Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TV on the Radio - live at Glasgow ABC

I think this was the third time that I've seen TVOTR.  They continue to be an innovative and energetic band.  I've only listened to their most recent album 'Nine types of light' a few times but it's pretty good.  It's a progressive album showcasing the more mellow side of the band.

Tonight, in Glasgow, they were anything but mellow.  They sounded amped up and angry.  The vocals were overdriven and the beat was fast.  I guess they are missing Gerard Smith, their bass player, who sadly died from lung cancer a few months ago.  Tonight TVOTR were very alive, paying an appropriate tribute to his memory.

All of my favourite songs were aired as well as some choice cuts from the new album.  Sadly  the venue was not full.  I always feel that TV on the Radio are underappreciated.  I wish more people would love their music and buy their records.  I think the world would be a nicer place if they were massively successful.

A good show.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

I borrowed this book from my Dad.  He has been reading the series fairly quickly.  I have also heard many positive things about the TV series.  I've enjoyed reading the book myself.

Game of Thrones is the first volume in an epic fantasy series by George RR Martin.  It's a bit like Lord of the Rings but with sex and more violence.  The book is fairly hefty but I managed to read it in 4 days.  I'm looking forward to starting the next volume.

The book focuses on the Stark family, a clan of noblemen from the north.  The head of the family was a close friend of the king of the country and at the start of the book he is asked to become the 'hand of the king'.   The plot develops from there.  It's a twisty plot.

It's a bit of a bubblegum read but distracting enough.  Good for an on-call room or a beach.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where the bodies are buried by Chris Brookmyre

I try and pick up everything Chris Brookmyre writes.  I first started to read his stuff 11 years ago when I was at medical school.  I like his books because they are often set in Glasgow and they often feature characters and locations that I recognise.

This is his 14th book now.  It's a stronger one and it marks a bit of a change in direction.  He has toned down the humour and increased the drama.  I stayed up reading till about 3 in the morning last night.  I felt a bit rough this morning but the story was fairly compulsive.

I don't want to give much of the story away but it is a murder mystery set in the Glasgow underworld with parts of the action taking place in East Kilbride and Hamilton.  Hope they make a film version.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Frost/Nixon DVD review

This DVD had been sitting in my 'to watch' pile for a while and I finally got round to it yesterday evening. It stars character actor Martin Sheen as a playboy television host David Frost who decides to interview Richard Nixon after Nixons' fall from grace.

I mainly remember Frost as a heavyweight current affairs broadcaster and also as the presenter of the daytime TV show 'Through the keyhole'. The contrast between those two roles is somewhat sharp but I don't really remember the media darling playboy that we see in this film.

I've read a few books about Nixon. I know he was a bit of a bad guy. In this film he seems to be treated fairly sympathetically. I felt sorry for the isolated figure we see in this film.

A decent film.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In the red by Mark Tavener

In the red is a comic novel set in Thatcherite London of the mid '80s. A string of bank managers are murdered by a serial killer and a BBC journalist tries to solve the case. The journalists are all hard drinking mavericks in the finest film noir tradition while the management of the BBC are all incompetent. Politicians are all perverts with an interest in being spanked. All very believable really.

Indirectly this book inspired the Stephen Fry TV series Absolute Power. I believe In the red was filmed by the BBC about 15 years ago but sadly I have not seen it. From what I have read of the TV series I hope it gets a DVD release at some point. The cast is very good. The book is entertaining if not intellectually challenging. I got through the paperback in one day.

I'm not sure if this book is in print at the moment. I found a cheap second-hand copy on amazon. Worth a couple of hours of your time.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Time lapse photography - seeing people grow older on Facebook

Randomly, I was playing about with Facebook and I came accross some photos of people I used to know a bit in Glasgow 15 years ago. They looked very different. It's strange how time changes people. I have a mental image of people at 18 and I realise I probably would never imagine people as older and fatter. I know that I'm older and fatter now but I just don't expect it of other people.

Life is strange

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Social Network - DVD review

I use Facebook a lot. Probably because I live in a cupboard in a hospital 80 miles from home for a significant amount of time just now. It's good for keeping in touch with people and I have a broadband dongle for my computer and no TV access so it helps stave off the boredom. I use blogger and twitter for similar reasons.

I started using Facebook in 2006 which was probably late in the game. I had already been on this blog for a couple of years at that time. It's strange sometimes to think of the technological and communication developments that have taken place over the last 10 years. I only got a mobile phone in September 2000 when I started medical school at the age of 23. Facebook has had a big impact on my life and on the lives of many people of my generation.

The Social Network is a great film telling the story of how Mark Zuckerberg and a few others created Facebook and made it a success. I didn't really fancy this film before I watched it. It was another supermarket purchase designed to keep me from boredom while I'm stuck in my shitty on-call room. The film was directed by David Fincher, one of my favourite directors, with a script by Aaron Sorkin. It has a soundtrack by Trent Reznor with tracks from the Dead Kennedys, Fucked Up and The Cramps. It held my attention well.

The film may or may not tell the true story of Zuckerberg and Facebook but it is entertaining. I'm guessing that it tells a legally acceptable version of events. It's entertaining and worth watching when you want to see a wordy film.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Do people actually come looking for this blog?

I've been looking at the stats function on blogger and I've noticed a few things. Some people actually seem to google 'drphunk opinion' and come to this blog. I know that one or two of my friends do read this page but I'm not sure how many other people would do that.

I think a lot of people just land on this page randomly, after a google search for a review of a film or a book. Some people probably end up here looking for music to download (and they will be sadly disappointed).

It's still satisfying on a personal basis to write this blog. It serves as a sort of online diary and it lets me know what I've thought of something at a specific time. I've been writing here for nearly 6 years now and I will probably continue to do it for as long as I can. I'm just glad that some other people look at it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Dollhouse - TV series

I've just finished watching season 2 of Dollhouse on DVD. I enjoyed the end of the series and I'm a bit sad that no more episodes are being made. It's another glorious failure by Joss Whedon (the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). It's not as good as the greatly missed Firefly series (or the spin-off film Serenity) but it is entertaining enough.

Dollhouse had a high concept at its core. It tells the story of a sinister agency that has some rather unpleasant technology. They have the ability to implant different personalities and abilities into the minds of 'dolls' who are rented out to serve the whims of rich, morally dubious men. The star of the series is Echo, a 'doll' who begins to overcome her programming.

Dollhouse was a different sort of science fiction series. It isn't space opera on horror fantasy. Thankfully there were no vampires or werewolves. It is more in the spirit of something like The Prisoner. Some of the episodes make you feel generally uneasy - probably because in some ways the show is about prostitution and mind control. Some of the episodes are dud but some of it really worked. The characters are interesting and involving enough for me to care about them. Both the first and second season improve in later episodes so you may need to persevere a bit if you want to check this out but it is probably worthwhile.

The series is wrapped up fairly well in the last episode of season 2. We are left with a few unanswered questions but nothing that will keep me up at night. I wouldn't mind seeing more of this but I know that is unlikely to happen.

A bit of a loss but probably too smart for success.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Doghouse - DVD review

I suspect that this film was written in crayon by a misogynist. It's pretty bad. Not the worst film I've seen but not great.

x-men: First Class - film review

I've been looking forward to X-men: First Class for several months now. I've been a fan of the X-men since the mid '80s when I first picked up the comics as a kid. I really liked the first two films directed by Bryan Singer although X-men 3 was a disaster. The x-men: Origins Wolverine film was entertaining but braindead.

The franchise has been given a healthy boot in the arse with this film. The film looks at the young Charles Xavier and Magneto as they first meet in sixties Oxford. Erik (Magneto) is a Jewish survivor of a Nazi concentration camp who uses his mutant superpowers to track down and kill former Nazis. His main target is Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hellfire Club. Shaw killed Erik's mother and Erik is very intent on killing him.

Shaw is planning to start a nuclear war to allow mutants to become the dominant species on the planet. Xavier and Magneto work with the CIA to stop him.

The film feels a bit like an Austin Powers film. There are a few sneaky cameo appearances from future x-men and some some big explosive action sequences. It's all very entertaining and well worth seeing.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Death Instinct by Jeb Rubenfeld

I picked this book up because it is a sequel to 'The interpretation of murder', a historical novel that stars Sigmund Freud among others. Jeb Rubenfeld mixed historical fact with fiction in an entertaining manner in that book and he achieves the same feat here.

In The Death Instinct several apparently separate events occur and finally are found to be linked. The book opens with the bombing of Wall Street in September 1920. This historical event was the greatest act of terrorism in the USA until the bombing of the world trade centre nearly 75 years later. Rubenfeld has tried to be historically accurate here although in reality the real bombers were never caught.

Freud appears again and the plot also reaches the battlefields of the First World War and the anti-Semitic regions of Germany and Austria as the Nazi party rose to power. It is a bit like the Da Vinci Code in a way although this book is probably better written.

An entertaining read. Good for a holiday.