first viewed as giddy child sat on a chair not too dissimilar to the one I was on now.

I was instantly transported back to my 5 year old self, giddy with excitement. I must have seen Star Wars 50 times. It was my go to VHS during damp School holidays, it was the stuff of my once fervent imagination. The time literally rushed by, I had subconsciously been mouthing along with the dialogue, I knew this film word for word. I had completely forgotten that I was on my own.

The film was approaching its conclusion, General Dondonna had just briefed the rebel troops for their impending attack on the Death Star, Luke and Han had exchanged words about how much the Rebels could use Han, but he had debts to pay off and to be honest the mission was purely a suicide one. Luke climbed into his X-Wing, put on his helmet and then, right on queue a black seat belt shot across my lap and fixed itself to the other side of the chair. Instantly a control panel appeared in front of me, I had a sudden feeling of plummeting through space.

“ARRGGHHHH” I yelled into the void

“Red 5 are you ok?” a voice came from within my headset

“Hello, who, what, Red 5…..me?” I jabbered frantically

“I just lost my starboard engine, get set up to start your attack run” the voice in my head said

“What the hell………I don’t know how to fly one of these things” before I knew it the X-Wing that I was somehow in control of plummeted at great speed and into an all too familiar trench. “Woahhhhh” I shouted as I grabbed the steering controls in front of me. I had two other fighters on either side of me, I assumed these to be Biggs and Wedge. I knew it wasn’t going to end well for either of them. A screen in front of me showed that enemy fighters were closing in. Wedge took a hit and had to bail out, going against the script slightly I didn’t tell him that was ok, if anything I thought it a little bit cowardly.

We carried on down the trench, Biggs was explaining that he would keep the fighters away from me long enough to do what I needed to do, which at this precise moment was desperately go to the toilet. Biggs inevitably met his doom in a shower of explosion. It was just me now, being chased by 3 imperial fighters, one of which was being piloted by a long lost family member maybe.

Without a clue what to do, I felt my time was up. Just then one of the three fighters exploded and a second one lost control and flew into a wall, at the same time knocking the middle guy, the leader spinning out into space. A voice came over the headset

“You’re all clear kid, now lets blow this thing and go home”

“Erm…….ok, er quick question, how do I do that? I asked

“What?” came the slightly put out reply

“Well you see I have never been in one of these things before, and there was very little training so I’m kind of just pleased I’m keeping it in a straight line at the moment”

After a long pause the voice said “Can’t you just use the force or some shit like that?

“Well, you see I was just watching a film and not really sure what is going on”

“You see that red button on the end of the steering wheel?”


“Just press it…..jeez”

I did what the voice told me to and sure enough two proton torpedoes fired out from the gun turrets of my X-Wing, I pulled back on the steering mechanism which lifted me out of the trench and back towards the deepest space. Behind me I heard (which is odd for Space) an enormous explosion that threw me back into my seat. At that precise moment I was back in the standard red velvet chair, Han and Luke were on screen receiving their medals, not sure why Luke was getting one, I’d done all the hard work. I always watch the end titles of any film I watch, I always have. I always thought it was important to look at every name, not just the stars, but every name of every person who had dedicated their time and dedication to making a piece of entertainment, designed to make people smile. All of these names belonged to individuals with greater talent than I could ever dream of.

2. Mary Poppins (1964)

See the Original 'Mary Poppins' and Have Hot Chocolate at Darien Library on  Wednesday, Dec 26 - DarieniteDarienite

Star Wars had finished the screen was now blank. I sat there is stunned silence. What had just happened? What was this place? I had heard of immersive cinema before, but had never been thrown so helplessly ill-prepared straight into the heart of the action. I had just flown an X-Wing, I had just destroyed the Death Star and this was no simulator, I had actually done it. Just as the enormity of it all started to hit me, the projector behind me began to splutter into life again, am I going to be thrown straight into the Empire Strikes Back, which would be partly cool, but also the thought of being attacked by a Wampa, crashing my X-Wing into a swamp or for that matter losing my right hand suddenly had me desperately needing the toilet again.

However it wasn’t the Empire Strikes Back, I was now facing a blue screen with the words Walt Disney presents, closely followed by the words Mary Poppins. Now Mary Poppins was another one of my favourite films growing up, however unlike Star Wars, I had to keep that a secret until I reached adulthood through fear of the playground beatings that come with such a revelation. It was a film that always reminded me of Christmas, probably because it was on BBC 1 every year throughout the 1980s. I had always loved the songs, and the mixture of live action and animation used to blow my mind as a kid (it still does to be honest).

With my experience of watching Star Wars very much fresh in my mind, I did start to wonder whether the same would happen again with Mary Poppins. Even if it did, there was nothing much to fear here surely, I could jump on a carousel if I had to, I would quite happily have a tea party on the ceiling if called upon. Nearly 90 mins and I still haven’t been called, maybe my Star Wars experience was just down to too much cheese before bedtime or some off meat in a sandwich I ate earlier, and I was actually just here to watch and enjoy.

We were now on the rooftops of London and Bert is currently dancing Stepping Time “wiv all iz pals”. Bert continuously shouts instruction to his jolly friends such as “over the rooftops, Step in Time” and his friends would dance over the rooftops. After a magical section of daredevil choreography, Bert approached the screen and shouted “Mary Poppins, Step in Time”. All the dancers on the screen stopped. Bert looking puzzled said again “Mary Poppins, Step in Time”, still nothing. “Come on Mary, Step in Time” – Bert lent a bit closer and through a forced smile and gritted teeth said “You’re holding the film up”. Oh shit. He’s talking to me, but he must be wrong I am a man, I don’t know how to dance, I looked down and saw I was wearing a red velvet floor length coat, covered in soot. I stood up and caught myself in a rooftop window. I was a woman, quite fit one actually, but that’s beside the point.

Mary Poppins | Comédie musicale, Ramoneur, Acteur disney

“Come on Mary, Step in Time” Bert urged, almost pleadingly.

“Its’s ok you carry on, I’ll just watch thanks” I sheepishly responded with a plum English accent that shocked me more than suddenly flying an X-Wing, and pulled away, but there was no getting away. Bert’s chimney sweep friends gathered around me and started their dance again, with me in the middle. I suddenly found myself tapping along, and before I knew I was kicking my knees up in perfect time, it was getting close to my crowning moment, the mid-air twirls, I was going to go for it, this was going to be brilliant. I launched into the twirls. In the film Mary spins at least a dozen times, I knew I could do better and proper went for it. On the 20th spin I started to feel a bit sick, I came crashing down to the rooftop but in fact I landed once again in the velvet chair. Bert and his pals took turns to waltz past the screen, each of them doffing their caps to me as they went by.

The film carried on as if nothing had happened. Dame Julie Andrews was now back on screen where I had moments earlier been. I was starting to think that I was having some sort of psychotic episode, but a strangely enjoyable one.

3. Raider of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark - Paddock Picturehouse

Mary flew away after the wind changed and Mr Banks had learned the lesson that it was more important to spend time with your kids and that money wasn’t everything, I tried to comprehend what had happened to me in the last couple of hours. Was I done now, was I free to go? I hoped not but also feared what would possibly appear next. I didn’t have to wait long. As if someone who knew me was orchestrating all of this from somewhere the Paramount logo appeared on the big screen and then dissolved into the actual mountain. I started to sweat, but it wasn’t a nervous sweat it was brought on by the incredibly heat I was now experiencing, there was a buzz of insects and in the distance the howls of monkey’s dominated the Cinema. Of course I wasn’t in the cinema was I, that’s right, I was in a Peruvian jungle, wearing a fedora with a bullwhip by my side.

Now under any normal circumstances being dressed as Indiana Jones would be awesome, but I wasn’t stood in my living room anymore or in the father/son fancy dress competition at the work summer fair (he was Short Round). I was stood in the Peruvian jungle in front of a rather cobweb filled temple with my rather useless and even more treacherous colleague Satipo. I let out a huge puff of the cheeks. “Ok then lets do this” I reluctantly say and trudged through the entrance.

Satipo stops me to inform that a couple of large spiders are on my back “Ah well, you just wait till you see what is on your back” I inform him with a touch of snark. True to form he turns to realise he has the entire cast of Arachnophobia crawling his personage. We approach the beam of light. I should let him walk into it really as the conniving git is only going to stitch me up later anyway. I’m nice, I don’t do that. We swing across the gap and enter the chamber with the golden idol at the end. Satipo doesn’t know what I know and assumes there is nothing to fear here. Now according to the script I’m supposed to stop him, but sod it

“Yeah go ahead, fetch the gold statue for me”. Satipo gives me a look that suggests I’m not supposed to say that.

“Are you sure Senor?”

“Yeah, it be right” I respond.

Reluctantly Satipo sets off. Two steps in he triggers the booby trap and smack, a poison dart straight through his face.

“Oh dear, nevermind” I say to his lifeless body “I’ll go get it”. Balancing carefully along the cracks I reached the altar and carefully replace the idol with a handy bag of sand that I seemed to suddenly have on me. As the temple begins to slowly implode, i dash through the chamber dodging the poison darts, leap over the chasm and slide under the slowly closing door. I get under the door a bit too easily so I quickly throw the whip through again just so I can swiftly retrieve it before the door crashes to the ground. I have a little giggle at how cool all of this is.

It was at that point that the rocks above my head started to shift, of course the rolling bolder, again the first thought was, this is very cool, I’ll run away from it but maybe throw in a little stumble along the way. Then I thought, these Hovitos are genius’s getting that thing to stay up there in the World’s most elaborate booby trap. However I really should have just got on with it. The bolder was there heading right for me. It was actually a lot faster than it looked. “Oh shit” I turned and pegged it as fast as I could but it was constantly catching me, this was going to be close. I saw the cave entrance and dived full length through a cloud of cobwebs and landed at the feet of the seriously pissed off Hovitos. However I wasn’t at their feet, in fact I was now face down on the floor of the Cinema.

Gathering my bearings I turned to look at the big screen as Indy, now in the more suitable guise of Harrison Ford was heading across the field, with the Hovitos in hot pursuit, yelling to his friend Jack to start the engine. I climbed back into the seat, as Indy’s adventures played out in front of me. A feeling of exhiliration swept through me. A few hours ago, I had blown up the Death Star, danced on a London rooftop with a bunch of chimney sweeps and had now just been Indiana Jones. I never wanted this to end. Talk about your best day ever.

4. Toy Story 3 (2010)

Toy Story 3: The Gang's All Here (Video 2010) - IMDb

As the Ark of the Covenant is wheeled away to be looked after by “top men” I relax in my seat. I should be tired but I’m anything but, I am packed full of nervous tension, what will happen next? I didn’t have to wait long.

Oh fantastic, the Disney castle had just appeared on the screen, but hang on, whatever this is, how am i going to be transported into it. The familiar blue sky with white ice cream clouds appears, it’s Toy Story 3, one of the finest films of the past decade. Script perfection and narrative storytelling has never seemed so effortless, its a work of wonder from the start. The film progresses along at a steady rate, but we are approaching the films climax and I have not been transported yet, then I start to develop an uneasy feeling, I take a quick glance around the Cinema, quickly turn to the screen and shout, to no-one in particular

“the furnace scene!”

I could hear a creaking above me, I looked up at the cavernous ceiling just as a large metal object crashed down onto my face. All was dark, all was quiet, I could still hear the film playing in the background. Slinky Dog was calling out Buzz’s name, he strangely seemed to be getting closer. Then I felt somebody pulling my hands and I slid out from underneath whatever it was (turns out it was a big TV) that had pinned me and came face to face with red haired cowgirl Jesse.

“Buzz are you ok?”

There you go I was Buzz Lightyear and I was in the trash conveyor belt. As we approached the metal crusher at the end of the conveyor belt the call to grab something magnetic to rise to the magnified ceiling went up. Quickly grabbing a discarded lunch box I shot to the ceiling with my new friends. Of course the complete tosser of a bear Lotso abandoned us as we headed straight for the furnace. As the conveyor belt reached it summit we toppled into the mass of discarded metal and headed slowly towards our fiery grave. Despite our best efforts, the game was up, this was it. My friend Woody reached across and grabbed my arm, we shared a moment, a moment of friendship, a moment of togetherness.

I have always fancied the idea of being a writer, but never in my wildest imagination could I possibly write anything with the emotional wallop of what was happening to me now. My plastic arm was starting to gently bubble as we edged ever closer to the PIXAR equivalent of Dante’s Inferno.

As the impending doom approached, a saviour from above arrived as the claw from heaven reached into the down and plucked us all to safety.

I was soon back in my chair. I had just been a cartoon character, bizarrely this one had felt the most real. As the end titles played across the screen, I finally began to feel exhaustion consume me, both physically and mentally.

As the PIXAR lamp jumped across the screen for one final time, the red curtain cruised across the screen and the house lights came on.

5. Avengers Endgame (2019)

Avengers Endgame POSTER Glossy Premium Borderless Movie Poster of Various  Sizes (POSTER - A2 size 23.4 x 16.5 Inch / 594 x 420 mm, Endgame (V1)):  Amazon.co.uk: Kitchen & Home

I collected my thoughts and headed out towards the foyer which was now in total darkness, there was an orange glow coming through the glass square on the front door to the cinema, the smell of destruction wafted through the main door which appeared now to be hanging on by the edge of its hinges. As I approached the door, those hinges gave up the fight and door crashed to the floor.

The rain had stopped, that was for sure, but where the building opposite once stood was the remains of it, reduced to a pile of rubble, with the four corners still sticking out of the ground. In front of me I can see the scorched remains of those corners flames still licking the sides of them the sky is filled with thick dense smoke. What the hell has happened here?

The ground began to shake as a figure approached from within the smog. A giant of a man at least 10 feet tall, he had a bald head and a chin that resembled a purple nutsack. As the giant came into view, i realised that he was not alone. Appearing alongside him was hundreds, no actually thousands of extras, all of whom looked like they didn’t want to ask me any questions, just to tear me apart. I was severely outnumbered, the coward in me suggested I just turned around and run back into the Cinema. The coward won, I turned with the sole intention of sprinting back in to the Cinema, closing the door and hiding under my completely inadequate red velvet chair. Small problem, when I turned round the Cinema had gone, replaced by, you guessed it a huge pile of rubble.

I turned back to look at my soon to be arriving assailant, he was getting close. I suddenly heard a strange gust of wind, out of the corner of my eye I saw something hurtling towards me at great speed, it was coming right for my face. I instinctively put up my hand, with a clanging thump I caught the steel handle of a very familiar hammer. Purple guy was still edging closer to me, as were his hoardes of angry followers. My first thought was “there is something awfully familiar about all of this”. That thought was interrupted by a radio signal that simply said four words “Captain…….on your left”.

To the left of me a bright orange portal appeared, sparking into life like a Catherine Wheel on Bonfire Night. From within it walked T’Challa, Black Panther in all his regal glory flanked by Okoye and Shuri. Over head, strangely accompanied by Alan Silvestri’s rousing score flew Falcon. More and more of the Portals began to appear, heroes were appearing to help me against the purple gonad who was facing me. Spiderman, Dr Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Antman, Zammo from Grange Hill and the entire cast of Rentaghost all arrived in a blaze of glory. Within moments an army had formed that was a match for the opposition. The musical score had reached its climax, there was only one thing left to do. As once again the familiar hammer flew straight towards me, I called all to arms

“Avengers!!!” – thump the hammer landed perfectly in my grasp……..

This blog has been written as part of the “Five-Films Forever” blogathon challenge, created by the brilliant Claire Packer owner of the Cinematic Delights blog page https://cinematicdelights.com/

More details on the Blogathon can be found here:

Claire can be found on Twitter as @C_Packer (https://twitter.com/C_Packer) and catch her reviews at https://letterboxd.com/C_Packer/

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

The Spielberg Top 10: Best Opening Scenes.

To grab an audience you have to start well, all the great films pull the audience in, you could argue that you need to grab them in the first 5 minutes or people may lose interest. Like writing, if I waffle on too long you won’t read the rest so without further blathering, here is my personal TOP 10 opening scenes in Steven Spielberg directed movies.

10. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

Steven Spielberg Provides An Update on the Second Tintin Film ...

Spielberg’s first foray into the world of motion capture is occasionally forgotten when discussions around Spielberg’s most dynamic films arise. Unfairly labelled by some as an animated Indiana Jones film, The Adventures of Tintin packs enough of an individual punch with scenes of audacity bravado as to clearly stand on it’s own two feet. None more so then this cracking opening tracking shot as the camera follows the mischievous Aristidis Silk through an outdoor market. Shot largely from the ground up the camera stops on a street artist painting a portrait of a young man who’s back is to us. On completion the Artist shows his finished article, it’s Tintin as familiarised in Herge’s collection of stories. It’s the first of a number of lovely moments in a vastly underrated film.

9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

That Moment in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977): First ...

“Are we the first?…Are we the first to arrive?” Yes, I annoyingly shout this whenever I go to a friends or family members house for dinner etc, in my head it never gets old, however some of the invites have dried up over the years.

The opening scene of Close Encounters is packed full of mystery and red herrings (see the headlights come out of the dust) and sets the scene perfectly for the wonders that are to come. Subtle and made with practical effects, it hooks the audience straight into the story. Where did these planes come from? Why does the old man claim the sun came out at night and sang to him? Great stuff.

8. Always (1989)

Opening scene to the Steven Spielberg film, “Always” (1989) - YouTube

A very brief moment here in one of Spielberg’s least appreciated films, but it is a moment of perfectly dexterous showmanship. Two sleepy fisherman whiling the hours away when in the background, entering the shot from above a seaplane making an unexpected landing. The plane disturbs the fishermen from their slumber but it’s breaking system doesn’t seem to be helping much. The camera stays transfixed as the plane stealthily approaches the stricken boat with its panicked occupants and just as the we the audience grip the corners of our seats as the Fishing boat is about to be made into two the plane lifts off, tickling the tops of the heads of the fishermen, who duly make a swift exit into the lake. You can watch the whole wondrous 55 seconds here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upPHSDqj5x0

7. Munich (2005)

Munich (Part 1) - YouTube

Changing tone completely now, we have one of Spielberg’s most controversial films, Munich. Starting with opening titles that tell us “the following is based on real events” we are greeted by a group of men trying to scale a fence outside the Munich Olympic village. They are given a helping hand by a group of unwitting American athletes, all the while John Williams, tense heart beat of a score pounds away in the background and Janusz Kaminski’s bleak cinematography creates an atmosphere of incredible unease. We are then thrown into the middle of the terrorism plot as we watch them change clothes, load up their weapons and move to their targets apartments. It is nerve shredding tension that never lets up in the two and half hour running time that is perhaps Spielberg’s best kept secret.

6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Fun with Franchises: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989 ...

Who doesn’t love a good origin story? Who loves them even more when they last no more than 10 minutes? Indiana Jones’s third adventure is just a fantastic film, it really is, it’s packed full of laughs, family bonding and adventure. None more so than this opening salvo that returns Indy to his childhood as a Boy Scout. The casting of Sean Connery is often talked about as a stroke of genius by Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas but do not underestimate the casting of the late River Phoenix as a younger version of Harrison Ford. His screen time may be very short but that introduction of the character, including the origins of his fear of snakes and the famous scar on his chin is beautifully put together.

I could have quite easily included all four Indiana Jones films opening scenes in this top 10 as they all start with a bang in one way or another, but I plumped for Last Crusade (and spoiler alert one other) because it gives Indy a little bit of backstory, and 10 minutes in we are already grinning from ear to ear.

5. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan: 21 facts you didn't know? Mel Gibson was ...

I know what you are thinking, FIFTH???? Well, it’s only so low because strictly speaking it’s not the opening scene, which of course is the old man (who I won’t name in case hasn’t seen it yet) visiting the war cemetery.

Taking 25 days to shoot with over 1000 extras the Omaha Beach landing is the most visceral attack on the senses. With no accompanying score the audience are asked to dodge the bullets and mortars and they come whistling across the soundwaves as we catch glimpses of limbs being blown off, men being incinerated, men being mowed down by relentless machine guns. We want to look away, we want it to be over but we don’t.

Personally the for me, Spielberg’s greatest achievement with this scene is making the audience realise that these were not trained killers, they were ordinary men sent into an extraordinary/hellish world to try to defend their freedom. That first 25 minute is one hell of a History lesson and one that should never be dismissed as just entertainment.

4. Jaws (1975)

Top 10 Movie Opening Sequences | Some Films and Stuff

Dur-dum………Dur-dum……..Dur-dum. Ok if you’ve never seen Jaws, then why are you reading this blog? No only kidding, but if you’ve never seen Jaws you have been stood next to a body of water, where somebody, usually your dad has made the Dur-dum sound, and you know what that means, that your dad is implying there is a man eating shark in that water. It’s universal, it’s know globally, that’s the brilliance of it.

Now on the face of it, who wouldn’t take Chrissie up on her offer for a touch of skinny dipping, fortunately for Tom Cassidy, too many sherbet lemons meant that he missed out on a night time sea based frolic and Bruce therefore had to waltz in the waves with Chrissie alone, albeit a tad aggressively.

A lot of the success of Jaws was down to onset mechanical failures, proving once and for all that the things you can’t see are far scarier than those that you can, and this opening scene continues to terrify to this very day. A real stomper.

3. Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies Film Locations - [otsoNY.com]

I make no secret of my love of Bridge of Spies, I think it is a piece of immaculate film making that demonstrates that classical methods can still be effective. In an almost dialogue free game of cat and mouse the opening 10 minutes of Bridge of Spies, is a lesson in meticulousness and attention to detail that can be sadly lacking in the current age of quick cut superhero dominated cinema.

There is a quiet assurance on display here, a calmness to Mark Rylance that embodies his performance throughout. It’s one of Spielberg’s quieter opening scenes but it’s massively effective, who is the man? Why are they after him? It’s a quite wonderful opening to a wonderful film.

2. Minority Report (2002)

MINORITY REPORT (2002) - The Arrest of Howard Marks - YouTube

How do you explain a rather tricky concept to an audience without overdoing the exposition? Simple, show the entire process from start to finish in one nail biting, ass kicking 12 minute opening salvo. It worth pointing out that as slick as Spielberg is here, this is another Janusz Kaminski masterpiece. The saturated grey and blue tinge adds to the cold atmosphere of a man going through the personal turmoil of watching his life unravel as his adulterous wife is locked in the arms of her suave lover. Meanwhile, Det Anderson (Tom Cruise) pieces together the future crime, almost in balletic fashion as Schubert’s No8 Unfinished Symphony plays dauntingly over the action.

As the time ticks by we know already they are against the clock to prevent the crime, we are totally engaged from the get go. The arrival at the street the Mark’s live on a moment of pure beauty as the pre-crime officers descend on zip-wires onto the lush, green, parkland. The slight delay whilst Anderton confirms that Howard left the door open all add to the palatable tension.

It truly is a most wonderfully choreographed scene, it’s Spielberg at his most playful.

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Long-lost Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark footage found on ...

Quite possibly the greatest opening of any film, never mind a Spielberg film. It’s quite difficult to imagine now, but coming off the back of the disappointing 1941, Raiders of the Lost Ark was considered a huge gamble by the studios involved. The Wonderkid had come unstuck with the commercial and critical failure of 1941. In order to start to rebuild his reputation, Spielberg has claimed that he has never been so prepared to make a film as he was for Raiders. Every scene had a storyboard, every minute detail was planned in advance, this film had to come in on budget and on schedule. He achieved both, with scene after scene of perfect action and adventure.

The opening scene has got everything, thrill, spills, gore even humour, note Indy’s face when he grabs the branch to prevent himself from falling into the Abyss, only for the branch to slightly give way, this was no superhero, this is was an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation etc.

If filmed today, this scene would have been edited within an inch of it’s life, imagine if you will Michael Bay shooting this opening scene, but thankfully Spielberg allows the scares and the claustrophobia to prevail, Douglas Slocombe’s cinematography and Norman Reynolds stunning production design instantly transports the audience into this hellish, booby trap ridden cavern.

Then the crowning glory, the rolling boulder, pure genius. The brilliance of Raiders is that as breathtakingly stunning this opening sequence is, it doesn’t peak here and keeps going for the next 100 or so minutes. The opening sequence isn’t even my favourite in the movie, I reserve that for the truck chase, but this is Spielberg at his most prepared, at his most free, at his most playful, he is here to entertain and boy does he ever. What a way to introduce you to one of Cinema’s most iconic heroes.

I dedicate this blog to commemorate the sad loss of Allen Daviau 14/6/42 – 15/4/20 – a true Spielberg legend in every way.

About me

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4 year old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of  A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH

You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com

The case of two dusty roads

In preparation for the (at time of writing) December 2020 release of Steven Spielberg’s 33rd feature as Director, West Side Story, I have decided to attempt to put some more Spielberg blogs together. I have previously written about how Spielberg’s films, themes and styles changed thorough each of the last 5 decades, you can read some of those here if you wish.

Interestingly enough, I thought one of the few advantages of quarantine would be I could watch more films and write more about them, this hasn’t been the case so far, as looking after easily bored kids take priority when I’m not doing my day job. I am however, the newly crowned house champion at Monopoly and Uno, although I’m trailing in last place in Twister due to being the most inflexible man on Earth.

Anyway onto the blogs, I like the idea of doing a series of Top 10 blogs based around Spielberg, so that is what I will be working on, however, to get me back into the swing of things, a more standard essay on Spielberg’s first two Cinematic films (in Europe at least) Duel and The Sugarland Express.

Both films are road movies, both feature scenes of desperation, one is a no-holds barred, seat of the edge thriller, the other, based on real events, is a story of divided families, mistrust, and a reckless pursuit of potentially unattainable goals.

If we take a look at Duel first, a battle of good against evil, a tale of triumph over considerable adversity, it is the story of man versus technical beast, as Dennis Weaver’s wimpish salesman, David Mann (that’s M.A.N.N) Duel’s the unstoppable, pollution spewing oil tanker, with it’s anonymous driver, culminating with one of them succumbing to a gear crunching, metal- scraping end. That is the simple premise and Duel, originally made and released in the US as a TV movie of the week, never needs to delve any deeper than that, just hold on and with a complete lack of pretension and pointless subplot, Duel just gets on with it. Imagine if you will the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a half hour short and you get the idea

The Sugarland Express on the other hand, allows almost begrudgingly a little bit of character introduction and development. We meet Lou Jean Poplin, an almost annoying Goldie Hawn, as she helps her very slappable husband Clovis, played with particular mardiness by the always watchable and sleaze inducing William Atherton, break out of a minimum security prison to go and reclaim their baby son who has been taken into foster care due to the inept couples various indiscretions. En route they steal a car from the fantastic Mr and Mrs Nocker and kidnap and hold hostage Police Officer Maxwell Slide. The problem with the Poplins, and this is one of Sugarland’s Achilles heals, is that they are very difficult to root for, they are not very nice people and watching it now we are on the side of the authorities.

What characterises both as Spielberg films is a sense of isolation, in Sugarland’s case from Officer Slide, here the latest incarnation of the normal everyday guy caught in extraordinary situations, a staple of Spielberg films that has continued through his entire back catalogue. Both Slide and Mann are caught in situations that neither prepared for and both to a certain extent, (especially Mann) are being toyed with by protagonists and in the case of the Slide in particular, are being used as a bargaining chip to greater goals.

Mann and Slide also share a redemptive journey, they both prove to themselves that they are more than the bookish worms that they start out at the start of the film, again another trait that graces Spielberg work for generations to come, such as Brody overcoming his fear of the water, or Dr Grant embracing his responsibility of surrogate parenting. Don’t forget both Brody and Grant could have left the impending chaos to the experts but choose not to.

Early on in Duel we eavesdrop on a phone call between Mann and his wife, who is haranguing him for not standing up for her whilst being harassed at a party the previous evening, asking Mann to be more manly. Note here how Spielberg point his camera slightly away from Mann whilst he is being berated. We are embarrassed for him, in the way when you can listen into an argument on a bus or a cafe, here Spielberg utilises his favourite shape to help hide the fact that we are listening in.

The Haunted Closet: Spielberg's Duel (1971) and The Incredible ...
We eavesdrop in the hope that he doesn’t notice

So the simple question I always ask myself when watching Duel is, why does he not just turn round? Why does he continue on this path into danger? I feel the answer lies in the fact that David Mann has never stood up to any challenge in his life, this is his chance to prove himself, pass this ridiculous test of manhood.

Likewise, there are a number of opportunities where Slide could have escaped his captives, but over time he starts to bond with them and almost develops a sentimental attachment to them, even though there were numerous occasion where as driver of the car he could have changed the course of the narrative.

From a direction point of view we have Spielberg desperately trying to showcase his abilities, Duel is insanely flashy movie, with Spielberg using every camera trick that he has in his arsenal, from close up tight shots of the petrified Mann to extravagant belong shots of Mann’s car screeching to a terrified stop as viewed from the under carriage of the trucks beast like belly.

Duel (1971)
The Long shot of isolation, a tale of man against beast

Likewise Sugarland contains a wondrous moment midway through when Spielberg produces a tracking shot through two moving vehicles including dialogue between both vehicles. Its a beautiful shot that once again showcases the young directors sheer dexterity with the camera.

Sugarland Express, The - Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns ...
The dazzling 360 degree camera shot in Sugarland

What also dominates both films, and is in fact a rarely mentioned theme that runs through Spielbergs work in the 1970s in particular, is the Director’s almost disdain for the locals. In both Duel and Sugarland the general American public are almost looked down upon as redneck hicks, who have low IQs and are less that warm and welcoming to strangers. You can also throw in the local fishermen in Jaws and the white trash hill dwellers who Roy Neary of all people, looks down upon in Close Encounters.

Imgur: The magic of the Internet
Low IQ Locals in early Spieberg films

In one of Duel’s most captivating scenes, Mann is sat in cafe trying to figure out who the mysterious driver of the truck might be. In Mann’s head everyone is a suspect, he looks down on these people, he trusts no one, he has an air of superiority to him, he spells out RYE to the waitress in the cafe to ensure she gets his very simple lunch order correct. He ends up confronting a man simply because of the way he dresses.

In Sugarland, we have the previously mentioned Nockers who are easily hoodwinked by the Poplins, who are hardly the greatest of con artists. Add to this Buster Daniels the drunkard who Slide is taking home before he is accosted by the Poplins. What follows is a stream of incompetence from the strong arm of the law to local shopkeepers and townsfolk, who are never portrayed as being too high on the social scale.

The scoring of both films follows similar traits, with John Williams’s whimsical first Spielberg score captures the isolation and open highways in Sugarland perfectly, whereas Billy Goldenberg’s Hermann esq score perfectly adds to the tension and fear of Duel. Goldenberg’s score can be found in its glory on the following link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjEcmWvcmjY

All the Spielberg hallmarks are in both of these films as he hones his craft to enable him to move onto bigger things. What happened next propelled him almost by accident into the stratosphere, but what we witness in these two fraternal films, is a young Director packed full of self belief, something that almost 50 years later is still going strong.

The tragedy of Rebso and the wait for a Jedi

The Emperor's New Score: The Story of the Return of the Jedi Music

Several months ago I wrote a blog about my earliest experiences of Cinema and the way it changed my life forever, feel free to read it here. That was a tale about the wonders of seeing a film called Star Wars and its sequel the Empire Strikes Back in this cavernous dark room on a screen the size of a football pitch. It had changed my life and given me the love of cinema that has never left me 37 years later.

I wouldn’t say I became a Cineaste straight away, I was only 5 years old at the time, but the seeds had been sown and the excitement of walking down the plush carpet corridor of any screen room has never left me, the thrill of seeing that giant screen even today is one of my happiest sights, even if the following 2 hours or so don’t always live up to the wondrous promise.

What was certain, I was now obsessed with all things Star Wars. This is a blog post about how Star Wars fuelled my imagination as a kid, made wet School holidays bearable and the indescribable pain of having to wait see the latest installment.

Star Wars was my life growing up, a classic case of good vs evil. In the 1980s, ITV would occasionally show Star Wars on a Sunday night and it was a big event, it was as important as Cup Final day, sure to be talked about at School the following day, not just by pupils but by the teachers as well. I always remember our headmaster at primary school doing an assembly on the diversity of Star Wars and how characters like Chewbacca were generally just accepted for who they were and how Yoda, diminutive in size, was a giant of ability and self belief.

It was everywhere in the 1980s , every little glimpse in a magazine or on a poster was enough to send a tingle of excitement through me. Star Wars figures were all the rage, not just the figure itself but the back of the packaging had an indexed role-call of all the figures available. A handy little Christmas list that could be left in places where Fr Christmas would easily be able to take note.

I used to spend hours pouring over this small piece of card admiring the ones that I owned and dreaming of the ones that would hopefully arrive the next time those reindeers “jingled all the way”. It even made the weekly shopping trips with Mum to ASDA bearable as she would just dump my brother and I in the toy isle where we would just stare at the rows of figures, desperately practicing our puppy dog eyes so that when Mum returned we could convince her that Luke Skywalker in Bespin Fatigues (number 46) was worth £1.99 of anyone’s money.

Image result for Star Wars figures on the back of figures

Of course this was the 1980s, there were no games consoles (not that I’ve personally ever been interested), we did have a ZX Spectrum which would take 3 days just to load up one game, so during wet school holidays there was only one thing for it, it was time to build Star Wars bases. My brother and I would lay all the figures out on the carpet and take it turns to pick one each at a time until all were gone. It was similar to the way you picked players for the School playground football matches. It was sadly always the same ones who got picked last.

Anyway, embracing the diversity of the Star Wars universe we mixed all Rebels and Imperials together, we were not going to let political nonsense get in the way of us building a true battalion. We both had our favourites, I always had to have the AT-AT driver (number 30 on the above card) and the Rebel Commando (number 7) and my brother always had Bib Fortuna (6) and Nien Numb (13). Strangely Ben Obi Wan Kenobi always seemed to be left until last, I blame the annoying and cumbersome plastic cape that meant he couldn’t sit or do anything. Once the “teams” were picked we set off to separate parts of the house to construct our bases, this was the best bit. I always had the stairs and the under stairs area and my brother would have the TV cabinet and lounge window and armchair.

The bannister of the staircase was made with white circular spindles which the gaps between made for excellent sentry posts. My sentry’s would be made up of a diverse collection of characters, there was always a biker scout, possibly an Imperial Royal Guard and for the element of surprise General Madine possibly borrowing Han Solo’s Endor coat as a cunning disguise.

On one occasion I tied a piece of string around one of the spindles and attached the other end around the neck of Rebel Soldier (number 62) and let him swing down to attack enemy troops if they ever breached the defenses I was assembling on the back of the sofa. In fact, and this is actually quite difficult to type, but my Rebel Soldier actually came to a tragic end. I took him outside for a mission one hot sunny day and attached him to a small plastic carrier bag (now 10p at Tesco). The idea was that I would throw the Rebel Soldier up into the air and as Gravity did its worst, as he plummeted towards the Earth the air would inflate the bag creating a parachute that Rebel Soldier could float down to Earth and attack the enemy. Rebso (as I affectionately called him) had completed several successful missions and was about to return to base when out of the corner of his eye, he spied a pesky Gamorreon Guard among the Begonias. He had to attack, that was his job, but we weren’t set up for another mission yet, but Rebso only had the safety of the team in his head, that’s the kind of guy he was. He launched himself before we were set. The parachute was tangled around his legs………..it was twisted………..it wouldn’t inflate. He reached the apex of his flight and hung momentarily in the air before that old git Gravity swept in. Rebso turned in mid air to give me a metaphorical thumbs up but then plummeted. It’s ok, its Rebso he will have a plan, the parachute will unfurl I thought……….no it didn’t. Rebso tumbelled towards the ground, wrapped in this plastic death blanket……worse still he was heading away from the flowerbeds and to the hard concrete. I can still hear the thud of plastic on stone. We found Rebso’s decapitated body lying on the floor next to his own severed head, witnesses say that he had no name, I told everyone…….i know his name. RIP Rebso.

It wasn’t just the figures that we picked at random, the spaceships also went through the ignominy of having to wait to hear their name called out. There was 2 big ones, the Falcon, always mine, or the Rebel Transporter, which my brother was quite happy to have. Then came the smaller short range fighters, there was an X-Wing, a Tie-Fighter (with detachable wings) and a Y-Wing which was the coolest of the toys. My brother got the Y-Wing, small compensation for never having the Falcon and I took the X-Wing. We would take one wing each of the Tie Fighter to create a shield bunker at our bases and leave the circular pilot pod as a neutral ground bunker (usually somewhere near the coffee table).

Once the bases were constructed and each figure had been fully debriefed on what their role was to be in the upcoming battle, we would invite each other for a friendly look round each others bases. I would always be impressed by my brothers ingenuity of hiding a Stormtrooper in the ginger jar on top of the TV and how the fireplace now resembled a fortress of impregnability. He too would note admiringly how the falcon had been submerged by an old car blanket creating the element of surprise if we were pinned back to the edge of our lair. I had come up with unusual subplots for some of my characters and I would run through these with my brother before the battle so he understood. For example, Lando Calrissian (in Skiff guard disguise) would mutate into Chewbacca (Hulk style) if he was cornered. I always loved characters that metamorphosed in stories and always felt Star Wars lacked that, so I made my own.

So after all the pleasantry’s it was time for battle, however, it never really ever was time for battle. We realised that the creation of these bases and finding all these hidden places to hide figures and spaceships was the main fun. The actual battles themselves were rather limp affairs, a couple of laps of the lounge with the Millenium Falcon firing laser cannons at my brothers base, he would counter attack with a stealth Y-Wing mission, but neither of our hearts were really in it as we didn’t want to destroy what each of us had spent most of the afternoon preparing. We were always saved by the intergalactic “tea’s ready” holler from the Empress of the Universe herself, Mum. It is with deep regret that the majority of figures are long gone now, sold at various car boot sales for a pittance when I was a moody “too cool for Star Wars” teenager. One survived, just, my now silver C3PO who lost an arm in battle still makes his annual appearance as an unexpected guest in my Mum’s nativity scene each Christmas. Apparently I thought there didn’t seem enough people witnessing the birth of Jesus so I added him to the throng, and as a result every year since you can find him hanging out with the shepherds and kings.

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I have two other Star Wars related childhood memories that will never leave me. The first was Christmas 1984, the height of Star Wars toy mania and one of the happiest times of my childhood. Now we weren’t particularly rich as a family but we certainly weren’t poor and we always did pretty well out of Christmas, but 1984 took it to the max, I still don’t know how Fr Christmas managed to get everything on the sleigh and in my room. Now the tradition in our house was for all mine and my brothers presents to be spread out across our shared room so that when we woke up we would be greeted, hopefully, with a room of wonders. The presents weren’t wrapped which in a way made it all the more magical.

Picture the scene, 3am 25/12/1984, my older brother switches on the big bedroom light, oh Lord have mercy. I was 7 at the time and you cannot comprehend as an adult that pure unadulterated feeling of happiness. To the left of my bed was a brand new sparkling white BMX with blood red tyres and handlebars grips. At the end of my bed, balanced rather precariously was the mighty Lego Castle, my brother had the equally impressive Lego technique car which once built had literally blew the minds of every visiting child for the next 3 years with its moving parts.

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Image result for Lego technic car 1980s

Lined up alongside the lego boxes were 5 Star Wars figures each, obviously still in boxes. These were merely the aperitif to the piece de resistance that was sat to the right of my bed – a Millenium Falcon in box with strangely French writing, a lot of kids had these, I guess as Fr Christmas visits England after France he had some left over.

Image result for Millennium Falcon in French Box

This was it, I never needed anything again, ever, to coin a term used by young folk these days, I was living my best life. I was the luckiest boy in the whole world and I will never forget that feeling. My brother had the Rebel Transporter so he was happy. The room was finished off with a collection of other goodies, some chocolates, NOW that’s what I call Music 3 on vinyl, we’d got NOW 1 the Christmas before and we had kind of already become obsessed with the NOW universe. There was also a selection of books, one in particular stood out from the rest.

Image result for St Michael Return of the Jedi story book

As mentioned earlier and in a previous blog, my first real experience of Cinema was a Star Wars / Empire Strikes Back double bill, which had changed my life, simultaneously introducing me to the thrilling world of Star Wars and the even larger world of Cinema. So when in the summer of 1983 Return of the Jedi came out of light speed at the local picture house, my 6 year old self was as giddy as a, well 6 year old schoolboy quite frankly. The snag was that my parents were not major Cinema goers and we didn’t go. Everyone went to see that film………..we didn’t. It wasn’t even mentioned. I perhaps wouldn’t have minded so much but to rub salt into those particular coarse injuries, my dad worked just around the corner from the Cinema and walked past it twice a day on his daily commute, so he must have known about it. Besides he was clearly on the phone to Fr Christmas on a regular basis, ” Yes St Nick, its these space toys, I’ve no idea where they are from”. So I had to wait. The second part of this predicament was that we didn’t have a video player in 1983, or 1984, or 1985 for that matter, in fact we didn’t get a video player until November 1987. That was four and a half years since its release, an absolute lifetime when you are that age and have no concept of time to compare it against. I seemed to be the only one of my friends who hadn’t seen it. They would tease me with mini-spoilers such as Luke does a somersault on a floating boat, Yoda is in it, Lando becomes the coolest dude in all the Galaxy etc. I collected the Topps Return of the Jedi sticker album that gave hints of some of the action, but it was the St Michael book that acted as my visual trailer into the film. I read that book cover to cover several times. It depicted the action of the film in vivid detail, culminating in Vader’s redemption and the victory of the Rebels at the Battle of Endor. It described in detail Luke’s removal of Vaders mask to reveal in the words of the book “eyes filled with love”. Cleverly the book didn’t show a picture of Sebastian Shaw in Vader regalia so I was left to my own imagination to picture what this battle scarred face would look like. It became my main aim in life to see that face with its “eyes filled with love”.

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So November 1987 arrived and dad had bought us our first ever video player, a MATSUI from Curry’s. It was amazing, I remember recording Grange Hill, Zammo, Ziggy et al. That Christmas I recorded Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which was the big BBC Christmas Day blockbuster movie, the following day ITV showed Ghostbusters, again recorded, this time with my brother carefully pausing the recording during the adverts, but there was only one film I was interested in committing to VCR that Christmas and that was on ITV on New Years Day 1988, it was Star Wars. I recorded it and as soon as it finished I ripped out the little black square on the corner of the tape that would prevent anyone recording over it. I finally owned Star Wars, I could watch it whenever I wanted, and oh boy, I sure did. At this point I still hadn’t seen Jedi and even the events of Empire were beginning to fade from my young memory.

Then it happened one night in Spring 1988, completely out of the blue. It was a Friday night, my dad came home from work and called me into the kitchen. I remember him distinctly saying “Hey, I wondered if you wanted to watch this tonight”. He pulled from within his coat a yellow Bolton Library video case. Bolton Library never rented videos in their original boxes, they always placed the tapes into their own branded boxes, it was probably to stop people nicking the original video box covers. I reached out for the yellow box, shaking with nervous anticipation, I cracked it open, and there it was in all its glory Return of the Jedi on VHS.

The next half hour was a bit of a blur, I seem to remember running upstairs and putting on my pyjamas, even though it was only 4:30, I put on my dressing gown and Mr T slippers and went and sat in my favourite chair with the video queued up. Tea was no longer required, we had to watch this and right now. The lights were dimmed and the oh so familiar “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…….” appeared on the screen like a reassuring friend. Then BOOM the yellow STAR WARS logo shot across the screen and off into the star filled distance. The rising from the bottom of the screen was the oh so familiar yellow font, but the words were different. It said Episode VI for a start the RETURN OF THE JEDI. From that moment I knew I was in love with a piece of video tape.

The film was everything I hoped for, the first act set in Jabba’s Palace, a suitable upgrade to Episode 4s Mos Eisley cantina, then a brief stop with our old friend Yoda, who brought the audience up to speed with a quick recap of the main events of Empire, before taking a well earned rest. Then the film for me really came into its own. The three way battle, on the ground on Endor with the Ewoks (loved them then, still love them now), in Space, as Super awesome Lando leads the rebel attack, ably assisted by Nien Numb and the imperious trap fearing Admiral Ackbar, and finally in the confines of the Emperor’s throne room as Luke, Vader and the Emperor embarked on the World’s weirdest job interview. I still wonder to this day how the BBFC gave Jedi a U certificate, I still shudder when the Emperor electrocutes Luke. This was a genuinely terrifying moment for a child to watch.

Finally we get to the moment I had waited for ever since I first read the St Michael story book, Luke was to remove Vader’s mask. Up to the very last minute I wondered what it would look like. There was even a slight tease as Luke removed the back of the helmet, delaying the moment for a few more tantalising seconds, then Luke unhooked the face part of the mask and with a low hiss there he was. Despite the deep scars and the top part of his head basically missing, St Michael had got it right, the eyes were filled with love, the characterisation had been described perfectly, it was not a disappointment. There were a few moments for me to take it all in, there he was the man behind the mask. Within seconds I was snapped out of it as Wedge Antilles went for the power regulator and announced to Lando that he was already on his way out. Of all the “punch the air” moments I’ve witnessed in my life, right up there with George McFly knocking out Biff in Back to the Future, is the Millenium Falcon blasting through the fireball at the exhaust port of the Death Star. “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAA” yelled Lando, as did we all.

In those days you could rent videos for the whole weekend for about £3. I think I watched Return of the Jedi about 8 times over that weekend and cried when we had to take it back. It still holds a very special place in my heart and is probably my favourite Star Wars film. My kids continue to be ignored when, everytime we drive past or walk through a forest I speculate loudly “Hey I bet there’s Ewoks in here”, I follow this with an embarassing dad “Be chuahaha” in perfect Ewok tongue.

As a rather bizarre postscript that following summer whilst holidaying in France, I was thrilled to see that the campsite we were staying on in Britanny was showing the Empire Strikes Back. Without any hesitation I took my seat at the front of the games room and it started. It was in French but I didn’t care, I was seeing it practically for the first time, i could follow it well enough. A few weeks later after returning back to England, I rented it from Bolton Video Library and watched it back to back all weekend. Oh Star Wars, what a time to be a kid.

Dominic Holder

A film fanatic father of three who writes to promote the beauty and wonders of Cinema. I am a huge fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Disney, Marvel and anything that allows you to escape from the pressures of everyday life for a couple of hours. I believe that Cinema is a source of well-being and good for people. I consider it a privilege to witness the gifts and work of the thousands of film makers and collaborators who work tirelessly to provide us with films that main purpose is to entertain.

Huge thanks to Rob and the team at the Bearded Trio http://www.thebeardedtrio.com for all their support with this blog. They kindly published the above at https://www.thebeardedtrio.com/2019/10/the-tragedy-of-rebso-and-wait-for-jedi.html

The Spielberg Awards

Hi folks, following on from my look at Spielberg through the last 5 decades, blogs that can be found on the following links 2010s 2000s 1990s 1980s 1970s I decided to have a light-hearted look at his films and launch the first and no doubt last annual award ceremony, imaginatively titled “The Spielbergs”.

First up was the Spielberg World Cup where I asked the good people of Twitter to vote in the first round, which consisted of 8 groups of 4 with the top 2 progressing to the Quarter finals, for which the top 2 from 4 groups progressed to the semi-finals and the top 2 from each group produced a final 4 for a climactic battle. Each round was randomly drawn by my 7-year-old daughter so there was no danger of letting my own favourites gaining any advantage. Please note as creater of these polls I was not eligible to vote

Group 1 

Close Encounters 46% 
Saving Private Ryan 33%
Catch Me If You Can 17%
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - 4%
142 votes cast

Catch Me If You Can was an early casualty if drawn in a different group it may well have progressed. The fact it got 17% in such company was a testimony to its appeal. The top 2 were always going to progress here, Crystal Skull was merely making up the numbers.

Group 2

E.T - 72%
Minority Report - 17%
Bridge of Spies - 7%
The Post - 4% 
208 votes cast

A clear favourite going into this one as the result showed. These are 4 exceptional films but I think a lack of familiarity with  Bridge of Spies and The Post saw them score lowly. When the draw was made I thought this would be a tight group……..I was wrong

Group 3 – 

Jaws - 69%
Hook - 13%
Munich - 10%
The Lost World - 8%

162 votes cast
There was only going to be one winner in this group so the intrigue would be who would grab second among three of Spielberg’s more divisive films. Family panto fun triumphed over controversial revenge thriller……but only just.
Group 4
Duel - 36%
The Terminal - 32%
The Color Purple - 23%
Amistad - 9%
174 votes cast
This was a group that allowed some of the more unfancied films to shine and it turned into quite a close contest. With 23% The Color Purple would have progressed in most of the other groups.
Sorry to see Amistad doing so poorly. Very underrated. @TheLoneWolf68
Group 5 – 
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - 54%
War of the Worlds - 22%
The Adventures of Tintin - 19%
Always - 5%
170 votes cast

It was all action and adventure in Group 5. It could be argued that Temple of Doom got a lucky draw here but over 50% of the vote can’t be wrong. Good showing for Tintin here I feel.

Group 6 – 

Jurassic Park - 87%
War Horse - 6%
The BFG - 5%
Sugarland Express - 2%
149 votes cast

The biggest first-round margin of victory was hardly a surprise. A great battle for 2nd place though.

Group 7 – 

Raiders of the Lost Ark - 66%
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 27%
Empire of the Sun - 6%
1941 - 1%
166 votes cast

Tough draw for Empire here, it surely would have done better in a different group. The battle of the Jones’s would be an indicator of how the tournament would progress. Also worth acknowledging the one person who voted for 1941, good for you, whoever you are 🙂

People need to give Empire some love!, it’s one of his best! @smurfman75

Group 8 – 

Schindler's List - 64%
Ready Player One - 18%
Lincoln - 10%
A.I - 8%
148 votes cast

Whereas Schindler’s List’s progression to the quarter-finals was always likely, Ready Player One’s 2nd place ahead of Lincoln was perhaps the surprise of the first round.


Group 1 –  

Raiders of the Lost Ark - 53%
E.T - 38%
War of the Worlds - 6%
Ready Player One - 3%
104 votes cast

The top 2 were never really in doubt from the get-go but what might be a surprise to some is how far ahead of E.T Raiders was.

Ready Player One is Spielberg’s worst film!, and he hasn’t had many. @smurfman75

Group 2 –

Jaws - 57%
Schindlers List - 23%
Saving Private Ryan - 18%
Duel - 2%
115 votes cast

This is the dictionary definition of the “Group of Death”. Blame the 7-year-old, not me. Saving Private Ryan is the most high-profile exit of the quarterfinals and surely would have progressed in less prestigious company. Even Duel would have fancied its chances of at least as second place in the next group.

This is why polls are inherently fraught with unintentional bias. You really cannot compare any film with Schindler’s List. @CinemaPhileTX

Group 3

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 67%
Hook - 13%
War Horse - 11%
The Terminal - 9%
97 votes cast

Hook will have annoyed some Spielberg aficionados making it to the semi-finals ahead of films such as Saving Private Ryan, but to coin a famous sporting cliche, you can only beat what is in front of you.


Group 4

Jurassic Park - 49%
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - 28%
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - 15%
Minority Report - 8%
123 votes cast

Similar to the first round another strong Jurassic performance, this time in much more esteemed company, Close Encounters in its second tough draw continues to hold its own, whilst Temple of Doom and Minority Report had to settle for making up the numbers here.

Argh! Toughest one. How can anyone choose between temple of doom and close encounters? @patrickdeudon

Close Encounters every time…For me of course – Rob @thebeardedtrio


At this stage of the competition I had in my mind the 4 films that would progress to the final, regardless of the draw, I was wrong and quite shocked if honest.

Group 1

E.T - 31%
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 30%
Schindler's List - 21%
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - 18%
311 votes cast

You could argue that Indiana Jones has a larger fanbase than Schindler’s List but with over 300 votes cast, you would have thought that Schindler’s, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest pieces of modern cinema would have pulled through. At this stage, though we really are splitting hairs, as all 4 are wondrous pieces of filmmaking

That was tough between close encounters and last crusade but I have to give it to last crusade. By far the best Indy movie and even though I love close encounters… Connery+Ford=gold. @RoadRaider3

How can you separate these…its the Sophies Choice of the movie world @filmbuffbaker

Look forward to the second group. If Jaws, Jurassic Park and Raiders are in the final, there’s no way I can choose. May have to close my eyes and just blind tap. @BoxOfficeBeyond

Group 2

Jaws - 41%
Raiders of the Lost Ark - 29%
Jurassic Park - 25%
Hook - 5%
367 votes cast

The battle of the franchises saw Jurassic Park fall at the last hurdle. Jaw’s margin of victory coupled with a potential split vote for Indiana Jones fans in the final, surely meant that Jaws went into the final as the clear favourite. Hook’s fun ride to the semi’s predictably ended there.

Where did you get the nerve to ask such impossible questions???@OakAyling

Raiders-not only his best, but THE best. In. Tha. World. @BossyToo


Raiders of the Lost Ark - 35%
Jaws - 32%
E.T - 22%
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 11%
313 votes cast

So the winner is…….Raiders of the Lost Ark. The final four demonstrated what I have always suspected that Spielberg fans have tremendous taste. The split vote didn’t happen and Raiders just pipped Jaws to the grand prize.

Arrrghh!!! This is so hard. Jaws….No! Raiders….No….Yes…No…Arrghhh! Voted for Jaws in the end. It gets my vote, just. Don’t put me through that again. I feel like I’ve cheated on the other three now. – Rob @thebeardedtrio 

My decision for ‘Raiders’ is in part totally subjective (in the mid 1980s, I made a Super8 short film with a couple of friends and was having the time of my life). The other part is the brilliant cast & perfect Spielberg mix made of adventure, action, suspense, awe and humor. @SpielbergChron

Image result for Raiders of  the Lost Ark

Following on from the World Cup which crowned everyone’s favourite Archaeology teacher’s first screen adventure as the Greatest Spielberg Film, I decided to run a few more polls to answer the questions about Spielberg films that quite frankly nobody had ever contemplated or felt the need to ask.

Twitter limits every poll to 4 options, which means that I had to leave some strong contenders out of some of the categories, some of them even caused me to have sleepless nights as names popped into my head that I hadn’t even considered. This was never more apparent than in this first category

Best supporting actor in a Spielberg film

Image result for Robert Shaw Jaws Robert Shaw Jaws 58%

Related image Sean Connery Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 19%

Image result for christopher walken catch me if you can Christopher Walken Catch Me If You Can 17%

Image result for tommy lee jones lincoln Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln 6%

Robert Shaw’s cantankerous old sea dog has always been a Spielberg favourite. On reflection, the four men above would have been all worthy winners, but just take a look at some of the outstanding men I left out/forgot about before the poll was launched. Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies, Anthony Hopkins Amistad, Robert MacNaughton E.T, Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park, and perhaps the most glaring oversight Ralph Fiennes in Schindlers List.

This could be close.. and in this short of race, there’s no shilver medal for finishing shecond..!@_ThatFilmGeek_

Best supporting actress in a Spielberg film


Image result for drew barrymore e.t Drew Barrymore E.T 41%

Image result for teri garr close encounters third kind Teri Garr Close Encounters of the Third Kind 25%

Image result for samantha morton minority report Samantha Morton Minority Report 19%

Image result for margaret avery color purple Margaret Avery The Color Purple 15%

In E.T Drew Barrymore gives the impression that she doesn’t even realise she is in a film. The story is happening around her the childlike wonder she displays is reflected in the emotion that the audience goes through. Teri Garr is possibly the standout performance in Close Encounters as the doubting Thomas figure who is presumably left to explain all of this to the three children. Its great to see both Samantha Morton and Margaret Avery score reasonable percentages in two breathtaking performances.

Not the four performances I would’ve chosen to represent this category, I don’t think. But from this group I guess it’s got to be Garr. Drew comes close, though. Great performance at that age. @853_OKG

Whilst we are looking at acting performances, let’s see what you voted as best lead performances

Best Performance by a Leading Actress

Image result for whoopi goldberg color purple Whoopi Goldberg The Color Purple 48%

Related image Meryl Streep The Post 24%

Image result for goldie hawn sugarland express Goldie Hawn The Sugarland Express 14%

Image result for holly hunter always Holly Hunter Always 14%

All 4 of these women would have been a worthy winner here but what a delightful surprise to see Whoopi Goldberg’s astonishing debut get the lion’s share of the vote in this category. As for the “overrated” Meryl, she can do no wrong in my eyes, Goldie Hawn “Aw shucks” her way through Sugarland Express and Holly Hunter is beyond adorable and by quite some distance the best thing about Always.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor

Image result for daniel day lewis lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln 52%

Image result for richard dreyfuss close encounters Richard Dreyfuss Close Encounters of the Third Kind 36%

Image result for tom hanks saving private ryan Tom Hanks Saving Private Ryan 12%

Image result for eric bana munich Eric Bana Munich 0% 😦

When putting these polls together I anticipated that Day-Lewis would win regardless of who I put him up against and I was proved correct with his powerhouse performance as America’s 16th president. Dreyfuss treads the line between excitable and maniacal in Close Encounters, whereas Hanks probably gives the most human performance out of the nominees. Spare a thought for Eric Bana who didn’t receive a single vote which is massively unfair as he is the very heart and soul of Munich, one Spielberg film that requires further reflection. Also just outside the top 4 were the likes of Liam Neeson in Schindler’s List, Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds, Hanks for The Terminal and even Henry Thomas for E.T, but more about him next.

Best performance by a child in a Spielberg film

Image result for henry thomas et Henry Thomas E.T 51%

Image result for christian bale empire of the sun Christian Bale Empire of the Sun 38%

Image result for dakota fanning war of the worlds Dakota Fanning War of the Worlds 8%

Image result for ruby barnhill the bfg Ruby Barnhill The BFG 3%

The best child performance in a Spielberg film is Haley Joel Osment (A.I.), but out of the four you chose to highlight, I’d go with Henry Thomas.  

Out of all the categories I ran, I had more comments over who I had left out than any other category. The opinion from @ViverdeCinema was just many who claimed the Haley Joel Osment should have been on this list. I could have also quite easily had had Drew Barrymore and Robert MacNaughton from E.T, Jonathan Ke Quan from Temple of Doom, Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello from Jurassic Park, or how about Carey Guffey who played Barry in Close Encounters. Spielberg’s ability to bring out very believable performances from youngsters is all too apparent. Out of the 4 I did go for, Henry Thomas is the standout. His performance, in my opinion, is right up there with the very best from any actor in a Spielberg film.

Ok, lets now take a look at the bad guys.

Best non-human villain

Image result for shark from jaws “Bruce” the Shark from Jaws 39%

Image result for t-rex from jurassic park T-Rex from Jurassic Park 23%

Image result for velociraptor from jurassic park Velociraptor from Jurassic Park 19%

Image result for truck from duel The Truck from Duel 19%

One of the more closely fought contests, with “Bruce” proving once and for all that things that don’t work quite as they should are actually terrifying. The iconic T-Rex turns in some ways, from monster to hero by the end of Jurassic Park but she wouldn’t thank you for saying that. The sinister Raptors probably scored less than the T-Rex because nobody likes clever clogs. As for the truck, well it can rest in the knowledge that without it there probably wouldn’t have been any of the others and I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog (stop cheering at the back).

Most despicable Human villain

Image result for amon goeth schindler Amon Goeth Schindler’s List 88%

Image result for captain hook hook Captain Hook Hook 6%

Image result for sorrento ready player one Sorrento Ready Player One 3%

Image result for mola ram Mola Ram Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 3%

The biggest “winner” in any category voted on, as its widely regarded as one of the biggest bastards in history was realistically portrayed in Schindler’s List. Fiennes depiction of pure evil was so accurate that when survivor Mila Pfefferberg was introduced to Ralph Fiennes on the set, she began shaking uncontrollably, as he reminded her too much of the real Amon Goeth.

as is terrible, he has no redeeming qualities at all! He’s pure evil, and unfortunately ‘s depiction is historically accurate… 

After that bunch of evildoers, I wanted to take a more light-hearted look at some of Spielberg’s characters.

Most slappable character in a Spielberg film

Image result for ray winstone crystal skull Mac Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 56%

Image result for willie scott temple of doom Willie Scott Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 32%

Image result for clovis sugarland express Clovis The Sugarland Express 8%

Image result for hollis p wood 1941 Hollis P Wood 1941 4%

Ok firstly in the case of 2 of these I am not criticising the performance, as I think Kate Capshaw is fantastic in Temple of Doom, also William Atherton in Sugarland gives an early precursor to future whiny slimeballs that we see in Ghostbusters and Die Hard, just that their characters are so frustrating as in need of a good wedgie. Ray Winstone plays the same character in EVERYTHING and the last thing Indiana Jones is a cockney gangster who one-half suspects is going to break the fourth wall and give me the latest odds on whether Indy is likely to get out of his next tight spot. As for Slim Pickens in 1941, well to say he is the loudest and most annoying person in 1941 pretty much says it all about what I think of him in that film.

Hollis P Wood? Slim Pickens? Slappable? NO! He’s one of my favorite characters in 1941.

If we want to slap the four above which of the following females makes us want to punch the air with their stunning exploits

Most kickass female character in a Spielberg film

Image result for marion raiders of the lost ark Marion Raiders of the Lost Ark 60%

Image result for dr sattler jurassic park Dr. Sattler Jurassic Park 20%

Image result for artemis ready player one Art3mis Ready Player One 10%

Image result for sarah harding jurassic Sarah Harding The Lost World 4%

Marion from Raiders has long been a fans favourite but I am still surprised how large her winning margin was against Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park who for my money is the ultimate Spielberg action hero, smart, witty with an edge of vulnerability that prevents her from requiring a cape.

No contest. Marion. Hands down. @kkcorby14

I’m now going to take a look at the moments that make Spielberg, well, Spielberg, starting with scenes that shook us to our core.

Most harrowing scene in a Spielberg film

Image result for liquidation of ghetto schindler's list Liquidation of Ghetto Schindler’s List 48%

Image result for omaha beach saving private ryan Omaha Beach Saving Private Ryan 39%

Image result for monica abandons david a.i Monica abandons David A.I 13%

Image result for amistad boat scene thrown overboard Below the deck Amistad 0%

A close run thing here between the two World War Two epics. The thing with all four of the scenes listed above, the viewer wishes to turn away from the screen but we can’t. On Omaha Beach we feel that we are in amongst the battle, ducking to avoid the bullets and shrapnel heading our way. The liquidation of the Ghetto is a different type of desperation, we want to help, we want to know why the cameraman isn’t stopping to help, can’t they see what is happening, why are they filming this? Monica abandoning David perhaps hits home more to parents, especially those who have dropped a screaming child off at nursery, but in this film, there is no glass of milk and a Spot the Dog story to pacify David, and we know Monica is not coming back 4 hours later to collect. As for Amistad receiving 0%, well it’s possibly the most brutal scene of the lot but the least relatable hence the zero votes.

So the flip side to the most harrowing, what is the most wondrous scene.

Most Wondrous Scene in a Spielberg film

Image result for mothership lands close encounters Mothership lands Close Encounters 34%

Image result for raiders of the lost ark opening scene Opening scene Raiders of the Lost Ark 31%

Image result for t rex attack jurassic park T-Rex attack Jurassic Park 20%

Image result for dolly zoom scene jaws Alex Kittner beach scene Jaws 15%

So with this one, I was looking for the scene that best epitomizes Spielberg and his films and as you can see it was a very close contest. For me, the last 30 minutes of Close Encounters is the finest piece of Cinema ever put together, whereas the opening of Raiders is possibly the finest opening to any film. The T-Rex attack has Spielberg at his most terrifying and the Alex Kittner scene in Jaws is the dictionary definition of the slow build, littered with red herrings and exquisite camera work.

It’s the Kitner scene, the way he draws u in to different characters who u believe will be the sharks next victim is brilliant!. The zoom in shot on Brody, splashing of water, and the final death of Alex who so happened to be wearing red which stood out but no one noticed @smurfman75

If those scenes were breathtaking, I wanted to know if there was one particular image that stood out as the most iconic in a Spielberg film.

Most iconic image in a Spielberg film

Image result for e.t fly past moon E.T and Elliot fly past the moon E.T 75%

Image result for The Aliens arrive Close encounter The orange doorway Close Encounters of the Third Kind 10%

Image result for red coat schindler's list The girl in the red coat Schindler’s List 8%

Image result for jurassic park glasses of water The glasses of water Jurassic Park 7%

All four images are instantly recognisable and emotive for very different reasons. Nothing captures that feeling of childlike wonder and amazement, however, than E.T and Elliot flying past the moon, it’s debatable whether there is a more iconic image in the history of cinema.

I’m now going to take a look at some of the very familiar faces who have appeared in Spielberg films who have either gone on to bigger and better things or already had achieved monumental things before appearing in a Spielberg film.

Best before they were famous performance in a Spielberg film

Image result for oprah winfrey color purple Oprah Winfrey The Color Purple 54%

Related image Samuel L Jackson Jurassic Park 33%

Image result for benedict cumberbatch war horse Benedict Cumberbatch War Horse 11%

Image result for ben stiller empire of the sun Ben Stiller Empire of the Sun 2%

Samuel L Jackson was a successful actor before Jurassic Park having starred in Menace to Society, Coming to America and Goodfellas but this pre- Pulp Fiction starrer as the chain-smoking technician Arnold was the first time he really put a stamp on a film. It’s sometimes easy to forget how good a performance Oprah gives in the Color Purple. Here the majority of you seem to agree.

I love Cumberbatch in that film but I gotta go with Oprah. @kkcorby14

Best after they were famous performance in a Spielberg film

Image result for richard attenborough jurassic park Richard Attenborough Jurassic Park 51%

Related image Francois Truffaut Close Encounters 32%

Image result for audrey hepburn always Audrey Hepburn Always 15%

Image result for michael lonsdale munich Michael Lonsdale Munich 2%

Big winner here for Richard Attenborough who played the often misinterpreted genius, John Hammond. Spielberg spoke about his nervousness of working with one of his heroes in Truffaut in Close Encounters but Truffaut is the audiences representative in this film with his sense of wide-eyed wonder and excitement. The stunt casting of Audrey Hepburn pays off with a charming little cameo in Always and ex-Bond villain Michael Lonsdale add a certain gravitas to Munich

Can’t measure with existing technology how fabulous Truffaut was for CE3K. His demeanor, his sense of wonder … so essential! ~P @Sibling_Cinema

Next up I want to take a look at his possibly misunderstood or lesser known films

Most derided Spielberg film which is actually pretty good and deserves a second chance.

Related image A.I Artificial Intelligence 40%

Image result for hook poster Hook 34%

Image result for indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull movie poster Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 15%

Image result for 1941 movie poster 1941 11%

There was actually quite a lot of love shown to each of these films, they all obviously have fans, but they do also have a number of critics. There is no doubt in my mind that A.I is a stunning piece of work and should be respected by a much wider audience. Hook is a lot of fun and is great family entertainment, Crystal Skull is seen by many as the biggest disappointment in Spielberg’s career but that could be down to expectation more than anything else. As for 1941, well 11% are willing to stick up for it………good for you 🙂

if anyone says AI is bad, they have zero knowledge of filmmaking. AI is immortal! @CinemaPhileTX

Hook, A.I. Crystal Skull all could easily be deserving of this vote. But A.I. is a truly incredible movie that is criminally underrated. It gets my vote. @853_OKG

Best Spielberg film that nobody has seen but really should

Image result for always movie poster Always 30%

Image result for The Terminal movie poster The Terminal 26%

Image result for Amistad movie poster Amistad 25%

Image result for Sugarland Express movie poster The Sugarland Express 19%

Another close run contest this one. I am very fond of all of these movies and they should all be seen by a wider audience as each one tells a very different story of Spielberg’s career at the particular point of which they were made. In my opinion, The Terminal, in particular, is a charming film that was a rare lighter effort from Spielberg in a post Millenium decade where he was at his darkest

I voted Always. Saw it years ago when it first came out but had forgotten much about it. Rewatched on the recommendation of a friend and it was lovely and heartwarming. Holly Hunter was terrific. @kkcorby14

All are great films but Amistad is also important. A message that resounds especially today. @aillsley3

I’m now going to take a look at the sounds that we remember from Spielberg films by giving out awards for the best one-liner and the best music score

Best One-Liner

Image result for you're gonna need a bigger boat “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” Jaws 62%

Image result for life finds a way jurassic park quote “Life uh finds a way” Jurassic Park 23%

Image result for She talks in her sleep Indiana Jones quote “She talks in her sleep” IJ and the Last Crusade 15%

Image result for would it help bridge of spies “Would it help?” Bridge of Spies 0%

The often misquoted “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” was always going to win this one and to be fair why the hell not, it’s almost as iconic as the film itself. Ian Malcolm’s realisation in Jurassic Park is the culmination of one of the finest scripted scenes in a Spielberg film. Connery’s piece of perfect improvisation is possibly my favourite line ever and as for the 0% Bridge of Spies quote, well hopefully longevity will see this line immortalised in time to come.

Best Score

Image result for jaws theme sheet music Jaws main theme 37%

Image result for welcome to jurassic park sheet music Welcome to Jurassic Park 29%

Image result for the raiders march sheet music The Raiders March 24%

Image result for e.t flying theme sheet music E.T Flying theme 10%

I have to be honest I would be lost without the music of John Williams in my life. I listen to it daily, it has got me through some tough times, I feel it is a privilege that I am able to hear such wondrous music. It truly is a part of the cinematic experience. I want all readers to imagine for a moment what Elliot and E.T flying past the moon would be like without the music. Williams’s music has almost at times become a character in some of the movies, never more so than when his two-note motif in Jaws still to this day can send a shiver up the spine of all potential ocean paddlers, more than a malfunctioning rubber shark could ever want to.

I’d say Jaws. For me personally, I was familiar with the idea of a dorsal fin above the water accompanied by “daa dum” long before I had seen Jaws and even before I knew who John Williams was! I’d know a lot of other people who’d say the same thing. @JWilliams_Fan

Personally, Jurassic Park’s main theme gives the chills everytime. Raiders theme means pure adventure, but Jaws is the most iconic simply due to how pervasive it has been. People that haven’t even seen Jaws know it. It’s been used in endless parodies etc. @BoxOfficeBeyond

My final category involves a group of people who most people who have read this far will know the name but maybe not the face.

Spielberg’s unsung hero

Image result for michael kahn editor Michael Kahn Editor 39%

Image result for kathleen kennedy Kathleen Kennedy Producer 22%

Image result for janusz kaminski Janusz Kaminski Cinematography 22%

Image result for kate capshaw Kate Capshaw Wife 17%

All 4 of the above have played an integral part in the career of Steven Spielberg. He would possibly be half the filmmaker without one or more of them offering guidance and support. I salute them all.

Kahn is the man. Being an editor it is a very hard job to make the edit invisible. That is the brilliance of a film editor. Michael Kahn has done that for decades with Spielberg. @theburbsman

A tough one, but I have to go with Michael Kahn. The work of editors is often discussed/critiqued in reviews, but the editors themselves often go unmentioned. In a way, they’re like sculptors. What they do is nothing short of amazing and Kahn certainly has his mark on that. @GoNerdYourself

So there we go that is it for my Spielberg blogs, for now at least. I hope you have all enjoyed reading them. I have certainly enjoyed writing them, especially the research side of it.

As with all good award ceremonies and quite frankly some bad ones, I have some thank yous. I want to thank in particular the following people who have retweeted and promoted my blogs over the past year, and have also on occasion helped me with certain detail. They are Paul Bullock @apaulbullock, The guys at the Bearded Trio @thebeardedtrio  , the Spielberg Chronicles @SpielbergChron and all the following who have contributed in some way. 

If you like to follow people on Twitter who have intelligent, humourous and occasionally excitable conversations about film, you could do a lot worse than to give the following fine people a follow Darren Murphy @smurfman75  , KK @kkcorby14  , Marc Uren @uren_marc , That Film Geek @_ThatFilmGeek_ , EasyRidingRagingPodcast @ERRPodcast  , The CinemaPhile @CinemaPhileTX, Music By John Williams @JWilliams_Fan, Stephen Haller @theburbsman, Jim Rockford @853_OKG, Go Nerd Yourself @GoNerdYourself, A Film Club @afilmclub Amblin Road @AmblinRoad.

Thanks mainly go to anyone who has taken the time to have a read of these blogs, you’re all excellent people, and also thank you to Mr Spielberg for continuing to produce pieces of cinema that just put a smile upon my face. Here’s to many more over the coming years.


Spielberg the 2010s

The Adventures of Tintin Poster
War Horse Poster
Lincoln Poster
Bridge of Spies Poster
The BFG Poster
The Post Poster
Ready Player One Poster

Welcome to Part 5 of my look at Spielberg through the decades. The previous blogs can be found on the following links 1970s1980s1990s and 2000s.


I suspect that this will be the most difficult of the 5 decades for me to write due mainly to the amount of research I am going to need to do. Overall I am less familiar with the work of this decade having, at time of writing this prologue, only seen each film once. When I started writing this series of blogs I thought this would be a more straightforward decade as there were fewer films to review, however Spielberg is making films faster than I can write about them and part of the ongoing fascination with the man, who is now in his eighth decade shows no sign of taking retirement, there is not even a hint that he wishes to slow down, take a step back and survey his work. If anything he is more prolific now in 2018 than he has ever been, and what is perhaps even more remarkable is there is not one shred of compromise on the quality that is presented and for that I bow down at the Spielbergian altar for one more decade.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

“There’s a clue to another treasure. How’s your thirst for adventure, Captain?”

The Adventures of Tintin Poster
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

The return of one of Spielberg’s most loved characters in 2008 had not exactly gone the way that he probably envisioned it. Fans were ultimately left disappointed by the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones saga, so much so that Spielberg took a few years off. It meant Spielberg had only made one film in 6 years (unheard of before) by the time he sat back in the directors chair. The Adventures of Tintin, subtitled The Secret of the Unicorn outside North America was Spielberg’s first Cinematic animation. Working closely with Producer and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, Spielberg decided to experiment with motion capture technology for the first time in a film that has more than just a passing resemblance to the Indiana Jones franchise.

As with every blog that I have written on Spielberg there is a film in each decade that is generally overlooked by audiences and fans when discussing his films. In the 2010s there is possibly more than one candidate, but I will go with Tintin for now, not because it is a bad film (nothing could be further from the truth) but it struggled to find a Spielberg Adventure Story Sized Audience (or a SASSA as no-one is calling it) to the point that some people forget he even directed it. The lack of forthcoming sequel has also meant the proposed trilogy with Jackson taking up the directors reigns has dropped off the radar somewhat*.

The Adventures of Tintin is a fantastically, fun, frivolous feature. It is only a fedora and a bullwhip away from being the fifth installment of the World’s favourite Archaeologist. Spielberg has claimed that he became a fan of Tintin when a French cinema review likened Raider of the Lost Ark to the Belgian reporter on release in 1981. The theme of chasing lost treasure is the obvious hook but there is more than a rhythmical similarity in John Williams exciting score that calls to mind Indy. There are further subtle references, such as the library at the start of the film has more than just a passing resemblance to the Venetian library from Last Crusade where X marks the spot. There is an action sequence that involves Tintin having a close shave with a propeller, harking back once again to Indy’s fight with the German brute in Raiders and almost getting chopped into fish food by a boats giant prop in Last Crusade. There is also moments where important items are carried round  in crates and our hero stows away aboard a boat similar to Indy hiding on the German U-Boat in Raiders.

Its not only Indiana Jones that Tintin doffs his peaked hair too, there’s a great visual gag where our protagonist swims up to a sea plane with just the aforementioned follicles poking out above the water, a la Jaws and the opening titles pays homage to Catch Me If You Can. Away from Spielberg there is a moment towards the end that bizarrely I thought was lifted directly from the 1971 Bond film Diamonds are Forever as villain de jour Sakharine is trying to make his escape in a submarine but his cronies can’t seem to control the crane that is operating it leading to Sakharine’s exasperation similar to Blofeld who’s submarine is being smashed into the side of the oil rig by Sean Connery’s Bond. The fact that Sakharine is voiced by current Bond incumbent Daniel Craig just adds to this likely case of coincidence.

Tintin is packed full of the visual flair that was occasionally missing with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Spielberg’s first attempt at using motion capture technology had produced a stunning palette of breathtaking vistas, two scenes in particular demonstrated that Spielberg was comfortable with the new technology. Firstly, a rip roaring sea battle between two enormous sailing ships as Captain Haddock remembers through sobriety the importance of the Secret of the Unicorn. This scene is only better by a quite phenomenal 2 minute continuous shot as our heroes attempt to keep hold of the sacred scrolls as they race through the town of Bagghar. This scene in particular showcases perfectly the capabilities of motion capture. Spielberg would use the technology again to great effect in 2018s Ready Player One (see below).

The film itself is a little loose plot wise, its difficult to remember until repeat viewings exactly what the secret is the Unicorn is hiding, and animation or not it takes some acceptance that Tintin can knock out several towering pirates whilst on his adventures, the likeness to Indiana Jones doesn’t extend to the brawn. However as stated earlier visually there are some touches of sheer wonder, there is a great dissolve from the open ocean to a puddle in the street and the introduction of the intrepid reporter is one of the most meta moments of any Spielberg film.

Overall Tintin is brilliant fun and its a shame that it hasn’t lasted longer in the public consciousness as it provided a healthy alternative to the ongoing cos-playing wise crackers of the Marvel universe.

* latest on the Tintin sequels is that Peter Jackson is heavily in pre-production on The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoner of the Sun but as there is not even a release date recorded I’m not going to move to the edge of my seat just yet.

Why should I watch it?

Spielberg has often been at the forefront of game changing technologies, and here he delivers one of the finer examples of motion capture. Animation is a perfect medium to fully realise Spielberg’s visions. He will later repeat to even greater heights in future CGI heavy releases in The BFG and Ready Player One

War Horse (2011)

We’ll be alright Joey. We’re the lucky ones, you and me. Lucky since the day I met you

War Horse Poster
Jeremy Irvine in War Horse (2011)

2011 was yet another year where Spielberg put two cinematic offerings in front of the eager audience, once again it could be argued with hindsight that there was one aimed at the commercial market, Tintin, and another aimed squarely at the critical audience, War Horse. The similarities with Tintin are not just around the year of release, War Horse is an adaptation of a novel and play, which like Tintin has a very loyal fanbase. These sorts of adaptations would be a feature throughout this decade in Spielberg films with the upcoming BFG and Ready Player One also aimed at tapping into an established market. John Williams received Academy Award nominations for the score on both Tintin and War Horse, ultimately losing out to Ludovic Bource for his work on The Artist.

War Horse is Spielberg at his most melodramatic and sentimental. It is precision film making, every speck of dust has been precisely added to the screen, every blade of grass has meticulously been positioned to ensure that the film, which is set across various European countries, has a Classic Hollywood feel. The comparisons with Gone With the Wind especially in the closing shot are justified and well placed. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski shoots every frame as if catering for every Instagram users favourite filter.

The first hour of War Horse is a bit of a slog and feels drawn out and safe, setting up along the lines of what Brits would refer to Sunday afternoon fodder akin to Call the Midwife. This isn’t helped by a rather underwhelming performance from newcomer Jeremy Irvine who plays young Albert who cares and trains horse Joey before Joey is sent off to help the forces in World War 1. Its a nice performance from Irvine but he never really gets you overly concerned about whether or not he will get to see Joey again, this is no E.T/Elliot relationship.

The film moves on in pace and interest once the action relocates to the front  line in France. Here, away from the human drama, Spielberg seems to be more comfortable without ever pushing the envelope of possibilities to his previous front line war film efforts. Here the battle scenes are impressive if a little functional. There are early career performances for future Marvel alumni, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston and the film really shines when Cumberbatch in particular is pompously rallying the troops.  But there is nothing to get too over excited about here, there are no fresh grounds being broken and there is a slight suggestion that Spielberg may be on auto pilot.

There are some nice touches, the fact that not all “enemy” soldiers are painted as “goose stepping morons”, there is a human element from all of Joey’s owners, from the French grandfather and his orphaned granddaughter Emilie to the German soldier Gunther who uses Joey to assist with his and his younger brother Michael’s desertion of the German army. There is a beautifully played scene where British soldier, played by Toby Kebbell joins forces in the middle of No-Mans Land with a German soldier played by Hinnerk Schönemann to cut away the barbed wire that Joey has ensnared on himself in a desperate attempt to escape the madness.

The action set pieces are well done as you would expect but we are never with one character for long enough to invest our sympathies with, it is one of the few Spielberg films that leaves me a little “so what?”. Not being overly interested in horses also meant that a lot of the emotion was lost on me, whereas if you are the sort of person who has an interest in all things Equine, I would imagine that War Horse is just the ticket.

This is in no way a terrible film, its actually pretty good, it looks flawless, I just didn’t engage with it as much as some of his other films since the turn of the century.

Why should I watch it?

It’s Spielberg at his most luxuriant, and visually compelling. Here he demonstrates that sentimentality can be fine if used correctly and not too heavy handed. What it lacks in substance it more than makes up with its immaculate style

Lincoln (2012)

Buzzard’s guts, man! I am the President of the United States of America! Clothed in immense power! You will procure me these votes.

Lincoln Poster
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln (2012)

Following on from the perfectly serviceable yet somewhat underwhelming War Horse, Spielberg stayed in the historical arena with a film that on paper at least had all the ingredients to become a modern day American classic. America’s most popular and successful director, making a film about arguably America’s most hallowed President with quite possibly the finest actor of his generation in the titular role, all the stars were aligned for a monumental piece of film making.

For those here who are now expecting a giant BUT you’re going to be sadly disappointed as Lincoln delivers on every level. There is however, a however, Lincoln is perhaps not the film that some people going into it will be expecting. It would be wrong to claim that Lincoln was a biopic in the traditional sense as the two and half hour run time focuses squarely on the attempts of the 16th President to sway the House of Representatives towards the 13th amendment that will in effect outlaw slavery. So there is no back story detailing Lincoln’s childhood, no rise to political power and, in what may surprise some being a historical Spielberg film, very little in Civil War battle reenactments on screen. The ongoing war is a constant mention in conversation but save for a brief scene at the beginning there is little exposition shown, the gruesome, blood soaked devastation is kept to a minimum. Any Spielberg fan expecting a war story akin to Saving Private Ryan will be disappointed.

What Lincoln certainly isn’t is boring. Its an enthralling character piece packed to the rafters, unlike any Spielberg film before it, with epic, sprawling speeches and monologues. If that doesn’t sound the most exciting prospect in the World then trust me, it is captivating from start to finish. This is reflected in Spielberg’s direction. Here he realises he doesn’t need the tricks, he just needs to roll the cameras and watch like the rest of us.

Lincoln himself regales his companions and us the audience with a number of witty tales and anecdotes ranging from the tragic to the humorous, one of the films often overlooked delights is the deft and subtle humor found in the sprawling screenplay which at times resembles a Shakespearean play by it’s rambling delivery.

In Daniel Day Lewis we have an actor who transforms into every character that he portrays, here you forget that you are watching actors and like when Scrooge follows the Ghost of Christmas Past in a Christmas Carol, we sit on the outside looking in, witnessing history being made. Its Abraham Lincoln up there on screen in all things but DNA. You feel Spielberg also is enjoying being in the company of these people. In what is an incredibly sumptuous film, the camera is as still as any previous Spielberg film.

Daniel Day Lewis is not the only outstanding double-barreled performer on show here. There is a quite astonishing turn from Tommy Lee Jones as anti-slave campaigner Thaddeus Stevens. The screen literally sizzles when ever Jones’s cratered features scowl across the courtroom, but it is a beautifully played appearance for an actor who is not always remembered for subtlety. In a film that was always going to appeal to the traditional Academy voter, Day Lewis was always going to win but I feel it a crying shame that Tommy Lee Jones was not recognised more for his role here. Sally Field, an actress that I struggle with at times, is also brilliant as the put upon Mary Todd. A scene involving Abe and Mary where Abe announces that he should have sent her to the madhouse is a rare glimpse into the private lives of this publicly solid couple.

So where does Lincoln sit among the Spielberg historical classics? It definitely gets to dine at the top table but I have a feeling that if this had been made say in the 1990s it would be lauded to this day as a piece of classic American cinema. A recurrent theme in this decade for Spielberg is to make films such as Lincoln, the previous War Horse, and the upcoming Bridge of Spies, where audiences perhaps don’t engage as much in this  old fashioned type of film making. There are no wise cracking cos-players here or quick 5 second cuts and edits, but we have an intimate portrait of a man who’s achievements could potentially feel far-fetched on the pages of a comic book. More people need to see this film. It’s traditional film making of the highest order and I feel that Spielberg has never been so intimate.

Why should I watch it?

This could be Spielberg’s most personal character study. It is traditional filmmaking, beautifully performed by an outstanding cast. The real trick is turning what could be described as a court room drama into a gripping spectacle. The illusion is very real

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Would it help?

Bridge of Spies Poster
Tom Hanks and Scott Shepherd in Bridge of Spies (2015)

Despite Spielberg firing out films at an incredible rate of knots in this decade, he still managed to fit in a 3 year break after the critical success of Lincoln. Bridge of Spies to me almost appeared from nowhere in 2015. I confess that the film hadn’t even appeared on my radar until about a month before UK release. I was aware that Spielberg was working on the upcoming BFG, but during post production on the BFG, he sneaked this impressive Cold War thriller under our gleeful noses. From a personal point of view what made me question my dedication of fandom to all things Spielberg was that Bridge of Spies was a reunification with mine (and everyones for that matter) favourite actor Tom Hanks in the lead. How had I missed this?

Hanks himself was having somewhat of a renaissance after a slight slump in the late Naughties and early 2010s. The phenomenal double header of Captain Phillips and Saving Mister Banks had pushed him firmly back into the movie going publics consciousness, not that he had ever gone that far away. Here he was teaming up with Spielberg for the fourth time, equaling Harrison Ford for leading man appearances for Spielberg, albeit unlike Ford, in four hugely different characters.

More on Hanks later in this review, but first to the film itself. Following on from Lincoln this was yet another based on a true story thriller from Spielberg, obviously set in a slightly more contemporary setting. Set in the 1960 paranoid fueled America, Insurance Lawyer James B Donovan (Hanks) is entrusted with negotiating the release of a U.S Air Force Pilot named Gary Powers who was shot down over the Soviet Union and captured. The negotiating will include the release of former KGB spy Rudolph Abel who had been held in captivity in the US.

Famed British stage actor Mark Rylance gives more in his 28 minutes of screen time as Abel than some actors manage in their entire career. Spielberg had wanted to work with Rylance for some time, first approaching him back in the 1980s for a role in Empire of the Sun. Here Rylance brings to the screen a quiet, unassuming steeliness that gets the audience on his side in his first 2 lines of dialogue. It’s a masterclass in understatement, on more than one occasion Hanks’s Donovan remarks that Abel doesn’t seem too worried about the unfolding events to which Abel replies “would it help?” with perfect, deadpan delivery. Rylance always seems in control in this film, with a continually doe-eyed presence that demonstrates he is in total acceptance of Abel’s fate.

The only one fighting his corner is Donovan. In Donovan, Hanks can fill the role of the Spielberg Everyday Man in Extraordinary Situation, the likes we perhaps haven’t really seen since Munich’s Avner 10 years previously. What is sometimes overlooked among Rylance’s brilliance in this film, is Hank’s performance, he is the very heartbeat of the film, and in the face of, on occasions, hostile opposition to his defence of Abel, Donovan rises to the challenge with an air of grace and nobility. The Donovan/Hoffman show down at the start of the film is Hanks demonstrated his restrained bravado as he firmly puts the weasel Hoffman in his place.

Bridge of Spies was nominated for Best Picture but was only ever a ranked outsider as Spielberg once again produced a traditional somewhat old fashioned movie that was lit beautifully and was immaculate in its presentation.  Rylance however triumphed in the Best Supporting Actor category, at both the Academy Awards and BAFTAs. Special mention also goes to Thomas Newman who became only the second person other than John Williams to score a Spielberg theatrical release. Williams was off scoring a small independent movie for Disney at the time called The Force Awakens so was otherwise engaged.

There are clear musical cues from Williams but this is definitely a Newman score packed  full of distinctive soloists and memorable themes. The Score has a sheen of class running through it that does call to mind Williams’s similar score for Lincoln and War Horse. It’s a fantastic score with particular highlights being the haunting “Hall of Trade Unions” up to the patriotic, piano led “Homecoming” leaving an indelible mark. As a lover of all things film score, one can only hope that Spielberg and Newman cross paths again on future projects.

Bridge of Spies was another film from this decade that by Spielberg standards was somewhat ignored by the movie going public. I absolutely loved it but it was the first time where I began to wonder whether Spielberg would ever be able to connect with an audience in the present day as he has done in previous decades. His form of traditional film making, which was never more evident here, is a rarity in these days of multi franchise movies and successful Independent film making. In my mind in this decade there is a question of relevance. The film making is perfect, traditional, clean and as fans we will lap up everything he can offer, but do the wider audiences still get excited about what Spielberg will produce next. If films like Bridge of Spies are anything to go by I truly hope that an audience can still be found for such films.

Why should I watch it?

Because it’s absolutely outstanding in every facet. Bridge of Spies gets better with every viewing. Less films are made like this, these days and a trip back to the values of a Golden Age in Hollywood with traditional film making and story telling will always be welcome.

The BFG (2016)

Your madjester, I am your most humbug servant.

The BFG Poster
Image result for The BFG

November 1983, Children’s BBC, 4:10 pm for one week, Britain’s favourite Twitcher and occasional Goodie, Bill Oddie would sit down to read Roald Dahl’s The BFG on Jackanory for 10 minutes at a time. We talk about the impact movie trailers can have on the excitement of the movie going public, but here CBBC ran a trailer for the latest book in their long running post school story time show………….and it scared me to death. The trailer consisted of Oddie ominously reading the following:

“Sophie allowed her eyes to travel further and further down the street.

Suddenly she froze. There was something coming up the street on the opposite side.

It was something black…..

Something tall and black……

Something very tall, and very black, and very thin…………..” (1)

I was a 6 year old who’s life revolved around Star Wars, football and Lego, I was not interested in books, until now. I had to watch this programme, I had to hear what the tall, black, thin thing was, I had to find out whether Sophie was going to be ok. I sat glued to Jackanory for the next week, I had never watched the show before and it was amazing, partly down to the wonderful Oddie’s delivery but mainly down to the story of the relationship between this giant and this orphan girl. It became the first book I ever bought with my pocket money, I still have the copy I bought over 30 years ago and have read it to my children. It was without doubt my favourite book growing up, I read it dozens of times.

So imagine my sheer exhilaration when I heard that my favourite film director was to adapt The BFG into a new feature film. Brian Cosgrove had made a rather strange musical animated version of The BFG back in 1987 with David Jason providing the voice of the titular giant but I had never warmed to that version and had always longed for a Cinematic adaptation of the story.

I am pleased to report that the majority of my expectations were met.  Firstly and completely front and centre is Mark Rylance who encapsulates exactly how I imagined the character when I first read the book all those years ago. Even taking into account the stunning motion capture it is clearly Rylance beaming between the computerised dots and sensors. Rylance embraces the Giants tenderness without ever sinking too far into slushy sentimentality. As you would expect from one of the World’s greatest Shakespearean actors he manages to roll off his tongue with ease Dahl’s wacky and gobblefunked dialogue with the greatest of ease, leaving me to think, wouldn’t the World be a nicer place if we all spoke like that. He is ably supported by newcomer Ruby Barnhill who plays the level-headed Sophie. The two of them bond quickly after some initial verbal sparring.

For those unfamiliar with the story The BFG kidnaps Sophie after she catches a glimpse of him in the streets of London whilst he is going about his business blowing pleasant dreams through children’s bedroom windows whilst they sleep. He steals her because he doesn’t want “loads a human beans coming to Giant country to find him”. Sophie soon realises that The BFG is one of a kind in Giant Country. He shares this land with a group of despicable, child eating monsters who are twice the size of The BFG, led by the fearsome and gruesomely named Fleshlumpeater (an almost scene stealing turn from Jemaine Clement), they taunt and harass The BFG, even using him as a football in one particular nail biting scene.

As impressive as Clement’s and his cronies performances are, the only disappointment in the film is the characterisation of the nasty Giants. Compared to the book, here they are buffoonish and idiotic as opposed to genuinely scary. Spielberg has removed a lot of the truly grizzly elements of the book and as a result the fear factor is toned down somewhat. There is no real element of peril, and considering the source material and Spielberg’s work on other “family monster films” such as Jurassic Park, I think I was hoping for a little bit more danger. I doubt that someone such as Peter Jackson would have held back as much if adapting the tale, this is reflected in a somewhat disappointing ending that compared to the book is all a little too neat and convenient and without giving away spoilers didn’t actually make sense in line with the rest of the story.

On the grand scheme of things these are minor quibbles. The film itself is an absolute feast for the eyes and the lack of trepidation overall works in its favour, especially if you have not read the book. This is the first truly family film from Spielberg since Hook 25 years previously. This is a film for all ages. Adults and children alike will marvel at the beautiful sets and camera work, which has throw backs to Spielberg’s earlier work and will laugh and fall in love with The BFG from the first words that he utters. I think the best word to sum up the film is charming.

The BFG was a relative box office misstep for Spielberg, failing largely to find an audience in the US, but fared better in the UK and across Europe. Once again it is spotless film making, a demonstration of a master craftsman at work. Anchored by a sublime leading performance The BFG deserves to be seen by more. If you are a fan of the book you may find yourself wanting a little bit more but for family fun, Spielberg hasn’t been this accessible for years.

Why should I watch it?

Spielberg’s most accessible offering of the decade. It’s a real eye pleaser and where as some of the more darker elements of the book have been left out, who doesn’t want to see Queen Elizabeth break wind alongside her Corgi’s?

The Post (2017)

I’m here asking your advice, Bob, not your permission.

The Post Poster
Meryl Streep in The Post (2017)

Sometimes in life you just have to go for it, sometimes you just have to get things done. Here with his 32nd theatrical release, Spielberg demonstrated a level of proficiency rarely demonstrated by film makers. Spielberg had already filmed Ready Player One but took the time in post production of that film to make The Post. Spielberg has noticed a number of parallels between the script and current political “fake news” climate in the U.S and wanted to capitalise on that. It was also somewhat fortunate that “overrated”, 20 time Academy Award nominee Meryl Streep was available to play Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American Newspaper, at such short notice. This remarkably was the first time that Spielberg and Streep had worked up close before, Streep had lent her vocals to the Blue Fairy in Spielberg’s A.I in 2001. Equally remarkable was that Streep had never worked with Tom Hanks before, who fortunately also was available, and was here returning to work with Spielberg for the 5th time as Ben Bradlee the Executive Editor of The Washington Post.

The Post was conceived, shot, edited and released within 9 months in 2017 which is an unprecedented time-frame for a major motion picture. With such a lean production, it would be easy to worry that it would show in the final film, would it feel rushed? The short answer to this is no. This is a film stripped of all its excess but is as clean as a whistle.

Once again, the film is immaculate and captures the essence of the time period and setting perfectly, from the costumes and haircuts the characters sport to the dusty nicotine stained carpets and desk phones the size of a modern laptop. Streep dressed in sharp steel colours throughout to emphasize her determination to dominate the male orientated mahogany boardrooms that she commands. . Spielberg has had strong female characters in his previous films but The Post is his first female led film since 1985’s The Color Purple. Despite another strong performance by Hanks, this is Streep’s film. Her transformation from the patronised, ignored imposter in the opening scenes who is regularly bailed out by Post Chairman Fritz Beebe, to the confident, decisive and assertive figure who puts everything on the line by the end of the film is a joy to behold.

The scene depicted in the above photo is reminiscent of the Speaker at the House Of Commons trying to keep the Government and the Opposition in line, when neither is listening, we see a nervy Streep submit to the feeling that perhaps she shouldn’t be there, this appears to be a strictly male world. However by the end of the picture we have Streep taking full control with a trembling assertiveness among her board members

“This is no longer my father’s company or my husbands, it’s mine and anyone who thinks otherwise perhaps shouldn’t be on the board” (2)

There are a number of similarities between The Post, and Lincoln. Both are based around a monumental piece of American History with the horrors over those events glanced at in the earlier prologues to the rest of the film. Both are dialogue heavy character pieces, with The Post having quick fire, Sorkin-esqe dialogue as opposed to Lincoln’s more staged Shakespearean prose. Both have outstanding leads in Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep and outstanding support from Tommy Lee Jones and Tom Hanks. Like Lincoln, The Post was nominated for Best Picture at the 2018 Academy Awards and again, similar to Lincoln was probably deemed too traditional to trouble the bigger awards. In fact The Post’s lack of nomination in the Art Direction and Cinematography categories was disappointing, the printing press sequences alone should have gained some recognition.

The scenes in Bradlee’s house as they search through the 4000 pieces of paper and the 6 way phone conference where Katherine has to make the decision as to whether or not to print are masterfully directed. This is Spielberg at his most slick, demonstrating once again that all you need to create unbearable, chest thumping tension is a great script and a telephone.

Then there is the ending, Spielberg embracing film history, with a subtle nod to Alan J Pakula’s All the Presidents Men, a film The Post has been understandably compared to, you could argue that The Post is actually a prequel. Is it as good as All the President’s Men? No of course not but to be fair, very little is. What The Post is a more than adequate companion piece.  it really is a tremendous watch and I would recommend anyone who has even a passing interest in the Pentagon papers regarding the Vietnam War or the newspaper industry in general. This is yet another film from this decade that would appeal to the classic Hollywood fans……more people need to see it.

Why should I watch it?

Spielberg, Streep, Hanks, political intrigue…………….that’s why.

Ready Player One (2018)

“People come to the Oasis for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be.

Ready Player One Poster
Ready Player One (2018)

All the worlds most popular bands or singers with even the slightest hint of longevity will sooner rather than later release a Greatest Hits compilation, usually just before Christmas to meet the maximum exposure and entice nearly fans, who are fond of a few of their singles but never owned a full album, to part with their £12.99 on the best of the best. Die hard fans of such musical artists rarely buy the greatest hits because, they own all the tracks already, religiously purchasing every album that they have released.

So here for Spielberg’s (at time of writing) latest and 32nd cinematic release, we have his adaptation of Ernest Cline’s literary love letter to all things pop culture of the 1980s, and those of you who have read and enjoyed the book will know that Spielberg is one of the great unseen characters, with his films referenced on a number of occasions. So to use some young person vernacular for a moment, it is rather meta that Spielberg would adapt a source material that is so heavily influenced by his own works……..is this Spielberg’s Greatest Hits album?

The answer to that is a non-committal yes and no. Yes because there are clear nods to previous work from the obvious, Deloreon and T-Rex, to the not so obvious, the drones have a more than passing resemblance to Minority Reports Spyders in their movement.

No because there is so much from other films to be enjoyed from subtle hints at the Terminator franchise, Freddy Krueger and King Kong involved in the breathtaking races, to the geekgasm of a central puzzle where Spielberg recreates in perfect detail one of the 1980s most iconic movie sets. I won’t go into more detail on this as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to see it but it is breathtakingly delivered and leaves the audience fully engrossed in one of the Greatest of 1980s Cinema Hits.

At the end of my Bridge of Spies review above I questioned whether or not Spielberg was still relevant to audiences, do the latest generation of Cinema goers get excited about Spielberg’s next cinematic release, like those of us who grew up in the Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park era? Ready Player One was perhaps the litmus test for this. This is large blockbuster film making, the likes of which Spielberg hasn’t really indulged in since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Yes he has made family fare since such as Tintin and The BFG but Ready Player One was designed to compete for box office success. In the UK it opened as the meat of a Marvel sandwich to Black Panther’s and Avengers Infinity War’s bread. Would it hold up against those behemoths? Could the old Master himself show that he still had tricks up his sleeve to make audiences gasp?

Yes he can, by producing a film that is bags of fun from start to finish. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how it is going to end from the moment the somewhat intrusive voice over lays out the plot in the first 10 minutes of the film but that is fine, we are here for the ride and what a ride. For fans of movies from the 1980s it is all you could want, as you can tick one reference off after another in your “jotter spotter” notepads. It’s not just for children of that decade, some of the set pieces are white knuckle rides of mayhem. The climactic showdown is reminiscent of some of the more epic Lord of the Rings battles and the opening car chase is as kinetic as Spielberg has been for some time. There is also humourous nods to the Marvel universe with evil henchman I-Rok (a character designed specifically for the film) who looks and acts like he has just stepped off the Guardians of the Galaxy set.

The film’s slight downside is the cast who despite all being perfectly watchable never really last too long in the memory. The one exception being yet another socially awkward performance from Mark Rylance as the Steve Jobs like James Halliday. Tye Sheridan plays the lead Parzival with plenty of gusto but he is found wanting a little with some of the more emotionally heavy scenes. Olivia Cooke, who really reminded me of a young Kate Winslet, packs plenty of attitude as Artemis, Lena Waithe gets all the best lines as the dependable Aech, and Ben Mendelsohn wheels out his now regular snide, hissable bad guy.

Filmed before The Post, Spielberg managed once again to juggle two massively different films at once. There is no real danger of Ready Player One troubling my Spielberg top 10 but what we have here is a film that shows why we love the movies that he makes. You can’t help smile at everything he throws at it. This is Spielberg playing, having fun, enjoying himself. It is worth the investment of your time.

Why should I watch it?

Like all good Greatest Hits albums they are a track by track reminder of why you fell in love with the artist in the 1st place. Ready Player One though is far more than just a compilation of Spielberg moments, it has bags of thrills and excitement and it is great to witness Spielberg appear to be having fun again.

So there we go. All 33 Cinematic releases watched, analysed and written about. It has been an absolute pleasure to analyse films I was already familiar but perhaps more to find the wonders in some of the films I hadn’t watched in a long time or perhaps only seen once.

I will follow this up with a Part 6 shortly just to end the series with my own Greatest Hits compilation. I would really appreciate any thoughts and feedback on what I have written over these past months, I thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to read each one.

Best wishes



All photos and quotes courtesy of http://www.imdb.com

  1. Extract from Roald Dahl’s The BFG
  2. Quote from The Post http://www.imdb.com

Not that long ago in a galaxy not that far away

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Interstellar since it was first mooted as Steven Spielberg film back in 2005. Disappointed as I was when he dropped out of the project, I was pacified greatly by the news that Christopher Nolan was to take up the reigns. After all this was the man who by giving us the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception taught us that tent-pole blockbuster movies don’t have to ignore depth and characterisation, and can challenge the mind as well as the eyes.

Mr Belt couldn’t join me on this occasion, as he is heavily embroiled in the creation of the next major global brand at Carlton’s number one eating establishment the Chattel House.

So anyway I went with my good friend Mr Lionel Flatbread instead, who often joins me on jaunts to see films of a Sci-Fi orientation.

So to the film, Interstellar is an epic adventure in both cinematic scope, thunderous score and mind-bending ambition. At close to 3 hours long, it is not a film that will wash over you or even relax you. This is a challenge from the outset, a film that requires attention, and will be unforgiving to anyone watching who has the desire to drift off into a daydream for more than a minute. I will attempt to not give away too many spoilers but a brief outline of the plot is thus, set in the near future, Earth’s resources are seriously depleted and humankind is staring at an unlikely future. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper an ex-space shuttle pilot, now farmer who lives with his son who will follow in dads footsteps as a farmer, and daughter murphy, who demonstrates uncanny ability to decipher scientific information, and his father in law (a comfortably, restrained John Lithgow) as they struggle from year to year of failed crop harvests and battle devastating dust storms.

After following some co-ordinates that Murphy believes have been sent from a ghostly presence they arrive at a secret NASA base where Cooper finds his old mentor Prof Brand (Nolan regular Michael Caine). There he manages to persuade Cooper to abandon his family and captain a crew of astronauts including Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) to explore a recently discovered wormhole near Saturn that could lead to other planets that the human race could ultimately move to and begin again so to speak.

Now to go into much more detail would be to spoil the film for those with an interest in seeing it, so I’ll try to refrain.

So is it any good? Undoubtedly the answer to this is yes, it begs to be seen on the big screen and transports the audience into other worlds that can only really be reached through a cinema screen. Its an attack on the senses that you only truly get in the enclosed chasm of a large multiplex cinema. Visually it is Nolan at his best, large sweeping vistas of Cooper’s farm giving way to alien landscapes and spectacular visions of space reminiscent of Cameron and Kubrick at their best.

Regular Nolan collaborator Hans Zimmer bombards the auditory with an ever present score that some may find intrusive, not me bring it on I say, it all adds to atmosphere as you are transported on this journey of exploration.

Its not without its issues, at times the script, although never plumbing the depths of Armageddon say, does have its clunky moments, a middle section involving a cameo of an A-List Hollywood superstar disrupts the rhythm of the film and in truth is rather clichéd and unnecessary. Sci-Fi films from Alien to Event Horizon deal with rogue crew members and here it feels it is a subplot that is a distraction too far.

Nolan himself attempts to move away from his comfort zone. This is rather hit and miss. Themes of love are a welcome entry to Nolan but with Hathaway’s monologue about love transcending space and time it feels on occasions that he is not as comfortable with the personal as he is with the spectacular.

Yes there is a lot of scientific exposition but it never feels preachy or patronising. Go in with a clear head and you should be able to follow. The last half hour attempts to tie up all the loose ends and this is where Nolan turns up the visual bombardment to the maximum. Echoing 2001 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it is a science fiction fans dream, with diluted scenery giving way to warm other worldly colours.

This is the sort of film that will puzzle many and is certainly not a straightforward evening, but as with many Sci-Fi films that are often ridiculed on release, there is the strong possibility that this film will be regarded as classic piece of cinema in twenty years time. Interstellar provides all the answers – you just might not understand the questions.


What level of movie geek are you?

So it turns out that I am a bit of geek, a film geek nonetheless. Yes I watch a lot of films, not as many as I would like but I try to cram in as many as possible, and yes I can recite lines dialogue, but am I a geek? Yes I love to proclaim film trivia as if it’s the most interesting thing the ears of passers by will here all day, my inner child would love to think that work colleagues rush home to their significant others to say “Guess what Rambling Dad told me today about Rocky IV, it blew my mind”. I suspect that they do not.

However I don’t think I am an uber-geek, and I have come up with the following levels to put my hypothesis to the test. Reader, (I nearly put readers there but that might be a tad ambitious) feel free to see what level you fit into.

You are able to spell the word “film” and understand that they are occasionally referred to as “movies”. You’ve seen a couple of movies and could possibly name the odd film star, but really the only famous ones. Believes Shia LaBoeuf to be a dish served at seafood restaurant in La Rochelle.

You are aware of where your local cinema is, you occasionally talk fondly of one film and usually something like Dirty Dancing or Pretty Woman you have heard of James Bond, Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters, but you deem them all to be rather silly and not realistic. Level 2 geeks will always think there is something more productive to do with 2 hours than watch a film………..they are wrong. Mrs Rambling Dad is a bona fide Movie geek level 2. They have heard of Shia LaBoeuf but believe he is the new Indiana Jones or something

The Blockbuster fan. These are the fans who will always go watch “the big films” and believes that Arnie and Sly are the greatest movie stars ever and actually claim that they are great actors. Movie geek level 3 will never read the book before watching the film “what’s the point” is often the response. They will only go and watch films with certain actors in them. Subtitled and black and white films are a big no no for Geek level 3 and don’t even go to anything that was made prior to 1977. Use Shia LaBoeuf as explaining to people that they are going to the toilet “I’m off for a Shia”

Now we are getting serious. Movie geek level 4s will claim that their favourite director is Stanley Kubrick when in fact it is probably Steven Spielberg. Four’s have good film knowledge and will quite happily talk all night about films. Box sets are common place and film trivia books adorn book shelves. The DVD collection is not alphabetized but ordered by film maker. Can freely quote dialogue and name obscure actors in random films. They often name pets after Lord of the Rings or Star Trek characters. Blames Shia LaBouef for everything from appalling films, the Titanic sinking and death of Goose in Top Gun

The ultimate movie geek. Level 5s have been known to camp for two weeks outside cinemas prior to the opening of the new Star Trek film, they believe Alien Vs Predator to be a misunderstood classic. They have email names such as Lasersword@filmgeek.co.uk. They explain the implausibility of laser beams making sparks when cutting a hole in the door of the Starship Enterprise. They name their children after Lord of the Rings or StarTrek characters. They believe Shia LaBoeuf is a God, and watch Transformers at least once a week to worship at the altar of LaBoeuf.

So there we go, where do you fit in? I’m a four, and proud of it. Ha ha