Category: Film Review

Movies & Books

Something to consider:

Never judge a book by its movie.
– J.W. Egan

solePeter, who is an avid reader of Dean Koontz’s novels reckons that the movies made based on Koontz’s books have not done his stories justice, like Stephen King’s.  Dean Koontz’s still needs his own Shawshank Redemption or even the Green Mile which are excellent movie adaptations of the King’s books.

I think the Harry Potter movies were a credit to the books. I think it was because J.K. Rawling ensured that she was in consultation throughout the making of the film.

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Gone With The Wind was a novel by Margaret Mitchell.  This won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1937.  The book was subsequently made into a movie which became iconic starring Clark Gable and Vivienne Leigh.  The film is one of the longest films ever made lasting an interesting 3hours and 58minutes.

The Giant Mechanical Man Movie

Last night Jean & I chatted about what movie to watch  on TV, normally we watch stuff on Netflix.  As we have been watching a steady diet of action, crime horror, thriller movies. Jean suggested a romantic movie. Normally I guess men would not opt for watching these movies by choice, in order to not become in touch with their feminine side 😉

Anyway, I said OK and let’s have a look at the choices. I scrolled through the titles on offer. I came across one I thought sounded vaguely sci fi I like 😉

It was titled ‘The Giant Mechanical Man‘, it is directed by Lee Kirk. The synopsis sounded interesting so we watched the film. I must say that I enjoyed this off-beat & charming movie. This indie movie excellently conveyed loneliness at not being understood, feeling awkward socially and a bewilderment with today’s society. There is fine acting by all the main cast.

Spoiler alert!

The movie is about a man & a woman both well-educated, single & in their 30s, who though not knowing each other, live near each other.  Whilst not exactly mis-fits, they both still don’t know what they want out of life and find it too hard to conform to what is expected of them by their families and some friends. Janice(Jenna Fischer) is a shy woman, who is still trying to get to grips and navigate her way through adult life, trying to cope with jobs, relationships etc.

Tim(Chris Messina) is devoted to being a street artist.
giantmechanicalman3_zpsb53969ca

Janice Meets her future Man

Janice Meets her Future Man

He is a good listener!

He is a good listener!

Each day he becomes a silver-painted and silver suited giant( he wears stilts), android business man, complete with a silver brief case. When he finds a spot/pitch in a street, he performs his living statue, mechanical man mime act. He makes enough to pay the bills. His live in girlfriend does not understand him and tires of his lack of apparent ambition and so breaks up with him.

Janice loses her latest temporary job and the temp agency who find her work, lets her go because of complaints about her attendance and lack of interest. She is evicted from her apartment and forced to move in with her overbearing and interfering younger sister Jill (Malin Akerman) and her husband Brian (Rich Sommer). Janice is pressured by sister & brother-in-law to date Doug (Topher Grace), who is an egotistical self-help guru (probably socially inept and who tries to cover up by blustering) .

While out walking alone a few time, Janice sees this giant mechanical man street artist performing and is intrigued, she sees him as fellow non-conformist and kindred spirit. Janice tries to talk to the street artist, but part of his act is to remain silent and act oblivious to people.

Both Janice and & Tim search for a job (Tim finds he needs to supplement his street performing income). Both find low paying menial jobs at the local zoo (Janice eventually realises her potential in the job and gets promoted). They meet & chat while working and Tim recognises Janice as the lady who caught his eye while he was performing. They become good friends and realise they have much in common. Janice & Tim begin to date and become lovers. Tim has not yet told her that he is a street performer. However Tim becomes upset when as his alter ego, performing one night, he sees Janice walking with the persistent pompous Doug, who has his arm around her (much to her annoyance). She finally dumps Doug. Tim stops contacting her, she becomes sad and while out walking sees the street artist performing and walks up to him and desperately needing someone to talk to, she tells of her feelings for Tim, to the silent artist. He then looks down at her and smiles, she recognises the artist is Tim and the rest is history…living happily ever after 🙂

Where PDAF Fears to Tread

Poverty is a widespread problem in the Philippines; 22 per cent of the population live way, way, way below under the breadline. And yet is not given the priority it needed.
The corrupt and greedy have got thier noses in the pork trough while the poor have scraps to live on
This must change with the increasing revelations about the Pork Barrel PDAF scandal.

Money is there but not distributed fairly as we have learnt from the Janet & Jeane Napoles scandal. We have also learnt that they spend monies into non-priority projects like that Luneta Flagpole costing several millions of pesos.

Until community leaders, senators, congressmen and the president of the Philippines think of the people first rather than themselves and their status, there is no way out from this worsening condition of indigence.


The film delivers what it meant to do in such a big way. It does not patronise poverty but rather shows a clear indictment of how living under the breadline is all about. There are no tears, no sadness but of stoicism, laughter and acceptance which made the film/situation more heartbreaking.

50 Shades of Nay (No)?!!!

Anyone of these hunks can be Christian Grey!!!

Christian Grey

Matt Bomer

Hayden Christensen

Hayden Christensen

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Alexander Skarsgård

Alexander Skarsgård

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But the Author has spoken.

150817086 Charlie-Hunnam-2031851

Tweeted by E.L.  James; who will the stars be of the movie of her best-selling novel 50 Shades of Grey

Dakota Johnson , the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson won the role of the innocent newly graduate Anastasia Steel who was seduced by the gorgeous but enigmatic Christian Grey.

The of Christian Grey was what everyone was agog to find out.   Well the wait is finally over.   Charlie Hunnam will play Christian Grey.  Charlie is still almost unknown worldwide, which might be good for the role.   Will he be truly Christian rather than Matt Bomer being Christian or Hayden Christensen being Christian.  we will see.

The news was announced by author E.L.  James on Twitter this afternoon. “I am delighted to let you know that the lovely Dakota Johnson has agreed to be our Anastasia in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey,” she wrote.

Another tweet soon followed: “The gorgeous and talented Charlie Hunnam will be Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Fifty Shades of Grey, dubbed “mummy porn”,  features sadomasochistic sex and became the fastest-selling paperback of all time.

Many were disappointed that Bomer is not playing Christian Grey more so because the photo attached to the article announcing who will play Christian Grey was rather fat and hirsute. Bomer seems closer to the description of Grey in the novels.  Ryan Gosling would have been good too, he is  a great actor.

Hmm another monumental miscast like Tom Cruise chosen as the  6 foot plus hulk  Jack Reacher in the movie of the block busting novels 😉

But having had a bit of a google for more of Charlie’s photo I came to the conclusion that he can easily be Christian just  be friends with a good shaver!!!

Looking forward to 2014! Yey 🙂

Number Stations Still Going For The Spy Audience

Number stationBeing interested in the great game as all things espionage is known, I read about this particular method for sending coded secret signals to spies in the field.  Those clandestine operatives that are hidden among us tune in at certain times to certain shortwave radio frequencies.  A sequence of spoken numbers is broadcast automatically to the target agents who could be anywhere in the known world.  The agents  copy and transcribe the numbers using deciphering methods  such as ‘one time pads’ to decode the numbers into a meaningful message. One time pads are unbreakable if used correctly and as the name stated,  the encryption is used only once then disposed of.

Number Stations Still Going For The Spy Audience

Those radio amateurs (HAMS)  that ‘surf’  shortwave channels are fascinated by these mysterious emanations from the ether.  Anyone with a decent shortwave receiver should be able to pick them up. Thought to be a relic  of  the Cold War, this means of covert communication is still a valued tool to contact secret agents anywhere!

We recently watched a good action thriller movie called ‘The Numbers Station’ (2013) starring excellent actors John Cusack and Liam Cunningham with Malin Akerman.
I was pleasantly surprised as the movie managed to make the unglamourous and probably monotonous subject to non-spy enthusiasts quite exciting 😉
numbers station -banner

Where the transmitting stations are located is a mystery,  and of course spy agencies deny that they exist.  A British number station is rumoured to be based in Cyprus?
The best known of the number stations was the “Lincolnshire Poacher”, which is thought to have been run by the British Secret Intelligence Service.

Below are two YouTube items

Star Trek – Into Darkness

Just got home from the cinema.  We went to watch Star trek Into Darkness.

CumberbatchWhat can I say?

Having watched the film, I was so taken by Benedict Cumberbatch performance.  He made a good villain, it was so good he stole the show from the original lead stars.  Whenever he was on screen you will watch him more than anyone.  His screen presence was so powerful that I may become one of his cumberbitches!  LOL

He’s never look more magnetic.  His hair, his eyes!!!

This new film is part of the reboot movie from J J Abrams starring Chris Pine as Shatner’s Captain Kirk.

It is different from the former Star Trek movie francise.  It was felt the scenario was getting tired and been played out.

To make it not to be out of the StarTrek story line altogether, it was rebooted, meaning the stories are now based on a parrallel time line with certain differences.

Spoiler Alert……  Please do not read if you are going to see the film.

images (4) The film started with Captain James Kirk and Dr Leonard McCoy running for dear life. As part of the Enterprise mission, they were in that planet observing and studying “ancient” civilisation and investigating why a volcano was blowing up. Unfortunately the “natives” saw them and went after them. The cinematography at this point was fantastic. It gave us a view into what it might be liked if a planet is under a red sun, ergo, the process of photosynthesis may be absent thus there is no manufacture of chlorophyll that give the plants its green colouring. Anyway Kirk and Mccoy were running amidst beautifully coloured red giant trees and also from white as chalk half-decaying human like beings.

The story is very good, fast paced, make sure not to drink too much so not to go to the loo and miss any of the scenes.:)

There were some very human humour touches which pertain to the blossoming love story of Uhura and Spock.

I feel that the relationship between Uhura and Spock sacrificed a bit of the close friendship between Kirk and Spock.

I think the beauty or rather the relevance of Spock is his logical approach that reason alone matters.  Ergo giving him a girlfriend decry his logic.

Another potential permanent character was introduced which was played by Alice Eve, daughter of Trevor Eve and Sharon Maughan. She was Carol Marcus, a physicist with an expertise in weaponry. I must say at first she was just a bimbette. She did not look the part of a scientist at all as shown when they were looking at the new torpedo aboard the Enterprise, Alice, bless her was so out of place, she was just a very pretty blank canvas, someone like Rachel McAdams would have been a perfet Carol Markus, feisty and spirited. oh well.

In previous stories of Star Trek, Carol Markus had a relationship with Captain Kirk and they had a son. Probably this is what it would lead to in later films of Stark Trek.

Zachary Quinto was brilliant as young Spock. His characterisation was very faithful to Leonard Nimoy’s Spock.

By the way Leonard Nimoy had a cameo in the film.  Goodnes, he was old. Young Spock was asking the help of the older Spock on how to best deal/defeat Khan.  I can’t help thinking when Spock said that he can’t really say, I wanted young Spock to say “bugger off then” LOL

The rest of the mainstay characters were also brilliant. It was like watching old friends. They made the roles believable based on the original ones.

Karl Urban played the younger Dr McCoy with mannerisms and attitude eerily like those of the late Deforrest Kelly’s rendition.

Chekov was cute and Russian.

Scottie played by Simon Peg was manic but you would want him to be always on your side. He is a genius engineer.

It was sad when Bruce Greenwood’s Admiral Christopher Pike died. I felt like crying with Kirk. Admiral Pike was the one who recruited Kirk into the academy.

Chris Pine was a handsome Kirk and played the role well enough but he doesn’t have the charisma of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk. Shatner’s has good humour and yet a strong character.

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Sexing Up Princess Merida

This is rather disconcerting to read in the news that Disney, the promoter of everything for family viewing has now allegedly decided to sexify a perfectly charming and attractive and cute character, Princess Merida.

Leave Princess Merida alone.  She is fine as she is.  Funky, feisty and yet still feminine.  A perfect ideal for young girls to emulate.

 

JXXX

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Brenda Chapman joins growing anger over ‘sexier’ version of character for Disney Princesses range

Yahoo UK Movies NewsBy Ben Arnold | Yahoo UK Movies News – 8 hours ago

The director of ‘Brave’ has slated Disney for its redesign of Princess Merida from the film.

A new version of the character, with a slimmer waist and what has been described as a ‘Victoria’s Secret’ hairstyle, emerged last week after Merida was crowned as the 11th ‘Disney Princess’.

Before and After… Merida from Brave gets a makeover (Copyright: Disney)

But the film’s director Brenda Chapman has now joined the growing anger among parents at the decision to give her a makeover, which also includes the removal of the character’s bow and arrow.

“I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida,” Chapman said in a letter to her local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal.

“When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible!

“Merida was created to break that mould – to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”

The Scottish princess, voiced by Kelly Macdonald in the film, is now among the ‘Disney Princess’ franchise, the merchandising banner which includes various princesses from the Disney films, including the likes of Snow White, Cinderalla, Aurora and more recently Mulan and Rapunzel, as featured in ‘Tangled’.

A petition launched last week on Change.org addressed to Disney boss Robert A. Iger and a host of other Disney executives, called for them to ‘keep Merida brave’.

So far it has been endorsed by over 107,000 supporters.

“The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired,” writes the petition’s creator A Might Girl.

“Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value – to be recognised as true princesses – they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.”

Disney has responded to the criticism, saying: “Merida exemplifies what it means to be a Disney Princess through being brave, passionate, and confident and she remains the same strong and determined Merida from the movie whose inner qualities have inspired mums and daughters around the world.”

How The Movie Apocalypse Now inspired Filipino surfers

 My Lovely wife and I visited one popular surfing location Pagudpagud in Ilocas Norte, Northern Luzon in the Philippines. Here is an interesting news item  By Kate McGeown BBC News, Philippines.

Surfer off the Philippines coast

When a scene from Apocalypse Now was shot on an obscure beach in the Philippines in the late 70s, little did the film-makers know they were giving birth to the country’s surfing culture.

“Charlie don’t surf,” says the reckless and irrepressible Colonel Kilgore, in one of the most memorable lines of the Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now.

Charlie is the American soldiers’ derogatory nickname for their enemy, the Viet Cong, and the surf-mad colonel is trying to persuade his troops to ride the waves, despite the bombs falling all around them.

Apocalypse Now, released in 1979, depicts the madness and mayhem of conflict, and is widely regarded as one of the most powerful war films ever made.

But it also has another legacy – something that the director, Francis Ford Coppola, could not possibly have intended.

Apocalypse Now was not actually filmed in Vietnam, but in the little fishing town of Baler in the northern Philippines.

As the cameras rolled, local Filipinos like Edwin Nomoro watched from the sidelines.

Nomoro was 10 at the time, and he came down to the beach every day to see it transformed into a battle scene, complete with an entirely fake Vietnamese village and helicopters swooping overhead.

 

Filming Apocalypse Now at Baler beach in the PhilippinesThe surfing scene from Apocalypse Now was filmed at Baler Beach


But what excited him most was the sight of the actors surfing – something he’d never seen before.

“When the filming finished, some of the crew left their surfboards behind, and my friend and I picked up the boards and taught ourselves how to surf,” he says. “We’ve been surfing ever since.”

At first, Nomoro and his friends found it difficult because there was no-one around to teach them.

“But we studied it, and learned, and now – no-one can explain what it feels like. Only a surfer knows the feeling,” he says, smiling.

Once they got the hang of it, the boys started teaching others, and as word spread, tourists began coming to the little town to learn to ride the waves at Charlie’s Point, as it became known.

Edwin NomoroEdwin Nomoro saw the film being made: “We’ve been surfing ever since”

Nomoro was able to turn his passion into a way of making a living, and more than 30 years on, he still earns money from the industry he helped to create.

“I have several rooms to rent. I also have some surfboards for hire,” he says. “It’s really improved my life. It helps me feed my family.”

Map showing Baler

Baler is now very different from the sleepy fishing town where Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando stayed decades ago.

Several big hotels line the seafront, and more are being constructed. According to the local tourism office, at least 50,000 people came here in 2012.

Most visitors are Filipinos – Manila residents who just want a weekend of surfing – but an increasing number are foreigners.

One of the earliest arrivals was Donny Cope, who turned up in Baler in 1997 with “a surfboard, a backpack and a sense of adventure”.

He has stayed at the beach on and off ever since, and now runs a small guesthouse.

“Last year we had surfers from the Czech Republic, Switzerland and a bunch from France,” he says.


Apocalypse Now Movie

Robert Duvall

Released in 1979, starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall (pictured), Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam war film follows Captain Willard (Sheen) deep into the Vietnamese jungle in search of the renegade Colonel Kurtz (Brando).

Now acclaimed as a classic, the film’s production was famously beset by a number of disasters, including a tropical storm which destroyed the original set.

“We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane,” reflected Coppola in Hearts of Darkness, the acclaimed documentary about the film.

Baler’s success as a surfing centre has rippled out to other parts of the Philippines, such as Surigao, La Union and Pagudpud.

“Baler is the birthplace of Philippine surfing,” says Mac Ritual, a local tour guide.

“Other places saw a lot of good things here in Baler, and they also wanted to be popular because of surfing.”

Ritual often takes his tour groups to see the main sites featured in Apocalypse Now.

The most famous is a headland where a major attack on the Viet Cong was staged. It was nicknamed Charlie’s Point in the film, and now even local Filipinos use this name.

Going there now, it’s quite difficult to recognise anything from the film.

The fake Vietnamese village was blown up at the time, and the trees which were burnt down as part of a simulated napalm attack have all regrown.

But there’s no chance of the beach nearby going back to the way it once was.

All the way along it, people are surfing – beginners screaming excitedly as the waves crash over them, and seasoned professionals perfecting their technique on the breakers.

This town has come a long way since the days of Apocalypse Now.

Perhaps the best way to sum up its changing fortunes is a little shop on the seafront.

Its name? Charlie Does.

Douglas Adams – Author


Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
– Douglas Adams
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The answer to the great question of Life, the Universe and Everything is … forty two.
– Douglas Adams
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.
– Douglas Adams

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Douglas Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was I think a brilliant & creative writer, he is known as a humourist and dramatist.  He is most famous for his so-called ‘trilogy’ of five books!  The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy  (HHGTTG).

HHGTTG started as a popular  BBC radio series in 1987, Adams then expanded the story of hapless human Arthur Dent’s bizarre  adventures in space and time with a motley crew of aliens and  a paranoid android,  into series of best-selling books, over 15 million copies so far have been sold. The HHGTTG was made into a TV series in 1981, stage shows, DC (Superman) Comics ran the trilogy and a movie was finally made in 2005, after Adams’s death. The movie did reasonably well and in DVD format,  however we wonder what Douglas would have thought of the movie adaptation from his creation.

HHGTTG cleverly surreal and played around with philosophy, the meaning of life, Big Bang, End of the Universe, aliens, space travel, rock stars , real astronomical stars and of course hitch hiking!

Please read the books or listen to the recorded original radio series of which I think were the best iterations of the stories.

The wikipedia entry expands on HHGTTG

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

Adams also appeared in cult comedy Monty Pythons Flying Circus and he was a script writer and Editor for the BBC classic sci fi  series Dr Who.

After HHGTTG, Adams created Dirk Gently an eccentric ‘Oxbridge’ educated  private detective, who ran the ‘Holistic Detective Agency’, Dirk believed that all things and events were interconnected somehow making a complete bigger ‘picture’ (Holism), and tracing these interconnections would help Dirk  solve any case he was presented with.

The Dirk Gently character from the books were made into a BBC radio and TV series, sadly the BBC recently cut funding for a third TV series, just when it was getting popular 🙁

Adams died suddenly aged 49 when his fame was growing, he will be sadly missed for his original and unique thinking.

HHGTTG has built up a cult following.

As a tribute to Douglas, on 25 May each year since his passing,  fans around the universe proudly carry a towel in his honour. They also take pictures of themselves with their towels and post it everywhere on the net. Some fans gather to celebrate the event. Towel day is an act of love, and love is always better when you’re not a poor individual sitting on your own, alone. On this day, you’re also welcome to drink six pints of bitter and eat some peanuts (at lunchtime if possible). (you need to read the book to understand this!)

BUT WHY A TOWEL?

Serious hitchhikers on long travels must carry a towel

Let’s quote here The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy?

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is clearly a man to be reckoned with”.

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

New Movie Looper

My Beautiful wife and I went to our local cinema to watch a well received new sci fi and thriller movie called ‘Looper’
Starring Bruce Willis Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt
The story revolves around banned time travel in 2072, but criminal Mafia type use it to to get rid of unwanted people. The target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits to kill. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is one of the hired guns, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self(Willis) for him to terminate. There is good acting from the lead actors, but it is 8 year old Pierce Gagnon who steals the acting by portraying a vulnerable scared child then becoming scary himself with anger that can destroy.
We recommend the movie as a good see 4 stars out of 5!