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!