Sunday, 25 September 2011

The King's Speech Blu-Ray

Just a quick blog entry for the weekend.

After submitting Amy (my wife) to endless AFI list movies, it was a welcome break to watch something different.

As neither of us are particularly pro royal, it says a lot for this film that we both really enjoyed the film.

The obvious focus for a lot of the praise received for the film centered on the performance by Colin Firth as the reluctant King, and rightly so, he was superb in his role. But for me the stand out performance was that of Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, who is the latest in a long list of therapists attempting to help the king with his debilitating stammer. He is in turns supportive and antagonistic in his efforts to help Bertie, and this brings a dramatic edge and some comedic moments to the story.

Also worthy of praise are the supporting cast; Helena Bonham Carter shows that she can command a screen presence without going over the top, Derek Jacobi who himself famously played a stammerer in I Claudius, is suitably annoying as the meddlesome Archbishop, and Guy Pearce does a decent job of portraying the abdicating King Edward VIII as a man obsessed with the woman he loves, without a thought for his country, or the feelings of his family.

Timothy Spall as Churchill and Claire Bloom as Queen Mary make the most of their time on screen, and UK viewers might be surprised to see Karen from Outnumbered (Ramona Marquez) as Princess Margaret!

If you are late getting to see this, as we were, you are in for a treat.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Everton To Offer Shirt Refunds

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has offered to refund supporters who purchased 2011/2012 home or away shirts with the names Arteta or Beckford printed on them.

This once only offer has been made to fans after Mikel Arteta and Jermaine Beckford left the club at the end of the summer transfer window. Fans who wish to claim a refund should return the shirts to the club, with proof of purchase by September 30th.

Well done to everyone involved for respecting the fans who pay their hard earned money to support their team.

For more information head over to the official Everton F.C. website.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Everton F.C. Need To Consolidate

So, at the end of the summer transfer window, Mikel Arteta asks for a transfer to Arsenal. I don't begrudge him a big money move, he has been a good servant to the club, and if his heart isn't in it anymore then it is better for him to join another club, and lets get real for a moment, Everton need the money.

Sadly it would seem that none of the funds raised from the sale of Arteta and striker Jermaine Beckford to Leicester City, will be given to manager David Moyes in order to buy in new players. He did however make two loan signings in the form of Denis Stracqualursi and Royston Drenthe.

Stracqualursi was the top scorer in the Argentinian top flight last season, and might be the clinical finisher that the team has been crying out for in recent seasons. Royston Drenthe joins on loan from Spanish giants Real Madrid, the Dutch international can play on either wing and will look to add further pace to the midfield.

Along with the established first team regulars and some promising youngsters like Ross Barkley, let's hope that Everton F.C. can kick on and avoid what seems to be their usual slow start and move up the table.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

AFI 100 Movies #15 Star Wars (1977)

After the disappointment of my last AFI outing (#88 Easy Rider) whatever the next selection happened to be would be an improvement. The arrival yesterday of the Star Wars saga Blu-Ray boxset prompted a viewing of Episode IV A New Hope (or just Star Wars as it was when it first hit the cinema screens).

An embarrassing admission, an early memory for me was being left inconsolable as my older brother and his friend were allowed to go to the cinema to see this amazing new film, but I was considered too young (at the tender age of 4, I couldn't see what the problem was!), this was only to be overshadowed by my brother (who was fairly indifferent about TV's greatest hero) getting to meet Tom Baker, during his tenure as The Doctor, and not being allowed to go as it was an event that his class at school was taking part in.

Anyway, back to the film. The opening shot of the movie sets the scene for the epic scale of George Lucas' space opera. Princess Leia's space ship looks huge as it enters the frame, and is subsequently dwarfed by the imperial star destroyer in hot pursuit.

Trying to think back to watching this as a child, the cast of characters was very appealing, the C3PO & R2D2 double act, the mysterious wizard-like Ben Kenobi, Han Solo the anti hero, Luke & Leia the kick ass teens, the creepy Grand Moff Tarkin and of course the man/machine that you love to hate Darth Vader.

Watching it back as an adult, some of the dialogue is a little clunky, but there was something about this story that fired my young imagination.

Despite Mr Lucas' unending need to go back and tinker with something that was perfectly good in the first place, it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the film.

The dogfight sequences as the movie reaches its climax still have the wow factor now that they had all those years ago.

With regard to the Blu-Ray transfer (which I will get around to reviewing in full, once I've been through all the films & the 40 hours of added content), the picture is immaculate and the DTS 6.1 Master HD soundtrack is very impressive, John Williams' soundtrack has never sounded better. Home cinema nerds (like me) will love it.

Doctor Who: Day Of The Daleks (Special Edition)

As with many a Doctor Who nerd of my generation (I'm 38), my first experience of this story was in the form of the Target novelisation by Terrance Dicks, so upon watching a repeat of the programme as a kid, it was a little bit disappointing to see the actual programme compared to the version conjured up in my mind by the novel. The difference between your memory of a story and the reality is addressed in the extensive list of DVD extras.

© 2|Entertain
This release contains the original version, and a souped up special edition, containing new special effects, new Dalek voices (from THE voice of the Daleks Nick Briggs) and new footage shot on vintage film cameras in order to match up with the original print.

The plot revolves around a group of guerrillas from the 22nd century who have travelled back to the 20th century in an attempt to kill the man they believe is responsible for the Daleks conquering the Earth. The Doctor is sent by U.NI.T. to investigate. I can't help but think that James Cameron might have seen this prior to coming up with the idea for The Terminator.

This may seem like heresy to hardcore classic Who fans, but I really like the special edition version, the new effects don't look out of place, and the new Dalek voices make a huge difference to the atmosphere of the story. For those who can't bear tinkering with the classics, you still have the original version on disc one.

In terms of extras, as usual 2 Entertain have put in lots of interesting content including the aforementioned 'The Cheating Memory' (nice title), part two of 'The U.N.I.T. Family', 'Now and Then' looking at locations used for the story, the very entertaining Toby Hadoke presents 'The U.N.I.T. Dating Conundrum', 'Blasting The Past' a making of documentary, along with a making of documentary for the special edition, as well as 'A View From The Gallery', and clips from Blue Peter and Nationwide, production subtitles and a commentary from Anna Barry, Jimmy Winston, Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks and Mike Catherwood.

If you are after a classic Who DVD to add to your collection this is a must.

Monday, 5 September 2011

AFI 100 Movies #88 Easy Rider (1969)

I'll keep this brief, and ask you to recall the two word review of Shark Sandwich from This Is Spinal Tap.

One saving grace was the soundtrack featuring The Byrds.

Apologies to anyone who likes this film, it just wasn't for me.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

iPad2 First Impressions

I finally crumbled and bought myself an iPad2, my poor long suffering wife said that she was surprised that I had managed to hold out this long. In order to try and reduce the retail guilt I chose the Product (Red) smart cover, which gives a percentage of the retail price to charity (yes, I know weird logic).

First impressions are very good, the build quality is excellent, the touch screen is very responsive and easy to use. The initial setup was a breeze, with plenty of options to determine which apps, music, videos etc. are synced with the device.

I have downloaded a few of the free apps from iTunes; the official Twitter app is a neat piece of software, the user interface is simplicity itself, with a simple finger swipe allowing you to refresh your timeline and explore links etc. the BBCiPlayer app is a very glossy looking bit of software offering good quality video on demand.

One thing I missed since getting rid of my iPhone 3G was something as simple as push email, all the most popular email providers are covered. The simple things eh?

Although much pricier than an average e-reader the iPad offers a good variety of choices for would be electronic bookworms, with apps from Amazon's Kindle, Kobo and of course Apple's own iBooks service.

Expect more posts as I get to grips with this work of electronic art.