Friday, 25 February 2011

Meet The Cast

Meet The Cast

You may have noticed that I've not updated my journal in a while. It's kinda hard in this post apocalyptic wasteland, to find five minutes to collect your thoughts, let alone write down what happened what seems years ago.

I've been busy, surviving. That's really just an excuse though isn't it, I may as well be honest with you. The Panto season was a very low point in a life full of low points. It kind of depresses me thinking about back then, but at the same time it does make me feel a bit better about the situation I'm in now. Sure it's bad, what with my every waking minute being haunted by my past mistakes and failures, but at least I wasn't doing Panto.

So, I left it where I'd just listened to whatever it was The Directors had told me about their messed up sob story of what had happened to them after The End.

Hagley and I followed the snivelling Pally Arvin through a myriad of corridors before winding up at a rehearsal room.

"Now..." Pally started "I'd like to introduce you to the rest of the cast, be nice now." and with that, he flung open the door to the rehearsal room and in we walked, not sure what to expect. Of course I was pretty sure I'd know 90% of the people here, but I was wrong. I actually knew 100% of the people there, or I did before The End.

Including Pope and myself it was a cast of six people. Leo East, an intelligent and witty chap before the end, was now reduced to being Widow Twanky. I say "being" as he had been acting for The Directors so long that the lines between reality and pantomime had merged into one, as far as Leo was concerned, he was Widow Twanky. The others weren't as obviously effected by The End, but I would learn soon that they had their own issues.

Then the part of the lead male, who was always played by a woman (Panto was messed up before The End!) was being performed by Izzy Book who was a great singer before The End, but that changed believe you me. The villain of the piece was played by a brummy called Ben Orlock, whose skin had turned to stone, along with his personality, and he'd spend hours telling you the same story over and over again.

Finally there was the love interest, who was none other than Hagley's younger sister Jaki. As soon as Hagley saw what was left of her sister, her mind became clear once more and she ran over and embraced her. I think Hagley was there for a whole minute before she noticed that her sister was now part arachnid. Jaki's top half was as it used to be, but her torso went into a horrible spider body complete with eight legs spindly legs.

I still remember with great sadness Hagley and Jaki's reunion. They were both happy and in despair at the same time. Hagley moved away from her sister, a horrified look of dreadful comprehension filled her face, and then Hagley just held her sister even tighter and cooed that "everything will be alright" If only she had of been correct as everything would not be alright.

"Right!" Pally almost sung out these words "It's time for rehearsals!"

As if under mind control, the four others took there places, and waited for us to join them. Hagley looked at me, and I looked at her, both of us wondering the same thing.

"Where's the script?" I asked Pally.

"Well, they used to have a script writer, but The Directors found that each pantomime was exactly the same as the last one, that all the writer had done was change the characters names. This wouldn't do, so they vaporised him and then decided to get the actors to improvise. If it's not funny, or the story doesn't make sense, well, you get vaporised. It's pretty good theatre."

The last time I had been in a pantomime was when I was about eight, and I'd played Polly the Parrot in Robinson Crusoe. The highlight of my performance was sitting at the front of the stage picking a hole in my tights as I was in a world of my own. I'd seen the theatre's pantos over the years due to friends like Ray being in them, but never really paid attention to what happened in it, I was too busy watching that people didn't steal the dog's bone or clamoring for the thrown sweets. But at least we had rehearsals so we could get it practice and come up with something.

"Ok everybody" Pally bellowed "We're going to open this show up with a dance routine, so just follow me."

Pre-End music, as it's called today (Post-End music usually is made from human screams) began playing out of speakers hidden in the room, and Pally began to show us the dance.

I had thought he wasn't a very good dancer, but The End had changed him, or he'd gotten good since I last saw him, and I mean very good. He was the best dancer that has ever lived, but he was a lousy teacher.
He did a string of a thousand moves and then clapped his hands and the music turned off.

"Hope you remember that for opening night!" He chirped

"When's that!?" I replied

"Tonight of course!" was the response, and he walked out the door.

"Come along you two" Leo in his widow Twanky voice cried "We've got to get this spot on or we'll end up like poor old Farren"

With that he pointed to the corner of the room, where a plump kid in Bermuda shorts looked blankly back at me.

"What's a Farren?" Hagley asked.

Jaki's spider legs moved her to her sister as she said "That weird kid, that's Farren. He was supposed to be having tea with the Vicar before The End, but he got roped into doing a panto. He was awful, and The Directors thought he was so bad, that instead of vaporising him, they removed his brain and replaced it with sawdust. He just sits there... staring."

"Jaki" I asked "Why the hell are you a spider"

"Shud up" Orlock pitched in "Weev not got tyme fur all thiss, weev got yan audiance!"

"That handsome man is right of course" Leo as Twanky, interjected "let's make this the best panto ever!"

I couldn't believe, yet again, how my luck had ran out. My thoughts about my wife, family, cats and friends once again resurfaced. I couldn't spend the next who knows how long, doing productions of improvised mania! I needed to get out of there. Izzy Book put her hand on my shoulder and with the deepest voice you've ever heard, told me "Don't worry man, it'll be alright on the night"

Spoiler alert, but very soon, there's a lot of death.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Still no internetz

Aloha, it feels like ages since I updated this blog and a lot has happened. I've started a new job, seen more films and written more Joapaod!

Hopefully I'll be able to sort out my internetz later on today and update y'all midweek :)

Hope you're well and not worried about the upcoming mass ejections from the sun!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Brain's Backstory

The Brain's Backstory

"Well I can only imagine what you must be thinking" a camp disembodied voice said to Hagley and I as we stared uncomfortably into the jars that contained the floating brains that were The Directors.

"Let me explain..." which the floating brain in a jar went on to do in a grand over the top fashion, but I can honestly say I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been, and certain tidbits of information may have been lost in the recesses of my brain somewhere, so I'll tell you what I can remember.

When The End happened, The Directors were having an emergency meeting at the Theatre, as the Theatre was going through a particularly bad spell. In fact it was hemorrhaging money due to the new 3D SuperPlex-Cinema that had recently opened in town.

After several ideas as to how to draw in a crowd, they were interrupted by The End! The Directors heads expanded until their brains exploded out of the top and began to float about. Floating around as a brain wasn't easy and they found that dirt and fluff started to cling to them, so they made the technical crew that were still about, make them large jars so they could float about without worry of attracting anything to their new soft forms.

They weren't just floating brains however, as they had discovered that they had gained psychic powers and began to use these powers to seek out other living beings and draw them to the Theatre. At first, these people were helped by The Directors, as it became public knowledge pretty fast that there was a group of Chavs abducting people (Ray and Shav's chavs to be precise), so the people who came to The Directors were allowed to stay in the relative safety of the Theatre.

One day The Directors thought of a great morale boosting idea. "Why not put on a show for these people?" and they did just that. They got everyone involved and they all had a great time to begin with... but after a few months, people began feeling safe again and wanted to leave the Theatre. The Directors had always wanted a captive audience and so they began to use their powers to keep the people there against their wills.

There were several escape attempts made, like Chris Haze (A small fella I knew) He had broken into wardrobe and made himself a pair of wings, got onto the roof of the Theatre and jumped off to fly to freedom. Unfortunately he fell to his death and his body was stuffed and mounted backstage to warn anyone else that if they tried anything, they would face the same fate.

Food became scarce, but the directors were able to secrete a disgusting substance from their brains, which was high in essential nutrients. So everyone had to eat whatever the hell that stuff was or they'd starve. Personally I don't know which is a worse fate, eating some unknown gloop from a floating brain or starving to death.
Fast forward a few months and most of the original people had become exhausted from the constant performances or dead, so The Directors began a search for new talent, and that had lead them to finding Hagley and I.

After that back story, we were brought back to the painful reality that three floating brains were forcing us to perform in their pantomime, like a couple of performing monkeys who could sing and dance. Any objection was futile, as they could and would kill us at any time they wished, so we both agreed to just go along with it for the time being.

"That's super, well you'd better meet the rest of the cast! Pally, would you be so kind?"

And with that, Pally Arvin lead us off to meet the cast, all of whom, surprisingly, were people I had known before The End, and a few of them would die.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Half Arsed Review: Dinner for Shmucks!

I'm a big fan of Steve Carell, I think he is hilarious in Anchorman and his portrayal of Michael Scott in The American Office is inspired and Dan in Real life, if you've not seen that, make it your next movie to view as it's amazing.

So, as you can see, I really rate Steve Carell, which means my enjoyment of this film was probably pretty guaranteed but here goes.

I saw the trailer for Dinner for Shmucks and wasn't really blown away by it. A guy wanting a promotion has to bring an idiot with him to a meal that happens every month, where other business men bring idiots, and they have a prize for the best idiot.

Sunday night however, I watched it with my long suffering lady wife Louise and her family and was laughing pretty much non-stop. Carell's idiot is actually really endearing and he's not the same character that he was in Anchorman, the idiot in this was believably idiotic. He wouldn't be idiotic for the sake of it, he'd get into a predicament through a series of ill founded choices.

He also has a hobby of dressing up dead mice and making them into little works of art, which are amazingly cute yet disturbing at the same time. The fact he's made something as ugly as death beautiful shows actual brilliance despite his idiotic capers.

Paul Rudd who was also in Anchorman plays the main guy who's up for promotion and the chemistry between him and Carell carries over to this, making the friendship seem, once again, believable.

Add a whole load of cameos: Jermaine and Mel from Flight of the Conchords, one half of Little Britain, the Irish guy from IT Crowd and Zach Galifilanis or whatever his name is, who was the bearded weirdo from The Hangover.

This is the best American comedy I've seen for a while, there's a joke about finding the clitoris that just seemed really out of place, but apart from that, it's comedy gold.

If you like Steve Carell, this is one of his best, if you're not keen on him, skip it and go watch Lassie or whatever it is you kids like.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Half Arsed Review: Black Swan

Black Swan is a psychological thriller about an unhinged ballet dancer whose given the role of a lifetime, but begins to crack under the pressure of an over controlling mother, her overwhelming feelings for her tutor and the rivalry between her and her american rival who reminds me of Cher from The X Factor.

If that doesn't tickle your fancy, then why don't you go watch Step-Up 3D you retard.

I know what you're thinking, or at least I think I know what you're thinking from some guess work and after hacking your facebook account. You're probably thinking that Black Swan is a ballet film with mild horror elements, maybe you're thinking that it's a chick flick? Well it is one of those rare films that has something for both sexes.

There's the ballet and bitchiness for the women and horror and sexy bits for the men.

Let's go to the bit you're most interested in: The Sexy Bits!!

Well Natalie Portman's crotch gets groped more times than a hot girl at a nightclub in Coventry, and there's some "steamy" girl on girl and man on girl action. No boobage though guys, so if you want to see boobs you'll have to take off your shirt and look in the mirror.

The horror parts are pretty well done, there are moments that will make you jump and some visually disturbing moments. The mother character in this isn't quite as terrifying as Carrie's mum or Mrs. Ganesh from Drag Me To Hell or David Cameron being in power for a few more years, but she is damned creepy so gets some kudos for that.

The whole thing of course rests on Natalie Portman's shoulders. If she was awful, this would be a lame goose not a black swan. In my humble opinion, Natalie Portman is an actress who is either pretty dire or pretty good. Star Wars she was pretty dire, Black Swan however she does pretty good. So even if you're not a fan of her, I'd recommend this.

As with all my half arsed reviews I don't delve to deeply into any plot, and I don't wish to for fear of spoiling this really interesting film, but this film will keep you guessing right till the end. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty good at guessing what's going to happen in a film, and most films are ruined for me due to their predictability, but this is one of those few films that I only figured out certain elements so ten points to them for that!

This film also has some great use of camerawork as obviously Natalie Portman is not an amazing ballet dancer, so when she's dancing you either see just her top half/bottom half or see her in a mirror where they've used a bit of the ol' movie magic, to make it look like it's her. This works well and didn't detract from the movie too much for my over analytical self.

I'd highly recommend going to see it  as it's a very taut psychological thriller and is worth the price of the highly extortionate admission fee of your local cinema.