Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Not many new posts...

....from moi, as you can see.

Ho hum!

Sorry, peeps!

And they're probably aren't going to be any for the next few weeks, either. Tomorrow I am heading off on my hols to Cornwall. I must admit I am rather excited, having never visited that neck of the woods before (even though I was actually born in Falmouth but was, erm, far too young to remember). We're staying in Newquay, which I've heard lots of good things about, not to mention Cornwall itself - we're planning on visiting lots of other places in the county too - St Ives, Tintagel, etc. The gay scene there looks pretty non-existent but then, that's not the be-all and end-all is it?! After that I'm back home for a few days but have scarcely time to rest before setting off on another trip, this time to visit folks/friends up North - and I'm going to be journeying from place to place - a Yorkshire/Lancashire/Leicestershire road trip no less: my family in York; a mate in Newcastle; a place in the Pennines called Haltwhistle; then Morecambe, Lancs, where one of my oldest friends resides (looks gloriously tacky but don't tell him that...) and finally Loughborough near Leicester. Should be good!

Not been many "cheesy" posts of late, I know, and still nothing on the last series of Dr Who!! You want the truth? I can't be bothered to watch all the episodes from Season Six again, in order to write some reviews! What has happened to me?! When I started my original blog, one of my main aims was to write a lot of posts on Dr Who-related things but over time my interest has really I turning into a boring old fart? Nah. I just wasn't that crazy about the latest series, that's all (and I agree with what you said, Amanda! And Tim, yes, perhaps I should dust out some old series DVDs and write about those instead!)

Anyways, enough of that. Have a fab Summer whatever you're doing everyone and I will be back...

OC x

Friday, 1 July 2011

The heart is a very resilient muscle

I realise I haven't blogged for f*ck knows how long... what's new??

Sorry, everyone.

But I'm still here!! And not intending on going away! Just bear with these hiatuses...

As the Summer hols are up and coming, perhaps I'll be able to manage more frequent hopes.

There are a few fairly valid reasons for my absence, though.

1. I did my usual stint of Summer exam marking, which is always time-consuming (but good for the coffers).

2. A few weeks ago, I went into hospital with a heart condition. It started off with a virus, swollen glands and then chest pains which wouldn't go away and which I'd never experienced before. After a few days, I thought "f*ck this" and took myself off to my local A&E. I was told I may have had a mini heart attack! After having an inordinate number of needles shoved into my arm, blood pressure taken etc, they shipped me off to another hospital with a good cardio dept, and kept me in for a few days whilst they conducted more tests transpired I had a condition called Myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle that had stopped my ticker from working as efficiently as it should have been and consequently lead to the pain I'd been experiencing. Not blocked arteries or cholestrol, I'm pleased to add, as they shoved a stem into one of my arteries and then sent this dye up there so they could take a look and everything proved okay...thankfully. I've never been a massively unhealthy person, so that kind of figured.

Anyway after a few days of antibiotics and being checked up on I was discharged and sent home, but ordered to rest before going back to work. (I've got to say I take back all my previous gripes about the NHS. Apart from the school dinner-like food, which was, admittedly, cr*p, the attention and care I received was great. It's also a massive cliche, but you really do start reflecting on your own mortality when you're somewhere like that. For a couple of days I stayed in a ward with a lot of men who were much older and physically weaker than me, some awaiting triple by-passes and other more serious dear old guy in the bed across from me looked at death's door, but was so nice and kind to me even though we'd barely met/spoken: "Hello Simon, it's so nice to see a friendly face; so nice". I wanted to cry. I'm very, very lucky.)

3. Erm, that's it.

But I'm alive! Hoorah! And will be back!!

(And I can't be a*sed to write about the latest series of Dr Who. I just felt so disappointed with the whole thing! Doh!)

OC xxx

Friday, 3 June 2011

I'm into sci-fi UFO

Went to a rather good science fiction exhibition at the British Library with my Dad last Bank Holiday weekend. We both really enjoyed it. I'd urge you to do the same if you're in the vicinity of Kings Cross/St Pancras, or even just contemplating a London visit. It's free and there's lots of literary works by sci-fi authors on display plus various exhibits etc...for instance, you can draw your own alien and listen to clips of Marvin the Paranoid android * and HG Wells.

Talking of sci-fi you'll have no doubt observed that I have written/posted precisely nothing re: the brand new series of Doctor Who. I'm behind again, yes, I know. Work busyness and all has precluded it...story of my life. Anyway once this Saturday's final-cliffhanging-episode-until-the-show-comes-back-in-the-Autumn is over, I shall endeavour to write something. What I can admit to already though is an overarching feeling of disappointment with the series so far. The fact is, I'm becoming more and more hard to please, but the quality of the stories seems to be declining. Or is just my old age? (I actually whacked on my DVD of "The Hand of Fear" recently, partly to commemorate Lis Sladen's passing but it also to fulfil my yearning for old style "Who"...and I preferred it!) However I do have fairly high hopes about tomorrow's episode - apparently there's a mega-revelation in store regarding River Song's identity and we also get to find out about Amy's "baby". And the Cybermen are back. And the Silurians. And the "eye-patch" lady, aka Francis Barber, gets a starring role. Mmmm not too much to fit into one episode is it? Let's pray those hopes aren't dashed to dust...

Meanwhile to keep you going through the hiatus, I present you with this gem from .... Sir Clifford of Richard....yes his ode to Sci-fi...listen to the lyrics, they're actually rather witty/good! ** Just forgive the fact that the video seems to bear absolutely no relation to the song, but then it was the only clip on You Tube I could find....

Trust y'all are doing well....

OC xxx

* First prize to the first blogger who can explain who he is.
** Well, in my befuddled mind, any road.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Eurovision Pong Contest

Well I couldn't resist tuning into Eurovision tonight to take in all the wondrous acts from all over Europe...except "wondrous" wasn't really the operative word. A right bunch of old tat and some seriously weird acts up there...examples included a bizarre jazz number with a singer who had an incredibly caterwauling voice, then a band from Moldova wearing pointy witchy type hats and some crazy bird on a unicycle, with an oompah brass section...weeeeeird. The winners, Azerbaijan, were no great shakes ...not a terrible song, but there were some worthier acts who deserved to claim the "Eurovision" crown such as Austria.

As for our lot, boyband Blue...well the song wasn't terrible either but obviously the judges thought otherwise. Irish act Jedward were their usual typically tacky selves, an act who send themselves up so much they didn't stand any serious chance of winning. As usual it's all tactical voting with neigbouring countries giving one another loads of points, as opposed to "nil points"...

I once blogged about Eurovision, and here too but the less than brilliant acts on show tonight have just inspired me to do some more Cheeser-ish harking back to the good old days of Euro-pop (okay not all of these are strictly Eurovision acts but who cares...)

Ladies and gents, I give you...

Brother Louie, Louie, Louie!! Remember Modern Talking? The bouffed up hair! The jackets!! The glamour!!

And what about...

And who's this Tarzan Boy...?

However, I demand that you CALL ME...

Oooh la' s Ryan Paris...

You could have taken one step further and I would have been there...

And is it true that you were only playing Love Games....?

But perhaps I'm just your Jack in a Box...

Will you parlez vous francais?

And last but not least...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Stuff the wedding

In case you hadn't guessed, the title of this post pretty much sums up my opinion of the Royal Nuptials occurring tomorrow. Apologies to all royalists and William and Kate lovers - I suppose. We just can't get away from it though, can we?

Maybe it's my age. Maybe I'm getting cynical. Maybe I don't like the fact that our taxes are paying for the extraordinarily expensive extravagance that is the Royal Wedding.

I am however very pleased to be having the day off work tomorrow. There's been an awful lot of Bank Holidays recently, hence lots of time off from one's job. A four day weekend now beckons. Yaaaay! Not bad atall.

When I was a nipper I distinctly remember getting all in a tizzy about Charles and Diana getting spliced. I had a Charles and Di mug, a Charles and Di wedding brochure, even a Charles and Di plastic bag if memory serves me correctly. But it was 1981 and I was a mere 12 years old...things have changed somewhat. I'm really not bovvered, as Lauren might say...(I am also rather surprised to see that none of my fellow bloggers have commented on the forthcoming wedding! Can it be that none of you are "bothered" either??)

Don't get me wrong. I can appreciate the "fairy tale" element and I'm sure Kate Middleton will look ravishing. William isn't too bad himself, come to that - well, more than certain other gawky and geeky looking male members of the Royal Family. He's turned out quite a handsome fella...And on that particular note, I thought it might be nice to present y'all with a completely gratuitous picture of the aforementioned Prince in a pair of speedos (to hell with Kate Middleton, she's not important.) Good bod, eh? I do wonder what the ball is covering up, though...

Friday, 15 April 2011

Kissing ain't no crime

A friend has just alerted me to this story. Read it and grimace. One might have hoped that we'd moved on in these enlightened times. Granted, doing this in some pub in the ghettos of Hackney or some other equally rough and homophobic pocket of the UK might not have been such a good idea, but Soho....?!

Oddly enough I am probably heading there tonight and am tempted to go and join in the kissathon!! Wooohooo!! Power to the Homos!!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Let me hear your body talk

I am now the proud owner of a new exercise bike. And I started my regime today. I burnt over 400 calories. A good start...

I'm not quite sure if I will end up looking as trim and slim as the fine (if somewhat plastic) specimen of manhood below, but one must have something to aspire towards...

Give me a year or so and I might just get there...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Bush is back (so to speak)

Hooray!! It's only been 6 years since the last Kate Bush album (a comparatively short hiatus given the 12 year mega-gap that ensued between "The Red Shoes" and "Aerial"). And now La Bush is about to unleash a new one on the music-listening public. Yaaaay!! (In case you didn't know, I'm a big KB fan).

At least, a sort-of new album. To be precise, it's going to be a reworking of some of her old tracks, taken from her "Sensual World" and "Red Shoes" albums. Here's the blurb:
On "Director's Cut" Kate revisits a selection of tracks from her albums, The Sensual World and The Red Shoes, a process that presents a fascinating portrait of an artist in a constant state of evolution. She has re-recorded some elements whilst keeping the best musical performances of each song – making it something of a director’s cut but in sound, not vision.

Sounds interesting. And a single, "Deeper Understanding", is due for release in May. Here it is!

Actually I have to say, I'm not entirely crazy about this re-interpretation - the chorus in particular, which is way too vocodery-robot - presumably in a bid to fit in with the virtual communication theme of the song and give it a more contemporary feel. I preferred the "straight singing" of the original, which was more soulful. But I think it still might grow on me...

As for the other tracks on the forthcoming long-player, they be as follows, me hearties:

Flower of the Mountain (previously ‘The Sensual World’)

Song of Solomon


Red Shoes

This Woman’s Work

Moments of Pleasure

Never Be Mine

Top of The City

And So Is Love

...Which all sounds promising stuff! Due out on May 11th....and apparently Kate is working on some "real" new material too!

PS Don't you just love the "Kate as mad director splicing up the film" piccie?!

Friday, 1 April 2011

More more do you like your Whoooooo??

Admittedly the new series is looking rather good...

Mmm I wonder why they shoved in so many clips of Utah and the US desert in an advert for BBC America??

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The sixth coming

It's coming back!!

I've got to say, I am slightly apprehensive cos hyper-critical me was rather disappointed by the last series...

Time will tell.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Today I went on strike from my job. For the first time ever.

All because of this...

Goodbye Elizabeth Taylor

So sad to hear about the loss of Elizabeth Taylor. Sure she was a drama queen, she was OTT, she was camp as hell and that voice of hers sometimes resembled one of those screeching, caterwauling cats that keeps you awake in the middle of the night and irritates the hell out of you ... but she was also a lady with integrity, emotion and guts (and before you say anything that isn't a reference to her weight problem, even though I acknowledge that was a problem for her). She also was also a strong advocate of gay rights and was majorly involved in the fight against AIDS and lent her support (and money) to many charities. At the 8th International Aids Conference in 1991, she said of the first President Bush: "I'm not even sure if he knows how to spell AIDS." Classic!! She raised millions.

she was a pretty good actress. I concede, not everything Liz did was good, particularly her output in her latter years, but who can forget "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof"? "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"? I've got "Cat" on DVD and another movie she did based on a Tennessee Williams play, "Suddenly Last Summer", and I love 'em (I'm a big fan of Mr Williams' writing too, and have recently been teaching "Streetcar Named Desire" to my A Level students - I adored it, and they do too). In fact I'm gonna rewatch these films in a day or two, to celebrate the life of this special lady.

And here's a few clips to remember her by...

"Aaaah a cat on a hot tin rroof!!" Doesn't she look stunning here?

Hilarious trailer for "Suddenly Last Summer" (this film is as camp as knickers - and it's not just Liz's presence that guarantees that):

Taylor and Burton getting nasty in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (art very much imitating life). Couldn't resist putting up a couple of clips here. Love Liz's line in the first one ("I swear if you existed, I'd divorce you".) Then doing the "public display of our bad marriage" thing in front of friends - soooo embarrassing. Liz seems to hit the booze with remarkable...conviction.

RIP Elizabeth!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

No longer the apple of my eye

Read this and disapprove of what Apple approves. I did!

The ultimate irony is, I bought a new iPod today. Kind of wish I hadn't now...

Thanks to my blogging pal Eva for bringing this to our attention...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Remembering the Brig

I'm back from Brazil now. Had a lovely time, even if I didn't get as much of a tan as I'd hoped...! Always a shock coming back to cold Blightey, though fortunately it wasn't snowing...never very pleasant having to get back into work mode though. I just want to crawl into bed and stay there instead of facing hordes of marauding students!

Anyway just a quick note to mark the sad passing of actor Nicholas Courtney, best known for playing long-running character/companion Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in "Dr Who". Nick C appeared alongside several incarnations of the Doc in the role of the Brig (Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy) and prior to that, made his Who debut as space agent Bret Vyon in an epic William Hartnell adventure, "The Dalek Masterplan"! He also popped up again in "The Sarah Jane Adventures" very recently, reunited with Liz Sladen.

I couldn't quite believe it when I heard he'd sometimes think these people will be around for ever. RIP Mr Courtney / Brigadier.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


...I'm going on holiday to the country wot has this as their flag...

.... and I can't bloody wait!!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Disco Darth

And - what about this??

Oddly enough, I'm actually planning a sci-fi themed fancy dress party for my birthday this March. I'm sure that comes as a great surprise to all of you...

He is the Disco Doctor

I was at Duckie last night and the first thing I heard as I walked through the door was this:

Ring any bells with any of you?? Fab!!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Rip off merchants and cheating b*stards

I feel compelled to write a post today, even though I hadn't planned on doing so this weekend (sorry folks, again you will have gathered I'm very much a part time blogger at present....but still here though!!)

Today Gustavo and his cousin were out shopping in Camden whilst I stayed at home doing my usual Sunday college work. Whilst they were looking round the market, Gustavo's cousin had her bag - containing purse, credit cards, mobile and brand new digital camera - stolen. One minute she was walking round the stalls and shops with Gustavo enjoying herself, the next it had totally vanished. Some thieving personage obviously whipped it off her shoulder when she wasn't looking. I don't think she was being particularly inattentive, but it still happened. Naturally she was majorly upset and in floods of tears afterwards. An awful thing to happen and her weekend has now been ruined. What kind of ar*eholes get a kick out of doing this kind of thing?

I mentioned on a previous post that I've bought a brand new car and sold my old model. What I didn't mention was the rigmarole I went through in flogging it (but after what happened to Gu's cousin today I feel extremely angry and the need to do some serious venting, all of which is related to the above). I eventually ended up getting a pretty good deal from a buyer who paid me cash up front for the car; this was only after I'd received a number of scam emails from "buyers" who said they wanted to purchase the car through PayPal (an online payment merchant) without even coming to view it and giving me various "explanations" as to why they preferred this method. One such "buyer" nearly got the better of me.

Now, I'm definitely not what you'd call naive, but I'm not always wise to every one's tricks...well, who is in this life? The "buyer", who called themselves Maria, emailed me to say that they had seen my ad on Autotrader and wanted to purchase the car for their son as a surprise birthday present - they claimed they were at an industry exhibition and didn't have the time to come and view it. I guess I thought that was odd, and given the amount I was asking for the car, an awful lot of money to pay without even wanting to check it out! I said as much to the "buyer" in my reply, but they then came back saying they were happy to buy the car, were very keen etc and just wanted me to email my PayPal details so they could send through the payment asap. This was when slight alarm bells went off in my head...I'd heard stories that you should never send your personal/financial details to strangers.

So, instead I emailed the buyer back to say I would send them an invoice from my Paypal account asking for the payment to be made; that way I could safely wait for the money to be sent to me and if they were genuine then I would receive the payment. I completed the invoice with the amount owed and emailed it to the buyer.

The next day, I received a message from "Maria" saying she had sent the money through to my PayPal account, however, when I checked there was nothing there. 0.00. "Maria" then emailed me again to say that for the funds to be released to my Paypal account, I needed to make a payment of £500 to Western Union first, as the car was going to be shipped to them - they were not currently living in London. They assured me that the shipping fee would be refunded in the amount that had been sent through to my PayPal account, once I had sent the money to Western Union. This was the alarm bells started to ring even louder. There had been absolutely no mention of shipping and additional costs before and things were now becoming far too complicated. I emailed the buyer back to say thank you, but no, I no longer wished to proceed with the purchase as a) Nothing about shipping fees had been discussed before and this hadn't been part of the deal b) I hadn't even received payment from the buyer.

"Maria" then came back again, then saying that they had sent through the payment already from their account and what were they supposed to do now, as the money couldn't be "recalled". They said I was reneging on the deal, this was unfair, etc and they wanted to discuss the matter with me, or ... they would take legal action. They left a phone number.

If I'd stopped to think about this properly I would have realised the contradiction - that the money had been apparently sent to my account yet couldn't be released until I made the shipping fee payment - this was really just a load of baloney. However by this stage I still had the very positive feeling that I was dealing with someone dishonest and dodgy.

Being the fair person I am, I actually rang them up. The person that answered the phone was definitely not "Maria", but a foreign-sounding man who said his wife Maria was away at present and he was speaking on her behalf. He kept insisting that the money had been sent to me and so I couldn't pull out of the deal. I kept saying that I was sorry but nothing to do with shipping costs had been mentioned before and I wanted to sell the car in a straightforward transaction, rather than this method. They kept talking and talking and ignoring what I was saying and insisting I pay Western Union or they would take legal action. Whatever I said would not dissuade them. In the end I had to say goodbye and hung up.

Cut to a few hours later. I'd gone into work and was sitting at my desk checking my emails. Suddenly I receive a "legal action" email from PayPal saying I had two hours to make payment to the client or I would be reported to the FBI. I admit, a horrible chill went through me when I read this. Oh my God. I actually felt incredibly nervous and frightened at this point. Was it for real?

I then thought, I have to get this all properly checked out. I rang up Paypal and explained about the email that I'd just received. They almost immediately verified that no such email had been sent by them and it was very likely a scam. The relief I felt was immense. I forwarded the email to their "spoof" dept and they were able to back this up - the email had been sent by a fake buyer who was trying to embezzle funds and I should ignore any further communication from them. Again, massive relief.

Nevertheless, I was also left feeling extremely angry and incensed by what I'd been put through, wasting my time dealing with someone who wasn't remotely interested in buying my car but just wanted to take my money. And judging by the other emails I'd received from "buyers" similar to "Maria", there were a hell of a lot of people out there doing similar things.

I guess I shouldn't have done it but I couldn't resist emailing "Maria" back again and telling her: "I now know that you are a fake buyer and you have no intention of buying my car. I think you are disgusting. Now go away." They replied saying: "Don't hang that "checked with PayPal stuff" on me, that won't work. We are sending the FBI to your address tomorrow afternoon, so you will be sorry, swear down". Unbelievable. Of course nothing happened the next day, but it just proves that there are no limits to the depths to which some desperate people will go...I felt sorely tempted to send another response, but this would of course have added further fuel to the fire, and probably have made me as bad as them. So I left it at that.

The point I'm getting to here is just how terrible it is to know that there are so many rotten, cheating b*stards out there that will willingly and knowingly try to rip people off, one way or another, whether it be through stealing people's bags or embezzling their money over the internet. What kind of sad existences do these people live? How can they actually live with themselves? It's very obvious and cliched, but I honestly think this planet we live on is getting worse and the people who inhabit it more and more unpleasant, selfish and acquisitive. Some people, anyway.

I hope you have all had a better weekend!

OC x

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Go into the garden, go under the ivy...

I'm a big Kate Bush fan. And one of my Crimbo pressies was a brand new biography of Ms Bush, "Under The Ivy, by Graeme Thomson. I've only just finished it, but it's recommended reading, especially for KB fans. There've been several past attempts at cataloguing the events of Kate's life but generally these literary endeavours were deemed duds - Thomson's offering, however, is far more extensive and provides a wealth of information regarding the weird but wonderful songstress (especially the periods when she's working on her latest albums...) Okay, it does go a little overboard with certain details but you get lots of insights into a) Kate's wonderfully bohemian and hippy-dippy family and their influence on her (I wish I could think of a better term than "hippy", it's so....reductive. Anyone care to help out?) b) The painstaking process by which she produces her music (demanding that musicians perform 20+ takes of a particular instrument "bit", for instance) c) Her growing demand for privacy as the years go on d) The paradox of having to do the whole publicity thing at the expense of c). I kind of wished the book had lifted the lid a little more on the "inner Kate" but this is probably as close as we're going to get.

And reading all about Kate and her music made me want to dig out all my old KB CDs again and give them a (long delayed) play. "The Dreaming" in particular, an album that never makes an easy listen, surprised me with its craziness and creativity (it was, in many ways, a landmark album that marked a breakaway from the "old style" Kate). But "Hounds of Love" will always be, for me, Kate's complete and utter opus, when her voice and songwriting powers were at their zenith. Sheer brilliance.

And...stop the press! There's rumours of some new Kate stuff this year!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Nina, schizo ballerina

A belated Happy New Year, everybody. I'm back!

Boy, am I finding this month hard to get through financially. I'm willing to bet a lot of you are in exactly the same situation. Xmas shopping did drain the old cofffers although not as much as I thought it would; nevertheless it's still been a bit tight until pay day. Ho hum. Not as bad as all that. I guess the brand new car I purchased just before Crimbo might have had something to do with it...I figured it was time I traded in my old model for a new one and it was money well spent (I sold my Ford Focus and bought a Ford Fiesta Zetec, in case you're's in hot magenta and has ambient lighting!! Ooer. I love it).

Anyhow, even though spending has had to be reigned in, I managed to go to the pictures last night to see "Black Swan". I wanted to see what all the hype was about.

Very good and very creepy would be my summation. Admittedly it does take a while to get going and the real "horror" aspect doesn't kick in until about 2/3 of the way through....but worth seeing. For those of you not in the know, the movie concerns a production of "Swan Lake" by New York City ballet company. The production requires a ballerina to play both the innocent White Swan and the sensual Black Swan. One dancer, Nina (Portman), is a perfect fit for the White Swan, while Lily (Mila Kunis) has a personality that matches the Black Swan. When the two compete for the parts, Nina finds a dark side to herself and starts to experience elaborate hallucinations and delusions about other people and their behaviour. From thereon, things spiral drastically downwards...

Natalie Portman was excellent as Nina, doing the whole "driven but repressed ballet dancer" bit convincingly, hardly surprising, given the presence of her overbearing and controlling mother, played by Barbara Hershey (an actress you don't see much of these days but who I used to love in films like "Hannah and Her Sisters". Good to see her back, but what has she done to her teeth? Huge overbite or what...) Kunis, an actress I haven't seen in anything else, made a good foil for Portman's uptight Nina as her sassy ballet dancing colleague and the scenes where she takes her out to get her p*ssed, then drugs her drink, are entertaining (and then there's the raunchy shenanigans that follow...)

The horror aspect was well conveyed with several genuinely disturbing and unsettling moments e.g. the part when Nina's mothers' paintings all start talking to and mocking her and her eyes turn swan red. Not to mention the strange barbed black things that start poking up out of Nina's skin. Ugggh! I won't say any more otherwise there won't be any surprising nasty bits left, for those of you that are planning on seeing it. The psychological angle - are all of these things genuinely happening or are they in Nina's mind? - made the film gripping for me, and put me in mind of old movies like "Repulsion", "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives", even if the final revelation was kind of obvious.

My criticisms would be that the film has a rather unrelentingly "dour" feel about it and there's not much humour in evidence. The muted visuals/cinematography (there's little colour in there) reinforce this atmosphere but that's kind of deliberate I think - emphasising the harshness and claustrophobia of Nina's world. Every now and then colour breaks through e.g. the scene when a drugged-up/p*ssed Nina goes to the club and is bathed in red whilst a strobed light flashes - all very symbolic.

The dance sequences, in particular the final realisation of "Swan Lake" at the end - are pretty amazing and it's clear that Portman can do ballet (although apparently she's replaced in some long shots - still not as bad as Jennifer Beales in "Flashdance" who didn't dance properly atall. Pah!).

It really creeped me out and I want to see it again!

And it's made me want to go out and buy the soundtrack to the real "Swan Lake". Truly moving and beautiful music. Erm...oh yeah. When I've got some money.

4 out of 5.