I recently invested in a new piece of electronica for my personal entertainment. And for Mrs P’s entertainment too, of course. A shiny new 39″ Panasonic TV. It’s this one here. Although I picked it up for a little bit less than Amazon flog it for. It was a freaking bargain. Why did I choose Panasonic? Samsung have much better smart tv services. LG make darned good value televisions. I chose based purely on quality. The Panasonic has the best picture quality in this price bracket. I’ve owned Panasonic televisions before too, which were superb. That counts. So far, I’m delighted with it.
Category Archives: Entertainment
Hollywood has been on a pretty bleak run for far too long. I can’t remember when I last watched a movie that really got me caught up in the story. You know, when you’re right on the edge of your seat, literally, and you cease to be aware of anything else around. Time and other cinema goers disappear into oblivion. You’re there. In the movie. Along for the ride. It’s your adventure.
Almost every new release I’ve watched for at least a couple of years has disappointed. Skyfall, Hangover III and Prometheus were dreadful. Insults to their esteemed predecessors. Lincoln and Argo weere ‘ok’ historical works. The former was short on drama. The latter was short on fact. Django Unchained was the exception. A big thumbs up from me. But the last movie I really got caught up in? Probably Avatar.
Avatar’s killer feature was the fact it was in 3D. It was made for 3D. Most importantly, it worked in 3D. The predictable storyline with its well trodden script was at best pleasant. But seeing a new world in such vivid multi dimensional technicolour was mind blowing. Alas, 3D doesn’t always work. I’ve seen a few movies since Avatar, including the latest Star Trek, and left thinking I should have seen it in good old fashioned 2D.
So with a certain amount of trepidation, I took my seat in the Odeon at the weekend to watch Avatar. Encouraged into the cinema by rave reviews. Slumped in my seat with minimal expectations. I was giving 3D another go. Gravity did seem cut out for this bit of tech. It’s a space movie. Sci-fi (I like) not Fantasy(which I don’t). What could go wrong?
Nothing went wrong. The Hollywood drought is over. We have a winner. We could debate the plausibility of parts of the story. I like plausibility. But here, the science behind the accident that propels our two heroes into a fight for life is almost incidental. There just needs to be an accident. It doesn’t matter much what it is. And of course, they’re riding Space Shuttles. Which have been retired.
The cast? I’m beginning to like George Clooney. I watched him in The Descendants recently. Which is an oldie, but thoroughly enjoyable on a cold Sunday evening. And as for Sandra Bullock? She’s how old? I won’t embarrass her by saying. I’ll embarrass her instead by mentioning that, well…I would. Would NASA send this pair into space on a shuttle? Erm, probably not. But never mind. They both put in sterling performances which keep the story rolling along in an entertaining fashion.
The movie worked brilliantly in 3D. It’s worth shelling out the extra shilling. I was on the edge of my seat. I kept getting aches from clenching my muscles. I gasped for air from subconsciously holding my breath. I had to hold my breath though. There’s no oxygen in space. And that’s where I was. This was one of those films that takes hold of you and won’t let go.
Go watch Gravity. It’s not the best space film I’ve ever seen. But it’s the best in a long time. Let’s hope it’s not the last good movie coming off the production line. Captain Phillips is next on my list. Hopefully that will give the industry a much needed lift too. Else, it will bring my new found high expectations back to earth with a bump.
Specifically, top luxury casinos I would like to someday visit around the world. When people go on holiday, not everyone wants to necessarily do beach holidays. More and more, people like to combine their hobbies with their holidays, and due to this there has been a rise in casino holidaying. This is where people choose some of the best casinos around the world and travel there to enjoy the gambling and also the resorts in general that the casinos are often a part of.
The Casino at the Wynn Macao Resort in China is one of the most extravagant casinos. It boasts 100,000 square feet of gaming space. You can choose from slot machines, roulette tables and all the usual card games. You really are spoilt for choice. The promenade is a popular spot for shopping as it has all the biggest designer labels in the world there such as Gucci etc.
Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco has opera, theatre, and ballet performances, so there is definitely a high class air about this beautiful casino. With three public gaming rooms open only to tourists and not residents Monte Carlo (id is needed to enter) and private rooms where a suit and tie is required, this casino offers you a truly elaborate entertainment experience.
The Bahamas’ Atlantis Resort Casino is an amazingly beautiful resort located in one of the most luscious areas in the world-the Caribbean. It has lots of touches that make it memorable such as the crystal gate entrance which is made of 2,000 pieces of hand blown glass. There is also a water park, aquariums and even a dolphin habitat! A great place to go to for the whole family too.
The Venetian in Macau has the largest casino in the world with a wide range of casino games. With luxury accommodation and concerts and sporting events taking place in the arena, you are sure to have a wonderful time. You can watch a word famous Cirque du Soleil production here as well.
I’m not the biggest fan of live performances. Why would someone want to travel miles away to listen to a musician perform from a stage so far away he/she/they look like ants. Let’s not get started on the audio quality. And of course the most noise you’ll hear comes from the crowd. If I wanted to hear tone deaf wannabes sing, I’d go to a karaoke. Not all live performances are like this, but sadly all too many (by musicians I actually like) are stadium based. Give me my home stereo to listen to instead, thanks.
Shows put on in smaller arenas are a different matter. I love Teatro Metropolitan in Mexico City. I saw a fantastic show by Jamie Cullum there. Foro Sol is a bit bigger, but still – I went to see Roger Waters there. That was a fantastic show. I came across one of his shows again on YouTube recently. This one was in London. I would have loved to have gone to this show, on this night. I may have posted it before. But it’s worth posting again. It may be in a large arena which I’ve just slated. But there’s an exception to every rule.
I am not a fan of the X Factor / Pop Idol style shows either. Manufactured crap, all of it. Britain’s Got Talent does at least allow a diversity of acts to make it a little more interesting. But I’m still not a fan. This years winner were a silhouette group, Attraction. They were fantastic. Really fantastic. They are another exception to the rule. There was a slight irony / controversy to their victory. They’re from Hungary.
Britain’s Hungary’s Got Talent, it turns out. There’s an exception to every rule. But you can’t knock the theme. Integration is everything, right?!
I’ve recently watched a trio of movies, which I’d like to briefly review. I’m not really a fussy watcher. I can enjoy most types of movie, although my mood at any moment might make me lean towards one genre over another. What do I look for? Good acting, reading from a decent script. Preferably without looking like they are actually reading from the script. Special effects or stunning landscapes? Both are good. I just want an escape for a couple of hours. Something that entertains, works my imagination, makes me think, provokes emotions. Any one of those or a mix. Most importantly, unless it’s an intentional farce, it must be plausible. Plausibility is everything.
Plausibility isn’t necessarily a limitation. Star Trek is no more implausible than the Ten Commandments. The writer need not prove his concept. He just has to be imaginative enough with it to ensure it isn’t instantly disprovable by the average layman. Needless to say, Star Trek director JJ Abrams might have a greater struggle to convince an astrophysicist that he would me. Although the franchise actually has quite a fascinating scientific history. Even Superman has a semblance of plausibility. Sort of. Until someone finds Krypton, grabs a wee bairn, and shots it to Earth, then nothing is disproven!
The first of the three films was Dark Zero Thirty. Plausibility is helped by the fact the film is based on a true life event – the hunt for and eventual killing of Osama Bin Laden. Possibly also by politically motivated leaks, although that seems to be conjecture at the moment. Dark Zero Thirty is gritty, with a gripping storyline and a gutsy finale. The scenery whisks you away to strange, foreign lands and has you feeling a little out of your comfort zone. It’s also proof that if the script and screenplay are strong enough, it doesn’t necessary matter if someone goes and ruins the ending for you before you’ve seen it. I won’t spoil it for you though! Dark Zero Thirty gets a nine out of ten for plausibility and an eight out of ten for the movie from me. Definitely recommended.
Next up was Flight. Denzel Washington is an ace pilot. A drunk ace pilot. A drunk, coked up ace pilot. Who flies a broken passenger jet upside down in a heroic effort to get it safely to the ground. Well, relatively safely. He really is an ace pilot. Who else could do that? There are some who try it in a simulator. Is all this plausible? Well, I know planes can fly upside down. I’m pretty sure that a few drunks have tried that before now. Impossible, then, it is not. But we’re moving downwards on the likelihood scale. But still, the first fifteen minutes are gripping, thanks to the special effects. So all is forgiven. Much of the rest of the film is a very human story. At times, it’s touching. And frustrating. The end is a little too heroic. But it is kinda how you want it to end. So forgiveness reigns once more. A six out of ten on the plausibility scale, and a six and a half out of ten for the movie. It’s a good enough flick if there’s nothing better on.
The last on my list? Skyfall. Bond. A bastion of British cinema for a half century. I loved the old Connery films. Roger Moore too. In fact, especially Roger Moore. After watching the first ten minutes of the first Timothy Dalton Bond, I switched off, and hadn’t watched another Bond film since. Till Skyfall. I’d read mixed reviews. But mostly positive. The glorious scenery. Top class acting. Stunning special effects. Where do I lie on Skyfall? The kindest thing I can say about Skyfall, is that I watched it to the end. It’s a shame. I liked Daniel Craig. And the scenery. But the storyline was shockingly weak.
The effeminate super villain was utterly preposterous. He had no character, no personality to speak of. He was shallow and, like the rest of the film, thoroughly improbable. Too say the least. Cliches and cheese fitted into every other line. This movie contained not one iota of plausibility. Not a shred. What a disappointment. I give it a zero out of ten for plausibility. And a generous four out of ten for the movie. I guess I’m trying to make a point. A simple point. A movie just needs to make me believe. How it does that doesn’t matter. It can earn my belief through the science. Through the story. Or just by making me want to believe. But it has to make me believe in it.
Movies have a new competitor. A competitor so extraordinary that it’ll put pressure on movie makers to up their game. And a competitor that trumps any movie on plausibility. This competitor is real life. Life has always been more exciting, dramatic and unexpected than the movies. But it’s twists and turns came infrequently and if you blinked, you missed them. Not any more. Nowadays, real life is captured, condensed, bottled up and distributed on YouTube and other video sites. Click here for some Russian dash cam action. The exploding road mid way through the video, in case you’re interested, is a passenger jet crashing just out of camera. But I’ll leave you with a real plane crash. Not as dramatic as Denzel’s shunt, for sure. But still. It’s real. And a pretty unique ‘insiders’ view of a crash.
I’m not much for flicking through the channels. There’s either something on I want to watch, or there’s not. If I want to watch it, it’s because I’ve seen a recommendation or an advert or it’s by someone I like. I started watching a TV series recently, that I was five years behind on. I’d seen Dave Winer raving about it, and his tastes aren’t far off my own. The best thing about being five years behind? No waiting a week for the next episode. And no waiting nine months between series. An hour of killer TV, every night, night after night.
Breaking Bad is a human story, which goes out of control. Is it plausible? Piece by piece, yes. As a whole? Hey, it’s a TV show. Entertainment. The show is absolutely chock full of strong characters. There’s not a weak link amongst them. Saul the dodgy lawyer. Gustavo the suave dealer. Mike, the down to earth fixer. Hector the near vegetative former hitman. Hank the thoroughly non PC DEA agent. Jesse the hopeless dropout. You want to see the good side of the baddest villians. You can see how they get on the slippery slope of life. You want to justify their bad choices. At least, sometimes you do. But as the series go by, and into season five, you can’t help but feel that the main guy, Walter, has definitely Broken Bad.
Season one showed the potential of the cast and concept and had some impressive drama. But it was just seven episodes long, cut short by the Hollywood writers strike. Which is, perhaps, why I felt a little bit underwhelmed at the end. It was good enough to convince me to launch into season two, but only just. The show really turns it up a notch in season two though, and keeps a steady dose or drama, comedy, tragedy, empathy and hope running through the storyline. We are up to date now, half way through season five. Alas, this final season is split into two tranches, the second of which we will have to wait for till July. Have you not watched the show? I envy you. You have about fifty episodes of the finest drama ahead of you. In case you’re wondering, I haven’t been paid in any way, shape or form to promote Breaking Bad. I just feel mysteriously obliged to tell you just how good it is….