Thursday, April 30, 2015

DVD of the Week: Nightcrawler

Since our bad experience with the somewhat painful A Million Ways to Die in the West  (spoiler: one of them is probably "being forced to watch comedy movies that aren't actually funny") we've had a few weeks off Saturday Night Movie Night. In fairness I can't blame it on that film, more that we started on Daredevil, and then Z wouldn't actually let me watch anything else until we'd burned through it. Not that I'm complaining, because Daredevil was ace, but we do now have quite the additional backlog of films and telly to catch up with. First off the grid this week was Nightcrawler, whose dark and sinister tone fit right in alongside the dark and sinister adventures we'd just seen in Hells Kitchen. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

TV Review: Marvel's Daredevil

One of things that all the current crop of superhero shows - an ever increasing list, looking forward to next autumn - is that they all seem to want to stay safely middle-of-the-road. Most of them wear their superheroic costumes over well-established formats - The Flash's "freak of the week", Arrow's soap operatic character work, Gotham's crime procedural roots - and for the most part it works pretty well for them. And why shouldn't they? After all, "comics" isn't a genre, it's a format, and it's adaptations would do well to remember that. But the other thing they have in common is that by and large they're staying mass market, middle-of-the-road sort of shows on major networks. It wasn't until Netflix picked up Daredevil that we would see a superhero show wearing it's costume over a different sort of skin, that of the "quality, cable" end of the spectrum. So it was always going to be something a little bit different. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Movie Review: Furious 7

With a couple of days off last week to keep an eye on Ewan, I was keen to get him out of the house for a few hours. He's reached that age where all he seems to want to do it keep to himself, watching youtube videos or playing DOTA2, or occasionally both. After a couple of weeks off, I was starting to get worried he'd forgotten what the outdoors looked like, and was in danger of turning into some sort of 21st Century version of Gollum, clutching his Chromebook and muttering gaming slang to himself. So, to the movies, which involved a dangerous few minutes in the sunlight before the safety of a darkened theatre was reached, lured by Popcorn and the promise of Furious 7.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

TV Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt

Its a strange thing, that just as social media is driving us back to the idea of all watching TV "together" again, party to avoid ever present spoilers, but partly just because of the joys of a massive conversation about it, streaming giant Netflix is pioneering the "drop"; releasing a whole series on one massive lump. It's great if you've got a weekend to binge on something, of course, but what it has meant is our shared experience is still pretty fragmented as we all find our own way to watch a series at our own pace, dodging spoilers as we go. The recent release of Daredevil is a great example - 13 hours of TV that some people will still be watching in 12 weeks time, and some people finished the first day. It is a great strategy for creating "buzz" though, as social media - and this driven a lot by social media - can light up for a week or so as a series is consumed. So I'm catching up on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt long after that buzz has faded, although we've only just got through it's initial run of 13 episodes. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Curse You Can Never Be Free Of.

I don't know if anyone noticed but they snuck out a new trailer for the next Star Wars movie last night. 

 The general response to it has been pretty positive, which is odd in a lot of ways given we were all very excited to see the similarly well put together trailer for The Phantom Menace way back in the 1990s. OK, so this has the Millenium Falcon in it, so it's all going to be OK, right? 

Here's the thought, and it's longer than 140 characters so it's here not on Twitter. My reaction to the trailer is hugely positive - I mean, that opening shot is immense and lovely, and John Williams score pretty much exists to make you feel something whether you want to or not - but there is not weight to it, deliberately so, because they're so keen to give nothing away. But I reacted, deep down, with proper, choked up emotion. 

So what I realise is this - I will never, ever, be free of Star Wars. It's not the best film I've seen, its not the Greatest Film ever made - sorry, it's just not,and neither is The Empire Strike Back - but so much of my childhood has it embedded in it, I can never shake it. It's the first film I ever loved, and the imagery and music that is distinctly Star Wars taps into that so much. I can never escape it, because the scream of a TIE Fighter, or the buzz of a Lightsaber will always take me back there. 

As a final comment, I think that's why the prequels attract so much hate, disproportionate to their crimes. They're only movies, and they shouldn't mean that much to people, but they do. Its not rational. I'm not rational about it.

So I'm going to watch this again, and feed my inner 8-year-old.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

First Impressions: Thunderbirds Are Go!

When I was a kid, Thunderbirds was already a "thing, because old as I am, I'm not that old. Airing originally in 1965 and 1966, it saw revivals every couple of years, it seemed, and I loved it. There was - is - something about the miniature work that transcends it's slightly twitchy effects, something deep in the design of the vehicles and the secret Bond-Villian-esque Tracy Island, and roaming missions that International Rescue get sent on. I can't now, but that was a time I could tell you which vehicle was in which one of Thunderbird 2's pods, and countless more pointless facts that I stored in the space of my brain I now use for Star Wars trivia. I've never seen the 2004 Hollywood adaption, because I'd heard so many bad things I didn't want to spoil those memories, but I had to have a look at the new sort-of-puppet, sort-of-CGI series that just premiered. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review: Hide and Seek / Tooth and Claw / Strip Jack

A few years back I ran through a year of reading crime and detective fiction, to see how I enjoyed the genre. I started way back with Wilkie Collins The Moonstone, and through the Golden Age of murders in country houses, all the way up to the modern, serial killer dominated, modern era. I really enjoyed it, as an exercise, and ended up with a bunch of authors I wanted to go back to. But there's always another series to read, I guess, and I only read about 20-25 books a year at the moment, so squeezing them in is a problem. However, when casting around on social media for inspiration for something to read next, I was reminded of Ian Rankin, whose Knots and Crosses I'd really enjoyed, and so picked up the second Rebus novel - Hide and Seek - for the kindle as my next read. I've since read two more, one after the other. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

DVD of the Week: A Million Ways to Die in the West

Look, I know I said I'd try and review as much as possible this year but I don't want to waste anyone's time. A Million Ways to Die in the West has a decent central idea and a cast that should be funny, but its far too long (seriously, it felt like it went on for ever), telegraphs every joke, and to be honest, just isn't funny.

Go about your business, people. Nothing to see here. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

TV Review: The Musketeers, Series 2

I don't think I ever got around to writing up my thoughts on the BBC's swashbuckling Sunday night adventure series, The Musketeers, but what I thought was this - gosh, that was a lot of fun. I mean, it took a while to get going, and was anchored as much in fun performances than anything else, and couldn't quite make its mind up as to how serious it wanted to be, but I liked it and was glad it was renewed. Not only was it renewed, but it's also gone on a bit of a wander around the schedules, moving to Fridays and being interrupted for 6 Nations Rugby and Comic Relief. But second series are often a truer indicator of what a show wants to be, so lets check in with it now.