OK, OK I’ve been slacking recently I admit it, having not posted anything for a whole four days I’m afraid it’s time for some more trailer trash filler. In my defence work is pretty darn hectic at the moment, after two programme launches out of the way you’d think things would get easier but instead things seem to be getting worse – c’est la vie. So I’ve spent all weekend de-stressing by blasting apart, knifing and immolating digital avatars courtesy of this which is exceedingly addictive, I had planned on going to see Byzantium but when push came to shove I just couldn’t quite muster up the enthusiasm given the tepid reviews, nor could I find my muse to construct a report on last weeks BFI visit – I shall probably got into that this evening. In the meantime lets take a look at some imminent and upcoming movies which seem to be getting some attention, firstly the small matter of Robert Rodriguez’s new atrocity;
So let’s see, Sofía Vergara, Demián Bichir, Amber Heard, Antonio Banderas, Zoe Saldana, Edward James Olmos, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alexa Vega, William Sadler, Lady Gaga, Marko Zaror, Tom Savini, Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson – that’s what I call a cast. I’ve already heard accusations of ‘stunt-casting’ which I suppose can’t really be rejected, I just hope it’s more fun and inventive than the original Machete which was a major disappointment, but Rodriguiz is actually directing this one instead of palming it off to his second unit guy so we shall see. The film is due in August in the States, with Sin City 2 (featuring Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Powers Boothe, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis, Eva (hubbah) Green, Josh Brolin, Jamie Chung, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Haysbert, Julia Garner, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, and Crystal McCahill) following in early October – a banner year for Rodriguez fanboys. Shifting genre gears then what’s this;
This is generating some mild controversy due to author Orson Scott Card’s rather repellent views, there’s quite a strange strain of bigoted stupidity among some American SF authors of the Space Opera variety, as the likes of Robert Heinlein and Harlan Elison have also spewed some craven misogynist, sexist, homophobic and racist nonsense in their time. I haven’t read the widely beloved book and I think this looks throughly mediocre, the presence of numerous US brats running about being moody n’stuff fills me with an intergalactic sense of dread, not to mention shades of The Phantom Menace (shudders)….
Hmm, my comic book patience is wearing increasingly thin and the first Wolverine movie was bloody terrible, but I guess you never know and this might have a few refreshing set-piece scraps if nothing else. I like Jackman in the titular role, he inhabits the comic creation very effectively, and I do admire how that trailer doesn’t give away whomever the main villain(s) might be, unless I’m spectacularly failing to spot blatantly obvious cues and characters from the comic book continuum which is entirely feasible. It can’t possibly be any worse than this;
I’ve been reading some quite amusing threads recently about Mr. Night, a man with the name a 15-year-old Goth kid might think is cool to change by deed poll, but a fully functioning adult really should know better. After his increasingly waning career which has plummeted to the vortex inducing depths of The Happening, Lady In The Water and The Last Airbender I cackled with delight when reading that Will Smith’s character in this alleged Scientology manifesto movie is called (drum-roll) Cypher Raige - you have got to be fucking kidding, right? I’ve been skim reading reviews after opening weekend and the film has pretty much been crucified, this kinda sums it all up, so I think I’ll give this one a miss as after this news and this revelation I have a LA bound plane to catch and some weapons to deploy….
Through, erm, suspicious means I happened to catch this back in November, and as kids orientated material goes I have to say I was throughly entertained;
The animation is dazzling, the in-jokes for us who grew up with 2-bit gaming through to todays canyons of digital carnage will enjoy the numerous in-jokes and references, and it has a decent enough story with solid voice performances from John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman – blockily recommended. I must share with you this excerpt from this months Sight & Sound review of the movie – ‘the proletarian Ralph’s questioning of his exclusion from a bourgeois apartment building (after three decades of committed service) reflects the social immobility and polarisation of these straightened economic times….’ – so that’s a post screening conversation starter with the kids over ice cream huh? I wonder what that critic would make of the imperialist rhetoric of War Bus Commando?
Late November. Can’t believe it’s almost Christmas again. I dunno, I suppose it’s getting older but time does seem to accelerate as the years roll by. Then again, my dad’s been saying much the same thing, that he feels that time seems to pass more swiftly than it did ten, twenty years ago. Modern life eh? (tsk…) One thing that I enjoy about Christmas is the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with my favourite Christmas movies – yes, including the obvious – so what are your festive flicks?
Here is a nice series of articles in the New York Times where they get a actor or director to sit down and provide a running commentary of a ‘classic’ film. I haven’t read them all yet but have naturally gravitated to the two Kubrick efforts, particularly enjoying the story of Barry Sonnenfield ending all his studio memos with a quote from ‘Strangelove’. Inspired. I think I’ll do likewise with my work e-mail correspondence, I’ll be on the streets in ten minutes….
This has been doing the rounds, and I think it’s hilarious. Compare and contrast the most popular search requests punched in here versus those entered in Conservapedia, the right-wing, republican version of the on-line encyclopaedia who don’t like the mean, liberal, vegetarian, terrorist supporting moderators on wikipedia. Perhaps you’d expect some queries into right-wing foreign policy? Or fiscal responsibility? Maybe even some consideration of the separation of church and state, and the role that religion plays in the contemporary world? Not quite. The results are quite revealing ain’t they? They seem to be thinking about this subject. A lot. I don’t think you have to be a psychiatrist to draw your own conclusions from that one….
For the movie clip (or rather promo clip as all ‘proper’ clips have been taken down), I’ve opted for ‘28 Weeks Later‘ due to a quite amusing coincidence. Regular readers may recall I caught this movie when I was out in LA before I’d started my new assignment at Tower Hamlets. I watched the movie on DVD over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see the exterior of the building that I work in used for some location shots early in the movie, and more to the point it was satisfying to see the whole place torched at the 2.08 mark, blink and you’ll miss it. Toasty!! Always nice to see London get fucked up….
EDIT – OK, who’s trying to freak me out? The actress who played Robert Carlyle’s daughter was sat opposite me on the District line this morning (23rd November). Luckily she (and her Mum, or agent) got off at Hammersmith, if she’d followed me onto Blackwall there might have been a scene….
As it’s approaching frigid winter I’ve finally upgraded my mac and am preparing to join some friends in the MMORG of Eve. This has only been available for mac from this month (and I refuse to let a game dictate my Mac v. PC preference) but now it’s on both platforms I have no excuse. After the excesses of Christmas, January and February are usually quiet for me and I can think of no better way of passing the time than re-living my youth playing games such as Elite, except this time a slightly more advanced version! I played World of Warcraft for a few months between assignments last year which I enjoyed, Eve seems a little more adult with less teenagers spamming the discussion and talk boards, endless grinding and all that associated nonsense. Finally, here is some food for thought.
After becoming annoyed with myself over recent months at not properly exploiting my free time and just sitting around the house I was determined to make the most of the final bank holiday weekend of the year – I think it’s fair to say mission accomplished.
Friday night and after a couple of beers in Victoria I legged it over to a friend’s for an evening of serious gaming – one of the most eagerly awaited games ever made has finally arrived in Europe – Bioshock. To put this in perspective, my mate’s PC has a graphic card which costs just under a grand – it’s a beast of a machine and the ideal environment to experience the state of the art graphics in the game. Gameplay wise I was impressed – it follows the usual FPS model but each encounter feels genuinely dangerous and threatening. Most intriguing is the back story and world, apparently inspired by the philosophical discourse of Ayn Rand, set on a undersea utopia that has collapsed into ruin and degredation – somewhat different from the hordes of aliens/mutants/cyborgs you have to kill on the space station/mining colony/secret military base that is the norm for this genre.
After leisurely making my way back to Richmond I took it easy on Saturday (pacing myself you see, must be getting wise in my old age) and took in a few movies including ‘Knocked Up‘ and ‘Planet Terror‘ via the magic of the internet. The recent BBC strand of British Film Forever finally delivered an episode actually worth watching, concentrating on the UK’s contribution to the SF, Fantasy and Horror genres. This series has been absolutely awful up until now – when they’re not actively showing you the end of the movies they are examining, they also have some faux ‘matey’ voiceover which sounds like it’s escaped from the pages of ‘Loaded’ magazine. After the crime genre episode where they concentrated on films like ‘The Krays’ at the expense of genuine classics such as ‘Performance’ I’ve been hesitant to waste my time watching these, but I persisted and this weekend’s threw up some genuine oddities that I shall take a gander at. Alex Cox delivers some spirited criticism of the whole British Film Forever season here.
On the Sunday I strolled down to Brighton for a one off ‘Stick it On‘ event. With the likes of DJ Derek and Kid Carpet (who’s kind of a solo Half Man Half Biscuit for the 21st century) on the agenda it was sure to be something different. Great fun, nice eclectic mix of music, a fun crowd, nice food and reasonably priced booze – what more does a growing boy need?
After a late start on the Monday and a fast train back to London I waded through a few more movies which takes this weekend’s count to a Ozu, Dreyer, Bertolucci and a Fellini. A mixed bag, ‘The Dreamers’ was good if only for the eye candy of Eva Scott but the best was ‘Tokyo Story’ which is genuinely moving and heartfelt. It also includes the fantastic Setsuko Hara in the cast who is an actress I’ve noticed more and more in a series of immediate post war Japanese films that I’ve caught over the past year. As always she’s fantastic in this and is highly recommended if only because we share the same birthday, give or take fifty years….
EDIT – Just found this, which will only be up for a week so make sure you copy or download it now – and RIP Tony Wilson…
One of the most interesting elements of Japanese society is of course the fascination with technology and gaming that permeates the society. Wandering the streets of Tokyo, you can spy the teenagers with their i-pods and phones festooned with charms, bracelets, bangles and stickers proving that their hardware is as much a fashion statement as their sunglasses, jackets, t-shirts, trainers and other apparel.
Then of course, there’s the arcades - The multi-floored, hallucinatory electronic playgrounds. I was surprised to see a number of old games like Gradius (that bought back amusing memories of rain swept holidays spent in the arcades of Skegness or Hunstanton !!) and Out-Run nestling up to the more recent House of the Dead IV , a game that probably swallowed more of my yen than all the bars I frequented during the fortnight. The fourth photo is the entrance to a seventh floor shinjuku web cafe – quite a change from the hastily cobbled together operations I’ve seen in London and LA. You won’t be surprised to hear that much of the evening time was spent skipping from bar to arcade, and these evenings form the fondest memories I have of the holiday. Hey, I did visit a number of temples and museums as well, I’m not a complete weirdo….even if one of them was the Japanese Sword Musem…
It was of course a complete coincidence that the holiday coincided with the Tokyo Games Show, and I was in no way interested in seeing the (then) new Wii in action, or have the opportunity to give the Playstation 3 a test drive. This is all a bit yesterdays papers now, but what I found more interesting was some of the other facets of Japanese gaming and entertainment culture – particularity from the Otaku perspective.
This was the scene around a stand at the show where a prominent anime voice artist, or seiyu was being interviewed. My puny photos probably won’t do it justice, but there were literally thousands of fans congregating around a small stage which reminded me of the scenes at the red carpet in Leicester Square during a prominent star laden premiere except a) this was more popular and b) this was for someone who voices cartoons.
Here are some photos from Japanese TV, keen culture vultures will recognise Takashi Fujii who made an appearance in ‘Lost in Translation‘ – I was surprised as I assumed he was an invention of the scriptwriter – he seems to be the Japanese version of Chris Evans or Graham Norton – just another example of my life blurring at the intersection between movies and the ‘real’ world.
Some general photos of everyday Toyko to finish on. So where next is the question? I’ve got a strange urge to see Russia for some reason, must be subliminal from all the recent espionage and media coverage. Knowing my luck, they’d see I am a Government Consultant on my passport and whisk me off to some hellish gulag. I think I’ll wait until next year when things have died down….
I’ve found a trailer which will make you shake you head in disbelief, it does feature the beautiful Chiaki Kuriyama whom is memorable from both ‘Battle Royale’ and ‘Kill Bill Volume 1′, and err, that’s it – this is nothing more than a shameless post about a cute Japanese actress. Sue me.
Before I post my round up of movies for 2006 (and I know you are all quivering with anticipation) here is some madness I have been accruing over the past few days.
La Jetee – I’m on the record as disliking ‘Twelve Monkeys’, but not because it’s inferior to Chris Markers original story, but because it’s a badly edited, badly acted over directed mess – anyway here is the source material for your consideration. See if you can spot the only shot that isn’t a still.
When you’re out polling Lucifer, the lord of lies, at 25 to 1 then don’t you think it might be time to think about what you’re doing?
Some more Spidey 3 footage here, I should save this for my soon to be published 2007 films post but I’m sharing them here because I love you.
Caught playing games at work? Calmly explain to your foolish boss that you are actually developing your time management resource allocation and interpersonnel skills with this little presentation.
Not a weblink as such, but as part of my job I have to go and inspect Marc Bolan’s shrine this weekend. No, this is not a joke, nor a euphemism (and I don’t have to do it over the weekend but it’s only a few minutes walk away and I don’t have much else planned so…) but one of the more unusual requests I’ve received in this job. A resident of glorious Barnes called me and explained she was looking to buy a property in the area but she was somewhat distressed to see this ‘eyesore‘ violating the local ambience – therefore yours truly has to go and have a look and see what the condition of the shrine is. I could just get a minion to do it but it is vaguely interesting – I may pass her number on to the Marc Bolan Appreciation Society and they can discuss the ‘eyesore’ with her…..
Well, that’s that over for another year then. Bit of a non-event for me this year, my brother went to his girlfriends for Christmas Day so there was just three of us for dinner and everything, and we only opened our presents (towels, socks, aftershave, Mark IV Tac-Nuke Launcher etc.) yesterday so the whole affair was a bit of a non-starter – especially as I was back in work today.
The highlight present-wise was probably this which I’m looking forward to firing up shortly. The prospect of battling Galactus pushes all my nerd buttons – Excelsior!! In other news I also located the absolute best on-line insult during my browsing over the past few days so friends and foes beware - I am stockpiling material for the new year already.
In terms of films, I’ve had to resort to my personal collection and on-line membership as once again TV has come up with exactly zero films worth watching that haven’t been on before. I got through:
- A couple of Isabelle Huppert films, Loulou and La Separation, the first film fairly pointless and unengaging and the second a competently acted and directed middle class drama,
- A Minor Threat live DVD which was hysterical – 22 track gigs fly by in 30 minutes by these east coast noise pioneers, and the stage diving is simply jaw-dropping (it gets going at 01:21)
- King Kong – the second remake – actually a bit of a chore to sit through a second time, still quite sad at the end though (aaaahhhhh….)
- The Wind That Shakes The Barley – superb, quintessential Loach – perhaps not one for your Daily Mail reading Gran given it’s pro-republican tendencies although in seriousness it’s not that straightforward – to divulge anymore would lead to severe spoilers.
- The Proposition – one of the films of the year and certainly one of the best Australian movies ever made.
Right, I’m off to save the multiverse from the nefarious plots of Dr. Doom – wish me luck.
My X-Box arrived this morning – so I suspect this could be the last post in a while !! I just hope it’s as easy as a PS to get up and running, my ancient brain has no time for these new-fangled G3 console instruction manuals. I also got Gears of War purely on the strength of it’s ubiquitously positive reviews, and some gameplay extracts on YouTube.
In response to a friends recent experience at work – getting sent home because he was not dressed appropriately despite popping into the office en route to Rome on business – I present you with Despair – the excellent home of the management consultant Demotivators® crew – some of the podcasts are hilarious, and apparently they’ve been going since 2001 so any Gervais ‘Office’ comparisons or criticisms are redundant.
Saw MirrorMask last night, which was essentially Neil Gaiman by the numbers – slightly rebelious yet intelligent teenage protagonist? Check. Literary bizzaro world environment? Check. Irritiating sidekick who functions as writers mouthpiece to explain his dreadfully clever alternate world’s internal mechanism? Check. Still, I shouldn’t be to harsh – McKean’s visuals were impressive and it calmly passed an hour and a half, even if you’re left with the feeling that it occupies the middle ground between a Dr. Who end of season special and a modestly priced independent film.
EDIT – Robert Altman has died – shame. He’s far from my top list of directors, but he has made some great films – more later….
Addictive? You bet. Why is it that even with never ending, multi-faceted neverending MMORGS out on the market (whose sole purpose is to suck out your limited hours on the planet) I can’t tear myself away from simple games like this? 18.27 seconds is my record, for the record.
This is quite funny. Just don’t read it after a hearty lunch.
And here’s my bid to totally destroy Scally’s weekend.