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.

TV: Blackout [2013 UK]

 

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Blackout

I’m gonna deal with a couple of things here. Starting with this is not your normal kind of film. It’s sort of a ‘found footage’ style flick. All the ‘footage’ is from cell phones and the like, from members of the public. But it is cleverly edited into an interesting narrative, that if you can tolerate the shaky-camera shots, you will really get in to it. But keep in mind all the footage is really from actors and this is a work of fiction [apart from some file footage of actual riots]. Even so, I repeat, it’s really interesting. Now I’ve got that out of the way lets talk about the actual film. It primarily follows several characters as they try and cope with a ‘nation wide black out’ that befalls the UK. Some of these characters are a right disgrace and take advantage of the loss of power. Some are downright predatory. Others lose their moral compass. And this is true of real life civil defense emergencies the world over. Mob mentality takes over. Society descends into chaos. And this made for TV film has done a great job representing this. Well done director Ben Chanan with his writing partner Joe Barton. I fully appreciate the style choice and how you have stitched it all together. Some excellent acting also helps pull it off. Glad I found it channel surfing late into the night.

 

Doco: CT Fletcher: My Magnificent Obsession

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CT Fletcher

Another wonderful documentary by Vlad Yudin, we have a unique chance to learn about the man behind the larger than life persona that is CT Fletcher. Some of you might be put off watching a doco which charts the career of a weight lifter and self confessed ‘Iron Addict’. Some of you may never have seen the inside of a gym. I’m here to tell you prudish types to give it a go [both this film and perhaps training!]. Don’t be judgmental. In the world of bodybuilding and lifting generally, CT is royalty. From humble beginnings in Compton, he rose to fame as a champion power lifter and these days inspires people from all around the world to not just train but also turn their lives around. A survivor of open heart surgery, CT has proven that when one gets knocked down, one gets up again and keeps going. This film is honest. CT by his own admission is no angel and his strained relationship with his father is examined in detail. If I’m ever in Cali I’d love to train at Iron Addicts Gym – and meet the legend himself. Great doco – highly recommended. 

TV: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Rose Byrne as Rebecca Skloot and Oprah Winfrey as Deborah Lacks

To be honest I did not know anything about Henrietta Lacks and the ‘HeLa’ cell line so important to medical research. And I thought I was reasonably well read. With this Oprah Winfrey film I think I’ve stumbled on to a really interesting story. It’s complicated in terms of the medical science stuff but the real focus is on consent of patients and personal privacy. That Henrietta’s cell line is remarkable is an understatement. I don’t understand why John Hopkins Hospital needed to be so secretive about what they were doing. But we are talking about the 1950s. Fast forward to recent times and Author Rebecca Skloot’s book. [Which I need to track down and read]. And the film adaptation I just watched. Deborah Lacks and her wider family were let down by the establishment and to be honest, seemed quite dazed and confused. [I would be too]. Skloot was able to fill in the gaps for them and bring them a sense of healing and closure. We learn about Henrietta herself and what the children went through. And the emotional scars still carried today. The film is excellent and Oprah is always really good in her on screen portrayals – which are from the heart. I highly recommend this made for TV movie. Track it down people – I hope you find it as fascinating as I did.