Sunday, October 29, 2006

Saw 3



Well its Halloween soon, which for Cinema fans means that their local cinema might actually show an 18 rated film, something that hardly happens anymore. With Saw being the only horror franchise left (Scary Movie doesn't count) it was time to go and see this and as fan of the first two I was looking forward to this.

Following on from the last one we see Jigsaw on his death bed being looked after by the girl he'd groomed. A nurse is kidnapped and made to look after him whilst he runs one last game on a guy seeking revenge on the man who ran over his son, who has also been kidnapped and left to run through a series of challenges where he has the opportunity to spare the lives of people involved in letting his son's killer go free. It sounds complex but its not really and with a small cast its easy to follow.

What made this franchise exciting is the elaborate and sick games that Jigsaw plays, and this film is no exception. The film makers are keen to hear ideas from fans and have incorporated some in this. The worst one is the rack, a device that doesn't stretch, but twists its captor. The first sequence featuring some extreme body piercings is also pretty bad.

As with the first two the film does include a twist, but its never going to top that of the first film. Also quite intriguing although the series appears to come to an end there are some plot devices put in place that hint at a 4th, and having read some forums apparently the guy playing Jigsaw has signed on to do another 3.

Looks like I'll have something to go and see next Halloween.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chiho Aoshima City Glow Mountain Whisper @ Gloucester Road Station

Gloucester Road station on the Circle Line has been home to a number of temporary exhibitions by various artists. Here's a few shots of the current display by Japanese artist Chiho Aoshima. I loved this stuff, I would love it even more if I could get to take pictures of all the pieces without trains coming through every minute and blocking my view!

I will be going back here, I want to build a panoramic shot of all the pieces, but I'll do it when the line is a bit quieter.




Fairground Thrill Laboratory

Something a little different tonight, the Science Museum in London is doing a little series of events to look at thrill rides and emotions related to them. Friends who know of my interest in amusement parks pointed this out to me in the daily paper, and as I was able to get a ticket I thought I'd go along to see what it was about.

This is the venue, around the corner from the Science Museum and the majestic looking Natural History Museum.

This was a sick bag handed to us on the way in. It doubled up as a disclaimer that we had to sign to say that we were happy to have our ugly mugs used in publicity resulting from any filming made on the night. It also included a medical questionnaire.

This is the room, much smaller and intimate than I'd expected. The room was also not full of enthusiasts, but people interested in the science of rides, or friends and relatives of the event organisers and guest speakers. The women in the white suits are looking scientist-like and carried out surveys on what you thought about thrills and pleasure, the last being the theme of tonight's speeches.

First speaker was Josie Kane, from UCL. She gave a quick presentation on how pleasure became a marketable commodity citing Coney Island and Blackpool as examples. She had some great old pictures of Blackpool to support her speech. A nice little introduction to the night's events.

The second speaker was Mike Presdee, a Director of Criminology from the University of Kent. He gave a presentation on how our Government was denying us the right to enjoy pleasure giving examples of the Criminal Justice Bill and Firework legislation. He also went on to say that a high percentage of people have a secret urge to commit arson as it challenges the system and gives a lot of pleasure to the person doing it. He also made a nice point that work isn't exciting and to live a bit, people need to do pleasurable things. Exactly my view as to why I enjoy theme parks, even if the public concensus is that they're for kids!

After a change of location to the upper laboratories, the next speaker was Metin Sezgin from Cambridge University. He gave a presentation on computer software that was able to read changes of expression in humans and from them figure out how the person was feeling. The software demonstrated has an 85% likelihood of getting it right, very clever stuff indeed. Some examples of how this could be used were given such as figuring out how a driver is doing behind the wheel of a car, but as a theme park fan it was interesting to hear how this could be used to tailor a ride to suit the individual. If they looked bored, speed the ride up! It certainly offers possibilities!

Next up was Lola Canamero from University of Hertfordshire. She gave a lengthy presentation into how to train robots to elicit human behaviour. Using basic rules and algorithms, simple robots could be trained to act in complicated ways. It wasn't clear from this presentation how this hooked into thrills but it was interesting none the less.

This chap was the guy who put the event together is Brendan Walker, and here he's demonstrating the get up that lucky people would get to wear. As well as having the lectures we had the opportunity to ride a fairground ride. A number of lucky people would get to wear this stuff that would measure forces and heart rate whilst filming them and recording their voice for posperity. The rest of us would then watch the person on the ride whilst the results were broadcast back in real time. Very interesting stuff indeed. This explained why we had to sign disclaimers. Alas on this occasion I didn't get picked but it was fun to watch the lucky people on it.

The final speaker was Dan Howland from the USA. He gave a very quick introduction into the ride we'd be riding soon, the Miami Trip. We learnt of the background of the ride and how it wasn't well received in its homeland of Holland. It was Britain that made this ride popular primarily because of the over the top visuals.

Here's one of the real time rider monitoring. The graph in the top left is pulse and the graph below shows the changes in heartrate. The 3D model in the top middle shows how the rider is moving around and the G-Forces exerted on them and screen on the right was clearly the rider through the helmet cam. We also got to hear the rider give us a commentary whilst the ride was running (when they were able to talk that is).

The rider is looking a bit scared at this point, and he's only hitting 1.8Gs. At its worst (or best depending on your outlook) it reached 2.5.

Here's the ride, the Miami Trip. This is apparently the last of these to be made so will become quite famous in the future. I've ridden loads of these before and they're quite tame rides compared to others.


At the end of the night we got to chat to the presenters and each other whilst footage of the lucky riders was broadcast. This girl was clearly loving the ride!


This is the first in 3 events. Next week is going to look at thrills and fear and will feature a ghost train. The final sessions will look at fear and excitement and feature a big centrifugal booster ride. I'm definitely going to to attend the other sessions, if only to have another outlook on the thrill ride industry.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Carston Holler @ The Tate Modern

The Tate Modern houses a lot of rubbish, but with the Turbine Hall they have a ridiculously sized room in which to house monster installations. In the past these have included "The Weather Project" which had a huge sun at one end of the room. The most recent is a collection of slides designed by Carston Holler.

My first attempt to get on this was a week ago after work, and this was as far as I got. I hadn't realised the place closed at 6pm. Fortunately I was here at midday so had plenty of time to have my fun.

These are slides 5, 3 and 1. Superb looking structures don't you think? The top level is 55 metres high, and people were shooting out of it at a good speed. When I first saw this on the telly the people were flying off the end of the slide onto the rubber floor. The gallery had since added crashmats to help slow the people down.

Here's my arty shot of 5 and 3. You can just make out that the slide's top half is clear.

This is a shot from the other side of the hall where you can see 2 and 4.

So what did I think of the slides? Well, I never got on them. The gallery had only been opened 2 hours but the big slide was already fully booked and the other slides were only available at 5pm. There's no way I wanted to hang around here for 5 hours so I took the pics and vowed to return when things were a little quieter. The slides are here til April next year so there is plenty of opportunity to get on them.

Even More Banksys

When I did my Big Banksy Walk I didn't find all of his pieces that I was looking for. Rather coincidentally I stumbled across two that I'd missed this weekend.

This one was a kid with a balloon, similar to the one I found in Hackney. It's on the South Bank just under Blackfriar's Bridge. I had missed this because on the other side of this pillar is a stencilled scene of gravestones, that I though was the Banksy, it hadn't occured to me to check the other side.

This one was the last one I looked for originally but by the time I got to the area, in the subways under Marble Arch, it was dark and there was no way I would have found it. In fact if it hadn't have been for two guys taking pictures of it I'd have missed it on this occasion too. It was nice to know that I'm not the only one who goes looking for this stuff and I gave them the link to this site so they could have access to the map, which they didn't have.

Alien Algae

Another weekend with nothing planned so I thought I'd go to look for some alien algae that had been seen in Central London.

This is the Serpentine, the largest lake in London. It's here that the algae had been sighted, and just my luck its right up the other end of the lake.

Along the way I passed the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. It's crap! Its a little stream that you can't paddle in because you're likely to slip and crack your head open. A real travesty of red tape and bureaucracy, but even with all that people were gathered around it.

This is the Algae, its actually an art installation by Tony Heywood. Its supposed to be a statement on how algae develops mutant strains to battle environmental conditions but the philistine in me reckons its just a pile of shiny floating things.

This is much cooler, its part of the Serpentine Gallery nearby. I wouldn't want to be sipping on tea and eating carrot cake inside it when they over inflate it!

Friday, October 13, 2006

New Police Story



Clearly restrained by Hollywood Jackie Chan returns home to make the kind of film, true fans know him for. Whilst it has "Police Story" in its name, it has nothing to do with the rest of the series, which are amongst my favourite of his. It does however feature crazy stunts and some pretty ropey acting, especially Jackie being drunk, truly bad!

But the action and the stunts are top notch and Jackie although over 50 can still put on a great show when he's allowed to. There is admittedly a lot of wire work, a touch of CGI and his young partner gets into more scrapes than he does, but his performance is still a lot better than in both Shanghai movies.

The plot isn't too bad, with Jackie's swat team taken out by a gang of rich kid bank robbers with a penchant for video games. In fact the way they're killed off in front of Jackie is pretty grim for a Hong Kong film. Not taking this too well, Jackie becomes an alcoholic and it takes the motivation of a young cop to pull him out of his slide and the two of them plan their revenge.

Two big stunt sequences are particularly good, the first has Jackie riding on an out of control double decker bus. The second is a big fight routine in a lego playland. Watch the outakes for a clip showing one of the stuntmen being taken out by a pile of lego. Painful!

I'm biased in my reviews as I love Jackie Chan, and its nice to see him back home. Hollywood, you misused this guy!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Model to Billboard in 60 seconds

I like this kind of stuff, and think it should be shown to schoolgirls everywhere. They'd never buy into the modelling industry if they saw the truth.

'boards - Screening Room

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Silent Disco

The Flashmob craze took off a few years ago but having joined a list a while back, I thought it had died a death. So it was a nice surprise to be invited to a Silent Disco Event that took place tonight.

The plan was quite simple, turn up at Liverpool Street Station at 19.15, armed with your ipod, then when the clock hit 19.24 start dancing to it.

This is Liverpool Street Station normally.

This is it when the mob showed up. Just a little busier than before and far bigger than any flashmob I'd been to before.

Then the party started.

Whilst the crowd danced, those of a more voyeuristic or less brave nature watched from the floor above.

The vibe was definitely a happy one, even those caught in the middle of it were smiling.

There were good dancers and bad dancers, dancing in various styles.

The funniest part of this was seeing non-participants trying to get home without blowing a fuse.

Plenty of floor space for those air guitar solos.

Showoff! There's always one.

Here are some videos I took. If they're not playing or not appearing then that'll be because they need to be processed on the yourtube server before they can be viewed. Just pop back later and they should be sorted.







More Banksys

When I did my stupid walk a few weekends back I was working off maps that showed the locations. In printing them out I realised I'd missed a bit of London not far from work. So being the autistic fool I am, and with a bit of time to kill I thought I'd go and see if I could find these ones after work.

This one is near the top of Hatton Garden and ironically just around the corner from where I often have lunch.

This one is in Mount Pleasant, cheers to Huckle for pointing out that I'd missed it.

There's supposed to be a rat here but I couldn't find it. Is this the remains of it?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

TV in Japan

This is a site I've been visiting for some time now and am really liking. It'll provide me with enough of a Japan fix until 2009 when I'm hoping to go out there again.

It's also a great introduction to Pythagoras Switch, a show that is quite popular out there, and which should be shown worldwide.

TV in Japan

Monday, October 09, 2006

UK B-Boy Championships 2006



October sees my annual pilgrimage to Brixton Academy for a weekend of hip hop perfection with superb scratch djs, beatboxing, locking, popping and breakdancing. I've not missed a year yet and had been looking forward to this for some time.

Day 1 was the popping battle and solo breakdancers. The popping was won by an American guy called J-Smooth, who beat Salah from France. This didn't go down well with the crowd at all well. Two years ago Salah was screwed by someone else and he suffered a repeat here. I don't know what the Judges were scoring on, but it clearly wasn't crowd response. Salah is an amazing dancer and wins the crowd over every time he hits the stage.

In the solo battles the final should have been Mouse from the UK vs Reveal from the States but due to sickness Reveal no showed the final and Juse Boogy stepped up having been knocked out in the semi. It was a disappointing final, I guess because Juse didn't feel that he'd made it to the final properly, he didn't really try and not to take anything away from Mouse, he was given an easy victory. The original line up featured stronger competition and I'm sure the result would have been different had they chosen not to drop out, saving themselves for the team battles the next day.

Day 2 started with the locking battles and just like last year the winner was Japan although all four crews were superb and really got the crowd going. There then followed a beatbox vs dj battle with Beardyman vs JFB. Both were absolutely brilliant. Beardyman was better than Killer Kela doing the normal vocal over beats stuff you usually here, but he could also reverse his sounds. JFB was excellent on the decks and the two of them ended up dropping a drum and bass set that had everyone in the venue jumping up and down.

In the group battles all the teams were strong this year with representatives from all over the world. The final ended up with Korea (winner for the last 3 years) vs Pokemon from France. Both team were really strong and having seen Pokemon look very green a few years ago it was great to see them step up and take the crown.

For me the highlights of the weekend was seeing Aichi from Japan, who holds the record for most headspins, doing his tricks. This included skipping (yep, on his head whilst spinning) and even tying his legs together (yep, on his head whilst spinning). There was also some crazy Korean guy who put a helmet upside down on the stage, spun on his head next to it and then jumped, landing into the helmet and he managed to keep the spin going. Totally nuts! There were some superb group routines in the final from both the Koreans and the French.

All in all another great event, and I'll be there at next year's.