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August 20, 2007

Franceland.

Writing about web page http://mathendacil.free.fr/blog/

Hi folks,
this is a belated entry to let you all know that I am back in Franceland. I already miss Warwick terribly, and that even though I know that I’m going to be coming back soon! [actually for a week-end before term starts!]
Here in France, things go on as planned, and I’m ok.
I don’t really know when my account is going to expire and when I won’t be able to write entries in here any longer, so I’ll give an address (inexistant so far) where I’ll put the sequel to this blog when I can’t edit it any longer! (I’m actually quite surprised it still let me write this!) Here it is: http://mathendacil.free.fr/blog/
Hope all is well for you, I love you and I’m missing you.


June 25, 2007

The beginning of the end

This is the time of the year when you start to feel – well, that it’s getting over. Soon. Very soon. Things just wrappung up quietly around you.
This week, for me, was marked by two relatively big blows – thursday, and, well, tonight, with some continuity between them.
Thursday was my last Warwick Rev rehearsal (I dare not say ever) – as well as my last proper DMed show at the Student Cinema. The Science of Sleep was awesome by the way. But as I said, the beginning of the end.
It went on Friday, with my lovely Oxfam friends throwing me a surprise thank you party – I can’t believe, in retrospect, that I fell for the trick the manager used to keep me in the shop. As if he needed one. But it was really really nice and very much appreciated.
Saturday. Two of my housemates have now definitely left, and I’m home alone (but my third housemate is coming back tomorrow :-) ). I see lots of people from WiM again. [geek moment]And it is the first part of this year’s final episode of Doctor Who – which, for the first time since… Daleks in Manhattan (!) watch without John or pizza. Fortunately, Stu was there ! [/geek]
Sunday, aka today. What it all built up to. The Piazza concert! Now that was awesome, and we had lots of people turning up and enjoying themselves, despite the rain – and quite frankly we sounded great :-) and people laughed at the drama and (unexpectedly) at the dance. I have rarely had as much joy as during the encores of So Good and My Redeemer. But it was also the last I was seeing of lots of friends. So after the concert it was lots of hugs. So fellow Revvers, thank you for these two terms, that I have been able to enjoy so much with you. You will always have a special place in my heart.
And right now, I’m typing from the office of the Student Cinema, where the last L3 show of the year is being done – Full Monty is on at the moment – and the very last WSC show is going to be on tuesday (the outdoor screening of Ice Age).
So yeah, I am feeling quite emotional at the moment. But I’d rather have it this way than wishing it were over more quickly.
To all my friends – carry on doing what you’re doing, because you’re just the best!


June 16, 2007

Big Finish (Finish it is indeed)

Follow-up to Oh boy, am I excited! from Procrastination man

Well. Expectedly, I didn’t make it. Even though, technically, I haven’t received the rejection email, Simon/ConcreteElephant has announced on Outpost Gallifrey that the shortlisted 25 had been contacted by email. Mind you, I’m using my university email for that so it may well be a Warwick Mail failure. Aren’t we all used to that now?
Which is why I am not putting my story online for all to see just yet. It would be stupid, wouldn’t it, to get an email a bit later saying – oh you’ve won but not anymore because you’ve published it. However, once I get this email, the story will be available here (yes, in pdf because pdf rules).
For now, thanks to Big Finish for giving this opportunity to unpublished writers like myself; and congrats to the winner, whoever he/she is. Thanks to all of you if you have supported me.
Once the story is up and online, I’d appreciate any comments.

Edit – 19th June 2007 – the names of the winners are up on the Beebs website, so I have put my story online.


June 10, 2007

Thank you

I just thought tonight that there were quite a lot of people I should say thank you to, and have not done so quite enough. So here goes:

  • Thanks to Casper for making me discover the world of Rev. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank you enough for that.
  • Thanks a lot to Jason, Judey, Rich, Sam Bond, Liam for welcoming me so warmly there. You’ve been good friends since my very first rehearsal.
  • Thanks to Hazel for her communicative enthusiasm and her great variety of tea. And for taking me to Elim and telling me about Globe Café.
  • Thanks to John for letting me watch Doctor Who, taking me to Jubilee, and for being a good friend.
  • Thanks to Simon (from WiM) for his insightful chats and for the book he sent me.
  • Thanks to Ben, Adam, Sam Burrell, and the other members of the new exec… for being an awesome exec!
  • Thanks to Alex J (from WiM) for her natural cheerfulness, and for being a nice friend.
  • Thanks to Adair for the barbecue, between many other things.
  • Thanks to Tim, Amalia, Steve, Jonny, and the others, for various reasons.
  • Thanks to James Mac for putting me back on the right track at the beginning of term. I needed it and didn’t see it, so sorry if I have been a bit cranky about that. Really.
  • Thanks to George for the Doctor whos
  • Thanks to Ellie for her hugs
  • Thanks to Andy for the very intriguing innuendo-full conversations
  • Thanks to Tom for being a friend
  • Thanks to Aiden for being the Brummie he is
  • Thanks to James C for being friendly, chatty (most of the time) and nice
  • Thanks to Austin for being a good friend, and for being able to deal with me more than any human should.
  • Thanks to Matt for being an awesome buddy and preparing me nicely to my arrival in the UK
  • Thanks to Jess & Rachel from Rev for being friendly and taking me onto RAG wildness.
  • Thanks to Pidge for being so much fun to be around.
  • Thanks to Warwick Volunteers for giving me that many opportunities
  • Thanks to Jamie (from WMS/Beauty & the geek) for being the down-to-earth but never too worried kind of person you like to have around.
  • Thanks to Ben & Sue from the International Office for their great job throughout the year.

Finally, thanks to anyone I have forgotten. If I have met you this year, there is very probably a reason why I should thank you. Thanks for making me smile, and enjoy this year more than I ever thought I could enjoy something. You made me smile, you made me happy, you made me live this year to the full.


May 24, 2007

UK, the greatest nation on Earth. Truly.

Writing about 'This is the greatest nation on earth' from Chris Doidge's Blog

A couple of weeks ago, in his resignation speech, PM Tony Blair declared the UK was the greatest nation on Earth. And this seems to have stirred quite a debate.
In order to agree or disagree with him, though, one has to look into what it means to be the greatest nation on Earth.
  1. Nation – what is a nation? To me, it means a set of cultural heritage, that binds people together. It is more than waving a flag around – oh no, that is only for people who uphold a vision of the nation that is different from what actually is, and need a symbol to rally to. [aside]Interesting enough, by the way, that these were brought in the French presidential debate.[/aside] The nation is some marks you can actually identify, in this case, the UK with.
  2. Greatest. Tony Blair chose his words carefully – he did not say most influential or most powerful, or any such thing the French might come up with. He said greatest; and in terms of nations, what does it mean? It could mean loveable, but that would be entirely subjective, and not quite fit in. Though I am sure the ex-PM is in love with his nation. What I think he meant there is that, no matter what, the UK has still a unique feel, an unbreakable set of chartacteristics, and a creative culture. And he is well right.

The UK is, nowadays, patly based on immigrant population. They remain within small or large communities; but still take on a big chunk of British culture – from the language to tea. And the oddity to drive on the left. Etc. etc. – they may be thought of as foreigners, but truly they are British. And that’s without having to wave a flag around.

This is why, truly, the UK is the greatest nation on Earth. And I am proud to live in it.
(Disclaimer: abuse at the French is purely jocular)


Spidey

Title:
Spiderman 3
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

The main problem with Holywood sequels is that they try to top off what has been done before. Thus, Spiderman 3 could be dubbed bigger, better, with this time not one, not two, but three villains. Quite ambitious to bring the Sandman, Venom and Goblin mark II in one single movie.
And, to be honest, it doesn’t work. Well, that is, at the beginning: too much time is spent on the Sandman’s background, without quite convincing us; and Spidey/Pete’s bliss is borderline boring. You see a new Spiderman, full of pride, which is quite a leap from the one we had seen in the first two parts.
However, this all serves a purpose, and builds up to what can be named a masterpiece. For this movie revolves around one central theme, as did the previous two; but more subtly, and with a more general scope than before. What Spidey 3 is about, ultimately, is not exploring the dark side of the superhero – because that cannot work – it is about forgiveness. And it is seen from every possible angle: forget but not forgive, at the beginning – which clearly leaves some guilt in the “culprit”; Aunt May’s “forgive yourself first”; revenge; forgiveness that brings peace of mind; rejected forgiveness… I don’t think there’s any other way to tackle the issue; and yet it does not feel hackneyed in the film; on the contrary, thanks to the long and slow-paced beginning, it just feels right.
So we’re ready to forgive some awkward scenes (such as the French maître d’), and to focus on the amazing performances given by the lead cast: Tobey Maguire is, as ever, very good – even when he becomes the baddie; Kirsten Dunst is annoying but only when she’s supposed to be, and, for this once, does not give a flat, boring pretty-face act; and finally, Harry is just great! Suspension of disbelief works in every single scene he’s in; and that was important in order to make a farfetched twist quite believable. The supporting cast is quite good as well, especially the arrogant Eddie.
So, yeah, the storylines from the previous two movies are dramatically altered (who killed whom?), and yeah it’s overcrowded with villains – but it is all for the best, and iit works!

Spiderman 3 will be shown next term in the Student Cinema – worth the 2 or 3 quid!


May 21, 2007

An ideal break from revisions: Notes on a scandal

Title:
Notes on a scandal
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

It’s time, it would seem, for another review. The very good Notes on a Scandal was on last night at the Student Cinema; and will be shown again tomorrow tuesday (21st May) at 7.30pm. In the following review, I will give out bits of the plot; but since it is not an action/suspense-led movie, they are not spoiling much.
The film is, basically, about Cate Blanchett, playing a young arts teacher, falling in love with one of her 15-year-old pupils, as seen by Judi Dench, who plays an old, upper-lip teacher believing she loves Blanchett. One could see three acts in the film: the beginning of a friendship; Dench discovers the scandal and decides to use it to her personal benefit; and the end of lies. Just like on-stage drama; which would probably suit the story a bit better.
However, all the boxes are ticked: it is an interesting, nice story; the casting couldn’t have been more accurate, at least for the leading two ladies: a manipulative, old shrew Judi Dench (the best actress in British cinema); and a young naive/candid Cate Blanchett. The story editing works perfectly, the pacing is right and conveys the feelings of the cast; directing and photography are (just) ok, and the music is awesome, even though it suffers from what I now shall call the Murray Gold syndrome: it is so good that post-producers decide to put it in the film just a tad too loud.
So, with no apparent flaw, surely, this would deserve a five star? Well, no. The story is, ultimately, about lies; and whilst the film manages to show bourgeois happiness is just a facade, it fails to go far enough in denouncing Judi’s lies – lies to herself, especially about her love and friendship with Blanchett. Hers is the quest for power over other people, and the delusion of having it, but not love. The same is true about Blanchett, who lies to herself about the state of her marriage, etc. And I resent Notes on a Scandal a bit for not focusing on this, just a tad more than it did.
Still, an all-around enjoyable film (yes, like every film that is on at the student cinema: Epic Movie was a fragment of your imagination and was never ever shown in L3!); and it also deserves praise for being only 97 minutes long, which is rather a counter-trend in post-Lord of the Rings overlong/overstretched cinema.
An ideal break from revisions!


May 20, 2007

Excellent PR stunt.

The very controversial new president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is manipulating the media with quite an impressive ability. And, I’d say, has done so for quite a while now.
His latest PR stunt is quite twisted: right after the election, he decided to take a leave – for a “well-deserved rest”, and to “inhabit the presidential function”. Bang. Controversy all over the media in France, and the socialists just go for it. Scandalous; where does the money come from – and when it turns out it’s not the taxpayer’s but an industrial’s – has there been traffic of influences? Truly enough, the amount spent during these days was quite high (I can’t remember the exact figures, but it’s not very relevant anyway). And true, it is quite weird that a newly-elected president leaves the country right after the election. But it is entirely within his rights, all the more so as he was not invested yet.
What are the real consequences of this controversy? Something that, I’m very much afraid, we’ll have to endure during the next five years to say the least. Media that are focused on the person – the president himself – and not on the policy he seeks to implement. They fell for it this time, and also did before and during the campaign, when all you could hear was that he was a dangerous man, quick to lose his temper etc. – and the much mediatised divorce from Cécilia. Talking about her, weirdly enough, she reappears in the front of the scene – and guess what? the media don’t fail to notice and say it.
When the media focus on the person, instead of on his actions and policy, we enter a very dangerous society; and the cult of personality is only one step ahead. An example – about slavery. This year is the 200th aniversary of the abolition of slavery; and Sarkozy, as he should, attended the ceremony (note he didn’t attend the ceremony for the end of World War II, which is a bank holiday in France) – the media picked up on the fact that he had condemned “repentance” as “self-hatred” during the campaign, and insisted on the fact that he contradicted himself. Instead of looking at Sarkozy’s actions, once more, they focused on the person, taking his words about repentance as unalterable truth.
Now – it is true that the personality of a president is important – especially when world politics as concerned; but focusing on it is a very, very slippery slope.


Travis' latest album

Title:
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

Travis are back, after a three-year hiatus, with a fourth album, The boy with no name. It is definitely more pop than rock, this time – and marks quite a change from 12 memories. The boy with no name draws upon all the positive sides from the previous albums (some instrumentals remind of Quicksand; Selfish Jean belongs definitely more to Good Feeling than any other album, and My Eyes rings a bit like Fear. And the pop bits are from The Invisible Band, and remind especially of Side.
So, it should be a masterpiece. And yet the magic doesn’t work – granted, some pieces are just awesome – especially My eyes – but all these songs are just – well – sung. They do not convey any feeling, where the whole of The invisible band was transmitting a general feeling of hope, The man who sadness and insecurity, Good feeling buoyant happiness, and 12 Memories anger. And not conveying any feeling makes The Boy with no name achieve only a three stars. Interestingly enough, the video to the first single, Closer, happens in a supermarket – and that’s basically what some of the songs are: supermarket music, lacking energy and originality.
Pity, because we all know that Travis is able to do so much better!
So – yes – individually, there are some great songs: My eyes, One night, and Selfish Jean. But as a whole, the new album is a disappointment.


May 19, 2007

The Perfume (the movie)

Title:
The Perfume
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

The Perfume – the movie – was, at its very core, ambitious, this for many reasons. Most obviously, it is extraordinarily difficult to transpose the olfactory sense, which is at the very centre of Süskind’s novel, onto a media that is mostly graphical. Secondly, the book itself is a masterpiece and has some wonderful descriptions, which, again, inevitably would fail to be rendered on a screen. Also, the leading part (almost the only part) is that of a twisted soul, but one which has charisma and appeal: casting had to be really fitting for this role. So – quite a challenge!
It would have been easy to focus on how obsession drives Jean-Baptiste crazy- though that would have departed slightly from the book. Too easy, probably – and studies about obsession-driven people are abundant in nowadays’ cinema (The Prestige is an exampe of them, and a very good one); so this path was not chosen. Being factual is, also, not an option- because the olfactory sense is the most subjective of our senses. The film is avoiding all these clichés and focus on one (maybe the main) aspect of the book – that, ultimately, Jean-Baptiste is some sort of Devil. Which is more obvious when you think of it – hints are plotting the whole book and film, for instance Jean-Baptste’s last name, Grenouille (frog, a creature associated with the Devil as far as I can remember). Whilst this becomes progressively obvious in the book, the same is not true of the movie – and one can easily mistake such references for random elements of the script: the word weird came quite a lot when I discussed about some scenes with friends. But – think about it – the deaths that occur to Jean-Baptiste’s carers right after he leaves (malediction element), deception, crime/murder, obsession with perfection – somehow trying to better God – and, more interestingly, the orgy scene towards the end of the film – symbolising lust. Now, this scene – which is gratuitous if you don’t have the Devil interpretation in mind – is quite controversial. It leads to quite a lot of giggling from the audience, but still is pivotal for the whole film: this is the culmination of Grenouille as the Devil, with him finally deceiving everyone into lust; but also entailing the central notion of Redemption : the first tears in Jean-Baptiste’s eyes, and the acceptance of death through the arms of the father as final redemptory act. Every symbol is there, even the cross. Now, as far as I recall, there is no orgy in the book, so this scene was added. And it is a stroke of genius. For once, story alterations actually add depth to a story, instead of, say, just adding a plotline (as the Aragorn/Arwen relationship in The Lord of The Rings). The very last scene keeps on adding some depth to the fallen angel ongoing theme: as the voiceover says, all that mattered was for Jean-Baptiste to be loved.
So the adaptation is, overall, genius. There are, however, still some defaults: the story being, ultimately, centred on Jean-Baptiste, so much time should not be spent on showing that the perfumer’s business was derelict, no matter how famous the actor is. Why do producers feel they have to use famous actors? Cameo is perfectly fine as far as I’m concerned! Also, one may say that, because of this focus on the Devil side of things, the story becomes very linear, and lacks transversal dimension. Which is true, but it somehow works in this particular film! Graphically, it is superb, except from the first couple of scenes: in order to show the olfactory sense at work, the director flashes evocative pictures. Quite fortunately, he quite rapidly gives up on that – fortunately, because the movie is about smells, which you, intrinsically, cannot show. The help comes from the amazing performance of the lead actor. He manages to pull off a tormented, yet disgusting and touching performance, as well as makes us see him smell. Suspension of disbelief is really easy (well, until the orgy scene) and that is moainly thanks to him. From the orgy scene onwards, he switches to allegory mode, which – again – works perfectly well!
But the film is not all good: there are a few minor issues. The voiceover is the one that I have most difficulties with: it is clearly a wrong choice when all you’re doing is following Jean-Baptiste around. It is, really, a lazy choice. But it gets worse: it would have been fine to have some voiceover; however, to have it speak like someone telling a children’s tale just doesn’t work. Because the story is so adult, and the tale mode does not work when you’re talking about the Devil. The other thing i hold against the Perfume is the music. Except for the one bit before Jean-Baptiste’s final murder (which is, by all my standards, brilliant), the music is unoriginal at best.
But this is all I can find to say against the film. Did it achieve what it had set out to do? Only partially – it fails to show as clearly as the book that Jean-Baptiste is an incarnation of the Devil, which makes it a failure for, say, half the audience- I personally did not like it that much the first time I saw it! So to all of you my dear readers, this film deserves a strong four. Go watch it again, or buy the DVD, because it is worth it!


42.

Title:
Doctor Who
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

42. Now that’s what I call a filler. The plot itself is very simple, almost hackneyed in Doctor Who; and… well… it’s a quickie that works well because of some nice ideas: a living Sun, Martha separated from the Doctor and realising she is about to die gave a quite interesting twist to the Smith & Jones relationship. I could go on. The nice thing about this episode (and, quite frankly, what saves it) is that it is nicely wrapped up. There are, practically, no loose ends – well, there’s always the couple of odd scientific nonsenses. I personally quite enjoyed the voice that counted the time left before impac. As in Smith & Jones (magnetic overload”), one is left to wonder why this message is implemented in the ship. But, what is more fun – it takes the voice over one second to say the remaining time; and yet you see it ticking of (and saying) the seconds! Another good (?) thing iis that, this time, when the Doctor nearly died, I actually considered a regeneration (probably because he mentioned it); and yet his salvation was more realistic than the near deaths we were getting used to over the past couple of episodes! So thumbs up to the production team for managing to pull off a nice little story. I am also excited by the fact that they’re already wrapping up for the finale… ooh elections I can’t wait!
Oh, one more thing: Murray Gold, your music is superb – but please tone it down a bit… Ta! :-)
A weak four out of five, then, and because it’s Doctor Who!


May 11, 2007

Oh boy, am I excited!

Writing about web page http://www.bigfinish.com/bigfinish.shtml

As read on the forums at Outpost Gallifrey, about the competition that the related webpage is about:

(...) On schedule to have announcements by the end of this month. 200 stories left to read. Think I might have found the winner already…

Obviously, I have entered a story for that competition (poor Big Finish received 1,073 submissions in total) – and I must say I am pleased with the concept, even though there’s a couple of things I am not overly happy with in my story – but hey, that’s what working with an editor is for!
Anyways, win or lose (the latter being more likely, but not 100% sure!) it will have been fun to write this; and thumbs up to Big Finish for organising this competition and being so efficient in their selection – I mean, they’ve been reading lots and lots of pieces of work :-)

Oh, don’t forget to buy the Short Trips anthologies, because as an editor (ConcreteElephant, the other quote is by the same user) said on the same forums (www.gallifreyone.com):

The general quality has been good, which has made the whole thing much more time-consuming and fiddly. It’s quick and easy to reject rubbish ones. So it’s bad news for us that there’s lots of very talented people amongst you. Some of the stories have been very, very good indeed. Bah.

If I don’t win – :-( – well I’ll put my story online, but no matter how much you want to read it – and I know you do – please keep your fingers crossed until the announcement of the result! Ta very much!

Edit: 14th May – as read on the forums

Not long to wait now… We have shortlist. Ian and I need to go through it, then our choice needs approving by all the Big People who have to approve these things, and then we can make an announcement.


May 07, 2007

Mediterranean Union

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_Union

It would seem that M. Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France to be, has the vision of a Mediterranean Union, that would comprise Maghreb, Machrek, Turkey and some European states. He sees it as a sort of “replacement deal” for Turkey – which he doesn’t see as part of the EU, despite the long negociations that have been going on.
During the pre-second round debate, he stated that Turkey’s membership to the European Union would mark the death of a politic Europe, and advanced that Turkey was not geographically part of Europe. Whilst I am not much in favour of Turkey’s membership as of now, the reason for my position is that I think the 27-strong Union is not ready yet to get another member – I am not opposing Turkey’s membership in a certain future; I do not know enough on the country’s politics/economy to judge on the matter.
However, I know what view I have of Europe – today’s European Union is hardly more than a economic union, with the added advantages of free circulation of people and Erasmus. Its body has only fines as a means of pressure towards “rogue” members – it is definitely not a supernation or a political Europe. The Europe that I wish to see is a supernation, a political Europem with a strong executive body. I wish to see a Federal Republic of Europe. Now, whilst my view on this may not be shared (and is probably not) – a Mediterranean Union would be the death of this dream and of a political Europe:
How do you expect, if you want Europe to be a political union, to have half its member be part of another union; it is hard enough as it is to combine being a member of NATO and of the EU at the same time. So, M. Sarkozy, by allegedly wishing to save the political Europe, is undermining it.
I can’t wait to see what his proposed “mini-treaty” for Europe is… (oh boy England is growing on me, I’m already sarcastic!)


Dreamgirls

Movie image
Title:
Dreamgirls
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
_Dreamgirls_ is on tomorrow at the Student Cinema. I watched it last night – and the word that comes to mind is uneven.
Weirdly enough, it’s not even a matter of “the actors are good, but the photography is not, or the writing”. No. Every role there is in movie-production is uneven in this movie.
  1. Let’s start with the story – the movie opens on a concert, sort of the début of the Dreamgirls, a trio of singing girls; and it moves on following them to their final concert (how original!). In the middle of this comes the ransom of glory, and the evolution of relationships within the diva-becoming trio and with the manager (a flirtatious man…). Without giving away more of the “plot” – at one point the movie splits between two storylines, one concerning Effie, one concerning the other Dreamgirls. The latter is, well, poorly done – hackneyed if you wish. If you want to watch a movie about the consequences of power and business-music, watch Ray. If you want to see flirt between artists, and the consequences of drugs, watch Walk the line – both of which are excellent films. The only original aspect of this storyline is that it tackles the influence on music itself of business-led music.
    The Effie storyline, however, is far more touching – and well done. And at least you can follow the change in her personality. Mind you, it is quite a simple storyline, but it is also original as it focuses on the What happens after?
  2. Cast. Every performance was uneven, generally getting better towards the end of the movie. Beyonce was particularly appalling in her moments, but also very good at times. She was, in my opinion, a controversial casting choice, considering her own history within Destiny’s Child – which echoes a bit in the film. There is an exception to those uneven performances:
    Dreamgirls won the Oscar for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role”, for Jennifer Hudson as Effie. And it was deserved – her acting was simply fabulous all the way through, and she has a great voice. Only for her, it is a movie worth watching.
  3. Photography and directing. Well. Again, uneven. There are some bits which are overdone, some that feel just fine. What they got approximately right, though, is the changing of times. Well. Approximately: you can feel a scene is in the nineties/eighties/seventies/sixties but at times they chose a scene that was reminding of the wrong period… The editing cut, however, was wrong for the middle one hour of the film. I’ll come back to it in my conclusion.
  4. Music. Now when I watched it – in the beginning of the movie, I thought “what a fantastic music!” And it is true for most of the movie. Some songs are poor, though – but nothing quite as wrong as Beauty school drop-out from Grease. So yeah, if you can’t watch the film tomorrow, at least get by any (legal) means of your choosing, the soundtrack.

The main problem of this film, is that it doesn’t belong in the drama category but still tries. It is as though the director was undecided whether he wanted to make a documentary, a TV soap, a musical, or a movie. It feels like a documentary most of the time – but just lacks the narration. It feels like a soap at times, but this never lasts. And this is not just down to the director – the acting goes on accordingly, and so does the music (!)

Conclusion? Dreamgirls is a nice movie, worth watching – at least for the music and for Jennifer Hudson’s performance; but not a masterpiece. It helped me spend a not-too-bad evening last night (see previous entry) but not enough to keep me off drinking a bit afterwards.

Upcoming movies at WSC:
  • Apocalypto on thursday
  • The Last King of Scotland on friday 6.30 and 9.30
  • Rocky Balboa on sunday and tuesday
  • Epic Movie on thursday
  • The Perfume on friday 6.30 and 9.30

The future of France

Writing about web page http://www.lemonde.fr/web/portfolio/0,12-0@2-3208,31-906324@51-906165,0.html

Disclaimer: all this blog, including this entry, reflects my opinion. I appreciate that some don’t agree with me, and I certainly hope I got my facts right. Correct me where I’m wrong.

When I thought about this particular entry, I wanted to give it a title that said bugger, only stronger. I stopped short of using a certain four-letter word. So what triggered my announcement? Simply a figure: 53.06%.
That’s how much of the French population voted for the (very) right-wing candidate to presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy. Why is this bad? Let me introduce you to the person:
  • Recently, he rejected the heritage of May ‘68, and its participants – including social progress.
  • During the campaign, he defended the idea of a “gene” for homosexuality, paedophilia, etc. – saying some people are intrinsically bad. Even though, to my knowledge, he didn’t mention it, cleansing is not far away.
  • How will it happen? Kärcher – that is one word that will go down in history with him. On a visit in Parisian suburbs when he was the chief of police a couple of years ago, he declared he intented to clear off the “scum” with a “Kärcher”, designating by scum a part of the youth. This is believed to have led to the riots from 2005.
  • He believes in “chosen immigration”, and sees nothing wrong in arresting a grandfather who is an illegal immigrant (so far, nothing wrong) in front of his granddaughter’s bloody school
  • Under his rule as chief of police, the number of violent crimes has gone down a bit – but the violence rate up. Now I’m no expert, but if it’s not meddled with figures, then the violence must come from people who uphold the law. Or are supposed to.
  • He has taken a lot of ideas from the French BNP.
  • He is known for a quick temper.

Now, what is the future of France? Well look at the pictures on the link. That happened right after Sarkozy was elected. And you know the worse part? People knew it would happen – and lots of policemen were sent. Look at picture eight in particular. Last night, over a hundred cars burnt in Paris (source – france2).
So that is where France is going. Violence. And escalation. Sweepstake as to when the newly-elected president will decide to take “special powers”? Not that there’s much to win.
Sarkozy will not celebrate the end of WW2 tomorrow – he is going on a retreat to “inhabit” the post of President. Where? Oh, just in Corse – where another ambition-driven (I nearly wrote lunatic) ruler comes from – Napoléon.

Last night, for the first time in my life, I was ashamed to be French.


May 05, 2007

The Gatiss Experiment

Title:
Doctor Who
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Yes! Another Doctor Who review! This could well become a weekly habit… were it not for the Beebs and the Eurovision: no Doctor Who next week! I don’t know yet how I am going to cope… Careful for spoilers now!
Back to this week’s episode, The Lazarus Experiment – well after last week’s huge disappointment (see previous entry), I must say I was very pleased with tonight’s. We’re back to Good Who, for the following reasons:
  • A consistent plot in its mainframe, despite some minor issues (which I wouldn’t be able to name. The only thing I thought was – why does the Doctor have to lock the door, the monster doesn’t have hands to open it and will have to cut his way through anyway!)
  • Hints at the old series. I loved the reverse polarisation bit. Sooo Pertwee!
  • Nice pacing. I didn’t think they’d manage that, since the starting point of the story (the experiment itself) was quite big; so I thought the end would just be overstretched. Which it was not – intelligent script editing allowed to plant the seeds for the final scene.
  • It fits nicely within the entire new series, with Martha becoming a regular companion in a clever way (I loved the opening scene)
  • Talking about human nature. I loved that scene where the Doctor said it was within the human nature to die; and Lazarus answering it was within it to seek to avoid death. Can anyone see an ongoing theme in the series there?
  • The Doctor did not die in this episode! (yay! He’s not becoming Kenny)
  • Murray Gold at his best. Great music tonight!
However, it’s not all nice and clean. There is a couple of points that could have been bettered:
  • Stop bloody using the sonic screwdriver for anything. In this episode, it has fulfilled its original function (tampering with doors & locks), been used as a tracking device, and as a hacking system. Nice “function 54” line though :-)
  • Martha’s mother. Now we all had fears that the family would become a Tyler bis – which fortunately it is not. The characters that were kept that day were interesting; but the acting was not great on Martha’s mother’s side…
  • Gatiss’s (or Lazarus’) assistant was a tad too clichéd. Money-freak! Which made her role a bit hollow – and I don’t blame that on the actress.
  • Whatever happened to subtlety in Doctor Who??? What happened to the Bad Wolf ark? Stop hammering Mr. Saxon into our heads. Talking of whom, there’s a nice fanmade (I think) website here

Still. Overall an excellent story, brilliantly realised :-) Can’t wait till next week – oh bugger that’s true, the Beebs schedule is just wrong, erm, can’t wait till next bloody fortnight! I can say, I’m excited about the new trailer. Nice treat from the production team, available on the show’s website.


Lovely picture

On the way back from Leeds I took a couple of pictures I am actually proud of so here’s one:

More are maybe to come :)


May 04, 2007

Where reality gets stretched

Today was a perfect day. Really. It started off with three personal letters:
  • the replacement for my bus pass (which I had shamefully lost on the bus a week before)
  • a postcard
  • paperwork I need to establish a passport

Of these, only the latter was (half) expected so it was a good way to start the day already.
But it doesn’t stop there – I then (thanks to the bus pass) managed to get to Oxfam for opening time (otherwise I’d have walked and it would have taken me at least three times as much time); had a chat with friends, cashed up (oh I love doing that & being behind the till :-) ) and went off to my first lecture in ages.
Mind you, this one was not exactly interesting, but at least it gave me time to finish the translation of a song for Revelation – Au bout de mes rêves. I must say I am very happy with the result; however I will look into copyright issues before I put it online (I guess a translation would be fair use). Oh, and no, I don’t feel any shame for doing other stuff during a lecture, because the material we covered in two hours could easily have been covered in half an hour.
Then, well, I went quickly to Oxfam to help out a bit, when George just walked by (15 seconds before the time I had said I would leave to meet him in front of L3 at…) so we went together to the dump to get a trolley and to the Resources Room to get WSC Clothing. Oh yes, that’s one of the other good things from today – WSC clothing has arrived :-D (dressing gown included!!!)
Once this was done, I called France to hear some nice news about my home university; and went back to Oxfam… only to find the shop had done very well today! Looking into it with a yummy nice cuppa tea (oooh I looooove tea) I look at the breakdown of categories and see languages did over ten quid (as a comparison, I am happy when they do three), and noticed the books that were sold were Latin books! Totally unrealistic… But then, discussing with the manager how reality was stretched, I said “next thing you’ll tell me is that we sold some of [random category that has not done well recently]”... and he goes “funny you should mention that”. However, Biography was still at zero (“you can only go that far with meddling with reality”). Ten minutes later, someone comes in asking “have you got a biography section?”
I mean, how much more unrealistic does it get? Also today, I have found the perfect comic illustration for a good friend, found out that a bank statement could be used as proof of residence (thanks Homa), been to a very nice barbecue (thanks a lot Adair)...
... and bumped into more people than I ever did: at least 30 of them, including some I had not talked to in the past 4 months!
Oh, and I went to Globe Café, and it was nice :) – I also sort of DMed the early show of Babel.
In a nutshell, today was…

A lovely day :-)

(goes singing his favourite Rev song)


April 29, 2007

Evolution of Doctor Who

Title:
Doctor Who
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Right. Yesterday, Evolution of the Daleks was on BBC One. And it’s the first new Doctor Who – hang on, actually, it’s t he first Doctor Who! – I actually disliked. Whatever happened to the clever writing? It is almost as bad as the DJ’s character in Revelation of the Daleks! The bad thing is, it had so much potential, after a brilliant first part (Daleks in Manhattan aka Sec’s in the City), and it simply ruined it. (careful, spoilers may follow… though, I doubt you can actually have this episode any more spoilt than it already was!)
Where do I start? The minor things first (even though they are already quite bad) – how believable is the episode? I’ve read on the forums of Outpost Gallifrey good comments about how the DNA was mistreated all along (concerning this, the shape of Dalek DNA is quite funny!) and not even in a consistent way. He also pointed out the gamma ray supposed to hit New York suddenly, conveniently turned into lightning. As he said, it is still remotely acceptable to change real science; but if you do so, be bloody consistent! Even less believable, Martha’s defense plan: building up this metal construction to electrocute the pigmen. Fair enough, she may have been lucky and lightning strike at the exact right time, but how could she know that before undertaking the task (and wasting people’s strengths)? Also, I’m bloody tired of seeing the Doctor dead and – oh, no, hang on, he wasn’t dead! Wait for it, soon Martha’ll give him some meaningful mouth-to-mouth (fret RTD’s plans!)
Then there was what I resent most about the whole episode – the wasting of an excellent idea, that of the evolved Dalek having good feelings. Admittedly, the way he came to these is far from realistic (especially considering which human was chosen for the hybridation) – BUT once this mistake was made, what harm was there in exploring it for a bit longer? And make Sec’s plan succeed. And have a new deviant strain of Daleks who, still being somewhat ruthless conquerors, are humane? We could even make them meet pure Daleks (with the danger of running into absurd competition, cf. Resurrection of the Daleks) – SO MUCH POTENTIAL! Wasted. And how? By the Cult of Skaro not behaving in a Dalek way, plotting in secrecy against Sec. How un-Dalek-like! A better solution, if RTD had decided not to go with the good Dalek idea, would have been to make Sec double-cross the Doctor and make him help them take over the world. This would have had the advantage of showing a tormented David Tennant – and he’d be pretty good at it!!! Both solutions would have earned the episode its title, but here it was more of an evolutionary deadend! (talking of which, the BBC book Only human is one of the best new books…)
On more positive notes, the acting got a bit better as compared to last week’s (but still not up to Gridlock standards for the supporting cast); Martha’s relationship with the Doctor gets seen from a slightly different angle (good before a Modern Times Earth episode). So, good for that!
I’m not even mentioning the CGI from this episode – nothing can top Gridlock!

However, I can’t bring myself to give a low rating to a Doctor Who review, so I’ll complete this entry with quick mention of the best series start so far!
  • Smith & Jones – see previous entry, very good!
  • The Shakespeare code – I was a bit disappointed, but that’s because I had so big expectations! My main issue with this episode is that it is definitely a fantasy episode desperately trying to be Sci Fi – because that’s what Doctor Who is! But it is clever writing, I loved the quote bits, and (oooh spoiler!) Elisabeth in the end!
  • Gridlockawesome really. Only The Girl in the Fireplace is better, so far. And that’s because it’s in France (grins). No, seriously, good writing, editing, awesome music and CGI. My only disappointment here are the Face of Boe’s prophecy (too expectable) and the Macra (which were a tiny bit useless).
  • Daleks in Manhattan Now that’s what I call a Doctor Who episode! I’m usually not too fond of Dalek episodes, but this one clearly exceeds expectations. Interesting plot (but why pigs?), going back to educational stuff (Hooverville!), overall good sci-fi with potential. Cf. my rant about the second part…

Well, let’s hope next week’s The Lazarus experiment is better! Though I have my doubts, considering Martha’s family seems to be back.


April 27, 2007

Switch!

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since WiM! I must say I am missing it, even though getting back to Warwick Rev was good. Very good.
But – I hear some of you asking me – what is WiM? And what a strange capitalisation! Well, the weirdness does not stop there: WiM stands for Week in March. But if you can count, you’ll notice it was in April…
Right, now that you’re confused, I’ll try and be clearer about what WiM is. The idea is that all the choirs from the Revelation network join for one week somewhere in the UK. This year, it was Keele, last year Newmarket, there’s been Bangor (yes, in Wales!) Coventry and many others. But one week for what? Have a guess… We’re a choir; therefore we … sing! A lot. In view of a concert at the end of the week.
It is pure madness; since all, or most of us, do not know the songs beforehand; and therefore have an awful lot to do during what they call “rehearsals” (more than four hours a day!) – but YES it DID work and we had enough songs for the concert, and it was purely awesome! Ask the people who were at the concert :) In order for it to work, we had to split the choirs into the Solar half and the Lunar half, with 6 specific songs each, plus 4 joint songs.
But – aims and values the ENVIRONMENT is really important! So we didn’t just sing during the week; it was also the opportunity to meet people from different choirs, and create really nice friendships. So on top of the Solar/Lunar division, we had Bond Groups, designed for that purpose (they had all weird TV-related names – ours was Doctor WiM) with special activities every day: photo-caption challenges, formal dress creation (out of binbags) games with other bond groups etc. On top of that, we had Splinter Groups, which did more than singing for the concert (advertising, dance & drama, band, decoration, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some…).
And, one of the nicest ideas – that of the guardian angels. During that week, you secretly have to look after someone else; and someone looks after you – which translates in nice gifts, and lots of great stuff and fun.
Inconvenients of the week? Well, you might think that, sleeping in a church, you don’t have showers. And it’s true, it is an inconvenient – but services stations have very nice showers so the issue was more to find the time to get there! The other inconvenient, one might say, is that it is very tiring. I had been told, before that week “oh, you don’t want to go to WiM tired”, and had stupidly thought “meh – I can take it”. Big. Mistake. Oh, I could take WiM all right and be in some roughly acceptable shape on the saturday (concert day) BUT it took me over a week to recover after that. Thinking about it, I’m not sure I fully recovered!
The price? 48 quid for the week, and that included food! Hats off to the cooking team (Elliot, Aleks, Rowan) and lots of thanks for their help during WiM!

Of this week I’ll remember – well everyone – but more particularly Ty’s cowcar, Jo’s good mood, Karen Gibson’s TWANG, Simon’s Bible & poker, the peg, Elliot’s lateral thinking, Sam’s funny hat, the cold, ENVIRONMENT (thanks tp and Hannah by the way), tp’s dangerous driving, Tom’s frog, the Ceilidh (might have to write more about that), Joyce’s chilling out. And other things. And everyone, even though you may not be on the list.

Love & Burpees to everyone :-)