Thursday, 30 June 2011

Flavours of the Month: June 2011...


Tron and Tron Legacy (Blu-Ray) - the original was a huge artistic and technical leap at the time (as illustrated plentifully on the disc), but in terms of the script it was a bit lacking. I feel that the sequel is definitely superior in this regard, and while it's not the technical cinematic landmark that Tron was, I still really, really dig it. A solid and focused plot married with superb visuals and a fantastic aural experience courtesy of Daft Punk.

Hatchet - sifting through the DVD extras, it certainly looks like it was a fun time making the movie, but it's a real shame that the passion didn't translate into anything remotely original. The movie itself is a grab-bag of moments from the Friday 13th franchise, and while modern horror debuts such as Eli Roth's Cabin Fever are oftentimes chock-full of references, the best ones use these references are a genre-fan aside. Cabin Fever referenced everything from Last House on the Left to Dawn of the Dead, The Evil Dead, and beyond, but the spark that lit the fire under Roth to make the movie was from personal experience of a flesh eating virus. Adam Green's Hatchet, however, has flawed goals from the off. You can't set out to deliberately make a loveable anti-hero horror rogue. None of the horror icons were intended to be icons, they just happened to become that over time ... this demonstrates the disappointing and misguided purpose behind Hatchet. At least they had a fun time making it.

Psychoville 2 - about as jet black as black humour can get, this series from two-thirds of The League of Gentlemen has been a very memorable viewing experience. I don't think I'll ever think of Tina Turner's "Simply The Best" in any other way but that of Maureen Sourbutts' horrifically comical rendition.

Paul Merton's Birth of Hollywood - as a student of film, this proved to be a fascinating three-part documentary series detailing the, well, birth of Hollywood. Scouring the arrival and increasing drawing power of silent cinema, the truth behind Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle's fall from grace, and the arrival of sound, Merton's series told this fascinating story with expertly balanced passion and humour.

Paul (Blu-Ray) - the disc is, compared to that of Scott Pilgrim (also from Universal), is somewhat lacking in the extras department (indeed it's curious that some of the production video blogs are missing - most notably the other half of the Frisbee blog, the first-half of which was featured on the Pilgrim Blu-Ray). However, a handful of silly asides, an enjoyably friendly commentary, and a solid making-of keep the end up. As for the film itself, it's still thoroughly entertaining.

Top Gear: The Great Adventures Vol. 1-3 - while Volume 1 is a bit of a mixed bag outside of an extended Polar Special (thanks to a rather disappointing treatment of the U.S. Special), the second and third volumes decidedly pick up the slack. Commentaries give a jovial insight into the production of Top Gear (and just how un-set-up it actually is, despite the protestations of its curiously always-vocal detractors), and the extended footage provides more meat for folk like me - huge fans of the world's number one motoring show.

L.A. Confidential (Blu-Ray) - inspired by L.A. Noire, I picked up the Blu-Ray on the cheap. It's a five-star film all the way, and one which just gets better with age and repeated viewings. You can clearly see where many influences came from with Team Bondi's game.

Raising Hope - I've really come to love this follow-up to the cancelled-too-soon My Name Is Earl. I do hope a second season is given to this show as, much like Earl, it elicits audible guffaws from me even when I'm watching it by myself.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World - what with finishing the graphic novels, the natural next step was another viewing of Edgar Wright's superb adaptation. I've seen it six times now, and even still I'm finding new things to appreciate. This time around it was the sound design - particularly the real world everyday sounds that are used to punctuate the dialogue and humorous moments. When I first saw it, it somewhat stumped me - yet I still enjoyed it - but I recognised that it was a somewhat niche 'thing' to get into. Something that would decidedly benefit from reading the source material - and I was proved right in that regard - as reading the books has given me a richer appreciation of the SP world and the film itself (and plenty of entertainment in-so-doing).


Nine Inch Nails "Year Zero" - it's taken me quite some time to get around to getting into this album, but I'm definitely into it now.

Anamanaguchi "Mermaid" - I found this via Edgar Wright's blog and I absolutely loved it. Stylistically it's like a modern twist on the music you used to hear on 8bit and 16bit videogames.

Tame Impala "Lucidity" - it's got a bit of a 1960s vibe to it. Heard it on a Top Gear episode from Christmas. Digging it; might have to look into getting their album.

UNKLE "Caged Bird" and "Follow Me Down" (Instrumentals)

Beck "Ramona" - there's been a distinctly Scott Pilgrim-shaped vibe to this month, and this wonderful track features on the movie's end credits.

Trent Reznor ft. Karen O "Immigrant Song" - as heard on the pounding trailer for David Fincher's version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Hopefully they release a full version of this arse-kicking cover soon!


The Walking Dead: This Sorrowful Life (Vol. 6) - the dialogue still has a propensity for exposition, but in terms of the artwork, and the situations that Robert Kirkman establishes for the characters to deal with, are jaw-dropping. The last few volumes have been increasingly shocking (in a good way), and this volume certainly had some particularly stunning moments.

L.A. Noire - well I've wrapped up Team Bondi's detective sandboxer and as I said last month, while it's flawed, it's a bold and involving step in a fresh direction.

Scott Pilgrim - "and the Infinite Sadness (Vol. 3)", "Gets It Together (Vol. 4)", "vs The Universe (Vol. 5)", "Finest Hour (Vol. 6)" - it's been since January that I last read the first two volumes of Brian Lee O'Malley's superbly entertaining and visually arresting graphic novels, so it was about time I resumed the series, and what do you know, I ended up barging the remaining four volumes. I consumed them voraciously and frequently laughed out loud at the dialogue and the artwork (in a good way). If you dug the movie, but haven't read the books yet - check out the books.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare - Rockstar San Diego's wild west sandboxer was my gaming highlight of 2010. It was a beautifully crafted (aside from a few minor bugs and glitches) game with an involving script, and it featured a new gaming icon - John Marston - a character that I genuinely cared for. Last year the DLC was released - basically Red Dead Redemption with zombies. It's relatively brief, but certainly not skimpy. New missions, side quests, strangers, random events, weapons and locations - plus it's crammed full of flesh-hungry undead and mythical beasts. I really enjoyed it, and while the original game is naturally better, it's a must-play for RDR fans. I even, for the first time with a sandboxer, got it to 100% completion. Let's hope that the fifth GTA is just as involving as RDR was.

Mark Kermode "It's Only A Movie" - Kermode was a figure of film criticism that I identified with strongly during my formative years. He appeared in numerous documentaries and film seasons on television (often regarding my beloved horror genre), and to this day I routinely watch/listen to his movie reviews. While the book so far has a tendency to meander and ramble in equal measure - like the man himself on BBC Radio 5 Live - that's also what makes it a personal journey through a life spent watching films for Kermode. I've particularly identified with his fascination with horror movies and other 'forbidden fruits' during his formative years.

As I've written about before, my formative years sat on both sides of the 1999 liberalisation of the BBFC. So on one hand there was the slack-jawed magnetic pull of the horror section of the video rental shop (remember those?), and the heavily cut version of The Evil Dead ... and on the other there was a whole list of genre milestones, freshly unleashed uncut (for most of them) onto the British public during my mid-teens ... the perfect timing, really. It's a time in my movie-watching history that I'll cherish forever - and it's that sort of love of film that this book exemplifies.

Allen Bridge - after a month-long break, it was time to head back to my drama/mystery screenplay. A tidying up of Act II first, and then proceeding onto Act III which is where, at the time of writing this, I currently reside.

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