Category Archives: Movies + TV

The sister, the movies and the country

My sister just left after spending a few days with us as part of her round the world trip. You can read about her stay, and the rest of her travels on her travel blog. While she was here we saw movies, had a birthday dinner, and other dinners, and spent a few days in the Laurentians.

On the night Philippa arrived we ordered sushi because inexplicably she had never tried it. We also went to Baton Rouge for her birthday dinner (I’m not supposed to mention that she’s turning 30 today) and had take-out from Hot and Spicy and breakfast at Eggspectations. The rest of the time I managed to cook, except one night when Philippa decided to cook us curry.

We went to the cinema in torrential rain to see Hancock, a good superhero romp which would not have worked without Will Smith as the reluctant hero. The story was lacking but the action was good and the comedy made me chuckle. At home we saw Juno, which was amazing, Ellen Page can do no wrong. We also saw Superbad which was very silly (I had been warned) but still enjoyable, and I re-watched Fargo and The Usual Suspects to give Philippa a chance to see some true classics.

The big event of the week was our trip to the country. Jen’s grandmother used to own a cottage on Lake Louisa which she sold a few years ago. The current owners were nice enough to offer us the place for a week for free so that granny could enjoy it one more time. We went there to stay with Jen’s granny, mother, step-dad, uncle, aunt, cousin, cousin’s boyfriend, brother, sister-in-law and two nephews. With us there it was a crowd of 14 at peak time which made for a very loud cottage. The weather wasn’t great but we managed to enjoy ourselves with some kayaking, swimming, relaxing, playing silly games, drinking beer and wine and eating good food. I’ll blog about my food contribution tomorrow.

Sadly the cottage adventure was cut short slightly by the death of my brother-in-law’s wife’s dad. He had been ill for some time but it was still very sad. Oliver Carmichael was a kind man who did a huge amount for his family and community. He is remembered here.

No Regeneration for Verity Lambert

Doctor Who has always been one of my favourite shows. I started watching toward the end of the Pertwee era and my obsession was at its peak during the Tom Baker years (he’s still my favourite Doctor).

I’ve only seen clips of the very early shows, but I was still a little sad to hear that Verity Lambert, the original producer of Doctor Who, had died at the age of 71.

Not only was she the first producer of Dr Who, she was also the first female TV producer for the BBC, and their youngest producer. Since her start in 1963 she’s also produced Minder, which I loved, Rumpole, which I enjoyed, and Jonathon Creek which I also loved. I forgive her for Eldorado.

On the eve of Dr Who’s 44th anniversary we have Verity (and a host of others) to thank for its enduring success.

The Race Ritual

Ridiculing the contestants of the Amazing Race is a lot more fun if you can do it with a group of people, so we’ve started inviting friends over on Sunday nights to enjoy the spectacle of dysfunctional couples taking on bizarre challenges around the world.

For the first episode we ordered pizza and drunk beer and ate maple chocolate buns that she brought.

For episode two I decided I felt like cooking, so I cracked open one of my Jamie Olivers and went to work.

For the main course I seasoned some pork tenderloins, sprinkled them with fennel seeds, browned them, put them in a roasting pan with a sliced up fennel bulb, a handful of rosemary, 8 garlic cloves and half a bottle of white wine. Loosely covered with foil and bunged in a hot oven for an hour.

To go along with that, I boiled some potatoes and peas and mushed them together with a handful of mint leaves to make minty mushy peas.

For dessert we had cream puffs kindly provided by her followed by sliced up pineapple sprinked with sugar bashed up with the leftover mint leaves.

We ate, we drank, we enjoyed a fire, and we laughed at those crazy Racers.

An Inconvenient Truth

I’ve haven’t been a fan of Al Gore ever since he claimed to have invented the internet, but I have new-found respect for the man after watching An Inconvenient Truth at the weekend. He’s obviously passionate about the cause and he’s been trying to tackle it for a long time. He’s done his research and has all the numbers to back up what he says – something the “skeptics” absolutely don’t have. He has a message which is incontrovertible:

The human race have had a measurable, dramatic and detrimental effect on global climate change.

At least, it’s indisputable according to the science. Almost one thousand scientific studies back up this message. Zero do not. However, public opinion is still divided; why is this? A quote from Upton Sinclair which Al Gore presented in the movie goes some way to explaining it:

You can’t make somebody understand something if their salary depends upon them not understanding it.

Al Gore may not have invented the internet, but he could be an important part of saving the planet, which I guess is probably a better claim to fame anyway. The importance of his contribution could have been so much greater though if it hadn’t been for a few votes in Florida.

The Movie Meme

I stole this meme from Orac, but the list of movies is Scalzi’s list of the most influential SF movies of all time. The ones I’ve seen are in bold.

  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (I will see this someday)
  • Akira (I saw this late one night on Channel 4, don’t remember much of it)
  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • Alphaville
  • Back to the Future (where is II and III?)
  • Blade Runner
  • Brazil
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Brother From Another Planet
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Contact (disappointing, despite Sagan’s involvement)
  • The Damned
  • Destination Moon
  • The Day The Earth Stood Still (Klaatu barada nikto!)
  • Delicatessen (Another one I want to see)
  • Escape From New York
  • ET: The Extraterrestrial
  • Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial)
  • The Fly (1985 version)
  • Forbidden Planet
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Gojira/Godzilla (Another late night Channel 4 viewing)
  • The Incredibles(Is this really sci-fi?)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version) (and the remake)
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)
  • The Matrix
  • Metropolis
  • On the Beach
  • Planet of the Apes (1968 version)
  • Robocop (this should not be on this list!)
  • Sleeper
  • Solaris (1972 version)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (The best SW movie)
  • The Stepford Wives (both versions)
  • Superman
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Come on, the first one was the best)
  • The Thing From Another World
  • Things to Come
  • Tron
  • 12 Monkeys
  • 28 Days Later (this shouldn’t be here either)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • La Voyage Dans la Lune
  • War of the Worlds (1953 version)

Thirty two out of fifty, my geekhood is confirmed.

I don’t agree with this list entirely, some stuff is too crap to be on here or is not really sci-fi, and there are definitely some omissions. Here are a few I would add:

  • Donnie Darko
  • Serenity
  • The other Star Wars movies
  • The Matrix II and III
  • Silent Running
  • Men In Black
  • The Time Machine (the original movie)
  • Gattaca
  • Fantastic Voyage
  • Logan’s Run
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Time Bandits
  • Predator
  • Running Man
  • The Cube
  • Wargames

Doctor Who Rocks!

We watched the first episode of the new Doctor Who last night. I was very worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but I think it exceeded them. Chris Ecclestone is superb as the enigmatic Doctor and Billy Piper wasn’t any worse than some of the past assistants. The story line was classic Doctor Who, with cheesy special effects to match.

The best thing about Doctor Who was always that it didn’t take itself seriously, and this series looks like no exception. The fight with the plastic hand was wonderfully slapstick, and the wheelie bin incident was straight from the Tom Baker days. My favourite piece of dialogue:

Rose: If you’re an alien, why do you have a Northern accent?
Doctor: Lots of planets have a North.

My only disappointment: the old shows were always multiple part stories, leaving the Doctor in impossible-to-survive situations at the end of each episode. This episode didn’t have that, but maybe that was because it was the first one.

The red pill

It takes a while watching movies on the way to work, especially with all the DVD special features, but I’ve finally finished re-watching the Matrix trilogy.

The Matrix – The sequels could never live up to what this delivered, it is by far the best of the three. The story is superbly mystifying, the effects were groundbreaking and perfectly executed. Add to that the fantastic extras on the DVD and you have quite a package. The commentary track is good, although Carrie-Anne Moss doesn’t have much to say and the special effects geek gets annoying. The music only track with commentary from the composer Don Davis is a really nice feature and makes you realise how much of the story can be told just with visuals and music.

The Matrix Reloaded – The 2nd best of the three. The story evolves well with the introduction of some fun new characters. The effects are once again groundbreaking. The burly brawl looks like it was a lot of fun to make, although some of the ‘virtual human’ stuff didn’t quite look real enough. The highway chase is simply stunning. Sadly the quality of the special features went down drastically with this DVD. No feature commentaries, just a couple of mildly interesting documentaries.

The Matrix Revolutions – OK so the story sucks a bit in this one, some things just don’t work, some things are left a little too open ended, some things are just pretentious gibberish. From an action standpoint it doesn’t disappoint though. The siege sequence is probably the best and the longest non-stop all-action sequence ever with incredible special effects on a massive scale. The machine city is an amazing piece of CGI. The super burly brawl feels a little tongue-in-cheek but it’s still fun, and the effect they used for the last punch is a masterpiece. Once again the extra features are a disappointment; no feature commentary and even less documentary footage than the 2nd movie.

No doubt the new 10 DVD special edition coming out in time for Christmas will have all the features I’m looking for, but I hate the way the studios are milking us with these ever growing extended-super-bonus-special-megapack editions.