(I’d stopped doing these, but then this dropped down through the space-time continuum and I felt NWTW deserved resurrection to share it with you…)

Film Review: Nighthawk (no stars)

Big-screen remakes of old TV series are not uncommon, but there’s a good chance that Zack Snyder’s new film Nighhawk may just have killed them off for good, hopefully along with his career. A terrible script that’s poorly directed is one thing, but I’ve never seen one so horribly misjudged in tone, casting and everything else as this. To some, what follows may count as spoilers, but I choose to call them protectors instead, because hopefully they’ll protect you from any desire you may have to go and see this film.

It begins looking just like a horrendously-miscast version of the TV series it’s based on. It’s World War Two, somewhere in France, and café owner Rene Artois (Channing Tatum) is secretly an agent of the Resistance, working to help fugitive British airmen escape the Nazis. At the same time, he’s trying to avoid his wife (Lea Seydoux in a bad wig) and keep up his affairs with two waitresses (Kelly Brook and Keeley Hawes, neither of whom seem sure about whether they’re meant to be doing French accents). All this is happening under the noses of two inept German officers (Ray Winstone and Alexander Armstrong) and all seems set for an inept farce, especially when SS officer Herr Flick (Adam Sandler) arrives on the scene.

At this point, everything goes so bad you begin to wonder if someone has filled the cinema with hallucinogenic gas. A cackling Herr Flick guns down a field of Resistance women and the priceless painting they are carrying (incredulously referred to throughout the film as The Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies) is soaked in their blood and things begin going to hell. Literally. Suddenly, Edith’s singing is not just bad, but has the ability to warp holes in reality, and all involved – the cafe staff, the surviving resistance, the Nazis, even an undercover British agent with an inexplicable speech impediment (Paul Bettany) – find themselves on the same side as demons swarm over the French countryside (which looks oddly Californian most of the time) and Great Old Ones prepare to rise from the inky depths.

Several insanities, rendered limbs and buckets of blood later, we reviewers had managed to get ourselves out of the cinema and wondered just what had gone so wrong with our world. At what point does everything – even ‘Allo! ‘Allo! – have to have a a grim and dark retelling in the hands of ‘Visionary Directors’? What is gained by watching Winstone slur his way through a tongue twister about how the drug in the mug and the candle with the handle on the gateau from the chateau are needed to prevent Great Cthulhu from devouring Paris?

I tell you, if Jason Statham’s Fairly Secret Army is as bad as this, I might stop going to the cinema altogether.

(thanks to Jennie Rigg for some of the inspiration for this)

Labour leadership: Closing statements from the candidates

As we finally stagger towards the announcement of the result, the four candidates for Labour leader have been making their final speeches. Here’s what they said:

Liz Kendall: “People have asked me if I’d change anything about my leadership campaign, and I can only think of one thing I’d have done differently. Back in May, I should have decided to spend the next few months catching up on a few box sets and let Tristram Hunt destroy his career instead.”

Andy Burnham: “Throughout this campaign, I have been listening to you, and giving you what you wanted, no matter how many crazed u-turns that required me to pull. As leader, I will continue to give you what you want, and that is why I, Jerendy Corbynham, will be the next Labour leader.”

Yvette Cooper: “Labour needs someone to be a campaigner, and throughout the three long weeks of this election, I have been campaigning as hard as I can. You can be assured that I will campaign just as hard in the 2020 election as I have for the party leadership.”

Jeremy Corbyn: “That was weird. I dreamt I was running for Labour leader, people were publishing books of poems about me and Buzzfeed were running articles illustrating people’s dreams about me. Oh, I see. Right. Shit.”

Many people come here seeking the truth about Balustrade Lanyard – the man, the myth, the lanyard – but thanks to a quirk of Google, they’re merely landing on a page that tells them next to nothing of one of the most important political figures of our generation. Should you wish to know more, it can be found by clicking here.

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Not Watching This Weekend: Eggbound 2: The Powdering

"I still have a very particular set of dietary requirements."

“I still have a very particular set of dietary requirements.”

The Pitch: Following the unexplained success of Eggbound, a sequel was inevitable. With production set to start, no original script was available so another script was press ganged into service, with names hastily find-and-replaced to match the original, and no one really caring that it moved the franchise into a whole other genre.

Brendan McPuncherson, the world’s most inexplicably Irish accented and still egg-dependent CIA agent is on a visit to London to meet an equally inexplicable friend who happens to be a Professor of Science at the Queen’s London University of Sciences. After a scene in which McPuncherson mentions the quality of British eggs (special marketing consideration: the British Egg Marketing Board), his friend is brutally murdered by a group of vaguely Eastern European terrorists (played mainly by actors taking a few weeks off from EastEnders) who want access to ‘the Device’ created by Brendan’s friend. Brendan discovers it amidst his friend’s cluttered office in a castle, and accidentally activates it, which sends him and the chief terrorist back in time to the Blitz. Brendan finds himself hunting London both for Albert Einstein, the only man who might be able to understand the Device and send him back to his own time, and for a source of egg-based protein in a country under rationing. Meanwhile, the chief terrorist falls in with a group of upper-class Nazi sympathisers, ready to use his knowledge to overthrown Winston Churchill and let the Nazis win the war.

Can Brendan find Einstein in a world where he’s weakened by only being able to eat powdered egg that he has to specially prepare every thirty minutes? Will the plucky Cockney girl he meets be able to help him and convincingly pretend to have a sexual attraction to an aging actor while deploying an accent even Dick Van Dyke would wince at? Which actor will get the chance to don the fat suit and carry the unlit cigar to play a curiously cheerful Churchill? How many historians will die laughing when attempting to watch the film and catalogue its inaccuracies? Will the promotions department be able to resist publicising it as ‘Finally, Liam Neeson Punches Nazis!’?

The Cast:
Brendan McPuncherson: Liam Neeson
Chief Terrorist: David Tennant
Plucky Cockney Girl: Mila Kunis
Deputy Chief Terrorist: The bald one from EastEnders who’s not a Mitchell brother
Chief upper class Nazi sympathiser: Tim Pigott-Smith
Other terrorists: That one from EastEnders who used to be in Hustle, Vinnie Jones, A couple of non-speaking Polish extras looking uncomfortable
Nazi sympathising aristocrat who realises the error of her ways, then sacrifices herself to help McPuncherson escape: Someone from Downton Abbey
Albert Einstein: Mark Gatiss
Winston Churchill (and most of the budget, because someone’s got to get the money to keep the Old Vic going): Kevin Spacey

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Newspaper columnists respond to the eclipse

_81787003_proba-2_view_of_europe_s_solar_eclipsePolly Toynbee:

In the summer of 1999, there were clear blue skies and a warm August day for the eclipse, which Tony Blair had ensured was happening at the family friendly time of 11am. In 2015, the eclipse was hidden behind thick clouds, only visible to rich bankers circling London in their private jets, buried away at 9.30 in the morning, when millions of workers would be slaving away for their bosses, unable to see it, even if David Cameron hadn’t arranged for there to be cloudy skies. There couldn’t be a more damning indictment of Coalition Britain.

Dan Hodges:

…and as the Moon slowly covered the Sun, pitching the entire country into darkness, what did Ed Miliband say? Nothing. The whole country was being denied the warmth and light of the Sun but he couldn’t bring himself to even issue a press-release castigating the Moon for its role in making this happen. Labour used to be a party of light, now they stand for nothing more than darkness.

Richard Littlejohn:

I’ll tell you what eclipse we should be having – eclipse round the ear from a neighbourhood bobby. That’d sort out the problems of the country. (Note to subs: please pad this out as if I was there, because there wasn’t an eclipse here in Florida)

Peter Hitchens:

For hundreds of years, the people of these islands knew just how to deal with eclipses. A young (and obviously virginal in those days before sex education corrupted our youth) member of the village would be sacrificed, the Moon would be appeased and the Sun would be returned to us with none of the ridiculous fuss we see nowadays. But now we must all stand around and watch this eclipse, and if you try to set up just a small sacrifice of innocent children (assuming you can find any in this Godforsaken country) then the PC Police will descend on you and throw you in prison. Meanwhile, the real criminals – those who would see what remains of our degraded civilization be eaten by angry and unappeased sky gods – go unpunished. That’s Britain today for you.

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Video: Mitchell and Webb explain online voting security

After writing about that WebRoots report the other day, I had the feeling I’d seen that attitude to security somewhere before. Then I remembered where…

“Well, you’ve got a sign that says it’s secure, so it must be safe.”


The competition, apparently.

The competition, apparently.

Apparently, there’s a market – and someone at the Guardian reckons it’s at least 18 strong – for a ‘masterclass’ on live blogging at a cost of £99 for three hours.

I look at that and think ‘who is this Stuart Heritage?’ Does he have the extensive knowledge and experience of blogging that has made him the eighth most influential blogger on the subject of ‘other’? He clearly does not. Has he been nominated for a Blog of the Year award only when the field from which nominees are selected has shrunk dramatically? He hasn’t. Was he featured in print in The Blog Digest 2007? He wasn’t, but yet he still feels he can charge a quite large sum of money to those wanting to receive his blogging experience.

Well, if there’s money for old rope going around, never let it be said that I wasn’t willing to do a half-arsed job and throw something together in an attempt to get a little bit of that cash for myself. Here’s my full day seminar in the things you’ll need to know to be a political blogger as successful, influential and well-regarded as I am.

10am: Welcome, Introductions and Getting To Know You In which I spend at least ten minutes looking at a list of names, counting heads in the room and saying ‘we’ll just give the stragglers a couple of minutes’ before getting started on reading out this schedule to you, as though you’ve never seen it before. Following that, I’ll ask you all to introduce yourselves, figuring that as you’ve all come to an event about how to get other people to read your opinions, you’ll easily fill an hour between you bigging up your own self-importance and getting into pointless arguments.

11am: The basics of blogging In which I ignore the fact that all the attendees already have blogs and tell you how to start a blog, including a ridiculously detailed PowerPoint presentation on signing up for WordPress. (Note: This will be the only part of the course where I have anything resembling notes and a plan and am not desperately winging it)

11.45am: Developing your own complex and detailed political opinions: The amount of time we devote to this subject will reflect its importance in creating an interesting and well-read blog.

11.50am: Who needs opinions when columnists can have them for you? Includes important lessons on how to get newspaper pundits to tweet a link to the post in which you bravely agree with whatever they wrote that morning.

12.30: Lunch (not included in price). Attendees will be given the opportunity to learn more of the secrets of blogging if they buy me food and drink at a nearby pub.

2pm: The @loveandgarbage guide to live blogging: Special guest tutor Love And Garbage (invited, but not confirmed at time of going to press), author of many live blogs including ‘Is it snowing outside?’, ‘Is there snow outside?’ and ‘Snow’ will explain all the intricacies of this special form of blogging. As an acknowledged master of digital communication, Love And Garbage’s lessons are not to be missed (attendance still not confirmed at this time).

3pm: How to be a success at political blogging: This session will help turn you into a top class political blogger. Topics covered will include:

  • How to cherry pick polls to prove your point
  • The conventional wisdom: Isn’t the true bravery in standing up for it, not challenging it?
  • Telling people just what they want to hear – and getting them to share it
  • Building an audience through the use of partisan factoids
  • Speaking truth to power: How to tell the powerful they’re looking really good, are completely right about everything and do they have any jobs available?
  • (Some of these topics will be covered in greater depth on our full-day ‘How To Work For A Think Tank’ course – 10% discounts available to everyone who completes the blogging masterclass!)
    All topics will be covered by way of me improvising wildly based on half-completed PowerPoint presentations, and attempting to stoke arguments amongst attendees in the hopes that’ll fill some time.

    4.30pm: Close and Conclusions A chance for me to make many of the same points again, then fill more of your time by asking you all to tell us what you’ve learned on the course. Please feel free to tell us all in great detail how it’s proved you’re right about everything.

    Following the event, the tutor will retire to a nearby pub, where you will be invited to buy him drinks in the hope of learning more of my wisdom of blogging.

    The details: Attendance is just £5.50 per person, though Ryanair-style additional charges may be made for extras such as having a seat or being in the actual room where the masterclass is taking place. Location TBC, but likely to end up being whichever coffee shop has the comfiest seats and staff who are least likely to throw us out for hogging space and not buying anything. Attendees should expect to bring their own laptops, tablets, chargers, power sources and ideas to the course as none will be supplied. All guest tutors are unconfirmed at this time, and may be replaced by whoever responds to a desperate plea for help on Twitter on the morning of the event. All attendees will be given the right to design and print their own certificate of attendance. Tutors reserve the right to be more interested in browsing social media than teaching the course. All timings are subject to change, especially for the afternoon after the pub. No refunds.

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