Sunday, 31 May 2009


Have I Got News For You
37x06 (28/5/09 edition; uncut repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Roland Garros 2009
Huge shocks as clay court God Rafael Nadal, never defeated at the French Open, goes out in the 23rd seed in only the fourth round. You may've seen this all over twitter.

The Wire
2x11 Bad Dreams
The penultimate episode, and this variable season is nearly done. Good to see some Omar action at last. I hear season three is widely held to be the best of the bunch, so looking forward to that one (whenever it begins).


The Great Dictator (1940)
[#31 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]

Saturday, 30 May 2009


Ashes to Ashes
2x06 Episode Six
Gene Hunt + nasty lone shark + car crusher = brilliant.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Robin Hood
3x08 The King is Dead, Long Live the King...
Another fantastic episode thanks to Toby Stephens' Prince John, who is beyond brilliant, and an epic confrontation in an abbey. The schoolboy squabbling of Robin's gang and a couple of niggling plot holes do hold the show back, but it's nothing like as weak as Primeval has been recently. That said, with Prince John leaving -- and half the cast also off at the end of this series -- things don't look that rosy.
(Yes, I'm a week behind.)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


Le Mépris Trailer
As found on the Criterion DVD (and possibly other releases, I don't know. A bit like a Hitchcock trailer, it's an entertaining work in its own right. If only they still made 'em like this.

Toy Story 3 Trailer
Brief and unrevealing, but also funny and excitement-building. Can't wait.

new review at 100 Films

Commentary! The Musical (2008)
Focuses its energy on spoofing commentary tracks, DVD extras, and the American film and TV industry in general... It’s almost all incredibly funny and it moves at a rate of knots, meaning it rewards multiple listens to pick up every gag... With its well-targeted thematically-appropriate comedy and plentiful gags, it’s pure delight for fans of DVDs

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 18 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, plus two shorts. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Friday, 29 May 2009


Boy Meets Girl
Part 4 (of 4)
A moderately satisfying conclusion.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

3x08 Episode 8
There comes a point in every episode of Primeval these days where, however hard you're trying to take it seriously, you just have to give in and either let the poor writing and ludicrous plotting wash over you or start laughing at its absurdity. I've always been quite critical of Primeval, but increasingly this batch of episodes is making me long for the good old days of the first series.
Meanwhile, this episode, Annoying Brother finally gets in some proper trouble, though disappointingly survives. On the bright side this is his final episode... though the Annoying Government Baddies are back to replace him. It's like a relay race of irritation.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]


The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
[#30 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]


David Tennant reprises role in RSC Hamlet for BBC Two
(from BBC Press Office)
Hurrah! It was an excellent production and this filmed version sounds different but equally promising.

Doctor Who unveils new companion for 11th Time Lord
(from BBC Press Office)
An interesting choice, and arguably quite brave to go with an unknown alongside a near-unknown Doctor, though I'm certain they have good reason.

Poem of the Week: Just In Case

by Charlotte Mitchell

A third and final (for now) venture into the poems offered by . This one rang very true for me. I'm sure sensible people don't do it, but I'm also sure you must know someone who does.

I'm going to the see for the weekend,
in a couple of days I'll be back,
so I'll just take my little brown suit and a blouse
and a beret and carry my mac.

But what if the house is a cold one,
the house where I'm going to stay,
no fires after April, no hot drinks at night
and the windows wide open all day?
I'd better take one -- no, two cardys
and my long tartan scarf for my head,
and my chaste new pyjamas in case they decide
to bring me my breakfast in bed.
And what about church on the Sunday?
I could wear my beret and suit,
but if it were sunny, it would be a chance
to wear my straw hat with the fruit.
I can't wear my little brown suit, though,
not with the straw with the fruit,
so I'll just take a silk dress to go with the straw
and a silk scarf to go with the suit.
I'll just take my jeans and that jumper
in case we go out in a car,
and my Guernsey in case we go out in a boat
and d'you know where my swimming things are?

D'you think I should take that black velvet
in case they've booked seats for a play?
And is it still usual to take your own towel
when you go somewhere to stay?
I had thought of just taking slippers,
but they do look disgustingly old,
I'd better take best shoes and sandals and boots
for the church and the heat and the cold.

I daren't go without my umbrella
in case I'm dressed up and it rains;
I'm bound to need socks and my wellies
for walking down long muddy lanes.

I'd rather not take my old dressing gown,
it is such a business to pack,
but 'spose they have breakfast before they get dressed
I'd have to take mine in my mac.

I'm going to the see for the weekend,
in a couple of days I'll be back,
so I'll just take my little brown suit and a blouse,
     two cardys, my long tartan scarf,
     my chaste new pyjamas,
     my straw hat with the fruit,
     my silk dress, my silk scarf,
     my jeans, that jumper,
     my Guernsey, my swimming things,
     my black velvet, my towel, my
     slippers (no one need see them)
     my sandals, my boots, my
     umbrella, my socks, my wellies,
     my dressing-gown, no, not
     my dressing-gown, OK, my
     dressing gown
and a beret and carry my mac.

This was first published in Mitchell's volume Just in Case: Poems in My Pocket in 1991, a collection connected to her radio series (also title Just in Case). She's also an actress who was involved in The Goon Show donchaknow.

Thursday, 28 May 2009


Ashes to Ashes
2x05 Episode Five
A disappointing episode, with Alex behaving ridiculously around the 14-year-old version of her future ex-husband. It must've sounded like a good idea for an episode, but sadly it's poorly handled. Hopefully the remaining three will be as good as previous episodes.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Mentalist
1x10 Red Brick and Ivy
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]


Stand By Me (1986)
[#29 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]


The Complete List Of Tired Movie Cliches by Helen O'Hara
(from the Empire Blog)
Scroll to comment #122 -- it shows why movie clichés are actually a good thing. (And I found it very funny too.)

Fry's Audiobook A Big Hit
(from WENN)
"Stephen Fry's new audiobook has become an online bestseller in just one day. The British writer and funnyman's The Dongle of Donald Trefusis was released as a download through iTunes... In a day, it shot into the top five Top Albums in iTunes' UK and New Zealand stores, and it's already currently the number one spoken word album in United States iTunes' store."
And it is, in fact, #1 across all albums on the UK store! Rather incredible. Well done Mr Fry.

Put the book back on the shelf: 13 book-to-film adaptations that the authors hated by Josh Modell, Keith Phipps, Leonard Pierce, Nathan Rabin, Scott Gordon, Scott Tobias, Tasha Robinson & Zack Handlen
(from A.V. Club)

Review of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian by Roger Ebert
I do like a good review by Ebert. And by "good" I mean well-written, because he doesn't like this at all -- and it's great.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


The Omid Djalili Show
2x06 Episode 6 [season finale]
A variable quality episode to end a variable quality series. To be honest, I think Djalili is much funnier as a stand-up than a sketch performer, though his musicals are great.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Wire
2x10 Storm Warnings
Sometimes I worry that The Wire is slipping into clichés and losing sight of its original "it's all real" outlook. Most of them would pass by just fine in any other drama, but they seem a little out of place here. On the bright side, at least the plot continues to move forward, though having wasted so many of the early episodes on next-to-nothing this season has generally struggled to reach the highs of the first.
This second season finished on BBC Two tonight, though due to a recording muck up I'll be a few days behind. I presume that, as before, there'll be a few weeks before season three comes along.


Boyle Returns To Mumbai To Reassure Child Stars
(from Studio Briefing)
The controversy over how Slumdog Millionaire treated its poor Indian children cast members rears its head again. To be blunt, I'm beginning to wonder if some of these child stars' parents are just trying to get a free ride. I mean, "It's no big deal for them, this kind of money... They should help us." My understanding is, they already have, and clearly he just wants more.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


The Wire
2x09 Stray Rounds
In which Baltimore detective Jimmy McNulty -- played by English actor Dominic West -- has to try an English accent, and is appallingly bad at it. Most amusing.

new review at 100 Films

Flash Gordon (1980)
Flash often seems to be dismissed as an unintentionally campy load of nonsense, perhaps with some ironic appeal. What this assessment misses is how knowing it is. Yes, it’s ridiculously camp, the dialogue is cheesy, the performances equally so, and it’s brighter and more colourful than any under-5s TV show ever produced. But it knows it is... The sheer volume of things there are to love in this film makes them hard to list without watching it and pointing them out as they appear...

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 16 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, plus three shorts. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Monday, 25 May 2009


The Graham Norton Show
5x11 (21/5/09 edition, uncut repeat)
Featuring Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno, which has to be seen to be believed but is utterly hilarious.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Have I Got News For You
37x05 (22/5/09 edition; uncut repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Wire
2x08 Duck and Cover
Playing catch up (episode ten is on BBC Two as this is posted). Now thankful the Beeb are taking breaks between seasons!


Two pieces of exciting Doctor Who news today...

The Doctor Joins The Sarah Jane Adventures by Cameron K McEwan
(from Den of Geek!)
"David Tennant will be starring in a two-part story due to be screened in the Autumn. Also joining the Tenth Doctor is the robotic mutt, K9... "it's more than just a cameo from the Tenth Doctor! He's a proper part of the story... the wedding of Sarah Jane will be a day for everyone to remember!""
Intriguing! I just hope it's called something like The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith to tie in with the similarly-titled stories from seasons one and two.

Doctor Who: Animated Series On The Way by Cameron K McEwan
(from Den of Geek!)
"Debuting in "Autumn," a new animated Doctor Who story, entitled Dreamland, will be hitting the small screen through the BBC's red button service and Children's BBC. There will be seven episodes comprising of approximately six minutes." Follow the link for more.

There's also the promise of "Special Project 3" from Russell T Davies -- but what will it be? Who can say...

Sunday, 24 May 2009


Robot Chicken
Robot Chicken: Star Wars [special]
Everyone knows that Family Guy did a great big George Lucas-approved Star Wars spoof (right)? What slightly fewer people know (due to it being on some obscure channel) is that Robot Chicken also did one. And they did it first. I think. Anyway, this is that.
Which was funnier? It's been so long since I saw Family Guy's (before this blog began) that I honestly wouldn't like to say, but they're notably different -- Family Guy retells A New Hope, while this contains sketches about the whole series.


Glory (1989)
[#28 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]


Yet more on Tarantino's latest today...

Early Buzz: Inglourious Basterds by Peter Sciretta
(from /film)
More review summaries? Yes, but this is a nicely concise and varied example. Stand-out comment: "well worth watching and admirably ambitious and single-minded... Inglourious Basterds will split viewers." You only need to read the article to see how much it already has.

Tarantino Heading Back into the Editing Room with Basterds by Alex Billington
"Before its premiere, the running time was one of the most talked about aspects of the film. It was listed at 2 hours 40 minutes, but it actually only played roughly 2 hours 28 minutes. Most people are instantly assuming that some of the negative criticism stems from its length and are saying that Tarantino needs to trim it down. On the contrary, though, it felt like it was missing a few key scenes...
Universal wants Tarantino to return "to the editing room post-Cannes to make some trims edits that might include adding a scene, says Tarantino." He also reminds us that the current run time is "well under his contractual final cut length of 2 hours 48 minutes.""

Saturday, 23 May 2009

DVD Extras

Transporter 3 extras
- The Making of Transporter 3
- Storyboard Comparison
- Special FX
- Set/Production Design
- Car Stunts

With a combined running time of 27 minutes, there's not a great deal here. On the other hand, some of it's so lightweight that becomes a blessing. The Making Of featurette takes up most of the time at 16 minutes, but it's very weak, often just showing some behind-the-scenes footage with no explanation.

The four featurettes all feature commentary from director Olivier Megaton and are much better. Though they run for just two to three minutes each, they manage a passable amount of detail about their chosen topics. The storyboards one is especially interesting because, in spite of the title, it shows two unfilmed sequences (and no storyboard-to-screen comparisons).


Flash Gordon (1980)
[#27a in 100 Films in a Year 2009]

Despite having seen this before -- only once, I think, and a long time ago when I was very young -- and having a huge review backlog I've still taken the time to write a piece on this. I have my reasons. Anyway, I'll post it in a few days, quite cynically leaving time for my Alien and Predator reviews to garner hits from DVD Times' front page.


The Recently Deflowered Girl by Hyacinthe Phypps
Pages 6 - 47

This is a bit random: a comedy book from 1965, actually written/illustrated by Mel Juffe (if he's real) and Edward Gorey (though it's so obscure it's not even on his Wikipedia bibliography) offering advice on what to say in certain potentially embarrassing post-deflowerment situations.

Someone's scanned a significant chunk (though apparently not all) of it and put it online here. Some of it's very funny, other bits just wish they were. Look to this blog post for a little more info.

new reviews at 100 Films

A pair of new reviews have been posted over at 100 Films today...

Alien: The Director's Cut (1979/2003)
Alien feels unchanged. It’s been said many times before but, first and foremost, it’s a horror movie — it just happens to be one set in space with plenty of sci-fi trappings… Whatever effect Scott’s trims may have had, they haven’t made it any less effective in this regard

Predator (1987)
it’s an entertaining war flick that turns into a sci-fi/action/horror skirmish thingy — but it doesn’t have the same finesse that imbues Alien and its sequel.

Read the full reviews at 100 Films.

There are currently 15 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, plus three shorts. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Friday, 22 May 2009


Transporter 3 (2008)
[#27 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]


Review of Terminator Salvation by Devin Faraci
(from Empire)
A positive perspective on the widely panned new Terminator entry. Sounds pretty good to me.

Poem of the Week: Casey at the Bat

by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

As promised last week, here's another selection from The Nation's Favourite Comic Verse. It's about baseball -- or, to us Brits, 'glorified rounders' -- though a lack of knowledge on that front is no barrier to enjoyment, as the basic theme of this could easily apply to most sports (and for much of it could be about most sports).

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
So when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, 'If only Casey could but get a whack at that --
We'd put up even money now with Casey at the bat.'
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a fake;
So upon that stricken multitude a deathlike silence sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled in the mountaintops, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the hillside and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped --
'That ain't my style,' said Casey -- 'Strike one,' the Umpire said.
From the benches black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signalled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the Umpire said, "Strike two."
'Fraud!' cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered, 'Fraud!'
But one scornful look from Casey and the multitude was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has struck out.

This was first published in a newspaper in 1888, a year which looks kinda nice written down. It's clearly Thayer's most famous poem and has its own Wikipedia page here with more info than you could ever need.

There's also a version of the poem at Wikisource which has many notable differences to the one I've published here, which is taken directly from The Nation's Favourite Comic Verse. It's not just a case of formatting or punctuation -- some lines are almost entirely different. Wikisource says their version is the original from the paper; I don't know where this (revised, presumably) version originates.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


I didn't watch Question Time -- unlike most of twitter, it would seem -- but I did watch these:

The Graham Norton Show
5x10 (14/5/09 edition, uncut repeat)
Very surprised how much I liked Lily Allen on this. Amused that she could say the controversial lyrics from her song but wasn't allowed to sing them -- presumably the bit where she spelt it out was cut from the first broadcast (which has an earlier timeslot).
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Mentalist
1x09 Flame Red
Although the actual plot was a little light, it was thematically significant. Nice to see Jane's steely side too. I'm really enjoying this show -- very glad it's actually been a hit in America and isn't faced with cancellation, as so many of the best shows often are.
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

The Omid Djalili Show
2x05 Episode 5
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

At the risk of getting dreadfully behind, for various personal reasons The Wire will now return next week.


C’est Magnifique - The Red Shoes Wows Cannes by John Hodson
(from From the Cheap Seats)
"The Red Shoes has been meticulously restored and [received] a special screening at the 62nd Cannes International Film Festival... 'I had never seen The Red Shoes on the big screen, leave alone like this. The restoration is stupendous... The colours absolutely leap from the screen.'"
The restored Red Shoes hits UK DVD and Blu-ray on June 29th.

Details on next-gen iPhone leaked? by Mark Langshaw
(from Digital Spy)
"Consistent with past rumours, the system will allegedly include a digital compass and video recorder. A built-in FM transmitter and an OLED screen to improve battery life will also be incorporated, while the RAM and processing power are double that of the current iPhone. The system’s digital camera will be significantly more powerful than its predecessor's, and users will also be able to send photographs and video material via text message."
True or not, there's definitely a software update coming for existing iPhones this summer, and some of that could be incorporated there too.

Film review: Inglourious Basterds by Emma Jones
(from BBC News)
BBC News' balanced opinion on Tarantino's new film (see yesterday and further down for more).

The new 1982 by primus
(from The Ark)
An interesting theory (that 1982 is remembered as a classic year for genre cinema, but has there been one as good since?) and intriguingly argued, though I'm not convinced he's found a genuinely viable alternative.

The Next Dimension: Does 3D Really Work? by Dan Jolin
(from the Empire Blog)
Some valuable 3D skepticism.

We've Seen Inglourious Basterds! by Chris Hewitt
(from Empire)
And finally, a glowing report/review of That Tarantino Film.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


2x13 Trust Me [season finale]
And so Damages' highly variable second season toddles to its conclusion. It's a twisty windy episode of twists and counter-twists, which rather relies on the audience just going along with it as much as genuinely understanding it. Hidden within all that are some bits that make sense and some that really don't. By the end, I wasn't sure if it was brilliantly done and amazingly written, or a total mess and dreadfully written.
Either way, season two's plot was fully wrapped up, and everything left hanging from season one was finished off too. Fresh start for season three? That's what I'm hoping for...

The Wire
2x07 Backwash
Well I never thought I'd see The Wire sink to a clichéd and predictable subplot! (I speak of the Tennis Ball Bug bits.) Much of it's still great, of course, and the plot's finally moving forward. Still not a patch on season one though.


Hoping It Might Be So: Poems 1974-2000 by Kit Wright
Bump-Starting the Hearse (1984) (pages 120-151)
That's the end of that 'chapter' (each chapter in this volume is a book in its own right, collected here). Now I must read some other poets, because I have an essay to write that should ideally refer to lots of them.


Movie Reviews: Inglourious Basterds
(from Studio Briefing)
Tarantino's new film has premiered at Cannes, and the critics weren't impressed.

Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus trailer

Apparently this has been the talk of the Internet recently. I've rather missed that, so clearly I need to pay more attention.

Anyway, I heard about it a little while ago but finally got round to watching the trailer. Looks like suitably B-movie-esque fun. Here it is for your benefit:

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

DVD Extras

Commentary! The Musical
(from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog)
[#26a in 100 Films in a Year 2009]

This is utterly brilliant, and worth every cent of the $10.49 (+ p&p) asking price all by itself (the DVD is Region Free). I'll post a full review at 100 Films sometime, so will leave the rest of my thoughts 'til then, but this really is worth hearing for any film fan. And if you liked Dr. Horrible, it's essential.

Some more info about it can be found here.


Radio Times 23-29 May 2009
The RT's new 'Point of View' column (which began when they relaunched the mag at Easter), with its roster of ten (mostly-)famous writers ready to offer up their opinions, has produced some excellent articles so far. The stand out is still Xander Armstrong's take on Sundays, but this week's piece comes close:
Michael Parkinson bemoans ITV's cancellation of The South Bank Show, something all us intelligent TV viewers can get on board with, and also the amount of drivel that particular network broadcasts generally.
It's on page 12; you should read it.


Battlestar Galactica - Disc-by-Disc Bonus Material Listings, Specs for Blu-ray & DVD Complete Series
Battlestar Galactica - Awesome New Images of Packaging for Season 4.5 Blu & Complete Series
by David Lambert
I've never seen any of the relaunched Battlestar Galactica, simply because I missed the original miniseries -- I think it clashed with something, and when the DVD came out the UK release was so inferior to the US one I refused to buy it. Later, I moved to Uni, thereby missing out on Sky and making it even harder to see -- and so even less incentive to watch.
But it's one of the most praised shows of the past few years, if not ever, and this rather beautiful and extras-packed Blu-ray set looks like a nice way to get caught up.

Also, see today's Magazines section.

Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes trailer

Follow links for larger versions.

Any thoughts?

For my money, it's not really Sherlock Holmes, but it does look like an awful lot of fun as a Victorian era action/adventure movie. The final gag is especially reminiscent of the Iron Man trailer, which I feel may be the broad tone being aimed at here. At the very least, Downey Jr. has absolutely nailed the accent and should be nothing short of magnificent.

new review at 100 Films

Marnie (1964)
Marnie is a film grounded in the field of psychoanalysis, though that word is never used and none of the characters are a therapist. Instead, it just concerns itself with a main character suffering under the strain of repressed childhood memories... Unfortunately, psychoanalysis was only an emerging area at the time, and the price Marnie pays for being ahead of the pack in the mid ’60s is that it looks dated and inaccurate now.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 14 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, not to mention three shorts, a film I've previously seen, and an alternate cut. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Have I Got News For You
37x04 (15/5/09 edition; uncut repeat)
An excellent edition of the topical news quiz. The current poor state of our politics is wonderful fodder for this series, which when it's on form is among the very best things on TV. Plus, guest host Rolf Harris was super -- a lovely guy and clearly game for a laugh.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Robin Hood
3x07 Too Hot to Handle
Prince John is still brilliant, but this episode wasn't -- there were several plot holes big enough for Little John to fit through. A pair of excellent fight scenes though, which does go some way toward making up for it.
From the trailer, the next episode looks oddly like a season finale. Most strange...
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Non-Fiction / Art

Jack Vettriano by Jack Vettriano & Anthony Quinn
Lovers and Other Strangers: 1997 - 2000 (p102-145)
Affairs of the Heart: 2001 - 2004 (p146-183) [the end]
As I said yesterday, I like Vettriano's style, but it can become a bit samey when viewed in so concentrated a way.


Are You Watching Closely? The Hidden Details We Often Miss In Movie Trailers! by Ron Henriques
A fairly long article that you might get bored with -- especially as it's a few weeks old and so contains speculation about all sorts of things we now know -- but it's worth it for the G.I. Joe/Team America comparison alone.

BFI wows with Watchmen, stuns with Star Trek by Matt Chapman
(from DVD & Blu-ray Review)
I'm a bit late in mentioning this, but still: "The BFI has revealed that its IMAX cinema in London has taken more money at the box office for Watchmen than any other cinema in the entire world, (that's all cinemas, not just IMAX!)." Impressive. Follow the link for all sorts of numbers, plus whatever it was the article had to say about Star Trek.

First Thor, Now Loki. More Thor Casting News! by George 'El Guapo' Roush
Or, "Branagh casts Wallander co-star as Thor villain".

Norton 'would take BBC pay cut' by Adam Silverstein
(from Digital Spy)
"Graham Norton has admitted that he would happily take a pay cut to stay at the BBC."
After he did a great job hosting Eurovision, another reason to like him.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
1x05 Beauty and Integrity
An unusually downbeat episode, with even BK being remorseful at one point. This series has hidden depths.

Non-Fiction / Art

Jack Vettriano by Jack Vettriano & Anthony Quinn
Tales of Love and Other Stories: 1987 - 1993 (p12-45)
The Passion and the Pain: 1994 - 1996 (p46-101)
I like Vettriano's art -- not necessarily the stuff you see plastered all over cards, but his darker, noir-ish pieces. Every painting tells a story, has a world outside its edges. His style reminds of Edward Hopper, another favourite.


Peter Moffat's BAFTA award-winning Criminal Justice returns to BBC One and stars Maxine Peake as a woman in desperate trouble
(from BBC Press Office)
The first series was excellent, and this second one -- which tells a brand-new story with all-new characters -- has attracted an equally starry cast (more so, perhaps) and sounds totally different but just as promising.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Eurovision Song Contest: Moscow 2009

A year of real change for Eurovision, with a new voting system designed to eradicate the bloc voting that has plagued the contest for the past few years, and popular host Terry Wogan being replaced by (obvious choice) Graham Norton. On top of that, the UK actually took it seriously this year...

and was rewarded with 5th place, a phenomenal achievement after consistently placing last for most of the past decade. This year, our score was up by an incredibly 1,236% on last year! Graham made for a great host too -- he was clearly nervous at the start, but once he settled into it he was brilliant. A bit too chatty for some, and not quite as cynical as old Tel, but very funny nonetheless. Musically it was a relatively strong year too.

That said, I honestly don't see the appeal of winners Norway -- what could possibly beat the Ukraine's entry, an even gayer version of 300?


Dark Floors (2008)
[#26 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]
In honour of Eurovision, this is the horror movie starring 2006's winners, Lordi.


Anthony Hopkins to reprise Lecter role by Tim Parks
(from Digital Spy)
Considering the only Hannibal Lecter film that's considered to be much cop is Silence of the Lambs -- and there have been three since then -- is this really a good idea? I suppose if they make money no one cares...
(In case anyone points out Manhunter, that's technically a Lecktor film.)

Primeval movie confirmed by Dan French
(from Digital Spy)
So the rumours were true. But will it be a continuation of the series, a reboot of some kind, or a US-set spin off? All viable options, though I'd imagine the second two are most likely.

Rome might not be history, series creator says by James Hibberd
(from Reuters)
I liked Rome, though never got round to the second season. Just bought the whole lot on DVD, so will aim to soon. Anyway, this sounds promising... if it gets made.

new review at 100 Films

Angels & Demons (2009)
It may come as a surprise that Angels & Demons has a subtly different feel to its predecessor, The Da Vinci Code. It still concerns itself with Tom Hanks’ Langdon dashing about trying to solve insanely cryptic clues in a limited timeframe, surrounded by irritating policeman, suspicious friendly characters, and a girl who is almost pointless. However, it’s a lot less talky, more pacey, and, perhaps, aware of its own silliness.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 14 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, not to mention two shorts, a film I've previously seen, and an alternate cut. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Friday, 15 May 2009


Boy Meets Girl
Part 2 (of 4)
Part 3 (of 4)
Despite being overstretched at four hours, this is occasionally very good, if also a bit random. Fingers crossed next week's final part can tie it all together appropriately.
In the lead role, incidentally, Rachael Stirling is absolutely phenomenal. Hopefully she'll be remembered come the next awards season -- she'd deserve the lot -- but as I doubt the programme will be remembered that far away, her chances must be slim.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

The Graham Norton Show
5x09 (7/5/09 edition, uncut repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


50 Cent and Forest Whitaker are Jekyll and Hyde by Sean
(from Film Junk)
That's certainly some unusual casting. I don't know which should be which though.

Poem of the Week: 'You cannot hope...'

by Humbert Wolfe

A brief one this week and Wolfe's most famous piece, as evidenced by its prominent inclusion on his Wikipedia entry. Though it was first published in 1930, it's decidedly truthful to this day.

You cannot hope
     to bribe or twist,
thank God! the
     British journalist.

But, seeing what
     the man will do
unbribed, there's
     no occasion to.

Discovered in The Nation's Favourite Comic Verse (as will be the next couple of Poem of the Week entries), but originally published in The Uncelestial City.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


The Mentalist
1x08 The Thin Red Line
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

The Wire
2x06 All Prologue
Halfway through the season now, but -- a couple of the subplots aside -- so little has happened that it feels like it's barely begun. I'm beginning to see why some were surprised and disappointed when this first aired, and why many still regard it as one of the poorer seasons.


Angels & Demons (2009)
[#25 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
[2nd watch]
This is 11 years old now! Time flies.


Star Trek In-Jokes
(from Empire)
"All the Trekker references in JJ Abrams' franchise reboot." Though they seem to have missed a couple.

Star Trek: warp factor sex by Sady Doyle
It feels like flogging a dead horse to still be mentioning Star Trek -- and after only a week on release too -- but this article/review is both accurate and brilliant, and therefore deserves your attention (whatever you thought of the film).

“You stinky!” - Hong Kong’s funniest subtitles
“Damn you, Fatty!” - More funny subtitles from Hong Kong movies by Cal
(from Heroes of the East)
Unendingly hilarious. To quote any here would be to spoil the fun.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Broken Saints
Chapter 24 Truth [finale episode]
See here for my thoughts on this chapter.

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
1x04 Problems in Moral Philosophy
For a programme that's so perfect for Sunday night -- genteel, funny, nice -- the episodes seem to go by awfully quickly. Which is a good thing -- Lark Rise..., for example, does drag so.

The Wire
2x05 Undertow
The Wire hasn't gone totally off the ball, but some scenes in this season lack the could-be-a-documentary realism of the first. And I'm not talking some shaky handheld style thing here (thankfully, the makers of The Wire seem to know about tripods and Steadicams -- perhaps they could lend some to J.J. Abrams), but the dialogue and performances. It's not throughout, but just occasionally it feels much more 'fictional' than before -- no problem in much shows, but it belies what made this series so different and so good.


Cannes 2009: Up first reaction! by Jamie Graham
(from Total Film)
"Pixar's latest opens Cannes to eye-popping effect" say Total Film. Sounds more promising than it looks.

How To Cheat A Reboot: Star Trek's Kobayashi Maru Solution by Dan Jolin
(from the Empire Blog)
Far too much has been written about Star Trek now, but this article's different perspective makes it worth bothering with.

Review of Fast & Furious by gproject
(from Slate Scrawl)
Sounds about as good as I hoped (I say hoped -- I wasn't actively wishing it would be any good), which does increase my chances of seeing it as I thought it would probably be worse.

Vindictive Movie Studio Threatens To Make Coyote Ugly Sequel
(from the Onion)
Don't worry, it's a spoof. (To all teenage boys thinking, "what do you mean 'don't worry'?! I'm upset it's not real", you can just go watch the DVD of the first one again. Or try Bring It On.)

Broken Saints - Chapter 24: Truth

24 episodes, 10½ hours, 5 months of my time -- I've finally reach the end of "The Animated Comic Epic"!

The final certainly has a lot to live up to, especially as it makes up about 13% of the series' length. It does its best, tying together a lot of complex plot strands and information to round off the plot and offer some deeper meaning -- or at least, try to. Some of it is borrowed heavily from elsewhere -- most obviously Watchmen, from which several elements are taken -- and this can be distracting. A sympathetic eye can easily easy to see why those bits were selected however.

Some of the usual flaws are still evident -- an over technical bit of hacking from Raimi is particularly irritating, slowing the otherwise well constructed pace (a welcome change). On the other hand, he pretentiousness finally seems grounded in something worth listening to -- some of it, anyway.

It's difficult to say if Broken Saints is worth all the effort. Some will love it, especially wannabe-philosophers, whereas others will unquestionably hate it. I'm somewhere in between, as usual, but can say that I will at some point watch it again, and see how much more (if anything) can be gained from watching it all knowing how it ends.

For all my posts related to Broken Saints, please look here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


Broken Saints
Chapter 23 Ascent
See here for my thoughts on this chapter.

The Omid Djalili Show
2x04 Episode 4
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Wire
2x04 Hard Cases
The Wire's second season seems to be suffering under the same problems that seem to blight most second seasons these days: a lack of focus and struggling to retain or recreate the elements that made the first so great. Still, we're only a third of the way in, there's plenty of time yet.


Sam Mendes Says Preacher Script Is Half-Done, ‘Plenty Left Over’ For Sequels by Silas Lesnick
(from MTV Splash Page)
There's way too much in Preacher for just one film, but it sounds Mendes has the right handle on how to bring this to the screen: make one excellent standalone film and hope it does well enough to allow for more. Though considering Preacher's overarching story, some of that may be tricky. It's an excellent series though, so fingers crossed.

Warner Bros. And Facebook Team Up For Watchmen Blu-Ray Feature by Josh Wigler
(from MTV Splash Page)
This sounds decidedly odd, but potentially interesting. The full announcement for the US DVD/Blu-ray release can be found here. It'll be interesting to see how much more will be found on the eventual Ultimate Edition (which will include an even longer cut of the film).

The William Shatner Kirk Cameo that was cut from the Script
(from GeekTyrant)
Of the new Star Trek, of course. He really would've been shoehorned in, just like J.J. Abrams said. A wise cut to have made.

Broken Saints - Chapter 23: Ascent

No series has ever been worse for spouting endless irrelevant technical jargon than Broken Saints. Along with the rambling pretension, you have to wonder how much shorter the 12-hour series would've been if they'd had a decent script editor involved.

Despite that, this penultimate part manages to further the plot a decent amount, and even bring in a handful of twists and revelations (some blatant, some perhaps surprising). There's still plenty left to be revealed however, and it pulls off an ending that made me anxious to see the final feature-length episode -- though quite how there's enough story left to fill almost an hour and a half will be interesting to see.

It's around these final few chapters that one also realises that, while it seems as if almost nothing has happened over the preceding 10 hours, there's actually been quite a lot of rather complex plot tucked away under all the time wasting. In fact, some of that time wasting (by no means all, but some) wasn't actually time wasting at all, just elements whose meaning would be revealed later. Much later.

It's this kind of thing that makes me think Broken Saints will benefit from a second viewing, once I've seen the ending. But certainly not straight away.

Monday, 11 May 2009


2x06 (4/5/09 edition)
Theoretically there are another six or seven episodes scheduled for this series of Argumental, though it's not listed this week. Perhaps Dave are playing at ITV's game and making two series out of one.

Ashes to Ashes
2x04 Episode Four
A surprise mid-series conclusion for what looked to be this year's story arc. I do love it when series wrongfoot the viewer in this way, especially when it means things aren't dragged out interminably.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Broken Saints
Chapter 22 Revelation
Pretentious and complicated this episode, but there are some nice ideas and good plot twists buried among the waffle.
Though in episode terms only 8% remains, there's still nearly two hours of it -- 17% -- to go (i.e. a fair bit).

2x12 Look What He Dug Up This Time
Another round of twists. It's still not close to being as good as the first season, but it has its moments. Maybe the finale will have something more to offer.


The 25 Greatest Sci-Fi Shows Ever! by Jake Rossen
(from Wizard)
A very unusual and consequently intriguing list. By far the correct choice for #1 though.

Weekend Report: Star Trek Prospers by Brandon Gray
(from Box Office Mojo)
BOM are usually quite clinical in their reports. Nothing wrong with that -- they're reporting box office numbers and all we want are the facts. But the veil slips in this one, as author Gray takes the chance to have a several paragraph rant about Star Trek's fanbase-alienating ad campaign and the public perception of it as an unpopular geek niche. Clearly a disgruntled fan then. Comes across a bit like the scene where Kirk and Scotty first arrive on the bridge if you ask me, with Gray as Spock -- if you've seen it I'm sure you'll get what I mean.

new review at 100 Films

For your lunch hour reading:

Star Trek (2009)
“These are the voyages of the Apple iEnterprise.” ...the over-zealous critical reception is Star Trek’s biggest problem: while it is certainly satisfying in some areas it’s also lacking in others, but it seems most of the world’s critics are closet Trekkies, able to seize upon an above-average film and hail it as the Second Coming. It will come as no surprise when I say it isn’t.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 14 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, not to mention two shorts, a film I've previously seen, and an alternate cut. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

new review at 100 Films

Airplane! (1980)
The main problem with watching Airplane! for the first time now is that it occasionally suffers from its own popularity... [It] combats these almost-faults in two ways: one, it is irrepressibly silly, which in this case is a very good thing; and two, it has an incredibly high joke rate.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 15 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, not to mention two shorts, a film I've previously seen, and an alternate cut. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


Ashes to Ashes
2x03 Episode Three
Finally catching up on last week's episode before the next one tomorrow. This one concerned extreme animal rights activists -- you know, the ones who terrorise and murder. They have to be some of the most hypocritical bastards of them all.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

2x11 London. Of Course.
Damages season two finishes tonight on BBC One, but due to recording issues two weeks ago and my internet being no good at streaming iPlayer, it's taken 'til now to acquire this episode by... alternate means.
Things are almost coming together for this second season now, this episode featuring some suitably underhand moves and twists from a few major players, so maybe it can finally quit meandering and build to a decent conclusion.


Star Trek (2009)
[#24 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]
Or Star Trek XI, but only to geeks.


Cast And Director's Commentaries
Back To Earth Unseen Material
Pleasantly, the official Red Dwarf website is being updated every Friday with little nuggets of info about the forthcoming DVD release of Back to Earth, which is scheduled for June 15th -- a whole five weeks away still! Anyway, these are the first two real updates.

Saturday, 9 May 2009


Broken Saints
Chapter 21 Convergence
It's a fault of the moving-graphic-novel style of this that action sequences take about five times as long as they would in a 'proper' motion form, and dialogue scenes can be pretty drawn out too. It would be interesting to know how long the whole series would take to get through if created at 'real speed' -- even with all the overlong pretentious monologues left in I bet it'd be a good few hours shorter.
This episode features some stuff Actually Happening, which is nice, though it's not quite up to the speed of some of the late-teens episodes. There's also a genuine plot twist, which may be a first for the series. While not a wildly improbable one, it'll still need some explaining come the next episode.

Have I Got News For You
37x03 (8/5/09 edition; uncut repeat)
Half past two.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

3x07 Episode 7
Some really nice ideas in this episode, but almost all let down by Primeval's usual shortcomings. The army troops turning up at Stupid Gambling Teenager's house was exactly what I wanted though, so that was nice.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]


Total Film #155
A special 3D issue, which comes with a pair of red-and-green specs and a whole section (including most of the adverts) in 3D. Neat idea...
... but either I'm one of the 30% of people it doesn't work very well for (read the 3D article here for that stat), or RealD must be a lot better than old-fashioned red-and-green to get so many people excited, because a lot of the 3D demonstrated in this issue just doesn't work for me. It's fine on a small scale -- separating someone from the wall a foot behind them, for example -- but when you get objects very far apart the red and green parts of the picture don't work; I just see them twice.
Really speaking, the best way to consume 3D would be with glasses like these -- absolutely no crossover between eyes then, so it would work flawlessly. I find those sorts of specs quite appealing anyway, but put 3D on them and I'd really want them.

new review at 100 Films

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Wolverine, to put it simply — much as the film would — entertains... Some have criticised the action for being physically ludicrous, but perhaps they should be reminded that they’re watching a film about people with superpowers. With that in mind, it never goes beyond what’s plausible for the world that’s been created.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 15 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films, not to mention two shorts, a film I've previously seen, and an alternate cut. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Friday, 8 May 2009


The Graham Norton Show
5x08 (30/4/09 edition, uncut repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Mad Men
2x13 Meditations in an Emergency [season finale]
Absolutely brilliant! And who knew the line "I haven't got a contract" could be one of the best, most triumphant 'finishing moves' ever? Can't wait for the third season now. Pray they never cancel this series without giving the production team notice, because the subtle cliffhangers they produce are unbearable. (As in you can't wait for the resolution, not as in badly done. Just so we're clear.)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


7 Weird Bits Of Star Trek Merchandise by James White
(from Total Film)
Ah Trekkies, always good for a laugh!

The 10 Most Famous Geek Arguments by Jason Clarke
(from Topless Robot)
A very entertaining read, especially if you've ever been embroiled in any/all of these... debates, which span TV, film, comics, literature and even science. Though at least one assertion suggests minimal knowledge of the topic involved: "The only Doctors [as in Doctor Who] to ever challenge [Tom] Baker's supremacy have been the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and the current Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)". McCoy?! I love McCoy, but I don't think he's ever really troubled Baker in terms of popularity.

11 Things We Love About Terminator Salvation by Andy Lowe
(from Total Film)
They've seen it! They liked it! And here's some good stuff from it! Beware of spoilers though. It makes me want to go rewatch the first three (well, two at least) before it's out. Heck, maybe I even will.

Review of Star Trek
Review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine by Roger Ebert
Two negative reviews of this summer's first two major blockbusters. His points on Wolverine are mostly valid, though show a lack of awareness of how the character is in the comics (fair enough, he's only reviewing the film), while his Trek review is pleasing in its different perspective from all the over-congratulatory reviews everywhere else. I can well believe everything he says is correct.

Poem of the Week: Photographs of the Notebook

by Luke Kennard

There are two common misconceptions about prose poetry:

One, that it's a bit of writing that fails to tell a story effectively or fails to sound good enough to be poetry, so is lumped somewhere in between. While I'm sure it can be this, good examples are not. Yes, they fall somewhere between the two stools of literature, but they land closer to poetry -- it is, for whatever reason, a poem in prose form.

Two, that it's very modern and avant-garde. Not so. There are examples of prose poems dating back thousands of years, especially in Japan, and even the modern 'popularity' can be dated to the mid 19th Century. Since then it's been adopted by more outside movements and steadily moved into the mainstream, but it's hardly a modern invention.

I'm no scholar on prose poetry -- in fact, I'm no scholar on poetry as a whole -- but having recently been introduced to a few examples, here's one I thought worth sharing. It exhibits many poetic qualities, but I think is also an entertaining read for anyone (especially if you're a writer). There's also an argument to be made that readers not versed in verse may find prose poetry more accessible, as it's closer to the more-widely read form.

I used to keep a notebook on my person at all times -- to write down ideas, observations, openings for stories. It took me almost a year to realise that the book was hexed, that as long as I had it in my pocket or rucksack I would be blank -- not only deaf and blind to the world around me, but mute as well: unable to express even this strange impotence in anything other than silence.

I ripped out all ninety-six pages of the notebook, one by one. I filled the empty leather cover with ninety-six photographs of the notebook and had it rebound. I gave this book of photographs to an artist I know in the city. She sealed it in an envelope and mailed it to herself -- so as to copyright the idea -- but it must have been lost in the post. She is no longer speaking to me, but that's because of something else.

I shredded the ninety-six ripped-out notebook pages and used them as stuffing in a writing cushion. I took the writing cushion to a shop where it was immediately bought by an old man with pince-nez who has since died in obscurity.

I used so many cameras and films when I was taking the ninety-six photographs of the notebook. Even now a set of photographs will come back to me from the developers and among the smiling friends and rivers and parties, there will be a perfect portrait of the notebook, just there, in between us like a reminder that we're all going to die.

Today I bought a new notebook, but so far this is the only thing I have written in it.

This piece is taken from Kennard's book The Harbour Beyond the Movie, published by Salt in 2007, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Forward Poetry Prize.

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

Thursday, 7 May 2009


The Mentalist
1x07 Seeing Red
Why do Five insist on putting their ad breaks in such odd places? I know we have Special Rules about ad breaks, meaning we can't just put them in the correct places as per the US broadcast, but I'm sure they could edit them better than this.
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

The Wire
2x03 Hot Shots
New advertising slogan for the police, inspired by Valcheck: "Doing the right thing, for all the wrong reasons." Could sum up many characters' motivations, actually.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
[#23 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]
Widely slated (just 36% on the Tomatometer), but it's nothing like that bad -- which makes it, oddly, underrated.


The Nation's Favourite Comic Poems, edited by Griff Rhys Jones
Pages 127 - 165 [the end]