Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Category: film (page 2 of 8)

Bat Out Of (Extraterrestrial) Hell

My media law lecture was cancelled allowing me to listen to Alex, Jamie and Louis’ radio show, Another Planet’s Hell (Wednesdays 6-8pm, CUR1350), after quite a while. It’s still a fun show and well worth a listen, though obviously moreso when I’m free to email the studio with contributions about concept albums and Nazi dogfood (Pedigree Hun, of course), or whatever else they happen to be discussing at the time.

Flickr, the photo community, have released an interesting graph which reveals the most popular cameras amongst its users. It really highlights the success of the Canon range in particular, which I certainly agree with. I’d love a Canon EOS 400D if anyone’s feeling particularly generous this Christmas!

The new Hary Potter Trailer is out. Unless you’re a big fan, however, it’s just not that great aside from the familiar musical refrain at the end. But the comparison is inevitably with arguably one of the finest Teasers ever in Prisoner of Azkaban, which seems a little unfair.

Betting on a Better Bond

Casino Royale is fantastic. I’m inclined to leave it at that until you’ve seen it, although it was good enough to inspire a full review too. The November release date is perfect as it is far cry from the vacuous summer blockbusters we have been treated to in recent years. In some ways it harks back to the days of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but the new grounded, gritty style is all new and very welcome. The only downside is that you may have noticed the lack of a high profile theme tune being released alongside the film. That’s because it’s rubbish. Aside from that, this is finally nigh perfect action film-making for the 21st century. What the future holds for Bond has me grinning in anticipation.

We all knew the government’s proposed ID cards would inevitably end up a ruse for visibly heightened security with no actual substance. As it turns out these “secure” cards are even more hopeless than we feared asThe Guardian announce they have already been cracked. An expert reveals that, in remarkable display of ignorance, arrogance or stupidity (and quite probably all three) the encryption keys are based upon information actually found within the passport.

Returning to film news the first footage of Venom is floating around from a leaked Spider-man trailer. It looks a little rough with many of the special effects unfinished but it closes with a completed sequence showing a figure on all fours transforming in Venom, growling and then lunging forward. I have reservations about the quality of the digital effects in the film with much of it seeming too fluid and lacking any solidity. However even from just a few seconds, Venom looks just as comicbook fans will have hoped. It is wise to limit how much we see of him before the film’s release, and I assume the final trailer will include just the same few seconds. Look forward to seeing it in high definition around a month before the film’s release next year.

Finally, I mentioned Ciao! recently, and in less than a week I’ve earned a few quid through the site, so if you haven’t checked it out yet I do recommend signing up.

Halo (Non)News

Master Chief in Halo 3Bungie’s “major” press announcement yesterday was a bit of a dud. Announcing the future release of a CGI trailer several weeks away is exactly the sort of pointless, pretentious attempt at generating hype for which the studio is becoming better known than its game. Hype is good, but don’t let it overshadow the actual content. The suggestion of a public beta of Halo 3 multiplayer in spring next year is more interesting. For them to release it openly over Live will require that a lot of content is finalised meaning that a late summer release is not out of the question. Unlike PC betas where some crashing is permitted, the engine will have to be completely stable for distribution to consoles so it’s likely it’ll be pure balance testing by then. However the smart money is still on a November 2007 release like the last two, best to cash in on Christmas sales. Finally there other “big news” was yet more additional multiplayer maps for Halo 2, a game released over 2 years ago. I guess there must be someone (or rather several hundred thousand someones) still playing online, but not me. I expect Gears of War to satiate my Halo yearning for some time.

Army of TwoIn the meantime you’re better off checking out the Army of Two trailers which look to offer some genuinely innovative co-op action. Dragging a wounded team mate to safety while they continue laying down suppressing fire on the enemy is the sort of immersive bonding experience I crave. We also received a promotional copy of the Sounds of the City soundtrack from GameCity, so presumably they’d like a plug. The festival, celebrating the “hidden-industry” of videogomes, is over for this year but it looks like an interesting one, so keep an eye out for next year’s.

With Casino Royale out today, a bunch of us will be heading to see it this evening. Being a mainstream flick it’ll be at Vue again, which means I’m rather forsaking my preferred haunt, the Picturehouse. Good thing they’re just competing cinemas and not rival gangs.


P-2006 is proud to unveil a new line of T-shirts. Using the French Comboutique, they’re not the cheapest around but use high quality digital transfers onto good brand shirts (like Fruit of the Loom, Jerzees, etc.). There are currently only a handful of designs available but expect more to appear over the next few weeks with the general approach being to mix the humorous with some in-jokes and a few stylish designs. Feel free to suggest new slogans that you’d like to see on P-2006 shirts, and if you’re after a niche gift for someone who reads the site or will get the joke (or even a treat for yourself) look no further. Better yet, there’s free shipping if you use to the promotional code FREESHIP.

Sparkie and I went to see Borat, or rather “Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”. The first chuckle was before the film even started, seeing its named stretched out along the entire screen on the BBFC plate. The film has been so overhyped during the last 2 months that by its actual release my expectations had faded away to almost nothing. However, the critical acclaim it has received is unparalleled for a comedy. It is, I am pleased to say, utterly fantastic and it would be a disservice to oneself not to see it. I have not seen an entire audience erupt in such laughter for some time, and there is something in there for everyone. It is frequently outrageous, particularly in its rife anti-Semitism which can only be stomached knowing Sacha Baron Cohen is himself a strict Jew. I will attempt a review soon, although it will be the first I have written for a pure comedy.

You may have heard a story flying around the net that he stole the character from a chap named Mahir Cagri to whom Borat bears an uncanny resemblance. However, having read a debunking investigation it sounds like the claim is bogus as Borat is really the evolution of another pre-Ali G character, circa 1994.

Because They Arrr!

Pirates seem to be everywhere in my life at the moment. Having just battled the ghostly remains of a ship’s slaughtered crew in Oblivion and taken away a well-earned enchanted cutlass as a reward, I am off to see (finally) the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel with several Merrill Lynchers this evening. This round’s extraneous new “Dead Man’s Chest” subtitle is as needless as the last one; it is to everyone simply “Pirates Two”. I wonder how the experience will differ given that this time I expect to thoroughly enjoy myself whereas last time I fully wanted to hate it. To be fair, I expect this to be little more than a fun romp with Johnny Depp’s fantastic Captain Jack Sparrow, but when you love a character getting to spend a little time in their company is reward enough in itself.

French director Luc Besson, creator of now classic films like Léon and The Fifth Element, has been noticably absent for some time. Well, he’s still been active in a production capacity, being behind a host of B-movie action flicks, but he hasn’t directed anything since critics ripped to shreds The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, the biopic for which he insisted upon Milla Jovovich as the lead. Although she was perfect for the psychadelic ride of The Fifth Element, here the complexity of the role seemed to defeat her, compounded by poor script that fails to develop her character sufficiently.

In the last few weeks you may have seen stark posters for Angel-A. It marks the director’s long-awaited return and from the gorgeous cinematography he certainly seems to enjoy being behind the camera once more. The revealed plot, “a man and a woman meet in Paris…”, one can only imagine is deceptively simple. However, it allows for some thoughtful musing in its dialogue and a truly beautiful view of Paris, captured in black and white, which shows his genuine love for the city. Out on the 29th, I cannot wait to see this.

Optimus Crime

You may be aware that a film is being made based on a little-known 70’s cartoon called “Transformers”. It followed, I am told, the misadventures of a group of metamorphosing or “transforming” vehicles who could take on a humanoid appearance at will. You may also be aware that the film is, unfortunately, being directed by Michael Bay. I do not count myself amongst the franchise’s legion of fans but there are, I hear, rather a lot of them. With the recent leakage of a photo of Bay’s reinterpretation of Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots and the franchise’s most recognisable figure, a veritable call-to-arms was sounded. Creative license, after all, only goes so far.

Bay explained that it was a matter of physics and scale. He wanted 50-foot tall robots without parts magically disappearing in the transformation process. It would sound like a commendable goal if it weren’t for the fact that Bay’s films are regularly so riddled with holes and inconsistencies that they begin to resemble a machine gun victim rather than cinematic brilliance. He then proceeded to have the image torn down from every site displaying it (hence it is not featured here) because he felt the best experience for viewers would be to see the creations for the first time on the screen. It’s hard to fault him there — no actually bothers to see a crap film in the first place if they are forewarned.

Meanwhile Valve have been busily working away on the next episode of Half-Life 2, which, they have just announced, will contain another little game called Team Fortress 2. The sequel has been in progress since the late 90’s and fans had all but given up on it ever seeing the light of day. The end result is unrecognisable, looking more like a Pixar creation with its cartoony characters and stylised cell shading. Particularly impressive in the trailer is to note that when the Heavy starts firing, even the muzzle flash is cell shaded. Even if you’re not into videogames it’s still worth taking a look just to see the creative possibilities that still exist in the industry. At the same time they have been showing off their new portal technology which at first seems remarkably reminiscent of Prey, until you realise that these are player-created. They apparently bought up another company working on this and offered the team a job reproducing it within the Source engine.

Finally, and perhaps somewhere in between these two stories, rumour has it that Tim Burton may be involved in a project to bring Grim Fandango to the big screen. Its combination of zany visuals and dark humour make it my favourite adventure game, and are exactly the reasons it is perfect material for Burton who will probably use it is as another vehicle for the stop-motion animation he loves (indeed it would make little sense to attempt it live-action). Though it’s still far off, I would love to see this become a reality.

Superman Returns In Style

SupermanFor the most part I agree with Scott Kurtz’s “review”. You leave the cinema truly believing that it’s possible for a person to fly. Again. The first action piece as Superman rescues a plane hurtling to the ground remains the film’s highlight, despite the larger scale of the finale. A welcome return it certainly is, and the effort etched on his face makes it a very powerful cinematic moment. As this Multiplex comic shows, however, discussing the film’s faults becomes somewhat problematic without divulging major spoilers. As such, I shall refrain from detailed analysis. Suffice to say that they are setting up for a trilogy and, as is so often the case, the quality of the first film depends largely on the outcome of its successors. If the next film is great, this has done its job well.

Brandon Routh steps seamlessly into the Reeves’ large red boots. As Superman the continuation is perfect, a real credit to the young actor who must have spent many a night soaking up his predecessor’s performance. As Clark he takes a subtler approach, playing him as the slightly clumsy perennial nice guy but without the slapstick upon which Reeve’s performance bordered. Lois is essentially a new character, much better suited to the modern audience. Finally, Spacey’s hotly debated performance lies somewhere in between. He has morpher Lex Luthor from Gene Hackman’s eccentric villain to a darker, more bitter character. My dad wasn’t impressed by the trailer but loved the result. I am still undecided.

One’s approach to the film largely dictates one’s feelings. It is not the action extravaganza that many might reasonably have expected. Romantic subplots are par for the course when it comes to superhero movies as it offers the audience a way to relate to an otherwise inhuman character. However this is a rare occassion when the romance could be said to be the plot, with the action of lesser importance.

The Lake House

Last minute arrangements allowed me to see Toby in Croydon for a few hours today. He aided me in disposing of my old Xbox, trading it in with a stack of games for two shiny new ones, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. As videogame titles become inexplicably longer and illogically complicated, it seems that no game is truly “next gen” unless it is known by an acronym. “GRAW“, therefore, was practically a guaranteed success.

Opposite me on the train to meet Irina for dinner in London were a French couple. They were comprised of a man who looked like a young Jean Reno and a woman who looked like a slightly older Natalie Portman. It was sort of akin to seeing Léon, had it been a romantic comedy instead of a film about a ruthless assassin training a young girl under his protection. Well, okay, not that similar.

The Lake HouseKirsten and I saw The Lake House this evening. I hope to write a review as it would be my first for a pretty straightforward mainstream chick flick. The quirky time crossing premise is a good basis for bringing something fresh and new into the basic long-distance relationship mix — it doesn’t get much longer than living 2 years apart, after all. Yet in my eyes it suffered from two major flaws, one forgivable and one not. Firstly, no effort is made to explain the time-bending letterbox and to do so would be both unnecessary and unhelpful. However the results do not always make sense, particularly when an effort is made to change events. Such things are forgivable if ones considers the time aspect a non-central background element in the larger romance.

The fatal flaw was that through poor, or at least overconfident and self-congratulatory, direction the film’s pivotal revelatory “twist” was made painfully obvious to me about 15mins in. I should stress that Kirsten disagrees and did not discover it until much later into the film (when I believe the filmmakers actually intended it). Perhaps it was due to having seen the Spanish Lovers of the Arctic Circle, which does not share plot but merely vibe in its two lovers separated by forces beyon their control, with an eventual meeting that has a tragic result. Whatever the reason, forearmed with this knowledge as I was, many scenes lost their impact as their outcome was clearly rendered predetermined or irrelevant. This was unfortunate in a film that was almost involving enough to make me forget that Keanu Reeves was trying to act.


Thursday night a few of the trainees held a Pool tournament which, technically I won. I’m happy to let Rob take a deserved moral victory however as a) it was a technicality, he fouled on potting the black; and b) my second game was absolutely shocking. I had forgotten the degree to which my pool playing reflects that of my opponent. It is bizarre to see how when playing someone with a modicum of talent I can pull off some pretty impressive shots, while when playing someone lacking any ability whatsoever, perhaps because my heart is not really in the game, I can barely shoot straight.

The weekend was quieter so I finally had a chance to start unpacking everything which, clothes aside, has remained in boxes all week. Kirsten coming over to spend Friday and Sunday nights with us. On our third attempt we finally managed to finish watching Shopgirl. Based on a novella (a wonderfully indefinite term for something longer than a short story but briefer than a novel, generally accepted as around 20,000-40,000 words) by Steve Martin, it chronicles the relationships between the titular shopgirl, Clare Danes, and the two men with whom she becomes romantically attached. Many will find its slow pacing off-putting, though it is pensive and beautifully shot, with a similarly bittersweet vibe to that of Lost in Translation.

However it suffers from a thoroughly unnecessary voice-over that adds nothing to the proceedings at all. Modern film students scoff at the rudimentary voice-over as being indicative of poor screenwriting. Despite their pretentions, they are largely right, for the audience should be able to infer these thoughts and feelings from the visual cues and dialogue. Thus it now only achieves a purpose where it does something new, being quirky or at least inventive, as in The Opposite of Sex or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Here it was simply a distracting filler, compensating for the fact that modern audiences detest silences. They seem to find it incredibly uncomfortable which is, at the very least, sad, considering it was one of the aforementioned Lost in Translation’s real strengths.

Yuppie Mephistopheles

The closest pub to the office, The Melton Mowbray (endearing itself to me with the name alone), proudly declares itself a “World Cup Free Zone”. At opposite extremes this may mean they merely do not show the world cup on plasma screens of varying sizes themselves or that one can be beaten to death with a bar stool for merely mentioning it. I would suggest the happy middle ground would be ejection upon enunciating “England” with more than the prescribed two syllables that our proud country’s title demands.

The summer students, being a young and internationally varied bunch, take a somewhat different stance. So it was in yesterday’s game that Niki found herself supporting the wrong side. The fact she is Swedish may go some way to excusing her unfortunate misalignment, and in light of the draw it would be somewhat unfair to treat her dissidence as treason.

A workshop to prepare us for a group presentation we give to several partners at the end of the three weeks proved remarkably useful. I find few experiences quite so hellish as being video recorded and then forced to sit and watch it being replayed to me. Nevertheless Diane who led the seminar was able to provide some useful advice which will definitely improve my performance. She also asked whether I have had elocution lessons. It amused me, anyway.

In the early evening Kirsten and I saw Thank You For Smoking. A full review will hopefully arrive shortly, but for now suffice to say it’s the funniest satire of the year so far, if somewhat vacuous when considered as a whole, aside from its general message about freedom of choice. As a lawyer, I thoroughly enjoyed its stance on the art of argument, “That’s the beauty of argument, if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.”

I hope those of you who went to Christ’s May Ball last night enjoyed themselves, as do those heading off to Peterhouse tonight. It was disappointing to relinquish my cheap ticket through having worked on the Downing Ball, but at least I suppose it shows that I took on the role solely for the satisfaction of a job well done. Yes, that must be it.

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"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2023 Priyan Meewella

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