Monday, April 30, 2012

Zulu (1964)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
The British garrison at Rorke's Drift comes under attack from the Zulus.

After a crushing defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana, the Zulu army is advancing on a small British garrison at Rorke's Drift to deal another blow to the British invasion of Zululand.

Meanwhile, at the garrison the British hear about their defeat. A group of bridge builders from the Royal Engineers led by Lieutenant John Chard (Stanley Baker) join up with the contingent led by Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (Michael Caine) where the latter is put out to find himself outranked by Chard due to duration of service.

As the sounds of marching Zulus approaching grows louder, Chard realises he cannot outrun the Zulus, especially because of the military hospital that dominates the base. Chard, under constant scrutiny from Bromhead, orders bags and crates of food to be stacked up to form a makeshift wall. Behind this, the British make their final stand.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

164 - Far From Heaven (2002)

In 1950's America, scandal is afoot.

Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) has it all. A perfect house in 1957 Connecticut, an endearing husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid), and son, and friends that she often sees to talk about the menial things in life.

When Frank fails to show up for dinner one evening though, the security of her life comes crumbling down around her. As she struggles to go on with her daily life she finds friendship with a black man, Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), the son of her late gardener.

This friendship only causes more tongues to wag - being seen talking to a black man was highly controversial at the time - and this, in turn, causes problems in Raymond's life.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Young Victoria (2009)

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Source: Wikipedia
Princess Victoria faces a power struggle once her father dies.

As the daughter of King William IV's (Jim Broadbent) brother, Princess Victoria (Emily Blunt) is first in line for the British throne. Because of her young age, she frequently attracts the attention of those wishing to wrest away the power from her grasp including her mother and Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), who wish for her to sign a covenant.

Her only support comes from a certain Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) who, despite being sent to seduce Victoria initially, forms a bond with the young Princess. When her father dies when she is 18-years-old though, there are plenty more people looking to wrest away her power and undermine her leadership.

Friday, April 27, 2012

XX/XY (2002)

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Source: IMP Awards
Three college friends meet up in later life.

During a college party Coles (Mark Ruffalo) meets Sam (Maya Stange) and Thea (Kathleen Robertson) and after a passionate night, the three of them start an awkward romance. As Sam and Coles get ever closer, Thea begins to go off the norm until they eventually part ways.

Eight years later the threesome meet up again and are forced to face feelings that they couldn't admit as students. Each of them is in a very different social position than before, but it appears that it is not very easy to forget the past.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

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Source: Wikipedia
A girl dreams of becoming a writer.

Shizuku Tsukishima is a star student attaining high grades at the final level of compulsory education despite her reluctance to follow everyone else into high school. One day as she reads through her library books she notices that they have all been taken out by the same person before her - the mysterious "Seiji Amasawa".

Later, as she travels on a train she notices a lone cat that appears to be travelling by itself. It gets off at the same stop as her and she decides to follow it. After it leads her to an old antiques shop run by Mr. Nishi, she enters on a path of self discovery and finds out who Seiji is.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Valhalla Rising (2009)

Danish Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
An escaped savage leads a group of Pagans into the Holy Land - which turns out to be their private Hell.

Silent killer One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) escapes from his captors, with a young boy following him closely. They stumble across a group of Pagans who, aware of One-Eye's reputation, persuade him to join them on an expedition to the Holy Land.

After days on the sea, the entourage lands but instead of the dry, arid land of Jerusalem they find a forest and clearing rich in water. They decide they must be in the wrong place, but as they try to escape, they find they are being stalked by something altogether more frightening.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Underworld (2003)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Despite the apparent extinction of the Lycans, the vampire clan face a renewed threat.

During a routine cull on the last remaining Lycans (werewolves), Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire, discovers that the Lycans have developed a new weapon for slaying their immortal enemies.

After Selene's discovery is dismissed by the vampire regent (Shane Brolly), she makes a further finding when she notices that the Lycans were tracking a human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman).

Despite the vampire legend telling of the killing of the Lycan leader (Michael Sheen) centuries ago, Selene finds him alive and well when she looks for Corvin. It seems that the battle isn't won just yet.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Trip To The Moon (1902)

Screenshot from A Trip To The Moon
After making being shot from a large gun to reach the moon, six astronomers are attacked a must find their way back to Earth safely.

Georges Méliès' A Trip To The Moon is renowned for being the very first science fiction movie and to create the illusion it uses a whole variety of techniques to mash together animation and real life. The sets are also ground breaking in achieving this with two dimensional cardboard cut-outs being used throughout to create a third dimensional feel that the actors could react with.

For a film that appeared at the beginning of the last Century the thoughts behind the story are remarkable. It took 67 years for Neil Armstrong to set foot on the moon, but here in 1902, Méliès brought his vision of astronauts being fired in a rocket-style space craft to life. Granted, the return to Earth wasn't so well thought out, but it does provide some modern humour.

Frankly, this film is probably the most important 12 minutes in the history of cinema. Look it up on YouTube now.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

163 - Fanny and Alexander (1982)

The Ekdahl children's lives change following the death of their father.

Emilie and Oscar Ekdahl are the owners of the local theatre group. They, along with their children Fanny and Alexander, form part of the larger Ekdahl family, led by their grandmother. Following one eventful Christmas, Oscar dies after having a stroke during a rehearsal. Emilie soon finds herself in love once more with the local priest, but soon finds his oppressive ways suffocating.

Meanwhile, there are numerous subplots involving the children's uncle Gustav and their maid Maj, and the grandmother's relationship with Isak, a Jewish antiques dealer.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

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Source: Wikipedia
The zombie apocalypse is coming, but Shaun has his own problems.

Shaun (Simon Pegg), a bored salesman, and his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) don't have much of a social life. In fact, it consists of spending their evenings down at The Winchester with Shaun's housemate Ed (Nick Frost) and Liz's flatmates David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis). Liz has had enough of their monotonous life though and leaves Shaun.

While Shaun's got his problems, GM crops are being blamed for strange mutations of dead humans who eat the living. Shaun does however, have a plan. Get Ed, get Liz, get his mum and take them all somewhere safe. It can't be that difficult, can it?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

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Source: Wikipedia
A modern take on the Shakespearean romantic tragedy.

The Montague family has been at loggerheads with the Capulet family for years. The rivalry starts with the eldest generations - Fulgencio Capulet and Ted Montague - and has now filtered down to their offspring to the point where gunfights terrorise the city, much to the disgust of Captain Prince (Vondie Curtis-Hall) - the Chief of Police.

While in disguise with their friend Mercutio (Harold Perrineau) at a Capulet party, the youngest Montague, Romeo (Leonardo Di Caprio) spots a young lady who seems to reciprocate his instant chemistry.

Unfortunately, the young lady is Juliet Capulet (Claire Danes) and as they declare their undying love for one another, her mother is arranging her marriage to a rich benefactor. Will Juliet defy her mother for her family's sworn enemy?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Queen (2006)

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Source: Wikipedia
During the toughest week of her 50 year reign, Queen Elizabeth II must make some life changing decisions.

It's 1997 and Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) has just been named the new British Prime Minister. His wife Cherie not exactly the biggest Royal fan, leading to a little awkward tension when Blair is sworn in by Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren).

The death of Princess Diana is announced a few weeks later causing the Queen to become a recluse. This is to the anger of the British people, who demand that the Royals make a public appearance. Can the newly elected Prime Minister persuade his Queen to respect the public's wishes?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Predator (1987)

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Source: Wikipedia
A group of commandos are preyed on by an unknown being.

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team of commandos are sent into the Central American jungles under the premise that they are there to find and rescue survivors from a helicopter crash.

They soon find that the mission is a cover up, but the deception soon becomes the least of their worries as they are hunted by a creature they cannot see or track.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Othello (1995)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
A Venetian guard shunned of being promoted to Lieutenant looks for revenge.

Othello, the moor of Venice (Laurence Fishburne), has just taken his new wife, Desdemona (Irene Jacob), without the permission of her father, Brabantio. Just as Brabantio looks for the return of his daughter, however, Othello is assigned to prevent the Turks from taking over Cyprus again.

Desdemona wishes to go with Othello so he brings her along with his trusted Lieutenant Cassio (Nathaniel Parker), and his ensign Iago (Kenneth Branagh).

Iago has his own reasons for going, having been shunned for promotion behind Cassio. Iago enlists the help of Roderigo, a disillusioned soldier who believes that Desdemona was previously promised to him, in order to build a web of lies that can only, ultimately, lead to tragedy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Notebook (2004)

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Source: Wikipedia
The Notebook is told from a notebook held by an elderly man to a fellow female patient and tells the story of a couple's love story.

Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) sees heiress Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) at a carnival in 1940, he is immediately taken in by her. Despite this, she resists his advances until their friends trick them into seeing each other and the romance begins.

He shows her a house he wishes to buy where she lays down what she would want should they be able to afford it. During this time they almost make love, but are interrupted when they learn that Allie's parents - who disapprove of Noah - are looking for her.

Her family leave their summer house the next day, and despite Noah's promises to write, she never receives his correspondence. They move on with their lives - Allie becomes engages to a rich gentleman (James Marsden) and Noah buys his dream house. They are thrown back together though when Allie sees Noah's photograph in a newspaper.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shrek The Third (2007)

Shrek The Third Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Shrek hunts for the royal heir.

The King of Far Far Away (John Cleese) is dying and while he is on his deathbed, Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) undertake some of his vital duties. These are less than successful and when the King pops his webbed clogs, Shrek goes is search of the other royal heir so that he can go back to his swamp for a bit of peace and quiet.

Meanwhile, the previously ousted Charming (Rupert Everett) has his own plans for a happy ending and sets about rounding up the traditional fairy tale bad guys in order to take over Far Far Away while Shrek is gone.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moon (2009)

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An astronaut nearing the end of his isolated 3 year shift on the moon starts to suspect something is amiss.

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), an astronaut working for Lunar Industries, is approaching the end of his 3 year shift on the moon harvesting energy for a futuristic Earth. His only companion is GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), an intelligent robot whose function is to help Sam with his missions.

A mixture of nerves and excitement about seeing his wife and young daughter arouse Sam into seeing people and objects around the station, despite him being the only one in it. Later, after an accident with a harvester, Sam makes a startling discovery that changes his entire outlook on his mission in space.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Labyrinth (1986)

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Source: Wikipedia
A girl must rescue her brother after accidentally calling Goblins to take him away.

Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) feels put upon by her parents, and after babysitting her little brother turns into a competition of who can shout the loudest, she wishes him away.

The Goblins from her favourite book, Labyrinth, are willing to oblige. They whisk him away into their King's (David Bowie) castle which is protected by a huge labyrinth.

Sarah travels to the Goblin world and vows to rescue her brother, but there's more to the labyrinth than meets the eye.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Knife In The Water (1962)

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Source: Wikipedia
A couple pick up a hitch-hiker and take him onto their boat.

Andrzej and Krystyna, a well off couple, swerve to avoid a hitch-hiker in the road. Andrzej angrily ridicules the hitch-hiker but then chooses to pick him up when he thinks that's what Krystyna would do. They couple take him to their sailing boat and invite him on board.

On board, the hitch-hiker and Andrzej begin a game that sees them both trying to get one over on the other. When the hitch-hiker reveals a lock knife, the game is raised with neither able to escape because of their watery surroundings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jason And The Argonauts (1963)

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Source: Wikipedia
In order to avenge his overthrown father, a man must hunt for a mythical object.

In a battle between the Gods, Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) - aided by Zeus (Niall MacGinnis) - usurps King Aristo of Thessaly. He later finds out that the throne will return to Aristo's bloodline when his child will avenge his death. He angers the Goddess Hera (Honor Blackman) by killing Aristo's daughter whilst she was under Hera's protection.

Twenty years later, Jason (Todd Armstrong) returns to Thessaly looking to avenge his father's death. Jason accidentally saves Pelias who, after realising that Jason doesn't recognise him, encourages him to look for the Golden Fleece (which Jason believes will bring prosperity to his people) hoping that it will be a fatal mission for Jason.

Jason gets together an army - his 'argonauts' - full of Greek heroes including Heracles and sets sail in search for the fleece with the aim of saving his people.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Cold Blood (1967)

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Source: Wikipedia
Two men believe they have committed the perfect crime.

Former cell mates Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson) believe they have hit the jackpot when Dick is tipped off about a farmer that holds thousands of dollars in a hidden safe.

The next morning the family is found dead with very little clues as to who committed the heinous crime. KBI agent Alvin Dewey (John Forsythe) is sent to investigate and he is subsequently drawn to the two men who are fleeing to Mexico.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (2005)

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Source: Wikipedia
After the Earth is blown up, two humans are transported on guide of the galaxy.

Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is worried about his house being demolished to build a bypass. He soon has more to worry about, though, as seconds before Earth is blown up (to build a bypass) he is whisked away by his friend Ford Perfect (Mos Def) who turns out to be a galactic explorer.

They hitch a lift with the leader of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), who has stolen the love of his life, the newly renamed Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), and a chronically depressed robot (voiced by Alan Rickman).

There they have to avoid the attentions of the Vogons, a bureaucratic race, who are trying to save Zaphod from his alter-ego.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Shrek 2 (2004)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Shrek returns to meet the in-laws.

Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) have just returned from their honeymoon when they are summoned to see the Queen and King of Far Far Away (aka Mum and Dad).

Despite Shrek's protestations, they head off with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) to see Fiona's disapproving parents. Shrek finds himself excluded by the judgemental King (John Cleese) - so much so that the King hires a ferocious hitman (Antonio Banderas) to bump Shrek off.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Graduate (1967)

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Source: Wikipedia
A man regrets having an affair with the mother of the girl he now loves.

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is a high performing graduate student who is confused and feeling under pressure about his future. In his congratulatory party Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father's partner, asks him to take her home - where they begin an affair.

His parent's have no idea about the affair and when Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) returns home he is coaxed into taking her out, much to the disgust of Mrs. Robinson. As he starts to fall in love with Elaine, Mrs. Robinson tries her utmost to keep them apart.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Fantasia (1940)

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Source: Wikipedia
If you, like me, have never seen Fantasia then you might be in for a shock. Rather than containing a soppy Disney story - or even a story at all - it is a celebration of classical music with the background of Walt's animations.

It is split into 5 programs- including the headlining Sorcerer's Apprentice - each with an animation backed by a different famous musical piece and introduced by the master of ceremonies (Deems Taylor).

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Exorcist (1973)

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Source: Wikipedia
A girl is possessed by the Devil.

When Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) begins to act strangely she defies all medical attempts to find the problem. She claims her bed and room are shaking before telling a man he will shortly die. Following this, a seemingly unrelated nearby incident occurs when of one of her servants dies mysteriously after being left alone with Regan.

As her behaviour becomes more and more erratic and her mother (Ellen Burstyn) witnesses the events, she enlists the help of two priests to exorcise the devil from her child.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

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Source: Wikipedia
The tale of two people during the Russian Revolution.

Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif) lost his parents at a young age but has since gone on to become a well renowned post and doctor in the years leading up to the First World War. His wife bore their only child, before he was shipped off to war as a medical physician.

Meanwhile, Lara (Julie Christie) begins relations with Komarovsky (Rod Steiger), a master of surviving the changing political landscape, but later moves onto - and marries - Pasha (Tom Courtenay), a revolutionary.

When Pasha is missing in action, Lara goes to find him only to find that her and Zhivago's paths appear to keep intertwining.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Carry On... Up The Khyber (1968)

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Source: IMP Awards
The British come under attack in India.

Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond (Sid James) is commander of the third foot and mouth division, charged with looking after the Khyber pass. His troops have becomes known as the "skirted devils" for their ability to wander around with nothing under their kilts.

The Khazi of Kalabar (Kenneth Williams) would like nothing more than to spark a full scale revolt in India to remove the British rule, but his troops a in fear of the British garrison. When his commander of the Burpa army, Bungdit Din (Bernard Bresslaw), finds a pair of woollen pants on an English soldier, the Khazi believes he has the fuel he needs to light the fire of his rebellion.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Five teenagers who spend time in detention realise they have more in common than meets the eye.

When Brian 'the Brain' Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), Andrew 'the Athlete' Clark (Emilio Estevez), Allison 'the Basket Case' Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), Claire 'the Princess' Standish (Molly Ringwald) and John 'the Criminal' Bender (Judd Nelson) are all brought in for a Saturday detention at school, they are told they must write a 1,000 word essay about who they think they are.

They initially despise the differences between themselves, but as the day moves on they realise they have more in common than they initially thought.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

American History X (1998)

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Source: Wikipedia
A boy follows his brother's violent way of life as a neo-Nazi.

After killing two black gang members that attempted to break into his car, Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is sent to prison leaving his mother, brother Danny (Edward Furlong) and two sisters to fend for themselves. His firefighter father died years previously when he was shot in the line of duty by other black gang members.

Upon release from his three year term, Derek is horrified to find that Danny has joined the same neo-Nazi gang that he was second-in-command of. Danny clearly gets into trouble but one black teacher is willing to work with him, encouraging him to get his feelings out into an essay entitled "American History X", telling the story of his brother's introduction into the movement.