French Open Prediction

I’ve barely watched any tennis since the Australian Open and I wasn’t even sure what channel the French Open was on this year until it started, it was really badly advertised. Sadly the most devastating thing that could have happened in the tournament happened before it even started when Roger Federer pulled out through injury, ending his incredible run of consecutive grand slams. I didn’t know if there was even any point in bothering to watch it to be honest but we’ve just finished the third day and the quality of tennis has been amazing.

Everything is pointing towards a Djokovic victory, but then again I thought that last year as well before he was derailed in the final. Having said that he has just been beaten in a clay court final against Andy Murray and as much as he usually bottles it on the big stage against Djokovic that win will have given him the confidence to be a real threat to the World No.1. That is even if he makes it to the final. His first two rounds have both gone to 5 sets and at times he’s looked tired and like he simply doesn’t want to be on court.
Then we have the King of Clay Rafael Nadal who hasn’t really been the King of any court for a while now but he has been progressing again and it would be stupid to rule out the 9-time champion. There is of course always a chance that a home favourite could prevail. Simon and Gasquet have both been on excellent form for the past couple of years and we’ve already seen what home advantage can do with wildcard Mathias Bourgue putting on a resilient and flamboyant display to take Andy Murray to 5 sets. Although the higher ranked French players are all more suited to grass than clay the French crowd could help one of them to surprise success.
Lastly we have the reigning champion Stan Wawrinka. A surprise winner last year with a perfect showing of mental and physical strength throughout the tournament culminating in an epic final against Djokovic, Stan always poses a threat and relishes being considered the underdog. He too, like Murray, has started sluggisly but he’s still in it and when he finds his form and he’s timing his backhand to perfection, he’s an unstoppable force.

I don’t want to be disparaging about women’s tennis but I just don’t know anything about it anymore. I know the woman who won the Australian Open is already out and Serena Williams and Heather Watson are still in. I only know about the latter because when a British person gets past the first round of anything in any sport they become a temporary national hero. Serena Williams should be winning every tournament every year because her best is so much better than everybody else’s best, she just doesn’t turn up sometimes and gets beaten to somebody nobody has ever heard of or ever will again. The Grand Slam then ends up getting won by someone outside the top 20, and said woman then complains that the women aren’t getting as much money as the men. The actual tennis then takes a backseat to the financial politics of it all. Sometimes that’s not even worth complaining about though because the quality of women’s tennis is so bad that unless Serena Williams is playing, nobody cares about it.

Doubles and mixed doubles will as per usual get little to no coverage in this country despite Jamie Murray’s success and it’s popularity in the Davis Cup. Apparently ITV and Eurosport have just decided that unless it’s Wimbledon or The Davis Cup, we don’t care about doubles tennis. As much as I agree that doubles is a more entertaining game on the grass, it’s a much more tactical game than singles and is often a lot more enjoyable to watch.
I’d talk about my own tennis season thus far but as we’ve played 4 matches and lost them all I don’t think I’ll bother.

New Girl – Season 5

Another hilarious season of New Girl has gone by but has sadly ended with the same ‘cliffhanger’ (if you can call it that at this point) of ‘what’s going to happen between Nick and Jess?’ I think every season has ended with this question lingering now and it’s getting tiresome.

I love New Girl, after The Big Bang Theory it is my 2nd favourite sitcom that is still ongoing, but that same question has been looming forever and when you finally start to think it’s gone for good it just comes back in serious finale. Fortunately that was only the last episode (possibly the last two I don’t remember) and there hasn’t been any focus on it at all this season up to that point. Instead we’ve had Cece and Schmidt getting engaged and married, Winston becoming a cop and falling in love with his partner Aly, and a really well done romance between Nick and Reagan, despite her mainly being an off-screen character after her initial short stint whilst Jess was on Jury Duty/Zooey Deschanel was having a baby.

The level of comedy in this program is perfect for me. It’s a mix between intelligent comedy and very easy childish comedy and is seen in the dialogue, silly little scenes when there’s a prank or something goes wrong, and the characters personalities. Elizabeth Meriweather’s comedy writing is second to none and is very reminiscent of Friends but with an obvious 21st century modernised twist. Being forced to write Zooey Deschanel out of the program for a few episodes completely changed the rest of the series with a new character, 2 new plots, and a change of love interest for Nick. Zooey’s temporary replacement was Megan Fox and as much as I didn’t think much of her as an actress because of Transformers and other things she’s actually really good in this and was a shrewd casting choice. Refreshing as it was to have a new actress join the cast, all of the cast in this program are amazing. I feel like Zooey Deschanel plays the same quirky cute character in pretty much everything and from the interviews I’ve seen with her it seems that she’s just playing herself. None of the other actors are particularly famous and I think it’s the writing of the characters that makes them look good but that’s taking nothing away from any of them. They bring the characters to life and do the writing justice and that’s what makes a good actor.

Overall I don’t think this program is getting better or worse really, it’s steadily staying as funny as it has always been. Following the trend of 20-25 episodes per season suits New Girl perfectly. It keeps the audience interested for the entire season with a nice amount of different plots and changes taking place and leaves enough time to keep us in anticipation for several months before the next season starts. Let’s just hope we get an end to all the Nick and Jess nonsense and they either get together and stay together or never get together at all.

Captain America: Civil War – 2016

For the first time in about 18 months I actually went out with another human being to the cinema and paid a ridiculous amount of money to watch a film that cost a ridiculous amount of money to make.

I watch these Superhero films to be part of the mindless herd of sheep that Marvel gobble up money from because obviously you’re just not cool unless you’ve seen The Avengers, which despite its name, this film basically is; the only characters it’s missing are Thor, The Hulk, and the people from SHIELD; and rather than just make a film with a few less characters in they’ve decided to over-compensate and add an additional abundance of characters with Ant-Man, Spiderman, Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine, and The Winter Soldier. There is a slight focus on Captain America and Iron-Man but there’s so many sub-plots going on surrounding the two main plots that it’s hard to keep track or really care about keeping track for that matter.
The acting is excellent as you would expect from the amount of high calibre and high profile actors and actresses in the film although I’m not sure how I feel about the new Spiderman (tangential story to come later). At this point in the franchise I feel like most of the actors are just playing themselves as they imagine they would be with superpowers. Their characters are all famous, rich, get noticed in any busy street in the world, and divide opinion. The only differences are the costumes and abilities and most of that is done with stuntmen and CG anyway.

The storyline itself (despite how many there are) is actually rather good. Very different from the usual formula of thousands of bad guys led by one really bad guy against a small band of superheroes who don’t really get on. The second part of the films title isn’t at all misleading as there is indeed a ‘Civil War’ between ‘Team Captain America’ and ‘Team Iron-Man’ because of disagreements to do with the governments of the World regulating The Avengers and because of The Winter Soldier. New guy Black Panther and Iron-Man both want to kill The Winter Soldier for different reasons and Captain America wants to protect him and let him help because he believes he’s been framed and knows he isn’t always in control of his own mind. All the other superheroes are back and forth on whose team to join, fighting and then not fighting again until there are two perfectly balanced teams for the culminating battle in the airport of all places. Suffice to say aeroplanes are used as weapons in this 15 minute action-packed scene that really delivered when it mattered because you do rely on these films for a mass amount of action and explosions. The thing I liked about this action scene and this does go for The Avengers films as well, they spread out the focus on each superhero really well, giving them all a little cameo appearance in the spotlight. I think that’s what allows people to choose a favourite more freely. It’s a good marketing ploy on the part of Marvel more than anything. The more they spread the favouritism, the more adaptations they can make and different merchandise they can sell. The only problem I have with this final battle is that I’m not sure it’s close enough to the end of the film and because of that the actual ending becomes unimportant and disappointingly forgettable. It’s not the most predictable end but it’s certainly not an exciting end either. There’s also another little post-credits segment just in case we didn’t already know they’re going to keep milking these Marvel films until they’re costing more than they’re making, and as they hit $1 Billion worldwide yesterday that could be a very long time.

All in all this is a solid film, a lot better than the previous Captain America films and actually probably better than The Avengers films as well, certainly not as action packed but a much more thought out story. Only really two small problems, the name, because it should just be called The Avengers, and the non-eventful ending. I have no idea what film of this Avenger based series is coming out next but I’m pretty sure I’ll watch it. X-Men is definitely the next superhero film on my watch list though, who knows I may even pay to see that too.

Tangential story about Tom Holland (Spiderman):
I’m not sure if any of this was filmed in Liverpool or some other film he was doing was but for some reason or other he was on a night out in Liverpool and tried to get into the club that I work in on a Monday night (The Blue Angel/The Raz). Monday night is a rather busy night for us, mostly due to students from The University of Liverpool so we often have a few hundred people queuing up outside. Tom Holland being the ‘celebrity’ that he thinks he is decided that because he was Spiderman, he would tell everyone and that meant he could jump the queue. He was however unceremoniously removed from the queue by our 6’8 bouncer who apparently told him that he has a Spiderman onesie so is Spiderman on the weekends too. In Tom Holland’s defence he didn’t leave kicking and screaming as a lot of people do, but he still seems like a bit of a dick.