Film Four & Film Four +1 22-06-08.

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That Thing You Do!
(1996) Lovingly accurate pastiche of Beatles mayhem written and directed by Tom Hanks.Tom Hanks wrote, directed and starred in this enjoyable nostalgia trip back to the early 60s. A light hearted feelgood with a touch of Happy Days
That Thing You Do! Tom Hanks and Kevin Costner share the James Stewart image, and each used their celebrity to develop pet projects. Whereas Dances With Wolves was an epic cultural tract, That Thing You Do! is a piece of entertaining bubblegum which, like its director, making his feature directorial debut, is high on charm and style. Enthusiastic jazz drummer Guy (Tom Everett Scott) is given a chance to shine when a band run by his friends Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny (Steve Zahn) persuades him to join. They are christened 'The Oneders' and win a talent show that builds a devoted local following, enabling them to cut the title track.
Horace (Chris Ellis) becomes their manager and arranges a meeting with the owner of Play-Tone records, Mr White (Hanks), He offers to sell the record nationwide and put them on tour and moulds their image, changing their name to The Wonders and building a stage persona for each member. Success beckons, but not before the boys have found out that fame has consequences that could tear them apart.
The novice director surrounded himself with familiar faces including wife Rita Wilson and former co-star Peter Scolari, who paired up with Hanks in their cross-dressing sitcom debut, Bosom Buddies. An accomplished crew included George Lucas' editor and Oliver Stone's production designer, with maestro Jonathan Demme producing and advising (and appearing in a cameo).
Ethan Embry was the only member of The Wonders with musical experience. He is also the victim of the film's best throwaway gag, being anonymous throughout and credited only as The Bass Player. Co-star Liv Tyler has music in her blood - she was raised by Todd Rundgren before being told that Steve Tyler, lead singer with Aerosmith, was her father. She later appeared in the band's videos.

The Battle of the River Plate
(1956) Quality war film directed, written and produced by acclaimed duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.Quality war film directed, written and produced by acclaimed duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Full of gung-ho action, but also sophisticated and even troubling
The Battle Of The River Plate Battle Of The River Plate, made only 17 years after the event, depicts one of the defining moments of the early, comparatively quiet stages of World War II. A German pocket battleship, the Graf Spee, was causing havoc amongst the British merchant navy shipping until hunted down by three inferior quality British ships. Seriously damaged in the action, the Graf Spee limped into the neutral Uruguayan harbour Montevideo, to the great excitement of the world's press. The ship's captain was faced with the choice of having the ship impounded under the rules of the Geneva convention or setting out to sea again to face what he thought (thanks to some wily propaganda) was now an ever increasing fleet of ships from the Royal Navy. He chose neither, deciding instead to sink his own battleship as soon as he left port. The tension of the hunt and eventual waiting game is masterfully drawn out by Powell and Pressburger. The dawn watch for the Graf Spee is a whirl of binoculars, telescopes and pipe smoking officers peering over gun turrets, as the ships plough through a beautifully photographed dawn. Ripples of cheery banter and camaraderie occasionally break the calm, all adding to the unbearable tension of the storm to come. The battle sequence is expertly portrayed, relying on the reactions of the men on the ships and their great physical exertions and agony as much as a few judiciously paced explosions. When The Exeter, one of the British ships, takes a pounding, sympathy is elicited as much by a smattering of brave wisecracks ("one more shot like that and we'll go up like Joan Of Arc") as cries of pain. And although a few of the special effects now look a bit ropey, attention is never distracted because the action is so gripping.

The Thirty-Nine Steps
(1959) Kenneth More stars in this, the second film adaptation of John Buchan's ripping espionage yarn.
This second screen version of Buchan's classic spy adventure isn't a patch on Hitchcock's suspenseful 1935 classic. After being accused of murdering a female spy, Hannay (More) goes on the run in the Scottish highlands in the vain hope of tracking down the real villains, but, with the police closing in, time is definitely not on his side. In what is essentially a scene-by-scene remake, director Thomas keeps the action moving at a steady pace, making good use of some stunning location shots of Scotland and an exciting aerial manhunt.

The Brady Bunch Movie
(1995) Betty Thomas directs this comedy about one of America's favourite TV families of the 70s.Admirable parody of a 1970s comedy about a large family
The Brady Bunch Movie Bereft of original ideas for movies in the mid-90s, Hollywood started mining the plots of successful TV series. Director Thomas wisely kept the Bradys firmly in the 70s (home, hair, fashion sense), but propelled them into the 90s, where they are a bunch of irrepressibly happy freakazoids, much loathed by their worldly wise, hard-drinking property developer neighbour, who wants to buy their home and sell it for a fortune.

Under Siege
(1992) Terrorists get more than they bargain for on the battleship they invade: the cook is intent on preventing them stealing the ship's nuclear arsenal.Terrorists get more than they bargain for - because the cook on the battleship they invade used to be a navy SEAL, and he's intent on preventing them stealing the ship's nuclear arsenal
Under Siege 'I have 50 gallons of bouillabaisse to prepare for tomorrow,' says Seagal, at the beginning of this lively and incessantly violent no-brain actioner. And he means it. Hollywood's least likeable action hero is making generic pies in the galley when a team of international terrorists - cunningly disguised as a rock band - land on his battleship. Their leader (Jones), has some poorly defined plan to plunge the world into nuclear chaos - and it doesn't help that he's dressed as Bruce Springsteen while making his demands. Only Seagal and a semi-naked Playboy Playmate (Eleniak) can save the day. But is it worth saving?

(2003) An ancient blood feud between vampires and werewolves is the backdrop to Len Wiseman's stylish, Gothic horror.An ancient blood feud between vampires and werewolves is the backdrop to this horror action movie
For centuries, the ancient races of vampires and werewolves have been fighting fang-to-fang in a desperate battle for dominance. Beautiful vampire warrior Selene (Beckinsale) is one of the aristocratic vampire clan's most fearsome foot soldiers. But, after falling in love with a human doctor (Speedman) who's been bitten by a rampaging "Lycan", she questions her commitment to the war and her faith in vampire elder Viktor (Nighy).Originally pitched as "Romeo and Juliet meets vampires and werewolves", this intriguing horror film obviously changed a good deal in development, as the love story is relegated to little more than a cumbersome subplot. Spending most of its two hours setting up the dynamics of this vampire versus werewolf universe via huge chunks of talky exposition and the odd flashback, Underworld remains an interesting premise that never really takes off.

Serial Mom
(1994) Kathleen Turner is an apparently normal mother of a perfect small town American family who embarks on a peculiar murder spree.Turner plays a picture-perfect housewife who, on closer inspection, reveals a murderous hatred for anyone offending her apple-pie values in John Water's subversive black comedy
Serial Mom Forget to floss, or mess with her daughter (Lake) and she'll blow you away. Eventually the police (and news crews) catch up with her, and, having dug up the manicured lawns of Middle America, Waters' comedy swings at the alarming marriage of the country's twin obsessions - crime and fame.