Tuesday 29 November 2011

Flavours of the Month: November 2011...


The Walking Dead (Season 2, Part 1) - the best thing to happen to zombies since Romero's Day of the Dead in 1985, AMC's superb zombie drama (adapted from Robert Kirkman's deliciously dark comics series) continues apace despite the odd spell of behind-the-scenes trouble. The first half of the season has come to an end (the remaining six episodes will begin airing in February 2012), and it's been an excellent run of episodes. One thing though - bloody spoilers - some out there in the world of the interwebs have been annoyingly loose-lipped at times, and for us Brits that's been quite frustrating (we see the episodes five days after they air in America). Indeed one of the biggest shocks of the season was completely spoiled for me. Despite the minefield of spoilers though, many twists and turns were left un-spoiled, and it has been a very satisfying series of episodes. Now the desperate fanboy wait for February begins...


David Lynch - he recently released an album titled Crazy Clown Time, and while a number of the tracks weren't to my liking, several were: "Pinky's Dream", "So Glad", "Noah's Ark", "Football Game", "The Night Bell With Lightning", and "These Are My Friends".

Julee Cruise "Nightingale"

God Is An Astronaut "Forever Lost"

Alice Cooper - I've respected his music and dabbled in it for quite a while now, but after seeing his 2011 Halloween concert on Sky Arts, I've been seeking out some of his albums at long, long last.

Blink182 "Neighborhoods" - their new album takes me back to my formative years when "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket" was practically on an endless loop at the Sixth Form.

Daft Punk "Tron Legacy Reconfigured" - a number of the tracks are utter tosh (a lazy, generic, ill-fitting dance beat that occasionally halts to drop a bit of the original track to quality for the compilation), but others are terrific remixes: "Derezzed" by The Glitch Mob, "Fall" by M83 & Big Black Delta, "The Son Of Flynn" by Moby, "Encom Part 2" by Com Truise, "End Of Line" by Photek, and "End Of Line" by Tame Impala are the stand-outs for me.


The Walking Dead Vol. 7 & 8 - I'm forever trying to catch up with the comics, and this is as far as I've got so far. No spoilers for those who haven't got to this point, but bloody nora is volume 8 a memorable one!

Illness - this autumn/winter season I've had this bizarre muscular/nervous flu which roams around various parts of the body. Aches, pains, headaches, exhaustion, stiff joints, sharp pains - and all on a constant rotation around my body for at least a couple of weeks. Fortunately it seems to have all gone, but what a weird one.

Homefront - it's not the most polished example of an FPS out there, and the ludicrously short single player campaign (3.5 hours from start-to-ruddy-finish!) has a few stumbles and design faults, but the central conceit of a Unified Korea occupying America in a bleak near-future is still quite interesting. Hopefully Crytek will fully crack it for the apparent sequel that they're working on.

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky - so far I'm half way through this very dense piece of horror fiction set in the unforgiving Russian subway system in a post-apocalyptic world. At times it's a little too slow paced, and the author's style isn't particularly fond of paragraph breaks, but the world of the Metro is vividly depicted with a complete overview of the socio-political situation down there in the dark, danger-infested tunnels.

Saints Row The Third - while Crib customisation has all-but been removed in favour of new features, this third entry in the once sub-GTA franchise is easily the best of the three. The sloppy coding, gameplay, and balancing of Saints Row 2 are gone (mercifully), and in their place is a very solid and very enjoyable game. I've only encountered a couple of small glitches along the way such as the odd texture issue, no max-speed sound effect for any of the vehicles, or the odd roadblock on the occasional mission - but the latter have easily been remedied by starting again from the most recent checkpoint. I'm about 3/4 of the way through at the moment and it's pretty much a vast improvement across the board - the plot is tighter and actually interesting this time (if not particularly meaningful - but that wouldn't fit in anyway), the gameplay is tight and enjoyable, the in-game cell phone is perfectly formed for handling all your upgrade, mission, map, contact, and monetary needs, and the high level of utter daftness is most welcome. Professor Ghenki's Super Ethical Reality Climax (one of the many activities you can take part in) is a particularly good example of the sort of barmy fun you can have with this game. Well worth your time and money!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Pentuple Bill Mini Musings: November 2011...

The Exterminator:
This 1980s exploitation action flick got somewhat caught up in the 'video nasties' era here in the UK, but save for a few violent moments (such as a tremendous decapitation in the action-packed, explosions-galore opening five minutes) there's not an awful lot here to get your knickers in a twist about.

A Vietnam veteran takes to the meanstreets of New York City to sweep away the scum - the gang members, the pimps, the abusers, and so forth - in revenge for the terrible fate that befalls his good friend. After an impressively realised and explosive Nam-set opener, the movie quickly falters - the pace is all over the shop, the plot has an inconsistent focus, and the side characters are loosely considered. There are numerous great ideas littered throughout this revenge flick, including a vaguely explored governmental conspiracy, that could have (and should have) added up to a much tighter and more entertaining action picture - but alas it's not to be, especially with an underwhelming denouement that fails to provide a knock-out punch (let alone utilise the impressive arsenal that two main characters are seen packing).

Great ideas and great moments are lost in a disappointing murk. If you're into this kind of movie it's worth a watch, but unless it specifically hooks you, it'll mostly fade into the ether of your memory.

Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House:
As a kid I was a big fan of the Tom Hanks comedy The Money Pit (and I still am to this day) - and it was this Cary Grant-starring comedy that provided the foundations for it. Grant plays an Ad Executive in 1948 New York who dreams of a family home in rural Conneticut and, like an episode of Grand Designs, his dream project soon takes on a life of its own. The budget spirals, problems galore arise during the build, and it all becomes a bit of a stress. Naturally I prefer The Money Pit - as it's been a part of film-viewing life for as long as I can remember - but it was good to see this. The pace might be a bit sedate, and the comedy a touch on the soft-delivery side of things, but it was good fun nonetheless.

Island of Death:
One of the lesser known (yet still notorious) 'Video Nasties', Island of Death is a Biblically immoral tale of an incestuous couple spreading their wrath throughout the Greek island of Mykonos. Goats, amorous Frenchmen, homosexuals, randy old spinsters, the most pointless policeman on the planet, and anyone else going feel the wrath of this pair of misfits whose motives are - at best - foggy. The love-it-or-hate-it soundtrack works jarringly against-the-grain of the on-screen sadism, and it lacks any real sense of propulsion or purpose, but if you're fascinated by the era of the video nasty, then it's worth a look ... mind you, I'm quite glad I saw it on the Horror Channel instead of spending any money on it. To me at least, it's a one-watch-pony.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou:
As I've said before, over the last year I've suddenly gotten into Wes Anderson's brand of quirky ensemble comedies. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, and now this - a similarly inimitable telling of Bill Murry's titular sea explorer who discovers he has an adult son just as he's about to set off on a voyage to track down the apparent Jaguar Shark that ate his best friend and collegue. It's exactly what I'd expect from a Wes Anderson film, although out of the aforementioned movies of his that I have seen, this would be at the bottom of the list for me personally - but that said, the bottom of this list is still quite high up in general.

A cast full of names - including John Cusack (so as I continue to maintain, it's already worth watching simply for that fact) - populate this very effective, and incredibly fast paced mystery thriller. A series of people find themselves all trapped at a Motel in the midst of a torrential storm, and they're getting picked off one-by-one by an unseen killer. The reveal becomes apparent before its time and should have been hidden better for longer, but regardless, it's a stylish, efficient and very worthwhile thriller delivered by a talented cast and crew. It's one of those flicks I meant to see when it first came out in 2003, but for whatever reason I never got around to it - well I'm glad I finally did, because it's damn well worth a watch.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

So now what?

With copies of the script and copies of treatments sent off to production companies for "Allen Bridge", I figured it was about time to head back to "Summer Road".

I learned a lot from writing Summer Road (both in terms of the actual process of writing, but also from the feedback I received from the BBC Writersroom) and then of course writing Allen Bridge (as detailed in 30 blog posts) was a great writing experience from which I was able to not only learn an awful lot more - but apply what I'd already learned from past experiences.

So, having found new avenues to submit scripts to, I'm going to head back to this comedy/drama script and do a full-on re-write. I'm still proud of the script, but having learned so much since, I can see a whole array of opportunities to improve upon it - and hopefully, being that so much of the work is done (i.e. adapting an existing script, not starting from the very beginning again) it won't take too long to complete this revamping project.


On the side I've also got numerous ideas flooding in for an as-yet-untitled drama/horror script that I have in mind - I'd really like to write something that comes in at a tight 90 pages, and return to the horror genre (the BBC Writersroom don't accept horror scripts, but some of the new companies accepting scripts that I've found do accept genre fare) ... so that's what I have in mind for after the Summer Road re-write.

Sunday 13 November 2011

The Walkie Talkie Dead...

It's all about The Walking Dead at the moment as season two continues to kick mucho arse, so with that in mind here's a video that a fellow poster over on Homepage of the Dead linked to that I found utterly hilarious:

I've since subscribed to their channel and watched all of their videos - they're fantastic - you should check them out.

The only downsides to season two of TWD? The intrusive amount of adverts on FXUK, and the fact that us Brits have to wait until the following Friday to see each new episode - five tense spoiler-avoiding days ... but nevertheless, I'm absolutely loving the second season!

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Double Bill Mini Musings: A Double Dose of David...

Inland Empire:
As if Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive melded together and birthed a rabbit-headed Polish baby with a penchant for industrialised zones and the murky unknown. Perhaps Lynch's most cryptic outing as a director, Inland Empire is a shot-on-miniDV mixture of old and new ground - similar themes from films past, present themselves along a path that is distinctly non-linear; one that is experimental.

An actress wins a role on a cursed film - one that was already abandoned once before when titled 4-7 - and soon finds her sense of reality breaking down. She inverts on her own life, confuses her past and present, becomes more than one version of herself (and possibly so for the character she is playing in the film), and goes through a protracted and twisted nightmare ... most specifically during the middle-hour of this three-hour journey.

By comparison, Mulholland Drive is a relatively straight-forward tale told in an unusual way ... although I think that could be said of Lynch's work in general - to an extent - in that, perhaps, his work appears to be more weird because of Lynch's particularly unique outlook and approach to his art. The central mystery of Mulholland Drive was the unravelling of a dream ... meanwhile Inland Empire is an altogether different beast. Lynch's experience making the film was one of discovery as he himself has stated - it began as one thing and developed over time into a whole other thing. Disparate scenes and ideas slowly and intricately began to fuse together to form an extremely complex whole.

To understand the whole film would be to miss the point - the mystery is the journey and the journey is the mystery - indeed, quite possibly, Inland Empire might be impossible to understand in its entirety. There is most definitely a plot snaking around the non-linear pacing of the scenes, and each viewer will grasp onto certain themes and images in their own way, and as such this is quite possibly Lynch's most interpretable film to date.

Red lamps, strobe lighting, doorways, nightmares, dreams, alternate/inverted realities, multiple personalities/identities, curious and threatening figures, the dark underbellies of seemingly stable lives and situations ... all are combined throughout this curious, enchanting, haunting, disturbing, unsettling, experimental digital world.

Lynch (one):
Shot during the production of Inland Empire, this documentary follows filmmaker David Lynch around in his life. Pockets of stories are left scattered around the running time like discarded cigarette butts on Lynch's office floor; snippets of behind-the-scenes moments from the making of Lynch's most recent film are diced between photography sessions in abandoned factories, one-sided phone calls, and the bookends of various unidentified moments. For Lynch fans, it's well worth checking out - it's a window into the world of Lynch; simultaneously strange and straight-forward.

Double Bill Mini Musings: Junkies and Demons...

Half Nelson:
I remember there was a lot of talk about this movie when it came out in 2006 - much of which was focused entirely on Ryan Gosling's arresting performance. All I knew about it was that it featured a teacher who happened to be a drug addict; however I never got around to seeing it until now. Sure enough, Ryan Gosling plays a teacher/druggie who bumbles about in a distracted haze ... one minute he's teaching his inner city students about change and opposing forces, the next he's smoking crack. He strikes up a sort of friendship with one of his students - the niece of a drug dealer - and so begins a meandering, distracted, and sometimes sparse film which is at times brilliant, but is at other times either politically blunt or just downright boring. If it wasn't for Gosling's performance, I'm not sure if the film would have even half of the plaudits it was garnered with a few years back ... however, if you muddle your way through the parts of the film that feel unintentionally lost, there are numerous moments that make the journey worthwhile - moments filled with unspoken pathos and deft direction. It's just a shame it can often feel as distracted and directionless as its protagonist.

Night of the Demons (2010):
I've never seen the original movie, so I can't say anything about this remake in those terms, however what I can say is this; it's ideal bloke's night-in fodder. Never mind that the script gets increasingly weak throughout the 90 minute running time, there's a load of gore, boobs, and nice production design on-the-go ... not that the latter will particularly be on the mind of the members of a beer and pizza session, but it certainly helps raise this above cheaper fare. Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie), Monica Keena (Freddy vs. Jason), and Diora Baird (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), offer up the bloke-friendly eye candy, while Edward Furlong (yes, John Connor from Terminator 2) dishes out plenty of wry sarcasm. Add in some nifty gore moments, and you've got a decent exploitation flick - it's all about the gore and the boobs and nothing more - it's no genre classic by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly won't linger long in your memory banks, but for lad's night-in fodder it's worth a punt. Again, having not seen the original, I can't comment on how it compares to the original - but it is what it is - stylishly presented buxom babes and gushing grue.