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A touching examination of the relationship between a young athlete and his father
Tom Daley came to national and international prominence when he won the Men's 10 metre platform diving European championship in 2008, at the age of 13, and came 7th in the individual competition and 8th in the synchro competition at the Beijing Olympics. In the summer of 2009, aged 15, he won the World Championships, and this documentary followed him through the 2010 diving season.
The documentary starts with a disappointment at the British Championships, which he had won in 2009 (and would again in 2012) but he was beaten into second place in 2010 (and again in 2011), but worse was to come when he injured his triceps in practice for the European Championship in Budapest, and had to withdraw from competition for most of the summer while he healed. This might have been the kiss of death for the documentary, but instead it focuses on the close loving relationships between Tom and the other members of his family - his two younger brothers who try to maintain that they're not impressed by his achievements, his mother, Debbie, and most of all, his father, Rob. Rob was a huge support to his son - "taxi driver dad", who attended all Tom's training sessions and most of his competitions. However, in 2006 Rob had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, and although 80% of it was removed by surgery, there was always the fear that it would return.
The timing of the documentary was a little unfortunate - it was broadcast on BBC1 just days before Tom returned to competition at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where he won both the individual and synchro 10 metre titles; for the first time Rob was absent from the competition, as he was undergoing further chemotherapy and been advised against long-distance travel. Sadly, only a few months later another tumour was discovered, and Rob passed away in May 2011.
Chelmsford 123 (1988)
Really hilarious - and now on iTunes
One of the best historical comedies ever - and at last after 20 years we can get it on iTunes for less than £5 a series, and on Channel4 On Demand.
"Oh mighty Hadrian, I have just spent the most miserable four weeks of my life inspecting our borders with Caledonia. It seems you have instructed our engineers to build a long stretch of stonework right across the country. Now if I didn't know better, I'd say it was a wall. Is the idea to continue the wall all the way around Caledonia, then put a roof on it, thereby making it the biggest indoor toilet in the Empire?". - Governor Aulus Paulinus, dictating a letter to Rome, season 2, episode 1.
Doctor Who: Journey's End (2008)
One you either love or hate
Well, as the other commenters have made clear, this is an episode you either love or hate! For myself, I quite enjoyed it - yes there are plot holes (when aren't there?), but it was a very satisfactory wrap up to a strong season, tying in plot elements found in stories over the last 4 seasons. Looking at some of the fan forums, it's plain that many people are unhappy with the treatment of Donna, but it was always known that Catherine Tate was only available for one season, so the only question was how she would be written out; many of the detractors seem to view the episode more kindly after another viewing. There was a strong feeling throughout the episode that Russell Davies was tying up all the loose plot lines of his era, and clearing the decks for Steven Moffat's takeover in season 5. I felt some of the multitude of companions in this and the last episode were rather underused - the Torchwood mob were rather useless (what's new? :) ).
One of the most moving stories I've ever seen
I saw this when it was first broadcast in the UK by the BBC, and it may indicate how affected I was that this was the only time I have ever written to a broadcaster in praise of something they've shown. It's a truly horrifying story, and one can only feel sadness that Steven Staynor never really got a chance to rebuild his life.
One of the morals of the story is to make sure you teach your children never to accept lifts from strangers - I'm a bit older than Steven was, and when I was about his age when he was kidnapped, the Moors Murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, were active not too far away from us. My parents were so successful in instilling the "don't take lifts" instinct into me that I wouldn't even take lifts from people I knew, or more distant relatives! This was a bit of a problem one day when my school was being closed early because of a snowstorm and the teachers had a bit of a struggle convincing me to allow myself to be given a lift the two miles home!
Quite a disappointment
Well, that's another hour and a half I won't see again. This is a pity, because the trailers looked good, and the basic idea can give excellent stories - see the early 1970's British kids' TV show "The Tomorrow People" for example. Unfortunately, the money spent on this movie seems to have gone on the special effects and filming around the world, rather than on a plot. The dizzying "jump" effect is pretty good, but after 2 minutes I was waiting for the plot to begin, and I was still waiting when the credits rolled 85 minutes later. Any movie which depends on a sequel for its plot and background is severely lacking, and I much doubt that this movie will get a sequel, unless it gets a TV series like "Highlander" did. It's unexplained WHY the Paladins hate the Jumpers, and it's not explained how Samuel L. Jackson's hair is white and his beard isn't!
The basic problems are:
1. Hayden Christensen is an actor of very limited range
2. There's nothing in the plot to make us like the lead character - he's a self-centred idiot who learns nothing from Griffin's warnings
3. Jamie Bell, who plays Griffin, is a FAR better actor and steals all the scenes he's in.
4. In the UK it has a "12A" certificate. This is a pity as I think it should be "PG" - any 12 year old who goes to see it will be able to spot plot holes you could drive a bus through (and indeed at one point a bus does get driven through a wormhole!).
If you want to see this, I recommend you wait until you can rent the DVD.
Z Cars (1962)
Funny how relatively little you remember after 30-40 years!
When I was a lad in the far-off days of 405-line black-and-white TV, Z-Cars was required viewing, the more so as most of the characters spoke with the same accent as my mothers' cousins whom we regularly visited on Sundays in Birkenhead every few months (though our accent was /very/ Welsh!).
I remember that a boy who travelled on my school bus got cast as a 15-year-old tearaway in one episode in around 1973. I don't think he had much of an acting career afterwards (he's not on the IMDb, anyway!), but I did see a photo of him in Sgt Lynch's clutches in the local paper afterwards.
A delightfully heartwarming story
Many other comments have described the plot, but I think most of the American reviewers will have missed some of the delicious jokes in this delightful movie. At the beginning of the movie when the builders are still laying out the boys' new housing estate, I was amused when the roads were named as "Lundy, Fastnet, Cromarty, German Bight" - these are all the names of sea areas around the British coast, used three times a day in the shipping weather forecast on BBC Radio 4, and rather incongruous as street names! Also, when the boys are discussing what to do with the money: "You could buy Crewe Alexandra for £50!" - hey, that's my local football club!
It was fun seeing fairly local places in the movie - the boys seem to have moved to Warrington or Widnes (halfway between Liverpool and Manchester), judging by the view of the cooling towers of Fiddler's Ferry Power Station. The train robbery looks like it took place in Liverpool's Lime Street station.
Alex Etel is absolutely adorable as Damian, and Lewis McGibbon is also very good as Anthony. For the information of some earlier commentators, the people in this movie do NOT have Irish accents (except maybe James Nesbitt, who does come from Northern Ireland) - they're all local to where it's set. I heartily recommend this movie to everyone - even I learned a few things from it - I didn't previously know that St Anne is the patron saint of housemoving, or why the Catherine Wheel is called that! (UK rating: 12A).
The completion of a masterpiece
Two years ago, after I saw Fellowship of the Ring I told some friends that if I died before Christmas 2003 I would be _very_ annoyed! Thankfully I'm still here, and I'm extremely happy to have seen the completion of Peter Jackson's masterpiece -- this is a work of genius, both in the direction and the production, and all praise to the executives of New Line Cinema for having the guts to bet the company on this project -- see, virtue is rewarded!
If Peter Jackson doesn't get the best director Oscar and Best Picture, then it will only prove that the members of AMPAS are a bunch of Philistines who don't recognise genius when they see it. While it's rather invidious to select one out of the cast, Sean Astin's performance as Sam was remarkable, and I have to confess that even this hard-hearted middle-aged viewer was surreptitiously dabbing tears out of his eyes at several points in the movie.
The Tomorrow People (1992)
A well-produced further development of the 1970s classic.
I was a fan of the original 1970s "Tomorrow People", so I was very pleased when I heard a new version was going into production in the early 1990s. The series comprised 5 stories - an introductory story introducing the premises of the Tomorrow People, first transmitted in the UK in November-December 1992, "The Culex Experiment" (Jan-Feb 1994), "Monsoon Man" (Feb 1994), "The Rameses Connection" (guest starring Christopher Lee, Jan 1995), and "The Living Stones" (Feb 1995). This was a co-production between Tetra Films/Thames TV in the UK and Nickelodeon in the US and it has a suitably international cast -- the principal cast of Tomorrow People changes frequently. Australian Kristian Schmid (previously known as Todd in the popular Australian soap, "Neighbours") plays "Adam", and Canadian Christian Tessier plays the American character "Megabyte" throughout the series. Younger English actor Adam Pearce plays "Kevin" in the first story, and spends most of "The Culex Experiment" in a coma and is never seen or mentioned again! American Kristen Ariza plays "Lisa" in the first story and is never seen again. Naomie Harris appears from nowhere as "Ami" at the start of "The Culex Experiment" and appears in all later stories (though she plays no active part in "The Living Stones"), and one can only feel sympathy for Alexandra Milman, whose character "breaks out" as a Tomorrow Person in the last episode of the last story!
There's some horrible overacting on the part of some of the adult guest characters in most of the stories, but on the whole it's not at all bad, and most of the young actors (particularly Schmid and Tessier) carry their roles well.
The production values and special effects are much better than the in the 1970s series, and it's a matter of regret that it seems to have been cancelled so relatively early.