Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Films I've Seen of Late (October)

#59 Storks (2015)
Passable animation featuring Andy Samberg (who pretty much plays his character from Brooklyn 99) about storks delivering babies or something. At least it kept the kids happy.

#60 Blade Runner (1982)
One of the best films of all time (IMHO), I fancied a rewatch before catching the sequel in cinemas (if I get a chance). Gritty sci-fi with a film noir twist, Ridley Scott’s vision of a decaying future LA doesn’t fail anywhere: story, cinematography, musical score, acting, special effects - it all still holds up fantastically well thirty years later. To make a sequel anywhere near as good seem an impossible task.

#61 Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)
The third ‘live action’ Lego movie, Ninjago fails to live up to its predecessors. There’s plenty of wink-wink / breaking the fourth wall humour, as seems is obligatory for this sort of film (just to keep the grown ups happy) but something still seems to be missing. Disappointing.

#62 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Classic Disney epic adventure about three men held captive by the mysterious Captain Nemo aboard his technological underwater marvel, the Nautilus. Still stands up well against modern films, and sticks as closely to the source material as is reasonably possible.

#63 Supernova (2000)
Sci-if thriller/horror with a slight identity problem. Despite the solid performances from leads Spader and Bassett, the problems with its script and meddling from the studio ultimately let it down.

#64 The Mountain Between Us (2017)
Two strangers (Idris Elba and Kate Winslet) become stranded on a desolate mountain range when their chartered pilot crashes. As they struggle to survive, they form a strong bond which carries them through near-starvation and freezing temperatures. A powerful and emotional journey with breathtaking scenery and moving scenes.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Entering The Pitch Film Competition

The Pitch is a film competition held every year with a £30,000 prize for the winner. It's a little different from other competitions as it requires the entrants to use a bible story or theme as inspiration. I've entered an idea into it and it has now gone to a public vote.

So, dear reader, please vote for my film!

It only takes 2 minutes:

My idea is based on the story from the book of Exodus, transplanting the events to an alternate modern Britain with a fascist dictator at the helm. Find out more here: https://www.enterthepitch.com/entry/let-my-people-go/

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Star Trek: Discovery - a review (sort of)

I despair at modern times, I really do.

Star Trek: Discovery, the latest Star Trek outing, has seen a barrage of negative reviews spewing forth across the internet. True, there has been plenty of praise as well but what annoys me about the moaning and complaining is that it's all too easy these days.

I doubt the backlash was anything like this the last time anything Trek related came on TV (although the JJ Abrams movie reboot and sequels have had its fair share of criticism), but c'mon guys. Does everyone have to crap all over something with such fervour and dismay? Everyone has an opinion (of course), and they are certainly entitled to is – but I think the internet just magnifies it in such a horrible way.

Sure, there were a few problems with the show. It isn't perfect, but no show ever is.

I'm sure the original Star Trek (regarded with great reverence by fans) had its critics - and it only managed to last for three series. From what I've read, Star Trek The Next Generation only really got into its stride after series two.

Sometime a show needs time to get bedded in, but unfortunately people demand perfection from the get-go these days. They're not willing to give the time, because they don't have the time to invest in it (or think they don't).

Which is a shame.

I'm not going to say Discovery is a bad or a good show, certainly not at this stage. I do have both gripes and likes, but I think they pretty much balance each other out:

- confusing timeline (is it Kelvin? is it a new timeline? I have no idea)
- intergalactic instantateous space travel via ... er, alien spores? (seriously, what??)
- too much Klingon subtitles (if I wanted to read, I'd get a book)
- it's trying too hard to be Star Wars (although this explanation https://youtu.be/KoW8Sq8-hr4 of Discovery kinda makes sense)

- a decent bit of ethnic and gender equality (finally! although Voyager was years ahead of it's time obvs)
- hollywood movie-quality sets, effects and costumes
- well-rounded and interesting characters (even though we're only just getting to know them)

The most recent episodes of Discovery didn't fill me with great excitement, but I'm going to stick at it for now. Because maybe – just maybe – given a bit of time if could just be a truly great piece of television.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review: The Grandfather Infestation by John Peel (a Lethbridge-Stewart adventure)

My second foray into the world of Doctor Who spin off Lethbridge-Stewart, this is an alien invasion yarn very much in the vein of John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids.

Set in the 1960s at the height of the pirate radio station craze, a pirate station and a navy sub sailing off the coast of Scotland are the first to suffer at the hands of an alien invasion by telepathic, carnivorous plants (the Grandfathers) and their tall, rocky assistants (the Ymir).

The survivors of both vessels find themselves on the ocean floor, surrounded by an air-sealed protective bubble, and are soon captured by the Ymir and put to slave labour, working to help the invaders enact their dastardly plan: to detonate a bomb in an undergound oilfield that will release millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere. With the resultant global warming killing off the pesky humans and most other life, there will be plenty of room for the grandfathers and their cronies to take over. So far, so good.

Lethbridge-Stewart and his team are soon alerted to the strange goings on in Scotland, however, and make their way up North to investigate and put a stop to the Grandfather's ambitions.

After a failed attempt by the RAF to firebomb the infected island, a team led by L-S set out to be captured by the alien invaders disguised as 'ordinary' island folk (concealing as much weaponry as their outfits can hold). Meanwhile, L-S's colleague Ann Travers, is tasked with conducting an investigation using a bathysphere deep sea vessel.

Written by John Peel (no, not him), there are plenty of 60s references, as one would expect, and the Brigadier is his usual gallant / stuff-upper-lipped / get-the-job-done / no-nonsense self. Also, the enemy is one that has been well thought through, despite the obvious inspiration from Wyndham's original story.

In conclusion, the Grandfather Infestation is another excellent addition to the Lethbridge-Stewart series and well worth checking out.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Films I've seen of late (September)

#53 Under the Skin (2013)
Sci-fi horror meets arthouse in this dark tale about an alien who seduces lonely men in order to harvest their flesh. The antithesis to Hollywood action hero fare, Under the Skin ironically features one of its most prominent superhero actresses (Johanssen) - who delivers a captivating performance as the otherworldly siren.

#54 Captain Underpants (2017)
Two best friends come up against their mean school principal and inadvertently turn him into their own comic book invention 'Captain Underpants'. Starts well, but soon gets muddled along the way and ultimately resorts to a slightly tired ending. 

#55 Paddington (2015)
The children's classic is given the feature film treatment in this enjoyable origin story of the clumsy but loveable bear's adoption into a London family. Updating the stories to 21st century Britain feels a little forced at times, and the evil villain (Nicole Kidman) doesn't seem to fit well with the tone of the original stories. Even so, a good effort.

#56 American Made (2017)
Tom Cruise is on top form in this biopic of Barry Seal, ace pilot who gets recruited by the CIA to spy on South American rebels in the 70s. His actions come to the attention of drug lords who see his usefulness and ask him to run drugs to the States as well. Before long, the money is flowing but soon Barry's luck begins to run out. Well-paced and tightly directed, American Made feels more of an indie flick than a hollywod blockbuster (despite Cruise as the lead) which plays to its advantage. An enjoyable true story.

#57 Passengers (2016)
Two passengers aboard a colony ship travelling through space find themselves awake ninety years too early. Restricted from returning to cryosleep, they come to terms with their fate and fall in love - but a dark secret hangs over their lives. Critics panned this film but I think it's pretty decent - yes, it could have been a lot darker but understandably the studio played it safe. Good performances, amazing visuals and an interesting dilemma for the protagonists make this entirely watchable.

#58 Office Space (1999)
Cult classic comedy about a frustrated office worker in a dead-end job who has an epiphany and seeks to take revenge on corporate America. Feels like it loses its way half way through but is enjoyable nonetheless.

The Joy of Baking (again)

My new (second hand) breadmaker and its produce - yum!
Back in the day, I had the bread-making bug and tried numerous times to make it myself with varying degrees of success.

Because bread making is not as easy as, say, making cakes I kinda gave up on the whole thing though. I was fed up of making heavy, overly-yeasty bread that didn't taste right. I longed to be able to produce soft and fluffy white loaves like they make in the bakery. Had I more time, I guess I could have worked to perfect my skills – but time is a precious commodity of which I have very little at present.

Until, that is, that we were bequeathed a bread maker. Oh yes!

Now, I accept that this is sort of cheating but I thought I'd give it a go and I have been impressed with the results so far.

I've been fairly unadventurous and stuck with white loaves (apart from one wholemeal that I made which the family disapproved of), and each time they have come out pretty much perfect. So, the bread making will continue (despite the fact that it's far, far cheaper to buy the stuff from the supermarket!), and maybe I'll try a few more exciting varieties down the line.

At some point, I hope to use the bread maker to just do the kneading (this is the hard part - not just physically but technically, I feel) and do the rest myself. But that, unfortunately, requires a bit more time.

So, maybe one day...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Female Movie Voiceover

At a trip to the cinema recently, it struck me that the voiceover for every trailers is always a man.

I don't think I've ever heard a female voice for trailers and I wonder why. Sure, it feels like it should be a bloke, but when you listen to this:

I don't have a problem with this at all.

It's time to redress the balance, people. Let's have more female voicovers for trailers please!