Month: December 2013

2013 in review


Another year done.

2013 has been a year of highs and lows personally, but it ends on a definite high. In terms of this blog, I’m happy with where it has arrived. The unhinged rants are balanced with a wide range of reviews.

So what has been the best of the year’s crop?

Read on…

The Tractate Middoth – A Review

the tractate middoth

I like ghost stories. I like them at Christmas. It’s why I watch A Christmas Carol most years (albeit the Muppets version).

Occasionally, the BBC thoroughly earns its licence fee for the year (look away now Rob Wilson MP), by doing a terrific ghost story adaptation. Given that M.R. James is one of finest masters of the form, he’s usually a safe bet for source material.

Within my admittedly short and ragged memory, the 2010 adaptation of Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad featuring John Hurt was excellent. And the 2009 we were treated to a fine adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw featuring the admittedly bland and characterless Michelle Dockery.

This year it’s the turn of The Tractate Middoth, which is a story I have never even heard of, let alone read.

Read on…

The 5 films which (most) ruined found-footage horror

the devil inside

Found-footage is a much loved and much used technique in horror cinema. Done right, it can be hugely immersive and really add atmosphere to a story. In the same way as video games, it puts the viewer in the story.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always done right.

The recent ubiquity of the format has led to a bit of “found-footage fatigue“. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the technique, but some filmmakers have hit upon it as a rubber stamp for a good film, or — worse — a cheap-and-cheerful get-rich-quick scheme.

So here is my rundown of five of the worst, which have played a larger part than most in the wrecking of the genre.

Read on…

The Time of the Doctor – A Review [SPOILERS]

the time of the doctor

And we’re done. The act has closed, the curtain fallen, Matt Smith has left the building.

I was never the most vocal of his converts, for me David Tenant’s performance in the role is still the modern rendition to aspire to. But Smith has played a good innings, and made the role his own. His rubber-limbed, Easter Island statue-faced antics have been amusing and moving in equal measure.

But what of the episode itself?

Read on…

A Coalition of Fools

jamies moyies

An article appeared in the Southend Echo recently, mooting an alliance between the Independent Group on Southend Borough Council, and UKIP, following the elections in May next year.

It’s an interesting idea. They both contain references to independence in their names. They both claim to operate without a party whip. They are both dangerously unpredictable, with principles malleable in the extreme.

The idea of Martin Terry’s band of self-aggrandising publicity machines teaming up with UKIP — somewhere to the right of Margaret Thatcher — to run Southend should terrify all rational thinking residents of the town.

It’s a good job that it stands very little chance of happening.

Read on…

Star Trek films, from worst to best

star trek first contact

Yes, it’s another Star Trek blog! And another list blog! And just in time for Christmas; aren’t you a lucky bunch?

I know that I’ve done something quite similar before, but I’ve never actually set down my overall preferences of the films directly. So I’ve decided to. With some thought I’ve ranked all twelve films, and given a bit of explanation as to why and what I think of them.

Enjoy. And feel free to call me sad.

Read on…

Independent of Common Sense

southend civic centre

I can understand why people are drawn to vote for independent candidates.

That might seem surprising, coming from someone with a deep and long-standing loyalty to the Labour Party, but then I do always try to put myself in the shoes and minds of others. And as I say, I can see why the Independent candidate can seem attractive.

Superficially, at least.

Read on…

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – A Review

the hobit the desolation of smaug

Christmas is no more! The period formerly known as Christmastime has now been annexed by the potent combination of Peter Jackson and J.R.R. Tolkein. No more will we eat Christmas puddings, sing carols, and watch the Queen’s speech (shush). Instead we will have second breakfast (and elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper…), sing about dungeons deep and caverns old, and watch reruns of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.

Or not. But we do have another Hobbit film to enjoy.

The decision to chop a fairly small children’s book up into a hefty three-part epic, but the An Unexpected Journey was quite good. Leaving aside the complaints about length (It’s a Peter Jackson film under three hours! It’s practically a short!), it was entertaining and a lot of fun.

But that was a year ago. Things are much more serious now, and I must gird my loins and turn my reviewer’s eyes on the second Hobbit film: The Revenge of the Cumber-dragon The Desolation of Smaug.

Read on…