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

Weekend cinema preview

The Baader-Meinhof Complex
The story of German terrorist group the Red Army Faction, which carried out a campaign of bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations during the 60s and 70s, ostensibly in an attempt to bring down the capitalist system.
Starring: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek, Bruno Ganz, Simon Licht, Jan Josef Liefers, Alexandra Maria Lara
Director: Uli Idel (Last Exit To Brooklyn)
IMDb rating: 7.4
My prediction: 4/5

Zack And Miri Make A Porno
Two life-long platonic friends attempt to solve their financial problems by making a porno film.
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Seth Rogen, Jason Mewes, Jennifer Schwalbach, Brandon Routh, Justin Long, Traci Lords
Director: Kevin Smith
IMDb rating: 7.9
My prediction: 4/5

Trailer NSFW

Prescient documentary exploring the poor state of America's finances and how it might avoid economic catastrophe. Look at the trailer below and just remember, this film was made before the current economic crisis.
Director: Patrick Creadon
IMDb rating: 7.8
My prediction: 4/5

Max Payne
A DEA agent and an assassin join forces to a series of murders while being persued by the police, mafia and a ruhless corporation. Based on the video game of the same name.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Chris O'Donnell, Olga Kurylenko, Nelly Furtado
Director: John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines)
IMDb rating: 5.9
My prediction: 3/5

The weekend cinema preview features all new films receiving a nationwide or limited (usually arthouse) release in the UK this weekend.

Today's movie recommendations

3:10 To Yuma
Welcome revival of the old skool western starring Christian Bale as a hard-up rancher who volunteers to escort a notorious outlaw (Russell Crowe) to the stockade. Thoroughly entertaining.
8pm, Sky Drama

Four Weddings And A Funeral
Yes, we've all seen it at least three times, but it remains the classic that inspired the modern romcom, only since bettered by Notting Hill. It's also a handy alternative if you want to avoid Children In Need!
9pm, Channel 4

Clear And Present Danger
The third Jack Ryan outing is also the weakest, but it is Harrison Ford and he's always among the most watchable actors. It's also far more interesting than the book on which it's based, which sent me to sleep several times before I gave up.
9pm, More4

American Gangster
Denzel Washington stars in the true story of Frank Lucas, one of the leading importers of heroin into the US during the 1970s. Russell Crowe co-stars as the detective who brings him down. Absorbing crime drama from the increasingly prolific veteran director Ridley Scott.
11.15pm, Sky Screen 2

Kill Bill Vol.1
First part of Quentin Tarantino's magnum opus as The Bride (Uma Thurman) sets out to take revenge on the assorted villains who tried to kill her.
11.45pm, Watch

Today's birthday shout-outs

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former UN Secretary-General, 86
David Elstein, former Channel 5 chief executive, 64
P.J. O'Rourke, writer, 61
HRH The Prince of Wales, 60
Paule Dacre, Daily Mail editor, 60
Michael Dobbs, novelist, 60
Zhang Yimou, director, 57
Dominique de Villepin, former French Prime Minister, 55
Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, 54
Paul McGann, actor, 49
Letitia Dean, actress, 41
Janine Lindemulder, actress, 40
Adam Gilchrist, cricketer, 37
Josh Duhamel, actor, 36
Faye Tozer, singer, 33
Jean-Alain Boumsong, footballer, 29
Olga Kurylenko, model and actress, 29

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Folly of the day

Behold the sheer, delirious madness of the Brighton to Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway!

Read more about it at Urban75.

Watched recently

The Vice: Walking On Water, Part 2 - farewell Dougie, I never liked you anyway! - 4/5

The Family: Wedding Vows - great conclusion to a terrific observational documentary. Interesting to hear that it will be back again next year with a new family - 4/5

Railway Walks: Gateway To The Highlands - where will Julia Bradbury end up walking next year then? I'm guessing some coastal walks are likely - 4/5

The Wire: Alliances - 5/5

Grey's Anatomy: Forever Young - 4/5

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Mousetrap - I think it would be impossiblt to date Summer Glau without at some point saying to her, "go on, do the robot thing!". I bet she never gets tired of that... - 4/5

Katie & Peter: The Next Chapter - 3/5

Stephen Fry In America: True West - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Kit House, Bath - £300,000 on groundworks, f00k! - 5/5

The Daily Show: 11th November - 4/5

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

New Star Trek images

The Enterprise...

Zachary Quinto as Spock...

Chris Pine as Kirk...

Monday, 10 November 2008

Watched yesterday

W. - Oliver Stone's biopic of George W. Bush. Perfectly adequate film, though lacking the depth of Stone's earlier presidential effort, Nixon. Didn't tell me anything much I didn't already know and Stone largely avoids any controversial speculation (see JFK), but it does add entertaining colour to the story - 3/5

Ordinary Decent Criminal - crime comedy loosely based on the story of notorious Dublin criminal Martin Cahill, here renamed Michael Lynch and played, randomly, by Kevin Spacey. Watchable enough, but your life won't be any poorer if you never see it. The random casting extends to Lynch's wife and sister-in-law, played by Linda Fiorentino and Helen Baxendale - 3/5

Flight Of The Conchords: What Goes On Tour - 3/5

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Chain of Command, Part 1 - I want my own metagenic weapon - 4/5

Prison Break: Greatness Acheived - surely Gretchen's just biding her time? Also, I'm not convinced that that little concrete block could sink the black guy - 4/5

Paul Merton In India: Episode 5 - 3/5

Heroes: Eris Quod Sum - Robert Forster and Kristen Bell are just class. Good to see Peter stripped of his powers too. Having too many people who can do *anything* is just crap - 4/5

Sunday, 9 November 2008

The X Factor

Where to begin? OK, let's get Diana out of the way first. Was gutted that she didn't perform as she's my weekly highlight. There's some criticism around that she was given a pass into next week and there's no doubt it is a little unfair on the other contestants. Thinking pragmatically though, we have to appreciate that ITV were in a tough spot because the remaining shows are scheduled and advertising sold. Losing a contestant at this stage over and above the schedule would inevitibly mean either a smaller final or missing the show entirely for a week.

Onto the show itself then and it's a shock departure for Laura. Seriously, Britain, what the fuck were you thinking? Laura was quite clearly one of the best vocal talents in the contest, yet you kept Daniel Evans in ahead of her, who is a pub singer at best. Are you nuts? Of course, Daniel does have the benefit of a Chris Moyles campaign behind him, so that had to have an influence, but it does fuck up the show. It also played into the hands of Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh who quite clearly chose to save Ruth because Laura was a bigger threat to their remaining acts. So remember next week that when Moyles urges you to vote for Daniel, all you're really doing is helping out Simon and Louis.

The performances:

Eoghan Quigg - was OK, but the more I see him, the more I hate him. Also, bringing on a chorus of backing singers is cheating as it elevates the impact of a performance beyond what it should otherwise be. Should have gone home - 2/5

Ruth Lorenzo - OK, but she's a rock chick has evidenced by her sing-off choices of Purple Rain and, last night, Knocking On Heaven's Door, both of which gave her her best performances yet - 3/5, 4/5

Laura White - all said and done, this was admittedly her weakest performance yet. The piano was a mistake. Sure it showed her versatility as a performer, but at the expense of her vocal performance. The sing-off was much better - 3/5, 4/5

Rachel Hylton - again, OK. Clearly an emotional performance, but it's proving really difficult to find songs that suit her voice - 3/5

JLS - they did what they do. Annoyingly popular, but then again young white girls do like young black guys - 3/5

Daniel Evans - should have been in the bottom two, should have gone weeks ago, but still I find myself happy he's there. Trouble is that his continued presence is now at the expense of people far more talented. Listen up Britain, keep voting for him and you'll end up with another Steve Brookstein, which will do nobody any favours - 3/5

Alexandra Burke - best performance? No. Is it just me or is her voice too deep sometimes? I think she sometimes tries too hard to sound soulful and, at moments, ends up sounding like a bad transvestite instead. That said most of the time she's great andhers was the best pre-sing-off performance on a night that was somewhat disappointing all round - 3/5

Watched yesterday

Walk All Over Me - a young woman (Leelee Sobieski) runs into trouble with criminals when posing as her dominatrix housemate (Tricia Helfer) to make some quick money. Perfectly adequate little indie movie that will be of particular interest to those who are interested in the pro-domination field. Sobieski in particular is pretty good at playing the novice and looks great - 4/5

Lars And The Real Girl - a shy loner (Ryan Gosling) living in a small town in Ontario brings home a girlfriend in the form of a Real Doll - the Niki model, to be precise - who he believes to be a real human being. His family and community go to great lengths to accomodate his delusion. It's all actually rather sweet-natured and, ultmately, somewhat moving. There's a good chance you'll want to have tissues on hand... no, not for that, it's a 12 certificate! No naughtiness here - 4/5

The Bridge - documentary about jumpers from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the world's most popular suicide spot. Over the course of a year, director Eric Steel's cameras filmed the bridge, capturing the moments when 24 people chose to jump to their deaths. Friends and relatives talk on camera about some of them. A haunting and poignant film that wisely eschews any kind of sensationalism, instead finding beauty in the tragedy - 4/5

Manufactured Landscapes - documentary following photographer Edward Burtynsky has he travels (mostly around China) capturing landscapes created from by industry and urbanisation. While the photography is often stunning, we're not given long to linger on each particular shot, which is a problem because they are so detailed they require lengthy perusal to be truly appreciated. As a documentary about a photographer, it fails in that it lacks depth and you never truly get a feel for the man and his motivations, unlike in, say, the exceptional film on Sally Mann, What Remains. Burtynsky's work is best approached in a gallery, book or even on his website - 3/5

The Shield: What Power Is... - 4/5

Spooks: Episode 7.4 - 4/5

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

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Watched yesterday

Stephen Fry In America: Mounatins and Plains - I want to visit Bismarck, North Dakota. Not least because it's the birthplace of Leslie Bibb... - 4/5

Dragons' Den: James Caan's Story - interesting that he did change his name to that of the actor. His daughters are pretty tasty - 4/5

The Daily Show: 6th November - 4/5

Fringe: Power Hungry - 4/5

Breaking Bad: Crazy Handful of Nothin' - that's more like it - 4/5

America's Next Top Model: House of Pain - Tyra Banks is a lunatic, but never mind. So predictable who will end up in the bottom two each week. I want Lauren to win, but she can't walk in heels to save her life, which is a problem when you're hoping to be a catwalk model - 4/5

Friday, 7 November 2008

Last week's X Factor

Rachel Hylton - I thought her first performance was pretty good, but clearly the public disagreed. Fairly average sing-off but she deserved to stay over the boring Austin. Amusing to see her 'sack' Dannii as her mentor this week, only for them to make up the next day. She claimed that Dannii was given her poor songs, but the one week whe Dannii let her pick her own, it was pants. She needs to stop trying to be a rock chick and stick to soul, as Dannii suggests - 4/5, 3/5

Austin Drage - Louis was right and Austin is history. Huzzah! - 2/5, 3/5

Diana Vickers - OK, so it wasn't a disco track, but who cares. Diana wins again! - 5/5

Daniel Evans - inexplicably, he remains. Well, its not the inexplicable. Louis and Simon are so against him that the public are voting as a reaction against them, rather than because Evans is a good singer, which he clearly isn't. But still, it's kind of nice to see him progressing because he's a good guy, but surely he has to go tomorrow - 3/5

Laura White - ever-reliable - 4/5

Eoghan Quigg - really starting to hate this sickly sweet kid - 2/5

Ruth Lorenzo - not the nest singer, but her confidence and passion takes her a long way - 3/5

Alexandra Burke - another polished performance. Really, out of all the contestants she seems like the most ready-to-go artist - 4/5

JLS - Dannii was spot on when she cautioned against them allowing themselves to be swallowed up by the backing harmonies because it's those harmonies that flattered them this week. Their own vocals are a bit weak - 2/5

Tomorrow night, it's Mariah Carey night. Plenty of scope for good performances from most of the acts. Pointless trivia: I bought Mariah's first album when she was a complete nobody. If it wasn't for me...

Watched recently

Paul Merton In India: Episode 4 - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Jewel Box, London - that's all of season two seen - 4/5

The Daily Show: 4th October - 4/5

Fringe: The Arrival - definitely the best of the new season series so far - 4/5

The Daily Show: 5th October - 4/5

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Watched recently

I've watched a patently ridiculous amount of TV in recent days...

Have I Got A Bit More News For You - Tom Baker, legend - 5/5

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Automatic For The People - Summer Glau was as wonderful as ever, but Busy Phillips stood out for me this week. She was hot in ER, but seems to have piled on a small van full of weight since, even taking into account she was supposed to be playing a pregnant character. Shame - 4/5

Entourage: First Class Jerk - LOL, funny title in context - 4/5

TV's Naughtiest Blunders - 4/5

The American Future: What Is An American? - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Derelict Barns, Devon - 3/5

Prison Break: The Price - I'm blessed with sexy yet glacially tough women on TV at the moment. Summer Glau in Terminator: TSCC, Hermione Norris in Spooks and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe in this - 4/5

Spooks: Episode 7.3 - this is proving to be a cracking series. Hermione Norris is completely stealing the show - 5/5

The Family: The Pierced Ear - and a nation lets out a sigh of relief when the cat comes home - 4/5

Heroes: Dying Of The Light - 4/5

Railway Walks: Harbouring History - there has to be some kind of limit to the quarrying on Portland, surely? They'll end up with nothing left! - 4/5

Dead Set: Episodes 4 and 5 - Charlie Brooker's Big Brother-set zombie horror reaches its logical conclusion. Proved itself to be the best thing ever on E4. Gory, dramatic and very funny - 5/5

Little Britain USA: Episode 1.5 - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Lime Kiln House, Midlothian - 4/5

The Daily Show: 3rd November - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Isolated Cottage, Brecon Beacons - anotehr frustrated episode in which we don't get to see how everything turned out - 4/5

Jonathan Jones on the Tate Rothkos

From The Guardian...

"Seeing Mark Rothko's Seagram murals - the expansive
canvases he originally painted for the walls of the Four Seasons
restaurant on the ground floor of New York's Seagram Building - in the current exhibition of his late work at Tate Modern is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As well as the Tate collection's own group of nine of these red and purple marvels, you can see works in the series lent from museums in Washington DC and Japan. The total effect of such a large group of great paintings is fascinating - almost every painting in the cycle is a masterpiece. Rothko in this, his finest hour, was painting abstract works as rewarding as the portraits of Rembrandt or the landscapes of Turner."

Read the full article

Barack Obama's acceptance speech in full

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America."

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sunday bits

"By any standards, Stuart Wheeler has led an enviable life. He made millions as the pioneer of spread betting in the early Seventies and lives in the magnificent Chilham Castle in Kent with his wife, a society photographer, and three glamorous daughters..." - Mail Online - I mention this article because I had a drink with Wheeler and his wife earlier this year. Lovely man.

"Natalie Dormer takes one look at our spartan little interview office and says playfully, ‘Shall we draw lots for the comfy chair?’ So already I’m won over by this baby-faced brunette, an avid poker player who could be said to have enjoyed more than her fair share of luck so far in the great gamble of an acting career." - Mail Online

"The 21st century began late for America, on 11 September 2001. Before that day, the US still defined its role in the world with reference to ideological triumph in the Cold War that had dominated the century just passed. It was the planet's only superpower and saw itself as a popular champion of global democracy. Few expected the nation to come under attack, least of all the man who had been installed in the White House a year earlier. In 2000, George W Bush was uninterested in foreign affairs. He was ill-equipped to be the first US President of the new millennium." - The Observer

"Call it the Maginot guideline, the illusion that somehow by issuing more rules, regulations and statements of principle the BBC can lay the Ross/Brand debacle to rest. Alas, that's absurd. We're not talking dodgy phone-in calls here. We're talking jokes - by the million, broadcast 24/7. And already Daily Mail reporters - those self-appointed custodians of public decency - sit by every TV and radio taking notes. Good joke, bad joke? You can't have a good laugh every time. So BBC defences must crumble again, dropped brick by brick." - The Guardian

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Watched yesterday

The American Future: American Fervour - intelligent, weighty, but just a little dull - 3/5

Dragons' Den: Theo Paphitis' Story - more interesting than I imagined it would be. James Caan next week, hitherto the least interesting of the Dragons - 4/5

Grand Designs: The Cruciform House, Berkshire - 4/5

The Daily Show: 30th October - "where are you, Joe?" - 4/5

Stephen Fry In America: Mississpppi - what happened to his arm? I missed the beginning due to a recording clash. The segment on the Angola State Penitentiary was the most interesting. Apparently, 90% of inmates there are serving sentences of life without parole - 4/5

Breaking Bad: Gray Matter - I'm still not entirely convinced by this series. It's often great, like when they were disposing of the body, but it does have its longeurs and this episode was full of them - 3/5