Tag Archives: Hollywood

Ghostbusters (Film Review)

I’ve been slacking a bit with this blog, which is a bit stupid really, especially considering the last post made it look like I was committed to film reviews and stuff. So, here’s a new film review, two months on. I nearly saw Now You See Me 2 instead, but I’m glad I didn’t.

A Sony Pictures Film, Directed by Paul Feig

Released: 15th July 2016

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey

Review: People have hated the reboot of Ghostbusters since it was announced. They’ve claimed that Paul Feig has ruined their childhoods and are horrified by the fact that they would make the new Ghostbusters… women?!

In fact, these people are so aghast at this, that if you looked at the rating for Ghostbusters on IMDb on Thursday, before the film had even come out in the USA, it was ranking about 4/10. At the time of writing this, it’s at a 5.1.

Ghostbusters3But that rating, like the opinion of all those internet trolls who are having a hissy fit because they can’t stand the thought of women starring in a remake of a classic film, is ridiculous.

Because this film is pretty damn good.

Ghostbusters see’s Professor Erin Gilbert (Wiig) forced to reunite with her estranged friend Abby Yates (McCarthy) when someone confronts her about a book they once wrote on the paranormal. Enlisted as a pair of ‘ghost experts’, they, along with Jillian Holtzman (McKinnon) and subway-worker Patty Tolan (Jones) begin confronting paranormal break-outs across New York City as the Ghostbusters.

Basically, it is another Ghostbusters origin story, but with enough changed to warrant it being it’s own film. The characters are all new creations brought to life by a fantastic cast. Because that is the true gem of this movie; it’s cast.

Ghostbuster2The beautifully varied Wiig brings a more straight-laced performance than usual as she comes head-to-head with McCarthy’s hopeful Yates. Kate McKinnon meanwhile, is basically playing herself, but that’s not a problem, because she’s pretty darn funny. So much so, that her Holtzman and Jones’ Patty Tolan are perhaps the most enjoyable Ghostbusters to watch, something I think Feig realised when he was deciding which Ghostbuster he’d give a ‘badass takes on loads of villains at once’ sequence. You know the sorts of thing I’m talking about. They’re in like, every ensemble action movie.

Which, I suppose brings us onto a fault of the movie. Although it is an original cast of characters and it does it’s own thing, the basic premise isn’t wholly new; there’s conflict between our heroes, they’re united against a common threat, they save the day and are celebrated by the City. We’ve seen it before.

Ghostbusters1Another issue is with the villain. From the moment he was on screen, I enjoyed actor Neil Casey, but it gets to a point where he gets sidetracked in favour of Chris Hemsworth, who is doing his best to try out his comedy chops in this film.

But it does eventually come round full-circle, culminating in a final-confrontation that I wasn’t expecting and thought was quite a clever riff on the finale of the original film.

Furthermore, the reason those issues aren’t really that big’a deal are because the humour and spirit enthused in the film throughout by it’s cast and crew mean that you don’t really care that the story isn’t all that original, because it’s the characters that are giving you that much craved originality.

(The film also ranks highly in my estimations for having enjoyable credits; not like ‘I have to stay because there’s a little extra at the end; the actual credits are enjoyable)


Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Film & TV


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Cowboys and Cameramen, Part 4: From Brokeback Mountain to the Final Frontier

Today, year three of university properly began. Yes, I’ve been back in Leicester for over a week, and yes, term began last Monday, but it was only today that I and others like myself really started getting on with work.

Although my timetable consists only of a film screening and seminar on Thursdays and a further seminar on Fridays, I realised my need to refocus, and spent a few hours in the library listening to pod-casts on American politics, whilst reading a book on American political development, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I won’t do as shit this year as I have done the past four semesters.

Following that, I had a meeting with my dissertation supervisor, which only two of us showed up for. The others had notified the supervisor in advance, which meant our meeting was far shorter and much more to the point, which was appreciated. My other classmate was someone who had just returned from a year abroad, having lived in Washington D.C. for the duration of the 2013/14 academic year. Listening to him made me again wonder if staying behind was the right decision, especially when he informed us that he had already begun work the previous year on his chosen dissertation topic of Bob Dylan as a political figure. My supervisor was overjoyed to hear this, as he claimed to be a huge Dylan fan.

He also said that he thought my dissertation was interesting, but after hearing him rave about Bob Dylan, it definitely seemed a lot less heartfelt.

Nonetheless, he listened to my ideas, and suggested that I stray away from my initial plan of setting my dissertation out:

  1. Introduction
  2. First Chapter: Masculinity in the Old West
  3. Second Chapter: Masculinity in 20th Century Film, and How it has Drawn it’s Roots From the Old West
  4. Third Chapter: How Ideals of Masculinity Have Survived Throughout the 20th Century, and Live on in Contemporary Cinema
  5. Conclusion

Instead, he suggested that I stick to something more consistent, wherein each chapter remains based on contemporary film, and reflects back on the ideals of the Old West. He suggested I use topics revolving around masculinity for each chapter; topics such as ‘Violence’ and ‘Sexuality’. He’s right, obviously, being a lecturer and me just a student, and fortunately, my initial three choice films still fit quite nicely with this new lay-out; all I need to do now is perhaps select three new films to work alongside them.

Brokeback Mountain, obviously, would be my forerunner for the topic of ‘Sexuality’, perhaps teamed with Twilight, although I may have to instead move/share that to/with ‘Violence’ (due to Edward Cullen’s evolution into Bella’s protector, despite his desire not to harm others). I would explore Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger’s relationship, how it affect’s their characters female partners, how it is reflected in the views of their communities, and of course how they themselves view it.

For ‘Violence’, I still plan on sticking with Star Trek, as I will study the contrasts between Kirk and Spock; Kirk being the aggressive bravado fuelled ‘cowboy’, and Spock being the calm, collected and wizened ‘Native’, who is initially hesitant to use force to solve conflict. Similarly, their contrasts could also be used in a possible third topic of ‘Intelligence’.

For the topic of ‘Intelligence’, beyond the Spock/Kirk contrast, I’m not really sure what film to use at this moment in time. Sherlock Holmes comes to mind, as the titular character’s intellect is used to help him navigate most obstacles in life, something that in the Old West would have surely been frowned upon as an alternative to power and strength. I am, however, cautious about using a film partially created by the British, not that I have anything against us and our film making, but because as an American Studies student, I feel like it might be cheating writing about a Britain-set film, with British characters, predominantly British actors and a British director, but we’ll see.

On another note, just before all of this occurred, I saw a scared American girl take a tumble into the paternoster after I assured her it was perfectly safe. She was fine of course, so although I kept my cool at the time, when I told my house-mates upon arrival home, the three of us were nearly in tears.

She was unharmed! I’m not being mean!

Don’t judge me.

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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Film & TV, Life


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USA, Day 15: Everybody’s Changing

I returned from the art museum down the road with Terazha and the whole vibe of the hostel had changed. Most of the guys had left either for their next destination, on overnight trips, or just disappeared randomly.

Now, there are only eleven of us left for the night, and amongst that number, three people work here, one is in training, two are friends of the owner who’re just visiting, and three have just arrived today.

From when I arrived, only myself and one other of the same guests remain.

So obviously, I was a little bored last night. Fortunately, the rest of my day was a bit more lively.

The morning began as Canaan revealed his desire to go to a nearby Fire Engine museum; the Hall of Flame. I tagged along and took a few pictures, admiring the Steampunk-esque nature of several of the vehicles.

Afterwards, with time to spare, we headed down to Chicken-Fil-A; somewhere I most probably would have just bypassed on my hunt for the best budget food I could find. 

What a mistake that would have been! I think I can honestly say that the special spiced burger I had, topped with their own Chicken-Fil-A sauce, was the nicest chicken burger I’ve ever tasted. I’ve always been a fan of Burger King’s Chicken Royale, but the Royale has nothing on Chicken-Fil-A. It was juicy, spicy, the sauce was gorgeous, and the milkshake was perfectly blended, with little bits of strawberry mixed in and a cherry on top. I’m definitely going there again.

The afternoon was pretty relaxed. I went out for a stroll, and after suppressing my irritation for not being allowed to jaywalk and the odd spacing of the crossings in Phoenix (seriously America, it’s a ruddy stupid law), I found myself at the local comic store.

Inspired by a conversation I had had with Canaan earlier in the day, I picked up the first issue of the new RoboCop comic along with the latest issues of All-New Invaders and Original Sin.

The first two were decent reads; nothing particularly special, but had consistent writing and a readable story.
Original Sin #5 on the other hand, felt like a waste of money.

-SPOILERS- I guess…

The story focused on Nick Fury Sr’s secret job protecting the Earth even more so than anyone knew, by essentially becoming Howard Stark’s cosmic assassin. It felt like a revelation that was just too big for Fury’s character, and didn’t feel like it needed a whole issue to explain, seeing as it just extrapolated on the most basic details of a plot ‘twist’ that most people guessed a few issues back.

Anyway, nerdiness aside, my day went on. As I said at the start, me and Terazha headed to the Art Museum, where I was keen to see the Hollywood exhibit they had on.

Costing $20, the exhibit, fortunately, turned out to be more worthwhile than I was expecting. It had costumes from dozens of different films, including several I was planning to focus on in my dissertation.
A couple of the most relevant points were:
• John Wayne wore Levi’s for several of his films, because he believed that whatever was between the hat, coat and cowboy boots wasn’t especially important.
• Similarly, modern costume designers now strive to make outfits mostly unnoticeable, due to the varying fashion trends that adorn movie-goers, as they might start critiquing the characters choices.

After this, we perused the other galleries that our tickets had gained us entry to, before debating coffee and heading back to the hostel.

Which brings us back to the start.

Bored and tired, I chatted to one of the new guests, before prodding unenthusiastically at my ‘sesame chicken noodles’ ready-meal.

Later, I was invited to sit outside with the hostel owner and her friends as they tried to decide where abouts they were going to eat.

Bidding them goodbye, I headed inside and talked with Marty for a bit, before turning in. Whilst talking, we both learnt of our shared desire to go to Tombstone, as Marty remarked that it was unfortunate that I wasn’t staying longer, as he would’ve been willing to to drive us both down there.

But with less than 24 hours until I would be checking into my next hostel, it was a no go.

Oh well, maybe next time.

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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Comic Books, Travelling


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USA, Day 10: An ‘Irish Hooters’

Before I left Britain, one of my friends stressed that I go to Hooters. Put off by the idea, I replied that I wasn’t going to travel thousands of miles to go to Hooters by myself. Yesterday, it turned out, I did the next best thing.

Although the surprises of Day 9 led to a fun day, I’ve found so far that the days where you have a plan of some sort usually turn out to be more successful. Yesterday was one of those days.

Leaving the house about eleven, I set off to the Autry centre. There were problems to the start, like buses not showing up, and making me subsequently miss others, or the fact that I didn’t realise the Autry centre was opposite a Zoo, which held my attention long enough for me to miss my stop. I then had to backtrack, walking for about half and hour, as my patience lessened. But I got there eventually, and it proved worth the woes.

For those of you who do not know, I study ‘American Studies’ at the University of Leicester. American history, literature, film, politics, and bits of social studies.
With my final year coming up I decided that I would write my dissertation on ‘The Western Hero, and how his actions have informed stereotypes of masculinity in Contemporary Cinema’.
Basically, cowboys.
And to do this, I applied for a travel grant, which left me with £600 from my university, which was just about enough to pay for my flights.

So yesterday, basically, was the start of my research.

After wandering through an exhibit on the history of Route 66, I headed for the ‘Cowboy’ exhibit. I felt like I child again, darting between cases, examining the dress code, weaponry and lifestyle of the western character. All the while trying to decide what sort of hat I will buy in Arizona.

For the most part, the exhibition, whilst interesting, was not directly informative to what I was looking for, but I enjoyed myself none the less, and did learn some interesting facts. Here are three of them:
• Although guns were carried by many westerners, many historians claim that the west may not have actually been as violent as most believe.
• Americans were especially partial to the ‘singing cowboy’, because he encompassed all the facets of the American hero, but also share his feelings and emotions.
• A world in Minecraft is approximately 39867 miles long.

After chatting with a waiter about London and Lord of the Rings, I enjoyed a lemonade and headed back to Hollywood.

After a brief pitstop, I headed back to Long Beach, where I met with the aforementioned Mr. Carter from the reception on Sunday.

Over the course of the night, that stern image that I had applied to him proved to be false, as I found he was much more easygoing that he had me believe.

Initially setting out to show me how american culture adapts parts of the countries it draws from, he took me to the Tilted Kilt, which he explained as having been founded by someone who used to work at hooters, and all the waitresses wore kilts. Going in, I also found that not only did they have to wear kilts, but also tight unbuttoned shirts that revealed everything. So yeah, basically, an ‘Irish Hooters’.

Trusting that Dean wouldn’t have bought a minor to their establishment, I was served a leffe; one of my favourite beers, and a Scottish Cheese Steak’ with fries and conversation from our waitress.

Someone Dean was familiar with, she seemed like a lovely girl, training to be a nurse, and dreaming to travelling to exotic places where she could marry a guy like Dwayne Johnson. It was also a nice change, because although so far many women have admitted they love my accent, the majority if then have been at least 15 years older than me. At least.

After the Kilt, Dean took me to another one of his hangout spots, where I met and enjoyed a beer with his friends. I was also introduced to some rather drink ladies, with whom he was also acquainted with. One, in particular, although flattering, was more handsy than I cared for.

Urgh, this post probably makes me sound like a right prude.
I swear that’s not the case.

After that, we quickly popped into Denny’s to wish someone a happy birthday. I feel like someone coughed something abusive at me. But I can’t be sure. Ignoring him, I turned my attention to a larger guy, who was laughing and instructing me to ‘take out’ a similarly tall man across the room, and then become an L.A. Laker.

However, I’m pretty sure you don’t break into basketball by getting your arse kicked, so I just laughed it off.

All in all, it was a fun day, and reaffirmed my point that although Hollywood may be a shithole, some parts of L.A. aren’t bad.

Still, I can’t say its been my favourite part of the trip so far. So I’m happy to be moving on this evening.

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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Travelling


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USA, Day 9: The Toothpaste Technique

The Hollywood lifestyles been keeping me busy. Guess I’ll have to type out a double bill. So read on, and other topics will emerge. But first, this is like my confession.

It’s kind of grimy, but I had a spot. A big one. One of those ones that just forms a lump on your face, but doesn’t have a head to pop. You’re always aware of it, but can’t do anything about it. It’s disgusting. Like a miniature cyst.

I’ve since learnt a solution. Before you go to sleep, spread toothpaste over it. Two nights should weaken it enough to clear most of the pus out, and apply some sort of product.

This was my problem of the day.

Anyway, spot gone, me and Kristina once again met with her son Alessandro. Together, the three of us went out for breakfast.

I always enjoy American breakfast, because it’s similar to the proper English breakfast, but at the same time, so different. Pancakes instead of beans. Syrup over everything. And with bacon and eggs on top. What more could you want?

My instant response to that question would be hash browns. But that leads me on to one of my next subjects; lunch.
With no plans for the day, and having moved on from Long Beach to Hollywood, I took it upon myself to find ‘Waffles’.

Once there, I treated myself to ‘The Original’ double down sandwich. Fried chicken, salad and cheese between two bacon waffles. It was a strange meal, and although I did enjoy it, I feel like some tastes went together better than others. Still, if you’re ever knocking about on Sunset Boulevard, give it a try.
After a brief stroll along Hollywood Boulevard, which I had already explored a few days previous, I retreated to the apartment and started talking with the guy who was putting me up for a few nights. With me having not specified that it was ‘The Western Hero’ that I was studying, he suggested we check out the ‘Psychiatry: An Industry of Death’ museum, a couple of blocks down the road.

It was really interesting, especially so for me because Benjamin Rush was a big focus of the first half of the museum, and I had previously learnt about him in my ‘History of Alcohol’ module in Leicester.

Although Thom was forced to leave on account of another patron of his being locked out, I continued to explore the museum, which went on to explain how psychiatry played a part in the rise of the Nazis, Terrorism, and the deaths of countless children. It was extremely morbid.

On the way back, Thom pointed out the Done Theatre, which we decided to check out after learning that they were showing Age of Extinction a day early, but weren’t advertising it. So later, we would find ourselves in a rather bare screening. But not until after some burgers and booze!

Showing me the grill on the balcony next to the gym, all included in his apartments price, he made our own burgers, rather unsuccessfully, and shared a bottle of wine. As we finished the bottle, he informed me that he was going to go buy some more alcohol. Due to the atmosphere we had created, I assumed it would be beer or some sort of wine. Instead, he returned with a bottle of Bacardi, which we also shared.

If was this that lead me to believe back in Britain I drink a lot more than he usually would, because as I managed to retain my composure, he descended rather quickly into drunkenness.

The next morning, he would claim that due to the size of his hangover, he must have drank a lot more than me. At one point he even made the claim that he’d drank the whole bottle of rum by himself. He hadn’t


As for the film, it was better than I had expected. Not amazing. It’s a Michael Bay Transformers movie, after all. But better than Revenge of the Fallen, which is all that I look for in a Transformers movie. The story was a little lacking at times, but the action and effects made up for it. The new characters proved just as entertaining as the old, and overall, it was an interesting film experience.

Although, truth be told, they had won me over as soon as they had Bumblebee quote The Big Lebowski, John Goodman and Ken Watanabe voicing autobots, and Galvatron as a villain.

Plus, Alia Shawkat was standing next to me when we booked the tickets. First celebrity sighting.

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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Film & TV, Travelling


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USA, Day 6: Road Trip!

Okay, not really.

The truth is, yesterday revolved around me catching buses. And catching buses does not a road trip make.

Making sure I was up and about my nine a.m., I was driven the the Greyhound centre in Oakland by Max, and we said our goodbyes; my Bay Area Adventure was truly over.

Getting my ticket, and finding a seat, I came to the saddening realisation that coach terminals are just as scummy no matter what country you’re in. It was depressing, but made everything seem a bit more like home.

The wait seemed long and tedious, but paid off when I got onto the his and took my seat next to a man called Rodney. My first impression of him was that he reminded me of my friends brother, but Canadian, and as such we got on really well. It made a seven hour trip much more bearable, and it was nice to talk to someone who wasn’t from England, but understood all of our colloquialisms. The only hiccup, was that as soon as I started thinking of him as my friends brother, I completely forgot his name. Luckily, I would later spot it on his laptop, and he would admit to forgetting my name, making him seem like the bad guy. Hoorah!

Later, Rodney would show me pictures of his time in the Philippines, where he works as a missionary, and after I told him about my plans to travel to Hong Kong, he assured me I would have a place to stay if I ever was in his part of Asia.

Later, after we parted ways, I found myself talking to an Irish man, who couldn’t have been too much older than myself. He revealed to me that his cousins owned a lot of land and hotels in Ireland, and stressed how great a place called Carton House was; a hotel just outside Dublin. Although I didn’t get a number or address from him, he told me the hotels website, and gave me his name, inviting me to contact him if I, my friends, or my girlfriend (I wish), wanted to come and stay in Ireland. Pleased with my two new contacts, I turned my attention to Los Angeles, where we had recently arrived.

When originally planning my journey, Los Angeles was the part I cared about the least. Nothing against L.A., its just that I never thought it would suit my personality. Now I’m here, I can see why I had my reservations about L.A., as so far, pretty grimey.

I’ll have to report back when I’ve explored some more.

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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Travelling


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