This is NOT a film review.

“Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish……..what you started.”

To begin, there will be NO mention of plot points or scenes, if you want spoilers, jog on. Remember, this is not a film review.

Wow. What an emotional experience.
As the deadline approached, I found myself getting more and more excited, the force was truly awakening and JJ had seemingly, possibly, maybe, hopefully pulled off a coup; to make a sequel that honoured the originals yet managed to remain in the present (as far as film-making goes). Could this be true?

Everybody is feeling The Force at the moment.

Sat in the foyer on Thursday 17th December, 2015 in Sydney, Australia, the tension was palpable. We took our seats and waited, sat through some god-awful adverts and trailers and then It began (yes, I capitalized the I in it). No Fox fanfare as Lucasfilm is now owned by Disney, simply the Lucasfilm logo and then the opening crawl accompanied by THE music. Shit, it’s been a long time since I felt this. As excited as I may have been in 1999 when The Phantom Menace came out, this far superseded that feeling. I remember leaving the cinema back then sort of making excuses for it in my mind but a second viewing cemented my feelings about it, it was shit. Not so, here.

Could JJ Abrams really pull it off, after the travesty that was Eps 1,2 and 3, they shall, for me, remain in the depths of unneccessary along with the tv movies: Caravan of Courage-The Ewok adventure (which I never saw) and The Star Wars Holiday Special (2.5 on IMDB), mere distractions that came nowhere near close to the greatness of Star Wars, Empire and Jedi.
In my mind, I have erased the inclusion of 1,2 and 3. They are appendices, written badly, at best.

I can say, with confidence that JJ with The Force Awakens has done what Lucas (maybe/hopefully) wishes he could have achieved with 1,2 and 3.

And then some.

By selling the company and passing it along George Lucas has allowed the Star Wars universe to grow and become more relevant to today’s audiences as opposed to some outdated idea of what passes for entertainment these days.

That’s what it needed, a fresh approach from a skilled director who loved the originals as much as we did.

I never expected to have tears in my eyes at various moments during the watching of TFA, but they happened, I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m proud to say it. JJ hooks the audience emotionally by playing on the narrative themes of A New Hope and twisting them in a way that doesn’t seem plagiaristic (is that a word? Just looked it up, it is…..yes). The simpler, the better; gone are the overblown CGI that manages, like most 3d films, to distance you from the film and back are the creatures built by hand, the human touch. There are CGI characters in the film but never do you feel they are not real and a grounded part of this world (stand up and bow-the creators of Maz Kanata, brilliantly played by Lupita Nyong’o). Gone are the overblown, confusing messy politics and gone is Jar Jar Binks (mesa says thank goodness). What is left is the real essential elements of the originals, mythology, a bad-ass bad guy, an Empire that is stronger than it ever was, new characters that belong in the universe and a narrative that follows the rules add a pinch of seasoning and we may have an award winner, ladies and gentlemen.


I’m currently listening to John Williams’ incredible score and still reeling from the experience of what I have just seen, it hit me emotionally. It is brilliant.



JJ has done the seemingly impossible and made a film that is both current and manages to directly link to the originals. All I know is I’m looking to see it again and soon, like in the next day or so. I never thought after all these years that the magic could be revived, let me tell you, it can.

I could just go on and on and on (I KNOW I already have), I just can’t help it. I’ve written a lot and said little but my enjoyment of the film is like MANY others’; an emotional one. Mark Kermode said recently how easy and how much of a joy it is to write about great films. He’s not wrong at least on an emotional level.

Shit, what can I say without spoiling anything?

The cast are all great, the set pieces are tight, exciting and tense, there are quotes, the appearances of old characters get the tingles going, new characters surprise and entertain, there are laughs, tears, heart in mouth moments and more than a touch of humanity.
Excitement, adventure, drama, emotion; this has it all.

Hats off Mr Abrams, you rock.

For me, the film of the year.

Go see it.


FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE-‘Per Qualche Dollaro in Più’ (1965)


“Alive or dead. It’s your choice.”

The second in Sergio Leone’s classic Man With No Name Trilogy, which gave rise to and helped popularise the spaghetti western

This is a classic for sure, Leone shows his immense talent by adding onto the world he created with A Fistful of Dollars. Eastwood plays a bounty hunter who targets homicidal bandit, Indio (played by the brilliant Gian Maria Volante) and finds that he has some competition from another bounty killer, Col Douglas Mortimer (played by the master of the look, Lee Van Cleef).

The violence is quick, shocking and effective, all mood and mise en scene creatively realized. The music by the maestro, Ennio Morricone is just as important; massively influential, it helps create the ambience of the world, all danger and tension.

Support comes in the shape of the famously erratic actor, Klaus Kinski, who commits to his role of the hunchback in a way supporting actors rarely get the chance to (or don’t dare to) nowadays, you could see he was a talent who stands out as a member of Indio’s gang and gets some classic scenes involving the lighting of a match.

There is a scene early on where Eastwood is seeking some information from an old man in bed and it’s clear he is enjoying the performance of this quirky actor, Eastwood smiling throughout the scene which is a pleasant break from the usual cool, show no emotion acting he gives in the rest of the film. It’s a funny scene made brilliant by the Old Prophet, who is played by Austrian character actor, Josef Eggers. He also appeared in A Fistful of Dollars as the undertaker, Piripero-“My mistake. Four coffins…” This was his last film before he passed away a year later. A fine swansong.

Van Cleef is made for his role; he is just as influential as Eastwood when it comes to the style of acting needed for this kind of film. It’s all in the eyes and he has killer ones. Leone paints the screen with beautiful shots that immerse you into this wild west world.

The title “The Man with No Name trilogy” is not quite accurate; he is called ‘Joe’ in A Fistful of Dollars, ‘Manco’ in this one and ‘Blondie’ in The Good The Bad and the Ugly. Manco means ‘one-armed’ in Spanish and here Eastwood does everything with his left hand bar shooting.

The musician J Saul Kane AKA Depth Charge made this tune in 1994 called Bounty Killer containing several quotes from this film:


Much has been said of the influences of these films, the looks, the silences, the music, the shots and cinematography, the tension and I could go on. All are a joy to behold.
For a slice of classic western, this is one to see.