Film: Shelter [2014]

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Jennifer Connelly as Hannah and Anthony Mackie as Tahir

Never judge a book by it’s cover. But how often do we do this as we walk past the homeless folk on our city streets each day? They smell, they swear, they are scary. Well yes there are a lot of damaged people out there struggling with mental illness, drugs, and perhaps a dose of bad luck. Don’t be too judgmental. Everyone is capable of making poor choices. This is a wonderful film by written and directed by Paul Bettany. An illegal immigrant befriends a heroin addict. They support each other and fall in love. While their situation improves somewhat, the good times do not not last long and a cruel city exacts it’s toll on them eventually. The acting by Connelly and Mackie is superb. I highly rate this movie and if you get a chance to see it make sure you have tissues close by. Look for on Rialto channel.

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Comic: My Friend Dahmer

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by John Backderf

Let me start by saying recently I watched the film this graphic novel is based on. I loved the flick so much it was only a matter of time before I picked up a copy of the source material in the book known as My Friend Dahmer, authored & illustrated by ‘Derf’. For those who are dazed and confused, this ‘comic book’ charts John Backderf’s friendship with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer – during the teenage years. I use the term friendship loosely. Dahmer was really a play thing for Derf and a wider group of teens. I need to acknowledge the honesty in which the author has tackled this. Teens can be brutal but please don’t be too hard on Backderf and classmates of the era. Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know of the horrific crimes Dahmer committed but not much was really known or understood of his formative years. And I don’t wish to delve into Dahmer’s crimes – there are a wealth of books and interviews out there already. But this graphical presentation by Derf is perhaps the most insightful of the lot. Dahmer was that misfit on the fringes of his high school classes. With a proclivity for dead animals, struggles with sexuality and identity, he never fit in. And fellow students only showed interest in him from a purely entertainment stand point. Teens are like that. One needs to be very careful before casting blame around. Derf talks about the ‘missing adults’ in Dahmers life and I agree with a lot of what he says. However, Dahmer was ill and everyone missed it. And here I need to stop. There is a danger that, like arm chair quarterbacks, polite society likes to play at pop psychology. Getting quickly drawn into debates around nature versus nurture etc. This graphic novel is not entertaining. I pity folk who find the serial killer genre in general titillating [they are out there in spades]. But the pages contained within this biographical are powerful. And very sad. I’ll put my neck on the line and say My Friend Dahmer is firmly in my top 20 graphic novels – all time. Highly recommended.

Film: Logan Lucky

Film Review Logan Lucky

Seth MacFarlane as Max Chilblain plus Adam Driver as Clyde Logan

Billed as a heist comedy, Lucky Logan follows the story of two hapless brothers who embark on a robbery of Charlotte Motor Speedway. This is not the usual film I’d go to but there was nothing else on so why not? An ensemble cast, it also includes Daniel Craig as Joe Bang and Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan. But for my money, MacFarlane and Driver are the standouts of the film. With both their acting and comedy routines bordering on slapstick. [I like slapstick]. And what’s not to love about a one armed barman? The scene pictured above is the best in the entire movie. I laughed my guts out. Now I know Daniel Craig aka James Bond has received some criticism for his attempt at a southern US accent. However, I proclaim he pulled it off and it was refreshing to see him in this role. Tatum was adequate but nothing special – perhaps that’s unfair. He plays the more serious of the Logan brothers. Overall this film is solid in the heist genre. Your call on whether to see on big screen or wait for it on TV. It is slim pickings at the moment.

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Daniel Craig as Joe Bang

Book: The Snowman

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The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

I’m a fan of reading the book before the film so I tracked down a copy of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. Without wanting to incur the ire of Nesbo fans, for me this novel is firmly a ‘police procedural’. And as such it was always going to be important for readers to connect with the lead detective and main character Harry Hole. Having not read the books preceding The Snowman, I worried I’d be coming in cold re important character background information/development but all fears were allayed by page 100. The book works well as a standalone read. I felt I understood Harry Hole well enough to enjoy the hunt for a deranged serial killer. The horror scenes are creative but lacked ‘gravitas’. [Sorry fans]. I would have liked to see the emotional responses of the support cast explored a little deeper. I would have liked this novel to be three times as long! Nevertheless I still enjoyed the story and I’ve purchased a further two books so that’s an endorsement for sure. I reckon Nesbo must get sick of comparisons with Stieg Larsson [Girl With The Dragon Tattoo]. Nesbo stands as an equal with the greats in Scandinavian Noir – a heavy weight in his own right. I’m looking forward to working my way through all his works in time. And looking forward to the film starring Michael Fassbender.

TV: Outcast Season 2

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Patrick Fugit as Kyle Barnes and Philip Glenister as Rev. John Anderson

While I’m on a general theme in the blog, it’s beholden to me to finally do a shout out to Outcast season 2. Our two main Demon hunters are back at it in their quest to expunge the evil in the community of Rome, West Virginia. And find answers to many burning questions like where are the ghouls from and why are they here? In addition, how come Kyle Barnes is so good at ridding them? I’ve deliberately kept away from the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta as I’m enjoying the TV adaptation so much. And some questions are being dealt with this year as we get deeper in. Although not as scary as episodes 1-10, the latest batch is filling in the gaps and our archfiend ‘Sidney’ played by Brent Spiner grows in importance. Although being king-pin in the world of evil is no easy task and he now faces competition and those of his own kind who are daring to question his leadership. Who will prevail is anyone’s guess. No matter what side you are on. Track down Outcast on your local cable provider’s listing. Watch it late at night. If it’s stormy outside, all the better! If you are new to this series – make sure you watch season 1 first, otherwise it won’t make much sense – but that’s obvious right?

Film: Annabelle: Creation

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Annabelle [Left] with Talitha Bateman as Janice [Right]

I’d been getting withdrawal from a lack of horror flicks on the big screen so was glad to see Annabelle is back to fill the void. I need my jump scares and director David F. Sandberg has provided. But it’s well balanced with a decent screen play and some great acting by the whole cast. For sure this film won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The demon possessed doll has been pressed into service again – in a prequel kind of way. Part of The Conjuring group of films it charts the creation of this infamous marionette by a ‘Geppetto’ like master craftsman. Funnily enough, I’d be keen to see a film focused on the characters Samuel Mullins and wife Esther – which is touched on during the film. The back story of 1943 is possibly more interesting than 1955 which this film is firmly set in. But you don’t need spoilers so I’m gonna stop here. Annabelle Creation won’t be the greatest horror in 2017, but it is more than adequate for a Friday night out. I say spend your dough on this one. It’s worth it. Plenty of folk screamed at our showing.

Film: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Bad Review!

Evil Emu sums it up. But I’m gonna put my two cents worth in anyway. [And the boot]. What a disappointment Valerian is. Several times I felt like walking out. This was supposed to be a cool space opera so what happened? The source materiel is good [Valérian and Laureline, by Pierre Christin]. There are no excuses. The big screen adaption is what I would call ‘turgid’. It meanders along with no soul and frankly it was boring a lot of the time. There was something not quite right with the CGI of the pearl fisher aliens. The British accented commanders of Alpha were annoying as hell. And I’m singling out Clive Owen in particular. Rihanna’s ‘Bubble’ character was as irritating as Jar Jar Binks [Star Wars]. And the list could go on. You ask me if there are any redeeming features in this movie? Well the two leads actors were good casting decisions – they did their best to over come a poor script and lackluster directing. Its not their fault. But I’m here to tell you to give this film a miss. Don’t even bother with it on DVD. Wait for it to come on TV – and even then you’ll find yourself clicking over to late night infomercials rather than enduring this dull affair.

Book: American Gods

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I stumbled across this book whilst wandering around aimlessly in a department store. I’m aware of the TV series but have not yet seen it. It’s better to read the source material first, anyway. And what a find this novel was. Supernatural beings grifting through everyday society. Gods degrading themselves and others. Pettiness. Jealousies. Heavy drinking and smoking. Not exactly role models. More than once I laughed at the All Father’s curmudgeonly behavior and tête-à-têtes with our hero ‘Shadow’. I got completely absorbed by Neil Gaimon’s supernatural thriller. Hold up a moment. I’m gonna relabel this. It’s a supernatural farce. Seriously. But it is a damn excellent read. And I’m a little sad I’ve reached the end of it. 5 stars.

Documentary: Her Aim is True

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Jini Dellaccio

Jini Dellaccio – the original rock photographer. Who is she? That name on the album credits you never paid any notice to. Bottom left corner. She was the one responsible for the cool album covers of some of the best loved proto-rock groups in 1960s Northwest USA. Think Seattle, Tacoma etc. Paving the way for other more well known names in photographic circles who followed. Great documentary by director Karen Whitehead, it will appeal to rock fans as well as ‘photogs’. Personally I like Jini’s environmental portraiture style versus the studio photographers of the day. I found myself in kindred spirit as she covered her process for getting the shots she wanted. A very organic process of which bands such as The Sonics, The Wailers and even Neil Young were endeared to. 5 stars. 

TV: Room 104

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Room 104 by Jay and Mark Duplass

Hmmm. Where does one begin with Room 104 on HBO? I’ve made a few false starts on this one. Perhaps I’m still digesting the episodes I’ve watched so far? I’ve got to plunge head first into this. Room 104 is a series of ‘short films’. Spanning such genres as horror, crime, fantasy [all forms], plus sci-fi. And yeah – they are all set in a motel, in room 104 of course! The episodes kinda remind me of The Twilight Zone. Is the room cursed? Maybe. I like the concept from the Duplass brothers. But I like some episodes better than others. Still, I’m sticking with it. Room 104 is strangely addictive. Although I’ve run out of things to say. Sigh. Writers block.