Films and Cinema

cinema vocabularyGoing to the cinema, or watching films and DVDs at home is definitely one of the most popular pastimes of the last 50 years.

Watching movies is an easy way to learn new things, to switch off, to be entertained, and if we are lucky, to be inspired.

Thankfully, Málaga is on the Film Festival Circuit and what better place to roll out the red carpet afilm1nd glam up with a mini skirt and a pair of high heels. Yes, film making is definitely something to celebrate, or at the very least we all have an excuse to sit on over-sized plastic armchairs, drink cheeky beers and stuff our faces with popcorn.


Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to improve your vocabulary and comprehension of everything connected to films. If you fail in your mission, you might spontaneously combust, burst into flames, be jet-ported to Mars, or you might just live happily ever after. Don’t risk bursting into flames, if I were in your shoes, I would accept this mission. Good Luck!


Match the pictures with the appropriate film genres:

Documentary, Horror, Animation, Western, Action, Musical, Science Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Thriller

Kinds of Films 1Kinds of Films 2Kinds of Film 3


Cinema Vocab


How would you describe the last film you watched? Was it gripping, predictable, hilarious? Do you know the meaning of the following adjectives? Are they usually positive or negative?



















Although I’m not a film-buff, I am really keen on watching films. Unfortunately, I have a memory like a goldfish and after 5 seconds I’ve usually forgotten the plot, and on the odd occasion I’ve also forgotten where I am!

In general, I never remember the names of actors and actresses, although I don’t seem to have a problem with the following names: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington, Miguel Silvestre, Cary Grant and James Dean. Well, I never said I was anything other than Ms Shallow! A gal has to window shop from time to time.


Have you ever wondered who your favourite film director is? No?!

romeoWell, the brilliant, Australian director, Baz Lurhmann, really ‘floats my boat’. This is very curious because in general I can’t stand musicals. It’s just not normal to be walking down the street and then start belting out a tune.

On the whole, I think these kinds of movies are ‘a sandwich short of a picnic’. Luckily, Baz Luhrmann has, up to a point, changed my mind as one of my all time favourite films is his musical Romeo and Juliet. Although his version is based on Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, the film is set in modern times and the tragedy of the star-crossed lovers unfolds against a backdrop of guns, drugs and fast convertibles.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, then I suggest that you see it immediately. Check out the official trailer here.
tangoSo, despite the fact that musicals aren’t my cup of tea, music is definitely a part of my life that I couldn’t give up. With that in mind, when I first watched Moulin Rouge I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Yes, it’s a musical, and blow me over, yes, it’s that good! Seriously, the soundtrack is second-to-none and in my opinion mixing the song Roxanne by The Police with the Tango to emphasize the raw emotions of love, passion, betrayal, jealousy and suspicion was a stroke of genius. Not seen it? Click here

The main characters, Christian and Satine, are played by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman; and their acting is priceless. So, although this love story didn’t break my heart of stone it definitely caused a mini crack.

READING CHALLENGE TWO: Film Genres: Horror Films

Horror films make me jump under the bed and scream like a baby. And, if I watch a vampire film I have to go to bed with a bulb of garlic hanging around my neck and add to my shopping list, 1 silver bullet and 1 gun.

If you don’t know this, it’s worth jotting it down: Vampires are only stunned by garlic, but if you shoot them in the heart with a silver bullet, they drop dead. In my book, it’s best to go for the silver bullet, the smell of the garlic might not be strong enough to stun them, or maybe over the years they’ve developed a resistance to garlic, just like those malaria carrying mosquitoes.

So, the moral of the story is, bullets are stronger than garlic and if possible, go and make friends with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, Buffy rocks!

READING CHALLENGE THREE: Film Genres: Action Films
gi jane

I love ‘kick ass’ action films and when I’m feeling pathetic I watch ‘GI Jane’ and then bounce around my flat pretending I can do a one armed press up ( the reality is I can’t do any press ups) and shouting: COME ON, I CAN TAKE YOU!

I know, PATHETIC!!

However, not as pathetic as me thinking I’m Harrison Ford in a Raider’s Film. If someone planted a video bug in my flat, they would definitely think that I needed medical attention or some psychiatric help. Either way, if drugs are involved, I’d definitely sign up.

READING CHALLENGE FOUR: Film Genres: Science-Fiction

jabbaAll the members of my family are into science fiction films. My brother can quote every line from the Star Trek and Start Wars Film Series. In fact, when we were younger he used to re-enact scenes from these movies. chewbacca

Oddly, my brother always wanted to play the role of Princess Leia, and he used to make me be Jabba the Hut.

Furthermore, we used to beg our mother to be Chewbacca, but she can’t stand playing games so she used to ignore us while listening to Bach and pontificating about dust. I know, what a lune!

READING CHALLENGE FIVE: Film Genres: Navel-Gazers

tree of lifeI can’t stand predictable plots or films that are ‘navel gazing’. In my opinion the critically acclaimed film The Tree of Life was a navel gazer. I spent the entire 2 hours asking my mate when the film was going to start and at the same time thinking about how long it takes paint to dry.

Unfortunately my mate was far too busy trying to find all the popcorn he had dropped on his pants to worry about the film. The other 2 cinema goers were snoring on the front row. Hardly evidence for a satisfied audience! I’m sorry, I know I know nothing about films or life in general, but The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt or no Brad Pitt is just CRAP! I’m sure I’ll get letters, possibly my deportation papers but I don’t care, I can take it.

If you’ve seen it, what was with the dinosaurs? The dinosaurs are hardly role models for a better way of life, I mean come on, they are EXTINCT, KAPUT, NO MORE. Mr Profound Director, which part of ‘they didn’t make it’ don’t you get?!

READING CHALLENGE FIVE: Film Genres: The Criers and The Classics

When I’m feeling blue I usually fancy watching romantic comedies, or throw away chick flicks like: You’ve Got Mail or Love Actually.

In addition, I have cried buckets at: It’s a Wonderful Life, To kill a Mocking Bird and The Elephant Man. And, I can’t listen to the sound tracks of Platoon or The Mission without my eyes watering and goose bumps appearing all over my body.

On rainy Sunday afternoons I’m usually keen on watching old black and white classics. And despite the fact that I adore Hitchcock, Orsen Welle’s Citizen Cane is on my top ten film list.


SPEAKING CHALLENGE ONE: Can you talk about a film which?

  1. Made you laugh a lot
  2. Made you cry
  3. Sent you to sleep
  4. Made you feel good
  5. You’ve seen several times
  6. Made you buy the soundtrack


  1. Watching films on TV, DVD or in the cinema?
  2. Watching foreign films in their original version, dubbed or with subtitles?
  3. Thought provoking films or throw-away films?
  4. Eating popcorn or throwing it at the audience?


  • Role One: Your local community association has decided to open a cinema club. You are a member of the governing committee and you are discussing what type of film should launch the club. You think that a children’s film or an action film would be the best. Explain your opinion and try to persuade your partner to agree with you.
  • Role Two: Your local community association has decided to open a cinema club. You are a member of the governing committee and you are discussing what type of film should launch the club. You think that a romantic comedy or a thriller would be the best. Explain your opinion and try to persuade your partner to agree with you.


LISTENING ACTIVITY ONE: An Interview with Baz Luhrmann

Baz LuhrmannClick here to listen to the Australian director talking about the film industry, the critics who don’t rate him, the pressure of creative risk-taking and the changing way Australia treats celebrities.

What do you think of the Ozzy accent? Is it easier to understand than the British accent?

LISTENING ACTIVITY TWO: A night at the cinema

A night out in LondonClick here to listen to John and Fiona talking about what they should do for a night out in London.

LISTENING ACTIVITY THREE: An Interview with a film director

Film DirectorXiaolu Guo is a young and highly-successful Chinese writer and film-maker.

Click here to listen to a short interview in which she talks about learning English, and how she had fun trying to find the right kind of English for a character in her best-selling novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers.

Are you worried about not understanding everything? No problem, the typescript is provided to help you improve your listening comprehension.


Imagine you recently saw this advert in a local English language lifestyle magazine.

Reviews Needed!

  • We are hoping to add a FILM section to our magazine. We would like you to write a review about your favourite film of all time. Describe the film and explain why you would recommend it to others.
  • Get writing as the best review will win £500 and free tickets to the cinema.

Not sure how to start? Well, think about the following 5-step structure to help you organize your ideas. In addition, there is a sample example in the Reading section of DOWNLOADS.  Remember, you will need to use the password.

1) Title: Short and Catchy: For example: ‘Sophie’s Choice – Not a Dry Eye in the House’

2) Introduction:

  • General information: the name of the film, genre, the name of the director, the main stars, any awards won.
  • Include overall opinion about the film, for example: ‘This fast-paced, action-packed thriller is a must see’.
  • Try to write a strong expression or a phrase that will catch the reader’s attention

3) Paragraph 1

  • Where and when it was set. A brief summary of the plot, with comments on the acting

4) Paragraph 2

  • Additional aspects of the film: special effects, the musical score, supporting roles
  • If appropriate, you might include some negative opinions here ( either general / personal)

5) Conclusion

  • Personal recommendation with reasons
  • Consider using a direct question, or a memorable expression at the end

WRITING ACTIVITY TWO: Paramount Pictures wants you!

paramount picturesParamount Pictures is an international film and television production studio. It is consistently ranked as one of the top-grossing film studios in the world and it is well-known for movie block-blusters such as Grease, Friday the 13th and Mission Impossible.

The studio has employed most of the best script writers in the world but it is sick to the back teeth of their whingeing behaviour and eccentric off set requirements. It has decided to put its foot down and open an academy to develop new talent.

If you want to apply for the academy, write a postcard to the talent manager answering the following questions.

  1. If you were granted three wishes, what wishes would you ask for?
  2. If you had to choose one thing that represented your personality, what would it be and why?
  3. If you had to change into an animal, what animal would you choose and why?
  4. If you had to write a script about a famous person, who would you write about and why?

WRITING ACTIVITY THREE: An Oscar Acceptance Speech?

kateThe Oscars are one of the most prestigious awards for people who work both on screen and behind the camera.

We all have our favourite actors, actresses and celebrities, but do we know the people who make it all happen. The producers, the directors, the sound recordists, the camera operators, the stunt men and women, the interpreters, the lighting directors, the writers……. etc. Unfortunately, for many of us the answer is no.
The Oscar’s aren’t really my cup of tea as I’m not that keen on fashion, neither listening to the stars thanking their parents, husbands, wives and children for their patience and support. Not to mention the crying and boo hoo hoo-ing; why do they all blubber so much?

If I were in their shoes, I would be jumping for joy, shouting: ‘I am a WINNER – GIVE ME THE STATUE’.

So, imagine you are the best; you are brilliant and you have just won an Oscar. What would you write in your acceptance speech?

Do you need inspiration? Ok, no problem, check out what Forrest Whittaker said when he won Best Actor in a Leading Role for The King of Scotland. Click here.

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