Thursday, 18 April 2013

David Baumann Show

I had the pleasure of appearing on Sports Talk Radio 1080 The Team Morning Show hosted by David Baumann, this show is based in Orlando, Florida and I got listening to it by chance and since then myself and David have connected via Twitter - his show gets some great guests and gives stories unfamiliar a more in-depth profile and coverage.

On Tuesday, I appeared to talk about the London Marathon preparations in response to the shocking explosions at the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day Monday 15th April.  Here is the link:

You can follow David Baumann on twitter @DavidBaumann33 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Tottenham Cutting it Close

In March following Tottenham Hotspur's recent defeats away at Liverpool and home to Fulham which threatened to undermine the hard work of January and February including the home victory over arch rivals Arsenal, Tottenham conspired to ruin their own chances of European glory when they lost in Switzerland to Basle succumbing to a very English disease of penaltitis.

However, this does not tell all of the story as on paper, Tottenham have not won a game since the Arsenal victory, losing two and drawing three games conceding 10 and whilst still scoring they are struggling to get over the finishing line and secure that Champions League place that their form that for 7 months of the season deserve.

Whilst at the start of the season this writer said given the circumstances of his appointment and the squad list in his control, a fifth place finish may be all we could have expected.  Yet the overall poorness of the Premier League, which has resulted in a Champion elect setting a possible record breaking winning margin and again a sixth place side closer to relegation than championship contending.

Tottenham went on a 13 game undefeated streak that looked to cement their place in the return to Champions League football, yet injuries and board decisions are threatening to ruin the hard work that Andre Villas-Boas has instilled into his threadbare squad.

In January, when the chance was their to cement the place and get a striker to help this was ignored, so what happens Jermain Defoe goes cold and has not scored since early January and then gets injured.  Emmanuel Adebayor who has had a poor season in general is playing with poor body language and has no form, despite scoring the vital away goal that defeated Inter Milan.

The Europa League campaign unfortunately has been lost by AVB's decision to maintain his promise to Brad Freidel to play in all European ties - Freidel showed his age of 42 because he has not been playing regularly, this continual changing of goalkeeper can be perplexing for the defence who themselves is constantly changing game to game due to tactical changes and injuries.  This may sound like we are doing a disservice to Michael Dawson, who was immense in Switzerland in a performance reminiscent of a younger John Terry in his willingness to block and marshal all those around him.

In the four goals Tottenham conceded to Basle, some were certainly avoidable, none more so than the first goal on Thursday which led to Tottenham having to score again having already taken the lead.  Spurs are a passing team and attempt to maintain possession and create openings in the defence by pulling defenders out of position by chasing the ball.  However, the hassling of Basle which Tottenham underestimated, Moussa Dembele had an errant pass and in two passes Basle scored.  If you break it down, Tottenham are susceptible as they play across the park and allow spaces between the defence and midfield which can be taken advantage of.  This was apparent in the defeat at Liverpool when Kyle Walker's crossfield ball was intercepted by Stewart Downing and converted.

There seems to be a reluctance or maybe ignorance by Tottenham's players to stick to the system and not let down the manager's beliefs.

This belief though is blinded and overshadowed by injuries to a thin squad.  Any side that misses Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon (whose influence is very much ignored), Sandro (out for the season) and Younes Kaboul will be effected.

Yet the tinkering continued, AVB clearly likes Kyle Naughton as a player although for me playing him at left back is counter productive due to him being predominantly right footed.  When Benoit Assou-Ekotto was injured you can understand a manager grabbing at straws, whereas with Ekotto back fully fit this breeds of necessity of keeping a squad fresh, the hope is that the traditional left-back returns to the starting XI for the next league fixture at home to Manchester City on April 20th.

Hopefully, the 10 day break from competitive fixture due to Chelsea's FA cup involvement, may lead to some reflection amongst the squad and allow Gareth Bale to continue his talismanic season.  Spurs have 7 games left and two big games against Man City and Chelsea, if they do not lose those games - best case scenario 6 points, acceptable would be 2 or 4 points, no points would be disastrous for the Champions League aspirations.

Many critics feel AVB should be given the benefit of the doubt, as does this writer but sometimes his decision making and not asking for a striker in January may be one he ultimately regrets.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Simon Killer

Following on from the critical success of Afterschool in 2008, Antonio Campos returns with Simon Killer starring Brady Corbet and Mati Diop.

Simon Killer tells the story of Simon (Corbet), a New York postgradute who's just split up with his girlfriend of five years (who we never see) and visits his cousin Carlo in Paris, France.

Whilst attempting to flirt and interact with French females he comes across Victoria (Diop), a prostitute who Simon attempts to make feel sorry for him.  And so begins an intriguing dynamic between the two as the intensity cranks up and the need for companionship.

Campos in a screenplay he co-wrote with the leading actors, has created a very unnerving viewing experience for an audience who may be used to such questionable subject material with a European persuasion.

In Simon, the creative team have created an unsympathetic leading male who wants nothing but sympathy as his reward for being in a relationship.  Simon attempts to use Victoria as a mark to blackmail rich husbands she sleeps with; this casual misogyny hides the equally casual disregard Simon has for women in general.

This is enhanced by the use of the non-existent Michelle, Simon's ex-girlfriend, who is invisible to us and yet has a voice in the emails she exchanges with Simon.  The one she does send to Simon, is read by Simon himself, another way of controlling his own narrative and viewpoint.  Simon is only happy if you hear just his side of the story.  In his first sexual encounter with Victoria he masturbates himself to climax whilst in view of a naked Victoria, in the scene before this encounter he masturbated online in a video chat.

For a film that has one character in every scene such as Simon - we watch the action five feet behind him by way of a roaming camera over his shoulder, you would expect a margin of empathy towards him but maybe we are not meant to as it becomes apparent Simon is manipulating the truth of his published university work and the full extent of his breakdown with Michelle.  We are also subjected to what Simon hears by way of his iPod being part of the soundtrack when he is walking in Paris streets.

Simon's actions may remind people of another sociopath who roamed European streets, Tom Ripley from Patricia Highsmith's novels; yet whilst Ripley was seduced by the elite classes, Simon is firmly living in the squalor and petty blackmails that Ripley would dare not touch.

Another literary character Simon is reminiscent of is Adam Gordon from Ben Lerner's 'Leaving the Atocha Station', in that Adam lives in Madrid on a fellowship but he does not know much Spanish and is left to look like anything but the brilliantly minded poet he is meant to be.

In the film Simon is a postgraduate, meaning currently unemployed and so lacking direction in his career seeks to gain some control over women in his life; whilst Simon can speak French, when Victoria tells him off for spending the night with another woman and denouncing him in French, it is telling that Simon yells, 'I can't understand you when you speak French'.

Brady Corbet is certainly building a quiet momentum as a go to guy for off-the-handle misanthropes and this is a fine performance in unison with the esteemable Diop.

There is an undeniable level of uncertainty in the film's direction and leaves a somewhat questionable impression on the mind's eye, yet Campos shows an assured hand with the subject matter and having gone from high school to a postgraduate, it would be interesting to see if he completes the trilogy and shows us a traumatised awkward married man with a dark side.  Campos maintains his exposure as a director with great potential to offer something both unsettling and intelligent.

SIMON KILLER is released by Eureka Entertainment in UK and Eire on 12th April 2013 and scheduled for a DVD/Blu-ray relese on 24th June 2013.