A Rental Lament

I miss Blockbuster Video.

Time was, you wanted to watch a movie, you went down your local Blockbuster, headed for the New Releases section, and saw if there was anything you wanted to watch? Oh, and you could be fairly certain that, if a movie was out on DVD, it’d be available to rent. Alas, no more.

I just spent ages trawling around the internet trying to find a number of movies to rent, all to no avail. Oh you could buy them alright, no doubt about that, but as for renting, forget about it!

And we’re not talking all new movies either. “Wrath of the Titans”, “White House Down”, “Avengers Assemble”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”; all are available to buy on Amazon Instant Video or iTunes, but not to rent.

I just don’t get it? Why would the studios restrict access to their product like that? It makes no sense. Do they think in desperation that I’m going to buy it instead? Because I just have to watch it NOW!

The thing is, I’m not so into these movies that I want to see them more than once. I mean I’ll pay £3:50 to give them a go, but I’m certainly not going to pay £5-£15 to own them. That’s just not gonna happen. I do want to watch them, but not that much.

No wonder people are turning to file sharing and illegal downloading to see and hear things they can’t get elsewhere. You set the price too high and people will always find a way around it.

Not that I’m going to do that. I’m too lazy. I’ll probably just watch something I already own (y’know, the good movies that do stand up to more than one viewing), or I’ll just stick the TV on and see what’s on. It’s coming up to 9 o’clock, something decent must be about to start.

As for my hard earned cash, that’ll stay in my pocket. Congratulations Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount; you just lost out on some revenue.

An all round update

Ok, so where is everything at the moment?

First off, I’ve decided not to do the food blog idea (for the moment). I mean I’m hardly keeping this one up to date, so if I started another one that’d just be two blogs I’m not doing. But I am still cooking and I am still posting recipes, so it’s not like I’ve moved away from the cooking idea completely. I’m just putting it on hold until I can give it my full attention.

ohmmm...

What I have been doing though, which is a bit unexpected, is meditating every day for over a week now. Ok, so ‘every day’ is a bit of an exaggeration (as is ‘meditating’ probably ;)), but I have managed to sit for eight out of the last nine days, which is still a win as far as I’m concerned. If I can keep this up I’ll be enlightened by the end of the year, lol.

The day I missed was all down to work. I’ve been meditating in the morning you see, after doing my yoga (I am still doing the yoga every day since I started, which is a good few months now!), but that day I had to get up at 5:30 to go to work, so there wasn’t time, and I just plain forgot to do it in the evening when I got home. Of course this only goes to underline the fact that I need a new job. Plus I’ve been reading Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, which quite simply states that if you believe your job is interfering with your spiritual development then you probably need a change in career. So that’s my main priority for the moment, finding something else to do for cash. I know what I’d like to do, which is write, but I’m also looking at other possibilities too.

That being said the writing is going well. I’m on the second round of rewrites on the script I finished before Christmas. Once that’s done I’ll give it to a friend to proof read, then I can go back to the book I started working on recently. I’ve also got a few other script ideas I’m playing with, so hopefully come the summer I’ll be ready to start chasing down agents and production deals. And no holding back this time. I’m not going to get bogged down with the ‘reality’ of what’s possible. I’m aiming for Hollywood, and ain’t nobody gonna stop me!

International Kiki Day

A couple of years ago I decided there weren’t enough bank holidays in September, as in any, so I invented one. Welcome, to International Kiki Day.

Celebrated on the 14th of September participants (namely me) are to take the day off from work and spend the entire day doing something interesting yet completely unconstructive. Previous years have seen me at the Greenwich Planetarium seeing a show, and spending the day in the Victorian Turkish Baths in Carlisle, as well as enjoying various vegan meals about the place and seeing a movie or two, and this year is no exception.

battle plans

We started at the Loving Hut in Camden, a UK version of the one I went to in Hong Kong. I was, I have to say, ludicrously excited about going there. If the food was as good as it had been in Hong Kong we were in for a treat.

burger and wedges

They didn’t disappoint. I went for the eco ‘beef style’ burger, as you can see (Sarah had the golden ‘chicken style’ burger), and we split a portion of wedges. They were fantastic! Seriously. I haven’t had a burger that tasted that… burgery, since going vegan. And the wedges were pretty damn good too.

free cake

We got chatting to the guy who runs the place and he very kindly gave us a couple bits of cake on the house to enjoy. One was a kind of lemony tofu cheesecake, and the other a chocolatey orange sponge cake. Both were divine, though at a push I’d go for the cheesecake.

the loving hut

The only drawback for me was the TV they had on in the background. Loving Hut do have their own satellite TV station promoting veganism, animal rights, and eco-friendliness, which is fine, except the whole time we were there they were showing an expose programme on factory farming methods. Not really the sort of thing you want to see while you’re eating. I mean, I’m vegan already, so what do you hope to achieve by showing me that apart from making me ill. They should accentuate the positive things about being vegan, and leave the scare-mongering up to the government.

secret society of vegans

Then we were off to a shop run by the Secret Society of Vegans in Kings Cross, simply called “Vx”. I’ve been meaning to go there for ages, and this seemed like the perfect time.

sarah the secret vegan

We were going to have tea and cake in their cosy downstairs lounge, but since we were all sponged out from our freebie at the Loving Hut we just went for the tea instead. That, and a wee bit of shopping. Check out the stuff I got.

vegan booty

If you get a chance I recommend you pop along. The staff were lovely and they had a great selection of vegan goodies to covet. I’ll be going back there that’s for sure.

scott pilgrim vs the world

And the final part of the day saw me at the movies to watch Scott Pilgrim vs The World. I thought I’d check it out since I was having a vegan day and it has a bit in it to do with vegans (but that’s all I’m saying on the matter, so don’t worry about any spoilers).

scott pilgrim avatar

This movie is an epic piece of daftness. Expect silliness and you will not be disappointed. Brought to you by Edgar Wright, the guy who directed Hot Fuzz, Shawn of the Dead, and the brilliant Spaced!, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is the story of a guy who has to battle his new girlfriend’s 7 evil ex’s video game style in order to go out with her.

The story doesn’t really matter, what you go for is the dialogue, the performances, and the epic battle scenes which were superbly done. Michael Cera is great as the lead, resisting the temptation to spend the whole film mumbling (which he has done in the past), but a lot of the really good stuff comes from Kieran Culkin as his gay roommate, and Ellen Wong as the ever so slightly imbalanced Knives Chau. In fact I think that’s what makes this film so good, the fact that all the characters are real, human, and eminently flawed, but all of them are likable in their own certain way (except the evil ones, who are just evil).

This film is a lot of fun, and I’ll be seeing it again, as I know there’s a lot I missed because I was looking the other way. Once again, another slice of fried gold from Mr Edgar Wright.

And there you have it, another successful International Kiki Day. It’s been a good one. Got the chance to do some stuff I’ve been wanting to do for a while, didn’t do a lick of proper work, yup today was a good day. Looking forward to next year already. 🙂

30 Days of Kiki : day 6

day 6- favorite super hero and why

This was a tough one. Should I go for heroes with powers, or very human heroes with skills? Is a costume required, or does just being in a comic book qualify you as a ‘hero’? In the end though, there could be only one…

Constanteen

photo by surprise truck

John Constantine, the original Hellblazer!

Sod the candy-assed Keanu Reeves excrescence that Hollywood foisted on us, the Constantine of the comic books is a beer-drinking, fag-smoking, ass-kicking scouser, who got into magic for giggles and shits (and the chicks), and who spends most his time getting into and out of trouble and pissing off the devil (all 3 of them).

constantine

I like him coz he doesn’t fuck around, especially if you go against him or hurt anyone close to him, and coz he fucks up all the time, like a normal human being, and that’s just the way it is.

constantine 2

At the end of the day who would you rather have a beer with, some bloke in red spandex underpants who’s not even from this planet, or a guy who’s gonna get the next round in and wouldn’t look daft with a pool cue in his hand? Pretty obvious really when you put it like that, eh?

Nice one JC, the first one’s on me.

Dirty Dancing/Roadhouse

“Nobody puts baby in the corner.”

That’s right, I said it! You heard me! Dirty Dancing. Not my usual fare I grant you (but then again, isn’t that the point of all this?) but I went to see it the other day at an open air cinema and it was brilliant! A tight movie, well scripted, well shot, well acted, and a whole lot of fun. And of course starring the darn sexy Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in two of their best roles ever.

I haven’t seen this film since I was 16 on a coach trip to Spain. They only had one video to watch, so we saw it twice on the way there and once on the way back. Almost enough to put me off for life. If it wasn’t the only thing on when I wanted to go check out an open air cinema I never would have seen it again… and I’d have missed out!

Swayze is brilliant as Johnny, the bad boy dancer getting pushed around by rich society and just trying to survive. Jennifer Grey is perfect as the innocent yet resolute Baby, a daddy’s girl just waiting to come out of her shell. And when they get together, his vulnerable toughness and her tough innocence, they play beautifully against each other. Probably one of the best performances either of them has ever done.

I can’t embed the video I’d like to here, but just click on this link to go see it. You’ll get an idea of how good it really is!

“You’re too stupid to have a good time!”

But, for those of you too blokey to watch Dirty Dancing I have another Swayze classic to recommend, Roadhouse! It’s a little known movie of his but man, he kicks some ass in this little beauty. Swayze plays Dalton, a ‘cooler’ brought in by the owner of the Double Deuce to sorts his bar out and make it the sort of place respectable folks want to go to have fun.

Sounds pretty naff huh? Well picture this: great tunes, great characters (except the baddy, he’s a bit pedestrian), great fight scenes, some great one-liners, there’s a bit of something for everyone in it, even the ladies (Swayze in a tight t-shirt for one).

In many ways it’s just a modern day cowboy movie. A stranger comes to town and sets about releasing it from the iron grip of one evil business man/rancher/plantation owner (delete where applicable). Hell, it’s even got Sam Elliott playing a guy called Wade Garrett for crying out loud (who is just brilliant by the way). Now it don’t get much more cowboy than that!

If you haven’t seen it give it a shot. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. Hell, maybe you could do a Swayze double bill! That way there’s something for everyone. There’s worse ways to spend an evening! 🙂

Addendum: I just want to say much love and respect to the late great Patrick Swayze. You made some great movies, played some iconic parts, and gave us so many outstanding memories to choose from. Thanks for all that. Rest In Peace man.

Flash Gordon/Highlander

A two for one deal for you this week. But why I hear you ask? Whatever could link these two 80s classics? Why their killer soundtracks by the unbeatable Queen, that’s what!

Both Flash Gordon and Highlander have their good and bad points – cheesy effects, brilliant one-liners (see clips below), some incredibly risible performances – but that’s all part of the fun. Neither film should be taken seriously. They’re Friday night popcorn at it’s best, and must be viewed as such.

Flash Gordon – Spaceships, mad scientists, pastel coloured midgets, ex-Blue Peter presenters, this film has it all! It’s silly in the extreme, but who cares, because it’s fun too. And it gave us one of the bestest baddies ever in the shape of Ming The Merciless, hammed up beautifully by Max Von Sydow. You can’t argue with that. And the role (and line) for which Brian Blessed would be forever remembered for, Vultan (“Ah well. Who wants to live for ever? ..hahahaha… DIVE!!!”). Brilliant!

Highlander – Who wants to live forever indeed? The eternal question (pun intended). Like Flash Gordon, so much of Highlander has found it’s way forever into the collective psyche. I mean who hasn’t thought how cool it would be to find out your were immortal! Less cool would be finding out there’s a bunch of people going round who want to chop your head off, but whatcha gonna do? This film has some truly bizarre moments, like having a Scotsman (Sean Connery) play a Spaniard whilst a Frenchman (Christopher Lambert) plays a Scotsman – both with dodgy accents respectively – but you can forgive all that for the joy of the pure idiocy of it all.

Both these films are brilliant and daft in equal measure, but what elevates them above the usual fare is their brilliant soundtracks by Queen.

To me, Queen were the masters of the movie soundtrack. They wrote their songs to enhance the movies, not just sell singles, producing pop scores really, not just a few nice tunes. Their music blends perfectly with what’s on screen, whilst at the same time standing out as a cut above the rest. I know that’s a bit of a contradiction, but you’ll just have to trust me on this. These guys knew what they were doing.

Who wants to live forever?

Flash! Ah ah…..

I couldn’t decide which film had the best soundtrack, that’s why I’ve recommended them both. And really you should watch them both, for the cheese-fest that they are. Neither will disappoint, and their soundtracks certainly won’t, I guarantee it!

District 13

Known in it’s original French as Banlieue 13, and not to be confused with alien movie District 9, District 13 is one of the most amazing films you will ever see. Not because of it’s storyline, characters, performances, or anything like that (which are actually a little on the silly side), but because it showcases superbly a little something called ‘parkour‘.

In England we know it more as ‘free running’ (though to the purist there’s actually a big difference between the two), and if you’ve seen it before it was probably on an ad for the BBC. This film also stars the star of that ad, and coincidentally the French guy who basically invented parkour, David Belle.

For those of you who’ve never heard of it parkour involves running through an urban landscape, getting from A to B in the most efficient way possible, be that through tiny gaps, across rooftops, from wall to wall, or whatever. Seeing it done professionally is jaw-dropping, and District 13 has some of the most jaw-dropping scenes I’ve seen. There’s no wires, no special effects, everything on screen these guys did, and that is sometimes unbelievable.

Want to see what I mean? Just check out the opening sequence.

Now how about that?! Amazing huh? If you want more go check out the film. It really is astounding. But if you just want to see a bit more free running check these guys out.

Nice to know someone’s keeping the British end up, eh? 😉