June 2009

A Tour of Europe: An Introduction to Andrei Tarkovsky

Russian cinema is some of the most intriguing, yet it is often difficult to approach. Of all movie-making cultures, it's my opinion that those from the former Soviet bloc have approached the process most purely as art. This isn't necessarily a reflection of the culture, per se, but an unusual byproduct of what it meant to produce films under the various Soviet regimes.

List of British Comedy Shows

A number of British shows have become famous all over the world. This includes sitcoms like the Coupling, sketch shows like A Bit of Fry and Laurie and of course, classic comedies like Black Adder series. But there are other brilliant shows that are underrated by viewers. Perhaps most folks have not heard about some of them. Either way, I figured it was time to mention three of my favorite British news satire shows.  

Hustle: A Gift From The BBC

There's a particular brand of flashy, modern television production at which the folks with the BBC seem particularly adept. Using slick soundtracks, stylish editing and boatloads of clever details, these shows really capture the feel of 21st century television.

The big problem for us yanks is how hard it is to market these shows Stateside. J.H. Wyman tried to snag the style for his ill-fated Fox series Keen Eddie. As much as TV viewers complain about high-profile cancellations like Firefly, I was always much more heartbroken by Keen Eddie's unceremonious departure in 2003. It had a great cast, including a "before we knew her" Sienna Miller and an amazing visual style. Alas, the hair trigger on Fox's cancel gun squeezed back after only a few episodes.

A Tour of Europe: Persepolis

One of the "In" things right now in the movie business is the adaptation of graphic novels for the screen. Most of these big-screen comics have been more toward the action side of the spectrum with films like 300 and The Watchmen. Every now and then a more arthouse project gets off the ground, even if few are even aware that the original form is a graphic novel, such as A History of Violence. There's always a debate surrounding how faithful to the books the adaptations are. Frank Miller has artistically disowned every adaptation ever done of his work. In that sense, Persepolis is rather refreshing.

Ju-on: The Grudge 2














Guess what I came across in the bargain bin recently? The original Ju-on: The Grudge II, you know the one that does not have a re-adapted storyline with brand new cast members to suit a different audience? Alright, so I am not a fan of remakes and prefer the originals. After all, they retain the essence of what it a cult classic. Well, this is the second part of that fantastic horror series by Takashi Shimizu and it is well worth watching.

Ads that make you smile

I usually hate adverts (especially that horrible Monster Night advert on horror movie channels). That's also because the ones on television are some of the worst (read: cringe-worthy) ads gathered from the face of the earth. Well, that's not really true; some countries come up with really excellent adverts. Perhaps it is the gap between our cultures that highlight the creativity within these ads. Or (and I am with this one) some people just make really good ads.

Funny British Comedians

There are a number of well-known British comedians who are famous worldwide. Eddie Izzard, Ricky Gervais and of course, good old Stephen Fry aka King of Twitter. But what about the many other comedians from Britain? Who else are fantastic performers who have been overlooked? This is my list of three favorite comedians.


1. Mark Watson