Best xmas advert

Tommy Cooper
The legacy lives on... with LEGO

I don’t want much television these days, certainly not much “live” stuff preferring to download and watch later, but I have seen the following advert a couple of times. I recognised it as soon as I saw it from sometime many, many years ago. It’s for LEGO and features the voice of the sadly-missed Tommy Cooper.

It’s actually the second old advert I’ve seen being rejuvenated. There’s one with John Cleese for a watch company. That one, though, is wrapped with some up-to-date footage and quotes. The LEGO one is simply the original advert, unaltered.

Except for the prices at the end.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2nL5sSSvd0

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Why I use torrents instead of iPlayer

BBC iPlayer
Great... but not perfect

I watch a fair bit of stuff off the BBC these days, yet I still find myself using torrents to download programmes rather than using the BBC iPlayer. I don’t have a TV so the internet is the only convenient way for me to catch up.

But why do I use torrents rather than streaming or downloading from the BBC directly? Some of the reasons are a little picky, I admit. Others genuinely bother me or could be something the Beeb could work on. In the meantime, though, despite the fact I can often download faster from Auntie, I’ll stick to slower torrents.

I’d like to point out, though, that I watch the programmes once then delete them – usually within the same time-frame given for iPlayer downloads.

  • Torrents are generally smaller downloads. An hour’s programming is typically 730Mb compared to iPlayer’s 850Mb or so. This does mount up if you’re on a limited, throttled or capped ISP account.
  • iPlayer playback can still be stuttery on my laptop and netbook. It’s particularly bad under Linux. No such issues with AVI files taken from torrents. GOM and VLC play them easily enough.
  • I can download or convert AVI files for viewing on a PSP. This means really small downloads if I get them direct and portable viewing once I have them.
  • iPlayer won’t work for me when I’m abroad even though I’m resident in the UK. This is very annoying though I do understand the BBC’s reasoning for the restriction.
  • Some programs on iPlayer are only available for streaming, such as Match of the Day. Again, I appreciate the licensing restrictions being placed on them by the Premier League, but that doesn’t help when I want to watch it at another time. After all, I could record it on video, DVD or hard drive direct from the TV to watch any time I felt like it.
  • There’s only so much stuff you can get on iPlayer until it vanishes over time. I like to watch series all in one shot, not week by week. With some series this is possible (series catch-up), but with others it isn’t. Some series just disappear completely. I managed to catch three episodes of Casualty 1909 then went abroad. I couldn’t get the last three on iPlayer when I got home.
  • I run dual OS’s on my laptops and also run two machines. I’d like to be able to d/l on one machine and still watch on the other – but I can’t due to the DRM. I have managed to d/l on one OS and watch on the other on the same machine, though.

Again, please don’t get me wrong. I think iPlayer’s great. It’s just a little too limited for my personal needs right now.

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Cinema Sunday – just 2 films

Nowhere Boy
Nowhere Boy

The day after Boxing Day meant Sunday parking rates (i.e. free) so I headed into Glasgow to catch two films:

Nowhere Boy

A John Lennon bio-pic starring Aaron Johnson as the central character. Pretty much the whole world will know who Lennon was (he did claim to be more famous than Jesus at one point), but how much do you know about his childhood?

Plot-in-a-nutshell: a young lad with an adopted family in Liverpool starts to discover a lot more about his genealogical past – and a taste for rock and roll.

There are two major things that you’d expect from a Lennon bio-pic which are missing – music and any mention of The Beatles. In fact, two other members of the Beatles are also introduced as the film goes on, but their surnames are never used. The focus is well and truly on young John.

Going by the Wikipedia article, the film sticks closely to some form of documented reality but does differ compared to other details. Having said that, I suppose there will be many differing versions of events at the time.

This is most definitely not a film about The Beatles. To a huge extent it’s not even about music – John only gets his first banjo lesson about halfway through. If you want a movie about music then you’d be better off with the older Backbeat movie (or Still Crazy, which I love).

Nowhere Boy is a kitchen sink drama. A tale about growing up in Liverpool in the 1950’s, not being good at school and with a collection of forgotten memoirs buried at the back of the family cupboard. It’s also very well acted and scripted, though interest does slip partway through before picking up again.

Not what I was expecting, but interesting nonetheless.

holmes
Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

From an adaptation of a “true” story, on to an adaptation of a fictional character. There has been outcry over the version of Holmes being introduced by Guy Ritchie for this movie. So how “bad” was it?

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Private detective and pit-fighter (I kid you not) Holmes gears up for one final case as witty, charismatic action buddy (again, no kidding) Dr Watson attempts to retire from the crime-fighting business.

First up, this is a marginally silly film. It’s got a great sense of humour, some cracking action sequences, wonderful chemistry between the leads, clever direction and absolutely beautiful sets and scenery. However… some of these departures, mainly from the characters featured in the Conan Doyle works, will understandably jar with hard core fans.

From a regular film fan’s point of view, I feel, it won’t matter. Robert Downey Jr is a very “cool” Holmes, though stands shorter than Jude Law‘s Dr Watson and is never seen wearing a deerstalker. Or smoking a large-bowled bendy-stemmed pipe. He does play a good version of Holmes, though. Quick-witted, often condescending, full of himself and so forth.

Dr Watson is where the problem lies for me, having read the books. The character from the stories was never much of an action man, partly due to a leg injury sustained in Afghanistan. Despite the limp he carried with him in the film, Law’s character has no problem bounding and leaping about. Generally in the written works, Watson is more of a biographer who sometimes follows Holmes around. Rarely is he as involved as the sidekick in this movie.

The thing is, ditch the “Holmes and Watson” tag (and the Adler one – she’s out of character, too) and wallow in the film as a standalone feature… and it’s pretty good. Ritchie has been let loose with a staggering budget as can be seen from the set pieces. I loved the backgrounds – even though they did look somewhat CGI – in particular the part-complete Tower Bridge (which the two chattering bints behind me decided after arguing was London Bridge).

If you liked Downey Jr in Iron Man (yay, sequel next year!) then you’ll have an idea of his Holmes. If you’ve seen earlier Ritchie films then you’ll expect the slow-mo scenes and the way certain segments are played through… and then rewound or fast-forwarded to explain them. A nice touch and not over-used.

It is a tad over-long, but it’s good Christmas fodder when there’s not a Bond film around. Closer to Lethal Weapon than canon Doyle (hey, that was clever…) but worth a watch.

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Bah, humbug!

pound sign £
The true meaning of Christmas - these days anyway

Just so you know you’re at the right blog, my traditional Christmas greeting to you all.

Best wishes to everyone out there. I hope you all get the chance to be with your respective families and enjoy a relaxing day off from the rest of the world. Eat well, drink well and watch a ton of crap telly.

My personal aims today are to watch Little Cuz destroy 3 sapient pearwood‘s worth of wrapping paper, see both my grannies, have a decent bit of scran at my aunt’s and ensure I get to see Dr Who and the last episode of James May‘s Toy Stories.

Don’t forget – Christmas is for children. They’re the single best thing about it. So if you don’t have any to hand, just act like one. With luck, nobody will notice.

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St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold

Scented poo
A real stinker

This won’t be so much as a review as a warning. Don’t, for the sake of anything you deem holy, waste your money on St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Who cares? Really? I don’t.

I gave this film a chance and it bit me on the nads. The cast are awful. The girls aren’t even hot. The script’s pants. Even the make-up is rubbish – you can see that some of the younger girls have blacked-out, rather than missing, teeth.

The whole thing simply stinks.

Whereas ex-Dr Who Christopher Ecclestone was awful in the otherwise entertaining G.I Joe, soon-to-be-ex-Dr Who David Tennant is one of the few saving graces… no. The only saving grace in this otherwise atrocious waste of celluloid.

When the “funniest” moment in a film is Colin Firth‘s leg being humped by a small dog, you know a film doesn’t have a hope in Hell. Especially when the exact same joke (I believe) was used in the first film.

Utter, utter, utter, utter, utter crap.

St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold

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