Charming festive fare

With the silly season upon us there are plenty of Xmas flicks out there and any number of lists you can refer to (including one on this blog). But when I need a bit of a lift during the rest of the year I tend to reach for The Holiday. Sometimes you just really need a Hollywood ending!

It has that British Romcom charm but the less than sly self referential humour that can only be American writing.

Now my adoration and respect for Kate Winslet is well documented and Cameron Diaz has comic timing rarely found in Hollywood starlets anymore. I don't really get the whole Jude Law thing but I liked him in spite of myself here. But it was delightful to see Jack Black given a proper romantic lead that doesn't involve Gwyneth in a fat suit. And who doesn't love Rufus Sewell as a villain!

Ps - This movie is also responsible for my adoration of the plummy kid accents in Peppa Pig "you don't like tents?"

The Holiday

Plot: two women, one Brit one Yank, looking to escape from their own personal dramas by swapping houses for the festive season end up finding out things about themselves instead.

Cast: Kate Winslet (The Reader), Cameron Diaz (Knight & Day), Jude Law (Gattaca), Jack Black (School of Rock)

Like this? Check out
Tara Road
While you were sleeping
Notting Hill
Love Actually

To market

Despite my keen adoration for all things film, I still have to bring in some dough to pay for things like, well bread. I am a marketer day to day. Now there are hundreds of films about cops, even more about lawyers and spies. There aren't too many about filmmakers but there's even less about marketing and those that there are are hardly complimentary your Highness ;)

But when I first saw this week's flick I was entranced for I know, and have worked with, kings and queens of spin. They're not optimists, nor pessimists. They don't see the glass half empty or full. They just want to make sure you buy more glasses and fill it with more of their product, edible or not, carcinogenic or not!

Yet this film takes that characteristic and flogs the shit out of it, with so much tongue in cheek it may choke. It's witty, vivacious and wry. And it has a terrific cast lead incontrovertibly by the excellent Aaron Eckhart and is helmed by the director of acclaimed film including Juno and Up in the Air.

Check out...

Plot: Nick Naylor is the king of spin and his client is big tobacco.  Can he spin his own moral responsibilities when his own son questions them?

Cast: Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), JK Simmons (Juno), Cameron Bright (Birth), William H Macy (The Lincoln Lawyer), Robert Duvall (Gone in 60 Seconds), Mario Bello (A History of Violence), David Koechner (Anchorman), Rob Lowe (The West Wing)

Watch the trailer

Doppelgängers - part deux

A new addition to the doppelgänger list
Original post:

People often confuse actors with other actors and it's not hard to see why, even without the makeup, prostheses and camera tricks and lighting! Here are some common mistaken identities... Can you think of others?

Here fishy fishy fishy

Rarely does a film that revolves around Britain's relationship with the Middle East completely lack any connotations or references to war or terror or the impact of these things.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you the beacon for fresh ideas, ie not from the freezer section ;)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Plot: A Fisheries expert reluctantly agrees to assist a Sheik and his liaison with an unusual project after the prime minister's pushy press secretary insists it offers positive PR potential.

Cast: Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Ep I), Emily Blunt (Young Victoria), Kristen Scott Thomas (Easy Virtue), Tom Mison (Sleepy Hollow)

Money money money

Ok so finance ain't exactly my bag. Thank goodness for excel spreadsheets or my savings account would bleed red like a Tarantino film.

But I just had to add my voice to the many many many strong reviews of this week's film. A superb screenplay brought to life with Excellent performances and crisp direction. Really this should be in the horror section when you consider the terrifying consequences for everyone at the end of this story. For your consideration...

Margin Call

Plot: 24 hrs before what would become the GFC, three investment bankers predicted the fall. What did their employer do with that information?

Cast: Stanley Tucci (Easy A), Zacchary Quinto (Star Trek), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl), Simon Baker (The Mentalist), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty), Demi Moore (Charlie's Angels Full Throttle), Paul Bettany (Wimbledon), Jeremy Irons (Die Hard w a Vengeance)

Legal stock n trade

I have a confession... I don't always get popular films. I simply do not understand a need for applause lauded for the Appatows and Farrelys Bros of the modern movie experience. I guess half the problem is these movies are often oversold by friends to such a degree that my expectations are simply too high when I see them - not that they were that high to begin with ;) 
Hopefully I didn't just lose half my followers!? The Coen Bros are another pair whose style is pretty hit and miss with me. I either LOVE their flicks or am bored within minutes of openings credits. However since working for a law firm, my appreciation for one of my favourite Coen Bros has only intensified. 

Plus you can see Clooney at his best, before he started flogging coffee capsules. I encourage you to revisit....

Intolerable Cruelty

Plot: Miles, the best divorce attorney in well, ever has met his match in 'wronged wife' Marylin.

Cast: Catherine Zeta Jones (No Reservations), George Clooney (3 Kings), Paul Adelstein (Prison Break), Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth), Billy Bob Thornton (love actually)

Watch the trailer


Before Ironman and Kiss Kuss Bang Bang resurrected Robert Downey Jnr he got stuck in schmaltz. And who better to be stuck there with than the lovely Marisa Tomei. For some reason this film has always stuck in my head and after introducing a friend to it today, I just had to share it with you too.

Only You

Plot: As a girl a Ouija board reveals to Faith the name of her future beloved. Just days before her wedding, she discovers her fiancée has a friend with that very name! She impulsively follows him to Italy with her sensible sister in law to find the man she is meant to be with... And find him she does... Or does she?

Cast: Marisa Tomei (Crazy Stupid Love), Robert Downey Jnr (The Avengers), Bonnie (Cheaper by the Dozen), Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit)

Watch the trailer

Like this? See
One Fine Day
While You Were Sleeping

Sweeping scenery and a love story to match

To celebrate the birthday of my gorgeous sister, here is my review of her favourite film.

It's an oldie but a goodie and packs an all star cast including a not so well known Colin Firth. For all the heroes he plays, he's quite the villain and visa versa for Ralph Fiennes! It's interesting how people's impression of an actor is derived from their first experience of them. Now you may see someone in many movies but they don't make an impact on you until a particular role stands out. In fact, I adore watching older movies and looking for actors in small roles who are now well known - I'm looking at you Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank! But I digress...

As such there seems to be a real divide in how people feel about Fiennes. Some really love him as a sweetheart. Others think his cold black heart should freeze in hell. It's because despite beibg around long before, filmgoers of the nineties strongest encounters with him were either The English Patient (the nice guy) or Schindler's List (the really bad guy). And a whole new generation of kids is being terrified by him as Harry Potter's He Who Must Not Be Named!

Likewise, this was the role that would move Kristin Scott Thomas from the friend in Four Weddings and a Funeral to leading lady.

Either way, stellar performances and a tight script with stunning cinematography  makes this well worth revisiting. I mean, come on, it won 9 Oscars including Best Picture!

Check out...

The English Patient

Plot: As the end is nigh for WWII, a nurse cares for a man badly burned who recounts his astonishing tale.

Cast: Ralph Fiennes (The Reader), Kristin Scott Thomas (Easy Virtue), Juliette Binoche (Chocolat), Naveen Andrews (Lost), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Willem Dafoe (The Hunter)

Like this? See
The Power of One
Lawrence of Arabia


A lot of people missed this one when it came out in cinemas (myself included) but it’s a really charming comedy about one family’s unusual solution for overcoming hard times. Based on the novel of the same name, Cameron Crowe is back to his excellent best.

I couldn't resist a family movie starring the irrepressible Matt Damon.  He's charismatic, handsome and just a little bit goofy.  

I've never really understood the whole Scarlett Johanssen thing (maybe it's connected to the part of my brain that go for Woody Allen...) but she's pretty good in this, though sidebar - it doesn't ask a lot of her though ;)

But bonus, Angus McFadyen - you may remember him as Braveheart's Robert the Bruce - whom I haven't seen in anything for many years!  And there's plenty of other great supporting cast.

Check out...

We Bought a Zoo

PLOT: Seeking a fresh start, a father moves his young family to the countryside.  Their perfect house comes with an interesting addition to the backyard – a struggling zoo and its staff.

CAST: Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity), Scarlett Johannson (The Avengers), Thomas Hayden Church (Sideways), Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous)

Watch the trailer

Like this? See:

  • The Best Marigold Hotel
  • Life As We Know It
  • Far Off Place

TRIVIA: The REAL Benjamin Mee and his family are in the final scenes!


I love a good high school movie. Not your average Ron com mind you though they have their place, but something clever which really captures that uniquely shared experience that was one's formative years.

This is not your typical high school film. So much so it experienced poor WOM referral upon its release when people misinterpreted its genre!

But I love its sardonic wit and the way it playfully holds a mirror up to those bullies who drape themselves in the cloak of cause.

I highly recommend...


Plot: When a naive teenage girl falls pregnant, the notices parallels between her life and the parables taught at her evangelical high school confuse her.

Cast: Jena Malone (Pride & Prejudice), Macaulay Culkin (My Girl), Mandy Moore (American Dreamz), Patrick Fugit (We Bought A Zoo)

Like this? See

Easy A
Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion
Ten things I Hate About You 

Who are you really?

I know I'm binging a bit on the thrillers at the moment but sometimes we all need a bit of a prod to get the adrenaline going.

And seriously what a cast!!

I'm hesitant to give too much away about this except to say it all comes down to ten strangers, a rundown motel in the middle of nowhere (but of course!), a dark and stormy night (it had to be right?!) and a mystery that binds them... Cue the creepy soundtrack and creaking door!

Turn out the lights and scare yourself silly with...


Plot: Ten strangers, stranded at a run down motel in the middle of a violent storm begin mysteriously disappearing. What connects these endangered travellers?

Cast: John Cusack (Con Air), Amanda Peet (Studio 60), Clea Duvall (Canivale), Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), Alfred Mollina (Chocolat), John C McGinley (Scrubs), Rebecca de Mornay (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Trapped)

Watch the trailer

Like this? See
The Sixth Sense
The Machinist
Runaway Jury

A worldly woman

I stumbled across this one night screening on free to air tv and wondered why it didn't catch my attention earlier. Now there's every possibility I saw Nicole Kidman and simply dismissed it as I usually find her irritating. Yes, I know it's very unpatriotic of me but you must admit she was consistently annoying for awhile there! 

This however actually changed my mind about Kidman. To hold her own with the likes of Penn and Keener she'd have to have some substance on screen... Here she actually does a pretty good job though the accent waxes and wanes a bit. I found thus a thoroughly entertaining thriller with a few unexpected turns here and there along the way. Even if you have no interest in international relations you should check out...

The Interpreter

Plot: An interpreter at the UN inadvertently overhears someone plotting  an assassination but the secret service agent assigned to protect her believes there's more to her than meets the eye.

Cast: Nicole Kidman (The Hours), Sean Penn (Milk), Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich)

Watch the trailer 

Like this? See
The Game
The Machinist

Playin' around

Thrillers are a bit of a mixed bag since what thrills varies from person to person.  Some people consider horror to fit in the category while others are thrilled merely by the presence of a favourite actor.

But a thriller should be spine tingling but rely on twists and turns in the plot ie good writing to generate the thrill without being overly gory. Thrillers are an absolute favourite of mine but it's rare these days to get a truly decent one... Often the plot twists become so predictable they're basically straight lines!!

So cast your dvd net back to a time when John Grisham was peaking in popularity and you 'didn't see that coming'. Personally I'm not a big fan of Mr Douglas. Much like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, I feel he's best when his character leaches smarminess or sleaze. In this, he works. Sean Penn is another actor whom I greatly admire but don't really like. Here he is far from the perfect brother... or is he?

Check out...


Plot: What do you get the man who has everything? Wealthy financier Nicholas finds out when his brother unexpectedly gives him a unique birthday experience - live action gaming - which ultimately consumes his life!

Cast: Michael Douglas (A Perfect Murder), Sean Penn (Milk)

Dir: David Fincher (Se7en)

Watch the trailer

Like this? See

  • Identity
  • The Machinist

Bringing up baby

I like Samantha Mathis. She kind of dropped off the old radar but I rewatch older stuff with her in it and can't think why. Granted she's a bit frothy but still, charming. I remember this as being poorly marketed, the ugly British cousin of 3 Men & a Baby, and yet ultimately worth a watch. Perhaps I just enjoyed Grant's floundering first attempts at fatherhood! 

I particularly loved the concerned and ultimately brave grandparents in this including the irrepressible Dame Judi Dench. And Ian 'Gandalf' McKellan is delightful as the not so qualified butler lol!

Check out...


CAST Richard E Grant (Withnail & I), Samantha Mathis (Broken Arrow)

PLOT A devastated man is left holding the baby when his wife dies in childbirth. Enter an easy going, American, waitress/nanny to breathe of new life into the situation.

No girls allowed

When it comes to Shakespeare, you can be a purist , a modernist or just a big fan. I can be all three! In fact my daughter is named for a vivacious young woman in Twelfth Night. I adore modern interpretations (when done well) but occasionally prefer original treatment. Indeed Luhrmann's R+J is about the only one of his films I can stomach. (I mean I get his style, I just don't like it!) 

But I have a caveat... Gwyneth. Now you all know my feelings about her stealing an Oscar from our Cate over a decade ago. (And if you don't I'll spare you... this time!)

Well, not too long after Shakespeare allegedly fell in love with a scamp of a lady, the actors famed for his female roles such as Desdemona and Juliet were ousted by their female counterparts. Stripped of all masculinity, these great men not only lost themselves in their roles but then themselves when that very livelihood was also stripped from them!!

This tells the tale of one such man and the woman who may yet take everything from him.

This has a superb cast and the sets and costumes are just gorgeous! Crudup is sensational, the very model of androgyny. And long before she was an Emmy winning Homeland analyst, Danes proved  she was more than just the girl who played Juliet. And Rupert Everett is, as ever, a rompy delight!

I highly recommend...

Stage Beauty

PLOT: When the first actresses begin to grace stages across London, the impact on 'female' actors is heavy. What will become of them and do the actresses who replaced them possess talent or mere shock factor?

CAST: Billy Crudup (Almost Famous), Claire Danes (Homeland), Rupert Everett (St Trinian's).

Watch the trailer

Like this? See

  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Twelfth Night
  • O

Best laid plans

So the Ryans have become rather popular over the past decade.  Now I don't wanna toot my own horn but when everyone was raving about Ryan Reynolds I was backing the other one, a little known former child star, The Baby Goose.  I do adore a bit of Reynolds and anyone who can steal focus from my fave, Nathan Fillion, has got the goods, I think Gosling has the staying power - just look at the number of films he's been in this year alone!

Sandra Bullock stars and although she's a very good comedienne, I reckon she had dramatic chops way before The Blind Side.

And while The Notebook got everyone on my bandwagon re Gosling, here's where my respect for him began...

Murder By Numbers

PLOT: Two teenagers, both extremely bright but socially, commit the perfect crime just to prove they can.  But an equally intelligent detective with a unique insight and passion for justice may just be the perfect adversary.

CAST: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond The Pines), Michael Pitt (The Village), Ben Chaplin (Stage Beauty, The Thin Red Line)

Watch the trailer

Like this? See

  • A Time To Kill
  • The Gift
  • A Perfect Murder

Stay on track

I recently saw Flight and it was terrific and yet not at all what I expected. This movie was much the same. It didn't get a lot of promo at the time but it has a stellar cast and is directed by the formidable Tony Scott. Trawling back over his career upon his passing last year, I was almost stunned by the number of films I just love!

Here's just a few:
Deja Vu
Man on Fire
The Last Boy Scout
Crimson Tide
Enemy of the State
Top Gun
Days of Thunder

This was his last film directing.

So if you missed it first time around, get back on track with...


PLOT A cargo train almost 1km long, carrying hazardous material is unmanned and speeding toward a densely populated city... Will two engineers, on the first day working together, be able to stop something so big travelling so fast?!

CAST Denzel Washington (Flight), Chris Pine (Star Trek, Bottle Shock), Rosario Dawson (Eagle Eye)

DIR the late, great Tony Scott (Deja vu, Top Gun)

Watch the trailer

Keep your childish innocence

I really don't know how to describe this except to say it was pleasantly surprising. Not your typical thirtysomethings NYC tale. Not a Romcom, not a drama but inciteful and charming. Check it out...

Fun fact: the film was written and directed by and stars Josh Radnor aka Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother!


PLOT Follows six young people each on the cusp of discovery as they navigate love and life.

CAST Josh Radnor (HIMYM), Malin Akerman (27 Dresses), Tony Hale (Arrested Development), Kate Mara (Brokeback Mountain, Entourage).

Watch the trailer

Like this? See

  • No Reservations
  • Midnight in Paris

Pancakes for everyone!

I recently revisited Despicable Me, re-screened on tv to promote its sequel's imminent release and it got me thinking about another of Steve Carel's roles. It's a similar job description, suffered by many before him including, most famously, Mr Bennet, a title affectionately referred to as Abu El Banat by Jed Bartlett and a role executed supremely by my own excellent paternal role model... it is Father of Daughters.

This is a really offbeat comedy about the dysfunction only family creates with moments that ring true and either delight or sting as a result. It has a terrific cast (as does almost everything I recommend to you!) with nuanced performances and a family you both wish you were a part of and are dreadfully grateful you aren't!

Check out...

Dan in Real Life

Plot: Taking time out from a weekend away with his extended family, widower and daggy father of three daughters, Dan meets the perfect woman. But there's a surprise waiting for him at home that complicates things.

Cast: Steve Carell (Crazy Stupid Love), Juliet Binoche (Chocolat) Dianne Wiest (The Birdcage), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), John Mahoney (Frasier), Emily Blunt (Wild Target)

Director: Peter Hedges (About A Boy)

Watch the trailer

Like this. See:
* What's Eating Gilbert Grape
* Definitely, Maybe
* As Good As It Gets

Keep it in the family

With the infiltration of S&M lingo into mainstream media, everyone seems to have a safe word these days. As for me, post Fight Club I strive to find my cave in which to 'slide'. 
I often find having a scene which always makes me smile can lift even the most dampened spirit. A pivotal scene in this became my happy place this year. 

I wasn't too sure what to expect from a movie that starts with a wife asking for a divorce and then follows the broken man that results from this event but if there's a guy I want to see pull through it, it's Carell. Maybe it's because I never watched The Office and missed his forays into Wil Ferrell film territory, but I find his more dramatic performances have the bruises of stark reality.

Julianne Moore and Emma Stone are also big favourites of mine, especially when given opportunity to flex their respective comedic talents.

And, like DiCaprio, Gosling had previously proven himself as vastly more than the heartthrob people later labelled him. 

Check out...

Crazy Stupid Love

Plot: While navigating the dating scene following his separation from his childhood sweetheart wife, Cal meets ladies man Jacob who coaches him through the rediscovery of his manhood, which will ultimately improve them both.

Cast: Steve Carell (Dan In Real Life), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine, The Notebook), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are Allright, A Single Man), Emma Stone (Easy A), Marisa Tomei (Only You), Kevin Bacon (The Following)

Watch the trailer 

Like this? See

  • Dan In Real Life
  • Happythankyoumoreplease


In the tradition of the best of John Grisham this movie surprised me. It is very well acted by two stellar leading men and the plot twists but not in an overly predictable manner. Check out 


A lawyer keen to fast track his career is waylaid by a cunning criminal who has committed the perfect murder.

Dir: Gregory Hoblit (Untraceable, Primal Fear)

Cast: Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines, Drive), Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day), Embeth Davitz (Bicentennial Man), Billy Burke (Twilight)

Watch the trailer

Like This? See

  • Murder by Numbers
  • The Lincoln Lawyer

Austen it up

I'm in a bit of a funk this week and, having watched a bit of Elementary and The Following so having Jonny Lee Miller & James Purefoy in my mind, found myself craving a bit of Austen. 

While most people are more familiar with adaptations of Austen's other work (P&P, S&S, Emma) I still enjoy a bit of Mansfield Park. My favourite adaptation came out after the hugely popular BBC Colin Firth version of P&P and the Oscar winning S&S by which time movie goers were a tad over Austened. But check out this cast... 

Frances O'Connor (A.I.)
Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary)
Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey)
James Purefoy (The Following)
Alessandro Nivola (Junebug)
Embeth Davidz (Fracture)
Lindsay Duncan (Under the Tuscan Sun)
Sophia Myles (Tristan & Isolde)

I do love when an Australian is cast as the lead in a very English production! And it's about to be rereleased on DVD next week. Check it out.

Mansfield Park

Watch the trailer

PS Interestingly Jonny Lee Miller has appeared in two Austen adaptations, this one and as Knightley in 2009's Emma.

Italy on a budget

My handsome hubby delighted me with this week's movie on DVD. It's a real favourite of mine due to its charming story of self discovery, regardless of romanticism. Based on the memoirs of Frances Mayes.

I highly recommend...


Dir: Audrey Wells

Cast: Diane Lane (Unfaithful), Sandra Oh (Sideways), Lindsay Duncan (Lost in Austen)

Plot: While on vacation in Italy, a recently divorced writer buys a villa on a whim in the hope it might start a change in her life for the better (imdb).

Watch the trailer 

Nun too bad

So it's been quite awhile since my last post. My apologies, that's what happens when you love your job, buy a house then have a baby.

But we are back in business with a new look and to celebrate, I'll keep it short and sweet. This is the best film I've seen of late, recommended over and over again to me I finally saw it and wow! I never really got the hoopla about Jeremy Renner. He was great in The Hurt Locker and I always liked him in SWAT but with his aggressive performance in The Town, I'm on the bandwagon!
Affleck really made his mark behind the camera with Gone Baby Gone, a gritty twist on whodunit. The Town is dark, humanistic and you won't guess where it's going... Plus lovely throwbacks to Point Break ;)


Dir: Ben Affleck

Cast: Ben Affleck (Argo), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), Rebecca Hall (The Prestige), Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Plot: Falling for the victim of his last heist and with a determined FBI agent closing in, bank robber Doug attempts to avoid that one last job that could end it all.

Watch the trailer

Like this?  See
  • Heat
  • Layer Cake
  • Point Break

Maximum security space

Remember when action films had the thinnest of plots, basically just a premise, but they were incredibly fun?! They starred some geezer hired for physique over acting chops? Villians were vile and even a bit mental? And the hero took smart arsery to a whole new level?

Now picture a film with all this but a truly talented actor at the helm. This is Lockout. The trailer had me in the first comeback! And a pretty rip snorting cast too.

I highly recommend a romp with...


Dir: James Mather & Stephen St Leger

Cast: Guy Pearce (Prometheus, LA Confidential), Maggie Grace (Taken)

Plot: A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the President's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.

Watch the trailer 

Like this? See\

  • The Last Boy Scout
  • Die Hard
  • True Lies