After all, it's just a ride….

Gaming

The Hobbit – The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014)

batt1At last, the great battle of our age arrives upon our shores – the critics versus Peter Jackson’s studio mandated drive to expand a charming icon of children’s literature into nine hours of computer mandated mayhem. Having recently consumed the enhanced Blu-Ray of The Desolation Of Smaug I’m sorry to say that my opinion of the second film in this bloated trilogy has shifted from mild antipathy to outright hostility, with the introduction of redundant characters and set-pieces making me scream as effectively as any twisted Mordor torture merchant. The fact that it has taken me five days to see this film given my legendary love of all things Tolkien (I read LOTR again this year for probably the dozenth time in my life and I’ve reached Manuscript VIII of the associated Christopher Tolkien collection) speaks volumes I think, yet I’ll admit there was still a pleasant pang of anticipation as I attended the local multiplex this afternoon for one final journey – those swift and deep running waters of my adoration of the people and events of Middle Earth run deep as the falls of Rauros. I’ve been tempted to cleave this piece into a purist and pedestrian version, but given my exasperated sense of disappointment with this final installation of the sextet I cannot muster the strength of will to offer you anything but something of fan-boy rant, so with all my critical neutrality abandoned I must seek your star-kissed blessing – if you seek an impartial opinion of the films merits or lack thereof then you’d best cast your gaze elsewhere.

batt4When we last left Bilbo (Martin Freeman playing Martin Freeman), the resourceful and hardy gentlemen of the Shire co-opted into a diminutive adventuring career by the manipulative crone Gandalf The Grey (Ian McKellan playing Gandalf The White) events were hotting up as the great Fire-drake Smaug was speeding to the waterlogged hamlet of Dale to wreck his terrible vengeance. The thirteen dwarves led by the imperious Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage who tries his best with some flat and uninspired writing) have secured the ancient stronghold of Erebor from the wyrm whose vacation becomes permanent in the opening set-piece of the film, a seismic shift in the geopolitical balance of Middle Earth where the various races of the sundered realm now hungrily seek the gold in them there stone hewn hills. The elven lord Thranduil (Lee Pace) desires the return of an ancient heirloom of his people from the legendary treasure haul, while the newly elected lord of Laketown Bard (Luke Evans) seeks financial restitution for his hungry and homeless people. To complicate events an ancient power has awakened and has ordered his minions to march upon the lands as a strategic move in his charcoal tinged return to terrible power, setting the stage for an epic showdown that will echo throughout the ages.

battle2Like Thorin’s poorly explained and redundantly resolved gold sickness Jackson is now fully a slave to his digital whims, inserting events and influence at the expense of the genuine magic and wonder which flickered into life in the original trilogy – now doesn’t that sound familiar? It might be obvious but the spectre of Lucas and his unchallenged interference casts a familiar shadow over this series, as no-one seems to have had the courage to challenge Jackson or his fellow screenwriters Phillipa Boyens and Fran Walsh that their additions are flatulent and frail, and ultimately drag this series into the dark pits of mediocrity. There isn’t a jot of emotion or nuance in the film sneaking around the pixellated pyrotechnics, very little of magic of the Teleri going to the shores or the majestic battle at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm or even the soaring last march of the Ents which distinguished LOTR with some genuine moments of awe and wonder. Maybe its just cynical ole me but I simply don’t care about Bard and his tedious children, I don’t care about Alfred the weasel and his ‘hilarious’ sneering (who gets far too much screen time in this picture with precisely zero effect or narrative resolution), but worst of all is the fledgling romance between Kili and Tauriel, an entirely invented notion which is embarrassing in the extreme. Now as I’ve said before I have no problems on paper with indoctrinating some lurve dimensions to presumably woo a wider audience demographic as they did with Arwen and Aragorn in LOTR, in the original trilogy this actually wielded a deeper dimension to the hidden  ancestor of submerged Númenor whom is a something of cypher in the books, but the weeping and lamenting in this movie is intolerably bad, and cleaves the emphasis into grotesquely bad film territory. There is zero evidence of the genuinely moving and sacred romance of Beren and Lúthien – proof that in that classical, mythological sense Tolkien could conjure up some vivid emotions beyond the fantasy trappings – while the ninja acrobatics of Legolas and his set pieces eliminate any sense of threat as he tediously dispatches another legion of opponents with all the intangibility of his CGI foes.

thorinThere are some pleasing moments however which I’ll explore more fully in the SPOILER section below, an early peak is the White Council’s sojourn to free Gandalf from the clutches of the dark power lurking in the caverns of Dol Gulder which invokes that sense of pure, unalloyed fantasy cinema onanism that the rest of movie sorely lacks. Alas that sense of momentum swiftly dissipates as we lurch back to the sodden drama of Dale and Bards reluctant refugees – the holistic pacing of the film and his hesitant shifting moves on the chessboard marks Jackson as a very poor DM. For a movie titled The Hobbit there is remarkably little of Bilbo in it, as the witness to these scene setting events of the increasing shadows of the Third Age he should be the focus of the entire trilogy, and this is where the film and trilogy as a whole fail and bring the whole bloated edifice toppling down. Truth be told I initially supported the expansion into three films as a Tolkien fanatic (and maybe this helps explain that foolish decision), I was feverishly pondering the guilty prospect of witnessing more of the legendary creatures and characters get more screen time, but I was wrong, so very very wrong as the lack of emphasis and emotion focused on the central quest renders the series as little more than an uncomfortable blockbuster uncertain of its ultimate intent, oscillating between battles and ballistics at the expense of essential emotional infrastructure.

battle3SPOILER SECTION – It would be churlish of me not to shiver in delight at some of the legendarium logistics exquisitely rendered on-screen, the scene of Galadriel, the only witness to the epic fluctuations of the First Age facing off with Sauron was certainly a powerful cinematic nerd elixir, and some of the combat sequences get the pulse pounding even as they shatter canon at the altar of amazement. The ideal of the wielders of the rings of power initially meleeing with the Nazgûl disrupts historical canon if you’ve diligently poured over the revelations of Unfinished Tales, but I confess that the wider illumination of Angmar’s history in the film and Saruman’s acrobatic animation made me grin with glee – yes I’m a penitent purist but fun can sometines be Fëanor inflected fun. Unfortunately this trust is corrupted in a distinct lack of any further connecting membrane, when the focus understandably orbits back to Erebor the emphasis remains micro rather than macro, and there is zero lip service to the original trilogy apart from one scene of Legolas being advised to go north and seek out a promising sounding ranger with a secret name. To spin all these webs may be beyond the disgusting vomit of Ungloiant even with the series ruinous run-time, and I’m certain that Jackson et al have tried but failed here, with Gandalf’s portentous proclamations of the great battle of their time failing to muster the wonder of Smaug’s humongous appearance or the Riddles Of The Dark perfection. SPOILERS END.

battle5A quick aside as I loved this of course, despite the hollow challenge of naming two of the immortal Valar landing with the feeble impact of an empty  gauntlet echoing in the distant halls of Mandos – any true Tolkien nerd demands a far deeper and crueller challenge than that. Turning our will and spirit back to the film it may be unfair as a personal aesthetic clash but I have never cared for the design or presentation of Bolg and Azog, in fact the whole introduction of them as the primary antagonist’s within the chase narratives of the first and second tier of the series was another fundamental failure, the chief symptom of the films emphasis on green screen and compositing techniques when once Jackson blended models and CGI enhancements to convincing effect. Furthermore my tolerance for Jackson’s penchant of dialing up the slow-motion portentousness in alignment with the angelic choir of Howard Shore’s lazy score had me gritting my fangs in frustration, he hasn’t grown a Shire reckoning inch as a visual or storytelling artist as he continues to fall back on the same tired tropes. It’s all so unfortunate as they nailed some moments in this second trilogy – Smaug was wonderful, Riddles In The Dark had some of the ancient magic and some of the nods and references to the wider legandarium are gleefully consumed – but the whole reduction of the dwarves to Scottish brogued comedic sidekicks (and don’t can me started on Billy Connelly’s Dain fucking headbutting steel helmed orcs to death in this bloody film) throughout this tier of films just makes me exasperated beyond the healing power of A Elbereth Gilthoniel.

arkThis film needed more Beorn to make his blink and you’ll miss it return to the tale tangible, it required more context around Dol Gulder and the wider presence of the enemy’s return (exactly why did Tauriel and the ridiculous looking CGI enhanced Legolas even travel to Angmar in roughly ten minutes of film time? It makes no sense), and as a general purist point the entire personification of Sauron is troubling – in the books it is the threat, the lurking metaphysical and indomitable force, the overwhelming ancient power whom  doesn’t translate as the pure personification of wrath and pride which they just about managed in the original trilogy in his never being directly witnessed. To be charitable some of these problems and the abbreviated, detached and soulless conclusions of the film may be fixed in the extended cut, but that doesn’t absolve Jackson and his crew from what is a deeply troubling final installment.  Unlike the LOTR series where I exited the cinema moved and dazzled by the devotion to the books this is now the third time I’ve trudged out with a metaphorical scowl of disappointment on my face, these films play as computer game cut scenes when they should be yearning for Illuvatar’s song of celebration, Jackson the Melkor of modern movie hubris who has brought this beloved franchise to its fundamental knees;


Mid-Summer Menagerie Madness….

fwwrSometimes it’s nice to feel wanted, isn’t it? Having your current client frantically fighting to retain your services beyond July after you drop the bombshell that a South London authority have made me an offer I can’t refuse? That’s the enviable position I found myself in this month, I would quite happily remain at Bucks given that I’ve finally got the programme I was hired to establish built and secured a handsome £44 million from Whitehall to take the various projects forward, but the prospect of a twelve month contract with a reduced commute equals a period of relative financial security which has stolen my affections – plus some consultancy firms I’ve been commissioning for various work packages are also sniffing at my doorstep with the possibility of branching out internationally. It’s shame as I have enjoyed my time in Aylesbury with a solid crew and learnt a great deal, given that no-one else in the country has defrayed such funding and designed programmes through the LEP’s following  the Coalitions white paper this has been quite a notch on the CV, and I was looking forward to meeting the Head of Pinewood studios who sits on the local LEP board. All this I’m sure is absolutely fascinating for you general reader but fret note there is a method to my madness, as naturally I’ve celebrated my new found popularity by spunking a severe amount of money on the audio-visual entertainment level, so let’s take a look at what the menagerie will be indulging in over the coming weeks and months;

I’ve seen this before and enjoyed it thoroughly, I’ve been tempted to go back and econnaissance the LZ as I recently read the book adaption which I picked up cheap at a local charity shop – something light for my long, now previously defunct commute.

I was a big fan of the first season given Spacey’s slithering performance and the Machiavellian intricacies of Washington politics, I hear that the second series is a re-election of similarly vaunted quality.

I’ve been oscillating with when I’d finally take down True Detective which I’m fairly sure I’ll love – a dark Southern Gothic crime odyssey being hailed as the best eight-hour noir movie of the last ten years? – although I’ve been a little hesitant and waited for the £35 quid price to drop. Still, life’s too short so fuck it, plus I’m tired of avoiding spoilers for months now so I’m willing to punt out the cash for ‘the best TV series since The Wire‘. Well, we shall see, I think I’ll marathon the lot in a single, gorge bloated sitting…..

Whilst I’ve seen and loved The Walking Dead my viewing of the decomposing dread has been patchy, I missed episodes here and there when it aired on UK terrestrial TV, and with the fourth season imminent I thought a revisit may be in order – £30 for the first three seasons is another pretty good bargain in my book. Of the dead. I do expect to be requiring psychiatric help by the end after 35 hours of apocalyptic depression, or just a few months of staring of into the distance whilst quietly weeping may be in order…

We’ve been here before, and I doubt I’ll power through all the episodes for another few years yet (I mounted a re-watch a few years ago) but Fire Walk With Me in HD and the numerous extras are enough justification to drop £50 on this little box that’s wrapped in plastic, those 90 minutes of scenes could even be charitably construed as a new Lynch movie.

Cinema fanatics wept with the joy with the news of this, no less than eighteen of Herzog’s movies upgraded to HD for the first time, all collected with the requisite extras and documentaries by the exalted BFI. There’s a few early oddities in the list which I haven’t seen yet, but more importantly it will prompt me to go back through the great man’s catalogue and partially make amends for my poor attendance at the BFI season last year.

Oh, and yeah, I’ve invested in a PS4 to watch all this on – look, I was going to upgrade the Blu-Ray player and then I thought to myself hang-on….this also looks fucking epic so why the hell not? How else am I going to entertain myself until the LFF in October? I’m not kidding, but some of the effects and animation in those next generation games had my jaw on the floor in amazement – we’ve come a long way huh……


Look To The Future….

ByzanOK, 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….


Wreck-It Ralph (2013) Trailer

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?


Flotsam & Jestsam XI

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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….

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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….

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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….

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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.


Bank Holiday Mayhem…

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.

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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.

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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?

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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…


Japan Reprise

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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.  

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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.

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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….

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 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.


Flotsam & Jetsam II

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.

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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.

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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.

Here is the story of a charming individual – Sidney Gottlieb, the CIA’s chief Dr. Evil during the 1950’s. More here, and no I haven’t seen ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ recently…

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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…..


Home Again….

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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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….