Jan 05

Right at the back of my local Tesco, up the moving walkway that does that scary locking thing with the wheels on the trolleys, sits a large bank of televisions that just happen to annoy the hell out of me whenever I happen to go there. Before I go on I know that the most obvious solution to this particular conundrum is just to ignore them and not go to that particular section of the store, but they’re right next to the section that sells DVDs and video games. I am, for those of you who either might not know or have forgotten, a huge couch potato and geek that is easily annoyed at stupidly minor things. So it’s a perfect storm, really, and not one of my making.

What is it that annoys me so much? Well, it’s the whole setup that Tesco have trying to sell the HD experience. They have all these TVs with a split-screen, showing what a movie or show looks like in HD and what Tesco want you to think it looks like on a normal TV. It looks something like this *:

On the left, normal, on the right, HD?Above: see, you need to buy HD! Look at that old shite your TV puts out! Buy HD now! DON’T THINK ABOUT IT! DO IT NOW! **

Except of course that it doesn’t look like that at all, does it? *** I’ve got a normal TV, and it doesn’t look like someone smeared Vaseline all over the screen after punching me in both eyes and stealing my specs. HD TV might well be the best thing ever, but every time I see those televisions in Tesco I always get annoyed at the underhanded way they seem to be selling the experience. They even did it once with Iron Man, and when that white line passed over him Robert Downey Jr. became Robert Indistinct Blob Jr. I’ve got no problem with them selling something, but they should at least try to do it honestly. And yes, I know that sounds daft but I thought I might as well start 2010 as I mean to go on.

* That is, by the way, an image from one of the films that they actually use in Tesco. I had to go and do research to find out what film this was, and get a screenshot. I put in the effort for this, I really do. I don’t even like Keira Knightley all that much.

** Sponsored by Tesco. Every little helps.

*** Of course the possibility always exists that I just happen to have a very specific type of stroke that affects the vision in one eye whenever I happen to step into Tesco. Mind you, I would need to recover from this episode every time I leave the shop but I suppose it’s not impossible. ****

**** Yeah, I suppose it is. Sorry.

Dec 20

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to put me off going to see a film*, it’s hype. I understand that talking up your latest movie is just a part of the business and I accept that, but when the talk and the praise and the hype all goes OTT it actually starts to put me off the film entirely. I don’t know why I have such a reaction, but there it is. When I think about it, I still haven’t seen Moulin Rouge because so many people I know said “You MUST go and see Moulin Rouge!” when it came out**.

That’s where I am with Avatar, the latest James Cameron film. Between people I know talking about it, mentions on Twitter and various reviews I have seen the words “revolutionary”, “awesome”, “spectacular”, “fantastic” and “gamechanger” tossed around like so many tossed salad leaves at a tosser’s convention. I’ve even seen one celebrity be a bit of a prick about it on Twitter when someone dared to even question the greatness of the film in the smallest degree. As the hype continues to build up I can’t help but think if this film were a person, he or she would be glowing white and floating six inches off the ground as lepers and cripples begged to be touched and cured.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m actually quite keen to go and see the film, because I’m a geeky fan of all things science fiction and it looks like a passable enough way to pass an hour or so. But – and I say this with all due respect and in as mild a way as I possibly can – IT’S JUST A FUCKING FILM. Now, you want to talk about revolutionary ideas and “gamechangers” that’s fine. Democracy? Gamechanger. Polio vaccine? Gamechanger. Telephone? Gamechanger. Those scientists who mapped out the entire genetic code of cancer? Gamechanger. CGI-stuffed story with blue aliens, spaceships and action sequences that will be out on DVD and Blu-Ray within the year? THAT WOULD BE A FILM.

* And if you want to put me off reading a book, make a film of it and then print a copy of the book that uses the movie poster (or a scene from the movie) as the cover image. What, we won’t buy a book unless it has someone famous on the cover? What is this, the Heat magazine approach to literature? I saw a copy of “A Christmas Carol” in Tesco last week and in addition to the movie poster being the cover, there was text all along the top that said “Now a major motion picture”. You know, because being a classic bit of literature wasn’t enough.

Christmas Carol book cover

Above: If only Dickens had thought of blue aliens first.

** Is this cutting off my nose to spite my face? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I just don’t like the glassy-eyed zeal that gets into people’s eyes when they are absolutely convinced that you would love something and that you should go and see it right away. I like apples and salt and vinegar crisps, but I don’t go all shiny-eyed cult leader on people and try to convert them to Granny Smith’s Golden Wonder Church of Walkers. Plus, Nicole Kidman pisses me off. An entire video singing with Robbie Williams and she doesn’t slap him silly once. Wasted opportunity.

Jul 02

Tonight my wife and I went on a date. We had a quick bite to eat after work, and then headed out to see The Hangover at the cinema. It’s an excellent film, very funny, with Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis as the stand-out performances. The structure of the film is also very clever, with the characters having to work out what happened the night before, and plot elements connecting nicely as they piece things together. All in all well worth picking up some tickets, though I have to say that Ed Helms is annoyingly musically talented, as well as being a good comedy actor.

While the film was great*, what I really enjoyed was heading out on a date. I hope that I never get so jaded that I can’t enjoy just heading out to the movies with my wife**. Of course I ate too much chocolate ice cream (damn freezer right next to where you buy the tickets, with the larger tubs right there in front of you) but it was a great night. Still too hot though. What I wouldn’t give for a clear, frosty night with a genuine chill in the air. So much fuss is made about summer but I’ve always been a fan of winter and the cold.***

* And even better, no-one around me talked at all during the film. Must be a record, because I always seem to attract the chatters at the cinema. I think I have a whistle on me somewhere that only pig-ignorant movie fans can hear, but tonight it seemed to be broken. Yay!

** What I mean is, there are married couples that still enjoy doing date-style stuff after they get married, and some married couples that just stop doing that sort of thing. I enjoy going on dates, even though we’re married, and hope it continues for a long time.

*** And sorry about all the footnotes. I should really rewrite the post and find a way to integrate them into the main text, but it’s too hot and a cold can of diet coke is awaiting my attention.