I’m an Animal Lover Who Needed Help

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I just love all the geese that fly around the woods in the neighborhood where my home is. I love their colors. I love the way they sound, too. I have never had the luck to live near them before. But I learned that they can also become a pest problem, as well. My neighbors and I discussed that I might need to get Canada geese control in NJ after the geese began attacking me at random times.Animal Lover

I do not want to hurt animals. And I never will. It is scary, though, to walk outside your home on a Saturday morning in your robe and slippers, and the geese come at you out of nowhere. I have to go outside each morning to get my newspaper delivery, and out of the 5 days I went out to get it last week, the birds came after me four times.

I decided to try to be sneaky and look out the window before I went outside. I would wait until I thought they were busy, and then I would rush outside. Of course, I made sure to be very quite so that I would not alert them. That worked two times. The other two times, they saw me and came after me immediately. Both times, I raced back inside again. This was not good for them or me.

The majority of these birds leave people alone. But in random situations, they become very territorial. I understand that fully. To them, I was on their property, not the other way around. They wanted me gone and did what they could to try to protect their territory. I called a place that could do something about it. They promised that they are very gentle and only relocated the birds. They did that for me and I can now go outside in peace.

Deluded brats: The American dream

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Every few years American cinema turns its eye on its youth. Kids that have lost their way (or maybe never found it in the first place) with too much money and time on their hands they find themselves, quite quickly, in a world of idle trouble and wanton criminality.

Here are a few for your consideration, some based on fact and some fiction.

Bully (2001)
Based on the 1993 murder of Bobby Kent in south Florida, this Larry Clark film starred Brad Renfro and Nick Stahl and featured a bunch of kids hanging out and getting wasted; who then cook up a plot to murder their ‘friend’ with pretty much no thought for the consequences. An intense performance from Renfro in one of the last before his tragically early death.

Alpha Dog (2007)
Like Bully, this film is based on a true story, this one focusing on the killing of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz in 2000. Directed by Nick Cassavetes it featured an impressive cast of up-and-comers and established names (Bruce Willis, Ben Foster, Justin Timberlake, Emile Hirsch, Anton Yelchin) and was a compelling albeit harrowing watch from start to finish.

Spring Breakers (2012)
Fiction this time, but not wholly implausible. Directed by Harmony Korine and starring Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine as four girls on spring break – pretty much permanently in bikinis – who descend into a world of drink, drugs, guns and crime, mostly thanks to James Franco’s wannabe gangster called Alien.

The Bling Ring (2013)
Another true tale, this time focusing on a group of teenagers who, looking to emulate celebrities, robbed their homes in 2008 stealing around $3 million in cash and belongings. Directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson this didn’t reach the heights of some of her previous work, but nevertheless was a fascinating and darkly compelling tale.

‘American’… what?!

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I blame American Sniper. (Damn you Bradley Cooper.) Maybe this film was the final straw. To explain: over the last few years (or even the last few decades) there’s been a regular slew of films that start with the word ‘American’. Is it a sure fire way to gets bums (at least, American ones) on seats? Or does it simply sound cooler to have that word at the start of a film’s title? I mean, c’mon… French Sniper, British Sniper, German Sniper – they just don’t inspire, do they?

Maybe it’s just simpler.

American Sniper. You know what you’re going to get. Job done. Whatever the reason, here are my top 5 (in order) that proudly wear that word loud and proud for all to see.

1. American Beauty (1999)
The debut of Sam Mendes as a director and the introduction (largely) of Kevin Spacey to the moviegoing public. Getting close to two decades old, the film still stands up perfectly today and is immensely watchable. No scene is wasted, every line loaded with meaning. A modern classic which reminds us of all the beauty in the world.

2. American Psycho (2000)
Upon hearing the part of Patrick Bateman had gone to Ewan Mcgregor, Christian Bale allegedly called him and argued (convincingly) that he’d be better for the part. And he really was. Played as a dark comedy, the world was finally introduced to the twisted, mad intensity of the man that would be responsible (along with Nolan) for reinventing Batman.

3. American History X (1998)
Yet another introduction (in a way) to a manly, pumped up and thoroughly volatile Ed Norton. As a modern-day Lieutenant in a right wing neo-Nazi gang, the arc Norton’s character goes through is hugely affecting. A riveting and towering performance that commands your attention in a film which deals with some big and complex issues.

4. American Pie (1999)
I remember explaining this film to my parents. ‘Well, there’s a guy that has sex with an apple pie, it’s full of crude humour yet…. you have to watch it.’ They were skeptical, but watched anyway. My poor description failed to explain that it was a warm, incredibly well-observed, coming-of-age tale about four very likeable lads. Sadly, the magic was never captured again with the franchise that followed.

5. American Hustle (2013)
Bit of a guilty pleasure this one, featuring both Bale and Cooper (again). It will be interesting to see if this movie stands up over time. Ultimately it’s a fairly shallow tale, but a fabulously looking one with an impressive cast. Worth your time for Bale’s combover and beer belly and all the huge hair and power dresses. As well as Bale, both Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were also on fine form.

Oscars 2015: As the dust settles

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So that’s the Oscars done for another year. Were they everything you expected? Did the actors and films you’d hope get recognition actually get it? And, more importantly, does it all even matter?

In answer to the last question, probably not, but industry acclaim is often (but not always) indicative of a job well done. And who wouldn’t want a big shiny award for their efforts?

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This year it seems Grand Budapest Hotel cleaned up (production design, best score, costume design, makeup and hair). As did Birdman (picture, director, original screenplay, cinematography) and Whiplash (supporting actor, film editing, sound mixing).

Eddie Redmayne took Best Actor for The Theory of Everything and Julianne Moore Best Actress for Still Alice.

So, were these all worthy winners? Were any overlooked or snubbed?

Yes, yes and yes.

There’s always going to be unhappy people come awards season, but I think Birdman perhaps did a little too well – although it does seem typical Oscar material. Last year my film of the year was Nightcrawler, which got barely a look-in, although it got a nomination for Original Screenplay and it would have been nice to see it beat Birdman, but this was a tough category and all entries there were outstanding ones.

Talking of tough categories, Best Actress was apparently a shoo-in for Julianne Moore for Still Alice. I’ve not seen the film yet but it sounds very ‘Oscar worthy’ in terms of the material and her performance. Literally all of the other nominees could have won in my book, they all were fantastic (Rosumund Pike – Gone Girl, Reese Witherspoon – Wild, Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything, Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night).

I’m pleased Redmayne took Best Actor. His performance was truly astonishing and a thoroughly affecting one as Stephen Hawking, edging out Keaton’s washed up actor trying to reinvent his career in Birdman. And out of a category with five nominated, two were Brits (the other being Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game) which was pleasing to see.

Given the experimental nature of Boyhood or the electric performances in Whiplash it would have been nice to see either take Best Picture, but losing out to Birdman is something I can grudgingly accept with a ‘well played, sir

Best Supporting Actress went to Patricia Arquette for Boyhood. Now I haven’t seen the film but I’d have really liked to see Kiera Knightley take this category for her underrated performance in The Imitation Game, or perhaps Laura Dern for her tender one in Wild.

I could go on and on, but let’s stop there. To sum up, not a bad list of winners. Not too many surprises or upsets. There’s some I would have preferred to win over others, but I’m not too cut up about it all.

What was your reaction to this year’s winners and losers?

Oh, and a final note, The Lego Movie should have won for Best Original Song. In that respect, everything is not awesome.

Until next year.

Still Alice… Still sad, sorrowful Julianne Moore

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I haven’t seen Still Alice yet but I appreciate Julianne Moore’s performance is meant to be quietly brilliant. It’s won her a Best Actress Oscar, so it should be.

And you have to hand it to her, no one does sad, sorrowful and full to the brim with pain and anguish quite like Julianne Moore. The film poster for Still Alice is masterful in its simplicity and use of vibrant colours to contrast Moore’s expression.

Looking at her filmography, she took supporting parts for years across a number of different genres. Maybe she has now, in recent years, found her niche?

This may sound like a rant, of sorts. But it’s really not. I’m a fan. But now she’s got the Oscar for sad, why not mix it up? I’d love to see happy, feisty, aggressive, bitchy and bad ass Julianne Moore. I’m sure she’s got those qualities in her locker.

So how about it Julianne, fancy embracing a new career direction?

 

Whatever happened to ladies of the ’80s?

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Hey Hollywood, what gives? I suppose young regularly replaces old, but some of the women from movies I loved growing up during this decade must still be acting. They can’t have all retired, right? Ladies like Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Kelly Lebrock (Weird Science), Molly Ringwald (The Breakfast Club), Elisabeth Shue (The Karate Kid) and Geena Davis (Beetlejuice).

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Phoebe Cates
She made her film debut in 1981 and a year later landed a role in a Cameron Crowe movie, Fast Times At Ridgemont High – probably the high point of her career. She also had a modest part in both Gremlins movies. After that, very little, and she retired in 1994 to raise a family. Such a shame, from an acting point of view of course.

Jennifer Jason Leigh
Another Fast Times alumni whose career was more substantial than her colleague. Following a strong performance in Fast Times in 1990 she received high praise for two films; Last Exit to Brooklyn and Miami Blues, although she got a slightly backhanded compliment at the time being called ‘the Meryl Streep of bimbos’. Five years later she put in another great performance in Georgia. Since then she’s worked steadily but in recent years focused more on the theatre.

Kelly Lebrock
Born in New York but raised in England, Lebrock was always more of a model than an actress. Beyond Weird Science in 1985 she never really added much else to her filmography. And no, starring opposite your then-husband Steven Seagal in Hard to Kill in 1990 does not count. In recent years she’s moved away from acting to devote her time to the terminally ill.

Molly Ringwald
Kicking her career off in expert fashion Ringwald appeared in no less than three John Hughes films in three consecutive years (The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles), making her the go-to chick for teen angst in the ’80s. Allegedly she turned down the lead roles for both Pretty Woman and Ghost, after that her career never really reached the same heights.

Elisabeth Shue
Shue made her debut with The Karate Kid in 1984 and has enjoyed a fairly robust and consistent career since then. She has starred in films like Leaving Las Vegas (1995) with Nic Cage – for which she received an Oscar nomination – and she’s worked with a host of credible actors throughout her career… but, sadly, she never really reclaimed the position she held in the mid ’90s following her Oscar nod.

Geena Davis
Employing an ‘it’s better to fade away than burn out’ approach, Davis has had some meaty roles in her career which have garnered strong praise. In particular Beetlejuice in 1988, The Accidental Tourist in 1989 (a performance which won her a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award) and Thelma & Louise in 1991 (for which she received an Academy Best Actress nomination). She also gained critical acclaim for A League of Their Own (1992) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996). Since then she’s moved more into TV work.

30 BEST FILMS FROM THE ’80S

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I heard somewhere once that our obsession with the 1980s has gone on longer than the decade itself. And with Back to the Future being in the news for reaching the ‘future’ date not too long ago (and, alarmingly, accurately predicting loads of inventions and tech we now take for granted), I thought it a good time to revisit 30 (don’t ask why I picked this number) of my favourite films from that decade.

Aliens (1986)
Written and directed by James Cameron (and building on the foundations laid by Ridley Scott in the first film) he took the franchise to chilling and thrilling new places.
Batman (1989)
Michael Keaton as Batman, Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Tim Burton directing. At the time, a bit of a risk. But one that paid off handsomely, critically and commercially.
Back to the Future (1985)
Famously, Robert Zemeckis, shot a lot of this film with Eric Stoltz as the lead. Only to feel he wasn’t right. So he recast Michael J. Fox and the rest is history. Or future.
Beetlejuice (1988)
Michael Keaton again. Wild, unhinged and brilliant, chasing Geena Davis and Alec Balwin around the place. Held together by the magic of Tim Burton.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Whilst Eddie Murphy made his screen debut a couple of years earlier, this is the film that made him and introduced his character of Axel Foley to the world.
Big (1988)
The whimsical nature and freedom of youth. In case you ever forget, Tom Hanks helps you to remember, dancing on a giant piano in this sweet-natured movie.
Die Hard (1988)
The great thing about the first film in this franchise is that John McClane, as a cop, was an average guy in the wrong place, not an action hero. That, and Alan Rickman.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
The original American Pie… Fast Times introduced us to Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and also Phoebe Cates catching Judge Reinhold masturbating.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Stanley Kubrick set a benchmark when it came to Vietnam war movies with this entry, the story following Private ‘Joker’ as he witnesses a fellow recruit lose his mind.
Good morning, Vietnam (1987)
Blending comedy and poignant drama, Robin Williams made this film what it was, and rightly received critically acclaim for his affecting and committed performance.
Goonies (1985)
Sean Astin as Mikey (same as my name, a connection!), a story by Spielberg and a race to find treasure, this was the ultimate adventure film for kids. Endlessly watchable.
Gremlins (1984)
With a screenplay by Chris Columbus (now a talented director), an executive producer in Spielberg and Joe Dante at the helm, this was a monstrously delightful treat.
Ghostbusters (1984)
This film went on to be, commercially, the most successful comedy of the ’80s. And rightly so, it’s a classic. It also has Bill Murray at his odd and quirky best.
Highlander (1986)
With a Scot playing an Egyptian, a French actor playing a Scot and a soundtrack by Queen, there’s no way this should have worked. But it did. Instant cult classic.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Widely seen as the most violent Indy film in the trilogy and received mixed reviews on release; it’s since been seen in more positive light over the years. Good thing, too.
Labyrinth (1986)
‘You remind me of the babe.’ David Bowie in leather trousers singing his heart out. Honestly, do you need to know more? Odd, disturbing, yet kind of perfect.
Platoon (1986)
Oliver Stone at the top of his game directed this Vietnam film, winning an Academy Award for Best Picture in the process. A must-see for your Vietnam catalogue.
Raging Bull (1980)
Paul Schrader scripted this Martin Scorsese film with De Niro ‘going method‘ as boxer Jake LaMotta. De Niro won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Nominated for nine Academy Awards at the time (it won five), Raiders is one of the highest grossing films of all time and just a thrilling adventure from start to finish.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Undisputed heavyweight champ of the coming-of-age teen movie in the ’80s, without a doubt, was director John Hughes. This remains one of his sweetest stories.
Scarface (1983)
Written by Oliver Stone with Brian de Palma at the helm, this film divided people at the time for its violent excesses, but has since been come to be regarded as a classic.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Surprising to some perhaps, but this second instalment in the Star Wars saga wasn’t well received initially and has built over time. Now one of the best films of all time.
The Three Amigos (1986)
Loosely based, amazingly, on Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film, Seven Samurai, this film didn’t make much commercially, or get great reviews. But I don’t care, it’s still great.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Following in the footsteps of Rocky, this film probably seemed light on the surface, but go watch it back again and again to see new things. It’s deeper than you think.
The Money Pit (1986)
In a remake of a 1948 Cary Grant film, Tom Hanks here proved his comedy chops in this silly, yet sweet flick which sees him crack up as his house slowly falls apart.
The Untouchables (1987)
Written by David Mamet with Brian de Palma directing and Ennio Morricone scoring, this film saw Sean Connery bag an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The Princess Bride (1987)
‘You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you.’ Shun this film at your peril, it’s so sweet, ridiculously silly and wonderful. With one of the best sword fights you’ll see in cinema.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Quite simply, John Hughes’ best film. The most well-observed coming-of-age teen movie you’ll ever see, and one of the best of the decade. Don’t you forget about it.
The Terminator (1984)
The film that launched director James Cameron’s career and cemented Schwarzenegger’s as an acting force to be reckoned with. It hasn’t aged either.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Directed by ’80s legend John Landis, this unholy mess of a movie is kind of part of its charm. I mean, imagine a John Belushi under control, why would you want that?

TOP 10 ‘SEDUCTIVE’ CINEMATIC MOMENTS

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Now we’re not talking scenes here necessarily – more just moments within a scene perhaps. Some are the first time we see the character (often the most impressive) and some once they’ve been established. All are rather brilliant. And these are a selection of my favourites.

‘Do you want some red rope licorice?’ Wayne’s World 2 (1993)
Garth is doing his laundry and in walks Kim Basinger, sucking ‘innocently’ on his licorice and sharing a steamy moment as she hands him back his tighty whiteys.

‘A blonde walks into a bank’ The Mask (1994)
Aged 21 Cameron Diaz auditioned for this film with no experience. She was cast and introduced to cinema in bravura fashion. Jim Carrey’s jaw hit the floor (as he probably wasn’t even acting).

‘A girl gets out a pool’ Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
I tend to mention this film, the original American Pie, quite often. And its inclusion here is fully justified, with Phoebe Cates emerging slow-mo from a pool in Judge Reinhold’s fantasy.

‘Why don’t you do right?’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
How do you act opposite a sex symbol that isn’t actually there? Bob Hoskins managed admirably in this scene; one where Jessica Rabbit first appears; sung seductively – in true femme fatale fashion – by Amy Irving.

‘Cat got the milk’ Batman Returns (1992)
Possibly the best transformation in cinema. Bookish and shy Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) gets left for dead, only to be revived by kitties. She then rips up her apartment to make a new suit, emerging in a vengeful mood as Catwoman.

‘Thigh or breast Mr Bond?’ Goldeneye (1995)
There’s good Bond girls and bad Bond girls, the latter being far more interesting. Famke Janssen plays Xenia Onatopp (great name), whose special skill is crushing men to death with her thighs. What a way to go.

‘A Manhattan for the lady’ The Last Seduction (1994)
Cruelly snubbed for an Oscar due to a technical reason, Linda Fiorentino elevated this slightly hokey film – and script – with a sultry performance, completely flooring Peter Berg in the process.

‘Bend over and read the letter’ Secretary (2002)
James Spader is a bit of a past master at kinky characters (watch Crash at your peril) and here, as the original Mr Grey, he puts Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in her place with a bit of spanking. Which she adores.

‘Nothin’ but short skirts around the house’ The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
‘Does daddy get a kiss from both his little girls?’ ‘Oh no. Daddy doesn’t even get to touch mommy…’ Margot Robbie holds her own in her first major role, summed up well in this scene where she teases DiCaprio mercilessly.

‘I’m the money’ Casino Royale (2006)
The more Bond films that come out the better Casino Royale seems to get. It also cements Eva Green as probably the best Bond girl there has been. She makes her entrance in a simple yet wonderful scene on a train.

TOP 10 ALTERNATIVE FAIRYTALE MOVIES

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Be warned, if you’re not down with your witches, pixies, fairies and whatnot, this list will appear strange and confusing to you. That being said, away from your Cinderella and Snow White classics, here’s an alternative take on the best the fairytale genre has to offer that you might find refreshing.

10. Stardust (2007)
Based on a Neil Gaiman novel this mad fantasy adventure sees a young man fall in love with a fallen star, played wonderfully by Claire Danes. And Robert de Niro almost steals it as a camp pirate.
9. Spirited Away (2001)
Often cited as the Japanese Alice in Wonderland, this film by Hayao Miyazaki sees a young girl grow up as she’s forced to work in a bathhouse for the Gods to save her parents and return home.
8. Willow (1988)
A young Warwick Davies plays Willow, a farmer who goes on a quest to defeat an evil witch and protect a baby – with the help of a mad swordsman (Val Kilmer).
7. Big Fish (2003)
The whole thing is a reminisced fairy tale, with Albert Finney laying in bed and recounting the magical adventures he’s had throughout his life.
6. Coraline (2009)
Another Neil Gaiman adaptation – this one sees a girl find a parallel world behind a secret door where she has to fight her creepy ‘other parents‘ to save her real parents.
5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
In this sequel, Hellboy fights to protect humanity by battling an elven Prince (Luke Goss) and his unstoppable golden army.
4. The Princess Bride (1987)
Wesley, aka the man in black, goes on a journey facing many foes along the way to save his one true love, Princess Buttercup.
3. The Labyrinth (1986)
A teenage girl (Jennifer Connelly) gives up her baby brother to a Goblin King (David Bowie) and then must venture into the labyrinth to save him.
2. Hanna (2011)
Saoirse Ronan plays uber-assassin Hanna, on a quest to discover who she is and understand her place in the world – whilst killers hunt her down.
1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Set just after the Spanish Civil War this film tells the tale of Ofelia, a young girl who meets a Faun who gives her a series of tasks to perform to achieve immortality.

TOP 10 ELEVATOR SCENES IN MOVIES

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Is your screenplay complete without a good elevator scene? Probably not. As a director can you forgive yourself for not including one? No.

So there’s the argument, an open-and-shut case. Any film worth its salt has an elevator scene, so here are a few I’ve picked out I rather like.

What would make your list?

Drive
Oddly tender yet completely brutal, here Ryan Gosling’s character gently holds Carey Mulligan’s character back before he viciously stomps a guy to death.
The Untouchables
In a touching scene Kevin Costner’s Eliot Ness and Sean Connery’s Jimmy Malone find the mob got the drop on a member of their team in the elevator.
A Cabin In The Woods
Guards with guns race to face whatever comes out the lifts. And what emerges is holy hell – an explosion of monsters, blood and death.
The Departed
Showing no respect for big name actors – and in a genuinely shocking moment – a key character gets shot as soon as the lift doors open.
Terminator 2
The T-1000 chases Arnie and the gang into a lift as they flee the mental asylum. In such close quarters with a killer who has swords for arms it’s frighteningly tense.
Lost In Translation
Murray and Johansson’s characters say goodnight exchanging kisses. Wonderfully played. Murray also has another lift scene, standing a foot taller than the locals.
The Losers
Chris Evans’ character gets into a lift whilst singing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing with gusto. Needless to say, no one gets in with him.
Hunger Games: Catching Fire
In a rare lighter moment, Jena Malone’s Johanna Mason strips off in a lift in front of Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch. Some are more pleased than others.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Steve Rodgers starts in the lift with a few guys. A door opens, more get on. Then more. He asks if any want out before they get started. He then gets started.
Inception
Ellen Page’s Ariadne descends in an elevator, sneaking into Cobb’s memories to find Marion Cotillard’s Mal, gorgeous and deadly.

TOP 15 FILMS OF 2015

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A strong year for cinema, I must say. With the exception of the summer it’s been veritably crammed with decent stuff to watch month on month. As usual, I missed the boat on loads. What I did catch though I liked a lot, for the most part.

Here’s my top 15 of the year, plus a list of ones I assume I’d have loved, had I seen them.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Ex Machina
3. Inside Out
4. Amy
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service
6. Whiplash
7. John Wick
8. Birdman
9. Wild
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
11. Legend
12. The Theory of Everything
13. Far From The Madding Crowd
14. American Sniper
15. The Man From UNCLE

And some I haven’t seen/are not out yet and would, in all probability, make my list otherwise. They are:

Brooklyn
Macbeth
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
A Most Violent Year
It Follows
The Martian
Steve Jobs
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Victor Frankenstein
By The Sea
Beasts Of No Nation
Black Mass

TOP 30 AUSSIE ACTORS

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They come from a land down under. And then they all eventually move to Hollywood. Ah, Australia. For Europeans and Americans it can feel like the other side of the world, and it pretty much is, in some ways.

Often the mention of the country conjures up images of beaches, surf and endless sunshine. Whilst that’s all there it’s also a place that seems to churn out an astonishingly high number of talented actors. Here’s my pick of a few of my favourites and the films or TV that put them on my radar.

THE UP-AND-COMERS
Margot Robbie
The Wolf of Wall Street, Focus
Chris Hemsworth
Thor, Avengers, A Cabin In The Woods
Liam Hemsworth
Hunger Games
Joel Edgerton
Warrior, Animal Kingdom
Rose Byrne
Spy, Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later
Jai Courtney
Spartacus, Jack Reacher
Mia Wasikowska
Alice in Wonderland, Stoker
Rebel Wilson
Pitch Perfect
Melissa George
30 Days Of Night, Triangle
Jason Clarke
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Zero Dark Thirty
Abbie Cornish
Stop-Loss, Limitless, Candy
Emily Browning
Sleeping Beauty, Legend
Yvonne Strahovski
24: Live Another Day, Killer Elite
David Wenham
300: Rise Of An Empire, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Sam Worthington
Avatar
Teresa Palmer
Warm Bodies
Sullivan Stapleton
Animal Kingdom, 300: Rise Of An Empire

THE HEAVYWEIGHTS
Nicole Kidman
Eyes Wide Shut, Days of Thunder
Russell Crowe
Gladiator, L.A. Confidential, The Quick And The Dead, The Insider
Cate Blanchett
The Lord Of The Rings, The Life Aquatic, The Aviator
Eric Bana
Hanna, Troy, Munich
Hugh Jackman
X-Men, The Prestige
Geoffrey Rush
Pirates Of The Carribbean, The Tailor Of Panama, The King’s Speech
Guy Pearce
Momento, L.A. Confidential
Naomi Watts
King Kong, The Ring
Mel Gibson*
Lethal Weapon, We Were Soldiers
Toni Collette
About a Boy, Little Miss Sunshine
Hugo Weaving
The Matrix, The Lord Of The Rings
Heath Ledger**
The Dark Knight, Candy, Brokeback Mountain
Ben Mendelsohn
The Place Beyond the Pines, Animal Kingdom, Starred Up

* Despite the fact that, technically, Gibson is American, he carved out his acting career in Australia and was roommates with Geoffrey Rush at one point. So he gets included.
** I appreciate Heath Ledger is the only one on this list no longer with us, but he was so good he should stay. And that’s that.

TOP 5 MOVIE QUOTES OF 2015

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Strong year for strong lines I say. Some stick in your head because they shocked you, some no doubt amused, confused and titillated you. Some perhaps inspired you. Here’s my top five of the year.

5. Wild
‘My mother used to say something that drove me nuts. There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.’

Reese Witherspoon here plays Cheryl Strayed, a woman who walked 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself again. An inspiring film and underrated performance.

4. Legend
‘I come here for a proper shootout. A shootout, right, is a shootout, like a Western.’ 

Tom Hardy plays unhinged Ronnie Kray in a scene where he undermines a gangster who’s armed himself with a bat rather than a gun for a brawl.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road
‘Oh what a lovely day!’ 

Nicholas Hoult’s War Boy cries through grinned teeth as he chases Charlize Theron’s Furiousa into a life-threatening storm with Tom Hardy’s ‘blood bag’ Max strapped to his car.

2. Kingsman: The Secret Service
‘Manners maketh man’ 

Uttered by Colin Firth’s suave spy as he teaches his young protégé Eggsy what being a Kingsman is all about, doling out justice to some local pikeys with his clever umbrella.

1. Whiplash
‘Not quite my tempo’

Somewhat of an understatement given J.K. Simmonds’ highly strung jazz teacher would be as likely to throw a cymbal at your head moments after, as he would to praise your talent.

 

TOP 10 ‘NOT CHRISTMAS’ MOVIES

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Ok, a little odd, but this is basically a list of either films that are set around Christmas time, but aren’t full blown Christmas films. My picks below are rated in order of how Christmassy I deem them to be – in terms of scenes or references within them.

10. In Bruges (2008)
Even though Christmas isn’t a necessary part of this film, it just sort of sits there under the surface and kind of works. ‘Tis the season to be, er, jolly.

9. Die Hard / Die Hard 2 (1988/1990)
Both films take place on Christmas eve, one in a tower block and one at an airport, leading Bruce Willis’ cop John McClane to ask himself, ‘How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?’

8. Trading Places (1983)
Possibly one of my favourite Christmas yet not Christmas scenes, with Dan Akroyd’s character dressed as Santa down on his luck eating salmon through his beard.

7. Go (1999)
Got a bit of a soft spot for this film. It features a rave called ‘Mary Christmas’, has Timothy Olyphant in a Santa hat and Katie Holmes talking about the joys of the holiday season.

6. Lethal Weapon (1987)
With a Jingle Bells opening and a Christmas tree drug bust writer Shane Black knows how to weave Christmas into his film with style.

5. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Stanley Kubrick’s film is kind of odd, in that Christmas saturates the film, but for no obvious apparent reason. It starts with the ‘happy’ couple attending a party.

4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
We start with Robert Downey Jr.’s character robbing a store on Christmas and the film also features Michelle Monaghan in a sexy Santa outfit.

3. Batman Returns (1992)
Tim Burton sprinkles this film with Christmas throughout, including a lovely Christmas tree sequence and a sexy kiss from Catwoman.

2. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Russell Crowe’s Officer Bud White pulls Christmas decorations onto a wife-beater, Kevin Spacey’s Hollywood cop attends a festive party and Guy Pearce’s ambitious cop loses control at a ‘Bloody Christmas‘ scandal.

1. Gremlins (1984)
Considering it’s not a Christmas film this holiday runs right through this film, from Gizmo wearing a Santa hat to Phoebe Cates’ character’s confession that her dad died in a chimney dressed as Santa.

 

WHO ARE THE MOST ‘IN FORM’ BRITISH ACTRESSES RIGHT NOW?

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Now I was going to use the word ‘hot’ to describe this list, as in ‘they’re so hot right now’, but it seems a bit American for a list of British actresses. So for anyone into sport I’ve gone with ‘in form’, so you’ll get it – and I mean acting talent not physical form. Of course they’re all beautiful as well (goes without saying), but this is about their ability to convince us of their character and performance on screen.

Here are my favourites with some of their work listed; ones who have been lighting up the screen in impressive ways over the last few years. It’s a mixed list, which is a good thing.

Up-and-comers like Emilia Clarke, Lily Collins and Imogen Poots are still finding their feet and working on the odd clunker, whereas others like Alice Eve, Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones really need to be in decent stuff a bit more often, given their talent.

I would say Emily Blunt, Kate Winslet and Carey Mulligan are leading the way as the most ‘in form’ at the moment. Plus Winslet really should get some sort of lifetime achievement award at some point. She’s got ten years on the rest of the women on this list and has consistently worked on good projects throughout her career – she’s so impressive.

Emily Blunt
Sicario, Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, The Adjustment Bureau
Hayley Atwell
Agent Carter, Ant-Man, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Lily Collins
Mirror Mirror, Love, Rosie
Carey Mulligan
Suffragette, Far From The Madding Crowd, Shame, Drive, Inside Llewyn Davis

Rebecca Hall
Iron Man 3, The Gift, Transcendence, The Town, Closed Circuit
Alice Eve
Starter For 10, Crossing Over, Star Trek Into Darkness
Emma Watson
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, The Bling Ring, Noah
Emilia Clarke
Game of Thrones, Terminator Genisys
Rosamund Pike
Gone Girl, Jack Reacher, The World’s End
Juno Temple
Far From The Madding Crowd, Killer Joe, Cracks, Black Mass
Romola Garai
Suffragette, The Hour, The Crimson Petal and the White
Felicity Jones
The Theory of Everything, Like Crazy, Chalet Girl
Sienna Miller
High-Rise, Mississippi Grind, American Sniper, Foxcatcher

Imogen Poots
A Long Way Down, Filth, The Look Of Love, Cracks
Jessica Brown Findlay
Victor Frankenstein, The Riot Club
Naomi Watts
While We’re Young, Birdman, Insurgent
Kate Winslet
Steve Jobs, The Dressmaker, Labor Day, Carnage, Insurgent/Divergent

TOP 5 ACTRESSES THAT LOOK LIKE CATS

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We’ve all thought it. Well, er, some of us. Look at her eyes, so feline, so alluring, she can’t be human surely? Definitely some sort of alien. Well, whatever these ladies are, I like them. Those exotic creatures with the feline features.

So, for no reason at all really, other than I felt like sharing, here are my top five cat-like actresses in film and TV at the moment:

Olivia Wilde
The Change-Up, Alpha Dog, In Time, Her, Cowboys & Aliens, Tron: Legacy, House

Amanda Seyfried
Alpha Dog, Chloe, Jennifer’s Body, Dear John, In Time, Lovelace

Natalie Dormer
Game Of Thrones, Rush, Hunger Games, The Tudors

Olivia Munn
Magic Mike, The Newsroom, Iron Man 2, X-Men: Apocalypse (out 2016)

Mila Kunis
Friends With Benefits, Family Guy, Black Swan, Jupiter Ascending