Doctor Strange and the Preceding Trailers

Yes, I appreciate “the preceding trailers” is an oxymoron. Don’t blame me, blame the language.

Before

First of all, the trailers. The trailer for Fantastic Beasts looks like a hell of a lot of fun. It’s all the magic and fun of (early) Harry Potter, but without all those meddling kids. Also without the level of British acting chops the main series had, so we shall see.

The main things that struck me about the Rogue One trailer were the nostalgia combined with cool effects. Then I noticed the multicultural cast… who were supporting a feud between two white Europeans, but still. Also, I do hope the new tagline will be “A beautiful Englishwoman saves the galaxy… again!”

Also, Hollywood was really creeped out by Mads Mikkelsen’s turn as Hannibal Lecter, huh?

On to the film itself after the cut.

Continue reading

Other Kinds of Regeneration

For anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with me or any of my social networks, it will be fairly obvious why I’m interested in regeneration right now. Nonetheless, I’m not going to talk about that right now, except to say that I’m excited by everything that has been broadcast so far1 and am looking forward to what is coming next2.

But I am going to pose this awesomeness.

No, what I want to talk about is Elementary and Sherlock. Putting aside the relative successes of the shows and the actors involved, it occurred to me today while watching Joan Watson solve the final puzzle in a case she was working on with Sherlock that Elementary has much more potential for longevity and originality than Sherlock.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Sherlock. It’s a stylish modern adaptation of the original Doyle stories, and Elementary certainly is not that. What Elementary is is much more original, taking only inspiration from the original texts. It also includes a method of deduction which can be taught and is currently being taught to Watson. This means that should Miller (Holmes) move on to other things, the show still has a detective protagonist who can continue to solve cases in the same environment with the same supporting cast and the same title. I’m not saying it’d be good, but it’s possible.

I’ve been watching a lot of House M.Drecently, too. “Rewatching” is probably more accurate, since I’ve seen all but the last season at the time of posting. Regardless of my shaky memory of later seasons, it occurred to me that there’s no possible way to continue House M.D. without, well, House. I wouldn’t watch Cuddy M.D. or Wilson M.D., despite the fact that I love both those characters. House is very much centred around house.

Sherlock has the same issue. It’s all about the interaction between Cumberbatch‘s Holmes and Freeman’s Watson. Despite an excellent supporting cast, the show could not exist without them, although it could probably limp along for a season or two without Watson.

On the other hand, Elementary is developing the world where Holmes is not a genius-savant with no equal. Watson is already proving that with time and training she could become his equal. The show could regenerate with Lucy Liu as the main character, and taking on her own apprentice. Just as a woman could be the next Doctor (and should be, in my opinion), Liu’s Watson could easily be the new Sherlock Holmes. There is precedent for this.

Honestly, I’d continue to watch the show even without Miller. I think there’s enough there to create some interesting drama. On the other hand, so much of Sherlock and House M.D are based around their main characters that they couldn’t possibly survive without Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Laurie respectively.

What’s the point of this blog? I suppose it’s that not only Time Lords regenerate, and that maybe that’s not all bad.

Sherlocks

1The Night of the Doctor (OMG, 8!), The Last Day (OMG Arcadia), and And Adventure in Space and Time (OMG Hartnell).

2 The Day of the Doctor and the unnamed Xmas special with Peter Capaldi as the 12th (non-War) Doctor.

Friends with Benefits (Movie Review)

This is about the movie. If that’s not what you were searching for, I think that room is down the hall.

I was watching for the articles, I swear!

I was watching for the articles, I swear!

Anyway, tonight I watched Friends with Benefits starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Yes, you can predict the entire plot of the movie from the poster. I didn’t come to this movie expecting a cinematic revelation and if you did you’re an idiot.

What this movie has, though is a lot of witty dialogue and some genuinely identifiable moments, such as the breakup scenes or moments with Timberlake’s family in Los Angeles.

The characters are two beautiful, successful people with rough histories with relationships. They come to business become good friends… I think you get it.

For all that it was predictable, there is no dull moment, as every second these two characters interact is a delight. They have great on-screen chemistry and the dialogue just bounces along beautifully.

There are two very moving minor roles I’d like to highlight too. Firstly Woody Harrelson as the gay sports reporter. It sounds like a one-note character and for the most part he is, but the small switch of sexuality in an old trope really makes the character come alive. He also gets one of the best scenes that doesn’t include both leads. Overacted wonderfully to create an entirely believable character.

Secondly is Richard JenkinsAlzheimer’s suffering father. The pain he feels over lost love and lost memories is palpable, and I think you can really see the man he was and the man Timberlake’s character looked up to along with the shades of himself he is gradually becoming.

I like Romantic Comedies. They’re uplifting, relatable in a very stylized way (something the movie comments on itself before falling into its own tropes) and sometimes even funny. If you’re like me, then Friends with Benefits is for you. It’s well worth a watch, even if it’s not in my top 5 Rom Coms.

If your tastes don’t run the same way, this is probably one to give a miss, as it doesn’t really push any boundaries or create anything new. That is, if you get bored of looking at Justin and Mila for 90 minutes. If so, then I’m just not sure who you are any more.

Is One the Loneliest Number or the Best Way to Be?

Warning: heavy-handed How I Met Your Mother similies approaching.

Amongst single people, you have two types: those who want to be in a long-term relationship (Ted Mosebys) and those who don’t (Barney Stinsons). Equally, as an ex and good friend recently pointed out to me, there are two types of encoupled people: what Bridget Jones called “smug marrieds” (Eriksens) and those who envy the singles (let’s say “envious marrieds”/Robin Scherbatsky).

Regular readers of my blog, if they exist, can probably guess in which categories I tend to fall. Nonetheless, I’d like to make this more of a public service kind of blog. I’m going to discuss singledom and coupledom from these perspectives in order to provide comfort for those in a situation they aren’t entirely happy with. With that in mind, I’ll skip the Eriksons and the Barney Stinsons, as chances are they’re in exactly the situation they want to be in. Instead, this blog is to the Robins and Teds of the world. Skip to the part that most affects you.

A letter to Ted:

Ted, you’re single right now. Since you’re a metaphor rather than the actual character, I won’t tell you to be with Victoria you fucking moron. That’s a blog for another day. Instead, I’d like to list all the things that are good about being single.

  • You have the chance to be alone after a long day
  • You can sleep with whoever you want to sleep with (given the opportunity)
  • You get the whole bed to yourself!
  • You never have to compromise what you want to do, think or say
  • You only have one family to deal with at Christmas
  • In a serious relationship, your future is mapped out
  • You can socialise with friends or family without guilt of neglect
  • Watch children’s TV without judgement to see you at your worst
  • There’s no one to see you at your worst

Good Advice

A letter to Robin:

So, Robin. You’re in a happy relationship, but you envy those friends who are out being fancy free. If you were the character, I’d say DON’T MARRY BARNEY, but you’re not, so I’ll tell you the advantages of being in a (good) couple instead.

  • There’s always someone there when you’ve had a bad day
  • You get to sleep with someone who knows what you like
  • You don’t have to sleep alone
  • You can share responsibility for mistakes, gifts, etc.
  • In a serious relationship, your future is mapped out
  • You always have someone to go to a party or stay home with
  • Watch children’s TV with a partner in mockery and enjoyment
  • There’s someone to love you at your worst
  • Someone will always think and say good things about your looks/personality/insert your insecurity here

I can’t think of a way to bring this post to a satisfying conclusion without undermining the above, so have some more Alyson Hannigan instead.

Failing that, just try to be happy with what you have until the situation naturally changes. I’m trying to teach myself that life is a journey. Some views you see alone, some together, and others still you have to see in both lights to get the full effect.

Peace out.

Racism?

Yes, it’s a cliché to open with a definition. So sue me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about racism; about what is or isn’t acceptable.

In my job, you meet a lot of people from a lot of countries, and also a lot of people who have visited a lot of countries. Needless to say, this means that my colleagues and I see a lot of cultural diversity in almost everything we do. Is it entirely wrong to comment on it, or only to do so with malice?

Amongst my closest friends here I have Mexicans (obviously), a Frenchman, a Texan, a Hungarian, a Welshwoman, a guy from the Czech Republic (if memory serves) via well to so Middle England, and others. I am from working class South Yorkshire. We often joke about cultural differences and stereotypes (discussions often but not always instigated by me), and I wonder where the line is amongst friends. I think all my friends and colleagues here are friendly, warm, likeable people, and it would hurt me greatly to think that I’d offended them. That said, I don’t think I have. I think these issues are easier amongst people you know.

On the other hand, there are third party observations that ESL teachers are also guilty of. I’ve heard (and said) things like:

– “If you think it’s corrupt here, you should see XYZ!”
– “Yeah, Mexicans walk slowly, but ZYX walk slower.”
– “Mexico’s problem is just how disorganised it is.”
– “I hated ABC. Everyone was so rude!”

These points are asides from all the things we love about a place, of course. As teachers, we have a tendency to moan. British teachers doubly so. Mexico is here as an example because that’s where I am right now.

Anyway, when you’re at home amongst people who share a culture (even if it’s not your whole ethnic make-up) it’s a little easier to draw the line, I think. In Britain, there’ll always be the middle class fear of offending someone, but broadly speaking, you neither badmouth people who are different nor discuss the ways they are different, save on an ideological level. Out in the world where you’re living the cultural differences, it’s almost impossible not to discuss them. Particularly when you come across the rarity which is an accent that matches your own.

At the risk of mentioning Jeremy Clarkson in two posts in a row, the Mexican Top Gear scandal from a couple of years ago particularly comes to mind. In the episode (see below) Richard Hammond and co. compare a Mexican car to the bigot-approved “facts” about Mexican people as smelly, lazy, stupid desert-dwellers*. This is a perspective from men who leave their country only to mock others while simultaneously living up to the worst possible white Westerner stereotypes. This is racism, and outside of irony with friends, far from what I would ever allow to genuinely pass my lips.

I suppose this is more of a question-post than an answer-post. When you see cultural difference every day, when you travel to places where ideals, processes and habits are different: is it wrong to say so? I’d love your opinions on this.

*I have to say here that since I’ve been in Mexico, I don’t think I’ve met a lazy Mexican. Certain none lazier than me. Though I’ve seen some corruption (and even benefited from it) and a few ripe-smelling people on the tightly-packed public transport, these are certainly the exceptions rather than the rule. Geographically, there is so much varied landscape to see in Mexico without a grain of sand in sight. From a non-native Mexican inhabitant, Clarkson is an idiot.

30 Days Challenge: Day 26: First 10 songs to play on shuffle on your iPod

Okay, so here we go. Any errors are due to this being written on my phone while waiting for a student to turn up.

First is Katmandu by Bob Seger. I discovered it by accident when downloading a different song (Old Time Rock and Roll), and I absolutely love it. It represents a love of one’s home country and also the utter need to run away. He has a great voice for singing about a hard decision.

Next up: She’s Got the Look by Roxette. “And I go la la la la la she’s got the look” – with lyrical magesty like that, how could I not?

Just My Imagination by The Cranberries. Mostly, I admit, because of her accent and the way she sings the word “imagination”. I also love the line: “I have always kept my faith in love: it’s the greatest gift from the man above.”

That’s three, right? Okay, next up… Bad Things by Jace Everett (also known as the theme to True Blood). The deep, gutteral tones in hos voice just really draw me into what I imagine is a series of dank bars and danker motel rooms. It really tells me a story. Is also recommend The Good Life by the same artist. No, it isn’t about suburban rebellion.

(Skipped one because The Good Life actually came up next. Loved for the same reason. These songs make me think of a sleazier CCR.)

Andrew In Drag by The Magnetic Fields. I first heard about this song from Neil Gaiman’s blog. It makes me smile, it tells me a story, and to me it sort of sounds like Jeremy Clarkson’s coming out song. Particularly: “…I would even sell the Jaaaaaaag…”

Stay by The Hollies. Shut up. This was bound to go downhill coolness-wise. Anyway, it makes me tap my foot and smile, which can help on my regular, sweaty commutes.

We Want the Same Thing by Belinda Carlisle. Largely the same as the above, really. It also combines that cheerfulness with a kind of aggression in the verses which also helps to perk me up.

Nickelback singing How You Remind Me. Again, the aggression and loud guitar can get me up and going in the morning. There are better Nickelback songs for the purpose, but this was the one on the compelation I downloaded.

Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely) by Pink. This is a favourite I share with an ex of mine. Great tune, with a kind of aggression that can really get you onto the Metrobus in the morning. Favourite line: “All I ask for is one fucking hour!”

Foreigner, Cold as Ice. Um… I don’t know. I like it. Shut up. Although it does have some nice imagery around the repetitive chorus. And I like it. So there.

Lodi by Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). Other than the very chilled sounds, this song really speaks to the baffled, planless way I progress through life. The confusion, adventure and ennui of that kind of life that you can hear in the performance speak to me on a personal level.

I have some time, so I’ll give you one more (and partly because it’s difficult to scroll and count on my phone’s screen.

Paradise City by Guns ‘N’ Roses. Travelling and looking for pretty girl’s? Yeah, I totally get that. Also the sheer confidence, the guitar, the chorus – like I said before, sometimes I need these things on my daily commute.

So if you see me walking down the street nodding my head mouthing words, chances are it’s to one of these songs. The examples could’ve been so much worse. I though that went rather well!

Speak soon, true believers!