Days With My Father: A Tale of a Son’s Relationship with His 98-Year-Old Father Through Photography
Apr 2012 10

The Photographer Phillip Toledano recounts his relationship with his elderly and memory-impaired father after his mother’s death through pictures.

It’s moving and beautiful and is both a fascinating window into a father’s relationship with his son, whilst also like staring into a highly-polished mirror at all our parental relationships.

The pain of getting older and the passage of time is prevalent throughout, and the photography is beautiful. You can buy it as a coffee table book, but the website has a lot of content. Well worth 10 minutes of what time remains to you.

Days With My Father

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was excellent as Balon, bringing a harsh northern tone that couldn’t contrast more with Sean Bean’s considered and withdrawn Ned Stark from the first series.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

Apr 2012 13

 

Canon unveils EOS-1D C and C500 4K Cinema cameras, two new lenses ahead of NAB updated — Engadget.

$15,000 and $30,000 respectively they are not cheap but then again they both shoot 4k footage so they were never going to be showing up in your local camera store.

The Visual Style of HBO’s The Wire
Apr 2012 15

I know what you’re thinking: “what visual style?”. The Wire as a TV show seemed to conscientiously shy away from anything that seemed even close to visual style, but this well-argued video essay seems to reveal a hitherto unheralded visual ethos contributing to the core aesthetic of the show:

… And I should probably mention that it is 36 minutes long. Still, worth watching and surprisingly interesting if, like me, you’d never given it much thought.
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.

Game of Thrones Season 2 Thronedown – Episode 3: What is Dead May Never Die
Apr 2012 17

In a series that has so far revolved around more speech than swordplay, more thought than thrust, and more mutterings than murders, it was refreshing to see some violence and nudity at last. Although perhaps not as much as we’d like. Actually, I’ve been unkind, in my opinion, it’s clear that the various players (or in the case of Tyrion, ‘playas’) are moving their pieces into position, and in my complete ignorance of the books, I predict that this slow build will provide a compelling climax.

Word on the ground (at least in my own, entirely limited and anecdotal experience) is that the pacing of the series and some of the quality of the episodes has not been up to snuff. Whilst acknowledging that I can see what they mean, I think that they are as wrong as Ned Stark was when he thought that Robert Baratheon’s will would save him. Every episode brings us closer to the climax of the series, and, in my opinion, it’s clear that there are many story twists to come. It’s rare that we’ve seen any scenes that were unnecessary, superfluous, each scene has a purpose. To a fault, in a way.

I say that because that old challenge of the dense, complex television storylines rears its head, I am, of course, talking about remembering names, places, faces. Keeping track of it all is hurting my (small and oddly-functioning) brain, and I can only see it getting worse. Fortunately with Game of Thrones, while they often see fit to throw a load of new characters at you, they also have the good grace to kill a lot of them off relatively quickly, too.

Brienne: new character and hard bastard

Tyrion continues to fascinate and delight, with a borderline comedic manipulation of the manipulators in Varys, Pycelle and Littlefinger getting a laugh, and his devious machinations seemingly the only match for those of his sister. The fact that he brought Shae to Kings Landing with him suggests though, that he has a weakness, and he even says so at one point. Bran appears to have a psychic link with his wolf, and Renly gets to know his new wife and realises that she’s probably a lot better at this game than him.

I’ve been saying about each of the episodes so far that they have left things finely poised, and this one continues that fine tradition. It would probably benefit the series if they let loose a bit from here though, I think a bit of Joffrey Time is in order, he’s a crowd-pleaser isn’t he?

Still, an episode that builds the intrigue and develops the characters further could never be called a waste of time. I only fear that people might turn off if something doesn’t happen soon. HBO shows aren’t known for their restraint when it comes to violence or nudity though, so I feel that we are in good hands. I still maintain my optimism that this series will be every bit as good as the last, HUZZAH!

TA

Apr 2012 22

1. Old Boy

2. Infernal Affairs

3. Hard Boiled

4. The Grudge

5.Seven Samurai

Why I love Mad Men by Louise (@biscuitnose) Williams
Apr 2012 23

By the time I started watching (and living, breathing and loving) Mad Men the 2nd series was being broadcast on BBC4.
I had heard a lot of good things about it and was keen to try it for myself but honestly, I was a little nervous it would be too brainy for me. I have difficultly recognising characters and remembering their names and thought that the whole thing would intimidate me, like getting my hair done. For the first time in my life (ever) I was wrong.

My husband and I watched the first season on DVD and were able to motor through it. I loved it immediately wanting to drink in as many episodes as I could in one sitting.

Mad Men is set in an advertising agency in New York’s Madison Avenue. Series 1 is set in the late 1950s when everyone smoked and sexism hadn’t been invented.

If you haven’t seen any of it I won’t spoil the plot for you but here are a few of my favourite/jaw dropping moments from the first series of the show:

Don, Betty and their kids enjoy a picnic in the beautiful New York state countryside.
As they pack up the car to drive home they shake all the rubbish off their picnic blanket (wrappers, empty tins, leftover food) leave them there and drive off.

Betty’s friend smoking and drinking alcohol whilst she is pregnant.

One lazy Sunday Don and Betty spend the day at home with their children, who are keen to please them and make Bloody Marys for their parents. All day long. When it gets dark drunk Betty decides to put the kids to bed and it is only when her young daughter says she is hungry that Don and Betty realise they haven’t given their children any food.

The writers of Mad Men manipulate the viewers.
You love Don, you hate Don.
You hate Joan, you adore Joan and want to protect her.
You hate Pete Campbell and then you hate Pete Campbell more.
Not since The Sopranos have I felt so emotionally involved in the characters of a TV show. And the storyline is generally unpredictable and frequently shocking.

Mad Men is intelligent and slick but it isn’t pretentious. I can tell which character is which – a big deal for me. (I am not coping well with Game of Thrones.) It’s deep and clever and scenes can be dissected and read and broken down to form a layered study of the characters and the era. Or you can just watch the shit out of it and gasp in delight at Joan’s heaving chest or Roger’s unending wit.

The Sopranos is still my ultimate TV show but Mad Men is snapping at it’s heels. Until Tony whacks Don.

Game of Thrones Season 2 Thronedown: Episode 4 – Garden of Bones
Apr 2012 27

*Bites fist in expression of extreme tension*… ARGH! All… this… buildup… don’t think I can take… any more… Benioff and Weiss are just playing with us, it’s the emperor’s new clothes, there is no matrix!

There, now I’ve got that out of the way, I feel a lot better. So after all my big talk last time out about the need to increase the ratio of payoff to buildup, we got another episode of… buildup. But what buildup! We finally got to see more of Joffrey, who plumbed new depths in his demonstrations of just how exquisitely evil he is. Poor old Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner puts in another affecting performance with, like, layers and everything, but even if she was a terrible actress, it would be hard not to feel sorry for her with the unique form of hell that Joffrey has engineered for her. My complaints about lack of dynamic story development were assuaged somewhat by some deliciously dastardly work from Jack Gleeson, as Joffrey is fast becoming an iconic screen antagonist.

It was good to see the remaining brothers Baratheon come together and have indulge a bit of verbal swordsmanship. Stannis has seemed quite one-note so far in this series, but later on in the episode, he starts to show why he could yet be a force to reckon with. If he continues in this vein, he could yet show beyond all doubt that while Ned Stark was a good man, he wasn’t a clever one.

Leave the poor lass alone!

Another character we haven’t seen much of is Tywin Lannister, but we got a much-needed glimpse of him, and Charles Dance brought that evil-charismatic-amitious portrayal that has made Tywin such a memorable character despite comparatively little screen-time. It was also good to see Daenarys finally get out of the desert, she is a character who has been repeatedly shat on from a great height, and Emilia Clarke could potentially have a thankless task in her hands with this character. Thankfully, she imbues Daenarys with a much-needed sympathetic edge, as otherwise her endless vacillating between victimhood and spoilt-child rage could grate. It will be fascinating to see how she grows from here.

Still, I did say last week that we needed a bit more plot, and a bit less character-development, and at this point, the slow-build is still in effect. It’s fair to say that we now know what most of the characters are thinking, most of the pieces are on the board, and everyone seems to be spoiling for a fight, so some story fireworks wouldn’t go amiss. The first season was impressive in its balancing of story advancement and character development, and so far this season has been weighted much more towards character than to actual plot. We’re still only at the 4th episode, which, (judging by the length of the first series) is not even halfway though, so there is still  lot of water yet to go under a lot of bridges. Stay tuned Thronerinos!

TA

Avengers Assemble Review
Apr 2012 29

In the UK we were lucky enough to get the new Avengers film before our cousins across the pond, a rare but welcome occurrence.  Everything about this film is huge, a reported budget of $220 million dollars, the good guys are all buffed up, the Alien invaders have some big ass ships/creatures, the Hulk and of course the pressure for it not to suck!


After Disney lost somewhere in the region of $300 million dollars on John Carter (of Mars) all eyes will have been on the big Marvel movie Superhero movie and its director.  The choice of director (Joss Whedon) may have been a bit of a surprise if you were not aware of his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Doll House and his X-Men comic writing credits.  In my mind he is a more obvious choice than that of Kenneth Branagh who directed Thor, which was mediocre at best.  Mr Whedon clearly knows the material well and in my mind has succeeded were many have failed in the past, simply understanding what audiences want to see and hear from a superhero movie.

The plot is a simple premise really, Loki Thor’s goth styled younger (adopted) brother is hell bent on taking over the world by opening a portal to another world providing access for an invading alien army.  The Avengers consisting of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, The Black Widow and Hawkeye (Not called Hawkeye in this film for some reason, probably to avoid the purple costume.) have to stop him.

The film builds in the way you would expect with them introducing the heroes one at a time and then watching them interact.  Things don’t go smoothly at first as you may expect with characters who are used to working alone and not taking orders.  This gives the audience the treat of seeing the likes of Thor and the Hulk going head to head or fist to hammer in this case.  Once they have a reason to work together the real fun starts and the last 30 minutes are pure popcorn action heaven.

The dialogue and the action are first rate, Joss Whedon deserves an award for keeping the whole thing moving at a nice pace.  I can’t really remember over the 2hours 20 ever feeling twitchy for the next piece of action.

Overall the best of the Marvel superhero movies to date, the perfect summer blockbuster.

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