Top Ten Xmas Movies For Kids

A Happy Christmas Infant Flowers Victorian Xmas Card

Xmas is a time for family, yes, but when you add children to the mix, it becomes extra special. Nothing can build holiday excitement faster than seeing the wonder on small faces as they watch the Xmas lights or visit Santa at the store.

One way to build your children’s anticipation is to sit down with them and drink a delicious hot chocolate while watching a much-loved holiday movie. Continue reading

Advertisements

Top Ten Xmas Movies

 

 

Vintage Sign Old Car with Christmas Tree 700px

The holidays are almost upon us. As they approach, we will engage in many pastimes peculiar to the season. We will shop for gifts, sing Xmas carols, decorate our home and indulge in the treats we might normally deny ourselves.

One of my favourite activities in the lead up to the holidays is relaxing with my family in front of the television, with a glass of Xmas cheer, and enjoying a good Xmas movie. Continue reading

Top Ten Stephen King Films

 

 

stephen_king

Photo Credit: Shane Leonard

I am a huge fan of Stephen King and one of the things I love most about his writing is his ability to populate his worlds. Every character, no matter how minor, has a role. Every character, no matter how minor, has a back story. Where other authors will simply refer to ‘the cashier’ or ‘the truck driver’, King will give these people a name and a family. He’ll tell us a little about their lives and how their day has been so far.

In many cases he even links them to characters in other novels or stories that he has written. A character mentioned in passing in one story may play a pivotal role in another. A favourite character in the novel you read yesterday may be briefly mentioned in the short story you read today.

It is for this reason that I have always been a proponent of King’s books over their movie adaptations. There is a depth to his novels that just doesn’t seem to carry over into film.

That said, not being as good as the novel, does not necessarily translate as ‘bad’. There are plenty of enjoyable films based on works by Stephen King, some of which have a place on my mental list of favourite films. Continue reading

My Top Ten Favourite Actors

Geoffrey Rush

At any given time, there are dozens of actors in the limelight. Some of these stay for a very brief moment before disappearing back into obscurity. Others hang around a bit longer, landing roles in whatever blockbuster is the hit … Continue reading

What is Yaoi?

I have had a few queries as to what yaoi is and, rather than send people off to consult Professor Google, I thought I would make a (somewhat pathetic) attempt at explaining things here. In simple terms, yaoi is anime … Continue reading

Must see movies…

Everybody has a list of movies that they love – movies that they could happily watch over and over and over again. Everybody has heard the groans of friends and family as they played that one favourite movie for the umpteenth time. Sometimes, though, a movie can be worth watching without becoming a favourite. You may not even enjoy the movie to begin with but it has some message that ought to be heard. Or maybe you did enjoy the movie but not enough to make it a favourite. Perhaps you simply felt the film had artistic merit. Whatever the case, we all know of at least one movie that we feel everybody should see, and I am no different. So here is my list of movies that everybody should see at least once before they die.

Grave of the Fireflies

This is, without doubt, one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. Set in Japan in the final days of World War II, it tells the story of two orphaned siblings and their struggle to survive in a world gone mad. A word of warning – make sure you have a box of tissues handy. Even my (then 6 years old) son cried at the end of this movie.

He Died With A Felafel In His Hand

He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (film)

He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Australian movie about living in shared housing in the eighties. Hilarious!

Scent of a Woman

In my opinion, this is the best movie Al Pacino has ever done, with the possible exception of The Godfather.

V for Vendetta

Set in a near-future dystopian society where Britain is ruled by a fascist theocracy. This is a story about the power of the people – we can only be oppressed if we allow it. In light of recent world events, I feel this is a movie everybody should see.

Little Shop of Horrors

A classic eighties musical about a very unique plant.

Kelly’s Heroes

Worth watching, if only to see Donald Sutherland’s Oddball performance.

Medicine Man

What if you found the cure for Cancer – and lost it? Sean Connery stars in this movie about a brilliant scientist, a lost cure and a race against time.

84 Charing Cross Road

Based on a true story, and starring Anthony Hopkins, this is one of the greatest love stories ever told.

10 Canoes

A parable of forbidden love from Australia’s mythical past, with storytelling by Australian icon David Gulpilil (Crocodile Dundee and Rabbit-Proof Fence) and starring his son Jamie as the covetous youth Dayindi.

Das Boot

Life aboard a German submarine in the middle of a war. You really must watch this in German, though.

Hard Candy

What happens when a paedophile picks up the wrong girl? I should warn you, though – this film is not for the squeamish.

LadyHawke

A classic tale of magic, romance, curses and vengeance.

The Princess Bride

A fairy tale even the grown-ups can enjoy.

Cover of "Jim Henson's Fantasy Film Colle...

Cover via Amazon

The Dark Crystal

This was one of my favourite movies when I was a kid. Now, I get to enjoy it with my own kids.

Labyrinth

This was very popular when I was kid, though I did not enjoy it. I like to watch it now, though, and my kids love it.

Harold and Maude

A seventies film about life, death and the love that grows between the teenaged Harold and the elderly Maude.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

This cult classic needs no explanation.

Alien vs Ninja

Weird but awesome!

The Shawshank Redemption

An innocent man is sentenced to life in prison, but he never loses hope. It sounds boring but, believe me, it isn’t.

Pan’s Labyrinth

For those of us who still believe and those who wish they could.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Still one of the best war movies ever made.

Gallipoli

A great Australian film about a terrible time in Australia’s history.

Kokoda

The true story of how the People’s Militia – untrained, untried, volunteer soldiers – prevented the invasion of Australia.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

I personally find this movie boring, but it tells an important story about war history.

Cover of "The Bridge on the River Kwai"

Cover of The Bridge on the River Kwai

Edward Scissorhands

A beautiful story about love, jealousy and what it is to be different.

The Lion King

I know this is a kids movie, but you’re never too old for The Lion King and this is one of my favourites!

Spirited Away

A wonderful film by Studio Ghibli about a little girl trapped in the world of spirits.

Howl’s Moving Castle

A Studio Ghibli film about a woman cursed, a wizard, a fire demon and an enchanted castle.

Ponyo

A Studio Ghibli film centered on a 5-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who longs to become human.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

On the Threshold, Edmund Blair Leighton

On the Threshold, Edmund Blair Leighton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We are told this all the time. What it really means, of course, is “Get to know someone before you decide whether or not you like them.” Because, when it comes to books and movies, we all judge them by their cover. We do not read a book before we purchase it. We look at the cover, the title and the blurb, and decide from that. It is similar with movies. We check out the teasers and the trailers and use them to decide whether to bother seeing it or not.

Most of the time, these methods work. After all, we all know what we like, right?

Sometimes, though, we could be missing out on something good.

When I first joined BookCrossing, my reading tastes were quite limited. I loved reading, but most of the books I read were from the same few genres. Being a part of BookCrossing has meant exposure to many books I would not have looked twice at before. One thing that surprised me was how much I enjoyed reading Regency Romance. I hate Mills & Boon type novels, so I thought that I would dislike all romance. I was wrong.

The same applies to movies (well, anime, anyway). I was shocked to discover that I actually enjoy watching yaoi. The reason this is so shocking is because I have absolutely no interest in watching live action gay porn. I have also found that, by watching films that interest other people, I have found some real treasures that I would have turned my nose up at before.

So, when you hear the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, apply it literally as well as figuratively.

Have you ever been surprised by a book or movie?

textbook finish or creative close?

Cover of "Pan's Labyrinth [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Pan’s Labyrinth [Blu-ray]

I know that there have been movies where I have sat there and said ‘I hate that ending, they should have done this or that’, but for the life of me I cannot think of any right now. Instead, I will make a general comment on the types of endings I don’t like. For one thing, I don’t like your stereotypical hollywood happily ever after type ending. It really bugs me when the end of the movie can pretty much be predicted from the minute you press play. I mean, what’s the point of watching?

I think that might be why I like foreign films so much. They don’t feel so bound to the textbook script. They are happy to experiment and give free rein to their creativity. Thus, endings are less predictable, more of a surprise.

Another thing I like about foreign films is their realism. I can’t stand endings that wrap everything up in a neat little package. Really, when was the last time events in your life worked out perfectly, no loose ends, no messy consequences? Life is simply not like that. I know that people often see movies to escape from the reality of their lives, but a little realism is OK, you know?

The other type of ending I dislike is having everything all spelled out for the viewer. Really, we do have brains. You do not need to cater to us like children.

I tend to enjoy endings that are unique, ambiguous or have some level of realism. If you want to see some examples of good movie endings, check out the following films:

* Grave of the Fireflies
* High Tension (Haute Tension)
* The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
* Pan’s Labyrinth
* Hard Candy
* Nailed
* The Ferryman
* Das Boot
* Irreversible

I should warn you though, that many of these films are quite graphic and some are emotionally disturbing, so watch at your own risk.

What kind of movie endings do you like? Are there any that you would change if you could?