‘Anyone wearing a uniform is one of our own.’ | PTU (2003)

Lo Sa, a tired and overweight detective in Hong Kong’s police department, chases a gang of youths into a Kowloon alleyway. He slips and falls, knocking himself unconscious in the process. When he wakes, his handgun has been stolen. This sparks off a series of encounters as the local police tactical unit (PTU) work to ...

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for you” | Labyrinth (1986)

You can listen to a podcast version of this essay here. A teenage girl obsessed with imagination and fantasy angrily wishes for her baby brother to be spirited away by goblins – only to discover goblins have done exactly as she asks. To rescue her brother she must make her way through an elaborate maze ...

“You do it because you’re driven” | Speed Racer (2008)

In May 2008 Warner Bros released the glossy and expensive action film Speed Racer into cinemas around the world. Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski, it was a live-action adaptation of a once-popular children’s cartoon made on a US$130 million dollar budget, blessed with wall-to-wall advertising and given a prime summer release date. It under-performed ...

“My last and best reason for living” | Ladyhawke (1985)

In 1980 film producer Lauren Shuler was looking for a screenwriter for one of her developing film projects. Someone at 20th Century Fox told her about a writer named Edward Khmara, whom they thought might be a good fit. To demonstrate Khmara’s writing skills, the Fox representative mailed Shuler a copy of his most recent ...

“The life of a repo man is always intense.” | Repo Man (1984)

What makes the perfect cult film? As film enthusiasts we use the phrase ‘cult film’ an awful lot. In many respects defining a cult film is like that old adage about describing an elephant: difficult to do, but you’ll recognise one when you see it. Things got more complicated after Hollywood’s major studios and distributors ...

“Do I Look Like I Give a Damn?” | Casino Royale (2006)

James Bond, the British MI6 agent created by author Ian Fleming, is the star of pretty much the world’s most commercially successful movie franchise. Since 1962 the character has headlined 23 feature films, not including two rogue productions in 1967 and 1983; at the time of writing a 24th is in production. Together the films ...

“Trees and people used to be good friends” | My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Japanese animation turns 100 years old in 2017. The art form initially flourished in 1917, as animators including Oten Shimokawa and Seitarou Kitayama produced short comedic films that ran for only a few minutes each. While the vast majority of those early animated shorts are now lost – due variously to time, humidity, earthquakes and ...

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