Saturday, 9 August 2014

Film and TV watched so far this year, April-August, Part 1!

Since March, you’ll be amazed how much TV I’ve got through considering I only get 1 and a half days off a week and don’t spend all of them watching TV by any means (I read too, and occasionally even write!).  But here you go, the not making much sense selection-wise bunch of stuff – mostly TV – I’ve watched since March this year.


  1. Mists of Avalon
    (Not a patch on the Marion Zimmer Bradley book, but how could it be?  A rather confused narrative too.  This was THE book that turned me into a practicing pagan in my late teens – and yet the lines I remember from the film are Lancelot to Gwenivere about how wouldn’t it be such a comfort if we made our own heaven and hells [not a god, but ourselves]; and the death of Merlin [a rather subsidiary figure in the film], who on dying, says the Goddess exists in our humanity – nowhere else.  I read from this, along with the emphasis the film placed on ‘the father in heaven, and the mother of Earth’, and the getting on of the 2 religions, that…it was in fact a film calling for humanism, not religion at all.  At the end when Morgaine gets the remembered vision of the Goddess standing as balance between the predator and prey, or else chaos reigns, it seemed to me the film was trying to say that without woman to put a hold on man, man will kill everything [it was panning over the deaths in a great, the final even, battle, at the time].  Interesting.  And yet.  The film also had a very traveller-y thing going on – lots of tiny black patterned tattoos, traveller clothes and fabrics, tatty white rasta hair [no doubt the “offences against hairdressing that kept occurring” I read about in an Amazon review, lol]. Some nice mock Celtic soundtrack moments too.  But a very uninvolving film, where a lot of the people were miscast, I felt.)
  2.  Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
    (Better than the last few outings.  They managed to make it both slicker and more interesting.  Though of course, they have all lost their way chronically compared to the mastery that was the first one.)
  3.  Irresistable
    (Susan Sarandon does very well here.  Always great to see Sam Neill.  This was very good indeed.  Apart from slightly losing me at the end, the gaslighting effect in this one was excellent. Keeper.)
  4. Beastly
    (What a lovely little fairy tale re-do.  Mary Kate Olsen amazed me and convinced me; and Alex Pettyfer did downcast and feeling ugly very well – he also looked oddly more real with his nasty tat makeup on.)
  5. Reginald D. Hunter: In The Midst of Crackers
    (Liked it better than his other gig I saw.  But man oh man, does he have some bigarse problem with females. Of course, Fry – who I watched this with – disagreed totally and though he was right on the button and very funny about women; but I felt such contempt, in places, coming off him about women – wonder why?  Still, he’s a very funny comedian, and not the first to manage to be hilarious despite a clear attitude problem to women [Bill Hicks comes to mind too – have any of you ever seen the responding to heckling scene where he repeatedly – and what an overkill, made me squirm to watch it – takes apart the ‘drunk cunt’ who was daring to speak to him??  Look for it on YouTube…good thing I can realise that some people are weird about some things, and fine in all other ways…])
  6. Alpha Papa
    (Good.  I kept being a bit surprised it had enough in it to fill out a whole film. Some very funny bits – window smack on arse, funny gunholding running etc.)
  7. Pretty Little Liars Season 4
    (Hmm.  As insanely well plotted and watchable for the first half of the season, then slid weirdly offcourse with the Halloween episode and the departure of Caleb for no good reason [a spin off reason – poorly executed].  It then all just got very dark, and odd, and things didn’t make as much narrative and character sense.  Ezra’s face heel face turn was a weird weird thing; ruined his character.  Toby’s vanishment at the end [what was in that letter], and the redherring characters of the girls with the missing friend, the guidance counsellor and the substance abuse characters – there for no real reason…filler began to be obvious.  And then Alison being alive….not sure what I think of that.  And not sure where the entire season left Mona in terms of motivation.  And what in hell was that extremely unnecessary 40s episode about????  This may be coming to an end in terms of what it can do – its messing too much with the core characters and this sudden doing away with everyone’s partner, annoying….ALSO: was not the implication that the person who tried to kill Ali and that the mother would protect perfectly clear: JASON.  Derrrr….We’ll see where it goes next.  But the mood definitely changed in the second half of the season – it got darker and stupider; not atmospheric in the same way as before.  It’s taking a slide into melodrama as opposed to mystery.  It needs to be very careful or I’ll totally lose interest – Holly Marie Coombs notwithstanding, tsk tsk.)
  8. Inherit the Wind
    (AGAIN, first time in ages! Totally forgot what a *powerful* film it was. All the views of the participants so eloquently stated, their mindsets shown. Spencer Tracy was amazing; and Gene Kelly came a close second. Rarely seen both sides of an important disagreement put so clearly and well. And just as bleedin' relevant today as it ever was. The way all the differing viewpoints are explained, both clearly and emotionally - no one is condemned, and ultimately neither side 'wins', as some symbolism at the end showed. The science vs. religion thing was a very topical and handy hook to hang the film on, and in one sense, it seems to me to be exactly about that - but in a wider sense, its impression on me was of people's fear at other people's thoughts; people wanting everyone to think like them or they feel threatened; and the power of not thinking and being ruled by passionate emotion to create mobs. I felt really in dread during some of the scenes of religious fervour - it could just as easily be (and almost was) like the Nuremberg rallies...anything that feeds on powerful emotion and starts to bypass the thinking mind, purely to create a 'them' and 'us' mentality...I was chilled and scared. )
  9.  Twins of Evil
    (AGAIN, another one for the first time in ages!  Much much better than I remember.  I think I was confusing this film with Lust for a Vampire, or Vampire Lovers – whichever one had Yutte Stensgard in, dripping blood over her face and breasts.  This film had far more plot, was stunningly well shot – beautiful use of location and greenery, and had some lovely costumes and make up.  It was a joy to look at.  Whilst the characters were a little thin, as all classic era Hammers are, at the same time, they had more depth than usual.  I enjoyed it.  A very good romp.  And I really have lost count of how many classic era Hammer horrors have galloping horses at the beginning…)
  10. The Apparition
    (The thing about this one was that tomandandy’s soundtrack dominated the whole film – and fit in so well that I think it might be a bit disappointing to listen to alone.  It was perfect heavily saturated wash against the action.  It was also clearly well budgeted without being reliant on effects, and very nicely shot.  For all that, it was a thin film and bit disappointing.  The idea that human belief is what creates poltergeists – that is, you have to actually be believing and scared for one to come, was interesting.  The cod science with the amplifiers and the EEGs and the other machines was a bit inexplicable and stupid.  I could wish for more character depth or plot – not necessarily both, one or the other.  I enjoyed the film, but mostly because of the wondrous sounds and lush shots.  Not the actual subject – give me all 3 and it would have been a REALLY good film.  Interesting history the film had – smallest distribution from a major network ever in US film history; and delayed for a couple of years after making due to production company and distributor unfurling themselves from a contract – I think maybe these issues had something to do with the films oddly bitty despite deeply professional feel.  Something got lost in all the trouble.  Maybe the editor was messed about?)
  11.  Doctor Who, Series 3 (new poo Who)
    (Well…Some good ones and some bad ones. Good: 42, Human Nature, Family of blood, Blink [all in a clump for some reason].  Bad ones – pretty much all the rest of them – which walked a very uneasy line of child’s show with stupid jokes and laughable creatures, to adult show, complete with serious moral dilemmas, shouting and angst.  The good episodes were very nicely done, holding the 2 threads in tension well; the bad ones showed why the show needs to make up its mind what it is – classic Who didn’t have a problem being scary enough for grown ups but also mindful enough for children – and it did it without a lot of the sort of silliness you get in the modern series.  But then, classic Who, all different vibe altogether.)
  12.  Saw VI
    (With Fry.  I’ve been off the Saw franchise for ages, but this one wasn’t overly torture porny.  I mean – it was alarmingly gruesome, but not in a very annoying way.  A plot way.  The characters did actually develop, to a degree.  I was very put off by the main detective being very familiar to me from an episode of Charmed though – I kept expecting him to walk through walls as a ghost; which was how he was in Charmed.)
  13. The Exorcist
    (AGAIN!  With Fry, who had never seen it.  This wasn’t the Director’s cut or the extended cut, it was the bog standard theatrical release, and I think I have got used to the other two and like them better.  This one felt a bit short and unexplained.  How Regan ends up in hospital so soon, why she seems so ill so quickly without many of her symptoms having been presented to us previously.  It feels a bit rushed and a bit implausible for that.  I still found certain sequences very scary, but Fry, who has been brought up on all the ripoffs as well as the development of the possessed genre, wanted more talking demon, more mental games – and that would have been good.  We both enjoyed Karras more than anything, I think.  I noticed this time round watching how long the Arabic sequence at the start is; and how little the Mike Oldfield music is actually used.)
  14. Community Season 1
    (With Fry.  I only saw half of it with him, and whilst I don’t yet think it as magnificent as he does, I did still enjoy it and find it very quirky and sharp. Then I finished it and found it very happy making and feel good – which is a boon in any show; and means it has the potential to become the show I go to when I have 30 minutes and feel down.)
  15. Beyond the Door
    I found this on YouTube and vaguely remembered it, so watched it again.  Hailed a an Exorcist ripoff, it really wasn’t – it’s a grown woman who gets possessed and it’s to do with her baby and there’s very little possession action.  Giallo stalwart Gabriel Lavia is in it, and looking as doe eyed and sad as usual.  Juliet Mills is WONDERFUL as the possessed person, not so wonderful when she isn’t.  And the whole film was awful - not even saved by a brilliant creepy boy child [also in rough sequel, though much better, Beyond the Door 2, with much underrated Daria Nicolodi].  Sadly bad film…tsk.)
  16. Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka
    (Hmmm.  My ability to enjoy this – which started off high, as I was hooked from the start, despite usually disliking animation; was hindered by Fluffhead making me watch episode 1, then 2, then 3, but in combination about 5 times each before I got to move on to eps 4-6.  So I was starting to feel strained and irritated with the incessant repetition of the first 3, which obviously wasn’t their fault at all.  By the time I got to the end I was feeling a bit annoyed that the companion was too heavily involved in saving everything – I was detecting a Rose Tyler nuWho scenario; and then all the singing irritated me too.  I think if I had been allowed to just sit and watch it all the way through without interruption though, that I probably would have skated over those things that annoyed me.  It was just that the delay ensured the end could never be as good as the beginning.  I did like some of the dialogue very much though [“what are you?” “Mildly annoyed.”]  I enjoyed Richard E Grant’s portrayal very much and wished there could have been more of him.  Likewise Sophie Okenado.  Interesting, the unexplored backstory with the Master as a robot, too.)

And on to part 2…

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