Monthly Archives: April 2013

Road to Malmö: Amandine Bourgeois – “L’enfer et moi” (France)

As we approach the end of the daily reviews of this year’s Eurovision entries, it’s time to look at the last of the “Big Five” countries, the biggest contributors to the EBU budget entitled to free qualification to the final.

France Eurovision FlagFrance are a founding nation of Eurovision, participating in the original 1956 contest. Its role in Eurovision’s genesis is apparent whenever the contests speak in both English and French. Of course the famous maximum “douze points” is a side-effect of the French influence on Eurovision tradition.

Absolved of the need to qualify for the final, France are probably the biggest risk-takers of the Big Five, or the nation of that group who most embrace the spirit of the contest. As a result, you never know what direction they will take. Even in the last five years there have been renowned divas, football arena anthems, Corsican opera, and marvellous Indonesian pop. Continue reading

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Film: “Iron Man 3” (2013)

Well, I wasn’t expecting that! Low expectations provide another win for my cinema viewing, as the first of the “Phase 2” Avengers films arrives. Though it didn’t really feel like that, with the story trying quite hard to distinguish itself from last year’s massive “Avengers Assemble“.

I’ve found it hard to warm to the Iron Man franchise. Sure, I can’t resist a totally overblown blockbuster, and few come more overblown than the Iron Man movies. But Robert Downey Jr’s swaggering playboy prick Tony Stark isn’t quite my template for a superhero, I prefer mine vulnerable or at the very least heroically good. Maybe that’s why I like “Iron Man 3”, as it puts Tony Stark in his most vulnerable position to date.

There were plenty of good unexpected twists in the story, which I won’t go over in this review (spoilers etc), but for the most part it wasn’t your usual template superhero movie. Continue reading

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Road to Malmö: Natália Kelly – “Shine” (Austria)

A little late on in the day, but let’s take a look at the first song to be performed in next month’s contest in Malmö. Austria are kicking off the first semi-final in a little over two weeks now (squee!), and are another of the old guard in Eurovision, debuting in the 2nd contest in 1957.

Austria eurovision heartSince then they have sent 45 entries, with a victory in 1966. Their history may be peppered with last-place finishes and a few extended absences, but in general Austria have paid their dues. Last year’s entry for Baku added another last place to their tally, with “Woki mit deim popo” ooh-oohing its way out of the contest in the semi-finals. Can they make it back into the top 10 for the first time in a decade? Continue reading

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Road to Malmö: Valentina Monetta – “Crisalide” (San Marino)

Oh I’ve been looking forward to this one! San Marino, along with Azerbaijan, is the youngest Eurovision nation, joining the contest in 2008. Scared off by coming dead last in the 2008 semi-finals, San Marino returned in 2011 with Italy, but again failed to qualify.

San Marino Eurovision HeartUndeterred, 2012 saw an eyecatching entry by flame-haired Valentina Monetta with a Ralph Siegel-penned song about Facebook. Or at least it was until the EBU pointed out their policy of not promoting products or businesses, at which point it was hurriedly re-written as the Social Network Song. It certainly got plenty of attention, and assured San Marino’s place in Eurovision legend.

Unfortunately it still didn’t qualify, even though 14th in a semi-final was San Marino’s best result to date. This year, in a bit of a shock twist, Valentina’s back to fly the Sammarinese flag in Malmö with another Ralph Siegel original. Only this time it’s AMAZING. Continue reading

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TV: Doctor Who – “Journey to the centre of the TARDIS”

After last week’s recovery with the pretty great “Hide”, there was a lot of pressure on this episode to keep up the quality, not least with a lore-heavy title like that. Even since the big-budget comeback, it seems the writers have been reluctant to explore the TARDIS too much, limiting movement mainly to the seasonally-changing console room.

doctor who journey 2True, the relationship between the TARDIS and The Doctor was explored in 2011’s “The Doctor’s Wife”, but I think of the TARDIS more as an iconic sci-fi machine than a character, so the premise of seeing a bit more of it was exciting.

They had a few money shots, such as: a full-frontal of the Eye of Harmony, a collapsing star that powers the TARDIS; a library filled with convenient plot exposition points; a budget Avatar magic tree that generates the TARDIS layout; that swimming pool they keep going on about, and a shitload of corridors (which we spend more time in than that the rest of the list combined). Continue reading

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