Wednesday, 31 December 2008

[NSFW] Dan's top ten desktops of 2008

The second part of my yearly desktop charts. These are my personal ten favourite desktops of the year. They're not necessarily what I consider the best desktops in any respect, but they all appeal to me for one reason or another, be it aesthetically or simply because I have a thing for the girl herself.

Also, a list like this is entirely subjective and therefore liquid, so if you were to ask me my top ten tomorrow, many of them might be different. But this is my list as of now.

1. Jennifer Garner, 16th March

2. Hilary Duff, 2nd December

3. Avril Lavigne, 12th June

4. Elisha Cuthbert, 30th April

5. Olivia Wilde, 27th January

6. Sophie Marceau, 11th September

7. Keeley Hazell, 10th June

8. Natalie Portman, 20th August

9. Missy Peregrym, 19th May

10. Hilary Swank, 10th March

Weekend cinema preview

The Reader
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Block, Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Lena Olin
Director: Stephen Daldry
In post-WW2 Germany, a teenager has am affair with an older woman. She disappears and eight years later, the now law student find her on trial for war crimes. Heavyweight-looking drama that screams quality, has garnered much critical praise and a Golden Globe-nominated performance from Kate Winslet.
IMDb rating: 8.1
My prediction: 4/5

Che: Part One
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Julia Ormond
Director: Steven Soderbergh
First part of Soderbergh's Che Guevara biopic focuses on the Cuban revolution. Hard to see how this could fail. Great lead, compelling subject, critical praise and good public reception.
IMDb rating: 7.9
My prediction: 4/5

The Spirit
Starring: Jaime King, Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson
Director: Frank Miller
A dead cop is resurrected as The Spirit, dedicated to fighting evil in Central City. His nemesis is The Octopus (Jackson), who kills anyone who sees his face. Based on the comic book series this looks like a cheesily entertaining film, sort of sub-Sin City in style, however the reviews have been poor and it looks like the public agree with them. However it must be said that Eva Mendes looks amazing and that can carry me a long way.
IMDb rating: 5.5
My prediction: 3/5

The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants 2
Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Rachel Nichols, Rachel Ticotin, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Blythe Danner, Kyle MacLachlan
Director: Sanaa Hamri
No idea what the plot is as nobody has been arsed to write one over at IMDb, but the whole thing looks vile. Possibly the only example of a trailer in which a character recommends going to see a different film instead.
IMDb rating: 6.2
My prediction: 2/5

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Moron of the day - Sarah in Paris

Just reading an article about the Celebrity Big Brother House on the Daily Mail website. Not much different about the house from BB9, but it does appear that they've dispensed with any kind of pool this time.

Anyway, that's not why I'm posting. I'm posting to highlight one particular moron who posted this comment on the article:

"What a pure waste of money - redecorating the BB house twice a year, how much goes down the drain? Plain stupid waste. I hope they only purchase from GB so that the money is staying in the British economy, but suspect the Chinese are doing quite nicely out of these idiots. Bet none of it is ecologic either. And the blessed program is a drain on society too. Glad I know where the OFF button is!

Sarah, Paris, France"

So let me get this right, Sarah. You're moaning about the possibility Channel 4 are spending money that isn't staying in the British economy. Fair enough, that's tenable. But you're in PARIS love, PARIS! You're hardly doing your bit for the British economy over there, are you?

Then there's Michael Terence Clayson, near Haverfordwest:

"Watching paint dry,is certainly a more entertaining and worth-while experience."

HAHAHA, you're killing me! 'Watching paint dry' - you're so witty, Michael! Now, I can understand that people might not like the programme, but seriously now, in what world is watching paint dry more entertaining or worthwhile? Michael, I would like to invite you to spend an hour every day for the next week actually watching paint drying, then come back to me and see if you hold the same opinion.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Daily Danielle

1. There's a whole slew of Danielle Lloyd photos over at the HBWHOF blog. Scroll down past all the hockey stuff to view.

2. She's today's Daily Star cover-girl. Nice to see her back in her rightful place after they had Nicola McLean on the cover virtually every day of I'm A Celebrity... Anyway, there's a gorgeous photo of Dani inside, part of this feature.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Cinemagoers, let this be a warning!

A guy in Philadelphia shoots someone for talking in a cinema, then sits down and carries on watching the film...

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Danielle Lloyd and models from her agency


1. Danielle Lloyd is on the cover of the Saturday Sport today and has a double-page spread inside. Nothing new, just old, recycled photos and a fairly inane Q&A, but hey, some Dani is better than no Dani. Kelly Bell, who has the best boobs on earth, is also featured and there's a Michelle Marsh centrefold. Whatever happened to her?

2. Just bought 16 60-watt light bulbs from the One-Stop for 88p. Terribly environmentally unfriendly, but in my defence they are for a rarely used light and will probably last me 16 years. That said, I really hope I'm not living in the same house in 16 years, but at least I know that if the worst comes to the worst, I've got that tricky wall socket light bulb problem covered.

3. I previewed the Brit-horror film Mum & Dad earlier in the week. It opened in cinemas yesterday, but I've noticed that it's also available on Sky Box Office too. Supposed to be going to the cinema to see it tomorrow, but I might just watch it round Steve's instead. Save money, travelling etc.

4. Decorators arrived at the flat of the unfeasibly hot Russian blonde this morning. I felt a bit sad for them. 2 days after christmas and you have to go and decorate someone's flat. That's got to suck.

5. There's a girl on my street who looks like Anne Hathaway.

Burnham talks internet regulation

The Telegraph has an interesting interview with Culture Secretary Andy Burnham today in which he raises the thorny issue of internet regulation. In summary, he wants to work with the Obama administration in the US to draw up standards for English-language websites and compel ISPs to provide child-safe services. His plans may possibly include cinema-style site certification.

Being a social libertarian and someone who works with legal adult content, my initial instinct was to oppose these plans outright, but on reflection I think they deserve consideration.

First-off, it should be stressed that nothing may come of this. It's clearly on the government's radar, but at some distance. I can't imagine that trying to reach a consensus with the Obama administration is going to be easy, not least because they will have bigger fish to fry for some time yet, but also because Obama favours self-regulation of the internet and clearly he wouldn't want to alienate a sphere that was instrumental in his election, especially when he'll need to leverage the net for his re-election campaign.

However, this doesn't preclude the British government from taking unilateral action. I think that their greatest chance of success would be in creating a framework for child-safe internet services. I'm actually quite supportive of the idea of a walled-garden internet that kids can freely roam in and I believe it would be commercially viable for ISPs to offer such a service. It also makes more sense than trying to regulate content across all sites because the majority of content is created, published and hosted outside the UK, so such regulation would be ineffectual.

I think it would have to be based on a certification system, where sites carrying a certificate would make the child-safe feed. Of course, this does raise the question of who would decide which sites receive a certificate and who would police the system, but it's not an insurmountable task. However, I strongly believe it needs to be a voluntary, opt-in system, i.e. users should have to choose to opt-in to the walled garden, not opt-out of it. The net as it is should remain the default position.

It's encouraging that Burnham isn't talking about the Australian and Chinese approach of mass internet censorship. While he does say that certain content shouldn't be allowed on the internet full-stop (presumably, material like the 'extreme pornography' the possession of which was recently banned) I think there is a pragmatic awareness that adults should be allowed to make their own choices about what they view. I'm all for giving people information to help them make those choices and if a system of classification were introduced that would require me to carry an '18' certificate on some of my sites then I wouldn't have a problem with that, provided it was solely for informing visitors and not the basis of a censorship system.

Woolworths and recession on the high street

Today marks the last day of my local Woolworths. Like most people I have memories of the place, such as being accused of stealing sweets when I was about 10 (I was innocent!) and buying my first 7" singles, but I can't remember the last time I bought anything there, which has ultimately been the downfall of the store.

It's interesting to see the recession in action. The retailers that are going under are the one's who were already struggling. Woolworths had been in the shit for years, as had MFI. While Zavvi's demise was expediated by that of Woolworths, it was in trouble before that anyway, caught between the rock and the hard place of cheaper online retailers and expensive high street rents it was only a matter of time.

The recession is taking out the 'low hanging fruit' of the retail sector, but we're probably still in early days, so it's going to be interesting to see who else goes. Will the likes of HMV, Waterstones and WH Smith, all of which have had their problems, fall by the wayside? HMV and Waterstones probably have some strength in the fact that in many places they don't have competition. There are fewer and fewer independent book and record retailers these days. WH Smith seem a likelier victim. Their smaller stores don't have a selection that much bigger than Tesco and often they're a lot more expensive, especially in DVDs, CDs and stationery. I think we could see smaller branches closing and the company focusing on its larger stores and lucrative railway station outlets.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Not just a pretty face...

Danielle Lloyd proved she's not just a pretty face when she took a six-year old disabled girl on a supermarket sweep...

"Last night mum Tracie Warr, 36, of Cheshunt, Herts, said: “I’d like to thank Asda and Dani, who spent time with Mya at our house and at the store. Dani was absolutely fantastic with Mya. They got on really well."

Read the full story at the Daily Star

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Vote Dani!

If you would like to give me a christmas present, please click here and vote for Danielle Lloyd as The Sun's sexiest Sun-ta!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Weekend cinema preview

It may be christmas eve, but let it not be said that I am remiss in my commitment to my blogging commitments!

Mum & Dad
Starring: Perry Benson, Dido Miles, Olga Fedori, Ainsley Howard, Toby Alexander
Director: Steven Sheil
A Polish immigrant is imprisoned by a couple murderous couple in their surburban home near Heathrow Airport. Good trailer makes me think this might be an interesting, claustrophobic horror. Early reviews suggest it's an economic, effective and darkly comic chiller.
IMDb rating: 5.7 (caution: small sample)
My prediction: 4/5

Yes Man
Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, Terence Stamp, Molly Sims
Director: Peyton Reed
A guy enlists in a self-help programme which encourages him to say 'Yes' to everything. Appears to be something of a return to form for Jim Carrey, back in comedy mode. Funny trailer, but if you don't already like Carrey it you certainly won't like this.
IMDb rating: 7.3
My prediction: 4/5

Far North
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Michelle Krusiec, Sean Bean
Director: Asif Kapadia
An outcast and her adopted daughter struggle to survive in the Arctic tundra and find their lives turned upside down upon the arrival of a soldier. Not high on IMDb, but it looks intriguing from the trailer and reviews would seem to suggest it's a minimalist work, with tension building throughout to an impressive climax.
IMDb rating: 6.3
My prediction: 3/5

Bedtime Stories
Starring: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Russell Brand, Richard Griffiths, Lucy Lawless, Courteney Cox, Jonathan Pryce, Carmen Electra
Director: Adam Shankman
A handyman's life changes when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to come true. Reasonable-looking family film, judging by the trailer, though the kids themselves might be annoying. Really no idea if it's any good or not, but I like the cast.
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 3/5

Gardens In Autumn
Starring: Severin Blanchet, Michel Piccoli, Lily Lavina
Director: Otar Iosseliani
A french government minister loses his job and learns to live a simpler life. A light, amusing trailer for this comedy that doesn't appear to be doing very well on IMDb. I'll be slightly more generous.
IMDb rating: 5.9
My prediction: 3/5

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Bryan Brown
Director: Baz Luhrmann
An aristcratic Englishwoman (Kidman, no less) inherits a ranch in pre-WW2 Australia and hires a stock-man (Jackman) to drive 2,000 cattle to Darwin, where the experience the bombing of the town by the Japanese. Or something like that. Critically mauled, but apparently well-received by audiences when you consider that IMDb rating. The film is apparently very Austrlian cliche-heavy, which really puts me off because I find all that stuff intensely irritating. The trailer is dismal.
IMDb rating: 7.3
My prediction: 2/5

Starring: Aamir Khan, Asin, Jiah Khan, Mohit Ahlawat
Director: A.R. Murigadoss
As is typical with Bollywood releases, it's hard to find out much about them in advance, but apparently this is inspired by Christopher Nolan's Memento. Trailer doesn't give much away as to whether or not it's any good, but I've never really been a fan of Bollywood.
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 2/5

Merry christmas and a Dani new year...

Monday, 22 December 2008

Today's movie recommendations - corrected

Whoops! I accidentally posted tomorrow's recommendations this morning. Here are the correct recommendations for today.

1755-1930 - Finding Neverland (BBC Two)

2100-2255 - Pan's Labyrinth (Film4)
2200-0045 - Love Actually (ITV2)
2300-0145 - Love Actually (ITV2+1)
2305-0120 - Monster's Ball (More4)

1500-1640 - Casablanca (TCM)
1800-2000 - Rocky Balboa (Sky Screen 2)
1840-2045 - Mission: Impossible III (Sky Action/Thriller)
2000-2200 - The Last King Of Scotland (Sky Drama)
2100-2320 - The Sum Of All Fears (Watch)
2200-2355 - Pan's Labyrinth (Film4+1)
2200-2355 - Full Metal Jacket (Sky Indie)
2200-0020 - The Sum Of All Fears (Watch+1)
2215-0015 - 3:10 To Yuma (Sky Drama)
2320-0215 - Casino (Sky Modern Greats)
0005-0220 - Monster's Ball (More4+1)
0030-0220 - Death Proof (Sky Action/Thriller)

The Pingwings, RIP Oliver Postgate

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Dog rescue

Santiago, Chile. A dog gets run over and another dog tries to save it. It's not known if the dog that was run over survived, but being the sap I am, this clip did bring a tear to the eye...

Friday, 19 December 2008

RIP Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry
Actress, producer and voice of the starship Enterprise
23rd February 1932 - 18th December 2008

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Weekend cinema preview

Slim pickings this week, just one film I would say is worth going to see, in the unlikely event you can find it at a cinema in your area...

Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr Hunter S. Thompson
Director: Alex Gibney
Pretty much does what it says on the tin, Looks pretty good, judging by the trailer and director Gibney has a good track record in documentaries, picking up an Oscar last year for Taxi To The Dark Side and also directing Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room.
IMDb rating: 8.0
My prediction: 4/5

Stone of Destiny
Starring: Charlie Cox, Kate Mara, Billy Boyd, Robert Carlyle, Peter Mullan, Brenda Fricker
Director: Charles Martin Smith
True story of four Scottish students who, in 1951 stole the Stone of Scone - a symbol of Scottish pride - back from England. Looks OK, but it's hard to tell from the poor trailer below. The only one I could find was seemingly recorded off TV with a camcorder and has hideous Spanish subtitles.
IMDb rating: 7.5 (small sample)
My rating: 3/5

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Green
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
A teenage girl falls in love with a vampire. Based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer. Surprisingly for a film seemingly targetted at teenage girls, I like the trailer. Very polished and something I would watch at some point on Sky, but not at the cinema. On the other hand, the IMDb rating is pretty low, which perhaps reflects disappointment among hard-to-please fans of the novel. Tellingly, the film only garners a 5.1 among males, but 7.5 among females. I'll pitch my expectations somewhere inbetween.
IMDb rating: 6.0
My prediction: 3/5

The Tale of Despereaux
Voiced by: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciaran Hinds, Robbie Coltrane, Frances Conroy, Frank Langella, Christopher Lloyd, Sigourney Weaver
Directors: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen
Animation about a big-eared mouse. Great voice cast, but I'm find it hard to summon any interest at all for the film.
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 2/5

La Boheme
Starring: Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon, Nicole Cabbell
Director: Robert Dornhelm
Dull looking adaptation of the opera. I'm struggling for anything else to say about it...
IMDb rating: 5.8
My prediction: 2/5

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Today's eclectic selection of MP3 purchases

This is what happens if you're looking through the entire Now! That's What I Call Music tracklisting while browsing PlayDigital...

Alice Cooper - Poison
All Saints - Rock Steady
The Bangles - Eternal Flame
Belinda Carlisle - Leave A Light On
Blur - Tender
Deee-Lite - Groove Is In The Heart
Doves - Pounding
Duffy - Rain On Your Parade
Garbage - I Think I'm Paranoid
Garbage - Milk
Garbage - Only Happy When It Rains
Garbage - Push It
Garbage - Stupid Girl
Gomez - Bring It On
Gomez - Get Myself Arrested
Hot Chip - Over And Over
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
Julian Lennon - Saltwater
Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
Kate Nash - Foundations
Martika - Toy Soldiers
Moby - Feeling So Real
Moby - G-d Moving Over The Face Of The Waters
Neneh Cherry - Kisses On The Wind
Noah And The Whale - 5 Years Time
Paul Abdul - Straight Up
Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder - Together In Electric Dreams
Rachel Stevens - Sweet Dreams My LA Ex
Ray Parker Jr - Ghostbusters
Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2U
Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
Snow Patrol - Run
Sophie B. Hawkins - Right Beside You
T'Pau - China In Your Hand
T.A.T.U. - All The Things She Said
The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
U2 - Beautiful Day
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles

Sunday, 14 December 2008

RIP Kathy Staff

Kathy Staff
12th July 1928 - 14th December 2008

The X Factor

Alexandra wins, huzzah!

So in the end, the British public did the right thing and voted Alexandra Burke the winner of this year's X Factor. Fame and fortune beckon, even if her success has been a little overshadowed by the voting fiasco on Strictly Come Dancing (which, incidentally, was an issue I emailed the BBC about when John Sargeant left. Should have listened to me!).

The performances:

Eoghan Quigg - didn't deserve to get this far, swiftly despatched into third place. That said, on the night his first two performances were OK. His christmas song - Wizzard! - was OK, mainly because Simon eschewed the backing vocals except for some lightly warbling children and he got back some honesty as a performer. Wasn't great, but refreshing. The duet with Boyzone worked quite well too, though he was perhaps flattered by their appearance. The reprisal of the High School Musical number was dire though because it again highlighted that he's an inherently weak singer whose voices has to be drowned out by a production Phil Spector would be proud of - 3/5, 3/5, 1/5

JLS - things got off to a poor start. Last Christmas may be a favourite among women of a certain age, but their take was godawful cheesy. Didn't get any better with their Westlife duet, which was a mess. However, in their defence they were landed with that at the last minute after Rihanna pulled out - they were supposed to perform Umbrella. Can't remember what their third song was, but I noted it was 3/5, so that speaks for itself. I actually thought their rendition of Hallelujah was really good. It was understated, as Leonard Cohen performs it and the harmonies worked well. Easily their best performance of the series - 2/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5

Alexandra Burke - pretty much wiped the floor throughout. The christmas song - again, I've forgotten what it was - was terrific, as was the duest with Beyonce. If there had been any doubts about Alexandra winning they were erased at this point. The sheer enormity of Beyonce as a star alone must have gained Alexandra tens of thousands of extra votes. I'm not saying she won it for her, but she did turn it into a certainty. The third song was very good, if not exceptional, but she had set herself a high bar, so that's OK. Hallelujah was spectacular though. OK, so it's not supposed to be sung as a power ballad, but she absolutely made it work. Her final reprisal was tough, losing some bars to tears, but she recovered admirably and with great passion - 5/5, 5/5, 4/5, 5/5, 5/5

Beyonce also deserves an extra mention for her solo performance. Never seen her do rock before and it took some getting used to, but she's fantastic performer (she certainly made one guy in the audience's night) and it won me over, in no small part helped by her awesome black latex leggings. Hot hot HOT! Also helps that unlike Britney Spears, she actually sang and, when interviewed, doesn't come across like a mindless automaton. A consummate professional and quite a coup to get her to the UK just for this.

What now for the three finalists. Simon Cowell has said that with the current economic climate, only the winner could expect to persue a career as a professional singer. There's no doubt Alexandra will be a major star, but I do also think there's room for JLS. Not my thing, but there is a niche for group of that kind. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), I don't see any future for Eoghan. Seems like a poor investment from a commercial perspective. Simon Cowell will be well pleased Alexandra won.

Some video highlights:

Alexandra performs Hallelujah (and seals it)...

Beyonce and Alexandra duet...

Beyonce performs If I Were A Boy...

Friday, 12 December 2008

RIP Bettie Page

Bettie Page
The definitive pin-up model
22nd April 1923 - 11th December 2008

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Listen to this

It's not often that I mention music on this blog - X Factor aside, naturally - but I just want to give a plug to my cousin, Marv, for his christmas 'single'.

The recording is a bit pants and the first 45 seconds is nonsense, but when the track kicks in it really is rather catchy!

Listen to 'Merry Christmas Everybody' at

Elsewhere in the musical world, I see there's a campaign underway to make Rick Astley the Christmas no.1. As big a fan of The X Factor as I am, it is a bit dull for the winner to have the no.1 every year, so I'm all for RickRolling the chart...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Weekend cinema preview

North Face
Starring: Benno Furmann, Florian Lukas, Johanna Wokalek, Ulrich Tukur
Director: Philipp Stolzl
Based on true events in 1936, when two German climbers attemped to climb the north face of the Eiger as the world (and Nazi Germany) watch on, only to find themselves victims of the weather and injury. The Eiger Sanction meets Touching The Void, it would seem. Stars Johanna Wokalek, who was so hot in The Baader-Meinhof Complex.
IMDb rating: 7.0
My prediction: 4/5

The Day The Earth Stood Still
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Robert Knepper
Director: Scott Derrickson
Remake/reimagining of the 'classic' 1951 sci-fi. The advance word that's tricking through about this film is pretty poor, but I have to say I love the trailer and sci-fi is my favourite genre, so I'll probably like it more than others.
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 3/5

Starring: Kevin Kline, Cesar Ramos, Alicia Bachleda, Zack Ward
Director: Marco Kreuzpaintner
A Mexican teenager attempts to save his younger sister from sex trafficers, with the help of a Texas cop. Looks OK and has good reviews, but the trailer's a bit indifferent.
IMDb rating: 7.6
My prediction: 4/5

Dean Spanley
Starring: Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Peter O'Toole, Art Malik
Director: Toa Fraser
Not entirely sure what this is about, but it has something to do with a father-son relationship and the reincarnation of a dog's soul into Sam Meill. Or something. Anyway, it looks reasonably interesting from the trailer, but not something I'm in a rush to see. That said, I may revise this view in the light of reviews.
IMDb rating: 8.3 (small sample)
My prediction: 3/5

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sienna Guillory, Eliza Bennett, Paul Bettany, Andy Serkis, Lesley Sharp, Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren
Director: Iain Softley
A girl and her father with the ability to bring characters and objects from storybooks into the real world must try and stop a freed villain from destroying the world. Family movie that wouldn't normally catch my eye, but it looks like there's a film-stealing performance from Any Serkis in there.
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 3/5

The Man From London
Starring: Miroslave Krobot, Tilda Swinton, Agi Szirtes, Janos Derzsi
Director: Bela Tarr
A railwayman finds a suitcase full of money after he witnesses a man drowning. Beyond that, I'm as clueless as you are. The trailer gives nothing away. New film from director Bela Tarr, know for his very long takes, such as in his earlier film, The Werckmeister Harmonies. I'm intrigued by this, but not convinced I'll actually find it very interesting.
IMDb rating: 7.1
My prediction: 3/5

Lemon Tree
Starring: Hiam Abbass, Doron Tavary, Ali Suliman, Rona Lipaz-Michael
Director: Eran Riklis
A Palestinian widow fights to save her lemon tree orchard from destruction when the Israeli defence minister moves in next door and it's deemed a security risk. Based on a true story.
IMDb rating: 7.3
My prediction: 3/5

Love And Honour
Starring: Takuya Kimura, Rei Dan, Mitsuguro Bando
Director: Yoji Yamada
A lowly samurai and food-taster is blinded and forced to defend his honour after this wife is seduced by his feudal lord. Decent IMDb rating and I like samurai films, but this looks a little dull to me.
IMDb rating: 7.7
My prediction: 3/5

Next week - Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr Hunter S. Thompson, La Boheme, Stone Of Destiny, The Tale Of Despereaux and Twilight.

Monday, 8 December 2008

w00t! It's 1989!

Given the demise of Woolworths, I though I would step back in time to 1989, the year I started buying music, most of it at the time from Woolworths. Here are the first three singles I bought, ever!

1. Sinitta - Right Back Where We Started From (oh the shame!)

2. Martika - Toy Soldiers

3. Alice Cooper - Poison

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Loyal Address

Yesterday was the State Opening of Parliament, aka The Queen's Speech. After the speech (and lunch) the Commons begins several days of debate on it, preceded by the 'Loyal Address', which is basically a motion thanking the Queen for her speech. The honour of proposing the motion is given to a long-standing MP who delivers their own non-partisan speech to the House, usually laced with humour and reflecting on their own past and constituency.

Traditionally, the motion is then seconded by a junior MP, often a recent addition to the Commons, who also delivers their own speech in much the same vein as the Proposer. However, much to my surprise (and hers), my local MP Liz Blackman was chosen to second the motion this year.

Here's an extract from her speech specifically covering this constituency. The full thing can be read here.

"In 1997, I found my way here, as the proud Member of Parliament for Erewash after 25 years in the classroom. “So, what exactly is the difference, Miss?” asked one of my pupils. The only comment from my dad, who does not hold politicians in high regard, was, “Well, at least you’ve done a proper job first.”

My constituency is pronounced “Erreywash”, not “Airwash”, and certainly not “Earwash”, and it is found between Nottingham and Derby. Most of its people live in the market towns of Long Eaton, to the south, and Ilkeston to the north. Sandiacre sits between the two and has a sizeable population. There are also a number of villages stretching out towards Derby. I wonder how many Members were brought up watching “Citizen Smith” from the Tooting Popular Front. I am glad to say that Robert Lindsay is a local lad.

Coal, lace and heavy engineering are at the heart of Erewash’s industrial heritage. At one time, Stanton Ironworks employed 12,500 people. One of its products are manhole covers, which can be found all over the world, even on my walk into the Commons. In fact, last week, in preparation for this speech, I was crouching down in the middle of Horseferry road, forensically examining one of those engineering masterpieces, when a certain Leo Beckett, the husband of the Minister for Housing, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett), suddenly appeared. I did not explain my strange behaviour, and he was certainly far too polite to ask what I was doing. However, I did catch him looking at me rather oddly as we walked along. He was clearly thinking, “What is this woman on?”

The old industries in my constituency have now all gone, but niche engineering and light manufacturing are holding their own. Members’ three-piece suites—perhaps from John Lewis; perhaps not—could well have been made in Erewash. The area has seen other changes, too. There have been vast improvements in health and education, and there is a vibrant voluntary sector. There is a newly formed credit union to protect people from doorstep lenders, and more people are in work. One thing that we need, however, and which we do not have, is a station at Ilkeston. With that in mind, I am currently stalking my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. I remind him about the need for the station every time our paths cross—which, funnily enough, I find happening less and less often.

Given the industrial background of my constituency, Members will not be surprised to learn that the people there are pretty blunt. In 2005, the perma-tanned leader of a political party called Veritas put himself up as a candidate for the constituency in the general election. A local radio station conducted a vox pop, seeking people’s reactions. The broadcast ended rather abruptly when a woman said, “Kilroy-Silk, my MP? Kilroy-Silk, my ar—”. At that precise moment, the producer pressed the “silent” button, so the “s” never arrived, but the woman’s sentiments certainly did.

It takes a lot to impress the youngsters in my constituency, too. “Have you met the Queen?” asked one small child. “Yes,” I replied. “Ooh! Have you met the Prime Minister?” “Yes.” “Wow! Have you met David Beckham?” “No.” “Oh.” I dropped right down in his estimation after that, and never recovered.

The best thing about the people I represent is that they give me advice, and plenty of it, without charge, wherever I go. They tell me when they are happy, and they tell me when they are not. They are good, hard-working, decent people with a strong sense of community."

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

That Star Trek trailer, now with added Nimoy!

Exactly the same as the previous trailer, but Eric Bana has been swapped out at the end for Leonard Nimoy.

Weekend cinema preview

The Children
Starring: Eva Birthistle, Jeremy Sheffield, Hannah Tointon
Director: Tom Shankland
A family's christmas getaway turns into a nightmare when their children turn into homicidal maniacs. British horror that, to my surprise, looks quite good. Think Child's Play with real children, rather than a doll. Seems such an obvious idea that I wonder why it hasn't been done already. Or maybe it as. I don't know everything, dammit!
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 4/5

The Lost City
Starring: Andy Garcia, Ines Sastre, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Steven Bauer
Director: Andy Garcia
A wealthy Havana nightclub owner is caught up in the Cuban revolution. Interesting-looking drama, apparently a labour of love for it's actor-director star. Intriguing cast. Much delayed (and limited) UK release for a film which first appeared in a cinema over three years ago.
IMDb rating: 6.7
My prediction: 3/5

Transporter 3
Starring: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Robert Knepper, Jeroen Krabbe
Director: Olivier Megaton
Does the plot even matter, really? If you liked the first two Transporter films the odds are you'll probably like this one too. If you didn't like them, you without doubt won't like this either. I expect it to be ridiculous, yet mindlessly entertaining. What's with the director's dumbass surname? Mr Megaton, both you and your mother know your real surname is Fontana.
IMdb rating: 6.8
My prediction: 3/5

Trouble The Water
Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin
A New Orleans couple chart on video camera their experiences living through and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Looks good.
IMDb rating: 7.2
My prediction: 3/5

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Saul Rubinek, Kate del Castillo, Aidan Gould, Jude Ciccolella
Director: Erick Zonca
An alcoholic woman kidnaps a young boy to try and extort a ransom. Thriller no doubt enhanced by the presence of Tilda Swinton in the lead role, but looks like a slog at 144 minutes Can be seen on Sky Box Office as well as in cinemas.
IMDb rating: 7.0
My prediction: 3/5

Starring: Francois Cluzet, Guillaume Canet, Mari Denarnaud
Director: Jacque Maillot
French crime drama centered on two brothers, one a criminal, one a cop. The trailer looks good, nice and gritty, but that IMDb rating is a concern.
IMDb rating: 6.3
My prediction: 3/5

The Girl In The Park
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Kate Bosworth, Alessandro Nivola, Keri Russell, Elias Koteas
Director: David Auburn
16 years after the disapperance of her 3-year old daughter, her long-traumatized mother encounters a troubled young woman and begins to persuade herself she is her daughter. Weaver is always woth a look and Bosworth looks gorgeous, but it's not one to make an effort to see at the cinema.
IMDB rating: 6.5
My prediction: 3/5

Lakeview Terrace
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington
Director: Neil LaBute
An LAPD officer terrorizes his neighbours to try and force them out of their new home. Brings to mind films like Pacific Heights, without necessarily offering anything new. Another strange choice for its director, who previously did the ill advised Wicker Man remake whereas ten years ago he was bringing us the likes of In The Company Of Men and Your Friends & Neighbours. Here's hoping the paychecks take him back to that kind of work. Still, Samuel L. Jackson is always watchable.
IMDb rating: 6.4
My prediction: 3/5

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rachael Blake, Steve Evets
Faced with the imminent death of his best friend, a self-destructive man reflects on the childhood summer that ultimately led to his current situation. Second release of teh week for Vertigo Films (the other being The Children). Looks like a fairly interesting drama and Carlyle picked up a Best Actor award for it at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
IMDb rating: 7.8 (based on a very small sample)
My prediction: 3/5

Patti Smith: Dream Of Life
Starring: Patti Smith
Director: Steven Sebring
Documentary portrait of the singer. On the face of it, not someone who interest me at all, but I often find that good documentaries can make people more interesting that you expect.
IMDb rating: 7.0
My prediction: 3/5

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Voiced by: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, Stacy Ferguson
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tim McGrath
Madagascar sequel. The animals attempt to leave the island, only to crash land in the African wilderness. Not really my thing, but then it's not supposed to be. That said, there's something about animated penguins that always makes me laugh.
IMDb rating: 7.3
My prediction: 3/5

The Express
Starring: Rob brown, Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton, Saul Rubinek
Director: Gary Fleder
Biopic of American footballer Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, whatever that is. Film holds no interest for me whatsoever, seeing as a I have no interest in American football and there's nothing overly compelling in the trailer.
IMDb rating: 6.5
My prediction: 2/5

The Secret Life Of Bees
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Paul Bettany
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
A young girl hanuted by the memory of her late mother and her carer run away to a South Carolina town where they are taken in by two sisters and she finds solace in beekeeping. Sounds utterly godawful, but the trailer isn't too bad, largely due to what looks like a great performance from Dakota Fanning.
IMDb rating: 6.7
My prediction: 2/5

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Battlestar Galactica propaganda posters

Incidentally, Sci-Fi have greenlit the first season of BSG prequel series Caprica. Huzzah!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Weekend cinema preview

What Just Happened?
Starring: Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart, Catherine Keener, Moon Bloodgood, Sean Penn, Michael Wincott, Robin Wright Penn
Director: Barry Levinson
A Hollywood producer struggles to get his film made amidst problems with cast, crew and corporate executives. That rare things these days, a Robert De Niro movie that actually looks pretty good.
IMDb rating: 7.9
My prediction: 4/5

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gattlin Griffith, John malkovich, Colm Feore
Director: Clint Eastwood
It's 1928, Los Angeles, and a young woman son goes missing. The police find a boy who they insist is her son, but she becomes convinced that he isn't. Based on a true story. Unusually for an Angelina Jolie film, she isn't what's attracting me to this. What is attracting me is director Clint Eastwood, who's reputation as a director just goes from strength to strength. Not a film I would otherwise choose to see, but word is that Jolie delivers an Oscar-worthy performance and that IMDb rating is hard to argue against.
IMDb rating: 8.1
My prediction: 4/5

Four Christmases
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau, Mary Steenburgen, Dwight Yoakam, Kristin Chenoweth, Colleen Camp
Director: Seth Gordon
A newlywed couple try to visit all four of their divorced parents on Christmas Day. Couple be crap, but the trailer did give me a few laughs and it's a quality cast.
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 3/5

Le Silence De Lorna / The Silence Of Lorna
Starring: Arta Dobroshi, Jeremie Renier, Alban Ukaj
Directors: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
A Belgian immigrant tries to sell herself as a bride to a Russian looking to immigrate into Belgium and obtain a divorce from her drug addicted husband. The IMDb rating suggests this might be an interesting enough drama.
IMDb rating: 7.3
My prediction: 3/5

Starring: Michael Caine, Demi Moore, Nathaniel Parker, Joss Ackland, Natalie Dormer
Director: Michael Radford
A caretaker and a company executive conspire to steal from their employer, a diamond company. Fairly standard-looking crime drama raised by the presence of Michael Caine. Demi Moore with an english accent seems curious casting. I note Natalie Dormer, so hot as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors is also on the cast and it's director by the guy who made 1984. All seems a bit inconsequential though.
IMDb rating: 6.8
My prediction: 3/5

Bihisht Faqat Baroi Murdagon / To Get To Heaven First You Have To Die
Starring: Khurshed Golibekov, Dinara Drukova, Maruf Pulodzoda
Director: Jamshed Usmonov
An impotent young man tries to overcome his problem by travelling to a big city and hooking up with a mafia thug. That could quite possibly be complete bollocks but I can't find out much about this film, not even a trailer.
IMDb rating: 6.8
My prediction: 3/5

Ano Una / Year Of The Nail
Starring: Eireann Harper, Diego Catano
Director: Jonas Cuaron
A love story between a Mexican teenager and an older American woman who meet one summer in Mexico. Unusual, slideshow-style film, that runs to just 78 minutes but looks like it could become tedious much sooner. Still, it is at least something fairly original. Director is the son of Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien, City Of Men).
IMDb rating: 6.1
My prediction: 2/5

Watched last night

Grand Designs Abroad: The Modernist Villa, Malaga - fantastic looking house in a stunning location, but I would have had some way of getting between the elements without having to go outside - 4/5

The Department Store: Peters, Huddersfield - beautifully observed - 5/5

E! News - thought I would give it a go, being a bit of a celebrity gossip whore, but its barely watchable. Each segment lasts about 20 seconds and has the depth of a baking tray. On the plus side, lots of attractive women :D - 3/5

Grand Designs Abroad: Maseria Impisi, Puglia - 4/5

Movie recommendations for Wednesday, 26th November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

1735-1955 - Babel (Sky Indie)
1855-2045 - Stranger Than Fiction (Sky Screen 2)
2145-2335 - Superbad (Sky Premiere)
2200-2345 - The Usual Suspects (Sky Modern Greats)
2245-0035 - Superbad (Sky Premiere+1)
2250-0010 - Borat! (Sky Screen 1)
0020-0205 - Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (Sky Indie)
0105-0245 - The Counterfeiters (Sky Screen 2)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Watched recently

Spooks: Episode 7.6 - 4/5

Flight Of The Conchords: The Actor - 4/5

The Counterfeiters - 1944 and the broke Nazi regime attempts to forge vast amounts of British and American currency, using Jewish prisoners, to try and fund the war effort and destabilise the allies' economies. Interesting drama looking at an often overlooked story from the war that explores the dilemma of the Jewish prisoners who assisted the Nazis in return for better conditions. Unlike its peers such as The Pianist, Downfall and Schindler's List, this is quite a shot film at around 95 minutes and verily zips through the story. It feels lighter than those other films, probably because of the pace, but it doesn't shy away from showing the horrors of the time when appropriate - 4/5

The Daily Show: 20th November - 4/5

Prison Break: Quiet Riot - Jodi Lynn O'Keefe as a schoolgirl? We're liking that! - 4/5

Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe - why have I never watched this before? Funny as fuck. Brooker may possibly be the funniest guy around at the moment - 4/5

My Name Is Earl: Pilot - giving this another go, thanks to nightly re-runs on E4 and inspired by seeing Jaime Pressly on Letterman earlier this year - 4/5

The Devil's Whore: Episode 1 - 4/5

My Name Is Earl: Quit Smoking - 4/5

Body Of Lies - a CIA operative in the middle east (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his boss back in the US (Russell Crowe) attempt to track down an Al Qaeda leader with the help of the head of Jordanian intelligence (Mark Strong). Typically confident film from Ridley Scott, borrowing largely in style from his earlier Black Hawk Down. Unfortunately, the story isn't overly compelling, but it is heightened by good performances from all the central performers, most notably Strong as the measured, intelligent Hani - 3/5

Dragons' Den: Peter Jones' Story - 4/5

Heroes: It's Coming - hopefully, it is. Episode didn't start out too well, but it got its act toegether and it was nice to see the Pinehearst and Primatech factions finally coalescing. The show needs discipline, the lack of which is demonstrated by how Kristen Bell is allowed to come and go from the cast as she pleases. The more of her the better, to be honest, but such flexibility on the part of the producers doesn't give much faith that they have a coherent vision for the characters - 4/5

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Goodbye To All That - LOL @ Cameron's bedtime story line - 4/5

Grey's Anatomy: Crash Into Me, Part 2 - Lexie is sweet... - 4/5

Lead Balloon: Panda - 4/5

Entourage: Play'n With Fire - 4/5

My Name Is Earl: Randy's Touchdown - 4/5

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - 4/5

The X Factor
So, farewell then Rachel. Despite improving greatly in the last couple of weeks, ultimately the public didn't take to her and, in truth, much if her singing was flat, despite her possessing undoubted vocal power. Take That's live performance was good, owed something to Coldplay.

Alexandra Burke - really rather good indeed. Effortless, in fact - 5/5

Ruth Lorenzo - looked good, gave a great performance, but can't survive much longer - 4/5

JLS - pretty poor performance that highlights only one of them can really sing. The judges have lost their heads over these guys and the public put them in their place. The sing-off was pretty good though, even if they did get cocky wih the lyrics - 2/5, 4/5

Rachel Hylton - average performance marred by the ridiculous acrobatics, storming sing-off - 4/5

Diana Vickers - as much as it pains me to say, I thought this was Diana's weakest performance so far. The backing vocals were way over the top - 3/5

Eoghan Quigg - hard to tell how good this was because his vocal limitations were drowned out by more OTT backing vocals, a huge choir and other diversions. Cheating, really - 2/5

After the initial performances we had the return of Same Difference. I still think Sarah's hot, in a vaguely psychopathic way, but the song was crap and the fact they were miming was profoundly lame and embarassing. Rhydian was Rhydian. 2/5 and 3/5 respectively.

Movie recommendations for Tuesday, 25th November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

0855-1050 - The War Of The Roses (Sky Modern Greats)
1235-1405 - Rushmore (Sky Indie)
1340-1600 - The Hunt For Red October (Sky Modern Greats)
1515-1700 - Lady In The Water (Sky Screen 2)
1800-1955 - The War Of The Roses (Sky Modern Greats)
1850-2050 - 3:10 To Yuma (Sky Screen 2)
2000-2150 - Superbad (Sky Premiere)
2100-2250 - Superbad (Sky Premiere+1)
2100-2335 - Superman Returns (Sky Screen 2)
2200-0020 - The Hunt For Red October (Sky Modern Greats)
0150-0350 - The Krays (Sky Screen 1)
0220-0420 - Midnight Express (Sky Modern Greats)

Unfortunately named shipping, no.1

Monday, 24 November 2008

Movie recommendations for Monday, 24th November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

2200-0005 - This Is England (Channel 4)

2300-0105 - This Is England (Channel 4+1)

1135-1310 - The Fountain (Sky Sci-Fi/Horror)
1200-1355 - The Poseidon Adventure (Sky Screen 1)
1305-1500 - Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Sky Screen 2)
1330-1520 - Breach (Sky Action/Thriller)
1335-1555 - All The President's Men (Sky Modern Greats)
1915-2050 - The Fountain (Sky Sci-Fi/Horror)
2100-2250 - Breach (Sky Action/Thriller)
2100-2255 - Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Sky Screen 2)
2145-2335 - Superbad (Sky Premiere)
2230-0030 - Bringing Out The Dead (Sky Drama)
2245-0035 - Superbad (Sky Premiere+1)
0000-0235 - Breaking The Waves (Sky Indie)
0035-0255 - Summer Of Sam (Sky Drama)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Movie recommendations for Sunday, 23rd November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

1625-1730 - Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (ITV1)
1905-2100 - Men In Black (Five)

2100-2240 - Under Siege (Film4)

0950-1130 - Rocky Balboa (Sky Action/Thriller)
1045-1215 - Notes On A Scandal (Sky Indie)
1230-1450 - Apollo 13 (Sky Modern Greats)
1245-1445 - Mission: Impossible III (Sky Screen 2)
1500-1740 - The Godfather Part 3 (Sky Modern Greats)
1635-1910 - Zodiac (Sky Action/Thriller)
1745-2055 - Titanic (Sky Screen 2)
1830-1950 - Borat! (Sky Modern Greats)
1915-2055 - Rocky Balboa (Sky Action/Thriller)
1915-2055 - The Italian Job (Sky Classics)
2000-2130 - Notes On A Scandal (Sky Indie)
2000-2150 - Superbad (Sky Premiere)
2000-2150 - The Illusionist (Sky Drama)
2000-2150 - Mission: Impossible (Sky Screen 1)
2100-2245 - Sunshine (Sky Sci-Fi/Horror)
2100-2250 - Superbad (Sky Premiere+1)
2200-2325 - London To Brighton (Sky Indie)
2200-2340 - Under Siege (Film4+1)
2200-2350 - The Devil Wears Prada (Sky Family)
2200-0030 - American Gangster (Sky Modern Greats)
2325-0125 - Mission: Impossible III (Sky Screen 2)
2330-0125 - American History X (Sky Indie)
0310-0450 - The Italian Job (Sky Classics)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Star Trek, bitch!

Movie recommendations for Saturday, 22nd November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

2230 - Spy Game (Channel 4)

2330 - Spy Game (Channel 4+1)
0005 - Alien: Resurrection (E4)
0105 - Alien: Resurrection (E4+1)

1120 - The X-Files (Sky Action/Thriller)
1600 - Groundhog Day (Sky Screen 1)
1850 - The X-Files (Sky Action/Thriller)
2000 - Superbad (Sky Premiere)
2000 - Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Sky Modern Greats)
2100 - Superbad (Sky Premiere+1)
2100 - Platoon (Sky Action/Thriller)
2120 - Minority Report (SciFi)
2200 - Kill Bill Vol.2 (Watch)
2200 - The Departed (Sky Drama)
2200 - Hannibal (Sky Modern Greats)
2200 - The Fugitive (Sky Screen 1)
2220 - Minority Report (SciFi+1)
2220 - Requiem For A Dream (Sky Indie)
2300 - Kill Bill Vol.2 (Watch+1)
2305 - American Gansgster (Sky Action/Thriller)
0230 - The Krays (Sky Modern Greats)
0240 - Requiem For A Dream (Sky Indie)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Rachel is the new Carol

Behold the new presenters of Countdown, Oxford mathematics graduate Rachel Riley and Jeff Stelling, presenter of Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday.

Hold on to your hat, Rachel, you're about to become famous...

Weekend cinema preview update

It appears that I managed to overlook the film Blindness from this week's cinema preview. I've now added it into the list, which can be viewed in full here.

Last week's X Factor

The public finally do the business and allow the judges to ditch Daniel. Huzzah!

The performances:

Daniel Evans - I actually enjoyed his opening number, but the sing-off was rudimentary - 4/5, 3/5

Alexandra Burke - delivers pretty much every week. Someone should give her a deal now because she's proven she's ready and will without doubt get a career out of this. In fact, it's likely that whoever wins the show, she'll be the most successful of the contestants in the long run - 4/5

JLS - I hate hate HATE medleys, so tacky, but they didn't screw up completely. The dancers' boots were far more interesting though - 3/5

Rachel Hylton - thought both her performances were good this week. Deserved to stay, but doesn't deserve to win - 4/5, 4/5

Eoghan Quigg - I don't care what or how he sings anymore, I hate his cherubic face and want him gone - 2/5

Diana Vickers - yay Diana! OK, admittedly her weakest performance, but you still cant't take your eyes off her. Well done to the public for sending her through to this week's show. Looked gorgeous - 4/5

Ruth Lorenzo - yup, that'll do, but she won't win - 4/5

Leona Lewis - OK, not a contestant, but f00k, what a performance! Taxi for Leon Jackson, cheers - 5/5

Tomorrow night, the theme is Take That. Hmm...

Watched recently

Lordy, I haven't posted this stuff in an age. Here goes...

Dragons' Den: Deborah Meaden's Story - naff taste, a regular affliction of the rich - 3/5

Grand Designs: The Violin Factory, Waterloo - very, very impressive conversion - 5/5

Apparitions: Episode 1.1 - new BBC drama about an exorcist priest. Quite gruesome at the end and a vaguely interesting premise, but too long. Would have worked better in 45 minutes - 3/5

The Daily Show: 12th November - 4/5

Grand Designs: Customised German Kit House, Surrey - an aestetically pleasing Huf Haus, but rather too much glass to make it comfortable (for me) to live in - 4/5

Entourage: Pie - Stellan Skarsgaard! Fuckin' A! - 4/5

The Daily Show: 13th November - 4/5

Fringe: The Curve - 4/5

TV's Naughtiest Blunders - 4/5

QI: Family - 4/5

Spooks: Episode 7.5 - 4/5

The Baader Meinhof Complex - film charting the story of German terrorist group the Red Army Faction, which carried out a series of robberies, bombings, kdnappings and other acts through the 1960s and 70s, ostensibly with the aim of overthrowing capitalism. Highly accomplished, fast-paced and absorbing thriller that absolutely justifies its lengthy running time. Great perfomances throughout too and Johann Wokalek is gorgeous - 5/5

Flight Of The Conchords: The Fans - 3/5

Breaking Bad: A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal - end of the first, strike-truncated season and on balanced, it's safe to say it's justified its renewal. Incidentally, on the subject of renewals, news from the US today that Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone have all been axed. I only got to see the first episode of Pushing Daisies, thanks to ITV's fuck up in the summer, but want to give it a go on DVD. I tried both the others for a few episodes, but truth is they did suck and deserved to go. Will someone please cast Natasha Henstridge in something good? - 4/5

Political Capital: 16th November - 4/5

Underbelly: The Black Princes - think The Sopranos, but based on true events and set in Melbourne and you have vague idea of what this show's about. It's not the same quality as The Sopranos, presumably down to a smaller budget, but it's enthralling nonetheless - 5/5

Prison Break: The Legend - looks like this is the last season of Prison Break, which is a shame, but the plotline is daft and, in retrospect, the show should have disappeared after the second season. That said, I'm still enjoying it, so what do I know - 4/5

Heroes: Villains - 3/5

Grand Designs: An Idiosynchratic Home, Dorset - 4/5

Charles At 60: The Passionate Prince - documentary film following Prince Charles around for a year as he does various good things for his charities. Moderately interesting insight into the prince from which he emerges unscathed - 3/5

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Allison From Palmdale - my love affair with Summer Glau continues. Her performance as a terminator is splendidly observed, just watch how she walks - 4/5

Lead Balloon: Gas - 4/5

Grey's Anatomy: Crash Into Me - 4/5

Entourage: Seth Green Day - 4/5

Steven Fry In America: Pacific - would have been better if it had run over a couple more weeks. Everything passed by too quickly - 3/5

The Daily Show: 17th November - 3/5

Fringe: In Which We Meet Mr Jones - my weekly spot-the-witness fix. Just keeps getting better and better - 4/5

John From Cincinnati: His Visit, Day One - cancelled by HBO at the end of its first 10-episode season, this 'surf noir' drama from Deadwood creator David Milch could possibly be the most original TV drama since Twin Peaks - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Modernists Sugar Cube, Sussex - 4/5

Grand Designs: The 19th Century Sandstone House, Edinburgh - 4/5

The Daily Show: 18th November - 3/5

America's Next Top Model: For Those About To Walk, We Salute You - fuck knows what that episode title's about. Anyway, Stacy-Ann's gone and that's fair enough, but Fatima didn't even take part in the shoot because of her Somali consulate appointment, so if I were Stacy-Ann, I would feel aggrieved. Since when did Somalia have consulates anyway? The country doesn't even have a functioning government! - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Curved House, Clapham - 4/5

The Department Store: Milner's, Leyburn - 3/5

Underbelly: The Sorcerer's Apprentice - 4/5

The Daily Show: 19th November - 4/5

Movie recommendations for Friday, 21st November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

1910 - Napoleon Dynamite (Film4)
2200 - Alien: Resurrection (E4)
2300 - Alien: Resurrection (E4+1)

1355 - Sicko (Sky Premiere)
1430 - The Kingdom (Sky Screen 2)
1455 - Sicko (Sky Premiere+1)
1855 - Breach (Sky Screen 2)
2010 - Napoleon Dynamite (Film4+1)
2100 - The Matrix (Sky1)
2100 - The Kingdom (Sky Screen 2)
2145 - Rushmore (Sky Indie)
2200 - Jackass Number Two (Sky Screen 1)
2315 - Kill Bill: Vol.2 (Watch)
0005 - Casino (Sky Modern Greats)
0015 - Kill Bill: Vol.2 (Watch+1)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Movie recommendations for Thursday, 20th November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

2230 - School Of Rock (E4)
2330 - School Of Rock (E4+1)

1405 - Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Sky Comedy)
1825 - Superman Returns (Sky Action/Thriller)
2000 - Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Sky Comedy)
2100 - The Matrix (Sky2)
2100 - X-Men (Sky Sci-Fi/Horror)
2200 - World Trade Center (Sky Drama)
2205 - The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover (Sky Indie)
0000 - Midnight Express (Sky Screen 1)
0015 - The Doors (Sky Drama)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Weekend cinema preview

Starring: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga, Maury Chaykin, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal, Sandra Oh
Director: Fernando Meirelles
A disease that causes almost instantaneous blindness spreads through a city, incapacitating 90% of the population. As the blind are hearded into quarantine, a doctor, apparently immune to the disease, pretends to be blind so as to stay with her husband. An intriguing premise, excellent leads and a quality director make this top of the list this week.
IMDb rating: 7.2
My prediction: 4/5

Body Of Lies
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong
Director: Ridley Scott
Two CIA agents and the head of Jordanian intelligence attempt to take out a islamist terrorist group. Typically muscular action-thriller from Ridley Scott, the kind of film he seems to be able to churn out effortlessly. Looks like part Spy Game (directed by his brother, Tony) and part Black Hawk Down.
IMDb rating: 7.6
My prediction: 4/5

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kelly Macdonald, Anjelica Huston
Director: Clark Gregg
A sex-addicted conman plays for his elderly mother's care fees by pretending to choke on food and elliciting the sympathy of those who 'save' him. Based on a novel by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. While it's clearly not in the same league as Fight Club, its progeny does mean it deserves some attention, as does the fact it stars Leslie Bibb's boyfriend, Sam Rockwell.
IMDb rating: 7.3
My prediction: 4/5

Waltz With Bashir
Voiced by: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai
A former Israeli soldier, plagued by a recurring nightmare and memory loss talks to old friends and comrades to try and piece together his experiences of the first Lebanon war in the early 1980s. Critically lauded and impressive-looking animation, my only real concern is that its politics and mine might not be on the same page.
IMDb rating: 8.1
My prediction: 4/5

Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez
Director: John Erick Dowdle
A TV news crew find themselves trapped in a quarantined apartment building when a virus outbreak turns its residents in bloodthirsty killers. Another addition to the recovered video camera footage genre that includes The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. Wasn't expecting much, but the trailer makes me think it might be a mindless little chiller and the presence of Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter is as good a reason as any to give it a go.
IMDb rating: 6.3
My prediction: 3/5

'Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris
Director: Raymond De Felitta
Documentary examining the life of the late, unheralded jazz vocalist Jackie Paris. Looks like an interesting story because he disappeared for decades and was thought to be dead, but as it turned out he wasn't. However jazz isn't my favourite style of music.
IMDb rating: 7.6
My prediction: 3/5

Conversations With My Gardener
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Jean-Pierre Darroussin
Director: Jean Becker
An artist from Paris returns to his childhood home and hires a gardener, a former schoolfriend. Couldn't find an english-subtitled trailer, so I don't really know what's going on, but it looks like an amiable enough light comedy-drama.
IMDb rating: 6.9
My prediction: 3/5

My Best Friend's Girl
Starring: Dane Cook, Kate Hudson, Alec Baldwin, Jason Biggs
Director: Howard Deutch
A guy hires his best friend to take out his ex-girlfriend on a crap date in an attempt to show her what she's missing out on. G-d, that sounded crap even as I typed it.
IMDb rating: 5.0
My prediction: 2/5

Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anil Kapoor, Zayed Khan
Director: Subhash Ghai
This week's Bollywood release, I haven't a clue what it's about. The trailer is hopeless.
IMDb rating: n/a
My prediction: 2/5

Movie recommendations for Wednesday, 19th November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

1330 - Sicko (Sky Premiere)
1430 - Sicko (Sky Premiere+1)
1600 - The Incredibles (Sky Screen 1)
2100 - Zodiac (Sky Screen 2)
2255 - Get Carter (TCM)
0210 - Disclosure (Sky Modern Greats)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Movie recommendations for Tuesday, 18th November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

2100 - Under Siege (Film4)
2300 - Hannibal (ITV2)
0000 - Hannibal (ITV2+1)

1330 - The Bourne Ultimatum (Sky Action/Thriller)
1345 - Sicko (Sky Premiere)
1445 - Sicko (Sky Premiere+1)
2100 - The Bourne Ultimatum (Sky Action/Thriller)
2200 - The Matrix (Sky2)
2200 - Under Siege (Film4+1)
2205 - Jackass: Number Two (Sky Comedy)
2225 - Casino (Sky Modern Greats)
0030 - The Departed (Sky Screen 2)
0110 - Robocop (Sky Sci-Fi/Horror)
0245 - Jackass: Number Two (Sky Comedy)

Monday, 17 November 2008

RIP Reg Varney

Reg Varney
11th July 1916 - 16th November 2008

All together now...

"It's a gay life on the buses, make sure you leave your bird at home..."

Movie recommendations for Monday, 17th November

4/5 and 5/5 rated films that I have seen, on UK TV channels today.

2100 - School Of Rock (E4)
2200 - School Of Rock (E4+1)

1345 - Sicko (Sky Premiere)
1445 - Sicko (Sky Premiere+1)
1750 - The Insider (Sky Screen 2)
2100 - 300 (Sky Action/Thriller)
2200 - The Matrix (Sky1)
2200 - Minority Report (SciFi)
2300 - Minority Report (SciFi+1)
2330 - Happiness (Sky Indie)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Movie recommendations for Sunday, 16th November

Trying something different with the format today. These are all the films on TV today to which I have given 4/5 or 5/5.

1630 - Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (ITV1)
2100 - Erin Brockovich (Five)
2245 - Fight Club (Channel 4)

1910 - Napoleon Dynamite (Film4)
2010 - Napoleon Dynamite (Film4+1)
2345 - Fight Club (Channel 4+1)

1200 - Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Sky Sci-Fi/Horror)
1350 - Fracture (Sky Action/Thriller)
1430 - Little Miss Sunshine (Sky Indie)
1500 - The Godfather (Sky Modern Greats)
1800 - Escape From Alcatraz (Sky Modern Greats)
1900 - Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Sky Sci-Fi/Horror)
2000 - Knocked Up (Sky Comedy)
2310 - Goodfellas (Sky Action/Thriller)
2355 - Little Miss Sunshine (Sky Indie)
0510 - Groundhog Day (Sky Modern Greats)

Friday, 14 November 2008

Movie recommendations for Saturday, 15th November

Liar Liar 5.40pm, ITV2
A fast-talking lawyer finds himself physically unable to lie for 24 hours due to his son's birthday wish. Generally amusing comedy which gives it's star plenty of opportunities to do his usual schtick, if that's what you're into.
Starring: Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Cary Elwes, Jennifer Tilly, Amanda Donohoe, Swoosie Kurtz, Krista Allen
Director: Tom Shadyac
IMDb rating: 6.6
My rating: 3/5

Mulholland Drive 8pm, Sky Indie
After a car accident, an amnesiac woman attempts to discover who she with the help of an aspiring young actress and becomes involved in a conspiracy. Beyond that, it's a bitch to explain this movie. It's David Lynch, so fantasy and reality merge and identities shift. Keep an open mind, watch it for someone and after it's finished talk about what it all means for hours.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Dan hedaya, Justin Theroux, Robert Forster, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George, Mark Pellegrino
Director: David Lynch
IMDb rating: 8.0
My rating: 5/5

Sunshine 11.15pm, Sky Screen 2
Following the failure of an earlier mission, a spacecraft is sent to launch a huge nuclear bomb into the dying sun. Tragically underappreciated sci-fi masterpiece from the director of Trainspotting. Truly amazing visuals and sound.
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rose Byrne, Benedict Wong, Chris Evans, Mark Strong
Director: Danny Boyle
IMDb rating: 7.3
My rating: 5/5

The Mothman Prophecies 11.20pm, BBC One
Following the death of his wife after a car accident, a reporter investigates sightings of a mothlike creature that may have been responsible for her death. What sounds like something of a B movie is actually a very chilling, underrated supernatural thriller.
Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Debra Messing, Alan Bates
Director: Mark Pellegrino
IMDb rating: 6.4
My rating: 4/5

Hana-Bi 12.35am, Sky Indie
A Japanese cop leaves the force to spend more time with his dying wife, while dealing with guilt over a shooting that crippled his partner. Cheery stuff! This is actually a stunningly beautiful film offering an original take on the Yakuza crime genre. Possibly its director and star's greatest film.
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi
Director: Takeshi Kitano
IMDb rating: 7.8
My rating: 5/5