Five Animated Films to Watch During Lockdown

Following on from ‘Five Documentaries to Watch During Lockdown’…

Here are five animated film recommendations. This selection is geared toward films aimed at adults though some are suitable for children.

Waltz with Bashir (2008)

Israeli former soldier Ari Folman wrote, produced and directed this fascinating film. Told in the Hebrew language, it recalls Folman’s experiences in the 1982 Lebanon War. The film is at times a little slow, which may not be to everybody’s taste. It’s visually stunning however but so are many animated films, crucially, Waltz with Bashir provides substance to support the stunning visuals.

The Red Turtle (2016)

Like Waltz with Bashir, The Red Turtle is far from fast paced. Again, stunning visuals are on display but so is brutality. I found that the film, which has no dialogue, posed many questions but to draw upon them would provide a little too much on the spoiler front.

Quite simply, a man is shipwrecked on a deserted island beach and… meets a red turtle!

April and the Extraordinary World (2015)

Science is banned. Komodo dragons take over the world. Yeah, that’s it in a nutshell!

French language film April and the Extraordinary World features the voice talents of Marion Cotillard in the lead role of April. I’ve long been impressed by French cinema and this is another addition to a long list of high quality films to originate from across the channel.

Loving Vincent (2017)

I watched Loving Vincent only recently. It was the first film that I’d seen in quite some time (Two kids, blah blah blah!). It’s difficult to comprehend how it, the world’s first fully oil painted feature film, was put together.

Most of us know at least a little bit about Vincent Van Gogh and are familiar with some of his work. By watching this film, I learned a lot more about him and after checking out his work post viewing, it was fascinating to see how his work had been inserted into the film.

Moon Man (2012)

I originally watched this film sometime ago and though I enjoyed it, recalled it being a little slow. However, I managed to half watch it with my daughter recently and found it even more enjoyable as well as being a little more quick paced than I remembered.

Stunning visuals, stunning visuals. I know, I’ll be repeating myself here but I really did like the art in this film. The 95-minute long effort is based on a 1967 picture book by Toni Ungerer. The general consensus is that it can’t quite keep kids interested but my very young daughter seemed to enjoy it and like I say, I found it a better watch than I had remembered.

Nine, a film lost between being a kids film and not a kids film, A Scanner Darkly and Watership Down, a film familiar to many, are also worth watching. The latter is brutal but brilliant! The opening sequence is original. The blood covered fields are superb imagery and of course Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes will forever conjure images of rabbits.

Where Will Cricket’s Next T20 League Be?

It all started with T20 matches in England (Which almost seems hard to believe!) but it’s in other traditional cricketing hotbeds that T20 cricket has thrived. Namely in India (IPL) and Australia (BBL) as well as Pakistan (PSL) and the West Indies (CPL).

Beyond those regions countries such as Hong Kong and Canada have also produced T20 leagues that have attracted the world’s premier short format players. Some of these leagues haven’t necessarily had full status or lasted the course however.

But where will the next breakout T20 league be? USA and even Europe as a whole (Well… Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands) are certainly trying. Beyond that though, where could we see T20 freelancers flocking to next?

My prediction is… Qatar!

Of course Qatar are soon to host a football (Soccer) World Cup and they seem to be putting some energy into cricket too…

The Arab nation are up to 22nd in the men’s T20I rankings having usurped the likes of Kenya, Bermuda and USA, all teams that have played at major tournaments.

One thing that Qatar isn’t short of is clout… or money! Creating the infrastructure, ie: fancy stadiums and fancily named financially backed franchises would be no problem for the wealthy personnel that reside in Qatar.

It was in capital city Doha that cricket began in the country and its been simmering under the surface for a while. The nature of modern society and cricket itself really could see T20 cricket explode on the Persian Gulf. Presumably the dry pitches would favour spin but I’m sure that the knowledge and technology exists for organisers to maintain decent playing surfaces regardless.

Qatar gets a bad rap for its treatment of workers but doesn’t every non-white country that’s building World Cup stadiums? It’s easy for a reporter to take a photo of a worker having a break on a hot day and portray it as mistreatment. That said, if thirty four people have died building football stadiums then there’s clearly cause for concern. We wouldn’t want anymore deaths just to lay the foundations of cricket.

The average summer temperature in Qatar is between 35 and 45 degrees so games may primarily have to be day/night affairs. I can’t claim to be an expert on Qatari dew!

The population of Qatar is sub 3 million. I’ve read conflicting figures but most of the countries people live in or around Doha. I should probably point out that Qatar is only around a third of the size of Belgium.

How the football World Cup plays out could effect sentiment for future opportunities such as a bristling T20 cricket league in Qatar. Anyway, that’s my prediction for the location of the next T20 franchise league… The Qatar Premier League or Doha Sixfest maybe?!

What are your thoughts? Where will cricket thrive next?

Edit: It later came to my attention that Qatar has had a T10 league though unfortunately there were some fixing concerns!

Five Books to Read During Lockdown

Come on now! You’ve had plenty of time to watch the five documentaries that I recommended…

Now it’s onto literature…

Fire Season by Philip Connors

Connors’ memoir of many summers spent as a fire lookout in New Mexico’s Gila range beautifully details his summers spent saving forests (And lives) from fires. Man, wilderness, solitude… basically my staple reading material!

Connors’ follow up, All the Wrong Places, is also worth a read and though it’s not completely necessary, I feel that there’s value in having got to know him via Fire Season first.

Living Fossil by Keith S. Thomson

Thomson’s Living Fossil details the find and scientific investigation of a fish presumed extinct for millions of years… only it was still thriving (Well, surviving) all along!

This book is an amazing insight into how much remains unknown about our planet, or about how much some know but others don’t. It’s scientific yet readable for the layman.

Mountain of the Dead by Keith McCloskey

In 1959 nine Russian students died in absurdly mysterious circumstances whilst hiking in the mountains of the country’s extreme north. The records of the investigation were off limits for many years and what actually happened to them remains unsolved (Or at least unconfirmed) to this day.

The remotely located students abandoned the relative safety of their tent (By abandoned I mean ripped their way out using knives!) and ran into the storm battered night with almost no clothes on.

McCloskey’s work, subtitled The Dyatlov Pass Incident, provides details of what appears to have happened and theories as to what may have been the cause.

A Soldier’s Tale by M.K. Joseph

If I recall correctly, this is actually the author (M.K Joseph) detailing a story that was told to him by someone in the trenches. Of course he spices it up but regardless of its origins and truth, it’s a beautiful piece of work. Its conclusion is stomach churning and I can literally remember reading (And feeling) the final few pages.

A quick web search to refresh some details didn’t help me much but did suggest that this book wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Someone once said that “The object of art is to divide opinion”. Well some people may not have liked A Soldier’s Tale but it’s one of my all time favourite reads!

Freefall by Oran Canfield

In contrast to A Soldier’s Tale, I’m not even going to look this one up. However, like A Soldier’s Tale, I read this whilst in New Zealand. I can vividly remember walking down a street in Napier and seeing this brightly covered book jumping out at me on a sun laden table positioned outside. I seem to recall that there were quite a few copies and they were going cheap. The whole thing is just crazy. It involves drugs, circuses and well… why not have a read and find out?!

Song of the Week #001


Welcome to what will be a regular feature of my new blog. Every Monday, I’ll post the link to the official music video or occasionally a live performance of my selection for that week’s Song of the Week!

There won’t necessarily be rhyme or reason as to why I’ve selected a song as Song of the Week. Generally my selection will just be a song that I like but from time to time a relevant theme or occasion, something topical in the media that week or the anniversary of an event might be celebrated.

I hope that you’ll enjoy hearing what will be a wide variety of songs from a diverse array of artists.

The artist provided with the honour of being Planet Paul’s first ever Song of the Week selection is Australia’s Ben Lee. From the album Something to Remember Me By… A Month Today…

Disclaimer: Yes, I realise that this is neither a music video or a live performance. The album was released in 1997 and this specific link was posted to YouTube more than three years ago… literally just 205 views at the time of writing!

Teacup and Infuser

Having been a tea drinker for many years, I turned to coffee a few years ago when waking at 3am became a prerequisite for work!

But variety is the spice of life and it was nice to get back to drinking a little tea from time to time. I’ve previously found that when drinking loose leaf tea, I often end up with very weak tea. That’s not been the case since receiving a teacup and infuser for Christmas. I also received a loose leaf tea spoon (Forgot to include that in the photo!) and crucially… some loose leaf tea!

Of course brewing the leaves for the right amount of time is crucial to getting a pleasant strength tea. The nature of this design is that the milk will be added after. I’ve found it a lot more efficient than egg or tong infusers that tend to leak leaves.

The mug is a perfect size and the spoon measures the precise amount required for a tasty cup of tea. Of course loose tea is more expensive than tea bags but the least any of us deserve is a high quality cuppa!

My equipment and tea was purchased from…

I told you that this blog would stretch beyond cricket!

Five Documentaries to Watch During Lockdown!

Hi all

Please see below for details/trailers of five documentaries that I thoroughly recommend you watch.

Of course we’re not all locked down but if you are and need inspiration or if you’re not but can still find time, then check out the following.

Disclaimer: Numbers two and four are the most depressing things that I’ve ever seen… well, as well as visiting actual zoos! Grizzly Man is also ultimately a bleak film. Errr… suddenly I feel a bit wrong recommending these but documentaries are there to tell the truth… good or bad!

Unknown White Male (2005)

Speaking of telling the truth, one of my all time favourite films, director Rupert Murray’s Unknown White Male, is considered a hoax by many, including some in the health profession. They claim that the very specific details in Doug Bruce’s case have never been documented before and that he can’t possibly be telling the truth. The filmmakers have strenuously denied that the film is a fraud.

Whilst I can understand parts of the argument for this film being a hoax, I like to believe that it’s genuine. If it was a hoax, I’d have thought that those involved would’ve sought more attention since.

The Bridge (2006)

A film interviewing the family members of a year’s worth of Golden Gate Bridge suicide jumpers, uplifting this movie isn’t!

The filmmakers positioned cameras at both ends of San Francisco’s famous feat of engineering and caught 23 of that year’s 24 jumpers. One long distance shot in the film simply features ‘nothing’… then a splash. There’s also in-depth interviews with a guy that survived and boy is that something!

Grizzly Man (2005)

You probably know how this ends before you (Or it) begins but this isn’t depressing in the same way that The Bridge or Blackfish (That we’ll come to) are. Well, at least I didn’t think so!

Spoiler Alert! Though this ends tragically and can lead to some pretty in-depth analysis of Timothy Treadwell’s mental state and possible selfishness at putting his girlfriend in ‘that’ position, it does highlight what an excellent cameraman of bear activity he was. This is something that is often overlooked. I guess that it doesn’t go hand in hand with the criticism that many people like to apply to Treadwell.

“Live by the sword, die by the sword” may be a cliche but it’s apt. Timothy Treadwell spent a fair portion of his life living his dream only that dream turned to a nightmare from which he never awoke.

Blackfish (2013)

If The Bridge was depressing then Blackfish gives it a good run for its money. An interview with one of the victim’s girlfriend is particularly harrowing.

Blackfish details the history of whales, specifically killer whales, in captivity (Specifically at SeaWorld sites around the globe) and from the beginning it’s painful to learn how they suffered. As a consequence people suffered too, not least the boyfriend of the interviewed girlfriend already mentioned.

There’s footage of one of the performers being toyed with by an orca which is incredibly scary… but, thanks in part to his diving experience and calmness, he survived.

The consequences of this film have been felt far and wide. SeaWorld ended its Orca breeding programme and claimed that it would phase out live shows. This hasn’t happened yet… or maybe it has given a certain global pandemic!

Super Size Me (2004)

The funny thing about this film is that, all it achieved (For me anyway) was to make me crave chicken nuggets… which I don’t think was the point!

Morgan Spurlock spends a month eating only from McDonalds and taking the super size option whenever it’s offered to him. We see the effect that this has on his health and meet some characters along the way, like the guy who only eats burgers!

Also worth watching are another Morgan Spurlock effort, Pom Wonderful, Finding Vivian Maier, Man on Wire, Searching for Sugarman and The Game of Their Lives (The one about the North Korean football team).

Look out for some more (Possibly less depressing) film recommendations soon!

A New Dawn!

It made sense to do so. It was basically all I ever spoke about! Poor unsuspecting victims would find themselves having to listen to my views on how to transform international cricket whilst realising that they had no way of escaping. I decided to start writing a blog as a way of getting my opinions off my chest with like minded individuals. This would possibly save those around me from having to endure a moan about a Yorkshire defeat, Ashes humbling or duck of my own at the weekend.

I was fortunate enough that a few kind souls regularly followed, liked and even commented on my thoughts… and there were many thoughts!

Around the time of the first UK Lockdown, I commenced a new football (Soccer) themed blog but in truth that struggled to get off the ground. In hindsight, I could possibly have started a less cricket dominated blog originally (That way I wouldn’t now have three blogs!) but like I say, it was all I ever spoke about.

My interests stretch far beyond cricket however. There’s football as mentioned and other sports too. I also enjoy reading… about cricket and football but also about many other things, mainly non-fiction. Hiking is another hobby of mine and like everybody, I’ll surely discover more interests as time passes.

I recently managed to watch a couple of films that I’ve been waiting to watch since I received the DVDs (Yes, DVDs!) a couple of Christmases ago. It’s not easy to find the time when you’ve got two children! I really enjoyed watching them and like the wide variety (Well, widish!) of books that I read, wish to share my thoughts and recommendations with people.

And so we arrive at a new blog. One that will feature my thoughts on cricket, football, film, literature and many other things. Such will be the variety of content that should you generously choose to follow me, you may see an article in your Reader and think “When did I sign up for this ?!”. If you followed because you enjoyed an extreme survival story book review then suddenly find an article about the England cricket team (In which you have no interest!) pop up before your eyes, then I apologise… though it’ll be your own fault and you can’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Please bear with me as I get up and running. None of the blog templates seem as straight forward as my original now defunct one that I use for my cricket blog. I also think that part of the reason that my football alternative didn’t take off is because everything linked to my cricket blog. I hope that everything will now bring you back… here!

All content will be my own. I’ll likely link to film trailers, songs and sports clips (Okay, so content won’t be my own) but any thoughts and images will be. I’m not on any social media which will remain my staple excuse for having so few followers!

Thank you so much for accidentally and probably regrettably stumbling upon my latest attempt at taking over the world and happy blogging… or/and following!

Paul… from the Planet Paul