More Films I have watched over the past few weeks

How to Get Ahead in Advertising
In which Richard E Grant plays an arrogant hotshot Advertising Executive named Dennis Bagley who thinks he can sell anything to anyone. Until he tries to come up with an advertising campaign for a new pimple cream.
He finds himself creatively blocked and becomes so stressed out that he himself develops a boil on the side of his neck, the boil gradually gets bigger as Dennis gets more stressed out and eventually develops a mind, eyes & voice of it’s own and starts to take over Dennis’s life completely.
There are some wonderfully surreal comic moments in this film & Richard E Grant is hillarious as he starts to act more and more bonkers. I really enjoyed this film.

Malice
The 1993 Psychological Thriller Malice  stars Nicole Kidman and Bill Pullman as a seemingly happily married couple named Tracy & Andy, who would like to have children. Tracy (Kidman) is a bit of a femme fatale, and manages to entice nice-but-dim Andy (Pullman), aswell as enticing a charismatic arrogant surgeon named Jed (Baldwin) into a decidedly dodgy scheme. However Things go a bit pear-shaped when Tracy is rushed to hospital and is operated on by Doctor Jed.
The film also stars Bebe Neuwirth, George C. Scott, Anne Bancroft, Peter Gallagher and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was directed by Harold Becker.

Spiderman 3

Spiderman 3 sees Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) hailed a hero after saving New York from Dr Octopus. However he is still having trouble with his girlfriend Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), and to make matters worse, his former friend Harry Osbourne blames him for the death of his father Norman A.K.A The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), and is determined to clobber him.

Meanwhile an escaped convict named Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) finds himself caught up in a sinister experiment whilst on the run from the Police and ends up developing some rather interesting powers as a result, which he then puts to good use running amok in the city.

As if this weren’t bad enough Peter then finds himself being taken over by a sinister alien life form and starts to behave very oddly indeed, until events are brought to a head by a foolish act and the alien is dealt with, only to find another host with a grievance against Spiderman.

I think this film is  quite complicated, it is as if they threw every element at this film in order to make it entertaining, with loads of explosions, chases and exciting bits, that said I still enjoyed it, especially the cameo from Stan Lee – The creator of Spiderman. It’s not as good as Dark Night or Watchmen, but it’s still pretty exciting.

Heaven’s Fall
Heavens Fall is a powerful story set in 1933 which Stars Anthony Mckie, and  follows the difficulties of a New York Attorney named Sam Leibowitz (Timothy Hutton) who finds himself in the Deep South defending nine young black men charged with rape.
What first starts out as a Taut courtroom drama eventually sets in motion a legal battle which ultimately changes the course of American Justice forever.

Sleepy Hollow

This entertaining film stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee, it is Set in 1799,  and  is based on Washington Irving’s classic tale The Legend of Sleep Hollow. (I wonder if I can get that on Kindle..hmmm)

In it Depp stars as Ichabod Crane, a man who is sent to investigate a number of beheadings, said to be the work of the legendary Headless Horseman, of course being a man of science Ichabod thinks it’s all a load of superstitious codswallop, until the horseman gets his chopper out & starts chasing him…..
The film also stars Christina Ricci, and her rather impressive heaving bosom , as Katrina Van Tassel

UP
I am a huge fan of all the Pixar animated films and this is no exception, So recently I thought I’d watch this film again. It is the inspiring story of an old chap named Carl Fredricksen, who, faced with the prospect of losing his house & ending up in a retirement home, decides he wants some excitement in his life (I don‘t blame him Go for it!).

So, Inspired by his childhood sweetheart & the daring exploits of his boyhood hero, he ties thousands of balloons to his house and sets off for a lost world of adventure. Along the way Carl unwittingly manages to pick up an overeager eight year old Cub Scout named Russell who has never ventured beyond his backyard, he also meets a talking dog named Dug and a rare flightless bird named Kevin.

The Piano
This weekend the Sunday Times Newspaper is giving away a DVD of the 1993 film “The Piano” with the paper. You can also download 5 tracks from the movie as well. I think it’s a great film & the music is wonderful, so I would like to get it.
Directed by Jane Campion and taking place in the mid-nineteenth century. It stars Holly Hunter as Ada, a mute woman who has a young daughter, Flora. After an arranged marriage to Stewart (Sam Neill) she leaves her native Scotland accompanied by Flora and her beloved piano and travels to the rugged forests of New Zealand’s South Island
At first Life in New Zealand is hard for Ada and her new husband Stewart is not the saviour he first appears to be. She then suffers more torment and loss when Stewart sells her piano to a neighbour, George (Harvey Keitel). However Ada learns from George that she may earn back her piano by giving him piano lessons, but only with certain other conditions attached. At first Ada despises George but slowly their relationship develops and Ada finds a way out of her miserable predicament…

Watchmen

 Adapted from the comic books by Frank Miller & directed by Zack Snyder I think Watchmen is a, fast paced exciting and visually spectacular film, which takes place In An alternate 1980’s reality where Richard Nixon is still president of the United States of America, and America stands on the brink of Nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Superheroes are used for secret operations by The US Government, but after an unfortunate incident erupts into violence and innocent people are killed, it then decides to outlaw them. ( The Incredibles spoofed this to great effect)

Then After a former superhero named The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered. his friend, another vigilante superhero named Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) approaches his former colleagues: Dr Manhattan (Billy Crudup), Silk Spectre (Malin Ackermann) Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) & Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) to find out the truth. Then when Rorshach is framed for murder, so Silk Spectre & Nite Owl decide to rescue him & investigate further. Their investigations lead them to where they least expect it and they uncover a sinister plot to turn the planet against Dr Manhattan by starting a nuclear war, killing millions, and blaming him, and they face a race against time to avert disaster…

The Odd Couple

Neil Simon’s hilarious film stars Jack Lemmon stars as a neurotic chap named Felix Unger,  who devastated by his recent divorce, decides to move in with his happily divorced friend Oscar (Walter Matthau). Unfortunately Felix likes everything spotlessly clean and Oscar is a total slob, the results are predictably hilarious and they find their friendship being severely tested…
Nobel Son
This really entertaining  thriller stars Alan Rickman Mary Steenbergen and Danny DeVito. It tells the story of Barkley Michaelson (Bryan Greenberg) , whose life is in a deep rut who is struggling to finish his PhD thesis.

Meanwhile his father, the learned Eli Michaelson (Rickman) , wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and now Barkley and his long suffering mother, Sarah (Steenburgen), now have the misfortune of living with an insufferable, arrogant chap whose philandering ways have become less and less discreet.

As if Barkley’s world is not bad enough, on the eve of his father receiving the Nobel Prize, Barkley is kidnapped and the requested ransom is $2 million – Exactly the same sum as the Nobel Prize money.  Eli’s selfish refusal to pay soon spurs on a venomous (and very entertaining)  tale of familial dysfunction, lust, betrayal and, ultimately, revenge…

Gran Torino
I’ve also recently watched Gran Torino again, In which Clint Eastwood stars as a grizzled bigoted old curmudgeon named Walt Kowalski, whose prize possession is his 1973 Ford Gran Torino, and is not best pleased when a family of Hmong refugees move in next door to him, especially when the youngest lad Thao (Bee Vang) tries to steal his prized car.

It becomes known that Thao was planning to do it it as part of an initiation into the local gang, but is prevented by Walt. To atone for his disgraceful behaviour Thao is made to do chores for Mr Kowalski  and gradually the two of them bond, Walt teaching him all sorts of useful Do-It-Yourself trade secrets for fixing up houses.

Eventually though things come to a head when Thao’s sister (Ahney Her) is attacked by the local gang in revenge and their house is attacked, Walt then finds himself drawn into a confrontation with the local Gang and decides to take action….

The Shawshank Redemption.

I’ve also recently watched this inspiring film Directed by Frank Darabont & Based on a novel by Stephen King. It is Set in the 1940’s, and stars Tim Robbins as a chap named Andy Dufresne, a young and successful banker whose life changes drastically when he is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover and sent to Shawshank Prison.

At first he is lonely & isolated but despite the grim conditions Andy adapts to prison, and realizes there is something deep inside you, that people can’t touch and get to….’HOPE’. He eventually gains the respect of his fellow inmates, especially longtime convict “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), a black marketeer, and becomes influential within the prison and epitomizes why it is crucial to have courage, spirit and determination to fulfill your dreams.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (part 1)

I finally got my copy of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows part 1 Wooohooo! . In this film all the action takes place outside Hogwarts and sees Harry, Ron and Hermione go on a perilous mission to track down and destroy the three remaining horcruxes, in order to stop the Dark Lord Voldemort becoming immortal, This the must do without the guidance or protection of their professors, with Voldemort’s evil followers “The Death Eaters in hot pursuit determined to stop them, and nearly succeeding at one point.

All areas of the wizarding world itself have become a dangerous place for all enemies of the Dark Lord. The long-feared war has begun and Voldemort’s Death Eaters seize control of the Ministry of Magic and even Hogwarts itself, terrorizing and arresting anyone who might oppose them.

Luckily the one prize most valuable to Voldemort – the Chosen one, Harry Potter, continues to elude  “The Death Eaters”, who all have orders to bring him to the Dark Lord, Harry’s only hope is to find the horcruxes before Voldemort finds him. But as he searches for clues, he uncovers an old and almost forgotten tale–the legend of the Deathly Hallows. And if the legend turns out to be true, it could give Voldemort the ultimate power he seeks…

Glastonbury Festival 2011

This years Glastonbury Festival takes place from June 24th – 26th, and the line-up has recently been announced. Acts appearing  are as follows

  • Pyramid stage .

U2
Morrissey
Biffy Clyro
B.B.King
Wu Tang Clan
Two Door Cinema
Metronomy
The Master Musicians of JouJouka
Coldplay
Elbow
Paolo Nutini
Tinie Tempah
Rumer
The Gaslight Anthem
Tame Impala
Stornoway
Beyonce
Pendulum
Paul Simon
Laura Marling
Don McLean
The Low Anthem
Fishermans Friends

  • Other Stage

Primal Scream
The Chemical Brothers
Queens of the Stone Age
Mumford and Sons
White Lies
Kaiser Chiefs
Fleet Foxes
Friendly Fires
The Eels
Bright Eyes
Jimmy Eat World
TV on the Radio
The Wombats
The Kills
 Bombay Bicycle Club
The Vaccines
Jessie J
The Noisettes
The Naked and The Famous
Twilight Singers
Cold War Kids
Brother
Treetop Flyers
Clare Maguire
Chipmunk 
Alice Gold
Dan Mangan

  • West Holts

Cee Lo Green
Big Boi
Kool & The Gang
Chase and Status
Janelle Monáe
Hercules and Love Affair
Jimmy Cliff
Aloe Blacc
The Go! Team
Heliocentrics with Mulatu
Fools Gold
Duane Eddy
Little Dragon
Omar Souleyman
Bellowhead
Gonjasufi
The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble
Jah Wobble & the Nippon Dub Ensemble
Dengue Fever
Nicolas Jaar LIVE
Jamie Woon
Ziriguidum
Narasirato Hidden Orchestra
  
More information http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/

Richard Trevithick born this day in 1771

Richard Trevithick was born on this day in 1771 in Tregajorran. He was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall. His most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive. On 21 February 1804 the world’s first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place as Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Penydarren Ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.

Trevithick was an engineer at a mine in 1797 when he, with the help of Edward Bull pioneered the use of a High Pressure Steam Engine, but ran afoul of Matthew Boulton & James Watt, who were working on a similar device and held a number of Patents.

As his experience grew, he realised that improvements in boiler technology now permitted the safe production of high pressure steam, which could move a piston in a steam engine on its own account, instead of using pressure near to atmospheric in condensing engines.

He was not the first to think of so-called “strong steam”. William Murdoch had developed and demonstrated a model steam carriage, starting in 1784, and demonstrated it to Trevithick at his request in 1794. In fact, Trevithick lived next door to Murdoch in Redruth in 1797 and 1798. Oliver Evans in the U.S. had also concerned himself with the concept, but there is no indication that his ideas had ever come to Trevithick’s attention.

Independently of this, Arthur Woolf was experimenting with higher pressures whilst working as the Chief Engineer of the Griffin Brewery. This was an Engine designed by Hornblower and Maberly, and the proprietors were keen to have the best steam engine in London. Around 1796 Woolf had agreed to save substantial amounts on coal consumption.

According to his son Francis, Trevithick was the first to make high pressure steam work in England, in 1799. Not only would a high pressure steam engine eliminate the condenser, but it would allow the use of a smaller cylinder, saving space and weight. He reasoned that his engine could now be more compact, lighter and small enough to carry its own weight even with a carriage attached.

Trevithick started building his first models of high pressure steam engines, initially a stationary one and then one attached to a road carriage. A double-acting cylinder was used, with steam distribution by means of a four-way valve. Exhaust steam was vented via a vertical pipe or chimney straight into the atmosphere, thus avoiding a condenser and any possible infringements of Watt’s patent. The linear motion was directly converted into circular motion via a crank instead of using a cumbersome beam.

Trevithick built a full-size steam road locomotive in 1801 on a site near the present day Fore Street at Camborne. He named the carriage ‘Puffing Devil’ and, on Christmas Eve that year, he demonstrated it by successfully carrying several men up Fore Street and then continuing on up Camborne Hill, from Camborne Cross, to the nearby village of Beacon with his cousin and associate, Andrew Vivian, steering. This is widely recognised as the first demonstration of transportation powered by steam, and it later inspired the popular Cornish folk song “Camborne Hill”. However, a steam wagon built in 1770 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot may have an earlier claim. During further tests, Trevithick’s locomotive broke down three days later, after passing over a gully in the road. The vehicle was left under some shelter with the fire still burning whilst the operators retired to a nearby public house for a meal of roast goose and drinks. Meanwhile the water boiled off, the engine overheated and the machine burned, destroying it. Trevithick did not consider this a serious setback, but rather operator error.

In 1802 Trevithick took out a patent for his high pressure steam engine. To prove his ideas, he built a stationary engine at the Coalbrookdale Company’s works in Shropshire in 1802, forcing water to a measured height to measure the work done. The engine ran at forty piston strokes a minute, with an unprecedented boiler pressure of 145 psi.

The Coalbrookdale company then built a rail locomotive for him, but little is known about it, including whether or not it actually ran. To date, the only known information about it comes from a drawing preserved at the Science Museum, London, together with a letter written by Trevithick to his friend, Davies Giddy. The design incorporated a single horizontal cylinder enclosed in a return-flue boiler. A flywheel drove the wheels on one side through spur gears, and the axles were mounted directly on the boiler, with no frame.

Unfortunately it was found that The Puffing Devil was unable to maintain sufficient steam pressure for long periods, and would have been of little practical use. In 1803 he built another steam-powered road vehicle called the London Steam Carriage, which attracted much attention from the public and press when he drove it that year in London from Holborn to Paddington and back. It was uncomfortable for passengers and proved more expensive to run than a horse-drawn carriage and so the project was abandoned.

In 1802 Trevithick built one of his high pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803 Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray.

Homfray was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul 10 tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon , a distance of 9.75 miles (16 km). Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). As well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses included Mr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. The engineer from the Government was probably a safety inspector and particularly interested in the boiler’s ability to withstand high steam pressures.

The locomotive was of a primitive design. It comprised a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame. At one end, a single cylinder with very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more.
Despite many people’s doubts, it had been shown that, provided that the gradient was sufficiently shallow, it was possible to successfully haul heavy carriages along a “smooth” iron road using the adhesive weight alone of a suitably heavy and powerful steam locomotive. Trevithick’s was probably the first to do so; however some of the short cast iron plates of the tramroad broke under the locomotive as they were intended only to support the lighter axle load of horse-drawn wagons and so the tramroad returned to horse power after the initial test run.

The proprietor of the Wylam colliery near Newcastle, heard of the success in Wales and wrote to Trevithick asking for locomotive designs. These were sent to John Whitfield at Gateshead, Trevithick’s agent, who built what was probably the first locomotive to have flanged wheels. Unfortunately wooden rails were used for his tramway and, once again, Trevithick’s machine was to prove too heavy for its track.

Then In 1808 Trevithick publicised his steam railway locomotive expertise by building a new locomotive called ‘Catch me who can’, built for him by John Hazledine and John Urpeth Rastrick at Bridgnorth in Shropshire, This was similar to that used at Penydarren and named by Mr. Giddy’s daughter. This was Trevithick’s third railway locomotive after those used at Pen-y-darren ironworks and the Wylam colliery. He ran it on a circular track just south of the present day Euston Square tube station in London, Admission to the “steam circus” was one shilling including a ride and it was intended to show that rail travel was faster than by horse. This venture also suffered from weak cast Iron tracks and public interest was limited. Trevithick was disappointed by the response and designed no more railway locomotives, However a group of people down at the Severn Valley Railway decided to build a replica of Catch-Me-Who-Can and I’ve been lucky enough to see it on a number of occasions.

Whalebone – Three Fires

Lately I’ve been listening to Three Fires, the latest album by funky folk Band Whalebone – It’s awesome!  The first song Herman the Carpenter is a very lively, folky number, Wenlock Hare is also great, November is quiet & reflective. Wildcat Bonnie Nellie Reel, is another very lively track. Sweet Child’o’Mine is a cover version of Guns & Roses’ classic song. Corndon Morning is another quiet, reflective song. The Boxer is a cover of a classic Simon & Garfunkel song. The Gathering is also a very lively song, which is one of my favourite tunes from a previous album. Wait is another quiet number. The album Title track “Three Fires” is another great tune. Danny Boy is a laid back rendition of a famous song. Hooty Mullock is another very Lively number. Red Moon is a laidback relaxed number and Stairway to Heaven is an awesome cover version of a classic Led Zeppelin song.

  • Herman the Carpenter
  • Wenlock Hare
  • November
  • Wildcat Bonnie Nellie Reel
  • Sweet Child’o’Mine
  • Corndon Morning
  • The Boxer
  • The Gathering
  • Wait
  • Three Fires
  • Danny Boy
  • Hooty Mullock
  • Red Moon
  • Stairway to Heaven

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

I’ve got my DVD copy on order and I can’t wait to see it, as I missed it at the cinema due to ill-health, I read the book ages ago and I’d like to see how the two compare. In this film all the action takes place outside Hogwarts and begins After a near-fatal ambush by Voldemort’s Death Eaters, and sees Harry, Ron and Hermione go on a perilous mission to track down and destroy the three remaining horcruxes, in order to stop the Dark Lord Voldemort becoming immortal, This the must do without the guidance or protection of their professors, with dark forces hot on their heels determined to stop them.

Meanwhile, the wizarding world has become a dangerous place for all enemies of the Dark Lord. The long-feared war has begun and Voldemort’s Death Eaters seize control of the Ministry of Magic and even Hogwarts itself, terrorizing and arresting anyone who might oppose them.

Luckily the one prize most valuable to Voldemort, the Chosen one, Harry Potter, continues to elude Voldemorts followers “The Death Eaters”, who all have orders to bring him to the Dark Lord, Harry’s only hope is to find the horcruxes before Voldemort finds him. But as he searches for clues, he uncovers an old and almost forgotten tale–the legend of the Deathly Hallows. And if the legend turns out to be true, it could give Voldemort the ultimate power he seeks…