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Film

The Best of Netflix UK So Far

The moment we’ve been waiting for is here, Netflix has come to the UK. The catalogue isn’t huge yet but there’s a lot of good stuff there. Here’s my top 5 list of my favourite things on Netflix UK that you might not have seen before. If you’ve started a Netflix free trial already, click on each title to be taken to it’s page on Netflix.

Henning Mankell’s Wallander

The Swedish series of TV movies based on the books of Henning Mankell about Kurt Wallander, a homicide detective working in the town of Ystad in Sweden. The first film is based on the last (at the time) Wallander novel Before the Frost which introduces Linda Wallander, Kurt’s daughter, as a young police officer, just out of training. The other 25 films continue from thee with original stories.  If  you’re in the mood for some great mystery drama and subtitles don’t bother you, definitely give it a go.

The 4400

American sci-fi series from the USA network that never really took off over here. Telling the story of 4400 people who have vanished over the course of 5 decades and suddenly all reappear together, without  having aged, beside a lake in Washington state, and the FBI agents tasked with investigating what happened to them. It slowly becomes obvious that many of the 4400 are developing strange powers. It’s one of the most underrated sci-fi shows of the 2000s and it’s well worth a go.

Das Boot

Wolfgang Petersen’s finest hour. Before he made the move to Hollywood, he made this fantastic gripping film about the crew of a German U-boat in the middle of the Second World War’s battle of the Atlantic. Filmed on a real U-boat, this is definitely one of the best war films ever made. The original theatrical version was 2:30 long before being extended for a 4:30 TV miniseries. This version is the Director’s cut which cuts a happy medium at 3:30. Short enough for a single sitting, but long enough to include many of the fantastic character scenes that didn’t make the original theatrical cut.

Zulu

One of the great British war movies, tells the true story of the historic Battle of Rourke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu war. Following the slaughter of a large British force at Isandlwana, a 4000 strong column of the Zulu army turns its focus on the small mission station at Rourke’s Drift manned by just over 100 British soldiers. Stanley Baker and Michael Caine (in his first major role) play the two Lieutenants who work together to organise the defence. This film was made with the full cooperation of the Zulu nation with current Chieftain Mangosuthu Buthelezi playing his own ancestor, King Cetewayo.

Twin Peaks

Another series not widely distributed in the UK is Twin Peaks. Brilliant series about the small town where the murder of teenager Laura Palmer sends the town in to mourning, but everyone in the town has secrets. Every character in this series is a little odd at least and the acting is fantastic but the standout performance is from Kyle MacLachlan as FBI agent Cooper who comes to the town to investigate the death of Laura.

 

I hope you get a chance to check out some of these and here’s looking forward to Netflix UK growing it’s catalogue over the next few months.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 30 – Your Favourite Film This Time Last Year

I saw this film for the first time a little over a year ago. Dustin Hoffman is just fantastic as the Autistic man who is taken out of care by his half-brother (Tom Cruise) when his father dies. Cruise’s character is incensed when he doesn’t receive a full inheritance when his father dies and discovers that $3 Million is being given to the half-brother he didn’t know he had. He then proceeds to kidnap his brother and drive him cross country to LA to meet with his lawyers.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 29 – Your Favourite Film As a Kid

This is a great little musical film. Lionel Jeffries is the standout performer as Grandpa Potts. I just love the music. Fantastic.

Here are some of my favourite songs:


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 28 – The Most Obscure Film You’ve Ever Seen

I know I only did the last one of these this morning, but I’m so behind everyone else on this and I had a spare few minutes on my lunch break, so here’s another one today.

“If I’m Not Back In 10 Minutes, Call the Pope!”

The title pretty much says it all. Definately the most obscure film I’ve ever seen, shown to me at the Scifi Society at uni and we had an interesting time watching it. Be warned though. It’s really, really bad.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 27 – Your Favourite Independent Film

This low-budget Canadian psychological thriller/horror film made almost entirely on a single set with different lighting is really great. Included in the cast of at the time unknown actors are Nicole DeBoer who went on to play Ezri Dax in Deep Space Nine and David Hewlett who is now known to Stargate fans as Rodney McKay.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 26 – Your Favourite Foreign Language Film

Day 25 has been delayed for reasons that are unlikely to become apparent at the moment. It will appear in the next few days.

Flags of our Fathers is a fantastic film, but it’s lesser known accompaniment is even better. It is, in my opinion, Clint Eastwood’s best achievement as Director. This brilliant film shows the horrors of the battle for the island of Iwo Jima from the point of view of the Japanese. Very interesting to see a war film from an unusual side. Despite the American director, this is very much a Japanese film.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 24 – Your Favourite Animated or Children’s Film

Gerry Anderson’s collection of Supermarionation series were my absolute favourite shows growing up and this was their first foray onto the big screen. Fantastic fun. I mean just look at all the explosions just in the trailer!


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 23 – Your Favourite Thriller/Mystery Film

We return to normal service on the blog today.
Selected by the BFI as the greatest British film of the 20th Century, this Carol Reed film really deserves the title. Set in Vienna in the ruined post-war period when the black market thrived, an American called Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) arrives to meet his friend Harry Lime who had offered him a job, only to discover that he had been killed in a car accident the day before. As Martins tries to find out what happened he realises that some of the details do not match up and with the help, and sometimes hinderance of Major Calloway (fantastic performance by Trevor Howard), the local Royal Military Police commander, he investigates.

Also worth mentioning is the amazing and unique soundtrack played entirely by Anton Karas on the Zither.

Once again, this film is out of copyright so available in it’s entirety on youtube for free: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un26BBFQ5_M

But if you don’t have time for the whole film, here’s The Opening Theme and First Scene which introduces the setting:


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 22 – Your Favourite Horror Film

Happy Star Wars Day everyone! May the fourth be with you!

Wes Craven’s masterpiece is my favourite Horror film. It’s great fun and a brilliant spoof on the horror genre while still being genuinely terrifying.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 21 – Your Favourite Fantasy Film

I’ve been away in the Lake District for the long weekend, staying half way up a mountain with no mains electricity or mobile phone signal so I hope you’ll forgive my lack of blogging the last few days.


Indiana Jones is my favourite fantasy film series and Last Crusade is the best of them as far as I’m concerned. It’s got Sir Sean Connery as Henry Jones Senior and John Rhys Davis’s character Sallah is one of the best things about the series. Other than that you have evil Nazis, tank chase, a zeppelin and the greatest quest ever.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 20 – Your Favourite Romantic Film

Ok. This is stretching it a bit, but the only proper romantic film I really like, I already chose for Day 14. They did say this film was a RomComZom (Romantic Comedy…. with Zombies).


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 19 – Your Favourite Action Film

Fantastic action film. Ed Harris brilliantly plays a rogue US Marine General who takes hostages on Alcatraz island in San Fransisco Bay while pointing poison gas missiles at the city. The FBI director (the late great John Spencer) brings in their top chemical weapons expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nic Cage) and the only man to ever have escaped from Alcatraz, John Mason (Sir Sean Connery) to go along with a Navy SEAL team to release the hostages and secure the missiles. Action brilliance ensues. This is probably my favourite Cage performance and Sir Sean excels as an aged James Bond well. With three such strong leads, this film could scarcely put a foot wrong and it doesn’t.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 18 – Your Favourite Comedy Film


As the Movies You Should See people say, it’s dificult to review a comedy film without decending into a quote fest so I’ll simply say this:

This movie is a perfect example of how to do a spoof well. Pay homage to the original, show respect for the original. It is possible to do this and spoof it at the same time as this film shows. If you are a Star Trek fan, or have any knowledge of the show at all, this movie is well worth a watch or 20. It’s got Tim Allen in his best performance ever. But even better, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman! All in one film!


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 17 – Your Favourite Drama Film

This is the most fantastic movie and a true definition of Drama. 12 men, 1 room, an hour and a half of tense thrilling drama as Henry Fonda plays the only dissenting jurer in a seemingly open and shut murder case as he tries to bring round the others to the idea of reasonable doubt. Not a special effect in sight but seriously one of the best films ever made.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 16 – Your Favourite Science Fiction Film

Again. I couldn’t really think of anything for what today’s category was supposed to be (film you used to like but now hate). So I decided to split the upcoming sci-fi fantasy category and do sci-fi now and fantasy then. I promise this is the last time I’ll change the category… probably.

Anyway, this is my favourite sci-fi movie (not counting those already mentioned for other categories). A brilliant sci-fi suspense horror/thriller that keeps you guessing who from it’s fantastic ensemble cast will survive.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 15 – Your Favourite War Film

Well, I couldn’t for the life of me think of a film that depicts my life, so I decided to change today’s category. There’s a favourite Action film category coming up that would cover war films but I really think they are deserving of their own.

This 1964 film tells the story of the defence of Rourke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. Rourke’s Drift was a tiny mission station in present day South Africa consisting of a church, hospital and store-house with a small contingent of soldiers stationed at it. Around 150 men of the 2nd Batallion 24th Regiment of Foot under the command of Lieutenant Bromhead (Michael Caine in his first major role) receive word from a messenger that the rest of their regiment consisting of almost 2000 men has been slaughtered at the Battle of Isandlwana by a force of 20,000 Zulu warriors, 5,000 of whom are now heading for them.

Under orders to hold the station at all costs, Bromhead and the other officer on site, Lt. Chard of the Royal Engineers (Stanley Baker) prepare their men to defend. What follows has gone down in the military history of not only Britain but the Zulu nation as well. The film is expertly directed by Cy Enfield and recieved the full support of the Zulus during production. The Zulus in the film are all played by actual Zulus and the Zulu King by his own great-grandson. Along with fantastic performances by the two leads, Nigel Green shines as the unflappable Colour Sergeant Bourne and Richard Burton narrates at the beginning and end.

The film is in the Public Domain, so I have no qualms in linking you to the entire movie on Youtube (in High Definition no less)

There’s no good trailer for this film so instead here is a clip of one of the early Zulu attacks-


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like

Well, it’s a romantic film so that automatically makes it unlikely that I’d like it but this film of two parallel time lines is just so good. It’s a very clever film with some brilliant writing and great performances from the leads Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 13 – A Guilty Pleasure

Yes I know this movie is a ridiculous special effects and action fest with little story line, but it’s great fun and it has Neil Patrick Harris in it which is a plus for any movie. Would You Like To Know More!?!


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 12 – A Film By Your Least Favourite Director

“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” was directed by Larry Charles. If you can call it that. Sticking an impressionist in a silly suit with a racist accent and having him go round and make a fool of himself in front of people and filming it is not a valid film making technique.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 11 – A Film By Your Favourite Director

Well, this may seem like a cop out choice, but if I go through my favourite films, one director keeps popping up over and over – Steven Spielberg. This is one of his best films, a masterclass in suspense.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 10 – A Film With Your Favourite Actress

I had to think hard about this one. I don’t really have a favourite actress so I chose what I think is the finest actress performance ever which is Jodie Foster as FBI Agent Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. One of the best films ever made.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 9 – A Film With Your Favourite Actor

My favourite Actor is Sam Neill. He’s featured twice on this list already (The Dish, Jurassic Park) but this is one of his earlier films. An Australian psychological horror set in the middle of the ocean. A Royal Australian Navy Captain John Ingram (Neill) comes home on leave to discover that his wife and baby have been involved in a car accident on their way to pick him up. The wife Rae (a young Nicole Kidman in her breakthrough role) survives but the child dies. To get away from this terrible tragedy, John takes his wife on a month long cruise on their private yacht. A couple of weeks in, in a dead calm ocean, a larger ship appears on the horizon. A man gets in the ship’s rowing boat and rows towards them. He claims that he is the only survivor of a food poisoning on board that has killed the rest of the crew. Having his doubts about the story, John rows back to the ship while the man sleeps and discovers the horrible truth.

This is probably one of the best films to come out of Australia. A truly terrifying movie without falling into the gore of modern horror films. Definately worth a watch.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 8 – A Film You Can Quote Best

“Dr. Grant, my dear Dr. Sattler. Welcome to Jurassic Park!” – John Hammond

This is probably my second favourite film of all time, and, along with First Contact I can pretty much speak along with the entire time which can annoy the hell out of my fiancée if I do it all the time. I know I’ve said this for other movies on here, but seriously, if you’ve not seen Jurassic Park, go directly to see it now. Do not pass Go, do not collect £200.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 7 – A Film That Reminds You Of Your Past

This movie is pretty good. I’d say it ranks about even with Tomorrow Never Dies as the second best of the Brosnan era (after Goldeneye obviously). But the reason it reminds me of my past is that it was the first 12 rated (and therefore to me at age 12 ‘adult’) film I went to see at the cinema on my own with a friend rather than with my parents.