Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Good Day To Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard PosterI have to admit that, having heard and read quite a few reviews, I went into A Good Day To Die Hard with certain expectations and they were all met.

This was not a good thing.

The film starts out like some kind of Cold War-era espionage movie run through the Bourne-filter (though with much less style than it seems the first Bourne films have) before we are reintroduced to Bruce Willis’ John McClane.

From there we hit the movie’s first major roadblock, John (or really Bruce, let’s be honest now, there doesn’t seem to be even the pretense that this is the character who graced our screens in the first three films in the series) heads to Russia to help out his estranged son who, it appears, has been arrested for murder (amongst other unspecific crimes) – why John doesn’t just do what a regular New York cop would do, contact the authorities, I’m not sure but off Bruce goes to Moscow.

Bruce Willis and Jai CourtneyWhile, in an action movie, I am well aware real life logic does not apply, what has previously set the Die Hard films apart from, more often, straight to video/DVD fare, is that McClane is an unwilling hero stuck in a situation where he has no choice – here, despite a few lines of painful dialogue, he seems to be seeking out the action.

Once we get to Russia, and are through most of the movies poorly handled exposition, the action starts with a huge car chase that really just ignores any common sense, or real sense of excitement or tension, and so the film continues.

Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian KochBad script aside (Bruce Willis essentially keeps repeating three phrases regarding his age, vacation and the fact he’s a father), the action feels so cartoony that there is genuinely no sense of jeopardy to be had.

From beginning to end, despite being shot at, facing armoured vehicles in a normal road jeep and swinging from the back of a spinning helicopter, there is a never a feeling that McClane (or his bland and near pointless macguffin offspring) is likely to meet a sticky end, leaving the majority of the film as a series of spectacular looking but heartless, and generally too drawn out, action set pieces.

Yuliya SnigirAside from these sequences we get a story clearly trying to offer a parallel relationship to McClane and his junior in the form of a former Soviet big-wig and his daughter but, because the characters are so poorly drawn, all it does is add an extra person to get involved in the big climax at Chernobyl (yes, apparently it’s a half hour’s drive from Moscow and there is a gas that can clear up the radioactivity in seconds) rather than offering any form of extra insight.

In the end, if A Good Day To Die Hard had starred Steven Seagal and been released on DVD it would have been a fun way to spend 90 minutes, sadly, as its had more money put into it and features Bruce Willis it is on the big screen and doesn’t provide the sense of ironic detachment that can make Seagal an icon of bad action cinema.

Bruce Willis and Jai CourtneyI remain intrigued to see the uncut version of this when it comes out on Blu-ray as the British release is known to have been cut by the producers to make it a 12A, but I don’t see how any extra swearing or gore is going to help make the plot anymore than at best third-rate or help make the script anything other than a string of clichés about Bruce Willis’ age, fatherhood or the fact he’s supposedly meant to be on holiday not shooting non-specific Russian maybe-terrorists.

While the original Die Hard helped birth and solidify the conventions of action cinema as we know it A Good Day To Die Hard feels like the death throes of a genre in need of being put aside in favour of something with a bit more heart, brains and edge like The Raid has proved action cinema can be.

The guys from 24LPS have also reviewed A Good Day To Die Hard, so here’s their review:

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Pulse album launch with Last of the Light Brigade

Chris of The Pulse

Chris of The Pulse

On Saturday 23rd February 2013, after 30 years, The Pulse released their debut album to the world with a special, potentially one-off, show at The Fermain Tavern with support from Last of the Light Brigade.

The Pulse originally existed for a couple of years in the early 1980s in which time they built up a dedicated fanbase and wrote an album’s worth of material they never recorded. Following a supposed one-off show last year to mark frontman Chris Dean’s ‘retirement’ from live music they reconvened in the studio to lay down the tracks and that has led to this.

Last of the Light Brigade have also been away for a while (though not quite as long as The Pulse) and were back on their old storming form with the indie-rock-mod-punk explosion.

You can see my photos of the show over on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Review

Nostalgia can be an odd thing, many times looking back on the past is done through heavily rose-tinted spectacles that leads to newcomers just not getting it, I’m sure I’m guilty of this with some thing as much as anyone else.

Tyler of Last of the Light Brigade

Tyler of Last of the Light Brigade

Before I get to the subject of this particular nostalgia though we have the evening’s ‘support act’ (a phrase I still find odd in a musical community like Guernsey’s where we are pretty much all enthusiastic amateurs, albeit at different stages of our development), Last of the Light Brigade.

It’s been a while since Last of the Light Brigade took to their stage in full force, in fact I think i we’ve seen these boys playing their original set since the end of their UK and Channel Island tour last autumn, so I was certainly looking forward to reveling in their indie-mod sounds.

Taking the time off from Last of the Light Brigade and playing a few gigs in their cover band mode of Stratosfear, as well as heading into the studio again, seems to have reignited the fire under the band who played what was one of the best sets I’ve seen them deliver.

Last of the Light Brigade

Last of the Light Brigade

Playing second fiddle at the gig like this is always going to be a challenge when it comes to engaging with the audience but, as their set went on, the applause and cheers grew for LOTLB and rounding off the set with a few songs featuring Andy Coleman on keys saw them really finish things on storming form and more than set the scene for the evening’s headliners.

With a new EP out in a month or so it seems Last of the Light Brigade are getting back into their stride at just the right moment and I for one am looking forward to hearing their new recorded material and seeing them live again soon as they support Wilko Johnson in March.

After some great selections from DJ SilvaVespa which really upped the feeling that we’d somehow slipped back in time 30 years or so, it was time for the real nostalgia to kick into its high gear as The Pulse took to the stage for their first full set in possibly 30 years (their last show was about a year ago as part of  frontman Chris Dean’s retirement show).

Nick and Chris of The Pulse

Nick and Chris of The Pulse

Having been only three months old when the band split on New Year’s Day 1983 I never had a chance to experience The Pulse first time round so, while most were reveling in nostalgia, things were a bit different for me and, going in, I will admit to being a bit worried that the hype, enthusiasm and general raving I had encountered would fall flat when I actually got to see the band.

Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, and from the start of their set the band were on top form.

Playing a set of songs written 30 years ago there were a few that had a certain, understandable, hint of the 80s in terms not only of style, but subject, while this did make them feel a little dated it never effected the energy of the songs which built and built across the set and, songs like Recession and Fashion, have come round to be perfectly suitable to the modern world again.

"The Blue Vein Shuffle"

“The Blue Vein Shuffle”

If The Pulse started their set well they only got better as they were soon joined for a few numbers by their brass section ‘The Blue Vein Shuffle’ (I’m sure the joke was funnier in the 80’s, but what the hell, it’s all in good fun even now) which upped the funk element of their electro-pop-punk sound and really brought out the extra dance-y elements of the music.

While the whole band were on top form it was, as I guess is fitting, frontman (and birthday boy) Chris Dean who stole the show as he not only seemed to be having the most fun I’ve seen someone have on stage in a very long time, but also showed off his own musical acumen switching from guitar to bass to keyboard and back to guitar several times with apparent ease and his rapport with both his bandmates and the crowd goes to show why he still retains such a high status, in some circles, as one of the island’s best frontmen.

The Fermain Tavern was packed for The Pulse

The Fermain Tavern was packed for The Pulse

With Red Day In Dallas (one of my highlights from the band’s new album), The Pulse took things into higher gear as they neared the end of their set and I think it is testament to their songs that, 30 years after many in the audience last heard them, they were still singing along.

As the packed out Tav brought the band back on for an extended encore which saw them reprise of few of the tracks from earlier in the night, The Pulse’s potentially one-off show ended on a real high with both the band and audience joining one another in a real sense of celebration.

While I may not have been riding the wave of nostalgia that most in attendance were, its safe to say the gig was great fun and both bands were playing at the top of their game.

Whether this is the last we see of The Pulse always remains to be seen, but, if it was, it was a more than suitable way to go out!

Guernsey Gigs were also on hand at the show and got video of The Pulse’s entire set!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

BBC Introducing Guernsey: February 2013 – The Get Down and Matt Ward

BBC Guernsey studioFor the second BBC Introducing Guernsey show of 2013 I was joined by three of the guys who help organise, run and participate in The Get Down events and we had an acoustic session from Matt Ward.

The Get Down have been staging nights for a number of years spanning genres but largely focussing on things associated with hip-hop and funk (and their myriad offshoots) they have their first live event of 2013 coming up next week at The Fermain Tavern and DJ Oneofakind, Woody (aka Sterone1) and Mi$ta told me all about it.

Matt Ward has been playing in bands for quite some time but has recently began life as a solo acoustic performer. With a regular gig as host of the open mic nights at the De La Rue he has started to gain a name for himself on Guernsey’s music scene and he played 5 original songs for the show.

I also aired an interview from Oliver Wade who has the ambitious plan of forming his own record label in Guernsey, ATOS Music.

Anyway, enough ramble from me, you can listen to the show by clicking here, and here is the tracklist:

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brave

Brave Merida PosterThere is a bar that has been set by Pixar that began when they first put out Toy Story back in 1995 (wow, was it really that long ago!?) that not only their, but all, computer animated films have been compared to since and, despite a few blips, Pixar have generally remained top of the CG animation pile though their consistent output.

So, its fair to say I came to Brave with certain, very high, expectations.

On my first viewing of the ancient, mythical Scotland set morality tale I did think it had reached Pixar’s previous top points, on second viewing though, I’m not so sure. However, as my expectations were quite so high that’s not to say it is in any way a bad film.

As with all Pixar, and most of the best Disney, films there is a message behind the, at times chaotic, adventure story.

Brave MeridaPossibly, in Brave this is slightly more pronounced than in some of Pixar’s other films, but thankfully, it’s a message I think many people can relate to with a daughter (Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald) and her mother (Queen Elinor, voiced by Emma Thompson) exploring their own relationship through Merida’s adolescence and into adulthood.

On top of this we get an array of characters of the caliber we’ve come to expect from Pixar with Billy Connelly’s King Fergus, who is obsessed with revenge on the bear that took his leg, to the other lords of the Kingdom of Dunbroch and their eldest sons, who are all vying for the hand of Merida, all of whom serve to provide the major comedy aspect of the movie with King Fergus bridging the gap between the movie’s macguffin (a word on which the script plays a fun pun) and the main plot.

Brave Queen Elinor and King Fergus posterWhile the main plot and emotion may not strike a chord as much it seems many think Up and Toy Story 3 do (I have yet to see either so will reserve my own judgment on this) the characters and animation are where Brave really shines.

Throughout the visuals are stunning but there are a few set pieces that really highlight this. First is our introduction to the teenage Merida as she rides out on her shire horse Angus to explore Dunbroch’s glens and lochs ending with a visually stunning series of shots as she climbs a cliff under a waterfall.

This whole sequence, as well as great montage plot device, basically acts as Pixar showing off how they can create some hyper-realistic water effects and make realistic landscapes in a film that is still very much in the tradition of Disney’s ‘princess’ series that began with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 and of course adds to every scene featuring Merida where her hair is something of a set piece in itself in terms of animation.

"BRAVE"   (Pictured) MERIDA. ©2012 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.Later we get scenes set in the forest with fire and bears on-screen and again, as well as working for the story, they are a chance for the animators to show off their ever-growing technical skill with the fur on the bears, in particular, being right in a way I’d not seen before in animation.

The story itself possibly goes through one contrivance too many which, at one point, made me wish they’d just cut to the inevitable chase but, that said, it would then have been a very short film and missed out a couple of great gags involving Merida’s triplet brothers.

Brave Mor'DuBrave may not be up to the near perfection standard that Pixar have reached in the past but, none-the-less it remains a great entry into their canon and a really enjoyable film in general that does many of the things the studio do best, which includes balancing the “Disney-ness” of their stories with a certain level of irreverence that doesn’t slip too far into the self and pop culture references but makes them more than palatable for the whole family.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho Book CoverAfter catching Hitchcock in the cinema a couple of weeks ago I though I would re-investigate its supposed source, Stephen Rebello’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho – a book first published in 1990.

I first encountered this book while I was undertaking an A-level media studies course where one of our main subjects on the film module was Alfred Hitchcock’s horror and shock masterpiece Psycho.

As is often the case with books encountered as part of a school course, I never actually read the whole book, instead picking out the segments relevant to the course so, this was almost like coming to it totally fresh.

The most striking thing about the book from the start is the remarkable cooperation of all the then surviving cast and crew members to talk about the film and to be very honest with it.

Stephen RebelloThis paints a picture of the film’s development from the stage of Robert Bloch’s first idea for the novel based on the news stories of “The Wisconsin Ghoul”, Ed Gein, through the development of the script, to filming and, finally, Psycho’s effect on cinema.

So we hear stories from stars Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, Bloch and screenwriter Joseph Stefano as well as various members of the production crew and archive of Hitchcock himself.

This paints a brilliant and in-depth picture of not only the creation of the film in question, but film in general, and gives us a unique eye into the world of the studio system that, arguably, Psycho speeded up the destruction of.

Alfred HitchcockThe specifics also tell the story of the film from being something considered a costly mistake by “The Master of Suspense” through to its reception as one of Hollywood’s first auteur pieces by the likes of Cahier du Cinema, which comes across as the Bible of the “Nouvelle Vague”, and, therefore, elevates Psycho to the status of art rather simply a “nasty little shocker”.

While the film this book spawned seemed intent on turning this story into a soap opera, here Alma Hitchcock receives very little coverage and there is no mention of Hitch being troubled by her having a possibly relationship with a screenwriter and, in my opinion, Hitchcock would have been a far more satisfying film if it had stuck more to the intrigue surrounding credits of design aspects of the film (often credited to Saul Bass more than Hitchcock) and the music as well as the wrangling with the studio and censors.

Anthony Perkins in PsychoWhat the book also adds which would never have fitted the three-act Hollywood movie structure is and exploration of the effect Psycho had on the career of Hitch.

It posits that while many have tried all, including the director himself, consistently failed to live up to Psycho and, as well as reviving Hitchcock’s energy for filmmaking, it may also have led to his decline as he switched studios from Paramount to Universal and lost touch with what had made his previous films what they were.

While there are elements of opinion in the book, and it clearly comes from a point of view of Hitchcock as auteur and certainly not a critical standpoint, it still paints a reasonably balanced picture of the creation of a classic in a way that I wish extra features on DVDs and Blu-rays would do more often.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sarnia Cinema presents Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom

Sarnia Cinema logoFor their first screening of 2013 Sarnia Cinema (formerly Sarnia Shorts) gave us a choice of films.

Via their Facebook page film fans could ‘vote’ on either Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for a bit of Spielberg directed fantasy action to liven up a February night.

The vote went (for me disappointingly) to Temple of Doom.

Here’s my small feature on the screening from The Guernsey Press’ Arts page on Wednesday 27th February 2013:

Sarnia Cinema Spielberg night scan - 27:02:13

So, in the meantime, here is my review focussing purely on the film.

Review

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom posterFrom the start the tone of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom is an odd one, it seems like Spielberg wants to try his hand at doing a mid-Roger Moore era James Bond film, but has Harrison Ford as an archaeologist rather than a suave super spy – and this is after what seems to be an oddly placed fantasy dance sequence featuring the film’s heroine and introducing her character about as much as any other part of the film does (she’s a showgirl who can scream).

Following a painfully convoluted scene in the ‘Club Obi-Wan’ (let’s get meta, George!) we are introduced to Short Round and our oddly misjudged and imbalanced pseudo-family are all in place and the real adventure starts as Indy goes in search of a mystical stone to help save an Indian village from starvation and rescue all their children.

Temple of Doom 1The village’s children, along with Short Round, are where one of the massively imbalanced aspects of the film comes from as the basic plot could easily be a fun and romping adventure perfectly suited for a younger audience who can associate with Short Round and buy into the rescuing the kids story.

Temple of Doom heart removal sceneUnfortunately, alongside the child friendly elements, we get some seriously full on gore and violence (for a family film) which, while I quite enjoyed that element, particularly the heart removal sequence, it wasn’t something I’d think little kids who’d be entertained by Short Round would get and, to be honest, it probably pushes beyond the scary of the melting Nazis of Raiders of the Lost Ark thanks to the length and sustained menace of the ritual sequences.

So, as I have in the past I spent more of my time being frustrated by the films own illogical nature rather than enjoying what could have been a great adventure.

Temple of Doom 2Another factor that frustrates me about Temple of Doom is that it seems to be a series of loosely connected set pieces with little plot called for to join them together.

This left me feeling that, for the most part, they were ideas written on a page and then just handed to the director with little or no thought into how they would associate to anything around them, this is something I’d put more in common with a modern b-level blockbuster rather than the work of Spielberg.

The biggest of these set pieces is a mine kart chase that is the one part I remembered fondly from my youth, but now even this feels cynical, as it looks purely like someone pitching a new ride to Disneyland – which, lo and behold, it rather swiftly became.

Indy as Bond!?

Indy as Bond!?

In terms of technical aspects the film looks great, as you’d expect, and the special effects are generally excellent for a film made in the early 80s, but with little to work with in terms of character or story its clear this was going to be hard work even for someone with the talents of Spielberg.

I don’t like to jump on the George Lucas bashing bandwagon as he didn’t write the final screenplay, but he is credited as “Story by…” and a lot of the issues that I have with Temple of Doom are ones I had with the lesser installments of Star Wars so it seems he’s the scapegoat, rightly or wrongly, here as well.

In the end, while the film wasn’t much cop, having the chance to see it projected on a big screen and played loud was great, but I still think I’d have preferred Jurassic Park.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Everything Or Nothing

Everything or Nothing posterReleased to not only cash in with the release of Skyfall, but also the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movies, Everything Or Nothing (which takes it’s title from the name of Cubby Broccoli’s production company EON who make the Bond movies) takes a look back at the history of 007, specifically on film, but also his origin in Ian Fleming’s novels.

The film starts out with a great composite shot of all the Bonds shooting down the barrel and with Christopher Lee, who played villain Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun, introducing us to Ian Fleming – sadly the rest of the films struggles to reach these heights again as it goes on to become something akin to a super-expanded DVD extra.

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The first sequence, which deals with Fleming and how Broccoli and his producing partner to be, Harry Saltzman, gained the rights to bring Bond to the big screen in probably the documentary’s most interesting part as we see clips of the original TV version of Casino Royale, with its Americanised ‘Jimmy Bond’, through to the stories by associates on both sides about how it was far from a smooth journey to the release of Dr. No in 1963.

From there we descend into a lot of talking heads, most of whom weren’t actually involved (or in some cases born) telling us about Sean Connery’s time as 007. Unfortunately Connery’s ongoing feud with, seemingly, everyone he’s ever made a movie with, means his side of the story goes largely untold and he comes across mostly as the bad guy who was ungrateful and did his best to hold up the producers for more money.

Cubby Broccoli and Harry Satlzman

Cubby Broccoli and Harry Satlzman

As we head into Lazenby and Moore’s eras we get more insight thanks to some very frank interviews from the two actors with Lazenby in particular, admitting to being hugely out of his depth during the filming of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and clearly stating it was his fault that the transition between Bond’s at that stage was rather rocky.

Moore too is surprisingly frank about how he chose to develop Bond from Connery’s cold killer and womaniser character into the more larky, suave and family friendly version of Bond and Cubby Broccoli’s daughter (and current producer) says that this was something done with full agreement from the producer but led to him splitting from longtime production partner Saltzman.

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

With a diversion into the circumstances surrounding unofficial Bond, Never Say Never Again, and the painting of its producer Kevin McClory as very much the bad guy almost going so far as to state the stress he caused was responsible for Cubby Broccoli’s declining health.

We then reach the Dalton, Bronsan and Craig eras which are dealt with very quickly which is something a shame as there are hints that are just as many stories to tell but, maybe because all the players are still with us, we don’t get to hear anything more than the surface of these.

While I enjoyed Everything or Nothing, and it does tell the story of this astonishing (on several levels) series of films, it also comes across as something of a propaganda vehicle for EON Productions side of things and therefore ends up feeling a bit empty, particular as it nears present day and Judi Dench and Sam Mendes bring it to the level of big back slapping contest.

This leaves it feeling like it really should have been an extra bonus feature on a special edition of Skyfall rather than being released as a stand-alone movie.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Drive

drive uk posterUp until a couple of weeks ago I had never seen a Nicolas Winding Refn movie, and now I’ve seen both Bronson and Drive I can conclude at least one thing – he likes his anti-heroes.

While in Bronson he dealt with a charismatic, real-life nutcase and made him into something of a vaudeville rogue for the purposes of the film, in Drive he presents us with a man who is very much a blank canvas, The Driver.

I have to admit I came to Drive with a certain level of expectation following the good words I had heard about it, fairly consistently, since its release in 2011, but beyond that I didn’t really know what to expect and, to be honest, I came away from it almost wholly disappointed.

Ryan Gosling DriveThings start well as The Driver (Ryan Gosling) sets up his basic dos and don’ts before heading out on a well staged heist/chase which goes a bit wrong but he comes away unscathed.

During this pre-credits scene we meet the owner of the garage he works at, who provides his ‘work’ cars, and the basics of the plot and their characters are set up – unfortunately that’s pretty much where their character development ends.

drive carey mulliganWhile the story, a fairly straight forward modern gangster tale akin to the likes of Reservoir Dogs is decent if nothing special, my major issue with the film was that none of the characters were developed enough to mean anything to me so, rather than really rooting for Gosling’s Driver (or anyone else), I honestly didn’t care for them at all.

This lack of empathy rendered anything else that happened near pointless – in one scene The Driver gets stuck in a room with armed assailants on either side and, while I assumed he would escape as I knew there was still at least 40 minutes of movie left, I honestly didn’t care if he escaped intact or not.

drive Carey Mulligan and Ryan GoslingThe nearest I came to caring for any characters was Carey Mulligan’s Irene but even then, for the most part, she merely felt like a cypher or plot device to move the film along, as much as it ever does.

The movie itself is something of a slow burn as the first hour and a bit seems to be setting up the characters and locale, while really telling us nothing of either, before kicking into an ultra-violent gear that again feels empty.

While the plot and characterisation left me largely cold Drive’s one redeeming factor was its stylishness as we get a veritable portrait of the LA underground painted in lurid neon and electronic music that mirrors its characters in its coldness, but here cold seems suitable instead of just making me not care about the movie.

driveMaybe Drive was trying to make a point about the distance that many feel from each other in modern life, supposedly especially those who live in cities like LA, but, if this was the films purpose, it failed in transmitting this by simply being so cold and distant and full of cyphers rather than characters it was impossible to connect.

In the end it left me thinking that if this had been a flippant action b-movie it would have been fine, slightly over gory, fun, if nothing special, but instead it feels like it wants to be something ‘higher’ (for want of a better word) but fails to make any real impact beyond looking very nice – in this regard it reminded me very much of Michael Mann’s Manhunter.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Troll Hunter

uk troll hunter posterIf you read my review of Chronicle a few months back you’ll probably have got the idea that I often find ‘found footage’ movies somewhat distracting and, even at their best, they usually have some moments which take me out of the action and question why the camera is still rolling.

Despite a few moments near the beginning, once the main plot of Troll Hunter was running, it actually handled this very well, certainly better than Chronicle, and I was swept up into the story of a group of students following a man who hunts trolls for a living.

Troll Hunter teamWhile the story isn’t the film’s best element, it probably comes a close second, especially for anyone with a passing interest in folklore, as it combines elements familiar to Norse mythology and general Nordic folklore, specifically relating to trolls but also modifying the deeper mythology of Asgard et al, in the depiction of the trolls.

While, thankfully, we never really get any scenes of obvious exposition which jar with the rest of the film thanks to the clever trick of our protagonists being just as new to trolls as we are, we get a fairly deep understanding of the nature of trolls from Hans the troll hunter as he explains to Thomas, Kalle and Johanna the different sorts of trolls, their lifecycles and biology.

Troll HunterIt’s from this we get a few of the films most ingenious uses of folklore as Hans asks the filmmakers if any of them are Christian and, when they encounter a Muslim, Hans’ reaction is “I don’t know, we’ll see what happens” which serves to bring the traditional into the modern world brilliantly while keeping up the classic notion of Norse mythology standing up to the Middle Eastern mythologies more commonly termed ‘religion’ today.

One thing that very much surprised me about Troll Hunter was that, unlike most other ‘found footage’ or lower budget monster movies, it doesn’t hold off on showing us its titular monster.

TrollNot long after the plot gets rolling do we actually get to see a troll for the first time and this is where my highlight of the movie comes in, the design of the trolls.

Across the film we see a few different ‘species’ of troll and all are excellent designed to include elements from classic tales to children’s toys and adding something new from the filmmakers imaginations – the highlight of this comes, expectedly, in the movie’s climax, but I won’t spoil to much of that for you here.

Hans the troll hunterWith ‘monster movies’ being something of a less popular genre these days as, often, even things that start out like monster movies become action adventure spectacles as they develop, it is nice to see a film like Troll Hunter which combines elements of classic and folkloric story, with modern cinematic tropes, to create something comparatively fresh backed up by some great ‘monster’ design work which is a necessity to make a film like this work and, while it is far from the most taxing movie thematically speaking, it’s a great way to spend an hour and a half or so.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Matt Ward in session for BBC Introducing Guernsey

Matt Ward on BBC Introducing GuernseyLast night I recorded an acoustic session for the February 2013 BBC Introducing Guernsey radio show with Guernsey based guitarist and singer-songwriter Matt Ward.

The session sounded great as Matt played through 5 of his own songs and we had a chat about Matt’s musical life and his current role as compere and resident host of the De La Rue open mic nights which happen every Monday at the St Peter Port pub.

You can hear the whole session Saturday 23rd February at 8 o’clock on BBC Guernsey on 93.2fm or 1116mw in Guernsey or online at bbc.co.uk/guernsey or via the BBC iPlayer and Radio Player for 7 days afterwards.

You can find out all about the show, which will also features the guys behind The Get Down, on the Facebook event page.

Here is a sneak preview from the session as captured as it was recorded on my iPhone:

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,