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Star – Rowan Atkinson
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 101 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – U.K
Amazon – £.00 DVD
Awards – Wins & Nominations
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On the face of it a James Bond spoof starring Rowan Atkinson should have been very good. It wasn’t, Johnny English a real stinker. The base humor completely missed its target audience as Rowan presented Mr Bean not Mr Bond. This is Britain’s finest and most articulate and intelligent comedian that bought us Blackadder’, after all? Surely he could mix in some Edmond Blackadder and that public school pompous genius humor for the Bond send up? It was a chanced missed to make a brilliant remembered comedy movie the way the Python boys and girls did, presenting us with a silly version of his Barclaycard commercials from way back then. Interestingly, Both Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English) and co-sat Rosamund Pike here made their film debuts in Bond films, the former in Never Say Never Again (1983) and the latter in Die Another Day (2002). Atkinson, ironically, played an inept agent in Never Say Never Again. So would lessons be learnt and Johnny English: Reborn be any good?
Imdb.com – 6.0/10
Rottentomatos.com – 39%
Roger Ebert – 1.5%
Rowan Atkinson ... Johnny English
Rosamund Pike ... Kate Sumner
Gillian Anderson ... Pamela Stokes
Dominic West ... Simon Ambrose
Tim McInnerny ... Patch Quartermain
Mariella Frostrup ... Royce (voice)
Roger Barclay ... Agent Two
Eric Carte ... Agent One
Togo Igawa ... Ting Wang
Daniel Kaluuya ... Agent Tucker
Miles Jupp ... Technician
Pik Sen Lim ... Killer Cleaner (as Pik-Sen Lim)
After a bungled operation in Mozambique, where their entire royal family and Prime Minister were wiped out under MI6’s protection, Agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson), stripped of his Knighthood, disappeared in shame and ended up at a Buddhist monk temple in Tibet, using the time, to be fully trained in Monk martial arts, five long years of solitude. But a new department, MI7 ( sponsored by a Japanese technology company), headed by Pamela Stokes (Gillian Anderson), want English back in London with his license to kill reactivated, preferably not to use on the people he is protecting this time.
With the help of fellow agent Simon Ambrose (Dominic West), quartermaster Patch Quartermain
(Tim McInnerny a.k.a Captain Darling) and sexy behavioral psychologist Kate Summer (Rosumund Pike), English is bought up to speed and reassigned to Honk Kong, where there is a plot to kill the Chinese Premier, Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya) his right hand man and support.
English first lead is ex CIA Agent Titus Fisher (Richard Schiff), who is killed when he hands English an exotic metal key. Fisher mentions a shadowy group called ‘Vortex, before a sniper takes Fisher out. English, of course, loses the key and it falls into the wrong hands, one of three smart keys needed to activate a secret weapon.
Various people get killed as English, as expected, bungles his away around the world looking for the keys, Vortex and the secret weapon, always a fag paper away from being fired again in disgrace.
The huge problem with the Johnny English thing is it’s not aimed at kids or adults, somewhere in-between, the sort of people who watch the One Show, a movie for idiots. And that’s the story of Atkinson’s wasted talent on the big screen. What the film really needed was an injection of comedy that plays to Atkinson's strengths - and some decent writers. He's a funny guy, but this material just isn't worthy of him. If Ben Elton and Richard Curtiss had got hold of this then who knows. I think Ricky Gervais and co should write the third film, rumored to be coming in 2018. More of the same of this lame parody will make money though, Johnny English costing $40 million and doing $160 million back, Reborn costing just $5 million more and also doing $160 million. The franchise certainly needs refreshing though.
It’s frustrating watching this as the humor is just not clever enough. Again, imagine if the latest Edmond Blackadder was Bond. It’s disappointingly dumbed down to target the lowest common denominator and widest multiplex audience. The Americans did it way better with spoof films like Spy and Austin Powers, as they are now with the Bond spy genre with Bourne and Mission Impossible films.
There are one or two mildly funny bits but not enough to recommend. It’s not as bad as the first film but still pretty flat. I tried to laugh and watched the film all the way through. It’s been ten years since I saw the first one and hoping it was not as bad a franchise as I thought it was. I’m still baffled why it’s so bad to be honest. Unless Ricky G does the third film I am out.
Imdb.com – 6.3/10.0 (89,72votes)
Rottentomatos.com –39% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 51% critic’s approval
Blue Ray option has some good extras on it. The film is definitely improved by a Blue Ray presentation as it is an action movie with plenty of chase scenes and explosions. Sound is excellent and very sharp and plenty of ratio options to enjoy the film.
Quite a few as the director must have hated some of the stuff he was told to put on screen.
-Behind the Scenes-
Straightforward one with most cast & crew involved, including Rowan. He didn’t say what he thought of the film and so the cheque must have been big.
-Goofs 7 Bloopers-
I’m not a fan of them and these feel forced.
Tribune –‘English Reborn" isn't terrible and is certainly seriously harmless...But it does remind one of the glorious past and the potential Atkinson never realized in his movies, even the hit ones’.
New York Post –‘It would seem to appeal mostly to hard-core fans of the "Mr. Bean'' star and children who laugh at the sight of men being repeatedly kicked in the groin’.
Movies.com –‘Just a reasonably steady stream of closed-mouth chuckles over comic incidents designed for that laziest little compartment of your brain’.
Screen It –‘ While I wouldn't recommend paying full admission price, you could do worse flipping past it on a rainy Saturday afternoon at home while looking for family entertainment.
NY Times –‘It's banal to the point that kids at the film's New York press screening were apparently bored out of their minds.
Deadspin –‘ This is not the highest level of comedy, or even the highest level of effort from everyone involved, but at least they get out of the way and let the man work’.
Star – Japanese kids
Genre – World Cinema
Run Time – 128 minutes
Certificate – PG
Country – Japan
Awards – 5 Wins & 9 Nominations
Amazon –£8.68 DVD £9.99 Blue Ray
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Due to Ciao’s bizarre new suggestion rules to get products actually posted up here it may be wise to recommend products through the retailer listed on ciao that’s selling it, when you search for the product. It helped to get this obscure foreign film up. As I watch lot of this type of movie it’s a ray of hope for the movie season in the winter. It’s not a bad little movie, to, from Japan and one worth seeing if you like your films to be sweet and innocent and not too angry. Japanese films have a certain serenity to them that’s hard to resist and this is one of them. I quite like the idea of marrying a Japanese woman. They tend not to get hammered and lie in the street and don’t have tatoos all over them for all to see. Who’s coming to Tokyo with me then!
• Kohki Maeda as Kohichi Ohsako, the older brother
• Ohshiro Maeda as Ryunosuke Kinami, the younger brother
• Nene Otsuka as Nozomi Ohsako
• Joe Odagiri as Kenji Kinami
• Ryoga Hayashi as Yu Fukumoto
• Hosinosuke Nagayosi as Shin Ohta
• Kara Uchida as Megumi Ariyoshi
• Kanna Hashimoto as Kanna Hayami
• Rento Isobe as Rento Isobe
• Yui Natsukawa as Kyouko Ariyoshi
• Hiroshi Abe as Mamoru Sakagami, a teacher
• Masami Nagasawa as Sachi Mitsumura, a teacher
• Yoshio Harada as Wataru Yamamoto
• Kirin Kiki as Hideko Ohsako
• Isao Hashizume as Shukichi Ohsako
In the Japanese city of Kagoshima, a young boy, Kohichi (Kohichi Maeda ) lives with his ex actress mother Nozomi (Nene Otsuka) in the house of his grandparents. Koichi misses his younger brother Ryunosuke (Ohshiro Maeda) and his drop out musician father Kenji (Joe Odagiri), who lives in the industrial city of Fukuoka after the marriage fell apart, the brooding volcano nearby to Ry a metaphor for their family.They haven’t physically met for six months so chat on the phone a lot. It’s his greatest wish for them to be together again.
One day, Koichi overhears on TV that the energy released by two of the new Bullet Trains passing by each other would grant wishes and he invites his two best friends, Tasuku (Nene Otsuka) and Makoto (Kirin Kiki), to travel to the point of intersection of the two trains half way between the two brother’s cities. But they will have to keep it secret from their parents and need money to buy train tickets, 1200 Yen ($20 each), the plan to literally scrape the cash together by poking sticks under the cities vending machines looking for coins. Koichi also tells his plan to Ryunosuke, who invites his three best mates from school to join him. Soon the seven children arrive at the meeting point as their adventure begins. The kids all have a wish to make. One wants to be an actress, another wants his pet dog to come back to life. It’s a mixed bag. We know what the brothers wish is. He even takes his grand parents wish, who are in on the trip and covering for them.
I really enjoyed this, a refreshingly sweet tale of childhood innocence and the pressing pressures of grown up angst of being a parent. We were all kids once and the parents only job back then to let us enjoy that time. Nothing worse than seeing parents scold kids for being kids. Being an adult is never as much fun though. But seeing those kid’s innocent smiles on film always makes you go with it, especially Asian ones, their kids always that little bit cuter, sweeter and nicer. This film has its darker moments around the children but never interested in making statements or adding malice and jeopardy for no reason. Seeing 7 young kids jump on a train and go on an adventure without parents would truly terrify us today. It also looks great and brings to life urban Japan in a way you don’t see often.
It’s contemporary Japan the kids weave their dreams into and the director cleverly drawing delightful naturalistic performances from them, especially when they discuss their dreams to camera. To quote a review in the film – ‘You watch it remembering the days when you should have walked but simply had to run’. Its all about those freedoms kids have afforded to them by convention but never far away from adult anxieties of that bubble bursting.
You will enjoy this one from the off as we meet the adorable and real life Maeda brothers, one guarded, one happy all the time, and the pleasure they get from simple things like swimming and the perils of teachers dressing them down. We don’t want to know their troubles but enjoy their relationships on screen as they plan their escape missions. The adult acting, like the kids, funds the right tone and top notch, a touch of the Spielberg to it. It’s a story about evolving emotions as it is about pure escapism. I know when I was a kid I was always building dens and panning exciting trips and bike rides.
Imdb.com – /10.0 (votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 94% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
The Mail –‘Like the Bullett train, "I Wish" is slow to build momentum, and then it carries us away in a wondrous rush.
Time Out –‘Every performance works, every character fits, every observation rings true’
Arizona Times –‘What's so remarkable about the happiness the film brings is its simplicity’.
Seattle Times –‘You watch it remembering the days when you should have walked but simply had to run, and when you believed that, if you wished hard enough, your dead pet just might come back again/
Chicago Sun Times –‘[The] film is built around performances by two real-life brothers who are as unaffected, spirited and lovable as I can imagine, and one of the pleasures of "I Wish" is simply spending time with them’.
Bangkok Post –‘I Wish is a fine example of a feel-good movie that doesn't look away from the sharper edge of life when it's necessary’.
Radio Times –‘It's Koreeda's subtly elliptical storytelling and measured control of character, locale and pace that makes this so engaging’.
The other day a middle aged lady came around me mums and asked for three quid on behalf of an elderly neighbor in the street who needed emergency cash for the electric meter. My mum is no more gullible than any other pensioner but handed over the money anyway as it seemed plausible and only a small amount. The lady said she would pop the money back later that day. She didn’t, of course, a bog standard doorstep scam as old as time itself. Men are not so trusting and far more cynical and would never hand over money like that. The woman knows that people would not call the cops over three quid and she could target a few houses in the area in that time. The problem with my mom is she will fill in these junk mail competitions and doesn’t realize the sole purpose of those competitions is to amass a database of gullible pensioners, often with dementia, to target hem for scams by selling on the database to the unscrupulous. I’m not saying the lady that knocked the door had a list of addresses but it’s not uncommon. 75% of all internet scams snare older people, losing, on average, 6 grand. Although most fraud is online these days and gets into your house down a fiber optic cable it can still be at your doorstep. If you do have elderly parents living on their own it’s not a bad idea to fit a secure lock to shut their doors on people with bad intentions. Because doorstep thieves are very confident and plausible and only take small amounts then, as I say, few report it. There is a lot of this type of fraud going on unreported. You have to keep the old folks safe.
To put our minds at rest me and my brother went around mums and fitted one of these locks. The current lock on her front door (our old family home) is as old as mother and could be kicked through easily. Yale is the big name in locks, of course, and good quality kit and so first pick. This is a British 5 Lever Sashlock and top of the range stuff and as many of you know the state of your house security affects your house insurance payouts if you get robbed. You can’t argue with this brand name and even Jason Bourne couldn’t pick it. If you buy a cheap one from Wilko you may get hassle from the man from the Pru when you want your money. It’s ‘Insurance approved’, apparently. This lock is more suited to the backdoor as it has along handle key but mom is always losing small keys so not a bad idea in the end.
Fitting them can be a pain as the casing may not be standard and so you need to chisel out a bit of your door to get it to fit smug. Make sure it’s about the right size as any wobble in the door frame and it maybe useless. Ours was a snug fit and easy to get the old lock out and slot this in the new space. The five lever bit I am confused about but guessing it has five bits inside that need to be in place for it to open with the right key. You get two keys with it and always best to get two more cut just in case. When you first buy a lock that’s the best time to buy a spare cut key as its more suited to the internal mechanism that will get worn over time. A new key is more likely to work snugly into an older lock mechanism, apparently. You don’t get a door handle with this kit and so best to fit it just below the old handle but leaving enough gap not interfere with the handles mechanism in the doorframe. The lock cost around £35 but cheaper if you shop around. I paid £29.99.
On the whole a decent sturdy lock for a fair price. We are around mums a lot and so far no problems. I am actually quite pleased with my handiwork. It’s held in place by screws so best to tighten them when you feel any sort of give as these locks need to be aligned or they sometimes trip and you cant open them because the lock is designed not to work if it feels forced. No one wants to be climbing through windows at our age as it defeats the object of the exercise somewhat.
One of the great mysteries of being a teenage guy is how you decide on wet shave or dry shave. The idea of scraping a cutthroat razor anywhere near my face and neck never appealed at any point in my life and I soon decided on an electric chaser. Wet shaves look painful; induce red rashes and lots of nicks and a bit of blood. I’m sure the only reason guys choose to do it is they think it somehow how macho. Ok, I don’t grow facial hair like Wolverine so it won’t get tangled up in the blades but a daily electric shave should really be suitable to most guys. It’s clearly more pleasurable. I suppose you get a closer shave with a blade but I’m sure most women don’t mind a bit of sandpaper there.
I’m not into brands or design and so pretty much any electric shave will do. Obviously you have to spend a little money on them as some engineering is going on there and so you don’t want it ripping off your face every morning! I’m quite vain when it comes to shaving as I like some stubble although now that stubble is starting to go grey I’m less keen on it. I don’t do hipster beard stubble and I don’t do Jason Statham stubble. It’s rugged man stubble not itchy stubble, whatever that is. Let’s just say I like a bit on and sadly think women are somehow attracted to that. I’m tanned most of the year so it suits me. Because of that I want a shaver that will take off the amount I want. A clean shave is not my thing. When I was backpacking I actually used nail scissors to shave to avoid a razor. Actually I still do.
The Philips HQ 6926 Reflex Action is mid ranged price. Mail grooming trends and the year of the beard has pushed up the price of facial and body grooming kit big time as metrosexual man takes over. You would have thought the bizarre year of the beard when every young guy seemed to have a beard would actually drive down the price of shavers and razors. But man grooming is big business and everything on the up, this coming in at around £40.00. In fact men are shaving off ALL of their hair these days like women are, online porn and body image vanity increasingly dictating to young people. I won’t discuss my other shaving chores but you certainly wouldn’t use an electric shaver for it if you did!
There is a good Phillips range but I went on price and the three headed model. I like the all over feel of three spinning heads. It just feels smoother and less like a thresher. I find the twin heads snag the longer facial hair and all very irritating, like when you bang that sensitive spot on your head. Also, if I have an important appointment or event to look respectable I will need to shave it all off quick and so good for that.
The Shaving System is close cut, which means the blades shape to the facial contours, apparently. They call it a ‘Reflex Action’ system with individual floating heads. It’s a rechargeable model and takes 8 hours to get up to speed and lasts about 8 hours with that juice. It has cabel charging alongside provided rechargeable battery and automatic voltage and battery level indicator. Accessories wise you get a little cleaning brush, two pin plug adapter and plastic protection cap for the heads. It’s nicely packaged and you get a velvet pouch for transport. It’s not travel size and fairly chunky and has weight and so maybe not ideal there for taking abroad.
Women, of course, are overcharged for razors if they are painted pink and it’s the same with electric shavers. Fancy names like emulators are just away to add a tenner. This Phillips model would be perfectly fine for shaving female legs with a close finish though. Obviously men expect women’s legs to be smooth 24/7 and younger guys have no idea they are not naturally smooth and girls have a lot of work to do in the morning to prepare for the day. I don’t shave my legs as they are magnificent as they are but if you needed to then this will do the job, as it will, your chest. Grey chest hairs are not attractive and have to go. Smooth bodies are in these days and boys have to be right for girls, right?
So Rio 2016 was supposed to be the picturesque and passionate cure the way Barcelona 92 was for the rather sterile Seoul 4 years before. But it was blighted by yet more drugs stories as the IOC and WADA failed to ban the state doping Russian team on mass. They were nailed on guilty but the lawyers stepped in and 70% of the Russians allowed to compete, some of the remainder finding places onto the rostrum to deny cleaner athletes those medals. Empty seats and bullets flying around didn’t help to promote the Games…
===Here is my A-Z of the Game so far===
A is for Ethiopian Alamaz Ayana, kicking off the Olympic athletics program with an astonishing 10,000m WR and gold medal. Baring in mind the previous holder was a Chinese confirmed and confessed drug cheat, suspicions are rightfully high as she beat Xian’s record by 15 seconds!!! To put it in perspective she beat the great Emile Zapotek’s 1950s WR and would beat Mo Farah with times like this in training. We hope it’s clean but it’s unlikely to be, a positive test sure to be suppressed until the games are over.
B is for Simon Biles, the tiny 4ft 8 American gymnast who defended her Olympic combined title with some amazing tumbling on the mat, adding to her team gold in Rio. She is too small to get on any rides at Six Flags but can bounce 10ft in the air! She would eventually takes four gold medals in Rio.
C is for Oksana Chusovitina, 41, an Uzbekistan gymnastics. Yes, she is 41! We all think female gymnasts are old when they are taking A-Levels but this lady loves the sport and keep going, competing for three different countries in an incredible 7 Olympic Games, gold medalist back in Barcelona back in 1992. A credible 7th would be achieved in Rio.
D is for Dressage and Charlotte Dujardin record third gold medal, the most ridiculous sport on the planet, effectively horse dancing. You have to ask how they train a horse to be so silly and are they cruel methods to do these unnatural movements. Hervey Smith used to put nails and glass atop the show jumping fences in training to make sure the horse bloody well lifts its legs next time to clear the fence. The horses look like they are dancing on hot coals. But double gold for Dujardin and anything but the posh girl in a posh sport you would think.
E is for EPO and Mo Farah. His controversial coach Alberto Salazar has been quietly edged out of Team GB set up but Mo remains under suspicion, not living in the Olympic Village this year as they wouldn’t let him sleep in his ‘oxygen tent’ there. He is so good he could fall over and still win, exactly what he did in the 10,000m final here, his 9th major gold medal in a row stretching back to the 2011 World Championships in South Korea, his last silver. It will be 10 in a row in the 5000m in Rio.
F is for Fiji, their Rugby Sevens gold their first ever Olympic medal. Professional sports like Golf, football, basketball and tennis don’t really work in the games but this chopped down sport does. It’s fast paced and exciting and draws decent crowds.
G is for Green Water and the bizarre incident in the diving pool. No one really knows what caused it but an algae is in pole position. I reckon it was the Russians peeing in it. The water in Rio isn’t the cleanest and the sailing and rowing regatta competitors have been told to keep their mouths closed – when being critical of facilities and when being splashed or in the drink. One rower in practice actually hit a sofa just under the water line and was overturned. Rio has failed on the clean water test.
H is for Hockey and those sexy girls with lovely fit bodies ;-)
I is for Ipanema and the culprit for those bullets fired in the first week, one hitting the press tent whilst another magazine shooting up a team bus. Turns out the first incident was lads in the Ipanema slum shooting up a police drone and the second was a shootout with police and local gangs, flushed out of the area during the Olympic build up.
J is for Becky James, the sexy twice gold cyclist medalist in Rio and the girlfriend of Northampton Saints rugby star George North. She has a big celebrity career ahead of her if she chose to dump the bikes. Her and equally pretty Laura Trott are a marketers dream.
K is for 40-year-old Katherine Grainger our tomboy totty who scored her fifth medal in her third Olympics, brilliant silver in the women’s pairs. You always have your suspicions the rowing girls are closer to each other than you think but really its just good chemistry that makes winners, Grainger deciding just two years ago to have another crack at it. Again, the Brits throw money at the rowing program and the mst middle-class of sports producing another treasure trove of British medals.
L is for the brilliant Laura Trott, cute, adorable, funny and super brave on the bike, four straight Olympic gold’s over two Games, right up there in the British Olympic greats. No woman has done that before. The cycling program has delivered 30% of team GB’s Olympic medals over the last three games and no one on the team is aiming at anything but medals. If that’s not you then you’re not in the team.
M is for Michael Phelps and a mind boggling 22 Olympic gold medals and 28 in total, a ridiculous amount and the greatest Olympian ever. It’s arguably easier to score gold’s in the pool than rowing or boxing but his lungs are so big and his body designed just right for swimming he had no choice but to swim in three Olympics as he has an unfair genetic advantage. His insides are like Caster Semnya’s outsides.
N is for No medals then no money. This is Lottery and Sport England’s funding model. Each sport is set a target of medals to get in the Games to receive the same funding in the next four year cycle, the more medals the more funding. But if you get fewer medals then less funding, a fatal tail spin to fund more medals. Sports like basketball get hardly anything now. It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that teams like cycling and rowing that have the chance of multiple medals have more chances of hitting their targets, hence their domination in team GB. Teams throw their money at sports science and engineering in those sports and so keep winning, not exactly what The Olympics were supposed to be about.
O is for is for Penny Oleksiak, the first Olympic gold medalist to be born this century. The 16-year-old Canadian swimmer dead-heated in the 100m Freestyle in an Olympic record 52:70, sharing gold with Americas’ only black swimmer on the team, Simone Manuel. 71% of Black Americans can’t swim so both brilliant role models. She is the first black female swimmer to win gold. American swimmer Donna Elizabeth de Varona was the youngest ever champion in the 1960 games at just 13-years and 129 days old.
P is Peaty and Great Britain’s new swimming star. The handsome and boyish Sheffield boy got the gold rush underway with GB’s first swimming Olympic gold for 20-years, that of Nick Gillingham in Atlanta. He looks a real powerhouse and on for three gold’s in Tokyo.
Q is for the Queen of British athletics Jessica Ennis and attempting to be only the third woman in Olympic history to defend her Olympic title after having a baby. That, there, sums up exactly why there is a pay gap. If you have babies you can’t come back to your career as good as you were. Jess couldn’t and settled for silver. She will retire next week. Who doesn’t love Jess!
R is for Records and Wade Van Niekerk’s new 400m WR was the most astonishing at this Games. The Cape Colored was famously trained up by his 80-year-old granny as a boy to World Gold and the God fearing Christian’s time of 43:03 smashed Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record, the whole field going under 45 in an amazing final. I love Michael Johnson but that may be just the amount of ego and status damage to make him less preachy on other athletes on TV as an Olympic gold medal winner rather than double WR holder. Wade has promised Bolt a 300m race.
S is for Surprise medal for Byron Page in the trampoline and the most surprise of silvers for team GB throughout the Games. The girls had never even qualified for an Olympic Trampoline Final before but right on it here, getting sixth and second. It was one of those ones wear the Chinese and the like dominate over the years but they messed up on the final routine and our girl went up and up the list after her excellent routine for silver!
T is for Tickets and plenty of them available in Rio it seems. Obviously London was superb in selling out events with the supportive British Middle-class public filling the seats but Rio is sparse. You could even buy tickets for the 100m Final and Usain Bolt on the day of the race. In fact the big sports stars are the only people to catch the Brazilian middle-class interest here. The Paralympics sales are dire. It’s frustrating as I was planning to go to Rio but put off by the hotel and flight costs and the limits on which tickets you could get pre Olympics. Now I see it’s empty I’m slightly angry. I didn’t agree with Seb Coe’s ticket arrangements of listing your three choices and cynically getting your third (often an under subscribed niche sport) so corporate get the best seats and events. It would have been so cool to be there and cherry pick my events.
U is for Usain Bolt and he did it again, his 7th Olympic gold in a row and a Olympic hatrick for the 100m in a useful time of 9:80. Drug cheat Gatlin has long since given up on winning gold when Bolt is on the track, if just for integrity reasons. Bolt milked his final admiration in the first packed Olympic stadium session and we all awaited the 200m for more of the same.
V is for Velodrome where 30% of GB medals have come from in the last three games. Add Rowing to that and its 40%. Lottery and Sport England funding has been targeted at team events that the engineers can improve the kit under the athletes for an unfair advantage, and subsidize and identify fulltime muscle on those bikes who don’t have to get a job to pay for their Olympic dream. But cycling is not like rowing and all public school and so Trott and co all the more amazing. Every single member of the team got a medal, Jason Kenny getting a record 6th gold medal and so level with Chris Hoy.
W is for Wiggins and the aloof cyclist and Tour de France winner becomes Britain’s most successful Olympian with 8 medals, claiming his 5th gold in Rio in the team pursuit. There was talk of tension with first reserve Mark Cavendish just before the race with Wiggins but they get it together and won gold with a new WR. One more gold and Chris Hoy loses his throne and Redgrave pushed to third although for me anyone who wins five gold’s in five Olympics remains the king. Cavendish would get this first Olympic medal in five games in the Ominum.
X is for XY chromosome and Caster Semenya. The South African ‘girl’ was born with no ovaries and both sex organs, the penis inside her behind her lady parts. Because of her condition she produces access testosterone and so takes on a notable physical male appearance. She does have a womb. After she controversially arrived in the 2008 Games she was subsequently banned from the sport. But human rights lawyers appealed on multi gender rules and she returned, on condition she took hormone and testosterone suppressants to hot the legal threshold of just three times the normal level during a race. But she stopped producing the times and so appealed and now her appeal will be heard after the games, allowing her to end her treatment before them, meaning she is effectively a man in the women’s race once again. Because they can’t ban her from the sport outright other athletes are taking testosterone to improve performance and getting away with it claiming it’s natural. Caster would receive a lifetime ban for her current levels but cant because they are ‘naturally produced’. She recently married a young woman in Cape Town and favorite for the gold medal.
Y is for Yawn, not because it’s boring but because I’m knackered, the best stuff moved to fit American prime time TV and so the rest of the world has to stay up until 2am plus for Bolt and Phelps.
Z is for Zika and, like British medals in Greco Wrestling, not mentioned once during the games.
After six long years and that Pakistan match fixing scandal and all that, crickets most mischievous test team returned to England, and Lords, the scene of that infamous News of the World sting. Pakistan are always putting their foot in it – or over it in this particular case – and I’m sure it will be no different this series. They also bought Amir with them, the young pace bowler having youth on his side and allowed to return to cricket after a five year ban for that spot fixing. At the time of the big Sunday news reveal he was a real prospect and had just become the youngest ever test bowler to take 50 wickets. Well he is back and so are Pakistan in what would turn out to be a cracking test series.
Lords Test – July 14th-18th
At a packed Lords the Pakistanis chose to bat and 77-3 at lunch as the returning Woakes was joined by young Jake Ball of Hampshire for the rested Jimmy Anderson for his first cap. So enter 42-year-old Misbah ul - Haq and 39-year-old Younis Khan to steady the innings with a fifty partnership as Misbah then ground on with Shafiq (73) with a 148 partnership as they took control of the match at 282-4. Somewhat oddly it was Misbah’s first Lords Test and he gleefully celebrated it with a 154 ball century in four hours, making him the oldest man to hit a Test ton since 45-year-old Patsy Hendren in 1934 and the oldest on his Lords debut. To mark the moment he did ten press-ups out in the middle, normally a signal to the bookies the spread bet is on. He has ended up as captain as most of his piers have had bans for this and that over the decade.
Woakes got it going on day two and the last 6 wickets fell for 57 as Woakes claimed a test best 6-70 and Broad with 3-71 to earn his 350 test wickets. The Warwickshire bowler has always been a maybe for England and dropped more times than a radioactive isotope by Homer Simspon but finally on the honors board at lords and set for a busy test year. Amir got an OK welcome to the crease from the respectful crowd but there were audible boos, as there were cheeky shouts of no-ball, when he bowled 10 minutes later.
===Youngest to reach 350 Test wickets===
Broad: 29 yrs, 144 days
M Muralitharan 29/226 days
Harbhajan Singh 30/23 days
30/86 Waqar Younis days
===Woakes is no joke and Misbah no old bloke===
After losing Hales early, England batted well in the afternoon as Pakistan shelled some catches in a poor slip cordon. But at 118-1 with Root and Cook set the brilliant Yorskhireman fell to the exiting young leg-spinner Yasir and Pakistan again took control to reduce England 196-6 at tea with Cook back in the pavilion dismissed for a solid 81. With that score he became the highest test run scorer in test cricket as an opener with 9,671 runs and edged passed Sunil Gavaskar of India. Bairstow, Mooen and Woakes slowed the steeping decent to a first innings deceit by the close of day two on 237-7 as Yasir also made the honors board with 5-68.
Day three and England failed to get within 50 of Pakistan as they were dismissed for 272 with Woakes marooned on 35*. Yasir Shah is the 1st leg-spinner to take 6 wickets in a Test innings at Lord's since Walter Robins 6-32 Eng v WI in 1933.
Pakistan enjoyed that Ist innings lead and needed that lead as they were bowled out for just 215 (Shafiq 49, Sarfraz 43) after Woakes yet again inspired the attack with another ‘fivefor’. He has found an extra yard this season and his 5-32 gave him 11 in the match, the second best bowling by an England bowler in a test this decade. He also has the best ODI bowling for England this decade and the best championship bowling this decade.
===Best bowling in a loss match for Eng===
13-163 Barnes v Aus 1902
13-244 Richardson v Aus1896
11-76 Lockwood v Aus 1902
11-83 N Cook v P 1984
11-102 Woakes 2016
===Shah takes 10!===
England were set 282 to win at Lords, a big ask. They achieved exactly that with the 282-3 they scored against New Zealand in 2004, with the ground's highest successful fourth-innings total being the 344-1 hit by West Indies in 1984. England were never quite in it as they rocked on 94-4, recovered to 195-5 and then folded on 207 (Bairstow 48, Balance 43, Vince 42). Yasir took his tenth of the match and this fellow is going to decide this series. A 72 run win was well deserved as Amir fittingly took the final wicket to win the match. Yasir Shah is 1st spinner to take 10 wickets in Test at Lord's since D Underwood 13-71 Eng v Pak 1974
===Second Test Old Trafford===
July 22-July 26th
Although England’s middle order failed at Lords they dropped two Southern counties bowlers instead, the out of form Finn and the inform Jake Ball, flipped for Stokes and Anderson. The pitch was much flatter and England won the toss and batted….and batted….and batted, 576-6 declared just after tea on day two. Cook(105) helped himself to his 29th test ton (level with Bradman) on his 50th test as captain and Joe Root ground out his biggest test score of 254, the third highest by an Englishman against Pakistan and likewise for test match innings on the ground. Bobby Simpson of Australia posted 311 here in the 1960s. The pair put on 185 for the second wicket and justification for Root to bat three now. Alas against the better bowlers Hales, Vince and Balance failed again. Woakes relished his night watchman duties from the overnight 314-4 and made 58 by lunch and Bairstow biffed it around with 58 to set the declaration at 589-8. Yasir Shah, he of the 10 wickets at Lords? 1/213!!
===The old Pakistan===
Pakistan’s reply was pretty feeble and already they look like falling away in the series.198 all out included ten catches, always a warning side with Pakistan that they are not interested for whatever reason. Captain Misbah scored 52 and 39 for Wahab and Masood. That’s the first time that ten catches have been taken in a test innings in England and Wales in 50-years. Joe Root is the first player to make 250 and take three catches in a Test innings and the third player to make a double hundred and take four catches in an innings in the same Test., England's first-innings lead of 391 is their second highest against Pakistan in Tests, behind Trent Bridge 1954. Somewhat oddly, Cook did not enforce the follow on and batted between the rain showers on a still good track, his only reason to bat on at 98-1 at the close of day three.
98-1 closed on 178-1 on day four as Cook (76* his fastest test half century) and Root (71* his fastest test half-century) smashed another 75 runs of 9 overs to set Pakistan a mere 565 to win. Root is the third England player to make a 250 and a fifty in the same Test. Cook and Root were only the eight England pair to score a hundred partnership in each innings.
Pakistan were not up for the fight and skittled for 234 runs, Cooks declaration merely to insure someone turned upon day four as England saw this fold coming. Shan Masood's record against Anderson is 57 balls faced, 15 runs scored, and six times dismissed; his average against Anderson is 2.50.It was England’s second highest run victory against Pak and England's fifth-biggest Test win in terms of runs.
===England win by 330 runs===
3rd Test @ Egdbaston – August 1st/5th
England bat first in a half empty stadium and soon in trouble, Old Trafford hero’s Cook and Root quickly out, Hales unable to deal with higher quality red ball bowling. 75-3 was pulled around by Vince (39) and then Balance (70) and 63 from Mooen Ali in a 66 partnership. A few lusty boundaries by the retained Finn could not bring up the 300 as England were bowled out for 297. The surprise of the day was by the recalled 32-year-old seam bowler Sohail Khan, bagging 5-76. His two previous tests series left him at 1-245.
Pakistan knew 297 wasn’t enough and although Anderson removed Hafeez for naught that was the last wicket England would take in two sessions as Aslam with 82 put on 181 with Azhar Ali, who went on to make a century and nick out on the final ball of the day for 139. But 257-3 was still a strong position to end on day two. Captain Misbah Ul Haq pressed on for more press ups with 56 and with good support from Sarfraz (46*) to close on 400 not out, a psychological blow for Cook to make the 400. Misbah-ul-Haq has made 14 Test scores of 50 or more since turning 40; only Jack Hobbs (19) and Patsy Hendren (15) have made more. Teams with a 100 first innings lead in test have a 3% chance of losing. Pakistan have taken a lead of 100 or more in nine previous Tests in England; their only defeat came in the infamous forfeited Oval Test of 2006.Jamie Andersen got his third strike for running on the pitch and removed from the attack. There is an area bowler’s cant follow on through as it roughs up the wicket for spinners and Jambo was doing exactly that.
Alistair Cook and Alex Hales were up for some statistic breaking and closed day three on 118-0. Cook batting in 3rd innings when England have a deficit: has impressive numbers: 27 inns, 1610 runs and averaging 64 ( 7 x 100, 6 x 50). He also became the highest aggregate run scorer for England of all three formats combined, passing KP. But they didn’t last long on day two as both removed early on for their half-centuries.
So the final day and no overnight declaration from Cook. 317 still offered Pakistan an outside chance so Cook extinguished that as Moeen (86*) and Bairstow (83) ended their 151 6th wicket partnership with some lusty blows as Cook called them in on 445-5 declared, 347 the target. Leggy Yasir was poor again with match figures of 2-235. This meant Pak had to defend 85 overs and that is not what they do generally. At 79-1 at lunch they looked good for the draw but once the ball started to reverse they were 125-7 by tea and 201 all out for the crushing 141 run defeat with just 13 overs left. They are not up for the fight unless it’s on their turf in the Emirates or the honor of winning at Lords. Aslam top scored with 70 to go with his 82 in the first innings. Looks a prospect. At 20 years and 235 days, Sami Aslam became the youngest Pakistan opener to make two half-centuries in the same Test.
The scale of England's victory was all the more impressive given they conceded a first-innings deficit of 103, only the sixth time in history they have won a Test after trailing by 100 or more. This was only the fourth time England have won a Test when needing nine or more wickets in the final two sessions. Chris Woakes has taken 23 wickets in the series, equaling the record for England against Pakistan, held by James Anderson
===England win by 141 runs===
England leads 2-1.
===The Oval – 4th Test===
It was Alistair Cooks 133rd test, level with Alex Stewart at the top of the list for England. England have never lost a test in England batting first since 2012 and so had no problem having a go first up. But in a packed Oval the home team was rather lazily bowled out for 328, in-form Moeen Ali making a century (108) on a decent batting track to follow up his two half-centuries at Birmingham. Vince, Balance and Hales again went cheap with England rocking on 110-5 before Bairstow (55) and Woakes (45) turned it around to respectability. Bairstow’s score would move him into third in the all time calendar year for runs scored by a wicketkeeper on 911. It could have been worse for England as catches again went down. Joe Root scored just enough to set the all time England run scorer in a series record against Pakistan, beating Dennis Compton’s 453 in 1954.
Pakistan batted with more confidence in reply with the talented Azhar making 49 and the Shafiq (109) and Younis (101*) making a hundred a peace in a 150 partnership. Shafiq had been surprisingly moved up to 4 after making a pair at Egdbaston, brilliant reverse psychology by captain Misbah, the first Pakistani to make a century after a pair in a match. 340-6 at the close of the day had Pakistan heading for a 100 lead. Younis has scored 1000 test fours now. Woakes 24th wicket was the highest in a series against Pakistan.
Day three and Pak really turned the screw to bat two more sessions, Younis Khan going on to make his first double-hundred in England with a big six to bring up the landmark. His 218 was his 6th score over 200 and draws him level with the great Javed Miandad on 6. Three of those test doubles have come after his 35th birthday, only Kumar Sangakkara the only other player to do it. Those two are the only test players to get 200 against six different nations. Younis has 12 scores over 150, the most for any Pakistani test player. Younis mastered the tail putting on 57 with Sarfraz (49) and 97 with Amir 39* in Pakistanis 542all out.
England were quickly under pressure from that pure weight of runs and that 208 deficit, 88-4 (Root 39) at the close and that man Yasir back in the series after two fallow tests with 3 wickets before the close.
Day four and could England muster a rear guard against the mercurial Pakistanis’? The answer was no. Bairstow battled on for 81, becoming the second highest run scoring wicketkeeper in a calendar year (992) behind Andy Flower on 1200. Mooen chipped in with 32 but Yasir would finish England off with 5-71 on 253, a 40 lead, Pakistan knocking them off for the 10 wicket win to level the series 2-2 on Pakistan Independence Day. Highlights for England: In home Tests this year Chris Woakes scored 282 runs and took 34 wickets, only Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff 2005 have achieved 300 runs and 30 wickets in a season in England
===Pakistan win by 10 wickets===
Star – James Gandolfini
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 95 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £5.06 DVD (£5.86 Blue Ray)
Golden Globes – 1 Nomination
Awards – 8 Wins & 36 Nominations
Amazon – £5.06 DVD (£5.86 Blue Ray)
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It’s rather sad to think James Gandolfini is dead, and at just 51, this, his penultimate movie, one he never got to see the final cut off and some say his best movie to date. He was known for The Sopranos, of course, but had done some nice little movies before and around that iconic TV series. Ok, many of them were stereotype Italian American characters (Get Shorty), but not all, very funny in the Thick of It movie ‘In the Loop’ and stuff like the war film The Last Castle also a good watch. He was a character actor that made it big. The Drop, his final movie, is well worth a look, a recent mob movie where he all but revives his Tony Soprano character, a rather fitting tombstone movie.
Enough Said is a smart comedy about dating in your 50s, not exactly a popular movie genre to green light for studio executives. Romantic comedies rarely feature anyone in their forties, let alone overweight Italian Americans in the romantic lead. But TV director Nicole Holofcener thought there was a movie there and delivered one, based on her dating experiences in that awkward same middle age. As I am sadly nearing that middle age, and this got good ratings, I had to take a look and its well worth taking a look guys.
James Gandolfini ... Albert
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ... Eva
Catherine Keener ... Marianne
Tracey Fairaway ... Ellen
Toni Collette ... Sarah
Ben Falcone ... Will
Michaela Watkins ... Hilary
Phillip Brock ... Jason
Tavi Gevinson ... Chloe
Nick Williams ... Chris
Ivy Strohmaier ... Maddy
Natasha Sky Lipson ... Sage
Eva: I'm tired of being funny.
Albert: Me too.
Divorced 50something Albert (James Gandolfini) is minding his own business when he falls for likewise divorced 40something masseur Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), meeting at a party in Pacific Palisades through her friends Sarah (Toni Collette) and Will (Ben Falcone). Eva also picks up a new client there, Marianne (Catherine Keener), unaware that its Albert’s ex wife. Albert is unaware the two have met.
Eva: Did they just turn the music louder.
Albert: No, I think you just got older.
The relationship begins and going swimmingly and Marianne enjoys the company of the down-to-Earth Eva and books more sessions, time to chat about men and life. Eva, still oblivious to whom Marianne’s husband is the picture of Albert is less than flattering. They are divorced after all. Marianne and Albert’s snobbish daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway) is less approving of their relationship but the first to twig what’s going on. When Eva also twigs that the Ellen is the daughter, she doesn’t reveal to Albert or Marianne she knows and for some reason opts for a dose of masochism instead, and believes the horrible things Marianne says about Albert so to surreptitiously and unknowingly drive a wedge between the two. When Eva reveals to Albert she knows Marianne and asks him about his bad habits then everything begins to unravel…
A smart comedy about dating in your 50s is exactly what this is, and needed. It hits a nerve or two if you are suffering that dating scene and also examines those nuances that make relationships so fragile and political when it’s not so much a physical and sexual attraction. Once you lose your youthful looks and figure you have to have a B game, especially tough on females over 40. If men’s waistlines match the thickness of their wallets then they can get away with it but women need looks and a decent figure to stay in the game. It’s not fair but women make the rules.
Gandolfini is good here as the grumpy grouch stuck in his ways and has great chemistry with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, she of Seinfeld fame and daughter of E/Ts Richard Dreyfus, of course. She is a genuinely funny comic actress and draws a great comic turn from big Jim. There some sharp caustic lines exchanged you would expect from a smart relationship comedy and director Nicole Holofcener has clearly been in that scene to write those lines, which she admits in the extras, a rather attractive lady to. It’s often the case with successful career women that choice of men is difficult as they want to date someone at their level or above and there may not be many of those men willing to date over 40. I would not like to be an older woman.
It’s a nice gentle intelligent film and hangs on that central deceit of Eva not knowing Marianne is Albert’s ex wife. I haven’t seen that before in a film and it works well here, even though its most of the film. I wouldn’t say its belly laughs but its way above most romantic comedies coming out of Hollywood. Romcoms there are always made for 14-year-old girls and their idea of romance whereas this gets into the nitty gritty of people stuck in their ways willing to concede power and routine to form some sort of relationship. Love is more about putting up with each other than anything magical. You simply want to be with that person because you can’t bare anyone else having them. It cost $8 million to make and did $25 back and so considered a success. You won’t find many more roms coms aimed at normal people and so enjoyable.
Imdb.com – 7/1 /10.0 (49,322votes)
Rottentomatos.com –96% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 78% critic’s approval
-Behind the Scenes-
Epoch Times –‘It’s slightly magical. It's also just the art and craft of good acting; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, wonderful actress, James Gandolfini, wonderful actor. R.I.P. James. Enough Said’.
Globe & Mail –‘These are the subjects that Holofcener does exceptionally well -- the myopia, vanity and insecurities of the moderately privileged’.
Philadelphia Enquirer –‘ Enough Said is a romantic comedy about hurting the people you love, who you want to love - and making mistakes that may be impossible to recover from’.
The Bostonian –‘It's a wonderful movie-funny, sad and wise about the crazy ways we torment ourselves in this thing called love’.
Denver Bugle –‘In the terse space film provides, Holofcener capturing her characters deftly. We know their fears, needs, and lonesomeness. We trust the cars they drive, the food they eat, the rooms they keep tidy, or not’.
DVD Talk.com –‘ On its own, 'Enough Said' is a sweet and charming little movie - but there's no question the loss of its beloved leading man lends the picture extra, unexpected pathos’.
It has been revealed that celebrities are being paid to appear on charity versions of popular TV quizzes. Some celebrities really exploit charity to build their reputation in the industry whilst others also get paid to appear on shows like Celebrity Pointless. When they do the celeb specials you expect the celebs to hand over the winnings to their chosen charity but what you don’t expect (but secretly suspect) is they are appear for selfish reasons. It’s not ten grand or anything but it is four figures. On Pointless they were often taking home more than they were winning for the charity. The highest profile guests on some of the quiz shows have received up to ten grand. Tessa Sanderson confirmed what we all knew that celebs generally don’t do these shows for nothing and so don’t really give their time and she owned up to pocketing £900. There is nothing more tedious than a comedian of celebrity who does panel show after panel show and doesn’t create anything new for us to enjoy in the interim. The worse offenders would be every middle-class stand up comedian that is currently working and well known and David Mitchell. These people are leeches and contribute little to the charity they proclaim they represent.
Mastermind has its celebrity version and no doubt up to the same thing. As the show is rather cerebral the celebrity version is ‘dumbed down’ so to draw a wider selection of celebrities of all genders, sizes and skin color. Radio and TV presenter Victoria Derbyshire revealed that she was actually sent a crib sheet of what questions and subject matter she ‘may’ be asked so to encourage her to come on. She declined. But we like to answer questions our celebs don’t know and so these shows successful as the celebrities either do really well with the mostly easy questions or are indeed stupid for us to laugh at. No wonder they all have big smiles on Pointless.
The Mastermind general public version is a rather dated affair now and perhaps more famous for its big black leather chair, Magnus Magnusson and the Two Ronnie’s sketch than the winners. The problem is the contestants really are normal looking people who generally want to test their brains and not on it for their looks and attitude. These guys memorize everything they now about their specialized subject after work every night and want to do very well to prove something to themselves. Why The History of Loganberries matters is something only they will know.
=== Some of the oddball specialist subjects===
• The History of the Existentialist and Phenomenological Philosophical Movement
• Routes to Anywhere in Mainland Britain by Road from Letchworth
• The Banana Industry
• Orthopaedic Bone Cement in Total Hip Replacement
• The Development of the Self-service Petrol Station, 1963-68
Creator Bill Wright based the game show on drawing inspiration from his experiences of being interrogated by the Gestapo during World War II. The dramatic and menacing theme tune and the dimming lights did the rest. The pass thing was clever as it kept the game moving and penalized the dim contestants more. Recalling the player for their general knowledge round would be the second half of the show and the lowest scorer up first. Magnus would be form but fair and extremely charming.
===The Record Breakers===
According to Wikipedia in August 2010 a ‘Jesse Honey’ scored 23 out of 23 on "Flags of the World" in the specialist subject round, an all-time record. He finished as runner-up with a combined score of 36 points in the Champions of Champion event. The same year he blasted 23 out of 23 in the general knowledge in those same 140 seconds. Get a life comes to mind. No one is going to recognize him in the street for his achievement and I’m guessing he doesn’t have too many friends. On Junior Mastermind, an 11-year-old schoolboy called Callum Smith scored 19 points on his specialist subject, cricketer Andrew Flintoff, a kid’s record. I think it’s fair to say Andrew Flintoff would not have got half that in the big black chair. The current record for the overall lowest score is 5 points, set by British Indian software analyst Kajen Thuraaisingham, scoring 4 points for his specialist subject of The Life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Pipe fitter and general chancer Mick Burton scored just 2 points on his specialist subject of ‘Angels’.
The first winner was Nancy Wilson in 1972 and although women actually won the first three and then four out of the first seven they would win only 6 of the next 33, men having a winning record of 30 to the ladies 10 over the decades. The most famous winner is Fred Housego, mainly because he was a black cab driver in London. Alan Heath is the current champion.
It’s not the most entertaining quiz show on TV as you have little chance of getting anything right in the first-half, unless they happen to do your specialist subject. It’s second only to University Challenge and Eggheads for that frustration. But with your evening meal on your lap you can have a crack at the general knowledge and if you get into double figures then well done you.
So, as we know, the smaller the underwear the sexier it’s all supposed to be. Bridget Jones wears her big pants for leisure and her smaller ones for pleasure. Jones, like most women, would probably enjoy seeing David Beckham in his Calvin Kline’s, no doubt. There are a lot of things women seem to enjoy about David Beckham. But if you have a footballer’s butt and legs like me and Becks then you can get away with it. What girl doesn’t like her birthday surprise wrapped up neat with a ribbon?
I don’t know what omens routine around what type of underwear to wear in the day and night but for me it’s lose in the summer and keep it all in place in the winter. Y-Fronts make your balls itchy and sweaty in the summer with all that support and placement and so you can get sores when it’s a hot all day. I prefer to wear boxers in the summer. I like expensive ones like D&G for comfort. Yes it gets all dangly in there but reduced chaffing and some fresh air make the whole thing more enduring. In the winter you want to keep warm and so it’s packed away like an elephant in a box. You must be careful to get the correct fitting Y-Front though as any pressure on the old crown jewels gives you ball ache and then all sorts of thoughts go through your mind on why your snooker balls are aching. They are very sensitive puppies as they are the future of the human race after all. The male underwear has to be more protective and designed, as are Dolce & Gabbana’s. Kline’s are more for posers and so not as well shaped and designed.
The sexy thing about women’s underwear is it accentuates women’s curves whereas for girls looking at boys it’s the suggesting on how big the package is and how tight the bottom. Jason Statham may well say ‘never look at the package’ but girls want to do exactly that with Jason in his undies. So if you are feeling lucky then you put your D&Gs on at the weekend for your night out and hopefully the girls will get to see why exactly why you spent £12 on three pairs of pants. I used a voucher that came with an Amazon parcel to buy mine from an up market online company so it wasn’t much of a hit but on my general search for underpants I was surprised how expensive they were these days. The best deal for general Y-Fronts was 5 pairs for £7:00 in Primark but almost everywhere else the multipacks were well over £10.00, even in closing down BHS. Hopefully that mark up goes to the poor little kids making them in Bangladesh for pittance.
Dolce’s ranges are supposed to be made of mostly cotton, of course, and have strong seams and well cut material. If they are not they are fake. You don’t want too much ‘boing boing’ with boxers as the purpose is to sculpture the male body for comfort and sports. But they are not too tight so to allow good delivery if trying to pee in the pub toilet and time your departure so you don’t have to negotiate the ‘freshen up man’ and his embarrassing banter!! The myth about men hanging left to right is nonsense. Stuff it all back in like a jack-in-the-box.
It’s never a good idea for guys to buy white or light colored underwear. We are lazy and messy beasts and any blow back or poor toilet work after a few beers will leave stains. We bought a white toilet seat and that was a bad idea. Dark colors will hide your animal hygiene. We rally should change our underpants more. Again, I don t know how many times a week women change theirs but as we don’t hear them fart we will never know that either.
They D&Gs and the designee brands are expensive but they do last and made of strong stuff. They shape over your pert bottom and they do feel comfortable compared to cheaper brands. Sometimes you need it all to stay in the same place with a firmer material. They don’t have tacky branding all over them like Kline’s and come in various patterns and colors. They are not worth 12 bucks but they will last longer than those Primark ones. Sometimes it’s wise to spend on brands when the price gap is not too wide as the cheaper stuff is overpriced.
Star – Christian Bale
Genre – Crime Drama
Run Time – 116 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £4.00 DVD
Awards – 2 Wins & 8 Nominations
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It’s fair to say Christian Bale is a temperamental character with a mixed career. From bawling out his film crew to his brilliant Batman he is never dull. Batman Begins singlehandedly saved Hollywood as the superhero comic book blockbusters that finance the home of moves today were pretty camp drivel before his gravel voiced Batman arrived. From the confidence he bought with Batman’s huge grosses so the whole Marvel V DC Comics thing took off and so embraced and improved modern special effects and the best actors. Admittedly Ben Affleck is trying to ruin it all but we are still enjoying the Marvel stuff of The Avengers and X-Men. But Bale bailed from Batman and insists on doing these low budget movie flicks between big budget Science - Fiction adventures, Out of the Furnace one of those movies, for some reason needing to prove he can play the moody method role now and then. The Welsh born boy exploded on to the scene in the 1990s with American Psycho and has done lots of films across the range since, from the emaciated loner in The Machinist and Rescue Dawn (for which he lost 60 Lbs in 2003 and 2006), and under rated films like Reign of Fire and then the almost perfect movie The Prestige. But there are lots of Indies littered around his CV and Bale does like to be playing the tattooed wilder characters like this one and in stuff like Harsh Times. But he has that range and delivers some great stuff. Sadly when he goes all Indie he is wasted in those films as the scripts and directors are not as good as him. Anyone could have played the lead in this run of the mill blue collar revenge flick. Stop doing it!
Woody Harrelson ... Harlan DeGroat
Christian Bale Christian Bale ... Russell Baze
Casey Affleck ... Rodney Baze Jr.
Zoe Saldana ... Lena Taylor
Sam Shepard ... Gerald 'Red' Baze
Bingo O'Malley ... Rodney Baze Sr.
Tom Bower ... Dan Dugan
Willem Dafoe ... John Petty
Bobby Wolfe ... Dwight Van Dunk
Forest Whitaker ... Chief Wesley Barnes
Soldier Rodney Baze Jr(Casey Affleck) is back in the rural New Jersey Rustbelt after his fourth tour of Iraq and soon in debt to local loan shark John Petty (Willem Dafoe) to the tune of $1500. His brother Russell (Christian Bale), who works on the furnace in the steel mill, bails him out without telling his brother but Rodney a habitual gambler and soon involved in local bare-knuckle money matches to get up some more cash. He takes dives for Petty to make that money but decides to up the stakes by fighting up state in bigger money matches, the bouts organized by nasty gangster Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), who carries a gun and enjoys using it. ‘Rus’ is unaware of those fights, especially the risky ones. If you take a dive against De Groat it’s not a good idea.
When his brother goes missing in the woods after a fight its time for revenge, ‘good old boy’ style, dad Gerald 'Red' Baze (Sam Shepard) breaking out the hunting rifles. Local sheriff Chief Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker) advises them not to take revenge and they will bring in the bad guys but the two have history from back in the day ad he is not listening. Let the hunt begin in the redneck hills.
Although beautifully shot in and around the depressed town of Braddock, Pa, a significant place in American Civil War history, Out of the Furnace ends up a run-of-the-mil revenge flick with a decent and intense cast doing the best they can with the average writing and narrative. A cheaper less known cast on the same script would see this end up as a TV movie; such is the familiarity of the story and cliché characters and situations. But Bale is always watchable and with Casey Affleck to bounce of then why not give it ago. They certainly save this one.
It simply needed more twists and with Harelsson and Dafoe playing familiar seedy villain roles they always seem to play now it’s up to Bale to drag this above the waterline. He does that but the wow moments simply don’t come and the film stays comfortably a 3/5 movie throughout. It has echoes of the Deerhunter, but also every other tobacco chewing, banjo playing rednecks in the woods blue collar rust belt film you have seen.
It’s light on irony and humor and takes itself far too seriously. It cost $22 million to make but tanked doing just $15 million back in the multiplexes. It’s a shame because Chris Cooper has only directed five films in two years and two of them are Black Mass and the Oscar winning Crazy Heart and so the talent there. This was also financed by Ridley Scott and Leo Di Caprio. One for Film4 viewing only guys.
Imdb.com – /10.0 (votes)
Rottentomatos.com –53% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
Time Out –‘Aims for Bruce Springsteen with its blue-collar big themes and stadium-rock emotion but ends up as a bandana-wearing cliché’.
New Yorker –‘The movie has an undeniable, dour force, but it's basically conventional macho filmmaking, and it's extremely violent’.
Epoch Times –‘'Out of the Furnace' is an actor's film, full of actor's actors. Being a former actor himself, the reviewer was in actor-heaven’.
Toronto Star –‘Good actors really earn their pay when they have to negotiate bad scripts’.
The Mail –‘A down-and-dirty revenge picture whose classy cast elevates it above its gritty, grimy trappings’.
Entertainment Today –‘A humorless, ponderously solemn dirge that chokes on its own oppressive aura of self-importance’.
The Star –‘The grittiness of the tone... will bring to mind films ranging from The Fighter to The Deer Hunter, but it's that lack of cinematic gloss that makes the film come to life’.
Star – Toby Stephens
Genre – Science- Fiction
Run Time – 131 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – U.K
Awards – 7 Wins & 8 Nominations
Amazon – £ 3.89 DVD (Blue Ray £5.99)
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Before Ex Machina, the rather intelligent and interesting film about an internet billionaire, who tries to create artificial intelligence through his android experiments at his reclusive compound, we had The Machine, a low budget British movie on similar themes. It’s unclear if director Alex Garland of Ex Machina pinched his idea from this movie but it has striking similarities. We have the beautiful female robot, the potential love story between scientist and machine and man’s exploitation of a thinking robot and what happens when it does become aware of its existence. We also have the military in the background waiting to exploit it. In fact various militaries around the world are not ‘that far off’ deploying cyborg type robots in the combat one. Drones will probably rule the sky and robots will replace human soldiers on the ground. We also know these science fiction films will keep coming as one of humans greatest fears is machines will take over soon.
• Toby Stephens as Vincent McCarthy
• Caity Lotz as Ava/The Machine
• Denis Lawson as Thomson
• Sam Hazeldine as James
• Pooneh Hajimohammadi as Suri
• John Paul MacLeod as Paul Dawson
• Helen Griffin as Paul Dawson's mother
• Siwan Morris as Lucy
• Nicola Reynolds as Joan
• Jade Croot as Mary
It’s the near future and amid a Cold War with China cyber conflict rages between nations. A secret Ministry Defense lab in Britain is working on using implants in head trauma brain damaged soldiers in so to be able to use their limbs again. The cybernetic chip makes the soldiers feel a lack of empathy and more sociopathic minded and so more effective killers. The prototype is at a advanced stage.
Dr Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens) is the chief scientist but not a military man. His experiments are making the cyborgs more stable, at some points showing human qualities of empathy. A new Doctor (Caity Lotz), Ava Harris, joins the team and soon curious about the handsome doctors experiments and adds her own ideas, McCarthy more than keen to hear them. But tragedy strikes when she is killed outside the base and we discover the real reason she was invited to work with the team. She becomes the next experiment, given a brain injury after her death and turned into a cyborg called Ava in a fully metal endo skeleton, only her brain left with an implant. She looks like Ava but isn’t anymore.
Ava is a machine now but seems to make a leap forward in being a human cyborg capable of making decisions and carrying out orders, the best they have created so far, fully trained, an ideal assassin to send into China in the future. But McCarthy is emotionally attached to her and wants to develop the artificial intelligence side of things. His military handlers just want Ava to be able to kill and in the field soon. But there are other cyborgs and human implant soldiers around the base in various states of development, most incarcerated, and are getting restless and quietly rebellious on who they are and why they are here.
After watching Ex Machina before this it loses some of its edge. That one is the superior cyborg ‘that maybe human’ movie. But if you haven’t seen Garland’s film then this will be a better movie experience, worth the watch each way, as is Ex Machina. The Machine is a British film (shot mostly at the disused Greenham Common base) and with a small budget looks great on that $1.5 million total spend. Wardrobe were given an average £40 per person and obviously most of the money is spent on making Ava look real, which she does.
The plot is limited because of that budget and we don’t really leave the base. It’s shot in dark damp rooms and mostly at nighttime for atmospheric reasons. Toby Stephens is perfectly fine as the not so mad scientist chasing his breakthrough but brings nothing much more to the role than that, plenty of two dimensional military types around him to remind you this is a war film set in that near future. The plot is limited by location and the first half more intelligent than the second half. Men don’t fall in love with metal robots.
It did a wretched £300,000 back in the cinema and on DVD and so one that’s more likely to pop upon a movie channel than Chanel 4. It doesn’t look cheap though and the cast have made it work but it would have been nice to explore more of that science around what is being human and can we create that in a lab? But it’s also fair to say this type of technology would certainly be military use first.
The Machine will appeal to all movie fans and not just science fiction ones. It’s interesting and leaves you guessing on where the plot may go long enough and intelligent concepts explored. It adds something to the genre but sadly resort to cliché and explosions to get over the line as it doesn’t really know what genre it is, Terminator 2 meets Hannah. But I enjoyed it and so one for you to watch out for.
I picked it upon Amazon Market place on Blue Ray and that certainly adds to the experience. The special effects come through better and gives the film more edge. But a sits mostly shot in the dark it’s not exactly a must have Blue Ray experience the way Ex Machina is.
Deleted scenes and outtakes are on the disc, as is an interesting short film about where we are on I.E today, or in 2013 when this film was made. I’m guessing we have moved on some at a pace. An audio commentary would have been nice but o such luck.
Imdb.com – 6.1/10.0 (23,435votes)
Rottentomatos.com –79% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 52% critic’s approval
Variety –‘The Machine" works modestly well, but still wobbles trying to balance its "thinking man's sci-fi" aspirations against the need to placate less adventurous fans via standard action content;.
Hollywood Reporter –‘A classy slice of cerebral sci-fi with a literary-cinematic heritage stretching back through Blade Runner and Metropolis to Frankenstein’.
The Star –‘Some movies you find yourself liking despite of their mistakes, and this 2013 movie filmed in Wales is one of those movies’.
Fan the Fire –‘The film is ambitious visually, in spite of its small budget, and while not all of the effects come off, it's hard to hold that against an indie production like this’.
The Independent –‘ The bleak chic of this SF drama is intriguing, but the script that starts out smart and elegant soon slips into the shoddy and familiar’.
The Film Stage –‘With many writers and directors keen to give a look at a future ravaged by impending war, it's a breath of fresh air when someone shows an evolutionary leap towards harmony’.
The Mail –‘A provocative genre indie with striking imagery and a performance of riveting complexity delivered by Caity Lotz’.
Star – Meryl Streep
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 121 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Oscars – 2 nominations
Awards – 15 Wins & 61 Nominations
Amazon – £4.60 DVD (Blue Ray £6.60)
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So August Osage County, a film based on the Pulitzer Prize winning stage play by Tracy Letts from 2007 of the same name. She wanted the original stage cast to reprise their roles in the film version but not to be as none of the original actors appear in the movie. Director John Wells (The Company Man) wanted to really go for it with a star studied cast to bring it to the big screen and a spectacular acting led movie it was pitched as. And you don’t get bigger than 16 times Oscar nominee and 3 time Oscar winner Meryl Streep in the lead. Alongside three time nominee and one time Oscar winner Julia Roberts for a bit of glamour and away you go. The story goes that Julia Roberts was ‘overwhelmed’ with working with Streep and cried in an interview reveling that. That’s luvvies for you. In fact there are a total of three Oscar winners and 4 other nominees in this movie. That doesn’t mean it’s really enjoyable though as they scrap for screen time in every scene. Strep is outrageous here at stealing the movie.
Meryl Streep ... Violet Weston
Julia Roberts ... Barbara Weston
Chris Cooper ... Charlie Aiken
Ewan McGregor ... Bill Fordham
Margo Martindale ... Mattie Fae Aiken
Sam Shepard ... Beverly Weston
Dermot Mulroney ... Steve Huberbrecht
Julianne Nicholson ... Ivy Weston
Juliette Lewis ... Karen Weston
Abigail Breslin ... Jean Fordham
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Little Charles Aiken
Misty Upham ... Johnna Monevata
Will Coffey ... Sheriff Deon Gilbeau
In Pawhuska, Oklahoma the friends and family of the Weston’s are gathering for the funeral of dad Beverly (Sam Shepard), who killed himself on the lake five days ago. The head of the family and wife to Beverley is feisty pill popping matriarch Violet Western (Meryl Streep), who is suffering from mouth cancer and cared for by a beleaguered Native American nurse (Misty Upham), a cancer that doesn’t stop Violet running her mouth of cruelly to her family. Violets sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) arrives with husband Charlie (Chris Cooper) first, alongside Violet's middle daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), single and the only one who lives locally. Barbara (Julia Roberts), her oldest, who has inherited her mother's mean cantankerous streak, arrives from Colorado with her henpecked husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and coquettish 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). The couple are separated, but they put up a united front for Violet.
Violets Youngest daughter Karen (the long forgotten but striking Juliette Lewis) pitches up with the latest in a string of boyfriends in his flash car, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), a slick Florida businessman whom she introduces as her fiancé. Mattie Fae and Charles's shy, gauche and awkward son Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the last to show up after missing the funeral. Charles loves his boy, whereas Mattie constantly belittles and mocks him in front of guest. There is a lot of that in this clan.
Ivy brings the tone down some more by confiding to Barbara that she is in love with Charles, he cousin, who plans to move to New York with Ivy, but, fortunately, she cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy. She seems to think this is her only chance to finally marry. When the family finally sit down for dinner to remember dad the real arguments kick off as Violet and then Barbara hurl insults at each other, no one safe from their caustic tongue. Barbara has decided she has had enough of mom’s drug addiction and flushes the pills and bottles down the toilet as the brutal truth telling continues over the family table. Those family secrets run deep and not about to draw the family any closer. It’s clear the air time and the revalorization Beverley killed himself to get away from the dreadful Violet.
August: Osage County is all about the acting. It’s an ‘actors’ movie. That makes sense because the storyline doesn't offer much else that could be considered new or remarkable and ends up very much a kitchen sink drama and ensemble piece. The cast is big time. With so many scenes that end in harsh emotional purging, there's little opportunity for the cast to put the fun in dysfunctional family movie here and so becomes tiresome. They have lots of great lines to work with but often too many and so it becomes bun fight of those lines. Streep really hams it up big time and has fun as her character is high and the rest of the cast join in for screen time. I’m not a huge fan of Julia Roberts and her coathanger lodged in the mouth smile but she is getting better with age. Everyone else respects the writing and the energy is there on screen because of. But for all that talent and writing it’s just didn’t really work for me.
I quite enjoy American indie movies and have watched a lot but this one didn’t have that special thing that moves it into the enjoyable. It just too knowing and brash and, perhaps, weighted down by expectation to deliver with that cast and providence. Maybe it was the huge cast that crowded the enjoyment of the piece and that’s why I was not laughing at the jokes. As I say, some of that writing is excellent. I felt I needed to watch it though as it did get those two Oscar nominations and who isn’t a fan of Meryl Syreep, perhaps the finest actor of her, and our, generation. Apparently she is quite good fun to be around and not remotely pretentious off screen and I think that comes through on screen in that she puts her fellow cast members at ease and allows them to shine.
This will appeal more to an American audience than overseas as it’s all about that annual family get-together Americans do a lot of. It cost $25 million to make and did $75 million back so reasonably successful, box-office wise, most of that spent on the cast. But this film would have tanked some more with the original cast and so no surprise the director actor packed it with big names. Sometimes a movie just doesn’t find you. Watch Glengarry Glen Ross again is my advice if you want to see how to turn a stage play into a great movie.
Imdb.com – 7.3/10.0 (57,324votes)
Rottentomatos.com –64% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
Time Out –‘This star-studded loopy melodrama is brash, foul-mouthed, self-consciously offensive, and intermittently insightful and has a gaping hole where its heart should be’.
Globe & Mail –‘Although a couple of performances here may earn Oscar nominations, by the time you've sat through the wreckage, you're left with the sense that this really must have worked better onstage’.
Epoch Times –‘Problem is, with about ten families' worth of dysfunction packed in, and no happy resolution, what kind of a cinematic experience is it? The fingernails-on-a-blackboard kind’
Yahoo Movies –‘Nothing makes you feel better about your dysfunctional family at the holidays than watching a messed-up clan unravel on screen, only armed with better zingers and prettier faces. That describes this adaptation of Tracy Letts's star-studded drama’.
.Dark Horizons –‘The movie is wholly an actors' vehicle, and the cast is largely superb, though Mulroney, Breslin, and especially McGregor are underused’.
Movie Talk –‘ The film's stage origins tell a little too obviously in places and the acting will seem overripe for some, but fans of Eugene O'Neil, Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee will surely find this rich slice of Midwestern Gothic to their taste’.
Irish Times –‘It is often hard to know if one is laughing at intentional jokes or bad writing, but the sheer couch-chewing craziness of the enterprise certainly sets it apart.
Sky Movies –‘For all his character clichés, Letts' dialogue invariably comes with the sting of truth. You'll find something to empathize with even if you don't want to’.
Star – Adrian Grenier
Genre – HBO Box set
Run Time – 12X30 minutes episodes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £6.38 DVD (Blue Ray £7.99)
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So Entourage (President Obama’s favorite TV series), a HBO comedy show loosely based on the experiences of Mark Wahlberg and his crew when they were young kids tearing up Hollywood . Wahlberg is executive producer here to make sure it go it made (he put up most of the money early on) and he was right as it would last 8 series, finishing in 2011, some nine years later. The longevity is down to the mix of smart cutting humor and likewise celebrity cameos for the older audience and the girls, cars, sexy locations and beautiful cast for the kids. It has tailed off over the years but one of those shows you just can’t back off as you feel loyal to the characters and hope the writing will stay fresh and funny enough to stay with it until the end. But people on Ciao told me to give up by series 4 as it becomes more soap opera and Beverly Hills 90120 than intelligent Larry Sanders style comedy. I didn’t listen and I’m still buying this HBO heroin.
Kevin Connolly ... Eric Murphy
Adrian Grenier ... Vincent Chase
Kevin Dillon ... Johnny 'Drama' Chase
Jerry Ferrara ... Turtle
Jeremy Piven ... Ari Gold
Rex Lee ... Lloyd
Perrey Reeves ... Mrs. Ari
Emmanuelle Chriqui ... Sloan
Jordan Belfi ... Adam Davies
Jamie-Lynn Sigler ... (Jamie-Lynn Sigler)
Gary Cole ... (Andrew Klein)
Malcolm McDowell ... Terrance McQuewick
Alexis Dziena ... Ashley
Johnny Drama: [at the home of a Hollywood "madam" and her girls] Turtle, if you can't get laid here, turn your dick in.
Vince (Adam Grenier) is back on top after the success of Scorcese’s Great Gatsby and brother Johnny ‘Drama’ (Kevin Dillon) finally a TV star with a staring role in the sitcom Five Towns. Eric (Kevin Connelly) is running a small talent agency and although still secretly pining for Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) he is dating next door neighbor Ashley (Alexis Dziena) and intends to buy his own house to go his own way from the boys more to prove his independence from Vince. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) remains Turtle but now dating movie starlet Jamie Anne Sigler (herself) and contemplating going to college to get a business degree. Agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is as loud mouth and obnoxious as ever.
Vince has time on his hands with his next film, ‘Enzo’, delayed and so that means girls, parties and chilling in the interim. Sloane helps Eric out with a house purchase and sets him up with a proper agent’s job with her fathers firm. Andrew Kline (Gary Cole), Ari’s new partner, is close to signing Aaron Sorkin to bring a big name in town to the firm but also bringing that firm into disrepute by cheating on his wife and drinking too heavily.
‘Drama’ falls out with the producer of Five Towns after he winds him up big time and so has to beg to get his job back. Ari has to try and control his camp secretary Lloyd (Rex Lee) who has ideas above his station to be an agent and so Ari puts him through his paces. Eric is being put though his girlfriend and Ashley acting increasingly psycho.
Season Six reboots Vince career back to the top where he was in season 3 and so effectively a restart of the whole of Entourage saga, a real copout. It’s making it obvious that things are tired and so writer Doug Elin thought starting again would fix that as he didn’t know what else to do to revive it. But the jokes are drying up and they are simply making more box sets to make more money and cash in on people like me who loved the show at its best, and there is nothing else out there like this you need it. They know we will buy it just for that odd sublime Hollywood in- joke we love in these send up shows and stick with the likeable characters. There is a cool Matt Damon cameo but that side of things where actors play and send themselves up has also tailed off. It’s almost like Elin is saying if you like the main characters then that’s enough and you should keep buying it. Well no Doug I need more. I should have listened to that advice on Ciao and bailed after season 4. Everyone says that’s when the sow stopped being good. But with just two series left I suppose I am hooked in enough and will watch them for the hell of it. Hell, I my even buy the movie!
It’s funny in places and Jeremy Piven back on form here as Ari with better lines and more to do in series 8, dominating it with his racist, sexist and brutally hilarious rants. He is based on a real character and plenty of that caustic Jewish humor delivered. Because of the Holocaust and Jewish dominance in Hollywood they can pretty much make a joke of anything and get away with it. The other characters are more mature and rounded here and spin around the ever vapid Vince A-lister character. The signature soundtrack remains super cool and the girls as pretty and willing as ever to sleep with the boys. But what’s not here anymore is the originality and smart humor and those celebrity moments that spoke to people like me. I really enjoy shows that cleverly send up celebrity and sadly they are not making hm anymore, the only real reason I’m sticking with this.
Imdb.com – 8.5/10.0 (135,419votes)
Rottentomatos.com –64% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 78% critic’s approval
- Audio Commentaries -
Two from Doug Elin and the cast
-Life at the Top-
A recap of the season.
-A day at the Speedway-
A look behind the scenes at one of the episodes and a chance to plug fast cars.
-New season peak-
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There is no doubt Ozzy Osborne is the Paul Gascoigne of rock music. He looks like him, he acts like him and drinks like him. But is it worth reading a book about him? The answer is probably no as he is exactly the character you see on TV and on stage, according to this book, a wild drug abusing, womanizing cliché rock star. The then revolutionary MTV series The Osborne’s tried to paint him as this avuncular recovering alcoholic dependent on his wife Sharon and so the likeable rogue, when in reality he was still pouring pills and booze down his throat and cheating on his wife. I was hoping this book would add a new dimension and intelligence to Ozzy but he really is the headcase you see on TV and on stage.
I am a big rock fan but never really got into clanky and loud classic rock from the 1970s and early 80s. Black Sabbath, although technically and musically ahead of their time and practically invented Heavy Metal, are not my thing and far too dark and demonic to get me up. I like my rock music to be uplifting and Sabbath were never thus. They were pub band power rock for factory workers and young working-class kids to go wild to at the weekends after 5 days of hard tedious labor in those factories to let their flowing locks down to. The lads in the band came from those very same slum streets in Birmingham and so an immediate affinity with their fans. Their music was the clank of the presses and the grind of the production line.
The early days for Ozzy were grim, bullied at school because of his dyslexia and ADD and destined to always be factory fodder. He was a car horn tuner at the Lucas cars factory, a slaughterhouse worker and toiled at a steel factory, where he would sniff the degreasing machine to get high all day to kill the boredom, eventually passing out and falling in it. Blood and guts and drugs would shape his music career. He would steal animal parts from the slaughterhouse and play all sorts of pranks on people, like putting bull’s eyeballs in their pints. He even did a short spell in prison for house burglary.
It was a random advert in the classifieds that saw him join a band, Geezer Butler coming to his door to answer that ad. Ozzy was a singer with a PA system and Geezer songwriter and guitarist who wanted a singer. They then hooked up with Tony Iomi on lead guitar and Bill Wood on bass. Tony had suffered an industrial accident in those factories, two of his fingers crushed by a metal press. Until this day he carries around a file and leather pouch full of thimble like finger extensions that enable him to play the guitar, hence his impressive distinct sound.
They eventually signed in 1972 with a guy called Jim Simpson to cut their first record after building a big following in the Midlands. But money was tight and the band regularly splitting up in the early days, even robbing groupies to afford just to be able to eat. But success crept up on them and their first album was big, Paranoid an eponymous rock album. With success came interest from the notorious music promoter Don Arden, father of Sharon Arden, one day the next Mrs Osborne. Ozzy had married before Sharon during the bands rise to fame and had two kids by her before the rock and roll lifestyle split them up.
With that success Ozzy and his first wife moved to the sticks and Ozzy hitting the drugs and booze. He got so drunk he owned a donkey and they would watch Match of the Day together in the sitting room. But in 1979 Ozzy was fired from the band for his unpredictable antics and so entered the stadium rock 80s alone as an inferior solo artist. Its here in the book where he hooked up with Sharon and his career really exploded in the US. Its interesting to note that Ozzy Osborne holds the record for the longest gap between a debut record and being number one, the single ‘Changes’, some 33-years after Paranoid.
The book recites anecdotes and stories, some we know, like Ozzy pissing on the Alamo on a US tour and biting off live bats heads IN Cincinnati. Ozzy thought the bat was a plastic toy when it was hurled on stage as Sabbath fans would often fling lots of stuff at the band, including offal. So Ozzy bit into it and to his horror found it was real, resulting in twenty injections for possible rabies infection. The book also recalls the bizarre accident where alight plane crashed into Ozzy’s tour bus on a solo tour and killing his guitarist and tour manager. By then the band had a big goth following and statists would hang around their hotel and dressing rooms, some thinking the whole show was real and Sabbath were Satanist. The band certainly cultivated that image and even invented a machine to fire butchers off-cuts offal into the crowd during certain songs.
The only evil spirits interested in me are whisky, vodka and gin’.
But it’s that boozing that dominates the book. Sharon once put Ozzy on a luggage trolley when they got off Concorde and cellotape his passport to his head at the airport when he arrived in customs at Heathrow. He was playing Live Aid at 10am between The Four Tops and Billy Ocean.
There would be faux suicide attempts to get attention and he would often wet himself in public. One time he was caught short when viewing a house owned by Roger Whittaker in Bel Air and had a long shit on the toilet. But there was no bog roll so he used the curtains in the bathroom. This was a pretty vulgar guy. There were AIDS, cancer and Parkinson’s scares too, ironically his wife the one who got the cancer. Ozzy nearly died when he flipped his quad bike on his vast English estate. His bike fell in an old German bomb crater. The pair were as bad as each other though when it came to living dangerously so marriage inevitable, driving an even bigger split between Sharon and her father, who had long since conceded Ozzy Osborne’s solo career to Sharon’s management team. Sharon was a big a show off as Ozzy, of course and loved the limelight; some would say Using Ozzy to get it. But they are very much in love by all accounts.
‘Sharon would be the next f**ing test card if she had her way’
On the whole the book is a let down and one to speed read in places. It’s all about booze and drugs and not much about the music and the people he hug out with, why I bought it. There are some laughs to be had and new anecdotes but very much 3/5 territory. Obviously the writer doesn’t have the access to Ozzy I had hoped and this is a biography and perhaps better to read Oozy’s actual autobiography but I do prefer a subjective read by a third party to get more of the truth and the man. This wont appeal to Sabbath fans much and not for mainstream readers of biogs as the guy is so vulgar and unpleasant. To be honest all these rock biographies are all the same and the incumbents the people you think they are. That doesn’t impress me in the last.
Robot Wars is back! It’s been 13-years since the last series and I love it! Although not remotely a geek myself it was essential viewing back in the day and I tuned in for the new show last Sunday with high hopes for a return to form. It’s on BBC2 in the Top Gear slot and got a 10% audience share compared to 8.8% for the final Top Gear with Chris Evans. Somewhat ironically Jeremy Clarkson presented the first ever Robot Wars. Geek TV does surprisingly good numbers, the Big Bang Theory, for example, getting 3 million on E4. Although the new show is almost the same as the old version in format so far it doesn’t have the magic Craig Charles and sexy Phillippa Forester bought to it, PC Britain today very different to the late 1990s. Although a family show you always felt those two got up to all sorts when the camera was turned off and Craig no doubt snorted a line or two off Sir Chromealot, one of the series most noted robots over the years. What the young teen geek boys wanted to do with Phillippa certainly involved tinkering with her circuit boards. Today she sells double glazing on TV for Anglia Windows. Sadly glamour girl Julia Reed took over hosting after Craig was photographed using a bong in a taxi and the series died a death on Channel 5. That was the wrong kind of chemistry the show producers were looking for. But bringing geek Dara O’Brien in as host for the new season may not work either as he is one of those geeks and you always felt Charles and Phillippa worked because they were so not one of those roboteers. There were some very strange robot teams and mechanics. Angela Scanion is this season token totty.
Craig Charles - ….’On the first day, I was in the dressing room and looking in the mirror, and looking down at the arena. And they were pulling the robots into the arena on an invisible twine because nothing was working. And I was thinking: "Oh my God, what have I done with my career?" And you know, within the blink of an eye, it was the most watched show on BBC2….’
===The Box Set===
It covers all BBC content only, from Clarkson in series one to Jayne Middlemass and the American hybrid season where the UK did battle with the US and other countries. There were other spin offs around the six BBC series but not all included here. I recall that Clarkson spent most of the first season taking the pi** of the contestants and so Craig Charles was bought in off the back of his Red Dwarf geek success as Clarkson returned to Top Gear. Phillippa, of course, was the good girl from Tomorrows World and shamelessly there to get dads and sons to tune into her strategically placed zipper. The monotone football commentator Jonathan Pearce added an extra dimension to the show and much better at calling robot scraps than football games. The show also had a three person judging panel, Strictly style, consisting of geek Gods Noel Sharkey (head judge on every series: 1998–2003, 2016), Eric Dickinson, Adam Harper), Martin Smith (1999–2003) and Mat Irvine (2001–03). An Asian one was added to the new series for diversity reasons. These guys were called in to make a decision if the robots were still active after the time elapsed and decision made on points on who won.
Various arenas over the various seasons would see familiar and not so familiar robots do battle behind super toughened fiber glass shields. They were remote controlled from a box by the team, robot kit like power hammers, saws, crushers and flame throwers so to destroy their fellow robots. Often they would do exactly that and metal and cogwheels would fly everywhere. The arena floor would have booby taps like pits, fire traps, steam powered flippers and spikes to further hamper the robots and then if they strayed or were pushed into the wrong areas the house robots would join in the scrap. The most famous robots included Panic Attack, Chaos 2, Razor, Pussycat, Anvil, Firestorm and Tornado. There was a tournament with robots going out and then a trophy at the end of the season.
Kim Davies of Panic Attack was the best controller and would win the trophy a lot. Teams were mostly geeks and often eccentric. George Francis of Chaos 2, the big rivals of the above, was very strange and part boy and part girl. He/she sort of got stuck in puberty. Craig Charles looked bemused talking to him, sizing up whether he should shag it or ask if it has a willy and a virgina. We never had any ethnic characters I can recall and very much a white middle - class father\son thing. But the robots are the real stars and the combination of the two works really well.
It’s well worth buying the boxset. This is essentially viewing, even if you watched it all 13-years ago. It’s just very entertaining in a way very few shows can achieve, the Strictly Come Dancing of the new Millennium. Craig Charles is out there somewhere and should be reemployed on a show somehow.
The boxset is packed full of things to watch and plenty of extras. There are 4 discs in total. Some behind - the –scenes - stuff is quite revealing as you can see everyone is mates behind those scenes and the boys even flirting with girls! Outakes are quite funny and a spoof audio commentary isn’t that funny. There are hours and hours of stuff to watch that didn’t make the TV, which includes swearing. Geeks swearing is rather strange,