Tuesday, 30 September 2014

a new nature - esben and the witch

i realise most of my reviews are overwhelmingly positive. i do listen to and watch stuff that is shit, but why would anyone care about that? if you're interested you'll check it out anyway, and if you're not then i've just reaffirmed your uninformed deprecation. at least this way you might be inspired to check out something you never heard of before, like esben and the witch.

i've been listening to a lot of moody, experimental music recently, cos winter is coming i guess (unintentional game of thrones reference)? dunno. feels right.  anyway, i came across esben and the witch on bandcamp. they have a website and stuff. at first glance they look like a basic three-piece - drums, guitar, bass and vocals - but their sound is kind of cinematic, and bigger than you would expect from three people playing actual instruments. cinematic is the wrong word, because i don't mean like hans zimmer/john williams cinematic. i think i'm saying that because they recently performed a live score to that argentinian silent film, la antena. but even though these are songs in the traditional sense the music feels like it's the soundtrack to something, like you can imagine it playing in the background of every jim jarmusch film ever made. i'm so far away from my point now i'm not sure it still fits, but three-piece vs. cinematic sounds like a contradiction, and that's what i like about the album - it's full of contradictions. my favourite track is called the jungle. it's fifteen minutes long with this huge, epic intro but when it kicks off i found it to be one of their most accessible songs. and while the lyrics seem to be describing an actual jungle, the sound conjures up this oppressive, industrial setting with the repetetive drums sounding more like machinery in a factory than anything in anture, or that's what it did for me anyway. then there's another contradiction with the track those dreadful hammers which feels like it's going to be this epic, half-hour dirge but is actually the shortest track on the album. this unwillingness to stick to a formula is really refreshing and makes a new nature one of the most interesting albums i've heard in a while. also the video for dig your fingers in is amazing.

Monday, 29 September 2014

a horrible way to die

a while ago i saw this movie, you're next. it was amazing. i don't go back and review stuff i saw before i started the blog, but you should check it out. slasher films are really, really hard to get right. in fact the only films i've seen recently that get it right are you're next and the cold prey films (check those out too). director adam wingard and writer simon barrett are being talked about a lot at the moment because their new movie, the guest, is out and is getting good reviews. one day i will check that out, but i like watching old stuff so i tracked down one of their earlier films, a horrible way to die. it's not what i expected; i thought it would be another revisionist slasher film like you're next. instead it's like an arthouse drama with stabby bits. however, it is still amazing, and further proof that wingard and barrett and whoever else they're working with are on top of their game. so here's what happens, there's an ex-alcoholic woman, sarah, and she starts dating this guy in her aa meetings. then there's a serial killer, garrick turrell, who's escaped from prison and is on a killing spree. although the narrative jumps about a bit, it soon becomes clear there is a connection between turrell and sarah and then there is a very unexpected (if you're me) reveal at the end. here's what's great about the film -

- it's disorientating as fuck. the story jumps around all over the place to begin with and this is mirrored by the handheld camera, which is constantly on the move and when it does settle seems to focus on a random light or person's arm rather than a face. it's frustrating at first, but the effect works and it really puts across how the characters are feeling and gets you into their heads.

- it's a film about addiction. sarah's struggle with alcohol addiction is mirrored by turrell's struggle with having to kill people. the scenes where sarah hits the booze and turrell takes another victim are played the same way. and it really works as an original and thought-provoking analogy.

- it's a tragic love story. again, spoilers here. so we find out turrell is sarah's ex partner. the thing is, they're kind of made for each other. it seems that in the end, they come to understand each other through their addictions, and though the film leaves it ambiguous, i think the characters really were in love, despite what they know about each other at the end. i found it profoundly sad.

- the actors are all fucking awesome and the music is fantastic.

of all the films i've watched recently this one made me think the most and was the most interesting. you should go watch it now.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


i feel like i'm growing up, which feels odd to say when the thing that made me think it is a disney film. i was never into disney films as a kid. i couldn't deal with all the fucking singing and anthropomorphised toilet brushes. but i'd heard a lot about frozen and don't like feeling like i'm missing out on some phemonenon or other so thought i'd check it out. loved it. so in case you haven't seen it, there's this princess with mad ice skills and her sister who doesn't have any skills apart from being nice and a bit sassy, and the ice princess loses her shit and turns the whole country to ice so her sister has to sort it out. and there's a prince and another dude and a talking snowman. everyone sings a lot, but it's like old school muscial singing where the characters can't express themselves through words so they have to sing how they're feeling. i can be down with that. the songs are really good too. it's all really good. it's like even if you're not a fan of disney musicals, and i'm not, this is the perfect version of that genre so even if you're not enjoying it, and i was, you can't help but appreciate how fucking perfectly crafted it all is. it's funny too; there are some really good gags in there and it's hard to make me laugh at things in kids films. then to top it all off, there's this badass feminist ending, which i won't spoil just in case but like everything else it's perfect. i cried, obviously. i cry at a lot of things. i'm sure i'm late to the party but go see it if you haven't already. it's like the citizen kane of disney films.

most haunted

i'm slightly obsessed with the new series of most haunted right now. it's amazing. i used to watch repeats of old episodes and i always thought it was dumb. nothing ever happened until the psychic dude came in and got 'possessed'. but now it's gone crazy. shit gets thrown everywhere, the crew randomly collapse, there are voices and endless bangs and knocks, and a chair moved. a fucking chair moved! on camera. it's like the ghosts decided that they were being outdone by those american shows like ghost adventures where shit happens all the time so they decided to up their game. but the best thing about the new series us the skeptic, dr john callow. i wasn't sure about him at first. he's always wearing the same clothes in the same shot so they clearly locked him in an editing room and made him watch the whole series back to back and then demanded his cynical comments. but his comments aren't that cynical. he basically says the same thing every time, that if you go into a spooky building and switch all the lights off and you're looking for ghosts you will believe every noise or movement is a ghost. but actually, that is all you really need to say. it's funny, i don't believe in ghosts but i like buying into the fact that they're real, just for the duration of most haunted. then dr john callow comes on and reminds me it's all nonsene. i think i'm a little bit in love with him. he seems to get a lot of shit online and it's not fair. they should take him on a haunt, i think he'd be cool on location. he has a website, I'm thinking of writing to him, to show him he has an actual fan. he'd like that, wouldn't he? maybe not. i'm probably not going to write to him. probably.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

time crimes

time crimes gets time travel right by keeping it contained. it reminded me a lot of primer. there's a guy who through a bizarre set of circumstances ends up travelling back in time to a few hours previously. he then finds himself orchestrating the same bizarre set of circumstances to ensure he doesn't mess up his future. the whole thing becomes an allegory for how some mistakes can't be fixed, and how sometimes shit happens and you just have to deal. it's very clever in the way it's put together, and the lead actor does a great job at being sympathetic despite the fact that he makes some awful choices. he also spends half the film with bandages over his face looking like darkman, which is awesome. it all feels more realistic than most time travel films because it's so small scale - the whole adventure takes place in two houses and in a nearby forest. at the same time it feels super-complicated and makes your head hurt thinking about how it works, which is what all good time travel films should do.


found this on bandcamp. i'm not the biggest blackmetal fan in the world but this is amazing. first of all there's no band, just one woman, which i didn't know from listening to it. secondly, i expected the usual dark, repeating riffs and screeching vocals and that's all present and correct, but that's not what you hear first. most of the tracks open with these haunting vocals that really draw you in and create an atmosphere. there's a mystery to it, only added to by the music video for nattens barn which deliberately conceals the face of the singer (don't do what i did and google it because turns out her identity isn't a big secret anymore - mystery ruined). it has a sinister feel to it as well, like it was made by actual witches. anyway, the self-titled ep is on bandcamp, you should go listen to it, it's really good and very different. here's the video...

Sunday, 21 September 2014

urban ghost story

found this in a charity shop in bristol, thought it looked interesting. it kind of is. it's about this teenage girl living in a council flat in glasgow who thinks her family is being haunted. the usual stuff happens with séances and scientists and scenes form poltergeist. what makes this different is that it's about a low income family and the 'haunting' seems to represent a few different things. all the characters seem to be haunted by their past in one form or another, and it takes coming to terms with their actions that eventually gets rid of the ghost, rather than an exorcism or anything like that. this is okay, but i would've liked more ghost stuff. the urban realism stuff was a bit heavy handed in places and the ghost stuff never seemed to escalate, everything felt like it was on the same level from start to finish. it was a bit different, though, so gets points for that. also jason connery, son of sean, actually does a pretty good job as a journalist trying to help the family, although he might just stand out cos he's the only character with a real arc.

Saturday, 20 September 2014


it was coming up to midnight so i decided to watch something french and weird. livid did not disappoint. probably the most messed up movie i've seen in a long time. it's hard to review without giving too much away. there's an old woman in a coma in an old house and her young care worker finds out she may have her fortune hidden away somewhere. so she and her two friends break into the house at night to steal the old woman's money. except what they find inside the house...so messed up. there's a really slow build-up so by the time they break into the house, about halfway through, i was already on edge. you know something bad is going to happen to them, but what actually happens is lots of very unexpected somethings. there are moments of extreme, ridiculous gore, contrasted with surreal, creepy set pieces and some really moving sequences too. every time i thought i knew what was coming the story changed direction and something else happened instead. really inventive too. definitely worth checking out. i'm a little afraid of switching the lights off now...

hello internet...

people keep telling me i should do one of these so here goes. i like stuff. most of it's old stuff. not really old, just like not brand new, cos I can never afford new stuff so most of what I have is second-hand or borrowed. maybe it will make you want to check out something you missed. maybe i'll have an awesome, fresh and original reviewing style that will keep you coming back for more, even when i'm reviewing shit you stopped caring about in the 90s. maybe no one will ever read this and i can tell the people who told me to do it that the reason i never did it was because no one would read it, and now i've proved it and can get on with just liking old stuff without writing about it. maybe i'll never write another post after this one. if you are reading this please leave me a comment or whatever, and i'm on twitter (something else people kept telling me to do), i'm @pazvsstuff so follow me if you care.

wish me luck...