Waking Life (2001, USA) C-100m. ** D: Richard Linklater. Starring Wiley Wiggins, Bill Wise, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Steven Soderbergh, Richard Linklater. Experimental animated drama with a stream-of-consciousness narrative about a young man who drifts through life. In episodes we get chunks of conversation about the meaning of life etc. Linklater uses an interesting artistic approach – he bases the animation on live-action performances – but the result is episodic, even boring. Watch only if you are in the mood for something philosophical. Linklater returned to this style of filmmaking with Philip K. Dick’s A SCANNER DARKLY (2006). In fact, a Dick essay is discussed in the film.

Waking Ned (1998, GBR) C-91m. *** D: Kirk Jones. Starring Ian Bannen, David Kelly, Fionulla Flanagan, Susan Lynch, James Nesbitt, Maura O’Malley, Robert Hickey, Paddy Ward, James Ryland. Amusing black comedy about two elderly friends (Bannen and Kelly) who learn that one of their neighbors in a small Irish town (population: 52!) has won a large sum in the lottery. When they discover that he has died the moment he realized his luck, they decide to rip off the lottery company by having one of them pose as the deceased man. Macabre, if not entirely logical, but great fun, thanks to an engaging cast led by the wonderful Bannen and Kelly. Nice photography captures the Irish countryside in poetic images.

Walking Dead, The (1936, USA) 66m. **½ D: Michael Curtiz. Starring Boris Karloff, Edmund Gwenn. After being electrocuted for a murder he didn’t commit, Karloff is resurrected by a doctor and exacts revenge on the real murderers. Unexciting plot makes horror thriller seem longer than it actually is, but Curtiz’ direction which emphasizes the characters’ mimickry (like in a silent movie; to increase the effect Karloff plays a pianist) makes it worth watching.

Walking Tall (1973, USA) C-124m. ** D: Phil Karlson. Starring Joe Don Baker, Elizabeth Hartman, Gene Evan, Noah Beery Jr., Brenda Benet, John Brascia, Bruce Glover. Second-rate action drama based on the life of Buford Pusser (played by Baker), who returns to his hometown trying to live in peace with his family and finds it a pool of crime and corruption. Armed with a wooden club the giant sorts things out violently. Might have become an American classic if it wasn’t overlong, manipulative and not very engrossing. Followed by two sequels and a TV series. Remade for TV in 1978 and for cinemas in 2004.

Walking Thunder (1995, USA) C-95m. ** D: Craig Clyde. Starring John Denver, James Read, Irene Miracle, narrated by Brian Keith. Unexceptional wilderness adventure about a 19th century family who has to contend with nature and evil trappers. A little imagination might have helped; kids may like it anyway. Probably made for TV.

Walk in the Clouds, A (1995, USA) C-102m. *** D: Alfonso Arau. Starring Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini, Angelica Aragon. Chocolate salesman Reeves returns from WW2, and meets a pregnant young Mexican woman (Sanchez-Gijon). He offers her to pose as her husband, since she is afraid to return to her father's estate without the father of her unborn child. Needless to say, they fall in love. Pure kitsch, with not-to-be-believed scenes, but the acting is sincere and the photography one of the most tantalizing in recent memory. Fine score by Maurice Jarre. A remake of QUATTRO POASSI FRA LE NUVOLE (1942). The kitsch may have worked better in that version.

Walk the Line (2005, USA) C-136m. Scope *** D: James Mangold. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin ,Robert Patrick, Dallas Roberts, Dan John Miller, Lary Bagby, James Keach. Sincere bio-pic of the life of music legend Johnny Cash (played with conviction by Phoenix). Cash’s difficult childhood, his coming-of-age, his stardom and his alcohol and pill-addiction are elaborated. Film is well-acted (Witherspoon won an Oscar as June Carter) and provides an engrossing two hours plus. Incredibly, the stars did their own singing.

Wallace & Gromit’s Cracking Contraptions (2002, GBR) C-20m. n/r D: Loyd Price, Christopher Sadler. Starring (the voice of) Peter Sallis. Series of some ten vignettes about the bumbling inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit, some very funny, all about some truly grotesque inventions and how most of them go wrong. Originally broadcast on the BBC website to test audience-response in preparation of the 2005 feature film.

Wallace & Gromit in A Close Shave (1995, GBR) C-30m. n/r D: Nick Park. Starring (the voices of) Peter Sallis, Anne Reid. Oscar-winning third Wallace and Gromit movie is mad-cap action adventure about the inventor, who has established a window-cleaning service. His dog Gromit gets involved with the mysterious disappearance of sheep. Provides a hilarious succession of gags. Many of the brilliant ideas here were expanded into the (equally Oscar-winning) feature WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT (2005).

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, GBR) C-85m. ***½ D: Steve Box, Nick Park. Starring (the voices of) Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, Nicholas Smith, Liz Smith. Often hilarious, exceptionally designed first feature-length adventure of clay characters Wallace & Gromit (following several short episodes between 1989 and 2002), who run their Anti-Pesto company, protecting the town from vermin of all sorts. This time they are busy catching an enourmously big rabbit (a were-rabbit), before it ruins the annual Giant Vegetable Competition. The characters’ faces and expressions alone are good for dozens of laughs, the script is filled with great ideas. A treat for young and old. Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature, though CORPSE BRIDE (2005) was even better.

Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers (1993, GBR) C-30m. n/r D: Nick Park. Starring (the voice of) Peter Sallis. Possibly the best of the Wallace & Gromit shorts, this also works perfectly as a homage to heist movies and thrillers in general. Wallace realizes that he needs more cash to keep up their “modern lifestyle” and takes in a tenant, who, as it turns out to be, not only tries to poke Gromit out of the house but also has sinister plans with Wallace’s latest invention, some programmable trousers. Hilarious, action-packed cartoon will make you gag with excitement. Love that suspense score! Winner of Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars.

WALL-E (2008, USA) C-98m. SCOPE **½ D: Andrew Stanton. Starring (the voices of) Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Sigourney Weaver. Some seven hundred years into the future the Earth is a wasteland, with garbage robot WALL-E on a lonely mission to rid the planet of trash. He collects material he considers interesting in his trailer and watches old movies. Then one day a female search robot arrives on the planet, with a mission he at first cannot understand. Animation-wise this is what you’d expect from Pixar, flawlessly animated, filled with good ideas, but plot is built up on coincidences, logical loopholes and doesn’t fully exploit its apocalyptic premise. But most importantly, the laughs are limited. John Lasseter executive produced.

Wanda, the Sadistic Hypnotist (1969, USA) C-69m. M D: Greg Corarito. Starring Katherine Shubeck, Dick Dangerfield (=Richard Compton), Janine Sweet, Patty Roberts. Absolutely terrible non-movie is just a series of scenes showing naked women. Its purported plot is about the title character who rarely appears and a man who doesn’t want to have sex with all the horny women around. Looks like someone’s home movies at times. Don’t be fooled by the title suggesting a cult flick.

Wanted (1999, AUT) C-87m. ** D: Harald Sicheritz. Starring Alfred Dorfer, Michael Niavarani, Roland Düringer, Erwin Steinhauer, Franz Buchrieser, Bibiane Zeller, Reinhard Nowak, John Phillip Law. Surgeon Dorfer escapes his stressful life by imagining he's the Lone Ranger, and his parents ask priest Niavarani to visit him in psychiatric care and try to bring him back to reality. Instead, Dorfer drags him into the Wild West with him. This potentially interesting story suffers terribly from an underdeveloped, uneven script (by Dorfer), but even so manages to get more involving in the final third, when the drama takes over from the comedy. Comic scenes feature Düringer in laugh-out-loud situations (non-Austrians may disagree). A misfire, but worth a look, if only to imagine what this could have been with a better script. Law has two brief appearances as one of the headhunters chasing Dorfer.

War and Peace (1956, USA/ITA) C-205m. Scope *** D: King Vidor. Starring Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer, Vittorio Gassman, Herbert Lom, Oskar Homolka, Anita Ekberg, May Britt, John Mills, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. You need not have read Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel to tell that this adaptation has its flaws. Of course, a 1000+ pages novel is always difficult to bring on-screen adequately, but this version remains surprisingly watchable. Good cast struggles with material and finally manages to breathe life into the characters. Fonda, Hepburn and Lom come off very well and epic war scenes are filmed with gusto. Good score by Nino Rota, photography by Jack Cardiff. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis.

Warlords of Atlantis (1978, GBR) C-96m. **½ D: Kevin Connor. Starring Doug McClure, Peter Gilmore, Shane Rimmer, Lea Brodie, John Ratzenberger, Ashley Knight, Cyd Charisse. Engaging fantasy adventure from veteran director Connor (MOTEL HELL) about an underwater expedition headed by Gilmore, which ends up in Atlantis. Occasionally cheap and pretentious, but abundance of monsters compensates. Fun for kids. Photographed by Alan Hume. Also known as WARLORDS OF THE DEEP.

War of the Worlds (2005, USA) C-116m. *** D: Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Ann Robinson, Gene Barry, narrated by Morgan Freeman. Spielberg’s spectacular remake of the 1953 classic puts divorced Cruise and his two children in danger, as alien spaceships appear out of the blue and start destroying and killing. Can Cruise reach his ex-wife in time before everybody and everything is wiped out? Shouldn’t be seen as serious sci-fi, it’s a popcorn movie with stunning effects and excellent direction. Spielberg keeps the camera moving, uses effective editing and a dramatic score (by John Williams). It’s his shortest feature in over twenty years. Based on the novel by H.G. Wells.

War of the Worlds: The Resurrection (1988, USA) C-95m. *½ D: Colin Chilvers. Jared Martin, Lynda Mason Green, Philip Akin, Richard Chaves, Rachel Blanchard, Adrian Paul, Frank Pellegrino, John Vernon. 35 years after the events in the classic WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) the aliens, who were in suspended hibernation, are revived and continue their attempt to overthrow the human race. Science-fiction pilot for the series (1988-1990) is talky and offers very little entertainment in addition to its already thin premise. It’s rather violent, though.

Warriors of the Apocalypse (1985, USA) C-96m. *½ D: Bobby A. Suarez. Starring Michael James, Deborah Moore, Khristine Erlandson. Laughable science-fiction trash set 50 years after the destruction of the planet about group of sleazeballs who are in search of a mysterious mountain that is said to hold the secret of eternal life. In the jungle they encounter a sect whose guru runs on nuclear power! Not that bad, even (unintentionally) funny, but Suarez’ claustrophobic direction kills it.

Watcher, The (2000, USA) C-97m. **½ D: Joe Charbanic, Jeff Jensen. Starring James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Keanu Reeves, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis. Occasionally intense psycho thriller about worn-out cop Spader, who has been chasing serial killer Reeves for the last few years and is about to finally nail him in Chicago. Film details their unusual relationship, but is more a thriller than a drama. Unusual fare, well-photographed by acclaimed cinematographer Michael Chapman (RAGING BULL, THE FUGITIVE). Reeves signed up for the film years before its production and only acted in it because he wanted to avert a law suit. His performance doesn’t suffer, however.

Watchmen (2009, USA) C-162m. SCOPE *** D: Zack Snyder. Starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie, Laura Mennell. Director Snyder’s super-stylish follow-up to 300 (2006) is a comic-book adaptation set in an alternate 1985, where America has won the Vietnam War and Nixon is serving his fifth term as president. However, the Cold War is culminating in nuclear threats from both sides and amid that doomsday scenario, a group of former superheroes is trying to figure out why one of them has been killed. Sizzling special effects, action done slam-bang style, but plot lacks verve and is needlessly stretched out. Watch it for the style and effects. Director’s Cut and Ultimate Cut run even longer (186m. and 215m., respectively).

Water (1985, GBR) C-97m. **½ D: Dick Clement. Starring Michael Caine, Valerie Perrine, Brenda Vaccaro, Leonard Rossiter, Billy Connolly, Dennis Dugan, Fred Gwynne, Maureen Lipman, Alfred Molina, Ruby Wax. Wacky satire of British and American stereotypes, set on an unimportant (fictitious) Caribbean island, which suddenly becomes center of attention when a mineral water spring is discovered. Disgruntled British governor Caine and several other characters soon find the island sinking in chaos. Comedy is rather inept, but benefits from interesting cast and Caribbean setting. Photographed by Douglas Slocombe. Produced by ‘Beatle’ George Harrison, who briefly appears making music with pals Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr.

Waterboy, The (1998, USA) C-88m. **½ D: Frank Coraci. Starring Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Henry Winkler, Jerry Reed, Larry Gilliard, Jr., Rob Schneider. Truly wacked-out comedy about retarded waterboy Sandler and his overbearing mother Bates, who is shocked when her “little boy” (at 31!) is discovered to be a masterful tackler and starts playing football for a team who haven’t won a match for a long, long time. Typically American, good-natured comedy is rather silly but offers enough laughs. Bates and especially Winkler score the most points. Unmotivated use of (good) songs on the soundtrack.

Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, The (2007, GBR/USA) C-112m. Scope **½ D: Jay Russell. Starring Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin, Emily Watson, Eddie Campbell, Geraldine Brophy, David Morrissey, Brian Cox. Fantasy movie uses the legend of Loch Ness and weaves a story around it, about a little Scottish boy whose father is at war (WW2) and who finds a magical egg on teh beach one day. Inside is a kind of serpent or dragon, a water horse that grows at an incredible speed. Some beautiful photography (by Oliver Stapleton) but scripting remains standard. Rousing score by James Newton Howard. Based on teh novel by Dick King-Smith.

Waterland (1992, GBR) C-94m. Scope *** D: Stephen Gyllenhaal. Starring Jeremy Irons, Sinead Cusack, Ethan Hawke, John Heard, Pete Postlethwaite. Irons is brilliant as troubled history teacher who manages to explain the importance of the subject to his students by relating his own dark history, which serves as a key to the understanding of his past. Engrossing drama with some impressive settings. Well-adapted from Graham Swift’s novel, film offers an unusual but intriguing narrative. Carter Burwell’s dramatic music score is a plus, though it is reminiscent of his work for the Coen brothers.

Wat Zien Ik? (1971, NED) C-90m. ** D: Paul Verhoeven. Starring Ronnie Bierman, Sylvia de Leur, Bernard Droog, Jules Hamel, Albert Mol. Rarely seen first feature by Paul Verhoeven is occasionally funny sex comedy about the exploits of a prostitute, who is sometimes faced with highly unusual wishes of her clients. Begins nicely, has some well-directed scenes, but ultimately becomes redundant. Verhoeven followed this with the similar but much better TURKS FRUIT (1973). Based on a novel by Albert Mol. Aka BUSINESS IS BUSINESS, DIARY OF A HOOKER, ANY SPECIAL WAY.

Wave, The (1981, USA) C-46m. n/r D: Alexander Grasshoff. Starring Bruce Davison, Lori Lethin, John Putch, Johnny Doran, Jamie Rose, Michael Pasternak. Made-for-TV adaptation of the educational book by Morton Rhue about a high school history teacher who finds it difficult to explain the Nazi phenomenon to his students and proceeds to make an experiment. The students learn ‘Strength through discipline’ and become followers of ‘The Wave’, a symbol much like Hitler’s swastika. Well-acted, especially by Davison, but still seems slightly pretentious. The score overdoes it at times. Worth a watch for those who read the book. It was remade in Germany in 2008 as DIE WELLE.

Way of the Dragon, The (1973, HGK) C-96m. Scope **½ D: Bruce Lee. Starring Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao, Miao Ker-Xie, Bob Wall. Lee’s only film as a director is mediocre eastern about the master coming to help some friends in Rome, who are threatened by a ruthless crime syndicate. Plot is a yawn and film is poorly paced (first fight scenes only after 30 minutes) but Lee is fine as usual; all his talents are displayed here. The climactic showdown in the Roman Colloseum, which pits Bruce against Chuck Norris, is the best part of the film. Lee also receives story credit. Raymond Chow produced the picture. German TV version (91m.45sec.) is obviously cut but not as much as 91m. U.S. version, titled RETURN OF THE DRAGON. It was filmed before but released after the star’s big success with ENTER THE DRAGON.

Way of the Gun, The (2000, USA) C-119m. M D: Christopher McQuarrie. Starring Ryan Phillippe, Benicio del Toro, James Caan, Juliette Lewis, Scott Wilson, Geoffrey Lewis. Awful mess of a movie about two petty criminals, who decide to kidnap a pregnant surrogate mother and find themselves knee-deep in problems when the father, a millionaire, hires Caan to retrieve the baby – with or without the mother. Ultra-slow pacing kills this one, since texture isn’t as rich as writer-director McQuarrie (Oscar winner for THE USUAL SUSPECTS) would have it. This one isn’t engrossing but very, very strange (and slow).

Way... Way Out (1966, USA) C-101m. SCOPE ** D: Gordon Douglas. Starring Jerry Lewis, Connie Stevens, Robert Morley, Dennis Weaver, Howard Morris, Brian Keith, Dick Shawn, Anita Ekberg, Milton Frome, Linda Harrison, James Brolin. Misfire about astronaut Lewis, who becomes a candidate for a year-long stay at a moon station, but he needs a wife within three days. Stevens finally agrees to go, and up on the moon they meet Russian couple Shawn and Ekberg. Some nice set decoration, 60s flavor, but this has very few laughs, and it takes forever till Jerry appears. Subpar for the comedian, some even consider this a bomb. Score by Lalo Schifrin. Title song by Jerry’s son Gary and his band The Playboys.

W Django! (1971, ITA) C-83m. Scope ** D: Edward G. Muller (=Edoardo Mulargia). Starring Anthony Steffen, Stelio Candelli, Glauco Onorato, Donato Castellanato, Claudia Ornato. Standard Euro western with Steffen appropriately cold-blooded as a gunslinger who is out to avenge the death of his wife. Some style, nice score by Piero Umiliano, but not really enough to please anyone except genre fans.

Weather Man, The (2005, USA) C-102m. *** D: Gore Verbinski. Starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis, Gemmenne de la Pena, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Rispoli, Gil Bellows. Cage plays the title character, a Chicago TV celebrity, whose life is anything but a success. He is separated from his family, his kids get into trouble without him realizing it, his father, a highly successful novelist, is about to die, and people keep throwing things at him from their cars. Slightly downbeat but telling, keenly observed character study buoyed by Cage’s terrific performance and Hans Zimmer’s excellent score. Screenplay by Steve Conrad contains some bitter truths. Recommended viewing.

Web of Death, The (1976, HGK) C-91m. Scope *** D: Chor Yuen. Starring Yueh Hua, Lo Lieh, Lily Li, Ching Li, Ku Feng, Chan Shen. Interesting Shaw Brothers eastern about several clans who are after a powerful spider that can win them the title in upcoming boxer tournament. Gimmicky plot can be confusing at times with its many characters, but romantic, atmospheric settings and that fantasy/horror touch make it fun for fans. Original title: WU DU TIAN LUO.

Wedding Crashers (2005, USA) C-119m. Scope **½ D: David Dobkin. Starring Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Jane Seymour, Henry Gibson, Dwight Yoakam, Rebecca De Mornay, Chao-Li Chi. Superficial but amusing comedy about Wilson and Vaughn, two wedding crashers, who like enjoying themselves at weddings they are not invited to, aiming mainly at one-night-stands. Things get complicated when Wilson falls in love with the daughter of Treasury Secretary Walken, and Vaughn must pretend he’s in love with her sister. Another totally artificial Hollywood comedy, never rings true one second, but the laughs are there, resulting in a movie that’s phony but funny.

Wedding Singer, The (1998, USA) C-96m. *** D: Frank Curaci. Starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Angela Featherstone, Allen Covert, Matthew Glave, Christine Taylor, Jon Lovitz, Billy Idol. He’s a wedding singer who was left by his bride on their wedding day. She’s a waitress who is about to marry the wrong guy. Guess what happens next. Romance is predictably plotted but immensely appealing nevertheless, with Barrymore ideally cast in the lead role. She is so charming, you’ve got to fall in love with her! In the finale, however, the concept goes overboard. And what exactly was the point of setting this one in 1985? Steve Buscemi has a funny cameo.

Week-end à Zuydcoote (1964, FRA) C-123m. Scope ** D: Henri Verneuil. Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Catherine Spaak, Georges Géret, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Pierre Mondy, Marie Dubois, Francois Périer, Albert Rémy, Paul Préboist, Dominique Zardi. Based on Robert Merle’s novel, this war film is set in 1940 near the coastal town of Dunkirk (Zuydcoote), which was strategically important in WW2. A group of French soldiers find themselves in the midst of turmoil, as the Germans attack relentlessly. Misfired drama puts main character Belmondo in pointlessly trivial situations – with even more trivial dialogue. Big-budget but empty. Real star here is Henri Decae’s impressive cinematography. Score by Maurice Jarre. English title: WEEKEND AT DUNKIRK.

Welcome to Collinwood (2002, USA/GER) C-86m. Scope *** D: Anthony and Joe Russo. Starring William H. Macy, Isaiah Washington, Sam Rockwell, Michael Jeter, Luis Guzmán, John Buck Jr., Andrew Davoli, George Clooney, Jennifer Esposito. Funny remake of the 1958 Italian heist comedy classic I SOLITI IGNOTI (BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET). Five losers learn of an ooportunity to strike it rich. It’s impossible to explain what happens next, but everything goes wrong, as it possibly can. Obviously not very original, but performed with gusto. Clooney is especially cool as a guy who teaches them the art of safecracking. He also produced, with Steven Soderbergh (their OCEAN’S ELEVEN comes to mind). The directors also scripted.

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996, USA) C-87m. **½ D: Todd Solondz. Starring Heather Matarazzo, Brendan Sexton, Jr., Daria Kalinina. Life is hell for eleven year-old Matarazzo: she looks ugly, wears the most ridiculous clothes and is thus an outsider at her Junior High School. Her family treats her with contempt, paying only attention to her little sister, an ‘adorable’ young beauty. What to do in such a situation? This topic might have been dealt with seriously, but writer-director Solondz decided to make a satirical comedy. What’s there is some laughs, some down-beat scenes, and no point to it at all, as will become clear at the end. The girl’s problems are no laughing matter. Still, some found this excellent.

Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2006, USA) C-91m. ** D: John Laing. Starring Brenda Song, Shin Koyamada, Susan Chuang, Justin Chon, Michael David Cheng, Anna Hutchison. Made-for-TV variation of KARATE KID (1984), with Song playing a high school student hoping to become homecoming queen. Enter monk Koyamada, who tells her her life is in danger and she must learn the art of kung fu. Innocuous Disney fare is standard TV fodder. Mostly for girls. Followed by a sequel(!) in 2009.

We’re Going to Eat You! (1980, HGK) C-90m. SCOPE **½ D: Tsui Hark. Starring Norman Tsui Sui-Keung (=Norman Chu), Feng Feng, Choi Hon Kwok, Melvin Wong. Legendary Hong Kong producer Tsui Hark’s second directorial effort (after THE BUTTERFLY MURDERS) is quite funny cannibal comedy about several people coming to an island whose inhabitants live off human flesh. Some gory effects, but spiced with slapstick action throughout. Well-directed and photographed, film loses some of its initial appeal towards the end. Even (ineptly) references parts of the SUSPIRIA score! Also known as HELL HAS NO GATES, KUNG FU CANNIBALS, and NO DOOR TO HELL.

Wer War Edgar Allan? (1984, AUT/GER) C-87m. **½ D: Michael Haneke. Starring Paulus Manker, Rolf Hoppe, Guido Wieland, Otello Fava, Renzo Martini, Walter Corradi. Hesitant psycho drama, based on the novel by Peter Rosei, about arts student Manker, who lives in Venice spending his father’s inheritance on alcohol and drugs. One day he meets a German-born American (Hoppe) who goes by the name of Edgar Allan. Very cryptic drama is unfortunately also very slow and obviously without a point. Director Haneke shows talent, the score by an uncredited Ennio Morricone is perfect for this kind of film. Worth a look, but not to everyone’s taste. Made for television and filmed on location in Venice. 

Werwölfe, Die (1973, GER) C-78m. ** D: Werner Klett. Starring Wolfgang Ziffer, Klaus Jepsen, H. Ebeling, Günter Meisner. At the end of WW2, a group of eleven teenage soldiers of the Hitlerjugend barricade themselves against the enemy. When allied forces search the area after Hitler’s death, they meet fierce opposition from the youngsters. German war drama – a variation of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies – uses music by Franz Liszt quite powerfully, but overall remains dramatically flat. English title would be THE WEREWOLVES, but it’s doubtful whether this was released abroad.

West Ti Va Stretto, Amico... è Arrivato Alleluja, Il (1972, ITA/FRA/GER) C-100m. Scope D: Anthony Ascot (=Giuliano Carnimeo). Starring George Hilton, Lincoln Tate, Agata Flori, Raymond Bussières, Garrone, Umberto D’Orsi, Maurice Poli. Silly western comedy starring Hilton in his trademark role as a clever gunslinger, who’s always a step ahead of his competition. This time he has to find a valuable Mexican statuette that some Scottish scoundrels, a gang of Mexican rebels and a fat businessman are after. Has a fistful of funny ideas, and Carnimeo’s direction is not bad (as usual), but script is poor and incoherent. Even Stelvio Cipriani’s score is not good this time. A sequel to TESTA L’AMMAZZO, CROCE… SEI MORTO… MI CHIAMANO ALLELUJA (1972). English titles: RETURN OF HALLELUJA, THE WEST IS TOUGH, AMIGO… ALLELUJA’S HERE, and THE WEST IS VERY CLOSE, AMIGO.

Westworld (1973, USA) C-88m. Scope *** D: Michael Crichton. Starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Norman Bartold, Alan Oppenheimer, Dick van Patten, Victoria Shaw. In a futuristic holiday resort tourists can choose between three ‘worlds’, Roman world, Medieval World and Westworld. The people living there are robots who are programmed to please the tourists. Benjamin and Franklin, visitors of Westworld, are confronted by an android gunslinger (Brynner) who runs amok. Soon it seems that the whole amusement park is getting out of control. Exciting thriller (written by the director) might have had to say more about the danger of technical progress but packs a wallop nevertheless.

What Dreams May Come (1998, USA) C-114m. Scope **½ D: Vincent Ward. Starring Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Max von Sydow, Jessica Brooks Grant, Josh Paddock, Rosalind Chao, Werner Herzog. Williams plays a doctor, whose children have died in a car accident. When he himself is killed, his wife Sciorra is mourning his death, thinking about suicide. Meanwhile, Williams learns to get around in heaven. Will they be reunited, even if she kills herself? Overinflated romantic fantasy relies a lot on Williams' likability - and almost works. Beautiful color choreography (kudos to Italian production designer and French cinematographer) distracts from story, which at times seems like one big happy ending. It's all very metaphysical, with very little substance, but also quite endearing. Based on the novel by Richard Matheson.

Whatt Happens in Vegas (2008, USA) C-99m. SCOPE **½ D: Tom Vaughan. Starring Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Rob Corddry, Lake Bell, Treat Williams, Queen Latifah, Dennis Farina. It doesn’t get any more contrived than this: Two singles meet during a trip to Las Vegas, and marry for the heck of it. When on the next morning they find out that they don’t really fit together, a $3 million win forces them to live their marriage for 6 months – including going to marriage counselling sessions! Sounds improbable but is good for a few laughs. Harmless entertainment.

What Lies Beneath (2000, USA) C-129m. Scope ** D: Robert Zemeckis. Starring Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Scarwid, Joe Morton, James Remar, Miranda Otto, Amber Valetta. When their daughter goes away to college, and husband Ford does extensive work, Pfeiffer is left alone in their country house. Soon she starts hearing voices, and a photograph keeps falling off a table. Is a ghost roaming their house? Mystery chiller is quite good for an hour, delivering some nice scares, but then goes overboard with some needless red herrings and a dull digital-effects finale. Filmed when director Zemeckis had to make a break during the shooting of CAST AWAY and it shows. They should have taken more time writing the script. An okay timekiller, nothing more. Familiar score by Alan Silvestri reveals this as a mere patchwork of ideas Alfred Hitchcock had decades before.

What Price Survival (1994, HGK) C-97m. *** D: Daniel Lee. Starring David Chiang, Norman Chu, Jack Kao, Damian Lau. Stylishly directed martial arts epic, loosely based on the 1967 Chang Cheh/Wang Yu classic ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN. A boy is kidnapped, then raised by his father’s nemesis to become his killer. Breathtaking cinematography, good action choreography and a passionate story make this a fine eastern. Also known as ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN ‘94. Lee’s first film as a director; he followed this with the explosive BLACK MASK (1996).

What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993, USA) C-119m. *** D: Brian Gibson. Starring Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Jenifer Lewis. Consistently interesting bio of famed singer Tina Turner, from her early days as a teenager to the end of her cooperation with her brutish husband Ike. Predictable perhaps, but dramatic nevertheless, buoyed by two terrific performances by Bassett and the charismatic Fishburne. Based on Tina Turner and Kurt Loder’s book I, Tina.

What’s New Pussycat (1965, USA/FRA) C-108m. *** D: Clive Donner. Starring Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, Romy Schneider, Capucine, Paula Prentiss, Woody Allen, Ursula Andress, Edra Gale, Jess Hahn, Howard Vernon, Richard Burton, Louise Lasser. Classic 60s comedy with Sellers and Capucine fresh from their PINK PANTHER success, and film strikes the same vein, as womanizer O’Toole is afraid of marrying his true love Schneider and tells psychiatrist Sellers, who has the hots for Capucine. A bit too episodic but great fun, especially in mad-cap finale. Allen’s breakthrough script is full of his trademark humor. Oscar-nominated score by Burt Bacharach with the title song by Tom Jones.

What Women Want (2000, USA) C-126m. *** D: Nancy Meyers. Starring Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Alan Alda, Ashley Johnson, Mark Feuerstein, Lauren Holly, Bette Midler. Entertaining, spirited fantasy comedy about womanizer Gibson, whose new boss Hunt wants him to think like a woman for the new products they are advertising. After he has an accident at home, he really can, hearing exactly what all the women around him are thinking. First he considers it a curse, but then he takes advantage of the new situation. If you can accept this gimmick, this is a wonderful comedy with one of Gibson’s best performances (the dancing routine is sensational). Goes on  little too long, bringing all those plot threads to a close. Fine set decoration and choice of sets.

Wheels on Meals (1984, HGK/SPA) C-100m. Scope **½ D: Samo Hung. Starring Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, Yuen Biao, Benny Urquidez, Lola Forner, Richard Ng, Wu Ma. Second of four buddy movies directed by Samo Hung (aka Sammo Hung Kam-Bo) and starring himself, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao. Plot concerns private eye Samo’s investigation of beautiful pickpocket Forner in Barcelona, Spain. He is assisted by expatriates Chan and Yuen, who work as fast-food chefs. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Hong Kong action comedy with these stars. It’s slightly overlong, but the showdown hits home. Also known as MILLION DOLLAR HEIRESS, SPARTAN X and WEAPON X. Followed by MY LUCKY STARS and TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LUCKY STARS.

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970, GBR) C-96m. **½ D: Val Guest. Starring Victoria Vetri, Robin Hawdon, Patrick Allen, Drewe Henley, Imogen Hassall, Magda Konopka, Patrick Holt. Prehistoric fantasy about blonde cave girl Vetri, who flees from her tribe because they want to sacrifice her and stumbles upon a different tribe who admire her never-before-seen blonde hair. Juvenile and naive (apart from the sexy women), film’s only words in English are spoken in the introductory voice-over. The rest of the dialogues is unintelligible and plot suffers. The prehistoric monsters are well-animated, however. If this is a cult film, then because of Vetri’s physique. Story by J.G. Ballard, a renowned sci-fi writer.

When Night is Falling (1995, CDN) C-94m. *** D: Patricia Rozema. Starring Pascale Bussières, Rachael Crawford, Henry Czerny, Don McKellar, Tracy Wright. Sensual erotic drama about a teacher at a Calvinist college (Bussières) who meets a circus performer one day, falls in love and begins a lesbian relationship with her, despite being engaged with a colleague (Czerny). Her newly discovered desire also threatens to undermine her work as a theologist. A modern and highly aesthetic paraphrase of the Cupid and Psyche myth. One wonders if a male director would have fared this well. Fine score by Lesley Barber.

When the Wind Blows (1986, GBR) C-81m. *** D: Jimmy T. Murakami. Starring (the voices of) Sir John Mills, Peggy Ashcroft, Robin Houston. Remarkable animated anti-war treatise about two elderly people, the only characters in this story, who in their rural cottage somewhere in England are faced with the threat of a possible nuclear war. The man, old enough to have seen WW2, starts preparing for the bomb. Husband and wife seem to live in their own world and often appear foolish, but what follows is dead serious. Chilling, sad, with simple animation, but story will leave you breathless. From a novel by Raymond Briggs. Title song by David Bowie.

When Time Ran Out ... (1980, USA) C-110m. Scope ** D: James Goldstone. Starring Paul Newman, Jacqueline Bisset, William Holden, James Franciscus, Edward Albert, Ernest Borgnine, Burgess Meredith, Barbara Carrera. Clichéd disaster movie about volcanic eruption on Hawaii wastes a lot of stars but is just dramatic enough (especially in the finally) to please on a trashy level. Ran 121m. in U.S. theatres, and 141m. on video. Shorter European version is possibly an improvement.

When Worlds Collide (1951, USA) C-81m. *** D: Rudolph Maté. Starring Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hanson, Larry Keating, John Hoyt. Enjoyable, dramatic science-fiction film about astronomers discovering a star which is on collision course with the Earth. A rescue operation almost fails due to the unbelief of the population. Film is rather dated, but Oscar-winning special effects are still good to look at. Based on a novel by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie. Produced by George Pal.

Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991, GBR) C-113m. *** D: Charles Sturridge. Starring Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham-Carter, Helen Mirren, Judy Davis. Sublime adaptation of E.M. Forster's first novel about Philip Herrington (Graves), who travels to Italy to prevent his widowed sister-in-law Lilia (Mirren) from marrying a young Italian dentist. When he arrives there, he learns that they have already married. Disappointed he returns to his British upper-class family, who are highly disconcerted about the affair. When Lilia dies upon giving birth to a son, he and his sister Harriet (Davis), a frustrated, conservative snob, travel there to take the boy home to England where his education will be assured. However, he meets resistance from the boy's father, who loves his son and intends to keep him in Italy. Forster deals with class issues across Europe and the difficulty of unifying different cultures, as he would later explore in A PASSAGE TO INDIA. Well-acted, smoothly directed, with a fine sense for details and a very good score. Perhaps a little slow-going but fans of literary adaptations will be more than pleased.

Where Eagles Dare (1968, GBR) C-158m. Scope **½ D: Brian G. Hutton. Starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure, Patrick Wymark, Michael Hordern, Donald Houston, Anton Diffring, Ferdy  Mayne, Ingrid Pitt. World War Two adventure, written by Alistair MacLean from his story. Burton leads commando of several British and American officers into German Nazi fortress, supposedly attempting to rescue a British spy. Good stunt work, effective score by Ron Goodwin, but film is long and not always on-target. The bad guys die much too easily. Still, some found this riveting. Filmed in Austria. Director Hutton followed this with the similar KELLY’S HEROES (1970).

Where’s Poppa? (1970, USA) C-82m. **½ D: Carl Reiner. Starring George Segal, Ruth Gordon, Trish Van Devere, Ron Leibman, Rae Allen, Vincent Gardenia, Joe Keyes, Tom Atkins, Rob Reiner, Paul Sorvino. Wacky satirical comedy with (a mild) cult status. Segal lives under the thrall of his senile mother who makes his life hell and keeps referring to long-dead ‘Poppa’. He falls in love with nurse Van Devere, but there are complications ahead. Segal’s performance is great, but film has too few laughs and is ultimately too slight. Written by Robert Klane, based on his novel.

Where the Heart Is (1990, USA) C-107m. **½ D: John Boorman. Starring Dabney Coleman, Uma Thurman, Joanna Cassidy, Crispin Glover, Suzy Amis, Christopher Plummer, David Hewlitt, Robbie Coltrane. Typically eccentric Boorman comedy about real-estate mogul Coleman, who one day kicks his three children out of the house, thereby forcing them to live in one of the derelict buildings he usually has destroyed. Off-beat story works as a mild satire on social classes. Not terribly engaging but worthwhile. Those body paintings (by Timna Woolard) are brilliant, however. Kind of a sequel, or update, to Boorman’s social parable LEO THE LAST (1970).

Where the Truth Lies (2005, CDN/USA) C-106m. Scope *** D: Atom Egoyan. Starring Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, David Hayman, Rachel Blanchard, Maury Chaykin, Sonja Bennett, Kristin Adams, Don McKellar. Engrossing mystery drama about journalist Lohman, who in 1972 wants to write a biography of two entertainer greats of the 1950s, Bacon and Firth, in order to find out the truth behind mysterious discovery of a dead girl in their apartment. Film intriguingly shifts between the late 1950s and the early 1970s (with great period flavor) and is very well-acted, especially by Bacon. Glossy cinematography by Paul Sarossy, good score by Mychael Danna. Egoyan adapted a novel by Rupert Holmes.

Where the Wild Things Are (2009, USA) C-101m. SCOPE ***½ D: Spike Jonze. Starring Max Records, Pepita Emmerichs, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, voices of James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose. Another off-beat, original drama from director Jonze (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION), based on an acclaimed book by Maurice Sendak. A 10-year-old boy cannot come to terms with the anger rising in him against his dysfunctional(?) family and runs away to a fantasy world, which is populated by big, furry monsters, who accept him as their king. There’s tension among the group, and their interactions mirror those in the boy’s real life. Touching fantasy drama is not really for kids, who will not be able to read between the lines. For adults, it’s a delight. Slightly downbeat, but richly textured, heartfelt and with a wonderful, melancholy score by Carter Burwell. Co-produced by Tom Hanks and Maurice Sendak.

Whispers (1989, USA) C-100m. **½ D: Gordon Jackson. Starring Victoria Tennant, Jean LeClerc, Chris Sarandon, Peter MacNeill, Linda Sorenson, Eric Christmas. Writer Tennant finds herself being stalked by acquaintance LeClerc … even after killing him during one of his attacks! Is he a zombie or a vampire? Low-key, poorly written and directed, but story underneath (by Dean R. Koontz) is chilling and interesting. Too bad they made it so unconvincing. Worth a look for horror fans.

White Noise (2005, USA/GBR/CDN) C-101m. Scope ** D: Geoffrey Sax. Starring Michael Keaton, Chandra West, Deborah Kara Unger, Ian McNeice, Sarah Strange, Nicholas Elia. Supernatural thriller about Keaton, whose pregnant wife does in a car accident, and who is contacted by a stranger one day claiming that his wife is trying to contact him. Keaton then becomes obsessed with E.V.P., the Electronic Voice Phenomenon, and tries to decipher his wife’s messages. Thriller is slickly made, with good photography by Chris Seager, but remains unlikely, improbable all the way, despite some scares.

White of the Eye (1987, GBR) C-111m. *** D: Donald Cammell. Starring David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Art Evans, Alan Rosenberg, China Cammell (Kong). Disturbing psycho drama about sound expert Keith, who’s the prime suspect in the hunt for a serial killer. His frequent headaches and black-outs frighten his wife Moriarty, and there’s a daughter to protect, too. Largely unconventional, strikingly directed character study from the director of PERFORMANCE (1970) and the brilliant DEMON SEED (1977). Difficult to watch, but strong performances, unusual technique will keep you posted. If it wasn’t for the oppressiveness of the picture, this would be a stand-out film of the mid-80s. Cammell wrote the screenplay with his wife China.

White Squall (1996, USA) C-128m. Scope *** D: Ridley Scott. Starring Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall, John Savage, Scott Wolf, Jeremy Sisto, Ryan Phillippe, David Lascher, David Selby, Balthazar Ghetty, Zeljko Ivanek. Good coming-of-age drama set in 1960, about a group of teenage misfits who spend their last year in college aboard a ship. Captain-teacher Bridges tries to teach them to take responsibility in every situation, in order to prepare them for their later life. Interesting, well-acted and even exciting in the climactic storm sequence. Based on a real-life incident.

Who? (1973, GBR) C-93m. **½ D: Jack Gold. Starring Elliott Gould, Trevor Howard, Joseph Bova, Edward Grover, Ivan Desny. A car crash near the iron curtain leaves an important American scientist disfigured. Several months later, the Russians return the man to the FBI – but he is irrecognizable, most of his body (including face) being steel-plated. Gould plays the sceptical FBI agent, who tries to figure out who “the man with the steel mask” (alternative title) really is. Interesting science-fiction drama has some good ideas, but is too talky, never exciting. Adapted from a novel by Algis Budrys. Produced by Barry Levinson. Also known as ROBO MAN.

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971, GBR/USA) C-90m. **½ D: Curtis Harrington. Starring Shelley Winters, Mark Lester, Chloe Franks, Ralph Richardson, Lionel Jeffries, Hugh Griffith. Intriguing psycho thriller about landlady Winters, who’s holding séances in order to contact her late daughter. At Christmas time she also invites some children from the nearby orphanage. A boy and his sister get to know the lady better that they would have liked. Nice direction and good photography (by Desmond Dickinson) are undermined by a weak conclusion. Script by Robert Blees and Jimmy Sangster, who must have had Grimm’s Hänsel und Gretel in mind. U.S. title: WHO SLEW AUNTIE ROO? The same year Harrington made WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?, which also starred Winters.

Whole Nine Yards, The (2000, USA) C-99m. **½ D: Jonathan Lynn. Starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Pollak. Outrageous black comedy about suicidal dentist Perry, who realizes that his new neighbor Willis is actually a professional hitman that is much sought after by his former employees. And this is just the beginning of a meandering, none-too-logical story that offers a hilarious performance by Perry but is so wildly unbelievable that the stretches between the jokes are hard to take. Peet and Henstridge look gorgeous. Followed by THE WHOLE TEN YARDS (2004).

Whole Ten Yards, The (2004, USA) C-98m. **½ D: Howard Deutch. Starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollak, Natasha Henstridge, Frank Collison, Johnny Messner, Frank Pesce. Funny continuation of THE WHOLE NINE YARDS (2000) has dentist Perry seeking out retired hitman Willis in Mexico, because a Hungarian mafia boss (Pollak, in a riotous performance) has been released from prison. As good as it gets with a script like that, the stars are fun to watch.

Wicker Man, The (1973, GBR) C-88m. *** D: Robin Hardy. Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp. Strange, highly unusual thriller drama about Scottish police sergeant (Woodward) who comes to a small rural community to investigate the disappearance of a child and soon finds himself involved in bizarre pagan rituals of a religious sect led by Lee. Oddly atmospheric and completely unconventional, recommended to buffs. Original 103m. version is said to be even better. Screenplay by Anthony Shaffer.

Wicker Man, The (2006, USA/GER) C-102m. Scope **½ D: Neil LaBute. Starring Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Frances Conroy, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski, Diane Delano, Aaron Eckhart, James Franco. Not-bad remake of the British cult classic about policeman Cage, who is asked by former lover Beahan to investigate disappearance of her child in a remote island community. His welcome there is not a warm one. Can’t hold a candle to the original, but as a mystery this is still quite engrossing, with a good performance by Cage and a fine score by Angelo Badalamenti.

Wickie und die Starken Männer (2009, GER) C-85m. SCOPE *** D: Michael Bully Herbig. Starring Jonas Hämmerle, Waldemar Kobus, Nic Romm, Christian Koch, Olaf Krätke, Mike Maas, Günther Kaufmann, Herbert Feuerstein, Michael Herbig, Christoph Maria Herbst, Jürgen Vogel. Surprisingly good remake of the children’s TV series from the 1970s that was inspired by Runer Jonsson’s book. A smart Viking boy helps his father’s pillaging gang to find the kidnapped children of their village. It turns out one of them might lead evil Sven Kaufmann to a legendary treasure. Engaging kids movie is fast-paced, well-edited, and not as low-brow as Herbig’s earlier spoofs. Recommended family fare, with an appealing, wide-eyed lead performance by Hämmerle.

Wild, The (2006, USA) C-82m. ** D: Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams. Starring (the voices of) Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner, Richard Kind, Jason Connery. Sorry excuse for a Disney (!) movie: Central Park zoo lion’s son is accidentally transported off in a truck, and it’s dad to the rescue with some inane animal friends. They eventually end up in … (you guessed it). Did anyone say FINDING NEMO? Or MADAGASCAR? Some good, life-like animation cannot compensate for lack of originality, and it’s needlessly violent, too. The product placement is as shameless as anything else in this movie. Kids might enjoy it anyhow.

Wild at Heart (1990, USA) C-124m. Scope ***½ D: David Lynch. Starring Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, J.E. Freeman, Crispin Glover, Diane Ladd, Calvin Lockhart, Isabella Rossellini, Harry Dean Stanton, Grace Zabriskie, Sherilyn Fenn, John Lurie, Jack Nance, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Sheryl Lee. Powerful, red-hot continuation of Lynch’s American Nightmare of BLUE VELVET (1986). Aggressive Cage clubs someone to death with his bare hands and after his release from prison takes it on the lam with his lover Dern. Her furious mother Ladd sends out a handful of hitmen, all assigned to kill. Road movie thriller kicks ass like none before, with typically odd, surreal touches by Lynch, who puts his own version of THE WIZARD OF OZ on the screen here. Plot is really indefensible, but this violent, loud, intense film is the prototypical cult movie and also a major influence on the work of writer-director Quentin Tarantino. Based on the novel by Barry Gifford, who also wrote a novel about Rossellini’s character, which was filmed in 1997 as PERDITA DURANGO. Good soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti. Winner of the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Wilden Kerle, Die (2003, GER) C-94m. *** D: Joachim Masannek. Starring Jimi Blue Ochsenknecht, Raban Bieling, Sarah Kim Gries, Cinstantin Gastmann, Wilson Gonzalez Ochsenknecht, Marlon Wessel, Jonathan Beck, Rufus Beck, Cornelia Froboess, Uwe Ochsenknecht. Some football-crazy kids find their summer holidays threatened by a rival gang, who have conquered the local football ground. Now they have ten days to prepare for a decisive soccer-battle. Engaging comedy based on a popular series of children’s books, well-played by the young cast. Often reminiscent of THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976), but fun. Followed by several sequels. English title: THE WILD SOCCER BUNCH.

Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962, USA) C-61m. *½ D: Russ Meyer. Starring Sammy Gilbert, Frank(lin) Bolger, Julie Williams, Donna Scott, Teri Taylor, Jack Moran, Russ Meyer. Russ Meyer’s third feature is an inept sex comedy about an old cowboy who tells stories of decadent times in the West and how a gunslinger changed everything. Nudity can be considered daring for that time, but slapstick scenes are unfunny and repetitive. Meyer tries to evoke the spirit of silent films, but the result is laughable. The director also photographed, edited and produced this non-movie. Of interest to his fans only. 

Wild Rebels (1967, USA) C-90m. M D: William Grefé. Starring Steve Alaimo, Willie Pastrano, John Vella, Bobby Byers. Worthless action “drama” about race car driver Alaimo, who is so frustrated after an accident that he quits his job and starts singing songs in bars, later becomes the driver of a gang of criminal motorcyclists. Don’t be fooled, this is as low-budget, uninteresting, stale as it gets.

Wild Rovers (1971, USA) C-131m. Scope *** D: Blake Edwards. Starring William Holden, Ryan O’Neal, Karl Malden, Lynn Carlin, Tom Skerritt, Joe Don Baker, Rachel Roberts, Moses Gunn, Victor French. Holden and O’Neal play two cowboys working for ranch owner Malden, who one day decide to rob the local bank. On their flight they are pursued by the authorities - and Malden’s sons. Plot lacks momentum, but everything else about his western is fine; direction and score (by Jerry Goldsmith) are good, the photography by Philip Lathrop (POINT BLANK) is superb. Beware 109m. version.

Wild Things (1998, USA) C-108m. Scope *** D: John McNaughton. Starring Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Theresa Russell, Denise Richards, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Robert Wagner, Bill Murray. Dillon plays a good-looking high-school teacher who one day is accused of rape by one of his students (Richards) in South Florida. The situation seems hopeless when another girl (Campbell) makes similar accusations. The trial, however, ends with a surprise. And that's not the end of this serpentine story. Who will get the last laugh on whom? Lots of twists, and a dark sense of humor make this stylish thriller fun to watch. It's not very credible, but entertaining and suspenseful nevertheless.

Wild Wild West (1999, USA) C-107m. **½ D: Barry Sonennfeld. Starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Salma Hayek, M. Emmet Walsh, Ted Levine, Bai Ling. Pretty crazy western action comedy, based on a television series from the late 1960s. Smith and Kline, two of the cleverest gunslingers in the west team up to bring down mad inventor Branagh, who wants to President to resign so that he can take his place. Some overblown visual effects, an annoyingly over-the-top performance by Branagh, but also a few laughs. This is well-paced and quite entertaining. Photographed by Michael Ballhaus, scored by Elmer Bernstein.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971, USA) C-100m. *** D: Mel Stuart. Starring Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole. Wilder stars as mysterious chocolate maker Willy Wonka, who invites five children to visit his wondrous factory, where they are all taught a lesson. Good family entertainment, with a great Wilder performance. Adapted by Roald Dahl, from his own book (some re-writing was done by David Seltzer). Filmed in Germany. Remade as CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (2005) by Tim Burton.

Wind in the Willows, The (1995, GBR) C-73m. **½ D: Dave Unwin. Starring Vanessa Redgrave and (the voices of) Alan Bennett, Michael Palin, Michael Gambon, Rik Mayall. Approximately tenth adaptation of the classic children’s book by Kenneth Grahame about the (mis)adventures of Mole (Bennett) and his friends Rat, Toad, and Badger on a beautiful spring day. Frame story features (a real) Vanessa Redgrave, who tells the story to some children on a boat. Cute animation, close to source material, but dramatically pat. Made for television. Followed by THE WILLOWS IN WINTER.

Winners and Sinners (1984, HGK) C-106m. **½ D: Samo Hung. Starring Samo Hung, Jackie Chan, Richard Ng, Charlie Ching, Ching Shung-Lin, Yuen Biao. First of several action comedies directed by Hung and starring Jackie Chan: Five men get to know each other in prison and become the best of friends. Upon release they swear to lead an honest life, but soon they get involved with a syndicate which prints false money. Jackie plays a policeman who helps them out. Some genuinely funny moments, but not enough. Best one: The invisibility scene involving Richard Ng. Films made in the same vein: WHEELS ON MEALS, MY LUCKY STARS, and TWINKLE, TWINKLE LUCKY STARS.

Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten (1968, GER/ITA/YUG) C-89m. Scope **½ D: Harald Reinl. Starring Pierre Brice, Lex Barker, Karin Dor, Rik Battaglia, Ralf Wolter, Eddi Arent. The final of more than a dozen Karl May adaptations produced in Germany during the 1960s. Winnetou (Brice) and Old Shatterhand (Barker) team up one last time to find and protect gold treasure hidden somewhere in the ‘valley of death’. Standard plot enhanced by beautiful Yugoslavian scenery. Sufficient action scenes for fans. Also known as WINNETOU AND SHATTERHAND IN THE VALLEY OF DEATH.

Wired to Kill (1986, USA) C-96m. **½ D: Franky (=Francis) Schaeffer. Starring Emily Longstreth, Devin Hoelscher, Merritt Butrick, Frank Collison, Tom ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr. The world of the future looks familiar. Violent street gangs rule the neighborhood of hi-tech whizz kid Hoelscher, who exacts revenge on those that killed his grandmother and sent his mother to hospital. He uses a self-made robot to punish the villains. Surprisingly stylish visuals, ambitious direction keep this afloat, although plot is neither exciting nor inventive. Longstreth is a cute heroine. Also known as BOOBY TRAP.

Wisdom of Crocodiles, The (1998, USA) C-98m. *** D: Chei Po-Chih Leong. Starring Jude Law, Elina Löwensohn, Timothy Spall, Jack Davenport, Colin Salmon. Unusual, interesting psycho drama about psychotic twen Law, who despite a successful job life, indulges in some bizarre rites, among them sucking blood from women he picks up. Off-beat examination of a life off-balance, creatively directed.

Wishmaster (1997, USA) C-90m. **½ D: Robert Kurtzman. Starring Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Chris Lemmon, Wendy Benson, Tony Crane, Jenny O’Hara, Kane Hodder, Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Ted Raimi, Danny Hicks, Buck Flowers, Reggie Banister, narrated by Angus Scrimm. Full-blooded horror film about the title creature, a demon which grants wishes when released from a gem stone. If he gets someone to make three wishes, he can open the gate to another dimension where other demons lie waiting. Plot isn’t exactly brilliant, as you might have guessed, but well-done, effective scenes of serious horror put this movie above average of its type. Lead actress Lauren is the only one in the cast who doesn’t give a good performance, and film suffers a great deal. Pierre David was one of the producers. Wes Craven executive produced the picture (but don’t expect any comic relief). Followed by a sequel.

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999, USA) C-98m. *½ D: Jack Sholder. Starring Andrew Divoff, Paul Johnasson, Holly Fields, Bokeem Woodbine, Vyto Ruginis, Maria Gennaro, Scott Klace. Sequel to WISHMASTER is standard horror fare, as the demon is resurrected and goes after the souls of everyone in sight, in order to be free again (see above). Fields plays a young woman who is plagued by strange nightmares – until the visions enter her real life. One potent gore scene, and that’s it. A disappointment from director Sholder (THE HIDDEN), who also wrote the script. Released directly to video.

Witchery (1988, ITA/USA) C-96m. M D: Martin Newlin (=Fabrizio Laurenti). Starring David Hasselhoff, Linda Blair, Catherine Hickland, Annie Ross, Hildegard Knef, Leslie Cumming. Several people, including Hasselhoff (pre-Baywatch) and Blair, visit a mysterious mansion on a deserted island that turns out to be haunted by witch Knef. Completely unconvincing horror trash with some of the most demented casting ever. Pretty gory, but repellently so. Joe D’Amato produced this follow-up to Umberto Lenzi’s LA CASA 3 – GHOSTHOUSE (1988), which was an Italian continuation of the HOUSE movies. Followed by LA CASA 5 (1990). Also known as GHOSTHOUSE 2, and WITCHCRAFT.

Witchfinder General (1968, GBR/USA) C-86m. **½ D: Michael Reeves. Starring Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Hilary Dwyer, Rupert Davies, Robert Russell, Patrick Wymark, Wilfred Brambell. Thriller set in 17th century England, a country torn by Civil War and cruel witch hunts which sought to kill people at random in order to make quick money. Price is serene (more than usual) as the title figure, a merciless inquisitor who roams the countryside accusing women and men of witchcraft. However, in Ogilvy, a young soldier serving Cromwell, he meets fierce opposition. Most of the violence is only implied in this thriller, but some scenes are gruesome enough to make you wince. Low production values add a strange feel to the film. Ultimately, it leaves the viewer wanting, because the script is superficial and basically ‘pulp’ (mostly in its characterizations) - without being terribly exciting or entertaining. The direction isn’t seamless either. Paul Ferris’ sensitive score, however, is ideally suited to the outdoor locations. A rare example of a thriller which presents a defeatist view of a historical era. Not for every taste, to be sure. British version runs two minutes longer. Based on a novel by Ronald Bassett. U.S. title: THE CONQUEROR WORM.

Without Warning (1980, USA) C-94m. *½ D: Greydon Clark. Starring Tarah Nutter, Christopher S. Nelson, Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Sue Ane Langdon, Neville Brand, Cameron Mitchell, David Caruso, Ralph Meeker. Good cast (including Caruso in his starring debut) wasted in this ludicrous sci-fi horror film about an alien creature dwelling in the woods somewhere, which sends out lethal disks. A group of teenagers and veterans Landau and Palance try to stop it. Boring. Aka THE WARNING, ALIEN WARNING, IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING.

Witness (1985, USA) C-112m. *** D: Peter Weir. Starring Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Josef Sommer, Lukas Haas, Alexander Godunov, Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen. Unusual, almost meditative crime drama about cop Ford, who is trying to solve a homicide, of which only a little Amish boy (Haas) has seen the killer. When he finds out that someone in the police force may be behind it, he hides out at the house of the boy’s mother (McGillis). Good cast, good direction by Weir, who went on to make THE MOSQUITO COAST.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957, USA) 114m. **** D: Billy Wilder. Starring Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, John Williams, Henry Daniell, Una O’Connor, Ian Wolfe. Brilliant adaptation of an Agatha Christie play, featuring Laughton and especially Dietrich in unforgettable roles. After suffering a heart-attack, lawyer Laughton is advised to handle harmless cases only, but seemingly innocent Power’s plight arouses his interest and intellect. He is accused of having murdered a lonely widow, and the only witness for the defense, Power’s wife Dietrich, proves to be a notorious liar. Dietrich’s dramatic entry and the finale are especially dazzling. Funny, suspenseful, absolutely stunning, one of the greatest films of the 1950s.

Wolf (1994, USA) C-122m. ** D: Mike Nichols. Starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, Kate Nelligan, Christopher Plummer. Poor modernization of the werewolf legend with Nicholson (who else?) as the unsuspecting man who is bitten by a wolf and starts to undergo some frightening changes. No surprises in this contrived ‘horror’ film, designed for utterly conservative people. Nichols has made a well-crafted film, if only he had remembered to add a few thrills! This is about as creative as its title. Score by Ennio Morricone.

Wolfen (1981, USA) C-114m. Scope ***½ D: Michael Wadleigh. Starring Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines, Tom Noonan, Dick O’Neill, Michael Wadleigh. Absolutely terrific horror film, an artistic and intellectual triumph for the director of WOODSTOCK: Reinstated police captain Finney, investigating a multiple murder in the slums of New York City, encounters mysterious creatures called the ‘Wolfen’. Script cleverly toys with the explanation of their existence, and the result is an extremely suspenseful film. Score (by James Horner), sound and visual effects are stunning, as is Wadleigh’s stylish direction. Violent and bloody, film is not for the faint at heart. Thoughtful script by Wadleigh and David Eyre, based on the novel by Whitley Streiber. Not your conventional werewolf movie, and yet one of the best of its kind. A must-see for anyone interested in intelligent horror films.

Wolf Lake (1978, USA) C-84m. **½ D: Burt Kennedy. Starring Rod Steiger, David Huffman, Robin Mattson, Jerry Hardin, Richard Herd, Paul Mantee. Four vietnam vets led by Steiger travel to a cabin in the Canadian wilderness, where they meet deserter Huffman and his girlfriend. Steiger, who lost his son in the war, soon unleashes his anger at the couple. Thriller is a bit too simplistic and formulaic, but Steiger is intimidatingly good and writer-director Kennedy gives the movie some interesting touches. Re-released in 1980 as THE HONOR GUARD with a different ending. Worth a look, though doesn’t compare to either DELIVERANCE or STRAW DOGS.

Woman in White, The (1948, USA) 109m. *** D: Peter Godfrey. Starring Alexis Smith, Eleanor Parker, Sydney Greenstreet, Gig Young, Agnes Moorehead. Loosely based on Wilkie Collins’ classic mystery novel (first published in 1860), this gothic melodrama is about mysterious going-ons in Victorian household, where marvelous Machiavellian villain Greenstreet pulls the strings. Interesting throughout. Filmed several times before, most notably as CRIMES AT THE DARK HOUSE (1940).

Woman Wanted (1999, USA) C-110m. *½ D: Kiefer Sutherland. Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Moriarty, Holly Hunter. Sutherland's attempt at being a serious filmmaker is ridiculous, uninteresting drama about house maid Hunter, who comes to work and live at Moriarty and Sutherland's house and brings their emotions in turmoil. Father and son are at odds with each other and suffer both from terrible psychoses brought about by Sutherland's late mother. Joanna McClelland Glass adapted her own novel and renders the going-ons meaningless for those who have not read her book. Understandably premiered on TV.

Women Unchained (1974, USA) C-82m. *½ D: Kent Osborne. Starring Carolyn Judd, Teri Guzman, Darlene Mattingly, Angel Colbert. Five women escape from prison and spend most of the movie on the run. Sloppy action film, poorly put together, and talky worst of all. Not at all interesting, not even for WIP fans. Also known as FIVE ANGRY WOMEN, ESCAPE FROM CELL BLOCK 3.

Wonder Boys (2000, USA/GBR/JAP/GER) C-112m. Scope ** D: Curtis Hanson. Starring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes, Rip Torn, Richard Knox, Richard Thomas. Strange comedy about a marihuana-smoking college professor, who meets all kinds of odd characters and gets into the most ridiculous situations after one of his students (Maguire) kills his lover’s dog and steals her husband’s(!) most prized possession, a vest worn by Marilyn Monroe on her wedding day. Adaptation of Michael Chambon’s novel seems like a misfire (it’s very strange), generating few laughs, but movie has its defenders. Oscar-winner for Best Song (Bob Dylan).

Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, The (1998, USA) C-77m. **½ D: Stuart Gordon. Starring Joe Mantegna, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, Clifton Collins Jr., Gregory Sierra, Liz Torres, Sid Caesar. Five Latinos put their money together to buy marvelous white suit. On the first evening, everyone gets the chance to wear it for one hour – and what an hour it will be! Quite amusing little comedy takes a while to get going but has funny performances. A big surprise from horror director Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR), who also produced. Based on the short story by Ray Bradbury.

Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, The (1962, USA) C-135m. Scope *** D: Henry Levin, George Pal. Starring Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Böhm, Claire Bloom, Walter Slezak, Barbara Eden, Oskar Homolka, Arnold Stang, Walter Rilla, Yvette Mimieux, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Backus, Terry-Thomas, Buddy Hackett. Fictionalized bio-pic of famed German writers the Grimm brothers. Film charts their attempts to write the biography of a Duke when they would rather tell fairy tales. In three separate stories their fantasy worlds come to life. Uneven epic runs hot and cold, with some interesting special effects, but generally remains colorful and entertaining enough to be worthwhile. The first film shot in 3-camera Cinerama, which produced an aspect ratio of 2.59:1, with two faint vertical lines separating the 3 screens. Some prints are minus the prologue, intermission and exit music, others are reported to run even longer. Oscar winner for Best Costume Design. Filmed in Germany.

Wonder Seven (1994, HGK) C-87m. **½ D: Ching Siu-Tung. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Li Ning, Andy Hui, Cheng Kent. Nice actioner about seven friends who join forces to battle crime syndicate. So much for plot cleverness. This action film, obviously inspired by THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960), is more entertaining than comparable flicks. Ching’s expert direction and Yeoh’s charismatic performance make the film seem better than it actually is. Also known as PHANTOM SEVEN. Original title: 7 JIN GONG.

Wonderwall: The Movie (1969, GBR) C-92m. *½ D: Joe Massot. Starring Jack MacGowran, Jane Birkin, Irene Handl, Richard Wattis, Iain Quarrier. Time capsule from the late 60s about chemistry professor MacGowran, who discovers a hole in his wall and can’t get his eyes off his neighbor, fashion model Birkin. Not exactly a mind-expanding experience, despite music by George Harrison, photography by Harry Waxman (THE WICKER MAN) and story by Gérard Brach. Watch only if on an LSD-trip.

Workaholic (1996, GER/AUT) C-94m. ** D: Sharon von Wietersheim. Starring Tobias Moretti, Christiane Paul, Ralf Bauer, Juraj Kukura. Harmless comedy about an overworked businessman (Moretti), whose phone is always ringing, much to the chagrin of his lover (Paul). She dumps him and fools around with Bauer, only to make him jealous. Predictable to the very end, but quite entertaining and well-acted by Paul.

World According to Garp, The (1982, USA) C-136m. **** D: George Roy Hill. Starring Robin Williams, Mary Beth Hurt, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Amanda Plummer. Superb comedy drama (adapted from John Irving’s acclaimed novel) about the life of Garp, a kid, and later man, whose life is influenced a great deal by his dominant, feminist mother. Funny and sad at the same time, film unfolds beautifully as we accompany Garp and his family through life. Highly philosophical, true-to-life drama is a must, although it tries to incorporate too much detail of the novel and sometimes seems superficial. Very fine acting by the whole cast makes this a memorable movie.

World Gone Wild (1988, USA) C-95m. M D: Lee H. Katzin. Starring Bruce Dern, Michael Paré, Catherine Mary Stewart, Adam Ant, Rick Podell, Anthony James. Stupic sci-fi actioner with Dern leading a group of Desperados to defend desert town in post-apokalyptic America. Poorly directed, poorly acted (Dern seems very relaxed), absolutely undramatic script. May be called a remake of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, if it wasn't so bad. MAD MAX would have done the job single-handedly.

World Is Not Enough, The (1999, GBR/USA) C-128m. Scope ** D: Michael Apted. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, John Cleese, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Samantha Bond. Her Majesty’s secret agent is at it again, this time investigating the kidnapping of an oil magnate’s daughter (Marceau) by a terrorist (Carlyle) who is insensible to pain. Bond soon finds himself trying to avoid the theft of an atom bomb by the villain. The opening speed boat sequence is so over-the-top that the film’s return to realism later deprives it of any credibility. A certain lack of flair and exotic locales (unless you count the Caspic Sea) will make you wonder if you are watching a James Bond film. This entry is among the weakest of the series. The script is not enough.

World’s Fastest Indian, The (1999, USA/NZL/JAP/SUI) C-127m. Scope **½ D: Roger Donaldson. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Iain Rea, Tessa Mitchell, Aaron Murphy, Tim Shadbolt, Annie Whittle. Biographical drama about one Burt Munro from New Zealand, who in the 1960s travelled to the salt flats in Utah to try out his motorbike, a super-fast Indian and break a world-record. The aged, ailing man is trying to make his dream come true. Crowd-pleaser, with the perfect man in the lead, although the plot is terribly episodic.

Wuthering Heights (1999, GBR) C-115m. ** D: N.N. Starring N.N. Made-for-TV remake of the classic 1847 novel by Emily Bronte. Unlike acclaimed 1939 version directed by William Wyler, film covers the book from beginning to end but unfortunately omits the frame narrative. The story around orphan Heathcliff and his love Catherine Earnshaw is indifferently presented. The director obviously failed to grasp the essence of the book, because passionate scenes are rare. Acting is hardly auspicious. Will probably insult all those who have read the novel. A hit in Great Britain nevertheless.