His name is Earl

July 05, 2006

...and he has made us laugh for the last 7 days. We managed to watch almost 20 episodes during that time.

Earl is "that kind of guy who does nothing but bad things and then wonders why his life sucks".

In a weak moment he realises that he has to change and sets on to a path of Karma: "Do good things and good things will come to you".

We get to follow Earl, his bearlike brother Randy, his ex-wife Joy and the always chilled out Crabman.

Earl is played by the incredibly charming and down to earth Jason Lee and I dare to say that he transforms this small town, trailer-park comedy into a pure gem.




Catch the show on Sky. The show is in HD over in the US but on SkyHD there is only SD.



Movie hat-trick

April 12, 2006

Three evenings in a row watching three movies that I did know much about but proved to be very watchable. Now that is a good movie hat trick to write home about!

The Family Stone is a charming holiday story about relationships.

The movie has Sarah Jessica Parker starring as Meredith Morton who is visiting her boyfriend's family for Christmas.

Meredith is an uptight career woman and she clashes with the liberal, close knit family of her boyfriend. His family wants only the best for their little Everett (Dermot Mulroney) and they don't see Meredith as being the one.

The movie has a lot of funny moments and a few surprises. The overall feeling is of being very genuine and with some great acting.

In Shopgirl, Mirabelle (Claire Danes) works as a shop assistant. She has a large student loan, is getting older each day and starts questioning her self when and if her big break will come.

She has a brief, fairly embarrassing sexual encounter with Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) but almost forgets about it when a wealthy business man (Ray Porter played by Steve Martin) shows interest in her.

Breakfast on Pluto is about the boy Patrick (Cillian Murphy) who is deserted by his mother and left on the doorsteps of a church to be raised by a step mother.

Quickly it becomes obvious that Patrick is actually Patricia "Kitten"; a girl trapped in a boy's body who is "Looking for love in all the wrong places".

Patricia spends the rest of the movie looking for her real mother while experiencing colorful adventures (show biz, circus, IRA attacks, prostitution, friendship and much more).

Breakfast on Pluto is a pleasure to watch and no wonder since it is directed by Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire).

├ćon Flux was a fourth decent movie but only due to its stunning visual effects and lead character (Charlize Theron) but not quite on par with the three movies mentioned above..



Mirrormask (2005)

November 03, 2005

mirrormaskCurrently the only chance to see Mirrormask in the UK was to catch it at the 49th London Film Festival. So we did just that.

Neil Gaiman was part of the team creating the movie and this of course is why me and many other Sandman fans were excited about watching it. Sandman is a cult comic book with very original illustrations and stories.

The movie starts of with some very colourful and loud scenes from a circus performance were we are introduced to the main characters.

There is Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) who is a child but very mature for her age and unhappy with the nomadic lifestyle of her family.

Her father, played by Rob Brydon, seems to be in charge of the circus as well as of the family but only until there is a crisis. He then descends into a sad state and is not even able to comfort his own child.

Helena's mother Joanne (Gina McKee) falls ill early in the movie. When she has to undergo a risky brain surgery, Helena experiences a very vivid and strange dream.

In this dream Helena's meets Valentine (Jason Barry) who will become her guide and hero. Had Helena been a bit older Valentine might even have been a boyfriend.

Valentine is not your ordinary knight in shining armour. In addition to bravery and the care taking of Helena, he also displays common human features like fear, greed and jealousy.

Neil Gaiman's influence is constantly obvious in the many illustrations, masks and surreal plots throughout the movie - surely a treat to any Sandman fan. Unfortunately this was not enough for me to cover what I thought was mediocre acting. I suspect the fact that the actors had to act in front of a blue screen and some behind masks for long periods is partly to blame.

A nice touch to the performance was the fact that some of the main characters from the movie were on stage before the movie to introduce them selves personally. There was Stephanie, Jason and Rob. At that point however we were not yet familiar with the characters so it wasn't such a treat as it would have been after the movie.

A Q and A session was promised for after the performance. We missed it however because after sitting in first row and being bombarded with CG (computer generated) graphics and loud sound track we escaped quickly back into the real world.

Oh yeah, the short story by John Williams called Hibernation shown before the main performance was spectacular!



49th London Film Festival

October 06, 2005

The booking office has just opened for the 49th London Film Festival (LFF) and as always there are some film gems that you do not want to miss.

Mirrormask is the latest movie from Neil Gaiman, the creator of Sandman. The two showings of Mirrormask at the LFF are possibly the only showings in the UK for a while.

Some of my favourite European cinema movies are from France, Turkey and Czech Republic and I can see from the film listings that these countries are well represented at the LFF.

Demetrios Matheou has written a rough guide to the festival which is an excellent presentation of some of the highlights of the festival.

Here is my festival planer in case you want to join us at the festival..



DiG!

September 16, 2005

If there is one (music) documentary you should see this year, it is 'DiG!'. It was recorded during a period of 7 years while following two indie rock bands struggling for recognition and fame.

You may have heard of the Dandy Warhols but I suspect that you have not heard of Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM). The two bands started out as friends in the mid 90's but the friendship deteriorated. You get to experience the drama like a fly on the wall, watching it all unravel.

Anton Newcombe is the leader of BJM and his ego is larger than life. There is a fine line between 'musical genious' and village idiot and Anton Newcombe seems to be walking it elegantly; for a while.

On one hand he shows signs of unrivalled talent and creativity. He plays over 40 instruments and is able to produce a quality record alone, in his own basement and just in one week.

On the other hand Anton shows signs of madness when he time after time creates havoc. Be it by kicking the audience in the head, firing all band members, showing up drunk for important meetings or succumbing to heroin addiction. It's almost as if wants to sabotage any given opportunity to avoid success which he probably regards as cliché.

This of course creates great frustration among his band members that are trying really hard to "make it". BJM's official site tells some of the story: "Over the years, 60 members have passed through the band...". Anton Newcombe remains like a musical despot.

The main singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor from the Dandy Warhols is the narrator of the documentary but the band has only a secondary part in the documentary. The fact that they "make it" by securing a lucrative record deal is like a slap in the face of Anton Newcombe.

Captivating band rivalry ensues. The Dandy Warhols write a song (Not if you were the last junkie on earth) that mocks BJMs and it becomes a hit. Anton Newcombe strikes back by writing a whole album that mocks the Dandy Warhols. Courtney agrees to join the band during a gig but things go bad (they always do at BJMs gigs) and he stands aside to laugh at them.

I could go on but the less you know about this movie and the bands it portrais the better.

The director Ondi Timoner does an amazing job of introducing you to them and quickly gripping your attention... not letting it go until the closing credits are rolling across the screen (accompanied by some great music).



Descent, The (2005)

July 26, 2005

The less you know about this movie, the more you will enjoy it so you may want to stop reading now and head to that late showing of The Descent. If not then read on, I'll avoid any major spoilers.

The Descent is another British horror/thriller production that will keep you on the edge of your (cinema) seat. You could easily miss this movie due to very little marketing but it is a movie that you will not forget easily.

I associate British productions with cheaper budget than Hollywood productions but much more realism and believable plots. This applies to other well done movies like 28 days later and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The Descent is a claustrophobic horror about a group of all female and adventurous characters that go cave exploring. You are quickly thrown into an adventure of narrow caverns, hard hats scrapping against rock and dust covering our heroines. Add to this the fact that the girls are not alone in the caves.

The gore factor is high in The Descent. You will see blood squirting from deep cuts, broken bones sticking out from legs and people getting torn apart. It is all very realistic however and the sensation drags you uncomfortably into the movie.

A surprising twist is presented at the end of the movie and you are free to elaborate on it the comments. I sure didn't understand it even if I have my theories (Jacob's Ladder and Mulholland Dr. anyone?).



End of the Star Wars saga

May 19, 2005

So it was the 00:10 performance, probably the first public viewing of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. The official release date in the UK was Thursday, 19th and the ten past midnight just about satisfied that.

The general manager of the cinema held a little speech to the excited Star Wars geeks fans. He pronounced that he had seen the flick couple of hours earlier and that it really was "all that fcuking amazing". We all thought good for you but let us watch the freaking movie so we can say the same.

Breathtaking start. Could possibly be the best action sequence of any of the six episodes. I was amazed at how much detail there was in each scene. Shows how much CG (computer generated graphics) has advanced since the first episode in 1999.

This was the part where the pretty boy (my female friends have told me) Anakin Skywalker would become Darth Vader. While that is common knowledge, we were all psyched to see how it would occur. This was the highlight of the movie, for me at least so it was good to see that Anakin's transition to the dark side was a bit hasten but very enjoyable.

What will the future bring? It would be truly awesome to see the original three episodes (4, 5 and 6) remade but that may be too much to ask for. I have heard rumours that episodes 1-3 will be made in 3D version in the near future. There will also be a TV-show and various live performances (think amusement parks).

Regarding the episodes 7-9, George Lucas has once said that Star Wars was a "trilogy of trilogies" but more recently he has made it clear that episodes VII, IIX and IX will not be realised. Why is then that the whole Industrial Light & Magic team had to sign NDAs about the episodes 7-9 [TheForce.net] and that the British actor Peter Mayhew (plays Chewbacca) said that "his contract also stipulates that he'd be required to appear in Episodes 7, 8 and 9" [hotdogmagazine.com]?

Times seen: 1 2 3



Man on Fire (2004)

October 17, 2004
"Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting"

A very powerful movie on the theme of revenge.

Creasey is a washed out ex-marine that has lost his will to live and has given up hope that God will ever forgive him for his killings.

He reluctantly accepts a job as a body guard to the little girl Pita in Mexico City. A body guard is needed due to the frequent kidnappings and to satisfy an insurance policy requirement.

Pita is an irresistibly friendly little girl and Creasy finds him self becoming very attached to her. In a way Pita shows him that there is reason for caring and living.

When Pita is later kidnapped, Creasy swears to find her and kill "...anyone who was involved, anyone who profited from it, anyone who opens their eyes at him".

Cue one-man-army suicide mission where Creasy works his way up from low level gangsters towards the man responsible for the organised kidnappings in Mexico City.

Dakota Fanning (Pita) puts on a very convincing performance which is impressive especially due to her young age. Washington is very good at convincing the audience of his cold blooded nature and ruthlessness.

Rating: 4/5

"Creasey's art is death... he's about to paint his masterpiece"


Spiderman 2 - Abridged version

July 28, 2004

A short study of the changes in Peter Parker's feelings towards his responsibilities as Spiderman

(very cool intro)

I am Spiderman; I am happy
I am Spiderman so I cannot get the girl
I am Spiderman; I am not happy
Am I Spiderman?
Am I Spiderman?
I am not Spiderman; I am very happy
I am not Spiderman; I am conflicted
I am not Spiderman but I am pissed
I am Spiderman
I am Spiderman and I can get the girl
I am Spiderman; I am happy

(credits)



Kill Bill vol. 2

May 07, 2004

I was like a kid on Christmas waiting to see Kill Bill vol. 2. Volume 1 with its roaring soundtrack and cool characters had left me wanting so much more.

Vol. 2. starts of with a flashback to that interrupted wedding. The various characters are presented in much more detail and more time is spent on each one of them.

We are shown how the bride acquired her skills through some harsh training. She picks up two martial arts techniques that will save her life twice.

The movie has a very slow pace, especially compared to part one. Maybe this is why it was such a disappointment for me. The Japanese influence was replaced with gritty surroundings of some Texas outback.

While I loved the soundtrack in part one, the soundtrack was non-existent in this one.

Some hard core Tarantino fans will argue that the second part was more true to his style; volume one was more a tribute to Asian movie making. I however found volume 2 to be artificially pro-longed.

One special edition I would like to see is one 3 hour movie where volume 2 has been cut down majorly. Just my ¢2.



Zatoichi - Kill Bill meets Stomp

April 02, 2004

I didn't know anything about this movie until I was well seated in the cinema chair. As soon as I saw that the movie was directed by Takeshi Kitano I knew I was in for a treat.

The movie is set in a small Japanese rural town run by two rivalling gangs. Zatoichi who is a blind masseur but in secret is a master swordsman stumbles into this town.

Quickly he meets up with a female farmer and two beautiful dancing and singing sister. Their goal becomes to fight the two gangs that are ruling the village and bothering the farmers.

Zatoichi's nemesis is a ronin (Samurai with no owner) who as well is a master swords man. He is hired as bodyguard by one of the gang's bosses and thus is put against Zatoichi.

Humour plays a big part in the movie, often serving as a relieve from violence and graphic scenes. The humour was sometime bit too childish from time to time but overall generated a nice atmosphere.

So, what does Stomp have to do anything with this? You'll have to watch the movie, especially the ending, to find out.



Charlie (2004)

February 16, 2004

I was not impressed with this movie, not at all. The cheap production was very noticeable and the movie gave an impression of a TV documentary. Possibly something from National Geographic.

The only reason I went to see this movie was because of an user on IMDB. He/she compared this movie with my all time favourites 'Lock Stock...' and 'Snatch'. Don't be fooled though, 'Charlie' cannot be compared with the said movies in any way whatsoever.

The only thing worth seeing in this movie was Luke Goss performance as Charlie Richardson. Very realistic and performed with a lot of passion.

The lingering images in my mind are the gory and realistic torture scenes of various individuals.

I would not recommend this movie to my worst enemies;even less to my friends.

Looks like there is some controversy surrounding the movie. Looks like it might have been a movie about gangsters made by gangsters.



Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

December 18, 2003

There has been a multitude of sequels and prequels during the last two years and in my opinion most of them have failed (no names). While the first movies were entertaining and fun to watch, the sequels were often a repetition or rehash of the first movie and sometimes just relied on a bigger budget and more action scenes (no names).

LOTR triology has been different. It is based on a fantastic triology which evolves very naturally. The director (Peter Jack) has been true to the story and the third and last episode (Return of the King) delivers 100%.

One thing that was bugging me while reading the third part was the constant jumping between the various parties and adventures; just when it was getting interesting on one side of Middle Earth, the story would jump to another part to start building up yet another tension.

In the movie however, this created a dramatic effect. Every now and then I looked around at the rest of the audience and there were many dropped jaws; that's how gripping the movie was.

The scenery in the movie was stunning, probably the best scenery in any movie so far. Changing between green hills, wast prairies, snow covered mountain tops and not least volcanic ground.



Spun

December 10, 2003

Fasten your seat belt because this is a fast paced movie with quick dialogs and even quicker drug habits.

The movie follows the deranged and drug dependant lives of a group of people. Being either the producers or the consumers, they all have one thing in common; methamphetamine (speed). The high-light is a 3 days long drug odyssey for the main character Ross (Jason Schwartzman) where time seizes to exist.

The movie was directed by the Swede Jonas Akerlund and you will find several Swedish oddities in the movie if you look for them. An old brown Volvo 240 plays a central role, one song by Vikingarna (a Swedish folk band) is on the soundtrack and I suspect that the two blond toy-boys lounging with Cook's gay patron are Swedes as well.

One might say that Mickey Rourke (The cook) puts on a great performance but I have my suspicions that he was just being him self. In my opinion Spider (John Leguizamo), Nikki (Brittany Murphy) and Ross put on the best performances. They act out their emotions very well.

The movie tries hard making an impact on the viewer but in the end it just comes across as offensive and bit shallow.



Love Actually (2003)

November 20, 2003

What a sweet, sweet movie from the writer of such classics like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary and more.

The main theme of Love Actually is that love is actually all around us despite all the negative vibes lately (wars, terrorism, natural catastrophes). We follow a group of people in their search for love.

There is the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who falls in love with one of his staff. At first he is confused because of this but later he succumbs to love.

Funniest character is definitely the old rocker Billy Mack (Bill Nighy). He is determined to get a #1 with his song "xmas is around..." despite admitting how crap it is.

All these characters have seemingly one thing common, which is the search for love. Later it turns out that all character are somehow related

Of all the character, I could relate the most with Jamie (Colin Firth). He falls in love with a Portuguese woman (Sienna Guillory Lucia Moniz) without speaking a word with each other. Later he learns to speak Portuguese in evening class just to be able to ask her father for her hand. His charming words include the phrase: "I would like you to inhabit England with me".

All in all a feel-good movie that I am looking forward to seeing again.

"When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love."



Matrix: Revolutions

November 06, 2003

Well this was a bit pants. The kick ass action did not manage to salvage a questionable script.

It feels as if there never was a script or even a story for all three parts of Matrix. It feels as if there was a fantastic idea and great script for the first part. When it turned out to be a success, a rather rushed script was put together for the two sequels.

One noticeable thing in the Revolutions is that most of the movie is set out side of Matrix, i.e. in the real world. This is in contrast to the first Matrix were most of the action was inside the Matrix.

Still, the conclusion of the Matrix trilogy just has to be seen. Everyone has to make up their own mind because 4 years ago the Watchowski brothers started something revolutionary with the original Matrix.



Kill Bill, Vol. 1

October 27, 2003

Well this must be the most violent movie in a very, VERY long time. It's not one of those psychologically violent movies where the scary images are in your mind. It is instead a movie filled with blood, spraying blood and congealed blood. It is not a movie for the fainthearted.

Nevertheless, it is a very captivating film mostly due to its chic soundtrack and heavy Japanese influence. Is it just me or is everything Japanese bizarrely cool.

The movie has the standard Tarantino-style irregular time line in which you are thrown in at the middle of the movie and only later you are revealed details about how things started. This time it is bit easier to follow since we are shown chapters and the number of next victim to be killed.

Apparently, making a two part movie started of as a joke when the movie running time was closing in to 3 hours but later it was not so funny anymore and the decision was made. To me it just seems to follow this years trend of sequels and sequels to sequels.

Kill Bill at IMDB



Werewolfs, vampires and a cute clown fish

October 11, 2003

"Underworld" was a very dark movie indeed. You are thrown into a battle between werewolves and vampires and it is hard to tell who is who. During the course of the movie you change your opinion about who is bad and who is good; several times.

The music and the dresses were very much inspired by The Matrix. Tight leather suits and sunglasses dominated the movie; as did the large amount of firearms.

The characters dreams and hallucinations used the same technique as was used in the Lord of The Rings when the ring was worn.

Movie buffs like us are not satisfied by one movie alone so we went straight to the next performance which turned out to be Finding Nemo.

The contrast between the two movies was surreal to say the least. From blodspitting and carnage in Underworld to cute animations and lovable characters in Finding Nemo.

Turtastic movie duuuuude.



Spooks: Season 1 DVD

August 31, 2003

Spooks is a British drama series about Series B, a counter terrorist section of MI5. This is the best drama series I have seen in a long time and the DVD presents it very well. The series uses suspense, intense music, split screens and realistic scenes to hold it's viewers in a grip (or in the sofa).

The episodes were no surprise as I have seen most of them on TV but the added bonus on the DVD I would like to rave about.

First of all, the standard (boring) menu system has been replaced with an interactive movie of an intruder to the Section B office. You steer him to select audio options, scene index and cut scenes. First time I watched the DVD I actually thought the menu system was the first episode ;-)

5.1 sounds makes the episodes even more dramatic than the TV version. Shame no sub-titles were put on as the dialogs tend to get complicated, especially with the addition of various British and American dialects.

Get the DVD here.



Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

August 29, 2003

laraA glowing golden globe has been stolen. This globe is told to have a map inscribed on it that will leads it's owner to the mythical Pandora's Box.

Of course some baddie gets hold of the globe and plans to find Pandora's box to unleash it's content. Lara Croft is sent out to retrieve the globe and her adventure leads her to a secret place called the Cradle of Life.

Not bad at all. The movie is fast paced and the action scenes are entertaining. Lara Croft is as superior as ever and fun to watch. As long you don't get annoyed by unrealistic story lines (it's a movie) you should be ok.

More on the Internet Movie Database

[Listening to: Coming Of Age - Breaking Point -- CD * - (04:09)]


Animatrix

August 20, 2003

Animatrix is a must for any fan of the Matrix trilogy, especially if you are into animations.

The DVD consists of 9 short stories that all happen in the world of the original Matrix movies but that are wonderfully alternative. You will see explanations of how machines were driven to mutiny and you will see other heroes than Neo.

The animation technique varies from state of the art CG (computer generated) a la Final Fantasy: Spirits within, via traditional Japanese Anime to black and white. Simply splendid.

Favorite episode? Matriculated for sure. What a wonderful animation of virtual reality.

Don't forget to listen to directors commentary as it shows how much work and talent there is behind the animations.



T3: Rise of machines

August 18, 2003

Gee, what a disappointment. Arnold is old and not properly pumped, no Sarah Connor present and weak lead actors just to mention a few of the fallbacks. Still, the flick has some attractions for an old Terminator fan.

It is the most humorous Terminator of the three and all the lead actors manage to be funny.

Catch the movie because of the stunning effects but be warned about the weak plot.

IMDB