West Country slackers, brooding heroes, a coven of witches, and a Gonzo journalist - just some of what has been setting the tone of my August 2016...
Click "READ MORE" below for this month's looks, sounds, vibes & flavours...
Wasted: Series 1 - featuring Sean Bean as a self-aware spirit guide version of himself, E4's new sitcom is like "Spaced" for the West Country. The protagonists are twenty-something drop outs drifting through a drug-tinged search for ... something, anything ... in a small rural town where a disastrous night out involves a Sunday roast at the local pub not coming with the obligatory Yorkshire Pudding (sacrilege, quite frankly!). Surprisingly funny, it had me laughing out loud within five minutes of the first episode - which is kind of a tall order with me. Sometimes cheeky, sometimes goofy, and sometimes sweet, "Wasted" is a little gem that's sprung out of nowhere. More please!
Mr Robot: Season 1 - yeah, I'm coming to this one a smidge late (at the time of writing Season 2 is underway), but better late than never, eh?
The DCEU - "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice", and "Suicide Squad". Click each title for my reviews.
A Clockwork Orange - I've seen Kubrick's cinematic adaptation of Burgess' novel so many times over the years, and I vividly remember when it finally returned to UK screens circa 2000 (at which point it struck like a bolt out of the blue for me and my formative years - the book, the movie, the soundtrack). It's strange to consider, though, that the script was based on the American version of the book, which is missing the final chapter!
Al Pacino - "Carlito's Way", "Dog Day Afternoon", "Serpico", "Donnie Brasco".
Hunter S. Thompson - what with reading 'Kingdom of Fear', this month turned into a bit of a Hunter S. Thompson ride with two excellent films ("The Rum Diary", "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas"), a documentary on the man himself ("Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride"), and a documentary on Ralph Steadman ("For No Good Reason"), the man who provided illustrations for much of HST's work.
American Horror Story: Season 3 - after the highlight that was AHS: Asylum (Season 2), AHS: Coven is a decidedly mediocre affair. The story lurches from one thing to another, but never settles long enough for any plot strand to become anything substantial. The plotting is also lacking in subtlety, so the viewer is never 'warmed up' to any of the ideas being put forward. Again, though, Jessica Lang is a joy to watch, but there's no beating her superb performance and complex character arc from the previous season.
There's some deliciously dark moments scattered throughout, but Coven never manages to scare; on occasion it can repulse but little more than that. One of the best parts of this third season, however, has been the inclusion of Kathy Bates as New Orleans serial killer Delphine LaLurie (although in real-life she escaped to Paris and was never brought to justice). That said, even here - particularly in later episodes - her arc lurches back and forward as if two different sets of writers with different ideas are working against each other. AHS tends to lean towards style over substance and 'weird for the sake of weird', but Coven is the weakest of the first three seasons by a clear margin, and suffers further coming on the heels of the thoroughly engaging second season. Indeed, Coven feels like it runs out of steam at regular intervals, stretching 8-10 episodes of material over 13 increasingly daft instalments. Decent, but it really could have been so much more.
Foo Fighters "Sonic Highways"
"A Clockwork Orange" OST
Nine Inch Nails "Pretty Hate Machine", "Broken", "The Downward Spiral", "The Fragile", "With Teeth", "Year Zero", "Ghosts I-IV", "Hesitation Marks"
Green Day "Bang Bang"
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
"Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century" by Hunter S. Thompson