Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tate Modern... And Another Bloody Outing!

View of St Pauls and the Thames from the Tate Modern

I spent Friday in London for a long planned day out with my close friend Tracy. After a quick coffee in Starbucks near Victoria we caught the bus to St Pauls and crossed over the Millennium Bridge to visit the Tate Modern. I thought I'd been there before to see some of the Turner Prize exhibits but was clearly mistaken... There was loads to see, including some cool surrealist stuff and this sinister looking chair (left) with blades for handles. We must have spent about 3 hours looking around, then had a drink up in the Members Bar overlooking the Thames which was lovely. Decided to walk to Covent Garden mid-afternoon which was slightly further away than I'd anticipated, but my internal compass steered us there eventually. Spotted the Banana Bookshop then found a nice little Italian restaurant for dinner before Tracy had to get back to Oxford.

Then things kinda spiralled. I knew James was in town and up for a couple of pints so I rang him and left a message saying I was free. Wandered off to see Paul in the Cinema Store while I waited for him to return my call, then strolled around Leicester Square for an hour. Just when I was about to give up and head off to Hammersmith to see Daniel Kitson I suddenly I got three texts and a voicemail, all of which had been sent about an hour earlier. Bloody mobiles! I managed to ascertain that James was meeting Jay Slater (film journalist/author) in a pub up by Marble Arch, so I walked all the way up there, found the pub, but couldn't see them. My mobile was still playing up, so I had to find a phonebox, and then only got James's voicemail again. Grrrr! Thankfully about 10 mins later the signal came back and I received another flurry of missed calls and texts - James had been in the wrong pub and should have been meeting in one between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road! So I then had to walk all the way back down Oxford Street... I'm not kidding, I was ready to kill for a pint after that hour walking around London! Anyway, it was good to meet up with the two guys along with Mike from EMB and a couple of directors, Alex Chandon (Cradle Of Fear) and Sean Hogan (Lie Still), a cool little gathering of like-minded horror folk. Naturally I got very drunk and then remembered I had to get back to Brighton... luckily I made it onto the midnight train having remembered to take a leak before boarding. In my inebriated state I seem to have agreed to return on Wednesday evening for a very special EMB Zombie Club night... should be fun!

And finally... happy birthday to Kelly today! Thanks for popping in for a cuppa this afternoon!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Movie Haiku - The Break-Up

Dir: Peyton Reed

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Favreau

He won't wash dishes

funny yet melancholic

she gets the Telly

soulmining rating: ***

Movie Haiku - Stormbreaker

Dir: Geoffrey Sax

Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Nighy, Mickey Rourke

James Bond junior

Rourke wears eye shadow again

called smelly at school

soulmining rating: ***

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Automatic at the Concorde

Wednesday: the hottest day of the year so far therefore probably not the best time to be going to a sold out gig down at the sweaty Concorde along with 600 other people. Still, it would have been rude not to. Actually, it wasn't too bad inside the venue; yes, it was hot, but conditions weren't quite as cramped as I'd anticipated, if anything it was busiest when Cat The Dog (the second support) were playing. Sadly, in my opinion, they were rubbish and not a patch on the first support band, Switches. The Automatic finally took to the stage around 10pm and played for an hour. Their energetic set was pretty solid, with the singles Raoul and Monster being the obvious stand-out tracks, and they finished with an encore of forthcoming single Recover before stripping down to their pants, ready to dash across the beach for a late night dip. They return to Brighton on 24th October for a date at the Corn Exchange.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Severance trailer online!

Yet another quick plug for Severance - the website has now gone live and there's a trailer you can watch in glorious Quicktime. More news on this film soon...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Movie Haiku - Superman Returns

Dir: Bryan Singer

Cast: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Kevin Spacey

Superman annoys

far too long with too few thrills

world doesn't need him

soulmining rating: **

Monday, July 17, 2006

Singha song

It's amazing what you can find here in my local Northumbrian supermarket... :-)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Play It Cool in July

I'm keeping it brief today. Internet. Is. So. Very. Slow. (I'm at my parents' house... enough said.) These are the CDs I've been listening to the most over the last month:
  • The Feeling - Twelve Stops And Home (Island)
  • Princess Superstar - My Machine (K7) single
  • The Like - What I Say & What I Mean (Polydor) single
  • Zero 7 - In The Waiting Line (Ultimate Dilemma) single
  • Tina Dico - In The Red (Finest)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Movie Haiku - Over The Hedge

Dir: Tim Johnson & Karey Kirkpatrick

Voices: Bruce Willis, Gary Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner

They steal lots of food

have to dodge Verminator

squirrel finds his nuts

soulmining rating: ***

Monday, July 10, 2006

Survive Style 5+ Review

Reika Hashimoto as Mimi in Survive Style 5+

Recently released on DVD by Manga in the UK, Survive Style 5+ is a wacky Japanese flick starring Tadanobu Asano, Sonny Chiba and...erm, Vinnie Jones.

"Prepare yourself for a movie experience quite unlike any other! One of the freshest, craziest and most thrillingly original movies you are likely to see this year, SURVIVE STYLE 5+ is the astonishing directorial debut feature of acclaimed Japanese commercials director Gen Sekiguchi. A wacked-out surrealist comedy from the farthest reaches of the imagination, the film almost defies description, coming on like a fantastical version of Pulp Fiction if directed by Takashi Miike while tripping on acid."

You can read my review of the film on Eat My Brains here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Extreme Films Research

Just wanted to give a quick plug to the Extreme Films Research project which a group at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth are conducting at the moment, with backing from the BBFC.

"We’re trying to find out people’s responses to films that include scenes of sexual violence. This is a topic on which everyone has an opinion. It’s also a topic on which public opinion makers write, and censors and classifiers act. But actual knowledge is much harder to come by."

The team have selected five films which, in the last few years, have given particular problems to the BBFC:
  • A Ma Souer (2001)
  • Baise-Moi (2002)
  • House On The Edge Of The Park (1980)
  • Ichi The Killer (2003)
  • Irreversible (2002)
There's a short questionnaire containing nine questions for each film title, so if you have seen any of the above movies then please take the time to give them your comments. Full details can be found on their website at

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hallo Tuk Tuk!

Tuk tuks have arrived in Brighton! As of Monday they will be operating along a fixed route between the Marina and Hove (via Brighton station) with each journey costing a flat rate of £2.50. I like the idea and am sure they will appeal to tourists, but whether the project can be sustained - especially with a small fleet of 12 vehicles restricted to a fixed route and timetable - remains to be seen. For more details visit

Here's Thursday's full press release:

TucTuc Limited today announced the launch of Europe's first TucTuc service, which will begin official operation on Monday 10 July 2006. Brighton & Hove has been chosen as the test-bed for this pioneering service, which is due to be introduced in London in May 2007 and across the rest of the UK and Europe in 2008/2009.

The service will provide tourists, shoppers and visitors with a safe, economical and environmentally friendly means of getting around the city. Ideal for moving through congested urban environments, motorised rickshaws (or TucTucs) are commonplace in Asia. TucTuc Limited has been awarded the first known operator's licence of its kind outside Asia. Super-low emission vehicles, the TucTucs have been specially imported from India and run on 'CNG' (Compressed Natural Gas) making this a virtually zero-emission mode of transport. The vehicles are also very compact, helping to ease congestion and addressing the huge demand for new and innovative forms of public transport.

Set to completely change the urban landscape of cities and become a massive tourist attraction, the TucTucs will be individually wrapped with one of twelve distinctive designs, including the tongue-in-cheek 'Chavrolet' and the fruity 'Strawberry'. Each eye-catching design is guaranteed to get passengers noticed! Drivers will sport a custom-made uniform, designed by hip Brighton celebrity tailor, Gresham Blake. The new operation will provide around 50 full and part-time jobs, for people looking for a sociable and socially responsible career. The TucTuc service will offer the public a safe and trustworthy means of travel, which is particularly important late at night. All drivers will undergo stringent road safety and knowledge tests, rigorous vetting procedures and must hold a full UK or international driving licence. Drivers will also be trained to undertake minor mechanical repairs. Specially fitted safety features include passenger and driver seatbelts and strengthened overhead and side impact protection.

The service will operate all year round from 8am-2am, Monday to Saturday (8am-11pm, Sundays and Bank Holidays). A reduced service will operate during November to March, with a peak during the summer season. The all-weather vehicles come complete with weatherproof hoods and side curtains to keep out the rain and cold. An extremely economical service, fares start from just £1.50 per passenger, regardless of distance travelled. Vehicles will pick up and drop off passengers from any stop along the route. A route map will be on display in every vehicle and available at hotels and restaurants throughout Brighton & Hove. Passengers who ride in all 12 vehicles can claim their free mini TucTuc toy or TucTuc T-shirt as a keepsake. The vehicles will refuel at a dedicated filling station in Brighton Marina, which will also be open to the public, so they can take advantage of this environmentally friendly and low-cost fuel.

Dominic Ponniah, Executive Director, TucTuc Limited comments: "We want to encourage everyone to go green! The new TucTuc service supports local government transport and sustainability strategies to make Brighton & Hove a vibrant and healthy, people-friendly city in which to travel. We're convinced that the service will provide a fun-factor to getting around the city, which will appeal to locals and visitors alike."

Friday, July 07, 2006

Scritti Politti at the Concorde

Last year the statistics for Scritti Politti (essentially vocalist Green Gartside) were as follows: three albums in twenty years, two of those in the eighties, and no live performances in that time. Frankly, the thought of a new album and a tour in 2006 seemed as likely as The Smiths reforming. But hot on the heels of last month's White Bread Black Beer album here he is taking the stage of the Concorde on the opening night of his first tour for twenty-six years. I guess sometimes miracles do happen. And Green's voice is surely a gift from above. He opens acapella with new single The Boom Boom Bap, one of strongest songs he's ever written, the track building gradually as his new band members join him. It's a stunning start. Not wishing to trade on his past glories, the 80 minute set comprises material largely culled from this most recent album, with just a couple of tracks from his early work, and nothing from either 1988's Provision or 1999's Anomie & Bonhomie. For someone who suffers from chronic stage fright, Green seems remarkably composed - even if he is relying on a music stand to prompt his lyrics - and is bold enough to throw in a number of new songs heavily influenced by his love of American hip-hop. It shouldn't work, but as with most choices in his career, his honesty and integrity towards his peers enable him to carry it off. The small but appreciative audience respond well, but it's perhaps no surprise that the familiarity of The Sweetest Girl and the joyous rendition of Wood Beez for an encore gain the greatest applause of the night. A rare performance from an unsung musical hero, and an evening to savour.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Movie Haiku - Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Dir: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Stellan Skarsgard

All want Davy's heart

kraken attacks The Black Pearl

the pirates strike back

soulmining rating: *****

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Free Running & Spooky Kid

If you're looking for something to see at the cinema this weekend other than the new Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, then might I suggest either of these two films which also open at cinemas on Friday...

"The year is 2010 and in the city of Paris government authorities have taken the extreme measure of building huge walls around any urban districts known for being criminally troublesome, withdrawing the police force and leaving the locals to fend for themselves. One such area is District 13, a ghetto notorious for its resident gangs, killers and drug-dealers…

As slick and stylish as you would expect a film produced by Luc Besson to be, DISTRICT 13 moves at a breakneck pace from start to finish. Paying homage to the early films of John Carpenter (most notably Escape From New York) and employing the "no visual tricks" action stylings of recent Thai films such as Ong-Bak, it is a jaw-dropping action extravaganza boasting brilliant stuntwork, spectacular martial arts face-offs and breathtaking roof-jumping Free Running sequences, the likes of which have never been seen before on the big screen."

I was lucky enough to see a preview screening of District 13 last November and it's great fun!

You can read my original movie haiku by clicking here.

"Driving home one night, pregnant "scream queen" actress Kyoko Harase (Noriko Sakai) and her fiancĂ© are involved in a terrifying encounter with the ghostly child, Toshio, causing their car to crash and leaving Kyoko's boyfriend in a coma. Returning to work, Kyoko is invited to be the celebrity guest on a horror-themed TV show, investigating the legends behind a supposedly haunted house. But on arrival at the location, members of the crew soon begin to disappear under mysterious circumstances· Is it possible that the legends are true and the infamous "curse" has been reawakened?

An intensely unsettling ghost story full of nail-biting suspense and terror, THE GRUDGE 2 is a worthy successor to Takashi Shimizu's original Japanese shocker."

I bought the Japanese DVD release of this two years ago and it's a decent sequel to Ju-On. It's interesting that this Japanese sequel (Ju-On 2) is actually being marketed as The Grudge 2 here in the UK... something that is bound to cause confusion when the Hollywood sequel to the remake opens later this year!

You can view a clip from the film by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More photos of the Sleepy Crew

The Sleepy Crew outside the Odeon West End
(photo by Ian Rattray)

Chatting with the FrightFest drunks™
(photo by Kevin Duncan)

Inside the PCC for Breakfast At Tiffany's (l-r): Me, Rob, Alex, Dee, Martin, Lauren and Rachael
(photo by Richard Street)

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Sleepy Queue

Saturday in London was so much fun! With the FrightFest weekend passes going on sale at 11am I caught the first fast train of the day up from Brighton, grabbed a quick coffee, and took my place in the sleepy queue bang on 8am. There was about a dozen people already there, including Riz who'd started the queue around 3am - crashing out in front of the Odeon West End after going clubbing the night before! I initially caught up with Rachel, Rob and Richard (who'd all been at the FF breakfast in February) and Lauren (who I'd been emailing all week), and then wandered up the queue to say hi to Alex and Paul and introduce myself to Dee, Kevin and a few of the other forum regulars who I'd yet to meet in person. Mike and the FrightFest drunks™ arrived later, closely followed by the unholy three of Alan, Ian and Paul. Three hours standing chatting with friends in the morning sunshine flew by, until at 10:45 the Odeon opened their doors and let us in to buy our tickets. I was hoping for a front row seat but in the end settled for second row on the aisle in the centre block. Job done!

With such a large group of us regulars hanging around it was always going to be difficult to organise something that we all wanted to do afterwards. In the end Kevin, Evrim, the FrightFest drunks™ and a couple of others went off on their own, leaving ten of us - Rachel, Rob, Richard, Lauren, Dee, Alex, Paul, Mike, Martin and myself - in Cafe Uno for an early lunch. There had been tentative plans to head to the Comic Con at Earls Court (as Rachel was hoping to catch sight of Christopher Lee) but the majority vote went to the lunchtime screening at the Prince Charles Cinema - where they were screening Breakfast At Tiffany's. It felt really funny sitting in the front row of the PCC (where FrightFest began) watching a film that had nothing to do with serial killers, zombies or monsters!! A good choice though, even if all of us boys did nod off for a few minutes during the movie. Hey, it wasn't called the sleepy queue for nothing!

Having already lost Mike and Paul before the film, Martin and Richard then left our group after the screening, but we were joined by James who came down to the PCC to meet us - having texted me in the cafe earlier on. With England's crucial World Cup Quarter Final game due to kick off at 4pm there was an urgency to find a quiet pub as Rachel and I were adamant that we were going to watch the match. Not so easy in the centre of London, especially as it was Gay Pride weekend as well! In the end Alex, Lauren and Dee went off to see Over The Hedge whilst Rachel, Rob, James and I headed into The Two Brewers on Monmouth Street which wasn't too crowded - and wasn't full of yobbish lads. Paul (McEvoy) even popped up from the Cinema Store to join us for the inevitable penalty shoot out, which yet again was a major disappointment. James had already shot off after a couple of drinks so after the match it just left the three of us to meet up with Alex, Lauren and Dee again. We grabbed a bite to eat at a small cafe just off Piccadilly before we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. An excellent day out which bodes well for the main festival in August!

Movie Haiku - Breakfast At Tiffany's

Dir: Blake Edwards

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Buddy Ebsen, Mickey Rooney

Escort dates love rats

he has ten dollars to spend

nameless cat gets soaked

soulmining rating: ****

Saturday, July 01, 2006

July Live

July then. The sun is shining, the World Cup is drawing to a close (come on England!) and bands are all playing at Summer festivals, so there's not as much local live entertainment to look forward to this month. Plenty of things to look forward to later in the year however, with Juliette Lewis & The Licks, Sandi Thom, The Automatic, Keane and Razorlight all recently confirming shows in Brighton. Anyway, here's what I have found for this month:

03/07 - Jerry Springer: The Opera pitches up at the Dome for a week long run of shows. I'm going to check it out just to see what the fuss is all about. Expect protesters! They've been handing out leaflets outside the venue for the past two weeks...

06/07 - They've been featured in my Play It Cool column for the past two months and now Green Gartside is taking Scritti Politti on the road for a handful of live dates for the first time in 26 years. The new album White Bread Black Beer is a corker - his gig at the Concorde is a must-see this month.

10/07 - New metal band Lostprophets turn up at the Dome for their sold out show coinciding with the release of their new Liberation Transmission album.

19/07 - Hot on the heels of their top 5 single Monster, The Automatic are playing at the Concorde. Tickets sold out ages ago but fear not, they'll be returning later in the Autumn for a concert at the Corn Exchange.

20/07 - Girl of the moment Lily Allen will be at Audio for an intimate gig to celebrate the release of her debut album Alright, Still. Free tickets from Brighton's record emporiums if you pre-order the CD.

25/07 - Postponed from last month, Regina Spektor will hopefully make it to the Concorde this time. As might I... the original date clashed with work commitments. Could be worth checking out.

28/07 - I'm supposed to be in London for the day, so need to find something to do in the evening... Daniel Kitson could be a safe bet as he's trying out his new show C 90 at Riverside Studios ready for his Edinburgh Festival run in August.