Fearful Symmetry

Film. Books. Comics. TV. Music.

Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Kiss Me Deadly

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Light in the dark

Light in the dark

A women running down an empty country road at night, her bare legs flashing in the moonlight from beneath her trench coat; one of the classic opening shots. And it is from what is considered to be one the classic film noirs with Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer that has somehow previously escaped me.

The woman, Christina, escaped from a lunatic asylum, flags down Hammer who gives her a ride. Then his car is forced off the road by a couple of thugs. Afterwards semi-conscious Hammer hears Christina being tortured to death. Partly out of wanting revenge and partly just from his PI instincts that something big is behind her death he starts investing into the woman’s background. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 26, 2009 at 11:07 am

Hot Fuzz

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Call the cops

Call the cops

I remember when Spaced came out. Channel Four gave it a really bad promotion – not even hinting at all the science-fictional references in it – so I just expected some rubbish, twenty-something flat-sharing sitcom. So, after promoting from friends, I only finally caught up with it on DVD. And I ended up loving it of course, though it does vary a bit during the run. Then more recently Shaun Of The Dead came along. Whilst for the most part it worked, I had issues were the comedy and the horror (in particular the tragic stuff) did not really work together and it kind of unravels in the final minutes.

Now Hot Fuzz has arrived and it’s sort of perfect. It celebrates the essential naffness of the British policeman, at least cinematically. Something to do with the uniform and lack of guns, but the only UK cop films that have succeeded (and there’s very few of them full stop) are plain clothes efforts like The Sweeney. This time the plot works with comedy and the integration of the ‘US Cop Buddy Movie’ genre into a West Country small town is excellent. This is helped by the film-makers not being shy to include elements of other genres like Hammer horror and television crime dramas like Midsomer Murders. It also helps that they have managed to secure an utterly unprecedented number of quality actors for every single role, no mater how small. In Midsomer you know the most famous guest actor is the murderer, in Hot Fuzz everyone is famous. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

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Cue manic laughter

Cue manic laughter

I don’t normally like musicals. The only exception that proves of the rule is Singin’ In The Rain (oh, and White Christmas… but then I’ve only ever seen that during the holiday season when my resistance is low). So I had avoided Dr Horrible for quite some time, but now I’ve finally got around to seeing it, I was pleasantly surprised to find I actually enjoyed it.

The brain behind Dr Horrible is Joss Whedon, famed for Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Firefly. And this is very much in the style of his previous creations (of course Buffy famously did an all-singing episode once). I used to really enjoy Buffy (well until Whendon took his eye off the ball, and the characters started changing personality from week to week depending on each writer’s whim) and I very much liked Firefly and its follow-on film Serenity. So actually, despite it being a musical, it’s no real shock that Horrible, wasn’t for me, well, horrible. The songs integrate well into the plot and given it’s brief 40ish mins – tv episode length – running time, it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 25, 2009 at 11:00 am

Watchmen

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Worth watching the Watchmen?

Worth watching the Watchmen?

So, this is it then, the film of the famously unfilmable, greatest graphic novel evah; the dark, complex, deep and, above all, adult comic book, Watchmen.

So do we have an equally dark, complex, deep and, above all, adult comic-book movie, then? In some ways, possibly – complex, yes; certainly adult enough to get an ‘18′ rating… but overall, no, not really. But then again I don’t think it was ever really possible.

I’ve written about Watchmen in the past, but for the uninitiated: the comic-book (and film) takes place in an alternate reality where, for several decades, costumed vigilantes have battled costumed criminals. It’s the 1980s and Nixon is sat in the White House, able to extend his presidency past two terms on the back of the single truly super-powered individual in the world, Dr Manhattan – a nude, bright blue, post-human demi-god, the result of a scientific experiment gone wrong, who can control all matter and see past, present and future simultaneously – enabling the US to win Vietnam. But the Cold War has not gone away and the world stands of the brink of nuclear armageddon, and the costumed vigilantes – now officially banned – have either retired or gone underground. Then the Comedian, a super-soldier, is murdered; thrown through the window of his high-rise New York apartment by an unknown assailant. Is a ‘cape-killer’ gunning for the ‘Watchmen’ or is a more subtle and sinister plot in effect? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 25, 2009 at 10:49 am

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The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue

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Better get back to the car

Better get back to the car

The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue was an Italian/Spanish originally know as Non Si Deve Profanare Il Sonno Dei Morti (literally ‘Do Not Speak Ill Of The Dead’) and is known as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and Don’t Open The Window in the US.

Made in 1974 it sits, both in content and style, on the border between old school Hammer-type horror of the 60s and the video nasty era of the 80s. There’s plenty of gut-ripping lurid special effects set within something that harks back to an earlier age, plus it’s non-British origins give it a strange, pretty much unique tone. Read the rest of this entry »

Backroom Boys by Francis Spufford

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Backroom Boys

Recently finished Backroom Boys and was a bit disappointed in it to be honest since its been portrayed as the best book on technology in recent years. Admittedly, for the most part, it’s an easy read and there is quite a lot of interest in it – especially the story of the rise of mobile phones – but instead of looking at the hard-core techy bits it mostly dances around the peripheries of its stories looking at the sociological and economic aspects. This is probably why it’s been so highly rated by none-technologists… it’s technology-lite.

When I was a kid I had a poster of Concord on my wall and I always thought it’s one of the sadder aspects of the new century that such an engineering wonder is no longer flying. Spufford’s book has a chapter on Concord… but instead of looking at why is was so ground-breaking in the first place, or the reasons it was stopped from flying so quickly, Spufford concentrates on some economic jiggery-pokery that allowed it to keep going in the 80s. Interesting in itself but I can’t help feeling it’s not the real story.

Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 24, 2009 at 10:07 am

Hands On A Hard Body

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Go Baby Go

Go Baby Go

I sort out Hands On A Hard Body after hearing y, Hands On A Hard Body, Filmit referred to by a couple of documentary directors as a key inspiration for them.

The film follows an endurance competition in East Texas organised to promote a car dealership to win a hard body pickup truck. The rules are simple: you just have to stand next to the truck and keep one gloved hand on it, day in day out for as long as you can with just a few minimal breaks for resting, feeding and watering. Last man (or woman) standing can drive the truck away.

The film concentrates on a few of the more colourful contestants out of the two dozen that start. Stand-outs include an ex-marine, the stoic previous winner of the contest who had latest 80+ hours, an overweight religious fanatic who sings hymns to keep her going, and a missing-teeth hillbilly type who’s equally gapped-tooth husband supports her wearing a home-made cardboard hat. That is when he’s not bragging about the industrial air conditioner he’s installed in his house; that’s an air-conditioner that once cooled an whole store and he claims can now get his house down to freezing temperatures… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

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