Top Ten Actors


That I’d watch in pretty much anything.

Inspired from a post over at Where The Wild Things Are and then also at Cinema Parrot Disco, I have chosen to compile the idea from both male and female ‘actors’ rather than doing separate lists… mainly because I was struggling with ten for actresses without being swayed by their attractive qualities…it’s a bloke thing.

Emma Stone

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Favourite movie:  Easy A

Leonardo DiCaprio

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Favourite movie:  Catch Me If You Can

Christoph Waltz

christoph waltz

Favourite movie:  Inglorious Basterds

Marianne Cotillard

Marianne Cotillard

Favourite movie:  Inception

Philip Seymour Hoffman (R.I.P.)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Favourite movie:  Almost Famous

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

Favourite movie:  Boogie Nights

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Favourite movie:  Born of the Fourth of July

Edward Norton

Edward Norton

Favourite movie:  Fight Club

Samuel L Jackson

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Favourite movie:  Pulp Fiction

Cate Blanchett

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Favourite movie:  Blue Jasmine

There are many more, but these are the ones I tend to find myself watching regardless of what role they are in, and the movies mentioned above are the roles I have most enjoyed them in, not necessarily their best.  For actors I tend to avoid…the list is shorter, but I’m not a fan of Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black and to an extent … Ben Affleck.

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


Viewed – 08 June 2014  Pay-per-view

I never saw the previous, highly regarded Jack Ryan movies; the Alec Baldwin starring The Hunt For Red October, the Harrison Ford vehicles Clear & Present Danger etc.  Something about their overly serious approach to CIA espionage action always had me leaning more towards Mission Impossible or the James Bond franchise for my escapism.  Now in the wake of his credible turns in the recent Star Trek reboots, pretty-boy actor Chris Pine steps into the shoes of a more rookie Ryan, in this origin tale to Tom Clancy’s famed character.

jack ryan

I’ll admit the casting of the likeable Pine drew my attention and well, I can be a sucker for a good action thriller.  Here we also get Kenneth Branagh, another actor I have admired, albiet in a typical English-thesp cast as the bad guy turn, as a Russian terrorist attempting to over throw the U.S. economy.  I was hoping Hollywood had grown out of such casting by now.  He is also the director so maybe he only has himself to blame for that.  Pine however has Keira Knightley as his girlfriend who gets caught up in proceedings when she follows him to Russia fearing his secretive goings-on are hiding an affair.  This is fairly formulaic stuff, and isn’t helped by a chemistry-free pairing of Pine & Knightley, whose relationship is given no weight due to the fact their casual hook-up during a prologue hospitalization is glossed over.  Costner also offers little more than his presence and a mentor vibe (which seems to be his thing these days, see: Man of Steel).  Thankfully Branagh’s villain is fairly decent and charismatic.  The biggest problem though is that we’re presented yet again with a thriller more interested in fancy rapid-fire editing, it’s pounding score and a great deal of espionage mumbo-jumbo than conveying a plot that is easy to follow or characters and situations we can care about.  Doesn’t help either that what action there is, is fairly limply handled and over before you can get into any of it.

For Chris Pine fans, its worth seeing, and I expect we’ll see a more polished sequel down the line.  Yet I’ll hazard a guess for Ryan enthusiasts … you’re probably better off with the books.  Everyone else, this is simply a glossy but otherwise by-the-numbers thriller – and not a particularly surprising one at that.

Verdict:  2 /5

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World


Viewed – 12 January 2013  DVD

Steve Carell (40 Year Old Virgin) plays Dodge, an easy going insurance salesman whose wife runs out on him during the run up to a meteorite hitting the planet.  As chaos erupts and everyone starts making their final arrangements, Dodge stumbles upon Penny (Keira Knightley) an equally unlucky in love British girl.  Soon they are taking to the road in hope of being with those that they love.

Seeking-a-Friend-for-the-End-of-the-World-1

This is a likable romantic comedy that suffers from a bit of personality disorder.  The first half seemed quite broad comedy, with a few crude gags and bizarre characters.  Then it changed, got more serious and meaningful, and became all the better for it.  The scripts is quite sharp with some good lines (“I want you to be my last”), and the performances are decent with Knightley, usually annoying, proving quite charming for a change.  Also the concept is believably done … with some good observations, saying much on how we really might act during an apocalypse.

As a refreshing take on end of the world movies this proved interesting and at times quite touching, but seemed a bit too slight overall to really shine. Still, a passable night’s viewing.

Verdict:  3 /5

A Dangerous Method


Viewed – 14 August 2012  Blu-ray

As a fan of David Cronenberg for many years, I will normally seek out anything he does.  Although he has stepped away from his horror background of late with thrillers A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises, he has maintained throughout an expert eye for emotional character pieces, none more so than this absorbing drama.

Michael Fassbender is Carl Jung, a Psychologist working in Switzerland who comes across a young woman suffering from hysteria (Kiera Knightley) and turns to famed professor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) to help in her treatment, leading to the beginnings of psycho-analysis.  Although the subject fascinated me, I was surprised to be drawn in so deeply by this well acted and interesting movie, which has three strong performances from its leads, especially Fassbender in a very complex role as a man torn between his professional ethics and his sexual desires.  Mortenson is also very good as Freud, although for such a famous name, is a little side-lined.  Knightley, although effective as the troubled Sabina Spielrein is somewhat over the top, with her constant gurning and facial tics bordering on comical.  Doesn’t help that her accent is also pretty ropey.

For a David Cronenberg movie this may be lightweight (the s&m aspects of Spielrein’s condition are only lightly explored), but his often used themes of human psychology and sexuality are a perfect fit, and along with some simply beautiful locations (the architecture and settings of Vienna and Zurich enrich proceedings) and compelling performances, I found this very enjoyable.

 Verdict:  4 /5