Monday, 25 November 2013


No, I haven't seen Friends With Benefits. It looks crap, so why would I? But I did see the DVD case in a shop at the weekend, and couldn't help but wonder. You see, it's basically a film about f***buddies. Of course, being a Hollywood romcom, said buddies fall in love "properly" at the end (so IMDB tells me).

Anyway, sorry to lower the tone and everything, but I was just wondering - given that it's about f***buddies, do you think the handsigns photoshopped onto Justin and Mila are coincidence or intentional?

Or should I just be worried about my subconscious mind? And/or grow up?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bobby and Marty

Early last year, I made the assertion that Robert De Niro hasn't made a really good film since Cape Fear. I was thinking about this some more last night (whilst watching Cape Fear again - thanks ITV4). And you know what? I might have been a little harsh. I think you can make a case for his portrayal of the monster in 1994's Frankenstein (here's evidence of that, with added Bonham-Carter content) and he puts in a fine shift, albeit in a supporting role, in Sleepers, from 1996 (he makes a fine priest, don't you think?) Oh, and I probably need to watch Casino again before I pass definitive judgement on that.

But now... there's hope for a new entry in the canon. The Family is directed by Luc Besson, exec-produced by Martin Scorsese, and also stars the always-watchable Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones in the sort of grizzled role he has made his own. The signs are good. I'm a little concerned, of course, that this looks like a comedy, at least in part, and De Niro's comedic touch is sometimes... well, let's move on. Much is being made of the fact that Scorsese is on-board, probably because of the assumption that, even if only as an executive producer, the combination of Bobby and Marty will once more weave its magic.

Here's the trailer, which is probably enough to secure my cinema-going pounds. What do you all think? Am I (for once) being hopelessly optimistic, or might it actually be good?

Monday, 4 November 2013

I've lost something...

At the start of American Beauty, in his voiceover introduction, Lester Burnham says:

"Both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser and they're right, I have lost something. I'm not exactly sure what it is but I know I didn't always feel this... sedated. But you know what? It's never too late to get it back."

It's a great line, in a film that is peppered with them. But is Lester right? Is it never too late?

Until quite recently, I used to think I had my finger, if not on the pulse, well, at least I'd be feeling around in the right area. I knew my way around contemporary music, who was popular and why. Now, if I turn on Radio 1, within moments I am wondering when the mainstream became quite so shit. The Top 40 means virtually nothing to me. It's inexplicably one-dimensional and, almost without exception, crap - when did that happen? And since we're on the subject of such inponderables, why can't a track just be credited to an artist? Why do so many songs have to be by X (featuring Y), or A (vs B), or M (N & O remix)? And it's not just the music, it's the zeitgeist that surrounds popular culture; how, for example, did Nick Grimshaw become successful or famous? (For extra credit, discuss when the latter became more important than the former.) What aspects of his life, personal or professional, merit his current ubiquity? As far as I can tell, he's appalling, little more than a box-ticking generic presenter created in much the same way as Cowell et al create short-lived chart acts except, unlike Cowell, the BBC should surely know better.

As if to confirm to myself that I've somehow got old, take a look at my Songkick gigography - who have I been to see this year? The Boomtown Rats, The Smyths, The Stone Roses, The Selecter and Johnny Marr. All either old men, or in the case of The Smyths (who were brilliant, by the way) designed to appeal to old men. To top it off, I'm going to see The Wedding Present again next month. Oh, and CDs (yes, I still buy physical product, no MP3 downloads for me - QED, right?)... the only album I bought this year by an artist I haven't already known and loved for years is Ritual, Tradition, Habit by The Belle Game.... and I haven't listened to that yet in the two months I've had it.

Physically... well, I dream of waking up one morning without back ache. And I'd love to be able to sleep on my left-hand side without having to contend with a persistent dull ache below the ribs on that side in the morning. I mean, I try to stay fittish - I run, I play football, the bike comes out of the shed on a semi-regular basis. But five years ago I was running half-marathons, and had pace on the pitch. That's all gone now. All of it. Last week, at five-a-side, we were short of players, as were the group on the next pitch, so we ended up playing each other. And okay, yes, I was conceding fifteen years to most of the lads on the other team, but it wasn't even close. It was even worse than watching Norwich City step aside for Man City at the weekend.

My career could, at best, be described as stationary. Others would say it is in gradual decline, and I couldn't disagree. A creative writing sideline, which yielded a degree of critical and commercial early success, is struggling to stay afloat. My best friends are miles away, so what little social time I have, "me" time, is literally that - I sit alone in a darkened cinema. And I have become my father, not least in falling asleep on the sofa most evenings when I am too tired to do anything but also just too tired to get up and go to bed properly. On the rare occasion that I look in the mirror I see a greying, balding man with crows feet at his eyes and more salt than pepper in his beard. My first reaction is usually, who are you?

I'm 43 now, a year older than Lester in his introduction. Apart from that, most of what else he says in this clip is pretty much on the money for me, thematically if not in the detail. I do think that maybe he's wrong at the end though - there does come a point when it's too late to get it back. I know - I've been trying and "it" just keeps getting further away.

I'm guessing that most readers of this blog are within five years of me either way, so what do you all think? Am I alone in feeling like this?