Friday, November 23, 2012

Comic Book Villain of the Week

Mr Banjo

A dangerous spy agent for the axis powers during World War 2, Mr Banjo would transmit massages coded into the tunes he played on his Banjo while pretending to be a busker.

He was described as a "...a master criminal, an ingenious plotter of crimes — a fiend who would snuff out life as easily as he would blow out a candle." After his first scheme was foiled by Captain Marvel, Mr Banjo returned to kidnap President Roosevelt and replaced him with an imposter.

His scheme was foiled again, and after being tried for war crimes, he later joined the Monster Society of Evil, despite not being a monster and being armed only with a banjo. His time with the society was short lived, after one skirmish he was not seen again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

October Film Highlights

The blog's still there if you want to visit it.

Skyfall(2012) Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear. Dir: Sam Mendes.

Skyfall 50 Word Film Review
Bond must save M and MI6 when they’re targeted by a cyber terrorist. Less glamorous, more serious spy return-to-form, with well-timed humour, but lots of angst in-between actioneering, and only a couple of silly moments. Craig, Bardem and Dench are a wonderfully dysfunctional family and Mendes adds tremendous visual flair.


A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) Norah Baring, Uno Henning, Hans Adalbert Schlettow. Dir: Anthony Asquith.

A Cottage on Dartmoor 50 Word Film Review
A barber’s driven wild with jealousy when the girls he loves gets engaged, leading to a tragic accident. The story’s scant, but this is about the visual expression of emotion – jealousy, anger, desire, despair – and it’s electrifying. There aren’t many films that express the visual language of cinema so powerfully.


Sinister (2012) Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransome, Vincent D'Onofrio. Dir: Scott Derrickson.

Sinister 50 Word Film Review

A writer moves his family into a former crime scene and discovers a box of disturbing films. Concept's strong and takes time developing atmosphere instead of predictable shocks moments, paying attention to character development and disintegration. But doesn't fulfil its potential; script's so-so and slips into clichés. Soundtrack used well.


A Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Macdonald Carey, Patricia Collinge, Henry Travers, Hume Cronyn. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock.

Shadow of a Doubt 50 Word Film Review
Charlie wants her Uncle to shake up her family’s dull life, but he has a dark secret. Arguably Hitch’s darkest, where a girl desires escape from small-town madness, but is faced with a horrifying perspective of what exists beyond. Cotten's a revelation as a uniquely disarming psychopath. My favourite Hitchcock.


Lawless (2012) Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman. Dir: John Hillcoat.

Lawless 50 Word Film Review
Three brothers in the bootlegging business are targeted by a ruthless, corrupt deputy. A high-quality production, but unfocused - dedicating time to unimportant sub-plots rather than developing more important characters and an arc. There’s also hints of cliché; Pearce’s character in particular being a familiar psycho archetype. Hardy superb again.


The Orphanage (2007) Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Geraldine Chaplin, Mabel Rivera. Dir: J.A. Bayona.

The Orphange 50 Word Film Review
An orphan tries to re-open her old orphanage, but a dark secret threatens her new family. A traditional ghost story with an emphasis on developing atmosphere and character; holding back scares, but making them worth the wait. Elegantly shot, what could’ve been a creaky melodramatic ending is rendered absolutely heart-wrenching.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

David Goes to Barcelona: Day Two

The second day, me and Chris hoped to visit the Montserrat Hill Monastery. An ancient high monastery commanding beautiful views of the city and reachable via a quaint old hillside train. After much uphill walking, we found we couldn’t take the train because the queue was massive.

Instead, we decided to go to the nearby Science Museum. This turned out to be the best decision of the weekend. For some reason they have a submarine in the middle of the road on the way there.

The science museum, the CosmoCaixa, boasts stunning modernist design, both outside and in.

When you begin, you descend via a spiral walkway, journeying deep into the earth to explore where life first began.


While all the evolutionary exhibitions were interesting, the big attraction was the indoor rainforest. It was almost 30 degrees outisde, so naturally we wanted to go somewhere hotter.
There was a variety of tropical fish, of all shapes and sizes.


… A small number of tropical birds and animals…

And a number of creepy crawlies.

Then, to really enliven the holiday, we went to see an exhibit about infectious diseases. Apparently this is a glass representation of SARS.

After another fine meal, it was time to go on a tour of old Barcelona, or Catalonia as the locals like to call it.

They like cathedrals in Barcelona; you can’t go through more than a few streets without coming across another one.

Still, they do know how to give them a bit of variety. This one, Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia, had a rather nice grove inside it.


But in another recurring motif, this Cathedral took over a hundred years to complete, because the money ran out. And like the Segrada, it ended up with several different styles. In this case some of the features had been taken from another nearby building when that had been refurbished, rather than let its features be wasted.

We were taken to what was once the Catalan palace. The yard here is where executions would take place. They were quite rigorous executions – one chap, an assassin no less, had his skin boiled loose, and was then skinned, dragged around town by horses and then disemboweled.

We then finished the tour with another Cathedral. Then we were shown the memorial for those who died defending the city in the years it was under seige and then conquered by the Spanish. It was a good tour, lots of history; I even remember some of it.

It was a very busy, extremely educational, cultural day. There was almost no time for silliness.


And sadly no time for shopping either.

After one more nice meal of tapas, the short break was over. I flew back the next day, with almost no mishaps. My ticket didn’t say which terminal I was going from; fortunately I guessed right. Then I couldn’t find my way to security, but I followed some disabled people and found my way and it was all ok from there.
And when I got back to Croydon it was a temperate 9 degrees – good old Britain.