Oct 242014

Today, for some random reason, I decided to watch 21 Jump Street


Things I know going in:

  1. It’s probably a comedy. Or, like, a funny drama.
  2. It’s about police? I guess it might be a buddy cop movie?
  3. So I’m not holding out much hope.


The opening scenes of this film did nothing for me. It wasn’t funny, or particularly interesting. I liked Eminem when I was in school, but I never saw a kid obsessed enough to do the whole Slim Shady bit he does here.

No, but, really?

Really? Really?


Lots of cliche Nerd vs Jock stuff. Then I realised those guys were in High School after I left, and so I went down a road of holy shit I’m old.
There’s broad slapstick, some innuendo, and some generally dirty “humour”, but nothing genuinely funny, and then the two police go into their supervisor’s office.

And I realised it was an actual, genuine parody. I even laughed once. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all! The humour reminds me of a lower-key Scary Movie;  a less subtle Not Another Teen Movie – those were both… movies I watched. And occasionally laughed at.


Things that will happen in my own personal hell:
Endless montage on a big screen on the most cringeable comments to happen to any character in any film I’ve seen.
Because I have never seen any of those moments before I cannot watch. Or I cannot listen. One or the other.
And so, it is with deepest regret, Movie, that I must split up with you around the 25 minute mark until you stop being a complete feminine hygiene product. Just… stop, movie.


This film is so bland I have nothing to write. Once every five or so minutes I laugh, around the same amount of time I roll my eyes. The rest of the time I just… watch. Passively.

There’s a moral here about how fast time moves and how each generation has different standards to the last, but it’s a little undercut by the fact that these guys were in high school AFTER I LEFT. Oh, and like, seven years before this film came out. There’s a role reversal, and one that’s increasingly relevant. Once, the geeks were picked on in high school for being weird, and increasingly the tables in the adult world have changed. Geeks can be sexy now, and we’re smart, good with computers and robots and explosions and stuff. But that’s not true. Every group of people has cool people and asses, smart, funny people, not-smart, funny people, smart serious people and dumb serious people.

You see how boring you are movie? So boring that I just spent twenty-one minutes of screen time re-wording that last paragraph and it still sucks. Screaming “fuck it’s ZZ Top” once was funny-ish, incidentally, but the second time was unnecessary.

look at how wide this dude's shoulders are. I had to re-crop this twice!

I mean, I’m not saying they’re wrong…


There’s a big chase scene and they bust a cannister of nitrous oxide or something and it fails to explode, and they notice. Same thing happens again shortly after and it’s with a petrol cannister. Third time, chicken lorry, and it does explode. That, right there, is actually funny.
Bored, bored, bored, bored….


Shit spoilers, but like, woah.
I really, really wish one amazing revelation in a mediocre film could make a film great. Occasionally it happens that the characters we’ve been following in a film shouldn’t have been the protagonists. I kinda love that trope, and it is well used here, momentarily.

Huh, there’s a brick joke. This movie…. doesn’t suck from like the 1h 20m mark onwards.
Two brick jokes! I… it’s like the radio is reversed, suddenly there’s quite a lot of good with some moments of dull and suck.

Does a good 25 minutes make up for a bad hour and twenty minutes? I don’t think that it does, but it was a very good last twenty minutes.



So, marks out of ten? If you’d asked me at the hour mark, I’d have told you it was a solid four. Inoffensive but not worth paying money to see.
Now? It’s a good 6.5. It’s worth roughly 48p of your money.




Watch it if it’s on any streaming services, or on TV, or your buddy has a copy. Otherwise, nah.

Feb 012014

Guess who just got a netflix subscription!
So I went through my list, trying to find films that were on netflix.  The first five, no luck, but number 6, Carrie, got a hit. “Brilliant!” thought I, and sat down to watch carrie. Before I pressed play, I made a list

Carrie: what I know.

1. It’s an adaptation of a Stephen King novel?
2. There’s buckets of blood?
3. Or maybe there’s a haunted car?
4. There might be a naff song about it.
5. The titular character is a little girl
6. Something happens in a disco.
7. Also possibly something about periods?

At first I was completely taken aback. It was nothing like I expected (despite being about half-right on my list!). Then, as the first few scenes passed, I waited for there to be a character I liked to show up. I could see a protagonist, but I didn’t like her, and then… nothing.
I watched 33 minutes of this film… then I gave up, like a wuss. I wasn’t entertained, I didn’t find it funny, or creepy, or harrowing. I was mostly annoyed by the shouty screaming actors acting totally unbeleiveably and the constant realistic violence.

I’m not against violence in general, but this flavour of it left a bad taste in my mouth for some reason.

Oh man, what a cow, how dare that student talk back to a teacher. I bet she deserved that slap, I mean, it's not like students are ever insufferable to teachers the rest of the time.

This was the best capture I could get of the sort of thing I’m talking about.

Good points: the sound design and music was appropriate and very well done. the balance between the loud and quiet scenes were very effective, especially in the first scenes in the titular Carrie’s home. I can’t judge the script yet, not having seen the whole thing, but there was a core of some good storytelling in the part I watched, sometimes obscured by strange acting/directing choices.
The cinematography was quite pleasing, with a number of interestingly framed shots, tight little scenes with a couple of points of focus, making the whole thing feel quite small and claustrophobic; a very good thing for a horror (I think/hope it’s horror!) film.

The original capture I took of this was way bigger, and resulted in that londe guy's head dominating my whole monitor, huge and eerie.

This here is genuinely impressive.

Yes, the film has its good points, (really, look at that framing, it makes me so happy) but they weren’t enough to get me to sit through it. Maybe I’ll hear something that changes my mind, or be ready for a challenge, or it’ll turn out of be one of those “no but wait until the 25 minute mark, it really kicks off there” things.
I’m not saying I’ll never watch it, I’m just saying… I won’t watch it yet.

I just don't know what to say

And this was where I gave up entirely.

Dec 032013

I’ve been watching new films recently – I wanted to write about this one.

It’s only been a few years since I discovered It’s a Wonderful Life, it not having travelled to the UK as a staple of the Christmas holidays in quite the same way it is in America. The main thing I came away with from that film was a strong respect for Jimmy Stewart. I’d never seen him in anything else, but I was content for that to be my experience of him – there are plenty of actors I’ve only seen in one film.

My appetite for more Jimmy Stewart was bizarrely whetted by an event I went to back in 2009 at the Glasgow Film Festival, where I was the director for a small film crew covering an event called Remembering Mary Gordon. Mary Gordon was a fairly fascinating Scottish woman who was an extra in a lot of American films, notably westerns and a Laurel & Hardy film. Amidst the films that were discussed was one featuring the lovely Jimmy Stewart, playing a character that was at the same time so similar but completely different than George Bailey.  At the time I thought “I must watch more of this odd tall man”, but did nothing more.

Jump forward to a few months ago, when I was bored and had just finished an article about Rear Window online. I knew it was a Hitchcock film, and had a good idea of what I was going to be watching, but I was genuinely surprised that Jimmy Stewart was in it. Jimmy Stewart? In a thriller? Everything I was given to understand about him was clearly wrong.

So I watched Rear Window, and I fell in love. With Grace Kelly.


Grace Kelly in "Rear Window"

Oh grace, you have my heart


Actually, more accurately, I fell back in love with Grace Kelly, because while I haven’t seen many classic films, I have seen many musicals, and she was the beautiful, charming heiress in the 1956 film High Society – a musical about a rich divorcee marrying a “common man done good” but dealing with two other love interests at the same time. It’s not the best musical ever, but it was enjoyable, and in my little girl way I’d fallen in love with no fewer than four (maybe five) cast members when I was young.

So here’s the effortlessly charming Jimmy Stewart with the beautiful and Charming Grace Kelly in a thriller with an interesting framing device – I loved it, and this time it was only a few months before I sought out Jimmy Stewart again, this time in The Philadelphia Story (1940).

I settled in to watch this film which was so highly recommended and was instantly faced with Cary Grant refraining from hitting Katherine Hepburn only to push her to the floor by her face. But it’s the 1940’s, right? So, It’s like slapstick comedy – I’d better settle in for the idea that this isn’t going to adhere to my 2013 standards in every way.

Just as I’m thinking this, there’s a page of exposition comes up and any analytical thoughts of the movie are wiped out by the names “Seth Lord” and “George Kittredge”. I know these names – but where do I know them from?

From around 02:39 in the film

This is all oddly familiar

It didn’t take me long to realise that this film was about a rich divorcee marrying a “common man done good” but dealing with two other love interests at the same time. This is the movie High Society is based on (well, they’re both based on the play, actually).

So, what follows is my opinions and thoughts on the movie, but it’s also mostly just a comparison to High Society, because these films are word-for-word the same in places to the extent that in one scene I could hear the lines that would have prompted the song “who wants to be a millionaire” and for a moment I thought I heard the music starting.


So comparisons between The Philadelphia Story and High Society:

  • While they are playing the same character, Katherine Hepburn and Grace Kelly play *very* different versions of Tracy Lord. Katherine’s is strong, cool and aloof, with a cutting tongue and a wicked sense of humour. Grace Kelly’s Tracy Lord is cool and aloof, but in a more detached “idle rich” way. She’s more traditionally “feminine” in a 1950’s way, and a lot of the sharp edges of the character are smoothed out – whether this is Grace’s performance or the mindset of the ‘50s I don’t know.
  • By contrast, Jimmy Stewart and Frank Sinatra play characters so similar I could almost close my eyes and not tell them apart. I love them both and Jimmy’s natural charisma still shone through the character, but their character, Macaulay (Mike) Connor is essentially the same. I don’t know if it’s that Frank’s characterisation was based on Jimmy’s, or if there’s less to work with in Mike’s character.
  • Some scenes in The Philadelphia Story are missing completely from High Society, probably so there was room for musical numbers in the latter, and for other reasons I’ll explain below.
  • High Society doesn’t reference domestic abuse – The Philadelphia Story does, in its way – it’s not made into a big issue, but Grant’s C. K Dexter Haven does get so angry with Tracy Lord in the opening scene that he shoves her to the ground by her face, a scene which is referenced a few times after and actually has some effect on Dexter Haven’s characterisation as a recovering alcoholic – something else that I don’t remember being referenced in High Society.

Which brings me round to a question I don’t know the answer to – why is it, when 16 years had passed between films, that High Society was so much fluffier? The Philadelphia Story has sub-plots about abuse and alcoholism, it has a strong female protagonist who’s actually a fairly three-dimensional character who can stand up to anyone, it has a few scenes so obviously talking about sex that they are only just subtext. Is it because High Society is a musical? Is it possible that we actually slid backwards in the 50’s, to that place where women were *more* stereotypical than before? Maybe it’s neither and both, and High Society was just a way to make a quick buck off the growing trend of musicals by using a script that had already proven itself in the cinema and adding Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Despite the comedy into – there’s actually a lot of comedy in The Philadelphia Story, just not as much slapstick as the into would suggest – it’s actually a really great story; having a three-dimensional female lead in 1940 who can hold her own with any man is amazing, but no character is really left behind here, with each one having more than just a two-dimensional portrait – each with their own flaws and quirks.

And despite it not being a musical, Jimmy Stewart sings. Heaven.


My friend Ben (Whose style I’m totally not sort-of stealing here) reviewed High Society for his 100 years of film project that you can find here.

Feb 192013

Gosh, has it been that long since my last post? I finished my degree and graduated with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Broadcast Production. I even got photos, which I may eventually procure digital copies of and post somewhere.


I’ve just updated the site to add a portfolio page (there’s a link in the top menu bar). It’s currently a scrappy work in progress, but hopefully I’ll fill it out more and make it prettier with time.


So, in leiu of anything else to say, I’ll promote a couple of things that have come up recently.

First, an old friend has published a role-playing game (I know, awesome, right?) called Troika Moira which you can find here.

Secondly, I did a bunch of interview-type-things with my uncle for his new album, Scottish Working Man. It’s pretty good. You can find the interviews and his site here.

Cruely rendered drawing of my microphone

It’s… a picture of my microphone. Because I used it to interview Campbell and I couldn’t think of anything else relevant.


Jul 192012

There’s a moment that happens sometimes.
When I reach the end of a film, a story, a book.

Sometimes it’s after a conversation or looking at a painting, but not often.

Sometimes it’s at the end of a song.

In this moment, there’s a feeling. I’m not happy, I’m not sad.
I feel the weight of what I just read / watched / heard.

It’s a little hollow and it always makes me pause. It makes me want to shout out “GO SEE THIS”.

And I just realised the word for it. It’s awe.

It hits like a lightening bolt from the tip of my head to my heels and it stops time for a moment, leaving only the environmental sounds around me and a space in my brain where there is no thought happening. (And I never stop thinking).

“Awesome” is a devalued word, but in there moments, I truly get a taste of what “awe-some” really means. A thing that creates awe in those who experience.
Or at least in me.

The first time I really noticed this sensation enogh to wonder about it was at the end of a not-very-well-known film called “Scenes of a Sexual Nature”. Just caught it on TV, watched it.
And it’s not the most well written film, nor is it the best acted or shot thing ever, but there’s something in its essence that made me stop.

There have been many other times down the years, and sometimes there’s an accompanying sensation; a nod of the head, as if to say “this thing is now complete”. A small smile. “this thing was satisfying”.

Virus Comix frequently cause this awe in me, and what prompted me to write this was this comic that you can read here at the end of which, I was in awe.


This picture makes sense if you read the comic. Sorry if you don't, I couldn't think of a better image

The Cone

May 222012

After the end of their first season last year, the guys from the TVTropes webseries Echo Chamber got in touch and asked if I’d like to interview them.

Thrilled, I said yes.

Now, with the new, second season coming out in a few weeks, the time seems right to re-post the interview!


The links to the files are here: (please right click and “save link” or “save target” rather than just opening the files; for some reason they often don’t work if you just play them)

Apr 052012

When you caught me
I loved my queen
Saluted her picture
On the landlord’s wall.

When you caught me
I was talking to freinds
Speaking of spain
Standing in the hall.

When you caught me
I found my friends
Had been planning sedition,
Treason and plot.

When you caught me
I felt sure
That in trial, where their verdict
was guilty, mine would not.

On my way to the stake
I recanted my faith
I recanted my friends
Said anythng to avoid their ire.

Tied to this pike
I commit the crime for which I’m punished
Screaming treasonus insults
As they light the fire.

Apr 042012

This is my current KoL run log. If you don’t know what it is, ignore it. If you do, please, please comment on it, tell me what I need to know to get better!



NEW Avatar of Boris Hardcore not defined ASCENSION STARTED 20120331


This log was created by the Ascension Log Visualizer 3.7.0.

The basic idea and the format of this parser have been borrowed from the AFH MafiaLog Parser by VladimirPootin and QuantumNightmare.

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Feb 052012

While wandering the social media, I notice a lot of people do a photo per day.

I’d like to join in, but I’m not that interested in photography, so I’m going to do a song a day for.. a while. Maybe a year.


Occasionally, I’ll do original songs; mostly I’ll do covers. Probably everything I do will be unaccompanied.

The first two are Send in the Clowns  and A Man’s a Man For A’ That.



I don't feel so good.

I've had a cold. This is the tissues I wish I had.

Dec 052011

In my day to day life I spend a lot of time on the fence, seeing both sides of arguments and not expressing my own opinion. This is often because my opinion is wrong, and I don’t like being shot down.

That said, here are my opinions on some things, and bear in mind that I can’t possibly do intensive research on everything I hold an opinion on:

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