Category Archives: Film

I Keep a Movie Journal

by Jake McMillan

Some people keep a diary or journal. If I could freeze time at the end of the day, I would write a diary too. Actually, if I could freeze time there would be a few mischievous things I would do first, but you get the point. There isn’t the time in the 21st century to write a diary. However, I keep a log of the movies I watch.

Ever since I got access to a VHS recorder as a kid (yes, I’m that old), I recorded and watched films all the time. I would stay up beyond my bedtime curfew to watch films as quietly as possible, with one ear on the film and one ear listening out for my parents footsteps on the stairs. At birthdays and Christmas, family would give me blank video tapes as presents which was great but it was pretty easy to guess what the present was. My Nan also had the odd habit of buying a 5 pack of VHS tapes and then wrapping up each one individually? However they were given, I was always very grateful and ALL got utilised, mostly on Long Play.

[Young folk, Long Play was a VHS feature that allowed you to record at half speed. So a 3hr tape turned into 6hrs of recording time. The quality was not quite as good, but then TVs weren’t that good then either so it wasn’t a big deal]

So for me, movies are a big deal … for you it might be books, music, food, sports, etc. … and it forms a big and regular part of your life. I decided to keep a journal of the films I watched, the format and who I was with and any brief thoughts/comments that would help remind me of  that day/week.

And if that isn’t geeky and sad enough, I have also used this spreadsheet log to analyse my film watching habits. For example, in the past year:

  • I watched an average of 22.5 movies a month
  • The most common method of watching films was by DVD (38%)
  • Films on TV accounted for 17% of all films viewed, Blu-ray 14% and online 11%
  • Online watching included via LoveFilm, Netflix, BBC’s iPlayer and YouTube
  • Only 8% of films watched were at the cinema

As well as these stats, it’s been really interesting to look back and see what I have done this year. 2012 has been, fortunately for me, a really fantastic year of lots of travel and fun stuff going on. This journal approach allows me to very quickly and easily to look back at what I have been doing and be reminded of some great memories.

If you have a notion of keeping a diary, but don’t have the time, then maybe you could do something similar to this?

100 Actors Better Than Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise

by Jake McMillan


This started as a debate between my friend Adam and I. He claimed Mark Wahlberg is a very underrated actor, which I agreed with to a certain extent, but feel his range is limited – he’s good at either dim or tough guys. I then said Brad Pitt was similar, but then corrected myself as Brad is a good actor, but he wouldn’t make my top one hundred list of actors.

What about Tom Cruise? Adam asked. I like Tom Cruise, but again I wouldn’t put him in my top one hundred list of greatest actors. The challenge was then extended and accepted.

I set some rules for my list to make it an authentic challenge, that it had to be male actors who were still alive and they had to have a reasonable movie presence or career, not just TV or Theatre work.

So, here is my list, in no particular order of 100 actors better at acting than Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise:

Anthony Hopkins
Morgan Freeman
Russell Crowe
Christian Bale
Tom Hardy
Dustin Hoffman
Gene Hackman
Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Paul Giamatti
Kevin Spacey
Harrison Ford
George Clooney
William H Macy
Guy Pearce
James Gandofini
Michael Caine
Al Pacino
Robert De Niro

Joe Pesci
Harvey Keitel
Jon Voight
Michael Sheen
Alec Baldwin
Ryan Gosling
Viggo Mortensen
Adrien Brody
Patrick Stewart
Ian McKellan
Tom Hanks
Alan Arkin
Ed Harris
Jonathan Pryce
Christopher Plummer
Max von sydow
Kenneth Branagh

Benicio Del Toro
William Hurt
Ralph Fiennes
Daniel Day Lewis
Ben Kingsley
Clint Eastwood
Robert Duvall
Liam Neeson
Ewan McGregor
Ian McShane
Alfred Molina
Leonardo DiCaprio
Johnny Depp
Geoffrey Rush
Willem Dafoe
Brian Cox
Albert Finney
James Caan

Joaquin Phoenix
Bill Murray
Christopher Walken
Tom Wilkinson
Javier Bardem
Colin Firth
Jean Reno
Gary Oldman
Tim Roth
Sean Penn
Michael Gambon
Jeff Bridges
Robert Redford
Jack Nicholson
Denzel Washington
Tommy Lee Jones
John Malkovich

John Hurt
Donald Sutherland
James Woods
Gerard Depardieu
Forest Whitaker
Jeremy Irons
James Cromwell
Giovanni Ribisi
Steve Buscemi
Peter O’Toole
Sam Rockwell
Gabriel Byrne
Mickey Rourke
Laurence Fishburne
Rhys Ivans
Stellan Skarsgard
Brendan Gleeson
John Turturro
Samuel L Jackson
Danny Aiello
Vincent Cassel
Jaime Foxx
Will Smith
Michael Douglas
Mark Ruffalo
Tim Robbins
Ethan Hawke
Billy Bob Thornton
Frank Langella
Nick Nolte

Do you agree?

Dear Mr Fincher

Dear Mr Fincher,

I am writing to express my disappointment at your remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It wasn’t a bad film, don’t get me wrong, but because of your impressive film-making record I was expecting more. A lot more.

When I heard that the film was going to be remade for English-speaking markets I did not have high hopes as the original Swedish film, 2009’s The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo directed by Niels Arden Opley, is a very good film that does not really need to be remade. However, when I heard that you were directing and that Steven Zaillion was writing the screenplay I was greatly encouraged and thought you would be able to enhance the visuals, intensify the story, draw more out of the characters and electrify the dialogue. You did not achieve any of this.

Perhaps I have too high expectations, but then I know you set high expectations for yourself and all those who work with you. The film felt like you were on cruise control, only operating at 70% of your abilities. If the original film didn’t exist we would be saying it is a good film, not amazing, but that it was a fairly decent story but unlikely to be remembered years down the line. However, the original does exist and so we can make a direct comparison.

This film very much felt like Red Dragon compared to the original Manhunter. It copied the story, but just didn’t make it work as well despite the great actors and film-makers involved.

Alarm bells started to ring the moment the credits sequence began. It seemed so out of balance with the story and I couldn’t help but think it was a bit like a naff James Bond credits sequence. As Daniel Craig is starring this immediately left my mind thinking about this rather than getting involved into the story. The credits sequence was definitely a misjudgement.

It must be so annoying that people make these comparisons with the original, but it is inevitable when doing a remake and am sure you would have been concious of this more than anyone. This is why I was so disappointed. The original film had a much tighter story, for example, Lisbeth is monitoring Mikael’s computer and spots what he is working on and helps him solve the bible reference numbers problem. Whereas in your version, you felt the need for the daughter to come and visit to solve this which made it all a bit more long-winded and didn’t help the story move as quickly or help establish the relationship between Lisbeth and Mikael.

Noomi Rapace did such an amazing job playing Lisbeth Salander that it is hard to imagine anyone else playing that role but I thought Rooney Mara did a really excellent job. She still wasn’t quite as rough and gritty as Noomi, but still a great effort that she desrves recognition for. Daniel Craig was okay as Mikael, but I thought Michael Nyqvist was much more believable physically as an ageing investigative journalist.

The difficult role of of rapist Nils Bjurman was played far more sinisterly by Peter Andersson in the original whereas Yorick van Wageningen seemed more simple and a bit of fool. The original made it much clearer the hold he had over Lisbeth and why she went along with it.

The part of the story where Mikael finds the photos of the parade and notices Harriet staring at someone was carried out much better in the original and the photos used were just more convincing and helped tell the story better.

The ending of the film (both the Harriet twist and Lisbeth being in love with Mikael) was also a lot weaker than the original film and I got up feeling dissatisfied. But then maybe I’m not the target audience, the people who wouldn’t want to watch a good film if it had subtitles.

Basically, this is a below par effort from you Mr Fincher and I expect and demand you to do better next time out.

Yours, still a fan,


VOTE: The Best James Bond Film

Since 1962 twenty-two ‘official’ James Bond films have been made, with the 23rd due out next year.

But which one is your favourite? VOTE below. Need help deciding, click here to read  my favourite James Bond films >>>

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My 5 Favourite James Bond Films

I wanted to pick just one, but I couldn’t … so I have picked 5 instead. My game, my rules. However, you can vote for your favourite(s) here.

In no discernible order, here are my favourite 5 James Bond films:

1. From Russia with Love (1963)
 Although it seems a little old fashioned now, this classic bond flick always seems like a true  spy adventure rather than some of the more fantastical stories that came later on. Set during the cold war, the evil group SPECTRE plays Russian and British intelligence forces off each other by luring 007 to Istanbul to meet a Russian girl, Tatiana Romanova, who claims she has fallen in love with his photograph. It seems an obvious trap but there is a chance to get hold of the Russian Lektor decoding machine. Bond gets the girl and the Lektor and makes his get away, but before he is free he has a brutal train encounter with Donald ‘Red’ Grant as well as the infamous Rosa Klebb with her poisoned-tipped shoe.

2. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
 This story is elevated to the higher ranks as the three-titted baddie Francisco Scaramanga is so elegantly played by Christopher Lee and provides a true test for Roger Moore’s James Bond. They are both at the top of their field but on opposite sides of the law. Nick Nack is great as Scaramanga’s henchmen and Maud Adams (who would later play Octopussy) and Britt Ekland make good Bond girls, not to mention a flying car and an amazing spinning car jump over a river. Perhaps not the overall best bond movie, but has all the right elements to be a great bond film: great locations, great stunts, great baddie and great bond girls.

3. Goldfinger (1964)
 Probably the most famous James Bond film of all time and is the film that set the tone for the James Bond films that followed. It is an obvious choice for the best Bond film as it has a great villain, Auric Goldfinger, a great henchman, Oddjob, arguably the best Bond girl in Pussy Galore and features the Aston Martin DB5 full of cool gadgets (e.g. passenger ejector seat). Starting with the unforgettable scene featuring a dead Shirley Eaton covered in gold paint, the story crosses from Europe to the US and has a finale involving a break in to Fort Knox. It even contains some memorable dialogue such as Bond asking Goldfinger if he expects him to talk whilst having a laser beam directed at him and Goldfinger replying, “No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die!”.

4. A View to a Kill (1985)
 In some ways this should be a terrible Bond film as Roger Moore is almost 60, but in fact it is a truly entertaining 007 adventure. Oscar winner Christopher Walken sizzles as the baddie Max Zorin who wants to destroy California’s Silicon Valley and Grace Jones is gloriously outrageous as Zorin’s henchlady May Day. Tanya Roberts is quite sexy but not much else as Bond girl Stacey Sutton. There are some great stunt sequences in Paris including the car chopped in half racing around and a dangerous finale at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Duran Duran‘s title song is also one of the best, if not the best Bond song.

5. Live and Let Die (1973)
 The James Bond franchise was completely re-invigorated by Roger Moore’s first outing as 007 who superbly took on the role and made it his own. Live and Let Die is a great Bond adventure that has lots of fantastic moments and elements to the film: A good baddie, well two good baddies both played by Yaphet Kotto (Kananga/Mr Big), the beautiful Solitaire (Jane Seymour), a great henchmen in Tee Hee who has a metal prosthetic arm and the weird but wonderful Geoffrey Holder as the mysterious Baron Samedi. The movie has great moments such as the Alligator Farm and the boat chase as well as comic relief from Sherrif J W Pepper. Add to all this a cracking title song from Paul and Linda McCartney.

Agree? Disagree? Vote for your favourite James Bond films here.

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Top 5 Buddy Movies

by Jake McMillan

Here are 5 movies that not only epitomise friendship, but are better films because of the chemistry of the buddy relationship.

1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are simply superb as amiable bank-robbers Butch and Sundance portraying a very real and genuine friendship.

The nature of their conversation whilst surrounded by the Bolivian Army and facing almost certain death reveals their friendship:

2. Lethal Weapon 2

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover sizzle as the odd pairing of cops, Riggs crazy and out of control and Murtaugh the careful good family man who is about to retire.

3. Superbad

Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as best friends Seth and Evan, but are about to head off to different colleges.

4. Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor are at their very comedic best as a deaf guy and a blind guy who get inadvertently involved witnessing a murder and have the killers chasing them.

5. Bad Boys

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are cops that don’t initially see eye to eye, but become best buds.