I think the Olympics would be a great thing for the UK so I am backing London’s bid.
I signed up to back the London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics because, when all’s done, I think it would be fantastic for London and the UK as a whole. So, right now, I selected The Gerkin is my computer’s desktop image. I thought it was appropriate after having wandered The City earlier in the month to see the fantastic Swiss Re tower.
London is a wonderful city as I keep discovering years after arriving here.
I really should start a category on London’s South Bank because I mention it a greatdeal and it really is one of the most wonderful areas of London. If you’re a visitor to this great city you really must spend an afternoon walking the South Bank: start at Waterloo and the London Eye and head towards Tower Bridge (and beyond). when I first arrived here it was an area that had little to offer; it was dead and quiet but now it’s vibrant and alive.
Over the past few weeks PY and I have explored a little more of London on foot and I really do enjoy the place. On the Monday after New Year we wandered around High Holborn and Farringdon areas, near The Guardian’s central London base. It was a quiet Bank Holiday and yet it was – strangely – alive. We also crossed the bridge to the Tate Gallery which is probably the only gallery space I can truly say I enjoy. The Turbine Hall, which housed The Weather Project, is currently home to Bruce Nauman’s Raw Materials – which is a soundscape of 22 spoken texts. Some are clearly audible and some not so clear but as you walk through the hall you get this most amazing sense of sound. It works better if you keep moving (rather than stopping to listen) but you’d be wise to adjust to the sound first. It wasn’t as much of a communal event as The Weather Project but it was totally unexpected, thrilling and energizing. You can get a taste online at the Tate’s site.
Last weekend we went to City Hall (which I have mentioned before) but this time we were able to get inside and head to the top. It’s a building of unexpected contrasts: the building looks wonderful and they have revitalised the whole area but the office space inside looks cramped and uncomfortable. Given the climbing spirals of the building I would have expected the view from the top to be better. Unfortunately, the main viewing area looks the wrong way: great views over the south but you want to see London’s landmarks. It was late in the day when we arrived which meant there were no crowds and we were able to find our house on the satellite pictures on the floor of the basement. Sadly, however, I don’t think the lighting scheme is brilliant at all – they could do so much more with it.
While we were there I rode the snow slide at The Tate (basically a silly slide that you descend almost buried in an inflatable tyre-like object). Silly but cheap and amusing. Then we crossed Tower Bridge (always a stunning experience) to go and have a look at the stunning Swiss Re tower and walk around The City – which is, of course, almost dead on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a rather unnerving contrast to London’s West End which is full of people on a Saturday.
Yesterday, we went to Marble Arch and had a go on the ice rink that has been placed there for the winter. I haven’t been on skates for years and I really liked it – although there’s no chance I could go round the rink without holding onto the side at some point. PY was not quite so in love with the experience which is a great shame and I am going to have to find ways to convince him to come again. I’ll work on it.
Certainly not the best film ever but it was a promising work for Braff and I’ll be looking our for more.
I had heard and read almost nothing about Garden State until I saw it tonight. It’s written and stars Zach Braff who is, apparently, a big hit in Scrubs (but I don’t watch it) and was in one of my favorite movies, The Broken Hearts Club (but I’d forgotten him).
The background to the plot is that Andrew Largeman (Braff) is a twenty-something actor from New Jersey who now lives in Los Angeles (which supposedly mirrors Braff’s own life). Largeman returns home for his mother’s funeral after not having been back for a decade. He has almost no relationship with his father, a bunch of slacker friends and a lot of history.
So. it’s another middle class slacker movie but it’s quite well done. It’s got elements of humour (both in dialogue and the visuals) and is well shot. Despite the slow pace of some of the film, I found myself remarkably engaged. Usually I that find films where nothing happens are hard work regardless of the abilities of the actors and directors. It simply wasn’t the case here: the opening scences of Largeman motionless in an all white bedroom listening to his father’s messgae grabbed me and I was hooked.
There are two aspects of this film that I think stand out. The first is the soundtrack. I feel a good soundtrack is usually unobtrusive and you tend not to notice it. This is one film where you have an exception to that rule. I noticed how great the soundtrack was but it didn’t take anything away from the experiennce. The imdb entry for ths film notes, “When Braff sent the script to people, he would also send them a copy of the songs which would eventually be the soundtrack (which he handpicked). That is why on the actual soundtrack album, all of the songs are in the order that they appear in the movie” [source].
The other aspect I really liked about this film is the way the depths of the Largeman character are only revealled gradually as we go through the film. Obviosuly, it’s a very common trick of any story but – sometimes – movies reveal too much too soon in a bid to hook the audience. In Garden State, that’s not the case and it works beautifully.
Certainly not the best film ever but it was a promising work for Braff and I’ll be looking our for more, particularly, if he continues blogging about his work.
An all new Christmas classic movie and all the better for being seen in a IMAX 3D cinema.
One of the films I had been really interested in seeing this Christmas was Robert Zemeckis’ Polar Express, which has been selling out in all it’s 3D glory at the BFI London IMAX. So, tonight, we got tickets for the last screening (although I imagine this will be back quite a lot). It’s a shame that we didn’t make it before Christmas when London was lit up with Christmas sparkle as that would have added to the magic.
Some reviewers of the film have criticised this film for being dark or scary but I didn’t see it. It’s basically the story of the boy who is doubting Santa Claus and is taken on a magical ride to the North Pole to find Christmas. And it’s filled with that wonder and magic that can only be found in really good Children’s films. Sure, the movie makers have used the 3D format to full-effect (the roller-coaster scenes are overdone in many IMAX presentations) but it shouldn’t detract from the wonder of this tale. Tom Hanks is great as the primary voice of the film which just added to the joy.
While the animation may not quite be on a par with The Incredibles it remains pretty stunning and, unlike The Incredibles, I see this film enduring. It’s a fantastic film.
I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to mark the passing of time. I am, ultimately, sentimental. So, although I am not going to write a great deal about 2004, there is one thing that has fascinated me this year: some of the pictures of the year.
In January 2004 I acquired Treo 600 mobile ‘phone. This was the second ‘phone I had with a camera on it and it certainly isn’t the best mobile phone camera on the market. However, I took a few photographs and then, towards the end of the year, I realised that I had a photographic record of much of the year and it had been created unintentionally. It was quite a shock to look at them and put the year into context. Sure, many of them were taken with friends after a few drinks but I don’t think that matters too much. It certainly sums up a lot of the year!
A couple of days ago, I sat down to review the pictures. There were 265 of them. Some are blurred and useless, some pointless and some I really don’t want to show anybody else. However, I thought it might be an interesting idea to get the pictures down to a collection of 100 that sum up the year and I can keep as my Moblog memories for 2004. It’s a filtered collection limited by the technology (the pictures are very low res) and by the photographer (I am not keen on holding my phone and pointing it at people) but I think it does represent 2004 quite well.
Click on the image for the larger version and, if you want to read the captions, see 2004: A Review in my gallery.
The super heros are having a mid-life crisis in a great animated film from Pixar.
The superheroes are having a mid-life crisis. I guess, following on from Spiderman, it’s not all the unusual for out lycra-clad action heroes to be questioning their purpose. The litigation society that forces the superheroes to, effectively, enter a witness protection-style programme was an interesting take on the world. Of course, it’s not the main point of The Incredibles but much of the enjoyment is in the detail.
What can you say that hasn’t been writtenelsewhere? The animation is superb; the plot seems to be able to captivate children and adults. Mark Kermode notes, with much justification, that the film lacks, “classic fairy-tale simplicity of Snow White or Finding Nemo” but my main criticism is that I just didn’t find any of the characters that endearing. The Incredible/Parr family (beautifully acted) just didn’t produce the one character that endures. If you think of it in classic Disney terms, there’s just no soft toy to last for generations.
Nonetheless, a great film to start a new year with.
I am not sure how well is translates to other countries but if you live in London – check the streets and the faces of those walking towards you for they may just be the living dead.
OK, so I spent this period watching movies I was not expecting to like and I liked most of them. I found at least one subtitled film that I thought was superb and managed to find a Jim Carrey role that I thought he was pretty good in. So, I thought my luck must be up and I wouldn’t like Shaun of the Dead because, frankly, I dislike the whole zombie movie concept.
The problem is that this isn’t a typical zombie movie and it’s truly excellent. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen for ages. Simon Pegg plays Shaun who is a lit of a loser who comes into his own as London gets over taken by the recently deceased who come back to life. Cricket bats to the head seem to be the way to fight off these zombies and where better to put up the fight but from your local pub? It’s amusing, well-written and there are some great performances (not only from Pegg but also Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis and Penelope Wilton). The attention to detail makes for some wonderful moments: as TV channels are scanned for news on the zombie invasion appearances by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Carol Barnes, Rob Butler, Vernon Kay and a brilliant Jeremy Thompson make the film very rooted in Britain.
I am not sure how well is translates to other countries but if you live in the UK – and most importantly if you live near London – check the streets and the faces of those walking towards you for they may just be the living dead.