spen has written 13 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • Catch Me If You Can

    Catch Me If You Can


    Cute, sometimes very cute, and often too cute.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens


    Though it takes too long and excessively recapitulates the original, this film has charm and moments of sincerity.

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars

    Star Wars: The Clone Wars


    Despite a few overlong battle scenes, and a kids' TV tone, this movie entertains, and avoids some of the prequels' embarrassing flaws.

  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

    Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith


    [I watched Labyrinth of Evil fanedit]

    I think this film works, except that Anakin switches sides a little too readily. I love the Emperor.

  • Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace


    [I watched The Cloak of Deception fanedit]

    Too chatty and hokey, but better than everyone says, for sure. The action sequences, music and costumes rule.

  • The Three Caballeros

    The Three Caballeros


    Hold the racism; fly the flags! Support for World War 2 wanes in Mexico and Brazil. Pair Aurora Miranda (of the Good Neighbor policy Mirandas) with that Disney duck for a beautifully presented mockumentary / mediocre shorts compilation hybrid.

    José Carioca (Oliveira) and narrator (Holloway) speak smooth. Donald's slapstick and neon light sequences stun. The songs and drawings entertain. Actors fronting an animated screen splice with cels over live action footage through careful choreography and cuts. The physical interaction, though slight, has stupendous weight.

    It looks good, but barely holds together, and casts Donald horny, handsy and unlikeable.

  • Showbiz Kids

    Showbiz Kids


    Several charming interviews with child stars before, during and after fame portray the difficulties of that life.

    This compassionate film goes into contortion, coercion and sex abuse. Good luck to those who made it out. Many have not.

  • Destino



    Some viewers feel Destino misses some crucial element, because of Disney meddling, or Dalí's death. I suspect this pretty film, no deeper than the least work of either artist, realises as much as was possible. Slick Disney chops amplify its horny boldness. The CGI looks old.

  • Dune



    The 136-minute theatrical release cuts a lurid, compromised vision, faithful to a bad book.

    Adaptation villainises the Guild, removes Leto II and diminishes Irulan. Fremen become white, but dirty. Po-faced dialogue transmutes to ham and mispronunciation, especially from Piter (Dourif). Lynch scripts excessive exegesis but narrative context feels missing.

    Delirious costumes, sets and makeup, arch music and oneiric whispers foster a high fantasy atmosphere curdled marvellously by squashed rat juice, body horror, and Halleck (Stewart) cradling a pug in battle.

    Some miniatures and matte paintings fail. Rancid shield and 'folding space' sequences give way to a rushed second half.

  • Waking Sleeping Beauty

    Waking Sleeping Beauty


    Waking Sleeping Beauty illustrates better than DisneyWar angelic and demonic contributions to Disney 1984-94, but pulls its punches a little.

    Narrator Hahn remembers everything. Conflict with Schneider absolves Katzenberg's meddling of sole blame for unrest. Comfortable workplace practices give way to widespread carpal tunnel syndrome by 1993. Disney meets an obvious need for discipline and limitations with defiantly unappealing, egotistical execs.

    The movie features interstitial footage and recordings (including a magnetic Ashman coaching Benson on The Little Mermaid), plus resplendent concept and pencil work, but too often clips from released films instead. I wanted a tighter documentary.

  • For Your Eyes Only

    For Your Eyes Only


    Détente and bombast deflated, Soviets pursue MacGuffins.

    Denuded set-pieces impress, including skiing and sailing again, a JIM ADS fight and tidy Citroën 2CV chase.

    Glee lingers in the dated 'Identigraph' sequence, Thatcher/parrot phone sex cameo and Conti's excellent funk score. A more likeable, sentimental Moore observes statutory age limits established by the 1956 Sexual Offences Act. After revenging for his late wife, he discourages a woman avenging her parents.

    Villain Kristatos (Glover) bores, though smuggler Columbo (Topol) glimmers. Daring, intense Melina (Bouquet) and decrepit Bond's wholesome inter-generational friendship sours in obligatory dénouement coitus.

    The pace lopes. Trans Bond girl Caroline Cossey deserves her own movie.

  • The Spy Who Loved Me

    The Spy Who Loved Me


    The Cold War thaws during SALT II détente, but 70s excess holds in gun barrel flares and Jaws references.

    Stromberg (Jurgens), piscine alt-Blofeld, brandishes insidious cravat, testicle rifle, shark doom-chute and Dan Dare base. Bond defuses an A-bomb, joyrides an IED, cosplays Ronald McDonald and amphibiates a Lotus Esprit. Electrofunk and ballads primp the score.

    Triple X (Bach) innovates (limited, then undermined) female agency, but Bach's acting confounds. M (Lee) inexplicably grows three extra appendages. Jaws (Kiel) and Q (Llewellyn) attain stardom. Action set-pieces in Giza, Karnak, a Kubrick-lit lair, and a tanker lent from Shell, overcome flabby pacing.