Monday, September 20, 2010

The Special Relationship (2010)

On a trilogy of Tony Blair films starring Michael Sheen, Peter Morgan has once again written a masterpiece in "The Special Relationship." It's a film based around the relationship the British Prime Minister traditionally has with his/her US counterpart (The President). In this case, the story focuses around Blair and Bill Clinton.

However, I think I must be getting old, and a lot quicker than I am expecting. Some time ago, I decided to drag out a dusted DVD of "Thirteen Days," a docudrama about the events leading up to and including the Cuban Missile Crisis during the 60s when J.F.K. was in charge. If I remember correctly, and I may not be since I think I am getting old, I watched this movie in a History class back in the early 2000s - and I didn't really think much of it.

Watching it again now made so much more sense. I have had to deal with a crisis situation in my own profession earlier this year. It was suddenly easy to draw similarities and feel part of the story. A second watching turned out to be a fantastic blueprint of how to write a manual on "crisis management" and what a crisis this was - nuclear!

I've been a massive fan of the mainstream second installment of Peter Morgan's trilogy, "The Queen." The movie was gritty, it had emotion, as it simply portrayed a frail family on the verge of destruction battling the onset of new media. Along comes a "knight in shining armor" to bring a traditional and very old fashioned family into this brave new world with the help of not just Blair, but also Alastair Campbell who has shaped much of what PR is in politics in the UK for a good while now.

In any case, I've never seen the first film of the trilogy, "The Deal," which apparently involved a deal struck between Blair and Gordon Brown on who is to become Prime Minister. This is definitely something I will try to do now: find it and watch it. It was a great, joyful occasion when I discovered there was a new movie coming out this year with much of the same casts for characters appearing in "The Queen."

Having just watched the final of the trilogy I must say I am really getting ancient. I sat through one hour and thirty minutes of political grappling and public relations spin and do you know what my reaction was? I honestly think this is the single best film I have seen all year. The worst part of all this though, is that I stick "Invictus," which is also somewhat of a political drama, together on top of my 2010 rankings.

I was captivated throughout the film and kept hoping that it would not end. It was truly a joy to watch and it was a truly wonderful experience to have learnt something while watching an enjoyable movie. Fantastic!

Now I am looking forward to my second watching sometime soon!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Knight and Day (2010)

During lunch time yesterday, I decided it was high time to watch the action comedy, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day. When the trailers were first released, I wasn't too bothered with the movie to be honest. I'm not the world's biggest Tom Cruise fan (missed all his early stuff during my childhood, you know Top Gun and Vanilla Sky) and I really don't care much for Cameron Diaz.

I can't figure out why people say she is the most beautiful person on the silver screen. There are actresses who are much better looking and with significantly smaller oral cavity than her. Just off-hand, I can say Liv Tyler, Rachel McAdams and Amy Adams. Anyways, I just don't like her looks nor do I like her acting a great deal.

What sparked my interest, however, was when the two appeared on Top Gear in the last series to promote the movie. That episode of Top Gear (which I've already reviewed here) was easily on my Top 3 list and definitely the best content they've presented in the past 2 or 3 years (or 4 or 5 series). The chemistry of the two, and their really funny dispositions really caught my attention.

So, the film then...

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would have been. I've heard some rather bad stories about the movie, which also explains why it took me so long to finally go see it. Although... It definitely was not as good as I hoped it would have been.

I see the point during the movie to show from either actor's perspective when they were drugged in a black-out scene. However, they overly used this technique and you actually miss out on a lot of action and storyline. At the end of that sequence of events, you would ask yourself: "what happened and how did they get from there to there?"

Unfortunately, the trailer also turned out to be funnier than the movie actually is. And some of the other actors and actresses were so poor in their on-screen oratory presentation that I missed half of what they were going on about.

I think I'll stop here to be quite honest. The movie was OK to be as kind as I can. But I probably would watch something like The Expendables again over this movie.

What this exercise shows though, is that if you place the product cleverly and promote it in the right way, you can definitely gain more viewership and, in this case, box office production. Even for someone who has no interest in either of the leading actors/actresses, I was drawn to see it. Of course, they were lucky. The BBC no longer has a talk show to host promotion activities since Jonathan Ross left (or was he asked to go?), and they chose Top Gear as a replacement.

Image source: Regency Enterprises

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

US Church Qur'an Burning

I just read that a small church in Florida, US will go ahead with their plan to burn Qur'ans on the anniversary of 9/11. Short of staying as far as possible from trying to involve myself in this "religious conflict," I simply have to talk about this because it is so preposterous.

Jesus Christ is known as Nabi Isa in the Islamic faith. He was known as a prophet or messenger of God (of course in Islam God is Allah) instead of God's son or an incarnation of God. Nabi Isa is mentioned no less than twenty-five times in the Qur'an which also mentions that he was born to Mary in a virginal conception, that he was to lead the ministry of Jews and that he was allowed to perform miracles by the act of God.

Everyone is going on about how many troops will be killed in Afghanistan if this burning plan goes ahead. People like Hillary Clinton, the commanders in Afghanistan, NATO, etc have all jumped in with their voice of concern over the retaliation to be. But the really amazing thing about it all is that this small church is burning a sacred text which supports the existence and, in some ways, the authority of their own Messiah - Jesus Christ.

Might as well go burn Bibles right? It amounts to exactly the same thing then... I think people of the Islamic faith will actually find this irony so funny that they would just pass it for a bunch of uneducated idiots being as stupid as humanly possible. They won't even dignify this action with a response to sink that low in IQ levels.

Did you know?

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all originated from about the same kind of time and same kind of place in what is now the Middle East? They were the three main monotheistic religions to come out and to survive until this day. All of this stems from the religious beliefs of Zoroastrianism in the region of current day Iran. the correlations of stories between the three religions is absolutely fascinating. Yet, some idiot would always start a war based on their own faith, which in turn is based on their sacred text, which in turn actually somewhat reflect what the enemy's sacred text says. Why do we allow these ignorant and foolish people to take charge in the first place?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The A-Team (2010)

Doo-doo-doo-doo doo-doo-dooooo... ("The A-Team" Theme)

I finally caught The A-Team remake today. It's been out for some time but I never had a chance or really bothered to go watch it. I think the reason for that is because of the varying degrees of reviews I've heard since the movie was released. On one side, people say it's really bad and is full of pointless action. On the other, people say it's great and definitely worth a watch.

Trying to be as neutral as possible, I watched the new movie. The A-Team really wasn't something I followed as a kid. Primarily because it was not in my "era." I must say, my impression of the movie is that it is slightly better than what I expected - taking the good and bad comments from either side of the coin.

Some of the action sequences were quite far fetched, basically absolutely impossible and improbable stuff even with the latest CG technology. Bradley Cooper (Face), whom I have enjoyed watching since catching him on a cancelled TV series "Kitchen Confidential," simply played himself throughout. The opening sequence with him wedged in tyres and about to be burnt alive brought back images of "The Hangover." What a pity...

I still struggle to free myself of the image in my head I have amalgamated for Liam Neeson (Hannibal). He vividly stands out in movies like "Dark Knight" and "Love Actually." It becomes slightly difficult to picture him in other roles from that and really does take some getting used to.

All in all, I don't think this is a bad movie. Nevertheless it wasn't brilliant and I don't really have a desire to see it again and again like some of the great movies in the past two or three years. There will doubtlessly be some sequels to come after this since they've already raked in $167 million.

Image source: 20th Centruy Fox Entertainment

Saturday, September 4, 2010

FIA Triumphs Again

At the start of the 2010 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix last weekend in the legendary rolling Ardennes hills, the BBC's race commentator noticed that Felipe Massa's Ferrari was about 2-metres in-front of his pit box while he was sitting on the race grid. Following the hugely eventful race, nothing further was thought of or talked about regarding this incident.

However, some amateur footage has been seen on YouTube by fans sitting in the grandstand by the pit straight. Massa was indeed very far out of his box and no action was taken against him. He ended the race in fourth place.

Now the FIA has come out to condemn this and claim their shock that the race directors did not take appropriate action. They now also claim that this is a technical problem with the in-car transponders. A spokeswoman from the FIA told the press today that no action can be taken as the results of the race were already finalised and published. All they will do now is to see how they can prevent it from happening again.

What on earth is the role of the FIA? They are the governing body of all things motor racing. It is their job to: 1) make everyone's lives a bit worse, and crucially, 2) to set up and maintain every single guideline or "sporting code" with consistency and purpose.

I bring your attention to my race report of Spa where I mentioned that Vettel, who crashed into someone - who also happens to be a championship contender, who ended up retiring from the race while the young Vettel simply changed his nose and went back out - was only punished with a drive-through penalty. Michael Schumacher, the most experienced and the world's most successful driver, got a 10-place grid drop for the Belgian Grand Prix following his on-track battle with Barrichello which resulted in no accidents nor did it put anyone in any danger whatsoever.

Only problem I saw was now Rubens was scared out of his pants and spent the rest of the race weekend and the shutdown period whining about it. "A general nice guy" is what people say of him, whatever man. He is bitter as hell for being Ferrari's Number 2 driver. Why didn't he quit if he didn't like it? Anyways, just a brown moment for a whiner. No big deal.

Anyways, the FIA has once again shown how they are not doing their job properly. Especially after the BBC broadcast this to millions and millions of people. F1 footage from the UK is not only used for broadcast inside the UK but BBC is broadcast throughout Europe, and a lot of English speaking countries buy the rights to broadcast the BBC footage which is cheaper than hiring two commentators at each race.

We all saw it... And we all recognise the FIA is not consistent at all. We still enjoy the sport, but we do always keep the hope you will improve on this at some point.

Image source: YouTube

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some say...

I'm sure car fans - and if you are a car fan, you are most likely a Top Gear fan too - have been following this furore surrounding the up and coming HarperCollins publication which is said to reveal the identity of the anonymous racing driver on that legendary TV series.

There is no denying, and there is nothing to be sad about, but I am a huge Top Gear fan. I've been an avid watcher since 2004 when a friend introduced it to me. This led to my catching up of every single episode since 2002. There is also a rather large forum dedicated to motoring shows in the UK of which I am a member and actively contribute.

But for me, a lot of the intrigue of The Stig went away shortly after the show's producers killed off the Black Stig and brought in the White Stig. I was no longer actively reading the theories online of who he actually is.

What matters, my dear fellow fans, are those absolutely phenomenal laps that he (or indeed, they) does (or do). That lap in the Renault F1 car, the lap in the Aston Martin DBR9 racer... Jaw-droppingly fantastic.

I don't give a flying **** who The Stig is. He is a fictional character on a TV series watched by millions. His only, and most important contribution is that he drives some of the world's most amazing cars, and blasts them around a tiny "race track" built on some airfield in Southern England. And he does it with style!

Look at The Stig as who you want to be. We all have a 5 year old boy inside of us when we see the Ferrari Enzo, the Bugatti Veyron or the Carrera GT. The Stig is full filling that dream of ours to take those beasts and wrangle it around a circuit allowing it to give all it can give. And what a dream that is!

British tabloids should really find something else to report on. Not only are you trying to ruin a show watched by millions of people around the globe, but you are actively trying to destroy dreams and hopes of the younger generations.

Do you not feel any kind of shame? Destroying children to sell tabloids (who's reporting credibility is supremely low, by the way).

Take your trashy reporting and shove it!

Some say he is Ben Collins, and others claim that James May has said The Stig is actually Captain Slow. But all we know is, he is a mirror of all of our automotive ambitions!

Image source: The Telegraph