Tuesday 28 May 2024

Headless (2015)

Blimey! Hold onto your hats - well, heads, actually. This is not one for the faint hearted for sure. A gore-fest from start to finish in which a man randomly, mostly, selects women in order to get them back to his den where he lops their heads of, cuts various other bits of their bodies apart, copulates with the severed head and eats their eyeballs! I warned you!

You have to wonder why people would make a film like this really. I guess it must appeal to some. I tend to watch films like this out of fascination to see how low everyone can stoop. And this one's pretty low. Diabolical acting, low-budget, hardly any dialogue - just this fruit-loop doing the above.

There is a backstory of course, which gets flashed back to, involving him being locked up in a cage as a child by the female members of his family and fed raw rabbit's heads, and the appearance of some boy, who appears as an (I think) imaginary friend - then comes back later in this film to direct the grown-up boy's antics and validate his actions. Well, to him at least!

It is a completely bonkers blood-bath, not terribly well made, though they seem to have shot it in the style of a 1970's underground movie - there's even a Coming Soon/Feature Presentation (Tarantino style) at the beginning, like you'd see in a cinema outing back then!

Oh yes, and the 'highlights' of the action, for some reason, are all pretty much flashed-forward to in the first few minutes of the film. So you don't really need to watch it! Anyway, if anyone fancies the challenge, it's currently being screened for free on the Plex directory. Bonkers!

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Wicked Little Letters (2023)

This is a delightful British comedy/drama which could have been in danger of meandering off into Last of the Summer Wine territory in a tired old BBC kind of way but doesn't, because of the way in which it's been produced, written, directed and shot. It's ended up instead a decidedly large cut above that drivel of yesteryear.

Apparently based on truth and a book written by Christopher Hilliard entitled The Littlehampton Libels: A Miscarriage of Justice and a Mystery about Words in 1920s England, the story takes us back to the 1920's and the south coast of England seaside town of Littlehampton (which I happen to know well). It's the tale of two families who live next door to each other, one headed by a wild and fiesty immigrant from Ireland following WWI and the other a puritanical religious bunch, not sure whether or not they can cope with those next door or not!

Edith Swan, the ageing daughter in the latter of the households, keeps getting letters through the post packed with obscenities and insults. Rose Gooding, the foul-mouthed Irish girl is squarely nominated by anyone who knows about the events as the guilty party and responsible for the deeds. Edith is played by Olivia Colman (The Night Manager, Tyrannosaur, Empire of Light) and Rose, Jessie Buckley (Men, Fingernails, I'm Thinking of Ending Things).

The local incompetent police force don't quite know what to do about it, under pressure from some of the townsfolk and Edith's father to arrest Rose for the 'crime' of libel! The boss is trying to hold the force's actions together, staffed by the buffoon Constable Papperwick, played by Hugh Skinner (The Romanoffs), with rookie 'woman police officer' Gladys Moss, played by Anjana Vasan - seemingly the only one with a brain between them! In the end, they give into social pressure and arrest Rose, throw her in jail, only for the women townsfolk to club together to raise the bail and get her out whilst she awaited trial.

Gladys isn't happy and thinks she knows that Rose is innocent, so heads off, with no permission, to investigate. This gets her suspended, but also presents her with a golden opportunity to team up with the women of the town in order to investigate and clear Rose's name.

In the midst of all this, we get an insight into the racist and sexist behaviour and attitudes of the time and place, around the era of the Suffragette Movement, raising awareness in enlightened circles of things to come regarding value-bases and equality of human beings. The filmmakers may have taken this a step too far, perhaps for further emphasis of those issues by placing people from ethnic minorities into key roles in the story/film, like Gladys and the judge in the court, particularly, which was very highly unlikely to be the case in that prejudiced era.

Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) plays Edith's father, Edward, ruling his household, centred around religion and alleged moral high-ground, with wife Victoria, played by Gemma Jones, under his thumb alongside Edith - their individuality well and truly stamped out. It is clear that the women of the house don't dare step out of line, do as he says and what is expected of them - or face his wrath and punishment/correction.

It's actually a very funny film partly because of the profanities in the letters which are read out aloud by the most unlikely people in the mix, the characters shocking themselves that they could even utter such words. The biggest laugh out loud moments are centred around this and, yes, that runs out of steam eventually. But there's enough else too, as the comic antics of the ladies swinging into action to uncover what they think to be the truth, gets underway.

The mainly British cast do a fabulous job, every one of them. Jessie Buckley is hilarious throughout and Olivia Colman similarly, but dark and eerie when she needs to be. They're the two leads, but Timothy Spall is quite superb in his nasty character's role, Hugh Skinner convincing as the numbskull and there's other actors popping in and out who you will, no doubt, recognise - such as Jason Watkins (The Last Honour of Christopher Jefferies).

The sets are delightful as well, with fine attention to detail for the town at that time in history, the vehicles, clothing and muted colours. Director Thea Sharrock brings the very best out of the cast - they all look like they're having great fun with the project - and keeps the visuals interesting - and somewhat artistic. It really is a lovely film. Hopefully the new kind of British entertainment, so that we can put the old and tired to bed. Highly recommended.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Pixel USB-C Earbuds

Remember these? The ones Google used to bundle with the Pixel 3? I think it ended there. I was amazed to learn that the UK Google Store still stocked them, forget Amazon et al..! 20% Voucher and £24.

They sound great. Plugged into all sorts of USB-C devices here - phones, Chromebooks - anything really - and I'm having a whale of a time. No batteries to charge, plug 'em in and listen!

In-line control gets the Google Assistant, Notifications, track forward/back, volume up/down, mic for calls answer/end... and they sound great! (Especially with my PixelBook!)

XtremeSkins Skin for the PixelBook

Thanks to Lee from XtremeSkins for sending over a couple of samples to transform this 2017 PixelBook. Kudos to them for still stocking these. £18 for the full set, which, compared to a phone's set is good-looking value as there's loads of it for pretty much every panel and cutout, which work perfectly.

Sticky enough to stay in place but not too sticky to be a problem removing.

They even have covers for the trackpad if you want to use the whole set - and it works right through it!

This is White Marble, but there are loads of colours to choose from.

This is my opinion only and I really am impressed. Do head over and support XtremeSkins for skins for all sorts of devices for us here at the Tech Addicts and Phones Show Chat podcasts.

Highly recommended. Love this look!

Marshall Major IV and now V - A feature I forgot about...

Yes, I had completely forgotten (until I watched this video review last night) about the feature that allows for the Major headsets to connect by Bluetooth to a source device and then run a cable to another headset by 3.5mm to share the music with a chum!

Bluetooth is getting very clever with this stuff and can often do the same thing wirelessly now, depending on the gear involved, but here's the old-school way! I'm not aware of any other OEM doing this with headphones.

Locked In!

I’m going full-cycle at the moment on being locked-in to a system. Any system. Yes, you guessed it, on a Samsung downer! Don’t get me wrong, Samsung makes for a compelling solution for many, many aspects of digital life and clever, clever soft/hardware, but I just want Android to be open. Open like it used to be. Open like Symbian used to be. Not locked down and locked in, fearing to give up one part of the system because of then losing everything together.

Samsung Galaxy phones here, Tablet, earphones, SmartTags, S-Pens, Galaxy Watches - could well be TV, speakers as well. And more. It kind of feels like a dependency. I was preparing this week’s Phones Show Chat Podcast Recording Notes with Steve Litchfield today, reflecting on this - and one of the reasons I can’t stand iPhones and all-things Apple. It’s about being locked-in (amongst other stuff). Google is going the same way with Pixel to some degree, with ChromeBooks, phones, Pixel-only features, tablet, earbuds, watches (though they are certainly more open and don’t lock out features from other phones).

In the old days of smartphones it didn’t matter (so much) which bits of kit you have with which phones or devices. Things were more open and services not specifically designed, Good Lock or Apple style, to only work with one line of devices. Buy a Nokia phone and any old headphones and they all just work with universal protocols. I’m sure that you’re going to shout out now and say that yes, stuff does work with other stuff - Sony headphones with the Sony app work (arguably) as well on any phone. Yes, there is a lot of stuff that does work and I guess this rant is about the more deeply-embedded features.

Circle to Search, for example - exclusive to Pixel and Galaxy. A whole bunch of Pixel services that are locked into Pixel devices. Apps support in Microsoft’s Phone Link - exclusive to Galaxy (and Surface Duo). Samsung PC features (like their web browser) which only work/sync with Samsung PCs. Even Motorola’s Ready For, only really working properly with Moto phones (though there is an Assistant Android client, so that’s a bit better). Most of this rant though is aimed at Samsung, Google and Apple, I guess. And I’m sure that you get the idea.

In order to use many of their services, you just have to burn the bridges and jump in, feet-first. Probably finding it difficult to get out of the water again, which is, no doubt, their aim. I don’t like this. Android, particularly, was supposed to be open to all. And I haven’t started on the BBK group of devices or Xiaomi coming out of China, as to how they figure in all this - probably because I’m (even) less qualified to speak on that.

So yes, I’m just getting a bit fed up with the thought of being locked-in (by the Big Three, I guess). I feel more like meandering back out to AndroidOne (while it still exists amongst the embers of Nokia), Sony (with their now unified and uncomplicated photography app coming), Motorola, FairPhone maybe, Nothing Phone seems quite open, though maybe locked-up with peripherals too - and my old faithful, Motorola. Ready For or not, most stuff is pretty open and using it doesn’t make one feel like one is locked-in, hurled into the drink with nobody chucking you a Lifesaver Ring!

As usual with me, a bunch of meandering thoughts - perhaps we’ll get to discuss on PSC.

Sunday 12 May 2024

The Road (2009)

Viggo Mortensen leads an excellently performing cast in this bleak, post-apocalyptic tale of a father and son making their way across the barren, dour and grey landscape of America in order to make it south and find something better.

The boy is played by Kodi Smith-McPhee matching the others, even at his young age. The pair of them travel and stumble into harrowing and bleak adventures and challenges as they go, often life-threatening. But the film, through all this, has a message of hope for humanistic, moral principles - mainly voiced and projected through the young boy.

John Hillcoat is the director and has brought this to the screen from the highly-regarded novel of the same name by Cormack McCarthy (which I have not read but now feel the urge to do so). He visually paints a picture of low-level despair and hopelessness, where sadness prevails as the pair of them regularly consider shooting themselves as the food runs out, before they starve to death. But it’s also a story about the resolve and resourcefulness of human nature, driven through this barren potential by the deep-rooted bond of love between father and son.

Charlize Theron pops up now and again during flashbacks as their wife and mother, who sadly for them met her end before we join the story. Guy Pearce flies in with a cameo, as does Robert Duvall. Everyone plays their part in a manner supporting the grim outlook reflected in the excellent cinematography, often with huge wide-angled, grey land/seascapes. It’s a hugely atmospheric film which will make the viewer think, long after the credits roll - and well worth a look. It’s available as I write from most streaming services in one form or another.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of April 2024

  ...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Whatever Works
Episode 204 - Held Held Hobbies
Monday 1st April
 and I are here again to dribble and drool over Whatever Works for you and us in another hour of fun and frolics! We Scribe and cook, inflate and crush, rock and press, detect and charge - plus loads more, so do join us. And bring your steel-toe-capped boots!

or Room
Episode 160 - Pearl's Road House
Wednesday 3rd April
Allan, Gareth and 
are here again with another roundup of all things film, cinema and TV. This time we gorge on Gary Oldman's opulence, try to solve the 3 Body Problem, flip and flop on The Wages of Fear trilogy, Maxxx out on a couple of X-rated Pearls and even have time for some updated Ghostbusting!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 796 - Asking the Authority
Saturday 6th April
Steve and I have a treat for you this week as we welcome chirpy Parisian Rita El-Khoury back on PSC after 4 long years! It's a terrific chat in which she shares all sorts of stuff about herself, her work and the mobile phone scene, with infectious Pixel leanings! A corker, not to be missed.

Phones Show Chat
Episode 797 - Matt Miller, Mobiles, Motorola and Marshall
Saturday 13th April
Yes, it's great to chat with Matt again so why not join us for an hour as Steve and I quiz him on the stuff he's using, has used and hopes to use in the coming months. Steve's Phiddling with Pholding and Photos and I have my hands on some lovely Moto and Marshall gear (even if the latter doesn't quite work)!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 798 - The Ultra Pro Fusion
Saturday 20th April
Steve and I are back this weekend with a two-header to discuss lots of Moto stuff following this week's launches, Audioboo newcomer AirChat, the move from Pixel 7 to 8, The Lladro Phone is our Bygone Beauty and Malcolm Bryant drops in to help us understand more about Bluetooth and how phones work with audio gear, or don't, and should! Available in the usual places, so do join us for an hour.

Whatever Works
Episode 205 - Aidan's Robins' Tits!
Monday 22nd April
 is back with yours truly as we spend an hour poking fun at the less fortunate, miserable and tedious with our home-grown anti-venom! We follow the Fellows, mush a midge, film a Fuji, Braun some blood and oodles more besides! You owe it to yourself not to waste this opportunity for festicular frivolity!

Projector Room
Episode 161 - Ripley's Scoop
Wednesday 24th April
Allan, Gareth and 
are back with another round of spot the braincell as we chew the cud on film, cinema and TV for a couple of hours. We Blow-up, Blowout, Fallout and Dropout in equal measure finding there's No Escape from More and Moore of Roger and Ripley!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 799 - All Hail the MotoPixel!
Saturday 27th April
Mike Saxon joins Steve and I this week as we delve into all sorts of tantalizing topics, mobile. Loads of Moto, Pixel and Samsung, but also some (mis)understanding about audio, app-store cross-fertilisation and loads more.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Immich and Emulators
Sunday 28thApril
Gareth and I bang on about Immich, home made weather stations, emulators on Chromebooks, a poetry camera, Sony Reon Pocket 5 wearable air conditioner, Marshall headphones, Blackview phones, the new old Bang & Olufsen CD player, the upcoming Xperia 1 VI, the sexy Moondrop MIAD 01 and young brats with phones. All in the best possible taste!

The Podcasts
PodHubUK - Phones Show Chat - The Phones Show - Whatever Works - Chewing Gum for the Ears - Projector Room - Tech Addicts

Abigail (2024)

A bunch of lowly hoods are brought together in the typical nobody-knows-each-other style, not supposedly sharing anything about themselves, ...