Film and Television

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Seasons 1 - 3

This show has fast become my new obsession. I had a little void in my life from catching up with all Parks and Recreation and was looking for something to take my mind off of Knope and the gang.
A Meta comedy revolving around a study group at a community college in the fictional place of Greendale, Colorado. All main characters are well rounded and a little mental, which is why I think people can relate so easily to them, or just find them quite endearing. Season 1 is off to a good start, but I think it isn’t until half way through that the series really finds its place amongst other comedy series of the time (I say time, it was 2009) and realises the direction it needs to be heading. It settles into a nook of pop culture and film references, some so subtle that you barely see them coming until the big picture is smacking you in the face. Series 2 and 3 step up their game and start to venture out of the study room at Greendale College, out of a blanket fort, off campus and sometimes into a cartoon alternate reality or just a computer game. The script is fast paced, witty and very clever, the direction is empowered and the actors/comedians- genius, a real ensemble piece. I nailed all three series in 2 weeks, that’s a lot of hours that I put into this study group and I feel like I reaped the rewards.

Homeland

Season 2 Epsode 3

I loved Season 1 of Homeland. The subject material was current, sensitive and handled very well indeed. I know we’re only 3 episodes into season 2 but i’m already a little worried about its endurance and direction. We’re still questioning Brody’s loyalty and seriously, are we to watch ClaIre Danes screw up her face and have an emotional breakdown in every single episode?! What really got my goat about this episode is that it ended in pretty much the same way as the episode before. We basically sat through an episode of ClaIre Danes crying so that we could arrive at the same point, the exact same cliff-hanger as we did in the previous episode. We may as well have had a Friends style flashback filler episode for all the good that it did (that’s a little bit harsh, as other stuff did happen in this episode- it was more of a comment for dramatic effect).
Still, I am holding strong and sticking with the series, and am hopeful it will raise it’s game in the next few episodes.

The Walking Dead

Season 3 Epsode 1

A great first instalment of the third season of the hit AMC Zombie apocalypse show. It opens with the ‘Ricktatorship’ in full force after a long winter on the road. The gang is working in unison killing zombies, searching for food and shelter, in a very slick (Rick) army style attack force, all filmed in complete silence. A very nice touch.

Andrea is still separated from the group but has found companionship from our new sword wielding hero Michonne, and her pet zombies.

There is plenty of blood and gore to kick off the season, which let’s face it, make up the best parts of TWD. In other good news, it would seem that writer/producer Glen Mazzara (@glenmazzara) has been reading plenty of season 2 tweets about the rather annoying Lori and Carl. The characters seem to be handled very differently already. Carl is using a gun (properly) and is a more active rather than annoying member of the group and Rick is treating Lori how we’d all like to treat her; tutting at her opinions and blanking her ideas. Have some of that Lori! A great start to the show, may the Ricktatorship live long and prosper.

Despite 30 years worth of good natured parodies ('The Shinnning', 'Here's Johnny!') Stanley Kubrick's film is still as eerie today as it ever was.
The Shining is not your average ghost story. Jettisoning much of Stephen King's book, it's essentially a study in madness with the supernatural backgrounded; Which is not to say there isn't a succession of nightmarish sequences that both captivate and revolt: The flood of blood from the lift, Danny's encounter with the two girls as he wheels his way around the labyrinth like corridors of the hotel, the crash pan reveal of the lady in Jack's arms in room 237. This focus on the psychology mean that when there is a potentially supernatural element (who unlocks the food storage door?!) it is immeasurably more chilling.
Despite the wide open vistas and immense space of the Overlook hotel, a sense of claustrophobia pervades almost every scene. The elegant camera work, which includes the first and possibly most effective use of the steadi-cam, as well as the impeccable production value and potent score create unease and dread right from the very first frame. It is the most beautiful of horror films. Jack Nicholson is excellent, a real tour de force and Danny Lloyd playing his young son has a natural quality and a very welcome lack of child 'actorlinness'!
As Martin Scorsese said it is 'essentially unclassifiable, endlessly provocative and profoundly disturbing'. The American cut of the film (which is 24mins longer) is being released in cinemas this Halloween. Do yourself a favour and go see.... In addition, a documentary feature Room 237 is released on October 26th which examines some of the conspiracy theories of the The Shining from the idea that it is a comment on the genocide of the American Indian by the white man to the notion that it is Kubrick's declaration that it was he who faked the Moon landing footage!

 

The Shining (1980)

 

It’s well documented in cinephile circles that 1982 was a purple patch for Hollywood cinema, in particular the sci-fi genre. E.T, Blade Runner and Tron ring any bells? All from ’82. It is from this year the world was given John Carpenter's sci-fi horror re-imagining of ‘The Thing From Another World’. Kurt Russell headlines as R J MacReady the stories whiskey swigging hero and nails the performance of his career, Big Trouble In Little China aside. There’s gore galore, snow storms, flame throwers, ingenious extreme death scenes  (defibrillator anyone?) and killer quotes. Heavy, simplistic synth music pumps like a heartbeat throughout adding to the building tensions and paranoia expertly crafted by Carpenter, as we slowly become aware that one after another the members of this Antarctic research lab may not be who they seem following the introduction of a alien parasite which mimics it's victims. When the revelations are made and we witness The Thing in all it’s shape shifting glory the results are visceral creature features that still look amazing thirty years on. I love this movie to it’s frozen core and with Halloween approaching it’s the perfect time to revisit or discover it’s genius.

 

 

 

The Thing (1982)

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