Mar 2012 20

My father Mel Williams was a Creative in advertising from the 70’s through to the late 90’s when tragically he passed away at the age of 48.  It has taken me over a decade to pluck up the courage to go back and look through his archive of VHS tapes and photographs (I wish I had done it sooner mainly because finding a VHS player that works is a nightmare).  I will be posting over the coming weeks samples of his work which I hope you will enjoy and find interesting.  First up the advert which was his most well received and the most successful UK car campaign of all time.

Something that isn’t common knowledge is the original concept that Mel and his copy writer Tago Byers came up with would only feature Nicole and Papa as one of a set of characters in a fictional French village.  More like a series of French farces giving you a flavour of the romanticised French lifestyle.  This was all during the same period of time as the book a ‘Year in Provence’ by Peter Mayle was released which really sparked a English love affair with rural France.

I hope it brings back some memories and that they are good ones.

Salute the Great Composer
Mar 2012 21

American film score composer John Williams has 47 Academy Award nominations to his name. That’s 47. No one has been nominated for more other than Walt Disney.

Of those 47 nominations he has won 5 for Fiddler on the Roof (1971), Jaws (1975), Star Wars (A New Hope) (1977), E.T. (1982), Schindlers List (1993)

In 2005, Williams’ score for Star Wars (A New Hope) was selected by the American Film Institute as the Greatest American movie score of all time.

The 6 years that passed between his nomination for Munich (2005) and The Adventures of Tintin/War Horse (2011) is the longest between nomination years since his first in 1967 (for Valley of the Dolls).

Although he wasn’t victorious this year, it’s still a hell of an achievement and I think it’s about time we celebrated it. Imagine the iconic movie scores (Superman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ET, Jaws) being the most notable (notwithstanding Close Encounters’ Alien interaction theme, or even the classic Imperial March, which first appeared in Empire Strikes Back) that you have hummed in your head so many times, or sung at the top of your voice in the school playground. Amazing.

Hey, you may not have any of his scores on your ipod, but maybe you should. The scope of musical layers, themes and complexity is staggering.

If asked, which would you consider his 3 most iconic and memorable scores? Now there’s a toughie…..

I’m going to sign this off with a little controversy and suggest that, of all the amazing music in the Star Wars collection, Williams’ ‘Duel of the Fates’ from The Phantom Menace is his most epic. Combined with that, the lightsaber duels in this sequence of the film are the best of the lot.

Let’s call this link a bit of an indulgence:

Duel of the Fates Sequence

NP

Movies and ‘Sun’
Mar 2012 24

Okay, so Spring is here, and the clocks go forward tonight. The sun is shining. So I thought I would challenge myself with listing 5 ‘sun-titled’ movies that are worth seeking out and watching (if you haven’t seen them already). I had to pick 5 I would genuinely recommend. So here goes:

1)  

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry 2004)

2)

Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Faris 2006)

3)  

Sunrise (F W Murnau 1927)

4)

 Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg 1987)

5)  

Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder 1950)

I’m a fan of Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunrise’ too, but it narrowly missed out to Empire of the Sun. So there you have it. 5 great movies, in no particular order, and with nothing in particular to do with the sun other than their title.

Pointless exercise? Absolutely.

But I enjoyed sitting in the sun and thinking about it.

NP

 

A note to Comment Spammers…
Mar 2012 24

For those that don’t have your own website you may not be aware of the amount of spamming that a website can receive.  Spammers try to add links to their scamming sites to yours in hope someone will follow the link.  A small site like ours can’t afford to hire someone to sift through them all so we have to do it ourselves in the hope of finding some genuine comments to approve.

This is a recent attempt by a spammer to trick us into thinking theirs is a genuine comment.

We wish to thank you just as before for the beautiful ideas you offered Jeremy when preparing her post-graduate research and, most importantly, pertaining to providing all the ideas in one blog post. Provided we had been aware of your site a year ago, i’d have been rescued from the unnecessary measures we were implementing. Thanks to you.

They are tricky little tricksters aren’t they!  Did you spot the one mistake the made?

No? Our site wasn’t created a year ago!  So close to sneaking through.

I’m only messing around and I don’t really have the time or inclination to correct the whole paragraph.  I will say though I do feel sorry for their poor daughter having to grow up with the name Jeremy.  Oh and this was a comment on a piece about Star Wars posters.

Spammers please try harder! C –

 

The ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2 Thronedown – If You’re Not Watching, You Should Be
Apr 2012 03

Last night, the first episode of the second season aired in the UK on Sky Atlantic (a day later than our American cousins) and has subsequently been met with strong praise. The second series retains the trademark dark, cynical and complex take on the fantasy genre and rode into town on its monstrous televisual warhorse, slaying all unbelievers with the power of HD visuals projected onto liquid crystals.

That said, I have to admit that Game of Thrones is a difficult sell to someone who is a fantasy-sceptic (read my piece about genre snobs here), but nonetheless appears to be gathering viewers. Hoping to emulate the Lord of the Rings film series’ mainstream crossover success, it has had strong numbers already, evidenced by this article at The Guardian that throws out there that GOT had almost 5 times as many viewers as Mad Men in the first episode of their respective new seasons.

When a fantasy series rates so strongly against a critically-lauded, viewer-beloved series such as Mad Men, you know that this is more than the sum of its parts. What am I saying though? You should know this already, after all, it is an HBO show, it has talented actors (who previously plied their trade in film, stage and screen), and an eye-wateringly high budget, which is the envy of many feature films…I should say that I’m not directly comparing Mad Men and Game of Thrones though, they both have their own considerable merits.

Tyrion Lannister: love this guy

So, after all that fawning foreplay, you probably want to know what the first episode was like? I hate to be so predictable, but I can only say positive things about this hour of televisual delight. A hell of a lot of plot, scene-setting and characters were introduced with minimal ham-fisted exposition, and they even found time for some violence and nudity (hey, it is HBO after all), best of all though, was the welcome return of Peter Dinklage, who brought his wry take on Tyrion Lannister back to our TV screens. If you haven’t watched the first series (as a certain Guardian critic confessed before uncharitably criticising this episode), go back, watch that first. Like The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men, the dense plot and character relationships only make an iota of sense with the proper set-up. I’m looking forward to the next ten weeks of screen-based delight.

I haven’t read the books, but if the series continues in this vein, we could be talking about the Television Event of the Year. In April.

TA

Apr 2012 06

I found this video about a year ago and as a manager of people it has come in handy, but as with all these things I would take some of it with a pinch of salt.  I love the way it was made though, take a look I think you will enjoy it.

My Top 5 Computer Games <br/> Of All Time
Apr 2012 06

Half Life

The first PC shooter to have a proper story and a good one at that.  One of the first games I can remember that maintained the fourth wall and kept you in the game from the POV of Gordon Freeman the whole way through.  Also one of the best opening title sequences of all time.

Chucky Egg

My first home computer was a C64 and this tape was permanently in the deck.  For the younger readers old games came on tape and you had to wait sometime up to 30 minutes while it loaded to play a game.  I loved this little platformer and I still think I could remember the patterns of the birds around the screen and get through at least the first 10 levels without issue.

Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare

I loved Call of Duty 1,2 and 3 but it was 4 that blew my mind and stole days of my life to the multiplayer.  Great graphics, explosive set pieces and great balancing in the multiplayer made it very compulsive playing and possibly threatened my marriage.

Mass Effect 2

I have never really been in to RPG’s but Mass Effect 2 changed that and opened my eyes to a new genre of gaming.  I must admit I tried Mass Effect 1 and didn’t like it so I was surprised when I got so sucked into the second game.  Great story telling and characters make this possibly the best sci fi RPG of all time.

Couter Strike

Created as a mod to Half Life which put it on my radar straight away.  This game I believe was the first game to be played professionally feature televised league matches.  It is a perfectly balanced multiplayer experience.  Practice is essential to master it, but the time you put in to it is paid back with the satisfaction of a victory against the odds.

 

This is only my opinion and there maybe games I have forgotten.  Let us know what your top 5 games would have be.

Opinionated Rant: Read the Book Before You See the Movie… Uh, Why?
Apr 2012 09

“Y’know you should read the book before you see the film, it’s far superior”

“The book is so much better than the movie”

“They left so much out of the film that it was nowhere near as good as the book”

… I’m sure you’ve probably heard one of these statements before, you’ve probably even said it at one point. And that’s ok, sometimes it’s true, the book can be better than the movie.

“Problem solved then I guess?”

“That was a short article”

“I suppose we can close the book on this one then!”

Well, not quite. I was sitting down to watch the recent film version of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ a few nights ago, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t read the book. Despite it being a fixture in middle-class book clubs, with middle-class, middle-aged parents recommending it to their emotionally precocious teenage daughters and it topping the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, it had somehow passed me by. Suddenly I couldn’t do it, I had to stop the film and order the book on my Kindle before I could allow this situation to endure. But why?

Continue reading here…

TA

Game of Thrones Season 2 ‘Thronedown’: Episode 2 – The Night Lands
Apr 2012 11

Building on the absolutely epic amount of scene-setting and character introduction of the first episode, this episode brought new characters and locales to the series in the form of the Iron Islands and Baylon Greyjoy. Patrick Malahide was excellent as Balon, bringing a harsh northern tone that couldn’t contrast more with Sean Bean’s considered and withdrawn Ned Stark from the first series.

After the airing of the second episode of this series, the million-dollar question for most people is “is it as good as the first series?” and the answer is… I don’t know. Honestly it’s too early to tell, both episodes have exhibited plenty of what made the original series so great, but maybe the lack of a de facto protagonist in this series is making it harder to tie all the plot strands together and give the plot its moral centre.

Arya: Left-Handed

Arya is growing as a character, and Maisie Williams is a very charismatic choice for what could potentially be a fairly obnoxious character. This Williams kid will hopefully go on to have a good career, an example of her moxie is evident in the fact that despite being right-handed, she learnt to sword-fight left-handed because Arya is left-handed in the books. Her budding unconventional brother-sister relationship with Gendry is a pleasure to watch, and has the potential to have great influence on events further down the road.

Peter Dinklage continues to be the star turn in this series, even though he has a low-key start in this episode, he has some great character moments which showcase what make him so compelling as a character. His wry humour, intelligence and sensitivity are all on show, as is his finely-honed survival instinct in his tete-a-tete with his sister.

The only problems I have so far are that the plot is building on such an epic scale at such a rapid pace, it makes me wonder where they can go from here. Having seen how they dealt with the first series, I trust D.B. Weiss and David Benioff , though. My other slight concern is Lord Baelish AKA Littlefinger. It’s something that’s a hangover from the first series, and maybe he’s a character who works better on the page than on the screen, but someone who uses his brain and strategic behind the scenes manoeuvring isn’t always as easy to realise in a visual medium. The end result of this problem is that there are lots of scenes of exposition, as he tells his life story to one or two whores who are usually being gratuitously sexy at the time. It’s not terrible or anything (I’m only human, after all), but it may wear thin as a narrative device.

Those (minor) concerns aside, the plot is very nicely poised, and the various factions jostling for position is compelling viewing. I advise you to tune in and get involved with all the opinionated shouting!

TA

What J.K. Rowling did next…
Apr 2012 15

If you were J.K. Rowling the most financially successful author of all time what would you do after putting your cash cow to bed?

Adult Fiction apparently, I’m not talking about the books you see on the top shelf at airport book shops. Why is it you only ever see ‘erotic fiction’ at airports? Do they think people get to the airport and think ‘I need a book for the journey, you know what I don’t normally read porn books but I’m on holiday so what the hey!’. I’m talking about moving away from the teen kids fantasy novels and moving into more adult themes. It would is a bold move but one I think the critics will jump all over if it isn’t the greatest novel of its generation.

If you look at her options this may have been the best one though:

1. Nothing?

You are sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds and the royalty cheques look like they will flow until the end of time. How do you get out of bed in the morning and think right I better sit down and spend the next year writing a new book. If I was in her position I think a few years out of the game traveling and seeing friends couldn’t hurt. If after a break inspiration doesn’t strike then go on another one.

2. Re-visit the Harry Potter universe but in another timeline?

Right of the bat I would say this is a bad idea it might be what the fans want but I think it would be a cheap move. She will want to and some may say need to prove that she is not a one trick pony and can strike gold again.

3. Create a new fantasy world?

This on the surface would seem like the safest move in my opinion it is possibly the most dangerous. Her fan base will be the harshest critics, if the new characters don’t live up to the likes of Ron and Hermione they will dismiss it, if the lore isn’t strong enough they will get bored, if the locations are too boring and not magical enough they will put the book down. To me there just seems like there are too many ways to disappoint your key audience.

I think what ever she releases next will be jumped upon by the press and either hailed as the greatest thing since well Harry Potter or she will be dismissed as a one trick pony. In my opinion she is obviously a very talented writer and I enjoyed the first three of the Harry Potter books immensely. I think after that they became bloated and less edited, I worry that there are no editors or publishers in the world now brave enough to tell her that she can do any wrong. In their shoes I don’t think I would want to be the one put my hand up an point out that ‘it might be a little bit shit.’

Good luck J.K. Rowling at least you can cry yourself to sleep on your bed of cash if people don’t like you next book.

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