World of Bile

Thoughts, pics and links from me to you.. Read on...

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Predator review

Hi Mark,

Haven't been motivated to write in my blog of late, despite Patch and Dave's encouragement.

So here is a review of Predator which I've posted to Ciao today, give's you something to read.

Predator (1987)

Dir: John McTiernan
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Kevin Peter Hall

For me, Predator is one of Arnie's finer action movies, along with Commando and Total Recall that exemplify the genre. Minus the special effects of later films, it still matches them for action and visceral thrills. Predator is a blend of macho and science fiction. With Die Hard director John McTiernan at the helm it is more measured than other action films of the period. The unfurling story is not simply a preamble to the gunfire, it stands out with merit in its own right. Amongst the Stallone and Schwarzenegger films of the period, this is practically unique.

A plane has gone down in the Central American jungle with a crew of US airmen who are subsequently been held by terrorists. There is of course, just one man who can rescue them, Colonel 'Dutch' Scultz played by Arnie. He leads his team of incredibly macho commandos into the jungle, tracks down the terrorists and dispatch them with minimal fuss. On the way the team pick up farmer/terrorist lady/? Elpidia Carrillo for window dressing and then heads for home. Of course it isn't that simple, there is someone (or something) tracking Dutch's team through The Green. The hunter is a 7 feet plus tall dreadlocked Alien who hunts people for sport, sees the heat of its quarry and uses a variety of devious toys to kill them off. One by one, Arnie's troop fall prey to the Predator until just he is left. A life and death jungle struggle ensues..

You can almost sense the testosterone seeping through the screen during the 106 minutes run time of this film. This was one of Arnold Schwarzeneggers first major features and he plays the role of Dutch straight pretty much throughout. No wisecracking, monotone one man army here, Arnie displays a full range with emotions like fear and worry in this movie: unprecedented in one of his films. Of course, the script gives Arnie a bounty of macho wisecracks and dialogue that he gleefully mangles with his guttural Austrian accent ('Get in Da Choppagh!!'). Dutch is ably backed up by a support of bulky alpha males who shine in their own right. Bill Duke is the finest of these - he plays Mac, an imposing, shaven headed sergeant who is in driven to madness by what transpires. Jesse Ventura is Blain, a macho man with a moustache (rare that, even then) who is the deliverer of one of the most needlessly virile lines of dialogue I have ever heard (you know, the chewing tobacco wisecrack). Carl Weathers (of Rocky fame) features as Dillon, a former buddy of Schultz who sends the men out in the first place.

The actors work together extremely well. According to the director commentary they were sent on a boot camp before filming started so the camaraderie feels very authentic. The whole 'slasher in the jungle' idea plays out gratifyingly despite the limitations of budget, technology and other factors. Case in point: Dutch visibily looses weight over the course of some scenes (Delhi belly being to blame)- apparently Arnie completes some scenes with an IV rig in his arm. Visually, the special effects have dated surprisingly well - FX master Stan Winston (who worked on the Terminator movies) created a ground breaking Predator reminiscent to HR Geiger's designs for the Alien films. Twenty years on you still admire the naturalistic countenance of this creature, it looks like a pi**ed off lobster on steroids.

Overall this movie is one of the best of the action movie genre. All the components are there to make the teenage fanboys drool: macho flesh, plenty of wisecracks, gratutitous gunfire and gore. However, Predator stands apart for its nuances and understatement.. and I never thought Id say that for an action movie! The heroes are not fearless warriors, they get spooked at times and even untermench Arnie displays a measure of terror at the end. The violence (and there is plenty of it) is played sparingly, creepers and other Central American foliage play their part in masking the gore and even creating a certain amount of suspense. The dialogue is credible and devoid of the usual macho hot air and wooden plot exposition you'd expect from an Arnie film. Bill Duke is superb as the doomed Mac, unsettlingly efficient at the start but spooked to mania during later scenes - a multifaceted performance compared to his acrylic suited goon in Commando.

One of Arnie's finest. And a credible sci-fi thriller to boot..

If you haven't seen it for a while, check it out. Those without a predilection for action movies might be pleasantly surprised too. It's not as bad as you probably thought.

4/5

Sunday, December 21, 2008

'Christmas Lunch for Dummies' Anyone?

Mark,

Christmas approaches rapidly. All the Xmas gifts have been organised well ahead of time, all that is left (all?) is the ingredients for a Boxing Day feed for Ellen, Xander, Mum and myself.

Being my first major solo festive eating plan, this disturbs somewhat. The checklist has about half a dozen items on it (turkey? sprouts? roast potatoes? cranberry sauce? erm...) and tails off soon after. Still, give the visitors plenty of vino and they shouldnt be too fussy..

Its amazing how much can change in 12 months, this time last year I was planning a solo Xmas, just looking to get through and start 2008 with a clean slate. This year I have plans to make: a tree to decorate and many friends to wish my best to before New Year begins. Obviously, Ive inherited all of Ellen's buddies by proxy too and this weekend I played dutiful partner when we travelled over to Kent to visit some of them.

The last eight months have given me an insight into life with children. Until meeting Xander I just didnt realise the battle of attrition and psychological warfare involved in bringing a little one into the world. To those who dont know. Its. Seriously. Hard. Work.

Now one is tough. Imagine having 4. Ellen's friend Debbie has four girls aged 4 to 9. I spent an hour with them on Saturday night , which was 60 of the most intense minutes of my life. The front room was full of howling girls when we came in and they proceeded to focus their gimlet attention on yours truly whilst Ellen 'got a coffee'. Still, like dogs they can sense fear coming through the pores, you just gotta dive in and play. And play I did. Georgina (aged 6) told me I wasn't well, sent me to the couch to lie down and decided she was going to 'look after me'. This involved coming my hair (??!!), giving up her teddy and generally leaping all over me.

I got away lightly. With a few hugs and shouts of 'smelly', we made our excuses and left.

Next on the list were Chrissie and Mark. They have just two children and the difference in welcome was a relief, more monastery than monkey house. Both were quiet, well mannered and polite. If Ellen had a best friend, it would have to be Chrissie, they miss each other very much since E moved away. Chrissie is a very strong woman, she rules her family with a rod of iron. And it seems like Mark is often on the receiving end of any directives that are issued. Its funny, he looks and acts just like Jacob - quiet, reserved and deadpan.. the similarities were just uncanny..

I visited my buddy Simon down in Farnborough this afternoon. I will tell you all about that another time.

Till Then

Alex

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Baseballs newest recruit?

Hi there,

Ive decided my blog is going to be addressed to my most loyal reader, Mark. Im personalising my writings as I rather like the notion my thoughts are being taken on by someone who is interested. Rather like a noted fictional diarist of previous years, no?

The big story which has swum into my awareness is George Bush’s ‘farewell’ trip to Iraq. After the chaos that country has been submerged into, a discreet exit stage right would be a lot more fitting, I’d reckon. Still, GWB is making a victory tour, like a Roman general touring the conquered provinces. It seems the locals are not too impressed though if these pics are anything to go by..

You gotta admire his reflexes though - nearly took his head off.

Righteous Kill.. my two cents

Have been squeezing a few movies in recently. On the small screen and the large.

Firstly, Mark and myself went along to the PCC to watch ‘Righteous Kill’ the latest De Niro/ Pacino vehicle. Normally this is a fanboy wet dream combo: two wisecracking, intense multi award winning tough boys sharing the same screen. The problem is… its absolutely.. terrible.. My review is short, as 30 words is all this movie deserves..

They play two, jaded cops (Turk and Rooster – it doesn’t really matter which one is which) who are following up a number of murders। Suspicion falls onto De Niro who is heading the case but of course there is a twist in the finale. Pretty formulaic stuff, but add into the mix that both of these once fine actors are at their profane, scenery chewing worst. Pacino has morphed into a particularly sweary owl and his angry heron death rattle is laughable at best (spoiler there॥ sorry). Meanwhile De Niro’s features seemed to have moved towards the centre of his puckered up face.. like Blakey off ‘On The Buses’. The stock Pacino/De Niro stereotypes ring hollow now, the former no longer portrays the passionate, off the wall maverick whilst De Niro no longer comes across the dangerous, powerful man you wouldnt dream of crossing. We now have the Odd Couple as filmed by Martin Scorcese - two repressed, angry old men who just come across as bitter..


Pacino: hoot! Muthaf**ka!

De Niro: 'I'll get you Butler'

The fundamental point is: these two are just to old. Period. The intense, cornered De Niro comes across as a particularly unpleasant old man instead of the powerful righteous man he would’ve projected ten years previously. Dressed in grey sweatpants and zip up top when facing down the villain he could looks like he should be starring in Cocoon. Pacino runs around in his usual black leather jacket and open necked shirt, permatanned turkey neck on show. He should be wearing a cardie for goodness sake!

Mark summed up the movie with his usual well measured piquancy:

‘More Turkey than Rooster’

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I am here to please you...

WoB is a labour of love for me.

If I don't post for a while, pangs of guilt hit me. Often I ask myself 'Am I posting anything anything of significance?'

Probably not.

Every day I check the number of people who visit my blog through an application called Statcounter. Received over 450 hits last month which is a record. I have two visitors who seem to visit my blog several times each day, I only known them by IP address: 86.2.247.118 and 217.41.39.190. This message is primarily for them.

I hope you enjoy what I post here. I feel flattered that you continue to find interest in the words I write.

Cheers,

Alex

Xander never stops moving..

A strange one for you. Indulge me if you would...


Ellen's buddy from Chicago returned after his adventures overseas. We took him for an Italian before sending him back Stateside.

This is a photo of the human mini dynamo that is Xander Reed. My efforts to get a candid mealtime snap were rewarded with the blur you see above. Kind of funny I thought..

However, the more I look at this pic, the more disconcerting it becomes. Wide mouth, Simpsonian overbite, elongated, swollen eyes.. See??



I've been racking my brain for what this reminds me of. Had the eureka moment this morning: it as this image from David Lynch's head scratching marathon 'Inland Empire' - after two hours of weirdness that goes over your head, this image on a 30 foot screen wakes you up like a wet fish slapped round the chops.

See the resemblance???

Cheers,

Alex

Friday, December 05, 2008

I want nieces and nephews darn it! But in the meantime..

Paid a visit to my sister and bro in law in deepest Surrey..

Lovely area. Full of winsome commuter sorts who go there to settle down and raise children who are well mannered and pleasing on the eye..

My sister has left her high powered London job to do just that. She's picked the perfect place too. A huge airy house with massive back lawn. I foresee half a dozen years down the line a couple of photogenic children charging around with wreckless abandon. Grazing knees, getting muddy, all the kind of things that kiddies do.

Until that happens I have her two bulldogs to enjoy. Jock and Rosie live so well and are treated too so much love they might as well be human children anyway! Last time I posted about my 'niece' my weekly hit totals nearly tripled when the porn searchers came my way. Peoples' hunger for smut in the unlikeliest places never ceases to amaze me..

Anyway, here are some more pics of the little ones who call me 'uncle'..

Or maybe they don't.


Devil Dog (l) and Jock (r)


The genetic cloning of Cerberus is only partly complete.


Hard life, huh?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I love the sound of Rammstein in the morning.

It wakes you up like nothing else. Short of a caffeine IV drip of course! Their stuff makes me sprint when I for my pre-work run. I turn it up loud and the pneumatic drill drum solos literally drag me over the last couple hundred yards or so. Lungs heaving, sweat dripping off me and with my ears ringing… not a pretty sight..

Never thought Id be a fan of this kind of stuff. However after browsing on youtube I got a sample of one of their wonderfully dark videos. Someone chewing on an angel's wings with the angel still attached, something like that. The visuals are pretty shocking, but this stuff is some of the most powerful music I have ever heard!

My understanding of German is next to nothing, but the language is perfect for heavy metal lyrics. The lead singer’s rolled r's and majestically forboding vocal style simply drip with dark menace. My favourite Rammstein tune (and I never thought Id ever be saying that) is called ‘Feuer Frei’ ('Fire When Ready') and is a combo of powerful speed drumming with bombing sirens and guitars that sound like the Wehmacht heavy metal marching band should playing them. Check out the video for ‘Feuer Frei’ – it looks… evil.. Then check the lego homage I discovered. A slightly fluffier version..

Busted they most certainly are not..