6 films to tape off the telly

I try to make it a rule here to only write about films that I can in all good conscience recommend, but there are a lot of films that are quite enjoyable, but just not so much that I suggest going out of your way to get them.

You know the drill: it’s Saturday night and there’s nowhere to go, so you figure you’ll stay in and watch a movie. You have a bag of Doritos, a can or two of beer, and you fancy a no-brainer slab of hassle-free entertainment to numb the senses for a couple of hours. You glance at the DVD rack – Iron Man? Spider-Man? Taken? You’ve seen them all too recently to sit through them again. So, you leaf through the TV guide (or have a browse on Netflix) and the following catch your eye. I say, go for it! These lightweight popcorners do the job pretty well without really meriting recommendations in their own right.

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1. Pandorum

This German-British sci-fi thriller, produced by Paul WS Anderson, comes very close to being genuinely good. Perhaps with a higher budget, it would have eclipsed the still-faintly-unsatisfying Sunshine and Event Horizon, but it’s still a fairly entertaining B-movie with a couple of unexpected twists. Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster are survivors of an accident in space, waking up from extended hypersleep with amnesia. Trying to piece together what has happened to the rest of the crew, they explore the ship – only to (predictably) find that there are strange and terrifying creatures on board.

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Michael Clayton

You would be forgiven for getting a bit lost for the first few minutes of watching Michael Clayton. It shifts back and forth in time and there’s not much in the way of exposition, and the directorial style is of that very dry, understated variety that tends to be confusing unless things are explained very clearly, which they’re not.

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The Men Who Stare At Goats

It’s normally a warning sign when the trailer has you in absolute stitches, because there’s no way the finished product can live up to such lofty expectations. Still, here we were with less than baited breath, watching the “more true than you’d ever believe” story from John Sergeant and quirky investigative journalist Jon Ronson (Them, Secret Rulers of the World).

Once you’ve stopped laughing at the casting of Ewan McGregor in a movie about “Jedi Warriors”, the film is actually highly entertaining for the first two-thirds … and then laugh-out-loud hilarious for the finale.

The absolutely superb performance by Kevin Spacey in a supporting role is really what makes this wonderful, but McGregor, George Clooney and Jeff Bridges are especially engaging in perhaps the only film about goats, psychoactive drugs and Jedi in wartorn Iraq that you’re ever going to see. Robert Patrick has a minor role, proving his ability to add gold-dust to every film he’s in. Very highly recommended.

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