Thursday, 28 February 2013

Amour: Movie Review

Amour: Movie Review


Cast: Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabella Huppert
Director: Michael Haneke

Fresh from critical acclaim and widespread accolades, Amour arrives on NZ screens.

Haneke's Palme D'Or winning and Oscar nominated film is a heartbreaking delve into a relationship and bond strengthened by years and devastated by illness.

Georges (Trintignant) and Anne (Riva) are in their 80s and living a life of retirement. But when Anne's struck by an illness which is debilitating, their lives are irrevocably changed as Georges is reduced to carer.

In Amour, you can't help but be moved by this tale which is poignantly and sensitively told with two compelling central performances. 

Subtly layered and shot beautifully, it really gets under your skin as it plays out. It's a haunting film, which leaves you wondering what you'd do if it happened to you - and the final act's shocking denouement is likely to elicit many a gasp from the audience.

Both Riva (the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar) and Trintignant deliver powerful performances which reek of veracity and lay bare a truth many of us may have to encounter later on in life.

Haneke's on good form in this painful to watch film (which is only painful because it powerfully pushes emotional buttons) - Amour (aka Love) is about devotion and a bond - and it's a tragic and empathetic piece which will affect you more than you may realise. 

Rating:


Brand new Oblivion posters unveiled

Brand new Oblivion posters unveiled


Entertainment Weekly's got the first look at some new Oblivion posters.

The Oblivion posters star Morgan Freeman and Tom Cruise.

Oblivion's due later this year.

On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man’s confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind. Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete.Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.



































Brand new Iron Man 3 poster

Brand new Iron Man 3 poster


Poor old Tony Stark.

He's been somewhat left off the recent round of new Iron Man 3 posters which have been out and about.

But that's been rectified with a brand new Iron Man 3 poster, featuring Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark.

Iron Man 3 hits NZ cinemas in April.


Paranormal Activity 4: Blu Ray Review

Paranormal Activity 4: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

In Paranormal Activity 4, Katie Featherston returns as Katie as the film takes up five years after a possessed Katie killed her boyfriend Micah and also stole her sister's son Hunter after offing her sister Kristi. It's 2011 and the action switches to the suburbs and a new family about to be terrorised by ghostly goings on.

This time, it centres on teenage girl Alex (Newton) whose family is going through fractured times and is weathering a breakdown of her parents' relationship. However, Alex is starting off a relationship with Ben (Shively) and a lot of it is carried out on Skype chats.

Things take a turn for the creepy when Alex and her family are forced to take in neighbouring kid Robbie (Allen) for a while after his mum is hospitalised. Robbie befriends Alex's brother Wyatt and the pair form an uneasy bond.

And things get creepier as bumps and noises and all manner of spooky things start happening right after Robbie moves in - having left his mum Katie behind....

Paranormal Activity 4 is to be frank a bit of a disappointment after the creative highs of the third film.



This time around, modern tech plays more of a part - there's no cam fan like in the third film but everything of the mundane daily life is taped via Skype chats or webcams. Perhaps the smartest piece of taping comes courtesy of the use of XBox Kinect which turns everything in the front room into an alien glow with green dots scattered around - this is a smart touch by the writers.

Once again, there are fake outs as the tension's gradually eeked out and extended as far as it can go - and I have to admit by setting a lot more of the creepier action during the daytime hours, the creative team aren't exactly resting on their spooky laurels and are trying to do something a little different.

Long swathes of monitored action take place with little scares on hand - sure, there are bumps and knocks and doors close unexpectedly here and there, but the effect is somewhat akin to a low rent haunted horror house rather than a full on spooktacular.

Also, whereas the third film extended some of the film's mythology and storyline, this one, despite its trailer promising to let you "see where all the activity's been leading", does little to deepen the demon storyline and the family possession background. It's bitterly disappointing on that front. In fact, the spirit this time around seems more malevolent and intent on simply killing the residents whereas in the past, there's been hints of manipulation and reasons for the paranormal outings. It's a real shame because the ending when it comes delivers in spades on scares and leaves you wishing that there were more of those final scenes throughout 

There are a few scares, but never enough to give it the truly frightening edge it deserves. I'm just hoping that any inevitable future releases for this series think seriously about putting an end to the Paranormal storyline and offering up a creative resolution which is now sorely needed rather than continuing to extend the franchise simply for the money.

Extras: 30 minutes of unseen footage leads to extended cut and the Recovered Files

Rating:

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

V/H/S: DVD Review

V/H/S: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Entertainment

A horror anthology which promised to deliver the scares, V/H/S has certainly got the indie credentials. 

Its premise involves a group of utter losers breaking into a home to steal some videotapes from a house. As ever with the found film footage genre, they're taping their every action for us to enjoy. 

But while that's the wrap-around for the over-arching story, the hook comes in the videos that one of them watches while the others are searching the house. 

Comprising five tales, each from an expert in the genre, the quality is varying and the results sometimes scary and other times not so. In fact, to be honest, the first two found footage videos played didn't float my boat at all - and I wondered if the rest of the film would be frankly as uninspiring. 

How wrong, because the final three films are utterly brilliant and pack as many inventive scares and smart new ideas as any long form Hollywood horror movie can dream of. A trip to the woods, a Skype chat between two lovers which turns deadly and a ritual on Hallowe'en are the smartest pieces of genre film making I've seen in years. 

Grubby, lo-fi and packing nudity of male and female, V/H/S really does have something for everyone and while there are plenty of "WTF was that?" moments, there's certainly no real "Oops, I've soiled myself in fear" moments throughout. 

The filmmaking talent involved's smart enough to offer up enough chills to rejuvenate the format and using the Video footage means the audience is carefully scanning the screen trying to see what's coming. 

The beauty of this piece? You won't and what you do get will surprise and titillate even the most jaded of horror lovers with freshness and smarts.

Extras: Interviews with the segment directors

Rating:


New Monsters University character poster is here

New Monsters University character poster is here


Mike and Sully are on their way back....

To University.

Take a look at the new Monsters University poster here.


Brand new Iron Man 3 image

Brand new Iron Man 3 image


There's been a glut of new Iron Man 3 images recently.

Brand new images for Iron Man,  Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin and Don Cheadle as Iron Patriot have all been revealed.

And the trend shows no sign of letting up.

Empire Magazine's latest cover has Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man....


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Sweeney: Movie Review

The Sweeney: Movie Review


Cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell, Stephen Mackintosh, Damian Lewis
Director: Nick Love

"Put your trousers on, you're nicked."

If those iconic words from an 1970s UK crime series mean anything to you, then you're already likely to know what lies ahead.

Based on the 1970s series which starred John Thaw and Dennis Waterman as Detectives Regan and Carter, the Sweeney is a UK film which centres on a rough group of detectives who take out the even rougher criminals. They work for the Flying Squad (hence, the name, based on the Cockney rhyming slang, Sweeney Todd).

In this update, Ray "Hardman" Winstone is Regan and softspoken Cockney rapper Ben Drew is Carter. When we first meet these tough boys of the law, they're taking down a group of armed robbers, by any means necessary.

And it's because of this "think like a criminal to catch a criminal" approach that Internal Affairs, headed by Stephen Mackintosh's Lewis, begins investigating them. Getting a tip off about a robbery at a jewellers, Regan and the Flying Squad are out to get their men - especially after one of the robbers kills a civilian.

While Regan's convinced one of his former troublemakers is back in town, there's no evidence to back it up - but that won't stop Regan from trying to get his man. Even if it means the Flying Squad's future being jeopardised and it could come at the cost of his own career or illicit lovelife as Internal Affairs tightens their
vice....

The 2013 remake of The Sweeney is as hard as nails as you'd expect from the calibre of Ray Winstone being involved.

It's also remarkably restrained and tightly directed by Love, who also wrote the screenplay and who is clearly a fan of the source material, with some of Regan's iconic lines being thrown into the script. But it also offers something a little different from what you would expect of a cops and robbers style film in terms of action.


Instead of crowded roads for car chases, The Sweeney offers up alternatives - a car chase down a single country lane and a final face off with the baddies with vehicles hurtling through a caravan park. Throw into that mix, a long action sequence with Regan and two of his squad chasing the baddies across and through iconic London landscapes (ooh, it's Trafalgar Square, ooooh, it's that Art Gallery), it offers something breathtakingly different and is a welcome breath of fresh air in at times tired genre.

Winstone is all swagger, Cockney bloated menace as Regan - though in his scenes with the feisty Hayley Atwell, he brings a real sentiment and softness to the hard bastard of the Flying Squad. Drew also proffers up a toughnut with a loyal side and moral compass as Carter, serving as a much needed foil. Damian Lewis and Stephen Mackintosh deserve some credit too as the suits running the Flying Squad and Internal Affairs (although MacKintosh's storyline simply fizzles out, which is a disappointment).

Overall, The Sweeney has a plot which won't tax you (but somehow manages to get a bit confused) and offers up a couple of storylines which go disappointingly nowhere. However, if you're willing to put your brain in neutral, you may find it keeps you entertained.

Rating:


Lore: DVD Review

Lore: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

A hit at this past year's New Zealand International Film Festival, Lore is the story of a young girl coming of age at the end of World War II.

A haunting Saskia Rosendahl plays Lore, the teenage daughter of an SS officer and a Hitler supporting mother. As the film begins the war is ending and the Allies are sweeping across, arresting those who served under Hitler.

Lore's father is taken in and her mother demands she leave, taking her younger siblings with her to stay with their grandmother. But it's a 900km journey to Hamburg and Lore faces all manner of problems on the escape.

A coming of age story with a darker background, Lore is vibrantly coloured in a disconcerting and visually excellent way. From Lore's red locks to heightened colours in the world around her, there's plenty to focus on on screen as the film plays out. This is not a flick which begins with action, but there's tension all around as Lore makes her journey. Complicating things are a relationship with a teenage Jewish boy, which stirs mixed feelings of lust and hatred.

Sensitively handled, Lore is an unusual story, which has never really been told before. Anchored by a solid and empathetic performance from Rosendahl, there's a haunting and harrowing quality to the film and one which stays with you long after it's finished.

Extras: None

Rating:


Iron Man 3: Pepper Potts poster

Iron Man 3: Pepper Potts poster 


Good news for the continuing Iron Man 3 publicity campaign.

A brand new Iron Man 3: Pepper Potts poster has been revealed.

Take a look at the Iron Man 3: Pepper Potts poster below:


Brand new Amazing Spider-Man 2 suit is here

Brand new Amazing Spider-Man 2 suit is here


The brand new first look at The Amazing Spider-man 2 suit is here.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits cinemas in May next year - but here's your first look at the Webslinger's new clothes.


Monday, 25 February 2013

Oscars 2013 - The Winners

Oscars 2013 - The Winners



It's the Oscars today - and here's the full breakdown of the winners from the 2013 Academy Awards.

The Academy Award winners for 2013 are:

Best picture - Argo
Best director - Ang Lee
Best actor - Daniel Day Lewis (3rd time won)
Best actress - Jennifer Lawrence
Best original screenplay - Django Unchained
Best adapted screenplay -  Argo
Best original song - Skyfall
Best original score - Life of Pi
Best production design - Lincoln
Best film editing - Argo
Best supporting actress - Anne Hathaway
Best sound editing - Tie - Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall (first since 1968)
Best sound mixing - Les Miserables
Best foreign language film - Amour
Best documentary feature - Searching for Sugar Man
Best documentary short subject - Inocente
Best live action short - Curfew
Best make up and hairstyling - Les Miserables
Best costume design - Anna Karenina
Best visual FX - Life of Pi
Best cinematography - Life of Pi
Best animated feature - Brave
Best animated short film - Paperman
Best supporting actor - Christoph Waltz

And the  Oscar nominations were -


BEST PICTURE
Amour
Argo
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life Of Pi
Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook

BEST DIRECTOR
Life Of Pi - Ang Lee
Lincoln - Steven Spielberg
Amour - Michael Haneke
Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell
Beasts Of The Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin

BEST ACTOR
Denzel Washington - Flight
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix - The Master

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin - Argo
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln

BEST ACTRESS
Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Naomi Watts - The Impossible

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams - The Master
Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables
Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Sally Field - Lincoln
Jacky Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Brave
Frankenweenie
Paranorman
The Pirates! In An Adventure WIth Scientists
Wreck-it-Ralph

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Chris Terrio - Argo
Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin - Beasts Of The Southern Wild 
David Magee - Life Of Pi
Tony Kushner - Lincoln
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Michael Haneke - Amour
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola - Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins - Flight

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
Life Of Pi - Claudio Miranda
Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall - Roger Deakins

COSTUME DESIGN
Anna Karenina - Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables - Paco Delgado
Lincoln - Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka
Snow White And The Huntsman - Colleen Atwood

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive A Plague
The Invisible War
Searching For Sugar Man

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Inocente
Kings Point
Mondays At Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

BEST FILM EDITING
Argo - William Goldenberg
Life Of Pi - Tim Squyres
Zero Dark Thirty - Dylan Tichenor, William GoldenbergLincoln - Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook - Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Amour - Austria
Kon-Tiki - Norway
No - Chile
A Royal Affair - Denmark
War Witch - Canada

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Hitchcock - Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater
Les Misérables - Lisa Westcott

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli
Argo - Alexandre Desplat
Life Of Pi - Mychael Danna
Lincoln - John Williams
Skyfall - Thomas Newman

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
'Before My Time' from Chasing Ice
'Everybody Needs A Best Friend' from Ted
'Pi's Lullaby' from Life Of Pi
'Skyfall' from Skyfall
'Suddenly' from Les Miserables

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life Of Pi
Lincoln

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
Maggie Simpson In "The Longest Daycare"
Paperman

BEST LIVE FILM SHORT
Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death Of A Shadow
Henry

BEST SOUND EDITING
Argo
Django Unchained
Life Of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

BEST SOUND MIXING
Argo
Les Miserables
Life Of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life Of Pi
Marvel Avengers Assemble
Prometheus
Snow White And The Huntsman

NOMINEES BREAKDOWN:

Lincoln - 12
Life of Pi - 11
Les Miserables - 8
Silver Linings Playbook - 8
Argo - 7
Amour - 5
Zero Dark Thirty - 5
Skyfall - 5
Anna Karenina - 5
Beasts of the Southern Wild - 4
The Master - 4
The Hobbit - 3
Flight - 3
Moonrise Kingdom - 2
Snow White and the Huntsman - 2

The Oscars 2013 - Live From the Red Carpet

The Oscars - Live From the Red Carpet


It is of course the Oscars today - and here's E! Online's live red carpet feed of all the build up to the 85th Academy Awards.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Storage Wars: DVD Review

Storage Wars: DVD Review


Rating: G
Released by Magna Home Entertainment

It's a fiendishly simple idea.

Get together a group of guys, who all have a bit of cash and have them bid on the contents of locked storage lockers. Highest bidder wins and the deal is they then have to turn the contents of said locker into cash - if they can.

Storage Wars is an American reality show which concentrates its efforts on four main dealers - Darrell, Dave, Jarrod and Barry. All four of these have been in this game for some years and all have varying degrees of success - but all are determined to win as much as they can.

What's fascinating about Storage Wars is a combination of things - the contents of the lockers and the dynamics between the four guys; there's Dave, who seems to wind everyone up and bid up the price just because he can and then there's Jarrod, who's a newcomer to the game but always seems to be shut out.

It's an extremely addictive series too - three volumes are available right now and even though there's been accusations this show is faked by the producers with regards to the contents of the locker, it loses none of the impact of the vicarious thrills of seeing people stumble on something truly worth some good money.

Don't be surprised though if you start watching a few episodes and then find a few hours have gone by - it's that good and enjoyable.

Extras: None

Rating:




Talking Oscars with Jack Tame on Newstalk ZB

Talking Oscars with Jack Tame on Newstalk ZB


It is of course The Oscars 2013 today.

Here's my chat from NewsTalk ZB on the weekend with Jack Tame who was in LA for the Oscars.

We talk the potential winners and the surefire things from the upcoming Academy Awards.





Saturday, 23 February 2013

Full trailer for Game of Thrones Season 3

Full trailer for Game of Thrones Season 3


It's here - the first full trailer for Game of Thrones Season 3.

Game of Thrones season 3 bows end of March on HBO.

Winter...is....here.

Red Dwarf X: DVD Review

Red Dwarf X: DVD Review


Rating: PG
Released by BBC and Roadshow Home Entertainment

The smegheads are back.

After years in the space wilderness, the space sitcom that launched all manner of laughs and quotable lines returns - and goes back to basics with great effect.

Rimmer, Lister, Cat and Kryten return as they continue to chart the wastelands of uncharted deep space with six new adventures.
From receiving an SOS from an old foe, to dealing with a love triangle with a couple of snack dispensers, this latest series traverses the line between insane and insanely funny.

For most of the time, the laughs are thick and on the mark. Granted, there are a few occasional misses, but overall, it's a welcome return to form thanks to sharp writing, amusing gags and the core dynamic between the four main actors. One of Red Dwarf's strengths has always been the capacity to mine a great situation for gags as well as the ability to thread a joke at the start of the episode and get a deadly pay off at the end.

It's a shame it's only 6 episodes long because, despite a slightly weak ending, you're wanting more.

Here's hoping there will be.

Extras: An extended warts and all doco, deleted scenes and outtakes.

Rating:




New Iron Man 3 poster shows the Mandarin

New Iron Man 3 poster shows the Mandarin


A Brand new poster for Iron Man 3 has given us more of a look at Ben Kingsley's Mandarin.

Iron Man 3 hits NZ cinemas towards the end of April.


Oscars 2013 predictions

Oscars 2013 predictions


With the Academy Awards just days away, it's always a fun time to spin the wheel and see if you can predict the winners of the 2013 Oscars.

It's an interesting list of Oscar nominations, and with other award ceremonies setting the pace and trend, there could be some surprises on the night.

So, with fellow critics ringing in, it's about time I cast my hat into the ring - and put what credibility I have on the line as I look at the main categories.

Best picture - Not quite the clear picture this one; early betters were going with Lincoln, but the rash of snubs for it elsewhere mean the race has become a little more interesting. Zero Dark Thirty was hit by controversy over the torture, but I'd still not rule that out. I also think Argo's strong showing on the pre-awards circuit mean it could be a contender.

Best picture winner prediction- Argo  - though don't rule out Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln at an outside shot. Particularly as those two films celebrate what it means to be an American and make a difference in some ways. (Though Argo does that as well)

Best director - This one is a really interesting category with no real strong forerunner. I'm wondering if Ang Lee will take it for Life of Pi; while the film didn't do it for me, I think Ang Lee brought something wonderful to the screen visually and turned a previously unfilmable novel into a worldwide hit.

Best director winner prediction - Ang Lee - though this category could offer up a surprise or two.

Best actor - Easily, by a small pointy beard, this will go to Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. While that film didn't hit any of the right notes for me, being a long worthy but dull fest, there's no denying his portrayal of the role is sensational. He's won elsewhere too so I reckon he will take it for the third time.

Best actor winner prediction - Daniel Day-Lewis. 

Best supporting actor - This could be one of two here I reckon. Alan Arkin and Christoph Waltz rightly were nominated for Argo and Django Unchained and while Waltz has already won, I do wonder if there could be a smattering of love for Arkin's Hollywood mogul in Argo. My head says Waltz, but my heart reckons there could be an upset here.

Best supporting actor winner prediction - Christoph Waltz

Best actress - I think Jessica Chastain will take this one. And rightly so, for the work she did in Zero Dark Thirty was blistering. The only other threat is potentially Jennifer Lawrence, but I wonder if the Academy will  wait to honour her again at another time. Chastain's had a stunning recent run and has impressed in every role so she's building up quite the body of work.

Best actress winner prediction - Jessica Chastain.

Best supporting actress - This is clearly Anne Hathaway's for the unending misery of Les Miserables. She's won already in other awards and while the film hit no emotional notes for me, I can't deny the power of her I Dreamed a Dream. No one else stands out in this category, purely in terms of buzz - which is a shame. Though it could be worth seeing if she cries if she doesn't win....

Best supporting actress winner prediction - Anne Hathaway.

Elsewhere, I think there will be awards for Amour for best foreign film, Quentin Tarantino will get something for Django in terms of screenplay, and Life of Pi should pick up a few here and there.

Check back on the blog for the full list of the Oscars 2013 winners and any notable action from the show!

Here's some additional predictions if it goes the way I suspect it could:

Best film - Lincoln (hoping not)
Best director - Steven Spielberg (hoping not)
Best actor - Daniel Day Lewis
Best actress - Jessica Chastain
Best supporting actress - Anne Hathaway
Best supporting actor - Christoph Waltz
Best animated film - Brave
Best adapted screenplay - Argo
Best original screenplay - Django Unchained
Best cinematography - Life of Pi
Best costume design - Les Miserables
Best documentary - Searching for Sugar Man
Best foreign film - Amour
Best makeup - Les Miserables
Best original song - Skyfall
Best animated short - Paperman
Best visual effects - Life of Pi (though I want the Hobbit to win)

Friday, 22 February 2013

Moone Boy: DVD Review

Moone Boy: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by BBC and Roadshow Home Entertainment

Chris O'Dowd's slightly autobiographical comedy is a joyous piece of television.

Set in Ireland in the 1980s, O'Dowd plays the imaginary friend of 12 year old schoolboy Martin Moone, who's growing up in the Irish county of Boyle. He's got three sisters, a henpecked dad and a mother who's not a strong presence in the house.

The six part series follows the daily life of Moone as he charts school and various problems caused by his family. Once in a while, animations spring forth from the screen, based on his drawings. It's slightly surreal in places but it's a beautiful piece of nostalgic sitcom which has a warm heart and a wonderful centre.

David Rawle is perfect as Moone, whose wide eyes and general naivete help him - and O'Dowd's his usual gentle self effacing, deadpan self as the imaginary friend.

It's an easy, life-affirmingly funny watch - and I devoured it all in one sitting. Which is something of a rarity for a sitcom these days.

Extras: Behind the scenes, photo gallery

Rating:


Thursday, 21 February 2013

PlayStation 4 press release

PlayStation 4 press release



It can't have escaped your notice that PlayStation announced the PlayStation 4 console today.

Here's the official word from Sony about what to expect on the console.


Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) today introduced PlayStation®4 (PS4™), its next generation computer entertainment system that redefines rich and immersive gameplay with powerful graphics and speed, intelligent personalization, deeply integrated social capabilities, and innovative second-screen features. Combined with PlayStation®Network with cloud technology, PS4 offers an expansive gaming ecosystem that is centered on gamers, enabling them to play when, where and how they want. PS4 will be available this holiday season.
                                                 
Gamer Focused, Developer Inspired
PS4 was designed from the ground up to ensure that the very best games and the most immersive experiences reach PlayStation gamers.  PS4 accomplishes this by enabling the greatest game developers in the world to unlock their creativity and push the boundaries of play through a system that is tuned specifically to their needs. 

PS4 also fluidly connects players to the larger world of experiences offered by PlayStation, across the console and mobile spaces, and PlayStation® Network (PSN).

The PS4 system architecture is distinguished by its high performance and ease of development.  PS4 is centered around a powerful custom chip that contains eight x86-64 cores and a state of the art graphics processor.

The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) has been enhanced in a number of ways, principally to allow for easier use of the GPU for general purpose computing (GPGPU) such as physics simulation.  The GPU contains a unified array of 18 compute units, which collectively generate 1.84 Teraflops of processing power that can freely be applied to graphics, simulation tasks, or some mixture of the two.

PS4 is equipped with 8 GB of unified system memory, easing game creation and increasing the richness of content achievable on the platform.  GDDR5 is used for this memory, giving the system 176 GB/second of bandwidth and providing a further boost to graphics performance.

The end result for gamers is new games with rich, high-fidelity graphics and deeply immersive experiences that shatter expectations.

Shared Game Experiences
Social interaction is central to PS4 experiences, so new features were built into the actual foundation of the system’s hardware architecture.  PS4 provides dedicated, “always on” video compression and decompression systems that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. For the first time ever, gamers can share their epic triumphs with the press of a button.  Gamers simply hit the “SHARE button” on the controller, scan through the last few minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game—the video uploads as the gamer plays.  Gamers can share their images and videos to their friends on social networking services such as Facebook.

PS4 also enhances social spectating by enabling gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends using live internet streaming services such as Ustream.  During live broadcasts, friends can make comments on the streamed gameplay and, if a gamer gets stuck on a challenging level, friends can also join the game in completely new ways.  For example, friends can offer health potions or special weapons when a player needs them most during actual gameplay.

Furthermore, users can connect their Facebook account with Sony Entertainment Network account.  Through PS4, users are able to deepen their connections through co-op play or “cross-game chat”.

PS4 Second Screens
PS4 integrates second screens, including PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita), smartphones and tablets, to wrap gamers in their favorite content wherever they are. A key feature enabled by second screens is “Remote Play” and PS4 fully unlocks its potential by making PS Vita the ultimate companion device.  With PS Vita, gamers will be able to seamlessly pull PS4 titles from their living room TVs and play them on PS Vita’s beautiful 5-inch display and intuitive dual analog sticks over Wi-Fi networks*1.  It is SCEI’s long-term vision is to make most PS4 titles playable on PS Vita*2.

A new application from SCE called “PlayStation®App” will enable iPhone, iPad, and AndroidTM based smartphones and tablets*3 to become second screens.  Once installed on these devices, users can, for example, see maps on their second screens when playing an adventure game, purchase PS4 games while away from home and download it directly to the console at home, or remotely watch other gamers playing on their devices.

Immediate Gameplay
PS4 radically reduces the lag time between players and their content.  PS4 features “suspend mode” which keeps the system in a low power state while preserving the game session.  The time it takes today to boot a console and load a saved game will be a thing of the past.  With PS4, gamers just hit the power button again and are promptly back playing the game at the exact point where they left off.  Additionally, users can boot a variety of applications including a web browser when playing a game on PS4.

PS4 also enables games to be downloaded or updated in the background, or even in stand-by mode.  The system takes it one step further by making digital titles playable as they are being downloaded.  When a player purchases a game, PS4 downloads just a fraction of the 
data so gamers can start playing immediately, and the rest is downloaded in the background during actual gameplay.
Personalized, Curated Content
On the newly designed PS4 menu screen, players can look over game-related information shared by friends, view friends’ gameplay with ease, or obtain information of recommended content, including games, TV shows and movies.  The long-term goal of PS4 is to reduce download times of digital titles to zero: if the system knows enough about a player to predict the next game they will purchase, then that game can be loaded and ready to go before they even click the “buy” button.  PS4 will further enrich users’ entertainment experiences, by meeting their potential needs.
Gaming in the Cloud
Launched in November 2006, PlayStation Network, a network service for PlayStation users, now operates in 67 countries and regions*4 around the world with the total number of downloaded content of more than 2.8 billion*5.  In addition to a variety of games available in PlayStation®Store, PS4 users will be able to enjoy a variety of services offered by PSN, such as Sony Corporation’s Music Unlimited, a cloud-based music subscription service and Video Unlimited, a premium video service, as well as various content distribution services. 
By combining PlayStation Network with Gaikai Inc’s cloud technology, it is SCE’s goal to make free exploration possible for various games. In the future, when a gamer sees a title of interest in PlayStation Store, they can immediately start playing a portion of the actual game — not a stripped down version of the game.  With Gaikai and PlayStation Store, gamers will be able to experience appealing games and only pay for the games they actually love.  PlayStation Network and the cloud will offer additional value to PlayStation gamers.  SCE is exploring unique opportunities enabled by cloud technology with the long-term vision of making PlayStation libraries including an incredible catalog of more than 3000 PS3 titles*6 that is unmatched in the industry, mostly ubiquitous on PS4.

SCE will announce new details of PS4 and its robust lineup of games from 3rd party developers and publishers, the independent gaming community and SCE Worldwide Studios, as well as further enhancements to the entire PlayStation ecosystem between now and the holiday 2013 launch. 
And a second release:
Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today introduced PlayStation®4 (PS4™), its next-generation gaming platform for the home, alongside the videogame industry’s brightest and most creative minds at PlayStation®Meeting 2013.  With unprecedented power, deep social capabilities, and instant accessibility, PS4 allows game creators to unleash their imaginations and deliver new play experiences to gamers that were never before possible.  The live audience at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, along with millions of fans streaming the event around the world, were also provided with a sneak peek of some of the games that will ultimately define the PS4 experience.  
Andrew House, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. officially announced PS4 and presented the broader vision for PlayStation® evolving from a console in the living room into the best place to play wherever gamers are: “Our vision for the future is consumer-centric, developer-inspired, and characterized by an unwavering commitment to phenomenal play experiences,” House remarked.  “Today we are revealing the genesis of an expanding ‘idea’ about the future of play – an idea with enough potential to satisfy the insatiable appetites of our creative community of developers and gamers.”

Acclaimed game designer and industry veteran Mark Cerny then took the stage to discuss PS4 in more detail, including the powerful system components that will give developers the canvas to fully express their creative ideas and deliver more immersive gaming that transcends today’s expectations.  Cerny, the lead system architect for PS4, also talked about the five key principles guiding the design of the consumer experience that will surround all games: simple, immediate, social, integrated, and personalized.

“We wanted to ensure that nothing would come between the platform and the joy of play,” Cerny said.  “We also wanted to be sure that the system architecture could fluidly connect the player to a larger world of experiences, and provide easy access to everything PlayStation® has to offer – across the console and mobile spaces, and PlayStation®Network.  And we were able to create, in PS4, a platform by game creators for game creators.”  

David Perry, noted developer and CEO of Gaikai Inc., which joined SCE group last year, announced the ambitions for PlayStation®Network and how PS4 will leverage Gaikai’s cloud technology to deliver a sea change in how consumers discover, access, share and enjoy games.  Whether that’s connecting PSN more deeply into social networks or broadcasting the game a user is playing in real time or getting help from friends in new ways, the gaming experience on PS4 is rooted in social interaction.  Perry also discussed the company’s goal to make free exploration possible for various games, a concept he described as, “Try it for free, share it if you like it, only pay for games you fall in love with.”

PS4 integrates second screens, including PS Vita, smartphones and tablets, to wrap gamers in their favorite content wherever they are.  SCE’s long-term goal is to make almost every PS4 title playable on PS Vita by using Remote Play over Wi-Fi networks.  “PS Vita is the ultimate companion device for PS4, enabling gamers to pull their games from their beautiful HDTVs to PS Vita’s beautiful 5-inch screen,” Perry noted.

The spotlight moved toward some of the most creative individuals in the development and publishing community, highlighting how PS4 brings a new synergy between hardware and software to enable new emotional states of play never before possible.  “The future of PlayStation is about great games – inspiring, new experiences from the imaginations of the world’s best creators,” said Michael Denny, SVP, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios.

Denny introduced developers behind some of the first-party titles being created exclusively for the new platform, including Guerrilla Games’ Hermen Hulst, Sucker Punch Productions’ Nate Fox, and Evolution Studios’ Matt Southern.

“‘Next Generation’ no longer just means ‘more powerful hardware,’” Southern said. “We’re a next generation of gamer, we want to play great looking games but in new ways that fit our permanently-connected lives.  To us, that means driving in a team.  It’s such a thrill for a studio to be asked to help define new PlayStation technology, so that we can bring our vision for team based racing to life.”

Celebrated independent developer Jonathan Blow then unveiled the first official trailer for The Witness, which will be exclusive to PS4 for console and underscores PlayStation’s support of developers interested in pushing the boundaries of play.

PlayStation®Meeting 2013 also featured two of the gaming industry’s most talented creators providing a glimpse into the future of what’s possible on PS4.  David Cage from Quantic Dream explored narrative-driven gaming and how PS4’s powerful hardware lets developers forget about technology and focus on creating experiences that trigger emotions.  “We can concentrate on what amazing stories we want to tell and what incredible worlds we want to create,” Cage said.  “We can take you to places you have never seen before and make you feel emotions that you have never felt in real life, without having to wonder if we will have the horsepower to do so.  We are now only limited by our imagination.”

Alex Evans from Media Molecule then re-imagined the concept of user-generated content and creativity.  Armed with a PlayStation®Move motion controller, he demonstrated the freedom of expression that PS4 offers to creators, whether they’re professional developers or gamers of all levels.  Evans remarked: “PS4, in our eyes, should be 'the creative console'. It’s the place you go to be inspired; It's the place to experience other's dreams, or make your own: it's the place you go, to make.  With PS4, with the creative console, we want to change making in every way: from music to gaming to story-telling.”

Building on PlayStation’s long-standing history of collaborating with third-party partners, PS4 will have software support from virtually every major developer and publisher across North America, Europe and Japan.  At PlayStation Meeting 2013, titles in development and technology demos were presented by partners including Activision Publishing, Inc., Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., Bungie, Inc., CAPCOM, Epic Games, Inc., Havok, SQUARE ENIX Co., Ltd., Ubisoft Entertainment, showcasing how the development community has already embraced PS3’s ability to make their imaginations become reality.

Ubisoft Entertainment  Co-Founder and CEO Yves Guillemot announced that Watch_Dogs, introduced at E3 2012 to critical acclaim, will launch with PS4.  “Today, with PS4, Sony Computer Entertainment is introducing an amazing new platform,” Guillemot said. “It will let developers like ours deliver games that surpass anything previously possible on a home console.  PS4 will also help us deliver on what we believe to be the future of gaming.”  

Chris Metzen, Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., unveiled that the award-winning Diablo franchise would make its console debut with PlayStation. Diablo III will be adapted for PS4 with an interface custom-designed to work naturally on controllers.

Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc., announced full support from its developers for PS4.  Hirshberg then introduced Bungie, Inc., which is working on “the next great video game franchise – Destiny.

Harold Ryan, President of Bungie, Inc., announced that Destiny will have exclusive content for PlayStation gamers.  Ryan said: “Like PS4, Destiny is an online, connected experience. Like PS4, Destiny lets you access the content you love from multiple devices. And like PS4, Destiny is designed to entertain you for years to come.”

The lineup of PS4 games shown at PlayStation Meeting 2013 include:

Driveclub (WWS Evolution Studios)

inFAMOUS Second Son (WWS Sucker Punch Productions)

Killzone: Shadow Fall (WWS Guerrilla Games)

Knack (WWS Japan Studio)

Deep Down (working title) (CAPCOM)

Destiny (Activision Publishing, Inc./ Bungie, Inc.)

Diablo III (Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.)

The Witness (Jonathan Blow)

Watch_Dogs (Ubisoft Entertainment)

Additional titles that will be available for PS4 will continue to be announced, demonstrating the full support of SCE Worldwide Studios, third-party developers and publishers, and the independent development community.

“The arrival of PS4 is a critical initiative that presents an enormous opportunity to dramatically evolve the game play experience into something far grander than ever imagined,” House said, as he concluded the event.  “From enhanced social capabilities to intensified power to realizing bigger, better, and more immersive game play, to the evolution of our ecosystem to meet the requirements for a simpler, more adaptive interface, we believe PS4 proves we have more to offer than ever before.



PlayStation 4 announcement

PlayStation 4 confirmed


There's a news conference happening at midday today for PlayStation.

It's rumoured to be an announcement of PlayStation 4. PS4 will release during the 2013 holiday season, but no price yet.



You can follow the very latest from the PlayStation Meeting 2013 here.

Sony Boss Andrew House has confirmed the launch of PlayStation 4.

Supercharged PC architecture with 8GB of RAM. Developers are going to be happy about that RAM.
Dual Shock 4 controller revealed tooIt has a touch pad, headphone jack, a share button




First game revealed for PS4 - Knack.

PS4 digital games can be played while they are being downloaded. The system will download a section of the game to get it started then download the rest in the background while you play.

"Pay only for the games you fall in love with" with PS4

Share button a major plus for the DualShock 4 controller.




You can enjoy Remote Play for PS4 games via PS Vita.

PS1, PS2, PS3, and PS Mobile games on any system, including PS4 using the streaming technology. Not confirmation yet.

Games announced include: Killzone: Shadow Fall, Drive Club, Infamous:Second son, The Witness, Deep Down, Watch Dogs, Destiny, Diablo 3

Killzone Shadow Fall revealed on PS4



Killzone Shadow Fall's Helghast









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