Monday, 26 November 2007

Super-Double-Big-Score-Agent Grooviness...

Futurama: Bender's Big Score:

Praise be, "Futurama" has returned, albeit in the form of four films over the next 12 months (essentially the animated version of a TV movie, as it didn't have the flashy visuals to match The Simpson's Movie, but instead was more akin to the original show itself - ergo - animated TV movie). But that's not to bitch, far from it, because - just like the show itself - "Benders Big Score" was absolutely hilarious. While at times the gags slow down to make way for the all-important story (not sarcasm, "Family Guy" would do well to take note) but when that can take a back seat, the jokes - which were already flowing steadily - come thick & fast in a veritable deluge.

The plot is similarly entertaining, while the internet spam angle is a bit late-1990s the story is intricately woven and, true to it's sci-fi origins, folds back on itself in a mind-bending manner as the very fabric of the space-time-continuum is fiddled with to head-scratching extents.

I certainly look forward to the following three "Futurama" movies, because if they're anything like "Bender's Big Score" they're going to be leaving us all in stitches.

Superbad:

It's taken me a while to get around to seeing this Apatow-blessed coming-of-dick-joke-laden-age flick, but I was lucky enough to receive the Region 1 DVD damn near two weeks before street date - ahhh bless pre-ordering and early stocking. Anyway, not being the sort to turn a good dick-gag down, I found "Superbad" to be absolutely hilarious...I think Jonah Hill might very well have to be crowned the official dick-joke king after this performance.

I was similarly pleased to see genuine heart amidst the field of dick drawings, the central theme of two male best friends facing the daunting end to High School and the separation that University inevitably brings - something many have, are and will face in their lifetime.

Clearly, anything touched by Apatow (and likewise the superb Seth Rogen) turns to gold, and judging by the preview clip of "Pineapple Express", that too is going to leave many-a-face aching from laugh-jaw. Back to "Superbad", how on earth could you resist a film that includes a "Real Ghostbusters" lunch box filled to the brim with increasingly absurd dick-doodles?

...

Otherwise, I was proud to complete "Splinter Cell: Double Agent" the very morning that "Superbad" dropped on my door mat. Having snuck my way through it for two weeks, I was chuffed to finally complete this game. Initially I was wondering whether the purchase had been wise, as I was struggling with the joypad controls (I'd played the previous three games on the PC), but I stuck with it and was soon zipping around cracking safes and dangling from pipes over the seemingly mandatory 'glass-room-in-a-Sam-Fisher-game-bit'...although I was rather gutted there was a distinct lack of cut-scenes. The previous games were loaded with them between each mission, but in "Double Agent" there was the odd bit here and there...I guess they were trying to go for a more 'Half-life' style where it all unfolds in-game, which I guess is admirable.

Regardless, as a fan of the franchise, it was a welcome entry...even if I was rather late to the party, ha!

...

Finally, following on from recent exclamations I'd reclaimed my muse, I'm slowly following up on the claim...with thanks going to "Superbad". It re-inspired me to get on with my feature comedy script (even though they both have almost nothing in common - but that's not how inspiration works really is it). I went back and added in a few lines to one scene, and now must re-read the first act to get myself back into the mindset of the script, also re-read all my notes and really wrap my head around it all again before I proceed with the second act...but fingers crossed I've regained my muse for real!

Only time will tell...there's no point rushing and coming out with ropey-old-pish at the end.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Viva Ross Vegas...

So I'm not the sort to go 'out on the tiles', it's just not my style. The quantity of people and the whole binge drinking culture just isn't my bag. I've witnessed and experienced enough of it for my fill pretty much, but for the benefit of actually getting the chance to catch up with some long-lost friends from back-in-the-day I simply had to dive in.

I will add that I'm typing this up having literally just got back, the time is currently somewhere past 1-in-the-am ... and while to the letter of the law I would be unfit to operate a vehicle, if some psycho appeared as if from nowhere and held a gun to my head and demanded I drive him to Newport, I'd manage to concoct a Cunning University level scheme to foil him ... mind you, the whole 'gun-to-head' thing isn't exactly likely, least not in Ross Vegas, my home town since I was the tender age of 8 years old.

Anyway, back to the main story. A few days ago I get a phone call from Sully Woo, one of my chums from my high school days - who despite living a few hundred yards away from me, I've not seen since 2005/2006 New Year (life is a strange thing I guess). Anyway, he was arranging a gathering to get some of the old crew back together, chaps I haven't seen in years ... at the very best I've spoken to them online, but haven't met in person in a long while.

So it was a complete and utter 'back-in-the-day fest', but certainly a good one. As I said, I'm sparing with my 'night-on-the-tiles juice', so I think I'm good for quite a while now, but regardless, it was a huge trip down memory lane as we all told stories - either the classics or stuff we'd forgotten about - some stuff I'd not thought of in literally years, up to seven in fact. It's amazing how this sort of stuff can blow your mind, sober or no.

So indeed, Saturday night - 24th November - the gathering began in Weatherspoons ... or is it Wutherspoons? Regardless - "Spoons" as us young sorts call it (although I often felt fairly old throughout the evening when I started considering how long it was since I thought of "man on a mission" or other classics from my GCSE years) was the kick off point.

Time for a couple of pints and some food, which is where I made a poor choice - side dish of chips. Firstly, this was no side dish, it was a flat-out bowl...secondly, it was not of 'side size'...the fucker was bigger than the main course plates Burge, Bufton and Sully all had. Thirdly, the chips were fucking rank, nuff said - undercooked and at first WAY too hot and then (after a brief avail of the facilities) WAY too cold. I might as well have chewed on a raw potato ... two quid my arse!

Anyway, then we all skipped off to The Eagle (and away from clean, crisp toilets I might add), coming into contact with some bloke who was apparently Canadian (maybe French Canadian) who was in search of direction, so we guided him on our way down to The Eagle, at which junction he praised the strength of English beer (after we assured him we most definitely are in England, and not Wales, which is only about 15 miles away). The place was the definition of dead, we were the first lot in there. Save for us and the staff, the place was like McDonald's on Christmas Day.

After savouring the silence (and shite music selection) it was time for pool (and some proper music) and another old face from back in the day - Mikey P, a chap I haven't seen in even longer than either of my three other cohorts this night. All these chaps haven't changed, except they're taller than I remember...while standing in The Crown (our third port of call) I felt like Richard Hammond on Top Gear, surrounded by towering cohorts.

By this time I'd noticed the anti-smoking legislation recently introduced to England (Scotland and Wales were long before England, for those not in the know). For one - I could breathe - for two I could blink without cringing in mild discomfort. Not being a smoker, a choking atmosphere whilst savouring my newest pint is not an enjoyable experience, but fortunately it's nowhere near as bad now. So it was all out onto the decking area at The Crown - an area I never knew even existed until that moment. Oh yes, just prior another old school chap from my GCSE/Sixth Form days appeared - Pommie - who was, to put it lightly, shocked & stunned to see, and I quote - "Nick ... in a pub?!" ... indeed, it is a rare sight and one worth savouring.

So yes, up onto the deck in late-ish-November on a damp night, but much hilarity and back-in-the-day story telling was shared, at which point we all confusedly decided to stay for one more before heading on, having to shake the hand of some random drunkard who seemed to think everybody passing by was an absolute legend ... so after reluctantly shaking the man's hand (I dearly hope he was the sort to wash them after visiting the facilities) we were onwards and outwards.

It was on to The Charlie (King Charles II, I think it's properly called), where not only were there bouncers (separating me from my chaps for a spell), but you had to splash out three-bloody-quid to stand in a hot, loud, cramped, sweaty gaff to scream at your mates. Not soon after my final beverage of the night, nature was hurriedly kicking down my proverbial door, so with the official facilities lost somewhere in a sea of random signing/dancing/slurring patrons I had to make do, exiting while telling the bouncer "yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah" to whatever it was he asked me. Mere moments later and I was hitching a lift back with Sully Woo (his sister being Miss Designated) and before I knew it, I was sat in front of my computer writing up this blog and transferring my mobile phone pictures of the evening ... as you do.

Needless to say, a good night out even though admittedly it's not my personal style in the least - but the main point is that I was able to catch up with long lost friends whom are all legends, so fair play lads and here's a clinky-clink bottle-to-glass chime from me to you lot.

Now it's most definitely time for bed...by the time this is actually posted, it'll be tomorrow...hello future self! *future self* Hello to you too!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Get in thar, me hearties!

No, not pirates...no idea why I thought that'd be a good title, still...guess who's got a letter in Total Film for the second time this year? Okay, it's me obviously...not surprise there, about as much tension as "Hostel 2", but infinitely better.

Yep, I got all inspired by Issue 135 where some chap had posted a picture of his DVD collection, and with a keen sense of "mine's bigger than yours" circling my cranium, I boshed out a picture and email to the good people at TF to boast of my '331 and counting' collection, all alphabetised and organised - and ta-da, Issue 136 in the Letters section at the front, look who has their DVD collection on display...niiice.

So now just to wait for my free DVD - "Transformers". I have seen it, but I don't own it...and it's free...so I'm chuffed with that. Last time round I got "Severance", which I neither owned or had seen.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Finally, I've recaptured that damn muse!

Although it isn't Salma Hayek dressed as a stripper (*ahem* "Dogma", for those not in the know *ahem*)...

Yep, after struggling to sit down and do some scripting, I'm finally getting back in the chair. I've returned to IAZM3, having bought up some props to use for it as well as printing off certain other paper props I'll be using throughout the film, I got all inspired and returned to the script itself.

Initially I wrote the first two drafts in Word, which is what I used to use for scripting - at the time I didn't mind, but since switching over to Final Draft (which is the dog's nutsack-dwellers by the way) I just couldn't stand to see the script in Word anymore - so I rewrote it in Final Draft and am currently tweaking it into it's 3rd draft shape. It's been two months since I last touched the script pretty much, so it's nice to get back into it.

I've also had more thoughts about my feature length comedy script that I was burning away on a while back, but have since ground to a halt on...rather annoyingly. Admittedly it was so I could write some other scripts which were far shorter - well, they were shorts after all - but of course that meant I ran out of steam on the feature length one, which does at least have a completed first act - so that's something.

Anyway, I've had several dialogue/scene ideas for that script, so I'm starting to get wound up about that script again, so perhaps I'll get bashing some keys over that soon too.

Ahhh the muse, an evasive little bitch so she is...

...

In the mean time, I've also checked out a couple of new movies - "Black Snake Moan", which was pretty good, kind of like a big budget exploitation movie with more heart & soul & seriousness ... and "Rescue Dawn", my first Werner Herzog film (hey, there's so many movies out there, you can't possibly get around to seeing them all straight away) ... anyway, it was somewhat grueling but it was ultimately worthwhile...despite the seemingly odd loss of certain characters towards the end that was just kinda left wide open. But, from what I've read, retains the characteristics of Herzog's filmmaking - man versus nature, struggle through adversity, obsession and fleshed out characters...no cheesy lines or prison camp cliches here. A rather good film.

A rant about Cloverfield...

About the cinematography specifically, starting with fake Hollywood DV tape glitches.

Either do a real-looking tape glitch, or don't bother. Grrrr! If "Grindhouse" can manage real-looking film print damage & glitches, then some editor can manage realistic digital tape glitches for a miniDV camera - which is what the entire film is supposed to be shot on, even though the footage is from a much fancier camera set up than your average mid-range miniDV, which is what the characters would own.

Also, looking at the footage, it'd be better if they did a mix of DV type stuff, and other stuff that was filmed hand held but by someone not included in the movie - like they did on "Saving Private Ryan" on the beach sequence - just tell the cameraman to get stuck in, documentary 'in the moment' style and there you go.

And yes, fake wobble is annoying, and the picture is not true to the sort of DV camera those people would own, nowhere near for the most part. Also, why would those sort of people have a mounted light? Those sort of people would more than likely use night vision, or just have a dark room, or use existing light.

It's that sort of stretching of the DV aesthetic that I find pointless. If you want the documentary immediacy, either:

1) Write it from the point of view of a news crew(s)
2) Do it 'Private Ryan style' (as previously mentioned)

"The Zombie Diaries" did FPS DV shooting properly, so it peeves me off when Hollywood emulates it with really expensive camera rigs, set-ups and editing.

And then finding ways to get big sights 'caught first hand' is just pushing it. Either do it as-true-as-life, or do it from a news cameraman's POV ... or 'do it Private Ryan style'.

Despite my personal grievances with the cinematography and the possible mindset it represents in high-up filmmakers, I still want to see the movie. It does look good and it should be fun, just as long as it lives up to the whole "we're going to cock tease you for months without showing you anything beyond shaky-cam and the odd choice cut" hype.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Clutching on a re-sprained ankle...

Well it was back to Hereford for a couple more pick up shots for "Contempt of Conscience", which is tantalisingly close to completion. I should be seeing a near-complete cut soon as well.

So yes, it was back to Hereford this morning for said shots, but it seems I was just going to have one of those days.

Having finally bedded down somewhere after midnight, I was planning on getting up at 7am, at which point I'd lie in till half seven, but that went arse over as I slept in till past 8am, even with my hi-fi blaring HIM's latest album, I must have been that tired. Fortunately I felt refreshed after sleeping in longer than anticipated and soon I was heading off to Hereford, with an ankle (which I'd sprained on November 4th in Bristol) which was looking much better thanks to the recent decision to switch from normal bandaging to tubi-grip stuff or whatever it's called.

So we did the bulk of the filming with no issues, then it was time to get a pick up shot outside the city's magistrates court, which completely unbeknownst to us, is apparently now illegal to do - a new anti-terrorism law has literally just come into being, so fresh it's umbilical cord to central government is still uncut. So, after having gotten the shots, we were cornered in a 'from both sides' manner by two chaps, security guards I think.

Fair enough, I can understand where they're coming from, and had we known about this kicking & screamingly-new law that had come into play, we'd have steered clear. Although in fact, we only had to delete (tape over) about 17 seconds of footage, the rest was perfectly fine, so said the security chaps, and we were once again on our way.

On the way back to my car we collectively rolled our eyes at the government's penchant for new criminal laws (for any Americans reading, Labour have created a boatload of new laws, even to an unprecedented level), and all because of - you guessed it - terrorism, which isn't terrorising for the vast majority of the time...it's just a bloody nuisance. Forgive my mini rant, it's no secret I'm not a fan of the current British government, but it feels as if more trouble is caused defending against terrorism (up to the eyeballs perhaps), than by the terrorists themselves...while the situation is certainly not happy-happy-joy-joy, I question the climate of fear the government pedals to us (and likewise in the USA, whose news networks adore the climate of fear). Clearly the security establishments are doing a superb job already and have been for quite some time, but are we really on the brink of epic terrorism?

I don't mean to be flippant about terrorism, far from it in fact, but you just end up questioning the true extent of the problem - bad, but not imminent death, one could say.

Anyway, I digress and fair play to the security guards who were doing their jobs, we co-operated fairly and it was respect all round, especially after we explained the situation and showed them the footage (again, a mere 17 seconds had to be deleted - stuff which wouldn't have been used anyway - and all was smiles).

So now, mere yards from my car, a moment of distraction led to me slipping on the pavement (an unforeseen greasy patch) and I re-sprained my not-far-from-healed left ankle, thus sending my injury back in time about 10 days. Fortunately I was able to double-double-up (4 layers) my tubi-grip support and managed to use the clutch all the way home - even if 3 tractors added a certain level of grievance to the journey...literally an insult-to-injury, you might say.

Thankfully, this time, I won't have to walk 4 miles on it and I'm using this excellent tubi-grip stuff from the off, so fingers crossed...still, talk about shite luck today, eh?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Night/Day Watch...

I'm not entirely sure what all the fuss about "Night/Day Watch" is for. I mean yes, the Russians don't make movies like this normally and yes there are some spectacular ideas in it and the effects sequences are great...and while I dig all those things about the films, I found myself mercelessly bored at times.

I get the impression that the film is punching above it's weight in terms of story importance, trying to be the "Lord of the Rings" of vampire films or something, mythical for myth's sake...if that makes sense. At times, especially with the first film, I felt like the film was shoved right up it's own arse...it felt like it knew it was unlike anything from Russia before, plus I found the story a tad on the needlessly complex side...at times it feels as if weird stuff is just happening for the sake of it, like being weird and oddly mythical is superior to letting your audience get what you're on about.

My main gripe though, are the moments, sequences or flat out stretches of the films where you're left tired out waiting for something exciting to happen, rather than scenes that don't feel at all necessary ("Day Watch" just didn't need to be 2 and a half hours long) or scenes that just drag on too long, or just plain drag.

Particularly with "Day Watch", it feels bloated. It needs to be more direct, not as poncy about it's storyline and just get the job done efficiently...they both had the potential to be great films, but their down sides really bleed over onto the good sides and muddy the over all quality of the films, which is a real shame in the end. At times it feels like the makers were finally given access to the toy box, but just went crazy rather than play constructively and decisively.

Maybe it's just me, but I do honestly feel these gripes are justified as I do feel these films are unfortunately flawed in their execution, robbing them of their deserved greatness.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

A rant about Hostel's...

Hostel Part II (and Part I as well, I guess):

I actually really quite liked Roth's debut, "Cabin Fever" and have watched it many times...but then I ended up being fairly disappointed with "Hostel". Admittedly upon second viewing I liked it much better than I had at first, but the problem that simply not enough fucked up shit happens. It's reputation is bigger than the payoff, the bark bigger than the bite ... oddly enough it's kind of like a modern day video nasty. Many video nasties just didn't live up to their bark (although some did with snarling to spare) - and this was the case with "Hostel". It was pimped on it's 'European-nutters-kidnap-backpackers-for-rich-people-to-slaughter' schtick almost single handedly...and then when almost nothing happens in the first half you're ticking over by the time anything properly nasty gets going.

And then the nastiness stops and it's just some running around in the dark and then the end (at least with a deadly trip to the bog, though).

However, for all it's flaws, "Hostel" is a genre masterpiece when compared to "Hostel: Part II". I cannot understand how Total Film gave this such a high rating (a magazine I respect and which more-often-than-not shares my own personal movie opinions) - - 4 out of 5 if memory serves. I'd struggle to give it 2 out of 5. This isn't my initial opinion, I've actually sat through it twice now, just to see if I'd appreciate it more this time around.

From the get-go we already know exactly what is happening and who the bad guys are (or are likely to be). There is a complete lack of tension, I mean absolutely none whatsoever, Postman Pat losing his van keys to a magpie is far more arm-rest-gripping than this shoddy sequel.

Add to it a sloppy bundle of boring/lame/just unlikable characters, and you've got nothing to tide you over for - again - the first half...although the first torture set-piece does peak your horror interests while it's on screen. A scene, in fact, that's actually handled quite well, it's both grim and interesting.

But then it all goes rather dull again until finally - the shit starts hitting the fan - I will say at this point that the bidding war was also interesting, and opens up one of the more intriguing parts of this film. This time we actually get to see it partly from the viewpoint of the silver-pocket-lined suits who impart their torture onto others...it's just a shame the entire film didn't follow this angle, instead of half-resorting to re-hashing the first film's backpackers, but just making them all women instead of all men...it's like a mirror that fancies itself for gender re-assignment, the two gangs and their initial trapper are that similar. Like I said, rehash.

So yes, finally we're into the depths of the human-hunting-underground-nutter-lodge-gaff, and finally - some serious KNB gore gets thrown around with gay abandon, about damn time. For a movie(s) marketted for their relentless grottiness and horror, it sure takes a long time for anything seriously nasty to get going. I wouldn't mind as much if the waiting was actually interesting for the most part, rather than tiresome and reheated from the first film.

The black & white reactions of the key client protagonists though is still as annoying as it was the first time I watched this film. It's either one reaction or the other - gung-ho or whimpering...and to add insult to injury we're forced to swallow not one, but two complete attitude reversals, it just feels rushed...sloppy...underdeveloped.

The second half is better than I remembered it, but the first half is twice as bad as I remembered it...so ultimately the film is no better.

I appreciate what Roth is trying to do with the "Hostel" films, and I maintain that if you took the two movies and put the good parts from each movie, cutting away the bad parts from each movie, you'd end up with a bloody superb 2 hour horror fiesta...but alas that never happened. Instead we've got two so-so movies with larger reputations than actual balls (ironic really, considering the end of the second film, ha!)

I just hope that Roth doesn't bother doing a third "Hostel", but you just know he wants to desperately. He almost has a trilogy under his belt, but come on man - do something different and really put some full-on effort into the script. Don't use a gimmick if you're going to skimp on it. If you have a good idea, follow it full-heartedly ... don't glance around it a bit and then add some re-heated-first-movie-filler.

I was kind of surprised to hear that Roth bitched about horror fans downloading the work print that got leaked - it's not the horror fan's fault, it's the fault of the leak you've got on your side of the movie-making exchange. If something is put up for free, and before release, of course the horror fans are going to flock to it. But perhaps people are getting a bit tired of these torture movies (I despise "torture porn" though, it's a childish dismissal of these films which are, ultimately, important to the history of the horror genre and deserve more than a flippant sound bite).

All-in-all, it's just a let down that didn't need to happen...but should Roth choose to tread some new ground, then I'm all ears, eyes and everything else.

All guns blazing...

Shoot Em Up:

I'd heard little bits about this film on the internet, things like "delivers a baby during a gunfight, shags during a gunfight", so I figured this was John Woo meets thrash metal meets speed & cocaine in a blender. And indeed it was with brass-shelled-gusto.

Admittedly I didn't really bother following the twisty-weird-story, I guess every film needs a story (of some sort) even a film that takes indiscriminate action up to 11 like this film does, but who cares when Clive Owen is chomping on carrots and blazing pistols? It's genuinely entertaining, the whole film just getting more and more ridiculous with every passing minute and gunfight.

Clive Owen is beginning to carve out a niche as a gun toting badass of late, what with this and 2005's "Sin City" where he played Dwight. Everybody involved is clearly having the best time ever, and in turn the viewer has a bloody good time too. This film is sheer entertaining committed to celuloid, 'nuff said.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Continuing Contempt, and you know, stuff...

Just got back from filming a couple of insert shots for "Contempt of Conscience", we're just filling the odd little gaps, or rough spots. The film should be done sometime soon, when it's done I'll post up more information. Further projects to follow soon.

Obviously, this meant a jaunt off to Hereford, so it was a chance to test out my ankle, which is feeling better but still a bit swollen and a little iffy. 50 miles of clutching and a quick nip into GameStation for "Splinter Cell Double Agent" and "Tony Hawk's Project 8" on 2-for-£20, which is pretty darn good.

And having just watching the season 19 Simpson's Halloween episode, what the hell does Mr & Mrs Smith have to do with Halloween? It's supposed to be horror, sci-fi and maybe fantasy - not action movies. The last few Halloween specials have been a bit lame or really lame because of such things, but then again you can't compete with the one where Bart & Lisa raised the dead...season 4 if memory serves, it was the third Halloween special anyway.

Monday, 5 November 2007

A Guy Fawkes in the eye...

With Halloween done and dusted (without bothering to do anything about it, admittedly) it was time for Guy Fawkes...although November 5th is the official day when The G-Man stuck it to parliament, or tried anyway...it didn't end up being "V For Vendetta" really, not a single Natalie Portman in sight!...we celebrated on November 3rd (being a convenient Saturday).

Regardless, myself and Ben went on a mini road trip to Bristol to see some of our friends who are now living there and "living the dream" - which is of course, residing 'across-and-over-one-from-Justin-Lee-Collins-off-Friday-Night-Project- and-Bring-Back-the-A-Team' ... but alas, I didn't spy him hanging around his gaff.

Upon arrival in Bristol (after being guided by the holy hand of Buddy Christ on the dashboard of Ben's Micra Monster Red Devil) it was beer, pizza, sketch-based comedy and cats-acting-like-people with a slice of kids-falling-over clip show jollity.

Mid-evening and it was time to bundle up to brace the bitter mildness of the weather, so much for gloves and coats then. The Downs (a big park/field area) was fenced off, those bothering to pay on the inside and those of a tighter-fisted disposition outside ... the roads on the latter side of the fences were packed. A few fireworks later (coming from all directions as it seemed multiple events were taking place across the city) and it all ground to a halt, some poor bugger had been hurt. But myself and Emma "the girl zombie in Trapped" Clark-Bolton (and everybody else of course) gawked like zombies at the "sky flowers" ("Land of the Dead" style) when it all kicked off again, at which point the defences broke and soon everybody was flooding into the event for free (until they parted cash to go on shakey rides, like the one that uses centrifugal force to keep you from being fired off into space). After a series of people showed off by hanging upside down in it or poking their heads out, some of our gang elected to give it a go and barged the centrifuge ride thing with gusto.

Then, after narrowly averting being blown up by chav-aimed fireworks, we did a tour of the grounds before staggering off into the main street of Bristol, desperately seeking refuge in any licensed premise, ultimately coming to rest at some random, out-of-the-way, over-crowded, too-noisy-too-small-too, trendy bar where I had a shouted conversation about "Grindhouse", "South Park" and everything in-between.

I turned round to discover the place had near-emptied during said conversation. Back to the 'just across and one over from The JLC' flat for arse-parking and shoe-ridding before more sketch-based comedy and then "Apes of Wrath", an episode of the absolutely superb "Garth Marenghi's Dark Place". By now everybody had either fucked-off-to-bed or was making their merry way to bed-fordshire, at which point Ben and myself prepared our makeshift beds for the night. Ben settled on sofa cushions on the floor, while I was lazy and used a sleeping bag as a duvet and crashed on the three-seat sofa.

A bizarre sleep later - the sort where you're not sure if you're dreaming ambient noise or actually conscious and just hearing, drifting in and out of consciousness - and we finally all got dragged out of our kips for a quick late-breakfast. During the night I'd somehow managed to work myself practically into the spot down the back of the sofa where spare change should be found, not sleepy bloggers. Then it was time for a "30 or 45 minute walk" (to quote Ben) to the Downs ... and beyond.

We stopped off by the cliff edge and gazed at the Bristol bridge, as well as egged-on falling trees that were being chainsawed below. After this brief pitstop the decision was made to barge it to the bridge itself, and this is where it all went arse-over-the-proverbial-tit. While descending a brief stack of ramshackle rock-steps, having been concentrating on the right foot, I sprained my left ankle. Inevitably I collapsed amidst a torrent of foul language that a shedload of kids nearby no doubt heard...but fuck that, swearing is funny - FACT. Fortunately I was wearing my boots, which of course are high around the ankle, had I opted for my shoes as I'd thought of doing, I could have even broken the damn thing...small graces I guess.

So, with me carrying a weak and somewhat-floppy ankle, everybody marched forth as I hobbled behind looking like a right prat. We got to the bridge and then went beyond, seemingly touring the city to get back to the flat. Said short walk turned into a Rocky-style marathon for me, where I ultimately hobbled for what must have been 4 miles on a sprained-and-unsupported ankle.

Never has a Nissan Micra looked so Godly. After my "Gonna Fly Now" mental-montage had ended, I parked-arse in the Micra and enjoyed the sweet relief. It's not exactly riding 20,000 miles around the world on a motorbike like Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did, but still...4 miles of a 5 mile Sunday-afternoon-meander on a sprained ankle is still pretty impressive...well I was impressed anyway, don't know about you, but I was.

And onwards home to Ross Vegas, a battle against Bristol city centre confusion and near-Newport traffic jams - but we did get a second fireworks display sitting in traffic. After a panicked minute at the Severn Bridge toll - a frenzy of jangling change and "we're twenty pence short, exact change, exact change!!" - it was the final leg of the journey, where in the meantime mine had gone to sleep and stiffened-like-a-zombie.

A well earned and most definitely necessary bath later, I was kicking back - ankle bandaging in place - to the African special of "Top Gear" before "Long Way Down" continued being likewise awesome. A quick bosh-around on the internet post-LWD and it was off to an equally well deserved night's kip.

It's only the day after (at the time of writing), but the ankle is a little better - yet still swollen and weak. Evidently places beginning with "B", and my well being, don't go hand-in-hand. Four months prior to Senoir McSwollen Ankle, I was filming in Birmingham where I slipped full-blown slapstick-comedy-style flat onto my back. It knocked the wind right out of me and I've almost finished recovering...2007 - a good year for career progression, a bad year for physical well being, lol.

Friday, 2 November 2007

The post-Halloween round up - part 2...

Additionally I checked out "SAW IV", which from the off I felt was unnecessary. To be honest it was tied up nicely at the end of the third film, but they've found a way to keep it all going (albeit a bit of a naff one, just find a new apprentice in pretty much the same way as before).

I am a huge fan of the original "SAW", it was fresh, unique and the ending left my jaw on the floor (although not hacked off in a pool of blood thankfully). The follow-up however, I didn't really like. The premise wasn't as good, the characters were cut and paste bastards - whore, junkie, whiny little bitch teenager, panicky white collar worker, school-of-hard-knocks black guy and so forth. No wonder it wasn't as good, it was based on Bousman's own script for a completely different film, and James Wan did not have a hand in the script (only Leigh Whannel). However, those two chaps did have their hands in the script for "SAW III", which produced a much better film than "SAW II" I feel, the ciclical nature of the film - treading alternate and unseen angles of plot from the first two films - was what I enjoyed most ... and yes, rotted-pig-slush-device-thing was the grossest thing I've seen for a long time.

As for "SAW IV", with damn near everybody from the previous three films slaughtered - including the main man himself - you just think, what's the point? Sooner or later everyone is going to die, even if they do escape a trap, they'll just be brought back and continue to not think outside of their own boxes so they'll just get hacked up again. With the first three, particularly the first and to a lesser extent the third, you actually cared and wanted people to escape their fates (I could have barely given a thrupny toss about those in part two, bar Donnie Wahlberg).

Another gripe is the sheer scale of the tricks, devices and so on. The scale of the devices is getting a bit silly now, particularly the main set piece in this fourth outing. It's just too big, too flashy and too designed. The great thing about the first film was it was just some grotty old bogs in a grotty old tiled room and the premise of their predicament was fairly simple, yet still terrifying and horrific.

Inevitably this was going to happen to the franchise, everytime you show a bit more and get a bit more outlandish, you have to go further the next time...but can't you just make it more mentally torturous than visually icky? 100 ick units and 0 mental units (to use a bizarre equation I've just cobbled together) is nowhere near as good as 50 ick units and 50 mental units.

The sheer thought of the predicament in the first "SAW", plus the adequate (and at the time actually fairly extreme) gore was an ideal combination. No doubt this won't be the case for "SAW V" or "VI" (which are to be shot back-to-back apparently - not a good sign, most back-to-backs usually suck, and this late in the day as well - have they not seen "Return of the Living Dead 4 & 5"?!)

But to end on a higher note, what I did enjoy about "SAW IV" was the continued way the franchise circles around the same area of events and characters, minor parts from earlier films become main parts (with varied success), and events flash back to earlier events as well as parallel events. You could say that the "SAW" franchise is the new "Friday the 13th" franchise for the 2000's, but in terms of horror in general, at least this franchise seeks to link the films together with at least some depth and complexity.

I appreciate what they're doing with the franchise immensely, but they really need to look back at the first film and regain control over themselves before it gets completely ludicrous and out-of-hand. The best way to make a good sequel is to properly understand the films that preceded it, rather than the cliche of "bigger this, this and this".

The post-Halloween round up - part 1...

Well, tis the season no more ... until Guy Fawke's night ... and then the inevitable shit-fit-frenzy of the run up to Xmas.

What did I get up to horror wise? Well, I checked out the European Cut of "Dawn of the Dead" (original & best, obviously not the retarded & pointless name-rape remake), and I have to say that it's nowhere near as good as the Extended Cut aka Cannes Cut (my personal favourite, which is 139 minutes of sheer heaven). The Euro Cut is understandable, Argento recut to suit Euro audiences, who would subsequently be inundated with 'zeds-n-muff' naffness like "Zombie Lake" - although I actually really enjoyed "Zombie Lake" because it was so silly.

However, even though it's understandable, it's still not very well done. The unseen-in-English-speaking-gaffs scene extensions are a Dawn geek's treasured treat, but the exclusions - particularly NO HELICOPTER ZOMBIE, pure madness incarnate - and the soundtrack are a real shame. Superb moments are either chopped out (sometimes in favour of more footage of roaring motorbikes), or the scenes are rendered a clunky and uncomfortable because of Argento's insistence on a purely Goblin-lent soundtrack. Romero used Goblin tracks sparingly and sensibly, they fit the scenes and provided background tension. Argento uses them in a scattergun approach, fades them out abruptly, cuts them off a beat-too-late or just plonks them in the completely wrong place where they become overpowering or just unsuitable.

It is however interesting to see a movie I'm so familiar with (yes, I quote the film as it plays) in a different light, but from a technical and critical standpoint, it certainly isn't an exceptional cut of the film - now, the Extended Cut, that is the glory. All of GAR's flair and choice editing, but in greater detail. One could say that Dawn was truly Romero's epic - it's got everything plus a pie-fight after all.

Also in my Halloween season line-up was the Halloween theme latest episode of the excellent show "Reaper", certainly one of the most interesting shows to come across the pond in recent times. Otherwise, I also dug myself into "SAW IV", but I'll blog about that in a new post (above).