Tuesday 30 July 2019

Flavours of the Month: July 2019...

Caffeinated chuckleheads, spooky doings in the 1980s, and wheel-to-wheel action is just some of what has been setting the tone of my July 2019...

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


Wet Hot American Summer: "First Day of Camp" & "Ten Years Later" - in this day and age it's rare to re-watch something, seeing as there's so much great new stuff always coming out on the regular, but in a blast of summer heat I went back to the original Wet Hot American Summer movie from 2001 for a re-watch, and then tumbled down into the Camp Firewood rabbit hole for another go around for the two spin-off series.

Stranger Things: Season 3 - wisely keeping the action focused on Hawkins (what we most care about), The Duffer Brothers manage to balance an elaborate conspiracy, coming-of-age growing pains drama, and dives into 1980s culture. The Starcourt Mall setting provides a lot of new material to work with, and as a big fan of zombie movies the two references to Day of the Dead (in episodes one and six) plastered a big old grin on my face. There's some cracking little character sub-plots strewn throughout the season dealing with relationships and feeling disjointed from your best friends and, no spoilers, those closing minutes of the season are not only beautifully written but wonderfully performed. Bring on season four, which can't come soon enough. When you get so wrapped-up in a Netflix show it can be a bit jarring when you run out of episodes ... now what do you do with your life?!

Formula 1 - just when the season was looking a bit dull, along comes a stonking double whammy of Austria and Britain, which saw mixed grids, surprise results, and superb displays of nail-biting wheel-to-wheel racing. The tough battle between Hamilton and Bottas at Silverstone showed the best of F1's present, while the extraordinary on-track fights between LeClerc and Verstappen presented F1's future as a healthy one with lots of excitement in store for we spectators. Then, as if that wasn't enough, along came Germany with an insane wet race (the first of the season), which saw the teams having to rely on their wits alone as constantly changing conditions and some very slippy corners saw numerous cars spinning off in spectacular fashion. With almost all teams pitting their cars four or five teams each, it wasn't so much about wheel-to-wheel racing as it was about luck and survival in what has been the most unpredictable race so far this year.

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee: Season 6 - another twelve doses of Jerry Seinfeld's hangout show on Netflix, with guests such as Seth Rogen, Eddie Murphy, Ricky Gervais and more. I've been re-watching a bunch of episodes lately, too, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show is its broad mix of niche appeals. It tunes into comedy fans, car fans, and people who just enjoy watching two friends hanging out and shooting the shit. Seinfeld's pick of cars for each episode, somehow matched to the guest, always makes for an intriguing reveal at the beginning of each episode while the topics of conversation can range from goofing off to profound revelations and the intricate innerworkings of comedy.

Comic-Con 2019 - still just observing it from the comfort of the Interwebs, July is always a nice time to dig into trailers for upcoming movies and TV shows and some panel discussions. Chief among them, for me at least, is always The Walking Dead with the Season 10 trailer promising a strong continuation under the rejuvenating stewardship of Angela Kang. Now though, with the surprise ending of the comics (which I'm yet to catch up on in the trade paperbacks), I do hope that there is a plan in-place to wrap everything up sooner rather than later. With the Rick Grimes movie(s) on the horizon, and hints of an overarching storyline that ties into the movies, the main show, as well as Fear The Walking Dead, the best idea would be to tidy things up - nothing can last forever, and nor should it - and with the announcement that Michonne will be written out of TWD this season, that need to put TWD to bed has come into starker contrast. While I have loved seeing Angela Kang reinvigorate the show after the wobbles of Seasons 7 and 8, I want to see TWD conclude with strength, clarity, and purpose rather than collapse with a whimper.

Some other trailers of particular note were for "3 From Hell" (Rob Zombie's sequel to "The Devil's Rejects"), "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot" (that cameo cast is chock full'o famous faces!), as well as "Top Gun: Maverick".

The Initiation (Blu-Ray) - introducing Daphne Zuniga (The Fly II) to the world, this slasher flick also featured supporting roles from Vera Miles (Psycho) and Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead). A college girl, pledging to a sorority, is tasked with carrying out one final pledge stunt while also dealing with a recurring nightmare that is somehow linked to a childhood trauma that has left her memory blank prior to the age of 9. There's some nifty gore effects, and an unusual location (a mall for wholesalers, essentially), although there's plenty of rough edges. Some of the dialogue is clunky, and sometimes placed quite clunkily into proceedings, while the characterisation and plotting are similarly patchy with the various strands of the film's wider story only feeling loosely connected. That said, for fans of 1980s slasher movies, there's stilly plenty to enjoy.

Frankenstein's Monster's Monster, Frankenstein - a half-hour stand alone short (what a great title!) for Netflix starring David Harbour as a version of himself and his supposed father, seen as a pompous "ACTOR!" of the boldest projection and self-aggrandisement. The sense of humour is quite dry and certainly quirky, so it's not for all tastes, but the recreation of the style of televised plays from forty-odd years ago works a treat, as does Harbour's willingness to make himself look silly (while playing the part dead straight).

There's some lovely little moments throughout, such as the door that won't close properly, or the 'raw material' for a restaurant advertisement that 'David Harbour Jr' (now a bloated, drunken, foolish man whose career has crumbled) has endorsed. For a curious off-the-wall idea such as this, a single short film is ideal, and it's great to see Netflix willing to experiment with the short format more and more now (in various guises: also see the sketch comedy series "I Think You Should Leave"). An idea such as "Frankenstein's Monster's Monster, Frankenstein" would likely overstay its welcome as a feature film or series, but this contained form is ideally suited to this type of experimentation.


Nirvana "Unplugged In New York"

Charlottte Gainsburg "Deadly Valentine"

Jefferson Starship "Jane"

M83 "Midnight City (Eric Prydz Private Remix)"

Greta Van Fleet "Safari Song"


Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One) - thankfully the makers have zhushed up the weekly content for the main game (Fortune Island, though, still gets the same old dull championships week after week). With such a range of vehicles in the game, it made no sense to keep going over the same damn ground again and again (sports utility heroes, retro rally, and a handful of others), so now that we're able to dig into a variety of different vehicles in numerous categories the game has been broadened a little further with more reason to return to it every week. Getting some new content helps, too, such as the Top Gear 'story' missions added recently.

Brighton Rocks International Film Festival 2019 - having made it through the selection rounds, "For Want of a Nail" won the award for Best Drama, and so Producer Ali, Director Lucy, and I went along to Brighton for a screening of winning films and the awards show, at which we also won a surprise award for Best Editing. Read more about the event HERE.

Writing! - I can't really say anything specific at this point, but I've been bashing away at the keyboard lately and I'm chuffed with what is turning up on the page.

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