Tag Archives: London

Countdown to London 2012…

Yesterday, our friend and fellow Olympics-nerd, James, mentioned on his Facebook page that the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England are due to begin exactly two years from now. Hooray! I know it’s a little early to set up a season pass on our Tivo — seriously, I would if I could — but, it’s never too early to start talking about the latest Olympic mascots!

Introduced to the world back in May, the official mascots for the London games are a pair of strangely-hideous, one-eyed blobs named Wenlock and Mandeville.

And while they are not nearly as cute as the Fuwa Friendlies from the Beijing games, or the epically-cool Quatchi and friends from the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Wenlock and Mandeville do have a pretty interesting origin story, and the animated clip explaining it all (below) is even cooler!

I won’t spoil it for you by giving any of the plot away, but, their names do carry great meaning for folks in the UK and the story behind how they were “born” is really kinda cool. And on top of all that, the clip holds up very well on repeat views. We’ve watched it dozens of times already on YouTubeGreta is obsessed with the rainbows! — and I still get misty-eyed at the ending every time.

Anyway, though I probably won’t be dashing across the pond to buy plush figures of these new mascots (if they even come in plush!) when the games begin, I do heartily approve of them in concept.

So, check out the first of what I’m assuming will be many videos celebrating the world’s next big Olympic mascots…and by all means, let the countdown to London 2012 begin!

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“Last Chance Harvey”

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Christine and I see lots of movies this time of year — at last count we’ve seen 16 since Halloween, crazy! — and though most of them are awesome and totally award-worthy, they are also almost uniformly serious. So, when we see a funny, well-made romantic comedy this time of year, they usually stand out…big time.

One such movie from year’s past was “Miss Congeniality” — which we still love, despite the constant heckling from our friend’s Matt and Wan — and this year’s stand-out is the sparkling romantic comedy, “Last Chance Harvey”.

"Last Chance Harvey" #1

Starring Dustin Hoffman and a luminous Emma Thompson — seriously, beneath her frumpy, every-woman costumes, Thompson has star power to burn in this flick! — the bulk of “Last Chance Harvey” takes place over a 24-hour period in a beautifully-shot London, England.

I know it’s kind of cliche to say that “the city itself is a character” in a movie, but, I swear to God, London has never looked more vibrant and sunny than it does here. Even if you’re not big old UK geeks like us, this movie will make you want to visit London like never before. All burnished orange sunsets and crisp, yellow foliage, merry old England looks absolutely gorgeous here!

And the performances in “Harvey” are just as lovely and delicate as the setting. Playing two of the saddest, loneliest characters ever put to screen, Hoffman and Thompson are pitch-perfect as the star-crossed couple who “meet cute” and then spend the rest of the movie literally walking and talking around London.

I know, could be a total snoozefest, right? Well, trust me, it’s not. Working at the top of their game from a touching, often-hilarious script by director Joel Hopkins, the stars imbue every word they say with a depth and longing that is positively heartbreaking.

"Last Chance Harvey" #2

"Last Chance Harvey" #3

And that music…wow…the score, by composer Dickon Hinchcliffe, calls to mind the gloriously giddy work of Badly Drawn Boy’s killer “About a Boy” soundtrack. If you haven’t heard that score, or seen that movie, stop reading now and rent them both. Amazing!

But, back to “Harvey”. While on the surface it may sound like your classic boy-meets-girl romantic comedy, in reality what the filmmaker’s have crafted here is a wistful, Baby Boomer “Before Sunrise”. And if you knew how much Christine and I loved “Sunrise” and it’s arguably-better sequel “Before Sunset”, you know that is high praise indeed, amigos. Those movies were all about character and dialog and they made you laugh as much as they sometimes tore your heart out. Well, same thing goes for “Harvey”…this movie rocks!

So, if you’re looking for some holiday cheer this season, skip the bloated “Benjamin Button” and see “Last Chance Harvey” instead. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and, hand to God, you’ll walk out of that theatre smiling…

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