Friday, 21 November 2008

Laser Fodder

My latest DVD review column appears in December's issue of Interzone magazine (published by T3A Press)...

This month Laser Fodder has reviews of Charlie Jade, Flash Gordon, Lost In Austen, The Colour Of Magic, Starship Troopers 3, Spooks: Code 9, Futurama: Bender's Game, The X-Files: I Want To Believe, The Princess Bride + a round-up commentary on superhero movies.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Quantum theories

Quantum Of Solace

This sequel to ‘franchise reboot’ Casino Royale is just average entertainment, really... Honestly, I was disappointed, yet again, that such OTT-editing of action sequences is nowadays considered ‘good’ film-making technique or artistry. How can such a blurry blitz of snapshots and multi-angle close-ups (more like a slide-show than moving images!), and obviously CGI-enhanced background scenery be any kind of worthwhile replacement for convincing stunt-work? Where’s the real drama in the hero’s brisk and frequently brutish slaughter of valueless villains? I thought all the main characters seemed to be nothing more than circumstantial props (now, even M talks of Bond as if he’s a useful gadget, not a charismatic rogue agent), juggled by 007’s producers and director (Marc Forster), while annoying inter-cutting of racing with a rooftop chase, and staged opera with back-stage fighting, prove too boringly arty-farty, and distracting from the principal action, as if designed to hide gaps in story logic, and conceal the ridiculously fanciful situations in a supposedly more realistic kind of adventure than the previous outings. Now that our new James Bond is so clearly imitating Jason Bourne (himself merely a blatant 007 clone, despite amnesic twists), that his Cold War screen-presence has become a tragic parody of former glories, perhaps the ultimate British super-spy’s forcible retirement is long overdue?

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Classic rock

It was Hocus Pocus for a Halloween treat, at Winter Gardens venue in Ventnor, where a triple-bill of classic rock acts provided a great evening's musical entertainment. The Groundhogs were a fine warm-up band, milking the horror theme with suitable props and costumes, and tech change-overs by the road crew replaced gear quickly so Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash (not that other band!) were on stage by about 9 pm. Although I failed to recognise or remember any of their material (the last time I heard Argus was 25+ years ago!), they put on a really great show that fulfilled all expectations, despite being a rather short set-list, and fetched out the air-guitar loons and geriatric rockers from a mixed audience (including 'Fred and Ginger Travolta', providing a not-very-amusing distraction).

Top billed Focus were slower to get started, but at 10 pm, larger-than-life Dutch maestro Thijs van Leer was perched behind his nearly-antique looking Hammond organ and blasting out eclectic prog-rock milestones that bought back many happy memories. In addition to classics like Sylvia, the band also performed newer composition Aye-Yuppie-Hippie-Yee, and medley-sounding Eruption. It's funny now, but I used to consider Focus, with their combo of flute and electric guitars, were a poor man's Jethro Tull... However, last night proved that van Leer's powerhouse band are not a poor version of any such thing. Focus are simply brilliant live, kicking up a storm of energy, yet making it look so effortless. (And, yes... I bought a T-shirt, of course.)