Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wall St 2 - Money Never Sleeps

I have to put the disclaimer right here.  I'm a huge fan of the original film.  I find Gordon Gekko a delicious screen character.  I was well pleased that I had a chance to see him again.  To cut it short, I went into this film wanting to love it.

I don't think I'll ever understand the Shia love.  In interviews I find him arrogant and unlikable.  On screen I find him at best competent.  I don't dislike him on screen.  It's more a case of  'I wouldn't cross the road to see him'.  In this he's just about adequate.

This is the first time I've seen Carey Mulligan in a role.  She comes across well.  She's likable on screen.  I just couldn't understand what she saw in Lebeouf's character.  I didn't believe his character had 'slipped', I just thought he was a swine waiting to happen.  I would have thought her 'swine' sensors would have been better than that with her feelings about her father.

The star of the show, as to be expected, is Michael Douglas.  He was great.  The downplaying of the older/wiser Gekko was perfect.  The sneaks of the 'real' Gekko getting through even better.  Douglas is a great screen presence.  I think my favourite role of his has to be Gordon.  Yes, he's a total bastard but he's good to watch!

The part I felt most let down by was the ending.  It was totally against the grain of the film and felt soooo wrong.

This is in no way a great film.  However I loved it.  The shots of New York were fantastic.  For that and the Gekko I rate it 4 pawprints out of 5.  Don't go see it on my say so though.  The professionals seem to think it mediocre.  My rating is taste over substance.

Oh and within 24 hours of seeing this film I had a Carey crop.  Is that taking Oliver Stone too seriously???

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Maybe the Best Popbitch Article Ever

You can sign up to the Popbitch Newsletter here http://www.popbitch.com/home/

You must watch the video that's linked at the end! 

It's like a bad Littlest Hobo.

>> Run Joe Run <<
     TV producers must have been on acid

   After featuring 'Nam Ben in last week's
   issue one reader drew our attention to
   Run, Joe, Run which might well be the
   finest live-action television programme
   ever made.

   Influenced by the golden age of television
   where animals could play non-speaking lead
   roles and no-one would bat any eyelid
   (coincidentally, around the time that acid
   got big), Joe was a German Shepherd falsely
   accused of biting his handler and sentenced
   to death. Joe managed to escape though and
   now lives as a fugitive, with a $200
   bounty on his head.

   How Joe isn't mentioned in the same breath
   as Flipper, Skippy and Lassie, we'll never


A Lovely Design, Bodrum

Now, I haven't an artistic bone in my body.  Nothing I imagine so perfectly in my mind can ever be transferred to a more solid medium by myself.  I'm not just tone deaf, I'm art deaf.

Luckily my own lack of skills doesn't stop me appreciating the work of others.  I still enjoy to look at all elements of art.  I even enjoy looking at some that I just don't understand.

Whilst on holiday recently I came across this logo for Bodrum in Turkey.  (The modern name for Halicarnassus.)

I love this design.  It gets across just what Bodrum's about.  Encompassing the famous castle, the amphora hinting at the historical interest and the hull of a ship for a seafaring town.  I found it a pleasure to look at the logo everywhere I saw it around the town.  I wonder who designed the logo. Whoever it is I hope they're proud of it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Speed Watching

Inspired by the Speed Reading Post I though a film version would be fun too.

The point is to make an A-Z list of films you've seen.  The first one to come to mind for each letter is the one you must list. No cheating!

The rules are:
1. Go through the alphabet, and for each letter, think of a film you’ve seen that starts with that letter (A, An, and The do not count).
2. You must write down the FIRST film you think of for any given letter.
3. You must have actually SEEN the film.
4. If you think of a more impressive-sounding film for a particular letter, you CANNOT change to the more impressive-sounding film.

Let's see what genres my mind springs too...

The China Syndrome
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Enemy at the Gate
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 
Judge Dredd
King Arthur
Leon Manhattan
No Country for Old Men
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Pan's Labyrinth
The Return of the King
Sin City
The Untouchables
The Village of the Damned 
The War of the Worlds 
You Only Live Twice

I found this list much easier to compile.  mainly because a lot of films popped into my head when I was thinking of the books earlier.

Over to you Paul :-)

The Girl Who Played With Fire

I have to confess that I've given up on the written trilogy.  I was finding the beginning of this book such a slog.  I really enjoyed the first film.  More than I enjoyed the book really.  For the first time ever I decided to ditch the books for what the celluloid version has to offer.  I've realised I haven't enough time for books I'm not actually enjoying reading.

I was glad to find that the part of the book I'd found incredibly dull was absent from the film.  They obviously had to make cuts to such a large novel.  The cuts that they made to the beginning of this were spot on IMHO.

I found this film as enjoyable as I had the first.  More so as I wasn't watching for differences after the first few scenes.  I did find certain aspects of the film a little far-fetched and a tad unbelievable.  Nothing more than I've put up with many times before and probably less than I'll find in the future.  

The most interesting part of the film was the interaction of Lisbeth with other people.  She couldn't keep her distance in this film as she could in the last.  That to me was the part I enjoyed most.  Seeing her have to develop as a character due to her actions.  Learning some of her back-story was also a bonus.  Noomi Rapace is excellent in this film as she was in the last.  I think if she had dropped the ball I would have enjoyed it far less.  She dwarves the other characters.  They are just there to propel her story along.  This can't be an easy role to play given the lack of expression.

Overall I enjoyed the film but it's far from a favourite.  I want to see the final installment but I'm hardly champing at the bit. 3 out of 5 pawprints.

Speed Reading

I found this on my friend's blog http://goldfishparacetamol.blogspot.com  

The point is to make an A-Z list of books you've read.  The first one to come to mind for each letter is the one you must list. No cheating!

The rules are:
1. Go through the alphabet, and for each letter, think of a book you’ve read that starts with that letter (A, An, and The do not count).
2. You must write down the FIRST book you think of for any given letter.
3. You must have actually READ the book.
4. If you think of a more impressive-sounding book for a particular letter, you CANNOT change to the more impressive-sounding book.

I have a sense of a shamefully less than 26 list, dominated by a few authors......
The Anonymous Venetian by Donna Leon
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
An Enemy at Green Knowe by Lucy M. BostonThe Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Miss Garnet's Angel by Sally Vickers
One Step Behind by Henning Mankell
The Poet by Michael Connelly
The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
Revelation by C. J. Sansom
Sovereign by C. J. Sansom
Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
Upper Fourth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
Venice, Pure City by Pater Ackroyd
The War of the Worlds by H G Wells

I can't see me ever filling in X, Y and Z any time soon.  I, J and N are really bugging me though.  If I think of any I'll fill them in, in red.

I'd love to see other people's speedy alphabets.

I think the same thing with films would be interesting too....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cute Cupcake

I'm a little tired of the rampaging hoard of cupcakes.  Maybe I'm too traditional.  This one caught my eye today though, courtesy of the I Can Haz Chzburger email.  Peacock and cake?  Well it must have been baked for me. Could I bring myself to eat such a work of culinary art though?

cute food photos - Alien? Peacock? Clever Disguise?
see more EpiCute

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lufthansa Game - Virtual Pilot

Stephen Fry tweeted about this game this morning.

It really is fun, especially if you enjoy to travel in Europe.

My name on there is Mekster.  Though I shouldn't have told you that as now you'll know how awful my geography is :-S

I do have to warn you though.  It's far too addictive to be helpful in the workplace ;-)

Virtual Pilot 2 seems kinda fun.  But it's a little too slow moving for my liking.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thanks For the Donations

I completed the Race for Life on Sunday.  I was amazed to beat my 'Personal Best' by over 6 minutes.  I came in on 30 minutes 59 seconds.  A near miracle for me!

Best of all I managed to collect sponsorship of £355 With the added bonus of Gift Aid for UK taxpayers the total donated to Cancer Research will be £439.62  To all those sponsored me and spurred me on with their good wishes I am extremely grateful.  You all helped make it worthwhile.  I expected to struggle to reach £150 in sponsorship.  People's generosity was amazing.

I need to give a give a mention to the 'Get Running (Couch to 5K)' app which started me on my journey. http://splendid-things.co.uk/getrunning/ Starting from not having run since forced to at school was daunting.  This app helped get me going.

I started off my training on the treadmill and moved onto the roads when I'd gained a little running fitness.  I don't think you'll get me back on a treadmill unless the weather demands it.  It's so much more free and refreshing running outside.

Thanks to Mum and Dad for spurring me on on the day.  The biggest thanks of all have to go to my husband Dave.  He's given me nothing but support from the day I started.  Handing out advice, nudging me on when I got all pathetic and whined.  Helped plan my routes and ran with me on my training runs whilst ignoring the fact that I was sometimes less than charming whilst struggling.  I couldn't have done it without him.  To have him there as I crossed the finish line meant the world.

Well , next year I'm hoping to double my distance.  Don't worry though I won't be boring you all throughout that training ;-)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Plea for Sponsorship.

I have signed up to do the local Race for Life.  It is a 5k, women only run to race money for the Cancer Research Charity.  http://www.raceforlife.org/

If anyone would like to sponsor Cancer Research through me please do so via the widget below.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Ghost

I haven't read the book, The Ghost Writer, which this film is based on.  I disagree with someone making a film/writing a book that is based, or points towards real people and/or events and filling in the blanks as their imagination/political leanings see fit.  All fiction or all fact makes me rest easier.  It makes pop stars spewing politics a little more bearable.

The fact that the film was directed by Polanski gave me a push to see it.  All of his films that I've seen I've been impressed by with the exception on Ninth Gate.  I'm still  irritated by that one.  Also sitting in the cinema for 2 hours is much less work than a full novel.  I wanted to see how Pierce Brosnan was getting along post-Bond.  As well as seeing Kim Cattrall in  a more serious role.

Brosnan was excellent as Adam Lang.  He oozed charisma on the screen.  You could easily believe this man was once a well liked Prime Minister.  Although I didn't like the fact he seemed to have added bits of 'Blair' to his role I have to admit they enhanced it.  I don't remember seeing Olivia Williams, who plays Adam's wife Ruth, before.  She was great.  A perfect strong woman whose career has been virtually washed away by her husband's massive success.  You really feel for the woman who has been dragged through the mill by her husband's success and even more so by his spectacular fall.  I was pleasantly surprised by Kim Cattrall's performance.  It was nice to see her playing outside her Samantha Jones role.

I have to say I think the film fell down to its central actor.  At first I couldn't get past MacGregor's horrendous accent.  Why couldn't he play the role in his own accent.  Why distract the audience with such an awful attempt at another one.  At the end of the day though I just never believed in what Ewan was trying to put across on screen.  He was definitely not the man to hang this film upon.  He just doesn't have the chops.

Of all the Polanski films I've seen this one rates joint bottom.  It just lacked the cleverness and atmosphere of his others.  A shame really because the support cast were pretty good.

2.5 pawprints out of 5

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Snoop's Ode to Sookie Stackhouse

This is one for the True Blood fans out there.  I had no idea Snoop Dogg was one of us :-)

Moviegrrl's interview with Dario Poloni, the writer of Black Death

Click on the link below for the first part of Moviegrrl's interview with the writer of Black Death.

There's more to come so make sure you bookmark it and come back for the rest.



The Importamce of Being Earnest, Library Theatre

The final play showing at Manchester's Library Theatre is The Importance of Being Earnest.  Probably my favourite play of all time.  There was no way I was going to miss the production.

I'm sure this play can never be a complete disappointment.  Wilde's script is wonderful, a work of comic genius.  Despite its age it is still as hilarious today.

Lady Bracknell is one of my favourite characters to grace the stage.  Her cutting remarks never lose anything no matter how many times I see them performed.  In this production Lady Bracknell was played by a man,  Russell Dixon.  He was definitely the best actor in the production.  I have not seen a man play this part before.  I have to say I don't think it was necessary.  It added another level of ridiculousness to the play.  Which it did not need.

I found the weak point of the play to be the casting.  The actor playing Algernon just didn't cut it for me.  He looked as if he was acting the part.  His actions too pronounced for me to believe he truly was the louche and decadent young aristocrat he was playing.  The actors playing Miss Prism, Jack and Chasuble were all perfectly fine.  Not much more can be said.  Leigh Symonds, playing the role of two different man-servants was perfect.  His acting, mainly facial expression got his thoughts across excellently.  A shame his part was so small.  The parts of Gwendoline and Cecily didn't fit quite right with me.  The actress playing Gwendoline was over-pronouncing her words in a very unnatural manner.  They didn't flow for me.  Cecily looked the part but wasn't dainty enough for me.  Her actions were a little masculine.  Which is rich coming from a clumping Tomboy like myself, though I would never cast myself as Cecily.

The costumes were not very attractive.  They were dull and sometimes ugly.  I would have preferred much prettier, noticeable dresses on Cecily and Gwendoline.

All in all I enjoyed the play.  It must be virtually impossible not to.  3.5 pawprints out of 5.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Black Death (no spoilers)

I had heard very little about this film.  It seems to have fallen well below most people's radar.  It was brought to my attention on Twitter by @Moviegrrl . I'm glad she did give it a mention.  I'd have hated to have missed it.  I'm assuming its time of release won't have done it any favours.  Most British eyes seem to be on the World Cup right now.

Unsurprisingly this film is set during the first outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in England.  Sean Bean plays a Bishop's envoy despatched to find and return with a heretic who is supposedly protecting their village from infection.  The period detail in the film is great.  As is the sense of of atmosphere it gives.  The use of diegetic sound was central to creating the atmosphere and was wonderful throughout.  As were scenes set on a marsh with the use of the mist present.  This was a spooky setting.

The cast wasn't well known to me.  I had heard that this is the film that will relaunch Sean Bean's career.  He was good in this but was playing a part we have seen him play before.  There was nothing new to his range here.  Good casting but unless a few more people actually see this film it won't be a launchpad for anything.  Which is a shame because I enjoyed it.  Carice van Houten was great in her role.  I don't think I've finished a film in with her before.  Despite everyone else loving Black Book it just wasn't for me.  She had a great presence in this film.  Managing to play a strong woman in Medieval England convincingly.  Not an easy task I would imagine.  I can't remember seeing Eddie Redmayne in anything else before.  I thought he carried himself well in this.  He was good if not standout great.  The majority of his role must have difficult as he plays neither a meek sort nor a confident brute as do most of the rest of the male cast.  Tim McInnerny did well.  Upon his arrival on screen I smirked.  This was a period piece.  The sight and sound off him just made me think of his Blackadder roles.  His performance got me past that and believing in his character.  Not an easy job as he is firmly Captain Darling in my mind.  Emun Elliott didn't let the side down.  This is the second role I've seen him in.  In both the majority of his lines were spoken whilst glaring through his fringe.  I want to see him stretch himself a bit.

The film is horrifyingly brutal in parts.  Probably no more brutal than the scenes shown would have been at such a time but not exactly a pleasant watch.  I don't think as some have said that this brutality was unnecessary.  The subject matter seems to call for such behaviour.  This is discussing the church and heretics in medieval times.

The film is decribed as a medieval thriller.  A pretty apt description.  I loved the sense of spookiness I felt throughout the film.  It seems yet another way of discussing religion as so many things do these days.  It wasn't allowed to get in the way of telling a good story though.

4 out of 5 pawprints.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sex and the City 2 (Spoilers throughout)

Let me start by saying I'm a huge fan of the television series.  I'm the girl that's seen all the episodes at least twice, read the book, was desperate to see the first film.

The book was ok but it didn't match the tv series it spawned.  To me the tv series was clever, amusing and fun for women to watch.  It looked fabulous, made great use of fashion and even better use of New York. It seems a lot of that was lost in the first film.  I enjoyed the film in the cinema but on reflection it dropped very far down the scale.  I was pleased to see the four characters again but kinda wished they'd left it at the tv series.  The film lost the cleverness of the tv show and became a lot more 'chick flick'.  Still, it was worth the ticket price.

I hate to say that the 2nd film followed the downward curve.  There were some parts I enjoyed.  Mostly because it brought SaTC back for a couple of hours.  Hearing Carrie's voice-overs made me smile.  After that it was pretty hollow.

It had the fashion.  As with all fashion there were some wonders and also some disasters.  If Carrie wants to shop the souk in a ballgown great.  Just don't pretend that it would look as great upon her return.

This was watching characters I was fond of being dumped in a Chick Flick.  I'm not a lover of chick flicks.  Maybe it explored a little further than the usual chick flick.  But never with any depth.  This was a shiny film looking at serious points and looking away rather than take them on.

The script was predictable to say the least.  My biggest problem was the constant shoving in my face of 'sisterhood'.  They didn't give us enough to believe in any of these characters.  Therefore the sisterhood felt fake and forced.  The more it was brought up, the sicker I felt.

If you're going to tackle issues such as female oppression do it seriously.  Oppressed women wear this season's collection under their burkas, squeee!  Give me a break.  This is a sugar-coated insult to serious issues.

Another issue done to death was Samantha's ageing.  This was handled so much better in the tv series.  If I never see another yam it will be too soon.

Please Mr Star.  The point of this seemed to be that Carrie couldn't go back to who she was in the tv show and finally realised she didn't want to any more.  Well. I've realised that we can't get back the quality of the tv show and I want you to stop trying.

I had an enjoyable evening but this was due to the company rather than the film.  

2.5 out of 5 pawprints.  That's generosity of someone who's grateful that she's got her box-set.  A box-set which is about to get another watch.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Imagine if all retailers started selling condoms...

Imagine if all retailers started making their own condoms and kept their own tag-line.

Tesco Condoms, Every Little helps.

Nike Condoms, Just Do It.

Peugeot Condoms, The Ride Of Your Life.

KFC Condoms, Finger Licking Good.

Duracell Condoms, Just Keep Going & Going & Going.

Pringles Condoms, Once You Pop You Can't Stop.

Burger King Condoms, Home Of The Whopper.

Andrex Condoms, Soft Strong & Very Long.

Mcdonald's Condoms, I'm Loving it.

Polo Condoms, The One With The Hole.. OH FCUK!

I got this in an email today.  It made me smile, hope it does the same for you :-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

BritFilm - Four Lions (Spoilers hidden)

I deliberately avoided as much information on this film as I could before seeing it.  Knowing that there was a comedy about suicide bombers, by master of controversy Chris Morris was all I knew.  It certainly sounded like a very dodgy subject.  I decided to avoid the fuss made and go see it with an open mind.

From the moment it starts off you can see it is firmly a comedy.  Not a film with dark humour or situations that lend a sense of amusement.  This is a full on comedy.  The recent film it reminded me of most was In the Loop.  Even though the humour was mainly from different sources.  The main character, Omar was reminiscent of Malcom Tucker in that he's confident that he's right and the imbeciles around him are just complicating things.

As a comedy it is very, very funny.  I haven't laughed that much since I saw In the Loop.  Apparently a film that shares a couple of writers with Four Lions.  The jokes and amusing, ridiculous situations flow thick and fast.  I'm sure I missed a few things on the first watch.  It's rare I actually laugh out loud in the cinema as I find this rather irritating.  Neither I nor my fellow cinema goers could help it.  Luckily we were laughing at scenes that were actually funny.  A rarity.

I suppose the major question is - Is it right to find amusement in such a dark, nasty subject.  I'm not deep or intelligent enough to answer that question.  I can tell you that I felt at least awkward for laughing at such a film, if not actually a little shamed.  I do however think that such subjects should not be off-limits to writers.  As I've avoided as much information about this film and it's effects I'm unsure yet what, if any, real protests have been made. I haven't seen much more of Chris Morris' work.  His other controversial stuff passed me by.  I do suspect that he would enjoy the fact that his audience felt uncomfortable laughing at this film.

This film was very well written from a comedy viewpoint.  The cast did that script proud.  I think we'll see more of Riz Ahmed.  What I've seen him in he's always done well in his role.  The rest of the cast had to play mainly buffoons.  Which they did very well.  There were no roles for a vain actor in this film.

SPOILERS BELOW (rollover to view)

The one thing I found very uncomfortable in the film was the inclusion of Omar's son.  Those scenes were hard for me to watch.  The brainwashing of a child in such a manner wasn't nice to say the least.  I also found it unbelievable that he wouldn't hide his plans better from his son.  Who could easily slip-up in school, in front of an adult.

The one scene I didn't think fitted the film was the scene of Omar's brother obviously about to be tortured.  This seemed too much of a statement on government practice in this area.  The statement didn't fit with the rest of the film.


I would say to see this film before you judge it.  It is hilarious but yes it's also dubious subject matter.

I won't even try and consider how I would feel about this film if I had lost someone in a suicide bombing.  I imagine I may not be able to see the funny side.  It's release would probably make me very angry.  It's this that makes me a little shamed that I found it so funny.

3.5 pawprints out of 5

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BritFilm - The Disappearance of Alice Creed (no spoilers)

I knew virtually nothing of this film.  I knew it was about a kidnap and starred Eddie Marsan and Gemma Arterton.  The deal maker was Eddie Marsan.  He is always great.  I also wanted to see Gemma Arterton in a non-fantasy role.  Supporting a British film is always a bonus too.  Which is never easy as British fare seems to disappear from our cinemas pretty bloody quickly.

The film starts out pretty damn quietly.  There is virtually no dialogue in the first scenes.  These scenes portray two guys setting up to carry out a kidnapping.  Giving particular attention to soundproofing and the prevention of any forensic evidence being found.  They mean business, are extremely well prepared and have obviously been planning this for a while.

Once the kidnap has occurred the film takes a very dark turn.  It doesn't pull any punches and depicts what must be done to protect the kidnappers, keep their victim secure and their identities secret.  Some of these scenes are difficult to watch especially if you're a woman.

This film doesn't have your standard heist-type storyline.  It has the odd twist and turn to add intrigue to the drama.  It's a very tense film, not exactly a pleasant watch but a must-see.  I was satisfied by the ending too.  I'm not telling you any more of the plot.  Go see this film in your cinema, if not rent the DVD.

What really makes this film is the calibre of the cast.  Eddie Marsan is his usual fantastic self.  I've always liked Arterton in interviews and was worried she may drop the ball in this role.  My worries were totally unfounded.  She was excellent.  I completely believed her terror.  The humiliation and subjugation of her character must have been immmensely difficult to film.  If I were to award a best actress award this year, I'm pretty sure it would go to her.  I don't think the markings from her bindings were make-up.  I think that girl suffered in the making of this film.  The big surprise for me was Martin Compston.  An actor whose films I want to see more of.  I'd never heard of him before this film.  To me he quietly stole the show.  His was the character who grew more and more as the film went on.  His performance was perfect.

4.5 pawprints out of 5.

Turn off your computer and go see it now!

Iron Man 2 - Solid or a flop? (spoiler free)

I wasn't over-excited to see this film.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, a fun film with lots of bangs and flashes.  I wasn't sure I wanted to see it all again. I seem to prefer origin movies to their sequels.  I think filmmakers dump all the character exposition into the origin film.  Filling the second with another enemy to provide bigger and better explosions.

I have never been a comic book fan so I'll judge this film as a film that's a sequel to a film.  I know of nothing before the first film.

The cast doesn't bring any worries.  Sam Worthington is nowhere to be seen thank the Lord.  Robert Downey Jr did a sterling job in the first and I expected similar here.  I really didn't like his character in this film.  I think this was the desired effect though.  He'd lost any charm he had and was just a smug, arrogant git.  Not great really as disliking the main character lost me most of my emotional involvement with the film.  Sam Rockwell gave a great showing in his role.  Totally and utterly predictable but that was only to be expected with such a character in such a film.  Gwyneth Paltrow gave a pretty good performance.  I just have little respect for her character.  She should just tell her boss to piss off and go work somewhere less stressful.  She gets a lot less than she puts into that relationship.  A bit sappy really.  Don Cheadle's character is very similar.  I couldn't see what Tony Stark had to make those close to him so emasculated and a tad pathetic.  Mickey Rourke was great as his character.  One of the best roles in the film.  I didn't like the way the story panned out near the end but that wasn't Rourke's fault at all.  Scarlett Johanssen played my favourite role in the film.  I don't think I understand her character properly yet.  I'm hoping we see more of her.  She definitely played the least obvious character in the whole film.  Samuel L Jackson was used perfectly.  Just enough to make him interesting.  Little enough not to make us want more.

Overall I thought the story was a little too obvious in places.  Most of the characters were paint by numbers types.  Tony Stark needs to be a little more likable if they make another.  He just needed a slap in this one.  I found him completely unsympathetic, even with what he was suffering.  The scene on the Monaco circuit was just totally ridiculous.  Yes, I know I was watching a comic story but it just felt ridiculous.  As did the usual against all odds climactic final scene.

It was enjoyable though.  It was fun.  It would have been much more fun had it been 40 minutes shorter.  Please filmmakers contain yourselves when it comes to running time.  It shouldn't be a relief to get out of the cinema.  A shorter run time would maybe have me watching this again.  Maybe we could get 'cinema-goers cut' editions of films.  Trimmed down so they're better paced.

Marvel, it's a lovely idea to get a teaser for your next release.  Just don't make me sit through 5 minutes of credits for 10 seconds, it's arrogant and bloody annoying.  please just put them on Youtube.

3 out of 5 pawprints.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Centurion - Marshall's Period Piece.

I was pretty excited about this film.  Neil Marshall is one my favourite directors and Michael Fassbender on of my favourite actors.

I liked the way the opening credits were done.  Broad sweeping words on matching vistas.  Giving you a great vision of how harsh the terrain the film would take place on actually is.

After the first scene though things started to go downhill for me.  Dominic West playing Dominic West with a bucketful of bluster thrown in really didn't do it for me.  Neither did the Cockney accents of his Roman soldiers, a la Saruman's Urak Hai.  One of my pet peeves in period films is the use of modern accents to tell us someone's personality/character.  I don't need to view everything in it's correct language and enunciation.  I just don't want strong modern accents thrown in.

I'm afraid this film made me think Neil Marshall should stick to modern day set films.  Many will probably disagree.  To me this film gained nothing from it's period setting.  It was too modern day laddish.  I can't really explain what I mean here as I'm sure the Romans were laddish too.  This just felt a little too Guy Ritchie for the 2nd Century.  This was what ultimately took me out of the film.

The cast were mostly very good.  Fassbender I suspect would be good in Crossroads if he was cast.  David Morrissey played yet another blinder.  Solid dependable co-star who doesn't need to chew up the scenery.  As was Liam Cunningham.  Olga Kurylenko played her part very well.  That she was mute definitely added to her character.  If looks could kill though, she'd leave a trail of death with her eyes only.  I felt Dominic West overplayed his boisterous, 'I'm one of you my soldiers' role.  Brian Blessed type acting that doesn't suit him.  he just looks false.  Noel Clarke seemed to play his usual streetwise lad about London.  Again that didn't fit the setting for me. Axelle Carolyn will be one I'll keep an eye out for in the future.  The camera loves her and she held her own in her scenes.

Towards the end the film was a little predictable in places.  But nothing I'll lose sleep over.  I really wanted to enjoy this film.  It was the first time I've felt a little let down by Marshall.  Maybe I'm being a little harsh, I just didn't enjoy this film like I did his others. At least he had the sense to keep it short.  None of this trendy 2 hours+ I keep having to suffer with other filmamkers.  I'm hoping he returns to modern day or at least recent history with his next project.  He's still one of my favourites, he just has a slight blot on his record.

2.5 pawprints out of 5

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Matt Smith's Dream Guest Star on Doctor Who

I recently found a new podcast courtesy of the @BlogtorWho Twitter feed, Meet the Filmmaker.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/meet-the-filmmaker/id301899522  It's a series of interviews recorded at Apple stores.  The one I'd downloaded was Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Stephen Moffat in New York.  An appearance before the first episode of the new series aired in the US.

They were asked about the array of excellence on the show in the guest stars this season.  Far too many good British actors to mention.  The bit that got me squealing was Matt Smith describing his dream guest star -

"If I could pick anyone, I don't know if you guys will know him, but I would pick... He was a footballer and he's French and he's called Eric Cantona."  

I knew Matt Smith was a nice guy.  I just didn't know what fabulous taste he had in dream guest stars.  Mr Moffat if you make this happen I will die happy, no more than happy.  Too ecstatic for the limitations of language.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Surreal World of Pickle Shopping

Being back on calorie limiting lifestyle, I'm not the merriest of folk right now.  There are silver linings to every cloud though.

Whilst hunting around for low-calorie snacks I've nearly emptied my pickle jar.  So off it was to add some pickles to my online shopping basket.  A fridge is not complete without a jar of good quality pickled onions.  Good quality pickled onions, unfortunately, are getting harder and harder to find.  I like them large and I like them in spicy vinegar.  Not those pathetic soggy Silverskin imposters.  My current favourites are Sainsbury's in Hot & Spicy Vinegar.  Very tasty, with plenty of crunch.

As I wasn't shopping at Sainsbury's I was in uncharted waters.  I decided to have a browse and pick whatever looked tastiest.  First thing I came across was......

Is it April 1st I asked myself, no.  Could this be a leftover from April Fools' Day that hasn't been removed.  Oh no, they have their own website, http://www.pickleodeon.co.uk/  They were swiftly added to my basket!  Along with some Waitrose Spiced Pickled Onions and Balsamic Onions.  Now when these arrive I will update and review these preserved root vegetables.

Getting back to Barry.  I have always had the utmost respect for the man.  He is my favourite reviewer of films.  His autobiography was very entertaining and well, he comes across as an all 'round decent guy.  http://www.pickleodeon.co.uk/ claims that these onion are Hot & Spicy and Crunchy.  If these claims are true I will be on Cloud 9 (ramming my pickle fork into a jar).

He states that he never intended to sell these pickles but was convinced by a friend wowed by their quality.  Well just look at that jar above.  I have never seen a cooler jar.  The clapperboard on the label, referenced on the lid also.  Calling your website 'Pickleodeon'.  Doesn't it just give you a little grin?  I just hope I haven't hyped up these pickles too much for me to enjoy them at their fullest....  Those peppercorns peeping out of the bottom of the jar give me confidence though :-)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

This is the Re, re, re, remake - Clash of the Titans (Spoilers throughout)

This review will contain spoilers throughout

I'll be upfront about this I will compare this to the 1981 version.  I adore the 1981 film so I may not have started out in an unbiased state.  I know the 1981 film isn't great but it's a childhood fave and has all the charm I need.

The cast list for this film is pretty good.  Plenty of great actors.  Most of the cast did a pretty good job.  It's just that they didn't have a great script to work with.  The exception in the cast was no surprise to me.  The charisma vacuum that is Sam Worthington.  He really should stick to playing someone the director doesn't want me to empathise with.  I cannot understand why he keeps getting leading roles.  Perseus has a number 2 cut.  Everyone else has long hair, why?  Perseus speaks in an Aussie accent?  That's just plain wrong. Sam would be wise not to share a screen with an actor of Postlethwaite's calibre again

I know that when they remake a film/film a book/etc they will change the story somewhat.  This I rarely like but if it makes sense fair enough, needs must.  The original film didn't stick to the original legends.  What they failed in this film was to portray the Gods and their everyday effect on the human race.  We saw them destruct, we didn't see them add anything.  They were one note performances, if that.  They brought Danny Huston in to play Poseidon, blink and you miss him. Dr Bashir (as Mr Siddig will forever be known) didn't get more than one line.  Without an understanding of the Gods and their overseeing/meddling with the human race this story is empty.

You bring Ralph Fiennes in?  Great, he's got some pretty fine acting chops.  So he'll play Hades, the baddy.  He's been banished from Olympus.  He appears and disappears in a puff of smoke.  Has a human do his dirty work.  Speaks in a whisper, admit it his second name is Voldemort.  For heaven's sake it was embarrassing.

The Clash of the Titans, Titans seemingly being Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Alien.  Now I know films in the fantasy genre often use similar apects.  If a film has carved it's place you may not even notice it, if it feels in place it doesn't bother you.  Here it grated on me to the point of distraction.  During their journey I was looking for a Hobbit.  When they tamed a monster scorpion and saddled it I wanted to scream Oliphant.  Nothing rang true.

I think the writer or director was trying to make a point somewhere along the line.  I'm not sure what that point was though.  It just felt like I was being hammered with something.  When Calibas gasped to Perseus 'don't become like them' as he was slain it was sooooooooo out of place.  Calibas supposedly hated Perseus.  Why would he care if he took his place on Olympus.  Did the writer want to tell me something with Perseus' hatred of the Gods?  They changed the story so that Hades killed his mother.  

Why did we need a love interest other than Andromeda?  Io would have made a good addition had she been watching over Perseus rather than getting him into the sack.  Was the lone, very human Perseus at the end supposed to tell me something?

Now my final point is the cardinal sin in this remake.  One of the best parts of the original was Athena's mechanical owl Bubo.  Yes I can hear you all screaming that it was a crappy R2 copy but I love it.  When Perseus picked it up (what looked like the original prop) I was happy, for a split-second.  When he was told to leave it I was gutted but assumed he had it in his back pack.  He didn't.  How dare the writers dis' a part of the original whilst they were busy relieving themselves all over it's memory.

I had my childhood raped and was forced to sit and watch it on the big screen.  It's only bonus was that it was relatively short in today's terms.

1 out of 5 pawprints.

Kick Ass (no spoilers)

First of last night's double bill was Kick Ass.  I hadn't got into the hype and had little idea of what it was about.  The Daily Fail hated it which always makes me interested but also makes me think it won't be anywhere near as bad as they tell their readers it is.  That it involved Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman was a bonus.  I really enjoyed Stardust.  Seeing Mark Strong on a poster cinched it.

I was surprised when the film began.  I'd assumed that it was set in Britain.  No, I didn't read the comics!  Never mind it's always good to see the Chrysler Building on screen.  It starts off with witty dialogue and the film pretty much carries on with it throughout.  I did enjoy the film and laughed quite a lot.

Nicholas Cage was perfect in his role.  He's never been a favourite of mine but he was great.  How he kept a straight face throughout is beyond me.  The teenagers in the film didn't really stretch it a lot.  They were all characters we've seen a million times before.  They played it well, but no-one apart from the lead really had a huge amount to do.  The lead was a likeable, if out of his depth, kinda guy.  I didn't tire of him.  The stand out in the cast had to be the 13yr old Chloe Moretz.  Looking at her IMDB page it seems she's no stranger to acting.  She's pretty damn good at it too.  I would expect precocious in that role not the confidence she had.  Mark Strong was ok but it was a stereotypical baddie and didn't really give him a chance to show us what he could do.

If I had a complaint about the film it was the length.  It was way too long.  Half an hour less would have made it a hilarious, snappy film.  The run time dragged it out and let it down for me.

3.5 pawprints out of 5

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tony Manero - A review (no spoilers)

This is one of those films that I'd heard plenty of whispers of but still new little of what it was about.  The title makes it pretty obvious where someone's getting their inspiration from.

I've seen it described as a film about a serial killer obsessed with the Saturday Night Fever character set in Chile under Pinochet's dictatorship.  That's pretty accurate.  What surprised me was the age of the central character.  I expected him to be Manero's age, not in what I think is his fifties.  The central character has no redeeming qualities.  He's still watchable because he says the bare minimum he sees necessary.  A lot less than others would deem necessary.  To 'see' what he's about you have to watch his face.  This keeps you sucked into the character.  It's rare I can watch such an unlikable character through a whole film.  There's hardly any screen time without him.

I have to praise the actor for portraying such a character.  He's definitely a psychopath.  All his actions are self serving and some scenes are upsetting.  The only understanding I had for the character was that he would do anythign he could get away with to further his desires.  Some scenes are toe-curlingly embarrassing.  Seeing a man of that age, idolising a character in a film to that extent is bad enough.  Seeing him dressed up and dancing as Manero is hideous, especially if he gets it wrong.  The actor must have had a bucket by the door to keep his pride in.

I would have liked to have seen more of life in Chile under Pinochet's rule.  To be fair though the film wasn't about that and there was plenty in there for the plot.  This is definitley not a crowd pleasing film.  It's not at all an easy watch.  A lot of it is uncomfortable and there's some that is upsetting to say the least.  I;m glad I;ve seen it but I doubt I will see it again.  It was a good idea for Film4 to show Saturday Night Fever straight afterwards.  Although that film is darker than most give it credit for, it's a damn sight lighter than this!

3.5 pawprints out of 5.

Wino's Wine Tasting, Spring 2010

Thursday night was spent in the traditional Maundy Thursday style.  We went to the Wino's tasting at the White Hart Lydgate.

It's always a good night.  Made much more relaxed by the bank holiday the day after.  As we drank our introductory glass we had a look through which suppliers were there and what they were offering for tasting.  As usual our friend was interested in the Spanish tables and I was eager to get to Italy's offerings.  With some French thrown in and a couple of Ports on offer.  We had a nice trip planned around the Old World :-)  We bought our tasting tokens and headed into the tastebud tour....

First off we went for a pink Prosecco (Cantina Beato Bartolomeo, £8.95).  Nice and light and a pleasant way to start the evening.  Not my favourite prosecco but one I wouldn't kick outta my glass.Whilst at the table it seemed a shame to ignore the Montepulciano (Olivastri Tommaso, &12.95).  This was absolutely gorgeous.  Everything you'd expect in a Montepulciano but deeper and richer.  Apparently it's the produce of a single vineyard, aged longer than is typical and is given a little extra care throughout.  This is one I'll definitely be buying in the future.  

From now on the wines may not be in the exact order I tasted them in.  I didn't take notes, just marked my enjoyment levels on my sheet.  I won't bore you with the wines that didn't tickle my fancy.  Just the one's that I liked or brought me something new.  I tried a Pinot Noir on the recommendation of a friend.  (Rossendale NZ, £8.95)  This gave me a very different sensation than I expected.  It was a nice light colour.  Light in taste, choc-full of raspberry flavour.  With a light but persistent fizzing sensation on my tongue.  It reminded me of a wine I'd drunk on a lovely sunny afternoon on Burano.  Which was definitely a good thing :-)  This is a wine I'd drink in the summer. lightly chilled.  It will get me out of the rut of French light reds.

I quite like Port but no virtually nothing about it.  Luckily there were two to try.  I only tried one as it was getting late in the night and once my tastings are in double figures I try and slow down.  I tried the older option. (Niepoort Tawny Dee, &11.95).  It was gorgeous, very mellow.  Warm in a much gentler way than Brandy or Calvados.  If I'm going to invest in a bottle of port this will be the one.

As well as wines and spirits you also have different foods to taste.  The tapas was fantastic a step above what I've had before and it's always been good.  My favourite looked like a miniature spring roll but was much nicer, Filled with a huge prawn and seasoned with chilli.  The Goats Cheese and Chorizo croquettes are something I'm already missing too.  There are also oysters available.  I can't stand oysters.  My mum says they taste like the sea, they do.  I don't like the taste of the sea.  Various cheeses are available, many locally sourced.  This table is always a joy.  We had a bonus this time of a local cheese-maker having another table selling his wares.  I bought my first 5yr old cheese.  I am thrilled by this but also a little frightened.  Peeling off that wax will be fun!  The hotel the tasting is hosted in makes it own sausages. The Lamb & Mint were gorgeous, I went back a couple of times just to make sure.

I've saved the best table for last.  This was Emiliano's table from Vinchio Vaglio, Italy.  His wines were all from the Piedmont region.  A region blessed with some of my favourite reds.  The skiing alright too.  The first I tried went straight into my favourites. (Barbera Tres Vescovi, £8.95).  Apparently the name translates as Three Bishops.  It had incredible depth for a Barbera but in taste rather than it being heavy.  It had a lovely deep colour, nice and fruity with just enough oak.  So the oak gave it character without taking over.  This is the wine pictured at the top of the page.  For the price it's immense value in my eyes.  I can foresee some stocking up coming on.  Next I moved 'up' the table to a Barbaresco (£15.95).  Emiliano explaining to me that Barbaresca is the 'little brother' of Barolo.  A wine that is made in the same way, from the same grapes but not aged as long.  This one had a lovely clear brick colour and was a nice wine.  Not one I'd like to spend that much on per bottle though.  Last wine to taste on this bottle was a Barolo (£18.95).  I was dying to get to this as Barolo is my favourite wine. This was a little darker than the Barbresco and has more depth and flavour.  It was nice but overall I was disappointed.  I've had much nicer one's in the past.  I have to say of the three, the Barbera was by far my favourite, it knocked my socks off.  On the table there was also a Grappa to try.  I had a small try of Dave's.  It was, well Grappa. A nice example but not a drink I can ever see myself enjoying.  It's just too harsh, 'fire water' is an apt name.  There were also some liquer chocolates made from the same Grappa.  They were very tasty!  Definitely a smoother way of enjoying the stuff.

All in all it was a great night.  Good food, excellent wine and nice company.  Roll on the next one.

Wino's can be found in the centre of Oldham.  63 George St, OL1 1LX  I highly recommend it.  Friendly, knowledgeable staff who have helped me with my wine choice over a large number of years.

The White Hart is in Lydgate, outside of Oldham.  http://www.thewhitehart.co.uk/  It is a fabulous place, wonderful pub with a large selection of ales and wines.  Glorious food in it's brasserie and restaurant.  Lovely hotel rooms and they hold fantastic weddings.  This I can definitely confirm, it where we got married :-)