Thursday, January 12, 2017

Event: Limmy's Hour-Long 600 Vines Supercompilation

Tonight's special was part of the London Short Film Festival taking place at the Picturehouse Central in the Trocadero (A great cinema btw). Through 2014-16 Scottish comic Brian Limond AKA Limmy embraced vine and shot 600 of them which he then edited into an hour long "film". 

It's been uploaded to youtube here and it's highly entertaining if you enter it with an open mind. It helps if you know who Limmy is but not essential. The funniest clips being Frosty Jacks and the calling out the guy seen singing along to Emile Sande.

Following the show we had a brief Q&A with Limmy chaired by Armando Ianucci. A nice way to make the showing a little special.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Film: Assassin's Creed

So I went into this film expecting it to be really bad and I had a joke around it being so bad they called it "ass" twice. However the film was OK. 

Jeremy's Iron, wearing a jumper his Nan knitted, is given 3 billion dollars by the Templars to find an apple. Fassbender plays a parkour-loving hoodie rogue who knows where it is but he doesn't know it. He's fastened to a robot arm that taps into his DNA to help him remember.

It probably makes no sense to people not familiar with the games.

Film: The Handmaiden

Chan Wook Park's latest film is a beautifully shot Korean/Japanese movie that tells the story of a criminal's long con on a rich woman with an aim to get at her wealth. His plot has him recruit a woman to pretend to be the titular handmaiden and earn her trust.

As with any long con things don't go to plan and without giving much away I did let out a little gasp at the end of act 1, and I've not done that since the end of Usual Suspects. The second act is equally clever and the third, whilst the weaker of the three, does tie the story up nicely.

There's some sex that may get cut on it's full release and there's an octopus that only seems to exist to tease the fans who like their sex even more extreme. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Film: Verhoeven Triple Bill

Another great night from the PCC has 3 classic films from director Paul Verhoeven, 2 of which have been remade and 2 which have had terrible sequels, but tonight was all about the originals. 

I'd never seen Robocop on the big screen but it's a defining film of my generation, and was probably the first 18-rated films to have a range of children's toys released on the back of it.  Watching it now the corporation-power driven storyline still holds up, the same cannot be said for the visual effects, especially the stop-motion of ED-209.

The second one is a film I have seen at the cinema many times, mostly at PCC Arnie all-nighters. This film is one of my favourite Arnie films and has held up brilliantly although the latex effects were always too much :) The crowd lapped this one up; there's something about Arnie and his one-liners that always make this crowd cheer!

and the final film was one I saw before in the West End and a film that is great. The bugs are incredible and the political angle is hilarious. I remember reading the original book a long time ago and whilst not the same, this is still a very entertaining film. I never bothered with the sequels; are they any good?

So a fun night and the first night that resulted in me getting the night train home (something that is new in London). A great crowd made this an excellent night out and it was so popular they're running it again next month.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Film: Passengers

A bearded Pratt who spends too much time alone, eating bad food, playing video games and dealing with badly written software stalks a hot woman until she falls in love with him.

That was my FB synopsis of the film. It was an ok film. At no point did I look at my watch or get distracted, which given the film is mostly just two people makes it better than I thought it would be.

The director clearly liked Jennifer's white swimsuit outfit as that seems to feature a lot in the film.

and the ending is twee if Hollywood.

My first film of 2016 and I'd be very disappointed if this one is remembered at the end of the year. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Review: 2016

The first thing I told myself in 2016 was to document everything I do, which I've done, and you're reading it. That makes looking back and writing this so much easier to do than in previous years.


I wanted to average one gig a month, I managed way more than that with the highlights being Chvrches at the Albert Hall, Underworld at the Roundhouse and Above and Beyond's acoustic set in Hackney. My favourite gig however was Anna Meredith's Scala show which was on another level. As well as the gigs I managed to hit a few festivals, witnessing LCD Soundsystem at Lovebox was something special, Super Furry Animals at By The Sea was entertaining and at BlueDot, which I think will become a regular for me, I preferred the DJs to the live acts with Cheeba, Yoda and Shadow all playing amazing sets.

I continue to see DJ Yoda way too much

Despite my best attempts Yoda continues to be the artist I've seen the most again with 5 shows this year and me giving up on a sixth as I didn't like the crowd or venue and left before he came on. (thanks Clapham Grand). Each show was different as was the crowd size from handful sized crowd at his Superbowl show in Camden, the party sized rooftop party crowd at Brixton, a bar in Hackney or a festival at Bluedot he never fails to deliver. My favourite set of his was the video game inspired AV set on the IMAX at Waterloo; that was so much fun. Unfortunately I didn't make it to his Stranger Things tour but overall I still did alright.

I'm still getting about

On the travelling front I give myself a stretch target of visiting 5 new countries a year. I got nowhere that this year with just Iceland as the new tick, which was amazing. I did however revisit a number of places with Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany and the US (twice) all getting another visit. It was also good to know that they weren't all for rollercoasters as I wind that hobby up (not completely I should add) I found myself travelling for other reasons; shows, UNESCO sites, bucket list and street art mostly. In my US States mission I managed to tick off Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma & New Mexico this year which is really good. I just have 9 to go.

I loves them rolleycoasters still

My favourite holiday was the rollercoaster one, a huge 11-state road trip from Texas to Utah with a wind-down in Vegas (because that's what people do there right?). Along the way we took in around 130 rollercoasters at more than 40 parks and still found plenty of time to sight-see. I'm particularly proud of this trip as it was my turn to plan it for the group and I'd invested almost a year pulling it all together, building the excitement, sorting out the logistics to squeeze in as much as we could and I even produced a little trips book to accompany the journey, which went down well with the group. For it all to work was a huge relief. From a stats perspective I got 95 new coasters this year, less than the 100 threshold but still a bit too high for someone who is trying to give this hobby up :)

Cirque Shows

I managed to see 3 Cirque shows; 2 of which I caught in New York were new. I'm back down to 3 remaining (La Forge, Ovo and Luzia) which always means they'll announce a new show. So it won't be a surprise to know that happened again and I have Volta to also track down when it starts its run next year.


I went to the cinema a lot this year with more than 50 different visits to various screens in and around London, mostly at The Prince Charles though, which may as well be a second home. I got through only 3 all-nighters this year (films of 82, Hunger Games & The Matrix). My favourite films of this year were Your Name, the original Point Break which got a sneaky screening in North London (it's not usually allowed) and Grimsby for making me laugh the most this year for "that" scene. Arrival and Anamolisa were also really good. Hail Caeser was the worst.

In Conclusion

So all in all, a really full year that I'm super-proud of. For other reasons 2016 has been seen to be a terrible year, and I can relate to some of that but when I look back at what I've achieved it hasn't been bad at all. Roll on 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Film: Bill and Ted's Double Bill (and double Ted)

The Prince Charles Cinema has an excellent Christmas season consisting of Yuletide classics (including Die Hard of course) and some other fun nights to keep the punters visiting during what usually be cinemas' quietest time of year. 

One such night was a back-to-back showing of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journeys. Excellent!

First up was Excellent Adventure which is probably the stronger of the two as our two heroes travel back in time to research their History exam. This is great with an excellent cast, Jane Weidlin playing Joan of Arc being my favourite. 

Second up was Bogus Journey which is still entertaining but not as fun as the first one. This one sees the two heroes being killed and their journey back into the real world. The scenes with Death are great and I still like the fact Turbo from the Breakdance films is one of the robot us's.  This is also the film that features the best erection reference ever put to film "I've got a full-on robot chubby"indeed!

and well done to the cinema for stocking a supply of air guitars for those of us who forgot to bring ours along.

Film: Rogue One

Don't tell the nephews, I'm supposed to be seeing it with them in January.

This year's Star Wars film is a self-contained story that sits between parts 3 and 4 and is based on how the rebels got their hands on the Death Star plans. My review doesn't really matter, you've probably already seen it, so here are my observations instead, which I've tried to keep spoiler-free. 

I'm not sure how two of the cameo appearances are in the scene they're in. It doesn't fit their timeline.

This films serves as a much better intro to part 4 than part 3 does.

It's definitely a self-contained story and works because of that. 

The Akbar look-a-like is sitting in a chair that looks like it was made from B&Q plumbing parts.

If there's a small character, it's probably Warwick Davis playing him. This theory still stands.

IpMan has a great line about being blind.

There's a great scene showing the stormtroopers inability to shoot straight.

The ending is superb!

Some of the CGI is so good you're not going to think they're using it. 

We're familiar with red and yellow group. Star Wars was supposed to have a blue group too but were cut due the colour clashing with the green-screen. We have blue group in this film using the original footage (OK, that's a spoiler but it's a good one)

Forrest Whittaker's character moves weirdly.

When the west is not getting on with the Saudi's it's perhaps not too clever to blow up a city called Jeda in the film. In their defence it probably has something to do with Jedi, so is ok.

The beach battle looks like a nod to the Normandy landings. Some of the guys are even wearing old war helmets.

A lot of the scenes in the trailer don't appear in the final film. How much rework was done in post-production? 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Event: Brian and Robin Christmas Compendium

An end of year fund-raising bash compered by Professor Brian Cox and not-a-Professor Robin Ince saw an amazing array of surprise guests keeping a packed venue entertained for 4 hours. A long event but a good one, if you could tolerate the heat; it was very hot in the venue.

Anyway here's a list of the acts.

Jack Liebeck quartet played us in, a nice live classical soothener (is that a word) to get us ready for the show ahead.

Public Service Broadcasting who I've seen three times this year now opened up with a short set of their space-themed music. 

Helen Czerski gave the first science lecture of the evening. I've forgotten what it was about :/

Andrew Steele gave a very entertaining presentation on stats with some alarming insight into how badly we as a race spend our money comparing average spend on weddings vs health research for example.

Festival of the Spoken Nerd mixed music, comedy and science in an fun presentation. 

Steve Backshall gave a talk on sharks

Adam Rutherford took us through why it was not a surprise that Danny Dyer was related to Charlemagne. Statistically most of us are!

Chris Linott talked about gravitational waves. It's science people!

Alice Roberts and Ben Garrod did a little skit about evolution and it's failings such as varicose veins.

James Acaster, who won at Edinburgh did a stand up show mostly about him being able to be the bully in front of an audience of nerds. His best laugh came from his reluctance to leave the stage.

Nitin Sawnhey closed the first half with an excellent cover of Bowie's "Life on Mars". I think the singer was Eva Stone, she was very good.

After the interval (it took us all of the time to get to the bar) we had The Hackney Colliery Band, who I'm sure played with Yoda earlier in the year. They were really good although the main trumpeter seemed insistent on always playing the last note. They were accompanied by the legs of Sophie Ellis Bexter to sing Nothing Compares 2 U, which was of course written by Prince.

Clifford Slapper, who did piano covers of Bowie songs was accompanied by a rather posh-sounding David McAlmont which included a cover of Bowie's "Sweet Thing".

Then there was a brief panel of scientists including Cox (who some tweeters were bemoaning they'd not seen enough of).

Lucy Cooke talked about the bum glands of beavers. Yes, you read that right. You should research where they end up ladies!

Blue Peter's Greg Foot did a bit of myth buster type science by attempting to answer the question "how much fat would you need to be able to stop a bullet". I have some way to go it would seem.

Then Chris Hadfield came out for a brief chat before cleverly segueing into the main act of the night, Duran Duran who played a great set of classics opening with Planet Earth and finishing with Rio. They had a great mashup of the opener into Space Oddity for another nod to Bowie.

and given I knew none of the acts in advance I had a great night.