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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Morbid Thoughts

I slept well last night.

I had been in Wales since last Thursday through til this Wednesday, returning home to Leicester only to help a friend out by dressing up as their mascot. So of course, when I made it to bed that day, I wasn’t feeling too hot. Or rather, I was; expressions aside, feeling hot was exactly the problem; I was sweaty and disgusting. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep I had had recently.

Thursday was also quite a busy day. Up early, I spent eleven hours in university, as I began to ponder if this is what it is like to do a proper degree. Again, when I got home, I was pretty tired and was just winding away the hours waiting for Friday; the day when my computer would come.

Friday came. Eventually, so did the computer. And a bit later after that, so did the monitor. Why PC World thought it was a good idea to send both the monitor and tower to the same place through the same courier, but at different times is beyond me. I’m sure there are some intricacies to the postal system that I’m not aware of, but surely you’d just save petrol if you got them both to the same place, and then sent them off together? No? Whatever. I set up my computer, but before I could play around with it, I had to return to university for a ‘Leicester Award’ workshop (more on that later), and then later still had to do a night shift, which of course meant I didn’t sleep especially well then, either.

So yesterday, I took it easy (I say ‘easy’ like my life isn’t usually; my life is by no means hard at any given time). I got everything out of the way by midday-ish, and just spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with my computer. As I previously stated, last night, I slept well.

But that didn’t mean that good feeling extended into the morning. I woke up groggy, and thinking about girls. But not in a perverted way, don’t worry; this isn’t going to descend into some random piece of erotic fiction. In particular, I began thinking about the last time I had a girlfriend. Which, for me, is a dangerous subject, not because I’m all that bothered about our break-up, but because within a week or so of our breakup, both my dog and a close relative died. Which of course made my mind wander onto death. Truly, this was not the most pleasant of mornings.

So I decided to lead my mind elsewhere. I thought to myself, I have a ‘new, powerful computer, it’s time to put it to good use. I’ll get on with some work’. Then I remembered what my next two assignments are on.

Abortion.

ABORTION.

That isn’t any less morbid! Sure, my topics after that are on Doctor Who and my dissertation on contemporary cinema, but I can’t get on with those because then I’ll risk failing my politics module. I don’t want to work on abortion; yes, its status as a divisive issue in American politics is interesting and all, but it’s still not something you want to spend your Sunday researching. Urgh.

So yeah, now I’m just sitting here reading the newest issue of All-New Invaders (consistently entertaining, even if it isn’t the most groundbreaking of comics) and eating cookies, in a bid to stave away any depressing thoughts that may try to penetrate my mind. Next, I’ll probably watch the Episode VII teaser again, and maybe that’ll lead my somewhere else. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, here it is. It’s cool, if only for what happens about a minute in. Enjoy:

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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Life

 

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I Discovered It Last (Moon Landing)

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Don’t you just love that smug feeling you get when someone shows you a ‘new’ song, exclaiming that it’s going to be a real ‘hot topic’ in the days to come, and you smirk at them and tell them you heard it when it first came out several months previous. Although you retain your composure admirably on the outside, on the inside you’re cackling your head off at their stupidity and watching them slowly shrivel away in embarrassment; their ‘hipster’ rating lowered significantly.

Yeah. As you can probably tell, I love that feeling too.

Unfortunately, the only things I can really lay claim to finding early in recent memory are Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ (unfortunately), Ten Wall’s ‘Walking With Elephants’, Icona Pop (and I didn’t like ‘I Love It’ back then, either) and Pixie Lott’s first album. Not the most impressive of musical discoveries, I realise.

But anyway. Forget all that.

Because I spent the whole of last night listening to James Blunt’s not-new-anymore album, Moon Landing, so rather than being the first person to discover it, I only started listening to it over a year after it came out.

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Could be worse.

But it’s a shame really, because it’s awesome.

I’d heard ‘Bonfire Heart’, and stumbled across ‘Postcards’ a few weeks later (as in, two days ago), and finally got down to listening to the whole album last night.

At first, it seemed like it could be just as dreary as his old stuff (which I still like, but that’s not the point), but a few songs in it really picks up.

Unfortunately, just because I’ve discovered and fallen in love with it, doesn’t mean everyone else has, as I had a friend Tweeted me that she, having seen my Spotify ‘play history’, was worried, not realising that at this point I had fallen asleep, which was why James had been subsequently serenading me in my sleep via Spotify for about five hours. Just the same six songs. On loop.

James Blunt Press Session 2013

I can see how that might look a tad disconcerting… I’m not depressed or having a mid-life crisis, I swear.

On another note, don’t you think it’s weird that James’ face never actually changes? It’s always been that way, but since he got his haircut, even from different angles his face remains unchanging.

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Like… not at all…

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It’s a bit unnerving.

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Don’t you think…?

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Strange.

Anyway! My particular favourites from the album are as follows. Enjoy!

First and worst (out of my favourites, that is), and arguably the creepiest, is ‘Breathe’:

Next is ‘Heart to Heart’, in which James strains his face to make it move ever so slightly:

‘Bad-boy’ James makes an appearance in the first Moon Landing song I listened to, ‘Bonfire Heart’:

These last three were difficult to rank. So first, here comes ‘Dapper-Cowboy’ James in ‘When I Find Love Again’. Makes me wish I’d brought my Stetson to Leicester:

This would have been the final song, but it can’t be the best purely because it doesn’t have a music video. Sucks to be you, ‘Working It Out’:

Finally, ‘Car-stroking-superstar’ James brings us ‘Postcards’. Still can’t decide which of these three is my favourite, but I like his hat, especially when he does that cool-but-not-really-cool hand gesture 56 seconds in…:

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Life

 

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Film Review – The Maze Runner

A 20th Century Fox Film, Directed by Wes Ball

Released19th September 2014

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Aml Ameen, Blake Cooper 

Review: It’s rare that I’ll see a film without knowing anything about it. In fact, the only other film I can think that I saw under a similar circumstance recently was Gravity. My point is, despite knowing that going into a film blind greatly enhances the experience, I can rarely bring myself to hold off on the potential spoilers.

However, The Maze Runner was never a film I thought I would be interested in, so when my former house-mate invited me to see it last night, I saw a rare opportunity present itself.

The film is about a group of stranded amnesiac teenagers who find themselves mysteriously transported to ‘The Glade’, a grassy area in the middle of a grand maze. Inducted into the group, Thomas, the newest arrival, must find his place in this new society, whilst hoping to convince his new family that they can find a way out of the maze as he strives to become a ‘runner’.

The Cast

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My favourite thing about The Maze Runner was the likeable cast. Several of the main characters are actors I recognise from their roles in various British television shows such as Doctor Who, Skins and School of Comedy. This was helpful, I think, as it reaffirmed my belief in the film, which I suspected would be full of irritating child actors. But no, these were performers of 21-29, all of whom had been blessed with previous experience and proper training, bar one, that is; but his casting as the loveable ‘Chuck’ made him a forgiveable addition.

In fact, my appreciation for the casting was such that even when characters began evolving to become the antagonists of the piece, I still found myself rooting for their survival due to the fact that the actors portrayed their roles with the necessary amounts of emotion and intensity.

The Story

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Likewise, the story also held a similar level of emotion and intensity. The tone was set from the beginning, and details of the truth behind the lies was seeded delicately so that we were never too far ahead of the characters in the piece.

And although at times, the film lapsed into moments of predictability, this always felt as if it were necessary to further the natural progression of the plot, and thus, were ignorable. The only other true flaw I found in the film was the occasionally cheesy dialogue, but of course, I have to remind myself that this is a film aimed at a younger audience than myself, and when we consider that, I think it goes above and beyond to entertain.

Although my friends may not agree with me, I would go so far as to say The Maze Runner picked up the slack that the first Hunger Games dropped. Although I am a big fan of the Hunger Games, I know a lot of my friends criticized it for not being ‘gritty’ or ‘death-fuelled’ enough. The Maze Runner however, finds several instances where characters finds themselves in precariously dangerous situations. Although, to be fair, a lot of the deaths do happen off-screen, there is never a moment where you find yourself disappointed by how the death has come about (unless of course, the character who just died was one of your favourites).

The Cinematography

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This exhilarating and gritty story is accompanied well by the filming of the piece. Although at times things were rather shake-y, the overall camera-work and direction were for the most part flawless, as it cuts and pans at just the right times to help move the scenes along. The dark hues throughout help cloud the menace of the ‘Griever’ monsters, so that although you have a good sense of what our protagonists are facing in the maze, you’re always left with a bit of doubt as to their true nature. Are they pure machine, or mechanically processed monsters; that much was never entirely clear, but I enjoyed not knowing. These little details kept from us made me more excited for the next part of The Maze Runner saga.

And although the suspense-building ending was a tad contrived, like the aforementioned predictability, it was necessary set up for The Scorch Trials, which I, personally, now cannot wait for.

Overall, with moving characters, an intriguing plot and sublime filming, The Maze Runner is a truly enjoyable flick, and probably one of my most surprising enjoyable movies of twenty-fourteen. I’d like to put it in my top five, but I’m not sure what it would replace. So for now, it’ll have to hang on at five-and-a-half.

Basically, if you haven’t already, go see The Maze Runner.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Film & TV

 

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Doctor Who, Dark Water [Spoilers & Thoughts]

After my previous post, I very much intended to watch one of my newly purchased films to review. I even had a discounted tub of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream ready to keep me company.

But then I had a slight change of heart. I’m still going to review those films, but something else came up that warranted an Phishy accompaniment, and that was the penultimate episode of Doctor Who.

Now anyone who follows this blog will know that so far I have looked upon Series 8 of Doctor Who with disappointment. Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson have all been great, but the stories have just been awful. The moon’s an egg? A forest grows whenever the Earth is in danger? Who has been writing this shit, and why are they writing it into my favourite show?

It’s been incredibly disappointing. In fact, 11 episodes in, the only episodes I actually came out of thinking ‘that was a good one’ are The Caretaker, Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline.

Meanwhile, I regarded Robots of Sherwood, Listen, Time Heist and Kill the Moon as ‘okay at best’, whilst I thought Deep Breath, Into the Dalek and In the Forest of the Night were all just flat-out rubbish.

It could be because I had high expectations. It could be because I despise child actors. Or it could be any number of other factors. But there is no denying this series has mostly left me with a foul taste in my mouth.

Dark Water was the last chance for Series 8 to redeem itself. I know Moffat can write a good story, but I had begun to feel he had lost his touch. That is, until halfway through Dark Water, when I thought to myself ‘this episode has been fantastic’.

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[SPOILERS TO FOLLOW]

The episode starts with the death of Danny Pink, leading Clara to attempt to blackmail The Doctor into going back in time and stopping his death from ever happening. Of course, The Doctor is several steps ahead of her, manoeuvring his way out of her blackmail and offering her an alternative; together, they will travel to the afterlife and rescue Danny from oblivion.

The pair instead arrive at the centre of 3w, a place that deals with finding a better home for the dead, whilst interacting with a place known as the Nethersphere so as to contain the dead in a substance known as dark water. Of course, there is a twist, as ‘heaven’ turns out to be a computer that toys with the minds of the dead, whilst their bodies are transformed into Cybermen, all with the help of Missy who reveals to the Doctor “Oh, you know who I am; I’m Missy”, and when the Doctor quizzes her further, she explains “Oh, please, try to keep up. Short for Mistress. Well, couldn’t very well keep calling myself The Master, now could I?”, and the Doctor stares on distraught, as he realises he’s played ‘tonsil tennis’ with his arch-enemy.

dun Dun DUN! Excitement.

I mean, it wasn’t all that surprising. People have been suggesting that Missy and The Master are one and the same since she first appeared. But still, it was a clever twist, and a nice change of pace in the Doctor/Master battle. As for the Cybermen, they seemed to have been powered down somewhat from that awful Neil Gaiman episode from the last series, which means they might once more return to their position as my favourite Who villains, alongside The Master.

So really, for me, this episode couldn’t have been more perfect: my two favourite villains, an excellently written and intelligent story, surprise twists, and dark themes that really make you think.

I was especially fond of the revelation that 3w stood for ‘Three Words’, and that the words in question were the dead screaming “Don’t cremate me”, as it is explained that the dead are still conscious. I found this particularly interesting as it reminded me of a dream I once had. It wasn’t a particularly nice dream, and I fear I may have had it more than once. In this dream, someone snapped my neck, and I dropped dead to the floor. Of course, I didn’t wake up, and I remained in this dream staring on from my lifeless body as time continued on around me as no one had closed my eyes. It’s not a dream unique to me, I’m sure. But it was one that made it so when those words were uttered, a chill was sent down my spine.

Of course, the mood was helped slightly by the Doctor bluntly asking the speaker “Why? Was he… an idiot?’ about his former boss, for believing he could commune with the dead. This mixture of gravitas and cutting humour is just a small part of what has made Capaldi an outstanding Doctor for the whole of the series.

The use of a two-parter is also something that should be highlighted. It is well known that Moffat isn’t a fan of spreading a story over more than one episode, so the fact that he is doing it here shows that he has an important story he wants to tell, and he’s not going to rush telling it, like some of the other episodes of this series. The details are gifted to us slowly and delicately, and sets up Death in Heaven perfectly.

Will Clara survive? What will happen to Danny? How will The Doctor stop the Cybermen? What is The Master’s end goal?

For the first time this series, I’m excited to see what comes next!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Film & TV

 

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