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Posts Tagged ‘films’

  1. Iron Man 2 and The Reader

    May 10, 2010 by superlative

    I have seen and enjoyed two films recently. Some people might say they are quite different, but I think they have a lot in common: one is about a 40-year old superhero in a robot suit; the other is about a young boy’s relationship with a semi-paedophile former Nazi. You can see why I might get the two confused in my mind, so just because it’s easier I shall review them in one post.

    Iron Man 2
    Some people would call this a flagrant and needless attempt to extract more money from the Iron Man franchise after an initially successful film. Indeed, when watching the sequel I did find an awful lot of similarities with the first film that made me think “was there really any point in making this?”
    Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is once again challenged by someone using a hijacked version of his own design and must battle it out and prove his suit is better than the other guy’s. There is a vague plot slung around the whole thing, and in this second film Scarlett Johansson prances about in a skin-tight outfit to distract you from the obvious similarities with the first one.
    Originality aside though, I did enjoy it, and it was a perfectly acceptable means of being entertained for a couple of hours. The fight scenes are quite cool, the special effects are polished, and Gwyneth Paltrow is reasonably amusing as the unfortunately-named Pepper Potts. Oh and that funny arm-robot that’s a bit like a scutter is back too.
    It’s not amazing cinema, but it’s better than being stabbed in the face. I even quite liked Robert Downey Jr in it, despite him not being my favourite actor, as he plays the smug richboy character of Tony Stark quite accurately.
    My verdict: B- (not a disaster, but could do better )

    The Reader

    The Reader, on the other hand, was really really good, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone. It’s not very often that I find myself transfixed by a film, and then left pondering it for ages afterwards.
    I’ll try not to give too much away, but it is essentially the story of a 15-year old German boy who embarks on an affair with an older woman. They lose contact, and years later while at Law School, he finds that his former lover is a defendant in a trial brought against Nazi war criminals.
    The story is well-written and the acting is superb. I found Kate Winslet’s character Hanna believable, and quite disturbingly touching when you realise what she is accused of. I think that the conflict the audience feels towards her is a testament to the cleverness of the story and her quality as an actress, and the answers that the film doesn’t give you allow you room to ponder and interpret it as you wish. In a way you’re drawn into the mindset of the male character, who experiences the same mixture of emotions as he tries to reconcile the woman he thought he knew with the woman he encounters later in life.
    Quite rightly, Kate Winslet won an Oscar for it, and I also enjoyed the performance of David Kross, her gratuitously naked young lover. And before you say “doesn’t that make you a bit of a paedo?”, the actor wasn’t actually 15 when he made it, he was about 18, so that makes it alright if I had a bit of a look.
    My verdict: A (polished and intriguing)

  2. ‘Now you’re in New Yoooooooooooork’ (except I’m not because I’m back now)

    April 19, 2010 by superlative

    Hello all.

    I had a marvellous time in New York (concrete jungle that dreams are made of), it was really really good. And as a bonus I got back with 36 hours to spare before the whole world went volcano-crazy and had to resort to plebeian land-based forms of transport.
    We walked MILES, at least five miles a day, and we did and saw so much, so I shall only share with you the highlights and some of the nicer pictures. It was meant to be a more relaxed trip to New York this time, as we’d already rushed around for four days there before doing all the touristy things, but in the end we did just as much this time. It’s that sort of place, you can’t really just sit around when you’re in the middle of one of the coolest cities you can visit.

    Our flight out from Heathrow was fine (good old Virgin Atlantic, they’re always so good). We used Purple Parking at the airport, which I had been a bit worried about because I’d read some bad reviews, but in actual fact they were really good and ever so efficient. I guess some people just get unlucky and have a bad experience, but we thought they were really good.
    Anyway, the flight was fine as I say, and I watched the film Precious on the way out. It’s a harrowing film in many ways, but it’s also brilliant and gritty, and kind of uplifting by the end. I also watched half of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which was crap and predictable and as annoying as any of the other JK Rowling drivel (I watched the second half on the flight home; it didn’t improve).
    The hotel was the same one as we stayed at on our honeymoon, the Chelsea Pines Inn on West 14th Street. It’s a really nice gay hotel with very friendly staff, and all the rooms are named after movie stars and have their movie posters on the walls. This time we were in the Mitzi Gaynor room, which was a cheaper bracket of room than we had before, and it did show a bit. It was fine, nice posh furniture and stuff, but not as plush. I’d still recommend it anyway, and you can’t fault the location; it’s ideally placed so you can walk uptown to Times Square and the touristy bits, and downtown into Greenwich Village where lots of gay bars are.
    Some of the exciting things we did included:
    – Walking miles and miles up and down 8th Avenue, 7th Avenue, 6th Avenue, 5th Avenue and Broadway. We saw lots of skyscrapers, and went in loads of shops, but apart from my cool new Skechers I didn’t actually buy anything. American clothes were so BORING. If I want checked shirts and chinos I can buy those at home thank you very much.

    The shopping was not wasted time however, as several US stores apparently employ hot, semi-clad male and female greeters who entice you in and then stand there letting you drool over them. Principally I’m talking about Abercrombie & Fitch, and Hollisters. Behold the hotness:

    And once you’ve walked around looking at all the hot boys (and girls dancing in stairwells in bikinis) you can swan back out again obviously without buying anything, and they STILL wish you a nice day.
    – We went to a couple of museums: the Museum of Modern Art (the MoMa), where we saw lots of famous paintings by famous people. There was also an ‘artist’ woman who had decided that sitting in a chair in a red dress staring into space for three months counted as art. The museum apparently agreed, but it all seemed rather pointless to me, as she was obviously just sitting there wondering what to have for her tea. I liked this piece though:

    And we went to the Museum of Sex, which was good for a giggle. I learnt about female anatomy:

    And Chris learnt about sex toys:

    – We went to quite a few different bars for drinkies. Some were very good (a bar called Pieces in particular), and some were crap (The Duplex). The Duplex was a pretentious piano bar where the drinks were over-priced, and they kept passing round this stupid fucking plastic top-hat to try to solicit tips for the pianist. Frankly, after paying £10 for two drinks AND having to tip the barmaid on top of that, we weren’t prepared to give them any more money. “Has everybody had the hat?” they kept asking expectantly. Yes we had had the hat, and we passed it straight onto the next person thank you very fucking much. We didn’t stay there long.
    Pieces, on the other hand, had some excellent reasons to stay there, including this:

    And I met @plaintruthiness whom I know from Twitter there too. I think that’s the first person I know from Twitter that I’ve met in real life actually.
    I had one night where I over-indulged and threw up everywhere when we got back to the hotel, and consequently one day with a shocking SHOCKING hangover, but other than that I coped fairly well given my general wussiness and lightweightedness.
    – What else… oo yes, we saw Chicago on Broadway, which was fab! I knew nothing at all about the story, and so it was all new to me and I really really enjoyed it. Plus it had the third not-quite-so-famous one from Destiny’s Child in it (not Beyoncé, not Kelly Rowland, the other one. Michelle summink) in one of the lead roles.

    And I think that’s about it! I’m obviously really pleased that we got back before the volcano erupted, as I’m not sure I’d fancy being stuck abroad indefinitely. Chris’ brother and sister-in-law are currently trapped in Fuerteventura, but I think they’re OK and the tour operator is looking after them, and so there are worse things.
    I’ve been back at work for half a day now, and it’s been alriiiiiiiiight, it could be worse, but it’s still pretty crappy compared to swanning about in New York and photographing hot boys.
    I have lots of other things I should write about that aren’t New York-related, but I shall save those for later.
    TTFN.

  3. Milk you can’t drink and politicians you can’t trust

    February 23, 2010 by superlative

    I have just realised to my horror that I haven’t posted anything on my blog for two whole weeks, so I thought I’d better do a bit of a catch up. I hate it when I click on someone’s blog and it hasn’t been updated for ages, it just looks a bit boring, so I’ve been a very bad superlative for letting it slip for so long.

    Anyway, these are some of the things that I have been doing and thinking about recently:

    Milk
    I watched Milk a couple of weeks ago, having previously known virtually nothing about it. I was aware that Harvey Milk was some sort of gay politician from San Francisco, but that was only really because I’d had a couple of drinks in a bar called Harvey’s when we were there, and they had information up on the walls about him.
    Anyway, the film was GREAT, as was the story of his life in general. He was the first openly gay man to hold public office in the United States, and he was just so dedicated to improving the lot of gays and other minorities in his city. What was most shocking to me however was how recently it all took place: it is set from 1972 to 1978. Having been fortunate enough to grow up during a period when homosexuality started to be properly accepted in society, I hadn’t really realised how much I’ve taken for granted the freedoms I enjoy. In the mid-70s in San Francisco, it seems the police would regularly raid gay bars and arrest and beat up their patrons. This was the POLICE, the people you’re supposed to be able to call when someone assaults you! Even if homophobia was rife back then, I hadn’t really expected on duty police officers to be engaging in it.
    Anyway, the film is about a lot more than just that, and although the ending is sad, I still found Harvey Milk’s courage and determination very uplifting. It made me feel like I could and should be doing more to overcome intolerance, and not just enjoy the benefits of the work done by others. I probably won’t of course, I’m fundamentally lazy and it was only a film, but it made me think at least and will keep me thinking in the future.
    Political things
    Sort of related to the above, I have been continuing to ponder my position as a gay man with semi-conservative views and the fast approaching general election. I still haven’t decided who I want to vote for, but I’ve still got a couple of months to go, and I’m quite enjoying researching the parties and thinking about it anyway.

    Attitude magazine has published an interview with each of the three main party leaders over its last few issues, and I’ve found that very helpful. I’ve taken everything the leaders have said in the interviews with a pinch of salt, because of course they’re just going to say whatever they think will appeal to the magazine’s gay readership, but it was useful to see them address those kinds of questions specifically.
    Overall I’d say Nick Clegg came off the best. I don’t like Gordon Brown, so he would have had to say something very special to change my mind, and he just didn’t. David Cameron’s interview and the accompanying articles they published were tremendously interesting, but only made me less inclined to vote Conservative than I had been before. It made David Cameron look very much like a ‘will say what you want to hear’ politician, even more than politicians are in general, and it was pretty absurd to read him denying he’d voted against gay adoption even while they waved Hansard under his nose showing that he did. I’m not going to base my vote particularly on what his party did in the 80s, but the voting record of the current Conservative front bench is important and doesn’t make for good reading.
    Nick Clegg seemed the most straightforward and honest, and said some nice things about equalities for gay people. My only reservation is that of course he can easily make generous promises: he’s unlikely to become prime minister and ever have to live up to them. Even so, I’d say the Lib Dems are currently winning in my estimations.
    On top of that, there is a debate going on this week about a bill the government is putting through parliament and its section on sex education in schools. After intense lobbying by religious groups, the Labour party has allowed an amendment to let religious schools teach sex education (including mandatory information on same sex relationships) ‘within their institution’s ethos’. So that means religious schools would be free to say “Yes there are same sex relationships. These are wrong, they are immoral, and they are inferior to heterosexual love and marriage”. I’m absolutely appalled by that and think it would be a big step backwards for the country. Some gay activists are even calling the amendment a modern Section 28.
    How would a gay child in that class feel to be told they are inferior and immoral? Shouldn’t they be free to be taught the facts of sex education without judgement attached, so they can make up their own minds? That seems like a fundamental right to me, and I really hope the amendment is removed. Labour have proclaimed themselves the only party that has championed gay rights over the last two decades, and this would be a terrible stain on their record.
    General bits and bobs
    This post is going on a bit now, so I shall cut the rest short.

    I’m very much looking forward to our holiday to New York in six weeks. So far we have booked to tour the Federal Reserve Gold Vault, where you can view $8billion of gold all stacked up, and we have bought tickets to see Chicago on Broadway. Both of those should be really good.

    Life is otherwise fairly good at the moment, but work is interminably dull and it is starting to affect my moods in the evening again. This feeling of unfulfillment I get creeps into my home life, and I become terribly listless and depressed. So anyway, I’m trying to be more positive at work, to fill my days with activity instead of endlessly clicking Refresh on Twitter, and to do some studying and other things in the periods when I really haven’t got anything to do. It’s worked for the last two days anyway, so I shall try to keep it up.

  4. A random bunch of stuff all chucked into one blog post

    January 14, 2010 by superlative

    I haven’t blogged all that much over the last few weeks, because I feel like I haven’t been doing much that was noteworthy.

    Mum has kind of plateaued at a medium level of crazy for the moment, so I haven’t even felt there was much to write about her either. She’s still ill of course, and she’s still subject to their bizarre gypsy curse and its associated mishaps (the thermostat is still kind of broken, and this week their kitchen sink decided to overflow), but she hasn’t had anything major to bang on at me about for a while.
    So this is just an odds and sods post really to distract me from my work for a little while.
    We went to a friend’s house last night for an Indian take away and to watch Slumdog Millionaire on Channel 4. I hadn’t seen it before, but obviously I’ve heard quite a lot about it after it won lots of different awards. I have to say that I quite enjoyed it, but I didn’t think it was amazing or anything. I often get that with ‘big’ films though, they end up rather over-hyped and then you can’t help but be disappointed.
    I thought it was a good story, but it was essentially an episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with some padding. Yes it gave an apparently realistic and compelling portrayal of life in the slums of Mumbai, and it had a very authentic feel given its use of real people from the slums as actors. So it was good definitely, but parts of it were a bit predictable and I wasn’t left thinking “wow that was a best thing I’ve ever seen”.
    I’ve also watched the first three episodes of the new season of Heroes recently. Almost immediately it managed to annoy me, and although it is refreshing to have some new characters I do feel like it has gone off the boil a bit. Why is Sylar STILL in it as one of the main villains? Why? Why would you do this? That’s FOUR seasons now where he’s been running around, talking with his mouth half closed and having practically limitless powers. It just seems a bit lazy not to have written him out.
    I’m also fed up with the way Matt Parkman does a weird squinty head twitch every time he uses his powers. Surely he would be more effective if it weren’t so obvious he was poking around in your head?
    And of course Claire Bennet is still trying to live a normal life, but failing miserably to be at all discreet about her powers, and her Dad is interfering in the name of protecting her, and Hiro’s powers don’t work properly, and blah blah blah. You could be describing practically any season of the show.
    So anyway, I’m sure I’ll end up still watching it, but I’ll frequently tut the whole way through, and let out an exasperated sigh at the end of each episode. It’s such a shame, because the first two seasons were excellent.
    Other than that, work is the same as usual: pretty dull and filled mostly with Facebook and Twitter. I’ve had quite a few days off due to the snow, which has been nice and has helped the weeks to flick by more quickly. I had someone ask me YET AGAIN the other day “wouldn’t you rather be doing a job that uses your languages”. ARRRRGH! Yes I probably would, but I’m just not, alright?? There aren’t that many jobs ‘using your languages’ in Brighton, and if I learnt one thing from the job in the tour operators which I hated, it’s that just using your languages isn’t enough to make you like your job. You have to like the actual job in the first place – doing it in French or Italian makes very little difference.
    So yes, I still have my vaguely-unfulfilled feeling from time to time, and would quite like to be doing something more challenging. But as I have no idea what that would be, this job is fine: it pays well (considering I have hardly any work to do), I like the bits of work that I DO do, the people are nice, and I get left alone and not stressed out. If a bit of boredom is the price I pay for that, it could be a lot worse.
    Right, I’ve been banging on for ages now, so I’d better do some work/Twitter. We’re meant to be going to Pop Kraft this weekend, so maybe that will give me an opportunity to take some photos and write about some actual events instead of general ramblings!

  5. Changeling – excellent film, stupid title

    November 18, 2009 by superlative

    I watched a film called Changeling last night, on rental from LoveFilm, and I have to say that it was GREAT. It was so much better than I was expecting, and in actual fact it was nothing like the film that I thought it was.

    The one-line description on LoveFilm read: “A mother’s prayer for her kidnapped son to return home is answered, though it doesn’t take long for her to suspect the boy who comes back is not hers.” Based on that, and on the fact that it is called Changeling, I got it into my head that the boy who returns to her is not only not her son, but is actually not a boy at all, and is probably an alien or a demon or something like that. So I was expecting a thriller or a horror.
    I could not have been more wrong, and I’m blaming it largely on the title which is thoroughly inappropriate for the film. Yes the boy is not hers, but the film isn’t about that specifically, it’s about the mother’s struggle to convince a powerful and belligerent police force that he’s not her son, and to find out what has really happened to him.
    I’m not going to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s a great story, even if that short description of it makes it sound like it’ll be boring. Angelina Jolie is excellent in it, and I actually didn’t realise it was her until about halfway through. I always quite like that from an actor – where the first thing you think isn’t “Oh that’s Angelina Jolie”, because you’re solely concerned with the character they’re playing and not the fact that they’re famous. Reese Witherspoon and Hilary Swank both wanted the role apparently, but didn’t get it.
    It’s even more gripping to watch when you know that it’s based on a true story, with very few of the details changed. The plot doesn’t actually need much spicing up for the big screen, it’s all there already, and knowing that it’s true is fairly horrifying. It was nominated for three Oscars, and even though it failed to win any I’m surprised I didn’t know more about it.
    I thoroughly recommend it if you haven’t seen it. Yes it’s written by the man who wrote Babylon 5, and yes it’s called Changeling, but ignore those two things – they’re a distraction and they don’t tell you anything about what this film is going to be like. It’s very rare that I finish a film and think “Wow, that was really good”, but I found Changeling really exceptional.

  6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen IQ

    June 30, 2009 by superlative

    I went to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen last night, with some trepidation as I had heard from several sources that it really isn’t very good. However, Chris is quite a Transformers geek and would happily be turned into a giant transforming robot if they offered the operation on the NHS, and so we went anyway.

    It wasn’t terrible. It was alright. The kind of alright that you pronounce ‘alriiiiiiiiiiight’, and often add ‘I suppose’ onto the end of.

    I felt that overall it was fairly entertaining, and the special effects are really very good. I kept forgetting that the robots are computer generated and aren’t actually there, because they’re textured so well.

    However, it wasn’t nearly as good as the first film, and for some reason they had decided really to dumb down the general feel and humour of it. It’s not as though the first film was massively high brow, but they really have gone for the lowest common denominator this time. It was basically the human characters’ fault, as some of them behaved in an almost slapstick fashion. The robots were generally more mature. But mostly they seemed to go for a lot of toilet and bodily function humour. Did we need to see the ugly ex-Section 7 agent in a thong? No. Did the little robot need to fart fire? No. Did Devastator need to have two bollocks made of wrecking balls? No. It was all needless and it debased the film and the franchise.

    And then on top of that there was the fact that large parts of it really bore no relation to the original stories and characters, or even to the first film. I realise that they change things when writing it for the screen, but I think they wandered too far, and made it hideously inconsistent.

    For some reason Bumblebee had transformed (no pun intended) into a needy, rather thick kind of pet. Forgotten was the fact that he’s actually an advanced organic robot from outer space who just happens to have a broken speech modulator. That doesn’t make him thick.

    There were two new characters called the Twins, who appeared to be the Jar Jar Binks of the Transformers world, in that they were an inane racial stereotype with an IQ of about 40 shared between the two of them, and they were pretty much as annoying.

    And they’d done something really bizarre to Megatron. Megatron, who usually kicks ass and is a ruthless, dominating leader, and who only ever really seemed to be afraid of Unicron (a planet-sized Transformer, for those of you who don’t know). But what had he become in this film? Some sort of meek servant of the Fallen, scurrying around and doing his bidding. The real Megatron would have waited until the Fallen’s back was turned and then opened him up like a melon.

    Lastly, there were the logical inconsistencies that you get with any weakly written script. The Fallen can only be defeated by a Prime, apparently. Therefore Megatron is scared of him. But Megatron kicked Optimus Prime to death in the first half hour of the film. And then when it actually comes to a fight between Optimus and the Fallen, it lasts for all of about five minutes before Optimus cries “Give me your face”, and tears the Fallen into little pieces. And then Megatron runs away. Hmm.

    So, as you can see, it wasn’t great. It was only OK.

    Highlights were a girl getting her faced smashed against a dashboard by a jealous sports car, and Soundwave who was WAY COOL (as he should be, he always has been) and who should have been featured much much more. The whole film would have been better without Megatron or the Fallen and with Soundwave running the show. But there you go.

    So, go see it if you want two and a bit hours of light entertainment and ITV-style humour, but if you’re a Transformers fan you might be disappointed.


  7. Guy Pearce is really rather hot

    April 21, 2009 by superlative

    I watched Memento yesterday and it reminded me of what a cutey Guy Pearce is. Look! Look how cute!

    He’s actually a bit hotter in Priscilla Queen of the Desert I think, probably just because he’s quite a bit younger, but he’s still got that lean muscly thing going on even now he’s 40.

    I hope I look that good when I’m 40.

    Anyway, Memento was really good, although you have to concentrate if you don’t want to get lost as the story is more or less told backwards. Guy Pearce plays a man on a mission to find his wife’s killer, which sounds straightforward enough except that he has a form of amnesia that prevents him from storing any new memories. It’s well written and very original, and it leaves you talking about it for a while afterwards as you try to piece everything back together in chronological order in your head. I highly recommend it.

    One last picture, this one was too good to pass up.