More Things That Annoy Me in TV & Film (including Mobile Phone Conversations and Children)

July 28, 2012

It’s been a while since I did one of these articles and with there only being tennis on at the Olympics right now, I thought I’d revisit it, though I hope I’m not scraping the barrel for entries…

So let’s get straight into it.

Mobile Phone Conversations

Watch the way people speak to each other on mobile phones on TV shows or films.

Those conversations are unlike anything you would see in real life because…

  • Nobody ever says hello
  • Nobody exchanges small talk (although for the sake of scripts, you could forgive that)
  • People seem to arrange social events with each other without expressing where or when they will meet specifically – i.e. “I’ll meet you tomorrow night”. Where? When?!
  • They seem to have conversations on speaker-phone for no apparent reason
  • Nobody ever…ever…says goodbye. They just hang up the phone.

Try having a ‘TV Mobile phone conversation’ with someone you know and be prepared to be called a rude and unspecific bastard as a result.

The Way People Just Walk Into Each Other’s Houses

You know how people of a certain vintage talk about ‘The Good Old Days’ when you could go down the pub (to meet Mr and Mrs Bobby Moore presumably – and I wonder how many people will get that one…) and leave your front door unlocked?

Well for a start I don’t believe that ever happened, but even if it did, that world still exists in TV land.

If someone doesn’t immediately answer their door, the person knocking just decides to come in without being asked, which – apart from being totally unrealistic – is the height of rudeness. Would you like it if someone just walked into your house unannounced?

People have enough trouble getting into their own houses with a key, so the likelihood of their front door being unlocked for passers-by to walk through is highly unlikely

The Neighbours Effect

This is a variation on that theme; something that happens in plenty of shows but is most commonly known to happen in the Australian soap opera Neighbours.

Neighbours is on 5 days a week for 48 weeks of the year and on average once per episode they present a situation where someone is entering a house just as someone else is leaving it.

It’s a cheap directorial ploy to try to move scripts along, but it happens far too often and it’s incredibly irritating.

But then, if I would to criticise Neighbours I could bring up plenty of other issues that bug em, such as the way nobody ever comes back for special occasions with their families, the way nobody can get married without incident, how if someone moves 5 miles down the road they are never seen from or heard from again, or even that if someone has a ‘hidden talent’ it’s not just a run of the mill talent but the greatest example of that talent in the whole world.

I could bring up more, but it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Children…Aren’t They Just So Bloody Wonderful

If aliens from another civilisation were to learn about the human race simply from watching TV and films, they’d think the world was ruled by children.

My blood is boiling at the mere sight of the Wonderful – and incredibly smug – Callum off Neighbours

Children are always the ones who know what’s going on before the adults; they are the smart ones, the wise ones. Everything they do is cute, nothing that they do is wrong. They have such wonderful spirits of adventure and can defeat evil because they are the epitome of innocence. Essentially they are treated as mystical beings that are greater than all adults.

In the aforementioned Neighbours they are central to the plot and lead such wildly exciting lives.

Absolute pish.

Kids are none of these things in reality. More often than not they irritating, badly behaved and adult-reliant little shits who are disliked by every adult out-with their own parents – and even then that’s 50/50. More often than not they are rude as well.

And the ones who actually appear in TV shows and films are the worst of the lot. Smug little tossers who have been built up by those parents as being far more special than they are. And 99% of the time they can’t even bloody well act!

Look at Callum off Neighbours. Just look at him. He oozes smug, he has a hair-do more advanced and worked on than any fat kid I ever saw at school and the chances are he’s as unappealing as a human being in real life as he unwittingly comes off as in Neighbours.

The only realistic example of children on TV that I have ever seen was on the BBC sitcom ‘Outnumbered’ where the kids weren’t given lines per-se and instead were fed things to say by the writers just before they went on camera. Those kids were funny – Karen especially – because they were so young that they didn’t realise what it meant to be on TV.

And I say ‘was’ because as the years have gone by the younger kids have grown up a bit and have become aware of their own fame. Now they badly recite dialogue written for them and are about as far from cute as a turd served up on a paper plate.

Urgh.

And on that note…

Skins

Because teenagers DO NOT have lives like that.

Next Time…

I discuss ‘EVIL’ and the way people stand talking to each other.


The Dark Knight Rises Review (or ‘A Film That Could Have Been Great But Lasts Too Long and Takes Itself Too Seriously’)

July 24, 2012

Opinion on the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises appears to be split into two camps.

One set of people believe the film is a masterpiece, a film for the ages and an absolute triumph to top off ‘The Best Trilogy in Movie History’.

Other people consider it to be pretentious, overly long & bloated clap-trap that takes itself far too seriously.

But then these films have always divided opinion. If you remember, the second film in the series became the ultimate film for the Professional Mourners Society because Heath Ledger had tragically died before its release. Sadly what happened was that because he died, his admittedly very good portrayal of the Joker became hyped up by some as the greatest single performance by an actor in movie history. It was good; it was great even, but it wasn’t the best ever. But as a consequence of people saying that, the type of person who always goes against the commonly held belief immediately took a dislike to it and to the film immediately.

My opinion of that film was that it was good, but it was overrated and it went on too long. If I recall correctly, I actually managed to fall asleep in the cinema during the afternoon while watching it and when I watched the Blu Ray of it at home it was a ‘two-sittings’ job.

So going into the latest and probably last instalment in the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise, I expected I’d end up thinking something quite similar about this one.

But did I?….

Thoughts – Know When So Much Is Too Much

I won’t keep you in suspense…

Yes, that’s exactly what I thought.

It was a good film, but it went on too long. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think any film really needs to be nearly three hours long, but that’s exactly what this was.

It’s as if some people in the industry – pretentious people – believe that you can’t do a good film in 90 minutes and that a classic is somehow judged by its length. Perhaps these are insecure men transferring their issues with ‘length’ to another medium, guffaw guffaw.

But seriously, a film like 12 Angry Men – which thankfully retains a higher position in the imdb top #250 than this – shows that simply isn’t true.

Could it have been told in less time? Of course it could. Beyond the opening scene in the plane, the first hour dragged on a fair amount with precious little happening and – without spoiling things for you if you haven’t seen it – later on in the film, the bit where Wayne has to escape from the place he gets put into did not need as many false finishes as it had.

In fairness to it though, the film got better as it went along and the last half hour especially was very good; a direct contrast to the Marvel Superhero films that mostly seem to start off well and then descend into a final 30 minutes of gratuitous explosions and CGI effects. The plot built up to an exciting climax and the storytelling was very good.

Does It Take Itself Too Seriously?

I think the Batman films pride themselves as being a bit more serious than the mostly light-hearted Marvel efforts and in turn, they get taken more seriously by the people who go to them. The stuff that happens in them is more bleak, the visuals are always gloomier, set at night or under grey skies and in drab and colourless environments. The subject matter is more serious too. If it wasn’t for the issues I’m about to bring up, this could be a very grim terrorist film about economic and social collapse. And it even stars an actor who takes himself extremely seriously.

And that’s all well and good, but the film is still about a bloke in a rubber Bat suit who drives fictional vehicles and puts on just the stupidest ‘trying to sound hard’ voice you could possibly imagine. Bale’s ‘Batman voice’ is cringeworthy. It’s trying too hard.

Bane is an interesting one as well. He’s very much a ‘comic book’ villain and fails to transition as well from comic book to screen as the Joker did. You could believe in the Joker as a realistic character in a serious film, because he did come off as an utter psychopath, but Bane – with his face mask and superhuman strength – seemed a bit flat for me. And that voice…well it was fitting in with the character, but it was too obviously dubbed on afterwards and seemed detached from the character on screen, so that didn’t help matters. It was also a bit silly if we’re being honest.

So yeah, it tries to be really serious, but by its very nature it’s not that serious, and so it clashes with itself.

But Let’s Not Be Too Critical

Despite that though it’s still a good film.

Silliness and length aside, it’s a solid story that is mostly well acted and is brought together to a fitting conclusion.

While Bane might be a disappointment compared to the Joker, the film still has well thought characters like Alfred, Blake, Fox, Commissioner Gordon and Miranda, and Cat Woman is also a worthy addition who could probably have her own spin-off movies (though I’m not sure how she’s seemingly able to hypnotize men with her allure).

There are also plenty of fun little cameos from actors you’d recognise from shows like Prison Break (Bellick is back playing a Prison Guard and *spit* Bill Kim is here too), Dexter, Torchwood (Burn Gorman looks like he’s in his 70s now) and even a few noted characters from an earlier Batman film (I won’t spoil that for you though).

Final Thoughts

So this is what I thought it would be. A good film, but too long and takes itself too seriously. It could easily have cut down on a few subplots, like the stuff with the orphans or the attempted takeover of Wayne Enterprises, and ended up with a terrific film running at around two hours long.

Then I would have loved it, but as it stands I only like it.

Talk of it being ‘The Best Movie Trilogy of All Time’ are daft. I know it’s up to personal taste but I could watch Back to the Future, Indiana Jones or Star Wars again and again. To watch this film again would – in a similar vein to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy – feel like a bit of a chore to me.

If you liked the other Batman films, you’ll like this, but if you don’t enjoy films that go on forever and would prefer to tackle this one in two more palatable sittings, I’d recommend you wait for the DVD release.


Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (and Is It Different Enough From the 2002 Version)

July 14, 2012

Well I got my money’s-worth with my Unlimited Cinema ticket in June didn’t I? Not one sodding film was worth going to see over the course of the entire month.

But now we’re into the official ‘Summer Blockbuster’ Season, and that starts off with The Amazing Spider-Man

What’s This Film About?

It’s a retelling of the origins of Spider-Man. I assume you know the basic story, and if you don’t, I’m not really sure why you’re reading this review…

Thoughts – Have We Not Been Here Before?

The big worry for me – and I’m sure everyone else – going into this film was whether or not it would be pretty much the same film as the brilliant Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst effort from 2002. Thankfully, the answer to that was no.

Ok, there is the same skeleton structure of the weak schoolboy with an interest in photography – Peter Parker – who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains superpowers. And its also got the bit where he indirectly causes his Uncle Ben to be killed by a burglar, as well as the thread in the story where he gets the idea for the mask and costume thanks to wrestling, but beyond that it’s a different film.

I’d heard it was ‘darker’ in the same way as the newer Batman films are considered more grim than the originals, but I don’t necessarily agree with that at all. It was just a different take on things, although perhaps a take that is slightly more adult and serious. But that doesn’t mean ‘darker’.

In this version, instead of Mary-Jane being the female lead, it’s Gwen Stacey (which is actually more accurate because Stacey appeared in the comics long before Mary-Jane), instead of J. Jonah Jameson leading the charge against Spider-Man, it’s Chief of Police (who also happens to be Stacey’s father), and instead of The Green Goblin, it’s The Lizard (who, again to be fair, appeared in the comics first).

There are other little things too like the circumstances surrounding how he was bitten by a spider and how he came to get his projectile webs, and so what we’ve ended up with is a markedly different film to the one from 10 years ago.

So What Have We Got?

Thankfully, despite those differences, The Amazing Spiderman is still a good film.

Certainly Andrew Garfield – who I was surprised to find out is actually English – is a better actor than Tobey Maguire and the rest of the supporting cast is probably better too (it has Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, so that’s likely to be an improvement by default). And while in the 2002 Spider-Man film, the character of J. Jonah Jameson was played well, it was still a bit corny, and perhaps anachronistic. In the modern world in which we live – and in which this film is set – the idea of Spider-man only getting captured on film by one single photographer just doesn’t work, and it doesn’t follow either that JJJ would be so against him either. A police chief not being too keen on him is a different matter entirely.

Essentially, as a story, it flows nicely and is a bit more ‘realistic’ – in terms of the science behind both Spider-Man and the Lizard – than the previous one; although considering it’s a film about a comic book superhero, I’m not sure that’s all that important.

If I was to have a problem with it, it would be that it suffers from the same issues that I’m beginning to find a helluva lot of 3D films are suffering from; that being that three-quarters of the way through, the film stops advancing as a plot and just becomes a CGI special effects festival for the last part.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as bad for it as some films I’ve seen – like The Avengers from earlier this year – but the action sequences still went on a little bit too long for my liking.

I suppose as well another issue would be that if I hadn’t known about Spider-Man and his origins going in, I might find the leap from him being bitten by a spider to becoming Spider-Man a little bit much. It’s difficult to know how much the film explains it clearly and how much I filled in the blanks myself considering I know the story so well. But I did note that it maybe relied upon the audience knowing the story in advance a little bit beforehand. I guess I’d have to ask someone who’d never seen or heard of Spider-Man before what they thought, to be sure.

Oh, and one other thing; there’s no way a school girl would find herself in a position of such power within a science facility like Gwen Stacey did, but that’s a minor issue.

Should You Go And See The Amazing Spider-Man?

The origin of Spider-Man is a classic story, and so as long as they stuck to that, this was always going to be a good film. And it was; despite some of the problems I’ve outlined above it was great.

It mostly flowed well, it was well acted, it had a strong plot and crucially it was different to the 2002 version.

So even if you’ve seen that version go to this one and enjoy it, but be prepared for the action to take over a little bit much towards the end.


Football Manager 2013 Research: Scottish Non League, Juniors and Highland League Project

July 7, 2012

When we research Football Manager in Scotland the focus is obviously on playable leagues first and foremost. However, in the lower leagues of the SFL there are plenty of players who have played in the Juniors at one point or another, and many released players from the SPL and SFL end up in those leagues as well.

And of course, with the Competition Editor – my personal favourite feature in Football Manager – the player can activate these leagues or amend the Scottish football format to make these sides playable in a personalised Scottish football structure.

So I think it’s important we represent the Non Leagues, Juniors and Highlands in Football Manager to a good standard. The problem I have is that information on the these leagues isn’t always the easiest to come by. The clubs’ own websites aren’t always the best (if they have websites at all) and so it becomes hard to keep track of the players; even harder since the Scottish Research Team’s own non-league and Junior football enthusiast moved on last year.

Therefore, I’m throwing it open once again to fans of these leagues to help ensure we do a good job of representing them.

Following on from the success of the Unattached Player Spreadsheet I uploaded earlier in the week, here is a spreadsheet of the 1200+ Non League, Junior and Highland League based players in the Football Manager database, conveniently split into separate sheets for each region.

Your mission, should you wish to accept it, is to help me keep a track of where these players are. Do they have a new club? Have they retired? Over the summer months, your help could be invaluable.

Should there be any up and coming or major names missing from these lists, I want you to tell me as well.

You can contact me either in the comments section here, by emailing me at officialfmscotland@gmail.com or on Twitter @sgmilne


FM2013 Scottish Research Project: Where Are They Now?

July 2, 2012

With Football Manager Research, we’re always looking for ways to ensure the database is as accurate as possible, and as you know, I try and make the whole process as inclusive as possible.

There are 380 players and 171 Non players in the Scottish database for FM, and we’d like your help identifying where these guys are.

Are they…

  • Playing for a league club in Scotland or abroad?
  • Playing for a Junior Club?
  • Retired?
  • Coaching, Scouting or Managing a club anywhere in the world?

Help us get it right and ensure that our database is bang on for the release of Football Manager 2013.

Enlarge to get a better look

What we’ve done is created a spreadsheet for you to view and edit. If you know where a player or non player is, you can enter that information into the document. Similarly, if any information like spelling or date of birth is wrong, tell us.

One thing though; to ensure that the quality of the information in the spreadsheet isn’t compromised (within a minute of it being uploaded someone had deleted a few player surnames) we’ve locked the first two sheets in the spreadsheet. If you have information to add, click on the ‘Whereabouts’ or ‘Date of Birth’ tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet and enter the information there.

See the attached picture to know where to go…

Of course, to edit the spreadsheet you have to have the right link, so here it is

Happy Scouting

For more on the Football Manager Scotland research, follow me on twitter @sgmilne


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