Category Archives: Film Reviews

Sin City: simply fantastic

Sofia and I had the pleasure of watching Sin City, the latest masterpiece from Robert Rodriguez (with some guest direction from Quentin Tarantino).

It was simply fantastic. Filmed in a sort of “modern Film Noir” meets comic book, it was beautiful just to look at.

This is not one for the faint-hearted however – if graphic scenes of violence, torture and wanton-butchery aren’t your sort of thing this might not be one for you.

We loved it.

Check out the trailer

(Interesting fact: The original “Sin City” was a series of comics, or “graphic novels” by Frank Miller. The Director’s Guild of America only allows it’s members of have a single credit for direction of a given film. Rodriguez wanted Miller to have an equal status as co-director, so he quit The Guild in order to make Sin City and give Miller the credit he deserved.)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – GREAT film

Sofia and I saw Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2) on Saturday. We see a lot of films (probably 4-5 a month at the cinema and 6+ on DVD) and I have to say it was one of the best films I’ve seen for a long time.

However“, Sofia asked, “was this because the film was well produced or was it because the original story is so good?”. It’s a pertinent question because I’ve never read the book – this was my “first time” with H2G2.

UPDATE: I’m informed it’s actually a series of books — shows how much I know…

Yes, I’ve never read Hitchhikers. And perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this on my “professional blog”, but it’s not the only book I haven’t read. It’s a bit of a “private joke” amongst friends that I “don’t do books”. I read very few books as a teenager (apart from the ones I was forced to at school) – which is why H2G2 passed me by. Even today I very rarely read fiction. The last fiction book I read was an Andy McNabb, and that’s only because it’s touted as “near non-fiction”.

But enough of my shallowness, back to the film… Martin Freeman (of The Office fame) was excellent as the lead character, Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman (as the voice of Marvin) were good too. John Malkovich made an unusually uninspiring cameo. Stephen Fry’s narration was superb, and was nicely tied in with illustrations of the famous book produced in Macromedia Flash (apparently Flash it becoming very popular to produce these kinds of on-screen graphics in TV and film).

The production was brilliant yet quirky – something I’m always quite interested in. There seemed to be a running theme of lo-fi to hi-fi moments (like when Arthur Dent and Slartibartfast step onto the industrial lift-cage in a cheap-looking “industrial-themed” set, suddenly they are propelled into a stunning hi-fi CGI-built planet construction yard in the middle of space.)

Sofia has read the books in both English and Swedish (unlike me she’s very well read, enjoying literature in both of her fluent tongues). She said it was “very true to the book”.

Overall I’d give the film 4.5 out 5 and would certainly recommend a look unless you strongly dislike fantasy sci-fi.

Better access to audio/video material from BBC News Online… (+ RSS option)

UPDATE 17 Jan 2007: BBC News has now changed it’s AV offering and as such the source material for these feeds is no longer being updated. However these feeds have been deprecated for sometime, and you should check out the official BBC News AV RSS Feeds (click on the link, see the list of feeds on the right-hand-side column).


I’ve just finished the first of a series of scripts I’m working on, under the project name “Unofficial BBC News Labs”.

The first of these scripts is “BBC News AV Flattener”. In a nutshell it enables you to view the latest news from BBC News in Audio Video via light HTML pages rather than being forced into viewing them in the “BBC News Player”. There is also a syndication option via an RSS feed.

Many would argue that the official “BBC News Player”, being a frames-based proposition in a popup with HTML embedded player, is a little “backwards”. I couldn’t possibly comment, but what I will say is that I built the News and Sport players to meet the editorial requirements and overall departmental objectives I was given.

This is my opportunity to (begin to) offer what I what I would have produced given completely free reign of the editorial and graphic design brief. In particular, I am looking achieve something which focuses more on stripped-down-ultra-quick-access, better accessibility for those with assistive technology and syndication/news-reader uses (ie the rss feed)

The key benefit here is that you can view the media files in your native player rather than an HTML embedded console.

View the files I’m outputting (sorry, a nice index page is coming!)

Download the source file for the PHP script – GPL

Have fun, and let me know what you all think…

Disclaimer: This script is in no way connected to the BBC’s official output. Work produced on this script is strictly my own intellectual property produced in my own time, mingled with open source code from the open source community. All text, assets and news material are taken from the publicly available html and xml pages produced by BBC News Interactive. I make no guarantees for the accuracy, availability and timeliness of any of these services – on this front you will always be better served using the BBC News website directly.

Cypher

Just saw this on DVD. Very very good – much better than expected. One of the post-Matrix “wannabe films” like Underworld, but don’t hold that against it. The production and direction were excellent and the story has a great twist.

Lucy Lui was looking as fine as ever, although I did find myself cringing over a few of the Matrix-esk moments:

“Take the red pills”, and (on the phone to the hero) “You must get out of the building. You must do exactly as I say, we don’t have much time”.

I really liked the production – everything was filmed in a semi-mono-chromatic hue, and there are some nice camera angles, use of fish-eye lenses, all sorts.

I give it a 9/10