New Year Resolutions

I’ve had a little bit of break from the website for a couple of weeks, I had lots of plans for articles to write and publish over Christmas and New Year but work, family visits and festivities all conspired to get in the way…

Top Ten: Bank Holiday Movies

Here we are – the last Bank Holiday Monday until Christmas. I’m sure there’s lots to do but I’m going to stick with the tradition of sitting watching movies…

Empire Big Screen Day has arrived

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Empire Big Screen (2011)

Today I’m attending Empire’s BIG SCREEN event at the o2 in London. I’m looking forward to preview screenings of some of the summer’s hottest films, as well as interviews and discussions with producers, directors, set designers, renowned reviewers and journalists and a wide range of other film experts.

First up this morning is showcase sessions with 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures. I absolutely love getting to the cinema in time for the trailers so watching two hours of extended footage and previews is a dream. I understand that 20th Century Fox will be bringing along special footage from Titanic 3D. It’ll certainly be fascinating to see what James Cameron has done.

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Singin’ in the Rain

The perfect movie musical – why haven’t you seen it yet?

The 1940s and 1950s was the golden era for the movie musical. A true classic was produced almost every year and most of these came from the lot of the famous MGM studios. You must know the films – Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, High Society, Annie Get Your Gun, Gigi. The list goes on and on. Despite being recognized now as one of the greatest films of all time with accolades such as the number one slot on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest Musicals and being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, Singin’ In The Rain, was not a great financial success on its release. Proof that the box office isn’t everything.

Singin’ In The Rain is a film about films, about Hollywood, actors and actresses and most importantly the transition from silent movies to the ‘talkies’. Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont (Gene Kelly and Jean Hagan) are the most popular film stars in their world – their love stories, almost always period pieces, entrance audiences everywhere. As does the story of their own true love. A story completely fabricated by the studio’s publicity team. Despite her good looks and ladylike appearance Lina is a shrill-voiced, shallow harridan. Don is much more interested in chorus girl Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). The first Lockwood and Lamont talkie, The Duelling Cavalier, is a disaster – the preview audience treats it with derision and many vow to never watch another Lockwood and Lamont film again. Don, Kathy and Don’s best friend Cosmo Brown (a scene-stealing Donald O’Connor) hatch a plan to save the film by turning it into a musical with Kathy dubbing Lina’s dreadful voice. Can The Dancing Cavalier save the studio, Lockwood and Lamont’s reputation and careers and Don and Kathy’s blooming relationship?

It’s hard to know where to begin with Singin’ In The Rain, there’s just too much brilliance…..

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The Top 10 Summer Blockbusters

Summer blockbusters

IIt’s summer and we all know what that means – long sunny days, plenty of fresh air and good clean outdoor pursuits. Oh yes, and hours of fun inside an air-conditioned cinema with popcorn, hot dogs and a rattling good summer blockbuster.

There are two main seasons for film releases. In order to qualify for Oscar consideration films must have a theatrical run in Los Angeles County between 1st January and 31st December. This generally means that studios release their worthy, serious films in November and December to keep them fresh in the minds of the Academy voters. If you take a look at the winter releases you can pretty much tell which movies will be the stars of the awards season in the spring but summer is the time for the big-budget, big-star name, big entertainment blockbusters to be released. Also known as the films that we actually pay to go and see….

I have some rules for what can be regarded as a true summer blockbuster. They’re pretty arbitrary, not everyone is going to agree….

It has to be an action film, no romances in my lists
It has to be a film I could watch over and over again – it can’t be a blockbuster if one viewing is enough
It’s not an animation (no matter how good it is)
The time of year matters – Die Hard is a brilliant, brilliant film but it’s set at Christmas, not summer
There has to be personality in there, no pointless sequels churned out just for filthy lucre.

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Father Goose

An amusing WWII romp with Cary Grant unconvincing as an uncouth slob

Whenever Cary Grant is mentioned the automatic image is smooth, suave, sophisticated. A real gentleman. Walter Christopher Eckland, his character in the Oscar winning Father Goose, his 73rd and penultimate film, is as far from sophisticated as it is possible to get. But can Grant really put aside almost 40 years of habit and pull off the unshaven, drunken beachbum role?

Set during the Second World War, Father Goose is the story of Walter Eckland, an American beachcomber who is forced by a Royal Australian Navy Commander (an old friend who definitely has the measure of Eckland) to act as a coast-watcher for the Allies. For his (independently verified) reports on Japanese planes and shops Eckland, now codenamed Mother Goose much to his disgust, is rewarded with bottles of whisky which are hidden around the small island on which he is based. Walter’s quiet life is disturbed by the arrival of Catherine Freneau, played by Leslie Caron, and seven schoolgirls who have been abandoned while attempting to reach safety in Australia. The clash between the sophisticated Mademoiselle Freneau and her charges and the boorish Eckland takes place against the backdrop of increasing danger from the ever-present Japanese.

I’ve always enjoyed Father Goose. It’s a silly, funny romantic comedy. It is however almost impossible to imagine Cary Grant as anything other than a handsome, suave hero and he doesn’t really convince as a slob. The beautifully clean white socks he wears in one scene doesn’t help either – why would he have such clean clothes? He’s just Cary Grant. That’s ok though. Father Goose isn’t a serious drama, it’s a bit of fun. And we Cary Grant fans know and love our man whatever – we know his character isn’t really a hobo…

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Robin Hood (2010)

Ridley and Russell achieve the impossible – they make Robin Hood boring

I think there’s something naturally ingrained in the DNA of us Brits – a deep love for Robin Hood and everything related to Sherwood Forest. Even the most fiscally conservative cheer when the evil rich are robbed for the benefit of the poor and Robin defeats the scheming Sheriff of Nottingham.

Julie & Julia

An enjoyable biopic of two women and how cooking changed their lives

There’s an ongoing discussion on film blogs, review sites and magazines – why aren’t there more female directors? Why aren’t female directors recognised for their work? Are too many women shackled by the ghettoisation of making films for other women?


A moving story of jealousy and betrayal

Based on the 1979 Peter Schaffer play, itself a highly fictionalised version of the real life relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri…