Saturday 31 December 2011

Sweden, the Girl and The Journalist

Well we all know the risque poster with the half naked Rooney Mara and her pierced nipple and the fact it is yet another US remake of a brilliant Swedish film but all that guff aside, the film is really rather good. I should warn ye now, I haven't read any of the books but I am a big fan of the three previous films. I find I cannot read a book of the film if I have already seen the film, I have to read the book before I watch the film and that rarely happens. Anyway the new 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' film directed by David 'Fight Club' Fincher is really quite something.

For those who don't know the story and haven't even seen the amazing Swedish films, the story is about  a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) who is asked to find out what has happened to a girl who has been missing for 40 years, and who may have been murdered. He is helped by Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a young woman with a disturbing past, she becomes his research assistant and together they try a solve the crime.

After the beyond amazing opening titles including the amazing cover of 'Immigrant Song' by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross featuring a favourite of mine, Karen O, the story begins. Having seen the other films, I knew what was going to happen and so tried my best not to compare. The story was the same with a few changes but the film is not like the Swedish version. The violence seemed less vulgar and more staged, the villain at the end was more menacing (if that's possible) and Lisbeth's background was barely touched upon. The latter annoyed me as I felt she needed to be explained in depth but this might have taken a back seat in terms of story as it wasn't relevant to this part of the trilogy. But having less background knowledge did have an affect on the way I viewed Rooney Mara who played Salander. She was good, but not as convincing as Noomi Rapace who played Salander in the original films. Rapce had an edge about her character, she acted evil but not because she wanted to but because she had to. Mara played Lisbeth as a stone faced evil assassin which is not what I felt Lisbeth was, but that is my view.

Another aspect of the film I wasn't sure about was the relationship between Blomkvist and Salander. They seemed too intimate towards the end and the actually end, I did not agree with or like as it went against who Salander was. I don't want to say anymore in case I let something slip. Saying this, I thought the film was fantastic and I have a craving to see it again. The acting was superb and it was great to see less than four Americans in the film, using European and British actors gave the film a clear tone and made it sharper than it would have been if it was made with American accents. I recommend this film to anyone and urge those who love the original to go see it. I'm not saying it is better, I'm saying its different.

On a last note: Fincher has let me down in the past with a literary adaptation. I was really excited about 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' and the first time I saw it, I was impressed but a little bored in parts. I broke my rule about reading the book and read the short story by my favourite F.Scott Fitzgerald and oh my was I disappointed. The story is brilliant, better than the hack job the film. I saw it in a different light and considered several times (actually I still do) about selling my copy of the film. I was that disappointed. They changed everything in the film apart from the fact he ages backwards otherwise NOTHING is the same. I understand they needed to stretch the story a tad but with the material in the book they could have easily done this. And I would just like to add, there is no damn dying Daisy in the book, the one that took up half the film dying in bed, she was added in and named after another character in The Great Gatsby (also by Gerald). So after this, I do not dare read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, just in case I go crazy again.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Playing Cards, No Sales and Hobbits

Christmas day. After working from 8 til 5:30 on Christmas Eve and then staying up to drink Baileys and finish a few quiz questions until 1am, I was VERY tired for the next few days.

But I did (as usual) get up early and open presents! We just couldn't wait to open and give out presents, just like the boy from the John Lewis advert. We only opened a few, otherwise we wouldn't have had much to open later.

After nibbles, plenty of port and lemon drinks and a quiz from my Mum (which my aunty and I won), we all sat down and ate a delicious Christmas dinner as well as some strange trifle and the good old christmas pudding (I didn't partake in that). We pulled the crackers, moaned at the awful jokes and laughed at the fact more than two people ended up with eye patches (I think my Nan had been conned by the Garden Centre, which is where she got them). We had another short quiz and then dived into opening all the presents! But the day was not over until we played cards! First my Nan bumped into me spilling coffee all over us, then we argued about the rules of 'Sweat', played a few games of 'Shithead' which produced the quote of Christmas from me. Having helped my Nan with her hand of cards, I saw what she had, so by the next round I was able to get her out or whatever and shouted 'BAM! You ain't got it!' then I realised who I was taking to and everyone burst out laughing. We played a few games of 'Donkey', with my aunty mainly ending up the donkey and then we retired to the living room for more tea and biscuits. An excellent day!

Boxing Day. This will be short. I had work that day but left slightly early so I could have a look round HMV, shouldn't have bothered though, practically nothing I wanted, shelves were empty. The whole shopping centre wasn't actually that busy either, especially where I was working. The shop was so empty I was able to do half the close before I even shut the shop. For the first ever time I was able to leave on time (well 10 mins over is nothing compared to 4 hours over). But while I was at work, my family were all having dinner together, I barely got to say goodbye to my aunt and uncle.

Lord of the Rings Day. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks, in fact ever since I found it existed. By chance I had been walking near The Prince Charles (marvelous) cinema and picked up the postcard advertising all three Lord of the Rings films being shown. Of course I bought my ticket straight away.

Luckily I wasn't alone, Foxo and her family also bought tickets. We all came prepared with plenty of food but in my case a pasty, coffee, many biscuits and an apple. Seeing the films again after 10 years since they had been in the cinema was amazing. The feeling was like the first time (except I knew what was going to happen) and they could not have been better. The films were as epic as they were. And whenever I watch one, I always want to watch the rest but never do. But this time my craving was fulfilled. I even found myself mouthing some of the words and songs to myself, I got more emotional than I did when I was younger (back than I couldn't cry at films) and I laughed more at things that weren't funny, but I still said 'bint' out loud whenever Eowyn was on screen, and cheered for Boromir (its Sean Bean, so why wouldn't I) and of course I cherished all the moments with my favourite characters Merry and Pippin. By the end I couldn't believe it was over, I was sad all over again, but as I own all three films, I can always watch them again, yet nothing beats the large, cinema screen.
I love this, its the only time you see the brother of Gondor (Faramir and Boromir) together

I have a lot to thank Lord of the Rings for, it was the film that made me want to make films. And all you anti nerd and anti LOTR people out there, I don't care that you all looked down at it while I was at school saying they were a boy's films because you were all wrong and naive and didn't know anything beyond frakin 'Legally Blonde' and at that age your taste was basically 'chick flicks' (its true so do not deny it), but I hope now you are all older and I hope wiser, that you'll give Lord of the Rings a chance.

Next up, both Ghostbusters films being shown, back to back. Who you gonna call? The Prince Charles Cinema so you can book a ticket!

Saturday 24 December 2011

Mammals With Pouches

Last week, my friend and I ventured to London for a marvelous day out, as we hadn't seen each other in a while.  We went to the Natural History Museum, ate at Ed's Diner, watched 'On The Town', wondered around of Covent Garden; visiting our favourite Tintin and drank lemonade on a street corner. An awesome day it was!

We started the day looking at dinosaurs and remembering school trips, then bought the best dinosaur themed thing ever, dinosaur shaped biscuit cutters! We wondered around the mammals, admiring this creature (on the left) and attempted to see how much we weighed compared to an elephant, but alas the machine wasn't working so we moved on to look at the birds. We especially enjoyed the penguins and the ostrich's feet, but I found the bird I was looking for, the Dodo, soon to be appearing in the upcoming film 'Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists'.

We then went on to the main exhibition, The Wildlife Photography of the Year and it was amazing. Photographers from all over the world documenting wildlife in various categories including young photographers aged 11-17. As well as these photographs on display, there was a slide show of other photographs that didn't quite get in to the exhibition but were still amazing, my friend even spied a seal in there somewhere. Visitors were also given the opportunity to comment on the photographs using interactive screens. Of course we signed them 'Foxo and Foxo from The Great Oak.

Here are a few of our favourites:

Then on to Ed's Diner for some very delicious food and then an attempt to go to the Poetry Cafe for a coffee but alas dear friends it was closed. So we settled for Starbucks until a creepy puppet selling couple sat too close.

We went to see 'On The Town' at the BFI and oh my was it hilarious. For those who don't know the story, 'On The Town' a musical from 1949, directed and starring Gene Kelly is about three sailors who have a days shore leave and basically meet girls, dance around and sing in familiar New York sight seeing tour stops but it was such a laugh. I had only seen the beginning when the sailors sing 'New York New York' and knew the basic plot and who was in it and I was so glad we saw it.

After the film we casually hung around streets, drinking lemonade and talking for ages, you know how foxes are. It was a super day out!

Here is the website for The Wildlife Photographer of the Year, go and see it before it ends:

Now go and watch The Muppets Christmas Carol! MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Wednesday 21 December 2011

An Expensive Addiction

Again this is just another silly post while I'm sort of working from home. I thought I should get this poem out before Christmas is over otherwise it becomes irrelevant.

To be in control at the weakest point,
Is the most important thing
My soul is vulnerable
My mind is strong

The risk is too great
For just this one thing
In the future, the long term,
It won't do me any good
But for that one moment
That feel feeling of euphoria
I would do anything

But the temptation is too great
With such convenience
I can give in too early
Then that control I have gained
Has evaporated in just
That one moment

All for that taste
That thing,
That expensive thing,
That Eggnog Latte

Told you it was silly!

Monday 19 December 2011

Don McCullin, Photojournalist, Feature Film

I am working as a researcher on this particular project and relying on my faithful followers and casual readers to either donate and help the project or pass on this message, retweet, share and just generally spread the word about this film.

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Don McCullin worked as the star photographer on The Sunday Times from 1966 to 1983, when it was widely acknowledged to be at the forefront of global photojournalism. He covered wars and humanitarian disasters on virtually every continent. His work has stood the test of time, evidenced by the fact that ten of his books are currently in print.

But there is a dimension to Don’s work that transcends photojournalism. The way he sees the world is very rare; his vision is distinctive and insightful even when trained on the supposedly mundane. The wounded people he photographs are not all on battlefields. Through Don’s eyes we come to understand that the thousand-yard stare of the shell-shocked American soldier in Vietnam, is a cousin to the despair on the face of the destitute old lady in London’s Chapel Market. Like the visionary William Blake, who saw the world around him with a hidden part of the spectrum, Don sees differently.

Why We Need Your Support
We started this project independently, and we want to remain so.
Your investment will allow us to not compromise the film’s message by having to accommodate traditional funders.

So we have self-funded where we could and we’ve created this film through monumental personal commitment to the story, and the generous in-kind donations of time and skills from industry professionals.
We want to enter our film into high-profile festivals, but to do this we need support in the final stages of post-production. You can donate through the crowd funding website below:

Sunday 18 December 2011

Black & White Photography From the Good Old Days

I finally managed to scan some of the best photographs I took when I was in College and when I was still allowed to use black and white film. I uploaded them (most of them) to my Ideas Tap profile but here they are just in case you're not on that website:

There are plenty more but I have dig those out which might take a while, so watch this space after Christmas.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

This Is My Lemon Torte

Anyone remember that song Last Resort by Papa Roach? Well I just came up this baking friendly version:

Cut my pie into pieces
This is my lemon torte
Salivation, yes, no bloating
Can’t use a pan
If I want to carry on baking
This is my lemon torte

ok, its not great . . . but not bad for a 5 minute  thought and its better if you sing along.

One of the Greastest American Classics Soon To Be a Motion Picture, Again!

"Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

The Great Gatsby is my favourite novel and has been since I studied it back in College and had to write a really bad essay on it. During class I did well, I followed what was happening and actually was interested in the themes and the characters but the essay I wrote was so bad, I think I got a B for it (to me that's bad).

The Great Gatsby (1925) is one of the greatest American classics. The novel was written in Paris by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it has come to be seen as a representation of the Jazz Age. The Great Gatsby captures post war disillusion and the moral failure of a society obsessed with money and status.  It tells the story of the eponymous Gatsby and his tragic pursuit of his dream and long lost love, Daisy. The story is told through Nick Carraway who relates the story.

There was a film made in 1974 with an amazing cast with Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby, perfect casting for the time. But for me, the film lacked something. The story was like the book, the settings and locations near perfection, but to me the story felt empty despite the good acting and how it looked. This is why I was so excited when I found out there was another adaptation of the novel, directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, Australia). Judging but the unauthorised photographs and official ones too, the production is in good hands. Plus with Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby (again perfect casting) and Carey Mulligan as Daisy I think this film with fulfill my dreams of my favourite novel coming to life. Apart from the fact Baz is shooting the film in 3D, a story like this needs no gimmicks.

Tobey Maguire is playing Nick Carraway, Joel Edgerton is playing Tom, Daisy's husband and Isla Fisher is playing Myrtle Wilson (but I don't think she is right for that part)

Here are a few photos from the new production for you to enjoy:

The film is said to be released in USA December 25th 2012 but no word on a UK release date. But until then, go and read the novel and if you've already read it, read it again!

Monday 12 December 2011

Cake and Death: Part 3

Mother and daughter sat side by side on the yellow sofa, each with a cake in their hands.
-Was this is all in the dream?
Her mother spluttered with a mouth full of cake.

-Yes Mother. It was quite strange. It was as if I was watching it all happen but it was also as if it was a story, like a fairytale or something.
-Well yes, the way you’re telling it sounds like a children’s story.

She took a bite of her cupcake as her Mother sipped from her mug, a worried expression on her face.
-I’ll continue shall I?
-Please do dear.

The little girl’s mother sat by her daughter’s bed in Hospital. She had been sitting there for what seemed hours. The little girl hadn’t moved, spoke or done anything since eating that cupcake. The doctor said that she was had been poisoned and ‘she just needs to get it out of her system’. So they had had her on a drip for a day, but nothing.

The doctor walked holding a clipboard with a serious expression on his face. He looked at the mother, she stood up suddenly with hope in her eyes but all hope was taken from her when the doctor simply shook his head. The mother slowly sat down and took her daughter’s hand and held it in hers as tears began to fall from her eyes.

Meanwhile at the Bakery, the news had reached the Baker that the little girl had eaten a poisoned cupcake and was now in a coma. He looked at the almost empty tray of that day’s cupcakes. He wondered if he had sold a poisoned one yet and reached for a strawberry flavoured one. He half hoped that it was filled with poison but the other half just hoped that it was plain strawberry. He took a deep breath and bit into the cake.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Important Pieces of the Past

Whilst rummaging through some boxes I found an important document.

According to this document I weighed 4 stone, my favourite colour was orange and I was going to be a trampoline star. My how things have changed, my favourite colour is now purple if I was pushed to choose.

Age 7 me also drew a rather fancy picture of me too but it won't see the light of day, the eyes are just too accurate for an age 7 year old me to get right. Some more incriminating evidence in the document is my birthplace, place of residence, eye colour, hair colour (which I said, and I quote "drack brown") and favourite food, which was Corn Pops, whatever they were.

Worryingly the only questions I didn't answer were my height and my favourite TV programmes. At that age I watched many awesome 90s shows and have had frequent conversation with people about them. So why did I leave it blank?

Along with this 'passport' from when I was 7 I also found 3 boxes full of old cards from my christening to my most recent birthday. The ones that were missing were from my 16th birthday as they all ended up on a bonfire by accident at a house party I had. But the others, I didn't have the heart to throw them away so I've decided to do what I always do. Make a piece of art work out of them. Watch this space!

Monday 5 December 2011

The Death of Whitton

Alas poor Whitton, I knew it well.

If we were to compare Whitton now to Whitton then, we'd all become nostalgic and ill, especially me as there used to be a cinema up the High Street.

But now, all there is up the High Street are charity shops, coffee shops, empty shops, so called convenience places and various awful bargain bin shops. Its hideous and depressing.

And now that a Lidal has opened (the sign of all respectability has gone) it feels like the last straw. I and and many others have been saying for too long now that Whitton is becoming more like Hounslow and that place is simply, as Liz Lemon would say, 'the worst'. I have nothing nice to say about that place, that borough in fact. Except that the theatre in Hounslow Treaty Centre used to be good but its now being shut down. I remember watching pantomimes at the Paul Robeson Theatre when I was younger and I even performed some Shakespeare there with my school. The community doesn't make use of it, a whole theatre gone to waste. And to add to it now that the HMV has also shut down there, I have no reason to go to Hounslow.

I see this happening to Whitton. I was gone for three years and everything has changed for the worse. And I have to add, what the hell is going on with the Christmas decorations this year? Every shop used to put up a tree, then it was flags because the trees were too expensive but this year its just bits of bunting?? Very disappointed with my home town. I just hope that next Christmas things will change but everything I know will just be awful.

I do try to be upbeat in these posts but Whitton, you've let me down.