Archive for the ‘Girl’s Night In’ Category

DVD Rental – Top 10 Favourite Films

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Favourite FilmsWith some highly anticipated, potential mega-hits coming out this summer, including Alien semi-prequel Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, along with the recently released Avengers Assemble, we thought we would find the Top 10 Favourite Films of All Time, as voted by our readers.

We expected some people would dodge the obvious and somewhat clichéd classics, like Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia and, of course, Piranha 3D. We didn’t expect such a great mix of movies, with horror, comedy, action and romance all getting a look-in.

Yes, the big winner is perhaps expected, but there are some surprises in there, and we think it shows the continued diversity of both modern cinema and the UK’s own film fanatics.

So without further rambling, here is the list, counting down from 10.

10. Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s revolutionary sci-fi smash-hit, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, saw Harrison Ford’s Deckard chase down replicants in a dystopian future. Rutger Hauer gave Han Solo a sound hiding, and Sean Young was great as reluctant replicant Rachael.

9. Alien

Ridley again, and with his success rate for sci-fi it seems guaranteed that upcoming Alien prequel-of-sorts Prometheus should be a classic. This 1979 game-changer is often credited with revolutionising the heroine character, as well as introducing the surprise-shock ending which has become a stalwart in horror. And who could forget that famous chest-burster scene? Grim.

8. The Goonies

The Goonies, helmed by Superman and Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner, featured a young Samwise Gamgee (also known as Sean Astin) and friends trying to find the lost fortune of One-Eyed Willie. You wouldn’t need three guesses to work out that Spielberg is heavily involved behind the scenes in this charming family adventure.

7. The Notebook

This surprise entry doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings, as yank at them incessantly whilst showing you pictures of kittens. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams do the unrequited, forbidden love thing, then mum gets angry, then the two separate for years only to stumble upon each other, both faced with a great decision to make. But who is telling the story?

6. Crash (2004)

Not to be mistaken with Cronenberg’s mid-nineties gag reflex test of the same name, Crash is an inventive, compelling and beautifully crafted examination of racial prejudices, told through several intertwining stories set in Los Angeles. It really is a modern classic; funny, gripping, engaging, unpredictable and original, Paul Haggis’ movies is simply a must-see, with stellar performances from the likes of Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe and Thandie Newton.


The Proposal

Friday, October 30th, 2009

proposalSandra Bullock plays boss-from-hell Margaret Tate, the ferocious senior editor at a New York publishing company, who terrorises her colleagues, sacks her employees on a whim and will go to any measure to secure an Oprah interview for one of her colleagues. But there’s one stumbling block to her success. She’s Canadian, and having neglected to sign some immigration papers, finds herself on the brink of deportation.

Fumbling for a solution, Margaret has a brainwave: marry an American, and the coveted green card is hers for the taking. Since all the men she knows are far too scared of her to consider a romantic attachment, let alone matrimony, she blackmails her underling Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) into marrying her, and he in turn demands a promotion and the publication of his first novel.


17 Again

Friday, August 21st, 2009

17 AgainUpdating the body-swap genre for a teenage audience, 17 Again stars young heartthrob Zac Efron as a failed sports star who is given another chance at life.

Forty-something Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) can only be described as a loser. Unemployed and on the brink of a divorce, he dreams of the days when he excelled on the school basketball team and dated the prettiest girl in the class, little knowing her pregnancy would mean the end of his dreams of sports-stardom and a prestigious college scholarship. Then one day during a nostalgia trip to his old school he meets a mysterious, twinkly-eyed caretaker and falls into a Twilight Zone vortex to emerge as a muscle-bound Zac Efron, aka Mike aged 17. His body may have regressed 20 years, but his surroundings are very much as they left him: same wife, same kids, same problems.



Sunday, July 5th, 2009

junoJason Reitman’s Juno must be the best comedy of 2007. Dealing with the messy issue of teenage pregnancy, the film is touching, witty and insightful, without slipping into mawkishness or didacticism. Ellen Page positively shines in her role as the plucky and kind-hearted Juno, whilst professional stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody fashions a potentially turgid storyline into a brightly articulate comedy.

Ellen Page plays Juno McGuff, a 16 year old high school student who decides that it’s time she experienced sex, and enlists her less than eager best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) to help. The inevitable happens and Juno initially opts for a quick abortion, until she takes a trip to the drab, industrial estate clinic and gets cold feet. Juno thinks she is too young to raise the child herself, and, following the suggestion of her cheerleading friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), sets about finding a pair of adoptive parents through adverts placed in the local free newspaper.


The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

40-year-old-virginSex has become such an idol in modern times, and especially in Hollywood, it’s difficult to understand how a middle-aged man could have spent his life avoiding it. In one of his funniest movies to date, Judd Apatow, creator of such off-beat gems as Anchorman, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express, presents us with just such a creature.

Meet Andy Stitzer (Steve Carrell, who also co-wrote), the titular ante-hero who has spent years of bachelordom collecting action hero figurines and making egg mayonnaise sandwiches. Working in the stockroom of an electronics store by day and watching Survivor with his elderly neighbours by night (“I’ll bring the soda!”), Andy seems unlikely to ever woo a woman to bed – until three of his fellow workers stumble upon his secret.


Definitely Maybe

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

definitely_maybe“I’m gonna tell you the story and I’m not telling you who your mum is, you have to figure that out for yourself. I’m gonna change all of the names and some of the facts…”

This is the way that advertising manager Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) introduces his confused premarital history to his precocious ten-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine), who has come home after a school class on the birds and the bees. And whilst Hayes presents his philanderings in the sweetest way possible, this is definitely no children’s fairy tale. As Maya puts it, “it’s like a love-story-mystery!”, and the poor girl is stuck in the middle, wondering whether she is nothing more than the result of a drunken party.


Mostly Martha (Bella Martha)

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

mostly-martha1A welcome addition to that sub-genre of films depicting dour north Europeans falling for Latino charm (c.f. Italian for Beginners), Mostly Martha is a German comedy from writer/director Sandra Nettleback about a workaholic chef who has to force herself out of her fixation and learn to live a bit.

Martha (Martina Gedeck) is head chef of a fancy Hamburg restaurant who has no problem with lecturing customers who object to the texture of her fois gras. Her obsessive attitude towards her work has kept her single and her colleagues at arm’s length. Because of her phenomenal culinary abilities (she is reputedly the second best chef in Hamburg) and dedication to her work, her boss, Frida (Sibylle Canonica), cuts Martha plenty of slack. In spite of regular appointments with a therapist, played by August Zirner, Martha finds it difficult to control her temper in and out of the kitchen. On one occasion she throws a raw slab of meat at a customer who complains that his steak is overdone. Even her kindly new neighbour Sam (Ulrich Thomsen), for whom she offers to cook, fails to remove the deep furrows from her brow.


Miss Potter

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

beatrix-pWatching Renee Zellweger scribble frantically into a notebook whilst musing to herself in characteristic British staccato, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled upon another Bridget Jones sequel. But whilst Brigit and Beatrix may share some character traits, the latter emerges as a brilliant, headstrong woman whose continual struggle against her restrictive upper-class background pays its returns.

Set in turn of the century London, Miss Potter begins in the publishing house of Frederick Warne and Sons, where Beatrix is hoping to secure a contract for her first book, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, after several failed attempts with other establishments. The proprietors decide to take her on as a first project for their younger brother, Norman (Ewan McGregor), who is looking for a leg-up into the industry. Far from dismissing Beatrix’ tale as no more than childish scribbling, as do his brothers, Norman is as fascinated by her illustrations as she is and helps to propel the book into the bestseller lists. Beatrix strikes up a friendship with Norman’s sister Millie (Emily Watson) and eventually Norman proposes, much to the chagrin of Beatrix’ snobbish parents who shudder at the thought of their only daughter marrying into “trade” and insist the engagement be kept secret.


Forgetting Sarah Marshall – out now

Friday, September 19th, 2008

After the successful fusion of uninhibited bawdiness and showbiz satire in The 40 Year Old Virgin and pregnancy-centric rom-com Knocked Up, current chieftain of Hollywood comedy Judd Apatow looks to have scored another hit with Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Once again he takes a situation that really shouldn’t be funny – in this case the break-down of a long-term relationship – and sucks from it every last drop of laughs.

When Peter Bretter (Jason Segel), a genial underachiever who composes incidental music for American TV shows, is dumped by his beautiful actress girlfriend, Sarah Marhall (Kristen Bell), he is devastated. Standing stark naked in his kitchen and weeping buckets, he begs her to stay, but to no avail – her success has outstripped his and she has bigger fish to fry. He seeks solace in one-night stands but is haunted by Sarah’s memory. Tired of womanising, he takes advice from his step-brother Brian (Bill Hader) and escapes to Hawaii, only to discover that Sarah and her rock star boyfriend Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) are staying in the same hotel. The set up is textbook farce. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of Rachel (Mila Kunis), the pretty hotel receptionist with whom Peter strikes up a relationship.


Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – out now

Monday, August 18th, 2008

The beguilingly titled Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is based on writer/director’s Dai Saijie’s best-selling autobiographical novel of the same name. Set in the Chinese Cultural Revolution during the 1970’s, the film centres around two adolescents who have committed the sin of being born to “reactionary” parents – doctors who dared to suggest that Chairman Mao might not be entirely perfect. On account of their background, the boys are sent on a rural “re-education” camp where they are to learn the virtues of Maoist thinking and hard work, which includes much lugging of human excrement up a hill.

However, their gruelling stay is brightened by meeting the captivating daughter of the local tailor, known simply as the Little Seamstress (the boys never bother to find out her actual name). An uneducated peasant, the two bourgeois city-boys seek to open her mind through forbidden Western novels which they have stolen from another member of the camp — classics from the likes of Dickens, Flaubert and, yes, Balzac, the Little Seamstress’ favourite. The boys also read “The Count of Monte Christo” to the old grandfather, which inspires him to add many elegant details to his garments.