Friday, 31 December 2010

My Epic Review of the Year


January

What do you get when you cross Wyclef Jean, the Haitian
flag and some superglue?

2010 got off to a rather bleak start when Haiti, no stranger to hardship, suffered the first of two horrific disasters. Numero uno appeared on the 12th when a devastating earthquake hit near the capital Port-au-Prince, killing over 230,000 people and leaving many more homeless. The second arrived in August in the shape of Wyclef Jean, a Haitian-born ex-Fugees member who thought his musical talents could be put to better use by becoming President of a politically unstable third-world country and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like a complete lack of suitable credentials whatsoever stand in his way. Luckily for the people of Haiti his nomination was deemed ineligible, although Sisqo retains his post as Foreign Secretary.

February

Not to be outdone by a Caribbean island, Chile got in on the act by experiencing its own earthquake, although the measly 521 death toll meant that the media quickly lost interest. Thus began an ingenious conspiracy to capture the imagination of every nation on earth, and all it would require is a mine and a bunch of men in hard hats...



Movies

The Good...

4) Cemetery Junction

The Bad...

1) Four Lions
2) Killers
3) The Collector*
4) A Single Man*
5) Defendor*


The Disappointing...

2) Alice in Wonderland
3) The Crazies
4) Kick-Ass

*Released domestically in 2009 but 2010 in UK.

March

"It's this big." Obama finally confirms the age old legend
about black men.

The Richest Country in The World™ (hint: not Greece) finally passed into law a reform for health care, despite the protestations of far right nut-jobs who think NHS is Newspeak for KGB. Actually their concerns were understandable; who wants a multi-billion dollar health service to cover all those pesky casualties?  (Though admittedly there’d be far fewer if they didn't cling so blindly to that silly second amendment of theirs).

We Brits call this irony.



April

Just as Iceland’s volcanic ash was providing UKIP with yet more reasons to distrust EU integration, an accident of far greater magnitude was occurring slightly closer to the equator when an off-shore oil rig went tits up and made the Exxon Valdez affair look like a mere drop in the ocean... (wink). Cue footage of disgruntled fishermen and Pelicans painted black interspersed with the occasional glimpse of Obama surveying the devastation like a Bush in New Orleans. Meanwhile our century-old special relationship became fraught with complications as Tony Hayward, then BP-head and current corner-cutting advisor to Pakistan, delivered such career-killing quips as “I just want my life back”, a comment which could not have been more insensitive had it been uttered whilst slam-dunking a seagull. In fact, so unrestrained by gravity were those smug lips in offering a compassion-free apology that it would have been more forgivable had he turned up in Florida with a box of matches.



The Best Books What I ‘Ave Red

1) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
2) Needful Things by Stephen King
3) Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
4) Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
5) Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Close, But No Cigar

1) Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
2) Under the Dome by Stephen King
3) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
4) The Basic Writings of Nietzsche by Friedrich Nietzsche
5) Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo



May

In the same month that Britain got a new government, it also got just a teensy bit racist. Having been absent from the headlines for all of five minutes, Israel once again became the pariah of choice for liberal loons after a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla resulted in the deaths of several innocent terrorists. Leading the anti-Zionist (see: anti-Semitic) tirade was the ever-reliable BBC whose, ahem, unbiased coverage was less one-sided than a Murray/Nadal match. Of course a cynical, less reputable network would have provided us with a menagerie of trivial information regarding the flotilla and its passengers, such as their direct ties to Hamas; video footage capturing the brutal murder of an Israeli soldier; the possession of weapons aboard a supposedly ‘peaceful’ ship; the chanting of a provocative Islamic battle cry celebrating Muhammad’s victory over the Jewish village of Khaybar in 629; refusal to allow an inspection by armed forces despite repeat warnings which had been pre-empted by a general determination to use resistance against any Israeli occupation; the comments of one 'activist' who confirmed she was awaiting martyrdom; blah, blah, blah...

In fact a true sceptic would no doubt point to Israel’s superior human rights record, the 15,000 tons in aid which it provides to Palestine every single week or the almost orchestrated manner in which mass demonstrations appeared across the globe within mere hours of the incident being reported. Not that I am in any way suggesting this was a conspiracy – and even if it was, I’ll bet the Jews were behind it...



Game of the Year

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Prettier than a room full of Japanese girls.



June

"England has been knocked out of the World Cup." 

In other news, the Earth is round and AIDS is bad for you. As per usual the country built up its hopes, choosing to become fiercely patriotic for all of two weeks before succumbing to that good old fashioned British pessimism and tearing down every St. George flag in sight. Of course the real controversy over the summer was the vuvuzela, a bizarre horn capable of drowning out the cacophony of racist chants by uninformed white men who presumably expected the natives to celebrate using nothing but spears.

July

Much like Cheryl Cole’s malaria scare, the conclusion of the Raoul Moat saga turned out to be as disappointing as a Coronation Street tram crash. Following the Cumbrian re-enactment of Derrick Bird’s Taxi Driver (1976) only a month before, Britain was quickly becoming home to more serial killers than a Hitchcock boxset. Although the final body count deemed him ineligible for serial status, the media’s unhealthy interest in larger than life stories spiralled out of control to frighteningly Natural Born Killers (1994)-like proportions. Through every fault of their own, journalists inadvertently painted this fat tumour with a pulse as a modern day anti-hero who soon garnered support, via the web, from chav-tastic fuckwits who had difficulty spelling their own name let alone that of the Facebook pages in his honour. It all ended rather dramatically when, following a six hour stand-off with police, he shot himself upon discovering his hair was still ginger. An official enquiry later revealed a plume of unanswered questions: What drove him to murder? Could his death have been avoided? And why was a white man named Raoul?



The Biggest... Occurances?

1) Returning to work
2) Beginning therapy
3) Getting circumcised
4) Completing therapy – new and improved
5) Collecting all of Super Mario Galaxy 2’s 242 stars



August

This was the month in which, thanks to animal lover Mary Bale, a cat found itself the new resident of a town called wheelie bin. The fallout was huge: Britain came to a standstill, the FTSE and NASDAQ plummeted, mass demonstrations occurred throughout central Europe; not since a Dutchman drew naughty pictures had the world reacted so reasonably. That this could be the cause of so much controversy when OXFAM and CAFOD appeals attract nary a second glance merely underscored how woefully irrational the general public really is, a point to which the culprit herself alluded by declaring, “It’s only a cat.” And hey, at least it put Coventry on the map. My thoughts on the matter? I’m more of a dog person.



Most Satisfying Image

UKIP leader Nigel Farage emerges from a plane wreckage.
Priceless.



September

Taking a break from re-interpreting scriptures and sending fags to hell, ex- Hitler Youth member and all around pedo protector Pope Benedict arrived in Britain espousing the importance of unconditional faith whilst placing his own in the inventors of Kevlar and bullet proof glass. The hypocrisy didn’t end there though, as theists everywhere were warned about the supposed rise of belligerent non-believers; an amusingly belated call to arms considering they have long outnumbered Catholics in the UK by approximately 2 to 1. Still, this didn’t stop his holiness going straight for the Darwinian jugular and holding atheism solely responsible for the holocaust; an embarrassingly shallow argument which not only fails to take into consideration Hitler’s religious background but also unintentionally indicts religion as an enabler; man may have killed the Jews, but it was your God that let it happen. And while many were no doubt lured in by this apocalyptic condemnation of Godless heathens, one should remember the following: No one ever flew a plane into a building because they didn’t believe in God.


Besides, you believe in a talking snake.


Atheism -1, Religion – 0.



Douchebags

1) Julian Assange
2) Clare Solomon
3) Wayne Rooney
4) James Cordon
5) Sarah Palin



October

Folks love happy endings, so rarely do they occur. Take for instance the rescue of 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped underground for a whopping 69 days. Amidst a flurry of gay sex jokes there were scenes of great jubilation as people everywhere took to the streets in celebration of a country most of them would have difficulty locating on a map. The party was short-lived however, when one of the men was revealed to have been having a 10 year affair and another became a media sellout and Elvis impersonator – because there just aren’t enough of them around. Thanks a lot Chile...



The Annoying Comments of Toys ‘R’ Us Customers

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! HE'S GOING TO EAT US!!

1) (Regarding the boardgame ‘Operation’) “You haven’t got any? You had loads in the Coventry store."
2) “How can they not have them in? It’s the year’s most popular toy.”
3) “My grandson won’t like that, he’s very advanced for his age.”
 4) “I’m looking for something for my niece, do you have any suggestions?”
5) “You don’t have any adult games?”



November

Horrified at the prospect of having to pay for their education, alienated teenagers swarmed en masse upon our capital city, driven by both conformity and the frustration of not knowing entirely what they were rebelling against. Ever since Vietnam, universities have become little more than breeding grounds for revolutionaries who care less about their degree than fighting for something – anything, just to give a sense of worth to their piddling little existence. My advice to students is this: If you’re that desperate to belong, go join a religious suicide cult and do us all a favour.

December

It’s a sad day for democracy when a suspected rapist isn’t even allowed to publish official government documents for the whole world to see, irrespective of whether or not the public should have legal access to said information. For being a threat to national security, WikiLeaks I thank you.*

*For maximum effect, this paragraph should be read as sarcastically as possible.




Happy New Year!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Hidden Gems: Prep & Landing (2009)


*This German Shepherd is in fact Bolt (2008) just with a different paint job.

















*When Lanny is channel hopping, we see a clip from Mickey’s A Christmas Carol (1983).















*The name on the milk carton, Deters, is named after Kevin Deters, the film’s co-writer/director.
















*In Timmy’s room there is a picture of Goofy taken from the poster for How to Hook Up Your Home Theater (2007).














*This snow-covered car? It’s licence plate reads 12501 WED, shorthand for Walt Elias Disney who was born on December 5th 1901.


Friday, 17 December 2010

Tron Legacy (PG)



When the credits roll, the lights return to the theatre and you find yourself stood outside in the freezing British weather, you may be stricken with a terrible indecision; were those previous two hours really worth the wait or did I just witness an overly long ejaculation of sci-fi superficiality? There’s no denying that Tron Legacy straddles a precariously fine line, struggling as it does to weave an effective humanism alongside its more visually gratifying counterpart. Yet even acknowledging its faults, this reviewer finds it almost impossible to heap anything but praise upon such a towering achievement. 

Tron is, undoubtedly, a film littered with peaks and troughs. Much like its predecessor, what little content there is proudly takes a backseat to the technical dexterity which permeates practically every shot. Not that the style completely overwhelms substance; indeed, the attempt to build a compelling father and son story as an emotional counterpoint to all that running and jumping is admirable, if not entirely successful, although this is never the fault of a script which for the most part evades any hackneyed dialogue. A mid-point dip in which a bloated and indistinct backstory spews forth more exposition than you can shake a screenplay at does little to alleviate the notion that Tron is all filler, no killer. Yet arguably the least successful thread of this multi-faceted tapestry is the brooding, almost joyless atmosphere which refuses to lift during even the relatively few lighter moments. It’s this lack of ‘fun’ which has attracted the wrath of many a critic and it’s sure to alienate family audiences expecting something a little frothier; not a wholly unreasonable assumption given the Disney moniker and PG certificate.

So how exactly can this be viewed as anything less than a disappointment? Well, because somehow it all feels right. Given the original’s rather downbeat depiction of a digital dystopia, it should be seen not as a failing but a remarkable accomplishment that Legacy is able to replicate the same sombre tonality and alienated sense of foreboding which made its forebear so iconic; a feat which is all the more laudable considering the 28 year gap between movies. Oppressive the ambience may be, but it does at least reinforce the severity of the situation in which our characters find themselves and it’s refreshing to see a blockbuster pursue darker material. Commendable too is the decision to steer clear of the moody, Daddy-never-loved-me teenage lead in favour of a more mature protagonist, competently depicted by an amiable Garrett Hedlund, while Olivia Wilde’s Quorra is equal amounts independent, vulnerable and utterly enchanting. Unsurprisingly, Jeff Bridges is on fine form, delivering not one but two impressive performances as both Flynn Senior and the evil Clu, whose dodgy CG modifications thankfully don’t detract from a generally satisfying portrayal.

Of course, no one really cares about such things, least of all the teenage boys at whom this film is clearly aimed. Like last year’s Avatar (2009), the appeal of Tron Legacy rests entirely upon its visual merits which have been heralded by even the most disparaging of critics as nothing short of breathtaking. Is the hype justified? Emphatically yes, although trying to describe the experience would be an exercise in futility – like explaining sight to a blind person. Suffice to say, director Joseph Kosinski does a phenomenal job of imbuing each set piece with a childlike energy, wielding the camera throughout live action and CG backgrounds with graceful ease; this isn’t just a film, it’s an experience. Never before has the integration of actors into a digital environment looked so effortless. High octane sequences are littered with beautifully mastered slow motion shots juxtaposed with a frequently increased frame rate, the combination of which produces a hypnotic kaleidoscope of balletic-like imagery. It’s a truly immersive world, whose effect is only heightened by the excellent use of 3D which avoids the pitfalls of lesser productions that so often resort to gimmicks. Here it’s implemented not as the main event, but as an extra tool. Impressive without being showy, stimulating but not overbearing, it’s arguably the finest use of 3D since A Christmas Carol (2009). 

Even without all the bells and whistles, Kosinski demonstrates a deft awareness of aesthetic design and composition. The real world appears in good old-fashioned 2D, a clever technique which helps underscore the disparity once those glasses come out. Better still are the Kubrickian settings whose sterile, minimalist furnishings recall those found in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). I’d like to think if old Stanley were watching, he’d be flattered by the comparison.


****


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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) ***
The Matrix (1999) *****
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Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Centre Of The Universe-ity

"Sarah, which war are we against this week?"
"I've no idea. Just chant 'Israel.'"

While many people have attempted to defend yesterday’s protests, claiming that it was only a small minority of individuals who resorted to violent tactics, they appear to have entirely missed one major point; that demonstrations of any kind were completely unnecessary. A rise in tuition fees is not a sign of the impending apocalypse, an evil that needs to be vanquished or an infringement of our civil rights – it simply means graduates will have more money to pay back, which, considering the austerity measures taken to combat this country’s embarrassingly large deficit, is a necessary undertaking. There are however, those who would compare the current “crisis” to the suffragette movement or even more nonsensically, the American Civil Rights Movement. Not only is such a comparison wildly inaccurate, it is deeply offensive to those who fought for the type of freedoms which yesterday’s protestors appear to have forgotten, insensitively staging a mass protestation during Remembrance Week no less. Of course, the fact that I myself am a graduate and come from a low income family yet have always agreed with the requirement for tuition fees, apparently means nothing; I’m right wing and therefore staunchly opposed to liberal ideology. So to put it to the test, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the issues which were apparently of less importance to the liberally minded students who chose instead to protest against spending money:


*Abu Hamza, militant preacher and enemy of the state, remains a British citizen, his family lives in a £600,000 council house paid for by taxpayers and he has to date cost the country £3.5 million.

*The continued presidency in Zimbabwe of Robert Mugabe whose government has been responsible for the deaths of approximately one third of the entire population.

*Illegalised homosexuality in Nigeria which in some states is punishable by death by stoning.

*The building of a Mosque near ground zero in New York whose sponsors have direct ties to Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas.

*The abysmal human rights violations of North Korea which lists amongst its many crimes public executions, the interment of disabled people inside concentration camps and the imprisonment of between 150,000 to 200,000 political activists.

*The adoption of nuclear power by Iran, a country whose Ayatollah is legally permitted to place a fatwa on those he deems enemies of Allah and whose President openly denies the Holocaust, seeks the destruction of Israel and provides ICBMs to the Palestinian government.

*The adoption of Sharia Law which in its most faithful application includes physical violence against women, punishment for the victims of rape and the complete removal of human rights for homosexuals.

*The imprisonment of Nobel prize winner Liu Xiaobo for publicly campaigning for political reform.


But hey, if you feel that being required to pay off a debt which will only be payable once you earn over £21,000 is of greater moral significance, then go ahead. Paint your little slogan, buy your Che Guevara T-shirt and head on down to the latest march... Just don’t deceive yourself into thinking it’s going to make the slightest bit of difference. You’re not a revolutionary, you’re just a child.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Confessions Of A Christmas Temp

Currently facing disciplinary action

Today I completed my second shift at Toys R Us, which, all syntactical incoherency aside, is actually quite an enjoyable place to work. So far my job has consisted of placing toys on shelves, an act which not only allows me to flex my woefully underused forearms but also provides me with a plethora of ideas for this year’s Christmas presents. I’ve been assigned to Universe of Imagination, or ‘UOI’ for those in the know, and it’s ideal for many reasons. For one thing it is largely secluded from the rest of the store, so I needn’t be bothered by other staff members visiting my island with their half-baked notions of becoming acquainted with the new guy – Honestly, what kind of person do they think I am? Secondly, their decision to place me in the art section was inspired as it affords me the opportunity to browse one of my favourite subjects, although I can’t help but think my thick framed glasses played a part in landing me in the nerdy area. Finally, my strategic position beside the multimedia department means that I get to watch girls embarrass themselves in front of their boyfriend with Playstation Move, trailers for Donkey Kong Country Returns and a video of Jamie Cullum humming the Mario theme. Admittedly, that last one isn’t a particular high point.

Spell checker would have a field day

Surprisingly, my distaste for the general public has remained largely dormant up to this point, although this clearly won’t be the case a month from now when single mothers take it out on me because they can’t afford a Buzz Lightyear for Christmas due to having spent their benefits on take-aways and crack. Fa la la la la, la la la. Actually, there were a few individuals today who made me wish I knew the correct way to deliver a headbutt; one woman to whom I offered assistance looked at me like I’d just asked for her wallet and jewellery; another family, after seeing their “delightful” little gremlin drop his crisps all over the floor, hastily moved on without even acknowledging what the little pramchair-bound antichrist had done. Thankfully, there were more positives than negatives to prevent me from having a Michael Douglas-inspired, Falling Down (1993) moment. Old people continue to keep the jigsaw business afloat, staunchly defying modern technology in favour of card cut into shapes. No actually it’s really quite sweet. Plus it helps me to forget that they’ll probably be dead before Christmas.

In other news, the music is really quite fabulous. So far I’ve sung to The Lightening Seeds, The Lighthouse Family and Simply Red. For a toy store, the choice of audio is really quite old-fashioned (which suits me down to the ground) though I am growing rather tiresome of the theme tune which gives constant praise to Geoffrey, an employee I’ve yet to meet. Still, it’s not all bad; today I spotted my first paedophile.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Black, Like My Men*


How very... San Francisco.

Never again shall I visit Costa’s on my lonesome. Earlier today I decided to take a trip into town in the hope of liberating my writer’s block. After having narrowly avoided a head on collision with a man in a wheelchair, I headed straight for The Works where I perused a disappointing assortment of dictionaries. Having failed to find several words including verisimilitude and synesthesia, my faith in 'Collins' was understandably shaken and so I sought solace in the aforementioned coffee establishment. I ordered my quasi regular Mocha coffee, sans flake, and moved to the collection point. It was then that I was asked, as is routine, if I would like chocolate sprinkles. I said yes, but I had no idea that this topping would be in the shape of a giant heart. To the woman behind me this must surely have been the most pathetic thing she had ever seen; a young man, alone, and so starved for affection that he requests for baristas to add heart patterns to his drink. Still, just in case I hadn’t conveyed the full extent of my innate social backwardness, I then proceeded to do some light reading... of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility. Indeed it is no wonder that most women think I’m gay. Or at the very least mildly pathetic. This will change next time however, as I'll be accompanied by my mother :).

*This is an Airplane! (1980) joke. If you have not seen Airplane!* you have no sense of humour and are probably a Mormon. 



*I have not added the exclamation mark for dramatic effect, it really is part of the title.*



*Sorry that was a typo.

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Social Network (12A)



If the internet is the zeitgeist of our generation, then Facebook is surely its annex. Consequently, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for true-life stories beckoned but the speed at which the film arrived reeked of nothing more than the corporate exploitation of a cultural fad. That The Social Network succeeds in painting a mature, lucid and intelligent account of Mark Zuckerburg’s rise to wealth is a surprise indeed, though whether it is a success or not depends entirely on how one views it.

Before I give voice to my criticisms (of which there are few), I’ll detail the film’s considerable merits, not least of which is Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant screenplay. The opening scene alone features more witticisms than most scripts achieve in their entirety. The dialogue is quick, biting and superfluously clever and virtually every line is option-able as a potential clip for that inevitable nomination at next year’s Oscars. Admittedly, it’s the complete antithesis of the sort of realistic dialogue espoused by screenwriting ‘gurus’, but as a champion of stylistic speech, I could not be more pleased. In fact, at times it threatens to become too clever, emerging as a star in its own right and eclipsing the efforts of all those involved. Thankfully the cast performs each scene with a genuine lack of pretension, avoiding the type of self-importance of which overly ostentatious features like Brick (2005) are highly guilty. The increasingly likeable Jesse Eisenberg is particularly well-cast, delivering his lines with brutal conviction and shaking off his Zombie/Adventureland (2009) image with ease. His character is equal amounts admirable and loathsome, a delicate balance which very young actors could manage.

So where exactly does it falter? Well, mainly in direction. Visually, this is Fincher’s least ambitious work, although the sterile environments and direct shooting style do help to reinforce the central theme of communication. And indeed, all his auteurist trademarks can be spotted; low key lighting, rapid pans, clean cuts, offbeat soundtrack – and for the most part it works. The real problem is his inability to reign himself in. Fincher has always dabbled with postmodernism, be it the multi-layered ambivalence of Fight Club (1999) or Seven (1995)’s subversion of narrative conventions, but his recent work has taken perspectivism to the extreme. Zodiac (2007) lacked any real resolution while The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) flirted with numerous ideas, none of which were consistent. The same is true of The Social Network. What starts out as an underdog story gradually descends into a (highly falsified) warning against capital greed and halfway through our protagonist takes a backseat to proceedings. Things aren’t helped by the constant back-and-forth cutting between an often languid courtroom setting and Zuckerberg’s past. Ultimately, my real concern is this film’s struggle to identify itself; is this a film about the creator of Facebook, or Facebook itself? My guess is that it was supposed to be about the former, but in the process Tinsletown had to spice things up a little. At no point are we given a real insight to Zuckerberg’s character, his wants, his needs, and by the end of the picture you’re likely to struggle to answer what exactly it was all about.

So how one views The Social Network really determines how well it succeeds. As a simple origin tale it’s perfectly enjoyable but if you’re looking for anything deeper, prepare to be disappointed.

***

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Monday, 18 October 2010

My Model Romance


Megara - setting impossible standards
since 1997.

Dear reader, I have a confession to make – I am not a catch. My experience with the fairer sex is limited to say the least. Over the past 9 months I could count on one hand the entirety of my intimate encounters; with said hand belonging to an Iraqi thief. Although I subscribe this unrelenting loneliness to my failings as a man/lover/remotely interesting human being (delete as appropriate), external critics have the audacity to claim that unattainable standards are the true cause of my reclusive longevity. Poppycock I say! Pish posh! And other such snobbish onomatopoeia.

True, my standards may be somewhat ambitious but they’re far from impossible. I’m not asking for Aphrodite, but nor am I willing to settle for Medusa. As a matter of fact I’d be prepared to forego many of my stipulations provided that she/it is at least able to emerge the loser in a Janet Street porter-lookalike competition. That being said, I thought this would be the ideal platform on which to describe my dream woman should she ever stumble across this blog, which admittedly is about as likely as Osama bin Laden receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Then again, they did give it to this man.

Personality: A sense of humour is the number one priority. If the words of Frankie Boyle make her recoil in politically correct horror, she is not the girl for me. She must be creative, open-minded and staunchly conservative. Independent enough to trust her own opinions but intelligent enough to agree with mine.

See: Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Jennifer Saunders

Appearance: Facial hair is a definite turn-off, as is a police record. I am quite partial to a few tattoos and some red hair – basically Gwen Stefani before she turned old. Oh and her chest should be of a size capable of intimidating a small child.

See: Monica Bellucci, Christina Ricci, Jessica Rabbit

Ethnicity: To quote David Brent, I’d do most nationalities. Like all socially inept young men I have a strong preference for East Asians of the submissive ilk, the Japanese being my favourite. I’ve also developed a slight crush on black women of late, although if it is indeed true that once you go black you’ll never go back, I may turn out to be the biggest disappointment since Spider-man 3 (2007).

See: Rosario Dawson, Salma Hayek, Zhang Ziyi

Religion: Preferably without, or at least none-practicing – so most Christians then. Actually, provided she doesn’t follow the anti-Semitic teachings of a certain book (mentioning no names but it rhymes with one half of Duran Duran), I’d be willing to overlook anyone’s irrational belief in a higher power, providing that I’m able to ridicule and critique it at any given moment.

See: Richard Dawkins

Phwooar! There's nothing sexier than an atheist.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Where Do Wii Go From Here?

The line-up for Smash Bros. 4 was the
weakest yet.

Come March next year, millions of Mario aficionados will have their dextrously conditioned hands gripped tightly around Nintendo’s latest handheld, the 3DS. That it’s going to be a hit is a no-brainer, but with the Wii looking increasingly dated the question is what are the plans for Ninty’s next home console?

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t time to pull the curtain on the little white box just yet. Epic Mickey, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Goldeneye are all on the horizon while 2011 has both Kirby (for Europe) and Zelda at hand. Still, 2010 has seen an inevitable decline in Wii sales and with the release of Move and Kinect this is only going to get worse. To be fair, it’s highly unlikely that either product will capture the public’s imagination quite as impressively as Nintendo has, but sales figures aside, the Wii is far from infallible:

1) The technology is dated and has been from the moment it launched when the much hyped motion controls turned out to be far less accurate than originally thought. In fact 1:1 precision movement didn’t become available until 2 years later by which time most third parties had settled for using the remote as little more than a stick to be shaken. This leads me to:

2) Shovelware. Without the Nintendo seal of approval, studios have seen fit to publish any old rubbish and as such the Wii is often seen (wrongly) as a children’s toy. Admittedly, Nintendo hasn’t exactly endeared itself to fans by pursuing the casual market but there’s no denying that Wii Sports et al provide great entertainment for all but the most ardent of game snobs. And the last year has in fact seen a gradual return to hardcore gaming with the likes of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M.

3)Unfortunately, what sells best on Nintendo is Nintendo and third party games rarely achieve the same level of success as a Mario or Pokemon. As such, the big N has pretty much exhausted it’s main catalogue for this generation, SMG2 being the peak. Sure there’s Zelda and Pikmin to look forward to, but after that? Should the Wii Vitality Sensor ever see the light of day – yet another useless peripheral – it certainly won’t be enough to sustain a 2-3 year lifespan.

4) Nintendo is staunchly opposed to embracing the internet, at least to the degree of its competitors. Whether this trepidation towards online functionality is based on cultural factors or an arrogant unwillingness to follow the crowd I can’t possibly say, but it is one which has plagued both the Wii and DS since their release. The lack of memory space, regular updates, online support, multimedia and freedom to explore has aged the Wii considerably over the past 4 years.

So what should we expect? And more importantly, when? Well, it seems blatantly clear that ‘Wii 2’ will arrive before Sony and Microsoft’s efforts. Their current machines were built for longevity and with Move and Kinect just launching they’ll want to get the most out of these latest accessories. The Wii on the other hand really has very little left up its sleeve. The technology which once wowed us has now been eclipsed and all the reliable franchises have been used up. Sure there’s always the possibility of F-Zero X or Starfox making a late appearance, but I wouldn’t count on it. With the 3DS poised to become the go to console over the next few years, I’d expect it to be the number one system for any first party series. And you can rule out a third Mario Galaxy right now. So unless Nintendo choose to milk the Wii for another 3 years, 2012 seems to me the likeliest date. It would be economic suicide to release both a home console and a portable within the same year so that rules out 2011. 2013 on the other hand leaves a huge gap with very few quality titles and the already inferior graphics will look positively draconian in three years’ time. My guess is that the first solid mention of the Wii’s successor will be during the next E3. In true Nintendo fashion this will be little more than a teaser, with the following year being the big reveal.

Regarding the specs, at this point it’s anyone’s guess. If the 3DS is anything to go by, expect a significant boost in horsepower, with a sizeable increase in memory and Sony/Microsoft-rivalling graphics. Nintendo has stated categorically that it won’t pursue 3D unless the effect can be achieved without the need for glasses so I’d rule that out entirely. Whatever happens though, you can guarantee that when it comes to Nintendo, expect the unexpected.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hidden Gems: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)


*During the song ‘Out There’, Quasimodo looks down into the street and sees no less than three in-jokes within the same shot! This picture isn’t particularly clear but you should be able to see Pumbaa from The Lion King (1994) being carried by two men, Belle from Beauty & the Beast (1991) in the bottom right-hand corner and the Magic Carpet from Aladdin (1992) just above her.









*The unlucky old man bears a striking resemblance to Jafar when he dresses in disguise to deceive Aladdin.



























*A Goofy holler is heard during the battle towards the end of the film.

MEDIAtations

Postmodernism, consumerism, feminism,
blah blah blah...


When Descartes wrote the immortal words Cogito ergo sum* (I think therefore I am), he believed he had established the bedrock on which all future speculation about the nature of reality could be built. Unfortunately, he went on to use it as an axiom as evidence of God’s existence which would be referred to by today’s youth as an epic fail – not to mention the solipsists and absurdists who take a very sceptical stance on any proof regarding reality. That being said, I’ve compiled a small list of things to look out for should you ever find yourself struggling to make a distinction between the real world and that of the movies.

*His actual words were “I think. I am” – someone unnecessarily added the conjunction therefore.



1) Don’t rush into things. Wait until that special someone is at the airport and about to board a plane before declaring your love.

2) Once a new gadget has been demonstrated for a secret agent, he or she is guaranteed to use it in their next mission. Interestingly, the same gadget will never be required in a future mission.

3) When the pesky 8 year old kid beckons you with the phrase “Come and get me”, it’s clearly a trap.

4) Although minor henchmen can be knocked unconscious with a single punch, the exact same technique is utterly useless against major characters.

5) Whilst being chased through a busy street, never circumvent people. Instead, push them out of the way in order to slow yourself down.

6) When that person tasked with tracking you down finally exits the room, jump out from your hiding place immediately – there’s absolutely no way he’ll return.

7) In order to increase efficiency, detectives with absolutely nothing in common are often paired together.

8) All English people are either posh or cockney. NB: This does not apply to working class dramas which most certainly will take place up north.

9) There are no fat or unattractive people in LA.

10) The number one priority during any alien invasion: Destroy the world’s landmarks.

11) Following an argument, it is perfectly normal to leave before touching the drink/meal you paid good money for.

12) During a phone conversation, a person will often repeat the information just given to them.

13) After knocking the killer unconscious, escape without finishing him off. (If possible, also leave his weapon behind).

14) When holed up with survivors during a zombie apocalypse, be careful; one of them has been bitten and is slowly transforming. On the plus side, nine times out of ten they’ll save your life by choosing to stay behind and blow themselves up rather than risk becoming one of them