Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stormbreaker: both wet and dry at the same time.

The Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz go down a storm with its target audience, I'm told, and the idea of a teenage spy is just as much up my alley now as it would have been when I was a teenager, wish fulfillment and all that. The trouble is, Stormbreaker (based on the first novel in the series, unlike the James Bond films) comes off less like the terrific Spy Kids movies, Kim Possible or even Agent Cody Banks (the first one, not the sequel) and more like Joe 90. Except with an even duller hero. But with the same kind of acting. (Of course, opening it in the wake (rimshot!) of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and with Cars coming out the week after might not have been the wisest move either.)
Hard to pinpoint exactly where this movie falls down, since there are so many potential choices. For a start, it wants to be gritty but it doesn't want to alienate family audiences - so on the one hand you get an opening with Alex's uncle (Ewan McGregor) getting offed by an evil spy in a black helicopter and a later moment where the spy who killed him shows how Bad he is by offing a forklift driver for dropping a box; but on the other hand neither is actually shown onscreen, and you also have a spy boss played as a comic character by Bill Nighy, and a villain's right hand woman (Missi Pyle) who comes off like Herr Flick from 'Allo 'Allo in drag. Make your minds up, people. (And as for the fight between the latter and our hero's housekeeper (Alicia Silverstone!)... let's just say anything that reminds me of the liveaction Thunderbirds is not good.)
Then we've got the action. Although Donnie Yen's listed in the opening titles, there ain't that much martial arts on view and the biggest such fight comes early on; plus for all the thrills the movie engenders we might as well be watching QVC. It says a lot for the movie that it failed to have me enthralled with its climax on a high place, because I haaaate heights (compare it to the climax of King Kong with Naomi Watts dangling from the Empire State). I blame director Geoffrey Sax for this and quite a lot of the movie's other faults - after this and White Noise, I now know what to do the next time I see his name on a movie. But Horowitz's scripting has to take some of the blame; it could well be a better book than a movie, but we don't really get to know Alex or feel any kind of empathy or him, and the story's just not that interesting (even the kids sitting behind me wondered about a few of the plotholes).
And really, Alex Pettyfer is a black hole in the screen as Alex Rider; some of the cast are wasted (like Robbie Coltrane as the Prime Minister - cheekily, more reminiscent of Gordon Brown than Tony Blair!), others are bad. He's bad. If you could work up any emotions, it would be for villain Mickey Rourke (looking less natural here than in Sin City) to win through; instead the movie just lies there like something that got lost on its way to Children's BBC, wasting opportunities left and right, and chucking in endless ill-advised songs to boot. (Alan Parker's score is also not exactly up there with Michael Giacchino's work on Alias either, although his theme for Alex in action is okay... a bit close to True Lies though.)
There's no way this is going to be a smash when the Weinstein Company unleashes this Stateside; in fact, if this does become the first in a series of movies I'll be very surprised. Funded through the National Lottery-supporting UK Film Council, and another reason for me not to like them; but not un-cute Sarah Bolger may be worth keeping an eye on. If not in this movie.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

While Butch is over at the Convention...

Cindy: Cindy. For once my timing's good; pictures of her out shopping in attire that some have complained about but which I don't mind, and the very next day in the post below making Eva Mendes look unattractive in comparison. Not easy.

Vanessa: July 21. Two years to the day since the great Jerry Goldsmith passed away. (That summer was not a good season for fans, since David Raksin and Elmer Bernstein also left.) We'll always have the music, though.

Cindy: Not the slightest urge to call work all week. Completely relaxed. And my next holiday is a lot sooner to wait for than this one was.

Vanessa: The Comic-Con. Why didn't Butch tell me that composers from the fabulous Justice League Unlimited (and Teen Titans) were there as well? Not that I'd have come, but at least I could have posted in advance.

Cindy: Superman Returns. Okay, a climactic face-off between Superman and Lex Luthor would have been nice, and Kate Bosworth is no Margot Kidder (or an Erica Durance, come to that), but when you have a movie that lasts two and a half hours and feels shorter you've done something right. And no tie-in songs (Fantastic Four, Daredevil and all three Blade movies please note).

Vanessa: The War At Home. Not even the daughter makes it bearable.

Cindy: The weather. If I liked picnics, I'd be in heaven. Do you like picnics?

Vanessa: Varese Sarabande. Not for uncharacteristic delays with Stargate: The Deluxe Edition (unless it's a double-disc edition, I'm not interested), but for taking forever with my CD Club order... sent through at the end of June and still not done yet. Must be a long, long queue.

Cindy: We have established that the going rate for a date with Jessica Biel is $30 000.

Vanessa: The exchange rate between the dollar and the pound isn't that good.


Cindy: My Prozac arrived! And I can finally get the Metformin to go with the Lipitor, since I've almost reached the end of my excess of the latter. Hopefully they won't send me too much of the latter this time.

Vanessa: Lily Allen. While you can't judge feature scores from 30-second soundclips, it only takes snatches of this bint's summer chart-topper for me to decide that even linking to her MySpace, as I was going to do, is giving her extra promotion. Sound of the summer? Not MY summer.

Cindy: Sharon got the files from her old PC off intact, from someone who unlike the last person she saw at PC World knew what the hell he was doing.

Vanessa: Back to work on Monday, where one of the prettier people is off on holiday herself...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

And now, just for Jen, Carmen Electra.

In case there's an empty square with a red X somewhere in it up there, go here and you'll see it and all the rest. :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oh yeah, the Saturday thing.

Not a roaring success... my knee was hurting all night, the service wasn't that great, not everyone was friendly with each other, and yours truly and my aunt Joy weren't eager to be there in the first place - bed was much more like it. And while I don't want to side with the columnist who said West Indian music was the worst in the world, it doesn't make me want to dance much. (Oh, AND the portions could have been better.) So happy to be out of there after 1 am...

Wednesday...

I love vacations. I love summer vacations. What I don't love is endless headlines about how hot it is, how it's hotter than South America, how we might be getting power cuts... you would think, given how old this country is, that people would expect it to possibly get, you know, HOT in the summer? Just because it can and does rain a lot in the summer months doesn't mean it always does. Gah.
Anyway, on the upside I
a) managed to get my latest eBay goodies paid for without the risk of sending my account into minus figures,
b) didn't get into any arguments with Zeta while she was over here,
c) caught up with Lost and Ghost Whisperer (shameless sentimentality, an unequivocal belief in the supernatural, Aisha Tyler, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Needless to say I shall not miss any episodes - better JLH than Derek Acorah) and bade farewell to Alias, and
d) sweltered at home and outside. So much water, so much sweating, so little desire to move.

The downside? Let's just say you should never eat four diabetic chocolate bars in one sitting. No headaches, but... they maintain your insides, let's leave it at that.

And they're still doing it now. Gotta dash...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yes, but where the hell is "Heroes"?

It's time for another update on the US shows coming over here as more and more buys are announced to add to Hidden Palms, Lovespring International (both Sky One), 3 LBS, Falcon Beach (both BBC), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Class, Betty the Ugly, Brothers & Sisters, Kidnapped (all Channel 4) and Shark (Five).

New additions:
The Black Donnellys: I figured Five. This is going to ITV2. (Like all their buys for the digital channels, this is likely to show up on ITV1 as well in their usual 11pm slot.)

Raines: ITV3. (I'm surprised the BBC didn't get this, what with Monk - which explains, perhaps, their sharing Psych with Hallmark. Then again, since Jeff Goldblum apparently had some problems with one of the BBC reps at the upfronts...)
Runaway: As predicted, coming to 4. Please don't suck.
Men in Trees: I said it would be Hallmark or Living. It's Living.
Six Degrees: Surprisingly, ITV bought this and aims to have it on the flagship channel in primetime (ITV almost never gives imports a fair crack of the whip before 11pm).
Justice: LivingTV, adding to their long list of Bruckheimer shows (Living also shows CSI, CSI: Miami, The Amazing Race and Close To Home).
Jericho: Shared by ITV and Hallmark.
Vanished: Five. Like I said, more of that Prison Break action, and it'll also help with Five US (their digital station with loads of US content).
Smith: ITV4.
Happy Hour: LivingTV. They'd better hope it doesn't get chopped early like Out Of Practice.
Standoff: Sky One.

Of course, if any of these get axed early enough they might not be shown (Five bought Costello years ago - it was the first show of its season to be cancelled, and they never showed it, not even at 4:35 am; this fate hasn't greeted Sex, Love and Secrets but it may yet happen to South Beach). And dammit, where's Heroes? I refuse to believe UK buyers have taken shows with Anne Heche and Ashley bloody Scott but not Hayden Panettiere.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Two minutes.

Today marks a year since the London bombings (and bless those of you who emailed me wondering if I was okay). Since I had no family or friends involved with the attacks and wasn't directly affected myself, it's impossible for me to know how it truly feels, so I won't even try.
But I will say that people who announce that they don't intend to take part in the two minutes' silence scheduled for today really, really need to work on their sensitivity. If they don't want to, fine - just don't advertise it. It doesn't make anyone feel any better, and just makes them in particular look worse.

And please, stop calling it by that date abbreviation. Playing me too with the terminology of other terrorist attacks is sick.

I worry too damn much.

Whenever I find myself waking up way too early, say around midnight, it's usually because someone's made a debit from my account. Tuesday night, I did that and Sharon wasn't back from wherever she was.
Result: Worry. She's not my daughter, she's not my wife, she's my big sister, she's old enough to be out well past midnight.... but I worry. I worry because she's the only relative I have close enough to me. I worry because I don't want anything to happen to her. Or me. Or us.
I should know deep down that if anything was to truly happen I'd hear about it almost at once, but still. So at 11:50 or whatever, when I should be sleeping and getting ready to be up at around 2 am or so, I give in to my anxiety and phone Shaz.
She's fine; she's coming home. I can relax. Settled inside, I go back to sleep and wake up at 3:45. Not much time to do much of anything online or on TV, but I'm okay.
She was on a date; the next time, the following night, she told me she'd be out. I got enough sleep. And left the worry for another time.

Maria Sharapova and Jessica Biel > Natalie Portman, and other thoughts for the weekend.

Cindy: The year's half over and my holiday's coming up.

Vanessa: I wanted to go to Ubeda for the International Film Music Festival but guess who couldn't make it. Will it inspire me to save up so, among other things, I can go to the third one? To be continued.

Cindy: Jessica Biel not quite making up for having a screwed-up name, for her dodgy script choices, for being a jockette and for that Esquire thing, but getting there...

Vanessa: Damn you, Amelie Mauresmo! DAMN YOU! Damn you to Hell FOREVER!

Cindy: Perhaps I should explain the name thing above there. One key ingredient of a famous person is, or should be, a name that has some kind of flow to it; Cindy Crawford has that kind of rhythm. So does Britney Spears. Ditto Jessica Alba. Even Christina Aguileraisacunt. But Jessica Biel... it's like riding a hoverboard smack into an invisible wall. Fortunately Miss Biel's husky voice and comfy curves take up some of the slack. If not her complexion.

Vanessa: Christina Aguileraisacunt. Imagine the scene in the studio as everyone arrives for the "Ain't No Other Man" session...

Producer: "Okay guys, let's do this thing... Christina?"
Insufferable Screeching Ho: "Check."
Producer: "Brasses?"
Lead Horn Player: "Check."
Producer: "Rhythm section?"
Bass Player: "Check."
Producer: "Backing vocals?"
Stereotyped Large Black Female: "Check."
Producer: "Tune?"
Christina: "Oh shit..."

Cindy: This weekend. Sports events are almost over, and maybe, just maybe, I can do a bit of penning.


Vanessa: The failure to spontaneously combust on the part of a) everyone in the press who takes the piss out of Maria Sharapova's loud noise-making and b) George W. Bush, after using the phrase "Stay the course" for the ten zillionth time to describe his pet war.

Cindy: Monica Bellucci, for no real reason.

Vanessa: The Emmy nominations. Aw, please...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Cindy Spot presents a Fourth of July tie in.


As far as stunning French creations go, she has the edge over the Statue of Liberty in being flesh. And not green.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Quiet desperation.

Sunday afternoon; sunny, warm Sunday afternoon. The winding down of a pretty good weekend. True, I didn't get to Aquamarine or anything else I wanted to see, but that's all for next weekend. And on the upside, I finally managed to do the laundry that's been piling up for weeks. And to start listening to my new buys (James Bond 10th Anniversary - 50p cassette from the nearest charity shop, so it only goes up to Diamonds Are Forever and there's no Paul McCartney of "Will she still need me when I'm 64? Er, no" fame - The Misfits from Alex North, The Big Bounce by George S. Clinton [white, the Austin Powers movies, not to be confused with Mr. Funkadelic] and Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs Soundtrack 2 which some idiot at Virgin Piccadilly Circus put in among the sale items by mistake, so I had to pay a lot more than £1.99 for it. Luckily I like it... "Can you hear the thunder inside/Saberrrr Riderrrr....").
And to watch The MTV Movie Awards at long last (note to Oscar-winning star of stage and screen Nicole Kidman; Alba can do comedy. You cannot. Please stop). And to please Sharon by actually cooking food before its use-by date. And to get psyched over Sharon's birthday - she's going to a club that does R&B, and I said I'd go with her. Oh well, at least I've got a week off soon.
Only one thing could make it better; that washing machine stopping... oh, it's stopped. Only one thing could make it better - the Pussycat Dolls getting a third No. 1 (especially since it would replace Nelly Furtado)... so it probably won't. Only one thing could make it better; a new episode of The Simpsons today. And hey, there is one. Bless.
UPDATE: Nicole and company didn't get their third UK chart-topper - but Shakira got her first one. Congratulations, Miss Ripoll. (It should, of course, have been her second what with being robbed for one for "Whenever Wherever," but never mind.)