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.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Life lessons from cinema #1.

Clueless -

"Sometimes you have to show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think of sex"


Sunday, April 12, 2009

I can show you the world.


Aladdin (Ron Clements & John Musker, 1992)
Utterly timeless and enthralling Disney animation about the poor but rich-hearted "street rat" Aladdin who has to steal foodbits in order to survive, and fall in love with Jasmine, the princess. When he's manipulated by evil advisor Jafar into going into a cave and get trapped there, he finds unexpected salvation in a magic lamp, in it containing a genie that can grant him three wishes.


Pick a frame, any frame from this film, and chances are, it's utterly gorgeous. Painted with rich, saturated desert coloured hues and voiced by a talented cast (especially Robin Williams as the genie, wherein he gets to play to his strengths and has an unashamed blast with his role), as well as some lovely musical numbers, Aladdin brought back lovely memories of my childhood and how I'd watch this film over and over again. A dream.


Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008)
When I was shopping in London with Anahit last Saturday, every time we came across one of those advertising moving-board things, the DVD for Twilight came up. Such a thing actually achieved its aim, for it made me wanna give Hardwicke's movie adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's novel a re-appraisal. So I did, although thankfully the advertisement hadn't brainwashed me into thinking I was watching a good film. Re-viewing it, this time with the brother, just accentuated many of the unintentionally parts I'd spotted in the first film; whether it be Robert Pattinson's drug-addict-like performance, to the less-than-overwhelming CGI effects (and overusage of such). Kristen Stewart actually gives an alright performance, albeit one that is a little heavy on the long pauses, but Pattinson is just so awful. The source material was horribly fanfic-ish, and Hardwicke's direction is not much different; both Meyer and Hardwicke both clearly wanna bung Edward Cullen and be Bella. Thus, Twilight results in being wish-fulfilment on the part of the writer and director more than anything. A load of bungdung.


Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin, 2005)
Forgettable but enjoyable romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as a pair of womanizers who like to crash weddings and then bung the women they meet from them. Wilson and Vaughn have great chemistry, as do Wilson and Rachel McAdams, who plays a woman who makes Wilson want to get to know her, and not just like, her boobs. Her gorgeous smile and pretty face made me root for her throughout. Isla Fisher is also great fun as the clingy girl who lost her bunginity to Vaughn, and hence becomes crazily attached to him. Aside from the actors (Christopher Walken, as the dad of McAdams and Fisher, is also great), the film is pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, lacking in proper plot and geniune larf-out-loud humour, but, as they go, it wasn't too bad.

Låt den rätte komma in / Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Kåre Hedebrant plays Oskar, a 12-year-old who's being bullied at school and is somewhat alienated from both his separated parents, who crosses paths with Lina Leandersson outside on the snowy jungle gym, and forms a slow and unsteady friendship with her, oblivious to the fact that she's a vampire.

Curious film, this. It was appropriately stagey and cinematic in equal measure, with austere backdrops and art direction and overwrought music, and the performances were on the whole strong, particularly Leandersson, who made a mesmerizing vampire with her large eyes and constant stare. But it suffered from not knowing what it wanted to be, whether that be a Swedish Dogme-style film about growing up and finding yourself, or an ouright slasher pic. The violence, when it came, were appropriately scary and shocking, but there was something not quite right about the way they were filmed, such that I wanted to larf. All in all, the positives outweigh the negatives of this film, but I was definitely left wanting.

Camp Rock
(Matthew Diamond, 2008)

Too all you lovely bungs that read my blog...


Friday, April 10, 2009

7 Reasons why you Need to Watch Shameless.

I've just finished watching series 1 of Paul Abbott's Shameless, his critically acclaimed drama-comedy about the working class in Salford, centring on Frank Gallagher, an alcoholic and general waste of space father of six kids. And all I can say is wow. I shall give you 7 reasons why you need to be watching it, but really, there are a lot, lot more.


1. James McAvoy at his most bungtastic. Think he was smokin' in Atonement with his tuxedo, clipped accent and close-up of his blue eyes? Thought he was shaggable in Wanted when he paraded around topless? Thought he looked like a good lay in The Last King of Scotland? (I'll stop now.) In Shameless, he trumps the hotness of any of his other performances. From the first episode and that steamy kiss he shares with Anne-Marie Duff's Fiona to his various car-nicking exploits throughout, he is the epitome of suave, slightly cocky, but never less than completely sincere young geezer, and that is completely and utterly fit.

2. Gerard Kearns' character, 15-year-old Ian Gallagher, is a closet homosexual. In Chatsworth Estate, coming out is not an option. So in series 1, he's secretly having it off with Kash Karib, the Muslim shopkeeper he works for. And although not much is shown in terms of them bunging, the wistful looks exchanged and the rare glimpse of the two kissing is really adorable. Despite their relationship being, you know, adulterous and illegal.

3. Rebecca Ryan is amazing as Debbie Gallagher, the enigmatic and slightly kooky second daughter of the family. Ryan is a really talented young actress (I had the good fortune of seeing her and Skins' Jack O'Connell in last year's Scarborough, a clever piece of theatre that puts a spin on the student-teacher relationship), and she truly makes the character of Debbie a spellbinding one.


4. The humour. Abbott has found comedy in every aspect of life on the Chatsworth Estate and the wry, dry humour means you can't help being drawn in with it and its residents, ugliness and all.

5. The characters. OK, so Frank Gallagher's a complete and utter knob, but everyone else has something about them; Anne-Marie Duff's Fiona is the breadwinner and the one that has bought her five siblings up for the past three years, Philip is "a bit of a gobshite", but a funny one at that, and as mentioned, Debbie and Ian Gallagher and James McAvoy's Steve McBride are awesome.


6. The acting. Class all round, whether it be from the children, Anne-Marie Duff (her large eyes speak volumes and she does this neat little eyebrow raise thing as well), James McAvoy, Maggie O'Neil's slightly-camp turn as agorophibic Sheila or David Threlfall's constantly drunk rambling fool Frank. Duff and McAvoy, who make one of the most stunning real-life couples as well, share a truly tender scene in episode 7 of the series that moved me to tears.


7. HBO are in talks to create an American version. Watch the original so you can complain about how the Americans have bastardized it.

So that is that. Off I go to watch series 2!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A gold star to whoever can guess the film!


Observe This.

As you may have noticed, I have worrying level of obsession with classifications. Like, I really have to know why one episode of Peep Show was rated 18 when the others were all 15s, etc. Anyway, I was at a friend's house on Tuesday when the trailer for Jody Hill's Observe and Report, a police comedy, came on the telly. Running underneath it was the bbfc description, which reads -


Now, is it just me, or would this have been enough to render a film an 18 15 years ago? Also, the trailer for the film was stronger than the film itself! Interesting.

As I said, I'm a bit obsessed with film ratings and the bbfc, so I found this interesting. You, however, might just want me to -


The Apprentice, Episode 3.

Week 3. To date, we've had one of each gender fired, leaving us with 13 people now. This week, Alan Sugar chooses to mix the teams up a bit. But first, the show begins, and we see Lorraine looking quite the horror, without a bra or any make-up on, as she makes her way toward the phone. The contestants are told to go to Lee Valley in East London. No-one has any idea where this is and they faff about the location, as we ladies are treated to a rather lovely view of Philip in a red hoodie.

Turns out Lee Valley Athetics Centre is an elite Olympic training ground, and the location is itself an indication as to what the teams are to do this week. But first, a bit of rejigging. Kimberley and Kate are moved to Empire, and Noorul and Philip go over to Ignite. The task? To create a sports product, market it and make sales. The team that makes the most sales of their product is the winner. They have 2 days to design a prototype and sell it.

Ignite need to pick a leader. Lorraine puts herself forward but no-one pays her any real attention. In the end, Debra is elected project manager and she looks extremely smug, her shockingly blue eyes blinking away. Lorraine is none too happy. Over at Empire, meanwhile, James reckons this week is a "potential banana skin". The Irish fella Ben, bearer of one of the most slappable faces, is clearly a bit too sex-obsessed, and immediately launched into his "sex sells" speech. Back at Ignite, Naomi grabs hold of one of her teammates' legs, as if doing this will create a sports utility. More silly suggestions are thrown round before Philip disregards them, "I want me abs to look good," he declares. He then proceeds to girate randomly whilst his jaws gurn away.

James' team discuss a tricep dip and Ben does a bizarre demonstration that can only be likened to attempting to bung his chair. James then splits his team, putting Ben in charge of design. BINGOBUSTER, they say. Kimberley lol's. Howard suggests "Wingworker" as another name. I lol.

Sexy cello music plays as we are told that it is now 11am. Debbie's team still haven't decided. Philip is still carrying on with his over-physical demonstrations. Naomi suggests an ankle-exerciser of some kind, to which Phil says in his thick Geordie brogue, "We need to get past the foot thing." He's plugging a piece of foam cube that he's scribbled down with biro on his notepad, but on meeting with the experts, they are told that it does nothing for peoples' fitness levels. How difficult is it to find something that hasn't been done before? Ignite ask. 'Tis kind of the point...

Three of the girls go shopping for gym clothes to wear in their photo shoot. They peruse through the footwear section, holding up a nice-looking Adidas pair and another, very ugly pair. Yasmina suddenly has an epiphany: "We've got a fairly good looking guy in the group, why don't we use him?" She pitches this idea to Debbie, also saying that the photoshoot already has one ethnic minority in Mona, and asks if Philip can be in it instead of Noorul, because he's "you know, quite good-looking, and stuff." Phil suppresses a happy grin. Debbie, however, isn't having any of it. "I don't live in fucking Vietnam", she screeches, before making what can only be a speech for the politically correct masses about how anyone can be in the photoshoot, regardless of their nationality. Shifty eyes from Philip.

Empire are told that the product that makes the most sales is the chin up bar. "Not gimmicky enough", Ben says, though the team are told to keep it simple, such as a simple pull-up bar. The message is clear: don't over-complicate things.

2.45pm, and an idea still isn't formed. "The bum ball", Philip says loudly, before moving about again. On the other team, Ben has clearly ignored advice to keep it simple. He wants springs. He wants rubber. He wants everything but the kitchen sink in there. It's going to be a late night, apparently.

Back at the house, everyone on Empire does a hands-in a la Power Rangers. James is last to put his hand in, looking apprehensive. 7am the next day. The Bumball idea has been developed into something called the Body Rocka, a neat little board mounted on a round ball which can exercise most parts of the body. Mona makes lots of love sounds as she finds her way around it. Empire's product is less compact, the Home Multitone; it looks absolutely massive and very clunky, not more 19th century than 21st century. Ben Clarke doesn't see this, however, "I've come up with a bloody great product", he declares. "I've actually shocked myself." James does not seem as happy about it.

Next is pitching their product, to which Lorraine puts herself forward to do it for Ignite. She's quite duff in the trial run, using generic words like "Reassign" and "Innovative" (btw, I'm pretty sure she pronounced innovative wrong, at least, it's completely different from how I pronounce the word), and Debbie looking none too impressed. Lorraine claims you can carry the Body Rocka in your handbag; no you bunging can't! And she also uses the phrase "stable stability." Hmm. Debbie pretty much admits she doesn't think much of Lorraine's pitching skills, admitting that if the product wasn't as strong as it was, she probably wouldn't put Lorraine in charge of the pitch.

Next to give a soundbite is the increasingly self-assured Ben, who reckons he's the best looking geezer on his team. "I have at least graced a gym," he says proudly. Kate tells us that she's "low maintenance on the nail front", before giving a bit of bizarre advice: wearing fake tan means you don't need to bung on foundation. As someone who wears neither, I really wouldn't know.

In the photoshoot, Ben is told to be "a little less QVC." If you ask me, the facial expression he's sporting in the shoot is not dissimilar with that of someone taking a dump. Ben's shot: not that great at all. Over at Ignite's photoshoot, Debbie is driving everyone mad. Yasmina is the one with the camera, but Debbie just has to make her voice heard on everything. "Deborah is not much fun to work with", Yasmina sighs. We can see that! Nick watches silently as Deborah barks away at everyone. Next, Philip sports a navy suit, light blue shirt and red tie. HOT. Lorraine works on her pitch: Dumballs, Dumbells. And Deborah gathers everyone. "C'mon troups," she says sharply, expecting everyone to follow her.

The pitch. Maj chews away on a silver pen. Lorraine speaks as if she's entertaining a particularly dim child. James' team pitch, making the bold and downright incorrect claim that one can "easily" assemble their product. They certainly prove this point when the thing needs assembling twice 'cos it's so clunky. Class. Back to the Body Rocka, Lorraine is so boring that she's inducing Mona to spread her legs for some reason. Paula (a woman who's been somewhat of a non-entity in this episode) and Yasmina bite their lips. Philip, however, is extremely excited. "This is the iPod of fitness products", he says proudly, before the group sing some N*Sync. I say sing, it's more like a cacophony of cats screeching.

James & co head to John Lewis. The two men there look like they're trying extremely hard not to laugh in the faces of Empire. Third pitch round, Lorraine is still as boring as ever. John Lewis asks Ignite what it'll take to get exclusivity of the Body Rocka. No-one's thought about this and they stare at each other confusedly. Finally, Yasmina throws a number in: 20,000 of them. But the soft-spoken bloke is not impressed with such a poor deal. On the other pitch, Ben is lapping it up and shows off his press-up skills and colourful socks in equal measure. "Wee bit 1970s".

The moment of truth, boardroom time. Standing in the waiting room, a lot of the women have their arms crossed. Deborah rolls her mascaraed eyes. In the boardroom, Sir Alan walks in and takes his seat. "Good team leader?", he asks Empire regarding James. Ben doesn't answer, instead, he moves his head non-distinctly. "What does that mean?" Sir Alan asks, mimicking him. Hee. James pipes up unsurprisingly, saying he wasn't happy with the end product. The same question from Sir Alan is asked to Ignite. "Yeah, she was OK", Mona says. Debbie looks unimpressed, like she feels she deserves more.

Ignite are asked what they thought of their pitch. Debbie makes a veiled dig at Lorraine, saying that she gave 110% effort. There's no such thing as 110% effort, Sir Alan snipes, before Phil steps in and defends Lorraine. I thought this was a lovely gesture, especially as her pitch wasn't up to much at all, but by Philip defending her, he prevented everyone else from quickly jumping on the anti-Lorraine bandwagon.

Numbers time. From Powerhouse, Empire received no orders, Ignite, 80. From Totally Fitness, Empire received no orders, Ignite, 100. Not looking too good for James' team. Finally, John Lewis. They made 500 orders for the Home Multione (heaven knows why), and of Ignite's product, they order... 10,000. That was a heart in mouth time for Ignite, as Nick had sadistically taken his time in revealing the figures. As a prize to Ignite for winning, they are rewarded a personal concert from Katharine Jenkins in Kenwood House. Ignite are very, very happy.

As for Empire, it's squeaky bum time for all involved. "The Empire doesn't strike back," Sir Alan notes wryly. The team go to the dingy Bridge Cafe, wherein they mourn the "upside down telly with a couple of springs hanging down from it", also known as the Home Multitone. At the same time, Katharine Jenkins is serenading Ignite. Yasmina seems to be holding hands with another female teammate. Licky licky subplot in The Apprentice, maybe? Who cares, 'cos Philip is wearing a V-neck and looking damn bungable in doing so, whilst Lorraine looks a bit like Tina Fey.

In the waiting room, Empire sit about as the tense xylophone tune plays the same pattern of 8 note repeatedly. Back in the boardroom, and Alan Sugar says he "doesn't know what to call it really." Grimace. James looks like he's sharting (Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly: when you're trying to fart, but end up... ahem). James wastes no time in getting the blame game started, blaming Ben. Kim looks like the sight of the box makes her physically ill. Sir Alan Sugar takes his time, going round the table and laying into each of the team. To Howard (looks like a cross between Tom Hollander with Jonathan Rhys-Myers' eyes), who has been noticeably absent this week, he says "sitting on the fence can get you a sore arse." This is why I love The Apprentice! Turns out that the best thing Powerhouse thought of Empire's pitch was that they took their product away at the end. Ha!

Maj turns on James. James turns on Maj, "he was just here for the ride." It's all very entertaining, semi-car crash TV. James talks and talks some more. Finally, the decision is made, and, joining James in the boardroom will be Ben and Maj. The latter is described by Margaret as "hanging around like a spare part." Sir Alan notes than Ben hasn't had a nice thing to say about anybody else (a fact epitomized on The Apprentice: You're Fired when the charming Irishman chats away about how "obese" he thinks the rest of his team are.) Maj and Ben both think James should go, but the garrulous man isn't going without a fight, accusing Ben of making a bad product due to not developing it and accusing Maj of "hanging around in the periphery." Maj's rebuttal to this is that he wasn't delegated any large enough roles and Ben does a more than forceful and articulate job of sticking up for himself. Lots of shouting ensues, resulting in Ben telling James to "shut up for a second" and the 32-year-old James on the verge of tears.

In the end, Maj is fired for not contributing enough. "You were so far out the door you don't know", James is told. Apparently it was Margaret that got him to stay. I think this was a bit of a mistake, for, whilst Maj wasn't portrayed to be one of the hardest workers, he did get all his jobs done, and efficiently too. Maj looks gutted to leave, but Sir Alan has always made it clear that The Apprentice is "not here to carry passengers."

Back at the house, the consensus is that Ben should have gone. Howard finally makes some worthwhile input, which is that Ben was far too preoccupied with the whole sex sells thing. Debbie tells Empire brashly "your failure is my success." The door opens and James and Ben come in. Cue lots of excited screaming from most of the party, though Philip, sat on the couch, looks gutted that his dear friend Maj has been bunged off.

Monday, April 06, 2009

She had colgate on her teeth and Reebok classics on his feet.

Am loving M.I.A.'s style, even when she was pregnant-

Screening Log (30/03/09 - 05/04/09)

The Deep End (Scott McGehee and David Siegel, 2001)
Tilda Swinton stars as Margaret Hall, a woman who's son Beau goes off the ropes in adolescence, and gets mixed up with the unsavoury character of Josh Lucas' Darby Reese. When Reese's dead body shows up outside her house, Swinton assumes her son has murdered him and does everything she can to protect her son. This is easier said than done when she's being blackmailed by Goran Visnjic, who has video evidence of her son bunging Darby, and demands $50,000 for his and his partner's silence.

The Deep End is a remake of Max Ophüls's 1949 outing The Reckless Moment, which I watched exactly 15 months ago, and compared to the original, it's darker and more adult, which doesn't necessarily work to its advantage, but the sexual tension between Swinton and Visnjic, particularly as blackmailer begins to fall for blackmailee, is absolutely delicious. 

For their performances and their chemistry alone, The Deep End is worth watching.

Duplicity (Tony Gilroy, 2009)
An initially confusing but generally very entertaining comedy starring Clive Owen and Julia Roberts as an ex MI6 and an ex-CIA worker, respectively, both of which are highly skilled in the art of double-crossing, and decide to collaborate to double cross both Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti's companies, and make a profit in the region of $40 million for themselves. 

However, such is the nature of deceit that they frequently end up mistrusting each other, a little glitch which threatens to ruin the whole operation.

Set chiefly in New York but with flashbacks filmed in the Bahamas, Manhattan and Rome, Duplicity sure is pretty to look at, particularly coupled with its two leads. Julia Roberts, at 41, still looks stunning, and Clive Owen was very, very fit in it! 

The film itself is probably a bit too convoluted for its own good, but I had a lot of fun with it, whether it be in the leads' performances, James Newton Howard's sexy score which had double bass and celli in abundance, the witty script from Michael Clayton writer/director Tony Gilroy, or the final rug-pull of a twist that I truly didn't see coming.

The Shipping News (Lasse Hallström, 2001)
Based on Brokeback Mountain writer Annie Proulx's novel, this film follows Kevin Spacey, who, having been widowed by Cate Blanchett's flighty wife, moves to Newfoundland with his estranged aunt Judi Dench, and sets up shop there, writing a column called The Shipping News, reconnecting with his emotionally scarred daughter and embarking on a tentative romance with Julianne Moore's also-widow-and-single-parent. 

The film was better than I thought it'd be - Spacey doesn't annoy me as much as he has done in other roles, Julianne Moore is always amazing and the overall message of redemption is nice, but it felt a bit underdone in some scenes and horrifically overwrought in others, not least the flashback of Judi Dench's character's disturbing secret. A bit of a mixed bag, this film.

The Final Curtain (Patrick Harkins, 2002)
omgthisfilmissoshitpleasedon'twasteyourtimewithit. kthanxbai.

Fever Pitch (David Hornby, 1997)
Based on Nick Hornby's autobiographical novel and penned by him as well, Fever Pitch follows Colin Firth's Paul, an Arsenal FC-obsessed schoolteacher as he finds himself at a crossroads when he begins courting fellow teacher Ruth Gemmell - football means more to him than life itself and whilst she's at first willing to be initiated into the world of Highbury, referees and last-minute equalisers, she wants him to see that there is more to life than football, particularly when she gets pregnant, putting questions on the two's future together.

I connected with this film from start to finish, from a scene of a young Paul going to his first football match and realising that he'd found his raison d'etre, to the scenes of joyous celebrating on the streets of North London as Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield.

Fever Pitch isn't a perfect film, I concede - chances are you'll "get it" more if you're English/follow football/live in London, Colin Firth doesn't seem to know whether his character is to groan or gurn in most scenes, the repeated tonal modulations from comedic to dramatic left the film a little lopsided and the acting from some of the schoolkids was suspect, but it captures the mindset of yer typical British football fan perfectly; Nick Hornby, being a dedicated Gooner himself, knows what he's talking about.

The panning scene which follows the footie fans as they advance to their next match, accompanied by Baba O Riley by The Who, is, as far as Bung's concerened, one of the best usages of music in film, bar none. Cinematic gold.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

This is so much bung!

Spike Jonze is back. First he wowed us with the trailer for his long-in-the-making adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. Now is reporting that he's directing a 10-15 minute short film with Kanye West. It apparently will not be a video for West's "See You In My Nightmares" track off 808's & Heartbreak, but the song will be featured. Further plot details and release information are being kept under wraps, but whatever it turns out to be, color me excited. Jonze has directed some of the most iconic music videos of the last two decades (Weezer's "Buddy Holly", Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice," and Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet" immediately spring to mind.) And, as the eyebrow-raising video for "Flashing Lights" proved, the two share a bizarre sort of creative chemistry. Let's just hope there's no bondage in this one. source

I for one am very excited about this. Though I'm excited every time I see the words "Kanye" and "West", so there you go.

1. What's your favourite nail polish colour?
2. Who is your favourite Simpson?
3. How is your Saturday spent, typically?
4. How many hours of lectures/classes do you have a week?
5. Who do you think you're more likely to turn out like - your mum or your dad?

In other news, Emily Blunt did a guest voice on s20e9 of The Simpsons, and I truly can't get enough of her English accent. My #3 girlcrush? Oh yes.

Friday, April 03, 2009

I love these more than I love life itself.


How sad it is, then, that I can't ever wear 'em because my eyesight is so poor I can't wear contacts? Boo.

The Inbetweeners is awesome.


Season 2 of Damon Beesley & Iain Morris' The Inbetweeners hit E4 last night, and I'd heard nothing but good things about season 1. So, before getting started on the new series, I thought I'd watch the episodes from last year, about a group of 4 lads, not sad enough to hang out with the geeks, but not cool enough to be considered popular, hence, The Inbetweeners.

First Day begins with the uprooting of Will, a posh boy whose father has left his mother and can hence no longer afford the private school fees. Once at the comp his square blazer, the oversized badge pinned to him, and his socially inept ways waste him no time in making him enemies and meaning that people are embarrassed to be seen with him in public. However, when he notices a classmate Simon getting ridiculed in public when he gets an erection, Will tags along after him and such begins an unlikely friendship with misadventure, booze, and many, many embarrassments.


In the gang is also a Russell Howard lookalike Jay, a "borderline sex pest" who has just one thing on his mind - "chasing muff" (he has an arsenal of unoriginal "she can come on my face"-type lines that I hear every day from certain lads at Uni), and a slightly dopey fruit-machine addict named Neil, who's dad may or may not be gay. The four boys try their luck buying alcohol in a pub (to no avail), bunking off school, and going to Thorpe Park, to hilarious consequences. The show reaches painful levels of amusement - such as when Will, drunk off his head, abuses Neil's dad, calling him a "bumder" (amalgamation of "bender" and "bumboy", or when Will accidentally hits a wheelchair bound woman with a frisbee, or when the door of Simon's crap yellow car falls off. If Skins is about the lot that get into nightclubs and get stoned, The Inbetweeners captures the lives of those who wait in the cold outside, trying to get in. The hip soundtrack (Kate Nash's Foundations, 1234 by Feist, Chelsea Dagger etc) adds to the authentic feel of the show and Greg Davis is on fire as the psychotic Head of Sixth Mr Gilbert, evoking all too familiar memories of the trouble I used to get into with my Head of Sixth. It's terrifically astute and biting British comedy that encapsulates, in every cringey detail, the full hardship of growing up. Can't wait for more!

Wednesdays = my favourite day for TV!


The Simpsons, Season 20, Episode 13: Gone Maggie Gone.

The Solar Eclipse hits the world, and, as Kent Brockman declares, "A solar eclipse is like a woman breast-feeding in a restaurant - it's free, it's beautiful, but in no circumstances should you look at it." Springfrield residents are recommended to look at it through a Camera Obscura, but Homer being Homer, breaks his before they can get started and Marge being Marge, donates her to him to keep him happy. Unfortunately, she decides straight away that she wants to look at the Solar Eclipse, and in erroneously looking straight at it, goes blind. Without her sight, Homer is assigned all the housely chores, all of which he neglects, leading to their home to be infested by rats. On his way back from buying poison, Homer crashes their car and in rowing back across the water, he abandons Maggie, who gets taken in by the local nunnery, who refuse to give her back to her incompetent father. It's up to Lisa to get her little sister back by infiltrating the nunnery and solving a stage of convoluted clues to unearth a Da Vinci Code-style secret.


I deeply enjoyed this episode of The Simpsons. Although there were no real belly-laughs, you could tell quite a bit of thought had gone into the The Da Vinci Code parodying. There were nods to other films too - Ratatouille and The Seven Year Itch, namely, as well as witty one liners - "if you're happy and you know it that's a sin." The funniest part was easily when an Ed Begley solar powered car stopped right in front of a solar powered train... which also stopped. Heehee.