Monday, 31 December 2007

Film Review: I Am Legend

Watching I Am Legend made me consider this: if I was the last man on Earth, Will Smith would be dead.

This thought proved only a brief distraction before I remembered that I’d dropped seven quid to watch an infinitely inferior re-telling of Richard Matheson’s iconic novel.

Not that I should’ve expected much. Writer/producer Akiva Goldsman was responsible for clunkers like Batman & Robin, The Da Vinci Code and Lost In Space, and director Francis Lawrence’s best work includes the videos for Avril Lavigne’s Sk8ter Boi and Britney’s I Am Slave 4 U.

While it’s a bit of a stretch to believe Big Willie Style as a top-ranking solider, a world-renowned scientist AND the only person in New York immune to the virus, Smith is much better than might be expected. In fact, the first half of the film is utterly enjoyable. Smith portrays Robert Neville perfectly: as a desperately lonely man driven to the edge of madness by his inability to accept his fate.

It’s Neville’s strict routine – as seen in the trailers – that is the only thing keeping him from going totally bonkers. When that routine is broken – in one of the movie’s stand-out scenes – his mind finally unravels and he is revealed as the frightened and hateful character from Matheson’s novel.

It’s in the third act, when Big Willie is joined by City Of God’s Alice Braga that the film collapses in a sickly puddle of saccharine moralising and cloying theology; Smith riffs on Bob Marley’s desire to heal humanity via rhythms and lyrics, the mutants – loud, hairless, mucousy CGI abominations that wouldn’t look out of place in a Berlin techno club – become annoyingly visible, while the messianic overtures around Neville build to uncomfortable levels.

Product placement opportunities aside – the last man on Earth would only ever drive cars made by Ford, apparently – it’s hard to see the point of remaking I Am Legend. The 1964 Vincent Price version of the film is vastly superior and actually delivers on the crux of the novel: that man becomes monster.

If they’d replaced the dog with Carlton Banks, and Alice Braga and her son with Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil, it would’ve been a great movie.

But they didn’t, so it’s not.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Bikes with serious soundsystems

The New York Times just ran a piece on dudes who put sick speaker systems on their bikes.


Thursday, 27 December 2007

Empty teacup ride

This makes me so sad.

Kid trained to give evil eye

Thursday, 20 December 2007

The best albums of 2007

25. Alasdair Roberts - The Amber Gatherers
Alasdair Roberts may have started using electronic instruments but he's not allowing anything remotely modern to permeate his music. Traditional and, indeed, anachronistic, The Amber Gatherers is the album of the year in 1822.

Best track – I Had A Kiss Of The King's Hand

24. Dan Deacon – Spiderman Of The Rings
Dan Deacon's silliness might alienate many, but Spiderman Of The Rings is a joyous, happy and fearless album.

Best track – Snake Mistakes

23. Radiohead – In Rainbows
It broke more ground commercially than it did musically, but In Rainbows was still another wonderful album from Radiohead. Gentler, prettier and, dare I say, happier than ever, Radiohead sound more relaxed than they ever have on In Rainbows.

Best track - Reckoner

22. Bill Callahan - Woke On A Whaleheart
Having ditched the Smog and (smog) monikers, Callahan no longer feels as enigmatic. The dispassionate delivery is still there but Woke On A Whaleheart snatches at the same painful honesty we haven't seen from him since The Doctor Came At Dawn.

Best track - Sycamore

21. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
While it's a bit too wilfully pretentious to be the triumph many think it is, Sound Of Silver is a rowdy and touching consolidation of dance and rock.

Best track – All My Friends

20. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Good news for people who loved Good News For People Who Love Bad News, Isaac Brock and his band didn't break new ground but they improved on the dancey guitar pop of their 2004 highlight.

Best track - Dashboard

19. Jay-Z – American Gangster
Yeah, so Jigga's retirement didn't last that long after all. His comeback LP was a soul-saturated rap experience that recalled his first Blueprint album. Time will tell if it's a one-off or whether American Gangster marks the start of the second-half of Jay-Z's career.

Best track – Ignorant Shit

18. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
An extraordinary record that laughs and dances in the face of it's actually pretty depressing subject matter.

Best track - Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse

17. Jeffrey Lewis – 12 Crass Songs
Jeff Lewis covering Crass actually make sense. His witty anti-folk tunes have consistently masked a blunt wit and angry idealism that Crass would be proud of. Played with Lewis' upbeat melodies, many of Crass' songs are unrecognisable from the originals. It's fun but thought-provoking stuff.

Best track – I Ain't Thick

16. Dinosaur Jr – Beyond
An ass-kicking return from J Mascis and Lou Barlow that both recaptures their previous brilliance and succeeds on its own fuzzed-out merits.

Best track – Almost Ready

15. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
A highly danceable and bewilderingly confident debut that captures the unbridled excess of hipster parties better than most.

Best track - Kids

14. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
There's nothing that quite matches the spiritual stomp of Funeral but Neon Bible is another unflaggingly passionate and ambitious album from one of the world's great bands.

Best track – Keep The Car Running

13. Grinderman – Grinderman
If every track had been as good as the first two, it would've been the album of the year at a canter. Nevertheless, Grinderman marked a scorching and raw return to Nick Cave's fire and brimstone roots.

Best track – No Pussy Blues

12. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
Just as brash and noisy as the rest of the catalogue and just over-indulgent enough, Jack and Meg have made the most peculiar and beguiling record of their decade-long careers.

Best track – Catch Hell Blues

11. Wu-Tang Clan – 8 Diagrams
Ghostface and Raekwon are wrong. 8 Diagrams is sprawling, dense, deranged and the most interesting album the Wu-Tang Clan have made. It's not quite their best but it's certainly not to be dismissed as the work of a hip hop hippie either.

Best track – Rushing Elephants

10. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Just like his work with Animal Collective, Noah Lennox's third solo album is simultaneously poppy and abstract. As warm and trippy as anything he's ever recorded with his band.

Best track – Take Pills

9. M.I.A. – Kala
Another genuinely thrilling album from M.I.A. that lifts samples from artists as diverse as Jonathan Richman and Wreckx-N-Effect. Even more daring and adventurous than the outstanding Arular, Kala is a quite brilliant cross-cultural jam.

Best track – Paper Planes

8. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
Or how Animal Collective finally added catchy pop to their love of the abstract. Strawberry Jam is easily their greatest album and one of the highlights of the year.

Best track - Chores

7. The Field – From Here We Go Sublime
So this is what it would've sounded like if Ride recorded a minimal techno record. From Here We Go Sublime is a truly idyllic record that will surely light up the life of all but the most miserable bastard.

Best track - Everday

6. Justice – †
Funky, rough-edged and over-driven in all the right places, Justice's debut is an absolutely killer party record. One of the most perfectly sequenced dance records you'll ever hear. The world is theirs for the taking.

Best track – Genesis

5. Battles – Mirrored
Not just to be admired by chin-stroking prog fans but a genuine answer to the question of where modern music has to go next. And it's absolutely fucking bananas to boot.

Best track - Atlas

4. Pekos / Yoro Diallo – Pekos / Yoro Diallo
Recorded to cassette on the streets of a Bougouni market, Pekos and Yoro Diallo are two Malian musicians who made one of the most hypnotic, joyful and beautiful albums of the year. I beg you all, give this album a chance.

Best track – Untitled 1

3. The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour
John Sampson is one of the few songwriters capable of making me feel sad and happy at the same time with the same lyrics. He's also proved on Reunion Tour that he's one of the great observers of human behaviour.

Best track – Reunion Tour

2. The National – Boxer
The National followed 2005's masterpiece Alligator with another truly monumental record. Like its predecessor, Boxer is restrained, grounded but totally self-assured. After just one listen you can't help but wonder why all bands can't sound like this.

Best track – Slow Show

1. Les Savy Fav – Let's Stay Friends
After a six-year hiatus from recording, Les Savy Fav have finally made an album to match the frenetic energy of their live shows. Stratospheric rock nestles alongside furious post-hardcore and tight rhythms back Tim Harrington's loose lyrics. Startling and propulsive, Let's Stay Friends is absolute proof positive that nobody rocks the party like these dudes.

Best track – Patty Lee

Friday, 14 December 2007

Derby County vs Middlesbrough: Tale of the Tape

"The one question mark over the win over Arsenal was the substitution - his second in as many games - of Jonathan Woodgate. He didn't look altogether happy on Sunday and, to be fair, he'd had his best game of the season.

This has led know-nothings like TotT to wonder whether Mr Gareth is merely bringing Huuuuuttthhhh back to fitness slowly by giving our injury-prone vice-captain a breather, or whether something more sinister is afoot.

By the time the next Tale of the Tape appears sometime in January, you may have received your answer, and Claude Davis may have received the Optimus Prime voice changer he put on his Christmas list."


Derbyshizzle Rams vs. Middlesbizzle

After a no-show last week, I feared this may have died off, but Snoop's back this week with another Previzzle.

"Shit, I just seen the coach of the other team is called Paul Jewell, but that fat motherfucker ain’t got no bling. My main nigga Southgizzle might rock sweater vests, but he’s like Magic Don Juan compared to this chubby motherfucker. Middlesbrough gonna tear off these motherfuckers like the world class wreckin’ crew, three points to one."


Thursday, 13 December 2007 Man of the Year Awards 2007 part II have just unveiled their 2007 Man of the Year.

Pretty interesting and totally deserved choice, I think.


Wednesday, 12 December 2007

German downs 2 litres of vodka at airport

New rules about how much liquid you can carry on to a plane are a nuisance, but a German man found them especially frustrating.

"The incident occurred at the Nuremberg airport on Tuesday, where the 64-year-old man was switching planes on his way home to Dresden from a holiday in Egypt. New airport rules prohibit passengers from carrying larger quantities of liquid onto planes, and he was told at a security check he would have to either throw out the bottle of vodka or pay a fee to have his carry-on bag checked as cargo. Instead, he chugged the bottle down — and was quickly unable to stand or otherwise function, police said."


Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Spend 46 minutes eating a Big Mac and get fined

McDonald's have been registration plate cameras in their drive-thru car parks to see how long people eat for.

If you spend longer than 45 minutes guzzling your Big Mac, a fine is sent to you house automatically, charging for £125 (25-ish meals at Maccie Ds) and if you don't pay, the just keeps rising.

"One motorist, Jamie Thomson, told the Guardian of his experience at a McDonald's near Gatwick: "I ordered a burger, chips, a doughnut, coke and coffee. I sat in my car eating my lunch, and listening to the radio. After eating, I continued to sip my coffee for a time, and ate my doughnut. Then I left. All perfectly normal." He says he was in his car for about an hour.

Several weeks later, he received a letter from Civil Enforcement demanding £125, or £75 if the charge was paid quickly. At first Thomson, a businessman from Sussex, did not even realise that he was being charged for spending too long at McDonald's, as the notice gave only a partial address."

Link Man of the Year Awards 2007

The Man of the Year Awards have just been published. Well, the first half anyway.

After last year's Massimo Maccarone shoo-in, this year's winner will be a bigger surprise.

The second half will go up later this week.


Friday, 7 December 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen, RIP

Avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has died aged 79.

He influenced everyone from The Beatles to Sonic Youth. The world of music is a poorer place for his passing.

Link to the Guardian's obituary

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Chad "Pimp C" Butler dies aged 33

Pimp C - one half of Texan rap group UGK - has been found dead at the Hollywood Inn aged 33.

It is unclear at the moment how Butler died but, coming just three days after UGK performed with Too Short at the House of Blues in LA, it does seem incredibly suspicious.

Track down this year's Int'l Player's Anthem (I Choose You) to understand why this is such a loss to hip hop.

Obituary on

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Electric eel powers Christmas tree

An electric eel at the Squa Toto Gifu aquarium in Japan is powering the lights on a Christmas tree.

When the eel brushes up against a copper electrode in the tank, the current is conducted to the Christmas tree lights.

Full story here

Monday, 3 December 2007

Lee can leave - What Do You Think?

Obviously I'm saddened by this news. He's obviously a bit shit, but it must be incredibly hard for a player to move to a foreign area with little or no understanding of the language or culture.

I'll miss the lug.

I suspect Red Eye's panel will miss their go-to guy as well.