A pint of beer please barman.

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cheers exterior
Wouldn’t you like to go where everybody knows your name? And a place where they are always glad you came? Well I most certainly would even if this place had an ex baseball player who saw himself as a bit of a Casanova or where a big guy sits all day drinking beer on the same stool or listening to a guy that believes he knows everything when in fact he knows nothing or maybe be served by a grouch barmaid that only needs to look at you and she is pregnant. There is also the simpleton behind the bar, the barmaid who quotes Shakespeare and is full of herself as well as the manager that can only date those on the millionaire list. You would also have to watch your every move and your every word around the psychiatrist who is just about as crazy as his patients. There is also the coach who has taken far too many hits to the head. I am of course talking about the series Cheers.

I always say the simple films or shows are the best and you do not get much simpler than a group of people sitting around a bar. You do on occasions see into their world outside the bar, but this is very rare. For most of the 11 seasons you see the same people in the same bar just living their normal day lives and drinking beer. They are not particularly exciting people but they all have their idiosyncrasies and now and then something slightly exciting happens there. Its just a look into human nature, relationships, stereotypes, personality and just a look into how the ordinary person lives. So who are the characters?

Sam Malone- Well he is the ex baseball player who ended up wasting his career due to a drink problem. The good news is the fact that he beats this addiction and confronts it by buying a bar called Cheers in the city of Boston. Another addiction is women and boy does he sleep with a lot of women during the 11 years of the show. He just cant help himself and lucky for him nor can the women. He is vain, arrogant, full of confidence, but not particularly clever although he is the guy that looks after his customers and sorts out their problems. He is admired by the men and fancied by the women, they live through him and wish they were him, but have to make do with being his friend. He has very lose morals, but often does the right thing in the end. He is a guy that you would be happy to call a best friend and the show revolves around him, oh and his hair.
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Diane Chambers- She is Sam’s adversary, a lady he spends most of his time trying to allure and get into his bed. She is the one that will not take notice, the one that thinks he is stupid, the one that is better than everyone and loves the sound of her own voice. She drives Sam mad in more ways then one and rarely can he understand her long and unnecessary vocabulary, but still he wants her. She is well spoken and from an affluent family who have provided her with a good education. She has a love of literature and dreams of becoming a writer although doesn’t quite have the conviction to do it. Her ego is extremely fragile and breaks on numerous occasions leading to floods of tears and public outbursts. She almost marries the Psychiatrist after finding herself in his sessions after a mental breakdown, but she is unlucky in love. She will annoy you, she will make you laugh, she will educate you, but one thing she will not do and that is get your drinks order to you without mixing it all up. She is of course a barmaid who is clearly not suited to her role despite all her grandiose achievements and opinions.
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Carla- She is Sam’s best friend who is as tough as an overcooked piece of steak that’s has been left in the sun and dried out for a month. She takes no prisoners and knows every insult known to man and will regularly tease those weaker then her. I warn you, tip her well or you might have a toothless smile in the morning. I would also suggest that you do not make eye contact because her children can be conceived at a blink of an eye. There are eight of the little cuties by the end of season eleven and when I say cuties I mean wild rabid animals. There is a soft spot or should I say a lust for Sam and she is not shy about talking dirty. Underneath that tough exterior there is a big heart and lots of fears as you will quickly find out. There is a belief in mysticism, fortunes and many superstitions. She is the life and soul of the party and a great deal of fun.
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Norm- “Afternoon everybody” “Noooooooorm” this is how almost every entrance is made by the big cuddly fella Norm. He is the jobless Bum who drinks beer all day without ever paying and grumbles about his wife Vera. Norm can never hold down a job although he is rather bright under that big mop of hair. He also loves his wife dearly despite all the bravado that comes from his mouth that states the opposite. This guy is happy to sit on the same stool everyday drinking beer and chatting away. There are moments outside the stool and they can be pretty exciting, but mostly he sits on his stool and drinks Beer. He has a special relationship with a know it all although he never likes to admit it. He is the constant that everyone works around, the familiar and the one that makes everyone feel safe,
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Cliff Claven- This is the guy that still lives with his overbearing mother despite approaching middle age. He is the proudest postman in the world despite not being very good at it. There are always efforts to try and be someone that he is not or at least portray this idea. The tongue of Cliff becomes completely twisted at the sight of a woman, leading to some very funny scenes and very funny conversations. If there is a useless fact to share and to share without any real substance then Cliff is your man. Cliff is the know it all and he shares his facts very regularly despite no one appreciating them. There is a sadness to Cliff and he only really becomes important when entering Cheers. Everyone pretends not to like him, but despite all his faults and annoying habits it is hard not to love him, He is my favourite character.
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Coach- He is the wise coach who often forgets what he is saying, lives in confusion and completely gets the wrong end of the stick. Coach is like the lovable Grandad of the group who everyone respects although no one will ever get a straight answer out of him. Sam has someone looking out for him and that is the coach and if there is a story to tell then coach is the one to tell it. The story’s are brilliant although don’t expect their to be a point and don’t expect the coach to remember why he is telling the story or how it starts and finishes. There have obviously been one to many knocks to the head over the years that have knocked out a few connecting wires.
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Woody- The small town barman who’s brain is as slow as a snail on Valium. He can never quite follow the flow of conversation amongst the group, but can quite often pull out a pearl of wisdom. There are numerous tales of back home that often lead to descriptions of weird actions with some kind of farm yard animal. When you hear of his home town you most definitely get the feeling that most of the inhabitants are related in some way. Woody is pure and innocent and can never tell a lie and on the few occasions he does it leads to massive pangs of guilt that almost eat him whole. This simple man just wants a simple life and has very few aspirations, but he is definitely one you can depend on as long as there is no thinking involved.
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Rebecca Howe- A loser in almost every way you can imagine. Whatever she touches seems to end in disaster leading to tears and numerous breakdowns. All she wants is a rich husband who can spoil her rotten and let her do whatever she wants. There are numerous attempts at finding this man that often leave her in compromising situations. She is of course a lady that catches Sam’s eye and she too like Diane spurns the numerous and clumsy advances from Casanova Malone. Her parents have no trust in her and feel that she cannot cope with life without making a mess of it and they are dead right. An allowance helps a great deal with the many rejections and catastrophes that she gets herself into along the way. Her and Sam become the best of friends even to the extent that try for a baby together. How do you think that works out?
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Frazier Crane- The Looney toon who is very much in the need of psychiatric help, which is great because he is a psychiatrist. Everyone at the bar gets a free session of advice whether they like it or not and quite often this advice leads to chaos. Frazier wants to be one of the guys, but doesn’t quite fit in with the rest. His relationship with Diane is a disaster, but then two neurotic people together was never going to work. Again we are looking at a very fragile ego which very often gets broken leading to some deeply humiliating scenes. There are a number of failed romances until he finds his wife Lillith, the cold, robotic emotionless woman that comes to life in the bedroom and is the only person to laugh at Cliffs jokes. Frazier is most definitely under the thumb with this one although he would never admit it. Frazier is the perfect form of opposition to almost every character, but he is soon loved by all once the pompous exterior is broken down.
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There are many bit characters along the way that return to the bar, but the main focus is on the trials and tribulations of the ones above and believe me there are too many to count. I love this show, which leaves me laughing, cringing, feeling sad, feeling happy and sometimes just annoyed. This is, as I have said before is about normal, well not normal, but erm.. about people in a bar and how Cheers is their safe haven and escape from the lives they lead.

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9/10

Divergent

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I always enjoy films that create an idea of Utopia where there are no wars and everyone is happy. Divergent is one of these films where an idea has been put in place to prevent wars and allow the human population to live free and happy lives within a faction. Unfortunately the people are not quite as free as they think they are as they are very much controlled by a big brother type group who try to make a better world by watching over and controlling those under each faction.

The film follows a family, particularly the daughter named Beatrice who comes from a political power, her mum and dad who are against the so called superior faction, Erudite. Erudite is someone with great knowledge learned or scholarly, which is not always the best type of person to rule. Erudite are the faction that want to take power, which leads to some interesting turns as the film goes on. Are their efforts of taking power for good? How do they intend to take power? We come into Beatrice’s life at the age of sixteen as she is about to be tested in order to find out what faction she will join, There are four factions….

Abnegation-”I choose to turn away from my reflection, to rely not on myself but on my brothers and sisters, to project always outward until I disappear.” This is the selfless faction who care for others and are incorruptible due to this virtue.

Erudite-”Ignorance is defined not as stupidity but as lack of knowledge. Lack of knowledge inevitably leads to lack of understanding. Lack of understanding leads to a disconnect among people with differences. Disconnection among people with differences leads to conflict. Knowledge is the only logical solution to the problem of conflict. Therefore, we propose that in order to eliminate conflict, we must eliminate the disconnect among those with differences by correcting the lack of understanding that arises from ignorance with knowledge.”

Dauntless- “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another… We believe in shouting for those who can only whisper, in defending those who cannot defend themselves.” This faction are the warriors protecting the people, but they have not been used as there have been no wars.

Amnity- “Give freely, trusting that you will be given what you need… Do not be angry. The opinions of others cannot damage you… The wrong is past. You must let it rest where it lies… You must no longer think cruel thoughts. Cruel thoughts lead to cruel words, and hurt you as much as they hurt their target.” This faction wants peace.

Beatrice takes the test and her results are inconclusive meaning that she is unique and does not fit into a faction. Divergents are to be feared because they are unknown and are to be eradicated from the planet in order to keep the people safe and the government in power. This being the case leads the tester to give Beatrice the Abnegation result and advises Beatrice to never reveal her result. Once testing has finished it is time to choose your faction and yes despite your test result you still get the chance to choose the faction yourself, but you run the risk of failure which will turn you into the scurge of humanity, the factionless. Beatrice chooses Dauntless after much consideration, of course this is a risk because she is a Divergent and if she is found out she will be killed.

As a Dauntless member she needs to prove that she can fight and control her fears, but these tests are difficult because her mind works differently to everyone else. Not only does she need to pass each stage, but she has to learn how to pass the tests without giving anyone the clue that she is a Divergent, which is very difficult. She does get help along the way, but will she be found out? There is also the acts of Erudite trying to take control. How will they do this? And will it be done humanely? How do you get everyone on your side? This I cannot reveal, but I will say that computers in the wrong hands can be very dangerous.
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I really enjoyed the film and the performances from all the stars were very good, but this is not a film about performances this is about the storyline and the idea of peaceful society. It is about belonging, it is also ruthless as failures are pushed out or killed. The people have been sold a lie and they are not quite as free as they think they are. This film is also great fun and makes you question yourself, would I dare to do that? How would I control my fear and what would my fear be? What faction would you belong to?

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7/10

classic Comedy

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laurel-and-hardy1Comedy has never been a genre of film that I have really liked, particularly modern comedy as it is quite often tasteless and crude. Comedy was great when the stars were Norman Wisdom, Abottt and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and Peter Sellers. I have loved Laurel and Hardy from a young age because for me they are the perfect double act. Slapstick comedy is hilarious, it’s the reason why you go to the circus to see the clowns. Amy and I went to see Cirque du Soleil last year and the clowns had us laughing out loud. Laurel and Hardy have the same effect on me and its not easy comedy to pull off especially to pull it off and make it look real.

Last night I saw a comedy short from 1921 before Laurel and Hardy got together. They both played their part in the film, but Laurel was the star. It was a silent film called Lucky Dog and the slap stick humour was hilarious. To know exactly what is going on without hearing any voices takes some skill and back then they had very few effects to use. I think Laurel and Hardy were far better actors then they have been given credit for and they were certainly great writers of comedy. For people to still love them now 60 years after their last film shows how good they were.

The flying deuces is a brilliant story of how Laurel and Hardy join the French foreign legion after Hardy is rejected by a beautiful woman. This leads to the funny scene where they try to commit suicide by throwing themselves in the river. We all know that they can never do anything right and suicide is another act that they can’t perform. They soon get talked out of it by a soldier and end up joining the foreign legion where of course all goes wrong. Even the silly act where Laurel bangs his head on the ceiling makes me laugh and its just so simple. How many double acts have we seen where one is more intelligent then the other, but not as intelligent as he thinks he is. Hardy is very pompous and laurel is like a little baby, but it’s such a beautiful friendship which continued off screen.

Together they made people laugh for around 30 years with their feature films and their short films. I love the short film where they babysit and everything always goes wrong. The song “go to sleep my baby” is wonderful. There is also Hardy’ s wife who scares the living daylights out of Hardy despite Hardy pretending he is the boss. Laurel is the unliked friend who always gets Hardy into trouble, which often leads to a broom across both their backsides.

Before Hardy’ s death they had more comedy planned, but sadly both suffered with bad health. Hardy was always a big man, but had to lose weight due to heart problems. He had a number of strokes before he died and only weighed 65kg which is ridiculously thin for someone his height. Laurel continued to write but he too suffered bad health meaning he couldn’t pick up his Oscar for his work in comedy. Danny Kaye another great comedy actor picked it up for him. Laurel died in the mid 60′s meaning it was the end of era. They are still loved by Americans today and I’m sure they have had a major influence on the comedy today.

Noah

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The animals went in two by two, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The elephant and the kangaroo, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The animals went in two by two,
The elephant and the kangaroo,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain.

The animals went in three by three, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The wasp, the ant and the bumble bee, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The animals went in three by three,
The wasp , the ant and the bumble bee,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain.

The animals went in four by four, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The great hippopotamus stuck in the door, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The animals went in four by four,
The great hippopotamus stuck in the door,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain.

The animals went in five by five, Hurrah! Hurrah!
By eating each other they kept alive, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The animals went in five by five,
By eating each other they kept alive,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain.

The animals went in six by six, Hurrah! Hurrah!
They turned out monkey because of his tricks, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The animals went in six by six,
They turned out monkey because of his tricks,

The animals went in seven by seven, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The little pig thought he was goin’ to heav’n, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The animals went in seven by seven,
The little pig thought he was goin’ to heav’n,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain,
And they all went in-to the Ark for to get out of the rain.

I have always enjoyed the story’s from the bible although I struggled with Christianity from a young age. I went to church every Sunday with mum up until the age of 15, when I was given the choice of whether I wanted to continue going to church and it was an easy decision not to. My Nan put together a reach out group for the family and the youngsters in the area which I loved going to because of the bible story’s, songs, quizzes and plays which were created, directed and written by my Nan. I was always ahead of everyone when it came to the quizzes. So although I no long follow Christianity I do still have a knowledge of the bible.
Russell Crowe as Noah in Darren Aranofsky's biblical epic
I knew before going to see the film that the story of Noah would not be followed to detail. The bible can be interpreted in many ways, but some interpret the story’s and God’s message in a way that suits them. The director definitely did this and also changed some important aspects of the word. I was very disappointed when reading reviews of the film that this was the case and so I went into the cinema with negative feelings.

The performances from the cast were brilliant and made this film a really emotional tale of a father’s love for his family, depicting his disgust at the sin of humanity and also the feelings if an ordinary man struggling to follow God’s word. I could really sense the struggles that Noah and his family were going through. Russel Crowe was a brilliant choice as Noah as a strong warrior fighting against sin and constructing the awesome ark that would be carrying the animals from earth to freedom. Jennifer Conelly always performs well and her role as a mother was difficult to play as she had to look out for her children, which could go against her husband’s role as the saviour and God’s commands. This is some power to go up against even if it provides her son’s with a happy life. Noah’ s wife wanted partners for her son’s although in the true story they were already married. This is one of the many inaccuracies in the film, which sort of sensationalized the story.
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The three sons looked rugged and almost caveman like as did the adopted daughter who was Barron and unable to provide them with children. They all had fights within themselves to either do the right thing by God or to do the best by themselves and their family. This is something that flows throughout the bible as man has to do right by God, which often means that they may suffer along the way. Even Jesus struggled as he knew he had to die on the cross, but as a man he feared this death and thought God had forsaken him. Ray Winston is the perfect enemy as Tubai Cain the leader of the sinful meat eating men who have provoked God to start life again. He is a man in God’s image, but has no belief that the floods will come . When they do he is only out for himself as the waters brush his men and women behind. Anthony Hopkins plays Mathusala with a very strong Welsh accent which seemed very strange and didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the cast. He came across as an eccentric wizard rather than a prophet and grandfather. There was a lot of fantasy in this film which is understandable as some believe the bible is pure fantasy.
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The watchmen which were fallen angels turned to stone were like characters from Lord of the rings supporting the idea of a fantasy film. These watchmen built the ark, which was like a big box as well as fighting man as they tried to enter the boat. It was a really disappointing view point and completely ruined the film in my opinion. The watchmen looked like creatures from the 80′s as did the flashbacks to the creation of earth.
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Part of the story is that man laughed at Noah for building the ark.They didn’t believe the floods were coming and that God wanted purify the earth of sin. Noah did not fight those trying to get on the boat like he did in the film and he didn’t believe that they would be the end of line . The scenes of Noah trying to kill his new born grandchildren were very unbelievable. I think this was mixed up with the story of Abraham where God tested him by telling him to kill his son Isaac. Abraham followed his God and went to kill his son before God revealed that it was just a test of Abrahams faith and he didn’t have to do it. I was pleased that God’s voice was not heard throughout the film as in previous films such as The Ten Commandments this has sounded pretty ridiculous.

Those with no knowledge of the bible are more likely to enjoy this film for film sake. The performances out shine the story itself because the word has not been followed. The fantasy aspect makes the story unbelievable and the graphics are very 80.s which is disappointing indeed. I find it hard to rate this film because I didn’t hate it, but I can only think of the performances as a positive note. I think biblical story’s have been portrayed far better on the big screen.
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Acting performance 7/10 film 6/10

Captain America: Winters Soldier

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Amy and I see many films throughout the year most of which we both want to see, but sometimes one of us wants to see a film more than the other. This was one of those occasions as we went to see Captain America, the old war hero brought back to life in the modern age to defeat the bad guys and work for Shield. I was quite surprised by the film and although I knew I wouldn’t hate it, I wasn’t that keen on seeing it, but I came out of the cinema having enjoyed an action packed film.

As a side thought, I did come out thinking about war veterans and how they cope after the wars that they fought in. Surely even Captain America would have been traumatised by some of the things he saw during WW2 as well as the events that have taken place since he was brought back. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something that only really came to our attention in recent years, but research has shown that many war veterans have suffered once war is over. They often have flash backs, nightmares, feel depressed, turn to alcohol and some even attempt suicide. This is a major issue amongst American soldiers although it is obviously something that affects you whatever nationality you are. In 2012 more American soldiers died as a result of suicide then those dying in combat. To show it isn’t just modern soldiers affected, research shows that one in twenty WW2 soldiers suffered PTSD. 479,000 male war veterans who fought in Vietnam had PTSD and 610 Female war veterans suffered this disorder too. What causes it? Well research shows that those taken as prisoners during WW2 were less likely to suffer PTSD, this is because they did not have to kill any more. Killing another human being must be one of the hardest things to do and even as a soldier I suspect that killing is not what you want to do, but sometimes to protect your family and your country, you have to do it. As a military soldier you are likely to see dead bodies, be shot at, be sexually harassed, feel lonely, kill people, be ambushed, worry about family and get hit by mortar fire. How could anyone come back from something like that and not be affected in some way?

What happens to the soldiers when they come home? Well only fifty percent of those suffering from PTSD actually seek help and of the fifty per cent that do most do not receive adequate care for the disorder. Six hundred veterans were used for a study of PTSD and fourteen percent were suffering from the disorder. Thirty-nine percent abused alcohol and three per cent abused drugs. Many had symptoms of depression of which some committed suicide. How does a soldier go on with their daily life without adequate treatment or for some no treatment at all? Some will struggle to keep their family together, some will divorce, some will struggle to gain employment, which by itself would lead to depression. I know I am strange as many wouldn’t watch Captain America and immediately think of PTSD, but it should be thought about and war veterans should be acknowledged and helped. So next time you see Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan or any other war film, you should spare a thought for those soldiers and see what you can do to help.

I hope those that wanted to hear about Captain America are still with me? I went to see this film having not seen the first film, which really didn’t matter as their were very few references to the first and when there were it was quite easy to piece the bits together. This was the same when I saw Thor 2 having not seen 1 and when I saw Ironman 3 without seeing The Avengers. Captain America always seemed to be the most boring Marvel hero, as he only really has his strength as a weapon although he can kinda fly with that shield of his. I soon changed my mind as I watched the film because plucking Captain America from WW2 is almost liking bringing an alien to earth because so much has changed over the last seventy years. I know my grandparents really struggle to keep up to date with all the latest technology, fashions and music. So to bring someone back without any time in between is a major challenge to his or her mind.
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There is so much action in this film, but there is still a great storyline to piece things together. Whether your bad or good, your goal is to get rid of the evil on the planet, but if you are bad this involves killing a hell of a lot more innocent people to achieve it. There are so many great characters in this film and they all work together brilliantly. Samuel L Jackson is Mr cool (Nick Fury) with his eye patch and dark clothing and he really is always one step ahead of everyone. Scarlet Johansson is great as Romanoff as she kicks even the biggest brutes ass. She too is also one step ahead of the enemy much to their pain and anger. Captain America has an innocence about him and is almost pure in the way he conducts his life where as others will beg, borrow and kill to get where they want to be. The most important part of this film is the corporation Shield and all I can say is that all is not what it seems in this quite complex story line. The enemy has his own story to tell even though he does not remember it as his life entwines with the life of the Captain. It takes Captain America and Romanoff to work it out, something that was long worked out by Samuel L Jackson.

There are fights, explosions, flying men, muscle men, deceit, lies, death and dodgy German accents, which make this film a thrill a minute. I didn’t yawn once and I didn’t drift off due to a lull in the story line. There are so many heroes in this film on both sides and there are also those that are weak and feeble. The link between Captain Americas previous life continues throughout the film as he marches through the modern world. There is no romance or very little which is quite refreshing really, but there are strong relationships and a type of love that friendships bring. There are links to Ironman and the avengers as you would expect, but this its not important to see these films first. Its a thrill a minute and easy to watch, so sit back and enjoy.

7/10

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300: rise of an empire

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Now the Oscars are over it seems to be slim pickings when choosing a film to go to see at the cinema. I did want to see 300 because I had enjoyed the previous one so much and since childhood I have always enjoyed Greek mythology, watching Jason and the Argonauts as well as Clash of the Titans. There are plenty of battle cries, bulging muscle and buxom lady warriors to see in this film following the battle between Persia and Greece, principally the city of Athens. I love the way the director film’s each sequence with its cloudy mysticism. Those more technically minded than me will know what type of filming this is, alas I love film but know very little about how it works.

The basic story is about a famous Greek warrior who is willing to take on the might of the Persian army. The Persians have a God ruling them in the shape of Xerxes who was once a man but became a God by immersing himself in a pool of evil after a long journey through the wilderness. Revenge is his sole endeavour as he wants to kill those that killed his father. The once powerful king was killed by a single arrow to the heart produced from the strong arms of the Greek warrior Thermestokles mentioned earlier. Xerxes is the God, But at his side is a warrior princess Artemesia who also seeks revenge, having been born a Greek, but living as a slave to the many men that killed and raped her family. She is definitely a lady not to be messed with as she can fight like a man, but can also use her body to allure those weak enough not to be able to resist temptation.

There are numerous battle scenes on the sea, but most are pretty much the same. It is a battle against the odds, skill verses numbers and one woman against one man. Eva Green is the perfect villain as she shows off her fighting skills on numerous occasions. The look of evil in her eyes most definitely keeps you hooked, there is no soft side to this warrior princess. Eva is never too scared to reveal her body in films and this is no exception. She is an attractive actress, but the camera is not so kind to her at certain angles in this film particularly when her beauty is mentioned. It is very hard to believe that Eva is French as she puts on an English accent to bring fourth her evil character. It’s funny how the English make such good villains.

Sullivan Stapleton ‘llays the Greek warrior Thermestockles and the hero very well although there are quite a few cheesy lines coming from that Australian mouth of his. This is all part if the fun and I think the hammy acting adds to the fun of the film and brings the characters to life. You can really believe that he is the hero although I’m not sure I believe that this man has has the brains and the tactics to win against such a sizeable enemy. There are more six packs on show then in a copy of men’s health, whether this is as a result of a major workout or whether they have been airbrushed on, I’m not sure?
Xerxes is the God although he looks very camp with his make up and large collection of jewellery. The difference between Xerxes human form and his change to a living God is spectacular, making you think that there are two actors playing the part, but I assure you there is is only one. In all honesty he is not the one in charge, it is Eva Green who has the balls in this war.

The film was hugely enjoyable with its many stylistic scenes, big characters and cheesey lines. It’s one of those films that does exactly what it says on the tin. The vast majority of the film involves sword play, blood, mysticism and a snippet of sex. If you don’t want to think too hard and don’t mind a group of muscular men running around with swords then this is a good film for you to see. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.

6/10

my top 10

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I was asked what my top 10 films were, which is a common question really and one I never really think about too much. How do you compare films? What makes a film your favourite? Why do some love a film and some really hate it? e.g Gravity, which I thought was an awful film, but so many loved it. The best way for me to come up with a list was not to really think about it and write down the first 10 films that came to mind that I really loved and then put them into order. I think this was the best way to do it.

Here is my list

10) Champion- Starring Kirk Douglas and directed by Mark Robson (1949)
09) Moulin Rouge- Starring Jose Ferrer and Zsa Zsa Gabor and directed by John Huston
08) The Big Country-Starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton heston and Burl Ives and directed by William Wyler (1958)
07) Spartacus- Starring Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons, Laurence Oliver, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis and Charles Laughton and directed by Stanley Kubrick (1960)
06) From here to eternity- Starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah kerr, Montgomery Clift, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra and driected by Fred Zinnermann (1953)
05) Ben Hur- Starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd and Jack Hawkins and directed by William Wyler (1959)
04) Oliver Twist- Starring Alec Guinness and Robert Newton and driected by David Lean (1948)
03) Great Expectations- Starring John Mills, Jean Simmons, Alec Guiness, Valerie Hobson and Martita Hunt and directed by David Lean (1946)
02 Kind Hearts and Coronets- Starring Alec Guinness, Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood and directed by Robert Hamer 1949)
01)Its a Wonderful Life- Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore and directed by Frank Capra (1946)

These films have given me great joy from a very young age, most of which were introduced to me by my grandparents. I think Champion was the start of some truly great boxing films, this was brutal, emotional and full of moral dilemmas. Kirk Douglas plays the part magnificently as only he could. Kirk is brilliant at playing parts with angst and anger also parts with spirit and emotion. One of my favourite films with him in it, is Lust For Life (1956) about Vincent van Gogh and as you can imagine Kirk was perfect with his ability to portray characters emotions, especially those in turmoil. Kirk Douglas gave an interview once when he was much older stating that he wasn’t the easiest person to get along with because of his drive and determination to succeed. He sometimes stepped on people to get his way and set very high standards for everyone else, ones he set for himself too. This often made him quite an unlikable man at times. He did mellow as he got older and I think the stroke he had put many things into perspective. When you look at the many films he starred in, it was and still is quite a career.
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Baz Lurhman is a great director and I love his unique style, especially the way he uses music, mixing modern with the classic tunes of the time periods. His take on the Moulin Rouge was exciting, full of energy and full of amazing characters. The film in my opinion doesn’t match up to the John Huston version telling the story of the poster artist Toulouse Lautrec. There is not quite the energy of the Lurhman take, but it does tell a very real story of a life that started promising, but ended in desperation as Toulouse was taken by the absinthe fairy and his feelings towards the CanCan girls of the Moulin Rouge were not returned. His work was iconic of the time and today he is celebrated, but then life was particularly difficult, especially having a disability like Toulouse had. Jose Ferrer played Toulouse brilliantly, spending a large amount of time on his knees to match the height of the artist, when today it could have all been completed by CGI. It has been a long time since I have seen this film as it is now rarely seen on television, but I suggest that people do because it shows what life was really like.
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A star studded cast make this western one of the best ever seen on the big screen, this coming from someone who dislikes the western genre of film. Gregory Peck once again plays the good guy, the fair one and the one who backs away from a physical fight if words are the better tool. Heston is the cowboy who is good at what he does, strong, but when something is wrong then fists start flying. These two do not like each other and do not understand each other, but have a common goal and respect is soon achieved by the end of the day. Jean Simmons is the beauty who has been brought up by a fair minded man and wants peace between the two families, she is the love interest. Burl Ives is the head of the other side and has a set of codes that he lives his life by. His family are wild, womanising and cut throat, much to his shame, but when he feels he is being dealt with unfairly then guns can do the talking. This makes for an exciting showdown between the two families. Burl Ives is a brilliant actor and has a very distinguishable voice, one I remember from a child film I saw, when he sang the Ugly Bug Ball. He plays the old fashioned father who will stick up for his family, but will deal with any misbehaviour inhouse, not being scared to use the back of his hand. Peck is the perfect good guy and Jean Simmons and him make for the perfect couple. There are so many interesting and contrasting characters, which make for a brilliant film,
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Kirk Douglas has already been mentioned as has Jean Simmons, but again the performances are brilliant, The contrast between Kirk as the warrior and the soft hearted Jean makes for a great love affair. Spartacus is on a crusade against the Romans, who are the callous and evil men, played so well by the greatest British actor to grace the screen Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis played the lover and musician, who became a brave solder alongside the warrior Spartacus and was willing to die alongside him for the cause. Films like this just do not exist now, despite all the advances in technology and the great sums of money paid to the actors. This was a big reason why I didn’t enjoy Gladiator as it had been done before and far better. Peter Ustinov brought a light heartedness to the film and through the pomposity of his character there were many laughs. The sets were amazing and the acting was superb from every member of the cast. This is just a beautiful film with great storyline to go with it.
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If you haven’t seen From Here to Eternity, you must because it is a film with love, passion, war and full of moral dilemma. Burt Lancaster is the picture of masculinity and the scene on the beach has become iconic. Lancaster is perfect in the role as he fights his love and passion for Deborah Kerrs in an affair that seems so right, but is obviously very wrong. This affair could cost both very dearly, but their love is too strong and the risks seem to outweigh their feelings. The chemistry between the two is perfect and you truly believe that there is love between them. Montgomery Clift who had his own battles off screen played his role sensitively as a soldier who refused to fight in the ring because he once blinded his sparring partner. Prewit is tested to the absolute limit by his superiors as they try to force him to fight. The punishments are severe and he is labelled a coward by those that do not know his reasons. The result would be a court-martial, but Prewit wont budge even when Lancasters character tries his hardest to get him to change his mind, looking out for his welfare in doing so. Frank Sinatra plays Prewits best friend and he supports him through, but he too has his own demons leading to many costly outcomes as the film progresses. Donna Reed pulls away from the wholesome image she portrayed in Its a Wonderful Life to play a prostitute down on her luck, who falls for private Prewit along the way. This is an outstanding performance from her, so much so that I didn’t realise it was her until a few years ago and I had watched the film numerous times. This is a film with a very strong cast, brilliant storyline, mixed up with love, war, women, drink and a strong bond between soldiers. This is the original story of pearl harbour and is a great tribute to those that died on that sad day.
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Epic is used too many times in my opinion, but Ben Hur is most definitely an epic, not just in the length of the film, but also the characterisation along with the wonderful storyline that gives us action, sports, rivalry, friendship, religion, Jesus and Rome. The Film follows the character Ben Hur as he falls from powerful beginnings to slavery as a great misjustice has been delivered by the Roman Masala played by Stephen Boyd. The once great friendship is destroyed By Masala and leaves Hestons Character and his family to a life of torture and survival. The fall is followed by a rise to become a powerful Roman Chariot racer, which gives him the chance to seek and act his revenge on the powerful Masala. Jack hawkins is the rescuer as he takes Ben Hur as his son, if only for a short time. Ben Hur seeks his Mother and Sister and is shocked by their decline leading him to seek Jesus and Christianity to help them. The film won 9 oscars and right;y so and it stands out as one of the greatest films of all time. The sets were epic as chariots raced around arenas, slaves suffered on large boats, mighty Romans lived in huge monuments and Jesus roamed the deserts and the hills. This is one of those must see before you die films.
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The next three I have spoken about in previous blogs, so I will lleave you to read those if you haven’t already. This leads me to my favourite film, which is full of sentiment, human generosity and love. The story is beautiful in itself and leads you to wonder about your own life and the impact you yourself have had on the individuals you have met along the way. It is a story of good verses evil, George Bailey being the good and Mr Potter being the evil. James Stewart plays George Bailey who grows up in a small old town, which he soon grows out of, leading him to aspire to get a good education and see the world. Circumstances mean that George has to stay and run the business, get married and have a family. Donna Reed plays George’s beautiful wife who has had a crush on George from the very moment she met him as a child at the sweet shop. They have a family and it seems that George is stuck in this town forever, running the family business. They are living in difficult times and an incident occurs where George loses everything and could possibly face prison. This plight leads him to contemplate suicide and he heads to the bridge to end it all. George’s life is being watched by a guardian angel who has not earned his wings and needs one good deed to help gain them. This deed is to save George and he does this by throwing himself over the bridge so that George will rescue him, which he does. From this point George is given a great gift, he is shown what life would be like he never existed and believe me it is a real eye opener and not for good reasons either. This is a beautiful film that makes you appreciate the impact you have on those around you and how little things can make big changes. James Stewart is perfect as George Bailey, with his distinctive voice, that always brings great warmth to the characters he plays. Donner Reed is part of a beautiful relationship, which is focused on family. There is nothing in this film that bursts from the screen, it is about the life of an ordinary man, who is kind, generous and has the same battles as any other person, but his actions have had a major impact on those around him no matter how small they seem.
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Well there you go, here are my ten favoutite films for you to look over and hopefully I have convinced you to see them yourself. Please let me know what you think and share with me the films that you greatly admire. To pick ten is almost impossible because there are hundreds of amazing films out there which can often be very personal to you and your life.