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Author Archives: Emrys Moungabio

Not Another Teen Movie (Film Review)

After my last review, I’m back to going through my DVD collection, this time with a recent purchase; Not Another Teen Movie.

You may question why I bought this, and I have no doubt that in a few years I will probably be asking the same thing. But what can I say? I work in a discount DVD store and I love me some Chris Evans. So with that in mind, here we go…

15Quick warning:
An image in this post depicts a scene from the film with nudity in it. Just so you know.

 

RELEASED: 14th December 2001
DIRECTED BY: Joel Gallen
WRITTEN BY: Mike Bender, Adam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson, Phil Beauman & Buddy Johnson
PRODUCED BY: Neil H. Mortiz, Phil Beauman, Mike Bender & Buddy Johnson
STARRING: Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressley, Eric Christian Olsen, Eric Jungmann, Mia Kirshner, Deon Richmond, Cody McMains, Sam Huntington, Samm Levine, Cerina Vincent, Ron Lester, Lacey Chabert & Riley Smith

It’s strange to think that in the past sixteen years we’ve slowly moved away from voice-overs in trailers. I wonder what that voice-over guy does with his life now that we just let the scenes from films speak for themselves?

Food for thought.

Not Another Teen Movie is the story of Janey Briggs (the “Pretty Ugly Girl”); her regular school life and her relationship with Jake Wyler (the “Popular Jock”), after his friends make a bet with him that he can’t make her beautiful and popular enough to become prom queen.

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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Film & TV

 

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (Film Review)

Until I get ‘New to Comics’ back online, I’m going to be posting some stuff for that site on here if it’s particularly relevant or if I want to share it as soon as possible. So today, here’s my review of the sixteenth entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming

RELEASED: 7th July 2016
DIRECTED BY: Jon Watts
WRITTEN BY: John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Jonathan Goldstein, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers & Jon Watts
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal
STARRING: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Logan Marshall-Green, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael Chernus, Donald Glover & Robert Downey Jr.

REVIEW: The main problem with Spider-Man: Homecoming is that the casual viewer may falsely believe that Sony was wholly responsible for making this film, what with their company names being plastered all over the opening and closing credits. Which, frankly, is a shame, because this film was made by Marvel Studios, and financed by Sony; and it would truly be a terrible thing if Sony got the credit for what is, to date, one of Marvel Studios’ best films.

In terms of story, the film is surprising on several levels. Firstly, it’s generally understood that the more writers you pump into a film, the messier it gets. That, paired with the fact that the whole storyline is seemingly stuffed into the above trailer, could give cause for concern. But having seen the movie, I can assure you that you don’t need to worry about either of those factors.

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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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Don’t Breathe (DVD Review)

It’s been a while since I last posted on this blog.

Back then, I was fresh out of my Masters, and still debating how I was going to proceed with my final project/other blog, ‘New to Comics’. I do intend to keep that going, but in the intervening months between then and now, I’ve been a cleaner, then unemployed, and now work part-time at That’s Entertainment.

For a lot of that time, I haven’t been able to afford to keep buying the comics and films that I would need to keep it going, so until I do, I’ve decided to take a different route; I figured, why let my collection of DVDs sit there, some of them barely touched, when I could just go back across the decades and review those? So that’s what I’m going to aim to do; at least one new film review every week. It’ll be anything from recent releases like Don’t Breathe, to classics like The Godfather.

So here we go, welcome back to my blog (or just welcome, if you’ve never been here before), let’s get to it!

First up? As the title would suggest, it’s the aforementioned Don’t Breathe.

RELEASED: 26th August 2016
DIRECTED BY: Fede Álvarez
WRITTEN BY: Fede Álvarez & Rodo Sayagues
PRODUCED BY: Fede Álvarez, Sam Raimi & Robert Tapert
STARRING: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto & Stephen Lang

REVIEW: I’ve been wanting to watch this film for a while, and now that I’ve finally gotten round to it, almost a year after release, I can safely say it doesn’t disappoint.

The film follows three teens (Levy, Minnette & Zovatto) who have been robbing from numerous houses that have security systems installed by one of their fathers (hence how they have the keys and technology to disable the alarms). Although they shy away from stealing money, they realise they may be able to end their criminal careers if they pull off one final big score. Targeting an wealthy elderly veteran who lives in a mostly abandoned neighbourhood, they soon discover the man is blind. However, after breaking into his house that night and quickly becoming locked in, they discover something else… he’s a murderous psychopath.

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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Film & TV

 

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Why are Netflix’s Defenders called ‘The Defenders’?

When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and to a lesser extent, super-hero movies in general), I make it my mission to watch as much as possible. In the MCU, the only thing I’ve started and not finished so far is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (I think I’m near the end of season two, but I don’t care enough to figure it out).

Marvel’s films and television (with S.H.I.E.L.D. being the exception), have high production values and for the most part, some quality storytelling. Of course, some of the films can feel a bit same old, same old at times, but they’re definitely, as a whole, progressing. Marvel is doing the best they can with the IP’s they have left, and as such, it’s (almost) always something I want to see.

The Netflix shows, if you haven’t been watching them, are especially good. The most recently, Luke Cage, premiered on the 30th. I spent my day watching it, and by 2am on the 1st, I had my review written up. You can read it here, if you’re so inclined.

Anyway, the next Netflix series due to be released is Iron Fist, which, as of today, we know will premiere on the 17th March next year.

After that, at some point we’ll be getting the Avengers-style team-up, The Defenders, along with another series of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher and probably Luke Cage.

As I said, I’m very much looking forward to all of this. Not only am I a MCU fan, my favourite television recently has been the Netflix productions (not just Marvel, but House of Cards, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, etc.).

But there is something that bothers me, being the fussy nerd that I am, and that’s the title.

Now, this isn’t just because traditionally in the comic books, these characters aren’t the Defenders* (if anything, they’re the New Avengers, minus a couple of members, but whatever). In the comic books, the original Defenders line-up looked something like this:

The Defenders.gif

Doctor Strange, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer and the Sub-Mariner. They would often be joined by various other assorted characters across the years.

It was a powerful and pretty bad-ass line-up, who, when they stopped fighting among themselves were perhaps one of the most powerful teams in the Marvel Universe (if not THE most powerful).

Of course, the problem here is that the Silver Surfer and (probably) Namor the Submariner were part of the many film distribution rights deals that Marvel made in the nineties to get some dollar. The Silver Surfer and Namor (again, probably; I can’t think off the top of my head but it may be Universeal) are, in movie-form, owned by Fox, and thus are untouchable for Marvel unless they buy back The Fantastic Four property.

So the name’s available. Why not use it? Right?

Because there is a much better name for Netflix’s ‘Defenders’ already on the table, and it actually makes sense in the context of the shows.

Heroes For Hire.jpg

In the comics, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have long been best friends. Mike Colter (who plays Luke Cage) even acknowledged the fact in a recent interview on BBC Radio 2. They have also long operated the business ‘Heroes for Hire’. The name is fairly self-explanatory. As heroes, they would hire themselves out to people who needed their help.

This isn’t really a spoiler, but in the Luke Cage series, the character even has references to his comic-book businesses. It’s even in Method Man’s rap towards the end of the series.

Now the reason it frustrates me that they’re using The Defenders rather than The Heroes For Hire, is that even if Daredevil and Jessica Jones were never members of the Heroes for Hire in the comic books, BOTH OF THEM ARE LITERALLY HEROES FOR HIRE!

So far, out of the three Netflix shows, Luke Cage is the only lead character who hasn’t undergone heroics after being hired for his services! The original hero for hire, thus far, is the only hero who hasn’t been up for hire. What’s that about?

Across the series, Luke is continually told that if he were to start a business, people would definitely pay for his services. Now, were we to assume that at the start of the crossover series he and Iron Fist were to meet and start up that business, you’ve got your show right there, with a name that actually fits the characters.

The Defenders2.jpg

But what about Jessica Jones and Daredevil?

Well, as I said, those two are the only characters who, so far, have actually been heroes for hire in the MCU/Netflix universe. Jessica Jones is a private investigator with super-powers. Tying her into Cage and Iron Fist’s business would be a piece of cake. They get hired for a case; either they need a P.I. and Luke calls on Jessica, or she’s ALSO been hired and they cross paths. It’s so simple to play this hero for hire angle that it’s annoying that it’s not what’s going down (I mean it might be, but I am of course speculating from the title).

Daredevil could come on in much the same way. Much of his own show see’s him donning his crimson costume AFTER he’s been hired to represent someone in court. Whatever it is that draws these heroes together could at some point hire Matt Murdock, and boom, you’ve hired another hero, Daredevil.

Four heroes, who have come together, after being hired. Heroes For Hire.

The only real reason they could be called the Defenders at this point is some weak-ass promotional material Marvel put out saying these guys and gal are the ‘Defenders of New York’. If people haven’t seen that; they might wonder why these characters are called The Defenders.

Call them Heroes For Hire, and people will get it. Know why? Because being ‘Heroes for Hire’ is what all these character fucking do.


I’ll leave you with that to mull over, and then just drop this trailer for a REAL Defender, Doctor Strange, right here, because how awesome is that jazzy Tron-esque soundtrack:

* Before anyone rants at me, I do acknowledge that some of these characters have been Defenders in the comics as well, but not as a team, all four of them together, and not in a way that makes as much sense as them being ‘Heroes for Hire’.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2016 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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Ghostbusters (Film Review)

I’ve been slacking a bit with this blog, which is a bit stupid really, especially considering the last post made it look like I was committed to film reviews and stuff. So, here’s a new film review, two months on. I nearly saw Now You See Me 2 instead, but I’m glad I didn’t.

A Sony Pictures Film, Directed by Paul Feig

Released: 15th July 2016

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey

Review: People have hated the reboot of Ghostbusters since it was announced. They’ve claimed that Paul Feig has ruined their childhoods and are horrified by the fact that they would make the new Ghostbusters… women?!

In fact, these people are so aghast at this, that if you looked at the rating for Ghostbusters on IMDb on Thursday, before the film had even come out in the USA, it was ranking about 4/10. At the time of writing this, it’s at a 5.1.

Ghostbusters3But that rating, like the opinion of all those internet trolls who are having a hissy fit because they can’t stand the thought of women starring in a remake of a classic film, is ridiculous.

Because this film is pretty damn good.

Ghostbusters see’s Professor Erin Gilbert (Wiig) forced to reunite with her estranged friend Abby Yates (McCarthy) when someone confronts her about a book they once wrote on the paranormal. Enlisted as a pair of ‘ghost experts’, they, along with Jillian Holtzman (McKinnon) and subway-worker Patty Tolan (Jones) begin confronting paranormal break-outs across New York City as the Ghostbusters.

Basically, it is another Ghostbusters origin story, but with enough changed to warrant it being it’s own film. The characters are all new creations brought to life by a fantastic cast. Because that is the true gem of this movie; it’s cast.

Ghostbuster2The beautifully varied Wiig brings a more straight-laced performance than usual as she comes head-to-head with McCarthy’s hopeful Yates. Kate McKinnon meanwhile, is basically playing herself, but that’s not a problem, because she’s pretty darn funny. So much so, that her Holtzman and Jones’ Patty Tolan are perhaps the most enjoyable Ghostbusters to watch, something I think Feig realised when he was deciding which Ghostbuster he’d give a ‘badass takes on loads of villains at once’ sequence. You know the sorts of thing I’m talking about. They’re in like, every ensemble action movie.

Which, I suppose brings us onto a fault of the movie. Although it is an original cast of characters and it does it’s own thing, the basic premise isn’t wholly new; there’s conflict between our heroes, they’re united against a common threat, they save the day and are celebrated by the City. We’ve seen it before.

Ghostbusters1Another issue is with the villain. From the moment he was on screen, I enjoyed actor Neil Casey, but it gets to a point where he gets sidetracked in favour of Chris Hemsworth, who is doing his best to try out his comedy chops in this film.

But it does eventually come round full-circle, culminating in a final-confrontation that I wasn’t expecting and thought was quite a clever riff on the finale of the original film.

Furthermore, the reason those issues aren’t really that big’a deal are because the humour and spirit enthused in the film throughout by it’s cast and crew mean that you don’t really care that the story isn’t all that original, because it’s the characters that are giving you that much craved originality.

(The film also ranks highly in my estimations for having enjoyable credits; not like ‘I have to stay because there’s a little extra at the end; the actual credits are enjoyable)

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Film & TV

 

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Can you still make money from film critiquing?

Time was, when people wanted to know if a film was good, they’d look to the experts.

But nowadays, everyone and their aunt can watch a film, type out a review, and lay claim to the title of ‘film critic’. Furthermore, some moviegoers even argue that the word of the professionals means nothing. Using Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as an example; following a horde of negative reviews, claims came out that the film ‘wasn’t made for the critics’ and that the critics were following ‘an agenda’.

I’ve always been interested in this as a possible career path; but in a world where everyone has the tools at their disposal to write their own reviews and disavow anything career critics say, is that even possible anymore?

So when we started our ‘Research and Development’ module in class, and were told that we had to research a section of the industry, I instantly knew what I’d look into.

At first, I questioned how one would become a major film critic, but it was eventually whittled down to ‘Is film critiquing a viable means of making money?’

After agreeing that that was a feasible topic to research, my lecturer quickly interjected that the answer was ‘no’, unknowingly crushing my future prospects. My hopes and dreams were further beaten to a bloody pulp after a meeting with my supervisor, who told me to stay away from a portfolio of film reviews for my MA project. And a career in it.

I’m sure it’s not just me whose been told all of this. But I was determined to set the record straight. Obviously it must be possible to get paid for reviewing films, otherwise, who would write publications like Empire and Total Film?

The boundaries for our research were clear; the lecturers wanted us to talk to people in the industry and find work experience.

So, I started e-mailing around. If I could think of a blog, publication or prominent YouTubers who may be able to help me out or offer me experience, I messaged them.

Meanwhile, I began scouring indeed to see what sort of jobs were on the market. The first related results I came across were these:

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I applied to VultureHound and No Salt Popcorn, mostly out of curiosity.

I heard nothing from the latter. Likewise, I heard nothing from most of the other people I tried to contact.

But what I did get was a job offer from the former. As you can see from the advert, it was unpaid, but I took it anyway, painfully aware of the fact my lecturer and supervisor were still in the right, and that I was perhaps destined to work at Subway until the end of time.

Fortunately, as anyone who reads my blog on the regular will know, that was not to be the case.

Unfortunately, I still had to get by that whole ‘not getting paid’ thing. I searched on.

Still regarding Empire as the pinnacle of British film publications, I applied for a work experience placement. Empire don’t accept these placements directly, and so I was forced to do it through a company called GoThinkBig.
GoThinkBig were nice enough to let me know just the other day that I didn’t have a place on the program. Y’know, almost two months after I applied and after several of the allotted times for the placements had been and gone. Gee, thanks for that. I obviously wouldn’t have figured that out myself…

That was sarcasm.

I did figure it out by myself.

It was starting to seem like getting to a point where you could be paid to review films was an impossibility for anyone not already inside the review world. In fact, this was compounded by a little anecdote I heard when I attended a guest lecture by Mark Fisher, who revealed that he happened upon his career in journalism while he was renting a room from the former publisher of The List. With his job as a box-office assistant about to come to an end, Mark was offered a a job at that same aforementioned magazine as a production assistant, and soon began taking on editorial work.

He’s now a theatre critic who writes for The Guardian, Scotland on Sunday, The Sunday Times, The Herald and The Scotsman. He also gets the award for ‘fastest reply in regards to this assignment’, after I e-mailed him to confirm the details of that story. Ten minutes. Winner.

So y’know, he’s kind of a big deal.

Fortunately, the rest of the lecture was amusing and informative; perhaps one of the most interesting and enjoyable that I’ve been to in my time here in Falmouth.

Unfortunately (yes, I’m doing the whole ‘fortunately, unfortunately’ thing twice in the space of 300 words. What of it? It’s my blog. I’ll do what I want) it, unintentionally, suggested that if you really want to be paid to write reviews, you had to have connections and a lot’a luck.

Downer.

And that’s when I realised for the first time, despite having been collecting Empire for more than half a year, that they actually have their phone numbers on the intro page. No more faffing about in the hopes that someone would respond.

In other words: stalker time.

So I called the reviews editor at Empire, Nick de Semlyan. Initially, he sounded skeptical hearing an unknown voice on the other end of the phone, but he’s a stand-up guy, so he agreed to help me out.

His words provided some much needed positivity, as he explained how enjoyable it is to be a film critic; to get paid to do something that you love. In regards to becoming a prominent film critic, he stressed that practice was what it took. That one would need to be constantly reading (/watching) and writing to perfect their craft.

True words, and ones that reminded me of a speech we had been given by our lecturers at the start of the course. Words that they gave to all of us, whether we wanted to write novels, non-fiction, copy or script. We needed to keep reading (/watching) and keep writing.

He recounted his own journey; revealing his origins as a writer for Sheffield’s university paper, before eventually moving on to bigger publications like Rolling StoneFHMStuff and Time Out.

So Nick essentially confirmed for me that it was possible to get paid to review films, but
that it took a lot of practice and preparation.

However it was clear Nick was quite like Mark; he was already embedded in the system. But how would one get to their level?

It was following these encounters that I managed to get hold of a freelance critic by the name of Chris Edwards. Being a freelancer, Chris was able to look at this from a different point of view.

Chris explained being a film critic, for him, is fulfilling and claimed that being treated like the rest of the press was an odd privilege. But it wasn’t always that way, as Chris spent three years writing for a blog site for free. He described that part of the process as frustrating, saying he doesn’t think editors should use a writers words purely for exposure, as it’s a skill that deserves payment. He then went on to give the most decisive answer I’ve had. He said that he didn’t think it could be viewed as a viable means of making money. But when he said that, he wasn’t talking about film critics as a whole; so much as people just starting out, a.k.a. me; the guy whose blog you’re reading.

He went on to reveal that he’d built his entire career around Twitter; promoting himself and his work; and from a combination of experience and his social media profile, he was able to get to the stage where job offers come ‘thick and fast’.

So surely that’s the key then? Mark, Nick and Chris stressed how important a wealth of experience and practice is, and how social media is perhaps the most useful tool of a critic in this day and age.

Except, I guess… their words.

But it seems it takes time for those words to make an impact. As I stated at the start of this post, anyone can write a review if they feel like it. And a lot of them don’t ask for pay. I spoke to my own editor at VultureHound, Michael Dickinson, who confirmed that VultureHound doesn’t need to advertise paid positions because they know they can hire writers who are simply looking for exposure; a chance to make a name for themselves and write about things that they love.

Taking the other writers I’ve spoken to’s words into consideration; this is a necessary step. VultureHound itself is still growing; and so perhaps looking for big-time, well-paid writers might be slightly unrealistic. But by allowing people to write for free, as long as they can write to a good standard, it helps elevate VultureHound‘s status and give aspiring writers a much needed platform for their work before they get the chance to seek employment at bigger name publications.

The importance of this was further highlighted when a friend from my previous degree forwarded a job advertisement on Twitter to me the other day. The site, Polygon, asks for writers to submit previous examples of their writing, but highlights these pieces must not be from one’s own personal blog. Hence the need for magazines like VultureHound.

So at the end of the day you, obviously, can get paid to watch and review films. But firstly, it may well take a while. And secondly when you see these jobs advertised, you might notice that they’re not just looking for ‘film critics’, they’re generally looking for ‘film journalists’ or ‘writers’ or ‘article contributors’ as well (/instead).

Still, it’s good to know that I’m on the right track.

Also, I feel like the longer this post gets, the more frequently I say VultureHound.

So, speaking of VultureHound, keep an eye out this Saturday for my next feature and a review of The Tunnel: season two at some point next week [read: whenever I actually write it].

Thanks for reading, and good luck to any prospective film critics out there! We can do this!

And yes, the first film I chose to review for something other than my own blog was 50 Shades of Grey. Please don’t judge me.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Film & TV, Life

 

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Subway Stories: That Time I Got Blamed For Famine

No, you didn’t read that title wrong.

So, in Subway, you can get three different sizes of sandwich; the foot-long (over which there was some controversy in America, when customers began to question whether they were actually getting a foot-long sandwich); the six inch (which after ordering, one guy once walked out of the shop after ordering and finding my co-worker had cut it at 5.8 inches); and the kids pack, which is four inches long.

I don’t know if adults are technically allowed the kids pack, but what the heck, I don’t work there anymore. It’s behind me now.

Anyway, this one time, a guy comes in; it’s late, he’s pretty drunk, and asks for the smallest thing on the menu. I try to be nice; I suggest the kids pack; it’s like a quid cheaper than everything else on the menu. He’s all for it.

So I get the bread out; cut two inches off a six inch. And since no one get’s two inches of sandwich, I put it with the other wasted bread.

He instantly catches on to this.

“What’re you going to do with that piece of bread?” he asks me. And I tell him. I’m tired, I just want to go home.

“You’re throwing it away?!” he asks. I already hate him by this stage. But I don’t show it.

He goes on to remind me there are people starving in Africa. A whole continent of starving children. And here I am, throwing away two inches of bread. He looks at me as if asking how I sleep at night.

And then he just goes ahead and says it. That those same children are starving because I’m throwing away food.

He then asked me how I felt about the whole situation. How I felt that I was causing people to starve.

HOLD UP. Not that this is entirely relevant; but you’re a white Irish guy. I’m a second generation African. I FEEL LIKE I HAVE MORE BLOODY STAKE IN THIS THAN YOU DO. Prick.

And I’m making you food. I could just tell you to fuck off. Don’t act like you’re better than me. Drunk, alone and heckling someone who’s making you some much needed food.

So I turned it around on him. I asked how he felt ordering such a small sandwich to force me to cut some bread off and waste it, thereby starving those same children.

He didn’t like that. He tried to glare at me. But he was too drunk to maintain eye-contact.

He tried another retort. I’d stopped listening by this point, so I told him whatever he said was ‘Great’ and asked if he would like any salad in his sandwich.

He shut up after that. The silence was bliss.

Now, on one hand, I understand that it is a waste. But then, if we were to cut some of the bread into thirds, and no one ordered kids packs, that in itself would be more of a waste. Kids don’t want smaller bits of food. They want what adults are getting.

And more importantly, as I’ve already mentioned. If you’re asking someone to do something for you, maybe DON’T FUCKING TRY AND INSULT THEM IF YOU WANT THE JOB TO GET FINISHED. I don’t care if you need to sober up. Try dealing with your drinking problems without being an arsehole, yeah?

You just can’t win.

So that was the time I got accused of famine in Africa. I don’t miss Subway.


 

Anywho; completely unrelated; this week I’m working on a project researching if it’s possible to make money off film reviewing. Because watching films and getting paid for it sounds quite lovely, am I right?

That’ll be up in a few days. So film buffs, keep an eye out. It’ll feature input from a couple of magazine film editors, provided they actually allow me to cite them.

I don’t know how confident I feel about this. I won’t lie to you.

There will also be less anger and swearing. Probably.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Life

 

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