Monday, 31 May 2010

Sex and the City 2

Well as you'd gathered I went to see it yesterday - it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to the hype ... After reading a barrage of damning criticisms that said it was a travesty of the original show; that it was like seeing old friends being murdered in front of you; etc etc, I've got to say that I think a lot of people have actually been pretty damn harsh. There was a lot to appreciate and enjoy about SATC2 and I've seen far, far worse!

Yes, so they've pretty much exhausted the SATC franchise now and it's hard to envisage where else they could take the characters. The last SATC movie brought things to what I thought was a logical conclusion with a happy ending for everyone. However in the fictional world of romance and relationships, happiness is never eternal and so the writers have clearly contrived further ways to wring out even more drama. This they've managed to do fairly convincingly, but I really do think this should be the last outing for Carrie and the gals now. Of course one can't help surmising that one of the reasons SATC2 got made was because the four actresses couldn't get (much) work elsewhere (particularly Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis - has anyone seen them in anything else post SATC?? Nothing I can think of...) Or am I just being a bit cynical and bitchy here?

In case you weren't aware, the main focus of the new movie is on the four lead gals taking an impromptu trip to Abu Dhabi - Samantha receives an all-expenses-paid invitation there as part of her job and decides her pals just have to come with her. That's about halfway through the film though - up until that it's the normal SATC shenanigans and we see where the four friends are at in their lives since the events of the last movie. Samantha is now 52 and trying to keep her libido with hormones alive while dealing with menopause; Charlotte's two children are a handful and she's worried that husband Harry is attracted to their nanny; Miranda is battling with a boss who doesn't like strong and independent women and Carrie's marriage to Mr Big has settled down, though they differ on how to spend their spare time: she always wants to go out, he would prefer to stay home and watch television some evenings. Whilst none of this is exactly ground-breaking stuff and the "plot" as it were meanders along at a fairly non-urgent pace, it's still done decently enough, and I should add, better than your average Jennifer Anuston, I mean Aniston, type rom-com piece of fluff.

The Carrie/Big stuff probably rings true for a lot of people who are a few years down the line in established relationships - marriage isn't always a bed of roses and couples do have their differences even when they're "settled" - a situation which is convincingly conveyed / acted by Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth. Later on there's an even bigger challenge to Carrie's marriage in the form of ex lover Aiden who Carrie happens to run into in Abu Dubai, and who she snogs, leading to typical SATC angsty-type stuff. Rather too convenient and again contrived, but then, where would the drama be without it?

Sarah Jessica Parker is as good as ever and I love her philosophising voice over bits, a hallmark from the original series that still works. She is looking a bit haggard and drawn now though (okay the claws are coming out again now) - sometimes I can't work out if SJP is attractive or not. I've always liked her unconventional, off the wall ways but looks wise she is definitely, erm, different. Dazzling smile though! It also has to be said that she and the other gals still look incredibly well groomed and gorgeous in a variety of swish outfits and hairstyles. Kim Cattrall continues to imbue Samantha with her usual brand of sophisticated sluttishness, giving hope to all women in their 50s (well Joan Collins did it as Alexis back in the 80s I suppose, just not so, erm, overtly). Samantha gets the usual batch of rude but funny lines which I searched the net for and couldn't find, owing to the fact that I've forgotten what they were. (In fact the general dialogue in SATC2 is still of the witty, sharp and observational variety, which went quite some way towards putting the film in my favour). Kristin Davis is okay as Charlotte (she was never my favourite character) and I couldn't help laughing when her young daughter shoves two hands covered in red paint all over her white "vintage" trousers. Miranda's brittle persona seemed to have mellowed since last time and I felt she was side-lined a bit - the potentially interesting plot line about her sexist boss was only given brief attention.

Then there's the trip to Abu Dhabi which as I said occupies at least half of the narrative. There's already been tons of comments about this aspect of the movie, mainly centred around its "racist" and stereotypical portrayal of Middle Eastern culture. Wellll....firstly this has to be one of the first times the action is focused somewhere other than New York and admittedly that is rather strange. I wouldn't say the portrayal of the Emirates is particularly offensive, but then again there's nothing very enlightening about all of it. There's potential for an interesting storyline here - the culture in Adu Dhabi forbids public displays of affection between men and women, and as for open displays of sex - well you can guess who lands herself in trouble because of that one. Bar this and another very funny scene where Samantha screams at Muslim men that she does have sex and then throws lots of condoms into the air, the whole patriarchal culture of the Middle East is dealt with very uncritically - a missed opportunity given the liberated attitudes of those SATC girls and the resultant culture clashes - I'm sure Carrie could have dedicated a lot of column space to writing about that. There's also a rather bizarre scene in which a group of burkha clad Abu Dhabi women tell the NYC gals that they love fashion and labels and then - gasp! - reveal designer clothes underneath their robes. Making a "point" in a rather forced and corny way really.

Other stuff: I did like the gay wedding (Stanford and that vile queen Anthony) at the beginning, and Big's reactions were amusing, not to mention the presence of Liza Minnelli doing "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" - though her singing voice is sadly way past its prime.

So, by no means a disaster, more a visual and oral meringue - sophisticated, sweet and gorgeous to consume, but not particularly substantial or good for one's health either. Having said that, I've always been the indulgent type and I can't resist sweet tasting things. Ultimately though, I still think it's time Carrie put her manolas to bed once and for all and we were left to imagine what happens to the SATC girls from this point on... Happy Ever After for good, surely.

3 out of 5.

Kelis - Acapella

Totally excellent new tune from Kelis which I really need to share with you - she of the maadddd "Caught Out There" (remember? "I hate you so much right now! I hate you so much right now! Aaaah Aaaah!") "Milkshake" and "Trick Me" - all bloody brilliant and this track is set to be yet another classic in its own right. Great "power synths" in the background which get stronger and stronger and I love the Amazonian warrior look she's sporting in the video.

More posts forthcoming... Off to see "Sex and the City 2" very shortly. I have my reservations, having heard mixed things about it, but we'll see... Have a great Bank Holiday weekend whatever you're up to...

Sunday, 16 May 2010


I'm not so sold on Sophie Ellis Bextor's new single as I was "Heartbreak Make Me A Dancer" - it's a tad pedestrian on first hearing - but the Freemasons always bring the stamp of classiness to everything they produce, and the same is true here. And the daughter of Janet Ellis has a new album out in July to boot, with contributions from Calvin Harris and Cathy Dennis, amongst others!

All The Lovers...

Alan's right. The Aussie bird's return is imminent and it's something worth celebrating...

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A post, a post, my kingdom for a post

...which doesn't make sense really, but I thought it was time for another (rare these days) update. I'm sooo busy at work with marking and the like...take my advice, my little fruity tartlets, don't become a teacher!! My A Level students have all recently completed coursework that needed marking, to top that my Access students are doing oodles of asssements which will all involve even more checking and marking, and as if I wasn't enough of a glutton for punishment, I'm doing even more marking for an exam board this Summer! Well, extra cash for a holiday, I'm hoping for a trip to San Francisco, actually, Matty, hope you've noted that one.

Anyway that's not desperately interesting news is it? Of course the big thing I should be writing about is the current state of politics in the UK. Okay, confession time. I didn't vote during this election. Ahem, ahem. Largely because I hadn't got round to putting myself put on the electoral role when I moved from my last abode, but also, if truth be known, because I couldn't be a*sed and my way of thinking is "one vote isn't going to make the world of difference". Yes I know you're probably all shaking your heads and thinking "Well, if everyone took that attitude it would mean that parties who people don't want running the country would get in..." But I don't actually think that's the case. Confession number two - those of you who visit this blog at least semi-regularly will probably have gathered that I'm not exactly a political animal. A pop cultural animal with cheesy/retro obsessions and leanings, that's for sure. But not political. Well that isn't strictly true, I mean I do believe in fighting for gay rights and other worthy causes etc...Mmm feels like I'm digging myself a bit a hole now. Actually, another confession (number 3 - at the rate I'm going I'll have more confessions than Madonna) - I know that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have now formed a "coalition" but I don't really understand what this means in terms of politics and how the country is run. Would anyone care to enlighten a rather thick old 41 year old man??

Anyway one must move on. One other thing that's been overdue, and you just knew it was coming, was a bit of comment on the current series of Doctor Who. Yes you'd be forgiven for thinking that's all I can write about at the moment...I promise to try and devise some differently-themed posts...the problem is my average week seems to revolve around working Monday-Friday including evenings, working some of my weekend and - oh! - watching gosh, isn't my existence sooo exciting!

The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

Loved this two parter, well, to be precise I really, really liked it and it was a definite improvement on the previous Dalek one. Steven Moffat proved his writing abilities again with an involving tale that brought back not only the gorgeous River Song but also those nasty stone angels that advance on you if you so much as blink. On closer analysis the story itself was a little laboured and slow in places and nothing out of the ordinary - ship crashes on planet, weeping angel escapes, River and her team go to find it, team get hunted down by more angels and the Dr must find a way to stop it...But the way it was all conveyed raised the story above the average stakes.

Shades of Marilyn...

I liked the opening Dr-River reunion scenes - great shots of her red high heels and forcibly ejecting herself out of an airlock, then flying towards the TARDIS (which confused me as I couldn't help but wonder how she could breath, let alone not actually explode in the vacuum of space - but as Dan informed me, if you listen carefully there's a line in there the Dr says about creating an air corridor - and someone else on his blog says that apparently you can survive for 1-2 minutes in space without asphyxiating! So there - and anyone remember what happened to Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect when they were ejected from the Vogon ship in Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy? God that was a long bracket bit).

River also looked fab in her party dress and the dialogue between her and the Doc was sparky and fun (including the revelation that the wheezing noise when the TARDIS materialises comes from the Dr leaving the breaks on when landing - has he been doing it wrong all these years?!) River's TARDIS style diary was on show once again and there were further hints about future developments in her relationship with the Dr. I was kind of hoping, if not expecting, that this story would show the first meeting between the Time Lord and Ms Song, but no, that wasn't the case. It's another meeting somewhere down the line ... gets a bit confusing when you think about it too much but also kind of intriguing.

Girl talk

Amy's inquisitive involvement, wanting to know exactly who River was to the Dr, also made for some entertaining moments. And we also got the revelation that River had - gasp - killed a man ... not the Dr surely? Later on we got River in combats and her role in the story became slightly more pedestrian with her doing the usual "help the Dr out" assistant type stuff. But it won't be too long til we see her again...

If you go down to the woods today...

The angels themselves were back in force and even nastier this time round.

Going down the garden centre shouldn't be such an ordeal...

There were some genuinely chilling scenes, especially the one where Amy has to walk through a cluster of the stoney ones with her eyes shut. And the counting bit with the image of the angel in her eye was quite nasty. Also liked the bit when they all actually moved! Their method of defeat smacked too much of "Doomsday" though (when the Dr opened the rift and all the Daleks and Cybermen flew into it) - this was exactly the same. Would have been nice if they'd thought up a different solution.

The supporting cast were okayish - Ian Glenn was kind of bland but alright.

And did anyone spot black Steve from Eastenders as one of the clerics? As for the regulars, in case you weren't aware, this was actually the first story that Matt Smith and Karen Gillan filmed ("The Eleventh Hour" was the fourth one to be recorded I think. Similar to what they did with Peter Davison in "Four To Doomsday"...) If you look carefully you'll see that both Smith and Gillan have longer hair in this story than the previous one and in the very last scene in Amy's bedroom (I'll come to that in a minute) their hair is shorter, seeming to prove that this scene was shot and inserted later. God I am such a geek. It's no wonder I don't have time to vote, dwelling on such things...Anyway watching the performances of Matt and Kaz, I thought there was actually very little difference between the way they play the Doc and Amy in this one to previous (later shot) stories - they seemed to inhabit the parts automatically, and that was good to see. The only slightly jarring bits for Matt Smith were some "shouty-hyper" bits, reminscent of David Tennant. Well the guy was finding his feet I guess...

Then there was the closing bedroom scene. Erm, I must admit I hadn't seen that one coming and I'm not 100% sure if I liked it. Amy is a bit of a tart, isn't she? At least she didn't admit to a full on Rose/Martha style crush on the Dr, which frankly, would have been too much - no more mooning and pining over the Time Lord type companions, purlease! But snogging the Dr and asking him to sh*g her? Mmm.... Matt Smith's reactions were funny though -"Amy, I'm a 976 year old Time Lord!" (or words to that effect, I may have got the age wrong). I hope this plot strand gets forgotten to be honest - as good as it is to see Dr Who acknowledging adult grown up relationships and sex (which the Old Who largely didn't) these kind of soap opera theatrics do kind of detract from the storyline sometimes, something that RTD revelled in during the "Tyler" period of the show. Actually, "Vampires of Venice" has already been broadcast and most of us have seen what happens next ...

Anyways, in terms of overall rating, I'd give this two-parter 4 out of 5.

And talking of the aforementioned Vampires tale, that's the next one to be reviewed of course and yep, I'm late with it again! Got to say though, on first viewing, I wasn't massively enamoured with it and my rating might have to drop...Oh no!

So, see you in the not too distant...Ciao my lovelies....

OC xx

Friday, 7 May 2010

Victory of the Daleks

Here comes my review, slightly late ...

Summoned by none other than Sir Winston Churchill, the Dr and Amy arrive in London during the height of World War 2 and find that Professor Bracewell has come up with a "new invention" to help the Brits win the war - fighting machines called "ironsides". Except they're not ironsides atall ... they're the dastardly Daleks!! With the pepperpots trundling around the war HQ continutally declaring "I am your servant" and "Fancy a cuppa?" (actually that last line is a slight lie, but it's a close enough approximation) the Dr's suspicions are naturally aroused... since when were the Daleks patriotic? And more to the point, on the human's side?

The twist of having the Daleks as "the goodies" made for an interesting start to the episode, but you just knew that their cover was going to be blown eventually - and sure enough some 20 mins or so into the story their evil intentions were revealed. A shame as this could have been sustained for longer - for instance if the story had been a two-parter, the Daleks' "exposure" could have been left til the end - but once again the (sometimes constricting) one episode format precluded this ... once aboard the Dalek spaceship it was business as usual ... and, what a surprise, some of the Daleks had escaped their "total destruction" (a phrase we'll now learn to take with a pinch of salt) at the end of "Journey's End". It's never bloody ending, eh? As iconic as they are, I do wish they'd let the metal monsters lie dormant for longer...

We also got brand new day glo Daleks into the bargain and I'm not sure whether I like them or not. Kind of reminded me of duplo and they're rather ... clunky. A merchandiser's dream though and one that will get all the geeky fans parting with shed loads of cash for the latest "model" (and that does not include me I hasten to add... surprise, surprise! Okay, I do have just about every DVD of the Pertwee, Baker and Davison DW years... )

And everything else? Though undeniably entertaining, the story wasn't Mark Gatiss' best and pretty formulaic and pedestrian overall. Sir Winston was midly endearing but a bit of a cigar-chomping stereotype; Bill Paterson put in an okayish performance as the mandroid Bracewell who turned out to be more human than machine. The Dr-Amy dynamic continued to work well but for the first time Matt Smith jarred a bit - especially his delivery of the lines "I am the Doctor! And you are the Daaaaleks!" The spitfires in space, though giving the opportunity for some great special effects (some of the best yet this season) were kind of far-fetched (yes I know lot's of things in DW are far-fetched, but...) and seemed to have been modified in a remarkably quick amount of time. I did like the revelation that Amy had never seen the Daleks before in spite of their previous Earth invasions - leading to some possible theories e.g. does Amy come from an alternative universe? Is it all tied up with the cracks that keep appearing ...

Probably my least favourite story of the season so far and I'd give it 3 out of 5. However in comparison with some RTD stories it was an improvement, so that ain't no bad thing ...

Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone review coming very soon!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

It's the Blinkin' Testcard

Greetings. This is Wendy the Weeping Angel. Or you can call me the new Testcard Girl. I'm here to plug those in between bits (so to speak) as well as: 1) playing noughts and crosses with a creepy looking clown (he almost qualifies for a Dr Who monster himself) 2) displace you in time if you so much as blink. And I've been in Dr Who recently too. Last Saturday and this one. Hip, hip hoorah. (I'm sorry, an angel is a killer and does not use exclamatory sentences - I'm a deadpan sort of laydeee you know).

Anyway, I am actually here on behalf of the Old Cheeser, who would like to inform you that he's a bit busy with work-related thingummys at the moment and hence hasn't had time to write any more posts (well, that's his excuse). He sends his most sincere apologies and hopes to resume service soon with some spanking new posts on, amongst other things, the latest episodes of Dr Who. Wooohooo.

... Tune in soon ... in the meantime here is some light music ...