The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

I’ll warn you now, I’ve given up trying not to put spoilers in these posts, so I’m just going to give my thoughts as they spill out of my brain through my fingers.

I had high hopes for this film as I had enjoyed the books and the animated series as a child. The advert looked tempting enough on TV so I thought I’d give it a go.

I’m really not sure what I was expecting but Tintin’s voice was the first disappointment for me. He just sounded like he hadn’t gone through puberty yet. Not really befitting someone who is an international journalist who carries a gun, to my mind.

Certain scenes dragged on far too long. The animated series from my childhood managed to fit get the balance just right: not dwelling on any one section too long while still giving enough to each to actually give the full story. The sea sequences in the film bordered on tedious for me. Maybe they won’t for other people but they can write their own review…

Then, the end was left wide open for a sequel. Now I realise this is commonplace now, but surely they should at least try and make the film a complete story? It does my head in.

To sum it up, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. Too violent for kids. Too tedious and half-hearted for anyone else.

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Attack The Block

I’m not sure what first attracted me to this film but I’d written it down in my phone as something I wanted to watch. The basic premise seems to be chavs versus aliens. I didn’t think it could go wrong really!

This was written and directed by Joe Cornish of Adam & Joe fame, which probably explains why the script amused me so much. The Adam and Joe Show didn’t really tickle me that much at the time, but either Cornish’s humour has matured or he’s taken to writing better than performing!

The film revolves around a gang of teenagers in London who start the film by mugging someone. Now the language really annoyed me at first as I just can’t get on with ‘gangsta speak’, but I soon managed to get past it and got absorbed into the story.

The first alien was pretty weedy, but subsequent ones were pretty mental. They were worthy opponents for the gang and I liked the picture I built up in my head around various characteristics they had. If you watch it, see if you think the same thing I did about their ‘roar’.

There were a few other side characters with their own little plots going on, like the middle-class white boy weed smoker and the local top boy who inevitably ends up with some kind of score to settle.

IMDB gives this an overall score of 6.8 which I personally think is a little low, but I’m no mega film buff just someone who likes watching good stuff. It wasn’t particularly challenging to watch but was great fun for a Friday night in. I loved it, so I’d recommend you give it a go!

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H. Upmann Magnum 48 Limited Edition 2009

Smoked 1 March 2012. In humidor since 5 March 2010; box code unknown but obviously 2009 vintage.

Every single one of these I’ve smoked so far has been disappointing and irritatingly, this was no exception. Whilst there were some flavours noticeable, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience.

Considering I’ve had this in my humidor for nigh on two years now, I was expecting them to have settled slightly. When something heavyweight like a Bolivar Royal Corona becomes tolerable (some may say beautiful!) to smoke pretty quickly, I kind of wonder why these are so impenetrable to my tastebuds.

Perhaps they need some serious aging as the flavours are so light? Dunno…

Anyway, there were what I would describe as pretty typical H. Upmann cream and coffee flavours present, but soon after lighting it became incredibly peppery. I got about halfway through and decided to give up. As I thought it might be rude to chuck it into my host’s back garden right in front of his face, I left it in the ashtray to dispose of later. As it was, when I left I picked it up and took it with me and decided to relight it in the car on the way home. Despite common advice never to relight a cigar that has been out for over an hour, I did. It was still just as unpleasant…

Now you may be able to gather that I don’t get as much chance to smoke cigars as I used to, solely from the frequency of my posting on here. So it really annoys me when my opportunities are wasted with crap like this. It will be at least a year before I try one of these again!

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I saw a trailer for this 2010 film recently and the all-star cast (Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman), and ludicrous sense of humour really appealed to me. RED is an acronym for ‘Retired: Extremely Dangerous’.

One clip in particular really tickled my fancy, and it’s when Bruce Willis skids around a corner and simultaneously gets out of the car whilst firing a gun at somebody chasing him. Absolutely ridiculous, but it knows it. The other characters are highly amusing, particularly John Malkovich’s paranoid survivalist. This film is firmly tongue-in-cheek but the high calibre acting really pulls it off.

I’m not sure whether this was originally a comic or graphic novel, but it certainly has that feel about it. It doesn’t require much attention and is far less cerebral than the usual kind of thing I like to watch, but when you’re in the mood to just sit back and be entertained, it certainly fits the bill.

Thumbs up from me for this one. I’d certainly watch it again!

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On Friday I went out for dinner and snails were on the menu. Now I’ve heard about ‘escargot’ on French menus but never seen Lamache All’aglio (snails in garlic butter) on an Italian menu before.

I had all kinds of preconceptions about what to expect from the experience of eating snails and pretty much none of them were positive. Having been wrong about this kind of thing in the past, I thought I’d give them a go.

The reality was so far from what I imagined that I was astounded! I was assuming they were going to be slimey or sludgey inside and not particularly tasty. I received six on a plate with some sprung tongs and a tiny fork, and they were still in their shell with some garlic and herb butter plugging the end. Now I love garlic but do have an issue with the texture of certain foods which was my main fear about the snails.

Enough rambling though. They were excellent, and I wouldn’t hesitate to have them again if I saw them on the menu. They were similar in texture to seafood, but obviously without the fishy hint. Meaty, but not fibrous like steak or pork. I think the nearest meat they reminded me of were scallops.

I’d definitely recommend giving them ago if you see them available as they don’t deserve the stigma that seems to surround them.

Looking further into this, as I quite fancy cooking some myself, the ones I ate were probably Helix pomatia. Bizarrely, these appear to be a protected species in England but conveniently for me, not in Wales. I can only assume French restaurants in England do not serve this species. The common garden snail Helix aspersa also appears to be edible, so I may well be giving them a go too. Looking around the web, information varies on which is the most popular or tasty, so in the name of science I’m going to give both a go. I think they hibernate in the winter so it won’t be just yet.

From what I can gather you just need to starve them for a few days, or feed them something safe for humans (carrot has been suggested) to flush through any potential toxins. I’ve looked at quite a few sources about eating snails and they seem to vary on the preparation techniques, so I assume I probably won’t go too wrong with whichever method I choose. Check back for news on how it went!

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Where The Wild Things Are

I’d wanted to watch this film for a while as one of the characters (‘Carol’) looks like a cat I know. Strange name for a male character to my mind, but he’s the one on the left of the poster shown on the Wikipedia entry. Being adapted from a children’s book, I thought it was going to be a light-hearted story, but I got quite emotional by the end of it.

Possible spoilers follow…

The film centres around Max who seems to be quite the angry little chap. It appeared to me that his older sister annoys him and his father isn’t around. His mother seems to have a new boyfriend that Max seems envious of, so he tries to throw his weight around to get her attention. This ends up with a bit of a scene where he runs off and ends up sailing to a magical world where these monsters live. They intend to eat him but he manages to persuade them he’s a king, so he becomes their king.

Without spoiling too much more of the story, one of the monsters appears to be upset about one of the other monsters leaving and takes it out on everyone and everything else around him. The others have to pussyfoot around him and this obviously doesn’t fix anything. It seems to be a metaphor for Max’s life i.e. someone he loves leaves him and that he can’t control this upsets him, so he has his tantrums. It did leave me wondering if this was how the original book was, or if this is an interpretation that turns it into a fable to help children understand complicated adult issues like divorce.

It was an odd film. I don’t know whether it’s because I was expecting Carol to be spelt Karel, but it had an Eastern European or Scandinavian feel about it. The music seemed to reinforce this in my head.

I thought this was a bit heavy for a children’s film, and I must admit I was quite upset by it. Not really sure why though…

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Luther S01E01

Now that the second series of Sherlock (if you could call three episodes that!) has finished on BBC, I’ve been missing something ‘clever’ to get my brain into. While I enjoy programs like CSI and Dexter they don’t really get my mind going in the way I want it to.

I caught the last episode of series two of Luther when it was on TV and really enjoyed it but never got round to investigating the program further. Last night, I did so! I’ll try not to give any spoilers away in case you haven’t seen it.

It opened with a little insight into the eponymous hero’s mindset, perhaps explaining his idiosyncratic behaviour and hinting at his analytical skills before moving to the present day. We move to a murder scene where Luther feels “something isn’t right” and while this isn’t expanded upon immediately, we soon get the nod that he’s correct.

Now this isn’t just an ordinary detective series and you’ll see why once Luther starts interacting with his prime suspect. It’s very much a psychological battle of wits, similar to the relationship between Sherlock and Moriarty. I found myself trying to beat them at analysing each other’s behaviour and this was pretty stimulating. It took me an hour or two for my brain to turn off after watching this first episode, so I think I’ve found a temporary replacement for Sherlock…

The show doesn’t just revolve around Luther’s work, mainly because his obsession with his job floods into his personal life. We see him with his wife and while marital turbulence is a common theme in TV detective shows, this doesn’t feel like it’s been done lazily.

I’m really looking forward to watching the next episode, and may well talk to you about it here!

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Overdue update!

Unfortunately, I’ve not had much chance to smoke cigars recently due to simply not having the opportunity. I’ve also been massively lazy about updating this blog…

Here’s what I’ve smoked since I last posted.

25 October 2011: Ramon Allones Specially Selected (TEB ENE 08; in humidor since 16 March 2009) and a Bolivar Royal Corona (TEB MAY 08; in humidor since 29 May 2009)

18 December 2011: Bolivar Royal Corona (TEB MAY 08; in humidor since 29 May 2009)

29 Dec 2011: Romeo y Julieta Cazadores (JUL 06; in humidor since 27 February 2010)

I enjoyed them all!

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Por Larranaga Petit Corona | Cuaba Divino

Por Larranaga Petit Corona smoked 17 September 2011. Box code EMA OCT 07; in humidor since 28 November 2009. I’d previously taken this out and punched it, given it a test draw and decided it was too tight to smoke so put it back in the humidor. Not really sure when I’d done that but by now it had softened enough so the draw was spot on. PLPC are a reasonably cheap cigar so they are never going to win any contests for looks, but the construction was pretty good on this one. This was a strange mix of flavours; normally these go one of two ways. Milky bar, or bitter almond. This actually appeared to be right in the middle, which either means the bitter almond ones (which I’m not so keen on) are just in the sick period and I’ve been wasting them (!), or there are two distinct kinds of PLPC. I’ve read it suggested that nobody thought there was any caramel aspect until Min Ron Nee did. I don’t know, but I’ve certainly experienced two flavour profiles.

Cuaba Divino smoked 18 September 2011. Box code unknown as it was bought as a single; in humidor since 28 November 2009. I’ve not had much luck with these in the past, always finding them to be a bit rough and not to my taste. The figurado construction has been mentioned as occasionally causing draw problems but there was no issue here. The wrapper on one side needed a little touch-up; I had let it burn for quite some time in the hope it would correct itself but no such luck. Didn’t really enjoy this so ended up tossing it early as it didn’t improve. I don’t think it was too young seeing how long I’d had it for. I should try some other Cuabas though as these are the only ones I’ve tried.

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Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 2

Smoked 26th August 2011. Box code GAS JUN 08; in humidor since 6 October 2009.

Smoked this on a rather surreal last-minute late night trip to Wantage. Pretty enjoyable smoke but nothing outstanding, perhaps due to the KFC I ate beforehand…

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