Tuesday 30 April 2019

Flavours of the Month: April 2019...

Hilarious social awareness, the unfolding conclusion to an epic, and a masked movie monster are just some of what's been setting the tone of my April 2019...

Click "READ MORE" below to see this month's looks, sounds, vibes & flavours...


The Highwaymen - starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, this Netflix film details the hunt for infamous criminals Bonnie and Clyde through Depression era America. It's a bit slow at times, occasionally chasing its tail, but the central duo work well together. Painting Bonnie and Clyde as they were while contrasting that reality with their mythology and celebrity is a highlight of the film, with the inevitable demise of the criminals managing to live up to expectations. Gritty, tough, but maybe a smidge too dour, it's imperfect but solid stuff.

Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross and Dave Attell - a three-part Netflix comedy special.

Dave Chappelle - the comedian's four Netflix specials illustrate beyond a doubt a true mastering of a craft. The way how he can combine horrifying aspects of true life with genuinely good jokes and make that balancing act work is really something to behold, and all the while he's delivering a positive, loving message, but without preaching, without shoving opinions down anyone's throat, and all wrapped up with a nice dash of self-deprecation and honesty. He tackles searing hot button topics with deft humour and intelligence, creating cogent arguments and observations, and is arguably the most talented and important voice on the stand-up stage today.

Game of Thrones: Season 8 - the epic conclusion to HBO's global phenomenon begins. We're only half-way through, but after a couple of place-setting episodes filled with moreish character reunions, the third episode proved to be an impressively gruelling and deadly battle ... and there's still three more episodes to go! If that is just episode three, what on earth will the fight for the Iron Throne be like?!

American Vandal: Season 1 & 2 - a true crime spoof series from Netflix in which two high school students document the case against a supposed vandal who allegedly spray painted 27 dicks on 27 faculty cars, and the web of intrigue that spirals out from it. Arguably eight episodes is a bit overlong whereas a tight dose of six half-hours could have helped maintain a better sense of pace, but the straight-arrow sense of humour (and on-point presentation) makes for a subtly comic and surprisingly fascinating mystery. The 3rd and 4th episodes feel like they're losing steam a bit, but as the series moves into its back-half, a succession of twists and revelations keep the viewer watching as detailed characterisation and high school drama unfolds amidst an ever-changing conspiracy.

The second season finds the docu-duo delving into the icky case of 'The Turd Burglar' at a posh private school, but this time around eight episodes is definitely too many as the first half feels frustratingly slow at times. It's only in the last three or four episodes when the pace finally speeds up and a slew of twists lead towards a satisfying conclusion both in terms of the plot and the characters whose deepest dimensions are finally unveiled.

Friday the 13th: Parts 3, 6, 7, 8 - playing Friday the 13th: The Game got me all hot and bothered to re-watch a few of the movies and refresh my memory for some of the stunning attention to detail exhibited in the game.

Happy!: Season 1 - a SyFy Original, but currently showing on Netflix, co-created by one-half of the bonkers duo behind the "Crank" movies. There's maybe not quite enough material for eight episodes, where six might have kept some padding at bay (I'm sensing a theme here), but when it's in full swing with Christopher Meloni's booze-addled hitman ex-cop beating up goons and arguing with Patton Oswalt's titular cartoon Unicorn, it's bloody good fun.


Foo Fighters "Concrete and Gold", "Sonic Highways"

The Who "Baba O'Riley (ConfidentialMX Remix)"
- as featured in the season 3 trailer for Stranger Things.

The 69 Eyes "Wasting The Dawn", "Devils", "Angels", "Back in Blood", "X", "Universal Monsters"


Friday The 13th: The Game (Xbox One) - spotted on the "Un-Halloween Sale" at 75% off, the inclusion of an 'offline bots' mode gave me what I wanted (i.e. play as Jason, stalk about the film locations, pull off sweet kills). I don't have Xbox Live and have no desire at all to play online, so bots plus Single Player Challenges plus the Virtual Cabin give me enough bang for my buck. That said, some design elements are lacking. The Virtual Cabin's mysteries are generally quite obtuse, while the Challenges mode is sometimes frustrating as omniscience (or a detailed walkthrough video off YouTube) is frequently a requirement for progression to the next stage.

It's a budget title that was crowd-funded, so the limitations are evident, but the passion is on full display with the attention to detail in recreating some of the locations from the films (Camp Crystal Lake, Higgins Haven etc) and various incarnations of Jason. Having Kane Hodder, Tom Savini, and Harry Manfredini on board further makes this an ode to the hardcore fans of the franchise. It's just a shame that a rocky release and a franchise lawsuit have battered the game around much like one of Jason's victims with the game, sadly, dying a slow death online. If only there was more single player content. Still, though, as a huge fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, the flaws and repetition can be overlooked to find plenty of entertainment.

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