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Ally Clow’s January 2012 Film Round-up

“And here’s your starter for 2012, I need your answer before the gongs”

January is usually a golden month for movies yet equally forgotten too. For the critic, January’s Oscar films have been seen at festivals and any December releases that stretch over to January have been reviewed in the previous year. Their end of year lists rarely includes January films for this reason: those films have been included in the previous year’s ‘best of’ lists. For the public, it’s a catch-up month, watching those Oscar films that have been hyped over the previous twelve months and desperately watching the films on others’ best of lists from the previous year they didn’t have the time to watch. Continue reading…

Brickbat

When Liverpool overcame Manchester United at Saturday lunchtime, completing a week in which they knocked both of the top two placed teams out of the domestic cups in a week, it highlighted the momentum cup competitions can bring. Just a week earlier Liverpool were abject against Bolton, which led their manager Kenny Dalglish to be unusually critical of his players in his post-match interviews.

On most occasions interviewing Dalglish seems to be a task that is on the same list as getting blood out of a stone and asking Jose Mourinho to accept defeat with grace. But Dalglish has not always been unfriendly with the media; in his heyday as a player he made several appearances on Question of Sport, when the requisite for being a football guest was to have an international cap rather than having once appeared on a panel show, as well as making a cameo appearance as himself in the Channel 4 Drama, Scully. Continue reading…

Bonnie Prince Billy, Hackney Empire (25 Jan 2012)

Bonnie Birthday

Over the years BPB and I have been through a lot together. I’ve introduced good friends to Billy, some understand him, some don’t. Those that don’t are no longer good friends of mine.

Tonight’s a special night for lots of reasons: it’s Burns night, it’s my birthday, but more importantly Bonnie Prince Billy is playing the Hackney Empire. To be honest for all my Scottish roots I often struggle with Rabbie Burns. I prefer the Bonnie Prince Billy school of poetry. They both write of, amongst other things, blazing love, confusion, man’s wit, and questions about the meaning of it all. They both have an earthy approach to life and love, but Billy has great folk/country music and on his side. Continue reading…

London Prepares: Gymnastics

12 January 2012, The o2

As a former gymnast – well, at age of 5 I made the squad before cruelly having to relocate with my family to a place not so conducive to following Olympic dreams – I attended the ‘London Prepares’ Artistic Gymnastics with anticipation. It didn’t disappoint. Part of a series of events to put the London 2012 Olympic venues through their paces, it wasn’t just the o2 arena that was being put to the test this Thursday night; for the British Men’s Gymnastic team this event was their last chance to secure a full compliment for the home games. After a poor performance in the World Championships in Tokyo – they missed out on the top 8 – the pressure was on. To qualify they needed to finish as one of the top 4 teams. Continue reading…

Occupying Wall Street/It’s Kicking Off Everywhere

Occupying Wall Street

Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football reviews two instant accounts of 2011’s Year of Protest.

There’s not much doubt that for the foreseeable future 2011 will be remembered as the ‘Year of Protest’. When a mainstream magazine like Time selects ‘The Protester’ as their cover-story 2011 Person of the Year then something of significance is clearly happening. Though whether the last twelve months will in the long-term come to represent anything as significant as 1989’s fall of the Berlin Wall or 1968’s extraordinary mix of Paris, Prague and Vietnam is probably too early to judge. Continue reading…

The Seldom Seen Kick

Vinnie Jones, currently appearing as the face of hands-only resuscitation, made a living in various ways, including as a hod carrier, a professional footballer, and an actor. Once in the public eye he cultivated an image as a ‘hard man’, a loose term which the British Heart Foundation are currently trying to use to their advantage, as Guy Ritchie previously did. Whether players whose own livelihoods were affected by Jones’ on-field butchery, such as the former England international Gary Stevens, are laughing along with the CPR ad, is doubtful. Continue reading…

Changing of the Guard

Last night the Milan derby was broadcast in the UK on ESPN. It is one of the great fixtures of any domestic calendar, and one of the analysts, Paul Ince, was perfectly correct when talking about the stunning atmosphere – the fireworks, the overcrowding in the stands, the lighting as the teams come out, and the intensity both on and off the pitch, live long in the memory of anyone who has ever attended that local derby in northern Italy. Continue reading…

Never Say Never Again

The news yesterday that Paul Scholes is coming out of retirement for Manchester United, as if he were Clark Kent regaining his powers in Superman II in order to save Earth from his arch enemies, is surprising and yet typically bizarre in week where Sol Campbell was considered a suitable cultural commentator on Channel 4 News and Alan Green discussed football on Women’s Hour. Continue reading…

Winter

In the bleak midwinter, I suggest you curl up with a book. I realise most reserve their peak reading weeks for summer, when they’re on holiday, but reading on your sofa by the fire with a cuppa knocks spots off beach reading. Winter nights are long and dark and the weather’s mostly rotten; it’s the ideal season to get cosy and lose yourself in a book, particularly now, after Christmas, when you’ve probably overdosed on both television and human company. Continue reading…

Little Crackers II

Despite a couple of unpalatable things about Sky TV, most notably its major shareholder and the barely disguised editorial slant of some of its news coverage, beneath the surface there are a number of good things including, its excellent production and coverage of sport; its dedicated arts channel; its import of quality programmes including Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family and Romanzo Criminale; and currently, its investment in new British comedy.

Arguably it is the least the viewer could expect for excessive monthly bills on top of an hour of its flagship drama being interrupted and extended by five commercial breaks, plus movie channels where the continuity announcer deliberately talks at the start of the credits. But, it is welcome, and Sky One showed the way with its comedy shorts ‘Little Crackers’ in 2010, the Chekov comedy dramas on Sky Arts in 2011, and the commissioning of a number of new home-grown sitcoms recently.

The second set of Little Crackers follows the same format as its predecessor: an eleven minute short comedy-drama that relates back to past experiences. Continue reading…



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