Lots of the Quicksilver folks came back to visit, too. It was like "old home week. Quicksilver Season Book 1. A Chance of Rainbows Book 2. Body and Soul Book 3. Marry Sunshine Book 4. Gifts of the Spirit Book 5. Late last year Anne got call from Sophie Weston inviting her to join in writing a four-book series about couples whose stories grew out of an English village wedding. To say she was thrilled to work with such stellar writers as Sophie and Jessica Hart and Liz Fielding is an understatement. She could hardly wait. But she had to, because about a week after she signed on, she broke her wrist.
Then Liz, in a fit of entirely unnecessary oneupsmanship, broke her arm! Things got put off. The holidays came and went.
Start by marking “The Return (The Austin Trilogy, #2)” as Want to Read: ~ I really enjoyed the first book in this series as well, The Nothingness of Ben ( stars). Brad Boney man, that man has too many words. The Austin Trilogy: Book Two Music. Topher Manning rarely thinks about anything else, but his day job as a mechanic doesn't exactly mesh with his rock star.
There were weeks when no one thought the books would see the light of day. But in March, with broken bones knitted and casts removed, all four writers got together in Castle Combe, often called the 'prettiest village in England' where they went to work out the final logistics and details, while soaking up the local village atmosphere, sharing an elegant lunch, and, not least, enjoying each other's company. Anne loves research anyway, and this was the best kind of all.
The stories have come together at last, all revolving around the wedding that took Combe St Philip which, let's face it, owes a lot to the beauty of Castle Combe by storm because it wasn't just a wedding, it was a royal wedding -- the royal wedding of Prince Jonas of San Michele and local girl, Hope Kennard, who was not royal at all. Hope did, however, have a backbone, and when she said she wanted to get married in her village church, even though the San Michele royals were not pleased, Jonas, having finally found the love of his life, was determined to make that happen.
Hope's decision had a huge impact on her older brother, Max.
He was not expecting Hope's friend Flora to take over his kitchen -- or his life. It is great fun. The first of the four books to be finished, Jessica's book set the bar very high. Liz Fielding met it. Her story, The Bridesmaid's Royal Bodyguard, is a delight. Her characters, Ally and Fredrik, jumped off the page. They jumped into Anne's story, too. The Best Man's Bride, Anne's story, grew out of conversations she and Sophie had about a book they considered writing together long ago.
In it they had ghosts and parrots and grumpy old earls. They had a young dashing hero and the woman he was going to sweep off her feet, and for once, far too much plot. Trouble was, too, Anne had written a scene with the heroine's ex in it and, frankly, he kept hijacking the story. She and Sophie never wrote the book.
The ghost wouldn't cooperate. Neither would the ex, Jack. He wouldn't go away, either. And he turned up the minute Sophie invited Anne to join the series. She barely got off the phone with Sophie when she looked around and there he was, leaning against the doorjamb, looking supremely satisfied. Anne knows when she's been beaten. She wrote Jack's story. She wrote Celina's story, too. Celina wasn't the heroine from the first story.
She was quite different.
Jack had changed a bit, too. He wasn't giving up, that was for sure. He loved Celina. He needed to make her understand that. Anne thought he needed to shape up a bit, too. They had some discussions over the course of the book. Celina had some input, too. That's what heroines are for, she reminded them: to make heroes realize they can be even better than they already are. The Prince's Bride Book 1. The Baronet's Wedding Engagement Book 2. The Bridesmaid's Royal Bodyguard Book 3.
The Best Man's Bride Book 4. Lightning Storm. The Marriage Trap.
A Cowboy for Christmas. Call Up The Wind. The Eight Second Wedding.
Catch Me If You Can. My Valentine "Simple Charms". Fun fact: Oliver Hirschbiegel was at one point in line to direct Blade: Trinity, but left to make Downfall instead when that came together. YouTube parodies or not, that's what we call a win.
You guys! You were kidding, right? Or maybe it's just the nostalgia of a certain generation kicking in, or the fact that many people brought up on Dawson's Creek will forever love Pacey, or "Charlie Conway" as Joshua Jackson was known here. Let's just take a moment and think about that - or, even better, let's not. And then let's draw a veil over this entire affair. It's hard to say, but D3 is generally regarded as the weakest, what with its been-done snob team vs. I know, right? Wanna book our rooms now? Mike Myers dual performance may have paled from over-familiarity and a million pub mimics, but looked at with fresh eyes they're still genius.
As the series wore on, however, it became crystal clear that it was Dr Evil who was the real star of the show, stealing most of the films along with his inspired pantheon of henchmen and hangers on chief among them Scott Evil and Mini-Me; least among them Fat Bastard, an unfunny one-note effort. Last we heard, Myers was talking about a Dr Evil-focused fourth film; we can only hope. Goldmember, where the smuttiness finally battled the cleverness into submission.
The combination of the admittedly ace and star-studded opening number with Spielberg, Cruise, Paltrow and Spacey and Michael Caine almost saved the day, but couldn't quite make it. That doesn't feel old to you? Born out of the same mix of Aussie can-do attitude, dangerous stunt work and tiny budgets that spawned the likes of Razorback, Roadgames and Long Weekend, Mad Max takes a stripped-down concept and a couple of souped-up motors and makes them into a legend.
The sequel amps up the action and feels a little like a do-over as is practically the law for sequels to mega low-budget originals , while number three goes all large-scale and Hollywood - but also gives us Tina Turner as a sort of super-violent ringmaster and the theme song We Don't Need Another Hero, so what it loses in isolation and nihilism, it gains in glamour. The fact that the trilogy also gave us Mel Gibson may account for its current position outside the top Depends on your tastes, really.
Beyond Thunderdome usually comes in for the most schtick, but that's more because it feels bigger and broader than the other two rather than down to a lack of quality. Fun fact: In the first film, Max himself was the only cast member to wear real leather. The rest had to make do with vinyl. Throw another shrimp on the barbie! The first film has the greatest why-didn't-I-think-of-that plot ever: a police mole among the Triads and a Triad mole in the police force try to smoke one another out.
But what makes it unique is the even-handed way that both characters are portrayed, and the compassion the film shows for the impossible situation in which each finds himself. The follow-ups, one a prequel and one a flashback-filled expansion on the original, expand on that theme but lack the simple elegance of the first film's structure. There's a little back-and-forth between the second and third films, but conventional wisdom has it that the second is just a smidge superior. Perhaps that's because the third film's tricksy time-jumping between past and present makes it overly complicated.
Fun fact: The first film's psychiatrist is called Lee Sum Yee, which sounds very like the Cantonese for "your psychiatrist".
The first Terminator film changed the world far beyond cinema. Without it, we might never have known about the current Governor of California, for it was this film that broke Arnold Schwarzenegger and introduced us all to the Austrian Oak. It also gave us James Cameron, a man who's made by far the highest grossing film in the world - twice. And it was, y'know, actually a good film to boot.
You can get into a lengthy pub debate over the merits of the stripped-down original versus its bombastic successor, with Arnie reprogrammed as a good guy and Robert Patrick the new Most Sinister Thing Ever, but T2 is inarguably one of the slickest, most effective action thrillers the world has ever seen. And the belated threequel, Rise of the Machines, may not quite stand on the same level, but it's a respectable attempt.
That'd be Rise of the Machines, which is OK but further messes with the timeline, and really misses Linda Hamilton's steely presence. I mean, if he's only born because he sends his own father back in time, he can't possibly change that future. The second film, however, delivered both human drama and mutant mayhem in adamantium buckets, showing just what director and cast were capable of, and all looked rosy for the future. But then Singer went AWOL to hang out with Superman, the studio decided to introduce a couple of dozen new characters and it all went a bit wrong in the still OK third film.
But at least we got to see them in one great film and two OK ones, right? That'd be The Last Stand, overloaded with characters and incoherent in its detail.
Fun fact: Hugh Jackman's last big job prior to starting work as Wolverine was as Curly in the National Theatre's production of Oklahoma! Altogether now: oh what a beautiful morning. Police Squad only ran for six episodes, but they were six episodes of fried gold and eventually, with the as-silly but less funny Police Academy series going strong at the box office, Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin got his shot at the big time. And thank goodness for that. The first film is a treasury of silliness, crammed with one-liners, absurd visual gags and defiantly dead-pan performances.
But then, it did still have the full Airplane! The two sequels, while not as packed with goodness, still provide at least 5 of your 5 recommended helpless giggles of the day. And in the words of Frank Drebin, "I like my sex the way I play basketball, one on one with as little dribbling as possible.
The third entry, which still lands some zingers but feels more formulaic and less sharp than the previous two. Returning from a music break, the presenter said, "Nice beaver! Made our day. Now, let's grab a bite to eat. Revenge is a dish best served cold, say the Klingons, but the Koreans might disagree. Park Chan-Wook's first film in this loose trilogy suggests that vengeance is a dish best not served at all, since it can lead to the death of everyone who gets involved in it.
The second sees a rather more elaborate - and much longer-term - plan of revenge similarly backfire, with arguably even ickier consequences than the first. And the third, while boasting a sort-of happy ending, sees an uncomfortable amount of blood spilled along the way and makes it clear that this vengeance lark isn't easy. Any way you look at it, however, these cleverly plotted and twisty-turny thrillers are a worthy addition here, proving that Korean cinema's turning up some of the most interesting films in the world right now - and that it features a lot more octopus eating than the Europeans typically employ.
Probably Lady Vengeance, which lacks the intricate plotting of the other two and spends more time focusing on red eyeshadow. Fun fact: Four octopuses were used to get Oldboy's famous eight-armed scene. Actor Chi Min-Sik is a Buddhist, and said a prayer for each one. The slasher film was pretty much dead and buried in But Wes Craven, who'd spun a post-modern but relatively little-seen twist on it for New Nightmare two years before, managed to single-handedly bring it back to life with this witty deconstruction of the whole genre.
So this time our unstoppable killer who always comes back for one last scare just when you think he - or she - is dead faces victims who know how to survive a horror movie, who don't always run upstairs and who frequently fight back.
The first sequel riffed on the cliches of Part IIs, while the less-successful but still original third instalment got really meta, visiting a sequel movie within the movie. Oooh, our heads are spinning! Scream 3, which isn't as effective as satire and perhaps stretches the willingness to suspend disbelief just a little far. Fun fact: Much more blood was used in Scream 50 gallons than Scream 2 30 gallons or Scream 3 a measly By that measure, the upcoming Scream 4 should be blood-free. Blade and X-Men had hinted that these superhero movies might be going places, but it was Spider-Man that actually went there.
But its huge box-office success was thoroughly earned, director Sam Raimi placing Peter Parker's character front and centre and casting indie star Tobey Maguire rather than some he-man , with Spider-antics taking a secondary - but nonetheless effective place. The sequel, pitting Spidey against Alfred Molina's brilliant Doc Ock, was a further step up, and if the third one tried to cram in too much, at least it gave us Thomas Haden Church's bittersweet take on the Sandman.
Why on Earth anyone thinks this series needs a reboot we'll never know, but these three are first among superheroes for a reason.
Spider-Man 3, where a tussle over bad guys between director and studio led to a film overloaded with evildoers and short on focus. Fun fact: In the first film, Norman Osbourne's presentation to the board opens with the same dialogue as a similar board meeting in The Hudsucker Proxy, which Raimi was a co-writer on. While each of them has come in for schtick from the fans we're looking at you, Spaced , the fact that the Star Wars prequels made this list, and placed this high, suggests that there are those of you out there who love them despite their flaws.
After all, each has at least one stand-out action sequence; each gave us full-on Jedis battling bad guys after twenty years of waiting, and each gave us the chance to revisit the Star Wars universe, which was a treat in itself. So let's ignore Jar-Jar, and focus on the Duel of the Fates, and the sight of Yoda drawing his lightsaber with the power of the Force, and Obi-Wan standing on the higher ground. If you just look at those bits, these are just as good as the originals.
The Phantom Menace has the biggest helping of Jar-Jar, but also has that ace lightsaber fight at the end.
Attack of the Clones is the most often derided, but has a bit where Yoda gets his 'saber out, and that has to get it bonus points. But while Phantom was the biggest disappointment relative to expectations, Clones still probably edges it overall. Fun fact: If you look closely during the opening sequence when the second Separatist ship is destroyed, you might spot the kitchen sink that ILM threw into their digital footage. Moving past the similarities of these two characters, I highly recommend Black Mirror for a binge-watching session.
The concepts are meant to make you think and typically not in a comfortable way. However, this makes for some great episodes which are also relevant to our ever-changing society. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, feel free to subscribe for more blog updates, and click here for free book giveaways, including best-sellers!