Tuesday, July 31, 2018

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

#46 Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Kind of unnecessary sequel to arguably one of the best sci-fi films ever. Even so, it does well all things considered. Exquisite shots, immersive music and impressive direction at least give it a fighting chance to stand up against the original. Worth a watch.

#47 Gnomio and Juliet (2011)
Kiddie film about gnomes that come to life when humans aren't looking (a la Toy Story), using the Shakspearian love story as a basis. Some funny moments (especially the ultra-powered killer mega-mower), but reeks of cynical hollywood money-making tactics.

#48 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
Downey Jr delivers a Sherlock Holmes performance just as good as his Cumberbatch counterpart in this follow-up to the 2009 success. Jude Law is good too as Watson, and so is Noomi Rapace as the gypsy accomplice searching for her missing brother. The plot has a lot of similarities to Sean Connery's derided League of Extraordinary Gentlement (awkward), and has too many distracting anachronisms - but this is still a competant Sherlock sequel.

#49 Convenience (2013)
Indie film about two hapless criminals who try and rob a petrol station but end up pretending to be employees while they wait for the safe to unlock in the morning. Some great performances and plenty of quirky moments. The title doesn't quite fit (it's not a corner shop or grocery store) but that's a minor niggle for what is a simple – but fun – comedy.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Oreo Cakes

Here's another Oreo product report, which I occasionally do on my blog.

I found these Oreo Cakes in Home Bargains of all places and I was intrigued because I’d never seen them before so immediately figured they were some weird knock off imports or something.

Turns out I was right (sort of). They are made in Egypt by Mondelez (the company who owns the Cadbury and Oreo brands).

What do they taste like? Well, bland. The sponge is dry and not very sweet and the internal icing is just a bit meh. What is disappointing is that the chocolate it is coated in is not proper Cadbury chocolate and the filling tastes nothing like Oreo creme.

I know that different countries / regions have different palates and so recipes for well-known foods are altered to suit local preferences, but this cake didn't even remotely taste like what it should according to the packaging. Trading standards!

So if you were thinking of buying these, don't.

More Oreo reviews from the archives:
Oreo easter eggs
Snowy Oreos
Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich
Oreo Peanut Butter Flavour
Oreo Thins! 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

This week I have been mostly... wb 16/08/18

Week beginning 16/08/18

No. of evening meetings: 1
Films watched: 1
Healthy eating: Good
Mental health: OK

Annoying start to the week when a client canceled on me. I wasn’t really looking forward to it (a wedding shoot), but I do need the money. Even so, it meant I could get on with those fiddly little jobs that seem to fill in the cracks and also catch up with a few people.

I’ve been ill the last two weeks with a virus which I seem to get once a year. It’s one of those cold-y type bugs which saps your strength and mental energy. It feels good to finally have shaken it off and get back into my normal routine. Illness invariably means I eat rubbish food and so I’ve had to claw my way back to eating healthily again which is a bit of a shock to the system (“where’s all the fat and sugar!” my body screams at me).

It’s the last week of term and the kids definitely need a break. Saying that, they’ve had it pretty easy in school - I don’t think they’ve done any proper schoolwork for ages so already their brains are turning to mush. I’m sure there’s a better way of organising the school year, but hey what do I know?

Sadly our pet hamster died over the weekend (we discovered him on Sunday morning). He was a present for No. 2 son for his fourth brithday and has survived for over 2 years which is pretty good going. I don't know if the current heatwave is to blame for his demise (I wouldn't be surprised) but he lived long for one of his kind so that's something. It's also be a lesson in mortality for the kids. No. 2 was upset, but has gotten over it pretty quick (he's scheming for a cat - but that's not happening ... yet).

We’re off on hols next week - can’t wait.

Duncan Jones teases Rogue Trooper movie

This is pretty cool. As a fan of all things 2000AD, I was excited when I saw the above tweet and video.

Jones, Director of Muse, Moon and Source Code is stepping into the 'Megaverse' (I didn't know that was a thing, but it's a cool name) and pretty much announced he is going to make Rogue Trooper into a film.

Rogue is probably one of my second or third favourite characters from the anarchic British comic, so it's great to hear that things are moving forward on this. I remember reading years ago that someone was trying to do this and nothing ever happened, but hopefully Jones has enough clout to get something off the ground this time around.

A Rogue Trooper fan film was released on YouTube recently, and has had pretty decent views which may be connect to Jones' announcement

I just hope it does better than another 'Megaverse' title: the excellent Karl Urban's Dredd.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Down with this sort of thing! A very British protest

Last week I managed to go along to the Tr*mp protest march. I've witnessed one or two protest marches before but this was the first one I've ever actully participated in, although I must admit I was slightly on the sidelines taking photos. But - I did shout 'down with Tr*mp' a few times in a typically British introverted manner - yay me!

Here are some photos and video of the event:

©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner
©2018 Justin Chaloner

It was quite a bemusing experience. There were speeches from lots of random people (which at the start were really difficult to hear due to lack of PA so made the whole thing a bit boring), and plenty of weird and wonderful human beings joining in the fun (as well as some norms like me). It was nothing like the protests in London the day after, but seeing as Cardiff is relatively small I think it was a decent turnout (apparently there was also a protest going on in Cardiff Bay by the Senedd at the same time).

I think it's a good thing to do, although whether it will succeed at effecting change is, I think, hard to prove. At least it shows people care about something, and lets those in power see the plebs aren't totally inert (and I include myself as one of those plebs).

The problem with Drumpf is that he has his own reality distortion field which means he sees 250,000 people screaming how much they hate him and claims there were many people protesting 'in his favour'. His particular brand of narcissitic personality disorder is kind of worrying seeing as he's the world's most powerful leader. As Scott Santens on Twitter points out:
Whether or not people can come together to agree on ignoring 45 is debatable (OK, well, pretty much impossible), but it would be an interesting experiment. Unfortunately, because of who Drumpf is, he can't really be ignored. He's the president of the United States, after all. If everyone ignored him and let him be, who knows what he'd get up to.

And that, sadly, may be why we are all doomed.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Universal Basic Income, anyone?

What have I been up to lately?

Well, life and work have been a bit overwhelming and trying to keep on top of this blog has proven exhausting.

Thankfully, I have finally come up for some air and managed to think about my blog again. I've just about managed to keep on top of my film reviews (almost at the 50 mark so far this year!), but not much else. I hope to try and revive my weekly updates as well as any other tidbits of news (not that I ever have much news to write about).

One thing I have been working on, however, is a new Twitter account devoted entirely to the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI). It took me a long time to bring myself to doing it, mainly because of the fear of committing to another new project (I have too many things going on as it is), but I must say this is a subject I am really passionate about.

I have written about UBI before but not in great detail, but it is an idea which has been going around my head for years. The first time I came across it was when I read a book called 'The Play Ethic' by Pat Kane which talks about a 'social wage' - money paid to citizens without any strings attached, to fight povery and enable people to live contented, fulfilled lives . If you're unfamiliar with UBI, I strongly recommend you look it up. I won't go into detail here (not right now, at least), but do please follow my Twitter account, which is a local UBI account for the Cardiff region.

Here's the link: https://twitter.com/CardiffUbi

I've not got many followers, but it's been gradually going up since it started so hopefully I can build a decent audience. I'm not expecting to set the world on fire, but at least it feels like I'm doing my bit.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

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

#45 The Longest Day (1962)
A sweeping, epic retelling of one of the most important moments in modern history, The Longest Day covers the D-Day landings from almost every perspective which is quite a challenge. Still holds up well to this day, though, even in comparison to the the grittier Saving Private Ryan.

#46 Atomic Blonde (2017)
Charlize Theron is enigmatic and devastating as a cold war spy in this 80s-based thriller. Such nostalgic throwback films (with their mix tape soundtracks and overly-idealisitic portrayal of the period) are slightly wearing but this makes up for it with oodles of style and intrigue along with a great performance from James McAvoy.

#47 Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Lacking the overall sweep of The Longest Day (and failing to include any of the other allied nations), this is still one of the greatest war films ever made. From the gut-wrenching, harrowing opening sequence on Omaha beach to the nail-biting finale this is Spielberg at his storytelling best.

#48 Hop (2011)
Trying to do for Easter what Christmas movies do for Christmas, Hop is a fairly entertaining movie, despite completely ignoring the fundamental religious reason for the holiday and making up some elaborate rabbit-based backstory that feels remarkably like the mythos for Santa Claus. Even so, Russell Brand is likeable as the adolescent rabbit trying to find his place in the made-up fairytale chocolate distribution business.

#49 Dunkirk (2017)
Telling the story of the remarkable British withdrawl from continental Europe at the start of World War 2, Dunkirk is beautifully shot and makes it one of the best-looking war films at least. Its story structure is (no doubt intentionally) disorienting, but helps to masterfully build tension. Thankfully Christopher Nolan steers clear of an overly long running time and keeps things tight.