Sunday, 18 May 2008

Rags to Ritchies

As Mrs. Ritchie returns to the fold with another groin-grabbingly gruesome attempt to manipulate current trends of music to stave off retirement for another year, little is being said about her erstwhile husband’s floundering film career.

Guy Ritchie shot to fame with his rough’n’tumble attempts to capture the caricature elements of London’s seedy underbelly but was quickly shunned when he dealt with existentialism and guns (Revolver) and his wife and….well his wife (Swept Away).

I am going to be honest and express a like of his early work but Revolver was so fucking convoluted that I rented it to watch it a second time as soon as it came out and still thought it was wank. Thank God, come October Ritchie will return to the formula that made him famous with London mob thriller RocknRolla and he seems to be ticking all the right boxes.

‘Street-smart’ actually features in the wikipedia description of lead One-Two (300’s scenery chewer Gerard Butler) and will be more of a return to Nick Moran (who, I hear you cry) and The Stath (Snatch). However, here is a negative for all you Ritchie long stays – no Statham. The seething, balding cocke-r-ney has got a clash of schedule and was unable to take up a role in his long-time collaborators next piece.

Never fear though, because Ritchie has tapped into the limitless potential being displayed in HBO’s award-winning,
critics-baiting crime thriller The Wire and pulled out Idris Elba to play One-Two’s accomplice Mumbles.

If you are saying ‘who?’ log-out right bloody now, walk to HMV pick up Series 1-4 of
The Wire, lock yourself in a cabinet with a DVD player and don’t come out until you are done. In the biting-crime series Elba plays gang leader Stringer Bell – an uncompromising, towering enforcer who could do a solid job in Ritchie’s character-laden setting.

Thandie Newton – who was good in Crash and…well she was good in Crash – will play the obligatory love interest. Add to that Tom Wilkinson as declining mobster Lenny Cole, Matt King (Peep Show’s Super Hans) in a peripheral role and an as-yet-unnamed part for Jeremy Piven (Entourage’s Avi) and you’ve got one top cast.

The plot is essentially about oligarchic imposition on the British property-market – not your traditional gangster fare but an increasingly real undercurrent of modern crime drama. Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises
gave a bleak view of the Russian mob in London and if Ritchie can save from the cartoon scenes, flip-flopping twists about whether or not Jason Statham is actually made up of part OutKast part Sopranos and we could be looking at a return to form. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself but this sounds like it could be good.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

If You Don't Know It...It's News To You

Kaplinsky’s move to Five has been greeted as a success, netting a cool million viewers and biting the other big boys before 6 o’clock even rolls round. The fact that it worked out at a million is quite sweet, as it means that Nat Queen Cold could furnish each viewer with a quid from her brand-spanking new pay packet without leaving anyone out. That’s not to say she doesn’t deserve a celebrity salary but the whole thing feels so forced.

There is a dressed down feel to the new 5pm news feast that precedes the second of Five’s coups from BBC One in Gurning Antipode…Neighbours and it’s all capture in the trailer that is heart wrenchingly horrible.


Kaplinsky, who is just ‘hanging out’ in her casual clothes like you do when you’re a bloody news reader, promising to give things a great big kick and give Five news a more ‘human feel’.

This ‘human feel’ element is somewhat ironic against a script more flaccid than a Blackpool flasher’s stick of rock and so many robotic gestures by the primped and preened newscaster you can’t help but feel like she’s popping and locking rather than telling viewers about ‘big important’ news before giving them a bloody pat on the head and a lollipop.

The importance being placed on getting people – let’s call them ‘civilians’ – to give their two cents is a murky debate about who should dictate the news but I think Five are the right people to be pushing it. Let’s face it, Five are the step-child of terrestrial TV, adopted (by those with aerials that could get Saturn TV if it existed) without much fanfare a decade ago and they have been tugging at the laces of the bigger channels for years now.

Amid the ‘documentaries’ about over-eaters, kids with three faces and enough porn ‘exposes’ to make Stringfellow blush, there isn’t much room for proper authoritative, fist-on-desk news and so open it up. More polls, more votes, less war and politics and all that malarkey that just gets in the way of sport anyway.

Have rotating hosts: Kaplinsky, Hangus the Monkey, Kilroy, David Dickinson, anyone who can read a telly prompter, all lounging about in their pants if we are going to make this thing as causal as possible. Have them fielding calls from all ends of the country on any sodding thing the person who paid the £1.50 to call in can be bothered to talk about. I don’t want a more ‘human feel’, I want my news to be a glorified Live & Kicking phone in.

I am sure that this will be a continued success – the existing news not my proposal – and so I am willing to admit that maybe people do have a place in news but if you greet me with ‘I’m Natasha’ when reading the news, all I am going to think is when ‘when’s the real news on?’

Saturday, 9 February 2008

You’re Shit. But Apparently Not Aware of It

Football’s a funny old game. Requiring physical application that really doesn’t have a home in the job market, unless kicking microwaves down the aisles of Argos becomes common practice, which seems likely, and one that could make you richer than the King of Swaziland. All this and you don’t even need the mental capacity to know that melted’ isn’t a type of cheese.

However, I am not here to write a scathing polemic on the money in football or the plans to move a game abroad per season…mainly because I don’t really know what ‘polemic’ means and also because I aim to keep this brief.

What I am attacking is this; the fact that every bloody person you ever meet is, was or could have been a professional footballer. This is something that comes achingly obvious the more football circles you swim in and I know you’re thinking don’t fuck with fire and then complain when it burns you with its orangey-arrogance but why?

We are groomed and grown to think that we could do what those on the telly-box do week-in, week-out, if we just had half a chance. We stand and bellow near supremacist insults at our own players when they don’t perform because we can do fifty-two keep ups with a flat ball in our garden.

What this cognisance sense of skill does is inevitably lead to six-a-side matches being taken over by those with delusions of grandeur. The now sluggish or unfit but with a mental perception that they could somehow still figure in Fabio Capello’s plans for World Cup 2010. However, the chances of boarding that plane to South Africa stumble with hackneyed phrases such as ‘give-and-go son’ or ‘deliver!’ being bellowed across the astro-turf like a field marshal on the verge of a trench circa The Somme 1916.

The relative ease with which football can be played means that everyone can play. In a socialist ideal it is something of an ideal sport, where the prerequisite could be as crude as ‘have legs’. However, if six-a-sides are to remain footloose and fancy free then would the ultra-competitive types remember this isn’t a game of life and death….it’s an hour on a Thursday night.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Since when did ITV stand for Inventive TV?

Now I am not defending past indiscretions – the thought of Love Island causes bile to pulse through otherwise clear arteries – but for some reason ITV has begun taking risks with their programming and it is oddly refreshing. ITV has now got Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach and Thank God You’re Here propping up what was a flagging timetable that comprised of:

19:00 – 20:00 Corrie
In tonight’s episode, somebody's stolen a cake from the corner shop and Rita's gone fucking mental. Elsewhere the shadow of working-class Manchester is forgotten for a trivial pursuit involving a greyhound. Is someone pregnant? Is someone else not? Kevin Webster turns green and eviscerates the cafĂ© with his mighty fists.

20:00 – 20:30 Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Celebrity Chefs vs. Richard and Judy Edition IX (Repeat)
Chris Tarrant oversees Gordon Ramsey try to cook all his answers, while Richard and Judy’s phone-a-friend comprises of the last contestant on ‘You Say, We Pay’, before the phone crises hit. They incorrectly answer the £100 and are publicly flogged.

20:30 – 21:00 Corrie
Exciting conclusion of the previous hour. Nobody’s pregnant. The cake was in fact a conman who stole himself for the insurance money.

And then News.

But now, they have actually backed themselves and even with the skyward groans that met the unveiling of Echo Beach – like Home & Away set in Margate or Jason Donovan maudling through obscurity with stilted interest – but the accompanying Moving Wallpaper is mildly titillating. If only for it’s premise.

Ben Miller, who also starred in Thank God You're Here , plays a self-involved Brent-esque producer charged with making Echo Beach. It’s, like, well clever. He has to keep the show interesting, while fighting his own ego and the sanity of those around him. Despite obvious allusions to Extras without Gervais' gurning stylings, it’s carried strongly by Miller's pompous lead and a host of recognisables furraging in the background.

The awkward comedy of Moving Wallpaper even makes the tail-gating Echo Beach bearable if only to spot the various pointers from the show that proceeded it. Not sure how long the second half of the duo will continue to make the somewhat post-modern premise bearable but for the moment it is worth a glimmer of hope.

Coupled with the brilliantly improvised Thank God You’re Here maybe ITV can claw back some viewers from the gaping void that will last the two months until X-Factor 12. I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the viewing public met these additions to the schedule with the same exclamation I did - thank God they're finally here.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Touch Screens Spell End for Jam

While driving along in the battered little bug of a Polo that I lovingly share with my girlfriend my hand couldn't react quick enough as the usually jovial, pug-faced Moyles merged into Jo Whiley. Not a physical change of course, an audio merge. God for fear what a Moyles/Whiley hybrid would look mind jumps to some bizarre Godzilla-fighting foe.

Anywho. Immediately fearing what would be on the ageless mid-day DJs agenda, I prepared to change. Then, shock and destiny. She stalled first. Cursing her sticky fingers and the new 'cutting-edge' Radio One touch screens used by the DJs, that momentarily deprived us of a sample of her upcoming show. The screens are so bloody stubborn that she failed on two (count 'em two) attempts to play a track because of 'sticky fingers'.

Following a mid-day lecture with Anthony Mayfield, of Spannerworks, where he spent the breathes between explaining the scary extent of Google to subliminally sell his new iPod Touch. Like the old iPod but with fancy-dan touch sensitive gizmos and the like.

This got me thinking, as we move towards a world full of touch-screen technology, like Windows latest envisioning of laptop tech, what will happen to the sticky and fat fingered like me?

Will the sale of jam go down as people need the dexterity of their digits to access the web on even more fickle interfaces? What about the lowly purveyor of salty crisps? Sure keyboards get clogged now but touchscreens are a bloody nightmare. Is now the best time to invest in handwipes before a global surge of pissed of touch screen users swamp Boots to keep some ready at all times or simply nick those chemically-rich napkinettes from Taunton's KFC?

The only way I can see this ending is badly. Sure we must embrace technology, invite it in like a vampire from the cold and let it suckle at our necks of submission. I am not really a luddite I just have bloody, uncoordinated fingers that lead me to text such coherence as 'Yeah shurety, see buy yalter'...and what the hell does that mean when you are trying to text romance to your better half? So I suggest that we put a stop to it now and...revert back to pencils. But then I've made that point. Forgive me, for I am a dinosaur.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Is Amdy Faye Worth Going to Prison For?

The answer to that is a resounding no.

But that seems to be the likely outcome for some of those embroiled in the case at the centre of the Lord Stevens led crackdown on supposed bung-givers and receivers.

In fairness, I am surprised that Harry Redknapp hasn't been chased down the street by whistle-blowing coppers yet. The jowel-mouthed, Pompy boss has the air of a used-car-salesman about him and surely there can be no better footballing example of a cut-and-shut than the Senegalese wonder-bint that is Amdy 'all-arms-and-legs' Faye.

As a Charlton fan it has been an alarming sight to see a player simultaenously attack/defend/fall over/get sent off in the space of a milli-second...what a shame he was shipped out to Ibrox.

The other boss rumoured to be on the brink of indictment, dating back to the Panaroma/Bond tango, was Big Sam.

However, Sam is already locked in a striped jumpsuit on Tyneside and with his recent run of form maybe a stay at Her Majesty's Pleasure would be a better fate than being fed to Gallowgate End contingent.

Seemingly the blight of anyone's career is being linked with the England job. Front-runner Big Phil Scolari (another 'Big', compensating?) knocked ten shades of shit out of an opposing player in qualifying and blamed his 'fiery temper' on the whole event. Suddenly the man to revitalize English football looked like a Dad getting over zealous during a Sunday morning 11-a-side tournament.

Note Martin O'Neill who has refuted all interest from the beleagured FA and alas Aston Villa are ascending to the heady heights of Euro football even with Marlon Harewood leading their line. The glory days of Ray Houghton and Steve Staunton taking on the might of Inter Milan could come again.

At this rate expect Fabio Capello to be accosted for ruffing up a pensioner in the coming weeks. I am sure I made that joke about Rafa Benitez before...and it wasn't funny was hilarious!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

How You Know When You Are Old

There are very simple markers that alert you to the fact that you are indeed...aging. Now this isn't one of those tired rants about "blah, blah I'm out of touch" or "blah, blah isn't modern music cock?" Its a simple checklist so you can notice when you come to the stage of staring down the autumn of your years from the vatange point of your early 20s. I never said it was comprehensive but here are some of the things to look out for.

Question - Do you ever refer to someone younger than you as a 'youth'?

Answer - If so, then sadly you are old by definition.

Help - Pronounce it 'yuf' and suddenly you go from old-fogey to LDN, glow-sticking waving modern new romatic wonderkid. Or you still get a clip round your ear from your mum for not talking properly.

Question - Do you complain that music in clubs is too loud?

Answer - If so, then you are losing your hearing're going to be the brand new driver of a zimmer frame my friend.

Help - Before anyone cottons on that your wee earbuds can't handle the music, shout 'it needs to be louder'. Aha a clever charade and suddenly everybody is your best friend and will buy you a hot mug o...I mean a sambucca...with tabasco in it...on your mate's head. Yeah, now you're on fire...excuse me while I gag on the reflex to say 'quite lidderally' in my best local DJ voice.

These are two examples of just how easy it is to age, it's natural look at Geri Halliwell, but you can't stand at the water's edge and shout: 'why don't you pis...oh my shoes are wet'.