Saturday, 28 April 2012

Podcast Episode 3 Shaun Of The Dead

I'm joined by Lee Rawlings and Simon Brett from Starburst Magazine's Blue Box Podcast for a commentary of Edgar Wright's Zom/Rom/Com Shaun Of The Dead.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Starburst Magazine's Blue Box Podcast

It would seem I've been truly bitten by the podcasting bug, within a day of Nerdology Episode 2 finally making it's way online, the first episode of Starburst Magazine's Blue Box Podcast was made available.

The show is a bit more casual than some out there that focus on Doctor Who, it's essentially three (soon to be four) chaps having a chat about the classic series and new Who, with plenty of banter and laughs along the way.

The host of the show is JR Southall, who has been a friend for many years. He writes the Watching Doctor Who segment of the eponymous Blue Box section of the magazine, and has edited a book due out soon from Hirst Publishing called You And Who.

His co-host is Lee Rawlings, Lee has worked in radio for four years and has a way of approaching a subject from a quirky angle, which can lead to some fun conversations.

I think my role on the show is rather different from that of the Nerdology podcast, I'm quite happy to let the other two chat, and will chip in when required with my thoughts on the subject, think Karl Pilkington (but nowhere near as funny!).

From episode four onwards, Simon Brett will be the fourth member of the team. He's an artist and a DJ, and a thoroughly decent chap.

We've recorded four episodes so far with more to follow, the first three were recorded in one sitting, and the sound levels on those initial episodes are a little quiet in places, but thanks to some sparkly new equipment the new episodes are sounding just great! I have made no secret in the past that I'm a huge fan of Radio Free Skaro, if you've listened right through from episode one (yes me too!) you'll know that the early episodes suffered from the odd technical glitch, whereas these days it's very slick, if this show gets anywhere near the wonderous glory that is RFS, I think all concerned would be delighted.

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Damned United (2009)

The Damned United is a semi fictional biopic about English football manager Brian Clough, based on the novel by David Peace, probably best known for his Red Riding quartet of novels.

Michael Sheen, who makes a habit of being cast as real people (Frost Nixon, The Queen, Fantabulosa) does a very convincing job of portraying "old big 'ead".

For those unaware of who Brian Clough was, he was a very talented striker with an incredible scoring record, whose playing career came to a premature end after picking up a bad injury. He went on to be one of English football's most successful managers. He was a very outspoken and eccentric character who was always good for an insightful/controversial/amusing quote.

The film covers the period of Clough's career between 1968 and 1974, the story is told in flashback, starting with Clough's appointment as manager of league champions Leeds United. Going back in time we see Clough's early days in charge of Derby County, then languishing in the second division, they get drawn against Leeds in the cup, and so begins a bitter rivalry between Clough and manager of Leeds at the time Don Revie.

Brian Clough was a man of principal and firmly believed that the game should be played in an entertaining way, whereas Revie, a dour man, didn't care if his team were universally hated for their strong arm tactics and down right cheating as long as they continued to win.

After what Clough perceives as a personal slight against him by Revie, he becomes obsessed with making his team the most successful in England, and so begins a sequence of events which sees some incredible highs and devastating lows.

When Revie is offered the job of England national team manager, Clough risks jeopardising the friendship of his coach Peter Taylor, and his own career, when he accepts the vacancy at Leeds, inheriting a team of players whom he offends from day one, when he tells them they might as well throw their medals in the bin, because they won them by cheating.

The assembled cast are very good, aside from Sheen, there are good performances from Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and Jim Broadbent. And director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Longford) does a great job of capturing the authentic look and feel of England in the 1970s.

I remember seeing Brian on numerous occasions on TV as a kid, and he always stood out from his contemporaries as a supremely eloquent speaker and a unique personality who invariably left his interviewer lost for words.

Even if you don't really know anything about football, it makes for entertaining viewing.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Podcast Episode 2: I, Claudius

In this episode Mark is joined by Erik Stadnik from The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast.

Up for discussion are Robert Graves' seminal books I, Claudius and Claudius The God, and the subsequent award winning BBC television series. 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Fright Night (2011)

If you have seen the original Fright Night, which was very well received back in 1985, you might look upon this modern remake differently, I hadn't seen it prior to watching this new version so I didn't go in to it with any preconceptions.

Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the Star Trek reboot & soon to be seen in Odd Thomas) plays Charley Brewster, a teenager who is a bit of a nerd and has recently been accepted into a group of "cool" kids. Ed played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse used to be good friends with Charley, but they have drifted apart as Charley has been distancing himself from his former geekery.

Weird stuff begins to happen in their neighbourhood, the boys' schoolmates start disappearing, and someone has moved into the previously vacant house next door to Charley and his mother, there are plenty of signs of someone taking residence, but no one in the street has met the mysterious neighbour.

Ed is convinced that a vampire is hunting down the kids in the neighbourhood and killing them off, which Charley initially laughs off, but he starts to take this theory more seriously when Ed goes missing.
David Tennant as Peter Vincent

Fearing the worst, Charley and his girlfriend attempt to enlist the help of Peter Vincent played by David Tennant, who has a magic show in nearby Las Vegas in which he theatrically dispatches sexy lady vampires. And as it turns out, Charley's problems are closer to home than he first realised....

After the trend for gross out "torture porn" horror movies such as the Saw series, I'm glad to see a return to what I would call "shock horror" (see also The Woman In Black) with plenty of moments that make you jump out of your seat, that's not to say there isn't a fair amount of blood flying around, but not so much that it makes you feel physically ill.

Anton Yelchin is very good, even though he acts like a bit of a dick to Ed (who in fairness is sometimes a bit obnoxious himself), you end up rooting for him. I didn't have a strong opinion either way about Colin Farrell before watching the film, but he was very charming, and suitably creepy as Jerry Dandridge, the neighbour from hell.

For me, the stand out performance was that of David Tennant as potty mouthed Peter Vincent, for those of you acquainted with his portayal of Giacomo Cassanova, it's not a million miles away from that, and he certainly gets the best of the one liners.

There's a good deal of humour in the film, which in my opinion, makes it all the more enjoyable, a real modern day gothic treat.