Netflix Film Review “Calibre” (2018)

check out the 150 word review here

check out my film blog here

Two thirty-ish childhood friends, Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and Marcus (Martin McCann), meet up after a few years for a weekend away in Scotland to celebrate Vaughn’s impending fatherhood; a kind of paternity stag do. Ironically, to hunt stags — all at Marcus’ expense. But when an incident happens, their trip is turned into a nightmare that which will change their lives forever.

There’s an awful sense of inevitability from the very start of the film, even before the truly shocking and gut-wrenching inciting incident. We know something awful is going to go down. The film gripped me with a suspense I haven’t felt for a while.

The countryside, almost a character itself, oozes Britishness and is both beautiful and haunting. Indeed, the cinematography is beautiful and effective throughout, never drawing attention to itself but is quite magnificent. I particularly enjoyed one shot of Vaughn’s dinner. The sound design is understated but truly powerful and sells the film magnificently. 

The writing is tight and fat-free but never feels shoehorned or with an inevitable end-point. The film is marked by highly convincing motives and actions and reactions from all of our characters throughout. This is sold by some truly phenomenal acting, including from supporting characters.

Vaughn, a shy but nice bloke; Marcus, his larger-than-life but slightly unbalanced friend. We get the impression that Vaughn had emotionally distant parents and was a bully victim; Marcus seems to have the self-confidence and slightly self-destructive side afforded by a more privileged upbringing. But almost all of this was subtly and carefully implied rather than being explicitly stated. It felt like our two leads had a lot of backstory to work with and were therefore able to deliver a very convincing throughline. The film’s first act sees them having a highly believable lad’s bonding session. If you’re a man, this kind of sesh will definitely be familiar, true man-on-man bromantic bonding.

The finale was satisfying and totally appropriate with a final shot which made us feel complicit.

Calibre reminded me of the excellent Eden Lake: a tranquil countryside retreat, an incident in a forest, local townsfolk who seems a little on edge and present a constant threat. But in recalling Eden Lake, a truly gritty and realistic movie, Calibre made me realise how theatrical Eden Lake was by comparison. I was fully gripped and absorbed, whereas Eden Lake now seems a little bit “horror movie”, emphasis on “movie”.

This was writer-director Matt Palmer’s first solo feature length film after several horror short films. So the title “debutant” seems a little inappropriate. None-the-less, this is a debut solo feature, and it a remarkable accomplishment.

This film was tense and boding from the outset. It’s hard to think of how this could have been improved. Everything was magnificent. I am sorely tempted to give this a five star rating, but I only give five star reviews to films that I immediately think, “Wow, this will go down as one of the greatest movies in history”. Calibre was too simple a story and too simply told to ever be classed as one of cinema’s greatest works. But even though Calibre may not have changed the cinematic game, it is, none-the-less, a phenomenal movie which I cannot recommend highly enough.

4/5

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Netflix Film Review “Bird Box” (2018) #150WordReview

Take 2008’s The Happening and 2018’s A Quiet Place, pop them in a blender with a pinch of Oscar (Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich) and a dash of randomness (British comic actor Tom Hollander, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, Bend It Like Beckham‘s Parminder Nagra), and voilà! An evil presence blown on the wind is causing people to kill themselves or each other (The Happening) when they look towards it (swapping A Quiet Place‘s sound for sight).

We follow Bullock as she paddles her two young children up a certain creek to an alleged haven. The film interweaves with the tale of how she came to be on this river.

Bird Box is a human drama of survival against odds.

Scary, emotionally terrifying, and thrilling, the blight feels real even though the full details are never spelt out. A wonderful movie, what M. Knight’s The Happening could have been.

4/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/36/750×445/1058045.jpg

 

Spelling Reform 1: Program(me) #SpellingReform

In the UK we use the spelling programme, whereas in the US they use program. Which is better?

It’s not this straight-forward. The spelling program is used in the UK in the computer sense. Furthermore, program in all senses is becoming more prevalent in Australia, so much so that programme is now marginal and not favoured by the media or official sources. Canada only uses program and New Zealand more-or-less follows British usage: program for computing, programme for everything else.

So proud British and Commonwealth citizens should stand up and fight for our programme? Not quite.

Firstly, nationalist pride has nothing to do with how good the spelling is.

Secondly, programme isn’t that British in any case.

The Greek word γραμμα ‘gramma’ is regularly borrowed into English as gram: anagram, chronogram, cryptogram, diagram, epigram, hexagram, ideogram, kilogram, logogram, monogram, pentagram, telegram. Therefore, programme is irregular and goes against all analogy.

The word was originally borrowed into English, in the UK, as program. It largely kept that spelling in Scotland, even after senses of the word got borrowed from the French form of the word programme. Even in England, the spelling program was dominant up till the early nineteenth century; it wasn’t fully ousted till the late nineteenth century. Such English luminaries as Henry Sweet can be seen using it as late as 1892:

A less ambitious program would further allow of greater thoroughness within its narrower limits.

H. Sweet New Eng. Gram. Pref. 9

Therefore, program is the original and “true” British spelling.

And on phonemic grounds, –am is infinitely more justifiable than –amme. Compare: clam, cram, dram, flim-flam, glam, ham, jam, lam, mam, Pam, pram, sam, slam, tram, and of course, gram.

In conclusion, the case for program is overwhelming, the case against boils down to two things: the first, a sound but hardly convincing argument; the second, a non-argument. First, is there any other way to pronounce the spelling “programme”? Probably not. So why bother respelling it? It would seem a lot of effort for little-to-no gain (However, there is a case that the French -mme ending might imply a syllable final stress). Second, a factually inaccurately-grounded show of support in favour of the UK and British-associated practices is not a sound basis for spelling.

For what it is worth, I am a very homeland-loving kind of fellow, yet no matter how it smarts my British pride, program really is the only justifiable spelling. Therefore, I adopt it.

References:
“programme | program, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Web. 20 December 2016.

Program vs. programme

© 2016-2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Star Trek: Picard S1E4 “Absolute Candor” Review @SirPatStew @StarTrekPicard

In Star Trek: Picard, “Absolute Candor” (S1E4), Jean-Luc Picard must face an unresolved personal issue from his past. It seems that Picard has apparently spent most of his life crashing around the cosmos, leaving his mark, and running away, leaving everyone else to pick up the pieces, like some kind of intergalactic lothario. Our other storyline, set on the Borg cube, is also becoming compelling, marked by increasingly nuanced character interactions between Soji and Narek. This was very much an episode delving into the past and how it shapes the future.

An exciting episode, better than the previous ones. I really felt absorbed in the world, like I’d known our merry band of explorers for ages — yet they only came together at the very end of the last episode. Our fellowship even has two new members, with the addition of a face from Star Trek‘s past, and the other from Picard’s past. I like how our crew feels like it has grown almost organically, giving us a chance to spend a little time with all of them first, instead of just dumping them all on us in the pilot. There was also some compelling racial tension on a de facto apartheid world which Picard refused to accept.

“Absolute Candor” wasn’t flawless, though. The meant-to-be emotional scenes with Picard facing his past seemed a little contrived and poorly acted, which is a shame as the characters involved all seem very interesting in themselves. Furthermore, this seems to be becoming a pattern in Star Trek: Picard; deep backstories, with years of emotional weight and angst behind them, are introduced, developed, played out, and resolved within the course of one episode, thereby robbing them of their full emotional impact. Why not settle these things over the course of several episodes?

Was this episode perfect? No. But there was a good balance of all parts — talk, action, characters being developed through their deeds.

This episode just nudges four out of five, by a nose.

4/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9420280/mediaviewer/rm1594395137

Brexit, A Second Referendum, and Double Jeopardy @juliahb1 #Brexit

Many opponents of Brexit (which I am sure you know refers to Britain exiting the European Union) say that we the British people should get a second vote, just to make sure that we still want to leave. Such people include former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major. After all, we voted almost two years ago, and so much has changed since then. This proposed second vote would specifically be based on the yet-to-be-agreed final deal that the Government is currently trying to negotiate with the EU. If we the people don’t like the final deal, then we the people should have the right to change our minds. After all, they say, isn’t that the essence of democratic choice? If we don’t like a particular politician we’ve voted in, we can always vote them out again come the next election. So why shouldn’t we be able to change our mind about this too? It is the supporters of Brexit who, despite their cries about “democracy”, are the true anti-democrats.

Well, that’s how heavyweight remain supporters such as Alistair Campbell, John Major, Tony Blair, Kenneth Clarke, and, err, Femi Oluwole have it.

But this view, despite being superficially highly convincing, is nonsense.

Firstly, their analogy is flawed; when we elect a politician, we don’t then have a second vote to see if we really do want them to be elected. Rather, the politician is in fact elected. Likewise, Brexit should in fact happen. Sure, if we change our minds at a future date, we should be free to try to reapply to the EU. And in fact, we would be free to reapply. Just as we would be free to not re-elect that politician.

Secondly, as I pointed out in my 26th June 2016 blog post, where I predict a second referendum and that the UK would never leave the EU, the people are almost never asked if they want to go along with the ever-closer union and integration. Former Prime Minister John Major, who is so shrill in claiming democracy requires a second EU referendum, never gave his own parliamentary party, let alone the people, a free vote on the Maastricht Treaty, the treaty which created so much of what is now the EU. Indeed, he insisted on brutal discipline to get the vote through parliament, including secretly flying in hospitalised MPs and making them vote his way(!), famously calling his few uncowed parliamentary opponents “bastards”. (As a point of interest, the Maastricht Treaty and the atrocious way Major handled the whole thing, directly resulted in the formation of UKIP.) Second votes are apparently only required when things don’t goes John Major’s way.

Indeed, when the people are from time to time asked, they almost invariably vote against the European Project. Yet they are always asked to vote a second time, just to make sure. And of course, with the right pressure and scare-mongering, they unfailingly return a vote in favour of the EU.

I’ve gotten into arguments with people who don’t understand why the people changing their minds in a second vote or a second vote at all would for me constitute an egregious violation of democracy. The best analogy I can give is to the famous legal rule of “double jeopardy”.

Double jeopardy states that an individual cannot be tried again for the same or similar offence on the same or similar evidence once acquitted. The logic is that, if they could be tried again, they would never truly be free or be able to live freely or in peace. Why not? Because the powers that be could simply try the individual again and again and again and again, grinding the defendant’s willpower, money, and life into the dust, until he is no longer able to fight back, and/or until a judge or jury can be found who would find in favour of the prosecution.

Yes, whilst it might sense to try the defendant again if new evidence comes to light, the rule of double jeopardy is clearly in fact one of the greatest tools defending individual liberty. Or at least, it was, until 2003 when the Labour government of Tony Blair and his henchman Alistair Campbell went a long way to “abrogating”, that is, removing, this ancient liberty.

And perhaps that is why Blair, Campbell, and all their ilk don’t understand why a second vote would be undemocratic. They simply don’t buy into the notion of democracy, even though they probably think that they do; rather, they buy into the Aristotelian and continental European view,  that the plebs are too stupid to know what’s good for themselves, and only an elite Philosopher-King, or a committee version thereof, is able to rule the people and thereby allow the people to be free by preventing them from allowing their own plebbish baseness to cause harm to themselves. Like children, we should be free, but like children, if allowed total freedom, we would soon end ourselves. Yet this is the very opposite of democracy.

But to the rest of us, trying an acquitted person again and again and again, is a flagrant abuse of freedom. And to get the people to vote again, but this time the “right way”, is an equal abuse. We voted to leave knowing that, whilst there were countless ramifications to that decision — just as there are when we vote in any referendum or election –, we would in fact leave.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2016-10-05-1475670108-7560650-brexit1.jpg

How North Korean’s Regimes WILL Fall

So, this article about recent* goings-on in North Korea has got me a thinking.

My cod assessment: the North Korean regimes will in fact fall in my lifetime. Why? As the article points out, all capable people are being replaced with toadies. Being chosen on their toady-ness means they are likely less capable. Less capable suck-ups are people who are less able and likely less willing to challenge the boss. This leads to a cycle of incompetence which ultimately leads to fall of the regime. This is has happened time and again throughout history.

So you heard it here first. North Korea, with its current ruling family, will fall in the twenty-first century, no doubt; probably by 2050 or so.

[UPDATE] I had this short post saved since February 2017; current events in Korea are making my “2050” look more like “20:50 Friday evening”.

[UPDATE 2] *This post is a year old and I just never posted it. Even though it is no longer topical. it probably will be again soon, knowing North Korea. And I hate to have drafts hanging about. So I’m posting it.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea#/media/File:Flag_of_North_Korea.svg

 

Game of Thrones Series 7 Review and Look Ahead to Series 8 !!!WARNING: SPOILERS!!! #SpoilerSweats #GOTS7 #GOTS8

This post has some spoilers!!!!!

SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS?

I started this season of Game of Thrones intending to write spoiler-free reviews of each and every episode. Seven episodes, rather than the usual ten, means it should have been pretty easy. However, as you can tell, I gave up after episode three; in trying to write my episode four review, I simply found it impossible to not reveal stuff. Even not saying stuff says stuff. After all, if I suddenly stop mentioning a certain character, what conclusion would you draw? (Hmm, Bryan hasn’t mentioned Ned Stark for a bit…)

The lesson is that for season eight I will post full reviews, spoilers and all.

BEST MOMENTS?

Best episode of season seven had to be the final episode. Jaime has finally switched sides, apparently, which looked likely for a while now. Daenerys is still good, but is showing increasing signs of haughty regalitis. And we finally found out what we kind of knew already, ish, but which hadn’t been spelled out: John Snow is in fact a Targaryean, nephew of Daenerys, and the true heir to the Iron Throne. Just as this is officially revealed, we see Dany reveal her bits to John, just before they pump. So that’s going to be awkward over the coffee table in morning. The sight of an undead dragon destroying the wall was also a stand-out moment from the season.

That leads me to what I think was the most iconic, most “oh, nooo” moment of the whole season: Viserion the dragon becoming undead. As soon as we knew the dragons would be heading north, I was like, “Ooh, nooo”; one dying was always on the cards. Great moment, and we know that we are in store for some epic battles come season eight. Some people poo-pooed it by saying, ‘Erm, plothole! How could they get chains that big to drag the dead dragon!?’ To which my only answer is, ‘Erm, dragons you find believable, large metal chains not so much…?’

Other great moments include Leanna smugly telling Jaime that she dunnit. The captive undead spazzing out in front of Cersei. The capture of Ellaria Sand and her subsequent imprisonment by a mentally stable Cersei.

Many complained that this season was full-on with no development. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing; everything has been moved into place, and now we begin the rush to the end.

SEASON EIGHT?

Nothing would surprise me were it to happen in season eight. Including:

  • The white walkers taking over and destroying Westeros / the World.
  • Cersei winning, Jon and Daenerys dying.
  • Dany going schitz on power / refusing to bend the knee to Jon.
  • Ned Stark, or anyone of our other favourite dead characters, coming back in white walker form for an emotional, zombie-esque, ‘I don’t know if I can kill you! I still see the real you in that skelly shell!’ moment of emotional, heart-tugging drama.
  • Sam, in a kind of epilogue to the final episode of season eight, being the only one left alive, sat there Bilbo Baggins style with a pipe, now a very old man, explaining to the young hobbitses the true story of what happened. Y’know, the Song of Ice and Fire, as he will come to call it.
  • An apparently happy ending, with Sansa, Arya, Dany, and Jon co-ruling the seven kingdoms in peace, white walkers ended once and for all, slavery outlawed, feudalism abolished, a healthcare system free at the point of use guaranteed to all people of working age who pay a regular National Insurance contribution, and iPads for everyone — but just then, some crazy mothers from Essos appear in their ships on the horizon, dun dun dun! End of the world as we know it.
  • The Children of the Forest come back, Ewok-style, and fuck everyone’s shit up. After all, they made the white walkers to protect themselves from men! Perhaps they’ll be on the white walkers’ side.
  • The Dothraki go nuts and start raping and pillaging, as they are wont, which turns the layfolk against the Dany-Jon biumvirate, perhaps necessitating Jon or Sansa to backstab.
  • The good guys win a Pyrrhic victory; Westeros is so ruined by everything that there isn’t much of a world to rule over now. And the weakened Pyrrhic victors, Team Stark-Targaryean are left open to attack from foreign marauders.
  • Half the real life cast die in a kind of Munich Air disaster and/or nuclear war with North Korea means that we never get a proper final season eight.

I just hope whatever they do, it isn’t a perfect happy ending. I just think that would not suit the world that’s been built up. Even if things end “well” (= white walkers and Cersei being killed, some good guys staying alive), I can’t see everyone remaining unscathed. One or more of Dany, Jon, Arya, Sansa have to die, and die horribly. And the hard won peace must be on a knife-edge, some new danger suggesting itself.

As much as this series is based on mediaeval English history (War of the Roses and such), I keep thinking Alexander the Conqueror; single-handedly reshaped the world order, and for a brief moment there was the promise of westerners and easterners inter-marrying and becoming a single culture ruled forever by Alexander and his heirs in a sort of Pax Alexanderna — only for it to all fall apart at once and his generals squabble and split the empire up. That’s sort of how I see things moving.

In any case, a whole year or more for season eight! How am I going to cope?? Oh, hang on… 😎

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://wikiofthrones.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Game-of-Thrones-season-7-fan-posters-16.jpg

Fatty Parry 30: WTH, Brown Rice!? @ww_uk @weightwatchers

this post originally appeared at https://diethealthlifegoals.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/cooking-wth-brown-rice/

Seriously, is it just me, or is white rice really easy to cook, but brown rice is IMPOSSIBLE TO COOK? I’m switching to brown rice for health reasons. But honestly, no matter which instructions I follow, white rice is always fine, but brown rice either comes out undercooked and hard, or as mucus covered mush. Seriously, what the HELL, brown rice!?‬

Weird thing is, I’ve done brown rice in the past with no trouble. But no matter what, I cannot manage it now!

HELP!?

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 #GoTS7 #SpoilerSweats

check out my film, TV, and Netflix blog at
https://filmmovietvblog.wordpress.com/

Note: gotta say, I’m starting to struggle at keeping these reviews SPOILER FREE without being absurdly vague…

Episode 3 was the best of Season 7 so far. Not quite good enough to be a five star smash, but more exciting than eps 1 and 2. It’s entitled “The Queen’s Justice”, but which Queen? This was definitely an episode where powerful women had their say, shall we say. Indeed, the trend is continued whereby we are left in no doubt that the most powerful characters in Westeros are all women; perhaps a ploy from the writers to distract from the ample amount of bewbs present in the early series.

Cersei showed, once again, what a sadistic and calculating woman she can be. Daenerys is definitely starting to display more of that distinctly regal side. Somebody dies — but not before delivering a satisfying piece of revenge. There’s some top quality military outwitting going on. And, unfortunately, the most boring storyline of all made a showing: Bran, of three-eyed raven fame, has turned up spouting yet more gibberish; this plot thread better have a satisfying resolution.

I’m loving how the series is now zipping along. Now that most of the characters are dead, and the rest have all mostly hooked up, everything is happening in a handful of locations. It’s really starting to gear up for the great finale.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Fatty Parry 27: 12 Week Wedding Weight Loss: 2 @ww_uk @weightwatchers

check out my new health and life goals blog at http://www.diethealthlifegoals.wordpress.com

Introduction

Earlier this year, my weight peaked at 16st 12lb (236lb). I had never been so fat. And I felt it. With a family wedding looming, and having a Body Mass of over 30 (= “Obese Class 1”), I decided to take action and sort my life out. Hence, I went on a 13 Week Wedding Weight Loss program (weeks: 1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13). Click here for a quick explanation of the ins-and-outs, but the short of it is this: having a Body Mass of over 30 in a suit at a wedding in the sun in Spain is not a good look!

I lost weight and, whilst I didn’t reach my target, I made serious steps towards it and learnt a lot along the way.

Now I have another wedding in twelve eleven weeks’ time. So I’ve decided to not only carry on trying to fulfil my short-term weight goals, but to move towards the next phase in the transformation of me. 12 Week Wedding Weight Loss will be about achieving Phase 2: getting my weight to the ideal of 13st 7lb. I am currently 15st 11.2lb 15st 13.2lb. The long term goal is to not just get to and maintain a healthy weight, but to get seriously fit. But I’m jumping the gun: that’s Phase 3!

I therefore aim to lose 32.2 pounds in twelve weeks, a loss of just under 2.7lbs 3.1lbs a week.

Last week

Last week was… an unmitigated disaster. By Thursday, I had lost exactly 2lbs. So far, so good. Unfortunately, my private life took a chaotic turn for several days and the food and drink went out of control. By Monday morning, I had gained four pounds! I am now 15st 13.2lb. What a downer. I think I need to do a post talking about how to manage your weight/diet in stressful circumstances… once I work out how myself! Now I have to lose 3.1lbs a week to meet my goals. But remember: healthy, slow weight loss is better than rapid weight loss! But 3.1lbs a week is still sustainable and reasonable.

Next week

I aim to lose 2.7lb 3.1lb a week. So I hope to be 15st 10.1lb (220.1lb) by my next update. Here’s a chart of my weight beginning with the previous program (13 Week Wedding Weight Loss).

  • week 0 (last week): 10/07/2017: 15st 13lb (223lb)
  • week 1: 17/07/17: 15st 11.2lb (221.2lb)
  • week 2: 24/07/17: 15st 13.2lb (223.2lb)
  • GOAL: 14/10/17: 13st 7lb (189lb)

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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