The future of documentary film-making? – Published: 28 Apr 2010

Prison Valley is a documentary you watch online. Only, you don’t just watch it, you sort of play it too. Beyond the short, elegantly shot intro, you must then create an account to proceed.

What happens next is completely engrossing and immersive. As you click around and begin your exploration, you start to think this is how documentaries must be made now. It’s like when they added sound to silent movies, the future of docos is here.

It was all done, as far as I understand, with a digital slr camera and some tremendous skill and research.

More background about the project here…

The French duo David Dufresne and Philippe Brault decided to produce a documentary on the issue of incarceration in Colorado.

But, they didn’t just throw up a passive, hour-long, badly compressed web video. Instead, the end product became an interactive documentary with user-submission tools throughout and availability on multiple platforms…


Memoirs of a Geisha, with interruptions – Published: 19 Mar 2010

Modern life is rubbish, we all know that. And we’re comfortable with it.

Part of the rubbishness is that everything is fragmented now. We don’t watch telly together anymore, because unless it’s an app on our phones were not interested.

Except that isn’t the case. We still want to sit down to watch TV.

It’s the TV channels that are a mess, not the audience. Here’s what I mean…

Watching Memoirs of a Geisha the other day on FIVE made me realise why I no longer trust the TV to give me TV.

Memoirs of a Geisha tells a huge story. The titular Geisha, who has loved a man since she was a child, has lived through horrors, war, revenge, exploitation and a form of crushing tradition that’s hard to imagine, finally comes together with the man her heart always yearned for.

It’s a tearful, joyful moment in an enchanted garden. They finally kiss! And as if out of respect, the camera bows to the reflection in the pond. Then, right on cue, this pops up…

Extreme Fishing with Robson Green

I was so bewildered I paused it and took this picture. And then I blogged it via a special phone app.


A visitor‘ left this comment on 27 Aug 10
Because the audience will all be reaching for their remotes to see what high quality, yet affordable, jewellery is available on QVC NOW! unless they are informed RIGHT THIS MINUTE that Robson Greene is riding over that hill to save your viewing pleasure, like Gandalf at Helm’s Deep, bearing aloft his shining (extreme) fishing rod.
And now some childishness… 

Simon Russell Beale

Who wouldn’t fall about laughing three quarters of the way into Simon Russell Beale’s rather good series Sacred Music after hearing this….?

Simon Russell Beale mp3.

Total Film – Four Stars **** – Published 28 Sep 2008

Has anyone ever noticed how movie magazine Total Film gives (more or less) every single big budget film a review of four stars

Total Film

Total Film ****

If you don’t care about integrity, it’s actually a great idea. 

Every major film release can count on this one reasonably positive endorsement from this one reasonably well-known movie magazine. Distributors can breath a sigh of relief and slap it on their poster.

Total Film can count on remaining reasonably good friends with the stars, get reasonably good publicity by appearing on all those posters and continue to be reasonably sure of being invited to all the junkets.

As a business model I’d give it (yes) four stars.

Close Encounters of the Morrison’s Kind – Published: 17 Aug 2008

It’s one minute to eleven on a Sunday Morning and dozens of people have assembled at the doors of Morrisons, Shepherds Bush. People from yards around, acting on impulses they can’t explain, have felt compelled to come to this place, to watch and wait….


Then suddenly there’s a bright light, strange humanoid forms appear at the dazzling portal… There’s a sudden rush of air, the smell of fresh bread and not so fresh fish… Perhaps this is where Spielberg stood when he had his idea for…

close encounters of the third kind


Christian‘ left this comment on 17 Aug 08

Over-packaged Item of the Week

Astonishingly over-packaged vitamins from Morrisons. The 30 tablets you get [yes, the amount in the picture] barely cover the bottom of the thick, sturdy plastic container with an over-engineered safety lid. Well done Morrisons.

Vitamin C

Childish EPG Titters – Published: 14 Feb 2008

Live Arse on Freeview

I think you know Mitchell & Webb aren’t funny anymore when you flick to the Guide and get a bigger laugh out something like this.

Great to see Setanta Sports giving the public what they really want. Maybe this rear-end related event will trigger a turn around for the seemingly dead in the water subscription TV model.

If you had a choice of Live Arse or edited highlights, what would you pick?


He’s Back

I got a little giddy with excitement hearing there was a trailer for the new Indiana Jones film. It’s great to have this to look forward to, though with a script by George Lucas you have to manage your expectations.


Blade Runner – Published 20 Aug 2007

When you pass the Shepherds Bush Vue Cinema there’s a red LED notice board which claims: “No One Does Cinema Like Vue”.

This is true. No one does cinema like Vue. Most cinemas put some heating on, for example, or turn the lights off during the film.

I was thinking that, some time ago, possibly some years ago, I saw a cinema trailer at the Shepherds Bush Vue for a film starring Robin Williams as a satirical TV comic who becomes President. Did that one ever turn up over here? Seemed like a nice idea.

And there was a trailer for one called Outsourced, about an American who goes to India after part of his company is outsource there. He falls in love (I think) with an Indian girl and lives Bolly ever after.

Films that are promoted but never arrive… It’s like they’re messing with our minds. 

Anyway, I waffle. I just wanted to draw attention to the forthcoming Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

Here’s a trailer. Watch closely for new bits (or should that be nude bits?).


A visitor‘ left this comment on 20 Aug 07
Wicked! That’ll prolly be the first HD-DVD I’ll get.By the way, that Robin Williams film is called “Man Of The Year”, and it’s excellent.

Modern Life has pockets of sanity – Published: 4 May 2007

This struck me as kind of heartbreaking and extrememly poisitive all at once (maybe there’s an adjective that encapsulates those two concepts… no?).  

A group of Iraqi artists has transformed the grey concrete barriers, which security forces have flung up to divide Baghdad’s most violent areas, into an open air gallery of murals.

View some examples

And they’re not angy, political paintings, they’re kind of tranquil. Sort of thing your granny might have in the living room.  

Nods to good stuff

Some things I think are just plain good and worth mentioning in a blog…

1. Seeing John Oliver on The Daily Show (Comedy Central). Having seen him as a gigging comic on the London stand up scene, I get a cup-of-joy-overflowing feeling when I see him on that show doing his oh-so deadpan reports.

John Oliver

John Oliver

He’s a great export and the US audiences clearly love him. It’s a bit like the feeling of pride you get when you see that footage of the Beatles on Ed sullivan. Well-done John.

2. Two movies I saw recently just knocked me out. Days of Glory (Indigènes) is a sort of Saving Private Yassir. It’s a very powerful French WW2 film about North African Muslim men fighting along side (white, Christian) French troops against the Nazis. Very poignant to see that given the current environment.  It’s still lingering in the memory weeks after seeing it. Amazing film.

The second is The Lives of Others, an instant classic in my opinion, about Stasi controlled East Berlin. I think this will be enjoyed for generations and is also an important historical document. Got all choked up at the end, completely engrossing.

3. There’s a feature in the Guardian every Saturday showing a photo of a particular Writer’s Room . The featured writer explains what can be seen in the photo and why they have the room that certain way.

I like it because these spaces are usually messy, tatty and cluttered with nik-naks. Tidiness, I think, is for people who haven’t got anything meaningful to leave about. Mess can be good and what better evidence is there that it helps?

They are all sort of similar too. Which is odd when you thing about it. They’ve all created a space they think a writer should have, and in the same way people in supermarkets all end up speaking with the same voice over the tannoy, all writers end up in a cluttered room with an historic desk.

Except for Will Self.

Will Self’s study was hilarious, a scruffy box room with an awful view, utilitarian furniture and every bit of spare wall covered in curling day-glo post-its.

Interestingly so many writers deliberately avoid facing the window (too distracting?) even if there is a good view to be had. (I read that Philip K Dick  began renting a old shack to write in when his (third?) wife made the family home too neat and tidy.)

4. Brackets (they’re great aren’t they?). Yes.

5. Cass Art . This is a Shop, or a number of shops, in London, selling art supplies. The difference between Cass Art and other art supplies shops is that everything they sell is reasonably priced. Some things are downright cheap. Hats off to them.  

Tim‘ left this comment on 25 May 07
Sorrydweller – you were right to point that out and I actually went to rectify that problem in order to make your life, and lives like yours, easier.Sadly, what I found was there were plenty clips of John on Youtube but no Daily Show clips, at least not any where he does one of his ‘reports’.

I could quite easily have just said “Sorrydweller, there are no clips!!” making your think I had actually done the leg-work and thus making your feel bad for chastising me (albeit gently). Truth is I was a lazy-blogger. You wouldn’t get that sort of honest admission on other blogs.

A visitor‘ left this comment on 24 May 07
You missed a real trick on this particular post. I hate to say this, but if I were you I would have made the John Oliver picture an embedded link to a YouTube clip. I think that would have made a lot of sense. As it is, I have to drag my sorry arse all the way over to the YouTube site and search for the bugger. These are definitely harsh times.
We all know fly-tipping is a problem in the UK, but spare a thought for the residents of this street in Mumbai where someone dumped an old Boeing 737.