Monday, April 30, 2007

James is unwell

hey everyone

well, quite a weekend!! James has been rather ill for most of it. he's had a high temperature and a fever.

a couple of trips to the hospital and back has given us a wide range of medication that, whilst he does not in any way, shape or form like taking, seem to be helping. he is more or less back to his normal self!

well done to Mummy for giving him the medicine, and for looking after him day and night!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert Downey Jnr Officially Indestructible?

hey everyone

here's Robery Downey jnr entering the world of the comic book films. he plays someone called Iron Man in something called Iron Man, which i assume is a comic about some man made of or encased in iron?

i am quite the fan of Robert's work, both onscreen and very much off it, but i am not too excited about this one. as they have hired a very decent actor for the lead i am sure they intend for this Iron Man to be in the "more serious, mature" comic book stable of films, but yet another comic book hero in a film it fundamentally is.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Batman : Intimidation

hi everyone

after the success of Batman Begins i think everyone was looking forward to what Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale were to do with the inevitable but actually welcomed next one. it's supposed to be called Batman Intimidation, but then again so was Begins.

many of you will recall that Begins ended with a teasing image of a playing card featuring The Joker. was he going to appear in the next film, or was this a red herring?

rumours started linking some interesting choices for The Joker - Sean Pean was arguably the most exciting prospect, and Michael Keaton being linked was certainly interesting.

then statements, rather than rumours, suggested one Heath Ledger was going to get the part.

Heath Ledger? not a bad actor at all, but could he cut it as The Joker in this actually proper, darker presentation of Batman? i am not so sure, many others are not.

now we get this picture appearing on the interweb net thing :

it claims to be from the first makeup tests of Heath as The Joker. it looks dubious to say the least - the hand holding the colour test pattern doesn't look like it belongs to the head and body, does it? it's also got the WB logo at the bottom. why exactly would they blow up a very early, incomplete to the point of not really having started makeup shot to the size of a poster and put their logo on??

well, depending on what film sites you visit, if this pic turns out to be legit, remember that you saw it here first!

personally, i am in favour of the red herring interpretation - i think this whole "Heath Ledger as The Joker" is a massive curveball, intended to distract finding out what they are actually doing with the film. this is based more on Christopher Nolan doing this with all his other projects rather than any substantial info.

whatever happens with Batman Intimidation in regards of plot, actors and so on, well, as indicated, Christopher Nolan is one of the few directors you can trust to deliver something most excellent.

and on that note,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

300 = 100 wasted minutes

there has been a lot of excitement, fuss and enthusiasm for this film 300 of late, so we had a look at it. Michele is of the impression that it is a rather good film and would reccomend it. i am not and would not, quite frankly.

whereas people are celebrating the fact that it was all done on one stage (or perhaps two) with the backgrounds added in digitally, i cannot for the life of me see how this is a wonderful thing if it is always so blatantly obvious that you are looking at a false set that it is distracting.

ah, you say, i should be concentrating on the plot and acting, not looking for flaws. well, it would be nice to do that, but the plot is so mind numbingly one dimensional and simple it is tiresome, and the acting looks like it has been done by a group of actors who know only too well that they are, to all intents and purposes, about to be inserted into a cartoon.

the filmmakers claimed that they "never intended this to be historically acurate". oh, really? then why use the name and mythology of the Spartans at all? why not make something up completely from scratch? too complicated, is it? the interweb network thing is no doubt littered with sites lambasting the historical folly of 300, i shall not bore you further with them in a film review.

the much lauded and heralded action scenes? dull, tedious, repetitive, dull, tedious, repetetive. nothing new here whatsoever, and they manage to be exceedingly unimaginative with their cloning of other mythological battle films.

300 does nothing but underline the fact that Troy was a masterpiece of cinema, horribly underrated by the world. blimey, 300 makes something like Red Sonja look original and authentic.

i understand that my view on 300 will be a minority one. but don't be fooled into thinking you simply have to find this film cool or brilliant.

Brett Anderson

much like the new Manic Street Preachers album, it seems that Brett Anderson's solo debut is causing one or two mixed reviews. not sure why, really.

although some of the lyrics are Suedesque ("plastic people still bother Brett), this is quite a departure from vintage, classic Suede stuff. predominantly acoustic and certainly "mellow" at heart is the way we go here. i quite like it, too.

Brett has moved on from she who sells meat, she who sells heart, and no longer asks what turns her on. Brett likes a nice night in, maybe some wine, and a chill session. no bad thing, we all "mature" i guess. grow up or get old just seems wrong, as there is kick in the album every now and then.

should you try this? well, here's what you need to ask yourself before you do :

* do you like male vocals that are not whiny, nasal soppy things a la James Blunt, James Morrison and so on?

* did you like Suede mostly for Brett Anderson's voice?

* did you find Suede "a waste of a good vocalist"?

* do you enjoy music that doesn't treat you like an idiot, but yet does not preach to you and bang on about current world headlines?

answer yes to any of the above and go for it. i would reccomend starting with the single Love Is Dead, mind - particularly the CD single with Clowns as an extra track.

on that note, no particular song stands head and shoulders above the rest on this album - they are all seemingly treated the same, nothing is clearly punted or presented as intended to be "the big hit".

if Brett Anderson has called his album Brett Anderson because this is who he is, then the man is a very decent chap indeed, not to mention the obvious amount of talent. money, and most importantly time, invested in this CD is a wise investment.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Send Away The Tigers

OK, if you have "done a google" and are at this site looking to download Send Away The Tigers by the Manic Street Preachers, hit the back button and try again. it's not here. sorry if that annoys you.

this album is released relatively soon, and thanks to a tip-off from a good friend, i have been able to hear it. i was somewhat dubious about hearing it, as there have been several negative reviews - some from people who would rather lose limbs than live without the Manics.

is the album any good? yes it is. a masterpiece? no. the worst thing ever done by the Manic Street Preachers? no. is there any point to it? possibly, possibly not.

i have played it through three times now, and the above suggests that i am still somewhat undecided. it is nowhere near as bad as some have made out. but that doesn't make it easy to define.

to compare to aspects of their back catalogue, it's punky but not as punky as Generation Terrorists (punk itself is seldom as punky as that one), not as dark as The Holy Bible (what is?), not as accessible as Everything Must Go, not as frustrating as Know Your Enemy and does not contain any bona fide classics in an otherwise album, a la Lifeblood (1985 being a personal favourite).

their claim that it is about, amongst other things, the liberation of Bhagdad zoo and Tony Hancock, is nonsense. it's a collection of songs rather than an album. each song has its merits of faults, but they are not really well connected; disconnected but not disjointed is the better way of describing it. i mean, it flows OK through the stereo, but it's not an "experience" like other Manics efforts.

dangerously at times they simply borrow favourite bits, be they a guitar rift or bassline, and slap it together to make a new song. In certain instances, and Your Love Alone Is Not Enough springs to mind, they just lift entire lyrics from the past and present them as new. James, Nicky, Sean - you did a song called You Stole The Sun From My Heart, the line was fine in that song along.

standout tracks? nothing thus far has demanded the "back" button on the CD player, but i am just not sure if that's because none are that far above average or if it's just because i am lazy. Autumn Song and I Am Just A Patsy are pretty good, as is the imminent single Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, despite the flaws and borrowed bits.

bad tracks? well, Underdogs is no classic, and i am not at all surprised that this one was given away on their site (see previous posts). and i have no idea what the cover of Lennon's Working Class Hero was thrown on for. there have been many versions before, and this one does not hold its weight against any of them. why does it exist? a dig at someone or other? a dig at Lennon himself? they did, after all, used to sing "i laughed when Lennon got shot" before they got all mature and dropped the line from Motown Junk.

Send Away The Tigers is extremely unlikely to attract many new Manics fans, and it might cost them one or two die hard types. upon release, however, a copy shall be sat on my shelf and it will get played every now and then. the recent solo efforts appear not to have influenced the "new direction" much, save for the odd vocal from Nicky Wire on the album.

overall, i am happier to live in a world where there is a new Manic Street Preachers album. if buying this album keeps the Manics in the world, i request that you then go and buy it. their demise has been exaggerated, there's still something manic and something a bit preachy within them yet.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

2007 - a year for promising tunes!!

2006 was a pretty depressing year artistically. no really mindblowing films, no great new works of literature and, sadly, not a good deal of music to get excited about.

2007 looks a good deal more promising, musically at least!!

my signed (!!) copy of Brett Anderson's debut solo single, Love Is Dead, arrived recently. and i am delighted that it has. a different approach from the "pop trash" days of Suede, both musically and vocally. Brett takes on a different tone here - i mean, you know it's him, but he sounds here unlike a conventional Suede track, except maybe The Chemistry Between Us. a great song - no idea how the charts in the UK work these days with all this download business and what not, but i hope it is a success for the lad. i am looking forward to the solo album, entitled Brett Anderson for good measure.

in the mean time, if you see them, why not purchase one or both of the CD singles, or just the tracks online, if you live in a country where iTunes sells tracks? for some reason they won't sell to us here in SA!!

the Manic Street Preachers return to the airwaves in 2007, after the two solo ventures in 2006. James Dean Bradfield & Nicky Wire's respective solo efforts were probably just about the best things on offer last year, but it is nice to see them back as a band.

their new album, Send Away The Tigers, is due in May, if i am not mistaken. it seems that they have reverted to the era of The Holy Bible for image and style, as we have the reverse "R" being used again. i hope this is not an indication of them being lazy with this record!

thus far i have only heard one track of this album, The Underdogs, which if you click on the name of you should be transported to their own interweb net thingie on which you can download it for free. i am undecided on the basis of this track, really. it sounds like a "throwaway" song at the moment, something which would be a 4th track on the 3rd single released. their stuff does tend to grow rather than instantly hit you, mind. i think it was only ever 1985 from them that instantly grabbed me, for somewhat sentimental reasons.

if these two developments were not enough, there is of course the small matter of IAN BROWN due to release new material very soon. the last i heard, right, his album was going to be called THE WORLD IS YOURS or something like that, and he was busy trying to get Paul McCartney to guest on it!

now, if Primal Scream and Derek Bowie could be persuaded to release something this year too, that would be most class indeed!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!

Watching the Wildlife

hey everyone

other than the pictures of James, i did take a few other pictures of the wildlife at Lory Park zoo today. it really is an amazing place, and i look forward to going along with James (and his Mummy and possibly Grandparents) again real soon!

i have included the link for their interweb net page thingie above, please click on and support if you can!!

here is a magnificent Bengal Tiger. sorry about the bars in the picture - i got as close as i dare to take a picture. he or she did not look at all happy about having his or her bath and play in the pool being disturbed by my flash, so i took a pic and left. thankfully, it came out rather majestic. at least i think so!!

next is the crocodiles. they were mostly sleeping, or keeping cool in the water, so with no fear i took some snaps (ha ha, excuse the play on words). then one woke up and started coming along to me. here is the pic of that moment, just before i retreated to a somewhat safer distance!!

finally, here is the bit where a man brought a tiger up to the restaraunt and let the tiger have a drink of milk!! quite a beautiful creature, but i am not sure if he or she got angry the little yellow stick the zookeeper had would have done much to save many of us!

James appeared more interested in the birds hopping around than he did the tiger. odd, since he loves chasing our cats around the house!!

thanks again to all at Lory Park Zoo for having a most excellent place to go and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!

a Gary Busey film?

hey everyone

we recently picked up The Firm on DVD, and watched it for probably the first time since it was on at the cinema back in 93 or maybe 94.

it's not a bad film at all - Cruise was starting to have a go at being a proper actor, and Hackman is fantastic, despite his insistence on his name being removed from the film (see the poster below, although i think he still featured on the credits). worth seeing if for some reason you are interested in this kind of film and yet had avoided this one for about 14 years.

a point of confusion for us, though, was Gary Busey and his contribution (or lack thereof) to the film The Firm. now if you have not seen it, my observations could be considered as being spoilers. you have been warned.

Gary Busey features in The Firm for about ten minutes, split across two scenes. important scenes? maybe, but not exactly overtly demanding of a Gary Busey appearance. which is to say it is not like Sydney Pollack sat down in the production office and said "we need Busey for this or the whole project falls apart.". granted, that kind of thing is seldom, if ever, spoken of Mr Busey i suppose.

now here's the trick - despite his limited appearance, Gary Busey features in a disproportionate 33Z% of the full theatrical trailer for The Firm, and, get this, has his picture on display on the DVD menu for the special features - something that turns out to be the aforementioned trailer.

one could easily have ended up going to see The Firm on the basis that it was in fact a Gary Busey film, at least on the basis of the trailer alone. difficult as it is for many of us to comprehend, there are people out there who would actually only watch a film because of the appearance of the "Busemeister".

if you are someone who saw the film on the basis of the trailer and assumed it was the big comeback film for Gary Busey, i would be delighted to hear from you - please take the time and trouble to leave a comment.

i guess, in at least one scene, Gary Busey did make look Tom Cruise look like a proper actor in comparison. you have to remember that this was all pre Eyes Wide Shut and Magnolia, long before he had a proper director to make him actually work, so Cruise needed all the "comparatively good" performances he could land. i wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the "Cruisemeister" was personally involved in getting the "Busemeister" on board, under that circumstance.

not that i have anything against Gary Busey as such, mind. The Buddy Holly Story was of course a great movie, and he was class in Lethal Weapon as the unhinged Mr Joshua. And I do have Predator 2 on my shelf.

oh dear, now that i think about it, that makes 4 (four!) Gary Busey films i own, since i have the mentioned ones. perhaps i should purchase Point Break just so that i can say i have "the very best of Gary Busey" on DVD?

be excellent to each other, and to Gary Busey, i guess..................

Zoo Station

hey everyone

well, it was a nice sunny Sunday here in our part of the world, so we took James off to Lory Park Zoo in Midrand, reasonably close to where we live.

James & Mummy had been before, but it was my first trip. and it is an ace place!! James loves it to bits, as the pictures show!!

Meercat's (or however you spell them) are my favourite, and James seems to have taken a shine to their friendly ways too :

James was also rather taken with the parrott (or possibly cockatoo) that decided to come and take Mummy's sandwich for lunch! surely, as Mummy was having a chicken sandwich, this was kind of like cannibalism?? Mummy has just assured me that it was a parrott :

and here is James giggling away at something - quite possibly more parrotts, although he has a soft spot for the monkeys too!

we had a most excellent time there, should you be in the area it is well worth your time going!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Grandad and the King of Meals

hey everyone

i trust that this Easter weekend was a quiet, peaceful and enjoyable one for you, wherever in the world you are!!

Grandma and Grandad came to visit today, bringing with them one of the finest foods known to man, KFC

alas, it seems that they did not have any of James's most favourite favourite today, which would be Mash & Gravy. perhaps The Colonel prohibits purchase and consumption of his fine Mash on an Easter Monday?? never mind, James took a shine to The Colonel's cheesy bites, as well as a couple of bites of Grandad's crispy chicken!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Gunmen - B Grade Excellence

i was browsing around a CD & DVD store when i stumbled upon a somewhat forgotten gem from my earlier years, Gunmen. i saw it at the time (early 90's, i think) as it had my beloved Denis Leary in it. Mario Van Peebles and Christopher Lambert are the main stars, and it also features a, at the time, relatively obscure Patrick Stewart.

i am not going to even pretend to not have spoilers here, as the thing is ludicrously straightforward and surprise-free. the plot, granted with more potholes than your average Johannesburg highway, revolves around Patrick Stewart's $400 million of illegal money being on a boat somewhere in the world, with only the joint knowledge of Mr Van Peebles and Mr Lambert being put together providing the answer of exactly where in the world it is.

needless to say, as keen as Mr Lambert and Mr Van Peebles are to get the cash, Mr Stewart kind of wants it back, and thus despatches the mental, insane Mr Denis Leary to go and fetch them and the money.

Mr Lambert and Mr Van Peebles do not like each other, which does not help their quest. shooting each other in the leg so that one of them does not run away is a nice touch, and the bullet wound is not so severe that it stops them doing ace roundhouse kicks on people, nor does having a bullet wound in the leg stop either of them swimming. gravity and all we know of how the human body reacts to damage is pretty much thrown out of the window as the two of them throw themselves out of helicopters and planes on a regular basis, now that i think about it.

the star of the show for me, predictably, is Denis Leary. a very bad bad guy he is, full of ace one-liners that could have come straight from any of his one man shows rather than the script for the film, should Gunmen have actually had any sort of script. Mr Leary's final scene in the film is one of the all time greats too, sort of.....

a very silly, predictable slap-people-about film if you wish, but one that is rather good fun and hard to switch off (Michele was heading off to bed when i put it in the DVD, yet she stayed awake for it all). if you are lucky enough to find this on tape or disc, or if it happens to crop up on late night TV wherever you are in the world, you can do a lot worse than watch it!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!

Hey Mr Bassman.......

i am delighted to report that i now own a fancy "deluxe" edition of BAD NEWS by Bad News!! the CD arrived yesterday, and it looks rather smart.

the important thing with a CD, though, is how it sounds, and it sounds just as funny as it has done for over 20 years! basically, the disc is the whole of their infamous debut album Bad News, only this time seperating the funny swearing bits out from the funny metal songs. also included on the disc are the b-sides from the Bohemian Rhapsody 12", and some of the more interesting moments from the second, ill-fated album Bootleg. alas, the majesty of Heavy Metal Farmer has not made it on to this CD, but if you follow the link above you should be able to download that gem OK!

why is this funny after 20 years? why are Bad News funny at all?? who cares, really, they just are is the answer to both points.

now let me go off and listen to the advice of Bad News in regards of how best to pad your trousers. as the discussion Bad News have around padding your trousers is the only instance of them not arguing with each other, it must be solid advice!!

you gotta kick away the blues, so sing hey hey bad news..........

more James!!!

hey everyone

just a couple more pictures of James from last weekend, taking turns with Grandma and Grandad!!

here his is with Grandad - a rare shot of the two of them not pottering around building or remodelling something in the garden!!

and here he is with beloved Grandma, clearly pondering what he should shout out or talk about next!! or he could be just contemplating the bowl of profitterols (or however one spells the word) that Grandma is holding!

be excellent to each other!!!!!

an odd film

OK, before i begin this review of The Number 23, i must confess that someone went and told me the ending to it first. i will not be repeating it here, but just be mindful of the fact that my review may be less than great as most of the suspense was taken away from me. hope you are lucky enough to avoid having someone ruin it for you!

in short, Jim Carrey gets a book called The Number 23 for his birthday from his wife, Virginia Madsen. As Jim starts reading it, he begins to believe that the book is somehow based on his own life.......

and i am not sure what else to say about the plot. the good news is that Jim Carrey is back to being a decent actor, last seen as such in The Truman Show and Man On The Moon. Unlike those two fine films, there is no injustice in the lack of awards or recognition here - it is, at best, an mildly average horror/thriller flick, and at worst it is an episode of The Twilight Zone stretched too far, even at 90 or so minutes. too much of the film feels like a rehash of Secret Window, which in itself was not exactly a great of modern cinema.

as horor / thriller stuff goes, it is better than the endless junk sequels and remakes that are being turned out, but it is not as original or as innovative as it thinks it is. watch it if you are in the mood for something distinctly average, i guess!

be excellent to each other!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

naughty face? moi?

hey everyone

firstly, unless i missed something, what a dull lack of April Fool stories this year! i guess the world is taking itself too seriously these days. ho hum.

James went to visit Grandma and Grandad today. he is very much into his climbing at the moment, and his insistence on climbing on a chair allowed me to snap away with the camera, getting a couple of good pictures of him :

sorry son, Mummy says that you have my "naughty smile", which, coupled with the dimples, she says is how she knows i am up to something. i guess it means that she knows when you are up to something too!!

and in this pic it looks like you are about to make some sort of profound statement. probably along the lines of "woof woof", but maybe about to ask Grandma to stop holding you so you can get on with this climbing business!

otherwise, it feels like it was a busy weekend. helping our neighbours push a battered car uphill into a garage didn't help (long story, don't ask) and i seem to have some sort of eye infection now. i believe they are called "sties", and they are in my eyelids and are rather sore. Nurse Michele is administering some sort of liquid to them and they seem to be getting better. i don't know, i can't see them, d'oh!

i have obtained a most excellent Leatherface out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre statue. it is a version of Leatherface from the remake version, but at 12 inches high it is impressive. i still like my six inch statue of the Leatherface from the original film version, though.

on that note, James finally worked out the chainsaw engine button on his new toy (see previous posts). he has an excellent time attempting to cut open the fridge!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!