Thursday, May 31, 2018

Films I've seen of late (May '18)

#37 Twin Town (1997)
Swansea is the setting of this dark comedy about crooked cops, smalltime drug dealers and a pair of delinquent brothers. The portrayal of South Walian life is far from positive and relies on the tired stereotype of the Welsh as uncultured / good-for-nothings / junkies / criminals which is kind of sad. Still, an accomplished piece of filmmaking with some memorable performances.

#38 The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
A twist on the buddy roadtrip movie, the plot revolves around a hitman (Sam L Jackson) being unexpectedly escorted by a professional bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) to give evidence at the trial of a former despot at the Hague. Former rivals, tensions flare from the get-go as Jackson tries to shake off his companion, all while the Despots henchmen are trying to hunt them down. Plenty of funny moments between the leads and some great action pieces ... it just feels slightly shallow and predictable.

#39 Captain Underpants (2017)
Fairly accomplished children's animation based on the popular books. It didn't really work for me when I saw it with the kids in the cinema, but re-watching it helped me feel a bit more charitable. Still, there are one or two plot points that make no sense which really bug me. Watchable.

#40 Robocop 2 (1990)
Robocop is back, ready to take on Detroit's scum and villainy in this sequel to Vehoeven's future-satire masterpiece. A new threat is in town, this time in the form of 'Nuke', the latest designer narcotic to his the streets. Although it does a good job of providing continuity with the first movie, R2 is lacking a certain something that means it doesn't quite live up to its predeccessor. It's also missing Basil Poledouris' iconic Robocop theme from the first movie, which is a travesty.

#41 The Other Guys (2010)
Will Ferrell and Mark Whalberg are two mismatched police partners always under the shadow of Sam L Jackson and The Rock from the same department who catch criminals in the most ridiculous public property-destroying way. When these supercops absurdly die in the course of duty, their colleagues see an opportunity to come to the fore and make their mark. An interesting take on the buddy cop movie, the ad-libbing and constant bickering between the main characters provides plenty of laughs.

#42 Deadpool 2 (2018)
The foul-mouthed merc returns in this bigger and louder sequel that pushes the titular character toward being a fully-fledged member of the X-Men (albeit as ‘X-Force’) while facing up against Cable and various other mutant adversaries. There’s more jokes, more action, more fourth-wall-breaking and more crudeness than before – which makes this a worthy follow up to the R-rated hit from two years ago.

#43 Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
One of the best-loved characters from the Star Wars universe gets his own movie, which manages to maintain a decent continuity with previous films in the franchise. There are some great characters and well-orchestrated sequences, but it all feels a little bit unspectacular. This story never really needed to be told, but Ron Howard does a pretty decent job of salvaging the potential train wreck it could have been.

#44 Don't Look Now (1973)
Nicholas Roeg's surreal horror thriller about a couple who are coming to terms with their daughter's death. Whilst in Venice as part of the husband's work, they encounter a psychic who tells them she's seen their child who is trying to communicate with them. Slow and a bit meandering, it feels lacking in any real meat to the story.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sickening stuff (part 2)

A while back (2014 actually!) I went on a bit of a rant about new 'Saw' rides at Thorpe park.

I must admit, I do sound like a bit of a right-wing Daily Mail-reading killjoy (honestly, I'm not!) but I still stand by the sentiment of what I said. I have nothing against those kind of movies being made, but I do think it's questionable to have them out into the open as part of a 'family' theme park. If it was a 'horror' theme park, then fair enough, but Thorpe Park is for all ages and should make sure its rides are appropriate.

It seems this trend isn't going away.

Now you can go on the Walking Dead at Thorpe Park and Wicker Man.

Oh, what fun!

Have the people who commissioned those rides seen The Walking Dead? Have they bothered to watch The Wicker Man? There's nothing - nothing - family friendly about them.

What next? A medieval torture ride where kids can watch actors being flayed alive or hung, drawn and quartered?


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The terrifying reality of middle-age

I'm not one who particularly enjoys the fact that I'm middle-aged. Passing the '40' mark three years ago was a bit of an existential crisis for me and every now and again I stop and pause to reflect on the reality that I'm old. Like, really old.

Of course, it's all relative. My parents are much older than me. In fact, there are millions of people out there who are older or would consider me a bit of 'spring chicken' – even though I definitely do not feel like one – and I have even outlasted a quite a few of my fellow human beings so far. I know I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

One thing, however, that has struck me recently is that my generation is in the middle of taking over from the previous one.

This has become noticeable at church. I'm not sure if church is the best reflection of wider society in general, but it's interesting nonetheless. Wifey and I became church leaders last year (she an Elder and me a Deacon). Two of my friends are also elders – and they are younger than me. Ulp! Often, there will be preachers at church who are either younger or roughly the same age as me.

It used to be that I would sit in the congregation and look up to the Elders and Deacons – wisened leaders who were trying hard to discern God's will for the church and to ensure it functioned smoothly. They were the ones with all sorts of important responsibilities, making difficult decisions in order to keep this weird thing called church going.

Now, I realise I have become one of them – one of those supposedly 'wise' leaders who youngsters of today might look to for guidance and counsel. My generation is gradually becoming the one 'in charge' now, as it were.

And that is scary as heck.

Whilst it's nice to be all 'grown up' and responsible, it also feels like I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time and am constantly 'winging it' to get through the various challenges of life.

What is comforting though, is the fact that most people are likely doing the same. No matter how old or experienced you are, I think it's something of a universal truth to say that a lot of the time you're making things up or just hoping it will all work out in the end.

I wonder if we'll ever get to the point where politicians, business leaders and other such 'lofty' people will own up to this truth and admit that they don't have all the answers and rely on a 50/50 chance of getting things right most of the time.

If they did, I think the world would be much better place.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

This week I have been mostly... wb 07/05/18

Week beginning: 07/05/18

No. of evening meetings: 2
Films watched: 1
Healthy eating: Good
Mental health: Could be better

This week has started with a renewed health drive as Wifey has started Slimming World and so we've been basing our meals around that. I have to give SW some credit, in that they are not about 'diets' as such but more about healthy eating and eating foods that will fill you up rather than make you starve most of the time. I'm a bit dubious about the food that they market, as it's probably not any healthier than the other 'health food' junk you can buy. You pay a premium for the branding in return for some kind of peace of mind. Even so, you don't have to buy their products and the emphasis on eating fruit and veg can't be argued with. There's also the social motivation aspect which I think helps. Again, SW makes money out of this - but peer support is probably a huge factor in the fight against obesity so it can't be knocked.

Wifey has lost some weight already, which I'm really proud of her for, and I find it's easier to join in rather than watch from the sidelines so hopefully I will lose some too. I've been trying to get healthier and thinner with limited success, but I figure trying is better than not trying. I'm also probably being a bit hard on myself. I don't think I'm obese (I'm probably a bit overweight but not by much), and I don't eat that much crap. Occasionally I will give in to a bit of cake or chocolate but I've never been one to eat junk every day. I've also gotten into the habit of eating lots more fruit and veg (more than the standard 5-a-day), partly to fill up but also partly to try and fend off any future nasties i.e. cancer. My problem is that I want to flatten my belly a bit more and, well, being a forty-something is going to make that especially hard. If I was really fat, I'd probably lose quite a lot of weight quite quickly, but I think it's the latter stages of weight loss which are exponentially more difficult.

I could go to the gym, but I don't really have the time and space to commit to that (nor the financial resources) and anyway I really hate exercising. I do a bit at home (weights and stretches) as well as brisk walking but doing a full on workout is something I just don't have the inclination to do.

I struggle with motivation if I'm honest, but at least Wifey is doing something as well so we can support each other. Also, we've got a trip to France coming up in August so I really want to be as fit and healthy as possible for when we go.

Because then I can blow out on bread, croissants, chocolate, cheese and wine!

Viva Vacances!

Monday, May 7, 2018

This week I have been mostly... wb 30/4/18

Week beginning: 30/04/18

No. of evening meetings: 2
Films watched: 1
Healthy eating: Average
Mental health: Could be better

A fairly uneventful week this week. I spent work either editing or filming (which admittedly is what I usually do), although interestingly my work took me to the place of my old comprehensive school. I've been through the town a few times recently and it's always a bit of a shock to see how things have changed since I was a teen. The most significant change is the demolishing of one of the blocks where my form room used to be, and the building of an Asda supermarket right on top of the school playing fields. They've constructed a completely new school complex which looks like something from the future (which it kinda is ... well, would have been to a kid in the 90s).

Returning to the place of my adolescent youth stirs up many emotions for me. It was a formative time in many ways and not without its drama and angst. I fell in love (but hideously crashed and burned), had my first brush with alcohol (the first of many), faced up to bullies (and lost) as well as made decisions that would ultimately affect me for the rest of my life (I'm not kidding).

Visiting my old stomping ground saddens me a bit. Everything feels just as tired and rundown as it used to be. I suppose I didn't have any frame of reference at the time but even when I was there it felt a bit sad. Some of the old shops are still there, while others have been taken over by the familiar chains such as Greggs. There were a fair share of empty shop units (thanks austerity/Brexit!).

Even so, I still have a fondness and affinity for the place. It featured in a large chunk of my life and I can't change that. I hope things eventually pick up.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Vote for Revenge of the Rabbit in My RØDE Reel Competition

I recently worked on a short film to enter into the My RØDE Reel competition along with my Purple Hat Productions mates (who also made Hey Mal, Timcide and Refuge).

Please take two minutes to vote for our film (if you haven't already!) by clicking here:


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

This week I have been mostly... wb 23/4/18

Having failed to write up my previous two weeks, I am sheepishly playing catch up. I have been doing lots of stuff:
- Celebrating no. 2 son's sixth birthday. It was a full-on weekend affair with bowling, pizza and seeing lots of family.
- Previewing the latest short film I've helped make at Chapter Movie Maker in Cardiff (you can find out a bit more here).
- Filming a weekend conference in Dinas Powys. This has resulted in a project that is over 300GB in size. Yikes!
- Making some much welcome progress with the Offworld feature film. There's still lots to do but I think we're not too far off from coming into land.
- Starting a BSL (British Sign Language) course through my church, which is fun but hard work in terms of learning the zillion signs. Not sure how well I'm going to do at it. Ulp!
- Helping to film an entry into the My RØDE Reel film competition. I don't have high hopes as we will be up against filmmakers from across the world ... but we might win a teeny weeny prize. You never know. The main thing is we shot and edited it within a week, which is a small miracle.
- Finishing my Christian leadership course after 2 years. I'm not going to miss getting up early on a Saturday once a month to go to this, but it will be a bit sad to finally say goodbye.