Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bug 58

After a year's break Bug is back at the BFI. I couldn't go to the first one (I'd double-booked) but here're the videos that featured.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 year in review

So I set myself some goals for 2018. Let's see how I did and how what I've got planned for '19.

Rollercoasters: Ride 100 new ones and reach 2000

I rode 102 and reached 1999, which is a real stinker of a number to finish the year on because now it looks like I will choose the landmark one when I didn't really care which ride it ended up being. I'm taking a break in 2019 from coastering, having removed myself from most of the groups I was in. For 2019 I'm setting myself the goal of only riding 1.

Gigs: See 100 live acts.

I saw 102, following a hasty bit of emergency scheduling in December. My favourite acts were Red Snapper, Anna Meredith, Despacio (does that count?), They Might be Giants & The Chemical Brothers. I'm quite chuffed with this one and will aim to do the same in 2019.

Films: See 100 new ones.

I saw 125, although some I had seen before but not on the big screen. Within these I did a few back-to-backs including the Qaatsi trilogy, John Wick double-bill, a mystery all-nighter, a modern horror all-nighter and a John Carpenter all-nighter. My favourites were Fatal Deviation (yep), The Villainess, Don't Breathe & A Quiet Place  I'm quite happy repeating this one in 2019.

Countries: Visit 5 new ones.

I managed 4: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Morocco, Andorra and Montenegro. I did Bosnia twice though. It was a good year for holidays as I also went to Croatia, France, and the US twice. For 2019 I'm looking at keeping things closer to home for the most part with trips to some of the principalities and small islands I've yet to visit.

US States: Visit 2 new ones.

 I got 3 new states (West Virginia, Michigan & Rhode Island). This leaves me with 5 to get.  I am toying with the US for a themed-trip in the Summer though it'll be to cities I've been to before. The new states will need to wait until another year.

Cirque du Soleil. See 1 new show.

I saw Luzia in Boston and very good it was too. I'd like to do another for next year but think I may be able to do a trip with more than that.

Travel 1000 miles on a treadmill.

This is a new one, and I won't be running from the start but I need to get a gym routine in place and figure this will be a nice goal to aim for. 

Gig #102: Joe Goddard @ Phonox

My final "gig" of the year ended up being a Joe Goddard DJ set at the Phonox nightclub in Brixton, which I knew as Plan B many years ago. I thought I'd get there late but the venue was still dead when I entered. I hung around for an hour or so and as I gave up and left there was a big queue gathered outside.

The music was good and the club sounded and looked great. The crowd however were a clubbing crowd and not a Hot Chip crowd so I didn't really feel the right vibe, hence the early departure. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Gigs #100-101 Blackbyrds & Digitalism @ The Jazz Cafe

A plan to attend a Digitalism DJ set became a chance to see 70s Jazz/Soul combo The Blackbyrds as I got into the venue early and this band were on first. They sounded really good with lots of Motown sounding stuff coming from an excellent live band.

After they finished a big chunk of the crowd cleared out to allow Digitalism to take to the stage. At least I think it was them. There were 2 guys playing and I don't know what they looked like. I left after an hour and once on the train had a horrible thought I'd left during the house DJs set.

I'll never know.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Film #125: Free Solo

Nothing to do with Star Wars but a documentary about a man who climbed El Capitan in Yosemite without a rope.
Gripping stuff!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Gigs #97-99: Brutallixmas @ The Monarch

Having missed some acts on Saturday I needed to play catch up so saw this free event at The Monarch pub in Camden Town. 3 rock/punk acts, so not my usual thing but it was a night out.

Lakes were up first and my favourite of the three. They did a nice cover of E17's "Stay Another Day".
Adults were up second and weren't that great. The lead singer wasn't sure what was going on and kept introducing each song with "which one are we doing now".
Up last were Brutalligators who I didn't like only because their guitarist chose to stand and block my view for the other two acts; some people have no awareness.

Film #124: Aquaman

Roman Reigns calls his brother a dick who in turn calls him a bastard. Another baddie got his costume from Power Rangers. Someone covers Toto's "Africa" terribly and Amber Heard discovers grapes whilst looking hot. Halfway through it turns into Indiana Jones.
I liked it.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Gigs #95 & #96: Thundercat & Flying Lotus @ Brixton Academy

A chance to see a bunch of acts in one venue was quickly thrown out when our group chose to remain in the bar drinking and when we went to the venue 2 hours after opening, the queue was going around the block so we went back to the bar.

When it was time to try again at 11pm it was just me left, the others had given up. So of all the acts on the card I only got to see 2.

Thundercat was too bass driven for my liking.
Flying Lotus had no progression, and his 3D show wasn't as impressive as a remember it being when we saw it in the Summer. Although I did like he played some Twin Peaks.

Coupled with my first attempt at getting glasses resulting in a broken pair and a free for all to get another pair and a venue so packed I barely made it past the bars at the rear of the venue I'm surprised I stuck around for as long as I did. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Gig #94: DJ Yoda @ Winterville

An impromptu gig on the way home as I found out DJ Yoda would be playing a Cut n Paste 80s mix for free at Winterville in Clapham. Considering how much I've seen him over the last couple of years it was a little weird that I hadn't seen him at all in 2018. So it was good be reacquainted.

The set opened with 99 Red Balloons and finished with Sweet Dreams, and throughout we had some of the cheesiest, 80s classics including J. Geils Band, Kraftwerk, Foreigner & Toto.

and for someone who usually plays an hour set, it was great to see him going nearly 2 hours tonight.


Sunday, December 09, 2018

Film #123: Spiderman into the Multiverse

Oh, this is really really really good.

A different take on the Spiderman story, beautifully animated, a well written story and some bizarre twists. I liked it much better than any of the other Spiderman films...well, except the classic 70s one that is.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Film #122: Bad Times at the El Royale

An ensemble film that features a group of characters meeting at a run down motel. Why are they are there, who's going to die and who's going to survive? I like these sort of collection films, Smoking Aces being another, and I did enjoy this. There are a couple of OMG moments and all of our showing jumped at one particular bit, which doens't happen that often.

Strong acting from the cast, and a nice contained story made this enjoyable. 

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Film #121: Assassination Nation

A rather odd film that takes social media data leaking to its extreme as a group of four friends are terrorised by their fellow townsfolk. The film has an energy and vibe that wouldn't be amiss if Charli XCX had been asked to create a film. Strong female roles with an FU attitude.

But what starts off as a modern take on Heathers, becomes a mess in the final third.
It's worth seeing but it lacks the legs to make it a classic.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Gigs #91-93: Disco @ Electric Brixton

A disco themed night in Brixton.

Norman Jay was ok, a great selection of obscure records mixed with the occasional anthem, but he couldn't mix. I guess when you're an MBE for your contribution to music you don't need to.

Nicky Siano was terrible. He played with the EQ as if he was an EDM DJ faking a set, and destroyed some great produced music with his meddling. He did play Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now". I wish someone had.

Marshall Jefferson gave the venue the much needed kick it needed and really took it up a gear, but with his set starting at 2am we were too tired to make it through his entire set.

A great crowd helped the night go quickly.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Film #114-120: John Carpenter All-Nighter @ Prince Charles Cinema

Another excellent all-nighter at the Prince Charles this time celebrating the films of John Carpenter. 

Assault on Precinct 13 is great, a tense shoot out between a mixmatch of characters and a gang outside. It's memorable to us videogaming nerds as providing the sample to Bomb the Bass's Megablast which found its way into Xenon 2.

Halloween is not my favourite in the franchise but it does have the creepy intro where the camera pans away from the young boy holding the knife.

The Fog was too slow for me but did bring back memories of being freaked by it when I watched it as a kid. 

Escape From New York is a romp, so much fun with Donald Pleasance and Snake. 

I've seen The Thing so many times now but it's still sooo good.

Big Trouble in Little China was a nice comedic break from the slow burns of the previous films.

and I fell asleep during They Live, due to me seeing it so many times and not being blown away by it ever...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Film #113: Possum

Garth Marenghi makes a horror movie and it's odd.

It already starts with a guy in the middle of some sort of nervous breakdown, returning home to confront some demons that have probably contributed to his condition.
He carries a bag that contains a weird puppet which haunts him throughout the film.

It's slow, silent, brooding and creepy but quite enjoyable but it'll test you. The soundtrack by the Radio Philarmonic Workshop is a big part of the creepiness.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Film #112: Action Point

I watched this on the flight home from Orlando. I'm glad I didn't pay for it.

Johnny Knoxville runs a rule-free park and is under the threat of takeover by a corporate theme park chain. There are stunts and schadenfreude based laughs, there's a weak plot, and I'm sure it's more a chance to dick about on camera and have some producer fund it. 

It's not Jackass.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Gigs #86-90 Nina & Friends @ Soundbar Orlando

An opportunity to catch some SynthWave stuff in downtown whilst on holiday in Orlando.

Watch Out for Snakes was first up, a diminutive keytar carrying bundle of hipster muscle that struggled to have any stage presence whatsoever, but who's music served fine as an opening act. I quite liked some of it! At times he seemed to disappear within the output of the smoke machine.

Second up I think was MoonDragon, a local lad who mixed his synth stuff with some classic 80s visuals including lots of Top Gun. I liked his music.

The surprise of the night was ACP PRO, 2 guys whose music didn't really fit the theme of the night but who had some absolutely stunning tracks within their AV set. Their track Q*Brick could easily have been an Orbital production and it sounded incredible. They seemed genuinely pleased when I told them this, and I liked that they thought I was informed in the genre based on my accent alone :) 

Parallels are really good, I'd seen them in London before and liked their stuff, but they were missing the drummer tonight, Holly said her brother had had visa issues. She seemed happy I had come to see the band and that I'd also seen them in London.

Nina played her standard style of set, her singing and keys and another woman doing drums and backing vocals. It's alright.

So, a good night and a nice way to escape the theme parks for a night.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Film #111: The Night Comes For Us

The crazy martial artists from The Raid films are back in a ridiculously violent over the top film, and it'll be one of my favourite films of the year.
A mercenary gets a conscience, and is hunted down for not completing the mission he's tasked to do. Tracked by a bunch of assassins the guy tries to survive.

Intense fight sequences, a great selection of weapons and some holy shit moments throughout this is an incredible addition to the Netflix lineup.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Gigs #83-85: Lebrock, ORAX & Robert Parker @ Camden Underworld

Another synthwave night at the Underworld and I had 3 acts tonight.

Lebrock were more on the rock side but sounded pretty good. 

Orax was probably the better act of the night but not much to see on stage, just a nerd behind a laptop.

and the only thing I can remember about Robert Parker is that he had a big 80s hairstyle

Event: The Grid

An immersive experience that has you hacking a company office to get their secrets. Part cocktail tasting, part escape room and without giving too much away it was a good way to kill a couple of hours, and being told I was the first to complete one of the puzzles was a nice thing to hear too!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Gigs #81 & 82: Rosko & Haiku Hands @ Corsica Studios

This one came out of the blue but having heard "Not About You" a year or so ago and really liking it an opportunity to see them play in London couldn't be turned down.

Support came from an OK band called Rosko who had a pretty entertaining lead singer doing his best to work with a very small crowd, most of them friends of the band. There was one entertaining section where a suit-clad friend clearly coming to the gig from work was given an opportunity to rap into the mic and he was pretty good!

The main act were excellent although I think they're missing a member. I'm sure in the video there were 4 members, but here we only had 3. I'd got to the event early and they were taking photos outside in their multi-coloured jumpsuits. On stage they were a bundle of "don't really care, we're having fun" attitude with their silly dance routines and shouty shouty rap. But I was wanting to be entertained and I got it. Great crowd participation with them entering through us and their final song Super Villain having them come back into the crowd to dance with us. 

Probably my most fun little gig of the year. They deserve a bigger stage though!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Event: Magic Circle @ Red Lion Theatre

A small play that's part of a horror season in London. 
Written by Kim Newman (who I only know from Bizarre magazine, but who has written books) and starring James Hyland and Michael Shon we have a battle of wits between a police investigator and occultist at the site of a mass killing.

It was pretty good with great performance but very heavy on the dialogue and tough to keep up with at times.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Film #110: Mandy

When the Prince Charles Cinema announces a run of a film you've not heard of, you know it's likely to be something special and that's exactly what Mandy is! Miss it at your peril.

Nicholas Cage plays a lumberjack who's wife is killed by cult who have the ability to call on a bunch of dark demons on motorbikes. Nick gets angry and his revenge on the lot of them.

Visually bizarre and bonkers to boot.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Event: QEDCon

Another excellent weekend up in Manchester for QEDCon, the annual get together for skeptics and the like. A couple of days full of interesting talks, lectures and opportunities to meet like minded folk.

Best summed up by the rather excellent intro video.


I'll be back in 2020 as they're having a well deserved year off.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Film #109: A Quiet Place

The final film of the marathon and a chance to rewatch what I think will be my film of the year. Emily Blunt and her real life husband, whose name escapes me play a couple with some kids, and one on the way who find themselves camped out in an area overrun with alien creatures with an acute sense of hearing.

An incredible bit of cinema that shows the power of silence..

Film #108: The Babadook

Probably the worst of the films shown tonight; not because it's bad; I just found it uncomfortable to watch. A single-mum struggles to deal with her autistic kid who is convinced The Babadook, a monster from a book, is alive.

There are some very tough scenes and I hope the kid actor was protected during some of the more tough scenes. Incredible acting but unbearable at times. 

Film #107: It Follows

It Follows was a film I hadn't seen before and I quite enjoyed it.
The horror in this one comes from a curse passed from having sex that comes in the form of a shape-changing demon that kills you if it catches up with you.

I like that the monster walks slowly but never stops. A clever variation on the endless running from a monster we usually get.

Currently it's the highest rated horror on Rotten Tomatoes and there are plans for a sequel; it doesn't need it.

Film #106: Don't Breathe

The third film of the night was a mystery choice and a great one, getting a nice little cheer from the audience as it started.

3 teenagers break into an blind veteran's house to steal some money he has stashed away. They misunderstood how savvy, and alert he is. Then they realise they've underestimated how twisted he is.

Really good!

Film #105: You're Next

2nd film in the modern horror all-nighter and a great one. It was really good to see this film a second time.

A bunch of grown up kids and their partners go and visit their parents and a group of sadistic hunters crash their party. Some excellent scares, a good story and some nice twists and turns made this one of the better films of the night.

Film #104: Get Out

Part of a modern horror all-nighter and a film I'd seen earlier in the year but a good one as we get the story of a black guy who's taken to meet his white girlfriend's parents who are a bit too friendly towards him.

A great debut from the director who is onto greater things.

Now I'll just go and make myself a cup of tea.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Gig #80: Chemical Brothers @ Alexandra Palace

My second time to see the Chemicals where following an excellent first show at Blue Dot I got to see them on their London leg of their European tour. Much the same show with the incredible visuals and great track selection. The set is so tight I don't know how live it can really be though.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Film #103: Venom

A slight spinoff from the Marvel universe has Tom Hardy playing Eddie Brock, a man who's lost his job and is taken over by a symbiote.

Great effects but Tom acts too hard, and a little more tongue-in-cheek feel to the film would have been preferred. It's instantly unforgettable.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Gig #79: They Might Be Giants @ Barbican

A night for the 90s music geeks as TMBG rolled into London as part of their World Tour. A band I think I saw at Reading many years ago but one that has changed over the years with dozens of albums to their name though; I'll admit to be being a big fan of the earlier ones though.

Tonight we had two sets and a couple of encores that ran for almost 2.5 hours, great for the fans, and moreso because it was a sitdown show in the rather excellent Barbican theatre; which served as my graduation ceremony location and a KLF Y2K gig I saw in '99.

The band were excellent with an absolutely incredible jazz trumpeter Curt Ramm who has played with the likes of Springsteen in the past. 

The track selection was really good too with welcome nods to the earlier tracks as well as some off the more recent albums. I left happy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Film #102: Climax

Gaspar Noe's latest film is an absolute ride with a great soundtrack and really bizarre camerawork.
A party goes downhill when someone adds LSD to the sangria. A perfect family movie for Christmas.

Film #101: A Simple Favour

Anna Kendrick raps Ante Up and Blake Lively has the best answerphone message. 
Vlogger Kendrick befriends a rather shifty Lively and then searches for her after she goes missing.

One of the better films I've seen this year. Really good writing, especially for Blake's character. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Film 100: The House with a Clock in the Walls

The House With a Clock in its Walls: Avoid comparisons with Harry Potter by making a film based on a book about a socially inept young boy with glasses who loses his parents and is adopted by his uncle moving to a new residence, full of magical creatures where he learns magic from a large bearded man and kills an evil guy who wants to destroy everyone.
Fortunately it won't have any sequels.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Film #99: Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam

A film that I've been wanting to see for a long long time (see what I did there) but have not been able to find a good copy. A group of guys had the same challenge so decided to restore it using a salvaged 35mm reel and versions uploaded to the internet. It's not perfect but they've done a bloody good job.

The film also known as Turkish Star Wars is so named because the director shamelessly stole footage and soundtrack from a bunch of 80s films.

The story doesn't make much sense, something about the planet earth being destroyed but being held together by the willpower of the human race, and 2 of the finest Turkish spacemen are sent to kill The Wizard who leads the enemy race. 

Filmed in Cappadocia, the effects seem to stretch to really bad furry costumes and lots of running through the caverns. For inexplicable reasons there's a scene advocating Islam as the way forward.

Totally bonkers, but entertaining and another fun crowd in the cinema too.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Film #98: Real Life

Tonight's Mystery Film showing at the PCC was this really good film that I'd never heard of. It's slightly meta in the same way Spinal Tap was, in fact some of those guys feature in this. Albert Brooks, who I know for The Simpsons, directs and plays the director of a film documenting the average American family. As is ever the case in these sort of films the best intentions gradually become a car crash.

Another excellent selection from the PCC programmers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Film #97: American Animals

4 bored students with a love of Reservoir Dogs and the Beastie Boys Sabotage video plan to rob a library. Was not aware it was a documentary of real events but it's a very well put together documentary.

Bug 58

After a year's break Bug is back at the BFI. I couldn't go to the first one (I'd double-booked) but here're the videos th...