Category Archives: Blogomatic 3000

Trailer Porn

I wrote some more things about Stoker for Blogomatic 3000. They might be interesting to you, if you’re interested in interesting things. Don’t know what I’m talking about? This movie, that’s what:

For contrast’s sake, here’s a trailer for the director’s last movie:

Thirst is quite, quite brilliant, and I’m interested to see how much overlap there is between the two movies when I rewatch it tonight. Really smart, inventive vampire movies are few and far between these days, alas.

Dumb realisation that just hit me: Park Chan-Wook made a vampire movie and followed it with one called Stoker. I’m sure it’s coincidence, but that might just make it more interesting. Psychic connections and all that.

Oh, and one thing I left out of my Stoker review: Nicole Kidman was great playing an uptight high society wife simmering with repressed sexuality, but through conversations with Tariq we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s largely due to the fact that she’s been playing that character for a while now (see: Eyes Wide Shut, The Others, etc.).

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The bad reviews are more fun than the good ones

So I reviewed this movie over on Blogomatic today:

Believe me, the poster is probably the  best thing about it. I’ve been told my review is at least passably entertaining, so it’s definitely better than the movie. Who knows, you might even get a laugh or two out of it!

I also had a lively conversation (well, on Twitter) last night with a friend who disagreed with some things I said in my last post, which is fine by me. I’d rather my writing on here engages with people (even in a negative way – it’s all part of the conversation) than just sitting there, being read and immediately forgotten.

If that’s the case then it’s just masturbation. And I do far too much of that already.

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Sometimes, All You Need Are Horses And Explosions

My good friend Jake posted this on his Facebook today:

That is all.

Oh, and I reviewed a video game collection that most people will have already played today.

That’s really all.

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Talking Whoops!

Today I interviewed Miles Watts, York filmmaker extraordinaire, on Blogomatic about the feature he’s making that wraps production tonight.

Here are some things we said (I’ll include a writing-related one so that it appears vaguely relevant to the purpose of this blog):

Was it difficult writing a screenplay you didn’t originate the story for, or did you enjoy playing within the confines of someone else’s world?

It was really fun writing the screenplay from Sam’s short story and then honing it over the course of about a year. Sam’s ideas are really great and he left Tony and I to develop and flesh out the story and characters, and then he stepped in with ideas for some of the film’s best moments and one-liners.

We all left our egos at the door and at every step have done what’s best for the film in terms of jokes and funny moments. And then the improvements the cast have made with a changed line here, a character moment there, have served as a further draft of the script. We’re all very happy with the collaborative nature of it.

You can find the rest of the interview, should you choose to read it, here.

It’s very strange interviewing someone; stranger still doing it by email. You send them a whole list of questions and they reply, undoubtedly in their own voice but also with the answers thoroughly thought-out and omitting the usual slurs, pauses and leaps of thought that occur during live interviews. But you learn so much from a person without ever coming face to face with them to ask. A heck of a lot better, in many ways, I think we’ll all agree.

And so much easier to transcribe.

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What I’m Reading

Here’s a couple of book reviews (the Department 19 series) I wrote for Blogomatic.

I’ve been listening to Stephen King’s On Writing (read by the man himself, who’s unsurprisingly quite the orator) over the last week or so, and one of the things – among many – that struck a chord with me was his notion that the best thing you can do as someone who needs to concentrate on their writing is to blow up your TV set.

I’m sure this is an opinion held by a great plenty, and it’s not like I haven’t heard it before, but being reminded of that maxim alerted me to the fact that I’m being pretty slothful right now, wasting away in front of the myriad movies that are available to me at the touch of a button thanks to my parents’ Sky+ box (an invention I’m certain will be the ultimate doom of mankind; see Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror for more).

I’ve justified this to myself that, because I’m not only a writer but also a filmmaker, this is all good research – how can I make movies if I don’t first understand them? This is pretty flimsy upon further inspection; you learn a hell of a lot more from doing than from watching, and to be frank I don’t think I’m going to learn all that much from Death Wish.

With that in mind, I figured I’d let you all know what I’m reading at the moment in the hopes that it’ll spur me to a) pick the books up and actually keep reading them, away from the hedonistic altar of the idiot box and b) inspire me to do some storytelling of my own.

The current novel I’m reading is Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, the man responsible for No Country For Old Men and The Road, and one of my favourite authors. Pretty slim but not lacking in atmosphere or character, the book finds ex-con Lester Ballard lurking in the hills of Tennessee, perpetrating weird crimes, finding strange pleasures and keeping himself to his himself. I’m over halfway through now and although Ballard has committed some morally questionable acts thus far, McCarthy allows you to sympathise with (or at least pity) him in a way that no author can, by stating his case plainly and nonjudgementally in simple but beautiful prose.

I always have a few comics on the go, due to their serial nature (one of their best qualities, I’d argue), but the collected edition that’s currently got my attention is The Other Side, writer and current Marvel ‘architect’ Jason Aaron’s first major work with artist Cameron Stewart that got the attention of The Big Two and propelled Aaron to his current standing.

The book’s concept is simple but extraordinarily effective: the Vietnam War, told from the perspectives of a young U.S. Marine and a North Vietnamese recruit, both dragged in to fight a war neither fully understands. Incidentally, Aaron’s cousin wrote the book that would become Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and the influence can clearly be seen in the American’s drill training and the horrors perpetrated in the name of ‘justice’, but it’s not merely a retelling of that story. It runs deeper into both the soldiers’ different experiences, showing the destabilisation of the marine’s psyche (he sees dead soldiers and his rifle regularly tells him to kill himself) and the NVA’s loss of faith.

I’m not quite half way through this one yet but it’s already startling affecting, and should be put in the hands of anyone who thinks that war is either faceless or one-sided. In fact, I don’t think it’d be much of a stretch to suggest that it be made recommended reading in schools; a full-page spread of a man getting his legs blown off by a shell could well be a better deterrent than 50 pages of prose.

Hope that was informative or even slightly interesting to y’all. Back to the usual drivel tomorrow.

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My Semi-Centenary

It’s my 50th post today! Huzzah! Good lord, have I only been doing this for less than two months? It’s felt like at least two years with a crowd this tough.

Anyway, I wish I could tell you something interesting about what I did today or wax lyrical about the existential angst discovered while queuing for the post office, but most of my day has been taken up speed-reading those books I’ve gotta review, so unless you want spoilers for a book you may well never read I’m afraid you’re going to be a bit hard up.

Instead, here’s my review of The Philly Kid, a movie about fighting and that.

Hopefully the review should be done and dusted by tomorrow and I can get back to writing all those other things I was meant to be done with weeks ago. Hell, I might even start putting up extracts just to mix things up a bit.

‘Til then, yeah?

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More Like JOHN CU-HACK, AMIRITE?

I did a review of John Cusack’s oh-so-pointless Edgar Allan Poe flick The Raven today. You can read it here if you like.

Got sent a bunch of things to review for Blogomatic the other day, so in lieu of having done interesting things I can talk about on here I’ve just been watching new and not-so-new movies that I’ll rant about later on.

An interesting surprise that came with the free DVDs and game (the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy, score!) was that the two YA novels I’m getting paid(!) to review come to about 1200 pages when put together.

And that’s to say nothing of the additional book I’m being sent. Did I mention I’m a slow reader?

It’s gonna be a long weekend. Sod it, it’s almost halfway over already.

I’m off to the pub to watch a friend drum himself into a frenzy and then convince him to quit one of the four jobs he’s currently working – with no real financial need – and despises.

GETTING PAID MUST BE SUCH A BLOODY CHORE. I HAVE TO, LIKE, TOTALLY READ A COUPLE OF BOOKS SO I CAN GET MONEY. WHY DOES NO-ONE UNDERSTAND MY LIFE IS JUST THE WORST?

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Lovingly Crafted

My Blogomatic review of a H.P. Lovecraft adaptation in the form of an audio play. It’s pretty great:

There’s really not a great deal I can say about The Statement of Randolph Carter that wouldn’t be better stated by simply listening to the 25-minute adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story. I can give you the set-up: Randolph Carter gives a statement to the police regarding the disappearance of his mentor, Harley Warren, after an evening of occult excavation at Big Cypress Swamp.

To say more, I fear, would be to ruin the creeping terror that the production invokes in the listener.  The essentially two-handed production (with the exception of two minor police interrogators) really excels at the kind of building, suspenseful horror that Lovecraft is known for, with omens and threats simply hinted at so that we know as little as the characters until it is far too late.

The sincere and impassioned voice acting is helped along no end by a stellar soundtrack that squeezes every last drop of tension out of scenes and can really make you regret eating all that cheese before you went to bed. Plus, at 25 minutes, it really doesn’t take a great deal of effort to put it on and introduce yourself to an old story told exceptionally well.

I listened to it as a podcast on my way home at night. It was a really bad idea.

If you’re going to listen to this excellent example of a classic horror story told through the power of a purely auditory medium, then do yourself a favour and listen to this on your own and in the dark. That is, if you want to scare yourself silly.

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Statement of Randolph Carter is out now and can be found on 4dio’s website.

Seriously, go and check it out if you’re into horror, or even if you’re not. It scared me more than any film I’ve seen in the last two years at least.

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Suck My Tailpipe

My License to Drive review for Blogomatic. I enjoyed it hugely, though it had some serious male gaze issues (essentially the main character wants to bone a sports car, because who doesn’t?) and I may have been a little too mean about the Coreys Two at the end there:

Apparently an ’80s classic that had somehow slipped under my radar, 1988’s License to Drive ticks all the necessary boxes for a teen comedy winner: Ludicrous hair? Check. Overly lusty teenage boys? Check. Zany parents with more comedy chops than the leads?  Stuck-up sibling? Actor with a minor role who’ll one day be more famous than said leads put together? Check, check and checkers. A Corey? Shit, this film has two!

Like most successful teen films of the decade, License to Drive takes a simple, everyday situation for a 16 year-old kid and balloons its importance to such a ridiculous degree that it warrants an action scene, a car chase or at least a dance sequence. It was skipping school in Ferris Bueller and detention in The Breakfast Club, and in this flick it’s a driving license.

Les (Corey Haim) needs to pass his test so that he can woo local bombshell Mercedes (Heather Graham, and no, the subtlety of the writing there wasn’t lost on me either). He’s an ace at the wheel but a lughead in the theory department, so despite impressing his driving examiner (a superbly sadistic James Avery, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air‘s Uncle Phil), he fails to get that fabled laminate card and is forced to wait two years until he can try again.

Not one to be stopped by such feeble things as federal laws, and, egged on by his best friend (Corey Feldman) and his impending date with Mercedes, Les ‘borrows’ his grandfather’s cadillac and sets forth on a night of hijinks, semi-romance and near-death experiences.

The film revels in its cartoonish sense of humour, from crash zooms on the boys’ terrified faces as they head through fences, over ramps and away from punks to Les’s pregnant mother’s (the ditzy and eccentric Carol Kane) strange craving for huge dollops of mashed potato and ketchup at the dinner table, and some of the set pieces that occur – from the opening dream sequence of a red convertible being run down by a demonic school bus to the third-act chase after a gloriously oblivious drunk driver.

Characters aren’t especially full of depth and there’s no profound message to be gleaned from Les driving backwards at speed through traffic to get his mother to the hospital in time to get birth, but you have such a good time that it really doesn’t matter.

It’s a typically 80s slice of escapism and does its job excellently (even making Haim, who I personally consider to be the lesser Corey, tolerable as a lead), but things do get a little uncomfortable when Mercedes gets plastered and is alternately photographed while unconscious, shoved in a boot and then unnaturally forgiving of the whole thing by the next day. Like the cadillac, she’s taken for quite a ride and you’d think she’d be in as bad a state as the car, but no-one seems to really mind that much.

That said, I guess Heather Graham gets the last laugh in the end. I’d happily spend the night in the trunk of a car if it meant not having to do Lost Boys 3.

Too far? Not far enough? Has anyone even seen either of the Lost Boys sequels? Does anybody but me care?

Answers on a postcard. Or in the comment section, whatever, I’m easy.

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Don’t Leave Me Hangin’

My Blogomatic review of Electrick Children. Mostly it just reminded me of how good the second season of LOST was:

The trailer for Electrick Children is a little misleading. Upon first seeing it before a showing of Dark Knight Riseslast week, it appeared from the lingering shots of eccentrically-dressed youths skateboarding and the soft electronic soundtrack to concern itself with that most loathsome of subcultures, HIPSTERS. Upon making this assumption, the friend sat next to me practically hissed in his contempt for the film, despite knowing nothing else about it.

This anecdote, I think, reflects well the possible acquired taste Electrick Children might end up being, despite not actually being (entirely) about hipsters.

The film centers on Rachel (Garner), a 15 year-old girl living in a strict Utah Mormon colony, who falls pregnant after listening to  a cassette recording of ‘Hanging On The Telephone’ and tussling with her brother, Mr. Will (Aiken), who tries to take the forbidden tape player off of her. Upon discovering her pregnancy, her mother and father immediately suspect Mr. Will, sending him off into exile and arranging a shotgun wedding for Rachel. She reacts like any sensible pregnant Mormon girl and steals a pickup truck to escape that night in search of the voice on the tape, assuming that it was he (it’s not the Blondie version, obv) who filled her full of baby. Mr. Will follows her, and soon they fall in with a group of young musicians and their entourage, including a troubled (but clearly capable of redemption) fella named Clyde (Culkin). The pair are soon introduced into a totally different lifestyle, experiencing drugs, extreme sports and kissing for the first time.

It’s at this point that the film takes a turn for the banal. Its languorous pace is fitting when we’re in the open yet confined plains of Utah, in which a slow, corseted tension envelopes the religious folk, but out in the big wide world it quickly tires. We’ve seen this kind of fish out of water movie before (and frankly, it was more interesting to see Randy Quaid’s Amish bowler enter the real world in Kingpin) and Electrick Children doesn’t add much to the mix except a predictable love story ending and a mystical pregnancy that’s never resolved…

…Which is really the only question I wanted answered from this movie! How on earth did she get pregnant? Rachel seems not to care all that much after giving up on her quest to find a musician to wed, so God probably wasn’t working through Debbie Harry’s back catalogue after all, and if her brother assaulted her like her mother assumes there doesn’t seem to be any animosity between the two.

Honestly, it’s ridiculous: The first half of the film is filled with people saying “Holy shit, you’re pregnant!” and by the closing scenes it’s all but forgotten. Which is a shame, because films like Doubt have shown that there’s a heap of tension and moral anxiety to be wrung out of a ‘did-they-didn’t-they’ situation. Forgive me if I sound glib; of course, it’s a serious notion, but first-time writer-director Rebecca Thomas seems to be more concerned with getting Rachel into scrapes than figuring out a way to justifiably get her out of them.

Julia Garner as Rachel is actually a joy to watch, pulling off the innocent prairie queen routine with bravery and not a hint of self-consciousness. Thomas has her and Will remain in their colony outfits throughout, so they seem terribly alien in the landscape of lights and smog. It’s also nice to see Cynthia Watros as Rachel’s mum getting more mainstream(ish) acting work – as one of the few LOST fans (along with Mr. Jack Kirby) who still remembers the show fondly, it was a blow to see her Libby killed off so soon after joining the cast.

[If you think that was a spoiler for LOST, you’re about six years too late to complain. Get over it.]

Not quite mumblecore and not a particular indictment of any of society’s structures (other than the Mormon church, but can you really count such an easy target?), it’s uncertain what message Electrick Children is trying to get across, but undoubtedly the slow visual style and (admittedly rather lovely) score will attract some kind of audience. It just might not be one that cares too much about story.

Also annoying: they never had the original Blondie version of the song in the movie. I totally wanted the girl to be searching for a Videodrome-era Debbie Harry so they could get married and dive inside James Woods (it’s a Cronenberg thing, okay?).

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