State of Play (BBC)

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One of the TV series that I finally got round to watch this Easter holidays was State of Play. It’s a six-part miniseries from 2003 that stars some of the finest British acting talent around. It tells the story of an MP, Stephen Collins, (David Morrissey) whose secretary falls in front of a tube station. Shortly after suspicion starts to arise as to whether their relationship was truly just on a business level and it doesn’t take long for him to be forced to admit that they were, in fact, having an affair together. Cal McCaffrey, one of the country’s top journalists is given the task of digging up as much dirt on the story as possible but since he has a personal relationship with Collins he is reluctant to dig as deep as he normally would. Until his colleague, Della Smith (Kelly Macdonald) finds a link between the secretary’s death and the death of a young black male that happened at the same time. As the plot thickens the events around the death are found to reveal a shady story that takes a deep look into the darker sides of politics and journalism. The show also stars Bill Nighy, James McAvoy and Phillip Glenister.

State of Play is something really special. One of the tensest series I’ve ever watched with a mystery so well thought out that the slow unravelling of truth becomes a fast-paced thriller full of dark secrets. As you would expect with such an amazing cast the acting is superb but the standout of the programme as a whole it’s writing. The whole series is written by Paul Abbott who previously wrote Cracker and has since been the creator of Shameless. It’s hard to fathom though how such a multi-faceted series can have come from just one mind and makes the whole thing even more impressive.

It is, without over-exaggerating, one of the best tv shows I’ve ever watched and it makes me wonder why there isn’t more stuff like this about on TV. It’s made all the more relevant with the Leveson inquiry still fresh in the memory as it questions the relationship between the press and the government so if you haven’t seen it before now is a better time than any.

The Lives of Others

Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) bei seiner Arbeit.So this is another review I’ve done for Tyson Carter’s Head in a Vice blog for his iMDB Top 250 challenge, you should swing by his blog and check out what he’s up to.

The Lives of Others sits quite high up the top 250 at a rather impressive 58th making it one one of only a very select handful of foreign language films that make it into the top 60. The film, set in communist East Germany in the 1980’s, tells the story of a playwrite who, like a huge number of people during the period, was put under surveillance by the government. During the era the goal of the East German governemnt, known as the GDR, was to ‘know everything’ a fact we are given at the very beginning of The Lives of Others and hence our protagonist, Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), has his apartment secretly wired and his every action recorded by a governemnt operative. However, Dreyman’s way of life somehow infulences the surveyor in charge of his case, Haputmann gerd Weisler (Ulrich Muhre), in such a way that his life and pereception is changed forever.

The film is written and directed by Florian Henckle von Donnersmarck a man who, apart from having a ridiculously strange name, made a number of shorts before directing The Lives of Others but has since only gone on to direct one other film which happens to be 2010’s The Tourist, a film which I have no real desire to watch. But this leaves me with little to compare The Lives of Others with in terms of any auteuristic qualities. On top of this my knowledge of German cinema is restricted to having only seen about five German films in my lifetime, at a push. But, I hope I am right in saying, that The Lives of Others is completely different from any film that has ever been made. It has a unique style of which I have not come across before. I’ll try to go some way as to explaining why.

There are a number of other films that have a similar plot, a similar setting and a similar style but The Lives of Others manages to separate itself from the crowd. The feeling that was apparent throughout was one of hope, a feeling that, as mentioned in the movie about the protagonist, holds the belief that anyone can change. And while the film has the look of a movie that tells a hard, depressing historical tale, The Lives of Others gives you something more human.

As I mentioned the feel of the film is reflected by the main character’s persona, there are a number of other moments that run as threads through the film creating a thick tapestry of plot elements, character traits and shots that all come together in some way and have much more signifcance than you realise, as a part of a masterfully written plot. Almost everything you see or hear turns out to have greater significance than you would think. It’s hard to give more examples without giving away spoilers but I will say, check for the irony to do with the facts about suicide. Another obvious one would be the siginifcance of the piece of music given to Dreyman near the beginning. There are a number of others to look out for, if you’ve seen the film you’ll know exactly what I mean, if you haven’t look out for them.

What stood out for me, above all, about The Lives of Others is that it never felt like it should be as powerful as it turned out to be. It was a humble film, unaware of its own genius. It calmly takes you through its storyline in a very matter-of-fact way and when it ends you suddenly realise how much you’ve been taken in by it. It really is an incredibly well made film and certainly deserves its place on the list, I strongly recommend anyone to go watch this movie.

 

You Don’t See The Dark

Hello and welcome to first new media share post. These posts are now going to replace my weekly updates and will just consist of me sharing a song or a trailer or something. Just something I think you should all see.

So to kick it off there’s another single out from Julian Langer who you may remember from one of my previous updates. He’s a folk singer-songwriter from North Devon with an upcoming self-made album so give him a listen and see what you think, I know he’d be hugely grateful of any support.

 

An Unusual Murder Part 2 and an Arrested Evil Trance – 13.04.13

So we’ll kick off the update with part 2 of my short story An Unusual Murder, if you missed part 1 check it out here.

An Unusual Murder

     The following is filed as classified evidence for the Simon Falmouth case.

Official Statement

Charlie

     Mary was walking me down to Tesco. I really wanted spaghetti Bolognese for tea so she needed to get some ingredients. Spaghetti Bolognese is one of my favourite meals, if I could I would have it three times a week. We got to Tesco and I noticed there was a security guard standing just by the doors, he was a black man and he watched me as I was coming in and it made me feel quite anxious. I tried to ignore him but he kept staring so I stared back until he stopped. Then me and Mary went down the aisle where the cans of tomatoes are.

I remember feeling agitated because Mary couldn’t find the tomatoes and now I know I have a bruise on my arm and sometimes that happens because Mary holds my arm so tight and she said it was because I was being a pain because of the security guard and because she can’t find the right tomatoes. I remember one of the cans falling on the floor and spilling underneath the shelves, it looked like blood, and a woman on the other side started screaming. Screaming makes me sad. It reminds me of being scared when I got lost in the woods once and Mary couldn’t find me and I couldn’t find Mary and I saw strangers around and strangers always scare me and I panicked that time but that was years ago and I’m not supposed to feel scared anymore because I’m a grown man and people won’t try to kidnap me. But sometimes I still do get scared of strangers being around.

The police asked me to write this statement so they could get a clearer idea of some ‘very horrific events’ that happened but I’m really struggling to remember anything that happened. Mary says that I can’t remember things sometimes because I’m a different person and that’s why she looks after me so that I don’t do anything dangerous but I would never do anything dangerous so that makes me sad that she thinks I could. I just don’t really understand. I hope this helps the police get a clearer picture and I hope that I don’t have to go back into that interrogation room again. It was scary and I felt like the policemen didn’t understand what I was saying to them.

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Part 3 will be up next week, let me know what you think in the comments box below.

So to this week has been media filled would be an understatement, I’ve been catching up on a large number of games, TV Shows and so on. The ones I chosen to review though are Danny Boyle’s latest film Trance, the latest instalment in the Resident Evil franchise, Resi 6 and finally soon-to-be-revived sitcom Arrested Development. Any comments or feedback on any of my review is greatly appreciated too.

Finally I’ll leave you with another trailer for the movie I’m planning to watch this week, who knows what to expect of it but check back here later on in the week for my opinion, here’s Spring Breakers:

Arrested Development

arrested-development-returnsSo I recently finished watching Arrested Development’s three seasons. I have no idea why it took me so long to get through it, it was one of the most enjoyable shows I have ever watched. But reaching the end of the shows original run has been made even sweeter by the knowledge that Netflix have commissioned a brand new fourth season in which all the main cast will return and 15 new episodes will be available from the 29th May, a date for the diary for sure. The shows original run was cancelled by Fox back in 2006 since despite the raving critical reception the show never managed particularly good viewing figures, which doesn’t seem to make any sense!

If you haven’t seen the show before it is a sitcom about the lives of the Bluth family, all of whom are used to living with an abundance of money behind them but as their family business falls into problems its a hard job getting any of them to change their ways and the sheer dysfunctionality (don’t think that’s a real word but you get the gist) of all of them provides us with one of the funniest comedies ever to grace the small screen. There are many things which I love about Arrested Development and it’s very hard to list them all, one of the shows best attributes is that every character is deluded in a different way and that provides a great basis for hilarious misunderstandings to occur. But the humour doesn’t stop just with the characters the writing of the show deserves some kind of medal of honour for being able to persistently present the Bluth’s with incredibly funny and awkward situations every single episode. It’s a mystery to me how they managed to keep coming up with the amount of stuff they did, and I can’t wait for more.

If you haven’t seen the show I strongly recommend checking out so you can catch up in time for season four!

 

Resident Evil 6

Resident_evil_6_premium_edition_c8szoBeing a long-term fan of the Resident Evil series but having been disappointed by its fifth instalment I was quite anxious leading up to the release of number six. After playing the demo though and reading the reviews any buzz I may have originally had for the game was swiftly smothered. In the end I waited for a while and after not hearing anything much good about it I decided to rent it rather part with a larger chunk of cash. I’m so glad I made that decision.

In case you don’t know about the game it takes a rather a more holistic approach than any of its predecessors, offering you with four different campaigns all from the point-of-view of different characters the majority of which have been the leads in previous games. All four stories coincide with each other to paint a bigger picture of the games dense storyline. The first three story-lines all offer co-op play throughout, whereas the last one that only becomes available after finishing the other three is only single player. The campaigns have all been given a different feel in an attempt to keep all types of gamers happy.

The first story is led by Leon (previously the main character from Resi 2 and 4, 4 being my personal favourite of the whole series) and his partner Helena, this campaign is probably the most like the original Resi games at various points taking you into sewers and graveyards. It is the only story where you actually fight zombies, the J’Avo which you fight in all the other campaigns can barely be described as such. Leon’s campaign is easily the best on the game it being the only one that actually feels like a Resident Evil game, albeit a fairly poor one. By the end of chapter two I was beginning to get into it quite a lot and thought that perhaps it won’t be as bad as everyone says it is but then once you get on to the campaigns later chapters and are bombarded with constant button-mashing and cut-scenes and are barely given a chance to do anything it fast loses its charm. Chapters four and five are a relentless pounding of action none of which is enjoyable and you are ultimately glad for it to finish when it does.

Moving onto Chris (the protagonist from the very first Resi as well as Code: Veronica, The Umbrella Chronicles and Resi 5) and Piers’ campaign and things take a turn even further into shitness. This campaign had my wanting to my hear out pretty much from start to finish. Where Resi 5 failed by trying to make the game attract the Call of Duty market they make the same mistake with this campaign. It’s far too much like a war game and the J’Avo who are the main types of enemy are simply just soldiers with masks. There of particularly infuriating moments which have stuck in my mind, one in which you have to shoot down a helicopter from a boat, I was playing on Veteran difficulty and it seemed whatever I did I would just got shot down immediately to face the ‘You Are Dead’ screen. And the other being a despicably awful QTE in which you have to escape from a strange corridor that is under attack from a disgusting sea monster by sprinting to a door shooting the things hand, sprinting to the next door shooting the things hand then alterantly pressing L1 and R1 but a really awkward pace otherwise the game won’t register it. It’s QTE scene’s such as that which really are the games biggest downfall, not a single boss fight is left to you to do and is instead decided by these fast-tapping moments which are stupidly easy half the time and ridiculously hard the other half with no consistency at all.

The next story is led by Jake (in his first ever appearance) and Sherry (who previously appeared in Resi 2). I found this story to really be just a filler. In one of its chapters it tries to be a stealth game stealing ideas from Hitman or Splinter Cell as you have to sneak you’re way through a cave and avoid being caught by a giant ogre. The story really is just a strange hybrid mash of a load of different video game cliches. There’s the stealth section in which you even have to hide a dumpster and peer out waiting for enemies to pass a shameless rip-off of Hitman. There’s a part where you have to guide a snow mobile away from an avalanche with an incredibly clunky control system that reminded me of one of the more terrible missions in 007 Nightfire. Then there’s another mission where you wake up in a hospital and have to escape with no weapons, but for some reason the hospital is such a bright white that it makes all objects apart from your player invisible for no reason whatsoever.

The final story is Ada Wong’s (previously from Resi 4 and selection of spin-off titles) and her plot coincides with all the other four meaning there are only a couple of parts of her campaign which you haven’t played before. Those bits are actually some of the best in the game, she has a couple of puzzles to solve which were previously one of my favourite things about the series and a boss where you actually get to fight whole thing without control being ripped from you in order for you to mash a couple of buttons really fast. It’s a shame then that hers is the shortest of all the stories and the majority of her missions are just stuck together out of bits that you’ve already got really pissed off with in the other campaigns.

Overall, by then end I really did hate this game. It seems that they’re are trying to cater for too many different markets and in the process have lost what it was that made the series original in the first place. It’s not survival horror game any more and is barely even a horror. It’s basically just a poor action adventure that seems more intent on telling you an over-exuberant storyline than letting you play a game. It’s a massive shame that a series that used be one of my favourites of all time has produced two big misfires for this console generation. Let’s hope that this dip in form will come to an end with PS4 and new XBox but I’m not holding my breath.