Saturday 31 August 2013

Flavours of the Month: August 2013...


The Kevin Pollak Chat Show - it's a little rough around the edges, and Sam Levine's semi-off-camera interjections don't float my boat, but there's some good and lengthy interviews to see on YouTube. Some I've dug into this month have been Ed O'Neil, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, and a massively entertaining sit-down with the reliably verbose John Landis who has a veritable shedload of fascinating and entertaining stories from his decades in the movie industry to share. The shows are good because it's just two people having a relaxed and varied chat - although Pollak could ask his questions faster and more succinctly.

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Hannibal - I saw it when it came out (possibly on rental VHS, I'm not sure) and I wasn't so keen on it. Fast forward more than a decade and I appreciate the grandiose sense of design, composition, and craftsmanship that Ridley Scott brought to the film. It's still no patch on Silence of the Lambs (but what ever could be?), and even though Jodie Foster can't be beaten, I quite enjoyed seeing this again.

Breaking Bad Season 5.2 - the final eight episodes of Vince Gilligan's incredibly well-crafted television drama. If you want an example of utterly compelling TV drama then look no further than this. The show can thrill, chill, and shock in equal measure and make it look easy - and it even does so with a sense of humour that never feels out-of-place. Amazing acting, writing, direction - the whole lot - absolutely perfect drama. I'd consider myself to be very lucky indeed if I was to one day manage to find myself in a position similar to Gilligan - as someone trying to get into screenwriting, he and his Breaking Bad team are a big inspiration.

Hell On Wheels Season 3 - the first season was all about finding its feet, and overcoming the "it ain't Deadwood" issue. The second season upped the stakes a little bit, but there was still some rough edges and a lack of truly arresting character drama, and yet there was always enough going on to keep me watching (Anson Mount's portrayal of Cullen Bohanon in particular). While the first two seasons were never quite 'must see telly' in the first two seasons, the quality was always gradually increasing as the show continued to find its feet. Now, a few episodes into season three, it's clear that the show makers have really put in the work to elevate the show - four episodes in and it's impressive television drama. The budget has clearly increased and is writ-large across the screen, and like all the best shows coming out of AMC, it isn't bogged down by exposition or dim-witted writing. Just taking the time to 'set the scene' with some beautiful compositions really helps pull you into the world - something that Network TV drama doesn't seem to have much time for.

Lost Season 1 - I wasn't intending to dive into my box sets of Lost for a second viewing just yet, but I kind of stumbled into rewatching the first season. They definitely didn't need 25 episodes (nor 24, nor 23, in the following two seasons) to tell the story, but rewatching this first season really flags up how Network TV drama can still produce something great that isn't drowned in paint-by-numbers explanations of every single plot movement - so why do we end up with undercooked stuff like The Following of Under The Dome? Over the coming months I'll chip my way through the other five seasons.

A Touch of Cloth II - Sky One's comedy from Charlie Brooker is a spoof on Detective shows, and it's crammed-full of hilarious jokes. Like Airplane, and other great spoofs, there's always something on-screen to get a laugh out of, so it demands your close attention. John Hannah and Suranne Jones have both been in traditional TV detective/cop shows, but here they get to send it all up for a bloody good laugh.

Under The Dome - it started out alright, if a bit traditional, but it's rapidly gone down hill. The writing is sluggish when it comes to moving the plot forward, and absolutely moronic when it comes to dialogue - gear-crunching exposition, dreadful lines that no human would ever say in any situation, constantly explaining the threadbare plot to the viewer as if they're an idiot ... the whole nine yards. I'm not familiar with the original text, but friends who are fans of King's work say that the show doesn't measure up in the slightest to the book. There's a few good bits here and there, but the entire endeavour feels 'too Network' and way too safe. It's predictable and not in the least bit daring - on one end of the scale you have Breaking Bad (daring, unpredictable, shocking, humorous, well-balanced, not over-written, and never treats its audience like an idiot), and on the other end you've got Under The Dome. They've dropped the ball with this show, most definitely. Bizarre casting choices, some very dodgy acting in some instances, and way too much music ... they even do that asinine thing of putting that forced 'high pitching string build up' sound whenever a '(not-so) shocking discovery' is made or an advert breaking is coming up. If they don't pull the nose up on this fast, I won't be around for season two.

GTA V - oh, the anticipation! We're less than three weeks away from the videogame event of 2013 - five years in-the-making, and there's a palpable sense of an impending fangasm tidal wave across the Internet ... naturally, September is going to have a decidedly Los Santos vibe to it.


Alice Cooper "Trash", "Hey Stoopid", "The Last Temptation", "The Definitive Alice Cooper"

Johnny Stark Remix

Skyhooks "Horror Movie"

Maniac (1980) Soundtrack


"Sleb" re-drafting - I've not done as much as I would have liked to this month, but I've made a start on putting the finishing touches to my most recent script (with which I'm rather chuffed). I've just been a bit distracted by the latest educational DVD project I've been working on, which is currently in high gear towards the finish line. I will get it polished up soon though, as there's a couple of competitions coming up that I want to submit to with this particular script.

Tesco "Crazy Caramel" mini bars - not exactly "crazy", but certainly tasty: like a mini Mars Bar, but softer like a Milky Way.

Cadbury's Fudge cake bars - a Fudge bar meets a cake bar.

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