Kick Ass 2

The sequel to one of 2010’s best films is inevitably going to be less stunning and Kick Ass 2 contains fewer laughs, surprises and risks than its predecessor. It still packs quite a punch though while the idea remains conceptually rich and visually interesting. The story picks up with both Dave Lizewski and Mandy Macready trying to adjust to regular high school life without their alter egos but still covertly training. When Mindy finally succumbs to the promise she made to her late father to renounce violence Dave seeks out new allies with which to patrol the streets. Meanwhile Chris D`Amico whose villainous father was killed by Kick Ass last time is seeking revenge wearing a most peculiar costume. 
"So it's not fancy dress then?"


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Though superficially exciting, this adaptation of the book by Cassandra Clare is too cluttered and derivative to make a lasting impression. Presumably the production team thought that employing superfast editing, dynamic action and all manner of CGI creatures would be enough to paper over the fact that the story lacks focus though the actors make the best of it. In fact the casting is something of a strong suit with Lily Collins excellent as heroine Clary Fray whose life is turned upside down after she starts involuntarily drawing a strange shape. Turns out this is a sign that she is not the ordinary girl she imagined and before she knows it she and best friend Simon are on the run. They are hurled into a world of Shadow Hunters and demons hidden from all `mundanes` (i.e. everyone else) in modern day New York. She’s told not to trust anybody which is often a forewarning that the narrative will constantly pull the rug from under the viewer’s feet. This can work a treat but if over done as it is here ends up looking too contrived.


Blake's Junction 7

One of the curious offshoots of our Blakewatch project last year (if you missed it search for Blakewatch) was the ferreting out of Blake’s 7 related stuff and this can lead down all sorts of alleyways. One such diversion is Blake’s Junction 7, a short film made in 2004 by writer Tim Plester (who also created the superb Way of the Morris) and director Ben Gregor, under the Film Club banner. The film is an affectionate contemporary nod to the series, the idea was to make it approachable by people who had vague memories of seeing the show hence it mixes up iconic elements. For example both Dayna and Jenna are present even though in the series they never met. Shot over one- very cold- evening at Newport Pagnell service station it tells the story of Avon, Vila and co stopping over at a motorway service station for petrol, some food and a go on the games machines. Just like any family would in fact except they are dressed in their sci-fi regalia. 


The Tripods Season 1 Episodes 5 -7

Episode 5:  This week we’re in a region of France where the people speak like that bloke from Allo Allo. Anyone would think they weren’t French at all! Anyway, this family they like Will, perhaps mistaking him to be Paul McCartney so he gets to sleep in a grand bedroom while Beanpole and Henry slum it with the estate workers. Beanpole, being also French, metaphorically shrugs and takes it in his stride but Henry has a very grumpy time muttering under his breath as if the actor realises how many more weeks of this there is to go through. Somehow I know exactly how he feels about this.

"Where's Ringo?"


Telstar - The Joe Meek Story

I was intrigued to watch this movie when it was shown on TV last week having missed it when it was released about five years back and knowing next to nothing about its subject. What I did know- like most people who’ve heard the name- is that Joe Meek produced the first UK record to reach the top of the US charts, `Telstar`. This strange otherworldly instrumental would be an unlikely hit in today’s eclectic music world but for 1962 it is a remarkable achievement. That it was concocted in a ramshackle studio above a shop is even more amazing. Nick Moran’s film seems determined to harness Meek’s spirit and is therefore noisy, over the top, weird and quite fascinating.
"I wonder where the off switch is"


Top of the Pops 78: 10.08.78

Originally broadcast 10/08/78 as watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Peter Powell. “Welcome to the 750th edition of Top of the Pops but we're still the youngest at heart! Here's the chart run down!”
Chart music: Voyage, From East To West [16]

The Rezillos: Top Of The Pops [64]. Yes a song named after the show on which the band are performing. Opening the 750th edition with this song must have been irresistible. The Rezillos' have a Top-of-the-Pops-through-the-years style going on; with the lead singer wearing a sixties style dress, the drummer and guitarist looking more Mod, the other guitarist wearing denim and a baseball cap, and the backing singer has a touch of Glam Rock and a Gary Glitter quiff. It's a catchy song performed with great humour (there's a brilliant bit where the music goes “da-da-da-da-da” and the band follow up with a fist pumping “oi”, like a Gary Glitter track, this is repeated twice but third time round the lead singer goes “eugh!” instead of “oi”; it plays better than it reads). At the end of the song the camera man crash-zooms out to show us the band and the audience, and the vision mixer cuts in the Top of the Pops logo as the band gets a well deserved genuine round of applause from the audience; rather than the usual sight of a static and bored looking crowd with applause dubbed over the top.



In 1994, Welsh rock band The Alarm managed to fool the music industry with a single called `45rpm`. Instead of promoting it themselves they released it under the name of a fictitious group called The Poppyfields and engaged a young band lip synced to the track purporting to be the performers. It was only after the single entered the top 30 that the truth was revealed proving of course that ageism is rife in the youth orientated music business. Sara Silverman’s film Vinyl is inspired by this event and uses Alarm singer Mike Peters’ home town of Rhyl. The results are fun but fall short of fulfilling the potential of the idea.


Tea is more popular than you think...

Tea is back! Its popularity has been increasing despite the apparent dominance of coffee.  Figures from both the international organisations that oversee the respective drinks show that global tea production increased 40% during the period 2002-11 and there are now 4.3 million tons produced annually. In the corresponding period coffee production only increased by 7% and totals 7.8 million tons.  That’s only half the story though because it takes only 2 grams of tea for a cuppa whereas your average coffee uses 10 grams which means that in terms of drinking the world consumes 5.9 billion cups of tea against 2.2 billion cups of coffee.


The Wolverine

The first standalone Wolverine film disappointed and suggested that outside of the X Men movies, the character did not work in this medium. So it was with some trepidation that I went to see The Wolverine only to be pleasantly surprised by the results. With original settings, well paced action sequences and a plot that combines action with a personal dilemma, the results are excellent.
 Some spoilers past here...


The Tripods Season 1 Episodes 2 - 4

Our journey to the White Mountains gets under way in the BBC’s dramatization of The Tripods from the 1980s. The idea was to review one a week  but to be honest there isn’t really that much to say about each episode so I’ve bunched them together like, you know, some kind of chemin de fer, like.

All episodes adapted by Alick Rowe from the books by John Christopher and directed by Graham Theakston
Episode 2: You can see how different TV from the 1980s is to modern programmes right away when Episode 2 begins with Will’s mother making breakfast, discovering her son has run away and seeming only mildly bothered about it. In a similar manner, lots happens in the ensuing 25 minutes but none of it seems to be that vital, even a supposedly daring attempt to escape the clutches of press ganging sailors seems too choreographed. Faced with some real dilemmas, the combination of inexperienced actors and wafer thin dialogue leaves what should be a reasonably well paced episode starved of jeopardy or excitement.  

Will insisted they re-create the Abby Road cover despite the fact they are in Paris