Friday, 21 December 2012

The Hobbit – an unexpected journey

The Hobbit – an unexpected journey
This is the story of Bilbo Baggins.  A hobbit who likes his home comforts.  He is rather put out when a load of dwarves turn up on his doorstep and start raiding his larder and throwing around his antique crockery. He is invited to join the dwarves quest but declines.  Of course he changes his mind or there wouldn’t be a story to tell.  This is the first part of a three film version of The Hobbit and this first film has many of the original stars of the ‘Lord of the rings’ trilogy.
Unfortunately, this film lacks impact for me.  I love Lord of the Rings films and adore The Hobbit book, but much of this film lacks a bit of character development and humour.  The actors do a sterling job but it is the script that I feel lets this film down.
I will not dwell on the negatives (well it is Christmas), but will instead offer my favourite parts.
The story of the Dwarves and how they lost their home, Erebor, was a good opener of action and I felt it fitted well for those who know Lord of the Rings films and do not know The Hobbit.
But the only outstanding scene in this film is the one with Gollum who steals the show.  He is absolutely brilliant and I loved the riddle game that he plays with Bilbo.  I love Gollum’s split personality with Smegel and how he talks to himself and how he uses the language to talk.  ‘What’s a bagginses?’  Gollum is what you call fantastic character development and not since Yoda has such a wonderful job been done.  Andy Serkis does a fantastic job (again) of Gollum and I just hope he gets recognised for the fine actor he is.
A mention should be made here for both Ian Mckellen who reprises his role of Galdalf the grey who holds the film together along with Martin Freeman as Bilbo, a newcomer to the cast but does a fantastic job of portraying the younger Bilbo (Ian Holm is still in the film as the older Bilbo).
I feel this film is like anticipating a good meal when you are really hungry. You are so looking forward to it that it just doesn’t deliver the high expectations you have built up.  I was hoping for this to be the film of the year but unfortunately I do not feel I can say that now.
As a side note, I watched this film in 3D at a Cineworld D-box.  The 3D effects are quite good. (Those of you who read my reviews regularly will know I do not love 3D as a rule). However I had expected more from the D-box but it moves a bit too gently (even on full) to work well with this film. Rather disappointing., especially considering that Pleasure Beach at Great Yarmouth has a 4D cinema which offers not only chairs that move, but water sprays, bubbles, feathers tickling you and 3D films!  I look forward to Cineworld taking the next steps!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Heaven 17 Luxury gap tour - London 3rd Nov 2012


Heaven 17 fans are going to live for a very long time!

Those of you who read my blog will know that I have already declared a love for Heaven 17.  But let me try to explain how I felt about this gig.
If you have seen the movie, love actually, you will know the story of Sarah, the American who is in love with Karl her co-worker for over two years. At the Christmas party they finally get it together and she invites him back to her house. She asks him to give her 5 mins and secretly jumps for joy behind the wall over how excited she is. Times that a few hundred times and it will give you an idea of how much I was looking forward to this gig! It was my birthday week and I had flown back from Prague the day before to see Heaven 17 do the Luxury Gap album in full.

My checklist:

·         Ensure you are in the country they are playing. (flew in from Prague especially)

·         Book a hotel so you never have to leave early to get home (no dedicated fan would catch the last bus/train home)

·         Be feisty (in my case to stop abusive women from trying to get in front of me at the gig)

·         Buy an O2 phone especially for the gig to ensure priority booking (yes I did)

Heaven 17 are under appreciated. Their talent and experience of electronic pop is outstanding and I have always considered Martyn Ware to be a musical genius. He is a founder of that sound. Heaven 17 has never been awarded the commercial success that they really deserve.  Everyone knows Temptation, but I wish they appreciated the other H17 work that only a cult few seem to get. Anyway I proudly belong to this cult and was off to enjoy an awesome gig.
The set list was always going to be great as the Luxury Gap features works such as Crushed by the wheels of industry, Let me go, We live so fast, Come live with me and Temptation.
Who’ll stop the rain is one of those under appreciated tracks, so if you don’t know it, go Google it now and see if you agree. Let me go has such powerful lyrics. ‘I walk alone and yet never say goodbye, let me go’.  Come live with me is always a crowd pleaser but when Glenn sang it straight at me I had the green eyes of every woman in the audience upon me! They don’t need to worry; I am not seventeen either.
You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ which was originally by the righteous brothers, was done simply with just Glenn and Martyn singing. It was beautiful and lovely to see Martyn come out from behind the keyboard.
Fascist Groove Thing really got the crowd going. Yeah baby! Mike Read should be hung for banning this track but he was one of those who ‘just don’t get H17’. I wonder if he regrets his decision today?  Penthouse and Pavement is in my top five of all-time favourite albums so anything H17 played off of it would make me happy but they did several tracks (yes I was so ecstatic my cheek bones hurt from smiling too much!) including a new version of Geisha Boys and Temple Girls and ‘we’re going to live for a very long time’. This is another moment of musical genius. How clever is this track? The lyrics and tune work beautifully together to produce irony of the sweet pop song with lyrics that can be almost evangelical. Glenn is almost ministerial in his deliverance of the song.  I’m your money should have been on the Penthouse and Pavement album and every H17 fan knows it fits that genre. 
The boys did a few early Human League songs (you should all already know that Martyn is a founder member of the band), but I hadn’t heard ‘Crow and a baby’ for years and it was wonderful to hear it again. Being Boiled is becoming an expectation at H17 gigs and they did not disappoint. Then Glenn picked up a guitar and played a version of ‘Don’t you want me’. Martyn should know the loyalty that his fans give him and believe he was the talent in Human League.
One of the most moving parts of the gig was during the encore when H17 did The Associates track, ‘Party fears two’. Glenn told the audience that he did this track a few years back at the Billy Mackenzie memorial gathering at the same venue. You could hear a pin drop as the audience were hypnotised by Glenn’s rendition of the track.
The last song of the night had to be Temptation. Leave them on a high is the motto here. Now for those reading this who like Heaven 17 and temptation but don’t know them well, here is my tip. Go listen to ‘Sunset now’. I challenge you to not love that track just as much!
But that was the end of the gig. I couldn’t believe it had finished so quickly. All the good things have to end, but for me it didn’t end there. Thank you Martyn for inviting me to the after show. Now that really did make my night! (I’m gonna need new cheekbones at this rate – haven’t stopped smiling since).
Heaven 17 have still got it and if you want to see some real 80’s legends, go see them while you can. (Luxury Gap is still touring Europe now or fingers crossed for ‘How men are’ a few years down the line.)
 
Follow me on Twitter: @Jasminestormy

 

 

 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Level 42 (Northampton)

Level 42.

I have loved Level 42 since Love Games.  I remember Love Games distinctly as Radio 1 did a competition using the beginning of the track to rap over.  (I am ashamed to say I can still remember it). This was in the days when you had to send postcards in and couldn’t Google the answer to the competition.  I never won, but Love Games and Level 42 became a big part of my teenage years.  (checking Wikipedia I was shocked to find it only got to number 38 in the charts.)
I loved the “Level 42” album including star child, why are you leaving and turn it on. I loved “The pursuit of accidents” with Weave your spell and The Chinese way.  OK, I have grown up enjoying Level 42 but until tonight I had never seen them live.
Well that was about to change at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton on a cold October night. I drove there which was rather stressful with the one way system, but got there with plenty of time. I had not been to this venue for over 10 years so went to the back stage door to find out how to get in.  They were lovely people who were very interested in my review of tonight’s gig as they don’t often do standing gigs.  Well I am not sure if it is the age of the Level 42 fans but it was a very civilised affair.  No pushing, no checking bags or treating us like criminals, (Blur’s gig at Hyde Park threw my hand cleaning gel away for goodness sake!).  It was just the kind of way a gig for my generation should be!  (And anyone who reads my reviews will know my luck with drunks, glad to say I didn’t encounter any on this occasion).
I enjoyed the support who was Dan Clews.  He did an acoustic set of mainly original material with a cover of China in my hands.  He interacted with the audience and could sing and play well.  I met up with him afterwards and he was a lovely guy to boot!
But Level 42 was what I was here to see and Level 42 is what we were all cheering for when they came on.  Turn it on they sure did!  They started by playing the Running in the Family album in its entirety.  Tracks such as Lessons in love and Running in the family had the crowd dancing and set the tone for the night.  It’s over was sung with such sincerity, it was moving.
Level 42 sound exactly like the recordings on their albums.  I was very impressed.  They moved on to do a bit of an acoustic set with Mike on an accordion and Mark on an acoustic guitar (Not bass!).
Then they said we came to hear some funk.  We sure did!  They rocked Northampton town with some of my favourite tracks such as Starchild (Mike had a bit of a boogie!); The sun goes down (living it up) and finished on The Chinese way. 
This was a fantastic set and I could watch Mark play his bass forever!  Their music took me right back and I felt just like a teenager again. It was wonderful.  Thank you, Level 42, for a wonderful gig.
My only disappointment was I really never got to hear them play Love Games as they cut it from the show (although they had played it two nights ago at Guildford).
So this is an open invitation to Level 42, if they nip round my house and play it for me, I will provide all the tea/coffee necessary!
Love you guys. Thanks for a wonderful night. xx
(Photos will be uploaded to http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasminestormie)




 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Looper

Looper

I have come to the conclusion that it is rather hard to make a good time travel film. You spend so much time trying to explain how the time machine works and how it would impact on your past or present timeline. To be honest the only really successful one is Back to the Future.

To make a hit film you want to make a film that people want to see more than once. This means more money at the box office and again when released on Blu-ray or dvd. Back to the Future ticks this box too.  Unfortunately Looper doesn’t!

Basically 30 years from now time travel has been invented and outlawed. Gangsters send back people who they wish to do a “garbage disposal” job on and a Looper kills them and gets paid for it.

But what happens if the person they send back is you?

It has promise as a story, but made for the American audience everything is explained in minute detail such as how a scar on your hand appears is because they are currently cutting up your younger self or the TK link or even the range of the guns. It feels that the script is so busy educating us on what it all means it diminishes from the pace of the film and the action.

Bruce does what he does best, in fact the acting from Bruce, Emily Blunt (who can’t love her?) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are all excellent but the script and execution of the story lets the film down.

SPOILLER!!

If you ask what I would do to improve this story, I wouldn’t explain so much as it takes too much time up and I would give an alternative ending where Sara stands at Joe’s grave pregnant with his child. Loop the Looper! It would give a lead for a sequel too.  Next time  Hollywood should just ask me!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Sweeney


The Sweeney

This film is from the series of the same name, but with its new make-over it is almost unrecognisable. The new film is sleek, sharp, clean and full of action. It is set in London and in the year that gave us back our patriotism with the Jubilee and Olympics, it shows off all London has to offer and it easily matches any other major city in the world. (Or I feel very patriotic).

It is beautifully filmed. The action is clear and yet slow enough to actually see what is going on. The director and the cinematographer should be nominated for awards for this. It is really a beautiful piece of work. John Thaw made Jack Reagan a legend. Who can fill his boots in the 21st century? Ray Winstone is the only choice and is outstanding in the role. Ben Drew (who plays George Carter), is also excellent in his role as Regan’s partner and they work well together.

The opening scene is a great one with some humour with some of the Sweeney talking about only marrying someone who is a 3 (they are grateful) or a 9 (you are grateful). This dialogue as they are on their way to stop an armed robbery is almost reminiscent of Tarrantino. An excellent opening. Unfortunately there is not enough humour throughout the film.

The story overall is rather weak and predictable, which is a shame as the action is excellent. A lot of the scenes are filmed on location, including the amazing shoot out in Trafalgar square. I cannot get over how they shot each other (with silent bullets – sound was added afterwards for fear of 999 calls to police) inside of the National Gallery. I have been to the National Gallery on several occasions and know we are not even allowed to take flash photography there; so valuable are the paintings.

I did get a bit fed up with the love interest story (especially the earring- won’t tell more as spoilers). The language, violence and sex makes me feel there should be another rating between a 15 and 18 as it is a bit near the knuckle for 15 year olds.

Top Gear did the finale car chase scene and you can see their expertise in this as it is exciting and fast paced. Some of the car shots made me want to duck as if I was actually in the car.

I am very disappointed the original Sweeney theme tune (which is iconic) has been changed almost beyond recognition. When things are that iconic – they shouldn’t be touched.

My only other irritant is Damian Lewis who play Frank (Reagan and Carter’s boss) has over-plucked his eyebrows and this is very distracting to his role. His face doesn’t move much either and it looks like he is more bothered about his Botox than catching criminals.


Verdict: I feel a sequel or three coming on. Now get ya trousers on, ya nicked!


 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Shrek the musical

I was worried that buying my 15 year old son a ticket for this show he would feel a bit old to enjoy it. This was unfounded...as he LOVED it!!

This is a show suitable for all ages and especially for fans of the Shrek films. The story is of the first Shrek film and has a lot of songs that have been especially written for the show.

Dean Chisnall is outstanding as Shrek and really is believable in the role. Princess Fiona was played by Hollyoaks actress Carley Stenson. She did the role proud and brought some much needed humour to the role.

Richard Blackwood is Donkey and is brilliant with both his acting and dancing. It is a shame he doesn't have a strong singing voice as everyone else in the cast are outstanding singers.

My personal favourite characters are the Dragon (the puppeteers are amazing and it is one of the best scenes in the whole show) and the woman voicing the Dragon, Landi Oshinowo, has the most amazing voice and stole the show!! ( I would buy this woman's albums!!).

I loved the Pinocchio character, he is so funny and his nose really does get bigger! I also loved how they made Lord Farquaad small. Poor Neil McDermott must have very sore knees!!

All the swing cast have a set character which is fabulous and I loved how they did the gingerbread man!.

There are some really strong great songs in the show (with a blues/soul feel to them) but also some fillers that could easily be cut out.

The nearest tube is Covent Garden. The Theatre Royal is a lovely old theatre and the balcony is not suitable for anyone with mobility problems as there are an awful lot of stairs to climb.

My 15 year old loved the show and said he would go again and he didn't miss his xbox360 once! - that should be enough for you to make a decision on buying a ticket!!

So...Do you know the muffin man?




Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Blur/ New Order / Specials / Bombay Bicycle Club closing ceremony gig at Hyde Park


The BT live closing ceremony concert, featuring Blur and New Order.
Hyde Park is a huge venue. It is a park so good weather is a must to ensure a good time. We had won 29 gold medals in the Olympics and it seemed the golden sun came out to celebrate it with us!
We decided to get to Hyde Park early, as we wanted to be near the front and after all I am only 5ft tall! We are glad we did as the ticket had said that gates open at 2.30pm. It was actually 12 noon that they let us in.
We were searched more thoroughly than I have ever been searched before.  The organisation for this event was a right mess, as I had had four different emails from Ticketmaster changing the rules of what is allowed in. Talking to staff on the day, they had no idea of the changes to the rules either so it was really hit or miss if they stopped your stuff coming in. They took off my hand gel as it was in 125ml bottle but as it was not a new bottle would have only contained the 100ml allowed. I didn’t bother to argue as all I could think of was getting to the front. I did see people inside who had cameras longer than 6” (one of the rules). Goodness only knows where they hid their lens!
We ran as fast as we could (the most exercise I had all week!) and got to the metal barrier right at the front of the stage. It was a great crowd and I got talking to a guy who had come from France to see Blur and also a lady from Hong Kong. Blur fans are all over the world!
We had bought the ticket to take my youngest son (15) to see New Order.  (You should hear him play Ceremony on his guitar! He is awesome).  I didn’t know how he would cope with all the waiting as he is the “have it now” generation, but he was great and very excited about it.
We killed the time by watching the Olympics. It was a great atmosphere and everyone was in good spirits.
The first band, Bombay Bicycle club came on at 4.30. I had never heard of them before and I am still not sure about them now I have heard their stuff. Some of their songs just didn’t flow the way a song should. The lead singer looked and sounded like some early 80’s electronic band, while the guitarist (sporting young James May look) seemed more into grunge. What I can say is the girl singer was good and the drummer was awesome!

Next on was New Order. This is what we had come for and boy did we let them know it! We were screaming and shouting and cheering and singing along as loudly as we could. They started with Elegia followed by Crystal. I felt the audience didn’t appreciate Ceremony as much as we did and perhaps it needed more guitars or more New Order fans to really love it.  New Order still miss Hooky (Peter Hook the bassist). Not for the bass essentially, but for his personality. Tom Chapman does a good job, but Barney is not a natural front man (partly why we love him) and Hooky played that part until his departure. Hyde Park is a huge venue and there was a runway off the stage that you know Hooky would have dragged his guitar up and down had he been there.
I personally felt that 586 could have been left at home and replaced with regret. There is a line in regret that goes “You were a perfect stranger, now you are mine” which hubby and I always kiss and have done at each gig since 2006. I don’t think 586 went down well with an audience that isn’t mainly New Order fans.
New Order didn’t need to try too hard with True Faith as the audience (including my new French friend) knew it and sang along. I have always felt that temptation is their “stadium anthem” track and they could do so much more with it (ie get the audience to sing bits of it for you, extending the oooo oooo!) But New Order were on a time limit and had to keep it short. Blue Monday had the crowd going proper crazy. Who doesn’t know that song?! It was more like “The Beach” version for those who really know their New Order but who cares, it was amazing and really got the crowd going. They finished with Love will tear us apart from their Joy Division days. It was so poignant with images of Ian Curtis in the background saying Forever Joy Division. Even after New Order had left the stage, the crowd were still singing it (hoping for an encore that never happened).

We then decided to move back, as my son had seen New Order (and despite my teaching was not as keen on Blur) and was also concerned about 70,000 people squashing us! We went to the Cadburys house to get some free chocolate. (It doesn’t get better than this folks!) But they had closed the house early and although they were giving out the chocolate, it was a missed experience. We sat on our blanket and chilled to The Specials. My best friend from school would have loved this as she was such a Ska rude girl. Although I hadn’t heard some of these songs in years, I still remembered all the words so thanks to Michelle from school for that!

Just before Blur came on we decided to get some chips. At £3 a small box, they were not cheap, but I can officially say they were the WORST chips I have ever had, EVER! Hard inside with a horrid taste on the outside. We all left them.
But time for the main event. We started to watch the closing ceremony at Stratford on the big screens. I was surprised to see people stand up to sing the national anthem. Surprised and proud! British Patriotism lives! We saw Big Ben and Madness sing “Our House” and I did wonder how Blur were going to get people interested if they continued to watch the Stratford show. I needn’t have worried. Park life was faded into the Stratford ceremony and they crowd went crazy as Blur came on stage for real!


I had had reservations about them headlining since The Brits, but these were unfounded. Blur rocked the house! They were awesome, playing an amazing set, and everyone really enjoyed it. It was like one big family with everyone singing and dancing and smiling. Blur rock! Even my son was singing along. Another couple of converts. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we see of Blur.
My photos will be uploaded to www.flickr.com/jasminestormie later this week!
 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

TED

TED

In third place for most ridiculous film of the year….(drum roll) is Ted.
Let me first moan about the time frame issue that bugged me throughout the film. John Bennett (played by Mark Wahlberg) is 35 years old. I know this because they tell you so at least twice. So how old was he when the Teddy Bear came to life? The clothes and Star Wars toys suggest late 1970’s. But 2012 minus 35 years is equal to 1977. 1977 IS the year Star Wars came out but that would make John a new born baby, not a child of 8 as portrayed in the movie. They say it is 1985 but were kids still playing Star Wars in 1985? Return  of the Jedi came out in 1983. (For those of you who are not geeks, that is the 3rd Star Wars film to be made, but technically the 6th film).

Who is this film aimed at? It must be those under 30 who would not know that Seth has F**ked up.  How many teenagers seeing this film will even know who Sam Jones is? Flash Gordon was made in 1980! Even Jonny (Ted's owner) would have trouble remembering that long ago!
So what else is wrong with it? Well it is very basic humour in places. Do you really need to say “There is a Shit on my floor!” to get a laugh? (I didn’t laugh). But I did laugh in places those under 30’s didn’t. (Loved Ted’s interpretation of Pink Floyds “If ya don’t eat ya meat” line.)
Patrick Stewart is the narrator and some of it is excellent, some of it tries too hard. Patrick is too good for this kind of film! Beam him up already!!
Getting past all that, you start to believe Ted is a real character with a life of his own. The effects are so good you stop thinking about how they are doing it. There are some classic funny moments (The Thunder buddies song is a cult waiting to happen) and it is predictably a love story.
Hot Mila Kunis (That is her full name) plays Lori, John’s girlfriend of four years. She wants their relationship to move forward but feels Ted is holding John back. Ted takes a lot of drugs, drink, swears and has sex a lot for a 15 rated movie.  All those 15 year old going to see it will think that it is cool to do those things. There is no moral to the story regarding drugs here.
My favourite bits: The Thunder song, the joke about Hasbro, anything with Flash Gordon in it, the theme tune from Star Wars being suggested it was from the Notebook, all the famous people playing themselves …well there are many.

Verdict: tries really hard to be funny and is excellent in places, but could do better.



Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I was hesitant about going to the cinema to see this film just in case some maniac did a copycat killing of the terrible tragedy that happened in the US this week.

But we shouldn’t let this stop us living our lives (We still fly on planes don’t we?) so I went to see this film anyway.
I think even if you had not seen the other Batman films this film is entertaining as a stand-alone film. It is very watchable and the special effects in the action scenes are really good.
I liked Bane as the villain. He had almost a Mad Max out-and-out violence about him. (Why do most villains have an English accent?)  He is played by Tom Hardy, and is almost unrecognisable from his character in “This means War”. (The sign of an adaptable Actor).
I am not a fan of Christian Bale. However he does do the part of Bruce Wayne justice and I love the interaction scenes with him and Alfred (played by the legendary Michael Caine).  
Anne Hathaway is Selina (but some would say she is Batgirl!). I was unsure about her for the role after her disastrous role in “One Day” but she was great in the part and had a kick-ass outfit!
The unsung hero of the film is Blake (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is a cop trying to keep the peace in Gotham with no Batman to back him up.
Some of this film feels very predictable (when you watch it you will know what I mean).
The real star of this film is the gadgets. I love the bike. (Bat-Bike?) and how its wheels move when changing direction. (My next birthday present perhaps?!). The “Flying Bat” is also way cool and I love all the tech in the Batcave.
I am glad it is not too dark. I have a strong love of the 60’s series and film starring Bruce Ward and Adam West, and part of me pines for those fun Batman days. Holy Retro Batman!
Verdict: If you have three hours to spare, give it a go. It is worth the investment! Kapow!
Me and my New Bike! ;)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Magic Mike

Magic Mike

Do ya wanna see some fit naked bodies? Lots of male flesh? Do you think Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer are sexy? I can’t hear you! YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then this film is a must see! I loved loved loved it. I need to state I have never paid to go to see strippers (although I did see The Dreamboys at Erotica once, but that is another story!) and I would not be comfortable having someone grind in my face, but on screen we know that isn’t going to happen so bring it on!
Channing plays Mike, this lovely guy who has his hand in many businesses trying to make a living and one way to earn easy money is to strip. He meets Adam (The Kid) and by fluke Adam ends up stripping on his first night. Adam has a rather pretty sister who Mike obviously likes but still is partying hard.
We all know where this film is going. There isn’t really a strong story but honestly, who cares? There is a LOT of naked flesh on screen and that is good enough for me. In fact, the brilliance of this film is it has real magic. It makes you want to watch it again and again, which for any film company is the real magic of cinema.
Verdict: Forget fifty shades – get a bunch of your girlfriends together (Men should be left out of this one) and get your ass to the cinema pronto!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Fifty shades of grey

Fifty shades of Grey 

I don’t normally do book reviews but this is an exception. This book is the fastest selling book ever! Yes even poor Harry Potter would blush at this one!
The book is about a girl called Ana Steele who meets a millionaire called Christian Grey.  She is a virgin and he is into a bit of S&M. I don’t just mean light spanking here…he has submissives and a whole room of gadgets and wants Ana to become a submissive too.
Well that is the premise of the book. You know that anyone who buys it is only after the juicy bits..so how juicy are they? (you ask)…(I hope you ask as I am about to tell you)…
They are ok.  They are descriptive and erm..a bit frustrating and I don’t mean in a good way. What is so wrong with this book is it is written as if it was set in Victorian times. The language is ridiculous. Ana never talks about what she calls her private parts…it is always “down there” or “my sex”. This really does take away from the eroticisms. I don’t have an answer about what EL James should call it. But if she mutters “Oh my” one more time, I will burn the book!
I also have issues with how many ways you can say “Said”. EL James rarely uses the word.  They whisper, wryly mutters, smiles, grumbles, gasps, mutters dryly, grins, splutters, implores…almost any word but said. It is VERY annoying.  It goes on further...When she said “He knits his brow” I imagined him with needles and some wool!
Christian Grey’s eyes are often looking at Ana  “Darkly”. How? What does that mean exactly? I really hate the extended descriptive language (on the bits that are not juicy).
Ana is a virgin, but is still a young lady in her 20’s. I really find it hard to believe that she would be so innocent. In England we have Channel 4 to educate us. I am sure there must be an American equivalent.  And if not, there is always the internet and her friend to have chatted with about this before she met him.  Ana also gives men the idea that women prefer penetrative sex to foreplay. This is simply not true. Women love receiving foreplay.  (lots of it for long periods of time please!)Maybe this is her innocence shining through. 
The story itself is really boring and drags on.  EL James has left the end of this book open so you have to buy all three to know what happens. (I am almost finished the second book now).
I have heard it is to be made into a film. Huge mistake for two reasons. Firstly, besides Ana Steele, no-one is going to find anyone with ginger hair attractive. (Ok, a bit harsh..but please tell me she is not impressed with his money – She is more of a WAG than we give credit for!)
Secondly, women like this book and others like it because it lets their imagination take over. The film (unless it becomes a soft porn film) will never live up to the expectations of a woman’s imagination.  Can’t you make the second “shopaholic” film instead? Women love shopping more than “Oh My”.
PS: Men if you lady is reading this book, she may well be game for some role play!




Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Five Year Engagement

The Five Year Engagement

I was not planning to see this film. I had planned to see Killer Joe but the times were difficult so I chose this as a last minute choice.

I LOVE EMILY BLUNT!! She is a fabulous actress and really has the Midas touch with films as this could have been an average rom-com without her. She is so watchable.

This film is more than a rom-com. It is more of a com-rom. It was very funny and had the audience laughing out loud.  Yes a real life LOL moment!

Tom and Violet knew they loved each other the first time they met. But then real life gets in the way and even after five years they are still not married.

The Chemistry between Blunt and Segal (who also wrote it) is fantastic. You really do feel they are in love.

I had a five year engagement myself and married my husband five years to the day we met, so I know about all the planning and waiting and other issues getting in the way.

Verdict:  I expected an average rom-com. I got so much more than I bargained for.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages 

I don’t know where to start with this one! I thought Abraham Lincoln- Vampire Hunter had already won the trophy for most ridiculous film of the year, but Rock of Ages is a strong contender!
If you like rock – you will hate this! If you like real music – you will hate this! If you liked Burlesque and Moulin Rouge you will probably love this.
REO Speedwagon must be laughing all the way to the bank!
It is a simple  story set in 1987 - girl goes to big city and falls in love ..blah…blah…blah. But set in a rock club in LA. Everyone in the film can hold a tune (which is a step up from Mamma Mia) but the script is dire. And Americans just don’t know how to do 80’s properly!  Sherrie’s hair is all wrong – it needs to be much much bigger than it is (and it is way to styled – this was before the invention of frizz ease!)
Alex Baldwin is a great actor and even he kept a straight face when he has to pretend he is a gay rocker who falls in love with Russell Brand.  I have never met any gay rockers – never mind gay rockers who own a huge rock club and look like hard men. (I am not saying they don’t exist – but I never met one).
Can it get any more ridiculous, I hear you say? Well frankly yes!!  Catherine Zeta-Jones looks like posh spice in the end of the film (keep an eye out or you will miss her!)
And I don’t remember pole dancing bars in the 80’s. Maybe I lead an innocent life…
I know it is supposed to be funny – but it is more laughing at anyone who was a rocker rather than laughing with them. It feels like a cruel joke.
The saving grace of this film is I rather fancy Tom Cruise in it. He is excellent as Stacee Jaxx and I found him rather attractive. I haven’t been able to say that since Top Gun.
Verdict: This is karaoke rock. Do ya really wanna rock??!!!!

By the way: this is how I looked in the 80's. The black was homage to Siouxsie Sioux and the photo with the hideous yellow shirt is an example of my big hair!!







Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Men in Black 3 (3D)

Men in Black 3 (3D)

I did not raise any hopes about this film as generally sequels are not ever as good as the original. (The Blues Brothers and Jaws to name two examples). The second Men in Black film had also fallen into this category. But I honestly cannot find anything wrong with Men in Black 3. IT IS AWESOME!
The story is excellent and I loved the time jump aspect of an already complicated story. You are sold on how good this film is in the opening sequence; such great action and sci-fi in a Chinese restaurant.
Will Smith is (agent J) a pleasure to watch with Tommy Lee Jones (agent K) making up the original team. When J jumps back in time to try to save his partner K, he meets the younger K (played by Josh Brolin) who is so good that we forget it isn’t Tommy Lee Jones. The story is great as Boris is the baddie trying to get revenge on K who put him away in a prison for 40 years.
There are moments of pure genius in this film. Andy Warhol is an agent who desperately wants to escape all the arty types! Lady GaGa is an alien (no surprise there!) and my favourite character is Griffin, a small alien who can see multiple futures and is totally adorable.
This is a must see film. It makes you laugh; It makes you cry. We saw it in 3D and some of the effects are very good.
Verdict: They don’t make them like this anymore! If you only see one alien film this year, make it this one!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ultimate 80's festival 26th May 2012

Ultimate 80’s festival  26 May 2012

I had been quite laid back about the festival, looking forward to hearing some great music in the wonderful sunshine, but got panicked when there seemed to be a problem on the A1(M) and traffic was not moving. My husband did not think we would get there in time. He was wrong. We arrived in perfect time and queued to go in. Until this point I thought it was an outdoor concert, but they had changed their minds last minute and unbeknown to us (we brought sunscreen and a blanket with us) it was moved indoors.
We decided to sit on the raised part halfway back so we would have a good view but still hear the sound quality of the music.

Katrina
First up was Katrina (from Katrina and the waves) Boy can that girl sing.  My husband commented on how great she looked for her age (although neither of us know her age!).  It is a shame her style of music is out of favour currently (a rocky feel to it) but I loved her and thought she gave an excellent performance. She stopped “Walking on Sunshine” as it was out of tune and started the whole song again. I liked this. This is someone who really wants to give a good performance. Well done Katrina.

Dr and the Medics
We all know they only had one famous hit which was a cover version anyway, so I was not sure what to expect from the Doctor. It started with a cyberman smashing a Dalek on stage. Yes you read that right! Doctor from Dr and the Medics is totally mad and was good fun to watch. He sung a range of 80’s songs such as Dead or Alive’s “you spin me round”, Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and The Cult’s “sanctuary”, all of which suited his voice and really gave an 80’s atmosphere. His young back-up singer was very energetic and reminded me of Mimi from Rent (for those of you who know that musical).  The Doctor, of course, did his version of “Spirit in the sky”. He came out to sign and sell his CD afterwards, and part of me thought that a bit sad, but there were many parting with their money to buy a cover version CD.

Howard Jones
Howard Jones is more my husband’s taste than mine and he really enjoyed him. I liked the songs I knew but found his microphone wasn’t giving out a good sound (he had one of those head things). I thought “new song” and “Like to get to know you well” went down really well with the audience and my husband really thought Howard was great and was dancing away.

Heaven 17
I have to declare an interest here that this is the reason I bought a ticket. I saw Heaven 17 in 2010 doing the Penthouse and Pavement album and they were awesome. My only regret was not taking my camera out of my bag, so I didn’t want to make the same mistake. I told my husband that I wanted to be at the front as this was not a problem as in-between the acts everyone went outside to enjoy the sunshine or have a cigarette break. We moved to the front bar but 10 minutes later some very drunk man was shouting abuse at me for “taking his space”. He obviously hasn’t been to a New Order gig! (Read my blog on the Birmingham New Order gig to find out more). He was threatening to hit me and my husband (who was standing behind me so not to take up too much room). I told him I loved Heaven 17 and this is why I bought my ticket and he could have this space back for ABC if he wanted. He was so abuse that his wife (who was also very drunk) told him to go outside. I did not see him for the rest of the Heaven 17 session, but it was not a good start and I was a bit on edge.
Heaven 17 came in and did a really amazing set. It included “Fascist groove thang”, “Penthouse and Pavement” (I LOVE both those tracks), Crushed by the wheels of industry (not a fav but enjoyable), “Come live with me” (as the drunk woman was standing next to me shouting it out). When Glenn said the next song was going to be “Geisha boys and temple girls” I shouted out that I love that song. He heard me and said he also loves it but it has a lot of words to remember. (I remember thinking it was just as well he wasn’t going to sing “soul warfare” then!).  I sang along with him to a song that not everyone in the audience would know. It was fantastic. At the end of the song he pointed at me and asked my name. I told him and he told the audience that I knew all the words to this song and then asked me if I could come to all his gigs to remind him of the words to his songs! (The answer is a definite YES!).  I was so chuffed he name checked me to the whole audience and it made all the aggravation with the drunks worth the effort. This is why you need to be at the front people!!!
Glenn sang a fantastic version of “sign my name”the Terrance Trent D’arby song that was originally produced by none other than our own Martyn Ware (Did I mention Martyn Ware is a musical genius?! Well he is!!).  This was such a great version and I think this helped turn my husband into more of a fan (I am slowly converting him!).
They also did an amazing version of Temptation mixed it with “love to love you baby” which was out of this world. The crowd were going crazy!
I was gutted that they had to go, telling us we had been a fab audience, when actually they had given us a fab performance.
After they left the stage, an American guy came over and said I must be a true fan and I looked like I was having a great time. I told him that Penthouse and Pavement is one of my five favourite albums of all time (H17 are in good company here alongside Bowie and Pink Floyd!).  He then went on to tell me he met the band outside and they reproduced the Penthouse cover and showed me the photos on his camera. I was a bit gutted. How much I would love to have my photos taken with them? (That is a rhetorical question as I would LOVE to!).  I nipped outside for some fresh air (and to hopefully “accidentally” bump into Heaven 17), but I couldn’t see them.

ABC
We came back in for ABC who did a good set including all their famous tracks. I have seen ABC before (when they supported Robbie Williams) but for me I had already seen what I had come to see (H17) so was happy to move back towards the back of the venue where it was a bit cooler.  We sang and danced to “poison arrow” “all of my heart” and “look of love”.  Martyn Fry looked very smart in his suit.
I had a wonderful time at the Ultimate 80’s gig, but have two unanswered questions. Firstly why do people pay to go to see a band and then get so drunk that they can’t appreciate the effort the artists are making and actually ruin other people’s enjoyment?
The second question is although I understand completely that it was called Ultimate 80’s, why did some people feel the need to revisit some of the dreadful 80’s clothes styles? I saw a lady with a neon orange see through vest top, a lady with a black lace dress and bow in her hair (aka Madonna) and many polka dot dresses and clashing jewellery. These were not young people, but my peer group who remember it all the first time around. I never liked polka dots and feel a bit old for leg-warmers!
This experience has prompted me to think about my own ultimate 80’s gig. If I was going to arrange something that symbolised the 80’s to me personally, who would I have? (Besides Heaven 17 of course!). I would have to include Culture Club, Frankie goes to Hollywood, and a lot of high energy music, and I suppose a bit of early Madonna, Duran Duran, soft cell and Wham. If any of those bands fancy getting together I am happy to arrange it and find a venue!!
I would NOT have Rick Astley. I consider the 80’s good before 1985. I hate Rick Astley’s “never gonna give you up” and consider that it belongs along with those leg warmers and polka dots. Who would be in your ultimate 80’s gig?  It makes you think!!

To view my photos of this event, please visit my flickr account. www.flickr.com/jasminestormie




Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The best thing about Dark Shadows...The chair!

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows

Johnny Depp does what he does best in this retro comedy horror, he stars in a Tim Burton film alongside Helene Bonham-Carter. Feel Deja-Vu yet?

I like the fact Depp plays a vampire called Collins. (Is this a joke on the Twilight saga?). I like the fact the film is like a comedy version of The Woman in Black.

But what I do not like is the randomness of some of the plot. For example, why is the daughter a werewolf and how did this come about? What happened to Josette’s ghost and why did Vicky see it but then it disappears despite the fact she was in love with Depp’s character. And why oh why is it set in 1972? (Answers on a postcard to anyone give a damn, c/o Tim Burton).

As usual, Tim Burton has made a film with some great effects (The witch’s porcelain face that cracks is fantastic, as is the love scene between Barnabus and Angelique), but the film lacks substance of plot, dialogue and any real meaning.

Verdict: I would rather be buried in a box for 200 years than sit through this again. Very disappointing.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

New Order. O2 Brixton Academy. 2nd May 2012


New Order. O2  Brixton Academy. 2nd May 2012
Further to my review of New Order’s gig in Birmingham, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say to review the same show again. Only, what a difference a venue makes!

Our hotel (Comfort Inn) was fab and even had an en-suite Jacuzzi bath! It was within comfortable walking distance of the venue. We had spent a few hours in Camden earlier in the day (My spiritual home due to the quirky edge it has), and although I had not bought much, I was enjoying being in London.
I hadn’t realised that it would start earlier so we didn’t have much time to find the venue but actually it was two straight roads away from the hotel. The queuing was around the side and I did feel slightly annoyed that O2 users get priority entrance to the venue. I was not aware of this in advance or I might have been tempted to borrow a phone!  Then some guy came begging for money for a charity. I was happy to give but felt he was a bit too pushy to someone who didn’t immediately offer to give and said he had no change. It didn’t feel right that he should insist on people putting money in. It should always be a choice. Apparently the O2 venue was supporting this action but I think it is bad practice to target a sitting audience in that way (and against charity commission’s regulations!). We were then separated into two queues, females and males. This felt a bit concentration camp-ish. I do appreciate it will probably get people into the venue quicker but it is not a good practice. The venue was much bigger (or at least felt much bigger and grander) than the Birmingham Ballroom.
We had chosen tickets in unreserved seating upstairs so that my husband could really hear it properly this time, and anyway I was still covered in bruises from being at the front of the gig on Sunday! We got front row of the upstairs seating which was ideal for both photos and hearing the music.

The toilets were not working properly upstairs so I had to beg to go downstairs to use them. I did use the upstairs toilets later and they really do need looking after a bit better. (Clean with decent facilities would be good. The hand-dryers are a waste of time!).
DJ Tin Tin and Jake Evans both did a very similar set to Sunday's (see below) but the audience was itching to see New Order. (They seem more impatient in London!).
I was not ready for the amazing difference in the two gigs. The most noticeable thing was sound quality was so much better from upstairs, but also at the London gig, New Order pulled out all the stops. The light show was amazing and really gave it a stadium gig feel. They slightly changed the set and included two songs from their Joy Division days as an encore. It was an amazing show and Barney was so much better and back to his old self (joking with the crowd about a guy who had come all the way from Portugal to see them!).
I am most definitely a New Order fan. It is interesting to note that the die-hard fans seem to be the ones who went to the Troxy gig. If you love New Order, the Troxy was the intimate gig they did last December and I feel those who went there have made these gigs possible. If you wish to thank me, you are most welcome!

Monday, 30 April 2012

New Order Concert. Birmingham. 29th April 2012.

New Order Concert.  Birmingham.  29th April 2012

I got to Birmingham around 4pm on Sunday afternoon. It has been a horrible day and the rain was indeed heavy.  We had changed trains and yet none of this had damped our mood for the excitement of seeing New Order play.
We had only decided to stay overnight and book a last minute hotel on Sunday so I was glad I had time to get ready rather than rush straight to the venue.  My husband went to find the venue and get something to eat. I knew the venue doors opened at 7pm and he still was not back by 6.30 so I started to get a bit worried. (Not about him, but that we would be late getting to the venue!).
He arrived and we rushed out the venue in the pouring rain.  I was absolutely soaked as we stood outside the venue for about 20 minutes getting wetter and wetter but everyone in the queue was also getting wet so it was ok.
We were thoroughly checked (I have a tiny handbag for venues but they still pulled everything out of it) and tickets were checked twice.  Our plan was that hubby gets the t-shirts while I run to the front to save us a space. This we did with ease.
The DJ was playing from the moment we got in and my hubby (an ex DJ himself) loved what he was playing and how much work he was putting into it.  I personally do not like such a dance orientated feel but did appreciate how enthusiastic DJ tin tin was.
Next came Jake Evans and I have seen him before at the Troxy so had an idea of what was to come.  But even so, Jake did not disappoint. Jake is  very talented and can sing (I love his voice) and also play guitar really well.  His songs are good and I cannot understand why more people do not come early to hear him.  He is awesome and if it were about talent, he would already be huge! He finished with "Easy on my soul" which is a fantastic track and will be on his album (due for release soon).
The DJ came back while the roadies set up for New Order.  They did a similar set to the Troxy (for those who had been at the Troxy).  It started with Elegia followed by Crystal and Regret.  The crowd were going crazy! New Order are really loved and I really did enjoy this concert. It was great to be front row singing with Barney and the other die-hard fans!
Barney was not feeling well and speaking to others who had attended the Manchester concerts said he cut a few songs from the set list. New Order fans will not be disappointed as all the expected song choices are in there.  Personally I would love to have seen them do Hellbent (the new track from Total) and 1963 (one of the cut songs).  Ceremony and Temptation were absolutely fab.  They finished on Love will tear us apart.
I should mention that I am only 5ft tall and yet I am feisty.  We were right at the front by the barrier but if those behind me thought they could get away with pushing or pulling me away they had another thing coming.  I ensured I stayed right at the front for the whole concert.  Be warned of messing with the girl with the red trousers on!!
We left the concert on a high and even the rain had stopped!! Roll on Wednesday in Brixton Academy, London.
See my photos here: www.flickr.com/jasminestormie



Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lock out

Lock out 

Guy Pearce is playing snow, a hard man with a harder job.  To get the president’s daughter out of a prison in space. Simple enough!
I liked this film very much. It felt very much in the vein of the 80’s action films such as Arnie and Stallone's films, where humour, action and violence all have a part to play. Guy does this brilliantly and the film is an enjoyable action film.
The baddies are played by Vincent Regan and Joseph Gilgun and both give excellent performances.
Verdict: If I liked it, You can take your girlfriend to it!!




Sunday, 22 April 2012

Battleship

Battleship 

This is made by the same people who made Transformers, so you know already the standard of the graphics you are about to see.  You will not be disappointed.
The first 15 minutes of the film are irrelevant and could easily be cut out of the film and not be missed. The story is of two brothers, one is in the Navy and one is a loser. The older brother insists on dragging his brother into the Navy to stop him wasting his life away.
For anyone who has played the game “Battleship” it is clear why the title fits the film. There is strategy involved and for someone who normally avoids all war films with a passion, I really did enjoy this film.
The character development is good, and you get to care for the characters and their situation. I also loved the alien aspect of it. They have been well designed and you do get to see what they look like!
The male gender will especially enjoy this film as you have male bonding, war, brotherly love, action and lots of things blowing up as well as aliens!
Verdict: A family film for those aged 12 and over.