• SUPERHERO MOVIES: Good, Bad & Elektra

    In this episode: X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut (2014)

    Deja-vu, all over again. Bryan Singer's original vision for Days of Future Past (q.v.) featured an extended cameo from the lovely Anna Paquin as Rogue (a key player in the first X-Men movies). Cut primarily for pacing reasons (the film was already long and over-plotted), it was reinstated for hard-core fans on a direct-to-DVD/Blu-Ray release. Guess this means I'm a hard-core fan, at least as far as Anna paquin is concerned, 'cause I went and bought it.

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  • WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE: Girls Talk

    Stduio Ghibli was one of the giant names in anime, and one of the few Japanese studios to consistently break through in the West. For their final feature-length project, they rather curiously chose the classic but still little-known children's book When Marnie Was There. The result is an impressive film, but one that still demonstrates the cultural and conceptual boundaries that separate anime norms from western conventions.

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  • OBVIOUS BIRDS #73: Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)

    During my birdwatching 'career' I must have seen dozens, maybe hundreds, of Meadow Pipits. Or, just as likely, I haven't seen any. That's one of the problems with what is possibly the UK's most frustrating bird.

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  • SNAP BOOK REVIEW: 'The Joy Luck Club' by Amy Tan

    This is one of those 80s novels that everyone raved about at the time (and received the ultimate accolade of being made into a terrible film), but with 30 years of perspective it's really hard to see what all the fuss was about. Because, boiled down to its essentials, this is merely a collection of stories about obnoxious, overbearing Chinese mothers and their whiny, self-absorbed Chinese-American daughters. Not much joy, and precious little luck.

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  • GREAT MOVIES: The Dish (2000)

    The rural Australian town of Parkes made an unlikely contribution to the 1969 moon landing, courtesy of its adjacent radio-astronomy installation, which served as the Southern Hemisphere communications relay. That rather banal factoid is the basis for the charming and surprisingly powerful comedy-drama, The Dish.

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