Saturday, 31 March 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – Justin Lee Collins: Turning Japanese

Ashley’s back with another review of something I didn’t know existed.

Why did I bother? I hate him. Idiot.

Well there you go, Ashley is not a fan of Justin Lee Collins, who knew? JLC as he’s colloquially known, shot to some sort of fame (and by fame I mean he was on the telly) as one half of a fairly odd double act with Alan Carr. Alan Carr went on to have his own chatshow and a Radio 2 slot playing mostly tat to people who are getting ready to go out and get pissed on a Saturday evening. Justin Lee Collins is now making TV shows that upset our linguistically challenged blogger.

Japan is an East Asian country that for many years thrived in almost perfect isolation from the rest of the world, this is why we sometimes think of the Japanese people as a bit quirky and a bit eccentric. But that’s mostly a stereotype I think, most of the Japanese people I’ve met have been very friendly, interesting and chatty people and although they do tend to be a little different in their dress sense, and I don’t say that in a bad way, there’s a refreshing individualism to the Japanese people. They tend to want to stand out and have a sort of innate coolness that doesn’t come from trying too hard but seems to just come naturally to them.

I’ve noticed this in their art, films and music as well; culturally the Japanese have an interesting, thoughtful and uniquely creative approach to making music, film and art. Some of the best examples of this come in the form of animated movie colossus Hayao Miyazaki, who makes very, very good animated fairy tales, based largely on the strong Japanese mythical culture which comes from telling ghost stories and generally being a little bit to fascinated by nuclear accidents.

His Studio Ghibli film company is responsible for some of the very finest animated film works, Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away are especially fine films and well worth watching, as much for the intricate detailing of the animation as the quality of the stories and the staggering attention to detail of the work that Miyazaki puts into his celluloid fairy-tales.

If animated movies aren’t your bag then you could always try one of their actual movies, often violent, sometimes spookier than a witches photo album, but almost always interesting. The Japanese have made some of the best movies inrecent years. If my Other Half was writing this you couldn’t get her to shut up about the Death Note movies, which you can find in both Manga form or as an actual movie, and they are very good. They blend natural suspense with fantastical mythology. Or if you fancy a sort quasi-apocalyptic, societies all gone to Hell mentalfest then there’s Battle Royale, which is very violent and focuses on a group of school children purposely stranded on a remote island by a government that is trying to teach it's feral youth a lesson, it's a similar message to the one in a Clockwork Orange, in that the whatever level of shit a society stoops down to, the justification in violent, mind changing severe solutions aren't an answer, the kids are pitched into an all vs all battle to the death and quickly become very Lord Of The Flies terrifying when the game begins ad they've all got weapons, only one of the school-children can get off the remote island alive in a very life or death game, because the only way to win is to be the last person alive at the end of the game, I told you the Japanese were a bit mental.

Then there’s the horror films, now we all know a ghoulish, murderous spirit in The Grudge followed around that Sarah Michelle Geller, from off of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but this movie is a remake of a Japanese movie of the same name, although in Japan, it’s called Ju-On, which means The Grudge (funnily enough) and is pretty much the same movie, only scarier and better.

Likewise the Ring series were originally Japanese films, although they were called Ringu, like Pingu, but with much more creepy unpleasantness and less wholesome, comedy penguin fun. This tale of a haunted videotape is as unnerving and weird as it is compelling. It’s quite an interesting concept as well because if you’re watching the thing at home, on a video/DVD, then that gives the fact that the evil thing that’s going to kill everything has an added level of creepiness because while you’re watching the damn thing and having a little poo of fright every time the bloody thing starts clicking and going nuts you’re kind of thinking it could well becoming from my fucking telly and then you really start to shit yourself.

But if none of that floats your boat you could always go and see Japan live, like JLC did (I'd nearly forgotten about him), you could go to Tokyo and mingle with the other 25,000,000 people all busy-beeing about the hoofing megatropolis but if you fancy your culture a little less hectic and a bit more serene, then there’s always the excellent monkeys, or Japanese Macaques as they’re better known, these cute, furry fellas live in and around thermal springs in a fairly remote, mountainous and wooded area of Japan and spend most of their days escaping the very cold weather by having a bath in the natural hot-springs that dot the frosty mountain forest. If you go and see them the nearby towns have lots of bathhouses where you can take a break from macaque hunting and take a relaxing spa in one of the traditional cabins and splosh about in the thermal spring waters with some complete naked strangers. You even get your own kimono and wooden flip-flops (and yes this is the one and only time you’re allowed to wear flip-flops if you’re a bloke who isn’t an Olympic level swimmer) and you can take a leisurely stroll up and down the main street of the town going from one bathhouse to another, if you fancy that kind of thing (and no, bathhouse isn’t Japanese for brothel, or soapy massage parlour, it just means bathhouse).

There, it's not hard to get a Japanese cultural exposé going and the befit of reading this instead of watching Justin Lee Collins is that you never have to watch Justin Lee Collins, ever again if you don't want to. There, Japan done.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Pierre Hoots Back Into Action

So, football’s back is it? Will it never end? Seemingly not. There is something to be said for the David Walliams point of view that goes “I don’t see why they have to keep playing every year, why can’t they just decide who’s best and then just stop?” Well I think several girls and probably a few Aston Villa supporters with not very much else to look forward to would probably agree with that. But the owl cares, and as the premium ornithological football predictor currently working in sports blogging he’s back on the case, as ever, to give you the complete run down on the weekend’s packed premier league fixture programme. Whooopppeeee, oh and keep an eye out for his look at the new baseball season which kicks off, quite strangely in Japan quite soon. Exciting new ventures for the swivel necked, rodent gobbling sports freak.

Barclay’s Premier League

Saturday 31st May

Aston Villa Vs Chelsea
Villa Park
Kick Off: 3:00pm

Dreary, tedious, uncompetitive, pointless, no it’s not the new series of The Apprentice but the prospect of reviewing Aston Villa again. It’s been a long season and at times an interesting one, the emergence of money bags Manchester City as genuine title challengers, Tottenham briefly assuming the mantle of best team in London for the first time in two decades, the respective problems of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea at various points this season, Newcastle’s genuinely surprising and even though I’m not a massive fan, refreshing emergence as the “surprise package” of the season, the excellent first season performances of Swansea and Norwich and a five-way battle for relegation, it’s all good. And then there’s Aston Villa, plodding about in a sea of mediocrity like a cruise ship that only goes to the Isle of Wight, never being good enough to be a threat to anyone who matters and never being quite dire enough to be dragged into the relegation battle. Like I said, Aston Villa are just a pointless, irritating presence in the world’s most exciting football championship, for almost every fan of every other team in the premier league it’s the one weekend where you don’t feel so bad taking a weekend off and spending time pottering around DIY shops with the missus and the kids. The same goes for Chelsea, they’ve just played one of their closest rivals in a crucial game that could easily have decided whether or not they’ll finish in the crucial top four positions in the league and then a mid week trip to exotic Lisbon, and now back to Earth for a trip to Birmingham to play “yawn” Aston Villa. Away win.

Prediction: Aston Villa 0 – Chelsea 2

Everton Vs West Bromwich Albion
Goodison Park

Kick Off: 3:00pm
So, Everton, as sure as eggs is eggs, and as reliably as the changes of the seasons and the tides of the sea, get their act together after Christmas and win football games, a feat that seemed almost totally beyond them pre-the festive turkey. Aside from losing the Merseyside derby and a narrow home defeat to a resurgent Arsenal they’ve been on quite a run of good form, a run that sees them in the Cup semi-finals and up to 9th in the league, and with Sunderland away at Manchester City and Liverpool facing a tough trip to Newcastle on Sunday, this game provides them with another opportunity to move up some more places. A win at Swansea was made further impressive with a win at Sunderland in midweek and not many teams have won in those two grounds in a long while, and I can’t see West Brom having enough to get a victory at Goodison either, although they have been quite hard to predict in recent weeks. Smashing up local rivals Wolves and then Sunderland and scoring nine goals while they were doing it has been slightly negated by getting a bit run over by Newcastle and a few tricky away fixtures. The Baggies have been inconsistent and until they scored five against Wolves had been a bit goal shy and because of that I’m of a mind to give Everton a comfortable win here, and it would be a fitting conclusion to the season if they could go on to win the cup and give David Moyes his first trophy as manager after all these years. He deserves to win one and he deserves to be given a budget that reflects his abilities as a manager.

Prediction: Everton 2 – West Brom 0

Fulham Vs Norwich City
Craven Cottage
Kick Off: 3:00pm

The goals have dried up for The Pog & for Fulham,
can they get back on track against the Canaries.
This might be a decent game of football, both have players who can score goals, both play in a similar go forward style and both have a decent shot of winning this game, there isn’t a huge amount to choose between the two sides. The home advantage is probably a good indicator as to where the three points should go, although that didn’t help Fulham against Swansea the other week, and the fact that Grant Holt, Norwich’s leading scorer this season, and the 2nd best English striker in the league on goals scored, is out suspended after picking up a red card in last weekend’s crucial win over doomed looking Wolves, a win that should see them safe this season and which means they can cruise a bit through the last two months of a long campaign, but none of those things means that Fulham are going to win, or Norwich for that matter, score draw here fella.

Prediction: Fulham 2 – Norwich 2

Manchester City Vs Sunderland
Etihad Stadium
Kick Off: 3:00pm

Man City have to lose at home at some point, but it won’t be in this game. In fact it’s pretty vital for the title run-in that they do win this one with the way they keep dropping silly away points, I mean, who in the world lets a telescopically-legged freak score from 35 yards out? The man looks like he plays on stilts. Anyway, if they keep drifting the title race will drift off and be done and boring come the time City and United meet in April and if that game doesn’t decide who wins the league then the season will have to go down as being altogether pointless for everyone involved. Home win.

Prediction: Man City 2 – Sunderland 0

Queens Park Rangers Vs Arsenal
Loftus Road
Kick Off: 3:00pm

Just what you want when you badly need to win a game of football? An Arsenal side that’s won seven straight games and who seem to have remembered how to score goals. Unlucky QPR but I doubt there’s a more obvious away win in the league this weekend.

Prediction: QPR 0 – Arsenal 2

Wigan Athletic Vs Stoke City
DW Stadium
Kick Off: 3:00pm

Wigan haven't lost in a fair while,
they need to start converting draws
into wins.
Wigan proved last week that they’re at least fighting to stay in the league and whether it proves that they timed it just right or whether their efforts will go largely unrewarded we’ll see in the next two months. They have eight games, including this one, to stay up and even if they win all of them they aren’t guaranteed to do that, but winning here at least gives them a shot, especially as Blackburn are playing a totally on-form Manchester United who seem to be in the mood to win every game between now and the end of the season. Things in Wigan’s favour seem to be that their run in is reasonable, there are winnable games left for them to play, including this one, and they’ve been here before and they know how to survive. Against them is that they don’t score enough goals, they don’t keep clean sheets and in a narrow relegation battle that may come down to the odd point or two or even goal difference come May, they have the worst goal difference of all the five teams threatened with the drop, except Wolves, and if they lose at home to Bolton they’re as good as relegated. I think Wigan will probably win this game, Stoke can still finish relatively high in the league and Tony Pulis isn’t the sort of manager that accepts things if his side stop playing before Easter but they don’t have much to play for and Wigan absolutely do. If they can find a way to score the goals that their play should merit then they could still survive, although I’m of a mind to say they won’t, but I think they will win this and at least keep those chances alive for a while longer, because slipping more than one win behind Bolton and Blackburn isn’t good at this stage of the season.

Prediction: Wigan 2 – Stoke 0

Wolverhampton Wanderers Vs Bolton Wanderers
Kick Off: 3:00pm

If Wolves don’t win this then they’re fucked and with the weight of the entire football world behind Bolton at the moment after the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Fabrice Muamba there’s going to be very little in the way of sympathy heading towards the North Midlands if they take three points here. Not that anyone wearing orange shirts will mind that, it’s just that it won’t happen so it’s a moot point. Away win.

Stan Collymore scores the winner in one of the
Premier League's epic Newcastle vs Liverpool ties.
Prediction: Wolves 0 – Bolton 2

Sunday 1st April

Newcastle United Vs Liverpool
St James Park
Kick Off: 1:30

There’s normally goals in the fixtures between these two, when they were both very good and genuine title challengers they served up some high scoring humdingers, but that was a hell of a long time ago and both are battling to be 6th if we’re honest. Newcastle have probably surprised even themselves with how good a season they’ve had, Liverpool have surprised some people with how they aren’t really much better this season than they were last season under Roy Hodgson or the year before under Rafa Benitez, to the point where some fly-by-night dolts are already saying that the “saviour”, who has spent a whopping £35,000,000 on a telephone box with a pony tail, £20,000,000 on a chap who’s apparently come direct from the 1970s and £18,000,000 on a teenager who has one England cap, no European experience, one full season of premier league football and who once played (not particularly well) for Coventry City, should move aside and let someone who knows what they’re doing take over, which may or may not be the right move, I don’t much care either way, but this will be a home win.

Prediction: Newcastle 3 – Liverpool 1

Tottenham Hotspur Vs Swansea City
Whitehart Lane

Kick Off: 4:00pm

In the 1970s Spurs had players called Alan and Cyrille and Ralph and Steve and Martin (not Steve Martin, he’s an actor/comedian/banjolele player), they were good days, they won the UEFA Cup and they were regular challengers for the league title. In the 1980s Spurs had players like Ossie, Ricky, Clive and Glenn, and Steve (the same one) but no Martin, and they won the cup a couple of times, although they did also lose one to Coventry City (hahaha) and regularly finished in the top five in the league and made another UEFA Cup semi-final, although it’s mostly remembered now for being mostly a riot as Tottenham and Feyennord fans had a bit of a scrap. In the 1990s they had players like Paul and Gary and another Gary, the same Gary in fact who’s knee played a wonderful part in the winning goal of the 1987 FA Cup final for Coventry, they did win an FA Cup although it came at a price because it did involve Paul Gascoigne essentially ending his own career by going temporarily mad (he went permanently mad much later) and kicking his own kneecap off and then that was that really. For twenty years Spurs have been trying to work out why they aren’t as good as Arsenal or Manchester United or even those (previously) bloody useless pipsqueaks from Chelsea, and then Harry arrived and managed to mould little Gareth and tubby Rafael and thimble-sized Luca and machine driven Scott into what some people think is the best Spurs squad in a generation and a half, and yet they’re still not as good as Arsenal it seems, although they’ll win this and at least make Arsenal have to keep winning because Arsenal really don't want to have to go through the pesky business of having to qualify for the Champion’s League serious bit in August again like they have done the last two seasons.

Prediction: Tottenham 3 – Swansea 1

Monday 2nd April

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

Blackburn probably produced the shock result of this, or the last half a dozen, seasons when they won at Old Trafford just after Christmas. At that point Manchester United were looking wobblier than a Weeble who hadn't taken it’s Ritalin but right now the champions are looking just about unbeatable, and from what I can see aren’t having to play that well to do it, they just rock up and clobber teams, although maybe the memo didn’t get circulated as far as Bilbao otherwise they’d still have the pesky business of playing Thursday night football in the UEFA Cup to negotiate but still, that’s all history, as are most things before that happened before I wrote this, but the crucial thing to remember is that Manchester United will win this, it won’t look either pretty or convincing and it will only be by a goal, that’s right, I’m backing off from predicting a 7-0 win for the Reds even though I know one’s coming. Even Lance says it’s in the tealeaves, or whatever the hairy, pink arsed beast uses to predict shit.

Prediction: Blackburn 1 – Manchester United 2

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The 8 Words of Ash - Brighton Rock

In which Ashley looks at a new adaptation of an old classic and makes a fundamental error in the process. His review is of the 2010 remake of the 1947 adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel. Sam Riley stars as Pinkie Brown with Andrea Riseborough as Rose. Here’s what Ashley thought: -

GREAT film - outstanding originality. Riley = riveting. Extreme ending!

{Now I would like the book and the 1947 film thank you please!}

Erm, Ashley dear boy, if something is a copy of something else, especially if it’s a copy of something that was already an adaptation of something it can’t be classed as original. It can be classed as different, better, more modern, sillier, fruitier or even painted in a less pleasing shade of off-white but not original, even if it doesn’t look anything like the original thing. Pedantry rules I’m afraid.

Right, on with the review, I started to read Graham Greene’s book some years ago, and for a reason that I can’t remember I stopped reading it shortly after that, it’s not that it was bad I don’t think. I’ve read one of Greene’s other books, Our Man In Havana all the way through, twice, and I greatly enjoyed that, so it isn’t the author either. I do occasionally have a habit of putting a book down and forgetting about it, and it’s rare that a book is “so” bad that I abandon it entirely, although the follow up to Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho came very close. And Brighton Rock certainly wasn’t that bad, in fact I doubt it was bad at all, I just put it down and didn’t pick it back up again.

All I know about the original movie is that it has Dickie Attenborough in it, and I may be wrong but I’d put money on it being an almost word-for-word facsimile of the script of the book, not that that’s a bad thing, it just seemed to be the way of things when people were making movies based on novels back in the day, I guess people wanted to see the characters that they liked from the stories brought to life in a way that they recognised. Good, that’ll do. Culture 101 is now closed, make your way to the doors, no running in the corridors and don’t forget to hand in your coursework.

Check out the trailer for the 2010 film version below.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Coventry Jets Announce Preece Signing

Alex Preece in action for the Lincoln Colonials
Photo by

Coventry continue to pick up young talent as they prepare for their 2012 season opener at the Nottingham Caesars. Their latest addition is another Youth Academy prospect in the shape of Alex Preece. The speedy wide receiver not only has two years experience in the Juniors, including being named player of the year in his 2010 debut season, but has just completed his first year with the Lincoln Colonials of the British Universities American Football League.

Preece’s achievements also include being named the Jets Special Teams Player of the Year last season and he’ll be expected to contribute there straightaway for what was one of the weakest parts of the Jets seniors in 2011. “Alex is a very committed young man” said Head Coach Paul Rickhuss “he has great speed and an explosive burst that will trouble defenders.”

Those qualities, combined with his raw athleticism, have seen Preece named in the Great Britain Junior squad. “I am ecstatic to be a part of the Great Britain Program and see it as a great step in my progression in the sport” said Preece, continuing “I hope to be a part of a successful season and have as big an impact with the Seniors as possible. I am proud to just be a part of this organisation, let alone be trusted to take the field with them.”

A Student of Sports Business Management, the 19 year old Preece is itching to get started “I’m very happy and exited to move on from the Junior team to bigger and better things. Obviously there’ll be more of a spotlight on me now and that brings its own pressures but I can't wait to experience another level of football. I’m eager to show off my skills to the coaches and let them make an informed decision into how much they believe I can contribute to this seasons football. I have always been a part of the Jets and am fully committed to the team and looking to give 110% to make sure my contribution is as valuable as possible.”

“The team has a lot of big characters and I feel that, with a lot of my team-mates and friends stepping into the senior team with me, I can fit in nicely. The coaches are very committed to making this team progress as far as possible and I respect that immensely. I especially enjoy the professionalism of the Coventry Jets and believe it is heading to big things in its future. I’m proud of my involvement in every team that I've played in and proud of every team's performance that I have been a part of. I don't take the effort put in by my team mates and coaches for granted, they’re all working hard to help me and the team progress.”

“Obviously having spent two years straight in the junior set-up I became very comfortable being coached by senior players such as Adam Biggs and Kieran McManus” said the chatty Balsall Common native “witnessing them create the team from scratch and coach it to success in only two seasons filled me with a huge amount of respect for them and it is going to be great to join them on the field in the same uniform.” If you’d like to join Alex and the Jets visit their new website.

The 8 Words of Ash – Star Trek

Ashley takes a look at the most recent incarnation of the Star Trek franchise, here’s how that went……

Very enjoyable "reboot" - Great Sci-Fi, not just "Trekkies"!

Something really is going wrong, three days on the trot that I’ve agreed with Ashley’s cultural judgement on something, and Ashley likes the Stereo-fecking-phonics and Oasis.

Anyway, you’re not not paying to hear about my cultural world collapsing around my ears like the big, evil computer did at the end of Superman 3; you want to know about the movie right? Erm, you don’t? You’ve already either seen it or decided not to bother and this review makes no difference either way to that? Oh ok, then, so you don’t want to know that Chris Pine was very good as James T. Kirk then? Or that Zachary Quinto was equally as convincing as a young Spock, and his job was made harder by the fact that the real Spock, Leonard Nimoy, is actually in the movie? Or that Simon Pegg’s fake Scottish accent is as laughably shit as anything that arch bad accenteers such as Ewan McGregor, Brad Pitt, Mel Gibson or Russell Crowe ever managed to get away with? Oh alright then, I’ll shush, but Star Trek is available to buy from Amazon for a very reasonable five English pounds.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – True Romance

A blog post in which Ashley gets very hot under the collar about Christian Slater, briefly.

Not Natural Born Killers, but a fair ride.

True Romance is nearly 20 bloody years old now, time flies when you’re pottering through life I guess. It was written by Quentin Tarantino, when he was still quite good at writing things, and directed by Tony Scott, who brought us such quality film vehicles as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Enemy Of The State and Crimson Tide, but who is also responsible for cinematic horseshit like Days of Thunder, Domino and the utterly terrible remake of The A-Team (as a Producer), so it’s touch and go whether True Romance is going to be any good.

The good news is that True Romance is a bit of a cult hit, especially with girls (because of Christian Slater being quite yummy, although I’ve always wondered why they fell quite so hard for the floppy quiff myself) and a lot of people seem to like the thing, but I’ve had flaming arguments with people about whether or not the Nicholas Cage – John Travolta powered movie Face-Off is any good, mostly because it’s a dreadful movie but some people don’t think that this is a true fact based fact, much like the existence of God.

So just because people like a thing it doesn’t automatically mean it’s any good. But by now you’ve probably sensed that I’m waffling a bit, and I am. Well technically I’m stalling. I’m stalling because I haven’t actually seen the movie and although that hasn’t stopped me from reviewing something in the past, I do normally need to have an opinion on the thing that I’ve not seen, like my review of Noel Gallagher’s – High Flying Birds or The Iron Lady blog post that I did, but in this instance I have nothing much else to say except that I have seen Natural Born Killers and I didn’t much like that and so if Ashley thinks that True Romance isn’t as good as that then that can’t be a good sign, although Ashley is frequently wrong about matters of culture, like he is with one of Tony Scott’s more successful artistic outpourings Enemy Of The State, which you can read about here – The 8 Words Of Ash – By One Get Six Free.

True Romance does get 7.9 out of 10 on IMDb’s reader rating thing though, whereas Natural Born Killers only averages 7.1 out of 10, so I suppose this kind of backs that up really, you can trust Ashley’s rather dubious critical eye or you can trust the rest of the Internet, or you could just ignore all of them and save yourself two hours by not watching True Romance or Natural Born Killers, it really is up to you.

A word of warning though, and this really isn’t up to you, you definitely shouldn’t watch Face-Off, and very definitely don’t watch The A-Team. Really!

Monday, 26 March 2012

The 8 Words of Ash - White Van Man

Ashley’s had a look back at BBC Three sitcom White Van Man to give us his thoughts ahead of it’s DVD release next Monday (the 2nd of April). Will Mellor plays Ollie, a man with business dreams who has to put them on hold while he takes over the family handyman business from his father Tony, played by Clive Mantle. So what did Ashley make of it all?

Good, but not sure if I like him?!

Well, I suffer no such indecisiveness when it comes to Mr Mellor, I’d even go so far as to say I greatly prefer his toe-sucking namesake, former MP, David Mellor. I still hold Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps against Will Mellor, no one involved with that shitcom should ever have worked again. Regardless of my opinions White Van Man was the highest rated launch for a sitcom on BBC Three, which admittedly might mean that four people watched it, I haven’t looked into the figures.

Okay, I’ve been and done my research, it had almost a million viewers, with the first series averaging well over 800,000 watching. The second series has plummeted to around half that, so some people do have some taste at least. Anyway, the series finale is on this Thursday (29th of March 2012) at 21:30 with the DVD of series two being released the following Monday.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Coventry Jets Announce Penrice Signing

Matthew Penrice in action for the Derby Braves.
Photo courtesy of Karl Hayes Photography Copyright 2011
The Coventry Jets have announced the latest in a string of signings for their 2012 season in the shape of tight end Matthew Penrice. The 23 year old Theatre Arts graduate will link up with former Derby Braves team mate Joe Brammer at the Jets after the two recently completed their season in the British University American Football League.

A Rugby convert, Penrice is looking forward to getting started at the Jets “I’d played Rugby since I was eight and only stopped when I took up American Football at the University of Derby” said the Newcastle native “I'm really looking forward to starting my Jets journey, I've heard much about the Jets and hope to contribute to the revamped team. This will be my first season in the senior league and I hope to get some serious playing time. It will be very exciting to compete with some of the best out there and hopefully go on to the post season and a championship. I hope this is the beginning of a long career at the Jets.”

Penrice will make his debut away to the Nottingham Caesars on the 15th of April and will be looking to add to the trophies that he won in his Rugby days. During his time in Northumberland, Penrice won both the County Plate and County Cup with Ponteland RFC. Apart from playing at the University of Derby he has also begun his coaching career with the Braves. “Matthew’s a very intelligent young man” said Head Coach Paul Rickhuss of his latest addition.

“He reads the game very well and his addition instantly makes us a better team. He blocks well, has great hands and brings more athleticism than you’d expect from the tight end position. He’ll create match up problems for most linebackers and I expect him and Joe to benefit greatly from already having a University season together.”

Penrice said of his time with Brammer “Joe’s a great young quarterback and throws the ball not only quickly but very accurately. He brings a wealth of knowledge with him from his time in the states and I believe that truly benefited the Braves this year. He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen in the University league and coaching him has been a pleasure, his passion for the game is unrivalled. I'm looking forward to his progression, he’ll go on to great things, I have no doubt about that.” If you’d like to join Matthew and the Jets visit their new website.

Single Review No1: 26-03-2012

Ok so Adam had a thought the other week, it was a bit like one of those ancient Greek type Eureka moments, you know, when some beardy clever clogs did some science in the bath? Or, if you’d like a more modern cultural reference, when George Costanza has a misguided epiphany on a pier in Seinfeld, you know? No? Oh fuck you!

Anyway, that sort of happened to Adam, only he wasn’t in the bath, or on a pier, in fact as far as I knew he had been trying to explain sex to Ashley * again *, which is quite a common occurrence at Cold Ghetto Towers, I was ignoring it because I had a go at doing it once and I vowed never to do it again, there’s only so much eye-twitching, frontal lobe detonating pain one man can take in an afternoon and so I was miles away with my head in the Puffin Book of Penguin Facts for last weeks exposé into the fascinating world of penguins and their frost proof feet, and so all was well in my world.

But I could sense something was up, like a disturbance in the force, or an incoming storm of doom flopping into the sunny skyline seemingly from out of nowhere, I looked up from my book, and there was Adam, starring into the middle distance. I thought he’d finally flipped his mental wig, that Ashley had finally broken his Editor-in-chiefness with his doltish ways. I was half expecting to have to dive in and stop Adam from forcing feeding the demonstrator Ken & Barbie dolls he was using to give Ashley some sort of visual aid into the mechanics of sexy sex.

That was until Adam started capering about the office like one of Henry VIII’s favourite fools gone nuts on Angel Dust, you know the kind of thing I mean, a dude with a hat with bells on it and a bladder on a stick, the scene quickly became even more surreal when Adam started to juggle the six inch pieces of plastic consumerist tat as he danced around the office.

Now this is unusual behaviour, even for Adam, and so I was bit worried the pressure of editor-in-chiefing this nonsense had finally got to him, it’s a high-pressure job and it had to happen at some point right?

I was all set to go at him with a butterfly net and a straightjacket, don’t ask why we’ve got those lying around the office, it’s a long story and no one comes out of it with any credit, but the boss finally stopped twirling like the world’s most giant, most hairy, most uncoordinated and most eeeeuuuurrrhhhhgggghhh music-box ballerina and finally shouted “Singles”. Alarm bells rang straight away, I’ve just finished reading Jon Ronson’s excellent The Psychopath Test and I’m fairly sure randomly blurting out words like someone with Tourrette’s Syndrome was one of the thirty classic signs that someone has gone danger-nuts to a high level.

I didn’t know whether to send Ashley down the shop to buy some Dairylea slices, seeing as that was what Adam’s volatile state-of-mind and this excitable agitation seemed to centre around, or call the emergency services. I was determined to make no sudden movements, anything could startle him at this point and I’m no expert in super-psychotic madness or what to do if someone all of a sudden does some unexplained giddy dance-juggling.

Now I was in a proper head-scratching pickle, I needed to calm Adam down, or get him sedated and because I wouldn’t normally trust Ashley to cross the road safely, let alone go to the shops for some emergency tasteless sandwich cheese, lord alone knows what the dingbat would bring back to the office, a bunch of flowers, a selection of garden gnomes, a Star Wars Lego Imperial Tie-Fighter, a packet of Sherbet Dib-Dabs, a pocket full of conkers, some instant Angel Delight mix, anything could happen, but you’re unlikely to get cheese, plus I figured that if I went that meant leaving Adam alone with Ashley while I hot-footed it to the shop, and that didn’t seem like any sort of sensible plan at all.

I finally opened a channel of dialogue, speaking in as soothing and calming voice as possible “I don’t think we have any cheese?”

“I don’t want cheese.” Adam responded.

“But you said you wanted singles?” I said, trying to stay calm.

“Not that sort of singles. Music singles, you know? Beyonce, Madonna, Level 42?”

“Oh, right, what about them?”

“We should review them, you know for when they come out, so people know if they should buy them or not?”

“Because of what we say?”
“Yeah, why not? We get over 200 followers a day, and we’ve had over 27,000 unique visitors to the blog since last July, some of them have got to be smart right?”
“I guess, but why would they listen to us? Who the fuck are we?”

“Well, you know, you did write that piece about Moustaches that more than 2000 people have read that? These people will read anything?”

“I suppose so, does that mean I’d actually have to listen to pop music though?”

“Erm, yeah a bit. Well, quite a lot probably.”


And so with that being the situation, here’s our first crack at music reviewing. Each week we’ll look at five new release singles and giving you our verdict as well as rating each out of 10. Steve goes first, Adam's thoughts follow in italics.

Singles – Release Date: 26 – 03 -2012

Plan B – ill Manors

It’s kind of catchy, I’ve listened to it three times now and although I almost certainly wouldn’t buy it I definitely get why the yoof like it, it’s also comfortably the best single of the week, which when you look at the competition isn’t saying much but it’s not Plan B’s fault the music world is full of shite. A decent enough effort, kind of like an angrier, better, less irritating The Streets. I don’t mind the Prodigy remix either, de ne ner ne ne ner, booop, booop, boooop, beeeepp, cllaaaang, boooop de ne ner ne ne ner. Agreed, social discontent often throws up interesting bits of culture, this isn’t that though, but it does seem to sum up the feelings of today’s urbanite youth. It’s really not my bag at all, and considering this site is named after our foray into gangster rap, but it is far and away the best of our weekly five. The Prodigy remix is much better.

Rating (Out of 10): 5

Chris Brown – Turn Up the Music

Oh fuck off Chris! The sort of paint by numbers, overly engineered, voice encoded horse-piss that strangled the life out of proper urban music long ago, I blame Puff Daddy, and Chris Brown. Oh and he’s a woman beating toss rag as well so that’s at least two really good reasons not to buy this shite. Well, I like it a little more than Steve does, but he raises a good point, I’m as likely to buy a Gary Glitter best of as give this turd any of my ill-gotten gains. I blame that French bloke for this sort of dross, no, not Nicolas Sarkozy, David Guetta… the bastard!

Rating: 3

James Morrison – One Life

I was going to listen to each of these singles at least twice, but I can’t do it. The sort of God-awful nonsense that I thought we’d all finished with. Tedious balladeering toss for the sort of twats who would buy one of the easy listening CD’s from a Starbucks or the Friends soundtrack. Gutless pish. Seriously, I’d rather puke toxic bile onto my crotch and watch as my genitals turn to mush than listen to that again. Cynically marketed advert soundtrack bilge.

Rating: 1 (and that’s because I’m not sure if we go as low as 0)

Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up

Is this what we’ve become? Giddy about fucking and shit, whining on like a twanging, sugary lump of overly schmaltzy schmaltz. No wonder David Cameron thinks he can take a running piss at us all. Jesus wept. I refer you to my earlier comments regarding James Morrison.

Rating: 2

Lostprophets – Bring ‘Em Down

Are these twats back? Why? I thought we’d lost them in last years riots, and good riddance it all was too. Noisy, childish, silly, bollocks. And not in a good way. Still at least they aren’t twanging on about their love dumb feelings. Well, this really is a week that will go down as one of the nails in the coffin of singles. I haven’t heard a Lost Prophets record since that Shinobi versus Wobbly Codpiece debut they had out and I really hoped I’d never hear another one, oh well, at least if the Mayan’s were right I might never hear another one.

Rating: 3

So there you have it, Plan B wins single of the week in our first time out... I hope next week's a little better than this... I doubt it though. On another note, the radio station I usually listen to went to a commercial so I tuned in Radio 1, I lasted 30 seconds, utter shite!

DVD/Blu-ray New Releases 26.03.12

Well, we have quantity this week but we don’t have quite the same quality as last week. We do have another poor effort from Nic Cage though, this time he’s looking for Justice in Roger Donaldson’s revenge thriller. There’s comedy in the shape of 50/50, horror in The Awakening and The Thing and animation with Puss In Boots and Happy Feet Two. We’ll start though with a reissue of Gregg Araki indie road movie The Doom Generation.

We’ll start with what was the second part of Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy, it’s hard to recommend as I couldn’t begin to imagine who the target audience is. James Duval, Rose McGowan and Johnathon Schaech star in a bizarre love triangle. They get mixed up in a crime and have lots of sex, it gets a bit weird and you’ll spend most of it scratching your head. There are funny moments but to bill this as a comedy is generous in the extreme. It’s quite gruesome but it’s very cheap so loses the impact. So, it’s much the same as the rest of Araki’s work, check out our review of Kaboom for details of more of his work.

Now, a comedy that is actually funny, and sad, and touching, and just all around good. 50/50 has received criticism for being misogynist, I don’t agree, it’s a comedy that focuses on two men. Yes, one of the female leads is portrayed as a bit of a shit, but some women are shitty. Some men are shitty too and when they are played as such in films there isn’t a problem, because, as mentioned, some are arseholes, well, most in fact, but that’s besides the point. Will Reiser wrote the film about his own experiences of dealing with cancer and being given a 50/50 chance of surviving it.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Adam, who’s diagnosed with a rare cancer, with Seth Rogen playing Kyle, his best friend and workmate. If you can tolerate Rogen you should enjoy this film, I have no issue with him, I’ve enjoyed the majority of his output so far and this is no different. JGL gives a good performance and his portrayal was touching, I laughed and cried during the film and thought it was one of 2011’s best comedies.

Happy Feet Two is an American/Australian sequel to 2006’s penguin cartoon and whilst the original made a fortune, the follow-up’s return has been far more modest. I found it barely watchable, in fact, I walked out of the room about midway through and left my daughters to finish it. They weren’t impressed either, I found nothing of merit in a film whose voice cast features Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon… I could go on. The girls reported that there was one funny bit, which I won’t ruin for you, and way too much singing. So, you might like it… if you like musicals.

Justice is our weekly offering from Nicolas Cage, it’s worse than last weeks Trespass, no, that’s not true, it’s on a par with it. I really wouldn’t bother. It’s about a man that agrees to have some bloke that he’s never met exact revenge on someone that attacked his wife. Of course there’s a price though, Cage is then indebted to the bloke he’s never met before, will he have to come good on his end of the bargain or can he find a way out… who cares?

The Awakening should perhaps have done what The Woman in Black is currently doing at the box office, it didn’t though. Perhaps it’s because the producers of WiB went for a 12A rating, The Awakening is a 15. It’s no worse a film, it’s not quite as tense a horror as WiB though the premise is effectively the same. Nick Murphy’s movie is set in 1921 at a boarding school in rural England. With the holidays underway Rebecca Hall’s supernatural debunking author is free to investigate a mysterious death and sightings of a ghostly boy.

Dominic West plays the love interest and Imelda Staunton assists as the obligatory maid. The performances are fine and there are enough jumps and scares, however, it falls down towards the end as the mystery is revealed and the plot unravels into quite extraordinary nonsense. This weeks other horror offering is a prequel that effectively remakes a remake of Howard Hawks’ 1951 film The Thing from Another World.

Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s 2011 version of The Thing is almost a scene for scene remake of John Carpenters 30 year old classic. I’ve said before I don’t like remakes, but I don’t mind if they’re offering something new or modernising the story. This doesn’t really do either, Carpenter’s special effects were cutting edge at the time and still stand up today so there’s no need for this at all. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton as part of a team of Norwegian and American scientists who discover an alien buried deep in the ice of Antarctica, realizing too late that it is still alive, consuming and replicating the team members. It’s not a bad film but you’re better off watching the original, no, not the original, the middle one… from 1982.

Last, but by no means least, is Puss in Boots a spinoff prequel to the Shrek franchise. It follows the eponymous character, voiced by Antonio Banderas, on his adventures before his first appearance in 2004’s Shrek 2. Accompanied by his sidekicks, Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws, Puss is pitted against Jack and Jill, two murderous outlaws in ownership of legendary magical beans which lead to great fortune.

The problem with Puss in Boots is that it’s criminally dull. I was frankly staggered at how dull a film they’d managed to make. My seven and nine year old daughters said it was okay, which basically meant it was slightly better than doing homework. So, film of the week has to go to 50/50. Next week doesn’t exactly look like a classic either, oh well. Don’t worry about how underwhelming this has all been, you have our new weekly music feature to look forward to. As from this afternoon we’ll be giving you our thoughts on five of forthcoming weeks single releases… brilliant!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – Southern Comfort & More

As you have probably spotted by now Ashley watches an awful lot of stuff, here’s some of the movies he’s been watching and what he thought about them.

Southern Comfort - Nicely unexpected adventure - quite harsh + tense. Good characters.

Bull Durham - Cool Costner + Rare Robbins + Seductive Sarandon = Good game!

Bridge to Terabithia - Bit silly . . . but one unexpected, shocking, poignant moment!

Disturbia - Not a LaBeouf fan, but keeps you guessing . . .

Son of Babylon - Sweet tale - cool kid, little laughs, interesting setting.

Flame & Citron (aka Flammen & Citronen) - Building, tense, engrossing, subtitled Drama - sometimes full-on!

A Good Woman - Not my thing - alright but not that wild!

The Notorious Bettie Page - Quite a quirky, strange-ish story! Probs fancy her . . .

That’s quite a menagerie of films there, a baseball movie from the sickly sweet heart of America, family fantasy drama, some retro filth, some foreign stuff about the Danish resistance in World War II and an Iraqi movie about a young boy and his Grandmother looking for the boy’s missing father, with subtitles. The only one of them I’ve seen is Bull Durham, and although it was a long time ago I do remember liking it. It was in Kevin Costner’s I’m still making watchable, good movies phase, before the curse of The Bodyguard struck and he was forced into making utter garbage like Waterworld and The Postman.

The Flame & Citron movie sounds interesting from the description on IMDb and it scores a creditable 7.2 out of 10 in the viewers ratings so it might be worth a look. Also scoring a decent 7.2 is the little known Iraqi movie Son of Babylon, which sees Ahmed and his Grandmother journey across Iraq to find the missing link in the family unit, the boy’s father & the grandmother’s son.

A little less well received, at least by the combined viewer score on IMDb, is A Good Woman, which is an adaptation of an Oscar Wilde story and which stars Scarlett Johansson. It wracks up a score of 6.5 out of 10 and that’s ok I suppose if the movie appears on your tellybox and there’s not much else on to watch but I doubt it means you have to rush out to buy it right now.

But back above the 7 out of 10 line for Bridge to Terabithia, a family drama about the lives of a couple of teenagers and the struggle that it is to grow up in the modern world, the teenagers get around these issues by creating an imaginary world, Terabithia, and I suppose everything works out in the end and blah blah blah, it does have Zooey Duschanel in it, and I would have said that alone justifies the 7.2 out of 10 that it scores on IMDb but having seen her stab at situation comedy I’m not as sure about that as I once was.

Another popular chunk of a movie is Southern Comfort, which sounds a bit to me like Deliverance only without Burt Reynolds, or “that scene” (you know the one) and with Fred Ward and Keith Carradine instead. It’s directed by Walter Hill, who made 48hrs and The Warriors so he at least knows his way around an entertaining film and it scores today’s most popular number, 7.2 out of 10, (starting to spot a pattern here Ashley). The basic jist is some National Guard soldiers upset some Cajun, hickfed, backwater type, yokel folks and all hell breaks loose in a swamp. All of which sounds watchable.

Which brings us to Disturbia, which is directed by everyone’s favourite ginger topped, standing like a teapot acting style actor/director David Caruso. It stars the big flavour of two years ago, Shia Labeouf, as a boy whose father dies and because of some sort of violent incident winds up under house arrest. He witnesses what looks like a murder and it all becomes exciting and covert and intriguing and other such adjectives. Oh and it sounds a lot like Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic psychological drama with James Stewart as a wheelchair bound nosey parker, only pumped full of modernity and the 21st century. It breaks the 7.2 out of 10 theme of the day by only scoring 6.9 out of 10 on IMDb but given a straight choice I’d rather watch this than Bridge to Terabithia.

Bettie Page, being notorious.
And so that leads us onto Ashley’s final movie which is the Notorious Bettie Page, a biopic about the first real American pin-up girl, who became notoriously famous for being skimpily dressed and large bosomed in the 1950s. Gretchen Mol, who played Matt Damon’s very pretty lawyer girlfriend in Poker based drama Rounders, is the notorious Bettie Page. And we follow her as she becomes Americas leading 1950s sex object for post-war pervs and gets embroiled in a senate investigation into some filthy bondage photos. It’s an 18 rated movie, so expect some boobs, nudity and a bit of spankedy spank action, in fact IMDB advises that “in one scene Page poses outdoors for a young male photographer and shows full female nudity (breasts, pubic hair, genitals, buttocks). There is also much topless only nudity during Page’s photo shoots and on magazine covers.” And “Several scenes with discussion and depictions of fetish related topics, mostly bondage and spanking.” Which proves it and which probably gave Ashley a worrying moment if his mum ever came in the room while he was watching the film. It scores a moderate but not disastrous 6.7 out of 10 on IMDb and so, like all of Ashley’s films, seems to be a watchable movie, although probably not with your gran or your kids.

There we are, that’s all over, you can go and do something else now. Goodbye.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The 8 Words of Ash – John Carter… of Mars… Confectionery

We thought we’d lost Ashley, even by his typically minimal communication levels he’d been unusually quiet. We figured he’d walked himself into a corner of a square room again and not been able to get himself free, a bit like a tortoise, but it turns out he’d just been sitting in an armchair starring blankly into space until someone dragged him to the cinema to watch the costly, Mars based, blockbuster movie John Carter, and, as you can see below, this spurred him right into action and we get the utter joy of finding out what he thinks. Good, yes? Go on Ashley, tell the ladies and gentlemen what you thought…

Shit + slow, long + laborious. Looks like Jack White.

Are we allowing that? I mean just using + as a substitute for “and” is a bit cheaty isn’t it? What kind of gits are we? Well we’ll skip on because if you ask me it’s nice to see young Ashley broadening his vocabulary, even if it’s only to ten words instead of the usual eight, small steps and all that.

Anyway, lets get on with taking apart this film and seeing what’s inside, like that Gunther Von Hagens chap and his dissecting of giant creatures, only with a movie, and with words, and not on Channel 4.

John Carter was this spring’s big fat sci-fi epic movie from the evil regime at Disneyland Paris. It was made by Andrew Stanton, the man who’s made billions of dollars for Disney with the Toy Story trilogy and other computer generated family-fun films, like Wall-E and Finding Nemo, but this is his first venture into working with real actors, with real cameras, on real sets and with a real story, well as real as you can get when you set a movie on Mars, where as we all know there isn’t an atmosphere, or any water, and so sustaining life on the Red Planet is a bit tricky, and it would seem that this applies to making movies about it as well, judging by what Ashley made of this and judging by what John Carpenter did with Ghosts of Mars.

John Carter was supposed to be Stanton’s big leap into the world of grown-up film making, and because he’d made them so much lovely cash, even more than Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean cobblers. He was given money by the bucket load, Disney Corp gave him $250,000,000 to make this thing, and presumably they had enough faith in his movie-making abilities to expect a handsome return on even that huge an investment.

It should be pointed out at this point that if some idiot gave me $250,000,000 to make a movie and they expected it to be exciting, fun and action-packed I think I could do it, in fact for that much I think I could make four half decent, exciting movies, with explosions. I mean this has never happened, or is likely to ever happen, so I have no real basis to make this claim but I’m fairly confident I could definitely make a movie that people wanted to see for a quarter of the cash that was spent on this, even if the people who paid for it wanted it set on Mars.

James Cameron making Avatar
Disney probably figured that the going rate for a smash mouth, space-based epic does run into the hundreds of millions these days (I blame James Cameron for this state of affairs, and Kevin Costner a bit as well) and because Stanton had been so very successful at making huge bundles of lovely Disney dollars before they figured that he knew what he was doing when they gave him the entire annual budget of Burundi to make a movie.

This may have been a bit of an error, because a report on the internet just this week highlighted Disney’s fear that their movie division is due to make a massive quarterly loss for the first three months of 2012 and that’s almost entirely due to this movie and the fact that to get their $250,000,000 back they’d need a lot more people to go to see it than have done so far, a fucking lot more.

Of course if Ashley’s review is to be believed, and it does echo some of the professional reviews I’ve seen, heard or read, the movie is deeply flawed. It seem to lack a basic energy or level of excitement that people expect from a $250,000,000 movie that’s supposed to blow your socks off. Also, some of the acting, especially from the man who presumably plays John Carter, Taylor Kitsch, lurches from wonky, to wooden, to “is he actually alive?” But is Stanton really to blame for these problems?

Well clearly yes, of course he is. He made the movie, he put Kitsch in the lead role, he spent all of that money on the movie and he made what Ashley calls “a shit, slow, long and laborious” movie, so all that’s his fault.

But James Cameron spent gazillions of dollars on his expensive, space-based epic, Avatar and that made tonnes of money, even though reports from the field suggest it’s equally flawed in much the same areas as John Carter. Like wise George “bastarding” Lucas has spent a terrible fortune making three of the worst films of all time with his horrific Star Wars prequel trilogy, and he pretty much invented this movie making blue print for all sci-fi films that have followed by making picking a pretty boy actor with all the charisma, timing and acting skill of a boiled potato and then plonking him in front of a big green screen and adding in explosions, tiny green Jedi and double ended lightsabres later and hoping that no one notices how shit it all was until after they’ve spent their $10 watching it. Again, those same terrible Star Wars prequels made the sort of money that would have bailed out Greece and so why have Lucas and Cameron seemingly gotten away with all of this expensive, CGI-laden tomfoolery, while John Carter’s suckiness level has left it a loss-making flop like the legendary loss-making movies Dune, Baron Munchausen and Waterworld?

Well maybe it’s because people figured out that just because you spend more money than Bernie Ecclestone’s stupid, spoilt children on dog shampoo and handbags and make 98% of the film on a computer isn’t a particularly good movie-making recipe and that for $250,000,000 you really do need to add a story, a script and some proper action to a movie instead of relying on CGI’d fireworks and a pretty tree in the lead roll.

It could also be because the film is based on a short story in a book of short stories with Mars as the theme, called Barsoom. It was written by Steam Punk novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs about 100 years ago, so around the time that contemporaries of Rice Burroughs like H.G. Wells and H.P. Lovecraft were creating the modern literary sci-fi/horror genre and so those stories had easily filmable themes and an exciting and different plot to get involved in, it seems that Rice Burroughs stories do have a running back story through them and fans of the author seem to like the lore behind the story as much as the story, so I think that getting that right would be an important part of making the movie.

We’re all well aware of the whiney noises that people made when Peter Jackson made The Lord of the Rings trilogy and in the case of the Harry Potter books, that fans of the book versions of a film want the whole of the book in the movie. I didn’t like either the books or the movies of Lord of the Rings and I haven’t read or seen any Harry Potter books or films, and so that bit isn’t important for me, but it is for some people and it would appear that Stanton has smushed some of the short stories together to make one film. He also seems to have left enough material behind to make sequels to John Carter, although the loss of money on this film may make that less likely to happen.

Stanton has claimed in interviews that he loved the short stories and had been waiting for many years for someone to make them into films and when various efforts failed to get the green light he put down his mouse mat and his e-pencil crayons and did it himself. He was on the Radio 5Live Mayo & Kermode film review show the week before it came out and if I’m honest he came over as a bit of jerk, he seemed narky and a bit full of himself and seemed to take very real exception, to the point of coming over very precious (and stroppy) about the thorny topic of his huge budget, when he was asked about the vast amount of Disney’s money that he was pissing up the wall.

But none of that especially matters as to how good a film should be, I’m sure it’s entirely possible to make a film that is set in space, using CGI and green-screens and even if you do hire a useless, but attractive, acting clot in the lead roll, you should still be able to make a half-decent film and hope that no one notices how shit it all is.

Yes, I know it's from Alien 3 but it proves a point.
The same John Carpenter that I spoke about at the top of the review used to make very good movies, in fact one of his very first movies was Dark Star and that looks and feels like he spent about $25 on it instead of $250,000,000 and yet it’s an eminently watchable and enjoyable movie. There are no CGI’d backgrounds drawn in a lab in California, there are no computer designed monsters and there is no massive budget to use on fireworks. It just has a witty, amusing script and naturally drawn out drama. James Cameron did the same thing with Aliens, he built the fucking things and because the Aliens were there dribbling slime and goo onto Sigourney Weaver she looked like she might poo a brick sized shit at any moment.

So, to wrap this all up, Ashley says it’s not a good film, most reviewers say it isn’t a good film, it’s set on Mars, it was written a hundred years ago and Dominic West from off of The Wire is in it, although he’s not John Carter, he plays someone else.

Anyway, that’s that all sorted and if you want to go and see it I’d check the local screening times and smuggle your own sweets and fizzy pop in because the prices they charge at cinemas these days are close to daylight robbery, George Osborne would be so proud.

Pierre Tones It Down a Bit

Pierre would like to say that he was as disturbed as everyone else at the awful scenes at Whitehart Lane last weekend and that he’s very pleased to see that Fabrice Muamba is making a recovery, and like everyone else who likes football wishes Fabrice all the best and hopes that those fledgling signs of recovery continue.

There are premier league fixtures a plenty this weekend, here’s what Pierre makes of them.

Barclay’s Premier League

Saturday 24th May

Chelsea Vs Tottenham Hotspur
Stamford Bridge

Kick Off: 12:45pm

Neither of these two sides could win in mid-week and so they sit only five points apart in 4th and 5th and so this would appear to be a straight battle for the last remaining champion’s league spot for next season. It would be the first time that Chelsea have failed to finish in the top four since 2001/02, in the same period Tottenham have finished in the top four in only one season so at least history is on Chelsea’s side in this little Lunchtime duel. You really would expect that they would win at home as well, although it has not been a good season for Chelsea, even 4th will seem like failure for them, and Tottenham only have one point from four games and an horrific record at Stamford Bridge and so I’m saying Chelsea will make this an interesting run in with a narrow win, probably by one goal.

Prediction: Chelsea 2 – Tottenham 1

Arsenal Vs Aston Villa
The Emirates Stadium
Kick Off: 3:00pm

Once upon a different season these two would have put on a bit of a show of decent football, and Aston Villa have a better record than most at Arsenal but I can’t really see them causing a Gunners team that have won six games on the trot and who have apparently put being knocked out of two cup competitions in a week back in February behind them and rallied behind their talismanic Dutch superstar. Home win, Arsenal’s good form continues.

Prediction: Arsenal 3 – Aston Villa 0

Bolton Wanderers Vs Blackburn Rovers
Reebok Stadium
Kick Off: 3:00pm

It seems strange reviewing a full-fat, Lancashire derby that has very crucial permutations for both clubs premier league survival, after last weekend’s awful events. Who knows how Bolton will react to the shocking scenes, will they be too devastated to perform or will they “do it for Fabrice”? I don’t know, I doubt the game will have the usually kicking, biting and scratching that you’d normally see, but in Junior Hoillett Blackburn have the one player on both sides who is on good form and for two teams so evenly matched, at least in normal circumstances, a player like that who’s scoring regularly could be the difference, a very difficult afternoon for everyone involved though.

Prediction: Bolton 0 – Blackburn 2

Liverpool Vs Wigan Athletic
Kick Off: 3:00pm
Is it just me or have Liverpool given up on the league this season? I can’t think of a time when a Liverpool team would have given up a two goal lead with 12 minutes to play and end up losing the game. I suppose when you've won one-cup competition and you’re still in with more than half a shout of completing a cup double, that may make the season a success but finishing 7th isn’t forward progress for Liverpool. It’s saying that not only were they the team who suffered from the Gulf money that Manchester City can spend but that Spurs and Newcastle have overtaken them too. Kenny Dalgleish was supposed to be sorting that out, and on their day they can give any team in the Premier League a decent game, probably even most sides in Europe, but they have too many off days against sides they should beat and not enough goals when their strikers don’t score, plus you know something’s intrinsically wrong when a club is linked to almost every player in Europe in the press. Now, I know that most press stories are horseshit and if the rumours were all true then Liverpool would be buying something like 50 players in the summer, but the rumours only exist because the papers know that Liverpool aren’t good enough. That being that they should still beat Wigan, who may play pretty football and they may get scant reward for that but when you have a striker as awful as Diame, who’s missed two utter sitters right in front of goal in two successive games, sitters that if he’d have converted them would have given Wigan 4 more points and put them 17th in the league rather than 19th you can see where their problems have been all season.

Prediction: Liverpool 3 – Wigan 0

Norwich City Vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Carrow Road
Kick Off: 3:00

Norwich seem to have run out of puff all of a sudden, in fact ever since they got a very creditable win at Swansea they seem to have lost all their early season promise and impetus, they are pretty much safe but you’d want to end the season with a few wins rather than on the back of a long losing streak and with the form Wolves are in, one win since mid-December and only five all season, you’d expect some sort of bounce back from the Canaries, although they couldn’t beat Wigan last week so it may not be as straightforward as all that. Home win, just.

Prediction: Norwich 2 – Wolves 0

Sunderland Vs Queens Park Rangers
Stadium of Light
Kick Off: 3:00pm

QPR showed an awful lot of bottle to win against Liverpool after going 2-0 down, but it could be just a freak sunny day in a month of storms because they have a hideous run in to the end of the season. They still have five of the top six to play and going to Sunderland isn’t exactly easy. But the Martin O’Neill train has slowed a little bit since the “messiah’s” appearance and so there is a slim chance if QPR can start this game like they finished up on Wednesday they could get some momentum going. I still can’t quite see how QPR get a win up North though, maybe a draw, but I’m favouring a home win.

Prediction: Sunderland 2 – QPR 1

Swansea City Vs Everton
Liberty Stadium
Kick Off: 3:00pm

And to South Wales on Sea to wrap up an unusually packed three o’clock fixture schedule and a game that probably has the least riding on it of any game being played this weekend. Neither side are likely to bother anyone higher in the league than their respective 8th and 10th places and neither are in any danger of getting sucked off by relegation fears, that being said, both are in good form, despite Everton’s narrow defeat against Arsenal, who must really like going to Merseyside. Both are on the right side of entertaining football because of that good form, Swansea’s battering of Fulham last weekend was particularly pleasing on the eye and I expect more of the same at home in Fortress Liberty Stadium, where better sides than Everton have gone home without a win and in some cases absolutely fuck all.

Prediction: Swansea 2 – Everton 1

Stoke City Vs Manchester City
Britannia Stadium
Kick Off: 5:30pm

Stoke weren’t far away from winning at Whitehart Lane and inflicting a 4th straight defeat on Spurs the other night and despite the fact that they would have took that at the start of the game it’s still very annoying to be leading late on and not win. Manchester City can’t do anything wrong at home and a win over a slightly rejuvenated Chelsea keeps them at a pace behind Manchester United but they seem to have lost half of their mojo away from the Etihad. Losses at Liverpool, Sunderland, Chelsea and Swansea have been costly, they aren’t easy places to go to but when they’re scratching their head and wondering why they didn’t win the league come the end of the season they could do worse than look at their red neighbour’s respective records at those grounds and that should tell them all they need to know. The Britannia is another one of “those grounds” where it’s difficult to win and the home fans hate you and they’d like nothing more than knocking the silly, expensive hat off the top of your silly head with your £1000 haircut and your tacky, diamond studded, blingtastic earrings.

Prediction: Stoke 2 – Manchester City 1

Sunday 25th March

West Bromwich Albion Vs Newcastle United
The Hawthorns
Kick Off: 4:00pm

It’s one of those weird weekends for West Brom, they have a home game and that’s always better than wandering around the premier league like a travelling circus trying to win games of football. The fixture list is a bit friendly, with several of the teams directly above them in a bunched up table either playing each other or facing tough games against title chasers or teams on decent runs of form and so that may spur them on to ghost up the league with a handy home victory. They have largely gone unnoticed by most people for the whole year, like a not particularly good or accurate stealth bomber and it might surprise some teams to find themselves finishing behind West Brom in the table come May, and wondering how it happened. Well, two words happened, Roy Hodgson. The man took some unfair stick for his brief spell at Anfield while he was trying to rebuild the awful mess that Rafa Benitez had left behind and that, combined with, his work in Europe at Fulham and now his performance at West Brom should solve those people’s puzzles for them. He’s a damn good coach with oodles of experience and a couple of strikers that at least half the teams in the premier league would happily take off his hands. I see this one being quite a fun, goal-packed fixture.

Prediction: West Brom 3 – Newcastle 2

Monday 26th March

Manchester United Vs Fulham
Old Trafford
Kick Off: 8:00pm

Last week I said that on current form and given the relative strength of quality in the two squads that Manchester United were seven goals better than Wolves, which technically means that if I was playing the game as a spread bet, like they do in American Football, so with handicaps, I would have lost because Wolves technically would have won 2-0. Of course they didn’t and if Man Utd had have pushed on in the second half like a proper Terminator should then they could easily have clobbered Wolves every which way they wanted, but this is this week, are Fulham the same as Wolves? No, they’re clearly better. Is it likely that they’ll give Man Utd anymore of a game than Wolves? No, they’ll clearly get as panned as Manchester United can be bothered to pan them. Of course the size of that panning may slightly depend on if and by how much Manchester City win their far harder fixture at Stoke on Saturday, and I’m not sure that they will anyway, but if I’m wrong and Manchester United need to win to go back to the top of the table and give their goal difference a bit of a healthy workout then the number of goals they score could be close to double figures. I expect at least five goals, if they give a shit and want to be mean boys then I expect seven and if they’re really on top form it could be anything so I’ll split the difference and say semi-massive home win.

Prediction: Manchester United 7 – Fulham 0 (they will score seven against some hapless goons one day this season, mark my words).

Right, that’s it, I’ve got cakes to make. Bye-bye till next week.