Friday, 31 October 2014

y: the last man

so i finally finished reading y: the last man. my feelings about finishing it are kind of ambivalent. i mean, i loved it, i loved the characters, i loved going on this journey with them and now it's over and i have to carry on with my life. and that's kind of what the story is about.

the story is about this young dude called yorick who is the last surviving man after a plague wipes out all the other men in the world. he then travels the globe with his bodyguard, 355, and a scientist, dr. mann, hoping to find a cure for the plague and also be reunited with his girlfriend. the series is collected in ten books, which is how i read it.

there are some really clever and interesting ideas about gender in this story. for example, one problem the characters have to deal with is how to move between countries when there are no planes. why are there no planes? because most of the pilots were men so most of the planes fell out of the sky when the plague hit. the world without men setting provides a constant source of questions and notions about how men have shaped our world and what it would look like without them. at the same time, the writer, brian k vaughan, never seeks to answer these questions outright, it's more about giving the reader something to think about. it is never suggested that a world without men is somehow better than the world we have now, and in some ways there seems to be many of the same problems, but it's certainly no worse off.

the thing is, the story isn't really about that. mostly it's a love story, and it's not the love story you think it's going to be. i'll try not to spoil it, but i cried a lot at the end (and i was in public, so that's awkward). it's the characters that really make the story work. they're cool people to be around and i grew to love all of them. the story is so epic that they all feel like they've changed so much since first appearing. they have suffered tragedy after tragedy but they keep moving, and that's what it's all about. this isn't a story about the world ending. it's about what you do when you think the world ended. it's about how you carry on and build a new world. it's not about survival, it's about evolution, and that's something everyone should be able to relate to.

somehow you must find a copy of this comic-book series and read it immediately. it is that good.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


graywalkers is a 3d rpg about the survivors of an apocalyptic event that caused parts of heaven and hell to be merged with our world. if that's a difficult concept to get your head around, here's a handy video.

so basically there are demons and bad things and you fight them with guns and swords and stuff. there is a combat demo you can download from the official site, which is well worth checking out. the characters are pretty out there in terms of style, one carries a ghetto blaster that you wouldn't imgaine being all that practical in a post-apocalyptic world but it says all you need to know about the visual style of the game. although xcom is the most cited reference point, the characters make it feel more like the recent shadowrun reboot. this isn't a bad thing and it's nice to play something new that still feels familiar. it's easy to get into the demo and understand how it all works within a few minutes. it also has an awesome metal soundtrack.

i have to say, i mostly play games for the story and though the combat demo is shiny and fun i'm more interested in the world. the idea of hell opening its gates is one that has been explored in countless games (most notably clive barker's jericho, although a more interesting take was in the point-and-click adventure game hell which took place in a world where demons were just part of society. that game had some fantastic concepts, like there was a character who was mapping out hell, and there was a demon who ran a nightclub played by dennis hopper. anyway, check it out if you're interested). this device allows the developers to include lots of supernatural bad guys like vampires, zombies etc. but what's really interesting about this story is the inclusion of heaven in the cataclysmic event, so humanity (and by extension, the player characters) are caught up in an eternal war, with the game taking place in a neutral area appropriately named purgatory. i'm interested to see how this storyline plays out in the game as it has potential for some epic narrative moments. there is also mention on the site about emergent gameplay, with the actions of the player being able to affect the story and the world, i guess a bit like mass effect. and with heaven and hell in the mix the story certainly has the potential to be as epic and existential as the one in mass effect.

based on the concept art, the demo and the details about the game on the website, graywalkers is shaping up to be something very fucking cool indeed and is definitely worth checking out. right now the developers are seeking extra funding on kickstarter to help speed up the development process. if you're interested they have some awesome rewards. you can check out their page here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


so in case you missed it, gotham is a show about gotham before batman, told mostly through the eyes of a young jim gordon. it features younger versions of all the famous batman characters (in the first episode we had riddler, penguin, catwoman, poison ivy and probably some others i missed) that kind of play like cameos even though they're not famous actors. it sets up the killing of bruce wayne's parents as a central mystery and also corruption in the police force as jim gordon's ongoing challenge, although because of it's roots it plays more like a comic book than a police procedural.

it's hard to know how to review a tv show from the pilot, because it will obviously change and develop from here, but here are my thoughts on the first episode. for a start i struggled with the concept a bit. i always loved the idea that batman created the villains in his world, an idea that's been explored in the comics but also in the nolan trilogy (which i fucking love to death) and even tim burton's film. so the idea that these villains already exist in the world and batman will come into existence because of them was tough to get my head around at first, until i realised that obviously that's how the story was originally. the villains only existing because of batman is a kind of post-modern, revisionist (yes i did some film theory at uni) idea that only really exists when you try to write a batman story that takes into account the entire history of batman. gotham is really taking it back to the beginning. the end of the series, presumably, will be batman existing and i think what's interesting is, is that a happy ending or a tragic ending? what i mean is, if batman has to exist then our hero, jim gordon, must fail. so it's a series about watching someone fail? i'm overanalysing, i know, but i think it's really interesting.

i also thought the idea of this corrupt police force and cops being worse than the bad guys is interesting in a post-ferguson world. there's a lot of mistrust of the police in the real world these days, and whether it's a good thing to have a tv show that reinforces that idea is a good thing or not, i'm not sure, but it does raise some questions. and i like the more adult approach to the show, despite a lot of what is happening being a bit fantastical and silly. i never really got into smallville, i always found it a bit too lightweight, whereas this at least has the illusion of darkness and substance even if at its heart it's just a show about cops hitting people.

my only criticism is that it moves a bit too fast. i know it's a pilot so they had to try and tell a story in one episode but i would've liked to have maybe understood the role of the waynes in the world before they were killed, and maybe get to know a bit more about gordon before he arrives. even the penguin seems to go from henchman to psycho in record time, although i am interested to see how that plays out. i guess that was my main feeling after the credits rolled - i want to see how this plays out. that has to be a good thing.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

the wolfman

it's a bit too late to be writing reviews but i wanted to get this out while it's fresh in my head. however, i'm really tired so this may be a bit rambly. i watched the 2010 version of the wolfman and it was quite an odd film. parts of it were amazing; the casting for one. benicio del toro is awesome as laurence talbot, anthony hopkins and emily blunt are both on good form and hugo weaving is amazing as inspector abberline (a historical cameo - abberline was one of the lead investigators in the jack the ripper murders, like in real life, not just that johnny depp film where jack the ripper is played by bilbo baggins and depp's abberline has to team up with hagrid to stop him). it looks great, like if a hammer film was made today, all massive, spooky houses and fog-drenched woodlands. some of the effects were great too. but it didn't hold together all that well and i think that may be down to stealing it's plot from teen wolf ( the 1985 movie, not the tv series). i mean it's a less violent version of teen wolf but the moment (***spoiler***) when anthony hopkins tells del toro he is a werewolf is almost exactly the same as the bathroom scene in teen wolf where michael j fox's dad reveals himself. it's like teen wolf with more deaths, and without the riding on top of a truck scene. it was also really difficult to sympathise with anyone. del toro's character can't be held respsonsilbe for killing people as a wolfman but the violence is so extreme it's hard to really sympathise with him, which leaves abberline but our feelings towards him are mixed because we know he's out to get del toro. other films have got this right, like the original wolfman or an american werewolf in london, but it didn't work here for me. it was also way too long for a story which, in terms of plot points, could have been done in half an hour. that said, i'd still recommend checking it out. it's definitely interesting and there's enough that's good here to make it worthwhile. it does a good job of capturing the spirit of vintage horror movies, although it definitely feels more hammer than universal.

Friday, 10 October 2014

two boys kissing by david levithan

i actually finished reading this before 'looking for jj' but didn't get chance to blog at the time.  actually thinking about it, this is another ya book that's not that fluffy either but it is an excellent read.  it's the story of several different, unconnected gay teenage boys, all watched over by a chorus of men who died of aids.  (can you say aids victims?  you wouldn't say cancer victim, would you?)  i really liked this part of the book, i suppose i'd never really thought about how it must have felt for those men, and you probably wouldn't get teenagers to read a novel about what it would have been like to live through it in the 80s and 90s, so its quite a good way of sneaking the subject into the novel.  it could get a bit abstract and over-poetic at times, but i thought it was a cool idea.

but the main action of the novel centres around the two boys kissing, craig and harry, attempting the world record for longest kiss.  all the action takes place from the night before the record attempt to the conclusion of the kiss, and it drives through a story which otherwise might feel quite bitty.  i was there with them, cheering them on but also experiencing the tiredness, the aches and pains, the bladder discomfort... alongside their stories we also meet avery and ryan, from their first glance across the room to their second date; committed, comfortable couple neil and peter; tariq, friend of the would-be longest kissers and victim of homophobic violence; and isolated, desperate cooper who needs a way out.  what's striking is that there is something for every single teenager to relate to, gay or straight or bi or whatever.  I wanted to race to the end of the novel because i wanted craig and harry to be able to take a break and sleep, but also i didn't want to leave the characters, i wanted to find out what happened to everyone else afterwards - not just in the immediate future but what kinds of adults they turned out be.  the only negative thing i can say about it is that, unsurprisingly given the subject matter, it was really male-centric, to the point of excluding women and girls, and i keep asking myself whether this exclusion was justified - a question i haven't been able to answer yet. but this is one of those books that you think everyone in the world should read, it would be a better place if they did.

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Thursday, 9 October 2014


short films are usually very 'on the nose' when it comes to the visuals. if you only have 10-15 minutes to tell a story you want to tell it in as economic a way as possible. beginner filmmakers tend to tell the story through dialogue only and have the characters explain what we should be seeing, while more accomplished directors realise that film is a visual medium and tell the story with images. but it takes a certain level of talent and innovation to make a film that tells a story with what the audience doesn't see and doesn't hear.

for most of the film we don't see joshua's face; the camera lurks over his shoulder and the film cuts away every time we are about to catch a glimpse of what he looks like. similarly, joshua's narration bears seemingly no resemblence to what we're seeing, and doesn't really have any drive on the story. early conversations between joshua and his friend don't quite make sense at first, because we're not seeing the full picture. and then the film turns and we realise what the story is about and we realise what all those random moments were showing us and what joshua has been talking about the whole time. i don't want to reveal it here because the less you know about joshua going in the better, but it is pretty shocking.

what's great about this film is that the ending is not a random twist added onto a deliberately misleading narrative. on second viewing the intention and the direction of the story seem clear as day. and that's why the film works so well, because it hides it's dark secrets in plain sight. and in doing so and keeping the unimaginable horror of those unseen moments hidden away, the truth is even more jarring and disturbing that it otherwise would have been.

tim porter has done a fantastic job with joshua. it feels like it has been meticulously planned and worked out in order to deliver the story with maximum efficiency. the narrative style is a little difficult to get into at first but it needs to be. the film looks great too, and the central performances are fantastic. but don't take my word for it, you can watch the film right here...

Joshua from Tim Porter on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

my name is stacy algavara

my name is stacy algavara is a short film written and directed by daisy turvey.  the film tells the story of a young woman who is kidnapped and tortured by a serial killer and the subsequent efforts to catch the killer following her murder. parts of the film are narrated by the murdered woman, the stacy algavara of the title, who managed to write a note before she died that she hopes will help identify her killer.

the film is shot in black-and-white and looks really quite stylish in its best moments. the footage of the murdered stacy in the opening sequence is particularly well shot and very effective.  video effects are put to good use, with extreme close-ups and over-exposed shots really adding to the atmosphere. one of the strongest parts of the film is stacy's narration which carries us through the story.  her final words really articulate the idea of knowing you're going to die and wanting to do something, anything about it.  the actress playing stacy, samantha mysel, really gets the emotion across in her reading.  the idea at the centre of the film is a good one and it's refreshing to see a victim take such a subtle revenge.

personally i could've done without some of the police station scenes. the actors looked the part but whether it was their performance or the dialogue in those scenes they didn't quite work for me. i think there could be a much tighter, more stylised film here if the only dialogue you heard was stacy's narration and this played over a montage of the police station scenes to give us the story, but that's just me.

i do think this is a really interesting short film with a fantastic idea at its heart backed up with a well written and well performed monologue. if any of this sounds interesting please do check out the film below and let me know what you thought in the comments.

looking for jj by anne cassidy

a friend told me i had to read this ages ago but i only just got around to it.  i love a good thriller so i thought this would be right up my street, and i did really like it but it wasn’t what i expected.  basically you start reading this book and you know the main character, in her late teens, is somehow connected to the murder of a child several years ago.  you find out pretty early on that she was the killer.  it’s all been in the papers because the killer has recently been released under a new identity, and of course there are people out to try and find her.  you get alice’s new life and the story of what led jennifer jones to kill someone when she was ten told in parallel.  it’s a really powerful story with lots of interesting ideas about guilt and punishment, and why children do things so horrible we just can’t imagine.  i suppose i thought it would be more about tracking alice down and revealing her identity, but it was more about how she dealt with her new life in the present and her life in the past.  really thought-provoking and pretty dark – which isn’t that surprising when you think about the subject matter but i read a lot of ya fiction – did i say it’s ya? – and i guess a lot of what i’ve read recently has been a bit, er, fluffier.  i didn’t love it while i was reading it but i finished it like a week ago and I keep thinking about it.  so i guess ‘haunting’ would be the word.  i’ve just found out there’s a sequel and i’ll definitely be giving it a try.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


so i'm still new to this and haven't quite thought it all through. i set myself a rule when i started - that for every movie i watched or comic book i read or videogame i played since starting the blog I would write a review. i also set another rule, because i'm tired of everyone using the internet to bash things they dislike. i decided i would only write about things i like, because i mostly ignore negative reviews but will always take recommendations. and because there are enough people hating on stuff already. this was okay, because the last few films i've watched or albums i've listened to have been pretty good. until last night.

i picked up this movie called chill in a pound shop, because it had a smart cover and starrred ashley laurence who was in hellraiser. also it's based on cool air, the lovecraft story that was also adapted as part of that necronomicon anthology film. had to be okay, right?

it was pretty bad. there was good stuff in there, i even made a list, but i couldn't face potentially recommending something this shoddy. i also don't want to write a long, ranty blog about something i didn't enjoy all that much. so here's a new rule.

if i see something i don't like i'm not going to review it, but i will post a blog. i'll just write about something else instead. maybe something about me.

i live in brighton. it's my favourite place in the world. i moved here to go to uni but i decided to stay afterwards. i mean, it wasn't much of a decision. there's so much going on here. you don't have to walk far in town before you see someone doing something creative or weird or both. living here feels like exciting things could happen every time you walk out of your front door. and a lot of times, they do.

i have a very dull job, which i'll try not to talk about here too much. i got myself into quite a bit of debt while i was a student, like most students i suppose, but i really went for it. so i have to work, and the first work i found is this job i'm in now and it sucks but i need it. i could/should probably find something different but i never have the time, you know, i work 9 to 5, sometimes evenings and weekends too, so when i get home i just want to watch movies, not trawl websites looking for a marginally better job than i have now. anyway, the people there are okay, which is good cos most of my uni friends moved away after they finished. i go out a lot, which is the other reason i never have any money. this is turning into a downer, how did i get onto this?

oh yeah, so brighton's amazing and totally worth having a crappy job to pay to live here. there's this kevin smith movie coming out, tusk, and it's all based on this ad posted on gumtree by this brighton poet dude chris parkinson who put it up as a hoax. there's a whole history to this which you can find if you google it, but basically i was on my lunch break one day and i'm listening to kevin smith's podcast where he's talking about this ad and basically coming up with the idea for the movie, and the ad is all about an old guy living in a house overlooking queens park who wants a lodger he can dress up as a walrus (seriously, google it). so i'm listening to this and i think 'i've never been to queens park' but it's near where i work so i head over there. and suddenly i'm standing in this beautiful park lined with creepy old houses listening to kevin smith and scott mosier talking about a movie idea based on a guy who lives there (kind of, he changed the setting to canada but at the time i really thought i was standing on a future kevin smith movie location). i'm not sure where this is going, but i suppose what i'm trying to say is brighton is the kind of place where things like that happen. it feels like there are exciting possibilites around every corner, and that's why i choose to live here.

i've probably rambled on too much, and this most likely isn't interesting for anyone, but i'll stick to the rules. everytime i have to review something i didn't like i'll write about myself instead.