Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room”

Review by Lewis Goodall

I havent done this before on here but I just wanted to take the chance to talk about one of my favourite films ever made. It didnt reach the top 5 but it would definitely be in the top 10 for sure. It’s one of those perfect films that has just about everything included in one film.

Dr Strangelove: or how I stopped worrying and learn to love the bomb, directed by the king of cinema, Stanley Kubrick. Based on a book with a much shorter name, Dr Strangelove is a political satire regarding nuclear warfare. When a general gets a silly idea, he orders planes to fly to Russia and nuke the place. Meanwhile in the presidential war room, the highest authorities in the military meet to discuss plans on how to stop the attack from happening.

On the surface this seems like a very political film about nuclear warfare… which it is, but it is also a perfectly constructed satire about the ridiculousness of warfare. It’s a comedy disguised as a high tension drama and it plays both parts incredibly. The comedy is mainly brought along by the incredible Peter Sellers who plays three roles in the film. Captain Mandrake, a British captain who works alongside the insane general that orders the attack on Russia. The President and also the infamous Dr Strangelove, a German in charge of weapon research. Peter Sellers was aloud to run riot as all three of these characters. Considering Kubrick is such a perfectionist, its surprising that he let Sellers take the reigns but if you’ve seen the film, you can see why he would let Sellers out into the wild and just film the outrage.

Most of Peter Sellers lines are improvised which makes it all the more hilarious. I wouldn’t say this is the funnest film in the world but having such farcical characters within such a dramatic and serious situation just makes it hit that much more different. Aside from the comedy, the actual story line it pretty unique and the narrative plays perfectly like a disaster film, where the real disasters are the people in control.

Obviously the direction of this film is incredible, its Stanley Kubrick for christ sake. Kubrick has pretty much nailed every genre, the war genre with Full metal Jacket, Sci Fi with 2001: a space odyssey and horror with The Shining so naturally he had to tackle comedy and he nailed it. This is true comedy, not the pap that you get nowadays, this is classic comedy at its finest.

Overal this film is just so great, so so great, I love it. I think Sellers makes the film, if he wasnt there then it wouldnt play so well but his performance is some of the finest in comedy history. Also this films tone is so serious as well and what happens within the film, actually got the law changed. They actually changed the law to make sure that the events in the films never happened in real life. Little fact for you there.

10 Five Fingered Nazis out of 10

The Incredible Shrinking man

“I felt puny and absurd, a ludicrous midget”

Review by Lewis Goodall

The Idea of being smaller Intrigues me. I know it would be a pain to have to climb onto a chair to sit on it but in the scheme of things I think there are a lot of positives. Meals seem bigger to you, clothes are cheaper because you can buy children’s clothing and the biggest plus of them all would be that you can be an adult and still get away with getting into wear’m’out.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN!!! Directed by Jack Arnold, is a classic film about… well you get exactly what it says on the tin really, the incredible shrinking man. Scott Carey (played by Grant Williams) is a regular sized man who encounters a strange mist while out to sea on a vacation with his wife, Louise (Randy Stuart). After the mist leaves glitter on his chest, he starts to notice that his clothes are starting to feel baggy on him. After some time Scott now has the stature of a 5 year old boy and continues to shrink. Reaching the size of a common mouse, Scott must survive in this new universe of which he used to call his basement.

I never knew a fear of mine would be shrinking. I’ve always found the idea quite amusing, I’d love to see what the world would be like if I was pocket sized but after seeing this film, I’m good, I’ve had my fill of what it would be like. Now this film came out in 1957 so as expected the technology of making a man small is not as clean as it would be now but my god for it’s time it’s a fine effort. Other than some dodgy green screen, the visual decline of Scotts size was done incredibly well. Some of it is green screen but for the majority of the time they actually created a set to make him appear smaller. Particularly in the early stages of the film when he is toddler sized, the set makes him look small with the use of oversized chairs and coffee tables to really sell the effect of him being a tiddlywink but without looking stupid. It was funny but I think that’s just because it was done well enough that this man actually looked like he was shrinking which really sold the idea of the film to me, I was invested in the shrinkage.

As he becomes smaller, it creates a strain on his relationship with his wife, naturally, quite hard to keep a relationship going with a man that lives in a dolls house in the loving room ( they could’ve still gotten intimate, he couldve still pleasured her by using her button like one of those speed ball boxing set ups). Trouble sparks when the household cat gets a sniff of him and he must run for his life. Now being the size I am now I’m confident I could take a cat in a fight, i could kick one pretty well, but seeing one that is 20x the size of me would be terrifying, this film made that a reality. Scott also has to face a spider which also freaked me the hell out. Considering the age I thought that all the encounters would be goofy but I genuinely felt tense during all of it and it was fantastic.

So visually this film is done tremendously for it’s time, there were a few moments where he was partly invisible due to the green screen but it didnt take away from the overal experience. The acting from everyone involved was pretty solid as well. What this film did though that I really wasnt expecting was that it ended with a really powerful and Inspiring message which is was not expecting. I guess minor spoilers so skip to the next paragraph for the overal but it ended basically by saying that he has accepted the fact that he is getting smaller and adapting to the world around him, and even though he may get smaller and smaller, in the end of the day, compared to the universe we are all small and insignificant. Even though we are small, we are still there, we are not nothing, we are here. I wasnt expecting this, I didnt think I would leave this film feeling better, feeling less insignificant.

Overal this film was way more than what I was expecting, I was going into thinking it was going to be a typical classic B movie but it was so much bigger than that. This is a classic film thatll stick with me and will definitely be watching again. Even though this film unlocked some fears within me that I didnt think I had, next time i see a cat that’s slightly too big then be sure I’ll be booting it as far away from me as possible.

8 Pencil Rafts out of 10

The Wasp Woman

“I try to take my inspiration from the bees”

Review by Lewis Goodall

1959 was a stunning year for classic cinema, it brought us the thrilling, cat and mouse flick ‘North By Northwest’ by Alfred Hitchcock. We got chariot racing epic ‘Ben-Hur’. We also was graced with the utterly hilarious and perfect, ‘Some Like It Hot’ ( a random thought that just came into my head, I’m sure there’s got to be a porn parody of that film called ‘Some Like It Thot’). With these films and a few others, Roger Corman looked at this and thought “woah woah woah… let’s reign this in a bit huh?” And decided to make ‘The Wasp Woman’

A scientist, who works for a cosmetic company, has finally cracked the formula for an exciting new product that shoots youth back into the lives of people who use it. Extracting royal jelly from wasps, the scientist learns by testing on animals that this jelly has the ability to halt the ageing process and then reverse it so the user becomes younger. The CEO of the company, Susan ( played by Janice Starlin), who is the face of the company with pictures of her on the products, decides to change the face to younger, Sprite young frilly. As profits drop since the move to younger face, Susan takes matter into her own hands and works along side the scientist with his new discovery. I’ll stop the description there, I’m sure at the point you can put two and two together with what happens in the rest of the story considering the title of the film.

I would definitely consider this film more of a C movie, it’s too waspy to be a B movie. Everything about this film screams that it had a budget of less than the cost it takes to make a kinder egg toy. I would say that I understand why it’s not as well made as films now days because its 1959 and its understandable that it probably hasn’t aged well but then I remember the 3 films I mentioned In the first paragraph and realised that no, you can make good films. The amount of times where I have up on the dialogue due to the sound quality being so poor that I only just understood what was happening, although most of the film I was watching with a pooch head tilt because I had no idea what was happening. Luckily the film has a very generic, horror flick story line to it that it was easy to follow, even when they were talking about wasp royal jelly and the sound quality was the same as if you were playing sound out of a Nokia sitting at the bottom of a Pringles can.

Taking technical quality out of the equation, let’s say it is due to the age of the film, the film is still pretty poor for being able to create an engaging story. With lackluster acting and novelty Halloween mask special effects, a lot of the experience was very dull and didn’t keep my attention, I found myself drifting away and forcing myself back into watching it. I think I got distracted most of the time because I felt as though I had already watched the film purely from knowing that the title of the film is ‘The Wasp Woman’. Fairly certain that she was going to turn into a wasp from that point. The metamorphosis into the wasp is nothing special either. From the front cover that I used for the main image, I was hoping for a flying wasp woman attacking the city. Unfortunately we get a real milky tea version where the CEO just gains a vaguely wasp looking mask and antenna (Shown Below). If the change was more intense like the transformation in ‘American Werewolf in London’ then the experience would’ve been more enjoyable. Also the obnoxious and horrifically annoying buzzing noises happening 89% of the film became tedious, but I guess that fairly true to wasps in general

Watching this film was just as enjoyable as having a wasp trying to sit on your food whilst at a picnic. Just the whole time wanting it to go anyway, swatting at it. I would welcome the wasp with open arms if it was funny but its just annoying. Just a lot of it didn’t make sense either, the whole wasp jelly reversing ageing was strange but it was particularly weird when the process of de-aging a Guinea pig turns it into a mouse was a very interesting choice. So overall I wouldn’t recommend this at all, Its predictable as all hell so I would just recommend reading the title of the film instead because you get the same amount of the story but you don’t have to waste you time.

2 Fridge Handles out of 10

Rear Window

“A murderer would never parade his crime in front of an open window”

Review by Lily Taylor

It’s a Hitchcock so you know it’s going to be good, right? Hailed as one of his best works, it’s safe to say I had high hopes and ‘Rear Window’ certainly did not disappoint.

James Stewart stars as L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies, an adventurous photographer turned prisoner in his own home after an accident on the job lands him with a broken leg. Jeff’s apartment window looks out into a courtyard surrounded by multiple other apartments and in the hot Manhattan summer his neighbours are forced to leave their windows open. With little else to entertain him, Jeff watches his neighbour’s comings and goings; ’Miss Lonelyhearts’ eating dinner with her invisible boyfriend, ‘Miss Torso’ the exuberant ballerina, ‘Mr and Mrs Thorwald’ an older, quarrelsome couple and several other noteworthy characters. For the dog lovers amongst you, there is also a small good boy who is lowered from his first floor apartment into his garden in a wicker basket.

Jeff is often joined in neighbourhood watch duty by his straight talking nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his rather cosmopolitan girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly). The trio witness some suspicious events in the Thorwald’s apartment leading them to suspect that Mrs Thorwald has met a rather unsavoury end. Whilst confined to his apartment, Jeff ruminates on Lars Thorwald’s (Raymond Burr) actions and enlists the help of a detective friend to investigate but he reports back that all is well with Mrs Thorwald and she has simply travelled upstate and confirmed her safe arrival in a letter. Naturally, it would be a rather mundane story if it all ended there!

The most amazing thing about ‘Rear Window’ is the way that the entire movie is filmed from a single apartment room. Considering this film came out in 1954 there’s no fancy editing or CGI and yet, such a simplistic setup is made so dynamic with lengthy panning shots and you truly feel as though you’re standing in Jeff’s shoes- or sitting in Jeff’s wheelchair as it were. The attention to detail in terms of cinematography is immense, I particularly love the reflection of the courtyard in Jeff’s camera lens as he tries to spy on Lars Thorwald. Another scene that stands out in my memory is one in which all the neighbours are leaning out of their windows as something causes a scene in the courtyard, all except one. Mr Thorwald’s apartment is pitch black with the lights turned out and all we see is the light of his glowing cigar puncturing the darkness. So simple but so chilling, just what you expect from Hitchcock.

I have zero complaints about the casting, every role was acted out beautifully. James Stewart has very restricted movement due to his broken leg and spends the vast majority of the film restricted to his wheelchair. However, he has one of those incredibly animated and emotive faces so that, even when he is alone in a scene, there is no doubt about what he is trying to convey to the viewer. Quite possibly my favourite character was Stella the insurance company nurse. She is brutally honest with Jeff, wonderfully sarcastic and Ritter plays the part spot on. Similarly, I thought Grace Kelly was the epitome of elegance throughout the film even when Lisa finds herself in a sticky situation. Her character development was particularly strong as we start the film seeing her as a demure socialite and by the end of it she proves herself to be the 1950’s equivalent of a badass bitch. As Lisa’s nature is revealed to Jeff the pair seem increasingly suited to one another and it’s clear that he admires her courage and bravery. Although it’s quite a serious film, the three main characters succeed in delivering dry humour in all the right places; it strikes the perfect balance between comedy and edge of your seat suspense.

I have just two teeny-tiny qualms with this film and to be honest, one of them isn’t even really a qualm. There is a particular scene right at the end of the film that requires some CGI (if you’ve seen it then you’ll hopefully know exactly the scene I mean) and honestly it leaves a lot to be desired. Having said that, I think you have to take the ‘special effects’ with a pinch of salt and just remember that this movie was released in the same year as Bob Dylan’s Bar Mitzvah, so I guess you could say it’s a little old. The second little thing that I noticed was the lighting in the doorway of Jeff’s apartment. On a couple of occasions he is talking to Lisa or detective Doyle as they are about to leave the room and the lighting is super minimal. Honestly, I’m just being picky for the sake of a review and these things really don’t detract from the movie as a whole.

I would give ‘Rear Window’ 9 Purple Faced Carl The Waiters out of 10.

The Apartment

“Mildred! He’s at it again!”

Review by Lewis Goodall

I’m starting to tell people that I’ve fallen in love, they ask who she is and they seem pretty confused when I tell them her name is ‘The Apartment’. 
This 1960 Romantic Comedy directed by the masterful Billy Wilder brings all the emotions the human can experience and blends it all into this 2 hour long masterpiece. The story follows C.C. Baxter (Played by the amazing Jack Lemmon), an employee at an insurance company who rises through the ranks by allowing the executives of the company to take their lady friends for a bit of bump and grind in his apartment. Baxter finds himself chasing for the promotions in the company whilst at the same time chasing the heart of a friendly elevator girl, Fran ( Played by Shirley Maclaine). Complications arise when the director of the company, Mr Sheldrake (Played by Fred MacMurray) catches whiff of Baxter’s rendezvous apartment and wants in and wants to take his bit on the side there, only to find out that this bit on the side is Fran the elevator after girl that Baxter shares affection for. Baxter from there must decide which pursuit he desires most, to climb the corporate ladder or the girl of his dreams. 

For an example of how much I enjoyed this film, I watched it one night, I’m writing this review the day after and im currently watching it again. It manages to cram so much into the 2 hour run time yet never feels crowded. Not at any point can you drift away from it’s incredibly written story, every single piece fits together so beautifully that you can tell Billy Wilder put everything into this film. The screenplay which was done by Billy and his writing partner, I.A.L Diamond is so naturally written where all the characters are so individual and make the story all that more enjoyable to watch. The pacing of the story is slow to give you the chance to get yourself invested in the characters to make the overall experience more personal. It’s a lost art with filmmaking these days. Back in ye olde black and white films such as this, I always feel that films will spend more time putting their time and effort into the story rather than the production of their films like they do nowadays. A film doesn’t need a big budget to make it an instant success, putting love into the film you are making shows and will stay forever. You can really tell this with Billy Wilder, you see it in this film and you also see it in ‘Some like it hot’ (which is also a film that has a permanent imprint on my heart). Both these films are effortlessly made to hit you right in the heart with the romance side and hit you right in the ribs with the comedy side. Also they both include Jack Lemmon and he’s perfect in both. 

Leading man Jack Lemmon plays the lovable bachelor so incredibly to make him such an enjoyable character to watch throughout the whole movie. Flitting between emotions on the fly, switching from comedic to serious in a heartbeat was just done so crisply. The rest of the cast are brilliant as well, all the way down to the Jewish neighbours next door who provide beautiful crispy roast potato performances and one of my favourite quotes in the whole film which i used for the title of this review. Each character had their moments to shine in their own way, whether the decision they made was good or bad, it was believable and made the story come together as a whole. 
There was no force for a comic relief like most films nowadays, they all had their moments or effortless comedy genius. 

The humour is woven into the story so perfectly. It’s like those stitching/sewing videos where they have a creative way to stitch up a hole or tear in a t shirt and they somehow manage to do it to make it barely noticeable but it holds it all together like glue. None of the humour in this film is wasted, what I mean by that is with comedy in films, usually most of the jokes land but you’ll always get one that you’ll get but wont make you laugh, 90% hit, 10% miss. Obviously this depends on the film and the percentage can be 0% hit and 100% miss if it’s a Netflix original film. But no punchlines are just through away comedy, the small innuendos to the physical comedy, it all hits. This film doesn’t overcrowd the film with jokes which I felt worked great in conjunction with the drama aspects of the film, neither was overpowering the other, it has just the right amount of both. 

As well as making me laugh out loud, this film pretty much made me complete the emotions bingo. I laughed, it made me happy, it made me sad, it made me scared, I panicked. It was a story that I feel can resonate with a lot of people and it certainly resonated with me. Yet another film that made me tear up at the end, this is happening to often these days and I’m getting freaked out a bit. 

Overall I honestly cant think of anything I didn’t like about this film, nothing even technical I would have any problem with, it was shot beautifully, its edited well, the music in the film is so recognisable that it will flash up happy memories in my mind whenever I hear it because it will remind me of how perfect this film is. I feel like in gonna do, I feel like this film Is gonna go on the exclusive list of films I would consider……. I’m gonna do it. 

10 Italian Tennis Rackets out of 10 


“Vertigo, Vertigo, Where for art thou, Vertigo”

Review by Lewis Goodall

Vertigo, based on a novel D’entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac tells the story of a former police detective John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson (played by James ‘Jimmie’ Stewart’ who suffers from an intense fear of heights. He is picked up by an old college friend to help with one final case; To follow his beautiful wife Madeline Elster (played by Kim ‘no cool nickname’ Novak) who has been acting out of character. As the chase continues the story unfolds into places unimaginable.

I wont be saying a lot about this film without venturing into spoiler area because believe me this film is made by the spoilers. I will say one thing though, see this movie.

As per mentioned earlier, John Ferguson is a now retired police detective to which certain events have put him in this situation. His character is written with a lot of heart and played super well to portray this. James Stewart (although his face can make up to a whopping 3 facial expressions) plays the part of Scottie fantastically, showing a broken man who’s had his pieces glued back together to the point at which is seems like it will hold.

The films pace is something I felt was done smoothly to keep you engrossed with all the characters and their next movements which is really what a mystery film needs, well to be honest it’s what every film needs. So in terms of characters I feel all the characters perfectly progress the story in one way or another.

One thing to note which I had to appreciate is the use of colour in this film. Now the vibrancy and deliberate choice of colour in the film were small details engrained in your head to know what was on someone’s mind. As mentioned the case is to follow the lovely Madeline. The use of the colour green used towards Madeline was a subtle yet imaginative way to create other associations with that character; she drove a green car, wore a green dress, ate grass (she didn’t but maybe in a deleted scene somewhere). All this added up to create scenes where green started appearing with John to portray that she was getting to him. Maybe it’s all in my head and just a coincidence but I feel this was done intentionally by old Alfred and it was done perfectly.

Now this is a Hitchcock film, I’ve mentioned that and I feel as it’s Hitchcock I have to mention whether or not the tension was there. Now it could’ve been the pizza I ate beforehand but it was more than likely the film, but my heart was racing, especially during the last section (which I talk more about in the spoilers part), my heart was racing, I had sat up and my mouth was wide open. All the components of the films came together at the end for a big crescendo, the acting, the directing, the music, the everything was there and it’s there during the whole film, slowly building and building till the end. (There’s one part during the end where the camera was out of focus but I won’t mention that because the rest of it is so good)

In summary. This film was made by Alfred Hitchcock, that should be enough to get you to see this film anyway. It is a masterpiece with the right amount of everything, right music, the cinematography had moments of brilliance and there is a dream sequence in the film which is stunning and one of the reasons it is a classic today.

9 Plastic Horses out of 10


Now, my opinion on some of the spoilers in the film,

Essentially the story goes that Madeline is being hired by the husband to act as a double whilst he plans to murder his actual wife. During that time he and Madeline fall in love and smooch weirdly. Madeline then pretends to commit suicide by jumping off a bell tower to which John cant help her because of his fear of heights and therefore makes John sad. John then falls for a woman called Judy which is actually the woman pretending to be the guys wife. John catches on that she is and confronts her for tricking him. John takes her to the bell tower to get answers and Judy dies the same way as Madeline. Plop. The end

First off, I mentioned how much I loved the end, everything built and built and built till the point where I was panicking for both the characters sake, John at this point has gone insane with the realisation that this was a trick on him and so has become the crazy one, oh how the tables turned. The last section of that film, where she fell hit me, I gasped and didn’t breathe until the credits rolled. I have mixed feelings around how it ended, the annoying thing with old films is that they seem to build and build and build to the point of the explosion but then they don’t show the aftermath, that happened here with Vertigo. The woman falls from the window and dies, then instantly cuts there, there end, no afterwards, and I don’t know if I did want more or if it didn’t, it’s a funny feeling I have so I’m torn but I wont mark it down for it, I feel like it’s just me, I wanted more but at the same time it’s a thinker.