Road to the Pulitzers – Don’t Lie To Me

My first “early” start was today, a 10AM lecture/introduction to the course, which I only discovered about 30 minutes prior to the event. That most likely explains why only 13 of the 26 students were present there. It was surprisingly interesting, though I could feel my spine slowly moving out of place as I had taken a rather uncomfortable position on the chair but didn’t want to rearrange myself and make a fuss, resulting in making myself a distraction or center of attention. Soon enough I positioned myself again and I was fine, but soon after came pain of the mind.

“You’re the cleverest class we’ve had” was said, or at least something along those lines (defamation unintentional, sorry), “you’ve all passed your A-Levels, so you’re officially clever”. Now I know my grades, and even if the rest of the group got A*’s and Distinctions and so on, why would you put that kind of pressure on a bunch of first year graduates? “You’re really clever, and in return, we expect you to put out the best work we’ve ever come across!”.

Okay, perhaps that isn’t what they were saying, but that’s how it came across, both lecturers were nice enough. Just don’t lie to me, I’ve spent enough time with BS teachers to know how they try and alter their pupil’s perceptions of the class and subject. Anyway, now I know what books I need to read, as well as to grab a newspaper everyday, I feel a tiny bit for confident in my decision of taking this degree. The university also uses WordPress as the base for their website, which is like a 3,000 word English essay where you have to fill in the correct word to make the sentence appear sensible.

My only worry is using Mac hardware, something I’m not entirely use to because of my distaste for Apple’s hardware. Never owned an iPhone, iPad, iPod, none of it. I’m sure my laptop will suffice for the time being but come to a video editing stage and I’m sure Macs will be central to the process. Ah well, can’t have your cake and eat it I suppose.

Finishing just after 12, it was a hard decision as to whether to walk into the city center or take a shower. I opted for the former, bad mistake, came home all sweaty and horrible. Had to take a trip to Poundland for some deodorant, but also picked up twin pack of Jaffas and some Sunny D. Hello 2001, it’s me again, now where’s my N64?

No events tonight, was debating finding the “Big Fat Quiz” but decided against it because I couldn’t find any teammates; hopefully some fellow journos will form a team with me in the coming weeks and we’ll trump everyone.

Tomorrow’s plan: Wake up early, take advantage of Subway deal for two breakfast subs and drinks for £4, officially enroll for university at around 4PM. Write up some news for NE in the meantime and see what everyone else is up to.

Road to the Pulitzers – Weird Smells and Shouty White Girls

This is cheating a little bit, as my course doesn’t actually start until at least next week, but no one said the road to the Pulitzers was all work and no play. It’s actually some play on the side as you realize the party you’re at has really crap music and a bunch of white girls screaming “let’s get drunk” in the middle of the dancefloor.

Granted, watching from my window at 2AM and seeing everyone partake the walk of shame was quite entertaining.

First days are strange, some people find them awkward, me not so much. Met the rest of my flatmates, and I appear to be the only male in this flat of 6 or 7. Immediately got everything ready and set up on the Sunday evening after I arrived, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to motivate myself the next Monday morning. Now I’m laughing as everyone else struggles through their hangover to set up beds, get food, internet and so on. I’m probably the tidiest person here at the moment, how’s that for breaking stereotypes? I came in last night to a neat, freshly made bed, laid down and cracked out a couple of Smash 4 matches.

Enrollment doesn’t begin until Wednesday, I’m the very last group as it’s done by alphabetical surname order. Apparently journalism falls under “Business, Law and Sport” categories, who knew? I need to find the housing office so I can tel them everything’s okay with my room, no defects, unless you call the bar of dark chocolate I found behind the bed a defect. I was tempted, but it was put in the bin, who knows how long it was there.

There’s also a peculiar smell coming from somewhere in my room, I think it was the bathroom, but after I had a shower, it was gone. In conclusion, it was either me or the air conditioning, and I know where my guess is going. I’m contacting the helpdesk tomorrow morning to sort the aircon out.

There’s another party tonight, but all the tickets are sold out and I’m not entirely sure if I can be bothered to buy one on the door. “Battle of the Brands” (groan, I know), probably going to give that a miss. Tuesday is the “Big Fat Quiz” which I’m sure to enter as long as I can find some teammates to go along with, and even if not, I’ve watched enough hours of TV gameshows to hold my own. Then the next interesting event is Sunday, where they’re showing Captain America and Captain America: The Winter Soldier somewhere around this campus. I’ll follow the trail of hundreds of Marvel fans gasping at Evans’ muscular guns, that should lead me straight to it.

Boiling it down to a simmer, university is off to a pretty smooth start. Today’s meal was ready-made Beef Lasagne, which came out like Beef Lasagne soup; can’t complain though, it was still pretty good. Just as I’m finishing this up, I’m polishing off a good-old fashioned spaghetti on toast, which is probably going to become a staple part of my diet. Faint echoes of “Turn down for what” plague the air, as if Lil Jon was some sort of omnipotent god, and I find myself right at home. I think the next three years are going to be just okay.

Road To The Pulitzers – One Week To Go

Journalism is a funny subject. No one intends to be a journalist, I believe. At least not at an early age, where aspirations of being a police officer, astronaut or dinosaur are normally in a child’s top 5 list of career aspirations.

One more week until I start my degree at Winchester. Who would have thought this would happen 5 years ago? Certainly not me when I picked Drama and Geography as part of my GCSE’s. Earlier aspirations of mine included being some sort business type, an excuse to wear a suit every day probably. Also, acting was a brief “dream”, as was comedian.

I’ve been journalism-ing since I was about 13, and by that I mean I was posting my opinions online as fact and would argue and insult anyone who disagreed. I downloaded videos and uploaded onto my site so I didn’t have to source correctly. I wrote my reviews based on the opinions of others and what was expected. 5 years later and I’ve already learnt so much, but I want to learn more. I want to learn about front-line journalism, investigative journalism, paparazzi journalism. From A-Z I want to know it all, the good side and the bad.

But journalism is my future. The bright future with pretty poor pay, dodgy job-security and a lot of hard work. But I love it, I really do. Even if I end up doing something not strictly journalism as a career, I’ll have enjoyed doing this course. Anything from an entertainment journalist to a news presenter to one of those YouTube famous wannabes will do for me. As long as I can afford to live in a flat, with a cat and eat pizza, I’m good. That’s where I am in my life right now, I just want to be good.

No waking up at 40 realising I’ve wasted my life because I was forced to choose a career in my early teens.

Just pizza and Netflix.

Also I get paid to write features and news now, SWEET IT ONLY TOOK ME 5 YEARS. WE’RE ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS DAN.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Die Hard


No, not greeting the end with an erection, the classic Bruce Willis film directed by John McTiernan. Set at Christmas, the best period for action films (see Iron Man 3), John McClane (badass name) arrives in LA with his wife and go to a party. Then Hans Gruber (badass villain name) played by Alan Rickman (yes, Snape) comes in and poops over the place if you will.

Gruber is pissed at this Chinese business person called Nakatomi and steals his money, Gruber is pretty much a terrorist. Gruber has a squad of cronies that all at some point attempt to take down McClane with names like Franco, Tony, Eddie and Uli. Ultimately, they all fail, but not before Willis cracks some great one-liners.

McClane uses stuff like C4 to blow up floors and the cronies, then some hostages get taken, people get shot and somehow Snape knows Bruce has a wife and children, so he finds her and takes her to the helicopter he demanded that’s at the top of the building. As McClane gets his wife back, he kills more cronies. Eventually Willis is caught in a 2-1 with Snape and his last crony. Laughing at them, Willis stalls for enough time to grab the gun he had taped to his back (as we all do) and shoot them both. Gruber hangs on for dear life but eventually Willis lets him fall to his death. Lovely chap.

The use of Beethoven and his 9th Symphony throughout is superb, and the Christmas setting is strangely charming and serves as quite the contrast to the films motifs and actions. With a thrill every minute, brilliant character portrayals and manages to stay relevant and entertaining to this day, Die Hard is a contemporary classic and will be used as a template for action movies in the years to come.

Not sure about those sequels though…yeesh.

I rate this movie “Never, Snape, never” out of 10.

1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Bad Boys


It’s easy to forget this was a ’90s movie, if the picture quality was better and looked up to par as movies do now, then you’d mistake this movie for a modern ones for multiple reasons. Smith and Lawrence don’t age, the humour is still funny, and everything looks so damn good. Bay, where the hell is Bad Boys III?

While audiences have been treated to 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street, comparisons between the white and black counterparts are made, but while general reviews give the consensus that the modern versions are better, I laughed and enjoyed Bad Boys more than I did 21 Jump Street.

Two buddies, black buddies, with enough chemistry to teach half a small country high-grade science. Beverely Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon and more serve as inspiration for the film, but it’s Smith and Lawrence who make the film what it is. I couldn’t tell you their names, as to me it’s always Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. I couldn’t tell you the plot, something to do with drugs, they’re looking for them, shit goes down.

Director Bay presents us with plenty of gorgeous scenery to look at, and soon enough blows it up. Car chases, guns, murder, loud noises, which, even by ’95 was Bay’s common trope, feels fun and energetic. Couple that with some cracking (but now cliché) one-liners, you’re in for a ride.

You’ve seen this film before, I guarantee you. Films before or after have the same story, the same characters with the same jokes, but there’s something about Bay’s presentation and style that makes Bad Boys feel different from the rest. Pre-Hancock Will Smith and pre-2000 Lawrence aren’t insufferable and play off some sitcom-esque jokes, like explaining why there’s a bunch of pictures of Smith in Lawrence’s apartment (it’s Smith’s apartment, but Lawrence quickly finds an excuse).

To this day the film doesn’t feel dated, neither the sequel (more on that later), there are scenes compiled with implausible situations, but nowadays we know better to expect reliability and reality from Michael Bay.

With high production values with gorgeous set direction in Miami, brilliant chemistry between Smith and Lawrence who make this fun to watch even when it’s not particularly engaging, Bay’s typical tropes scattered throughout, Bad Boys stands the test of time and is enjoyable to this day.

I rate this movie “the start of Bay’s popularity and influx, then decrease in quality perfectly represented by this gif” out of 10.

1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Taken


It’s 2014 and I still hadn’t seen this film, despite there being an apparently poor sequel but before the eventual Taken 3: Taken The Piss. Liam Neeson has always been one of my favourite actors, so I felt obliged to take the time and sit down to watch it.

*Film opens with flashback of daughter’s birthday* Welp, it’s apparently obvious what this film will be about. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) is a dick to her ex-husband Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) so I already dislike her, and that’s even before I remember she butchered a certain X-Men character.

Anyway, on to that famous speech, wow. Out of context, it always seems cliché, but seeing Neeson’s face as his daughter is taken away over a phone in another country, then spout out that speech, that’s a great performance. But moving forwards, the whole analysing thing that happens minutes later requires some suspension of disbelief. No way does a phone carry that good of sound quality to find the town in with a foreign person lives in, no way at all. Then the Sherlock thing where Neeson goes into the apartment and “sees” what happened purely through the medium of sound. Nah mate, that ain’t happening, you’re not that good.

Now Neeson’s trying to find his daughter in France, but he kills the dude he’s chasing, then he decides to piss off another French dude, then he’s driving down a hill and causing more car crashes, how the hell did we get here, wait, now he’s in the city?

Anyway, 20 minutes later English Neeson just shot some retired French Neeson’s wife and is becoming increasingly more badass as the film continues. I’m still not sure whether it’s my man boner for Neeson or his gravelly voice (hey Hayter) or what, but hey, he’s looking good, we can all appreciate good aesthetics.

Moving on, Neeson is checking out some fat asses and he finds his daughter, decides to force a French man to buy her and then gets knocked out by ignoring basic spy skills. Then he shoots dudes, shoots another important dude, finds his daughter, manages to not get shot by jumping around a bit and luckily every bodyguard in France attended the Stormtrooper Academy, so that’s lucky, I guess.

Finally, the movie wraps up about 10 minutes after all that. It feels like an anticlimax but it’s not, maybe a little short but it makes a promise and delivers, you can’t fault the film for that. Pierre Morel does a good job of making what could have been an extremely mediocre film rather enjoyable, and Neeson is the shining star of the performance; without either, this wouldn’t have been the cult classic is became.

I also realise the coincidence of watching this on Father’s Day, so happy Father’s Day dad, I know you probably wouldn’t gun down 100 men for me, but I know you’d want to, in your mind, it’s the thought that counts.

I rate this movie “Liam Neeson speaks gracefully and scares me but makes me sort of horny simultaneously” out of 10.

1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.

1000 & 1 Movie Reviews: Ted

Give Seth MacFarlane a budget, a camera and some time and he’ll come out with the best shit you’ll ever hear. Unfortunately, it’s not long until you realise, damn, that shit smells, and it’s actually kinda bad. And now you have a shit on your living room floor, no one wants that. It’s hard to get out the carpet.

Family Guy! The show that was made when The Simpsons stopped being funny but the creators realised that the answer was in fact not another cartoon but they still continue to run with it. I’ve enjoyed episodes of Family Guy, there’s one vivid episode where Stewie and/or Brian take drugs and go on a drug trip which particularly comes to mind, but really, the rest of it is just “Hey guys, fat joke”, “Hey guys, racist joke”, “Hey guys, celebrity joke”, “Hey guys, retardation joke”. That and cutaways, I hate cutaways.

But if you do enjoy Family Guy and its particular style of humour, then you’re sure to enjoy Ted. Because I did. It has its moments, and Marky Mark’s (Wahlberg) perfect casting as a thirty years old with the brain of an eight year old fits so well with a computer generated teddy bear and Mila Kunis.

Ted is weird because it requires you to briefly suspended belief in order to rationally process that a teddy bear has come to life through the power of a young boys wish (which, if were true, there’d be a lot more naked celebrities), but then expects you to just roll with the fact that Marky Mark hangs out with this bear all the time and that he or Ted never did anything substantial with their lives despite acquiring an inanimate object that came to life or that there is apparently a drug dealer who gives out drugs to talking teddy bears who as far as I am aware have no circulatory system so the need for which would be made redundant but then again if there’s a drug dealer giving these drugs to a teddy bear perhaps he’s been using his own product a bit too much and might want to consider a change of profession.

Ted is filled with several “Hey guys, here’s a modern pop culture joke that we need to put in because most Family Guy views have no idea who Flash Gordon is” and more are riddled throughout. Its ability to scrutinise almost every social class or group, black, Asian, gay, fat and so, but not itself, the straight white male feels cheap. There’s plenty of jokes right there, hell I don’t doubt for a second that MacFarlane could produce some self scrutinising stuff that would be absolutely top-notch. But Ted gives us a fat kid, an actual fat kid, who’s only reason for being in the movie other than to artificially move on the plot is to be made fun about. Oh, and there’s an Adam Sandler joke, it’s like Ted wants to join you in the audience and watch its own film.

Ted revolves around a kidnap plot, but there’s a worse crime occurring here. The underused characters like Patrick Warburton, Ryan Reynolds, and hell even Mila Kunis, she could have been a far funnier character instead of following the “leads’ girlfriend who is expecting marriage proposal so forces significant other to make a hard decision” trope. If these characters had been used to their potential, the film wouldn’t have felt like such a drag when Ted isn’t on the screen.

Despite all this, I liked Ted. It’s funny, dumb and a laugh. There’s a thousand better films out there, for sure, but Ted doesn’t try to do anything else other than make you laugh.

I rate this movie “Ted gives life affirming advice” out of 10.”tumblr_mlr7vgmZ9A1r8g2gko1_500  1 Film, 5 Minutes To Review. More 5 minute reviews here.