Monday, May 22, 2006

The Summer Starts Now

It may have poured down for the entire weekend but who the hell cares? We can now officially call it Summer with the start of the seventh series of Big Brother last Thursday.

Excluding series 4, which was a complete bore, historically BB has been gloriously entertaining, with both brilliant and detestable characters in plentiful supply. This year is no different. A brief summary of my thoughts at this early stage:

Age: 27
Very loud and bubbly, which I like, and seems very down to earth. The fact that she smokes like a chimney would get on my nerves, but she's definitely one of my favourites.

Age: 24
Beyond brilliant. He has taurettes which I find really refreshing, and is a rock n' roll singer. Has there been a more inspired contestant? Prospect of a romance between him and Lisa, which would be sensational. Love him.

Age: 26
Entrepreneur. Seems very controlling, and blatantly thinks he can have any woman he pleases. His self-assurance is completely detestable, though he's rather nice to look at.

Age: 24
Went in dressed as a playboy bunny which suggests she's both cheap and shallow. Funny, but a petulant childish princess.

Age: 18
Bless him. He seems so innocent and misguided. Looks like a lost puppy in the house, but I suspect his neutrality will help him last a while. Will need to come out of his shell to become a contender though.

Age: 38
Very strange, and seems to make mountains out of molehills. A thing I really do not like. Doesn't smile. Cold. Why is she in there?

Age: 37
Oh my god, where to start? Incredibly annoying. Represents the gay community shamefully. But a complete psycho, and we need those to make things interesting. Providing he doesn't voluntarily leave he will be there another ten days. We'll see.

Age: 20
Seems pleasant but slightly stuck-up. I've been around many people like her, and I'm not sure why she's been put in, aside from the obvious romantic pairing that happens every year.

Age: 19
Probably the guy that Grace has been put in to court. Posh tory boy who's mingled with Prince Harry and is related to the Duke of something or other. Politically, I despise him. Personally, I'm rather nonplussed so far.

Age: 35
Spent so much on plastic surgery which I don't particularly mind. Seems rather normal - well as normal as can be given the circumstances. She could begin to grate on me though.

Age: 22
Gorgeous. A male chauvinist pig though, and seems content sitting back and observing for the time being. Immediate impression I get is that he's sly and sneaky, probably what they call, in big brother terms, a 'drifter'.

Age: 23
Similar to Mikey. They'd go together well actually.

Age: 33
Seductive gay guy kind of becoming a father role in the house. Likeable and fun but a bit controlling. He's OK.

Age: 19
Well I don't think I've heard her utter a word yet. That'll be all.

Loving it so far though. Long live BB!

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Oh My God the time is upon us! The final of the Eurovision Song Contest starts in 1 hour! One of the greatest shows on earth -- and possibly the sole reason I'm ever proud to be European. Good Luck to Great Britain's Daz Sampson and his band of schoolgirls!

My Tip:
My Fave: FYR Macedonia
My Fact of Remembrance: Greece's performer Ana Vissi is 49 years old. Unbelievable.

Wherever you are celebrating with Euro Parties, enjoy. Oh and don't forget to get hammered!

Monday, May 15, 2006


This year's BAFTA's took place last week, and in truth, I was pretty much dismayed at their boring, narrow-minded choices. Of course, British television is hardly at its peak at the moment, but nevertheless, there certainly is much more to reward than you'd think there was judging by the decisions of the British Academy. As if the Keira snub didn't piss me off enough.

So in a rather infuriated fashion, I reacted by compiling my own awards for the last year of television. To be honest I can't help myself. I've included all television shows broadcast on British screens, not just the home-grown stuff. Here are my choices:

TV Series – Drama

Bad Girls
Coronation Street

Eastenders is really a filler. It has and will see much better era's. ER continues to be as exhilarating as Coronation Street is enlightening. The seemingly never-ending Lost may tease to the point of torture, but is just so god damn addictive. But it's Bad Girls, even despite not being the best series of its run, that was really the highlight of the year for me. Think an hour of Cell Block Tango every week. Bliss.

TV Series – Comedy

The Catherine Tate Show
Desperate Housewives
Little Britain

While Little Britain continues to entertain with its funny sketches, Catherine Tate mesmerises even more with her stark-raving hilarious one-woman assault. Ricky Gervais was busy proving that The Office was not a one-off success and that he is in fact a genius. Still, comic genius was also evident in the massive worldwide success, Desperate Housewives, which, while a lovely little satire, really coasts on the performances of its four main stars. However, no programme this year made me laugh more than the perfectly named 'Shameless', which satirises an entirely different type of desperation.

Actor – Drama

Jack Ellis – Bad Girls
Chris Fountain – Hollyoaks
Matthew Fox – Lost
Dominic Monaghan – Lost
Bill Ward – Coronation Street

My two favourite performances in this line-up are villains, oddly enough. Bill Ward's psychological ego-driven Charlie, who continues to manipulate, yet find a way to be so dangerously attractive (tell me I'm not the only one that feels this way) and Jack Ellis' detestable creation Jim Fenner, whose plain evil drives me to pure hatred. None moreso than in his final series. Yes people, he's gone. May the bastard rot in hell. Quite a dishy category generally, excluding my winner of course :P

Actress – Drama

Danielle Brent – Bad Girls
Kate Ford – Coronation Street
Zoe Lucker – Footballers’ Wives
Maura Tierney – ER
Lacey Turner – Eastenders

What a bloody brilliant category. It was at this point that I really discovered I LOVE television. Brent, Ford, and Lucker are complete bitches, but all in fairly different ways. They all implant their own ways of making you hate them in any case. Tierney is my favourite part of ER, and I'm including the entire length of its run here. She makes her character so much more human and relatable than any other in the programme. It's surprising then that I find myself falling for Lacey Turner's strong, feisty tearaway Stacey Slater. She is solely responsible for reviving the programme through her 'Slater' appeal. The show revolves around that family, and her grounded recognisable presence is indicative of what Eastenders is supposed to be about. Brilliant.

Actor – Comedy

Ricky Gervais – Extras
Jody Latham - Shameless
Matt Lucas – Little Britain
David Threlfall – Shameless
David Wailliams – Little Britain

David Threlfall, playing a character essentially used as a figure of fun, steals the show in Shameless, despite sometimes not appearing for a single episode. Latham really steers the show with his stupidly brilliant naivety, his coming-of-age through the series' near completion. The team of Lucas and Wailliams each contribute something different to Little Britain, remaining fairly equally hilarious. Gervais improvises much of his six episodes, even though he's often outshone.

Actress – Comedy

Marcia Cross – Desperate Housewives
Felicity Huffman – Desperate Housewives
Ashley Jensen – Extras
Eva Longoria – Desperate Housewives
Catherine Tate – The Catherine Tate Show

Brilliant, brilliant category. Catherine Tate wades through her sketches with an inspired familiarity, bringing to life characters that are felt and acknowledged in a way that many other comedians haven't. Jensen really steals the Extra's show, ad-libbing with a freshness that defines British humour. The housewives (sans Terri, who I sadly had to leave out) really flesh out quite archetypal roles. None moreso than the house-proud Bree Van De Camp, played by Marcia Cross. Cross has a gift of conveying dismay, anguish, satisfaction through her essentially porcelain complexion.

Supporting Actor – TV Series

James Alexandrou - Eastenders
Mekhi Phifer - ER
Doug Savant – Desperate Housewives
John Savident – Coronation Street
Shane West - ER

West and Phifer, while their characters remain a little too familiar, give them an added punch. Huffman overshadows Savant but don't be fooled - he plays his part very well. Alexandrou is close to perfect as the strong, stubborn young husband in Eastenders, and Savident is utterly hilarious is Coronation Street, and when called upon for dramatic acting gladly turns it up a notch.

Supporting Actress – TV Series

Kacey Ainsworth - Eastenders
June Brown - Eastenders
Linda Cardellini - ER
Maggie O’Neill – Shameless
Wendi Peters - Coronation Street

Wendi Peters' Cilla is one of the brightest spots of the Street. Peters has that common as muck attitude that many working class women have. Ainsworth, whose character has been victimised throughout her stay, deserves credit, in the sense that you never doubt her spiralling plight for a second. Brown is an icon that continues to be the programme's MVP. Cardellini is convincing as a young mother. Yet, O'Neill's mentally trodden Sheila, in Shameless, is the character I find I warm to most, even though it's perhaps the last acknowldgeable of the five. O'Neill's timid, mousy exterior is laugh-out-loud funny throughout, giving Shameless another asset. Frank and Sheila forever.


Ant & Dec – I’m a Celebrity…
Noel Edmonds – Deal or No Deal
Bruce Forsyth – Strictly Come Dancing
Davina McCall – Big Brother
Paul O’Grady – The Paul O’Grady Show

Chat Show

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
The Kumars at Number 42
The Paul O’Grady Show
Richard & Judy

Quiz Show

Deal or No Deal
University Challenge
The Vault
The Weakest Link
Who wants to be a Millionaire?

Reality Show

Big Brother
Celebrity Big Brother
The Games
I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here
Strictly Come Dancing

Factual Show

Loose Women
Question Time
Ready Steady Cook
What Not to Wear

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Oscar In Retrospect [aka The Virtually Inseperable]: Actress in a Leading Role 1950

Anne, Bette, Gloria, Judy - This particular jaunt through the Oscar archives concerns the actresses of 1950.

Before I go on however, I Firstly must concede to not having seen the fifth nominee, Eleanor Parker in Caged. I really don't know long it will be until I do see this film, given my online rental service doesn't have it (damn them). Nevertheless, the category already has enough talking points, so I'll gladly soldier on sans Parker.

Of the films mentioned here, All About Eve was the film I first saw, quite a while ago, and was later astonished to find the film's co-lead, Bette Davis did not win the Oscar (I'll get onto her later). So in a bid to at least try to understand this seemingly crazy decision, I ventured into seeing the 2 other nominees I was able to.

One of these, three-time Oscar nominee Gloria Swanson plays the ageing silent film star Norma Desmond, in Billy Wilder's noir classic, Sunset Boulevard. Norma believes she is still as famous as she once was, and so manipulates a young screenwriter into writing her a comeback role. Swanson is deliciously arrogant and painfully blinded by time, giving her a false perception of herself and the industry she so longs to get back to. It makes for a very dramatic final act, but Swanson has you hooked all the way.

In terms of Oscar races today, Swanson was surely the favourite to take home the prize, given her two critic awards, NBR prize, and win in the Globe (Drama) category. Clearly precursors didn't mean so much in those days, as Judy Holliday was the one that took home the coveted prize.

Holliday, an actress credited in just 10 films throughout her short career (she died of cancer at the age of 43), stars in Born Yesterday, a romantic comedy about a corrupt businessman and his wife's (Holliday) relationship with her etiquette tutor, played by William Holden. Holliday, perhaps somewhat typecast in her career, plays her dumb blonde trophy wife role with perfection. Her annoyingly brash New York accent pitched to perfection, her comic timing impeccable, Holliday is laugh-out-loud funny throughout, conveying her characters subtle realisation about what she wants from life with shimmering aplomb.

The fact that Davis didn't win the statuette then is now a much easier fact to acknowledge. Davis, regarded by many as the greatest ever, plays the now famous role of Margo Channing, whose presence as an established stage actress is threatened by her understudy, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter).

Co-lead and fellow nominee Anne Baxter plays the part of Eve, the girl with massive aspiration, and an adoration of idol Channing underplays the part a little, but nevertheless convinces. Her character is less of a bitch (Davis is pretty full on in that department) and more of a victim, at least of her own desperation. Baxter admirably sticks to the role she's given. After all, it's always the quiet ones, right? Davis typically is not so restrained. With the freedom to vent and vent some more, she explodes, sometimes with a tirade of verbal abuse, sometimes with a silent stare. If looks could kill, Davis would be locked up within ten minutes of this film. Darting from reel to reel with effortless glances, Davis knows that her most lethal weapon is her eyes, and duly stares out anyone in her way with raw, burning hatred. Sublime.

1950 Actress Ranking:
1. Bette Davis (All About Eve)
2. Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday)
3. Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard)
4. Anne Baxter (All About Eve)

Ok I'm done. Off to see what 1989's collection of female leads have to offer. See ya!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Best Of Bjork

Because I'm bored and love to list things I'll give you my Top 10 Bjork Tracks. It changes by the second but nevertheless:

10. Alarm Call
From the album 'Homogenic'
The title says it all. Beautiful but relentless.

9. It's Oh So Quiet
From the album 'Post'
Proof that genius and madness are closely linked.

8. Immature
From the album 'Homogenic'
A piercing aching of regret.

7. 99 Red Balloons
Single only
Vibrant. Fun. Unique. Everything you look for in a cover.

6. I've Seen It All
From the album 'Selma Songs'
Finely integrates melody with debate.

5. Possibly Maybe
From the album 'Post'
Powerful honesty within subtle composition.

4. Human Behaviour
From the album 'Debut'
Details her frustrations with a gorgeous child-like simplicity.

3. Play Dead
From the album 'Debut'
An energetic release of self-loathing.

2. There's More To Life Than This
From the album 'Debut'
Demonstrative, playful and funky dance track.

1. Bachelorette
From the album 'Homogenic'
Dramatic. Poetic. An almighty crescendo. Perfect.