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Zombies! What are they good for?

Zombies! What are they good for?

Zombies only want you for your brains

Zombies only want you for your brains

A debate that HyperHam seems to be having with her mother (and defacto, me) …

What can you do with an untamed zombie?

So we’re leaving out the zombies at the end of Shaun of the Dead, Fido and Land of the Dead, ie the ones that have either been trained, or shown signs of doing things other than wanting to eat your brains out.

This does include zombies who can talk and reason – as in the ones in Tasty Flesh and Marvel Zombies – just as long as they still have an all-consuming desire to eat your brains and flesh.

Suggestions that we’ve had so far include:

  • Prostitutes/escorts – which wouldn’t work because prostitutes/escorts work for money. And what’s the good of money if it doesn’t get you brains? Plus, of course, would a zombified escort want their client’s money or their brain? Their brain, of course.
  • Loan shark heavies – ie a loan shark, or someone you owe money to, threatens to send zombies to your door. This wouldn’t work because a zombie let loose would end up chomping through the brains of the person you owed money to – or worse yet, turning them into zombies. And a zombie isn’t going to work hard to pay up your debt.

Surely, the whole reason that zombies are such a popular topic in culture is because they stand for the relentless, the indefinable. The thing that cannot be stopped, reasoned with or outnumbered.

Of course, I say all this without having seen a single zombie film (aside from the rather terrible Resident Evil: Apocalypse) because I’m rather scared of them in the movie world. Of course, this didn’t stop HyperHam buying me the surprisingly good The Zen of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead which is a great read. With a couple of good life lessons thrown in for good measure.

Note to future self: I’m scared of zombies. So stop looking for Flickr pics of zombies at midnight. Because it’s just going to scare you.

Reigniting my inner film geek love

Reigniting my inner film geek love

I used to be a bit of a film geek, inhaling movies. I’d buy Empire magazine every month, and go see a film (as long as it wasn’t horror, gore, or involved zombies or crabs) via my local university film club every week. Sometimes twice a week (oooh, get him!)

Then real life intervened, London prices arrived, and I just … stopped. Of course, seeing the terrible films Batman and Robin, and Jurassic Park II within a week of each other didn’t help at all. Neither, ironically, did becoming a professional film reviewer where film-watching no longer became a leisurely activity, but something that was work and that I’d have to write up afterwards.

Sure, there were the glam moments (well, if you count having a bored Julianne Moore scowling at you at 10am because she thinks you’re a Japanese film journalist) but also having to review dross like Help I’m A Fish and Mission: Impossible 2 didn’t help.

So, while I didn’t turn my back entirely on cinema – The Matrix made me revise my entire thoughts on Hong Kong cinema – I’m not the raving film geek I used to be. At least not till tonight.

Tonight, I went to see Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Inglourious Basterds. And bugger me, I loved it. Even if it didn’t have any of the crash, bang, wallop that you’d expect. Instead, it’s a love letter to dialogue in multiple languages, to European cinema, to war-torn Europe, and for 147 minutes I was utterly captivated by the words, the acting, everything. Even the set.

Go, and see it.

Film pop quiz, hotshot…

Film pop quiz, hotshot…

I’ve been tagged by Jan to do this follow up to the 100 books meme, using the Channel 4 list of top 100 films (which is probably a bit more realistic than the AFI one).

Wax on, wax off

Wax on, wax off

When I gingerly went to a start-up group of British Chinese comedians, I didn’t actually have many things in common with the urban actors/writers before me who’d spent their formative years going to their local Chinatown.

Fortunately, one thing we did all bond on was our common experience over The Karate Kid. Not so much in watching it, but in that our playground “peers” would constantly reference it or point to it in conversations/taunts with our younger selves. Even now, catchphrases from that 25-year-old film still loom large in my head. Left-a-circle, right-a-circle. Wax on, wax off. And of course, the semi-legendary crane kick.

Looking back on it, it’s actually a semi-charming if rather unoriginal film – and the less said of the sequels the better. A lot has to do, of course, with the original casting of Pat Morita, who actually somehow managed to give the cliched idea of an Eastern old wise man a soupcon of gravitas and background.

Fast-forward to today, and Empire Online and BBC News bring the news that Jackie Chan may be cast as the wise muse in a remake of the Karate Kid. Which strikes me as terrible news for the following reasons:

– Does the Karate Kid really need to be remade? It wasn’t that brilliant an idea to begin with, what’s a 21st Century spin going to give it?
– Jackie Chan. Many things he is, but a charming wise muse, he is not. There’s no actual acting ability or charisma behind Jackie Chan – and to be fair, most of the time there doesn’t have to be one. He just usually plays hapless if nimble foreigner. But a wise muse? You might as well cast the manic Jim Carrey as that.

The whole thing is a really terribly bad idea, and I for one hope it never happens. But then I bet I’ll spot it in the straight-to-DVD shelves 3 years from now.

What movies have I seen?

What movies have I seen?

Abandoned cinema

Originally uploaded by andre.govia

Despite describing myself as a film geek, I haven’t actually seen that many films. At least, recently. But let’s see how many I have seen…

Apparently, if you’ve seen over 85 films, you have no life. (What about those of us who’ve never had a life to begin with ?!)

Mark the ones you’ve seen. There are 239 films on this list. Copy this list, and see how many you’ve seen…

Why does Bond still feel "right"?

Why does Bond still feel "right"?

I’m not particularly used to seeing things I like becoming media obsessions, so while it’s strange enough seeing Doctor Who things emblazoned across shelves in shops, it’s now become a daily occurence. Whereas the sheer juggernaut that has become Bond has emblazoned itself across seemingly every magazine in the newsagents, every music channel and a documentary on the BBC, presented by the still-surprisingly-sultry Joanna Lumley with voiceovers from silky-smooth Jonathan Pryce.

Despite all that, despite the fact that Quantum of Solace (and the Bond films generally) rate as one of the highest commercial films ever with product placement galore and a guaranteed moneyspinner with limitless franchise potential, I’m still finding myself getting rather excited about it all. The theme song has a great bass drum (at least I think it’s bass), the plot seems unremittingly grim and unreconstructed.

Any long-running franchise like this would probably have been re-booted and Hollywood-ized umpteen times – and indeed, the Bond franchise has been. But it still feels right, especially with the obsession with Fleming-esque titles. Whatever it means, I love the title Quantum of Solace – it just *sounds* right.

Yes, it’s a generic staid formula – but, alas I love it. Oddly, I’ve never bothered checking the world of Bond Internet fandom, and it’s one of the few things I like that I don’t look up online. Presumably because I don’t feel the need to – and I’m not sure what there is to discuss really. It’s all there on the screen/book… isn’t it?

When Ewan McGregor and I worked together

When Ewan McGregor and I worked together

Me and Ewan McGregor in Rogue Trader In the late 1990s, in-between freelance web jobs, I spent a day as an extra, being a Singaporean stock trader in the film Rogue Trader, a film about how stocktrader Nick Leeson managed to bring down the United Kingdom’s oldest investment bank. The film starred Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel.

Alas, any glamorous notions I had about finally being part of the film industry were somewhat thwarted by the sheer tedium of waiting around on film sets waiting for filming to start, with nothing to do except talk to equally disillusioned Chinese extras, who were mostly Filipino actors/actresses who’d come to London with dreams of treading the stage or doing some good acting, as opposed to ending up with a bunch of extras. Although I did manage to walk around the Pinewood Studios shop and buy a jacket.

After one day of work, being on/off set for about 10 hours and wasting three hours being shuttled between central London and Pinewood for £80 (and they were very keen to get people back for more extras shooting, but I’d rather sit in front of a computer pumping out webcode!), the net result is the picture you see. If you watch the film itself, I’m about 40 minutes into the film, just after Nick Leeson is celebrating Christmas with his girlfriend (Friel).

The only other time I saw it was when slightly drunk and waiting in eager anticipation to see The Matrix. One of the trailers that featured before it was for Rogue Trader, and I yelped in surprise when I saw a strangely familiar moon-shaped face staring at me on the screen before I realised it was me.

I kept meaning to track down the DVD but then to my surprise, when I stumbled in after a hard day at a works do summer party (football, softball, Pimms, quizzes and the odd bit of chat) to find the film showing on ITV4. And finally, I manage to capture my moment of fame alongside Ewan McGregor.

To come … how I had dinner with Frank Skinner and was in Stephen Fry‘s bedroom…

Will this put off women from stripping in my living room?

Will this put off women from stripping in my living room?

Finally, I have finished painting my living room (a combo of dark red and violet white!), and thought must now go towards how to decorate it.

I want to put up one movie-related poster or photo frame, and when I stumbled across a canvas print of the Dodge This! moment from The Matrix, I thought I’d found my ideal print.

But then zuzula counselled against this for the following reasons:

– The Matrix is soooo 1999. (Well, not her exact words, but it was about a decade ago)
– That picture is going to put off any women from stripping in my living room. Given that there are enough reasons for women not to strip off in my living room, adding extra obstacles to their path is not a good idea.

I didn’t buy it in the end because £25 for an unofficial canvas print is a wee bit extortionate. But is that image *really* going to put off women? Is the Matrix really that dead and buried now? Admittedly, the sequels were quite terrible, but I still think the original film stands up as almost a perfect combination of science fiction, cod psychology and computer effects.

Of course, other movie posters are also available. But I do want to avoid the cliche of sticking up a poster from Blade Runner or Betty Blue, so need to think of alternatives. Maybe Kill Bill. Or maybe the one of Angelina Jolie in Wanted, but that really *will* put women off from stripping in my living room.

Strippers and Oscars

Strippers and Oscars

(Yes, it’s a UK blog post NOT about the damn earthquake that may or may not have happened. For the record, I noticed it but thought it was a rumbling truck along the highway)

The bookshops are groaning and heaving under the combined weight of memoirs from strippers, high-class escorts, prostitutes, vigorously sexually active women. There’s so many of the darn things it’s hard to figure out a good one to read.

Fortunately, Oscar has come to the rescue. It turns out that the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Juno‘s first book was a stripping memoir.

She blogs. Amusingly, partly about her outrage to find people were selling their shoes based on the fact she wore them to the Oscars. Or something.

So Skarlett isn’t the only clever witty funny – and gainfully employed – person in Los Angeles…

Beowulf – you'll wet your pants!

Beowulf – you'll wet your pants!

I’ve just come back from seeing a preview of Beowulf in the best possible scenario – at an IMAX screen in 3D. Let me tell you, it’s a cinematic marvel.

I hadn’t heard anything about it at all until the other day, when Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins swooped in for the premiere. So I kinda knew it was computer-generated using virtual motion capture for the acting – which I had a bad feeling about because I really hated The Polar Express.

But I needn’t have worried. The actors looked like the actors – hell, forget computer graphics. That *was* Angelina Jolie rising out of the water, as sexy as ever. Even if she did have a scaly tail and impossibly beautiful (if spherical) breasts covered in mud. The sooner cinema gets to the point when you can take home your own computer-genreated 3D model of your favourite character as you leave the auditorium, the better. Seriously, the friend I took with me had no idea the acting was computer-animated. She knew something was slightly off, but she assumed it was a side-effect from the blurriness of the 3D IMAX format.

Over here, it seems to have been given a 12A rating. Which is so wrong. The first minute lulls you into a false sense of comfortableness, before it’s all blown apart in five harrowing minutes of gore, up close in CGI.

Once I got home, of course I had to look it up on Wikipedia. And while a lot of it did seem to have the Hollywood treatment, I was surprised at how much of it had been “changed” from the original story. Then again, the original tale has probably been augmented a lot (to say the least) over the years…

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