His name is Earl

…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

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).
Æon 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)

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

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..


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)

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

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)

“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

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

Kill Bill vol. 2

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.