Monday, May 16, 2016

Trailer for my first short film, Refuge

The first short film I've ever directed is nearing completion, and it won't be long before we start submitting to film competitions etc.

This has been a painfully slow process in a lot of ways, mainly because I have had to commit to other things a lot of the time (ie paid work, family etc). Had I been able to focus on this solely and nothing else it would be finished weeks ago and we'd be working on the next one.

Anyhoo, here's a teaser trailer to whet people's appetite:

You can follow all that's going on with the film here:
Twitter -
Facebook -
Website -

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Films I've seen of late (April)

Whiplash (2014)
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are student and tutor in this enthralling and mesmerizing story about power and control. Teller plays the young drummer who gets sucked into the gravitational pull of Simmons' maniacal tyrant. The student is manipulated in various ways all in the name of excellence. The finale is breathtaking but leaves you with an interesting take on what it means to be the best of the best.

The Second Best Marigold Hotel (2015)
A bunch of old British people living in India get up to some mischief trying to save their beloved hotel from going under (or something). Watchable, but I found it hard to feel emotionally engaged. Oh, and Richard Gere's in it.

RED 2 (2013)
More of the same spy-jinks as in the last one. Similarly fun but forgettable. Oh, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is in it.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
There was a danger that the adventures of Po would slide into half-baked ridiculousness, but Dreamworks has managed to maintain the quality and tone of the previous two films. Still lots of fun with awesome set pieces, Panda 3 doesn't disappoint. Whether this can be continued on for the next two sequels which as in the works remains to be seen.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015)
When you go with the kids to see a film about chipmunks that can talk (albeit in an annoying hard-to-understand high pitched voice), you don't have very high expectations. I didn't, and that's all I can say.

Left Behind (2014)
You see, the thing about this film is that it was derided when it came out. Nicholas Cage was accused of sleepwalking through his role, and its overtly Christian messages were too much (even for Christian audiences it seems). You might think this is all about the Rapture of the biblical End Times, but it's actually more about a father-daughter relationship that needs mending in the middle of things going pear-shaped on a biblical scale. Maybe – like Alvin and the Chipmunks – because my expectations were so low, I didn't think this film was too bad. Yes, it's clearly made on a low budget and features quite a lot of terrible acting but the story holds up (just). Honestly, it could have been a lot worse.

The Guard
An hilarious take on the buddy cop movie with Brendan Gleeson as a local Garda and Don Cheadle as an FBI agent teaming up to track down some drug smugglers and bent cops. Full of surreal moments and Irish humour, it deals with both sinister and comedic moments with ease.

Batman v Superman
I've already written a full review, which can be read here. Needless to say, most critics and fans disagree with me. This is fine – people are entitled to their own opinions – but the vehement hatred for what is just a fun comic book movie seems over the top and unnecessary.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Why the Universal Basic Income's time has finally come

I have had many interactions with Her Majesty's Revenue and Custom (HMRC) over the years, and most of the time it has been bewildering and frustrating. The people on the phone are usually polite and helpful but the odd one tends to make you feel like you're some kind of naughty, idiotic child who's out to fleece the entire HM Treasury.

I recently had to update HMRC on our tax credit details and I had all the figures given to me by my accountant. When I tried to supply the information to the guy on the end of the phone, he countered what I was saying and got me all flummoxed and flustered so I ended up say I'd go away and check everything. I then rang back with new figures and got off the phone as quickly as I could only to feel lacking in confidence entirely about the information I'd provided.

I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but when it comes to anything tax-related my brain melts and I can't seem to function. Maths was never my strong point, but I know if I put my mind to it I can do it. The British tax system, however, is so incredibly complex and baffling that I'm not surprised people try and evade the whole thing altogether.

This is partly why I am a strong supporter of the universal basic income. It has other names (e.g. social wage), but the principle is the same. Every adult receives an unconditional monthly income – enough to survive on – replacing all other state benefits or welfare. Once a month, the government gives you a bit of money for merely existing. You can spend it however you like, but you don't get any other handouts, and that's it. No strings attached whatsoever.

It would mean no more frustrating calls to HMRC, no tedious forms to fill in and no feeling of government officials watching over your shoulder to see what you're spending your money on. Of course, people would still pay tax through their regular employment so it's not like HMRC would cease to have any purpose.

It's just I won't have to dread calling them every year not really knowning what I'm talking about.

And that would definitely be a good thing.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Video: Everything you need to know about the Millennium Falcon

To celebrate Star Wars Day (May the 4th - geddit?), I've put together this little video celebrating the wonderful Millennium Falcon spaceship.

I've always loved this ship - the design is so unique: robust and quirky yet surprisingly agile-looking. I had one of the Kenner toy Falcons when I was a kid and played it to death, going on countless imaginary adventures. It was such a cool piece of plastic.

It was heartening to see it back in The Force Awakens and I'm sure it will be around for a while yet. The thing is virtually indestructable, thank goodness!