About Me

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Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sing a new song, take your teeth out

Having just seen Mamma Mia - finally - several thoughts are buzzing around in my mind.....

1 It was a great movie
2 Julie Walters is truly wonderful
3 James Bond doesn't sing. I'm sorry, he just doesn't.
4 Greek Islands look really nice and I want one.
5 Abba's music is truly timeless and there are very few songs better than Dancing Queen.
6 Mr Darcy is GAY??????

I need a lie down.....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why So Serious? A review of The Dark Knight

I really wasn't going to go see this movie.

The trailers looked too dark and I convinced myself that it wasn't a film I wanted to check out - but then my curiosity got the better of me.

Fueled by my respect for Christian Bale and my enjoyment of anything Heath Ledger had done in the past, along with the rave reviews he got for his swansong performance as The Joker, it had to be done. So did it disappoint?

No way!

Let's get something straight here; this IS a DARK movie - no doubt about it, but even in the midst of the darkness, themes of redemption and human decency do shine through. Look in most movies and you'll find it somewhere.

But what really impresses here are several key performances. In truth, Christian Bale in the title role is a little peripheral at times here, dominated as he was by his Australian counterpart (more on him in a minute). But whether it's in the role of wisecracking playboy Bruce Wayne, whose idea of fun is to take an entire boatload of Russian ballerinas out for a cruise, or the often tormented and obsessed superhero, Bale delivers, and gets the tone just right in both roles.

Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Aaron Eckhart put in solid performances, but you have to admit that the movie is stolen completely by an unbelievable and virtually unrecognizable tour de force from Heath Ledger.

On the one hand it makes me so very sad that we lost Ledger directly after this movie, but on the other hand, there's a certain irony, in that I doubt that Ledger, brilliant as he is, could ever have topped that performance. Ask any actor how he/she would like to go, and they will say "at the top", and Ledger's signature role will be The Joker.

And Ledger's Joker is a truly frightening, disturbing, grotesque, malevolent monster, played with such brilliance that at times you just have to chuckle.

This movie truly belongs to Heath Ledger, and make no mistake, he WILL get an Oscar nomination and could even win the gong.


Also noteworthy in The Dark Knight is Aaron Eckhart's transformation into Two Face, with some quite breathtaking special effects which left me baffled.

Okay this is most definitely NOT a family movie, but despite it's violence and dark nature, there are so many wonderful performances that it'l take a lot to top this for movie of the year.

Go see the Bat!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"A Bad Night to be an Atheist!"

Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton has just provided one of the most thrilling exhibitions in sports that I have ever seen, as he powered and battered his way to a record 1st round 28 in the first and only Home Run Derby to grace the House That Ruth Built.

Many of these awesome hits were around and over 500 feet, and the breathless Yankees fans quite rightly chanted his name and gave him a standing O.

Hamilton is quick to credit and glorify God for turning his life around after some years as a heroin addict which have left him with tattoos, and requires a self-imposed minder to keep him on the straight and narrow.

God has clearly made a huge impact on Josh's life and provided hope for countless others still caught up in addiction.

To be honest, it doesn't really matter who wins now, and it certainly doesn't matter that A-Rod couldn't be bothered to show up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I really wanted to see this when it hit theaters last year, but as so often happens, I didn't get around to it. Having now got hold of it on dvd I am regretting not seeing it on the big screen even more, because this is quite simply a beautiful movie - on so many levels.

Winner of multiple awards, including those at the Toronto and Heartland Film Festivals, the movie is directed by Mexican Alejandro Monteverdi, and stars Eduardo Verastegui (who is also one of the producers) and Tammy Blanchard, who is maybe better known for her past TV work.

The story follows Jose (Verastegui) a soccer player about to sign a lucrative contract, but who is prevented from doing so by a tragic accident that causes him to leave soccer and work in New York as a chef at his brother's restaurant. Here he meets and befriends waitress Nina (Blanchard) who has just been fired through circumstances not entirely beyond her control.

The bulk of the movie takes place on just one day, a day in which Nina discovers that maybe there is hope after all, and that there is more to the mysterious bearded chef than at first meets the eye, and that maybe he has something to hide too.

Monteverdi has said that he really wanted to dispel the myth that Hispanics are either dishonest cheaters or dangerous lotharios, and he succeeds admirably by portraying a normal Mexican family, with it's warmth, loyalty and humor.

Through selective use of flashbacks and sections where the dialogue is purposely hidden, the viewer is made to do some of the work in figuring out what is going on, which I really like.

There are pretty much guarenteed to be tears at point in the movie, particularly at the end, but you never get the impression that the film-makers are out to deliberately cause emotion. It's simply a story which they passionately believe in, being well-told.

In an age where questionable moral standards are the norm, Bella is a beautifully shot breath of fresh air, with a soundtrack to die for (if it ever gets released), and is the kind of movie that Christians should definitely encourage, as it is badly needed for a whole host of reasons.

If you haven't seen it you are missing out big time, so please check it out, and lewt me know what you think!

Monday, July 7, 2008

David Martin - "Something In Your Eyes"

This guy may be familiar to some as worship leader Dave Lubben, who had a cd out a while back on Vertical called "A Place Called Surrender". Well this is one in the same guy who goes by the name of David Martin for his mainstream career. He is a talented singer/songwriter/instrumentalist/producer who for this, his first solo mainstream release (on the Astonish label) has managed the heroic feat of writing all ten songs about his wife.

Martin has a pretty high register voice, which reminds you of people like Glenn Tillbrook of Squeeze, or even Maroon 5's Adam Levine. The songs however are superb. Written from a strongly Christian perspective, even if the lyrics might not appear that way, they deal with such subjects as separation, going through rough patches, to downright adoration and gratitude to God for bringing them together.

The title track is probably the strongest song, a heartfelt look back to what first attracted the singer to his spouse ("What I saw still holds me in awe"), but each song is lovingly crafted and beautifully performed. Look out for Sting and Peter Gabriel drummer Manu Katche throughout.

I really couldn't recommend this album highly enough, and I'm so excited that David Martin is to produce the next album by my friend and talented local artist Michael Bahn. What a great combination.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Before The Throne

Tonight it was brought home to me just how God soothes us through our feelings of guilt. If we were honest, most of us say we battle with - sometimes irrational feelings of guilt, and our own unworthiness as a result. Clearly this comes from the enemy. Just listen to these words from the Stuart Townend song "Before The Throne Of God Above"

"When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, Who made an end of all my sin."

This tells me two things. First that no matter how we might feel about our guilt - with or without perceived justification - God is unequivocal; guilt has been wiped away and our sin put to an end...daily.

Second, our instinct when we want to beat up on ourselves is to look DOWN, isn't it? But we need to train ourselves to look UP first, into the face of our Redeemer who longs to comfort us and tell us that our sins are washed away. We are justified.

So, remember that you need to go against your instinct to look down toward the ground when you mess up - because you will. Try and make sure the first direction you look is upwards.