Category Archives: film

River Thames shark sanctuary

So it appears that the river Thames been selected to host “an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks.” I honestly can’t wait. I’m just a bit gutted that the water is so murky, less chance of seeing them.

So what’s it all about? Well, two thousand sharks are to be released into the river including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites. The experiment is designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of London. The thinking behind it is to keep the tourist industry alive after the Olympics.

The government is said to be spending £1.3 million, but think the return could be 10 times that over the next 3 years. A representative from the Life and Inclusion Experiments organisation (L.I.E) was quoted as saying that there would probably be a noticeable decline in the populations of other fish in the river because “the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older.”
I wonder if this means they will need to introduce more fish into the Thames? You could always do feeding sessions and make it an added tourist attraction. Scuba diving in the thames? Maybe another money spinner.

Mayor Boris Johnson is said to have protested the experiment, afraid of the hazard it would pose to tourists and riverboat cleaners, but his complaints had been ignored by the the coalition government, with Cameron claiming he is under pressure from the American government to use the Thames for such research. Randy Bumgardner, aide to president Obama said that America could follow suit with the Hudson.

Happy April fools day by the way. It may not have suckered you all in, if it did then hooray for silliness.

Here is my favourite top 3 April fool pranks of all time…

3) In 1965 BBC TV featured an interview with a professor who had just invented a device called “smellovision.” This new technology allowed viewers to experience aromas produced in the television studio. The professor offered a demonstration by cutting some onions and brewing coffee. A number of viewers called in to confirm that they distinctly experienced these scents as if they were there in the studio with him. That’s the power of suggestion I suppose.

2) 2000: A news release sent to the media stated that the 15th annual New York City April Fool’s Day Parade was scheduled to begin on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the release, floats in the parade would include a “Beat ’em, Bust ’em, Book ’em” float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray “themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence.” The “Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism” float would feature John Rocker who would be “spewing racial epithets at the crowd.” CNN and the Fox sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street only to discover that there was no sign of a parade, at which point the reporters realised they had been hoaxed.

1) On 1 April 1957, the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree.

Have a happy April fools day.

These stories were gathered from the Guardian, Independent and Times websites with special mention to the museum of hoaxes.

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An informative or persuasive message (advertisements and how to avoid them)

A point of information: if you live outside of the U.K, please substitute the word ‘adverts’ for ‘commercials’ throughout. Cheers ears.
I am a sky customer (cable in the states) and I love it. I love the fact that I have hundreds of channels. I love the fact that even when there is nothing on I can waste half an hour flicking channels. I love the never ending repeats of shows I’ve seen many times (I am still looking for the holy grail in the form of a friends episode I haven’t seen yet). All of these things I love. But more than anything else, above all of these great advantages of seemingly endless channels, I love the fact that I can record shows straight onto my sky box and fast forward the adverts.
I have never been a great lover of adverts, but now I hate them. I am so unused to seeing them that when I watch live TV it drives me mad. When I was a kid I was happy enough to watch the adverts. The toy or chocolate or McDonald’s (they are no longer allowed to advertise to kids in the U.K so Ronald McDonald has forever left our screens) or breakfast cereal or the latest cartoon. Now they drive me nuts.
It’s not just the product adverts though, oh no no no. It’s the adverts they sneak in when you think the adverts are finished. The last ad plays, the stations logo pops up, you hit play, the show starts. Right? Wrong. The logo is followed by an advert for their latest show (only days after the states they boast), then another advert for another show. Then… THEN, they decide to let you know who is sponsoring the show you are watching (Which can lead to over zealous fast forwarding and going into the show). And it’s always so random. Luscious hair shampoo, proud sponsors of The Wire. Last long washing up liquid is the proud sponsor of CSI. Dave’s pest control, sponsor of the mickey mouse clubhouse. Maybe not the last one, not yet anyway.
The adverts themselves really get on my nerves as well. Here is a short list as to why…
1) Lip sync/dubbed adverts. I think this is now more common due to massive multinational companies making ‘universal adverts’. It’s an odd thing really. You sit and watch and realise something is off, something is not quite right. Then it hits you, the person talking is not actually the person talking. These are not as bad as the complete dub though. The kind that was made in Germany, spoken in German and then dubbed into English. It’s a bit like the old martial arts films where the villain talks for about 20 seconds and all the dubbed version says is “time to die”. It’s cheap, it’s annoying and if anything, would make me go out of my way not to buy the product.
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2) Am I getting old? I used to enjoy some adverts. Used to like the humour of them, used to go out and buy the products. They don’t seem to apply to me now though. It’s not that I don’t like most of them, it’s just that either a) I don’t notice them or b) what they’re selling, I ain’t buying. Don’t want or need it. Those that really annoy are on my radar though. Those that have the following…
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3) Catchy rubbish songs. Songs that have been designed to stick in your head, that have the same tag line or hook over and over. Quirky, fun, bouncy and suckingly bad all in one. Most of them just repeat the company name over and over and over and over over. Ones that make me want to kill are a) the one for the price comparison site b) the one that wants to take my car off my hands and c) the ones from the bank that loves to sing. The only thing that makes them worse is if it’s an animal singing or a child dancing.
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4) Voice over? I was unsure if I should put this one in or not. I think that I would do a voice over if I was famous. A few grand to read a couple of sentences? Most definitely. I probably wouldn’t care about how embarrassing the product either (as long as it was ethically and morally sound). I just can’t help squirming a bit when a star I admire does the Voice over for a toilet bleach or a large supermarket in the guise of a massive duck or a cute puppy.
What I think I hate most though is the fact that I have to pay a TV licence so that the BBC can remain advert free when I don’t ever have to watch them either way. I very rarely watch live TV and if I do I generally pause it, make a cuppa and fast forward the adverts anyway. I could always stop watching as much TV, but then I’d have to talk to real people and read and stuff.
A friend of mine thinks that the adverts will have to change to meet the changes in the way we watch TV. I can see product placement being the way forward, as long as the contestants on talent shows don’t start singing advert songs and they don’t name the main character in a gritty new law drama Pepsi I’m ok with it. You?
Please feel free to re blog, tweet or Facebook this post. Any ideas in this blog are steal-able by anyone who wants them.
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Why Star Trek is cool

So what makes being a Star Trek fan cool? Shame on you for saying nothing. We have been the fish in the barrel for far too long, being shot at by those who need to be educated in this trek through the stars. We are the red shirts.

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I count myself as a grade 3 Star Trek fan. I can quote the films but never really watched the original series that much. I am able to tell you what series of TNG (the next generation) it is by Rikers facial hair but I can’t name all of the actors (most but not all). I can speak a few Klingon phrases (love the fact that Klingon is in my spellcheck), but only those in the films. I would bet I have seen all DS9 (Deep Space 9) and Voyager episodes. I’ve seen most Enterprise episodes but I’m not a massive fan. For those of you losing the will to read, please keep with me.

I would say a grade 2 would be someone who can fill in the gaps I have. A grade 1 lives, eats and breaths Trek.

So what makes it cool? A list you say? Don’t mind if I do. This list is in order from 5 to 1, chart style.

5) The new film: I have mentioned previously in my blog that I wasn’t a big fan of it. What it has done though is make trek mainstream again. In fact, I would go further than that, it’s made it popular to a wider audience, made being a Trekkie less of a stigma and meant that the franchise can stay alive. As much as I hate to admit it, the film has done a lot of good. It also means I can bore people with the differences between the old and new, the timeline discrepancies and the nods from the writers to the real Star Trek fans.
4)You get to do the shatner voice: this is great fun. You… Canmake… Some… Of …yourwords… Mixtogether… And………. Leave…..gapsbetween…… Others. Did you just read it in the voice? Good. Shatner also released a few covers albums. Some of the songs are hilarious and all of them spoken in the voice. Check it out –Shatner sings rocket man

3)The recognition when you meet another fan: ok, maybe not overly cool but still a great thing. I have a friend who is also a grade 3 Trek fan and if we have a couple of beers, if the mood takes us and if we feel like being antisocial, we can enter the Star Trek universe and talk Trek for hours. It’s one of those thing that you don’t find out about a person straight away (so maybe being a fan is not as cool as I thought) but when you do, either by a quote or a laugh from them where no one usually understands what you’re talking about, it’s a beautiful thing. The film means I can chat to people about star trek, but meeting a real fan means discussion and conversation. A sharing of memories written by a script writer and said by someone else. A bit geeky? You bet. This brings me on to…

2)It’s so uncool it’s cool: yep, you heard it here first. Forget odd facial hair, skinny jeans and one of a kind vintage T-shirts. If you wanna be truly geek chic then become a Star Trek fan. It’s free, easy and fun. You can wear Starfleet academy T-shirts (like the one I have), you can go to conventions (I have been), you can read books about it and be seen on the London underground or New York subway thumbing through it. People will look at you and say “damn that geek is cool”. If they don’t then you can be smug in the knowledge that they just don’t understand the depths of your coolness.

1)George Takei: a face book phenomena. George played Sulu in the original films and series. He is an activist for gay rights, or any human rights to be honest, and his posts and photos are a dose of daily hilarity. This does now mean though that my Facebook thievery of his pictures is now out (and most of the pictures from his blog are from him). Go see his page, it’s fantastic. George Takei

I hope you stuck with it this week. Most people glaze over when I talk about my love of all things Star Trek. Last week over dinner, a friend asked me a Star Trek question and got up and walked off halfway through my answer. So if you made it to the end I shall bestow on you the title of honorary Trekkie.

Live long and prosper.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies part III

Episode 3: the recycling of the film

The remake. I feel like I need to get a few things straight before I dive in. There is a film I must leave at the door and not mention again. To do so would make me swear (something I do very often but have tried not to do on this blog). It is a film that I loved as a child which had the ever awesome Gene Wilder as the star. Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory (1971) was remade horrifically. Even worse than that, it was done by a director I love and a star whose acting I admire. I will just leave it there.

The Italian job is a tough one for me. The original film is iconic in both its stars and script. It is one of those films that have seeped into everyday language with sayings that are very recognisable as having come from the film. I watched the original as a kid and loved the car chases and action. As an adult I still love those things but the dialogue is clever and witty and has further endeared the film to me. The new version is a pretty good film but lacks a certain something, certain flair, a leading man that is both charismatic and funny. If the new film had not been called the Italian job then I think I may have liked it more. Having said that, if it hadn’t been called the Italian job then people would have called it an Italian job rip off. Lose, lose I suppose.

Ocean’s eleven, what a great film. The remake I mean, not the original. The original was way before my time but I can see it has certain charms. You can tell that the people on screen are friends and that the story is meant to show off this chemistry. The new film needed to have a cast capable of standing up to rat pack comparisons, and it didn’t disappoint. Even the bit part players are Hollywood openers! I think though for me, the best part of the film is its intelligence. It’s increasingly hard to make a good heist film with all the casino technology in place, being able to get past it seems increasingly impossible. Not only did this film manage that, it did it in a way that was believable.

The remake of the remake.

The incredible hulk

I caught the original Hulk the other day (the 80’s one starring Lou Ferrigno) and found that when Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk it was pretty scary. In fact it was very scary. I then took a look at the remake, then the remake of the remake. The CGI is not very scary at all. I am unsure as to whether this is because I know its CGI or whether the original Hulk actually grabbed people by the throat and had to coordinate stunts. The last Hulk was impossibly big, didn’t move right and just looked plastic. The new films for me went on too long, had very weak storylines and the last one had a leading man who was neither big enough nor believable enough to be an action star.

I really hope this reboot craze stops with the new new Spiderman. It seems that ignoring the previous film has the advantage of being able to do whatever you like and start again. The problem is this: if the film was made badly then maybe it’s the premise that’s flawed, not the previous actors or directors. Most cartoons are best as just that. It takes a special kind of superhero to become a movie star.

My overall feeling about the remake is this.

1) If it aint broke, don’t fix it

2) Leave it alone for 30 years plus before a remake is even considered

3) Don’t re remake it. If it didn’t work once or twice, third time is unlikely to be a charm.

Take heed Hollywood, and tremble at the ravings of a 30 something semi popular children’s writer.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies. Part II

The film of the series (not the snappiest of titles).

You have to do an amazing job to be in with a chance of appealing to the original fans of the show, either that or go down the star trek route of actually having the actors from the series play the film roles. It worked well with both the original star trek and the next generation. As a real Trekkie (can’t believe that just got spell checked to a capital letter), I loved the films. Having William Shatner and Patrick Stewart on the same screen at the same time? Yes, yes oh yes. The same thing happened with firefly and the film version serenity (well worth a look) and the sex and the city films (not my cup of tea but the Mrs. loves em). They are recognisable characters playing recognisable parts and they work. Well, with the exception of the Simpsons movie. That was a real doh.


The problem comes when you transfer a TV show (especially a cult classic one) to film with a new cast. Basically, you can’t replace Mr T, Hannibal, Face or Murdock. Not if you want to tap into the original market anyway. I’m not saying the A-team film was awful; it wasn’t very good either though. I think the main reason was the original actors were those characters. Mr T is BA Baracus. I find the same with the avengers and the saint, and don’t even get me started on the new star trek film!

There is evidence that it can work though. Look at the Batman franchise. I loved the Adam West show, I loved the Tim Burton films (not any of the others though, why Arnie? Why?), I love the new incarnation. I think they are all sufficiently different, and no one actor really owns the role. There is no Mr T in batman (neither literally nor metaphorically).

I will finish with my 2 favourite TV show to films. It also strike me that it may well be because they started as sketch shows.

The Muppet show: I loved the Muppets as a kid and love the first Muppet movie. They took a sketch show of believable characters (albeit puppets) and showed us what they were like when they weren’t on the show. The plot is thin, the acting is hammy (terrible pun, sorry miss piggy) and you can see wires coming out of their arms. This to me though adds to the charm.

Monty pythons flying circus: An amazing TV show with a string of amazing films. The show and films are my dad’s era really, but I think they are timeless. My favourite of the lot has to be the life of Brian, if only because of the outrage of the religious community.

That’s it for episode 2: the return of the over opinionated bloggist.

Episode 3 promises the remake and the remake of the remake. I’m going down the Godfather route though (not making it rubbish, hopefully) and leaving a gap between parts 1 and 2 and part 3. Until next week.

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