The Wrong Mans – A Slap in the Face

Sometimes a slap can be good if correctly administered, so sayeth Jim Field Smith, director and producer of new comedy series The Wrong Mans.

 

This was in response to a tweet from me telling him that the first episode, which I saw last night, was like a ‘slap in the face’.  Now, you might think that’s a bad thing, but Mr. Smith is actually correct, in this instance.

 

The Wrong Mans, new in BBC2, stars Matthew Baynton as Sam and the wonderful James Corden as Phil, ordinary people – well, sort of – who get roped into dark shenanigans (a word I don’t think I’ve ever used before) – when Sam witnesses a car crash on the way to work and picks up a ringing mobile phone which we assume is thrown from the car on impact.  When he answers it, a voice threatens to kill his (the owner of the phone) wife if he’s not ‘there’ at 5 o’clock.

 

Baynton’s character is a wimp.  His ex-girlfriend is his boss and the guy sitting across from him at work is his pain-in-the-backside.  James Corden’s character is the one in many offices who makes woeful attempts to arrange group activities, such as go-karting, but which nobody want to attend.  Bless him.  He would do your head in, but bless him.  It has a British feel – no gloss, (almost) ordinary people, silliness and a touch of slapstick.  They’re not Friends (one of my favourite comedies), nor are they Will or Grace or Charlie Harper.  They’re you and me, though we’d perhaps hope they weren’t.

 

What ensues is, basically, brilliant.  The amputation scene was so funny and you seriously want to give Sam a kick up the backside he already has a pain in!

 

So, why the slap in the face?

 

I hadn’t heard about this show.  Corden is great in most things he does, whether it’s Gavin and Stacey or his sports-based panel show.  The fact that he also co-wrote The Wrong Mans (along with the mighty Matthew Baynton) only adds to its appeal.  The majority of TV I’ve seen recently (I’m working ten hour days, seven days a week at the moment) is a combination of Bates Motel, my wife’s Coronation Street and X-Factor, and that’s mostly recorded.  As such I haven’t had the chance to see any trailers for upcoming shows, apart from Sleepy Hollow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., both of which I’m looking forward to.

 

My wife happened to be looking through the weekly TV magazine at the weekend and saw this.  As she’s a huge James Corden fan she was going to be interested anyway, but she thought I’d like it too.  It was on last night and I sat down with her.  She already had the show cued up, ready to go.  I asked what it was and she told me the name and that it starred James Corden.  Good enough for me.

 

I have to say, I loved it from the start.  It surprised me and made me laugh in equal measure.  I was overjoyed when Jim Field Smith responded to my tweet saying I loved it – and understood my ‘slap in the face’ comment.

 

I wasn’t expecting the show.  I didn’t know about it or have any idea of the plot.  It might have been rubbish.

 

So, it was a comedic slap in the face.  A shock.  A surprise.  But, in a good way.  In the way that I was gutted I had to wait another week for the second episode.

 

My wife certainly knows me.  Corden, Baynton and Smith certainly know comedy.

 

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The Lone Ranger – Has Silver Tarnished?

I don’t care, usually, if a film has been slated by critics.  In some cases – too many sometimes –  the slating is deserved, but there are plenty of times I really enjoy a film that has been pretty much derided.

 

The Lone Ranger is one of these.

 

I like to turn my brain off, as I’ve mentioned previously, and enjoy the ride.  I don’t try to work out plot lines (I didn’t see the ending in either Sixth Sense or The Others coming, and didn’t want to) and I don’t mind if there’s no deep, meaningful message – or even if there is.  I take a film on face value.

 

Even when that face looks like it might be covered in mud and bird poo, eh Mr. Depp?

 

I used to love the Lone Ranger as a child.  I’d avidly watch that and Champion the Wonder Horse on a Saturday Morning (I think!).  I wanted to be him.  I wanted a horse like Silver.  I’d sit on my dog and tell it to Hi-Ho while it squirmed and tried to escape.  The theme tune, dear ol’ William Tell, was a favourite that has easily been recognised ever since.


 

I first saw the trailer for this film many months ago at the cinema.  I can’t remember which film it was. Prometheus, perhaps?  Batman?  It was definitely before Man of Steel (great film).  Either way, I was excited.  I didn’t realise, at first, who was playing Tonto – he just looked somehow familiar.  Then I twigged and was even more excited.

 

It seemed like an age before the film came out.  Others, trailered much more recently, had been and gone and still the Lone Ranger was nowhere in sight.

 

Then…

 

So what did I think?  Well.  Depp plays Depp like only Depp can, we all know that.  But, he’s good at it.  Whether he’s Captain SparrowSweeney Todd or Edward Scissorhands, he does it well.  Granted, when he was in 21 Jump Street and ‘being introduced’ in Elm street things were different, but now he’s found himself and he’s so easily recognised.  These films made millions for good reasons, and one of those is Johnny Depp.

 

I have to admit that I’ve not seen much of anything Armie Hammer has previously starred in, apart from Reaper, a series I loved so can’t particularly comment on his overall abilities, but he does a decent job here and he and Depp work well together

 

Directed by Gor Verbinski, who brought us the Pirates films, the inventive MousehuntThe Ring and even Rango, the Lone Ranger is escapist fun.  Someone told me they didn’t know if it was meant to be a comedy or a drama.  Personally, I don’t think it’s particularly meant to be either, specifically.  It has elements of both, just like many other films.  It’s humorous rather than laugh out loud funny with a fair share of tense moments too.  I don’t believe it’s trying to be anything other than itself, an update of a classic, much loved series.

 

There are thrills and spills and even Silver has a comedic side.  Who knew trains could be so exciting, too?  It’s a good, old fashioned romp and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so why should we?


Oh, and one of the best aspects?  We have the good ol’ theme tune.  Yup, William Tell is overturing to his heart’s content.  Gotta love that!


 

My rating, as I mentioned on the R.I.P.D.review, is 9/10.  I enjoyed it, a lot.  I hope you do too.

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Jordan of the Galactic Ideas

It’s me again.  Sin.  I’m feeling a bit rough today.  I have a cold.  That’s right, Man-Flu.  Now, you ladies may mock, but ‘Man-Flu’ is a particularly virulent strain which only affects the male of the species.  Course it is…  Anywho.  Amid the sniffles and tissues (thanks Mickey), we have a new visitor.  What’s your name?

Jordan Dyball

 

Hi Jordan.  Where are you from?

Cleethorpes, somewhere in the North East Lincolnshire part of England. I never was particularly good at geography…

 

I know Cleethorpes.  Miles of sandy beaches and muddy waters.  Do you like living there?  If not, where would your favourite place to live be?   If yes, where would you least like to live?

I love it here! So many relaxing locations where I can just sit and think about my story ideas in peace! Of course, I bet you get a lot of time to simply think in the asylum! Perhaps too much…? But anyway, the place I would least like to live is in a busy city like London, as I prefer the relaxing nature of silence much more than the hustle and bustle of city life! Although, it would provide new writing ideas!

 

I’ve found London ten times busier at night than Grimsby or Cleethorpes at rush hour!  I don’t think I could live in a place like that.  Of course the asylum is mostly a sea of tranquillity, with random ripples of lunacy to break the waters.  Anyway, if you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?

I wish! Currently, I’m only a student, but I’m taking a Creative Writing course at college to help me improve my writing and hopefully to find many opportunities for new story ideas!

 

That’s great.  I know someone who could have done with a creative writing course.  It might have smoothed my journey a little!  Don’t tell him I said that, though.  Tell me about your latest project.

It is set in a faraway galaxy which four siblings rule. When a galactic war is started, it is up to these four siblings to restore peace and harmony. However, chaos erupts and the galaxy is destroyed. The story follows the journey of one of these siblings who believes she is the only survivor of the galactic war, and seeks to make peace with a new planet that sees her as a threat. Along the way, she discovers that she isn’t as alone as she once thought, and an ancient threat is reawakened…

 

Those ancient threats!  They do have a habit of awakening, don’t they?  Look at Connors – though he’s not ancient.  Nor is he awake.  Well, that comparison didn’t work, did it?!  How do you feel about bacon?  A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods.  OK, I admit that person was myself…

I’m not particularly fond of it. I eat it when I’m presented with it, but more out of being polite than that I actually want to eat it. Maybe I actually deserve to be in the asylum…

 

Not.  Fond.  Of. Bacon?  And they callme crazy?  What is your favourite film?

It is very rare that I watch a movie, because I always prefer reading books. That being said, though, almost anything by Jim Carrey is great. Especially The Mask, that movie is simply hilarious!

 

Very true, it was.  I enjoyed Liar, Liar too.  And Yes Man.  Something about a man being forced to something he can’t control…  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?

It was more something I always did for fun and for personal entertainment, and never really thought about doing it for others to read! I always loved poetry, and have written many poems of different topics, from how amazing and unpredictable life can be, to the effects of war on a survivor’s mind. A few years ago, I started to think about short story ideas, and one day I thought to myself, how about actually writing something other people will want to read? It was also the day I started coming up with the idea which has steadily evolved into the project I’m currently working on!

 

Cool.  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?

Generally, I don’t have a problem with story ideas. In fact, most of the time I have too many! I’m constantly comparing different directions my story could go, and trying to find the best one which would make the most sense! The only problem is that the times I can’t think of a good idea are normally the times I’m actually writing!

 

Oh ain’t it always the way?  And when you get the ideas, you’re not in a position to write them down!  If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?

My delusion would probably be living in my own stories! Meeting my own characters, talking to them and even maybe traveling with them would be simply amazing! I could quite easily become deluded enough to actually believe it is possible! In fact, I might already believe it…!

 

Hmmm…  You do know I’m not actually real myself, don’t you?  Or so I’m told anyway – though I am in an asylum, so I wouldn’t be too sure.  What genre(s) do you write?

Something between science fiction and fantasy, leaning more towards fantasy. I just love creating my own worlds and working out how my characters would react to all of the weird creatures that live there!

 

Sounds a lot like the asylum… and school!  What genres(s) do you read?

Science fiction and fantasy books! I do enjoy an occasional change every so often, and sometimes read a mystery book (Sherlock Holmes is a particular favourite from that genre) but always go back to a book from the fantasy or science fiction genre!

 

That’s how that Shaun Allan bloke started out – with science fiction and fantasy stories.  He moved on to darker things later.  If these are the same, what attracts you to them?  If they’re different, why do you think that is?

I suppose it is that I just love the thought of other worlds and mysterious species! Dragons, elves and dwarves are all intriguing species for me, and I love how different authors present them in different ways!

 

I’m so with you there.  I know a poem, called Escape, which talks about such things.  So.  Bacon – just cooked or crispy?

As I said before, I’m not particularly fond of bacon, but if I had to pick I would definitely go for just cooked. Crispy sounds like you’re eating the abandoned skin of a snake which it has recently shed or something equally disgusting!

 

I figured your answer would be something like that.  I was just hoping you might have changed your mind or realised you were mistaken.  And don’t diss the shed skin.  It’d be like finely cut crisps.  Yum.  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out?  Do you have an escape plan?

Possibly bribe the guards, or pretend to be sane for just long enough to get out. It probably won’t work, but ah well. If one try doesn’t work, might as well try again later!

 

I am sane, more or less, and I pretend to be insane to stay in here – you might be on to a winner there.  Good luck, anyway!

 

 

I (that’s me, Shaun, by the way), met Jordan whilst giving the poetry workshop at the wonderful Humberston Academy in June (the results of which are on this blog).  He seriously impressed me with his work, both fictional and poetic.  I loved how his own love of writing in all forms was promoted and encouraged by the school.  I’m very sure we’ll be hearing a lot from Mr. Dyball in the future.  It was a sincere pleasure to meet him.


You can find Jordan in Twitter at @Jordan_Dyball

 

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Stairway to Heaven

Music makes the world go round, isn’t that the saying?
 
Oh, no.  That’s money.  I don’t know if I agree.  I think it’s music.
 
Oh, and love, of course, but I’m a hopeless (hopeful?) romantic.
 
If I didn’t have money – and I don’t, much (lol) – I’d still have music.  There’d still be songs to make me smile, emotional or upbeat.
 
But…
 
Do they make songs like they used to?
 
I saw, on Facebook, that an author friend of mine (hi Kathleen Barker) had posted a link to the Vancouver Sun website.  Now, I’ve never been to Vancouver but I assume the Sun is a newspaper there.  Or a news website.  Time limits my ability to research this fact, so my apologies.
 
Actually, I just had a quick peek.  It’s your online source of news for Vancouver, British Columbia and more.  So, hi to the people who run it, report for it and appear within it.
 
Anywho.  This link caught my interest.  Kathleen commented that she was proud to be a part of a generation that could produce such rock songs.  The link was to an article talking about a tribute to Led Zeppelin in the presence of President Obama.  Heart, the classic pairing of Nancy and Ann Wilson, were performing Zeppelin’s superb Stairway to Heaven.  The Sun was reporting how the performance, particularly one part of it, brought tears to the eyes of Robert Plant.
Now, I love this song.  For a long time, it was the only Led Zeppelin song I knew.  I am also a fan of Heart and their powerful rock ballads.  On the Sun’s page is the video of the performance, and I can easily see why Plant was moved.  There are, however, artists still touring now from the 80s (when music was music?) who can’t quite cut it.
 
One of these, unfortunately, seems to be Jon Bon Jovi.  I’ve wanted to see Bon Jovi since being young.  They’ve released some truly iconic songs, though their later work doesn’t quite match their earlier classics.  My wife has seen them a good few times and booked for us to go in June this year at the Manchester Ethiadstadium.  I was sooo excited!  James Walsh (@jamesstarsailor), one of the support acts, was excellent for a start.
Bon Jovi, however (with the absence of Sambora) were good but not brilliant.  The concert didn’t really kick in until they sang Status Quo’s ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’ and there were times Jon appeared to struggle with the more powerful bits and pointed the microphone at us, the audience, to help him along.  Of course, he’s been going a long time.  He can still do the do.  It’s just not so DO as it was.
 
I saw Howard Jones a couple of years ago at a small venue in Sheffield and he was very good.  Similarly, Cyndi Lauperin the same year proved she still has the voice (and the slightly tapped mentality) to put on a great show.  I saw Mike Tramp, of White Lion, doing an acoustic set at a local rock club, the Yardbirds (@YardbirdsRock), and he was superb.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all about the 80s!  The last Snow Patrol concert I went to was easily the best I’ve seen.  There’s 30 Seconds to Mars in November and Foxes (@iamfoxes) in about three weeks (see my previous blog post).  I’m desperate to see Bastille (love their album), and my iPhone is stuffed with everything from Dizzee Rascall to Sia to Little Monsters to Adele to Coldplay to Tired Pony to…  Well, you get the point.  All sorts.  If I like a song, I’ll whack it on there.
 
My wife and I are massive music fans.  When my daughter, now ten, was five years old, she would sing Kate Bush’s Babooshka to me down the phone.  My two year old regularly stands singing and dancing to herself, making up songs (usually to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).  It really does make, or help, our world go around.
 
Today, we have some superb artists.  Real musicians who create ‘proper’ music.  We also have manufactured conveyor belt pop that will likely be forgotten in a couple of years.
 
But, are there still groups like Zeppelin and Heart and the ‘old’ Bon Jovi?  Groups with staying power who will be remembered as heroes and icons?  I hope so.  In a few cases, I think there are, definitely.  Who do you rate, nowadays, in this vein?  Who do you think is going to either still be here or at least remembered for a lasting (positive) mark on the music world?
 
Will any be the Bill and Ted of the world – their music bringing everyone together in harmony – though without the time travel?  Who knows?
 
Anywho-be-do.  Heart and Zeppelin.  This is a performance worthy of the standing ovation it received.  Enjoy.

To see this wonderful performance, please go to:
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R.I.P.D. – Dead or Alive?

R.I.P.D. is a film where it’s not so much ‘drunk and disorderly’ as ‘dead and disorderly’!

 

I saw the first 30 seconds or so of this movie, and I was hooked.  A massively obese creature comes smashing through a door accompanied by a voiceover by Ryan Reynolds, the star of the show.  Moments later a car crashes into Mr Reynolds (is that a bad thing?), leaving him unhurt and able to carry on chasing the strange behemoth.

 

Yes, I knew I wanted to watch it.  It was my sort of thing.  Humour, effects and weird creatures.  The creature, not Ryan Reynolds.

 

Did it continue to keep its claws in me?

 

Mostly.

 

The effects in this film were, on the whole, pretty good.  There were the odd points were the CGI was a bit too CGI but, mostly, they fitted well.  Kevin Bacon with a split open head was cool.  The acting… well, a bit over the top, but it’s that sort of film.  The plot?  More of that in a mo.

 

The R.I.P.D. is the Rest In Peace Department.  They keep the Earth free of the scum of the Afterlife.  Yes, I’m paraphrasing one of my favourite movies, Men in Black.  With good reason.

 

R.I.P.D. is, basically, MIB with dead people.  But I liked that idea.  The funnel to Judgment.  The Steely Dan playing, just because (not unlike the lift muzak from MIB).  The way rookie and jaded cops appeared to us mortals.  Neat touches.  I did expect to see Rip Torn’s Z welcoming Reynolds to the fold as he walked into their headquarters, at one point.

A couple of bits were explained whilst they were happening, which was somewhat off-putting, such as who the criminal Reynolds and Bacon were pursuing was and why.  Surely he didn’t need to tell his colleagues over the radio?  No, he was telling us.  Similarly, when the gold is stolen (trying to keep any spoilers to a minimum here folks) – the device was explained as it was being used.  Just throw it in, eh?

 

But these things aside, R.I.P.D. entertained.  It was worth watching.  A different take on MIB.  It had some decent ideas mixed in with the action and effects and some of the ‘been-done-before’ set pieces.

 

I wish Jeff Bridges (this film’s Tommy Lee Jones) would have taken the marbles out of his mouth, though.  It was sometimes difficult to understand what he was saying!


I’ve been thinking of giving films a rating in these reviews.  So here goes (catching up):

 

Oz – The Great and Powerful7/10

Star Trek Into Darkness8.5/10

Iron Man 39/10

Olympus Has Fallen7/10

Pacific Rim8/10

The Wolverine (review not done yet): 8/10

Lone Ranger (again, review not done yet): 9/10

 

R.I.P.D8/10.  It was a good watch, for me.  Some things could have been done better and some had been done before, but I still enjoyed myself.  And that’s what matters.

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