I’m having a really good time watching old(ish) films at the moment and Logan’s Run was begging me to watch it. It’s a truly great story and though you think you’ll have heart it before (it’s a fairly common Sci-Fi yarn) you might just find out that this is the first film that really “did” this story, and did it so well.

Basically it’s about a society which is cocooned up in domes after some catastrophe in the outside world. Society is basically entirely hedonistic but that kinda depends on what “class” of citizen you are. The Sandmen in particular, who are the gendarme of the society, seem to live pretty darn well, plush flats, sex with babes whenever you like (classic scene where Michael York’s character, Logan, is offered a male concubine for the night :) ). Anyway, the trick is that in this society you’re only allowed to live to 30 – after which you’re sent to “Carousel” which is a bizarre ceremony in which you might be renewed but otherwise you float up to the ceiling and get blown up… but the “renewed” part isn’t really ever explained because there simply ARE no old people in the society. Weird.

Anyway, so everyone has these little jewel dealies implanted into their hand which gives away their age. At 30 it starts flashing and you’re going to have to pop your clogs. Damn. Some people don’t really like this though and become Runners – trying to avoid Carousel. The Sandmen hunt the runners. No-one escapes.

Logan is a Sandman who becomes a runner. Ah – you see? Good eh? The story unfolds…

It’s a brilliant film, I think the effects are pretty good for the time as well, lots of miniature cities and stuff, it’s funky and futuristic. Michael York (the hunk), Jenny Agutter (the babe) and Peter Ustinov (the old man) are excellent portrayed and written.

I give Logan’s run a wicked 9/10.

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I feel really, really bad. I don’t know why but the media has made me feel awful? Why? Because I have no idea who Natasha Richardson actually is! I do now – she’s the wife of Liam Neeson. Er, no, I’m sure she’s a heck of a lot more than that but again, the media has done this to me. Help!

I feel very much that I ought to know exactly who Natasha is, I have to admit the name kinda rings a bell… and weirdly I do watch a fair number of films but still – no bells are ringing :(

I feel very much when a celebrity/star dies who is very well respected that I should go out of my way to try to look at their back-catalogue (so to speak). I’ve done the same with music stars, gone on from their deaths to get a few albums and respect that artist’s life. I intend to do as such with Natasha Richardson and check out her films. I have a feeling that she’s more of a stage star as well, which obviously I have no hope of being able to follow up.

Nathasha Richardson – I do apologise, I have no idea who you are but I thoroughly intend to find out.

I’m going to score myself a 2/10 for at least knowing who Liam Neeson is.

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James Brolin and Christian Bale

Father and son? Similarity and likeness is amazing

It’s truly an amazing likeness between Brolin and Bale and, having done a very little research it appears there are lots of rumours that Brolin is Bale’s father, and Bale Brolin’s illegitimate son, however, that is purely rumour and pretty scurrilous at that.

My first encounted with Brolin was in The Amityville Horror with himself and Margot Kidder. Damn! Are they ever dopplegangers. Recently I’ve also seen him in WestWorld, Skyjacked and, interestingly, in Batman the TV Show.

The likeness is uncanny but surely it is just that. That they look alike, combined with an apparent similarity in facial and bodily gestures is quite amazing.

I rate the likeness an pretty substantial 10/10!

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Ah, Westworld. Not sure the first time I saw it but whenever I have seen it it’s been late at night, very late, and something I’ve come across by accident. Think I’ve seen it about 3 times accidentally, once intentionally, and today – very intentionally again.

It’s an amazing film, another Michael Crichton wonder, this time written AND directed by himself. Effectively it’s a themepark of recreated, re-enacted worlds, comprising of 3 areas, Westworld (the wild-west), Roman world (speaks for itself) and Medieval world. Many of the people within the $1000 a night are tourists rich enough to pay for the privilege. But most of the occupants of the worlds are robots, specially programmed to behave, threaten, cajole, drink and womanise in exactly the same way as any human would.

It’s an awesome concept, really, as one would expect from such a brilliant writer as Crichton. The roles, played by James Brolin (Christian Bale anyone?!?), Yul Brynner and Richard Benjamin, are as scary (Brynner) as they are genuine (Benjamin).

Seriously, a great film, thoroughly recommended to anyone.

9/10

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Columbo - detectiveI don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner! I LOVE Columbo, it’s one of my favourite ever TV shows and I guess one of my favourite characters, so let’s review it!

The premise of Columbo

“Yeah, we’re going to show the audience exactly who killed who and how, then spend an hour and a half watching a bizarre Italian-American bumbler catch the guy… even though he really knows who did it within the first few seconds of meeting them. Oh, and he eats hard-boiled eggs. And can’t look in the same direction with both of his eyes.”

Weird! But it works, how he unravels the murder and the murderer is genuinely thrilling. Unfortunately there are a lot of really poor Columbos, but look out for the good ones, to quote Tony the Tiger: “They’re GREAT!”

What is Columbo’s first name?

Lieutenant Columbo… butwhat is Columbo’s first name? Frank! I’ve seen it somewhere, a photo of his police badge that shows Columbo’s firstname. But I love things like that in the show – how many mysteries and questions are there through the thing?

Who is Mrs. Columbo?

The other major question is who is his wife? Does he have a wife? What’s her name? (Mrs. Columbo is the real answer, of course!) The actual TV show Mrs. Columbo was made starring Kate Mulgrew who later went on to star in the Star Trek: Voyager series as Captain Janeway. It was awful – please, really, don’t be tempted to find it, it’s not good. In fact, even the TV bosses realised how poor it was when they changed nearly every aspect of the show so that it no longer seemed to reference the original Columbo, such were the fears that it might taint the original.

Peter Falk

Peter Falk – what a guy! With one glass eye (Doh! Stupidly, it’s only in the last couple of years I’ve even realised this!) he’s made one of the most charming detectives ever seen in a Detective show. And weirdly, the whole scruffiness thing isn’t really apparent in the first few episodes – though the fake-bumbling is. Columbo is famous for his dirty mac, but I think people forget just how good these shows really are, and how clever they are. I mean, can you imagine pitching the show?

Overall I’d give Columbo a wicked 9/10

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A bird in dark settingI have to admit, I’ve never really been enrolled into the whole history of the Resident Evil series. I do seem to remember playing the original on the Playstation (is that right?!) but it may have been the second. Either way, it was good fun, part action, part adventure. Reasonably scary.

So when the fifth in the series came out (Oh, I tried the one on the Wii, that was AWFUL!) I had to get it… and I must say I’m really enjoying it! I know it’s standard practice to complete a game before reviewing but I’m not a massive, massive gamer. I play when I can and mostly that’s very casual but I’m trying my best.

The first thing that hit me is how gorgeous the game looks. I was, for some reason, expecting an “on rails” type game where there are hundreds of pauses and camera swings to divert your attention to the next thing. That it’s as free as it is somehow came as a shock and interacting with the environment on this game is a thorough joy. I don’t know whether it’s just me but the controls did irritate a fair bit, as did the odd bizarre camera angle… still, it’s kinda one of those things these days that people just *do* complain about.

The storyline is pretty good considering it’s a Zombie game to all intents and purposes. Oh, and it’s been ages since I’ve played a game with proper end-of-level baddies, how cool is that?! Your main ally in your pursuit, Sheva, is a bit bloody stupid I have to admit – you’re supposed to be able to get her to help you out more often than not but I just kept putting her into “cover” mode and that seemed to be for the best. There’s a need to conserve ammo that’s quite tricky for someone who’s not a confirmed FPS gamer, but the challenge seems fair enough really, rather than being handed everything on a plate. And the cool thing is that I hardly had to blow up a barrel at all!

I don’t think I’ve ever played a more cinematic game, though I’m looking to get Call of Duty: World at War, so we’ll see how long that lasts.

A very solid game, well directed, well executed and voice acted. A very intense and inclusive experience.

The game gets 8/10

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On the way to pick up my son and coming up to a roundabout: 3 lanes; left lane goes left, middle and right lanes go straight on. I’m in the middle lane… person in the left lane is going left, going left, going left – nope! Going straight on. Argh!!!!

Luckily, * very luckily * there was no-one in the right lane so I was able to move over just in time. But that’s really rare that there aren’t cars filling all three lanes. I’m useless at finding my horn (yeah, yeah, ha-ha) so I didn’t even beep. I was so… well, scared I guess. I do get incensed when driving but less so when my heart’s pounding with fear.

Still don’t really know how I managed to avoid a scrape of some kind. Idiot then carried on driving stupidly fast in front of me, braking somewhat erratically. Did wonder whether the driver was drunk. Makes you think.

Anyway, bit dull, but overall I’d give my journey a very low 1/10 and only gets a 1 because I was at least able to see my little boy :)

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Chips with Ketchup - loving themChips, glorious chips. Well, not that glorious I suppose, they are chips after all. Oh, and chips means fried potatoes by the way, cut into sticks and eaten with ketchup. *Those* kind of chips.

So, in my own weird way, I’ve had opportunity recently to make my own chips using real-life potatoes, and use ready-made oven chips, the brand of which I forget but quite possibly McCain. This is my review.

The home made chips were, on the whole, the more dangerous to make. Having no peeler handy, I slices the potatoes using a sharp knife. Actually, and perhaps you should all think about this, I reckon that I actually removed far less good potato this way than using a peeler. Anyway, then I had to dice-with-death another time and cut the potatoes up into chip shapes. Scary huh? In the meantime I was tasked with heating up oil in a pan to a stupidly dangerous level before adding the potatoes. It all went well, but I could have died is what I’m saying!

The oven ready chips I slapped on a baking tray and popped into the oven. Easy.

But when it came to taste time, I can emphatically announce home-made the clear winners. The oven ready were dry and the middle kinda collapsed in on itself. Useless. The home made were just the right side of greasy and anyway the ketchup cut through all that beautifully. Yum!

So, my scores are:

Home-Made Chips: 9/10
Over-Ready Chips: 5/10

On average, I’m going to have to score 8/10

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This is my first review of this quite bizarre and quite wonderful book, “The Master and Margarita”. I say wonderful even though I have no idea whether it truly is wholly so, but it’s almost irrelevant, right now I can happily report that it is quite wonderful to read, even though I can’t confess to be entirely enjoying it.

What I’m intending to do is review each separate bit that I read, partly as a way to give myself momentum to KEEP GOING with it. It’s hard work, believe me, it’s… well, I’ll explain why later. Anyway, hopefully doing the reviews this way gives it a chance since it is a book of changing moods, styles and stories. At this point, I’ve read 40 pages. The other reason to do it is it gives me a chance to think about books, stories, tales of mystery, in a different way. Makes me stop and think and disparate points rather than ploughing on and considering the tale only at the end. That’s otherwise what I do and it seems kinda daft.

OK, so, to the story. This being the first chapter of my review I need to give some background of the book. The Master and Margarita first drew me to it because of the wonderful cover of the book. It has a cat, a black cat, a bespectacled black cat… oh, I’m going to stop there BUT the cat is also smoking a cigar and playing cards. Fantastic! The novel is written by Russian Mikhail Bulgakov. It is a satire, by all accounts, and in my reading of it so far can be desperately funny and beautifully absurd. The book, by all accounts, has quite a weird history; apparently the first draft of the book was destroyed for dubious reasons, and the final draft was completed by Bulgakov’s wife after his death. Then, after its release was censored to hell, the devil knows why (that is a bad joke based on the first few bad jokes referencing the devil in the first few pages of the book). Obviously the version I’m reading is an interpretation into English and has been completed by two separate interpreters.

The book starts with a poet and a journalist discussing the former’s current employ by the latter to produce an atheistic poem about Jesus. At which point a “foreigner” arrives who starts to tell them about how he knows that Jesus did exist, and a chapter is devoted to a flashback of Pontius Pilate’s introduction to Jesus of Nazareth. It’s actually quite fun, the historical details, Jesus’ apparent words and actions are all rather interesting and the juxtaposition of the chapters is amusing and quite enthralling.

Then it starts to get a little odd. The “foreigner” starts to get all spooky and predicts the future. Only 35 pages or so in and actually I was quite attached to the poet and the journalist so…

[SPOILER ALERT]
… it’s quite weird when one of them is decapitated. End of story for the journalist. But the important thing is that the odd sequence of events that leads to the beheading is predicted by the foreigner. The poet, quite freaked out, starts to chase after the foreigner who is joined by another bizarre gentleman and… a big, walking cat.
[/SPOILER ALERT]

Personally I’m finding the reading of it all quite difficult. Clearly there’s a fair amount of interpretation going on and it shows, frankly, in the way the humour in particular is interpreted. I have a feeling, and this is a good thing, that some of the humour has been either over-played or under-played. It’s silly in places and I get the feeling that it’s supposed to be, that the original is, but somehow it doesn’t work in English. The other major difficulty I have is that the names are also quite difficult to follow. I know, I’m a pathetic Englishman who can’t remember long complicated foreign names… but it’s true! I can’t! Especially when the characters also have Russian nicknames that are used intermittently.

Anyway, that’s where I’m up to. I’m happy to carry on, though I must admit it’s hard work. Loving the weirdness though :)

Cover: 10/10
Introduction to the story: 8/10
Story so far: 9/10

Overall, I’m giving the first 40 pages a very devilish 9/10

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Jade Goody – is there any one person in the UK who is simultaneously so loathed and loved by he public? Yeah, probably. Truth is though that she is someone who has divided opinion so greatly over the years that there’s a certain amount of feeling within me that’s forcing me to be really think about whether it’s fair to “have a pop” when someone’s dying? Why not? Why do I have to suddenly think that she’s a wonderful person *just because* she’s dying?

Well, I should, because like her or not, she has a family, she has friends, she genuinely does have a lot of people who love her around her. Sure, I can be skeptical about people like Max Clifford but really I have no real reason to suspect his motives of being anything but friendly in the lady’s last days or weeks. Frankly I feel a bit uncomfortable, it’s not like she’s stabbed anyone, or destroyed anyone’s future, or really done an awful lot but take advantage of our own society… if anything should be done on the back of feeling anything negative towards the Goodie, then it should be to take on the most deplorable “media” aspects of our selves.

Personally, I’m a bit tired of the whole thing. She is one amongst thousands who are suffering in exactly the same way, she’s not special in that respect.. and to be honest, I have no idea if she herself would like the attention she’s getting. I just don’t know, and it’s not fair to assume that she would.

The amount of vitriol and humor being poked at her around the internet is immense. There’s a pretty good summary of all this shown here: Jade Goody funny stories and jokes. Don’t blame that site, by the way, it’s just aggregating all the stories around the internet.

It’s a weird state of affairs. The way I see it is Jade Goody is OK. She’ll die, people will mourn, and hopefully Cancer becomes even more pressing in people’s lives as something that needs funding, in terms of research, and hopefully anyone who has profited from Jade Goody’s life (and death) will put some money – if not all that money – that way.

When the time comes – because I won’t blog about it again – RIP Jade Goody.

This review isn’t going to have a “rating” – it doesn’t seem appropriate.