Thursday, August 30, 2007

28 Weeks Later

well, it feels like about 28 weeks since i updated here, so what better way to start doing updates with a film of such a name!!

to start at the beginning, 28 Days Later was one half of a very good film. it started off very nicely indeed, with the 'Rage' (i think) virus breaking out and people running away from the mayhem. The second half, however, was cheapy, nasty and rather exploitative in tone, and i didn't really enjoy it.

not so with 28 Weeks Later, which is pretty much non-stop all the way. a very cool, if somewhat preumptive, return of the virus occurs as the Americans (of all people) attempt to "control" the repopulation of the British Isles.

is the film any good? yes, it's a smart edge-of-your-seat thriller, quasi-horror film of note. by no means is it a masterpiece - there are massive holes in the plot here and there, but nothing you want to think too much about whilst you are having fun with it.

the cast is as good as a cast can be in a horror film - so few horrors allow for decent acting performances, but Robert Carlyle and the rest do a decent enough job with the material.

effects wise, well, there are one or two lazy CGI moments, but overall there's not a lot to complain about.

now then, the question - will there be a 28 Months Later in the near future? perhaps, i guess. it would be as plausible to make a sequel to this as it was to make one for the original film, so one would imagine it is in the hands of the money men and marketing types.

it's certainly not for the squeamish or feint of heart, but if you are neither of those, give it a bash. i know of someone who has never seen Days and yet managed to (sort of) keep up with Weeks, so don't let that be a barrier!!

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

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The World Is Yours

'The World Is Yours' is the 5th studio album from Ian Brown and sees the legendary Mancunian at the top of his game. A lush, orchestral workout that recalls Marvin Gaye's classic 'What's Going On', the new album is arguably Brown's best. Lyrically tough and mature – not least on first single 'Illegal Attacks' – there is a wisdom dripping out of the songs that will cement Brown’s iconic status. 'TWIY' features collaborations with Sinead O’Connor, Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones, Happy Mondays’ Paul Ryder, and The Smiths’ Andy Rourke.

In addition, there will be a Limited Edition 2CD version of the album with bonus disc featuring the Orchestral Mix of the record.

The second disc is a fascinating alternative take on The World Is Yours featuring all of Simon Hale's stunning string arrangements for each track.

sometimes a post just speaks for itself :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

the return of intelligent sci-fi

Sunshine is a welcome return from director Danny Boyle, he who made the great Shallow Grave and iconoclastic Trainspotting, but has otherwise dipped in form of late. this film, however, will drive a number of people up the wall in an equal measure to the amount of people it will entertain, like me.

if you didn't like Solaris or 2001, and if you didn't like the latter you should be banned from watching films, then do us all a favour and skip this review - you will find the film self-indulgent and preposterous. you don't like to think about movies so don't bother with this one!

the plot, at least the start of the plot, revolves around the need to "re-ignite" the sun with a massive nuclear blast. the sun is not dying, but it is weakening, leaving dear old earth in a slightly darkened state. we join Icarus 2 on their quest to deliver the massive nuclear blast, as the first Icarus presumably failed several years earlier.

and there i leave the premise. what comes along next is either an intelligent, thought-provoking journey, or it is post-modernist existential tripe, depending on how you look at this sort of thing. my money is on the first one.

there are some infuriating parts - the first 30 minutes treats you to several external shots of the spaceship thingie, presumably to remind the thick (presumably American) audience that this is a science fiction film set in space. it gets a bit like Casino Royale really, where 30 minutes or so were wasted explaining that this is the early, new James Bond. we get it already, move along please.

the dude who looks like Nicky Wire from the Manics that was in Batman Begins is in this film, and that makes it worthwhile viewing in itself. the cast is, at least to me, relatively unknown, which is a distinct advantage - you have no preconceived ideas about the type of character usually played by the actors, which adds to the suspense as the film goes along.

not light viewing, but by no means heavy either. lovers of "proper" science fiction need to seek out and watch this film as soon as possible.

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

welcome back, John McClane

well, i had my doubts about Die Hard 4 or, if you are "special" and thus are American and need your own name for it (Live Free Or Die Hard, indeed). after so many years, did we really need Brucie back in his starmaking role, especially as he didn't really look like the McClane we know and love in the posters? and could a film about chasing after computer hackers really be all that interesting?

as it turns out, it is indeed very interesting, and it is very much John McClane back. it's an odd testament to Willis as an actor, but this really is a Die Hard movie, and not just another Brucie action film with the name stuck on, and full credit to him for defining the role so well.

Michele and i were mesmerised by this one from start to finish. this is a great, great, great movie in its own right, and brings back the magic and excitement of all that an "action" movie should be, something that has been missing since, well, probably since Die Hard With A Vengeance i guess.

the real winner for it is, as i mentioned, Bruce Willis turning the part of John McClane into something not much short of character acting. nice one, good to see you clearly love the character which brought you fame and fortune. applause too for the scriptwriters, unless much of it was Brucie ad-libbing to make it "authentic", as it were.

there was huge concern, admittedly mostly from those dickheads who wet their pants at practically any opportunity on , about the fact that this was being made with a low age restriction for it. well, the film does not suffer at all because of that - there's as much action as you can handle in it, and so what if not every second word isn't a profanity? you really don't notice.

if you loved the first three Die Hard films, or if like me you liked 66% of them (Die Hard 2 was a qualified mess, made quickly to cash in and don't pretend otherwise), then you will not be disappointed at all with this gem of a film.

be excellent to each other, and, ahem, yippie-kai-yeaaaaay..................

brave cinema

if Stanley Kubrick says it is unfilmable, and if the likes of Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese have tried to have a crack at it and walked away, then perhaps conventional wisdom would be that the book in question should not be made into a film.

the book in question is Perfume by Patrick Suskind, and someone called Tom Tykwer decided to have a crack at making it into a film anyway. with headscratching results, i think.

i find it difficult to conceive of a review of this film without making references to what many could see as SPOILERS, so skip a few paragraphs after the poster if you want to avoid things like that. up front, however, i reccomend EXTREME CAUTION in watching the film, as several scenes, in particular with regards to the first 10 minutes or so, are very disturbing indeed - i nearly turned it off. to that effect, the official rating is :

Rated R for aberrant behavior involving nudity, violence, sexuality, and disturbing images.

right, on we go.....

here's the headscratching bit - Perfume is a very good film indeed, but the success of it seems to have very little to do with the novel. and yet it is a relatively faithful adaptation of Suskind's masterpiece. go figure.

the narrative of the novel was striking and intriguing because the protagonist's lack of any scent was crafted into a believable, convincing style of invisibility, evoked by an astonishing piece of literary genius. it is somewhat difficult to have on screen the same character and give him that same edge of invisibility.

and yet it all somehow works, thanks to a clearly gifted visual director and a fantastic ensemble cast performance. Dustin Hoffman gives one of his greatest ever supporting performances, and Alan Rickman actually gets to be an actor again, instead of some mindless parody of himself. and, of course, a big round of applause for the scentless apprentice himself, this Ben Whishaw chap as the lead is brilliant.

LAST OF THE SPOILERS HERE i do raise an eyebrow at the ending, however. it has been many years since i read the novel, and i gave my only copy of it to my chum Carlo. i do not recall it ending quite the same way as portrayed on film, but i cannot be certain. ho hum, it makes little difference as it would strike me as a satisfactory ending to it. SPOILERS FINISHED!!

GRAPHIC WARNING FOR THIS BITthe film opens with two attempts to kill off the protagonist, both within hours of his birth. the second such attempt is deeply disturbing indeed. so disturbing, in fact, that i doubt it will be released in the form i saw in the (ahem) copy that i watched. if you can get past these scenes, and i very nearly did not, it is worth it, but you have been warned.

so, there you have it. three of the greatest, most respected directors in the world (Kubrick of course being the greatest ever anyway) walked away from this project, and in respect of being faithful and loyal to the novel, they were right to do so. Perfume the film is a dislocated suggestion of Perfume the novel, but suffers nothing as a consequence.

i would encourage any serious film fan to watch it, and encourage those curious to see what those great directors walked away from. but i cannot stress the caution required before watching it enough.

film reviews - comedies

hey everyone

well, being at Sun City for a week with a portable DVD player, and a DVD in the room anyway, let me catch up on a handful of films. well, that's what a holiday is for in my books!!

first up is Hot Fuzz - yeah, i know it was released a while back, but it is only now that i have had the chance to see it!

as i was quite a fan of Shaun Of The Dead, and let us be honest who has seen it and didn't like it, i was keen to see what the same chaps did with their next film. i was delighted to see that Hot Fuzz carries on in a similar vein. a, if you will, typical English comedy, the kind which my old homeland used to make with ease before they got obsessed with adopting Americanisms to try and crack the U$$$$$A market. here there is more than one passing dig at the Yankees, but no doubt they will fly over their heads anyway.

it was a delight to see so many of the English acting aristocracy in here - Edward Woodward, Timothy Dalton and Kenneth Cranham to name but three, the rest of them i think would be akin to me giving spoilers here.

rather rib-tickling in places, but approach with caution - some of the OTT violence in it is just about as stomach turning as you can get these days, and it certainly isn't intended as family viewing. however, for an evening in with a pizza and a few cans, or whatever you drink, it's hard to knock this film for the more level, broadminded film fan.

the other comedy we watched was one grabbed at the last minute, something called Epic Movie. looking at the cover, i was concerned that our lack of film watching of late would preclude us from understanding some of the things being parodied, but we gave it a try anyway.

Epic Movie is no classic. it is clear that it had a considerably low budget, and when Crispin Glover is your big star, as much as i love the chap, you know you are watching either a multiplex filler or a direct to DVD job.

that said, i cannot really criticize the film all that much. it had one or two rather fun moments about it, and didn't pretend to be anything other than a silly go at some silly films. we watched it after we had packed up in anticipation of driving home the next day, so it was rather welcome, easy going viewing, really. give it a try if you have seen all the other comedies in the store or in your collection, or are just looking for 80 minutes of very light relief.

in the words of a somewhat superior comedy to the latter review, be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

attempt at a family pic!!

well, with it being just the three of us, it was tricky to get a pic of us all on holiday. here is the best i could manage, with me holding the camera at arm's length.

the flash kept reflecting on my lenses, hence me not wearing them for the only pic from this self-photography experiment that is worth keeping!!

be excellent to each other!!!

more from Sun City

oh, go on then, since blogger seems to be allowing posts with ease for a change, here are a some more pics!!

whilst James was too small to go on a pony or horse ride, there was no reason for him not to go and say hello to them!

Sun City is famous for the world class breakfasts they have. you can have anything you want. Whilst Dada had sausages, beans, bacon, crossiants, scones, etc, etc, and Mama had omletes, toast covered in honey and yoghurt, what did James want?

apples!! James is a bit of a fruit freak - he loves his bananas and apples, as well as the odd bit of strawberry yoghurt. and who are we to stand in the way of his healthy eating, that's one of us at least!!

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

Sun City

hi everyone

well, unless disaster strikes as i post, it seems i can once again add pictures here!!

we have been up at Sun City for the last week, celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary. sorry, we had far too much fun and too much of a good time to worry about taking pictures, but we did snap a few!!

here's James wandering around the pool area, an area he somewhat loved a very great deal...

don't worry, i assure you i was right next to him, and at all times in the water either i or Mama was well within reach of him. no swimming yet, but he loved wading around in the paddle pool, splashing away!!

and here he is with me at the miniature zoo that they have up at Sun City. James loved going to see the monkeys every day, as well as the little baby piglets and the baba goat there. there were also horse and pony rides, but he was too small for them. oh well, maybe next year!!

i think it would take forever to list all that we did at Sun City, but a nice easy summary is that we had enormous fun and an amazing time!!

it was also somewhat exhausting running around after him, and with a long-ish drive home today, i am very tired and cannot write too much more!!

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

Thursday, August 02, 2007

quick update

hey everyone

well, i am trying to upload some new pics of James, but blogger does not want to upload them right now, it seems!!

will keep trying - otherwise, all is well here!!

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