Hungry for more?

I read The Hunger Games trilogy on my kindle. There are many pros to a kindle (I’m able to carry tens of thousands of pages in the weight of a novella, being among them), but there are also inevitable losses. One of those is the lack of cover art and the inability to be able to flick backwards and forwards within the book’s pages to jog memories around names or see how much is left of the chapter.

Other than being mildly inconvenient and less attractive, the other thing this does, in a Roland Barthes-esque way, is destroy pre-conceptions around the book which can be built up from the blurb on the back, the ‘Richard and Judy Book Club’ permanent sticker on the front or the carefully chosen quotes from famous people. Even after reading all three books, I have trouble remembering the author, to be honest. That would be Suzanne Collins, by the way (and also, good name). Take of that what you will – the kindle/e-reader argument is one to be had another day.


TV to Watch: Friday Night Lights

Sky Atlantic had its first anniversary last week, and in that time the channel has shown a wide range of critically acclaimed US shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under and Game of Thrones. Starting on Sky Atlantic tomorrow (14th) is probably my favourite US show of all time (bold statement I know), and that is Friday Night Lights. The show previously aired it’s first two seasons on ITV4 but now you will be able to watch the complete series for the first time in the UK (outside of watching the Region 1 DVDs as I did). Spanning five seasons Friday Night Lights explores the world of high school football in Dillon, Texas; a small town that thrives on football and worships the teenagers that play for the Dillon Panthers. So why should you watch it?

First of all it doesn’t matter if you have zero knowledge or interest in American football. I knew very little about the sport when I started watching the show, and five seasons later I know not much more about the rules of the game. Take it like this; you don’t need to be an expert in drug distribution or police surveillance work to enjoy The Wire and the same goes for the American football backdrop in FNL. It is part of the fabric of the show but it isn’t necessarily the real focus; the community, the kids in the team and family life is what matters here.

Friday Night Lights began as a book that tells the story of a high school team in Odessa, Texas in 1988 that was then adapted for the big screen by Peter Berg in 2004. The film scored an impressive five stars from Empire Magazine but didn’t even make $1 million in the UK (it made $61 million in the US). This is likely through poor distribution thanks to the American sport centric theme and a similar pattern can be seen with the recent baseball movie Moneyball, which despite awards buzz and a big name star with Brad Pitt, only made just over $1 million in the UK (and $75 million in the US). Sports themed movies are a hard sell if the sport isn’t popular, and this is probably why it has taken so long for FNL to properly hit UK screens at primetime. The show struggled for ratings in the US even, despite being a critical darling. It was only in its fifth and final season that the award nominations finally starting coming in, with Kyle Chandler (Super 8, King Kong) winning Best Actor at the 2011 Emmys for his role as Coach Eric Taylor.

At the centre of it all is Coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tami Taylor (Connie Britton -Spin City, American Horror Story) who are one of the best representations of a married couple to grace the screen, big or small. They fight, they laugh, they talk like real people and they also care about their jobs and the kids that they work with. Connie Britton played the role of the coach’s wife in the film Friday Night Lights and didn’t want to initially take the TV role, as her part in the film had been cut to shreds. Creator and director Peter Berg assured her this wouldn’t happen again, and he was correct as Tami Taylor is one of the strongest female characters that TV has ever seen. Coach Taylor is often a man of very few words, but when it comes to inspirational speeches he is king, and they will possibly leave you a little misty eyed.

The show is shot in a somewhat documentarian style, with the first episode really evoking this method. It’s not all shaky cam though so don’t worry about that. It is just something that adds to the realism. Shot on location in Austin, Texas, you get the sense of what this community is like and several of the minor speaking roles are played by non-actors; including the pastor and a jewellery shop owner adding to the authentic Texan feeling.

As it is set in a high school, you would expect a roster of stereotypical characters; the lead quarterback douchebag, the head cheerleader bitch, the bad boy, the arrogant one, the arty one, the one who doesn’t care about football, the slut and the nerd. While elements of all these characters exist, they play on these stereotypical elements; turning them on their head rather than having it as a central characteristic. Certain high school experiences are featured such as first loves won and lost, as well as social issues such as racism, financial woes and abortion. Don’t worry, it’s not an after school special and doesn’t lean towards the preachy.

Will you be watching? Have you seen the show before and want to watch it all over again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday Night Lights begins on Sky Atlantic Tuesday, February 14 at 8pm and you can watch the trailer here.

“Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”

My Film of the Year by Lewis Swift

2011 has been a weird year for cinema. Lars Von Trier admitted to being a Nazi, A werewolf fell in love with a baby in a 12A and one of the best films of the year was a documentary (Senna), WTF right? All this has meant that choosing one film to crown as my annual favourite has been even harder than usual. Then there’s the films I haven’t even seen yet; Take Shelter, Money ball and The Artist could all as yet take the crown but for now they’ll have to wait.

Submarine - Welsh New Wave

To make the task arbitrarily easier I have also discounted those movies decorated by the Academy earlier on in the year. Using my dog eared collection of ticket stubs I whittled the list down to fifteen movies then to ten, then to three, then finally to one.  The ticket that remained read simply ‘Submarine’.


Top Five Coolest Things From SDCC!

With the San Diego Comic Con whetting the appetite for geeks and freaks all over the world, Lewis Swift runs down the top 5 moments from this years convention.

5) The first picture from Cowboys and Aliens!
Whilst Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel series retains a relatively cult status for now, chances are, when the film adaptation is released this time next year copies of the genre bending romp will be flying off the shelves. The man in charge of further lining Rosenberg’s pockets is none other than John Favreau, the man who made Iron Man into a phenomenon. Whilst initially rumoured to be another project for The Fav and his go to guy Robert Downey Jr, scheduling issues forced Fav to look further from home, finally settling on none other than Daniel Craig for the lead.

Q's latest gadget


The Tuesday Preview – Jonah Hex

For a large portion of the twentieth century the Western Genre was king, making icons out of stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Then, in 1977 a little movie came along called Star Wars and all of a sudden Cowboys were no longer cool enough. Science fiction was the new box office bread winner and the Old West was once again condemned to the pages of history. Fitting then that it was in that the very same year, bit part, comic book anti hero, cowboy Jonah Hex was given his own self titled series.

Hexcellent Adventure!


‘Non-Super’ Super Heroes

Continuing our Kick-Ass week over here on, we got resident comic book lover/geek/obsessive (delete where applicable) Rob Lawton to start thinking about ‘superheroes’ without anysuper powers. Wandering into the light after a lab full of highly dangerous chemicals exploded all around him, here’s his results.

Thinking of non-super superheroes makes you wonder what classifies a superhero exactly. I would say a definition of a superhero is a character possessing “extraordinary or superhuman powers” and dedicated to protecting the public. However, Googles web definition page gets it a bit wrong saying A superhero is a character in a cartoon or film who has special powers and fights against evil Superheroes like Batman and Superman.” Find out why that’s wrong after the jump.

Superman & Batman


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

When I think of dragon tattoos, I think of overweight, middle-aged men sat outside British pubs called The George that casually place BNP flyers on the bar. And in the toilets. And stuffed inside every Kick-‘Em-Out ice cream sundae, like little papery flakes of racial intolerance. You know the kind of tattoos: those really horrid bluey-greeny faded ones, yellowed over the years by an abundance of nicotine and cirrhosis of the liver.


Thankfully though, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is set in rural Sweden, not Burnley, and while it may be the world’s most blue-eyed-blonde-haired country, the movie isn’t a tribute to white supremacy. In fact, Millennium Trilogy author Stieg Larsson was an ardent Trotskyist, so on the political spectrum sat a good few places to the left of Nick Griffin and his loveable ilk.

Larsson’s communist outlook in mind, it’s hardly surprising that corporationy corporations and Nazis in the story aren‘t portrayed too favourably. The coporationy Nazis are even more rubbish, evidently painted in light conditions similar to those of Christmas at the North Pole circa 10,000BC. But I’m getting ahead of myself.


How Lovely Is Too Lovely?

I haven’t read Alice Sebold’s ‘The Lovely Bones’. I was going to read it before I saw Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the best-selling novel, but then I thought that for the purposes of my blog it would be easier to analyze the film if I wasn’t affected by the books alleged power. I was hoping that as a stand alone piece, the core material would transfer faithfully enough to move me all the same. The last time that Peter Jackson adapted from literature, he created the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and we all know how that turned out).



The Lovely Bones

“They say in heaven love comes first/ We’ll make heaven a place on Earth.”

First adaptations of books. Then adaptations of computer games, theme park rides, adverts, trailers. Now, Peter ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Jackson has taken on the work of the late, great Belinda Carlsle.


Of course he hasn’t you silly sausages, instead it’s the latest literary adaptation to hit the screens based on the wonderful best-seller, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Prepare for your tears to be well and truly jerked.


Pride & Prejudice

Reading Jane Austen is like watching The Wire. Bear with me, I have evidence to back this up.

Both The Wire and Jane Austen inhabit a completely different world to myself and the average watcher/reader. From location to dress to language to the complex social hierarchy, it’s a bewildering place to be. Stick with both, though, and you’ll find that in no time at all (four our five episodes and approximately a hundred pages in ) you find that not only do you understand what’s going on, you want to find out what’d going to happen next.

Both are ultimately rewarding, and for first time watchers/readers there will no doubt be a period where you recommend either/both to everyone you meet.


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