Centurion

This is the second film about the Roman Ninth Legion I’ve watched in the last few days.

Starring Michael Fassbender as centurion Quintas Dias in the title role, Fassbender leads a stellar cast of actors in a fine example of how to make a film thoroughly believable.

Among the cast are Dominic West as General Titus Flavius Virilus, commander of the Ninth Legion, Paul Freeman as governor Julius Agriccola, Noel Clarke, who co-starred in Dr Who and, David Morrissey.

Quintas and his men are hard living, hard fighting Roman soldiers, being pursued relentlessly by Etaine, a mute female Pict tracker played by Olga Kurylenko, charged with hunting them all down and destroying them on the orders of the Pictish king Gorlacon, played by Ulrich Thomsen, for the murder of his son when Quintas and the few survivors of the destruction of the Ninth Legion, try to rescue their general from the Pict’s clutches.

The film is not only believable, but it was also shot in the highlands of Scotland adding to the film’s realistic atmosphere.

A few days ago I watched an American made film called “The Eagle”, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell, concerning the story of  the Roman Ninth Legion, and what happened to it when they ventured into the lands of the Picts.

Quite simply, “The Eagle” pales into insignificance in terms of acting excellence, believability, and downright pure cinematic quality when comparing it to “Centurion”.

Centurion gets six out of five stars from me.   

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Are we simply trying to reinvent the wheel here, when it comes to the space programme?

With the end of the NASA shuttle programme, sadly we have seen the end of any serious manned space flights for many a year to come. In the meantime, private companies are being encouraged to plug the gap, while NASA’s astronauts are reduced to using Russian 1960’s technology to carry out crew changes and maintenance on the ISS.

But is the proposed plan for the private concerns involved, to send unmanned vehicles back to the moon, simply a case of reinventing the wheel?

For information on the subject see the article “Race to Moon by Private Companies” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/22/science/space/22moon.html?_r=2&hpw

Unless or until a reliable shuttle styled ship is built, capable of carrying cargo, what is the point in sending unmanned small vehicles, heavily reliant on Saturn Five sized rockets, back to the moon.

Thanks to the manned flights in the 1960’s we already know a lot about the moon’s surface. What we now need is a concerted effort to build man’s first permanent colony there with the emphasis on using it as a manufacturing base for the construction of deep space exploration craft, capable of taking pioneering crews to other worlds.

Wasting vast amounts of money on projects like the proposed NASA mission to land astronauts on an asteroid within the next fifteen years – read the article “Daunting Space Task” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43866501/ns/technology_and_science-space/ –  or SETI’s vain hopes of suddenly receiving a transmission from another race, is quite frankly a pointless exercise.

Isn’t it a far better idea that all those involved pool the vast amount of money needed and their collective genius, to building that ship yard on the moon?

I think the time is now long overdue for a common purpose and common sense to prevail. For millennia man has looked up at the stars and dreamed of what is out there. Wasting vast amounts of money and effort to redo the same lunar experiment is not only criminal, but it is an unforgivable waste of time and talent.

The Eagle

The Eagle stars Channing Tatum as Marcus Aquila, a Roman centurion, with Jamie Bell co-starring as his British slave Eska, the son of a slain Brigantes chieftain.
Set a few years after the building of Hadrian’s Wall and the subjugation of all the British tribes south of it, Marcus sets out with Eska to regain his father’s honour by retrieving the Eagle of the Ninth Legion, lost after the legion travelled beyond Hadrian’s Wall into the wilds of Caledonia, home to the cannibalistic tribe of the Seal People (loosely based on the traditional description of the Picts, with their Mohawk hairstyles and full body tattoos) who had destroyed the Ninth Legion and taken their Eagle as a trophy.
I loved the way the story of friendship unfolded between master and slave, both relying on the other to stay alive, eventually forming a bond closer than family.
While the News of the World awarded this film four stars, I have no hesitation in awarding it five.
My only minor grizzle, which once I got into the story, I totally forgave, was hearing Roman soldiers speaking with American accents.

I’m going cross-eyed cleaning out my computer

Why oh why in this day and age can’t someone devise a software programme to constantly run in the background, cleaning out all those annoying little bits of unwanted stuff none of us actually want? Why can’t the nerds/geniuses who write computer programmes fix this for all of us? 
At least once a month my laptop starts dragging its heels, slowing down, clogged up with all manner of the computer equivalent of dust and cobwebs. And so I have to click on the ‘Tool’s button’ and drop down to where I find the ‘clearing tool’.
It contains the following headings:
Browsing and Download History
Form and Search History
Cookies
Cache
Site Preferences
And so I highlight the lot and away it goes emptying out all of those pesky bits of info. Once done, I then have to laboriously log myself back into each page I use on a daily basis – why, it seems so counter-productive to my way of thinking?
Browsing and Download History – why would I conceivably want to know that? I already know which sites I look at, I don’t need a whole lot of totally unnecessary entries clogging up the works.
The dreaded Cookie is the province of sad people who live in darkened rooms following every click of a key we all make for marketing purposes.
While I think about it, what use is a Cache except for storing the number of times you have opened up a particular online site? As for Form and Search History, or Site Preferences, do I give a damn – no!
I have enough to contend with operating my laptop every day without going cross-eyed cleaning it out and having to log myself back in afterwards thank you very much.

Who writes television programme listings?


I get increasingly annoyed these days when I’m perusing the programme listings for any given television channel, sifting through the dross for something worth watching, at the amount of completely inaccurate information on offer.
I’m sorry, but describing a grim war story, movie or play with the words ‘a hilarious account of’, or perhaps calling a programme with a serious social message to impart as ‘a light hearted look at’ just doesn’t wash.
Next comes the totally inexplicable way we are told that the programme in question stars X, Y or Z, who if the listing writers had bothered to do a modicum of research, would find that the actor they claim is the star was in fact nothing more than a bit player with a walk on part at the time when the programme, movie or play was made.  

The clue is in the year it was produced! 

The fact that X, Y or Z are major actors today, doesn’t mean they were when the film in question first appeared thirty, forty or fifty years ago! 

Then there is the other totally stupid mistake these brain dead numbskulls make, when they attribute the film or television play to the then director’s second assistant merely because he or she is now an award winner. They weren’t back then!
I don’t know the age of the people employed to write the brief number of words to describe a programme, but I suspect their average age is barely four, or at best six years old, which is probably also their IQ.
For goodness sake people, spend a little time getting your facts straight first. It’s not exactly rocket science after all!

Options, should you take them?

Have you ever thought how often taking the wrong option can ruin your life? My father did till his dying day.
In 1947 he had all but completed the long correspondence process by letter of obtaining what he saw as his dream job as the manager of a fruit farm in the highlands of Ethiopia, not far from Addis Ababa; typical of him when I think about it. 
My father wasn’t exactly the family type. He’d much rather go off on his own if he could. But he had married my mother during the Second World War, in a moment of weakness as he saw it, and both his and my mother’s family were determined that it was time he and mum started a family of their own.
Had my mother not been in the early stages of pregnancy with me, and my father had not taken the option to seek medical advice before setting off across the world to the job of his dreams, I would have been born in Ethiopia instead of here in England and he would have been deliriously happy.
Simply put, the doctor totally misled him when he said there was no reliable medical care in Ethiopia for pregnant young white women, or infants – completely untrue as it turned out.
So instead I was born here in England in March of the following year – 1948, and my father blamed mum and me till the day he died for losing him his opportunity to fulfil his dream, even though it was not our fault.
Ten years after I was born, he packed us up and we shifted to the far side of the world to New Zealand. He saw the move as an excuse to get away from what he saw as the constant interference of my two wonderful grandmothers over his personal fiefdom. In his eyes, he was the man of the house and what he said went. Mum was his skivvy and I was her brat.
Mum and I never forgave him for that. Is it any wonder I couldn’t stand the man because of the way he was? While his genes live on inside of me, fortunately I take after my warm loving mother, not my selfish cold authoritarian father.