Brooding detectives, super soldiers, underground spookiness, and more such things have been summing up my August 2015...
Click "READ MORE" below for this month's looks, sounds, vibes & flavours...
Inglorious Bastards - the Enzo G. Castellari original from 1978. Essentially an Italian riff on The Dirty Dozen, featuring Fred Williams and Bo Svenson. It's a little flabby in places - the pace slowing to a crawl - but when the action kicks in, particularly during the armoured train finale (in which Williams performed his own stunts such as dropping from a bridge onto the moving train!) it's good fun.
Maron: Season 3 - the latest season of Marc Maron's comedy that is inspired by his life, pock-marked as it is by the frustrations of a world that seems insane and out to get him with it's stupidity. Fans of his WTF Podcast would do well to check it out.
Contamination (Blu-Ray) - read my full review of Arrow Video's Blu-Ray release HERE.
True Detective: Season 2 - it seems that professional critics have taken to slagging off the second season merely on the basis of it not being the first, and by way of being 'trendy'. They seem to have lionised the original season beyond sense, the surprise hit that it was, forgetting that it was criticised - rightly or wrongly - for the so-called 'cliched' conflict of character between Hart and Cohle, and a few other things. We knew from the get go that each season would be different, so it's hardly surprising that season two isn't season one! It did take a while for me to get fully involved in this second outing, but I soon found myself rooting strongly for the extremely compromised Ray Velcoro and the mysteriously adrift Ani Bezzerides. I found Paul Woodrugh quite intriguing, albeit less so than Ray and Ani, and I had a bumpy ride with Frank and Jordan Semyon - but by the superb season finale I was invested in everyone. Indeed, such was the strength of the bittersweet finale, my hands were contorted with the tension of it all.
Perhaps the difficulty with season two was partly down to the complexity of the plot: four main protagonists with their respective sets of antagonists, secrets, allegiances, and so forth (all of which intersect with each other in different ways). However, much like in the first season, True Detective rewards those who pay attention, and no doubt those who watch more than once. Hart and Cohle's objective was clearer, giving the viewer something tangible to hang on to amidst the whirling conspiracy, whereas the troubles facing Velcoro/Bezzerides/Woodrugh/Semyon were more mercurial. The 'popular' opinion doing the rounds among professional reviewers that the show did poorly is patently rubbish (the viewing figures were broadly higher than the first season) and a lot of talk amongst the fans has been positive (with befuddlement at the pissy-arsed critics). True Detective is one of the best shows on television right now, with few - if any - quite like it. It's intelligent, complicated, deeply atmospheric, and knows exactly what it wants to be ... I'll have a third season, please!
Band of Brothers - every few years I tend to give this excellent HBO mini-series another viewing. I've lost count of how many times I've seen it now, but it's power and quality remains undiminished.
Robot Chicken: Season 7
Alice Cooper "Trash", "Hey Stoopid", "Flush The Fashion", "The Last Temptation", "Along Came A Spider"
Leonard Cohen "Nevermind" - featured as the titles track for season 2 of True Detective. Initially I wasn't feeling it, but week after week it seeped into my mind. As the season grew on me, so did this track.
Lera Lynn "The Only Thing Worth Fighting For", "My Least Favourite Life", and "Lately" - all featured in season 2 of True Detective (Lynn was the musician in the dingy bar where Ray and Frank regularly met). Along with T-Bone Burnett's excellent score, Lynn's downcast vibes deepened the haunting aesthetic of the show. The latter two are particular favourites of mine.
Rob Zombie "Zombie Live", "Spookshow International Live", "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor"
"Kung Fury" Soundtrack
Gunship "Tech Noir"
VIBES & FLAVOURS
How Mr Snuffles III and Others Met Their Maker - further re-drafts and working on a glossary that will appear in the published novella. This twisted little dark comedy has been a spontaneous affair - the spark happened and the ideas came quick - and it's been a hell of a lot of fun to discover the story on-the-page and in-the-moment for the most part. As such it evolved from a short story to a novelette to what will, sometime soon, become a novella ... and I had originally planned to be working on my next screenplay at this point ... but when inspiration strikes - GRAB HOLD! Also, getting close to the end of this project, I've been getting on with some of the 'end tasks' like writing a tight synopsis, creating the cover art, and compiling/formatting the document for publication.
Metro 2034 - Dmitry Glukhovsky's follow-up to his post-apocalyptic Metro 2033. The original book was very good, but it was needlessly over-long. The sequel, however, is more focused while maintaining Glukhovsky's chilling vision of a Russian underground network of tunnels and train stations, haunted by the mistakes of the past and the abominations of its present.
Crysis 2 - the Xbox 360 and PS3 era is old news now, but I'm still plugging away at some Xbox360 titles that I never got around to in years passed (such as, quite recently, Kane and Lynch 2). You can pick up a used copy of these old games dirt cheap, and having not yet made the leap to 'next gen' (Xbox One or PS4) it's a great way to get some added value out of your console. The Crysis franchise has it's fans, and while I'm not a hater of it, I'm not a particular fan either. I played the first game a couple of times on PC, and while it looked fantastic there was always something unexplainable missing from the experience for me ... I was never particularly taken with it ... and Crysis 2 is again a mixed bag. It has it's moments, there's fun to be had, and the crumbling New York setting is visually impressive, but the story and characters are underwhelming. Indeed, the game seemed to drag in later stages - the climax getting delayed again and again. The gameplay is smooth, but the ability for stealth seems limited until you get a decent upgrade, and even then the game wants you to get stuck in sooner or later. To each their own, but I'm thinking I'll skip catching up on Crysis 3.