rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

31-8-2004 (archived)

Good grief. Partisan ketchup? “Choose Heinz and you're supporting Teresa Heinz and her liberal causes, such as Kerry for President”?

I was going to spend the next week living entirely on beans, tinned spaghetti, soup and sauce (with perhaps the occasional steamed pudding), but sadly it's not true - in fact the company have given the same (small) amount to both presidential campaigns, and over the last few years have actually given more money to Republicans the Democrats. So it turns out it's just another case of people who use “liberal” as an insult out-and-out lying for their own financial gain. Film at 11. (Ketchup link via LinkMachineGo, facts from google.)

1-9-2004 (archived)

The Chronicles of Riddick” is not something one could readily describe as a “good film”. It's a cracking no-brainer action movie, though.

If you give a shit about the plot, and I'd really advise you not to, Riddick (who is amoral rather than evil, as he's often described) finds himself pulled back into action on behalf of those he saved in Pitch Black (a really good movie to which this is not really a sequel in any sense other than some character continuity), and ends up attempting to save the universe from the oh-so-Goth “Necromongers”, not because he wants to save it so much as that they've irritated him. Diesel's performance is again all about being a star rather than an actor, but he does that better than anyone; he looks the part and exudes charisma to an extent that no other action hero has ever managed. Unsurprisingly, he dominates this movie, with good support from various pieces of eye candy (in both flavours), most notably Alexa Davalos. It's a visual treat, moves along at a good pace, and is unashamedly entertaining. If you like this sort of thing, you'll like this very, very much.

Apparently there are sequels in the works, and here's a sequel-info spoiler for this film, which knocks out my main criticism of the movie as a franchise continuation. Excellent news, and fully in keeping with the general silliness.

6-9-2004 (archived)

Yeah, I know, four posts in as many days and then four days without one. Irregularity may well continue, as I'm starting my new job. And yeah, another film review (and with more to come).

And this time it's Stage Beauty, a fun, involving romp through the Restoration. The script is the biggest star here, though nobody (even Claire Danes) is bad, Zoe Tapper is suitably luscious, and Richard Griffiths and Rupert Everett beautifully overblown. Billy Crudup is superb in a difficult part, and for me his performance would have been reason enough to see this, even were it not so funny. Not groundbreaking, but definitely recommended. In a quiet season this would be film of the week, but surrounded by entertaining action movies as it is, it's just another good night out.

8-9-2004 (archived)

Hellboy is excellent nonsense, starring a man perhaps best loved for another role played under a great deal of disfiguring glued-on body parts: Vincent, the Beast of the iconic 80s TV show “Beauty and the Beast”. I, for one, have rose-tinted memories of the brilliance of this crap, and of course any show setting up huge, hairy, ugly blond guys as sex symbols is pretty much OK with me.

And now for the film under discussion. The plot's ridiculous, the villains are caricatures, there's not much in the way of characterisation, but yet this is magic. It looks every bit as good as you'd expect from Guillermo del Toro, and the action scenes are coherent. Perlman is much better than the trailers had led me to expect, and really brings Hellboy to charismatic life despite having so much rubber glued to him, and Selma Blair is charming as a miserable, flammable goth. None of it really fails, though “Abe Sapien” is not great, and all in all it's pure, stupid, skin-deep fun.

12-9-2004 (archived)

Apparently there really was what you might call a Cinema des Vampires underneath Paris. Not built by vampires, though. (Via jwz).

(It seems this is the 365th entry. One for every day of most years. And it's late, which is doubtless significant. Still, yay.)

13-9-2004 (archived)

Last night Paul, Ian (review here) and James (and also the still-siteless Fod, separately) went to see Rush at the ever-inadequate M.E.N. Arena here in Manchester. It was probably the best sound I've heard at any arena of the size, massively better than other M.E.N. shows, which puts it just a notch above mediocre - quite an achievement by their sound men.

My own perspective is atypical, as I'm not really a Rush fan - I like 'em fine, and I enjoyed the “live in Rio” DVD, but I'd never sit down and listen to a record. From that basis, then, my impressions follow. Bass playing: excellent. Singing: I'm no enthusiast for his tone, but he was very very solid. Drumming: stunning. Musical, busy without ever being overwhelming, and a drum solo that was a genuine highlight of the night. Guitar playing: on the rare occasions the notes were audible through the massive effects onslaught (particularly badly over-reverbed), it sounded decent enough, and the rhythm texturing was effective. The basic tones were excellent, and there was plenty of guitar porn on offer, but it was just too wet. I wondered why he needed four G Forces in his rack; apparently the answer is “to make sure we can't tell what he's actually playing”.

Then there's the show. Neither Alex nor Geddy is a dynamite showman, but Neil's very very watchable, and when the others have a chance to run around they show willing. The video screens ranged from slightly embarrassing to very funny, and the pyros were the best I've seen since I saw Motley Crue in the late 80s. When the fire pillars went off, you could really feel the heat from our seats. The lasers were excellent, too. In all, and despite the god-awful seats ruining my knees, I'd definitely go again.

Sadly some of the crowd just didn't know the gig-going conventions, which is probably since most of them hadn't been to one in the dozen years since Rush last came over. It's very simple, folks; if you want to stand, you buy your ticket for the floor area. If you buy a ticket for the banks/balconies/cirle, you SIT in your SEAT except for possible end-of-favourite standing ovations. Most of the arena knew this, but several idiots in our section didn't. Oh, and if the guy in front of you stands up, the correct response is not to stand up too; that just passes the aggravation back in a wedge to the back of the room. The correct response is to do to him what I'll do to you; poke him in the back, and ask him politely to sit down lest you rip his head off to get it out of your eyeline. Thank you for your attention in this matter. Shitheads.

15-9-2004 (archived)

So we went to see Dodgeball, not on our original must-see list, because people kept telling us it was very funny. That turns out to be an understatement. There's nothing subtle about this, just great physical comedy of various sorts (pain, embarrassment, grossout - all the classics) and a dynamite, unashamedly stupid script. Some of it makes no sense at all, in fact, but that's fine because it's so funny. And while I confess to my share of laughing hard, I was by no means the only one writhing and giggling :).

If you don't sit through the credits you'll miss a Stiller extra scene that's well worth waiting for, so don't be in any hurry to leave.

19-9-2004 (archived)

The late, because we've been gigging all weekend, review is “Super Size Me”, another propagandist documentary from the Moore school - but better. Not least is it better because Morgan Spurlock is a funnier, more convincing, and simply more likeable host than Moore; less hectoring, more entertaining. And while this has a Moore-like parade of worrying facts, Spurlock simply embarks on his “great bad idea” - eating McDonalds, and nothing but, for a month.

There's a lot of good solid information in this film, especially for those not as chock-full of nutritional information as I am (a body-building teenager and a twenty-something with weight problems, I know exactly what I should be doing but rarely do); several people were audibly shocked by the sheer quantity of sugar in this stuff, and most especially in soft drinks. There's also a certain amount of sleight of hand.

Spurlock was eating, by his own numbers, pretty much 5,000 calories a day. That's going some, even with super-sized portions throughout (and in fact he wasn't asked to supersize often; fewer than one in seven meals, as I recall). That, and the fact that he often seemed to have multiple drinks and other portions, makes me wonder. Nowhere did he say he'd eat only three of what they call meals each day, and in fact it's pretty clear he didn't.

Then there's the exercise factor. He was very clearly, from his bodyfat numbers and fitness test before the McDiet, an active, exercising guy. But not only did he not work out for the month, he actually cut back on walking to what is apparently the level of an “average American”, having to take cabs throughout Manhattan. Now, if I take a week's gym layoff, I start feeling twitchy near the end of it; to go from activity to taking less than 5,000 steps each day will definitely make you feel bad.

Finally, there's the sheer pace of change. Spurlock apparently lives with his girlfriend, a health-nut vegan chef. To go from lots of exercise and a classically low-fat, low-GI diet overnight to sedentary McDiet would make anybody feel very odd; and indeed, towards the end of the experiment, his body and his bloodwork are beginning to settle.

But there's a lot of this that's instantly recognisable to anybody who's spent a period abusing their metabolism, not least the compulsive, addictive nature of food made from little but sugar and fat, and it's definitely food for thought. But we've gigged twice since I saw this, and I've eaten drive-through on the twice too. But, as usual, I didn't have the fries, and I don't have sugary drinks. It may still be the catalyst I, and others, need to start doing what we know we ought to. Great entertainment, and educational, but still not quite honest.

20-9-2004 (archived)

Open Water” has had frothingly enthusiastic reviews and the worst word-of-mouth I've heard for some time. There's a beautiful, subtle fifty-minute character study here of a contemporary couple and their relationship changing from normal circumstances to extreme stress. Sadly, you can't sell fifty-minute character studies, so it's embedded into an eighty minute movie that's simultaneously the shortest theatrical release I can remember and one of the subjectively longest films I've ever seen. There's absolutely no narrative drive, little or no real suspense, and while the believability is in its favour, it is essentially and fundamentally boring. The acting and cinematography are gorgeous, the central relationship is beautifully observed (as, in a sequence that's either naturalistic or gratuitous depending on your perspective, is Blanchard Ryan), but it can't save this either as entertainment or, at this length, as art.

22-9-2004 (archived)

Breaking up the film reviews with yet another link shamelessly ganked from Jamie, swimming through syrup is no harder than through water. Newton was wrong. That must have been far too much fun.