Masterchef 2008


What was wrong with the lugubriousness of Lloyd Grossman?




top TV – even though I’m an adman

How could I possibly support such a notion?

An ad campaign that says life is better without the ads.

I’ll tell you how…

Put together a hugely compelling idea, a brilliantly to the point proposition, fabulous direction and a song to kill for. (Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka.)

And this is what you get. Advertising at its best.

The irony is that it’s anti advertising. But, you know what? That ultimately is why it is genius and will win lots of advertising awards.


And you know what? I was able to repeat view it on our temporarily working Sky + (2 months now – a record!).


There will be blood


I had so been looking forward to this movie and had to bide my time to see it.

However, on a wet Monday afternoon in Glasgow my chance arrived.

PT Anderson is right up there among my favourite directors of all time with Magnolia in my top 5 films, ever! News of Daniel Day Lewis’ performance and his (as it turns out justified) favouritism for the Best Actor Oscar only added to my anticipation.

The film’s position as No. 23 EVER on IMDb’s review list (my filmic bible) meant it had to be a total classic.

So I’m afriad I have to beg to differ.

Whilst much of it amazes there is just too much indulgence in this movie. The first 20 minutes when, famously, not a word is uttered feels to me like film wank. It is overlong as well and I felt the cinematography failed to reach the top drawer; it’s simply too dark in places.

The theme of greed is interesting but it feels a bit derivative of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – the famous book of the 50’s – although I gather the inspiration was drawn from a little known novel called ‘Oil’. And there are rather too many moments where Daniel Plainview played, mostly magnificently, by Daniel Day Lewis, is symbolised as the Devil incarnate sheathed in shards of flame and plumes of smoke. OK PT, we get it…

The context in which this greed is acted out is Oil Boom America (the first third of the last century). It centres around an oil prospector’s run ins with an unnamed fundamentalist Christian outback church.

The parallels between Bush and Iraq are not difficult to see.

Whilst the congregation may be innocent worshippers, the relationship between the young pastor (Dano) and Plainview, is the real axis of the movie and it meets with mixed results. Partly because Dano’s performance is not 100% convincing. Close, but no cigar.

Indeed the denoument was, I thought, verging on the absurd.

Daniel Day Lewis’ descent into madness is well observed and he manages to avoid the excesses of Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York. However, having seen most of the big movies of the year his was probably the best male lead performance – although I felt Ellen Page in Juno and Javier Bardem in A Country For Old Men were better, purer, more believable constructs.

Which brings me to my final point. The Coen’s movie beats it hand down on every level except for the score, which is stunning.

Jonny Greenwood was responsible and this is the standout moment…


Verdict?  7/10.  (Still an A in old money, but I was expecting a straight 10)

The Hold Steady


This great band from Brooklyn NYC were in Glasgow last night playing at The Garage. Ian Dommett and I attended and were blown away by their passion, energy and sheer musicianship. An outstanding gig by a top notch band.

They even did Chips Ahoy justice. Boys and Girls in America, the first encore was peerless.

And Stuck Between Stations? Well, judge for yourselves.


The support were excellent too, look out for them. Good old Rock and roll. The Haze, from Maybole,

First single out next month. 

Professor Cary Fowler


You probably heard about this guy’s life work, setting up a seed store 150 metres into a mountain in Greenland on the news yesterday.

I think this is really a very important piece of scientific persistance and it smacks, to me at least, of Nobel Prize winning work.

The essence of his idea is that all of the world’s seeds are collected in one place; in theory, at least, the situation is immune from earthquake, nuclear war, global warming’s greatest extremes and power cuts.

One can never know the potential value of this, but it is hard to underestimate.

Good on you mate (and the Norwegian Govt).

It’s hard to take people with you to do what is the right thing.

recent listening

This is a bit different. A modern take on folk as a kind of folk supergroup. They could have called themselves Sky Ba’tat!


Led by Martin and Eliza Carthy and featuring Sheila Chandra, Benjamin Zephania, Paul Weller, Trans-Global Underground, Billy Bragg, The Copper Family and Tuung it maybe shouldn’t work, but it does.

However, even though it’s a new take on folk if you don’t like folk you won’t like this. If you’re ambivalent it might just swing it for you.

They are The Imagined Village. What’s most interesting is when they meld olde English Folk with ‘World Rythms’ so that the percussion can be really interesting and exciting, particularly on the song “Cold Haily Rainy Night.”


The other thing that’s heavily rotating on the car stereo is the soundtrack from Juno featuring a bunch of quirky off-beat stuff. “A bit kooky” would, I suppose, sum it up and no better demo of that is the Velvet Underground’s “I’m sticking with you” which is, for those of you that know it, is not typical Velvets.

In addition it features Dearest by Buddy Hololy which is really rather good and A Well Respected Man by The Kinks, thereafter you’re into Belle and Sebastian territory with a couple of contributions (Expectations and Piazza. New York Catcher). But the real backbone of the album is a bunch of college bands from the US that I’ve never heard of but would like to find out more, principally Kimya Dawson, but also Barry Louis Polisar, Antsy Pants and The Moldy Peaches.

Here’s some Kimya…


It’s all good fun, feelgood stuff.

Well worth a tenner.