Saturday, August 27, 2011

(500) days of Summer - DVD review

This is a relationship movie that probably diverges from the sort of film I would normally watch.  However it has some decent music on the soundtrack and it references The Smiths, Belle and Sebastian and The Pixies so I thought I would give it a go.  There really is nothing better to do when you are stuck in an on-call room miles from home on a Saturday night.

The film is about a failed relationship.  A guy meets someone that he thinks is his prefect woman and it turns out that she isn't.  The film is OK but it's not amazing.  Juno is much better for this sort of stuff.

Legion - DVD review

Legion is a mental film.  It's like some sort of Fundamentalist Christian gun nut porn.  A baby has been born and the world is about to end because God has given up on humanity.  A renegade angel decides to save the human race with lots of guns. 

I am worried that a certain type of nutjob may regard this film as a documentary.  It's ok if you regard it as a bit of throwaway nonsense but I think some people believe shit like this.

Fevre Dream by George RR Martin

I enjoy George RR Martin's writing but I've taken a bit if a hiatus with the 'Game of Thrones' series.  The plot seems to meander and I just can't be arsed.  I picked up Fevre Dream as an alternative.  The novel was originally published in 1982 and it tells the story of Abner Marsh, a river boat owner on the Mississippi.  He is approached by Joshua York, a mysterious man who wants to invest in his company and build a new Steamboat.

I'm not spoiling anything by saying that this is a vampire book.  Vampire books are ten a penny but this one is not too shit.  It's acutally a good read.  And, unlike Game of Thrones, it has an ending.  Always useful to have a story that ends.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Joe Simon: My life in comics

I ordered this from Amazon on the basis of a positive review in SFX magazine and it is a satisfying read.  Joe Simon was involved in the American comicbook industry from the 1930's on and he co-created Captain America among other.  He worked closely with Jack Kirby for many years and he adapted to the many changes in the marketplace over 7 decades.

This book is mainly autobiography and the life of Joe Simon is interesting.  He was born to a working class family and he initially became an artist and a sports reporter before entering the early comic book scene.  He was one of the few artists who paid attention to contracts and copyright which is why his name still appears on Captain America comics and films to this day.  He gives a fascinating insight into the work of Jack Kirby and the dodgy practices of publishers.

Simon dictated the book and it's an easy read.  Worthwhile for comic book fans.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Long time coming by Robert Goddard

This book isn't really a work of high literature but it's entertaining.  It would probably make a good popcorn movie.  I was unaware of Goddard but  he has published 22 books since 1990.  His books are apparently all historical thrillers.

This story jumps between England in 1976, Belgium in the early days of world war two and Ireland a few months later.  It's all a bit plot twisty but in a satisfying sort of way.  It's an undemanding read and I worked my way through it on several trains at stupid times of day.  I might read another of his books if it falls into my lap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The state of the nation is fucked up

Thankfully the country appears to have got it's shit together tonight.  There is less evidence of violence, looting and rioting in the media so far this evening.  I hope this situation continues.  The underlying triggers for this shit are unclear.  There is an element of mass hysteria, easily transmitted by social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook.  There is also a sense of disenfranchisement with society among a lot of people.

If you go to a shit school where everybody treats you badly, people kick your ass regularly, you're surrounded by drugs and a macho-asshole culture and you enter a job market with no qualifications or skills life is difficult.  And if you then get your benefits cut the world gets a whole lot worse.  At some point there will be an explosion.  I went to a fairly shit school but my life has been a lot better than many of those poor fuckers that have been going mental down south.

I'm not making excuses for violence.  A criminal is a criminal and a crime is a crime.  Most of there people deserve some form of punishment and hopefully they will be brought to justice.  I'm just saying that I can perhaps imagine why these people are acting like dicks.

The news coverage and the human stories have been horrifying.  It's all bad but the story that got to me the most was that of the three young Muslim men who were randomly murdered with a car as they stood in the streets trying to safeguard their mosque.  The father of one of the men ended up trying to resuscitate his son at the roadside.  Words cannot express how sorry I feel for that father and the rest of their community.  The world is full of fucking idiots.

The idiots appearing on the television have been spectacular.  The two feckless, stupid girls admitting to looting because they are 'showing the police we can do what we want'.  The subnormal man from Salford who was rioting because of the 'Polish coming over and taking our jobs',  King fucktard, Nick Griffin, the snivelling leader of the BNP trying to incriminate people with slightly different skin tones.  Britain is full of wankers.

So, what's going to happen now?  Are we heading towards a police state?  Will things get worse?  The government is failing at the moment and I don't see how things can improve without more money for police and society.  I don't know where that money will come from.  I don't think any of the other parties could improve things.

That's enough moaning.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine live at the ABC2 in Glasgow

I've been a fan of the Dead Kennedys and Jello Biafra since 1989 when I started at secondary school.  I have seen Biafra do a spoken word show before but I've never seen him with a band.  I actually came down from Dundee specifically to see this show.  There are very few bands that would make me do that.  I need to get up at the crack of dawn to get to work tomorrow morning but I'm hapy to say that it was worth it.

Before I talk about biafra I need to mention Desalvo, the Glasweigan hardcore band.  They are like the Jesus Lizard but more fun.  Well worth seeing.  Buy their album if you can find it.

Jello Biafra is now 53 years old.  While I admire him I think it is safe to say that his body is not a temple.  He is not Henry Rollins.  He looks like an average 53 year old man.  He still managed to put on one of the most energetic stage shows I've seen in a long time.  He stage-dived about 10 times.  I was worried that he would die.

I was also worried about the rest of the crowd.  The average age was over 40.  I was younger than average for a change (I'm 34).  It was fairly good to see lots of middle aged men going totally mental to hardcore punk.

Biafra has to be one of the best punk frontmen I've seen,  He was giving good chat about David Cameron, vodaphone tax evasion, Rupert Murdoch, Obama and everything else.  His voice held out for nearly two hours.

The setlist was a dream.  California Uber Alles, Forkboy, Police Truck, New Feudalism, Holiday in Cambodia.  I haven't checked out the last two albums yet but I will.  I enjoyed the new stuff.

Overall this was a great gig.  I might never see him live again but I'm glad I made it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Rioting in London

It's fairly horrible to see those riots in London.  It's brutal and senseless.  Violence is generally unacceptable and people are dying. 

The root causes of the rioting are diverse.  I would guess that poverty, lack of education and a general feeling of hopelessness.  Sadly, a lot of racist idiots are trying to take advantage of the situation.

I hope it all gets sorted out soon.  Sorting out the causes will take longer.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Grant Morrison - Talking with Gods DVD

I had to order this from America because it hasn't been released officially in the UK  It follows the career of Grant Morrison in a similar way to his Supergods book.  It had a limited theatrical release last year.

Morrison tells his life story in a talking heads format.  Again, I enjoy it because he talks about Glasgow and comic books.  After reading Supergods this film doesn't really give me any new insights but it's still enjoyable.  There are interviews with people like Frank Quietly, Steve Yowell and Dez Skinn.  Morrison again has bad stuff to say about Alan Moore. 

Megamind - DVD review

I was impressed with Megamind.  I enjoyed this film a lot more than I expected to.  It's a CGI cartoon from the Dreamworks studio about a supervillan called Megamind who ends up losing his way.  It's a lot better than 'Despicable me', a film with a similar premise that was released at around the same time.

The voice cast was strong with Will Ferrell voicing Megamind supported by Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross and Brad Pitt.  Ferrell is more enjoyable as a disembodied voice in some ways.  I often find him a bit annoying in live action films but he is good in this.

This was a 5 quid supermarket purchase and worthwhile for that price.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Alan Moore: Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge

Storyteller is a biographical work dealing with the life and work of Alan Moore.  Moore has helped with the book and it probably shows.  Millidge is clearly a fan and his prose is never too critical of Moore.  I'm a big fan of Alan Moore myself but in some ways a more balanced biography may have been more interesting.  With that slight qualification in mind this book is still worthwhile.  It contains a fairly comprehensive account of all of Moore's work from his underground magazine and newspaper strip beginning through his blockbuster comic book years to his later musical experiments and more alternative comics.

The book is well illustrated with archive material from Moore and the artists he has worked with.  We get original scripts, sketchbooks, plot charts and pencil artwork.  We also get a CD collecting 80 minutes worth of Moore's musical work.  It's a great package.

This book may not be the final critical biography of Moore but it is an interesting account of an interesting man.

Captain America - film review

I was actually looking forward to the Captain America film.  Obviously, I'm not American but I've been aware of Captain America since the cartoons were shown on Scottish TV in the early  '80s.  I've really enjoyed some of the recent Captain America comics published over the past 5 years.  The character may seem like a lightening rod for unfortunate yankee jingoism but generally the stories are good.

The film is part of the Avengers sequence, tying in with Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk.  Those films have all been good and Captain America does not let the team down.  It's well made, funny and heart-warming in places. There are lots of knowing nods to the fanboys (like me) with enough straightforward action for the casual viewer. 

The 3D felt a bit tacked on.  3D films really just seem to be an excuse to seperate me from more of my hard earned cash.  This film is probably just as good in 2D.

Well worth a watch.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Supergods by Grant Morrison

Grant Morrison is a Glasweigan comic book writer.  He's been writing comics for about 33 years.  He has written a lot of good comic books and a  lot of crazy comic books.  The crazy comic books may be partly due to his other career as a Chaos Magician which involves some drug use.  He has apparently left the Chaos Magic behind in recent years.

Morrison use to write the Starblazer comic libraries that DC Thompson produced in the '80s as well as toy tie-in Zoids and Zenith.  At different points in my childhood I loved all of those books as well as his later work for DC comics and Marvel. 

In Supergods Morrison starts with a history of comic books superheroes, initially focusing on Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman before moving on to lesser character such as Green Lantern or the Flash.  He also looks at Captain America and the early Marvel characters.  He follows the genre through the '50s and the '60s as Lee, Kirby and Ditko created the big Marvel characters like Spiderman before moving on to the darker comics of the '80s and '90s.

Morrison knows his stuff and he is clearly a fan.  For the first part of the book he gives us a decent critical history of the evolution of superheroes.  An autobiographical element enters the story from the '70s onwards and in a few chapters he is the focal point of the narrative.  I enjoy hearing about his life in familiar parts of Glasgow and some of his 'cosmic experiences' and 'rituals' are fairly amusing.  I'm not sure that these passages will appeal to everyone.

It is also good to hear what he was trying to achieve in some of his own work.  His rivalries with Alan Moore and Mark Millar are also given space.  He is also critical of some of the editorial constraints that were put on him at Marvel. 

Worth a read if you like comic books.  Some of it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

For more go to his recently updated website.