Dark conspiracies, comedic priests, talking dogs, sardonic comedians, hard-boiled cops, and underground zombies ... just a few of the things that have been flavouring my August 2014 ... read on to see what else.
Click "READ MORE" below for the looks, sounds, vibes & flavours of the past four weeks...
James May's Cars of the People - I really dig May's style of presenting; affable yet highly informed and put out there with a wry sense of humour and honesty. Three episodes examining how the car went from play thing of the very select few to transportation necessity of the many.
Utopia Series 2 - Channel 4's deviously dark thriller finished its second series and left us on a cliffhanger, but it was a juicy way to leave us dangling. Beautifully crafted, it continually subverts expectations and dares to not only stare into the void, but to jump in and drag us with it. Superb stuff.
Father Ted Series 2 - after figuring out what the show was, how the world worked, and who the characters were, the second series was fully up-to-speed and so this was when the classic episodes that everyone remembers so fondly, and vividly, kicked off.
Hell On Wheels Season 4 - it is fair to say that the constant see-saw of power between Bohannon and Durant got a bit old in season 3, but it's also fair to say that during last year's season the show stepped up several notches after the gradual improvements of the first two seasons. Now the fourth run is underway and the confidence felt throughout much of season three has not been abandoned - a good first half, so here's hoping the rest of the run keeps up the quality.
The Raid 2 - "epic" and "ouch" pretty much sum things up. A stunning achievement in action cinema filmmaking.
Wilfred Season 4 - it's never been a show that's had me gagging to see the next episode, but I've always enjoyed it as I've watched it. Indeed, when it came to the fourth season I saved up all ten episodes (a tighter order than the usual thirteen) and then barged them out over two days. This final season boasted a sense of drive that previous seasons didn't always necessarily consider of much import. Previously the show has often felt frustrating in its refusal to push the narrative - and the mystery - forward at a consistent rate, but season four had much more oomph to it. Each episode delivered new information and satisfying developments, concluding with a somewhat curious - but ultimately fitting - finale.
South Park Season 17 - a quick re-watch of the latest round of ten episodes. The three-episode 'Black Friday' arc is the highlight of a very solid season, which regained some of the vigour that seemed to be sporadic during the previous two seasons.
Postcards From The Future: The Chuck Palahniuk Documentary - a quirky curiosity about a 2003 academic conference centring on the titular author of "Fight Club" and many other great pieces of fiction. It's rough around the edges and kind of meanders in a strange manner, but fans of his work will find themselves getting sucked in, particularly when the man himself shares some fascinating stories. Highlights included the 'Christmas Pixie' story and a segment covering the succession of people fainting at readings of "Guts" (a chapter from his novel "Haunted").
Maron Season 1 & 2 - I've been growing more aware of Maron's work and comedy via his dealings with the Nerdist podcast and channel, and I decided to give his show a look-see. In episode two there's an exchange that goes: "How's your self esteem" / "It's okay I mean, I hate myself." That cracked me up and won me over and I've thoroughly enjoyed watching the show with its sardonic, bewildered, exasperated sense of humour. Bring on a third season!
Day of the Dead - after reading Lee Karr's book on the film, I revisited the flick for the umpteenth time and it's still as fresh and riveting as it was when I first watched it when I was a teenager in the 90s. If anything, it gets better and better with each viewing and, this time, I felt like I noticed - more than ever - just how highly strung this film is. These characters are desperate, they're hanging on by their fingernails, and it frequently gets seriously tense. I still pick Dawn as my favourite of Romero's zombie flicks, but man ... every time I watch Day it chips away that little bit more at the sliver between the two of them in my mind ... either way they're both excellent films, but it has to be said that Day has aged better over the years.
Slipknot "The Negative One" and "The Devil In I"
Nine Inch Nails "13 Ghosts II" and "14 Ghosts II"
John Harrison "Day of the Dead" Soundtrack
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
Ethics Online DVD 2014 - a new editing project is underway, this time covering the basics of key ethical theories and theologians. In some ways this is quite a tricky project as we're taking some very textbook definitions of these issues and having to find ways to make them work in a visual manner, but we're finding our way there.
The Walking Dead Volume 21: All Out War Part Two
James Ellroy "Because The Night" - apparently Ellroy read Thomas Harris' "Red Dragon" between writing the first and second Lloyd Hopkins books (the first being "Blood On The Moon", the third in the trilogy being "Suicide Hill"). You can see a difference in Ellroy's prose and storytelling - for the better - as a result. His focus seems sharper here, in what was his fourth novel, the bite of his teeth more powerful. It feels more dogged, more aggressive, more determined. I enjoyed "Blood On The Moon", but this follow-up was undoubtedly a step forward.
Lee Karr "The Making of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead" - the definitive word on all things relating to Romero's dark slice of zombie horror from 1985. An excellent read crammed-full with fascinating information and behind the scenes photos.