Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Smogasbord of Idiots

For some reason Dappy fell from grace in the eyes of parents when he angrily texted a woman who insulted him on a radio interview, but then who ever thought this gurning, posing, stupid hat wearing, buffoon was going to be a good role model anyway? "Oh he grew up on an estate, and is now famous. Let’s use him to try and reach out to the great unwashed, because he can talk to them on their level" (or so the assumption seems to be)! He's about as good a role model for children as Peter Sutcliff or Mike Tyson.

Siobhan O’Dowd:

O’Dowd is of course the shockingly misguided woman who set up the Facebook group ‘RIP Raoul Moat, You Legend,’ which managed to give a glimpse of her mighty stupidity and set the Daily Mail brigade off. This woman clearly has a chip on her shoulder about the police. In her lofty wisdom the police need to be kept on their toes by a demented roid rage fuelled gun man? Oh great idea Siobhan! What next? Was he testing the paramedics too? What if I commit arson, am I keeping the fire brigade on it’s toes?

Axl Rose:
 I think the only person who still believes in Guns and Roses, and  the‘show up when you want’ style of rock and roll is him. Whilst most other front men have retained a sense of pragmatism and realised turning up on time and where you’re supposed to, is likely to be more endearing to fans. Rose however seems to think that people will still accept his greatness and his right to not really deliver what people have paid for. He has not aged well and is becoming an embarrassing has been. Still at least he doesn’t have to worry about becoming a full blown twat – he’s been one since the 80s.

Anjem Choudary:
 A bit like a kid who calls up the emergency services pretending there’s an emergency, except with the caller is offending a group of easily wound up middle England shockavores; looking for something to offend their meek sensibility, whether it’s bullshit or not. It also doesn’t help he’s got a group of equally easy to insight religious nutjobs to back him up. The sad thing is he’s now got himself a copy cat Christian equivalent, in the Reverend Terry Jones of Koran burning fame.

Johnny Borrell:
 A man who in 2004 reached the lofty heights of being the fourth coolest person in the world according to the NME. Considering that, as yet, I have never heard of a person who was considered cool by NME that wasn’t an idiot, it’s a title that well befits the man. He’s strutting twat who, like Axl Rose above – who at least has done some seminal musical work, seems to be the only man who believes his own rock god credentials.

Rick Edwards:

 A Square jawed chump. When he isn’t beating his chest and making low toned grunts, he’s introducing Hollyoaks or trying to flirt with Miquita Oliver on screen. Why don’t I like him? Well what is there to like about the squawking arse.
He seems to have an undeserved sense of being fantastic despite being a subpar example of humanity. I reckon if I met him we would end up having a long conversation – whether me or anyone else wanted to or not – about him, and how great he is, before he starts to flirt with someone’s girlfriend in front of them.

Nick Grimshaw:

 Marking the second entry of a T4 presenter on my list, I have chosen Grimshaw as I find him and everything he stands for repugnant. He really epitomises many things wrong with the world, and comes across as a cocksure, swaggering waste of organs.

Why hate the man you might ask? Well look at him: he is the perfect example of a grinning tousled tosser. It is depressing that some may see this antagonistic moron as a role model, and really it says much about society’s decline. He appears on T4, which is a fail on one part as it seems to be a breeding ground for annoying posers, and he (or maybe Rick Edwards) is the king of them all in terms of sheer annoyingness. The fact that this pantomime horse, in a Shoreditch hipsters clothing, is seen as being an appropriate face for TV, makes me want to give up on the TV industry and youth itself.

He is a part of what I like to call ‘the Skins fad’ i.e. a group of rambling imbeciles implying that anyone south of the age of 25 is a back talking, immature and fashion conscious nobjock. Really most of us grow out of this faze by age 19 at the latest. However here we have the Peter Pan of attitude, as he will never grow out of this idiotic ADD-like character.

Justin Bieber:

First of all he is a precocious little whelp who needs a good hiding and sending to bed without any supper. He sings about love despite probably not knowing anything about it beyond tired romantic symbolism such as holding hands, roses and chocolates etc. I remember seeing one of his music videos a while back whilst in Cambodia (and believe me one video of his is enough for a lifetime) and honestly believed that he wasn’t being serious. The video was meant to be charming and cute, but it looked like Master Bieber was stalking a woman (way out of his league and seemedly a few years older) and came more across as creepy and staid.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: The Other Guys

Gamble and Hoitz are two NYPD desk cops living in the shadows of New York’s finest crime fighters Danson and Highsmith (Dwane Johnson and Samuel L Jackson respectively). Gamble is a forensic accountant who revels in paperwork and has no interest in fighting crime on the streets, and after being pranked by his co-workers is left with only a wooden gun as a weapon. Hoitz on the other hand is a streetwise and hot headed detective stuck with Gamble as a partner; presumably as punishment for firing his gun in the line of duty unnecessarily and shooting a famous NY Yankees player during a crucial game. When Danson and Highsmith die (due to a bizarre lack of judgement on their part) Hoitz and Gamble get the opportunity to step up and fight some real crime. This ends up with the mismatched duo becoming embroiled in a murky corporate conspiracy, of the type that would bring Vince Cable to tears.

Generally I judge a comedy film on the frequency of laughs (it’s not an exact science but it works), and on the whole The Other Guys gives you plenty and without lengthy gaps between the funny moments. Whilst it achieves that it also has a solid core behind it, dealing with the buddy element, often seen in McKay’s work, and also tackling the corporate conspiracy plotlines.

The Other Guys marks the latest collaboration between Will Ferrell and Anchorman director John McKay, and hopes for the magic of the partnership returning are not unfounded. This film shows Ferrell at his awkward and na├»ve best. Although thankfully this is a more restrained performance from the actor, and he doesn’t just spend all his time screaming silly lines. This however doesn’t prevent that side of Ferrell coming out, but it is measured and is normally tempered to the right moments. This is especially satisfying when Gamble starts slipping in and out of his ‘college pimp’ persona named ‘Gator,’ complete with street lingo. In one instance of this he screams “Gator’s bitches better be using Jimmies,” when he learns of his wife’s pregnancy. It really is Ferrell at his insane and hyperactive best.

The real surprise of this film is Walberg as Terry Hoitz. This marks the actor’s first proper steps into comedic acting and he achieves it well. Walberg manages to play the straight man to Ferrell’s wet blanket accountant/cop beautifully; managing to hold an expression of eye-popping frustration with his partner that is hilarious on its own, and that’s before he even tries to be funny, which is also very good.

Another worthy performance comes from Michael Keaton, who is given a surprisingly minor role as the Police precinct captain. Keaton slides into his semi-serious role well, and manages, like Walberg, to come across in straight and comedic modes. His character, despite how little we see of him, is also quite developed and is shown to be the father of a bisexual college student and working at a second job at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

A problem with the movie however, is that it feels like it’s running a hidden agenda against corporate bailouts. This is made clearly overt at the end, where there is a direct reference to the Goldman Sachs debacle, as well as the amount of money being squandered on bailouts. It’s a bit like McKay is attempting to trick us into becoming involved in a political debate, and this feels wrong. Let’s remember the people going to see a piece of entertainment, not for a finger wagging. It’d be like going to a football match and being given a multiplication test based on the players numbers.

Despite these minor gripes. The Other Guys overall is a fantastic return to form for both McKay and Ferrell. It is sharp, funny, and is more fun than you can shake a wooden gun at.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Radio Wave Pollution

I’ve been listening a lot to mainstream radio again recently for the first time in a long while, and have been relatively unimpressed with what I’ve heard. It’s been many moons since I was even aware of who was where in the singles charts, but since having listened to a station playing top ten singles to an obnoxious and repetitive level, I have slowly started to become embittered towards pop music.

Now as you probably (or don’t) know I have never been a person completely driven by mainstream tastes. I sit on an awkward fence between mainstream and subculture a lot of time; which often means I’m criticised by both the subculture mob for having mainstream music tastes, and vice versa, the mainstream posse lambast my taste for being too subversive.

In any case, sod what they think. I listen to music for the music not for the scene and anyone who does follow music for a fashion is an exclusive member of club stupid.

Here’s a brief rundown of some annoying types of music that are gracing the top ten singles charts at the moment.

Rich people wishing they were poor people who wished they were rich:

It seems because we are in recession at the moment lots of bands are singing about how it sucks to be poor; which is seemingly at odds with their apparent wealth as a singer of overplayed music. It really couldn’t be more patronising, as it seems to tap into some romantic notion that being poor is somehow credible, like it’s the latest fashion and can be dropped when tastes change.

In many ways it’s A bit like a group of Oxfordshire socialites moving to a sinkhole estate in London and pretending to be bohemian, or the sort of thing I observe kids doing in my area, where with the power of imagination they seem to have turned a conservative middle class suburb into a ghetto – their words not mine - filled with pretend gangsters.

Also it’s patronising enough on its own if someone is pretending to be poor because it’s in fashion, but when they pretend to be poor whilst aspiring to be rich, despite being rich, you do lose patience with them.

Silky voiced Cocknobs:

Another problem with much of the music in the top ten (as ever) is that there seems to be a large proportion of castrati voiced males, whose career perpetually seems to be two days away from retirement, because to be honest boy bands have a short shelf life. As flavours of the month, they are beloved by shallow twelve year old girls and even shallower forty plus cradle snatching women, who have the delusional belief that they like the music; when really it’s a thinly veiled excuse for ogling well sculpted men with orgasm inducing vocals – I’m sure most boy band members are wise to this fact also.

Dance Bilge:

Now these have left me mystified since age eleven, when after one summer of being into dance music I immediately went off it realising it was a repetitive tune on a loop with moronic lyrics about, “being in love with a drumbeat,” or some such rubbish. There are almost always always suggestive lyrics alluding to some kind of fantastical club/orgy venue; that seem to exist solely in the minds of morons. In this world (if the music videos are believed) everyone on the planet is a posing, gyrating twat, kinky uniforms are compulsory in all public services and unattractiveness has been outlawed. That is of course save for a small proportion of conscientious objectors who are made –perhaps by the law of this preening master race - to look uncomfortably geeky. These portrayals are generally about as subtle as a prize winning marrow being used to cut a plank.

Indie-er than thou:

Yep every so often there comes along a band that is a contradiction, in that they embody sub cultural values and looks, yet are clearly a mainstream band. Whether they are just being overplayed on the radio or are genuinely of the opinion that from a trilby hat an indie band is made, they are irritating. This is made even more painful by all the fans of the above types of music that I’ve described, becoming convinced that they are suddenly have a varied and discerning musical taste for liking something seen as non-mainstream (I call it the Green Day or Kings of Leon effect – going to show that it works with already established bands).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Trouble with Gigs

I had the fortune of going to a live concert at the weekend (Muse at Wembley) and a good time was had. However, being my first big live gig experience for some time, I was rudely reminded of several downsides to being in an excitable and lively outdoor crowd. It certainly showing me once again that amongst gig audiences you meet some of the best, and worst, examples of people.

Now as you may have realised, I am not a big fan of crowds, but I had really forgotten about the many pitfalls of being amongst that many people. Sure the music and atmosphere are great, but occasionally you do wish that everyone else, except for your group of friends, would piss off elsewhere.

Here follows a list of the problems with attending a concert or gig. Some of them I experienced last weekend, and others I have seen or heard about elsewhere.

Problem 1: People Who Are Drunk Or High

These people are complete cocks, as they have little special awareness. At the best of times this can be a problem, but when you have no elbow room; are trying to peer over a tall guy in front; and are being continuously jostled by the dancing drunk twat behind you, sympathy and patience become short. Whilst they may appear semi-comatose, unfortunately they are still blessed with motor functions so can still crash into you.

Another danger is the ‘sweaty grip of the moron’ when some drunken idiot decides to try and put his arm round you. This mainly happens if you inevitably get sick of being constantly jogged by the nearby pill head, and then attempt to push back against his/her stupid dancing, and they decide to settle matters by clinging on to you and singing in your face. Still it’s better than them getting aggressive I suppose, but it’s still not very fun.

Problem 2: People Who Fling Beer, Or Other ‘Liquids’

I have never understood this. I know I’m being a bit prissy complaining about the people who suddenly fling their drink into the air, as I have been in many a live music crowd and can/should come to expect it. But still why do people do this? First of all it’s a waste of perfectly good beer, which probably cost about five pounds. Secondly getting beer on your clothes smells, and makes them sticky. That’s assuming it is beer they are throwing and not urine… It’s the not knowing that can be the biggest pain.

Problem 3: Girls Who Sit On Their Boyfriend’s Shoulders

I hate to say it but it’s mostly the ladies to blame for this, which is - I assume – because they believe people will be too polite to stop them. This has been vindicated by the few times I have seen men trying the same thing; they got short shrift from those behind them, and were summarily pelted with rubbish. However, just because people are polite and tolerate it, doesn’t mean they approve of it. Personally I don’t give a toss whether you are man or woman, old or young, if you are trying to appear on the big screen or not. Get out the way you inconsiderate tossers!

Problem 4: Amorous Couples

Now this is something I find awkward in day to day life, but bear with me before you write me off as a bitter goblin of a man (you wouldn’t be far off). This is really infuriating as the loved up drones seem to have no regard for anyone else’s presence. Do they just feel the need to show off how in love they are? Or is it just another level of social ignorance on display, and they really have forgotten there are others staring in their direction?

Then you wonder into the minefield of where you should be looking, as to be fair, what’s to stop the lovebirds turning round and glaring angrily at you for looking at their general direction, assuming you are looking at them – this has happened before I might add. What are you supposed to do exactly? Turn round and miss the show (The music! Not them, you pervs!) or stare in their direction and come across as a sex starved letch. You can’t win!

Also the boyfriends in these cases often make me laugh as they often look more effeminate than their girlfriends, so perhaps they are looking to prove something in the first place.

Problem 5: Smokers

Yes, ever the problem with the outdoor gig; smokers. In fact in any large built up crowd the smoking ban is nearly impossible to enforce, so you could expect this even indoors. Still, cigarette burns acquired from some obnoxious bell end flailing his arms about like a windmill, despite the hot object in his hand, are no laughing matter.

Problem 6: The Feeling Of Being Trapped

Once time drags on and the moment nears that the headlining band will take to the stage, escape from the crowd becomes near impossible. As a result toilet breaks become missions, conducted with military precision and planning.

No longer can one hope to simply nip to the loo. Nope, instead the order of the hour becomes: successfully milling through the crowd; avoiding treading people sitting down; factoring time for queuing (if you are a lady, as let’s face it, women’s toilets are bad for this). This is even before you have to try and track your way back to where your friends are anonymously standing amongst the throng of thousands.

Problem 7: Scary Fans

Once in a while you run into someone, or a group of people, whose fandom is near religious. This is bemusing in one sense as if you do not share the high opinion of the band that they do, you might struggle to see what exactly they are seeing that you don’t. Then you have to contend with them screaming around you how much they love a band, and I think when you focus your attention more on the band than the music, then you have a problem.

No band is perfect - even my favourites have had dud albums in my opinion - but when you find someone who has to like the music of their chosen band, lest their world perception and universal balance be crushed, it becomes a bit creepy.

Especially if, like me, you want to obnoxiously correct them, and say: “whilst you may like this band I don’t see the hype”. I have yet to put this into practice, for fear of being stoned to death for crimes against cool.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs the Blog.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on first impressions looks like a bombardment of pop culture, video games references and slacker humour. On many levels it is, but underneath that confusing coat is a decent bit of cinema, and probably one of Edgar Wright’s best films to date.

Based on the graphic novels of Scott Pilgrim comes this modern tale of romance with a twist, as the titular Scott must win the heart of the love interest, Ramona Flowers, by defeating her seven evil exes; each with their own super abilities.

For younger members of the audience, Scott Pilgrim will be a treat as it feels like an adult film that’s swallowed an over-sized kid (ok I agree that’s not the most visually appealing metaphor). The over the top and stylistic battle scenes as good as confirm this fact, as every punch thrown is exaggerated the nth degree. In this way there is little rooting in reality apart from that these films are set in a real world location, but for the rest of it you are seeing the world through Scott’s very biased, videogame addled eyes. You may as well have an epitaph saying at the beginning: “You are now about to enter the sub-conscious of a twenty three year old slacker. Hold on tight and enjoy,” as that is how this film feels. The fight scenes themselves are electrifiying, and liable to make the hairs on the back of your neck tingle.

That is why this film is a welcome relief to other films on the subject of romance between twenty somethings. It doesn’t feel like your average coming of age melodrama, and isn’t quirky to the point of being saccharine. Sure Scott learns several important lessons and grows as a character but this point doesn’t feel too laboured, and he is fundamentally the same person at the end of the film. Also the romance between Ramona and Scott is tempered nicely so that it isn’t too full of awkward nihilism, but isn’t too full of gooey eyed cuteness. It strikes a fine balance.

Wright has done a brilliant job of getting the visual tone right, but also including some great subtle references. One of the greatest feats however is that he has managed to create several high powered action sequences, and all without the extensive use of shakycam – a very in vogue Hollywood trick (I’m talking to you Michael Bay, you will get your comeuppance one day).

The characters are also of a decent fare. Michael Cera does with Scott what Michael Cera does with most characters he plays. Nothing wrong with that, that’s what he’s best at. For once he doesn’t come across as quite as weedy as before. He actually plays a character who can take a punch as well as he can give, and it’s nice to see this Cera, instead of the one who would otherwise try to run away from the fight. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is absolutely spot on as Ramona Flowers too, and embodies a persona that is both mysterious and cool perfectly. One of the standout performances comes from Kieran Culkin who plays Scott’s gay room-mate. He embodies a gay stereotype which is less flamboyant than the norm, but is rooted in gay identity. This makes a positive change to the usual flaming queen we’d perhaps expect (no thanks to Sex and the City 2 I might add).

Scott Pilgrim is another solid film from what has been a rather good year for summer releases. It’s sharp it’s funny, it’s romantic, and you can watch it more than once. Wright’s attention to detail has paid off once again and hopefully this will lead to further Hollywood work for the British director.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Japin' Round The World Revisited: New Zealand Earthquake

It’s odd when you return from travelling and then hear months later of a disaster striking one of the cities you’ve visited.

I’ve already encountered this once with Bangkok, after the Red shirt and Yellow Shirt riots ripped through the Siam district; fundamentally changing what was there when I saw it myself. I suppose I was able to get past this fact easily as I had little love for Bangkok.

Therefore I found it very sad to discover this morning that an Earthquake, rated seven on the Richter scale, had hit New Zealand and caused quite a bit of damage. New Zealand was easily one of my favourite locations, so to hear of such devastation was miserable news indeed.

Much of the damage seemed to be centred on Christchurch, which was closest to the epicentre, although I know through my contacts that it was felt as far away as Wellington. So it’s fair to say this was one hell of a quake, especially compared to the many other hundreds that hit the islands each year, which are quite weedy by comparison. Either way, it was a miracle that no one has been killed by yesterday’s monster quake.

However, it was tragic to see the damage done to Christchurch on the news. The city that I remember was a vibrant and easy going place, and it is such a shame to see what a state it is in today. Much of what I remember of the city may yet change, and render the place unrecognisable to what I saw. There is rubble from damaged buildings in the city streets, and giant cracks in the roads. I also wouldn’t be surprised if some buildings will have to be knocked down now, having been severely weakened by the quake. There has in fact a curfew in Christchurch overnight, for this very reason, as there is no way of knowing if more debris is going to crash onto someone out on the street.

Hopefully it will be a speedy recovery, and Christchurch will be restored soon. Still this does leave me with the question: what will be the next city I visited this year, to be hit with disaster next? Perhaps Sydney will break off from Australia and float off into the Pacific. Maybe Hanoi will be targeted by terrorists and Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum blown sky high. Or possibly Tokyo will attacked by Godzilla, or Hong Kong by pirates.