Sunday, 12 June 2016


It's time for a mid year review of what I've seen at the cinema so far in 2016. I have been able to attend once a week which has meant some good some bad and some indifferent.

The Revenant- A journey for the protagonists and the viewer, impressive stuff
Spotlight-The Year's best film?: can't say I agree but this investigative journalist movie is well crafted
Green Room- Slick and efficient. A concept well delivered
The Lobster-Lynchian to say the least, this is one movie that I would recommend to anyone who likes leaving the Cinema with more questions than answers
Room- Great performances from the small cast, Room is a movie that revels in the quiet moments
Louder Than Bombs-Enjoyable family drama that gets under the skin of family politics
Creed- does exactly what it says on the tin

Captain America : Civil War-Lean and efficient with a healthy dose of action and just plain entertainment.
X-Men : Apocalypse-Flabby and full of exposition: far too long
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice-Affleck's Batman is good (and unfairly criticised) as is Gadot's Wonder Woman, however Cavill has as much screen presence as an Ikea sofa.
Deadpool- Fourth wall fun

Triple 9-Almost could have been a contender, but this heist movie has it's moments
Midnight Special-I expected more but this slow burn movie has plenty of good things about it
Money Monster- Chanelling Dog Day Afternoon, Jodie Foster directs with some nice twists but you sense there was a more complex movie somewhere
Eye In The Sky- War as video game but with moral decisions to be made
High Rise- Ben Wheatley has established himself as a great film maker but this time around there are too many missteps
The Nice Guys- Old School Buddy movie high jinx reminiscent of The Last Boy Scout

Hail, Caesar!- Didn't work for me. The Coen's failed to nail the screwball homage this time
Grimsby- Awful: a Holiday On The Buses for 2016.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Alien, Aliens, Alien3, Alien Resurrection: four films four talented directors and one particular species of Xenomorph.
Those eggs laid on LV-426 have got a lot to answer for. But there's one character holding it together Ellen Ripley superbly portrayed by Sigourney Weaver despite the variances in quality. 

Alien is the superb father of the franchise and had instant classic status the moment after I first saw it at the Odeon Marble Arch in 1979. It's intricacies and suspense cross genres and the shock that the movie instilled in audiences was and is unforgettable.

Aliens was the offspring that approached the subject for a different angle and manages to be a triumphant war movie to sit alongside it's claustrophobic parent.

When watching Alien3 it seems clear that there was a great degree of muddled thinking and interference. Fincher's vision by all accounts  seemed clear but comes across muddled. Hiding in this movie is a far superior product: a case of what might have been

Alien Resurrection has its moments but the final reveal of the hybrid alien ruins any of the previous good work: a flawed but valiant attempt at injecting something new.

So we await Neill Blomkamp's addition to the cannon and, based on his films to date, I have high expectations: that and the fact that he is purportedly picking things up from the end of Aliens. We shall say, and hopefully I will still be loving the Alien after seeing it.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 and all that

That was the year that was, or as I call it: the 'year of living dangerously' by which I mean a year of enjoyment, travel, and a smidgen of over indulgence.

Let's see...what happened? Marriage, trips to France, Greece and  Spain and a few British jaunts in between, but this blog is supposed to be about popular culture so lets get down to that.

A fantastic Edinburgh festival. this was my second visit and now having a good knowledge of how to navigate both the streets and the venues it allowed for a jam packed visit with highlights being Stewart Lee and The Ruby Darlings. another highlight of the festival is the Mosque Kitchen, this rustic canteen style eatery is a wonderful place to refuel between shows. The food is delicious and it's as cheap as Chips.

Liverpool to see Arthur Miller's The Hook starring a hugely underrated Jamie Sives (an actor who, aside from being a mate of mine is also brimming with talent), followed by drinks in the Dockers bar a symbiotic alliance of place and theme. 

Somerset to visit a newly relocated family and relax awhile which is very easy in that company and a visit to Dismaland: which was undoubtedly a triumph. This piece of living art had to be experienced to be believed and boy am I glad I did.

Closer to home, Leftfield at the Forum Kentish Town: something of a homecoming for the act. A splendid night with what can only be described as a warm and friendly audience followed by Leftfield at The Roundhouse: a stupendous sonic experience which certainly benefited from the immaculate sound system. My old friend Neil created a concert going experience that is right up there with the very best.

Also close to home The Ham Yard Hotel: if there is a better Hotel in the heart of the West End I'll eat my hat. A marvellous wedding night and following day was spent there in April and a return visit was soon forthcoming to see a mixed showcase of Pre-Edinburgh comedy. The act that stole the show being Marcus Brigstock: funny and insightful.

Closer still, Escape From New York at the Unity Chapel with live music from John Carpenter's collaborator on soundtracks. The audience were dressed for the occasion and I have to say that this wonderful venue was a great place to see this cult masterpiece.

I think I may have been to the cinema close to 40 times this year and I have to say that it hasn't been the greatest year for cinema, Mind you I only walked out of one movie: Inherent Vice (even though I'm a fan of Mr Anderson) I also found Foxcatcher underwhelming. Amy, Whiplash and The Lobster were stand outs for me this year while Selma, Love & Mercy and Sicario where hugely enjoyable...hold on though: i walked out of two films! The Man From UNCLE being the other one. To clarify, the first walkout was due to not being n the zone the second was due to the general woodeness of acting and clunkiness of plot. Mainstream fun was had courtesy of Spectre, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road.

TV was good. Orange Is The New Black, Peaky Blinders, Luther, The Fall and Veep provided some real high points and BBC's The Game was the real quality Spy drama this year not London Spy (which certainly had its moments). The Good Wife was a great 'B' drama as was River and it was farewell to Mad Men, Nurse Jackie and Peep Show.

Of course my real highlight was getting married to the long suffering Mrs Wellyousaythat and this year of living dangerously will give way to a more laid back year. a year of living sensibly; which is not to say that it won't include experiences like those of 2015, in fact January 1st sees us visiting The Ham Yard followed by a night of wonder with Derren Brown. Living sensibly? yes of course but what's life without a hint of danger?