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Top 10 films of 2013

December 28, 2013   -   1 comment   -  

Alright, here we go, my top 10 films of the year. It’s time for the annual onslaught of tweets and emails telling me that I’m too stupid to live.

As usual, my top 10 list is entirely subjective and in no particular order, and if I was doing a top 50, your favourite would probably be in there. But there are only 10 spots, so like Nick Clegg deciding on whether to force a smile by pinching his leg or biting the inside of his cheek, tough decisions had to be made.

Right then…

Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

Sometimes one scene is all it takes to elevate a film from being an also-ran to a sure-fire member of my coveted Top 10. And so it goes with Captain Phillips. Paul Greengrass’ true-life tale of ship captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) as his vessel is boarded by pirates moves along slowly, but is always tense, and Hanks’ final scene is some of the best acting of the year, if not ever. I can’t not mention Barkhad Abdi as Musa, one of the pirates, whose lack of acting experience only makes him more impressive.

A farewell to Blockbuster

December 16, 2013   -   2 comments   -  

I wrote this for a newspaper last year, when my local Blockbuster – which I had worked at for few years – was closing down.

With today marking the closure of the last remaining UK stores, I thought I’d share it…

A Blockbuster store in the UK

One of the many stricken Blockbuster stores           Picture: Elliot Brown

The Rob mentioned in the story went on to manage another Blockbuster store. Yesterday he turned the lights off there for the last time.

———-

This weekend, the book closed on what had been quite a large part of my life.

After 22 years, Blockbuster in Canterbury has closed its doors, ready to be smashed into pieces in preparation for a new hotel with too few parking spaces.

For many, I expect it was just another video shop, but the big blue store by the crossroads always meant more to me.

Getting your kids into the theatre

December 13, 2013   -   2 comments   -  

In this year’s Christmas special edition of The Spectator, there is an article by me about the best way to get your kids interested in the theatre.

Don’t worry, it’s not as dry and worthy as it sounds. Plus, it opens up with me getting hit in the face, so there’s that.

The issue of The Spectator it’s in looks like this:

The Spectator magazine front cover Christmas 2013

And like most things it’s available to read online too.

The Bechdel test fallacy

November 22, 2013   -   1 comment   -  
Jennifer Lawremce in Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire passes the Bechdel Test. Good news. You’re allowed to watch it.

 

Ever heard of the Bechdel test?

Don’t worry if you haven’t, chances are you’re going to hear about it a lot in coming years.

For those of you that haven’t stumbled across it before, the Bechdel test came about due to a comic strip by cartoonist Alison Bechdel (hence the name), and it lays down three simple rules that decree whether a film is gender-biased or not.

1. Are there two or more female characters with names?

2. Do they have a conversation with each other?

3. Do they talk about anything other than men?

Sounds straightforward enough, but it’s surprising how many of your favourite films will not pass the test. The original Star Wars trilogy, the Lord of the Rings films, and all but one of the Harry Potter films fail. Of course, they aren’t exactly festering with misogyny, but they do not pass the test.

Spike Lee wants to sell you his old shoes

August 5, 2013   -   0 comments   -  

When Hollywood starts talking about Kickstarter, then you know it has jumped the shark.

Not content with having their own money, well-known filmmakers are now turning to crowdfunding website Kickstarter to get yours too, permeating the service like Japanese knotweed.

Spike Lee

The site is a genuine life-changing tool for people who have great ideas, but no money or contacts to make them a reality. Using Kickstarter, they can post their dream projects (artistic or otherwise) and if people like them, they can pledge money. The higher the amount pledged, the bigger the benefit they receive.

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