January 2004

Another sitcom to be ruined

Actor Carell set for US Office

US actor Steve Carell is set to star as Ricky Gervais character in the American version of The Office.

Admittedly, I know nothing about Steve Carell, but given the frankly dire results that tend to come from American attempts to remake British comedies, I dont see anything good coming out of an American version of The Office.

The Empire Awards

Empire Magazine have announced their nominations for the 2004 Empire Awards which take place on Wednesday 4th February. The nominations are listed below, with my guesses for the eventual winners underlined.

Best Newcomer
Martine McCutcheon (Love, Actually)
Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Fenella Woolgar (Bright Young Things)
Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually)
Eli Roth (Cabin Fever)

Sony Ericsson Scene of the Year
Ride of the Rohirrim (Return of the King)
House of the Blue Leaves (Kill Bill)
Opening Battle (Master and Commander)
The flag speech (Gangs of New York)
The rum scene (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Best British Actress
Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Emma Thompson (Love Actually)
Julie Walters (Calendar Girls)
Helen Mirren (Calendar Girls)
Emily Mortimer (Young Adam)

Best British Actor
Jude Law (Cold Mountain)
Andy Serkis (Return of the King)
Sir Ian Mckellen (Return of the King)
Orlando Bloom (Return of the King)
Ewan McGregor (Young Adam)

Best British Film
Love, Actually
Calendar Girls
Johnny English
Young Adam
Bright Young Things

Best Actress
Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)
Nicole Kidman (Cold Mountain)
Julianne Moore (Heaven)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary)
Cate Blanchett (Veronica Guerin)

Best Actor
Johnny Depp (Pirates)
Viggo Mortensen (Return of the King)
Hugh Jackman (X2)
Sean Astin (Return of the King)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York)

Best Director
Peter Jackson (Return of the King)
Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill)
Coens (Intolerable Cruelty)
Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain)
Peter Weir (Master and Commander)

Best Film
Return of the King
Kill Bill
Pirates of the Caribbean
Cold Mountain
X2

IT Blogs

On my various surfings, I stumbled across the Corante blogs. They cover a range of IT and IT related subjects and I have a few of them - namely Get Real, Loose Democracy and Open Mind - to my blogroll.

Praying for Porn

Rabbi Offers Prayer for Web Porn Browser

An Israeli rabbi has composed a prayer to help devout Jews overcome guilt after visiting porn web sites while browsing the Internet.

Thats handy.

The rabbi recommends that Jews recite the prayer when they log on to the Internet or even program it to flash up on their computer screens so they are spiritually covered whether they enter a porn site intentionally or by mistake.

Maybe Im reading this wrongly, but it seems to be saying that wanking is fine as long as you pray about it beforehand - or even better, get your computer to do the praying for you.

The Razzies: Gigli sweeps the board!

The 24th Razzie nominations have been announced and, not surprisingly Gigli leads the pack with no less than 9 nominations.

Im not going to try and pick winners this time since the only nominated film I saw was Charlies Angels: Full Throttle which I have to admit that I quite enjoyed.

At last: An Excuse

Oversleeping can improve brain power

People who regularly oversleep now have a perfect excuse for being late for work, scientists have found.

A study found that sleep appears to boost creativity. The discovery helps explain why sleeping on it often helps us solve unfathomable problems.

So next time I turn up to work half an hour after everyone else, Im not being a lazy bastard - Im thinking outside the box :D

For those old enough to know who Joan Crawford is

Her long lost daughter has been found.

Oscar!

I have to admit that I never actually watch the Oscar ceremony. Watching a bunch of luvvies congratulating each other over which distribution company had the best marketing campaign really doesnt strike me as an entertaining way to spend an evening.

That said, the Oscars do translate pretty much directly into increased sales for the winning films so someone must be taking an interest.

So here is the list of nominations with my guess for the eventual winner in each category underlined.

Best picture
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost in Translation
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Mystic River
Seabiscuit

Best leading actor
Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog
Jude Law in Cold Mountain
Bill Murray in Lost in Translation
Sean Penn in Mystic River

Best supporting actor
Alec Baldwin in The Cooler
Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams
Djimon Hounsou in In America
Tim Robbins in Mystic River
Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai

Best leading actress
Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider
Diane Keaton in Somethings Gotta Give
Samantha Morton in In America
Charlize Theron in Monster
Naomi Watts in 21 Grams

Best supporting actress
Shohreh Aghdashloo in House of Sand and Fog
Patricia Clarkson in Pieces of April
Marcia Gay Harden in Mystic River
Holly Hunter, right, in Thirteen
Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain

Best director
Fernando Meirelles, City of God
Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation
Peter Weir, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Clint Eastwood, Mystic River

Best adapted screenplay
American Splendor, Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman
City of God, Braulio Mantovani
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson
Mystic River, Brian Helgeland
Seabiscuit, Gary Ross

Best original screenplay
The Barbarian Invasions, Denys Arcand
Dirty Pretty Things, Steven Knight
Finding Nemo, Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds
In America, Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan and Kirsten Sheridan
Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola

Best animated feature
Brother Bear
Finding Nemo
The Triplets of Belleville

Best visual effects
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Its probably not much of a prediction to say that Return of the King will win in every category in which its nominated, but I am surprised to see no nods going to any of the actors - Sean Astin especially. I can only assume that this is because the Academy is concerned that if theyre not careful, Return of the King would win every category there is.

Quote of the Day: One law for all

How can we expect to eliminate torture elsewhere if there is no sure way of knowing whether or not it has been practised at Guantanamo Bay by the Americans?
- Lord Hope of Craighead

Seeing the wood for the trees


France sidesteps human rights concerns and forges strategic alliance with China

I was going to follow my usual approach and quote relevant parts of the above story, but there is so much in there that is relevant Id have ended up quoting it pretty much in its entirety. So instead, a summary:

During Chinese President, Hu Jintaos state visit to France, president Chirac has behaved in much the same way as an over-enthusiastic puppy behaves towards a tolerant owner. In order to appear cute to his new best friend, Chirac has sided with China over Taiwan and called for the ending of the EU embargo on arms sales to China - which was imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Of course, Chiracs dewy eyed appreciation of overseas dictators is far from universal

The warmth of the welcome given to Mr Hu, and the invitation to address the national assembly, have also disturbed some French politicians of both right and left. Two dozen deputies boycotted Mr Hus speech last night on the grounds that only democratic politicians should address parliament.

Several of them joined in a demonstration outside the national assembly for human rights and independence for Tibet.

And then we get to the root of Odie Chiracs sudden love of all things Chinese.

M. Chiracs mostly uncritical welcome for the new Chinese president also fits with his often declared opinion that the 21st century should be a multi-polar world in which France - and Europe - should not be subservient to a unipolar American world view.

China, as a permanent member of the UN security council, holds one of the keys to Frances hopes - despite the destructive confrontations over the Iraqi war - of restoring the influence of the United Nations.

While an overly dominant and badly behaved US is by no means a good thing, I am far from convinced that cosying up to a large and powerful dictatorship is any sort of improvement.

In fact, this article in European Voice suggests that the Bush administration is already moderating its behaviour - if not its language - in which case Chirac will soon find himself fighting a battle that no longer exists.

But back to the Jacques and Jintaos love-in

At the press conference yesterday, M. Chirac gave a diplomatic gift to Mr Hu by criticising plans by the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on increasing the islands defences against a possible invasion from the Chinese mainland.

In return, President Hu gave very little.

President Hu went on to say

Our differences are not over questions of democracy, religion or human rights.

And if Chirac agrees with that then he really has lost the plot.

On a related note
China tightens web control

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of people detained or sentenced for internet-related offences in China, according to the London-based rights group Amnesty International.

There are now at least 54 people who have been imprisoned for emailing, setting up websites or exchanging pro-democracy messages online - a 60% increase from a year ago - the group said in its latest report on the repression of internet users by the Chinese authorities.

In addition, an unknown number of people remained in detention for disseminating information over the internet about the spread of the Sars virus.

Many of the individuals cited in the report have been denied due process of law and some have been tortured or ill-treated in custody, says Amnesty.

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