Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – The Royal Bodyguard

David Jason starred in the BBC’s new comedy drama about a bungling security guard assigned to protect HRH the Queen, Ashley had a butchers and this is his take on it.

Brilliant slapstick! Could've been terrible – Well done Frost!

Well Ashley liked it but I didn’t, I thought it was flawed in almost every department. It was poorly scripted, had a completely illogical plot and the inevitable adventure was unbelievable, stupid and dim-witted. The acting was more so far past ham that it might have been spam and it wasn’t in the least bit funny, but there you go.

It aired over Christmas and has been repeated since, if you’ve seen it I can only apologise for not getting this review up sooner so you didn’t have to. If you haven’t seen it yet then think yourself very lucky that Ashley and I did it for you so that you never have to sit through such an embarrassing and turd riddled spectacle. If it comes around again whatever else you do, DO NOT watch it, it’s a flaming crock of shit. It’s set for a November DVD release which implies that there’ll be a second series, which is staggering as the viewing figures for it were deservedly dire.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Pierre’s Midweek Sport Special

Pierre used the FA Cup break to
cultivate some facial hair

There are midweek games this week, here’s how an owl thinks they’ll go. Today’s Bore-A-Stat Factlets focus on attendance figures.

Tuesday 31st January

Swansea City Vs Chelsea
Liberty Stadium
Kick Off: 7:45pm

Okay, so Chelsea came through the angry fixture with QPR thanks to a disputed penalty decision and by keeping their second clean sheet in two games, those things sound good. It starts to sound like AVB has finally gotten to grips with the Premiership and has worked it all out, either that or David Luiz has stopped running around like a child chasing a runaway airflow football on a very windy day. But one goal from those two fixtures still shows a worrying (for Chelsea fans, I think it’s more funny than worrying) dearth of goals since Didier Drogba has been away with Cote D’Ivore at the African Cup of Nations. Will they win this? Well Chelsea are still capable of beating any side in the premiership on their day, it’s just that “their days” seems to come around far less regularly than they used to. Tough trip to South Wales, no one will get an easy game here as Arsenal found out a couple of weeks ago, but I think Chelsea may just be good for a point. It probably isn’t enough though, the Chelsea of old would have rocked into Swansea and smashed them into the sea.
Prediction: Swansea 1 – Chelsea 1

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Swansea’s average attendance of 19,875 is lower than seven sides in the championship.

Tottenham Hotspur Vs Wigan Athletic
Whitehart Lane
Kick Off: 7:45pm

I vaguely remember that a couple of weeks ago I predicted that Tottenham would crush Wolves into the Whitehart Lane dirt without getting out of third gear at any point in that supposed home banker. They didn’t do that, and in the process made this bird look thoroughly foolish. A plucky, orange wall managed to get Mick McCarthy’s men a point they wouldn’t have expected that day and it started a sequence of results that has seen Spurs drift out of title contention. They’ve slumped a touch of late and with Harry “I Know Nothing” Redknapp busy in the High Court, trying to explain why he had a big pile of Pompey scented cash in a Monaco bank account where the tax man wasn’t looking (while Portsmouth themselves are looking at being wound-up next month, for ironically non-payment of tax), will Spurs have both eyes on this game against the league’s bottom club and the team with the worst current run of form? Yes or no, Spurs should win this easily, probably by 3 or 4.
Prediction: Tottenham 3 – Wigan 0

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Tottenham’s average attendance on 36,088 is 99.3% of capacity, which means they’re 3rd on the list of attendances-capacity in the premier league behind Norwich City (101.8%) & Manchester United (99.5%) and just 0.1% above that of neighbours Arsenal (99.2), although Arsenal do average 59,960.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Vs Liverpool
Kick Off: 7:45pm

Could Kevin Doyle soon be lining up against Liverpool in a
Merseyside Derby?
Liverpool would appear to able to pick 11 players who can beat any other team’s 11 players in any game of football, including the two big Manchester clubs, but, and it’s a big but, they also seem to be able to not beat almost anyone as well, as their atrocious attempt versus Bolton at the Reebok Stadium last time out proved. The Reds floundered to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat at a team they've mostly owned for the last decade or so. I don’t expect Kenny’s boys to fall for that again but they are very inconsistent. The problem is that they need to find more goals from somewhere; they just don’t seem to ever score enough to win a game convincingly, and far to often this season it’s seen Liverpool have to settle for draws against sides who they really should be beating, which is why they’re only 7th in the league. Big Mick’s boys will have to work hard to get anything from Liverpool but if Liverpool crash hard after their exploits in the two-cup competitions they may be able to spring a surprise. I can’t really see it though.
Prediction: Wolves 1 – Liverpool 3

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Wolverhampton’s average attendance of 23,044 is lower than neighbours West Bromwich Albion’s 24,583, but their highest gate this season (27,289) is higher than that of the Baggies (26,221).

Everton Vs Manchester City
Goodison Park

Kick Off: 8:00pm

I can’t see far past a Man City win here, they had the weekend off due to getting knocked out of the cup while Everton were battling past Fulham in what sounded like a bit of a muddy old clogger of a hard fought game. Everton do have a relatively good recent record against Man City, they are still the last team to win a league game at the Etihad Stadium, but they seem to be lacking something this season. They’re clearly not bad enough to get sucked into the relegation scrap but if they don’t finish in the top ten then you start to wonder how much longer David Moyes can continue making challenging squads with a relatively small budget. Previously he’s been good at spotting bargains and plucking half-decent squad players from bigger clubs but he’s clearly run out of cheapo options, especially up-front. It’s a shame for one of the most-respected coaches in the league that he isn’t given a budget that allows him to even half-challenge the best sides in the country. In the last transfer window Liverpool paid £35,000,000 for one player, I doubt that Moyes has spent that in the last four years on all of his transfers. Away win.
Prediction: Everton 1 – Man City 3

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Everton’s average attendance of 33,407 so far this season is over 2,000 lower than it was last season.

Manchester United Vs Stoke City
Old Trafford
Kick Off: 8:00pm
Stoke aren’t a bad side. If they can stay the course after a long season, especially with the potential for a lot more games in the Europa League knockout stages to come, then they’re looking good to finish as the best of the rest of the premiership after the big clubs have divvied up the European places. Tony Pulis has steadily built a team, and a squad, that has visibly improved year-on-year. It’s difficult to know how much further they can move up the league though, but they are still in the cup and with some big sides already out of the draw they could easily see a return to Wembley. With both Manchester clubs out there isn’t a side left that Stoke can’t beat. Which brings us to this game, will they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, well usually I’d have said “no, they’ll make it hard for United to win but United will do it eventually.” But United aren’t as regularly infallible at home as they used to be. Their loss against Blackburn and hammering from neighbours Man City, shows they have some weaknesses. The goalkeepers both seem nervous, a bit dropsyballio and butterhanded in a clown cavalcade kind of way, and injuries are starting to find out how deep United’s squad really goes. They probably do win this game but it wouldn’t overly surprise me if they didn’t.
Prediction: Man United 2 – Stoke 1

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Manchester United’s average home attendance of 75.451 is the third highest in Europe behind Barcelona (83,850) and Borussia Dortmund (80,365).

Wednesday 1st February

Aston Villa Vs Queens Park Rangers
Villa Park
Kick Off: 7:45pm

Is Cisse set for yet another spell in the Premier?
Well, well, well. Both sides were squeezed out of the cup by a one-goal margin and both sides are having seasons that are looking like ones they’d rather forget. QPR are starting to find the premier league a tough old place to play football and Aston Villa are treading water like a dying man on a bit of manky driftwood. Villa do at least come into the game on the back of a hard fought win at Wolves in their last league outing, but too often this season, in games after they win, they’ve flopped to a lacklustre defeat, like they’re confusing football with a big game of Snakes & Ladders. I can’t really pretend to give a shit who wins this, Villa have a poor home record, as do QPR, but QPR aren’t bad away, or at least they weren’t earlier on in the season. Can they muster their forces long enough to pick up Mark Hughes’ first win in the league? Maybe, but it’s not a definite thing, a draw is probably more likely.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2 – QPR 2

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Aston Villa’s attendance to stadium capacity percentage of 80.8% places them 13th in the premier league; they’re also 13th in the league (at the time of writing).

Blackburn Rovers Vs Newcastle United
Ewood Park
Kick Off: 8:00pm

Blackburn are starting to put up a bit of a fight to stay in the league, despite the fact that they have the worst owners in the Premiership since Portsmouth got relegated. Newcastle got five goals knocked past them in their last away game, and it wasn’t like they were at the Etihad or Whitehart Lane, they were at Fulham. The good news is that it looks like Demba Ba might be back from the African Cup of Nations a bit earlier than planned, the bad news is that it won’t be in time for this game and the small fact that Senegal have had a terrible tournament and The Magpies have to hope his hot scoring form hasn’t been overly effected by his exotic exploits while he’s been away. I’ve got a sneaky feeling that Blackburn might squeeze through this one with an important win, but it’ll be narrow, tough going and ugly football with few pieces of genuine quality on display.
Prediction: Blackburn 1 – Newcastle 0

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Blackburn’s average attendance of 22,470 is only 71.6% of capacity; this is the 2nd lowest in the premier league with only Wigan at 63.8% filling less of their ground every week.

Bolton Wanderers Vs Arsenal
Reebok Stadium
Kick Off: 8:00pm

Things are decidedly wrong at Arsenal, they probably have the best player in the league in Robin Van Persie (but like I say every week) the rest of the squad seem to be lacking genuine top four quality. The Gunners will have been cheered by the impressive display of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the other week and they’ll be hoping he can prove more effective and more consistent than Theo Walcott who, again in a year that ends with a big tournament, seems to be having one of those seasons in which he looks like he should be giving any defence in the league headaches all day long but far too often doesn’t. They’re a little unlucky that Jack Wilshere has been out injured all season, but where they aren’t unlucky is that they haven’t properly replaced Cesc Fabrigas either, maybe they never will, some players are just too good to be replaced, and the less said about Andrei Arshavin the better. They usually struggle in long, arduous trips to the Northwest and I think Bolton might just battle away to another home win like they did against Liverpool.
Prediction: Bolton 2 – Arsenal 1

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Bolton’s average home attendance of 23,125 this season is an average rise of 255 per game on last season despite spending nearly all of the season in the bottom three and winning only one home game and losing eight.

Fulham Vs West Bromwich Albion
Craven Cottage
Kick Off: 8:00pm

Very difficult to say who’s going to win this, it will almost certainly be the last game on Match of the Day. There could be goals in it, mostly because West Brom aren’t as solid at the back away from home, they do need a win though, they could do with moving clear of the bottom five in the very near future and not having to sweat too much come April and May about whether or not they’re still in the league. Fulham are an okay side, although they look a bit less of an okay side under Martin Jol’s leadership than they did under Mark Hughes or opposite number Roy Hodgson and so I think maybe a score draw.
Prediction: Fulham 1 West Brom 1

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Fulham’s average home crowd of 25,315 is the 13th highest in the premiership, but it’s still lower than three sides from the championship (West Ham, Southampton and Derby County).

How excited are Sunderland fans at the thought
of a 30something striker that doesn't score?
Sunderland Vs Norwich City
Stadium of Light
Kick Off: 8:00pm

This will probably be the least pretty game of football that Norwich play in this season. They’re still in the cup, in the top half of the premiership and things are looking good. But Sunderland beat another of the impressive new boys in Swansea last time out to move above them in the league and I can see a repeat performance from a rejuvenated Black Cats team.
Prediction: Sunderland 2 – Norwich 1

Bore-A-Stat Factlet: Sunderland’s average home attendance of 38,830 is the 7th highest in the premiership, but is only 79.2% of capacity which is only 18th. Their highest attendance of the season, 47,751, is only bettered by three teams (Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle).

Starship Troopers – A Review

Steve's had a look at Paul Verhoeven's 1997 sci-fi Starship Troopers.

Last night I watched Paul Verhoeven’s utterly stupid and very bad movie Starship Troopers. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen it and I knew it was a truly terrible thing before I watched it. It should also be pointed out that it isn’t Paul Verhoeven’s worst movie, Showgirls is much worse. It’s fair to say that if you haven’t seen either of these movies you really shouldn’t bother and Paul Verhoeven should be banned from making movies ever again.

Here’s a very brief description of the movie, it’s in the future and it’s Humans Vs Alien Bugs at war, that’s it.

Some people would like to tell you that it’s all a big metaphor for fascism and there certainly are a lot of very strict looking military types running about the place in very strident uniforms shooting things in a blitzkrieg like way, but the simple fact is it’s a horse’s arse of a film.

Here are some pretty graphs to help describe Starship Troopers, because sometimes words are just not enough.

Graph Number 1

Here we see a statistical breakdown of Starship Troopers, as you can see the movie has alien bugs, quite a lot of shouting and explosions, but the biggest two wheels for the movie come from shit acting and terribleness.

Graph Number 2

Casper Van Dien plays rookie soldier Jonny Rico in Paul Verhoeven’s gashfilled movie vehicle. It’s a roll that he plays using the little known acting technique of having a stupidly huge chin that juts out just far enough to make it very punchable.

In fact one of the first things that you notice about Casper Van Dien, even before you realise that he’s a terrible, terrible actor, is the fact that he has a truly enormous head to go with the big chin.

It’s so big it sticks out of his buttoned-up shirt like one of those fairground clown head things that you have to shoot water into in order to blow up a balloon to win a prize. When they were fitting him for his military helmet they just cut the bottom out of a watering can, gave it a bit of a bash with a hammer, presumably while Casper’s head was still inside judging by the ox-dumb look he wanders around with, and shaped it to fit Casper’s giant melon.

Here are some things that have bigger heads than Casper Van Dien.

Graph Number Three

Denise Richards plays Lt Carmen Ibañez, a girl spaceship pilot, because in the future girls can do anything that boys can, apart from read road maps and keep a thought in their head for longer than four seconds without saying it obviously, in this woeful barrel of sewage.

Now maybe it’s the vaguely fascist military uniforms that Paul Verhoeven made his cast wear, but Denise Richards also has a very predominant head. However, unlike her equally terrible-at-acting co-star Casper Van Dien, her chin is a far more angular affair, making Denise look like a shovel with a face.

But clearly even a very big, pointy head isn’t going to eclipse the giant melon that Van Dien’s sporting and so it goes a little unnoticed under Casper’s glorious shadow and so it’s a little while into the movie, when the lead man and woman are separated into different military functions. Denise Richards is allowed a bit of alone time on camera away from the distracting sight of Casper’s huge bonce is allowed to break out and show what a hot acting talent she is and what charisma, style, substance or excitement she can bring to the movie.

Unfortunately Denise brings none of those things, because it’s around this time, when she’s pretending, badly, to fly a spaceship (it’s a spaceship, all you do is lean left and right and look a bit shocked when things explode, haven’t you seen an episode of Star Trek) that you realise she’s not very good at acting, or even looking vaguely Human, at times the part could easily have been played by a hat stand or a stuffed monkey.

There are very few things in the world that are worse at acting than she is. Here are some of the surprising things that aren’t.

And so I think you can see from this thorough examination of the movie Starship Troopers that you probably shouldn’t watch it and I should have found something better to do with my time.

Thank you.

I'd agree with Steve on almost all of that, except Verhoeven made Robocop which is a classic. Also, Denise Richards recently appeared in a two-part episode of 30 Rock, in which she plays an idiot, and was brilliant. Make what you will of that.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – Skins

Series six of Skins continues tomorrow night (Monday 30th of January 2012) at 22:00 on E4. For those of you unfamiliar with the series it’s a BAFTA award-winning British teen drama that follows a group of teenagers in Bristol through the two years of college. Its controversial storylines have explored issues such as dysfunctional families, mental illness (such as eating disorders),adolescent sexuality, substance abuse and death. The show was created by Scottish television writers Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain for Company Pictures, and premiered in January 2007. The show went on to be a ratings winner in its target demographic and to be a success with critics, but what does Ashley think of it?

Always brilliant/somehow believable. Sex + Drugs = Rock 'n' Roll!

Well, I’m quite sure that he failed to review that in eight words but more importantly, for someone that’s not in the shows target demographic, it’s actually a steaming pile of utter fucking rat infested raw sewage filled shite. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t like it. Basically, it’s on E4, which we all know is a channel built around repeats of shitty American sitcoms and garbage aimed at teenagers and students. I think we’re all aware that both of those groups will watch anything. I’m old now, I like hot chocolate and malted biscuits, especially as they’re good for throwing at the TV when stuff like this crops up.

DVD/Blu-ray New Releases (30/01/12)

Monday the 30th of January sees the DVD/Blu-ray release of two of 2011s most overrated films in the shape of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Drive (click them to read our reviews). It's not that they're bad films, indeed, they're actually very good films, there's just something about the pair that was a little off. The weight of expectation from critics fawning over them was too great a burden for them to overcome. I felt the pace of both was a little too slow (and that's coming from someone that loved the Director's Cut of Das Boot).

The best thing about Drive is the soundtrack and the best thing I can say about TTSS is that it's shorter than the book and the mini-series. They're both worth a watch but don't expect either to change your life. The other main releases are romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love and the painfully indie looking Win Win.

Crazy Stupid Love is the second release of the week to star Ryan Gosling, with the other being Drive. However, the two films couldn't be any more contrasting. One is a romantic comedy whereas the other is a violent drama. CSL is traditional rom-com fodder, Gosling stars as a suave ladies man whom, for reasons unknown, decides to take the desperate loser, played by Steve Carell, under his wing. Carell's separated from his wife, Julianne Moore, and isn't dealing with it well. The cast is rounded out by Emma Stone, who plays the only girl that's beyond Gosling's charm.

So, here's the problem, it's not funny. It's an enjoyable film but it doesn't do the job it's designed for. It's a nice enough story and is pleasant to watch but that's it, that's all it's got. Well, except Kevin Bacon, it's got him too, but that's not necessarily a good thing anyway. For what it is the film's too long. It needs to be shorter and a lot funnier. Which brings us to Paul Giamatti starring as, a High-School Wrestling Coach, in Win Win.

Giamatti does his usual thing in Thomas McCarthy’s comedy drama and is as good as always as a man to struggling to make ends meet. However, it’s the supporting cast that really shine is this feel good story about people finding what’s missing in their lives. Amy Ryan stars as Giamatti’s understanding wife and Alex Shaffer as the young catalyst that helps show everyone what’s really important in life. Jeffrey Tambor is brilliant, but woefully underused as Giamatti’s Assistant Coach and Bobby Cannavale is equally as good in his role as a man struggling to come to terms with his divorce.

I was guilty of pre-judging Win Win and wouldn’t watch it at the cinema as I’d felt that it would be another one of those dull indie’s where the humour wouldn’t work and I’d hate all of the characters. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong, it’s a really nice watch that zips past (running time is 106 minutes) with some touching and humorous moments. Therefore, it’s my pick of the weeks releases. 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

If Voting Changed Anything

I saw an advert on the telly the other day that was for Kit Kat Chunky. It was advertising the fact the people who make Kit Kat Chunkys have brought out a new range of four different flavours. You can now buy an orange, white chocolate, peanut or double fat fatty chocolate Kit Kat Chunky. However, and here’s the twist, they’re only available for a limited period of time, because only one of the new flavours will survive. Yes, that’s right, there’s a Kit Kat Chunky election, which is only slightly less ridiculous than last years AV vote. Of course I won’t be voting, because the vote is being held on FaceBollocks and I’ve successfully avoided that treacherous stretch of water so far and I’ve got no intention of getting involved with it just for a chance to vote for chocolate.

In a massive dollop of coincidence Paxman has been looking around China this week on Newsnight, and the other day he was interviewing some young Chinese women and asking them about whether or not they felt freer now than they used to.

The three girls looked at Paxman like he’d asked them to suck him off for a moment and then went on to stare at him with the sort of blank expressions that western teenagers use when their parents ask them to wash the dishes.

They didn’t seem to really get the gist of what he was asking at first. They were very interested in Prada handbags and shiny shoes and other Western baubles but couldn’t have given less of a hoot about free speech or the fact that they couldn’t vote.

They seemed to feel that life in China was very good and that things were improving and that there were lots more nice things to buy these days than there used to be and that’s all they needed. The three girls seemed a little baffled by Paxman’s idea that they should be able to have a say about who was in charge in China.

And I suppose when all you’ve ever known, and probably all your parents ever knew, was a communist dictatorship that had been in total power since the war then you might not really know any better, especially when that dictatorship has total control over all the things you ever read or learn. Plus now they’ve allowed you to buy shoes and handbags and Range Rovers and go to London on a big, old shopping rampage through Harrods, what’s not to like?

One of the three girls actually asked Paxman why she would want to change the government. She didn’t seem to think that having the right to vote would improve her life very much, she also wasn’t so bothered that she couldn’t say certain things, possibly because, like most teenagers, she didn’t really have very much to say. But it’s also possible that she’d been conditioned by generations of repressive communist dogma to think that saying what you like wasn’t necessarily a vital thing for a Human being to be able to do.

At the end of the day she was relatively happy with the way things were going in her life. She had shoes and handbags and the prospects for the average Chinese teenager are probably a lot more prosperous and exciting than they are for the average British teenager.

We all know how big China has grown over the last decade. We know that right now they have the second largest economy in the world behind the USA and that they’re catching even them up at a rate that could see them overtake the US at some point this century.

The problem in China, like a lot of the problems in the Western world, is that there’s a growing gap between the new superrich business guys and the hundreds of millions of very poor subsistence farming types who live on less than a dollar a day in the big bit of China that isn’t steaming factories and megacities, the sort of places that the swank, superfast, new 200 mph bullet trains just don't stop. China has over 1,000,000 millionaires but more people in China live on less than $1 per day than there are people in France, Germany and Belgium combined, which is quite a lot.

So China as a country is growing richer and more powerful but not everyone in China is seeing the benefits of that growth, plus a large part of the growth that China has seen over the last decade has been on making things cheaply and selling it all to the rich western countries in Europe and North America, but those countries are now slumping towards a second recession in five years and so they aren’t buying as much Chinese tat as they used to, so although China’s growth rate continues to rise, it is slowing down.

The problem with that is that when you give people a sniff of prosperity and allow them to buy shiny electronic products, big cars and sparkly shoes they don’t tend to want to go back to living in fields growing rice. When money starts getting tighter and you can’t buy so much new stuff as you could before you start getting a bit agitated with the people in charge.

The young girl who told Paxman that life was ok and she didn’t have anything to complain about might start thinking a bit differently if Hao Jintao had to put a big fat tax on handbags because the economy was drifting the wrong way. She might think the idea of voting then would be a pretty nifty thing to be able to do.

But would it really make a difference, the people of Palestine elected Hamas into government and the US immediately issued sanctions, Hamas and Fatach got involved in a violent conflict with one another and Israel refused to recognise the militant Hamas government, so voting didn’t help Palestinians.

Now this small area of the world is quite used to conflict, it’s been the epicentre for three of the world’s major religions and has been fought over for thousands of years. The geo-political craziness that exists in and around, what is laughably called the Holy Land is a constant menace to sustained peace in the world and so maybe elections there aren’t really a shining example of how politics and the will of democracy are actually supposed to work.

George Papandreou
But just last year the then President of Greece, George Papandreou, caused a massive political crisis by having the nerve to suggest that he might allow the Greek people to vote on whether or not they wanted to accept the Eurozone bailout, which was mostly going to be funded by Germany. The furore that immediately surrounded George Papandreou was startling. In the eyes of the financial markets and the Merkel-Sarkozy double-headed (not really) saviours of the free world this idea was pure lunacy. It was far better for someone from Berlin to decide the fate of Greece than it was for anyone in Athens and so poor George was forced out, a new, unelected leader brought in and all talk of a referendum floated off down the Mediterranean until it clunked into an Italian cruise liner.

A lot of Americans will be voting later on in the year, they’ll mostly have a choice between one bloke who likes rich people and another bloke who likes rich people. But at least in America their Presidential nominees have to campaign properly, just this week Newt Gingrich and Mitt (silly name) Romney have been slinging nasties at one another to try to get some bible-reading, crazy-fool hicks from South Carolina to choose them as the chief backward idiot (or Republican) nominee to run against Barrack Obama. It may seem crazy that anyone would vote for a Republican to be president but they have won 9 of 16 US presidential elections since the end of World War II, including two massive landslide victories for the most crooked man of the 20th Century, Richard Nixon, who won 49 out of 50 states when he was re-elected in 1972 and two victories for the stupidest man of the 20th Century, George W. Bush.

We might snigger about Republican‘s who think that socialism means the end of the world and that allowing poor people to not die in a cold, wet ditch is a bad thing and that the Bible is a literal work and should be taught in science lessons alongside evolution, in the same way that Gulliver’s Travels should be taught in biology lessons as fact or Treasure Island should be taught in Geography lesson and that gay people are evil and that executing people stops people murdering one another. But in Britain we’ve grown a political system in which all three main political parties look and sound increasingly similar. The embarrassing spectacle last week of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls trying to claim that they were different from either the Tories or the Lib Dems while agreeing with them and saying they wouldn’t change any of their economic policies was the wrong kind of laughable.

Just this week there was a Tory woman on Newsnight who was defending the coalition government’s new bill to limit the amount of benefit a family could receive to £26,000 per year. The accusation by campaigners against the bill is that it could force people out of their homes because they’d have to move somewhere cheaper, it could even see families made homeless. The Tory MP essentially responded by saying, “shit happens, everyone has to make tough decisions, sometimes things don’t go the way you’d like them to go.” She didn’t actually say those exact words, but it was what she meant. Of course while she was banging on about the waste of money that the government spends on welfare and benefit payments she forgot that as an MP she is part of a group of people who thought it was perfectly fine to claim the repair of crooked chimneys, moat cleaning and duck houses as legitimate expenses and that she was part of a group of people who got all of their mortgages paid for them and the cost of a second home in London. As if being paid an MP’s salary doesn’t cover the cost of paying your own mortgage.

Ed Balls
But there was no one from the Labour party willing to say they disagreed with the policy, Ed Balls claimed they were only voting against the bill because they thought that it would end up costing more money than it saved and that it didn't actually save any money. So if you’re a poor person who gets his or her benefit cut next year then don’t expect any favours from anyone called Ed after the next election.

But if that election was in the next year and not some three and a half years away, who do you vote for? What are your choices if you don’t like the current government’s austerity measures or you think they should scrap the Trident nuclear missile replacement programme and focus the money on creating jobs and a growing the economy instead? There’s no point voting for Labour if you want a different government, they all went to the same schools and think the same narrow political horseshit way as the Tories do.

If you live in Scotland you get the option of voting for Alex Salmond, who does seem to enjoy a mandate that allows him to tell David Cameron where he stick his opinion on Scottish independence. But if you live south of Carlisle then you’re stuck with some mental fringe party racists or the Greens, which at least allows you to smile at your own superb conscience for a few seconds after you’ve popped the cross in Caroline Lucas’ box.

So maybe if the option of sticking with the party who votes to save bats is the only way to go, the Chinese and their one-party state isn’t necessarily as bad a thing as it seems.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Blyad Sassoon's “Katy Perry - when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you”

Blyad's latest piece of contemporary artwork has been over a year in the making. It’s called “Katy Perry - when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you”. When asked about his latest creation the cherub-like Dwarf commented "thanks to this work, I will never forget how to smile with the new, cherish the old, and laugh with the children." Food for thought.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cell 211 (DVD/Blu-ray Review)

Luis Tosar (above) & Marta Etura (below)
Fourth time Writer/Director Daniel Monzón's 2009 feature is a brutal drama set in a prison in his native Spain. The movie opens with a scene so horrific that it had me looking away, the stark opening really sets the tone for what's to come though. Alberto Ammann stars as Juan, a young prison guard, who's on a tour of the facility a day prior to starting work there. Circumstances lead to Juan finding himself coming around from unconsciousness in the midst of a prison riot. Awaking in Cell 211 Juan must think on his feet and convince the inmates that he's a new arrival on the block or face dire consequences.

The first scene aside, Cell 211 got off to a slow start, I really wasn't feeling compelled at all. However, the film finds it's stride by the 20 minute mark and was captivating through to the pulsating climax. Luis Tosar, who plays the riots chief instigator Malamadre (which translates as son of a bitch), was good value for his Best Actor Goya (the Spanish Oscar equivalent) giving a chilling account of a lifer. The movie pretty much swept the board at the Goyas, collecting eight in all including Marta Etura’s Best Supporting Actor (Female) for her portrayal of Juan's pregnant wife Elena.

Etura's award is a bit of a stretch, she's good, but she has about three minutes of screen time. Anyway, the performances are all good, save for the permanently angry/shouty bloke in the silly hat, the setting’s perfectly bleak and the story compelling. The inclusion of ETA hostages cranks up the tension as the Spanish Government dare not upset the, now disarmed, terrorist group. Don't get me wrong, the film has its faults, you could tear the plot apart if you really tried, but they're easily overlooked as you slowly find yourself feeling compassion for the baddies. In all, it's a fantastic watch (if not for the feint-hearted) that I thoroughly recommend. Cell 211 was released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray last week.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – The Bourne Identity

Ashley’s had a look at America’s answer to James Bond, well, America’s answer to a forgetful James Bond. Jason Bourne is the creation of Author Robert Ludlum and first appeared in the book of the same name way back in 1980. Ludlum brought the character back twice, in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. There are another six novels in the Bourne series, with a seventh due soon, but these have all been penned by Eric Van Lustbader. In the initial trilogy of films Matt Damon stars as the eponymous Jason Bourne, he won’t be returning however as he was only willing to reprise the role if Paul Greengrass stayed on as Director, which he hasn't. Anyway, what did Ashley make of the first film?

Good fun, somehow believable. Matt Damon's alright here.

For those that aren’t familiar with the film Bourne is dragged out of the sea by a Italian trawler but has no memory of who he is or how he got there. We accompany Damon on a thrilling adventure as he attempts to figure out what has happened. His co-star on this journey through Europe is Franke Potente, best remembered for Run Lola Run. The pair have great chemistry and it helps lift The Bourne Identity above the hundreds of thrillers of a similar ilk. The second and third films of the series aren’t of the same quality as you can’t help but feel that you’ve seen it before and seen it done better. I fear for the fourth instalment, I doubt Jeremy Renner can carry it off, M.I: Ghost Protocol should give us an early insight though.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – Simon Amstell: Do Nothing Live

Simon Amstell, formerly of Saturday morning kid’s TV show Popworld, Nevermind The Buzzcocks and something called Grandma’s House is now a stand-up comedian. Ashley saw some of it, here’s how that went.

Realised I was ignoring it so turned off.

I’ve got to say, I was painfully aware that I was watching it so turned it off. I always found Amstell to be a bit Marmite, I don’t really like him but I’m aware other folk do. If you’re one of those people he’ll be appearing in Dublin on the 5th of May, Newcastle on the 15th and for two dates in London on the 8th and 9th of June, which isn’t a particularly strenuous tour if I’m honest.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Steve Reviews: Suits


So if you believe my Twitter feed (hey guys) you’d think that at about 10:30pm (GMT) on Sunday evening the world all but ended and that all of Western culture had reached its natural peak.

That’s because by 10:31pm on Sunday people were heading to Beachey Head or trying to find their granddad’s old service revolver to end it all. The date and time were all set to be earmarked as the point in history when we all cartwheeled down the other side of a mountain called culture and smashed into some pointy rocks at the bottom called The End of Civilisation Gulch.

Future generations of what remained of Humanity would be scrambling around in gutters, ditches and landfill sites, battling off whatever remnants of what used to be Humanity but had changed into little more than feral dogs, picking through the filth and muck for fodder. The few learned men and women who were left, the one’s who had dismissed culture as already long dead before 10:31 on Sunday 15th January, they could have pointed to Mr Blobby being Christmas No1 in 1993, or Richard Desmond buying Channel 5 and going on to resurrect the stinking corpse of Big Brother, as examples of a rotten culture finally gone bad.

These people would point to 10:31 and mark it with a big, black cross and say “we knew long ago, but the rest of the fools found out here, this is where it all stopped, right here.”

And from that moment on there was nothing good ever made again. There would be no reason to be cheerful, no joy in the world, people would finally leave their skinny lattes and their £20 Jamie Oliver cook books behind and live on a diet of Pot Noodles and scraps from the bins out the back of a Pret a Manger They’d burn Van Gogh’s on a pile to keep warm and anyone found reading an actual book that wasn’t a celebrity autobiography would be condemned as a witch. And why was this? Well because the second series of Sherlock finished on BBC.

Erm no, life moves on and even though it’s January more a new telly show has already arrived, and this time it’s come from our American cousins across the pond. I know, the colonies are making telly? Who knew? Well I knew the Australians had a bash with Sons & Daughters and Prisoner Cell Block H but the colonies to the West making TV shows? That’s just wrong.

But apparently they have been making TV shows for some time. Usually these little watched American shows end up on something called E4 or one of Channels 4’s other digital outposts, or occasionally Channel 5, to fill in gaps between Celebrity Big Brother and Live Roulette.

You can find The Mentalist on Channel Five for example, which is a bit like a modern version of Columbo, apparently Columbo is an American show as well. The Mentalist stars the bloke that’s in that new movie about the banking collapse, no not Demi Moore, the one sitting next to him, the one with the cute, wavy hair and the perfect skin.

Well he apparently plays a super smart bloke who can “read people” and the jist of The Mentalist is that after a family tragedy in which his wife and daughter were murdered he joined the police to act as an “adviser”. Then, some people get murdered and he and some proper detectives, with badges and guns and a dumb look on their face, spend a relatively pleasant hour solving these murders, which, is all good and enjoyable, as is Columbo. There is no better way of spending a couple of hours on a sofa on a lazy, wet Sunday afternoon than sitting and watching a full Columbo episode, the best of which are the ones with Bill Shatner, Robert Vaughn and weirdly Dick Van Dyke.

But apparently Americans have been making TV shows for sometime, they made The Wire, The Sopranos, NYPD BLUE, The A-Team, Starskey & Hutch, ER, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Law & Order and of course endless episodes of CSI, which can be seen at any hour of any day on 5-US in Britain. Of course there are more than those, but they’re just the ones I’ve found on the Internet, and without the help of Wikipedia as well.

Maybe this is why the TV channel Dave had, until last night, not been showing any American shows. Maybe, like me, they didn’t know that there were American shows that they could put on or maybe they thought that the great British public would prefer to watch the 19th rerun of that classic Top Gear episode in which they build amphibious cars and they all sink but don’t drown.

Dave even got round to making it’s own shows, to mixed results, before it got around to buying in American shows, last year’s Al Murray vehicle Compete For The Meat was so bad that it could easily have been included back at the top of this blog post about significant points in the slow, but speeding up, cultural decline of the Human Race. They made Argumental, I’ve seen a couple of episodes that I’ve enjoyed, especially in the old format with John Sargent, Marcus Brigstocke and I can’t quite believe I’m saying this but Rufus Hound. But they all got in the schedule before Dave dipped into the international market, a bit like the last premiership football team buying a “foreigner”. Dave played a strict 4-4-2 formation with Clarkson at the back, Fry conducting things in midfield, James May as the floppy-haired winger, Richard Hammond as a little shit and Paul Merton as an over-the-hill but still good for half a dozen goals a season striker, while everyone else had Danish, American and even Australian talent on their squad list.

I don’t know why it had taken Dave so long to get round to fishing in the American pond of TV shows but they hadn’t until now, or at least last night. Because last night saw the double-length opening of a new American show called Suits.

Suits is a legal drama, and at this point I should insert a disclaimer, I bloody love a legal drama, one of my favourite films is My Vinny Cousin, and ever since I first saw L.A. Law, apparently that’s American as well, back in the 1980’s I was a bit smitten with the genre.

I bloody love a good courtroom skirmish as well. And while we’re in the realm of Legal dramas/courtroom skirmishes I should point out that no one’s done it better than Boston Legal, a show that sees James Spader in top oily form and which also has Bill Shatner enjoying himself all over the place, getting into any number of embarrassing situations in unflattering costumes with inappropriately young women. I really liked Boston Legal, it’s one of my favourite imported shows and it has some very good courtroom jousting in it and so although I doubted very much that Suits could match the giddy enjoyment of Boston Legal I was still prepared to give it a shot.

Unlike Boston Legal, which is set in Boston, unsurprisingly, Suits is based in New York, which means we get some very nice panoramic shots of the big buildings and the huge scale of the Big Apple. In one of those huge buildings we find hotshot lawyer Harvey Specter, played by Gabriel Macht. He’s a sharp suit wearing, slick talking, über-feisty big deal in the high-pressure world of legal affairs in the world’s hottest legal environment in the world’s most litigious society.

But more specifically we find him being a brute in an important legal contract negotiation to a very important and very rich client. Harvey’s rude, aggressive, disrespectful and bounding about with an ego the size of a whole American family but he wins, and that’s what gets him through, the set-up is to show that he’s a “finisher” he deals with problems and he wins, kaboom!

His boss Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres, stands by ready to berate him because he used a bit of skulduggery and subterfuge in order to win his legal battle. He’s a man who will use all and any means to win a case, because he’s edgy and that’s why you hire him.

But obviously the money talks and it’s only a friendly berate that is really only administered to let him know she wears the trousers, even though she’s in a figure hugging dress, but she sort of lets it slide because he won and the client was worth bundles of filthy dollars.

He gets made partner, much to the annoyance of fellow lawyer, and baldy, Louis Litt, played by Rick Hoffman. Litt’s there to give Specter more chances to unfurl his slick patter and his way with a cutting quip or putdown, which involves him looking very smug and Louis looking like he’d been punched in the groinsack and vowing dirty vengeance.

There are a few stipulations to Specter’s promotion though, 1) he has to take on a new associate lawyer (like an apprentice) and 2) he has to do more pro-bono work, which means he has to take poorly paid cases and not sort out legal matters for U2.

But this law firm only hires Harvard lawyers, he doesn’t want to do this but he can’t argue as he’s just been made partner and what Jessica says goes, for now probably.

In the meanwhile, we see amiable loser Mike Ross, played by Patrick J. Adams, who’s smart but failing at life, stumbling from one bad decision to another, without ever actually getting anywhere.

We see him sitting an exam and looking shifty, this is because he’s sitting it for someone else, this is what he does. Due to a slightly crooked past and his ability to get dragged into slightly amoral capers he’s been thrown out of law school but because he’s very bright he hires himself out to sit exams.

This is not the end of the amoral choices he makes though, his dodgy roommate gets him involved in an illicit drug deal which ends up with him carrying a briefcase full of weed into a hotel. He narrowly escapes some undercover cops because he’s quite smart and “he reads a lot” and finds himself running away from said cops only to find himself in the room where Harvey and his pretty, but smart, secretary Donna Paulsen, played by Sarah Rafferty, are holding their interviews for the trainee lawyer job, purely by coincidence of course.

One thing leads to another and Mike finds himself being interviewed by Harvey. Mr. Ross shows far more promise as a lawyer than the stiff-shirted Harvard graduates, shows off some jazzy memory retaining skills and some witty banter, impresses Harvey with his eventful life story, gets hired and finally becomes a lawyer so he can fulfil his obvious, but wasted potential, and that’s how you get a TV series.

But wait it’s not as easy that, it turns out that having a perfect memory and being able to read lots of stuff very quickly and absorb all of it isn’t all there is to being a lawyer. There’s a bit more to it than that.

With the help of sassy, bright paralegal Rachel Zane, played by Meaghan Markle who is very pretty in a very distracting way, a bit of tough-love and a back to school education in the finer arts of the legal world from Harvey, Mike learns the ropes as he takes on his first case. It’s a pro bono case which centres around a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a sacked secretary against her rich and powerful boss.

Blah, blah, blah, that’s all ok, it’s fairly obvious who wins that one, this is the pilot of a new legal drama. The dot-to-dot drawing of it goes, poor woman goes against rich bloke in legal battle - files lawsuit – rich bloke’s expensive lawyers get all Rambo in a legal way – new, caring lawyer struggles manfully to find a way through the legal minefield – something crops up that jeopardises everything and it looks like our fledgling lawyer is going to lose his first case – some smart thinking and a moment of clarity gives us a way back into the case – sassy banter - case won – hugs – the end.

That’s all quite formulaic, but that’s ok, no one here’s trying to reinvent the wheel or break fresh ground, this is just the pilot of a new show. All we’re seeing here is the mechanics of how you introduce a whole squadron of new characters in one go, give them a context in which to base the rest of the series and see what happens. So, like I say, not reinventing the wheel, but definitely using wheel based technology to get a vehicle moving in the right way.

Suits is enjoyable fun. The two main characters are both likeable and fairly believable in their own way, obviously we’re getting quite a lot of artistic licence here, I’m sure real lawyers aren’t like this in the real world, but in the context of how legal based shows work on the telly box it’s more than fine. If you want a legal drama to look like it does in the real world you may as well just film the Leveson Inquiry and tell us that that’s realistic and therefore better than the long dead, and not staggeringly missed Ally McBeal, for example.

The interaction between the two main characters is very good as well, they spar nicely with one another. It’s a far more balanced relationship than the one we just saw in Sherlock, between Holmes and Watson, their relationship is unbalanced, not only is Sherlock cleverer than Watson but he gets the lion’s share of the good dialogue, plot and action, plus he gets to do the reveal every week. Watson’s really just there so that the background isn’t just trees or buildings.

In Suits, even though the relationship between Harvey and Mike is similar to Holmes and Watson, in that Harvey is clearly the older, more experienced, better polished lawyer, Mike is allowed to have his say, gets some of the banter and the decent dialogue and has his own stand-out character. Plus his relationship with sexy paralegal Rachel is a good little extra dimension that we’ll no doubt see ebb and flow as the series continues.

Rachel, like the rest of the supporting cast, adds something to the comedy drama that fills the thing out nicely, unlike some of the extras in Sherlock. The show is very well paced, it was a double length episode, so ran for a proper 90 minutes but that didn’t feel stretched. It gave us time to get to know the characters before we got into the legal drama of the drama, which was also a good enough feature of the show. It probably wasn’t up to the high standards of Boston Legal, or maybe even the legal stuff we see in Law & Order or The Good Wife, but it was it’s first go and I’m sure as the series progresses the courtroom/legal action will improve as it all settles down. The 90 minute runtime of Suits actually felt less stretched and wasn’t as complicatedly twisty-turny as Sherlock which also ran for 90 minutes.

I’m not really trying to compare the two to one another, they’re different genres of TV show, they’re made by different broadcasters for a different audience and there isn’t a huge amount of similarities to the plot or devices of either show. But there were superficial similarities between the two, like I said the runtime was the same and the relationship between the two leading characters had similar aspects and again I thought that suits pulled both off better.

Suits wasn’t as good as the opening salvo from Boston Legal, although that show made the ballsy decision to have a naked man on screen inside the first 30 seconds, and to be honest it would have been remarkable if the pilot episode of Suits was better than that, but it’s still very watchable and I enjoyed it, I’ll be watching next week as well.

The first season runs for 12 episodes on Dave. It first airs on a Tuesday at 21:00, although knowing Dave you’ll probably get to watch it again & again & again and a second series has already been commissioned.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

No No No No No No No!

Steve's getting wound up by his own brain again

Howard Keel
Not a lot of things make me angry, I’m not angry right now by the way, although I did have a blinding stab of fury the other day but it’s finally been downgraded enough for me to talk about it, and here’s why, (not in a nutshell).

No it’s not another Queen based Earworm like the one I had over Christmas, which you can read about in - An Awful Thing Has Happened. The recent earworms have gone back to being songs that I’d forgotten that I knew, which has been a bit like being in a pub with an eclectic jukebox but you don’t have any spare coins so you don’t have any control of what music gets played. This is better though, because the pub’s in your head and 9 times out 10 you get it right, but the other time your brain serves up Bohemian Rhapsody and you think your whole world’s caving in.

But this week’s earworms have mostly been me attempting to sound a bit like Howard Keel. For those who don’t know who Howard Keel is, he sings about owning cows and women who wear gingham shirts but does so in the style of an elephant playing a tuba.

But that’s all been fine, I don’t mind that. I do spend almost all day alone, so I may go and pop the coffee-maker on and while I’m doing that I’ll probably be having a bit of a singsong. It just so happens that this week the subconscious portion of my brain has decided that “tonight Mathew, I’m going to be Howard Keel” and if I want to make a cup of coffee while singing to myself in a deep, baritone voice then I’m going to, and you can’t stop me.

Oh and I’m not singing songs that Howard Keel might well have sung, I don’t know any. I’m just singing songs in the style of Howard Keel, songs like the Patti Smith version of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, which I know is convoluted, me, a complete non-singer, trying to sing a cover version of a song which has exactly the same lyrics as the original Nirvana song (but I’m definitely singing the Patti Smith version) in the style of Howard Keel, which is all very weird. But, in my defence, I am a bit weird and I don't really care what you think or how weird you think all of that is.

But all of this is leading somewhere, trust me.

It’s leading up to me telling you what the etiquette, or what the law should be, of when and where people should be allowed to do cover versions of songs and what those versions of songs should be used for.

This is something that I’ve been subjected to this week, and one particular violation in this area has made me quite angry, and because I started this blog post by telling you that not a lot makes me angry, you can assume that I really was angry, because I really was.

I’m getting very used to all manner of idiot people rehashing old cultural stuff, movies, TV and music are constantly being remade into a modern format, mostly because remaking something that everyone thought was good in the first place is a cheap and easy way to gather up an audience and get them to rally round a new effort to make an old, beloved thing for a modern world, blah, blah, blah.

Christopher Lee in the title role of Hammer's "Dracula"
It’s not a new thing, the reason why Dracula and Frankenstein were very popular in the early days of cinema was because A) people bloody love a good bad guy and they also bloody love a bit of scare and B) because the stories were already very well known and so the early movie pioneers didn’t have to go to the trouble of inventing new villains, and that’s very ok.

Similarly half of The Beatles stuff is either slowed down, sped up or tweeked classical music with some lyrics over the top, likewise The Rolling Stones is just straight blues riffs. People have been copying other people for years and that’s that.

And so most music, film and TV is just a copy of something that worked earlier, just today I saw the end of a shit American Sitcom that has David Spade and Puddy from Seinfeld in it. They rehashed the old Likely Lads plot where the guys are trying to avoid knowing the end of a football result, in the case of the Likely Lads, or a baseball result, in the case of the shit American sitcom. And, to be honest, the Americans didn’t do a very good job of dropping the punch line either, so not only did they steal the joke, they stole it only to make it worse. So if we take this small example of taking an old idea that isn’t yours and purloining it to drop on a new audience then we can see that not everything is going to be as good just because it gets copied from something that is.

Here’s another example, a while ago I tried to watch the movie remake of the classic 80’s TV show, The A-Team. The film version stars Liam Neeson, the bloke from The Hangover, Quinton Jackson and another bloke (who looks like “Howling Mad” Murdoch). I very nearly killed myself because I figured that humanity had finally reached it’s cultural nadir and everything from here on would just be rotten, I didn’t even get to the end of the movie it was so bad. The final straw came when the A-Team escape from a plane over Afghanistan by dropping out the back of it in a tank and use the innovative method of steering the thing in mid air, while its plummeting to Earth, by firing the silly, big gun. You see, end of civilisation style rubbish.

But I didn’t kill myself, that’s why I’m still here now typing this nonsense. What I did was be rational about the thing, I am mostly rational, despite the singing to myself and so on and so forth.

But in the end I decided that it was my fault that I’d seen the movie. I knew remakes are generally shit, in the same way that almost every movie based on a comic book character is going to be shit, especially if Ben Affleck is in it, and yet I still watched The A-Team. I was mostly angry with myself over that one.

Harrison Ford looking like a hobo in "The Fugitive"
What I also know is that I have seen a couple of good remakes of old shit. The Fugitive is one of my all time favourite movies ever, but not because it tries to recreate a TV show that no one could remember, but because the people who made it made a very good action-thriller that was a very well crafted, exciting and edge-of-the-seat vehicle and because Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are totally staggering in it. Plus they crash a bus into a train without using computers and there hasn’t been a single special effect that’s been more exciting or realistic looking than that, maybe apart from the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan on the Normandy Beach, but that’s about it, oh and the car chase scene in The Bourne Supremacy in Moscow, but that’s really it. Oh and BTW the Bourne movies are 98% better than the books they’re based on and about 75% better than any Bond film I’ve ever seen. But getting back to the gist, The Fugitive is one of the most exciting movies I’ve ever seen.

But the reason why I was lulled into watching The A-Team, against my better judgement, was A) my girlfriend ordered it from LoveFilm and if it comes you kind of feel like you have to watch it to get your money’s worth, and also because of B) I enjoyed the live action version Transformers, dun dun der! I know, it’s shocking! But I thought if a bozo like Michael Bay, who maybe the worst movie director of all time, can make a remake of a thing that I liked in the 1980s how bad a job could someone make of The A-Team? It turns out a very, very bad job, but never mind, I’m over it now and I didn’t even have to start an expensive drug habit to do it.

I didn’t expect to like Transformers, because like I’ve said I’ve seen too many bad remakes of things to trust people to get them right. I resisted watching it for ages based on these prejudices, because all they’re likely to do is ruin my rose tinted view of the cultural artefacts that guided me happily through childhood and leave my fondest memories shattered and broken in a pile on the floor.

This is partly because I’ve seen some of the original shows again since I stopped being an idiot in the body of a teenager and I know they weren’t really that good in the first place. It’s also partly because painful experiences of bad remakes of things that I used to like scream out very loud at me every time someone says “oh you know they’ve remade Trapdoor?” (they didn’t remake Trapdoor, that was an example) and my brain tries everything in its power to stop me watching that remake, like it tried to do with the A-Team.

Ray Winstone & Ben Drew in the forthcoming remake of
"The Sweeney". With Plan B playing the role originally
filled by Dennis Waterman, will he "write the theme tune,
sing the theme tune"?
Because of this I won’t be watching Ray Winstone kill John Thaw’s legacy in the remake of The Sweeney, I just can’t do it to myself. It would be like me trying to do the Darth Vader “I am your Father” bit in Star Wars or Ben Affleck trying his hand as Cary Grant in North By Northwest and trying to get to grips with “Mother, somebody tried to kill me last night.” It’s just not going to work.

But the Transformers movie lulled me back into the murky world of cultural remakes, it made me think that maybe someone somewhere had found a formula that meant that when they remade a movie, then they would not only find a way to include of the essence of the thing that it was copying but it was also an exciting and different movie that had its own unique take on the vehicle and it had been made as a movie in its own right but in a flavour that we can all enjoy. Like The Fugitive did, or the latest addition to the Star Trek franchise, they kept the Star Trek hokum for the fans but also made a very good movie for the people who were dragged along with them (or women) plus it’s the first movie I’ve seen where I’ve thought that maybe CGI isn’t a massive bastard of a thing and why can’t they just build models of the god damn spaceships, monsters or explosions instead of drawing them in an airtight hangar in California.

But movie remakes of classic TV hits from the 80s aren’t what angered me. Nor is it the thing where Americans seem to remake the best Scandinavian, Japanese or Korean movies in English, while dropping almost all of the good shit that made the movies good in the first place and just repeating them verbatim in English (American). Although those things are annoying they don’t actually get me angry. Not a lot does, and I’m not even sure I’m even right to be angry about the thing I was angry about. Except I was fucking furious.

The thing is this, I was watching the telly the other night, it came to an advert break and usually I’d just ignore the things because adverts are very annoying, especially those We Buy Any Car bastards and the Halifax bank son’s of bitches. But they didn’t anger me, what did was another advert. And no, it wasn’t an advert for the Daily Mail, bbbbbboooooo, or a bank, hissssssss, or any other wanky company with a thin grasp on morality. In fact I don’t even remember what the advert was for, it could have been for speedboats, or free money, or helicopters, or monkeys, or something equally as good as those things but it wasn’t. Well it may have been, but it wasn’t.

The problem with the advert wasn’t what the advert was advertising, I’ve grown used to ignoring adverts from companies I have no intention of using. I’ve also not fell into the trap of believing that all Morrison’s superstores are outdoor markets which are frequented only by Freddie Flintoff, Bruce Forsyth and some happy-as-Larry kids either.

But the problem with the advert was that it took a piece of music by someone who is absolutely fucking staggering and who, in a world of bland, Cowell-based pop guff shat-fests and derivative guitar bands, manages to be both cool, innovative and unique at the same time. They took that piece of music, (they didn’t use the original song) wrung the essence of what made it good out of it, got some other twat to sing it again and then burp shat it onto an advert.

Bjork in the "oh so quiet" video
That song was Oh So Quiet by Bjork, which is one of the best, most quirky, uplifting, cheery, fantastic songs from the past 20 years, by anyone.

Bjork is one of the most unique music makers in the pop business and in robbing her song, performing a complete and total soulectomy on it, remaking it to sound like it’s a song being sung in some cuntriddled, new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, directed by Queen (the band, not HRH), and funded by the Tory government, before fucking it hard and then forcing it to have a dirty, bastard son of a thing and then plonking it in an advert made me almost eye-bulgy, eardrum ringing, vein poppingly angry.

But I’m better now.

Yes, we know that Björk covered the song herself but who the flip is Betty Hutton anyway? For those that are wondering, the offending article is below.