February 8, 2018

This year I’m trying to keep a diary of what I watch and read. In January I…


I started the year with a couple of rewatches, Life of Pi (I think the beauty is best appreciated on the big screen but I enjoyed it again on the small) and La La Land (still delightful).

Next up was Silence. It was beautifully shot, overlong, pretty harrowing, and an interesting exploration of the (depending on your viewpoint) nature, cost, or futility of faith. Adam Driver looks like he walked out of an El Greco painting, he was perfect.

As part of an effort to watch some classics, Casablanca and Rio Bravo both hit my screen this month. With Casablanca especially, it was interesting how much I could know about a film and still not really know what the film was about. I could name the characters, the locations, quote the lines, but I couldn’t have told you a jot about the plot. It was great, and reminded me how much I love Peter Lorre, even though his appearance was brief.

Free Fire was better than I thought it would be (and the facial hair lived up to expectations). The Lego Batman Movie was… something I’ll keep for when my nephews visit. And The Big Sick was lovely and funny, more Holly Hunter please.

Rounding out the month, I watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and I Am Not Your Negro. I think if you don’t know that there’s something fundamentally wrong with racial equality in America (and elsewhere) then I don’t know how to help you. I Am Not Your Negro is often sad, at times brutal, and throughout a necessary reminder that something needs to be fixed.

Three Billboards is also sad, and brutal, and at times hilarious. Frances McDormand is phenomenal, Sam Rockwell too. I think those complaining about Dixon’s ‘redemptive arc’ saw something I didn’t, the sad truth is that monsters in the real world are human. A horrible person can try to do something good, a virtuous person can do something bad, real people don’t have alignments, it’s not that simple.


The Comixology bug is still strong, but I’m trying to make a concerted effort to read more books this year. That said, I read the first two Atomic Robo collections, these were fun, reminded me of the early BPRD collections. The Sheriff of Babylon Vol 1 didn’t grab me at first but got interesting, I don’t think it’s hooked me enough to keep going. If I spot future collections on offer I might pick them up. I found Captain Marvel Vol 1 so-so, I picked it up what with the movie adaptation in the pipeline but my knowledge of the Marvel Cosmic and recent events wasn’t up to snuff. Cap is a badass for sure, but I felt like I was on the back foot with the story.

The comic highlight for me this month was Invincible, Vol 2. I enjoyed the first volume just fine, but then something happened in this volume that made me double take and flick back to make sure I hadn’t missed something (a bit like the time I read the Red Wedding chapter in A Storm of Swords).

On Kindle I read a couple of historical non-fiction books: The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval Europe and Longitude. The Time Traveller’s guide was a bit of a slog, it was clearly well researched and referenced but severely lacking in character. Longitude was much more enjoyable; genuinely dramatic, peppered with historical figures and notable events. There’s a pullquote from a review along the lines of, “makes horology sexy,” which feels a little trite, but this was a genuinely world-changing development.

In fiction I read The Big Sleep, in a similar vein to Rio Bravo and Casablanca I feel I know all the tropes of hard-boiled fiction, but I’ve never read any Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. Man, this was cool. To begin with I was definitely reading it in my head with the movie voiceover I mostly know from parodies but yeah, I ate this up. I picked it up as a trio on Kindle so I have Farewell My Lovely and The Long Goodbye to look forward to.

And on paper I read One Thousand Monsters, the latest in Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula series. If you’ve tried one of the earlier ones and it didn’t grab you, then this probably isn’t for you either, but they are very much for me, and shifting the setting to Japan only appeals to me more. Yokai as vampire strains is a great way to bring them into Newman’s world, and they are just as weird as yokai scrolls would indicate. The lads from Silence make an appearance of sorts, Popejoy is a wonderful insert. If you enjoyed the others in the series, or are a superfan of Japanese myth and cinema, then this is for you.

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

May 4, 2017

I only read the first book (I think the second is on my shelf), this is a lot more Last Action Hero than I was expecting, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Matt Colville sums up my feelings pretty well:


May 2, 2017

I saw Vol 2 last night and was not disappointed. Once again, Drax steals the show (I think my favourite line of his is still from Vol 1, “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.” But there are still many many actualols.)

It’s nice that Yondu gets a decent arc, and I wasn’t sure what Nebula would be up to but glad she was there too. The Stan Lee cameo might be my favourite one yet.

As with many comic book movies the finale becomes a bit of a CGI slugfest* but it’s still fun, funny, and dramatic enough to hold your attention.

A good measure of a comic book film is whether or not Sarah genuinely enjoys it or whether she’s humouring me. The first Guardians is the only one we saw together twice in the cinema, and I think we’d both see this again. Also the soundtrack is, predictably, great. I think the only thing I was disappointed by was the lack of a Ragnarok trailer before the movie.

Stray things that made me smile (spoilers I guess):

  • Uatu!
  • Howard the Duck!
  • Zardu Hasslefrau
  • Yondu’s face during the 700 bounces
  • Drax’s turd brag
  • “You look like Mary Poppins!” “Was he cool?” … “Yeah he was cool”
  • Adam Warlock (almost!)
  • “The skin is the same level of thickness from the inside as from the outside!”
  • Jeff Goldblum’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it credits Grandmaster cameo
  • Teen Groot!

* I actually thought the first film handled this pretty well, I don’t mind a big space battle and the actual final ‘fight’ with Ronan managed to largely avoid this


April 11, 2017

I enjoyed the first two Thor films. Admittedly on second viewings they weren’t quite as great as I remembered them but still watchable. I enjoyed seeing Asgard, Vanaheim, the Aesir and Vanir up on the big screen but the plots were never quite the Shakespearean tragedies they were perhaps meant to be.

Ragnarok is looking like an altogether different prospect.

I’ve been tentatively excited about this since Taika Waititi was announced as director. My excitement is no longer tentative. His work is funny, charming, well observed, and not afraid to be strange and this trailer is hitting all the right notes.

I want nothing more than to see Thor exploring strange parts of a weird universe populated by the cast of a Star Wars/Flash Gordon mash-up universe cracking jokes while Led Zeppelin blares out.

November feels a long way off (even with the plethora of superhero films coming out between now and then). To fill the gap you should (whether you’ve seen them already or not) watch What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Or for something a little more informative (though likely completely unrelated to the plot of the next Thor film) you could learn a little more about Ragnarok from everyone’s favourite Cowboy Viking.


November 24, 2016

And another trailer why not (certainly better than thinking too much about the real world).


November 24, 2016

I was already excited about this but now I’ve seen the trailer I just can’t get over how perfect Adam Driver looks as a Jesuit. It’s like he’s walked out of a painting.