TV film highlights
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Based on the first three books in the series by Daniel Handler, this movie is not for the very small or faint-hearted children, though it is a creepy treat. Jim Carrey plays Count Olaf, the sinister cousin given custody of three children (Liam Aiken, Emily Browning and Kara Hoffman) when their parents die. His motive is far from love, however, as he seeks to get his hands on their inheritance.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) comes up against the dastardly Blackbeard (Ian McShane) in this fourth film in the franchise, directed by Rob Marshall in place of Gore Verbinski. Penelope Cruz is Sparrow's new sidekick, Angelica, while Keith Richards returns as his dad.
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
A sequel of sorts to the first Paranormal Activity, unusual in that it runs parallel to the events of that film and concerns the sister of the female protagonist. Here, a couple and their young son experience weird happenings of increasing violence in their home. When they install cameras to log the events, things only get worse. And end badly. The carry-on at the sister's house features on a minor scale.
Mary Poppins (1964)
The classic kids musical movie, starring a dark-haired Julie Andrews as the sharp-tongued, spoonful-of-sugar prescribing nanny who comes to live with the Banks family. Dick Van Dyke plays support as the tuneful chimney sweep, Bert, with one of the dodgiest Cockerney accents in film history.
Gran Torino (2008)
Clint Eastwood plays his age, instead of fighting it, in this quietly powerful film about friendship and loyalty. Walt is an old-school Korean War vet widower who is dismayed by the influx of Korean families into his neighbourhood. His only joy in life is his 1972 Gran Torino and when he catches a local kid trying to steal it, by way of a gang initiation, he is at first furious and then keen to save him from gang life.
The Game (1997)
Nicholas (Michael Douglas) is a work-obsessed and isolated millionaire who dreads turning 48, the age at which his father committed suicide. When his errant brother, Conrad (Sean Penn) returns after years away and gives him the strange gift of a real-life action game, Nicholas is vaguely curious. His curiosity turns to alarm, however, when strange things start happening and then spinning out of control.
NEW YEAR'S EVE
Home Alone 3 (1997)
Rest easy, the McCallisters learned their lessons from the first two films and they had a hold on little Kevin by this stage. Instead, the focus turns to a boy called Alex Pruitt (Alex D Linz) whose toy car has a secret chip in it that a gang of terrorists want returned. Scarlett Johansson has a small role, if that helps.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
Based on the hit musical of the same name, which was based around the popular music of Abba. Meryl Streep stars as Donna, a free spirit who settled on a Greek island years earlier, where she single-handedly raised her daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). We meet them with Sophie about to get married. She wants to know who her dad is first, and so, Sophie invites the three possible papas to the island. With Stellan Skarsgard, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth.
Blades of Glory (2007)
Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star as a pair of former Olympic ice skaters who were stripped of their medals and banned from the sport after they got into a fist fight on the podium. Years later, they are reunited by a loophole in the rules that would allow them to compete as a same-sex couple. They still hate each other, but they want to skate.
NEW YEAR'S DAY
A young boy thinks that life is just not fair -- so what's new? -- and during a visit to a fairground, he wishes that he could be big. And, overnight, he is. In fact, he's Tom Hanks. And life is no joke when you're big, he discovers, as he is forced to make career decisions, find somewhere to live and manage his first romance, with a woman who, obviously, thinks he's rather more experienced than he is.
The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
The modern fascination with Jane Austen and the modern fashion for book clubs are mined for material by this film, based on the novel by Karen Joy Fowler. Six women in contemporary California go through the works of Jane Austen together, and, as they do, each of their lives comes to resemble that of one of her heroines. With Emily Blunt, Maria Bello and Amy Brenneman.
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
It's two years since we last met the fashionable friends and life has become, for most of them, a little humdrum. Carrie is wearying of Big's homebody ways, while Miranda is stifled at work and Charlotte's child is testing her patience. When Samantha invites them on an all-expenses paid trip to Dubai, all three jump at it.
The unlikely duo of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny De Vito make a comedy-gold couple in this caper. Arnie is Julius, a huge but childishly innocent man raised by philosophers in the South Seas, who discovers he has a long-lost twin in the US, and goes looking for him. Vincent (De Vito) is Julius's opposite in every way, and is about to be murdered by loan sharks from whom maybe only his twin can save him.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Garry Marshall directs this classic romantic comedy that is based on what is accepted now as a sort of seedy premise, but is made likeable nonetheless. Julia Roberts gets most credit for its success, as the hooker with a heart hired by a tough businessman as his plus one for a series of business occasions. He falls for her, she falls for him, and, famously, some snooty shop assistants get their comeuppance.
Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley in this sequel that sees her rescued from her frozen sleep 57 years after the climax of the original film. Back on earth, her colleagues aren't sure they believe her account of what happened, but when they send a crew to investigate the colony, things go horribly wrong. Ripley is sent to sort it out, and so, revisit her worst nightmare. With Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton.
The Borrowers (1997)
The little people who live secretly in the homes of big people like us have long been beloved children's books characters. They work well on the big screen, too, in this adaptation of their adventures that sees them trying to save their house from an evil developer (John Goodman). With Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Flora Newbigin and Tom Felton (aka Draco Malfoy) as the Borrowers.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino's now classic crime drama, in which the fallout from a failed jewel heist becomes violent and vicious. The gang, all with colour code names, turn on each other as they try to find a mole in their midst. With the unforgettable scene including Michael Madsen, an ear, and Stuck in the Middle With You. Also stars Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi, among others.
Pineapple Express (2008)
Seth Rogen plays Dale, a slacker court-process clerk who buys his dope from total stoner, Saul (James Franco). Both are bored with their lives, and, boy, do things get lively when they witness a murder and Dale drops some of the very, very rare weed he's bought from Saul at the scene. Fearing it can be traced back to them, they go on the run.
Robin Hood (2010)
Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe as a middle-aged and less than merry incarnation of the 13th-Century English outlaw. On the side of the little man, as ever, Robin and his band of men look for support when they revolt against the Crown and seek a better life for ordinary working folk. With Danny Huston as King John and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marion.
Brian De Palma directs Al Pacino in this classic drama about a 1980s Cuban immigrant to Miami who loses his soul to greed and violence when he is drawn into and then becomes leader of a drugs cartel. Pacino is amazingly plausible as a man corrupted, helped along by Oliver Stone's screenplay. The film won Oscars for Pacino and best supporting actor, Steven Bauer.