He Knows When you are Sleeping / He Knows When You’re Awake

If there’s one Christmas movie I need to see this season it’s Rare Exports.  Loosely based on a couple of Finnish short movies from 2003 and 2005, it could be this year’s District 9.

The 2003 short describes the hunting and training of Father Christmases.

Its 2005 sequel points out what can happen when a Father Christmas goes rogue.

I hope Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale gets caught up in the current Scandinavian love-fest since I haven’t seen such an imaginative horror idea in years.

Thought for the day; why do all Finnish kids look so weird?

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A Brief History of Dagenham

Hawking as seen as a cartoon character on The ...
Image via Wikipedia

Ang and I recently attended a showing of “Made in Dagenham” at the Arts Cinema and were captivated by a movie that both immersed us in the feel of late-sixties London and managed to portray an important historical event without being stuffy.

However, during the climactic scene we started to hear a low but constant beeping. Ang, being much more generous than I am, only glared accusingly at the smoke alarm but I turned around to shush what I thought was a rampaging horde of huge thumbed happy-slappers. Cue a retreat of almost Gallic proportions when it turned out the source of the beeping was none other than Professor Hawking.

Obviously the erstwhile professor likes working class period drama – we’d already been graced with his presence during a showing of Kinky Boots.

My own contribution to the Wittertainment Code of Conduct for cinema patrons: No random beeping unless you’re a former holder of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics.

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You have 500 Million Friends

the social network
Image by whipsmart via Flickr

Everyone’s on Facebook, right?  Poking, messaging, friend requests, liking, and other every day words take on their own meanings on this website.  A website that has a population equal to the whole EU, has overtaken email, texting, and the telephone as a means of communication and still manages to grow despite a small (but extremely vocal) community of detractors that think it needs to be shut down.

Sorkin and Fincher’s movie, based on The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, doesn’t touch on the minutiae of the privacy activists concerns, but rather delivers a tight precis of the Facebook’s birth pangs and subsequent legal fallout.

More sympathetic to Zuckerberg than I would have imagined, the movie seems to be the beginning of a narative that portrays the Facebook co-founder as a misunderstood genius (possibly with Asperger’s) that just wants to be loved. Sorkin is at his best when allowed to write fast paced dialogue and interweaving the various legal issues with the Facebook story stopped the movie from grinding to a halt or becoming a spiritual sequel to A Few Good Men.

Love it or hate it Facebook is here and most people will continue to use the site until they finally get bored with talking to each other.  Open source initiatives like Diaspora may gain some currency with a certain type of user, but they won’t ever be as cool, and as Zukerberg’s character says in the movie, Facebook is nothing if it’s not cool.

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August Reading

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

According to Banned in the USA by Herbert N. Foerstel this is the fourth most banned book in US schools because of its use of the “n word.” It’s a shame, because Twain’s portrait of the pre-Civil War South is a damning satire of the post manumission world in which racism was simply driven underground rather than addressed.

Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter.

What started off as a pretty dull, sub-Crichton, Space Cowboy type story turned into something much more compelling half way through. You need to persist past the near future 2010 and clunky technobabble but then pay-off is worth it; the same mind-bending stuff that Bear and Simmons regularly trade in.

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur.

I got this free with Stanza in what I can only imagine is an attempt by the publisher to try and get people to buy the rest of the series – I still feel short changed. I don’t think I’ve come across a published book that reads as much like a bad teenage fantasy as this… and I’ve tried to read the Twilight ‘books’. If you want a bunch of bad deus ex machinae, wooden characters that all have the same voice, and some really bad semi-furry sex then read away. Everyone else, life’s too short

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“I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices”

Harry Potter and the half-Blood Prince PosterImage via Wikipedia

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was a wonderful interpretation of the most complex and emotional book of the series. While it suffers a little from Empire Strikes Back syndrome, there’s enough there to let it stand on its own without feeling like the middle child.

Wonderfully natural performances, as can only be expected from a group of actors who have grown up together making these movies and a sense of wistfulness as they come close to the end of this part of their careers. Michael Gambon, as always, played Dumbledore so well that it’s a struggle to see how the late Richard Harris could have done the same.

While the fans are up in arms about missing scenes and changes made, the emotional impact of the ending would have been lessened too much if the book was followed too faithfully. With David Yeats set to direct the next two, the series can only end on a high note.Enhanced by Zemanta

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Kinky Serenity

Kinky Boots (film)
Image via Wikipedia

A while ago I saw Kinky Boots, a very British comedy set in the north of England about a shoe factory saved from bankruptcy by changing their product line from quality mens’ brogues to womens’ boots that could hold the weight of a man for transvestites. While the film was very simple and had some quite sweet moments, it was made all the more odd because the transvestite in question was played by Chitwetel Ejiofor, who had previously played the Central government assassin in Serenity.

It’s not every day where you see someone as an assassin one week and a very convincing transvestite the next.

As if that weren’t strange enough, Stephen Hawking was in the front row and appeared the enjoy the movie quite a lot.

Only in Cambridge.
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Mouldy Lips

United States indie band The Flaming Lips at F...
Image via Wikipedia

Last night I managed to head off see The Flaming Lips in the Junction. Having never heard the band before I was ready for anything, but I’ve had good luck and not a little help in getting to see good bands since I’ve been here so why not.

All I can say is, “Bloody hell! Was that just the most orgasmic musical experience I’ve ever had or what?” The Lips had us eating out of the palms of their hands. Consummate showmen without a hint of arrogance or bravado, they played over an hour of the best rawk music I’ve heard. Of course they’re well known for She Don’t Use Jelly (a song I was delighted to recognise), their new album is absolutely fantastic. I’d recommend you all run, don’t walk to the web site for a listen and then go out and buy the bloody thing.

As if that wasn’t a perfect night, the support bands were excellent too. The young Silverfish with an interesting Travis-like sound and Bob Mould who is indescribable. Picture it: a bald thirtyish man plaing heavy indie rock accompanied by a drum machine and various electronic sounds. No it’s not Beck, it’s much less depressing than that.

So there you go. Two nice records to go find and rock to.

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