Saturday, May 31, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Saw this on Thursday, and I pretty much agreed with every review I've read (you know, the ones I trust; not The Mirror or something which no doubt said it was the best film ever made). During the first hour Spielberg evokes 1950s America brilliantly - the fact is he's so huge that you forget that he's actually a decent director... but it's fun and colourful without being too Happy Days. Oh, and there's one set piece involving a village of mannequins and an atomic bomb which is one of the most awesome things I've seen on screen in a long time.

But then the story moves to classic Indiana Jones territory - a temple in Deepest Darkest Peru, and things started to go downhill pretty quickly. There's an awesome twenty-minute fight scene in the Peruvian jungle which kicks ass, but other than that it's pure silliness, and while I normally consider that a good thing, it just gets ridiculous.

As for the performances, Harrison Ford can still do withering sarcasm brilliantly and still convinces during the fight scenes; and Shia Le Beouf as Mutt Williams is a fantastically charismatic addition to the franchise. The chemistry between himself and Indy is probably the highlight of the whole film. Oh, and Cate Blanchett clearly has loads of fun as the Russian femme fatale Irina Spalko.

It's not great - it's far too unbalanced for that - but I'm happy to have seen it on a big screen, it's better than Temple of Doom (imho and all that), and basically I'm just glad to have Indy back.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Want a sneak preview of the Fringe line-up...?

Chortle's got it! Not all the comedy acts by any means (no David O'Doherty yet for a start!) but a great start with over 400 shows listed. Tim Minchin (9.45 Pleasance Courtyard), Rhod Gilbert (8pm Pleasance Courtyard) and Mark Watson (*also* 8pm Pleasance Courtyard, but a different room, presumably) can all look forward to seeing me looking over-excited in the audience....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dot To Dot Festival - Nottingham

I combined a visit to one of my very best friends who's at Nottingham Trent with the lazy-kid's festival option: Dot To Dot, a Camden Crawl-style event where one wristband gets you into lots of music venues across the city. With the weather being a bit rubbish (VERY windy) we didn't do as much wandering about as we perhaps might have done, and instead just headed for the people we really wanted to see.

The Saturday afternoon though, we did just pop into Rescue Rooms to get a taste of the atmosphere. It was obvious that the young teenagers who can't normally get into gigs were having an absolute blast (with their clothes and hair as well as the music) and they seemed to be loving a band called Cazals. A bit emo, a bit electro and with a keen ear for an anthemic pure-indie chorus, their sound is so zeitgeisty it's more tomorrow than today, and I've no doubt that the kids will go mad for them if they get any bigger. Not my thing, perhaps, but fantastic at what they do. Next door in Stealth were The RGBs - a band so Hoxton that the lead singer wore just a sparkly leotard and rosette. Pure electro, they're a band that CSS should be personally blamed for.

In the evening the big draw were Dirty Pretty Things at Rock City, and I can't imagine that anyone - fan or casual audience member - went home disappointed. Carl Barat clearly has thousands of killer tunes stored up in that head of his, and some of the best were on show this Saturday. The new single Hippy's Son didn't sound nearly so aggressive live, and was all the better for it, and the big tracks from their first album - especially Deadwood and Bang Bang You're Dead - went down a storm. The great thing about seeing this band live is that every member is fun to watch. Carl is a wonderful front man of course, Anthony Rossomando is cool personified, moustachioed Didz Hammond looks like he's having a blast the whole time, and drummer Gary Powell drives everything forward with a real intensity. A proper rock and roll band.

On the Sunday, we saw Thomas Tantrum at The Social. With a female singer fronting the otherwise-male group, they were certainly the tightest, most accomplished non-big-band we saw over the weekend. When I saw them live, I thought I detected a slight 50s Rockabilly sound which was really endearing, but when I've listened to their tracks on MySpace that doesn't seem to come through at all. In the early evening we returned to Rock City for Mystery Jets, who I found quite disappointing, actually. I'd always been led to believe that they're quirky and different from most other middle-of-the-road indie bands, but for the most part I didn't find them all that different at all. When they did do something a bit out of the ordinary - such as a touch of reggae, or doo-wop during a big ballad - they definitely turn into a much more interesting band, but otherwise I was rather underwhelmed.

In the evening we trekked to Nottingham Trent for a performance from the newly revived (in more senses than one) Spiritualized. Back from a life-threatening illness, Jason Pearce led an epic performance of drones, gospel, tunes and drums that felt somewhat out of place in what must have been a sports hall. Everything that was done was done beautifully, from the two-minute Stones-esque pop songs to the ten-minute, sprawling psychedelia. In the afternoon we'd seen Micachu use toy instruments and a hoover at Rescue Rooms, and watching Spiritualized you couldn't help but want to tell them to stop messing about, go away for ten years, live a bit, and come back when their vision is a bit more akin to Pearce's. But then it takes all sorts I guess, and that's what Dot To Dot is all about.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Doctor Who: The Unicorn and the Wasp

Look, you know me, and therefore you know I enjoyed this episode. Didn't *love* it - it's no Tooth And Claw or anything - but there was some fun dialogue, nicely farcical, and some great performances. I've read a few reviews which have said that THIS IS MEANT TO BE SCI-FI DAMMIT WHAT'S GOING ON I CAN'T COPE WAAAAAHHHHHH (or words to that effect), but hasn't Doctor Who *always* been more than sci-fi? One-off episodes like this are what makes it more than a niche show and turns it into something special and unique. Basically, you can read Marie's review to get an idea of how I felt about it!

On a related issue, Paul Fuzz has written a piece about critical responses to Doctor Who which should get us all talking :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Doctor Who - The Doctor's Daughter

Did anyone else feel their stomach flip when the Doctor pointed a gun at that guy? Because mine did, and the fact that I felt that shows just how far this episode came.

Cos, at first, I was completely underwhelmed. How could you fail to be, when you'd been told that an episode called The Doctor's Daughter did exactly what it says on the tin? I mean, c'mon Rusty, no it doesn't! Don't make a thing of it being exactly how it sounds because when we find out, with a rather dull inevitability, that it isn't, well that just engenders a big old case of... underwelm. So Jenny's a product of asexual reproduction and so "technically" she's his daughter. Whatever Greenhorn, she's essentially a clone. A very pretty clone, admittedly, and a feisty, really rather likable one, but a clone nonetheless.

At least, that's how it felt at first. And so it made the first fifteen minutes sit at the boring end of the 'meh' scale. Didn't stay like that, though did it? Ah, is there any more beautiful thing to be seen on screen in the early 21st century than David Tennant acting. Not shouting (not all the time, anyway), not making annoying faces - just acting. His conversation with Donna about losing his family in the Time War was stunning, and of course the scene at the end with a dying Jenny in his arms - and then a gun in his hands - was the first time DW has really punched me in the gut in a long time. That's a good thing, obviously.

And Jenny? Well I liked her a lot. I don't want to, particularly (because she looks too perfect, to be honest), but that little Moffett girl's got something about her. And it seems that we'll be seeing her again which I'd be very happy about.

Can I just point out one thing -the Doc's hand. It was focussed on in Utopia, but never referred to, and now it's been mentioned again apparently for no reason in particular. But with RTD at the helm, does *anything* happen for no reason in particular? Not usually...

Friday, May 09, 2008

My Top 5 Kids' Shows

I've done a Top 5 Kids' Shows from *my* childhood (ie circa. 1985-95) over on TVScoop, and your comments and suggestions would be VERY welcome!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A little catch-up

Oh Em Gee as the youngsters say, I haven't blogged in ages, have I? Unfortunately that pesky real life has been getting in the way again, but now I'm actually pretty settled and know where I'm headed so that's all good. Specifically, I'm headed towards a magazine journalism course in London in the Autumn, to my temping job everyday (half days to keep up the old TVScoop-age), and to the Fringe in the summer. With a sprinkling of Simon Amstell, the Nottingham Dot To Dot Festival, Tim Minchin and even Mr David Tennant in the meantime - and maybe the Boosh, depending whether they get their act (and more importantly, acts) together for their festival.

So there you have it. My TVScoop review of The Poison Sky is a little long and involved for here, but suffice to say the episode was fine - very good (and actually very funny) in places, with a couple of wholly unnecessary scenes and overall very Helen Raynor-on-a-good-day-ish. An improvement, then, but can we stop with the Raynor two-parters nonetheless?

The Apprentice continues to be rather wonderful, and a joy to write about every week. Last night's was amazing, and I'm very happy with my review.

Over in DeanLand, there's a review of a Daniel Kitson gig which y'all should enjoy.

Oh, and, well, I bought fetching hat today:Nice, huh?