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56. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (#16)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

To avoid prison on a statutory rap charge, charming misfit Randle McMurphy secures a transfer to a low-security psychiatric ward for evaluation. What initially seems like a cunning plan to serve out the rest of his sentence in more soothing surroundings quickly evolves into a battle of wits for the hearts and souls of the hospital’s residents.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 16th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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44. Chinatown (#127)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and this week with special guest Phil Bagnell, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

When a seemingly routine investigation into spousal infidelity evolves into a political scandal, private investigator J.J. Gittes finds himself navigating the dark underworld of thirties Los Angeles. Sinister conspiracies, local politics, private ownership of public utilities. As Gittes digs deeper and deeper, he uncovers the rotten foundations upon which the city was built.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 127th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: The Raven (1963)

Part of me longs for the day that Edgar Allen Poe might get a cinematic adaptation befitting his work. I’m a huge fan of Poe, who is an author who seems destined to receive more cinematic homage that straight-up adaptation. So, despite having relatively little to do with the poem of the same name, is the epic team up of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Jack Nicholson worthwhile? Well, The Raven is almost too camp even for me.

I did say “almost.”

The Price is right...

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Non-Review Review: Targets

Targets still feels quite a bit ahead of its time, which is quite something for a film intended to transition between the classic horror monster movies and the more sinister and grounded modern horrors. Indeed, Boris Karloff’s last starring role seems to prefigure a shift in the type of horror movies flooding the cinemas, years ahead of the more iconic and mundane “slasher” icons who succeeded Dracula and Frankenstein as the monsters at the matinée. Targets is an intriguing and remarkable little film, charmingly understanded and perhaps appealing for the lack of pomp it attempts to generate.

The horror!

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Non-Review Review: Mars Attacks!

I have a genuine affection for Mars Attacks! It’s certainly not Tim Burton’s best work, but it’s also miles above some of his more disappointing output. It feels like an affectionate homage to Ed Wood, putting together the kind of movie that the old B-movie director would have approved of, except with the judgement to play it as a comedy rather than entirely straight (although Wood’s filmography is typically “so bad it’s good“, one could scarcely accuse the director of being in on the joke), and made with a more significant budget. Seen in that light, it’s hard to resist the movie’s (admittedly uneven) charms.

The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, they say...

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To The Devil His Due: Why I Don’t Begrudge Classic Actors “Selling Out”…

I happened to catch a few minutes of Anger Management on television last night. Not enough that I’d feel comfortable reviewing it, but enough to remember most of what I needed to about the movie – which was a perfectly standard Adam Sandler comedy notable for affording the comedian the opportunity to play opposite Jack Nicholson. Nicholson who was an autopilot for the most of the film, but managed to deliver one of the most awkwardly creepy-and-hilarious moments in recent cinematic history as his eyebrows urge Sandler’s character to deliver the line, “I’m sorry I was so rude before… but… it’s difficult for me… to… express myself… when I am on the verge of… exploding in my pants.” Aside from that surreal perv-y old man moment, Nicholson seemed to be in the film mostly for the pay check, which seems to be a recurring trend these days for all manner of respected veteran actors. It’s easy to label performances by Al Pacino in Righteous Kill and 88 Minutes or Robert DeNiro in Little Fockers as classic actors “selling out”, but is it really that big a deal? Is it something we can begrudge these one-time icons?

Most of his paychecks get made out to "Jack Nicholson's eybrows"...

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Non-Review Review: Chinatown

“You may think you know what’s you’re dealing with,” a character warns private detective Jack Gittes at one point during Chinatown“but, believe me, you don’t.” Later on, Gittes confesses to his lover that, when he was a police officer working in Chinatown, his beat consisted of doing “as little as possible”, an anecdote that screenwriter Robert Towne reportedly heard from an officer who had actually served in Chinatown – rather than an officer involving himself in some sort of event that he couldn’t possibly comprehend, the police would actively disengage themselves from the community. That’s the core of the corruption at the heart of Polanski’s film – how little anyone actually knows about what is really happening, and how it’s easy to ignore these things rather than attempting to deal with them.

A nosey detective...

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Non-Review Review: Batman

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Tim Burton and Michael Keaton’s Batman. I mean, I hate what the series became with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, but I think that Burton managed to craft a unique and yet suitable visual and design aesthetic for the character and his world, while Keaton managed to embody a tragic Batman who really seems quite distinct from most iterations either before or since. While I wouldn’t argue this take on Batman should be “definitive”, or that it fits as comfortably as Nolan’s Batman Begins or even Batman: The Animated Series, I do think it’s a valid and intriguing exploration of one of pop culture’s most enduring and evolving characters.

Full moon…

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Non-Review Review: The Shining

My mum can’t watch horror films. She just can’t. Even if they aren’t that scary. Even if they are horror-comedies or versions of stories she’s heard before. She can’t even be in the same room when they’re on – even if nothing actually horrific is happening. It turns out that – in her youth, while an au pair in Belgium – one of her friends convinced her to see a movie playing in the local cinema. A film about a family in a hotel over the winter, starring Jack Nicholson. That movie scared her to death, and has arguably scared her ever since.

That movie is – if you haven’t gathered from the title of this post and the plot description – The Shining.

Baby, it's cold outside...

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I’m a Grinner, I’m a Lover, I’m a Sinner…

… I’m a Joker, I’m a Smoker, I’m a Midnight Toker

What is it about the Joker that makes him such a great villain. He’s appeared in just about every media form where Batman has appeared since Batman #1 way back in 1940. He is one of only two villains to appear in both of the more recent Batman film franchises and he seems to be the only character in the history of the Batman family who has survived every era of the character unblemished. Be it the light comic relief of the Dick Sprang era reflected in the Adam West show (where Ceasar Romero is clearly wearing a mustache under his makeup), the darker sense of humour of the animated Joker voiced by Mark Hamill in The Animated Series through to the anarchist/nihilist terrorist portrayed by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight – none of these incarnations are any less in character than any of the others. What is it about the Joker that makes him one of the great villains of our time?

The world's leading cause of coulrophobia...

The world's leading cause of coulrophobia...

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