Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fast, Furious and Fascinating.

The initial hype and excitement has receded and the queues at the multiplex are already moving onto the next blockbuster when I finally allow myself to be dragged along to the latest Fast and Furious film.

And to be honest, the franchise genuinely fascinates me. Particularly the fact that with this many sequels to its name it still guarantees itself a top billing due not just to petrol heads and actions fans, somehow morphing itself into a cinematic event with a global audience that is gripped by the further exploits of these former street-racers whose ongoing antics have taken them further than the initial concept should feasibly allow.

Boiled down to the basics these movies were essentially a testosterone fuelled mix of fast cars, the casting of scantily clad extras to gyrate, jiggle and share the screen when the aforementioned cars were stationary, and some action packed set-pieces to quicken the pulse. This formula was then taken and multiplied, with the inclusion of a ever-growing rotating cast of characters until it flipped the script on a possible future of sketchy sequels with diminishing returns and marked itself as a legitimately bankable franchise with the reemergence of Vin Diesel for the fourth instalment.

It has hardly hit pause since, with the rotating cast being brought together as 'family' for heists and adding additional big-hitting action stars to the mix to create a boiling pot of machismo that trumps the premise of The Expendables fused with the crime-caper team-up of Oceans 11 and it's own sequels. The Rock, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell... I can hardly wait to see who they draft in next time.

I'll admit that my own interest wobbled slightly when scriptwriters have pushed more story rather than just fast-thrills and maybe the London based adventure felt too close to home for me to sufficiently suspend my disbelief, but thankfully Furious 7 remedied this by being so unbelievable that turning off and tuning in was the only option.

The whole thing, from start to finish, was bat-shit crazy. Almost every logical next step in the story was sideswiped in favour of more jaw-dropping preposterousness, fights and fast cars and military operations and so forth, all turbo-charged with barely a toe dipped in reality, it became hilarious in its audacity, but by consistently topping itself in each new scene it had me enthralled.

 

Forget street-racers, criminals and FBI agents, everyone involved in these films have now been granted superpowers and clobber each other in ways that even the Marvel Cinematic Universe would shy away from, the plot structure played just like a 16-bit video game with baddies periodically turning up at the end of level to take a beating and then disappear until the next stage, and the plot holes are more like gaping wormholes, but it doesn't matter, because it's fun. Seriously, I have seen criticism and vitriol poured on superhero movies for inconsistencies and unbelievable circumstances.... think about that for a moment, movies... about superheroes... that do not exist!! But Furious 7 leaps these minor details with a steroid injected stride that carries it to some higher level of action film.

But with the inevitability of another sequel looming large I just don't know where the franchise could go next while it travels on this kind of trajectory.

Or perhaps I do... With the rumour of Jump Street crossing over with Men In Black for an upcoming sequel it seems that this franchise-hopping may be the obvious escalation needed to keep the Furious films from slowing their pace. It is a well used concept in comics and has been seen in video games, but only on rare occasions have these pop-culture mash-ups made it to the big screen, but I'm going to be disappointed if the next chapter in the story does not feature a climactic battle with Dominic Toretto at the wheel of Optimus Prime or Bumblebee. Perhaps a computer hacking angle could be replayed to counter Cyberdine Systems and the apocalyptic rise of Skynet. And the crowning glory of the movie will be Robocop joining the fray as a shining beacon of hope as he rides in to save the day on a majestic mech-unicorn that has been custom fitted with NOS.

 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Having a laugh? Jared Leto's Joker.

As is inevitable in this ever connected society, people giddily sharing, shouting about or snidely remarking on certain 'geekier' developments in the world make it difficult to keep myself from seeing the things that I may not want to see.

Case in point: Suicide Squad.

I relented to my own curiosity and peeked at the first cast photo, just to acquaint myself with the talent on display, I briefly glimpsed the initial morsel of Jared Leto that now seems a red herring with fanboys and theorists clamouring to point out the allusions to The Killing Joke.

But before I even knew I'd have to start avoiding the first full image of Leto's Joker it had been splashed across facebook.

And I don't like it.

I'm not a fool. I'm not gonna simply shoot my mouth off and say it's wrong and gonna be terrible. Geeks have been burned before by exuberant expectation and unfounded ire. We've still got a massive promotional trail to get through, heck, they've gotta start shooting the bloody thing!! And all we have to go on is one out of context image that didn't even hint at any kind of mystery or subtlety.

But I still don't like it. I would at least walk you through what I think are my rational decisions.

Obviously previous big-screen incarnations of The Joker have been about re-envisioning or reinventing something that has already been firm in our memories, from ’66 to ’89 and again in 2008, each new portrayal had to break the mould of the previous and this new version is no exception, so allow me to scrutinise a little further...

The deathly pale, skinny, manic look of a deranged crack addict... I can live with this.

Bright green hair, a single purple glove and either some pimped out teeth or a hygiene problem (possibly even both?)... This could all work, I'll let it slide.

But the one thing that bothers me the most is those tattoos...

 

The grin synonymous with The Joker tattooed down his right forearm, a skull in a jesters hat and repeated Ha Ha Ha over the chest and arm, again it is proved that subtlety definitely was not a consideration for this project. And this is without even mentioning the dubious facial tattoos and other ink that is just about visible without being fully revealed.

Now we could discuss versions of the Joker all day, but in my mind I have never taken his chaotic tendencies to be easily placated long enough to endure multiple tattoo sessions.

This is clearly only casting aspersions but the overall tone seems to paint our new Mr J as a ruthless street thug. To me he looks more like a real-life obsessive Joker fanboy.

And with my imagination running on overdrive here is where I start to piece together my own wish-list of boxes this new DC cinematic universe needs to tick.

What if this isn't the Joker? What if this actually is an obsessive fanboy, a street thug, possibly the chief of operations that is at pains to prove himself to his boss... The real Joker.

Following Heath Ledger's near legendary portrayal I was holding out for a more laconic and brooding spin on the character, a darker and much scarier villain that is less likely to be seen cracking a smile. And with so many indicators pointing towards Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns as a major inspiration in these next formative stages, the Leto Joker image that we've so far seen feels like a rather ill fit.

Having said all that I have been thoroughly enjoying the way that TV's Gotham has been playing hard and loose with established mythology to create its own world that borrows liberally from what we know and refines it in its own image to defy expectations, and all this fuss created is still based on just one image and not a lot else, I'm curious to see where this will all eventually lead and I'll do my best to keep an open mind until we get there.

 

 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

the return of.

Something like sunshine was seeking to stream through the slithers left undefended by the black out blind in the spare room as I awoke from slumber in the spare room, driven to the second-hand ikea sofa-bed again by my fiancé's nocturnal wheezings and mumblings as a cold got the better of her and my desire to sleep undisturbed had got the better of me.

Yesterday was something special.  It really was going to take something to top that.



Oh, how about some international airplay?

The second-hand ikea sofa-bed was unwilling to relinquish me just yet, so I instead reach for my ageing gizmo and fire up the emails... A missive from half the world away causes seismic smiles to ripple through my body and across my face.  Those guys that had been good enough to seemingly pick my remix of The Enemy from thin air a number of years ago had pulled it out of the bag yet again.

Fraserhead and The Herbalist, fantastically named audio adventurers and known Anglo-philes had responded to a fleeting email I had dropped their way (their way being over 11 thousand miles away in Queensland, New Zealand) and said yes.

Yes. They would play my latest track. My miserable slice of realism. My dark downturned beat and it's message of ever promising negativity. In the land of sunshine and mystical sea monsters.

In some strange parallel universe that exists at least one sunrise away is a sunny Saturday afternoon that is soundtracked by 80s legend John Carpenter, pioneering proto-dubstepper Burial and myself, with my near-undanceable budget-tronica...

Stranger things have happened, but they don't always happen to me.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

reviewed.

and so.  Just like the hunter becomes the hunted, the reviewer has become the reviewed.

Safely on silent in my pocket, my sinister phone was making noise on a friday afternoon.  Even with the quivering capabilities of a stone, it sent good vibrations into the world, alert after alert, favourite after favourite, retweet after retweet.

I reflected upon this briefly,  Shot Of Hornets: nice review, cheers!

strange, I don't remember reviewing those guys...

with meagre downtime I backtracked to that original tweet

January reviews.  featuring Me.

on Misfit City?  I was confused and concerned, I'd not written for this blog?  Had they half-inched a recent review and reproduced it without permission?

Far from it.

Sat at the peak of the page was an earth-shatteringly glorious justification of why I create art.  Digitally documenting my place in the world in words that astounded me.  Such kind and uplifting words.

'anxious water-tank electronica'

'perpetually uncomfortable budget-tronica'

'near-undanceable'

I feel I shall be using these as straplines for my music for a long time to come... superseding Akira The Don's beautifyingly bestowed 'Super-Ugly Beat-Stuffs' as my go-to quote of choice....  

Yet could this also be a career peaking?!  I brace myself for the Hunchbakk-lash to begin.




Sunday, 18 January 2015

hesitation.



Hesitation.

It haunts me.

Hangs in the air beside me, an apparition that seldom leaves me.

Holds me, holds me back.

I hesitate.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

honestly.

Last night I couldn't sleep.

I sat up til about midnight listening to Malcolm Middleton, and then reading Batman Incorporated and then just before turning in for the night I decided I'd treat myself to some art that had caught my eye that then wouldn't allow me to choose to ship it to the UK from America.

This made me a little sad.

I clicked around the artist's website for a little while, and then clicked on to his blog.

Which is probably why I couldn't sleep.

I felt alive just sat around spending an hour or so just doing something I enjoyed doing, and then I felt inspired by the honest words of one man.

I lay in bed, just thinking.  I wasn't tired.

I lay for quite a while, never quite losing myself to sleep.


Life seemed too rich to waste it just drifting away into the ether before another daily grind begins.

So I did something I'd thought about for a long time.  It had been an idea that had bubbled around, resurfacing on occasions, yet I'd never fully committed myself to it.  I'd grasp at fizzing thoughts but let them pass me by once again, but not this night.

I sat up and I wrote my honest CV.  Not the CV that has been tailored to fit that role you have seen advertised and will tailor again for the next role.  Not the CV that condenses and crams all that stuff you've done into a handful of measly bullet points.  No, it's nothing like those CVs that everyone tells you to write because they are what everyone is looking for.  In fact it is barely a CV at all.

There aren't any jobs I'm looking for right now.  But life can change, and it probably should change, we all know that... Why am I not being myself when I am 'selling' myself.  Why am I not looking for something out there that makes me even more of the me that I really want to be.

Who knows where it'll go.  Hopefully somewhere.  And who knows what I'd honestly want to say about myself in a months time, or maybe even just a week or two.

But at somewhere around 2 o’clock in the morning I felt content that those 2 sides of A4 say more about me than any CV ever has before.

Thursday, 8 January 2015