Tuesday 31 July 2012

Flavours of the Month: July 2012...


Futurama: Season 5 - or, as it is also referred to, the first half of season six. The Futurama folk consider the four movies, which were each in-turn split into four parts, to constitute a supposed 'fifth season', so when they triumphantly returned to TV via Comedy Central, they were onto 'season six'. Anyway - a couple of slightly weaker episodes in the mix (and some examples of ever-so-blunt socio-political commentary) may be present, but it's still wickedly funny a second-time-around. It's a bit bloody daft though, that 'season six' (the back-half of the 26 episodes, which were begun with these here 13 episodes) won't be out on UK DVD until March 2013! Season Seven is already underway, and the episodes have long-since been available in other territories - it's the same story with Robot Chicken's fifth season, which still hasn't struck the Region 2 market (despite being available in other territories for a long time now).

Alan Partridge - Sky Atlantic have clearly been doing very well, and have therefore set about bringing in a whole slew of brand new comedy (some of which they've produced). 10 weeks of new Alan Partridge content is one such example of Monday-based mirth - a chucklesome way to relive my old stomping grounds from my uni days.

Adam Buxton's Bug - I was (and remain) a huge fan of The Adam & Joe Show, which was on Channel 4 back in the 1990s, so I always take great interest in what the two of them have done since. This is a televised version of Buxton's live "Bug" shows, in which he shares weird and wonderful music videos, web content, and computer-based japes, and reads through some of the bizarre and hilarious comments left behind by everyday YouTube users. Now four episodes in, you can see that Buxton has relaxed into the televised setting of his show, and I look forward to the rest of the shows.

The Newsroom - Aaron Sorkin's new drama has kicked off in grand style. The second episode was a bit weak, but the first and third episodes have been stormers. His trademark machine-gun dialogue is in-place, with a wishful outlook on how television news should be, rather than how it is. Indeed, as someone who is decidedly fed up with modern television news (as well as various sectors of journalism in general), it's a good bit of wish fulfilment for me to boot.

The Angelos Epithimiou Show - it's hard to describe why this character is so funny; it has to be seen to be understood, and even then he's not going to be to everyone's liking. No wonder he first came to wide attention on the now-cancelled Shooting Stars. "What's in your bag Angelos? Tell me what's in your bag - ya bastard!"

Click "READ MORE" below for more looks, sounds, vibes and flavours - including zombies, meth, Zimmer, and Duke...

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Quadruple Bill Mini Musings: Booze, Bots, Aliens, and Body-swapping...

The Lost Weekend:
What's it about?
Billy Wilder's Oscar-snatching drama about a writer who is hopelessly addicted to alcohol, and finds himself alone with just his inner-turmoil and his bottle.
Who would I recognise in it?
It depends how well you know your 1940s cinema, but Ray Milland and Jane Wyman.
While not as deliciously dark as Wilder's previous film Double Indemnity, nor as blackly comic as his iconic Sunset Boulevard, Wilder brings his trademark touch of class and incisive directorial skill to one writer's alcoholism. Naturally, the subject is dealt with to 1940s standards (although I'd wager it took away a few breaths upon its initial release), you might draw some parallels with the hopeless alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas (a relatively more modern telling of a similar depressive tale of the battle with the bottle). It might split the audience - one man's seemingly cosy ending, is another man's rather more ambiguous fade out that uncomfortably comes full circle. Great, with a few softened edges.

Click "READ MORE" below for robo-boxing, gunslingers shooting up aliens, and projectile poo jokes...

Monday 23 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (Spoiler-Free) Review...

What's it about?
The closing chapter in Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed blockbusting trilogy of Batman films, which began with 2005's Batman Begins, and continued with 2008 phenomenon The Dark Knight. It's now eight years since the events of the previous film, and we find Gotham to be on an even keel at last. Bruce Wayne is now a shut-in, and Batman is no more ... that is until Bane, a muscle-bound brute of superior intelligence, seeks to turn the city over to its people in his own inimitable way.
Who would I recognise in it?
Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cottilard, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and more.
Following the success and iconography of The Dark Knight was always going to be a tall order, but in the hands of Christopher Nolan & Co, it was always going to be a safe bet that this closing chapter in his Batman trilogy was going to rock a fair amount of socks - and make no mistake, socks are indeed rocked.

On a personal note I have to say that while I was always going to see this movie, the trailers leading up to its release - for some reason - didn't inspire all that much anticipation in me. Perhaps I was spoiled by those fantastic trailers for Prometheus, however in a way this helped with my viewing experience. I knew I'd enjoy the flick, and I knew it was going to be good, but I didn't walk in with my anticipation set so high, that no movie imaginable could ever conquer such a height. Instead, having sought to avoid spoilers and temper my excitement, I had a better viewing experience as a result.

Bruce Wayne, having hung up his Batman gear after the events of The Dark Knight, has become the stuff of Gotham rumour and gossip - imagined as a deranged Howard Hughes-like hermit, he hides away on his vast estate as the rest of the city enjoys the tranquillity of Gotham's now-safe streets after a law enacted in the name of Harvey Dent has locked thugs and crime lords alike behind bars. Enjoying this new-found freedom more-so than anyone, are the city's rich, whose only real worry is Anne Hathaway's cat burglar (aka Selina Kyle), who seeks a golden ticket out of her life of crime. Long gone are the sly puns and purring of Michelle Pfeifer, and whatever the hell Halle Berry was thinking ... no, here, much like with Heath Ledger's Joker, comes a more realistic adversary based more in reality and less in theatricality. Rest easy, the early fears of discovering that Nolan's trilogy closer was to feature Cat Woman, are to be found nowhere within the confines of this film - Hathaway absolutely knocks the role out of the park.

Click "READ MORE" below for the rest of this spoiler-free review...

Saturday 14 July 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Comic-Con 2012 Extended Trailer Analysis...

It's that time of year again – the San Diego Comic-Con is once again under way – and for we fans of AMC's hugely successful hit show The Walking Dead (which returns in October), it means time again for another mouth-watering preview trailer. Check it out here, or if you're not American, then check it out here.

Find more Walking Dead memes HERE
What's more, these trailers have become synonymous with excellent clip selection and editing – details are kept hidden (their context often tweaked or totally changed), while still giving the fans a big old mouthful to chew on, and the music selection is always pitch-perfect. The trailer for season one featured “The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore” by The Walker Brothers, while season two's drool-inducing teaser brought Wye Oak's wonderful “Civilian” to our attention, and season three is no different in quality – it features “Black” by Kari Kimmel, which perfectly fits the tone of what we got to see. Read on for analysis and screenshots galore!

N.B. Spoilers for season two of The Walking Dead ahead - but not for season three. All comments are based on what you see in the trailer - if you want to remain completely oblivious to all things season three, don't read on ... otherwise, enjoy!

#1: Michonne's an arse kicker:

Introduced very briefly in the season two finale, we'll not only finally have a definitive answer as to how to pronounce her name, but we'll get one of the most beloved badasses of the comic on our telly screens. Here (and in a preview clip seen online earlier this week), she clears out a grocery store with her trusty sword in her own inimitable fashion, which includes a double decapitation.

#2: Michonne and Andrea team up:

It was fairly clear it would go this way when we were introduced to Michonne in the season two finale (where she saved an exhausted Andrea), but season three's extended trailer provided confirmation that these two death-dealing femmes will join forces. Michonne's already the ultimate bad ass, but at this stage we're still witnessing the evolution of Andrea. In season two she finally found her groove with firearms (so long old life as a Civil Rights Lawyer), and the season two finale also left her abandoned in the wake of the confusion of the incredible attack on Herschel's farm by a herd of walkers – a real trial by fire. Judging by this trailer, Andrea's up for a bloody good fight too, and this looks like it'll be an intriguing change-up when compared to the comics.

#3: Time in the wilderness:

Judging by Carl's shaggy hair, Herschel's beard, and Lori's unmistakable baby bulge, it looks like our band of survivors have been surviving on the road for quite some time. It would appear that the show-makers are seeking to condense time and events a little bit here (the prison storyline was spread out over six volumes of the trade paperbacks), which was further hinted at when we were told that we could be seeing the prison storyline spread across season three and season four.

Click "READ MORE" below for a whole shedload more trailer analysis and screenshots!

Double Bill Mini Musings: Breezy, Bothersome Booze...

The Rum Diary:
What's it about?
Bruce Robinson's film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel of the same name, which went unpublished for decades before being dug out, and eventually nurtured into the cinematic world by HST's friend (and star of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas) Johnny Depp. Paul Kemp, a journalist struggling to get a foot on his career ladder heads to the rum-soaked and heat-hazed sights of Puerto Rico, where he gets involved with Sanderson, a shady property developer, and his fun-loving squeeze Chenault.
Who would I recognise in it?
Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi.
While still being relatively new to the world of HST (I've only so far read his most popular work Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Rum Diary), I was really taken with the source novel before seeing this flick ... and therein lies an indicator for how you might think of this film adaptation. If coming to it with virgin eyes, and expecting the drug-fuelled craziness of Terry Gilliam's barmy Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, you'll be disappointed - The Rum Diary is before the drugs took hold, before the wild rumours and stories became legend, and as such it is about the beginning of something - it's about the beginning of Paul Kemp (a version of HST himself, having based The Rum Diary on his own experiences) and where the seed of 'Gonzo journalism' took root - a theme more front & centre in the film's third act, than it is in the book.

Depp, wisely toning down his memorable Fear & Loathing performance to match the relatively calmer early days of HST, gives good as Kemp, who stumbles through the world of Puerto Rico in 1960 - when the great American dream machine was moving in to carve up the land for the whale-like tourists and their bloated wallets. Eckhart is suave, yet dangerous, as Sanderson (a combination of the sly Sanderson and the violent Yeamon, from the novel), while Rispoli admirably double-teams for the humour as photographer Sala (replacing Kemp's confusion with a resigned acceptance). Furthermore, Jenkin's editor Lotterman is every inch the snake-in-the-grass, Heard nails Chenault's seductress who's in over her head, and Ribisi plays a riotous and unpredictable degenerate in the form of Moberg. It's a great cast, all afforded tasty roles, in a film that will perhaps prove most successful with those who have read the source novel.

For those unfamiliar with the book, some pacing issues might present themselves - resulting in a Good/Alright for such viewers - but those, such as myself, who thoroughly enjoyed the book, should be well catered for indeed. I enjoyed the hell out of it, welcoming Robinson's changes as an intriguing alternative vision - great, but others might not agree.

Click "READ MORE" below to switch from rum to fine wine...

Thursday 12 July 2012

Double Bill Mini Musings: Benefitting and Broadcasting...

Friends With Benefits:
What's it about?
From Will Gluck, director of the brilliant Easy A, comes this moderately raunchier tale of two friends in New York, both recently out of long-term relationships and with their own batch of personal hang-ups, who decide to skip the complications of being in a relationship and go straight for the sex part. Naturally, being a romantic comedy, things don't stay that way for long.
Who would I recognise in it?
Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson, and a bunch of other folk.
Simultaneously subverting, and conforming to, the various tropes of the romantic comedy sub-genre, FWB treads a sometimes unsteady line between ironic send-up and schmaltzy familiarity. Fortunately, on the fairly consistent strength of the script, and good chemistry between the two leads (with a chucklesome, but underused, supporting role from Harrelson as a matcho sports writer who happens to be gay), you can forgive the film for following some predictable paths at times and reaching a conclusion you saw coming from a dozen movies of it's kind before it. Decidedly better than the standard romcom fare by a county mile - the added wit provides a welcome spice to a sub-genre that is too often underwritten, and burdening the shoulders of actors who could be doing far better work elsewhere. FWB, with it's sparky yet friendly combination of the familiar with the cheekily sly, ends up being solid - good.

Click "READ MORE" below for Broadcast News...

Wednesday 11 July 2012

"Gaia" film award - news gets about...

I see the local Bulmer Foundation have put up a little article on their website about the film award that Joe and I won from this year's Campfire Film Festival in Australia. The news was also spread around in various local newspapers, and it's nice to bump into people who you've not seen in years, who spotted the article in their local paper of choice, and offer their thumbs up.

Monday 9 July 2012

The Walking Dead memes - where does Carl go?

Find more Walking Dead memes HERE.

A little pre-emptive fun in the run-up to Season 3 of The Walking Dead. There was much talk (and many memes) made of Carl's whereabouts in the second season, which certainly made me chuckle, and even though I don't watch Star Trek, the little connection made me giggle nonetheless - so I made this:

Where will Carl get to in season three, I wonder? That precocious little scamp.

Click "READ MORE" below for an alternate version of the above meme...

Saturday 7 July 2012

The Divide (2011) - movie review...

What's it about?
A brutal post-apocalyptic thriller in which a group of survivors hide in the shelter beneath their building, and begin to succumb to the pressures and psychosis of the situation.
Who would I recognise in it?
Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia, Ashton Holmes, Rosanna Arquette.
From the director of Frontiers (which I haven't seen), and Hitman (which I saw, and thought was thoroughly "meh" at best), didn't instill a huge amount of confidence in me, but after watching the gritty trailer - and, much to my excitement, discovering that Michael Biehn was in this flick - I figured I'd give it a punt on the basis of those two elements in its favour.

Launching with the bombs already being unleashed upon the city of New York, it's clear from the get-go that the film is in an awful hurry to get somewhere - something that doesn't particularly work in the film's favour when, a quarter of an hour in, a bunch of hazmat-suited, gun-toting goons bust in, kidnap the only child in the group, and take her ... an action that is explained with barely a shred of reason, even during a brief excursion outside of the shelter's door minutes later. It makes for a curious screenwriting decision which ultimately proves more of a distraction, than the haunting mystery writers Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean were probably intending it to be.

With that distraction aside however, the film is able to get stuck into the meat - the story of how these everyday people descend into violent madness within the confines of this bomb shelter. This is both the strongest and weakest part of the movie - the scant characterisation and back stories afforded to the cast of characters is at worst nearly non-existent, but at best it provides Michael Biehn as Mickey the building manager, to really sink his teeth into a gently drawn character. Mickey was once a fireman, but the horrors of 9/11 changed him forever into a man who is slowly killing himself after losing not only his men, but his family - these discoveries are made with a pleasing sense of subtlety that gels perfectly with Biehn's powerful performance that is absolutely the most distinct highlight of the entire flick; the man deserves many more meaty roles such as this.

Click "READ MORE" below to find out more...

Friday 6 July 2012

Obscura (2012)...

This experimental short, about someone who may, or may not be, a Crime Scene Photographer, was inspired in-part by Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow-Up, as well as the book Another Way of Telling by John Berger and Jean Mohr.

The main theme of the short is the idea – as proferred by Berger and Mohr – of the clash between the photograph, and the memory of the moment that the photograph resembles, as well as the connection between the camera lens and the human eye.


The film is pieced together from a variety of disparate fragments of footage and photographs that I have gathered over many years on different formats. In addition to newly shot footage and images, there are pieces of footage originally shot for other projects from years passed by, as well as photographs (and light-sensitive photographs) dating back to 1999. Stylistically the film is a sort of 'visual collage', that combines the new with the re appropriated old, which speaks to further themes of the short – namely the idea of fragmented memory, how a picture is not viewed in the mind's eye as a whole, but rather in individual elements that make up that whole picture. For example – an alleyway is broken down into key images: the height and close proximity of the surrounding buildings which created the alleyway, the old exterior light on one wall, and the tangle of steel and barbed wire atop the locked entrance to the alleyway.


The idea for the film initially came about when I dug out from a drawer, an old stills camera that belonged to an uncle – a Zeiss Ikon Contina I from the 1950s. I drew intrigue from the classic styling of the device, as well as the mechanical consistency of the lens, shutter, and winding operations, which ultimately fed not only into the editing of this strange little experimental short, but also the underlying ethereal plot.


View the film embedded below, or directly via my YouTubeChannel HERE.


Wednesday 4 July 2012

Obscura - a new short film...

This is an experimental mood-piece about someone who may, or may not be, a Crime Scene Photographer. It was inspired not only by Antonioni's "Blow-Up", but also "Another Way of Telling" by John Berger and Jean Mohr, in which they wrote about, and illustrated, the idea that there is a friction between the photographed moment, and the memory of the moment itself, which the photograph resembles.

It was pieced together from a disparate range of various photographs and footage that I have gathered over the years (specifically, in this case, between 1999 and the present day). Enjoy.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Trailer Fest: "I Know That Voice"...

John DiMaggio - better known as the voice of Bender from Futurama, and Marcus Fenix from the Gears of War franchise, to the masses - is currently working on a new documentary called "I Know That Voice", which is all about the amazing voice talent behind some of our favourite shows (and, increasingly-so nowadays, videogames) from decades past to the present day. It looks ruddy good if you ask me, and this is a definite must-see in my opinion - I can't wait to see it!

The doc was brought to my attention when listening to the latest episode of Rob 'Pinky from Pinky & The Brain' Paulsen's excellent podcast "Talkin' Toons", which brings members of the voice acting community in to discuss their life and work, and is a merry old time indeed.

You can also listen to more DiMaggio (with Billy 'Fry from Futurama' West) on the latest Nerdist podcast too - check that out here.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Triple Bill Mini Musings: Nightmares, Real & Imagined...

We Need To Talk About Kevin:
What's it about?
Lynne Ramsay's devestating drama based on the book by Lionel Shriver details the tormented life of a woman whose first-born, the eponymous Kevin, simply isn't right, and in the wake of a horrid tragedy she struggles to come-to-terms with what happened.
Who would I recognise in it?
Tilda Swinton, John C. Reiley, Ezra Miller.
Once considered "unfilmable", Ramsay does a stellar job of injecting an unhinged and fractured sense of craftsmanship as she manages to maintain control over a film which jumps forward and back through various points in time. Pertinent information is scattered throughout, at first with dark mysteries attached, and later on doused in chilling realisation. Ezra Miller (and his younger counter-parts) gives a powerful performance as Kevin, a true embodiment of evil, Tilda Swinton is nothing short of captivating as the tortured mother who is plagued by guilt, anger, frustration, and horror at having an extremely strained relationship with Kevin since his birth, and John C. Reiley provides a welcome counter-balance to the tension as the nigh-on-totally oblivious father. Presented with a memorable visual flair, it can be tough/draining viewing, but it is always a rewarding experience. Great.

Click "READ MORE" below for Poltergeist II, and Deranged...