A Murmuration of Stalins

The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, 2017)

I’ve been watching Armando Iannucci’s comedy for decades now. He was there behind On the Hour and The Friday Night Armistice, not to mention The Thick of It and In the Loop. Much of his work this century has been exploring the back stabbing shenanigans at the heart of politics, even as reality outstripped him.
Continue reading →

Rousing up a mighty monster from his sleep

The Snowman (Tomas Alfredson, 2017)

It has to be said that this serial killer detective thriller is a very dark adaptation of Raymond Briggs and you’d think that there would at least be a remix of Aled Jones on the closing —

Dammit, Peter Bradshaw has already made this joke and I wouldn’t want to channel his views.
Continue reading →

Teeps n the Hood

Electric Dreams: The Hood Maker (Julian Jarrold, 2017)

Ok, what I’m not going to do is laboriously compare these Channel 4 PKD Estate sanctioned adaptations to the originals, partly because the f-word is not necessarily useful to criticism and partly because the collected stories are currently behind a pile of boxes. And it’s also worth noting that, frankly, some of the short stories are pretty ropey. See, say, “Paycheck”, which the film might just about improve on. So I’m ignoring the fact that this version of “The Hood Maker” shifts emphases, instead focusing on a general sense of the PhilDickian.

The jizz of Dick, to borrow a term from birding.

Oh, and spoilers.
Continue reading →

Plates

The start of term comes on the heels of a summer where I more or less ground to a halt, my body clearly telling me I needed sleep. We’ve updated the VLEs for all the modules, so that they all look the same, but importing and updating old content took longer than planned because Blackboard is still clunky despite claiming drag and drop.

Continue reading →

Eleven Minutes to Nine

“I’d sort of like to see some of my ideas, not just special effects of my ideas, used… and concepts that awaken the mind rather than the senses.”

Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villneuve, 2017)

May contain spoilers — I am circumspect at the start, with a firmer warning later on.

So after a full week of lectures and tutorials and a London day trip, I checked when a certain sequel was showing and saw there was a Thursday night preview with one seat left. So I booked.

I confess to a love-hate relationship with Blade Runner, ranging from the hating it because it betrays the source to loving it for visual style and allusiveness to hating it because half the students were writing about it and I’d seen it too many times. If I’m honest, I didn’t see the need for the sequel and I wasn’t convinced Scott could pull it off — and Prometheus and Covenant didn’t help, but the baton had baeen handed on.

I fully expected to hate it and had kept my expectations low, as I saw a number of rave reviews and Kim Newman’s balanced response, although I carefully didn’t read past his spoiler point.

Continue reading →

Cupid Stunt

eCupid (J.C. Calciano, 2011)

In one of those it’s my blessing and my curse moments, I keep realising 90% of the way through a film that I should have been taking notes because it is relevant to my Research Project.

Most of the time the film is pants.

Valerian, say.

Continue reading →

Developed World Problems

I wanted to go to Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, but there was a conference on the Saturday so I either had two early starts or would have to stay over night. There were no rooms in Liverpool to be had for under £200, so I figured I ought to be able to get something near Euston for under £100. That way I could be in Liverpool by noon, without having to get up at 6am two days running. (Of course, I probably could have gone to Liverpool on the Friday, but when would I write the paper then?)

As if by magic, the booking appeared on my phone, and so I could use Google Maps to plot the walk there from the soon-to-be-lamented Bree Louise. It might be worth noting I was already exhausted and my left knee was giving me aggro.

Everyone seems to want your opnion of how your stay or travel or whatever was, so I filled in the feedback webpages and it suggested that I share to Trip Advisor via the link below.

There was no link below.

Trip Advisor’s loss is your gain.

Lucky you

Possibly this is GoogleMaps’ fault, but living in the twenty-first century I was pleased to see that GoogleMaps knew where and when I was staying, so I could navigate a route. Unfortunately, this took me to one of the other three or four Premier Inns near York Road. Thanks, Google.

When I found the right hotel, check in seemed fine and I descended into the bowels of the hotel to find a compact room, with a comfortable bed if you are tall enough to clamber into it. (I think it was a metre off the ground.) The bed only has one side which is accessible, so if you have a bunkmate who lost the toss and gets the wall, they either wake you up or clamber over you, possibly both.

The first thing I noticed was a lack of kettle (there was a mumble about free coffee in the restaurant area, but I’m not sure I want that at three o’clock in the morning). Having just stayed in a cheaper hotel with kettle, fridge and microwave, I think someone is getting away with something for £100 a night. There isn’t a beaker in the bathroom, so you couldn’t even drink from the tap.

There’s a double shower in a single cubicle, but the door to the cubicle is rather narrow — I just about squeezed through.

All the lights are controlled from a touchpad on the wall by the bed. This requires much groping around in the dark, and not in a pleasant way, as that sound much more fun than it really was.

On the positive side, there is a socket by the bed, so you can recharge your phone as you sleep and have the phone by you. Most hotels seem to put the sockets as far away from the bed as possible.

(I note also the stylised map of London on the wall — which rather straightens the Thames and is rather approximate about anthing approaching accuracy)