Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

I’ll keep this short

Here are some things I recommend you watch or listen to if you get the chance:

Athletico Mince – If you think Bob Mortimer is a comic genius, this podcast is for you. If you don’t, listen to it and you’ll change your mind. It is sometimes referred to as a football podcast, but it isn’t, although knowing what Sean Dyche and Steve McClaren (both below) look like will aid your enjoyment. Start at about episode 12 and enjoy the progression. And never look the laird in the eye.

Hell Or High Water and Get Out – The last two movies I watched have both been exceptional. I won’t summarise them for you – that’s what Rotten Tomatoes is for – but if you missed these, do what you can to see them.

Front Row Seat to Earth by Weyes Blood – Natalie Mering’s voice is transcendental. Play this with the lights off, or your eyes closed, or while taking in the bucolic view of your choice, and the world becomes a better place.

The Power of the Dog and The Cartel by Don Winslow – David Simon’s The Corner and Homicide used real life events on the streets of Baltimore to highlight the idiocy of The War Against Drugs, in a pair of books whose occasional departure from the narrative allowed the author to display some of the finest contemporary writing I have read. Don Winslow takes a slightly different tack by turning the exploits of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman into a pair of long, fictionalized accounts of Mexico’s drug trade, and the United States’ intermittent efforts to control/ exploit/ profit from this lucrative cross border powder trail. If you’ve ever bought illegal drugs, you’ve contributed to horrendous, violent, grisly deaths like those chronicled here. Just say no, kids.

That’s it. As you were.




Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba b-b-ba, ba ba ba ba ba ba ba baaa BA!

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

That’s the Pearl & Dean theme, if you’re wondering.

Anyhow, I paid a rare visit to the cinema on Saturday night. I saw Birdman – it’s good, you should go and see it – and thankfully a reasonably mature audience didn’t interrupt my enjoyment of the film with their mobiles once.

So far, so dull. But the reason I am writing this piece is that the only pass-remarkable aspect of the evening was the audible contempt my fellow moviegoers directed at the terrible ads preceding the film.

I remember the days when sometimes the commercials were better than the movies, and even if they weren’t, were guaranteed to raise the occasional laugh. This selection was risible, including the most deluded piece of media buying for this execrable ad…

They actually had the gall to run the first three seconds of the ad as a teaser THREE TIMES at the start of the commercials. As if anyone gave a toss about the 57 seconds of guff that follow it.

I know this is a piece of Eurotrash but the British public deserves better than this. Still, at least I remembered this being shown, because four days on I can’t recall anything else.



Things ain’t what they used to be…

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

ironladyAn unpromising title for a blog piece, I’ll grant you, but the death of Margaret Thatcher and the hostility this has provoked between her admirers and normal people has made me think about other changes that have occurred over the last thirty years.

More specifically, it is based on my observation that many of the people on my Facebook timeline who have declared their grief at the passing of FW DeKlerk’s most forthright ally are those who are regularly vocal about our nation’s perceived decline. This is, of course, ironic, as many of the values whose passing they mourn were those that Maggie laid waste to during three terms of fairly single-minded and transformative leadership. Say what you like about the lady, she was the least conservative Conservative you’ll ever find.

Anyway, apart from our sense of community, compassion for those less fortunate than oneself and a viable manufacturing base, what else has got demonstrably worse since 1979?

I’ll tell you what: movies.

There are other things, but…has any other art form been superseded so dramatically in the recent past?

Put it this way: what was the last great movie you saw? Truly great; not passable or reasonably diverting. I rarely watch films, so my annual transatlantic visit to the States provides me with an opportunity to catch up with the latest releases. I managed to watch only two this year – Arbitrage and Argo – both of which were fine. But compared with some of the television around nowadays, these two hour dramas felt as satisfying as a meal from McDonalds.

Sure, the Coen brothers pretty much guarantee ten quid’s worth of snappy dialogue and quirky characterization; and if you’re a Tarantino fan at least you get a three-hour opus to carry you over till the next film.

But Mad Men, Modern Family, Breaking Bad and Curb Your Enthusiasm (amongst others) are brilliantly written and crafted and engage me much more than any two hour movie can, no matter how good. Have these series made movies seem incidental and trite, or has the quality of films deteriorated?

I am not sure. But whatever the answer, I blame Thatcher.

Fanboy infographic by comparison site of all brands

August 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Just how much would it cost to be Tony Stark / Iron Man?

This made a nice read and then I got to the bottom and saw it was put together by  Pretty cool work from their social media agency whoever that is (or do they do it in house?) and sensible for not to over-brand the piece (although I’d have made the logo more difficult to crop off the bottom).  It seems to be going pretty viral so that would appear to be seeding money well spent too.  They’ve done one for Batman too.

Have the courage of your convictions and your customers will love you

June 19, 2012 1 comment

Good for the Alamo Drafthouse movie theatre. Tapping into the frustrations of other consumers has made them a lot of friends (and generated an avalanche of PR coverage).

According to this Guardian article the clip below is now used instead of the usual “turn off your cellphone” messages before R rated films.  Genius.

It’s all about the money baby

July 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I remember seeing The Getaway in my teens and thoroughly loving it – it’s still one of my favourite films.  It had the coolest man ever to walk the earth in Steve McQueen and one of the hottest women to grace the screen in Ali Macgraw; As Sam Peckinpah’s most commercial movie it had his trademark creativity, action, tension and violence (er… and misogyny) delivered in a slick easily consumable package which left me feeling like I was on the journey too as McQueen and Macgraw disappeared off into the distance in their $30,000 truck and the credits rolled.  It hadn’t lost its spark when I re-watched it as a student, so I was horrified when two weeks later the 1994 remake with off-screen husband and wife team Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger hit the cinemas.  I saw it years later and was duly unimpressed – they’d taken the soul out of it.

This is the problem with remakes – they’re rarely, if ever, better than the original.  Which brings me on to this:

Believe it or not, this is a list (not even a comprehensive list) that I’ve compiled from IMDB and various entertainment websites of the remakes that are coming up over the next 18 months.  With 12 remakes released in 2010 this phenomenon appears to be growing exponentially.  What the list does show is that the remake phenomenon isn’t just limited to one or two genres (traditionally horror and super hero movies) or movies over a certain age – some films being remade are less than a decade old.

I’m not talking about adaptations like the brilliant A Fistful of Dollars, which was essentially a western retelling of the excellent Yojimbo, and I’m not talking about films based on existing material (books, comics and video games) or event sequels to successful movies.  These are full-on remakes where very little is new except for the actors and the year it’s set.  The movie studios use terms like reboot, reimagining and prequel to try and legitimise things, but I’m not convinced.

So why is Hollywood so devoid of new ideas that they need to recycle all the old ones?  They can argue that new audiences need to be able to relate to the cast, that audiences’ tastes change, that foreign language films perform better when redone in English or that CGI technology means they can make movies bigger and better.  They can point to new story angles and sub-plots, more realism and improved cinematography.  They can even provide examples of remakes that are better and more successful than the original.  However, in the end there are far more remakes which are poor reflections of the originals than remakes which improve on the originals and this can’t be a good thing.

I’m not sure it’s a lack of creativity on the part of screenwriters.  The obvious answer is that the studio executives know they’ll get a return when they retell a popular story with new actors.  Splashing out on untested material when the talent, CGI and marketing combined can cost £100m before you’ve shot one frame is rather difficult to do if you want to guarantee the studio money.  I wonder though if a less obvious answer is that the role that producers play is changing.  While they were always an important driving force behind making movies, they traditionally played little part in the creative aspects of development.  Now the movie producer seems to be assuming some of the responsibilities of the director and writer.  They come up with the basic idea for the film themselves based on target demographics and market gap analysis, and pass it on to a scriptwriter.  Maybe that is where the lack of originality comes from.

Still there is one very successful series of movies which as yet remains untouched… *sigh* damn you Mr Lucas.

Categories: movies

viral videos with benefits

July 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Mila Kunis asked to the Marine Corps Ball:

Mila Kunis accepts offer:

JT asked to the Marine Corps Ball:

JT accepts offer:

It was either bad luck or poor planning on the movie execs’ parts that the movie Friends with Benefits came out six months after the movie No Strings Attached as it just isn’t possible to produce a movie in that time.

Surprisingly for the predictable / inane / nauseating NSA it was a success, but given men are unlikely to repeat their mistake and accompany their other halves to a carbon-copy movie, the FWB marketing folks had their work cut out.  First they spread the obligatory JT/MK dating rumors, then JT and MK fueled the fire by denying the rumours at the MTV music awards while he grabbed her boobs and she grabbed his junk at the MTV Movie Awards.

Then the marketing folks got creative and while the original invite to MK might have been genuine, I’m willing to bet the second invite to JT a set up.  Something about everything happening at FWB interviews / press days and the posting of the videos by the FWB YouTube channel.   Anyway, despite the likely awfulness of the FWB movie the marketing has to be applauded as smart and original.

Categories: movies, online marketing