Wednesday, 11 January 2017

my last blog post

i'm aware i haven't used this blog since october and even then my posts were fairly irregular so i've decided to formally shut it down. who knows, maybe i'll start blogging again some day, but i don't want it to just sit here abandoned. there's something weird about abandoned blogs; they're like empty houses but with all the stuff belonging to the previous owner left behind. bloggers project an illusion of activity. even writing about something impersonal like film reviews still suggests some activity; that the person writing went out and did a thing, even if that thing most involved sitting down. the blogger lives, as long as they continue to blog. when they stop suddenly it's like the person writing has ceased to exist. i don't want that to happen here so this is me signing off. i still exist, but i'll mostly be existing on twitter and youtube now.

before i go i thought i'd write one last post. it's part blogging history, part blogging highlights and it will be long, but probably shorter than if you were to read my whole blog from day one. probably.

my first post is dated 20th september 2014, but it's not the best place to start. i wrote more of an introduction in my review of chill (because i didn't want to write about the film) so there's more about me there if you're interested. i don't know why you would be, i'm not that interesting. i'd been offline for a long time at that point due to a hacking/cyberbullying incident that i talked about later. i'd intended to stay offline, but i just couldn't shake the idea that i could be a success on youtube. that sounds so fucking idiotic when i read it back, but it was true. i felt like it was my calling; like i couldn't possibly do anything else. if i'd known then what i know now... anyway, that's youtube, let's stay focused on the blog.

when i started i didn't really know what i was doing. i reviewed films, music, video games, books, live shows and even reality tv (if anyone wants to start a petition for most haunted to bring back dr. john callow i'll share the fuck out of that thing). i wasn't ready to start making my own content on youtube at that point but i decided to do what i thought was the next best thing - i interviewed some youtubers. there was morgan gleave, amber goluckie, bianca allaine and george reece. just over a year later george appeared on my youtube channel and i interviewed him in person -

towards the end of 2014 i was starting to receive emails from publicists and distributors asking if i'd review stuff for them. i turned down these requests at first; i wanted to choose what i wanted to write about and i liked that it didn't have to be whatever was being released that week. then i started to receive emails about really interesting titles from labels like eureka and arrow who were releasing films that i either already loved or wanted to see anyway. so i started reviewing new releases, or in most cases re-releases of cult classics, and suddenly i was a legit film critic.

my personal favourite of these has to be my review of the human centipede 3 (final sequence). i loved that film and i felt like my take on it was a little different to what everyone else was writing about it. that review became one of my most popular posts, the director tom six retweeted it and the star of the film, dieter laser, even called me a genius.

along with the films i was being sent to review i continued to write about titles that interested me or that i thought i had a different take on. see no evil 2 was one of these and another review that was praised by the filmmakers -

i also reviewed the microbudget found-footage film hungerford, which i only mention here because a year later i attended the v.i.p. screening of director drew casson's latest film, darkest dawn -

more on that later.

another blogging highlight is the piece i wrote about the ghostbusters reboot, or more specifically the reaction to the ghostbusters reboot. i got into some juicy arguments on twitter because of that one, something i used to enjoy. i don't enjoy arguing with people on twitter so much anymore. i've realised you have no idea who you're really talking to, and that's not always a good thing. sometimes the internet doesn't seem like much of a fun place at all, which is part of the reason i'm shutting down my blog. i talk a bit about that here, and this is when i'd only just started to have problems -

on a happier note, my personal blogging highlight of last year was the found footage horror blogathon where i wrote about a bunch of found footage movies. i also did a couple of interviews as part of the series, one with michael steinberg who runs and another with warren dudley, who directed the cutting room.

here are a few more of my film reviews that i think are worth checking out, either because they're interesting films or because i have a different take on them -

batman: arkham origins
digging up the marrow
chuck norris vs. communism
nekromantik 2
batman v superman: dawn of justice

my blog activity really started to slow down in july of this year, mostly because an exciting opportunity had come up. teneighty is a magazine that focuses on uk youtube culture and earlier this year i joined their news team. this felt like it was a huge step at the time - suddenly i had an editor and deadlines and it required a level of professionalism i wasn't really used to but that i found really motivating. you can check out everything i wrote for teneighty here, but the real highlights for me were the interviews with carlos montero from youth killed it and with james moran, creator of mina murray's journal. i'm particularly fond of the interview with james because i think re-telling dracula on youtube is such a great idea and i love that the characters exist and interact with their audience on twitter.

then there was the darkest dawn screening i referred to earlier. this was huge for me, it felt like the culmination of all the work i'd put into my writing, starting with that first blog post in september 2014. it felt like i was being taken seriously, and it felt like maybe this was something i could do full time. as a career. i also got to meet some super famous youtubers like bethan leadley and cherry wallis -

and i finally met writer, actor and youtuber paul neafcy who had featured in one of my videos earlier in the year -

it was great to see the film too and to write about it. i think that night was the happiest i've been for a long time. my only regret is that i didn't film it but maybe that's for the best. maybe the memory is better than the reality anyway.

i wrote a couple more pieces for teneighty then i quit. it feels weird saying that after writing about how much i was enjoying it and i really was enjoying it. suddenly it felt like i had prospects and ideas for things i wanted to do. i quit anyway. i won't go into my reasons in great detail here. all you really need to know is in this video -

i may return to writing and blogging at some point, but if i do it will be under a different name and in a different place. the concept of identity and of being myself online used to seem like a big deal to me but i'm not sure it matters anymore. reinvention is the only way i can see myself getting through this, if i can get through it at all.

for now i'd just like to thank everyone who's been reading this blog over the years, especially those who have commented or retweeted and shared the links on twitter. if you want to stay in touch i'd recommend my youtube channel, pazvsstuff. i post videos roughly every two weeks and if you leave a comment i will always reply eventually.

thanks for reading.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016


stigmata follows frankie page (patricia arquette), a young woman enjoying her free and single life in pittsburgh when she is assaulted by nightmarish visions and mysterious wounds on her wrists. a scientist from the vatican, andrew kiernan (gabriel byrne), is tasked with establishing whether frankie has a genuine case of stigmata or something else. what neither of them realise is that frankie’s affliction is linked to a secret that has the potential to tear the catholic church apart.

the structure of stigmata mirrors the exorcist in so much as the victim, frankie, first subjects herself to a barrage of medical tests before seeking help from the church. the story then becomes a battle between byrne's troubled priest and the entity possessing frankie, and though she is more mobile than linda blair we are still never too far from a bed. however, there is much more to stigmata than a reboot of a controversial classic.

although the film tries to focus on andrew's story (as in he is the character with the most defined arc - a priest who must recover his lost faith in order to save the woman he loves) i think frankie is the most interesting thing about it, and it's her character who raises the most questions. firstly, and perhaps most importantly, why her? there is a plot reason to explain why frankie is targeted, in that her mother sends her a rosary as a souvenir unaware that it had been torn from the hands of a dead priest, but what is the narrative reason? much is made of frankie’s lifestyle – the opening titles show her partying with friends, having sex, drinking, smoking and while she doesn’t get to have sex again (despite spending most of the film in bed) cigarettes and alcohol are recurring visual indicators that this is more than basic character background. ultimately, it’s hard not to watch this film without thinking that frankie is being punished for her chosen lifestyle. so the next question is, does the film concur with this punishment or is it a comment on how our society punishes independent women?

two other recurring ideas play into this. one is pregnancy, which frankie initially thinks is the cause of her problems. it’s not explicit but it is implied that this is something she wants, which undermines her seemingly carefree existence. the second is a cancer parallel that is suggested visually when frankie starts to wear a bandana to cover the wounds on her head, as well as by the constant close-ups of cigarettes being lit and extinguished. both ideas have the same implication – there is a deadline; a time limit and at 23 frankie is apparently coming to the end of her allotted free time. again, whether this is a problematic depiction of a young female character or a depressing comment on the way society keeps its women down is really up to the viewer (i'm still undecided, in case you were wondering).

the true plot of stigmata is difficult to go into without giving it away, and there is a neat if predictable twist in the story towards the end. what struck me watching it now are the parallels between possession, demonic or otherwise, and having your social media account hacked. stay with me here, but at a certain point frankie, who appears to look like herself, begins to speak with the voice of another. i’ve had my twitter account hacked a couple of times in the past and the effect is kind of the same – it’s my picture on the profile but not my words. of course, i am slightly obsessed with online profiles right now so i’m obviously bringing my own baggage to this (check out my most recent video for proof) but it’s also really interesting to see how a film from 1999 can be relevant to social and technical developments that didn’t exist when it was made. behind the victimisation of a woman who was doing just fine on her own, this is a film about messages and interpretation – ideas which are more important now than they ever were.

overall i think stigmata is a really interesting film – much more interesting than it was given credit for when it was released. on top of that, arquette and byrne are both great in it and there’s some nostalgia to be enjoyed from the 90s visual style and soundtrack. the blu-ray comes with some fascinating extras including a documentary from the time and an alternate ending that actually makes frankie’s journey seem so much worse in comparison to the original cut. definitely a film worth seeing and an interesting one to revisit if you’ve already seen it because for me there was certainly more to talk about than i remembered.

stigmata is available now from eureka entertainment on blu-ray for the first time in the uk in a dual format edition

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

ghostbusters soundtrack

i'm not going to explain what this movie is again, you can read my review or click here to read about why it's such a big deal. yes, i have dedicated three blog posts to this movie because it's that fucking important.

anyway, now you're all to to speed here's my review of the soundtrack.

theodore shapiro is a composer with an impressive list of credits. starting out with now legendary indie movies, like girlfight and wet hot american summer, he has moved on to score some of the biggest films of the last ten years, like tropic thunder, spy and zoolander 2. while he primarily composes for comedies he does have some more eclectic titles in his back-catalogue like trumbo (excellent film, btw) and jennifer's body. in many ways he's the perfect composer for a movie like ghostbusters with its mix of comedy, action and horror. it's a movie that needs a composer who can easily move between genres.

except shapiro doesn't really move between genres, and that's what makes this score so great. i love how serious the score is; how it really plays up the big epic moments and for the most part feels more like the score for a marvel movie than an action-comedy. listening to the score in isolation you would have no idea that this is the soundtrack to a comedy at all, and probably only a vague idea that there might be a horror element. what i love about this is that it's a choice. tonally, the film itself leans more towards the comedy side than the action or the horror, and yet shapiro excludes almost any hint that this is a comedy from the score. because to do so would undermine the story, and in turn would undermine the importance of this film. (read my two previous posts on this if you need to understand why it's important)

shapiro also does a nice job at incorporating the classic ghostbusters theme. in the film the original theme is played over the opening titles then faded out so quickly it's like they were almost embarrassed to embrace it. of course it returns later with a dubious, modernised cover version but it always feels a little box-ticking and forced. the way shapiro uses it is much more appropriate and he actually manages to make it sound kind of triumphant in tracks like 'battle of times square'. there are also some really standout tracks on the soundtrack, like 'behemoth' which has shades of verdi's requiem, and the suitably grand 'the fourth cataclysm'.

overall this is a bold, almost aggressively epic score that makes a very clear statement - this film needs to be taken seriously, which is perfect because that's exactly what the film is about.

the ghostbusters original motion picture score is available now digitally and on cd

Friday, 22 July 2016


someone caught a pokemon in the office today and everyone got very excited about it.  except they didn't catch a pokemon, did they, because there wasn't actually one there.  except there is a photo of it right there on the fucking photocopier and it's almost like a vortex opened up above my crappy office and two planes of existence met.

so this isn't a review of pokemon go because i can't unsee the body snatchers meme that's going around and also every time someone says pokemon i just hear my boyfriend from when i was thirteen saying 'poke ya mum'.  so i'll review ghostbusters instead.

when melissa mccarthy, playing abby, quotes an internet critic as saying, "ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts," the reality of the internet criticism that the 2016 ghostbusters actors face briefly touches the reality that the 2016 ghostbusters characters are up against in the film.  this creates the paradox of the characters being the 'real' ghostbusters, and the actors merely pretending.  it's paul feig's way of reminding us that reality isn't about truth, it's the layers we are willing to accept overlaid on truth that create reality.  it's his way of reminding us that this film is fucking important.

(if you don't get why this is fucking important, i explained it all in a previous post)

ghostbusters is that great modern tradition, a reboot, of a much-loved 80s classic kids movie about four men who pretty much accidentally become a ghost-hunting force that ends up saving new york from a giant evil marshmallow.  this new film opens on a scene in a kind of disney-fied historical house with a guide telling a spooky story to the visitors when a candlestick falls from a dresser.  after the visitors have gone, we can see this for what it really is - a trick.  but what follows leads him to erin gilbert, an eminent physicist who is trying to hide her paranormal-dabbling past from her bosses at the university. in desperation she hunts out her old friend abby, who continues to pursue proof that ghosts exist with the help of her engineer side-kick jillian holtzmann.  with their careers riding on it they team up with amateur historian patty, who kits them out with some boiler suits and a hearse, and before long they've got an office/lab, a rather familiar logo, and a pretty but hopeless receptionist. and they are going to need it all and some luck besides, to save new york from the threat of an ancient evil being summoned by an embittered bell boy.

except of course, what it's really about is what is real, what do we accept as real, and what do we do when our understanding of reality is challenged?  there are countless references to the original film which seems to neither exist as reality nor as a movie in the world of ghostbusters 2016, yet it is a reality we as an audience bring to the cinema with us.  the reality kevin the receptionist occupies appears to be different from our own.  when two characters are possessed by an evil ghost, what is real takes on another dimension.  feig again is telling us to examine and critique our own reality; that in this escapism, what we can't escape is the framework of references ingrained in us all.  fuck, it's a story about invisible entities embittered that their voices aren't heard; about an audience being tricked into thinking they are seeing the real thing, the establishment desperately trying to maintain the status quo, until the climax happens and the ghostbusters do their thing, but the hauntings can't be unseen, they are there in the public consciousness.  let me spell it out for you - it's a bit like casting four women as the heroes in a summer blockbuster.

plot-wise, i'll be honest, it is a little thin, but i'll refer you back to the giant evil marshmallow. there were also a few moments, notably a pretty long moment at the metal concert, which felt a bit awkward.  feig is definitely at his most confident working with just one or two actors and while his four ghostbusters are a dream-team of comedic talent they also have real acting chops and it would have been nice to see the material stretch them a little further.  for the first twenty minutes or so, all the jokes were pretty self-consciously 'woman jokes', but let's give them a break, no one has ever made a film about four women doing something other than getting married so it was always going to take them a while to warm up.  once they got ghostbusting, i actually laughed out loud (i never laugh out loud) on more than one occasion, and i wasn't the only one.  i especially liked the 'sad, lonely women who read 'eat, pray, love' and ran with it.'

and ten-year-old me fucking loved holtzmann (kate mckinnon).  she's like the manic pixie dream girl who got pissed off with fixing up the adorable hopeless men and became a supercharged pixie goddess mechanic.  i saw a link to some internet ramblings on 'the truth about her sexuality' and i don't fucking care.  actually i really liked that the movie didn't give any of the ghostbusters private lives at all. and that they were dressed, all the way through.  i mean, four women wearing boiler suits, just because that's what the script demands.  it's amazing, and sad that it passes for groundbreaking, but it does. there were lots of moments like this, positive 'this is incredible' moments that also stood out because they should have been so ordinary.  the film passed the reverse bechdel test so easily (two male characters, with names, talking to each other, about something other than a woman) that it made me really fucking angry all over again that this is all but impossible for so many blockbusters when applied to women.

ghostbusters is by no means a perfect film, and people wanting to find flaws will definitely find them.  but people wanting to watch a fun kids film about ghosts invading new york stopped by a team of unlikely supreheroes will not be disappointed.  and by watching it, you might just change the world a little bit too.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

sitc awards...

so last week summer in the city, the annual uk youtuber mega-gathering, announced they would be holding an awards ceremony as part of this years event. if you want the full story, teneighty reported it here.

i didn't think all that much of it until a couple of people on twitter mentioned that they'd voted for me in the 'breakthrough' category. and then i had an idea.

what i'm about to ask for is incredibly cheeky, borderline arrogant and in all honestly, will probably fail. but what the fuck, i'm going to do it anyway.

i've been uploading videos to my youtube channel for about ten months now. i actually started not long after attending summer in the city last year. the description of the breakthrough award is 'awarding an online creator for whom 2016 was the start of something big!' well, my channel may not be huge in youtube terms but it's been huge for me. i've made a bunch of new friends, i've gained way more confidence that i had before and i'm making stuff. i love the making stuff part, maybe a little too much which is why it takes me so long.

i'll be the first to admit i have something of a love/hate relationship with the youtube community. i feel like the clash between commerce vs. art is happening on youtube more than anywhere else right now. i also feel like the youtube i fell in love with; the youtube that made me want to make videos in the first place, doesn't really exist anymore. at the same time, as i reach the end of my first year on there i feel more connected to that community than ever before. but let's be honest, i swear too much and i've been quite aggressively rude about youtube culture in my videos so i'm hardly going to be nominated for an award anytime soon.

unless you guys help.

the fact is, i don't have all that many subscribers, i am a #smallyoutuber despite my best efforts to make my channel bigger. but i do have some solid support on twitter. i think with enough of a push i could make it onto that nominations list. maybe this isn't the right way to go about things, maybe i shouldn't be lobbying for votes, but fuck it, if there's even a small chance i could be on that list i'm going to have to fight for it. i've checked out who others have voted for in this category and most of them would probably only have to tweet about it once to win by a landslide. there are guys with 100k subs going for it, and that's why i'm going to have to be a little more persistent. or annoying, depending on how you look at it.

that's why i hope you'll get behind me, because if i can do this there's hope for anyone starting out on youtube. let's make that breakthrough award a true breakthrough. let's give them something different.

if you're still with me, here are the haps.

the nominations are open until july 27th, so we have exactly one week to pull this off.

nominations are open to fans, which basically means anyone. you don't appear to have to be attending summer in the city to put in your nominations. you do need to sign up for an account on their website but it's pretty straightforward.

to sign up for an account you just need your name, e-mail address and password. it doesn't say whether they add you to their mailing list when you register, but even if they do they don't send out emails all that often and it will be easy to unsubscribe if you're not interested.

you then need to vote for each category in turn. if you don't have any thoughts on a particular category there's a button to skip to the next one.

the breakthrough category is the last one, that's where you put 'paz vs stuff''

if you could also mention on twitter that you voted for me with #sitcawards2016 that would also be incredible. hopefully we'll pick up a few extra votes that way.

so like i said, i appreciate this is an incredibly big ask, i'm sure you all had better things to do with your time than read this but this is incredibly important to me and i am eternally grateful for your support.

and finally apologies in advance if my tweeting incessantly about this becomes rather annoying after a while, but it's only for a week, then normal service shall be resumed.

thank you!

Friday, 15 July 2016

queen of earth

queen of earth follows troubled artist catherine (elisabeth moss) who moves to her best friend virginia's (katherine waterston) lake house to recover from losing her father and breaking up with her boyfriend. however, being in a place with so many memories seems to accelerate catherine's disintegration rather than giving her space to heal. but ignore this synopsis, because the only way to enjoy this film is to go with it and see what it does to you.

it's difficult to write about queen of earth without making comparisons to films like repulsion or lets scare jessica to death as it has a similar atmosphere and comparable intent. this is a film that aims to get inside the head of someone who is losing their mind. it is a horror film in so much as it depicts something horrible in a way that is terrifying, but at the same time shows much more restraint than those other films. catherine's madness comes on so gradually that it's not clear what's really happening or what the film is even about until it's too late both for her and the audience. when catherine realises the full extent of her condition we share the shock and the horror of that moment and that's what makes this film work.

queen of earth is not an easy film to watch at times. it has a kind of broken structure, where scenes from different parts of the timeline are shuffled so that we often don't know how much time has passed or whether we're seeing something from the present or the past. the film hangs on title cards indicating days of the week to give us some sense of consistency, but even these become meaningless by the end. and yet this is all part of director alex ross perry's plan to bring the audience into catherine's head. the occasional time jumps or unnannounced flashbacks make the viewer feel as disorientated as catherine herself must feel.

what really makes this work are the two central performances. elisabeth moss is fantastic as catherine, giving her a humanity that keeps us hoping for the best even when we know the worst is happening behind her eyes. she portrays her breakdown with that same restraint that the story requires and this makes it feel all the more real. there is also a brilliant performance by katherine waterston as cateherine's best friend, virginia. waterston plays katherins as cold and distant for most of the film, but when she realises and accepts what's happening to her friend her reaction is truly heartbreaking. patrick fugit also does a great job as an antagonistic neighbour.

as much as this is a film about paranoia and madness, and as much as there are easy comparisons here to horror movies and psychological thrillers, ultimately this is a story about friendship; it's about the things we take for granted in a friendship, and the things we don't realise we need until it's too late. it's about two women dealing with life, and the madness, when it comes, is the type of madness we can all relate to. with queen of earth, alex ross perry has made a film that starts to get under your skin from the opening titles and will stay with you for days afterwards.

queen of earth is available now on dual format (blu-ray and dvd) from eureka entertainment.