Previous Joints

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My Uncharted film cast



The very best pieces of pop-culture transcend their respective fields. Michael Jackson’s Thriller isn’t just a pop album, The Godfather isn’t just a gangster film and The Wire isn’t just a cop television programme – they are so much more.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is, to my mind, the greatest video game of all time and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the above. It is more than just a game and like all great pieces of pop-culture it attracts an audience base that isn’t usually susceptible to the medium.

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I was not allowed, I repeat, I was not ALLOWED to play through Uncharted 2 without my other half in the room. She wanted to watch the game. Now this is the first time I have ever encountered anything like this.

My girl, who previously showed no interest in gaming, became emotionally invested in the characters Naughty Dog created. She gasped when I gasped at the surprise quick-time moments and was on the edge of her seat (and wouldn't shut up) during the games jaw dropping set-pieces.

I have played 'cinematic' video-games before but this was the first time I didn't have to point out to non-gamers why the said game was fantastic. They could see it with their own eyes - they wanted to watch a 10 hours plus game.

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This got me thinking, could Uncharted do for video-games what Batman and Superman did for comics? Could Uncharted be the source material that finally translates to a gre... no lets just stick with good... to a good film.


The main characters are more than strong enough to work on the big screen and their relationships are captivating enough to warrant a full blown movie. 

I don't accept the point that Uncharted movies would be Indiana Jones rip-offs, I think Drake and co would be able to forge their own unique silver-screen legend if given the chance.

But who would play the main four characters of Nathan, Elena, Sully and Chloe? Well here are my suggestions:

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Chloe Frazer


Chloe is a character who is more than capable of looking after herself in the merky world of treasure hunting. There are three actresses who I'd love to see take on this role: Rose Byrne who was very good in X-Men: First Class, I think she could make a lot of hay with the character; Jessica Alba who I think can bring the relative attitude needed for this character to work. 



But the person who I'd love most to play Chloe is Rosario Dawson. Ms Dawson has the acting chops and the much needed badassness to make this character her own. I've seen her recently in Trance and I loved her in Sin City - Rosario is no joke people.



Victor "Sully" Sullivan 


This one is hard for me. Sully is one hell of a character, get him wrong and you could ruin the whole dynamic of the Uncharted world. He is a father figure to Drake and he does have something that resembles a moral code but he is also a very shady character who was difficult to trust in the first two games of the Uncharted world.

Here are the three actors who I think would do a good job. Robert De Niro - now this maybe pure fantasy but I think he'd make an amazing Sully. You don't have to even question whether he has it in him to straddle between the lines of good and bad - we've seen him do it throughout his career.

Another actor who could make a good Sully is Jeff Bridges. The character he created in the first Iron Man movie, Obadia Stane, is pretty much Sully - only this time he wouldn't be stabbing his protege in the back. I also think Bridges would be able to pull off the comedy relief role very well.

My number one choice to 
play Sully is George Clooney. I think the man has the effortless charm to more than pull off this character. And that is the most important thing about Sully, he is charming and suave.  This is why he keeps getting out of what seems to be lose-lose situations.


Elena Fisher


So, who can play the naive field reporter who grows to be wary and tough. Amy Adams could do it simply because I'm head-over-heels in love with her and she's already played a similar character in Man of Steel.


Another good choice would be Emily Rose who voices Elena in the game. She more than looks the part.

My number one choice to play Elena is Kaley Cuoco. Yeh, don't dismiss her I think she has done more than just be the eye candy on The Big Bang Theory. She has shown tremendous range, comedic timing and importantly toughness. She'd make a great Elena.



Nathan Drake 

So this one is really hard and has been much discussed in the geekverse. Nathan Fillion and David Boreanaz are the two actors that keep cropping up and I always shrug. I personally think that people are not thinking big enough, with all due respect to Nathan and David.

I only have two choices for Drake and I genuinely don't know which I prefer - Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling. Two very different (looking) actors but actors that can bring something compelling and real to the character of Nathan Drake.

Here is the thing, I have always thought of Drake as a morally ambiguous protagonist. In fact, at times, I don't look at him as an antagonist at all. I have heard very strong arguments made that Drake is a villain and a mass murderer. But he is a charming son-of-a gun. That is why he is different to Indiana Jones.


 I think there is a lot of complexity to Drake which only an actor at the top of their game could explore. I cannot think of two better than Michael and Ryan.

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I have tried to not speak much about anything important within Uncharted 2, or the Uncharted world in general. I would hate to spoil this fantastic and unique video-game series for anybody.


Chocolate Dive

Friday, 26 July 2013

Ode to Dolores Umbridge



I love villains in movies and literature. I have always thought a bad guy says a lot about a film’s protagonist and to a certain extent that film’s writers and directors. A poor villain can render a story meaningless in my eye.

I don’t think the Harry Potter series, book or film, gets a proper bonafide superstar villain until Dolores Umbridge strolls into town with her cats and her pink outfit. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Snape, the Dursley and Wormtail are note-worthy, but it was only until this pint-size puff of pink evil comes along when I realised how lacking those other villains were.


Order of the Phoenix is my least favourite Harry Potter book. It’s the book that I found hardest to get through and I just didn’t think it was as enjoyable as the rest. One of the biggest reasons for this was Dolores Umbridge – she just rubbed me the wrong way. 

I found Dolores Umbridge a lot more unsettling that the chief big-bad, Voldemort. Her main goal wasn't the stereotypical 'rule the world' arch; her main ambition was to suppress the soul in order to achieve conformity from young people. To Umbridge creativity, curiosity and resourcefulness in a student are a sin and this makes me shudder. The extent to which she goes about draining those sins away from students was just horrific to read.


Conversely, watching Dolores Umbridge in the film version of Order of the Pheonix is a joy and all of the credit for that goes to Imelda Staunton who is beyond brilliant in this movie. I have to say it again, she is bloody brilliant in Order of the Phoenix.    

Now the fact that I couldn’t stand to read Phoenix because of Umbridge isn’t a slight on Rowling, in my opinion it is a compliment but what Imelda does to that character is root her in the real world.

Back when I was in secondary school there was a group of friends who were so nasty and were such bullies but they walked around like their shit didn’t stink. They were so far up the teachers’ ass and got away with causing so much chaos that it is incredible to think about it now so many years on. What made them insufferable for me was how they interacted with people, especially the folks they bullied – they used charm and sweetness. They were super nice on the surface – all Ps and Qs and smiles and kisses and high pitched greetings (think Alicia Silverstone’s Clueless). Pure fakeness.

Now I have seen this type of fakeness in a more subtly form within the work place but Imelda’s take on Umbridge brings back the anger that I had for those unique bullies back in school. Staunton got under my skin (see what I did there) so much that I forgot that it was an actor playing a character and believed Dolores to be an actual person. When an actor can make you feel-it-in-your-gut then they have done a remarkable thing.


By the end of the film I wanted Umbridge to suffer. I felt the same loathing that Harry and co felt and I realised that I haven’t come close to feeling the same way about Voldemort – not in the films anyway.  Umbridge, in one film, shows more menace, ability to cause horror and gave me more of a sense of dread than Voldemort does in the whole series. I mean no disrespect to Ralph Fiennes who I feel does a good job but I think what Umbridge shows is how woefully underdeveloped the big V is.


When the horsey human creatures get a hold of Umbridge in the end of Phoenix  I wanted them to rip her to pieces – I wanted to see blood everywhere. Tarantino style. The fact that I feel that way about a children’s film is the biggest compliment I can pay Imelda Staunton and The Order of the Phoenix. She is nothing short of a wonder in this film.




Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Are the Harry Potter films important?



There is a conversation that I have had for years within my hip-hop circle. How important are record sales. Now the purist will tell you initial sales figures are not important at all. If an album is good enough it will eventually find an audience and live on for years to come. The classic example of this is Nas' ‘Illnatic’, an album which would have been considered a commercial flop on its release but is a piece of work that is still influential to this day.

But what of the blockbuster albums? Do we just disregard them? I still contend to this day that you cannot ignore albums like ‘Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘em’ or ‘To the Extreme’. I am not trying to say that the Harry Potter film series are like the much ridiculed MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice albums, but I do believe that us uppity film critics view them with the same embarrassment.

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I think the Harry Potter films are some of the most important, if not the most important British film series of our time and yes the money they made are a big reason for why I say this. These films made a stupid amount of money – a mind boggling amount. According to Box Office Mojo, the average Harry Potter film made over 345 million dollars when adjusted for inflation. Again, adjusted for inflation, these films made just under 3 billion dollars. I am pretty sure that there are some countries out there that have less money. These figures don't take into account how much money the films made when they came out on DVD/Blu Ray/Digital.

Why does the amount of money a film makes mean that it is important? It is simply really, it is important because a lot of people must have watched it – some even twice. A lot of the audience could have been kids but a hell of a lot of them must have been grown ass adults.

And what I have found out about the Harry Potter films this past year is that they are small part of bigger machine which seems to be growing every year. There are the books, spin-off books, the toys, the video games and now there is a studio tour of the sets. There film are not only feeding the fat cats but they probably have created jobs for hundreds, maybe thousands of normal people in the England in these tough economic times. Importantly these films kicked off the career of many young British actors – damn, it made some of them millionaires.   

And this empire is almost entirely British based. Why does this matter? Every debate I have ever had about British cinema centres around its impotency – the Harry Potter franchise (sorry) dispels this myth. You can have a British idea and create a colossal money making machine out of it right from these small islands and in my opinion that is a powerful message for any young person wanting to go into the industry.

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And speaking of young people, it can’t be underestimated how many of them grew up with Harry Potter, either by book form or via film. I remember my sisters and her friends being fanatical about this fictional wizard and I also remember taking the mick out of them. Here I am almost a decade later only discovering what they knew so many years ago. There is a generation of ride-or-die Potterheads that consider these films to be a huge part of their up-brining. Believe me, I know too many of them. They make Bieblers look like fans of Simon and Garfield (that was that other bloke’s name, right? Or was that a cat?)
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The point is I feel pretty silly disregarding the whole Potter-verse in my younger days. Nobody knows whether we will still be talking about these 8 films in twenty years time. My humble guess is yes, these films will still resonate in the future. 

It is probably not wise to compare these films to the albums of corny hip-hop artist – maybe a better fit would be the Swedish outfit Abba. They are camp and corny as all hell (I don’t think hell is camp, hell is serious but I couldn’t be bothered to think of a better simile) but deep down inside you know they are very good at what they do.


                      'Arry Bear


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Harry Potter and the Chocolate Beef



This is my second draft of this article. I felt like the first one wasn’t really honest. The dishonesty in my initial take on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone actually says a lot about the film and the mentality of 'Potter-heads'.

Philosopher’s Stone is not a good film and believe me it pains me to say it. It isn’t a bad film, I've seen worse, but in my humble opinion it isn’t even close to being a worthy adaptation of what I consider to be a very good book.


One of the problems I have with Philospher’s Stone is that it isn’t nearly dark enough. Now I know it is aimed at children but frankly so are the books. The imagery presented in the book just don’t translate to the screen. For example, the forest scene where Harry sees Voldermolt drinking the blood of a unicorn is devoid of any horror or tension. In the book, this section is fucking frightening, so much so that it haunted me for weeks (don’t judge me). The same can be said of the finale between Quirrell and Harry – the gasping horror described in the book doesn’t marry with what is shown in the film, which is a real shame.



Another beef I have with the film is the special effects. Now I admit this might be an unfair criticism because I am looking at this film with 2013 eyes. The special effects in this film look terrible, so bad at times that you just end up laughing. So bad that I started to play, spot the video-game graphics (with that said, I thought the three headed dog looked alright).

A film such as this was always going to hinge upon how well they handled the extraordinary imagery and predictably they threw money and pinned their hopes on the CGI. I mean, the effects are so bad they make Quidditch appear as preposterous as it actually is (I grew to love Quidditch in the books).

My biggest problem with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the acting. Now the film has a legitimate excuse to excuse the bad acting – it’s full of kids. Daniel Radcliff was 11 at the time of shooting for crying out loud, you can’t expect a kid to put in masterful performances. I sometimes got the impression that I was watching a school play which isn’t a bad thing… if it was actually a school play and not a multi-million pound endeavour.


I thought the kid who played Malfoy was actually very good, I hated the SOB (Tom Felton I think he’s called). I also think the film makes an admirable attempt to disguise the bad acting by injecting the film with a stellar adult British cast – best of all Alan Rickman who is bloody good in this.

If you have read the book, chances are you will ignore the bad in this film and just love the things it gets right. The set design in this film is incredible and pretty much mirrors what I had in my mind while reading the book. You get a warm feeling in your heart when you see Diagon Alley and Hogwarts come to life in this film.
That is why I wrote the first deferential article, making all sorts of excuses for this film.

If you haven’t read the books, then I wouldn’t recommend this film at all. The first time I watched this film I absolutely hated it. It put me off reading the books for years. You don’t understand the nuances, the relationships and the complications in the film unless you read the books. In my opinion, the fact that this film can't stand on its own two makes it even poorer.


But who I’m I to talk? This film made zillions and spawned seven sequels. Thankfully the series had some real hand on heart great films.


                        Master Bear of Slytherin 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The other Python movies.


After positively gushing over The Life of Brian, I wanted to give my quick thoughts on the other three films they produced.

And now for something completely different.


This was the first Monty Python movie I’ve ever seen and it must have done its job because after the first sketch (How not to be seen) I was hooked. Consistently funny and on occasion belly achingly hilarious. As I’ve said previously the Dead Parrot sketch is classic but there are some gems like, 'Marriage Councillor', 'Nudge Nudge', 'The Flasher', 'Girls in Bikinis' and 'The Restaurant sketch'.

Made entirely out of re-shot sketches from their television series, it is because of this film that I have that said series in my Amazon basket.

The Meaning of Life.


A brilliant film in the same vein as ‘something completely different’.  A group of sketches held together by a simple concept. I would say that this is Python’s Bad rather than their Thriller. They have their ‘The way you make me feel’, ‘Dirty Diana’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’ in ‘Every sperm is sacred’, ‘Zulu’ and ‘Sex Education’ scenes. There is also some duff (aka ‘Just good friends’ to take the Michael Jackson analogy further), the fat man scene is disgusting.

Holy Grail.


And then there is The Holy Grail. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t get it at all. I didn’t think it was funny. Ironically, I thought it was just... silly.

Yet, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who swear by this film, who think it is a masterpiece worth mentioning in the same sentence as The Life of Brian. I personally give these people the side eye.


                       Chocolate Python



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Godfather's Peer: The Life of Brian



I believe that Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is the most perfect film. Everything about The Godfather is to my mind exquisite. It is both personal and epic in scope. It has nothing but brilliant acting performances throughout, especially that of Al Pacino.

I had a suspicion that The Godfather was special after the first scene in the Don’s home office. That suspicion was confirmed during Michael Corleone’s sit down with Sollozzo and McCluskey. This film left me with a thrill going up my leg (word to Chris Matthews). I get that feeling every single time I watch this film - it never ever goes away.

I first saw The Godfather when I was 15 years old and for over a decade I haven’t seen anything like it or anything that has come close to giving me that thrill, that awe-inspiring feeling that I will unlikely forget.  

That was until I watched The Life of Brian.

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The Life of Brian is a truly outstanding film and it is a film that I have been unable to stop thinking about for two months. I compare it to The Godfather for one simple reason, it is a pure joy to watch and that feeling that you are watching something pure hasn’t dissolved in my six views of the movie.

Brian ultimately has a harder job than Coppola’s classic to succeed simply because it is a comedy. As I have said before on this blog,comedy is a hard genre to get right because everyone’s taste in comedy is a uniquely personal thing.

But Brian is a brilliantly funny, thoughtful and surprisingly epic film. There is also stuff in this film that is just jaw droppingly genius but difficult to fathom.

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There is a section in this movie where Graham Chapman’s Brian is being chased by Centurions after he has escaped from Palin’s Pilot. Brian is chased to the top of the exceedingly tall building where he has no choice but to jump to his death. Out of nowhere an alien spaceship cushions his fall, while it is itself being chased.

There is something mad about this bit and although I didn’t laugh during the first few showing I noticed that I had a silly grin on my face (I was told in fact). I consider myself to be a creative person but not in a million years would I think of that scene and even if I did I wouldn’t have the balls to include it in the film.

I feel that this scene perfectly encapsulates the wonder of The Life of Brian. Barmy but brilliant.
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That’s not to say that the alien scene is the crème-de-la-crème of this film, it is not. It’s not even close in fact.

Life of Brian is jam packed with belly achingly funny moments and is as quotable as anything movie I have ever seen – including The Godfather. From the ‘big nose’ scene, to the public stoning – from the confusion about the name of the rebel movement (People’s front of Judea?), Bigus Dickus and the crucifixion walk - this film brings the funny. It is actually scary to think about how many near classic comedy moments there are in this one film.  

It is interesting because all of the scenes feel like improvised sketches yet the film works very well as a coherent story. Each scene shows the Python at their best, taking a situation to its extreme silliness without compromising the film (yes, I'm talking about the same film with aliens).

I was also surprised about how quickly I got used to the Pythons playing multiple characters. Unlike other films I have seen this done, it doesn’t pull you out of the movie – you rarely notice it. It’s actually important to state how very well acted this film is. Every single character from almost every Python is well played (I just didn’t love Jone’s Mother character). Graham does a fantastic job anchoring the whole film as Brian, the voice of reason. Idle is underused in my opinion but is wonderful whenever he appears. Cleese would have stolen the show with his numerous character, best of all the Centurion, if it wasn’t for Palin’s masterful display. And I mean every single one of Palin’s characters in this film are masterful - including the ex-Leper. Palin is a genius.  

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I really don’t want to talk about religion because I think that subject matter is a distraction that takes away a lot of the good about this film – so let me get back to the comparisons with The Godfather.

Like 1972 classic, I fell head over heels in love with The Life of Brian from just one sitting. Unlike Inception, The Life of Brian seems to get better after each watch. I am extremely proud that this is a British film. It has shown me that you really don’t need an extraordinary amount of money to make something epic and grand and thoughtful and everlasting – you just need ambition and imagination. And let’s not kid ourselves, you need a god given talent because these six men were/are special.

Life of Brian is now my second favourite film of all time. I still don’t think it is as good as The Godfather but it certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breathe and in my life that is a mind blowing achievement.

                            Chocolate Mania




Oh, and then there is the ending  



Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Beatles of British Comedy: My Top five Monty Python Moments



When I fall in love, I’m all in. That is exactly what I've done with this group of six legends. The term legends and the meaning of the word seems inadequate when I’m describing Monty Python.

I have only been a fan for two months. I'm 26 years old for crying out loud. Yet for the past two months I have been constantly thinking about their films, judging those films, comparing them to other comedy films and other genres films. Most of them (I'm looking at you Holy Grail) are exceptional. I have become obsessed. I've tried to watch as much Monty Python videos as I can on Youtube, but it is not enough to quench my thirst.

I'm trying to work out why I've been so floored. I think it has something to do with me not expecting to be so won over. So completely and utterly won over. Prior to two months ago, I had heard of the Python - Terry Gilliam is one of my favourite directors (Brazil and 12 Monkeys), I grew up on Fawlty Towers, I thought Palin was a fucking travel show presenter and had heard 'Look on the Bright Side of Life' at a number of variety shows. Monty Python were present in my life but never as a unit. 

As a unit, as a collective, Monty Python are nothing short of Beatle-esc. Genre defining artists. Originators. Masters of the complicated silly sketch.

And I haven't even seen their TV show.

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I have felt compelled to do a Python week. They deserve it. So to kick things off here are my 5 favourite Monty Python moments. Just to be clear, this was extremely hard to do. This was not easy. I have left out the Black Knight bit from Holy Grail, 'How not to be seen' sketch and the Child Birth scene. 

This was not easy.

5 - Blasphemy

Growing up in a religious household, this moment from 'Life of Brian' spoke to me. It perfectly encapsulates how ultimately silly religion is. A man has been sentenced to death by stoning for saying 'Jehovah' and the stoning is mostly witnessed by a group of women posing as men in beards. 

It is so simple but I can't think of how I would ever think of something similar. I think this ability to think of simple silly situations is why Python rise above the rest. 




4 - Growth and Learning

An otherwise strict disciplinarian school master (Cleese) teachers sex education to a class in an all boys school. 

This sketch, again, shows the genius of Monty Python - they took this sketch a step further than I thought they would. If I am honest, this part of 'The Meaning of Life' started off feeling boring (the school is in an assembly with the school master and Palin's priest) but what I didn't understand until the end of this section was that they were setting you up.




3 - Dead Parrot and Lumberjack

It was really hard not to put this sketch at number one. It's bloody genius in every single way. Again, it is... yes, simple. But there is an eloquent beauty to this sketch and all credit has to go to Cleese. 

Funnily enough, soon after seeing this sketch I saw a dead bird in my in-laws garden and I couldn't help but quote this sketch. 

Youtube tells me that there is more than one version of this sketch and even after reviewing the alternatives I still prefer the one on 'completely different'. This is down to Palin's Lumberjack bit which had/has me in tears.




2 - Every Sperm

This sketch blew me away. It is deceptively smart in the subject matters that it is trying to address but scathingly funny in its content. Religion, class, unemployment, north vs south...

Stupidly funny but surprisingly thoughtful.

It is also ridiculously ambitious. They go all out for the gag on this one and it pays off. The scale of this sketch makes it even more hilarious.

After watching this sketch I thought to myself about how I thought Palin was a travel presenter. He is a genius with comic timing like I have never seen before.





1 - Bigus Dickus

It's Palin again. 

I can't even comprehend how simple (yes I know) this damn joke is. In fact, I am convinced that there is nothing at all simple about it. Only geniuses make it look simple.

Bigus Dickus is funny in whatever context, at whatever age. People might consider it toilet humour but Python make it appear luxury.

I mean, they are making a Latin joke about the term big dick. I really don't know why it is this funny - but it is.

This is the scene which made me fall in love with Python. After this scene, I was there's forever.




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Ultimately, for me it must have been a race thing. I must have disregarded Python because I thought it was white homour. Too white for me to even consider - but I have seen Head of State and all the Friday sequels (*Kanye Shrug).

I beg anyone who hasn't seen a Monty Python product to go to Amazon and order the box-set of their films. It doesn't even cost that much. Less than £12 for crying out loud.

It changed my life. I know I say that a lot, but I will never be the same man again now I have the Python in my life (no homo?).




                                           Chocolate Cleese 


Monday, 15 July 2013

Alternative: iHero review


After last week’s British film week I am convinced that there is a misconception about the lack of talent on this little Island. Although I chose three films to cover, I had an (damn near) endless list of movies I could have picked to feature during the week. The truth is Britain is brimming with talent and ideas that could easily make its way onto the small screen.

One such example of talent is our very own Doctor Batman,aka Luke Halsall. Along with studying the classics of comics, he also happens to be a comic writer himself. He and artist Graeme Kennedy have just released their new project, iHero.

What grabbed me straight away about iHero is the concept. At first thought it is utterly ridiculous. An electronic gadget that gives its wearer the super-powers of their choice? Word? But those reservations are quickly diminished when you see how well this idea is realised and then you start to kick yourself for not thinking of it first.

What I loved most about this comic, apart from the idea and the writing, is that there are quirky references everywhere - deep-down geeky references (I got a slight whiff of Watchmen reading this). You can tell that this thing was put together not only by people that understood comics but people that love the medium.

The only blemish that I would put against iHero is its art. This is nothing against Mr Kennedy, I am just one of those readers that prefer a certain type of art to my comics. I am sure others will dig it just fine.

This first issue sends out one clear message to my mind. There is a wealth of world class story telling talent in this country. The well is deep and I hope someone with a lot of money and influence taps into it.
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Follow Doctor Batman on Twitter: @LJHalsall

Thursday, 11 July 2013

This is a Great British Film, Fam. Believe!



Attack the Block is a modern British classic. I knew it from the moment the credits started to roll. What Joe Cornish managed to produce was, in my opinion, something very special indeed. Yet my anecdotal experience tells me Attack the Block is barely liked by the non-critic community.
I have always wondered why this was? Why don’t we ever speak about Attack the Block like we do Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz? I think the simple answer to this question is that Block is too real. I don’t believe Attack the Block is a parody like the Edgar Wright films – Attack the Block is a straight batting film about friends from a council block that happens to be in the middle of an alien attack.

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If you have ever lived on a council estate, you’ll know that too much of Attack the Block rings true. It is difficult for me to think of any recent British film that understood what life is like on an estate like this one. The first thing that they got right is the utter and complete boredom the characters feel. A lot of the things that kids do on an estate stems from boredom, first and foremost - even criminal activity.

A white female friend told me (who may or may not now be my fiancée) that it is because Moses and his gang attacked Jodi Whittaker’s Sam that she couldn’t relate to the film at all. I understand where she is coming from, what Sam experiences at the start of this film must be traumatic but I believe it is crucial to this film. It is crucial because it shows that this film isn’t afraid of being honest or politically incorrect. It knows the stats about black crime in deprived neighbourhoods and it is not afraid to speak about those issues openly. I respect that.

It also goes on to show the behind Pest and crew’s braggadocios exterior there is (not in all cases) some scandalous parenting situation. These kids, in my opinion, are neglected by adults that don’t care where they are or don’t know and make no effort to find out (which is the same as the former in my opinion).

A lot of criticism is also given out to the language or, more accurately, broken English used in this film. To that I say, that’s the way they speak in the endz, innit? (I’ll get my coat...fam.)

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In the middle of this deep social commentary, there is a hell of a film that breaks out. What always gets me about this film is how hilariously funny and how dark it is – forget what Kermode says. This is where the comparisons to Shaun of the Dead are apt. 

I’ve known a Pest in my life time and every time Alex Esmail is on screen, for me he steals the show.

A lot of credit also has to go to the lead John Bayega who holds this film together like an actor twice his age.

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After robbing Sam and being attacked by aliens Pest has this conversation with the nurse in her recently battered home:

“Pest: You're quite fit you know? Have you got a boyfriend?
Sam: Yeah.
Pest: You sure about him? Where is he? Cos he ain't exactly lookin' out for you tonight.”


I don’t know why, but that always has me in fits. This is an exceptionally funny and intelligent film about a group of British people that get a bad rep. I love this film because it leaves me with the impression that if given a chance, the scary kids on the block could be heroes... blud.


                                              Chocolate Man

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Killer Lady




I have never seen The Ladykillers but this delightful guest post by Chelsea has pretty much made sure that it is the next film I buy. It is safe to call Chelsea an enthusiast of The Ladykillers and her passion for this British film is clear for all to read. It is a pleasure to have her on my blog.

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"Mrs Wilberforce?"
"Yes.?"
"I understand... you have rooms to let?"

There it is. The first interaction between the story line's antagonist main character "Professor" Marcus and our delightful heroine Mrs Louisa Wilberforce. Visually stunning, Marcus's shadowy entrance is drawn-out and epic, the tension building to a peak worthy of Hitchcock...

Why has The Ladykillers captured my imagination so? What has attracted me to this off-beat black comedy from the mid '50s, so much so that I have dedicated a huge part of my life making it a huge part of my life? In truth, I don't have an answer. Generally speaking I am a reasonably behaved, normal 32 year old woman, married with a full time job. But when I'm exposed to "Professor" Marcus and his unruly, quirky gang I'm a quivering, Beatles-esque screaming fangirl (I even have a drawing of Alec Guinness as Marcus permanently inked on my lower back). But I know I am not alone; there is a growing Ladykillers fan base out there which, when searched for long enough, can be found.

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My first encounter with The Ladykillers was about seven years ago - a delightfully random television program was informing the British public of the top 100 British films we must all have in our British lives. I believe this delightful Ealing romp was in the top 20. I didn't recognise Alec Guinness at first glance, with his eerie disguise as small-time crime lord and full-time lunatic (ref. "The Booby Hatch"), complete with lank hair and over-sized dentures. The tired, shadowed eyes showing a spark of devious intellect complete the look of deranged silent-movie-villain - check out the long dark coat and even longer grey scarf! Lon Chaney eat your heart out.

I won't continue with a description of each fabulous character at length. The main reason for me writing this is to explore my deep love and fascination for The Ladykillers, and I don't want to bore you all any longer than I have to. So to make it quick...

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The Ladykillers is a 1955 British black comedy film made by Ealing Studios. Directed by Alexander Mackendrick, it stars Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner and Katie Johnson. Ok, so now you know who is in the film. The plot is basically: Five diverse oddball criminal types planning a bank robbery rent a room on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.

That's it! The film is simple, subtle, sly and sublime. The dry humour and drollery combined with  characters beautifully underplayed by a first rate cast helps make this little gem memorable and forever lodged in our hearts. It was love at first sight for me; an Ealing comedy with 1950s criminals intent on destroying one another, old ladies, tea parties, parrots and sarcastic policemen! There - no spoilers.

I must have watched this film about 5,000 times (an estimated guess - it's probably more than that). I've bought copies of it for friends and relatives and have many copies of it in my collection; there are different dvd/vhs covers and of course I must have them all, including the fabulous Blu-ray where the film is all cleaned up and in "high def"!


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I created a Twitter account dedicated to the film... @Ladykillers1955. Yes, I tweeted the whole thing word for word, although the entire script is available online so it was a simple matter of copy and paste. A little time consuming, but it was worth it! My actual Ladykillers website (really it's a blog) is yet to come, It's still in it's incubation period and not quite ready. Through the website I can pretty much display all the The Ladykillers memorabilia I have snapped up from eBay and various other places. So many gorgeous film posters, stills and lobby cards and I just can't resist. It's a great shame to me that there aren't many behind-the-scenes shots or outtakes.

If you've never heard of or seen this movie I highly recommend you go online and buy a copy immediately for future viewing. If you're not an Ealing fan now, you will be after seeing Guinness, Lom and Sellers completely and hilariously beaten down by a darling and feisty old lady.

CM