Film Four & Film Four +1 14-06-08.

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Princess Mononoke
(1997) A mature, complex, truly epic anime.A young warrior prince gets involved in the conflict between magical beasts and ruthlessly progressive humans in this mature, complex, epic anime from Hayao Miyazaki
Princess Mononoke Like pretty much all anime (animated films related to manga comics), Princess Mononoke builds toward cataclysm. It's understandable that mass destruction is a recurrent theme in anime - after all, Japan is the only country to have suffered first hand from atomic bombing. However, whereas most anime feature high-tech battles in modern cities, Princess Mononoke's climactic destruction has a refreshingly different setting - a mythologised 14th century landscape. This setting is brought to life with utter magnificence by anime master Hayao Miyazaki - who has been praised in no uncertain terms by the likes of Toy Story creator John Lasseter ("Not a day goes by that I do not utilize the tools learned from studying his films,").
Despite the timeframe, the themes of the film are pertinent and modern - the effects of the human drive to better ourselves through technology, and the environmental repercussions of such ambition

The Mouse On The Moon
(1963) The people of the tiny Duchy of Fenwick take on the superpowers in the space race.This is Lester's second film, made just before his Beatles breakthrough, and a rather frantic affair it is, too. It followed on from The Mouse That Roared (directed by another American, Jack Arnold), but Sellers had departed. The main compensation here is Rutherford doing her considerable best as Queen Gloriana. She's the figurehead of the tiny Duchy of Fenwick, with a prime minister (Moody) setting up against the super powers in the space race. When they find that the local wine (shades of Austria here) makes perfect rocket fuel, they're off to a flying start.

Flight Of The Phoenix
(2004) Frank Towns crash lands his plane in the Gobi desert with a mixed package of passengers and no hope of rescue. Edited for language and violence.A plane crash strands a group of survivors in the desert, their only hope to build a new aircraft from the wreckage. Remake of Robert Aldrich's 1965 action-adventure, starring Dennis Quaid
Flight Of The Phoenix review to comeOther than relocating from the Sahara to the Gobi desert and adding a pack of threatening nomad smugglers who come and go as befits the script, director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) and his screenwriters - Scott Frank (Out Of Sight) and, bizarrely, actor-filmmaker Edward Burns - stay surprisingly faithful to the 1965 film The Flight Of The Phoenix for this remake. Frank Towns (Quaid) and AJ (Tyrese), two pilots of a cargo plane, touch down in Mongolia to sweep up the "garbage" - that is, the crew - of an unsuccessful oil excavation, along with one unannounced passenger, an aloof, mysterious young man called Elliott (Ribisi). A fearsome sandstorm causes the plane to crash and three men are immediately lost. The survivors, low on water, short on hope, are torn between waiting for a rescue that may never come, or following a potentially even crazier plan. Elliott eventually reveals himself to be an aeroplane designer and swears he can guide them to build a new aircraft from the wreckage, enabling Towns to fly them out.
In many ways it's refreshing to see a solid, professional B-movie with nothing more on its mind than to entertain the audience without unduly patronising them. An opening set to Johnny Cash's jaunty 'I've Been Everywhere' is indicative of the tongue-in-cheek genre tone to follow. The inherent drama of the situation - thirst, heatstroke, personality clashes - is broadly, but clearly outlined. There's a nice variety of character, from white-collar company man Ian (Laurie) to fervently religious Mexican cook (Vargas). Quaid, while no James Stewart - who played the pilot in Aldrich's original - is always dependable. Naturally a few players get lost in the shuffle, notably Tyrese's AJ, and the addition of a female character, rig chief Kelly (Otto), is scarcely capitalised on.

M Night Shyamalan's Secrets of Cinema
M Night Shyamalan, writer/director of The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Happening gives a unique insight into his filmmaking process.Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel star as a couple caught up in the chaos when a suicide-inducing toxin wreaks havoc on the East Coast of the US. From M Night Shyamalan
There's no doubt, M Night Shyamalan is a great ideas man. From the "I see dead people" hook of The Sixth Sense to the crop circle mysteries of Signs, he has an innate ability to plug into alluring concepts. While Lady In The Water sunk without trace in 2006, it's back to business with The Happening.Sadly, while this eco-thriller will have audiences drooling at the outset, its execution adds further weight to the argument that Shyamalan should pitch his great ideas to screenwriters more able to flesh them out.

(1985) Harrison Ford is the hard-boiled police detective guarding an Amish mother and her young son, who witnessed a murder.A cop flees to an Amish community in Pennsylvania to protect a key witness in a police corruption case. Harrison Ford stars in Peter Weir's first Hollywood film
After his international hit The Year Of Living Dangerously, Peter Weir, the Australian director who'd achieved cult status with The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) and Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), went to work in America.His first two films for Hollywood both starred Harrison Ford, then at the height of his fame as an action hero. Both 1985's Witness and 1986's The Mosquito Coast gave the former carpenter and TV actor a chance to flex his acting chops with roles that didn't involve blasters or bullwhips.
In Witness, Ford plays John Book, a detective and captain with the Philadelphia police. He gets involved with a case involving an Amish boy, Samuel Lapp (Haas), the witness of the title. Samuel's father has recently died and after the funeral his mother Rachel (McGillis) decides to visit her sister in Baltimore. However, while in a toilet stall, Samuels sees two men slit the throat of a third. Book and his partner Elden Carter (Jennings) are assigned to the case. After one unsuccessful hunch, Book has Samuel look at mugshots; the boy is able to identify the killer. It's a cop, Lieutenant James McFee (Glover). Book goes to his chief, Schaeffer (Sommer) to report his findings, entirely unaware that he too is corrupt.
When Book is ambushed by McFee and badly injured, he realises the corruption runs deep. Not knowing where to turn among his colleagues, he flees with Rachel and Samuel to their Amish homelands in rural Pennsylvania. There, he's nursed back to health.
If the film started out as a crime thriller, it now opens out into something more as Book, a man ground down by the urban ferment, is faced with an entirely different world centred around the more basic values of work and worship.

One Missed Call
Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel star as a couple caught up in the chaos when a suicide-inducing toxin wreaks havoc on the East Coast of the US. From M Night ShyamalanTakashi Miike's second horror venture is a ghost-in-the-machine chiller in the style of Ringu
After Hideo Nakata merged traditional long-haired she-ghosts with the modern trappings of technology to create Ringu (1998), South-East Asia's film industry (and the Hollywood remake machine) went into overdrive, slavishly imitating Nakata's winning formula and eventually milking it dry.Only Takashi Miike's first foray into horror, Audition (1999), a uniquely twisted psychological thriller which is still one of the most viscerally shocking horror films of all time, owed nothing to the Ringu model of J-horror. It is a surprise then that Miike's long-awaited return to the genre with One Missed Call (2003) should so closely follow all the conventions of a Nakata-style chiller. But what the film lacks in originality, it makes up for with the baroque exuberance of its execution.
Students begin receiving voicemail messages, apparently from themselves, recording the last moments of their future deaths - and then die a few days later exactly as presaged in the messages, slowly and in agony.
The police file the cases as suicides or accidents but Yumi Nakamura (Shibasaki), a child psychology student, has witnessed several of these deaths and knows there is something else at work. Soon she has joined forces with Hiroshi Yamashita (Tsutsumi), the brother of one of the first victims, and together they try to work out how a disused hospital, the distinctive sound of an asthma inhaler and the presence of candy in each of the victims' mouths are all connected with the series of murders. It is an investigation that becomes all the more urgent and personal once Yumi herself receives a call and knows that her number is up.
After the first grand guignol death, our heroine runs into some schoolgirls discussing the horror. One girl asserts that the victim, Yoko (Nagata), must have received "the call that foretells death" - which is the plot of Ringu in skeleton. Another girl says of the supernatural perpetrator: "I don't know the full story, but I heard she's a woman who died leaving a grudge in this world" - the plot of

Miller's Crossing
(1990) The Coen brothers present a complex gangster drama set during the Prohibition era in an unnamed American city.The Coen brothers present a complex gangster drama set during the Prohibition era in an unnamed American city. Albert Finney, Gabriel Byrne and Marcia Gay Harden star
Miller's Crossing "A handsome film about men in hats" was how Joel and Ethan Coen described their third film, this beautifully-crafted 1929-set gangster film that takes great pains to resurrect the genre. Full of double-crosses, dense plotting and razor-sharp dialogue ("Nobody knows anybody. Not that well," we're told), you'll need to have your wits about you for this one, as gang bosses Leo (Finney) and Casper (Polito) go to war. Pulling the strings behind Leo is his right-hand man Tom (Byrne); intervening between both is Verna (Harden), who packs a mean right hook. Loosely inspired by Dashiell Hammett's classic novel 'The Glass Key', Miller's Crossing contains some fabulous set-pieces, notably a surprisingly athletic Leo defending himself against two assailants to the strains of 'Danny Boy'. There is also some terrific acting, namely John Turturro as the whiney Bernie Bernbaum, the bookie who acts as the catalyst for the gang war. His 'Look Into Your Heart' speech, as he begs for his worthless life at the feet of Tom in the eponymous patch of woodlands, still ranks as one of the finest moments in any film by the Coen brothers.

As ever, the minor support roles are just as detailed. Check out Steve Buscemi as the fast-talking rat-fink Mink, for a delivery that would make Quentin Tarantino look like a man with a stutter. With regular Coen composer Carter Burwell offering his best score to date, and the design and photography all unified towards a luscious green/brown colour scheme, this is indeed a handsome movie.