My top 5 Christmas movies

Well the best Christmas movies I think there are anyway, I am talking the gems that I watch every year without fail…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This has been such a firm favourite in my family for the last few years. I would estimate I have seen this movie somewhere around 20 times and I still laugh at the same parts, a great movie for getting into the Christmas spirit, having a good laugh and definitely one of my all time favourites!

Most memorable line: “Hey Griswold, where d’ya think you’re going to put a tree that big?” . “Bend over and I’ll show you.”

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It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey (played by the wonderful James Stewart) is not having a good Christmas – he is in major financial distress and is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve until his guardian angel Clarence intervenes to show him what life would be like if he had never existed.

The line – ‘Look daddy, every time a bell a rings, an angel gets his wings’ still gets me every time and leaves a lump in my throat.

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Elf

I ended up watching Elf twice in two days over Christmas last year as it just gets better every time. I havent seen Will Ferrell be so funny in a movie since I watched Old School and this is just chock full of hilarious one liners and facial expressions from start to finish not to mention the legendary dance scene.

“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favourite colour?”

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Scrooged

Anything with Bill Murray in it is worth a watch in my book and Scrooged is a contemporary twist on the classic – when I say contemporary I mean 1988 of course and boy is this 1988. For anyone who grew up watching movies from the 80s this is bad hair and fashion at its worst and a joy to watch.

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Home Alone

Can you believe it’s 22 years since this movie and Macaulay Culkin made their debut? Every kid has contemplated what they would do if they were left ‘home alone’ and being the youngest with older brothers, I could sympathise with Kevin’s character in this but the fun really starts when he starts defending his house against a brilliant Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

“Keep the change you filthy animal”

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Some other movies worth mentioning, although not strictly Christmas movies, but I associate them with Christmas as they will be on TV at some stage and I will lie on the couch eating mince pies and tins of sweets watching them as I do every year – ET, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Love Actually  and for those of you who might be anti Christmas, Bad Santa is a good choice alongside The Grinch.

What will you be watching this Christmas?

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Post apocalytic panda packs a punch

I came across this beautifully put together three min prologue online of Wastelander Panda – a live action series that tells the story of the last remaining panda in a post apocalytic world.

It was developed by Australian based Epic Films who made the prologue and circulated it virally online in a bid to raise enough money through crowd funding to make three more episodes. Channelling Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Mad Max and Gladiator, the short movie packs a punch.

They have succeeded on the back of this of raising AUS $25,000 so the first three series will be rolled out so I’ll be watching this space to see where they make them available.

The short prologue video is available to view here on vimeo and more about Epic Films here

Where are Charlie, Veruca, Mike, Violet and Augustus now?

I started watching this for the hundredth time over the weekend, one of the all time greats and got to wondering what ever became of all the mini stars – are they still in showbiz? Or was this the peak of their acting prowess. Well after a bit of research I can reveal that among Charlie, Veruca, Mike, Violet and Augustus we have a vet, two accountants and two actors…..

Peter Ostrum (born November 1957) who played Charlie Bucket now practices as an American large animal veterinarian. His only film role was Charlie Bucket and he never continued with acting afterwards. A native of Cleveland, Ostrum practices and lives in Lowville, New York with his wife and two children. He has been called “the most famous man in Lowville”, where the local video store has twice worn out its VHS copy of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Julie Dawn Cole (born October 26, 1957) who played Veruca Salt has remained in acting since her famous role and has appeared in numerous English television, film and stage performances over 40 years. She says that whenever her daughter did anything brattish when she was younger she would say ‘Is there a problem, Veruca? Can I help you?’ That always snapped her out of it.”

 

 

Paris Themmen (born June 25, 1959) who played Mike Teevee in the 1971 film has dabbled in various careers, including commercial casting, film production, Disney Imagineering, retail, real estate, and finance. Acting appearances as an adult include “Virtuoso”, a 2000, sixth season episode of the TV series Star Trek: Voyager, and as a contestant billed as a “former child star” in two 2008 episodes of the American game show Duel.

 

 

Denise Nickerson (born April 1, 1957) who played Violet Beauregarde in the movie turned 21 in 1978, and opted to quit acting at that time. Since then, she has appeared on television sporadically and currently works as an accountant at an engineering plant in Colorado. She does keep in touch with her co-stars however.

 

Michael Böllner (born 14 September 1958) who played Augustus Gloop said he enjoyed acting in the film, even though he could not speak English beforehand and had to have his lines coached by a crew member. He did a few more films in Germany after Willy Wonka  but soon quit because his father said he should finish school. He is now a tax accountant in Munich.

So there you go!

 

 

Short but sweet – The Porcelain Unicorn

This has been a week for films with the Oscars last night and the end of the Dublin Film Festival yesterday. There are lots of good movies out there but sometimes you come across a short piece which makes you realise that a little can be a lot.

I came across just this some time ago but think it’s definitely worth a post again. In 2010, the director/producer Ridley Scott launched a global filmmaker competition dubbed Tell It Your Way following its Cannes Lions award-winning short-film project Parallel Lines.

The entrants were given freedom of expression and could take up any theme they wanted; still there were two strict rules: there had to be the exactly six-lines of dialogue as it was in the Parallel Lines films, plus the entries could be no longer than three minutes.

Here’s the prize-winning entry in the Tell It Your Way competition called The Porcelain Unicorn, an amazing achievement in three mins which you can watch here.

Movie picks of the day

I am hoping to get to Paris later on in the year, I lived in France and have spent so much time in different parts but have yet to get to Paris so a long weekend is being planned with much anticipation.

I got thinking about this great movie which came out in 2006. It’s a series of 20 x 5 minute vignettes from different directors including heavyweights The Coen Brothers, Wes Craven, Gus Van Sant and other French directors. The theme is simply ‘Paris’ and the result is great.

Then I saw that New York, I love you had been done in 2009 around the same concept. I HEART NYC so I am really looking forward to seeing this next. Directors include Fatih Akin, Allen Hughes, Natalie Portman and more.

Some potential movie picks for tonight? I wonder what city they will do next….

Volta.ie in a nutshell @Volta

What is Volta?  Volta is an Irish video on demand service for Irish and international independent film. Films can be rented or bought, streamed or downloaded.

What’s with the name? Volta was the first cinema in Ireland opened by James Joyce in 1909.

How much is it? It’s essentially pay-per-view. Movies typically seem to start at €3.99 for 48 hour rental or start at €6.99 to buy.

Netflix just launched too so what’s the difference between them? Netflix.ie is €6.99 per month and you can watch as many movies as you like and the catalogue is pretty big (and they claim it is just set to grow and grow).

So why choose volta.ie? Personally,  I think the Volta catalogue is far superior. It specialises in independent and low budget movies and Irish titles, typically movies that would be hard to find or would find it hard to get released on DVD otherwise. I think of it in terms of Volta being Laser versus Netflix being Xtra Vision.

Another benefit is that Volta claim to get films on the same date that they appear in the cinema which is pretty cool for obvious reasons or if not on the day then close to DVD release date. Particularly good for reaching out to more audiences around the country.

It’s Irish…I for one need a very strong reason not to support any new Irish initiative at the moment.

So to put them to the test I want to watch Italian movie The Salt of Life tonight as I loved Mid August Lunch, is it available? No it’s not available on either but I did see a few others on Volta which caught my eye – Un Secret or Irish film The Runway which I stumbled upon being shot in West Cork in 2010 but never heard anything else about so now I am starting to see the appeal!

Gift ideas for those you love

I am currently on the hunt for gift ideas. You would think I would currently be earning a well deserved hiatus following the Christmas present season but I have several birthdays coming up including my mum and dad and some friends and I even have to think of something small for Valentine’s Day seeing as it is our first married – phew here are some of the thoughts going through my head.

The Great Food Boxset by Penguin Classics £140: Collecting together the twenty Great Food titles, from Elizabeth David’s A Taste of the Sun to MFK Fisher’s Love in a Dish, this is a boxed collection of the series. Great for any foodies or aspiring chefs.

Downton Abbey: Season 1 & 2 Boxset £24.97 on Amazon: I haven’t seen this yet myself but have heard really good things and think it would be right up my mum’s street. Plus the added benefit that I could borrow it after 🙂

Rough Trade Album of the Month: A must for music lovers. London based Rough Trade choose the best album each month and post it out to you so you get to keep up to speed on what is happening on the music scene. Available for 6 or 12 months as a gift membership.

Kindle: This is controversial as if you read my previous post on books, you will know I am an old fashioned girl who loves the feel of a book in my hand. Still I think my dad would love this so it’s on the list. I remain unconverted.

Diary, planner or calendar: The good thing about this time of the year is that it’s still not too late to give someone a diary ir calendar. I find art galleries the best places for inspiration like The National Gallery of Ireland or if you want something different check out MOMA in NY for calendars below with a difference.

If you’re a dab hand in the kitchen you could make some jam or pickle and wrap it up below for a personalised touch.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous and like the look of the necklace below, you’ll be glad to hear it’s easy to make and the tutorial is here.