Posts Tagged ‘The UK’

Quantum of Solace

December 4, 2008

Youtube clip nicked off Joe Cornish of Adam & Joe

The beginning of the new blonde Bond movie is dead exciting. People fall through roofs, Daniel Craig survives slow-mo explosions, a hot lady cracks a safe, planes crash, buildings explode, Judi Dench calls him a renegade – it’s a non-stop medley of action and drama and it is relentless!

Then the adverts end and Odeon have their inexplicable three minute lights up moment.

We’ve been in the cinema 20 minutes, the trailers haven’t even started and already we’ve seen the best bits of the film and heard the theme song numerous times. Make up. Drinks. Phones. Laptops. Televisions. This isn’t a movie, it’s an orgy of advertising – a quantum of synergy slowly destabilising the image of action heroes and brand association across the world.  “They have people everywhere.”

Movie begins; car crashes, rooftop chases and hundreds of extras all feature in a ballet of action – shot (as is the current trend) as if the camera were handled by five year old child with ADD. It seems insulting, employing all those stuntmen to perform daring acts of doing and then hiding them behind camera movements that look like they’re covering up budget defects, but I suppose that’s the style these days.

The plot revolves around an evil SPECTREesque alliance of bad guys called QUANTUM – which makes the title null and void since we were all told it refers to Bond trying to find moments of peace following the death of Eva Green in the last film. In fact, they actually forget about most things pretty early on with the potentially interesting idea of a faction of uber-villains operating without governmental knowledge being abandoned and instead focus on a very boring and sneery Frenchman who’s buying up land for some utterly pointless movie reason.

Remember when Casino Royale came out and a brave new beginning was announced? Daniel Craig was taking the character in a whole new direction and things were going to change, they said. Well that time was over pretty quickly – Quantum of Solace is a blueprint Bond film with all the trademark exploding buildings, casual fucking and overcomplicated plotting, except this time (because he’s, like, y’know, updated and everything) he feels guilty about most of it – which kind of steals all the fun out of the movie.

Pierce Brosnan’s reign of terror may be over and for that I’m thankful, but the producers are clearly terrified of abandoning the forumula that did them so well so they’ve made the same movie as always, except with some solemn faces and kudos casting. I give it one more film before they reintroduce Q as played by Ray Winstone and he’s flying around in invisible cars once again.

It’s a shame, because Casino Royale is a genuinely good film and it deserved a sequel that did it justice. All we have instead is a substandard Bond movie with all the crap nobody missed last time around put back in so it can be distinguished from the Bourne films. You get the feeling that they wrote the film around the product placements and required quota of action, employed a respected director with an indie-standing and then refused to let him do anything interesting lest the Bond brand be tarnished by deviation.

The opening says it all – a tough movie punching for realism while naked ladies dance in silhouette around Coke cans. Or was that the adverts again?

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NewsGush – Best Bond

November 17, 2008

I’ve never been one for your James Bond rubbish. Bond’s a slimy sod, I reckon – whether we’re talking back in the Connery era or, more recently, the Brosnan epoch. And this Daniel Craig version doesn’t appeal. He may be all sensitive now but he’s still an overdressed ponce schmoozing about and killing innocent terrorists.

The only Bond film I’ve ever sat through was a Roger Moore one. At least ol’ Rog bought some chuckles to proceedings.

But what do I know? Apparently, the latest Bond is the biggest ever.

Quantum of Solace has captured a record opening for a Bond film at the North American box office, with takings of more than $70m (£47.4m).

Am I missing out on something great? Or is Bond a load of balls?

NewsGush – Russell Resigns, Tabloids Triumph

October 30, 2008

Just to draw a line under this sorry saga (and if you haven’t been in the slightest bit interested, I apologise for the recent Brand-related news triptych), the last few days of complete stupidity and insanity have ended with Russell Brand quitting his post at the BBC. 

Taking the bullet for his friend, Jonathan Ross, in other words. Let’s not forget that it was the older of the two who blurted out the initial offending sentence.

I suppose, in some senses, Brand has also taken the hit on behalf of the BBC who, it has to be said, have behaved like disorganised buffoons throughout this farrago. They shouldn’t have put the recording out in the first place. They should have organised a public apology on behalf of all parties immediately and they should have ignored all the tabloid speculation.

But the real arseholes in this Kafkaesque trial by second hand information are – as usual – the tabloid press. Without the Mail picking up on the story and hypocritically running it endlessly (thus, presumably, adding to Mr Sachs’ embarassment) and without printing tittilating pictures of the supposed ‘fuckee’, this wouldn’t have reached the ridiculous heights it broached.

The Sun also went crazy with the story – as did all the tabloids including those with a more limited circulation – your London Lites, your citywide Metros. All expressing outrage whilst regurgitating the point of Mr. Sachs embarassment. Bizarre, eh?

To compound the weirdness, it seems Georgina Baillie has now signed up with Max Clifford – a day or so after he dumped Katona as a client. Some people are admiring of the girls guile and pluck. From where I’m sitting, it looks suspiciously like she’s exploiting the situation for personal gain. Exploiting her grandfather’s initial embarassment and milking this fabricated ‘shame’ for all its worth. I can’t believe that, by now, she’s still red-faced. Not with all those offers coming in.

The other aspect of this so-called scandal that makes it so very 2008 is the way information spread. Without Youtube, without messageboards and blogs, people wouldn’t have formed an opinion so quickly. The replay wouldn’t be available, so unless you’d taped it it’d all be hearsay.

It’s impossible to quantify whether this made the situation worse for the presenters and the BBC, but it certainly intensified the atmosphere. The web was alive with chitter and chatter and gasbag opinion. Mail readers suddenly found reason to comment on the Guardian messageboard. The papers and their websites couldn’t keep up with the bloggers who were formulating opinions left right and centre – and this aspect of the incident is something we should expect to see a lot more of in the future.

All in all, the ultimate tragedy of the whole affair is that, as a result of a very silly, vaguely amusing and massively ill-considered gag, the conservative element in the press and in the blogosphere has somehow managed to force the hand of the BBC using the most questionable tactics imaginable. They’ve also managed to make one of my favourite podcasters – a genuine talent, I feel – resign over what amounts to very little. I think that’s depressing.

It seems one squawking idiot can’t change a thing, but multiply him by a few thousand using the latest technology and soon enough you won’t be able to hear yourself think.

NewsGush – Brand & Ross Debacle Escalates

October 29, 2008

With this just in from the BBC, following front pages, comments from politicians and the blogosphere ignited, it seems nobody’s got anything better to report or comment on than this whole sorry affair…

And as a result, Ross and Brand have been suspended from the airwaves. More as a result of the furore rather than the stunt itself, one suspects.

Nice to see Georgina Baillie chipping in at last with some very Sun-style quotes. Off with their heads!

Maybe us bloggers helped this to get out of hand… and maybe politicians shouldn’t be asked such trivial questions. But on a day when Meredith Kercher’s killer has been jailed (one of three, potentially), an earthquake in Pakistan has killed loads of people and we’re all continuing to ignore this credit crunch business, is a silly phone call really something we should be focusing on? Of course, with this post I’m part of the paradoxical problem…

Isn’t it time we all grew up?

NewsGush – Sachs, Scandal and the Sack

October 28, 2008

I was trying to avoid bringing this up as I don’t believe it deserves the oxygen of publicity – especially after the Daily bloody Mail have got their idiot paws all over it. They were bound to when there’re images of the Satanic Sluts involved. Anything that tittilates the readers whilst giving them a heart attack, right?

You know the drill – Jonathan Ross appeared on Russell Brand’s Radio 2 show, Russell Brand got ridiculously over-excited, silly phone calls were made, a nice old man called Andrew Sachs who we all remember as Manuel got upset.

The dust settles. One week later, The Daily Mail make an issue of it. Suddenly complaints are made in their hundreds and there are calls for sackings.

I’m getting stuck into a debate over here at Andrew Collins’ blog. My view is that this isn’t front page news, nobody should be sacked and that the Daily Mail is a toilet-rag.

Anyone think differently?

NewsGush – I’m On The Corner of Baker Street

October 14, 2008

Terrible news for fans of literature / all that is decent. The rumour about Guy Ritchie’s plans to piss orange urine on the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle’s fine creation appear not only to be founded, but also somewhat advanced.

And it looks like they’re out to make Holmes an all-action kind of a character – when (from what I remember) in the books his physical attributes were only alluded to. Empire magazine says:

…this version looks to be more action packed than the traditional adaptations, with the filmmakers promising to make use of Holmes’ bare-knuckle boxing and martial arts skills (it’s OK, they’re skills mentioned in the books).

And, to add insult to injury, that complete and utter cock-end Jude ‘I am the’ Law is in it.

So thanks, Ritchie. At least with Revolver and Rocknrolla you were only fannying about with your own two-bit stories. What made you think you could mess with the big boys?

The Friday Question: Breakfast TV

October 10, 2008

Morning all! Bright and early on Friday the tenth of October, 2008! It’s a beautiful day out there so rise and shine and let’s talk breakfast TV!

It’s a difficult balance for a breakfast TV presenter. On the one hand, they have to be chirpy and cheerful, otherwise they’ll give the audience the worst possible start to the day. The last thing anyone wants to see first thing in the morning is a presenter who’s as hungover as you and looks like they’d rather be in bed.

On the other hand, if they’re too frenetic and colourful, they risk annoying the hell out of your watching eyes. So next time you switch on BBC Breakfast or GMTV, spare a thought for the poor sods as they negotiate this highwire tripwire…  

BBC Breakfast and GMTV appear to be all we have these days. Gone are the days of RI:SE (with news presented by the incredible Zora Suleman) and some might say ‘thank God for that’ – Edith Bowman was a bit much to handle first thing, after all.

After a lengthy run by anyone’s standards, The Big Breakfast died a long time ago leaving a chasm in its wake which, ever since, hasn’t been filled.

Do you miss the days of Denise and Johnny? What cartoons did you used to enjoy first thing? Do you remember Chris Evans’ bubble bursting? Was he having big sex with Gabby Roslin? If you saw Eamon Holmes in the street, would you kick his legs off? I would.

Can you give us your thoughts on Breakfast TV?

Eating With The Enemy

July 23, 2008

It must’ve looked fairly appealing on paper.

Great idea for new reality / cooking / lifestyle module – a Dragons’ Den vs Masterchef fusion. Import the same chefs who mete out the nasty judgements on Masterchef and get them to judge food made by the Great British public. Like Masterchef without the constructive criticism. Like Dragon’s Den without the real business opportunities and vast sums of money. A chance to see restaurant critics really lashing out on poor, unsuspecting, non media-friendly fools. Guaranteed success.

It looks like a ratings-grabber on first sight but after five minutes viewing, the obvious flaws poke out like impetuous tongues.

Sweet Baby James presents Eating With The Enemy, playing the exact same role as Evan Davis in the old double ‘D’. He’s the go-between who liaises with the judges and cosies up to the contestants. He’s the viewers’ representative. It works with affable Evan, who humbles himself in front of contestants, folding his fists in front of himself and smiling from behind those kind, slightly off-kilter eyes. With Sweet Baby James it doesn’t quite work the same way, given his abrasive attitude. He spends the show mocking the efforts of the contestants to their faces and getting in the way. Yesterday he made a scene when he got splashed with a tiny dribble of custard, the big jessie.

The judges are vaguely known restaurant critics. You’d recognise them if you saw them. They are:

Toby Young – Probably the most famous. Likeable buffoon.
Kate Spicer  – Evening Standard food critic. A sour-faced grunt of a woman who starred in possibly the worst television show ever, Super Skinny Me.
Jay Rayner – Son of Clare. Observer food critic. Pompous man-mountain with ludicrous hair and facial trim who appears to climax every time he makes a weak, food-related gag.
Charles Campion – Miserable, fat knacker who looks EXACTLY like Peter from Family Guy.

The show’s structured really badly. Dragons’ Den is so straightforward you’d have to be lobotomised to misunderstand the formula. Masterchef is slightly more confusing – with semi finals here and restaurant rounds there – but usually we know where it’s at.

Eating With The Enemy has so many segments that we seem to meet the contestants three times, say goodbye to them twice and have the main courses described (in some detail) endlessly throughout the shows fifty minutes.

Another flaw, possibly intended, is that the food is bloody awful. Walid, a Lebanese gentleman, made steak with a ‘stilton vein’ running through it and bacon wrapped around the outside. It was completely over-complicated and rammed with essence of cardiac arrest. His sparring partner was Sam who made ‘rag pudding’ which seemed to be a weird arctic roll made out of mince and fat. Not to mock Sam or Wally – I probably couldn’t do much better myself – but surely it just meant we were going to have to watch culinary assassination as the non-professionals lined up their wares in front of people who talk shit about high end food for a living?

In the event, the judges shrank from the task and praised the dishes where they could. The rubbish in front of them was barely worth comment so they opted for the positive. And therefore the ‘fearsome’ judges pretty much turned the show into an irrelevance. They’re referred to throughout as ‘The Enemy’ in the same way Theo, Jonesy and pals are called ‘The Dragons’, but it doesn’t make any sense as they show sympathy, which is weakness, which drains the element of threat from proceedings. The closest they got, really, was asking Walid why he’d attacked an ‘innocent bit of meat’ and saying he’d ‘pushed it off a cliff’.

So what we have here is a redundant piece of programming. A pretty despicable concept in the first place – four twats who get paid to be pissy to waiters criticise some nice normal folk for giving something a bash – is then completely weakened when ‘The Enemy’ go all soft and praise food you’d clearly send back if you were served it even in a greasy spoon. So what, my friends, is the fucking point?

I’ve not even started on some other major weaknesses. Dragons’ Den works because the prize at stake is a large amount of money. Remove the return and you’ve kicked your programme in the groin. Masterchef works because those participating already have some degree of flair. Serve up two shit cooks and you’ve gone and slapped your show’s arse. Use restaurant critics as your judges and you’ve pretty much decapitated your own creation.

Restaurant critics, as any fool knows, are generally sniffy berks who lack any experience or expertise in what they do. They’re professional moaners. Where the Dragons have all worked their way to their personal wealth, this lot are promoted hacks who are now so far removed from the man on the street they think writing cynically about a fucking pudding represents a meaningful existence. I remove Giles Coren from that generalisation, as he barely even mentions the food, preferring instead to waffle on about his life – which is generally far more interesting.

These four ‘enemies’ and their supposedly daunting presence is acceptable when they’re asked to bitch for three minutes in Masterchef, but try and extend that three minutes to fifty and the whole thing collapses like an undercooked cakey pie.

I just hope they don’t make this rubbish prime time.