Gangsters, jokesters, rockers, zombies, and celebrities ... just some of the flavours of my October 2014.
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Boardwalk Empire Season 5 - this final run of eight episodes has been a bit hit and miss. You'd have thought with four fewer episodes and a definitive end in sight there'd be no time to waste, yet four episodes worth of flashbacks are dedicated to Nucky as a boy. Frankly the revelations could have been covered in one episode, two tops, particularly as we already knew he hated his father and came from a poor background. Fortunately, the final four episodes feature flashbacks to a far more interesting - and revelatory - look at his young adult years prior to becoming the Sheriff. His descent - and the series-wide themes - all begin to join together at long last and lead towards an immensely satisfying grand finale. As for the season generally, it was good to finally get some more Margaret Thompson (nee Shroeder), who was sorely overlooked in Season 4. The time jump promised an intriguing shift and, again, was hit and miss. The deliberately slow pacing can rankle at times, such as an episode where Nucky, justifiably, gets drunk in a bar, but spends far too much screen time doing so. Likewise, moments where the show seems to get a bit po-faced make you yearn for relatively rare moments of humour to balance things out. It was a great show, although the first two seasons eclipsed the latter three, with some frustrations throughout its run, but when all is said and done I was, am, and will remain a fan of the show. I'll certainly revisit it somewhere down the line.
South Park Season 18 - the first few episodes have been a little bit hit and miss this season, however "The Magic Bush" about drones and leaked videos was excellent; an idea that proved to have plenty to run with.
Father Ted Series 3 - filled with classic episodes such as "Speed 3" and "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse", they went out on-top, albeit with the sudden passing of Dermot Morgan after the show had just wrapped.
Garth Marenghi's Dark Place - Channel 4 are great at trying out new and different things when it comes to the half hour comedy format (their one hour drama output is also top notch). They're not afraid of trying out quirky, niche ideas either, and this is probably one of the most quirky and niche shows they've ever put out. Superbly written and performed in a deliberately over-the-top-and-a-bit-rubbish style to spoof the sort of ropey and cheaply cobbled together genre flicks of the 1970s and 1980s. Wobbly sets, clunky dialogue, jump cuts, dreadful continuity, random gunfights, bizarre plots, dubbed voices and more. It's a strange and decidedly unique show that I thoroughly enjoyed in 2004 and love even more now ten years later. Favourite episode? "Scotch Mist".
The Walking Dead Season 5 - I'm mad for it, you all know that by now, and nothing has changed. We're only three episodes deep at this point, but already there's been surprises and shocks galore. Brand new memes can be found HERE.
The House By The Cemetery (Arrow Blu-Ray) - Lucio Fulci's 1981 gore fest is light on plot, and takes a few viewings to pick up on the subtler elements of back story, but it delivers on atmosphere and blood-gushing splatter. It was the third in the 'Gates of Hell Trilogy', which also included the crimson-soaked flicks City of the Living Dead, and The Beyond. Note: After the Arrow logo the disc seemed to stall (menu and next chapter buttons didn't work), but - for me at least - pressing fast forward helped move things on and view everything fine thereafter.
MacGruber - what with all those truly abominable laugh-free 'spoofs' (like Meet The Spartans) in recent years, you'd be forgiven for thinking the art of the actually funny spoof movie had been lost forever, but not so. Based on a series of SNL sketches, Will Forte's character is a loving and uproariously funny lampooning of MacGuyver. Chock-full with clever crudity, throat rips, and perfectly executed long-gags (KFBR 392!), it's a consistently entertaining barrel of guffaws and 80s-referencing cheese.
Where The Fuck Is Santa? - watching a six year old, Christmas-themed, semi-improvised Bam Margera 'reality movie' before Halloween 2014 has even rolled around. That's how you do it!
Viva La Bam: Season 2 - watching the above got me interested in watching this show again. I've seen the first season plenty, so I'll be filling those awkward twenty minute gaps between other shows, tasks and engagements with the 'Castle Bam' seasons.
Green Day "State of Shock" - kind of a B-Side rarity, it's fun but not all that much to sink your teeth into.
Alice In Chains "Black Gives Way To Blue" - favourite tracks: "A Looking In View" and "Check My Brain".
Alice Cooper "Theatre of Death: Live At Hammersmith 2009"
Slipknot "Custer" and "Sarcastrophe"
Foo Fighters "Something From Nothing" and "The Feast And The Famine" - the first is decent, but lacks the drive and real FF sound of the latter, which gets your blood pumping quite effectively.
The Black Angels "Passover" - their first album and, personally, my favourite. That said, their second (Directions To See A Ghost) and their fourth (Indigo Meadow) are both great, only their third (Phosphene Dream) left something to be desired when they traded gritty guitar grinds for a more hip-shakin' sixties pop vibe. Passover, though, was a superb album and I was introduced to it - and The Black Angels generally - by the videogame "Alan Wake", which featured the first track "Young Men Dead".
Michel Rubini "Graham's Theme" - from "Manhunter". There's always time for some dreamy, cool, highly dramatic 80s synth sounds. Superb.
Marilyn Mansion "Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge" - a slightly more laid back outing from MM's new album, but still with his razorblade vocal rattle. It never really kicks off, but instead it's got a strung-out woozy feel appropriate to the title.
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
"Suicide Hill" by James Ellroy - the third in the Lloyd Hopkins trilogy. A fitting close to the trio in which Hopkins heads up an investigation into an intriguing armed robbery scam while simultaneously fighting against the political movements being made against him within the LAPD.
"Celebrityville" - I've made some significant planning progress on my second book. I'm still bashing out the plot, but things are beginning to link up nicely. It will also be accompanied by a short story, so I'm simultaneously mapping that out. Which one I'll write first remains to be seen at this point, but I'm excited to get writing again and put it out there for public consumption.
"Cold Shadows" - I decided to give this post-watershed television drama series pilot script of mine a nice little polish up for submission to the Channel 4 Screenwriting Course. Only 12 people get picked every year, so the competition is fierce, but you'll definitely have no chance if you don't enter. If you do then you've at least got a chance, even if it could be a slim one. Whatever happens it's all good experience and it allowed me to make a few tweaks that tightened a couple of things here and there. I'm properly chuffed with the script though - it really moves, juggles four simultaneous plot strands from very different (but entirely complimentary) viewpoints, mixes a typically British sense of levity with dark high stakes drama, and boasts compelling characters with their own complexities that both help and hinder their journey. The script is designed to be the first episode of six (the outline of which is also written).
"Meta Ethics" - there's been a little bit of a delay getting onto the next film in this latest educational DVD project, which included me getting - and then recovering from - gallbladder surgery, but the wheels are moving again. This one is a complicated one, in that the script expresses quite complex philosophical and ethical theories, and it's my job to create a coherent visual translation of those ideas to go along with it. So far so good though.