The Guns of Navarone Review

I would like to dedicate this review to Mr Peter Walsh Judson. This review was requested by his son on the occasion of his 85th Birthday. Best wishes go out to Peter!

At this point, I’ve seen so many films about World War II that I feel like I could enter Mastermind using the war as my specialist subject. The last film about the war I looked at was Downfall, and look at the German side during the dying days (pun not intended) of the conflict. Now, I am looking at a classic big-screen representation of the famous Second World War, 1961’s Guns of Navarone.

I knew of this film by reputation before being sent in the post by my friend and supporter Ian, and truth be told, my interest in wartime narratives has waned somewhat over the years. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not as if there aren’t several incredible stories surrounding those six years. However, I feel somewhat overfamiliar with the timeframe especially given just how many films and TV shows still seem enamoured with this particular era.

I was also put off by the age of the film. Let me explain; I am not usually one to write off a film simply because of when it was made; however, there is a pattern for movies of a certain vintage to overstay their welcome. The best example of this is perhaps Gone With the Wind, maybe this speaks more to the declining attention span of the cinema-going public, but there have been many examples of ‘classic’ films where I have thought they could have done with being at least ten minutes shorter, if not more. Well, this film isn’t as egregious as others. It is still a reasonably long watch that feels a bit bloated around the middle.

Guns of Navarone tells the story of a mission to destroy the titular guns on the (fictional) Greek island of Navarone for the British Army to launch a rescue mission on a neighbouring island. The elite team assembled for this task is lead by the dynamic Captain Mallory (Gregory Peck), who recruits a mishmash of men for this dangerous task.

If there’s one thing going for this film from the off, it’s star power. Not only does it star Hollywood icon Gregory Peck, but it also features David Niven, Richard Harris, and popular former television actor Stanley Baker. It’s a star-studded cast if ever there was one, and you can’t accuse anyone of phoning in their performances either. David Niven and Gregory Peck are the show-stealers for me, with a special mention to Anthony Quinn.

The film is also surprisingly anti-war for its time. An issue I find with many classic war films is their jingoistic nature—the easy stereotypes of the rugged British heroes against the goose-stepping blabbering Germans. There was seemingly little room for nuance in such films, which is why it’s so refreshing to see said nuance on display here. The British soldiers aren’t portrayed as entirely noble heroes, but rather, they are flawed humans thrust into an impossible situation, and they’re all the more interesting for it.

A prime example of this is during the film’s final act, David Niven’s character (Cpl John Anthony Miller) gives a pair of rousing speeches questioning their mission and the war itself. They’re a daring pair of monologues that stand out by a mile when compared to their contemporaries. There’s little sign of blind heroism in their sentiment, just resigned necessity.

Like many films of its age, however, it does seem to go on for longer than necessary. Clocking in at just over two-and-a-half hours, it isn’t the longest film of all time. Still, there is a noticeable lag in excitement and intrigue in the middle of the film, which is a shame, as everything leading up to that – and indeed following it – was suspenseful and intense. The problem is it lingering too long in a specific place or on a certain point, breaking the films flow intermittently to show us what’s going on in the area our heroes left twenty minutes ago. It isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but it does obstruct the natural flow of the film.

As I say, though, there are some moments of great suspense and excitement to be found scattered throughout its runtime, even managing to find a way to make ships passing at sea feel intense. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, it later finds time to wring suspense out of a descending lift. These moments are incredibly well-crafted and conceived, and they make the most of the simplest things. The film has time for explosions and gun battles later, but it’s these small moments of tension that stick with me the most.

After it gets over the slight hump in the middle of the narrative, it descends quickly into an exhilarating final stretch filled with twists, turns, and the requisite explosions that come together to make this film the classic that it is. While these things still hold up well today, it is the character-driven acting and intense yet straightforward scenes that make this film stand out for me.

In conclusion, then, this is a film that manages to avoid most of the pitfalls I have come to associate with older movies, especially older war movies. While it does drag a little in the middle, its bold anti-war subtexts, astonishingly good direction and stellar acting make it stand out amongst the rest of its ilk. Many may come away remembering the triumph of its finale. Still, I came away pleasantly surprised at how balanced the film is. How well-written and acted its characters are, and above all, taken in by its attention to detail in moments that would have passed by many other filmmakers—an excellent example of classic moviemaking.

Nomadland Review

Long-time readers of my work will remember my fondness for the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I liked it so much; I made it my film of the year for 2018. I also discovered an admiration for its lead actress, Frances McDormand, whose towering role in the movie was one of the primary reasons I enjoyed it so much. Imagine my delight then when I saw her new film receive so much praise and attention in the run-up to Oscar season.

I would be lying if I told you that the inclusion of McDormand didn’t help pique my interest in this film. After reading a bit about it in the run-up to release, I confess I didn’t think there was much to the narrative to indicate the movie would be anything special. The inclusion of McDormand as the lead actress is what caught my attention most about this film. I had also heard a lot about the director, Chloe Zhao, who is much acclaimed in independent American cinema circles. I haven’t seen any of her previous work personally, but her reputation was strong enough to add to the films overall draw.

Nomadland is the story of Fern (McDormand), a widow who lost her job and house in the fallout of the late 2000seconomic recession. She now lives a nomadic life in her van as part of a community of “vandwellers” who travel the country taking seasonal work and leading simple lives in their vans or motorhomes.

Despite its critical acclaim and award success, Nomadland has received a somewhat mixed response from audiences. Many refer to its slow pace and lack of overall narrative as reasons for not enjoying it. I can sympathise with this viewpoint to a certain extent; The film certainly isn’t a pulse-pounding, action-packed thriller; instead, it is a languid drama detailing the lives and adventures of a set of people with an alternative way of living. You can judge whether you would like this movie by how you react to hearing the phrase “languid drama “if you are in the market for a more entertaining crowd-pleaser, this probably isn’t for you. If such a thing does interest you, though, you will find a lot to like.

I find myself in the middle of these two arguments. On the one hand, I found it a relatively slow experience, focusing more on its subject matter and characters than on any one overarching story. As tends to be the case with many character focus dramas, there are stories woven into it, but none receive the full attention of a fully-fledged narrative. Merely they are experiences on the journey of the characters.

On the other hand, however, focusing more on the characters than on a story allows you to look at a broader palette of life from a different perspective. I discovered in my small amount of research that I do for each of my reviews that this film used very few professional actors. Instead, many of the characters were actual members of the nomad community, portraying broad versions of themselves. To what extent the stories they tell are actually their own is unknown to me, but they do a remarkable job of making the film feel remarkably authentic. It is a risk, of course, to put non-actors in roles of such prominence, but these non-performers are so natural in front of the camera, but it is hard to believe they do not do it for a living.  

The key moments of character interactions are what gives this movie its depth. In particular, the interactions between McDormand’s character Fern and her friend Linda (Linda May) are some of the film’s most heartfelt. Along with further interactions with van dwelling guru Bob (Bob Wells), which shows a layer of grief that is seemingly present in all of the communities lives.

All of this having been said, and while I enjoyed the characters and their interactions immensely, I do feel like something is missing in this film. It is a film I can admire more than I can enjoy. I admire its vision, its focus on characters and their relationships, but there are parts of the movie where I am left feeling cold and uninvolved. I feel like the film as a whole is missing a central narrative that the characters can revolve around. There are many plot threads throughout the film, but none can claim to be the “main story”, as I said. There is the backdrop of the economic recession, and there are reflections on grief and loss and new beginnings; the film tries to be all of these things but settles on none.         

While I admit the film left me cold in places, I did warm to the characters at points throughout the film. There is something about knowing that these characters are portrayed by authentic nomads that makes them all the more interesting, and that knowledge makes them more believable. While I wouldn’t recommend filling out your cast with non-actors as a general rule, in a film like this dealing with an alternative side of society, the extra shot of authenticity is what can make or break the movie.

Frances McDormand is excellent in her role, as always. Her character is in many ways the polar opposite of Mildred, her character from Three Billboards, But she still distinctive an expert on the plate. It feels like there is a lot of subtext to her character, she is not overly outgoing or headstrong, but her actions indicate a much stronger personality below the surface.

I can understand why this film was chosen for Best Picture. It has all the hallmarks of the kind of picture the Academy likes. It is beautifully shot and acted, and even though there is a lack of prominent overarching narratives, it has many artistic merits. I can also understand why the film would not appeal to a broad audience. It is a niche film, as indeed many films like it are. It is slow and lacking in excitement, but that shouldn’t take away its achievements as a piece of art and as an exploration of a subculture.

While I don’t think it’s a film I shall be visiting any time soon, there was a lot I liked about Nomadland. The acting and characters were Stella, as was its presentation. For what it lacked in the story department, it makes up for inauthenticity. I enjoyed it more than Mank, But I think it lacked a certain spark to make it stand out as something special. I believe in the grand scheme of things, this is the best picture with her that would have eventually, and it must be said sadly, been lost to time if it weren’t for the historical significance of its wins. It’s enjoyable enough for its characters, but I would understand if it doesn’t appeal to you.

Major Film Reviews Health Statement May 2021

As most of you will recall, I spoke in my last review about having health problems, specifically speaking, my eyesight. Well unfortunately, the prognosis isn’t good.

 

At an opticians appointment last week, my eyesight registered as 3 out of 12 for visual acuity, for those who don’t know, between three and six out of twelve constitutes visual impairment. I am writing this statement using big fonts on my iPad to reduce the strain on my eyes, but it isn’t something I can keep up for long.

 

I am currently awaiting an urgent referral to the hospital to fully explore what is wrong with my eyesight. Hopefully I will get a diagnosis, if I am partially sighted, this is something I will have to learn to live with. Luckily I still have enough vision left to be able to watch and enjoy movies. This having been said, I don’t wish to use what I have left of my eyesight straining at a word processor to complete reviews multiple times a week. I don’t know at this stage if my vision will get worse, and if it does, I don’t want to know that I have used the last of my time being able to properly see movies has been used in any other way except fully enjoying and appreciating them.

 

I currently have a backlog of films that I wish to review. This includes Nomadland, and some films sent to me by my friend and supporter Ian. I will be completing these reviews in my normal fashion, making use of larger fonts and voice recognition technology when necessary to help me finish work I have already promised. I don’t wish to stop reviewing completely, I just think that for the sake of my own health, both physical and mental, it is best that I don’t rely on written reviews.

 

Therefore, after I have completed the reviews I have promised, I will be trialling video reviews instead of the usual written ones. These will be uploaded to my website as usual, onto my Facebook page, my Patreon page, and to YouTube. I hope that these video reviews will be an acceptable replacement for my usual content, and that you, my readers, enjoy them as much as my usual output.

 

I hope to have the Nomadland review done soon, I admit the last week or so has been a struggle for me, which goes some way to explaining why this review hasn’t yet surfaced when I have promised it. I hope these changes end up being enjoyable for all, and I hope they help me to adjust to any differences I might experience in the coming months, and indeed years.

 

As always, I appreciate your continued support and readership. I hope I can continue to produce content that you enjoy, even if it is in a different format.

 

Thank you,

 

Nathan.

 

 

 

 

 

A Look Back at April 2021

The end is nearly in sight now (I hope) and as I write this, cinemas are due to reopen in two weeks here in the UK. I can only hope the lineup at the local cinema is worth waiting for…

April saw the delayed Academy Awards being handed out in Hollywood. It was a mixed night, all told. Steps forward were made by having several female nominees in the Directing category, as well as a plethora of deserving POC nominees. Special congratulations go out to Chloe Zhao and Frances McDormand for their respective wins for Nomadland (which I’ll be reviewing soon, keep your eyes peeled!) As disappointing as it was to not end the night with a posthumous Oscar for Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Hopkins is a more than worthy recipient for Best Actor. I only hope I can see The Father soon…

Film of the Month – Promising Young Woman (2021) – Directed by Emerald Fennell

It was a tough choice between Sound of Metal and this film, but Emerald Fennell’s incredible film takes the prize of best film I’ve reviewed this month. She also deservedly walked away with a Best Original Screenplay Oscar last week, and rightly so.

As those who read my Sound of Metal review will be aware, I am experiencing some health issues at the moment, namely troubles with my eyesight (I’m typing this using a big font on my phone) which has slowed me down recently. I will be trying my best to pick myself back up soon though. I have a few very special reviews planned for this month, and I can only hope my output increases soon, and that you all enjoy reading it.

Hopefully see you at cinemas soon!

Sound of Metal Review

It is usually the aim of a filmmaker to make a film that emotionally connects to their audience on some level. Naturally, not all movies achieve this; a fair few fall short, in fact. However, some really take you by surprise. I first read about this film in a popular magazine last year, and I thought it sounded interesting. A basic, but solid premise, with a great leading actor in Riz Ahmed, I thought it had the potential to be interesting, but I didn’t think it would be much more than that. I was surprised to see it featured so heavily in the Oscar nominations, as it didn’t seem like a typical ‘Academy’ film (that’s what happens when you judge a book by its cover, kids). But given the past year we’ve had, it shouldn’t have been too much of a shock.

The reason this film so profoundly affected me is purely circumstantial and personal. Still, at least it shows the movie was doing its job. I connected with the main character and his struggles because they were difficulties I could recognise. To let you know precisely why, I should tell you the story of my last few weeks, and why this film touched me so much.

I have worn glasses since I was a young man. Ever since my teenage years, these glasses have been getting progressively stronger as my eyesight grows weaker (that’s sort of how glasses work). In the last few years, my vision has really taken a turn for the worst. A few years ago, I found out I had astigmatism. This condition causes your eyes to be oval-shaped rather than round, which I should have known for years, apparently but didn’t. Then, just a few weeks ago, my opticians informed me that my eyesight was still getting worse. Not only that but my field of vision is restricted, and my optic discs are tilted. What this means in the long run, I don’t know yet. I am still awaiting more scans, but suffice to say, my eyesight is severely diminished. I may yet be able to get some better glasses to improve my vision, but I have been told there is a good chance I might lose my driving licence because of my vision, and who knows? Maybe it’ll get worse.

I’m saying all of this now because I am aware that I have been quiet on this site over the past few weeks. It’s because I’ve been dealing with these issues. I can still see movies well enough to review them, so that isn’t so much of a worry. Writing these is a bit of a challenge because of the small text, but I’m still finding my way around it, and hopefully, I might improve soon. The other reason is that it is actually relevant to the context of this film, Sound of Metal. It deals with the fallout from losing one of your senses – in his case, it’s his hearing rather than his vision – and how it can affect your life and work.

I started to see parallels early on between his story and my own. Ruben (Ahmed) is a heavy metal drummer. His ears are integral to his life’s passion. At first, he starts to hide this problem from his bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) and carries on but compromises his hearing even more. I sympathised with this plight so much on a personal level. When these things happen, you just wish for them to go away, for them to be problems that sort themselves out. I was preparing to start learning to drive buses when I found out my field of vision was restricted, so that’s had to be put to one side. Not only that but I’m a movie critic, I need to see to watch films. Films are my biggest passion; music is Ruben’s. This is why I connected with this film immediately, the shared experience.

It’s not as if you need to have these experiences to sympathise with his plight either. I’d like to think the thought of going deaf or blind would scare most people. I know that I’m scared right now, and I recognise that struggle in Ruben too. He’s angry, of course; he’s just lost his hearing. Not only that, but it directly affects what he loves. He can’t drum anymore because he can’t hear. We can all relate to that, we can all appreciate that fear of having what we love stripped from us, and this film is a heart-breaking portrayal of that very thing.

It achieves this through a wonderful mix of great acting and directing, but most importantly, incredible sound design. Sound design is one of those things that you don’t notice (or care about) unless it’s really good or really bad. That’s a shame in many ways because many people work incredibly hard on every part of a film, but it’s true. But when you use something like that to tell the story, the effects can be magical.

How this film uses its sound is a stroke of genius; at pivotal parts of the movie, the sound switches to how Ruben hears the world. It fades out and becomes distant, buzzing as his hearing fades, and then just becomes silent later on. It helps create a sense of isolation around Ruben as we share the experience of what it’s like to not hear the world around you. When the perspective changes and the sound return, it’s jarring to us and really does a great job of juxtaposing the world Ruben is now a part of and the hearing world.

It’s not only a tale of lost passions and senses, however. It’s also a story of acceptance, of adapting to new challenges. Ruben is taken in by a deaf community to adapt to life. The film switches from tragic to life-affirming, as he learns how to live life without hearing. We also get a great sense of community in these scenes and some fantastic character building. It also has an incredibly poignant final act, in which he learns that sometimes the thing you want doesn’t always work out how you planned and that sometimes you don’t realise what you need when you’re focused on what you want. It may sound corny and cliched, but the film finds a way to make it work.

In conclusion, Sound of Metal makes the most of its basic plot by making it an intriguing and highly emotional study of a man whose world is turned upside down by circumstances he couldn’t foresee. This remarkably familiar set-up is made fresh again by the approach of its filmmaker and his team. Putting together a whole new perspective on the world by playing with the audience’s senses through ingenious sound design, capped off by the story’s very personal feel, captivating performances, and brilliant writing. Sound of Metal is an experience that’s sure to move you.

Promising Young Woman Review

Well, this is a difficult film to review. I might as well state for the reader right now that this review will not have the same tone as my usual work. The light-hearted tone I adopt for most of my reviews is inappropriate, if not a little offensive, to use with this subject material in mind. I’d also like to put a content warning here that this review covers a film whose main narrative hinges on sexual assault and rape. If you don’t wish to read any further, I understand. If you want to continue reading, I’ll be approaching the subject with the respect and dignity it deserves. I may just be writing about a film here, but to many people, including some close to me, this subject is a stark reality. I’ll be including some phone numbers to victim support hotlines at the end of this review, too, just in case a reader or someone they know needs it.

Firstly, let me start by saying that I generally don’t like it when a film uses sexual assault as a plot point, especially in horror films. It’s cheap, lazy, and very rarely done tastefully – not that such a thing can be ‘tasteful’. It’s typically not done in service of the larger narrative, but done to make us empathise with a female character; but if the only way you can think about building sympathy for a female protagonist is to depict them being assaulted, I would suggest that you NOT write female characters, or don’t write at all.

All this being said, however, it can be done; it’s just rarely done right. I think the problem with them using this trope in horror films is, in general, horror tends to portray its female characters as sexual objects, to begin with. This is starting to change in modern times, admittedly. Still, looking back at “classic” horror films, what are the main characteristics of any female character? One who isn’t played by Jamie Lee Curtis? They’re there to have sex, maybe flash some skin, and get murdered. Throw sexual assault into that mix, and all you’re subliminally saying about your female characters is that they’re sexual objects, there to either be killed or to be felt sorry for because they were assaulted. This is the root of this trope’s laziness, and particular films compound this feeling too. Films, like I Spit on Your Grave, are just nasty pieces of work.

All of the above is a qualifier for the rest of the review because (spoilers) it’s going to be a very positive one. Still, I feel this is a conversation I needed to start with to preface the review. Even though this film successfully uses assault in its narrative, it doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it. Actually, it feels like that’s the point of the movie. It’s supposed to make us uncomfortable, as that’s how we get its message. It isn’t a message that everyone wants to, or can stand to, hear, but it is just as necessary, maybe even more so. It made me feel uncomfortable, but it didn’t make me want to turn it off. It compelled me to carry on watching, despite my discomfort, because I thought there was a lesson to be learned here, that this film needed – nay – deserved to be heard. Far be it for me, a white man, to call this film out for being ‘uncomfortable’ when the reality is that this is some women’s lives. In fact, it reads like a checklist of every piece of harassment, large and small, a woman goes through in their lives. I don’t assume to talk for all women there, but most women will watch this and recognise something from their experiences, I’m sure.

What also makes this film such a gut punch in the emotions is its timeliness. We’re a few years into the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, but they still feel like the zeitgeist. They’re still more important with each passing month. Of course, it’s always been an issue, but only now do we seem to be finally confronting it like this. What also makes this particular take refreshing is that it is a woman’s story. Directed and written by a woman and produced by a few notable ones too. It feels refreshing and sad that this story is probably a lot closer to the truth than many attempts written by male writers. It has a feeling of authenticity to it which, if anything, just adds to the discomfort and the tension.

The cast is what really makes this movie, though. Carey Mulligan is the film’s star, and a star she certainly is. Her commanding performance is magnetic, insidious, and intense. She manages to be both empathetic and unlikeable in equal measure. Her quest for revenge is unnerving to watch, yet still so satisfying also. Her complex nature is perfectly complemented by her co-stars too. It would have been easy to make all the male characters sleazeballs preying on young women, but that’s rarely the case. Yes, they are creeps to a certain extent, but they have more going on beneath the surface, making them all the more interesting.

The apex of this characterisation is Ryan, played by the wonderful Bo Burnham, who is a perfect love interest for Mulligan’s character. He seems like the antithesis of all the other guys Cassie (Mulligan’s character) meets. He’s sweet and unthreatening, but like everyone else, he has his complexities. Which is what ultimately won me over most about the movie. The characters are so well thought-out and played that it lifts it above the usual revenge thriller by making almost everyone three-dimensional. There’s no lazy writing on display here, and it is so refreshing.

Again, I can understand if this isn’t your thing or if the uncomfortable atmosphere is too much for you. I felt uncomfortable too, but the way this film makes me uncomfortable is worlds away from how I Spit on Your Grave does it. There’s a reason why this wants to make you uncomfortable. It wants you to feel how its protagonist, and by extension, women, feel when they’re set upon and vulnerable. It serves a purpose, it has a lesson to teach, and more to the point, it’s in service of the narrative; it doesn’t happen to make you empathise with its main character. It happens because that’s reality, and that’s the saddest thing of all.

In conclusion, then, this film is a phenomenal punch to the gut. Incredibly acted, written and directed, it left me absolutely gobsmacked after its perfectly bittersweet ending. I was literally speechless, and it’s been a long time since a film has done that. I just hope people who watch it take away the right lessons and see it as I see it, an uncomfortable truth. One we have to confront no matter how much it scares us.

If you, or anyone else you know, is affected by any of the issues talked about in this review, help can always been found, below are a series of numbers for helplines there to help sexual assault victims.

Victim Support – 0808 168 9111

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)0808 801 0331

Hourglass – 0808 808 8141

One in Four – 0800 121 7114

These phone numbers are for UK-based charities and services, please check Google for any services local to you.

Pierrepoint Review

Politics. Religion. Pineapple on pizza. These are all topics many people don’t feel comfortable talking about in mixed company. Amongst the vast swathes of points that could fall under the subject of ‘politics’ (most things in life come down to it in one way or another) that causes awkward silence if brought up in mixed company and furious vitriol if brought up online, is capital punishment.

Naturally – the act of state-sponsored executions is a divisive topic, one you’ll be glad to hear I won’t be delving into in too much depth, but which serves as a key talking point in this film. I wouldn’t even say that the movie itself took any particular stance on the matter. One or two scenes could be seen as the director/writer sympathising with the anti-capital punishment cause, but I would hardly say that this was a concrete stance. It is all reasonably even-handed on the morality of the death penalty.

The film documents the life and times of the titular Pierrepoint, Albert Pierrepoint, that is. It dramatises the events in his life, which lead to him being regarded as Britain’s most notorious hangman, responsible for the executions of over 600 people throughout his career, including several Nazi war criminals. It also shows the effects such a job takes on a person’s private life and mental health, covering the period up until his retirement in the 1950s.

Like most biopics, I got the feeling that Pierrepoint was being somewhat economical with the truth (that’s the most diplomatic way I can put ‘more fiction than fact’), and while this may be a deal-breaker for some, it is not so for me. I’m here to be told an entertaining story; I don’t mind if you shift some things around in the real-life story to make things more interesting. That being said, however, it was still noticeable to me, and after a little bit of light research, I found my hunch to be true. Although the scene I thought was most likely to be a fabrication was indeed true, so real-life can sometimes be just as unbelievable as fiction.

Speaking of the narrative, I enjoyed how the story spans over a few decades, encompassing several different sensibilities and a shift in public feeling. As previously mentioned, there are a few scenes documenting the execution of Nazi war criminals. Still, I wouldn’t describe the film as a ‘war film’ as WW2 isn’t happening throughout the whole narrative, and when it is, it is just in the background, alluded to briefly, rather than lingered on. As someone who has spent a lot more time than is necessary watching films about World War 2, I appreciate this. It helped me get a better feeling of the time immediately before and after the war, and such offered up some new perspectives.

The cast is top-notch, too, lead by the consistently underrated Timothy Spall and featuring the equally underappreciated Eddie Marsan. It makes the most of what it has with very few key characters, focusing on a select few’s struggles and lives rather than cast its net too wide. It allows the story to focus primarily on important characters and relationships, rarely over-complicating itself with side-plots. This narrowed focus also helps the film’s pacing, clocking in at just over ninety minutes. The film doesn’t waste any of those minutes and doesn’t outstay its welcome—an increasingly rare commodity in modern cinema.

Timothy Spall is on top form in this film. Imbuing him with quiet dignity and yet still showing enough expression to make clear his inner conflict that for the most part mainly bubbles under the surface, hiding behind carefully concealed expressions, or betrayed by a look in his eye. Although the character is not predominantly an outwardly expressive man, you can read a lot about his feelings just by his facial expressions and tone of delivery. All of which is a credit to Spall, who has quietly built a reputation over the decades as one of Britain’s most reliable actors.

Eddie Marsan is also a notable addition to the cast. Many people are likely to recognise his face more than his name, but he has become more familiar to me over the last few years. While the arc of his character in the film is its most predictable aspect, it is still well-performed. His nature is timid, some might say even pathetic. He is the figure of the downtrodden, heart-broken man in love, and the end of his story is incredibly poignant, leading to Albert finally confronting what his job means in his own mind. This is the part of the film that I mentioned earlier which seemed unbelievable but was actually, broadly speaking, true. It ultimately tips the movie’s balance from being a dry re-telling of an interesting life to an emotionally resonant tale of a man whose job requires him to occupy an almost impossible moral quandary.

As the film wears on, it starts to delve deeper into capital punishment’s morality, presenting us with facsimiles of protesters from the time. It does do an excellent job of showing both sides in a sympathetic light, however. We are led to believe that those who oppose hangings are not simply rabble-rousing do-gooders but that they might be right. In the same way, however, it does not show Albert as being a bad man because of his job. Instead, it shows us, and tells us, the many complexities he believes his position to have. In other words, it isn’t a film that patronises its audience. It may have its own feeling on the topic, but it doesn’t want to lead your interpretation. It is merely presenting you with both sides to inform your own thinking.

Although it is well-acted and scripted, I wouldn’t say the film was anything special in the technical department. It certainly has nice settings and is shot competently, but its aesthetic is relatively dry and dull. It pushes no boundaries and is perfectly acceptable in terms of telling the story it wants to tell. It starts to accompany the emotional resonance well towards the end, but for the most part, there is minimal visual flair in how it is shot. Although I suppose, if that’s the films most significant problem, then it really doesn’t have all that much to worry about.

In conclusion, Pierrepoint is an interesting story, well-told, and acted with a surprising amount of emotional heft. It uses a controversial subject matter, but it doesn’t feel like it is pushing a specific agenda, and it is all the better for it, as it leaves the big moral questions in the hands of its viewers. Despite not being the most exciting thing to look at, it still provides an engaging 90 minutes of entertainment, driven by a strong central performance. It’s a surprisingly impactful watch that has sadly gone under-the-radar for many for quite some time, and I can only hope it is reassessed by many soon, as I think it will take many by surprise.

The Maze Runner Review

There seemed to be an explosion of Young Adult novel adaptations in the 2010s. Last year, I looked at The Hunger Games series, and now, I’m looking at another YA adaptation. However, I don’t feel like I’ll be looking at the whole series after the first one.

Well, that seems needlessly cruel; it’s not as if The Maze Runner has the profile Hunger Games has, but I couldn’t help but note the similarities in it regardless. If I were a cynical man, wait, let me rephrase that – me, as a cynical man, can’t help but see this film as a cash-in in the wake of much more successful franchises, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Its set up is something we’ve seen before; a seemingly post-apocalyptic world, a band of survivors, and a central gimmick confining them to one place or event. In this case, the crew of rag-tag youngsters are trapped in the middle of a maze supposedly filled with monsters. No one has survived in the labyrinth, so naturally, our hero is the first to do so and kill the previously indestructible monster. It’s pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, really.

There is nothing particularly new about The Maze Runner, but there isn’t anything particularly bad about it either. It’s a relatively frustrating kind of film to review, one where I end up repeating the same point a few times, mainly that it’s not great, but it’s not bad either. I can try and make it more interesting, but the film didn’t try and do anything different to make it stand out, so there isn’t much I can do.

While it was never ‘dull’ per se, it wasn’t exciting either. It just plods along, establishes its plot and characters. None of those characters particularly stand out; I think it’s a stretch to call some of them ‘characters’ to be fair. They try and make some of the events seem poignant by killing off some characters, but the film doesn’t give them enough personality to make us connect, so this attempt to tug at our heartstrings falls flat.

The actors portraying these characters do a good job, though, to be fair to them. Dylan O’Brien portrays the films hero, Thomas, the last male character to enter ‘The Glade’ (the area in the middle of the maze, where the survivors live). He’s charismatic and likeable, but the script doesn’t give him much character, which is the case with most, if not all, the people portrayed in this film.

Other notable cast members include such names as Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who, despite being now in his 30s, can still easily get away with portraying a teenager to a frightening degree. Maybe we should check he isn’t a vampire. There’s also Will Poulter, who, to me, perfectly encapsulates a “that guy” actor, someone whose face you recognise but not their name. They’re always ‘that guy from [insert movie here]’. I vaguely knew his name but still had to Google it just to make sure. These two add recognisable faces to the cast but are still essentially just bland caricatures. Poulter’s character is arbitrarily jealous of Thomas because of vague reasons, which doesn’t add anything to the overall narrative.

I think the aspect where the film shines the brightest is in its visual design. The world of the maze is incredibly well-realised. When the characters venture out into it, it has an atmosphere of dread about it, like the maze itself is a monster, plotting this makeshift society’s downfall. The creatures that dwell within the labyrinth are almost secondary to the maze’s hostile atmosphere. All of this adds a sense of danger to the environment. Even if you aren’t all that invested in the characters, the world they exist in might just be fascinating enough to hold your attention for the film’s runtime.

Aside from the exciting world and how well it’s realised, The Maze Runner doesn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table. It doesn’t do anything particularly wrong. It has a cohesive story and the aforementioned atmospheric tension, but it doesn’t populate this world with characters the audience can care about. Instead, it relies on stock character tropes and archetypes that have been weary and tired for years. It really is a shame that such an interesting concept that has a few positive aspects to it ultimately fails to engage on a level similar to its competition.

I know this is a comparison I’d made before, but I think of this next to The Hunger Games. The latter had intrigue and evolving characters, but it didn’t overuse its concept by the end of the first film. It created intrigue, but in such a way that made you want to come back next time to see how it would evolve. I have no such feeling about this series. This doesn’t have the compelling characters THG has. Neither does it feel like a story that particularly needs to be continued. I know there are sequels after this, but I feel like this could be a standalone story and exist in a vacuum. I just don’t have the interest levels in this series to revisit it again as I did with The Hunger Games. Ultimately, it is the films’ most significant downfall.

A decent, if well-worn, premise, coupled with bland characters, can’t be saved by the stellar atmosphere and tension the film creates. It’s not so much a bad film as a disappointing one, especially as the audience for this sort of film seems to be an ever-present one. I can’t see this film having the staying power of similar franchises. An exciting concept that lacks several crucial elements, The Maze Runner is a bit of a damp squib.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace Review

So, it’s come to this. I’ll be honest, I’ve been keeping this review in my back pocket for the last year. I’ve sort of thought of it as an ‘in case of emergency break glass’ kind of backup plan. Something to eventually cover while the restrictions were ongoing, and the longer the lockdowns have continued, the longer I’ve pushed back the thought of covering this film (and the subsequent instalments). I almost did it back in June last year when I started working through the Star Wars films, but eventually, I moved onto other things. But now I’ve been staring at my own four walls for long enough that revisiting the Star Wars prequels seems like a relatively sane idea.

I can only imagine the disappointment that Star Wars fans must have felt back in May 1999. It had been 16 years since a film in their beloved franchise had graced the big screen. Only to have all that anticipation slowly drained from them as they witnessed George Lucas kick his legacy to death over two-and-a-half-hours of utterly turgid dross. Actually, maybe that’s a bit harsh. At least half an hour was okay, but that still leaves two hours of steaming cinematic turd to wade through.

I have covered the prequels before, right back at the start of this website’s existence. Back when I had a different name and significantly less experience writing about film than what I have now. As I said then, and still stand by now, there are some redeemable factors in the prequels. However, these good parts are vastly outweighed by dullness, incomprehensibly awful writing, and Jar Jar Binks. Say what you like about the sequel trilogy, at least stuff happened in it. It was at least entertaining enough to hold your attention; these films, however, were responsible for thinking that trade disputes made for riveting sci-fi entertainment. Gone was the creative flair of the olden days, and in came the era of the soulless and bland.

Thirty years before a relatable character was introduced to the universe, the Galactic Republic is locked in a bitter trade dispute with the Trade Federation. To help broker peace, the Republic sends a pair of Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, respectively), to negotiate a peace deal. Things swiftly go awry, and the Federation launches an invasion of Naboo, whose Queen, Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), is rescued by the Jedis. Due to some enormous plot convenience, the crew end up on Tatooine, where they meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), and so the saga can begin.

Honestly, that synopsis comes nowhere near close to doing the plot, such as it is, justice. It’s so convoluted and dull that it hardly bears thinking about, really. The above is what I’ve managed to water it down to for it to fit in a single paragraph.

Over the years, I’ve watched (or ‘subjected myself to’) Phantom Menace multiple times, almost willing myself to find something else to like about it. After all, it’s Star Wars, and I love Star Wars, but trying to find positive things about this film is like panning for gold in the New York sewer system. You might find the odd gem, but it’s buried under a tidal wave of shit.

There’s so much I want to say about how much I hate this film. I want to talk about so many negative aspects that I simply don’t know where to start, so while I think about where to start on the negative, let’s get the positives out of the way first.

First off, some performances are good. Stilted by a script so inept that it sounds like it was written by someone who’d never heard spoken language before but, nonetheless, they manage to turn out a good representation of themselves. Specifically, Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson carry the heaviest loads in the film. McGregor would only get better in the role as the trilogy wore on. Neeson had the common sense to die in the first film and thus had to get this performance just right. Which he did, imbuing Qui-Gon with just the right amount of mystical wisdom while retaining a little bit of likability.

There are a few decent sequences too. Notably, the pod-racing section (although Lucas tries his best to ruin this scene too with stupid side characters, incredibly convenient happenings, and lazy writing) and the lightsabre duel at the end with Darth Maul (Ray Park), which both stick out from the rest of the pack. The latter is accompanied by ‘Duel of the Fates’, which is in the argument for the best piece of Star Wars music for me. It is also helped along by the most compelling character in the prequels, Darth Maul, so of course, he’s killed off at the end of this film.

That’s about it as far as positives go. No matter how many times I watch it over, I can’t find anything else enjoyable about this movie. I’ve given up trying now, as I don’t quite hate myself enough to re-watch this nonsense any more.

What is it I don’t like about it then? Well, not much really, apart from the script, the characters, the visuals, the (lack of) narrative intrigue, the stilted performances by anyone not named Liam Neeson or Ewan McGregor, the insulting attempts at humour, the even more offensive habit of trying to explain everything that didn’t need an explanation, the casting of ill-prepared children, and the overall wasted potential. So yeah, not much at all.

Let’s start with the script. It’s fair to say that Star War’s dialogue has never been stellar, especially in the first film (unsurprisingly, Lucas’s only script in the original saga). Still, it manages to find new depths in this film. It isn’t so much scraping the bottom of the barrel as it is building a mine-shaft underneath the barrel. The dialogue is insipid, cold, and impossible to convincingly deliver. As can be evidenced any time Natalie Portman (who I remind you is a talented actress) tries to deliver it. It’s almost as if she’s carved from wood, a fact not helped by the fact that George Lucas is to directing what Donald Trump is to diplomacy.

That last line brings us nicely onto the rest of the performances. I feel sorry for the bulk of the actors I’m about to mention, really, I do, because a performer is only as good as the material. That material, as we’ve discussed, is utter horse manure. I feel most sorry for Jake Lloyd, who just wasn’t prepared for something on this scale. Yes, the script and direction don’t help, but the poor kid would look like a deer in the headlights regardless. What was supposed to be the epic introduction of the character around whom the rest of the franchise would revolve becomes almost an after-thought. He only becomes embroiled in the plot because of an incredibly complex set of circumstances. Basically, the only reason Anakin is discovered by the Jedi is because he broke up a fight that involved Jar Jar Binks.

Speaking of our Gungan friend, he really is an easy target for ridicule, I admit, but I’d say with good reason. I reiterate none of this is on the actor. Ahmed Best did his best (no pun intended) with the material. Still, there’s only so much you can do with a character who is so transparent and cynical. Did Lucas really think so little of us that he thought we’d warm to this ridiculous clown? All of this is without mentioning the questionable use of stereotypes ingrained into the character.

In fact, let’s address that, shall we? I am not the person to talk about racial ethics. I will freely admit that but just listen to some of these characters. They’re so transparently stereotypical you’d expect them to be from the 40s or 50s. The Viceroy is a ludicrously offensive Asian stereotype. Jar Jar is a cartoonish, bumbling black character. Then there’s Watto, who might as well be designed to be everything anti-Semites say Jewish people are like. I hasten to add that I don’t think Lucas did this hatefully. I think it’s more born of ignorance than anything else. While this may fly as an excuse for old Disney cartoons, we shouldn’t let it fly from a 90s release.

Everything that made the classic Star Wars film great has been thoroughly sucked out of this film. The use of CG is glaringly obvious and immersion-breaking. Rather than making us by into the magic of this universe through creative effects, it instead distances its audience from that sense of awe by transplanting sterile, lifeless backdrops behind scenes with sterile, lifeless dialogue. There is no lasting joy to be found in The Phantom Menace. Every moment of enjoyment is fleeting. For every lightsabre duel, there are interminable scenes of political ‘intrigue’ and trade disputes. Gone is the epic space opera battle between alien wizards manipulating everything around them, replaced by repeated scenes of people sat in circles pulling stern faces. Easily understandable conflict is replaced by mystical prophecies. Everything that intrigued us is explained away in terribly underwhelming fashion, leaving the franchise with little sense of wonder. The Force, the magical entity that we had spent years wondering about, imagining ourselves wielding, is revealed to be nothing more than the result of your blood. Robbing it of any genuine mysticism and meaning, becoming just another dry aspect of a now lifeless universe.

What really upsets me about this film and its successors, too, is the waste of potential. Of all the things the galaxy far, far, away could have become, it became this. A soul-sucking exercise in blandness that accomplished nothing except massaging the ego of its creator, not to mention beginning the long-running alienation of its own fanbase. All of our hope began disappearing from the first scene, and our good-will is drained long before the credits roll. There may have eventually been worse films in the franchise, but none are more damaging than this. We wanted escapist entertainment, a triumph of good over evil. Instead, we got trade disputes, offensive caricatures, and every interesting character is dead by the end. It’s a miracle this franchise still has a fanbase after this colossal waste of time and space.

Major Film Reviews Classic Simpsons Playlist

If you’re anything like me, one of the biggest draws of Disney+ was the inclusion of The Simpson’s. Sure, it’s been bad much longer than it’s been good now (it probably hasn’t been great since the start of the millennium), but don’t underestimate just how good it was in its prime.

It was probably the best thing on television in its first eight seasons. Those seasons still stand out as some of the greatest TV, animated or otherwise, of all time. The secret to its success was not just its astounding gags-per-minute ratio but its depth, its interwoven world, and surprising brevity. It also helps that these early episodes we so incredibly memorable and quotable. Even now, the uses of classic Simpson’s have been immortalised by countless GIFs (I’d say there’s a Simpson’s GIF for every occasion).

Think of this like my Christmas films playlist from last year; a good nudge in the direction of some top-quality stuff. Only this time about the longest-running TV series in history. Although it has now run into its 32nd (I think?) season and has just been renewed, I’ll be focusing exclusively on the first eight seasons of the show; the time most widely accepted as the show’s peak. This isn’t a comprehensive list of ALL the great Simpsons episodes; I’d be here all day. It’s merely a list of episodes I recommend as a starting point.

So with this in mind, I’ve been watching classic episodes of the show recently. Mostly to reassess whether I was looking back through rose-tinted goggles or whether the show actually was just that good. I’m happy to report that, for the most part, at least, the latter is true. Now I’m going to compile for you a list of my most recommended episodes to guide your own revisit to old Springfield. Enjoy.

Season 2, Episode 1 – Bart Gets an ‘F’

Although there are a few significant episodes in the show’s first season (with honourable mentions to ‘Moaning Lisa’ and ‘Krusty Gets Busted’), it only really began to find its feet in Season 2, and it really came out swinging.

This is an excellent example of what this show could do when it mixed an emotional heart with the stellar comedy. Up until this point, Bart has never shown any interest in school. He is usually more of an irritation to his teachers. However, this episode packs an almighty punch by having Bart try his best yet still seemingly come up short.

It must have been a great surprise to many watching at the time, as they realised that this silly little show about a yellow family could actually have an emotional impact, and not just emotional impact, but elicit a genuine feeling of empathy towards Bart. We have all, at some point in our lives, tried our best and failed. It’s a recognisable real-world feeling. The fact that this show could play off that, and play with our emotions in such a way, just gave us a glimpse into the genius writing the series had at its peak.

Season Two, Episode Eight – Bart the Daredevil

Another entry, another Bart episode. They really were pushing the troublemaker hard as the face of the series in the earlier days, weren’t they?

Some Simpsons episodes were great because of the depth of content; these episodes will have intricate ‘A’ stories, accompanied by an intriguing ‘B’ or even ‘C’ plot. They’ll be teeming with content and have the feeling of trying to fit all the best ideas into a small space. I’m sure we’ll come across a few of these as we go along. However, some other episodes are concentrated on one plot or idea. They wring every inch of potential out of a sometimes restrictive subject.

This episode sits in the latter category. It’s mainly remembered for its final third, but oh, what a final third. One of the most iconic scenes and pay-offs, one so ingrained in the show’s history, it was even alluded to in The Simpsons Movie nearly twenty years later.

It may be predominantly remembered for that ‘Springfield Gorge’ scene, but it is packed with gags and paid off with that iconic moment. It’s a very nostalgic watch for an old Springfield fan.

Season Three, Episode Nine – Flaming Moe’s

The series has created many enduring moments over the years; these legacies of nostalgia can form around anything, memorable scenes, characters, quotes, or, in this case, songs. It isn’t the most memorable tune from this show, it’s not even the most memorable from this season (wink, wink), but it’s still a memorable one that sticks in my mind. It’s a tune that instantly pops into my head just by looking at the title.

It’s also an episode that (obviously) highlights Moe, who can be hit-and-miss in terms of punchlines. I’m not so keen on the recurring gag of him being suicidal, as that’s a bit too close to the bone and perhaps a bit too dark for the show, but he has his moments too. His, shall we say, ‘questionable’ business practices and hair-trigger temper have elicited many a chuckle over the years, and he gets to have an episode more or less to himself here.

This episode doesn’t always show up on other Simpsons-related lists. It isn’t the strongest writing of the series or even the funniest. Still, it’s one that always sticks in my mind as being a little under-appreciated. Maybe it needs a revisit?

Season Three, Episode Sixteen – Homer at Bat

We’re talking softball, from Maine to San Diego, talking softball…

The best Simpsons song? Maybe. It’s a tough contest, but it’s in the race.

Yes, this is the memorable song I not-so-subtly referenced earlier. I don’t think that it’s the only string to the episodes bow, though, God no, there’s hilarious comedy, with laughs so good that it even makes shameless celebrity cameos into punchlines, taking aim at the celebrities themselves. A trope well-established within the series now but almost unheard of at the time.

The celebrity involvement (a group of baseball players, all of whom are strangers to this tea-slurping Brit) don’t even draw focus from the leading group of characters. Specifically, Homer, who finds himself as Mr Burns’ last hope for winning a softball (like baseball, but with a bigger ball, for those who aren’t from the States) competition. Because of a surreal string of events (from grotesquely-swollen jaws to run-ins with the law) , the actual sportsmen are out of action and Homer is the last batsman remaining. Combined with Mr Burns’ absurd coaching, it makes for a hilarious watch.

A real classic. One rightly considered to be one of the shows best.

Season 4, Episode 2 – A Streetcar Named Marge

This episode appeals to me, especially given my history in amateur dramatics. The sequences of rehearsals, especially of the director, hit a little close to home.

This episode also focuses n the relationship between Marge and Homer. Unlike many in many other episodes, Homer actually learns something, which is more than he’s done in any modern episode I’ve seen.

Episodes about Marge can be a mixed bag, as she isn’t the most exciting family member. I think a lot of that has to do with the lack of female writing staff back then, so Marge doesn’t have a lot of agency outside of being a wife and mother, but she gets to spread her wings here and stand out at last.

There’s a lot to like in this episode, basically. The content about Homer and Marge’s marriage, the distinctly untalented performers from Springfield, provide a lot of chuckles. There’s a memorable one-off character in the form of Jon Lovitz’s Llewellyn Sinclair, the, shall we say, “passionate” director of the production. Everything that makes up the classic formula.

Season 4, Episode 12 – Marge vs The Monorail

Season Four has a lot of solid-gold classics within its 22-episode run. It was difficult narrowing down this list for each season, let alone for the whole list, and season 4 was perhaps the hardest one of all to narrow down. Many episodes could have featured here, from ‘Kamp Krusty’ to ‘Krusty Got Kancelled’ (an excellent season to be a clown) as well as ‘Mr Plow’ and a few others. Still, I went for this one because it just has everything you want from a Simpson’s episode.

Firstly, there’s the memorable song, something I’ve discussed before, coupled with the one-off character who delivers it, Lyle Lanley, voiced by the late, great Phil Hartman. Who delivers another all-time great performance here as the con artist who sells the city the obviously faulty monorail. The Simpson’s has had a fair few memorable one-off characters, people who turn up for an episode and forever impress themselves on the audiences. Lyle Lanley might just be the best of the bunch, and a lot of that is down to Hartman’s lively performance.

Everything you can wish for in an episode of this show, the jokes’ hit-rate is astoundingly high. It makes excellent use of its celebrity guest star (Leonard Nimoy in a self-skewering appearance). Still, it retains a remarkable legacy, one of the episodes that frequently comes up in the conversation about the best in the show’s history.

Season 5, Episode 2 – Cape Feare

Sideshow Bob is rightly regarded as one of the show’s best recurring characters. In the glory days, his appearances were always something special. Always thinking of ways to get his revenge on Bart, he always manages to find a way out of prison and back into the family’s life.

‘Cape Feare’ is the pick of the litter when it comes to Sideshow Bob episodes. It’s one of the most creative episodes in terms of jokes the series has ever seen, and the result is a string of simply iconic gags. This is the episode that injected new life into jokes about rakes, after all.

Then, to wrap it all up is the most ridiculously brilliant finale, when, in a bid to buy time, Bart appeals to Bob’s ego and gets him to perform the score of HMS Pinafore. Climaxing in a very rousing rendition of ‘He Is an Englishman’ reaching a peak of both hilarity and tension, as we hope the boat arrives back in Springfield before the final note.

Another entry, another all-time great, not much else I can say, really.

Season 6, Episode 12 – Homer the Great

There was a time when The Simpson’s was also a sharp satire, rather than being a sterile timeslot-filler. In the sixth series, it decided to turn its eye to the Freemasons and other such fraternal organisations.

Another episode that includes a memorable earworm (something I think that says a lot about me, more than anything) in the form of ‘We Do’. Which sees the Stonecutters list off all the things they influence perfectly toes the line between hilarious and catchy in the way that all these songs seem to.

It also has a celebrity guest appearance, which I didn’t realise until I rewatched recently and checked the episodes IMDb page to find out that the voice of ‘Number One’ is none other than Patrick Stewart! It goes to show how unobtrusive their celebrity casting once was that I didn’t know this until now.

Another aspect in the episode’s favour is the many, many periphery characters; who now get their chance to be part of something more substantial than just hanging around in Springfield’s background. As it seems like all the male citizens of Springfield are members of the Stonecutters.

An episode that really makes the most of its concept, with the help of another catchy tune, it does enough to ensure its place on this list.

That brings my list at large to a close after only six seasons, but this is really only a tiny sample of the show’s best era. There are so many great episodes from those initial eight seasons that to write about them all would take several weeks. This list wasn’t intended to list the greatest or best episodes. They are merely a collection of episodes I would recommend to introduce yourself to the show or showing a non-fan friend to convert them. In the interest of completionism, here is a list of episodes that could have made it, if not for time and space allocation:

Simpsons Roasting on An Open Fire (Season 1, Episode 1)

Moaning Lisa (Season 1, Episode 6)

Krusty Gets Busted (Season 1, Episode 12)

The First Seven Treehouse of Horrors

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (Season 2, Episode 15)

Kamp Krusty (Season 4, Episode 1)

Mr. Plow (Season 4, Episode 9)

I Love Lisa (Season 4, Episode 15)

Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4, Episode 17)

Krusty Gets Kancelled (Season 4, Episode 22)

Homer’s Barbershop Quartet (Season 5, Episode 1)

Deep Space Homer (Season 5, Episode 15)

Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Badasssss Song (Season 5, Episode 19)

Bart of Darkness (Season 6, Episode 1)

Who Shot Mr Burns? Parts 1 & 2 (Season 6, Episode 25 & Season 7, Episode 1)

Radioactive Man (Season 7, Episode 2)

You Only Move Twice (Season 8, Episode 2)

Burns, Baby Burns (Season 8, Episode 4)

The Springfield Files (Season 8, Episode 10)

Homer’s Phobia (Season 8, Episode 15)