Rare Exports and other Christmas gifts....

We're nearly out of the back end of November and so the Christmas rush can well and truly begin.

In truth, the Christmas rush began some time ago. The retail industry kicked Christmas into a mid range gear somewhen around the end of October, although to be fair this year hasn't been as bad as some years in recent history.

Those of you that were around here last year will know that we seem to have started a trend with the more distant (although not that distant) members of the clan whereby we have Christmas day early, to get it out of the way.  This year it'll be on Sunday coming. There will be a slap up bit of lunch and some generous gift giving.

Mr Ball senior has acquired a MacBook Air this year - as a result of sister ball taking a business trip to the US and he as some associated bits and bobs to go with it. Even though Mac's are notoriously easy to set up, he is understandably a little nervous of what is to him "new" technology and so I'll be spending a large portion of the day helping him get it up and running. Quite looking forward to that to be fair.

I believe I have a new generation Apple TV on it's way thanks to Santa, but I'm dismayed to learn that Air Play mirroring isn't supported by my now ancient iPhone 4 and iPad 1...  humph...  A bit of a dig around shows that you can get the latest versions of these at a substantial discount if you go with refurbished kit - and apple refurbished basically means new with a brief previous owner. I'm sorely tempted, but funding will be the issue. Let's see what the South African Santa brings first...

And on the subject of Santa... Having recently(ish) signed up to LoveFilm the flow of movie rentals has been thick and fast through the Golfyball residence, but as yet I haven't found the time to right about my viewings, so let's try and fix that here.

First of all, let me share with you THE Christmas film of the year, recently released on DVD.  "Rare Exports" is something I've spoken of before on here - a couple of years ago when the first teasers appeared and last year when it went on general release - although not to great acclaim. However, I think the lack of support is down to it being a non-english film in part - but that IMHO just adds to the believability factor.  

It feels a little like the original version of "Let The Right One In", but without the vampires and with Santa, coupled with a european version of "The Thing" (which I read is also being re-made - totally unnecessarily). Anyway, it's great fun, but not for your young kids who might well still "believe". However, once you've seen it, you might believe again - and be scared...   great stuff and here's the trailer.... 9/10

So to touch briefly on the other viewings I've had of late, here's a quick run down:

Cars 2
More great fun from the late Mr Jobs' film studio, Pixar. Your kids will watch this a thousand times probably and I don't blame them - it's great fun in the same vein as "Cars" but with the added benefit of the great Sir Michael Caine. 8/10

The Rite
This is a bit like "The Exorcist - Lite" It's not terrible, but it left me feeling a bit "Meh". Sir Anthony Hopkins should know better - not that he does a bad job, but his welsh/italian is a bit dodgy in places. 6/10 

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
A cracker and with a couple of my favourite hollywood names in place. Clint Eastwood and Jeff (The Dude) Bridges. It's Michael (The Deer Hunter) Cimino's directorial debut. It's Well-written with strong performances and is about a complex caper in which Bridges plays a young drifter who teams up with an ex-con (Eastwood) and his former partners in crime to re-stage a difficult safecracking heist. It says here: "Conveyed in a tone that mixes dramatic and comic elements, the film is a rich blend of engaging characters and action" and very true that is. Quality 1970's movie making at it's best - 9/10

I should add - that the trailer doesn't really do it any justice at all...

Mr. Nice
Another favourite of mine is Rhys Ifans and once again he doesn't disappoint. This is a biopic of drug smuggler Howard Marks. Beautifully crafted, and quite believable if this sort of stuff is to be believed. There's been a successful book and a speaking tour by Mr Marks and it makes for entertaining viewing. One point - David Thewlis - as the man from the IRA - very nearly steals the show. 7/10 

Inside Job
Narrated by Matt Damon, this is a documentary that tells the story of the banking collapse of 2007 and strives to suggest some of the reasons it happened. It provides a fascinating insight into the way government and banking works - or rather doesn't work and should be required viewing for anyone with any interest into what the hell the banks think they're playing at. 8/10 

The Blind Side
Her out of "Speed" and a big fella we've never seen before (Quinton Aaron). He's a not-quite orphan, she's a christian hearted mom who takes him in - gives him opportunities to succeed and he ends up being a pro-american-footballer. That summary does it a massive dis-service. It's another biopic - of sorts - of the life story of Michael Lewis. A proper feel good weepy that the missus will love - if she likes that kind of thing. Sandra Bullock is still great to look at and I actually think she deserved the Oscar that she won for this role. 8/10

So that'll do you for now, but just so you know, still to come: a few words about, "Sucker Punch", "Freeway Killer" and the foreign films: "Point Blank", "Julia's Eyes" & "The Silent House"


This post originally appeared here: Posterous


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