Gosh it has been a while since I got anything down here, but life, as they say, barrels onwards towards the existential horror of the Heat Death of the Universe, or something like that. We've been busy, and one of the things I wanted to get down on (virtual) paper was mine and Ewan's experience at our first competitive gaming tournament, an X-Wing Miniatures Game Regional held at IQ Gaming in Huddersfield last weekend. Neither of us have done anything like this before, so it was with some trepidation we found ourselves in a 3-storey building full of gaming tables and about 130 competitors. So here's how I got on.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
It's almost getting to the point where the release of a new Marvel Studios Movie is greeted with a wave of reviews that almost copy/pasted from the last one, along with the usual barrage of "hot takes". After all, Doctor Strange is the fourteenth film in the MCU, a movie franchise with patterns just as strongly established as say, James Bond, so to an extent if you like the others (to lesser or greater degrees) you can be confident you'll like this, and vice versa. Marvel has a process, and a template, that it know works, and it's not going to change those fundamentals until it can be demonstrated that they don't work. Maybe this sounds defensive, but it's not supposed to - I like the MCU films, I get out of them what I want from them, but at the same time much of the commentary around is superfluous, unless something radically differnet happens. And Doctor Strange isn't radically different, not really, attempted appearances to the contrary.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
One of the reasons I keep this blog is that I have a record of what I thought about something in the immediate period after experiencing it. I find it useful and interesting to flick back because I can think of a lot of Books, Films, or other media that I've grown to dislike through memory or social influence, and others where they've lived with me for a long time, making me appreciate them more. It's also just a useful channel for my urge to "talk about stuff" lets me get it out of my head and move on a little bit. I guess that's the diarists main driver, even if this is (mostly) limited to cultural consumption. Anyway, on the reading front I've been heavily distracted by Stephen King's The Dark Tower series (now on Book 5!) but here's a quick run down of what I've been reading as refreshers in between.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
One of the games I was most looking forward to on the PS4 was Arkham Knight, which I'd avoided on the PC due to it's extremely buggy release state. I'm sorry to say that it's a crushing dissapointment, deciding quite deliberately to move away from what was fun the earlier games - hanging around on rooftops being Batman - towards being an underwhelming Batmobile driving simulator and anti-tank shooting simulator. What good ideas and execution it has is lost on constantly being forced to use a bloody car that is no fun to use, and in the end I gave up in disgust, a sad end to a pretty great series. On the plus side, I've been playing a lot of Destiny, which I'm finding pretty damn great.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Last week we caught a rewatch of the Coen Brothers rather excellent Hail, Caesar, which is probably best described as a quirky take on the Hollywood of the late 1940s and early 1950s, if that era was telling the story itself. It's sharp, and tongue-in-cheek and I suspect there is a lot of gags I don't get at the expense of Hollywood fixtures of the period, although I certainly got a few, not least thanks to the excellent You Must Remember This podcast which covers the period. In a serendipidous moment, the movie we had for this week also covers the same period, that of the Blacklist, and the late "Golden Age", Trumbo.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
I'm pretty wary about Disneys new "big idea" to go back and remake it's animated classics as live action pictures. I guess it's a decent way to keep these legacy properties (and their relevant merchandise) in the public eye, and it's easy to market to adults likely to bring their kids along due to nostalgia for the originals. But Alice in Wonderland was rubbish, and Cinderella was workmanlike, and now they've done The Jungle Book with realistic looking animals (mostly) and if it wasn't for the fact it got actually decent reviews I don't think I'd have bothered with it on principle. That said, I do have a nostalgic fondest for the original and I do have kids, so at the very least that part of the plan worked for Disney.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Finally! Despite a strong temptation to rewatch Hail Caesar! we got our act together and after much procrastination, finally got around to Straight Outta Compton. I would be the first to admit that the rise of NWA and West-Coast Rap totally passed me by, being a white, middle-class kid from the North East of England, and not the sort of one who ever felt to need to pretend they were "street" either. I was aware of it, of course, and even listened to some of it, but deep down I'd have been hard pushed to tell my Ice Cube from my Vanilla Ice (as a totally different song goes!), never mind have any real grasp on the byzantine web of rivalries and relationships that seemed to be behind it all. So, does the movie shed any light on this and convert me over to the scene?
Friday, September 23, 2016
We've had Straight Out of Compton sat on our coffee table for about six weeks now. I really want to see it, but things keep getting in the way - usually other movies that I'd rather see more, or on occassion just a desire to see something lighter or more comfortable than I imagine it to be. Maybe this week, but maybe not, especially with Strictly Come Dancing being back this week. I know, I know. Anyhow, this week a film I've wanted to see since it was announced dropped through the letter box - Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J G Ballard's High-Rise. Ambitious, but full of acting talent and from a director with good past form, this was something I really had to see.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
I had a strange thought coming out of Kubo and the Two Strings, the latest glorious stop-motion picture out of Laika, which is that it is strange that we are currently seeing more emotional depth coming out of movies obstensively aimed at children, than those aimed at broader, older audiences. I like my blockbusters, but they're really, really ephemeral, so much that we sometimes talk about the Planet of the Apes films as "smart blockbusters" because they at least attempt to acknowledge the existance of actual ideas, but largely multiplex fodder is just that. What they rarely are is about stuff, apparently content to leave that field for the winter season oscar contenders and, strangely enough, kids movies.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
One of the big downsides of the PS4 is the need to pay for Playstationplus if I want to get online and play Overwatch or Destiny. Grrr. However, this bitter pill is sweetened somewhat by the monthly provision of free games to subscribers, which is actually a pretty cool idea. Each month I've subscribed I've got a couple of free games just for being a subscriber, ranging from small indie puzzlers to larger releases. It's an eclectic mix of choices, to be sure, and some of them will be rubbish (or of no interest) but others are big titles from earlier times. This month, one of the titles is the lauded PS3 indie Journey, which I'd previously missed out on. And now it was free!
Monday, September 12, 2016
One of the two movies we got to watch on Saturdays quiet day around the house was Captain America: Civil War, which irrespective how much I like it - and I do like it a lot - is very much a modern blockbuster in many of it's habits. It's franchise-dependant, hugely expensive, full of shouting and banging and tons of characters and colour and excitement. Yay! And then Robert went to bed, and Ewan went to lurk off upstairs, and got to watch the other one, the low-budget, three-cast stop-motion movie Anomalisa. I'm struggling to think of a stranger double bill.
Friday, September 2, 2016
Just because I have a PS4, it's not to say I've totally abandoned my trusty PC. Z and I are still playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, for starters, but I've also got a stack of unplayed games on my Steam account, and the PC gaming ecosystem is just so much more diverse than the console one. Also the Teenager is playing a lot of Overwatch in the lounge, so there is that, too. So away from the big and flashy excitement of the PS4, I've still be dabbling in the smaller, shorter gems I've not really got around to yet, and this is one of them.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
My only real aspiration for this blog is to be my own small corner of the internet where I can record my thoughts on the meandering cultural journeys I end up taking through screen and page. I don't have to worry about posting frequency, or if my opinions are half-formed rubbish, because they're mine, and this gives me something to look back on. Sometimes I surprise myself, looking back, at how kind, or mean, I was to something. Anyway, the point is that it's been a rough summer, all told, and so this has dropped off a little bit, so it's time for a bit of an epic catch-up on movies we've seen recently. Here we go.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Nine Worlds has only been around for a couple of years (this is it’s third, i think) but it’s made a splash in that time with a reputation of accessibility, inclusivity and taking a different approach to fandom than many traditional cons. It’s aimed at everyone, but feels representative of the younger, more demographically diverse side of modern fandom, an attempt to move away from the gatekeeping and monoculture that the con scene can get a reputation for (fairly or not). This is our first trip to Nine Worlds - a pair of early-forties straight cisgender geeks, coming to see what the fuss is about.
Friday, August 19, 2016
We were a couple of weeks late to the Stranger Things party (although it's nice to see it's still carrying on even now) because it's initial trailers and synopsis don't look that promising. Hey, it seems to say, you remember those 80s movies you liked, a bit of Speilberg, a bit of Carpenter, a bit of Stephen King? Well we made some fan fic about kids on bikes, scary monsters suspect government men in small town America. Enjoy!. But yes, I thought, I did like those things, but I'm not sure I need more of them. It turns out, however, that I did need more of them, and Stranger Things is rather more than the sum of it parts.
Monday, August 15, 2016
As part of a build-up to an exceedingly geeky weekend at Nine Worlds Geekfest, Z and I snuck out to the cinema to see Star Trek Beyond, a movie whose initial trailer made me gnash my teeth and fanboy anger, despite all my attempts to prevent such ardent knee-jerking. It's safe to say that I've enjoyed both rebooted Trek films - I was pretty kind to Star Trek Into Darkness, looking back - but they're relentless in their attempt to push the films into slick, shallow, modern formulas, further away from the more thougthful source material. I'm not wholly against that either, as franchise need to move forward to live, to keep reengaging audiences, and become new things. I did see in that early trailer the step too far though, a line fatally crossed. Thankfully, it seems like that trailer is almost the exact opposite of the finished movie.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Well, we finally bit the bullet and bought a Playstation 4. It's a prety impressive piece of kit, too - the interface is a big step up from the PS3 in terms of getting at what you want, and its looks sleek and modern wedged under the TV waiting to collect an inevitable layer of dust. As part of the first wave of games for it, we picked up Overwatch, Blizzards answer to Team Fortress 2 and other arena-based shooters, abandoning the PC for now as it meant that we only had to buy it once and both Ewan and I could play it. Ewan, being time-rich, has played it a lot more than me, so some of this review is coloured by his assessement - I've not hit the competitive play level yet, for example.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
It's a sad fact that after a bit of a land-grab for US shows coming over the UK a couple of years back, when you could pretty much be assured of seeing everything, we've started to "lose" shows recently, presumably as they just don't pay their way. It's a bit of a vicious circle, of course, as if you wait 6 months to screen a show that would have a small, yet devoted audience, they'll have aquired it by other means by then, reducing it's audience further. Worse, some channels have bought shows and then handled them badly, burying them late at night before dropping, as fans of Orphan Black, Person of Interest, Once Upon a Time, and Justified have all found to their cost. The metrics for streaming services are different, of course, and so Netflix, Amazon and even Sky have picked up these shows to stick behind their paywalls, in a bid to make those paywalls more attractive. And so it is that iZombie finally reaches the UK, courtesy of Netflix.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Sometimes I feel like starting some sort of blog about the "Younger Me" being appalled at the sort of thing "Older Me" gets up to. I mean, for a start I've got two kids and a mid-range family car! This would probably most apply to things I've started doing in the last few years that I definately remember being "beyond the pale" when I younger and one of those is definately the Cambridge Folk Festival; several days of live music (what?), outside (what??) to cap it all off, it's Folk (WHAT???). Younger me was, I'm starting to suspect, a bit of a prat. So despite these inner protestations, we were at the Cambridge Folk Festival last weekend, and jolly good it was too. Pictures and more commentary below the cut!
Monday, July 18, 2016
I've been a bit lax on updating here in the last few weeks, as I'm running to an exam and that's eating a fair bit of my spare time. Hopefully once that's done - and the frantic summer holiday scheduling is over with - things will settle back to normal. I am, of course, still consuming a fair bit of culture, and this weekend I took the Teenager to the cinema for the first time in what seemed like ages, to go see Ghostbusters. Now, I'm a huge fan of Ghostbusters '84, which came out when I was 11, but it's also a film with a good many "of it's time" flaws and a dissapointing sequel, so it's probably no great surprise that the Remake Train eventually reached that stop. This time, they've handed it off to Paul Feig, swapped a cast of male ensemble comedians for a cast of female ensemble comedians, and raised the ire of some of the darker cesspools of the internet. On this latter point I will only say - if this film is part of your "childhood" then you're my age, right? So grow the fuck up. Right, onto the review.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
So farewell then, Penny Dreadful. Like your characters themselves, you were glorious to look at, often deeply flawed, occasionally mesmerically wonderful and always, always, mad as a box of frogs. Showtime/Sky's batty period drama has now finished at the end of it's third series, apparently at the behest of it's creator, rounding off some it's long-running characters in typically over-the-top fashion. After ending it's second season by sending it's cast off on wildly different arcs, and trying to establish some sort of wider mythology, this series focuses back a little, understandably, on the shows core, and makes a game effort to tie it all up neatly. But does it?
Thursday, June 30, 2016
There's a surprising amount of anime on Netflix, we discovered recently. It's not always the most up to date, and it's not the deepest of catalogues compared to dedicated services such as Crunchyroll, but certainly more than I expected to find given the sparsity of shows coming over to the UK that aren't spin offs from kids video games. It obviously does quite well on Netflix's viewing stats, too, because they've commissioned their own anime-esque show, albeit one aimed slightly younger, and based on one of the great legacy properties from the 1980s - Voltron: Legendary Defender. Now I've seen very little of the original Voltron, but like many a 90s anime fan probably picked up most of the beats through watching the wave of mech-anime that was the fashion at the time. But as a family with viewing tastes well disposed towards Giant Robots fighting, we were on this pretty quickly.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
I didn't write it up, but last week we watched the recent movie of The Man From UNCLE, a film that can be best be summed as "Okay". I mean, it's fine - functional, inoffensive, but like it's two leading men, hopelessly bland and short of the necesary charm or wit to really make it work. There is a moment in where Hugh Grant turns up and effortlessly outshines everone else and I suddenly realised what was missing. Anyhow, enough of that, because this week we watched another movie set around the Cold War, spies, and even the Berlin Wall, but it really couldn't be more different in nearly every way. After missing it at the cinema, I finally got to see Steven Speilberg's Bridge of Spies.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
And so we come to the end of this year's DC TV Universe Review Extravaganza! Four shows from the CW/CBS stable, three in the same world, and one, because it's on a "grown up" network, out on it's own barring a single crossover. Because yes, one of these shows jumped from the smaller network on a Major Network, building off the success of it's predecessors and presumably hoping that it can make it as a breakout hit. It's an interesting choice of lead character too; an all too rare female lead; a character that a wider audience may not be aware of, but part of hugely popular brand. I'm talking, of course, about Supergirl, cousin that grumpy guy that was up on cinema screens not so long ago.
Monday, June 20, 2016
I think it's fair to say that expectations were running pretty high for Legends of Tomorrow, a full spin-off of both The Flash and Arrow incorporating supporting characters from both, running around time and space. Both their parent shows spent a good amount of time setting it all up to, introducing both it's primary villian, Vandal Savage, and moving it's existing cast members into the right places to picked up in it's opening episodes by
suspiciously bearded Rory Pond Rip Hunter and send off on a grand adventure. Sadly, and maybe inevitably, Legends of Tomorrow stutters throughout it's run, sitting in that slight frustrating zone of always being watchable but always falling short of it's true potential. Spoilers under the cut, naturally.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
I feel that I let myself down slightly this year on holiday, as I only managed to get through two books in the week we were away. In my defense we did fill the time with a lot of activity, including (but not limited to) Laser Tag, Quad Biking, a lot of boardgaming and ice cream. All good stuff. But in between all of that I did manage to get in two books, one of which I've been meaning to read for years, and don't have any real excuse for avoiding, and the other I'd not got around thanks to the terrible pirate movie of the same name. But I've read them now, and really enjoyed both, so lets talk a bit about them.
Monday, June 13, 2016
It took me a long time for me to find a game in the long-running and oft-rebooted Tomb Raider franchise before I found a game I really liked, with the recent do-over called, unsurprisingly Tomb Raider. The story Lara before she really gets into the Raiding of Tombs (and a game which features very few Tombs to Raid!), I really liked it back in 2013 and was really looking forward to it's inevitable follow up. And, after a period of being one of those horrible console exclusives on the XBOne, Rise of the Tomb Raider finally made it to PC and has eaten up most of my free gaming time over the last month of so. Does it, as I hoped, build on the last game? Do we get Tombs to Raid? Well, yes, on both counts.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
It feels like ages since I reviewed a movie here, although looking back it's only been about a month since the dissapointing Mockingjay Part 2. We got heavily derailed by The Hollow Crown, I guess, which is no bad thing. But it was nice to get back to it this weekend with Mr Holmes, yet another take on Sherlock Holmes, who never seems to go out of fashion, nor ways to be reinvented. Mr Holmes is an adaptation of a book called "A Slight Trick of the Mind", which I've never read, and from the outside it's looks to be a showcase for Ian McKellen and the sort of small budget awards/festival fodder that can be a little hit and miss. Thankfully, Mr Holmes is mostly hit.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
So we reach that time of the year when the US TV Season draws to a close, and all the imported shows start to finish at once in a blaze of finales and cliffhangers. Exciting, but also daunting, as the long summer stretches out in front of us, although we're so behind on some shows we've got enough catching up to do. And iZombie just dropped onto Netflix, so there's that too. We've struggled to keep up with the superhero shows this year, as there are just so many of them, not least four - four! - from the CW stable (yes I know Supergirl is on CBS but it's the same production house) in what is an increasingly ambitious TV shared-universe. With both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow on their first season I'll talk about them separately, but it feels fair to wrap up the other two together. So how are things with The Flash, and The (Green) Arrow?
Friday, May 27, 2016
I'm starting to wonder if the current vogue for strongly narrative shows is a bit of a double edged sword. For dedicated fans, and those of us on the catch-up/box set lifestyle, it's great, because you see everything in order, and it's allowed shows at the top end - your Breaking Bads, and Fargos - to create strongly constructed and gripping series. But on the other hand, you get shows without strong, clear stories to tell that can chew through narrative at an alarming rate without really going anywhere, a paradox that can be frustrating to watch and one I suspect I'll talk about more when I've finished with The Flash and Arrow this year. It's also a problem that seems to be befall the third season of Orphan Black, which recently dropped onto Netflix just before it's fourth season started to roll out too. It's a good season, but a slightly frustrating one (mild spoilers).
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Right, time for another quick catch-up round. This time it driven more by the fact that these are three movies that I don't really have a lot to say about, but for completeness, here they are. They're all fine; they've all got merit, but at the same time they each in their own way won't be to everyone's taste, and perhaps are lacking that extra but that would take them over the line. So without further ado, lets get into it.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Quick catch-up time for two shows that finished their second series in the last week or so. I'm afraid it's heading into that time of year where season finales start to snowball up, and even keeping up is getting difficult. At least Star Wars Rebels is on a Saturday morning, and we watch it with the kids, so it doesn't come out of "grown up TV time". It's interesting to see both seasons change and build on their respective firsts, and whilst I'm a lot more confident of seeing more Rebels than seeing more Agent Carter (dammit) they both build solid foundations to go forward with. So lets start with the LA adventures of Peggy Carter, shall we?
Monday, April 4, 2016
It's funny how fans can affect your perception of a character. For example, I've never had any time for The Punisher, despite hardly reading a single issue of a comic he's in, largely because way back in the day I knew a couple of big Punisher Fans who put me off him. Their genuine enthuiasm usually translated into a love for a character because of sweary ultra-violence, a one note bullet-hose of a character who didn't have any truck with "softer" heroes, and even back then I was never really into that sort of thing. I've always liked my heroes, well, heroic. Still do. So I may have been one of the few fans of Daredevil Season 1 who wasn't looking forward to his appearance in Season 2 with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Yeah, so I was wrong.
Friday, April 1, 2016
In the interests of catching up on my watching, it's a double header review this week, with two pretty contrasting movies. I like it when that happens, to honest, because whilst TV-land has become a barrage of superhero fare I'm starting to struggle to distinguish between, at least my movie-watching fare is remaining diverse and interesting. I'm going to spend a lot more time on Brooklyn than Penguins of Madagascar, but the latter is included here for completeness, and because it's actually OK, as far as these things go. But first, the properly good film!
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
This weekend was the weekend that Social Media seemed to go (more) insane over a Comic Book Movie and whether it was right/wrong to like/dislike it. On one level the response to Batman v Superman has been fascinating, and on another it's been eye-wateringly stupid. I look forward now to months of pointless, circular arguments raging about it, lit only by the buring of Strawmen, illuminating nothing and no-one. Thankfully, I haven't seen it, so you are spared my thoughts on it for now. Instead, we took the kids (including the teenager, who preferred this to the chance to see BvS, go figure!) to see Disney's latest offering, Zootropolis.
Monday, March 21, 2016
One of the continuing entertainments of our house is the gaming shelf, which continues to provide entertainment for the long, wet afternoons of the winter, and consequently keeps providing more opportunities to spend money on board games. Hooray! Not helping is the recent discovery of a local games club, too, which seems full of freindly gamers of all ages at a convient time, even if we're not managing to get there every week. But still, more games, which is a win for us. Our main criteria is currently games that all of us can play (Robert with help, obviously) with a decent replayability factor, and I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that two of the three games I'm about to talk about are co-operative, even if the other really, really, isn't. So, here we go.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
I think it's safe to say I'm a pretty die-hard fan of the Coen Brothers and a new film from them is always a cause for celebration. I love then in part because they seem to pretty much do what they want, moving from blood-soaked dramas, to light comedy, and picking up all sorts of other genres to play in along the way. They've had occasional misfires for sure - although I don't always agree with critical consensus about which films those misfires actually are - but even the Intolerable Cruelty's of this world I've found interesting and entertaining. This year we are back with farce after the excellent Inside Llwellyn Davis, alighting on the Hollywood of 1951, in Hail, Caesar!
Friday, March 11, 2016
Sometimes you can see the shape of a film in the first ten or twenty minutes, as it sets out its characters and central themes and you go "oh, right it's that story". It goes back to the old idea that there are only a few sorts of tales (actually that hasn't gone around the web for a while, so we're probably due an out break of "Disney Princesses as Joseph Campell Archetypes" or something) but is also rooted in the viewers familiarity with story structure. Sometimes, however, a film can pivot from one to the other, leaving you excited or breathless, or just confused. I was left wondering about this after watching Sicario, which goes somewhere unexpected in it's third act and I'm still not totally sure what I think of that.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
I was 10 years old in 1983. It seems hard to believe these days - especially if you're of a younger generation - but back then we didn't worry so much about global warming or post-capitalism or many of the things that we worry about now, but instead worried about the last flowering of the Cold War, of Nuclear Armaggeddon just around the corner. The inevitability of this conflict seeped into any vision of the future you cared to mention; even ones that weren't blasted landscapes assumed, as a matter of course, that some sort of nuclear exchange would happen, because a future where we decided not to launch the missiles just seemed so outlandish. So it's been a fascinating journey back to that time whilst watching Deutschland '83.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Neill Blomkamp burst onto the conciousness of the average cinema going geek (like me) with the all-round excellent District 9, a smart, well designed movie that started as a thinly veiled allegory for apartheid-era South Africa and turned into a roaring, battle-suit driven action film. It's the sort of movie that gets you excited not only because it's damn good, but because as the breakout movie of a new talent you can't wait to see what they do next. What he did next, of course, was the dissapointing Elysium, which layered on the heavy-handed allegory and really struggled to be any sort of coherent thing in the end. Expectations corrected, he now has a third film, Chappie, about a police robot acheiving sentience. So, how does that fare?
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
We like a good procedural cop show in our house, even if they're increasingly all the same. One is a cop, one isn't, but has a wacky side skill! They Fight Crime!. Gruesome murder, red herrings, it's usually the second character you're introduced to, job done. The joy, then, is the casts rapport, the quality of the gimmick and how much you enjoy spending time the company of the show. We've watched quite a few, and generally enjoy them, and they make a nice relaxing hour before bed sort of show for us, so we've usually got one on the go, and keep an eye out for more. Our most recent obsession has, surprisingly, not been set in modern-day America, but rather 1920s Australia, Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Movie Comedy feels like it's in a wierd place at the moment. It's easy to look back and claim it's worse now, mostly because most of the unfunny dross of earlier ages are easily forgotten, but at the same time I rarely see a trailer for a big-budget comedy and even crack a smile. There are some great comedy movies coming from various animation houses, where every joke has to be carefully crafted years in advance, the dominant live action form seems to be the matey, semi-improvisational form that really doesn't work for me. Oddly, what has worked for me is the Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy combination, from Bridesmaids, to The Heat, and now Spy.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
So I was planning on writing up "Spy" last week in a quiet moment between bouts of half-term childcare, but instead I felt it better to come down with a stinking headcold, and yeah, that didn't happen. So I'll try and do that later this week, and this time talk about this saturdays viewing, the Guillermo del Toro helmed Crimson Peak. Expectations were high, because it's del Toro, and he's the sort of director that makes consistantly fascinating film with massive attention to detail, that then not enough people go on to watch. This time we are promised a period-set ghost story, with all the trappings.