Sunday, July 22, 2007

Staying with Grandma & Grandad

hey everyone

well, in a new record for us, James went away for 2 (two!!!) nights at Grandma & Grandad whilst Michele was away on some sort of business trip thingie. it looks like all three of them had fun!!

staying with Grandma & Grandad gives James the freedom to do things that Mummy & Daddy won't let him do. like, for instance, climb up the steps on the slide into the swimming pool!

and you are allowed to go and stand just as close as you want to the television set whilst you watch Finding Nemo once again!

and of course you can persuade Grandad to push you around and around in the wheelbarrow!!

as i said, it looks like everyone had fun!!

James is back home with us, so after 48 hours of not seeing Finding Nemo, you can guess what we have seen all weekend!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!

the last proper James Bond film

i really don't want to enter the debate about who the best actor to play James Bond ever was or ever will be, but i will, until the last star falls from the sky, argue the case for my all time favourite 007 film, A View To A Kill

released well over 20 years ago this one remains, in my mind, the best effort made with a Bond film. it had a wonderful performance by Roger Moore, in respect of the fact that he was still an interesting character, an amazing support line-up in the form of Christopher Walken and Grace Jones, and was still a James Bond that imagined the future. no it didn't? oh yes it did?

computers, or rather control over who created the microprocessors for the world, was at the heart of this film. at the time microprocessors and computers were little more than toys, used mostly for fun and the most basic of tasks. as a consequence, on release A View To A Kill didn't really seem to have all that much of a demanding bad guy - who cared who controlled the creation of the bits that made Donkey Kong work properly?

now, of course, the idea of one person being in that situation is a good deal more of a daunting prospect - we have one Bill Gates controlling how we all get them to work, would we really want another one controlling the creation of what it is that makes it work??

Another awesome aspect of A View To A Kill is the fantastic theme song by Duran Duran. forget the nostalgia over Goldfinger or the "it's a Beatle doing it" praise for Live And Let Die, A View To a Kill has the greatest ever James Bond theme. some, and i can't believe it is this old, 22 years later, it is still a fresh, exciting and quality song to have blasting through your stereo.

The glamour, the techonology, the music, the locations, the performances, the plot - add them all up and you get for me the best James Bond film, and even if you disagree with that, then you at least get the last great one. it all seems to have gone wrong not long after.

Where did it go wrong? Well, Timothy Dalton was a great choice, but he was not helped at all by the makers. i am not sure if A View To a Kill in the end exhausted all good ideas left, as The Living Daylights was pointless - to this day i still have no idea what it was supposed to be about, except that it had a decent theme song. Dalton's final performance, Licence To Kill, was a deeply dark and violent Bond film, a good idea but sadly released at a time when the world was trying to avoid onscreen violence - Stallone was in Oscar and Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot whereas Schwarzenegger was messing around with Kindergarden Cop or whatever it was called at the time.

considering just how inept and woefully miscast Pierce Brosnan was in the part of James Bond, it is a miracle that GoldenEye is an almost watchable film. The rest of Brosnan's work as Bond, particularly the lame, dull and quite frankly waste of time that is Die Another Day, made it very hard to understand why anyone would want to make or watch another James Bond film.

granted, there is light at the end of the tunnel - not a lot of light, but Daniel Craig in the "restart Bond" film Casino Royale wasn't bad - a masterpiece compared to the Brosnan era but, it has to be said, still the magic has long since gone, last seen in 1985.

be excellent to each other!!!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

ten years already?

when, give or take, ten years ago i was presented with (ahem) a copy of the film Boogie Nights, i was little more than mildly curious about it. a film about the 'adult entertainment industry', starring a number of (then) unknowns and being led by a boy-band reject and Burt Reynolds, once again attempting to restart his career.

i started to watch it on a bored, lazy Sunday afternoon, having nothing better to do. it was approximatley 40 - 50 minutes in that i clocked that what i was watching was nothing short of an important piece of cinema; something not far short of being declared a masterpiece. Boogie Nights, now celebrating 10 years of age this year, is one of, if not the, most important works of art to be produced in the last decade of the 20th Century.

why such high praise? a wide range of reasons, each difficult to qualify but all combined to give the answer, i suppose.

up front, the non-exploitative, non-cheap and non-something which it is not presentation of the business each of the characters is involved with. The adult entertainment industry is neither glorified or vilified through the film, it is presented as it is, with an appropriate level of respect and objectivity.

another masterstroke is the casting. Mark Wahlberg as the lead actor in a 3 hour epic? the then relatively unknown John C Reilly and William H Macy in support? Heather who? Julianne who? Who or what is a Don Cheadle? and Burt Reynolds in another "comeback film?

it must have been a pretty hard sell to get some sort of budget to have that crowd in a film, and rumours abound about Burt Reynolds being somewhat reluctant to be in the film anyway, trying to get out of it as soon as he was in it. The performances are flawless, with each and every one delivering some of their finest work. Underlining the folly and flaws with how Oscars work, only Burt got nominated, and i still don't understand how he did not win.

following on from the fine performances is, perhaps obviously, the characterisations. it is astonishing how such a vast range of characters are developed, evolved and presented in this film, even allowing for the fact that the director had some three hours to do it in. each and every character arc is developed in full, with each tale being given the perfect, satisfactory conclusion.

if, for whatever reason, you have never seen Boogie Nights, then take my word for it and see it. in the mean time, i can't believe that ten years have gone by, and it has been ten years without a film to challenge the status of this one.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Seed And The Sower

here we go with some more pics of James having fun at Grandma and Grandad!! here he is with his tricycle thingie! much like with the wheelbarrow and brick walls, James does tend to get slightly annoyed that he can't quite just go through objects like walls, bags of sand and so on, but learning that is all part of growing up.

and here we are "helping" Grandad plant some new flowers in the garden to help make it look pretty.

i am not at all sure that kicking the plants or stamping on them is the way to go with a successful flower arrangement, but then again i am no expert!!

not a great deal else to report otherwise! for a change, Finding Nemo is on the TV as i sit and type this. James asks for "Mimo" instead of "Nemo", unless he is trying to tell us that he wants something in particular for dinner...........

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!

Construction Time Again


sorry to any Depeche Mode fans who hit this site on the basis of the title!!

here's a few more pics of James helping Grandad with the ever ambitious (and successful) building work going on at Grandma and Grandad's house. first up is wheelbarrow time - as you may recall from an earlier post, James likes riding in one, but pushing it can on occasions be fun too!

showing off what a big strong boy he is, James likes going off with the wheelbarrow full, too. in fact, he would seem to think that an empty wheelbarrow is cheating. he is OK with it, but as you can see here, every now and then gets upset that he is not an X-man, as he seems unable to go straight through a wall with it

and here's a shot of him testing the patience of new magnificent new fence, there to protect James, Lyla and all other children from getting a bit too interested in the pond or the pool.

the fencing, for now, looks more or less James proof, but when he is of a mind to do so i am sure he will work a way around it - it's not like much can stop him!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!

Recovery / D-Fens

hi everyone

well, Michele and i are just about recovered from what everyone else has called "date night", but we just saw as a rare instance of time alone! James went to stay with Grandma and Grandad on Friday, so we went out to dinner, went to a pub, got to go to sleep at about 4am..................!!

i won't go into the specifics, but we indeed did have a magnificent time. if that makes it a date night, so be it i guess.

i was sent off at about 10am for Michele's top recovery meal, which would be a double cheeseburger from Wimpy. i managed to go along and collect my new glasses too! that's what the D-Fens reference is for. no pictures of me in them yet (i am in not state to be pictured), but if you want a hint beyond D-Fens,

i doubt i am going to look that good in them, but i feel that they are rather smart!!

otherwise, over the past week or so, we have discovered the magic of the film Finding Nemo. James just wants to watch it again and again - 3 times whilst at Grandma and Grandad's, and i think we have watched it another 4 times since he came home yesterday. we are trying to encourage him to accept that there are other films out there - there was some brief success with The Jungle Book this morning at least!!

otherwise, be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Straight Outta Auckland


well, before i get any more hints, or outright demanding emails, eminating from New Zealand, here are two excellent picture of Katie and Daniel that were issued by Gillian and Grant not, ahem, too long ago :

they really are a delightful pair, and full credit to the parents, as they seem to get on very well with each other indeed!!

let's see how Katie reacts when her "new doll" Daniel starts walking around and tackling all her stuff!!

splendid!! thank you for the pics!! if Telkom were not so greedy, we would be able to afford broadband and see you on the webcam!!

right, i am off to sit with my head in my hands and worry about my ever mounting dental and optician bills. oh dear..............

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!

James Wrapped Up

hey there

well, it is still very much winter here, as you will be able to see from these pics!!

it's not always easy to get images of James these days - he is rarely still enough for the camera, no matter how good the camera is! oh well, here is the best i can do!

here's James and the Gee Gee, and a rare glimpse of his beloved Mama. Mama does not like being in pictures, which is a shame as she is beautiful and still very much the centre of James's and my world. aaah.

and here we are with James on what is, ostensibly, his own chair. he does tend to use it more as a climbing device, or just as something to dive on, but every now and then he manages to just sit on it. if not for very long

and here we are with a snap of him watching something before he got annoyed with me taking pictures and started throwing things at me. what was he watching? take your pick from Yo Ho Ahoy, Balamorym Teletubbies or Big Cook Little Cook. although, and believe me i now know this film backwards, Finding Nemo has been his favourite of late. every night for the past four or five days.

i will do all that i can to get more pics of him in the near future!!!

meanwhile, for the casual visitor or friend, i am now on this business, under the creative name of Lee Ricketts

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!

Behold! If...........

OK, this is a shot of the rare, obscure and impossible to find VHS release of If...., but it was the only one i could find. i promise you, i now have this on DVD!!

not cheap either - US$35 is probably the most i have paid for a single film DVD, but there you go. there was no way i was not going to obtain this one.

erm, if you have no idea what all the fuss is about, it's not all that easy to help you understand. all too often films have been hailed as a "landmark", or if you will in this case "revolutionary". those terms are meant for films like this one.

broadly, If.... is the tale of an armed revolution within a private school, or public school as such institutions are confusingly known as in the UK. but that doesn't tell the story of it. the film works on a vast scale of potential references and interpretations, and is a beautifully crafted work of art. it is "cinematic poetry" to quote the makers.

the extras are somewhat limited but of a high quality indeed. if you, like me, have been desperate for a decent copy of If.... for years, then do not hesitate at the price - buy this now. if you have a serious interest in proper cinema, be brave and give it a try.

be excellent to each other, or, in the spirit of this post,

one man can change the world with a carefully placed bullet.............

Friday, July 06, 2007

Taking A Break

hey everyone

well, i hope you can see the updates! at verk it seems i can update the site, but for some reason i can't see the updated page! go figure!!

anyway, some more pics from James helping out Grandad with some garden work. here they are taking a well deserved break. James loves juice, especially when he can drink it from a glass instead of one of his beakers!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

James and the Garden Project

hey everyone

James's Grandparents are having a rather good go at making the garden at their house James proof. a brave effort, and it looks magnificent.

James is helping along - here he is as a hod carrier!

and here he is enjoying a new mode of transport. i must say, James is using the wheelbarrow in a way i would!!

nice one!! as i am sure you can gather from the dresscode in the pics, we are still having a bitter, cold winter here in Johannesburg!!

be excellent to each other!!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

GRINDHOUSE : don't fall for the hype.....

hey everyone

well, three teeth have left my jaw. i am still feeling somewhat fragile, but not too sore. no tooth fairy has visited me yet, but i did watch Red Dragon again last week. it's almost the same thing, i guess.

i get very limited time to watch movies these days, so i try and choose what i watch carefully. i made a bad choice, alas, with Grindhouse. as it has Rodriguez and Tarantino attached to it, no doubt the film is immediatley seen as "cool" and a "masterpiece". don't be tricked, these two seem to have been exposed as having run out of ideas, alarmingly so.

people will try to claim "oh, if you didn't like it, you didn't understand what it was trying to parody or pay homage to.". well, i do, as it happens, and it still is not very good.

OK, let's try and take this thing apart bit by bit.....but a warning, as it may contain some spoilers, although there is not exactly a great deal to spoil.

Planet Terror : this is Mr Rodriguez's contribution, and easily the best of the two films. which is scary, as it is by no means good. the film amounts to a timid "tribute" to a variety of Dead films, be they Evil, Night/Dawn/Day or Living in variety, and a few tips of the hat to the beloved Zombi 2. small town is subjected to some sort of chemical exposure, people become zombies, eat people, hard to kill, blah blah blah.

it is dull, slow moving (a very impressive accomplishment for all of 80 minutes) and unimaginative when something happens. the deliberate "missing reel" in this film is a blessing, as it allows you to move on to some sort of action. i could imagine a bunch of teenagers who have never seen any "video nasties" in their time would get excited by the effects, but that's about it.

two notes on the casting, Mr Rodriguez : 1. Bruce Willis in a "surprise" cameo is no longer a surprise, especially when you have him on the poster. Bruce is kind of expected to feature in films like this. 2. Quentin Tarantino is a chum of yours. that should not, however, have forced you to cast him in your film, but now that he is in it, maybe you should have mentioned to him that just shouting a lot is not what one would call "acting", even in an attempted B-Grade send up.

The Mock Trailers : these are the only reason you should look at this film, or just get these trailers off the interweb net somewhere. they are the best aspect of this whole project. Machete is the film you wish you were watching instead of this, the Werewolf Women Of The SS or whatever it is called looks like what Grindhouse should have been about, and Thanksgiving is as close as we are ever going to get to the idea that maybe Eli Roth can actually make a proper film.

Death Proof : this is the biggest crime committed by Grindhouse, and easily exposes the lack of talent and ability Quentin Tarantino is blessed with. it brings me no joy to say that, but i will qualify the comment later.

Death Proof should be one of the coolest films ever. you have Kurt Russell in a potentially iconic role as Stuntman Mike, and you have him driving around in a killer car. what a pity Tarantino opted not to utilise or play to the strengths of this.

the film is an awful lot of very annoying women sitting around talking. and i do mean annoying. once again Tarantino illustrates that he cannot write any sort of character part for a female, instead delivering large chunks of third & fourth rate dialogue that seems to be some self-loathing tribute to the opening of Reservoir Dogs.

you really want these awful female characters off your screen. they do all go eventually, via the Stuntman Mike character, but it takes forever to get to the bit when they go, and even then it is far from worthwhile. this is down to the fact that, and this must have taken more effort that to do it properly, Stuntman Mike is a bland and boring character.

Kurt Russell is barely in the film, and when he does turn up a large amount of his time is wasted in the same banal conversations as the female characters. why go to all that effort to create a cool sounding character, get an ace cult actor to play him and then deliver this rubbish?

apparently, they wish to cut Grindhouse into two films because people have been walking out half way through, not knowing that it is in fact two films. as stupid as the average American is, i find this hard to believe. i would wager that people are walking out knowing exactly why they are - they have had enough of this rubbish dressed up as if it were something impressive.

the saddest part of this is the final demise of the reputation of Quentin Tarantino. how far he has fallen. Reservoir Dogs was a masterpiece, we even forgave that it was no more than a convoluted combined remake of Kubrick's The Killing and The Taking Of Phelam 1-2-3. how on earth he conned the world with Pulp Fiction is still beyond me. every single character was one dimensional, and almost identical. go watch it again, tell me how Uma Thurman is a different character from John Travolta or anyone else! everyone spoke and acted in exactly the same way.

it seems that when a film has to involve a female character or lead, Tarantino has no idea what to do. this was highlighted by the fact that Natural Born Killers and True Romance, once given to other directors to rework somewhat dramatically, were masterpieces of cinema, whereas Jackie Brown and Kill Bll, left in the hands of Tarantino, were a qualified mess.

Tarantino is a good ideas man, and nothing more. he should either just hand over his projects to people that know what to do with them, or he should at the least get some help with his script developments. if Grindhouse is the direction he is taking his writing & film-making in, i would prefer he abandoned cinema all together and just stuck with arguing about names with Spike Lee in a restaurant for the rest of his life.

proceed with caution, then, if you are all excited about seeing Grindhouse. the only possible way it could have been worse is if Jack Black has appeared in it.

other than that,

be excellent to each other...................