Archive for the ‘films’ Tag

Happy December

Well, it’s December. Which means I can no longer put off attempting to get into a festive frame of mind. It’s time to buy Xmas presents, do my Xmas card list, and venture into the attic to retrieve the tree and decorations.

Two years ago I did a blog post on why I don’t like the festive season. This Scrooge-like view is shared by many of my friends, but I have to say it seems to completely baffle my family. “You used to love Christmas”, my sister said to me recently. Yes, I did, when I was a kid and it was all about getting presents.

However, in an attempt to redress the balance – and to a certain degree bow to the inevitable and try to let in some festive cheer – I have decided this year to do a post on what I do like about the festive season.

Starbucks Gingerbread Latte:
I don’t drink coffee. The only coffee I like is Starbucks soya lattes – and most coffee drinkers say that Starbucks coffee doesn’t actually taste like coffee, which is probably why I like it. But I do love gingerbread, and Starbucks gingerbread lattes are one of the best things about this time of year.  Along with my customary stem ginger muffin, the gingerbread lattes have become part of the breakfast treat that accompanies my early-morning writing sessions.

Marzipan:
I love marzipan. When I was a kid I waited anxiously for my mother to decorate the Christmas cake. My sister and I would both get a lump of marzipan each to eat on its own. I would roll mine out like Play Dough and nibble it, in an attempt to make it last as long as possible.

When the Christmas cake has been cut and handed around, I’ll still go for one of the corner pieces that has more icing sugar and marzipan than cake. Because in fact I prefer the marzipan to the cake.

Ten Days Off Work:
Because I work for an organisation that closes down for the season, we knock off at noon on the last working day before 25 December, with a couple of glasses of champagne, and that’s it for us until the first working day of January. This generally amounts to ten (sometimes eleven) days of not having to crawl out of bed at 6am and trek through the cold and the dark to get to work. Ah, bliss.

The Wizard of Oz:
When I was a kid, cable TV had not been invented. Never mind DVDs, we didn’t even have video players in those days. Throughout most of the 1970s, “The Wizard of Oz” was on TV on Christmas Day. It was never on any other time of year, and there was no other way of watching it back then.

Hubby also fondly remembers looking forward to watching “The Wizard of Oz” at Christmas as a child.  So much so that we now have it on Blue Ray DVD, and we make a point of sitting down to watch it together, at some point over the holidays.

Presents:
Yes, I still like presents. I think everyone likes getting presents, even though we’re not supposed to admit it.

As a kid, I hated getting clothes – I thought they were boring presents. I preferred getting toys. Not much has changed, actually. I still like ‘toys’ – preferably those with a Star Wars or Buffy theme – and get more excited about these kinds of gifts than I do about scarves or make-up kits or any of the other things that girls are supposed like.

Having a valid excuse to eat and drink too much:
Whatever one’s religious beliefs, this time of year is a time for feasting. That means being able to forget the diet, and gorge on chocolate and all things fattening. Especially mince pies.  I love mince pies.

It’s also an excuse to drink lots of alcohol with all your friends, and nobody frowns on you if you start the year with a killer hangover, because that means you had a good time on New Years’ Eve.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that most of the above points involve food. It’s time to eat, drink and be merry. I shall do my best to be cheerful as 25 December rapidly approaches.  I think I’ll have another mince pie…

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Review of “Tron: Legacy”

I don’t normally review films on this blog, but the last film I saw had quite an impact on me and I would like to do a post about it.

I didn’t see “Tron” when it first came out. I wasn’t gaming nerd or sci fi geek in those days. In fact, I wasn’t interested in sci fi at all until I saw “Star Wars” (which was in late 1982, on video), and after that I could be more accurately described as a Star Was fanatic instead of a sci fi geek.

Anyway, it happened that “Tron” was on TV a few months ago, and the day after we saw it, we went to the cinema to see “Resident Evil – Afterlife” and “Tron: Legacy” was trailered there. So, our interest piqued, we went to see it when it hit the cinemas.

“Tron: Legacy” is part remake, part sequel.  Set twenty years on, Sam Flynn, son of the original main character Kevin Flynn, tries to find out why his father disappeared without a trace, and discovers that Kevin was sucked into the ‘net’ – or at least what the idea of the ‘net’ was in the 80’s.

The film makes no attempt to update the computer graphics of the film from the basic pixels that we had in 80’s video games, but it couldn’t really do otherwise, if it wanted to remain true to the original film.  The best special effects, I have to say, involve the creation of a CGI Jeff Bridges. The real, aged, Jeff Bridges turns up later in the film and you know the younger version you’ve seen earlier has to be a CGI creation, because frankly Jeff Bridges just isn’t that young anymore. But it’s so real that you do start to wonder if maybe somehow you have gone back in time – and that, in essence, is the spirit behind the whole film.

I couldn’t decide when I saw “Tron: Legacy” whether I liked it or not.  It’s a film with one foot in the 80’s and one foot in the 21st century.  But this is precisely what it sets out to achieve.

The best and worst parts of this film, to my mind, are actually the same scene.  Sam Flynn, in his hunt for his father, returns to the video arcade, Flynn’s, that was featured in the original film.  It’s been closed up and abandoned for 20 years, and yet when he turns on the power, all the retro computer games flare into life.  I find it hard to believe anyone thought to pay the electricity bill in an abandoned building for the last 20 years.

When the power comes on, however, the juke box starts playing – at an incredible volume – Journey’s “Separate Ways”.  This song is so indicative of the 80’s, and so appropriate a soundtrack for the themes in “Tron” – and such a powerful reminder of why Journey sum up the decade of the 80’s – that I was willing to forgive the whole issue of why the abandoned arcade still had electricity.

If you’re an 80’s kid and a sci fi fan, you’ll find things to love about “Tron:  Legacy”, in spite its flaws.

This film’s power to take me back to the 80’s is the reason it had such a profound effect on me. The “Separate Ways” soundtrack was part of the impact, and for that reason I leave you with the video – available on Youtube – of this song. Music, outfits, hairstyles – it’s just so wonderfully 80s in every way.

Zombies in 3D

Over the weekend, hubby and I went to see “Resident Evil After Life” in 3D. It’s been a long time since we went to the cinema, and in checking the listings I was rather surprised by the number of films currently showing in 3D. Perhaps the movie industry feels the need to offer something different these days to attract people into movie theatres – after all, when you can have a 50″ flat screen TV with surround sound and HD movie channels in your living room, and the comfort of your own sofa, why would you need to trek across town and pay an exorbitant fee to see a film?

3D technology isn’t new, of course. It was around in the 1980s. For some reason it never really took off then. Now the special effects are a lot more impressive, and the 3D glasses are a big improvement (remember those cardboard things with one red lense and one blue lense? Happily now a thing of the past). It remains to be seen whether the whole 3D movie experience thing is here to stay, or whether it is once again a passing fad. One of the problems with any movie filmed specifically for 3D – as with any other movie with a huge budget for special effects – is that quite often it’s style over substance.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy “Resident Evil Afterlife”. It’s very much a ‘switch-off-brain-and-enjoy-mindless-violence’ sort of film. But I enjoy a good zombie bash as much as the next horror geek, and zombies in 3D made the experience all the better. I would say that you have to be a fan of the games to enjoy the Resident Evil movies, but as I am, I enjoyed all the “Resident Evil 4” references in the film. Some of the characters from the games – including brother and sister team Claire and Chris Redfield – made an appearance in the film. Sadly, there was no Leon. Shame. But I am not convinced any flesh-and-blood actor could be quite as tasty as the virtual character.

I did particularly enjoy a scene where the two lead female characters, Alice and Claire, take down an uber-zombie with a seriously scary weapon (an end-of-level boss monster if ever I saw one) by themselves, with no help from the boys. Yay for the kick-ass girlies!

I ended up with a killer headache later in the evening, and I suspect that sitting watching an hour and a half of 3D effects might have been a contributing factor. Apparently the old-style 3D films of the 70s and 80s were fairly notorious in giving people headaches. Perhaps that’s one reason why the whole 3D thing never took off then – along with the silly glasses.

At least the effects are better than the old-style 3D films. When Claire and Alice threw the huge battle axe directly at the camera, to take out the uber-zombie, I think I actually ducked.

I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone who wants a plot that makes sense. Or doesn’t like zombies. Or computer games. But if you’re a games fan with a penchant for a bit of zombie slaying, there are worse ways of spending an hour and a half.

On Being a Geek

My reading tastes lean pretty exclusively towards crime and horror these days. When it comes to TV and films, though, I have to admit to being a sci fi geek.

I started off being a “Star Wars” geek. But since then my geekiness has expanded to embrace most sf films and TV shows, and elevating Joss Whedon to god-like status (“Buffy” will always be, in my mind, the best show in the universe, ever).

There was a story in the media recently about the Sci Fi Channel in the US wanting to change their name to ‘Sy Fy’ or some such – to be more cutting edge and ‘less geeky’.

They are missing the point, and completely misunderstanding their target audience. To be ashamed to be geeky is really not understanding geekiness. Geeks are proud to be so.

Of course, the reasons why are impossible to explain why to a non-geek…