Wednesday, 18 February 2015

CineMonday - Kingsman

The advisement for this film said strong, bloody violence and strong language and that really is not wrong. I have no particular objection to swearing and even a lot can be used in an effective way (think the opening of Four Weddings as an example), but in this case was almost constant throughout the film which meant that to me, anyway, it lost it's impact and I felt it became a really lazy way of showing the difference between an inner city London working class Eggsy, and the wealthy, upper-class characters. The violence was also quite a lot stronger than I had anticipated, and some of the scenes, notably the set piece in the church, draw a few gasps from the audience.
And I think this is partly to do with the advertising pitching of the film. The poster features Colin Firth prominently, and he is in a lot of the trailer, the film looks like it might be a throw back to Bond films of the 60's and 70's, and the audience at the screening I went to, definitely had a much more advanced age than I think the film is actually aimed at. I probably wouldn't recommend it to my mum, which is a shame as overall it is good a looking (no-one rocks a suit and glasses like Colin Firth!) because of the violence and constant swearing.
This out of the way, I think there is a lot to like in the film. It is very stylish, and if you are a fan of those 60's/70's spy films, there is a lot to enjoy with many nods to Bond, Man from U.N.C.L.E., Danger Man, The Avengers etc. There are several great set pieces and a lot of well-paced, and towards the end frenetic, action sequences which meant I was never bored whilst watching it. There are also enough laughs
I liked Gazelle, the bladed side-kick to the main villain, and I especially liked that she wasn't given any kind of tragic back story, she was just a badass villain. I would have liked to have seen the character of Roxy (who is following a similar to journey to the lead character of Eggsy) developed more, and I especially liked the fact that she was never set up to be a romantic interest for the lead.
However, I spent quite a lot of the movie cringing whenever Samuel L. Jackson's character, Valentine, was on screen. His slightly camp, lisping villain made me feel very uncomfortable, didn't we move on from that stereotype a long time ago? Apparently not.
I also think the end of film with a Swedish Princess offering herself as a reward for the lead was very unnecessary. I can understand why it was put in, after all Bond always gets The Girl, right? However, the film several times says that it is about subverting stereotypes and this ending didn't sit well with me.

This film also features Mark Strong doing a strange American/Scottish accent.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Midweek Game - Arkham Horror

Arkham Horror. I've played this game several times, and it never goes well. I want to like it a great deal, which is partly due to the setting,  and partly due to it being a co-op game. Whilst I enjoy trying to beat my fellow gamers, sometimes working together to beat a game is fun.

I picked Jenny, who is the character I usually go for. I prefer playing women and I like to think of her a bit like an American, and female,  Lord Peter Whimsey a dilettante detective. And smart. she starts with a skill and a spell and money isn't a problem for her.

The problem that I find every time is that the game is very complex, and is difficult to grasp for non or newer gamers. Heck, it's difficult to grasp for more experienced ones. So difficult that if you google, you can find that people have made game play flowcharts to help keep you on track. My friend had traded a game for a lot of AH expansions and they came with a handy laminated flowchart and cheat sheet instructions.

It's never a good sign when you need to draw a flowchart. It's also a game that's played best with fewer players. I think we had 7 players and it just seemed interminable. Each round was drawn out that by the time it came around to you, it was hard to remember which phase you were in.
Now that my friend has the expansions he's determined to learn and really enjoy the game, but next time i think we would play it with 4 players max, to speed up.

Oh, and for the record, we lost!    

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

CineMonday - Theory of Everything

I though that this was a very good looking film, particularly Cambridge which has never looked so lovely during the (tame!) May Balls sequence and i felt that Redmayne was very convincing as Hawking with a great physical performance as well as capturing the intelligence and humour.

 But i found the dialogue to be a bit clunky, and no I don't mean because of the electronic speech! There was a point early on where Jane, played by Felicity Jones asks what a viva is, and she's supposed to be a potential Cambridge doctoral candidate! I assume it was put in for an overseas audience, but it felt a bit off.
The film does rewrite history (and physics!) for the sake of making a better story by essentially skirting over Hawking's second marriage.
I loved the subtle costume and hair changes, particularly for Jones, as the years go by taking us from the 60's through to the 90's.
I saw this is a completely packed screen on an early Saturday evening (i booked the very last seat!) and i think it's doing very well here, and I can see this doing well awards-wise.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Swim time

So in preparation for starting swimming seriously (well semi-seriously!) I have ordered an mp3 player from Decathlon. Unfortunately it's not due to be delivered to the store until the 12th, which seems like a really long time.

I went for this one which seems like good value, although it doesn't have a lap counter or timer. I guess if this turns out to be something i enjoy, i can always upgrade.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year, new start

It's that time of year when people make resolutions, and break them fairly quickly.
I am not immune to this, especially as there is so much that I want to change about myself and my life.

This past year saw a lot of changes, new job, new house and a new town. It was quite stressful, although it had a lot of positivity with it.

2015 I want to do more for me. I have signed up to do jantastic, starting off at just 2 workouts a week. 1 "run" and 1 swim. It seems low, but I am doing precisely nothing at the moment, and two seems like an achievable number to do a week for the first month, and hopefully build upon it in the following months.

It's not something that is going to be easy for me, I am very overweight and quite frankly very lazy. I never used to be, I used to love taking part on physical competitions despite the fact that I would often be a foot shorter than other competitors.I don't really know what happened, but I want that back!

For my running i am going to go back to the NHS couch to 5km plan, and I'm planning on outdoor running. It's dark at the moment, I know, but the area in which i live has loads of footpaths which are well lit.

For swimming, which i enjoy, but do find boring, i want to get a waterproof mp3 player. I could listen to tunes, or podcasts and combine two things at once. 

For both I need some way of measuring how far i have gone, and that is something that i need to look into.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Welcome to Night Vale Live

So on Sunday I headed up to my home city of Birmingham and went to the Glee club to see the Live "Welcome to Night Vale" show. I was surprised about the number of youngsters in the queue with their parents. Apparently the podcast has a high number of young female listeners!

The show started off with a set from The Weather - Mary Epworth. To be honest, i could have done without this. I'm sure she's very good with a band, but her solo guitar playing seemed hesitant at times and she did a song using backing track from an ipad. I couldn't help but think that if you aren't going to have your band with you, then maybe you need to pick different songs from your set to play.

Anyway. On to the show!

Jeffrey Cranor as the mc, who gave a humorous recounting of healthy and safely and rocked an awesome bow-tie. 

Cecil Baldwin as Cecil! You can tell that not only is he an excellent voice actor, but has also done a lot of theatre. He knew how to play with the audience and with his gestures and body brought us into the story further.

And then we have Joseph Fink as Intern Joe. He looks completely different to how I imagined, and it was great to have him on stage.

Then Jeffrey came back on to do a turn as "Dave" the voice of American Express.

Kate Jones as Michelle Nguyen was a lot of fun, and the eye rolls add so much!

Desiree Burch as Pamela Winchell, because we need emergency press conferences about Librarians.

The entire cast, including The Weather by Mary Epworth.

The show was funny, and interactive. I thought more people would cosplay though. I saw a Kevin and a few Cecils. There were also a lot of people wearing Night Vale t-shirts, which violates the gig-going code.

Overall it was a great experience, the cast clearly loving the experience and the feedback from the crowd. I know they stopped around outside to take pictures and sign posters for the young fans. 

I'd be interested in seeing Baldwin in another role, as he is so closely tied to Night Vale but is clearly a very good actor.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Ticket to Game

One of my favourite games to play with non-gamers is Ticket to Ride. The rules are simple and easy to pick up, there is a good mixture of chance and strategy and the board and pieces are of a high quality. I have got my mum and my sister, who only play cluedo and monopoly, to play this and it went to down very well.

I was really pleased when we got this out for games night, and here is my view of the board. I'm black, and I think i was in 3rd place at this point in the game.

Then the whiskey was bough out. Really delicious with a massive ball for an ice cube. Yes, jokes were made. Yes, i am really about 13 years old.

Here we are a bit further into the game. It looks like I'm quite a long way behind, but the beauty of this game is that you can be building up your routes and carriages and then suddenly place them and leap into the lead! I think I came 2nd or 3rd overall.