Thursday, 14 July 2011

Preview Review: Pixar directors doing action filums.

Hello blog!

Sometimes I think I like watching film trailers more than I like watching films themselves. It's fairly rare to find a good trailer. One that actually makes you want to see a film without giving away everything that happens. Luckily, most films aren't very good and are way too long anyway; so it's nice to have a film's best bits shorn of its 2hr30mins into an easily digestible format.

Today I am looking at newish trailers for Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (catchy name that) and John Carter - formerly Of Mars. I'm comparing them for no reason other than they're both 'live action' films directed by people better known for their animation work, specifically with Disney Pixar. MI4:GP (catchy initials!) is directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille) whilst JC (of Mars, not Nazareth) has Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) shouting "lights, camera, action".

The MI4 trailer does a nice job of outlining the basic premise before descending into a mess of too-fast cuts and action shots of Tom Cruise running, jumping, climbing, and having silly hair. Jeremy Renner decides to blur the lines between franchises by playing a government super agent. He will also be appearing as government super agents in The Avengers and the new Jason Bourne film that won't actually feature Jason Bourne. That Eminem song is pretty awful, but I guess they're appealing to a demographic.

John Carter doesn't once mention that he's actually on Mars, but the big red sandy deserts, alienoids, and twin moons have a fair old crack at giving it away. I think tonally I prefer this to MI4's trailer, even if it does use the horrible 'close up on an opening eye/wake up in a strange location - where am I?' shot and a pretty shoddy cover of Arcade Fire's My Body Is A Cage. Those desert shots really are nice, the Willem Defore voice over bit gives it some 'gravitas', and they seem to have balanced the campness away from Flash Gordon territory. And in that scene of John Carter wearing a hat, he looks a bit like Jack White.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Pizza Slice: Rustichella at Pizza Express

Ended up in Pizza Express on Monday night. My jet-set social life meant there was little point in me going home after work, and so I answered the call of the ever present voucher code.

I usually order a La Reine, but I fancied something different. After some umms and ahs I settled on the Rustichella. Supposedly topped with pancetta, rocket, and roasted tomatoes. Unfortunately it was also topped with a Jackson Pollock splatter of Caesar salad dressing. There is absolutely no need for such a thing on a pizza.

Saturday, 30 April 2011


Must. Write. More.

Friday, 14 January 2011

At The Pictures: Of Gods And Men

I saw Of Gods And Men last week. I thought it was rather great. It’s the (based on a true) story of a community of French monks, living in Algeria in the mid 90s, and how their lives change with the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. The monks have an almost symbiotic relationship with the indigenous community, but the monks find themselves between the terrorists and the government, and have to decide between abandoning their monastery or staying the course. The direction mirrors the monks’ lifestyle with its meditative slow place but it never fails to engage, mostly thanks to the brilliant cast; each character reacting in their own way to the changing world around them. It could have been so easy to show everyone as a stereotype or an archetype, but the film’s real triumph is to portray them as genuine human beings.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Pizza Slice: 2010

When I think of pizza in 2010 it’s my visit to New York City that stands out above everything else, so this might turn into a belated What I Did On My Holidays. It’s just on another level over there. You get a fair amount of average places, but what really amazed me was the number of crappy looking places that, upon further inspection, were churning out incredible looking pizzas from wood burning ovens. I walked down one street near where we were staying in the East Village, and there was a wood delivery truck stopping at regular spots all down the street to deliver fuel to the humble looking pizzerias.

It wasn’t wood-fired pizza that won the day however, but old king coal. Grimaldi’s was a name I’d encountered whilst googling ‘best pizza new york’ and it had also been recommended by a work colleague. A friend of friend, resident in NYC, had also heard good things about it. The ‘good things’ have made it a bit of a tourist trap, and we had to queue for roughly an hour just to get a table. Eventually we were called in (we even got to jump the queue slightly) and the 5 of us were squeezed around a tiny table. The walls were covered in Frank Sinatra memorabilia (apparently he was a big fan), the waiter asked me what my ‘secret’ was - I was the only male in our party. Best of all though were the chefs. They worked as a chain. One passed the dough to the next, who effortlessly stretched it into a base, then another would apply the toppings, give it a drizzle of sauce, and fling it into the roaring hot coal burning oven. The cooked pizzas were then brought to the tables and perched on stands. We shared 2 between the five of us. They were easily the best pizzas I have ever eaten.

The most surprisingly nice though was a slice I had in Central Park’s Summer Stage whilst waiting for Pavement to come on. Despite some great food at Green Man and Latitude festivals, my expectations for food bought at outdoor music events are still coloured by the Reading Festival, but New York again excelled itself. One stall had a car trailer which had been converted into a wood-burning oven*! I had a great big slice of margherita and it was great.

Everything pretty much pales into comparison.

* For the record, I don’t think a wood burning oven is an essential of good pizza making. I’ve had plenty of great pizzas from places with more 'modern' ovens. It’s just that a wood burner is a bit of a badge, highlighting the chef as someone who cares about the pizza they’re producing. A Pizza Hut pizza cooked in a wood burning oven is still going to be pretty crap.