Friday, June 19, 2015 

Europa hymn.




I'm not here next week. Enjoy yourselves in the meantime.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 

A genuine question.

Has any other group as objectively rancid as Florence and the Machine managed to gain both commercial success and a pass from the critics?  The two other bands that came instantly to mind, Mumford and Sons, and Coldplay, don't really count as both have received the odd critical mauling and are sniggered about, if not to the extent of the mocking they receive elsewhere.  Plus, to be fair, Coldplay's first two albums aren't that bad.  Closest in fact might be Adele, but then I seem to be in the minority in finding her oeuvre (Rolling in the Deep excepted) insufferable.  Any suggestions?

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Friday, June 12, 2015 

Black rose.

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Friday, June 05, 2015 

Controlled chaos.

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Friday, May 29, 2015 

Justice.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015 

Film review: V/H/S.

You know what I miss? Stupid, dumb, meat and potatoes slasher films.  There's a killer, he kills people, mostly idiotic, annoying teenagers who may or may not have been in some way responsible for why he is the way he is, he does it in inventive, amusing ways, with or without wisecracks, until there's only one left, often a young woman, who manages to outsmart him.  The door is left open for a sequel, it's all accomplished in 80-100 minutes, the colour theme of the film is vibrant rather than washed out brown/green, it's not lensed by a cinematographer with Saint Vitus' dance, and the editor refuses the temptation to make a bazillion cuts every nanosecond.

Is that too much to ask?  Is it really necessary for every other new "horror" film to be a part of the "found footage" genre, or to follow the lead set by the Paranormal Activity series of films, which seemingly exist only so as to make life even more miserable for the zero-hour, minimum wage slaves at the local World of Cine who have to pick up all the spilt popcorn between screenings?  How is it I cannot think of a single horror film released in the past 5 years other than American Mary that I would watch again?  I haven't seen It Follows, You're Next or As Above, So Below yet, all of which have had somewhat decent reviews, but I'm really not getting my hopes up for any of them.

And so we come to V/H/S.  Not only is it a found footage horror film, it's a portmanteau/anthology found footage horror film!  That means there's not just 120 minutes of shaky, wibbly, constantly breaking up and decayed video to enjoy, but it's broken up into segments, sort of but not really tied together by the conceit of a gang of idiots breaking into a house to steal a tape, only they don't know what it is or what's on it.

Except the film doesn't so much as bother to follow that conceit, as on a couple of occasions the next segment just begins without one of our intrepid heroes pressing play.  Still, we're not really here for the plot, we're here for the spookums aren't we, so what does it matter?

The film then opens with a sexual assault.  Yep.  Turns out our narrators, or at least guides have been making $50 a pop by grabbing women on the street and exposing their breasts, all the while filming their attacks.  These are then posted online.  They do this, needless to say, in broad daylight, without covering their faces.  Only one of the group has found out they can make a whole heap more dough by just breaking into this one house and stealing a tape.  They don't ask for any more details, they'll just know when they've found it.

There is, of course, a dead guy in the house, in front of the obligatory stack of TVs and video machines.  Which tape is it?  Why do they not just gather up all the tapes and leave to review them elsewhere, as indeed one of the group suggests at one point, only to decide it's a fanciful idea?  Why are they filming everything they're doing?  Why I have not already switched this rubbish off?

The leery, nasty tone set from the off continues in our first segment, Amateur Night, directed by David Bruckner.  Our new group of 3 bros have only scored a pair of those spy glasses off the interwebs, the sort "used" by reality porn producers to film them picking up a random woman off the street and then having a rather jolly time together!  Guess what they're going to do with the glasses?  Do you think things won't go according to plan?  Do you think that despite the implication being this is meant to suggest objectifying women isn't a good thing it won't in fact do anything of the kind?  Do you think the pay off despite everything being wrong will be worth it, rather than a mess of CGI and shaky cam?  Does the director think everyone in the audience won't be asking themselves WHY HASN'T HE TAKEN THE GODDAMN GLASSES OFF?

Next up is director Ti West, known for 2009's House of the Devil, with "Second Honeymoon".  His segment ends with one of the goons asking, "what the fuck was that?".  My sentiments exactly.  The one thing that can be said in its favour is that if you were to find a tape with a real murder filmed on it, it would probably make as little sense as his section does.  Couple on a road trip, film themselves as they go along, only there's someone letting themselves into their hotel room who picks the camera up and records them as they sleep, only THEY USE A LIGHT AND YET IT SOMEHOW DOESN'T WAKE THE COUPLE UP.  Nor does the couple notice anything amiss, apart from some money having gone missing.  It's dreadful.

We then have Glenn McQuaid's "Tuesday the 17th", which as you would expect from the title is sort of playing with genre conventions except not really.  Best of the bunch which is saying very little is Joe Swanberg's The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, which consists of Skype chats between a couple living apart, with the Emily of the title convinced her apartment is haunted.  It is, and yet it isn't.  In fact it's something far worse.  It's not in the slightest bit scary, but it does switch things up after what's gone before, although again there's some unnecessary leeriness.  Last is "10/31/98", and we are back once again into everything that is wrong with the found footage genre.  Our gang of slightly older bros don't think to call the police and instead steam in to save the victim of some crazies at a house where they thought there was a Halloween party, with the expected consequences.

The problem with "found footage" is it asks you to suspend your disbelief twice over.  While you can accept the horror genre's tropes of the victims of the masked assailant being stupid and either unable/unwilling to call for help, to do so when you're also being asked to believe that what you're viewing is a document of something that happened is a step too far.  It can work only in certain specific circumstances, whether it be in the woods like Blair Witch Project, away from a phone signal, or in the depths of the rainforest as in Cannibal Holocaust.  That the high point of the genre is still the one that started it all rather suggests it's not going to be improved upon.  Please filmmakers, for the sake of our sanity, give it a rest. 

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Friday, May 01, 2015 

Altercations.

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Friday, April 24, 2015 

Dead air.

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Friday, April 17, 2015 

Arcadia.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 

All the rage back home.

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Friday, April 03, 2015 

Piss crowns are trebled.

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Friday, March 27, 2015 

False hope.

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Friday, March 20, 2015 

From early.

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Friday, March 13, 2015 

My lion.

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Friday, March 06, 2015 

Deep, dark, deadly.

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Friday, February 27, 2015 

They rave us.

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Friday, February 20, 2015 

A new wave.

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Friday, February 13, 2015 

Head for home.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015 

One solution to Scudamore: piracy.

The Premier League could not have a better representative than Richard Scudamore.  He is the embodiment of absolutely everything that has gone wrong with football at the highest level over the past 20 years, or rather everything the not always right critics who often don't so much as like the game point towards.  Do you for instance believe the Premier League should not exist in a vacuum, that it ought to "redistribute" some of the money it receives from the broadcasters from your bank account down to the lower leagues, to sport at the grassroots, that clubs should be at the heart of their community, rather than in the hearts of the community?

You do?  Well, in Scudamore you have a man who believes in one thing and one thing only, which is getting as much dosh as he can from the likes of BT and Sky for the 20 clubs that make up the league, and then letting them do whatever they like with that money.  It's not for him to say clubs should pay their staff the living wage for example, that's up to the government.  Does he think it's completely obscene for a club to pay a congenital idiot like Wayne Rooney £300,000 a week for his on-off ability to kick a bag of wind around an enclosed grass field while the poor bastards who stand in the cold selling match programmes at £5 or however much a pop get only slightly more that that for an hour's work?  Don't be silly, as just as in "any talent industry" the world market sets the rate, whereas cleaners, training staff and kit men are ten a penny, almost literally.  If the government suggested introducing a maximum wage the screams would be banshee-like, but a minimum wage set barely above the poverty line is clearly there to be respected, not as precisely that, a minimum.

Scudamore is just a figurehead.  He can't tell clubs it looks really bad if they don't pay their staff the living wage despite the new £5.14bn television deal (fun fact: that's more than the BBC's total income for 2013-14, £3.72bn of which is from the licence fee), as the clubs themselves answer to no one.  Only when the fans make it abundantly clear they want an owner to go, as Liverpool did the non-dynamic duo of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, is anything close to accountability encountered.  Scudamore was also right to point out that despite the complete insanity of the latest deal, most Premier League clubs are not "staggeringly wealthy": only 8 out of the 20 clubs made a profit in 2012-2013, including Wigan and Norwich, both since relegated.  It's no coincidence the current top 2, Chelsea and Manchester City, have owners where money is no object, considering in both cases said money was looted from the people of Russia and the UAE respectively.  At the moment it's just the players, their agents and the broadcasters making anything out of the game, as the owners themselves hardly ever do.

Except this might just be the deal to change that.  Recently introduced rules on financial fair play from both the Premier League and UEFA should, in theory, mean an end to the apparently endless increases in wages and transfer fees.  We've already seen this somewhat with Chelsea needing to sell Andre Schurrle before they could bring in Juan Cuadrado.  How the clubs spend their further largesse is of course up to them, and some of the mid-table clubs may well use it fund splurges of their own.  Other proprietors however will undoubtedly pocket it, seeing it as being reward for having sunk their own money in down the years while taking little if anything out.  As the difference between profit and loss outside of the mega-spending clubs is often relatively slight, West Ham for instance losing £4m before tax in 2012-2013, this latest increase will help them considerably.

When you then add in the recent increase in "parachute" payments to relegated sides, the gap between the Premier League and the lower divisions is getting to be a chasm.  It's always been a major challenge to win promotion and then stay in the top division, but with £99m as a minimum guaranteed to the club finishing bottom, the teams yo-yoing between Premier League and Championship look set to become a secondary elite.  The story of this season has almost certainly been the rise of Bournemouth, looking to repeat the unlikely promotion of Blackpool a few years back.  They won't though want to repeat Blackpool's subsequent fall, or a couple of seasons from now to be propping up the table as the Lancashire side are, while the QPRs of the world continue to alternate between being there or thereabouts season in season out.

For all the complaints and whinging today, as well as the cynicism over the likelihood of ticket prices dropping as a result of the influx of cash from television, hardly anyone is going to cancel their TV package or not renew their season ticket.  Loyalty to your team trumps everything, and demand for more live games just continues to increase.  Purists like me will snort and harrumph at the introduction of games on a Friday night, further reducing the number that will kick off at 3 on a Saturday afternoon, but we're just stick in the muds.  Besides, I'd rather transfer my allegiance to Spurs than give Murdoch any money, and the same goes for BT, so I'm hardly your average punter.

If there is something that might just bring change, it's the same thing as mentioned when BT won the Champions League rights: illegal streaming of games is only going to increase and will fast become a viable alternative to a TV package, if it's not quite there yet.  Moreover, such piracy is frankly less morally questionable than handing over your cash to such lovely people as Scudamore, Sheikh Mansour and the Glazers.  Somehow though you can't see it having the same impact as it has on the film and music industries, and just as the real victims there have been the little guys rather than the behemoths, so too it will be your Swanseas and Burnleys that suffer rather than United and City.  Sigh.

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Friday, February 06, 2015 

Recall.

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