Tag Archives: James Corden

Starter for Ten

Starter-For-Ten-1-D25UKS4LJM-1024x768This movie was recommended to me months ago, and I just got around to seeing it.  I could not believe the amount of recognizable British actors that are in this one movie.  James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Alice Eve, Mark Gatiss, James Corden, Dominic Cooper, Catherine Tate, Guy Henry, the list goes on.  Well, no, that’s about it, but it’s a pretty long list!

The movie is about James McAvoy, a working-class Essex boy obsessed with gaining knowledge, knowing the answers.  I can relate to that. Not the Essex boy part, the knowledge part.  He is accepted to university at Bristol to ‘read’ English literature.

He is leaving behind his 2 non-intellectual friends, played by James Corden and Dominic Cooper.

dominic cooperCooper is doing his best impression of Ralph Macchio in this movie. Or, if Ralph Macchio was a T bird:

Brian (McAvoy) has barely arrived in Bristol before he spots a poster for tryouts for the ‘University Challenge’ team. I think I remember watching a few episodes of University Challenge when I was in London.  I didn’t have a TV, so I was limited to whatever the BBC iplayer was willing to show me.  QI and University Challenge are about the only British TV I managed to see while I lived there.  Ironic.  But I digress…

If you don’t know University Challenge, it’s exactly what you would expect. Teams from a specific college go and compete in a sort of academic decathlon. Apparently it used to be hosted by someone named Bamber Gascoigne.  If that’s not a name from Middle Earth, I don’t know what is. Anyway, this movie takes place in the ’80s, when Bamber was the host. Mark Gatiss, almost unrecognizable, plays Bamber.

Brian immediately wants to audition for the team. He used to watch the show with his (now deceased) dad, who always encouraged his thirst for knowledge.

But Brian wanders off his course really quickly.  As soon as he sees Alice (played by Alice Eve) at the audition, he is smitten to the point of being pathetic.  He helps her cheat, and then she ends up on the team instead of him, because of the 2 answers he gives her.  Why are men so dumb? Luckily, the Pete Best of the team ends up injured or sick or something, and is never seen again. Brian, as first reserve, is now on the team:

starterforten1

The leader of the team is Patrick Watts (Cumberbatch) and oh my god he is annoying and so unattractive. It doesn’t help that it’s the ’80s and all the men have hideous outfits (except Dominic Cooper, because he looks like he’s in the ’50s).  No one looks good in high-waisted acid wash jordache jeans, okay? It was just a terrible time to be a human being. He wears awful sweaters and awful pants, and slicks his hair off to the side and it’s just all bad.  Worse, he’s got a really intolerable personality!

Brian falls for Alice pretty quickly, but he also meets Rebecca, played by Rebecca Hall–why do all the women in this movie have characters with the same first name? Anyway, Rebecca Hall is clearly doing her best Molly Ringwald impression.

imagesAnd she does look and act a lot like Molly Ringwald…or maybe I am just associating the two because it takes place in the ’80s, but I think if Andie Walsh had gone off to university, she probably would have been protesting nuclear power or nuclear weapons or sexual harassment, etc., etc.  That’s what Rebecca Hall’s character does.  Brian makes a joke that ‘the lady doth protest too much’.  It’s funny if you’re very familiar with Hamlet…

The movie is a bit predictable, and I did find myself relating all of it to a John Hughes movie.  By the way, if anyone reading this is not familiar with the John Hughes oeuvre, go, now.  Watch at least The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Uncle Buck, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. You’re an incomplete human person if you don’t know these movies.  Go on, get out.

Starter for 10 falls into that predictable trope of someone falls in love with the wrong person, and finally realizes at the very end that they really belong with the person that was next to them the whole time.  A bit tired, and, quite frankly, not done quite as well as John Hughes could do it.

But it was still an interesting movie, and an excellent place to spot people who are much more famous now than when they made this movie.  So I enjoyed watching it, even if it was a bit overly-simplified. If you’re not sold, you should look at this picture:

starterforten2

So many questions must be occurring to you…  Is that really Mark Gatiss???  Why has Benedict Cumberbatch been punched in the face? Did James McAvoy have a nosebleed? No, but seriously, what is up with Mark Gatiss and that wig? For all these answers, and more, just watch the movie.

Still not sold?? The movie features an amazing selection of ’80s music, including Kate Bush, the Cure, the Psychedelic Furs, Buzzcocks, Motörhead, The Smiths, Tears for Fears…come on.  What more do you need than early Morrissey?!

TV review: Gavin and Stacey

I don’t think I would have ever gotten around to watching this show if it weren’t for this blog post.  Netflix kept suggesting it to me, because Netflix knows all about my love of British TV, but the cover of the DVDs

makes it look a lot like a weird version of Friends, and I was flashing back to that horrible American version of Coupling for some reason. I just wasn’t into it.

I’m so glad I gave it a try though, because I really enjoyed the entire series.  There are three seasons and a Christmas special, though strangely the special comes before the third season.

The story is about the eponymous Gavin and Stacey, initially, but it expands to include the lives of their entire extended families and close friends, particularly Gavin’s bff Smithy and Stacey’s bff Nessa.  Gavin and Stacey meet online and start to fall in love, and the show begins with them finally meeting in person.  Gavin brings Smithy and Stacey brings Nessa. The four of them get very drunk and the two couples sort of go their separate ways and hook up.  Smithy and Nessa are played by James Corden and Ruth Jones, who created the series.  Gavin is played by the adorable Matthew Horne (who has been in a lot of stuff I’ve never seen), and Stacey is played by Joanna Page, who was Judy (the naked girl with Martin Freeman) in Love Actually.

Things with Gavin and Stacey progress quickly, and they are engaged in a few episodes’ time. Nessa and Smithy have an off-again on-again thing for the rest of the series. We meet Gavin’s family, his mom Pamela and his dad Mick. These two are awesome, especially Mick.  We also meet Stacey’s family, her mom Gwen (who cooks omelets in every episode) and her uncle Bryn (played by the adorable Rob Brydon, who I now love despite finding him annoying in The Trip), who spends the rest of the series making you wonder about his sexuality.

I think if I met a lot of these characters in real life, or if they were presented differently on the show, I wouldn’t like them very much.  Almost all of them smoke (which I hate) and they litter their cigarette butts (which I hate even more). Smithy parks in handicap spots and Nessa is incredibly selfish. Pamela is vapid and occasionally horribly racist.  Or xenophobic, I guess.  Bryn is…hopelessly out of touch.

But the way the show presents them, and the way they interact with each other is so lovely and makes you care and appreciate and enjoy each one of the characters and their relationships.  I really enjoyed this show and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling a lot of the time. It was also very funny. There were tons of weird colloquial slang words that I have already started to use, and the Welsh accents are fun.

Favorite moments include Gavin’s bachelor party (with annoying appearances by Russell Tovey), Bryn explaining how to use the internet to Gavin, and Pam pretending to be a vegetarian for most of the show.

Unfortunately this show isn’t on Netflix instant, so I can’t re-watch like I did with The IT Crowd. I may have to buy the DVDs for this one.  I highly recommend this show, and plan on watching anything else James Corden or Ruth Jones (Smithy and Nessa) work on in the future.