Sunday, November 30, 2003

If you're at a loose end, you could do much worse things with your free net time than to check out a fledgling bloggist and work colleague of mine, Andrew, over at his new site, which you'll find HERE...

Why not give a newbie at this whole digital publishing lark a fair read, huh?

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Hey, long time, no post.

I've been busy these past few months, what with being hired full-time by my mystery employers and spending many of my waking hours learning just how to do my job. I'm not too sure that I've actually worked my way up to having an actual inkling about how to do it, but I'm fairly sure that I might have a glimmer of a hint of a clue sometime soon. Which will be nice.

I have seen movies as well, naturally.

"The Matrix Revolutions" seems to have divided a lot of you. And that's fair enough. A lot of people seemed pissed-off by the lack of answers provided by The Brothers Wachowski - I suspect that many amongst you may well feel that they didn't quite have the all-seeing, all-knowing grasp over the world of Zion that has been professed and that the Wachowski's well-documented enigmatic is but a mask disguising a pair of Neo-come-lately charlatans pulling plot developments straight out of their not inconsiderable bottoms. These folks are, but of course, entitled to their opinions.

For my part, I enjoyed the movie. A heck of a lot, in fact. But I would have to agree with my lovely, talented and beautiful wife, the Righteously Enigmatic K., that "...Revolutions" doesn't always feel like another entry in the series. I don't know exactly what it does feel like, but it doesn't feel terribly like another kung fu-mungous epistle from the Last Free City.

The effects are still good, sometimes fantastic and are often fine enough to slip by you entirely - there's a bit of digital doubling in the opening Club Hell gunfight-on-the-ceiling which was fairly bloody nifty and nigh-on seamless.

The action doesn't exactly have a tendency to batter you into submission by being excessive and instead arrives just when you start shifting in your seat a bit, and begin wondering if this second sequel is going to consist largely of cool, non-sequitur homages to the likes of "Tetsuo" and memorable splash-panels/individual frames from Larry and Andy's favourite Manga series.

Y'know, stuff designed to appeal to the brothers themselves and maybe 5% of the larger, paying audience for this film.

Is this the problem at hand, perhaps? The Wachowskis may just have succeeded in securing the best part of $300 million from their hapless studio of choice and shortly thereafter set out to make a profoundly geeky, oddly personal and ultimately unashamedly culty trilogy that somehow managed to fluke its way into prominence in a way that Alex Proyas' slightly similar "Dark City" never quite did.

Is "The Matrix Revolutions" a wee bit pretentious? Sure it is, probably maddeningly so to most, but, for once, I hardly think that this a bad thing. One person's provocative act of smart alec pretension is another's life-redefining work of art and thought, after all, and might well be described as a flick which encourages discussions and diversions, and philosophical flights of fancy which carry on and resonate long after the movie ends.

It's a kung-fu/SF actioner to most, but to me it's something more. It's a bunch of riddles which beget yet more enigmas which in turn produce a new bunch of ideas to puzzle over. It's a movie series that I'll be going back to again and again in an effort to try and decode The Great Meaning Of It All. Not everybody will do that or even countenance the point of doing so. That's fine. I just enjoy the idea of feeling the resonances and breaking the codes that the Wachowski's have woven through what is surely their magnum opus.

I didn't have the same reaction to "2 Fast 2 Furious", you'll be surprised to learn...

Monday, September 22, 2003

Anybody up for some more One-Line Movie Reviews?

"The only frightening thing about 'Underworld' is the level of stomach-punchingly low Bass in the soundtrack - but it's still plenty o' pseudo-goth fun".

"'Le Divorce' is almost grounds for leaving anyone who takes you to see it and certainly begs the question of why anybody sane would subject themselves to a Merchant/Ivory film if they had other options."

"'Spirited Away' is one of the finest movies that you'll see all year - and that even applies to the unusually carefully-dubbed US version."

"'Belleville Rendez-Vous' is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime, skewed animation that defies adequate summary but demands your attention at any cinema playing it."

"'The Sin Eater'(aka 'The Order') is a head-spinningly unlikely follow-up to "A Knight's Tale", from director Brian Helgeland, which chiefly makes me wonder just how badly beaten by the Penguins he must have been as a child to grow up and subsequently craft such a resounding convincing, oft-scary and enthusiastically Catholic-baiting anti-romp like this crazed Heath Ledger vehicle-cum-failed Anne Rice saga."

"'The Italian Job' certainly isn't up to the task of defining a whole genre of crime flicks in the way that the 60's original did, but it is a fun, engaging and crucially Seth Green-centric blast which should leave you with a grin on your face if you can get over the Michael Caine thing for five minutes."

"'Blackball' concerns itself mainly with the uniquely British pastime of Crown Green Bowls. And, happily, also with the glorious sight of The Greatest Living Englishman, Johnny Vegas, ranting, swearing and appearing at all times gloriously dissolute. Do you really need any more reason to hand over the cash at the multiplex box office and pay for your ticket?"

More nonsensical piffle, as and when.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Man, it's going to be a busy week at the flicks.

By the time that I go to see the new Brit flick, "BlackBall" tomorrow night, I believe firmly that I may well have wrapped my head around the plotting contortions and reversals so cheerfully served up on Saturday afternoon by a viewing of "Cube" director Vincent Natali's latest SF lobe-punisher, "Cypher"(which can best be described as "The Matrix 2.0", only remade for people who wouldn't be seen dead going to see the zany, wire-abetted adventures of Neo and his happy band of goth club kids).

And by the time that I've recovered from the excesses and disgraceful behaviour contained within director Mel Smith's newie "BlackBall", a home-grown Brit-com/gross-out sports satire, I will be well-placed to curtail my work day and dash back into and across Sheffield on Wednesday afternoon, to take in an advanced screening of F. Gary Gray's "The Italian Job" remake.

I fully anticipate much bitching from a partisan crowd up to dismiss this rehash of a much-beloved Brit-flick, but as I'm going to check out Seth Green and Mos Def's scene-stealing moves, I remain fairly sure that I might well enjoy the noisy, heisty nonsense up on screen (though, is it just me or does it appear that the makers of this version have replaced the for-real, devil-may-care car stunts of the original with slick, edited-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives, ever-so-slightly unconvincing CG-assisted action sequences?).

And, to cap it all, this Friday sees the infuriatingly-belated, yet absolutely welcome British release of Miyazaki's "Spirited Away", which I can't bloody wait to see. Expect a load of hypebolic, over-the-top-praise just as soon as I can sit down at a computer and funnel it out in your direction.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Just a post from Scarborough and the old Cyberia stomping ground - K. and I have gone to spend the August bank holiday with my Mum and to touch base with some old friends and relatives alike, so I thought that I would share with you some revelations:

1) "Terminator 3" is beyond being dross. We're talking pure, dire boredom on an epic level, apart from the last five minutes, which are fantastic.

2) "Tomb Raider 2" isn't that bad. It's better than the first movie, in fact. Angelina should get another shot at this gig, I think. And, to think, I had vowed never to see another movie directed by Jan De Bont after the fiasco that was "The Haunting"...

3) My work contract has been extended further and I should be gainfully employed for a wee bit longer (Next March, to be precise), which should help me if I have to look around for another job. I hope that I won't, but nothing's for certain in the employment market these days, I think you'll agree.

4) Does anybody have an idea about how I can persuade my wife to come to the cinema with me to see "Freddy versus Jason"? She hates goofy slasher flicks - I love 'em: It's a whole 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'-style paradigm and no mistake.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

So, as previously noted, your correspendent is presently enjoying a fine holiday on Arran with his excellent missus, the Righteous K., his equally sterling mother-in-law, Mrs Righteous K., family friends, the E2duopoly and the most clearly insane non-retriever-style blonde poochie in the known cosmos, Miss Ella Fluffington-Dementieva.

Things have been just peachy, with Arran enjoying a heatwave roughly commensurate to that enjoyed by the rest of the UK and the continent of Europe (which is to say that the daily heat on this bucolic Scottish isle is just slightly less than that of your average bakery kitchen in the midst of rush hour). And, with the heat, of course, comes the scary spectre of the Ugly Tourist, who brings with him pasty-white legs, a paunch with apparent sentient life of it's own and children so astonishingly badly-behaved that the casual observer can barely believe that they are not under 24-hour armed-guard, let alone a full supervision order.

I've tried not to be an Ugly Tourist, of course - I don't wish to be the kind of thoughtless lummox who steamrollers with his party into local shops and expects the poor, servile wretches behind the counter to enthusitically dance to his beck-and-call, chucking a few crumpled notes over the counter in the manner of a God-King bestowing favour on the unwashed.

I do, however, notice that many of my fellow travellers are not quite as considerate. To put it bluntly, many of the people "enjoying" their Arran break are something short of being complete assholes. These are the kind of tour-cycling dunderheads that you find yourself praying to find in a ditch, further up one of the island's many hilly, winding roads, having tried to execute a flashy, mid-hillock gear change and gone for a burton over the handlebars. I try to content myself with the notion that they've certainly lost their "no-damage" deposit...

Other things to tell you about?

1) Aromatherapy is ace. I encountered it for the first time on Monday afternoon and I'm a convert. It's like being a big, floaty, rainforesty cocoon of chilledness and you should stop reading this crap right now and go and have your extremities worked on. I somehow managed to walk back to our lodge afterwards, but did so replete with a carrier bag full of comfort food and no memory of how I acquired it. Come to the Auchrannie resort on Arran and ask for Marianne. Mention Mrs Righteous K. You'll be so glad that you did.

2) I am typing this piffle downweighed by numerous bangles, bracelets and Nepalese thinga-majigs, which I bought on the island's fine "Arran Asia" store, which is full of the kinds of colourful, vaguely ethnic gubbins beloved of the travelling, lentil-sniffing "Grauniad"-reading set. As such, it's not the kind of place that a card-carrying Jerry Bruckheimer fan would be seen reincarnated in, but those bangles, man - they're super-nifty and no mistake.

More epistles as and when...

Friday, August 01, 2003

I'm back again, just in time to tell you that I'm going away on holiday.

We're packing up anew and heading off to Arran, that most charming of Scottish isles, for a week of rest, relaxation and mad doggie chasing. I have been persuaded to get in touch with my feminine side and enjoy an aromatherapy session on Tuesday, which should be of some comic value if nothing else, and will be having a good old go at getting some swimming lessons and indoor pool time to supplant the Monday evening lessons which I've been having here in Sheffield.

Perversely enough? I may be able to blog a bit more up on Arran, as the place that we stay at has leisure facilities, with a broadband PC suite and super-cheap 'net access.

Stay tuned, and all that...

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