Thursday 14 January 2016

Alan Rickman

This has been one hell of a week for bad news  -  first the shock announcement of David Bowie's death, and now the world has lost another talented and much-loved entertainer, the actor and director Alan Rickman. At the risk of turning this 'ere blog into Obituary Corner, I just wanted to say how saddened I am by this and how much I'll miss this highly talented man who could always lend some class to any project he was involved in. ( Sarah is a big fan of his too and was really upset. ) Whenever I think of Rickman, as I obviously have today, I always go back to his breakout performance as the silkily evil Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Rickman wrote the Hollywood rulebook here for "Brit actor plays European villain" and created a truly iconic role.
Of course, he went on to phenomenal success as antihero wizard Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films but he had a hell of an acting range and was fantastic in such diverse movies as A Little Chaos, Snowcake, Sense And Sensibility and the outrageous Dogma...
RIP Alan Rickman
21st February 1946 / 14th January 2016

Monday 11 January 2016

"His song went on forever..."

"News guy wept and told us..." I still can't get my head round the fact that Bowie is gone. And not just gone to another planet / dimension / Berlin... but really gone.
I bought ( what has turned out to be ) his last album on Saturday and haven't played it yet. It's still in its plastic wrapper, also now wrapped in more meaning than it would have had before today. It's going to be hard now to open it and play it. But I will.
But first... The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars... played fucking loud.

RIP Thin White Duke...

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

New Year, New Star Wars. Yep, being fashionably late as ever, I saw the rebooted Star Wars last weekend, about a week after the rest of the world. James and I visited the Imax cinema in Cheltenham for the first time because... well, it's Star Wars innit? JJ Abrams' invitation to return to that galaxy far, far away was too good to pass up and seemed the ideal film for the large format.
I'm guessing everyone who reads this blog ( all  3 1/2 of you ) has either already seen the film or absolutely will not see it ever, it's a betrayal of the original Star Wars etc. etc. so I don't need to go into proper review mode here. The net is overflowing with such reviews anyway and there's little I can add except to say...
I loved it! From the nostalgic sugar-rush of the opening crawl to the last, tantalising shot of that returning character I was absolutely hooked. Abrams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan have done a spot-on job of recreating the fun, adventure and tone of the Original Trilogy ( no trade disputes or Jar Jar bloody Binks here! ) while adding some suitably modern flavours. The special effects looked wonderful  -  many, many practical effects and sets added the verisimilitude that the CGI-heavy prequels lacked, while the none-more-Star Wars spaceship dogfights were present and correct and thrilling. I have to admit to going slightly watery around the eyes when the Millenium Falcon soared over the sands of Jakku and TIE fighters screamed their iconic scream.
And, while it was lovely to see the return of such beloved characters as that scruffy-looking Nerf-herder and his walking carpet co-pilot, the new characters were instantly engaging and promised much for the future. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley had a genuine chemistry and were totally convincing as ( respectively ) runaway Stormtrooper Finn and scavenger-turned-potential Jedi Rey; Adam Driver made his petulant, rage-driven Kylo Ren an interestingly emotional villain and Oscar Isaac was charismatic but underused as ace pilot Poe Dameron  -  let's hope we see more of the latter characters in episode VIII.
The main grumble many people have had over this movie is its reliance on familiar tropes from the Original Trilogy  -  desert planet, droid with a message, Death Star-like super weapon, shock death of father figure ( Spoilers! ) etc. etc. I can't say I'm too bothered about all that. JJ Abrams was obviously in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation here and his reworking of old themes ( with a new energy ) seems an appropriate way to tie this new series into the original stories. The fact that these characters are facing such familiar situations lends the new movie the kind of mythical, cyclical feel of The Lord Of The Rings. After re-establishing the Star Wars universe as it once was ( without ditching too much of what made it so special as George Lucas did with his misbegotten prequels ) future film-makers can now take it... anywhere...

( Oh yeah, the Imax experience was well worth it, too. It all looked gob-smacking on the huge screen and the 3D was wonderfully imersive. I'm not usually a fan of 3D and will tend to avoid it but this was the best use of the format I've seen since Life Of Pi  -  it was really that good. )

Soundtrack  -  The White Album by the Beatles

Friday 1 January 2016

Happy New Year, people of Spaceship Earth

Here's wishing peace, love and good times to all you wonderful people out there...


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