Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Oh great, I probably just killed someone and I lost my best knife

The Legend of Boggy Creek is the proto-Blair Witch movie (say what you will about the Blair Witch franchise, I always liked that the sequel worked from the notion that found footage was over and only a cunt would keep at it), and most of its thrills come from throwing its central concept right out there in broad daylight and none of this "WHAT IS IT WHAT IS IT WHATS GOING ON OMG WHATS GOIN ON YOU GUYS OMG" bullshit that typifies modern horror moviemaking's fascination with the idea that it is dealing with people encountering the mysterious rather than making its money from depicting how people deal with their encounters with the mysterious - we simply don't need ninety minutes of the creature in the shadows, and movies like Legend of Boggy Creek stand alongside The Host and Aliens as examples of film where you can let the cat out of the bag early on and still do a good frightener.
It's showing its age, but the makers really do their best with the tiny budget and a cast drawn from the citizenry of the town where the film was made, including the local high school - which makes the reaction of the kids having a sleepover all the more hilarious when they get frightened and scramble to jam bullets in "the woman's rifle" they've been left with so they can get killin' whatever's at large.  Usually dumb teens in these movies are just stereotypes that could have stepped out of a cop procedural like CSI, only relocated to somewhere with trees, but the instinctive impulse to get a shooting iron rings true as the actions of a smalltown type and the rest of the functional acting lends things a matter-of-fact charm that reinforces the feeling of a dated documentary rather than a trashy drive-in feature.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Finally something we can dance to and not that eighties shit you like

My sister described her son hitting his teenage years while addicted to Xbox multiplayer gaming as "like living with a terrorist in the house", but call me old-fashioned if you will: I don't think it's really that hard to see that when your child owes all his social skills to what are essentially voices in their head, things probably will not end well, especially if those voices are a constant stream of rape and murder threats against a soundtrack of war and the screams of the dying.
That's more or less how I imagine Gamergate came about - the screaming, whining, entitled kids on a headset who grew up with no social filters thanks to the anonymous freedom of XBox Live have now become the screaming, whining, entitled adults with no social filter and a Twitter account.  They know certain words and phrases from exposure to them in media and are capable of parroting them when backed into an intellectual corner - my favorite is the use of the words "journalistic ethics" which somehow seem to constantly rear their head in discussions about the sexual harassment of female games developers - but the attitude with which their contributions to the discussion is delivered is no different from the week I spent back in 2007 vainly trying to use XBox Live without being called a faggot, a nigger, a bitch, or a jew for five whole minutes...
I left the world of online gaming to the children that populated it, and now I get to see the car-crash gaming culture they've created for themselves when left to their own devices, but hey, I read Lord of the Flies in high school so I can't really say I didn't see this coming.

Monday, 20 October 2014

My one solace is that gran was a cruel and unforgiving woman and her ghost will haunt you forever

Just checking in with the blog, and I have just this past few minutes finished watching this week's episode of CSI (episode 04, series 15), and it is quite possibly the worst episode of anything I have ever seen, and just to put that statement in context, I have seen other episodes of CSI.  Also, in this week's Madame Secretary, an Iranian diplomat looks Madame Secretary in the eye and says "I have two children, NINE and ELEVEN" and then he does this pause that's a bit too long, so the people making this might be taking the piss now to keep themselves amused.  I know I would if I had to make Madame Secretary each week.
I made it a full three minutes into Red Band Society's cheap-ass take on The Fault In Our Stars' thunder, and it wasn't the ever-annoying atmosphere in medical dramas that socialised medicine is wrong that made me tap out - despite free nationalised healthcare providers being world leaders and the US system trailing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the Hell behind so much that it's funny until you remember all the people that are dying in the failed experiment that is paid healthcare - no, what annoyed me about Red Band Society is that it is annoying.  Annoying, dated, and written like a fifty year-old dude has heard some words from a person under twenty and written them down in a way that is not quite factually or contextually accurate, but he is still getting paid, so that makes me the idiot and not him.

Friday, 17 October 2014

I fought in Vietnam so you two could speak English

I promise I'm not really taking a whole week to finish a single page, even if it does have 16 panels on it - I just don't screengrab stuff that I do for other people and boot up stuff I tinker with in spare minutes to convince you I'm actually working away and aren't a hugely lazy get.  This does not stop my employers putting pictures on their Facebook, all the same, and said tinkering project seems to be nearing a point where it's finished, too, so God help me I might have to actually self-publish something again.  Is there a market for cavemen comics?  Here's hoping.

Blood and Chrome I enjoyed a great deal more than the series that originated it, as while I appreciated Battlestar Galactica's high production values, its pretentiousness seemed an ill fit with an embarrassing reliance on tropes like sex robots, a sub-Terminator backstory and "they look like us" plot dynamics that stopped being interesting somewhere around 1960 and didn't get fresh again just because characters didn't make jokes onscreen.  The use of made-up swearwords was also deeply, deeply irritating, as for all its po-faced space-politics, the overuse of the word "frac" as an analogue for "fuck" reduced dialogue to something on the level of twats in elf costumes shouting "SMEGHEAD" at each other in public and unable to grasp what they sound like.
This episodic mini-movie is pretty entertaining, though - while it still has the annoying made-up swears that only just sound acceptable in the 1978 original on account of it being a big load of cheesy shit, Blood and Chrome at least drops the sex robot nonsense and returns to its roots as a pulp romp, with some fantastic production work realising an ice planet, establishing shots that look like they jumped off a 1970s sci-fi paperback, and at least one great action setpiece in the form of a dogfight in and around the wreckage of a starship, no matter how hard the laughably overactive cinema verite camerawork tries to ruin the action scenes.  Some of the sets look a bit dodgy, but otherwise it's an eventful and undemanding 90 minutes.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

If people want to take off their clothes and chase one another, it certainly wouldn't hurt morale around here

Just like I watch NCIS: New Orleans because it stars Scott Bakula, I watch NCIS: Los Angeles because it stars Chris O'Donnell - yes, I love Batman and Robin that much - though I also like that the show can fall back upon LL Cool J's sellout status as a prominent black Republican who stars in a notoriously right-wing tv show and espouses the joys that wealth and privilege bring him should it ever run out of unfunny dialogue, intrusive background music that the makers of a Tom and Jerry short would consider too much, or ways to waste Linda Hunt and Miguel Ferrer's time with shit that is beneath them to attract viewers.  I don't know why I am so down on it, as it's really just a poor reflection on myself personally that I still watch it despite knowing what trash it is, but here we are.

Escape From Los Angeles is very entertaining, but the obvious model work that featured in the prequel had an organic charm that is sadly lacking in the similarly-obvious primitive CGI that covers the screen of Snake Pliskin's second cinematic outing even if the rest of the film is solid, especially Snake's expanded range of grunts, one-liners, and facial expressions.  I was hooting with laughter at the surf chase and basketball combat scenes, and while the "satire" of much of the film is unsubtle, it feels like a nice throwback to the punk aesthetic of the era of the original Escape From New York (which I watched yesterday), should you be willing to indulge the film and not dismiss it on its poor reputation.  Of course, I was similarly-inclined to indulge Ghosts Of Mars' bonkers b-movie approach and enjoyed that despite its reputation, so what do I know?  Some of it - like the hang-glider assault and fisticuffs with the main villain in the final stretch - seem less John Carpenter-ish than usual, suggesting he was going a bit more mainstream like he did with Big Trouble In Little China, and it's a shame that he didn't succeed in making more mainstream action movies aimed at a younger audience, because this kind of daffy high concept, over-the-top action film full of unsubtle digs at American excess wouldn't be unwelcome in cinemas right now when superheroes are joyless and sombre murderers, and Star Trek is populated with bad writing and a cast of obnoxious pricks.
It's not brain surgery - neither was the original - but it's good fun and makes a point or two about its originating culture.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

You ain't over it 'till you over it

Madame Secretary is basically terrible, but if you watch it on a PS3, you can set the playback speed to "1.5" so you get through it quicker while still being able to understand dialogue.
There are lots of "tough ladies in a male environment" tv shows that are really good at what they do, but this isn't one of them,  though I continue watching because it occasionally makes me laugh when the lead character shows how tough she is by cradling a crying child or having conversations about absent men.  Were I more convinced that my online image as a recalcitrant gobshite throwback was known to be a facade crafted for the purpose of entertaining you, I would also fashion a sexist joke around this point about how the character still knows her place in the kitchen or something like that, to further underline how much this show is not about a strong female character who can exist outside stereotypical feminine idioms of the televisual medium, but I'm sadly not that secure, and also every episode I've seen thus far contains a scene where the character comes home from doing man-politics and immediately seeks the comfort of her kitchen.  It's not a motif I consider to be a good idea.
There's also some obvious padding going on, too, like the lead character getting a grown-ass daughter out of nowhere that even the characters in the fiction can't believe is something they are going to do now, asking why this grown-ass daughter was hidden from them only to be told that actually she "just wasn't mentioned, I don't know" and then she comes home and the parents are like "shit, there is literally no room for you, we'll have to clear a couch" which is all very meta as then the character drops out of college because the writers haven't decided what they're going to do with her, they only know that they were told to get a teenage/early 20s female in there somewhere.  This show is a bit of a mess, but possibly that's why I'm still watching.

NCIS New Orleans is unambiguously bad tv, but it performs a metatextual commentary upon the city in which it is set by not only having only a single black character in the main cast despite being a show that is set in New Orleans in the year 2014, but also banishing that character to the background despite her being played by the charismatic CCH Pounder.   This is, of course, par for the Big Easy, previously an island of sanity in the bible belt, NCIS:NO is an inadvertent paradigm of how white America has stolen the city and populated its councils and government with white faces - hell, it doesn't even try to disguise the fact that its three main characters are white, one of them is even a Texan.  This might sound like I'm hatin' but I'm really not as this is no worse than the other NCIS shows (although fair play this makes it pretty bad) and it really does provide an invaluable insight to right-wing American culture that a reactionary, conservative franchise like NCIS now feels at home there.
But it stars Scott Bakula, and fuck's sake, internet, I'm not made of stone.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Junkies arguing about mundane things is one of my favorite things about New York

Forever is basically Castle if the character of Castle from Castle was also the character The Highlander from The Highlander, and is about a guy who keeps dying and coming back to life, and the first time this happened is when he was transporting slaves hundreds of years ago, and no, that moral minefield is never mentioned again beyond this scene.  He dies and comes back to life and assumes that this incident was somehow the cause of his immortality rather than simply the first instance of his resurrection, but don't look too hard at this kind of reasoning because the show is rife with nonsensical and often contradictory deduction, like that bit where the doctor deduces that someone has tried to make a murder look like an overdose of heroin when he sees that the heroin has "pooled in the muscle" because it was injected postmortem and thus didn't enter the victim's bloodstream on account of his not having a bloodstream by this point, and then less than two minutes later, the doctor instructs his aide to catch a rat that chewed on the victim's face in order to obtain a sample of the heroin that wasn't in the man's system.  In a previous episode, a guy has his briefcase stolen by a mugger who runs off when the guy dies of a heart attack.  Later, the doctor opens the briefcase that was brought in with the older man's body to see what's in it, and don't even get me started on the heavy use of coincidence to bridge story elements, the biscuit possibly being taken by characters simply running into escaping suspects on the notoriously deserted NYC subway system.
Forever is not a good show if your attention span is 80 seconds or more, which is probably why they front-load each episode with pictures of the lead male with his shirt off instead of a blank screen with the words "ELEMENTARY IS ON A BREAK SO PLEASE WATCH THIS WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THE NEW SEASON" emblazoned across the tv, and the way they haven't made a single reference to Elementary or Castle a full five episodes in makes me think the people making Forever are being a bit precious about their piggybacking on the success of other, better NYC-based murder-mystery shows, because the goofy and light-hearted atmosphere of proceedings is screaming out for some conspicuously-absent lampshade-hanging or at least a bit of genre-awareness.
Forever is televisual landfill, a placeholder until you find something else to watch in its stead and the way it's written and the way it shirt-offs its lead at the drop of a hat (without ever asking why he isn't on a sex offender's registry for streaking public places every week) suggest that those making it at least know that much and have built their product accordingly.  It is not good, but it is amusing and passes the time, and I suppose that's the best they were hoping for even if we might have been holding out for something better with such a romantic high-concept premise at the heart of what is essentially an identikit mystery show you've seen many times before even in the current televisual season.  There's plenty of other shows coming up with an identical setting, too - iZombie is likely the one that springs immediately to mind as it's going for the teen viewership for some reason, but I'm not sure who Forever is aimed at.  I suppose that's just another one of life's mysteries.