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Star – Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchoupoulos
Genre – World Cinema > Drama
Run Time – 180 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – French
Golden Globe – 1 nomination
Awards – 83 Wins & 92 Nominations
Amazon – £5.99 DVD (Blue Ray £8.3700)
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So, a 3 hour French lesbian movie anyone? In the old days of VHS tapes and no free online porn teenage boys would jump at the chance to rent this at Blockbusters. Every guy remembers the awkward excitement of leaving the video store with a soft-core naughty film with a likewise title in your Granada Video carrier bag. It was normally hardly worth it for the embarrassing moment with the clerk and the excuse you come up with for renting naughty art house films but it was a right of passage in those days. Today you don’t need to rent French three hour lesbian art house movie as its all there on the internet. Commercial lipstick lesbians in films are just that and real ones are not so appealing to men. ‘Blue is the Warmest Color ’has to make at least one of the lead two girls in love pretty and feminine to avoid a smaller audience and so a compromise of sorts but still an intelligent and emotional exploration of love and belonging. But at three hours long its hard work.
It was certainly hard work for actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchoupoulos on set. Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche insisted they didn’t wear make up for most of the film and encouraged to improvise their performances after he only let them read the script just once. It was revealed that the director would do hundreds of takes for small scenes to achieve the desired realism of the story, and his intense directorial style was deemed borderline abusive from the actress, including the explicit love scenes, which there are lots. One scene took 100 takes. Both actresses commented that the film looked so real because Kechiche pushed them to their breaking point, and that they were really struggling emotionally on set. Both have openly said that they did not want to work with this guy ever again. But the performances are strong and for the first time ever the Palme d'Or was officially awarded to both lead actors alongside Kechiche. Normally it’s the director who gets that award. The director’s realism style included lots of footage of the actresses of set when they were unaware they were being filmed. Both actresses have said their onscreen relationship was real to some extent and now close friends. This is the first film adaption of a graphic novel to win the Palm D'Or.
Léa Seydoux ... Emma
Adèle Exarchopoulos ... Adèle
Salim Kechiouche ... Samir
Aurélien Recoing ... Père Adèle
Catherine Salée ... Mère Adèle
Benjamin Siksou ... Antoine
Mona Walravens ... Lise
Alma Jodorowsky ... Béatrice
Jérémie Laheurte ... Thomas
Benoît Pilot ... Beau Père Emma
Sandor Funtek ... Valentin
Fanny Maurin ... Amélie
Maelys Cabezon ... Laetitia
Samir Bella ... Samir
Upper working –class 16-year-old French highschool student Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is beginning to explore herself as a woman. She is attracted to handsome and cool alpha male Antoine (Benjamin Siksou), who date and then have sex. But she doesn’t enjoy the physical side with men and soon attracted to female school friend Amélie (Fanny Maurin) who she does desire. But she dreams of something more than greasers and schoolgirl crushes and meets Emma (Léa Seydoux), an older free spirited lesbian girl with blue hair, whom she sees around town and then runs into when she ventures into her first gay bar alone.
Adele’s friends begin to reject Adèle due to her sexuality as the two fall deeply in love and spend all the time together and soon Emma the only person with whom she can express herself openly to. Together, Adèle and Emma explore the search for social acceptance, sexuality, and the emotional range of their maturing relationship. Emma is from a middle-class liberal family and all this conflicts water off a ducks back, Adele’s family, alas, not so understanding. The couple join peace rallies and mix with eclectic free thinking friends and enjoy gay pride vents and their version of freedom.
We follow the two girl’s lives through university and then work, Adele now a primary school teacher and Emma an aspiring artist. But then Samir (Salim Kechiouche) comes into their world and Adele drawn to his caring and more stable side as kids and family life are on the agenda. The two girls love is put under strain as societies norms threaten. Emma wants to fight the system, create art and hang with interesting people whilst a home, stability and a man to pay the mortgage are on Adele’s horizons.
For a start the film loses a star for being three hours long. No film should be three hours long. The acting is superb in capturing the intensity and all consuming state that is love and the politics around it but its still three hours of it. It loosely explores the idea that lesbian love may be more a choice by being rejected by men and it’s fair to say there are very few straight men that would chose to be gay. For men it’s genetic but for some women it’s part of emancipation and dealing with that rejection. It is very confusing to men on why many lesbian women want to look like men with a butch look so to attract gay females. I don’t want to go into the butch - fem thing here as I know I will be slaughtered.
As I say the film is the lead performances and somehow they get you through the three hours. You need to treat this film like a boxset and watch it in three or four visits. Its just very long and intelligent love story that you may not get sucked into. It is wordy and there is a subtext around the great writers interpretation of love and so something else to chew on there. The sex is fairly explicit but not remotely erotic. The girls have nice bodies and lots of sex scenes but tomboys kissing each other wont have you reaching for the hanky - as the romantic breakups wont. Somewhat oddly ‘fake ladies parts’ were used for the sex scenes so to get a 17C certificate in France. You can see in those scenes the girls are acting but also understanding how they should be turned on. I’m guessing the two girls experimented off screen for the method and no doubt the director had a hidden camera when they did.
It sags in the middle like a middle aged lesbian at a CND rally in the 1980s and the love story hard to connect to for guys. You can totally understand why a woman would love another women as they 100% understand each other but a relationship needs leader and a follower and we don’t really get that here. They are equals for most of the film and both do the ironing. I’m guessing the rather camp Tunisian director is quietly exploring his sexuality through the film and the poor actress had to carry that out that confusion and interpretation to the millimeter. But it is an interesting and highly rated movie and if you enjoy your arty foreign films and can handle subtitles and have three hours to spare then you will enjoy this. If you are a 17-year-old lad with A-Level French coming up then at least you have an excuse.
Imdb.com – 7.8/10.0 (90,327votes)
Rottentomatos.com –90% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 88% critic’s approval
Blue Ray is great for blue hair, of course, and colorful gay pride rallies but not worth spending the extra for. There are plenty of extras but they are not well subtitled. Its looks great on the smart TV in Blue Ray but a very talky and melancholic movie so not one that needs Blue Ray. The director’s commentary is on the mind boggling uncut 200 minute version!
The Tunisian gets all pretentious on the layered track
Lots and lots
Lots of red carpet and cheering from ne in pastille suits.
New Statesman –‘It's a spellbinding piece of acting. Exarchopoulos is not so much an open book as an uncorrected proof, every idle desire and surging daydream splashed across her face, waiting to be edited and inhibited by experience’.
Financial Times –‘The camera brilliantly demonstrates how love feels: the slightly paranoid, deeply hysterical and hugely inaccurate super-concentration on one other person to the absolute exclusion of everything else’.
Daily Telegraph –‘Blue is the Warmest Colour is mostly tremendous, and anchored by two of the year's most fiercely committed performance’
Empire Magazine –‘Anchored by two of the most natural, committed performances you'll ever see, Blue Is The Warmest Colour is the most moving love story of the year’.
Atrhouse Film.com –‘Blue is the Warmest Color is about people, not flesh, about letting all boundaries go and giving into desire and pleasure, about devouring a lover and being devoured’.
Film4 –‘Something must be said for a film that's three hours long and remains this consistently engaging.’
Herald Sun –‘Viewed independently of the argy-bargy surrounding it, Blue Is the Warmest Colour is simply a remarkable work of cinema’.
I think it’s pretty fair to say that the only people today who can tell stereotyping Black, Jewish, Muslim, gay and Asian jokes in politically correct Britain are Black, Jewish, Muslim, Gay and Asian comics. Omid Djalibi is one of that tiny handful that will tell actually Muslim jokes and because he does we laugh away and he keeps getting booked to tell those jokes, not so much on the BBC post ISIS but still knocking around on TV here and there. The great ethnic comics have mostly white audiences and see this self deprecation in their humor as the best therapy to actually ease racial tensions that are clearly out there, cruelly exposed this week with the Brexit vote. Monty Panesar learnt that lesson early on that to get the England fans support and actually like you then you have to play up to the wobbly head Indian stereotype. Lenny Henry and Richard Pryor fully understood that but also knew that when they made it big they emotionally owned that white audience, no better feeling. I went to watch Omid’s stage show at Northampton to a mainly white middle-class audience. I did not see any Iranians. It felt like a naughty little club.
Omids early life isn’t that exciting in the book, back and fourth to Iran as a young chubby kid with jolly relatives with big mustaches and then finally moving to London to escape the Iranian revolution. His mom was well known in Iran as a singer but not so much in London but growing up in a liberal showbiz family meaning Omid would inevitably end up on the stage anyway. There area lot of pages on this time in his life. His education wasn’t great and had to blag his way into university with horrendous A-Level results, even going to America for the summer after his A-Levels to try and get into an Ivy League school. Multiple A-Level retakes would not help and eventually ending up studying English & Theater Studies at the University of Ulster in Colerain of all places. Again there are another 100 pages on this time in his life. Omid clearly enjoyed showing us his excellent writing skills and humor on his early days and this not one of those celebrity anecdote biographies. Like any working-class immigrant lad he went through a serious of dead end jobs before he made it and enjoys telling you about them.
He began to be noticed on the comedy circuit at Edinburgh with his one man show "Short, Fat Kebab Shop Owner's Son", followed by "The Arab and the Jew". He did ok in America in the 1990s, where he had his own HBO Special and did 22 episodes of the NBC sitcom Whoopi with Whoopi Goldberg. Djalili has, of course, appeared in a number of films as that generic Arab Muslim, most notably Gladiator, The Mummy, The World Is Not Enough, Notting Hill and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. He often jokes that he appears in every James Bond film as the "Second Azerbaijani oil pipe attendant". I know he has been a hijacker a few times.
As I said there are not that many showbiz anecdotes and the best one being when he was asked by the director of Gladiator to befriend a rather lonely and intense Russell Crowe on set. Even that one wasn’t that funny. Omid isn’t really interested in telling those tales and this book more about showing us his writing skills and ability to tell stories, mirroring his enjoyable act. He is the Muslim Billy Connelly but without the swear words of course. Omid is funny without the swear words. Billy probably isn’t.
Sadly for all of those stories and anecdotes it’s not the most enthralling or entertaining book and I did start speed reading around the 100 page mark. As rule of thumb you should dump a book if you don’t like it by the 100th page. I basically wanted to get to the celeb stuff and it simply never happened. This is also happened with Peter Kaye’s autobiography. Working - class comics and actors often feel guilty they have made it big and don’t like to be brash in their books so to alienate the people they came from. I did chuckle away a couple of times but not really a summer page turner. It really is the story of an ordinary man telling an ordinary life for 75% of this. Still a very funny man and a guy that understands the Brexit vote wasn’t anti immigrant so much but frightened people worrying about their identity, family and jobs.
An international soccer tournament for England is normally a load of pot bellied tattooed English lads wearing Burberry hats and Ben Sherman hoodies smashing up the local square and then losing to the first big team they play and so coming home in shame. Well they met their match in Marseille with two fans now brain-dead and many more still in hospital two weeks on. Some would say quite a few fans were brain-dead before they got to France and they deserved it. But as much as I hate England fans abroad and all the embarrassment most of them bring to this country in the way they look, drink, and act and behave the Russian mob that targeted them were disgusting and went off like Chernobyl. It turns out they were not so much football fans but ex and serving military who executed a likewise attack on England fans, in some cases innocent women and children in the stadium. Because they attacked in the stadium UEFA had the power to sanction them with big fines and threats of expulsion. But not for what happened in Marseille. The president of the oil rich country that will host the 2018 World Cup is sending thugs to beat up women and kids for political reasons???Even the head of the FSB (the Russian FBI) was tweeting that he was proud of the Russian fans for standing up to English hooligans. Blatter should be put on a spitroast in hell for what he has done to the beautiful game. A blood soaked Marseille is a long way from the Brazilians beautiful sweeping passes and spectacular goals of the 1970s and 80s in those iconic yellow and gold tops. The threat of being booted out wasn’t needed for Russia as Putin’s people simply told the thugs to stop fighting and low and behold they did. Strange that. Russia finishing bottom of the group anyway meant the problem was over for now.
Russia were the best they had been for while in the qualifying to get to EURO 2016 and qualified second in their group behind Austria without a play-off for their 11th European championships. The group was weak though as Sweden were also in it and along with Austria all three out in the first stages here in France bottom of their perspective groups. Their best result in the Euros as Russia was as recent as 2008 with that third placed finish in the team powered by Zhirkov, Arsharvin, Zyryanov and Roman Pavlyuchenko, who all tanked badly soon after with big moves to big clubs. The suspicion was that particular Russian team’s performance was based on a doping culture and the team breaking up soon after because of, all four back in the Russian and Kazakhstan leagues now.
As the Soviet Union they were far more powerful in European football and won the inaugural European Championships in 1960 and then making two of the next three finals and fourth place in-between although only four teams in them. The Cold War intensified and they failed to qualify for three championships in a row before returning as the CIS in 1988 for the 8 team format and straight into The Final but losing 2-0 to Holland. If the doping fears were conjecturing in recent years they were almost certainly state doped FACT in the 1960s and 70s at the height of that Cold War.
Russia’s World Cup record followed a similar Cold War pattern. The Soviets did not enter the first five championships and then made for straight Q/Fs in 1958 to 1970, finishing fourth in the 1966 World Cup. After Pinochet executed his people in the Chile national stadium the Russians were disqualified from the 1974 qualification after not agreeing an alternative ‘suitable’ venue in the South America country for the play-off. With Russia gone Chile were given a walkover to West Germany but eliminated in the first round. The Soviets failed to make World Cup 78 and performed progressively worse when they qualified for the next three World Cups. Oddly they have missed the last six World Cups.In the Olympics they took 2 gold’s and 3 bronze between 1956 and 1980. Oleg Blokhin was the man back then smashing 42 goals in 112 matches. Keeper Lev Yashin was their other notable world name
with 76 caps.
Star – Rachel McAdams
Genre – Romantic Comedy
Run Time – 123 minutes
Certificate – 12A
Country – U.K
Awards – 3 Wins & 9 Nominations
Amazon – £4.00DVD (Blue Ray £6.00)
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I think it’s fair to say Richard Curtis is stuck in a time warp when it comes to making movies and so fitting his latest is about time travel. Its upper middle-class comedies of manners or nothing with this guy. Well they do say write what you know. About Time star Rachel McAdams, on the other hand, can’t let time travel romcoms go, this, her third after the rather sickly sweet The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) and Woody Allen’s now rare return to for Midnight in Paris (2011).
I never really got into Four Weddings (tedious sitcom episodes stuck together) and the Notting Hill thing with Hugh Grant although Love Actually did have something for everyone and an enjoyable Christmas fairytale. It would be nice to see our premier comedy writer try something different and stretch himself. The Boat that Rocked was ok but again too niche to really draw n audience. He also wrote the tedious screenplay for the likewise Warhorse and the dreadful rehash script for Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason. Blackadder, of course, remains his masterpiece.
Domhnall Gleeson ... Tim
Rachel McAdams ... Mary
Bill Nighy ... Dad
Lydia Wilson ... Kit Kat
Lindsay Duncan ... Mum
Richard Cordery ... Uncle D
Joshua McGuire ... Rory
Tom Hollander ... Harry
Margot Robbie ... Charlotte
Will Merrick ... Jay
Vanessa Kirby ... Joanna
Tom Hughes ... Jimmy Kincade
Clemmie Dugdale ... Ginger Jenny
Harry Hadden-Paton ... Rupert
Mitchell Mullen ... Mary's Father - Fitz
For his 21st birthday gift young graduate Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) gets the very unlikely gift from his father (Bill Nighy) that all the men of the family can time travel. He has done it, his grandfather has done it and so on and so. But they can only go back in time. Dad say just screw up your hands and wish yourself back to a point in time.
Tim is having none of that but after losing out on a kiss at a New Years party he wished himself back to just before that moment. Much to his amazement it works and he is back at the party and kisses the girl. What lad wouldn’t use time travel to get girls?
When sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) super pretty best friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie) arrives at the big house for the summer he decides to deploy his time travel skills trying to get her to fall for him. But women are complex creatures and even time travel can’t crack this blonde.
Tim is now a trainee lawyer in the city and after a night out falls for pretty and quirky Mary (Rachel McAdams), a book reader. Bumbling away like a young Hugh Grant he uses his time travel skills to work out how to win her heart. She has just met someone so he will have to go. It seems to work and soon madly in love. But a chance meeting with Charlotte and the offer of the sex he never got back at the big house he realizes his time travel skills could drag him away from the girl he really loves. What to do. Perhaps use the time travel skills for good? When he finds out dad has cancer now maybe the time…
It’s so hard to make a boring movie about time travel but Richard Curtiss has achieved it. Diabetics be warned as there is extra sugar and sweet here. We have seen this film a hundred times before and it never gets any better.
Curtiss can’t resist the signature foppish bumbling clean cut upper middle-class lead and cutesy girls orbiting around him, Domhnall Gleeson doing the best he can with the tepid and inoffensive script. The chemistry with him and Macadam’s is like that of a bomb factory in Baghdad. Nighy texts in his now perfunctory old cad has-been performance again and not much more to talk about other than him. It all ends up about as funny as the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and Curtiss not exactly throwing his cast comedy life preservers with good belly laughs.
The time travel thing ends up inconsequential as it used just to encourage more romcom snogging and thumbling as Rachel McAdams delivers that familiar giddy America romantic comedy lead when a handsome posh Brit is about. Obviously there is more appeal to this type of film to a bigger audience casting an American love interest in a British movie but she is no Julia Roberts and he no Hugh Grant. You don’t want New Zealand born Curtis to be a busted flush on the big screen but I much prefer another series of Blackadder to his candy box romances. But when has a British comedy ever portrayed the British upper middle-class as anything but bumbling educated people who live in stately homes with no randy sex.
This film will appeal to girls looking for romance in a movie and they will definitely get more from it than I did. The soundtrack is already on disc before he made the movie and you can tick of familiar scenes in all his other movies, very Bridget Jones at times. On the whole it was just disappointing and tame from a man who really should be doing better.
Imdb.com – 7.8/10.0 (198,432votes)
Rottentomatos.com –70% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 55% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Book – 3/4
Rolling Stone –‘Dragged down by whimsy and sentiment, About Time feels like it weighs a ton’.
The New Yorker –‘It raises the inherent implausibility of the rom-com narrative to a new level’.
Financial Times –‘About Time absolutely seethes with the sheer aggression of Curtis's commitment to happy endings, family values and principles’.
Chicago Reader –‘Writer-director Richard Curtis (Love Actually) papers over any disturbing subtext with wall-to-wall cuteness -- even the sex jokes sound as if they were lifted from greeting cards’.
Village Voice –‘To get to the parts that are un-terrible, you have to suffer through the most idiotic plot developments and ill-defined characters imaginable’.
Toronto Star –‘It likely won't top the box office of such previous Curtis enchantments as Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral, but like most soppy encounters, it'll do’.
To experience the real EU positives and negatives towards Britain you need to try and get work from - or work for - an employment agency. The industrial ones are packed full of Eastern Europeans here and so are the factory floors they fill. If you are British and an industrial temp in this country you will work with few British temps these days. I worked industrial ten years ago and it was mostly British workers. Now it’s about 70/30 overseas. The Remain campaigners say the Brits will no longer do these jobs purely on the basis they are now mostly done by Eastern Europeans. Well I would say that’s not fair and it’s the pure numbers of Eastern Europeans coming here is why they dominate the factory floor. There are plenty of guys and girls to pick up the rifle for what is very boring work and they are no more likely to work harder or enjoy the work anymore than Brits.
Mass labor immigration allows for employers to drive down wages and conditions and Mike Ashley’s warehouse and those zero hours deals are a sign of things to come if we stay in the E.U. If you are a working class lad your life is dead-end jobs and employment agencies and you are now competing with most of Europe for those jobs. My friend Paul runs an industrial employment agency and he says they employ Eastern Europeans over British people for industrial and catering work as they are easier to get rid of before their time served holiday pay entitlement arrives. Brits will have better access to local services to contest reasons for temp contracts ending. Some Eastern Europeans bite back by ending contracts before they have to pay tax under P46 rules and so get a full rebate when they leave the U.K for a holiday as they bang in the form. Couple that with the fact they spend most of their money in Polish shops here and you can see not that much is going into our economy. 70% of E.U students in the United Kingdom are behind with paying back their student fees and loans and 505 have paid nothing. It’s too expensive to collect it abroad. I’m not convinced they add as much to the economy as the Remain tells us.
I have various jobs in the summer with my brother and families businesses and try to temp in the winter. There is simply no way of being guaranteed employment in the industrial sector anymore so I go for office work. I don’t enjoy office work but they tend to employ more locals and the more articulate. I speak fluent English. I have used all the agencies over the years and have been employed by most of them in my hometown of Northampton. Office Angles was the last one I worked for and so used. The unwritten rules still apply that if you turn down more than two jobs in a row you wont be asked back and if you leave contracts early twice in a row you wont be asked back. It’s pretty cutthroat. Baring in mind 78% of all jobs are now advertised through third party websites and employment agencies you have no choice but to use them. Days of pitching up to the high street agency with your CV and best clobber is over, 50% of agencies closing down on the high street or moving online in the last 5 years. It’s less stressful joining online though.
Northampton has a high street Office Angels and the girl’s very polite and honest inside. You have to buzz to get in (which I hate) and yes it is all girls inside. The sexist name of the agency has been allowed and does put guys off going in there, a bit like Sheila’s Wheels in car insurance. If there was one called ‘Blokes Builders’ Employment agency I’m guessing the feminist would be up in arms. Not that I want to see feminist upper arms. They are not in every town but Northampton a pretty big place so we have one. We do have a lot of head offices here due to our central location near the M1. Barclaycard and Nationwide have their head offices here so always work there.
I’m sure the girls that work there are well briefed on who the client wants and what sex, age and ethnicity etc. Yes, clients and staff in these places are not supposed to be prejudice but they have a code for that to. Ask anyone who works for an agency. I’m guessing they have a code for no Eastern Europeans now. Your CV has to be right though and so does your bull**it in these places. There are various ways people will tell you how to write a CV but for me I write it as if I am the employer and what I would like to see on it. Keep your age off it, boost your postal address to a better area code and big up your previous employment, skills and experience. They hate gaps like they hate old people. Get the interview first before you have to back up your lies. If the boss or HR person likes you in the interview and thinks you are competent you will get the job. If it’s an office job being young and attractive helps. Male bosses like sexy secretaries still.
My general visits to Office Angels have been and are inquiries for jobs on the window. They didn’t keep me waiting for an answer when I got up the stairs and again polite. If those fliers on the window are preprinted they are generally generic ads to get people in and the job doesn’t actually exist or they are jobs that did exist but filled and not taken down yet. Either way don’t expect them to have that particular job. If they tell you its gone and don’t suggest another job you could do or ask about your skills in general then they probably don’t want you. That’s goes for on the phone to. If they offer you their card to email your CV in or join online then fair enough. Most agencies prefer you to join online now. It’s easier for them and they use online algorithms to job match you. I prefer to go into the office so to face-to-face them and try and get them to like me. Believe it or not but that is possible.
I did get some work with them this winter but only lasted four weeks. It was basic admin work in an office full of crumpet for 20 hours per week so a big disappointed to lose it. They offered me another job but it was shift and out of town and I had no car and so I turned it down. They have not called since although I haven’t shown my face lately to actually say I am still looking. It’s always a good idea to pop in and so you are looking when you are registered. I will pop back in the autumn.
On the whole I would say they are perfectly fine as an agency. They are all the same if the truth be told and all scraping over the same contracts. Agencies do talk to each other so you can be blacklisted. Their website I don’t use much but again straight forward with current vacancies and an online application area. They also give that CV advice and other tutorials. The application to join is not too long and they ask for you to tag your CV at the and of the questions about education and skills etc. With a cup of tea in your hand it takes twenty minutes. Online is where we live now and so get used to it.
There are piano players and there are piano movers.
The European Championships has changed a lot over the decades and tries to keep pace with Europe’s expansion. But it has got a little bit too big of late and like the World Cup qualifiers you have a lot of mismatches from the minnows. Even Israel are allowed into it now. As late as 1992 there were only 8 teams in the European Championship and just 16 until this year’s expansion to 24. There was only four in the first few tournaments in the 1970s. There were not even 24 countries in Europe twenty years ago, let alone enough for this event. But TV contracts and cash for votes talk and now there are 24. This method was to insure the big six are in France for the finals but Holland’s absence notable, losing an extraordinary five games in the qualification group. It almost worked.
Inevitably the European Championship of hooliganism was running alongside and England quite literary ‘knocked out’ in the first round by a vicious national service trained ultra right wing Russian mob. Even the head of the Russian version of the FBI tweeted his respect for the thug’s military precision victory. It later transpired that the thugs were indeed sent by Putin for political reasons. This is the guy that will be protecting our fans in the World Cup in Russia two years from now?? To be fair England support abroad is often uncouth and violent and so no great loss to France if we are kicked out. I’m so ashamed when this happens, France on terror alert after all.
France, Italy and Spain are the only hosts to win the championship so far of the 14 tournaments. Hosts France could well win it. The greedy expansion from 16 teams to 24 may well produce a new winner though as the teams a lot more equally matched in the Euros now, hence the goals coming late in the match, 23% in the last ten minutes so for this tournament.
=Best teams after round one of the matches in 2016=
===Previous Winners and Runners Up===
Germany – Won 3 & 3 Runners up
Spain – Won 3 & 1 Runner up
France – Won-2
Italy – Won 1 (2 Runners up)
Russia – Won-1 (3 Runners up)
Chez – Won-1(1 Runner up)
Holland – Won-1
Denmark – Won-1
Greece – Won-1
Yugoslavia – 2 Runners up
Belgium – Runners up
Portugal –Runners up
===Winner this year?===
So we all know England have never won it, that memorable semi-final with the old enemy in 1996 the highlight. Eastern Europe dominated it after the War and then the title slowly rolling west, Germany making six finals and winning three and in four of the last seven finals. Spain, of course, are on for the hatrick this year and France in the mix for three titles right on the edge of Western Europe. But Germanys World Cup record is even better and so favorites for me. In fact they have placed in the top four in seven of the last ten World Cups with three wins and three finals.
2014 World Cup – Winners
2012 European Championship – 3rd
2010 World Cup – 3rd
2008 European Championship – Runners Up
2006 World Cup – 3rd
2004 European Championship – 10th
2002 World cup – Runners Up
2000 European Championship – 14th
They have to be the clear favorites and their arrogant style why. England went 1-0 up and played really well against Russia but couldn’t stop the equalizer in the 92minute. Germany went 1-0 up and scored a second in the 92 minute, attack the best form of defense and an example why they win all the time. They are arrogant and confident as a nation. The midfield with Muller in there is very powerful and Ozil picking out killer passes. The negative is that with no out and out striker they are not scoring the goals this time. Their defense may also be a weakness, losing two qualifiers for the first time in a long time in the qualification for France. They will miss Lahm
Winners in 2008
Winners in 2012
Winners in 1964
Spanish football has a cloud over it called performance enhancing drugs. The Spanish court has decided to take a closer look at the blood bags in Dr Fuentes office. Whether they will be allowed to open and tests them is another story. If they do they may find several significant Spanish footballers taking illegal substances in the last decade. That’s why they won’t want to open them. Its well know Spanish sport had no real issue with sports people doping over the years and not until 2008 did they officially start testing proper for banned substances. Growth hormone was certainly legal in Spanish football and the reason why Messi went to Barcelona. They agreed to pay for his course of jabs when he signed schoolboy forms. Ironically he became the world’s best player since Maradona because they didn’t work. But its perfectly feasible that wide spread untested doping allowed Spain’s youngsters to be ahead of the rest of the European nations and why they now win The Champions League and Europa League every other year and on for a hatrick of European Championships to go with their World cup win in 2010.
Players wise they still mess around with that often aimless ‘ticci tacci’ thing but without a stand out striker like David Villa it’s essentially a 4-6 formation and easier to defend, Spain squeezing past an average Czech side 1-0 in the opening game but battering play-off winners Turkey 3-0 next and going through the gears. I think teams have worked out how to deal with ‘ticci’ and so I can’t see Spain getting past the Quarter Finals here. The drugs story will be on their mind as they are being tested on the new biological passport this tournament and so anyone on anything before won’t be on it here and so under performance likely in extra time as we saw in the World Cup in 2014 when they crashed out in the group stages. They won nine out of ten games qualifying though so dangerous.
3rd in 1960 and 1996.
They look talent packed and Payet and Griezman doing the business for the 7 point Group A topping performance. It’s very much on track. Lots of energy and pace in the midfield will stretch everyone. Pogba is not quite their yet but maybe this tournament will get him there. Payet is shaping up to be the player of the tournament. As one of three previous hosts to win it they have to be one of the top two favorites this year with all their games in the Parc de Paris and plenty of rest time in the knockout stage. Their weakness maybe they are French and arrogant and maybe under pressure and a goal down they will crumble. But twice winners are on for three here.
Runners up in 2000-2012
1988 Italy 3rd
1980 Italy 4th
Not anywhere near as successful at the Euros with just one win back in 1968 to their 4 World Cups over the decades you expect Italy to grind their way into the tournament, as they did in 2012 to make the final. They wont concede goals and, like England, penalties their problem. They are now unbeaten in 50 qualifiers in both World and Euros. They won their first game well pressing on their 1-0 lead to double it in injury time over the scrappy Belgium’s the way Germany did and so in the right frame of mind. A good 2-0 second match will see them top the group and play a minnow next round. But Semi Final and no more for me as they just don’t have the stand out players they used to and a goal scorer.
3rd in 1972
Belgium had a great team in the 1980s as they mimicked Dutch Total Football. But their players fell away in the Premier League this season. The Champions League introduced Bio Blood Passport testing in 2014-15 and the English teams who played in the Champions League that season have been poor this year in the Premier League. Chelsea were miles off it with an underperforming Eden Hazzard and United nowhere near with Fellaini. I just have a bad feeling about them. They have this Premier League eleven in the squad but they were poor against Italy. They beat a poor Ireland side but not winners for me.
Finalist in 2004
There is no doubt Ronaldo has made Portugal stronger and any team with a world class player can win a major championship. He has six goals in three tournaments and headed for the record nine in his fourth. But he is rarely the team man and so games are often won on his sporadic quality and killer ball or lost because he didn’t pass it or fluffed a penalty. The opponents know they always pass it to CR7 with Portugal and so can contain him. His and Nani’s talent alone will get them to the last eight but no further.
Semi-Finals in 1996.
It’s the first tournament in a very long time that England have impressed in the groupstages. I think the safety net of third place qualifying in the groups has freed up England to play some football. And that confidence could send them deep into it. We can all real of those shocking first matches. But here they had purpose and pressed forward and kept the ball for most of both games, unlucky to draw with Russia and resilient against Wales in the 2-1 comeback, the first time England has ever won a match in a major championship from being a goal down. Bringing on Rashford and Vardy for the gormless Kane and the headless chicken Sterling has ignited this young team and they could go long here. They don’t look like thy want to play for penalties anymore. As an England fan all you ask is they compete and show passion. When those things are absent you know they are scared. Fear for me is when players tell themselves it doesn’t matter if they lose the match so they mentally don’t have to win it.
If Denmark and Greece could win it then why not someone like Croatia or even Iceland? Of course that won’t happen with 32 teams but we could have a surprise semi-finalists getting lucky in a penalty shootout along the line. Wales and N.Ireland performed admirably for their wins and Bale one of the best in the world. Little Iceland’s fabulous draw against Portugal and another against Hungary suggest they may scramble past the group stages. Only 300,000 people live in Iceland and 10% of them are in France. There are only 50,000 adult males in Iceland to pick your team from. Slovakia has two excellent players in Hamsik and Weiss in attack and could also move forward to the last 8.
===Wont do much===
The Eastern Europeans of Hungary, Romania (out), Albania, Russia, Poland, Ukraine (out) were always going home early and I expect them to. Hungary won a match against fancied Austria but I can’t see those two progressing much. Europeans Rep Ireland, Turkey and Sweden look very negative and never more than one goal in them. Switzerland are in that Hungary and Czech Republic category of winning a match but not much more to come.
===Semis for me===
Although cheques are still popular and the bank has failed to get rid of them to save money they are becoming harder to use. If you go in your local bank you are harangued by the staff member to see what you are up to in the bank and asked to post your cheques and things through that hole in the wall instead of having it cashed in at the desk. I want to physically make sure the money has gone in there and then and so go to the desk. Who knows when they will get round to it in the back office? Those machines and lady are not for your convenience but to wean you off paper transactions and on to contactless payments and credit and debit payment online. That, of course, puts you increasingly into bank fraud territory and you can bet your life the banks will make it increasingly hard for you to get your money back if you are robbed online. When you do suffer online or cash point fraud the call center ask you lots of questions to work out your and their liability in the fraud. Weak virus protection on your phone or laptop could bar you from a reimbursement.
The advantage of the cheque is it’s not that vulnerable if intercepted in the post paying your credit card monthly etc as its hard to change the ‘pay to’ line but increasingly credit cards company have stopped you paying by cheque to run it down. I changed to MBNA card for a low interest balance transfer deal and quickly noticed the cheque payment option with the tear off slip wasn’t there. I had to finally succumb to the more vulnerable internet banking over the website to pay my bill. I hate doing online transactions as my brother works for bank security and he knows how unsafe the system is to fraud.
The credit card website is fairly simple to use and well set out. The advantage to online payment is you can leave it to the last and not worry about cheques in the post being lost or late. The problem with those online payments is internet speed. If you have a bad connection it’s hard to get your payment through and whether you got it through. If you have no home internet then you really are stressed. It’s very easy to leave your stored log in details on someone else’s computer or public WIFI.
With poor internet you see ‘pending’ payment and then you check 48 hours later and its still pending because you couldn’t confirm it due to your internet speed. You then pay another minimum payment out of panic and suddenly the two or three payments all go through and you have paid more than you wanted to. At least with a cheque it’s a ‘fire and forget’ missile as the correct amount of money is on the way and you have your excuses lined up if they don’t get it on time.
Once you move to a new card the offers increase. The days of going in to meet the branch manager to get a loan are over. If you have a good credit rating then balance transfers and cash advances at interest free rates go through easily. I can get 500 quid cash into my account with MBNA credit card with no interest until 2017 with the press of a button. No Wonga style rip off interest rates here! It’s very tempting. The credit card account starts to look like your bank account if you do and in the red you plunge. I don’t do debt but here is the thing - if you increasingly can’t pay by cheque you tend to pay online and that exposes you to that generous credit line.
It’s simple to pay your card online with MBNA - with a good internet connection. You have the tick box pay the minimum payment balance or monthly option or tap in a set amount you want to pay, or go by monthly direct debit. You tap in your bank card details to pay it through and of the money goes. Make sure you confirm the payment so have your lap top screen at full size. Also run your virus protection first and clear history and cookies, before and after. A green tick comes up and you can forget about that particular bill for another month. Warning, once you do internet pay the credit card company they MAY stop sending you the postal bill so you then have to calendar your pay by date by logging in to see when you need to pay monthly.
Joining up to the MBNA website is pushed on your big time but pretty straight forward. You need to make up a log in name and a set amount of numbers digit code. Don’t lose it, and don’t use your real name in anyway in your banking name. Online fraudsters track your cookies and the websites you use and can put two and two together to identity hack you. It’s risky just writing about this product online. Our bank details are sold on the dark web every day. Limit your online banking and credit card stuff. If you regularly online bank and buy online you have a lifetime 40% chance of losing money to fraud. Its not wise online baking on your mobile phone as we all lose or break phones and they have to be returned or dumped. Hacker can get into your phones real quick and clean you out. The jails are full and these villains are out and about stealing phones for this exact reason. If your phone passwords and stuff are on autofill you are done for.
Once in to the MBNA website you can navigate easily and access various transaction histories and offers to try. If your payment doesn’t go through don’t panic and think your bank account has been emptied. I rang the call center and it was in India to moan about payments not going through. I went through that dreadful automated what service you require press One or Two etc or speak loud and clear nonsense and ended up with Vikram. He told me I had paid and I could refund some if I felt I overpaid. I didn’t believe him as the website was still showing pending. I checked my bank balance in town and that was fine so the money had gone to MBNA in some form. With a week to go I’m still not sure I paid my monthly, even though he said I had. I don’t want to spoil my weekend stressing about it so will check again on Monday. If you don’t want to go through the website and experience you can just pay credit card companies or other banks through their sort and account code. You just ring up your bank and pay over the phone to the credit card companies sort code and account number and this protects your three digit number on the card more against keylogger viruses. Or you can dig up the postal payment address for cheques and hope it gets through that way…
Star – F1
Genre – Documentary > Sport
Run Time – 112 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – Nominations 1
Amazon – £5.93 DVD
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I was amazed to see Formula 1 has recently signed a multimillion deal with Heineken Beer, especially as they have banned cigarette sponsorship in recent decades. One corner at last weeks Canadian Grand Prix was as green and emblazoned as a tacky St Patrick’s Day pub promotion. Drinking a six pack of beer behind the wheel has to be far worse than a fag at the wheel! What they haven’t banned is excellence on the track and characters off it. Formula One is packed full of attractive glamour, girls, shunts and heroes, and nearly all of those packed into this enjoyable documentary. But the sport is very dangerous and a lot of the greats are no longer with us, only a handful of drivers and the still pretty wives polishing the trophies to tell their stories. From the playboys of Hunt and Hill to the genius of Senna and Fangio here is a film that looks at safety and fete that would dictate their careers and often short lives. In the late 1970s the drivers had a one-in-four chance of death every season.
There has been a few decent Formula One films of late with the rather excellent Oscar winning ‘Senna’ and the surprisingly good fun Rush, starring the oddball muscle bound choice of Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt, to name but two. The documentary ‘Life on the Limits’ maybe rather perfunctory in its appeal and construction and not up there with those two but still worth a look if you want to remember the good old days compared to the sterilized and over safe modern Formula One, the pretty dumb blonde of modern sport these days.
Michael Fassbender ... Narrator
Through talking heads, archive footage and narrator Michael Fassbender we explore just how far the sport has come from its somewhat ‘clubby’ days of the 1950s when cigarette smoking greasy Latin’s won it in Ferraris and Mercedes, that of Ascari, Fanjio and Farini. In those days it was simply for 40 something playboys who would meet and race for a trophy and the prettiest girl in town, and champagne if the mood took them. It was the dream boys club and six times World Champion Fanjio was the king. The guys raced for bravado and not money and the fear of death multiplied the thrill of life. As late as the 1970s the sport even paid television to broadcast it!
After some of the slightly speeded up black & white footage of those cars with the big steering wheels and coupe cockpits and so rolling over at the corner we got onto the sexy sixties where British and Australian teams and drivers ruled and only Phil Hill of America breaking that domination in the swinging sixties, drivers like Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and the great Jim Clark the legends. The first interesting fact I learnt was the cars were color coded in F1 back then with green being British and blue being Italian etc, beautiful BRMs and Ferraris growling around the twisting tracks.
We then explore the contribution of the great Colin Chapman, who moved engineering on a pace in the sport and made the cars faster and more aerodynamic, producing Lotus World Champions and Indianapolis winners. That speed accelerated the deaths of the greats and when Jim Clark died then suddenly the drivers realized just how vulnerable they were. Drivers like Jacky Iykx and Scotland’s Jackie Stewart knew the drivers had to change things as they and the cars were getting too fast for the antiquated tracks and so formed a drivers union to push for safety. If you flew off in Belgium you would hit trees and at Nuremburg you brushed rock faces at the side of the 17m track. In the 1968 F1 season there were four deaths in four months and two burnt alive.
The sideburns seventies bought an eclectic mix of champions from all over the world, Britain’s James Hunt to Emerson Fittipladi of Brazil to Jody Schechter of South Africa in Ferraris, Tyrell’s and Lotus. It was the time of Bernie Ecllestone’s increasing control and that radical car design, from huge and silly aerofoils to the bizarre six - wheel Tyrell. One driver thought he would go faster on the straight without his wing and instructed his pit crew to remove it as they started breaking off during the race anyway. But you can’t go around corners at speed without down force and he was dead 17 minutes later. There is plenty of brutal crash footage in the film. Sadly, although spectators won’t admit it, many went to the races to see the shunts and death. They, to, felt more alive when witnessing horrible death. When Roger Williamson was burnt alive on live TV the spectators remained transfixed and couldn’t look away.
The British cars were winning in the 1980s but not the British drivers, Senna and Prost the stars. It’s noticeable that since we joined the European Union proper its Germany and Italian cars that took over, just two British World Champions and cars in 15 years now. But safety had improved radically, in car design and tracks, the terrible death of Senna and Ratzenburger in 1994 a thing of the past. The next death would be Jules Bianchi, ironically hitting a recovery crane that was part of the new safety measures twenty years later. The parents are suing on healthy & safety grounds and the sport along way from its crazy reckless days of the 1950s to the 1970s that would never even consider lawyers. In those days many drivers wouldn’t wear seat belts as they wanted to be thrown clear of burning wreckage.
I enjoyed this enough to recommend. Yes you have seen most of the crashes and triumphant footage and know the stories but still an interesting watch with new facts to learn. I used to go to the races in the 1980s like Silverstone, Zandvort and Belgium and great to bring back those exciting memories. If you have been to an F1 race you know it’s the center of the world at that time and place. Its still amazes me to see the brave and somewhat stupid drivers were in those black & white days flying off at the corners and many being decapitated. Thankfully you don’t see that stuff. Seeing the modern cars flying through the air crashes like Martin Brundell in Australia in 2001 and Alonso this year amazes you even more on just how safe these cars are. Today the sport is simply a rotating advertising board you see in town centers.
Fassbender’s narration is as Irish as ever although doesn’t really work in context of the film. All the big name drivers still alive or racing today or recently racing add their talking head opinion and comes across they do still miss the old days when their was real risk and it wasn’t all about money. You can see in Lewis Hamilton’s twinkly eyes and smile that he would have loved the 1980s up against Senna and Lauda. The thrill of motorsport is that speed and being on the edge and then surviving going over the edge to fight another day. Girls are turned on big time by men who take risk and in the public eye and live for the day. You also find these men stop winning when they have kids and get married with mortgages as the sport is a very selfish one and that’s where winning comes from.
Its not just any old footage stuck together and there is structure here. In ‘Senna’ the filmmaker skillfully puts it together with no narration and that works but here it’s a respectful tone as you see death and serious injury in its context. The Soundtrack is cool and you can’t argue with the presentation of that old footage. The only negative is it lack that new material the Senna film had and the drivers shown as two dimensional party boys attracted to pretty girls and laurels around their necks for being those simplistic alpha males, which they are clearly not. Formula One drivers are some of the fittest and most intelligent sportsmen in the world now.
Imdb.com – 8.0/10.0 (2,435votes)
Rottentomatos.com –84% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
Nothing annoys us more in this modern telecommunications world of having to pay £15 bloody quid every month for a land line! If you want home broadband you generally have to have the landline rental. Twenty years ago fair enough. We needed to receive and make calls this way. It was the main method. But not today. You can do most of that calling and receiving through messengers on your laptop and smartphones, and make those voice calls for free. We pay £15 for Virgin landline and £15 for Virgin broadband. They are effectively using the landline cost to subsidize their industry deals to attract new customers to broadband, not reward loyal ones. In BTs case they are hiking landline rents to subsidize their new cable TV channels, fellow providers following suit in cartel like behavior to keep this rip off landline lock going. I asked Virgin on Twitter about his mark up and they said if I rang the hotline they would see what they could do about this compulsory purchase of landline rent when you have their broadband. When I told them I had both and could they simply cancel the landline and let me keep broadband they ended the conversation. I guess that was a no.
So if we have to have and rent landline phones we may as well make the phones as mobile and convenient as possible. This model is a WIFI one and not the newest of models. It sits in a rechargeable base and has a regular sized number pad for an upright modern phone, but a small model all the same and designed to look like a mobile phone in size. It has minimal features like a button for the ‘Notebook’ to list saved numbers on the small LED display and left-right arrows to check the lists. It’s kind of like having a non smartphone from the 1990s. It is very basic. It has a button on the phone stand for Speaker Phone. That’s its best feature so you can’t accidentally press it like your deaf parents do and so mom on speakerphone and everyone aware of exactly that in the house and street. Yes, we have all been there.
The range isn’t too bad and you can sit in the garden to have chat on it. 30 meters is pushing it. Obviously if you have more than one handset in the house you have to enter the code to sync them all. If you don’t it will remain dead if it’s not the hub phone. Hub models tend to plug into the wall near your main BT socket. These codes are available online with an intelligent Google search. You tap them into the keypad with hashtag and enter.
Make sure you sit the phone neat into the charging bay or it won’t charge correctly. A red light should come on. Your phone will soon cut out soon after its rung and you have picked it up if the power is low. If that’s happening to your phone regularly your battery is on the way out. This model has the smaller rechargeable and extractable ‘off the shelf’ AAA size and you can replace them via most retail stores as they are not one of those welded in jobs. You also need the red light to come on after you have finished the call so the phone stays connected. When you get a lot of those robot junk calls it can stay connected to the junk callers and stop you receiving anymore calls as those junk dialer machines keep dialing you if you have not discounted.
So, on the whole a very basic handset that is ideal for your bedroom and kitchen. It’s small in the hand and simple to use. The lack of power keys on it make it more suitable for older people who tend to accidentally press things on them and so cut off the caller. But those older people will need spectacles as the keys are small. You need to keep it on charge as the battery get slow very quickly. Price wise is difficult as I got a free one with a credit card a while ago and you generally buy these as a set of two of three. It’s £19.99 on Amazon but none in stock.
I’m voting out of Europe!!! I have had an epiphany and stopped wavering. I’m proud of the Union Jack and it’s a little faded of late. But what does that have to do with a Mug, part from Boris Johnson? Well Lois Van Gaal is not the only one going to be out of Europe with a medium size cup to look at.l ol. No, it’s the Sports Direct bit that decided my vote. After Mike Ashley admitted in that parliamentary grilling that there were over 2000 temps in his warehouse in Derbyshire and just 200 full time staff I know this mass immigration thing had become less about freedom of movement and more about profiteering by greedy b*stards like him. To pile it high and cheap in his sports shops he had to exploit his workers to the last breath, and some of the tales coming out of his company just proved the bosses simply want Eastern Europeans for cheap labor and that’s the only reason they are being let in, to drive down everyone’s pay and conditions to near as possible to the minimum wage. Ashley’s zero hours contracts mean workers simply do more work in fewer hours for less money to make up for that minimum wage hike. A big fat cup like his belly won’t help my standard of living mate! Every time I look at that mug I’m ready to vote out!
So back to the Sports Direct Mug. Well it’s too big for a cup of tea and too upright for soup. Not that I ever drink soup. I’m not really sure what it’s for other than to advertise Sports Direct 24 Hour Delivery service, which is stamped on the side. Presumably you don’t get a refund it its one minute late. I actually got it free with an Amazon order ages ago and it’s currently assigned as my pen and pencil holder. It was going to be used for my coppers but the Quality Street jar has been deployed for that after being on golf ball duty. The Sports Direct mug also holds my betting slips.
It’s a white thick design with a big and bold Sports Direct logo on it in blue and red type - it’s suitably patriotic for my review. The handle is as big as Prince Charles ears and the base as round as a cat’s saucer for the milk. It’s quite heavy so if it’s full of coffee it’s hard to knock it over. Its no where near as cool as my official Tour De France yellow mug from the Yorkshire though. It’s certainly a cup designed for anything but practical liquid drinking although good for one of Betty Boop47 late night cocktails!! You don’t have to put pens and pencils in it guys. The Ciao glam girls like Kissme2070, Justarube and ANNExTHExFLAN can put their lippy and eyelash pencils in it or Secre can put her hippy things inside. Maybe Ist2thebar can stuff it with tongue twisting adjectives and Nar his collection of Hoover bag tightening rings. It’s big enough for all of those. If we lost the vote on Europe I will see how durable it is as its going out of the window.
Star – Chris Pine
Genre – Horror
Run Time – 124 minutes
Certificate – PG 13
Country – USA
Amazon – £3.43 DVD
Awards – 1 Nomination
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When Ebola left the jungle and got to a major African city I was pretty worried. It had a 90% kill ratio in the more intimate rural communities on the Continent and only out of mind because it had never escaped the jungle. The World Health Organization seemed unprepared for when Ebola finally left the jungle and because of that 15,000 black Africans died and 14,000 more infected with many debilitating side effects today. If it wasn’t for the incredibly brave actions of the charity Med San Frontier it could have really got going in the west. Soon as a white person died the WHO and governments got into gear and the illness was bought under control and pushed back into the jungle but make no mistake it was a lucky escape for Europe and America. The fatal illness is spread by levels of ignorance, poor sanitation and cultural practice and trying to control that was harder than controlling Ebola spread. Prepare yourself for the Marburg spread next, even more deadly than Ebola.
Because of the fear of the deadly virus threat we get a lot of movies about it, Outbreak being my favorite one on the Ebola scenario. It’s surprisingly accurate if a deadly virus like Ebola goes airborne. The zombie horror, of course, deals with the same fears and we are gripped as the disease spreads and then the film finds some sort of sanctuary and cure at the end. That’s where Carriers steers away from the norm and plays a different tune. Chris Pine is the lead in the film, this one released just before he made the big time with the rather excellent Star Trek re-launch as the young Captain Kirk.
• Lou Taylor Pucci as Danny
• Chris Pine as Brian
• Piper Perabo as Bobby
• Emily VanCamp as Kate
• Christopher Meloni as Frank
• Kiernan Shipka as Jodie
• Mark Moses as Doctor
A deadly infectious virus has spread worldwide and there is no cure, killing almost the entire population – an airborne philo virus. Two brothers, Brian (Chris Pine) and Daniel Green (Lou Taylor Pucci), along with Brian's girlfriend, Bobby (Piper Perabo), and Danny's school friend, Kate (Emily Van Camp), are heading to Turtle Beach in the Southwestern United States, a secluded beach motel where they believe they can wait for the viral pandemic to die out and so they can start a new life, place they know well from their youth.
They four follow a ruthless set of rules that they believe with keep them from becoming infected. On the road they meet a father, Frank (Christopher Meloni), and his infected young daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka), who are stranded in the middle of a baron deserted road due to their car running out of fuel. The girl is wearing a mask with blood on it and clearly infected. After the quartet speed away from them, their car breaks down. They have to return to Frank in order to steal his car at gunpoint. Frank pleads with them that he has herd there maybe a cure out there and persuades to take them to nearby high school that he has been travelling towards for three days that he believes there is a serum for the pandemic being developed. There is indeed a doctor (Mark Moses) there but the experiments clearly not going well. The town is deserted apart from a few heavily masked survivalist it’s not looking good for anew life at the beach.
The blurb and reviews online talked this one above the Plimsole Line in the genre so I gave it a go. Alas it’s nothing special and instantly forgettable and not one I can recommend. It’s OK and nothing more. It has to be good for me to tell you to go see. It did a poor $5 million bucks and a genre you have to be big budget on these days to make money. The filmmakers decided to deploy the low budget approach and locations to escape the need for so many extras and if you do that you have to have strong writing and characterization. They didn’t have that either. You just don’t feel on edge or gripped at any point.
The acting is a bit cheesy and irritating as Chris Pine over-cooks his obnoxious jock brother role and the younger brother goes all Jessie Eisenburg. The girls are two dimensional skirt that need protecting when they should have been more. It’s annoying as this idea had potential but it was wasted. The jeopardy is the standard ‘how will the four will/get infected and is there a cure’ type thing. You never really care for the quartet and don’t care if they do get infected, the distraction of the cute young girl with the bug becoming your only sympatric feelings here. It just feels like a post Walking Dead idea and the fact the film stayed on the shelf for 10 years is probably because of TV doing this stuff so much better now.
Imdb.com – 6.0/10.0 (35,130votes)
Rottentomatos.com –% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
Sci – Fi Weekley –‘It's like Zombieland, but without the laughs . . . or the zombies’.
London Evening Standard -The movie has as much depth as the single piece of paper on which the script was obviously written.
Reel Film Reviews –‘An awfully familiar premise that's employed to lukewarm (yet watchable) effect by filmmakers Alex and David Pastor...’
Empire Magazine –‘A moody, engaging end-of-the-world horror-drama, if a bit too apocalypse-lite’
Time Out –‘This thoughtful, low-key exploration of our darker survival instincts is too conventional and unfocused to fully engage our emotions’.
Daily Telegraph –‘ Sadly it loses track of its own best ideas, pledging itself to a dreary set of surviving characters whose choices carry no charge’.
Film Critic.com – ‘engaging despite its downbeat message and lack of zombie action’.
Daily Mirror –‘ Very much horror-lite, here's a movie crying out for more claret to ramp up the sense of dread. Still, when dealing with the awful life-or-death decisions the survivors face, it's grimly effective’.
I think it’s fair to say the new Top Gear launch has caused a lot of derision. But, as usual, the media are having the fans opinion for them and slaughtering the show on their behalf. I have found reaction to it is mixed on social media and nowhere near as bad as they are saying. I wasn’t over excited with the Sunday night show so far but understand what Chris is up against. Fans have already called for Jensen Button and David Coulthard – amongst others – to take over as host. American viewing figures are down and only 2.5 million here, below Antiques Roadshow, losing a third of its audience from the first new episode.
Whether Clarkson should have been fired or not doesn’t hide the fact the old series had become tired and predictable and Jeremy had run out of ideas. He couldn’t be himself anymore and make those risky comments his core audience tuned in for and so a dead man walking. Anyone in the media knows that feeling in the new millennium. He gave his mainly white and middle aged audience what they wanted and you just can’t do that anymore. They switched over to the Antiques Roadshow. Evans is a good pick as he is much better drawing a more diverse audience and never intends to offend that way. Evans has chosen to try and continue the show in the same visual style with some lazy tweaks and that’s what people seem upset about. Chris is doing what he needs to do so to hold onto decent early audience numbers and so not frighten them away, and keep the BBC on side. They clearly wanted a new host so to cleanse the product and tone it down as far as that risky stuff goes. If he did his own thing from show one he may have lost that older audience he had as he pursues a younger demographic in the long run. It’s an entertainment show after all and if it was just a car show then the series would have been wrapped up years ago.
Episode one quickly flashed its BBC ‘PC’ credentials with the only black and Asian lads in the studio audience behind Chris when the camera was on him for the opening shot and then the staff of his local curry house was draped on a car for no particular reason other than look at these Asian people on the show! It was a cringing David Brent moment. The producers of the old Clarkson series would always put eye catching pretty girls over the shoulder of the presenters when the trio and guests sat on the sofa. That opening three minute segment had more black and Asian people on it than the whole of Jeremy Clarkson’s 13-year run!! In fact I think Lewis Hamilton is the only black person they ever had on. By having more than one celerity guest do the fastest lap challenge and the celebrities also doing the challenges out and about with Chris and co-host Matt Leblanc it also allows more room for a more inclusive and diversity friendly show. In my experience Asian lads love cars and speed and so a new audience worth chasing.
Matt is there to hold on to the US audience as the show is syndicated around the world and so remain a huge earner for the BBC. Jeremy was pissing off a lot of those countries off with his near the knuckle and racial slurs and so had to go. The ‘slope’ comment, not the punching of his producer, got him fired. It didn’t help that his producer had a Turkish name either. Clarkson had run his cause and needed to keep upping the anti with those comments to generate publicity and so interest in his flagging show. Apart from that boorish but amusing pub banter side to Jeremy he is a good writer and motoring journalist and so the commentary and spoken word to camera on the road tests of the cars was excellent. Yes there one too many supercars that only he and his smug presenting team of James May and Richard Hammond could afford but every big show needs glamour. Even if I had a billion dollars I would not buy one of those garish big chunky two seaters.
The format is pretty samey after just two shows and Matt Leblanc likeable and safe as the second banana. There are seven presenters in total with most hidden on the after show Top Gear 2 thing on BBC3 online. All seven ticks the racial and gender spectrum. Sabine Schultz, the crazy German girl test driver from the old series, is one of the seven alongside, amongst others, Eddie Jordan, a white motoring journalist called Chris Harris who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page and a black guy that represents the audience panel on the show. They had to have a black guy and a woman to tick those BBC boxes. I’m glad it’s not Jodie Kidd. The men on the show would look tiny as she towers over them at 6ft.1.
As people have said the show looks the same. The car challenges out and about segments are quite long and clearly like that to avoid the sofa segments where the old Top Gear boys go in so much trouble with their comments. The fastest lap thing is half motor cross now and a good old Mini the reasonably priced car. Media tarts Damien Lewis and Gordon Ramsay have already been on to set a time. I expect the guest to be more diverse this season. I hope we will see Eddie in the studio and some new things later in the series. So far it’s looking very predictable without the Clarkson naughtiness.
So what have the Somalis ever done for us? Well, there’s the drug quat, high unemployment, internet cafes and the phone case shop! Every market and highstreet in Britain has a Somalia bloke selling covers of all colors and sizes for our phones, tablets and phablets. And we need these babies too. As we all know the glass screen (known as the ‘digitizer’) break real easy when we first get our phones and tablets as they slip out of your hands real easy. They can even crack when you are taking them off to get at the battery.
First you need to get a generic plastic back cover for your phone to protect the camera and screen edges. These give you a better grip on the phone and help to reduce the screen shatter, often happening when the phone lands on its edge. You then need a wallet cover. It may not look cool and your friends can’t identify how cool your new phone model is but it doesn’t look cool with a smashed screen. EVERYBODY drops their phone. It’s plugged into the charger everyday and who remembers the wire is still in the back of the phone on the bedside table when you scramble for it? Make sure you buy a durable phone is my advice. My little 4 inch screen HTC Desire 310 may have crap storage but it bounces and the screen doesn’t break. Apple, of course, have molded everything to stop you buying parts to fix screens and replace batteries with cheaper generic parts for their kit but that’s not the case with regular brands. I replaced the screen on my old Windowsphone with a generic screen purchased off Amazon for eight quid and a YouTube tutorial did the rest. It was fiddly though so I learnt my lesson and bought a wallet to avoid doing this regularly.
The HAMA make is simply that and no clue if it s top end or bottom end. But it does the job. The wallet is made of a leather outside and cardboard like material inside the two leather layers to keep it stiff. It also has some slots in the leather on the left side to place your bank card and gym membership etc in. It’s not advisable to pair up cards with phones if you online bank on your apps. Thieves will clean you out. I just use the slots for cards that cant UD me and my home address. Remember most defaults passwords for things like library cards are simple like 1234. I found a purse with 160 quid in it and managed to find the owners address by hacking their library card that had their address in it by simply typing 0000.
You slide the phone in on the right side of the wallet down a vertical slit that holds it in place. It won’t slip sideways or up and down and so on to the deck. Obviously there is a whole in the back for the camera and microphone to speak into so you need to center that up. It’s surprisingly secure in there and somewhat permanent. That rigidness is the one big problem with wallets – you can’t get the back cover of the phone of easily when you want to get at the battery and Sim card. You sometimes need to reboot your phone when it’s playing up and that means taking the battery out and then placing it back in again. When your phone hits the deck or you sit on it and it goes nuts or freezes up then off comes the wallet. Because you have to do this you may need to use double sided tape after a while to stick the phone into place in the wallet.
The HAMA has a mice little magnetic clasp that seals the wallet with a reassuring snap. They come in all colors and sizes. Sony and the rest will overcharge you for buying a Sony case or wallet so I would check places like Amazon Marketplace to get a god price. I paid a seven quid for mien with postage.
On the whole it’s done the job and using double sided tape was my idea to give the phone extra gumption in the wallet. They are all pretty much the same although the pink girl’s ones will have more storage inside. There is a slight rub on the screen from the other side of the wallet when closed and that can start apps and stuff on your screen. I am PAYG so turn it off in the wallet anyway to avoid losing data.
I think it’s fair to say that beer adverts are more tolerable than most TV commercials these days. That bloody Tesco one is driving me crazy! If it’s super cool Eric Cantona selling Stella Artois or the Aussie boys on the beach sipping Fosters we chuckle away. Whether it’s wise to be a French farmer now in a beer ad is another debate. Will Eric Cantona be burning tires on the motorway and throwing pig’s heads at the cops in the next advert campaign we wonder? But these beer adverts work and recent figures in Scotland suggest home drinking is increasing rapidly and so some evidence of. Before we had seen beer sales fall and pubs close because of the smoking ban and high alcohol prices but now that has stopped as cheap supermarket beer, wine and spirits has recovered the fall as punters are forced back into the home. An average of 10.8 litres of pure alcohol was sold per adult in Scotland last year – the equivalent of 41 bottles of vodka, 116 bottles of wine or 477 pints of beer, the statistics published by NHS Health Scotland show. It is the second year in a row that the figure has raised. Beer sales are 20% higher north of the border.
People, of course, are comforted by those adverts and no longer feel guilty about having beer and booze in the fridge. Even middle-class people have cans and bottles of beer and cider in their homes, and not just the student types. Men with hipster beards under panama hats wearing braces out and about with their cool girl friends in those cheesy Carlsberg adverts have persuaded the youth of the educated classes to get steamed up at home with the rest of us. You go out on a Saturday night now and nothing gets going until 1am as people stay in and get loaded and then come out at midnight for their 4 pound pints and chasers when they are merry and ready to boogie or chill.
The smoking ban destroyed the British pub and so that lost tax from lower beer and fag sales had to be recovered by the Treasury somewhere along the line. They tried putting up beer tax but even more pubs closed. It’s a paradox. All they can do now is push for the minimum pricing thing in supermarket takeout and claw back beer tax that way by raising VAT on alcohol or something. Food has helped keep the bigger chains profitable but they will soon come under pressure with year on year beer rises.
What beer adverts, of course, don’t want to show in their commercials is the fat blokes with tattoos and their even fatter female friends are the type of people more likely to drink their products and get unhealthy on them. Having a pint of real ale is almost an excuse to be unfit. It’s always attractive happy people running around in beachwear in the sun for Fosters ads though. In fact he only thing representative in their adverts is the Aussie stereotype. Anyone who has been to Australia will know they really are like that. All commercials that sell products that will make you fat always show thin and attractive people eating or drinking those products, and as a treat so not to make you feel too guilty. The irony is those actors and model wouldn’t get the advert job if they did look like regular working-class drinkers. They sell the armchair dream to stay home with a beer and remote in your hand and watch others excel and have fun while you pi** your life away.
Australian society is pretty classless - in many ways - and they do tend to drink at home or with a ‘barbie’ out back. Its noticeable how few bars there in the Aussie big cities compared to the U.K. I was in a bar in Melbourne and they simply closed it down and kicked us out at 10pm because not enough people drinking there. I can’t see that going down well in Britain.
The Fosters and Castlemaine adverts sell that Australian beach life to cold and cloudy Britain and we buy gallons of that dream. The adverts make us happy and so does the beer. All beer adverts most scream happy to regular blokes or they won’t buy into the brand. Men are never that good looking in beer ads and the girls always pretty. If you drink this in a bar or club lads you will get off with a petty girl. The reality is you come home every Saturday night without a girl and thirty quid less. The recent Fosters ad campaign did exactly that as men from Great Britain rang up the two slackers in the beach hut and asked for advice to solve socially awkward moments that single men suffer. I beer will solve al your problems. The ads subliminal message is you are a loser mate and just get merry at home and don’t worry about ever meeting someone. I actually quite like Fosters and wish they would bring back Fosters Premium that was as good as their adverts.
Star – Mathew McConaughey & Woody Harrelson
Genre – Crime > Drama
Run Time – 8 x 50 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Golden Globes – 4 nominations
Emmys – 10 wins & 3 nominations
Awards – 27 Wins & 52 Nominations
Amazon – £12.00 DVD (Blue Ray £15.99)
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In the new millennium the American TV stations started buying up struggling movie studios and so becoming conglomerates. Today some TV series are as high end and expensive as many Hollywood movies. And as TV now had control over the movies then why not use their movie stars to sell TV? In the old days TV was always seen as second rate to the top actors and the movies was the place to be. Not no more. In those same older days you would only buy a British or American TV series on video or DVD after you have seen it on TV but now you buy it before it comes on TV, the case with True Detective. Tons of American shows are arriving here unseen and they make for great viewing.
Series one of True Detective kicked off with an extraordinarily high rating on Imdb of 9.1, more than Breaking Bad and The Wire. That was reason enough for me to buy it on Amazon. But I am always wary of crime detective series and tend to ignore the American and British ones as they always end up cliché. The Wire was brilliant but apart from that nothing that has really stood it unless you class Breaking Bad in that genre. Detective shows tend to be packed full of that cliché and machismo that’s what seems to be the appeal.
Matthew McConaughey ... Detective Rust Cohle (8 episodes, 2014)
Woody Harrelson ... Detective Marty Hart (8 episodes, 2014)
Michelle Monaghan ... Maggie Hart (8 episodes, 2014)
Michael Potts ... Detective Maynard Gilbough (8 episodes, 2014)
Tory Kittles ... Detective Thomas Papania (8 episodes, 2014)
J.D. Evermore ... Detective Lutz (6 episodes, 2014)
Dana Gourrier ... Cathleen (6 episodes, 2014)
Madison Wolfe ... Audrey Hart (6 episodes, 2014)
Kevin Dunn ... Major Ken Quesada (5 episodes, 2014)
Joe Chrest ... Detective Demma (5 episodes, 2014)
Dane Rhodes ... Detective Favre (5 episodes, 2014)
Alexandra Daddario ... Lisa Tragnetti (4 episodes, 2014)
Tony Molina Jr. ... Detective (4 episodes, 2014)
Meghan Wolfe ... Maisie Hart (4 episodes, 2014)
Glenn Fleshler ... Errol Childress (3 episodes, 2014)
Michael Harney ... Steve Geraci (3 episodes, 2014)
Erin Moriarty ... Audrey Hart (3 episodes, 2014)
Jim Klock ... Detective Ted Bertrand (3 episodes, 2014)
Garrett Kruithof ... Detective Jimmy Dufrene (3 episodes, 2014)
Lili Simmons ... Beth (2 episodes, 2014)
Brad Carter ... Charlie Lange (2 episodes, 2014)
It’s the mid 1990s and detective Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Detective Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) of the Louisiana Police Department have teamed up on a murder case. A woman named Dora Laing has been ritually and brutally killed in a field with her head cut off and replaced with animal antlers.
The detectives quickly develop leads, Cohle soon pi**ing off local dignitaries with his abrasive and aloof detecting style, including his partner. When Hart invites Cohle to his house to get to know his wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) and kids he turns up drunk. Cohle is a loner in his ways and one of them is drinking.
We regularly flash forward 17 years during the 8 episodes as both detectives are much older and out of the force and being questioned by police about the Laing case they worked on back in 1995. The cops believe one of them may be involved, even though a man was arrested and jailed at the time and the killings believed to have stopped.
Hart and Cohle are both damaged in their own way. Hart can’t resist cheating on his wife and also likes a drink and confirmed atheist Cohle not exactly fun to be around in the Deep South Bible Belt. But they are good detectives and soon discover a chilling link to a chain of pedophile and child and adult murders along the bayous. Whoever killed Lang has killed before and they have help in high places, links to local cops, judges and politicians…
This is not the 17th best TV series ever made regardless of the Imdb.com’s bizarre rating. Like any detective bromance its packed full of gravel voice cliché, loner hard drinking divorced cops and meandering plots waiting to be solved. McConaughey, with his Benedict Cumberbatch hair and aloof obnoxious detecting, mumbles his way through the 8 episodes spouting profound things that both annoy Hart and me. Harrelson has chemistry with his real life friend away from the cameras but make no mistake, without them there is nothing much more here. The plotting and writing is what you would expect in movie and this feels more like a movie than a TV series.
It’s not so much the excitement and anticipation of wanting to see the next episode that gets you through this particular boxset but the hope the next episode will be more entertaining. There is only so much flickering neon and moody slow boiler philosophizing about life you can take around the God-fearing rednecks straight from central casting. What I liked about The Wire was it was original and put all points of view from every side, from the police to the villains and the corrupt political system they all operate in. With Breaking Bad it was just original and smart packed full of fully rounder characters but here the women are peripheral and weak and it becomes that straightforward bromance Americans love so much.
Cool tunes to end the episodes are very familiar now with boxsets and plenty of smoking to sell those cigarettes to teenagers. If you want to drawl at the handsome macho leads then you will enjoy this but if you want the sophistication of Sherlock then this is not for you. The slow pace and macho mumbling kind of distracts from what is very average detective story. It has a good look and feel though and lessons learnt from Breaking Bad there but as far as detective series goes its nothing special. I don’t think I will be watching the second season in a hurry.
Imdb.com – 7.0/10.0 (votes)
Rottentomatos.com –87% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 87% critic’s approval
-Audio Commentaries –‘
2 in total.
-Inside the Episodes-
A look back at the points in some episodes
-Making of True Detectives –‘
Cast & Crew tries to convince you they have made something profound
-Up close with Matt and Woody-
The saving grace of this show is the lead two actors
NBC –‘A compelling jumble of philosophy, imagery, murder and wigs, True Detective is the first great new show of 2014 and a welcome addition to the television landscape’
New Statesman –‘What the viewer feels mostly is not terror, or even pity. It's irritation’.
Boston Globe –‘The more people talk about HBO's True Detective, and all the Yellow King and Five Horseman clues regarding the identity of the sadistic serial killer, and the greatness of Matthew McConaughey's performance, the more mystified I become’.
The New Republic –‘True Detective has the aggressive casualness and dense texture of a novel by a writer who doesn't care if he's only ever going to be mid-list’.
Independent-‘ Every now and then a television programme arrives so fully formed and confident that the only response is to gasp in pleasure and applaud. Crime thriller True Detective... is one such show’.