writing

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The Returned

Published 21/07/2013 by crimsonghad

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‘Les Revenants’ (The Returned) is a French psychological horror, whodunnit/is alive drama which is astounding on so many levels. The writing is tight with so many questions asked in each episode and yet the viewers do not feel short changed because the multiple stories move along at such a pace. They begin with one character being focused upon in the past and it turns out that they are in fact dead (not really a spoiler so no alert) for that. As we delve in to the character we find many different things about them. The ‘returned’ are many but we don’t know who is alive or who is dead in some cases. By the end of the series (next week) maybe we will discover more. Amongst the most strange of the ‘returned’ are Simon, Madame Costa and Victor – the quite astounding young actor Swann Nambotin.

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Victor is one of the first ‘returned’ we see, along with Camille, and he seemingly has the ability to make all mothers in the world freeze with his gaze of desolation. It is a performance heightened by his inactivity which at times explodes exposing certain talents he has acquired in his death. In fact all of the ‘returned’ have talents. Be it seeing the dead, jumping from windows or immaculate hair. Surely there are more set to be unearthed?

This is all underpinned by a superb score from Scottish rockers Mogwai who add a weird and disturbing soundtrack to this haunted village. Indeed the deserted and isolated nature of the town adds to the atmospheric condition with it being a character that juxtaposes beautifully with the diverse folk inhabiting it.

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What makes this stand out, though, is the characterisation. The alive are not different from the dead. Suspicion abounds as no one character is pure good or pure evil. There are known killers who seem to have more of a positive side than the police or even religious figures in the town. While there are deaths and dead people it has less in common with the high octane approach of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ but more with a recent BBC Three show. However, the depth of characterisation sets it apart from BBC Three’s ‘In The Flesh’ which for all its brilliance (lauded in a previous blog) always seemed to have a liberal agenda. ‘The Returned’ teaches us to trust no one in true ‘X-Files’ style and that aides the underlying tension masterfully created by the numerous aspects of sound, vision, setting, writing and characters.

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Channel 4 are to be commended for buying such a drama even if BBC have already broken the mould with a spate of Scandanavian imports. The marketing has also been tremendous with adverts in French and with French subtitles adding to the word of mouth. I, myself, was brought to ‘The Returned’ by Twitter posts talking about the French adverts during the first episode. If you don’t like watching subtitles then maybe this isn’t for you. But then if you don’t watch the TV while viewing a programme then you should just throw yourself in a big bloody bin.

Catch up on 4OD (or youtube for earlier episodes) it is well worth it.

Kiran Leonard – ‘Bowler Hat Soup’

Published 05/06/2013 by crimsonghad

http://kiranleonard.bandcamp.com/album/bowler-hat-soup

I’m breaking with tradition just to write a short personal blog about a young singer songwriter who makes me feel woefully inadequate. Kiran Leonard – 17 years of age – take a bow. (Link to his entire album above)

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I heard the quite brilliant ‘Dear Lincoln’ – a song about mental illness which is a very personal subject to me – a couple of months ago after a random Twitter tip off and when I saw that it was written and performed by a 14 year old I decided that I needed to do something with my life. Unfortunately, two months later all the efforts I have put in to changing every aspect of my being for the better have come full circle and I’m back to where I began. Where I began was Kiran Leonard and so I looked on his own website to find his full album ‘Bowler Hat Soup’ was there. So I listened all the way through. And it is amazing.

Kiran Leonard - Bowler Hat Soup - cover

Highlights include: ‘Port Ainé’ wouldn’t seem out of place on a Ben Howard record such is the slickness. ‘Smilin’ Morn’ is a joy of a song with the slow build to a crescendo of some of the best Rufus Wainwright has offered with infinitely more weirdness to boot. ‘Geraldo’s Farm’ brings in a distinctive electronic feel to proceedings and the fast rock-infused ‘There’s No Future In Us’ builds upon this constantly changing theme as the second half of the album delves in to experimental anarchy mixing previous songs on the album to create a mash up that no one signed to a big record company would dare to attempt. The final song, ‘A Purpose’ is a beautiful gem as Leonard changes styles once more back towards melancholic Rufus Wainwright territory. It is all over the place and yet a 17 year old pulls it off to make a wonderful album. It is impossible to describe the genre as it is heavily influenced by too many artists on each song. What you can say is that Kiran Leonard is a music obsessed young man with serious passion and even more talent.

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Kiran Leonard deserves to be a huge name and after listening to this amazingly complex, soulful and imaginative album I have full faith that he will be some day. Until then at least I can feel that I have achieved something by hearing him before the masses descended upon him and killed his experimental music…it has begun…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/may/28/kiran-leonard-new-band

More4 [insert hilarious pun here]

Published 22/03/2013 by crimsonghad

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I may never forgive More4 for shamelessly losing the rights to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – I still cry about it every night – but it has recently started to quietly invest in quality shows. The superb Boss began its unfortunately short run last night (Thursday 11pm More4) with an incredible tour de force in acting by Kelsey Grammer, who plays Mayor Tom Kane of Chicago, suffering from a degenerative illness. Exhilarating and chilling in equal measure his performance is something not to be missed in a show which is scheduled for a film to conclude two seasons that I look forward to completing quickly. The smart, powerful and uncompromisingly brutal writing from Farhad Safinia serves to enhance the programme from being just another political drama or a vehicle for ‘Frasier’.

Nashville (Thursday 10pm More4) is another quality recent addition. TV shows based around music do not always have great reputations for drama (see Glee, Smash, Hannah Montana) but this has excellent pedigree. Written by Callie Khouri, who also wrote Thelma & Louise, it should come as no surprise that the main protagonists are two strong, successful and well rounded women fighting against the patriarchal society that they inhabit. The always excellent Connie Britton plays Rayna James, a faded country music superstar in, you guessed it, Nashville. Her fight is in trying to stay relevant when her family need her, her age is against her and her husband is determined to run for political office with the aid of her tyrannical father. Hayden Panettiere plays Juliette Barnes, the Taylor Swift-like young, arrogant superstar who has the looks, the youth and the following but lacks the respect that she so desperately craves. Add in Clare Bowen as the naive, scared but supremely talented waitress Scarlett O’Connor and there are three women occupying the three main roles on a US TV show not called Girls. Wonderful stuff. (And this song gave me goosebumps)

And then of course you have the mainstays of More4. Father Ted, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Time Team, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Come Dine With Me and wonderful documentaries. I will never complain about seeing Father Ted reruns, you hear me, NEVER. And my mum will never complain about seeing Time Team reruns, you hear me, NEVER (except for last night when she bemoaned the fact that they will no longer be making it). Of course Curb is pretty, pretty, prettay good and Come Dine With Me is always good for a cheap laugh or two. The documentary strands including Cutting Edge, Dispatches and Britain: My New Home (Friday, 9pm More4) are always thought provoking and well made.

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As with any channel there aren’t always programmes to your taste. I’m not a fan of Grand Designs, Location, Location, Location or any of the aspirational property TV but they are big viewer favourites and you always need them to support quality drama. If you like those then good luck to you. And if not, there’s always Kelsey Grammer.

 

FHM Review– A first time buyer’s perspective

Published 09/03/2013 by crimsonghad

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I am a 27 year old male who had NEVER bought a copy of FHM. Seriously. Never. I had read parts of it before from friends’ copies and a very lovely woman once bought me an issue of it many years ago, extolling the virtues of said magazine – I think Jennifer Ellison was in it if anyone remembers when she was famous. As I was going on holiday I wanted to purchase Empire magazine (big film fan, obviously) to read and as I’m always looking for a bargain I saw this offer for Empire and FHM for £5 and decided, what the hell. I’m not the type to shit all over something without giving it a chance (unless it’s called Splash!) so I actually sat down and read pretty much every word in the March 2013 issue of FHM. Now that I’ve alienated all human beings with this first paragraph I’ll continue with a review.

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Yesterday was International Women’s Day and what better way to celebrate than by reading something which is so empowering towards women… In fairness there is some good stuff in FHM and I will start by highlighting that:

  • Jobs Down Under – about relocating your life from UK to Australia and tips from 4 or 5 separate people who have done so successfully
  • The Greatest Summer Holiday –  a section devoted to approx 10 destinations that will see you have the best holiday ever possible

I have actually torn these pages out and will keep them. There is some genuinely good advice and I might very well use them for myself. Even so I have a couple of issues. Firstly, all of the people in Jobs Down Under are men with their partners briefly alluded to. Secondly, all of the holiday destinations are male with the emphasis on booze, birds and beach.

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Now the bad – and there is a lot of bad. I’m even going to split it in to insulting towards women and not abusive towards females. I’ll save the invective for later:

  • Adverts – as with all magazines the proliferation of adverts to articles increases throughout and I know the target audience is male but Jesus Christ there is a lot of metrosexual shit.

Designer clothes, James Bond, posh alcohol, clothes again, more clothes, men’s perfume (aftershave I think it’s called), vitamins, watches, shoes, clothes again, film ad and shampoo ad featuring a footballer. Every single advert feels like it is targeted specifically towards a mid 20s-40s rich, middle class London yuppie type and it just seems depressing to me.

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  •  Adverts within articles – half of the actual articles are basically just adverts for products.

Some examples being an article about Dan Ackroyd’s new vodka range morphing in to a celebrity alcohol advert, a coffee making piece which merely sought to sell a range of expensive accessories, and 14 (yes 14!) pages of style tips for cunts men which was just a very long advert.

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  • Dull attempts at funny stuff – there are a few articles about Pancake Day for men, a man’s best friend: dog vs. mate and The Bloke Test.

This month’s ‘bloke’ was Danny Trejo who just seemed dumbfounded to be asked such questions as “have you ever followed through on a particularly exuberant fart”. I found them uninspiring and tedious rather than utterly offensive but, hey, maybe some guys find that funny. Each to his own.

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Other articles I won’t talk about because you could find them in any magazine include: an interview with an astronaut and a footballer, reviews of film, video games, theatre, readers’ letters, biker gang stories – none of these are particularly bad or good.

 

However, there is a whole long list of articles offensive to women:

  • Scantily clad women in insulting terms – men buy these magazines to look at soft core porn. That is the first thing I will say. I am not going to criticise for the ridiculous poses because it’s clichéd and is there for titillation. Is it wrong? Yes. Will it change? No.

What I take offence to is the actual language highlighted in these articles, “I’m quite old fashioned. It’s the man’s role to look after the woman” says Chloe Cummings who is famous for being Abby Clancy’s cousin and is “a bit of a psychic”. Setting the women’s movement back a hundred years there Chloe. The actual interview is too boring and depressing to even repeat on here.

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  • Get A Massive Crush On Alicia Vikander – she was nominated for BAFTA rising star award this year and has been awarded the Kermode Award for best actress for her role in the sensational, A Royal Affair. Here she is reduced to a picture in an article NOT EVEN ABOUT HER.

This article is actually an interview with Adam Deacon (winner of BAFTA rising star last year – in a tenuous link to Vikander) where he is promoting his new film on DVD. If I was Deacon I would be insulted. If I was Vikander I would be insulted.

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  • Close The Deal With Beautiful Women – I am shit with women. It is a fact. Just ask any woman I’ve ever dated and they’ll tell you. I can do with some advice but fuck me this was a depressing read. 7 pages of tips for men to get women in to bed! This made me angry.

They dressed women up in scantily clad outfits reducing them to mere caricatures and then proceeded to label them in specific terms which men could access via following the advice written on the page. I mean really? I just found this insulting to my intelligence. I can see how there is some well-meaning advice in there (hidden very well admittedly) but it is just dumping women on a plate and saying, “There you go guys, come and fuck us. This is how to do it. It will definitely work.” It made me feel ashamed to be a man.

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  • Win a Date with Georgia, Franziska or Rosie – this is another 8 pages of nearly naked women but this time it is self promotion for the world renowned FHM 100 Sexiest Women 2013 edition (vote now!)

Again, I have no problem with the naked women as that’s the purpose of the magazine. I also have no problem with FHM promoting their magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women as that edition is presumably the biggest selling of the year and to use wrestling parlance (since they review wrestling games in one of the articles) is the equivalent of Wrestlemania. My problem is them giving a date away with one of the 3 models they’ve chosen to flaunt in their lingerie. Once more women have been reduced to objects for no real reason. What is the purpose of this? Does anyone reading think they will get an ACTUAL date with someone they’ve never met and who probably have boyfriends in any case? Is the magazine trying to drum up business by using aspirational techniques? Are they sex slaves who will fuck anyone on command? I just don’t know.

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  • Judd Apatow: FHM Hero – I like Judd Apatow films. They are blokey in a geekish, immature but appealing way. This interview I did not like. Not because of Apatow but FHM.

In Empire magazine Apatow was also interviewed about his new film This Is 40 which also happens to star his wife, Leslie Mann. They are both interviewed together in a funny, bickering and informative format that is well executed. Good job Empire. In FHM Apatow is interviewed alone with lots of blokey references to his past films and upcoming films (pretty much all of which star Mann in some way). So why is it that Leslie Mann gets no reference until paragraph 11 out of 12? And when she does get a mention it is thoroughly condescending, “Spot [Mann] in This Is 40, in which, if you can prize your eyes away from Megan Fox rolling around in a bikini, she plays spouse to Paul Rudd…surely directing your own missus in a sex scene with a good friend is kinda weird, right?” Ugh. Everything about that wants makes me want to punch the page, the writer and myself in the face. Leslie Mann is pretty much shot down in the tiny piece of an article she is afforded. Terrible.

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  • Great Sexy Moments In Life #12 – this is the last thing I’m going to moan about but it’s basically page 3 but 3 pages from the back.

What is the purpose of this? Beth from Manchester is just eating some grapes answering inane questions. ‘A pretty girl nibbling on some grapes’ it says in the sub-heading. Yes, that is it. That is the purpose. To have a pretty girl. There is no substance to the questions. There is no reason for it to be there *sigh*

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Ok, well I hope anyone who has read this is as thoroughly depressed as I am. A couple of redeeming articles will not make me buy this again. It is insulting to women and also to men I would suggest.

Dancing on the Edge

Published 09/03/2013 by crimsonghad

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I like Stephen Poliakoff – I really do. And I am a history graduate with a love of the changing race relations and politics of the early 20th century. I should have loved Dancing on the Edge.

I was a big fan of Shooting The Past, Perfect Strangers, The Lost Prince, Gideon’s Daughter and Joe’s Palace to name a few. I even defended him on Twitter after the negative  backlash of the first episode of Dancing on the Edge. I love his lazy, laid back and deliberately slow style. It always makes his work stand out and it feels like you are watching a real event rather than just some show. And for £8.5m budget you would expect so too.

However, even I gave up after the second episode when nothing had happened in 2 and a half hours. Sure he had his normal royal family obsession, Nazis, garden parties, obsession with dark rooms and beautiful cinematography but is this enough? No.

From what I’ve read in the brilliant Guardian episode by episode blog nothing happened in the last 3 and a half hours either.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/series/dancing-on-the-edge-episode-by-episode

Please return to form soon Mr Poliakoff.

TOWIE Live – 4 December 2012 – Review. End of the world?

Published 04/12/2012 by crimsonghad

“Worst. Show. Ever.” Comic Book Guy – The Simpsons

The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) is the original British version of Jersey Shore and The Hills. It has spawned other popular shows like Geordie Shore and Made In Chelsea. I have never before watched TOWIE. I will never watch TOWIE again. However, after reading some newspapers say this was the worst TV show ever I was compelled to watch. Wow. Just wow. Which incidentally is a more coherent sentence than at any time on TOWIE last night.

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The one positive I can give that it was all in aide of Breast Cancer Care charity. However, my grandmother died of breast cancer and she was in less pain than I was watching this drivel. It started with a paparazzi driven intro including all the main characters in the show, a (really shit) Colin Farrell look-a-like and Pat fucking Sharp. I must admit that I love Pat Sharp due to Fun House being one of my favourite shows from childhood. Indeed, my sixth form 6-a-side champion football team was called ‘Fans of Pat Sharp’ – no more Pat. No more.

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I’m not going in to great depth mainly because there was no depth in this entire programme. However, the basic format was switched between on stage performances and backstage character interactions mainly focusing on relationships and especially the ‘will they, won’t they’ marriage of Joey and Sam.

It began with Trousers Man (I had to watch it back to find out his name was James or ‘Arg’) who had no trousers on wandering around backstage shouting, ‘I’ve lost me trowsers’, over and over while also managing to talk over everyone else and looking at the camera – impressive. Once he found them and made it to the stage to introduce the show he was CUT off mid sentence (a recurring theme).

It CUT to Chloe and Joey who very loudly and menacingly shouted, ‘Tonight is gonna be creepy SICK…it’s gonna be sick’. And he was not wrong. Some guff about him proposing ensued with sub-Hollyoaks acting. Seriously. And they all look like Hollyoaks rejects too.

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The CUTS were ridiculous and I won’t mention every single one because it will take up too much space. Suffice to say they were almost always mid sentence and it ruined any continuity that may have built – there was none anyway. At one point they CUT from Cara on stage (miming) to Sam and Kirk. Audibly you could hear them being told, ‘you’re on!’ after a five second silence.

Debbie was on stage performing some magic, possibly, while Gemma and Bobby were in the audience talking. Neither could be heard as they all talked simultaneously and the sound editing was horrific.

A dull exchange with Lauren, Chloe and Billie (all looking like the Three Little Pigs dressed as Barbie) occurred before Diags (terrible name) said possibly the most insightful line of the night to Joey, ‘Um, what’s going on?’ EXACTLY . EX-FUCKING-ACTLY. WHAT AM I DOING WATCHING THIS SHITE?!?!

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Sam and Kirk were talking about Kirk going on a date with Jasmin, the highlight of which was Kirk saying, ‘It’s, it’s like, like, you know yeah’. Despite this memorable Oscar Wilde quote it was actually the BEST exchange on the programme – I’m not kidding. It was like a conversation with a friend so I can understand the relatability factor which makes this show popular.

The highlight of the stage show was possibly Arg’s rendition of Singin’ In The Rain which was average but in this company made him look like Gene Kelly’s better, fatter and more tanned brother. It may have also been the end when Cara proved she could sing Wham’s Last Christmas (Arg and Gemma proved they could not).

The lowlight of the stage show was the Three Little Pigs, inevitably, singing Barbie Girl. I have repeatedly written, ‘KILL ME NOW’ on my notepad during this rendition.

After this, though, was a potentially good segment. Some genuine (probably not genuine) animosity between Charlie and Jasmin over her relationship with Kirk bubbled over. That fact that he got her name wrong was excusable so her castigating him for it merely took me out of the (only good) moment. Worse still, another female cast member in a blue dress (don’t know her name, sorry) wandered in to shot by mistake seconds later before reversing quickly out of shot. They then CUT to a commercial break and suddenly this mystery woman appeared on stage bouncing around to One Direction’s That What Makes You Beautiful, sung (mimed) by Mario, Diags and Joey. Good job.

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The show was meant to be on a roll by now but it CUT straight to a 10 second silence while Arg, Debbie and Lydia were on screen inaudible. Then we could hear Nanny Pat shouting, ‘lose a bit of weight…go, go, go…everybody has done really well’, and various other comments while a tiny, scrambled part of the conversation between the 3 on screen could be heard. This nonsense continued for 2 MINUTES until we saw Kirk MURDER Frank Sinatra’s song, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.

Finally, we reached the ‘thrilling’ conclusion of Sam and Joey. Will they, won’t they? Except Joey’s acting was so bad it makes a giant redwood look fast moving. He repeatedly moaned, ‘I’m stressed out’, for what seemed like 30 minutes but was more like 4 minutes. He showed this also by shaking his head and rubbing his arms continuously in a trance like state, possibly not helped by his beau Sam telling him not to worry over and over while desperately failing to avoid looking at the camera like a gormless idiot. So the ‘thrilling’ conclusion was so poor they had to CUT back to the stage where the cast sang Last Christmas to rapturous applause from the clearly traumatised/lobotomised audience.

I try to be positive but really, come on. I can’t write a proper review of something that has had SEVEN series of such bullshit. I may never watch it EVER again but it averages 1,500,000 viewers. Was it the worst show ever? Impossible to say. It was not so bad that it was good. It was so bad that I was incredulous. I could not hate something which looked like a play I put on as a 15 year old. I just cannot believe ITV2 have broadcast this. Watch it yourself. The end of the world on 21 December 2012 cannot come soon enough.

http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=328496

Election 2012 – one negative reaction and one positive reaction

Published 07/11/2012 by crimsonghad

Obama wins!!!!!

Suffice to say that @KristenNeel_ was not a fan of the Obama victory. And by the way Australia has a Prime Minister…who is a woman…and not religious. But hey, 0/3 isn’t bad.

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For more please visit this page

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/11/07/twitter-us-election-funny-republican-tweets_n_2087229.html#slide=1730441

…And the postive reaction is this incredible article from David Simon. It is mindblowingly good and you MUST read it. I insist.

http://davidsimon.com/inevitabilities-and-barack-obama/

I am a heterosexual male and I freely admit: I LOVE DAVID SIMON