Things I Liked in 2022

It’s a new year but before leaving 2022 behind here’s some of my favourite’s from the last 12 months, one dominated by some cracking TV shows. So in no particular order…

The Rest is Politics A new for 2022 podcast from Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell has fast become my favourite pod. Good rapport between the odd couple and a variety of topics from around the political world and some cracking guests. Admittedly helped by the UK having increasingly bat shit crazy politicians.

Industry Stepped up a level in season 2 – great soundtrack, loads of backstabbing and a move into politics alongside the financial industry.

Everything Everywhere All At Once My favourite movie from last year. Clever, funny and far more inventive than any of the multiverse offerings from the big studio’s. Hope it gets the recognition it deserves at the award shows.

Glass Onion Only just out, but I really enjoyed the follow-up to Knives Out. Could be watched stand alone too.

Knotwords Zack Gage can do no wrong. Fill in a crossword puzzle without clues, only letters. Simple and another daily habit game.

We Own This City Can still hardly believe this was based on a true story. Another classic from David Simon – Jon Bernthal also owned every scene he was in.

The Responder I’m not a massive fan of Martin Freeman, but he was immense in this show based in Liverpool. Small cast but really delivered over a few episodes.

Bad Sisters Binged this in a couple of days and loved it. Sharon Horgan really can do no wrong and this is a great black comedy. Shout out to Claes Bang who was an excellent prick throughout.

Peacemaker A gem of a show, a bit like The Boys in that it’s adult superhero show…and it’s funny. The titles alone are worth a watch but my favourite parts were the banter between the various characters.

Derry Girls Stuck the landing – a superb comedy that finished on a high.

For All Mankind Still loving this – season three was pretty ambitious and they pulled it off. 

Prey Finally a good follow up to Predator. 

Apple Watch Ultra Thanks to my fat wrists, this doesn’t look huge on me. Love the flat and slightly larger screen, bigger battery life and the overall look of the watch. Do I do any of the extreme sports that Apple market the Ultra around? No. But it’s the best version of the Apple Watch so far and that’s good enough for me – and I like the orange pop.

Karen Pirie One of the better ITV drama’s of recent years – great story based on a Val McDermid book, but it was the performance of Lauren Lyle that kept me interested. Deserves a second series.

Black Adam Lots of people said this was a dud but I’m here to tell you…they were right. What a waste of time and money this was. I would say it was a waste of talent too, but there was little of that on screen apart from Pierce Brosnan – the rest were all very forgettable. 

The Boys Superhero satire at it’s best – a real refresher in amongst the Marvel shows.

Playdate hero shot 78c70891ea4f e1623180415168

Playdate It’s by no means perfect – the screen needs the ideal light to be playable, but what’s not to love about a small handheld device that’s yellow and has a crank. First season of games very hit and miss, but a couple have been nice to play through.

Severance I slept on this until last week – I’d dismissed it as some work place dystopian sci-fi but it’s so much more. Really asks “Who are you?” but the tension that builds throughout the series is so well done and the twists and characters threads that unfold are so good. Could have done with some more answers in the final episode but thats being picky.

This Is Going to Hurt Funny, raw, emotional – you’ll come for Ben Wishaw’s performance but it’s Ambika Mod as Shruti that will live long in the memory.

Plex Meta Manager I love Plex and have used it for years to manage my home media library. PMM takes it one step further, making your playlists far more dynamic. Great community behind it – it’s geeky and can be a bit tricky to setup but it makes my media library feel alive. Need to blog about this and my Plex setup someday.

Wordle Blew up in late 2021 but I’ve kept playing it through 2022 alongside some friends. It’s a nice start to the day, gets the brain engaged and what other games have so quickly spawned companion versions – Heardle, Framed, GuessTheGame. Ended the year with a 3.8 average.

IMG 0320

The Bear Set in a sandwich shop in Chicago, this is stressful but funny and a must-see. Great cast, you root for the characters, flaws and all. Cousin!

The Capture Second series was a real step up on the first – a good take on where deep fakes could take us.

Andor I put off watching this as it was a prequel to a prequel – do we need this? What an idiot – it was fantastic and by far the best Star Wars TV series so far. Darker and deeper than other Star Wars titles. A nice follow-up is this episode of Soundtracking where Edith Bowman talks to Andor show creator Tony Gilroy. 

Gear Steam Deck Valve

Steam Deck Pre-ordered when it was announced and sold it to a friend within days of getting it. When would I use it? What would I game on it? A few months later I bought his Steam Deck pre-order and never looked back. Great for the smaller indie titles on Steam alongside playing AAA’s wherever I am, but I also use Emudeck on it and have a library of classic games that only take a few seconds to launch. I love this handheld and while a higher res screen would have been nice, the compromise in battery life wouldn’t have been.

Top Gun Maverick Better than it deserved to be – watched it 3 or 4 times this year and enjoyed it all the more.

The Batman Gritty 70’s detective movie featuring Batman – what’s not to like?

The English Fresh take on a western, Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer are fantastic.

Slow Horses Another show I slept on and binged it over 48 hours. Great cast, good plot and there’s a second series already broadcast and a third filmed. 

Vampire Survivors I blasted this on the Steam Deck – saw a headline the other day that said the thing holding back the Steam Deck was the lack of exclusives. Clickbait headline, but everyone who has a Steam Deck should play Vampire Survivors. Simple (even basic) graphics , but its gameplay is so moreish that it’s hard to put down.

There’s Been An Awakening

Has there been a more anticipated movie than Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Maybe and that was called Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and we all know how well that went. I saw The Force Awakens last Thursday and I loved it! It was on it’s own a great film but it also ticked a lot of boxes for the Star Wars fans. I’ve got a couple of things that I want to say about it though…and that means there are spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the film yet.


As I’ve said already, the film for me worked really well. I was a bit concerned that there would be too much of the old characters and not enough of the new but that fear was blown away with the first 20-30 minutes. Focussing on Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren and not giving too much back story got the film off to a great start. John Boyega was excellent throughout but the star of the film was Daisy Ridley. She carried large parts of the film and was totally believable throughout in stark comparison with many of the actors used in the prequels. I also loved that she stood out as the Jedi hero of the film and the trailers hadn’t given everything away.

I’m guessing we’ll find out more about Rey’s heritage in the next films…but is it to obvious that she’s Luke daughter? Hopefully not another brother/sister with Kylo Ren. I said Rey was the star but I’m forgetting BB-8. What a great droid and it stole almost every scene it was in. So long R2 – it was good knowing you.

Something I didn’t like about The Force Awakens is that it really did stick to the Star Wars formula and you could argue this was a bit of a remake of the original Star Wars. Surely the big bad have learned by now that a death star isn’t the way to go as the rebels will fly a few ships towards it and bomb a known weakness. This was pretty lame as was the zero explanation as to how Poe escaped the crashed Tie Fighter and also the planning for the final attack which looks like it took 5 minutes to make up before everyone was sent off on their mission.

One last grumble…anyone else think that Snoke looked like Gollum?

Looking at positives again I thought the film brought back the spectacle that the prequels had lost. No sure if it was the mix of real sets and CGI but the film looked far more believable and brought back a sense of size and scale that the prequels never had. I also loved that Han Solo was killed…the setup meant it was a fairly obvious step to take but there were still audible nooooo’s in the cinema and not from the kids either.

Thankfully there was little of C-3PO and R2 and Carrie Fisher had little to do which I think is a blessing as the acting wasn’t the best.

So where does the Force Awakens stack up compared to the other Star Wars movies? For me the order is as follows:

V > VII > VI > IV > III > II > I

Role on episode VIII which is a couple of years away. In the meantime here are some great Force Awakens links to enjoy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens review – consider me conquered
George Lucas nearly wrote a perfect prequel trilogy. He just didn’t notice
24 Delightful Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cameos You Might Have Missed
This “Star Wars” Fan Theory About Kylo Ren Is Perfect
A Gallery of Jaw-Dropping Concept Art From Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Alfonso Cuaron Returns to the Bigscreen After Seven Years With ‘Gravity’

I watched Gravity tonight and loved it. Possibly the best movie I’ve watched this year and one of the best I’ve enjoyed on IMAX in 3D. The effects were stunning and as I watched I was wondering how they shot some of the film…which this Variety article explains. Do not read this if you haven’t watched the film!

What’s interesting is that Shak found the film dull – polar opposite to what I felt. I’ve found others say the same, and I wonder if it’s because there is not much actual story. I love space and everything to do with it so I got sucked into the film early on and it never let go but I can understand how people can find it quite an empty film apart from the visuals.

Still, I highly recommend you catch this at an IMAX to enjoy it at it’s best – it won’t have the same impact watching at home.

Geek Fear

The big reveal at Comic-Con this weekend (apart from Avengers news) was that not only will there be a sequel to Man of Steel (no real surprise) but that it will feature Batman. When I first saw the early rumour I thought it would be a small part to set-up a Justice League movie but then I read that this was quoted at Comic-Con

I want you to remember, Clark…in all the years to come…in your most private moments…I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you.

Oh boy.


Thats from The Dark Knight Returns. One of my favourite comics and one that I’d love to see made into a movie but know the studio’s never would. Until now. However seemingly the next Man of Steel will be inspired by The Dark Knight Returns and it won’t be a full adaption. There’s lots of great material in the book so that should be good…apart for one small detail.

Fucking Zack Snyder.

His films are generally OK but far too heavily reliant on CGI for my liking. I really enjoyed the first hour of Man of Steel. The next hour, not so much. In fact I don’t think I’ve hated a movie in recent years as much as I hated that last hour of Man of Steel. So much good work wasted with over the top CGI action that was almost too fast to follow not helped with lots of shaky cam, audio that bordered on too loud for my liking and a pretty shit plot.

I have the fear of what a potential Batman vs Superman movie under his direction will turn out to be. It all feels rushed unlike Marvel which has plotted The Avengers for a number of years.

Still, 2015 looks to be an awesome year for geek films. Star Wars VII, Avengers 2, Batman vs Superman, Terminator 5, Independence Day 2, Ant-Man, Bond, Avatar 2 and rumours of Star Trek 3. Geek sequeltastic.


So on Saturday I watched Inception. It’s the talked about movie of the moment and my initial reaction on Twitter was:

Inception – Good but not great

That was how I felt walking out of the cinema. Almost disappointed considering the hype. So I wanted to talk a bit about it which will involve some spoilers, but not yet. First, some general thoughts on the film rather than the plot.

As expected, the film looked gorgeous. The set pieces were HUGE but without the over the top use of CGI that is so prevalent in today’s film. To contrast, I watched the remake of Clash of the Titans just a few days before which was more akin to God of War on the PS3 with some actors placed into the CGI. Tosh. It was also an incredibly good looking film. Both sets and actors were of the highest quality. So much so it’s hard to really find fault with any technical aspect.

Leonardo DiCaprio turned in another captivating performance. To think that he’s come from Titanic to great films like Blood Diamond, Body of Lies, The Departed and now this – is he THE hollywood actor for this generation? For me it’s between him and Christian Bale as my favourite actor right now. In fact, are they this generations De Niro and Pacino? Other good turns from Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy…in fact the only actor sold short was Ellen Page. She was great in Juno but I felt her acting in Inception was a bit wooden – maybe being saddled with a script that sometimes made her the audience guide didn’t help – think the voiceover in Blade Runner. She always asked the obvious questions leaving the other talent with the job of explaining to her, and hence the audience, what was going to happen next. Something just didn’t feel right with her performance. Despite the great talent, Tom Hardy stole the show for me.

The British actor owned every scene he was in. Some of that was down to his character getting some great lines and being involved in the thick of the action. Mostly it was his sheer presence on screen. If you get the chance catch his performance in Bronson (showing on Sky right now). Future star, if not already one – he’s currently shooting a new Mad Max film and I can’t wait to see how that turns out.

Before we hit the plot, and the aforementioned spoilers, a word on Christopher Nolan. Momento, Prestige, Batman Begins, Dark Knight and now Inception. Some of my favourite films. Dark, clever and always require more than one viewing. Without doubt my current favourite director. I can’t wait to see what he does with the next Batman film in a couple of years. Also, if you haven’t taken in Prestige it’s well worth a watch although can be a bit….ploddy.

Yet I walked out the cinema on Saturday and was almost disappointed with Inception. That’s changed after some reflection. Firstly, cinema’s generally piss me off. Noise, phone’s, other people, crap seats and a really sticky floor don’t add to the cinema going experience. Yes you get a big picture but that feels soft when compared to what can be viewed at home. Audio is loud, but I can do that at home if I want to as well. All in all, not a stellar experience. I also felt a bit of plod around the middle of Inception but that’s more down to me. I wasn’t thinking. The next day I couldn’t get the film out of my head. What really happened in that film, what did that visual clue mean, am I over analysing? That’s what is so great about Nolan’s films. You need to think to get the best out of them, something I didn’t really do at the cinema, and with that, it’s onto the spoilers. You’ve been warned so if you haven’t watched the film, go read something else.

Inception doesn’t answer everything. It leaves you guessing at the end as to what happened. Is this the mark of a great film maker – not scared to leave it down to the audience to figure it out? Of course, that means there are a number of events open to interpretation.

The ending revolves around whether Cobb (DiCaprio) makes it home to his family or is he still dreaming. This is done via the totem that is referenced through the film which cut’s away before falling – falling would mean it is reality. Some points on this and my take are:

1) Cobb visualises his children in his dream at a very young age. IMDB list the children as 3 years and 20 months (don’t know how they know this but it’ll do for me). Yet earlier in the film Cobb is speaking to his kids and at least one of them sounds a lot older.

2) Sticking with the kids, when Cobb visualises them you never see their faces. You always see them in the garden of the house wearing the same clothes. When he finally ‘gets home’ at the end of the film you see their faces, but the clothes are the same (I think) and they haven’t aged.

3) The editing at the end of the film hints at one of the dream concepts mentioned earlier – the dreams feel real but how did you get there? It feels rushed between Cobb wakening on the plane and very quickly appearing in his house – is he dreaming, does he know how he really got there?

4) When we first meet Miles (Michael Caine – just wanted him to say never – see Dark Knight), I’m sure he says it’s time for Cobb to come back to reality…or something like that. Does that mean he’s dreaming at that point? Is the whole film a dream?

5) The limbo visit’s and the multiple levels, kicks and jumps. The age difference between Cobb and Saito (Ken Watanabe) at the end is due to Cobb dying (and hence going to limbo) in level 1 – Saito dies in level 3 where time travels at a far faster rate. The bit I’m not sure about – how do they end up in the same limbo – is it because they are sharing the same dream space? All the jump’s kind of make sense to me, although again I’m kind of hazy with Cobb and Saito – was that Cobb convincing Saito that this wasn’t reality?

So with those points, and I’m sure there are more but that would only come with a repeat viewing, was Cobb dreaming at the end? Was the whole film a dream? My take is that the did complete the inception and that Saito’s phone call on the plane was real. From that point on though was a dream. The editing, the age of the children and the setting all point to this being a dream. What I, or I think anyone, can tell is whether that dream takes place on the plane, after Cobb is reunited with his kids or at some point in the future. During the film Cobb said he couldn’t dream anymore – was completing this inception and facing up to his wife in the dream world his chance to dream again?

The best bit about these theories – it’s entirely plausible that there’s another way of interpreting the events, and maybe thats the whole point. Has the movie been constructed in such a way that there is no right answer? Is this Nolan playing with our minds, stealing our dreams? In many ways it reminds me of Life On Mars which ended with no clear answer and open to many interpretations. That made it so much better and the same can be said of Inception.

I look forward to a repeat viewing in the comfort of my own house with a crossed finger or two that it will come with a directors overview of what he wanted to deliver and all the twists and turns throughout the film.

Inception – just great

Pirate Bay

Only one real story in tech today – Pirate Bay founders have been found guilty in their court case, jailed for a year each and ordered to pay around £1 million each. Ouch. It’s a headline grabbing verdict but only the first decision in what will will probably be a long and drawn out trial.

For me it’s a symbolic victory over The Pirate Bay four rather than anything meaningful. The site won’t shut down unlike Oink which was shut down and the owner and some members charged in the UK. As of yet no one has done any jail time following the Oink arrests although some of the uploaders did receive a community service sentence and had to pay back court fee’s. The site admin of Oink has still to be tried.

The biggest thing for the music and film industry bodies will be the hope that this will dissuade joe public from using torrent sites as it has ‘been proven’ to be illegal and you can be prosecuted. From what I can read today however the win does not mean the closing of the site or indeed will ever lead to the site being shut down. Pirate Bay have always been pretty open about what the do and also confident that their site cannot, and will not be shut down. Indeed, the charges that were finally proven were those of assisting in making copyright content available. Originally they were being tried of assisting copyright infringement. Very different and lesser charges.

But what does assisting in making copyright content available actually mean? Where does the assistance stop? Are ISP’s assisting by providing bandwidth to those that upload and download torrents? Is Google assisting by providing torrent’s in it’s index? If so that means every search engine provider is – that’s some very big names. The Pirate Bay is a search engine with results returned of links to files held elsewhere. Is there a difference especially when I can find the same torrents on Google as I can on Pirate Bay?

One impact will be not immediately, but over the next few months, we’ll see a shrinking of torrent sites. Some of the smaller sites will be shut down with ease. The ruling will have repercussions for those that aren’t set up as well as Pirate Bay or the other well known sites. I also think there will be an increase in usage at the Bay. Being THE headline on BBC News will bring the site to the attention of a lot more people. People that will be curious. Curious to see what’s there. Curious enough to visit the site. Curious enough to click on a torrent link for the first time.

One final thought. Would we be using iPlayer, Hulu, Skype, Spotify and many other services if Kazza or bittorrent sites hadn’t been so popular over the last few years? Most of these are in response or based on file sharing technology. One other final thought. Would we be seeing broadband speeds of 50-100Mb now if it wasn’t for torrenting? Would we need those speeds? Last final thought. Thank goodness for newsgroups. For now.

Best Left Unanswered

I love The Italian Job. Not the 2003 remake but the original filmed in the 60’s with Michael Caine. In a documentary celebrating his 70th birthday he’s revealed the ending that was filmed and then scrapped.

“I crawl up, switch on the engine and stay there for four hours until all the petrol runs out,” he said.

“The van bounces back up so we can all get out, but then the gold goes over.”

There’s more detail on the BBC site and also some info on a competition to come up with an ending next year to mark 40 years since the Italian Job was made. I’m so glad the film cut the ending as it sounds terrible. I also wish the ending had always remained a mystery – so much better to leave it to everyone’s imagination.

Watch 07

Following on from Listen 07, here are my favourite films and TV from 2007. Again, no order to the list.

Hot Fuzz Hot Fuzz

Better than Shaun of the Dead for me, this was laugh out loud comedy at its best spliced with in gag’s and nod’s to the buddy cop films that we all know and love. You have seen Spaced haven’t you?

Bourne Ultimatum Bourne Ultimatum

When the Bourne Identity came out I didn’t hold out much hope for it – how wrong I was. The final part of the trilogy has delivered a great ending, neatly wrapping up the question of who Bourne was and the people that made him who he is today.
A great end to the Bourne series…I hope. Don’t ruin it by taking it one film too far.

Heroes Heroes

My favourite American import this was a great watch from beginning to end although it had a touch of the Lost season 2’s about it in the middle. Season 2 though has been disappointing only picking up pace as it nears the end. Still worthy of watching when the BBC gets their act together and airs it later this year.

Life on Mars Life on Mars

While showing signs of running out of steam compared to series 1, Life on Mars was still a drama highlight. The series finale was a news worthy item and many speculated on what actually happened, including me. A great watch and sadly missed…although Ashes to Ashes starts in Feb on BBC. Time for an 80’s revival?

Blade Runner Blade Runner – The Final Cut

Why is a 25 year old movie in my list of great watches for 2007? Well in many ways Blade Runner still feels unsurpassed even today and the final cut (especially on Blu Ray) is a visual treat. If you have an HD player this is a must buy. While some scenes have been re-shot and some small changes made it’s the fact that they are in HD and re-scanned at a really high resolution that makes the biggest difference. A classic.

There were other highlights well worth catching. Knocked Up and Superbad were pretty funny films and Top Gear was consistently good. I don’t care if they stage all their reviews, challenges, stunts. I enjoy them. Lost also picked up the pace and was back on form. Dexter was a good watch, all the better for being a short series. 30 Rock is usually pretty funny as is Mock the Week (Frankie Boyle being the highlight for me). Finally, try and catch Friday Night Lights – very different to the film but pretty good.

I just hope stalwarts like 24 and Battlestar show a return to form once the writers strike finishes. Especially 24 – it was pants this year.