Monthly Archives: March 2012

The most overrated thing in Britain…

…is TEA!

That’s right. It’s not overly fake, pointless reality TV shows. It’s not the supremely talentless and obviously mental LadyGaga. It’s not fake tan that makes people look like they should be incorporated into a traffic light. It’s the thing that us Brits are most stereotyped for other than our supposedly ‘posh’ accents (come pay a visit to South Yorkshire); Tea.

Everyone bloody loves it. My mum, my dad, my sister, my girlfriend, my brother-in-law, my best friends. The list is bloody endless. They all have it a different ‘way’. Some like it with loads of milk, some don’t. Some like spoonfuls of sugar in their’s, others don’t. I like mine like this:

No sugar. No milk. No teabag. JUST WATER PLEASE!

Y’see, I really like water. In fact, sometimes, I’ve gone as far as saying that water is my favourite drink, so much more refreshing than a Dr. Pepper or Sprite, so much less symptomless than cider and Bailey’s (awful stuff). It’s just plain, boring, as-close-to-natural-as-you-can-get water. So why poison it with what is essentially leaves that keep you awake all night and can give you many unwelcome side-effects.

People look at me like I’m crazy when I say I don’t like tea or coffee. Being a Yorkshireman it seems it’s even more of a crime. I’ve tried all the different ‘ways’ you can have it, but I just end up squirming in disgust and wishing for a pint of water. Tea just ain’t my cup o’ tea… wait…

So, all you folk outside of Britain who think us British go around pronouncing our T’s and P’s as precisely as possible, sipping tea and singing God Save Our Gracious Queen, just remember there’s me saying this:

Tea’s blood’eh ‘orrible an’t Queen can begger off!

Ya get me?

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Black Swan [2010] – One of the great films of the last decade.

“The only person standing in your way is you.” – Thomas Leroy

While Black Swan revolves around the world of ballet it’s far from the thing that drives this marvellous piece of work forward. So, if ballet really isn’t for you, then you should still not overlook this film; there’s a great blend of tension, symbolism and genuine horror in Black Swan that makes it, for me, the best film of 2010.

Much praise goes out to Natalie Portman for playing Nina, a character whose personality develops so much over the 1 hour 40 minutes run-time that you need a great actress in order to pull it off. She starts as this driven and determined dancer and slowly becomes the rebellious girl that the role of the Black swan requires. Portman portrays this seamlessly. You really believe the character can change in the ways she does.

When the credits role it’s obvious that Black Swan is a tough film to figure out, but the theme of perfection being self-destruction is key. Nina has always strived to be perfect in her dancing, her technique flawless with an unmatched amount of control. Chosen as the Swan Queen in a new version of Swan Lake, Nina is ideal as the White swan, but becoming the Black swan escapes her. She struggles to break out of her skin, become the raw, imprecise dancer that the role demands.

Suddenly perfection isn’t enough. She becomes obsessed with it, ruled by it to the point of psychological destruction. Shown through some subtle but unnervingly tense scenes, the collapse of her mental state is disturbing but captivating to us. You’ll jump, you’ll shiver, you might even scream, but all the time you’ll be constantly gripped by Nina’s downfall. Aronofsy’s subtle but incredibly atmospheric sense of direction paints a picture of the dual personality that Nina is sinking in to.

There aren’t many films that have this amount of depth to them and this theme of seeking perfection leading you down a road to self-destruction really resonates with me. You could say Black Swan is about many things; sexuality, the fall of the talented and famous, a “coming of age story”. Ideas on what Black Swan is about can and will be constantly debated, making it a film that will be remembered, even if it’s only me that does! But I doubt that…

9/10

The Dark Knight [2008] – Gives comic book films a new standard.

“I believe whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you… stranger.” – Joker

A beautifully brooding action film that goes far beyond the standards of film to comic book transition. The special effects, action sequences, acting, music score and camera work melt together like ice in hot water, creating a dark film that’s jam-packed with memorable moments.

Ledger is sensational as the always-interesting Joker, pulling off the character’s grim sense of humour just as well as his love for mayhem. An incredibly simple music score proves brilliantly effective at heightening tension whenever Joker is on-screen. There aren’t many other characters in films that are as engaging and the whole 2 hour 30 minutes seemed to revolve around him.

Elsewhere the performances are solid; Bale (Batman) returning with his sore throat, Caine (Alfred) as the loyal servant, Eckhart (Dent) as the corrupted District Attorney, and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Rachel) as both Batman and Dent’s love interest.

Then there’s the action sequences, all hugely entertaining and well put together. At times it does feel like it’s straying along the Michael Bay path of explosions and gunfire, but Batman has much more depth. Scenes that thrive on dialogue are just as intense as those that thrive on special effects and it makes for a well-balanced film.

I’ve always preferred it when a comic book film tries to adapt on the concepts of the real world we all know and love (or hate as the case may be). The Dark Knight does this better than any before it. Yes, it suffers from the same corny one-liners and strangely impossible things that happen in comic book films, but it really does base itself in technology and realism, not extremely rare spiders and experiments gone wrong.

It was a shame that the ending didn’t feel as memorable to me as the rest of the film. I didn’t believe Harvey Dent would go to extreme measures as he did despite what had happened to him. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed The Dark Knight and I definitely state it as one of my favourites of 2008.

8/10

Losing the will to live with Facebook

I’ve endured five years of Facebook. A lot of those five years were made up of my pointless status updates and cringe-worthy tags in pictures, most of which I’d rather people wouldn’t put up anyway. I’d write things that I thought would be funny and get a small feeling of happiness whenever that rare moment came along when someone would ‘like’ it. I’d be able to brag at the good things in life, write what I had for dinner that day and make out that I’m incredibly ‘with it’ by saying “The devil is my bitch”. Yes, I know, I was a pathetic, sorry excuse for a human being.

So thank God things have changed! Facebook timeline has just reinforced my vague view that 3-5 years ago I was a complete moron with no sense of humour, very little personality and an obsession with how I’m perceived by the rest of the world. Now I’m one of those who couldn’t give a damn, partly thanks to Fight Club for opening my eyes to what is real and important in the world, and my girlfriend who loves who I am despite all my foibles. I’m no longer trying desperately to be the person that society wants me to be. But enough of this soppy shit. None of you want to hear all that!

Right now I’m thinking I’m going to deactivate my Facebook account and never use it again. But with this thought comes many others on what the consequences might be. I’ve held off from leaving in the past because I feel it’s an extra way of keeping in contact with friends and family who are too far away to see face-to-face. Another reason is that I feel people would forget about me, not invite me to get-togethers, and I’d eventually become lonely and depressed having no contact with those who I was once friends with. What has my life come to if I feel I need to rely on some crappy website to be remembered as a human being?

Weighing up these negatives with the smaller, but more numerous, positives is a tough thing to do, but I know that in the very near future I’ll leave Facebook for good. I’ve decided to be determined to not let my friends slip away from me, to keep in contact with them no matter how far away they are. Being shy and reclusive doesn’t help but after all the crap put up on Facebook by the makers and the folks that I follow, I really can’t be arsed with it all any more.

And please, don’t ‘like’ this post:

I’d prefer to hear your words than see your clicks.