Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

20 06 2008

Yesterday, I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

This is the fourth movie in the main Indiana Jones series, but, believe it or not, this was the first Indiana Jones movie that I have watched, which means I’ve got no nostalgia to cloud my judgement, but it also means I don’t really have anything to compare it to.

So what did I make of it?  Well, long story short, I liked it very much.  It’s fun, it’s exciting, and at times it’s also quite intelligent.

The story takes place in the 1950s, about 20 years after the original trilogy.  It opens with a scene in which Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), a prisoner of some Russians led by the sinister Irena Spalko (Cate Blanchett), is taken into a secret government warehouse to retrieve a large and mysterious magnetic box.  A dramatic fight ensues.  Featuring fast moving vehicles, lots of running around on rafters, and a rocket sled, this opening sequence pretty much sets the tone of the movie – fast, exciting and extremely action packed.

The main plot of the movie revolves around Harold Oxley (John Hurt), a former colleague of Jones, who vanished in South America after discovering a crystal skull.  So Indy makes his way down to Peru, accompanied by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), a young and oft-overconfident individual who serves as the perfect foil to the older, more experienced Indy.  There are some twists and revelations in store, both in terms of the crystal skulls and in terms of the characters themselves.

The movie is visually absolutely spectacular, and the script is very enjoyable too.  I was pleased to note that the writers have indeed done their research: for example, when Indy mentions skull binding, a real practice among certain Native American peoples.  The soundtrack is of course excellent; I’ve always been a fan of anything by John Williams, and this is no exception.  At times, the action does perhaps stretch credibility a little too much (fridge.  Waterfalls.  Vine swinging…), and somehow I found the ending a little unsatisfactory, although maybe it would appeal more to someone who’s seen the original trilogy.

And now, for old times’ sake, the media studies genre bit.  This movie has all the defining characteristics of an action adventure movie, including fight scenes, chase scenes, fast pans and frequent use of CGI.  However, it also borrows characteristics from other genres, most obviously fantasy and science fiction.  The mise en scène varies from scene to scene; much of it is very firmly rooted in the 1950s, but there are some more exotic settings such as the Amazon Rainforest and, naturally, ruined temple complexes.  The set design, incidentally, is very impressive, with a lot of attention paid to detail.

I definitely enjoyed this movie, and would certainly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind having to suspend disbelief a little.





Back to Year 12 (for real this time)

19 06 2008

Today was my first history lesson I’ve had since my exams finished.  Mrs. History Teacher was supposed to be sorting me into a class, but unfortunately wasn’t in today.  Instead, Mr. History Teacher told me to attend his class.  I’m pretty sure the class in question isn’t the one Mrs. History Teacher wants me to be in, and since I don’t even know what the timetable is, it’s probably best not to get too used to being in that class in case it clashes with music tech.

My classmates were all Year 12 girls.  I recall that Mrs. History Teacher didn’t think it was a good idea for me to join in the set containing only girls; maybe she thought I would find them intimidating or something.  Or else she thinks I’m some kind of pervert who would be a liability in a class of girls.  It’ll be one of the two.  There were only four of them, so maybe there are other boys in the set and they just didn’t bother to turn up.

Us Year 13s have never really gotten along particularly well with Year 12s.  That might be something to do with the fact that they kept throwing stuff across the study area at us (such as mints, rubbers, pens, and contraceptives), or it might just be because they had the nerve to invade our territory study area, the little gits.

In any case, it was a relief to find that this particular class were friendly, seemingly well adjusted and reasonably normal.  There was a cheerful girl who struggled to operate a pair of headphones, accidentally fused the words “deacon” and “vicar” together so that it came out sounding like “dickar”, and got called a “freak” a lot.  There was a tall, slightly scary girl, who talked a lot about obscure historical events and figures that nobody else had heard of, and expressed a fondness for “chavvy music” and gory horror movies.  Then there was a girl with a grey hoodie who listened to loud, extremely heavy rock through a pair of headphones, described various violent scenes from movies as “hilarious”, and offered everyone chocolate.  The other girl was fairly quiet and said she might be dropping history the following year (oddly enough, there was a girl just like that in my old Year 12 class).  They all seemed like very nice people.

Unfortunately, hopeless case that I am, I can’t remember their names.

In class, we will be selecting and researching a historical period of our choice.  Last time I wanted to do something to do with the Mughal Empire in India, but struggled to find any relevant books, so this year I’ve decided to restrict myself to Western history, preferably no further back than the 1500s.  I’ve narrowed my selection down to three possibilities: The Golden Age of Piracy, street gangs and organised crime in 18th century London, and nobles and duelling in France between the late 16th and mid 17th centuries.  I need to choose one of those by next lesson, so I’m going to have to research them and see which is the most interesting and which I can find books on.

After the lesson, I went to the cinema with some friends and we watched the new Indiana Jones movie.  I’m thinking of doing a post about that; I know a lot of other people have already done posts on that subject, but I saw it from the perspective of someone who knows very little about the Indiana Jones series and has never seen an Indiana Jones movie before (I had meant to see Raiders of the Lost Ark first, but somehow I never got around to it).  Maybe I should write a media studies type analysis, to “make up for the lack of drama in my life”. 😉

In any case, it was a good movie, and we had a great time mocking all the implausible scenes.  We had the theatre pretty much all to ourselves – there were about 2 other people in there – which meant that we got the comfy seats at the back.  I guess everyone else must have seen it by now.  We did go in the middle of the day though, so maybe it’s more crowded outside of work and school hours.

Anyway, I realise this post has been one long ramble, so I’m going to finish it now.  I’ve got to, anyway; Heroes is on in a few minutes.





Back to year 12

18 06 2008

Today was supposed to be my first day as a year 12.  Unfortunately, I overslept, woke up mid way through the first lesson, sprinted down to the sixth form centre, choked on an apple (my breakfast), waited at reception for a receptionist to tell me where the hell I was supposed to be while regaining my breath, realised that nobody was going to show up and the first lesson was already over, headed over to the history department, and met a history teacher who informed me that the teacher I needed to speak to was away and I’d better come back tomorrow.

Ah, well.  So tomorrow, I get demoted to year 12.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with regards to this blog.  For the time being, I’m updating it as a kind of personal journal.  I do have a few ideas for future posts, but we shall see.

For now, I’m just a little bit exhausted.





Notes on broadcasting acts

11 06 2008

Media exam tomorrow.  It’s time I wrote up some notes on broadcasting acts.  This is a revision exercise for me, and may also prove helpful to readers who are answering the broadcasting question and want to jog their memories.  Apologies for the lengthier first section; I have better notes on that one than the others.  However, it is probably the most significant of the three anyway.

The Broadcasting Act (1990)

In order to understand this Broadcasting Act, a little background knowledge may be necessary.  It was an indirect result of the Government being unhappy with the BBC.  Its non-commercial nature, particularly its reliance on the licence fee and its lack of advertisements and product placement, went against the political principles of the time, prompting Margaret Thatcher to term television “the last bastion of restrictive practices”.  Furthermore, the BBC had been portraying the Northern Ireland conflict in a way that the Government was not satisfied with.  It was decided that something had to be done.

In response, the Government commissioned a report from one Professor Sir Alan Peacock in 1986.  It was speculated that this report would recommend the abolition of the licence fee.  However, the report turned out to have a much wider focus, recommending changes to broadcasting as a whole, and did not recommend that the licence fee be abolished.  Its recommendations were influential on the Broadcasting Act that followed.

The point of the Broadcasting Act of 1990 was to deregulate British broadcasting and commercialise television.  Whether or not it actually achieved this aim – and whether this was actually a good aim in the first place – has been a matter of considerable debate.

The Act ruled that:

  • The Independent Broadcasting Authority would be replaced by the Radio Authority and the Independent Television Commission.  The RA would regulate radio stations, while the ITC would regulate television channels, terrestrial or otherwise.
  • The ITC and RA could only act against a programme that had already been broadcast.
  • Commercial broadcasters would be held responsible for their own broadcast output.
  • The newly-formed Broadcasting Standards Council should investigate viewer complaints against broadcast material.
  • Commercial radio stations would not have to meet public service requirements.
  • The ITV regional licences and breakfast time licences should be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Under exceptional circumstances, they could be sold to a lower bidder if that bidder was deemed to be of a higher quality.
  • The ITC should be allowed to auction for a fifth channel.
  • The RA would create three more national commercial radio licences and multiple local radio stations.
  • The BBC and ITV would have to obtain at least 25% of their programmes from independent producers.
  • Channel 4 would have to run commercials.
  • Independent Television News would have to become a commercial business.
  • Programmes could be sponsored.

Some people have questioned whether these rules were really deregulation, with many considering them to be merely reregulation.  After all, neither the BBC nor Channel 4 was privatised, and the highest bidder for Channel 5 was rejected on grounds of quality.

Broadcasting Act (1996)

This Broadcasting Act was concerned with some of the new issues that had arisen with the advent of digital television.  It passed various laws regarding licencing and media ownership.  Most notably, however, it merged the Broadcasting Standards Council and Broadcasting Complaints Commission into the Broadcasting Standards Commission.

Communications Act (2003)

As the name suggests, this one did not focus solely on broadcasting.  It had to deal with new media as well (e.g. the Internet).  This is the act which empowered Ofcom, the UK’s current regulatory body for communications industries, to be responsible for pretty much everything the RA, BSC, etc. had been responsible for.  This act also relaxed the laws on cross-media ownership.

Current listening: Roger Waters, “Marie Antoinette – The Last Night on Earth”





Meme time!

9 06 2008

I realise I should be revising right about now, but I can’t be doing revision all the time.  Anyway, I’ve been tagged by sulz to do a meme.  This is my first time, so I’m hoping it will be gentle… 😉

The Expansionist Meme

Please thoughtfully consider the following, and choose one item for each of the categories below. (Be sure to describe your reasons for choosing)

  • One religious work from a non-familiar tradition you’ll read:

A tricky question, right off the bat.  I don’t actually know much about religious texts, so I’m not totally aware of what texts exist, and which ones I can read without it being deemed sacrilegious.  So no promises!

I’m curious about the Sikh sacred text, the Guru Granth Sahib.  It sounds a very interesting read.  Unfortunately, I gather that in order to fully understand it, it should be read in its original languages, none of which I understand.  To be honest, I’m curious about most religious texts.

  • One music video–that you like–from your “least likely to listen to’ genre:

I will listen to just about anything, but disco is definitely an example of a genre I don’t seek out actively, so…  how about Stayin’ Alive?  It’s a pretty cool video.

Although, I can’t help wondering how their voices even go so high pitched!

  • A book from a genre you almost never read, that you have read, or you will read (promise!):

I don’t often read detective or mystery fiction, but I have read The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I wasn’t a fan, but my tastes have since broadened considerably, so perhaps it’s time I gave Holmes another chance.

  • Somewhere you’d never thought to go on holiday/vacation, and why it might be fun to go there:

Off the top of my head, Rome.  I’d never really considered Rome as a holiday destination, but lots of people do go on holiday there, so it must be pretty good.  I’d be particularly interested in the historical buildings there.

  • A specific food you’ve never tried, but will because of this meme, honest!:

Uh… banana on toast with cinnamon.  That sounds nice.  In fact, I think I’ll make myself some right here, right now!

  • A sport or game you really hate, or haven’t tried yet, but are willing to give one more go:

Fencing.  I’ve never tried it, and it’s never really appealed, but I know a number of people who say it’s a lot of fun, so I’ll give it a shot if I get the opportunity.

  • A style of dance you probably won’t try (we won’t make you promise on this one):

I’m glad I don’t have to promise, since there’s no telling what I’ll do after consuming a sufficient quantity of alcohol… but, much as I love folk traditions, I think it’s safe to say that I will never do a sword dance.  I wouldn’t want to make too much of a fool of myself.

  • A career or job you don’t feel you’re suited for, and why:

Mathematician.  I’m hopeless at maths!

  • An item that’s “thinking out of the box’ for this meme that hadn’t been included:

 OK… outside the box, huh?  Um… how about:

A movie you are going to watch in a style you don’t normally watch:

I don’t watch monster movies, but I’m planning to watch Cloverfield when I get around to it, because my friends kept talking about how much they enjoyed it.  There, that ought to count.

***

Well, that’s that.  I am no longer a meme virgin.

While I’m at it, here’s another meme which MusEditions suggested I could answer, penned by the many-talented sulz:

The bloggerdygook Meme

1. What does gobbledygook mean to you?

“Nonsense”, which is pretty much what I’d expect the dictionary to tell me it means.  For some reason, though, I always think it could also represent the sound a turkey makes.

2. What do you like about yourself?

I can be quite creative and imaginative at times.

3. What activity do you enjoy doing, that you never thought you would until you tried it?

Using the Internet, funnily enough.  I was deeply suspicious of the Internet until I actually went on it.  Blogging, in particular, was something I was very apprehensive about until I tried it.

4. What have you learnt about yourself from your previous (and current) romantic relationships?

Only that I’m useless at romatic relationships.

5. What physical traits do you find attractive in the opposite sex?

I was tempted to just write “BOOBS!!!” and move onto the next question, but I have a feeling that would cause my readers to think even less of me than they already do, so I’ll have a go at answering this seriously.

A good sense of humour, and a nice smile.  I also like people who are skilled at art or music, because I find that impressive.  It’s really difficult to single out which specific traits make a person attractive, though.

6. Do you believe in any superstitions, or have some particular ritual?

I don’t consider myself superstitious, but I try to keep an open mind about people’s spiritual beliefs.

There are a lot of things that I do so often that they could be considered rituals, though.  For example, every time I leave the house, I have to go back and check that I locked the door.  I think I might just be slightly OCD. 🙂

7. What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for somebody?

I really can’t think of anything to mention.  It’s not that I never do nice things, it’s that I do them out of habit, and I can’t think of any one especially nice thing I’ve done for anyone.  It’s a lot easier to remember times when I’ve screwed up and upset someone.  This is a really tough question.

To be honest, it’s so difficult I can’t think of an answer.  Sometimes I’ve helped people out without being asked, and it’s always felt so rewarding just to see that people are happy.

Let me see…  No, it’s no good.  I realise this is a total cop-out, but I can’t think of anything that fits.  Sorry!

8. If you could something with your blog (cost, time and other factors irrelevant), what would you do?

I’d like to post more often.  Somehow, I never seem to find the time to post everything I want to.

I’d also like to maybe put more of my creative writing on here.  When I’ve done that before it’s gotten a fairly positive response, so I’m thinking I might post more in future.

9. Books, chocolates, sex. Make a sentence with it.

“Our school books lay forgotten as we sat in the ‘silent study’ area, eating chocolates and loudly discussing sex.”

I was going to make a totally innocent sentence containing the phrase “the opposite sex”, but then I decided that one was too good not to use.

10. If you were dead now, what would people most remember about you?

Geez, way to end on a downer.  I expect my close friends and family would remember me as someone who was kind and tried his best to be a good person, while everyone else would remember me, if at all, as some random nerd who really should have looked both ways before stepping out into the street.

***

And on that morbid note, I conclude my meme answering.  Those were very difficult!

I don’t really know who to tag, but I would like it if people decided to do these memes themselves, so if you like them, by all means use them.

In other words, I tag YOU!





I’m still alive, in case you were wondering

7 06 2008

Hey, Bobby G here.  I haven’t posted in a little while, because there’s been so much going on.  I had my English exam on Friday.  I think it went OK.  I’m so tired.

In media studies related news, the BBC have written an article on how BT is now charging BT Vision users £3 a month for BBC on-demand content.

A BT spokesman said, “The BBC programmes, including hit shows like The Apprentice, are delivered in top quality over the BT Vision on-demand platform…  Customers are, of course, able to watch BBC shows for free on their laptop or PC in lesser quality on the BBC player in the usual way.”

As a side note, apparently the BBC intend to eventually have all their channels streamed live online.  Which sounds cool.

I intend to post more media posts over the next few days, but I’m not the most reliable of people.  I’m really hoping I can post more stuff, though, because the exam is next week.