Jackal, The (1997, USA) C-124m. Scope ** D: Michael Caton-Jones. Starring Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Sidney Poitier, Diane Venora, Tess Harper, J.K. Simmons, Mathilda May, Michael Caton-Jones. Weak remake of Fred Zinnemann’s excellent thriller DAY OF THE JACKAL. Willis plays an elusive assassin with a mission to kill a V.I.P., and Gere, an Irish terrorist serving time in a U.S. prison, gives the FBI a hand in tracking him down. Apart from some illogical plot elements, there’s too little depth given to Willis’ character. Gere is fine, however. Some of the violence is rather shocking. Film is somewhat redeemed by a stylish finale (which again is undermined by an illogical twist).

Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001, USA) C-174m. **½ D: Brian Henson. Starring Matthew Modine, Vanessa Redgrave, Mia Sara, Daryl Hannah, Jon Voight, Richard Attenborough, Honor Blackman, Freddie Highmore, voice of Brian Henson. Umpteenth adaptation of the fairy tale, blown up to gigantic proportions for television. Modine is a successful businessman, whose family seems cursed. Every male ancestor has died before reaching the age of 40. He investigates and finds out that it was his great-great-great-and-some-grandfather who was the original Jack on the Beanstalk. He goes to the Kingdom and realizes that they want their goose and golden harp back – for a reason. Overblown, a bit pretentious, but always watchable. A kind of TV version of LORD OF THE RINGS.

Jack Be Nimble (1993, NZL) C-92m. **½ D: Garth Maxwell. Starring Alexis Arquette, Sarah Smuts Kennedy, Bruno Lawrence, Tony Barry, Elizabeth Hawthorne. Highly unusual drama about brother and sister, who were separated at an early age but are longing to get back together as grown-ups, especially because of their foster families. They are young adults with special talents: The boy has invented a hypnosis machine, and the girl is haunted by visions of her brother. Thriller drama with horror touches isn’t completely convincing (you’ll scratch your head at several turns) but very well-acted and so off-beat it will hold your interest throughout. Written by the director.

Jack Brown Genius (1994, NZL) C-90m. *½ D: Tony Hiles. Starring Timothy Balme, Nicola Murphy, Marton Csokas, Stuart Devenie. Misfired fantasy comedy about inventor Balme, who goes mad when a thousand-year-old druid enters his brain and tells him he must find a way to fly within the next seven days. Silly slapstick scenes prevail. Cowritten and coproduced by Peter Jackson (of BRAINDEAD fame). 

Jack el Destripador de Londres (1971, SPA/ITA) C-90m. SCOPE *½ D: Josße Luis Madrid. Starring Paul Naschy, Patricia Loran, Renzo Marignano, Orchidea de Santis. Naschy, probably the worst starring actor in the horror genre (perhaps any genre), here singlehandedly ruins horror thriller about a Jack the Ripper imitation killer in contemporary London. Naschy becomes the prime suspect, but he conveys no feelings whatsoever. To be fair, the screenplay (by the director, Naschy and Tito Carpi) is also extremely weak. The best sequence is the opening montage. English titles: JACK THE MANGLER OF LONDON, JACK THE RIPPER, and SEVEN MURDERS FOR SCOTLAND YARD.

Jacket, The (2005, USA/SCO) C-103m. Scope **½ D: John Maybury. Starring Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro, Daniel Craig, Steven Mackintosh, Angus MacInnes. Fantasy drama with science-fiction touches (or the other way round) about soldier Brody, who gets wounded in the first Gulf War in 1991 and almost dies. After becoming the prime suspect in a roadside killing he ends up in an asylum for the criminally insane, where doctor Kristofferson puts his patients into a strait-jacket and locks them into a morgue drawer. There, Brody finds he can escape into a dream(?)world, where it’s 2007. Very well-acted, interesting, with cult appeal, but initial excitement wears thin. Too little time is invested in Brody’s character. It’s also fatally reminiscent of vintage cult movies TWELVE MONKEYS (1995) and JACOB’S LADDER (1990). Two obvious references to the latter were edited out, including one alternate ending (of three!).

Jackie Brown (1997, USA) C-154m. ***½ D: Quentin Tarantino. Starring Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Michael Bowen, Chris Tucker. Outstanding adaptation of Leonard Elmore’s Rum Punch, focusing on several characters who are all after half a million in cash that weapons dealer Jackson has Grier smuggle to L.A. Deliberately paced and talky but superbly cast and never boring. Prime performances by Grier as the title character, Jackson as an ultra-cool, cold-blooded crook, De Niro as his grungy assistant, Forster as marginal on-looker who is at a crossroads in his life, and Fonda as Jackson’s stoned girlfriend. Climactic ‘who’s-got-the-money-bag’-game is a typical Tarantino set-piece. Shot from an ingenious perspective, this thriller is one of the best novel adaptations in recent memory. Due to the slow pace it sometimes seems possible to translate the film back into the book, everything is so meticulously depicted. Fine soul soundtrack adds to the film’s mood. Written for the screen by Tarantino, whose follow-up to PULP FICTION is quite different from but no less fascinating than the 1994 cult classic.

Jack Ketchum’s The Lost (2005, USA) C-119m. Scope ** D: Chris Sivertson. Starring Marc Senter, Shay Astar, Alex Frost, Megan Henning, Robin Sydney, Michael Bowen, Ed Lauter, Dee Wallace-Stone, Jack Ketchum. Psycho thriller drama about aimless, violent teenagers. Four years after killing a girl in the woods, the past is catching up with Senter, a cold-hearted, potentially dangerous hunk. The local detective has never had a chance to nail him for the crime, but things are changing. Needlessly long, poorly paced, unpleasant adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s novel had an extensive festival run, but lacks a compelling storyline. Worth watching for Senter’s intense performance only, who is a bit like a young Christian Bale. Maybe he was cast because of the similarities between this and AMERICAN PSYCHO (1999). Screenplay by the director.

Jackson County Jail (1976, USA) C-89m. *** D: Michael Miller. Starring Yvette Mimieux, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Carradine, Frederic Cook, Severn Darden, Howard Hesseman, Mary Woronov. Tough, dramatic B-movie about a woman (Mimieux) who gets robbed on her way to New York and, being unable to prove her identity, is arrested in the title prison. When she is raped by an officer and kills him in self-defense, she flees with criminal Jones. Story is unexceptional but plot is unusually thoughtful and the chase sequences are well-filmed; the swift pace of the film makes it quite entertaining. Remade by Miller as OUTSIDE CHANCE (for TV). Produced by Roger Corman. German version is cut by at least 5 minutes.

Jacob’s Ladder (1990, USA) C-113m. **** D: Adrian Lyne. Starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jason Alexander, Patricia Kalember, Eriq La Salle, Ving Rhames, Macauly Culkin. Jacob Singer (Robbins) is slowly losing his grip on reality. He is haunted by terrifying demons in his every-day life as a postman. The graduated philosopher suspects his horrible experiences in Vietnam to be the trigger for his frightening visions. Is his life ‘fading’? What about his lover Pena, his ex-wife Kalember and, most importantly, his kids, one of whom has died in a tragic accident? Is Jacob going to hell…? Brilliantly devised and designed film (set in 1971) combines horror and mystery elements with a harrowing criticism of war, and manages to keep you enthralled right to the (shocking) end. A stunning achievement filled with religious and biblical references, a movie whose many layers of meaning will unfold only after repeated viewings. One of the most startling films of the decade. Robbins gives a superbly anxious performance, the rest of the cast is equally convincing. Fine photography by Jeffrey L. Kimball (TRUE ROMANCE) includes stylistic references to the films of Dario Argento, Maurice Jarre’s score is excellent. The screenplay, written by Bruce Joel Rubin, is more or less a reworking of Robert Enrico’s short film LA RIVIERE DU HIBOU (itself an adaptation of Ambrose Bierce’s classic anti-war short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Ridge). DVD-release contains three deleted scenes (‘The Antidote’ is awesome!), which raise the running time to 126m. At least two further scenes were filmed.

J'ai Épousé une Ombre (1983, FRA) C-110m. *** D: Robin Davis. Starring Nathalie Baye, Francis Huster, Richard Bohringer, Madeleine Robinson, Guy Trejan. Intriguing drama about a pregnant woman (Baye) who is abandoned by her lover and finds a friend in an equally pregnant stranger whom she meets in a train. When the train crashes and that woman dies, Baye takes on her identity and moves to the family of the dead woman's husband. Since they have never seen their son's wife, Baye's real identity is not found out for the time being. Holds interest to the very end. Good score by Philippe Sarde. Cornell Woolrich's I Married a Dead Man was filmed before as NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950), and later as MRS. WINTERBOURNE (1996). English title: I MARRIED A SHADOW.

James and the Giant Peach (1996, USA) C-79m. ***½ D: Henry Selick. Starring Paul Terry, Miriam Margolyes, Joanna Lumley, Pete Postlethwaite, Mike Starr, and the voices of Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis. James Henry Trotter, a poor orphan living at his ugly and evil aunts’ house, goes on a wondrous journey when he steps inside a giant peach, whose inhabitants, a glowworm, a ladybug, a centipede, a grasshopper, a spider and a worm, become his new family. Together they set sail for New York, the boy’s city of dreams. Marvellous stop-motion fantasy, like in Selick’s NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, adapts Roald Dahl’s story in stunning detail, with cute characters and some powerful dramatic scenes. Plot is a little uneven - the switch from live-action to stop-motion animation isn’t seamless - but educational value is very high and film should make children’s eyes glow with amazement. Co-produced by Tim Burton.

Jane Austen Book Club, The (2007, USA) C-106m. ** D: Robin Swicord. Starring Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Ed Brigadier, Kevin Zegers. Comedy drama about several characters, most with personal problems, who agree to meet in the title club, where they read a different Jane Austen novel every month. Movie tentatively examines links between the characters’ real lives and the characters in the book, but non –Austen fans will feel excluded. Unexeceptional, seems to treat every character from the outside, not the inside.

Jane Eyre (1996, ITA/FRA/GBR) C-117m. **½ D: Franco Zeffirelli. Starring William Hurt, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Joan Plowright, Anna Paquin, Geraldine Chaplin, Billie Whitelaw, Maria Schneider, Fiona Shaw, Elle Macpherson, John Wood, Amanda Root, Samuel West. Adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel about the title character’s social rise in 19th century England. Even though Hurt (as Rochester) and Gainsbourg (as Jane Eyre) are good, their casting choices are not optimal. Story well-told until final third, which seems rushed and out-of-sync with the rest of the film. An honorable but flawed filmization. Cowritten by the director.

Janghwa, Hongryeon (2003, KOR) C-115m. **½ D: Kim Ji-Woon. Starring Kim Kap-su, Yum Jung-ah, Lim Su-jeong, Mun Geun-yeong. Difficult Korean cult mystery chiller about two sisters, who return to their father’s home after spending time in a mental institution. Ever since their mother died, their stepmother has made life difficult for them. Now a ghost seems to be haunting their house. Why, and who is it? Movie keeps you on-edge for most of the time, but since little is explained, the effect of this is muted. May require multiple viewings. Written by the director. Based on a Korean folktale, which was filmed before in 1956, 1962 and 1972. English title: A TALE OF TWO SISTERS.

Jarinko Chie (1981, JAP) C-110m. **½ D: Isao Takahata. Starring (the voices of) Chinatsu Nakayama, Norio Nishikawa, Kiyoshi Nishikawa, Yasushi Yokoyama, Shinsuke Shimada. Animated feature from master Takahata about a little girl, whose parents have separated and who must work in her ne’er-do-well father’s diner. She gets involved with small-time gangsters in this mildly entertaining comedy. Some clever moments, but Takahata instills this with too little story to make it work over its relatively long running time. He returned to the subject of family trouble in 1999 with HOHOKEKYO TONARI NO YAMADA-KUN (MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS). Followed by a TV series (1981-1983, 64 episodes). English title: CHIE THE BRAT.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963, USA) C-104m. **½ D: Don Chaffey. Starring Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond, Laurence Naismith, Niall MacGinnis, Michael Gwynn, Douglas Wilmer, Honor Blackman, Nigel Green. Much-loved fantasy adventure about adventurer Jason (Armstrong) and his quest to find the Golden Fleece at the end of the world. Too episodic, carelessly plotted, but Ray Harryhausen’s famous stop-motion effects are impressive (they were referenced in Sam Raimi’s ARMY OF DARKNESS). Score by Bernard Herrmann. Remade for TV in 2000.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993, USA) C-89m. *½ D: Adam Marcus. Starring Kane Hodder, John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Steven Williams, Steven Culp, Erin Gray, Adam Marcus. Ninth installment in the FRIDAY THE 13TH series has little to do with the previous sequels. This time Jason is killed at the beginning of the film, only to return to haunt his sister when his spirit enters the bodies of assorted characters. Stupid plot, hardly any suspense, this entry is for splatter freaks, as the special effects are quite good. Also shown at 91m. Followed by JASON X (2001).

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001, USA) C-104m. Scope ** D: Kevin Smith. Starring Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Jennifer Schwabach, Will Ferrell, Jason Lee, Judd Nelson, George Carlin, Carrie Fisher, Seann William Scott, Gus Van Sant, Chris Rock, Jamie Kennedy, Wes Craven, Shannen Doherty, Mark Hamill, Amy Noble, Joey Lauren Adams, Alanis Morissette, Jason Biggs, Matt Damon. Kevin Smith’s slacker characters from his previous films get their own movie here, as they try and stop(!) the Jay and Silent Bob movie that is being made in Hollywood. On the way they have all kinds of problems and adventures. A throwback to the days of Cheech & Chong, this Hollywood spoof is much too self-absorbed and episodic to really work. Some funny moments, to be sure, but generally a disappointment, with many pointless cameo appearances.

J.D.’s Revenge (1976, USA) C-95m. ** D: Arthur Marks. Starring Glynn Turman, David McKnight, Alice Jubert, Louis Gossett Jr., Jo Anne Meredith. Young Turman is possessed by the soul of a dead man who wants to avenge the murder of his wife. Very odd blaxploitation set in New Orleans is an atmospheric melange of black coolness, sex scenes and supernatural happenings. Uneven and strangely off-putting, but fans should give this one a look.

Jenifer (2005, USA) C-58m. n/r D: Dario Argento. Starring Steven Weber, Laurie Brunetti, Carrie Ann Fleming, Harris Allan, Mark Acheson. Episode produced for the Masters of Horror TV special (created by Mick Garris), where filmmakers such as John Carpenter, John Landis or Tobe Hooper tried their hands at horror shorts. Here, the Italian grandmaster Argento tells the story of cop Weber (who also scripted), who saves a young woman from being killed. It turns out the hideously disfigured, mute girl not only has an appetite for sex, but also for human flesh! Solidly made, with both sex and gore, but its plot remains too obvious and unlikely. Overall an okay view, slightly below par for Argento. Good score by Claudio Simonetti (Goblin).

Jennifer (1978, USA) C-90m. ** D: Brice Mack. Starring Lisa Pelikan, Bert Convy, Nina Foch, Amy Johnston, John Gavin, Jeff Corey, Ray Underwood. Troubled teenager Pelikan, a former member of a snake cult, is hassled by nasty blonde Johnston but finally gets her revenge. Solid storytelling, good acting in ordinary horror thriller. Too low-key and slowly paced to score a higher rating. Interesting score by Jerry Styner.

Jennifer Eight (1992, USA) C-127m. **½ D: Bruce Robinson. Starring Andy Garcia, Uma Thurman, Lance Henriksen, Kathy Baker, Graham Beckel, Kevin Conway, John Malkovich, Perry Lang, Lenny von Dohlen. Well-acted thriller about a New York cop (Garcia) on the trail of a serial killer in a small town. Blind witness Thurman may be the next target, and he wants to protect her, though there are still doubts whether there really is a serial killer. Quite good, but lacks the expert direction of, say, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Story development is also not very credible. Photographed by Conrad Hall.

Jerry Maguire (1996, USA) C-138m. *** D: Cameron Crowe. Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Kelly Preston, Jerry O’Connell, Bonny Hunt, Jonathan Lipnicki, Mark Pellington, Eric Stoltz, Beau Bridges. Kinetic, lightning-based drama about sports manager Cruise, who is ousted from his firm after writing a pamphlet for better treatment of their clients. All he is left with is difficult wanna-be football star Gooding Jr. (who won an Oscar) and shy secretary Zellweger, who secretly adores him. Well-acted (Cruise wanted that Oscar badly but did not get it), well-made, engaging, entertaining drama. Written by the director.

Jersey Girl (2004, USA) C-102m. Scope *** D: Kevin Smith. Starring Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Raquel Castro, Stephen Root, Mike Starr, Jason Biggs, Jason Lee, Matt Damon, Will Smith. Throwback to Smith’s CHASING AMY days with that film’s star Affleck. He plays a busy public relations manager, who has great plans with his pregnant wife Lopez. However, when she dies during childbirth, he is saddled with a baby that he cannot coordinate with his job. So he moves back to Jersey, to his dad, who gives him a hand in raising the girl. Tackles issues such as love, death, sex, parenthood seriously but not without humor, this comedy drama may seem overbaked and contrived to some, but it’s filled with warmth. One of those movies to which your heart responds differently than your head. Photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond. Written and co-edited by the director, who dedicates the movie to his dad, who died during production.

Jetée, La (1962, FRA) 27m. n/r D: Chris Marker. Starring Davos Hanich, Hélène Chatelain, Jacques Ledoux, narrated by Jean Négroni. The inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi drama TWELVE MONKEYS is an interesting black-and-white short film, basically just a combination of stills. The narration is clumsy, atmosphere and score compensate somewhat. The story about personal and global apocalypse holds up in light of short running time. Remarkable, if not terribly impressive, most worthwhile when comparing it to Gilliam’s remake. Watch LA JETEE online at www.bijoucafe.com.

Jeune Fille Libre Ce Soir (1975, FRA/ITA/GER) C-111m. **½ D: René Clément. Starring Maria Schneider, Sydne Rome, Vic Morrow, Robert Vaughn, Nadja Tiller, Georg Marischka, Renato Pozzetto. Interesting misfire from the director of LE PASSENGER DE LA PLUIE (1969). Schneider sleepwalks through her role as young, penniless girl, who accepts a babysitting job and soon finds herself in the middle of a kidnapping masterminded by Rome’s actor friends Vaughn and Tiller. Cryptic and confusing in equal parts in the first half, then creates some nice suspense scenes, but flaws remain all too obvious. Recommended to buffs, who will savor cast and score (by Francis Lai). Written by director Clément, Nicola Badalucco, Luciano Vincenzoni and Mark Peploe (director of AFRAID OF THE DARK and cowriter of PROFESSIONE: REPORTER!). Clément’s last movie; he retired much too early after this at the age of 62. Alternative titles: THE BABYSITTER, THE RAW EDGE, WANTED: BABYSITTER, L.A. BABYSITTER.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001, USA) C-82m. **½ D: John A. Davis. Starring (the voices of) Megan Canavagh, Mark DeCarlo, Debi Derryberry, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart, Jim Cummings, John A. Davis. Fair introduction of Nickelodeon’s popular cartoon character, an extraordinarily intelligent boy, whose inventions sometimes even take him to space. One day, he encounters a malevolent alien race, who abduct everybody’s parents. It’s Jimmy Neutron to the rescue! Typically engaging, but noisy, hyperactive and with some not so pedagogical scenes. For fans.

Jingle All the Way (1996, USA) C-88m. **½ D: Brian Levant. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Martin Mull, James Belushi, Jake Lloyd. Loud, colorful – and rather silly christmas comedy about busy dad Schwarzenegger and his quest for a sold-out Turbo Man Action Figure for his little son Lloyd on Christmas Eve. Unneccesary violent but also quite funny family film, swiftly paced, if quite kitschy. Christmas bonus peps up this rating.

Jisatsu Manyuaru (2003, JAP) C-86m. ** D: Osamu Fukutani. Starring Nozomi Andô, Kei Horie, Ayaka Maeda, Kenji Mizuhashi. Horror drama about two young TV reporters, who decide to make a documentary about recent teen suicides and stumble upon a video manual, in which a mysterious girl explain different ways of killing oneself. Not bad, quite ambitious, but hardly gets going, never becomes exciting or scary. Shot on video, which gives this one an amateurish look at times. Followed by a sequel. English titles: THE SUICIDE MANUAL, THE MANUAL.

Jishin Retto (1980, JAP) C-87m. M D: Teruyoshi Nakano, Kenjiro Omori. Starring Hiroshi Katsuno, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Yumi Takigawa. Japanese disaster epic, modeled after EARTHQUAKE (1974). 30 minutes of pointless talk kill everything before the earthquake finally happens. Unrealistic miniature effects do the rest. Pathetic. English titles: DEATHQUAKE, MAGNITUDE 7.9 and MEGAFORCE 7.9.

Jitsuroku Abe Sada (1975, JAP) C-76m. Scope ** D: Noboru Tanaka. Starring Junko Miyashita, Hideaki Esumi, Genshu Hanayagi, Yoshie Kitsuda. Considered a classic in some circles, this Japanese psycho drama deals with the obsessive, destructive love affair between restaurant owner Esumi and his mistress Miyashita. Might have been influenced by Bertolucci’s classic L’ULTIMO TANGO A PARIGI (1973), but Japan has a history of this kind of movies itself. Strictly for those who find a combination of sex and death stimulating. Same true story filmed more successfully as AI NO CORRIDA (IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES) a year later. Remade again in 1998. English title: A WOMAN CALLED ABE SADA.

Jo (1971, FRA) C-85m. ***½ D: Jean Girault. Starring Louis de Funès, Claude Gensac, Michel Galabru, Bernard Blier, Guy Tréjan, Ferdy Mayne, Yvonne Clech, Paul Préboist, Jacques Marin, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi. Classic Louis de Funès comedy, one of his funniest. Successful writer de Funès is blackmailed by a gangster and decides to get rid of him, plannig everything neatly to dispose of the body. On the next day, de Funès realizes that he shot the wrong man and telephones his friends to find out who he buried under that new gazebo his wife Gensac had built in the garden. Adaptation of Alec Coppel’s play (filmed before in 1959 with Glenn Ford as THE GAZEBO) features the French comedian in one of his best roles. Colorful supporting cast makes this a lot of fun. Marvelous sets, black comedy, a sit-com in the best tradition. The final twenty minutes are a hoot! Good score by Raymond Lefevre, cinematography by Henri Decae. Some de Funès fans consider this to be his best. English title: JOE, THE BUSY BODY.

Joe… Cercati un Posto per Morire! (1968, ITA) C-89m. Scope **½ D: Anthony Ascott (=Giuliano Carnimeo). Starring Jeffrey Hunter, Pascale Petit, Reza Fazeli, Ted Carter (=Nello Pazzafini), Piero Lulli, Daniela Giordano. Fairly good, serious spaghetti western, tending towards the American type. Hunter plays a gunslinger fallen from grace, who gets a chance to redeem himself when a woman (Petit) asks for his help. Then some bandits contend for the gold the woman knows the whereabouts of. Plot lacks power, but film is interesting, solidly made. Good score by Gianni Ferrio. English title: FIND A PLACE TO DIE.

Joe’s Apartment (1996, USA) C-80m. ** D: John Payson. Starring Jerry O’Connell, Megan Ward, Billy West, Reginald Hudlin, Jim Turner, Robetr Vaughan. Comic-book style comedy about hayseed O’Connell, who comes to live in the big city (N.Y.) and moves into a roach-infested apartment. The local bullies would rather see him dead, but they haven’t reckoned with an army of thousands of (talking!) cockroaches, who all take Joe’s side, cause he’s so grungy. HOME ALONE for the MTV-Generation has some funny scenes but is mostly gratuitious. If you want to know what really ought to be done with roaches, view MIMIC (1997). Expanded from a short film.

John Carpenter's Vampires (1998, USA) C-108m. **½ D: John Carpenter. Starring James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell, Tim Guinee. Mean, effective vampire movie by old horror expert Carpenter. Woods plays a modern-day vampire hunter, who, searching for bloodsuckers in Mexico, touches upon a powerful master vampire (Griffith). When his team is killed, he swears vengeance, doing everything in his power to stop the evil creature on his quest to immortality. Some good shock effects, and a nice sense of humor put this above average of the usual horror fodder. However, film is dramatically pat and poorly cast but for Woods' cynical, foul-mouthed character. Very violent scenes make this a sure pick for horror fans, others beware. Based on the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley. Also known as VAMPIRES.

Johnny English (2003, GBR) C-88m. ** D: Peter Howitt. Starring Rowan Atkinson, John Malkovich, Natalie Imbruglia, Ben Miller, Peter Howitt. Bond-spoof Mr Bean-style, about Atkinson’s title character, who is assigned to continue spy work of the Number One British spy, after he got killed (and all the other candidates for the job, too). He sets out against French villain Malkovich, who intends to become King of Britannia. A bit slight, not too funny, this silly parody was written by regular 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade. Let’s stick to AUSTIN POWERS!

Jorobardo de la Morgue, El (1973, SPA) C-82m. *½ D: Javier Aguirre. Starring Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina), Rosanna Yanni, Victor Alcázar, María Elena Arpón, Maria Perschy, Alberto Dalbés, Manuel de Blas, Angel Menéndez. Weak horror film with gothic elements about hunchback Naschy, who is in love with a dying woman and cooperates with a doctor, who is planning to conduct Frankenstein-like experiments. Poorly written and hardly convincing, least of all Naschy himself. Pathetic score destroys what’s left. Some over-the-top gore may interest horror freaks. English titles: THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE, THE RUE MORGUE MASSACRES.

Joshuu 701-Gô: Sasori (1972, JAP) C-87m. Scope ** D: Shunya Ito. Starring Meiko Kaji, Rie Yokoyama, Isao Natsuyagi, Fumio Watanabe. Yayoi Watanabe. Japanese W.I.P. ‘classic’ about the title character, a prison inmate, who goes through much abuse after a failed escape attempt. She even becomes hated by the other prisoners, who are forced to do hard labor whenever she tries to break out. Pretty much like the other W.I.P. flicks, with lots of nudity and violence and a distinct lack of plot. Some surreal touches don’t really make it better than the American counterparts. Based on a graphic novel (what else?), followed by five sequels in the 1970s and some remakes in the 1990s. English title: FEMALE PRISONER #701: SCORPION.

Joshuu Sasori: 701-Gô Urami-Bushi (1973, JAP) C-89m. Scope **½ D: Yasuharu Hasebe. Starring Meiko Kaji, Masakazu Tamura, Yumi Kanei, Hiroshi Tsukata, Yayoi Watanabe. Fourth installment in the SASORI series is not set in prison for almost two thirds. Kaji is caught by the police, escapes again and is helped by a technician at a night club, who is a victim of brutal police interrogation himself. Uneven, but quite intense at times, slightly superior to the original, as it is less predictable and showcases Kaji’s charisma better. Actress Kaji (LADY SNOWBLOOD) left the series after this movie, which was followed by two more SASORI movies in the 1970s. English title: FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: #701’S GRUDGE SONG.

Jour et l’Heure, Le (1963, FRA/ITA) B&W-118m. Scope *** D: René Clement. Starring Simone Signoret, Stuart Whitman, Geneviève Page, Michel Piccoli, Reggie Nalder, Billy Kearns, Marcel Bozzuffi, Jacques Herlin. Clement’s assured direction makes the difference in this WW2 drama about Signoret, a reluctant helper of the Résistance, who takes in American pilot Whitman and tries to help him escape to Spain. Longish but engrossing, with fine black-and-white cinematography by Henri Decae. Clément also coscripted. Costa-Gavras and Claude Pinoteau were his assistant directors. English titles: THE DAY AND THE HOUR, and TODAY WE LIVE.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959, USA) C-132m. Scope *** D: Henry Levin. Starring James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Thayer David, Alan Napier. Exciting Jules Verne adventure about Professor Mason’s perilous journey to the earth’s core. Fine production values, grandly entertaining fantasy. German version is cut by a few minutes.

Judas Kiss (1998, USA) C-97m. Scope **½ D: Sebastian Gutierrez. Starring Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Carla Gugino, Gil Bellows, Simon Baker, Til Schweiger, Roscoe Lee Browne, Philip Baker Hall, Jack Conley. Gugino and her gang decide to kidnap a computer expert and demand 4 million dollars in return for his release. Detectives Rickman and Thompson are on their trail. An exercise in coolness and hipness by a first-time director. Comedy thriller is quite entertaining and amusing, but everything seems calculated and this kind of story has been filmed hundreds of times before (especially during the 90s). One of those films you will forget in a week or two.

Jude (1996, GBR) C-122m. Scope **½ D: Michael Winterbottom. Starring Christopher Ecclestone, Kate Winslet, Rachel Griffiths, Liam Cunningham, June Whitfield, Ross Colvin Turnbull. Epic love story set in 19th century England, about stonemason Ecclestone, who wants nothing more than to attend university. His marriage destroys these plans, but as he is soon left by his wife, he turns to his cousin Winslet, with whom he starts a wild affair. Great production values, excellent photography, but movie remains undramatic throughout and manages to involve the viewer. Too bad. Based on Thomas Hardy’s last novel Jude the Obscure.

Judex (1963, FRA/ITA) 97m. *** D: Georges Franju. Starring Channing Pollock, Francine Bergé, Edith Scob. A fraudulent, rich businessman is threatened by a mysterious stranger who calls himself Judex (Latin for ‘judge’) and wants to avenge those who have been faulted by the magnate. Meanwhile, others are after valuable manuscripts which prove the man’s involvement in dubious transactions. Well-directed, highly unusual mystery drama (by the maker of LES YEUX SANS VISAGE) is filled with so many plot twists, it almost seems surreal. Sure to hold your attention all the way. Dedicated to the memory of Louis Feuillade, the French silent screen pioneer.

Judge Dredd (1995, USA) C-96m. Scope D: Danny Cannon. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Joan Chen, Jürgen Prochnow, Max von Sydow, Balthazar Getty. Incredibly stupid, illogical sci-fi action featuring Stallone as a supercop who saves the world from supercriminal Assante. Absolutely trivial thriller has one zippy action scene but that’s about it. What does Hollywood take us for? Idiots who only want to see ‘some violence’?

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961, USA) 178m. **** D: Stanley Kramer. Starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner. Outstanding, thought-provoking epic-scale recreation of the famous Nuremberg trials of 1948, where four Nazi judges had to defend themselves in court. Direction, acting are first-rate in a must-see film.

Juego del Adulterio, El (1973, SPA) C-83m. ** D: Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent. Starring Erika Blanc, Vicente Parra, Juan Luis Galiardo, Angel Menendez, Marisol Delgado, Agata Lys. Spanish giallo variation about rich Blanc, whose husband finds her cheating on him. When he discovers a trap door in the wine cellar he decides to get rid of her. But who will get the last laugh on whom? Starts quite well but bogs down in final third. Quite nice score but no one is credited. Written by the director. English title: THE DEADLY TRIANGLE.

Juggernaut (1974, GBR) C-109m. *** D: Richard Lester. Starring Richard Harris, Omar Sharif, David Hemmings, Anthony Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Ian Holm, Clifton James, Roy Kinnear, Freddie Jones, Julian Glover, Simon MacCorkindale, Cyril Cusack. Stellar cast in solidly filmed suspenser about a bomb threat concerning captain Sharif’s luxury-liner with 1,200 people on board. An anti-bomb squad, led by Harris, soon have their hands full. Longish but well-filmed, well-acted (especially by Harris) and suspenseful. With more melodrama in the plot this could have become a classic disaster thriller (à la THE TOWERING INFERNO).

Jules et Jim (1961, FRA) 108m. Scope ***½ D: François Truffaut. Starring Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre, Marie Dubois, Vanna Urbino. Unconventional, creatively directed love drama about impact of free-spirited woman Moreau on the relationship between Werner and Serre. Superbly scored, very well-acted classic drama of the Nouvelle Vague. Based on a novel by Henri-Pierre Roché.

Juliette et Juliette (1974, FRA/ITA) C-89m. ** D: Rémo Forlani. Starring Annie Girardot, Marlène Jobert, Pierre Richard, Alfred Adam, Robert Beauvais, Dominique Briand, Patrcik Préjean, Daniel Prévost, Rémo Forlani. Dated emancipation comedy about two women whose paths cross. Girardot plays a free-sprited but unhappy journalist, Jobert is frustrated saleswoman married to wanna-be boxing champ Richard. The two women create a feminist magazine and movement. Plot lacks momentum, but film remains watchable. English title: JULIETTE AND JULIETTE.

Jungle Book, The (1967, USA) C-78m. *** D: Wolfgang Reitherman. Starring the voices of Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders, Bruce Reitherman. One of Disney’s most popular animated features, this amiable comedy is about a boy who is raised by wolves in the jungle. When no-nonsense panther Bagheera intends to bring him back to the humans, they meet Baloo the Bear and learn about ‘The Bare Necessities’. Cute, well-animated, but lacks a powerful narrative. Based on motives from Rudyard Kipling’s novels. This was the last film that Walt Disney supervised before his death. Followed by a sequel in 2003.

Jungle 2 Jungle (1997, USA) C-105m. **½ D: John Pasquin. Starring Tim Allen, Martin Short, JoBeth Williams, Lolita Davidovich, David Ogden Stiers, Bob Dishy, Valerie Mahaffey. Disney-produced comedy, a remake of the French hit UN INDIEN DANS LA VILLE. Allen plays a New York stockbroker, who travels to South America to have his wife sign the divorce papers and learns that he has a thirteen year-old son, who has grown up in the jungle. Reluctantly he takes him to Manhattan, and predictable com-plications ensue. Some gags hit bull's-eye, but too many backfire. Pretty harmless and quite entertaining.

Ju-On: The Grudge (2003, JAP) C-92m. *** D: Takashi Shimuzu. Starring Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa, Kanji Tsuda. A young social worker is sent to a house to look after an old woman who lives there with her son and his wife. When she arrives she finds the old lady in a catatonic state and feels a supernatural presence, which – as the prologue leaves no doubt about – will kill anyone who has entered the house. Scary, eerie exercise in suspense will leave you breathless in the first half. Film deteriorates slightly, as an extra detour is made to stretch the plot, but overall a highly chilling film. This was the third film in a series by writer-director Shimuzu, which started with JU-ON (2000) and JU-ON 2 (2000). Followed by JU-ON: THE GRUDGE 2 (2003) and US-remake THE GRUDGE (2004).

Ju-On: The Grudge 2 (2003, JAP) C-92m. **½ D: Takashi Shimizu. Starring Noriko Sakai, Chiharu Nîyama, Kei Horie, Yui Ichikawa, Shingo Katsurayama. Sequel to one of the scariest Japanese horror films since RINGU (1998) revisits the house of the first film, where a film crew want to film a documentary about the place, with horror actress Sakai taking part. The pregnant star soon starts to be haunted by the ghost of a woman and a little boy, as crew members start dying one by one. Non-linear narrative can be confusing if you are not used to Japanese faces, and film generally never manages to hit bull’s-eye. Some scary sequences, to be sure, but it becomes grotesque towards the end, making this seem more like a curio than a potent horror film. Written by the director. The American THE GRUDGE 2 (2006) is not a remake of this movie (although Shimizu also directed it!).

Jurassic Park (1993, USA) C-126m. ***½ D: Steven Spielberg. Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Samuel L. Jackson, Dean Cundey. Steven Spielberg blockbuster about scientists Neill and Dern (both dino experts), who are whisked away to eccentric zillionaire Attenborough’s island, where they are more than surprised to behold the old man’s dinosaur colony, which he cloned from the blood of a mosquito trapped in amber. They proceed to make a tour of the soon-to-be amusement park, but double-cross soon leads to a black-out and the visitors finds themselves running for their lives from T-Rex and other carnivorous beasts. A whale of an adventure becomes a rollercoaster ride after an hour, with sweat-inducing cliffhanger stunts and not-to-be believed, state-of-the-art special effects. Periodic lulls are easily excused. This is Spielberg on top of his game. Incredibly, he made the acclaimed SCHINDLER’S LIST the same year! Based on the bestseller by Michael Crichton (who also scripted, with David Koepp). Good score by John Williams. Oscar winner for Best Effects. Followed by two sequels, starting with THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997).

Jurassic Park III (2001, USA) C-92m. ** D: Joe Johnston. Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, Laura Dern. Completely predictable sequel about scientist Neill, who reluctantly agrees to join a group of people who go flying over the dino island. When they land – against his wishes – they soon find themselves in great danger. Action-filled semi-remake of the second film has cardboard characters and action set-pieces that seem to have been made for a theme-park. Might thrill younger kids.

Just Friends (2005, USA/CDN/GER) C-96m. ** D: Roger Kumble. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Chris Marquette, Giacomo Beltrami, Julie Hagerty. Fat teenager Reynolds is madly in love with Smart, who only wants to be friends. Ten years later the ugly duckling has changed into a handsome hunk, and chance brings him back to his old hometown. Can he get together with his old flame now? Comedy has some entertainment value, but becomes stupid and obnoxious around half-way through and never recovers.

Just Heroes (1989, HGK) C-97m. ** D: John Woo. Starring Danny Lee, Lee San Yin, Chiang Sing Chi, Wu Ma. Action melodrama by hot director Woo about the fates of several weapon dealers after their boss is assassinated. The action scenes are good, but story wears thin soon. No match for Woo’s THE KILLER, which the director made the same year.

Just Like Heaven (2005, USA) C-95m. *** D: Mark Waters. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue, Dina Waters (Spybey), Ben Shenkman, Jon Heder. Witherspoon plays a workaholic doctor, who’s never really had a relationship, then one day she meets depressed Ruffalo and wonders why he has moved into her apartment. Then they realize she is a ghost and only he can see and hear her. It turns out that she’s been in a coma for three months. How will the situation resolve itself? Cute, funny romantic fantasy comedy has its usual contrivances, but the stars are appealing and the story is moving. Short and sweet. Based on the novel If Only it Were True by Marc Levy.