31 Dec 2012

An Unexpected Picture



When I was a boy my brother showed me a book and asked "does this scare you?". It was the cover of Lord of the Rings, with the cover art of the Ralph Bakshi animated version of the film.

"No?" I replied, and Keith took me off to the Lord of the Rings movie and my introduction into the wonderful world of J. R. R. Tolkein started there.  After the film I read the Lord of The Rings before I read the Hobbit. I loved the Hobbit  and I still do.  It is a wonderful adventure, with heroes, Dragons, and a hero that we can relate to.

So It was with a great deal anticipation and also trepidation that I approached this film. While the Lord of the Rings is a dramatic Saga, the Hobbit is a more a straight forward adventure story. The Lord of the Rings had to be three films, but the Hobbit? I understand the financial reasoning behind it, especially because of MGMs financial issues, but just because they are screwed, doesn't mean they have to screw this up?

So I went, and this is what I thought.

Spoiler alert!
There may be some spoilers in this so beware!


 The Hobbit starts at Bilbos birthday party, and he is writing his book for Frodo to tell him the full story of his adventure. Elijah Wood and Ian Holm reprise their roles as Frodo and Bilbo respectively. Then there is some exposition about Erebor the Dwarven kingdom prior to Smaug the Dragons arrival and the destruction of Erebor. Then we settle down to Martin Freeman as Bilbo meeting Gandalf and then the arrival of the Dwarves which finally sets the adventure off into the story of the Hobbit.

Ensue adventures.

There is allot of exposition in this film about the Erebor and the coming of Smaug and the Dwarves losing their home. That is all fine, and I didn't even mind the exposition about Thorin and the blood feud between him and Azog. Azog is a new character to the story and this story line will help pad out the need for three films. That wasn't too bad, but I did feel that the film was too long by the end of it. I did feel some scenes were extraneous. The mountain giants were cool to look at, but like the extend fight scene with the goblins and the stand off between Thorin and Azog they could have been cut down. After watching Peter Jacksons, King Kong, I think he sometimes puts in too many cool things, at the cost of the flow of the movie. Of course I understand that one of the story lines of An Unexpected Journey, was Bilbos acceptance by Thorin. But Bilbo facing off against Azog didn't seem right to me. By the end of the movie it did seem long, and in reality 169 minutes isn't really a marathon.

In keeping with the story and the feel of Tolkeins work it did ok, The exposition for Erebor, and the foretelling of the events of the LOTR trilogy also didn't bother me overly.  I think the thing that bothered me was the Trolls. I am sure in the book that the Trolls ambushed the Dwarves and put them in sacks? The fight scene between the trolls and the Dwarves didn't seem right to me? In fact i would have to say that the film as a  whole could have had a little less combat. (never thought I'd write those words). Apart form the the scene with the Trolls was very good.
Barry Humphries as the Goblin King was cool.

The cast are great. Peter Jackson altered the entire shoot just so they could have Martin Freeman as Bilbo, and he is the perfect choice. Brave, funny, endearing and flummoxed he gives an outstanding performance. Ian McKellen reprises his role as Gandalf, and all the Dwarves are great. I am hoping to see more of the individual Dwarves characters over the three films. I mean it's not like he doesn't have the time.


I saw the film in 2D so I cannot comment on the extra bells and whistles, but the cinematography was great. Special mention to the scenes with Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen. They were shot beautifully. Cate Blanchett as Galadriel was spectacular.

While I have made comments about the fight scenes, there was a good balance between the humour, and the drama. Although I would have like to have seen more of the humour.

Over all it did instil a sense of adventure in me. Martin Freeman and the cast were great, and it was very pretty to watch. It felt long, so the pacing was off a little, and I did feel that there was too much cool and not enough substance. I understand that this is an adaption and it will not be exactly the same as the book, but I think the triliogy should evoke the same sense of adventure as the source material did.  With the first installment it is there, but not enough.

I give it six  Dwarves sorry Monkeys.

29 Nov 2012

Sky fall


When I was a lad my dad took me to my first James bond Movie. It was View to a kill with Roger Moore, which has given me a nostalgia for Mr Moors portrayal of Mr Bond. But it also made me a fan of James Bond for life. And why not? Beautiful women, exotic foreign locations, guns, girls and gadgets. Defend the world for Queen and country, marvellous!



The Bond film franchise has lasted  23 films over 50 years with with 6 (proper) bonds portrayed on the big screen. Sean Connery with his cheeky sex appeal, Roger Moore the playboy spy, Timothy Dalton as a sophisticated killer, Peirce Brosnan with his empathic witty Bond, George Lazenby with his, well height? and currently Daniel Craig.  Each Bond brought something new to the role, except poor George Lazenby who was had the unenviable job as Sean Connery's replacement and also  Her majesties secret service,  that bucked the trend of the earlier films. Too much for the fans to stomach, George was out and Sean had to return.



But you probably know the films and the previous Bonds, and want to know what about Skyfall.
Well I am going to skip the synopsis and just discuss the film.

Where Casino Royale took Bond fans to a grittier darker Bond, way from the invisible cars and Madonna cameos and more representative of Ian Flemming's character in the books, Skyfall effortlessly combines Daniel Craigs new Bond with the class and style of Sean Connerys classic Bond films. Skyfall is at once a origin story and the natural progression of the franchise.


Daniel Craig portrays a tough, smart relentless Bond as always, but Skyfall reveals the chinks in his armour.As the world changes is Bond a relic of the cold war? Daniel Craig is charming, stylish, deadly and a little poignant. I like all the actors that have portrayed Bond, but Daniel Craig is now one of my favourites. He has made Bond his own.

Dame Judi Dench is a wonderful M. Smart and strong in a mans world, she retains control even as that world collapses around her. She is the perfect M for Craig. She doesn't put up with any of his nonsense for a second. She give a great performance, and what you would expect from Dame Judy.


Javier Badem is making a fortune portraying Hollywood villains and after his oscar winning performance in No country for old men, he is now Silver in Skyfall. Javier is a camp, mad and also a sympathetic villain. Silver doesn't have some mad plan to conquer the world, he just wants revenge. Silver is probably the best antagonist I have seen in years.


I really like Sam Mendes the director. Road to Perdition is fantastic, and in Skyfall Mendes creates a story encompassing emotion, violence and humour. Mendes with Roger Deakins also creates some stunning scenes, I love aesthetics and Mendes has made Skyfall beautiful. Even the arse end of Scotland!

From the opening credits to the final credits Skyfall is dangerous, smart and sexy. And has been done true to what we expect from a Bond film. Actually not what we expect, but what we hope for.

There was some criticism of Bond drinking a Heineken and not a Martini, and also a little homo eroticism. Well it is ludicrous to drink martinis every bloody hour, and no Bond does not swap teams at all.  Some critics need to walk in the sun for five minutes and get their heads out of their arses.

If you have not seen it then try and avoid reviews with synopsis's and trailers. I did and was rewarded with pleasant surprises.

With a martini in one hand, and my girl by my side in a great theatre, I cannot remember enjoying myself so much at a film. I think Dad would have loved it.

I give Skyfall Nine Monkeys!


1 Nov 2012

Darth Mouse




So the big news at the moment is that on 30 October 2012 Lucasfilm Ltd has been purchased By Disney for $4.05 Billion US.  That is S4,927,250,000 Pacific pesos.

That is roughly 2,357,535,885 Flake bars from countdown.  And that is type one diabetes!
Not so hot after you have scoffed a billion m'dear.

George Lucas has said in regards to the star wars films
"Why would I make any more,when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/magazine/george-lucas-red-tails.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Lucas feels that Disney is large enough and was the best fit for the franchises future. Included in the deal is shares in Disney, so he is set for life.

And Disney? Well for them it means they own Marvel, Pixar, The Muppet's, and now Star wars and Indiana Jones. That is a sizable slice of pop culture right there. If they Merged with Warner Brothers they could probably buy Greece and make the best theme park in the world! Actually they could probably buy Greece, Portugal, and have Armenia thrown in for free. 

Lucasfilm have had ideas for episodes 7,8, and 9rolling around for years, or so the rumours have it. And George will consult on the production of Episode seven which is being developed now.

So for the Star wars fans, die hard or other wise what does this mean?

Well lets look at the pros and cons.

Pros
Donald Duck as Han Solo is still better than Jar Jar
Frankly the films cannot get any worse. I am not a fan-boy, but Star Wars was a seminal trilogy for me. The original three films are still cool and enjoyable to watch to this day. I was as excited as anyone to hear that the prequels were being made and as disappointed as most. I can still find many good things about the first three episodes, but they are bad movies.  If Disney create a Micky mouse version of Star Wars it would suck more than Jar Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen. 


It will rock!
Disney have the money, and the business acumen to get this right. They have purchased a valuable property and if they want to get their 4 Billion dollars worth, they have to make movies that the fans will enjoy. 

This is it kids
If you want more Star Wars, and you want good Star Wars then the purchase of the rights by a large production company is the only sensible conclusion.

Cons
 It will suck!

In a desperate  money fuelled attempt to recoup their investment they produce a film not just for fans but for everyone. Personally I doubt they will screw up Episode seven because Disney is now in it for the long haul, but then look at Alien versus Predator. 

 The fans
Despite the whining by hysterical fat nerds in their mothers basement making their Sims2 girl friends look like Leia, Lucas has been very generous to fans. Lucasfilm has actively encouraged fan films to be made. Here is a site where creative fans relive or create new stories in the Star Wars universe.
http://www.theforce.net/fanfilms/

That all may stop now that Disney owns the rights, and that would be a shame. 

Looking forward I hope that Disney honours the legacy well and lets fans young and old to continue in their efforts in homages. I also hope that episode seven will be good. 

But I guess I am just a romantic at heart.  What do you think? do you think it is a good move or the final sell out by Lucas. 

Like to hear your thoughts.

24 Oct 2012

Is it just me or it it a bit rubbish?

Horror films, I Love them.

The Horror genre can be traced all the way back to classic gothic literature to fairy tales to campfire stories.  Whether it is a ghost story, or an old fashioned fairy tale, horror stories evoke strong emotions in us. Stories of suspense and terror can be highly stimulating, exhilarating even. I think that you can argue that culturally humor is very subjective, but as a race we fear the same things.

One of my favorite directors said:
 "We’re all afraid of death, loss of a loved one, everything you’re afraid of; I am, so there’s no secret to it."
http://www.wga.org/content/default.aspx?id=4382
John Carpenter

The fear of pain or the threat to your family and friends can be translated across culture, much more so than the humor of Adam Sandler or Mr. Bean.

It is no surprise then that horror movies have been part of cinema from the beginning. The 1922 Nosferatu retold Bram Stokers Dracula and thrilled audiences then and now. And since then we have seen a variety of great horror classics over the years.
A classic


 Some of the best horror films in my opinion would be; The Omen, The Thing, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Carrie, Psycho.  There are of course many more and that list is of course quite subjective. But I think most fans of horror recognize at least some of these as classics.
Another classic.

But if these are classics where are the decent horror movies of today?  Rec 2? Final destination 5, The Ring 3, the remake of the Thing, Hostel?

I know I am generalizing but allot of modern horror seems to be what I describe as torture porn. Films like Hostel lack sophistication to me and attempt to reach new lows in gratuity. Sure they are playing upon the fear of imprisonment and torture, but for me they just over load you with gore until you become desensitized to the horror and violence and it simply becomes distasteful. Even ludicrous.
Tucker and Dale was a great take on a tired story

It could be said that the stories of Robert Bloch, Stephen King and Clive Barker have all been told, and that there are no new stories. That is why there are so many sequels, and derivative films of teenagers being sexually assaulted and murdered by Hill Billies in the Appalachians. To me cultist children with farm impliments hunting people is more frightening than some inbred mutant in a mask. Not that there isn't anything wrong with a mask. Michael Myers mask dehumanises him in a way whih is much more terrifying than a eastern european with a scapel. But Mr Myers has been rebooted so many times now his image is more mundance than evocative.
Gingers! the most frightening of all horror villains.

But I don't believe that Horror is passe. I am an optimist about the scope of the human imagination, and that includes its capacity for fear. Films like   Let the right one in,  and Mama (admittedly I have only seen the preview for this) show that good classic horror can still be made.




20 Oct 2012

Dredd




When I was a boy I remember having to go to the doctors.  There was a long wait so I went to the book shop across the road. I didn't really know what to read because unlike a lot of my friends I was never really into comics. Until a crazy looking comic with a blue soldier caught my eye. It was 2000 AD weekly and it cost 70 cents. I brought that comic and started collecting. Unlike many comics of the time it was British and was a collections of different stories of different characters; Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, Slaine and of course Judge Dredd. 

Judge Dredd was the face of the Law in a post apocalyptic America. He was unwavering in his duties and merciless in the dispensation of justice. He was loosely modelled after the 70's Dirty Harry movies starring Clint Eastwood. But as we entered the 80's our taste in action heroes changed and Dredd became more like the stars of the time, bigger and more physical.
Original Dredd
80's Dredd was more like Stallone and Schwarzenegger

 I can't remember when Hollywood first purchased the rights for the Judge Dredd movie, but it was a hot topic amongst the fans of 2000 AD. Was Clint Eastwood too old? Was Conan better than Rambo? but that accent? Anyway after several years of debate Hollywood pictures produced Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone. Many cried foul, but I was optimistic. Despite popular opinion he was a smart actor and director.  When it was released in Hamilton in the mid 90's I was one of the first in line to go and see it.  And for five solid minutes I was gleefully transported to mega city one. Unfortunately then Stallone took the helmet off, ceased to be Judge Dredd and it became some awful rom-com action film with Rob Schneider.  I still bear the scars today.

Well until today!
Because today my beautiful girl took me to see the re-boot DREDD 3D.  Now I do hate reboots, and the Hollywood studios are remaining pretty much anything these days regardless of how successful the original film was. But this has New Zealand own Karl Urban in the title role. And Mr Urban made it quite clear that he was not taking off the helmet! Huzzah Karl!http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3155666/interview-karl-urban-on-going-back-to-the-comics-and-not-taking-the-helmet-off-for-dredd/
The two versions of Dredd
 I wrote about three different synopsis for you to read, but none of them do the film any justice so I think I will talk about other things. 

Urban plays Dredd very well. The constant disapproving grimace is very reminiscent of the art of the comic. But more than just the look he captured the essence of  the source material, while adding his own take on this iconic character. The character is the faceless representation of the ruthless application of the law, but over the years Dredd evolved and grew along with his readers and fans. As one of those fans I felt that Urban was true to the entire history, not just a concept.  The screenplay writer Alex Garland who you my know form the novel  The Beach  consulted with the original creator John Wagner.Wagner liked the screen play but told Garland "Dredd should say less."  Garland listened and slashed Urbans script. This role is not a great ego boost for any actor, you never see his face and has no more lines than any of the other characters. But all credit to Urban that is what the part required and he did it excellently. 

Cadet Anderson is played by Olivia Thirlby. I have never seen her in anything before but she played the part well. Strong, but also young and empathetic to the people of her city. She gives Dredd a vehicle for his own humanity but also gave a great performance. 

Olivia Thirby as Cadet Anderson
Judge Anderson in the comics
The beautiful Lena Headly plays Ma-Ma, the Gang leader which the judges are trying to take down. Unless you are dead or just dull you would have seen her as Cersei Lannister in the Game of Thrones. She continues her role as the evil antagonist in Dredd and give a strong performance as the de facto ruler of the mega bloc of 75000 people. 

The style of the movie didn't follow the comics closely but that was fine. The comics were larger than life, and the film had a more gritty realistic feel to it. The action was brutal and bloody, but not offensively gory. Highly entertaining. 

I saw the film in3D, well you have to as this does not appear to be released in 2d which i was originally disappointed with. My girl does not enjoy 3d it makes her feel a bit woozy, so I was grateful that she made the effort. The creators utilised the 3D to create vibrant scenes of drug induced spectacle. It was at times like watching a avaunt Gard film. I thought this added rather than subtracted to the film, and as a fan of the good aesthetics got a thumbs up from me.

On the whole it was entertaining, fun and frankly cathartic. Out of all the reboots and remakes we are seeing this is a success. I can only hope that the studio picks up on this and we can see maybe another two films. 

7.5 Judging monkeys from me.







19 Sep 2012

It is that time of the year again when management start discussing where you want to be in five years time. Apparently drinking cocktails in Milan is not a proper answer. 
As I ponder this super important  question, my mind and imagination wandered and I thought of this. I thought it was appropriate given what day it is.
My individual developmental plan as a Manager of a maritime economic redistribution team. Here is how I will develop my position  this using the capabilities below.
 
 Collaboration
I understand the need to foster open dialogue and develop an effective team harmony. To be an effective team we require a diverse skill set and personality mix, who can still all work together for an exciting and productive life of maritime economic redistribution. I am also hoping to work with other stakeholders in various ports to meet our targets and to provide the best customer service. If we meet our targets I recognise that we should share that success as a team and celebrate our strengths. With working with such a diverse and mixed team it is important recognise their perspectives. Even if they are Spanish.
 
 
Communication


I pride myself on having excellent communication skills. I hope to utilise them effectively during team meetings, negotiating with customers and resolving conflict swiftly in the cut and thrust environment of maritime economic redistribution. I am confident that I will communicate with authority and conviction while negotiating with clients and I have achieved excellent results in the past. In this industry, you do deal with a varied mix of clients, stakeholders and even competitors so it is important to adapt your communication style to your recipient. Whether it is a local Governor, or a Dutch merchantmen I an a strong believer of courtesy and open dialogue to get my point across.
 
Client Focus
I am entirely client focused. The entire industry of maritime economic redistribution must have a swift and actionable process where we can identify our clients, communicate our strategy and our objectives in a timely manner, so we can achieve maximum outcome and profitability. While I am always seeking feedback on improving my service, I pride myself that I maintain a high professional standard regardless of circumstances.

 
Self-Management
Obviously it is important to be able to operate independently from time to time. The nature of the industry means that there is no real upper management due to the franchise nature of maritime economic redistribution. I believe I have the skills necessary to operate independently and to manage my team. However, I am also willing to learn new strategies, develop, and adapt to changing circumstances. I am able to remain calm during adversity and I can adapt through adversity to try to resolve issues promptly.
 
Action Oriented
I am a firm believer on taking responsibility for my own actions, and not claiming responsibility for any success unless it is deserved. I think it is not only important to identify, but to create opportunities for effective client service. Thus I try and network through various external stakeholders and research various client profiles so I can preempt and seize rewarding prospects before they get away
One of my prominent stakeholders.
 
 
Another important stakeholder
 
 
Judgement and Decision Making
I think that I have a unique perspective into the industry because I think it is important to examine the humanitarian aspect of the service we provide. If you are entirely results orientated I believe that it will damage the industries long term productivity. Strategically this will effect the work environment and will reflect on your team and individual performance when you are called to account.  Also you need to make rational decisions and be a clear about any potential emotional aspects to any decision made.
Recieving feed back regarding past performance.
 
Leading
I like to think that my strong leaderhship style does get the best out of my team. Plenty of Grog, wenches and booty does create an enthusiatic approach to our work. And if there are any challenges to my leaderhship I find that my skill set swiftly eliminates the problem. 
 
 
                 Happy international speak like a Pirate day!



16 Sep 2012

Saw this and I wanted to share it.

Hi just a quick post. Yesterday my girl and her daughter "squeaky" came to visit me. My girl popped out to get me supplies and Squeaky kept me company by reading me her new book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton  The Thirteen Story Tree house




It is a great book and cleverly the story is about Andy and Terry who write books. Andy writes them and Terry draws the illustrations. The story is about how they are over due for a new book and their trial and adventures trying to write a new one. Squeaky read it to me, but I did some of the voices. It was fun but what was cool was that she kept pausing to make sure she wanted to me to listen to her read more of the story. of course I encouraged her and we had great fun! There were monsters, monkeys, smooching, giant bananas and of course the best tree house in the world.

I can't stress enough how important I think reading is for kids. Some kids are never great readers but whether they are or aren't they should at least have the opportunity and encouragement to read as many book as they want.




13 Sep 2012

Of Morphine and Hunger

There are two silver linings to my recent predicament:

  1.  While I am a terrible patient it is nice to have some quiet time with my Lady.
  2. I can catch up on some reading.
 I have finally got around to finishing The Hunger Games the other day so thought ti would make a good post. While you may already know the plot here is a brief synopsis:

In a dystopian post apocalyptic future the state of Panem sits on the ruins of what was once the USA. Panem consists of thirteen districts each with a economic speciality; agriculture, horticulture, lumber, fishing etc. And the capital is the city state that rules them. Seventy five years before the setting of the book, all the districts rebelled against the authoritarian rule of the capital and lost. District 13 was firebombed out of existence and the other districts quickly surrendered. In retribution every year the capital holds the 'hunger games', A high tech gladiatorial battle between tributes from each of the districts.

Katness Everdeen is a young girl from district 12 whose twelve year old sister is selected for the 74th hunger games. Katness volunteers in her sisters stead leaving her family behind to battle for her life for the entertainment of the capital. As  she fights not only to survive, but also against the capital her strength and humanity becomes a symbol for a a growing discontent amongst the districts.

Ensue gladiatorial death hijinx!

Suzanne Collins is a compelling author. She writes an engaging story with quite flawed characters. And when I mean flawed I mean human. Katness is a teenage girl who is forced into the position of caring and providing for her mother and little sister from age 11. And to do that she is effectively a criminal, poaching game from capitol land. Katness has severe trust issues and, is well a bit of a bitch. But that is good because don't we want human, relatable characters with flaws. Well I do. And whether you may now be doubting whether you will relate to a fifteen year old girl with trust issues I think you will be surprised by how engaging the story is. Collins has a easy writing style that I found entertaining and hard to put the book down.

I enjoyed it very much, and also enjoyed observing her inspirations from ancient Greece and Rome. And while this has been done many times before this isn't some trite post apocalyptic story reinventing history under the guise of science fiction, and certainly no Battle Royale.  While I do enjoy that movie, this story is a little more sophisticated.

Interesting point for me coming from watching the film first before reading the novel is that I think I prefer the film over the book. That is probably a terrible crime some where, but I do. I think that the actors in the  movie add a humanity and a complexity to the supporting characters that I found a little lacking in the novel. But then the novel is entirely from Katness's point of view so this is understandable and doesn't detract from the novel at all.
Woody Harrelson creates empathy for his portrayal of Haymitch

Over all I understand why these books are so popular and I am glad that they are. It is also refreshing to have a young woman who is a strong protagonistin a novel.

Give it a try, it is good.

6.5 Monkeys

3 Sep 2012

Spud

When I was a lad renting videos was a lot more exciting than renting DVDs today.  Mind you in my day the only work to be had was working for the Byzantium empire as mercenaries. The were always wars with the Huns over whether VHS or Beta was better.  Besides the excitement of Byzantium, the reason videos were more fun way back then was the previews were great.

Each preview was an exciting promise of another movie we had yet to watch. And living in the arse end of the planet we only got exposed to limited movies, so previews opened up a broader, bigger and crazier world. You even fast forwarded through the final credits because of the promise of more previews at the end of the movie.

Brilliant!

Then one day it changed. I can't say when it happened, but slowly all the previews were exactly the same on each video. These days you have the copy write warning,  the latest social atrocity created by Adam Sandler, a 25 minute blue ray advert and probably a preview for the movie you are about to see but with several spoilers.  But very occasionally you actually do get to watch a trailer of a movie you have never heard of, and might like to see.

And that is how I found out about Spud.

The Crazy 8s

Here is a South African Synopsis:

John Milton is about to start at a prestigious boys boarding school. He is rooming with a bunch of boys known as the Crazy 8's. Each of the boys has an amusing nickname; Fatty, Gecko, Rambo, Mad Dog. Johns nickname is given to him after his first communal shower. Sadly poor John has missed the first puberty bus off the rank and is slightly behind the other boys developmentally speaking. Spuddy wee penis equals being called "Spud" forever.
Poor Spud struggles with; making friends, being away from his crazy family, being with his crazy family, sports, studies and most importantly girls! But despite his efforts he generally fails at everything.
 Young Spud does find a friend and unlikely mentor in his English teacher, the 'Guv', who hate feminists and "carpet munchers", but Spud has to find his own way through the perils of puberty and boarding school on his own.

Ensue public school hijinx!
Spud and the Guv

The film is based on a highly popular book by John Van De Ruit, based on his own experiences at public school. Spud is a  "A diary of Adrian Mole" for the 90's, but based on real events. Coming of age films have been around for a long time, but I thought this was fresh, funny and agonising all at the same time. There is a genuine warmth between Spud and the Guv (played by John Cleese). I read that the producers wanted Hugh Grant to be the "Guv", but I can't imagine why. John Cleese is a consummate professional, and it is a bit of a different role for him. 
Spud falls for the Mermaid
The story incorporates living up in South Africa in the 90's with the normal hormonal issues, and the film is well balanced with hilarity, agonising awkwardness and a touch of sadness. A bit like growing up really.


It was a genuinely refreshing watch and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And now that I have watched it, I will seek out the book.




7 South African monkeys from me.

26 Aug 2012

A Wanderlust through IronSkies to Treasure island

I have a confession to make. I like gaming!
Due to a slightly addictive personality I have resisted buying any new games for about two and a half years.

And then I succumbed to my own rich desires when I saw that  Fallout, New Vegas was on special for $40.

Once it was in there was no reading, watching, writing or blogging as I adventure through the post apocalyptic wastes of Nevada. Of course when I say adventure I mean scream like a frightened tween as I run from pretty much everything I meet.

But of course not being a 22 year old virgin who lives in his mothers basement (for the record I live in someone else's mothers basement) I have only played sparingly.

But I have neglected to write in my blog (I know I am rubbish) for a bit so I am doing three quick reviews today.

Iron Sky 2012




Here is a synopsis:

There are Nazis on the moon!

Yeah I am done.

This is a small Finnish production who raised some of their money through Facebook and other social media sites. A friend of mine contributed to their on line petition to help get it off the computer and onto the big screen

Given that they did raise a lot of money for the production of the film I was really impressed by the production quality. I could see that they had cleverly used closed sets and CGI when appropriate to make this film work. And I think it did. The space battle was much more impressive than I expected from this movie.

There were some really genuinely hilarious parts and the rest of the movie was fine. It was not ground breaking or edgy but it delivered a fun story. Basically if you are excited by the thought the premise of Nazi's hiding on the moon since the 40's then you will probably not be disappointed.

I had a fun time watching it on the big screen 5.5 Monkeys.

 Wanderlust 2012

This was the first choice we made yesterday for a DVD to watch when my partner and I were not feeling that flash.

Synopsis:

George and Linda Gergenblatt (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) have to leave their lives in New York and live with Georges offensive brother Rick (Ken Marino) in Atlanta. On the way down they end up at Elysium a crazy commune full of happy welcoming hippies. There they are surprised to find a place of peace away from their failures and terrible relatives.

Ensue hippy hyjinx

I am not a massive fan of Jennifer Aniston. Sure I fancied her in the 90's when we were both younger in a more innocent time, but now I am simply not interested in watching her in another romantic comedy.
I  do however enjoy Paul Rudd as a comedic actor and Ken Marino and David Wain (the director) were behind Role Models so I thought I would give it a go.

It was funny, and awkward and very awkward. Paul Rudd trying to psyche himself up for sex by talking dirty to himself in a mirror for a ages was great. Jennifer Aniston gave a good performance as Linda the lost wife, still trying to find herself. I was worried I would just see Rachel again, which you kinda do with Jennifer Aniston, but not to any level where she became annoying. 

I felt for the character George as he watched his wife drink the coolade. I looked at my partner and wondered if she would succumb to the lure of an alternative lifestyle if we were put into a similar position? Maybe but her love of fashion might save me. I suspect she would agree with me that she might be the weakest link in the chain, but her passion for city life, fashion and hygiene would win out.

It was a funny movie to watch when you are paying your debt to Bacchus, and had us all laughing.

6 monkeys

Treasure Island 


This is a made for TV movie with Eddie Izzard as LongJohn Silver. This my choice for yesterday and I chose it for all my usual reasons; a great story, good actors and PIRATES!



I don't think any synopsis I write will do justice to Robert Louis Stevenson's work so I am just going to write about the movie.



This version is a departure from the traditional narrative in it's depiction of the characters. Dr Livesey is a terrible coward and the Squire is just a self absorbed scoundrel. But there was a sense of accuracy about the characters, while not the men that Stevenson wrote of, they may more historically accurate.



Eddie Izzard steals every scene as LongJohn. I think one of the elements of the storeys success is that LongJohn Silver is such a complicated character; murderer, thief, rogue, but a charming man who exhibits a surprising humanity towards Jim and the others. Donald Sutherlands cameo as Captain Flint was good, and Toby Regbo was good as young Jim Hawkins. I liked Philip Glenister in the TV show Life on Mars and he gives a good performance of Captain Smollet. Elijah Wood played a good Ben Gunn, it was a surprising choice but I thought it worked.



It was engaging, funny and full of adventure. I thought the ending was weak which was highly disappointing when I had enjoyed everything up to that moment. It has inspired me to go an reread this and other old classics for fun. 





6 swash buckling monkeys from me.


14 Aug 2012

It's not Porn!

Grammer.
I do not think grammer  is wonderful, but it is nessesary.  I once went to a letter writing course through work. Now I have completed pretty much all of the "learnings" that my department can offer, however these courses are mandatory so a colleague and I went along. It was possibly the best course that I have ever been on. Admitedly a loony came and sat next to me, as always. But it was informative and fun. 

The reason I am bringing this up is because in my post about 50 Shades of Grey I recomended  Midnight Riot. I may have inadvertantly inferred that it was erotic literiture. 
Well it's not. 

I would like to apologise toanyone who ran out and brought it on that premise. You may have been disapointed with the lack of steamy licenciousness/ But hopefully not with the story.


So what it it about?
 Peter Grant is a young policeman in the London met. He is ambitious, intelligent and doomed to a life of paperwork. But while working a murder case in Covent gardern his life is changed after he finds an eyewitness to the crime. But Peters problem is that the witness is also dead.  Peters encounter with the ghost also introduces him to Inspector Nightingale and the world of paranormal investigation. 
Ensue mysterious hyjinks.
I liked this book very much.  I was reading this while I was meant to be reading Fifity shades of Grey.  But this was more fun, and the writing is considerably better
Ben Aaronovitch the author has done extensive research into police procedure and also research into jazz, mythology and African English culture. The character Peter Grant is African and this aspect of the narrative is well written into the story. I used to live in South London and I had quite a few Nigerians as neighbors, and reading about his mum brought back fond memories of Elephant and Castle for me.
The characters are believable and the story is well told.  Ben Aaronovitch is a highly experienced writer who mainly writes teleplays. He is well known for writing Doctor Who stories, and this is his first book. But it is a good one. He balances Peters (and our) introduction to this paranormal London with the mysteries this London contain without losing pace with the investigation.

You could make some comparisons to Jim Butchers  Dresden files but I think this book is much better.  While both being about urban fantasy, Aaronovitch has created a more plausible and likeable character and world.

If  you think this might be your sort of thing then try it.
Eight magical Monkeys

P.S. IT IS NOT PORN

31 Jul 2012

The Dark Knight Rises


"No!" She said firmly turning to face the gathering shadows of the winters night. Loose strands of her hair trailing in the cool night hair looked silver and alive in the fluorescent light. "This time I can't. It's too long, too much to deal with. I can't watch this torment. I won't."

Consequently instead of going to see Batman with my girl, I went with a friend instead. On a Bat-man-date.

To be fair I may have over dramatised what my lovely actually said. She may have said that 2 1/2 hours was a lot of angst to sit through.  But is it? Was it?

Well lets look at the synopsis of the final in this trilogy. Please note that if you have not seen The Dark Knight there are a few spoilers.


Eight years have passed since the events of  The Dark Knight Batman is retired and Gotham city is safe  under the Dent act. Created by Commissioner Gordon who used Harvey Dents death to enact a crimes act to put away Gotham's worst criminals without parole. No one but Gordon and Batman knew the truth about Dents psychosis and death. Bruce Wayne has retreated  away from the public eye after a experiment in fusion power went wrong. After investing billions into a clean energy source for nothing he hides in Wayne manor and mourns the death of his love Rachel. 

But things are stirring in the shadows of Gotham. A mercenary lurks in the sewers, a jewel thief steals information, and a scientist is kidnapped. bane has arrived and it might be time for the Dark Knight to return one last time.

But was it angsty?

At the beginning Bruce Wayne was a little emo, but thankfully that ended quickly enough. Yes it was 165 minutes long, (that's 2 hours 45 mins in old money) but the pacing was pretty good. The action and the drama was well placed and by the climatic finale I was still riveted and not wriggling with frustration.  Christopher Nolan beat the odds and finished the trilogy strongly. And like most good trilogies the third film made sense of the second film. But I won't say why here.

With such an  ensemble cast you expect good acting, and I was not disappointed. Michael Caine stole every scene he was in. Like a fine wine he just seems to be getting better with age.  Christian Bale was a little wooden at times, I think this was his worst performance out of the trilogy. But the performances by the other cast were all wonderful so it was barely noticeable. 
 Anne Hathway is a great catwoman. there was a lot of concern over her casting but I think she was a fantastic choice, not all swoony over Batman, but smart and strong. Gary Oldman and adds flair and strength to the film and the role of commissioner Gordon.

Morgan Freeman has that class of acting where you drop him in a scene and suddenly you are instantly invested. Just add Morgan and you get great results!
I have been a massive fan Joseph Gordon-Levitt since Brick, his performance for me filled the gap I felt in Bales lacklustre role.

And Tom Hardy's transformation? I didn't recognise him as Bane for ages. I didn't pay too much attention to the hype as there were many spoilers about.  But from the skinny guy in Layer Cake to Bane was a revelation.















There was pathos, bad guys getting the slap, gadgets, spectacle, Ann Hathaway looking snogalicious and some grand acting. The Dark Knight Rises was a good end to the trilogy and it is worth the hype. Christopher Nolan really pulled the trilogy together.If you like superhero movies I recommend you see it on the big screen. I also recommend that you go early in the evening and maybe have a pint first to get your Batbuzz on.

8 Batmonkeys from me

 I'm Bat-monkey