So for this weeks title I had to look up what the hell Amok means turns out it means to behave uncontrollably making my eventual title choice inadvertently poetic, one can not complain with the way that has turned out.
Deadlines are now looming, until the end of March every week will have a new a cut off for my writing assignments, this coming Wednesday is the turn of my magazine writing unit, which I only just started today because it took me a while to realise how close the deadline actually is. Despite it being only a week away and me having not done anything towards I’m completely relaxed as always, writing this blog post with some punk playing and a cuppa waiting for time to pass. In fact today the main thing that’s been on my mind is not the forthcoming deadlines but the fact that next term when lectures are pretty much over that me and my housemates are going to have the time to work on a film of our own. Pretty much proof that my mind is probably not in the right frame for the problems at hand. Still I’m sure I’ll tick along nicely, have a few late night panics and get everything just about in on time, not to worry.
Amongst all the work I will be sure to still fit in as much film watching, music listening and game playing as is humanly possible, as I have this week. I kicked things off with my latest cinema trip to see This is 40. Which was swiftly followed by my thoughts on the debut Atoms for Peace record, Amok. Then it all came to a rushed halt with my opinion of the second series of Black Mirror. This week there’s not a massive amount that I’m looking forward to, but don’t worry I’m sure there’ll be plenty for me to talk about.
Well the second series of Charlie Brooker’s dark futuristic visions, Black Mirror came to it’s close on Monday and if you’ve read my review you’ll know how much I loved the first series. Series two saw three new ideas of how technology is going to ruin the world. Episode one told the story of a girl grieving the death of her husband or fiancee, I can’t remember, but she finds out about a service which collects all the data he left behind online and create a fully functioning online version of the deceased, as she gets more and more attached to the fact that she can talk to him she moves up in the levels of this idea eventually experimenting with this new technology that makes a fully human version of her loved one resulting in a deeply disturbing series of events. Episode two took a slightly different outlook. Starting at in a somewhat 28 Days Later style setting with a girl waking up a strange world that seems to have been taken over by murderers and faceless watchers who do nothing but film her on their mobiles. I won’t give away the twist but it turns out to be something much darker than you would expect. The concluding part of the trilogy was about comedy cartoon character, Waldo, who ends up becoming a political figure due to the way in which takes the piss out of existing politicians and his ‘fuck-everything’ mentality.
It must be said though that I found this series a great deal less insightful and original than the first. The best episode was definitely the best in this series, and that, really, was just a modern day Frankenstein but it was done very well and managed to put a new, thought-provoking spin on the idea. Episode two was much the same, the twist at the end was excellent but there were too many scenes that I felt like I’d seen before, as I mentioned earlier it really was very similar to 28 Days Later. And the final episode, I thought, was the worst one yet it didn’t seem clear in what it was trying to say and when it came to the end I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to think. The trailer for the episode threw me off to as I was getting very excited by the bit about Waldo being the perfect assassin but in the context of the episode this line made virtually no sense.
It’s still a whole lot better and much more thought provoking than almost any other tv show but series two of Black Mirror lacked the originality of its predecessor, ultimately feeling like a more rushed series that bears its influences to close to the surface making them all too noticeable. Still definitely worth a watch though.
Atoms for Peace are a new supergroup that includes Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Flea of the Chilli’s, Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M., Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and percussionist Mauro Refusco. They’ve been around for a little while, orignally getting together for Thom Yorke’s solo touring then they released Judge, Jury and Executioner way back in 2009. No one really knew what was to come of them but they kept on going releasing the first official single Default in September 2012 having claimed they were finishing off an album all the way back in September 2011. But it hasn’t been until this week that Amok has finally materialised.
It’s not a world away from Radiohead, Yorke’s falsetto vocals are always going to create a certain feel no matter what band he’s in and with the inclusion of producer Nigel Godrich the impeccable, understated sound that makes Radiohead records so great is apparent here too. But there are differences elsewhere. Flea’s basslines bring a new flavour to the sound often forming the base of the tracks particularly in Dropped and Before Your Very Eyes… His influence on the record as a whole, not just in the bass parts, is clear too there’s a constant feel of funk that isn’t really there on a Radiohead record. It’s helped along by the combination drums and percussion both of which are produced to perfection as they ripple away underneath the sparse musicality that is over the top.
There is not one track that’s a let down, there’s not one track that isn’t a great song and it’s hard to pick out stand-out moments because it’s all so good, my only qualm would be that it’s only nine tracks long, it leaves you wanting more but really that can only be a good thing. An early contender for album of the year.
This weeks cinema trip was a rom-com that I was actually really excited for. Billed as the ‘sort-of sequel’ to Knocked Up, This is 40 is Judd Apatow’s fourth time behind the directors chair and it follows the lives of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), who were secondary characters in Knocked Up as they turn 40 and the marital, financial and parenting problems they go through. It really doesn’t have much to do with Knocked Up at all but that doesn’t really matter. Apatow is probably the biggest producer in Hollywood today and all his previous directorial efforts have been excellent. His last outing was with Funny People a film which was largely disliked by the public but loved by critics (and me). It was a much more sombre affair than his first two but I think, an understated well told, heartfelt film. I was expecting more of the same with This is 40.
One thing most of the reviews I’ve read have picked up on is the lengthy running time of 136 minutes and the majority of reviews I’ve read have said it’s far too long. I beg to differ. I thought the plot trotted along at a very watchable pace with funny bits cropping up far more often than I was expecting. I didn’t even notice the time passing and would have been happy to spend another hour in the presence of these lovable, realistic characters. Another thing most of the reviews noted is how much this film feels like a sit com, again this is mostly seen as a bad thing by the critics. Again, I think they’re completely wrong, the film is sitcom material but I think the fact that it feels like watching a sitcom speaks to how well its made. You feel for the characters like you would in a sitcom but Apatow and the actors have managed to create that feeling in one feature, something that usually grows over a whole series in sitcoms. There’s not a moment of the film that wasn’t funny in my eyes, the occasional emotional punch would you set you up for more laughs to follow shortly and the cast deliver the incredibly witty script with the comedy chops we’ve come to know them for. But then there’s two kids played by Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow’s actual daughters who may bring the most laughs of them all.
I found This is 40 to be an insightful, funny look into the lives of an ageing married couple and family life in general. Not quite as slow as Funny People but not quite as fast-paced as Knocked Up it sits somewhere in between the two finding the perfect balance of laughs and heart, ignore the reviews this is one of the most enjoyable flicks you’ll watch this year.
I know, I know the title can just go die in a hole. I set myself an impossible task with my three reviews this week and the result is the shittest title any post could ever have, on the plus side it probably means it won’t get seen by many people…
It’s been a busy week as you may gather from the fact that my update is a day late. My first deadline of the semester was yesterday so the majority of my free time was spent doing anything I could to afford working and then reluctantly writing a few words before coming up with an excuse not to and playing the disgustingly addictive Candy Crush Saga for a good hour and then writing a tiny bit more. Since handing I’ve felt better about procrastinating but the feeling won’t last for long as more deadlines seem to be charging at me at an alarming rate. Still there has been some good things. I discovered an awesome called The Bronx who you may have heard of before, their a hardcore punk outfit that I would describe as a happy version of Gallows and I’ve been very much enjoying head-banging to their four records, there’ll be a post at some point about them. Also this week a leak of the Atoms for Peace record, Amok, emerged a review for that will be up soon. And on top of all this the announcements about the Playstation 4 were made last night and I am incredibly excited , let me know your thoughts on its new features in a comment below if you like.
Now back to the past week I’ve just about managed to give you a nice array of reviews kicking off with my review of the Smashing Pumpkins debut album Gish which marks the kick off to a series of reviews I’ll be writing on their whole discography. Second was my review of Channel 4’s latest drama serial Utopia which cam to an end on Tuesday night and was nothing short of being fucking awesome. And finally I gave my thoughts on Dredd. Hope you enjoy having a read.
To continue about the Playstation 4 I’ll leave you with this footage of one of the consoles debut titles Deep Down if you’ve had enough of strange Japanese man talking skip to 4.30 and enjoy the stunning graphics:
Yesterday the mood finally struck me to watch Dredd, the 2012 re-hash of the 2000AD comic book hero. Fortunately, yes, it was better than Stallone’s original incarnation. But the film has been the subject of a lot scrutiny since it basically has the exact same plot as The Raid, which is probably the best action film of the decade leaving Dredd with a rather high standard to reach. It’s unfortunate that Dredd was actually in development before The Raid ever was but its release date came afterwards and therefore doesn’t feel original.
Going in I thought the stories couldn’t be exactly the same, surely. But I was shocked by how few differences there were, they might as well have used the same script just with different actors. Perhaps that’ a slight over exaggeration but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying. The differences to be found in Dredd, however, are some of the most interesting parts of the film. In particular the new drug, Slow-Mo which makes the brain see things at 1 per cent their normal speed, it sets up a number of brilliant set pieces and super slow motion shoot-outs. The problem, again, is that the action is nowhere near the level of The Raid and while normally you wouldn’t expect anything be that mind-bogglingly awesome Dredd is fighting a losing battle as it is so similar.
In fact it’s very hard to give it a fair trial, I enjoyed watching but I’d never watch it again because I’d just watch The Raid, if it had come out before it may well have been a much more entertaining watch but I still feel as though even if The Raid did come out after Dredd it would still shit all over it. Let’s be clear Dredd is much better than the Stallone and a much better portrayal of the Judge himself and a well-made action picture but it seems to have been cursed by the worst luck possible, let’s hope it’s not the final nail in the coffin for big screen adaptations though, there’s so much potential in Mega City One.