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Watched this one on Sky the other day and I'm still undecided as to whether or not I liked it or not. I thought perhaps writing an opinion on it might help so here goes. Very Bad Things is set around the stag night and wedding of Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) and Laura Garrety (Cameron Diaz). Kyle goes to Vegas with 4 buddies for his stag night and things go very wrong. One of his friends accidentally kills the stripper while getting jiggy with her in the bathroom. Christian Slater's character takes charge and they decide to dispose of the body in the desert and clean up the evidence. But then a hotel security guy turns up and finds the body so Slater kills him as well. They bury the bodies but the guilt starts getting to them and one by one they start killing each other. Even Cameron Diaz gets in on the action at the end. Why I wasn't sure about this film is that I'm not entirely sure what type of film it's supposed to be. It could be a black comedy as some of the things which happen could be seen as humorous. But again I wasn't convinced it was supposed to be humorous and I doubt if most people would find it funny. I'm not sure what that says about my sense of humour but there you go. The good points about Very Bad Things are Christian Slater and a storyline that keeps you guessing all the way. Slater plays the controlling character in the group who no one really likes but his performance is very good. The last film I wrote about, EdTV, was the complete opposite to Very Bad Things. After half an hour you knew exactly what was going to happen. With Very Bad Things you've no idea what direction the film's going in next. Diaz is very underused in her role as the bride who wants the perfect wedding and will do anything to get it. She goes missing for a big chunk of the film in the middle and I'm very surprised to see one of Hollywood's biggest actresses taking a role like this. So, do I like the film? Well yes and no. It's not really what I expected but if you're after watching something different this could well be you're cup of tea.
Soccer AM is one of Sky's best and most underrated shows. Every Saturday morning between 8 and 12 Hell's Bells and Tim Lovejoy entertain and delight with a football equivalent of Live & Kicking. They stick to a standard format which works really well with items such as Feed the Goat, the Fans of the Week, the 5 Minute Phone-In and so on. They have guests on the show as well, not just footballers but actors, musicians, basically anyone well known who's a football fan. My only problem is that I only ever get to see the last hour or so of the show as I'm not really a morning person! Especially at the weekend. If you like football, have Sky and have a sense of humour then you should be watching Soccer AM.
Well, it's only taken a couple of years but finally someone's one the big one. However the question I ask is, is it a coincidence that it happened on the show which was being broadcast at exactly the same time as One Foot In The Grave's final show or did ITV plan it that way. The most cynical of you (and that includes me!) will think ITV either waited to broadcast this show so that it coincided with one of the Beeb's biggest shows of the year or they made sure someone won a million on this particular show. Controversial? Me? Never! I will be very interested to see if ITV's dirty tactics (allegedly!) worked when the viewing figures are released. I guess it shows just how desperate ITV are getting seeing as they are losing viewers hand over fist to BBC and satellite TV. I guess I should write a bit about the show as well. In general a very original show and makes for enjoyable viewing but please, Chris Tarrant, just take their first answer and tell them whether or not they've got it right. Non of this "is that your final answer?" The first few times it was funny and built the tension but now it's just annoying.
I accidentally saw an episode of The Weakest Link a couple of weeks ago and was really shocked at what I saw. The show itself is quite a good concept but the way they've implemented it is down right awful. For those who haven't seen it Anne Robinson presents the quiz. There are about 6 or 7 contestants who start and after each round of questions they vote out who they think is the weakest link. It's kind of a team game but also kind of an individual game as well. Confused? Let me explain. If they answer a question correctly then there's a meter which goes up to the next level in terms of money. The jumps get bigger and bigger but if they answer a question incorrectly they drop back to zero. At any time the contestant who's about to answer a question can 'bank' whatever they are currently on and this is what they actually get. So there's an extra level of strategy there, deciding on whether to risk losing the money they've earned by getting a question wrong or risking not banking it as a right answer will be worth more. They are trying to work as a team in that the money banked doesn't belong to the person who banks it but to the team. However, the only person to actually win any money is the last person left after everyone else has been voted out. This as a concept is pretty good and a neat twist on the usual gameshow format. The only problem though is with Anne Robinson and the way she presents it. She's down right rude to the contestants. On the show I watched there was one guy who she picked on all through the show. She also questions some of them as to why they voted someone as being the weakest link which makes it very awkward for that person to openly criticise their fellow contestants to their faces. I would love to see Anne Robinson as one of the contestants and see how she likes being badgered like she does. Avoid this one at all costs.
The FA Cup is back for another year. Described by most as the greatest competition in the footballing world, mainly due to it's long and distinguished history. Last season people were going a bit over the top, saying it was being devalued because Man United weren't competing. What a load of rubbish! The main problem with the FA Cup last year was moving the dates around. The third round where all the big boys join the competition is always on the first weekend of the new year. But for some reason last season they moved it to before Xmas. We had also been spoilt a bit the previous season with the Arsenal Man U semi-final games. It'll be a long time before that game is matched for sheer drama and tension. This season everything is back to normal, well almost. The third round is back where it belongs, all teams are entering the competition but Wembley is no more. This is going to have a big effect on the competition. The FA Cup for some teams is all about reaching Wembley and the whole occasion of the Final. This year the final is being played at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. No disrespect to the Millenium Stadium but it won't be the same. Still it's probably better than playing it at a league ground. Oh and did anyone see that OG by a non-league player at the weekend. Can't remember his name but they were taking the mick out of him on Match of the Day. Laugh, I nearly fell off the coach!
The Euro is fast becoming a bit of a joke. The European Union is constantly having to support it against other stronger currencies. It's gained a fairly bad reputation since coming into being and Britain I think was wise to steer clear for now. Many countries in Europe like Belgium, Germany, France etc. are really trying to pull Europe together into a single entity but I think they're wasting their time. There are some many diverse cultures in Europe that finding any sort of commonality is very difficult. In an ideal world it'd be great if Europe became almost like the USA with each country being a state with it's own laws, taxes and so on but with a common currency and so on. That would give us a chance to compete on an more even footing with the States. However it'll never happen. This is why I think the Euro won't succeed. Countries have an indentity and their currency is part of that. While joining the Euro will help some industries it will probably in turn hurt others. Most things like this will help one group and hinder another. I say, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
So we've had a bit of bad weather here recently. I apologise to anyone who's been affected by the flooding and so on but so what? A bit of heavy rain and all of a sudden we need to have big debates about the weather and climate change. Yes we might be partly responsible for these events but lets look at what the earth has been through in the past few billion years, ice ages, continents moving, disappearing under the ocean etc. A bit of rain is a drop in the ocean (if you'll pardon the pun) compared to what has happened before. We like to think we are more in control of our lives than ever before with all the technology we've invented over the last 100 years or so. We can now fly, go into space, go to the depths of the ocean but the one thing we can't do and probably will never be able to do is control Mother Nature. The other side to the coin is that hopefully, these concerns over the climate might help us to wake up and stop taking the planet for granted. It's like a house, as long as you look after it and maintain it then it will serve you well. Abuse it and over time it will fall apart. Only 10 years or so ago we were all very concerned about 'green' issues. Remember the whole CFC thing and the ozone layer? Recycling was the in thing back then. Now, people seemed to have forgotten about it. Unless it's a big issue then people won't bother. The same could be said about famine and issues in third world countries. After Live Aid and all Bob Geldof's campaigning in the 80's it was headline news. Now you never hear anything mentioned about it. I don't believe it's because the problem has gone away, just that it's not headline news anymore. So back to the weather, I don't believe we should get carried away with the current bad weather but some good will hopefully come of it.
These days we like to label people/things/groups. Not just in the music industry but in other walks of life. You only have to pick up a tabloid and you'll see people pigeon holed. That's why the likes of Britney, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson are always compared because they're all teenage American girls then their music must be exactly the same. Boybands and girlbands get the same sort of thing. If you're a group of 3 or more guys who aren't bad looking then you're a boyband, full stop. I don't think girlbands get the same sort of thing. You don't hear the Spice Girls being called a girlband. When it comes to their music, they also get harshly treated in my opinion. If you don't play an instrument then you are labelled as having no talent. In the music industry, singing is the main talent. Writing and playing instruments is not as important a talent as singing is. You can't deny these guys can sing otherwise they wouldn't be where they are now. They also get labelled as being 'manufactured' bands. So what? What's the difference if a management company audition people for a band to put it together or if 4 mates decide to form a band? None in my opinion. The only thing I would criticise boybands for is appealing to much towards the teenage girl market. They are the main reason that boybands are so successful. They'd get a lot more respect if they tried to appeal to a wider audience.
One of the things I always remember fondly from childhood Christmas's is getting the Xmas edition of the Radio Times and finding out which Christmas specials and movies were being shown. These of course were in the days before Sky and DVD. Nowadays, Christmas TV is not one of the main things I look forward to about Christmas. Partly because the movies will have already been on Sky a year or two before or I'll have bought it on DVD and partly because the quality of TV these days isn't as good as it was during previous years. Shows like Only Fools and Horses and Blackadder made for great Xmas specials worth getting excited about. These days I prefer American shows like Friends, Buffy, Angel, Frasier etc. to the current crop of British shows. Don't get me wrong, there are some good shows around but I don't think we'll be watching re-runs of them in 10 years time. We as a family tend to gather round the TV on Christmas evening and it's usually one of the best feelings of the year. Everyone's relaxed and fairly well stuffed with Christmas dinner and cake. We break out the chocolates and settle down in front of the TV. Don't get me wrong, we don't just sit there starring at the box not saying a word to each other. TV can bring people together and spark off conversation. That's really what Christmas TV is about for me, bringing people together.
I personally have no major problems with the TV license. I pay £32 a month for all my Sky channels and about £8 a month for the TV license. My main problem with the TV license is that unlike say Sky's subscription, you don't get a choice in what you pay for. For example if you never watched BBC1 or BBC2 why should you pay for a license which pays for these channels? The TV license also goes to pay for BBC's radio channels. People who listen to the radio don't have to pay any sort of license fee so why should TV viewers pay for these radio channels? I remember a guy a while ago had his TV modified so that he couldn't receive the BBC channels, only ITV and Channel 4. He then refused to pay his TV license but lost a court case when the TV licensing people took him to court. Now that in my opinion is totally unfair. So even if you only have a TV to say watch videos and DVD's and don't even have a TV aerial you still have to pay your TV license. Ridiculous!! It's about time things changed and the BBC started some sort of fairer subscription scheme whereby if you want the BBC channels then you pay for them. If you don't then you don't pay. Also people who haven't yet made the change to digital are subsidising BBC's digital channels which they cannot receive. Come on Beeb, let's sort out a fairer system.
I've had an idea for a while now of how to get transfer fees back under control. Either the FA, UEFA, FIFA or probably all football associations should put some sort of panel in place consisting of former players who have not been out of the game too long. When two clubs agree on a transfer, this panel should then decide what the player is worth. This will help prevent clubs holding other clubs to ransom for a player they really want and it should stop clubs from preventing players moving clubs by putting a ridiculous price tag on them. It should also help prevent clubs from getting into too much financial trouble by paying over the odds for players who really aren't worth it. This system has it's flaws. For example if the FA have a panel and the Italian FA have a panel and Liverpool want to sign a player from Lazio say, who decides the price, the English FA or the Italian? I would suggest that the 2 panels get together and decide between them. Also clubs probably won't be able to agree on a transfer without knowing how much they will get for a player. Maybe the panel needs to decide on the player's value before the clubs agree. I certainly think something needs to be done to get the transfer system under control. The complete abolition of transfer fees which I think the EU are trying to introduce is not the answer because it means more money for the players which then leaves the game. At least transfer fees keep the money in the game. It will also kill off lots of lower division clubs who survive by bringing on young players and then selling them to bigger clubs. When you look at a transfer like Figo for £37.5m, to put it into perspective, I don't think most football clubs in the Premiership are worth that much. Something has to be done.
For me there will always be 2 moments in Wembley history which will stand out. The first is the greatest sporting moment to take place at Wembley which was the 1966 World Cup Final. Yes I know it's an obvious choice but in sporting terms it doesn't get much bigger than the World Cup Final. On top of that it was one of the most, if no the most dramatic final ever. And of course most importantly England won and beat the Germans. It doesn't get much better than that does it? I'm only 25 so wasn't around in 1966, hell I wasn't even a glint in my parents eyes yet but I've seen the match on TV many times and of course the most famous goal in Wembley's history, Geoff Hurst's hat-trick goal. I would love to have been around during the World Cup in '66. If the atmosphere around the country was anything like it was during Euro 96 then it must have been amazing. My other choice is Live Aid in 1985. It's very rare that the whole world joins together in something like they did for Live Aid. Much of the credit has to go to Bob Geldof for organising it and getting his fellow pop stars together for such a good cause. If you take the concert on it's own it has to be considered the greatest ever musical event. To get so many of the biggest pop stars of the time together to perform in front of an audience which filled Wembley, both the pitch and stands plus millions if not billions of viewers all over the world. But add to that the fact that they were doing it for a great cause not just to further line their own pockets. It goes to show what we as a human race can do if we put our minds to it. I doubt if we ever see another event like Live Aid which unites the world in the same way.
I can remember watching a programme a year or so ago which was about mobile phone safety. This was before the current concerns had been raised. They had a guy on the programme who drove for a living, a delivery guy or lorry driver, I forget. He used his work mobile quite a bit during the day for work. He developed a tumour on the side of his head that he used to hold his mobile. At first this shocked me a bit as I had been using a mobile for work for a year or so. But the programme didn't take their case any further, this was all the evidence they had. Then I thought, well how many people get brain tumours? Quite a few and I bet they don't all use mobile phones. So it could have been just unlucky in this guy's case that he got a tumour and it was 50/50 as to which side of his head he got it on. Since a year or so ago there have been various studies into the safety of mobiles and more recently the safety of hands-free kits. They all seem to say different things. So what I've drawn out of them is basically, as long as you don't use your phone too much then you'll be fine. With the millions of people all around the world using them if they were so damaging to your health then people would suffering the world over. It's like a lot of things, moderate use won't cause you any problems. Take alcohol for example. A small amount has bee found to be good for you, a moderate amount won't do you any harm, heavy drinking will more than likely cause you problems. Mobile phone usage I think is very similar. The vast majority of us have them for emergency use or just so people can get hold of us wherever we are. Mobiles have now become a part of everyday life, like the Internet, and are here to stay whether they're 100% safe or not. Smoking has been categorically proven to kill you yet millions still smoke. People have got so used to their mobiles that I don't think they will give them up whether they're pro ven to be safe or not. At the moment the jury is most definitely out of mobile safety but the confusion hasn't stopped people from using them and I don't believe any further findings will change this.
A lot of what has happened over the past couple of years is down to human nature and has happened before. There have been various revolutions over the years and the online version is following a similar path, just over shorter timescales. Whenever a new 'thing' comes along everyone gets over excited about it and thinks it's better than it is. While the Internet is going to change our lives, hopefully for the better, it's not as big as people make out. This is why online companies like QXL.com and Freeserve did so well when they first floated. People thought that these companies were going to make a fortune simply because they were a well known name on the net and they were in there first. The normal thing to do when investing in the stock market is to do plenty of research into a company, look at their figures etc. But when it came to investing in dot com companies people seemed to forget this and just thought that if they got in early then they'd make a killing. Initially this was the case but it didn't take too long for people to realise that there are very few if any dot coms who make any money and most business plans predict they won't be in profit for a good few years yet. But what really burst the bubble in this country at least was the Lastminute.com floatation. This one made headline news as it was about 20 times oversubscribed and the price soon started to plummet after trading began. All the other dot coms followed this sharp downward trend and some companies who were planning to float delayed until the market recovered. This has definitely not been a crash but just a case of people waking up a realising that making money in the online world is just as difficult as in the real world and having a well known web site doesn't guarantee riches. You still need good management, a sound business plan and plenty of financial backing to get off the ground. I personally think the FTSE 100 w ill be made up of around 10-20% dot com companies within the next 5 years or so but these will be the companies who haven't got carried away with the online revolution and have stuck to tried and tested business methods.
Men In Black is an excellent film in it's own right and I'm looking forward to the sequel. But as a DVD it has helped push back the boundaries as far as extras go. First the film. Will Smith is turning out to be a superb actor. While his films might not be particularly high brow they are usually big blockbusters, which are my favourite type of film. You only have to look at his credits now, Independence Day, Bad Boys, Men In Black, Wild Wild West (which I've not seen yet but heard it wasn't that good) and Enemy of the State. He makes films look good and adds his own type of humour to them. Tommy Lee Jones is an excellent foil for him as Agent K. The film combines action, sci-fi and comedy along with some superb special effects which add to the film rather than detract from it. Back to the DVD. Firstly, it's a 2 disc set, one of the first region 2 films to come out as a 2 disc set. You get both an anamorphic widescreen version and a 4:3 version which is something I wish more of the film studios would do. Sound's in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is very effective. I'm not going to list all the extras here but suffice it to say that they are plentiful. A few of the extras which stand out though are the scene editing workshop which allow you to piece together various shots to make your own version of a scene, the character animation studies which uses the angle feature of DVD's and the visual commentary with Barry Sonnenfield and Tommy Lee Jones. You really feel with the extras that a lot of effort has been put into making this DVD. It's not just a load of interviews, behind the scenes footage and trailers stuck on a disc but a lot of original stuff created specially for the DVD. The menus also deserve special mention. They're animated and are based around the Men In Black HQ and look superb. If you have a DVD player this is one DVD which should be in your collection if for no other reason than to show what the format is really capable of.