Dredd 3D

This review was originally part of an overall blog entry,as I talk quite a bit about the movie Dredd 3D, It seemed better to just dedicate review to one entry.

With a large degree of caution, I went to the cinema with my wife to see the new film Dredd 3D. In case the word Dredd means nothing to you, he’s a comic book hero from the British comic 2000AD. And he looks like this:

It has been a long time since I’ve bought or read 2000AD, it just kind of happens to you after a certain age, however, it occupies a special place in my heart for being heavily influential during my teenage years as a motivation to enjoy futurism and taking an interest in illustration.

During the mid 90’s, Hollywood got it’s grubby mits on the Dredd IP and managed to single handedly make cinematic vomit out of it by releasing a film based on Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, with a script penned on toilet paper using faeces for ink. It was so awful, I remember fighting the urge to stab the person sitting next to me out of blind vitrilolic rage. The film was directed by Danny Cannon, be warned, remember the name and avoid.

Inevitably,Dredd sloped away from cinema, leaving a godawful aftertaste in everyone’s mouths and wasn’t seen again. During the early naughties, rumours began to surface that the parent company for the Dredd franchise were in early planning stages to make a couple of new Dredd films, wiping the slate clean for a proper reboot, putting Danny Cannon’s wrongs to right. So, fans of the comic once again found their interests piqued by the promise that the new movies would be strictly true to their source material.

This was a teaser for the soon to be revived franchise, although after an initial burst of publicity about the early stages of development, things went quiet…for about nine years.

I don’t think any long standing fans forgot about it, once a promise is made, you kind of expect some sort of delivery , even if it takes nearly a decade.

Finally, sometime around a couple of years ago, the rumour mill kicked in and it appeared that Judge Dredd really, really would be making a return to the silver screen. Karl Urban was going to be the leading actor. No, he would not be removing his helmet, Yes, it would stick more to the roots of the original comic stories, Yes, the production would be geared towards an adult audience and by the way, here’s a movie still.

Reading the general vibe this image created amongst the interested and curious web denizens, one could detect a slightly hopeful sounding ‘Hmmm!” which soon became

“AAAAAAAgh!” when the following images were released.

“What the fuck have they done with his bike?!” People cried.

“What the fuck is wrong with their ill fitting helmets?” I thought.

 

(Although, it had to be said, the helmets still looked pretty cool and infinitely better than)

(I still feel violent when I see this image.)

Well, in spite of the general bitching about the new aesthetics, there seemed to be a genuine optimism about the potential of the new film as Alex Garland had been brought in as script writer and the director Pete Travis had a reasonably shit-free resume of previous directorial outings.

So, what did I think of Dredd 3D?

Essentially, it’s a great film. It won’t stand to be one of ‘The greats’ of cinematic history, however, it has a truly worthy place for being a very decent contribution to the Judge Dredd brand. The synopsis (Lifted from the press release) is as follows:

The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge — a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture- a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.

And it pretty much delivers exactly what it says on the tin. I knew I was enjoying the film within minutes, it was the combination of gritty atmosphere, Karl Urban just nailing the persona of Dredd as soon as he appeared on screen. The aesthetics that people had been voicing concerns about seemed to begin making visual sense when viewed in motion. The film was largely shot  in Cape Town and Johannesburg, I think there were budgetary reasons for doing so. Visually, Mega City One in this new rendition was a very stripped-down version of the futuristic conurbation as seen in the comics, even the vehicles seen on street level had a more 20th century feel to them. It would have been tempting to be critical of this technological downgrading yet, as the film rapidly delivered a very plausible visual narrative, it was easy to accept this particular vision of Dredd’s world. All of which was further underlined by solid delivery from the cast, and the excellent industrial, gritty soundtrack by Paul Leonard-Morgan. It felt like watching a futuristic Dirty Harry movie. This is a salient point as Dredd the comic character was originally inspired largely on Clint Eastwood’s craggy faced, hard edged lawman.

I tend to appreciate that memorable, good movies have a particular beat to them, like music. The language of a good film is one of efficiency, scenes that are the right length, characters that remain plausible, plot points that progress in a logical sequence so that suspension of disbelief isn’t broken. Not overly relying on special effects to bolster weak points in the plot etc. There are plenty of movies out there that never achieve any of the above and these are the films I have little time or patience for. Dredd 3D managed to deliver a well structured story that remained engaging from start to finish.

The movie also restored some of my faith in Alex Garland as a script writer, having been generally disappointed with with his previous bungled third act in the movie Sunshine, a film I managed to love, then hate all in one sitting.

The thing to bear in mind with Dredd 3D, is that it’s nothing high brow, it offers little in the way of thought provoking ideas, if you are hoping for narrative depth, then this isn’t a film for you. Having said that, Judge Dredd as a creation has never been about that, he’s an urban, hardcore lawman constantly fighting crime in a dystopian sprawl. If you go to see the film with that in mind, then you’ll probably be entertained.

Olivia Thirlby’s depiction of Judge Anderson was probably my only minor sticking point, this is not a criticism of Thirlby as an actress because, I think she played her part as a rookie Judge as well as the script allowed her to. My quibble with Judge Anderson in the film is more to do with knowing what her character is like in the comics. She’s sassy, bold, confident and equally matched with Dredd as a fellow crime fighter. In the movie, she is none of this. The potential is possibly there for future sequels (presumably) but on the whole, Thirlby’s Anderson is an emotionally vulnerable woman doing her best to keep her head above water in a very trying set of circumstances, It works very well in the film, but she isn’t the PSI judge I grew to love reading about over the years.

It would be silly not to mention that Lena Headley was a superb Dredd villain, I had previously enjoyed her lethal and aloof performance as Cersei Lannister in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’. In Dredd, she served her role perfectly as the drug dealer gang leader Ma Ma, and was particularly chilling in her softly spoken, calm delivery of psychotic dialogue. There was just enough back story to illuminate how her character developed from downtrodden prostitute to a violent, drug dealing scumbag. Like much of the rest of the movie, her scenes were functional and lean, providing just enough information to give her purpose without getting bogged down with unnecessary exposition.

Much has been said about the 3D visuals in the film, some people have hyped them as equal to those experienced in Avatar. I don’t happen to agree with this but am open to the idea that my experience might have been compromised by the cinema I viewed it at. The 3D seemed ok but I never felt like I was immersed in the experience and certainly never felt like any objects were hurtling out of the screen towards me, like I felt when watching Avatar.

I’d be interested to read anyone else’s experiences with the 3D in Dredd to gage whether I was just unlucky with my local Odeon or not. As it currently stands, I could have happily watched the movie in 2D.

For the showcase 3D moments, the eye candy was all about the use of the fictional drug ‘Slow mo’. The scenes were shown from a user perspective and pretty spectacular. Lots of colour boosting and hyper-slow motion cinematography. The overall effect created an almost comic book style set of action sequences and made an excellent contrast to the grittier, more squalid scenery of Peach Trees Block.

My closing thoughts on Dredd are this; having seen it once, I would happily watch it again. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the Blu Ray is choc-full of extra features. It’s the sort of movie that has left me with a positive afterglow, it has plenty of moments that are pleasing to recall, which I think is generally the sign of a good film. It’s out in the UK at the moment and will be hitting the US on the 21st. I like to think that it will continue with favourable ratings, we’ve been given a taste of how Dredd’s world is ripe with cinematic potential, now this film is out, it begs for expansion and fleshing out.

++++

Walking Through The Morse Code Rain

I could tell you that I was trapped on the top deck of an abandoned old double decker bus somewhere on the promenade of Brighton. Yelling through a little sliding window to passers-by below.

“Help! Help! I’m trapped on this bus”

I was alone and a group of Japanese tourists just sauntered by as if my escape pleas were some sort of live entertainment. Everything about this situation was just wrong. Quite a few people passed but nobody looked up to see me in my desperation.

There was a commotion from the lower deck.

People.

I clambered down the stairs to see a group of teenage boys in scruffy school uniform piling on the bus, the doors were now clearly open.

I suppose you could say the boys looked a little like Etonian toffs on a day trip.

“How did you get in?!”

I asked.

“Duh! I pressed the manual door button,stupid.”

Said one of them.

I didn’t get off the bus because one of the boys had started driving it. That is how the brief transition occurred, that I was now in a darkened cinema, watching a film, an abstract animation of an old red double decker bus parked in a vast landscape with a red cloud formation swelling up in the sky to the left field. An audio waveform pulsed away in the top of the screen and began to rain lines of black ink and morse code across the expanse of the rest of the screen. A solitary man walked in the dash-dot droplets, devoid of concern for how linguistically drenched he might become.

Neatly transitioning to the arrival at an peculiar old factory standing like a giant cube of decaying bricks ,steel and concrete within a wasteland of extinct industry.

The boys got off the bus, which they’d parked in a cargo bay within the building’s interior.

I was immediately taken back by the gigantic installation of a suspended cuboid structure bearing down on all of us in a central hall area. It appeared to be made of brushed steel, glass and electric blue neon lights clustered in geometric formations similar to Bismuth crystals. I whipped out my phone and pointed it at the formation.
“Bloody Hell! These pictures will take themselves! However I point the camera, the photos are going to be brilliant”

(Or words to that effect)

Some of the steel cubes appeared to have spherical glass objects attached to them, these too glowed electric blue and reminded me of images I have seen of marine bacteria from electron microscope pictures.

I took a few shots and watched as the boys then left the main hall by ascending an old iron staircase. Curious, I followed and arrived in a darkened room with a glowing blue screen situated on the rear wall. I could see quite a few people at at a long modern rectangular table running along the length of the screen, they were all silhouetted, It looked like some kind of modernist rendition of The Last Supper (and another photo opportunity for my camera) Just as I was about to capture the scene, I crashed unexpectedly into Saturday morning. Concluding my adventure at 7:50 a.m

Keeping it Regular

Connect The Goddamn Dots!

Blogworthy news this week was the rare opportunity to see one of my all time favourite industrial thrash metal bands ‘Ministry’ play live (almost) on my doorstep at the O2 Arena in Bristol. I’ve seen them play live once before in London, so to travel a stone’s throw away was a real treat.

A couple of virtual friends arrived in Bath to pay my wife and I a visit, then we headed off to Bristol to see the band. These days I tend to shove earplugs in before live events like thisas I’ve rather grown fond of being able to hearthe day after a gig. My wife and I had found that the last time we saw Ministry that earplugs also made it easier to listen to the wall of sound emanating from the stage. It has to be said, apart from the dulling of the higher frequency noises, earplugs don’t affect the ability tohear the show in any kind of detrimental way.

Ministry played a blistering and furious one and three quarter hour set covering tracks from the most recent album ‘Relapse’ all the way back to ‘The mind is a terrible thing to taste’. The Bristol crowd seemed a little subdued to begin with but by the halfway mark, the audience energy ramped up into a suitable frenzy of jumping around and slam dancing at the core. I managed to get into the full swing of dancing like a loon but sorely regretted wearing my knee length New Rock boots which were heavy on the feet and made me feel like I’d been nailed to the floor, apart from that, the rest of my body got a good workout!

The highlight of the show came with the encore when the band played a couple of numbers from the album Psalm 69
NWO and Just one Fix, they also played Thieves and the infectiously danceable So What. The later, I went a bit mental dancing to.

Just as quickly as the evening began, it all seemed over in a flash. I’m hoping this won’t be the last time I get to see them live, they put on such an awesome show and I feel like I’m seventeen again when I dance like that.

As we piled out of the arena, I heard my name being called, I turned around to see my old chum from Norwich, Matt D standing behind me. We haven’t seen each other in a couple of years, it was good to see his little bawldy head again.

And then the rest of the week commenced, the usual stint of 5:30 am wake-ups and 21:30 Bed times. The space between is full of clambering around on scaffolds attending to an assortment of stone masonry jobs. I’m pretty much in my element with it all, there’s much to be said for doing work that you enjoy, it seems so much less like work.

On the building I’m working on, I’ve spent a bit of time building a radial wall into an area where there used to be some crunky old fire escape. Here’s what I’ve put in its place.

There’s now a sash window above the stonework, simple pleasures and a contribution to the historical arc of the building.

This week I’ve also been reading up on Hermeticism, following the observation that its symbology occasionally appears in my dreams in an explicit manner. What I mean by explicit, is that the symbology leaves little room for interpretation other than being of itself. I live my life with an enquiring mind, though not religious and not an atheist, my own spiritual perspective is one very personal to my unique field of experience. I won’t deny that there is an overall odd facet of reality that tends to point beyond the otherwise quantifiable world. So far I’m certain that the very nature of the mind is an intrinsic link between the outwardly normal world of predictable experiences and those things that happen on the fringes of ordinary reality. It could be argued that all psychic and preternatural occurrences are nothing more than extensions of how the individual’s brain operates.

Scientifically, it could be argued that universal oddness is nothing more than a mental condition, however, In my experiences, many of these mental conditions have had the unusual quality of containing information particular to future events …which as time has unfolded, have revealed themselves to be highly detailed and specific. I don’t think that my thoughts are a time machine and I’ve put consideration into the notion that I might have subconsciously projected my own ideas into an event to make the proverbial ‘shoe fit’. It really isn’t that, I am merely a witness, and It would appear that some things that I experience, appear to occur by my coincidentally being there to then know that I’ve seen them previously within a dream state.

I have been fortunate in two or three cases where I have discussed my dreams with a person, who has then been with me at a later date to witness particular specific details come true. While they’ve gasped at the transpiration of the uncanny, I’ve been quietly relieved that I’m not just imagining the synchronicity of it all.

Having lived this life for forty years, I don’t feel that my understanding is any greater, only that certain borrowed, bullshit ideas and notions I once held as factual have fallen away. I don’t think anyone can tell it to you, nobody can give it to you. The closest experience I have to life containing an otherly , spiritual* dimension is my nightly excursions into the realm of dreams. I consider myself fortunate that I have artistic ability and a general command of language to express that state of consciousness in an effective way.

So, I’m currently taking an interest in the branches of esoteric thought that is covered by Hermeticism. It could be a dead end, or it could be another piece of my personal jigsaw puzzle. I think that the explicit symbology that I’ve mentioned earlier warrants an investigation of sorts, If I find anything notable, I’ll probably mention it in these pages at some later point.

There does seem to be a rhythm in nature that underlines the principle of “As above so below” I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I was in St.Lucia a few years ago, sitting on a jetty overlooking a small bay. The waters were calm, I noted a large flying insect buzzing along the water’s surface. In a split second, a large fish leapt from beneath the surface and caught the insect in its mouth before plunging back into the sea. Within that same brief moment, a large seabird dived into the same spot of water, only to emerge a second later with the same fish caught in its beak! It flew away to enjoy its piscine meal. I felt so fortunate to have observed that incredible moment of symmetrical predatory dynamism, it has stayed with me ever since.

I am an aspect of the universe observing its own nature, we all are. This I believe is a fact of life and not enough of us are realising the simple truth of that reality. But I don’t think I can tell it to you, if you know that already and you really just know that, then consider yourself a little more enlightened than the average shoegazer…I just couldn’t say that above that realisation, that I know what any of that truly means, but I’m still travelling, still looking, still listening to the inner and the outer. Perhaps with time deeper meaning becomes apparent.

Broken Hart

It took the wind out of my sails, returning to the House of Bannerdown, seeing the works carried out in my absence.

I noted that the pillared porch had been assembled incorrectly so that they stood several meters away from the house itself, built in a discordant fashion, so that the head of the porch had been positioned half way down the columns making an improbable ‘H’ shape. Clearly this was architectural incompetence.

Rory’s business partner appeared somewhere nearby and struck up polite conversation. I noted with interest that his T-shirt bore the motif of the Cross of Lorraine ; my banker mark and symbol of choice. Curious.

I mentioned that the relinquishing of my services had failed to make any sense in the days that had passed since our parting of ways and I was keen to really know why.

He gestured to a transparent polythene bag filled with old books and said in a flat voice.

“Rory didn’t like the way you had stolen the library books.”

I immediately protested that I’d never seen the bag of books in my life.

 I asked whether that had been the only reason, he then said

“Rory didn’t like the fact that you disagreed with our suggested working methods.”

Feeling more impassioned, I began to blurt about how those methods would have delivered a catastrophic effect on the decaying stonework of the house, that those window mullions would just disintegrate upon the first frost of Winter.

 “The Mullions would disintegrate?”

He said, keeping his impartial,and somewhat doubtful flat tone.

In a melodramatic moment I went on to say how the phone call in the pouring rain, where it was established that we would not be working together any more broke my heart and that I’d really loved working with them.

Neither of which was true. Replace ‘broken heart’ with disappointed and ‘loved’ with enjoyed, it would be a more accurate but this was in the heat of the moment.

The partner just repeated the words “Broken Heart?” like a terminally bored business parrot.

His Cross of Lorraine T-shirt kept drawing attention to itself and I began feeling silly for sounding so melodramatic, something about his angelic appearance was unnerving and I couldn’t shake the feeling that his repetition of certain phrases was some kind of verbal ploy to illustrate the unlikelihood of my own garbled sentiments.

All in all, I felt quietly relieved when I finally opened my eyes.

 

When Dreams Become Nightmares.

Blogging,Music and Bad Movies.

Hello again you shadowy anonymous visitors. It seems like a good point to update this blog today. I’m feeling pleased that for now, the format of this web site will remain the same for the foreseeable future. It transpires that moving from Apple hosting will disable the ability for visitor comments to be added to any blog posts. LOL! I’ve had that function for years, seen my hit counter rack up 3K+ hits and nobody has commented on anything so it’s a functionality that obviously has little purpose for me personally. I’m not having a dig at you, I’m all for digital anonymity and fully appreciate the comforts associated with being remotely nosey.

Those of you who come back for repeat servings of this website will probably know I’m currently having fun uploading new playlists on my Radio Hiab-x section.

I’ve nothing but praise for the service ‘8Tracks’; they stand out as a unique music promoting service that actually have the decency to NOT force advertisements upon their listeners. It’s a brave choice and a bold one, I love them for it. The primary reason I can’t get on with Spotify is that as a user of its free version, users are forced to listen to mind numbing adverts between tracks and making matters worse, the software pauses an ad when it detects that the listener is  turning the volume down on it. Consequently rather than being made to endure an advert, I’ve simply walked away from the service. I could write a seething essay on why I loathe 99% of advertising, especially aggressive advertising but I’ll save that for another entry of venting at some other point. In the meanwhile, back to 8Tracks, they don’t do it. Around 1999 having bought my first PC and enjoying the earlier incarnations of services such as iTunes, I began to formulate a plan for creating a collection of music representative of the soundtracks to life as I’d lived it. I called the collection ‘RAM’ and started burning CD compilations based on the music I was listening to during certain eras of life. I decided those eras would be houses I’d lived in. Now years down the line, in the advent of playlists, the decline of the physical formats, it seems that a service like 8Tracks has finally provided an optimal platform for a personal project like RAM. I only regret that I can’t suck memories out of my head, upload them as silent movies that play in the background while my Radio Hiab-x playlists do their thing.

I suppose it’s a bit geeky, but every January 1st I create a new playlist in iTunes and stare in awe at how empty it is and wonder how it will look 365 days later. As the year goes by I add newly discovered music- well stand out tracks, and build a playlist for the year. Music and memory work so well in conjunction for me, I can barely comprehend not doing it.

If there were a place called Hell, there would be a circle for scriptwriters who have a wealth of source material to draw from and still manage to completely mangle a movie script until its a lifeless, festering pile of baboon  droppings.

Yes, I’ve been to see Prometheus.

Yes, I thought it was crushingly awful.

Here’s what I wrote on a fan forum:

It isn’t terribly complicated to dissect why those who hated this film (including myself) hated it.

Prometheus was a ‘one shot’ opportunity to take a tangental narrative hinted in the original 1979 movie, in a new and exciting direction. For many, many of us, who are now long in the tooth enough to have seen the original film at the time, there needed to be some fundamental rules to the telling of the story.It needed to be equal (at least) in its delivery of narrative and well crafted characters.

Reading the wrap sheet of the creative minds at work to make the film, the stellar cast (Most of whom have delivered stunning performances in other films and productions) there simply was no possible excuse for pissing it up.

Over three decades of fans have been gained during the course of the original franchises history, many (Including myself again) held the original movie as possibly the finest of its generation and definitely the finest of its genre. Alien could have been an awful, disposable ‘B’ movie, yet its production values, its well chosen cast, it’s carefully paced script, its sensible approach to horror set an incredible benchmark.

Regardless of whether Prometheus would be a new franchise, set in the same universe but launching in a new direction, it had to, HAD TO, apply certain rules in order to be successful, those rules needed to be at heart, an equal attention to narrative, pacing and characterisation.

In today’s world, it also needed to NOT fall into so many traps that so many disposable movies fall into.

George Lucas inadvertently demonstrated how not to approach a prequel when he decided to do SW 1,2 &3.

Lindelof was clearly acutely aware of the potential pitfalls when he pitched that Prometheus shouldn’t be a prequel.However, it is now clear in retrospect that to even include elements such as the Bone ship, The Space Jokey and creatures that burst out from within was an unconfident or at least underhand way of maintaining the status of an Alien 1979 prequel. Hence the confusion in all the pre launch hype, is it or isn’t it? Because the choice was made to keep those original design elements in the new film, It became imperative that it HAD to deliver a satisfying correlation between the films, therefore landing it back in the realm of prequel.

This now sets up all the ingredients for a fall if the ingredients aren’t correctly balanced.

Perhaps the most baffling visual contradiction was the blatant disparity between the sets and the creatures.

Everyone applauded the HR Giger designs from 1979, they were after all, one of the key visual elements that disturbed and inspired the audience and their legacy remains ingrained into our collective consciousness.

To see the sets and the murals of the alien world in the trailers gave huge hope and false promise that any new horrors would almost certainly be born of that aesthetic. The promise that the new creatures were huge, not the xenomorph and frightening stoked the flames of anticipation higher because any fan of Alien and Giger knows in their heart that Giger has designed creatures that share the DNA of Alien but are freakishly more horrific in their design and concept, several key Giger paintings have repeatedly made their rounds on fan message boards and everyone knows to see them come alive and animated would have been truly wonderful and horrifying to behold.

We now know that his monster designs were completely divorced from the final product and rather unfairly so.

There was a logical efficiency to the original creatures in Alien, they made a horrible macabre sense. Super-sizing the face hugger to become ‘Cuddles’ made bugger-all sense biologically and took the new form into the realm of something Ed Wood could have cooked up. Likewise, the ‘whatever burster’ at the end of the film, clearly lacked the bio-mechanoid elegance of the original Xenomorph yet aped its characteristics in a pretty insulting way. Everyone knows that it ‘is’ but at the same time it woefully isn’t.

So, aesthetically the movie was falling over badly, it needed a really tight script and pitch perfect pacing to rescue itself from the holes it was already falling into.

What a pity then that the structure of the story bobbed in and out of tension building like it had time to spare, like you can get away with almost creeping people out, like you can almost bring about a haunted alien house of horrors but change your mind at the pivotal points.

There was no room in the story for incidental crew members who were clearly marked for death because they had no other lines or roles to perform. How foolish it was to go back and forth between Prometheus the space vessel and the alien base with diminishing reasons for doing so, abandoning common sense and just assuming that an intelligent audience would just buy into that concept.

In terms of intelligent story telling, surely it is now lesson 101 to ask yourself when writing “Would I do that?”

“If it was me, would I really make that choice.” Fear is a great motivator, it is in our nature to run from danger and remove ourselves from life threatening situations. It is therefore bad story telling to assume that people will collectively buy into supposably intelligent characters taking flighty stances against survival instinct.

I’m sure Damon Lindeloff has feelings and perhaps feels hurt reading his negative reviews, we have feelings too and it genuinely hurts to invest excitement and expectation into a story that deserved a far better, intelligent treatment than the one that was delivered.

It’s only a film.

Yes, but it’s one I (We) grew increasingly attached to because it made promises that should have been easy to keep. I resent the notion that the age of narrative is dead in cinema, there are a wealth of contemporary movies and their makers that clearly illustrate that this just isn’t the case.

When I see an advert telling me to put away my camcorder and recording equipment because It is killing the collective experience of going to the cinema, I have to bite my tongue. My experience and point of view begs to differ, so far, the worst thing going for the movie business is shitty movies that could have been great and shitty cinema goers who think its ok to talk at volume once the film has begun.

Oh yes, if you stick all the surprises as reveals within the bloody trailer, then you might as well show the final scene and do away with the movie altogether.

Remove these three elements from cinemas and well see the movie theatres get a few more years yet.

What a regret it has been to so easily find holes in what should have been a great film, the ‘should have’ movies are perhaps the most unforgivable, for they cripple the faith of movie loving viewers that there is any worth in emotional investment before a film’s release.

                                            ‡        

 Writing the above rant has provided me with s light sense of release as I’ve been quietly mourning the thoughts of what ‘could have been’ and what was expected before the movie’s release. I know it was just a film and therefore perhaps something one shouldn’t get too worked up about, I just happened to care a lot about this one because Alien still ranks as my all time favourite movie of the genre it so masterfully created. But now, it is time to move on…with 0% excitement at the thought that there will be another Blade Runner movie.

 

 

Housekeeping

Briefly updating this website while it quickly approaches its final stages of this current incarnation. I’m quite disappointed that I’ll have to abandon the current format as it has served me well to build a website utilising an assortment of RSS feeds to serve my purposes.

You don’t want to read about my gripes though do you.

OK, as the title suggests, this is just a little bit of housekeeping. I’ve been adding new radio stations to the Radio section. All of them feed from my 8Tracks.com profile here. I’ve enjoyed compiling the playlists so far, they represent the music I’ve had as the soundtrack to my life over the last twenty years. My final aim is to reach as far back as my childhood with the things I remember liking and listening to over the arc that has been my time on this crazy planet.

The mixes are very personal to me and are evocative of the times they represent. I’m not entirely certain how any of them translate to strangers, or people who weren’t around me at the time but I like to think I’ve got good taste in music and an ear for arranging music in order to make an engaging playlist.

As usual, life is busy here in HIAB-X land, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into DIY projects pimping out my crib. Creative art is once again suffering low output due to the demands of getting other things done. Having said that, much of my art is inspired by dreams and lately, my recall has been somewhat fuzzy due to the above ‘busyness’ I do miss keeping my diaries and doing my images to accompany nocturnal adventures but I’m confident at some point I’ll just hop back into being able to focus more on doing it again.

Tidbits of news in brief:

Went to see the incredible Rammstein play live at the O2 in London recently. They put on a show that is unrivalled by any other band I’ve ever seen.

My end of evening routine of mellowing out before bedtime is putting an hour of downtime into playing the incredible game Skyrim. Mum bought it for me  as a Christmas present and I have to say, in terms of providing an unparalleled immersive, engaging, beautifully rendered mythical world with seemingly endless hours of content, there’s nothing quite like it on the gaming market.

Since last blogging here I’ve reached the pivotal age of 40.

Side effects have included: An increased amount of retrospective pondering, several shades of nostalgia and a slowly growing sense that being a thirty-something had its own unique character. I think a sense of mortality does creep in, it has partly provided the impetus to catalog and build a chronological log of photos, comments, music and flavours that life has given so far, arranged on the Facebook Timeline feature.

I had been looking for some software that would provide me with the means of doing this ‘Life so far’ audit, I couldn’t find anything that managed to push all the metaphoric ‘buttons’ then Facebook came along with their new feature that pretty much served every function I was looking for. There lies the bind in what I sometimes feel is a modern ill, I don’t like to be glued to Zuckerberg’s monster more than I need to be, but It transpires that it does have many convenient uses.

What I loathe though, is that I would love to do it all on my own web site but I’m constantly held back by the knowledge that I can never be too personal or provide information that might be harvested by the digital lowlifes that lurk around the dark corners of the web. Who are you, reading this blog? Who are YOU? I like to imagine that you are benign but I’m not naive enough to embrace that sentiment entirely.

Over three thousand hits on this website and not a single comment on a single blog entry : – /

Moving on, I must admit I’m getting pretty stoked about the imminent arrival on cinema screens of the new Ridley Scott flick :Prometheus. It promises to be the spiritual precursor for Alien, which to date remains one of my all time favourite movies of all time. No doubt I’ll write an account of my impressions of it here, I have that horrible hesitancy that It might be awful or sub-standard. I blame George Lucas solely for that feeling, after all, he DID manage to make three consecutive screw-ups and forever mar his legacy with Star Wars. I managed to avoid the last Indiana Jones movie based on that bitter taste and it then transpired that my avoidance was wholly justified.

OK, this was supposed to be a blog entry of updates and now it resembles a moan.

Thank you dear void, for your brief attention paid to this particular missive. Don’t be a stranger now ;-P

Further Education

How To Become A Conservator.

Hello again, I haven’t counted how many months it has been since last writing this blog but It feels like  a few. This is mainly down to the fact that I’ve had to knuckle down and pay attention to completing my education. You may recall that I was training as a conservator having qualified as a stonemason, well, I was studying on the Heritage Skills conservation course run at the City of Bath College under the excellent tutelage of Nigel Bryant who was responsible for the course coming into being.

Living in a heritage city like Bath, it seemed absolutely insane that the local college didn’t offer a course in conservation . You could call it a ‘gap in the market’ which Nigel identified. Nigel had been my stonemasonry tutor prior to the course and mentioned that he wanted to broaden the C.O.B.C portfolio by adding the course to the prospectus. From my own point of view it was impossible not to get metaphoric ‘ants in my pants’ at the idea as I’d been working on old buildings anyway and felt that my knowledge of correct techniques and procedures would be vital in career terms. Enrolling on the course was a bit of a no-brainer really !

So from September last year until early July this year I’ve been studying hard and working Mondays’ and Tuesdays on the course. The Mondays consisted of theory lessons where the ethics and techniques involved in conservation were taught. My classmates and I also had a wonderful opportunity to conserve a badly damaged Grecian Statue (Which we affectionately named ‘Doris’) You can read an article about that story here

Doris arrived looking like this:

and finished up looking like this:

The painstaking attention to detail in order to conserve the statue took countless hours but I think the effort really paid off.

On Tuesdays, we took the theory from the classroom and put it to practice in the real world by travelling to incredible Tyntesfield Estate just north of Bristol. This was part of a pioneering scheme which was a partnership between the college and the National Trust. Over the course of the academic year we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with a company called Nimbus conservation ltd, who were contracted to conserve Tyntesfield’s Orangery.

I learnt invaluable skills whilst working at Tyntesfield, I cannot recommend the conservation course highly enough for those who have an active interest in conservation and our national heritage.

Although the Orangery is far from complete in terms of works required to complete the main conservation, the transformation from how it was in September 2010 to how it is now is quite phenomenal . I feel very fortunate to have worked on it. During this time I also crafted a new crown moulding above one of the Orangery windowsto replace one of the damaged originals, so part of the privilege  had been the opportunity to have a direct role in adding to the building’s history.

Me, working a crown moulding+ the final product.

I’m incredibly pleased that I trained in stonemasonry, I’ve never looked back since I chose this path and found my true vocation, however my satisfaction will always be in equal measure to the fact that I stuck with the college for another year and took my NVQ level 3 in Heritage skills. It deepened my appreciation of stonemasonry greatly and brought with it a collection of invaluable skills that are complimentary to the craft and vital for the preservation of historic buildings.

 

Information about the Heritage Skills – conservation course can be found here.

The Book of the Future

Boba Squat got off from work early and came to meet me in a dusk zone. He seemed a little bothered, somewhat grumpy. I asked him what was up but he declined to comment.

“Here…” he said “Take a look at this book.”

He handed me a coffee table style publication, it was one of those DK guidebooks and this one was full of Star Wars and futuristic cities.

Boba said “Look at this; did you know that H.R Giger was a planet designer in Star Wars until Lucasfilm went bust?”

There on the page in question, were fantastical illustrations of alien cities , weird enough to make a jaw drop.

“Lucasfilm went bust…” I muttered, registering the unlikely nature of the statement. Before I could contemplate this point further, I turned another page to see a different kind of city. This was a sprawling campus of technological magnitude that was matched equally by its highly creative denizens, it seemed to go on forever. So much so, the details in the imagery extended beyond the pages in my hands and surrounded me completely until I was immersed in a corridor, standing on a glowing glass floor  and gawping at the fractal etched tubular panelling that extended in front and beyond me.

I’m not sure where my friend was at this point, too many other distractions to contemplate. Narrations drifted past my ears like information in whisper form…

“These objects revolutionised immersive entertainment…”

“The creative team wanted to make a world that felt as real as possible for the players…”

“Once you were in, for the duration, it was impossible to tell that you were actually playing…”

A portal door in the tube wall beside me slid open, I stepped through into a cavernous room and recognised the hostess who had come to greet me.

“Blimey, you’re that actress who played Henry the Eighth’s wife!” (Tamzin Merchant) I proclaimed. She was quite beautiful.

It turned out that she actually  hadn’t played anyone. She was the hostess, it was just a quirky detail that I’d projected her face into the experience of remembering in the first place. This was getting confusing. Mandelbulb objects drifted around the hostess’s head like alien satellites, while she waited patiently for me to ‘get it.’ She sighed and said

“What you are experiencing is technology, the most advanced technology there is, just relax there’s no need to understand it yet…” There was a geometric, glowing glass shape in her hands, It was really starting to catch my attention…

Then suddenly I became aware that It was that thing I keep calling ‘morning‘ again.

Fragment #2

In the hinterland I begin to realise that my feet are equally at home in this world and another.

Fragment #1

“After I’d entered the art gallery – come cafe, my attention was quickly drawn to the flowery woman sucking my big toe. For fucks sake! Why was she sucking my bloody toe ?! How inappropriate.”