Monday, June 29, 2009

beware the moon, lads. and beware the remake

hey everyone

well, this sounds like a remake too far. the interwebnet thingie is buzzing with tales of a proposed remake of the brilliant, just under 30 years old classic film An American Werewolf In London. i suppose the only surprise, going on just how many films tend to be either remakes these days, is that it has taken them so long to have a go at this.

the conventional initial reaction to a remake would be "oh no, not again", followed by "i am not going to go and see this". well, in regards of the latter, clearly some people are going to see these remakes; enough at least to make enough money for them to keep churning them out.

in fairness, sometimes the remakes are not all that a bad idea - the recent efforts at "restarting" classics like Firday 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre could at the least be seen as attempts to reclaim the films and their reputation from some rather horrid, cheap and cheerful sequels. even then, though, you get the problem - as respectable as those efforts might very well have been, they simply do not live up to the quality of the original.

there has, in a sense, already been a remake of this particular classic, as the rather rubbish An American Werewolf In Paris had little to do with being a follow-on from the original, and everything to do with simply re-telling the story (poorly) in a different city and replacing the astonishing special effects of the original film with some horrid computer generated (of if you will 'CGI') man to wolf transformations.

the original film was outrageously funny, scary (i didn't sleep properly for weeks after seeing it) and dazzling in regards of the astonishing transformation of David Kessler into a werewolf. no werewolf film before or since has shown the transformation quite like it, certainly not as terrifyingly or, most importantly, in such a believable way. if the sequel failed to capture the humour or the horror, it's difficult to see how a straight remake is going to manage it.

beyond the special effects, the biggest problem any remake faces is trying to cast this. the original was a real, if perhaps accidental, ensemble effort - even the most minor parts were cast and played to exceptional levels - even dear old Rik Mayall sat playing chess in the pub! who on earth they could find to 'replace' or cast in the roles made famous by David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter and Brian Glover will be interesting to see.

if this remake goes ahead, and nothing has been confirmed as of yet, i will no doubt see it out of curiosity. that said, it was the same kind of curiosity that led me to watch the remake of The Wicker Man. you kind of knew that they wouldn't quite get it right in recreating that one, and so it was. we can only hope that they either deliver a decent homage to this much loved classic, or at least clock that they can't deliver anything close to the original and thus ditch the project.

stick to the roads, lads, and beware the moon..................

Friday, June 26, 2009

fare thee well

hey there

well, there's really only one subject all are talking about today, and that's the sudden, shocking passing of one of the greatest talents the world has ever seen, Michael Jackson.

for those of us fortunate enough to have been there growing up in the 80s he will be fondly remembered for entertaining us in ways the likes of which we had never seen before and are unlikely to see again. his music was never short of spectacular, delivering classic hit after classic hit.

the fondest memory i have is probably the status symbol some had of actually owning the video Making Michael Jackson's Thriller. in the summer of 1983, you didn't really "own" videotapes - you rented them, or possibly had one or two films recorded off tv. this one was one of the first videos you could walk into a store and buy and keep forever. we never owned it, but those who did were seen as being very lucky to do so, and regularly had visitors to watch it.

close to that would be the sheer buzz surrounding the release of Bad in 1987. i vividly remember hearing the lead single, I Just Can't Stop Loving You, for the first time on the radio system aeroplanes had back then when returning with the family from a holiday (Portugal, i think?). then, of course, the release of the album itself - the night before we were treated to the world premiere of the Bad video, directed by no less than Martin Scorsese. not as immediately stunning as Thriller, but then what could be you have to ask, and then the next day finding the HMV in Middlesbrough stocked with pretty much nothing else but the album.

as for the allegations which dogged the man from the early 90s onwards, well, i always found it rather peculiar that the parents of those children were rather far more interested in money than they were following the course of law and justice.

there are of course a number of people pouring scorn and contempt on this, and indeed spreading what has become obligatory and often poor "jokes". no judgement or crictism from me for those doing this - all i can say is i, and many others, envy you in a sense, as clearly your world isn't that little bit sadder today. i would indeed feel sorry for those who are doing this too, as they are obviously from a time and generation devoid of the magic and thrill of a genuine, true superstar. if you don't have it, you never know what you missed, i guess.

Michael was a man denied the private, "normal" life that i would presume the majority of the readers of this take for granted. in return, he was a superstar that shone as bright as any star could, and entertained not millions but billions. any and every lover of music owes him a thank you, and this brief teardrop of a tribute in the ocean of praise for the man today is mine.

be excellent to each other.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

meet (possibly) Elvis Inzitatus Amadeus......

hey everyone

well, we've been sitting with a little secret on our side! we were going to get around to mentioning this when the time felt right. apparently, the time felt right for our beloved sister-in-law, Erika, as she decided to make something of an announcement for us in a rather public forum!

ladies and gents, behold! the imminent new edition to our family!

we are at 16 weeks, and all very excited!! baby & Mummy are doing fine, the doctor is very happy with progress thus far.

names are being a bit of a problem - my idea of Elvis Inzitatus Amadeus has not been as well received as i had hoped, and James has rather helpfully suggested calling the baby Batman, Superman or Green Lantern. or Batman Girl, Superman Girl or Green Lantern Girl if it was a baby sister.

we are due in December, which is a nice Christmas present for James. and to think i was just going to get him a train set or something!!

more updates as and when we have them!!!!!!!

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

exciting.......but simply not true.

hey everyone

well, i didn't quite think this would be the one story i would post today, but i couldn't help but pass it on! as exciting and brilliant as this would be, it is simply not true, and a good way of showing off how you really shouldn't accept as fact what you see in the newspapers!

Frankie Goes To Hollywood 'planning comeback after Virgin ad'

Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the Eighties band, are reportedly planning a comeback tour thanks to a surge in popularity after their song Relax was used to advertise Virgin Atlantic.

The Liverpudlian band fronted by Holly Johnson are said to also be planning a re-release some of their hits, which include Two Tribes and The Power of Love, to tap into a new generation of fans.

Their "best of" album will be a joint venture by record company Universal and Indie label ZTT, the Daily Mirror reported, and the comeback tour is tipped to be a sell-out.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman told the Mirror that the company was "thrilled" its adverts had helped to persuade the band to re-emerge into the limelight.

"It's a great coup for us and 80s pop fans will be equally delighted," the spokesman said.

When Relax was first released in 1984 – the same year Virgin Atlantic was launched, it was banned by the BBC for its suggestive lyrics, with Radio 1 DJ Mike Read branding it "obscene" live on air.

The ban made front page news and the song's notoriety helped it to top the singles chart for five consecutive weeks. It became the seventh best-selling UK single ever.

The chart-topping songs Two Tribes and The Power of Love then helped the band attain the accolade of being only the second act, after Gerry and the Pacemakers, to reach No1 with their first three singles.

right. Relax was released in 1983, but that would get in the way of their tie-in story, wouldn't it? their label, ZTT, and the current owners of the rights to the Frankie music, Universal, are making some releases this year, but word has it that it's possibly the comprehensive box set that fans like me have been crying out for rather than just another "best of". well, fingers crossed on the comprehensive side, those lucky Japanese appear to be getting a rather lavish set with some uber-rare tracks on it.

as for the band getting back together, a dream for all Frankie fans, but not one that is likely. Holly, the man who holds the key to any reunion, has said nothing at all about this and he, as ever, holds open communication with the fans via the internetwebthingie. as for the rest of the band, they too roam the web, and comments from them suggest the band seldom agrees on things like releases and compilations - they've said nothing at all about a reunion, commenting only as far as "many disagreements".

alas, this story is made of the same lack of substance and truth as the great "The Stone Roses to reform" story from a couple of months back.

the fact that newspapers, desperate for a story, have to keep going back to the great bands of the past and try to conjure up memories of how great they were does really underline how sad, depressing, hollow and boring the world of music has become, doesn't it?

and when i call you on the phone, show me that you're really home.............

Monday, June 22, 2009

last image from Zanzibar

hey everyone

what can i say? 1500 pics later and my Dad decides maybe it's a good idea to get one of him and Mum together.

looks like a most excellent holiday!!!!!

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

The Literature Of The King

hey everyone

well, James was rather excited when i told him that a present had arrived in the post (!) from Auntie Gillian today. he was considerably less excited when i told him that it was a present for me, as he assumed that it would be something or other to do with The King, Elvis Presley.

James was not wrong with his assumption, it has to be said! behold the 4 (four!) excellent new editions of the official magazine & DVD collection of The King.

for some reason this fine collection only appears to be available in New Zealand. oh well, just as well that i have an ace sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew over there to send it to me! nice one guys, thank you very much indeed.

i was particularly pleased to see one edition comes with the magnificent That's The Way It Is film on DVD - easily my favourite, showing off The King at his very best.

further to that, i was rather enamoured with the straightforward, somewhat nonchalant way in which Gillian had filled in the customs form!

obviously i have to wait until James is fast asleep in bed before i sit and read these magazines, as well as play the excellent looking discs!

thank you once again, and what else can i say but......

be as excellent to each other as my sister is to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andrew on the high seas

hi there

well, our cousin Andrew is off on what seems like an awfully excellent adventure at the moment. he's head out onto the high seas on the ship pictured below! in fact, Uncle Trevor claims that he is in this very pic!

i am not sure, but Trevor knows a good deal more about sailors than i do. apparently he's in something called the crow's nest?

hope you have fun, Andrew!!!

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

Sunday, June 21, 2009

how slumming it in Zanzibar works.....

hey everyone

well, Mum and Dad have been away on holiday in Zanzibar. yes, a holiday. they claim they are "slumming it" and "making do". erm, yes - the pictures tell another story to that, really.

if Zanzibar sounds exotic, well, that's nothing compared to how it looks! needless to say, Dad has been "selective" with the camera, only taking a mere 1500 pictures inside of four days and mailing a basic 200 or so of them. now, as much as i would love to (ahem) put all of these pictures up, here's just a sample of them - Dad can always go and set his own website up!

just have a look at the beautiful clear water surrounding the island for a start!

i would imagine that just lazing around in one of those boats would be a pretty good way to spend a day!

the coast and beach looks like an alternative excellent place to park off and enjoy, too!!

and why leave when the day is done? Mum certainly seems to be enjoying watching the sunset!

i suppose one couldn't stay out in the water or on the beach the whole time, though. just as well, then, that where they are staying looks like it has wonderful views of both, and indeed look like lovely places to stay!

all i knew about Zanzibar before they headed off was that the late, great Freddie Mercury came from there, and the place is well known for spices. what the people of Zanzibar now know is that you can easily identify visitors who were born in England as they will not, not even in paradise, travel and walk around without their slippers.

i quite like the look Dad's got on the go there, sort of like Magnum PI meets Miami Vice via Arkwright in Open All Hours!!!

and, speaking of looks, either razors are banned in Zanzibar, Dad's trying to go for the Ernest Hemmingway look again or he's just getting into the spirit of being Robinson Crusoe!

the people of Zanzibar look like a rather friendly bunch - i am sure they will have to be with my Dad taking picture after picture of them!

of all the pictures Dad has sent through, some of the best have been of the wild and marine life living there. well, i suppose they are "wild marine life", in a sense. here's just one of the fine fellows you can see, and hopefully not stand upon, on the beach!

if we are clever and save up (ha ha ha), we should head over there to see these wonderful creatures, although i do worry about just how many of them James will want to bring home from the beach!

and speaking of the beach, Mum seems to be looking as if she has no intention at all of leaving - don't blame her!!

the locals, however, might just ask Dad to leave if he carries on trying to catch all the fish with his cap!

well, i think that's enough tourism advertising for Zanzibar for me!!

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

Father's Day

hey everyone

well, i can only trust that all fellow fathers reading my site had as wonderful and excellent a day as i did today! James (with some help from Mummy, methinks) got me some very excellent presents indeed, the king of which was one of the finest moments of The King in the form of the splendid Aloha From Hawaii DVD!

alas, as James is not quite as fond of The King as he could be (and this i will argue would not be the case if i had got my way and he was named Elvis), we decided to spend Father's Day by going for a nice stroll around Lory Park zoo.

this must have been a good idea, as many, many other people had decided on the same thing to do with the day today! i am not sure if it was because all the other Dads also got a new disc of The King that they were not allowed to watch, but who knows?

the lions, alas, were having a sleep for most of the time we were there, but it has to be said that the tigers were feeling nothing short of fruity, having a right good old prowl around!

we were indeed there at the time that the tigers would usually go for a walk around and have a bottle of milk. erm, that got as far as the zookeepers going in to get them ready, some distinctly "very angry tiger" noises being heard and the the tigers re-appearing in their ace enclosure again!

a rather brave bird did land near the tigers as well, but the bravery of the bird was matched only by its speed. it was rather ace to see just how fast the tigers can move, though!

also in a rather happy mood were the wonderful lemurs, beloved of all who have seen things like Madagascar i guess!

i could have got some great pics as they were, for some reason, in the mood to pose for the cameras, but James was rather reluctant to let me take too many pictures today. i didn't think that i took all that many, in particular when compared with James' Grandad!

James was, however, not at all unhappy with me taking some pictures of him as he was on the swings and slides at the play area in Lory Park!

Only too happy to oblige, James!

other than all of this, James also befriended some of the birds who say "hello", right up until the point that he got bored of them only saying "hello" and then promptly walked off. a badger also took quite a shine to James' shoes, and James was rather perplexed to see a beaver hand (paw, i guess?) reaching under the beaver enclosure to try and grab them! he also ran around the entire zoo about three times, and was thus rather tired at the end of the day!

thank you James (and Mummy) for the most excellent day and wonderful presents!!!!!

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

more sunglasses

hey everyone

well, my good friend Zama at verk decided that i urgently needed to stop working for a brief while so that he could take some pictures of me in his new shades. to make these images extra special, he also deemed it necessary for me to wear his rather smart Rastafarian scarf. now, i don't look all that much like the average Rasta, but i was rather honoured to be allowed to wear it all the same.

i did, now that i think of it, mention in passing to Zama that his beloved scarf features the same colours of the curious "national gay flag". perhaps his insistence that i wear it, then, is his response to that?

well, there you have it. i do, in brief moments of vanity and fear, wonder if some sort of odd cult has developed around the numerous images of me wearing different sunglasses. if it has, well, they would appear a bit too shy to leave comments!

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

5 Eddie Murphy performances better than "Bowfinger"

hey everyone

The NY Magazine website have run a rather good article on The Ten Greatest Multiple Role Performances. There's no arguing with the selection of performances at all, but there is a problem with some of the write-ups, or at least one in particular. for some reason, the writer of the piece gets rather excited when discussing the fine film Bowfinger, declaring it to be Eddie Murphy's greatest ever role.

woah there, fella! sure, Bowfinger was rather funny (the road-crossing scene springs to mind), but Eddie's greatest ever? methinks not....

Eddie Murphy is rather fondly thought of by us film fans. he, like Billy Connolly, appears to "get away" with streams of profanity on the basis that "well, it's Eddie". he has moved into more family-oriented films of late, although i see he is due to appear in a Richard Pryor biopic soon. that probably won't be family viewing but, if done right, probably will be the film that he will see as his greatest work.

in the mean time, and off the top of my head, here are 5 classic Eddie performances which are better than Bowfinger. if for some obscure reason the writer of the NY Mag article is reading this, i can only assume you have never seen the ones listed below; go see soon!

1. Trading Places
Eddie's second (in an official sense) film, and still the funniest film he has ever made. that's easy to say, because it was the funniest film in the career of anyone and everyone involved. Trading Places is the best comedy to come out of the 80s, and probably has a place in the top ten of all time. make that top five.

as Billy Ray Valentine, Eddie is nothing short of brilliant. his transition from street living hustler to Wall Street "master of the universe" for the sake of a bet is a stunning slice of acting, played as comically straight as possible. he stole the show from each and every established actor in this film and quickly established himself on the mythical "A" list. this status was of course cemented by the second film on this list.....

2. Beverly Hills Cop
wow, talk about era defining! if on TV the excellent Miami Vice captured the designer style, sleaze and sound of the 80s, then Beverly Hills Cop did it for film.

the film itself was intended for Sylvester Stallone, who for a variety of reasons dropped out. the fact that Axel Foley was written for him often shines through in the more dramatic scenes, fleshed out by some Eddie humour.

this is the film that showed Eddie as being considerably more than a foul-mouthed funnyman. Beverly Hills Cop showed Eddie Murphy off as a talent and an actor of note, as well as being bankable - the remainder of the cast were quality character actors, Eddie had to carry this one to box office success with his rapidly growing name alone.

3. Coming To America
with fame came freedom for Eddie - rather than being cast in roles, he was able to pursue film ideas that interested him. whilst this didn't always work out (The Golden Child springs to mind), when it did the results were/are spectacular, as is the case in Coming To America.

many are confused as to why this film wasn't considered as Eddie's best "multiple role" film. the answer is that it's rather more controversial than the selected Bowfinger. beyond being a rather funny "fish out of water" film, Coming To America was a subtle yet unmistakable dig at the prevailing way in which black American families were presented at the time - in particular in the often criticized The Cosby Show, often seen as little more than the story of a white family with black actors and actresses cast. there's also the infamous lawsuit against the film which tarnished it for many.

controversies aside, this fish out of water, rom-com, feel-good or whatever cliche you wish to give it film is a comedy gem, showing off Eddie at his best.

4. The Distinguished Gentleman
this one isn't perhaps an immediate or obvious choice, but if you stop to recall the film, or even better re-watch it, you'll see why i included this one here. and, of course, if you have not seen this film, well, you could do an awful lot worse than check it out.

this film rarely strolls into the realm of laugh out loud, but that's why it's on this list as an outstanding performance. the film works as a rather subtle social commentary on how politics and big business works in the "real" world, albeit in a simplified manner. Murphy's performance as a con man who at first tries to take advantage of "the system" for his own pocket but soon finds himself on the brink of being consumed by it was an impressive turn. stripped of foul jokes and visual props, Eddie Murphy shines through with a solid acting performance, one that deserves a good deal more credit than it gets.

5. Shrek
all too often you get actors and actresses (sorry, i don't do this "male and female nonsense") signing up to voice animated films as it is, in their eyes, "easy money" - just turn up, read a few lines, pick up cheque, go home. every now and then, though, you get such a film with a good, solid "voice acting" performance that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Eddie's efforts as the Donkey in the much loved Shrek is one of the finest examples you will get.

for many, in particular with regards to the first film, Eddie Murphy's Donkey became the firm favourite, outshining the supposed "main characters" voiced by Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz. Donkey is the one that you laughed at and fell in love with, and it's all down to the astonishing, wonderful voice (and personality through it) Eddie gave to the character. just about every other character you could imagine with another actor playing; this with Donkey is impossible.

well, there's my view on Eddie Murphy performances better than his one in Bowfinger, not that there was anything wrong with the film. i expect to get taken to task for not including two films - Dreamgirls and 48hrs. in respect of the former, i haven't seen it and thus can't comment; with regards to the latter it was an OK film, but performance wise it was rather closer to his excellent stand-up routines than it was to any of the five films i have named.

agree or disagree, comment away if you so wish!!

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

crossing the bridge

hi everyone

well, as you may recall from an earlier post, the koi pond now has a bridge over it. of the many, many things one can do with a bridge (see Kelly's Heroes for a start), something that many consider to be the most conventional would be to cross it.

and, at first, that would be the idea that James had!

there are other things one can do on a bridge, and one of them would be jump up and down on it, in particular if it is a wooden one so you can hear that "creaking" noise. now this use for a bridge turned out to be the winner for James, which is why Grandma looks a touch concerned with him on it!

thankfully or perhaps sadly there are no pictures of him jumping up and down on it, although as he went back to more conventional crossing of it later on one can i guess assume that the bridge is structurally sound!

erm, not that there was any doubt about the structurally sound nature of the bridge - Grandad built it, so it was always going to be fine! i wasn't nervous at all when i walked across it, oh no. honest!

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

Movie Dingbat Game

many thanks to the excellent Virgin Movies site for these wonderful cryptic quiz pictures!

the premise is rather straightforward - work out the name of the movie from the picture. here are five of the many available on the site linked above, good luck working them out! to give you a helping hand, there are some famous words from or associated with the film. an easy one to start!

"wax on, wax off"

"it's been emotional"

"vote for Pedro"

"i don't tip"

"i was cured all right"

good luck!!!!

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wounded Ian Brown makes it to Isle of Wight Festival

oh dear, not again! one day someone will have to write a book about the number of "incidents" Ian Brown has been involved in, both onstage and whilst out and about on tour!

Ian Brown recovered from a violent incident with a fan at a gig the previous night to win over the Isle of Wight festival.

Brown was sporting an eye wound after an incident with a fan at his warm up in Sheffield during which he fell from the stage.

Banning photographers from the pit, Brown did lift his sunglasses as he took the stage to show off the wound telling the crowd: "I got pulled off the stage yesterday. I had to have stitches. I've still got one eye on you though."

Ian Brown played:

'The World Is Yours'
'Street Children'
'On Track'
'Time is my Everything'
'Love Bug'
'Destiny or Circumstance'
'Keep What Ya Got'
'Longsight M13'
'Dolphins are Monkeys'
'Golden Gaze'
'Save Us'

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and stop attacking Ian Brown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

further miracles of the Post Office

hey everyone

well, in just under three weeks after the event (or thereabouts) the Post Office got around to delivering Michele's birthday card from the clan in New Zealand! they are to be applauded for this monumental achievement, but not too sarcastically this time. according to Gillian, Daniel hid the card, and Katie claimed the envelope for it as her own, so it was a little late in getting to the post!

now, whatever Katie decided to do with the envelope is a bit of a mystery, but it obviously rendered it unusable, as Gillian had to make a new one for the card. she was quite chuffed about making an envelope (get out more, sis), and has been rather excited to hear of it arriving. well, here you go!

sorry, in this day and age when everyone is paranoid about absolutely all information i thought i had better obscure the address! however, i did it with something special - if my dear friend and birthday girl Caroline is reading this, or anyone from Form E1, they should recognize the thing sat on the envelope!

on the off chance that any of you are as enthusiastic about home made envelopes as Gillian is, here's a look at the back!

thank you Gillian, a nice and cheeky card!!

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