Thursday, 23 December 2010
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Sunday, 11 July 2010
Okay, so this entry has at least one foot in the "cheap and easy entry" category, but seeing as my more legitimate posting seems to have fallen behind somewhat over recent weeks this seems like a good entry to put together to get myself back into a blog writing mindset.
Monday, 28 June 2010
I've enjoyed the world cup so far - there've been some upsets, some good goals, and, of course, a good dollop of controversy too, not least on Sunday, as England and Mexico exited the competition. Both teams were the victims of mistakes which use of technology might have prevented, and in both cases, the mistakes did not matter (at least mathematically, if not temporally) to the final result. One thing that has really irked me, though, is the way that the media (specifically BBC and ITV in their live coverage and analysis) have addressed the issue of technology.
Both broadcasters have pushed the line that they cannot understand why video technology is not being used; indeed Mark Lawrenson makes this point so often and with such ferocity that it would almost be unsurprising to find a monthly cheque from the producers of Hawkeye landing on his doormat. Both broadcasters made it a major thread of their post-match discussions, but while opinion was somewhat divided amongst the pundits, there was never a strong argument made against its introduction. Those with reservations, such as FIFA, were cast in the role of Luddites, and equally mocked for their lack of foresight and demonised for the effect it had on the English team's defeat.
I find it annoying that rather than taking the opportunity to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of technology in the game, this complex issue was presented by both broadcasters as an obvious solution being held back by pencil pushing "suits". This characterisation is misleading at best and tabloid at worst, and such a visceral reaction will not have been at all persuasive to those whose votes are counted on the matter.
Also, sorry it's been so long since I posted - it's very clear now that life is getting in the way pretty much permanently. I make no promises on the timing of my next effort, but hopefully it'll be easier now that I've broken my silence.
Monday, 14 June 2010
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Saturday, 1 May 2010
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Saturday, 13 March 2010
I can't (legally) drive. I've had a few lessons so know the basics, but if it came to it and I had to drive a car any real distance along side other drivers, I'd fall apart. The problem is that there’s just too much for me to think about when driving, and I haven’t yet had enough practise for everything to become natural. If I could just steer, i’d be fine, if I could just work the pedals, I’d be fine, if I could just change gears, I’d be fine, but when I have to do it all at the same time, I can’t cope fully.
Recently, on a trip back to the homeland (Liverpool), I was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time tinkering with my good friend, Jonathan Mullin’s Mini. This was about as awesome as you can get for things to do. I love Minis, they’re utterly fantastic, and I love pulling things apart, so you’ll understand, I was in my element. We were working on the clutch and gear system, so we needed to see what happened when the clutch was depressed and clutch pedal, something I was keen to do, as boring as it sounds, because I got the chance to get behind the wheel of a Mini and feel like I was in control. Admittedly the car has no battery or wheels so it’s not like I was going to be going anywhere, but it was still cool. Having fiddle around with the clutch mechanism and bleeding it to remove all the air, we then went to the gears, something I was also keen to do. I remember as a youngster, getting into my parents car and practising changing gear, something I still do at 25, It felt good that I could shift from first to second to third to fourth and then into reverse, not advisable on the road of cause, without too much difficulty, which is hardly impressive. So anyway, the upshot of this is that I felt like I was driving, or at least in control of, and old, smelly Mini, which was marvellous. With luck, as Jonny and I are going to be getting a house together, we will somehow get the wheelless, broken Mini down to London so we can continue to work on it, and with luck get it to a drivable state, in which case I will be learning to drive a Mini, which will make me very happy.
In the mean time I will be learning on this
I bought this the other week and have been having fun driving around like a lunatic in the various racing game I have. It’s good fun and makes driving games much more enjoyable, if not a little harder. I’m still not at the point were I can work the gears as well as the pedals and driving, for the afore mentioned reason, but hopefully I’ll get there eventually. It’s fully equipped with force feedback, so the wheel has some weight to it and will turn itself if you hit a bump or drive on gravel, which makes it all very fun/arm straining. I’m still working out all the various nuances of the different game and driving techniques required to make it round a course without crashing or spinning or generally ruining your hopes of first place glory, but it’s all a learning process. I can hardly say that any of the techniques I’ll pick up here will transfer to actual driving, but you never know when you’ll be racing around a circuit in a high performance car.
So essentially, I’ve had the most car filled couple of weeks possible for someone who doesn’t even have a full driving license.
Monday, 8 March 2010
So, in order to get myself writing here again, I turn to one of my most favourite topics to write about: film. In that sense, it's an attempt to make my next lot of entries here somewhat easier. But looking at the task I'm setting myself, in many ways it's a hefty task to undertake. That said, the last hefty task I undertook here seemed to go pretty well by several accounts.
I'm going to attempt to pick my ten films of the past decade.
A quick Google search shows that several media outlets have already attempted to do this, giving their opinions in lists extending all the way to top one hundreds. These lists make interesting reading, with everything from Borat to Team America: World Police making it into top tens, and serve to highlight the films that have ingrained themselves into the zeitgeist of the decade and the psyche of those who lived through it. However, it's difficult to see them as anything other than subjective lists. By the very nature of what is being attempted, I fail to see how anything else could possibly be produced. But it has still spurred me on to produce my own subjective rundown of my films of the last ten years.
In the last decade, I've grown from a teenager who watches a lot of films at the turn of the century, to a twenty-something cinephile at the end of 2009. In choosing my ten, I'll attempt to bring together the films that have played the greatest roles in this journey. They won't all come from the best films of the last ten years, or my favourite films, or the films that define the decade - much more likely, they'll be a mix of all three with a handful of other factors thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, they'll be my films and nobody else's. If you agree with my choices then wonderful; if you disagree, equally wonderful. Either way, we'll have plenty to talk about.
I plan to put together a review/explanation for each of my ten films, so expect my first selection here soon (if I get my act together, later on this week).
Monday, 22 February 2010
It's been a little while - nearly a month - since anyone posted anything here, which is a shame considering the surge in activity FOTSLJW experienced at the end of '09. On my part, this is partly due to laptop problems, partly due to life getting in the way, and partly due to just being a bit crap. Seeing as the first problem is now seemingly sorted, and the second has momentarily died down somewhat (unfortunately I'm still crap though), I've got a couple of posts I plan to start working on this week if possible. But for now, to break the silence, here's a couple of "blooper reels" from an enduring ad campaign that I must admit is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. It shamelessly deploys hackneyed cliches, such as cute furry things selling stuff, and foreign accents being endlessly hilarious. But they're cute and furry! And he's got a funny foreign accent! Look at him! Listen!
Proper posts will resume shortly.
Saturday, 23 January 2010
Prayer Before Birth
I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the club-footed ghoul come near me.
I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.
I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me.
I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me, my treason engendered by traitors beyond me, my life when they murder by means of my hands, my death when they live me.
I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me to doom and the beggar refuses my gift and my children curse me.
I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God come near me.
I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton, would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with one face, a thing, and against all those who would dissipate my entirety, would blow me like thistledown hither and thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands would spill me.
Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
You know the drill (see 2008 and 2007's versions in case of any confusion). All the films released in 2009 that I saw, each reviewed in twenty five words or less and a score out of ten.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Pitt is fantastic, and Blanchett supports superbly. Absorbing with some beautiful cinematography. Highly polished and crafted. Wonderful.
The story kept me hooked from start to finish. Some powerful scenes are peppered throughout. A gritty fairytale told through high quality cinema.
Marley & Me
Very average, very safe. Wilson and Aniston are decidedly bland, with Arkin providing some relief in his scenes. Oversentimental and a bit too long.
Starts well, but loses pace and focus, concluding in an unsatisfying and preachy way. A couple of impressive disaster scenes, but ultimately poor.
Monsters Vs. Aliens
Genuinely funny all the way through, even though the story is a bit too simple. Great characters and some clever humour.
Never terrible, but never special. Efron has potential, Lennon provides a few funny moments.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Stays safe, delivering a film lacking in point or substance. The story in the opening credits would have made a much more interesting film.
Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs
Buck is an excellent addition, but some established characters feel sidelined. The Scrat segments are potentially the best we've seen.
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
Broadbent and Felton largely save a half-hearted, patchy and at times incomprehensible adaptation. Even the magic is underwhelming. Not awful, just distinctly average.
The collective charm of Reynolds and Bullock drags this below-average rom-com back up to average. One or two funny scenes, but ultimately forgettable.
Night At Tbe Museum 2
An enjoyable and lighthearted sequel that in many ways is better than the first. An endearing film that's great fun.
Land Of The Lost
Ferrell on autopilot and one-dimensional characters bumble through a second-rate parallel universe of dinosaurs and ice cream vans and make boob jokes. Lame.
The Time Traveler's Wife
Sold as a chick flick, but ultimately more than that. Flawed and at times oversimplified, but intelligent and enjoyable at the same time.
Strong casting in Bale, Worthington and Yelchin and an absorbing depiction of the post-Judgement Day world make a very enjoyable addition to the franchise.
(500) Days Of Summer
Wonderfully difficult to define. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is superb. Structurally, comedically and emotionally intelligent. Apart from an overly corny ending, an excellent film.
Sets the bar incredibly high and achieves everything it attempts. Flawless casting, astounding script and direction. A Tarantino masterpiece.
Emotional, funny, expertly crafted. The first twenty minutes are some of the finest cinema I have ever seen. Another Pixar masterpiece.
Great action sci-fi reboot. Strong cast, fairly tight script and an interesting story if somewhat oversimplified in places. Very good opening film to the franchise.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
A quirky, fun take on the Roald Dahl story. Never reaches the heights of Wes Anderson's previous films, but still worth seeing.
By-the-numbers action disaster. Impressive CGI, rubbish script, overlong story, flat characters. Just watch the best bits in the trailer.
Disappointing and dull stuff from Coogan. Realises its complete misfire too late to save itself. Some funny songs in the final act.
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
Tries to be more than an average rom-com by desecrating a Dickens' story. Fails. Michael Douglas hams it up fairly well.
Not as excruciatingly bad as it could have been; low expectations made it better. Wootton grates in every scene.
Style firmly over substance. By-the-numbers forbidden romance story set in a breathtaking CGI environment. Good action-fantasy-sci-fi. Cameron makes it work.
Not as clever as it thinks it is, slightly lacking in character depth and robustness of storyline, but a strong cast makes this very good.
And the one's I never got round to seeing:
In The Loop
The Invention Of Lying
A Serious Man
Where The Wild Things Are
The Men Who Stare At Goats
Me And Orson Welles
The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus
Is Anybody There?
Looking For Eric
So, that's 2009 wrapped up. There seem to be a lot of "best films of the decade" lists going around at the moment, so I may start work on one of those if I feel it's not beyond me and a worthwhile exercise. For now, 2010 has cinematically begun very much on a high for me with the excellent Up In The Air. Review to follow.