High Concept

My friend Tim is spending the evening home alone tonight as his wife is out and so he’s decided to watch a film, specifically the sort of film that his wife won’t normally let him watch.  Searching through the Virgin on-demand service he discovered a made-for-TV movie by the name of  “Hammer of Gods” and immediately decided this was the film for him, despite the fact that:

(a) It stars no-one you’ve ever heard of.
(b) It’s directed by a guy whose only previous work is “Copperhead”, another TV movie about cowboys being attacked by snakes.
(c) It’s got a rating 3.5/10 on IMBD.

So, why has he decided to watch it?  Simple, because the tagline is “Vikings vs. Werewolves”.  As the man himself said, “All they’d need to do would be to add in some ninjas and it would be the best film ever!”.

So this got me thinking, is there a film concept that would intrigue you so much that you’d pay to see it even if even everyone else in the world told you it was absolute crap?  The most recent example I can think of was when I got a DVD from Lovefilm because it was a horror film where the killer was a Mexican wrestler  called “Wrestlemaniac”.  It was truly awful.

Published in: on 22/07/2009 at 1:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Harry Potter: 2 to go

Spoiler free as far as I can think………

 

So, anyone else seen HP aTHBP yet?

I’ve been meaning to write a proper review but time is not my friend.  So here come the bullet points:

Good:

  • Alan Rickman = Snape.  Best casting ever?
  • Good sense of brooding menace.
  • Funny.  Much more so than the others IIRC.
  • Emotional – again, more so than the previous films and perhaps, the books.
  • Acting.  Maybe I’m just getting old and soft but Ron in particular seemed a lot lot better.  Tom Riddle was excellent and I thought Malfoy did well given quite a tough part.

Bad

  • Lacking action.  Blame this on the book but….
  • Fumbled the finale.  Hard to go into without spoilers but this was an obvious set-piece for me – where did it go?  I thought the same about a few set pieces from the book but what was strange was they introduced other action themselves which worked well.  I’d love to know more about their thinking.
  • The word “Tosser”.  I’m no Daily Mail reader but it just seemed really jarring.  I suppose the idea was to show they are normal kids but one word (used twice) in 6 films seems a bit token!
  • It’s only setting up the next one….

Now I know that’s a cheap criticism given I’ve read the books but it really struck me as an interesting reaction.  I think on some level I gave the book some credit/leeway as setting up the Deathly Hallows but it bothered me as a film.  

I guess this could be a difference between my expectation for books and films but then there are plenty of “Empire Strikes Back” examples to counter that argument.  I think it’s more about pacing.  As the penultimate story it was fine… but its not the penultimate film and for some reason that made it irritating. 

So all in all a solid 3/5 from me.  I’m looking forward to the last one, just wish there were not two of them!

As usual, maybe I’m over-analysing – anyone else seen it?

Published in: on 21/07/2009 at 9:36 pm  Comments (2)  

Game Naming Fail

Now I’m the Faction leader, so what name would I give to my favourite Grandson?  That’s right, Arses:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2681571&l=458517471c&id=619635123

Supposedly it’s a random name, but I can’t help thinking the computer is mocking me.

Published in: on 21/07/2009 at 12:15 am  Comments (2)  
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The Spicy Affair, Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon

On Saturday night myself and 5 friends (including 3 fellow WWRS reviewers who will no doubt give their own verdict) went to The Spicy Affair, a new Indian restaurant in Cherry Orchard Road, East Croydon.  I’d heard mostly good things about it so was looking forward to comparing it with it’s extensive competition. 

Initial signs were good.  It was very nicely decorated and there was plenty of room around each table so you didn’t feel like you were being crammed into as small an area as possible to increase the restauant’s capacity.  They also had Cobra on tap rather than in bottles, which is always good, and the menu was extensive to say the least.  Most importantly of all, the clientele consisted almost entirely of Indian people rather than boozed up English louts, confirming the claims on their promotional material that they are “maintaining traditional, authentic experience with modern contemporary cuisine” rather than just pampering to the English market.

Unfortunately, I have a confession to make.  You see, while I like to think my tastes have matured in the last few years and I now appreciate the merits of paying that bit extra for quality dining, it seems that when it comes to Indian food I am still an Englsh pleb.  Almost everytime I go out for a curry and decide to order something “unusual” I immediately regret it and wish I’d had an onion bhaji and a chicken korma.  This Saturday was no exception.  I started with some deep fried paneer which had a nice dressing of some kind but the cheese itself was rubbery and tasteless.  I then tried a “Chicken Handi” which turned out to be far hotter than I’m used to and, either as a result of the excess heat or my unrefined pallette, didn’t really tatse that great either.  To top it all off the pulau rice had peas and carrots randomly added to it and the naan bread was thin, greasy and crispy.

So all in all I wasn’t impressed with the food.  However, the service was excellent, the staff were extremely nice and the prices were very reasonable, especially for the beer which was £3 a pint compared to the £6 a bottle you can pay in some places.  If there were other people who were going and I got invited along then I think I would probably give it another chance on the basis that I might just have been unlucky with my food choices, but it certainly won’t be replacing Zafran as my local Indian of choice.

Published in: on 20/07/2009 at 10:20 pm  Comments (4)  
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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

There were 2 main reasons why I wanted to add “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” to my Lovefilm list.  Firstly, I kept reading how it was a return to form for Woody Allen and realised that, despite him directing 43 films, I had only ever seen one of them which was the interesting, but not great, “Match Point”.  The second reason I wanted to see it was Scarlett Johansson who, let’s face it, is gorgeous.  I’m not surpised Woody Allen described her as “sexually overwhelming”.  Anyway, put it on my list I did and last week it turned up in time for me to watch it on my night off from exercising.

The film centers around two young women, Vicky (English actress Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett), who spend a summer in Barcelona whilst at college.  One night they encounter the mysterious painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) who, being the unashamed and rather direct Spaniard he is, asks them to fly to a small countryside town with him for the weekend so that they can eat good food, drink good wine and then have a threesome.  Vicky, who is engaged and somehat prim and proper, is appalled at his suggestion, whilst Cristina, who thinks of herself as a free spirit (and fancies the pants off Juan Antonio) reckons it’s a great idea.  Somehow Vicky is persuaded to tag along so off they all go.  There they get into all sorts of romantic entaglements, not least when Juan Antonio’s craxy ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) turns up.

First things first, Scarlett is, as hoped, extremely attractive in this film.  However, she’s also the least interesting thing in it.  I’m not saying she is bad actress, maybe it’s just that her character isn’t as complicated or intriguing as the others, but the others just blow her out of the water.  Rebecca Hall is completely convincing as the confused and conflicted Vicky and you can really feel what she’s going through all the way through the film.  But it’s the two Spaniards who really steal the show with a couple of incredible performances and amazing chemistry, possibly the result of having already made several films together. Credit must go to Woody Allen too for making both the country and their way of life incredibly appealing and, having never been to Spain, I’m certainly adding it to my list of holiday destinations.  My only real criticism is that the story is a little bit predictable in parts and the conclusion not completely satisfying, but it’s still very enjoyable and certainly more fun that “Match Point” was.

4 out of 5

Published in: on 20/07/2009 at 9:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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Diary Of A Dead XBox Owner * (Updated)

(* It’s the XBox that is dead, not the owner!)

Sunday 12th July – Today at midday my XBox died.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.  Spent a few hours on the internet trying to work out if I could fix it myself but then gave in and sent off e-mail to Microsoft support.  Watched 2 DVDs and played Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 on the PC for the rest of the day to keep myself occupied.  My roller coasters also broke. Typical.

Monday 13th July – Got reply back from Microsoft while I was at work but decided to wait until I got home to read it as I’m not supposed to check web e-mail in the office.  Spent extra long in the gym after work as no need to rush home. Tried to use the shoulder press machine but the seat broke when I sat on it.  *Sigh*  Went home and read e-mail from Microsoft and discovered I needed a printer to print out a label, so decided I would have to do it work after all.  Played more Roller Coaster Tycoon.

Tuesday 14th July – Got into work early and went onto the Xbox website to sort out the repair before other people got in and started asking questions.  Discovered that the website is blocked by my company’s web filter.  Arse.  Decided to do some work instead but then had power cut which meant my computer didn’t work for the rest of the day even though everyone else in the office seemed to be okay.  I’m starting to wonder if I’ve enraged some gypsy women or something.  Back at home I managed to complete the Xbox registration and log my repair request, at which point I discovered that the thing I needed to print would be e-mailed me to, so I could have done that on the Monday night after all.  Ho hum.  Went to football, scored 2 goals (both in the right goal) and didn’t break anything.

Wednesday 15th July – Got into work and thankfully the UPS website isn’t blocked so I printed out my UPS label.  Discovered that Sam still had the box they sent his Xbox back in so went round after work and pinched that.  When I got home I packaged everything up and then watched “Vicky Christina Barcelona”.  The only thing that broke was my heart when I realised Scarlett Johansen will never go out with me.  Damn that Ryan Reynolds!

Thursday 16th July – Took my packaged XBox to the UPS depot this morning to drop it off.  Turns out that it was the wrong depot thanks to some dodgy directions from their website.  Finally found the right one, the guy behind the desk took one look at me as I walked in and said “XBox?” So much for Microsoft’s cunning plan of ensuring it remains unrecognisable during transit.  Still, it’s on its way now.  Went to the gym after work again, burnt off another 1000 calories on the cardio machines and then worked the guns.  Went home and watched “Redbelt” which was excellent, thinking about signing up for Jui Jitsu lessons.

Friday 17th July – Turns out it wasn’t on its way after all.  Checked UPS tracking site this morning and it didn’t leave Crawley until 7.45pm last night, 11 hours after I dropped it off.  An hour and a half later it arrived in Barking.  My geography isn’t great, but isn’t that in the opposite direction to Frankfurt?  It then left Barking at 7.26am this morning and is due to arrive in Frankfurt on, wait for it….  Monday!!  I could go out right now and pinch a bike from the bike sheds and I’d be in Frankfurt before then!!!  Rubbish.  Never mind, I had a very good night at The Glamorgan celebrating Mik’s pre-Stag Do Do.

Saturday 18th July – My head felt a little broken this morning but not enough to stop me from heading off to the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park to see “The Importance Of Being Earnest”.  It was a very good day, with upside down squirrels and rather spicy curries and nothing at all broken.  Result.

Sunday 19th July – Checked the UPS website this morning and they said that my XBox had been delivered to Frankfurt yesterday, 2 days ahead of schedule.  Excellent!  Went onto the Microsoft site and got really excited for a brief moment until I realised that where it said “Your XBox has been fixed and shipped back to you” was just an explanation of the different stages of the process and not the status of mine.  In fact they were still saying that mine hadn’t arrived yet so I’m not sure where UPS have delivered it to.  Decided to play on my PC for a bit only to discover that my DVD ROM drive had, you guessed it, broken!  What is going on in my flat?!?  So I decided to take the opportunity to have a bit of a clean and tidy up and even put up a mirror which I’ve had sitting around for 6 months.  Went round to my Dad’s for lunch and then watched “Get Smart” with Sam and Georgie in the afternoon, which was really nice.  On a tip-off from Sam I sent a text to Colin to see if he had a spare DVD drive lying about which I could buy but sadly he said he hadn’t.  However, later on that day he contacted me again to say that he’d been round to his Dad’s in the afternoon and learnt that he was throwing out his old computer which had a fully functioning DVD re-writer that I could have.  Woo hoo!  Picked it up on my way home and then spent an hour trying to fit it due to a series of mishaps.  First of all the screw holding the old one in sheared off so I couldn’t take it out, so instead I decided to put the new one in a different slot.  Then it turned out that as well as the plastic shielding there was a metal plate across each slot which I had to poke out and for some bizarre reason they had been screwed to the frame in such a way that you couldn’t get to the screws without taking apart the whole case!  Eventually I got there, put it all back together, turned it on and realised I had plugged the old one back in.  D’oh!  At about 10.30pm I finally got there and it seems to be working fine, huzzah.  I wonder what treats the next week will hold.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Published in: on 17/07/2009 at 10:49 am  Comments (7)  
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Sleeping with the Enemies

I, like many of  our circle have been eagerly awaiting the latest film, Public Enemies from Michael Mann. Admittedly, I can’t say I was all that fascinated with the story of thirties gangster John Dillinger and the early Investigation Bureau’s (they weren’t Federal yet apparently!) attempts to catch him. However the promise of Johnny Depp and Christian Bale going toe to toe as the protaganist and his pursuer, and Mann’s back catalogue which includes one of my favourite films (Collateral), piqued my interest and so Bob was duly nagged into coming to see it with me.

 Depp, as usual, lights up the screen as the charming, arrogant, thrill-seeker Dillinger.  Perhaps my favourite scene in the movie is where he calmly and almost disinterestedly wanders into the police station and passes the time of day with the cops on the task force hunting him down.  He loves the adrenaline and notoriety that his crimes gives him, and it is this taste of the highlife and his desire to have everything that leads to his downfall.  I am a little unsure why he appears to be wearing eye-liner throughout the film however – maybe he still hasn’t been able to get it all off after Captain Jack?! Marion Cotillard is luminous as Dillinger’s love interest Billie Frechette. Throughout the film, you can almost see one side of her brain trying to talk some sense into the other half as she knows that her relationship with Dillinger can only end one way, but at the same time, she is unable to break away from the excitement that he offers her. Their relationship is well portrayed and the two actors have great chemistry. The cops and “G-men” however, fare less well. For the second time this summer, Christian Bale has to deal with a character that doesn’t seem to have had enough time or attention put into them. It could be argued that this is deliberate as it is undoubtedly supposed to be Depp’s film, or because in reality Melvyn Purves was indeed an unassuming, understated man and the absolute antithesis of Dillinger. Both of these are perfectly acceptable reasons, they just don’t make for particularly riveting viewing. The other agents are anonymous, difficult to engage with, and worryingly crap at their jobs. It’s also hard to keep track of all the mobsters and the net effect is that the only people you really know anything about, or sympathise with are Dillinger and Billie – again perhaps deliberate but rather manipulative in my opinion if that is the case.

In recreating the era, Mann has done a great job. The costumes, cars and settings all look fabulous. It may seem like an odd thing to say, but the sound was also great, really picking out the unfamiliar and distinctive rattle of the tommy guns and giving an authentic feel to the gun fights. That said, the action set-pieces are actually not that thrilling, and are quite static. Probably why Bob managed to fall asleep at the cinema for the first time in his life! I felt we were left with a film where the whole was sadly less than the sum of its parts. There was none of the cat and mouse chase of Heat, or the suspense and thrilling action scenes of Collateral. Probably a bit more difficult to achieve, given that you are trying to portray real people and events, but still frankly a bit disappointing considering the calibre of those involved. 2.5 / 5

Posted by Michelle

Published in: on 16/07/2009 at 9:34 pm  Comments (1)  

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

On Sunday afternoon I watched “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” hoping it would be a nice, comforting film to sooth the pain of my XBox having died a couple of hours earlier.  It proved to be just that, a cheery film with some very likeable characters, some good fun moments and a romantic, but not cheesey, love story.  The basic premise is that Nick (Michael Cera), playing pretty much the same character he’s done in every film, has just split up with his sexy but shallow girlfriend and is attempting to get over it by making dozens of compilation CDs for her.  When his friends show up and tell him that his favourite band are playing a late night gig at a mystery location the three of them set off in search of clues to its whereabouts.  Meanwhile Norah (Kat Dennings) and her best friend Caroline (Ari Graynor), who are school friends of Nick’s ex-girlfriend, also hear about the gig and decide to try and locate it.  What follows is a night of coincidental meetings, misinterpreted kidnappings and a LOT of driving around New York in the dark. 

Like I said earlier, it’s a nice, fun film and Kat Dennings and Ari Gaynor are particularly good in it.  At times Michael Cera seems a bit one dimensional but then he’ll suddenly deliver a  line or make a subtle gesture in a way that really made me crack up.  There’s also some great supporting performances, especially from Nick’s gay bandmates who managed to avoid most of the cliches that “queer best friend” characters normally get saddled with.  As always some of the actors/actresses are clearly much older than the characters they are playing , but it doesn’t really get in the way of the story and it might explain why a load of people who are supposed to still be in High School manage to drink in so many bars in a country where the age limit is 21. 

All in all, it’s definitely worth a watch but probably not the sort of thing I would buy to watch over and over again.  3.5 out of 5

Si

P.S. If you do get it on DVD, watch the “Puppet Show” extra, it’s great.  😀

Published in: on 15/07/2009 at 11:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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1 vs 100

ok so it’s still technically games-based but it is at least based on a TV show.  I’m going to see Harry Potter this weekend so maybe I’ll branch out into film then.

Anyway, has anyone else played 1 vs 100 yet?  I logged on for about an hour and friday and thought it was really fun.  I’m always up for trivia but the promise of real prizes does add a certain je m’appelle beouf.  Also, I’m sure it will lose it’s dazzle factor pretty quickly but the idea you are all (I think around 60,000 of us) hooked into the same live game was pretty cool.  I’ve seen the future and it’s geeky.

It would be good to get a few of us playing together though – nothing like a bit of friendly competition.

Any thoughts?

Published in: on 13/07/2009 at 10:16 pm  Comments (5)  
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8 Bit Pwny Club

I may not be able to play any games but at least I can watch silly cartoons about them:

http://www.weebls-stuff.com/toons/8+Bit+Pwny+Club+ep.1/

Published in: on 12/07/2009 at 4:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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