Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Apprentice, Week 4.

It’s all about inventions this week, as both Apollo and Synergy are told to select two from a bunch of up-and-coming inventions and pitch them to various department stores and shops across the UK.
We’re launched straight into conflict when Jamie and Mel fight for the position of Project Manager. Mel, who was the winning PM last week (although it could be strongly argued that her team won in spite of, rather than because of, her), puts herself forward again, though through a democratic vote it is Jamie who win the position of PM. Jamie looks chuffed, Mel looks extremely irked. On the other team, picking PM is considerably more straightforward; Chris puts himself forward and meets no opposition, winning the position by default.

The teams this week are two select some inventions and try to sell them. We see some of these inventions, which range from the curious to the sublime. There’s bizarre Pilate helpers, a men’s T-shirt that claims to sculpt in the body (for £50? I think not). There’s also a “water and energy-saving showerhead”, which can save a family of four up to £240 a year, which retails at just over twenty quid. Jamie’s team like it it, deciding that it’s “free money”. If they buy over a thousand units, they can get them for £9.95 rather than RRP of "12.95. Lastly, there’s a BabyGlo for off-colour babies, which helps to prevent cot death; when a baby gets too warm, the item of clothing changes colour. Chris is very impressed with it and it’s obviously going to be snapped up by worried parents. Finally, both teams decide to vy for the baby clothing, but only one can get it. It’s Chris’ team who win it, leaving Jamie’s team disappointed. They have to decide on second best, wherein they debate over the shower head and the spade. In the end, they go for both. (Chris’ teams’ second product is the expensive underwear).
The day’s big appointment is to make pitches. The two teams work on their pitches on their cab rides toward their destinations. Jamie, Melissa and Christopher aim to pitch their showerheads first. The department store disregard it straight away, saying they “don’t sell showers”, which leaves Jamie stumped. Melissa jumps in, arguing in favour for it, saying it “does fit in somewhere” and that it “does bring in different buyers”, though she’s talking to a brick wall, which does the team no favours with the Department store. Next, they pitch their spade, and the pitch is somewhat underwhelming, only for them to say they “don’t sell gardening tools.” All in all, a massive fail.

Chris’ team’ pitch for the underwear doesn’t particularly impress the Department store people, but the BabyGlo item noticeably turns their head. They have their questions, but the pitch is quite strong (after all, it is by far the best item), and they leave relatively pleased for their work on the latter. Joanna in Synergy manages to gather interest for the showerhead, but it’s from Leamington Spa, so Jamie sends his sub-team of Stella, Stuart and Melissa up there. Chris’ team then move to test their BabyGlo product on boutiques. The first shopkeeper’s main concern with it is over the packaging. She complains that it is not packaged for a high-end store, despite the product itself being quite innovative. The other half of Chris’ team – Sandeep, Paloma and Laura, go to other baby stores. Sandeep wins “Most Pointless Comment of the Year” by saying “obviously the baby can’t talk to you.” They make a small amount of orders, but Laura complains that her pitch was stolen from her.

Jamie’s team has meanwhile gone all the way down to Portsmouth. They make ten thousand pounds worth of sales, which they’re highly satisfied with. Jamie meanwhile calls Melissa to say that Joanne will be taking 50% of her sales, as it was her that won them the pitch. Melissa certainly isn’t happy about it, but aims to make the greatest batch sale she can. However, the buyer would only take it if the product was around the six pound region, which is half what they’re trying to flog it for. Despite Melissa’s best efforts (read: rambling), it’s a no-go for them. Meanwhile, Chris is trying to sell his BabyGlo outfit by playing the “as mothers…” card with a group of women, and it doesn’t go down particularly well.
It’s success for Sandeesh as she makes £780 worth of sales. They then go to a shop nearby and make a big sale of 200 units, but he’ll only agree to it if they go exclusive within the Soho area, meaning that Sandeesh demands credit for £780 of that sale to make up for the sale she has lost. This triggers off a debate between Paloma and Laura over who gets the credit for the rest of the sale.
In the closing minutes of the day, Jamie’s and Chris’ team run around all over the UK, making closing sales. Both see fairly confident, though Jamie is far from impressed from the other half of his team – Stuart sold nothing, Stella sold 60 showers and Mel, 6 spades. Christopher voices his derision at their “work”, “BOLLOCKS.”

It’s boardroom time, and Alan Sugar asks Synergy what they made of their teamleader Jamie. Generally, they were fairly impressed, though they discuss why it is that they didn’t win the pitch for the BabyGlo product. This was mainly down to Stuart’s rudeness in the face of the pitcher. Alan Sugar then questions why 60 showers were sold for £10, which count as disallowed sales, as this price can only be applied for sales of over 1000. Alan Sugar then talks to Apollo. They, too, have some of their sales discounted, because they offered exclusivity on their BabyGlo product and they weren’t allowed it from the creator.

Number crunching time. For what has to be a first in The Apprentice history, the sales figures are very very high. Synergy make £3790 from one sent of pitches, 0 from the department store ones, and a whopping £63750 in another, amounting to a huge £76518.80, which Jamie looks hugely pleased about. However, his happiness is short-lived in the face of Apollo’s figures a huge total of £122000, chiefly thanks to Liz’s amazing sale skills. I’m a huge fan of Liz, it must be said. She’s the only un-diva of the women in the show, and just goes about her work quietly. Woman will go very, very far. It’s mainly thanks to her that Chris’ team wins, and they are treated to a spa treatment.

It’s but a trick for Synergy, however, and Jamie tries to look gracious, but he can’t hide his disappointment. Joanne and Melissa shout at reach other across the café table. Melissa claims to be a great pitcher, but all we’ve seen is evidence to the contrary. Jamie says he wishes he could take the mini-group Stella, Stuart and Melissa in, as he’s none too impressed with either. The Sub team contributed £897, which is rubbish as a proportion of their overall sales. Stuart won’t accept it though, and still claims to be a great salesman. Karen Brady tells Melissa bluntly that the feedback was that they were “very annoying”, something I echo 100%. Recriminations aplenty follow, and Jamie goes all wordy when questioned on who he wants to bring into the boardroom with him. He goes for Melissa and Stuart, which I think is a bit of a no-brainer, although Melissa stills acts wounded to hear the decision, which makes me laugh.

Once the three of them are in the boardroom, the three turn on each other. When Sir Alan disses Melissa, all she can say is “I appreciate the feedback”, which just makes her appear even more sycophantic than ever. She tries to defend herself by saying “I received a victory as project manager”, but Alan Sugar fairly points out that that win had nothing to do with her. Ha ha ha. Alan Sugar curtly tells Stuart he needs to think before he can talk, but Stuart argues that he’s young (21, only a year older than me! Freaking hell), saying that he’s yet to be PM to exhibit his full skills.

Alan Sugar really scares me (and, no doubt, Jamie), when he winds him up, making it seem like it is Jamie who is getting to get fired, but finally, he sacks Melissa, much to the glee of everyone over the UK, no doubt. She shows herself to be the ungracious goon she is muttering “Well done for ganging up on me” darkly under her breath, and refusing to shake Jamie’s hand when he offers it. When in the cab, she says something stupid like “Karmically they will be reattributed”, which is not even proper English. As for as unlikeable characters in The Apprentice go, Melissa is right up there, and I am so happy she’s finally off our screens. No-one in the house seems to miss her, and, frankly, neither will any of us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

X Factor, 2010: Live Show 2.

The theme this week was Musical Heroes, which was clearly left quite open to interpretation (quite when Kelly Clarkson is accepted as a musical hero is beyond me, but yeah). Cheryl left the fake tan bottle alone and instead died her hair red, a look which she worked very well indeed. As with last week, my thoughts on the performances: -
1) Storm Lee – his singing sounded flat and the dancing on the stage was also quite lame. Overall, I didn’t buy it, and it amuses me greatly that he likened himself to Bono. Delusion never fails to entertain me. 3/10
2) TreyC Cohen – I like her. She’s bubbly and confident, without being intrusively so. Her song choice – Purple Rain by Prince was mighty brave choice, but I enjoyed her rendition of it. 7/10
3) Paige Richardson – the dancing on the stage was a bit random, and he started stutteringly, but it definitely picked up. He sang Some People Want it All by Alicia Keys and on the whole, nailed the powerful bits. 7.5/10
4) One Direction – these were the little termites that picked the song My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson, but, frankly, my life does suck, with them. When Malik tried to do the falsetto bit? OH DEAR. Crap, once again. 1/10
5) Cher Lloyd – lol, noes 2/10
6) John Adeleye – I love his voice 8/10
7) Diva Fever – I thought they were cute and entertaining at the start, but the novelty is wearing very very thin now. The backing singers outsang them, and that’s never a good thing. 3/10
8) Rebecca Ferguson – Now, Nina Simone’s Feelin’ Good is one of my favourite songs, so I am very wary and critical when someone takes on such a big song. But Liverpool-born Rebecca Ferguson totally did it justice. Her voice is sensational, and her dress matched her lipstick, and, whilst she still clearly has a bit of an inferiority complex, that should soon be fixed as she goes from strength to strength on the show. 9/10
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9) Aiden Grimshaw – his performance just wasn’t that good, and he did himself no favours when he sulked on-screen when the judges gave their harsh (but honest) assessment of his tepid performance. He’s got the diva attitude, but not the talent. 3/10
10) Wagner – I agree with what Danii said, which was that, in all honesty, I wasn’t totally sure what he was saying at times when he was singing. And his presence just doesn’t interest me in the least. A gimmick act, and the sooner he jogs on, the better. 2/10
11) Katie Waissel – well, well, well. I’d been ice cold to this girl for her (admittedly awful) rendition of Queen’s We Are the Champions last week, but this week, she just focussed on her singing, and it proved to be a surprisingly moving and powerful performance of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind. 7.5/10
12) Bell-Amie – nothing about this performance impressed me, from the wannabe Girls Aloud eye make-up, to the random strutting about and the hair-tossing. What I will say for them, though, is that it’s good they picked a song that didn’t test their vocal range as much; that way, they didn’t expose how weak their voices are. 2/10
13) Mary Byrne – yet another vocally strong performance, I guess. 6/10
14) Matt Cardle – oh, it was beautiful!!! I’m not sure whether Bruno Mars really counts as musical hero just yet, but his rendition of You’re Amazing Just the Way You Are was sung with such panache that it made me forget the technicalities and just wish there was a boy who’d play this song for me. He’s keeping the flag flying for Essex lads, which is saying something as I really got duped good and proper by one yesterday. Haha. 9/10
So, a couple of performances I really rated!! Not too shabby.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10.10.10.

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4.3.2.1 (Noel Clarke, 2010)
4.3.2.1 tells the story of four female friends in inner-city London who inadvertently get embroiled in a diamond heist. At the start of the film, they meet up in a café, then part ways for their own mini-adventures, not knowing that, over the next 48 hours, their paths will cross in more unorthodox ways. The film follows directly after they have parted ways, channelling the misdemeanours of each girl for the next few days. So far, so Tarantino. Except that, whilst I may find QT a little irksome in his continual self-advertising and self-love, at least he had something to be smug about. Noel Clarke, not so much. There’s split screen and samurai swords (as well as a tacky lesbian sex scene so that the lads are entertained) aplenty, but this film is a heavy case of style over substance. There are plotholes amongst plot holes in the film, and by fragmenting the foursome, it is difficult to find a single one who I cared about; Ophelia Lovibond is the self-harmer who is still bruised from an abortion she once had, Shanika Warren-Marland is a lesbian and wants everyone to know it, Tamsin Egerton a spoilt piano prodigy who swans about in New York spending her parents’ money and losing her virginity, and Emma Roberts a long-suffering checkout worker who pines for better days. None of the four leads give any kind of acting that’s worth a damn, Emma Roberts is and continues to have the kind of face that I feel needs a slap, though I will give credit where credit is due – whilst she can’t act for toffee, Miss Egerton does have astounding legs. The performances all uniformly below-par (bar perhaps Eastenders’ Michelle Ryan, who’s turn as a psycho bitch is at least entertaining), the dialogue is superficial and at times, cringe-inducing (Warren-Marland’s Kerrys sports a T-shirt saying Vagetarian, and the film’s shallow treatment of abortion leaves a lot to be desired) and despite the promising premise, ultra-cool settings in London and New York (my two favourite cities in the world) and soundtrack that hits more than it misses, this film is nonetheless an awful attempt to be with it. As a result, there is no story, no characters, and no quality. When you're an even worse British film of 2010 than Shank, you know you've got problems, blud.

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Made in Dagenham (Nigel Cole, 2010)
From an unspeakably poor British film, to a much, much better one. Nigel Cole’s film tells of the Dagenham Ford strike in 1968. Led by feisty but down-to-earth Rita (Sally Hawkins, always lovely), the car-seat makers of the Ford plant decide that they deserve better, and, guided by Bob Hoskins, they take matters in their own hand. An unashamedly pro-women film, this delight does girl power far better than 4.3.2.1 ever could. As with 4.3.2.1, it’s anything but subtle (many characters have monologues and soliloquies talking about the strifes of being a woman) but such is the quality of Billy Ivory’s screenplay, that the film never feels manipulative, or force. And, unlike 4.3.2.1, the acting is stellar. Sally Hawkins is wonderfully natural and sweet, Bob Hoskins is amusing, Geraldine James is very very moving, and Rosamund Pike, though underused, illustrates the film’s key point that one should never skim the surface and automatically disregard a woman as just a pretty face. The costumes captured the earthy Essex chic wonderfully and overall, I walked out of the cinema with a big smile on my face.

The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
Now, as you know, I wasn't the biggest fan of Inception. OK, that’s an understatement; I detested it and wanted my money back. But, I know that Chris Nolan is a mighty talented film director, and I wanted to reinforce this point by revisiting one of his more underrated films – The Prestige. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play magicians who’s friendship turns sour when a magic trick gone wrong has the latter’s wife dying. From then on, friends turn to enemy as the two continually look for ways to jeopardize each others’ magic acts. A wonderful study of obsession, The Prestige also boasts a clever look into the world of magic performance, as well as some REAL magic, which still turns my head. For once, Scarlett Johansson didn’t bug the crap out of me in her performance, and dual casting of her and Rebecca Hall had me cracking a smile at the Vicky Cristina Barcelona link. Michael Caine is as Michael Caine always is, awesome, and the cinematography, score and editing are all accomplished. Much, much, much more magical than Inception can ever hope to be.

The River (Jean Renoir, 1951)
In short, one of my favourite films of all time.
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The film follows three girls – Harriet, Melanie and Valerie, and how their lives are changed by the arrival by a dishy (but troubled) soldier, Captain John (Thomas E. Breen, delicious). As an impressionable youth who often falls into and out of love, I connected with each of the three girls and their plight, and thought the portrayal of their crushes/infatuations accurate and true to life. The acting wasn’t really the best, but that is of secondary importance when much of the film is a love letter to India, and it is filmed so completely and utterly gorgeously. The lingering close-ups on the girls’ faces when they watch their beloved John are claustrophobic, but fully capture what it’s like to be young and in love, and the languid, philosophical pace of the film, whilst it may jar for some, really rang a bell with me. The ideal kind of film to watch in your PJs. Lush.

Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004)
Paul Giamatti stars as Miles Raymond is a divorce, a jaded middle school teacher, aspiring writer and wine lover, on a road trip with his friend, bit-part actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church), the week before Jack’s wedding. Miles wants to play golf, taste wine and wind down, Jack would prefer to chase women and bonk about a bit before getting wed. Such is the set-up for Alexander Payne’s bittersweet and highly intelligent film, the ultimate “anti road trip movie”. Though I’m perhaps a bit young to appreciate the full genius of this film (certain scenes dragged on for me and it veered dangerously close to just the wrong side of pretentious), one thing I cannot fault about it is Paul Giamatti’s performance, the epitome of mensch. He turns Sideways into a mediocre comedy into a strong comedy-drama with his perfect comedy timing and emotional depth in the more controlled scenes. Furthermore, his romance with Virginia Madsen’s (also divorced) smart and sexy waitress Maya is awkward, initially somewhat embarrassing and unsure, as a believable romance should be. I don’t often care whether or not 40-somethings get the women of their dreams, but such is the power of Giamatti’s performance, that, for him, I did.

Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
Film noir with Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas and Jane Greer, the former of which whom irked me in her irritating performance as the femme fatale who does nothing but cause trouble for men. Jacques Tourneur gets the best out of the rest of his cast, though, and thanks to that, his measured direction and the clever camerawork, this can be ranked as one of the finer film noirs of the 40s. Indeed, the impending sense of doom had me in a dread throughout, even though I knew it was just a film.

I'm a City girl, at heart, but Bath is gorgeous.

Polaroid taken by my best friend Anna, on her Polaroid camera:
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X Factor 2010, Live Show 1.

First The Apprentice, now this? I bloody love my reality TV shows don't I? Oh dear...

Anyway. This week, the theme is number 1s. The number one its can have reached no. 1 anywhere in the world, and can be from any era in music, leaving lots of space for interpretation.

Something that Cheryl Cole clearly did not leave open to interpretation, however, was her fake tan. She is looking mighty, mighty, mighty orange. It ain’t a good look.
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My thoughts on all the performances, in the order that they performed:

1. F.Y.D. They covered Billionaire, which is a good choice to pick because it’s still fresh in most of the target audience’s minds, and the vocal range is not terribly strenuous. Even so, the band did not start well, and about 20% of the song was sung out of tune by the band. I liked the cheeky change of “Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen” to “Smiling next to Simon and the Queen”, though I do believe BGT had the idea first (when Diversity sent up Simon Cowell in their final performance). The second guy who sung was much better than the first and harmonization was ok. The dancing was very good and tidy, leading me to agree with Louis when he said that they were better dancers than they were singers. In the second verse of the song, they tried to jazz things up with more funky dance moves. Cheryl commented that she actually wanted to see MORE movement from them, though, as Girls Aloud’s best dancer (but not best singer), she’d obviously say that. 5/10.

2. Matt Cardle. Awww, gotta love an Essex lad. :) His being from the Essex countryside will inevitably draw comparisons to last year’s Olly Murs, but already I am liking him a lot more than Olly; Olly was a great performer, but Matt seems very shy and unsure, which adds to his appeal for me. He performed When Love Takes Over, and, whilst I feel that he needed to command the stage more (his performance had very little movement apart from awkward gesticulating with his hands), he was vocally very strong, bar one or two shakes. I think Matt sadly still has a small-stage mentality, which is a shame because his voice deserves to take him far. 8/10.

3. John. His performance was ok, run-of-the-mill stuff. 5/10.

4. Rebecca Ferguson. This Scouse soul sister had a real Anastasia-style quality to her voice, which perhaps wasn’t fully exhibited in her song choice (Teardrops by Womack & Womack), which was safely dubbed a bit of a “safe choice” by the judges. However, Simon told her that she had “enormous potential”, which I agree with, and that with the right song, she can put her voice to full use. She looked gorgeous as well, and has a genuinely humble quality that will easily win hearts. 7.5/10.

5. Storm. Oh dear. In the lengthy build-up that X-Factor wherein the contestants are allowed to draft somewhat of a sob story for themselves, Storm revealed that at 17, he sold all his things to pursue a career in music. Now, I don’t mean to sound cold, but, if he hasn’t been successful all this time, perhaps it’s time to call it a day? Throughout his performance, I was just thinking “mutton dressed as lamb”, and there was nothing in it that did anything for me. 2/10.

6. Belle Amie. Oh dear, again. One of my favourite songs of 2010 so far is B.o.B featuring Hayley William’s Airplanes, and this was the song they picked. And they completely butchered it. There was no team cohesion; they reminded me of Manchester City at the start when expensive players were just being shoved into the team; nothing about them gelled and the whole performance was very stilted. The rapping, dear god. Absolutely atrocious. I know, as someone who bastardized Kanye West’s Homecoming on YouTube (see below), I’m not really one to talk here, but you know you’ve got problems when a Chinese girl raps better than you. In short, it was a group of wanabes. Their lack of va-va-voom means they’ll be one of the first to be voted off, and quite frankly, I can’t wait to get shot of them. Awful. 0/10.


7. Cher. chavvy and sloppy 1/10
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8. Diva Fever. Oh, they are FUN!! They were Simon’s wildcard, and in the build-up to their performance X-Factor showed them being told that they had made it after all. Conveniently, they’d both been with each other when told, which quells nothing about what the sexuality of this camp duo may be. But they’re camp and fun with it, and their performance even had a quick-change bit, which would have perhaps been more at home on Britain’s Got Talent, but was certainly engaging. In terms of the singing, I felt that the dude on the left dominated, barely letting his partner get a word in, and obviously vocally, it wasn’t the best. But they’re two cute, unassuming guys, and they deserve a decent run on the show. 6/10.

9. Paige Richardson. He sang Killing Me Softly, but I felt that what he was wearing (jogging bottoms, trainers) didn’t really fit with the song. Furthermore, he was singing about a woman rather than a man, and the way he substituted “her” into “his” into the lyrics jarred. Nonetheless, he sang quite well, and I agree with Simon that it was refreshing that there was “nothing surly about [him]” in being a wildcard pick – he’s back, and he just wants to make the most of it. 6.5/10

10. Katie Waissel. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I lol’d. I’m lol’ing so I don’t weep out of sheer despair that such a piece of shit performance got this far on X-Factor. Part Queen, part Lady Gaga, part rah North-West London ditzy drama queen, she was sporting the most ridiculous crown (it looked like something a 15 year old put together for their DT Resistant Materials) and stood uncomfortably in front of a keyboard, one which I’m not even totally convinced it was her playing. She sang We Are the Champions, which is hilariously ironic because with a shit voice like that, the only thing she’s going to be a champion of is shattering glass. Louis commented that “the song is too big for [her]”, but that’s an understatement; The Crazy Frog tune would be too big for her. Get this scum off our screens, please. 0/10.

11. Mary. Vocally, she was astounding. She absolutely belted out James Brown’s A Man’s a World with conviction and power, and what a voice she has. However—a) she was wearing a ridiculous costume and had a camel’s toe and b) I’m not sure if she’ll survive the later rounds when up against the younger lot, who have sex appeal in spades, something which she most certainly does not. Only time will tell. 6/10.

12. Nicolo Festa. Oh, jesus. It really, really, really riles me that there’s goons like this clogging up out TV screens. His performance of Lady Gaga’s Just Dance was one of the most smug, self-satisfied things I’ve ever witnessed (accentuated with the fact that he wore sunglasses through the performance), and he pranced about the stage like a prima donna, not really doing anything of worth. At the end, when questioned whether or not he was a diva, he acted all indignant and said he wasn’t, which was one of the finest pieces of acting I’ve seen in years. If the career in music doesn’t work out (as it won’t), he could always become a rentboy. That would make use of his “talents” a lot better. 0/10.

13. One Direction. One Direction? New Direction? Who gives a flying pig?? Their rendition of Viva La Vida rivalled Belle Amie’s cover of Airplanes as one of the worst group performances in the history of X-Factor. I genuinely belly-laughed when one of the boys forgot his words and one of his “mates” stepped in. That Malik lad is a bit of alright (I’m probably not allowed to say this as he’s 17 and I’m 20, tut tut), but aside from him, I see no reason to flog this dead horse. 1/10.
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14. Wagner. He sang “She Bangs, She Bangs”, and he was fun and lively, but voice wise, not the best. Half-way through he modulated to Love Shack, which again, was great fun, but also again, didn’t really exhibit his vocal range. 4/10.

15. Aiden Grimshaw. Aiden sang “Mad World” by Tears for Fears, and such is the emotional depth of the song that it requires a certain amount of intensity, though Grimshaw’s attempts to act intense come off like he looks a bit constipated. Ha. His singing, however, was very very strong, so props for that. 7/10.

16. TreyC Cohen. Very good. Shouldn’t have to deal with “wildcard” status; she was a much more worthy contestant than fricking Katie. 7/10.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Apprentice, 2010: Week One.

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Finally, it’s here! After (what I felt to be) a very underwhelming series of Junior Apprentice, we’re finally onto the original. Margaret has gone (replaced by Karen Brady), but the rest of the formula is reassuringly familiar. And by that, I mean deluded contestants who are almost swimming in their own stench of arrogance and tasks which bring out said qualities. The challenge this week is to sell sausages, and from the looks of it, the contestants will be making a pigs ear of it.

“Everything I touch turns to sold”, drawls one of the contestants. “Where’s my glass ceiling?” Already, he has established himself as a self-serving, egotistical goon amidst a sea of egotistical goons. The episode kicks in when Sir Alan divides the teams, as per standard, by gender. The first task for both teams is to pick their names. The women, after dallying with an atrocious “Winning Women”, plump for Apollo, because, as said by one of the women, for the Apollo, as for them, “failure is not an option.” The men flit between Fusion and Synergy, before the latter is selected by the majority.

Next up, picking the project managers. Dan Harris, the oldest of the men, puts himself forward straight away, whilst for the women, Joanna volunteers with more reserve. The two teams then have to decide how they’re going to set about selling their sausages, and the types that they’re going to supply. The men opt for bargain basement sausages, whilst the women decide the more delicate approach with gourmet sausages. Already the two project managers are starting to exhibit their true colours; Dan waves his arms around and hollers the f-words repeatedly, whereas Joanna shows her patronizing streak. Karen Brady, observing the men, is far from impressed with Dan, noting that heis “very aggressive.”

“Who the fuck is it?” hollers Dan, in another display of said aggression later on in the show. By now, the two teams have gone to the meat markets, bought their supplies (and on the whole failed to get a good bargain). The women go for some fairly obscure ingredients for their sausages - ham and mint, and chicken and chilli being two of their sausages. When they put all the ingredients into the machine and produce sausages, I must say, the sausages looked like willies initially. Soon, however, Apollo have take-off, and produce sausages that are on their way to looking mildly presentable.

Elsewhere with Synergy, Dan pouts a bit, before throwing his weight around. The boy’s team’s sausages come out of the machine looking like dried faeces; most unappetizing. Jamie Lester, one of the men, is truly unimpressed with his PM, noting that Dan “can’t organise a piss-up in a brewery”. Meanwhile, the women’s sausages are overstuffed with pricey mint, and the two ladies doing the accounts note that Apollo aren’t making as many as they’d hoped.

After that ”night of hard graft”, the women’s sausages are actually looking fairly professional. Unfortunately, when packaged, they look much like the men’s – sausages in a box. To exhibit their higher end ingredients, they must give tasters. The men start selling, telling people that the sausages are “Made by us” - - not really a selling point if you ask me. Synergy hit Portobello market, complete with speakerphone. The deal they’re offering is £3.99 for a pack, 3 packs for a tenner. They are frying samples, which pulls in buyers.

Of Synergy, Stuart Baggs is very eager to let it be known that he sells a lot. “To be honest I sell the most here”, he drawls. When his intrusive selling style is called into question by another team-mate, he gets shirt. “Who’s selling the most?” he demands, with the air of a spoilt child. The women need to recoup their high production costs, but as of yet, they’re not making a great deal of sales. Nick, watching them, observes wryly “You sell the sizzle, not the sausage,” touching on the fact that the women haven’t cottoned on to giving tasters. After a while, they do realise what the cooking utensils next to them are doing. “Better late than never,” he mutters.

The men then try to sell sausages to people in pubs. 90p a sausage, the guy in the pub is not having any of it. Dan just moves his arms about and swears in an attempt to be assertive. Meanwhile, in Apollo, friction is arising - one woman feels she’s being usurped; she’d talked a seller into buying some sausages, but feels that Joanna is hogging the glory by closing the deal. Joanna says that “As long as the deal’s done”, it doesn’t matter who does the selling, but this doesn’t stop the other team-member from moaning. It’s “a matter of professionalism” she complaigns.

The men, for some godforsaken reason, decide that when faced with a huge amount of stock that won’t sell, it’s time to take a stocktake. Even though that’s certainly not goning to make any money. Yet again, Dan continues to bark at his team and wave his right arm about, left hand in apron pocket, as if this proves what a good project manager he is. Dr Shibby Robati, a surgeon, talks about how fed up he is with his project manager’s brash confrontational ways. Soon, the day ends.

Apollo and Synergy enter the Board room. Sir Alan asks them how their names and project managers came about. “I put myself forward”, Joanna says smugly. Then, it’s the moment of truth. Synergy spent more, and made more money than Apollo, but Apollo spent so little that overall, they made £15 more profit than the boys. Nick gives some rare words of encouragement to the women who’d done the numbers, “Stella and Elizabeth are hot on the figures”. True enough; both women didn’t push themselves to the front of the camera, rather, they sat back and carried out their task with diligence and precision. Stella and Elizabeth are two to keep an eye on in a sea of despicable goons.

So, the women win, and are escorted back to their place of residence for the duration of the show – a Georgian townhouse slap bang in the middle of London’s west end. It is gorgeous, complete with a grand piano, a luxury sofa, a modern deco kitchen, sauna, and gym with treadmill. Downstairs, a chef is cooking sausages. Apollo can just about see the funny side, and tuck into (what looks like) some delicious finger food.

As for the men, they come home later, after the celebrations, as Sir Alan Sugar says he’s too tired for the recriminations to begin immediately. Stuart confidently declares “I’m going to take my suitcase in and I am not going to pack a thing. Because I’m not going home.” Once in the board room, the sniping begins immediately. It is revealed that Dan only sold £14 worth, though his defence – and it is a defence he uses many times in the boardroom – is that he was too busy “managing.” When questioned on being “Out of his depth”, he declares “I focussed on being a project manager”. But his teammates aren’t having any of it. One of them chirps that he was like “a bull in a china shop.” “So aggressive and so thuggish”.

Dan decides that he will bring Stuart and Alex into the board room. Once they’re in, Stuart and Dan begin arguing immediately. It is funny, after all that harping on, it turns out Stuart didn’t sell the most. More dissent in boardroom follows, with Dan claiming that he had his hands full Project Managing, and Stuart being sarky in a way that only a 21-year-old can (by the way, it is very hard to believe that he’s only one year older than me, such is his weather-beaten face, making disparaging comments.

In the end, Dan gets fired, which I think is by far and away one of the best firings Alan Sugar has made. He has time to take Stuart down a peg or two, telling him to only speak when he’s being spoken to, and thus ends the first episode of a long-awaited season of The Apprentice. Next week, they’re selling package holidays. BRING IT.


Quote of the episode: a toss-up between:
01. Everything I touch turns to sold
02. My first word wasn’t mummy, it was money
03. I’ve had a similar offer from a Nigerian

Emmabung's Top 10 Cutest Footballers (Currently.)


This list changes as often as I change my hoodies, so I would take it with a pinch of salt. Looking over it, I realise it is very English, Spanish and Croatian heavy (in fact, the only other nations represented are the Czech Republic and Ivory Coast). As a matter of fact, nine of these ten dudes are Europeans, which probably betrays my predilection for European men. Anyway (from top left then clockwise), the men are:

Xavi and Iniesta (both Spain, both Barcelona). I often think of these two as the same player, such is their telepathic bond and brilliant link-up play at Barcelona and for their national team.

Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea). It makes me laugh when people, especially overweight middle-aged men, call Lampard "fat", because he has an amazing physique. The fact that he plays so well for my team, as well as sporting a sexy Romford accent, only makes him more irresistable.

Luka Modric (Croatia, Tottenham). Little Luka, along with Crouchie, will probably garner the most laughter for his appearance on my list here. After all, the Croatian magician does have long blonde hair, a big nose, and buck teeth. That's not ordinarily considered attractive. But, I dunno. He is a very skilled footballer (if I could bring one player to the Bridge it'd be Modric or the later mentioned Adam Johnson), yet seems to be uncharacteristically humble, something which could be attributed to his being from Croatia (incidentally, a country I absolutely BUM). After all, they have an Island that looks like this!


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Stunning!

Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast, Chelsea). Aww, sweet-faced, adorable, innocent Sala! What a cutie.

Niko Kranjcar (Croatia, Tottenham). Har, the second Croat Spuds player in my list. To be honest, I was very close to including a third, the defender Vedran Corluka, but alas, I left him out. Well, of the three, Kranjcar is easily the most "stereotypically" handsome, with his gorgeous brown eyes, sexy bod and tanned skin. He doesn't seem to be playing that many games this season for some reason, but he does play, it's not his football I'm paying attention to. ;)

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Adam Johnson (England, Manchester City). Adam Johnson is, in short, one of England's most exciting prospects. I firmly believe that Capello was a fool for not selecting him (though, then again, this is the man who didn't start Crouchie enough in the World Cup, and who knows what could have happened if he'd played more). I watched Adam Johnson on James Corden's World Cup (he was just about the only good thing to take from that piece of shit show), and he was wearing a hoodie and speaking eloquently in his cute Tyneside accent. As with five of the other men in this list, I've actually seen Johnson in the flesh, when I went to Manchester City vs Spurs (I always forget this fact because I was too busy perving on Crouchie in that game), and he and Tevez were probably the only two City players in the game that showed true flair in their footballing. It's hard enough to establish yourself at big-spending City, even harder when you're the right side of twenty with considerably less experience and ego than your fellow teammates. But Adam Johnson's humility is to his credit, and it won't be long before he's made a name for himself - for club and country.

Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid). Oh, nothing more needs to be said, really. He is a huge, huge dish, and one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Petr Cech (Czech Republic, Chelsea). Speaking of talented goalkeepers, there is no-one I have greater pride for in football than Petr Cech. He came back from a horrific head injury in October, 2006 with Stephen Hunt, after which many questioned his form. In truth, it is possible that he may never quite reach the super-high levels he'd set himself before then, but I would rather have him as my team's goalkeeper than anyone else in the world. Intelligent, sensible, and so, very, very lovely.

Peter Crouch (England, Tottenham). CROUCHIE =) =) I don't think I need to say any more, really, considering I've been worshiping him since his Liverpool days, and, as a staunch Chelsea fan, I don't make a habit of rooting for ex-Liverpool and Spurs players. But I just can't not. His funny robot dance, his other goal celebrations, his knack for always giving 100%, even if it doesn't necessarily pay off, makes him my #1.

Monday, October 04, 2010

It's a Woman's World.

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Bung is drunk!!! this is my first drunken film review since my film blog started in 2006, so, you best enjoy it! :P


I had a coupon that entitled me to see Nigel Cole's Made in Dagenham as well as a free beer at the Little, Theatre, Bath. It was an adorable film. Despite me being able to predict how the film would go:

Women want equal rights -> Women campaign for equal rights ->; Campaigns are initially fruitless -> Things get worse before they get better -> Happy denouement, as Joe McEldry said, it's the journey, not the destination, and, what a journey. I was moved to tears throughout the film and cried about 60 times. This was largely because I'd used my free drinks coupon on a bottle of London Pride, which, at 2.4 alcohol units, was more than enough to get me wasted. It was interesting, actually; I was the only person under the age of 60 in the cinema, but I must have been a SIGHT -- trampy Chinese youth with a bottle of beer in one hand, bawling throughout the film. Anyway, the other reason I cried was because everything that happened in the damn film reminded me of my best friends Luke and Anna, neither of whom are at Bath this year. So I cried, a freaking river. Especially as Luke is actually from Essex, so the whole bloody film reminded me of him. WAH.

But the film itself was great. Sally Hawkins, who we all know deserved an oscar nomination at the very least for her turn in Happy-Go-lucky almost reaches the performance in that film here, as Rita, a woman who just wants equal pay. She is a great leader and brings out good performances in all the supporting cast, particularly Bob Hoskins (his monologue about his mother was one of the many scenes that moved me to tears), Jamie Winston and Rosamund Pike, who's lovely performance, on the surface, seems to be very like that of hers in An Education, but under the exterior, she proves how women are awesome, keeping in tone with the film.

Overall, I thought it was going to drag on, but  Iwas chuckling, entertained (and crying) throughout. RECOMMENDED, k.

Also, I need2stop drinking.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Weekly Screening Log (27th September – 3rd October)

Right, I know I always do these and then end up stopping but I will try my damndest to stick to it this time round! (Famous last words).

Loser (Amy Heckerling, 2000)
Jason Biggs stars as a dorky college student on a scholarship, who is friendly, warm-hearted and nice, and thus, completely out of place amidst his boozy, hedonistic dorm mates. He falls for the equally lovely Mena Suvari, someone who is struggling to pay her way through college as well as having an affair with Greg Kinear’s college lecturer. Kinear’s character has reasonable amounts of swagger and allure, but he treats Suvari like absolute turd, and for that, I – and the audience – are completely championing Biggs to get the girl. It’s a fairly simple film and the majority of characters are sketchy clichés, but there is fun to be had in the cute moments shared between the two romantic leads, as well as the canny use of Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag as the film’s theme tune.

Date Night (Shawn Levy, 2010)
Well, well, well. I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to see this film, because I’m a big fan of the leads (especially the goddess Tina Fey), and they have wonderful chemistry in this film. The movie itself had me cracking up from start to finish (I was watching it on my iPod on the bus and got many a curious look, but I don’t care). The plot is fairly unusual – a married couple who are on the verge of slipping into monotony stray from the sidewalk on their weekly “date night” and go to New York City for an evening meal rather than staying in the suburbs. In order to procure a table at a prestigious restaurant, they masquerade as another couple. Unbeknownst to them, this couple are embroiled in a blackmail scheme, and soon their planned night out goes very differently from how they imagined.
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The cast and script are essentially what make this film; the jokes are a mixture of simple sex jokes and occasionally, the more pithier, wittier ones. The supporting cast is immense; James Franco and Mila Kunis cameo as the “real” couple and their on-screen bickering makes for very entertaining viewing. Mark Wahlberg and Ray Liotta also made me laugh a lot, and Leighton Meester is somewhat under-used, but just her presence satisfied me. But the central focus of the film is the two leads, and their performances are cracking. Good, feisty fun.

Through a Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman, 1961)
I’m nowhere near intelligent for this one, to be quite honest. Bergman’s four-hander centres around a very dysfunctional family, including recently released mental patient Karin (Harriet Andersson), her husband Martin (Max von Sydow), her brother Minus (who’s feelings for her veer dangerously close to being more than fraternal) and her self-absorbed playwright father. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with this film; the acting was accomplished (Max Von Sydow impressed me the most in his portrayal of caring husband who feels out of his depth with a crazy wife) and the script was measured and astute. My guess is that I just felt disjointed from the characters, and consequently, found it difficult to care about their plights. Furthermore, the crescendo of the film was so melodramatic, I laughed rather a lot. Sorry.

Heartless (Philip Ridley, 2009)
Jamie Morgan is a 25-year-old youth in East London, living with his mum. He also has a distinctive, unmissable heart-shaped birthmark on his face and all down his body. Because of said birth-mark, he has gone his whole life being abused and shunted, when all he wants is to love and be loved. I genuinely felt very, very deeply for Jamie, and the monologue he delivers in a nightclub moved me to tears. The action then occurs when Jamie’s mother is burned to death in front of him by a seemingly reptilian gang, and he, seeking vengeance, goes on a bizarre trip that involves him somehow “burning away” his birthmark. There is only so much weirdness that I could take, and for that, I did not particularly enjoy Heartless (the pivotal scene, which gave the film its 18-rating, was extremely disturbing and graphic and will haunt me for a long time), and certain scenes were so bizarre that it was difficult to take the film seriously. Harry Potter’s Fleur Delacour (Clemency Poesy) plays the love interest, and her acting was too disjointed, whilst lots of the rest of the cast ham it up to hilarious effect. However, I cannot fault Jim Sturgess’ heart-rending performance as Jamie; he gives his role 100% and delivers many silly lines with a straight face. Furthermore, it’s a mark of what an excellent actor is that, even when his character’s killing others, you still sympathise for him and root for him; a modern day Byronic hero if there ever was one. For him alone, the film is worth watching, though don’t say I didn’t warn you about the violence.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Bung’s Top 10 Girls Aloud songs.

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Now, I’ve always been a big Girls Aloud fan, but it took my lengthy commutes to work this Summer with nothing but my big-ass iPod for company to appreciate the full genius of their song lyrics, rather than just view them as a fun girl-band. In fact, I used to only ever notice Cheryl's beauty and Nadine's t'riffic voice, but recently I've got a whole lotta love for Kimberley, and acknowledge that Sarah and Nicola both have their moments too. As an ensemble, I just can't get enough of 'em, and so wish they'd get back together. Thus, as I did with Regina Spektor ages back (and by ages I do mean ages, 2 years ago, Jesus), I thought I’d do my top 10 of their songs. I’ve given this a fair bit of thought, and it’s not been easy to leave out some songs, but, finally, I think I’m ready to unleash it!

Because ten just isn’t enough for this insanely wonderful five-some: The Loving Kind, Watch Me Go, Graffiti My Soul, Here We Go, The Promise are runners-up

10. She
The B-Side to The Promise, and, whilst the frontline single itself is a terrifically cheery and feel-good song about falling in love despite everything, She turned my head even more. The beat in She is one of Girls Aloud’s sexiest, as are the lyrics, about a she-wolf and how she prowls, set to a combination of sultry singing and cheeky chanting. And Nadine, who I’ve always believed to have the best voice in the band, gets to really give a pipes a good blasting in the song’s closing refrain, which she completely nails; her delivery of “you in the middle, get your coat, let’s go!” manages to be both bossy and alluring.

09. No Good Advice
“Shut your mouth, because your shit might show” is one of Girls Aloud’s feistiest lyrics, but it suits No Good Advice, a song which showed that they aren’t just like every other goody-goody girlband on the scene, and that they have more of an edge to them, an edge which brings out the inner rockstars in them. The delivery of the spirited lyrics are especially so from Nadine and Cheryl, who do some ballsy voice work here, and the funky guitar and drums in the background complement the lively tone of the song. Essentially, it’s a song about rebelling about the (well-intentioned) things your parents say to you, and do your own thing instead (the part of the song wherein the girls say a litany of things they can do without – absolute genius). Which, to be quite honest, I complete connect to.

08. Sound of the Underground
Back in the day of Popstars: The Rivals, this was their first song, which they beat their opponents with for the spot of Christmas no. 1, and, eight years on, it has more than survived the test of time. The bassline wouldn’t be out of place in a Tomoyasu Hotei instrumental and the beat is wonderfully metallic, but you’ve also got the catchy lyrics (of which Nadine’s delivery hints at the promise of a great singer to come).

07. Fix Me Up
For a long, long time, this was my mobile ringtone, and certainly one of their catchiest (and bawdiest) songs. Essentially, it’s about being horny and wanting to bung your man, but such is the cheekiness of the lyrics and the band’s delivery of them (Sarah Harding, perhaps construed as the most fun-loving of the band, unsurprisingly takes centre stage here) that the song remains on just the right side of seediness. It’s a funky, funny, enjoyable choon.

06. Control of the Knife
My favourite rendition of this is easily from the Tangled Up tour, wherein Cheryl puts her exquisite dancing talent to good use by taking centre stage. The “trick me” part, which doesn’t feature in the single, is a very ingenious use of Kelis (see also: integrating Rihanna’s Disturbia in Sexy! No No No… in the Out of Control tour). With an intrepid move into the world of reggae and ska, Control of the Knife is a mish-mash of musical flavours, topped off with a great horn solo, showing that, it’s often just as much about the instruments and producers as it is about Girls Aloud themselves.


05. Something Kinda Ooh
Something Kinda Ooh, which receives my vote for sexiest GA music video and has had me repeatedly questioning my sexuality (the silhouettes! The cars! The skimpy outfits!), is easily the best one to dance to on cheesy nights out and in the cheese rooms in Oceana. The adrenaline-pumped bass, the jolly guitar riffs, Nadine Coyle rapping, it all comes together to create what is – and will continue to be – a nightclub favourite. I still get insanely happy when I hear the girls’ voices chanting “I GOT TO HEAT IT UP, GOTTA, GOTTA HEAT IT UP.”

04. Call the Shots
One of my favourite songs to listen to whenever I’m irked with men, I really dig the message of being strong and not giving into men and their damn petty games. The ooh-ing and aah-ing give the song a little added spice, and the backing track wouldn’t be out of place in a 90s disco, which gives the whole thing a wonderfully nostalgic feel. The line “I won’t cry because I’ve stumbled through this far” shows the mature, sensitive side to the band that may not have been as well-exhibited in the past, and the whole package is just a wonderfully bittersweet and elegant affair.

03. Can’t Speak French
“Not that one!” my workmate exclaimed when I revealed my list to her after finally constructed it, for, whilst extremely re-playable and featuring a music video that makes a playful nod to the Marie-Antoinette lifestyle of gorgeous costumes and hedonistic lifestyles, Can’t Speak French is far from being one of the deepest songs ever written. But by keeping it simple, I find Can’t Speak French easy to bop along to and connect with, especially the underlying message that often, it is difficult to convey the depth of our emotions through words, so we let our actions do the talking. Plus Cheryl’s “I gotta let you know” refrain contains what is quite possibly her strongest vocal work; I think it’s absolutely lovely.

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02. Untouchable
When I think about how my initial reaction to hearing this song was “yawn”, I cannot help but cringe. Thankfully, I came to my senses, and saw this song for what it really was: pure poetry. Lyrics-wise, I feel this is Girls Aloud’s most beautiful song. Clocking in at just under seven minutes long, the band take their sweet time with this one, and texturally, it happens to be one of their most ambitious songs as well. But the gamble pays off. Moving, deep, and very, very classy, Untouchable shows that Girls Aloud don’t have to be loud to be brilliant. The tone of the song can be interpreted as sad, but I also get a strange sense of uplift whenever I hear it too, which is the mark of a good piece of art. Plus there is one line in it that never fails to give me shivers – Nadine’s stunning “Without any meaning, we’re just skin and bone, like beautiful robots dancing alone”, which, to me, is like Keats for the 21st century. Sublime.

01. Sexy! No No No…
In a word, complete and utter musicalling genius. Although the music video still disturbs me, I simply cannot resist the sultry, girl-power and downright swagger of this song. The bass and guitar riffs are terrific, funked-up pop music, as is Nicola hollering “from top to bottom I’m a woman, sunshine”, which easily takes my vote for the best delivery of a lyric within the band, though there are countless other lines which I quote on a daily basis, “Did you ever think that loving would be nothing more than walking me home”, “I’ll give you nothing ‘til you show me something”, etc. The lyrics, which are relatively obscure, are generally telling of a woman not giving away her affection, and making a man “chase” her, which, I approve 100% of. The song has no structure to speak off, no chorus, bridge and verse, like the majority of their songs, and for that, it jarred when I first heard it, but on repeat listening, I was as hooked as an England left back to his mobile phone (I kid, Ashley, I kid because I love. Clean sheet against Arsenal on Sunday, yeah?) Topped off with a bass which samples “Hair of the Dog” and tonnes of stringry guitar, Sexy! No No No… is an amazing song, whether it be to dance to, sing to, or feel like a woman to (for other songs that fulfil this latter function, listen to Portishead’s Glory Box), and there will never, ever, be anything like it. Perfection? Hell yes.