Category: Pop culture addict

re:View – Star Trek: Into Khan’s Private Quarters Please Darkness

So I’ve been to the cinema to watch Something With Benedict Cumberbatch In It Start Trek: Into Darkness. And was quite surprised to be reminded how much I used to love Star Trek. (Not sure how I ever forgot.)

I don’t think my brain is currently working enough to put a coherent review together, so I’ll just write down some thoughts that crossed my mind while watching the movie, in roughly chronological order. If you manage to make any sense of this, the result might contain some spoilers.

  1. Spock’s a hero.
  2. Kirk’s a hero, too.
  3. Heroism is well underrated in Starfleet HQ.
  4. Spock just doesn’t get it, does he?
  6. Kirk’s being a hero again.
  7. Benedict Cumberbatch is extremely watchable in spandex this role.
  9. Simon Pegg as Scotty is one of the funniest things the Enterprise has ever seen.
  10. There’s not enough of Benedict Cumberbatch in this film.
  11. Oh hello, you beautiful dark stranger wielding futuristic heavy weapons!
  12. Khan: 1; Klingon army: 0
  13. NOT THE FACE!!!!!!!
  14. Kirk remembers he’s got some moral integrity.
  15. (And he’s so going to regret it.)
  16. Khan has a heart. And a bloody good reason for doing all this evil shit.
  17. Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting is flawless. That tear…
  18. Unexpected shit happens.
  19. Everyone on board gets their turn at being a hero.
  20. Kirk-sickle and Khan-sickle shooting through space faster than the speed of light. TOO. FUCKING. EXCITING.
  21. Scotty saves the day.
  22. Khan: “BTW I’m actually totally evil AND YOU WILL ALL DIE NOW, kthxbye.”
  23. Assorted heroism; stuff breaks big time.
  24. Khan actually gets hotter the more violent he becomes.
  25. Spock finally gets it and proceeds to being an even bigger hero.
  27. Kirk’s still the biggest hero of them all.
  28. Some tragic shit happens and I get a bit worried.
  29. Naah, of course it ends well. It’s Star Trek!
  30. I’ll faint now. Just freeze me and put me in that cryotube with Khan, ok?

The best thing about this film, though, is the fact that it inspired the Internet to do THIS:


These are from the guys awesome lady at Khan&Kittens on tumblr and there are dozens more…

Thank god I’m finally obsessed
with Sherlock!

I’ve recently gotten into Sherlock. I know, took my time. But I’m making up for the slowness – I just don’t have enough time to watch TV! – with the level of my obsession.

So, as I normally do when I start obsessing about something, I went on the internet. And the the internet instantly reminded me of the wonders of fandom, the ship, losing a whole day in fanfiction…and that you can never follow too many feeds posting pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch.

I think I’m enjoying this so much because it takes me back to the days when I was a teenager, had a lot more time to watch TV, and stayed up all night reading (or writing) fanfic and browsing into infinity through forums and galleries. And also because Sherlock is the first TV drama that has really gotten to me in this way since the end of X-Files.

Cheekbones alert! (It’s ok to faint a little.)


Ooh, obsessions. How I missed you.

Other contributing factors are certainly that I’ve always been a fan of the original Sherlock stories and, to no small extent, that the Cumberbatch is so damn perfect as Sherlock (and in pretty much every other way, but let’s not digress.)

And then there’s #johnlock. Careful when you tumblr that – the likeliness of NSFW content is high. Johnlock has become the fan community’s label for the relationship between Sherlock and John Watson, which is certainly an interesting one whether you ship it or not. (If you are asking yourself what all this has to do with marine vessels, it’s probably time to look up shipping at this point.)

I’m not exactly a shipper when it comes to Sherlock. Maybe a little bit ship-curious. But I do think that the writers of the series have done a tremendous job in crafting a modern version of the legendary relationship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, acknowledging the “are they / are they not?” question with a lighthearted nod at regular intervals. And even though you’d think the writers had fired a fatal blow at the ship by saying recently that romance is not going to happen – “they’re just not wired that way”, apparently – there is certainly enough subtext going on in each episode to keep the ship floating.

So, as much as I enjoy watching and re-watching, and re-watching, and pause-facing Sherlock, I enjoy scrolling through miles of my tumblr and Instagram feeds filled with fun and fancy artwork and shared obsessions. I find it fascinating – and immense fun – to delve into the fandom and observe other people’s perceptions of a TV drama I’m loving. I want to STUDY this stuff. Seriously: If I was still at uni I would totally propose a dissertation analysing the internet’s reaction to the BBC’s Sherlock.

Naturally, my little inner fangirl was extremely delighted last week to find Benedict Cumberbatch ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT THE FANFIC and Johnlock and all that on TV. That’s just like complete meta-awesomeness.

Here’s the full clip of his appearance on Top Gear from YouTube (until the pull it anyway) and since the Cumberbunny is so utterly watchable you might as well watch the whole thing! (Or if you don’t have ten minutes, BuzzFeed it.)

Cumberbatch discussing Star Trek on Top Gear:

It’s a great relationship…between Kirk and Spock… No! You see, this is it. If I talk about a relationship between two men in a drama, they’re immediately at it. The world wide inter-lie will just basically go, splat, there’s a load of fanfiction, which has me and John Watson floating in space, on a bed, handcuffed to one another…and not just with handcuffs, either.

Oh Sherlock, you see, but you don’t observe…the subtext!

Death and the Penguin*?

So Pearson and Bertelsmann have merged Penguin with Random House, and the best name they could come up with for the venture is Penguin Random House.

Which strikes me as the most lamentable missed opportunity for awesome branding. I mean, why oh why didn’t they call it Random Penguin?!!!

On a more serious note, I do hope that this means good things for the future of books. With all this digital reading stuff and more and more independent bookshops disappearing, I can’t help but worry that my generation will be the one that might see the death of the printed book.


* …by the way, is still one of the gaztrillion books on my to-read list.

Finally a new feminist icon in a drama series I can obsess about

Catching up on BBC2’s crime drama The Fall. Super excited about the character DSI Stella Gibson, and about her feminism especially. So excited I actually laughed and whooped out loud while watching episode 3 in the office at lunchtime.

Favourite Stella Gibson observation so far:

“It’s the one night stand that bothers you, isn’t it? Man fucks woman. Subject: man. Verb: fucks. Object: woman. That’s okay. Woman fucks man. Woman, subject. Man, object. That’s not so comfortable for you, is it.”

Closely followed by this gem of a comeback when she gets scolded by her superior for sleeping with a fellow officer:

Superior: “He was a married man.”
Stella: “He wasn’t wearing a ring.”
Superior”: I’m sure that’ll be some comfort to his wife, when she finds out her husband spent his last night on earth in your bed.”
Stella: “You were a married man when you spent a night in my bed.”

Right back at’cha, double standards!

I have seriously not been this excited about a female character in a drama series since The X-Files and Prime Suspect.

And did I mention that my new feminist hero is being played by my all time favourite actress Gillian Anderson?!

I’ll review The Fall properly at some point. Once my inner fangirl has calmed down a bit.

How my photo came to feature in Richie Sambora’s new video

As I may have mentioned previously, Richie Sambora is my personal guitar, singing and songwriting hero. His two solo albums have been a constant companion since my teenage days. Life changed, my tastes in music changed and bounced back, but those 22 songs from Stranger in this Town (1991) and Undiscovered Soul (1998) remained on top of my playlist throughout.

The more excited I was to find that, after fourteen long years, Sambora’s third solo album is to be released. In the run-up, his PR team thought out a totally interactive, socially networked competition: The first single, Every Road Leads Home to You, was released free of charge and the fans were asked to submit photos they associate with the lyrics via Instagram.

A selection of photos would be used to make the video for the song. Well, not the proper, official music video – for that they preferred to have Mr Sambora strolling, bleached blond and guitar over one shoulder, through the desert for four and a half minutes. Meanwhile, the fans’ creative contributions were used in the official lyric video – as I’m told, another new-is marketing effort undertaken by various labels. Presumably to pre-empt all those fans making their own lyric video, via Windows Movie Maker and Comic Sans, over the next few weeks.

And since I’m a hopeless fangirl, I dutifully instagrammed my photo into the Samborasphere. And one of them now carries the vital phrase “I’m” of the refrain line “When the bridge is burning and I’m losing my faith”, right after the solo, at three minutes thirteen, of the official lyric video. Staying in the frame for about a third of a second.

But, hey, my photo is in Richie Sambora’s video.

The lonely little bench sits on a hidden bit of beach just outside Zadar, in Croatia.

One million reasons to not watch The X Factor vs. the one reason to watch it this year

Under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t find me within a mile of a TV set showing The X Factor or one of its similarly idiotic clones.

I say “under normal circumstances” because, although I passionately despise mass-produced pop music and the artificially made pop stars that generally serve as a vehicle to its producers, with the start of this year’s X Factor series, special circumstances seem to have arisen:

Janet Devlin.

Janet Devlin at her X Factor audition (before that awful makeover where some idiot stylist smoothed out her beautiful hair)

It’s a shame, really, that she’s having to try to get signed via the Simon Cowell machinery which – should she win – will probably land her captivating voice on an album full of soul-less production-line pop songs that will be heard and forgotten as soon as the Christmas sale is over. Because this incredibly talented, elf-like and utterly likeable young woman deserves a career of making her own music and being her own, beautiful self.

I sincerely hope that, no matter what the Cowell Commercialisation Cult churns out this time, Janet will be able to “get there” and be a successful artist on her own terms.

Check out the audition video and you’ll see what I mean.

And due to these special circumstances, I’m now spending my Saturday evenings watching a programme I’d vowed I would never support, and spending 35p a week on text vote.

Well. I’m a sucker for a good voice.

How to make Girl with a Pen’s day 100% better

One easy step:

I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I was to find this blog. Not because of the images – I have at least 10 screenshots of Scully from every episode*, and better ones too. But it’s quite reassuring to know that I’m not the only nutcase out there who stops and screenshots her X-Files DVDs every few minutes purely for the enjoyment a trademark Agent Scully Face.

Click here to view in its full glory size

Now stop looking at me strange. Everybody is entitled to a little obsession in life. Or three.

* Or at least I had, until some fucktard junkie broke into my flat and stole my laptop along with everything else that was worth a penny…

re:View – Dark Angel, or: How to kill a perfectly good TV show

A friend got me hooked on Dark Angel recently. It’s a show I’d always wanted to watch, but back in the days, when I was still in Germany and still watching TV, its airtime clashed with X Files, so of course Dark Angel never stood a chance. But when my friend recommended the show, along with an offer to lend me her season one DVD set, I immediately hit “pause” on my current J.A.G. DVD marathon and jumped headfirst into a post-apocalyptic Seattle in the year 2019.

And, having finished watching the first season, I can honestly say, what a freaking fabulous show!

It’s got a kick-ass heroine, a ridiculously handsome male sidekick, a story that is thoroughly interesting (and stays interesting), an amibiguous super rogue, ambiguous good guys, a range of minor characters you’d totally want as friends, settings created with a loving eye for detail, a rocking soundtrack, it’s dead funny at times and makes you cry at other times.

So why did I not head off to buy the second season as soon as the credits on the last episode rolled?

Because, for all that’s great about it, Dark Angel has one big, fat, annoying flaw. And even without having seen the second (and final) season, it’s easy to see how this flaw became its downfall.

Continue reading

re:View – Nine (reasons why this much-anticipated film is one big, sad missed chance)

  1. Nine stars Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Fergie and Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s about as many grand names as you can fit on a movie poster. (With exception of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, maybe.) And that exactly is its curse, too. Packed with so much fame and talent, it has to be amazing. Otherwise it will just be “hmm, well, bit disapointing, don’t you think?” The missed chance here? Well, let me just say it wasn’t amazing.
  2. Despite the high density of talent, charisma and glamour on the screen, this film manages to be exceptionally bland. And “bland” is by no means a lazy writer’s comment. I’ve tried for the last two hours to come up with an adjective that describes the experience. Nine is definitely not amazing, great, cool, good, decent. But the thing is, it’s so…well, bland, that I can’t even call it bad. It’s just sort of neutral. Like the colours of the iconic Italy it’s trying to bring to life (not very successfully so).
  3. It suffers from a distinct lack of plot. I know, I know – that’s the point. The Maestro doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing when trying to make his new film. But we would also get that without the film itself demonstrating that it doesn’t have a clue as to what it is doing either.
  4. In a way following on from 3., the film is of course based on a musical. And musicals tend to get away with being a bit light on the storyline side, mainly because they’ve got all that singing and dancing and being glamorous and stuff. But there are also things that musicals aren’t very good at, one of them being the subtler notes and the more intimate acting. When a musical gets transformed into film, you’d kind of expect them to make use of the chances offered by the medium (as Chicago and Phantom , for example, have done rather impressively.) Nine just sort or randomly puts people into costumes and makes them burst out into song right in the middle of what otherwise could have been nicely done non-musical scenes.
  5. The characters are exceptionally lifeless. Except for the Maestro (Day-Lewis) maybe, but even in his case you get bored of all the eccentricity and torturedness after the first hour. And the women are basically just assorted puppets:
    • The loving, faithful, silently suffering little wife (Cotillard) loving and suffering so faithfully and silently that it just makes you wanna be sick.
    • The hyper-sexy, naive mistress (Cruz) being so over-the-top pouty and clingy that she’s almost comical – sadly without being the least bit funny.
    • The whore (Fergie) who was apparently the Maestro’s first temptation (and brings us the only really impressive musical number) but somehow remains shockingly unattractive in all her aggressive sexuality and completely loses out on the temptation bit.
    • The muse (Kidman) who’s sort of elusive in a trademark Kidman-esque way, but the film fails to turn that elusiveness into her character’s significance – which means she’s basically just irrelevant.
    • The maternal best friend (Dench) who’s mainly babbling good advice in a maternal best friend sort of style and therefore loses most of the impact she could have had.
    • The late mother, whose absence apparently accounts for the Maestro’s tortured soul and screwed-up love life – but since the film somehow forgets to tell us how and why, she also becomes pretty much irrelevant.
    • And the slutty fashion journalist who’s entirely irrelevant from the start and probably serves the sole purpose of suggesting that fashion journalists generally flash their hold-ups at/hand their hotel keys over to anyone remotely famous.

    (They all look hot in their song and dance outfits though.)

  6. Even though being some of Hollywood’s most worshiped beauties, the women appear flawed. Penelope is a bit wrinkly, Kate looks like her mum, and Fergie’s got some horrendously bad skin and seems to be missing a neck. Now don’t get this wrong. I’m all for real women and a revival of un-Photoshopped magazine covers and stuff. But this is a musical, and in musicals people just have to be shiny and beautiful and perfect and a bit unreal. That’s just, ya know, unwritten musical law. Musicals just aren’t the place for harsh reality and the scolding finger of ethics.
  7. The singing ranges between moderate and awful. Even Fergie’s song (Be Italian), although choreographed and shot beautifully, occasionally wanders along the edge of borderline painful.
  8. Kate Hudson kind of looks like Goldie Hawn. Which is kind of distracting. (Okay, so I was short of one reason for my list.)
  9. And then there’s Sophia Loren. Which, in principle, is tremendous, amazing, wonderful. Except that she’s somehow not really there. And I don’t mean because she’s playing the Maestro’s late mother. It just seems as if they weren’t really sure what to do with her in the film, so she just makes a few random appearances. It’s kind of like they cut out a photo of Sophia Loren and stuck it onto some of the scenes. Which is not only a total waste of Sophia Loren, but also quite a big disappointment when you’ve been looking forward to seeing her in a film for months.

Verdict: Does make you wanna sing and dance though. In your underwear.