True Brit: The Oscar Race Is On!


Well,  print your invitations and get ready to party. The nominations for the 2011 Academy Awards have been announced! 

First of all, The King’s Speech leads the way with 12 nominations (yippeeee)  followed by True Grit and Social Network.  For me,  this is a pretty good start  to the day.  Glad to see Colin Firth, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence and Danny Boyle recognized.

But before we get too carried away, it’s  time to grouch about who was and who was not, invited the the ball.

The Usual Suspects

Christopher Nolan missed out on Directing for Inception? What!  There were two nominees from the Supporting Actress category that were a surprise too. Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old in True Grit and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom. I’m ok with that, Hailee was awesome and I hear Jacki was incredible.  Omitted is The Town for Best Film?  Andrew Garfield (Social Network) for Supporting Actor? and Lesley Manville ( Another Year) for Best Actress (big ??)  Inexplicably included: Mark Ruffalo? Annette Bening? Michelle Williams?  Breathing rather deeply…. that’s all I’ll say…. question mark.   

Of course, these are my suspects.. and it feels good to get them out of my system. I think I’m ready to party….

Go ahead… make my day..

Click on the link below, take a look and let me know what made you happy and/or grouchy this morning.

http://oscar.go.com/

Your mission, should you choose to accept it..

Before you party, here are the 10 you simply must see.

The King’s Speech (Duh)

Social Network

True Brit, I mean Grit

Winter’s Bone

Toy Story 3

How To Train Your Dragon

Inception

127 Hours

The Town

Exit Through the Gift Shop

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The Kid’s Are All Right .. but what about the movie?


Well, here is a movie I HAVEN”T seen.  What about that then? A movie blog, with a post about a movie that has not even been seen by the blogger, that quite frankly does not fancy seeing it. Is this a first?

If  you’ve seen it, you might want to let me in on the secret. Just why and what  is it about  this movie that is garnering all the award buzz? I have a couple of  ideas on that, both cynical I’m afraid, but are they true none the less?

It looks like a decent enough film. Great actors doing their usual best. Interesting story and characters. Lightly comedic touches entwined with the drama of life issues. Decisions that are made for better or worse.  Oh wait, that’s  Up In the Air. Remember that one from last year?  It looked like a decent enough film. Great actors doing their best, blah blah. Yes, I couldn’t quite figure out why that one garnered so much attention either. Best actor? Best supporting actress? really?

I have seen better on any given night on the BBC and/or Channel Four.

Maybe it is just down to a short fall of  the great, and having to settle for the good being nominated for Best in its respective category? Maybe it’s because of the subject matter? Maybe it’s a reward for being edgy, pushing the envelope, or because they took ALL their clothes off? 

So, there you have it. Not seen the film. Not going to see the film. Did you? Can you tell me why the film is all right?

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr Day


A few years ago, I was doodling around the Netflix website and found this great movie. It was made for HBO and as we don’t get HBO, it was totally new to me.  I decided to give it a try and just simply LOVED it. I love it when I find a gem. I love it even more when I can share it.

Something The Lord Made (2004)

Something The Lord Made, Movie PosterBased on the true storyof  Alfred Blalock a heart surgeon, and Vivien Thomas his assistant and their groundbreaking work in the 1940’s. A relationship that lasted more than 30 years, together they developed a shunt  technique to bypass the aortic coarctation. Yes, wasn’t too sure what that was myself, but stick with me.  It was while they were working on this, they were approached with the condition of what was called “Blue Baby Syndrome“. (heart defects, respiratory distress).  The subsequent experiments culminating in the first operation on a blue baby,  was the first successful heart operation on a human and started a new era of cardiac surgery while saving thousands of lives.

So, why this movie to celebrate MLK Day? Well, apart from it being such an inspiring, historical and well made movie. The relationship Blalock and Thomas shared was more than just a working one. You see, Blalock was white and Thomas was black. So when I say it’s inspiring, I have more than the medical miracle in mind.  On his way to medical school,  Vivien lost his savings in the financial crash during the Great Depression which changed the course of his life, but thankfully not his desire.  Without any further education beyond high school, Vivien rose above poverty and racism to become  a part of the cardiac surgery breakthrough.

The tone of the movie is subtle, yet can pierce the heart at times by such injustice. The performances by Alan Rickman as Blalock and Mos Def are spot on with Def  being a revelation in his role that to be honest, I did not think he had in him!

My son had to do a paper on a famous African American during Black History month a few years ago, he was so frustrated that he saw this movie a week to late to pick Vivien as his subject. Such is the inspiring story of Vivien, what he had to overcome and the grace and dignity in which he conducted himself in such trying circumstances. There was also no doubt as to the extent of his brilliance that matched such character.

So, if you need a family movie tonight, or any night for that matter. Do remember this one. I hope you are as inspired as I was.

Three 2 See

I LOVE Alan Rickman. He’s such a fine English actor. Here are my 3 favourite Rickman movies you may want to check out:

Die Hard” (1988)  Probably his most well known role outside of  “Harry Potter”. A delicious baddie, he practically stole the film from Bruce Willis.

Truly, Madly, Deeply” (1990)  A super little  English movie. He plays a recently deceased boyfriend who returns, (yes, returns),  to help his grieving girlfriend heal. A touching tale of love, loss and healing. Sounds boring and depressing, but there are wonderful comic touches and it’s such a well told story, so please don’t be put off.

Bottle Shock” (2008). The story of the new kid on the block versus the years of superiority of the French wine industry. NAPA Valley wines of the new world in California, take on the french in the 1970’s  to see just who’s wine is better!

IMDb Founder from Manchester… England


I saw a  great little piece in the Manchester Evening News the other day. Total news to me, I had no idea and felt so proud, I was positively teary.  So, for obvious reasons I just HAD to share it!

Put together an obsessed teenage movie fan and a new computer, and this is what you get. Col Needham 44,  loves movies SO much, he started  to compile a list to remember all the movies he was watching.  A self-confessed nerd, once he got  his computer, he started compiling all his information and the rest, as they, is history. The Internet Movie Database was born.

This started as a hobby as he worked his day job as a software developer in Bristol. The downloadable database started in the late 80’s which developed into one of the first internet sites in the early 90’s. Surviving the dot-com crash, it goes from strength to strength, recently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

It continues as the site of choice for movie fans, as well as people who work in the industry,  for the diversity  and clarity of information that has been gathered over the years. The site continues to grow at “an amazing rate” says Col, with about 100 million unique users a month.

Although selling the site to Amazon in 1998,  he is still very much involved with IMDb. He gets invited to film festivals and premieres and has his own team that continues to gather new information for the site. 

The article mentioned that one of his memories was going to the Manchester Odeon for the first Star Wars movie. I remember that too. I used to love going there every Friday.

Now the CEO of IMDb, this Mancunian millionaire is doing very well for himself, but has never forgotten his roots. “I’m just the guy from Manchester who is the founder of IMDb”.

Spoken like a true Manc.

As an aside. It was reported this week in the New York Times, that Manchester is one of the top 20  destinations that you need to visit.  Start spreading the news…    

A good week for the old home town I’d say 🙂

Dishing Up A Great Movie!


Are You Done With Your New Year’s Resolution Yet?

OK,  now really, how is your New Year’s Resolution(s) going?   Me?  I didn’t make one, so I am enjoying homemade white bread with real butter and loving it, along with the left over chocolate from Christmas. I mean, how can we possibly make any diet related resolution straight after Christmas with so many goodies left hanging around?

When I think of past resolutions, it’s usually got something to do with diets and weight and, well stuff that people see on the outside. When, I thought, are we gonna concentrate on resolutions that affect us from the inside?

For some reason, when I thought of this, I thought of  The Dish. You heard of this movie? Ah well, your cold and dark winter is about to get a little warmer and brighter.

To the Moon…

The Dish (2000), is a lovely little Australian movie based on the historical event  of the Moon Landing. Did you know it was beamed live throughout the world from a “dish” in a sheep field of  a little town called Parkes, Australia?

Parkes is a town in New South Wales, about a 5 hour drive west of Sydney.  The Parkes Observatory’s radio telescope was one of 3 antennas used to receive live, televised images of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969. Eight minutes into the Landing, NASA decided the clearest picture was coming from Parkes and stayed with them for the remainder of the broadcast.

What was so special about Parkes  and it’s Observatory? Nothing. There was no security around it. A local farmer farmed right up to the edge  of it. Picnics were taken on top of it.  But when Buzz Aldrin switched on the TV camera in the lunar module, it became part of Apollo Mission history. 

Am I interested in NASA? No. Am I interested in where the moon landing was beamed from? er, not particularly. Am I interested in good film making, story telling and bringing alive an astonishing event in history to the big screen?  You betcha!

…And Back

The wonderful  Sam Neil heads a splendid Australian cast,  in a somewhat fictionalized story, based on true events of the Little Dish That Did.  A gentle comedy, some of the characters can seem somewhat contrived, but they all work together so whimsically well you are suckered right in. The locals, of course, are thrilled with the attention and their desire to impress  also brings on the funny. When American officials arrive, the Mayor and town give them a great Aussie welcome. The local band plays Australia’s National Anthem  followed by the United States anthem, “Hawaii 5-o”.

Here’s the Dish..

So, what has this got to do with resolution making?  Well, the movie reminds me of a few things: 

It reminds me how small we really are, how precious life is and that maybe that call buzzing on my cell can wait a bit while I take time to smell the roses.  It reminds me to not fear the unknown, but to step out in faith.  It reminds me of the simple things in life and to cherish and give my time and energy to what really matters.  It reminds me that ordinary people doing ordinary things can be used in extraordinary ways.

A new year, a new me?  No, still me, but hopefully a new improved,  better version of the one from last year. A year of growth on the inside, while maybe, once the chocolate is gone, less growth on the outside!   I’m not making a resolution on that though.

Made In Dagenham


…0r Made In England, as the lady in front of me said as she was trying to buy her ticket. My 15 year old American son asked me, “Did you like Made in Day-gen-ham”?

You say tomato and I say tomahto…

If you’re struggling with the pronunciation as well, it goes like this: “Dag-‘n-‘m”. Well, that’s what I would say but I’m from the north of England. Maybe those from the south would say Daag-en-um. Anyway, struggling or not, wherever your from, pluck up the courage and buy your ticket because you really must see this film. You may have to drive to a independent cinema because shamefully, the multi’s might not show it, but I can promise you that your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.  And besides, this will give you plenty of time to practice your pronunciation  in the car.

Brits At Their Best

Wonderfully bright-eyed Sally Hawkins, always solid Bob Hoskins and a plethora of other great British actors bring to life a true tale from 60’s England.  It is tagged as historical, drama, comedy.  Although there was nothing funny about the subject matter, the comedy comes from the wonderful working class characters. Don’t be put off if you are getting fed up of the old British charming wit thing. It is as much a part of the fabric of the culture as the London Underground is.

Miranda Richardson, another national treasure, does a grand turn as the legendary Barbara Castle. Mrs Castle was a force to be reckoned with and was never far from controversy. A woman with a clear sense of purpose who didn’t mince her words and broke the glass ceiling to become Secretary of State for Employment in 1968. Richardson does her proud. Rosamund Pike, as a educated wife of a Ford executive,  makes a great impact of her brief but supportive role  which reminds us the norms of the day was no respector of social standing or education.

Once in Trafford Park, Stretford (near Manchester), the Ford auto plant moved to Dagenham, a large town of east London.  In 1968 a workforce of  just over  150 women make the decision to strike because their pay grade is classified as unskilled yet their male counterparts got 15% more pay for “skilled” work.

Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins) is shepherded into representing the women, culminating in her unlikely leadership of the strike. A little unsure of herself and her ability, she is definitely sure about the pay imbalance which gives her the confidence to keep going. At first, the union doesn’t take these group of women seriously, until Rita finds a voice for all the women and shakes the pillars of not only the male dominated union, but the male dominated Ford executives.

It’s More Than You Think

Some people have shrugged off this movie because of it’s feminist and socialist overtones. The reality is, this film is more about being treated as a human being, rather than a rally call for feminism. It’s more about being accepted as equal, rather than plugging the socialist agenda. Not even the all-male union leadership thought the cause was worthy. The film captures these truths wonderfully.

Bottomline

This is a fun, entertaining, thoughtful and moving film. You’ll be glad you saw it… even if you can’t say DAG-‘N-‘M.

Von Ryan’s Express – Unstoppable


The recent movie Unstoppable brought to mind a few train movies.  I’m glad for the memory of one train in particular…

When I was a little girl, I recall my dad taking me to the movies. I don’t remember many Disney kiddie stuff though. What I remember is  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidKelly’s Heroes, Von Ryan’s Express and pretty much anything else  with Frank Sinatra in it. Dad used to say “If  it rains on a Saturday, I’ll take you to see a movie”. As I grew up in the North of England, this pretty much guaranteed almost every weekend. During the weekends the weather did not oblige, he used to take me swimming which assured me of a dousing one way or another.

Year’s later, I would see Frank’s tunnel as a tourist. I couldn’t help a little nostalgic smile thanking dad for the memories….

Von Ryan’s Express

Von Ryan’s Express was made in 1965.  A  movie set during WWII,  it tells the story of  prisoners escaping from a POW camp. Heading, by train of course, for the safe haven of Switzerland, Ryan (Sinatra) having made a few early bad calls, tries to win over the team of British  soldiers and get them to freedom, at all costs. Joining Sinatra in this action drama, is Trevor Howard and the stock of British actors you may know, but can never put a name too. Von Ryan’s Express was a top 10 box office hit on release in 1965.

Kelly’s Heroes

Kelly’s Heroes, (1970) Donald Sutherland is a hippie dude and together with Carroll O’ConnorDon Rickles, Telly Savalas join head-liner Clint Eastwood in this off-beat, amusing war picture.  The team go AWOL in search of gold heading for France. (Information procurred by getting a german officer drunk!) The problem is, it’s behind enemy lines. Clint Eastwood at his best, a fun movie apparently based on a true story.

FUN FACT:  Did you know Telly Savalas was in the Army during WWII?

 Two great, but very  different and very well loved, war movies. I hope you decide to check them out one rainy Saturday afternoon too. Let me know if you like them too!

Did anyone special ever take you to the movies?