Thoughts and ramblings

Film, Bolton Wanderers, Journalism

Archive for January 2009

Aren’t stereotypes great?

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Two German guys have just moved into the house that I’m in, and happily live up to all the lovely stereotypes we have.

Bit of German sausage anyone?

Who doesn't want a bit of that?

Who doesn't want a bit of that?

And of course some Frankfurters

Sausage? SAUSAGE?
Sausage? SAUSAGE?

Anyway they seem like nice guys, this just made me giggle. I’ll have a look for the sauerkraut and lederhosen tomorrow 🙂

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Written by bjobbo

January 21, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Halloween DVD review…and a bit of analysis

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Halloween (spelt wrong) poster

Halloween (spelt wrong) poster

Halloween

is one of the horror movies that is considered by many to be a classic. It follows Michael Myers (no, not the guy from Wayne’s World and Austin Powers) on his killing spree of promiscuous young females.

*SPOILERS*

I think that one of the main successes of the film is the opening half-hour or so. The way that Carpenter makes Michael appear in and out of shots is fantastic. While the plot is being set-up, the camera gives us plenty of travelling room so that our eyes can wander and make us wonder where Michael may be. Great stuff. Keeps you interested and keeps your eyes darting round the screen looking for that mask.

As part of my media studies A-level, we were told to analyse the opening of Halloween. I remember our tutor absolutely loved the film and could analyse the film to death. The opening scenes are very poweful – but they aren’t perfect.

Some of the direction in the sequence is crap. I love the idea of the opening being shot in one single take, and it works well – until the vital kill scene, where the camera cuts away to a shot of the hand with a knife going from left to right, just so the actress can pour some ketchup over herself. Crap. And if you see the film, watch the parents of six-year-old Michael when he walks out onto the pavement. God knows what Carpenter said to them to make them act like a piece of Ikea’s finest.

So the film plods on with some good performances, some good gory stuff and a vaguely satisfying ending. But, why is the mask never discussed even a tiny bit in the dialogue? And how did Michael come to sound like Darth Vader? WTF is up with that asthma? Mark Kermode said that bad guys have respiratory problems because underneath a mask, the actor has nothing to do. And I agree. But some kind of dialogue along the lines of “Oh by the way he was burnt in a fire at the mental hospital, that’s why he breathes like a pair of broken bellows.” But nope.  I could ramble on, but I don’t wanna bore you to much.

Anyway, I’d recommend it for the first half hour at least, ’tis a fun game playing “spot the murderer.”

Written by bjobbo

January 16, 2009 at 12:29 am

Multi-media north-west

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The Manchester Evening News has a separate digital channel, also available online, Channel M. Footage is used from the channel on the site, and maybe due to the size, the MEN isn’t the best example to use for multi-media journalism. None of the print journalists I spoke to knew much about multi-media content or gave it much emphasis. Despite the fact that the Channel M news team and the MEN reporters were within spitting distance of each other, there was very little conversation between the two groups. God knows how stories were broken effectively through print, online and TV. They seemed very separate, very distant, very particular and protective of the medium they were working on. I spent a day with Kevin Duffy (see mid-way down the page) who was covering some of the build-up to the congestion charge vote. He had a career in newspapers, was offered a role in Channel M, and took it with both hands whilst it was still in its formative state. He hasn’t looked back. He said that as long as you can write then you’ve got a future. He seemed happy in his job, and although he loved newspapers, I don’t think that he would go back to papers. Maybe TV is the way forward for jobs in journalism?

So onto the Bolton News, which had a much bigger emphasis on the journalists using technology to add to their stories. I heard “Can you take the camera out with you (to take some footage)?” a few times from the news editor, which I think is fantastic. The Bolton News took the North West Newspaper Award for Daily Newspaper of the Year last year, and I think the idea of “Could we take some footage/audio/pictures from event X” is only useful. Rather than think “Let’s employ specialist video journalists,” the Bolton News journalists edit footage themselves, and the mind-set of “How many angles can we take with this story” is the way forward and is the mind-set that I feel is promoted by Andy Dickinson. This is definitely the future for local newspapers who want to expand online who do not have the resources of the MEN.

The Lancashire Telegraph…Well, not much multi-media there. In fact if there was any going on there I didn’t see it. The print journalists were too busy finding five NIBS per day to bother with any kind of multi-media. Is it a coincidence that they weren’t nominated for any regional awards?

What do you think?

Written by bjobbo

January 15, 2009 at 12:40 am

Future of journalism

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As part of my course, I had to organise some work placements at newspapers. I booked three one-week placements at the Manchester Evening News, the Bolton News and the Lancashire Telegraph. After my time there, my passion for journalism has waned.

My week at the MEN didn’t start well. I drove into Manchester (don’t ever do this at rush hour) and parked at this car park. My coat fell out of my car. Into the mud. 15 minutes before I was meant to start. So I cleaned myself up as best as I could and headed for the office. Shaking hands with your news editor while trying to maintain as much eye contact as possible so that they don’t notice how filthy your hands are isn’t the best way to introduce yourself. I think you know it’s not going to be a good week when it starts like that.

As far as I could tell, the reporter who seemed to do the most work didn’t leave the office once in the week that I was there. At university, we are encouraged to carry out as many face-to-face interviews as possible. I think that is the right way to go, but there just isn’t enough time for journalists to do so. Much better information is gathered face-to-face interviews, the interviewee feels much more comfortable and body language is a major part of conversation, and is severely missed in telephone conversations.

So, onto problem number one with the industry – journalists don’t have enough time to do…erm…journalism. When I was at the Lancashire Telegraph, the news editor was very keen for the journalists to do around five NIBs (news in briefs) a day. Finding and writing these takes a hell of a lot of a journalist’s day. These mainly consist of press releases. Not news.

I think for the future of the local press there should be a distinction between “news” and “community affairs”, which make up a large number of the press releases that journalists receive. These consist of tea dances, council meetings etc. They aren’t news, they are more like notices.

This is a pretty simplistic idea, but I think that there should be a change in the mindset of newspaper design, where NIBS are given much less weighting. If NIBS were confined to one page of the newspaper per day, more of what the journalists have written can be printed and less cut out. The resulting design would be something similar to nationals e.g. one/two stories per page.  If NIBS were cut out, more space could be placed in more prominent areas of the newspaper, which would generate more revenue.

Anyway, this is just the first of a series of ideas about the future of journalism, and my experiences as a student journo. In the meantime, check out Andy Dickinson’s predictions for the year.

What do you think?

Written by bjobbo

January 14, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Teeth DVD review

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Teeth poster

Teeth poster

Teeth is a scrungy, rough and ready horror, that unlike so many recent horror films has a sense of humour and wit. Jess Weixler plays Dawn, a teenager with, ahem, teeth, who has taken a vow of celibacy until she marries. She is a modern embodiment of the the dentata myth – normally associated with another word which I’m not going to write. The film follows Dawn on her experiences with other horny teens.

Teeth is one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen in a long time. Mitchell Lichtenstein has done what he can with little resources and made a film that harks back to the video nasties in fantastic fashion. Although not much visual horror, what is shown is done in a very simple but effective way through prosthetics and bone-tingling sound effects. Lovely stuff to get you squirming.

It knows it isn’t an ideas movie, it knows it can only do so much. But what it does, it does perfectly well. It’s so refreshing to see a horror film which doesn’t feature wriststraps, masks or bloody long knives. Take Hostel 1 and 2 for example, which are both terrible films. They are exploitative without a cause, regurgitate other ideas, and are generally boring because of it. There’s only so much blood and guts one can take. There’s no suspense, and the characters are so easy to hate, there’s nothing to keep interest in the film. Jess Weixler has a great screen presence, and she seemed very confident as Dawn. It helps that she is gorgeous though. Heather Graham lookalike anybody? Anyway, go watch the film. Don’t take a hot-dog though…

 

 

Written by bjobbo

January 14, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Film

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Spinal Tap DVD review

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I went into Spinal Tap with high expectations – it’s appeared on plenty of  “best ever” and “top 100” lists. The DVD cover has a quote from the BBC, bizarrely, stating that it’s the “funniest film ever made.” Sorry, whoever from the BBC wrote that, but it isn’t.

I was very disappointed with the film. The film has been built up too much in the lists to have any sort of clout. Comedy is a unique genre – what is funny to one person may not be to another. If a film is said to be controversial (e.g. 9 Songs), then most people will find it controversial. Comedy isn’t the same. I like the League of Gentleman. I think The Mighty Boosh is shit. Both are described as alternative comedy, but the range not just in comedy but in alternative comedy is massive.

So, apart from the two clips that are rolled out on all the clip shows (Turn in up to 11 and lick my love pump), there isn’t much that sticks in the memory, very forgettable, just another film. I think Pick of Destiny is a funnier film in the stupid-rock variety, which has many more memorable scenes and doesn’t have that much hype dragging it down. Spinal Tap collapses under its own critical mass, it can’t live up to all the lists it heads.

So, it’s good for a few laughs, but there are many, many other comedies where the gags are better and more frequent. My next review, Teeth, is a much funnier, and much better film.

Written by bjobbo

January 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Posted in Film

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