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Charlton Heston 1924-2008

There was a time when Charlton Heston, who died yesterday at the age of 83, was a hero of mine. Then I began to appreciate some of the subtleties of screen acting. And well before he became chief evangelist for the Gun Lobby. In the tradition of my Jack Palance obituary, here is my Top Ten List In Chronological Order of my favourite Charlton Heston screen appearances:

A hundred years of Barbara Stanwyck

Monday (July 16) is the centenary of the birth of Ruby Stevens - Barbara Stanwyck to you. This is a list of my top ten Barbara Stanwyck films of all time, in chronological order:

  1. The Miracle Woman (1931): An early Frank Capra film with Stanwyck as a fiery female evangelist.
  2. The Mad Miss Manton (1938): Not a major film, but a favourite screwball comedy co-starring Henry Fonda.

The Why It Looks Like My Uncle Oscar awards

Not much I can say about yesterday's Why It Looks Like My Uncle Oscars as I had only seen one nominated film, which picked up two WILLMUOs.

I was pleased to see "An Inconvenient Truth" win the WILLMUO for best documentary. I saw it at its Australian premiere at the Sydney Film Festival last June and bought the DVD in the week of its release (and have watched it again about three or four times since thus far). There may have been better documentaries over the years, but rarely has one been so relevant to the public conscience.

Jack Palance 1919-2006

With the passing of Jack Palance at the age of 87 on Friday, I thought it might be worthwhile to compile a list of my favourite Jack Palance performances on film (with the help of IMDb to jog my memory):

  • Shane (1953) memorable western villain
  • I Died A Thousand Times (1955) Great villain from that sub-genre of film noir called "Shelley Winters gets murdered again"
  • I Mongoli (1962) Hamming it to the hilt as a warlord of Genghis Khan, dubbed into Italian and subtitled back into English

Sydney Film Festival

It's been about eighteen years of waiting for a decent opportunity, but at long last I have made it this year to the Sydney Film Festival.

So far I have seen nine films, ranging from the earnestly good to the bloody brilliant, and I'm booked in for two more before the Festival closes next Sunday.

Here are some brief reviews of the first three films that I saw, with more to follow in future posts:

A Hero's Welcome - Documentary about, and narrated by, Timor-Leste president Xanana Gusmao, shot before the current problems flared up. The film is something of a hagiography of Xanana, but by all reports he's that kinda guy. Directed by Grace Phan, the former CNBC Asia presenter who answered questions following the screening (which was in fact the world premiere). The aerial photography of the Timorese countryside is quite beautiful.

Lagaan on SBS July 31

"Lagaan", the 2001 Bollywood film that climaxes with a game of cricket, makes its first appearance on Australian free-to-air television tonight. Nominated for the US academy of arts and science's best foreign film award of 2001, "Lagaan" is on SBS tonight (Sunday July 31) from 8.30pm. (It finishes just after midnight, and that's not through being drawn out by copious amounts of ads like the other

The 77th Why it looks like my uncle Awards

Yes it's that time of year again, the Why-it-looks-like-my-uncle-O***r (Not TM) Awards are being handed out in Los Angeles. And, for the first time in four years, not a hobbit in sight.

Having seen barely any 2004 releases yet, here are my predictions for the major WILLMUOs:

Best Film: Million Dollar Baby
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles
Best Actress: Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake)
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby)

Golden Globe Awards

Unlike last year, the Golden Globe Awards are not being televised live in Australia today. Channel 10 is replaying them at 8.30 tonight, while E! (on Foxtel Digital, which I do not have) is doing hours of pre-game and post-game shows. Ugh. The awards show starts at midday Sydney time on NBC in the States.

The official web site of the Globes is, as in Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Scary Movie (2000)

If you've seen one, you've seen them all - at least I laughed at "Scary Movie" a bit.

A spoof on "Scream", "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and other teen horror flicks of the late nineties. It comes across more often like a satirical review of the hit movies of 1998-99, eg "The Sixth Sense", "The Matrix", Shakespeare In Love" (I did like the trailer for "Amistad II" though). What it is really derivative of is, of course, 1980's "Airplane" ("Flying High" to us Australians) and every other film in the genre spoof line since.


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