The best of 2020: Our films of the year

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In last year’s top ten list, we remarked on how streaming had “truly arrived” as a contender to traditional cinema exhibition. We had known for some time that cinema was experiencing a paradigm shift, but we couldn’t possibly have known just how profoundly and rapidly it would change in the following twelve months.

And what a long twelves months it has been. As low-paid, precariously-employed cinema workers have faced even greater hardship on furlough or redundancy, cinephiles lament the end of the theatrical experience, and the rest are caught between supporting struggling cinemas and acting responsibly in the midst of a health crisis.

If there is a silver lining to be had among these dreary clouds, it’s that for once we have had a year in cinema not dominated by studio tentpoles. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was the notable exception to a slate of blockbusters that found themselves postponed to 2021 or shifted to streaming services.

The space they have left has given distributors, filmmakers and audiences room to explore more than the annual round of sequels and reboots, even if that space has been our living rooms. In what other year would we have been treated to five (five!) Steve McQueen films – three of which made our top twenty – or a straight-to-streaming genre film that catches the zeitgeist as precisely as Rob Savage’s Host?

These examples, and the list below, are reasons to hope: filmmakers will continue to find innovative ways to make films; film-lovers will continue to find them. Perhaps this reboot of the way we engage with cinema will even herald a greater diversity of film and filmmaker in both the arthouse and the mainstream. As lovers of cinema, let’s make sure that we continue to support it.

N.B. As ever, only entries that had their world premiere this year were eligible for our FOTY list.

10. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (dir. Charlie Kaufman)

The film’s title is a pondering refrain, repeated throughout whilst she ruminates on the pros and cons, but could the ‘ending’ of which Jessie Buckley’s character speaks be something altogether more serious, and final? I’m Thinking of Ending Things is far more than a will-they, won’t-they, let’s-embarrass-the-son-in-front-of-his-parents couples dramedy, and the quirky comedic elements which litter most of Kaufman’s writings are almost entirely absent here. It is a considerably more sinister, cynical work which becomes increasingly claustrophobic as the metaphysical walls close in. Read the full review. Matthew Anderson

9. Host (dir. Rob Savage)

Online horror platform Shudder has proven something of a hit in 2020. As well as making loads of classic movies available to stream, they’ve produced one of the year’s most inventive and ultra-timely features, Host, a lockdown séance film shot almost entirely over Zoom. Taut and imaginative, this widely and justly celebrated found-footage ghost story is just under an hour of smart characterisation, formal ingenuity, and surprisingly effective scares. Perhaps its greatest asset, however, is the clever use of technology – laptop cameras, smartphone filters, background loops – which transcends gimmickry to provide several of this year’s most creepily original moments. Read the full review. Thomas Alexander

8. The Forty-Year-Old Version (dir. Radha Blank)

Who said modern comedies look boring? Radha Blank’s black and white, semi-autobiographical Forty-Year-Old Version is as luminous and vital as they come. Channelling Woody Allen’s 1970s oeuvre as well as Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, Blank’s study of the contemporary New York theatre scene is as moving as it is brilliantly witty and self-effacing. On race and the politics of selling out, Blank is as scathing as she is pragmatic; her moral and artistic victories are triumphant. Christopher Machell

=6. Nomadland (dir. Chloé Zhao)

Nomadland’s poetic realism is heightened by Joshua James Richards’ stunning cinematography and production design providing a vitality in the desert with its temporary inhabitants: searing scenes of natural beauty contrasting with the mundanity of factory work. Never patronising and avoiding polemic, Zhao tactfully manages to explore the world of the low paid and homeless, whilst offering compassionate insight into the lives of the people who make up our service economy. Nomadland, with its beautiful simplicity and wonderful performances, manages to be an elegant, profoundly moving film which shows the real value of living, rather than just surviving. Read the full review. Zoe Margolis

=6. Shirley (dir. Josephine Decker)

Not one to play to type or genre, Decker has crafted a delirious, off-kilter, wickedly dark biopic where, perhaps, lifting the lid, or rather peering tentatively into the mind, of the subject is not the principal objective. But rather this is a much broader examination of the creative process, of obsession, jealousy, paranoia – and the toll these all take on a high-functioning, but troubled psyche. Though the slow, blurry-edged stupor of Shirley will not be to everyone’s tastes, it cannot be denied that it examines its subject with feverish, dreamlike fluidity rather than rigid biography. That, and Moss’ enthralling lead performance, are Shirley’s chief accomplishments. Read the full review. MA

5. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (dir. Eliza Hittman)

To call the film understated is itself almost an understatement. Never Rarely Sometimes Always wears its lo-fi indie credentials front and centre, finding a realism in the two taciturn teenagers that feels largely authentic. At times, it’s hard not to wonder if a little more dialogue, a little more development of Autumn’s character or her relationships wouldn’t have provided some needed depth to the overall story. Yet, since this is a film determined not to sensationalise, desperate to show the everyday quality of what its two girls have to go through, it’s also an editorial decision that gives back what it takes away. Tom Duggins

4. Da 5 Bloods (dir. Spike Lee)

In the context of the #BlackLivesMatter protests, Da 5 Bloods feels at once astonishingly prescient and nuanced, weaving together the national trauma of the war that America never got over with the contemporary rot of modern US society. The film’s broad strokes of comedy – in the first act at least – play like a dad-bod rendition of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Yet beneath the quartet’s half-cut reminiscing lies a tremendous, dormant pain – no more so realised than in Delroy Lindo’s feverish performance as the MAGA hat-wearing Paul.

As Paul’s PTSD-induced psychosis grips him in the third act, the expansion of the frame up and out is as if the past and the present have been fused together; the apparent psychological contradiction of his support for Trump as a black veteran is at last resolved through the exhumation of long-denied trauma. Read the full review. CM

3. Mangrove (dir. Steve McQueen)

Taking a sledgehammer to institutionalised racism with the clarity of purpose and skill of a master craftsman, Steve McQueen is once again at the very top of his game, and indeed his profession, with Mangrove. Constituting just one instalment of the five-part Small Axe series, this film is a towering achievement.

From its opening frames, the film’s rich, tangible aesthetic is one that we want to reach out and touch, to immerse ourselves in. Shot on 35mm film by Shabier Kirchner – who worked on each of the Small Axe projects in various mediums – Mangrove’s granular visual texture is reinforced by Lisa Duncan’s excellent period costumes (turtlenecks and leather jackets-a-plenty) and Helen Scott’s stellar work on the production design. Read the full review. MA

2. Possessor (dir. Brandon Cronenberg)

Possessor’s premise will be familiar both to genre fans and mainstream audiences. The MatrixInception and to a lesser extent, the Blade Runner films have obvious narrative similarities, but the legendary R.W. Fassbinder’s brief dalliance with sci fi – World on a Wire – is a far closer approximation of the aesthetic and overall tone of Possessor. But it’s Brandon’s dad’s eXistenZ that is surely the most important – and potent – ingredient in Cronenberg Jr.’s cinematic broth.

It’s a heady mixture of genre and arthouse, and pays dividends. The cold-war greys and brutalist surfaces of the interior locations are at constant odds with their fleshy occupants, while Cronenberg’s near-ubiquitous use of shots in close up with long lenses flatten out cavernous space and elicit a subcutaneous sense of paranoia and surveillance. Read the full review. CM

1. Lovers Rock (dir. Steve McQueen)

Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology has been the most exciting and politically engaged piece of television since Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff. Lovers Rock is the beating heart of the piece. An immersive and sexy recreation of a West London house party in the eighties, where the music genre that gives the film its title – a romantic sex-driven form of reggae – soaks through the walls and intoxicates the dancers and the night. There are shadows lurking – sexual predation, racism, disapproving parents – but when the music just takes you, don’t play silly games. Just go with it. Read the full review. John Bleasdale

Honourable mentions

11. Wolfwalkers (dir. Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart)

12. Red, White and Blue (dir. Steve McQueen)

=13. After Love (dir. Aleem Khan)

=13. Boys State (dir. Amanda McBain, Jesse Moss)

=13. Collective (dir. Alexander Nanau)

=13. His House (dir. Remi Weekes)

=13. The Invisible Man (dir. Leigh Whannell)

=18. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (dirs. Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross)

=18. Disclosure (dir. Sam Feder)

=18. The Fight (dir. Eli B. Depres, Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)

=18. Mank (dir. David Fincher)

=18. The Painter and the Thief (dir. Benjamin Ree)

=18. Tenet (dir. Christopher Nolan)

24. Time (dir. Garrett Bradley)

25. Dick Johnson Is Dead (dir. Kirsten Johnson)

Home Alone’s five best booby traps

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Home Alone is nothing if not one of the most classic Christmas movies out there. With the movie celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, chances are that you’re going to take some time out of your Christmas celebrations to sit down and watch it with your family.

Whether this is a yearly tradition or you just want to see how the movie holds up, it’s a great choice. The booby traps are one of the most enduring elements of this movie; here are the five craziest booby traps scattered around the McCallister household.

5. Tarantula
This might not technically be a booby trap that Kevin sets up in advance, but it’s still something that he uses to thwart the so-called “wet bandits.” The tarantula is actually a pet that his brother has in the home. When Marv, one of the bandits, believes that he’s cornered Kevin and is getting ready to attack him, Kevin pulls out his secret weapon: this pet tarantula, which he drops onto Marv’s face. It gives him just enough of an advantage to get away from Marv, as Marv freaks out over the tarantula.

4. Icy Steps
Near the beginning of the burglars’ attempts to enter the home, Kevin takes advantage of the cold Chicago winters to help him try to keep the burglars out. He spreads water over the front steps and the basement steps of the home. Due to the cold temperatures outside, the concrete freezes over very quickly, causing the burglars to slip and fall as they attempt to get to the home.

3. Red-Hot Doorknob
Even with the generalised protection of the icy steps, the burglars still manage to make their way toward the home. Harry, one of the burglars, decides to make the bold choice of attempting to enter the home through the front door. However, Kevin knew that it was likely that Harry would be doing this. To try and remove his ability to enter through the front door, Kevin takes an electric barbecue lighter to the doorknob, causing it to glow red-hot. When Harry tries to open the door, it just burns his skin.

2. Paint Cans
As Marv and Harry try to go up the stairs to continue to pursue Kevin, he’s able to knock them back at least a little bit. He pushes paint cans off the top railing of the home, causing these cans to knock into the men’s faces. One of the reasons this is such a crazy booby trap is because in real life, it would probably be so dangerous that it would even have the possibility to kill the burglars. The weight of the cans combined with their significant pendulum movement means that the impact would be extremely significant and potentially even deadly.

1. Chicken Suit
At one point, Harry tries to enter the home through the back door rather than the front door. However, he runs into a Rube Goldberg-style trap that causes him to look like a giant chicken. He walks into plastic wrap that Kevin has covered in strong caulking glue, then triggers a fan to blow feathers all over him. This take on the classic tarred-and-feathered idea is something that isn’t as dangerous as the original, but still results in an equally ridiculous end vision.

As you can see, Home Alone has a variety of crazy booby traps that hold up even today. People love watching Home Alone every year, whether due to a longstanding tradition or just because it’s a fun movie to watch. Next time you and your family watch Home Alone, try to decide which of the booby traps is your favourite.

Martin Scorsese’s top five films

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Martin Scorsese is one of the biggest names in Hollywood. The American film director has been working in the industry since he turned 20 in 1962. In that time, he’s married five wives (and divorced four), received 17 major awards after being nominated for 76, and worked both in front of and behind the camera.

At 78 years old, Scorsese is the most-nominated living person for the Academy Award for Best Director. Having been put forward for the award nine times, he’s second in the all-time list, behind only William Wyler who received an astonishing 12 nominations.

He’s also one of just a few people who have received top categories awards for film, music, and television, thanks to his Academy Award, Grammy Award, and three Primetime Emmy Awards. It’s no surprise then, these have been picked up from many of his best pieces of work, including these five.

Casino (1995)

Casino hit movie theatres in 1995, telling a story of greed, power, and money. It follows Sam Rothstein, or as he’s more commonly known, Sam the Ace. Sam is a Jewish American from Chicago who gets asked to move to Las Vegas by a Mafia syndicate to run one of their casinos.

Casino is based on the true story depicted in the Nicholas Pileggi book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. Its cast includes several big names like Robert De Niro, James Woods, Sharon Stone, and Kevin Pollak. They helped to make the film a commercial success, grossing $116.1 million at the box office from an initial budget of around $40 million.

Casino is available on a number of streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video and can be bought from iTunes and the Google Play Store. If you’d like to learn more to decide if you’ll like it, you can find a more in-depth Casino movie review here.

Goodfellas (1990)

Perhaps one of Scorsese’s most famous movies, Goodfellas is another gritty crime film that follows the mob. Working alongside Nicholas Pileggi and Robert De Niro again, as well as Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, Scorsese adapted the script during rehearsals. He found that the actors could make the lines more gripping by allowing them to ad-lib and would write down the lines he liked, adapting the script accordingly.

Like Casino, the book is based on a Pileggi book, this time titled Wiseguy. Originally, Goodfellas was intended to share the same name, but it was later changed by Scorsese. Goodfellas follows the story of Henry Hill, a member of the mob, as he rises through the ranks of the Mafia and eventually falls from grace.

From a budget of $25 million, Goodfellas was a commercial success, generating more than $46 million at the box office. It also won Best Film at the British Academy Film Awards, as well as Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director. In addition to these, Goodfellas received 25 other awards, and has been included in the United States Library of Congress due to it being considered “culturally significant”.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street is another gritty movie taken from a book that’s based on real-world events. Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead, the film shows the rise and fall of a stockbroker named Jordan Belfort.

DiCaprio stars alongside Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie, depicting the deception and shady tactics used by Stratton Oakmont, the investment brokerage run by Belfort.

As well as being a huge commercial success, making $392 million from a $100 million budget, The Wolf of Wall Street set a Guinness World Record for the most swearing in a movie, using one particular profanity 569 times throughout, equating to an average of 2.81 times per minute.

Gangs of New York (2002)

Gangs of New York was the first time Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese worked together, forming a relationship that remains today.

The film is another crime film based on true events, using Herbert Asbury’s 1927 book that shares the same name as its foundation. It depicts the battle between two rival gangs of mid 19th century New York. The film was praised for the “electrifying” performance of Daniel Day-Lewis and the great production design.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Scorsese’s success isn’t limited to the 1990s and 21st century, the 1976 psychological thriller Taxi Driver is one of his best pieces of work.

Starring Robert De Niro, Albert Brooks, Jodie Foster, Cybil Shepherd, and several other big names, they tell the story of a New York cab driver called Travis Bickle. This loner plots to kill a presidential candidate and a pimp while he struggles to find a purpose in life.

While one of his plots fails, the other turns out to be an accidental success, winning him the praise of the public.

Click here to read more about Taxi Driver.

The true cost of movie-making

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Among many frequent questions, most film-related FAQs revolve around “how to make a movie” and “how expensive is it to make one?”. And yet, there’s no definite answer to either conundrum.

It’s like asking the average cost for making a meal, which depends on many factors, like who’s making the meal, where the meal is being made, what type of meal you’re making, etc. And so is the case with a movie.

The movie industry is a huge machine and its box office has made a revenue record of $42.5 billion last year. However, this huge amount doesn’t apply to every movie; neither do they all are money makers. To tell the truth, many movies often end up being a flop. Thousands of movies are made each year, but only a few expensive ones become feature films.

On the other hand, if you’re curiously searching to know how to make a movie, you can start with a low budget too. Though, the average expense to produce a good movie is around $100 million ($65million for production and $35 million often requires for marketing and distribution). Still, there are some blockbuster movies, like Napoleon Dynamite, Paranormal Activity, and Super-Size Me, that cost below half a million.

 Big Movie Budgets

The mega movies you see now often have a mega-budget. James Cameron’s Avatar is a prime example of a mega movie with a massive budget of over $236 million. And so, this high cost paid off quite well for them as the movie grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. But there are many other movies too that were not really mega-budget. In fact, they were well below the average movie budget. For instance, The Return of the King made around a billion-dollar globally, while it cost just above $100 million. The same is the case for Shrek 2, which costs even less ($70 million) but made nearly $900 million globally.

Another example of a high-budget movie is the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The feature film holds the record of being the most expensive film with a massive budget of $378.5 million while grossing over a billion-dollar worldwide.

But not every high budget movie is a hit movie. There are tons of examples of expensive movies that couldn’t justify their expense. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is one of them. This film had a budget of nearly $100 million, but could only manage to generate $7 million in return. Another example of such a movie is How Do You Know. This film cost over $120 million, while its return was just over $50 million.

So, whether a movie is a hit or flop, it all comes to the question: “How to make a movie and why does it cost so much?”

Expensive magic potions in making a movie

While making a movie, you must break down the cost into the following categories:

  • Script: The script is a blueprint of the movie. Like any physical construction, if the template fails, the building will collapse sooner or later. The script is highly important in making a movie hit or flop. And so, it eats up around 5% of the budget.
  • Licensing and salaries: This includes the salaries of the director, the producer, the famous stars, and the whole crew.
  • Production costs: The production costs can take 25% of your total budget easily. This major chunk is behind the whole production and ongoing salaries of the team needed to produce the movie.
  • Special effects and music composing: Depending on the movie genre, special effects can take a huge chunk of the budget. Plus, music must be composed according to the scene and should be performed well.
  • Marketing: The most important part of how to make a movie as well as an expensive magic potion that it requires is its marketing. With all the huge investments of more than a hundred million dollars, you don’t want it to go unheard. Thus, either almost 35% of the budget goes to marketing, or an additional budget is assigned to market your new movie.

Expense relation with movie genre

By analyzing the data provided by IMDb and Statista, some genres cost more on average while others cost less. On average, the most expensive genre of movies is adventure films having a budget of around $76 million. Other costly genres consist of sci-fi, animation and fantasy movies, having an average budget of around $60 million. On the other hand, genres such as music-based, horror, and romantic have a very median budget of less than $10 million.

Wrapping up

Despite such a huge amount of investments and greater risk for losses, the movies are coming. There’s a reason though. One hit can make fortunes while a loss can be depressing too. Plus, the average price for buying a movie ticket in the US is shooting up to around $9.11. Still, we all line-up for it, enjoying the movie with popcorn and drinks. So if you know how to make a movie and know how to add all these expensive magic potions (probably by winning a multi-million lottery), you can make a good career too.

The worst film characters to meet in a casino

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Casinos are great settings for movies. They hold the promise of high-stakes action, life-changing decisions, moral dilemmas, and an ever-present element of risk and danger, all in a glamorous setting with plenty of complex, flawed, and fascinating characters. It’s no wonder that Hollywood has loved to portray gamblers, cardsharps, and hustlers over the years, and some of the characters have become iconic.

In many films, it’s the losers who intrigue us most, but there are also plenty of movie characters who seem to have an unbeatable winning streak at the casino. There are also others who we may never see in a casino setting but who would undoubtedly do very well if they were to sit down at almost any table. With this in mind, here are some of the worst film characters to find yourself up against in a casino game. The ones who will either take you to the cleaners or who might turn out to be very sore losers indeed.

James Bond

He might have a different face, depending on which actor is playing him, but there’s no mistaking special agent 007. After all, he likes to introduce himself, taking special care that you get his name right. Bond loves high-stakes gambling and is bankrolled by Her Majesty’s Secret Service, so he’ll never be out of pocket.

In all his appearances, Bond is shown to be both highly skilled and extremely lucky. Whether the game is baccarat or poker, and no matter how much the odds are against him, Bond always comes out on top. Another reason you don’t want to see him at your table is that the chances of someone being shot, stabbed, or poisoned during the game seem to increase dramatically. Are you sure your partner isn’t working for SPECTRE?

Raymond Babbit

This autistic savant, played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 movie Rain Man, can memorize every card in a six-deck shoe in order, thanks to his mental calculator that adds up hundreds of objects in an instant. Babbit isn’t a player himself and isn’t really cheating; it’s just something he does. However, if Raymond is accompanied by his brother Charlie (Tom Cruise), you should watch out, as the younger Babbit isn’t averse to letting his big bro inadvertently help him to win big at your expense.

Jean Grey

This character from the X-Men movie franchise is probably the world’s most powerful psychic. Her telepathic ability would let her read your mind, so she could instantly tell what poker hand you were holding, while her telekinesis would let her stop the ball on her chosen number at roulette or even manipulate slot machines to hit the jackpot every time.

Grey’s powers are so great she could probably even manipulate the internet while you were using NJ online casino bonus codes to get free spins, no-deposit welcome bonuses, and other great offers on New Jersey’s top casino websites. But the worst that could happen would be for Grey to lose. You don’t want to be around when she gets angry and unleashes the Phoenix Force within her.

Lancey (The Man) Howard

Steve McQueen plays archetypal poker hustler Eric ‘The Kid’ Stoner in 1965’s The Cincinnati Kid. Ultimately even he’s no match for Lancey ‘The Man’ Howard, who remains the master of the game. Known for gutting cocky young challengers, Edward G Robinson’s character is both unlikable and unstoppable, even when The Kid has the dealer on his side. Famously, Howard beats Stoner’s full house with a queen-high straight flush: according to experts, the odds against those two hands occurring together are over 332 billion to one.

Darth Vader

Does the Dark Lord of the Star Wars series enjoy a game of cards in the evening? Who knows? However, we can be pretty confident he doesn’t like to lose and wouldn’t be above using a few Jedi mind tricks or worse to stay ahead in the game. If Lord Vader asks you for a game, you probably have no choice but to accept and lose as gracefully as possible, surrendering your bankroll for the good of the imperial coffers.

Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein

Robert De Niro’s character from the film Casino is the boss, and if he catches you cheating, you’ll be lucky to escape with just a couple of broken fingers. Admittedly we don’t see Ace playing too much in the movie, but if he sits down at your table, you know the stakes are high, and the company is dangerous. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll fold early and go home very carefully.

The five best casinos of the James Bond franchise

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When we think of James Bond, our minds begin to fill with images of fast cars, beautiful women, glamourous locations, and danger. But this isn’t all the legendary spy is famous for and many of us will think ‘casino’ when we hear the name James Bond.

It’s possible that Bond learned his card playing skills during his time as a Commander in the Royal Navy, and he sure puts these to good use. Giving him the chance to win money, power and ultimately save the world without having to throw a single punch.

Many battles have been won over a card game by the super sleuth. And in this article we will be looking at the five best casinos that were used during the films, and the games which Bond played in them. Hopefully, he got to enjoy a vodka Martini along the way. Shaken, of course, but never stirred.

Dr. No

The very first Bond film ever, which saw Sean Connery playing Chemin de Fer in the fictional Le Circle Casino in London. Released in 1962, the film featured the original defining casino scene, with the elite spy enjoying a game of one of the first versions of Baccarat.

It’s in this take where we get to hear the legendary assassin first utter the words “Bond. James Bond”. Setting the casino scene for other films in the franchise, and launching Connery’s career as possibly the best Bond to ever grace the silver screen?

Thunderball

The super sleuth heads off to a local casino with Bond girl Domino in the fourth film instalment. The casino in question was fictional, the Nassau Casino may have been based in the Bahamas, but the scenes were in fact filmed at Pinewood Studios in England.

Thunderball hit the cinemas in 1965 and we got to see Bond playing a high-stakes Chemin de Fer game once again. But this time against the eye-patch wearing Largo, where the duo pretend not to know each other. Bond of course wins the game against the SPECTRE number two and goes on to save the world from a nuclear disaster.

Diamonds Are Forever

Connery makes his final appearance as James Bond in this 1971 epic. We see our hero heading into the worlds gambling capital, Las Vegas, and the fictional Whyte House casino. It’s the only film in the franchise so far, where we see the spy playing the card game of Craps. He not only wins $65K but gets to seduce the glamourous Bond girl Plenty O’Toole, who he shares $5,000 of his winnings with.

GoldenEye

Pierce Brosnan slipped into the famous tuxedo and took hold of the Walther PPK in this instalment. Released in 1995, it was the first Bond film since License to Kill hit our screens. It doesn’t take Bond long to hit the Casino de Monte Carlo in the glamourous location of Monaco. This casino is actually a real-life establishment, opened in 1863 and hosts the Opéra and Ballets de Monaco to this very day.

We see Bond go head to head in a game of Baccarat against the beautiful but dangerous Russian agent Xenia Onatopp. He of course beats her, whilst later in the film he also escapes her attempt to assassinate him.

Casino Royale

This 2006 box office smash revived the Bond franchise and saw Daniel Craig take the hot seat. Playing Bond in a grittier and tougher way then we had ever seen before. And exactly as Fleming had described him in his books. Though film producers made the decision to have Bond play Texas Hold’em rather than Baccarat, as the book originally portrayed.

The Casino Royale is of course a fictional casino based in the French coastal resort of Royale-les-Eaux. And the scene in which Bond plays against the villainous Le Chiffre is the longest casino scene from the entire 25-film franchise. It takes all of Bonds skills as a card playing pro, to win and he almost dies during the game. But thanks to Vesper Lynd’s quick prowess we see our hero revived in time to tip the dealer $1 million.

Of course, this is just our selection of the Bond films that we feel had the best casino scenes in them. And what a ride it’s been, with the advances in technology Bonds list of gadgets has also increased. He now relies on mobile technology and a whole host of weapons designed to outwit modern day cyber villains. We can even imagine that one day he might play at a mobile casino using a mobile phone.

The Bond franchise is currently enjoying great successes, with fans all over the world eagerly awaiting the release of the 25th film: No Time to Die. Will Bond get to visit a casino, and will he get to play his favourite card game of all time, Baccarat? We will have to wait and see.

How cinema speaks to the other arts

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It’s often been said that birds of a feather, flock together. That might not always be true when it comes to business but the entertainment industry worldwide is an exception to the status quo. Cinema, mostly made in Hollywood with amazing exotic settings, is the one special art form that has the ability to reach millions of viewers across the globe.

With the increased number of foreign films making its way to mainstream mediums, movie masterpieces are viewed by a range of audiences. The expanding industry has led to film becoming an unexpected, and sometimes unintended, promotional means for other popular forms of entertainment that become their version of human expression that appeal to the human mind.

Music

Music and film have always gone hand in hand since the introduction of sound-enabled productions. Regardless of the film genre, music has become one of the key elements used to set the tone, enhance moments, and highlight the depicted human emotion. The film industry has taken it a step further by producing films that depict the life stories of many popular artists, their journeys to fame, and the trials they endured.

Viewers might not realise but the music that accompanies a scene or movie is often subconsciously appreciated and enjoyed, which further hones our preferences. The Twilight Saga was, admittedly, not for everyone but even those who were not fond of the movie itself had to admit that the soundtrack for the movie was chilling and beautiful. Musicians and bands are constantly vying to have their music played in movies in hopes that their content will reach a wider audience which in turn promotes the music industry as well as the artist.

Gaming

Another interesting, and often overlooked, entertainment form that is promoted in films is gaming. Certain gaming genres have become synonymous with a specific character type or the setting of a scene. The things that we see in films then create curiosity which, in turn, leads to more people signing up to enjoy the popular pass-times. If we look closely at the games that our favorite characters’ play, it becomes apparent that the game of choice is usually indicative of key elements of a character’s makeup.

Computer games were once synonymous with nerdy-type characters. James Bond was always winning at Roulette on an undercover mission, the dark, mysterious and dangerous love interest is sometimes really good at playing poker and the list goes on and on. In fact, many people who aspire to be like characters they love or would like to embody certain traits have taken to trying online versions of these depicted real money casino games due to the convenience and ease of virtual offerings that can be played while watching your favorite movie marathon.

Dance

Dance, in all its forms, is yet another beautiful art form that has been featured in films time and time again. The importance of this underrated element is quite similar to that of music and gaming in that dance usually sets a scene or, in some cases, forms an integral part of a character’s traits. The visual appeal of dancing has created a kind of curiosity in people, especially the younger generations, that has led to attending dance lessons and events becoming a popular pastime.

The number of movies made on the topic of dance are too various to name but can range from “feel good” titles like the popular dance-themed franchise, Step Up, to moving dramatic film pieces that depict loss, struggle, and complexity like Black Swan. Dance has rolled on into another popular film genre, that has been enjoyed for over 50 years, of musicals. This genre has yielded some of the most well-known pop-culture references with movies such as Grease, Footloose, and Dirty Dancing.

What makes a great sports movie?

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From Rocky to Moneyball, sports movies are one of Hollywood’s most cherished genres and can often be a hit with both awards bodies and mass audiences alike. By its very nature, sport is often dramatic and unpredictable, populated by charismatic characters and fantastic arcs.

The enduring popularity of the sports movie genre is perhaps best illustrated by the online film bible, the IMDb, which currently lists a total of 4,385 titles under the sports banner – with the top 10 box-offices hits under that genre on IMDb making $1.9 billion collectively.

With so many sports movies out there, what ingredients are needed to separate out true box office titans from also-ran pretenders? Our friends at Betway have put together this fantastic infographic to help illustrate the attributes needed to rise to the top of the sports movie ladder.

The above was taken from Betway.

Boxing beats the competition

Boxing is the undefeated champ when it comes to sports movie goldust. Boxing films account for 20 per cent of the list, while movies about all combat sports – boxing, MMA, wrestling and karate – make up 14 of the 50. What’s more, of the three movies in the top 50 to have won Best Picture at the Oscars, meanwhile, two are about boxing – Rocky and Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby.

You only have to think of the other boxing films that could have had a shot at Best Picture – Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, The Fighter and Creed spring instantly to mind – and this quickly reveals itself as a strong, populist field.

If you build it, they will come

Hollywood loves a happy ending and this couldn’t be truer that in sports movies. Very few people care about the football team that lost in the first round of the cup. But underdogs that won it? There’s the secret formula. Of the 31 sports movies in the list that are based on real-life events, 24 have a happy ending.

Will we see another boxing film (happy ending preferred) win the coveted Best Picture Oscar in the next decade? As far as sports movies are concerned, it has a better chance than many.

Remembering Ghostbusters – a franchise no one could forget

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Whether you grew up in the ’80s, the noughties, or anywhere in between; you’ll have heard of Ghostbusters. The original movie was released over four decades ago, but every generation alive today can recount the iconic “Who you gonna call?” theme tune from the timeless supernatural fantasy film.

Ghostbusters may have started out as a small-budget production, but it has grown to become much more than just a movie; it’s become a franchise. And the Ghostbusters franchise is still very much alive and growing today.

Ghostbusters: a classic that remains contemporary

When Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote Ghostbusters in 1983, they had no idea that their film would go down in box office history.

The supernatural fantasy was based around Akyroyd’s family history and his grandfather’s work as a nineteenth-century psychic investigator. Akyroyd took his ancestor’s real-life tales of séances and supernatural encounters, reworked and dramatized them, and Ghostbusters was born; the first-ever comedy film to use special effects.

The film’s use of practical effects and puppetry was ahead of its time and brought the iconic battle between evil ghosts and comedic team of parapsychologists to life – captivating audiences worldwide and laying down the foundation for what would become a movie phenonium.

Special effects may have improved in the years since the initial release of Ghostbusters, but Aykroyd’s ghouls remain the face of the paranormal world. The heroes and villains from Ghostbusters have become their own franchise; proton packs and Stay Puft marshmallow men are all over comic books, clothing, and theme park attraction rides across the world and are loved by the old and young alike.

New films and tv shows are continually being added to the Ghostbusters franchise, keeping the supernatural-fantasy’s fandom alive. The Ghostbusters story has even been adapted into video games and you’ll even find a themed games among these NJ online slots, so diehard fans can experience the supernatural realm on a new interactive level and immerse themselves in their own ghost-busting gameplay.

An unexpected success story

It’s hard to imagine, but when the multi-million Ghostbusters franchise was first pitched to Columbia Pictures in 1984, the project was met by skepticism.

Directors and producers raised concern about how much the film would cost to make and predicted Ghostbusters wouldn’t fare well at the box office. The film was made on a strict budget of $30 million, and filming was completed in just four months – with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson stepping into the shoes of the four lead characters (Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore respectively).

No one – not even the cast or directors – were prepared for what came next. When it premiered in June 1984, Ghostbusters became an overnight sensation.

In its opening weekend, the first Ghostbusters movie made $13,612,564 in North American theatres alone. It ranked as the number one film of the weekend, ahead of Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The film was acclaimed by audiences and critics alike and by the end of its first week, Ghostbusters had made a record-breaking $23.1 million.

The first Ghostbusters film was a huge success and remains the bestselling film in the franchise. But Ghostbusters isn’t about to take its final bow yet; the supernatural franchise has reinvented itself across platforms and continents to keep the ghostbusting brand alive.

From the big screen to the TV screen

The Ghostbusters franchise has grown and evolved over the years, but film and motion picture remain at its heart.

Two films followed the original movie: Ghostbusters II (1989) and Ghostbusters (2016). A new sequel, Ghostbusters Afterlife, is set to be released in 2021. The fourth film is highly anticipated by both fans and film connoisseurs and teases a star-studded cast and original plot.

The laughs and thrills of the timeless Ghostbusters story aren’t withheld for cinemagoers; several tv shows and documentaries have joined the franchise while Aykroyd’s brainchild has taken a break from the silver screen.

Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters came out in 2019 (2020 for UK audiences), and the documentary is highly recommended to Ghostbusters superfans looking to get their fix of behind-the-scene interviews with directors and original cast members. Even without new material, Ghostbusters continues to grip its existing fans and entice new ones.

The future of Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters’ originality and charm hooked audiences back in 1984, where lovable characters and before-the-times special effects wowed critics and packed out box offices. But it’s the story’s ability to still captivate an audience more than forty years later that’s a real testament to Ghostbusters’ status as one of the best movies of all time.

Ghostbusters has become much more than a film; it’s a comic, a form of gaming entertainment, an animated tv show – it’s a franchise that refuses to be forgotten.

Films to stream this September

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This month’s biggest release is Disney’s remake of Mulan. As we have come to expect from Disney, remakes are easy cash grabs, and draw more on nostalgia than actual cinematic value.

The 2020 version of Mulan will divide viewers, as some will appreciate the new stoic take, but many will lament its joylessness, lacking the songs of the original and any real character growth.

If you are one of the many who are actively avoiding watching Mulan, you may be looking for something else to watch. The good news is that there are some excellent films arriving on streaming platforms.

You can use VPNPros.com to get around geo-restrictions that may prevent you from accessing all the content available on Netflix and other platforms. Here are some great new movies to stream that hold actual original value.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things (Netflix)

The trailer for Netflix’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things set up a thrilling and creepy film from Charlie Kaufman (writer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). However, the movie itself is far from your typical horror or thriller. In fact, it gets increasingly surreal to the point that it becomes disorientating, even as it stays engrossing.

The film follows a young woman who accompanies her boyfriend to dinner at his parents’ place, even as she is reconsidering their relationship. It doesn’t take long before it becomes apparent that not everything is as it seems. The dinner table scene is one of the highlights of any film this year. This is a truly original, intriguing watch.

Get Duked! (Prime)

Get Duked! came out in the UK as Boyz in the Wood in 2019, but has only recently come to Amazon Prime Video. The film is a comedy-thriller. However, unlike most movies in the genre, it works as both a good comedy and a good thriller movie.

Four teenagers go for a camping trip in the woods, where they start being tracked by vicious hunters. The police follow without providing much help. Starring comedian Eddie Izzard, Get Duked! is a great satire of classism, along with other British staples. The teenagers actually star in rap duo Run The Jewels’ new music video for their song Out of Sight (featuring 2 Chainz).

Kandasamys: The Wedding (Netflix)

If you loved the South African film Keeping Up With The Kandasamys, you will love the sequel which is now streaming on Netflix. This comedy-drama follows the Naidoo and Kandasamy families as they prepare for their children’s weddings, trying to outdo each other and come out on top.

While The Wedding is light-hearted and fun, it also provides a commentary about expectations on Indian families to keep up with the standards imposed by expectations that are becoming more and more anachronistic.

In terms of its content matter, it is a far more worthwhile watch than Netflix’s new original rom-com, Love Guaranteed, which we urge you to avoid! Mulan is not the only new movie available now, and it is certainly not the best one. If you are looking for fresh content rather than a stale remake, the above films are worth a try.

Four facts you may not know about Casino

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Every casino regular has probably seen Martin Scorsese’s 1995 classic Casino, starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. However, only true fans of both casinos and cinema know the following facts about the movie and its production.

Casino is based on a true story that took place in Las Vegas, the capital of American gambling. Unlike today, when you can enjoy casino games at leading sites like Bet2you, this movie takes us back to the classic era of gambling, the mob, and Las Vegas in all its glory (when casinos still had a hint of mystery about them).

1. De Niro’s Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein is based on a real-life figure
Here’s one little Casino movie fact that only true fans know: the real guy the movie is based on is not Sam Rothstein. His name was Frank Rosenthal, also known as ‘Lefty’ in the casino circuit. Surprisingly, Frank was not interested in having his life made into a movie. That is until he found out that Scorsese would direct, and De Niro would star in it. It turns out that Frank was a huge fan of both De Niro and Scorsese.

2. Casino was shot in a real casino
To make Casino as true to life as possible, Scorsese wanted to film in a real-life casino. The only problem was that a casino that size never closes. Therefore, the crew had to work outside of peak hours and only take up a corner of the casino. Another thing that makes it so realistic is that instead of hiring actors, they used real dealers and pit bosses whenever they could. Throughout the filming of the movie, people were enjoying the games on the other side of the casino floor.

3. Legal ramifications
Studios are always nervous about making movies that concern the mafia. In this case, Universal Studios’ lawyers were the ones who suggested calling Frank Rosenthal by the alias Sam Rothstein and using the nickname ‘Ace’ instead of ‘Lefty’.

You’ll also notice they never mention Chicago as being the headquarters of the Las Vegas Mob. Rather, they used “back home”. Additionally, saying the movie was “adapted from a true story” rather than “based on a true story” gave them much more freedom creatively. However, Scorsese himself confirmed that most of the movie is based on facts.

4. Frank Rosenthal died without seeing the final cut of the movie
Rosenthal admitted that he only saw the rough cut of the movie once. According to the screenwriter Pileggi, his response was positive. However, later on in an interview, Frank stated that the film “lacked many details” of who he was. And that certain aspects of the movie made him seem silly and inarticulate. This was all Frank said about the film, but sadly, we will never know if he really liked or disliked the final cut of the movie.

From the silver screen to the slot machine

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If you’re the type of person that loves getting paid for watching movies, then movie-themed slot games are your way out. Although, people prefer different genres of movies, It is difficult to come across anyone who doesn’t like movies altogether.

Movie-themed online slots give you the opportunity to relieve your movies by actively participating in it and getting paid for your participation. The popularity of the movie-themed slots has increased exponentially in the last few years and many online casinos have taken advantage of the trend. Game providers now use soundtracks, improved scenes and the characters from your movies to develop a gaming sensation that only the movie itself can give.

You can find movie-themed online slots in all parts of the world whether in online casinos, land-based casinos or virtual casinos. Many of these slots are always action-packed just like the movie, you will come across, comedy, romance, thrills and almost all movie niche known to man. Experience your favourite movie-themed slots at Royal Bet Casino. Here is a list of the best movie-themed online slots.

The Dark Knight
This is a five-reel slot game from the stables of world best game providers, IGT and Microgaming. Each game made by these developers is similar to the other, only that the Microgaming version is played online while the IGT version is played at land-based casinos only. The Dark Knight features 14 paying symbols and a total of 243 winning combos. The symbols of the game include characters like Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent, both from the movie. There are also symbols of the king, queen, ace and many more. The Batman symbol is the highest paying symbol. The game also has the free spin feature and the progressive jackpot feature.

Scarface
Scarface is a movie-themed slot developed by Netent. This game is a five-reel slot with 20 pay lines. The Scarface game is based on a gangster movie. It incorporates all the beautiful scenes and cool sounds of the movie as well as all the characters of the movie. The character symbols of this game add to its thrills. Characters like Tony Montana, Elvira, Manny and Chi-Chi are the symbols with the winning combinations. This slot game features free spins, wilds, the skill stop feature and the autoplay function.

Rocky
Rocky is a five-reel game developed by Playtech. It is a 25 pay line slot featuring the Rocky Balboa and several strong opponents fighting in the ring. Who will come out top? The slot has a fine blend of the movies graphics, sound and characters. You will find characters of Rocky, Adrian, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed in the game. This game has several other low-value symbols, scatters and wilds. All these symbols activate free spins and multipliers. Enjoy the bonus credits and the knockout bonus rounds that this game has got to offer.

Bridesmaids
Which better slot game can come out from the stables of Microgaming and IGT than Bridesmaid? This game is a five-reel game with 30 pay lines. It features six beautiful characters from the movie. Match Becca, Rita and Megan to get up to 300 coins, match Annie and Helen to get up to 450 coins and find Lillian to get up to 750 coins. The bonus features of this game are more than what can be imagined. Hit three scatter cupcakes to get up to 200x your total bet. The bonus feature of this game includes the wheel bonus, the magic moments, the cupcake bonus and so on. Enjoy the wild and scatters that give you so much free spins.

The enduring popularity of TV crime dramas

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TV crime shows have become some of the most popular shows in the world over recent years. Their popularity has resulted in the production of so many crime shows that it’s difficult to choose which one to watch next.

For television fans, there are many gripping crime shows from cop shows to true crime documentaries and crime dramas. In the UK, there have been many crime shows that have received positive reviews from fans and critics, such as Broadchurch, Line of Duty, Luther, and Vera etc.

Whether you are interested in watching a crime show about robberies, murder, or missing people, there are many available to watch on Netflix, Sky, BBC iPlayer, and elsewhere.

The Netflix true crime category has many most talked about shows for people to watch including Jerry Epstein: Filthy Rich, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, and Making a Murderer. From cops and serial killers to gangsters and heists, why do audiences love to watch a good crime show?

Why do audiences find crime dramas so interesting?

  • Audiences can learn about famous historical cases – There are a lot of crime drama series that are based on true events, such as When They See Us and American Crime Story (The People vs. O.J. Simpson / The Assassination of Gianni Versace) that teach audiences about past real-life cases. Audiences can learn about high-profile true stories of trials, victims, defendants, and miscarriages of justice.
  • They include a creative long-form type of storytelling – More crime TV shows have adopted long-form storytelling techniques. These techniques have made it easy for audiences to become addicted to the shows as they are looking to see what happens next. The build-up of suspense from one episode to another has resulted in a comprehensive and solid fan base for the genre.
  • Crime dramas are very informative – People love TV crime shows because they provide endless amounts of information. With every show and episode, there is something new that viewers get to learn. This has helped keep the audience continuously interested and has attracted a broad audience as well.
  • There’s always an interesting mystery or plot twist – Many crime dramas feature huge plot twists and unexpected revelations as the story goes on. Anyone who has a passion for solving mysteries will love to watch a crime show to find out exactly ‘whodunnit’.

Some great TV crime shows to check out

Frankie Drake Mysteries
This crime TV show, set in the 1920s, follows the character of Frankie Davis, a female private detective operating in Toronto. Frankie Drake Mysteries follows Frankie and her partner Trudy as they solve cases that the police refuse to take on as well as cases that clients cannot take to the authorities. The show is very popular because it is one of the few in Hollywood produced and co-written by women. It is also very popular because of its unique plot and quality of direction and production.

Narcos
Set in Colombia, Narcos is an American crime drama that is based on the true-life story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who became a billionaire from producing and distributing cocaine. The show follows the interactions of Escobar with other drug lords and details his rise and fall and the involvement of the DEA in the shutdown of the growth of the Cali Cartel. The show has become really popular and has even inspired its own Narcos video slot game.

Agatha Raisin
Agatha Raisin is the perfect detective series for people who enjoy a combination of humour and crime investigation. Based on a series of novels written by M.C. Beaton, it follows the life of a titular fictional detective who has moved to the Cotswolds, where she hopes to live a quiet and slow life. The detective discovers her talent for solving mysteries after successfully investigating and solving a single crime. Agatha is a quirky alternative TV show detective known for her unique sense of fashion while doing her job.

Trapped
Also known as Ófærð, Trapped is an Icelandic mystery drama series first broadcasted in Iceland in 2015. The BBC was just one of the worldwide broadcasters that screened the show the following year. This is an Icelandic murder mystery series. The show uses it’s out of the way location to increase the tension within the show hence making it one of the best crime drama shows. It follows the life and work of Andri, a detective who is extremely focused on his work, so much so that it’s taken a toll on his family. With two seasons aired so far, there is a lot of drama, twists, and turns that appear in each making it a gripping show for crime show fans to watch.

Cinema’s greatest gamblers

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Throughout Hollywood history, there’s been a lot of characters who love a flutter in one form or another. Whether slick professionals, hopeless addicts, or a mixture of the two, their stories can make for hard watching at times – in keeping with the visceral nature of their chosen pastime.

These individuals are often highly charismatic, intelligent but flawed people, giving them a magnetic screen presence. Here are some of the best, or in fact worst, on-screen gamblers of all time.

Fast Eddie – The Hustler
Released in 1959, Hollywood royalty Paul Newman portrays an up and coming pool hustler called Fast Eddie Felson. Whilst undoubtedly possessing a lot of natural talent, he also has the ego to match, and this plays a major part in his story. Based on the book by Walter Tevis and directed by the legendary Robert Rossen (All the King’s Men), it’s a slick portrayal of the “perverted, twisted, and crippled” world of pool hall hustlers at their despicable best and catapulted Newman in the very the top tier of great actors.

Eddy – Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Another natural gambler also called Eddy, this man’s speciality is ‘making cards invisible’. Such is his prodigious talent that he convinces his friends to foot him the buy-in for a high-stakes game of ‘three card brag’ with the promise of big profits. Little does he know that his opponents are crooked as the sickle on the USSR flag. A variety of capers ensue, some better conceived than others. This is Guy Richie’s breakthrough movie and also features Jason Statham and Sting, an iconic British classic that, like The Italian Job, ends in a cliffhanger we’ll never know the outcome of.

James Bond – Casino Royale
When most people play poker they’re not saddled with the added pressure of saving the world from the designs of evil supervillains à la Le Chiffre. But, this James Bond after all, and he gets little help from his American counterpart and femme fatale played by Eva Green. As well as high stakes poker games, Bond is a capable baccarat player, so an Irish casino for players over 18 may well be a good place for him to try.

Ben Campbell – 21
A maths whizz from MIT finds himself in need of some cash and gets recruited to a team of his peers, also maths whizzes, who, led by their professor (Kevin Spacey), head to Vegas to knock off casinos at – you guessed it – blackjack. Whilst many, critics and moviegoers alike, didn’t consider this to be a great movie, you can’t deny that Ben and his team are a gifted bunch. This is at least when it comes to the technical side of things, beyond that they’re a tad naive.

Rusty Ryan – Ocean’s 11
Steven Soderbergh’s slick heist movie starts with Rusty, played by Brad Pitt, apparently teaching a load of celebrities how to win at poker. His first piece of advice is to “always leave emotion at the door”, something his long time conspirator, Danny, could well do with taking later on in the movie. Ultimately, Rusty cheats the celebs that he’s supposed to be helping, so caution to take his advice with a large pinch of salt, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

Raymond Babbit – Rain Man
Ah, the great American late eighties/nineties comedy-drama. In this one, Raymond Babbit (played by Dustin Hoffman) is manipulated by his unscrupulous brother, Charlie (Tom Cruise) to use his incredible memory powers to count cards at a casino. Unlike everyone on this list, he’s a man with absolutely no interest in gambling or money, but he’s so effective he even gets a mention in the song Rain Man by rapper Eminem.

The best actors to have appeared around a poker table

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Poker scenes have been cropping up in movies and on TV since the industries began. The game is incredibly versatile, depicting everything from a fun evening with friends, the glamour of casinos, and heightened tension over games where the price of losing isn’t worth thinking about.

It’s the secretive nature of the game, as well as the way it builds to a big reveal, that makes it work well on the screen. And it doesn’t require an in-depth knowledge of the game in order to appreciate a winning hand – especially as it’s nearly always a full house.

With poker scenes ranging from comedic to dramatic to ultra-realistic, there are plenty of actors who have held a hand of cards over the years. Here is a rundown of some of the best, along with the scenes where the cards might just have stolen the show.

Matt Damon
A poker fan himself, Damon was called upon to bring his skills to the silver screen in the 1998 movie Rounders, playing Mike McDermott a talented poker player who retired after losing it all to a Russian gangster. Pulled back into the scene in order to help a friend raise the capital needed to repay some dodgy debts, he finds himself once again up against his poker nemesis Teddy KGB (played with relish by John Malkovich).

The film culminates in a head-to-head battle between Mike and Teddy, and both actors use the game to great effect to ramp up the tension between the characters. Mike’s explanation of how he worked out Teddy’s ‘tell’ is delivered perfectly by Damon. Rounders is a must-see for all poker enthusiasts.

Brad Pitt
The glamorous side of gambling is shown in technicolour in 2001’s remake of Ocean’s Eleven, but where poker makes its memorable appearance is not on the floor of the casino but in the dimly-lit back room of a strip club. Pitt’s character Rusty Ryan, having retired from the heist game and now trying to turn legit, is shown trying to teach celebrities how to play poker. When Danny Ocean (George Clooney) crashes the game, Ryan takes the opportunity to deliver a lesson in drawing out the bluff.

The comedy in the scene comes from the actors playing naïve versions of themselves, along with the knowing glances to the camera from Pitt and Clooney as they invite the audience into their little secret. It is well known that Hollywood contains many celeb poker players and it’s very easy to imagine similar scenes taking place in real life. Poker itself doesn’t feature much in the scene. Instead, it is used as a vehicle to set the scene for the brilliant performances from the leading men.

Daniel Craig
Mr. Smooth himself, Craig took over the role of Bond for the 2006 film Casino Royale. Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel finally got an onscreen outing as part of the official canon of movies, and it brought us a younger Bond and a much more modern feel. And part of that feel came from the glitz and glamour of the casino sets. Set in the fictional Hotel Splendid, the movie sees Bond face off against arch-villain Le Chiffre during a Texas Hold’em poker tournament.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers didn’t pay as much attention to how the game was actually played, as they did to the atmosphere at the tables. So while the scenes where Bond and Le Chiffre clash charismatically over the cards, poker aficionados have been known to flinch at the inaccuracies in the rules and the etiquette. But when a game produces this much tension, I think we can forgive them using a little artistic licence.

Mel Gibson
1994’s Maverick may not have gone down in history as one of Gibson’s finest, which is a shame, because his comedic turn as the poker playing Brett Maverick is a real delight to watch. Trying to raise funds to enter a poker tournament, Maverick battles his way through comedic mishaps until he finally gets a seat at the table.

The second half of the film is all poker, with a colourful cast of characters making up his opponents. Gibson switches between naïve novice and slick con-artist with playful ease as he makes his way to the final table and a showdown between the best players. The slow reveal of everyone’s hands is incredibly unrealistic and screams Hollywood, but the tension that builds as Gibson places down one card after another, until finally revealing the tournament-winning ace of spades, can be cut with a knife and will have everyone watching from the edge of their seats.

These are just a few of many films and tv shows to use poker scenes over the years. If you’re a fan of the game then it’s worth checking out the movies and seeing the great performances from many well-known actors as they try to convey the thrill and excitement of a winning hand.

Full house! The best bingo scenes in film and TV

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Although bingo was initially a popular game in retirement villages and community centres, it is gradually becoming the favourite of young men and women in the online bingo game community.

Because of its growing popularity among young people, many online gaming platforms have included bingo games on their list. For those passionate about playing online bingo, explore the list found on BingoSites.

Some bingo games are even based on TV shows and movies. Bingo games have also made appearances in some movies over the years. Five of the best bingo game scenes from movies and TV can be found below.

Hotel Transylvania
This is a computer-animated comedy that was produced in 2012. Hotel Transylvania features skulls as the balls in its bingo scene. In the comedy, a caller shouted “N-27” while a monster shouted “Bingo” in response.

As soon as the monster uttered that word, a gremlin seated beside her consumes her paper. In response, the monster turns to the gremlin and questions the rationale behind that action. The hilarious scene from the comedy increased bingo’s popularity among the younger generations.

Inglourious Basterds
In 2009, Quentin Tarantino released Inglorious Basterds. The movie is woven around a group of Nazi hunters. The movie features some discussions centred on bingo, although it doesn’t actually feature a scene where the game is played. Towards the tail end of the movie, American Lieutenant Aldo Raine, acted by Brad Pitt, and Colonel Hans Landa, acted by Christoph Waltz, negotiate Landa’s capitulation.

Landa gave Waltz a career breakthrough, thanks partly to how he uses some bingo-related words freely in the movie. He once asks Raine the right usage of the word “Bingo”, while Raine replies that he should say it casually. “You just say Bingo”, replies Pitt.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
In 2013, Jackass came up with this movie with a different storyline, a deviation from its trademark compilation of stunts.

In the movie, the saucy grandpa, Irving Zisman, was played by Johnny Knoxville. In one of the scenes, Irving visits a bingo hall. In a trademark Jackass film, he misbehaves in the bingo hall, eliciting a horror reaction from other bingo players in the hall.

Rampage
Rampage was released in 2009, a cult action film about a 23-year-old Bill Williamson. While staying with his parents, he went on a killing spree with two semiautomatics, two submachine guns, and two knives to commit murder. In one of the scenes, he enters a bingo hall unnoticed, harasses the counter attendant while buying a sandwich.  However, the bingo players are oblivious of his presence as they are engrossed in their game. He doesn’t hurt them, fortunately.

Better Call Saul
Although Better Call Saul is not a film but a TV show, the 2015 series features an unforgettable bingo scene. In the scene, the principal character provides his potential clients with the numbers at a bingo game. He snaps at a stage and begins to rant about his life. However, that’s the turning point in his life. What happens next: Saul later becomes one of TV’s most popular characters – in a twist of fate.

The rising popularity of Netflix during lockdown

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When it was founded in 1997, Netflix first started as a DVD rental-by-mail service. But it is now one of the largest media streaming services worldwide. After realising the potential of video streaming technology in 2007, the company decided to shift to the video-on-demand subscription model.

Since then, the revenue and number of subscribers is always on the rise. For instance, it has already made $5.76 billion in the first quarter of 2020. When it comes to the subscribers, the number currently stands at over 180 million subscribers globally, and another 16 million new subscribers joined within the first three months of 2020. If you would like to know more interesting facts about Netflix, then here are some great facts and statistics for you to discover.

Netflix started with only 1,000 titles
Netflix invented a streaming service named ‘Watch Now’ in January 2007 with only 1,000 titles. The reason for the small selection was as a result of stiff rivalry from the DVD rental services. At the time, Netflix introduced a new streaming service where users could watch their favourite films from their PCs instead of waiting for DVD deliveries.

The idea may seem like an ordinary invention today, but it was an exceptional invention back then. As Netflix has developed over the years, it has added more and more titles to its library including some great films like The King’s Speech, which is one of the essential films for film students to watch.

Some Netflix users still rely on DVD rentals
Currently, Netflix subscribers stand at 182.86 million. Out of this number, 61.04 million are US subscribers, while the rest comes from the other parts of the world. Although Netflix used to be a DVD -by-mail company, there are still 2.7 million subscribers in the US that use that service.

The limited selection of streaming titles on the online platform is perhaps the main reason why some subscribers still opt for Netflix DVDs. Currently, Netflix’s streaming platform has less than 6,000 film titles, while the DVD users get over 100,000 titles. The DVD rental service is estimated to last up to 2025.

Over 50% of US adults accesses Netflix
According to a research study in 2017, around 54% of adult users in the US have access to Netflix. It is an incredible rise since only 28% of adults in the US accessed Netflix in 2011.

Most subscribers use Netflix due to its original shows
Most subscribers who use Netflix say that they use the platform primarily due to the original programs it offers. These are the programs that you cannot come across on any other platform. Besides the originality, the users say that they love the fact that Netflix does not include ads that interrupt you while watching the films. People are exposed to millions of ads on the internet, and that’s the reason they love watching ad-free shows.

Netflix users spend around one billion hours per week watching content
You read that right! The daily streaming and watching add up to one billion hours of watching weekly. It may feel like a lot of time, primarily due to the incorporation of the word ‘billion’. However, if you divide the hours with the number of subscribers, you’ll realise that every subscriber spends only about 6.7 hours weekly on the platform.

On Netflix there are many films and TV shows that viewers can tune into, many titles starring cream of the crop Academy-Award winning actors. But what are the chances of actually winning an Oscar? According to this quiz the odds are 1 in 11,500.

Netflix awarded $40 million to Chris Rock to create two comedy specials
Over the past few years Netflix has paid comedians large amounts of money for comedy specials. Amy Schumer, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ricky Gervais are just some comedians that have signed massive deals with the platform.

In 2016, Chris Rock signed a deal with Netflix worth $40 million for two specials. Irrespective of the rivals such as Hulu, YouTube and Disney+, Netflix does not seem to stop working with the best individuals and teams in the industry anytime soon.

From Elm Street to The Evil Dead: cinema’s scariest basements

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Basements are a staple in horror movies. They’re a great way to signal to the audience that something creepy is about to happen, and they’ve been used to incredible effect in horror movies since the beginning.

If you’re looking for a great horror movie to watch, here are ten highly-rated horror movies and TV shows with scary basements.

10. A Quiet Place
This movie offered a compelling look into the world of a brand new monster – one that hunts based on noise. The family in the movie tries to hide their newborn baby in a soundproof cellar, but when the cellar floods, they’re forced into action far before they thought they would.

9. A Nightmare on Elm Street
By pitting the “real world” and the “dream world” against each other, A Nightmare on Elm Street manages to create a truly terrifying universe. The Nightmare Factory, which is what Freddy calls his dream world boiler room, is where he carries out torture and murder.

8. The Evil Dead
In this cult classic movie, the Deadites live in a fruit cellar under the door, underneath a cabin in the woods. The truly spooky twist to this story is the fact that the cabin in the movie has actually burned down since filming.

7. Get Out
This dark comedy-horror-satire movie gained plenty of critical praise for its deft hand regarding all of these styles. In one truly unforgettable scene, the main character undergoes hypnosis in a home’s basement, causing him to go to the Sunken Place.

6. Misery
Misery proved that you don’t need dozens of sets, gallons of blood, and a cast of a dozen people to make a chilling movie. Most of it revolves around only two individuals. The damp, rat-infested cellar is part of what the main character uses to keep her captive from calling for help.

5. The Exorcist
When The Exorcist was released, many people believed it signalled a moral change in cinematic history. Its terror was so great that one woman was rumoured to have had a miscarriage while watching it, though that’s almost certainly just an urban legend. Still, the basement doesn’t play into it much; 12-year-old Regan finds an Ouija board in the basement and uses it to communicate with a demon.

4. Psycho
Psycho also holds an important piece of cinematic history. It was the first movie to ever show a toilet flushing, albeit one with only a piece of paper in it, and the move was still regarded as extremely edgy. The main character goes into the fruit cellar at one point, only to discover Norman Bates’ mother’s mummified corpse.

3. Parasite
More than just a horror movie, Parasite is also a commentary on class issues. Though these class issues centre on South Korea, they still ring true for many viewers in other countries. The main family’s basement apartment, or banjiha, is the backdrop for some truly awful behaviour.

2. The Silence of the Lambs
Of all the movies on this list, this one might have the most horrifying basement moments. Buffalo Bill kidnaps women, then puts them in a dry well in his basement to starve them. Once he kills them, he skins them to create a skin dress.

1. Stranger Things
The highest-rated piece of media on this list is Stranger Things, a critically acclaimed Netflix series about a rural town that starts experiencing supernatural happenings. In the story, one character calls another from a basement regularly.

Conclusion
These TV shows and movies are all different amounts of terrifying, which means they’ll work best for different people. Whether you’re interested in a drama, a dark comedy, or a slasher film, you can find one that will knock your socks off. Next time you want to watch something a little spooky, check one of the movies on this list off your must-watch list.