An actual Aussie Christmas film?

Here's the thing about Christmas in Australia - it's summertime.  Yes, the weather outside IS frightful, because it's bloody hot! 

It's pretty rare to find a genuine Australian Christmas film but this one is my favourite Christmas film bar none (because people, Die Hard doesn't count!).  You'll have to hunt for it and it may be listed under it's US title Miracle Down Under (such a stupid name).

It's got an all star cast and is directed by George Miller (Happy Feet).  Go for it!!


PLOT: Struggling to establish themselves in the outback, a young boy and his family discover the true meaning of Christmas through their curmudgeonly neighbour and a swagman.

CAST: John Waters ("Underbelly", "All Saints"), Dee Wallace (ET), Charles 'Bud' Tingwell  (The Castle), Bill Kerr ("Changi"), Nadine Garner ("City Homicide"), Grant Piro ("City Homicide")

Remember when VR was the next big thing?

Hi guys

Quick and dirty this week.  Did you know that Crowe and Washington were brought together long before American Gangster with roles reversed?

I love this movie just for the old technology and the fact that it was a great performance from Russell Crowe before his big Hollywood break. The character SID (Sadistic, Intelligence, Dangerous) is a great villain!  Part Matrix-Part noir.  Check out...


CAST: Denzel Washington (American Gangster, Training Day), Russell Crowe (American Gangster, Gladiator), Kelly Lynch

PLOT:  When a big organisation creates a law enforcement training program through virtual reality, they inadvertently release their super villain into reality.  It's now up to an ex-cop/prisoner to stop him... as he once did before.

And you thought Jason Bourne was cool!

Before there were snakes on a plane, before Damon's Bourne tried to uncover his past, before The Bride had to kill Bill, there was one bad ass chick called Charly.

Picture this, you're the perfect soccer mum. You bake cookies for your daughter's class.You have a kind, steady man in your life.  And you don't remember anything before this very ordinary existence began.  And then someone tries to kill you and your family for something from your past... What follows is an action packed trip with Samantha and a deadbeat PI sidekick. 

Now we all know how I feel about David Morse but here meet another side to him, a special kind of charming creep with some inventive torture techniques!

DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin (The Covenant, Deep Blue Sea)

CAST: Geena Davis ("Commander in Chief", A League of Their Own), Samuel L Jackson (Snakes on a Plane, Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction), Brian Cox (Troy, X-Men II, The Bourse Supremacy), David Morse (Disturbia, The Green Mile)

PLOT: When an assassin viciously attacks a seemingly ordinary woman, her amnesia cracks and she begins to remember her past... and that persona is coming back for revenge against the people who tried to kill her.

For more amnesiac films see:

Kill Bill Vol I & II
The Bourne Trilogy

Watch the trailer

Oh THAT guy! - Part 2

This is Warwick Davis!  He's a fabulous actor who's been instrumental in promoting professional acting roles  through his company Willow Personal Management.  As he puts it, "the biggest agency for short actors in the world".  Perhaps you recognise him better by his roles?

Wicket in Return of the Jedi

The lead character in Willow
The lead character in Leprechaun

Various characters in all the Harry Potter films

Marvin in Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy 
Nikabrik in Narnia: Prince Caspian

My favourite Warwick Davis film (excluding Star Wars of course!) and one of my faves as a child is also this week's recommendation.  I love this magical adventure if only for the craziness of Mad Martigan, played joyfully by an almost unrecognisable Val Kilmer.

PLOT: When a baby princess is found floating down a stream by the nelwyn farmer Willow, he undertakes an adventure to return her to her people.  Along the way he meets a great warrior and together they journey through a war-torn land of magic and monsters, trying to evade an evil sorceress.

CAST: Warwick Davis (Harry Potter), Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

Watch the trailer

A moment of pure Schappelle-ness?

Due to my hideously late posts for the last week (you must forgive me of course, it's HP7 opening week!) you get two for the price of one!

You all know my feelings on the Schapelle Corby issue but here's how a trip to SE Asia can really go very very wrong.  Could your friendship survive?


 PLOT: After a brief encounter with a handsome, charming stranger while travelling around Thailand, two girls from different backgrounds suffer the same fate, they are arrested for drug smuggling.

CAST: Claire Danes (Shop Girl, Romeo & Juliet), Kate Beckinsale (Underworld, Serendipity), Bill Pullman (Independence Day, While You Were Sleeping)

Watch the trailer

For another take on the same situation, check out RETURN TO PARADISE.

A side of Bacon?

I have a huge crush on Kevin Bacon.  There I said it.  He's a brilliant actor, with incredible range, vastly more talented than a simple dance sequence in an 80s flick.

Okay, the things most people heard of or remember about this one are the threesome and girl on girl action in the pool.  Get past the tittilation and you'll find it's a terrific thriller with twists that will have you guessing even after the credits begin to roll!


PLOT:  Two young women from very different backgrounds accuse the local school's guidance councellor of rape, but the investigating officer suspects things aren't what they seem.  So who is the puppetmaster?

CAST: Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell (Scream), Denise Richards (Drop Dead Gorgeous), Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Ghostbusters)

LOCATED IN: Thriller

Watch the trailer

For more Kevin Bacon thrills and chills check out:
  • Trapped
  • The River Wild
  • A Few Good Men
  • Mystic River
  • Death Sentence

Yes, high society is code for snob

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the classics are called that for a reason!!  After my colleagues persuaded me to check out some recent comedies this past week, I found myself regarding modern comedy generally.... whatever happened to the screwball comedy?

Well, to get myself back to basics, this week I am recommending one of my favourite screwball classics... Frankly with a cast including Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart AND Cary Grant, enough said!!


PLOT: When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, all assumptions are out the window!

Located in: Classics

More screwball comedies:
 - His Girl Friday
 - Bringing Up Baby

Try on Vintage Depp

Before Captain Jack Sparrow and remakes galore, Johnny Depp made some pretty inspiring movie choices. As much as I love Gilbert Grape and Chocolat, there is a small nook of my heart devoted to this Buster Keatonesque  performance. Plus a stonking good supporting cast to boot!! Check it out for some heart warming fun.


PLOT: After his autistic sister loses at poker night, Benny inherits a friend's odd cousin as a houseguest. Although at first bemused by sam's strange behaviour, he charms their lives and ultimately helps them both move forward from their traumatic past.

CAST: Aiden Quinn (Legends of thr Fall, Blink), Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes, Bed of Roses), Johnny Depp (Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland), Julianne Moore (Evolution, Magnolia), Oliver Platt (Casanova, Lake Placid)

Located in: Comedy

Watch the trailer

For more Vintage Depp try:
  • Chocolat
  • What's Eating Gilbert Grape
  • From Hell
  • Edward Scissorhands

Give scifi a try - part #2

Because this post is 4 days late, you get 2 for the price of one!  I am a sci fi nut.  I've heard all the jokes so get over it... or get on board!

Yes, some sci fi is truly ridiculous - but those with a great narrative and unique perspective are worth a look.  And the other great thing about the smaller budget sci fi films is that studios haven't put their oar in and ruined original concepts!


Okay, with this one I'm a little biased as Christian Bale can simply do not wrong in my mind.  This is part Matrix, part Dark City, part Gattaca... Plus jujitsu with guns!  You may think the hardest thing an actor does is act to a green screen or laugh or cry on cue.  It isn't.  The hardest thing an actor does is being completely without emotion and yet remain charismatic.  This is something Bale is extraordinary at.  It's easy to be charismatic when you're character is written as charming and friendly.  Not so here...

PLOT: In the facist future, the solution to stopping wars is to chemically suppress the very feelings that supposedly begin them and outlawing emotional stimuli.  These laws are absolute and brutally enforced by the Grammaton.  But they're most devoted cleric has just skipped a dose...

WRITER/DIRECTOR: Kurt Wimmer (Salt, Law Abiding Citizen, The Recruit)

CAST: Christian Bale (Public Enemies, Terminator Salvation, The Dark Knight), Taye Diggs (Chicago), Emily Watson (Gosford Park, Angela's Ashes), Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief), William Fichtner (Armageddon, "Prison Break", Contact), Angus MacFadyen (Braveheart)

The first time I watched this, I got to the credits and watched it again.  When I bought the dvd, I watched ALL the special features and commentaries in one sitting!! This was filmed here in Australia and includes many locals in the cast.

PLOT: After crash landing on a deserted and scorching planetary body, the survivors discover that there is something worse than its 3 suns... sunset.  For the pitch black darkness has awakened an malevolent swarm.

WRITER/DIRECTOR: David Twohy (GI Jane, The Fugitive)

CAST: Vin Diesel (XXX, The Fast & The Furious), Radha Mitchell (Rogue, Man on Fire)


When English Lit meets Archaeology

There are many professions devoted to the care of all things old... Archaeology, antiquities, geriatric medicine...  This week's film follows an intrepid hunt through the past for answers.

I love the dual stories playing out in this film, particularly the long lost secret which the leads are trying to uncover. The ending, though ultimately happy, does tug at the heartstrings a little.

Now, as many of you know, Gwyneth Paltrow irritates me more than most - she did after all separate our Cate from Oscar and she's usually more wooden than a Trojan horse.  I still don't understand how she got the knack for scoring British roles (leading to other mistakes like Bridget Jones) but somehow cast a stiff bookish type plays to her strengths in this case.  Aaron Eckhart is charismatic and playful.  You can't help but side with him.  Irritating though to see Toby Stephens as yet another schmuck (see Die Another Day).  Nevertheless, it will draw you in.


PLOT: In his study of celebrated English poet, Randolph Ash, a struggling American academic discovers a letter written in the poet's own hand. With the expertise of ball busting Maud, he uncovers an illicit and shocking romance from the past that will have consequences for both their own lives.  But will they find the final piece of the puzzle before a greedy collector snatches it forever?

CAST: Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, The Core, Erin Brockovick), Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man, Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors), Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park, Emma), Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice, Paradise Road)

Watch the trailer


The Notebook
Becoming Jane

Music to my ears

In the much maligned first SATC film, there is reference to the love letters written by great men resulting in unimaginative women everywhere swooning....

But what if I told you there was a film that catalogued an even great love story?  A forbidden and secret love only declared once and too late?  What if it was filmed well, explored beautifully the story of one of history's greatest composers and starred the incomparable Gary Oldman, you'd want to see it wouldn't you?


PLOT: On his deathbed, the great Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his beloved a final letter.  But it is addressed simply to "My Immortal Beloved" and it falls to his friend to decipher who, of Beethoven's many great loves, that might be. 

DIRECTOR: Bernard Rose (Robin Hood, Body of Lies, Black Hawk Down)

CAST: Gary Oldman (Harry Potter, The Dark Knight, The Contender, Air Force One), Jeroen Krabbé (Ever After, The Fugitive), Isabella Rossellini (30 Rock, Blue Velvet)


Copying Beethoven
Walk The Line
Crazy Heart

Have you seen this man? AKA Oh THAT guy!

Career Retrospective

There are lots of actors that people recognise but can't place.  One of my favourite actors is such a person.  You may know him as Ethan Embry but I remember when he went by his birth name Ethan Randall!

My first memory of him was in Drive Me Crazy (Dutch in US) with Modern Family's Ed O'Neill (with whom he would again work in L.A Dragnet.)

He's been in a number of easily recognised roles over the years including Empire Records, Can't Hardly Wait and Sweet Home Alabama...

...and a number of roles that you may not have realised was him!  Remember That Thing You Do, White Squall, Timeline?

You may be under the impression that Ethan just pops up every now and again?  But you would be wrong.  Ethan voices a number of animated series in addition to the couple of movies he makes each year.

He has also branched out into tv and I was stoked to see him recently in a stellar cameo on House.
But my absolute favourite of his roles was as spoiled Harry Winslow in the terrific kids movie A Far Off Place.  It's a performance with real heart by one talented young man and the rapport with Reese Witherspoon is palpable. Two up-and-comers before their time.  This is how I remember them...

Go you good thing!

Weekly Challenge #2 - I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

In 1997, before Cougars and LOTR, back when Demi and Bruce were still together and before Ridley Scott discovered Russell Crowe, there was GI Jane.


Sadly, this is the thing most people remember about this movie...

Yes, Demi pulled a Sinead and shaved her head. Moving on...

Take another look... First of all, it's great for the guys and gals alike.  Produced by ScottFree (that's Ridley & Tony Scott to you) means quality production with decent action and effects.  

As for the ladies, how does Viggo Mortensen in fatigues sound?  How about a woman beating the odds and surpassing her male classmates on sheer guts?

No?  Need more?  Supporting cast includes Jim Caviezel, John Michael Higgins, David Vadim…

Forget personal trainers and calorie counting; one screening of this has me off my couch and getting fit every time!  Plus I love the action and watching Jordan shit all over a bunch of misogynist expectations and getting up in the face of the politicians using her.

This chick's got game. 


PLOT: An ambitious politician orchestrates the enrolment of the first female officer into Navy Seal training… but will O'Neil complete the gruelling training when everyone expects her to fail?

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott (Robin Hood, Body of Lies, Black Hawk Down)

CAST: Demi Moore (Charlie's Angels, A Few Good Men, Ghost), Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence, Lord of the Rings), Anne Bancroft (Keeping The Faith, Great Expectations, The Graduate)


52 Week Challenge - Week 1 "James Cameron"

As this is a 52 week challenge and I have more than 52 DVDs (I know it's a real shock, right?) I thought I would start with a collection I have rather than a single film.

I am often accused of being pedantic, finicky and many other adjectives which all mean the same thing... anal... about cataloguing my dvds but that's just because I can now go to the drawers and know exactly what is where.  No, it's not chronological or alphabetical, it's much harder to crack than that.  Essentially my catalogue system is intuitive - some of it is chronological but other sections are by director, genre or actor - and the reason for this is that I have exceedingly eclectic taste.

So this inaugural blog is of my James Cameron collection.  No, don't groan!  There's a reason he was invited into a guest spot in Entourage people! Long before monsters like Titantic and Avatar broke box office records, Cameron was pushing the envelope technologically and his films were incredible.  I will concede that in some cases the plot and character development came second to the technology but in those that got it right, wow!  And it is for these films that Cameron currently sits in my list of Top 3 Directors.

So, below is a list of my JC collection in order of preference (Least Fave to AWESOME):

Avatar - JC taking his love of blue to a new level!)
Titantic - Love Winslet, love Leo but hate this film simply because it took people soooo long to see these excellent actors as anything but Rose & Jack. I do however love it for the detail )
True Lies - Arnie taking the mickey out of himself, Jamie Lee Curtis as the fish out of water in a very hot striptease, and Tom Arnold as, well, Tom Arnold.  Sigh... I love it. (PS - hear rumors of a tv series in the works... what's with all the spy shows at the mo?  Is it just that people are already missing 24?)
Terminator 2 - Assassin turned protector, liquid metal villain and a beefed up but clinically insane mother. Forget relating to the characters and just enjoy shit blowing up! 
Terminator  - How can you not love a film with Arnie, Biehn AND an iguana!
Aliens - While Ridley Scott pioneered this franchise we have JC to thank for taking it mainstream.  PS - can't believe they're recasting Ripley in a new prequel GRR!!


This one sits in my top 10.  It's an awesome flick that I just never get sick of.  Part sci-fi, part drama, part love story, part thriller.

CAST: Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind, The Rock, A History of Violence, The Hours) Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Prince of Thieves), Michael Biehn (The Rock, Terminator).

A civilian diving team are enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering a potentially unidentified aquatic species.