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Director Richard Donner Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Alfred Molina, James Coburn, Graham Greene, Geoffrey Lewis, Paul L. Smith, Max Perlich

It may be different going the other way but TV to film is one of those transitions that just doesn’t work sometimes. On top of that comedy and western are two genres that should stay away from each. But then, out of the blue, comes along Maverick; the only perfectly good TV-to-film-adapated comedic western I can think of.

It follows the misadventures of Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson), who runs afoul of the gun-totting gambler Angel (Alfred Molina), chases down petty thief and lover Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) and butts heads with Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner), all while trying to come up with the $3k he needs to make the $25k entry fee for a five-card draw poker tournament.

There’s a lot of great humour in this cleverly-written script and Gibson just shines in his role. In fact everybody came to the party in this film, with the continual banter between Gibson, Foster and Garner never getting old. It’s full of one-off stand out moments, such as a cameo appearance by Danny Glover, the runaway stagecoach, the best ending to a hand of poker and a surprisingly good twist ending. It’s no world-beater and when you think of the films made by Gibson and Foster this is one that may get overlooked but there’s no doubting it’s a quality hand worth betting on.

MRD 7 of 10

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Director Bryan Singer Starring Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri, Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Hedaya, Suzy Amis, Pete Postlethwaite, Peter Greene

If twist endings are your thing then look no further than the film that kick-started the career of Kevin Spacey: The Usual Suspects.

The entire film is the testimony of one Roger “Verbal” Kint (Kevin Spacey) to Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri). Kint, along with a rag-tag group of criminals (Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio del Toro and Kevin Pollak) have inadvertently earned the wrath of the mysterious Keyser Soze, who offers them a way to clear their debts with him, ending in one of the greatest plot twists of all time.

Plot twists are hard to pull off because if you see it coming it’s ruined, but The Usual Suspects does it perfectly. Nothing is clear until the big reveal then every piece falls into place and you find yourself applauding the film purely because of this. Having said that Kevin Spacey does a wonderful job, definitely Oscar-worthy, and director Bryan Singer may be the devil himself because this film is the smartest thing he ever did.

MRD 8 of 10

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Director Damien Chazelle Starring Miles Teller, J.K Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang

One of the best film of last year, and just maybe a feature of a certain bloggers own little film awards is this drama all about influence and the realisation of potential. It’s also the one film you should take absolutely no cues from.

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a jazz drummer under the tutelage of conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K Simmons) whose less than acceptable teaching methods push Andrew to his absolute limits so that he might achieve greatness. While their relationship is far than healthy it does have a resounding effect on young Andrew, whether it be good or bad. It’s also probably the first ever film to end with a drum solo.

This film is brilliant and the only thing keeping it from cleaning up awards is that there were others that were just as good. But this one is different; it has that indie aura surrounding it. It was made on a shoestring budget, goes for half the time of the others nominated for best picture and yet tells us what it’s all about in a neat little package. To top it off it’s got one of, if not the, best performance of 2014. If you’re making a list of recent films to watch then this needs to be right on top because you’ll be jamming with them by the end.

MRD 9 of 10

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