Saturday, July 12, 2014

A few more South Korean movies

Using the Hola location unblocker, I've been able to watch a bunch of South Korean movies that are not available on Netflix UK. All three movies fall in to the South Korean revenge genre, a category I think may have kickstarted by the classic movie Oldboy - this film which was my gateway in to South Korean cinema. The stand-out movie in the bunch is "I Saw the Devil", which is up there with the best of them (think Oldboy, New Order, The Man from Nowhere, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good The Bad and The Weird).


I Saw the Devil
****1/2

A Company Man
***

Confession of a Murder
***

With Hollywood's well of originality running drier than the Atacama Desert, it's no surprise that I Saw the Devil is being remade for Western audiences. It's a shame, as I think the studios are repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot. If they simply bought the distribution rights to movies like Oldboy and I Saw the Devil, and marketed them like Western movies, I reckon they could really open audience's eyes to some foreign gems and leave them wanting more (witness the surge in interest in subtitled Scandinavian programmes in the UK). Instead, we get flat remakes that seem rather pointless.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Book: A Greedy Man in a Hungry World


Congratulations to Jay Rayner for writing a wise yet entertaining book about global food issues. Rayner takes the widest lens possible, looking at how rising populations (the UN predicts a rise to 9bn by 2050 and says that we will need to double food production by 2030) along with rising incomes in the emerging economies, primarily China, are overhauling the dynamics of the global food supply chain. The theme throughout the book is that our focus on local, organic, seasonal produce is a side issue, almost a non-issue in the grand scheme, and that while it may be hard to swallow, sustainable intensification may be the only way forward.

While Rayner has a clear opinion on most issues, he does well to consider the good and bad points of every argument and importantly, he comes armed with an abundance of well sourced facts. He also travels the world to report on the food production landscape from direct experience. Importantly, Rayner's conversational style of writing, which includes a fair chunk of personal, food related reminiscences, makes the book an easy swallow.

*** 1/2

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Wimbledon 2014

Alas, the annual Wimbledon tennis frenzy is over. The women's final this year was an extremely one sided affair, lasting just around an hour. The quality of tennis from the champion (Kvitova) was first rate but her opponent (Bouchard) didn't get a look in. With Wimbledon finals tickets for going for a song, I'm sure many people felt a little cheated, although in compensation they did get to witness a fantastic doubles final later in the evening. In contrast, the men's final this year (Federer vs Djokovic) was a finely balanced, grade A, balls to the wall, nerve wracking, knuckle biting, sweat inducing, battle of strength, stamina and skill. Kitchen sinks were thrown over and over, lapses were punished, and come backs were swift. The match was a four hour masterclass in in class and fortitude by two great ambassadors of the game. Tennis was the winner, along with Djokovic. Federer also proved to the armchair doubters that he still has what it takes, although I'm sure he doesn't give a jot about what the scribblers from the sidelines think. The guy still loves the game and it shows.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Mobile phone renewal

Here is a picture of the phones I've had over the years:



I received the last phone six years ago, in 2008. Here it in the close up:



Nokia 6300

Apart from a few nicks and scratches, the old work horse has held up surprisingly well over the years. However, in recent weeks, the battery wouldn't hold its charge for more than a few minutes of talk time and it was also worryingly swollen to the point where I could hardly get the back plate back on.

I did look at a few smart phones as potential replacements but in the end opted for a new battery (just £2.99) and a SIM-only EE deal for £9.99 a month (12 mth contract), which includes 500 minutes talk time and 500 texts and also still includes a valuable, free home broadband deal which I took up way back when. Hopefully, the little solid brick will keep going for a little while longer.  : )