Monday, 27 September 2010

Through The Grater This Week

Randomly Through the Grater This Week is at the start of the week! It's like I'm predicting the week's news, but with the news of last week... :-/

TV news is few and far between at the moment what with new season premieres exploding about all over the place (I think we're just about done now). But one piece of news that did make me giggle a bit - a Balthazar on Supernatural!  But sadly it's not Cole - BOOOOOOO! Now that would have made me sit up and pay attention to Season 6 - and we need giggles at the moment. I watched episode one yesterday. I could have cried. It was awful. I got bored halfway through and started reading the TWOP forums to see what everyone else thought of it. I've never done that in the previous five years of the show! Something is very, very wrong. I only pray that not everything is at face value and Sera Gamble has some tricks up her sleeve for later in the season, because as things stand it's not even at the level of being a shadow of its former self. They might as well have hired Kaley Cuoco as their long lost sister and had done with it.

HBO are widely regarded as the best US TV network for producing quality programmes - but it occurred to me the other day that I don't really watch very many of them! Six Feet Under and Flight of the Conchords (both deceased) and that's about it. But a new show could have me interested: the new all star cast (well, Sean Bean) fantasy epic Game of Thrones. It sounds like it has a lot of potential, but the trailer left me feeling a bit cold - see what you think below.

It's based on the novel A Song of Ice and Fire and one of the developers wrote the Troy screenplay of 2004 (a film which critically condemned and historically wrong, wrong, WRONG - but I really liked! Probably because Rose Byrne was in it, *ahem*). It's due for a Spring 2011 release, so maybe we'll get a fuller trailer nearer the time. Keep your eyes on it. In the meantime, I've heard great things about Boardwalk Empire so it might be worth you (and me) checking it out.

Filums, Filums. Black Swan's rapturous reception has been doing Natalie a lot of favours - she's being offered roles here, there and everywhere! First up the leading role in Alfonso CuarĂ³n's Gravity, where she would play a female astronaut stranded on a space station after the rest of her crew is killed by debris from a satellite. Angelina Jolie (shudder) was originally attached but has since dropped out, and now the director wants Natalie for what is considered one of the top female roles going in Hollywood at the moment. Apparently Natalie is still chewing this over, but I'm not so keen. I'm all for Natalie doing different things, but a space film? Huh, name one of those I like. What sounded a much better prospect was rumours of Natalie playing Snow White in a new live-action, darker version of the fairytale, to be directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet. Yes - of Amelie fame! And barring his new one, a filmmaker whose every film I have watched and loved (apart from maybe Alien Resurrection which was just a weird tangent for him). Natalie doing a Jeunet film would be a dream come true! *eyes sparkle* But this was soon dismissed by her reps as false. Curses! Okay in hindsight it may have been ridiculous to watch, but it's a darn sight better than having her head in a goldfish bowl.

Another film that makes a poor trailer, but could be brilliant:

Out January 28.

I added my retro TV post the other day for anyone who's yet to catch it. If I did a retro book one - and I might - one series of books that would definitely feature is Goosebumps. They did make a TV series back in the 2000s, but by then I was looking past the watershed. But some intriguing news: a Goosebumps film is in the works! But also bizarrely, not based on any of the stories in the books. Doesn't that just make it an ordinary teeny horror film, then?! Seems a bit odd to me. The guy at the helm, Carl Ellsworth, wrote Disturbia which I unashamedly loved when it came out in 2007. So this could be good, but I think they've missed a trick not developing one of R.L. Stine's original goose-pimply tales. My favourite? The very first - Welcome to Dead House.

Which leads me nicely into a teeny horror film that's already done and made - and here's the trailer!

Deranged Blair - oh yes!

Going back to books being made into films... I may be halfway to 50 in a couple of months, but I still read a lot of Young Adult fiction (generally my loyalty to Kate Cann, which is now waning). And a bit ago a book called Wicked Lovely made my 'to read' list. I don't remember why - obviously something about evil faeries attracted my interest that day, but I went back to it a few months later and realised it looked ridiculous and crossed it off the list. Well now it's come back to haunt me as Universal wants it on the big screen. Unfortunately, it will probably go down the Twilight route so I doubt this will ever come up on my radar again.

A new comedy with a likable cast?

I love that it's based on a morning TV programme called Daybreak! Fnarrr!

Book news to end on. I just wanted to add a note about the lonnnnnnnng (for me, anyway) awaited film version of PrepNoah Baumbach has written a draft screenplay for it! Eeeeeee! OK, it looks like it's been pushed back behind a few other projects, but it exists and it is still on, according to the wonderfully talented director who is responsible for The Squid and the Whale, The Life Aquatic, Greenberg, Fantastic Mr Fox, Margot at the Wedding... argh, amazing films. It makes me so happy inside to know Prep is in such safe hands! 

The shortlist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize has been announced. The lucky few are:

  • Parrot and Olivier in America - Peter Carey
  • Room - Emma Donoghue
  • In A Strange Room - Damon Galgut
  • The Finkler Question - Howard Jacobson
  • The Long Song - Andrea Levy
  • C - Tom McCarthy
It's not in my remit to read all of them (who has the time, dahling?) but I will get around to reading Room, especially - but a lot of these are still in evil hardbacks at the moment - grrr! The winner is announced on December 9th. In culturemouse book news, I'm currently reading this:

Yes, I know - not even on my 'to read' list! I'm better at reading books when I'm travelling too - I read the first 100 or so pages of this in a flash on a train back from Somerset, but now I've stalled slightly and I'm losing the flow of the story. And it's so long I better get back in there! Hmmm, maybe I'll go do some now...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Retro Kids TV!

I've been meaning to do this for a while - a reel of my favourite kids TV programmes from when I was younger. There's the classics that everybody shares a fond nostalgia for (Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, etc) but I want to include the forgotten jems (ho ho) that people are clueless to, or have left at the back of a draw in their brain somewhere - there's nothing lovelier than the feeling of excited reclaimed memories dawning upon you! I was a bit of a tomboy in my youth, so as well as a heady dose of rainbows and ribbons, you'll also find the odd dragon and sword swinging hero amongst my eclectic collection of retro wonders...


I loved this show! You can take your Carebears and My Little Pony - this was far, far superior! There was a very exciting moment when we found a few of the toys at a Car Boot Sale...hee. 'Bitsy' was my favourite character - she had beautiful hair and was very shy. And she rode on a lion!

She-ra: Princess of Power  

Where there was He-Man (which never really grabbed me, tbh) there was She-ra! Not his secret girlfriend as I had remembered but his twin sister, apparently! That would have been a bit wrong... anyhow, we found a VHS of She-ra at a school fete, and whilst she was never a firm fixture in the video player, she made her mark.

Gummi Bears  
Another programme that we used to watch lots of, but I can't remember too much of it now! Must have got lost in those dozy Saturday mornings.

Poddington Peas  
Probably a classic for everybody in the known universe, but I had to put this one down! The Poddington Peas was one of those weird programmes where I would catch the odd episode here and there and it would ALWAYS be the same one - in this case it was the one where one of the chef peas goes to work in the evil castle's kitchen. I don't think I actually saw many others!

This was a lovely little cartoon obviously designed to make spiders look more cute. We had the video with every episode for this and it was definitely watched a fair few times.

Raggy Dolls
Very sorry - this will be in your head all day now! I'd completely forgotten all about this one until the man mentioned it to be a bit ago - definitely one of those "it's all coming back to me now!" moments. And realising the premise for this in my older age is soooo sad!

I remember this more because of the books (I think the descriptions worked better on paper) but did used to watch this as well - I believe it was one of those lunchtime programmes that maybe you were lucky enough to catch if you were having a sickie from school!

Stoppit and Tidyup
Blimey, I never realised what this programme was really all about until re-watching the opening sequence just now! No wonder my parents always made us watch it...

Sharky and George
Effortlessly cool under the sea mafia adventures! This used to be on at a ridiculous time on a Saturday morning on Channel 4 (the edgy channel!), so I didn't watch it too many times, but the theme tune lodges right into your head.

Noah and Nelly
There was always something a bit morose, almost depressing about this programme - I'm not sure why! Perhaps it was the lack of energy - the theme tune feels very languid and it was constantly raining and the characters were bored... This was another show where we had a video of every single episode - and putting aside its sombre notes we did watch it a lot! I also think this is the most obscure of my choices, so kudos if you're reading this and know what I'm on about!

Johnson & Friends
Speaking of depressing programmes, this used to be on with Ivor The Engine on a lunchtime - I HATED IVOR THE ENGINE! *ahem* Anyway, this was a very early version of Toy Story... I always remember the green hot water bottle with the long face!

This was another huge hit in my house - I can't even count how many series of Pingu we had on video, let alone how many times we watched them! There are loads of episodes I could probably recite by memory if you put them in front of me! Loved all the cute adventures of Pingu, especially when they would build things out of 'snow bricks'.

Through The Dragon's Eye
YES! It was always the best day at school when you had an afternoon of watching Through The Dragon's Eye! Walking through a mural wall into a fantasy land, and having to write down all the clues and work them out when your teacher paused the video... it's a crime only 6 episodes were made!

Chip'n'Dale Rescue Rangers  
This programme was amazing for its 80s theme tune anthem alone! Brilliant to sing along to, this brings back all sorts of memories from Saturday morning TV. And speaking of iconic theme tunes...

The Raccoons  
Now here's my karaoke song of choice! I was slightly obsessed with this theme tune when I was little... and much to my amazement, on finding it just now, I have realised it was the end credits song! Why on earth didn't they have it as the opening instead of tacking it on at the finish when people might turn off and MISS IT?! Barmy. Let's grab a hairbrush! "When darkness falls..."

The Littlest Hobo
Raggy Dolls song out of your head and replace it with this one! This used to be on very early in the mornings as well, and as it featured a REAL dog and REAL people it was a bit boring but the theme song was IMMENSE!

Jem & The Holograms
This was HUGE in my house - I'm not even sure if I can quantify it here! I must have watched the movie about 30 times, and know most of the songs by heart! Kimber was always my favourite one because she had flaming red hair, and the others were boring! But this is a young girl's dream show: who wouldn't want to have a pair of earrings that made you into a fabulous popstar and conjured up a wardrobe of clothes for you?!

Maxie's World
  This was the other really girly TV show I used to watch when I was younger - high school Maxie and her own TV show, where all of her friends are the producers and cameramen! Ha! I was so obsessed with one of the episodes where they have a careers quiz to determine what they're going to be when they're older, I made my own and took it to school! Oh the days... right, I better man up now hadn't I?

Dino Riders
Seee - a boys cartoon! I liked them to, y'know! This is quite an oddball choice as well, one many may not have heard of as we discovered it through a video and not proper TV. I think we only had the same 2 episodes we would watch over and over again as well, but it was good storytelling!

(What a riff!) Brilliant morning TV cartoon. I've never been interested in the films, but the TV series was great. This reminds me of a few other bands of heroes with super powers...

Captain Planet
Well this was the most awful, cheesiest cartoon looking back at it now! The power of heart - who wants that?! Totally short changed. But one of the first kids TV programmes that I can remember having a heavy environmental message woven in.

The ULTIMATE in my house when I was actually, still today - this is the cartoon that made life worth living! It wasn't just a favourite for one child, it was a favourite for all, with each of us having favourite episodes and favourite characters. I as you might have guessed (along with every other girl on the planet!) was obsessed with Cheetara and wanting to have her magic cane. Always had a soft spot for Vultureman as well (and his super power potion). 'The Trials' were my favourite adventures - just amazing! And Castle Plun-darr remains for me the best enemy stronghold of all time. We recorded every possible episode we could off the television and would watch them again and again and again - they probably don't even work now! Good thing there's the DVD box set, eh? A cartoon I could easily watch hours of this very second - I hold it very dear to my heart!

The Legend of Zelda
Another brilliant fantasy romp that we loved to watch! My favourite episode from programmes like these are where they have to venture into the baddy's lair/castle/kingdom and have to go through all the obstacles to get to the final fight - Zelda had a fabulous execution of this involving lots of lava and stepping stones. It was ace! Also loved the way they played on the love-hate relationship between Link and Zelda, like a bad romantic comedy. "Well, excuuuuuuuuuse meeeeee, Princess!"

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
This is the other seminal programme in my upbringing - Turtles! We also used to tape every episode we came across on the television and watch them over and over again (usually they went back to back with Thundercats). One of those theme tunes as well that you don't realise how RIDICULOUS it is at the time when you're singing along to it as a five year old - "Splinter taught them to be fighting teens... he's a radical rat!" Danatello was always my favourite one because he was clever and purple. Such nostalgia from recalling this, but not sure I could watch it now - it doesn't have the longevity as some of my other faves.

Mighty Max
This (and the one to follow) took over from Thundercats and Turtles as the programme that ruled our youth. A strange choice as well - perhaps it was enhanced by all the toys that came out at the same time (we had ALL the toys). But I've watched bits of these back recently and they're actually exceptionally good - very sharp for a show aimed at a young audience, and always inventive and sometimes scary adventures for each eppy. And overlooked I feel as well: if there's one show you take from this little trip down memory lane, go check out Mighty Max!

Pirates of Dark Water
A classic, an absolute classic! I used to love coming home from school and it being Pirates of Dark Water day, whatever day that was. The dark water premise was amazing - there was this episode that will always stick with me of when Wren has to go down into the dark water to confront the dark dweller who has kidnapped Tula. The way he takes her facade to trick Wren into staying down there was bloody creepy! But this show always fills me with great angst as we never got an ending - it was cancelled before we could find out whether he found all the treasures! Arghhh why do US TV Networks do this to us, and at such a tender age?!

Grotbags used to be on on a Wednesday afternoon after Rupert The Bear. I know this exactly because every Wednesday after school we would go to my nana's house, and for some reason we used to tape the programmes on CITV on that day! So we have lots of episodes of Grotbags on video - but found it a bit difficult to find any videos on the internet now. She was awesome, though!

Ahhh Knightmare - an absolute legend of a programme that I'm sure is on the favourites list of many in my generation. It was always a great day when it was a Knightmare day after school - and you just wanted it to go on and on as well, it was so frustrating when it ended halfway through a riddle, or just as they'd stepped into an interesting looking room! One of the most imaginative and captivating shows of my youth - I'm sure this was the seedling in my love for all things fantasy. Why it's never been remade is beyond me. Oh, and don't you wanna bet sidestep left guy was kicked within an inch of his life when they left the studio?

Still going I believe! I have an affinity with the Chuckle brothers as they went to the same Uni campus as moi, along with Richard O'Brien and The League of Gentlemen! Anyway... this was another programme I don't remember adoring as such but ended up being videotaped an awful lot. There was one episode where they had to show a guest around an old house and pretend it had all these secret passageways and hidden doors... I bloody loved it, it has stayed with me all this time!

Terror Towers
This was such a fun show, and very sad to find there's barely any footage of it anywhere. It had some really endearing characters and some great spooky music. One of the better game shows on CITV.

Incredible Games
This show was the bane of my life for many years! The number of people I've tried to describe this to and received blank stares back... "the one where they go up in the lift and there's a big chess board where they play the black knight, and there's a big swimming pool of alphabet soup, and the one where they fix the water pipes, and then they go up to the attic at the top and fit shapes!" Thank God for the internet, I finally found it! And I never would have remembered it was called Incredible Games! I absolutely loved this programme growing up - I genuinely bought into the whole randomness of the floors. And I keep remembering little tidbits as well that makes me smile - like when you lose a challenge you're banished to the laundry room!

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
Another classic! The above is the episode I most remember from the series. I distinctly remember it not being shown as much as I wanted it to - it was the first proper supernatural programme for kids that was actually scary and made you think twice about things! They had some really great stories too that are really watchable still today.

The Demon Headmaster
Strangely, we got really into this programme as a family when I was younger! I don't know why - it did feel sort of 'revoluntionary' of the time - it was one of those older CBBC shows that was on after Newsround, and after so much Grange Hill and Byker Grove this offered something very different. I think Series 2 was my favourite with the addictive hypnotic computer game, and the competition to complete it in the big tower. And as I recall, Series 3 was a big load of codswallop. Interesting to note the girl who played Dinah Glass never amounted to anything...

That's my wandering down memory lane done. A few picks from other peeps...



Bernard's Watch

The Riddlers

Bucky O'Hare

The Legend of Prince Valiant

Victor and Hugo

There are loads of others I could mention: Bananaman, Super Ted, Danger Mouse, Bodger and Badger, The Animals of Farthing Wood, The Family Ness, Playdays... but then this post would go on forever! If there's anything else you'd like to remind everybody about, get it in the comments section!

God - kids TV today is rubbish, isn't it?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Black Swan: IT'S GOOD!

Black Swan has now premiered at both Venice and Toronto, and the feedback has been AMAZING. Not only has tonnes of praise been heaped upon the film, but according to more than a few sources Natalie is one of the early front runners for an Oscar nomination next year. EEEEEEEEEEEEE this is more exciting than I can put into words! It's been so long, if ever, that one of Natalie's films has got this much buzz and positivity pre-release. Here's just a snippet of what everyone has been saying:

"Powerful, gripping and always intriguing, it also features a lead performance from Natalie Portman that elevates her from a substantial leading actress to major star likely to be lifting awards in the near future" - The Daily Telegraph

"Best film I've seen all year...Portman must now be favourite for the Oscar" - Obsessed With Film

"a wildly ambitious psychodrama...the film looks bound to win its star, Natalie Portman, plaudits and award nominations for her searing performance" - The Independent

"Centerstage stands Natalie Portman, whose courageous turn lays bare the myriad insecurities genuinely dedicated performers face when testing their limits, revealing shades of the actress never before seen on film" - Variety

"If the film is ultimately too unsettling to snag main prizes, it has at least one nomination in the bag for lead actress Natalie Portman who gives one of “those”’s a mesmerising psychological ride" - Screen Daily

"It’s a triumph in every sense — in Natalie Portman’s mesmeric, Oscar-booking performance" - This Is London

"It builds a gaudy, gothic frame around a disturbing and virtuosic central is hard to imagine that Natalie Portman would not be nominated for best actress" - New York Times

And to top it all off brilliantly - it's coming to the London Film Festival next month and I've applied for tickets to one of the first screenings!! Fingers crossed! Especially as it's been announced the film won't officially release here until February 11th (hmmm, perfect Valentine's material :-)....NOT!)

Natalie also looking lovely in her Venice and Toronto launch dresses - breathy siiiiiigh.


Emerging From a Tent


Yes I am aware I have missed the Toronto Film Festival, and the US TV season started last week, and the shortlist for the Man Booker prize has been announced. ARGH. Normal service will resume shortly.

Go and have a sleep and then check back.