Category Archives: eastenders

Attack the Block

Attack the Block ~ Every once in a while a movie comes in under the radar and by pure word of mouth everyone is like, “You have to see this.” Attack the Block is one of those films. Not in theaters, couldn’t find it bootleg, and it took forever to get through Netflix, but I finally got a chance to see it.

Attack the Block has been billed as an alien invasion movie in the style of Shaun of the Dead, and it does in fact have Nick Frost in it and was written and directed by Frost/Simon Peggy/Edgar Wright collaborator Joe Cornish. The premise has aliens attacking South London and a teenage street gang defending their turf. In reality, it’s a theme that dates back to the American 1950s, but Cornish delivers it with flava. The flick begins when the boys kill an alien and descend into the teenage underworld looking for bragging rights and cash.

Once I got my head back in “Eastenders” mode (I’m out of practice, PBS stopped showing it in this area several years ago, and I’m never going to forgive you, channel 12) and was able to understand the thick accents that pass for English, I was all good with these kids, but it did take a while, some concentration, and subtitles. When it turns out it ain’t just one alien out there, the real fun begins. It’s really Shaun of the Dead meets The Warriors meets Red Dawn set in Walford Square under alien siege. Yeah, it’s that much fun.

I really kinda dug the almost Akira-like moped chases, and the aliens are truly frightening – big black furry masses with neon blue jaws of teeth. The colors of this flick are amazing. Intense, scary, brutal, and visually stunning, Attack the Block lives up to the hype, and is a must-see.

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The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying ~ When Ricky Gervais is on, he’s really on. And I think it really helps that he co-wrote and co-directed this. Sadly it just doesn’t come together as well as it should.

The premise of a world where no one lies gets old rather quickly when it’s just two people alone, but blossoms in the voiceover narrative and with other actors in the mix. And that just about covers Gervais’ and Jennifer Garner’s first date. It’s a bizarre mix of Liar Liar and What Women Want that never lives up to its potential. And of course, unlike those two films, this one is somewhat funny.

There are lots of guest stars and intriguing cameos like Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Louie CK, and of course Barry from “Eastenders.” The ads within the movie for Coke and Pepsi are hilarious, as is ‘The Sad Place for Hopeless Old people.’ Sorry, it’s funny because it’s true.

When lying is invented by Gervais’ character halfway through the movie, it’s not as funny as it should be – but rather heartwarming, and I’m not sure that’s what was intended. The humor only lasts for a few moments before turning into one of those “Saturday Night Live” skits that never ends. Much of this film feels that way sadly.

The Invention of Lying has the same trouble that most of Ricky Gervais’ films have – that schizophrenia of trying to be a drama with comedic overtones when it should just be a comedy. Too much philosophy and not enough jokes. Worth watching, but it could have been much better.

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Planet of the Dead

Doctor Who returned to television this Easter in high definition, and he brought along little Zoe, the new (if brief) Bionic Woman.

“Doctor Who” is much more a big thing in 2009 because a) David Tennant will be leaving at the end of the year and b) it’s not a regular TV series but a quartet of specials this year – the final one featuring Tennant’s regeneration into Kid Who, Matt Smith. “Planet of the Dead” is the second of these 2009 specials.

Other than the scifi elements, “Planet of the Dead” at first bears a scary resemblance to that 1970s O.J. Simpson telemovie Detour to Terror. I’m sorry, a bus in the desert just puts me there, no choice. This special is another one of Russell T. Davies’ drawing-room-mystery episodes. As much as I love Davies for bringing The Doctor back, rejuvenating the franchise and bringing the whole package into the 21st century, I am annoyed by his penchant for having a certain type of story every year. We have seen this before in each of the last seasons, like the obligatory Dalek story and the scary one and the different point of view one. It gets old when it’s expected.

That said, “Planet of the Dead” is pretty cool and has a lot stuffed into it. Michelle Ryan plays Lady Christina, a Tomb Raider template thief who would make a great companion, and her chemistry with The Doctor rocks. A companion who leads him around is a great change of pace – however that may be needed once Kid Who shows up. We also get to see the return of UNIT as well as a few interesting new UNIT characters that we’ll hopefully get to see more of.

The end has surprises of its own, including possibilities for a Lady Christina spin-off and a prophecy for what is to come for the end of David Tennant’s run. Do I smell a return appearance for The Master coming up? Time will tell. Next up is “Waters of Mars” in September. Can’t wait.

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Wendy Richard Passes

While most American audiences will recognize her much younger in her role as Miss Brahms in the popular PBS Brit-com “Are You Being Served?” she will always be Pauline Fowler to me. Wendy Richard passed away this morning after a long battle with bone cancer.

The “EastEnders” matriarch ruled on the soap for over twenty-one years, and was also featured in a few of the “Carry On” films. She won an MBE for television in 2000 and will be sorely missed by many all over the world. Albert Square is just a bit more sad and empty tonight.

Here she is in all her glory, fighting the good fight with Peggy Mitchell, as played by Barbara Windsor, also a “Carry On” veteran. Go get ‘er, Pauline!

You Are What You Poo

Even though those bastards in their programming department refuse to bring back “Eastenders,” I watch a lot of BBC America.

One of the shows I’ve been catching lately in the afternoon is “You Are What You Eat,” one of those self-help/reality shows where they take an overweight person, rearrange their life situation, diet, etc. and then they become a ‘better’ thinner, healthier person.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, living longer is a good thing, but the show stars one of the more diabolical and nasty nealth Nazis I’ve ever encountered, a woman named Gillian McKeith. Honestly she makes Simon Cowell and Dicko seem like altar boys. For her it’s like every episode is open season for insulting fat people. And as you can see, she’s probably never had to deal with a weight problem herself.

But there are other things that bother me about this show, and there occur in ever episode like clockwork. After observing her victim for a week, Gillian prepares a table of everything they’ve eaten during the week – to show them, kind of like some kind of shock therapy, “Look what you put in your body in one week!” She might as well say, “What a pig you are!” and sometimes, she does.

Anyway the table is loaded usually with all manner of fried and processed food. Some of it looks quite tasty because it’s real and cooked, but she calls it poison of course. My question is – what happens to this food after this sequence? There is a lot of it. Do they throw it out? Seems like an awful waste when there are people starving all over the planet, even in England. Surely she wouldn’t give this ‘poison’ to anyone, especially starving folks, right?

The other thing she does is downright peculiar. Gillian asks for a poo sample from the victim for examination purposes. Now while I am unsure of her medical credentials, if any, I do know that a poo sample will give hints to what’s going on in the body. It’s what seems to be important to Gillain that’s disturbing. She’s obsessed with the smell of poo, and if the victim’s poo stinks, that’s horrible – a sign of bad health.

Excuse me? Whose poo doesn’t stink?

The New Bionic Woman

This review will just be about the show, the pilot (whether it’s the final pilot or not remains to be seen as there have been three so far) specifically. I’ll save the nightmares that have plagued the production since early on for another time. It’s much too messy to open that putrid can of dead and hate-filled worms right now.

This new ‘re-imagining’ of “The Bionic Woman” comes from the folks who did the same type of hatchet job on “Battlestar Galactica.” Much of the cast is borrowed from there as well. Michelle Ryan, Zoe from the BBC’s “Eastenders” and late of the much-acclaimed “Jekyll,” is tapped to play Jamie (new spelling) Sommers. Rounding out the cast are Miguel Ferrer and Wil Yun Lee who are always a pleasure to see in action.

Unlike the original series with Lindsey Wagner that spun off of “The Six Million Dollar Man,” this show is not kid-friendly. And even worse, it is definitely not friendly to anyone who grew up watching the show, which is a mistake I think. When adapting a project that was successful, effort should be made to find out why it was successful at least. This new version seems to have shrugged off any charm that the original may have had.

This Bionic Woman is a bartender rather than a tennis pro, and she is preceded by an evil Bionic Woman, played by “Galactica”‘s Katee Sackoff who is stalking her. This Jamie has a bionic eye in addition to one arm, one ear and two legs. And the special effects that strike me as downright hysterical make her super super-vision look like a mistuned TV station and her super-hearing sound distorted. Aren’t they supposed to be better?

When the show finally veers away from conspiracy, bad acting, music video and fixing your perceptions of the old show – and turns to action, we get a predictable duel between the Bionic Women. It feels like a martial arts fight where only dodging and parrying are allowed. I’m dumbstruck as to why neither woman even tries to land a punch. Weird.

I really can’t recommend this show. I predict it’ll be moved over to SCiFi after three or four episodes before being eventually canceled. Unless they change their attitude, this Bionic Woman is destined for the same trashbin the Bionic Dog and Bionic Boy ended up in.