My Week in Movies, 2016 Week 39

I’m still in China as I write this, but I should be on my way home when it gets published, so I’m going to reserve any further tales of my exploits for the upcoming monthly recap that should drop this weekend, providing I don’t just collapse onto a bed when I get home and sleep for several days, which to be honest I’m not exactly ruling out.
Instead, here’s my thoughts on season 1 of The Wire, because there’s nothing better to do when you’re alone in a foreign country for an extended period of time than binge watch a TV boxset. I’m just annoyed I only brought the first season with me. I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a fairly bold and potentially controversial statement – The Wire is great. I’m hooked, I can’t wait to watch more and see what happens and where all the characters go next. It’s got this ability to make utterly despicable characters – on both sides of the law – and make them compelling, watchable and endlessly entertaining, whilst ruthlessly maiming, imprisoning and killing off other, more likeable characters, yet still keeping me engaged. Scene-wise my highlight is still detectives Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) and Bunk Moreland (Wendell Pierce) investigating an old crime scene in episode four, with the entire dialogue for the scene being comprised of “Fuck” and it’s numerous variations. I’ve gone back and watched that scene a few times and, if I can find it on Youtube once I’ve returned to a country that has access to Youtube, then it’s probably I’ll be covering on a future Favourite Scene Friday for To The Escape Hatch. There are too many great characters to list, but personally I find the law-enforcement side to be richer and more developed, even the more supporting ones like Major Rawls (John Doman) and Sergeant Jay Landsman (Delaney Williams). On the main team, it’s all about Lester (Clarke Peters), and I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes next. Criminal-wise, nobody outshines Omar (Michael K. Williams). Expect to read my thoughts on series 2 as soon as possible.
Continue reading

Seven Samurai

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A small farming village is routinely looted by a gang of bandits, who steal most of their crops and pillage the town. The farmers are too weak and untrained to defend themselves, so they head into town to find warriors to fight for them, in exchange for food. They are successful, eventually recruiting a team of seven, who return to the village and help train the farmers for an upcoming attack.
travel Continue reading

Peter Ibbetson

Two young neighbouring English children growing up in the outskirts of Paris, Gogo (Dickie Moore) and Mimsey (Virginia Weidler), squabble over some wooden boards they should be sharing, when Gogo’s mother passes away. Mimsey’s mother cares for the boy as well, allowing the children to grow very close, until Gogo’s uncle takes him away to town, renaming him Peter Ibbetson. Peter grows up to be an accomplished architect (Gary Cooper), but feels there is something missing in his life due to the torch he still holds for Mimsey all these years later, which causes problems when he runs into her (Ann Harding), only she’s now married to someone else (John Halliday).
stables Continue reading

Das Boot

Germany, 1941. War correspondent Lt. Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer) is assigned to accompany the crew of the U-96 boat on their next tour, to take photographs and document the trip for propaganda purposes. Under the command of their Captain (Jürgen Prochnow) the crew face the ups and downs of maritime warfare.
sea Continue reading

My Week in Movies, 2016 Week 38

Greetings from China! So far I’ve been here five days and, as predicted, blog-wise I’ve been less productive than could have been hoped. I’m here primarily for work purposes, but a lot of the time is set aside waiting for our China-based tool-makers to make some adjustments to some tooling, but it turns out that I’ve had plenty of work to be getting on with, so the stack of films I brought with me haven’t really garnered a whole lot of attention, and neither has the wad of notes from previously viewed movies. Instead I’ve been up late working, some days I haven’t actually left the hotel, and when I do it’s like walking out of a fridge and into an oven, because bloody hell is it hot here. Like unbearably hot. I went for a stroll today and sweated through my t-shirt in minutes. Plus I’m pretty terrified of getting lost here, as I the only Mandarin I know is “nǐ hǎo”, which means “hello”, so I can’t really rely on anyone to give me directions. Thus much of the local culture has passed me by, not that there’s a great deal to do around these parts anyway as it’s mostly factories, hotels, offices and the standard small shops that crop up around those locales. The company I’m visiting has taken me out a couple of times, and last night I ate about half my weight in lobster (actually crayfish I think, but they call them lobster here), which was delicious, but I feel with lobster the actual meat isn’t worth the hassle of getting to it, plus there was a TV playing throughout the meal showing the whole cooking process, starting with the carefree crustaceans merrily swimming and scrabbling their way around until they’re caught, cooked and served. I’m pretty sure in a steak restaurant they don’t show documentaries about cows whilst you eat, so that was a little off-putting. Still, tasted good though.
I have watched a few films since I’ve been here though, mostly in the background whilst getting on with other things, and I watched a few films before heading here, and some on the plane, so there’s plenty to talk about this week. I also made the mistake of finally starting to watch The Wire and bringing the first season with me (Aisha decided all the characters swear too much for her to watch past episode two), so almost every time I sit down to watch something I can’t resist another episode of that instead. Damn it’s good. More on that once I’ve finished the season. Oh, and the worst thing about being here, other than spending two weeks practically alone and with no-one to hold a full conversation with, is the internet restrictions. I’m amazed that WordPress is still operational, given that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Blogspot are all out of action. The worst is Google, which takes out all it’s subsidiaries too, so no Google Maps, and no Gmail, not even on my phone. I use three Gmail accounts on a regular basis – all the organising I do for the LAMB and the Lambcast is on there – so this is getting unbearable. Plus, I missed this week’s Great British Bake Off! Anyway, here’s what I’ve watched in the past week:
Continue reading

The Naked Gun

After thwarting a mass international terrorist assembly single-handed, Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) of Los Angeles’ Police Squad returns home to find his girlfriend has left him and his partner, Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) is severely wounded attempting to bust a drug deal at the docks. With the Queen visiting town and it looking like Nordberg might be involved with a criminal plot to assassinate her, Drebin is given just 24 hours to solve the case.
explosion Continue reading

My Week in Movies, 2016 Weeks 36 & 37

Late again, sorry, same excuse: I’ve been busy, but this time exceptionally so. I’m writing this from a hotel room in China, where I’ll be spending the foreseeable future on a trip for work. How much time I’ll be spending in the room is as yet undefined, hence my references earlier this month with regards to how productive I’ll be blog-wise in September. So far? Not very. Anyway it’s been a busy couple of weeks preparing for this trip, but I do have a fair few films to discuss. So many in fact that I’m going to cut off the diary at this most recent Friday, and I’ll aim to pick up the weekly format this coming Friday, when hopefully I’ll have a little more time to catch you up on, amongst other things, some new releases from this year that I watched on the plane. For now though, here’s what I watched fairly recently, in the latest addition of what should really be called My Fortnight in Films:
Continue reading

An American In Paris

Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) is an American WWII expatriate barely eking out a living as a painter in Paris with his composer friend and neighbour Adam (Oscar Levant). Adam is also friends with successful singer Henri (Georges Guetary), who is madly in love with his young girlfriend Lise (Leslie Caron). When attempting to sell his paintings on the street, Jerry is spotted by the wealthy and entrepreneurial Milo (Nina Foch) who plans to make Jerry a successful artist but, on an evening out, Jerry becomes infatuated at first sight with a girl at the next table, who turns out to be Lise, which doesn’t please Milo at all.
street Continue reading

August 2016 Update

As I’ve not watched or reviewed anything since the “weekly” update a few days ago, consider this a combination of this week’s update, as well as the regular monthly recap. Hence, it’s time for a stream of consciousness ramble about whatever is currently on my mind.

I love London. I used to live there for a year (in Stratford, near where the Olympic stadium is, though when I was there it was near the big pit they were building the Olympic stadium in) and yesterday I got to spend the whole day there, under the mission of renewing my passport, a form-filled process that also contains a four hour window of waiting around for the passport to be processed, so I used this time to run a couple of errands revolving around scouting out supplies for the wedding and obtaining food to insert into my face. One of the things London is perhaps best known for is its public transport, with trains, tubes, buses, taxis and rickshaws all over the place, ready to take you wherever you need to go, generally at a reasonable price, but as I had time on my hands and not a lot of destinations on my route, I set about on foot, to better experience the bustle of London’s streets.

London is amazing. It’s full of every conceivable kind of person. All races, religions, genders, social classes and people from all the countries of the world. And every single one of them was in my way. It seems that when you move to London you become at least 40% more attractive and stylish, but everyone also loses any sense of personal space, be it their own, anybody else’s or, more specifically, mine. Granted this began on the train journey up which, due to safety reasons, took place aboard a train one carriage shorter than intended, meaning everyone was packed in like sardines making a particularly stiff-necked mission to not visually acknowledge the person whose armpit is making out with their ear. I ended up standing for most of the journey so a couple could sit next to one another, which was fine.

Anyway, in London my above-ground bipedal route took me past many of London’s infamous sight-seeing destinations, such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Nelson’s Column and Buckingham Palace, which was in no way my intention – I walked at the mercy of Google Maps – so much of my travelling was spent circumnavigating roaming gangs of tourists and photographers, who cannot understand how standing at one far side of the pavement and photographing their family at the other could possibly inconvenience the tens of thousands of people trying to pass this impromptu photo studio. It’s not just the monuments though, people take photos of some of the most inane and mundane stuff. It still puzzles me as to why people insist on taking photos of telephone boxes and buses, just because they’re bright red. Maybe it’s from being a local that I’ve just gotten used to their iconic design, but taking a picture of something that hasn’t been used to make a phone call in years and has since become equal parts public urinal and prostitution billboard makes little sense to me, and there are so many London buses on every damn road that surely they must lose their appeal sooner or later?

On the subject of transport, in London every single type seems to follow its own set of rules with regards to indicating, roundabouts, lane usage, traffic lights, whether the pavement is an acceptable alternative to the road and whether pedestrians should be even slowed down for, let alone stopped at, even when crossing at a designated pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians are the bottom rung of London’s vehicular hierarchy, and all the other drivers are more than happy to remind you of this, but I resisted the urge of the underground and walked everywhere. My train from Bournemouth and back was the only mode of transport I used. Was this all just to rack up the most amount of steps on my FitBit? Absolutely. My previous record was just over 25,000 steps in a day, which included a run, a few bike rides and several dog walks, so I expected to hit around 30k with my London escapades. To ensure this I even walked the three miles each way to the train station and back, and walked Murphy before I left in the morning. Turns out I didn’t really need to do that, as my daily total, after I’d returned home and collapsed face first onto the bed in a weary, sweaty, bedraggled mess, was just shy of 42,000, which equated to walking a little over 20 miles. There’s no way I’m ever going to beat that. Oh, and did I mention that last week I cut the side of my big toe open, along the outside of the nail? And how it hurts to walk? Yeah, I’m not a bright person, and today I can barely move.

Continue reading