Two Brief Points – Ender’s Game

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So anyone not in the mood for a Halloween-film this Halloween might like to try Ender’s Game, adapted from the 80s novel of the same name by the not-at-all homophobic Orson Scott Card (more on that later.)

Card wrote the story in the 80s, at the beginning of the video game era (back when it was ok to dislike gay people, sort of, wasn’t it?) when the possibilities of gaming had only just entered the popular imagination. This new obsession is at the forefront of Ender’s Game,  where teenager Ender Wiggin must lead the resistance against a hostile alien race through a series of  increasingly difficult simulations or “battles” against his fellow cadets.

l-R-Hailee-Steinfeld-and-Asa-Butterfield-star-in-Enders-game-2470955Sounds like a mixture of Space Invaders and The Hunger Games? Well that’s cos it kinda is. The simulations are given a 21st century make-over by director Gavin Hood, the man “responsible” for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in an enjoyable pastiche of retro games.

But I digress. The point of this post was to address two brief points:

1. Completely forgot to mention Hailee Steinfeld, but that can hardly be helped considering she was so underdeveloped and underused. I suppose when an entire intergalactic war has to fit into the space of two hours, we can hardly expect the filmmakers to develop our female characters now can we?

2. Ben Kingsley’s accent was awesome.

See, I told you it was brief. You can read the full review here at ThatFilmGuy/Ender’sGame.

Park Life.

“All the people. So many people.”

   – Blur

Having attempted to start running recently, I’ve noticed that people get up to all sorts of strange things in parks.

There are runners and cyclists, Dads throwing sticks into the trees to knock down conkers for the kids, and then there’s the man – god bless him – who walks around with his All About Trees book while naming them out loud.

People visit parks all year round, but there’s something about this time of year that inspires people to enjoy the great outdoors one last time before the temperature falls below zero, like the last mad dash to the supermarket (if the supermarket was shut all winter.)

IMG_0740swI was not immune, so I put on my running shoes and went out to join the all those outdoorsy people doing outdoorsy things. Twenty minutes in, I decided that running is a dangerous drug.

In a recent graduation speech at his old University, Tim Minchin talked about the well-known correlation between depression and exercise, urging angsty philosophy students to run like their lives depended on it. (It’s worth a watch on YouTube.)

Running is all well and good, but once the burning in your legs and lungs begins to subside, that’s when the false feeling of euphoria kicks in. You start thinking maybe you could do this professionally. Marathon runners peak in their thirties don’t they? Your best years are still ahead!

I decided that the first thing I would do when I got home was to ring up everyone in my phonebook and tell them how great they all are. But I quickly abandoned this plan when the endorphins began to run out on the wrong side of Preston Park and I had to limp back home the way I had come.

Parks I like, but my running career is still a long way off.

 

Mark Kermode at the Duke of York’s

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“The worst thing and the best thing about the internet is that everyone has access to it.”          – Mark Kermode

In 2011, Mark Kermode went to town on big-chain cinemas in his book the Good, the Bad and the Multiplex. He must have been as happy as a bunny then, when he got to spend the night at the Duke of York’s Picturehouse in Brighton last week, sipping a beer courtesy of the house license, sharing excepts from his new book and fielding – slightly bizarre – questions.

The book, Hatchet Job: Love Movies, Hate Critics, tackles the question of whether the new age of anonymous tweeting and er…blog writing (ahem), is damaging the validity of the critic.

This is a very current topic, and one – I reckoned – that would make an excellent subject for a first blog.

So here goes.

The main problem, Mark says, is accountability.

His argument is that the critic’s voice is only worth something if he/she stands up for their opinions; if they are willing to have filmmakers and actors threaten to punch them if ever they have the misfortune of crossing paths. This is something that happens quite a lot apparently, and is the reason why he doesn’t have many actor/filmmaker friends, (apart from his former neighbour, Ken Russell, who according to Kermode went a bit barmy in his later years but was still the person you wanted at the party.)

Despite all this, Mark insists that the next generation of critics will come from the internet. As long as we put our name to what we write, there is no reason that online writing cannot be as potent and as relevant as in print.

What struck me most about the evening however, was how few of us will ever be as at home in front of an audience as Kermode is. Who knows, maybe he’s a mess just before showtime, but somehow I doubt it. For almost two hours he kept us snug in a warm bubble in the palm of his hand, sharing anecdotes and the occasional Sex and the City 2 rant, while parting some knowledge and wisdom as well.

I just feel lucky I live in a city where I have places like the Picturehouse on my doorstep and where I can hear people like Kermode speak.

As Kermode says, there will always be people who want the cinema experience and I think the same applies to hearing people speak in front of a live audience.

Well done Mark Kermode and Duke of York’s for an excellent and entertaining evening. We salute you.