10 Best Movies to Watch During Christmas Holidays

llGreat thing about the quality holiday movies is that you never get tired of them! I’ve compiled list of my favourite films for the ‘season of love and understanding’, as the song says. I’m aware all of these movies won’t appeal to everyone, but at least I hope you’ll find some of your favourites included.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
On Christmas Eve, a man down on his luck wishes he was never born and contemplates suicide. He’s rescued by his guardian angel, who shows him what his friends and loved ones would be like without him… This Frank Capra’s (‘Arsenic and Old Lace’) classic is considered one of the most inspirational films of all time and is a traditional Christmas favourite worldwide since the 1970′s. Interestingly, it was a box-office flop at the time of its release! To be honest, I can’t see why – is has touching story, memorable sing-a-long ending and masterful James Stewart (‘Rear Window’) in the leading role.

A Groundhog Day (1993)
Cynical and self-centered TV meteorologist, while covering the story of the weather forecasting groundhog, gets stuck in time. At first he takes advantage of the situation, but soon he decides to make some changes as he starts to fall in love with his co-worker… In my opinion the best romantic comedy for holiday season! Bill Murray (‘Lost in Translation’), who is nothing less than perfect in his role, shares great chemistry with lovely Andie MacDowell (‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’). Even if you watch this movie lying in bed with high fever and cough, like I did last year, you will enjoy it anyway!

A Christmas Carol (1984)
Miserly and sullen old man is taught the true meaning of Christmas by ghosts who visit him on Christmas Eve and show him his own past, present and future. He realizes he has nothing good to expect in the future unless he changes his ways… Made for television drama is in my opinion the best and probably the most faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, which has been adapted numerous times. This classic tale, set in Victorian England, with late George C. Scott (‘Dr. Strangelove’) as Ebeneezer Scrooge, will certainly put you in the Christmas mood, but the powerful message it carries can be applied to all seasons!

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Pumpkin King of Halloweentown is bored of doing the same thing every Halloween. One day as he’s walking into a wood he stumbles onto Christmas Town. Fascinated with the whole idea of this holiday, he decides to kidnap Santa and do Christmas himself… Tim Burton, who became known for his darkish but original fables such as ‘Edward Scissorhands’ or ‘Big Fish’ directed this animated musical fantasy. It was a huge success at the box offices and praised by critics for its stunning originality and visual excellence. In 2006. this film got the whole new dimension when it was re-released into theaters in Digital 3-D.

Die Hard (1988)
Just before Christmas, New York City detective has arrived in L.A. to spend holiday with his wife and children. Unfortunately, a group of terrorists has taken over Nakatomi Corporation building and is holding all employees hostages, including detective’s wife… For those who can’t do without action thrillers during Christmas holidays, this is probably the best choice. John McTiernan’s (‘The Hunt for Red October’) classic features exciting action sequences, memorable one-liners and a break through movie role for Bruce Willis (‘RED’), which sent this actor to the A-list Hollywood stardom.

Bad Santa (2003)
A miserable con-artist and his friend, a midget, are planning to rob department stores on Christmas Eve posing as Santa and his Little Helper. As they proceeding with the plan, ‘Santa’ befriends one of their customers, an overweight and lonesome boy… This Santa is really bad! He chases women, he drinks heavily and swears about every 3 seconds. But we also learn that beneath the surface he hides a heart of gold. Definitely not a movie suitable for kids, but if you’re adult give this quirky comedy a chance for its different approach and great performance by Billy Bob Thornton (‘The Astronaut Farmer’).

A Christmas Story (1983)
America in 1940′s. Long before PlayStation and iPad, 9-year-old boy longs for Red Rider BB gun. He tries to convince his family and Santa the gun would be a perfect Christmas gift, but everyone keeps warning him that he’ll shoot his eye out… This family comedy, based on Jean Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical stories, is worth watching for many hilarious scenes and its reputation as the greatest American holiday movie of all time. Peter Billingsley, who played the little boy, is now successful Hollywood producer, responsible for creating hits like ‘The Break Up’ and ‘Iron Man’.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005)
Four siblings are sent to the country estate during World War II. Playing a game of hide-and-seek, the youngest daughter discovers a wardrobe which transports her to Narnia, the magical land with eternal winter but without Christmas, ruled by the evil White Witch… I’ve been loving this fable since I had watched 80′s tv series version during my winter holidays. The latest adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ book, is aimed mostly at younger audience, but it can be enjoyed by anyone who has some adventurous spirit inside! This film was followed by sequel ‘Prince Caspian’ in 2008.

Elf (2003)
A human orphan is found by Santa Claus and raised by elves on the North Pole. When naive adult ‘elf” finds out he’s actually a human, he decides to go to his place of birth, New York City, in search of his real father, who’s on Santa’s naughty list… The clash od two cultures – human and elfish – produces many laughs in this family oriented comedy. Of course, a great part of the credits for laughter goes to leading actor, famous comedian Will Farrell (‘The Other Guys’) and veteran James Caan (‘The Godfather’), playing main protagonist’s biological father.

Scrooged (1988)
A mean television executive, who will do anything just to increase his network’s ratings, even it means forcing his office staff to work through Christmas Eve, gets visits from three ghosts – The Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future… I couldn’t resist to put another, modernized and humorous version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ on the list, because this is what’s ‘Scrooged’ all about. Once again, Bill Murray is excellent in his role, this time as media world Scrooge in a satire with great special effects, directed by Richard Donner (‘Lethal Weapon’)

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What Hollywood Celebrities Can Teach Us About Stress

Life sucking stress is running rampant worldwide. It is estimated over 40 million adults in the United States alone suffer from stress and anxiety related symptoms.

Considering how wide spread this condition is, it is amazing the high number of common misconceptions there are about treating it.

Many people believe their stress would vanish if one or more of the following would occur:

If they could just make enough money to have a large financial cushion.
When they finally get the promotion they’ve been working so hard for.
If they could find a career in a field they truly enjoy.
As soon as they can afford a good counselor.
When they eventually develop a good circle of friends.
Once they have achieved the lifestyle of their dreams.

So, What Does This Anxiety Article Have to Do With Movie Stars?

In an ever increasing fashion we are seeing in the news how personalities like Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Greg Norman, Steve Sax and countless other movie actors, professional athletes and rock stars suffer from the same anxiety and stress as the rest of us.

Think about the significance of this information.

If you quickly revisit the list above of the most common “perceived” causes of anxiety and panic then you may be starting to see the significance of my point.

These well known celebrities do not need more money or a larger financial cushion.

People of fame are for the most part already in the career of their dreams and would say they thoroughly enjoy what they do for a living.

Since money is typically not an issue they would have access to the “best of the best” in medical, psychological, counseling and mental health care.

As well these people are greatly embraced by the public and having friends would be one of the least of their ongoing challenges.

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The Best Comedy Movies

The globe has been repeatedly hit by disasters; the economies are still recuperating from crises and unemployment. In 2010, there was so much to grieve and worry about. And despite that, Hollywood kept rolling out comedies to ensure the audiences kept chuckling and forgot some of their personal problems and hassles. The comic relief in 2010 was quite a success.

To be honest, I have never found Hollywood comedies anything beyond the regular romp of over the top gags, animal cruelty and big, grumpy adults pretending to be kids. Good comedies are difficult to find; surely, the likes of Coen Bros, Guy Ritchie, Tarantino and Woody Allen are rarely in their form. The smart and witty humor is ever elusive from most Hollywood products. Yet, I settled with the usual form in 2010. Here is a look at my choice of best comedies of 2010. To be honest, the list is not that long. Still, it is worth a glimpse.

The Other Guys- Yet another hilarious, if stereotypical, collaboration between actor Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay, this cop comedy had to be the first choice, naturally. The Other Guys does not have any smart piece of writing. Albeit that, it is memorable for how conventionally funny and good-natured it is.

Two down on their luck cops, Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, have been pulled out of their mundane desk jobs, into the action, as top dogs Samuel Jackson and Dwayne Johnson have been sidelined for some time. Yeah, this is quite like the Lethal Weapon territory, albeit a lot less smart and ingenious. Yet, the buffoonery that unfolds between the two leads is always entertaining and laughable.

Kick-Ass- Matthew Vaughn has been known for a wild and wacky imagination; his earlier outing ‘Stardust’, being one of my favorite comedies in 2007. With Kick-Ass, one would assume he is going into the same volatile and violent style of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. Trust me, this yarn is a whole lot cooler, hilarious and entertaining.

Nicolas Cage is perfectly cast as the Batman-meets-Daredevil spoof, belting out gags of being stuck in his gaudy outfit and clever one-liners as well. This is a whole Action Comics issue, told in an unexpectedly comic format.

Date Night- Mark Wahlberg shines yet again as a stripped to the waist cop, in this somewhat predictable date movie. The leads, Steve Carell and Tina Fey play a dysfunctional couple, who plan the perfect date; only to have it all messed up. Just when they seem tired of gags, Wahlberg jumps into the action. Perfectly.

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Africa – Destination Point For Shooting Notable Hollywood Movies

“Mister Johnson”, a novel by Joyce Cary was converted to a film. The movie was partly shot in Nigeria and was released in 1991. It was directed by Bruce Beresford and starred Mister Johnson (Maynard Eziashi), Harry Rudbeck (Pierce Brosnan of the James Bond 007 fame- Die Another Day (2002 amongst others), Waziri (Femi Fatobi), Brimah (late Chief Hebert Ogunde), Ajali (Sola Adeyemi).

Hollywood movies shot in African countries are carried out to recreate events that occurred at one time or the other (in a country, its people, or life of an individual) or simply because certain Natural sceneries are considered ideal as the setting for original / adapted works.

“The Ghost and the Darkness” (1996), starring Valkimer, Michael Douglas, was based on a true story in1898 with regards to Man eating lions which killed the men laying the Railway tracks. It was shot in South Africa. “King Solomon’s Mines” (1950) starring Deborah Kern and Stewart Granger was shot in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo and the U.S.A. “Congo” (1995) directed by Frank Marshall was shot in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda.

“A Far Off Place” (1993) was shot in Namibia and Zimbabwe, “Sheena” (1984) was filmed in Kenya, “Black Hawk Down” was shot on location in Sidi Moussa, Morocco. “Blood Diamonds” (2006) directed by Edward Zwick, starring Leonardo Di Carprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, was shot in South Africa and Mozambique. “Tomb Raider” was filmed in Kenya, “Out of Africa” starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford was filmed in Kenya and was based on a true story.

“The Last King of Scotland” (2006) directed by Kevin MacDonald, starring Forest Whitaker, was filmed on location in the U.K and Uganda. “Hotel Rwanda”, was a true life story about Paul Rusesabagina, a Hotel Manger who hid Tutsi refugees from the Hutu militia during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It was filmed in Johannesburg, (South Africa), and Kigali (Rwanda).

Unfortunately the movie “Tears of the Sun” (2003), starring Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, was not filmed in Nigeria as most thought since it projected a Nigerian story line. It was shot in Hawaii with Non- Nigerians playing the native roles in the movie.

The Northern African countries have been known to host the shooting of popular movies. Jesus of Nazareth, Lawrence of Arabia, Othello, and The Gladiator were shot in Morocco. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, and The English Patient were shot in Tunisa.

The movie “Phat Girlz” (2006) had a spicy, romantic, Nigerian undertone to it with the presence of Dr Tunde Jonathan from Nigeria, played by Jimmy Jean-Louis. The movie was filmed on location in L.A / California U.S.A and at no time was any scene filmed in Nigeria. The average Nigerian might be puzzled over the consistent preference for a few selected African countries, with Nigeria excluded from the filming location list, despite being endowed with abundant Human and Natural resources.

Good image, International exposure of great Tourism spots, creative stories spun around us, safe and conducive environment to shoot in, willingness to extend hands of fellowship brokering into good partnership deals, support from relevant Government bodies, can stimulate the interest of Hollywood film makers(and those from other movie bodies) to come to Nigeria to shoot movies.

Let’s consider the hit film “Slumdog Millionaire” which was directed by Danny Boyle, produced by Christian Colson, and filmed in India. It portrayed the Indian version of the Game show “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” (Ironically we have the Nigerian version actively sponsored by Telecoms giant MTN). In the movie, the Show plays host to a poor young man from the slums of Mumbai, who relies on his experiences to answer the questions correctly, exceeds people’s expectations, arises the suspicion of the game show host and law enforcement officials in the process based on his outstanding performance, with the juicy package within his reach.

To say the least, the movie was shot in India, woven around an Indian plot and played by Indian thespians. The movie won an enviable number of Oscars, and has opened greater doors for Indian thespians (adults and children alike) with its Industry inclusive. I hope that our local Industry will not fold their arms and adopt a lackadaisical attitude, and watch as other movie bodies harness the products of a symbiotic relationship with the trail blazers of movie productions.

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10 Best Movies to Watch During Christmas Holidays

Great thing about the quality holiday movies is that you never get tired of them! I’ve compiled list of my favourite films for the ‘season of love and understanding’, as the song says. I’m aware all of these movies won’t appeal to everyone, but at least I hope you’ll find some of your favourites included.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
On Christmas Eve, a man down on his luck wishes he was never born and contemplates suicide. He’s rescued by his guardian angel, who shows him what his friends and loved ones would be like without him… This Frank Capra’s (‘Arsenic and Old Lace’) classic is considered one of the most inspirational films of all time and is a traditional Christmas favourite worldwide since the 1970′s. Interestingly, it was a box-office flop at the time of its release! To be honest, I can’t see why – is has touching story, memorable sing-a-long ending and masterful James Stewart (‘Rear Window’) in the leading role.

A Groundhog Day (1993)
Cynical and self-centered TV meteorologist, while covering the story of the weather forecasting groundhog, gets stuck in time. At first he takes advantage of the situation, but soon he decides to make some changes as he starts to fall in love with his co-worker… In my opinion the best romantic comedy for holiday season! Bill Murray (‘Lost in Translation’), who is nothing less than perfect in his role, shares great chemistry with lovely Andie MacDowell (‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’). Even if you watch this movie lying in bed with high fever and cough, like I did last year, you will enjoy it anyway!

A Christmas Carol (1984)
Miserly and sullen old man is taught the true meaning of Christmas by ghosts who visit him on Christmas Eve and show him his own past, present and future. He realizes he has nothing good to expect in the future unless he changes his ways… Made for television drama is in my opinion the best and probably the most faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, which has been adapted numerous times. This classic tale, set in Victorian England, with late George C. Scott (‘Dr. Strangelove’) as Ebeneezer Scrooge, will certainly put you in the Christmas mood, but the powerful message it carries can be applied to all seasons!

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Pumpkin King of Halloweentown is bored of doing the same thing every Halloween. One day as he’s walking into a wood he stumbles onto Christmas Town. Fascinated with the whole idea of this holiday, he decides to kidnap Santa and do Christmas himself… Tim Burton, who became known for his darkish but original fables such as ‘Edward Scissorhands’ or ‘Big Fish’ directed this animated musical fantasy. It was a huge success at the box offices and praised by critics for its stunning originality and visual excellence. In 2006. this film got the whole new dimension when it was re-released into theaters in Digital 3-D.

Die Hard (1988)
Just before Christmas, New York City detective has arrived in L.A. to spend holiday with his wife and children. Unfortunately, a group of terrorists has taken over Nakatomi Corporation building and is holding all employees hostages, including detective’s wife… For those who can’t do without action thrillers during Christmas holidays, this is probably the best choice. John McTiernan’s (‘The Hunt for Red October’) classic features exciting action sequences, memorable one-liners and a break through movie role for Bruce Willis (‘RED’), which sent this actor to the A-list Hollywood stardom.

Bad Santa (2003)
A miserable con-artist and his friend, a midget, are planning to rob department stores on Christmas Eve posing as Santa and his Little Helper. As they proceeding with the plan, ‘Santa’ befriends one of their customers, an overweight and lonesome boy… This Santa is really bad! He chases women, he drinks heavily and swears about every 3 seconds. But we also learn that beneath the surface he hides a heart of gold. Definitely not a movie suitable for kids, but if you’re adult give this quirky comedy a chance for its different approach and great performance by Billy Bob Thornton (‘The Astronaut Farmer’).

A Christmas Story (1983)
America in 1940′s. Long before PlayStation and iPad, 9-year-old boy longs for Red Rider BB gun. He tries to convince his family and Santa the gun would be a perfect Christmas gift, but everyone keeps warning him that he’ll shoot his eye out… This family comedy, based on Jean Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical stories, is worth watching for many hilarious scenes and its reputation as the greatest American holiday movie of all time. Peter Billingsley, who played the little boy, is now successful Hollywood producer, responsible for creating hits like ‘The Break Up’ and ‘Iron Man’.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005)
Four siblings are sent to the country estate during World War II. Playing a game of hide-and-seek, the youngest daughter discovers a wardrobe which transports her to Narnia, the magical land with eternal winter but without Christmas, ruled by the evil White Witch… I’ve been loving this fable since I had watched 80′s tv series version during my winter holidays. The latest adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ book, is aimed mostly at younger audience, but it can be enjoyed by anyone who has some adventurous spirit inside! This film was followed by sequel ‘Prince Caspian’ in 2008.

Elf (2003)
A human orphan is found by Santa Claus and raised by elves on the North Pole. When naive adult ‘elf” finds out he’s actually a human, he decides to go to his place of birth, New York City, in search of his real father, who’s on Santa’s naughty list… The clash od two cultures – human and elfish – produces many laughs in this family oriented comedy. Of course, a great part of the credits for laughter goes to leading actor, famous comedian Will Farrell (‘The Other Guys’) and veteran James Caan (‘The Godfather’), playing main protagonist’s biological father.

Scrooged (1988)
A mean television executive, who will do anything just to increase his network’s ratings, even it means forcing his office staff to work through Christmas Eve, gets visits from three ghosts – The Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future… I couldn’t resist to put another, modernized and humorous version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ on the list, because this is what’s ‘Scrooged’ all about. Once again, Bill Murray is excellent in his role, this time as media world Scrooge in a satire with great special effects, directed by Richard Donner (‘Lethal Weapon’).

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