Tag Archives: BBC

Film Critic – And Why Not

Hello Dear Reader

Film Critic – And Why Not

As soon as, ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’ started, I knew I was in for a treat. That was the chosen theme music for the BBC Film series, hosted by the late Barry Norman.

Barry Norman became someone who, for me, helped expand my love of films, not just the mainstream, but why I should want to watch a certain movie. He took up the role after years as a journalist in 1972. I was not immediately taken with him I must say, but his down to earth manners and simple explaining won through.

Like many others, I wanted to know what films were due for release, was I going to be interested, would they be worth rushing to the cinema. Unlike today, there was no internet, no pushing of trailers on television. There was a rival on the other channel, aimed more at children. It was ok but Barry Norman just went those steps further.

He seemed to talk to me, not many presenters could that, just make you feel he was just telling me to watch this film or avoid that one. He had one overriding criteria, whether a film was going to last; whether new generations of cinema goers would want to watch it in 20 years time. If you look at the films he recommended in 2013, you can see the reasoning.

It became something of a need to listen to his reviews and there are a few, in particular, that stand out for me. Of course, my favorite has to be Star Wars. I knew of the film briefly from odd comic magazines but it was Barry Norman’s review that sealed. H e described it as “Two hours of sheer bliss, the ultimate in space-age fairy tales,”. Now some might have dismissed this ‘new’ space-age film as childish, Norman did not. He knew what the film business had to do, entertain.

He did this without ever speaking down to his audience, taking them into his confidence. If Barry Norman said it was good, it was good. He was not one to duck away from telling actors, producers, and the likes his views about their work. He nearly got punched by John Wayne and had Robert De Niro leave, over a comment about Tom Hanks.

Barry Norman wrote a number of books, giving his reviews on the 100 greatest films and his autobiography, ‘And Why Not’. I had the great pleasure of listening to him at the New Victoria Theatre one evening. He still held that easy-going, simple style that had the audience wanting more. Asked about his reviewing style Norman said: “I always knew that nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong in criticism. The only thing I could do was to make sure that whatever I said was what I really believed”.

Tagline:’And Why Not – That Star Wars moment. (Add the theme as well)’

Social Media

Hello Dear Reader

Social Media

I recently thought of how to increase my readership. These little blogs seem to spark interest but how do you break into the top end of a growing market? Will a big name always  draw people to read about a film review for example. Also, social commenting appears to be an increasing trend. At least that is what I feel.

I have never expected many comments from you, my reader but some feel it’s both important and required. Many now just click ‘Like’ as in a number of major sites. Is that because they like the picture or do not wish to comment and leave themselves open to a response? Maybe, it is because they are unsure of what is the social protocol. Is it in fact, how the blog has been written, restricting the reader to comment?

Unlike a novel, a blog can be many things. It can advise about the best places to eat or give a review of a film. The growth in personal blogs means that to attract the right reader, let alone any reader is a new art. Yet I feel there are ways to do just that. You could offer to sell space on your site, giving a small revenue as well as promoting a product. My view here is that to offer that space, you first need regular visitors. If you only have the odd one or two, is it worth it?

The other way is to join communities online. Without trying to mention anyone in particular, some now use shapes. There has always been the phrase, ‘my circle of friends’, in terms of the internet it is now becoming a circle of communities. You can find like-minded people for just about any subject. Here you can express your own views, you can find written work to like and comment on.

The BBC produced what they see as the new class test. Years ago, a comedy sketch showed how the three classes viewed each other. Three men, John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, stood in line and gave a satirical view of each class. To many, the names may not mean much so here is a link to the sketch. Now you understand.

It was really simple. The upper class looked down on all, the middle class looked up and down whereas the lower class could only look up. ‘I know my place’ said Corbett. There are now 7 different classes or as the BBC think. One interesting addition is the use of social media. This gives a strange outlook in my view, as someone could have little money and yet be very socially active. Is this right?

I started this blog about how to increase my readership. So what have I done. Well, I joined a few shapes, increased my online circle of communities. It had instant success and produced a couple of nice comments. What would I like? I really would like to publish both my novel and poems. Can I do that? Yes, because avenues have opened. Will I do it? Yes, because that is a goal I have set myself.

Would I like more readers? If I am honest then yes I would.

With every post you open yourself up to the negative comments. I am sure that will happen one day. It’s how one deals with the negative rather than waiting for the positive in my opinion.

Tagline: Just 1 more reader or 100?

Sound of Silence

Hello Dear Reader

Sound of Silence

I have not blogged in a couple of months due to various things in real-life. Some may say real-life includes blogging these days however, I have been and still am, busy with my first book. Hence the sound of silence.

Today I decided to listen to a song which I thought I knew very well, Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence. I have listened to it hundreds of times but this time was different.

The heavy metal band Disturbed have produced their version of the song. It is often very difficult in my view to take a ‘classic’ song and improve it. This is one of those times when you really do need to listen to the remake.

It is stunning. It is just grabs the soul and digs deep inside. The words nearly take on another meaning. Played at a slower pace than the original, it feels better. I did not expect such a gritty polished song from a band that might have gone the other way. Thrashed out at high volume, destroying all before it. Yet this is so calm and understated that brings out true emotion in this song.

I would recommend this version to many people. It even made me think it had been done for one of the latest blockbuster movies given the orchestra accompany in the vocals. I can imagine this as part of the upcoming X-Men movie. The words fit the known story so well, so long as you know the X-Men universe. If it is not used there, then why?

As I said at the beginning, not often does a remake sound better for me. This one does. Thanks to Ken Bruce, BBC Radio 2 for playing it.

Here is the obvious link Sound of Silence

As for me, my silence is sort of ending as my book draws near to completion.

Tagline:’I’ve come to talk to you again.’

Radio Sadness

Radio Sadness

Hello Dear Reader

2016 has started with some what of a downward trend even before it got going. Each day it seemed that the news of well-known people just became longer and longer. For me, I kept reading about some of my great hero’s and influences, yet holding onto the knowledge I could listen or watch them again and again.

Just when you thought it might settle down (it never will), there was announced the passing of Terry Wogan. I had already planned to write a small blog before this news but now it makes even more sense to put down my thoughts.

There have been many tributes to all those who have passed recently, it seemed almost difficult to keep going. I heard the sad news of Terry’s passing as I drove to archery. My first thought was I had to listen to Elvis Presley’s version of ‘Are you Lonesome tonight’, where he sings the wrong line. Terry found that many years ago and played it so many times. Straight away it made me smile. Like millions of others (8 million plus), I used to wake up to Wogan and enjoy that relaxed calm, easy way.

He just made the morning work. As I got older, I listened to more of the music he chose for the shows. The discoveries he made were brilliant. He knew what the listener wanted. Take Eva Cassidy for example and ‘Over the Rainbow’. That is just perfect. I brought the CD and the remaining songs were just spot on. Thanks to Terry.

Then there was Janet and John. At least one time, if not more, did I forget a turning, miss the motorway exit or just have to stop due to tears of laughter. Again, I brought the CDs.

Eurovision was gold dust for him. Terry told it like it was, warts and all, often 100% right. Eurovision might not have liked it but they could never get rid of Terry until he decided to leave.

As a sort of keen sometimes golfer (not anymore), I used to watch the BBC pro-am program. Again Terry Wogan gave us all a memory from such a simple show. He still holds the record for the longest televised put, 100 feet I believe. It was magical.

Terry Wogan was and will be part of the fabric of life, you can not change that. I suspect that a certain tune might just make it back into the charts to help his other beloved cause, Children in Need. I never met him, would have liked to if I had the chance. To those who take over from him I am sure they know he would and did back them all the way. Chris Evan’s was clearly affected by the both the news and the event let alone all the others in radio and television.

They say all good things must end, I would question why? I know why really since the odd one or two things get in the way. However, here once more we have a lifetime of memories to keep repeating. Just like the others who passed away, too early for many, we the loyal listener can listen and watch again.

Terry will never be forgotten.

Tagline: ‘I think the radio just shed a tear’

2015 – My review

2015 – My Review

Hello Dear Reader

Well 2015 has now passed and often people reflect on their year, a personal review you might say. I am no different than millions of others, so beware spoilers ahead. (Well for time travellers at least).

2015 has, just like many other years, been filled with ups and downs across the board. It is often thought that the downs tend to come to the fore at this point and yes there were a few scary moments. It has not been the best of times but things did pick up towards the close. One of the up’s was the pleasure of seeing Michael Palin live talking about his dairies and what he wrote about. It did make me think and yes write a blog about them. Maybe more people need to remember what a dairy is all about. Another odd good moment was a trip down memory lane to the Tower Ballroom at Blackpool and yes sitting watching a lot of people waltzing around the floor. Of course there were many other good moments most of which ended up in a blog or two. I also added to my list of achievements two presentations, one for the Keele Creative writing society which I was extremely proud. Add to this a very interesting trip to Buckingham Palace, one of the afternoon BBC Proms and an evening meal surrounded by most of the cast and writers of Sherlock. Now that was different.

Normally in the past I have reviewed a few good films, so why spoil a good format!

There have been a number of blockbusters yet again and surprisingly the best was saved for last (I am sure you can guess). Here are my top films (in no order whatsoever );

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Man From U.N.C.L.E

Ant-Man

Jurassic World

Spectre

Minions

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Of course they are all action based adventure films and the ones I saw at the cinema. There were a few I missed, noticeably Steve Jobs, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Martian and a few more.  It seemed as if each movie, for me, kept on building towards one of the best kept secrets of 2015. In this day it was surprising to find that there was little real information about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Man from UNCLE started a short series of spy movies this year, along with Bridge of Spies and Spectre. The latest James Bond movie, rounded what was a very well put together story and left at least one person with a dilemma. If you wish to read my review on this film here is the link; Spectre. The Man from UNCLE was good in the sense to tried to explain the origins of the lead characters. Will there be a squeal? Bridge of Spies was one of those films I missed which was a shame, but there is always rental.

In keeping with the past few years, hard to think there was a time before them, we had the latest two Marvel films. Ant-Man introduced us to the smallest of Marvel’s characters, while the Avengers (still no Steed) came back to battle their own demons. Both films gave us more to enjoy in this growing universe, well at least to the non-comic reading part. Again I enjoyed them for differing reasons; Ant-Man was more of a comic feel, the humour fitted well as did the story. It is always difficult to present a 60s or 70s comic version so taking the best from the whole comic range seems Marvels plan. Age of Ultron on the other hand showed that sometimes it is best not to mess about with alien technology. It will lead into a series of films that could tear the audience apart.

Minions, cute, yellow, strangely understandable at times and one of those hits that was not meant to be. Why? Well they were sort of supporting characters (even in animation) that just took off. There first movie and who knows what else will turn up, was funny predictable and ok. Also returning was the Park, Jurassic one, remember that? It was a major hit of the summer and well worth it. It combined the old with new, basically the Park opened as Hammond always wanted and of course someone decided to play God and well guess the rest. Another good escape.

So finally the film of the year. You can’t argue with facts and figures, not these. Even before the film had been shown it was breaking, cinema servers and records. I have not reviewed this film as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. However I did post just one word after I watched it … Emotional. It was all that everyone has said. It did take me back and yet did not reboot as many thought. It moved forward in a logical fanshion. The sets where real, the characters believable, the effects better, the story fine, yes there might be the odd plot hole but sometimes, just sometimes you have suspend everything. It was one of the few movies I could have just sat through a second time without moving. I did in fact see it twice already and plan to see it again given the chance. Many people tend to want to find problems with any film they see, I myself see plot mistakes – take IronMan 3. However, I don’t believe in just denocensing a film just because it does not explain where character A cane from.

So what else has happened that was memorable? A number of things really including having one of my poems published in the first Keele Creative Writing anthology. Completing my first book, which is due to be published in 2016, was a major achievement. That for me, is a goal I have slowly pushed for. It won’t be to everyone’s taste and I doubt it will gain me anything other than self pride. I will be able to say  not only have I written a book but it’s a published one.

Writing has been one of the more enjoyable outlets over the past few years. I have published more blogs in 2015 than before and branched out into posting photographs and a small video. I do plan on producing another short video in 2016.

To close then. 2015 another year to talk about.

Roll on 2016.

Tagline:’Are we there yet?’