Films & TV

Tove Lo’s short film Fairy Dust

In support of her new album, “Lady Wood“, Tove Lo also released a half-hour long film called “Fairy Dust”.

“Fairy Dust” is raw, emotional, often raunchy and probably not safe for work. It’s really cinematic, has big production value, and has a surprising performance by Tove Lo herself. There isn’t much that this woman isn’t prepared to do on screen for her art – parental advisory is recommended. The film reminded me a little of what Lana Del Rey did with her film “Tropico”.

From the very opening, Tove’s performance is pretty exceptional. I wasn’t hugely familiar with her previous work and so I didn’t really know what to expect from her. This opening scene alone showed me that she’s much more than just a musician.

Tove Lo Holding her album Ladywood
Tove Lo Holding her album Ladywood

The performances during “Fairy Dust” gave me a deeper appreciation for the songs that were included too. Stand outs include the titular “Lady Wood” and “True Disaster”. A lot of these performances were expertly crafted in themselves. Each song was like its own complete, independent scene – the “True Disaster” scene is awesome and looks as though it was done in one continuous take. Whenever I hear this song now I can’t help but think of that scene. The same goes for all the songs.

As for the story of the film, in general it’s about a relationship and the passion and rage surrounding it. For me this film is more of a complete work of art set to original music than a point by point narrative – I’d love to hear what you took from the film in the comments below.

If you’re a fan of Tove Lo’s music, you need to check out “Fairy Dust” as a companion to the album. But whatever you do please don’t watch the whole film at work – unless either your boss is very open to artistic raunchiness or if you are the boss.

You can buy Tove Lo’s “Lady Wood” on Amazon today.

Films & TV

His word is his bond – Negan shows who is boss

Like many of the other comments on The Walking Dead’s seventh season opening episode, I too found it the most shocking. For me this episode showcased one of the best things that the writers do – take what you think you know and turn it around.

The drawing out of the big reveal set out by last season’s finale was left just the right length for me. Not only did it keep me on the edge of my seat, anxious, it also succeeded in putting me into as close to Rick’s frame of mind as it could. I don’t think I’ve ever been as anxious and upset and angry during one episode ever before. Of any TV show. The base of my spine was aching by the end from being that anxious while watching.

I’ve seen people writing about how the show was “too much” or that it had “jumped the shark”. What a load of bull. Negan is an evil bastard and will do anything to ensure his followers do exactly what he commands. He takes no shit and leads by example. The world of the Walking Dead has always been a brutal one and I think some people have become too comfortable in Rick leading the way and being the big boss man. I’m so glad a character like Negan has come into it to truly push our heroes to their emotional and physical limits.

Films & TV

We don’t do friends round here. Round here it’s Brotherhood

I have been a big fan of both Kidulthood and Adulthood for a while now. I got really excited when I saw a bus drive past me recently with a big picture of Noel Clarke on the side. The only word I could make out as the bus sped past was “Brotherhood”.

Realistic and brutal with some tasteful comedy

Tonight I went to see “Brotherhood” and I was not disappointed whatsoever. This film was terrific – often grimey; always believable; and even occasionally really funny. There is a great scene in the film regarding a phone conversation and Sainsbury’s. That’s all I’ll say, but the whole cinema screen was in stitches at this bit.

There were other elements of comedy now and again that offset the serious drama really well. Never cheesy or fake, in fact it was like a light cushion to soften the blows of the harsh world that Sam Peel lives in.

Brotherhood

This harsh world of West London gangs and crime was represented really well. I mean, I have zero knowledge of the world that the characters live in, but there were never any points that felt forced or fake. Every scene felt believable and was at times very brutal.

I left feeling uplifted

Despite the brutality of some of the film’s scenes and emotional turmoil that the characters went through, I left the cinema feeling uplifted. And speaking about emotional turmoil, Noel Clarke’s performance in particular was impressive. He plays as both vulnerable and as a bad ass during “Brotherhood”, and in both his performance is stand out.

It’s probably worth mentioning that there were no bad performances here. All were great, I just don’t want this write up to be massive, as it would be if I was to give all praise to where praise was due.

How this film got a ’15’ certificate I’ll never know. The C-bomb got dropped and I lost count of the amount of times I saw full-frontal nudity – men and women. I guess things have changed since I was a lad…

… gosh did I just say that?

Anyway, “Brotherhood” is an awesome film to be enjoyed as both a final chapter to the “hood” trilogy (Kidulthood, Adulthood, Brotherhood), or even as a film on its own. It’s been at least two or three years since I saw the previous two films and I still thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Films & TV

5 of my favourite moments in Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

There are spoilers below as I am openly writing about some of my favourite moments in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Please don’t read on if you haven’t watched the whole series. Unless you don’t mind spoilers that is.

Class Protector

It seems unbelievable that, even within the world of Buffy, no-one had noticed how the weird happenings and dangers that have plagued the students have somehow linked to Buffy Summers.

So it was great to see Buffy presented with a custom award at the school Prom towards the end of Season 3. That award was “Class Protector” and was presented by none other than Jonathan Levinson.

Giles takes the glory

Giles kills BenAfter Buffy beats Glory to a pulp with Olaf’s Hammer, she left the one-half of the shared body, Ben, on the floor. (Ben and Glory shared the same body, you see). She then warned him that Glory must never return, on pain of death.

As she walked away I remember thinking, “Oh Gosh, what a weak way to give a villain an open ending.”. That was until Giles came along and showed us a twinkle of his inner-darkness:

Giles: …[Buffy] couldn’t take a human life. She’s a hero you see. She’s not like us.
Ben: …us?

Where then Giles grabbed Ben’s mouth and nose and suffocated him right there, essentially killing him and Glory. Dark times.

Discovering The Body

In all of the fantastical moments of the Buffyverse, Demons and Vampires; spells and curses, it’s amazing how close to the human condition Buffy managed to stay. A crowning achievement of this was during season 5 when Buffy walked in on her mother, lying open-eyed, dead on the sofa.

Buffy finds JoyceNormally during Buffy the deaths were par for the course, with the slaying of Vampires and such, but this was the closest it got to real tragedy and was expertly handled by all involved.

I’d like to test that theory…

Possibly my top favourite moment, as it is with many people I think, is Giles’ cool as feck return to stand against the doped-up dark witch that was now Willow. Giles had been out of the series for a while, and in my opinion the series lacked slightly for it. But this made it all worth it when Willow, overcome with grief and high on the dark magics, met her match:

Willow: … and there’s not a person in the World who can stop me.
A bright flash of light knocks willow back several feet and on to her back. In the doorway stands Giles looking cool as heck.
Giles: I’d like to test that theory.

The Kids fight back

One of my favourite end of season finales was that of Season 3. This saw Mayor Wilkins finally reaching his ascension into… a giant snake.

Buffy graduation dayThat wasn’t the best bit though. The high point came when the school kids, who the Mayor was expecting for his first bite to eat, turned out to be armed to the teeth under their graduation gowns. Faster than sunlight they pulled out an array of weapons and gave him hell.

 

Films & TV

I enjoyed the new Ben Hur film

It’s always a risky undertaking when trying to re-make a classic film such as Ben Hur. I don’t have many memories of the original, in fact I only watched the first two thirds of it. I guess I never got round to finishing it.

The original Ben Hur was a full-on epic, clocking in at a little over three and a half hours. Because of this, and the sheer scale of the film for its time, it will always stand out as a classic. The new remake, however, didn’t really have the epic feeling of its original. It didn’t even feel like anything that special. What it was though, was an enjoyable two hour film that will hopefully make you more forgiving to your fellow man / woman.

This remake has a lot of good messages to take away from it and I thought the acting was pretty good too. Just don’t be expected to be taken on a three and a half hour epic journey. I don’t think most of today’s audiences would have the patience for three and a half hours of film. In fact I’ve found that people can’t go ten minutes without checking their bloody phones.

Idiots. Rant over.

If you’ve not seen the 1959 classic I think you’ll enjoy it. If you have seen the original, and have a certain fondness for it, you may leave feeling slightly deflated. But as I always say, go and see for yourself.

Films & TV

American Horror Story 6 Latest Teaser

 

It’s that time of the year again – American Horror Story time. A lot of people I know seem to hold the opinion of get a bit bored with series as it went on. But I really don’t understand them. I love each and every one of these series and love how they intertwine every now and again to form it’s own grand mythology.

Season 6 is about to start next week and I have just seen this trailer. I am now giddy with excitement.

Enjoy.

Films & TV

Life On The Road with David Brent

Last night I went with a friend of mine to see David Brent : Life on the Road. I think we both had mixed feelings about it initially – on one hand it’s great to see this character again, while on the other it chances hurting the mythology. I am happy to say that this film was everything I hoped it would be and more.

An Underrated Actor

I have always thought of Ricky Gervais as being an underrated actor. People always seem to say things like “The Office was good, but that David Brent does make me cringe”. It seems no-one remembers his performance when he was made redundant. Or better yet, Ricky’s monologue in the Big Brother house during the Christmas special of Extras. Both really powerful, and this film he seems to work that magic again.

The film seemed to highlight the tragedy of David’s character instead of fitting in too many gags. It really did feel like a man’s last ditch effort to make it to what he thinks his perfect life should be. The jokes are often at David’s expense, and while often very funny, still managed to make me sympathetic towards him. This is what good comedy should be – exploring a wide range of emotions with the comedy cleverly weaved throughout.

Music to back the story up

Life on the Road is a story of David’s attempt at a music career and tour, and with it there are real songs performed. These aren’t crappy throwaway jokey songs either; they are genuinely well-written from the perspective of a slightly miss-informed Tampon rep. Some songs you will recognise from being mentioned / performed during The Office TV series. Others will be brand new to you, like ‘Lady Gypsy‘ and ‘Aint No Trouble‘.

Another great thing to see as well, was how the world around David has drastically changed. I remember hearing Ricky Gervais talking about how it’s the cut-throat, dog eat dog world that David now finds himself in. With people who are influenced by “The Apprentice”, trying to get one over on the next person. David just doesn’t seem to quite fit in that world – and good for him.

Hats off to the Doc

I also have to mention Doc Brown’s return to the world of Brent as rapper Dom Johnson. Doc Brown is another one of those genuinely talented people who seem to be able to work in a few different art forms. He features on three of the songs of David Brent’s and performs an original song of his own (Dom’s own) during the film, and absolutely kills it.

Films & TV

Suicide Squad was a lot of fun

I keep seeing negative reviews of the Suicide Squad, but you know what? I had fun, dammit. Suicide Squad was a lot of fun – there, I said it.

Don’t go into this film expecting much more than it is – an action-packed, romping, stomping arcade of cinema fun. Because that is what it is. I did however end up caring for most of the characters. I mean, the witch was pushing it a bit, her gyrating to a huge smoke of destruction of some machine or another was a slight downer, but I accepted it as the catalyst for a fun ride.

Harley QuinnIn regards to the world of the Suicide Squad, I went into the film having no prior knowledge to most of the characters. I knew Harley Quinn’s background with the Joker but that was about it. So I didn’t have that comic book baggage that I’ve seen people complaining about – about how Harley Quinn and The Joker’s abusive relationship has been down-played.

There’s a bit of ass going on

If you’re going to be offended by a lady bending over in hot pants then don’t watch this film. I’m not going to pretend the film’s not flaunting Harley Quinn’s ass quite a bit, it is. However it was good to see her character coming across as more than just a wiggling bum. She had a vulnerability that she masked with the fact that she is just plain mental. Plus I’ve been a fan of Margot Robbie since she played the not-quite-as-mental Donna Friedman in Neighbours.

Jared Leto was a surprise Joker for me. I actually really liked him as the Clown Prince of Darkness. His portrayal was fresh, as Heath Ledger’s was before him. Not only that but he gave a decent edge of darkness to the character. His darkness came out when dealing with the relationship between him and Harley Quinn. Their relationship is destructive and somehow beautiful at times.

The Joker and Harley Quinn in the vat

My favourite scene with them was probably The Joker holding Harley Quinn up in a vat of chemicals, during an origin scene, with paint twisting around them.

Pacing and Climax

I found myself interested all the way through the film. There was never a point at which I got bored. There were moments of annoyance as characters made stupid decisions, but I’m finding myself being less critical of a film’s short-comings nowadays. I try to enjoy the ride instead of moaning about one particular turn.

As climaxes go this film’s was okay. I mean, I wasn’t particularly bothered about the possibility of the end of the world, or the main baddies themselves, but I was bothered about the main characters. I wanted Deadshot to get home to his daughter; for Diablo to find his peace; and of course for Harley Quinn to find her Puddin’.

Films & TV

Stranger Things Series One – A Write Up

Think of The Goonies crossed with The X-Files, with a dash of Silent Hill. This is the best one line intro I could think of for Stranger Things that I hadn’t heard before.

It is the story of a small group of friends who are investigating the disappearance of their friend, Will. Will is seen in the opening scenes, being taken by something from out of the darkness – a sort of slenderman-like figure. As the story unravels, new and interesting characters weave through, as this small town’s conspiracy unfolds.

Stranger Things Series One

I spent my pre-teenage years enjoying films like The Goonies; Ghostbusters and Halloween. And yes – Halloween scared the undying crap out of me growing up. But so did Steven King’s IT and I lost count of how many times I saw that.

These films for me evoked a feeling that I haven’t felt since those younger days. The youthful feeling of wonder; of being lost in a world that wasn’t my own, where anything was possible.

Last week I discovered a world where that feeling was re-kindled in me. That world being the small town of Hawkins, Indiana – the setting of Stranger Things.

Stranger Things, as you will no doubt read everywhere, is like a glorious combination of so many eighties film and television. I even saw it being described as “Dark Amblin” – Amblin being Steven Speilberg’s company, which is an accurate description in my opinion.

Much more than just an eighties homage

All of the reviews of Stranger Things always seem to focus on it’s proven abilities to pay homage to the eighties. To early Speilberg films; John Carpenter asthetics and soundtracks; Steven King themes. It does do this, and in spades, but Stranger Things is so much more than that.

The first thing I wanted to mention was the cast – the acting in this series is superb. The main protagonists, the four kids playing dungeons and dragons at the start, have a great rapour together. They have that kind of charisma that I remember from The Goonies, IT and Stand By Me.

Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy, had such a great range in her character. Starting with her almost-naive innocence through to her portrayal as a weapon-weilding bad-ass. For me she was one of the most diverse, stand-out performances of the series. Along with of course Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven. She played her character so well that she was even on par with the veteran actress of the show, Winona Ryder.

Mike and Elle from Stranger ThingsThe growing relationship between Mike and Eleven was really well done too. So much is built up between the two of them during those eight episodes, which I guess is down to great writing and great acting.

Even stranger things ahead?

At the time of writing it has been heavily suggested that a second, and possibly even more, series have been green-lit, which is awesome news. To be fair the ending was done well in that I feel it could be left there, in the same way that Twin Peaks “ended”. In some ways there are open threads, but the core of the story was told, and told really well.

Nevertheless going by how much I enjoyed Stranger Things series one, I am already eagerly awaiting the series two.

What did you think about Stranger Things?

Have you seen Stranger Things? I’d love to hear what you thought.

What are your theories on the next series?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Films & TV

Star Trek Beyond was pretty good

Today me and my good lady went to see the new Star Trek film, Star Trek: Beyond. I had no expectations for it – I was neither excited or anticipating it to be bad; I just went and watched a film at the cinema. And as it turned out I enjoyed it.

This film felt like it was intentionally going for a low-key feel. By that I don’t mean it was boring or poorly made – it just felt like they weren’t trying to make a huge blockbuster; just an enjoyable night out at the cinema. And that, it was.

I especially loved the little twist at the start with Kirk delivering an item to a vicious-looking alien race. I wont spoil it for you but it did make me chuckle.

So yer, the new Star Trek – pretty good. Take your loved ones for some unapologetic space-roaming fun.