Wednesday, 8 March 2017

10 Modern Greats That Teenagers Can Enjoy

Not every teenager wants to watch brain-numbing superhero movies with the same, recycled plot, or films about vampires kissing wolves in a dystopian future.  
If you're looking for something with a bit more substance, here are a few of my PG-13-rated suggestions...

The Way Way Back (2013)
An absolutely fantastic coming-of-age story.  Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend's daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

Sing Street (2016)
Funny and charming in huge doses.  A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

Captain Phillips (2013)
A tense, nervy, phenomenal thriller.  The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of an American cargo ship, the first to be hijacked in two hundred years.

Big Eyes (2014)
A brilliant real-life drama about painter Margaret Keane and her phenomenal success in the 1950s and 1960s when her husband claimed credit for her works.

The Imitation Game (2014)
An intense, interesting story set during World War II when mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the Nazi's enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

Eddie the Eagle (2016) 
The story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

The Help (2011)
An emotionally charged movie about an aspiring author who, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, decides to write a book detailing the African American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

... and let's not forget; even teenagers like a good cartoon.  Here are three of the best...

Zootopia (2016)
A funny, exciting mystery movie with a great message at its heart.  In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

Inside Out (2015)
Groundbreaking film-making.  Possibly the greatest animated movie ever made.  
After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

Wreck It Ralph (2012)
One of Disney's hidden gems.  A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

10 Great Films You May Not Have Seen From Recent Years

Behind the Candelabra (2013)
A chronicle of the tempestuous six year romance between megastar singer, Liberace, and his teenage lover, Scott Thorson.  

The Hunt (2013)
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Danish with English subtitles.

Blue Ruin (2013)
A mysterious outsider's quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
A teenager living in 1970s San Francisco enters into an affair with her mother's boyfriend.

The Gift (2015)
A young married couple's lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband's past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

Solace (2015)
A psychic works with the FBI in order to hunt down a serial killer.

Trumbo (2015)
In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.

Concussion (2015)
In Pittsburgh, accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ten Horrors (with trailers): List Hero's Halloween

10  /  Let the Right One in  /  2008

9  /  The Strangers  /  2008

8  /  The Shining  /  1980

7  /  The Skin I Live In  /  2012

6  /  Saw  /  2004

5  /  The Exorcist  /  1973

4  /  Pan's Labyrinth  /  2006

3  /  The Wicker Man  /  1973

2  /  The Devil's Backbone  /  2001

1  /  Psycho  /  1960

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

RIP Robin Williams: List Hero's Top 10

As a tribute to the amazing hairy-armed Robin Williams, who gave laughs to grown-ups and children alike as well as providing some of the most wonderful acting ever seen on screen, here are my ten favourite Robin Williams flicks.

10 / Insomnia  /  2002

In Christopher Nolan's thriller, two Los Angeles homicide detectives (Al Pacino and Hilary Swank) are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.  In a rare twist for Williams, he plays the killer.

9  /  Dead Poets Society  /  1989

In this critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated affair, Williams plays English teacher John Keating who attempts to inspire his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day.  

8  /  Jack  /  1996

Jack is a fairly forgotten movie nowadays; it seems amazing to think that this was directed by Francis Ford Coppola (director of The GodfatherApocalypse Now).  However, I have to admit that this had me in tears when I first saw it. Due to an unusual aging disorder that has aged him four times faster than a normal human being, Jack (Robin Williams) enters the fifth grade for the first time with the appearance of a 40 year old man.

7  /  Mrs Doubtfire  /  1993

A childhood classic!  After a bitter divorce, an actor - played by Williams - disguises himself as a female housekeeper, Mrs Doubtfire, in order to spend time with his children held in custody by his former wife.

6  /  Awakenings  /  1990

Here Williams plays Dr Malcolm Sayer, who is treating the victims of an encephalitis epidemic many years ago that have been catatonic ever since.  However, now a new drug offers the prospect of reviving them.  The film features stunning performances from both Williams and Robert De Niro.

5  /  Hook  /  1991

Another childhood classic!  When Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan (Robin Williams) must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.

4  /  Good Will Hunting  /  1997

Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist (Williams) to find direction in his life.  This Oscar-nominated movie was written by Damon and Ben Affleck, directed by Gus Van Sant.

3  /  Jumanji  /  1995

Yet another childhood classic!  When two kids find and play a magical board game, they release a man, Alan Parrish (Williams), trapped for decades in it and a host of dangers that can only be stopped by finishing the game.

2  /  Aladdin  /  1992

In this Disney classic, Williams goes into a league of his own with his voice-over work as the Genie.

1  /  One Hour Photo  /  2002

In my favourite Robin Williams movie, he plays the creepy employee of a one-hour photo lab who becomes obsessed with a young suburban family.  Superb stuff.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Foreign Film Apocalypse: Who Would You Save?

The aliens have arrived!  They've decided that they want all of our foreign language films (they can't bare English) and we're never allowed to see them again!  However, these aliens aren't so harsh; they've said, in their own alien language, that we can keep the cinema of four countries.  

So, which countries' cinematic history would you save?

Here are my picks...

#1  France
While French cuisine doesn't entice me and I'm not over-enamoured by vin français, I have happily feasted on French cinema over the last 10 years.  Whether its the likability of great actors such as Gerard Depardieu or Daniel Autueil, the beauty of stars like Marion Cotillard (above, as Edith Piaf in Le Vie En Rose), Audrey Tautou and Juliette Binoche, the quirkiness of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet flick, or the pure grittiness of movies such as La Haine or A Prophet... there are so many great movies from over the Channel that the French would certainly be top of my list.  The French also had a recent win at the Oscars with Best Foreign Language Film being awarded to 2012's Amour.

To see my Top Ten French Movies, CLICK HERE.

#2  Spain
Spain has supplied some of my favourite movies, including those made by Mexican director, Guillermo Del Toro, such as Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone.  Similarly, Spain's most famous director is probably Pedro Almodovar, who was responsible for the amazingly dark The Skin I Live In (above), and his film All About My Mother was 1999's Best Foreign Language Film according to the Academy Awards.  The last Spanish movie to pick up the aforementioned gong was The Sea Inside, which starred Javier Bardem, who (along with Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz) has gone on to great success in Hollywood.

#3  Argentina
In my experience, the Argentines are consistently good film makers.  Check out The Motorcycle Diaries, Bombon El Perro (above) or The Secret in Their Eyes, which won 2009's Academy Award for Best Foreign Lanaguage Film, and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

#4  Denmark
If you like your movies with a kiss of darkness, which I do, Denmark appears to be the place to find it.  Check out Festen (above) or The Hunt, which was nominated for 2013's Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, and you'll see what I mean. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

BFG (Big Film Go-Ahead)

Steven Spielberg has confirmed that he is going to direct the imminent adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG, which is fantastic news... or is it?

Many may be overjoyed that a book, with such popularity among children (and adults alike), is in capable cinematic hands.  This will be the classic book's second adaption; the first being an animated version in 1989, and, while some may be pleased about Spielberg's involvement, it actually seems almost as long since the director of E.T. had that special, golden touch.  You are obviously entitled to argue that I am in no place to sit here and criticise an outstanding director such as Steven Spielberg.  However, let's take a look at five of Spielberg's latest movies as a director.

Lincoln  (2012).  Maybe it's because I'm not American but the movie's grey tone and slow dialogue bored me to an early night.

War Horse  (2011).  An adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's book that should have made me cry but somehow Mr Spielberg failed to pull the emotional heartstrings.
The Adverntures of Tintin  (2011).  Great animation and a superb vocal cast failed to engage me with this adaption of Hergé's comics.  Quite frankly, the plot baffled me; there were chases but I'm not entirely sure what they were chasing. 

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).  A pointless addition to the Indiana Jones series that was extremely disappointing, especially when you consider that it took almost 20 years to conceptualise.  

War of the Worlds (2005).  A terrible adaptation of HG Wells' classic novel; a flawed script and disappointing aliens.

While this selection of Spielberg flicks may have been both commercially successful and picked up awards, they do not inspire huge confidence in me that his 2016 adaptation of The BFG will be anything other than a cash cow.  The BFG deserves love and care and I hope that Mr Dahl's magical tale may prove to be the catalyst that inspires Mr Spielberg to return to the once untouchable director of ET or Jaws.

Thus, not wanting to appear utterly pessimistic, here's are The List Hero's Favourite Steven Spielberg Movies.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

List Hero's TV Highlights of 2014 - January to March

#1  Line of Duty
12th February - 19th March

The last couple of months have seen a number of British police dramas from both the BBC and ITV running alongside each other.  Line of Duty, which explores the corruption with the police force, quite simply puts the others to shame.  Slick production, top quality acting - from a cast featuring the outstanding Keeley Hawes, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure (above), Mark Bonnar and Adrian Dunbar - as well as a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end, means that Line of Duty has been head and shoulders above its competitors.  

#2  The Widower
17th March - 31st March

An excellent three-part ITV drama that told the true story of Malcolm Webster, who murdered his first wife in Scotland in 1994 and then attempted to murder his second wife in New Zealand.  Both cases involved staged car crashes and were carried out for the life insurance money.  The show starred Reece Shearsmith, whose amazing performance must surely have staked an early claim for a BAFTA.
#3  Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle
4th March - 5th April

Now in its third glorious series, comedian Stewart Lee smugly delivers half-an-hour of stand-up each week. There is little middle ground where Lee's concerned; marmite-esque, you either love him or hate him.  Like the first two series of Comedy Vehicle, this one blends chunks of low-lit stand-up with psychotherapy sessions supplied by always irreverent Chris Morris, who pre-empts Lee’s haters and giving an audibly sneering voice to their loathing in improvised "therapy" sequences.  In this series, Lee tackles issues such as satire, “the UKIPs”, and whether or not it is possible to have a context-free word.

#4  True Detective
Sky Atlantic
22nd February - 12th April

With the dream acting combination of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson added to a fascinating murder mystery in the eerie setting of Louisiana's bayou region, True Detective has not been your average cop drama.  While the show may have been a little slow to get going and the finale wasn't quite as satisfactory as expected, True Detective certainly had some highlights through it's strange production and off-centre acting from McConaughey.

#5  Inside No.9
5th February - 12th March

Six thirty-minute, independent playlets written by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith from the League of Gentlemen.  What more could you want?  Dark humour, humorous horror and some wonderful writing could be seen throughout the series.  The highlight of the series would have to be the third episode, named Tom & Gerri, which, in my opinion, is a televisual masterpiece.