Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Radio Times 4-10 July 2009
Torchwood's back! Hurrah! Good feature on it. Pretty cover (with exclusive imagery) too.


Review of How the West Was Won Blu-ray by Leonard Norwitz
(from DVDBeaver)
A great piece, part Blu-ray/film review and part article on the Cinerama process. There's some immensely insightful contributions from Cinerama documentarian Dave Strohmaier too (scroll right down past the screengrabs). It's a teeny bit technical, so primarily of interest to film/cinema/technology/Blu-ray buffs, and of course you have to battle past the AICN-esque lack of user-friendly design/formatting present at DVDBeaver, but I found it worth it.

Star Trek - What You Missed by Harry Barber
(from TNMC)
Barber has read an early version of the Star Trek script and here describes some of the stuff in there that didn't make the final cut, including at least one whole subplot. Whether it was cut at script stage or later, no one knows -- only the DVD/Blu-ray is likely to reveal that now.

Monday, 29 June 2009


Michael Jackson tops album chart
(from BBC News)
"Michael Jackson has topped the UK album chart and made six new entries in the singles top 40, six years after his last number one. Greatest hits album Number Ones rocketed from 121 to the top spot after a surge in sales since the superstar's death on Thursday... Four of his other hit albums also made a reappearance in the top 20... Thriller, still the biggest-selling album of all time, raced from 179 to number seven...
A total of 11 Michael Jackson or Jackson Five albums featured in the top 200. In the singles chart, 43 out of the top 200 singles feature the singer, with Jackson hits accounting for all but one of the new entries in the top 40."

Review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Fall of the Revengers
by Roger Ebert (from rogerebert.com)
Ebert lays into Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with his usual panache -- twice! I still haven't bothered to see it, but I can well believe every word of this.

Tomas, Tommy, Tom: Past, present and future? by Matt Withers
Three Toms in The Fountain by Marc Caddell
(from rogerebert.com)
Two different, but equally intelligent, views on what exactly is going on in The Fountain, a film many dislike but I thought was rather good (with some reservations).


As I've discussed my TV-related plans a couple of times before, I thought I'd give updates now final decisions have been made and things have been ordered.

HDTV: Samsung LE37B650
It may have flaws, but the ones it has are of little consequence to me, which means it's pros stand out all the more.
In the post.

Blu-ray Player: Panasonic DMP-BD60
One of the best around at this price point, and also one of the few available chipped for multi-region -- a must for me.
In the post.

TV/Broadband/Phone: V+HD / Virgin Media
Yes, last time I had been verging on Sky, but their offer ended. This is for the best really -- Virgin will cost a lot less and BBC HD is the main HD channel I'll watch anyway. Considering my TV has a USB slot that will play movie files, there are always other ways of accessing HD content...
Installation ordered.

I've also ordered an initial batch of films, so I can actually enjoy my BD player (plus it will upscale my thousands of DVDs, of course).
Ordered / in the post.

Thanks to moving house as well, all of this should be completely set up in the next 5-10 days. Ooh it's exciting.

new review at 100 Films

Alien Resurrection (1997)
the most notable differences are its black humour, where the tastes of both [writer] Whedon and director Jeunet make their mark, and how grotesque it is — almost two extremes walking hand-in-hand. The deformed, perverted Ripley clones; the Hybrid; the Ripley-Alien sex scene — there’s nothing like this in the other films, and that’s a grand thing.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

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

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
1x04 O Biclops, Where Art Thou?
Kröd's gone a little off the boil this week (many would say it was never on it), but it still has its moments -- most of them thanks to Matt Lucas, as usual.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow
1x04 Swansea [1st half]
For various reasons, I stopped almost dead on halfway through -- even though that was in the middle of someone's act. Still, very funny so far.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

That Mitchell and Webb Look
3x03 Episode 3
Vegetarian sketch = very, very good. James Bond sketch = genius. Rest = well above average for sketch shows.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Top Gear
13x02 (28/6/09 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


How good is the new Torchwood? Find out! by Ben Rawson-Jones
(from Digital Spy)
Well, "Find out!" if you trust DS's reviews, that is. I don't know if I do or not (though their opinion of Primeval season 3 was in my eyes wrong), but good reviews always bode well.


Just got this iPhone app, as recommended by the latest issue of What Hi-Fi?

Essentially, you play a song into it (by holding the iPhone's mic as close to the source as you can get) and it does some clever jiggerypokery and tells you what the song is, including a link to the iTunes Store. (It also does some other stuff with tagging your location and photos and whatnot, but the song identification is its primary function.) It's worked flawlessly for me so far, and What Hi-Fi? put it through a moderately rigorous test too.

This is a bit of software I've always wanted and I'm overjoyed to finally discover it exists. Hurrah!

new review at 100 Films

Alien3 (1992)
Even if in some ways 3 combines the first two — single Alien, claustrophobia, unarmed heroes; but there are lots of them, most with experience of killing — it adds enough variety, especially stylistically, to mark it out... it soon turns dark, dirty and decrepit, abandoning both the the military sheen of Aliens and the old tanker grime of Alien.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

Tonight, I'll post a review of Alien Resurrection.

Saturday, 27 June 2009


The blue and the green by Phil Plait
(from the Bad Astronomy blog at Discover)
This is a brilliant optical illusion. I highly recommend you follow the link and see why it's so good.
Seriously, it's great.

Talking to an Extraordinary Gentleman of letters
Language, Joyce, Newton, Bojeffries, magic and drugs advice
The Mighty Moore Marathon
by Pádraig Ó Méalóid (from the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log)
A very long, three-part interview with Alan Moore, discussing all kinds of stuff, far too much to even consider summarising. Quite interesting though. Well, some of it. Parts one and three, to be blunt. In fact, to be perfectly honest, it's far too damn long and needs a good edit. I mean, here's a good example (and, believe it or not, I've edited this a bit):

Moore: The other book which I am, I’ve read the first part, and am now looking forward to the second part, this is something that you won’t be able to find yet, it’s unpublished, but it’s by Brian Catling, the sculptor... What he’s written is a novel called The Vorrh, which is a three-part novel. I’ve read the first part...

Méalóid: Tell me how to spell Vorrh.

Moore: V H O O R? There’s another R on the end as well.

Méalóid: Could be another R on the end, yeah, we’ll put another R on the end, just to be safe.

Moore: I’ve got it here at my feet. Let’s just not be lazy, let’s open it up and see… VO double R H.

Méalóid: OK, got that. Fair enough. What am I going to ask you next?

But still, if you like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the first and third parts are must-reads.

new review at 100 Films

Aliens (1986)
Where Alien is a Horror Movie — but in space — Aliens is a War Movie — but in space. The central characters are a team of marines, as opposed to the original’s ordinary guys; where the first film’s design was dark, shadowy and oppressive, here it’s all gleaming tech, tanks and guns and spaceships and the like; and, just to underline the point, the score is full of military drums.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

Tonight, I'll post a review of Alien3, and tomorrow, one for Alien Resurrection.

All music sounds the same these days...

That's not me, incidentally, just in case you were confused -- that's @frizfrizzle.

Friday, 26 June 2009


A Few Good Men (1992)
[#38 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]
Can I handle the truth? I don't know yet, the damn iTunes rental went screwy 35 minutes before the end. (Currently trying to get hold of another copy to finish it off.)


Aliens, Actresses and Their Likenesses
(from Sideshow Collectibles)
"For the Sideshow Design and Development Team, the Queen Alien and Power Loader Dioramas were a labor of love and a long time coming... Some of you may have noticed that the woman behind the wheel looks a bit less like Sigourney Weaver than you may have expected, and well, here’s the scoop... Due to licensing issues with Sigourney Weaver’s likeness rights, we were unable to use Weaver’s portrait for Ripley in the Power Loader Diorama."
You've got to appreciate their honesty. It's also to their benefit, of course, because if buyers thought it was meant to look like Weaver then it would look like a poor sculpt. You can see pictures of the new face and whole diorama at the link.

EastEnders films Michael Jackson reference by Kris Green
(from Digital Spy)
"EastEnders has filmed a last-minute scene to be edited into tonight's episode referencing Michael Jackson's death... The three other major UK soaps - Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks - all confirmed that no last-minute editing will be made to tonight's episodes."
Says more about EastEnders than anything else.

Gaiman 'won’t write new Sandman comic' by Tim Parks
(from Digital Spy)
Neil Gaiman: "I wanted to do a 20th anniversary story, and it broke mostly because DC Comics would have loved me to do a 20th anniversary story at the same terms that were agreed upon in 1987, when I was a 26-year-old unknown... And my thought was, 'You know what, guys, it really doesn't work like that'. I wasn't going to do a deal at the same terms we had in 1987, and they were not willing to do any better than that."

Inglourious Basterds prequel still on? by James White
(from Total Film)
Lots of interesting bits & bobs about Tarantino's latest and its possible sequel/prequel from an interview with producer Harvey Weinstein. Did You Know fact of the day: for a while, it was going to be a Band of Brothers-esque TV series. That would've been... interesting...

Russell Davies Q&A on Doctor Who and Torchwood by Alan Sepinwall
(from What's Alan Watching?)
A rather good interview with outgoing Who supremo Russell T Davies about the forthcoming Who specials, forthcoming Torchwood miniseries Children of Earth, and his time on the series. Inevitably fans will have heard much of it before, but it's always nice to be reminded of the show's literally phenomenal success.

Torchwood: Children of Earth - BBC One Trailer

The highly atmospheric BBC One trail
for Torchwood: Children of Earth.

Poem of the Week: Thriller

by Rod Temperton

With the world caught up in a fairly understandable frenzy about the death of Michael Jackson, let's have a look at the lyrics of one of his most famous songs in a semi-poetic context.

It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes
You're paralyzed

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one's gonna save you from the beast about strike
You know it's thriller, thriller night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

You hear the door slam and realize there's nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, girl!
But all the while you hear the creature creeping up behind
You're out of time

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
There ain't no second chance against the thing with forty eyes, girl
Thriller, thriller night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

Night creatures calling, the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There's no escaping the jaws of the alien this time
(They're open wide)
This is the end of your life

They're out to get you, there's demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change that number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together, yeah
All through the night I'll save you from the terror on the screen
I'll make you see

That this is thriller, thriller night
'Cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a
Killer, diller, chiller, thriller here tonight

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
Girl, I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller, ow!

(I'm gonna thrill ya tonight)
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'alls neighborhood

I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, ooh baby
I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, oh darlin'
Thriller night, baby, ooh!

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller.

Thriller was released in 1984, sung by Michael Jackson with a soliloquy read by Vincent Price. Despite the success of the album of the same title and other successful tracks from it, Thriller the song only reached number four on the US Billboard singles chart and number ten on the UK singles chart. It's probably most famous for its 14-minute short film-like music video.

The lyrics are as close as I could find them on the Internet. (Yes, this is a fairly silly idea for Poem of the Week.)

Thursday, 25 June 2009


The Mentalist
1x14 Crimson Casanova
Ah, Cho! He's beyond brilliant.
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]


The Box Trailer
This looks like it could be fantastic. Hopefully a return to form for Richard Kelly after the mess that was Southland Tales.


Doctor Who Magazine #410
Freshly-cast companion Karen Gillan makes the cover, but more intriguing is the news that the first Matt Smith/Steven Moffat series (beginning in 2010) will officially be produced as Series One, not Series Five (or Series Six, or Series Thirty-One).
Surely this will be a DVD-naming nightmare? Will they ignore it and just go with The Complete Series Five regardless, to follow the Eccleston/Tennant/Davies years? Or will it be something like The Complete First Eleventh Doctor Series? (Probably they won't care one jot and just go with the former, but it's nice to wonder.)

Torchwood: The Official Magazine #16
Torchwood Magazine always has a very spacious design -- lots of gaps, big fonts, and its comic strip is light on detail. It smacks of a magazine designed to be printed smaller and then blown up to average mag size for some unknown reason. Which is odd, but also makes it feel lightweight and under-thought.


twitter trend: Micheal Jackson
This evening, twitter went mad reporting Michael Jackson had died, based solely on this report from TMZ. While we wait for confirmation from a better source, it's worth noting that the official trend title spelt his name wrong.

Edit: In case you somehow missed it, BBC News 24 finally confirmed it around the time this post went live.

new review at 100 Films

The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
From the off it’s clear that The Man in the Iron Mask is not going to go well. It’s an adaptation of a tale of the Three Musketeers, so naturally is set in historical Paris… where everyone has a different accent and very few of them are French. It is, to be blunt, a horrid mishmash — much like the whole film.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

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

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


BOMBSHELL: Oscars Best Picture Race Expands to 10 Nominees by Seth Abramovitch
Who Stands to Gain the Most From Oscar's Best Picture Bombshell? by S.T. Vanairsdale
(from Movie|Line)
I believe some people call things like this a "game changer", but that sounds silly. Instead of the traditional five (and it's not all that traditional, actually) there will be ten films competing for the big prize at next year's Oscars. Will everyone else follow suit in the bid to retain Oscar-predictor status? Or will this go down as a bad experiment by the Academy and it'll be back to five in 2011? Only time will tell...
(The first article is the news and press release, the second some analysis.)

Avatar - Footage of James Cameron's sci-fi 3D film has been seen and it is stunning
(from Live For Films)
"The first footage from James Cameron's Avatar has been screened to the public for the first time in Amsterdam at the Cinema Expo International. It looks as if everyone who saw it was stunned."
Read the article for what they had to say. I'm beginning to wonder if this can possibly live up to its hype -- it's going to have to look genuinely 100% real throughout to match the boundless praise being heaped upon it, and that's a tall order for anything. A more moderated response and flaws would be more forgivable, but at this rate, no flaw will be accepted.
And, in all honesty, part of me hopes it fails miserably and takes the equally-over-hyped 3D revolution with it.

BBC denies Doctor Who reunion reports by Neil Wilkes
(from Digital Spy)
To be honest, they didn't really deny it at all -- so little, in fact, that the article doesn't even quote their comment til the final paragraph! Still, rumours of an all-Doctors Children in Need special have been doing the rounds for years, so there's no good reason to assume it's any more likely this year than before. Even if it does happen, I seriously doubt it'll be the first appearance of the 11th Doctor... though that might be quite cool.

Johnny Depp discusses Pirates 4 by Lara Martin
(from Digital Spy)
...and doesn't say much. Still, it's on its way.


What Hi-Fi? Sound & Vision: Ultimate Guide to Television

My quest for the best setup in my new lounge continues with this What Hi-Fi?, which basically covers everything in one handy magazine. No, I don't need to know about projectors or £160 all-in-one remote controls, but there's plenty of very useful information elsewhere.

I'm virtually set on my telly, for example, but the range covered led for some pauses to think. The same can't be said for Blu-ray, where my choice of player is almost dictated by the need to have it region-free (luckily it's also the best budget player around; though for an extra £80 the slightly snazzier one is available region-free too), but the comparisons are undoubtedly worthwhile to anyone who hadn't already decided.

Even more useful for me were the reviews of various TV services (like Sky+ HD and V+HD, which gave me some decent food for thought. Plus, lots of information on sound systems -- I'm not intending to buy a new one, but I finally have answers about some concerns with my current one. Mainly, it should be possible to connect it up and have it work fine with surround sound from both Blu-ray and Sky HD.

The section games consoles was somewhat laughable though, picking them apart for their film & TV content and seeming almost baffled that the Wii has been such a success. It's because (it would seem) all most people want is a well-made fun-to-play games machine, not a multimedia behemoth, and the Wii is admirable in sticking by its notion that, as it's a games machine, a games machine is what it is.

Bloody PS3 giving people ideas about games consoles rising above their station, etc.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Review of Public Enemies by Ian Nathan
(from Empire)
A glowing review for the new Michael Mann film, which has a rather surprisingly summer release date.

Transform your TV with a mid-size flatscreen master, aka Supertest: 37in Televisions
(from What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision)
As well as choosing a TV package, I also need to choose a new TV, and guides like this are a very handy way to do it. The test winner, Sony's KDL-37W5500, does look like a good bet, but I'm very tempted by the Samsung LE37B650 -- it may score lower in almost every respect, but the key is in why.
Its sound may be weak, but I'm not much of an audiophile and I have a separate system for DVDs/Blu-ray anyhow, so it matters little; and it may be a bit poor for Freeview pictures but, obviously, I'm not going to be viewing those. What it does have is competing, perhaps even slightly better, image quality (yes please) and great connectivity -- being able to play downloaded Divx files from a USB device would be fantabulous. To top it off, it's about £50 cheaper online, which is always nice.


Spent most of today investigating TV/broadband/phone packages from the likes of Sky, Virgin and BT ahead of my move in the next couple of weeks. No one service is best unfortunately.

For example, Virgin has uncapped broadband at all levels, decent selection of TV channels and (possibly) a V+ box that lets you record two channels while watching a third; BBC iPlayer as well as other TV On Demand via the telly; plus BBC HD and HD movies on demand -- all for a price, of course.

Conversely, Sky only offers capped broadband unless you go for its highest level (which is nothing like as high as Virgin's), and I really can't be doing with just 10Gb of traffic a month; plus its Sky+ box can 'only' record one channel while watching another (or record two including the one being watched). However, it has a better selection of channels, and more customisable to boot, plus up to 33 HD channels -- again, for a price.

It all comes down to exactly what we're prepared to pay and exactly what we want and feel we need. We get a lot of use out of iPlayer on TV, but would we need it as much if we could just record stuff on a V+/Sky+ box? And is it worth sacrificing that wide selection of HD channels? Is it even worth the extra cost for HD? Yes I'll have a fancy new HDTV, but I'll also have Blu-ray to enjoy and an HD TV service adds to the price (£69 installation + £5 a month from Virgin (required for V+ too), or £49 + nearly £10 a month from Sky -- but you do get a lot more channels for that).

And there's always Freesat, of course, though in addition we'd have to find broadband and phone elsewhere, which can actually get so expensive it becomes worth adding TV for the discounts it brings. (The actual cost is more, naturally, but you get an awful lot more for your money too.)

It's all far too complicated in my opinion.

Monday, 22 June 2009


Top Gear
13x01 (21/6/09 edition)
It's always nice to welcome Top Gear back onto our screens, and in these depressing times it is indeed welcome.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


Film first-looks, anti-American websites, and a freakin' spaceport! Today is a good day...

Bay slams Transformers ad campaign by Simon Reynolds
(from Digital Spy)
"Website TMZ has published an email (dated May 4) from Bay to executives, among them CEO Brad Grey and Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, in which the director blasts the studio for not spending enough money publicising the robot sequel's summer release." And there's details of what he said, if you want them.

Crazy Cancellations by Ben Rawson-Jones
(from Digital Spy)
Parts of this article about prematurely cancelled TV series are interesting, parts aren't. Primarily, it uses the modern misappropriated definition of "cult TV" -- i.e. "sci-fi/fantasy/unusual" -- rather than the appropriate origin of its meaning -- i.e. anything with a small but dedicated following, which most often happened to be SF/F. Fools.

Creator: New Scrubs not set in hospital by Lara Martin
(from Digital Spy)
A bold reinvention for the sitcom, making it part continuation, part spin-off and part reboot. Cunning.

First Look: Tim Burton's Trippy New Alice in Wonderland by Alex Billington
(from FirstShowing.net)
Stunning, but mad. Can't wait to see this.

question of the day: Are sites like Hulu and YouTube “anti-consumer, anti-media employees, and even anti-America”?
(from FlickFilosopher)
It always amuses me when someone trots out "anti-American" as if it's the be-all-and-end-all of what is good and right. Bless 'em. Still, that aside, this article has some good points about the future of all media.

Real life spaceport under construction
(from Live For Films)
So far beyond cool it hurts. A freakin' spaceport!

Wicker Man 2 - Holy Cowboys for Christ! Ewar WooWar indeed.
(from Live For Films)
They're making a sequel to the original Wicker Man. By all rights this should be appalling news, but it actually looks and sounds quite good...

Sunday, 21 June 2009


Stephen Tompkinson's African Balloon Adventure
Part 3 (of 3)
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]


Back from the Dead by Spinal Tap

It's 25 years since This is Spinal Tap hit cinemas and a pop culture legend was born, and now they're back with this new double-disc release -- in the most ludicrous packaging you've ever seen.

The CD part of the set firstly contains 11 re-recorded classic Tap songs (a cover sticker says 13, but they've done their maths wrong). This might sound a little pointless, but it turns out not so. Some songs have been re-interpreted -- (Funky) Sex Fam and (Listen to the) Flower People (Reggae Stylee), for example -- while those that are essentially the same have been beefed up, sounding much meatier than the versions on the original soundtrack CD -- Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight, Heavy Duty and Big Bottom all particularly benefit from this. All of these songs are taken from the original film soundtrack, completely ignoring 1992's Break Like the Wind. I guess someone thought (not necessarily incorrectly) that these wouldn't be familiar to casual fans and so weren't worth bothering with. Personally, I quite like that CD, and certainly miss Christmas With the Devil.

Additionally, the CD also holds 6 brand-new tracks. While the three-part Jazz Oddyssey (sic) and Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare may not immediately stick in your mind, the rest of the new stuff more than makes up for it. Title track Back from the Dead is a brilliant spoof of aging rock bands' "we're back!" songs, while Celtic Blues sets its sights on folksy music with Tap's typical accuracy. Short and Sweet primarily relies on the joke that it's the longest track on the album, while Warmer Than Hell is about the Devil visiting Earth in the midst of global warming. It begins with the instant-classic line "The Devil went to Devon" and doesn't let up.

The DVD portion is a 59-minute track-by-track interview with the band (in character, as always) that I haven't watched yet. Nor have I assembled the packaging, which is kind of neat but actually more awkward -- it doesn't look like you can easily take it down once put up, but it is clearly designed to be assembled as it's tricky to use in its default state.

The reason for Tap's enduring success may be that they do everything so well: not only are the lyrics highly amusing, but they have the musical ability to back them up in a way that is almost unnervingly convincing -- some of these tracks could be slipped on to certain genuine bands' albums and no one would notice the difference. If they weren't funny they'd just be a band; if they weren't good musicians they'd just be a comedy film. But they're both, and this set is easily the best available version of their music.

(Additionally, re-recordings in the original style for (Listen to the) Flower People and Sex Farm are available from Amazon MP3 and iTunes respectively. Apparently there was a third extra track available on their official site, though I'll be damned if I can find it.)


'Cheeky' Oasis fans demand refund
(from BBC News)
Oasis gig blighted by technical problems; on stage, Noel Gallagher tells fans they can have a refund; then when some actually try to claim it he criticises them for it. Think before you speak, eh Noel?

Marvel got “three-hour one-man show” from Thor director Kenneth Branagh by Liam
(from Filmonic)
Bodes well, methinks. I couldn't care less about a Thor movie before, and while I'm still far from straining at my leash to see it, Branagh's passioned involvement makes it massively more intriguing. Almost appealing, in fact.

Schools to rethink 'i before e'
(from BBC News)
What a silly plan. "But it's sometimes wrong!" Oh boo hoo.

This Year One Review Doesn’t Bode Well For Ghostbusters 3 by Dave
(from Filmonic)
The title offers commentary on their own review! Oh dear. Still, in amongst an awful lot of repetition and other ticks of poor writing, they make some good points... though the title really sums them all up.

Transfomers: Revenge Of The Fallen - Designed With 14-Year Old Boys In Mind by Owen Nicholls
(from The Projector at NME)
You've gotta love a review that contains the following quotes:
"the robots get as much characterisation as Megan Fox's cleavage."
"never have I seen a film that portrays anything with a vagina quite as insatiable for cock as the girls in this movie. As for Megan herself, I'm unsure whether Bay thinks he's her director or her gynaecologist."
"lets not get carried away thinking this is exploitation, it's just stupid. So forget the brain, switch off pain receptors and go and enjoy two-and-a-half hours of fun."
It has some intelligent points to make too (believe it or not), but while they're equally well-observed they're not half as funny.

new review at 100 Films

Lethal Weapon (1987)
the plot is full of holes, especially as it heads towards the climax. There’s also no mystery — the investigation is just an excuse to string together action set pieces and comedic buddy scenes, neither of which are much cop, and most of the story is conveyed in a couple of info-dumps that supporting characters volunteer for no reason.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 17 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Saturday, 20 June 2009


Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow
1x03 Birmingham
Including a brilliant bit on the stupidity of political correctness. And another excellent bit too, but I can't remember it at all now.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
[#37 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]
Really enjoyed this. I do like film noir and have seen a few, but I really ought to make a great effort to see more.


Live in Ukraine by Queen + Paul Rodgers

Despite touring as Queen + Paul Rodgers for a number of years now, this is the first time I've bothered to listen to them doing primarily classic Queen material. This particular gig is notable as much for its technical achievement and huge audience (both live and on TV) as it is for the material being performed: "Over 350,000 Ukrainians came to see them play and more than 10 million homes watched the show live on television. In all, more than 20 million took part."

Rodgers unsurprisingly makes for a very different sound to former frontman Freddie Mercury, wisely choosing to do the classic material in his own way rather than imitate the inimitable. This means some tracks sound like semi-covers -- drastically different vocals over familiar musical arrangements, with Brian May's equally inimitable guitar shining through as ever. Again unsurprisingly, Rodgers' versions aren't as good as Mercury's -- these songs were made for Freddie's distinctive voice, and its telling some songs have been deliberately avoided because Rodgers simply can't do them.

Rodgers is more than competent and I don't mean to criticise him too strongly, but its undeniable that where Freddie was irreplaceably unique, Rodgers is simply very good. On his own material and the new Queen + Paul Rodgers songs he fares better through the lack of comparison, while some of the classic material do make for reasonable (though, yes, still inferior) alternatives. The standout track is a heartfelt and moving rendition of AIDS anthem Say It's Not True. (As well as the 28 tracks available on the CD and DVD, two come only as online exclusives: A Kind of Magic from Amazon MP3 and Radio Ga Ga from iTunes.)

I hear the Queen + Paul Rodgers act has now ceased, an amicable split because it was only every meant to be temporary arrangement. Hopefully this means May and Roger Taylor will continue to find new frontmen and go on touring and producing new albums, because there's certainly life in this old Queen yet.


From Our Own Correspondent: Iran police clash with protesters - Analysis by John Simpson
(from BBC News)
"After a week of unprecedented mass protests in Iran over the presidential election results, the BBC's John Simpson reflects on the parallels between the 1979 revolution and current events."
A very informative and interesting perspective on the current events in Iran.

On a completely different note...

Review of Spinal Tap, Back from the Dead by Andy Gill
(from The Independent)
I find it impossible to tell if Gill gets the joke (and doesn't care for it), or has just missed it entirely.

Friday, 19 June 2009


The Sandbaggers
3x01 All in a Good Cause
It feels a long while since I last watched any Sandbaggers (it's been almost five months, in fact), but now's rather appropriate timing: it's 29 years to the month since these episodes originally aired. The plot of this episode is astoundingly complicated, even for The Sandbaggers, but in the modern climate of simplistic and over-explained drama it remains a refreshing change of pace. Even when not at its best, it's certainly one of my favourite TV series ever.

That Mitchell and Webb Look
3x01 Episode 1
3x02 Episode 2
As with any sketch show, the quality of Mitchell and Webb can be variable -- or, indeed, hit and miss. That said, their hit rate is well above average. Their self-referential sketches and TV spoofs are particularly good, including an Apprentice-related one that I sincerely hope many Apprentice fans saw.
Incidentally, I missed the second series of Mitchell and Webb because it clashed with something (I guess in pre-iPlayer-on-TV days) -- I still have it all downloaded somewhere. Ought to actually watch it really...
[Watch both episode one and episode two on iPlayer.]


Angelina Wanted Again by Owen Williams
(from Empire)
"reports are coming in that wunderkind Russian director Timur Bekmabetov is planning to bring Angelina Jolie back for Wanted 2." For anyone who saw the first film, this will undoubtedly provoke a bit of a "hm" reaction.
More worryingly, in fact: "No mention of James McAvoy". Oh.

Bruno gets 18 certificate by Mayer Nissim
(from Digital Spy)
Though to enjoy it you'll need a much lower mental age.

Comparing cameras: iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S by Eric Steil III
(from betanews)
The 3G S's camera is a massive improvement -- it's like comparing a phone camera to a real camera. But, as far as I'm concerned, the thing's still a phone -- if I wanted a great camera, I'd buy a camera. So I'm not one for the upgrade, no.

Fans cause Pattinson cab accident
(from BBC News)
"Twilight star Robert Pattinson was hit by a taxi in New York as he tried to run away from a crowd of teenage fans... The actor's security guards were... heard shouting: "You see what you did, you almost killed him.""
Ah, Twilight fans. Lovely people.

Indy 5 Is A Go! by Phil de Semlyen
(from Empire)
Producer Frank Marshall expands on Shia LaBeouf's comments. Note: there's not even a script yet.

Shyamalan still keen on Unbreakable sequel by Tim Parks
(from Digital Spy)
He keeps saying that -- I wish he'd just get on and make it!
Incidentally, the original is now 9 years old; and with Airbender keeping Shyamalan busy 'til 2010, presumably no Unbreakable 2 before about 2012 -- when it will, obviously, be 12 years old. Crikey.

Stephen Fry: How I lost six stones in just six months by Tim Oglethorpe
(from Mail Online)
In spite of the nastily tabloid title, this is actually an interview with Mr Fry, and therefore of course has some bits of interest.

new review at 100 Films

Glory (1989)
it would be easy to slide into Issue of the Week melodrama in handling such a tale, but Zwick manages it without undue sentiment — there’s an appropriate realisation of the importance of events, perhaps even occasional reverence, but time is taken to show doubts and prejudices.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

There are currently 17 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

Poem of the Week: Sonnet 130

by William Shakespeare

I don't think I've included any Shakespeare in Poem of the Week before. Here's his debut then, as something of a break from all the modern comic poetry of recent weeks -- though the Bard's not necessarily at his most serious as he "mocks the conventions of the garish and flowery courtly sonnets in its realistic portrayal of his mistress."

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,—
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
      And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
      As any she belied with false compare.

For more information on this sonnet, try Wikipedia and its associated links.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


3x01 Our Father
Welcome back, Dexter Morgan, you have been missed! And I'm only starting it 8 weeks later than FX, but at least they were speedy on picking up from the US this year (only seven months since season two ended) so it's not been as long in total. I don't get FX, but the advantage of having acquired this season via, uh, other means is that I'm watching it in HD. Oo-ooh.
Not the show's greatest-ever episode, but a solid start to a new story. I admire Dexter's ability to come up with a new primary narrative while also managing ongoing character-based plots, something even the almighty Wire fumbled with in its second season.

Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
1x03 Our Bounties Ourselves
Not as good as the first two, but it had its moments.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Mentalist
1x13 Paint it Red
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]


The Apartment (1960)
[#36 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]


Ghostbusters 3 to avoid Indy problems by Simon Reynolds
(from Digital Spy)
"...they hope" ends that headline, because it's not like they have a specific plan.

House movie heads up season six by Dan French
(from Digital Spy)
Be warned: huge spoilers for UK-pace viewers.

Mission: Impossible IV confirmed for 2011 by Simon Reynolds
(from Digital Spy)
For all their faults I like the Mission: Impossible films, so I welcome this news.

Nolan 'won't return for more Batman'
Nolan 'may still direct Batman 3'
by Tim Parks (from Digital Spy)
"Chris Nolan probably isn't directing another Batman!"
"He might be!"
Proof you can spin many news stories out of... well, nothing.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


The Call of Cthulhu Trailer
Just received this on DVD and it looks great -- a faithful H.P. Lovecraft adaptation (a rare thing, I'm told) done in the style of early silent cinema by a group of die-hard fans. You can watch the trailer online here, or read more about it from this very site.

The Knack ...And How to Get It (1965)
[#34 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]

Son of Rambow (2007)
[#35 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]


Brand New Inglourious Basterds Poster by Emily Phillips
(from Empire)
That is cool. Click to see it super-large.

Click to enlarge

Is Michael Sheen Blofeld In Bond 23? by Chris Hewitt
(from Empire)
"No," basically, but it amazes me how many people went around reporting it as fact -- it originated in a tabloid for crying out loud!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Friday Night With Jonathan Ross
16x19 (12/6/09 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


10 reasons gamers should be excited about iPhone 3.0 by Stuart Dredge
(from Pocket Gamer.co.uk)
I couldn't care less about most of their main reasons, but that little "oh, and also" bit at the bottom -- those are all the best bits for me.

MacLachlan to resurrect Twin Peaks? by Tim Parks
(from Digital Spy)
I love Twin Peaks, but I'm not sure this sounds like a great idea.
Also, Digital Spy is a British site, yet casually state that "Twin Peaks ran on ABC from 1990 to 1991" -- an American network which your average British reader may very well not be familiar with; and how about which channel and timespan it was on in the UK, eh? DS is far, far too desperate to be American-esque (their headlines are the same, frequently using commas when British style would be to use "and").

Science Friction by Jason Arnopp
(from Doctor Who Magazine #407)
aka "That Bidmead Interview" -- yep, I finally got round to reading it. It was certainly very interesting, and while he's clearly up himself and arguably wrong about what makes good Doctor Who, he also has some very good and well-reasoned points to make about the relaunched series' flaws.

Sheen to play next Bond villain? by Tim Parks
(from Digital Spy)
Sounds like a load of tabloid rumour-mongering to me, though Michael Sheen is excellent and would be a benefit to any film.

Shia LaBeouf talks Indy 5! by Owen Williams
(from Empire)
Looks like it's happening. Though it took Lucas decades to agree with anyone else last time (throwing out lots of apparently great scripts in the process), so we'll see.

new review at 100 Films

The Great Dictator (1940)
The style of humour can date, but The Great Dictator remains funny — arguably the real test of a good comedy. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but that’s a problem comedy faces whenever it’s made. Chaplin loads the film with inventive and timeless routines, like the upside-down-plane, the coin-in-the-pudding, or the classic dance with an inflatable globe.

Read the full review at 100 Films.

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

Monday, 15 June 2009


8 Out of 10 Cats
8x02 (12/6/09 edition)

Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow
1x02 Manchester
Nearly everyone on this is brilliant! A fantastically entertaining show.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Robin Hood
3x11 The Enemy of My Enemy
A decent enough episode -- though Lara Pulver's Isabella, who the writers now seem to be trying to make like Prince John, is a weak link -- but it was thoroughly overshadowed by the stonking trailer for next week's Season Finale Part 1. Looks ace.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


20 Mainstream Films Banned Around The World
(from Total Film)
Not really as exciting as it might sound -- they are, of course, all banned for no good reason by countries with ludicrous regimes.

Coldplay 'very likely' for New Moon by Lara Martin
(from Digital Spy)
Another reason to hate Twilight.

If Finding Nemo and WALL-E had human characters
(from Live For Films)
Mostly quite good, though not sure of the rendition of WALL-E himself. The Finding Nemo ones are great though.

Primeval dropped by ITV by Mark Sweney
(from guardian.co.uk)
No surprise considering its steady drop in quality (and audiences). Interesting that even suggestions of a co-production couldn't save it though. Normally I hate when a show is cancelled on a cliffhanger, however bad the show itself, but Primeval's was so weak I think we can all easily imagine how it was resolved.

Review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by Nick de Semlyen
(from Empire)
See here for more.

Six new Red Dwarf episodes a possibility by Narin Bahar
(from SFX)
Great news (on the day the Back to Earth DVD hits shops).

Empire slates Transformers 2

Review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by Nick de Semlyen
(from Empire)

I quite liked the first Transformers, but it sounds like this sequel might be a typically Bayian step too far.

It all looks good on paper, as does the added-value 150-minute run time. But it’s a case of same meal, bigger portion, with the flaws of the first not only present but accentuated. You’ll be even more hard pressed at the end of this one to remember which robot’s which...

Long before the final minute it’s become a numbing, wearying viewing experience... the novelty factor and some of the charm’s gone.

Sunday, 14 June 2009


Have I Got News For You
37x08 (12/6/09 edition; uncut repeat) [season finale]
Though it went by without fanfare, this is apparently the last episode of HIGNFY for now. Shame.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Stephen Tompkinson's African Balloon Adventure
Part 2 (of 3)
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]


3:10 to Yuma by Livius
(from Riding the High Country)
Excellent comparative criticism of the 1957 original and 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma.

Torchwood has succumbed to the story arc craze by Jonathan Wright
(from TV & Radio Blog at guardian.co.uk)
An hilariously poorly argued and thought-through article. The comments quickly become the best bit, especially when they get on to costume dramas. The ease with which the article's stupidity can be identified almost makes you feel sorry for its author... except, of course, it's his own damn fault.

Saturday, 13 June 2009


A lot of Grand Designs and Grand Designs Revisited. I have no idea which episodes, but I wound up sitting through quite a few.

Two snippets of Primeval 'news' though:

  • New star Jason Flemyng thinks the show is "sort of silly, but after the wedding...needs must!" And, posting on a fan forum, he adds, "guess you guys will be pleased though, its 10 eps....quality is sorta ok...think i just about get away with it... Its a bit silly,but it paid for the wedding!" High opinions there. (Sourced from here.)
  • Secondly, Ben Miller yesterday mentioned via his twitter that the show had been cancelled. There's been no other confirmation though.
  • Articles

    Stay tuned for the first Transformers 2 review I've seen, at the end of this post...

    7 Remakes That Should Be Remade by Sam Ashurst
    (from Total Film)
    A fairly amusing feature, notable for including the complete 90-minute Turkish Star Wars as an embedded video (on this page).

    Neal Purvis, Robert Wade And Peter Morgan To Write Bond 23 by Matt Weston
    (from CommanderBond.net)
    The first official bit of news about the next Bond film. Hurrah!

    Review: Jude Law in Hamlet by Caroline Briggs
    (from BBC News)
    The BBC's review, plus a summary of the papers'. Consensus seems to be he's not as good as David Tennant -- no surprises there. My favourite comes in the last review quoted however:
    "The knives were out for Law from the moment it was announced that he was taking on the title role. Now they can be sheathed... Law's performance is detailed and powerful."
    Amusing, because most of the other critics seem to be sticking those knives in...

    Review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by Mark Samuels
    (from Total Film)
    "Before a single reel of film had unspooled on the original Transformers, executive producer Steven Spielberg was confident enough to predict there would be “many, many more” adventures for Hasbro’s clanking ensemble of robots in disguise. “But,” he added, “we’re going to make the best one first...” Two years on... Revenge Of The Fallen proves the Beard right."
    Keep up with Transformers 2 reviews here.

    new review at 100 Films

    Another new review at 100 Films today. Only having three FilmJournal links on the DVD Times front page now certainly spurs my posting on.

    Solaris (2002)
    A slow pace and obtuse storytelling that leaves plenty of gaps for the audience to fill is not the experience implied by an advertising campaign showing a Space Movie starring Movie Star Heartthrob George Clooney. Obviously it doesn’t fulfill these expectations, and will likely have still been too slow and difficult for even more viewers.

    Read the full review at 100 Films.

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

    Friday, 12 June 2009


    Friday Night With Jonathan Ross
    16x18 (5/6/09 edition)
    Last week's edition, which caused such a stir on twitter.

    Stephen Tompkinson's African Balloon Adventure
    Part 1 (of 3)
    Never has a title so succinctly summarised a series.
    [Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]


    I Stole Your Images and Now I'm Suing You by Mike Lynch
    (from Mike Lynch Cartoons)
    Possibly the most ludicrous email you will ever read (and you have to read it, it's brilliant).

    Manson: 'Columbine lost me everything' by David Balls
    (from Digital Spy)
    "Marilyn Manson has insisted that being associated with the Columbine massacre has significantly damaged his career... 'Blaming me for [Columbine] was ridiculous,' he told Kerrang." And he's right, really.

    A pair of shorts for summer

    Two new reviews of short films have been posted over at 100 Films today...

    The Wraith of Cobble Hill (2005)
    there’s no reason that any story shouldn’t be told in animated form… but sometimes, you have to wonder if it’s the best choice for the job. The Wraith of Cobble Hill is a perfect example for this debate as its modern, urban story seems to clash with the cartoonish style employed to bring it to the screen.

    The Lunch Date (1990)
    to attempt to describe the plot would be to give too much away, which would be a mistake because this is a beautifully shot (in grainy black & white) and performed tale with a distinct, yet subtle, character arc and an important, but not over-egged, moral message.

    Read the full reviews at 100 Films.

    There are currently 17 new films in the review pipeline at 100 Films. As ever, updates here as and when they're posted.

    Poem of the Week: Limerick

    by Roger McGough

    Apologies for missing Poem of the Week last week. We're back on track with this:

    Back in April I featured a poem from McGough's latest collection, Slapstick, called Gateway to the Atlantic. Here's another from that collection, which in part provided the inspiration for a couple of poems in my recently-submitted-for-assessment collection. I may share those here when the marks come back.

    Anyway, back to McGough:

    A poet passing through Limerick
    Determined to write a fine limerick
    He worked day and night
    But try as he might
    He never got the hang of the limerick.

    Clever, eh? Though some won't be impressed. Just wait 'til you see mine...

    As mentioned above, Limerick is taken from Slapstick (aka Slapstick Poems), McGough's 2008 collection published by Puffin.

    Thursday, 11 June 2009


    Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
    1x01 Wench Trouble
    1x02 Golden Powers
    As with Hugh Laurie last Friday, this has become another twitter trend to cause confusion amongst Americans. Bless 'em.
    [Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

    The Mentalist
    1x12 Red Rum
    I've just twigged that Patrick Jane's grin of glee when he encounters something interestingly unusual reminds me very much of a certain Time Lord.
    [Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]