Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Flavours of the Month: December 2013...


The Walking Dead - the Mid-Season 4 finale and Season 3 commentaries. The first eight episodes of season four have been the most consistently entertaining and well written episodes since the first season. Season 2 got off to a slow start, and the back half of Season 3 had some structural problems and a couple of other issues, but this recent batch of eight episodes has been a straight run of top quality TWD goodness (and well worth a second run-through in a pre-Xmas marathon session). Roll on Season 4B!

What Happens In Kavos - for the uninitiated, this is a Channel 4 documentary series about young adults jetting off to the titular Greek resort for a cheap holiday that's nothing more than sun, sea, sex, and astonishing amounts of alcohol. It's eyebrow-raising, jaw-dropping stuff ... like watching animals in a zoo, but with sloshed Brits mangling the English language and throwing every last shred of caution and decency to the wind.

Click "READ MORE" below for more looks, sounds, vibes & flavours for December 2013...

Double Bill Mini Musings: Hard Partridge...

A Good Day To Die Hard:
What's it about?
Fifth film in the Bruce Willis action franchise. John Sr goes to Russia to help out John Jr, who is actually an undercover CIA operative seeking to bring down a terrorist organisation threatening to unleash nuclear war.
Who would I recognise in it?
Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Oh dear ... half the time Willis looks bored starring in this surprisingly brief Die Hard outing, which is hardly surprising seeing as John Sr appears to be playing second-fiddle in his own movie. The father/son plot is rough and shoe-horned into action sequences at inappropriate moments, the action is big and dumb and accomplished - but goes waaaaay beyond the 'average guy in an extraordinary situation' vibe of the original. Falls from great distances and leaps through glass windows are dime-a-dozen events, but the worst offender is the climax - going from Moscow to Chernobyl (even though they technically visit Pripyat), which is a big old distance by car (and in an entirely different country), in a couple of hours, and then not requiring any radioactive protection (despite most of the bad guys being fully geared-up).

Director John Moore (of the abysmal Max Payne movie) tries to sling as many explosions, trashed cars, and slow motion at the screen as possible to cover up all the narrative nonsense that fails to grasp your intrigue, but you can't do a damn thing to distract from the logic leaps in this dim-witted load of old noise. Some moments are good fun (such as a rush hour chase through Moscow, and a safe house attack), but when your franchise star doesn't seem to give a stuff (not to mention the screenwriters), why on earth should we? Sometimes shite, and only alright at best.

Click "READ MORE" below for a siege in Norfolk...

Monday, 30 December 2013

Quadruple Bill Mini Musings: Holidays, Punching, Fighting, and Walking...

What's it about?
Dark comedy about a British couple who go away on a caravanning holiday and end up committing a series of impulsive murders.
Who would I recognise in it?
Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Tony Way, Richard Lumsden.
Taking the sort of low-level social nuisances that would normally only raise a reserved under-the-breath tut and tisk, and punishing them with full-blown murder (flinging people off cliffs, bashing their heads in, etc), Ben 'Kill List' Wheatley's film (written by the two stars) combines efficient arms-reach character study with quirky slaughter. The characters are beautifully drawn - complex, yet lightly sketched, warm and relatable yet capable of sudden outbursts of violence - and the balance of the film never dives too far into comedy or too far into savagery. Writing a sad letter can be lit up by a gigantic gift shop pencil, or a typically English quarrel about dog muck can explode into head-crushing brutality, and all these tonal shifts work together seamlessly. Uniquely British in all regards. On the cusp between good and great.

Click "READ MORE" below for Kick Ass 2, This Is The End, and The Hobbit 2...

Friday, 20 December 2013

Triple Bill Mini Musings: December 2013...

Cloud Atlas:
What's it about?
Centuries-spanning sci-fi epic from The Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer that's pretty damn hard to summarise.
Who would I recognise in it?
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Keith David, Ben Wishaw, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, and more.
Covering numerous intertwining stories that cross centuries, cultures, nations, genders, sexualities, race, and more, this near-three-hour venture is a tough sell from the get-go. However, the sprawling story is chopped up into constantly changing bite-size chunks, so you're always getting a new piece of information, and a different setting at regular intervals. Themes of imprisonment (physical, mental, or social), slavery, and good-versus-evil bind the disparate tales together, all of which feature the same group of actors in different guises. Actors swap gender, race, and colour, just to make things a little trickier, but at the same time surprisingly more cohesive than you'd initially think. Told across various points in history (slavery-era 19th century, pre-WW2, the 1970s, the present day, futuristic Neo-Seoul, a strange post-apocalypse, and then even further into the future), it's a heavy load at first, but the constant drip-feed of answers and questions keeps the film fresh and the pace moving forward. It certainly won't be to everyone's tastes, and while I was dubious at the start of the film, by the end I was won-over. It's strange, it's out-there, it's complex, but it's a smart and commendable piece of filmmaking that can't manage to reach the dizzying heights of The Matrix, but easily swats away the overblown funk of Speed Racer. Good.

Click "READ MORE" below for Compliance, and Seduce & Abandoned...

Sunday, 15 December 2013

He Knows You're Alone (Armand Mastroianni, 1980) Review

Find more film reviews here.

In 1978 John Carpenter's Halloween (following the likes of Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Black Christmas) popularised the slasher movie format to such an extent that a torrent of imitators would soon follow. Some became enduring genre classics like Friday the 13th, while others were rushed knock-offs … He Knows You're Alone is, unfortunately, one of the latter. However, some of its cast members went on to become very well known – one of whom even became an A-List Oscar winner.

Click “READ MORE” below for the full review, many more screenshots, and to find out who the Oscar Winning cast member is...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

2019 After the Fall of New York (Sergio Martino 1983) Review

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“Since the nuclear holocaust, twenty years have passed.” Many of the Italian film-makers who became best known for a particular genre – be it giallo, cannibals, zombies, etc – were experienced in a range of genres. During the 1970s and 1980s the Italian film industry was booming as socio-political upheaval provided impetus for change and ideas for screenplays, and productions sought to become ever more ambitious. In 1983, Sergio Martino (The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh, Torso) unleashed an audacious – if derivative – sci-fi action extravaganza that stretched its modest budget far and wide with obliterated cityscapes, vehicular combat, and even a space shuttle.

Click “READ MORE” below to continue the review and see more screenshots…

Walking Dead/Laughing Dead meme stats...

Find Walking Dead memes here.

The good folks over at The Laughing Dead - a group dedicated to Walking Dead memes - share some of the memes that I make with their community via Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the many more they share from around the web and of their own creation.

Click "READ MORE" below for the stats...

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (Umberto Lenzi, 1972) Review

Find more giallo reviews here.

“Let's make a hypothesis – two dead girls and a single killer.” Umberto Lenzi (Eyeball, Oasis of Fear) traditionally kicks off his films with a quick-firing few minutes to get the audience's pulse racing, and Seven Blood-Stained Orchids is no different. A black-gloved killer driving through the night accompanied by composer Riz Ortolani's laid-back grooves, the ever-present flick knife gleaming in the moon light, a home invasion, and then the savage bludgeoning of a prostitute – Lenzi isn't one for hanging around during his opening act.

Click “READ MORE” below to continue the review and see more screenshots…

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Silent Night (Steven C. Miller, 2012) DVD Review

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Based on the 1984 slasher film Silent Night Deadly Night, which inspired controversy and parental panic across the United States upon its release, this 2012 remake takes the basic premise – a vengeful killer in a Santa suit slaughtering their way through a small town – and runs with it in a sufficiently different and more detailed direction.

Click “READ MORE” below for the full review and many more screenshots...

Monday, 2 December 2013

War & Feels Edition: The Walking Dead 4x08 Memes...

Find more Walking Dead memes here.

Bloody nora, that was a bit of an epic slice of drama wasn't it?! The mid-season finale was an adrenaline-pumping hit in the feel-bag, so have a bumper collection of episode memes - 12 in all!

Click each image for FULL SIZE.

Click to Enlarge: Serious Governor, Serious Business...

Click "READ MORE" below for eleven more memes ***EPISODE SPOILERS AHEAD***