Monday, 29 November 2010

Leslie Nielsen 1926 – 2010

I was sad to hear about the passing of Leslie Nielsen, an actor who has been in a number of films I loved as a child and still love to this day. Though known and loved mainly for his comedic roles Nielsen started out as a serious actor, and I remember him well from Forbidden Planet (1956) and hadn’t realised until now that he was also the captain in The Poseidon Adventure (1972). He also popped up in a large number of TV shows (he was one of those actors you would go “hey, isn’t that that guy? You know, the guy who was in that other thing we watched? You know... that guy!”) 

In 1980 he starred in Airplane! as Dr. Rumack, and immortalised himself with his dead pan delivery and brilliant comedy timing. I remember loving this film as a kid, and I still laugh like a loon with Nielsen’s lines, with one in particular being a line I consider one of the greatest in cinema history (more to come on that later). Naked Gun followed and was an excellent TV show, though it made a less impressive trilogy of films. Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) was a little strained but still has its moments of comedy gold, and looking at his IMDB list I see a huge amount of shows and films I had never consciously connected with Leslie Nielsen but watched regularly. Like I said, he was one of those guys.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Movie Reboots and Remakes - Why?

Today the news was announced that Warner Brothers Studio plans to remake (or rather re-imagine) the movie starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, a film that even the kindest of us Buffy fans have to say wasn't great. A lot of studio and producer interference saw Joss Whedon's script being hacked to bits and the 1992 film was the messy result. Five years on Joss had another stab at it, as it were, this time for television and created a cult classic that ran for seven seasons.

Now those studio heads want to have another go themselves, this time without Joss. At all. One of the film's producer's Charles Roven has stated that "There is an active fan base eagerly awaiting this character's return to the big screen." Yes Mr Roven, there is indeed a fan base that want a return of Joss Whedon's Buffy, but not yours or anyone else's. I don't normally say a film is going to suck before it's even be made but I struggle to see how this is going to work. I'm a believer in giving a film a chance and see what the makers will come up with. Buffy without Joss Whedon though... I just don't see it. It won't have the humour, the dialogue, the tongue in cheek references, or the emotional depth that the series had. And, if rumours are true, it won't have any of the characters we came to know and love, not even the rest of the scooby gang. The word most uttered in the office today among us Buffy fans was: why?

Buffy is not pleased with the new script. Not at all

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Film Review: Venus Wars (1989)

Based on the manga by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, Venus Wars is based on the premise that Humans have built cities on Venus after a comet collides with the planet, dispersing the atmosphere and making it inhabitable. But the people of Venus are split into two nation states, the southern continent of Aphrodia and the northern continent of Ishtar. When Ishtar attacks and occupies Io, the capital city of Aphrodia, a group of bikers, along with a reporter visiting the planet, get caught up in the unrest afterwards and must find a way to survive and fight back.

Our main protagonist is Hiro Seno (the hero, get it?), a driver in a brutal sport involving a one wheeled motorbike, and a cynic when it come to anything involving the government. He’s seen for himself the lies they tell and soon realises that though Ishtar has invaded, it’s the native Aphrodians that he needs to be careful of, particularly the police. Eventually he and his friends decide to strike back by taking out one of the opposing army’s tanks, and in the process get enlisted into the resistance.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Don't Plan Too Much

The desire to be a writer is a strange one. On the one hand you want to write, and you want to write well, to tell stories and entertain others with your yarns. On the other, you're terrified of creating a load of rubbish and discovering that the thing you love doing is just not something you're good at. And, if you're not careful, those little nagging voices of doubt can stop you pushing yourself to finish what you start, or make you try far too hard in your desperation to get it right. And sometimes trying too hard is just as bad as not trying enough.

I have recently started up (or should I say, picked up where I left off) an old first draft I had given up for dead. Anyone who has tried writing a novel or something that may turn out to be a novel or short story, will know that if you leave that first draft unfinished for too long it starts to rot and putrify, until you end up picking it up by the fingertips and thinking "how long has that been in there?!". Yes, my draft was dead and wasting away. And the worst thing? I was the one that killed it. By planning too much.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Book Review: Let The Right One In

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)    
by John Ajvide Lindqvist – 2001 - 513 pages
Remember the ‘80s? Not like this you don’t. Lindqvist has resurrected the growingly popular decade in this Scandinavian take on the vampire story. It’s oddly appropriate for this tale to take part in a time when, to many, society began to break down and change for the worst. These themes are demonstrated thoroughly in Let the Right One In, featuring all the vices that afflict urban areas and beyond. But, first and foremost, it takes a hard look at loneliness in all its forms, particularly the kind experienced by those on the cusp between childhood and teenage years. Not to mention the kind a vampire trapped in a 12-year-old’s body experiences after 200 years on earth.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Student Uprising! Well, not exactly...

Today the National Union of Students conducted a protest march through the centre of London, with the expected number of 24,000 protesters increasing to over 50,000 through the day, if reports are accurate. For the first time in years the student body of Britain have got together to express their disgust at the government’s plans to increase the maximum tuition fees to £9000 a year. But what’s this? There was a riot? By one hundred or less “students”, causing personal and property damage? Or well then, who cares about their reasons for protest, as the whole thing has been “hijacked” by those committing “despicable” violence – says the NUS president Aaron Porter.

As usual the media has generally decided to focus on the actions of a tiny proportion of people who chose to destroy property, and in the process hurt some officers and other protesters. It makes for a more exciting story in our 24 hour news society after all. Assuming that it was 100 that acted violently and there were a total of 50,000 people marching, that’s 0.2% of the protesters. So the news reports have focused on just 0.2% of those there. And Mr. Porter is apologising and condemning 0.2% of those that took part. Seriously guys, you need to get a new president. What a wimp.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The First Step is Always the Hardest

See if this rings a bell. For ages you think "I wish I could do that", "one day I'll do that" or "if only I had the time and money I could be a journalist/politician/astronaut"... Or, perhaps the most challenging of all, "a writer".

But what is "a writer"? Type this into any search engine and you will be confronted with a cacophony of different opinions and statements. Is it only those fortunate enough to make a living from the craft, or does it include anyone who has ever been published, regardless of how long ago? Or is it just having the desire to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) even if you've never been published officially? Or is the rather well known writer Stephen King right when he says, to paraphrase, "A writer is someone that writes". Period.

This blog is my attempt to follow Mr. King's advice, as I like his opinion the best - it's certainly the most achievable. I will write. And maybe at some point I will "be a writer". Or at the very least can satisfactorily pretend to be writer while I wait for the penny to drop among my peers. And I'll only have myself to blame if the specter of laziness overcomes my good intentions. And television. Television is always to blame.