Outlander’s Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Cesar Domboy and Lauren Lyle make the most of Cape Town’s sunshine

If you’re an Outlander fan, you’ve probably been following the cast and crew’s Twitter and Instagram updates from South Africa, where some of the episodes for Season 3 are being filmed.

Caitriona Balfe (Claire) and Sam Heughan (Jamie) have posted several pictures of their adventures in and around Cape Town. Newcomers César Domboy (adult Fergus) and Lauren Lyle (Marsali) have explored some of the Mother City’s top tourist attractions. And even Diana Gabaldon, the American author viewers have to thank for creating Outlander’s fascinating characters, had plenty to rave about during her recent visit here. Continue reading

Jane Eyre: Michael Fassbender fills Rochester’s riding boots with ease and Mia Wasikowska is anything but plain as the heroine

Picture of Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in the movie Jane Eyre
Michael Fassbender plays Edward Rochester and Mia Wasikowska stars as Jane Eyre in director Cary Fukunaga’s interpretation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. Picture: Allmoviephoto.com

Oh, Michael Fassbender! Where have you been hiding?! It’s astounding that mainstream Hollywood has taken so long to notice the half-German, half-Irish actor who commands the screen with his magnetic physicality and deeply affecting portrayals of everyone from hunger striker Bobby Sands (Hunger) to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (A Dangerous Method). Continue reading

X-Men: First Class – Michael Fassbender, your magnetism is going to make you a star!

Picture of Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr Magneto in the movie X-Men First Class
Michael Fassbender plays Erik Lehnsherr – the mutant who becomes Magneto – in director Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. Picture: Allmoviephoto.com

German actor Michael Fassbender has been hovering on the fringes of Hollywood for a while, doing really big things in really small roles. He was memorable as Stelios in 300, but all the attention was on Gerard Butler’s abs at the time; he impressed critics as hunger striker Bobby Sands in Hunger, but the film was hardly a commercial success; he put his German to good use in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, but somehow Brad Pitt stole the show. He has completed filming for the upcoming Jane Eyre opposite Mia Wasikowska, and for David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method opposite Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley. I’m sure his interpretations of Rochester and Carl Jung will be superb, but for the moment, it’s X-Men: First Class that has my attention. Continue reading

The Lincoln Lawyer: A redeeming role for Matthew McConaughey and a brainteaser to boot

Picture of Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe in the movie The Lincoln Lawyer
The thrilling performances of Matthew McConaughey (left) and Ryan Phillippe in the courtroom drama The Lincoln Lawyer make for a worthwhile trip to the cinema. Picture: Allmoviephoto.com

It’s been a long time since I watched a Matthew McConaughey movie. He’s a versatile and talented actor, but he’s made some awful career decisions of late… Anybody remember Surfer Dude? I sat through the entire 85 minutes. From the beginning to the end. Halfway through it, I found myself wondering whether the weed they were smoking was real! McConaughey’s latest endeavour, The Lincoln Lawyer, is a great courtroom drama that gives the chiselled Texan a chance to shine again. Continue reading

Black Swan: Ballet shoes, blood and a bold performance from Natalie Portman

Picture of Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel in the movie Black Swan
Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel have great chemistry on screen in Darren Aronofsky’s stunning Black Swan. Picture: Allmoviephoto.com

I’ve admired Natalie Portman’s acting ability since I first saw her in The Professional opposite Jean Reno. I think she was 12 years old at the time. I knew, after seeing her portrayal of Mathilda, that she would go far in Hollywood. Her roles in V For Vendetta and Closer cemented my belief. And now there is Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky’s darkly thrilling examination of a fragile ballet dancer who unravels while preparing for the biggest role of her career. Portman won this year’s Best Actress Oscar for bringing Nina Sayers to haunting life. It was her first Academy Award*, but I doubt it will be her last. Continue reading

Blue Valentine: The light and dark moments of intimacy

Picture of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in the movie Blue Valentine
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) share a tender moment during the early days of their doomed love affair. Picture: Allmoviephoto.com

Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) and multi-talented actor Ryan Gosling (The Notebook) deliver two of the best performances you’ll see on screen this year in Blue Valentine. That’s my opinion – and I can’t understand why so many reviewers have written it off as just another cautionary tale about the perils of love when it’s so much more than that. Continue reading

Love is like a sin, my love

Picture of Jade Tailor and Stephen Moyer in the True Blood episode about vampire Bill Compton and the stripper named Destiny
Anne the stripper, played by Jade Tailor, was on screen for about five minutes in total, but her scenes with Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) were some of the most poignant in the third season of True Blood. Picture: Trueblood-news.com

Have you ever watched a scene on a TV show or in a movie that hits you like a sucker punch and sticks in your brain for days afterwards? Episode 4 of the third season of HBO’s True Blood had a scene like that and I’ve been replaying it in my head for days.

Vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) goes into a strip club to “procure” dinner for his maker, Lorena Krasiki (Mariana Klaveno) and the king of Mississippi, Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare). He surveys the establishment and is unmoved by the expanse of female flesh – until he lays eyes on a young brunette working the pole. Her feather boa and fishnets do little to disguise the sadness in her eyes and as he watches her shimmying on the bar, we know he’s found the one who is going to provide the evening meal.

Cut to Bill getting ready for a lap dance from said stripper (Jade Tailor). She takes a swig of bubbly, removes her shiny bikini top and tweaks her nipples as he watches uncomfortably from his chair. “Shy?” she asks him. “Perhaps,” he replies, but you can see he’s having a bit of a moral crisis on the inside because he’s about to end this girl’s life. “I’ll take good care of you,” she croons as she gets to work. The conversation that follows between them, combined with the darkly sexy notes of Massive Attack’s Paradise Circus* playing in the background, makes the scene one of the most haunting I’ve witnessed on the small screen in a very long time…

Bill: “What’s your name?”
Stripper: “Destiny.”
Bill: “What is your real name?”
Stripper: “Camilla.”
Bill: (Reaches up to turn her face towards him, then holds her gaze and glamours** her)
Bill: “What is your name?”
Stripper: “Anne.”
Bill: “What does your husband think about your profession?”
Stripper: “No husband.”
Bill: “Children?”
Stripper: “Never wanted any, the world’s too fucked up.”
Bill: “And your family?”
Stripper: “Told me I wasn’t worth nothing, I figured they ain’t worth knowing.”
Bill: “Perhaps you’re right about that.”
Stripper: “No point anyway.”
Bill: “What?”
Stripper: “Lovin’ anyone… Anything… Feels good at first, but it always turns to crap. I know the truth about life… It’s a hell I’ll never get out of alive.”
Bill: “No one does.”
Bill: (He looks down, deep in thought, and you see her arms move, as she resumes her dance)

Stephen Moyer is outstanding throughout the episode, but I think he really nailed it in this scene. We see every emotional nuance on Bill’s face as he interacts with the girl… Discomfort, fleeting irritation, disbelief and, finally, sadness. The parallel between him (the undead vampire going through the motions of an immortal existence) and Anne (the lonely mortal who feels dead inside after being disillusioned by life) is a powerful piece of drama – and an equally powerful, if depressing, comment on the human condition. Kudos to series creator Alan Ball for giving viewers a poignant look at an essential truth: life is often painful, whether you have one foot in the grave or not.

* Paradise Circus by Massive Attack features the amazing Hope Sandoval. It’s on their Heligoland album released earlier this year – definitely worth a listen. There’s something edgy about it, despite the bare and breathy vocals by Sandoval. And the sensual melody, contrasted with the lyrics about sin and the perils of love, fit perfectly with the themes explored in the True Blood scene. A truly epic song.

** For those who don’t watch the show… A vampire can influence humans by “glamouring” them. It’s similar to the Jedi mind trick, I guess.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Paradise Circus by Massive Attack. Find the song on amazon.com