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Sunday, 25 November 2012

The X factor

Is it me or is the X factor just a bit rubbish never Ella Henderson left?
There was a time when you would put up with an hour half of padding just for the fact that Ella would belt out another original take on a classic tune. But these days, with Rylan Clark left in the game, it's just a bit of a joke.
Of course the alternative to this, is just turn the TV over or read a good book.
The good news is, there's not long to go until series 9 draws to a close.
With Ella out of the game, it's just left for that boy band union J to clean up and possibly Land this years Christmas number one.
Or with a little luck, someone else will come along and steal Simon Cowell's thunder.
After all, he's been hogging the chart limelight since 2004 with his talent show juggernaut.
The fact that viewers have been turning over or off suggests that folks have just about had enough of this cynical cash-making exercise.
It's not a bad format, but just having a year off would breathe new life into the franchise.

Blow Up. The review

Blow up
The film review
by Roger Crow

For a so-called film fan, it was incredible that I've never seen iconic film blow up.
This 1960s classic had been spoofed by movies such as Austin Powers, and riffed on by Brian Depalma in the 1981 psychological thriller Blow Out.
So, browsing through my on demand free film section one Saturday night, I came across this David Hemmings classic and was curious to see if it lived up to the hype.
The first hour of the film is really a comment on the 1960s fashion and lifestyle. It's interesting that this is an Italian's view of swinging 60s London, but by about one hour in the film starts to take on a more traditional thriller role.
While idly looking around the park one day, a photographer happens upon a couple either playing around or up to something more sinister. After being accosted by the female of the duo, Vanessa Redgrave, our hero promises to give her the film before retreating to his studio.
As the film unfolds, Hemmings' character is delightfully accosted by a couple of groupie photography fans for a bit of afternoon delight.
Redgrave, in one of her earliest films, demands the film back before losing her shirt.
The not so happy supper realises that something mysterious is going on in his photos from the park and discovers a dead body. Returning to the park that evening he happens upon the corpse, but is without a camera so cant take any close ups. Later, the corpse vanishes, and he wonder if he ever saw it all.
It's in the final few minutes that you wonder if this is going to be long windup, and the viewer is going to be left feeling disappointed. Thankfully, in one of the most bizarre games of tennis ever committed to celluloid, we realise that nothing is ever quite as it seems in this classic film.
Sexy, surreal and unforgettable, it also boasts one of David Hemmings' finest performances. Whether it had a lasting effect on classics series The Prisoner is open to debate.
However, this is one of those films that once seen is never forgotten.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Helen back: welcome to the jungle.

Helen Flanagan looks like the physical embodiment of the ADD generation. When Ant and Dec start explaining the rules of the latest bush tucker trial to her, she seems to hear the first few words and then her mind starts wondering, possibly about fluffy kittens, hand bags and her next over priced hair do.
'I'm going to give it 100 per cent', she promises before having a panic attack and not even attempting the trial. Clearly the patience of Ant, Dec and the campers has worn wafer-thin over the past week.
'I feel empowered', says Helen walking back to camp; seconds later she's in tears, amazed that the rest of the campers aren't overjoyed that she didn't even try the latest trial.
I wonder how long it would be before there's a murder on the set of I'm a celebrity, or a contestant goes native and sets up their own little kingdom in the Australian bush before a celeb assassin is sent to take them out. Apocalypse Now: the reality show.
Now that's an idea.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Watch (2012)

Oh dear. It seems not even Ben Stiller's trademark everyday Joe routine meshed with Vincent Vaughn's quick fire patter Schtick can save this domestic sci-fi comedy from going nowhere fast.

As for Jonah Hill, he really should know better having made far superior offerings such as Moneyball and 21 Jump Street.

The plot, if you can call it that, involves a DIY manager (Stiller) starting a neighbourhood watch after one of his employees is slaughtered. Roping in the services of Hill, Vaughn and Richard Ayoyade (the movie's only plus point), they attempt to find out who or what was responsible.

The gags are thin, the improv, especially from Vaughn and Hill downright embarrassing, and the tone is just wrong. R/18 rated humour is great when it works, but this just doesn't.
Hill threatening to kill everyone at a party except a couple of twins he was chatting up is far less funny than suggesting a witty ultimatum if they don't do what he wants, but it seems they couldn't be bothered with a pithy retort.

Oh and by the time we do see an alien it's a dire letdown. Bad animatronics and make up make this look like an indie flick rather than an A-list comedy.

Sadly there's also a subplot about Stiller's character firing blanks.
Apt for a film that is one huge misfire from the first frame to the last.

There are a couple of laughs here and there, but The Unwatchable may have been a better title.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Total Recall 2012

For a film based on a movie from 1990, you'd expect Total Recall 2012 to have echoes of the Arnie movie, but what's remarkable is how reminiscent it is of every other sci-fi movie of the past 20 years. Here's a bit of Blade Runner, there's a flying car chase from minority report, there's the droids from I, Robot.
In the end the whole thing is just a bit meh. And it's not enough to keep an okay cast running through the frame. They have to do or say something original when they stop. The problem is when they do pause for breath we find their dialogue flat and dull.
The effects are good, but tiresome. Too many lens flares and projections.
The original movie was smart and funny despite clunky acting. This is just a copy of a copy. Grey and yawn some.
Despite the promise of Original Film in the first few seconds, the movie is anything but.

New York.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

the x factor: We Love Lucy

So Lucy Spraggan has dropped out of TXF. A shame because she was one of the years's most original and engaging contestants, but talk about square peg in a round hole. As indie singer songwriters go, she belonged to an alternate talent contest, not some mainstream, primetime juggernaut designed to find the next One Direction or Adele. Chances are Simon Cowell's show has already found them in Union J and Ella Henderson.
There is a huge gap in the market for intelligent indie X Factor, but while it won't attract the same high viewing figures, it will at least have a degree more integrity.
In that show Lucy Spraggan would have won hands down.
Alas, now she's no longer in TXF, there's a chance her album and single which stood a strong chance of hitting number one will now be blocked from doing so by Cowell's legal team.
Sometimes it sucks being a winner.