Friday, 29 February 2008

T'intercast!

Well, to round off February, wrap your lug'oles around a load of random chat clustered with a variety of swearing...yes the c-bomb was dropped, but in relation to Gordon Clown, so it's all good, ha!

Annoyingly however, for some reason it cut off the last 40 minutes - damn technology - it was 2 hours, so I guess it's something around 80 or 90 minutes now.

Anyway, Danny - aka The Underground Slacker - does these blogcasts from time-to-time, and so we decided to do one between ourselves - hence the Peter Kay referencing "T'intercast".

Get your horny selves over here to peep it:

http://www.mediafire.com/?2ugogo9cuwj

Enjoy.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Xbox360: The Wait Commences...

Well, yesterday morning my Xbox360 arrived at the repair centre ... I would track the progress of the repair, but every time I try to use the MS site it just sits there like a lemon and doesn't do anything.

Also, as I registered my console by post - would registering it 9 months later online cock something up with my warranty or whatever?

Hmmm...

Monday, 25 February 2008

Xbox360: The Empire Strikes Back...

Well, the 'dead box walking' has just been picked up much to my surprise. Here I am, sat in front of the Oscars (which I taped, so I can fast forward through Sky's incessant, no doubt smugly anti-American chat moments during the American advert breaks) and boom - a call from the courier saying he's five minutes away.

"I don't even have the sticker yet" I say - ah but he has the sticker.

So it seems that the folks on the phone over at Xbox360 MS central or whatever it's actually called, don't really know what they're on about from one person to another. One person says include the power brick, another says not to, one says include your reference number on paper inside the (annoyingly) plain brown box (who has a plain brown box the size of an Xbox360 hanging around?), the other says nothing about that at all.

They say the stickers will come by post in 3 to 5 days (saying this on Saturday afternoon), and boom - Monday afternoon and the sticker comes with the courier and whi-pow, my box is winging it's way towards being (hopefully!) fixed.

Let's hope the entire process is as swift and efficient as today, eh.

Now to twiddle my thumbs ... or play SWAT4 (excellent game) on the PC (go back to the old school, so-to-speak) or head over my mate's house where a brand new 360 has just landed...

Oh - and Rambo was fucking awesome, more on that to come later.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Xbox360: The Saga Continues...

Well, tried the Xbox360 help line again, and this time got the repair request through. Their computers are back in action after their fit of irony...now to wait for the stickers...then the courier to take my box...then wait for it to come back.

*touches a bunch of wood all over the place*

And hopefully shit will be sorted, I'll even get a little fan to sit behind it blowing cool air about.

However, looks as if that should I get a hankering for some 360 action, I can just nip over to my mate's gaff (where I went last night to check his brother's cable with my console to rule out a faulty AV lead) as he went out and dropped a sweet £300 on a full set-up...I think I smell a Gears of War co-op session coming on...

Ah well...these things happen I guess, I've gotten most of the theatrics and 'Elias' doing out of my system, acceptance has washed over me like a boost of heroin ... wait a minute, who put this creepy-ass needle in my arm?! Danny?!

But still...goddamnit Microsoft, build a console that fucking works properly and can handle gentle (and occasionally infrequent), no-more-than-27-celcius use! Geez! Luck of the draw I guess...but 33% failure rate? Daaaaaamn...methinks the next Xbox will be the very definition of technical stability.

Still though, I'm sticking with the 'SexBox369' as me and my fellow box followers like to call it...because when it's good, it's fookin' sweet.

Friday, 22 February 2008

No videogames for you!!!

Well, you treat it like a king, panic at every noise, creak or whatever, and then it still fucks you up the wrong'un.

Two days ago I was merrily playing COD4, then the colours went all weird. Black & White with green and fuzzy patches of blue wobbling around. Then it fixed itself. The following day (yesterday) I go back and within 2 minutes it's up to that B&W&G&B rubbish again, I get pissed off and switch it off.

I go back a few hours later - nuh-uh - nothing now. No picture and no sound, but oddly no error colour coding around the power button...hmmm. Is it a defunct AV cable? Unlikely, it hasn't moved more than a few inches in 6 months. Is it the console? Worryingly it most likely is (same issue on three different TV's), but my console never gets hotter than 27 celcius after (for me) a long session, which is well within it's operating limits.

And might I add I got it in May 2007 ... it's now February 2008 ... wow, sturdy.

So I bite the bullet and walk the '360 mile' to the phone to give MS a bell. The process was relatively painless, but then a massive strike of irony pummeled Microsoft - their computers weren't working. 'Call back in 48 hours' ... *sigh*

You defend the 360, you defend Microsoft, you deny that terror in your gut, you leap and stare with panicked eyes at every noise it makes, you gasp when it has a data streaming error, you go slack-jawed when the tray gets stuck and won't open that one time ... then, despite all your defense and treating it in a royal fashion, you get kicked in the nuts and end up on your knees wailing at the heavens like Elias in Platoon.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Comin' round to meet you...

Having recently read the excellent book version of Long Way Round, by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, and having then re-watched the show itself on DVD (for at least the fifth time admittedly) I felt I just had to pimp up a blog about it.

Long Way Round is a truly inspiring adventure, as well as a piece of filmmaking in itself. I've often said of late how I'm full-blown filmmaker-jealous of 2nd Unit DP Jimmy Simak, who rode with the support crew and helped film the whole thing, particularly the prep stage (which was before the main DP Claudio von Planta was hired).

It must have been a truly fantastic journey, getting away from everything you know and just surviving on a basic level - like McGregor said on the Road of Bones - it was just about getting their vehicles to Magadan, and that was it. Why the Jimmy jealousy? Well, at the moment that's where I'm at as a filmmaker - acting as a cameraman - and I have shot in what you'd call 2nd Unit capacity before...also it's an envy grounded in practicality - I don't ride motorbikes, unlike Claudio von Planta.

It might sound strange to some of you lot, but whatever, I was really inspired by Long Way Round. It showed you a whole variety of cultures in an easy-to-digest way, from the perspective of two chaps on my own cultural level (i.e. a British westerners). It also really continued to put life in perspective, I find myself thinking "well it could be a hell of a lot worse than this, I could be some abandoned child living under the streets of Ulaanbatarr", or if a bit of filming is getting you down on a long day you think "well I'm not riding through a boggy valley in Mongolia and falling over all the time, so it's totally fine".

That kind of thing, that's how Long Way Round has inspired me, it's also planted a seed in me somewhat - which brings me back around to the 'Jimmy jealousy' - to be able to be a part of a filmmaking team and just getting out there to see the world with a camera in my hand, tagging along in a merry band of adventurers. One day maybe, eh?

Anyway, I figured I'd blog up some thoughts regarding the fantastic Long Way Round (check it out if you haven't already). Next up, to read Race to Dakar and then inevitably re-watch the companion show on DVD again, another inspiring and charming tale of man versus the world.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

30 Days of Shite...

Coming fresh off the rather disappointing heels of hearing that apparently the new season of the absolutely awesome 24 has been arse-shafted back to January 2009 (why are the Americans adverse to showing any quality television throughout summer months? Losers...) I've decided to take that disappointed-cum-fan-anger and inject into the twitching corpse of 30 Days of Night which I had the misfortune to see.

Although, the Superbad soundtrack is cheering me up with it's 70's porno-funk stylings, and GTA 4 has finally been firmly dated...but 30DO-Shite is still a pile of rancid crap.

A bunch of idiots hanging around in some random gimmick-tastic Alaskan town as the thickets, most stupid and useless vampires go about staring dim-wittedly just off-camera, is how I'd describe the film in a sentence. It really is fucking stupid, just wading around in a swamp of shit with it's massive Alaska-sized plot holes flopping around like the lifeless script, and piss-boring characters.

It's painfully obvious that the makers were attempting to go somewhere more artistic with this movie. Some of the shots look straight out of a graphic novel (from whence this story came apparently), and it is indeed this aspect - the look of the film - which is pretty much the sole impressive aspect. But looks are certainly not everything, nor even half of a whole. 20 to 30 percent at best I'd say.

The story, as I've said, is chock-full with vast, yawning chasm-like plot holes. The whole film is based around one single gimmick - a town that's dark for 30 days with a bunch of vampires running around - ooh, how clever...actually no, the idea is neat but it's nothing more than a nifty idea...at least in the hands it ended up in anyway.

You couldn't give a bollocks about any of the characters, or their apparent characterisation and 'important' back-stories (which are honestly just dull). However, the inclusion of an elderly man suffering from Alzheimer's is an interesting twist when you're busy hiding - but beyond that, all the characters blow goats with gusto. Some just vanish, others add nothing at all, yet more just sit there gawping or being annoying, and the leads just prat around like idiots.

Speaking of idiots - the vampires themselves. This is the dumbest bunch of blood suckers that have ever (dis)graced the silver screen. You'd have thought that in a month, in a small town, and with blood-sniffing capabilities, you'd be able to track down a few survivors. With so few houses, and a sizable band of vampires, you could quite easily go from house-to-house literally sniffing out your prey.

But no, this bunch of n00bs sit around actually looking thoroughly confused and wait for the survivors to make A LOT OF NOISE before they turn up, and even then they're so lazy about hunting down their prey, you wonder why they bothered existing at all.

Now, this is a spoiler, but nevermind because you aren't missing anything at all by not watching the movie. Of course, what you really want to do as a vampire, is wait until the last few hours to burn down the entire town to flush out the humans - why not on day two? It's the sort of logic-defying plot devices that leave you groaning, rolling your eyes and watching the clock until it's all over. It continuously defies common sense, logic and even movie-style-reality.

For instance, for a month solid the vampires all have (what I called) 'blood beards', all drippy and fresh - FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH - and this is without constantly feeding. So explain, movie people, why with the month-long, fresh-blood beards? Chuck in some silly pointy teeth, some completely random vampire language (why wouldn't they just continue talking their native-human-english?) and you've got a crap fest on a plate.

Redeeming features? Beyond the visuals, which are rather spiffing, there's the gore. The gore is good (aside from the logic defying bloody faces), in fact it's the single best thing about the film when I come to think about it (yes, out of two good points). For example, towards the end someone gets their head hacked off with an axe - it's awesome and you actually get to see it - and it looks real. It's bloody, it doesn't appear to be drenched in CGI. Simply, the gore is awesome - but with a complete lack of a good plot and strong characters, it's two silver-lined clouds amidst a thunderous, torrential downpour.

Finally, you get a sense that the people behind this were gleefully attempting to make their own version of The Thing, trying to riff on Carpenters excellent film which actually establishes the characters, the location and their gradual cutting off from society and escape with a masterful talent. However, 30DO-Shite doesn't even come close to scraping the surface of the brilliance of John Carpenter's The Thing.

Quite simply, if you want to watch a bunch of people in a really cold place fighting an unknown enemy - watch John Carpenter's The Thing. Over 25 years later it's still a brilliantly constructed and terrifying piece of sci-fi-horror. The same could never be said, by anyone sane at least, of 30 Days of Shite.

What a load of old shite...

Geez, there's been a couple of shite-as-a-bag-of-shite movie viewings of late, the most recent being 30 Days of Night (which I will blog-rant about separately), but the first was getting to see the 'remake' *cough* NAME-RAPE *hack* of George A. Romero's cult classic Day of the Dead.

Steve Miner's Wild'n'Out AKA Ghey08 AKA Careers of the Dead AKA Day of the Flying Zombies AKA Day of the Remake *deep breath* has become literally the worst film I've ever seen ... super-serially-literally-you-guys ... in fact to while away the horror of 80-odd minutes of garbage I decided to knock together a list of my grievances, and came up with 127 of them.

I actually enjoyed writing that list, but the film was atrocious ... still, I get a giggle out of re-reading said list, which went down well with my HPOTD cohorts. I must pimp the list up here actually, but that's for another time - and most likely a two-parter post.

So aye, a mini prelude-to-rant preview type deeley, so ... bye!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Show-Reel 2008 has landed!

So I finally got off my arse to make a new show-reel, which actually takes quite a while when sifting through 4 years worth of filmmaking and then having to pick which ones to include - and then having to pick the right clips, then processing them, then editing the whole thing...damn.

Anyway, it's done and it's online:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=KlcoRg7Uy1w

I'm a big fan of M83, I certainly look forward to the new album, and must check out this sort of ambient album or however you'd describe it, Digital Shades Volume 1 I think it's called. Anyway - it's great stuff, says I.

And finally, huzah, my Transformers DVD arrived from the bloody brilliant Total Film (for a letter I had published in the ... er ... December 2007 issue I think, the one that went on sale at the end of November anyway). Still waiting on 3:10 To Yuma from them, but really the wait is down to the individual distributors of the film - but anyway, I was chuffed to see it was the 2-Disc edition, whereas I was only expecting the 1-Disc - bonus round time today, eh?

Monday, 11 February 2008

Assassination Fascination...

AKA: A Bafta-Ranta Madness!

Call me obsessed if you must, but The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an utterly astounding piece of cinematic genius - yep, I'm out-and-out gay for The Assassination of...

Not another blog post about this film, I hear you cry (infidels!), but it brings me on - instead - to a rant about the Baftas which were just on the TV-shaped box in the corner.

Returning to 'The Ass-Capping of Double-J by the Pussy Bob Ford' (hey, I'm trying to be street-wise to get down wid-da-keeds ... ah screw it), but yeah where was I? Oh yes, the Baftas - after a mere couple of shots in their 'films of the year' montage - criminally ignored Andrew Dominik's superb film, and it riled me up a bit.

American Gangster, which came away with bugger all, managed to get a few nods - but it was a bit rubbish to be honest. It wasn't a big pile of gash, but Ridley's done far better films, and to be frank how was it any different from the myriad of other 'rise and fall' crime biopics out there? As I watched American Gangster, I'd felt as if I'd seen it all before - however, with Jesse James I did not feel this, not once throughout it's entire 2 hours and 40 minutes of considered artistry.

My point being, why couldn't Jesse James fill the slots of American Gangster? 'Oh because then you'd have two westerns in there' - number one, so fucking what - and number two, what other western? No Country For Old Men? It's set in 1980 and it happens to be in Texas and looks a bit like a Western. True enough, but you can't really call it a western - it's certainly not its official genre classing...it is a bloody great film though, and despite the criminal amount of Jesse-shunning going on in the Baftas, the Coens were undoubtedly deserving of their Best Director win.

As for the ceremony itself, bloody Jonathon 'alright in small doses' Ross gets dragged out again (well, at least he's working towards that £18-fecking-million pay cheque) to make a series of appallingly shite jokes. If he wrote them, they're shit. If someone else wrote them, they're still shit.

Either come up with a good gag, and cease the mugging to a politely fake-smiling audience (some of whom didn't even bother with that, which ironically was funny in itself), or shut up and get on with it. At least Eddie Izzard got to rise several genuine guffaws from all involved with actually humorous material.

Also - what the crap was up with that 60 second short film winning an award?! Some guy in a Santa suit doing silly dances on a beach ... and that wins from hundreds of entries?! The extra-kicker being the filmmaker didn't even bother to show up (for reasons unknown)...but come on, a dancing Santa award - which gets broadcast (unlike the shunned shorts, cinematography and editing categories) - geeeeez.

Hopefully the Oscars will actually raise a few chuckles this year, everybody will no doubt be putting in 110% now that the Writer's Strike is nigh-on-ending ... and here's hoping that the little golden geezer will be winging its way in the direction of Jesse James & Co!

You're damn right 'gay-for-Assassination', damn proud too, ha!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

And the assassination of Jesse James continues...

Well, it's been a little while since I saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and it's still sticking with me. The mournful score is still floating around my head at night when it's all quiet, the jaw-dropping cinematography still painted on the inside of my eyelids ... well, not literally because that'd be silly, but you know what I mean.

Point is - what a great piece of filmmaking! :)

Otherwise, I'm currently chipping away at a brand new show-reel, it's taking a while as you've gotta pick a song (from a list of 4,000 in my case) that matches the vibe of most of the footage at the very least...then you've got to pick which films you're made that you want to include clips from...then you have to actually edit the clips you want out of the files, or even capture the clips all over again...then you have to process all the footage, cropping it all to 1.85:1 and playing around with Magic Bullet where appropriate or suitable for experimentation...then you've got to render all that stuff...then it's gotta be transferred into some other editing software (where I do all the basic editing actions nice and swiftly) and then you've gotta edit the damn thing!

Well, I'm currently about a minute into the show-reel edit ... but before that, I had to fiddle with the chosen music track because the MP3 wasn't recognised properly, so I had to go and Cool Edit that sum'bitch into a file that worked fully.

*sigh*

Bloody nora ... still, to get the inspiration flowing, I'm re-watching Long Way Round after having recently finished reading the book, what a bloody good show it is too!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Assassination of Shite by the Hero Andrew Dominik...

Okay, okay, such a pun-tastically cheesy title shouldn't really grace musings concerning The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but you know how it is in blog-land.

But I characteristically digress.

Having struggled through development adversity, at long last the definitive film regarding who could arguably be considered the first celebrity - the notorious Jesse James - is upon us. It opens with the James gang's apparent last big score, a sequence that seems to evoke the cinematic grandeur of the frontier-breaking iron horse, which steamed towards the very first cinema goers. There is an air of majesty in the build up, illuminated amidst the clutter of trees by a beacon-like head lamp.

From the outset you sense that this film is going to go where too few Hollywood productions dare to venture. To tread into an uncertain world of meticulously crafted, morally complex protagonists. This collection of iconic individuals say as much silent and with a stare, than they do when their carefully chosen words are laid gently upon the table.

Indeed, the strength of the often stoic performances are greatest during the eponymous betrayal. Much like the entirety of the film, this scene is slow burn. It creeps forth with Nick Cave's moving and thoughtful score as Brad Pitt (the eponymous anti-hero), Casey Affleck (the eponymous coward) and Sam Rockwell (the coward's elder brother) deliver beautifully understated, yet no less powerful performances.

Perhaps surprisingly, but it is not Pitt, but Affleck who plays the strongest role. At first a very nervous, twitchy, even shy admirer of the James gang's iconic leader, he grows into a more confident - yet still somewhat socially awkward - spurned celebrity follower. It is the journey of Robert Ford which is ultimately the most tragic, mirroring with greater intensity the plight of Jesse James himself, who is a man we eventually come to understand as a loving, church-going patriarch, but whom remains a cold-blooded thief and killer.

Dominik directs with care a considered, restrained epic. It is a film filled with astoundingly beautiful vistas, captured with suitably thoughtful photography, which goes so far as to touche your soul. The Assassination of Jesse James, like the risk-taking epics of the New Hollywood era, sticks with you. It lurks in your mind long after the final, haunting freeze frame fades to black. Indeed, far more The Deer Hunter than Heaven's Gate.

An absolutely astounding piece of filmmaking, brought forth from deep down within the hearts of those involved, this has cinematic classic written all over it.

Quite simply, 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Never-fear, a title is here!

*I forgot to put a title when I first posted this, hence the title that is here...oooooh*

What's been up of late?

Well, I got "The End" finished and then proceeded to write a treatment for a short zombie spoof idea I had quite some time ago (like a good couple of years by now I think). Basically a spoof of Euro-Zombi films (as I call them). I had the idea long before "Grindhouse" was even announced, so forget thinking about it as a rip-off of that film ... although the trailer idea would be an easier way of doing it (and easier on the viewer), because the likes of "Oasis of the Zombies" aren't exactly gripping classics.

So with that treatment bashed out and filed away, I'm now getting cracking on a new showreel - specifically for YouTube - so that means starting from scratch completely. Rather than just disembodied clips for 10 minutes on a DVD like I had before, I'm taking clips and putting them to music in under 4 minutes, that's the plan. So I've been bashing away at severing clips from my various films and projects I've been involved with, colouring some and cropping them all to tidy it up a bit.

There's still a bunch more clips to chop out and process - then it's all got to be rendered - then it actually has to be edited ... and I'm still deciding on which song to use. Heck, I spent an hour or more last night just plowing through my WinAmp list to find the right song, which has the right vibe, which will fit all the clips ... a surprisingly tricky task.

Anyway, that's what's going on right now...also looking to apply to, or apply-to-apply to, a couple of things to see if anything happens there. One thing in particular is looking to become a freelance film reviewer, obviously I'd put more effort in than I do here - this is just a blog for which I'm not paid - but it'd certainly be a cool way to earn a bit of cash to help propel me forwards.

Hopefully "Contempt of Conscience" will be finished soon ... maybe George A. Romero will see it and say "hey, wow, look at the filming of that thing - hey let's get that guy over here!" ... ahhh, one can dream eh? :)

Friday, 1 February 2008

A thunderous cacophony of grim inevitability...

An odd, doom-laden title indeed - but never fear, it's merely a descriptive line from my latest script I'm writing to get it 'banked' for the future.

The script is called "The End", it's a short which would be best suited to 2-D animation. Put really simply, it's about the final moments of the last man on earth in a world gone living dead.

After writing the feature length student comedy "Generation Procrastination", it's a nice change of gear and kinda takes me back to my 6th Form days when I would write many zombie short stories, what with this one being less about dialogue (which was what GenPro was mostly about), and more about actions and descriptions and visual things, so it's actually been quite fun to chip away at it over the last few days.

The first pass is done, now all I need to do is go through it and clean it up a bit and then I'll leave it be and whack it in the DeadShed script bank, oh yes.

Next up after that, methinks I'll do out a treatment for a zombie spoof idea I have.