I don't think I've updated in a while, so: on Thursday I made a seafood risotto using a recipe I got online by Jamie Oliver, which was actually as easy as he said it was. I decided to cook the prawns, salmon and scallops separately in a frying pan so as not to confuse things, which meant the risotto was as stodgy as a brick. Also, the recipe called for an amount of grated parmesan, but as our parmesan is powdered (it's generic 'Italian hard cheese' from Asda, in a plastic box) it ended up being ridiculously cheesy... Nevertheless, despite the fact you could build a house with it and my pans SUCK, it was actually very tasty.
Friday night was quite sedate for me, although Paul went out for drinks after work, came home (we had some more of the risotto and I still had to throw a little bit away - I think I'll halve the recipe next time...), and then went out again. I wasn't best pleased about this because I basically saw him (sober) for all of twenty minutes, but I did get the PC to myself for the evening. :P I had a play around on DOSBox and managed to get Simon the Sorcerer to work from the CD, though I am failing to get the Puzzle Pack to work because it was designed for Win 95/98 and will not install on XP or Vista, but is too advanced for DOSBox. (Although I think it might work with the SCUMMvm emulator, will have to investigate...) Got quite a way through it by remembering what I did last time but am now at a dead end again.
Paul rang me up at quarter to midnight to say he was waiting for a taxi, after which he talked bollocks at me for a while. Came home utterly plastered and hence broke his promise. :P
Saturday, we got up earlyish and went for brekkie at Wetherspoons, pottered around the house for a bit and then left for my mum's. I aimed to get there for 2.30 but hadn't banked on Hagley Road traffic (going through town is probably still bloody quicker than waiting for the 11 to turn up) and got there around 2.45. David was playing a Queen DVD and seemed to have convinced himself that Queen (circa 1985) were influenced by the Phantom movie (2004). Er, no, David. ;) Freddie was already dead by the time the movie was made, although I'm pretty sure the original musical and Queen influenced each other back and forth, judging by some of the videos...
This led to a realisation that, had he been alive, Freddie Mercury would have been a very good Phantom. At the time the producers were desperate for a 'popular' casting choice (which they then ditched for a 'young' feel instead) and hence were looking at horrible options like Antonio Banderas, John Travolta (better, but still no), or Charlotte Church for Christine (a million times, NO!) But if Freddie had been around, I think he could have done it justice; he has a very operatic voice and the stage presence to pull it off. In the absence of Michael Crawford (who would have been too ill by the time they finally filmed it), I have until now struggled to think who could have done it justice. But yes. Freddie Mercury. Ah, well. My perfect imaginary version of the movie will have to stay in my brain, directed by Baz Luhrman and Tim Burton and starring Freddie Mercury. ;)
Aaanyway, at around 3.45 we headed off for the Barbecue of Doom at Quinton Church. The horrible thought did occur that my grandmother might have invited my father and not told anyone as a 'well-meaning' surprise, but then I remembered that even if she had, he would only have refused and/or had a strop when she didn't want him to bring Annabelle... So obviously, he wasn't there, thank anything. Nevertheless, the BBQ wasn't as bad as I think my mother was anticipating. The food was good (if cold, to David's chagrin) and there were some sane people at our table, not too many screaming children, and the weather was okay (at least it didn't rain...) We won a pack of playing cards in the raffle as by the time our number was drawn, the good prizes had gone. It was either cards or a set of golf tees. ;)
Back at my mum's, we spent a good hour or so arguing over what DVD to watch, before eventually settling on 300. Paul and I intended to see this at the cinema when it was out, and - as ever - failed to do so. It's recently started playing on Sky Movies and we've both been too tired to bother, and David wanted to show off the HD player so we ended up watching it.
It's basically 2 hours of people killing each other, but at least it looks pretty. ;) The accents are a bit rambling and there are some completely mad OTT touches (like Xerxes's travelling throne) but it was nevertheless quite enjoyable. I need to re-read the m15m version now that I've actually seen it...
After that we argued a bit more over what to watch next, despite it being midnight and everyone being tired. My mum, Paul and I all agreed on Harvey, which David then denied they even had, despite Paul suggesting it because it was on the rack. Meh. In the end we watched the beginning of Eddie Izzard's Glorious but gave up at around 12.30 and went to bed. David also wanted to watch the first 10 minutes (the opening sequence, basically) of the POTO movie, which prompted Paul to want to see the rest of it... I grudgingly agreed we could watch it on Sunday. ;)
In the morning, my mum cooked us breakfast and we went through the pile of car-bootable DVDs in the office, taking home a bagful, and there's also a pile in the living room of stuff I want copying... I forget now what we picked up, but I do now have a full set of Pirates DVDs, including the "lost disc" version of the first one.
Does anyone want a copy of the 2-disc Special Edition of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (that's the first one)? Because I now have two. I'm not sure if Lisa ever bought herself a copy, though, so will ask her as well. It's free, as ever, to a good home.
I've also borrowed a selection of DS games (Tetris, Brain Training, 42-games-in-one, and Barnyard on GB Advance) from my mum, as I'm bored of Pirates 2 and Monkey Ball. ;) Had a go at Tetris and Barnyard last night, but at least I have some entertainment for a bit. :)
On the way home we stopped at the cinema to see WALL-E. Oh. My. God. It's amazing. The animation is absolutely gorgeous - in the sense that whilst it may not be the best subject matter to look at it, it's so beautifully done that you can't help but like it. The opening vista especially is brilliant: a desolate, abandoned, post-apocalyptic Earth, cluttered with skyscrapers and gigantic piles of cubed rubbish.
Okay, I was going to summarise the plot but it would ruin it. Go and see it. :P
I think Empire mentioned that this is not a film which should work. It's not a film which Pixar should be able to make and get away with it. It's not cutesy or fluffy and there are no bouncy, singalong songs. It's about humans destroying Earth and abandoning it, leaving man-made robots to do the clean-up. It's not a pretty subject matter. It's a portent of what could happen if people don't change their ways, and quite frankly, if Disney (that corporate monster) are giving us this message then we should damn well listen. I fear the inference will be lost on the youngsters, but the parents should take heed.
Some of my favourite bits were just minor, throwaway nods. WALL-E collects interesting human junk, and at one point has found a spork, and doesn't know whether to put it with his fork or spoon collection. His prized posssion is a VHS of Hello, Dolly (the film gets bonus points for having Michael Crawford in it. :P), which he plays in a rigged up machine comprising of a VCR attached to an iPod, with the screen magnified. There are items of junk from the eclectic to the downright ordinary (a Rubik's cube, a lightbulb), and amongst them are the accumulated parts from all other other dead WALL-E robots which are scattered across the landscape. Again - this is Disney. Disney don't do death unless it's parental and/or the bad guy, and not on this large scale.
As for the humans - the five-year clean-up plan has turned into 700 years, and the humans have ballooned into waddling overweight clones who can't go anywhere without their floating chairs and are too lazy to even chew their food. The Axiom (their ship) is a supposedly 'perfect' world, but the humans are too engrossed in their communication screens to even notice they have a pool.
It turns a bit Star Trek towards the end, but the animation is still quite pretty. It aims itself more at the kids at that point as well (an army of malfunctioning robots trying to save the Earth, literally, from the dead-but-overbearing super-corporation responsible in the first place) but still maintains momentum to keep it watchable.
The thing I really liked, now I come to remember, is that the 22nd-century humans responsible for the Earth having to be evacuated are played by actual actors, with the recording intercut with the animation. By the time we're 700 years into the future, the humans are blob-like caricatures instead, which I think makes the idea that we're all doomed to a future of overweight laziness all the more harsh. Also, after the end credits we are presented with the Disney ident, followed by the logo of the super-corporation in the film (Buy N Large). A self-ironic nod, perhaps, Pixar?
Go and see it. If you've liked Pixar's other stuff you will most definitely like this.
Oh, also, the film is preceded by a Pixar short entitled Presto< which is very cute and funny and worth the entrance fee alone. :) Look out for the "Civil War Re-enactment Poodles" advert during the end credit sequence. ;)
Sorry, I went on a bit, there. I was very impressed with this one. I need to make a list of stuff to see over the coming weeks, though. X-Files is out on 1 August and I also want to see The Mist and Hancock and Dark Knight - hopefully at IMAX if it's not too expensive... Also Mamma Mia. ABBA FTW, and Meryl Streep makes everything she's in brilliant. ;)
The rest of Sunday was relaxed. 'Stenders of the afternoon, and we did watch POTO of the evening. I think my hatred of the majority of it has mellowed since its release (this was only the second time I've seen it, for that reason) and whilst the same things still irk me (casting, majoritarily, and the fact that they moved the chandelier incident to somewhere completely different, for no apparent reason) I will admit that the visuals are mostly stunning. I already reviewed it the first time and mostly my opinions haven't changed. ;) You can find it in my December 04 backposts if you're desperate. :P But as a result I started to re-read the original novel, so yay. We got halfway through the insanely long documentary on the second disc before giving up at midnight, so will watch the rest of that tonight. Phantom documentaries never get old, even when they regurgitate information. The origins fascinate me.
And that, finally, is that. I apologise for the longness. Must remember to update more often, or actually do stuff in smaller batches. ;)