Friday, November 30, 2007

Satellite Nominations

Julie Christie, "Away From Her" (Lionsgate)
Angelina Jolie, "A Mighty Heart" (Paramount Vantage)
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie En Rose" (Picturehouse Entertainment)
Tilda Swinton, "Stephanie Daley" (Regent Releasing)
Keira Knightly, "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Laura Linney, "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)

Denzel Washington, "American Gangster" (Universal Pictures)
Josh Brolin, "No Country For Old Men" (Miramax Films)
Christian Bale, "Rescue Dawn" (MGM)
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)
Frank Langella, "Starting Out in the Evening"(Roadside Attractions)
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent Pictures)

Katherine Heigl, "Knocked Up" (Universal Pictures)
Amy Adams, "Enchanted" (Walt Disney Pictures)
Ellen Page, "Juno" (Fox Searchlight)
Emily Mortimer, "Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM)
Nicole Kidman, "Margot at the Wedding" (Paramount Vantage)
Cate Blanchett, "I’m Not There" (The Weinstein Company)

Richard Gere, "The Hoax" Miramax
Seth Rogen, "Knocked Up" (Universal Pictures)
Ben Kingsley You Kill Me Ifc Films
Ryan Gosling, "Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM)
Clive Owen, "Shoot ‘Em Up" (New Line Cinema)
Don Cheadle, "Talk to Me" (Focus Features)

Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Emmanuelle Seigner, "La Vie En Rose" (Picturehouse Entertainment)
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax Films)
Taraji P. Henson "Talk to Me" (Focus Features)
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster" (Universal Pictures)

Jeff Daniels, "The Lookout" (Miramax Films)
Brian Cox, "Zodiac" (Paramount Pictures)
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Ben Foster, "3:10 To Yuma" (Lionsgate)
Javier Bardem, "No Country For Old Men" (Miramax Films)
Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jessie James" (Warner Bros. Pictures)

"The Lookout" Miramax
"Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead" (ThinkFilm)
"Away From Her" (Lionsgate)
"Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)
"No Country For Old Men" (Miramax Films)
"3:10 To Yuma" (Lionsgate)

"Hairspray" (New Line Cinema)
"Juno"(Fox Searchlight)
"Shoot ‘Em Up" (New Line Cinema)
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM)
"Knocked Up" (Universal Pictures)

"Ten Canoes" Australia (Palm Pictures)
"Offside" Iran (Sony Pictures Classics)
"La Vie En Rose" France (Picturehouse Entertainment)
"Lust, Caution" China (Focus Features)
"4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days" Romania Ifc Films
"The Orphanage" Spain (Picturehouse Entertainment)

"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics)
"The Simpsons Movie" Twentieth Century Fox
"The Golden" Compass (New Line Cinema)
""Ratatouille"" (Buena Vista Pictures)
"300" Warner Brothers
"Beowulf" (Paramount Pictures)

"The King Of Kong" (Picturehouse Entertainment)
"The 11th Hour Warner" (Independent Pictures)
"Sicko" (Lionsgate)
"No End In Sight"(Magnolia Pictures)
"Darfur Now Warner" (Independent Pictures)
"Lake Of Fire" (ThinkFilm)

Ang Lee, "Lust, Caution" (Focus Features)
Olivier Dahan, "La Vie En Rose" (Picture House Entertainment)
David Cronenberg, "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, "No Country For Old Men" (Miramax Films)
Sidney Lumet, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (ThinkFilm)
Sarah Polley, "Away From Her" (Lionsgate)

Scott Frank, "The Lookout" (Miramax Films)
Diablo Cody, "Juno" (Fox Searchlight)
Kelly Masterson, "Before the Devil Knows You’Re Dead" (ThinkFilm)
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Nancy Oliver,"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM)
Steven Knight, "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

James Vanderbilt, "Zodiac" (Paramount Pictures)
Christopher Hampton "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, "No Country For Old Men" (Miramax Films)
David Benioff, "The Kite Runner" (Paramount Vantage)
Sarah Polley,"Away From Her" (Lionsgate)
Wang Hui Ling, James Schamus,"Lust, Caution" (Focus Features)

Dario Marianelli, "Atonement" (Focus Features)
James Newton Howard, "The Lookout" (Miramax Films)
Michael Giacchino, "Ratatouille" (Buena Vista Pictures)
Alberto Iglesias, "The Kite Runner" (Paramount Vantage)
Howard Shore, "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)
Nick Cave, "The Assassination of Jesse James" (Warner Bros. Pictures)

"Do You Feel Me"/Diane Warren, "American Gangster" (Universal Pictures)
"If You Want Me"/Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, "Once" (Fox Searchlight)
"Come So Far"/Marc Shaiman, "Hairspray" (New Line Cinema)
"Rise"/Eddie Vedder, "Into The Wild" (Paramount Vantage)
"Grace Is Gone"/Clint Eastwood & Carole Bayer Sager, "Grace Is Gone" (The Weinstein Company)
"Lyra"/Kate Bush, "The Golden Compass" (New Line Cinema)

Harris Savides, "Zodiac" (Paramount Pictures)
Robert Elswit, "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage)
Bruno Delbonnel, "Across The Universe" (Revolution Studios)
Janusz Kaminski, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax Films)
Roger Deakins, "The Assassination Of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
Henry Braham, "The Golden Compass" (New Line Cinema)

"Transformers" (Paramount Pictures)
"The Golden Compass" (New Line Cinema)
"300" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal Pictures)
"Enchanted" (Walt Disney Pictures)
"Beowulf" (Paramount Pictures)

Pietro Scalia, "American Gangster" (Universal Pictures)
Jill Savitt, "The Lookout" (Miramax)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, "No Country For Old Men" (Miramax)
Richard Marizy, "La Vie En Rose" (Picturehouse Entertainment)
Christopher Rouse, "The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal Pictures)
Ronald Sanders, "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

"The Golden Compass" (New Line Cinema)
"La Vie En Rose" (Picturehouse Entertainment)
"Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’S End" (Buena Vista Pictures)
"300" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal Pictures)
"I Am Legend" (Warner Bros. Pictures)

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal Pictures)
"The Assassination Of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
"Hairspray" (New Line Cinema)
"Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
"Amazing Grace" (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
"Across the Universe" (Revolution Studios)

Alexandra Byrne, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal Pictures)
Yvonne Blake, "Goya’s Ghosts" (Samuel Goldwyn Pictures)
Marit Allen, "La Vie En Rose" (Picturehouse Entertainment)
Rita Ryack, "Hairspray" (New Line Cinema)
Jenny Beavan, "Amazing Grace" (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Jacqueline Durran, "Antonement" (Focus Features)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gotham Film Awards

More joy for Ellen Page...

Best Feature

Great World of Sound
I’m Not There
* Into the Wild
Margot at the Wedding
The Namesake

Best Documentary

The Devil Came on Horseback
Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains
My Kid Could Paint That
* Sicko
Taxi to the Dark Side

Best Ensemble Cast

TIE* Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
The Last Winter
Margot at the Wedding
The Savages
TIE* Talk to Me

Breakthrough Director

Lee Isaac Chung for Munyurangabo
Stephane Gauger for Owl and the Sparrow
Julia Loktev for Day Night Day Night
David Von Ancken for Seraphim Falls
* Craig Zobel for Great World of Sound

Breakthrough Actor

Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild
Kene Holliday in Great World of Sound
* Ellen Page in Juno
Jess Weixler in Teeth
Luisa Williams in Day Night Day Night

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You

August the First
* Frownland
Loren Cass
Mississippi Chicken
Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eastern Promises (2007)

Eastern Promises
Directed by David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Grade: C

Not one to shy away from difficult subjects, David Cronenberg's latest offering, Eastern Promises, is the sinister and ambitious story of midwife Anna (Naomi Watts). When a teenage Russian girl dies during childbirth Anna takes the girl's diary for her Russian Uncle to translate. However, the information that she learns from this, and her quest for answers about the location of the baby's rightful family, propel her into the dangerous world of London's Russian mafia. In particular, the crime family headed by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his son Kirill (Vincent Cassel), to whom Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) is a 'driver'.

As an examination of the duality of man, Eastern Promises bears similarities to Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987), in that it focuses particularly on human aggression. This duality is best embodied in the film by the dark and dangerous Nikolai, captured through the terrific, menacing Mortensen. His unflinching placidity is both unsettling as defence, and lucid as potential threat -- the perfect poker face -- hinting at a clinical, fearsome edge. It is he that Anna clashes with on several occasions, but who has an underlying sensitivity to her plight, and the knowledge that she is completely out of her depth. Most interestingly, Nikolai is the element that holds everyone in the film together -- as father, mother, mentor and husband to the two true 'children' of the film, Anna (her initial theft of the diary, refusal to allow anyone in her family to read it, and rashness in showing it to Semyon) and the volatile Kirill (his pettiness, thirst for independence from his father, and struggle with sexuality).

The film differentiates him from the other criminals by giving him a sense of morality, demonstrated by his sparing of Anna's Uncle, but then chooses to paint him as a darker prospect. As the film progresses he seems to become more immersed and satisfied in the brutality of his environment, and more curious about ambition and power. Most unfathomably though, screenwriter Stephen Knight decides to introduce a different dimension and purpose to the character of Nikolai towards the end of the film which a) doesn't develop b) doesn't contribute to anything that already has developed, and c) makes you question the genuineness of the ninety minutes that precede it.

Anna's links to Russia and motherhood feel suspiciously orchestrated, and in this way Eastern Promises is far more guilty of the faults that last year's Breaking and Entering was unfairly maligned for. The introduction of a miscarriage back story feels deliberately confrontational, and although seems to adhere to the harsh and direct mood of the film, sparks severe inconsistencies within the character of Anna. The film can't seem to make up its mind as to whether Anna is a concerned citizen or an irrational 'mother', or, more worryingly, wants to pass her off as both. The uncertainty of her motives and their seeming opposition to one another, often makes her actions in the film feel senseless; her status as the energetic, productive presence of the film ineffectual.

Much of Eastern Promises is admittedly very intriguing but ultimately feels artificial. Because Knight plagues its characters with every complex under the sun, it's difficult to fully understand or relate to their actions. He is simply too suggestive, the biblical undertones towards the end of the film indicative of the way he constantly bands more ideas around than he knows what to do with. If Eastern Promises could say more about the culture it's representing then fair enough, but it can't, and what it does say really doesn't amount to much.

Here We Go: Independent Spirit Nominations

So the Independent Spirit Awards have kicked off the Awards Season (Yay!!!!) by throwing up at a nominees list that's pretty damn interesting. Here it is, with reaction:

Best Feature

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"I'm Not There"
"A Mighty Heart"
"Paranoid Park"

I am so pleased to see A Mighty Heart nominated here. I'm Not There will be the favourite, having most nominations, but Juno's inclusion at the expense of The Savages would suggest it's going to be the stronger film of the two. Long shot for a BP nom though, one would think.

Best Director

Todd Haynes, "I'm Not There"
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"
Jason Reitman, "Juno"
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Gus Van Sant, "Paranoid Park"

I suspect none of these will be first on the Oscar ballot but Haynes will be favourite, and his picture could sweep the board here. Even though it's a biopic it's completely unconventional and so a BP nom is a major doubt. But this helps. I think the lone director spot is more likely.

Best Screenplay

Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"
Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner, "Starting Out in the Evening"
Adrienne Shelly, "Waitress"
Mike White, "Year of the Dog"

I'm appalled, but not surprised, to see Waitress included. Major love for Diving Bell but not in the category you'd expect -- as we'll see further down.

Best First Screenplay

Jeffrey Blitz, "Rocket Science"
Zoe Cassavetes, "Broken English"
Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Kelly Masterson, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"
John Orloff, "A Mighty Heart"

Juno, Devil and Heart are all still in contention for screenplay nominations. But Juno is strongest across the board, and Diablo Cody -- what a great name!

Best Female Lead

Angelina Jolie, "A Mighty Heart"
Sienna Miller, "Interview"
Ellen Page, "Juno"
Parker Posey, "Broken English"
Tang Wei, "Lust, Caution"

Sienna Miller! Quite surprising. Nobody saw the film though so I expect this is as far as she goes. Same for Posey, who I'm surprised made it ahead of Keri Russell, whose snub here doesn't do her any favours. I must say I'm pleased.... Tang Wei is Lust, Caution's only nominee and may still have a chance at Globe and SAG. Cotillard being there does not help her though. I'm thrilled for Jolie, who definitely won't have a hard time getting in at the Globes, and who knows, could even win it! Page is probably stronger though, and I think the favourite for this. They just loooooved Juno.

Best Male Lead

Pedro Castaneda, "August Evening"
Don Cheadle, "Talk to Me"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Savages"
Frank Langella, "Starting Out in the Evening"
Tony Leung, "Lust, Caution"

Major major surprise that they left out Amalric after Diving Bell was nominated for Pic, Dir, and Screenplay. And who for? Langella and Castaneda have hardly been talked about, and Cheadle's film came out ages ago. Still, it's lovely to see Leung there. Hoffman should walk this.

Best Supporting Female

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Anna Kendrick, "Rocket Science"
Jennifer Jason Leigh, "Margot at the Wedding"
Tamara Podemski, "Four Sheets to the Wind"
Marisa Tomei, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"

Talk of Blanchett campaigning lead looks like it's false, but if they were thinking about it then this pretty much signals that awards bodies are not going to lie down and accept it. I've no doubt she'll win this, as she will win if the performance goes supporting at the Oscars, but the studio need to be careful.

Best Supporting Male

Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Talk to Me"
Marcus Carl Franklin, "I'm Not There"
Kene Holliday, "Great World of Sound"
Irrfan Khan, "The Namesake"
Steve Zahn, "Rescue Dawn"

Meh. Ejiofor has an outside shot at Oscar inclusion.

Best Foreign Film

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," Romania
"The Band's Visit," Israel
"Lady Chatterley," France
"Once," Ireland
"Persepolis," France

It's a shame Once had no American money in it. It could have done with some nominations here. I haven't seen any of these but the response from critics I like has been impressive.

Here's to the start of Award Season!! :-)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Current Obsessions

The Tennessee Williams / Elizabeth Taylor combo. How can one man write so much insightful stuff, and how can one woman interpret this stuff so fabulously? I saw Suddenly Last Summer the other day and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof not long ago. I'd give Taylor both Oscars and remove her Butterfield one. But I guess we'd all like to re-write much of Oscars' history.

This Mortal Coil's 1984 album It'll End In Tears, which I recently purchased after hearing just one song off of it,
Song to the Siren. I have not been disappointed with the rest -- especially the beautiful 'Holocaust'.

Shia LaBeouf, whose arrest for "trespassing" on Bonfire Night makes him even more appealing. Who can resist a badboy, right? Seriously though, I really don't tend to go for a babyface, but he's JUST SO scrumptious! And a mega promising actor -- see my latest lavish of praise for him here

Fergie's new song Clumsy . I hated her last song 'Big Girls Don't Cry' but this is a completely different sound. I can see now why her album has mixed reviews. Judging by the singles she's released it seems less of a consistent, complete sounding album than a few different (but admittedly good) songs.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Live-Blogging: Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor

9.40pm: They've both performed again and Hope were much much better this time. Full of personality. So here's the result.... First to answer is Louis. He sends home FutureProof. Good lad. Sharon next. She chooses FutureProof too! I'm pleasantly surprised. Danni to go now. She chooses Hope. I thought she would. She fancies a couple of them. Simon's turn. He sends home the boys. Good call.

9.30pm: OK. It's results time. Louis looks nervous. So does Simon. I'm not sure why.... First through is Alisha. Boooo! Leon is also through. People think he's cute. Beverley as well. Meh. YAYYYYY! Rhydian is through! Of course :-P. Niki as well, which I like, but none of the groups are through so far, which is worrying. Now they are! Same Difference announced as through. Great stuff. Final act through is.... Andy! Ridiculous. FutureProof and Hope are the bottom two. What are the public thinking? I think Simon's loyalties lie with Hope but I think it could be 2-2 with Louis also voting for the girls (he can't help it). They're performing again...

9.15pm: Boyz II Men are about to perform, which I find quite perplexing since they're a) so 90's, and b) not that well-known in this country anyway. This is clearly one of Simon's American imports.

8.17pm: A round-up of my scores:

Rhydian - 9/10
Hope - 8/10
Same Difference - 8/10
FutureProof - 7/10
Niki - 7/10
Beverley - 6/10
Leon - 6/10
Alisha - 5/10
Andy - 4/10

See you for the results show at 9.10pm! XX

8.15pm: Another teary clip about Beverley providing for her family. Talk of dreams. Excuse me while I throw up. She's singing 'Feeling Good'. Tough song. Lots of attitude and the vocals are quite good but I feel like I've seen this a million times before. She isn't special. 6/10. The judges love her. Louis says it's the best performance of the night. I don't know what they're talking about. If that song doesn't make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up then it can't be outstanding. Oh well. Que sera sera.

8.05pm: Andy's turn. Boring song that I don't recognise. 'I Need Your Love'? He's wearing white and yet the stage props look gothic. Very odd. His vocals are OK but get drowned out by the backing on the loud parts of the song. I can't help but think he's a total sap. Dull. Dull. Dull. Dull. Dull. 4/10. The judges are sympathetic but criticise him. Simon says he doesn't see him as a recording artist. I agree. Danni is obviously trying to get the teen girl vote, mentioning his abs and now his female fanbase. Lame.

7.55pm: Now it's Hope. I'm sick of everyone crying on the clips. Will they not learn from Emily? They're singing Hanky Panky by Madonna. I haven't heard this in ages! Full of character and attitude. Vocals are decent and they're dressed great. 8/10. Louis says there's a gap for them in the charts, which I agree with, although Girls Aloud are doing enough for several girl bands at the moment. Sharon didn't like the song because she's a monster. Danni liked them but says the vocals aren't the best. Simon wants to invidualise them because they're his act. He's going overboard but they were good.. and original, which is the most important thing.

7.45pm: Alisha is singing Valerie (The Ronson/Winehouse version). She's sassy but the vocals are a bit ragged and flat. I almost feel like she has enunciation problems. I feel like everyone else in the competition could sing it better. She's workin it though for sure. 6/10. Unbelievably the judges love her. I think it could mainly be pity since she's Sharon's last surviving girl. I could see the fight but I thought it was kinda detremental to the whole performance.

7.40pm: Same Difference are singing S Club 7's Reach with a big band. Classic! I can see them entertaining kids in the future. They'd be great on Saturday morning TV. It's vocally sound, and super super fun. Brings me back to my childhood. Cuteness personified. 8/10. Louis says they have a career in panto. Everyone else really likes them. I'd be shocked if they were in the bottom two.

7.25pm: Rhydian does Pink's 'Get the Party Started'. I'd be lying if I said I thought it fully worked, but his vocals have such a searing majesty about them. He can do anything. I love love love love love love LOVE him. The last note is gold. 9/10. Louis didn't like the song. Everyone loved the voice. Sharon is bitter about his success. I don't like her.

7.17pm: Niki does 'All That Jazz'. It's good but there's not enough sex in there for me. Too tame. I like her but she didn't give enough. 7/10. The judges like her except Simon who calls it cabaret. The crowd don't like it, and Niki acts like she doesn't care about his opinion which clearly ticked him off. I think he's partly right. Rhydian next!!

7.11pm: It's the break and I've cracked open a bottle of Magners. It's never too early, let's be honest. It's an ad break on ITV so I'll take this opportunity to post my scores for the dancing in order of Best to Worst. Not really any awful ones this week, but at the same time not much inspiration. Here goes:

Gethin & Camilla - 9/10
Alesha & Matthew - 9/10
Dominic & Lilia - 8/10
Penny & Ian - 8/10
Kate & Anton - 7/10
Kelly & Brendan - 7/10 (disappointing!)
Letitia & Darren - 7/10
Matt & Flavia - 6/10
Kenny & Ola - 6/10
John & Nicole - 6/10

7.10pm: Penny and Ian are last to dance. They are so tall yet have so much grace!! It's the most Hollywood of the night. Didn't love it but very very classy. 8/10. They get 35, second highest of the night, and that's the end of the performances. My favourite was Gethin!

7.05pm: Matt gets good reviews. I don't know his score because FutureProof are up now on X Factor. They're singing'Can't Take My Eyes off of You', but not as well as Heath Ledger!! It's dated, and it's a solo song, but they're suave and sing it well. 7/10

7.00pm: Leon is not great. Very cabaret, and he has little individuality 6/10. Matt Di Angelo is doing the paso. It's a bit too intricate for me. I'm longing for any hip action at all, frankly. 6/10. Leon gets good reviews from the judges. Meh

6.55pm: Leon is up first. Bless him. He's so genuine but I'm not his biggest fan up until now. Kate gets 26 in Strictly. Well done honey.

6.55pm: She actually isn't awful, but I do feel she's the dancing equivalent of Orlando Bloom. Likeable but decidedly wooden in places. Someone needs to cut her a break. 7/10

6.50pm: From now on Strictly will be purple, X Factor will be red. Dominic gets 25 and is pissed off. I'm not surprised. He deserved better. Oh god. Kate Garraway is next. I'm flicking to X Factor.

6.45pm: Dominic and Lilia's paso doble definitely feels latin. I love the music. I feel transported to another country. Really good. 8/10. X Factor is starting.

6.40pm: Alesha gets 36, including a 9 from Craig. She clearly was very surprised. The foxtrots have been way better tonight, so let's hope Dominic and Lilia's paso doble improves on the others.

6.35pm: Kenny gets 21 and could be in trouble, although the kilt will go well with Scotland, which is his probable main fanbase. Alesha and Matthew are on. Alesha looks so pretty. Their foxtrot was elegant and looked faultless to me. 9/10

6.30pm: Gethin also gets 31. Kenny is wearing a kilt for his paso doble. Hot! Got a flash of cheek too. Haha. It wasn't great. 6/10.

6.25pm: Letitia gets 31, which I think is a bit generous. Gethin and Camilla's foxtrot was gorgeous. He has so much charm. 9/10

6.20pm: Letitia and Darren are interesting. I feel like I'm watching a musical. Plenty of drama. I can't say her dancing has particularly improved though. 7/10

6.15pm: John gets 24, including a 4 from Craig which was a bit cruel. Letitia Dean is next.

6.10pm: I like John and he did alright with the foxtrot, but it was very dull and uninspiring. 6/10

6.05pm: Kelly gets 28, which matches my score, even though I felt they were a bit harsh on her. John Barnes is next.

6.00pm: Kelly and Brendan are electric although she seems a little more ragged than usual. More style than substance but I liked it. 7/10

5.55pm: The show starts in a typically wonderful humour. Bruce is on top form :) This is easy until I have to flick over to X Factor at 6.45. Then I'll be frantic.

97. Lifeboat (1944)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Talullah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Canada Lee, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn

When several survivors of a battle between a ship and a German U-boat board a lifeboat, they have to work together to make it to safety. Chief among these survivors is Connie Porter, played by the incredible Talullah Bankhead (and by incredible I mean, 1944: Ingrid Bergman, Barbara Stanwyck, eat your heart out). Connie's neutrality amidst a fervent sense of warfare (she is an English journalist, but can speak German and appears to abide by a policy of self-determination not dissimilar to right-wing German atittude at the time) acts as the mediator in a group pulling itself apart.

Lifeboat is itself an examination of how politics can manifest itself in a situation that, admittedly takes place in a political environment, but is essentially a battle between life and death. The dynamic of the group is believably and tangibly fragile, the pressure of their plight pushing each survivor to the darkest boundaries of their character, political or otherwise. Above all, it may be seen as a piece of social commentary; a metaphor for the casualties of war being 'all in the same boat'. It's rare that a film with such a promising concept fully lives up to it, but Lifeboat does just this. It's compelling from beginning to end.

Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting

I haven't pitched in much about the annual Saturday talent show battle between the fun and classy Strictly Come Dancing, and the tacky but nevertheless entertaining The X Factor this year. Firstly, I wanna say how fucking annoying it is that they have to compete with each other over ratings -- my fingers hurt from constantly flicking between the two. I find this particularly difficult to understand given that Strictly has proven to be the more popular of the two. ITV are much more geared towards competition, and so it seems odd that they are doing themselves a grave disservice in pursuing a battle with BBC. Although, there's a difference of an hour between the start of each programme tonight, so they may be finally starting to take the hint.

So.. I suddenly feel obliged to throw in my two cents, given the scandalous (and admittedly juicy) events of the past week. I'll start with The X Factor, which is a shamelessly commercial and manipulative venture that, let's face it, represents ITV's approach to programming very well. Having said that my curiosity and general inability to ignore music reality shows means I'm already hooked -- especially for my looovely Rhydian (but I'll get onto that later).

So onto the scandal. It turns out that Emily, a contestant who constantly weeped on camera about nearly dying (she had organ failure and her heart stopped beating for a couple of seconds, or something?) is quite up for a good ol' scrap. There is video coverage of her attacking a girl in the ever-growing aspect of youth culture deemed 'happy slapping' (which basically means bullying on camera). Her parents were so incensed that they withdrew her from the competition (nothing to do with the producers I'm sure). All laughing aside, I think it's a fairly grounding situation for the show that I sincerely hope leads them to evaluate the extent to which they build their contestants up as saints -- whether they be single parents, grief-stricken relatives, or any other alleged victim of which there are plenty NOT on television.

All this makes the layout of eliminations throughout the series uncertain but apparently there will still be one tonight. I'll post my verdicts on the performers after tonight's show, and of course reactions to results, which have tended to be more comprehensible on Simon Cowell's show than they are on rival show Strictly Come Dancing.

Strictly's results storm last week, which ended in presenter Gabby Logan being eliminated from the show, despite coming in the top half of scoring has provoked a lot of response. Even more perplexing is that the other couple in the bottom two (Penny Lancaster-Stewart and her partner Ian) had more points than Gabby and her partner. It makes you wonder if this is a dancing competition or a popularity contest. Kate Garraway, who stuck her oar in midweek with a defence of the public, has been the main winner from this, coming bottom of the scoring in the last two weeks but not in the bottom two after the audience had their say. Still, this surely can't go on for much longer. The hopeless Garraway is hardly the most famous of the celebrities taking part.

Again, I'll be giving my opinions on all the dances (not that I'm an expert on dancing or anything) later tonight. Needless to say my favourite is the model-cum-actress (I say 'actress' loosely) and one of my "I so would if I was even vaguely attracted to girls" girls, the gorgeous Kelly Brook.

Anyway, that's enough from me. Enjoy the saturday night's entertainment ... and remember. Keeeeeep dancing!

Friday, November 02, 2007


The divine Madonna doing what she does best. This is one of my favourite of her songs.