I went to No. 10 Downing Street today!
Not a great picture (it was dark, sorry), but I did have the honour of being invited to Number 10 Downing Street today, due to the work I do with Comic Relief… Come on Red Nose Day!!!!
Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry
Hello everybody! I’m so sorry I haven’t been updating my blog much over the last few months – the truth is, loads of stuff has happened since my last update in August, I’ve been busy with work and out of the country a bit, and as a result I just haven’t had the time to write about it all. In no particular order, this is just some of what I’ve been through since my last update:
1) I’ve watched some films.
Here’s a list and a quick summary of the films I’ve seen, and what thought of them:
Godzilla: Very good. I think you see the monster enough, depsite some complaints I’ve read of people feeling short-changed.
Pacific Rim: Like Godzilla, but with even fewer female characters in it. There’s a good joke where one robot punches a Newton’s cradle, but other than that it’s pretty standard stuff.
Edge of Tomorrow: Fantastic high-concept sci-fi, can’t believe it didn’t fare better at the box office. Tom Cruise is great in it as a PR coward who slowly becomes a badass.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Hugely entertaining and funny sci-fi caper. Far exceeded my expectations, and I think even better than the core Marvel films.
Frozen: Classic Disney fare with strong female characters and a great message about not being ashamed of what you are. “Let it go, let it go….” sorry.
Interstellar: Hugely over-rated, 40 minutes too long, unnecessary use of Matt Damon, and a contrived, cop-out ending. Science = magic, kids! A real pity – I had high hopes for this. I don’t understand why everyone is going nuts about it.
Hunger Games Mockingjay: A great adaptation of the first half of the book. Finnick’s speech about secrets is ruined, but otherwise they did a good job.
The Imitation Game: A real gem of a movie about Alan Turing, the mathematician who solved the Nazi Enigma code. Wonderful performance by Benedict Bumdbedebum
2) I’ve met some people:
I met David Beckham and Paralympic Gold Medallist Jonnie Peacock in September. The meeting was nothing to do with them endorsing Time Rep unfortunately – it was to do with my day-job! Both thoroughly nice blokes.
3) I’ve been traveling:
In September, I went on holiday to America, doing a bit of a road trip around Washington State and Oregon with my wife. Starting in Seattle, we drove (and by that I mean I drove – Lucy doesn’t like to drive abroad) to Snowqualmie (where they filmed Twin Peaks), then down to Mount Rainier, then over to Portland, then to Cannon Beach (where they filmed the Goonies), then up to the Olympic National Park, then back round to Seattle. I was thinking about posting some of the 200 photos of what we saw and doing a bit of a commentary on the highlights, but then I figured no-one would care. Even my friends look a bit bored when I show them the photos (and one of them has an owl in it, so they’re pretty good photos), so I’m sure total strangers will find them even less interesting!
4) I’ve been writing:
Boy, have I been writing. This book I’m working on is quite complicated, and much longer than anything I’ve done before, but I think it’s coming along quite nicely. I haven’t said much about it so far, but it’s basically a murder mystery set in the future, written in the same sarcastic tone as Time Rep. The title I’m going with at the moment is The Electric Detective, but that may change – I’ll see how I feel.
Anyway, that’s it – just to say I haven’t forgotten about this site, and I will add updates when I can – I just think it’s a better use of my time to be writing my book than to be updating this every now and again with random musings, but I did want to stop and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year, which I’ve now done, so I’ll be off.
See you later (hopefully not in four months)
Breaking the fourth wall
If there’s one thing I always love in movies, it’s when they break the fourth wall. Now, for the uninitiated of you out there, let me briefly explain what this means. Breaking the fourth wall is where a character on the screen acknowledges the world outside of the one in which the movie is set. It is usually done by a character either talking or looking directly at the audience. Of course, the two greatest examples of this are as follows:
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (in which he constantly advises the audience on all matters pertaining to being awesome):
Trading Places (when Billy Ray turns and gives a long look to the camera after being told he might find bacon in a ‘bacon, lettuce and tomato’ sandwich):
There are of course other examples, but these two are my favourite. So why do I like it so much when movies do this? I’m not sure, but I think it may have something to do with the fact that it happens so rarely. It’s almost as if the film is breaking some sort of code that prohibits it from happening, so when it does, it’s like the film is being a bit naughty.
The same cannot be said however, for movie posters. In movie posters, it seems almost mandatory that the characters acknowledge the outside world, and they way in which they do so is carefully designed to tell you all you need to know about the film in the two seconds you spend looking at it on your way to work. So far I have identified four different categories that these posters fall into:
1) The characters look embarrassed / ashamed / confused / annoyed about the situation this movie has put them in
These films are generally mindless, high-concept capers in which the main characters are thrust into a situation that takes them out of their comfort zone, with ‘hilarious’ consequences. Everything is resolved in less than 110 minutes (or should be), and all the characters grow into being better than they were at the beginning of the film. Nobody dies, and somebody usually falls over at some point. Vince Vaughn generally stars.
Notable examples: The Internship, Delivery Man, The Dilemma, Sex Tape, The Five Year Engagement:
2) Loads of characters are in shot, and most / all of them are looking directly at you. The poster makes you feel as though you have arrived just after an interesting incident that you will only find out more about if you watch the film.
These films are again high-concept capers, but generally with a more adult theme. There will be at least three gross-out moments, one of which will probably involve somebody’s penis. There may also be a joke involving a pet being used to cover someone’s bum.
Notable examples: American Pie, The Hangover, Brides Maids (that’s two words, idiots):
3) The characters look knowingly at the camera with a wry smile, their faces are usually cast half in shadow. If there is more than one character in the poster, the scale goes all weird as if everyone secondary to the plot has just been miniaturised accidentally.
These films are typically action movies where loads of cool shit happens. Things blow up, there is usually an exciting opening sequence, a girl will get undressed at some point for no reason, and the third act will involve a fight on an unconventional means of transport. The movie will also be 25 minutes longer than necessary.
Notable Examples: X-Men, Iron Man, Star Trek, any Bond film, Pirates of the Caribbean:
4) Only the main character is aware of the world outside the movie. Everyone else in the poster is preoccupied by something or someone else.
These films generally have a more complicated plot, and not necessarily a happy ending. You may generally dislike the main character and wish that they get their comeuppance.
Notable examples: The Hundred Foot Journey, The Wolf of Wall Street, Home Alone:
I’m sure there are more categories, but that’s all I can be bothered to come up with for now. So why do movie posters break the fourth wall so often, even though most films do not? Well obviously it’s to get our attention. You see, as human beings, we can sense when somebody is looking at us, and feel a compulsion to look back. It harks back to the days when we were constantly scoping out our surroundings for threats, and as such we have no choice but to look at these posters. It’s instinctive, much like the urge to switch off the television whenever The X-Factor comes on.
So in other words, you could say these posters are designed to exploit a primeval fear buried deep inside the recesses of our mind; a fear that we are being hunted. And I suppose we are being hunted in a way, only the predators in this case are movie executives, circling around us with their posters, their billboards, and those adverts you see on the sides of buses. And Vince Vaughn.
Nice to know, isn’t it?
The top 27.5 lists of stuff that’s good of all time!
If there’s one thing people love to read, it’s a good list. Indeed, when I first set up this website, I read that a really easy way of creating ‘content’ (you know – that word that only marketeers use to generically describe ‘entertainment’) was to do a list of something, like a top ten this, or a top five that. And do you know what? I think they’re right. I mean, you only have to turn on the television and switch over to Channel 4, and there’s a 1 in 3 chance they’ll be screening something like “The top 50 gadgets of all time!” or “The top 100 children’s television shows of all time!” There are literally hundreds of these programmes out there (and I’m sure we’re not too far away from “The top 100 ‘list-shows’ of all time!” rearing its head at some point), and the reason for that is that they are just so bloody popular.
The internet is the same – there are countless blogs with countless ‘top whatever’ lists out there, but there is one major difference I have noticed to the lists you see on television: an aversion to round numbers. You see, I was searching the internet for “the top time travel plots of all time”, and one of the first links that came up was a “top 22”. A top 22? What is that about? Can’t we just have a top 20? No, apparently, the list needs to be 22 in length. I assumed there are just too many good time travel plots out there to squeeze into a more concise list, but when number 22 is Timecop and number 18 is Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, you begin to suspect that maybe the intention was for the list to be a peculiar length all along.
So I began to see if this trend of not having “round number” lists was unique to time travel plots, or if there were others out there. Turns out, the internet is full of them. These are my favourites (and please note – to break with internet tradition, I have stuck to a top 10):
- The top 47 books for kids who love animals
- The top 57 iphone apps you should install today
- The top 34 moments from New York fashion week
- The top 28 North American sports knee surgeons
- The top 58 sandwich recipes
- The top 41 powerhouse fruits and vegetables by nutrient density
- The top 34 names of crazy people
- The top 16 breastfeeding controversies
- The top 29 reasons why it’s okay to creepily stare at women’s butts
- The top 33 most creative camping DIY projects and clever ideas
I particularly like the last one. You see, not only is it a list of the most creative camping DIY projects, but it covers clever ideas too. Now, that’s pretty broad, wouldn’t you say? I mean, there have been loads of clever ideas over time, like the invention of wheel, the discovery of penicillin, and intorduction of squeezy Marmite onto supermarket shelves in 2007. So what’s the number one ‘clever idea’ on that list? What was deemed the greatest thing mankind ever thought up? I’ll save you the bother of going there to find out – it’s using beeswax to waterproof your shoes.