Monday, September 30, 2013

Movie Review: Rush

I have to admit that sports movies are a genre that pass me by. I'm sure there are some good ones out there, but as someone who has never really been into any sport more than a passing amount, its never going to be something that I see on a trailer and think "gosh! I must see that!". Formula One is also something I've never had more than a passing interest in. My Grandad was a big fan - he taped them all on VHS for rewatching and if one was on when there was visiting we were invisible to him, as I recall - so I picked up some interest there in the late 80s, and I've seen a few modern Grand Prix if they've been on, but really...not my thing. So, a movie set in F1's 1976 season, centered on a rivalry between two men whose names are only vaguely familiar? Of course that would end up being one of the best films I've seen this year.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: This Book is Full of Spiders

Or to give it the full title, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It.

So, my name is Matt, and I am an Arachnophobic.  Spiders really freak me out, in a way that pretty much nothing else does; just watching them move makes me recoil in horror. Z had to hold my hand through parts of The Return of the King, for instance, and vanquishing even the smallest crawling horror in the bathroom can feel like a major, storming-the-beachheads triumph. Whatever my rational self things, a large part of primitive monkey-man me views them as freaky aliens that have no right to live on this planet. So, reading a book who's plot involves parasitic aliens spiders that turn nest in your head and turn you into a monster may not have been the smartest thing rational me ever did.

Monday, September 23, 2013

DVD of the Week: Flight

I'm growing quite fond of my "aca-scuse me?" tag, which i'm using to denote films that turn out to be better than they have any right to be on paper. Its an odd phenomenon, where a big sack of cinematic cliches can be elevated by cast, or script, or direction, into something much better, just as it's opposite ("Wolfpunching") can take a potentially great sounding idea and render it something much less fun than it should be. The latest example of this is, of course, this weeks DVD of the Week, Flight, or the Best Damn TV Movie You'll Ever See.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Box Set Blues: New Girl, Series One

On of the biggest changes in my viewing habits of the last year or so has been my rekindled love of US sitcoms; a form of comedy that we seem to have forgotten in the UK for now. Sure, they can be pretty formulaic, but they also tend to be consistent, character driven and above all, actually funny, so I'm always on the look for new series with decent reputations to pickup. We're still missing a few but one of the big break-out hits in the US of the last year or so has been Zooey Deschanel vehicle New Girl, which we picked up the first series of recently on DVD.

Monday, September 16, 2013

DVD of the Week: Dark Shadows

Anyone remember when Tim Burton was an interesting filmmaker? Anyone? I mean, what was the last really stand out movie he made, one that because a must see, something you'd watch over and over? These days it seems like it's just another excuse for Johnny Depp to don a silly costume and mug his way through two-hours of gothic-inflected pantomine. So the lastest movie on the Burton/Depp oeuvre is Dark Shadows, based on a 1970s TV show that I don't think was ever very big over here, but, in fairness, seems perfect territory for them. And in fairness, there are some glimmers of that old magic here and there.

Monday, September 9, 2013

DVD of (Last) Week: The Dark Knight Returns; Part 1

Since the end of Justice League: Unlimited, the animated division of Warner Bros seem be putting more of their effort into letting us see their top-flight characters in the guise of adaptations of already-successful stories. Certainly the big boys were sidelined through most of Young Justice's run, and The Brave and the Bold seemed pitched at a very different demographic, and the run of DVD-movie adaptations feels like a way of selling to the converted with stories that are already written and known. Not that thats a bad thing, of course, because there are already stories that have survived some contact with the readership, and a chance to revisit some classics.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Games Review: Sanctum 2

A couple of years back I played a fair bit of the curious FPS/Tower Defense game Sanctum, which had the novel mechanic that you built your maze and towers in one phase of the game, and then got to run around with a variety of weaponry in a phase when the monsters actually spawned. It was a cool idea, nicely implemented, but had an oddly clinical, characterless air to it that left it feeling slightly samey after a while, and I don't recall ever finishing it. That said it got a sequel, Sanctum 2, and I finished that, last night.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: The Devil in the White City

One of the problems I seem to have is that keep losing track of books that I want to read. I already have a pile (both physical and on my Kindle) of books I want to read, and a wishlist, and then a nebulous cloud of intent for other books that I've come across and put down with the thought of "Oh, I'll come back to that!". Many books sit in this cloud for years, popping in and out of my memory until something spurs me to yank it down and into a current reading project. One of these is The Devil in the White City, the intertwined tale of he Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and H H Holmes, one of the earliest documented American Serial Killers. After picking it up in Waterstones a couple of times before setting it down again, it was (of all things) an article in which it was cited as a large influence (right down to the name) on the setting of Bioshock Infinite that made me finally read it. So don't let be said that Video Games can't broaden the mind!