Friday, April 20, 2018

Event: Hollow Hotel

Hollow Hotel is the latest immersive theatre show from differenceEngine, who in the past gave us Heist and The People's Revolt. In this one you're the invited guest of a new hotel opening that holds a dark secret - one of the guests has a craving to kill the others.

You book rooms depending on your group size; 2,4, or 6 which just seem to determine the room you start the story in. Don't worry singles are assigned to rooms too. Before getting into your room you meet some of the characters you'll meet through the story at the bar. I found myself becoming a CTO for a new application start up that one of the other guests was looking to get off the ground.

The hotel room serves as an ice-breaker challenge that brings you closer to some of the particpants, which is a really good first encounter. It's interrupted however by a phone call from another guest indicating something bad has happened.

From there the group is split up and taken through various storylines that have you undertaking challenges; fail and you die. Don't worry, we're not talking Saw type games, think more a Crystal Maze lock-in. Dying does serve as a mechanism to break the group up further and put you on a different story arc.

The ending does bring you altogether for a final pay-off.

The concept is very good and having just come out of a pilot run we're starting to see the potential of the show, but there is still more to go. The ending in particular isn't strong enough and it feels like you're rushed through it without a full explanation of what was going on. The actual show bit lasts about an hour. It flew past very quickly but was felt by most that the experience could have benefited from spending a bit more time in each room.

It was only when we got together having left the show and discussed our individual story lines that we were able to piece together the overall plot. I'm sure that is intentional but with large groups consisting of people who may not know each other it's unlikely that the big picture will be got by most. We got lucky in that our group was comfortable being split up and we took the opportunity to do so. 

One of our guide characters was obviously new to the production making a couple of mistakes and at one point walking off leaving us in a room whilst I think she went to seek clarification on what we were to do next as events had meant we hadn't quite stuck to the intended plot.

There were also a couple of other challenges where it wasn't obvious how succeeding would offer a different onward route to failing it, which devalues the efforts somewhat.

So, the seeds of what could be a good experience are there, but there's still a little way to go. I might go back towards the end of the run. I am intrigued in trying out some of the other story lines and hopefully they've bedded in the show to make it better. 

With the ending they should look to rearrange the room so the guests surround the bad guy rather than what they have in place where most don't get the benefit of the pay off. Some sequences could also benefit from smoke machines, which would work really well in the rooms. 

For those looking for a Punch Drunk experience, this isn't it; I also don't think anything will ever match that. This is an OK way to spend an evening, just lower your expectations a bit if you think the Hollow Hotel holds a Drowning Man.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Film #51: Annihilation

A film that should have come out in the cinema but got caught up in a dispute between the execs who wanted to change it, and a director who wanted to uphold his vision, and that resulted in the film being shelved. Netflix appear to have come to its rescue and it is now available on that channel.

It tells the story of a biologist who joins a group of women to investigate an anomaly from which no-one else has returned, until her husband does but as a shadow of himself.

The story is science based and weird, but does make for an exciting story. The visuals are really good as is the soundtrack.

A must see.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Film #50: Maquia When the Promised Flower Blooms

A rather lovely anime film that tells the tale of a woman who can't age trying to cope in a world where she outlives everyone. Incredible animation and the visuals are so good. 
It's had a bit of a limited run, the one we went to was accompanied by a Q&A with the director so I guess on a tour. Do try to dig it out if you can.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Film #49: A Quiet Place

Another film that made me jump was this one. I continue to like everything Emily Blunt does. This one tells the tale of a family who have set up camp in a farm, surrounded by an unsourced creature that hunts through sound. So the premise that you don't make a noise or you die. What seems odd is that for reasons that are given, the couple have chosen to have a baby, which must be the stupidest thing to do if you're trying to survive by not making a noise. 

It's a great B-movie style ride.

Film #48: Ghost Stories

A film reinterpretation of a stage show that had a successful run a few years ago. A psychologist is sent to investigate 3 paranormal tales to understand how they might have happened. Something is connecting them, but what?

The trick of this film is to not give the game away which I won't do. I got to see the stage show and thought it was really clever, the same is true of the film. I can say that I've not jumped from a film in a long long time. I jumped with this :)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Event: Wrestlemania 34 @ Clapham Grand

My second time to attend a Hooked on Events live Wrestling PPV, this time Wrestlemania 34 live from New Orleans. It was a long night with the whole event including pre-show going on for around 7-hours. The highlight was the Ronda Rousey debut match which was really entertaining. It's really unfortunate it took the energy out of the crowd and it went downhill from there. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Gig #10: Parallels @ Zigfrid Von Underbelly

The second act in tonight's show was Parallels, a trio consisting of a Canadian singer, her brother on drums and a Brit on the keyboards/synths. They were really good although I wasn't really feeling the lyrics in a couple of the songs. 

There was a supposed to be a third act tonight, Futurecop but they no-showed. Ooops!

Gig #9: Nina @ Zigfrid Von Underbelly

Part of an synthpop night, Nina has had some success over the last couple of years with "My Mistake" probably being her biggest hit. She was here tonight debuting some tracks from her new album and they sounded OK.

She looks every part the pop star, but I liked that she was mingling with the crowd before and after her performance. She deserves to be more popular than she currently is.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Film #47: Troll 2

Troll 2 isn't as entertaining as it's predecessor but is still funny. In this one a family takes part in a houseswap with a family from a town called Nilbog. But the other family is a bit weird.
There's the ghost of a grandfather who keeps popping up to tell the young boy in the family what to do. There's a terrible goth vampiress character who is looking to abduct some teenage kids and turn them into trees and there's an ending that is all over the place. 

It's still really fun to watch but Troll 1 was the better of the two IMO.

Film #46: Troll

Part of a double-bill, and a pair of films that I hadn't seen before. Troll tells the story of an evil gnome who possesses a young girl that has recently moved into an apartment and then takes over the other tenants to bring other evil gnomes into the real world.

This film is an absolute gem, with atrocious acting, ridiculous plot and a character called Harry Potter that provides an anachronistic chuckle. The mother of the family also seems to want to carry dishwater powder a bit too much.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Film #45: The Ultimate Ninja

I got distracted by other things when trying to watch this one. It's a tough one to stick with as there is bugger all story. The martial arts is ok despite it being overly choreographed like a metronome was determining the vision. 

There's a ninja that wears red, he must blend in really well.

Film #44: The Intruder

Stunt dummies, a hero who takes out enemies with a bouncy ball, and a story that is all over the place. An Indonesian take on action movies.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Film #43: The Shining

Another classic and a great way to end the marathon sees Jack Nicholson in easily his best performance as Jack Torrance, a man looking after a mountain resort during the Winter season with his wife and creepy son.

I'm sure most of you have seen this so I don't need to gush positive about it here, but it always looks good even if the furnishings now look a little dated.

Film #42: Clockwork Orange

Probably Kubrick's most famous film and the one that was banned in the UK for almost 30 years. It tells the story of Alex, a kid who fronts a gang who thinks it's OK to rape, rob, steal etc. He is arrested following a manslaughter arrest and put into a new rehabilitation process to return him to society a new man. 

It's another classic and a film that everyone should see. The visual style is incredible, the dedication in the artists is top notch although I can't watch those scenes with the eyes being clamped open without cringing and it has Darth Vader in it! haha! 

For those of us into our techno and trance you also find out where The Orange Theme track comes from :)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Film #41: Full Metal Jacket

A film in two-parts starting with an excellent way to revitalise any flagging marathon goers as the incredible R. Lee Ermey Drill Sergeant performance pretty much prevented us from nodding off. It's easily one of my favourite performances ever committed to film, and easily holds up. 

The second half flags in my opinion and seems to feature his platoon constantly going through the same location (the set is in Beckton, east London). This film also finishes with a song, this time the Mickey Mouse club theme song.

Film #40: Dr Strangelove

I finally got around to watching a classic as Dr Strangelove was the third film in the marathon. Playing the film around nuclear war at a time where relationship with Russia were at their lowest was a shrewd move but political commentary aside this film is a stage for Peter Sellers to improvise his way to comic genius. His performance of Dr Strangelove is insane, with his right arm having a mind of it's own. 

This film also finishes with a war song, in this case Dame Vera Lynne's "We'll Meet Again"

Film #39: Paths of Glory

The second film in the marathon was Paths of Glory, another early Kubrick film from the 50s. This one tells the tale of the politics between military ranks following an order being given to storm a hill with a team not in the right state to do so. Is it right to send guys to their deaths?

Kirk Douglas is the recognisable actor in this, and the plot is another good one with some great trench scenes clashed with the palatial settings that the senior ranks talk in.

I'm not a fan of war movies, but I enjoyed this one more for the relationships between the characters.
The sing-a-long ending is an odd way to finish the film but it was a tune that people in our screening were still whistling later in the night.

Film #38: The Killing

I'd totally forgotten I had a ticket for a Stanley Kubrick all-nighter at the Prince Charles cinema showing 6 Stanley Kubrick films. The first was The Killing, a film from the 50s set around a heist at a racing derby and the interplay between the half dozen protagonists planning it.

The story is straightforward and is engaging, but I was more drawn to the use of light and shadow.
A good film to start off with.

Gig #8: Django Django @ Printworks

Printworks is a new concert space in the East of London and UK band Django Django band were announced as the first to play there. Firstly the space. I was really impressed with what they've done with wide entrances, super long bars, lockers instead of a cloakroom; they've really looked at removing the normal bottlenecks. The venue is really long in length and narrow which makes getting to the front a bit of a mission (we didn't bother).

Now onto the band, they're not amazing but the played a solid set with the chanting harmonies and loud drumming. I really like their track First Light, which featured but there are some good tracks on their new album too. A couple of songs with a guest female singer were the weakest despite one of them being a Blondie cover.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Film #37: Unsane

A bit of a weird film that features a woman escaping from a stalker who accidentally commits herself to a mental hospital then finds the stalker working there...or is it her psychosis?
The performance from the lead is very good but the story is a bit cliched.

Apparently this was filmed on an iphone, which is pretty clever but something that is mentioned a lot in the reviews but not in the marketing, which implies someone didn't think it was a strong angle to promote it on. It explains how they were able to do a scene in a padded cell with the camera moving around the room. 

I quite enjoyed it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Film #36: Fantasy Mission Force

I'll admit to not being able to keep up with this one despite me loving everything Jackie Chan has done. It has some plot about a small team who are sent to rescue some generals from an encampment but it's all a bit of a mess.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Film #35: Death Wish 3

I've never seen 1 or 2 but I don't think I need to. This is a nice self-contained tale of an old man who brings vigilante justice to a seedy part of town. Having been given the OK by an angry cop to do what was required he's basically given carte blanche to kill people left right and centre, and that is what makes it so enjoyable.

It's funny that the neighbours seem to take great delight in bad guys being taken out by traps and in some cases being killed right in front of them.

It's seriously silly. Loved it.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Film #34: Full Metal Alchemist

A live working of the manga story that has found its way to Netflix. The story is of two brothers who botch a summon spell to bring their mother back from the dead. One of them loses a leg and an arm, and the other loses everything remaining as a spirit that is housed within a suit of armour. The alchemists of the title are able to manipulate the environment; casting fire, reshaping the ground etc.

It's alright, the visuals are great, the CGI good, the colours nice and bright. But all the good scenes are in the trailer. I've not seen the original anime so might give that a go for comparison. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Film #33: Death Note

A western adaptation of the popular Manga book. Write a name and how they'll die into the book and it'll happen. The book lands in the lap of a school kid who quickly uses it to remove a bully and then befriends one of the cheerleaders. In pursuit of them is a chap who's name isn't known to anyone so can't be killed by the kid with the book.

The deaths are over the top gory, with bodies exploding on impact. I enjoyed it but didn't immediately recognise Margaret Qualley who plays the cheerleader, Mia. She's also the amazing dancer in the Kenzo advert, but she looks much older in that; it must be the dress.

Film #32: The Foreigner

Yay! It's Jackie Chan in a film I saw the trailer for last year in the cinema but I don't recall it every getting a release. Anyway I found it on Netflix and it's alright.
Jackie plays a Chinese chap who's daughter is killed in an IRA bomb attack and he makes it his mission to get the people behind it. Piers Brosnan plays a chap too close to Gerry Adams to be a coincidence (I didn't sit through the credits to see if they have stock coincidence legal statement on this occasion). 
So JC is getting old and obviously not doing all his stunts anymore (some cuts in editing make sure of that) but it's still a good film, and a little more serious than we're used to.

Film #31: Terror in Beverly Hills

When you can't get Sylvester Stallone, but his brother is available, but only for 2 days. You end up with the lead being in around 20 minutes of the film and the rest of it filled with Arab terrorist backstory or a screaming President's daughter who has been kidnapped.

The best bit is when the police storm one of the kidnapper's bases. The sniper is the one who goes inside the building, even with his oversized sniper rifle. Another cop with a shotgun takes out one of the terrorists then unloads his clip into his already dead body.

and there's a wonderful cameo from a police woman who mans the command centre who can't type but tries.

Film #30: Mortal Kombat Annihilation

I was a little annoyed when I saw this in the Bad Movie Bible. I remember it as being really good when I first saw it. So I watched it again and I now get the author's point; there's way too much reliance on CGI and too many characters to get any attachment to, but that's the games fault not the director's.

I soundtrack which goes into poppy-techno overload when the fights get going has dated badly. Another reason why it has been included I guess. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Film #29: Laser Mission

The late Brandon Lee is known for The Crow, fortunately for him he didn't soon after the making of this film. He plays a secret agent sent to rescue laser specialist, Ernest Borgnine and help him defect to the West. 

It's a mess and whilst there's an OK chase scene and a nice run-and-gun sequence it falls flat. The performances are atrocious, the story is a mess and there's a bad guy who keeps coming back from the dead, even when an entire mountain is dropped on him.

Film #28: For Y'ur Height Only

This is incredible. A Filipino take on the James Bond films casting a midget in the lead. The fights have to feature the bad guys sitting or lying down, or a blatant punch to the bollocks. There's no way a stunt double exists for the lead so he does his own with various degrees of success. Bar the one line comparing him to a potato, for the most part his lack of height isn't brought into question, and there are romantic scenes which just look odd too.

It's incredibly entertaining, more so than the gritty Bond films we get today.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Film #27: Drunken Wu Tang

I had no idea what was going on in this film and I was watching the dubbed version of it. There's a guy called porcupine with spikes on his joints and back who gets stuck to wooden furniture. There's a cannonball with teeth and there's a rat face guy who drives a go-kart.

The martial arts is alright though.

Film #26: Walk LIke a Panther

A nice little nod to 80's wrestling sees a group of old wrestlers getting back together to put on a fund raising show when their local pub is taken over.

As with most British comedies it's set up north, has an ensemble cast, is well written but is ultimately a very British film that isn't going to do well at home because it's too gritty and isn't going to do well abroad because it's too British.

It's good though. 

Exhibition: Evoca1 @ Stolenspace

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Film #25: Tomb Raider

A reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise taking us back to a younger Lara discovering that adventure is her gig. I liked how this started with lots of shots of Brick Lane graffiti, but the character as a posh cycle courier doesn't work.

Once the adventuring starts it gets better, the performances are fine but she Alicia has a really skinny neck. I was trying to figure out large an item of fruit she could carry in it. There are tombs but no possessed statues that Angelina has to cope with. She also has a quiver with a never ending supply of arrows. 

Not bad.

Film #24: Gringo

This tries to be like Lock Stock with lots of interplay between a multitude of characters. The main guy is an American Nigerian stranded in Mexico. There's an unscrupulous boss played by someone who is in a lot of films recently but I can't recall his name (Eggard? Eckhardt?). Charlize Theron comes on the back of an excellent performance on Youtube Hot Ones to play the other boss, willing to stab he-who-can't-be-remembered in the back...and there are wives, kidnappers, criminal kingins and cops. 

I only watched this to kill some time, I'd expected terrible and didn't get it, but I didn't get great either. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Film #23: Nick Fury Agent of Shield

This looks like a made of TV movie and stars the Hoff in the titular role, called back from retirement to stop a Hydra plot to release a poison into Manhattan. It's a load of old bollocks. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Film #22: Fatal Deviation

Recommended by OSW, this film is so bad it didn't even make the Bad Movie Bible. It's a cross between the funfair scene in Father Ted and Van Damme's Blood Sport. It has Mikey Graham from Boyzone in it and even he can't save it. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Film #21: Ninja III Domination

As a ninja nerd growing up I watched many ninja movies and this one was probably my favourite. Lucinda Dickey (her from Breakdance) plays a telephone engineer/aerobics instructor who is possessed by the soul of a dying ninja warrior. She picks up his powers and begins to take out the cops who shot's complicated.

It's a Cannon film and it's full of 80s nonsense. The effects are rubbish, and the acting is bad, but the film is still very entertaining. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Film #20: Do or Die

Two buxom American agents are put into a game by bad-guy Mr Miyagi who sends 6 teams of assassins after them. Erik Estrada plays a military guy sent to go and protect them. 

1. One of the women turns a golf club into a rocket launcher, which is almost as good as Macgyver's coffin jetski. 
2. "We only have an hour to change our clothes and catch our plane to Vegas" is my favourite line. 
3. The women feel the need to change clothes an awful lot.
4. You will learn a lot about model aircraft.
5. A cat dies a terrible, but quick, death.
6. Miyagi's character is a sex guru. This isn't the wipe on wipe off sensei I grew up with.
7. Explosive baseballs

Film #19: Gymkata

Part of my plan to make my way through the best worst movies all time I've started with Gymkata, a film about a gymnast martial artist who has to travel to the made up country of Parmistan to win a competition so he can install a Star Wars monitoring station in the country.

This film was all over the place and here are the things that stood out:
1. Gym apparatus is built into the sets so that the gymnastic fighting can happen - the best being a pommel horse in an asylum.
2. I don't think the lead made another movie, I guess gymnastic based martial arts didn't catch on.
3. When I'm done getting through this list I think I'll need to watch all of Richard Norton's films. He's the bad guy in this and in most bad movies I remember growing up with.
4. I kept thinking Mel Brooks was playing the Parmistan ruler.
5. One guy has two faces and another cuts his arm off for no reason.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Film #18: You Were Never Really Here

This film is not a happy film, and not knowing anything about it I wished I hadn't picked it as it bummed me out. I go the cinema to escape to a happy or silly place. Not a bleak hole like this. It's very similar in mood to Requiem for a Dream or Taxi Driver.

Joaquin Phoenix is very good in this. The violence is mostly off screen and the story (he rescues girls from paedophile rings) isn't Disney. It'll get good reviews for the performances but the stand out for me was the soundtrack, which is great.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Event: Old Rope @ The Phoenix

Headline was Felicity Ward (funny Australian)
MC was Tiff Stevenson (always good)

Katherine Ryan (My favourite tonight, and she was brutal!)
Mark Watson (Funny!)
Pierre Novielle (A good opener)
Bec Hill (No showed - Alfie Brown took her slot)
Tom Ward (He's very good!)

Monday, March 05, 2018

Film #17: Red Sparrow

Jennifer what’s-her-face is a bad Russian ballerina who quickly becomes a super spy trained in the martial art of seduction and is sent undercover to out a mole in the Russian government. People in this film seemed to have a problem closing doors behind themselves and there’s a scene where it’s revealed you can get a close shave with just a single blade; take that Gillette! Jeremy’s Iron has a Russian badge on his uniform that says “Boopy”; we never find out why.

Charlotte Rampling Jarre always seems to be getting the old teacher roles and she's doing it again here. Clearly the casting agent was impressed with her similar performance in Streetdance 3D. Jennifer does fine, she never seems to be remarkable in anything she does. The plot is alright though but you know things are never what they seem when you're watching a spy movie. 

Friday, March 02, 2018

Event: Labyrinth @ The Vaults

After last year's rather excellent Alice Underground, the announcement of a similar attraction themed to 90s The Labyrinth was a no-brainer.

In their announcement on Facebook they stated the following.

Is your will strong enough to withstand the wiles of the cunning Goblin King?
Late Night Special Feature presents a spectacularly immersive journey through the winding world of the LABYRINTH. 

There was no immersive journey. Having been kept waiting in the chillout room for the show to start we were told that it was all taking place in one room, the room that was just playing badly mixed tunes loudly.

Come and explore the invisible corridors and avoid ending up in the oubliettes. Watch in wonder as actors and acrobats give life to the Goblin Realm through awe-inspiring aerial performances and astounding circus feats. Listen as magnificent musicians serve up a soundtrack guaranteed to make you dance, magic, DANCE! 

The corridors were indeed invisible. Nobody could find them. There were circus performances but all in the same room as the bad DJ.

Will you help #SaveSarah from losing herself in this topsy-turvy domain where nothing is what it seems, or will you fight for the #GoblinArmy and aid Jareth in keeping her trapped in his kingdom forever? Toby’s fate rests in your hands, so pick your side and prepare to play for keeps! 

This implies some element of choice but as there was no immersive theatre this couldn't have taken place.

It’s time to indulge in the voodoo and hoodoo, to encounter Fireys, find giant furry friends, make an entrance at the Masked Ball, dip a toe in the Bog of Eternal Stench… or just come inside and have a nice cup of tea.
Get dressed in your very best adventuring outfits, keep an eye out for crystals, and fight your way to the castle beyond the Goblin City! This will be one you’ll want to tell the grandkids about.

A lot of people did make a lot of effort with the costumes, more than the organisers did.

Reading Facebook after the event, a lot of people were disappointed with the event, which is a shame. I left shortly after midnight, had I known it was no more than a themed club night I wouldn't have bothered going.

Film #16: Game Night

Game Night has Rachel Macadams in it and she’s my second favourite thing to come out of Canada so I’m biased, but it’s a very silly funny film about a murder mystery game that goes a bit wrong. I laughed several times through the film, there's one good jump scare, and the plot is bonkers but fun.

I'll forget it in no time at all, but it was a good couple of hours not wasted as I thought might have happened. 

and the second best thing to come out of Canada is of course, Poutine.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Gig #7: Superorganism @ Behind the Bike Sheds

A free gig courtesy of Spotify saw me spending the evening see Superorganism, current media darlings of the music press. I've been listening to their stuff for a little while and I guess that's why I was chosen to go along. It was well organised; in addition to the free entry we got free drinks and a free cloakroom. The crowd were a bit odd not wanting to get too close to the front of the room; I spent most of the set on my own holding the rail. 

The band are really good live, and have Go-Team, Polyphonic spree vibe to them. The little Japanese/American front person is very comfortable with a mic, and interacting with the crowd. The songs are catchy and getting lots of radio airplay. I'm also going to be seeing them again later in the year at a festival, where I think they'll win over the crowd.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Film #15: Miami Connection

Another great bad movie and a perfect second part to the Crap Film Club's Feb double-bill.
It's time to go and celebrate with some grapes.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Film #14: Samurai Cop

One of the best bad movies of all time. It's just incredible and it was being shown as part of the Crap Film Club's February double-bill. So good!

Event: Hollow Hotel

Hollow Hotel is the latest immersive theatre show from differenceEngine, who in the past gave us Heist and The People's Revolt. In th...