Sunday, August 30, 2009

Film review: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (Quentin Tarantino, 2009).

It opens with a beautiful Spanish guitar spin on Beethoven's Für Elise by Morricone and ends with an epic a cinematic shoot-out as you're likely to see. In between, we have plucky female plotting, scalping of Nazi soldiers, close-ups of strudels, feet fondling and a whole babel of languages. It can only be Tarantino.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Making my own jewelry is fun!

Yesterday, me and Anahit were in London, and one of the things we did was visit the rather spectacular shop The Bead Shop. I spent over £20 on beads, and am now fully enjoying my new Summer hobby - making jewelry! So expect an annoying lot of spam of my DIY. :D

Earrings: -

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

'Tis someone very, very special's birthday today.


All these people would also like to say Happy Birthday as well.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How to turn a 15 into a 12A.

From the bbfc entry for Angels and Demons -

This film was originally shown to the BBFC in an unfinished version. The BBFC advised the company that the film was likely to receive a '15' classification but that the requested '12A' certificate could be achieved by making reductions in four scenes. In particular the BBFC suggested that sight of blood splattering onto a character's face, sight of a character screaming in pain as he burns, sight of a wound being injected and sight of a character self-immolating and burning should all be reduced. When the finished version of the film was submitted, all these reductions had been made satisfactorily and the film was classified '12A'.

So there you go.

This reminds me a bit of 2006 actually, when The Da Vinci Code came out and it got a 12A, but had to be cut. However, in The Da Vinci Code, it wasn't blood, but the music that scared the censors, something truly unprecedented:

The BBFC told executives at Sony, who are distributing the film in Britain, that unless significant changes were made to the film's audio content they would end up with a restrictive 15 certificate, which would have had a serious impact on the film's box office prospects.

A move to turn down a film's certification on the basis of its soundtrack is virtually unheard of. Normally, film producers have to cut only visual scenes to get the certification they require.

"It was when the movie was viewed again with the soundtrack that the problems emerged," a studio source said. "Everyone was full of praise for the score but the BBFC felt that the way it was being used to build up the tension was simply too much for very young children.

"The BBFC also thought that the film had a very high 'crunch factor'. You didn't just see the fight scenes, you heard the bones break."

Aware that anything other than a 12A certificate would have undermined the film's commercial prospects, Sony was forced to moderate the audio content for the finished version of the film. Last week, it was finally granted the desired 12A certificate by the board.

A BBFC spokesman said: "We advised Sony that, as things stood, the film would receive a 15 certificate unless changes were made. A good score is obviously there to build up the tension. But in this case, we felt it was making things too tense for a very young audience.

''The sound mix was also accentuating the violence to a degree which was unacceptable for a young audience."

"You do have to wonder if just turning down the sound is going to help matters that much," he said. "Even after the sound has been adjusted, you are still left with the problem of the violent imagery and it's this kind of imagery which really worries people."

Sue Palmer, an expert on child development and the author of Toxic Childhood, said: "It is an interesting response by the BBFC. The soundtrack is another dimension which reinforces what we see without us being very aware of it. However, children will still be seeing scenes of violence that they cannot deal with.

"We seem to assume that children mature at a faster rate and can handle more explicit material, but they can't. They are as emotionally vulnerable as they ever were."


Personally, whilst I know the film made a lot of money and the 12A/PG-13 ratings played a part in that, I would have probably enjoyed it a bungload more had I not watched it with 10 year old chavs in the audience. So I'm quite curious as to what the 15-rated version was like. For now though, enjoy the amusing warning -

01. Who is your favourite American president of all time?
02. Did you watch the Eurovision song contest this year? If not, why? If yes, who was your fave?
03. What is the most ridiculous statement you've put in exam?


04. Unfunniest "funny" film?
05. (self-centred question) What's the first adjective that comes to mind when you think of me? (be honest, I won't take offence.) :P


Friday, May 15, 2009

Bung's Playlist for the week.

... And why they've been tickling my aural senses.

Tambourine - Eve
Rather than revising diligently like I'm meant to be, I've been watching all the episodes of season three of Skins instead. Tambourine was played in episode 2, where on Cook's birthday, he gatecrashes a "classy" boat-party. Tambourine plays as Effy dances sultrily and Freddie watches, pining for her. Awesome song with a great beat, despite "Shake your tambourine and catch yourself a whistle" being repeated quite a few times and there not being any real meaning. Just embrace the catchy and dance along.

Good Girls Go Bad - Cobra Starship ft. Leighton Meester
Cobra Starship are responsible for many of my guilty pleasure listens (Hollaback Boy, Billie Jean), but this one actually has a semblance of sounding like a song. It could very well be the song that Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass lives his life by, so, how apt that they've gotten Leighton Meester, star of Gossip Girl and my number 1 girl crush to duet with. And together, they are sugar, spice and all things nice. Simple, addictive fun, with the potential to be the Summer song of 2009.

Dragon Queen - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

My mouth you're touching
Your mouth is running
No loving for nothing
Nobody knock my body out

Strange, sexy, surreal.

Beautiful - Eminem
It seems awfully out of character for Eminem to release a song with this title, but he has done, and it's my favourite song from an otherwise disappointing Relapse. Personally, I feel it's one of Eminem's more accessible songs, and his most humane by far. The rapping is perfect and the chorus just ebbs melancholy, a combination last achieved by Kanye West and Chris Martin on... you've got it, Homecoming.

I Feel It All - Feist
It's been over a week since the last episode of The Inbetweeners season 2 has aired, and Bung is already feeling withdrawal symptoms. So, to make up for it, I've taken to saying "snatch" and "clunge" in a manner that would do Jay proud, as well as doing goonish things (as if I needed an excuse for that, hah!) In addition to this, I've also been listening to the "theme" from the show, that is, the song who's intro is played repeatedly in the background without them actually playing Feist's singing.
Four Women on One Man - Nina Simone
I had a nap one afternoon and had my iPod sat in the dock, playing away in the background. I woke up to Four Women, and... wow. It's one of the deepest, most poetic songs I've ever heard, as Nina adopts the voice of four different women in four verses, each of them having their own soliloquy. The song demands and displays the need for equality, both gender and racial, as well as the underlying want of freedom in our souls. Majestic.

My Love - The Bird and the Bee
I got into The Bird and the Bee after hearing their song "Fucking Boyfriend" on the Forgetting Sarah Marshall soundtrack and falling in love (the song does get played in the film, but in the background in the nightclub scene so blink and you miss it). The band really know about the many faces of love, and, whilst My Face celebrates the beauty of it for the most part, it also recognises the sadness involved, "sad clown". There is also one line of transcendence in the
song - "I'm not afraid of all the reasons why we shouldn't try", which I just love, love, love.


Bubbles - Dizzee Rascal
Bung hasn't been clubbing for over two weeks now, and she's missing the not-so-duclet tunes of her homeboy Raskit. As with my two Dizzee Rascal favourites Dance wiv Me and Fix Up Look Sharp, Bubbles is a terrifically cockney song, encompassing what it's like to be a black lad growing up in a crime-ridden area of London. Dizzee loves embracing the minutiae, and in this song he'll tell you how much his trainers cost. It's like the "99 Problems" of the L-D-N.

Mil Besos - Patty Griffin
Another love song to wrap up this eclectic playlist, this one an eligiac Spanish tribute what Bung can only guess was a lost love.
Te he de seguir amando,
te he de seguir besando
hasta volverte loca.
hasta que me devuelvas
el corazn que en besos
yo te deje en la boca...

So they're the nine songs that I've listened to this week obsessively! How about you?


That is all.



10 Least Favourite Oscar Nominated Performances of this Millenium.

Some of them bland, some of them unintentionally hilarious. All, in my eyes, overrated.

01. George Clooney, Syriana.
02. Ruby Dee, American Gangster.
03. Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road.
04. Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine.
05. Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland.
06. Keisha Castle-Hughes, Whale Rider.
07. Naomi Watts, 21 Grams.
08. Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream.
09. Alan Alda, The Aviator.
10. Kate Winslet, The Reader.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Actually watching the DVD extras.

A conversation with good ol' Lukebung, my fellow cinephile over watching the DVD extras - or a lack thereof, coupled with dire, dire boredom from revising Java, got me curious as to exactly what was lurking on the second disc of Pan's Labyrinth SE DVD that I'd been given for my birthday. And there's a tonne of goodies, from Mercedes' Lullaby hummed/played on a variety of instruments, the film trailer, director's notebook and an interview for The Guardian. The two most visually features were the storyboards and film comparison, as well as a montage of the various posters for Pan's Labyrinth, and I thought I'd share 'em:





Sunday, May 10, 2009

Life lessons from cinema #2.

“Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. I’m not hearing any heart. Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love - well, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.”

- Meet Joe Black.

Friday, May 08, 2009

"Isla Fisher. Yes or no?"

This was the content of a text I just received, and, rather than give a meagre 160-character text back, I thought I'd blog about the lovely lady.

33 years old, pint-sized Isla Fisher is noticable for her large brown eyes and her stunning auburn hair. She is married to Borat/Ali G actor Sacha Baron Cohen and her dimiutive frame is accentuated when standing next to him in all his tallness, and the two make an adorable couple. Fisher could easily pass for someone half her age, such is her petiteness and innocent look. The two performances that I remember her best for are as psychotic Gloria Cleary in Wedding Crashers, whom Vince Vaughn misguidedly takes the virginity of - and then spends the rest of his time hiding from her, and as Becky Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic. The Shopholic novels are amongst my favourite in the chicklit genre, and I was extremely defensive when I first saw the trailer and saw how Americanized the film was, but, once I sat down and enjoyed the film with my friend in Bristol, I came to recognise that this was not so much a makeover as a complete reinvention of the Shopaholic franchise, and Fisher, a key part in that. The film takes Becky Bloomwood's hedonistic shopaholic to new levels, but, in the casting agents choosing Fisher as the lead, you could never totally hate Becky, no matter how selfish her actions are. Fisher is an absolute star in the film, exhibiting her comic timing wonderfully. Her delivery during the "Yes... I did google" is classic.

Isla Fisher has not really been tested with any overly-strenuous roles, but give her time. I like her, her bubbly charm and her screen persona very much.

And to close, I shall thank Paul Haine for the inspiration for this entry, and close with a rather lovely quote from her:
"I love acting, love it. It's the greatest fun in the world. I've always had no trouble feeling extremely grateful. So even though, comparatively, I wasn't doing so well, I thought I was on top of the world."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Maybe we could start again.


Awww. ILU Philip Taylor!

And... tomorrow, I shall try to actually, y'know *write* something. It's just, revision, ya know...

"A joke."

He's got a mouth on him, but c'mon, so purdy!


Everything I love's being knocked out today.

*shakes head*

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Apprentice, Episode 6

As my good friend, fellow cinephile and moral compass Luke pointed out, The Apprentice has become mandatory hangover watching on a Thursday morning. And this week, on recovering from a (not so) heavy night of boozing (I iz a lightweight) last night, today was no different!


Episode 6
Philip has as sexy little tattoo on his left arm. We see it when he picks up the phone to be told that their next meeting point with Alan Sugar is in West London. They go to Chiswick Auction House, Hounslow, where Sir Alan tells them he's given both teams 10 objects. Their task is to find out the value of them and sell them by 6pm of the same day. But first, the teams are mixed a bit: Ignite take Kate, and Empire take Noorul. Philip is made Project Manager of Ignite, Ben Project Manager of Empire.

Some of the gems in the 10 objects are vintage black women's heels, and a lush Indian rug worth over £200+. There is also a first edition copy of Octopussy by Ian Fleming. Empire's PM, 22-year-old Ben Clarke, wastes no time bigging himself up, "I am a natural born leader." If you say so, mate. At Empire, meanwhile, Philip asks if he and Lorraine can put water under the bridge. "If I'm being a jerk, tell us so I can listen," he offers. Almost immediately, we see him getting fired up, as Lorraine is spending time pouring over rug catalogues, rightly believing their carpet to be one of the gems, but Philip gets irritated, thinking it's a dead end and a waste of time.

As one of the aspiring Apprentices point out, this is one of the more difficult challenges. It involves valuation of the objects, finding the market for the objects, locating the market, and finally, selling it to them. Philip thinks the skeleton is the most valuable object, and they go try a few places, unsuccessfully. At Ignite, Ben is getting agitated in a bookstore. The valuers need time in trying to estimate the books' value, and time is not something the team has. As they walk out, Ben curses darkly under his breath and Debra says matter-of-factly, "They're book people, they wanna waste your time."

Philip is more and more fixated on the skeleton, but Lorraine still hasn't lost hope on the rug, asking if she can make a phone call, only for her suggestion to be disregarded by Philip. Empire have found success at last, getting Octopussy sold for £100. The music from WALL·E plays.

Believing that they are targeting Med students, Philip, Mona and Lorraine wheel a skeleton into a bar near King's College Medical School, and luck should be a lady for them, because they find a bloke willing to part with £160 for it. Elsewhere, Kate flirts her way into selling a crappy self-help book for three quid, and they also get £35 for a signed poster of Frank Lampard (I want!). The jellied eels are less of a success, and they have to let them go for £30.

Meanwhile, we are repeatedly being told that the Indian rug is the most valuable object, so naturally, one just knows that both sides are going to sell it for tuppence. Philip, resolutely refusing to wise up to its worth, carries it through an East End market, and it looks like he and Mona are holding a dead body. Margaret, unable to contain her disdain, voices her disgust - "This is the most stupid activity they have engaged in."

Having rightly getting the skeleton valued at £150+, Ben and Noorul try to flog it to a cash-strapped (and conspicuously old looking) student for £60. Meanwhile, Yasmina and James are roaming the streets of North London trying to sell the rug, only to be told, "Don't waste your time in this area." We're given a hint of Philip's folly when Empire are told "It's a bit expensive for this store." Philip, by the way, is still not having any success with the carpet, and is now just trying to sell it passers by. Margaret mutters "I'm speechless." The display of incompetence in front of her obviously does not bode well for her soul.

There's also a little thing known as a toiletchair to sell. Ben's ponders if they'd make more money just selling it as a chair. "It's very unusual for three smartly dressed people to try and get me to buy a commode chair," admits the pawn shop owner. Ben opines whether they should just give someone cash to take the crapper (literally) off their hands.

Debra's starting to get pissed off by the fact that Yasmina and James only had three things to sell, whereas she, Noorul and Ben have seven. "She's just a bit destructive," mutters Yasmina darkly. Empire have five items still to sell. "Find some nutcase and sell them all to him for a quid," Ben says, of the shoes, which contains a pair worth £100+. Ben's huffing and puffing and not blowing an awful lot down, whilst Debra looks unimpressed and Noorul darts about in the background.

Ignite are still burdened with their rug, as are Empire. In the end, Empire are ripped off £55 for it, from a man who clearly knows that it's worth more than that. Ignite sell theirs to a man in the street for £50. After doing so, Lorraine feels even stronger than ever about the true worth of the rug, and Philip, suddenly realising his mistake, gets all defensive.

Back in the boardroom, Sir Alan Sugar makes the point that in this challenge, the devil is in the detail. Some things, he says, are not much to look at, but are worth quite a bit. Like himself. Ben complains that the task was too difficult and Philip is described as "totally professional" by his teammates, and Alan Sugar ribs him for his Tyne side pronunciation of the word "book" though Lorraine brings up the point that she wanted to dedicate more time on valuing the rug. Margaret notes that she's like the Cassandra of the Team - get it right and nobody notices. Sir Alan asks Philip why her suggestions were ignored, and the Geordie fumbles around giving an answer.

But it's the numbers that matter, and Ignite come out better, a loss of £34 compared to Empire's net loss of £169. Ignite didn't necessarily win, they just didn't lose as hard as Empire did. I'll concede that the teams only had a day to sell a lotta shit, but both teams weren't good at all. And hence, Ignite are sent on their way for an evening of truffle tasting, but not before Sir Alan tells ominously Philip "your mind is like concrete", suggesting, perhaps, for the sexy Englishman to be more open to other people's input in future. During the truffle tasting, btw, we catch glimpses of everyone kissing Lorraine's butt now that it turns out she was right alone. "No one deserves this more than Lorraine," Philip says cheerfully. He's changed his tune!

Back in the boardroom, Ben is resolute that he's going nowhere. Yasmina wonders where they went wrong. Sir Alan Sugar tells them: "Anyone with half a brain cell would have known to sit down and work out what everything was worth first," he barks. They've all miserably failed. Alan Sugar isn't impressed that they put more priority on getting everything sold rather than getting the gems sold for their true value. Debra complains (she's good at complaining) that Yasmina and James had only three objects in their van. "I sold more than they did put together," she asserts, but Nick isn't convinced, making the point that Ben deserves credit on quite a few of the sales. She challenges Nick arrogantly, which, needless to say, raises a lot of eyebrows. Debra wants credit for the sale of the James Bond book as she set up the meeting, but Nick is resolute that "it's closing the deal that matters," in which case, Ben did the talking. Debra's having none of it, snapping at Nick in a dangerously rude way, and Sir Alan is none too impressed.

Unable to put up with any more bickering, Sir Alan puts the question to Ben of who he's going to bring back into the boardroom with him. Ben talks and talks, finally picking Noorul, and James. No wait, he says, changing his mind, I'll have Debra instead. Debra is "well up for" a scrap with PM Ben in the boardroom, and I do think it is unfair for her to be bought back as, for bitchy as she is, she was very proactive on the task.

So, the three of them sit uncomfortably again in front of Sralan, Margaret and Nick. Ben claims "I have the potential to win this". Ben and Noorul argue. Ben gets extremely heated in debate, and Debra says simply, "You were a shoddy project manager." Ben accuses her of being corrosive. She bites back, "There's a difference between being corrosive and being honest, mate," though one just feels that they won't be "mates" for much longer. She makes the point that Ben burdened himself with way too many objects and I agree, I think Yasmina and James should have been give an extra object. Noorul can't make a very good case for himself and ends of just calling Ben volatile and arrogant, which, whilst true, does nothing to help his case. Ben snaps back, but Noorul keeps interrupting. 'Tis all very snarky and entertaining.


Ben, pleading his case to Sir Alan, claims to be a "grafter" and a "good team leader", though the catty look on Debra's face tells otherwise. Noorul gets desperate and brings Ben's desire to be in a magazine shootout into it. Sralan says his bit. Firstly, he puts Debra in her place, before firing Noorul, deservedly. He was a terrible Apprentice, always hovering about in the background and sitting on the fence. There have been idiotic mistakes aplenty by many of the contestants on this show, but at least they did so in trying. Noorul didn't really ever try, just lingered about in the background, and was lucky to get this far.

Personally, I would have loved this task. There was just so much to it, and I would have gotten totally stuck in and out there. Though saying that, I'd probably have been even crapper than any of the contestants in practice.

By the way, next week is revision week and last night was my last night on the piss until exams end on 27th May. The reason I'm telling you this is not because I'm going on a hiatus, but that as I won't be being a drunken loon during evenings any more, my Apprentice reports should be up sooner to the actual broadcast of the show. But not next week's, I'm watching the football then.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Soundtracks are a Godsend for learning languages.

I quit French over four years ago and what I do get of the language is from solely French cinema, but reading the tracklisting to the soundtracks can help too. In this case, I was looking at the tune names of Alexandre Desplat's score to Coco avant Chanel:

1. L’abandon / The Abandonment
2. Chez Chanel / At Chanel's Place
3. Coco & Boy
4. Royallieu
5. Couture / Sewing
6. Avenue du Bois / Wood(ed?) Avenue
7. Premier baiser / First (To) Kiss
8. Gabrielle Bonheur / Gabrielle Happiness
9. L’Hippodrome / The Hippodrome
10. Arthur Capel (
11. Confession de Balsan / Confession of Balsan
12. Coco reve de Paris / Coco Dream of Paris
13. L’Atelier (01:48)/ The Workshop
14. Un seul Amour / One Love
15. Le Chagrin de Coco / Coco's Sorrow
16. Casino de Deauville / Deauville's Casino
17. Little Black Baby (Scott Joplin) (01:37)
18. Qui qu’a vu Coco (Baumaine-Blondelet / Deransart) / Who's Seen Coco (


Britain's Got Talent, Episode 3

I know, I know, it came on on Satuday, so I'm four days late. But this was the episode with the man with knives, so I couldn't not watch, now could I?

We begin in London, where 49-year-old Clare Morton comes on stage and says simply, "I'm here to sing a song." The backing track to Fame comes on and she begins "dancing" around the stage in a ridiculously bad fashion. Once she's due to start singing, things get even worse - she reads the first few lines off a piece of paper and not any of the lyrics are on tune. Needless to say, it's a no. Next is Lee the Trolley pusher, who thinks he can make an interesting act of trolleys. He doesn't. Then we have a girl on the German wheel. Piers buzzes, not overly impressed with her, but Simon challenges him, "I'll pay you £1000 to get into that wheel", which he does, but doesn't do anything. Piers Morgan bottles it, but then again so does Simon from giving him money, saying the idea was that Piers only got money if he spun.

We then go to Manchester, where last year's winner, George Samson, was found. "Actress, dancer and model" (bit kind an introduction, that) Kelly Brook joins the threesome of judges. After a poor start with four girls unsuccessfully trying to integrate baton twirling and jazz saxophone, we meet 10-year-old Holly. Kitted out in a pink tutu and looking very much like yer stereotypical wannabe-ballerina, she says "I'd love to dance in front of the queen because I've never met her before." When she started dancing, I wasn't bowled over, and, just as a bored Simon Cowell was about to press his buzzer, Holly opens her mouth and an amazing voice comes out, singing "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady. Amanda Holden mouths the words along, enraptured, and it's a resounding yes from all involved, including the audience. We then see a short montage of some of the other successful acts, ones I would have liked to have watched in more detail.

Next, we're introduced to DJ Talent, a bloke who works for an engineering company during the day, and shadows as a DJ during the night. His rapping/DJ-ing is... amateurish, to say the least, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, which is probably why he gets a yes; it couldn't be for his rhyming skills - rapping "Talent" with "Talent" is cheating.

After that is probably the most terrifying thing I've seen on pre-watershed TV (aside, perhaps, from Hilary Duff's attempts to act) - a man that balances himself on two knives and inserts a third one into his throat. OMG. It was terribly tense watching, especially as his arms were shaking and one just didn't feel entirely safe for him. When his body falls down into the knife, Piers chooses this exact moment to press his buzzer, which evokes screams from Amanda, and one wonders if he's injured himself. As a matter of fact, he's fine, but his act really isn't, and he's told to go on.

We move to a lighter note - The Synth Sisters, five 12-13 year old girls who've barely passed grade 1 piano and are trying to make an act out of their "skills." The keyboard playing was turd and their "synchronized" arm movements made it even more lol-tacular. Continuing with the unintended hilarity, is an ex-forklift driver, wannabe drag act. He claims he wants to show the world that he isn't like other drag acts that just mime the words, which is all very well, but his singing is atrocious. So, so bad, that he starts getting booed, and Simon Cowell comments, "Drag acts are supposed to look and sound like women, and you were neither." Piers and Kelly were entertained by the naffness and give him two yeses, but Amanda and Simon are having none of it.

Does anyone know why Kelly Brook was even introduced in the first place? I mean yeah, she did look very pretty, I'll give her that, but in having her on, the acts needed three yeses, so they needed a 75% success rate to get through as opposed to 66.666666666667%, which seems a bit o' a disadvantage to me.

Anyway, we go back to London for the last noteorthy act, which is Diversity from Essex. In them are three or four sets of brothers, as well as four lads that aren't related. As their name suggests, it's an ecclectic crew - University students, IT technicians, Secondary School kids, etc, but they are all uniformed by their love of dance. The music starts with a extract from Martin Luther King's I have a Dream speech, and the dance starts. And... WOW. It's awesome, a fusion of every type of dance out there - street, hip hop, rhythm, and everyone is so together and co-ordinates. It's better than the dances in Step Up 2, and that's saying something! Utterly, utterly transcendent, with even a slow bit parodying the Chariots of Fire scene. And thus, we are ended on a high for another episode of Britain's Got Talent.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Film review: THE DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID (Luis Buñuel, 1964)

"She's more than just a servant, she's a rarity among women" is noted of Jeanne Moreau's Céléstine, a Parisian maid who comes to work for the eccentric Normandy family conprising of Monsieur Rabour, his daughter Madame Monteil and her husband Monsieur Rabour. 

She soon discovers the traits of each family member, from Monsieur Rabour's predilection for women in boots (and seeing them walk in said boots), to Monsier Monteil's womanizing with the maids, resulting from his wife finding sex too painful, and thus not enjoying it.


I'm halfway through my Luis Buñuel marathon and so far, not one of his films haven't revolved around, or at least had as an integral factor of it, sex. Le journal d'une femme de chambre is no different. Adapted from Jean Renoir's 1946 version, Buñuel and long time writing partner Jean-Claude Carrière clearly have a great time writing the dialogue for this film. 

Monsieur Rabour, in trying to deny his feelings of attractions for Céléstine, reasons more himself, than his wife, "She's from Paris. Who knows what diseases she has?". Ironically, when he later throws himself at her, she gets out of sleeping him by dodging him and exclaiming "I've got symphilis!". It's this combination of crude sex jokes and laugh-out-loud visual comedy (including a clumsy priest trying to kick a door down) that really brings out the humour as well as sexual politics in 30s French society.


However, Le journal d'une femme de chambre isn't principally a comedy. It's rather difficult to pinpoint exactly what genre it is, for, half way through the film, after 45 or so minutes of amusing vignettes, things turn sour when, just after she has quit her job due to the master of the house dying, it is revealed that someone else has died - Little Claire, the girl that Céléstine grew to care for. And not only that, she was raped and murdered. 

Céléstine, suspecting her fellow servant Joseph, an unrefined and fascist so-and-so of being the perpetrator, regains her post and seduces him in an attempt to get a confession out of him. And, once again, we re-enter a world where, as with Belle de jour and That Obscure Object of Affection, women must rely on their "other gifts" to get through in life.

As Céléstine Jeanne Moreau is a revelation. She was 36 when the film was made and, despite her skin looking a bit craggy, she is still very beautiful, her brunette hair tidy and stylish and her wide eyes watching carefully as she enters the microcosm of the French bourgeoisie, taking everything in unflinchingly. She's a strong, brave lady who believes that the ends justifies the means and isn't afraid to stick up for herself, no matter what the class/gender/wealth of the person who challenges her, and Moreau embodies the brave, ahead of her time character of Céléstine perfectly. 

As is now standard of Mr. Buñuel's films, the women come out a lot better than the men do - the man on the house, out of frustation of "only" being able to shag his supposedly frigid wife twice a week, fooled about with one of his ex-maids, and as such, had to pay her off 1500 Francs once she's knocked up. 

Céléstine refuses to give it up quite as easily.


Four out of the eight Luis Buñuel DVDs watched, and I'm still yet to find a stinker. Le journal d'une femme de chambre is far, far away from being a stinker - it's a deliciously witty attack on Western society that is as post-modern as it gets, and centres around one of the sassiest and most intriguing women in cinema. An absolute must.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

8 Days of Buñuel, Day 3: That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Buñuel, 1977)

That Obscure Object of Desire is a film about shagging. In it, aging wealthy man Mathieu (Fernando  Rey) has his eye turned by Conchita, his young, inexperienced maid. He tries to kiss her one night, and the next day, she's gone. Three months later, post-random hold-up, he sees her again and is again, besotted, plying her with cakes, coffee, frequent visits and sweet nothings. She in return gives him a coy kiss now and then, but resolutely refuses to give him what it is he wants the most: a good lay.

Hence, the film, wherein he tells the people in his train cabin about his long and treacherous blue-balled time with her, is a journey of the sexual politics between rich older man and poor young woman, who has to survive on her sexual prowess. In doing so, she's conniving, cold, mercenary, mean, and a massive cocktease, but, as demonstrated by the closing scenes, perhaps she was right to act like a complete cow.

Two different actresses play Conchita, one for the day and one for the night (drawing subconcious links with yesterday's title, Belle de jour, perhaps), and such is Mathieu's physical longing for Conchita that it is interesting that there are two women playing her, implying, perhaps, that he is so enamored that he doesn't even realise what's going on right in front of him. 

I thought the observations of the film were absolutely amazing, way ahead of their time; despite being made over 30 years ago, this film knows so much about men, women and our carnal desires. On Conchita refusing to lose her virginity, stating that he'd no longer love/respect her if she gave it up, Mathieu purrs suggestively "there are ways to pleasure a man without having sex", but Conchita, looking disgusted at the request, turns around and ignores him, without giving him so much as a handjob. 

My kinda girl, and my kinda movie. Boom.


What God had in mind when he invented the term "Girlcrush"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

8 Days of Buñuel, Day 2: Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)

Séverine Serizy is a beautiful and elegant French housewife, married to esteemed doctor, but suffers from both sexually frigidity and frustration, the two sleeping in different beds and, after a year of marriage, Séverine still a virgin. One day, she hears about the local brothels and after a hesitant start, she takes up a job working as a prostitute there, under the alias of Belle de jour.


The Typical Overactor in a Buñuel Movie here is Pierre Clémenti as Marcel, a young spy who becomes besotted with Séverine leading to terrible consequences. Even though he's stunning to look at in a dirty sort of way, the scene in which he confronts Séverine contained some of the most camp acting I've seen, especially when he "span around in anger." Ho ho ho. However, this performer is probably my only serious foible with Belle de jour, which is otherwise an ethereal, sexy masterpiece. Catherine Deneuve is the epitome of icy fragility; kitted out in designer labels and haute couture, there is still a wild longing in her eyes, one that she cannot convey to her peers, and becomes unleashed only in the bedroom. From the very first scene, where husband and wife trot down a pathway led by two men on a horse and cart, only for the husband to command the two drivers to tie the wife up and rape her, we realise that Séverine dreams of sexual encounters wild and bizarre, yet cannot act them out. Here is a woman who has rape fantasies, yet can't even force herself to touch her husband. Dodgy, but her stint in the high-class brothel soon helps her act out her fantasies and release her inner inhibitions. And in every one of her (mis)adventures, Deneuve's perfect face is the mask of nuance and subtlety.

The blur between fantasy and reality is forever prevalent throughout the film, so much so that the various flashbacks to Séverine's childhood, random short episodic scenes make one question what is real and what is fiction. The ending remains a mystery but I have my own theories about it, and here is a film that says more about human desires and female repression than anything I see in the women's mags of today. Good work.

PS. I have a rather beautiful Belle je jour postcard that came free with the DVD, and I'm feeling kind so if anyone wants it, e-mail me your address and I'll post it to you. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

8 Days of Buñuel - The Young One (Luis Buñuel, 1960)

The film begins with Traver, a man on the run from the law due to allegations that he's raped a woman, rowing to the shore, set to the spiritual song Sinner Man, sung by Leon Bibb. This being the 60s in the American South, him being a black man and the person crying rape being a white woman, the truth, that he in fact is innocent, therefore has little importance.

He reaches an Island which has only two inhabitants - thirteen year old Evvie, an uneducated and unruly child who is a bit too dim for her own good regarding the motives of the other inhabitant - gruff and "manly" beekeeper Miller, who used to work with her grandad before he dies at the start of the film.

On noticing that she can look quite pretty when she tidies herself up, Miller suddenly realises he wants to bung the young girl, developing boobs and all. And hence, we enter the murky territory of Luis Buñuel's film about racism and child abuse, adapted from Peter Matthiessen's short story "Travellin' Man".

The Young One is probably the least Buñuelesque film of his that I've seen. The storytelling is linear and straightforward, it's one of his two films set in English, plus the themes - of male animosity, personal grudges, racism et al feel more at home in a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood film. That said, one element prevalent in most of his films and present here is the tendency for at least one of the cast members to over-act hilariously.

Here, it is Key Meersman playing the blossoming girl Evalyn. Evvie herself is a likeable enough character - she, unlike her neighbour, is not racist, and treats Traver with respect and admiration. She is also a lamentably naive character, not putting up much of a fight when the sexually frustrated brute Miller comes to her bedside and takes her bunginity. That said, she is, as Kanye West might describe as be one of those girls who "what I love most she had so much soul", and as such, Evvie deserved a better performance than the bland and plain line-reading one Meersman gives.

The two male leads are significantly stronger, particularly Bernie Hamilton as the afflicted and much-maligned jazz clarinet who has been abused and ridiculed, but refuses to lose his pride.


In terms of the two key themes of the film - child abuse and racism, Buñuel does a far better job in his depiction of the latter than the former. People back then really were as single-minded as he shows them to be, and it's no coincidence that the three characters in the film that can see above skin colour - Evvie, the Reverend and Traver himself, are portrayed as the good guys. And, even then, prejudice still runs in the veins of the white people, albeit unwillingly - Evvie refers to the clarinet as a liquorice stick, suggesting that, if bought up in racist surroundings, making such comments might be an intrinsic thing.

The paedophilia issue is dealt with woefully. I fully expect the character of Miller to get his full comeuppance for taking advantage of an unknowing 13-year-old by dying, but I was disappointed. Whilst the "say no to racism" message is clear, the stance against paedophilia is a bit more dubious. "She's a woman," says Miller defensively, suggesting he has no repentance for debasing Evvie.

And for that, more than anything else wrong with the film, the highest grade I can give it, for all its strong dramatic moments and intelligent dialogue, is...


Why does something bad make me feel so good?


I blame you for this, Luke! :P

Down to ride till the very end, is me and my boyfriend.

“But they made up their minds if all roads were
blind They wouldn’t give up ‘till they died.”


I'm guessing it's not me you want then, Dev?

Spotted: D and F, in North London, canoodling.



Still, they made a stunning on-screen duo, and are equally cute together off-screen. And the age gap of 5 years is just precious.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Britain's Got Talent, Episode 2.

I should/would have blogged about last week's episode, but I missed the start of it, so for me, Britain's Got Talent starts todaybung.

Continuing with their pursuit of talent across the UK, Simon, Amanda and Piers hit Cardiff, where the first act doesn't fail to make an impact. They are The Sing Souls, three 16-17 girls, led by an unbearably arrogant little madam who believes that her trio are easily better than Sugababes and Pussycat Dolls. So, they come on-stage, wherein he leader smugly tells Simon that they could "easily outsell them [The Spice Girls]", which raises eyebrows on the panel as well as the audience. The music begins, and out comes some of the most painfully out-of-tune "singing" I've heard this side of 2009. The other two are barely singing at all, just moving their lips, as if scared that the leader will twat them if they don't make an effort. I get a massive amount of grim enjoyment at watching hubris take over as the "girlgroup" get three buzzes and Simon lays into the lead singer. She, unperturbed, retorts with "You wanna come up here and sing?" she spits, to a resounding round of boos. "You're grounded," Amanda says, trying to lift the mood, but Lil' Miss Confidence doesn't give in. "Bite me." Simon, getting bored of this farce, decides it's high time to put her in her place, "That sounded like three cats being dragged up the motorway". My face is in pain from laughing so much. Finally, someone in the group other than the Loudmouthed one speaks up. "You can be a bit rude sometimes," she says shakily. Simon accepts this, "You should swap places with Lippy", he says, before the Lippy in question prances off the stage, her minions trailing behind her miserably. Absolute class car-crash telly for evil!Emmabung. :)

We then get Claire and Canad, this wannabe Kate & Gin act who can't do any dog tricks, Jem Stride, a man who tried to play music through his hands but just produce a bunch of fart sounds and Zad van Veen, someone who set fire to their clothes. We really do have talent(!)

Next, Birmingham, and the low quality continues - we see the worst ventriloquist ever before a geezer with a Darth Vader costume comes on. He tells Ant & Dec that he's developed an act for the character, who he sees as the epitome of cool. Amanda humours him, but the crowd seem enthusiastic. His act begins with him waving a light sabre about as Simon rolls his eyes and then presses buzz. The guy hurriedly asks for Ant & Dec to change the track, and Billie Jean comes on, to which he dances a bit randomly to it. Simon is not impressed, "You're behaving like a child," is his verdict, and, on behalf of common sense he declares a no. Amanda, however, found it "weirdly enjoyable" and says yes, as does Piers. One can't help but feel they did it just to piss Simon off. Next, Tribute, a bunch of kids thinking they were a Queen tribute act. Uh... no, though again, it's a case of Amanda and Piers outweighing Simon. And a third time, as BlueJam, an ok-ish amateur group of 17-19 year old lads playing instruments. Again, Simon hates it, but Piers is a 100% yes, as is Amanda. Simon looks more pissed off than ever,

Speaking of Queen, Under Pressure bungs on, as 39-year-old saxophonist Julian Smith comes on. Simon's bad mood seems to be making him even harsher than usual and he looks none too impressed as Julian walks onto the stage. After introducing himself, he has to plug his sax into the amp, which only exacerbates Cowell's foul mood. He plays quite well to some cheesy muzak, but ends on a high. The performance moves Amanda to tears. Simon, for once, is impressed. "Some people have just got it," he says, cracking a smile at long last.

We then get a 43-year-old bus driver with her pet parrot. She lives alone, apparently. Shocker. Simon asks her if she had the parrot as an egg, and she replies, "I don't think so, sweetie." The sweetie bit evokes ooohs from the audience. Get her! Anyway, the backing music to Take on Me by Aha plays as she reads the lyrics off a piece of paper. She's come prepared. The idea is that her parrot Harry is to repeat her, but he's having none of that and just sits there instead. She repeats the lyrics, but by now the instrumental's at the chorus. Her weak voice, coupled with her own nerves, bring a lot of embarrassment and jeering from the audience. Finally, she decides to do damage limitation and just disappear. "I'm going now", she says. Probably best.

We then see some other shoddy Human and animal acts - Paws for Thought results in them setting fire to the stage, and there's also Snakey Sue, which was just nasty.

Then we get a true rarity - 48-year-old dad of two Peter Coglan from Stafford, a drag act. He's been doing it for 26 years. "Are you married?" Simon asks, barely able to conceal his incredulity. Anyway, Kiss Kiss by Holly Valance comes on the speakers, and... the white bathrobe that Coglan had been wearing comes off. And... he's dressed like Valance in her Kiss Kiss video, ie, bikini on, with his flab out for all to see. Srsly, my birthday cake almost came out the wrong orifice when that happened; I was this close to chundering. Simon Cowell quite rightly brands it "the lowest form of entertainment", but Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan once again, let the side down, saying the act was eccentric and they'd like to see more of it. Coglan is chuffed that he's gotten two yeses, saying that his two sons are very proud of him. Funny that, 'cos if he were my dad, I'd have left the UK long, long ago!

Back to Wales, and there's a dance act with some over-smiley girls. Simon gives a bizarre compliment to one of 'em - "one of the prettiest girls I've seen in my life." This pisses off her mates something awful, ha.

But then we come to the highlight of the night - 12-year-old Shaheen. We're told a bit about him, and as soon as the words "single mother" are said I start switching off, sob story alert. He tells the audience that he's going to sing Valerie by Amy Winehouse, and does OK, up until the point where SImon waves for the music to be cut. A hushed silence runs through. Simon asks him if sings anything else, and Shaheen, after a pause, says yes, Who's Lovin' You by Michael Jackson. And his rendition of the song is AMAZING, he hits the high note with precision and power and completely embodies the beauty and pure emotion of the song. It was astounding, and gets three deserved yeses. My only foible was the pseudo-heartbreaking piano music that accompanied his audition as well as a HSM song when he got through. Dodge.

Looking forward to next week! Perhaps I should enter as a Kanye West tribute act? (

Happy Birthday to Me.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Jonas Brothers are Hardcore.



The Apprentice: Episode 4.

"They're here to compete for a job with a six figure salary," we're reminded as footage of the the 12 remaining contestants and the three sacked contestants going on escalators and walking across London with serious looks on their faces fill our screen. They meet up with Sir Alan in Kew Gardens to be briefed on this week's challenge, which is to design, market and sell a beauty/skincare product with a natural ingredient. The teams are shuffled about a bit - Debra, Jasmina and Paula bung over to Empire and Kim and Howard bung over to Ignite. The team leaders are appointed - Paula for Empire, and Noorul, who Sir Alan notes hasn't done much up 'til now - for Ignite.

Empire are extremely pleased with their team, noting that "there are a few weaklings on the other team", and stating that they have the best possible team. You kind of just know from there that hubris is going to bite them in the backside. They go down to Poole, Dorset, where there's a massive Lush complex for them do so some fancy fragrance work. Over at Ignite, meanwhile, Howard tells Philip (yum) that "You wear more make-up than most of the girls", to which the tall Geordie can only grin sheepishly.

The thinking process is a lot more speedy for the two teams this week than it was last, and methinks that's down to the challenge being quite a bit more exciting. Ignite decide to make bubble bath and soap, with their vital ingredient as honey, whereas Empire decide on the same products, but using seaweed instead. Both teams have to extract their natural ingredient, and various clumsy antics from the hapless bunch ensue.

Next comes to mixing of fragrances to make their product, and herein lies Empire's massive fault. Jasmina and Paula sniff at a range of smells and decide they like the smell of cedarwood, but put down sandalwood. The difference? Oh, about 5 times the cost. This mistake is exacerbated when the girls bung in far more than needed of sandalwood into their mixture, racking up fragrance costs of about 700 quid. "How much was spent?" is asked to Paula, and she says airily, "oh, about a fiver." When a watching Nick can't contain his disgust at the horrific expenditure any longer, he drops the bombshell to Empire. To which Jasmina says, "shit". Which is not far removed from what their mixture looks like too.

Anyway, the mistake was made and Empire know that the only thing they can do now is damage limitation, which they do fairly well - having had the soap poured out into moulds, packaged etc, they hit Portobello Market in Notting Hill where all the rah-Chelsea residents would be more than happy to pay £3 for a green block. Ben, meanwhile, is at Bond Street Station trying to make sales, to no avail - people just dodge him as they get off the escalator. Hee.


Ignite's products aren't selling quite as well - the honey bit in the centre of the glue bar looks horribly drippy and puts lots of people off buying it. The end of the day is approaching and sitting on a table in Camden Lock, Ignite still have over 120 products to haul, so they ask Noorul if they can flog them for a quid. Noorul is hesitant and tells them to wait for a bit, to which Philip gets angry and shouts at Noorul down the phone in an undecipherable Tyneside brogue. "What part of that didn't he understand?" he mutters darkly. I wonder, Philip.

Anyway, Noorul's delaying tactics go to nothing as, in the last hour Ignite are forced to sell their products at three for a pound, leading to them eventually getting sold out. I must say, Noorul made an absolutely clueless Project Manager; he looked utterly confused from start to finish, had terrible selling skills and couldn't get his team together at any point. His choice of location was also a bit dodge; Paula's team picked the better spot by far, so much so that her team were able to up the price toward the end because their product was selling so well. Furthermore, though I was initially wary of their murky green-looking thing, I must say I'd far much rather have that on my body that Noorul's team's product, which looks like bar of earwax mixed with piss.

Boardroom time, and Sir Alan asks Ignite whether or not Noorul was a good PM. "I enjoyed working with Noorul," they say evasively. Margaret, who had been watching their team, smirks cattily, knowing otherwise. Next, the same question to Empire regarding Paula. The girls give a positive (albeit tentatively so) response, but Ben wastes no time in complaining, and doing a lot of it. "I didn't want you to read off half the Magna Carta," Sir Alan says, waving him off.

Anyway, number crunching time. Ignite made a profit of £493.97, and Empire, though taking in over £1000 worth of revenue, end up making a loss due to their horrendous oversight on the costing of raw materials front. The devil is in the details! Nick, who had clearly noted their mistake from the start but decided to leave it up to them to fix it, takes a grim amount of glee in telling them that they would have won the task had they used cedarwood as was the plan.

Despite Noorul being a pretty duff team leader (Howard, for all his smugness, is right when he says this was the Team's win, not Noorul's), Ignite win the challenge and they are treated to a session of learning how to make sushi + sake. "Who's he gonna sack-e?" Philip asks goofily, to a resounding groan. He's fit though.

Meanwhile, Paula has decided to bring Jasmina and Ben into the boardroom with her, as she assigned them in charge of costings. Ben is not having any of it, "I did outstandingly on sales," he declares, before blaming Paula for sandalwoodgate. Jasmina, too, turns on Paula, which is wily move as it is really her error that cost them the win. But it pays off, because after some pondering, Sir Alan tells Jasmina she's staying, but that she'll have to be PM again. It's Paula who goes, and she seems genuinely upset about it.'Tis a shame actually, for I'd never seen much from Paula up until today and she seemed like an asset in many ways: creative, could motivate the team, positive thinker, etc. But, she couldn't do basic sums, and in the end, that cost her.


Back at the house, Mona is in tears to see that Paula has gone, and Jasmina retells how she turned on Paula with what seems like pride mixed with ponderence. But, that's The Apprentice for you; no time to make friends when you wanna win.