Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Review: The Tiger and the Wolf

I feel like I've been lazy in catching up with reviewing books here. It's not that I'm not reading much (I'm up to 12 so far this year, which isn't bad) but more that with a focus on study going on I've been reading more "comfort food" books, literary popcorn, if you like, and often can't think of much to say about it other than "yep, that was a book that I read". I'm looking at you, The Dresden Files series. I have, however, been saving Adrian Tchaikovsky's The Tiger and the Wolf until after my most recent exam, so I give some proper attention. Long-time readers (or listeners of Dissecting Worlds) will know I was a big fan The Shadows of the Apt series, and after a couple of stand alone novels that promise of another long-running series was something I was really looking forward to. Oh, and can we acknowledge that the cover  (left) is really impressive and striking too? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

TV Review: The Night Manager

Its odd how little British TV we watch these days. There is Doctor Who, obviously, but outside of that very little of what appears on the screen in our house is from the UK. I'm not entirely sure why - certainly there are a lot of British actors on our screen, just, it seems, in US shows. Instincitvely it feels like something has gone wrong; that the  preconception my generation grew up with the British TV was the best in the world has been usurped by the dastardly Yanks and their HBOs and Showtimes. Its not to say that I'm not on the lookout for some up-market British Drama - And Then There Were None was a high-light of the Xmas season, and now we have a similiarly high-class adaptation of John Le Carre's The Night Manager, starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

TV Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt, Season 2

It's just over a year ago that I wrote up the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt, which I liked so much I ended playing a character based on her in a superhero role-playing game. The accelerated pace of watching shows on Netflix doesn't translate to the other side of the camera, however, so we still had to wait pretty much a full year for it's second season to arrive. The show was originally commissioned for US network TV, but then moved to Netflix, and the second season shows the hallmarks of that change - slightly longer run-times, a more serialised structure - but at heart it's the same Kimmy that anyone who watched it came to love last year. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

DVD of the Week: Mockingjay, Part 2

So here we are at last, as The Hunger Games trilogy closes off with it's fourth movie. Yes, yet again  the final adaptation on a series of films has been cut in half, alledgelly because there is just so much story, but really because they want everyone to pay twice. I reviewed the first half a while back, and pretty much liked it, with the caveat that I'd need to see Mockingjay Part 2 to really form a proper verdict. This weekend I got to see it, and indeed form a verdict, and that verdict, sadly, is pretty much "meh". 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

It's strange how conversations on the "geek internet" create consensus around movies, or franchises, and how bubbled that can get. We decree movies as "success" or "failure" on different metrics than say, studios, or wider audiences, and the driving need to get a distinctive opinion out there means that we have to sort films into "love" or "hate" with little room for just sort of liking something. And it means that a film like Avengers: Age of Ultron, which made a lot of money, was a lot of fun and generally pretty well received, is now commonly described as "dissapointing" or a "failure". (There's another film, out now, which I could reference but i won't, because I've not seen it and there is enough bandwagon jumping on that front as it is). AoU clearly struggles under it's franchise obligations, and I liked it well enough, although it left a worrying sense that it was all going in a troubling direction. Leave it Captain America: Civil War to save the day.

Friday, April 29, 2016

TV Review: Better Call Saul

I wonder if Better Call Saul is the best TV show no-one else I know seems to be watching. Remember how everyone seemed to catch up with Breaking Bad once it acheived some sort of pop-cultural breakout (I remember more than on SF-focused website claiming it was "Science Fiction" because of y'know, chemistry, and covering it for the hits) but this series, nominally a prequal, seems to have generated far less attention.  In some ways I understand this, as BCS has a less obvious hook, being the story of a small time con-man-cum-lawyer and his search for...whatever it is Jummy McGill is searching for. But it's a truely fantastic show, and if you've any taste for finely written drama, you should be tuning in. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

DVD of the Week: Pride

It's strange to think of the 1980s as "history". As I commented when I was talking about Deutschland '83, the 1980s is my childhood - the music, the telly, the politics and look, I'm not that bloody old! But it's completely alien to Ewan, for instance, to talk about Nuclear War, or in the case of this weeks movie Pride, the struggle for Gay Rights, or the Miners Strike. The former, I must admit, I was only dimly aware of until I got to university, but with the Durham Coalfield to the North and the Yorkshire Pits to the South, the latter pretty much local news even in the death of the Teeside Steel Industry was the more immediate to my family. But even without that direct awareness, I do suspect it was all slightly less cosy than this film offers.