Thursday 29 September 2011

Flavours of the Month: September 2011...


The A-Team (Blu-Ray) - still rather good fun. After a year or more of thinking the movie would suck, when I actually got to see it in the cinema last year I had a really good time, and it still is a good time. I'm not sure whether they will or not, but I would welcome a sequel.

Fast Five (Blu-Ray) - I never bothered with the second or third movie in the franchise (I saw clips and didn't like what I saw), and I found the fourth movie to be a bit underwhelming, but this fourth sequel was a bloody great time at the movies, and it continues to be so on home video (although goodness knows what the additional one minute of content is). Blisteringly enjoyable big-scale mainstream action.

Dangerous Roads (BBC2) - three episodes, three pairings of household British names (comedians and adventurers), and three distinctly treacherous journeys. In the absence of a new Boorman/McGregor adventure, this satiates the appetite a bit.

Carnivale - I missed this curious-and-rather-good show the first time around, but thanks to Sky Atlantic I've been catching up, and this month saw the first season draw to a close ... and what a closer it was! Cliffhanger central, so it was, with shocking twists galore edited together incredibly effectively to Hans Zimmer's "Journey to the Line".

Fresh Meat - a new comedy created by the blokes who gave us Peep Show, detailing the off-campus lifestyle of a bunch of first year uni students. I'm quite enjoying it, and not just because it's giving me flashbacks of my own time living off campus - mind you, our gaff was far smaller and decidedly more of a health hazard (bed bugs, persistent mold, and a bathroom that was cleaned so few times in two years that you could count them on one hand ... at the time we didn't seem to mind, yet the further from it I get, the more disgusting it appears). Although, the second episode was a step-down - some plots have been dived into all-too-quickly, and some characters are feeling a tad one-note - but hopefully it's just an early wobble from which the show will recover.


AL-P "The A-Team Theme (AL-P MSTRKRFT Remix)" - as heard on the Blu-Ray menu for 2010 The A-Team movie.

M83 "Midnight City (Big Black Delta Remix)" - October will see the long-awaited release of M83's new double-album, and in advance there's a few remixes of the first single doing the rounds.

Stelvio Cipriani "La Politzia Sta A Guardare" - as featured (briefly) in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, I re-discovered it playing during the trailer for the Italian giallo flick What Have They Done To Your Daughters?

HIM "Deep Shadows & Brilliant Highlights" - this is the band's third album, and it takes me right back to the wintry beginnings of 2003, listening to this and their second album (Razorblade Romance) after getting back from late afternoon screenings when it was pitch black and raining outside. Some albums transport you back to very specific times in your life, and this is one such album.

Hans Zimmer "Journey To The Line" - as mentioned above regarding the season one finale of Carnivale, this haunting piece of music was created for Terrence Malick's poetic The Thin Red Line.


The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 - what is there to say? The event that defined the decade (and no doubt will define the century) was a shocking assault on all of mankind whether witnessing it first hand, or through the chilling footage streaming live around the world. When the event itself was unfolding I was in the final year of the Sixth Form and one of the girls from our year said, somewhat curiously, that "a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center" - naturally we all thought of the time a small plane crashed into the Empire State Building, but by the time we all got home and saw the endlessly repeating footage we realised this was something totally and horrifically different. With each passing year - and with more and more fascinating (yet terrifying) documentaries about that day - it becomes a little easier to process, while at the same time continuing to be an inconceivable horror.

GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony - returning to the second DLC for Rockstar's smash hit sandboxer, and having got used to the tweaked controls featured in Red Dead Redemption, I found the controls and cover system to be at best fiddly and at worst utterly incapable (driving is something to merely get the hang of, but the cover system is awfully clunky here - however, thankfully, it was mostly improved in Red Dead Redemption). That said, I've had a ridiculous number of hours out of GTA IV (despite its faults) and I am very much looking forward to the next entry.

"Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th" by Peter M. Bracke - I was given this last year but only got around to reading about the first two movies in the franchise before I found myself with a stack of books (as Christmas gifts) to wade through - however I returned to Bracke's vastly informative tome and it has been a stonking good read. At the time of writing I'm up to Jason X.

Allen Bridge - after a bit of a hiatus, in which I sought feedback from a select few readers, I have returned to my drama/mystery script. I've plotted a list of additions and tweaks that I want to make, but I can see that where I am currently at - heading into Draft 2.1 - is the point at which I would have arrived at last year by Draft 3.2, so I feel quite confident in that I'm learning an awful lot. Indeed I've been putting as much care and attention into this script as I possibly can. Like I've said before, I am determined to make this one count!

Homefront - there's a shed load of games coming out over the next few months that will go onto my 'to do' list, not that I'll get to many of them anytime soon if at all, but this B-Grade shooter (from the writer of Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now) isn't too bad. It's definitely not in the same league as a Call of Duty, for instance, but it presents an intriguing and scarily almost-possible bleak future where America becomes a nation occupied by a united Korea. At times it is hauntingly dark (mass graves at baseball fields, a child's parents gunned down in front of them, white phosphorous melting enemies alive, etc) and despite a number of flaws (such as a stupidly short campaign, weak protagonists, and an occasionally rough finish) it's worth a play.

Dick Figures, and ASDFmovie - these two online animated series are well worth checking out. The former has so far racked up 19 mini episodes (from the same company that gave us Happy Tree Friends), and the latter is a wonderfully silly and inventive series of mini-sketches that have - for one thing - birthed a ridiculously catchy song called "I LIKE TRAINS".

Gears of War 2 - in preparation for the third entry in the monstrously successful Xbox360 exclusive franchise, I've returned for another bash through this first sequel which was without a doubt decidedly superior to the solid first game.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Hextuple Bill Mini Musings: Money, Men, and Evil...

Winter's Bone:
Set amidst the harsh mid-winter woodlands of Alabama, Jennifer Lawrence plays a 17 year old charged with raising her two young siblings, looking after her ill mother, maintaining a roof over their head, and ultimately tracking down her deadbeat meth-cooking father who has skipped bail and left the family home on the line. Meandering, slowly paced, sparsely plotted, and extremely atmospheric, it might take a while to pull you in but once it does its Oscar-nominated harsh realism will keep you intrigued ... although it's not quite all you might think it's trumped up to be. Intriguing.

The Invisible Man:
I was into the likes of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and The Bridge of Frankenstein long ago (they're all wonderful and everlasting pieces of early horror cinema), but it was only relatively recently that I got around to Dracula (which I was a bit half-and-half about, to be honest) - and likewise it has taken me a while to get around to James Whale's fantastically inventive and mischievous The Invisible Man. Naturally it's quaint by today's standards, but in 1933 the practical trickery and rudimentary visual effects must have been astounding - indeed they're wonderful to behold in 2011.

The opening is chilling (and not just literally) as Claude Rains' scientist pitches up at a remote tavern seeking peace and privacy in order to discover how to reverse the effects of his own creation - a chemical that has turned him invisible and violently unstable. Packed with humour, great character actors, splendid special effects, a strong visual approach that strained against the early confines of 'sound cinema', and a surprising dark streak at times, it is no wonder that Whale's classical horror picture has become a beloved and respected genre milestone.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps:
Gordon Gekko is back - the devil that accidentally become the poster boy and inspirational figure for a generation of Investment Bankers - but not quite as much, and in not quite the same way, as you might expect. Although he's still a dangerously charming bastard, so some things never change. Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan (an investment banker with a penchant for green fusion energy, and a lefty blogger, respectively) are the main focus of the plot that is set amongst the events leading up to and beyond the 2008 financial disaster.

Some of the money-speak gets a bit confusing (or maybe that's the point), the use of metaphors couldn't be more blunt (children blowing bubbles, for example), and certain Gekko character beats in the final act don't quite settle, but especially when compared to Stone's recent efforts (the comical but generally pointless W. and his somewhat spiritual World Trade Center) it's pretty good. It's definitely not in the same league as his iconic original - although the brash visual pace has returned with vigour - but there is a purpose behind this outing. An intriguing follow-up that fans of the 1980s original should definitely seek out.

World's Greatest Dad:
From Bobcat Goldthwait (yes, the guy from the Police Academy movies) comes this unique black comedy, featuring Robin Williams as a failed writer/teacher, who is wrapped up in a whirlwind after a tragic event occurs in his life (a moment that is delivered with chilling realism by Williams). Seeking to disguise the reason behind it, he inadvertently writes a book that gains national attention. Quirky, unique, and with a dark wit that combines the ordinary with the extraordinary, it's well worth checking out. Bonus points also for the reverence afforded to proper zombie films featuring the shambling undead.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil:
It feels like a very long time since I first heard about this flick - a horror comedy in which the grim-looking hillbillies are the bumbling good guys, not the machete wielding psychopaths, and the gaggle of fresh-faced 'teens' are deadly in their ineptitude. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play the titular hillbillies who venture into the Appalachian mountains to renovate their new holiday home, only to get mixed up in a gore-ific and hilarious comedy-of-errors. One thing though - whoever cut the trailer should be slapped - they spoiled so many great moments from the flick (especially in the Red Band Trailer). So if you like the idea of the flick, avoid the trailers and just see it - I enjoyed it a lot, but I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more if so many of the good bits hadn't been blown by the ever-so-revealing trailer.

From the creator of Basket Case (which explains a lot) comes this utterly barmy rejigging of the Frankenstein story. A Jersey boy called Jeffrey (who spends his spare time performing self-administered brain surgery with a drill, and looking after his experiment/pet brain-with-an-eyeball-in-it creation) creates a remote controlled lawnmower that promptly hacks his girlfriend to pieces. Fortunately he's working on piecing her back together, but seeing as he's missing all but a foot, hand, and her head, he ventures across the bridge into the red light district of New York to gather just the right parts from prostitutes. Initially his plan goes explosively off-course, but he succeeds in bringing his girlfriend back to life - except she's now a monstrous Frankenhooker! It's utterly, utterly mental - perhaps almost too silly straight-off-the-bat, but after I stuck with it for a little bit it all came together and proved to be quite an enjoyable load of gory nonsense.

Monday 19 September 2011

"Allen Bridge" blog #24...

It's been a while since the last time I posted about this script - the 18th of July to be exact - so here we are, a couple of months later, and what's been going on with it?

Well, a couple of projects had to be worked on, a holiday was had, and some general time away from the script was also needed. However, in the intervening time I've run the script by a select few to read and provide feedback via a questionnaire and debrief discussion - that's a new tactic I've decided to employ on this script. On previous scripts I rarely showed them to others, or only on a somewhat casual basis, but this time I'm getting ultra serious about doing all I can to make this one count.

I've also found a couple more places that I can submit to (frustratingly, so many companies are either not interested in writers of my current station at all, or insist that you're well connected enough to be represented by a production company or an agent - which rather limits the opportunities for people like me) ... so rather than the BBC Writersroom alone, there are now a handful of other places to try my luck with. Indeed, the idea is to re-draft last year's Summer Road after Allen Bridge is done, dusted, and submitted - and submit that re-draft to the welcoming companies that I've recently discovered.

However that is then, and this is now, so back to the feedback situation. I've been going over the questionnaire answers, and topics of discussion, today in order to compress it all down into a comprehensive and organised list of areas that I want to tweak, clarify, and further explore. Once I have that list properly compiled, I am then going to go through the script page-by-page and jot down corresponding numbered notes along the way ... then I'll be ready to put fingers-to-keyboard on Draft 2.1 of Allen Bridge.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Strip Nude For Your Killer (Andrea Bianchi, 1975) DVD Review...

Find more Shameless Screen Entertainment DVD reviews here.

It's a very real possibility that you've never heard of this mid-70s giallo flick, let alone seen it (especially if you're British), but - thanks to Shameless Screen Entertainment (in their gleefully gaudy yellow DVD cases) - you can.

The film kicks right off at the business end of an abortion that goes tragically wrong for the fashion model on the receiving end of the procedure, thus setting into motion a series of killings perpetrated by a vengeful and lithe figure adorned in black leather motorcycle gear. Everyone at the dead girl's modeling agency could be a suspect or the next victim, and with the police struggling to crack the case, it's up to a photographer and his beautiful assistant to solve the case - when they're not busy stripping off and getting steamy with each other, that is.

Packed to the rafters with bare flesh, the sexual politics are obviously well dated, but fans of beautifully photographed and skilfully directed giallo with a touch of sleaze will be in for a treat. Franco Delli Colli's photography (polished up by Shameless and presented in its original aspect ratio) mixes perfectly with Francesco Bertuccioli's scene-blendingly crisp editing, and Andrea "The Zombie Dead" Bianchi's smoothly crafted, tension-inducing direction.

Like many giallo flicks, the focus is more on beautiful images and gorgeous girls, than telling a tightly scripted narrative, but if you enjoyed the giallo movies of Dario Argento's early career (such as The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, and Deep Red) and you're wanting to branch out a bit further into the scene, then Strip Nude For Your Killer is an ideal next step for cinematic connoisseurs.

Shameless Screen Entertainment's Region Free DVD comes with a series of trailers for this and other titles in their catalogue, as well as a reversible sleeve so you can choose which lurid cover is more to your liking (both feature the same back cover, replete with 13 screenshots ... all of which have boobs in them ... for your information).

Bianchi's film is garish, gorgeous, brutal and beautiful all at the same time.

Monday 12 September 2011

Quadruple Bill Mini & Cine Musings: Action, Frights & Jet Black Comedy...

From the Luc Besson stable comes this quick bit of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am action (directed by Olivier 'Transporter 3' Megaton), although that said, when compared to the likes of District 13, Taken (in particular), and From Paris With Love (all Directed by Pierre Morel), this flick isn't as punchy and blistering as I'd expected. District 13 was stylish, fast-paced, and had a great hook with the use of parkour ... Taken was brutal, smart about it's combat efficiency, and turned Liam Neeson into a formiddable middle-aged action hero ... and then From Paris With Love was just barmy but really quite good fun. Colombiana is much more generic and less brash than those three flicks ... it's a brief bit of fun, but Zoe Saldana needs a ballsier shoot 'em up if she's going to ascend to true action heroine status.

Slaughter High:
A cheap and generally silly slasher from the 1980s (featuring Caroline Munroe who - then in her mid-30s - begins the movie playing a bitchy teenager in high school). There's a few good kills, a couple of chucklesome lines, and one stand-out genuinely nifty scene featuring an electrified bed. Apart from that it's no classic and really only worth seeing if you're a hardcore horror nerd.

Fright Night:
Another beloved genre flick gets the remake treatment, but nevermind that, this is the original 1980s horror comedy that many of a certain age hold dear to their hearts. It has the same fun-loving cheesiness exhibited by the likes of Return of the Living Dead, and while scripts these days wouldn't be allowed to get away with thinly sketched protagonists and brushed-aside leaps in the plot, the decidedly 1980s style and sense of fun propels it foward. It's just a big shame that 5* (the TV channel cashing in on the Colin Farrel-starring remake being out in cinemas) failed to air it in the correct aspect ratio - it was as if they'd just chucked in some dusty old VHS tape they found on a shelf somewhere.

Four Lions:
Chris Morris' incredibly jet black comedy about a group of inept, Westernised terrorist wannabes sounds like an exercise in extreme bad taste - and yet it's really quite entertaining. Everybody in the film is a bit of an idiot (even the police have no idea what they're doing - at one point two snipers argue about the difference between The Honey Monster and a Wookie when trying to identify a target), but even when it reaches its climax it doesn't avoid the chilling side of terrorism ... albeit in the context of an utter bugger up. Simply, it's well worth seeing, and if you're a fan of the likes of Brass Eye, then it's an absolute must-see.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Abortion: Ancient & Modern (2011)...

This project (three films between 15 and 20 minutes each) was a chance to further build upon my previous experience with educational DVDs, and what I've done with them in the past. Being on the topic of abortion, which is a difficult thing to represent on-screen, due to its controversial nature but also in terms of a concept - it's incredibly hard to be literal about it (due to a lack of footage, but also not wanting to get exploitative and visceral), so I had to develop a more metaphorical and ambient approach to the visuals.

On previous educational DVDs we used a lot more Public Domain 'Public Information Films' (PIFs), but here it wouldn't have worked, so combining modern day stock footage and photos with more ethereal elements such as water, smoke, and light, in our own established style ("video collage" as I often put it), proved to be a successful way to present the subject - both visually and as a topic of discussion and information for Sixth Form students.

Below are some examples of feedback that we have gained, as well as sample video clips. Visit for more information about Abortion: Ancient & Modern.

"I congratulate you warmly on this production, well balanced and full of fascinating history. Well worth screening outside classrooms too."

Lord David Steel, Architect of the 1967 Abortion Act

"A brilliant resource. All three films are extremely thought provoking and material is presented in a sensitive manner."

Sarah Hopkins, Religious Studies Subject Leader, Bishop Hedley High School

"These films are of an exceptionally high standard. They are well-researched and ideal for discussion. Highly recommended."

Tina Hollingsworth, Westminster College

"Very insightful and challenging.... really good."

Beth Aston, A Level RS Student

Monday 5 September 2011

Roger Corman's Cult Classics Triple Feature: The Women In Cages Collection DVD Review...

The Big Doll House (Jack Hill, 1971):
Jack Hill had a great run of exploitation flicks - balancing sex, violence, style, and wit with aplomb - as he would go on to give us not only Coffy, but Foxy Brown as well. A couple of years prior however, he established his working relationship with Pam Grier (this was her first major role) and Sid Haig in The Big Doll House - where the likes of Judy Brown and Roberta Collins' crims are serving hard sentences in a hellish female prison in the raging heat of the Philipines.

Straining against a sadistic Wardress, if the chained chicks want to survive they'll have to hatch an escape plan, employing the services of two hot-under-the-collar fruit sellers. While women in prison movies had been around for decades at this point, Hill's flick certainly proved very influential over those that followed (even if 99 Women (Jesus Franco, 1969) arrived just beforehand). It became a huge financial success and helped considerably to firmly establish the template for the innumerable WIP films to come. The film plays to its exploitation roots with mud-caked girl fights, gratuitous shower scenes, and so on, but the female prisoners are sympathetic, strong-willed, sassy and defiant - they may go through hell, but when given the chance they'll dish out unrestrained vengeance upon their captors.

* * *

Women In Cages (Gerry De Leon, 1971):
The Big Doll House had been a hit, so Corman sent a crew straight back out into the jungle heat to shoot another one - and the rush-job approach certainly shows. The plot is half-lifted from The Big Doll House, as well as Grier, Collins, and Brown all returning for acting duties.

Hill's signature balance of exploitation and smarts is generally absent, with De Leon lacking his predecessor's style and skill ... and what's more, the sound effects are an absolute mess. Even at a trim 81 minutes it's a bit sluggish, and while it's certainly not a snoozer, it's easily the least of this particular collection. That said, there are many entries in the WIP genre that are considerably worse than this film which, issues aside, isn't too bad. Compared to the two Jack Hill movies that are also on this set, Women In Cages does have exhibit the darkest tone of the three, with added focus on theatrical torture scenes. On it's own it'd only be for hardcore exploitation flick fans, but in the context of this boxset it works well.

* * * 

The Big Bird Cage (Jack Hill, 1972):
Returning to re-work the success of The Big Doll House, Jack Hill's style and sense of humour are back in spades. If anything he's turned the dial up to eleven: for instance, every male guard is gay, all the chicks are gagging for it, and Sid Haig's revolutionary has to flirt outrageously to get a job on the inside.

It's an impressively put together flick bringing Grier and Haig back together again as revolutionaries looking to boost their numbers and morale by busting out the fetching femmes of a nearby prison work camp - where an oppressive sugar cane mill dominates the terrain. The idea of revolutionaries reflected the real-world politics of the region at the time and became a common theme for some of these movies - for example, it was referenced in The Big Doll House, and again in Black Mama, White Mama (Eddie Romero, 1973).

Building on his established and successful formula, Hill also picks up the scripting duties and provides plenty of laughs to balance out the scantily clad lovelies. Teda Bracci's uniquely ebullient performance produces ear-to-ear grins, while Grier plants the seeds of her bad ass chick schtick that she would build upon in the following years for Coffy and Foxy Brown. Anitra Ford, meanwhile, plays it cool, calculating, and smoulderingly sexy as the girl with all the right secrets from torrid trysts with government figures. It's easily the best of the set, and worth the price of admission alone.

* * * 

Presented by Shout Factory, this two disc, three-movie set - bringing together the first three 'Women in Prison' movies produced by Roger Corman's New World Pictures - is a must buy for fans of 1970s exploitation and grindhouse cinema. All of the films have been cleaned up nicely, and presented anamorphically in their original aspect ratios, and while the audio is at times a touch troubled (particularly in Women In Cages), these movies - birthed in the heat on Manila - have been given the attention and respect that some cinemagoers would never afford them in a million years.

Rounding out the package are two commentaries with Jack Hill, a series of stills galleries, trailers, and most impressive of all a specially made documentary titled From Manila With Love which goes behind the scenes of The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage with numerous key players (Jack Hill, Sid Haig, Anitra Ford, Teda Bracci, Roger Corman, and more). Running just shy of 50 minutes it leaves you wanting more, but nor does it abandon you with a sense of lacking. It's a nicely put together documentary and is the perfect way to complete this package. Two thumbs up for Shout Factory!

Friday 2 September 2011

Triple Bill Mini/Cine Musings: September 2011...

Super 8:
A group of pre-teens are set to spend the summer of 1979 making a zombie movie (hence the title), but things don't go exactly according to plan after a passing train ("production value!") derails spectacularly and unleashes - something - upon a typically Spielbergian small town. J.J. Abrams, a name synonymous with good storytelling, thrilling action, and teasing intrigue, delves deep into his childhood and serves up an excellent dose of nostalgia. At times the thematic and stylistic nods to Spielberg's earlier work (such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T.) become somewhat overwhelming, the reveal of the big bad beastie isn't quite as thrilling as the tease, and some of the adults' back stories are skimmed over a bit. Nonetheless, these minor quibbles don't spoil a well crafted coming-of-age sci-fi bone-rattler that remembers that plot is key to hooking your audience.

The Inbetweeners Movie:
I was so looking forward to this movie version of the excellent E4 TV series that I probably spoiled my viewing a bit - that's not to say I didn't enjoy it (I thoroughly lapped it up), but it's best for fans to temper their expectations a tad. The four boys have completed their A-Levels and jet off on a sun-sea-sex holiday, and - this being The Inbetweeners - they get into a series of cringe-inducing scrapes and social faux-pas moments. From silly asides to up-front gross-out moments, the flick bounds along at a good lick and provides a satisfying closer to a mini TV phenomena that grew in popularity with every series. Hopefully there'll be an uncut (it was slightly trimmed to gain a 15 rating) and extended version when it hits home video.

Eden Lake:
A so-called 'hoody horror' starring Michael Fassbender and that guy who played Cooke in the second incarnation of Skins. A young couple head to the titular lake for a romantic time, only to have it spoiled by a gang of feral teenagers raised by vicious parents. As the battle between the out-of-town couple and the teens escalates, so does the intense bleakness. Siding with the theory of nurture, over nature, causeing violent offspring, the hands-off approach and downbeat sensibility will leave viewers rattled. The dark and depressing tone manages to cover over most of the plot holes to make an actually horrific horror movie - one that is all-the-more chilling and important in the wake of the English riots. One thing though, ITV4 showed this (like many other 2.35:1 movies) in a cropped 16x9 presentation - so the framing (specifically designed for 2.35:1) was butchered throughout ... so pay attention ITV4 - show films in their original aspect ratios!

Thursday 1 September 2011

Flavours of the Month: August 2011...


Hobo With A Shotgun (Blu-Ray) - my favourite movie of 2011 finally hits UK shores on home video. Check out my review from earlier this month.

Beaver Falls - showing on E4, this show about three Brits who spend their summer as camp counsellors at an American summer camp is pretty good fun. It's much better than Glory Daze which also showed on E4 earlier this year, but a mere six episodes in length feels a bit too brief.

Wilfred - a sitcom about Elijah Wood and a guy dressed as a dog (but is actually a dog to everyone else). Nuff said. Good fun.


Nirvana - I've been touring through their back catalogue, from "Bleach" to "Unplugged In New York".

Rage Against The Machine "Maggie's Farm" - as heard at the end of The Other Guys.


Alan Wake - I've been meaning to replay Remedy's excellent 'psychological action thriller', but there had always been something else to fill my designated 'videogame time' - however I finally got around to giving it a second run through, and once again I loved every second of it. It deserved to sell many more units than it did (it clashed with the excellent Red Dead Redemption, after numerous delays), and while it has some flaws, it's just so involving and atmospheric and has that unique Remedy vibe.

Scotland - I was off on holiday to Scotland again this year to catch a bit of the festival and do some of the tourist spots. The Royal Yacht Britannia, Best of the Fest, Ed Byrne at the EICC, The Real Mary King's Close, and Stirling Castle were some of the highlights - and I even spotted comedian Mark Watson walking past the BBC Three compound.

Frank Miller "Sin City: The Hard Goodbye" - I loved the movie, but I haven't gotten around to reading the graphic novels, however I finally gave this one a read (included with the Recut & Extended Region 1 DVD that I got damn near six years ago) and so I think I must give the un-filmed books a look-see.