Friday, 29 February 2008

Middlesbizzle vs. Berkshizzle

"What da fuck was crackin’ on Wensdizzle, yo? Y’all got taken to triple overtime by some mark ass bustas who done dress in some luminous green shit? God damn. My mainest nigga Southgizzle needs to get a handle on his shit. Y’all be slippin’ lately."


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Middlesbizzle vs. Sheffizzle Bladez

"The craziest shit of all tho’ was handled by that lunatic French nigga Jerry A-la-di-da-di-da. Some Mexican motherfucker stepped to him and A-la-di-da-di-da col’ bitch slapped his ass. Shit, the brother had six million ways to react but he chose the bitch slap? Damn! My nigga Southgizzle needs to tell young’un to get his shit together and smash haters down wit’ a baseball bat or some shit. Y’all can’t have one of yo’ niggas bitch slapping motherfuckers, y’all gots a reputation to uphold."


Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Over The Bar

A new football satire site called OverTheBar has launched.

There's some pretty funny stuff about Sepp Blatter, but I think this story is my favourite so far...

"Tottenham’s Carling Cup hero Jonathan Woodgate has admitted that he was shocked by the post-match celebrations of some of his team mates.

Once the team had received the Cup, Robbie Keane poured an entire bottle of champagne over the head of coach Juande Ramos.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Woodgate admitted, “Most of us – Steed, Ledley, Dimitar and me - were just dancing around with scarves on our heads making the most of the moment.”

It was Woodgate who sealed victory for Spurs with an extra-time header, but he feels that the Spurs vice-captain may have gone too far.

“I looked over and Robbie was just pouring an entire bottle of champagne all over the gaffer. I really can’t believe what a waste that is. Does Robbie have any idea what champagne costs down in London? It’s a joke, really. I mean, you could buy a house in Middlesbrough for the same price."

Steve Pinhead-Nelson's stuff is top notch as well.


Friday, 22 February 2008

Liverpizzle vs. Middlesbizzle

Featuring an absolutely killer final line.

"Yo, I had to have some serious motherfuckin words with my nigga Gareth Southgizzle this week. He’s my mainest nigga for life, yo, but tieing wit some weak ass motherfuckers ain’t gon’ fly. My man needs to bust ass on his team, yo, and tell that Egyptian motherfucker to lose some weight. Wit a big fat ass like dat in dem gold shorts, the nigga looks like he’s auditioning to be one the bootylicious dancers in my next video."


Hey Jude

Monday, 18 February 2008

Red Eye comes back!

The format's changed - maybe it's not the same writer - and now there's only three of 'em, but it's still a funny piece.

Great that it's back after a two month sabbatical.


Sunday, 17 February 2008

Film Review: There Will Be Blood

Rarely do you see such towering ambition.

There Will Be Blood is a tour-de-force display in cinematic virtuosity by Paul Thomas Anderson; a deliberate stab at greatness that his lead character Daniel Plainview would be proud of.

A portrait of greed at the beginning the American century based loosely on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, There Will Be Blood is epic, at once, miniature and not far from being absolutely perfect.

Set against the backdrop of the Southern California oil boom of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, it tells a story of greed and envy of biblical proportions, reverberating with Old Testament fire and brimstone and New Testament evangelicalism.

In an almost wordless opening twenty minutes – the only sound we hear is Johnny Greenwood’s screeching score – we’re introduced to Daniel Plainview. Inside a deep, dark hole, he pickaxes the hard-packed soil like a bug gnawing through dirt. When he falls down the mine shaft and breaks his leg, he hauls himself back up to the top and starts all over again. If we loathe Plainview by the end, we certainly admire his pluck at the story’s beginning.

The large swath of the story takes place in 1911, by which point Plainview has become a successful oilman. Using his informally adopted son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) to give him a human mask – "I’m a family man" he proclaims to prospective leasers – he storms through California, sniffing out prospects and trying to persuade frenzied men and women to lease their land for drilling.

One day Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) arrives with news that oil is seeping out of the ground at his family’s ranch. The ranch is in the town of Little Boston, where oil forms puddles out among the cactus, scrub and human misery.

While Plainview sets up his derricks, he soothes the poor, isolated population with promises of schools, roads and water. His gospel is soon challenged by Paul Sunday’s brother Eli (also played by Dano). A charismatic preacher looking to build a new church, Eli slithers into the story. Eli’s only goal to extract money from Plainview to build his Church of the Third Revelation; forcing Plainview to pit his capitalistic force of nature against its Bible-thumping mirror image.

The clash between these titanic egos is the heart of the film and the picture Anderson paints is bleak. Both Plainview and Eli are corrupt, out primarily to consolidate their own power; both sell their snake-oil schemes with promises to better those who follow them; and both ultimately betray those who choose to believe in them.

After more than two hours of low-key tension and unease, the final scene gushes like the oil from one of Plainview’s wells. Driven mad by obsession and possession, and without any further need to charm or cajole, Plainview blows and bellows as he comes head-to-head with Eli one final time.

Comparisons with Citizen Kane are apt but slightly misleading; Plainview has no Rosebud. He regrets nothing. Misses nothing. Pities nothing. He’s a monster. Articulate and largely civilised, but coarse, animalistic and steeped in avarice. He hates all men, and therefore himself.

Brilliantly located at the precise juncture between cinematic realism and theatrical spectacle, Day-Lewis’s outsize performance is among the greatest in cinema history. Unlike its forerunner – Day-Lewis’s turn as Bill The Butcher in Gangs of New York – Plainview never strays from believability.

His voice, almost a character in its own right, is frank imitation of the late John Huston. The cadences, the pauses form an elaborate courtesy. With such considered enunciation, he can only be a liar.

Through a tangle of relationships, raging fires, geysers of oil and the inevitable blood, There Will Be Blood film excites, disturbs and provokes in equal measure. It’s nothing short of a work of art.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Film Review: No Country For Old Men

After the insincere Intolerable Cruelty and plain awful The Ladykillers, I can’t have been the only one who thought the decline of the Coen brothers was terminal.

Thankfully, No Country For Old Men unequivocally proves that not to be the case.

Ostensibly a cat-and-mouse chase that opens with Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) escaping his police escort and killing a passer-by, while trailer trash hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a pile of corpses, a stash of heroin and two-million dollars in the Texas desert, No Country For Old Men brilliantly juggles searing action, choking suspense with a plaintive tone as it chews on themes of sin and redemption, love and violence, and, most importantly, fate and free will.

As Chigurh, a psychopathic killer with a pneumatic airgun and a silenced shotgun, begins to hunt Moss down, we’re introduced to the third major character – the titular old man – craggy, scrupulous sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who, along with his inexperienced deputy (Deadwood’s Garret Dillahunt), always remains two steps behind.

With dolorous words and hooded eyes, Bell doesn’t so much set out to solve the crimes as attempt to understand the carnage surrounding him. Although undoubtedly a sharp investigator, Bell is totally unprepared for the relentless violence he sees, dejectedly trawling from one messy cadaver to the next and admitting, in the film’s opening monologue, “the crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure.”

But don’t confuse the plot with the meaning. No Country For Old Men is about far more than an old man coming to terms with his retirement. It’s about the unpredictable, unfair and arbitrary nature of our lives.

We briefly meet hotshot bounty hunter Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson). Wells tracks Llewelyn down in a matter of hours and just as it appears the dynamic of the hunt is about to change, Chigurh gets the drop on him and unapologetically removes him from the story as quickly as he was introduced.

Chigurh is utterly prepared to let fate account for his actions, going as far as committing murder purely on the result of a flip of a quarter. In one of the film’s outstanding scenes, Chigurh calmly asks a friendly gas station owner, “What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”

At the other end of the same spectrum is Bell. Like Chigurh, Bell is happy to resign himself to fate. Towards the film’s conclusion, a teary-eyed Bell enters a motel room knowing, or at least suspecting, that he is to be killed by Chigurh. Though Chigurh is hiding behind a doorway, shotgun at the ready, he doesn’t reveal himself and Bell survives.

Elsewhere, Moss and his wife Clara (Kelly Macdonald) both choose to fight against fate. Moss by attempting to turn the tables on Chigurh, and Clara by refusing to participate in the coin toss routine. In doing so, they both choose death. And that’s the film’s biggest tragedy: that those who surrender themselves to fate live on, while those who fight against it die.

You can choose to view No Country For Old Men as a superior thriller in the mould of Fargo or Blood Simple, but it’s a far more potent work than that. It’s a masterful meditation on the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of man; a delicious story about the capriciousness of fate; and just about as good a piece of fatalist cinema as you will ever see.

Tinned cheesburger

To prepare this mouth-watering delicacy, simply boil the tin in a pan of water for 10 minutes.

Et voila.

Should you wish to buy one, you can do so here.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Unhelpful police sketch

Have you seen this man?

He's wanted for robbing the Government Savings Bank in Bangkok.

According to a report on a Thai news site, the sketch is based on the recollections of eyewitnesses, who say the suspect wore a motorcycle helmet at the time of the robbery.

Link to the full story

Monday, 4 February 2008

Film Review: Cloverfield

J.J. Abrams sure likes to make a fuss. Over a year after the tantalisingly sparse trailers debuted and having left us attempting to piece together its mystery from phoney news reports, soft drink adverts and blurred photos, the film formerly known as 01-18-08 has finally arrived.

Lesser films would be left embarrassed and flailing after such a hulking viral campaign. Not Cloverfield. This is an intimate perspective of disaster on an impossibly grand scale that succeeds at nearly everything it attempts.

We learn all we need to know inside the first fifteen minutes. The recording we’re watching was found on the site “formerly known as Central Park” and, at first, shows Rob and his secret love Beth spending an April day together.

From there, we skip forward a month and watch a group of hipsters with great hair and better music taste host a bon voyage party for Rob, who is leaving to start a new job in Japan. Here, control of the camera is passed to Rob’s best friend, the hapless but likeable Hud, who becomes our eyes for the next hour. We’re introduced to Rob’s brother Jason, Jason’s girlfriend Lily, and Marlena, whom Hud fancies. Beth and Rob fight and she leaves the party.

Shortly after, Manhattan starts to go to fuck. Deafening primal roars are heard, an oil tanker is capsized, skyscrapers are levelled and the head of the Statue of Liberty smashes into a midtown street.

Our protagonists start to leave Manhattan but Rob gets a message from Beth telling him she’s in trouble and needs his help. So the gang head back into the path of the beast to rescue her.

And that’s the story.

But it’s enough for Cloverfield to state its modus operandi beyond doubt: this is about characters, not catastrophe. And while it’s tempting to criticise the motivation of our admittedly shallow heroes, the message is clear and, actually, quite sweet: when the world turns to shit, you instantly think about the people you love.

Abrams, screenwriter Drew Goddard and director Matt Reeves clearly understand that the thrill is in the tease of monster, but Cloverfield goes further. Knowing that it’s hard to stretch mystery if you keep explaining it, not only do we rarely get a good look at the creature, it’s given no background, no name, no personality and no pathos. In this monster film, the monster itself is a bit player.

It’s easy to snipe at film-making this bold. Maybe the footage is too slick to appear authentic, maybe the characters are too lucid, maybe they don’t swear enough and it’s almost implausible that not a single person would compare the events to 9/11. Yes, it’s unlikely that the camera would survive, that the battery would last, that Rob’s mobile would work in the subway, and an SD card would almost certainly never scramble the previous recording like the footage we watch does. But, really, who cares? There’s a colossal monster that is destroying New York and you are going to have to suspend your disbelief.

Besides, there are more than enough trademark Abrams subtleties and omissions to generate a great degree of verisimilitude. What is Cloverfield? What falls into the ocean in the film’s final scene? What are we told is alive during the radio transmission that follows the closing credits, the people or the monster? Perhaps some of these questions will be answered by the inevitable sequel, but I wouldn’t count on it.

When it comes to giving the audience everything but telling them nothing, Abrams is the master. Cloverfield is his masterpiece.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Simply Red phone in

I'll be on the Simply Red phone in with Alastair Brownlee and Bernie Slaven tomorrow morning, chatting with them about the upcoming Newcastle v Boro game, Afonso Alves and any other nonsense that comes to our minds.

We'll be on just after midday. You can listen to Century at 100.7 FM, or on the Century website.


Friday, 1 February 2008

Hen lays green eggs (no ham)

A Mexican hen named Rabanita has become quite an attraction in the village of Cuautitlan since she started laying green eggs last month. Apparently the hen, owned by Elvira Romero, eats a regular diet.

From the Associated Press:

"Scientists believe that shell colour - which does not affect the colour or flavour of the yolk or white - is determined by the genes, and say blue or green shells are frequently found in the Araucana chicken strain.

Green egg layers attract a premium in some parts of South America, where poultry breeders aim to produce chickens, which lay nothing else."

Link to the full story

Frozen Grand Central

The latest stunt from Improv Everywhere was their most ambitious yet. 207 pranksters stood still in the world's largest train station for five minutes.