Every Tom Hanks movie

Just like many people, I've been curious how James Corden would get on in the wild world of late night US talk shows. You'll have noticed my obsession with Jimmy Fallon, I'm sure, and the concept of these daily evening entertainment extravaganzas fascinates me.

By all accounts, he did okay and there's at least something to work with. From the clips I've seen, it's a good start but I just have one question. Why would you ever put Tom Hanks in your first show because how are you ever going to top this??

A good fit?

Since writing about my desire to chronicle the connected life I've done a lot of playing around with gadgets but not so much reporting of my findings. One of the health and fitness gadgets I've been less keen on trying is the Fitbit fitness band, partly because it just doesn't appeal to me and partly because of their refusal to embrace Apple's HealthKit concept.

(For those who missed it, HealthKit syncs all data from health apps to graph your progress in one handy place. Fitbit refused to be included, and Apple took their gadgets out of the online and retail stores.)

I can understand why some are turned off my Apple's all encompassing closed garden nature, but particularly with regards to HealthKit, it's not a particularly demanding exclusivity deal. You give data, you can read data back, the user gets better control. So, all refusing to join does is alienate a subset of customers that might otherwise want to use the products.

Anyway, regardless, the news that Fitbit bought out workout app Fitstar was met by me with something of a howl. I have been in love with Fitstar for more than a year, and it's one of the few fitness ventures I've tried that has stuck. (Running stuck but then it injured me.)

Both Fitstar and Fitbit claim that nothing major will change upon this acquisition, but it always does, doesn't it? Fitstar's email announcement included the worrying phrase: "The FitStar you know and love is not going away - in fact, it’s only going to get better with our friends at Fitbit."

The most pressing improvements for them are a move to expand the app outside of Apple's infrastructure. That's understandable given Fitbit's clear distaste for the system. But this worries me on two levels.

1) If they're busy updating the app for others, will the current version just stagnate? It being available on Windows phone doesn't make any difference to me. The age old question of new users over loyal customers comes to the fore here.
2) Will their expansion stop at simply inclusion? Fitbit don't play well with others. Fitstar previously did work with HealthKit and connected to several other apps to share data. I am guessing it won't sync with HealthKit in future, and other devices/apps may face a similar fate.

It's easy to over-react when the news of a purchase comes along but more often than not, bad things happen to the apps I like that get bought out.

The news is even more irritating for its poor timing. Apple are set to update their software with fixes for the buggy HealthKit app that should make it usable. It's been hit and miss since the introduction but the concept is a good one and I hope it can get more stable to increase the bigger picture view of my health. Whether Fitstar will still be a part of that vista remains to be seen.

One unit, two unit, three unit, four

Life is, predictably, very busy at the moment and instead of flailing around as I make my way through a day, I've had to start thinking in the morning: "This is what I have to achieve today, how will I fit it in?"

That means a bit of forward planning, which in turn means that Hugh Grant was right all along with his system, highlighted in About a Boy.

I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully disheveled: four units. It's amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I'd ever have time for a job; how do people cram them in?

Digital magazines aren't the solution... yet

I so wanted Newsstand to be the answer. The concept is perfect: digital copies of magazines delivered to my device without me having to a) leave the house/rely on the postal service or b) find space for physical paper.

Unfortunately, it's just not that simple. I started my digital magazine explorations with Zinio, and then moved on to Newsstand when Apple kicked off their version of digital newspaper and magazines. Both do very similar things, allowing you to subscribe to a magazine, or download individual editions, read them on your device and then continue to access them later.

For Newsstand, it feels like it should be a simple process, but everything about it is clunky and uncomfortable. First you subscribe to the magazine itself, just as a title, an entity. The cover appears in your Newsstand and you can go in and out of various titles there - each opening up its own separate app. That's a pain, because I'm always ending up with heaps of apps open without realising what I'm actually doing. Navigation on Newsstand is not fun.

Then you have downloading (slow), storage (filesizes are huge), management (am I subscribed? do I keep old editions?) and more important than any of the other things: usability. I've stumbled across maybe two or three magazines that have made the effort and designed a tablet friendly edition, with moving parts, legible text and good navigation. Total Film is a good example, as it embeds trailers, has covers that move, load and link, and reviews that are scrollable in a variety of interesting ways.

That's the exception to the rule, though. For the most part, digital magazines tend to be replica copies of their print counterparts, which involves things not fitting on the screen correctly, split page concepts not working at all, and tiny text that requires a lot of zooming in and out as you attempt to read.

As fanatical as we are in my house to rid ourselves of physical things and live in binary wherever possible, magazines are the one thing that has so far beaten us. Physical copies have been creeping back in "because it's just easier." It's frustrating, not because paper is particularly bad, but because the solution is almost there. Almost. But it's just not ready yet.

Film Watch Review - 451 to 500

Well, I've only gone and done it. When I set that Life List goal of watching 500 films it seemed such a high amount, a crazy ambition, one that I might get round to eventually. Somehow, the number of films we've watched each year has gotten higher and higher, so that suddenly, this Christmas, I was within sight of 500. However, it wasn't until January that the magical number was reached.

Here's a roundup of 451 to 500 then, a little late, but with a brief quote from my conclusions. I'm not sure I'll continue these round ups now the goal has been achieved, but there's always Film Watch reviews available on the dedicated site.


451 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Unrated. "Mr C was bored silly and then feeling sick from that [snakes for dinner] scene, I was hiding my eyes behind a cushion, we really weren’t enjoying ourselves, so we gave it up as a lost cause."

452 - Muppets Most Wanted 3/5. "I liked it, but I didn’t think it was good as the first one. They said themselves that sequels are usually not as good, and it still had that nice note of self-awareness, but in the end, it wasn’t as good no matter how aware of that it was. The story didn’t really hold up as well as I’d hoped, and the human characters weren’t quite as strong."

453 - Transcendence 3/5. "The film raises so many great concepts, touches upon fascinating ideas, and broaches really tough and important questions about the limits, ethics and future of artificial intelligence. What I think it struggled with was trying to come up with an answer, or a story at least, to hang the whole thing on."

454 - Ride Along 4/5. "It wasn’t the best film ever made, but it was entertaining from start to finish. Hart was really very good, constantly talking and finding his way in and out of scrapes, and Ice Cube did a pretty good job at the sullen but ultimately caring cop."

455 - Need for Speed 3/5. "It’s hard to get fully on board with these guys, because ultimately they’re hooligans, breaking the law constantly and putting themselves at risk before being horrified at the consequences. On the other hand, it’s a film full of heart, and the relationship between Paul and Poots manages to grow both for them and also on you."

456 - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 1/5. "The rest of the film was a mess. Too many villains, too many storylines, too much to take in. It was like three films in one, and on top of that, so many similarities to the Tobey Maguire three that I really had a hard time following what was going on. I was asking obvious questions that made me look a fool, when it really was just too complicated a plot."

457 - They Came Together 4/5. "Once my expectations were aligned with what we were watching, it was totally brilliant. A mixture of parody, homage and generally just poking fun, there were references galore and plenty of funny lines to repeat endlessly afterwards."

458 - Bad Neighbours 4/5. "Some of it was a bit crude, as you might imagine of a frat house, but mostly I thought it was hilarious. The bit with the airbags, I really loved that. I might need a gif of it. Also, the Robert Di Niro outfits. Genius. Overall lots of fun, very re-watchable, and perfect to enjoy with a beer in hand."

459 - Plastic 3/5. "It was a good film, based on a true story apparently, and it felt like an extended version of Hustle. It didn’t quite have the polished finish you might hope for, and some of the fight scenes looked very odd to my untrained eye. But the young stars were very good, Will Poulter in particular."

460 - The Longest Week 4/5. "Something a bit different, brilliant to have a narrator, and so artfully done, each shot was exquisite. Jason Bateman was excellent, but I really liked Dylan. Cool, calm and collected when his friend was turning his life upside down. Really good, very worth watching."


461 - Cycling with Molière 3/5. "There were some great shots too, with lovely surroundings in both sunshine and rain. It was funny but not over the top, calm and natural instead. Neither of us are particularly clued up on Molière and I don’t know if some knowledge there would have helped us enjoy it more, but even without it was great."

462 - WarGames 4/5. "Amazingly, despite being a film that is all about technology, it didn’t age that badly at all. The upscaling to HD was good, and aside from the state of the green screen monitors and the giant phone modem thing, it was actually very well done, believable with barely a plot hole to be seen."

463 - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 4/5. "This film was a lot of fun, very entertaining and a great story that we thought was going to be one thing but that then turned into another. I liked the backstory, explaining how he became an analyst and then emerged from behind his desk to become an action hero again. It made a lot more sense than 'oh, I have found myself on a submarine, how odd.'"

464 - Armageddon 5/5. "I had sort of been saving it for a special occasion, but actually, in the end, it just felt like the right time to watch it again. It was all the brilliant things I remembered – great characters, far-fetched but wonderful story, and fab one-liners. And if it reduced me to tears when I was hard-hearted, I was in floods this time."

465 - A Million Ways to Die in the West 4/5. "As with many of the films of this nature, it was hit and miss in its comedy and story, but the hits were absolutely spot on. It’s got its immature moments, but then again it’s got some really interesting insights. I also didn’t really feel Seth had the presence in this one to pull it off. He sounded far more confident and comfortable voicing Ted."

466 - Lone Survivor Unrated. "Brutal is the exact right word to describe it. I just couldn’t bear to watch the rest of the film unfold. It could also have been because there was clearly only going to be one survivor (the title and the opening sequence made that perfectly obvious), so why would I want to sit and watch how the rest of the guys get picked off."

467 - Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy 2/5. "It was good, although I was very aware that most of the time I wasn’t “getting it”. I can’t really see why it’s so culturally acclaimed, but perhaps it was of a time and a place that just passed me by. It was better than I thought, and laugh out loud funny in places. But on the flip side, I didn’t really enjoy the sexism storyline."

468 - Life of Crime 4/5. "It was a great tale, twists and turns, particularly at the end which I didn’t see coming at all. I loved Isla’s hideous but practical character and John Hawkes made a great likeable but not-to-be-trifled with rogue. Surprisingly good stuff!"

469 - Draft Day 5/5. "Tense, enthralling, with a handful of relationships around the edges to keep it interesting. I didn’t necessarily buy the relationship between Costner and Garner, but I thought she was fab. I was properly involved and there was tears at the end and everything. Brilliant stuff."

470 - The Other Woman 3/5. "The set up is a little bit unbelievable too, that they would be able to sustain a relationship based on the cheating husband’s antics doesn’t really sell well. However, once you get past all that stuff, it’s actually quite a good comedy. They become a good team, have some funny dialogue, and get themselves into amusing scrapes."


471 - Postman Pat: The Movie 2/5. "I did think some of the robot scenes in the finale, particularly that horrifying cat, were a bit scary for what I presume is a younger target audience, although that didn’t affect us. It was alright, but it wasn’t a classic that some other kids films are – there’s no desire to watch it again."

472 - The Great Escape 5/5. "I had forgotten that Steve McQueen isn’t actually in it that much, spending all his time as he does in the cooler. And watching it back this time, I did feel that some of the post-escape stuff could have been left out for brevity’s sake. But I’ll 100% take it as it is and love it and watch it over and over."

473 - Pineapple Express 3/5. "It wasn’t my ideal film, I have no frame of reference for what they’re going through at all, and it was hard to get completely on board. But they were fun together, as they always are, and some of the jokes were better than I’d anticipated. Not perfect, and they’ve certainly done better since, but everyone has to start somewhere!"

474 - Jerry Maguire Unrated. "This was not such a success. I didn’t get the editing, it was odd. Shot choices felt out of place and uncomfortable, and barely anything happened in the twenty minutes we were watching. He wrote something then he got on a plane. Hmm."

475 - We Are Marshall 5/5. "It was brilliant. Slow going, perhaps, and drawn out in places, but not so that you came to resent it. These people were going through hell and trying to pull them out the other side, impossible to imagine."

476 - Ender's Game 2/5. "The twist is good. But then it felt like they didn’t really have a way to end it succinctly. In the same way as Transcendence had a great premise and was interesting to watch up until the point the original idea was expired, then the rest was lacking."

477 - Notting Hill 5/5. "Hugh Grant could play this role with his eyes closed and as I said in the notes above, Julia Roberts playing a movie star can’t be a stretch for her. It’s the surrounding cast that make the film what it is. Hugh’s crazy family, and Julia’s mad world of press junkets and period drama movies. Love it."

478 - Edge of Tomorrow 5/5. "Let’s get this straight: time travel, Groundhog Day, Emily Blunt being kick-ass, and bonus Jonas Armstrong. There can’t be anything wrong with this film. It was gripping, a great rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, and although it came to an ever so slightly irritating “everything’s okay!” ending, it was totally worth it."

479 - Ocean's Thirteen 3/5. "I thought it was much better than the second, the story made more sense and it had a greater and more believable reason for them to do what they were doing. I think neither film is a patch on the first, they never quite manage to recapture that group dynamic that they had in that original outing, but at least they rounded the trilogy off as well as they could."

480 - 3 Days to Kill 4/5. " Interesting story, tough but understandable characters and some really nice shots throughout – Paris, you know how it is. There were a few irritants, his illness and the treatment didn’t really make sense and I wish that Amber Heard could have been a powerful woman without having to dress in skin-tight leather all the time."


481 - Cool Runnings 5/5. " It’s brilliant. Simple, funny, heartwarming, beautiful. Days later, I’m still chanting: “Jamaica, we have a bobsled team.” Also love that it doesn’t have the traditional happy ending, because that would be kinda unbelievable, and yet it’s exactly what needs to happen. Love it."

482 - The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared 5/5. "I really enjoyed the book and hadn’t realised it had been made into a film, so was keen to see what the big screen adaptation was like. Big, bright and colourful, I thought it made a fabulous movie, dragging the viewer through all the crazy adventures and yet making it all seem entirely believable."

483 - Transformers: Age of Extinction 1/5. "Not only was it awful but it had the potential to be so good. All the component parts were excellent – Wahlberg seemed like a good character, Tucci was brilliant, there was bonus John Goodman, the CGI was very strong, even the story made some sense. But somehow Bay managed to screw up all the separate parts, merging them into a hideous mess."

484 - 22 Jump Street 5/5. "It’s that kind of self-referential comedy that makes the whole thing tick. It’s funny in places by itself, but it’s mostly when it’s picking on itself that it really works. The bit about the church being across the street, and 23 Jump Street being built, stuff like that made it what it was. Plus, there’s a football helmet on wheels, and I can’t take anything away from that."

485 - Begin Again 5/5. "Moving and well crafted, miserable and joyous at the same time, predictable but refreshingly new. The blurb describes it as a comedy, which I wouldn’t necessarily agree with, it was more of a drama with plenty of music and singing involved."

486 - Chef 4/5. "It’s a nice story, heartwarming, with plenty of food appreciation along the way. Favreau is excellent at being passionate about food, and clueless about technology. The reliance on social media means this film isn’t likely to age well, but it’s a great watch now, so make sure you check it out while it’s still relevant!"

487 - Godzilla 1/5. "What a terrible film it turned out to be. It actually made Transformers seem a lot better. Whereas Transformers had all the right ingredients but the wrong method, Godzilla didn’t have too much stuff going on and mostly made sense… it was just badly done."

488 - The Ugly Truth 2/5. "There are so many conflicting feelings to be had about this movie. It’s inherently sexist given the premise, but on both sides and completely openly, so you sort of know what you’re signing up for. It’s annoying, pretty much everything he says, but it does all unravel in the end, I guess. He’s irritating, but also right, and kinda fun too."

489 - Rudderless 4/5. " It was hard to watch at first, sad of course, and I felt bad for really envying the guy in his previous life and not so much how he lived afterwards. However, as a story it was well-paced, with a couple of good twists, and more than anything, it had Morpheus trying to manoeuvre an RV. There’s really not a lot to dislike about it."

490 - Guardians of the Galaxy 5/5. "It took me a good while to really get into it. Almost to the point where the group were sat around discussing the big plan and that it might be the death of them. That’s more than halfway through the film. But once I got it, it was brilliant, and I absolutely intend to go back and watch it all again being on board with everything."


491 - Planes 3/5. " It takes on the same sort of theme as Cars, grumpy old veteran teaches the young upstart how to race better, lots of snarky enemies are overcome and it all winds up in a happy ending. The difference is Dusty is a nice plane who uses his personality to get through the big around the world race. Lightning McQueen wasn’t all that nice to start with and had to overcome his failings to do better."

492 - Terminator 2: Judgment Day 5/5. " It’s certainly one of the few sequels that is a million times better than the original – although you need the first to know what’s going on in the second. I really like the new Terminator, and his progression through learning how to be more human. His relationship with John Connor is great, and the end actually made me tearful."

493 - Lucy 1/5. "Scarlett doesn’t have a lot to work with, transformed almost immediately into some kind of robotic, emotionless other-worldly being. Morgan Freeman is his usual excellent self but doesn’t really fit into the story easily. I like that it ramped up, with the percentage increasing, and quite liked some of the effects, but ultimately it didn’t make a lot of sense and just wasn’t very interesting."

494 - Nativity! 4/5. "The trailer for this one hadn’t looked all that good but the film delivered. Sweet and saccharine, with an overemphasis on the cuteness of children, but with plenty of heart and an actually interesting story. They also played out most of the nativity at the end which I thought was good – usually, films gloss over the end performance of a story like this."

495 - Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! 2/5. "onsidering we only watched Nativity so we could get to this one, the first film was leaps and bounds better. There wasn’t the same sort of story here, rather than a nice somewhat simple tale of a lie spinning out of control, instead we have David Tennant chasing kids across the hills and valleys of rural Wales. Very odd."

496 - Gremlins 3/5. "It was good, slightly more brutal than I might have thought, particularly as it is considered a family film really. The story that Phoebe Cates tells about her father really shocked me, and some of the ways the Gremlins meet their fate in the kitchen also stuck with me. It’s fun though, a good watch, although with plenty of fundamental flaws that mean you can’t take it too seriously."

497 - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 4/5. " I thought they did a great job introducing the characters, getting all the important points of the world in and telling the story as well. It’s a long film, but it needs to be, I don’t think they could have cut much more out without losing anything. The CGI held up quite well, considering what they were trying to achieve."

498 - Planes: Fire & Rescue 2/5. "So, Planes was good, this one was on the same level but didn’t quite live up to its predecessor. What the film does well is plane and transport related puns, an incredible range of one liners that can absolutely floor you. The hybrid quip was brilliant, and just as you’re recovering from that one, there’s a glimpse of line-dancing cars, and then a pick-up truck trying to pick-up a mate."

499 - Let's Be Cops 2/5. "It was actually a lot better than I’d thought it would be, but it left me a little baffled. It wasn’t the stupid comedy I’d anticipated, although did have some hit or miss jokes that you expect from the genre. But it was a bit too serious to be the normal comedy, and yet not quite serious enough to be a full on drama."

500 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 3/5. "I had anticipated making a big deal of the 500th film, picking an epic classic, but in the end I wasn’t feeling well and in those cases you just want to watch what you want to watch. So, we took in the second adventure of Harry Potter and his pals, in which the shortest book is made into the longest movie."

I could write deep and meaningful things about what this project has done for me, how interesting it has been to discover the inter-connected nature of Hollywood, that it's been fabulous to have a whole new subject to discuss with Mr C, how I've broadened my horizons and learnt plenty of things about a wide variety of different topics, and how I've also enjoyed a heap of mindless action films as well. I could write all about that, but I don't think I will because even though the Life List goal is complete, Film Watch is going to live on for a lot longer yet.