Brilliant barnets of Helena Bonham Carter

When it comes to hair, is bigger better? Is madder better? Depends on the person. Maybe you have to be part of the Tim Burton inner circle to pull off increasingly insane hairstyles.

Whatever the case may be, watching Les Miserables recently I was impressed by how Helena Bonham Carter’s hair keeps getting bigger, brasher and – let’s face it – better.  Is she having a hair-off with Johnny Depp? Whose filmography boasts the most outrageous styles?

It’s not locks alone though, I love her take on characters, the hair is just the icing on that coiffured cake. Here’s my pick of her standout hairstyles and performances:

Marla SingerFight Club (1999)

FightClub_162PyxurzKicking off her hair-defining period with jet black locks sticking out in all directions: her character, Marla Singer, was sublimely scuzzy and sleazy, yet seductive and somewhat vulnerable – the perfect link between Norton’s tightly-wound narrator and Pitt’s rebellious Tyler Durden.

Bellatrix LestrangeHarry Potter (2007-2011)

bellatrixWith manic eyes and a suitably demented, witch-y beehive all piled up, she effectively stole most scenes, screaming abuse at the filthy mudbloods, god bless her. Out of all the cast, she seemed most at home as a crazy witch – was she even acting?

Mrs LovettSweeney Todd (2007)

sweeney toddJohnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter – has there ever been a more beautifully matched pair of quirky, goofy, gothic weirdos to grace the screen? This marked the third time they’d worked together with Tim Burton (they are now up to five) – a fabulously offbeat partnership, long may it continue.

Red QueenAlice in Wonderland (2010)

ALICE IN WONDERLANDDoes this count as a hairstyle or headstyle? Sporting an oversized cranium with off-the-scale eyebrows, her Red Queen delivered in aces and spades. In her hair-off with Depp the Mad Hatter takes this one, but Bonham Carter’s queen was something special. Deranged, unhinged and perfect.

Dr. HoffmanDark Shadows (2012)

hoffmandarkshadowsThe most toned-down barnet in the list? Maybe, but another Depp, Burton, Bonham Carter team-up, so more than makes the grade. Her hair: a dowdy, buttoned-down 70s home-maker style in lurid orange. Most strange yet most fitting, easily beating Depp’s plastered down vampire style.

Madame ThenardierLes Miserables (2012)

Representing the culmination of 15 years of carefully crafted hairstyles, this mad thatch is as good as it gets. Brilliantly deployed in the ‘Master of the House’ scene with Sacha Baron Cohen, it almost has a life of its own – welcome comic relief in an epic, but emotionally draining film.
bonhamcarter les miserables

Top 10 thinking man’s actresses

Hello my film-loving friends. Today I wish to share with you my list of a thinking man’s top actresses. Ladies that have a certain allure in terms of intelligence, physical beauty, acting prowess and – to avoid using an overused French phrase – an indefinable something.

With each actress I’ve also mentioned the films that first made me fall in love with them. Now you may disagree and say some of these ladies are just a pretty face and nothing else – that’s fine. Hopefully I can state my case and change your mind.

  1. Natalie Portman – Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta
    It’s no secret I hold this actress in high regard and I’ve previously discussed her top performances in another posting. So I’ll just say she makes my top spot by being a perfect blend of intelligence, beauty and vulnerability – a winning combination.
  2. Eva Green – The Dreamers, Casino Royale, Dark Shadows
    Hypnotic, alluring, sensual – she got her debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The DreamersThe Director described her as ‘So beautiful, it’s indecent‘. It’s not the world’s best film in terms of plot, but if you want to truly appreciate the appeal of this actress I highly recommend it.
  3. Anne HathawayLove and Other Drugs
    In this film I’ve mentioned she plays a character who has early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Some of her scenes – particularly in the third act – are heartbreaking and put her firmly in third place. Even without Catwoman in The Dark Knight she’d still be here, she’s that good in this film. If you’ve not seen it here’s a nice little clip.
  4. Amanda SeyfriedChloe, Alpha Dog, Dear John, Jennifer’s Body
    An actress with the biggest, most beautiful eyes in Hollywood. You have to love the internet, a quick search turned up a site dedicated to her eyes! That aside, she’s been in an interesting and varied bunch of films that slowly but surely convinced me of her inclusion. Out of them all I recommend you see Chloe.
  5. amber heardAmber Heard – The Rum Diary
    She’s the kind of actress that exudes an old-school Hollywood charm and mystique. But who am I to say these things you ask? Well if you don’t believe me listen to Johnny Depp – he compared her to Veronica Lake and other old Hollywood beauties, she clearly had quite an impact.
  6. Jennifer LawrenceWinter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook
    I heard a story once that Ms Lawrence was walking down the corridor in a Hollywood studio when a bearded guy in a cap stopped her saying ‘Are you the Jennifer Lawrence?’ Turns out this was Steven Spielberg. He’d seen Winter’s Bone and been captivated by her performance, as many of us were seeing her for the first time.
  7. beth albatrossJessica Brown Findlay – Albatross,
    Black Mirror, Misfits, Labyrinth

    If you only know Miss Findlay from Downton Abbey then you’ve missed a trick. I loved her in Albatross, where she plays a bit of a sexy troublemaker, seducing her best friend’s dad. She gives the character warmth, depth and vulnerability – with a sharp, sassy nature to boot.
  8. Marion CotillardPublic Enemies, Inception, Dark Knight Rises
    She won an Oscar for playing Edith Piaf  in La Vie En Rose and I’m excited to see her forthcoming film Rust and Bone, where she plays a killer whale trainer. She was fantastic in Inception – intense, vulnerable and mesmerising. Watch the ‘waiting for a train’ scene.
  9. Mila KunisForgetting Sarah Marshall, Friends with Benefits, Ted
    I struggle with Kunis. She’s still Meg from Family Guy – a problem when she’s clearly stunning and likes to play quite fiesty, yet down-to-earth characters. The perfect girl-next-door, if you happen to live in Hollywood. There’s a rumour she might play Anastasia Steele in the forthcoming Fifty Shades film, an enticing prospect.
  10. Felicity JonesCemetery Junction, Albatross, Like Crazy
    Ah Ms Jones, great up-and-coming actress. She comes across as really sweet and genuine. Like Crazy cleaned up at the Sundance film festival in 2011 with her performance getting compared to Carey Mulligan’s in An Education. Emotional and heartfelt, watch the trailer.

So there’s my list. As ever I was ruthless with the cut – there’s probably a lot more that could have made my top 10 but there you go. I hope you enjoy this selection, until next time.

The wonderful weirdness of Johnny Depp

fear and loathing in las vegas

I was thinking about the Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill remake of 21 Jump Street recently – incidentally a really good film, Tatum is much funnier than I expected – and it reminded me of Johnny Depp’s cameo near the end. A complete scene-stealing, unexpected moment that lasts less than 2 minutes. It’s brilliant. Check it out.

This got me thinking about Depp’s career and his forthcoming role as Tonto in the remake of The Lone Ranger. What I love about Depp is the choices he has made. In terms of character, he’s carved out a career embracing the weird, wacky, offbeat, fantastical, macabre and deranged.

tonto johnny depp 2013It wasn’t always like this. Returning to 21 Jump Street for a second, Depp’s appearance in the remake was a nod to the fact he appeared in the original series (1987-90). That final year he made his film breakthrough in Edward Scissorhands (1990). With one of his strangest characters, he’d kick-started his career. However he didn’t return to the weird and wonderful again for 8 years, appearing in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). A film you can probably only truly appreciate if you’ve taken a hell of a lot of drugs.

fear and loathing in las vegasFor me, Fear and Loathing was the start of his wacky period which saw him give us fabulously strange characters in films such as: Sleepy Hollow, From Hell, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, The Rum Diary, and Dark Shadows.

So, from what we can see, his output for the weird, wacky and fantastical in on the up. Some say he’s sold out. I don’t entirely buy that. Like many successful actors, he has said he just wants to have fun and embrace new challenges that come his way. If that happens to be five (yes five!) Pirates of the Caribbean films then so be it. Being part of a franchise that’s grossed nearly $3 billion probably gives you a bit of room to express yourself.

alice in wonderlandThere are some that say he’s sold out whilst still managing to play quirky edgy characters. This may be true, but where’s the harm in that? If it means Depp can give us his version of The Mad Hatter, Tonto or Barnabas Collins, then I’m all for it.

As Hatter says to Alice, ‘You used to be much more “muchier” You’ve lost your muchness.’ Well I think Johnny Depp has begun to find his muchness in recent years, long may it continue!