ORBzine - Documentary Movies Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Biography (1987 ) Jonathan Harris: Never Fear, Smith Is Here

Biography (1987 ) Jonathan Harris: Never Fear, Smith Is Here This is a TV episode that first aired in 2002 - only a month after the death of its subject, the Special Guest Star of Lost In Space .

As a youngster he was inspired by the local Yiddish theatre in the Bronx. Aware that his natural accent would hold him back, he copied the English accents of characters in early talkie movies. Although the show does not mention them, Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis both had similar backgrounds. A pity that he did not get the chance to work with them, perhaps in the Laurence Olivier role of Crassus in Spartacus (1960) .

Harris' big break seems to have been a regular supporting role in a 1950s TV show of The Third Man, where he played a criminal sidekick to Harry Lime (Michael Rennie - The Day The Earth Stood Still ).

Finally, Harris won the role that made him famous. Showrunner Irwin Allen agreed to give him the SPECIAL Guest Star credit, the first time this had ever been done. Harris modified the villainous character, to make him more comedic and likeable. This also gave the Robot and Will Robinson something to do. As a result, the trio became the focus of the show.

The show was due to be given a fourth Season, but was mysteriously cancelled while on hiatus. Harris never got away from the shadow of Dr Smith, but this did not concern him. After all, he was selective about the roles he accepted.

In the 1970s and 80s, Harris did voice-over work including Baltar's minion in Battlestar Galactica (1978) . Later he was in a couple of John Lassiter's animated movies ( A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999) ).

Finally, there was a Lost In Space revival in 1997. Harris turned down the opportunity to appear in the reboot movie Lost In Space (1997) because he would not settle for a cameo role.

Confessions Of A Superhero

Confessions Of A Superhero When one thinks about the people who dress as superheroes, they are either highly paid actors in big-budget movies and TV shows or they are amateurs and fans who cosplay as a hobby. This is a documentary about people in a third category, who make up an unusual subculture in Los Angeles, USA. A small group of out-of-work small-time actors have taken to dressing as popular film characters and posing with tourists in exchange for cash tips.

This film features interviews with the actors, and follows them around a bit as they try to earn a living. They may seem to have a precarious existence, since they are technically self-employed and certainly lack job security. However, they seem to be happy with their lifestyle, and the film has an air of hope to it.

Elstree 1976 (2015)

Elstree 1976 (2015) This is a crowdfunded documentary about the making of Star Wars: A New Hope . Rather than rehash the same old interviews with the big-name stars, this film focuses on the supporting cast who worked in much smaller roles.

Some of the controversies are mentioned. For example, there is friction between the more mainstream actors (who got a line or two of dialogue) and the background artists. There is something of a snobbishness about the idea of getting an official credit in the movie.

Frankenstein: Birth Of A Monster (2003)

Frankenstein: Birth Of A Monster This is a docu-drama made by the BBC in 2003. Narrator Robert Winton takes us through the life of Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, highlighting the bits that are of relevance to her novel - Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus!

It is above the level of the average docudrama, which is probably the lowest form of documentary ever created. The drama bits have actors rather than mere extras. For example, Lord Byron is a young-looking Stephen Mangan ( Dirk Gently ).

Friedkin Uncut (2018)

Friedkin Uncut (2018) This is a documentary biopic about the career of William Friedkin . It is based around a series of interviews with him, but also includes input from other Hollywood outsiders like Quentin Tarantino and Dario Argento .

Friedkin started his career in the US TV industry, then moved into documentary film-making before making features. He never went to film school, which sets him apart from his contemporaries - Lucas, Spielberg, DePalma, Coppola, Scorsese .

Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD (2014)

Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD (2014) This is a documentary about the British SciFi comic-book that started in the late 1970s. 2000AD started as a way for under-fifteens to access content the equivalent of R-rated films that were popular at the time. Dirty Harry, Rollerball, Damnation Alley , that kind of thing. The writers then went on to create original works that challenged perceptions of the nature of good and evil.

The film really gets going when it becomes a behind-the-scenes look at the UK comics industry. The editorial staff managed to get the comic creators more

Just as 2000AD was created as an imitation of movies, the story comes full circle when post-Apocalyptic worlds and Dystopian futures became mainstream in Hollywood scifi movies. For example, Robocop (1987) was a better Judge Dredd film than the Sylvester Stallone effort in 1995. Other dystopian efforts mentioned in the movie include:

  • Hardware
  • Book of Eli
  • Watchmen

    In truth, perhaps we can blame 2000AD for the main problem in modern Science Fiction. The year 2000 was once the time we looked forward to, when everyone would have a flying automobile. But now it has been and gone, and Sci-Fi has become synoymous with Apocalypse and Dystopia. It is the 1970s all over again, perhaps due to the Iraqi occupation instead of the Vietnam police action. Today we have Jack Bauer instead of Harry Callaghan.

  • Imagine ... Mel Brooks Unwrapped (2018)

    Imagine ... Mel Brooks Unwrapped (2018) Alan Yentob, head of the BBC, visits the office of the famous American writer/director Mel Brooks . While he waits, we get backstory in the form of clips from previous encounters. As a young journalist, Yentob previously interviewed in 1981 at Twentieth Century Fox in Los Angeles. Ten years later, Brooks visited Yentob (then head of BBC2) in London. They also conducted an online video-interview in 2004.

    The clips act like flashbacks, providing a background to their relationship. Brooks is a comedic performer, always in character. Meanwhile, in the modern day he takes Yentob to meet his old writing partner Carl Reiner (best known these days as father of Rob).

    Despite Brooks being a performer, we do get to see some of the real him. His working relationship with Yentob, which has spanned almost four decades, allows him to relax and show his unguarded self. Unfortunately this makes the insertion of previous work to be padding.

    Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2020)

    Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2020) This documentary was made to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of a ground-breaking sci-fi comedy. While the movie was ahead of its time, apparently it was never the rip-roaring financial success it should have been. Perhaps the problem was that the story was so deeply emeshed with nerd culture, which has gone so much more mainstream in the last twenty years, that it was written off as a niche movie at the time.

    Wil Wheaton ( Star Trek: TNG ) speaks for science fiction fans in general when he says what a tribute the movie was to Sci-Fi fandom itself. The basic story is about some out-of-work actors who used to be on a Sci-Fi TV show (itself a blatant parody of Star Trek: The Original Series ) who are pulled into working with some cosplaying fans. The twist is ... the fans in question are real-life aliens who believe that the TV show is a series of historical documents.

    The documentary then goes on to explore the pre-production woes of the movie. The original director was going to be Harold Ramis ( Ghostbusters (1984) ), and the lead role was going to be filled by someone like Bruce Willis ( Die Hard (1988) ) or Mel Gibson ( Braveheart (1995) ). Yes, it could have been a very different movie instead. When Tim Allen ( Toy Story ) was cast in the lead role, the next stage was to select the rest of the cast. Many of those cast members have gone on to do much bigger roles since then, which is a good indicator of what an amazing cast it was.

    The studio put so much faith in the project that they had the alien makeup created by Stan Winston's company (who worked on the Predator franchise) and the spaceships were done by ILM (created by George Lucas so he could make Star Wars ). Yes, this may be a comedy but it has the quality of a full-on space adventure movie.

    There are a lot of anecdotes about Alan Rickman ( Die Hard (1988) ), who passed away in 2016. He may have been out of place in some respects, but he was liked and respected by the other cast members.

    Timewatch S3 Ep 2: The Kneale Tapes (2003)

    Timewatch S3 Ep 2: The Kneale Tapes (2003) This is a documentary on Nigel Kneale, creator of British Sci-Fi classics like Quatermass, Year of the Sex Olympics And the man behind the 1950s BBC adaptation of 1984 . There are interviews and clips going back to 1950s black and white BBC TV footage. One obscure classic unveiled is The Road, a ghost story set in 1771.

    The Making Of Jaws (1995)

    The Making Of Jaws (1995) This is a documentary made twenty years after the release of Spielberg's movie Jaws . It traces the behind-the-scenes story from Peter Benchley and his inspiration to write the novel, through to the eventual release and success of the film adaptation.

    If there is one notable absence is its that fact that everyone is interviewed except for Robert Shaw, who played rascally old sea dog Quint in the movie. Unfortunately Shaw died only a few years after the film was released, and because of this there was no footage of him commenting on his behind-the-scenes experience.

    Spaceballs: The Documentary

    Spaceballs: The Documentary Fifteen years after the release of Spaceballs , the director Mel Brooks got the cast and crew together for a retrospective documentary. There are a couple of notable absences. Rick Moranis ( Ghostbusters ) had retired from the movie industry, and John Candy ( ) had passed away.

    There are no great revelations in this, beyond the fact that Joan Rivers' only contribution was a day's work doing a voice-over in post-production.

    Hollywood Biography Pictures (Biopics)

    The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977)

    The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977) This is a made-for-TV effort, covering much of the same ground as its Hollywood rehash The Aviator twenty-seven years later. While the big-budget Martin Scorsese version has a lot of CGI effects, this seems to rely more on stock footage.

    The Aviator (2004)

    The Aviator (2004) Martin Scorsese , best known for gangster pictures set in New York, delivers a biopic based on the life of infamous Hollywood film-maker Howard Hughes . It covers many aspects of the controversial figure, although if the film had been made fifteen years later in the MeToo era it would have been a lot less sympathetic.

    We meet Hughes (Leonardo DeCaprio - Critters 3 ) when he is throwing his vast inheritance into an insane Hollywood movie project - a war movie entitled Hell's Angels. He even hires a new business manager (John C Reilly - Gangs of New York ) to look after his financial affairs. When Hughes realises that he needs specific weather conditions to film his movie, a meteorologist (Ian Holm - Lord of the Rings ) gets dragged into the mix.

    While making the film, Howard becomes obsessed with the airplanes featured in it. He puts his passion into this new project, eventually perfecting a flush-riveted monoplane that wins the world speed record. Later, when America enters the Second World War, he competes for lucrative government contracts.

    The movie also delves into Howard's love life. He discovers Jean Harlow ( Gwen Stefani ), and later has a doomed affair with Katherine Hepburn ( Cate Blanchett ). Finally he hooks up with Ava Gardner ( Kate Beckinsale ). Unfortunately, Howard's controlling tendencies can be quite destructive to his relationships.

    Things come to a head when Hughes becomes boss of Trans-World Airlines. Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin - The Shadow ), head of rival airline PanAm, plots with a corrupt senator (Alan Alda - ). They give Hughes a taste of his own medicine, removing his privacy and putting him under FBI surveillance the same way he kept the women in his life under constant watch. The only way that Hughes can win is if he manages to fly his impossibly large airplane, cruelly nicknamed the Spruce Goose.

    There is one down side to the film. We see that Hughes starts with OCD tendencies, which make him a perfectionist in both film-making and airplane design, and leads into his sadly inevitable mental decline. However, in this particular movie his tendencies seem to be so exaggerated as to be almost comical.

    Behind The Candleabra (2013)

    Behind The Candleabra (2013) A young gay musician (Matt Damon - The Great Wall ) begins a relationship with an older gay musician - Liberace (Michael Douglas - The China Syndrome ). The result is a domestic drama based on a true-life story.

    Eventually the couple start to drift apart. Liberace introduces his lover to a plastic surgeon (Rob Lowe - ). Unfortunately, this leads to an addiction to pills and surgery.

    Birth Of The Dragon (2016)

    Birth Of The Dragon (2016) This is a fictionalised account of a true event that happened in 1964 - Bruce Lee's duel with the Shaolin Master, Wong Jack Man.

    Bruce Lee is a martial arts teacher and wannabe actor in San Francisco, who makes zero-budget movies with his friend (Terry Chen - Continuum ). He teaches his skills to everyone who wants to learn, regardless of race. This is regarded as anathema by certain members of the Kung Fu community. In modern terms it would be regarded as cultural appropriation. So when the Shaolin Master, Wong Jack Man, comes to town Bruce Lee is concerned.

    The film has a major subplot involving a relationship between a white man, one of Lee's kung fu students, and a Chinese waitress. This boils over as the Triads get involved in Bruce Lee's situation. They pressure him and Wong Jack Man into staging a public duel, so that the Triad can run a gambling book on the outcome.

    In the final act, the waitress is held hostage by the Triad gang. This is not a case of the white man becoming the saviour. He is merely a conduit for story-telling. Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man dominate every scene they are in.

    The director has a few Hollywood movies under his belt, but is not known for Chinese kung fu action scenes. However, this film features a few decent fight scenes with homages to both Bruce Lee's 1970s chop-socky films like Enter the Dragon and the more recent wire-fu genre films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon .

    Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)

    Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) This is a somewhat fanciful adaptation of the life of a real-life movie star. Bruce Lee was a larger-than-life figure, and this movie takes the approach from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

    We start with Bruce Lee as a young boy in Hong Kong, where he was haunted by a vision of impending doom. This vision returns at the story's climax, which sets the background for the tragic ending.

    Young Bruce grows up to look like Jason Scott Lee. In real life Bruce was five foot seven, thin as a rake, while Jason is tall and muscular the idealised version of the legend. He easily wins a series of fights against multiple opponents, but .

    In San Francisco, Bruce starts attending college. He sets up a dojo to train local students, including Michael Cudlitz ( The Walking Dead ). He even starts to date his first female student, Linda ( Lauren Holly ). The spectre of White Racism is ever-present, for example his mother-in-law's unwillingness to accept a Chinese son-in-law. However, the Chinese community's elders are also unhappy at his refusal to segregate.

    While Bruce's fights against multiple opponents were shown almost for laughs, the one-on-one matches against skilled Chinese practitioners are shown as incredibly serious affairs. However, this is version of events is potentially slanderous because it portrays the Chinese martial arts community's champion as dishonorable.

    After overcoming many difficulties, Bruce teams up with a TV show's producer (Robert Wagner - The Towering Inferno (1974) ). Not only does Bruce get cast as Kato in The Green Hornet , but he also helps create the TV show Kung Fu. The good news is that he started a career that made him a film star, and made the chop-socky movie industry become a global phenomenon. The bad news is that he may have removed the previous stereotype of Asians, such as Mickey Rooney in yellow-face make-up as comedy relief, but he replaced it with the chop-sockey stereotype. Also, he was replaced as star of Kung Fu by a white man - allegedly because the mainstream US audience was not ready to accept a Chinese star.

    Bruce's relationship with his young son Brandon features strongly in the film's second half. This underlines the ultimate tragedy of the story. The closing credits sequence informs us that Bruce Lee died at the age of 32 ... but the film itself is dedicated to his son Brandon, who also died at a young age shortly before the film was completed.

    Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

    Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) This is not just a Freddy Mercury biopic, it covers the band Queen and its behind-the-scenes turmoil. As he says in one scene, he was not the band's leader - merely the lead singer.

    The story really starts when Freddy (Rami Malek - ) joins the band. While the band itself does not revolve around him, the drama certainly revolves around his love life.

    There seems to be an over-representation of Irishmen in the film. The band's agent is Aiden Gillen ( Game of Thrones ), while a couple of Freddy's boyfriends have Northern Ireland accents. One of them is a Dubliner faking it, but the other one is from Portadown.

    The record executive who declares that Bohemian Rhapsody will never be the song that teenagers can crank up the sound in their car and bang their heads to is played by none other than Mike Myers from Wayne's World.

    The band's two science fiction movie albums, Flash Gordon (1980) and It's A Kind Of Magic (the soundtrack to Highlander (1985) ), are not mentioned. However, the haunting melody Who Wants To Live Forever is played as Freddy starts to fall into his personal decline.

    Based as it is on a true story, the events seem to match up to the traditional three-act structure. Everything builds towards a climax as Freddy has to get the band back together in time for Live Aid - not only the biggest concert of their careers, but probably the biggest concert in human history.

    Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

    Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) The story starts during the Second World War. Christopher Robin, an officer in the British army, has been reported missing in action. His father, the celebrated English author AA Milne (Domhnall Gleeson - Star Wars: The Last Jedi ) remembers their earlier family life.

    Milne was a veteran of the First World War, having served in the trenches as an officer himself. When he returned home after the war, he and his wife ( Margot Robbie ) settled into a quiet life in a nice house in the English countryside. However, the wife was a socialite who would rather spend her time partying in London. Milne himself was often locked away in his study, writing. Young Christopher Robin spent most of his time with his nanny ( Kelly MacDonald ).

    We get an account of a somewhat miserable childhood fraught with abandonment, as the adults in his life tried to live lives of their own.

  • Christopher Robin (2018)
  • Christopher Robin (2018)

    Christopher Robin (2018) It is the 1950s. Christopher Robin Milne (Ewan McGregor - Star Wars: Phantom Menace ) has grown up and gotten an office-job in London. His slimy boss (Mark Gatiss - League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse ) orders him to keep working over the weekend.

    His neglected wife, Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ), spends the weekend with their children in the countryside. Mr Robin seems to have ditched DC (his mother was Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad ), and gone with Marvel when choosing a wife.

    Winnie the Pooh and Milne's other characters come to visit their old friend. The result is a somewhat old-fashioned film. Lots of slapstick ensues.

  • Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)
  • The Disaster Artist (2018)

    The Disaster Artist (2018) This is a biopic about the making of what is possibly one of the worst films ever made. That said, this is not an attempt to slander the auteur behind it - he was so good-spirited about it that he actually appears in the post-credits sequence.

    Greg (Dave Franco - Nerve ) is a wannabe actor who teams up with an auteur named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco - Spider-Man ). Their acting careers are unsuccessful, so they decide to make a movie together.

    They hire an Assistant Director (Seth Rogen - Your Highness (2011) ) and a co-star (Josh Hutcherson - Futureman ).

    The ending shows the original footage beside the re-shot scenes, and ironically it seems that the original cast were actually more attractive than the more established ones.

    Driven (2019)

    Driven (2019) Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudekis - We're the Millers (2013) ) is a good-natured all-American drug-smuggler, like in the Tom Cruise comedy thriller American Made . He is great at fooling his wife ( Judy Greer ), but runs foul of FBI Agent Benedict (Corey Stoll - Ant Man ).

    A few years later, the FBI has relocated Hoffman in California. His next-door neighbour turns out to be John DeLorean (Lee Pace - Guardians of the Galaxy ), a famous American automobile manufacturer. DeLorean plans to mass-produce and mass-market the greatest sports car in the world, but his company runs into financial problems. He turns in desperation to his friend and neighbour, Hoffman. This results in the FBI targeting the car designer with an entrapment sting.

    This was written by Ulsterman Colin Bateman , whose previous film was the disappointingly overblown effort The Journey. Ironically, although the car was made in the greater Belfast area this movie does not feature any scenes set there.

    The good news? The car may not have turned out the way Delorean intended, but it was immortalised in the SciFi franchise Back to the Future (1985) .

    Ed Wood (1994)

    Ed Wood (1994) Ed Wood (Johnny Depp - Pirates Of The Carribean ) is a struggling film-maker.

    Tim Burton made this as an homage to his favourite director, who inspired him in his own career.

    Finding Neverland (2004)

    Finding Neverland (2004) JM Barrie (Johnny Depp - Pirates Of The Carribean ) is a struggling playwright whose most recent production was a disappointment to his financier (Dustin Hoffman - Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer ) and his wife ( Radha Mitchell ). Luckily he befriends a lonely widow ( Kate Winslett ) and her four fatherless sons - including Freddy Highmore ( The Journey ).

    Barrie's imagination is engaged as he plays with the boys, and he is inspired to write his greatest work - Peter Pan .

    The boys' father died of throat cancer. Now their mother takes a turn for the worse, and they face losing the only parent they have left. She is in denial, and does not want to face the horrible truth. Meanwhile, Barrie's marriage disentigrates as his wife feels he has abandoned her.

    Finally the play is brought to life, with Kelly MacDonald in the title role and Toby Jones ( Your Highness (2009) ) cast as Smee the Pirate.

    The Founder (2016)

    The Founder (2016) Ray Kroc (Michael Douglas - Birdman ) is a travelling salesman, tasked with selling milkshake machines to cafes in 1950s USA. His sales technique is founded on the idea increase the supply, and the demand will increase itself. This is of course a fallacy, and Kroc is eventually shown that the real trick is to decrease the cost. He learns this from Dick and Mac McDonald, who own and operate a burger restuarant in California. They have developed a production line for producing three items - hamburgers, french fried potato chips, and milkshakes - which represented 7/8 of their financial turnover. They also dispensed with extra overheads, such as cutlery and seating, and removed entertainment features to create a family-friendly environment. The result is that the cost to the consumer, both in terms of financial cost and of time. Yes, they virtually invented the concept of Fast Food.

    Meanwhile, Kroc's home life is also covered. His first marriage to Laura Dern is unhappy, so he ends up with his friend's wife ( Linda Cardinelli ).

    This movie is taken from Kroc's perspective, so is naturally sympathetic towards him. However, it is not a complete hagiography. His flaws are still on display, as it is made clear in the final title cards that money rightfully owed to the MacDonalds brothers was instead donated to the Salvation Army.

    Gia (1998)

    Gia (1998) Gia ( Angelina Jolie ) is a model in the early 1980s.

    Hitchcock (2012)

    Hitchcock (2012) The story starts in 1944, when Ed Gein (Michael Wincott - Alien: Resurrection ) committed his first recorded murder. The narrator is Alfred Hitchcock himself, in the form of Anthony Hopkins ( ). The irony is that Gein was the inspiration for three big-screen horror icons including Hannibal (2002) - the role that Hopkins himself is most famous for.

    Hitch decides to adapt Robert Bloch's novel, Psycho , into a big-screen horror movie. Supported by his secretary Peggy ( Toni Collette ) he hires screenwriter Joseph Stefano (Ralph Macchio - Karate kid). They have to get around the censor, Geoffrey Shurlock (Kurtwood Smith - Robocop (1987) ).

    The core of the movie concerns Hitch's troubled marriage to Alma ( Helen Mirren ), a skilled screenwriter who is the power behind the throne. She is distracted by her friendship with fellow writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston - American Horror Story ). Hitch's own extramarital distractions are mentioned, specifically his obsession with the actress Vera Miles ( Jessica Biel ).

    In another piece of coincidental casting, Janet Leigh ( Scarlett Johannson ) and Anthony Perkins (James D'Arcy - Agent Carter ) are played by veterans of the Marvel Comics Universe.

    Hummingbird Project, The (2018)

    Hummingbird Project, The (2018) A shifty businessman (Jesse Eisenberg - Batman Vs Superman ) and his cousin attempt to build an information superhighway halfway across the USA, from Kansas City to New York City. Their competition is their old boss ( Salma Hayek ).

    Judy (2019)

    Judy (2019) In the late 1960s, Judy Garland ( Renee Zellweger ) is unemployable in Hollywood USA so she accepts a stage role in London, England.

    While Judy has a lot of problems, both personal and professional, she manages to form a connection with some of her fans. Naturally, these literal friends of Dorothy are members of London's gay community. The result is that this movie does more to empathise with gay people in the bad-old-days than does the heavy-handed effort Milk (2008) .

    Miss Potter (2006)

    Miss Potter (2006) Beatrix Potter ( Renee Zellwegger ) is an unmarried woman in her thirties. Since this is set in the late Victorian era, her mother constantly pressures her to choose a husband. After all, an upper-class lady's main career in that era was as a wife and home-manager. Luckily, her father (Bill Patterson - Outlander ) supports her in her chosen career - writer and illustrator of tales for children.

    Beatrix becomes very close with her Publisher, Mr Warne (Ewan McGregor - Star Wars: TPM ) and his sister Emelia ( Emily Watson ). This is clearly a setup for a romance, and it takes some time before Beatrix has to decide which one is her love interest, and which one she wants to become Just Good Friends with.

    Mommie Dearest (1981)

    Mommie Dearest (1981) Joan Crawford ( Faye Dunaway ) is an actress who adopts a young girl.

    My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn (1985)

    My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn (1985) This is a made-for-TV movie from the 1980s, and somewhat whitewashes the true story of an infamous Hollywood figure. It certainly takes a lot of liberties with the facts. For example, Flynn's stunt double dies tragically in this film ... while in real life, the man this character is based on not only outlived Flynn himself, but was still alive when this film was made!

    Errol Flynn (Duncan Reghr - V: the Series ) arrives in Los Angeles, USA in the 1930s. He makes new friends, and hangs out with an old buddy (Darren McGavin - Night Stalker (1975) ). It is all very PG-rated, even the Spanish Civil War.

    The climax of the story is the Religious Right's attempt to prosecute Flynn. They fit him up on a morality charge, and try to convict him of statutory. Of course, this movie makes him out to be entirely blameless.

    Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

    Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) William Marston (Luke Evans - Dracula Unbound ) and his wife ( Rebecca Hall ) have a happy life working for an Ivy league university in the USA in the 1930s. They have a three-way affair with a student ( Bella Heathcote ) and things get complicated.

    This is a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman . It covers his interest in bondage and the invention of the lie detector, both of which are thematically represented by Wonder Woman's lasso of truth.

    Queen of the Desert (2015)

    Queen of the Desert (2015) Gertrude Bell ( Nicole Kidman ) sets out to explore the Arabian peninsula. She befriends a young archaeologist, TE Lawrence (Robert Pattinson - Twilight ).

    Bell also has a love affair with a British Army Major (Damien Lewis - Your Highness ). However, he is already married ...

    To Olivia (2021)

    To Olivia (2021) Roald Dahl (Hugh Bonneville - ) and his wife, Patricia Neal ( Keeley Hawes ), live in England in the early 1960s. He is a struggling writer of childrens' novels, while she juggles her career as a top Hollywood actress with the motherhood of three children.

    One of the three children, Olivia, passes away. This leaves the family torn apart.

    The grieving couple pay a visit to Roald's old headmaster (Geoffrey Palmer - Tomorrow Never Dies ). He is a bible-thumper, who insists that there are no pets in the Xian afterlife. According to him, animals have a different afterlife. But how can it be heaven if there are no puppies in it?

    This movie is based on a biography of Ms Neal. While Dahl's work may have stood the test of time, his wife was the more successful of the couple at the time. As a result, this story may be about him but it is from her perspective.

    There is a happy ending, of sorts. Roald goes on to write his greatest work, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . Meanwhile, Patricia's agent Marty Ritt (Conleth Hill - Game of Thrones ) lands her an audition with Paul Newman (Sam Heughan - Bloodshot (2019) ) for what becomes an Oscar-winning part.

    Rocketman (2019)

    Rocketman (2019) This is a musical bio-pic of Elton John, played by his co-star from Kingsman: The Golden Circle . The director, Dexter Fletcher , is best known as an actor in movies like Kick Ass .

    Elton John (Taron Egerton - Kingsman ) joins an Addicts Anonymous group, and regales them with the story of his life. This starts with his relationship with his mother ( Bryce Dallas Howard ) and father (Stephen Mackintosh - Underworld ). Later he becomes a successful with his song-writing partner Bernie ( ), and has an unhappy gay love affair with John Reid (Richard Madden - Game of Thrones ).

    The film this best resembles is Bohemian Rhapsody . It covers very similar territory, that of a real-life British rock star as he hits the big time and comes out as gay in the 1980s. Even the disasterous affair with the manipulative manager is included. If they were not both true stories, it would be easy to assume one film was copying the other.

    Save The Cinema! (2022)

    Save The Cinema! (2022) This is a period piece set in the distant year of 1993. Liz Evans ( Samantha Morton ), a hairdresser in Carmarthen in Wales, has fond memories of the Lyric Cinema. After all, it is the hub of the local community. Unfortunately the Mayor (Adeel Akhtar - Utopia ) has been corrupted by a property developer (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: DS9 ) who wants to bulldoze the cinema and build a shopping mall.

    Liz pulls together a bunch of allies, including Susan ( Erin Richards ) and newly-elected town council member Richard Goodridge (Tom Felton - Harry Potter ). However, to get the general public interested in saving the cinema they must start showing films that have mainstream popularity.

    The climax comes when Liz has to contact Stephen Spielberg and persuade him to let her hold the Welsh premiere of his new movie ... Jurassic Park !

    Shadowlands (1985)

    Shadowlands (1985) CS Lewis (Joss Ackland - ) has a long-distance love affair with Joy Gresham ( Claire Bloom ).

    Shadowlands (1993)

    Shadowlands (1993) In 1952, CS Lewis (Anthony Hopkins - Westworld ) is a Don at Oxford university, and has recently published the first of his Narnia books. Since the book is a world-wide success, he gets a lot of fan-mail - and he agrees to meet one of the fans. Joy Gresham ( Debra Winger ) is an American mother-of-one, but despite having little in common they become firm friends.

    Lewis is portrayed as emotionally repressed. At this stage in his career, Hopkins was following up on his portrayal of Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs . As a result, Lewis comes across as potentially sinister in certain scenes. However, many years later Hopkins was outed as autistic. Perhaps this role is the closest to Hopkins' personality.

    Lewis continues his friendship with Joy, after she divorces her alcoholic husband and moves to England. He even agrees to a secret marriage of convenience so that she can stay in the country. When she is diagnosed with cancer, the Doctor (Peter Firth - Equus ) is not hopeful about her prognosis. However, the medical treatment seems to be successful. Perhaps it is the prayers that Lewis has been making.

    There is a subplot involving Whistler (James Frain - Lone Ranger (2013) ), one of Lewis's students. It seems to have been inserted so that Lewis can be shown to grow as a person because of his relationship with Joy. He has learned to listen, rather than just to teach.

    Directed by Richard Attenborough , this is a bigger-budget follow-up to the previous made-for-TV version a few years previously.

    Silk Road (2021)

    Silk Road (2021) This is a story about a tweenage American who seeks to make a practical application for his Libertarian politics. He decides to make a website that allows people to buy and sell contraband over the Internet. The website is called Silk Road, and the owner calls himself Dread Pirate Roberts in a reference to The Princess Bride .

    Meanwhile, the story needs an antagonist. An FBI Agent (Jimmi Simpson - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ) leads an inter-agency task force to hunt town DPR. However, if the story were just a battle of wits between these two then it would be a visually un-exciting series of scenes about people typing on their computers.

    Luckily, there is another federal agent on the case. He is the antithesis of the hero - a middle-aged DEA agent who has just gotten out of rehab. Yes, this is what happens when a cliched movie cop, an alcoholic who can only solve his cases while on suspension, finally has to take responsibility for his actions. He has no knowledge of the Internet, so he gets a low-level informant to teach him the basics. This sets him up as an interesting character, and also provides exposition to make the film more accessible.

    DPR has set up a system that takes drugs off the street. As a result, it lessens the amount of on-street violence from drug-dealers fighting over territory. However, this movie tries to push a drugs are baaad message by pointing out that powerful illicit halucinogens can make a user fall to their death by trying to fly. This is all a distraction, but it does not lessen the injustice of DPR's fate.

    Social Network, The (2010)

    Social Network, The (2010) This is not just about the rise of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg - Batman Vs Superman ), but about the decline of his friendship with room-mate Eduardo (Andrew Garfield - Amazing Spiderman ). Yes, Lex Luthor and Peter Parker were best buddies once.

    Zuckerberg was hired by the Winklevoss Twins (Armie Hammer - Man from UNCLE (2015) ) and their friend (Max Mingella - Handmaid's Tale ) to build a website. He then takes their idea, an updated version of MySpace or Yahoogroups, and makes his own version ... The Facebook!

    Things start to take a turn for the worse when Zuckerberg starts to hang out with Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake - In Time (2011) ). Eduardo gets pushed out of the inner circle, hence the legal hearing used as a framing device for the story.

    Despite being based on Eduardo's version of events, this is quite a balanced view.

    Stardust (2020)

    Stardust (2020) In the early 1970s, David Bowie is a big star in the UK but virtually unknown in the USA. He plans to change that with a tour of the States. Unfortunately the US Company he has signed with has made available no assets to back the tour.

    The result is a low-key road movie, with Bowie and his American companion making their way from gig to gig. The budget is so low that the only recognisable face in the cast is Jena Malone as Bowie's wife, who handles things back home in England while her husband is away in the States.

    Tolkien (2019)

    Tolkien (2019) JRR Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult - X-Men: First Class ) is a young army officer, experiencing the horrors of trench warfare in the First World War. He has flashbacks to his childhood - the death of his mother ( Laura Donnelly ) and his guardianship going to his Catholic priest (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: DS9 ). At school he has a small group of friends - a Fellowship of sorts.

    As Tolkien grows up, he gets a love interest - Edith ( Lily Collins ). He even gets to study ancient languages at Oxford with Derek Jacobi ( Dead Again ).

    The battle scenes are few and far between. There are touches of inspiration, such as a German flame-thrower standing in for Smaug the fire-breathing dragon in The Hobbit , but basically it is just every World War One cliche thrown together.

    Finally, after Tolkien's part in the war is ended, he has to deal with his grief. Eventually he starts to write the works for which he became famous.

    Vita And Virginia (2018)

    Vita And Virginia (2018) In 1920s London, Virgina Wolf ( ) has a lesbian love affair with fellow novelist Vita Sackville-West ( ).

    Vita becomes the inspiration for Virginia's novel Orlando , about an immortal person who changes gender over the course of several centuries.

    A Walk In The Woods (2015)

    A Walk In The Woods (2015) Bill Bryson (Robert Redford - ), the famed travel writer, decides to hike the Appalachian trail. His wife ( Emma Thompson ) refuses to let him go alone, so he teams up with his old buddy Katz (Nick Nolte - Tropic Thunder ).

    This is based on a trek that the two men made while still aged in their mid-forties. However, the movie version has them in their seventies. The result, a lot of slapstick humour involving elderly men, is more than a little reminiscent of Last of the Summer Wine.

    Welcome to Marwen (2018)

    Welcome to Marwen (2018) This is a Robert Zemeckis film, based on the true story of Mark Hogencamp (Steve Carrell - Evan Almighty ) - a grown man who lives his life by acting out World War Two fantasies with a set of personalised Action Man dolls.

    In real life, Mark's guardians are all female. This is reflected in his fantasy life with his diverse barbie dolls, who reflect the women in his life. They include his African-American physiotherapist ( Janelle Monae ), his Russian social worker ( Gwendoline Christie ), his Latina kitchen cow-orker ( Eiza Gonzalez ) and the red-headed new neighbour Nicol ( Leslie Mann ).

    The fantasy violence is two-dimensional, devoid of consequences because the fictional Nazis always regenerate. However, it all takes place under the shadow of the real-life attack the protagonist suffered. His lawyer regularly phones him with reminders to attend the sentancing hearing of his attackers.

    Nicol has a jerkish ex-boyfriend Kurt (Neil Jackson - Blade: The Series ), paralleled by the arrival of a doll of SS General Kurt Meyer. Kurt accuses Mark of being a White supremacist pedophile, while Mark stereotypes Kurt as the same.

    Wilde (1997)

    Wilde (1997) Oscar Wilde (Stephen Fry - V For Vendetta (2006) )

    Awakenings (1990)

    Awakenings (1990) This is a true-life story about a medical discovery and a long-forgotten plague. Dr Sayers (Robin Williams - ), a researcher whose experiments were unsuccessful, gets a job as a psychiatrist at a hospital for the chronically ill. He teams up with his nurse Eleanor ( Julie Kavner ) to try and make improvements. Not in a Patch Adams way, but in a way that is actually based (somewhat vaguely) on real life.

    Sayers discovers that some of the long-term patients who are believed to be catatonic or practically brain-dead are suffering with a form of encephalitis. When he starts to work with Leonard Lowe (Robert Deniro - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ), Sayers discovers that the patients are not brain-dead or catatonic. With the help of a pharmaceutical salesman (Peter Stormare - Armageddon (1998) ) he manages to find a treatment that works.

    Leonard recovers from the illness that has imprisoned him for decades. He even has a love interest, Penelope Ann Miller . If she looks familiar, it is because she was also the love interest for Al Pacino in Carlito's Way a few years later.

    While the treatment is effective, at the end of the Second Act we discover that the effect is temporary. The patients, as well as Sayers and his team, must confront the harsh reality that the patients will return to their chronically ill condition.

    State of Mind (2008) AKA Three Christs

    State of Mind (2008) AKA Three Christs Much like Awakenings (1990) , this is based on a true-life story about a psychiatric researcher who takes a job in an Asylum and tries new treatments on patients formerly considered incurable. He is known for stating that the medical establishment merely warehoused its patients, a good summary of the status quo in the Robin Williams version. This movie has slight differences, and a notably grimmer tone.

    Doctor Stone (Richard Gere - ) treats three patients who all believe they are Jesus Christ. They are Peter Dinklage ( Game of Thrones ), Bradley Whitford ( ) and Walton Goggins ( Django Unchained ).

    Scientific Biography Pictures (Biopics)

    Apollo 13 (1995)

    Apollo 13 (1995) In 1970, NASA astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks - Big ) is appointed commander of the next manned mission to the moon, codenamed Apollo Thirteen, along with colleagues Fred Hayes (Bill Paxton - Aliens ) and Ken Maddingly (Gary Sinise - The Stand ). Ken gets replaced with Jack Swaggart (Kevin Bacon - Friday the 13th ), and the team's luck seems on the down side.

    As the team are rocketing towards the moon, their spaceship is rocked by an explosion. The astronauts must rely on Ground Controller Gene Kranz (Ed Harris - The Abyss ) and his support team for advice to keep them alive. As the tension rises, Lovell's wife Marilyn ( Kathleen Quinlan ) watches from the sidelines with NASA PR man Henry Hurt (Xander Berkley - Gattacca ).

    This was an oscar-worthy film by Ron Howard , based on the first-hand account by Lovell himself. These days it is most famous for not mentioning the historical contributions of top NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, the African-American woman who calculated the return trajectory which ultimately saved the astronauts' lives. This fact was called out on the TV show Timeless , although Johnson actually got her own movie - Hidden Figures (2016) . There is another blatant historical anachronism. We see several people chewing gum, but nobody on-screen is actually smoking a cigarette.

    First Man (2018)

    First Man (2018) This follows the life of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling - Blade Runner 2049 (2017) ), from his time as a USAF test-pilot to the conclusion of the Apollo 11 mission which saw him become the first man on the moon. Meanwhile, his wife ( Claire Foy ) is under constant stress as home-maker and virtual widow. Her storyline is reminiscent of that of Madeline Stowe as a military wife in We were Soldiers.

    The ground controllers Kyle Chandler ( Early Edition ) and Ciaran Hinds ( Lara Croft: Cradle Of Life (2005) ) seem to have things under control. But Armstrong's fellow astronaut Gus Grissom (Jason Clarke - Terminator: Genisys (2016) ) discovers that there are a lot of risks involved.

    Finally, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll - The Strain ) set off on the Apollo 11 mission. We know how it will end, so only the highlights are shown, but there is an incredible sense of awe as we see it from a new perspective.

    Hidden Figures (2016)

    Hidden Figures (2016) Katherine Johnston ( Taraji P. Henson ) and her friends Peggy ( Octavia Spencer ) and Janelle Monae work for NASA in the 1960s. The story starts with the three of them driving to work, encountering a white male police officer on the way. This sets the tone for the rest of the film.

    The story should be about the womens' achievements, but in fact most of the movie is about invented problems. The boss (Kevin Costner - Waterworld ) is a stereotypical White Saviour. His minion, Paul (Jim Parsons - ) is a crawling snob who, if we did not automatically associate him with Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory would be assumed to be some kind of racist misogynist. Meanwhile, Peggy has a female boss ( Kirsten Dunst ) who treats her more like a friend than a minion, and this kind of informality is taken as unprofessional behaviour intended to imply that the boss is a closeted racist.

    There is a book of the same name as this film. Unfortunately the film is not based on the book, since they were both produced at the same time. They are based on the same magazine article, and while the book is well-researched the movie is low-brow and heavy-handed. The nearest comparison would be The Butler, similarly a real-life story of a successful person which became padded out so as to encompass every different kind of event in the life of every different kind of African-American.

    Lucy In The Sky (2019)

    Lucy In The Sky (2019) Lucy Cola ( Natalie Portman ) is a NASA astronaut After successfully completing a space-walk and returning safely to the Earth, life with her husband (Dan Stevens - The Guest ) just does not seem like enough any more.

    Lucy spends more and more time with work colleagues. A shuttle pilot (John Hamm - Baby Driver ) invites her to join the bowling team with the mission controller (Jeffrey Donovan - Blair Witch 2 ). She also discovers she has a rival ( Zazie Beets ) - and not just for a job as a shuttle mission specialist.

    After the high of her spacewalk, Lucy slides into a mental decline once she is trapped in her normal life back on Earth. Lucy's downward spiral is noted by her boss (Colman Domingo - Fear The Walking Dead ). Of course, when he does something about it - as he really has to do, under the circumstances - this really just makes things worse for her.

    As the story progresses and Lucy's downward spiral continues, it becomes more and more self-evident that this is based on a true story. Yes, the disclaimer in the end credits is basically untruthful.

    Man Who Knew Infinity, The (2015)

    Man Who Knew Infinity, The (2015) Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel - The Green Knight ) is a University dropout who is obsessed with mathematics. Thanks to the assistance of his boss, Sir Francis Spring (Stephen Fry - Wilde ), Ramanujan makes contact with a Cambridge University Professor by the name of Hardy (Jeremy Irons - Dungeons and Dragons ). When Hardy invites Ramanujan to join him at Trinity, this is the beginning of a strange relationship between the two.

    Ramanujan, an impoverished South Asian, is a fish out of water among the upper middle-class English people in Cambridge. Some of the staff, like Littlewood (Toby Jones - Your Highness ), are welcoming to the newcomer. Others, like MacMahon (Kevin McNally- The Outpost ), are unhappy at the presence of the outsider.

    Ramanujan is far from home, where his wife ( Devika Bhise ) is stuck with his mother. This leads on to more drama.

    Radioactive (2019)

    Radioactive (2019) This starts with Marie Sadovska ( Rosamund Pike ) on her deathbed in the 1930s, then goes back forty years to when she first met Pierre Curie (Sam Riley - ). They started sharing a laboratory, and their scientific partnership was productive. Also they got married and had some children.

    The good news is that Curies definitely changed the scientific understanding of the universe. Before their discovery of radioactivity, Lord Kelvin had calculated the age of the sun based on the preconception that it was made of coal. Of course, the figure he came up with was a gross underestimate.

    The bad news is that the newly discovered element, Radium, was shoe-horned into as many products as possible. While the Curies did not benefit from this crass commercialisation, it did not occur to them that it was potentially dangerous. The movie attempts to overcorrect this, by forcing in a scene of the destruction of Hiroshima in 1945.

    Pierre dies first, although his death seems to have been sanitised. He has a coughing illness that is not explained, while in reality it was radioactive mouthwash which destroyed his jaw. As a result of his death, Marie inherits his Professorship at the Sorbonne. However, as the true dangers of radioactivity become apparent she is the one who carries the blame for the discovery. Worse, her boyfriend's wife ( Katherine Parkinson ) sets out to destroy her reputation by stealing and publishing intimate letters. This is a form of revenge porn, just as the baying mob outside Marie's home is a symbol of cancel culture.

    As Marie's mental health deteriorates, we get a flash-forward to Chernobyl in 1986. Luckily, Marie wins the Nobel prize a second time. When the First World War breaks out, Marie is spurred to action by her daughter Irene ( Anya Taylor-Joy ). She plans to use mobile X-ray machines on ambulances sent to the front line.

    Finally, as Marie's world blends with the future she sees the victims of her radioactivity from Hiroshima and Chernobyl. However, the end credits focus on the positive aspects of the Curies and their discoveries.

    A Theory Of Everything (2014)

    A Theory Of Everything (2014) Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne - Jupiter Ascending ) studies for his PhD at Oxford, alongside his best friend (Harry Lloyd - Game of Thrones ). A young woman ( Felicity Jones ) enters his life, and everything looks perfect. Then he gets a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's disease, with a life expectancy of two years.

    The story focuses on the family's domestic drama. Stephen gets a new nurse ( Maxine Peake ), an attractive and flirtatious woman who he develops a relationship with.

    Crime Biography Pictures (Biopics)

    American Gangster (2007)

    American Gangster (2007) Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington - ) is the personal driver for Bumpy Johnston, the African-American gangster who ran the Harlem underworld since the days of Lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz. When Bumpy dies, Frank takes the old man's advice. He cuts out the middle-men, goes straight to a manufacturer in the Far East ... and becomes the biggest importer of heroin into the USA. Although movies like Panther promote the CIA/Mafia conspiracy theory, so they could flood African-American neighbourhoods with drugs, this version gives all the credit to Frank Lucas himself. He seems to have the same plan as Mr Big in Live And Let Die , although he does not grow it on his own Caribbean island.

    Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe - Gladiator ) is a police detective who thinks he is a good guy. Although he is willing to use lies and violence to get himself success as a policeman, he refuses to steal a million dollars of proceeds-of-crime money that he and his partner find unattended. His Wife ( Carla Gugino ) divorces him, and points out his hypocrisy.

    Tricky Dicky Nixon starts the war on drugs, and Richie gets put in charge of the New Jersey DEA. Eventually he realises that winning the War on Drugs would be counter-productive. Without it, a hundred thousand workers in the police and prison-industrial complex would be unemployed. Certainly, the New York City detectives led by Trupo (Josh Brolin - Avengers: Infinity War ) are more than happy to tax the dealers rather than arrest them.

    Richie realises that the Italian Mafia is going out of business, but he cannot work out who is behind it. Eventually he sees Frank, and wonders how a Black man could be so rich. Yes, it never occurred to anyone to ask who took over Bumpy's mob.

    The movie needs a happy ending, so in the Third Act the cat and mouse become friends. Richie gets Frank to rat out the NYC cops who helped him, and while Frank is redeemed it means the bit-player Trupo ends up as the villain.

    Directed by Ridley Scott , this was based on the article The Return of Superfly by Mark Jacobson.

    Bonnie And Clyde (1967)

    Bonnie And Clyde (1967) Bonnie Parker ( Faye Dunaway ) is a young woman who elopes with Clyde Barrow ( ).

    Extremely Wicked, Shockily Evil And Vile (2019)

    Extremely Wicked, Shockily Evil And Vile (2019) In the early 1970s, Seattle college girl Elizabeth Kendall ( Lily Collins ) falls for a promising young man named Ted Bundy (Zac Effron - Baywatch (2017) ). It all goes well at first, but Bundy ends up in jail on suspicion of attempted abduction. His lawyer John O'Connell (Jeffrey Donovan - Blair Witch 2 ) puts up a good fight, but the jury ignores police malfeasance. Later, Detective Mike Fisher (Terry Kinney - ) has Bundy extradited to Colorado on suspicion of being a serial killer.

    While Ted is in jail, Liz hangs out with her friend Joanna ( Angela Sarafyan ) and her cow-orker Jerry (Haley Joel Osment - Second-Hand Lions ) - both of whom try to convince her that Bundy is guilty. When Liz starts to avoid his phone calls, Bundy seeks solace with Carole Ann Boone ( Kaya Scodelario ).

    As this is not a police procedural, we see things from the defence team's perspective. Bundy asserts that prosecutors like Larry Simpson (Jim Parsons - ) seem to be motivated by their own political gain. The Media treats Bundy as if he were guilty until proven innocent. At least Judge Edward D. Cowart (John Malkovich - Space Force ) seems keen on having a fair trial, even if he repeatedly tells Bundy Bless your heart.

    On its release, this movie was castigated by feminists because it depicted a serial killer as a human being instead of a supernatural force for evil. They ignored the fact that it is based on the book The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall herself, and thus shows Bundy's charming side because that is the facade that he always showed Liz.

    Goodfellas (1990)

    Goodfellas (1990) This is based on the book Wiseguy, the biography of the gangster Henry Hill as written by journalist Nick Pileggi. Martin Scorsese delivers possibly the best true-crime biopic ever made.

    Back in the 1950s, Henry Hill ( ) was a kid from an Italian-American neighbourhood in New York. As a child he got a part-time job in a Mafia-owned business. When he grew up he worked with Tommy the hit-man (Joe Pesci - ), who worked for Jimmy the hijacker (Robert Deniro - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ), who worked for Paulie the Boss (Paul Sorvino - The Rocketeer ) ...

    Tommy makes Henry be his wingman on a double-date, and Henry ends up married to Karen ( Lorraine Bracco ). She plays an important role in the film as co-narrator, giving her own perspective on life in the criminal community.

    Henry's memoir seems quite self-serving. Although his crew is involved in a lot of violence, the movie presents him as being a witness rather than a participant. For example, this version of events minimises his culpability in the movie's signature crime - the murder of Billy Batts. In reality, the killing may have been motivated by financial greed more than the emotive reasoning shown in this movie.

    Henry was lucky not to be directly involved in the crew's biggest crime - the Lufthansa heist. The gang took six million dollars in cash, which should have been enough for everyone, but Jimmy decided to kill his own crew rather than pay them. Stacks Edwards (Samuel L Jackson - Avengers Assemble ) may have been a screw-up, but the movie excuses Jimmy's double-crossing as a house-cleaning exercise to remove people who defied his orders and spent money in a way that would attract unnecessary attention. In reality, since he would not pay Maurie then he would not have paid the others either.

    The movie may attempt to mitigate Henry's behaviour, and that of his buddy Jimmy, but it does not shy away from his decline and fall. He cheats on his wife, and by 1980 he becomes dependent on the drugs he sells. It is only a matter of time before he inevitably get caught, and since Paulie specifically ordered the crew to avoid drugs it is clear he will be regarded as being expendable.

    Some people have suggested that Henry gets away with his crimes. The truth is that he ends up serving a life sentence, being watched by prison guards while he himself looks over his own shoulder in case his former friends catch up with him. And the worst thing is that despite having nothing to eat but prison food, he has to pay for it out of his own pocket.

    The Journey (2016)

    The Journey (2016) The story is set during the negotiations between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein (PIRA) in Scotland. Reverend Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall - Red Dwarf ) takes a car to the airport. Paisley's arch-enemy, Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: DS9 ), tags along for the ride. They are driven by a child-like chauffeur (Freddie Highsmith - Bates Motel ) who attempts a half-hearted Scottish accent.

    How is this a techno-thriller? It turns out that the car is bugged for video and sound. The whole thing is being manipulated behind the scenes by British Intelligence boss John Hurt ( Alien ), for the benefit of bumbling Prime Minister Tony Blair (Toby Stephens - Die Another Day ). In turn, Blair lets the DUP and PIRA delegates know that he is manipulating their leaders. Of course, none of this makes sense.

    This was written by Colin Bateman, but it is certainly not his best work. The real problem is the story's structure. A few years previously Tom Hardy (Bane in The Dark Knight Rises ) starred in Locke, a one-man play where he spends the entire story stuck in the driving seat of a car, and communicates with the other characters via his hands-free telephone kit. However, this movie relies on tired old tropes to get the characters out of the car.

    Judas And The Black Messiah (2021)

    Judas And The Black Messiah (2021) J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen - A.L.F. ) may have been on the side of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi Burning, but in this movie he fears that Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluya - Widows ) is the Black Messiah who will destroy the American way of life. Not only is Hampton an outspoken proponent of Maoism, which is basically Stalinism, but he uses rhetoric that encourages violence.

    Bill O'Neal (LaKeith Stansfield - Sorry To Bother you ), a con-man who steals cars, is arrested by the FBI. They force him to act as an informer and infiltrate the Panthers, with Hampton as the target. He does a good job, getting himself chosen as head of security.

    This was written with the help of Hampton's widow, so it takes his side. The FBI are painted as the bad guys, in a conspiracy to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary, including murder. Meanwhile, the Panthers themselves are keen enough to murder people. Much like S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: Winter Soldier , they espouse the same values they claim to abhor. ( )

    Kidnapping Mr Heineken (2015)

    Kidnapping Mr Heineken (2015) In 1982 a group of friends in Amsterdam are down on their luck. They decide to turn to a life of crime. To start with, they rob a cash deposit van for some investment capital. Then they do the big job - kidnapping local billionaire Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins - Silence Of The Lambs ) and holding him for ransom. Naturally it does not go the way they wanted it to.

    The plan actually seems solid. However, somehow the cops close in on Jan (Ryan Kwanten - True Blood ) and the others. Finally, Cor (Jim Sturgess - Geostorm ) and Willem (Sam Worthington - Clash Of The Titans ) go on the run together.

    Lansky (2021)

    Lansky (2021) Dave (Sam Worthington - ), a struggling writer, is hired to help Meyer Lansky (Harvey Keitel - ) work on his autobiography. The old man recounts his younger days, including his marriage to AnnaSophia Robb .

    Worthington gets his own love interest - Minka Kelly . However, he discovers that the FBI has him in their sights because they want the three hundred million dollars that Lansky supposedly has stashed away somewhere.

    Zola (2020)

    Zola (2020) Zola is an African-American waitress. She befriends Stefani ( Riley Keogh ), who gets her a job in a local strip-club. Then, with the promise of a better-paying job in Florida, Stefani and her flatmate (Colman Domingo - Fear The Walking Dead ) take Zola on a road-trip.

    Although this is basically a sexploitation story, it is female-orientated. The women may be strippers and whores, but all the nudity is actually by the males. This is quite a change for Keogh, who does artistic nudity in most of her other roles.

    Instead of being based on a book, or even on a magazine article, it was taken from a series of twitter tweets. Originally James Franco ( Your Highness ) was involved, but he took his name off it after he was accused of being a sleazy jerk. Instead, this effort is being portrayed as the work of an African-American female director. This leads on to an element of politicization. The character Stefani is a white-passing woman who uses a patois derived from Ebonics, which would at one time maker her an ally of the Black community but now leaves her open to accusations of cultural appropriation. In truth, when culture becomes successful it becomes mainstream, which means it gets dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

    Royal Biography Pictures (Biopics)

    Sports Biography Pictures (Biopics)

    Foxcatcher (2014)

    Foxcatcher (2014) John Du Pont (Steve Carell - Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World ), a lonely man insulated from reality by his inherited wealth, lives in a mansion with his mother Jean ( Vanessa Redgrave ) and his henchman Jack (Anthony Michael Hall - Halloween Kills ). When John takes it upon himself to start a wrestling team, he hires gold-medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum - ) as team-leader. He also wants Mark's brother David (Mark Ruffalo - ), who is reluctant to move house because of his wife Nancy ( Sienna Miller ) and their children.

    This is basically an Oscar-bait drama, based on a true story, and equipped with a impressive cast. Carell and Tatum, best known for comedy and action movies respectively, deliver solid performances. That said, the film is slow and even tedious in a way that makes Lost in Translation seem like The Fast and the Furious . It does not even pass the Bechdel test. In fact, Miller as Nancy does not even get any dialogue! Instead, the story concentrates on DuPont and Mark - a pair of emotionally isolated loners who have a lot in common. However, they eventually have a falling out. The climax comes out of nowhere, as the story turns to unprovoked violence.

    King Richard (2021)

    King Richard (2021) Richard Williams (Will Smith - Wild Wild West ) raises his two daughters, Venus and Serena, to be tennis proteges.

    The whole point of the movie is that the Williams family came from a working-class blue-collar neighbourhood, they did not have the privileges associated with the middle class, and yet the girls still succeeded as world-class players. However, Richard gets upset whenever any of the white characters actually acknowledge this on-screen.

    Seabiscuit (2003)

    Seabiscuit (2003) This is named after the race-horse that is central to the plot, but it is really a drama about the three men on the racing team. Like the horse, they have all been battered by life

    Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges - Iron Man ) Marcella ( Elizabeth Banks ) Tom Smith (Chris Cooper - Where The Wild Things Are ) Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire - Spider-Man ) Samuel Riddle ( Lois and Clark )