Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recently Seen Movies

The Dark Knight (2008) Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Echhart, Maggie Gyllenhal. Dir: Christopher Nolan

Batman and DA Dent’s crusade against the mob is disrupted by the Joker. It’s lengthy and the continuing Batman beats Joker, Joker pulls rug from under him, plot is a little wearying. But it’s powerful and gripping, with top notch performances and fascinating themes of good and evil , order and chaos.


Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Seth McFarlane. Dir: Guillemo Del Toro

Hellboy must stop an elf prince who’s trying to awaken an invincible army. The anti-thesis of the Dark Knight – shallow, two-dimensional and showy. The old characters motives are frequently questionable, the new characters barely drawn out, and the plot feels like it was made up as they went along.


Donnie Brasco (1997) Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Micheal Madson, Anne Heche. Dir Mike Newell

An undercover FBI agent struggles to stay detached from his new life amongst the mob. Solid gangster thriller that shows the mob without glamour. Pacino excellent as the lifelong, slightly pathetic gangster, and Depp on top form as the cop who crosses the line and struggles to find his way back.


Oliver Twist
(1947) Alec Guinness, Robert Newton, Francis L Sullivan, John Howard Davies. Dir: David Lean

Dicken’s classic tale of an orphan caught who escapes and orphanage and joins a gang of pick-pockets. Stylistic and dynamic, every shot is perfectly framed, the action always exciting, and the dark smokey streets perfectly echoing the period. A tour-de-force on both sides of the camera.


The Vengeance of She
(1968) John Richardson, Olinka Berova, Edward Judd, Colin Blakely. Dir: Cliff Owen

The sequel to Hammer’s She, the now immortal ... discovers the reincarnation of his former love. Being blonde and attractive is not enough to encourage the audience into caring what happens to a character. It’s also very dull, which never helps.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Royal Holloway, University of London

After four years plus away, I decided to bite the bullet and face my past – I returned to Royal Holloway, University of London. The place where, seven years ago, I embarked on a three year odyssey of Media Arts, a degree which, four years later, I have still yet to put to any practical use whatsoever.

It was a strange experience, did I feel nostalgic? All fuzzy inside for drunken nights out, house parties, essay writing all nighters and crazy, crazy pranks? Err, not really, it was more a sense of bitterness, mixed with an unhealthy amount of loathing.

Mostly infuriating, it has how much nicer the whole place looks. Huge new residential blocks have been erected, with glorious modern kitchens, double beds and large spacious bathrooms (several residential blocks were condemned the year I left). In fact the buildings where I spent my final year are now amongst the worst on campus, and also where I would now be housed if I were to return there as a postgrad.

Security is still top notch. The main university building is Founders Hall, a stunning building (just on the outside, not so good if you live in it), a building which has at least, off the top of my head, six doors on the outside, and ten more from the two courtyards . Only one of these doors has a security window. All these doors are open from 8 in the morning till 8 at night. So it’s pretty easy to walk right in. All the bedroom doors were open to, granted there’s no one staying there at the moment, but had I wanted to pinch a bit of cheap furniture, there was nowt to stop me.

All the bathrooms remained unrefurbished, still just six toilets to provide for a floor of 70+ plus rooms. Still probably aren’t cleaned during the weekend, which made always them nice to visit on Saturday morning, and even nicer Sunday morning. I remember the time I found a begger asleep in one of the cubicles – love that security.

Student Union is apparently even worse than it used to be. Once upon a time Radiohead played, there. It was one of only two places Bill Hicks played at in England. When I was there, who did they have? The Cheeky Girls, half of garage group the Artful Dodger and Bubble from Big Brother (twice). But there were lots of RNB nights, and lots of dress up theme nights, even more now...

While there, I always generally got the impression, that as a student, I was the least important person there. Somehow, I doubt that’s changed. I always be bitter at just how shit the student life was and just how generally alienating it felt just to be there. It was a good thing I made a lot of really good friends or else I’d have pretty much wasted a lot of my time.

Oh well, Egham’s got five charity shops now. That makes it 40% more worth visiting than it used to be.

Shelley Von Strunckel’s Pearl O’ Wisdom of the Week:

Knowing that others would misunderstand tricky situations, you said nothing. Having learnt about your behind-the-scenes manoeuvres, certain individuals are now upset. Even if you’ve nothing to apologise for, simply say you’re sorry. This will heal wounded egos and allow everyone to move on?

I think she been watching The West Wing again...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

David's Week Off

So I’ve had this last week off. Nine whole days away from work, it was wonderful...

Shame I didn’t go anywhere, but as I live in London now, I decided I would have a week of ‘fun’ and try to enjoy the many wonders and activities that the city has to offer. It was a fun time, I went to the Notting Hill Carnival, where I learnt a valuable lesson – don’t go to the Notting Hill Carnival, went to the Comedy Store where I learnt just how much my brother can drink and how quickly he can get it down him.

This is a quick account of some of the places I visited. There are pictures to go with places that I remembered to take my camera to.

The Tower of London
Pricey (£17.50!) but not too bad for the money. There’s regular short tours which were worth listening to, several small museums to visit. Me and my brother spent three hours there and could’ve spent longer – there was a museum that cost another pound to get in, naturally we weren’t having any of that.

Sanjeev Bhaskar wasn’t playing the King that evening, and we were sat so far back and so high up... But it was very funny, not just all jokes from the film, there were plenty of new gags, with a new plot (not that it was very important) and some great songs that send up all the bad musical clich├ęs. A great night out.

Return Visit to Royal Holloway University
To be covered at greater length at some other time....

Doctor Who Exhibition – Earls Court
An exhibition for kids, not that that stopped me from going mind. Pricey, very pricey, especially for a relatively short walk around the props and costumes from the new serious. £10 for an hour look around, and that was panning it out a bit. Yet, I can’t possibly even conceive of regret for going...

Brief Encounter
Now this was a performance... Funny, tragic, nostalgic... They took the anachronistic elements of the play, sent them up, but kept the main plot intact. They created a real vintage atmosphere with old fashioned ushers, a live band playing before the performance and during the interval; they handed out the cakes used in the performance. They brilliantly made use of the stage space. Highlight of the week.

Jack the Ripper Exhibition at Docklands Museum

Not bad for the money, £7 to see the exhibition and the rest of the museum. A really interesting history of the murders and its lasting effect on the East End. The history of the Docklands, which makes up the rest of the museum, was probably interesting but I’d read all about boats and industrial redevelopment when I was in Liverpool, so I kind of glossed over it.

REM Live at Twickenham Rugby GroundWell we missed the Guillemots because the pub we went to wasn’t serving food, despite the menu on the door, and we had to go somewhere else. They weren’t serving half the beers they had pumps for either and the toilets looked like a bomb had been dropped on them. No wonder it was empty. Caught most of the Editors, which was pretty samey.

But REM were great as they always are live (I’m a fifth timer) and they made a real difference by jettisoning the usual set list template and playing quite a few unusual numbers and a couple of reworked tunes. There were moments when it would’ve been better in a smaller venue, but it was hard not to come away smiling.