Press F To Pay Respects – Horror and Technology – https://t.co/9Ca50F7B8A
My first article for Haunt Jaunts.
Press F To Pay Respects – Horror and Technology – https://t.co/9Ca50F7B8A
My first article for Haunt Jaunts.
Here’s some thoughts about what I’ve been watching:
Goliath, Amazon Prime.
Two seasons with Billy Bob Thornton in a show created by David E Kelley. The latter created Ally MacBeal and Boston Legal, which were crisp, entertaining and arch legal dramas. Here the combination of the two talents has led to sixteen episodes of a man’s slow crawl from exile and the forces of antagonism he faces both within and without. The dialogue is great, and it’s all performed with genuine verve and insight. Yet for all the quality which lends itself to reserve, there’s a gleeful invention and boldness of execution which reveals some disturbing and intense scenes throughout the show. By the end of season two, you’ll never hear the H R Puffnstuff theme tune in the same way.
Thornton is one of my favourite actors. He carries a mercurial ability to inhabit space and demonstrate a consistent, wounded masculinity alongside the practiced and insightful intelligence which doesn’t shield him from his own demons.
I hope there’s a third season.
Enjoyable but not as good as the first one. I wonder if there’s a market in making trailers for films which don’t exist. I felt I saw all the big moments in the trailer and wasn’t given anything for my tickets investment. The Domino sequences were remarkable, Final Destination style chains of coincidence which are a visual delight.
A cell of jihadists bumble through training, planning and execution of an attack in the UK. It’s hilarious, warm and insightful even as it swandives into a third act of unbearable tension between comedic moments of shock and disbelief.
It’s a harsh, raw horror movie and the internal, emotional story resonates with primal, chilling refrains as it descends into chaos and madness.
Its A Wonderful Life
Yes it’s a Christmas film but the central conceit resonates with me, and it came up as a recommendation. What a man contributes, and how it seems menial and disposable but actually the smallest gestures touch lives and matter. Some films are timeless and I think this is one of them.
Tom Wolfe said non fiction is more difficult to write than fiction because fiction has to make sense. Here is a dizzying cheese dream of a crime and it’s all true. Fantastic and full of reversals yet suffused with a humane strangeness.
BOOK OF 2016:
I read a lot, and of the books I’ve read that have been released this year, there are two that I felt warranted particular mention.
THE FIREMAN by JOE HILL.
I have this on audiobook and on the Kindle. Joe Hill has been a writer whose work I will always gravitate towards. He has a powerful voice, manages to combine science fiction, horror and fantasy concepts aligned to strong characterisation, a lovely tone, a wry sense of humour and an earnestness that endears me to anything he puts his name to. The Fireman was not my favourite Joe Hill, that honour probably goes to NOS4R2 but of the books in 2016, this is one that I return to, and find something different each time. In it’s lead Harper, he shows that a protagonist can have doubts and flaws, and can pursue their desire without losing their humanity or morality. The central conceit of the spore that causes spontaneous human combustion is wonderfully realised and the book moves towards a clear-eyed assessment of how people behave in a crisis, and within a group. Some of them become monstrous, whilst others show courage and hope in a situation that strains the capability to raise it. I found myself relating to John Rookwood, the fireman of the title and its a book I have returned to, throughout the year, and found new insights within it.
THE GIRLS by EMMA CLINE.
This is a deceptive book, it captures the ugliness of cult-related behaviour, the rebellion of teenage girls and the cumulative damage of history on the psyche. Ostensibly a retelling of the Charles Manson story from a peripheral perspective, it is a book that took my breath away. It seethes with a clear-eyed, raw honesty and the subtlety of Cline’s prose is that she takes you by the hand into some dark places and you go willingly, before realising that it’s a deeply uncomfortable book awash with ambiguities, and all the more powerful for how spare the prose gets, only to explode into washes of exquisite prose.
GIRLS ON FIRE by ROBIN WASSERMAN.
This serves in theme as a companion piece to THE GIRLS, although more explicit and raw than the other book. It goes deep into the tormented psyches and social rivalries of a pair of teenage girls, skipping between multiple narratives without losing track of the central themes and story. It is a charged, erotic book without feeling exploitative. It has a feral heart and was all the more beautiful for not skimping on the insights. A gut punch delivered with a kiss and certainly one that stayed with me long after I finished it.
I fell in love with the juxtaposition of the Wild West and its inherent savagery against the slightly decaying high tech amusement and corporate intrigue. The performances heightened the quality of the material, notably Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood who essayed characters of complexity and confusion. It never quite fulfilled its promise but with subsequent seasons, I hope that it develops the narrative into something complex and robust. Certainly it is beautifully shot, edited and handles nudity, sex and violence with a mature eye and a calm hand.
I’ve read several books about Pablo Escobar, and this show manages to juggle the sheer comic book scale villainy of his rise and fall with capturing the humanity of the man, much like Breaking Bad managed with a fictional protagonist. It does this through the sweaters that Pablo wears, which is a lovely visual touch. Season 1 was a touch meandering and ponderous but the second season is all pay off, and intense as anything else I have seen this year.
GAME OF THRONES
Oh do I have to? OK, it’s moved on past the books and it manages to work with the constraints of television to great effect. I won’t join in on the call for GRRM to finish the books, they’re massive pieces of work and also he’s not anyone’s bitch, as Neil Gaiman said to great acclaim. Still brilliant, and event television for me. Winter Is Coming, and it’s having a fine time getting there.
It’s had a hard fight getting to the screen but it revelled in it’s underdog status to become the highest grossing superhero movie of all time. Well, at least until M B BLISSETT: CYNICAL ROMANTIC ENGLISHMAN makes its debut, but until then, I loved this film. Breaking the fourth wall, consistently funny and made the use of its limitations to great effect. Ryan Reynolds has been absolved of Green Lantern related sins forever.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
It’s quintessential Tarantino. Take that as you will.
A simple, claustrophobic thriller that makes the best use of darkness and a limited setting. It ratchets up the tension to almost unbearable levels and essays itself in a bravura performance by Stephen Lang.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
I won’t spoil it for you but it was a fantastic thriller that again makes the use of a closed setting and hammers you with it.
CHILDISH GAMBINO – AWAKEN, MY LOVE
A late and overpowering contender in 2016, it is rooted in the socially conscious, dirty soul of the 70s with swooning vocals, sensual, heady instrumentation and a boldness that grabs you by the heart and crotch at the same time. Like being stoned on heartbreak and passion, this album has demanded repeated listening.
Share your highlights in the comments below.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. His world comes crashing down when the evil Ajax (Ed Skrein) tortures, disfigures and transforms him into Deadpool. The rogue experiment leaves Deadpool with accelerated healing powers and a twisted sense of humor. With help from mutant allies Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Deadpool uses his new skills to hunt down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
At some point, the comics industry needs to come out and accept that kids aren’t reading comics in the same numbers that they did back in the golden/silver age. Especially superhero comics and what was wonderful about Deadpool is that it’s cheerfully and openly adult in it’s humour, scatological and awash with dark jokes, sight gags, continuity references and fourth wall breaking observations that had me giggling when the film did not have me open mouthed with surprise and delight.
Ryan Reynolds is a classic leading man, handsome and self aware with an independent sensibility and an awareness of the ridiculous that fits perfectly within this milieu. Even his voice performance is wry and amusing, his chemistry with Morena Baccarin is brazen and sensual whilst having an endearing sweetness that makes it palatable.
The film works so well because it understands and embraces the spectacle of the comic books, fights and gore that defy physics and biology like a live action Looney Tunes. It’s a million times better than the grim-dark earnestness of Man of Steel and the upcoming Dawn of Justice. It has Gina Carano in it, TJ Miller as a comedic sidekick is wonderful and Alex Skrein as a physically appealing and morally reprehensible antagonist.
Go see it, because I want a sequel. It’s funny and appealing in all the ways that matter.
It’s always the ones who go quietly that you miss the most. He was memorable in everything he did.
He opened his eyes
to a ragged
Chorus of cheers
All his subjects
Looked upon him
Their ugliness alleviated
By their love for him
And with each breath
‘Welcome home, we’ve
Missed you during your
He smiles, how to explain
The mark he made
On so many mortals
Words are too inconstant
So he asks for a
Fingers against the frets
And so he
Tarantino is the only writer/director who would make a three hour single location western murder mystery chockful of violence, profanity at a Shakespearean level and a cast of character actors.
Thank god for that.
I love his movies. He’s an auteur and even his excesses are crimes of enthusiasm rather than any lack of ability. His missteps are, at least bold ones and that’s what I love about him.
It’s a jaw dropping movie. Uncomfortable and leavened by bursts of coal black humour as it descends into a final act that is garotte tight in execution and still capable of genuine warmth and humanity. It’s probably his best film.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is incredible, playing an ugly, irredeemable woman with a low cunning and a powerful sense of herself. She has a serpentine sensual brutality and a willingness to go for the moment that makes her riveting to watch.
Walton Goggins is superb, more than holding his own with the likes of Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell.
Samuel L Jackson has a monologue about halfway through that is one of the most uncomfortable and disturbing things I’ve seen and yet he still radiates an amused mastery of space and performance that makes him the de facto hero of the piece.
Go see it. It’s important to support original film in a time of reboots and remakes because we need art that pokes us in the uncomfortable places and this film does that.