Film Four & Film Four +1 07-06-08.

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FILM4 07 Jun 2008

Project X
(1987) Matthew Broderick stars as Jimmy Garrett, a trainee air force pilot assigned to teach chimps to use flight simulators.A young army intern becomes attached to the chimps being used in a top secret military project. Kids adventure movie starring Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt
Project X He's now famous for being married to Sarah-Jessica Parker and for taking Broadway by storm in 'The Producers'. But there was a time when Matthew Broderick was best known for playing cocky teenagers - this in spite of the fact that he didn't even make his movie debut until he'd turned 21. Already something a stage veteran (he first worked on the New York stage aged 17) by the time he came to Hollywood, it was Broderick's good fortune that his boyishness allowed him to play well beneath his years. So while he was 22 when he threatened global security in War Games and 24 when he starred in John Hughes's Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Broderick had notched up his quarter century when he was cast in Project X Directed by Jonathan Kaplan the year before he made the rather more controversial The Accused, Project X is the story of Jimmy Garrett (Broderick), a military inductee who's placed in charge of the chimps who're being used in the titular experiment. Naturally, Garrett grows close to his simian chums and it's not long before he and his young friend Teri (Hunt, still some years away from becoming a bona fide star) are hatching a plan to allow the apes to escape.

Cheaper by the Dozen
(1950) Clifton Webb is the head of a household of no less than 12 children, whom he tries to rule with a rod of iron.Webb is the head of a household of no less than 12 children, whom he tries to rule with a rod of iron. The ensuing comedy may be utterly predictable, but Webb's anti-charm and the film's frantic pace as the parents try to implement their own style of time-management on such unpredictable creatures is always amusing. The 1920s setting may add little authenticity, but at least it makes the distinctly old-fashioned premise easier to digest.

The Madness of King George
(1994) Deservedly acclaimed film adaptation of Alan Bennett's play about the 18th century royal who lost his marbles.Deservedly acclaimed film adaptation of Alan Bennett's play about the 18th century royal who lost his marbles.
England in the 1780s. King George III (Hawthorne) has gone gaga. His family and his courtiers have different ideas about what to do for the best. Queen Charlotte (Mirren) remains loyal and supportive. Her lady in waiting (Donohoe) is embarrassed, particularly by the King's desire for her, which his illness has unleashed. The Prime Minister, Pitt (Wadham) tries to pretend that there is nothing wrong. Meanwhile, the conniving, disaffected Prince of Wales (Everett) joins forces with Fox (Carter), the leader of the opposition in an attempt to claim the throne. While the court doctors squabble over the most effective course of action, loyal equerry Greville (Graves) brings in unconventional doctor Willis (Holm), whose methods prove harsh but potentially effective.
This is terrific stuff from Bennett, who wrote the original hit play. There is much to admire: the relationship between king and queen is touching and believable; the medical practices are bizarre and the political intrigue is palpable. All these are conveyed with some priceless dialogue ("To be Prince of Wales is not a position - it is a predicament") and fine acting all round, from Hawthorne's leaps between a raving and a lucid king, to Everett's desperate and duplicitous prince, to Holm's frightening disciplinarian Willis. A great among costume dramas and among British films.

War Games
(1983) Matthew Broderick stars in John Badham's thriller as a high school student who accidentally infiltrates a military computer.Sharply scripted by Walter F Parkes and Lawrence Lasker (who also penned hacker fest Sneakers), WarGames might be aimed primarily at young boys but it never for a moment excludes either girls or adults - it's as if Badham realised that the machines at the heart of his story could benefit all mankind, and not just the members who were shy around the opposite sex. The unstarry cast also helps keep attention focused on the frankly terrifying story. Both Broderick and love interest Ally Sheedy are very natural while, among the adults, Dabney Coleman, Barry Corbin and John Wood excel as military top brass, bonkers General and enigmatic scientist respectively. And be sure to keep an eye out for a young Michael Madsen as one of the guys in the silo in the opening scene.
Admittedly, there's none of the bleakness and little of the black comedy of, say, Dr Strangelove. But compare WarGames with much of what passes for teen entertainment today and you wish that more filmmakers would download its winning formula.

(1999) Robert 'Mac' MacDougal is one of the finest art thieves in the world and Virginia 'Gin' Baker, an insurance company agent who plans to trap him.Glossy big-budget techno-thriller tosh which once again serves up a grizzled old man and a pouting young beauty as an apparently feasible screen coupling. Ancient thief Connery teams up with a lithe upcomer Zeta-Jones to pull off a high-tech scam amid an array of suitably futuristic gadgetry. Notable for its central setpiece in which Ms ZJ balletically pirouettes her way through a criss-crossing maze of laser beams in a leotard to the grumpy delight of her crotchety tutor. Sadly, if that doesn't grab your fancy, then there's little else here to engage the interest.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
(1974) Tobe Hooper's horror classic sees a group of youngsters come across a family of psychopaths who attack them with a variety of gruesome methods.Classic horror inspired by the activities of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. A grisly fate awaits five young adults in an isolated old farmhouse inhabited by a family of crazed cannibals
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre A triumph of style and atmosphere, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is without doubt one of the most influential horror films of all time. A gang of hippies, consisting of two couples - Pam (McVinn) and Kirk (Vail), and Sally (Burns) and Jerry (Danziger) - and the irritating but oddly knowing wheelchair-bound Franklin (Partain), Sally's brother, are travelling across rural Texas, where they visit an abandoned family house.
Straying onto a neigbouring property, the hapless youngsters find themselves the victims of family consisting of a manic, disgusting Hitchhiker (Neal) they'd earlier picked up, the huge, brutish simpleton Leatherface (Hansen), the local garage owner and Cook (Siedow), and their wizened, ancient grandfather (Dugan). With skills picked up from working at the local abattoir, the family prey on those unfortunate enough to come their way. Only one of the group, Sally, has a chance of surviving the terror, torture and slaughter.

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
(2002) Two rebellious teenage Catholic schoolboys spend their spare time creating a comic book lampooning their draconian teacher Sister Assumpta.Coming-of-age story about two rebellious best friends at a Catholic school in the US in the 1970s, starring Emile Hirsch and Kieran Culkin
Witty comedy, tragic drama , animated flights of fantasy - The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys offers some twists on the classic American coming-of-age story. At the centre of the film is a solid rapport between Emile Hirsch (and Kieran Culkin (younger brother of Macaulay), who play best friends Francis Doyle and Tim Sullivan. Francis and Tim are a troublesome pair - the film opens to them chain-sawing a telegraph pole, estimating its fall trajectory in a wilful misinterpretation of their triangulation mathematics homework. Along with school friends Wade (Richardson) and Joey (Long), they have a little gang that spends its time hanging out, planning pranks and creating a comic book (or at least the sketches for it) based on their characters The Atomic Trinity ("I thought we were going to change the name as there's four of us"). Francis is Brakken, Tim is The Muscle and the others have the even more dubious alter-egos Captain Asskicker and Major Screw. These characters appear in animated sequences (produced by 'Spawn' creator Todd McFarlane) within the film, as Francis - the main creative force - imagines a story for them. It's a neat device, with the parallel story of the Trinity (of four) reflecting the boys' real world changing fortunes.
At first, these fortunes involve Francis's burgeoning relationship with Margie (Malone - hot off the back of a not dissimilar role in the era's finest coming-of-age film, Donnie Darko ). Young love burgeons to a point where Margie even starts appearing in the cartoon fantasies as Sorcerella, who joins the foursome in its fight against the evil Peg-Leg and her minions. Peg-Leg is a twisted version of Assumpta (Foster), the boys' limping nun nemesis, the teacher who is their foe in all their schoolboy pranks. Their latest mischief involves stealing a statue of their school's patron saint, and Tim developing a plan to kidnap a cougar from a local zoo.