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 :-)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Scent Competition

A twitter buddy has launched a very cool competition.  If you're  a Trek and/or a fragrance fan this one's for you.

I for one am unimpressed by the official Star Trek fragrances.  @MovieGrrl thinks we can do much better.
Click here - http://yearofperfume.blogspot.com/2010/03/star-trek-colognes-and-what-they-should.html or here -  http://moviegrrl.livejournal.com/458718.html  to send her your fragrance design for a character from the Star Trek universe.  On Twitter she is @MovieGrrl.

Unfortunately my entry was rather lame.  Design isn't my strong point :-(