Robert Pimm

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Why sequels suck

I am watching the sequel to a movie I adored three years ago.  The sequel is so piss-poor that I feel violated and upset.  How can a major studio spend squillions of dollars producing such trash?

Weeks later, it happens again.  Another sequel, another cringe-making dose of drivel.  Strangely, the two movies have much in common, including much of what makes them so unwatchable.

The movies are: Guardians of the Galaxy II  (2017) and The Lego Batman Movie (2017).

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: decent trailer, execrable movie

The Lego Batman Movie: ditto

Why do I feel so personally aggrieved?  First, because I wrote a preview of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on this site in which I said (more…)

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The Circle: spookily underrated 8/10

There is something weird about how films are rated.  Is it a conspiracy?  I’m beginning to wonder.

Readers of this blog will know that I decry conspiracy theories.  But I recently saw two films (movies) I thought were dire and one I enjoyed.  The first two were Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (Rotten Tomatoes rating 82%, certified fresh) and The Lego Batman Movie (Rotten Tomatoes rating 91%, certified fresh).  The one I enjoyed was The Circle (Rotten Tomatoes rating 17%, rotten).

In the likely event that you haven’t heard much about the movie, the plot revolves around likeable young ingenue Mae (Emily Watson) who joins “The Circle”, a fusion of Apple, Google and Facebook (more…)

Best Vienna cafes – new reviews

I’ve added new reviews to my popular Vienna cafes: which are best? blog.  The fifteen cafes reviewed are mostly in the town centre, but include several in the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th Districts.  The latest additions are the little-known Cafe Morgenstern (charming and super grunge) and the popular Cafe Museum (much restored since the 1980s).  Take a look.

If you have a favourite cafe you’d like me to review, let me know in the comments.  I’m highly suggestible

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The shabby but charming decor of the Cafe Morgenstern, complete with star – RP

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P.P.S. see my piece When dinner becomes the last supper for a tongue-in-cheek guide to “why German waiters are the best”.

Central European melancholy 10/10

In the course of a recent quiet weekend, I dipped into the soul of central European melancholy.

I watched 210 minutes of a 1964 black and white TV adaptation of Radetzky March, a novel by Joseph Roth.  Later I listened to Schubert’s Winterreise (Winter’s Journey).  Spoiler alert: this blog mentions key plot points of both.

Radetzky March is about the decline and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, illustrated through three generations of the Trotta family.  The eldest Trotta, a humble infantry lieutenant of Slovenian origin, saves the life of Emperor Franz Josef at the battle of Solferino in 1859 (more…)

Jumping Jack Flash 8/10

‘Is it cold in here?  I’m a bit cold.’

Mick Jagger, in a skin-tight stage suit displaying his gaunt chest and an ornate cross around his neck, is drenched in sweat.  You can’t hear the crowd respond.  Are they delirious, or puzzled?

“Ladies & Gentlemen” on a 300-square-metre open air screen in Vienna

Until now I’d never heard of the Rolling Stones’ 1974 concert movie Ladies & Gentlemen.  Drawing on performances from four 1972 concerts in Texas, it was released in quadrophonic sound (remember that?)… then disappeared.

Most concert movies are boring.  This one – not so much.   (more…)

How to increase your attention span

A man is writing a novel.  He decides to check a fact.  He consults his computer, or his phone, to find he has six new messages from friends.  An extraordinary news story has come out.  Some thrilling sport is available, live, on-line.

You know the rest.  By the time our writer friend returns to his novel, 45 minutes have passed, and he has forgotten what he originally set out to research.

Our apparent inability to focus on anything for an extended period of time is one of the problems of the 21st century.  It risks hampering our creativity and channelling our energy into bitty activities which leave us unsatisfied or unhappy.  What can we do?

Two things.

First, we can learn from the masters of concentration.  One of these is the novelist Anthony Trollope, about whose awesome qualities I have written before, including this: “Trollope’s work is a reminder that sometimes, life in the slow lane can be better than the alternative. There’s no way to rush-read Trollope.  His novels are best savoured: read in chunks, rather than a few pages at a time.”

(more…)

Transience and Fat Lama

The novel Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny, opens with the following lines:

His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha– and the –atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god.

I was thinking of Lord of Light the other day, and the new start-up Fat Lama, when planning to walk the last 100 miles of the Pennine Way.

I do not have pictures yet of the Pennine Way. This is the Lake District in 2007

I was due to walk the Pennine Way with my brother, with whom I walked the Dales Way in 2003 and who has done all the hard planning, including scoping the route, booking accommodation and so on (and has walked the first 168 miles of the Pennine Way, on his own).  But for various reasons he now cannot go – disaster.  Fortunately, my daughter (more…)

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