All Reviews A-Z

Here is a thing which I will plan to update each time I add a new review. This should make it easy for anyone who is sufficiently depraved enough to enjoy what I write and craves more. There isn’t a huge amount yet, but I do have a tonne of reviews written years ago for IMDB which I haven’t posted here yet, along with all my other Album reviews for Amazon. This list will grow. For now, click on anything you like!

Movie Reviews

11/22/63 – Bridget Carpenter

2001 Maniacs – Tim Sullivan

300: Rise Of An Empire – Noam Murro

A Dark Song – Liam Gavin

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Ana Lily Amirpour

A Quiet Place – John Krasinski

A Hard Day – Kim Seong Hun

A Mighty Wind – Christopher Guest

A Nightmare On Elm Street – Wes Craven

A Tale Of Two Sisters – Kim Ji Woon

Aftermath – Elliott Lester

After The Silence – Fred Gerber

Airwolf – Donald Bellisario

Akira – Katsuhiro Otomo

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Declan Lowney

Alien – Ridley Scott

Aliens – James Cameron

Alien 3 – David Fincher

Annihilation – Alex Garland

Arachnophobia – Frank Marshall

Assault On Precinct 13 – John Carpenter

Attack Of The Adult Babies – Dominic Brunt

August Rush – Kirsten Sheridan

AWOL – Sheldon Lettich

Bad Lieutenant – Abel Ferrara

Bait – Kimble Rendall

Bangkok Dangerous – The Pang Brothers

Baskin – Can Evrenol

Battle Royale – Kinji Fukasaku

Beavis And Butthead – Mike Judge

Beetlejuice – Tim Burton

Bedevilled – Jang Cheol-soo

Benny And Joon – Jeremiah S Chechik

Big Driver – Mikael Salomon

Big Trouble In Little China – John Carpenter

Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey – Peter Hewitt

Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Stephen Herek

Birdy – Alan Parker

Black Coal, Thin Ice – Diao Yinan

Blair Witch – Adam Wingard

Blood Father – Jean Francois Richet

Bloodsport – Newt Arnold

Bodyguards And Assassins – Teddy Chan

Body Shots – Michael Christofer

Body Snatchers – Abel Ferrara

Bordello Of Blood – Gilbert Adler

Braindead – Peter Jackson

Brooklyn Rules – Michael Corrente

Brother – Takeshi Kitano

Bruiser – George A Romero

Cam – Daneil Goldhaber

Cannibal – Manuel Martin Cuenca

Captain America: The First Avenger – Joe Johnston

Carne – Gaspar Noe

Cell – Tod Williams

Chasing Amy – Kevin Smith

Chasing Sleep – Michael Walker

Children Of The Corn – Fritz Kiersch

Cockneys Vs Zombies – Matthias Hoene

Come And See – Elem Kilmov

Commando – Mark L Lester

Conan The Barbarian – John Milius

Creepshow 2 – Michael Gornick

Cronos – Guillermo Del Toro

Cursed – Wes Craven

Cyborg – Albert Pyun

Dark City – Alex Proyas

Dark Tide – John Stockwell

Dawn Of The Dead – Zack Snyder

Day of The Dead – George A Romero

Daylight – Rob Cohen

Dead Of Night (1977) – Dan Curtis

Dead Snow – Tommy Wirkola

Death Sentence – James Wan

Death Wish 2 – Michael Winner

Demons – Lamberto Bava

Desperado – Robert Rodriguez

Dial M For Murder – Alfred Hitchcock

Die Another Day – Lee Tamahori

Dirty Pretty Things – Stephen Frears

Disturbia – D.J. Caruso

Dobermann – Jan Kounen

Dogma – Kevin Smith

Donnie Brasco – Mike Newell

Don’t Blink – Travis Oates

Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead – Stephen Herek

Double Impact – Sheldon Lettich

Dr No – Terence Young

Dream Warriors – Chuck Russell

Drug War – Johnie To

Dumb And Dumber – The Farrelly Bros

Dumplin‘ – Anne Fletcher

Eaten Alive – Tobe Hooper

El Mariachi – Robert Rodriguez

Escape From Sobibor – Jack Gold

Escape Plan – Mikael Hafstrom

Embodiment Of Evil – Jose Marins

Everyone’s Hero – Christopher Reeve, Colin Brady, Daniel St. Pierre

Evil Dead – Fede Alvarez

Excision – Richard Bates Jr

Extinction – Miguel Angel Vivas

Family For Christmas – Amanda Tapping

February – Oz Perkins

Final Destination – James Wong

Final Destination 2 – David R Ellis

First Blood – Ted Kotcheff

Fist Of Fury – Bruce Lee

For Your Eyes Only – John Glen

Freddy’s Dead – Rachel Talalay

Freddy’s Revenge – Jack Sholder

Freddy Vs Jason – Ronny Yu

Frenzy – Alfred Hitchcock

Frenzy – Jose Montesinos

Friend Request – Simon Verhoeven

From Russia With Love – Terence Young

Game of Death – Bruce Lee/Robert Clouse

Game Night – John Francis Daley/Jonathan Goldstein

Girls Against Boys – Austin Chick

God Bless America – Bobcat Goldthwaite

Goldeneye – Martin Campbell

Goldfinger – Guy Hamilton

Goodnight Mommy – Veronika Franz/Severin Fiala

Grave Encounters – The Vicious Brothers

Grave Encounters 2 – John Poliquin

Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron

Halloween – John Carpenter

Halloween 2 and 3 – Rick Rosenthal/Tommy Lee Wallace

Halloween 4 – Dwight H Little

Halloween 5 – Dominique Othenin Gerard

Hard-Boiled – John Woo

Hard Target – John Woo

Hansel And Gretal – Yim Phil-Sung

Heartbreakers – David Mirkin

Heli – Amat Escalante

Hellboy – Guillermo Del Toro

Hellions – Bruce Macdonald

Home Alone – Chris Columbus

Honor And Glory – Godfrey Ho

Horrible Bosses – Seth Gordon

Ichi – Fumihiko Sori

Ichi The Killer – Takashi Miike

Inoperable – Christopher Laurence Chapman

Into The Mirror – Kim Sung Ho

I Really Hate My Job – Oliver Parker

It Comes At Night – Trey Edward Shults

It’s All About Love – Thomas Vinterberg

Jaws – Steven Spielberg

Jaws 2 – Jeannot Szwarc

Jaws 3 – Joe Alvez

Jaws 4 – Joseph Sargent

John Wick – Chad Stahelski/David Leitch

Jurassic Park – Steven Spielberg

Ju-On Black Ghost – Mari Asato

Ju-On White Ghost – Ryuta Miyake

Kickboxer – Mark DiSalle/David Worth

Kids – Larry Clark

Kill Bill Vol 1 – Quentin Tarantino

King Kong – Merian C Cooper/Ernest B Schoedsack

Kingdom Of Heaven – Ridley Scott

Knock Knock – Eli Roth

Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig

Leatherface – Maury & Bustillo

Leon – Luc Besson

Lifeboat – Alfred Hitchcock

Last Action Hero – John McTiernan

Live And Let Die – Guy Hamilton

Loaded – Alan Pao

Lost Highway – David Lynch

Love On Safari – Leif Bristow

Macbeth – Orson Welles

Manuscripts Don’t Burn – Mohammed Rousalof

Megan Is Missing – Michael Goi

Milius – Joey Figuero

Mother’s Day – Darren Lynn Bousman

Mouth To Mouth – Alison Murray

Mr And Mrs Smith – Alfred Hitchcock

My Soul To Take – Wes Craven

Never Sleep Again – Daniel Farrands/Andrew Kach

Night Of The Demons – Kevin S Tenney

Night Of The Living Dead – George A Romero

Nowhere To Run – Robert Harmon

On The Road – Walter Salles

Origin: Spirits Of The Past – Keichi Sugiyama

Outrage – Takeshi Kitano

Out Of The Furnace – Scott Cooper

P2 – Frank Khalfoun

Pandorum – Christian Alvart

Peacock – Michael Lander

Perdita Durango – Alex de la Iglesia

Perlasca – Alberto Negrin

Pieta – Kim Ki Duk

Police Academy 1-7 – Various

Pontypool – Bruce McDonald

Predator 2 – Stephen Hopkins

Priceless – Pierre Salvadori

Pride, Prejudice, And Mistletoe – Don McBrearty

Problem Child – Dennis Dugan

Project X – Nima Nourizadeh

Q: The Winged Serpent – Larry Cohen

Radius – Caroline Labreche/Steeve Leonard

Raw Deal – John Irvin

Rear Window – Alfred Hitchcock

Re:born – Yuji Shimomura

Red Heat – Walter Hill

Red Sonja – Richard Fleischer

Resident Evil – Paul WS Anderson

Resident Evil 2 – Alexander Witt

Return To Oz – Walter Murch

Rhapsody In August – Akira Kurosawa

Ring – Hideo Nakata

Ring 2 – Hideo Nakata

Ring 0 – Norio Tsuruta

Rings – F.Javier Gutierrez

Rogue – Greg McLean

Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Room 237 – Rodney Ascher

Rope – Alfred Hitchcock

Rosewood Lane – Victor Salva

Rubber – Quentin Dupeiux

Rust And Bone – Jacques Audiard

Sabotage – David Ayer

Sanctum – Alister Grierson

Scream – Wes Craven

Scream 2+ 3 – Wes Craven

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World – Lorene Scafaria

Seul Contre Tous – Gaspar Noe

Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa

Shanghai Kiss – David Ren/Ken Kernwiser

Society – Brian Yuzna

Someone’s Watching Me – John Carpenter

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days – Marc Rothemond

Spiderman 2 – Sam Raimi

Staunton Hill – Cameron Romero

Still Walking – Hirokazu Koreeda

Street Trash – Jim Munro

Stripes – Ivan Reitman

Street Hawk – Virgil W Vogel

Suicide Club – Sion Sono

Sukiyaki Western Django – Takeshi Miike

Survive Style 5 + – Gen Sekiguchi

Tag – Sion Sono

Tears Of The Sun – Antoine Fuqua

Ted – Seth MacFarlane

The 39 Steps – Alfred Hitchcock

The Art Of War – Christian Deguay

Thelma And Louise – Ridley Scott

The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock

The Blair Witch Project – Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

The Boss Of It All – Lars Von Trier

The Craft – Andrew Fleming

The Crow – Alex Proyas

The Detective – Oxide Pang

The Devil’s Rain – Robert Fuest

The Divide – Xavier Gens

The Driver – Walter Hill

The Empress And The Warriors – Ching Siu Tung

The Evil Dead – Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead 2 – Sam Raimi

The Fifth Element – Luc Besson

The First Men In The Moon – Nathan Juran

The Forest Of Love – Sion Sono

The Ghost And The Darkness – Stephen Hopkins

The Gate – Tibor Takacs

The Gift – Joel Edgerton

The Girl With All The Gifts – Colm McCarthy

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Mamoru Hosoda

The Green Inferno – Eli Roth

The Grudge – Takashi Shimazu

The Guest – Adam Wingard

The Happiness Of The Katakuris – Takashi Miike

The Hitcher – Robert Harmon

The House Of The Devil – Ti West

The Idiots – Lars Von Trier

The Innkeepers – Ti West

The Isle – Kim Ki Duk

The Kings Of Summer – Jordan Vogt Roberts

The Last Boy Scout – Tony Scott

The Last Exorcism – Daniel Stamm

The Last Exorcism 2 – Ed Gass-Donnelly

The Last House On The Left – Wes Craven

The Lifeguard – Liz W Garcia

The Man From Earth – Richard Schenkman

The Man Who Knew Too Much – Alfred Hitchcock

The Mannsfield 12 – Craig Ross Jr

The Night Eats The World – Dominique Rocher

The Pact – Nicholas McCarthy

The Perfection – Richard Shepard

The Red Squirrel – Julio Medem

The Sand – Isaac Gabaeff

The Secret Life Of Pets – Chris Renaud

The Storm Warriors – The Pang Brothers

The Stranger – Robert Lieberman

The Stuff – Larry Cohen

The Tortured – Robert Lieberman

The Visit – M Night Shyamalan

The Wailing – Na Hong-jin

The Wisdom Of Crocodiles – Po Chih Leong

The Witch – Robert Eggers

The Windmill Massacre – Nick Jongerius

Train To Busan – Yeon Sang-ho

Triangle – Hark Tsui/Ringo Lam

Trilogy Of Terror – Dan Curtis

Troy: The Odyssey – Tekin Girgin

Twins – Ivan Reitman

Unbreakable – M Night Shyamalan

Universal Soldier – Roland Emmerich

USS Indianapolis – Mario Van Peebles

V/H/S – Various

V/H/S 2 – Various

Visitor Q – Takashi Miike

Wake In Fright – Ted Kotcheff

Wake Wood – David Keating

Way Of The Dragon – Bruce Lee

We Are What We Are – Jim Mickle

We Are Still Here – Ted Geoghagen

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – Wes Craven

Winter Soldier – Winterfilm Collective

Wolfcop – Lowell Dean

Yellowbrickroad – Jessie Holland/Andy Mitton

You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsey

Zombie Creeping Flesh – Bruno Mattei

Zombieland – Ruben Fleischer

TV Reviews

Are You Afraid Of The Dark

Back To School At 35

Breaking Bad

Friends

Game Of Thrones

Gladiators

Neighbours

Saved By The Bell

Strike It Lucky

The League Of Gentlemen

The Walking Dead

Wolf Creek

Wreslemania 34

Music Reviews

11 – Bryan Adams

18 Till I Die – Bryan Adams

3 Feet High And Rising – De La Soul

7800 Farenheit – Bon Jovi

A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

A Night At The Opera – Queen

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Accessories – The Gathering

Aftermath – The Rolling Stones

Afterwords – The Gathering

Air – Agua De Annique

Aladdin Sane – David Bowie

Alice In Wonderland – Disney

American Life – Madonna

Atomic Jones – Tom Jones

Beaucoup Of Blues – Ringo Starr

Bedtime Stories – Madonna

Black Tie White Noise – David Bowie

Blaze Of Glory – Bon Jovi

Blood, Sweat, And Tears – Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Blue – Joni Mitchell

Blur – Blur

Bookends – Simon & Garfunkel

Bounce – Bon Jovi

Brave (Part One) – Marillion

Brave (Part Two) – Marillion

Bryan Adams – Bryan Adams

Burning Bridges – Bon Jovi

Cinderella – Disney

Closer – Joy Division

Clutching At Straws (2) – Marillion

Clutching At Straws (1) – Marillion

Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Conan The Destroyer Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Confessions On The Dancefloor – Madonna

Crash! Boom! Bang! – Roxette

Crush – Bon Jovi

Destination Anywhere – Bon Jovi

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie

Disclosure – The Gathering

Dumb And Dumber Soundtrack – Various

Entroducing – DJ Shadow

Erotica – Madonna

Evita – Madonna

Five O’Clock World – The Vogues

For Sale – The Beatles

Fugazi (1) – Marillion

Fugazi (2) – Marillion

Fulfillingness’ First Finale – Stevie Wonder

Fun And Fancy Free – Disney

Get Up – Bryan Adams

Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – Incredible String Band

Hard Candy – Madonna

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Have A Nice Day – Bon Jovi

Have A Nice Day – Roxette

Heaven Or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins

Head On – Samson

Help! – The Beatles

Heroes” – David Bowie

Hey Stoopid – Alice Cooper

High Roller – Urchin

Home – The Gathering

Holidays In Eden (1) – Marillion

Holidays In Eden (2) – Marillion

How To Measure A Planet? – The Gathering

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

I’m Breathless – Madonna

Into The Fair – Bryan Adams

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Joyride – Roxette

Just Like Us – Paul Revere And The Raiders

Keep The Faith – Bon jovi

Ladies Of The Canyon – Joni Mitchell

Lazer Guided Melodies – Spiritualized

Let It Be – The Beatles

Lets Dance – David Bowie

Life’s Rich Pageant – REM

Like A Prayer – Madonna

Like A Virgin – Madonna

Little Deuce Coupe – The Beach Boys

Lodger – David Bowie

Look Sharp – Roxette

Lost Highway – Bon Jovi

Low – David Bowie

Madonna – Madonna

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles

Mandylion – The Gathering

Manic Street Preachers Live In Belfast – Manic Street Preachers

McCartney – Paul McCartney

Melody Time – Disney

Miles Of Aisles – Joni Mitchell

Misplaced Childhood (1) – Marillion

Misplaced Childhood (2) – Marillion

Music! – Madonna

My Fair Lady Soundtrack – Various

Never Let Me Down – David Bowie

New Jersey – Bon Jovi

Nighttime Birds – The Gathering

Night On My Side – Gemma Hayes

On A Day Like Today – Bryan Adams

Out Of Our Heads – The Rolling Stones

Our Favourite Shop – The Style Council

Pearls Of Passion – Roxette

Please Please Me – The Beatles

Pin Ups – David Bowie

Pretender – Jackson Browne

Pure Air – Agua De Annique

Ray Of Light – Madonna

Restless And Wild – Accept

Revolver – The Beatles

Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones 2 – The Rolling Stones

Room Service – Roxette

Room Service – Bryan Adams

Rubber Soul – The Beatles

Saludos Amigos – Disney

Savage – Eurythmics

Scary Monsters – David Bowie

Script For A Jester’s Tear (1) – Marillion

Script For A Jester’s Tear (2) – Marillion

Seasons End (2) – Marillion

Seasons End (1) – Marillion

Second Coming – The Stone Roses

Sentimental Journey – Ringo Starr

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

Shut Down Vol 2: The Beach Boys

Sleepy Buildings – The Gathering

Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

Song To A Seagull – Joni Mitchell

Souvenirs – The Gathering

Space Oddity – David Bowie

Speaking In Tongues – Talking Heads

Spirit – Bryan Adams

Station To Station – David Bowie

Surfer Girl – The Beach Boys

Surfin Safari – The Beach Boys

Surfin USA – The Beach Boys

Tattooed Millionaire – Bruce Dickinson

The Adventures Of Ichabod & Mr Toad – Disney

The Buddha Of Suburbia – David Bowie

The Circle – Bon Jovi

These Days – Bon Jovi

The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie

The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

The Roads Don’t Love You – Gemma Hayes

The West Pole – The Gathering

The White Album – The Beatles

Tin Machine – David Bowie/Tin Machine

Tonight – David Bowie

Tori Amos Live In Belfast – Tori Amos

Transformer – Lou Reed

Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman

True Blue – Madonna

Urban Hymns – The Verve

Van Halen – Van Halen

Waking Up The Neighbours – Bryan Adams

With The Beatles – The Beatles

What About Now – Bon Jovi

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

Wonderwall Music – George Harrison

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

YHLQMDLG – Bad Bunny

You Want It You Got It – Bryan Adams

Young Americans – David Bowie

Youth Novels – Lykke Li

Book Reviews

1000 Zombies – Alex Cox

Atmospheric Disturbances – Rivka Galchen

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Dinosaurs – Navigators

Fang Of The Vampire – Scream Street

Japan Day By Day – Frommers

London 2008 – Time Out

London Free And Dirt Cheap – Frommers

Paris 2009 – Time Out

Play With Colours – The Happets

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – Garth Stein

The Devouring – Simon Holt

The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Invention Of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt

The Mayan Prophecies – Gerald Benedict

The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Undead – Kirsty Mckay

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – Rebel Heart!

Rebel Heart - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! Wellity well, we’ve almost caught up with Madonna’s output. I know I’m slow at getting these things out (for anyone who even still reads them) but there’s only a couple of albums to go. And give me a break, I’m also doing Jovi, Adams, Roxette, The Stones, The Beach Boys, and of course my Top 1000, Non-Beatles, and 1966 series. A more diligent blogger would of course just pick one artist and pump out posts about their work over a few week period before moving on to the next thing. But I can’t focus on one thing for too long. And as I say, no-one even reads these things anyway and they’re not exactly the most exciting reading given that they’re unimaginative reactions as I listen for the first time. A smart blogger would of course switch to YouTube and make gargantuan gasps and wide-eyed stares at the camera in faux shock as if I’ve just stumbled upon a kitten in a waistcoat shaving a cow with a cigar. My hope is that people simply Google Madonna (or whoever) one day and stumble upon my posts, and read through them all in a single sitting, tutting at how I’ve misunderstood their favourite song. In any case, you’re stuck with me.

So, Rebel Heart. I know two of these songs – one I’ve only heard once and don’t really remember, while the other was an instant hit for me and has become one of my favourite Madonna songs. Beyond those, I don’t know much about the album. It’s another which seems packed to the gills with collaborations, something I generally don’t approve of and something which tends to show an artist is creatively flailing around, hoping someone else will save them from mediocrity or pull them back up from their mire. I’m hoping that’s not the case here, but given the (lack of) talent Madonna has aligned herself with on this record, I’m not holding out for greatness.

Living For Love: A blippy bloppy warbling beat emerges. Then deep Madonna vocals. Melody – fair enough. Then a beat. Then piano and a different melody. Am I getting some sort of Gospel feel from the melody? Then the beat returns. Then the song does that horrible chorus fake out thing that every was doing a couple of years ago. Maybe they’re still doing now, I don’t know. It’s well produced and it doesn’t follow a simple set pattern. At least the chorus drop isn’t as bad as most. There are a few other voices in the chorus, it does seem to be going for a Gospel approach. There’s too much space between the different vocals, space which could have been packed with additional voices for ore impact. Then it ends abruptly. It’s a decent opener, not horrible, not overly memorable.

Devil Pray: An acoustic guitar opener, with an almost Latin tone. Then weak ass hand clap beats screw up a perfectly good vocal. I will never understand why artists choose that sound for their beat. The lyrics aren’t great from what I’m picking up on the surface. Decent pre-chorus, but again the chorus drops instead of peaks. It’s frustrating as the song is fine – it’s not extraordinary – it’s a B grade song which falls to C because of those stylistic choices which are clearly made for modern sensibilities and not me. Her vocals are patchy in places too. It stretches out for another minute, presumably for dancefloor purposes, adding lots of beeps and sounds which don’t do anything.

Ghosttown: Is the one I mentioned at the top that I loved. It’s A Tier Madonna. It’s a great song all round, even if I’m not in favour of all the musical and production choices. However, you could record this a hundred different ways as long as you keep the central melody, and you’d have a great song each time. It’s a perfect pop song, something Madonna knows a little something about, plus it has plenty of emotion ensuring it makes it up to the next level up the ladder.

Unapologetic Bitch: Although the sound isn’t my go to, this starts well but then drops into a slower Reggae style thwomp. I would have preferred keeping the pace and intent of the intro. It reminds me too somewhat of The Delays. The lyrics are quite sweary which is unusual for her – it’s your standard woman scorned stuff and that sort of lyric only works for me if it goes deeply personal, like Alanis. Credit for the little rap portions (getting Chas and Dave vibes from those – rabbit rabbit rabbit) and for how the rhythm of ‘unapologetic bitch’ works. The chorus gets nuzzled into your brain.

Illuminati: It’s not the first time Madonna has done some rapid fire name-checking. Not names I give a shit about, but she’s gonna do what she’s gonna do. This is quite experimental for her – the verse doesn’t have anything obvious to grab hold of, then the chorus becomes quite sweet. At least it’s interesting, which is more than can be said for most pop stars of her, or any generation at the moment. There’s a John Carpenter synth vibe here and there. Once again, credit for trying something different, but I can’t say it all works for me. I don’t dislike it by any means.

Bitch I’m Madonna: This is the other one I’d heard. Some of the melodies are fine but the lyrics are abhorrent and the production is all over the place hitting all the black boxes of modern pop I can’t abide – silly sounds? Check. Dropping the momentum at the chorus? Check. Random newb warbling in the background? Check. Wafer beats? Check. Self interest? Check. Emotionless? Check. Catchy? Kind of, I guess. Bland and repetitive? For the most part, yeah.

Hold Tight: This seems much better. A more classic sound and vocal while still adhering to modern norms. It’s a simple approach this time, and a simple melody to go with it. The beats and production isn’t what I would choose again, pandering too much to today’s sound and quirks which will likely date the thing in a few more years. I would have gone all in on the backing vocals on this one to give a booming transcendent feel. It’s almost one of her better songs, but still good.

Joan Of Arc: A pondering guitar intro gives way to a lovely vocal and melody. It’s instantly more touching and honest. I feel like this is already going on the playlist. The drum beats could have been toughened up and rounded out, but that’s a minor issue. I think this will grow on me over time and it’s another example of a Madonna song which would work in any generation, with any production as long as the melody and purity is kept intact.

Iconic: With a name like that, this could go well or very badly. We’ll see. Oh balls, this is another .feat thing. This time it .feats a rapist, so that’s something. Verse is right up the middle, the little hey-yays are bordering on annoying. Decent pre-chorus. Of course the chorus loses the momentum and does that thing I won’t shut up about. At least there’s some sort of Halloween tone to that chorus. Some day in the future, someone’s going to re-do all the songs from the 2010s, but fix the chorus so that it doesn’t do the beat drop thing, and on that day every single one of those songs will take 10 large steps upwards in quality. Some bloke I’ve never heard of raps in the middle of everything else going on. It’s not very bad, but it’s a long way from good.

Heartbreakcity: Thankfully this one feels more streamlined – a lone piano line without tweaking. A neat military parade beat drops and the chorus builds and feels similar to Ghosttown. It’s another spiffing melody at times, but it doesn’t quite sustain that quality over the whole running time.

Body Shop: This is, what? Eastern folk inspired, with a child-like nursery rhyme quality? There’s some sort of tribal trance rhythm. In other words, she’s playing with conventions again. I can’t quite pick up many of the lyrics or what it’s all about during first listen. I don’t like the little ‘yeah’ shouts in the background, but then I never do. Without those I’d be willing to listen to this more. It’s a curio which is almost ruined by those repeated ‘yeah’s as they increase in frequency towards the end to the point that I had to stop the song early.

Holy Water: A more dance influenced, near rap from Madonna. It has some sex noises in the chorus. I could do with some more bass in the verse – something really dirty would have made it grind in a more sweaty, sexy way. At least the chorus doesn’t collapse like so many of the others. It’s nice that she’s still singing about her vagina. And that she’s referencing and sampling herself. An interesting one for sure, but I’m not sure there’s enough melodic quality for me to listen to it again.

Inside Out: There’s a dirtier fuzzier bass which should have been in the previous song. This is a stronger second half than the first. The verse is solid enough, then the chorus goes all Sia. That’s always a good thing. It’s not top tier Sia, or top tier Madonna, but definitely good enough that I’ll happily hear it again.

Wash All Over Me: Sole piano keys open and traverse the verse and a fair melody spreads itself out. The chorus is better, but it’s lacking something – a key change, another push? I don’t know, I just feel a tiny sense of frustration that it doesn’t go the way I wanted it to. It’s a good song to end the album with – a B song which doesn’t unleash the sadness or hope or whatever extra emotional push it is I was hoping for to shunt it into A.

So… it’s another good album. Solid. There aren’t as many true stand out tracks which I see making my long term playlist, but there is a long list of songs which just miss out and a short list consisting of average or crap. It once again confirms that when Madonna keeps things simple and builds a song around a melody rather than an idea or trend, that’s when she’s at her best; that’s when she still makes great pop songs. The worst moments are when she goes too experimental to the point that the song stops being a song, or when she copies what others are doing (chorus drop). There are some annoying quirks – backing shouts and vocals being the main offender, but when the song is good I can mostly overlook those. We’re almost caught up with Madonna now and I must admit that I didn’t expect to enjoy her post Ray Of Light stuff as much as I have. Sure there has been some crap, but there have been plenty of songs added to my playlist – and a few of those are from this album.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Ghosttown. Hold Tight. Joan Of Arc. Inside Out.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Rebel Heart!

Essential Movies – 1961 – Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

For the mainstream view – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and  film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. The Hustler (Best Picture Winner)

2. West Side Story (Top Grossing Movie)

3. 101 Dalmations (Best Film Critical Choice)

4. The Guns Of Navarone

5. Breakfast At Tiffany’s

6. Yojimbo

7. The Innocents

8. Judgement At Nuremberg

9. One-Eyed Jacks

10. The Pit And The Pendulum

Best Stuntwork – 1980

My Nominations: The Empire Strikes Back. The Stunt Man. The Big Brawl. The Blues Brothers. The Young Master.

What is always one of my favourite categories, because I’m a big silly action lovin’ boy, is a bit of a turd this year. There was a batch of War movies which don’t break any new ground, but the action genre was in a bit of a mire until the explosion which occurred later in the decade. With the name and plot of The Stunt Man you would rightly expect the film to contain a lot of stunts. In this instance that’s like saying The Wrestler has a lot of wrestling. There are stunts as this is the world the movie is set in, but they’re not the focus and they’re not pushing any boundaries. Still, there are a few nice car and chase gags. The Empire Strikes Back has a lot of practical action but we’re beginning to push action into the realms of gadgets, machines, and computers rather than solely having living performers putting their bodies on the line. It’s still one of the most action packed and stunt filled films of the year. In The Big Brawl and The Young Master Jackie Chan makes a few personal strides – into the US and as a director. Neither is one of his best efforts, but both features plenty of his trademark lightning fast and innovative fight scenes and acrobatic stunts. The clear winner for me this year has to be The Blues Brothers, thanks to its ridiculously excessive car chases, stunts, and pile-ups.

Incredible stunt driving in 'The Blues Brothers' 'was all real' - Chicago Sun-Times

My Winner: The Blues Brothers

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Ranking The Led Zeppelin Songs – Led Zep II!

Coming mere months after the debut, this is more than simply mroe of the same. The band cut down on the grungy blues sound and became more like what we think of today as a Rock band, packed with riffs and originals. It’s a stronger set of songs than the debut, but it also showcases the band’s burgeoning ego/don’tgiveafuckery with the always skippable Moby Dick. It’s a classic from top to bottom and contains several of my all time favourite songs. 1-5 I can’t pick between, 6 is great, 7 and 8 are the ones everyone knows, and then there’s Moby Dick. 

  1. Thank You
  2. Heartbreaker
  3. Living Loving Maid
  4. The Lemon Song
  5. What Is And What Should Never Be
  6. Bring It On Home
  7. Whole Lotta Love
  8. Ramble On
  9. Moby Dick

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Code Orange – Underneath (2020 Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! Another highly rated album from 2020 to cover today, and another one I have absolutely zero knowledge of. In fact, before writing this introduction I had to check on my original 2020 post to see which publication listed this album as one of their favourites. It was Kerrang, so this must be a Metal album. At the very least an album with guitars, given that Kerrang goes after all sorts these days. That’s all I know, but maybe the artwork will tell me something.

It’s a fleshy, cyborg, alien thing? It’s a bit like if Iron Maiden’s Eddie were a nerd, but was kidnapped by a Cenobite and then placed in one of Jigsaw’s traps. It doesn’t tell me much. Is it meant to be a violent, brutal image so the album will be violent and brutal? For any new readers – I write my intro before I’ve heard a single note of the album, but by the time we jump to the next paragraph I will have listened to the whole thing multiple times. Lets get to it.

You know, that image is a fairly accurate representation of the music – it’s the sort of music a demented AI might make if the only data it had to go on was Nursery Rhymes and 2010s Hardcore Metal. On one hand it’s fairly straight screamy shouty metal – brutal vocals song by boys who are angry because mommy wouldn’t let them ‘go out with hair like that’, thunderous drumming, and crushing riffs – but on the other hand you have an album deliberately broken with audio glitches and defects. The music will cut out without warning or begin to judder and skip like a dust ridden CD, and many of riffs have been distorted to sound like they have been heavily processed through multiple rusty filters and failing laptops. It’s cool, but the effect doesn’t have the same impact on multiple listens or by the time the final track comes around. It’s probably the most notable aspect of the album and what distinguishes this from the thousands of other Hardcore albums out there, which are generally very samey. It is a cool effect, it is overdone, but at least they mix up those effects with a variety and intensity that it does catch you off guard and create a sort of unique vibe. Of course, this glitching and trickery is not exactly original – The Music’s debut way back in 2002 had plenty of these stoppy starty shenanigans – but I don’t know how regularly it has been used in Metal. I wonder if these guys are fans of The Music – there’s a moment in Autumn And Carbine which is suspiciously reminiscent of the electro beats used in The Music’s third album. That seems highly unlikely.

I must admit to laughing and enjoying the opening track, because all the deliberately off-putting sound, screeches, and distortion is exactly the sort of ‘experimental music’ I was making more than 10 years ago. I have hundreds (literally) of ‘songs’ like this and when I have time I add the odd one to Youtube to terrify people. That intro builds nicely – I like a long instrumental intro to build anticipation and set tone and mood, but when this happens on an especially good intro I’m internally praying ‘don’t ruin it with the vocals don’t ruin it with the vocals’. In general I’m not a fan of Hardcore vocals because they crush the individuality of the voice and enforce limitations. I can take them in short bursts but this is the genre we’re in so it should be expected and evaluated as such. The album isn’t all shouts and screams – there are minor instances of clean female vocals and the songs which deftly balance the harsh with the clean, the light with the dark, such as Sulfur Surrounding are the most successful at sticking in my memory.

That’s the greatest quandary I have with this genre and the album. Hardcore, and plenty of other metal sub genres have a lack of melody and variety; little variety of emotion, little to no variety in vocal melody, and it’s all about as many downtuned basic riffs and how much shouty shouting you can shout. If you like Hardcore, you should like this. If you’re a purist though, you might be put off b the glitches, by the synth moments, by the cleaner sections because this album does strive for variety. It employs Hardcore as its foundation, but wants to build something more monstrous and remarkable. I don’t speak from any position of experience or authority but based on the rave reviews from those in the know, the band succeeded in this respect. This album does have variety – there are memorable vocal melodies (which may take time to sink in) and there is emotional variety (at least in the grey areas between annoyed, angry, and really pissed off). Songs such as The Easy Way and Sulfur Surrounding build upon this by eschewing the tried and tested and boring hardcore route of riff, shout, other shout, solo, shout end, by adding musical and structural elements not typically heard.

Still, as someone mostly unfamiliar with this sub-genre and with no real desire to learn about it or care (it’s all a bit… skinhead, you know), I could appreciate its brutality and experimentation and can gladly chill to any of the songs while driving. A few songs would be enough for me before I’d want to move on to something else – I get enough futile tantrums at home without needing it in my music too. A handful of the better blended songs I can stick on my playlist but the whole thing isn’t one I think I’ll return to. I can marvel at the production and applaud the musical ability and desire to drag the genre into new territory, but the songwriting in itself feels somewhat flat outside of the glitches.  Like many of the albums I have already reviewed from 2020 and likely those I haven’t got to yet – this isn’t for me so I’ll leave it to the people who it was designed for. I have no doubt they’ll love it.

Album Score

Sales: 3. Seems to have done okay, at least within a genre which doesn’t really sell anymore. Seems to be theit highest selling album – but we’re talking 10s of thousands here. I could go 2 here, but lets give them some props.

Chart: 2. A hardcore album isn’t really designed to sell outside its core audience or set the charts alight. It made it onto the top 200 in US. Not as high as their debut I believe, but times have changed.

Critical: 5. Go down to a 4 if you want to include non-Metal publications, but praise has been flawless across the board in Metal magazines and sites.

Originality: 3. Normally a Hardcore album is going to get a 1 or a 2 from me here. This strives for me and generally does more. Enough for a 3 at least.

Influence: 3. I would hope that this will spur other young bands within this genre and the genres less prone to experimentation and variety to take the lead. It’s not going to influence on a wider scale so I could see a 2 or even a 1 here if you’re very harsh. Definitely don’t see this as higher than 3.

Musical Ability: 3. They can play, but we’re talking Metal here. If you can’t better than almost every other genre, you’re not going to get as high as a 3. I expect each person to be an expert in their craft. The glitches are more a case of production and ideas than musical ability – outside of that I didn’t feel enough to hit a 4.

Lyrics: 3. Naturally I had to Google the lyrics to see what they’re all about. There are bits and bobs related to changing and adapting to the modern world which fits with the music. Aside from that, all the usual Metal topics stated plainly without much poetry or invention – control, violence, anger, the usual.

Melody: 2: Only a handful of songs standout in this respect – I’ve been lenient so far in some of my scoring but if you force me up to a 3 here, I can drop Lyrics to a 2. Most of the songs don’t differ in the vocal melodies aside from the few notable ones, and even those aren’t the catchiest in the world. I won’t grumble if you go 3 here but anything higher seems like bias.

Emotion: 3. Genres like this aren’t the most subtle or nuanced in terms of emotion – there’s only so much range of emotion you can convey when your vocals are at 11 the entire time. It comes down to how much importance you place on expectation – if you expect and want anger, volume, shouting, then you can mark higher. If you are looking for a more balanced range of emotions across a spread of songs, then you mark lower. I’ll go average considering the genre. 

Lastibility: 3. While time will tell whether this was a game-changer, it seems like it has made enough impact based on its reviews to sustain itself at least until their next album drops. Metal fans are devout to their group or sub genre, and those outside the group will complain or move on to the next thing. Not enough information to say for sure, but a 3 seems reasonable. 

Vocals: 3. I’m no judge on hardcore vocals and what is good versus bad versus whatever. What I do know is that I can only take so much of it, not because it’s loud or shouty, but because it’s repetitive and dull and lacks character. Some songs offer mainly clean vocals, some songs offer additional vocals, and some songs blend clean and harsh. I didn’t have any issue with the quality of any of the vocals, more that they were mostly generic. 

Coherence: 4. I’m happy going high on this category because the band seemed committed to their idea for their sound, and did everything possible to make a coherent product. The glitches and electronic (for lack of a better term) sound carries through to the end.

Mood: 3. I could agree with an argument for a 4 here as the coherence lifts the mood, but given the lack of emotion and feeling I generally get from this type of music I’m not confident that any mood the band is trying to communicate would not translate to me.

Production: 4. Another strength, everything is clear and the various components are nuanced in the way that the emotions are not. Most notable aspects being the glitches and future shock soundscapes which are handled with both taste and bluster. 

Effort: 3. I always dread scoring this category because effort is sacred and sacrosanct. It feels disingenuous to score low when artists, especially in these genres, put their heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into their creation. I have no doubt the band did everything they could to write, record, and produce this album – but so does every other band if they’re serious about their craft. I don’t see or I’m not aware of anything over and above what other bands do. 

Relationship: 2. When I was younger maybe I would have felt different, but even when I was younger and more accepting of most Metal subgenres such as this were at an arm’s length. I love melody, and emotion, and shades of colour. I also love being heavy and angry and skilful and fast, but there are tonnes of other albums and artists who do those things while also speaking to me on a personal level. 

Genre Relation: 3. Sure… it sounds like most other albums in this genre that I’ve heard. But it also goes further and tries more. Then again, not my area of expertise. 

Authenticity: 4. Metal artists often live or die based on how authentic they are. If your fanbase feels you’ve sold out or moved to far away from what drew them to you, they’ll bugger off and let you know. Again, I don’t know much about it but it seems authentic, committed, and they believe in what they’re doing. 

Personal: 3. I’m honestly closer to a 2 because I know I’ll never listen to it again, but I also know it’s a better album than what a 2 would suggest. This score is all about your personal feelings so you can put all of you bias into this score – if an album sells in the millions, tops the charts, gets rave reviews, but it’s Country and you hate it – give it a 5 in those other categories but give it a 1 here. This is a low 3 for me, but the belief and the novelty of the glitching is enough to stop it dropping to a 2.

Miscellaneous: 2. I could go 3 here, but there’s not enough in the artwork or the surrounding info of the album to really nail down that score. 

Total: 61/100

That’s a lower score than most I’ve reviewed so far – but remember it’s only a 7 point difference between Ungodly Hours which is an album I did enjoy much more on a personal level. It may take something special to break that 70 mark!

Anneke: Live In Europe

*Originally written in 2011

Live In Europe | Anneke van Giersbergen

Although Anneke had released a live album the previous year with Danny Cavanagh, this is her first solo live release. An accomplished live performer whose energy, passion, and voice is as strong on stage as in the studio, this was undoubtedly an album to look forward to for fans when it was announced. The main issues to overcome with these sorts of albums are whether the songs selected will please as many fans as possible, whether the songs selected transfer well to a live performance, and whether it feels like a cheap cash-in or a genuine, love-filled release.

‘Intro’ is a mixture of applause and guitar noise from The World alongside other assorted backing sounds, building up the crowd nicely.

‘The World’ opens the gig, an opener that I’m not 100% convinced by – it has a nice build up, but isn’t an immediate crowd pleaser or one which will whip the audience into a frenzy. There are a number of other tracks in the Anneke canon, even on In Your Room which I feel would work better as an opening track to a live show, but regardless it is performed well, has an edge, and gets things going.

‘My Girl’ comes in straight after the first track with no time for catching you breath in between. The focus seems to be on the heavier side of Anneke’s tracks so far, with the distorted guitars giving this one a bit more bite than the studio release. Anneke enjoys herself here, in particular belting out the ending ‘ooh-ahhs’.

‘Who I Am’ is, as Anneke explains, a song written with Mr. Devin Townsend – a figure Anneke continues to partner with fruitfully. This is a fun song, with bouncing rhythms, catchy verses, and eventually a fantastic chorus which lets the vocals soar. A highly enjoyable song which I’d love to see get a studio release.

‘Day After Yesterday’ is one of my least favourite Anneke songs, and even though it is played and performed well here, I don’t think it translates well to the live setting, at least not how it is arranged here. Perhaps an even slower, colder, ghostly version, with a backing choir would convince me otherwise.

‘Hey Okay’ on the other hand is one of my favourite Anneke tracks, although it sounds a little flat here, not really picking up until the guitar solo comes in. Anneke sounds a little breathless singing here, and I’ve heard better live versions on YouTube.

‘Fury’ is my highlight of the album, an awesome, up tempo rock song with nice guitar work and excellent vocals. It’s another that I’d love to see a studio release for, thanks to its brilliant chorus and impactful verses.

‘Beautiful One’ is another strong track (and a better opener in my opinion) which is given new life in the new setting. The song lends itself to a variety of potential arrangements, here going for a much more bombastic chorus with crashing guitar work and angelic vocals.

‘Adore’ again is one of my favourites, and it’s great to see it here as live shows and special re-recorded albums never feature my favourite tracks. This one I imagine isn’t the easiest to sing with its diving and rising melodies, but Anneke does a stellar job on it. It isn’t too different from the studio version, a few less instruments and less complex, but a few added vocal flourishes.

‘I Want’ also translates well to the live arena, with bouncing rhythms which threaten the crowd into jumping along. Another fun song, there isn’t anything complicated here, or much I can say to criticize it.

‘Laugh It Out’ is an interesting one in that it never stays in my memory long, but I always enjoy it thoroughly when I hear it, having forgotten all about its existence. More great verse and chorus work, another one with a fast pace, this one sees Anneke shouting goodnight to the crowd towards the end – another one which it would be nice to see a studio version of.

‘Witnesses’ seems on paper live a totally bizarre choice for a live release, but it surprisingly works well. It’s a raucous recording, I enjoy her pronunciation of ‘universe’ and it has an extended, bruising ending.

‘Shrink’, while obviously being the closer to Nighttime Birds seems like an odd choice of song to close this album with, given that the rest of the songs were on the heavier, louder, more distorted side. It’s a little jarring for this to be thrown in at the end, being such a soft, slow song. And although the rest of the band come in and try to do something a little different with it, those changes don’t always work, and within the context of the album, they don’t save it from being a strange closing track. I’ve never heard a legitimate heavy version of the track, maybe they should have went all out and done a full on rawk version, although that could have been a failure.

An essential release for Anneke fans, albeit let down by a short running time, the absence of some great songs (subjective of course), and a fairly average recording quality – there is a lot of  hissing and extra distortion in the background, the vocal mic seems much too loud and at times the volume isn’t consistent. That being said though, these are mostly minor complaints – what we do have is a great bunch of songs performed with relish, a few nice exclusives, and another worthy purchase. There isn’t a lot of audience interaction, and I don’t hear much noise coming from the crowd between tracks, though again that would be subjective and something I enjoy hearing on Live records that others may hate. Hopefully we’ll get a much fuller live release in the future, one with a stronger production, and hopefully an accompanying DVD!

Essential Movies – 1961

Greetings, Glancers! Welcome back to my series of posts examining those movies intelligent people call Essential – and whether the rest of us should agree.  Check out my explanation post for more info, and have a look at my 1961 Oscars posts if you have additional time to waste. Onwards!

A Raisin In The Sun

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the first films to feature a predominantly African American cast including Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier. Preserved by the USA National Film Registry.

Why It May Not Be: Dated even though still topical, no-one remembers it, didn’t do huge business.

What I Think: Even Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds will likely miss out on this one, probably essential for Fans of the cast.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Blake Edwards, one of the most iconic Romances of all time. Top 15 grossing movie that year. Won two Oscars, nominated for three others. Moon River. Preserved by NFR.

Why It May Not Be: It’s old?

What I Think: One of the most obviously all around Essential Movies of the 60s. You don’t get to be a Critic, Film Nerd, or Film Fan without seeing this. Casuals and Careless will know it and should see it.

Fanny

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture and Actor.

Why It May Not Be: It has an unfortunate name. Most people won’t care about the cast. It wasn’t successful. I don’t think anyone remembers it outside of devout stage fans.

What I Think: Essential only if you’re determined to see every film nominated for Best Picture. No-one else needs to seek this out, as enjoyable as it may be.

Judgement At Nuremberg

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Preserved by NFR. Top 15 Grossing film that year. The most famous film about one of the most important Court Cases ever. Stanley Kramer directs. Spencer Tracey, Burt Lancaster, Max Schell, Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich appear among others – some of the biggest names in Hollywood History. Nominated for 11 Oscars with Schell winning Best Actor.

Why It May Not Be: It’s old and modern audiences may not know all of the historical nuances.

What I Think: Essential for Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds. Should be essential for Film Fans – a must see for Courtroom Drama fans or fans of the cast. No-one else will be interested in finding it.

Last Year At Marienbad

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Directed by Alain Resnais. Masterpiece of surrealism. Influenced David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, nominated for an Oscar two years after release.

Why It May Not Be: Surrealism is a tough self and this is ambiguous as films get. There are no easy answers and most people like a beginning, middle, and end with clear structure.

What I Think: Essential for Wannabe Critics. Film Nerds should give at least one Alan Resnais film a go, so why not this. Surrealist Fans should see it. No-one will care.

La Notte

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Antonioni, Mastroinanni, Jeanne Moreau.

Why It May Not Be: Who?

What I Think: A dense Italian drama about a collapsing relationship – not going to be an easy sell to a modern audience. Wannabe Critics should see it, Film Nerds should try, if you’re not a fan of Antonioni or the cast you’re not going to chase it down.

Lola

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Jacques Demy. Anouk Aimee.

Why It May Not Be: Again, who?

What I Think: If you’re not a fan of Demy or Aimee, or a devotee of the French New Wave you won’t care.

Lover Come Back

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Nominated for an Oscar. Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Screwball comedy in an world of Executives.

Why It May Not Be: Old, dated, corny, not well remembered.

What I Think: Only essential if you like the two stars.

One Eyed Jacks

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Directed by and starring Marlon Brando.

Why It May Not Be: Other than the above, there isn’t much to recommend it to people.

What I Think: An interesting curio and essential for Brando fans. Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds should be aware of it and therefore should see it, but wouldn’t class it as essential for them.

One Hundred And One Dalmations

Why It May Be Considered Essential: It’s Disney. Cruella De Vil. Spawned a Live action sequel or two. Top 10 Grossing Film of the year.

Why It May Not Be: It was during a dark period for Disney where their films were not doing so well, critically or commercially and suffers from being a little dull. The songs aren’t great.

What I Think: Even though Disney films were not great during this time, this one proved they could still make a lot of money on a small budget. Aside from the wacky and dark story, it’s quite a plain story but as it is a Disney animated movie it should be considered Essential for almost everyone. The Casuals may have seen it when younger or if they have kids of their own, and same goes for The Careless – not as vital as some Disney movies, more important than others – so somewhere in the middle.

Splendor In The Grass

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Natalie Wood. Warren Beatty. Elia Kazan. Top ten grossing film of the year. Won one Oscar and nominated for another.

Why It May Not Be: Teen drama from an era long gone. Most modern audiences won’t care about the cast. Stupid name?

What I Think: A fine school-based drama with good performances and timeless arguments, but a setting and style and period which will not resonate as easily with modern viewers. Only essential for fans of the cast, not essential for Film Nerds and not high up the must see list for Wannabe Critics.

The Exiles

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the first films of its kind, a pseudo-documentary, but based mostly on the lives of young Native Americans who have left their reservations and moved to the big city.

Why It May Not Be: See above. No-one has ever seen it.

What I Think: I have no idea.

The Guns Of Navarone

Why It May Be Considered Essential: 2nd highest grossing movie of the year. Gregory Peck. David Niven. Anthony Quinn. Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Score, Writing, and others and won for Best Visual Effects.

Why It May Not Be: In the pantheon of great war action movies, this one has maybe been overshadowed by some others. Modern audiences looking for action aren’t likely to look so far in the past.

What I Think: One of the finest WWII era action movies and a perennial seasonal British favourite. Essential for Film Nerds more than Wannabe Critics, but both groups should see this. Essential for War fans, interesting enough that channel surfers may catch it and be drawn in by the cast and the action.

The Hustler

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Paul Newman. Piper Laurie. George C Scott. Nominated for Best Picture and 8 other Oscars, winning for Set Decoration and Cinematography.

Why It May Not Be: Old and Black and White?

What I Think: One of the best Sports movies ever with some iconic performances and characters. Essential for Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds, and fans of the cast. Fans of Pool and Snooker should consider it essential. Likely too distant now for Casuals or Careless to go looking for it.

The Innocents

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the finest ghost/haunted house movies ever, dense and gothic.

Why It May Not Be: Old, BW, not many obvious scares, and probably too stodgy and sterile for modern audiences.

What I Think: A classic in the British horror genre, but a slow-burner which only certain horror fans will appreciate. Essential for Wannabe Critics, less essential for Film Nerds and horror fans, not essential for anyone else.

The Ladies Man

Why It May Be Considered Essential: A Jerry Lewis comedy.

Why It May Not Be: Not many modern viewers will care about the above.

What I Think: Only essential for Lewis fans.

The Misfits

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Miller. Huston. Gable. Monroe. Arguably more famous for the Production issues than the end result. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be: Monroe may remain a household name, but how many modern viewers have actually seen one of her films? If they have, it’s not this one. A flop on release.

What I Think: Filmed as Miller and Monroe were separating and Huston was drinking heavily. Monroe was in rehab during production. Gable died days after filming finished, Monroe a year later. An interesting film to be aware of due to its troubled history, so Essential for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics. Essential for fans of the cast due to strong performances. Not essential for anyone else.

Through A Glass Darkly

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Bergman. Won Best Foreign Film Oscar. Harriet Andersson. Max Von Sydow. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be: See above.

What I Think: Bergman, so again if you want to be a critic or call yourself a Film Nerd, you have to have seen a few Bergman films. This one is a good mixture of accessibility, art, and heavy themes. Essential for Bergman fans – no one else will give a damn.

Viridiana

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Bunuel. Won the Palme d’Or.

Why It May Not Be: See above.

What I Think: Same as Bergman – you need to see some Bunuel and this is as good a place to start as any. Again, no-one else will care.

West Side Story

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Best Picture winner, top grossing film of the year, won Oscars for Best Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and six more. One of the most famous and popular musicals of all time.

Why It May Not Be: Musicals. They’re balls.

What I Think: Arguably the end of the traditional epic Hollywood musical – what more could be done after this? If you’re going to watch one, it may as well be this. Essential for Film Nerds, Wannabe Critics, and Fans – Casuals and Careless will be aware of it and may as well see it but depending on preferences may not seek this out.

Yojimbo

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Kurosawa. Mifune. Swords. Basis of A Fistful of Dollars. One of the best Samurai movies ever. Influential.

Why It May Not Be: Old. BW. Foreign.

What I Think: Essential for Film Nerds, Wannabe Critics, and Kurosawa fans. Like Japanese movies? Then this is essential. Casuals and Careless will not care unless they happen to like old Samurai movies.

Let us know in the comments which movies of 1961 you feel are Essential viewing – feel free to borrow my categorizations or choose your own definitions!

Best Visual Effects – 1980

My Nominations: The Empire Strikes Back. Altered States. Flash Gordon. The Fog. Superman II.

This year there was no official category, but Empire won a Special Achievement award. If there had been a category, Empire likely would have been the winner. There’s the argument that it doesn’t do too much over and above what was set up in A New Hope but when you consider the scale of Hoth and Bespin as well as all of the space battle stuff the foundations laid out three years earlier have been built upon tenfold. Altered States is a movie which takes a theoretical scientific approach into other states of consciousness as prompted by drugs, sensory overload and depravation etc, and as such the need to accurately convey these states on screen is vital for the film’s success. The effects are as dated as anything else from this time, but powerfully aid the film’s nightmarish quality. I’m loath to include effects as dated as those seen in Flash Gordon, but I guess a lot of kids would have been enchanted by them back in the day. With The Fog, less is more and the ever spreading fog and flashes of what lies within lead to a gripping atmosphere and plenty of suspense. Superman II doesn’t up the ante from 2 years earlier, but more of the same is good enough for a year like this.

Strawberry Dragon Project: Film Review: The Empire Strikes Back

My Winner: The Empire Strikes Back

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Ranking The Led Zeppelin Songs – Led Zep 1!

The argument for what is the greatest Rock debut album is one which has always, and will continue to rage on. No matter what, Led Zep’s debut has to be in to mix. As much as the band borrowed from Blues standards, they did more to enhance those than the likes of The Rolling Stones ever did. To borrow one of modernity’s most annoying phrases ‘they made it their own’. There’s not a duff song in the bunch, though I do skip many of the songs if they appear in my shuffle just because of over familiarity. Several songs are cultural touchstones, and the whole package introduced us to probably the best Rock and Roll band ever.

  1. Communication Breakdown
  2. How Many More Times
  3. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
  4. Good Times Bad Times
  5. Dazed And Confused
  6. Your Time Is Gonna Come
  7. I Can’t Quit You Baby
  8. Black Mountain Side
  9. You Shook Me

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Nepotism In The Film Industry

*Originally written in 2019

Nepotism. Once reserved only for Kings and Politicians, it gradually became so ingrained within the movie industry that it’s even less likely that you, glancer, will ever break into the family, should you so desire. Dreams are hard enough to chase without people born with silver spoons in their ass cutting four million places ahead of you in the line. For every kid with stardom in their eyes and a red carpet for a tongue, and for every writer with original ideas flushing from their brain, there’s a Coppola or a Redgrave or some other niece or nephew from one of Hollywood’s dynasties just waiting to stand on your neck and vomit down your gullet. There always seems to be another Fonda, another Willis, another Smith… it’s enough to make you throw it all away and become a murderous incel instead. Except, that would be a dick move, just like the dicks forcing their ofttimes unworthy glitz and glam spawn upon us.

I’m being tongue in cheek of course – many of the kids born into acting or directing or writing families are so surrounded by talent, so involved in the industry that it kind of almost makes sense that a lot of it will rub off on them and that they make the next generation of quality entertainment. On the flip side… these people are growing up with absolutely zero idea of what the real world actually is, and the stories they tell and the characters they play often bear no relation to a real human being. There’s a reason why the best movies and performers and writers and directors often come from the working class or from non-industry backgrounds. I say there is room for both, but more and more often it seems like those small parts, tailor made for a new voice, are being taken away by daddy’s little princess or mummy’s special little guy. With the calls for diversity and equality, rightly sweeping all areas of Entertainment, Sports, Business, and life in general, worrying about something so seemingly trivial as this feels like I’m pouring fuel on an already foul fire and that I should be placing my efforts towards Gender or Race Equality. Once again, I do support those things wholeheartedly, because it is only fair that everyone gets a fair shot regardless of background – and more interesting results always come from diverse opinions – whether we’re talking movies, music, politics, whatever.

I’m not outright calling Film Nepotism as something truly horrific, even if it can be, even as unfair as it is.  Some of the best people had famous industry parents, and many of the best movies would not have happened without Nepotism. I’m not saying the children of actors are going to deliver bad performances or unoriginal material – they might – but I am saying that there are issues that need to be addressed. I am saying the phenomena shows no signs of slowing down – if anything it appears to be getting more prevalent. I’m asking how many other performers out there never had a chance because they lacked the family connection? How many films never got made with a specific vision, or at all, because the person with the vision didn’t have a famous name? I’m saying – you have an audition down to two candidates for a role, and one of them is just some kid with great potential, while the other is the son of an Oscar Winner? 99% of the time, they’re going to go for the connection – keeping the family connections safe and secure, patting each other on the back, leaning on the marketing of such a name, and remaining inside an impervious bubble. Smart business, right? I’m saying, not just Hollywood, lets give someone else a shot. Businesses live and die nowadays based on diversity, and it’s not only skin colour, age, sexuality, and race we should be considering (though those are more important).

You probably know most of the aforementioned Hollywood families, but most people don’t realize just how prevalent this activity actually is. Here are some people who “only” got into the industry because of their famous family. Snowflake alert – I have no doubt that these guys are talented, but lets not pretend you got here on merit alone. Making it in any business is 5% talent, 10% hard work, 50% luck, and 90% who you know. I should know – my Maths teacher told me. This will be the first of several posts on the topic, alerting you to some of the people who may not realise had a leg up from birth.

Note – everything above and below this paragraph. was written in 2019 – 2020. I never bothered posting it because I wanted to expand the list to at least 10 entries. I got bored after the seven below and never came back to the idea. In recent weeks I’ve come to it but with a slightly different idea in mind. In my future posts on this topic, I’m either going to pick one or two of my favourite movies of a particular year and go through the entire cast to see just how many of them had a leg or two up based on their family connections, or I’m going to pick a random movie which has recently been released and do the same. Till then, try to enjoy my original post. Please. Please?

Maggie And Jake Gyllenhaal.

With a family name spreading back to Swedish nobility of the 1600s, their family members have included Ministers Of Justice for Sweden, Barons, Socialites, and various high ranking Army types. Bringing it to the 20th Century, Maggie and Jake’s father Stephen is a TV and Film Director who has worked on Family of Spies, Twin Peaks, Girl Fight, while their mother Naomi is an Oscar nominated Screenwriter for Running On Empty. With that sort of family it would be more surprising if you weren’t a worldwide success.

Julia Roberts/Eric Roberts/Emma Roberts.

Julia, Eric, and Emma are the daughter, son, and granddaughter respectively of Betty Lou Bredemus. While it’s true each of them has exceeded the matriarch in terms of fame, they probably wouldn’t have got far without her backing. She was a stage actress who worked alongside Rance Howard (more on him later) and though she kept out of the limelight, she worked on local TV and created an acting and writing workshop with great success, tutoring the children of Marin Luther King.

Ron Howard/Clint Howard/Bryce Dallas Howard/Paige Howard

If you thought the Howard clan started with Ron, you’d be ron (wrong). Rance Howard began acting in the late 40s but ironically got his major success because he starred alongside his young children Ron and Clint in hits such as Gentle Ben and The Andy Griffith Show in a weird example of… reverse nepotism? Naturally, the Matriarch was an actress too, appearing in many of Ron’s movies. Rance shows up in films such as Cool Hand Luke, Chinatown, many of Ron’s movies, Ron begat Paige and Bryce, and I’m sure they won’t be the last.

Gwyneth Paltrow

With a name like Gwyneth, you just know your parents were famous eccentric types (Apple and Moses, I’m looking at you). Yes, old ‘how the hell did she win an Oscar’ is daughter to Blythe Danner – Emmy and Tony Award winning actress that you may know from those focking Fockers movies or Futureworld or The Prince Of Tides or any number of TV movies. As if that wasn’t enough, her father was director and producer Bruce Paltrow, known for St Elsewhere and The White Shadow. Oh yes, Gwyneth’s brother Jake has directed Boardwalk Empire and NYPD Blue, her uncle Harry is an opera singer and actor from Ally McBeal and The Wedding Planner, her cousin Katherine has appeared in The L Word, Ray Donovan, and other cousin Gabrielle is an Arizona Politician. Some families spread like a disease.

Jennifer Anniston

One of the true 90s Sweethearts, Anniston was a breath of fresh air (hair?) when we first saw her as Rachel in Friends. A new talent, she…. wait a minute, wasn’t she in Leprechaun? And wait, wasn’t she in Mac And Me? Man, I love that movie. Turns out Jennifer’s entry into Hollywood was through an already open door, rather than the slammed and bolted shut way us normies face. While hardly a dynasty like some others already mentioned, and while she was discouraged from a career in Cinema, her mother nevertheless was an actress – Nancy Dow appeared in various movies and TV series in the 1960s, while her Greek immigrant father John Anniston is a popular TV and Soap actor, most famous for over 2500 episodes of Day Of Our Lives. 

Joaquin Phoenix

Note – when I began writing this, I didn’t have any set format in mind. I wrote the first draft a good year before returning to it, and when I did return I decided to take a different approach. So the next names I’m looking at are recent Oscar Winners and Nominees – just to see their family connections (ha! Either that or recent releases or my own personal favourites. Or all three. Or more likely none). Joaquin Phoenix is undoubtedly one of the most revered performers of his generation. It’s a little disingenuous to include him here – his parents were not performers – but it was his mother’s work as a secretary for NBC that ensured a talent scout spotted her children and their potential. While Joaquin and River have had the most success out of the five siblings, it is only sisters Summer and Liberty who have had children of their own. There’s every chance those kids will extend the Phoenix legacy in the future.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Another child actor turned Hollywood Heavyweight, DiCaprio had a minor edge over the competition given that his father was an established writer with many acquaintances in the 70s Underground. While hardly a deal-breaker, his father’s experience in these circles undoubtedly helped Leo become the star he is today.

Let us know in the comments if you have any obvious or minor examples of Hollywood nepotism and your own thoughts on the phenomena!