[A group of astronauts] embark on a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europan ocean. After a near-catastrophic technical failure that leads to loss of communication with Earth and the tragic death of a crewmember, the surviving astronauts must overcome the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel, and survive a discovery on Europa more profound than they had ever imagined. (source: seat42f.com)
“Found footage” as a genre is a curious beast.
The films which call it home are put together in such a way that we’re led to believe that the footage survived all manner of terrible events, was found by those who went in search of the unfortunates who filmed it (and usually didn’t survive doing so) and reconstructed as a documentary of their terrible ordeal.
Done well – The Blair Witch Project (1999), Monster (2008), Cloverfield (2008) and Paranormal Activity (2009) are notable examples – these films have a real, visceral quality and an immediacy that can’t help but capture your attention.
While not a genre to be consumed en masse by those with an aversion to shaky hand-held cameras, they are a great way of drawing audiences almost immediately into the action, and if they’re compelling enough, not letting them go till the hopefully satisfying conclusion.
And there’s the rub.
So many of them are all spooky, intriguing set up with often a fair to middling payoff.
If you’re going to tantalise, then you need to deliver, and deliver impressively.
The buzz around Europa Report suggests it will do just that.
Visually stunning – its filmmaking artistry and representations of deep space have been compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Moon (2009) by space.com – it takes its premise from the idea that there is life in that there moon, Europa, life that may hold the secrets to where humanity came from, and whether we are truly alone in this big galaxy of ours.
Of course, as you might be expecting all that scientific curiosity and the philosophical musings that come with it do not always lead to the bright promised land we are expecting (Prometheus made that very clear).
And often it goes horribly, terribly wrong, and we’re reminded, yet again, that life is a fragile thing.
Europa Report looks like it will tick all the found footage genre boxes, as well as fulfilling all of the big bad monster at the end of the road promises it makes, which means all we need now is a devastatingly great ending.
We find out if it has one when it releases on 27 June this year (internet only) and in US theatres on 2 August.
I had it for years, it served me well, and unerringly came to my aid when I need it the most, usually in May every year.
What is this mysterious something? (And no, it is not Andrius Pojavis from Lithuania thanks for asking.)
Why, my ability to reasonably accurately predict the final Eurovision top 10 which in past years has seen me correctly pick 80-90% of the final top 10.
I am not sure whether it was the sameness of many of the songs, the tight leather pants of Ireland’s dancers which distracted me greatly, or some stray glitter in my eyes, but apart from placing some of the eventual top 10 randomly in my rankings, I appeared to be greatly out of step with the European zeitgeist.
(I suspect it has something to do with ignoring my gut instinct, which would have placed two songs I love, “Kedvesem” by ByeAlex from Hungary and “Birds” by Anouk from The Netherlands firmly in the top 10; instead I tried to second guess Europe and failed.)
Not that it will distress me greatly fortunately since I sensibly don’t base my self-esteem on how I psychically predict Eurovision voting patterns, but it underlined once again just how unpredictable this year’s results were.
While Emmelie de Forest was long favoured to take out the event, along with Norway and Greece if you believed this prediction, or with Azerbaijan and Romania (!) if this poll was to be believed, and Norway and Ukraine were always expected to place well (very well in my opinion – see below – which sadly proved to be unfounded), other songs confounded pundits like me.
For a start I clearly completely underestimated the appeal of Greece’s entry, Koza Mostra.
Yes “Alcohol is Free” had an infectiously catchy ska sound going for it, the presence of a revered national musical treasure in Agathon Lakovidis, and an irrepressible cheeky energy that saw it overcome the deficiencies in what was, by any estimation, a less than stellar song.
But it was also firmly in the novelty song camp, not quite “Who Let The Dogs Out” terrible to be fair, but veering dangerously close it, with a limited lifespan surely.
Unlike say the Ukraine’s entry “Gravity”, which has charted on iTunes across Europe, reaching #8 in Sweden for instance or Norway’s Margaret Berger whose catchy electropop number, “I Feed You My Love” which reached #2 in Greece and Sweden, and #3 in Finland (source: wiwibloggs.com), Koza Mostra have only managed to chart significantly in Greece itself.
Admittedly that is probably largely due to it being sung mostly in Greek but even so, it underlines that it’s appeal and shelf life are limited, which frankly begs the question – why did so many people vote for it right across Europe?
Another song that left me perplexed, confounded, befuddled and everything in between was “”It’s My Life” by Cezar from Romania.
He is, by all accounts a singer of great talent, a contratenor who won Romania’s version of The Voice, and a graduate of the Giuseppe Verdi Music Academy in Milan, and came to the contest with a song written by popular Romanian composer and writer Cristian Faur.
And yet with all that talent in hand, he chose to dress in a glittery Dracula-esque outfit, sing a falsetto so grating that dogs and cats were paddling across from Malmö to Copenhagen to escape the wailing.
Clearly he struck a chord with voters across Europe – perhaps the ones who, like my partner, celebrate the more kitsch acts of Eurovision with gusto and thankfulness that the contest still throws up these almost comical oddities – placing at #13 out of 26 but I am at a loss to explain why beyond his obvious novelty value?
Surely it wasn’t the quality, or lack thereof, of the performance?
Are they are all True Blood fans?
By and large though the Grand Final played out much as expected.
Strong contenders like Norway – such a dynamic performance by Margaret Berger on the Grand Final night after a slightly shaky start during Semi-Final 2 – and Ukraine placed high on the rankings, although I still expected Norway to be slightly higher than it was, while Italy and Azerbaijan charmed the crowds with their gorgeously sung, if conventional, ballads.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, I regret not going with my instinct and giving Hungary and The Netherlands a place in my top 10.
I am not sure why I erred except to say that I think I was trying a little too hard to second guess the voters of Europe who I thought would like the songs but not as much as they did.
I loved both songs the moment I heard them – Anouk gave “Birds” an engaging otherworldly flavour while “Kedvesem” bounced along with a quiet, percolating joy and ByeAlex’s suitably soft and raspy voice – and should have made the decision on that basis alone.
After all, for the all the jokes about Eurovision not being about the music, and songs like “It’s My Life” popping into the top 15 (when really it should have swapped places with Ireland’s Ryan Dolan and his song “Love Survives” which didn’t deserve to finish in last place) , good quality songs usually do make into the top rankings since neither the general voting public, nor the juries of music professionals – each score is made up of a 50/50 split of each group’s votes – are willing to give the tick of approval to sub-standard music.
No matter what the Eurovision conspiracy pundits may say.
France’s low finish was a surprise since Amandine Bourgeois – BEST. NAME. EVER. – gave a smokin’ performance of her Amy Winehouse-esque song “L’Enfer et Moi”, giving her heart and soul, and a fair swag of her melting mascara, to delivering one of the emotionally-intense performances of the night.
Another song that I expected to do far better “Marry Me” by Krista Siegfrieds of Norway.
I doubt it was the controversial (only if you’re a right wing tabloid I would wager) kiss at the end of the song where she locked lips with one of her female back up singers, since much of Eurovision’s core demographic these days is the gay community and their friends and family.
Perhaps the song simply couldn’t compete with the heart rending ballads, or no one wanted to marry Krista, which is hard to believe since she came across as absolutely delightful in the interview she did with Australia’s SBS television network, but whatever the reason, she deserved a far higher placing for a brilliantly catchy song performed with all the energy you could ask of any performer.
In the end of course, predicting who will and won’t win Eurovision, and who will place where is as problematic as any other contest with a host of variables – in this case mostly highly attractive, reasonably talented variables with a penchant for tight dresses, leather-clad back up dancers and pyrotechnic curtains of fire and light – and Eurovision 2013 didn’t disappoint in that regard, confounding and surprising pretty much as it always does.
Final results for Eurovision 2013
Denmark: Emmelie de Forest, Only Teardrops – 281 points Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov, Hold Me – 234 points Ukraine: Zlata Ognevich, Gravity – 214 points Norway: Margaret Berger, I Feed You My Love – 191 points Russia: Dina Garipova, What If – 174 points Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis, Alcohol Is Free – 152 points Italy: Marco Mengoni, L’Essenziale – 126 points Malta: Gianluca, Tomorrow – 120 points Netherlands: Anouk, Birds – 114 points Hungary: ByeAlex, Kedvesem – 84 points Moldova: Aliona Moon, O mie – 71 points Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa, Love Kills – 71 points Romania: Cezar, It’s My Life – 65 points Sweden: Robin Stjernberg, You – 62 points Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani, Waterfall – 50 points Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya, Solayoh – 48 points Iceland: Eythor Ingi, Eg a lif – 47 points Armenia: Dorians, Lonely Planet – 41 points UK: Bonnie Tyler, Believe In Me – 23 points Estonia: Birgit, Et uus saaks alguse – 19 points Germany: Cascada, Glorious – 18 points Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis, Something – 17 points France: Amandine Bourgeois, L’enfer et moi – 14 points Finland: Krista Siegfrids, Marry Me – 13 points Spain: ESDM, Contigo hasta el final – 8 points Ireland: Ryan Dolan, Only Love Survives – 5 points (source: mirror.co.uk)
And the top 10 I picked (with Norway as the winner, and the other 9 in no particular order):
Norway Just fourth place? Really? She was willing to feed you her love! HER LOVE DAMMIT. Denmark Granted I didn’t love this song but Emmelie de Forest sang it with passion and deserved a win Georgia Not the best ballad true but better than Azerbaijan’s effort I thought Italy He sang like an angel and looked gorgeous in the suit but he was so still. SO VERY STILL. Greece Sixth place Europe? Did you let all the free Ouzo go to your head just a little? Iceland Such a touching uplifting song and what a hunk of a man. Vikings? Yes please! Estonia She elevated an ordinary song with a extraordinary performance. Belgium I didn’t expect to like this song or Roberto as much as I did. A big surprise. Ukraine Such a powerful in-your-face song awesomely performed by a born entertainer Ireland Another song that grew on me. It deserved better than last place.
* So which songs would have made your top ten?
Every year, in the days following The Eurovision Song Contest, all the brotherhood and bonhomie breaks just a little, or a lot in some cases, and the accusations fly. Here’s a few articles you may find make interesting reading:
20 years after attempting an epic pub crawl, five childhood friends reunite when one of them becomes hell bent on trying the drinking marathon again. They are convinced to stage an encore by mate Gary King, a 40-year old man trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, who drags his reluctant pals to their home town and once again attempts to reach the fabled pub, The World’s End. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind’s. Reaching The World’s End is the least of their worries. (source: screenrant.com)
Isn’t nostalgia a wonderful thing?
It casts the past in such a flattering light that our present seems dim and tawdry by comparison, and we wonder if maybe, just maybe, a trip back to from whence we came via memory lane might be the ticket for what currently ails us.
Slapping on a our rose-tinted glasses, and packing our regrets of which we have many, we do our best to recreate the past with often mixed results.
In the case of Gary King (Simon Pegg) rushing back to embrace the past is about all he has left and he goes out all to convince his four reluctant friends, all of whom have well and truly moved into the sedate arms of adulthood (unlike perpetual teenager Gary), to go one last epic pub crawl.
But a disappointing recreation of a seminal event in their younger years is the least of their worries when they discover that the patrons of the pubs they visit are not who they once were …
And replete with glowing eyes and zombie gait, they seem hellbent on bringing down humanity starting with the five old friends.
The final film in the Edgar Wright-directed/Pegg and Wright-scripted Three Flavours Cornetto/Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, so named because they all feature one of the characters purchase an appropriately-coloured Cornetto ice cream, World’s End is an apocalypse film with an hilarious difference.
Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who have also starred in the previous two films in the series, Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), as well as Martin Freeman, Eddia Marsan, Patty Considine and Rosamund Pike, the film looks like an impressively funny mix of the world ending, and friends wondering if you can truly recreate the past (which if they prove unsuccessful at stopping the ghouls may be all they have left).
* The film will premiere in New Zealand on 18 July – it’s not clear though if this will be a world premiere as such – with the UK following on 19 July, USA on 23 August, and Australia on 3 October.
Great big shiny, gaudy, oddly-sung prizes in Dracula-esque outfits no less.
And frankly I was wholly unprepared for them.
That may sound like an odd thing to say when I have spent week upon glitter-saturated week listening to, thinking about and pontificating about the various songs on offer this year, which have run the gamut from of-the-moment brilliance through to sideshow carnival-cringing (or in other words, golden oldie classic Eurovision.)
But despite allowing for the fact that what I like won’t exactly match what the European public at large want, and so including songs in my Semi-Final Top 10 that were a mix of personal favourites and more populist numbers I may not necessarily love but could some appeal to, I still found myself reeling, yes reeling at some of the choices made tonight.
The most significant of these surprises was that Cezar, a man who apparently is quite a gifted operatic singer and much revered in Romania, made it through to the Grand Final.
Yes, the man who sounded like he had eaten one of the Bee Gees who were in turn desperately trying to climb out of his mouth, managed to secure enough votes to sing again.
Think about that.
It all means of course that we will treated to his comical Dracula-evoking outfit which had me laughing so hard that I found it hard to concentrate on listening to the song.
Which in retrospect wasn’t necessarily a bad thing I suppose.
Quite how a novelty act at best – which many people revered as a symbol of the old quirky, the-weirder-the-better- Eurovision of old, including I must sadly admit, my partner – could garner that much support and be given another chance to raise the dead is quote beyond me.
Another shock win-through to the Grand Final was Greece.
Though they at least had a fairly funky ska sound running in their favour, which redeems them somewhat, and are undoubtedly talented musicians and singers, the song is gimmicky at best.
And while I expected there to be a fairly strong Greek vote for the song, I didn’t expect it to be of a great enough extent to get them to the point where performing in the Grand Final could be a reality.
But here they are, kilts and al,l ready to dazzle, or appall, Europe all over again.
On the Richter scale of face-palming, OMG surprises, Armenia’s successful entry into the Grand Final wasn’t such a shock since it’s good old-fashioned rock and roll sung with a great deal of passion, if not much else.
So too Malta making it through.
Granted Gianluca is a sweet, handsome young guy with a lovely voice but “Tomorrow” is a slight song of little consequence that, as one of my friends noted during his performance, sounds like an album filler track, rather than a stand alone song.
Clearly though the good people of Europe thought differently.
Still I wonder how long it will survive out in the big, bad world of real singles which will likely eat “Tomorrow” alive before racing to the top of the charts.
The rest of the Top 10 – Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Norway, Iceland and Finland – fell into place much as expected although both Hungary and Norway started out a little shakily leading me to worry that their ability to deliver on the stage of Eurovision would be claimed by nerves, the blinding LED lights, or a fear that Greece would dance on stage midway through their act.
But both ByeAlex and Margaret Berger, rallied, and rallied magnificently, helped along great talent and songs that are so good they could pretty sing themselves.
Such were the Eurovision landscape-shaking surprises in Semi-Final 2 that I am beginning to seriously wonder if I, or anybody else for that matter can predict what Europe will go for in the Grand Final.
While I still believe the Top 10 songs, in no particular order (although I expect and hope Norway will win) will roughly look like this:
Norway (to win) Denmark Georgia Ireland Greece Iceland Estonia Belgium Ukraine France
I am also fully prepared, this time at least, for the fact that good austerity-addled people of Europe may completely my predictions completely out of the wind-machine whipped waters of Eurovision.
And the let the wailing and gnashing of teeth, amidst the detritus of another Eurovision Song Contest.
For an eternity of course if you’re Dracula … sorry I mean, Cezar.
Starring Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer, “Fruitvale Station” tells the true story of Oscar Grant (Jordan), who was shot and killed at age 22 by a BART police officer at the Fruitvale station in Oakland, Calif. on New Year’s Day in 2009. Grant’s death was caught on video thanks to cell phone cameras focused on his arrest, and the footage sparked outrage around the country. “Fruitvale Station” deals with the last day of Grant’s life. (source: huffingtonpost.com)
Movies that deal with recent real world events can be problematic.
Without the benefit of sufficient time elapsed to probably analyse the incident at hand, and with emotions running high, and perspectives skewed somewhat by closeness to the event, you can up with a movie that omits important facts, leans too far one way or the other, and which fails to adequately convey the full import of the moment.
By all accounts, Fruitvale Station, which recounts the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man who was shot once in the back by a member of the San Francisco Police Force after reports of a fight on a train and died the next morning, avoids all these pitfalls.
It benefits in part from the fact that the tragic incident was captured on multiple by multiple witnesses on a large number of mobile devices, ensuring that any conjecture about what was said and done was relatively moot.
Of course, what all this documentary evidence can’t comprehensively identify is why Officer Johannes Mehserle acted in the manner he did, using his gun instead of a taser to subdue Grant, nor what was going through Grant’s mind as he lay face first on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) platform, an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Much of the why, though of course not all of it, is drawn from the two court cases which followed Grant’s death.
The first one undertaken by Alameda County where the incident took place, and where Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter; and the subsequent Federal civil rights case brought by the U.S. Justice Department where Mehserle was given a two year sentence, less time already served.
Whatever the hard, cold nuts and bolts of the case, the fact remains that a man lost his life that day, and it’s this fact that forms the powerful emotional core of this remarkable movie.
Fruitvale Station opens in limited release in the USA on 12 July 2013, with other countries to follow later in the year and into early 2014.
This was the year that the gulf between what happens in the studio, and what happens under the bright lights, wind machines and pyrotechnic curtains of the main Eurovision stage, grew to abyss-like proportions (an abyss albeit decked out in shiny LED screens and surrounding by thousands of glowing electronic wristlet-fans).
Act after act stepped onto the Austerity Stage at Malmö Arena – so named because Sweden chose to spend only about half of the normal amount lavished on Eurovision, in keeping with the stripped back spirit of the times – and took songs that has been uninspiring and turgid on CD and turned them into overwhelming musical triumphs.
OK that might be taking things a little too far.
But it is true that countries like Estonia (“Et Uus Saaks Alguse” by Birgit) and Belgium (“Love Kills” by Roberto Bellarosa), whose songs had left me cold and unimpressed, came alive with performances that lifted their songs way beyond run-of-the-mill and into the sort of stratosphere where Europeans happily plucked them out of the musical ether and awarded them one of the precious top 10 spots and thus entry into the grand final on Saturday night.
Admittedly neither of them exactly excelled in the choreography department with the deer-in-the-headlights persona of Roberto for instance content with standing reasonably rigid on stage, in a very nice suit mind you, lifting his arm from time to time with feeling and dramatic urgency.
But who cares about impressive dance moves when the song is so damn infectious?
Certainly not the good people of Europe who propelled Belgium and Estonia, with two songs, based on their studio versions alone, that I had expected to be left behind in a cloud of listless glitter as more accomplished acts, on YouTube performances at least, like Austria (who failed to qualify thanks largely to a reasonably average turn on stage; which was in stark contrast to her bubbly, engaging personality offstage) and Cyprus roared past them.
How wrong I was.
While, as I predicted, Ukraine (who shone on the night) and Denmark, Serbia (their faux-lesbian playful onstage banter was not enough to get them through) and The Netherlands turned in impeccable performances that had the crowd eating out of their hands – that’s if you can eat with wind machines buffeting your every move – acts that I thought would be spending grand final night constructing stage props out of uncooked pasta, glue and felt tipped pens like Estonia, Belgium, and Russia instead found themselves propelled into contention for the main prize.
The biggest surprise on the night, if you leave aside the fact that not a single one of the Balkan contenders made it through, is that Andrius Pojavis from Lithuania found himself with something other to do than wash his lustrous locks on Grand Final night.
Along with Russia, whose song and to be honest timid performance made watching luridly-coloured paint dry a compelling alternative viewing option, Lithuania surprised me by making it into the top 10, a feat I did not think possible based on Andrius’s smile-adorned by lacklustre live rendition of “Something”.
Ireland was another surprise with Ryan Dolan’s voice sounding far more assured and powerful live than the recording had led me to believe.
The fact that his tattooed back up dancers/drummers, in leather pants so tight they must have been sewn into them at birth, were absolutely breathtakingly handsome and buff did not sway my opinion in any way, shape or form.
No, not at all.
Hot, buff back up men aside, it was a night that left me wondering if I still have my finger on the European zeitgeist.
Well, as much as I once did anyway.
While six of the acts I predicted would be successful in getting through to the Grand Final did in fact manage to do just that, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and Belgium caught me completely off guard by romping through against all expectations.
Still, while it played havoc with my chosen top 10, these sorts of catch-you-unawares moments are a very welcome thing indeed since a contest where everything plays out as expected would be boring to watch indeed.
Much like glitter-flecked paint really, and we all know how that turns out.
It’s hard to say if it is due to Australia’s welcome embrace of all the nationalities that make up the countries competing in The Eurovision Song Contest or simply our love of the quirky or the unusual, but something about this event has captured Australia’s attention, and quite possibly its heart too.
We love The Eurovision Song Contest.
There’s no point denying it.
Starting tonight, and right across Australia, Australians will be bedecking their lounge rooms in Swedish blue and yellow, making sure they have more adequate stocks of vodka and herring in the cupboard, and wondering whether they should dress up as a Viking or a Volvo car salesperson, with it all culminating in the big parties staged to mark the grand final telecast on Sunday night.
We will unashamedly be celebrating our ongoing love affair with Eurovision, aided and abetted by public broadcaster SBS, who, as they have done every year since 2010, have sent Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang to host the delayed Australian telecast of the event.
They will kick off their telecast with “The Heart of Eurovision” with Julia Zemiro at 7.30pm tonight followed by Semi Final 1 at 8.30pm followed on Saturday night at 7.30pm by Semi Final 2 and finishing with the Grand Final itself at 7.30pm on Sunday night.
In a sign that the rest of the world has noticed our Eurovision obsession, The Sydney Morning Herald today reported that we will be featured on a segment titled “Why Australia Loves Eurovision” during the first semi-final:
“Australia is being recognised for having been doggedly loyal to this show for 30 years, with a ”Why Australia Loves Eurovision” montage hosted by Zemiro being inserted into the first semi-final and seen by 120 million people. How can some post-punk German zither band compete with that?”
The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he’s encountered. The only way off is for Riddick to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. The first ship to arrive carries a new breed of merc, more lethal and violent, while the second is captained by a man whose pursuit of Riddick is more personal. With time running out and a storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won’t leave the planet without Riddick’s head as their trophy. (source: screenrant.com)
Riddick is back!
And he’s as badass as ever.
Frankly he has to be.
With a bunch of mercenaries on his tail – who don’t realise till far too late that they are simply a means to an end and not the ones in control of the situation – fearsome alien predators swarming in the dark in pursuit of a meal, and a storm that will wipe everyone out, he can’t afford to go all soft.
By the looks of the clip, which is all full-on heart-thumping-action, that’s never going to happen.
All of which means we’re in for one hell of a ride across a planet that is anything but lifeless, and where being afraid of the dark is actually a pretty good survival mechanism.
It looks like the same creative team who gave us the first two movies in the franchise are back, which is a good thing as screenrant.com made clear a year ago when the first pictures and news emerged from the set of Riddick:
“Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick writer/director David Twohy – who also wrote the story for the video short Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury – is once again the main creative force behind Riddick 3 [Riddick's original working title]. The threequel is reportedly being fashioned as a gritty sci-fi action ride that is both leaner and meaner (re: R-Rated) than the costly Chronicles of Riddick, as well as more of an adrenaline-fueled romp than the original Pitch Black.”
It’s a guilty pleasure sure, but a very well produced and plotted one that more than holds its own in the crowded science-fiction genre, which in 2013 seems to be a genre that is not only the flavour of the month but the entire year.
* Riddick opens in Germany and Hong Kong on 5 September 2013, UK and USA on 6 September and Australia on 12 September.
This series of videos which have been released to promote the upcoming zombie apocalypse movie World War Z, and which I came across courtesy of the awesome folks at bleedingcool.com, are chilling indeed.
The first one is a fairly standard Public Service Announcement which encourages the citizens of the world to band together, irrespective of race, creed, religion, nationality, in the face of the unnamed but looming crisis, named Crisis Zero, threatening to engulf the world.
The gravity of the announcement is unsettling enough but with each video the sense of unease and panic is accentuated as people begin to grapple with the fact that life as we know it will never be the same again.
It’s a sneak peek into the very beginnings of the apocalypse, and as bleeding cool points out, mirrors closely the tone of the source novel by Max Brooks.
Watch them, get ready and be prepared to be mightily disturbed.
Once more to the semi-final crystal ball gazing my friends, once more! (I am sure, totally sure, that Shakespeare will not mind me paraphrasing one of his more famous quotes in the service of Eurovision.)
Semi-final 2 looms and with it the prospect of 17 more countries doing everything in their power – will there be big costume reveals? Will the pyrotechnic arms race threaten to set the arena on fire? And can too many saccharine sweet ballads give you a sugar high? – to make sure they snare one of the all-important 10 spots in the grand final.
It’s like musical chairs but with way more spandex, and bigger hair, and working who will be left sitting on one of the seats could test the wisdom of Solomon.
But I am not deterred and so here are my picks for the 10 countries that I think will leave the arena tonight smiling from ear to ear, all selected on the basis that (a) I like them or (b) I don’t but likely others will) …
FINLAND: “Marry Me” by Krista Siegfrieds
She may be channeling Avril Lavigne but she is doing it very, very well with a song that is all sass, attitude and fun by the wedding limo-load. Add in her gift for putting on an entertaining performance and Finland ha a winner on their hands.
ICELAND: “Ég á líf” by Eythor Ingi
A sublimely beautiful meandering song in Icelandic that nails its folk credentials to the mast of the boat Eythor Ingi refuses to leave save to rescue cartoon men. It is whimsical, delightful and one of the few ballads with a personality of its very own.
AZERBAIJAN: “Hole Me” by Farid Mammadov
Not the most original ballad in the land, clearly written using a chart listing all the key ingredients that must go into a faux-affecting, heart-stirring song of love, lost and rabid raccoons (alas that last part isn’t part of the song but it would improve its originality a 1000-fold if it were). But it will no doubt appeal to many of the jury members and public voters alike giving it a good shot at securing a grand final berth.
SAN MARINO: “Crisalide (Vola) by Valentina Monetta
Another remarkably unsurprising ballad saved from complete and utter banality by Valentin’s exquisite voice. It’s a case of ordinary song uplifted by an extraordinary singer.
NORWAY: “I Feed You My Love” by Margaret Berger
Hands down the best song of all 39 entries. It’s highly original, musically-current, sung with passion and performed with verve and the best thing to come along since “Euphoria”. Douze points? Why yes please it deserves that and then some.
HUNGARY: “Kedvesem” by ByeAlex
Another quirky ballad that bounces along with quiet joy and an irresistible beat. Perhaps it’s the fact that it reminds of the theme tune to a cartoon show I watched as a kid (“Dr Balthazar”) but this makes me very happy and I suspect will have the same effect on the good people of Europe.
GEORGIA: “Waterfall” by Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani
So much soaring angst and longing, so much beautiful singing. If I were this song’s writers, I’d be thanking my lucky stars that two artists this talented are singing it. In anyone else’s hands, it would make paint drying look like a viable alternative.
ISRAEL: “Rak Bishvilo” by Moran Mazar
I love quirky acts who can actually sing. While the song doesn’t do all that much for me, it’s still a lovely tune, and Moran manages to breath some life into it that probably wasn’t there on paper. Plus she wears great big funky black glasses which I adore and who wouldn’t vote for someone resembling the love child of Nana Mouskouri and Daphne from Scooby Doo?
SWITZERLAND: “You and Me” by Takasa
I am not especially enamoured of the group, who look like they have been imbibing way too much red cordial – seriously who is that happy when they’re lost? – and the song is way too perky for my taste but it’s upbeat, uplifting and bounce to make people feel good … and happy people vote for the song that made them that way, pure and simple.
ALBANIA: “Identitet” by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko
Nothing too out of the box here but it’s good old fashioned foot-stomping rock with an appealing folk underlay and hey, they seem to be enjoying themselves. I have a feeling the rest of Europe will too.
And who will sitting staring at the back of the arena pondering what might have been? I would like to say Romania, whose entry is only marginally less annoying than fingernails across a blackboard, but I suspect it will garner enough loving to send Greece or Armenia to the bottom of the pack.
* who do you think will end up in the top 10? Which song do you loathe the most?