Monday, 26 January 2009

Deja vu?

Oh Andy. How could you? For the first time in my life I truly believed that it was possible for a Brit to win a Grand Slam title. Much as I loved dear Tim, I was probably deluding myself all those years that I insisted he could win one. Although had Goran Ivanisevic's appointment with destiny not intervened, I still maintain the Wimbledon trophy would have had Tim Henman's name engraved on it in 2001. Although I suspect Pat Rafter might think differently.

Back to the present woe. Out in the 4th round of the Aussie Open to an inspired Spaniard. Deeply disappointing. But we must not get too despondent. Murray didn't become a bad player overnight. He is still supremely talented and probably several years off his peak. Maybe he's just saving it for Wimbledon...

Saturday, 24 January 2009

An ode to Downey

Readers, I ask you to stand with me and salute the greatness of Robert Downey Jr.

A few years ago I was ready to throttle the man for ruining Ally McBeal's chance of true happiness and forcing the rest of us to endure Jon Bon Jovi as the love interest in the final series of the really quite barking mad TV lawyer show. He played Ally's soulmate, Larry Paul, in series 4 and a simply brilliant combination of actor and script created one of the funniest and wittiest small screen characters of recent years. Then Downey screwed it all up by falling back into the drug problems that had plagued him earlier on in his career. Bye bye Larry, hello dull as ditch water Jovi man, so bland that even the name of his character eludes me.

But credit to Jr. He sorted himself out and these days is at the top of his game.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang? Brilliant.

Goodnight, and Good Luck? Top notch.

Zodiac? Excellent.

Iron Man? Joyous.

The icing on the cake? An Oscar nomination this week for his role in Tropic Thunder. Now I haven't seen the aforementioned film and I don't actually intend to. Despite being a card carrying member of the Robert Downey Jr fan club, I have no desire to see the Ben Stiller war movie spoof. I'm sure that its core demographic find it hilarious but it's just not my cup of Earl Grey. Nevertheless I can still appreciate the Academy's sense of humour in giving Downey's Kirk Lazarus a nod. Never mind that it's in the category of Best Supporting Actor where Heath Ledger is a shoo-in for the statue, credit to the stuffed shirts for recognising a comedic role. RDJ won't (and shouldn't) get it this time round but if he keeps up his current run of form in both blockbuster and indie roles then surely it won't be long before a little gold man turns up on his doorstep.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Here I go again...

I watched Mamma Mia yesterday. I'd somehow managed to avoid it up until that point. I can't say that I was greatly looking forward to the ordeal, but my mum received it as a birthday present and the chances of Dad watching it with her were slim to none so I stepped up to the plate!

It's important for you to know that in theory I should be one of Mamma Mia's biggest fans. I'm a musicals freak. Mary Poppins; Moulin Rouge; Evita; Hairspray; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; My Fair Lady; I love them all. I maintain that the world would be a much greyer place if people weren't able to randomly burst into song whenever the feeling takes them.

I also love Abba. Rarely has there been a group or band responsible for so many impossibly catchy hit songs. I'll Abba karaoke it up with the best of them!

So why my dread of Mamma Mia? I can't quite put my finger on it, but its huge popularity amongst middle-aged women made me faintly uneasy and the trailer certainly didn't help matters. Don't ask me how they did it but somehow they made an Abba loving musicals fan shudder at the merest mention of their film. Quite a skill.

But after all that I still sat down and watched it with my dear old mum. And yes, it is awful. Hideous. Terrible. A crime against cinema. And yet...

It's funny. Not necessarily always in the way that it intends to be. But by and large the cast and crew seem to be in on the joke. Pierce Brosnan can't sing to save his life and Colin Firth isn't much better but that just makes the whole endeavour all the more hilarious. It's utterly silly and allows people to be silly whilst they watch it. I'm convinced that's why that multitude of middle-aged women flocked to see it again and again. It's the very definition of escapism.

So kudos to the makers. They have triumphed with a product unworthy to even sit on steps outside the pantheon of great musicals and yet glorious in it's own ridiculous way.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Doctor New

I was not amused on Saturday to discover that the BBC were doing a big unveiling of the new Doctor. Perhaps I'm just old-fashioned but I'd liked to have found out the Time Lord's new identity when Tennant regenerated. I suppose it would have been impossible for it to have been kept a secret for that amount of time, but it's still a bit strange for everyone to be talking about a Doctor that we won't see on screen for almost a year.

Grumbling aside I am optimistic about Mr Matt Smith. For a start, credit to him for sticking with one of the least exciting names in the history of naming.

He may be young (26 apparently) but Tennant always seemed a great deal younger than his 37 years - I think Cliff Richard must have let my dear David in on the secret of seemingly eternal youth!

Most encouraging of all is the fact that I'd already had my beady eye on Smith. Anyone who caught the Beeb's Ruby in the Smoke or The Shadow in the North should have singled him out for potential greatness. He played a character full of charm, quirkiness and charisma - it may as well have been his Doctor Who calling card.

So thumbs up to the BBC. For now. I'm still worried about the rumours surrounding the casting of the new companion. Lily Allen? Please no. The producers should have the guts to cast another relative unknown. The programme has enough of a following these days, the Beeb mustn't cave in to the commercial demands of a 'name' or 'face'.

Oh and the new Doc's hair? The jury's out.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Hello 2009!

I am a bad blogger. It's been weeks, nay months since last you heard from me. I apologise profusely and declare that my New Year's resolution shall be to be less of neglectful of my little piece of the internetty-webby-world.

A year ago I made a few predictions. Let's see how I fared shall we?

Well I think we can all safely agree that Leona Lewis did indeed conquer the US charts in 2008. Both Bleeding Love and her debut album Spirit went to No 1. Points to me. And her obviously.

Andy Murray went one better than I predicted. I said he'd be in a Grand Slam semi-final. He got to the final of the US Open. He may have run out of puff when he came up against Federer in that match but Murray's got to be a pretty good bet for a full on Grand Slam title this year.

Team GBs Olympic golds came from sailing, cycling and... ok, not equestrianism, but two out of three ain't bad. I can safely admit that I never would have predicted the eventual swimming success though.

No new leader for the Lib Dems. Maybe this year? When I say Vince, you say Cable! VINCE! "CABLE!"

Re: the popularity of the TV channel Dave. Strangely enough I don't have easy access to recent audience share figures. Even more strangely, I don't intend to spend hours trawling the net to find such statistics for you. Can you survive? I do hope so.

Sadly my predictions seem to be getting a little less accurate as we go along. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came in 2nd in the global box office stakes, over $200 million behind The Dark Knight. I'm pleased I was wrong in backing the well-hatted one. The Dark Knight is a fantastic piece of film-making. Indy was fun but flawed.

And so we come to my final prediction. 12 months ago I was convinced that "both David Tennant and Jonny Wilkinson will become single, fall in love with your favourite blogger (that's me, right?) and fight some sort of contest (the format of which has yet to be decided) in order to win her affections."

Ho hum. Maybe next year?

Danny who?