Monday, 29 December 2008

The Potato Farm's Film's Of 2008.

As usual, making an albums of the year list is proving to be unbearably tricky (Why do I fret so much about it? It's not like anyone but myself actually cares.) so I decided to do one for my films of the year. This was meant to be a good old numerical list, but there are four films that I cannot choose between for favourite. I put it to the rest of the team, but they are all still Christmas boozing. Therefore I have abandoned the idea and decided that The Potato Farm's film of the year is a four-way tie between:

*The Dark Knight
For my money the best comic book adaptation film ever made. A phenomenal film that is really more about the human condition (that sounds REALLY wanky, but I can't think of a better way to say what I want without using about 500 words) than about a superhero story. Also shows that Heath Ledger was a really fucking good actor and it is a real shame he died so young.

*No Country For Old Men
In which the Coen Brothers managed to make a lot of their old tricks seem fresh by doing them in a style they hadn't done before, making a 'serious' film. Showed that they are not one trick ponies and have real broad film-making talent. (before slightly ruining it by returning to type with the very disappointing "Burn After Reading")

*There Will Be Blood
An epic tale of an oilman's greed and the questionable morality that goes hand in hand with it. Wonderfully countered by an extreme of the other side of morality, the fundamentalist Christians and their local church. I do not use the word epic lightly, you really feel like you live through something watching this. See? This film is so good, that I can't talk about it without sounding like a total wanker.

*Waltz With Bashir
Billed as an 'Animated Documentary', it kind of blurs the boundaries between documentary and a based-on-a-true-story film, with the central character trying to remember his own past. The film looks amazing, it sounds amazing and the unfolding of the story and the journey of the main character is strangely involving for a film that feels so distant. A truly awesome film.

There Will Be Blood & Waltz With Bashir would also jointly get the Potato Farm's soundtrack of the year accolade, with superb and emotive scores from Jonny Greenwood & Max Richter respectively.

The next post will be the 250th Potato Farm post.
"Ooooh, what will he do this time? Will he put a photo of his knob up? A video clip of him having a poo? Will he eat a tramps verruca? Will he train geese to use his laptop and write it for him? Will he channel the spirit of a lion and write a rambling incomprehensible mess? Will he perform surgery on an elephant calf? Will he reform the 90's boyband Let Loose, write a pop song and get them to perform it as his 250th blog? I just don't know, the possibilities are endless!"
Well no, they're not really. I don't know what I'll do for it, but I do know one thing. It will probably be pretty boring.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I Wrote A Post Today...

...and it wasn't that great. I mean, I liked it fine enough but it just didn't seem to fit with this blog. I think I've become a little bit precious of this blog because this is by no means the first time this has happened and it really annoys me whenever it does coz I just delete what I've written and feel a bit down for no reason I can really put my finger on; so today I set up a new blog on Posterous where all these little offcuts will now go. It may end up being total rubbish, but I'm giving it a go and seeing if it works out. If anyone's interested, the address is:
There is a new little link to it at the top of this blog too. I already don't like the address, but it's too late to change it now. Balls. Oh well.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Axl's Weird New Obsession.

In the last few days I have become a little obsessed with the idea that the Queen is going to die soon. I keep clicking 'refresh' on the BBC News website just in case it's been announced in the last 3 minutes or so. I have absolutely no idea why this random obsession has popped into my head, but it won't leave. I find myself wandering into daydreams about what the public reaction will be, what the papers will say, how the tv news will report it. Even now, while writing this, I've had to check BBC News again incase it has happened in the 19 minutes since I last checked.

What the fuck's wrong with me? It's not like I even like the Queen so it's not a fear, but it's not like I want her to die or am looking forward to her dying or anything, and I'm certainly not claiming to be predicting anything, or that I'm getting a premonition or some shit like that. I just don't understand this weird obsession I have gotten about this.

Is this really strange? It feels really strange.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Things I Have Seen Today.

1. The cover of the forthcoming Animal Collective album.

which kind of freaks me out a little. The optical illusion doesn't work quite as well on here, but trust me, look at it and focus for long enough, it'll fry your brain!

But just in case it doesn't, go here: :where for some reason it is bigger and more effective. I don't why mine isn't that big, this is where I got it from after all.

2. This:

which came with the caption "Members of South Korea's ruling party spray fire extinguishers at opposition members as they try to break into a committee room, in a row over new free trade laws with the US."
See, that's the problem with UK politics. It's too stuffy. Too prim and proper. We need more fighting. More rukus. I personally think that the next general election should be held as a special edition of the TV show 'Gladiators'. There'd be no scandals, no allegations of vote rigging or improper campaign practices or any of that shit. Plus NO-ONE would fuck with a Prime Minister who won that.

3. Possibly the greatest music video EVER!!!

Seriously, find one better than that. You can't can you. NO!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Axl Has Been Unwell Today.

I've said unwell, coz if you put ill with the i as a capital, it kind of just looks like I'm saying I've been 3 today. While I have been feeling poorly, I don't feel that I have reverted to childhood, and certainly not to being a toddler. No, I've just spent all day feeling like a very strong invisible man has been squeezing my head. Good job it was the day after my exam.
Yes, I had an exam yesterday. I worked out that it's my first exam for nine and a half years. I was totally bricking it, but I think it actually went ok. I don't wanna jinx it, but I think I've done well enough to pass. Half of it was analysing one from a selection of pieces that we hadn't seen before, and I have to say it helped that one them was a poem about female masturbation. Think I'm exaggerating or reading too much into it? Go here; ;and tell me it's not about how she thinks sex becomes boring and women should just have a wank instead.
I watched the news today. Oh boy, did they pile it on thick with the fact that that guy who did those bomb attacks at those airports was a doctor. The guy doing the BBC six o'clock news had to say something like "He was trained to care for the sick and needy, but today Bilal Abdullah was found guilty of trying to harm hundreds of people..." about three times. Sorry, when did TV news become presented in the style of The Jeremy Kyle Show?! Look, I'm certainly not saying that what he was trying to do wasn't terrible, and potentially horrific, but seriously, why is the news being presented to us in this way? What is the point? Are they trying to make us fear doctors from a non UK background? Or doctors in general? It seems to be just one step away from actually shouting "NO ONE IS SAFE! WE CAN'T EVEN TRUST OUR DOCTORS ANYMORE!"
But then you see the story on the BBC news website, and there's none of that. There's just a well written, detailed report, with some background and some words from officials and people connected. So why when reporting on the TV does it have to turn into a Fox News/Daily Mail style glorification of fear?! Why can't we have the intelligent journalism on the TV aswell? Is that really too much to ask now? A lot of people knock the BBC, but when it comes to news reporting and journalism, they are pretty much the best at it. Why, why, why are they dumbing down like this? It's not like they have to pander to what advertisers or sponsors want, so why are they being like everyone else? I don't want this sensationalism from the BBC, I just want the fucking NEWS, which is what they above all others are supposed to be able to give us.
I've forgotten what else I wanted to write now. Oh, if any of you think I'm over-exaggerating the sensationalism of BBC news, go here; ;and check out the absolutely hideous new advert they've come up with. I would comment on this advert further, but Blake's already done a pretty good job of it here; ;which was written before it was available on YouTube.


BBC's Sound Of 2009

At HMV's Christmas piss-up, Grundy commissioned me to do a blog - ok, he didn't pay me or anything, he just told me he wanted me to. That's good enough for me, ok? - in which I listen/watch/check out the BBC's Sound Of 2009 Longlist, and give my opinions on the acts selected. He wrote one himself - and wanted to know what mine would be like if I did one. So, now that I'm done with stressful assessment writing and my exam, I feel I can devote enough time to this project, so here goes. The bands are listed in the order I listened to them in. The songs I listened to by them are in brackets.

1. The Big Pink. (Too Young To Love)
How can a meeting of My Bloody Valentine, and classic Chemical Brothers sound this boring? This is really unimaginative stuff.

2. Dan Black. (Yours)
Ok, both songs so far have sounded like they were made in the mid-late nineties. This one is obviously influenced by Big Beat. Like The Big Pink tho, it just sounds like a pale imitation of it's influences, and a bit like something you'd find on a more recent Chemical Brothers album.

3. VV Brown. (Crying Blood)
Ok. Looks like 2009 is actually going to be the revival of the nineties. Another heavily Big Beat influenced song. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out Norman Cook produced this. Another pretty boring song.

4. Empire Of The Sun. (Walking On A Dream)
That's the guy from Sleepy Jackson!! This might be good.
Oh dear it sounds like MGMT.
I fucking hate MGMT.
Go back to doing Sleepy Jackson please.
And stop looking like Adam Ant's bastard offspring.

5. Florence And The Machine. (Dog Days Are Over)
Ah, these are the lot that have already been confirmed for a Brit award. New Band Most Likely To Line All Our Wallets or something.
How does it sound?
Oh, I've heard this before.
They sound just like Bat For Lashes.
But shit.

6. FrankMusik. (3 Little Words)
Electro-pop. Very 80's. This is exactly the kind of song that is kind of annoying now but will grow on me after a while and kind of already is. When I started writing that sentence I wasn't liking it, but by the end of it I had a smile on my face. Hang on, I'm gonna listen to it again.
Yeah, I like this one.
Best song so far by miles.

7. Kid Cudi. (Day 'N' Nite)
Not really sure what to say about this one. It's the kind of slightly bland chart oriented urban club tune that'll probably be pretty big. It's not good or bad really, it just exists.

8. La Roux. (Quicksand)
Electro-pop again. This time it is actually just annoying and not very good. In fact it's incredibly annoying.

9. Lady GaGa. (Just Dance)
Looks a bit and sounds a bit like Christina Aguillera. American pop. Awful lyrics. Unimaginative backing track. Another song on this list that is just pretty boring. And it's too long.

10. Little Boots. (Meddle)
She's got a Tenori-On!! Bitch, I want one of those!!
Reminds me of someone, but I can't remember who. I kind of like this one. It's a bit like how Florence And the Machine, from earlier in this list, should sound. Pretty simple piano and beats based song, with a little stylophone too, that's pretty good.

11. Master Shortie. (Dead End)
"I lay low like a futon."
Nice funky backing track. Pretty talented UK MC. This is a good track.

12. Mumford & Sons. (Feel The Tide)
This guys voice is fucking annoying. It's not particularly bad or anything, just annoying. Which is actually a really good account of the song in general.

13. Passion Pit. (Sleepyhead)
This is a cross between MGMT, TV On The Radio, Avalanches, early Lo-Fidelity Allstars, with some Italo synth and some US R&B style let's-sample-a-voice-but-put-the-pitch-up-really-high. It's a fucking mess.

14. The Temper Trap. (Sweet Disposition)
The guitar intro sounds a bit too close to U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" for my liking. In fact they carry on sounding a bit like U2, but without the grandeur. U2 if covered by TV On The Radio. It sounds pretty bland, which is probably why TV On The Radio have never done a cover of a U2 song.

15. White Lies. (To Lose My Life)
Sounds like a goth Killers. Chorus sounds like a rubbish Editors. It's very easy to see why those are the 2 bands the BBC article compares White Lies to. This is shit.

Well if that's the sound of 2009, then 2009 is going to sound four-fifths BORING. Grundy did a top three at the end of his post about this. I will steal that idea and do the same now:

1. FrankMusik
2. Master Shortie
3. Little Boots

And they are the only three that I actually liked. Everyone else was either a bit boring, or a bit shit. I think Grundy was hoping I would do a more interesting post than this, but the fact is there just isn't a lot to talk about here. I've already forgotten most of the acts, because they're just not very good. Most of them are simply inoffensive and bland. Here's to a pretty dull 2009 then, if this list is to be believed.

If you want to check the list out yourself, it's here:

Sunday, 14 December 2008

More Films.

My time has been taken up with writing my assessment prose piece for my course, so I haven't had a lot of time for blogs and the like. So here's some more films I've seen in the last 2 or 3 months and what I thought of them, for no reason other than I really enjoyed doing it last time.

Burn After Reading - (Warning; I think this review may contain a couple of spoilers.) The latest Coen Brothers film. After the stylistic change of "No Country For Old Men" (which was SO so good), they clearly wanted to make another "Coen Brothers film". Now, I love the Coen Brothers and the trailer had got me a bit excited, as all the Coen Brothers tricks were in there. However, as "In Bruges" proved that a bad trailer does not necessarily mean the film is bad, "Burn After Reading" is proof that a good trailer does not mean the film is good. Now, in trying to make a more recognisable Coen Brothers film, they have thrown every Coen Brothers cliche into this film not seeming to worry about how loosely tied together they all are. So we have yet another Coen Brothers film about someone holding something for ransom, yet another Coen Brothers film about bungled transactions, yet another Coen Brothers film about ordinary people getting out of their depth, and yet another Coen Brothers film with Frances McDormand in it. Yet another with George Clooney in it for that matter. Along the way we are expected to believe that a) a woman would be so desperate for plastic surgery that she is willing to murder someone, and b) that anyone would want to even touch the character played by Tilda Swinton, let alone sleep with her. So yes, it is yet another Coen Brothers film of totally improbable circumstances.
None of which would matter if this was actually good. The problem is that it just comes across as trying so hard to be a "Coen Brothers film", that they've made sure all their classic tricks are in there at the expense of any sort of cohesion or coherence. It's a just a bit messy, and feels like very little actual thought has been put into it, which is an opinion backed up by the total cop-out of an ending they've tagged onto this film because the silliness went too far to properly finish it.
There is one good thing though; Brad Pitt. He is excellent in this film. It is almost watching for him, but once he's not in the film any more, the film really spirals into the realms of the truly ridiculous.
I was disappointed. This is no Big Lebowski. It is however not as bad as Intolerable Cruelty.

Hang on, these are meant to be short snappy reviews. I'll try to do better now;

The Lives Of Others - Won an Academy Award for best foreign language film. Definitely deserves it. It is a superb film about communist East Germany in the eighties. It's a film about rebellion, relationships, infidelity & power corruption. It is extremely good. If you haven't seen it, please do. It is brilliant. I could waffle on for ages about it, but just watch it yourselves.

Kids - I remember the controversy surrounding this film when it came out, but never actually saw it until a couple of weeks ago. It is without doubt one of the worst films I have ever seen. The key scene, the scene that sums the whole film up, is when a group of boys are talking about sex, at the same time that a group of girls are also talking about sex. The scene cuts between the two groups conversations, and it dawns on you that every single person in this film is a total utter prick. There is absolutely nothing to like about any of them. So essentially this is a film showing a day in the life of people there is absolutely no chance of you caring about. Pointlessly unpleasant, with only a thread of a storyline that most of the time doesn't seem to actually matter. I cannot put across how much I hated this film.

A History Of Violence - I've never been a fan of David Cronenberg, but I remember that when this came out, the reviews made me want to see it. I bought it on offer one day, and never got round to watching it. It sat in my bedroom for a good couple of years before I finally got round to watching it.
This film has absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. You don't have to think about anything in this film as it is all so blatantly spelled out to you, that in fact it is kind of off-putting. If you don't know exactly what is going to happen in this film the moment that Ed Harris' character calls Viggo Mortensen's character by another name, then quite frankly you are a total idiot. And if you don't know the kind of thing that's going to happen before that then there is no hope for you. This film is so in your face that you start to feel a little violated with the blatantness of it.
As much as I found wrong with this film, I actually did kind of enjoy it. Viggo Mortensen is very good, and the satisfaction of the moment coming that you've been waiting for for ages actually happening, is strangely satisfying. There is a scene in a school which similarly you can see coming a mile off, but is really satisfying to see happen anyway. In the end, this is an enjoyable, well made but brainless film, no matter how intelligent David Cronenberg would like you to think it is. It is certainly a hell of a lot better than;

Eastern Promises - which is pretty dire. Similar to "Kids", this film has absolutely no-one to care about in it. Similar to "A History Of Violence", it has absolutely no subtlety. This film however doesn't really have the pay-off moments of AHOV. And it isn't fun. Not in a "Babel" not-necessarily-nice-to-watch-but-is-really-fucking-good way, in a oh-God-this-film-is-really-boring way. "Eastern Promises" is dull. If it weren't for Viggo Mortensen, it would be virtually unwatchable. Naomi Watts who is normally very good, is just not given a chance to be anything other than bland, playing a character with no noticeable personality. Which is irritating.
This film for me, backs up what I've always said about David Cronenberg. Which is that he's rubbish. Seriously, I don't care what any of you say, "Videodrome" is fucking lame, and "Crash" is a steaming sack of horseshit. AHOV is enjoyable, but I wouldn't call it good, and "Eastern Promises", zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............................... apart from the scene where Viggo fights the two blokes in a sauna, which is awesome, but doesn't go on for nearly long enough. Which is odd considering the totally pointless gratuity of certain scenes we see before that.

In other Axl news; I have an exam on Monday. It will be my first exam for about nine and a half years. I'm shitting myself.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Writers Block.

I have totally hit a wall with my assessment piece, so here are some short reviews of some films I have seen recently, new and old:

Waltz With Bashir - ACE! Looks phenomenal, and I found it refreshing and very interesting. I find it hard to write about things that I love as much as I loved this film (The fact that it was about 2 or 3 weeks ago that I saw it probably doesn't help either). It did that thing to my brain where any analytical parts are switched off and I was just engrossed in it. This and Dark Knight are my favourite films of the year. (Yes, I thought it was even better than The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, which the regular among you may remember me gushing over a few months back)

Rome: Open City - Subtitled back in a time when it was seemingly deemed only necessary to translate the dialogue that's essential to the story, which is disconcerting at first, but once you get used to that it's an interesting account of how Italy was during the second world war, and shows that actually Italians weren't necessarily particularly happy about living in a fascist regime.

Double Indemnity - Micaela made a point when we watched this that it could be seen as more of a comedy than a thriller. Either way, film noir or black comedy, it's a quite good film. Enjoyable but not, for me, particularly memorable. Apart from the fact that the main guy in it looks pretty damn cool lighting matches with his fingernail, and is almost constantly smoking. How times have changed, eh? Oh, and the main woman in it who is supposed to be so attractive that a man is willing to murder for her, isn't actually very attractive at all.

Gommorah - Gom-BORE-ah.

Brazil - Yes, the Terry Gilliam film. Yes, I hadn't seen it until last week. Now, there may well be a backlash against this opinion, but I was disappointed by this film. I love Terry Gilliam's imagination and absolutely loved Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, Twelve Monkeys and work with Monty Python. However, I found Brazil kind of boring. And it was too long. There were some very funny bits and I can't fault the look of the film at all, it looks incredible, but the content of the film is just so overstretched, and I don't think it's anywhere near as profound and meaningful as it thinks it is. If I had a marking system for these films, this would get 3 out of 5. It's alright. If Terry Gilliam didn't have such an incredible eye though, it would have been painful viewing.

In Bruges - Proof that a dreadful trailer does not mean the film is dreadful. Seriously, did you see the trailer to this film? Awful. The film itself though is not only pretty well made but is absolutely hilarious. I honestly can't remember the last film that made me laugh this much. (Actually it might have been Dodgeball. Or Talladega Nights. Not sure though. Has there been something since then?) Colin Farrell is really good in a comic role, and Brendon Gleeson is superb. (I knew I'd seen him in things before, but couldn't remember what. A quick glance at IMDB tells me it's 28 Days Later, an excellent film, and Braveheart, a total sack of shit film.) Really worth watching, and the pretty shots of beautiful looking Bruges are very nice too thanks.

Wanted - Should be really terrible but is FAR TOO MUCH FUN!!

Can't think of any more right now. This was fun though. I will definitely do this again. Whether you like it or not.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Board Game Idea.

I've come up with a great idea for a board game. It's based on the film "Babel". 2-4 people can play. Each player can choose to be one of four characters; Cheiko - a deaf mute Japanese girl, Richard - an American in Morocco, Amelia - a mexican housemaid, or Anwar (I may have got that name wrong) - a Moroccan boy. In a similar vein to Ludo, each characte has their own corner of the board, unlike Ludo the characters pretty much only stay in their corner, save the occasional "Twist Cards" that come into play, e.g Anwar briefly goes into Richard's corner of the board (or vice-versa), when Anwar shoots Richard's wife. Each character has their own "Character Development Cards" that will come into play when certain squares are landed on. These will say things like "While dancing to music you can't hear (but can get a sense of rhythm to due to the physical movement of the sound in the air and the bass in the floor, as well as from seeing the movements of those around you), you see your best friend copping off with the guy you really fancy. Run away and miss a turn.", or "You have just helped your possibly-bleeding-to-death wife have a piss in a bowl. You suddenly become really inexplicably turned on and passionately kiss her in a way you probably haven't done for years. This simple act has not only reinforced your renewed feelings of love towards her, but has also rekindled your desire for her in a way you don't quite understand. Roll again." The winner is the first character who plays out their plotline to the end first.

Now, what's the first thing you notice about this idea? Yes, that's right. It's not a great idea at all. In fact it's a really really shit idea. It would be like making a film about Snakes & Ladders. Or Ludo. Or Mouse Trap. Or Monopoly.


Firstly, how?!?! How the hell are you gonna get a film out of Monopoly?! I can't wait for the chase sequence after someone parks on Go To Jail Corner without authorisation. Or the incredible dialogue;
"Goddammit! I only just got paid and now I've been hit with a tax bill so it's all gotta go back, and I'm probably gonna end up having to pay to stay at one of my Grandma's houses on the next leg of my journey!"
"Yup. I been there man. My aunt just got a fancy new hotel on Fleet Street. Still charges me full rates whenever I gotta stay there. And just after that ridiculous lottery system of payin' the water bill. I tells ya, if I hadn't come second in that beauty contest the other day, I'd be penniless."
"Yeah, the water and electric billing sucks. What do you do for a living anyway?"
"Me? Oh, I just walk around. I'm a walker. I just go round certain parts of London, stayin' in places. Then, everytime I get past Mayfair on my way back round to Old Kent Road, I get paid. Simple as that."
"You don't say! Hey, I'm a walker too!"
"No way! HA! What are the chances, eh?"


Think I'm making this up?

Oh, and if that doesn't convince you;

I wanted to write more in this post, but I'm gonna have to cut it there for the mo. I want to write more, but I'll probably forget.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Last Night.

I had a dream last night that there was a scandal because they had made Spiderman 4 but had dubbed over Kirsten Dunst's dialogue with Salma Hayek's voice.

I'm pretty sure this means I was abused as a child.