My Blog – April 2019

It’s my Birthday! Not today, but yes, my Birthday is in April. Isn’t that exciting? Did you get me a present? No? Well thanks buddy, that was awful swell of you. This month, I’m going to give a shout out to some other nice blogs which I follow. These guys are some of the cream of the crop. Lots of blogs do this sort of post – promoting and sharing the blogs they love and as I’m feeling festive I thought I would join in. Try these sites out, you should like them. Anyone angry about not being covered – apologies, I just went to the Manage My Following page and went down in order, grabbing a few of the blogs which have been most recognizable to me recently.

Scruffy Storms

Scruffy writes about the gigs she has been to, featuring a few of my favourite bands, namely Manic Street Preachers. Interestingly or upsettlingly I knew someone called Scruff. He was a friend from school. He’s dead now though. Sucks.

Aircraft, Albatross, and A Beast

This guy writes about Iron Maiden, about history, and about how the band merges the two. If you’re a fan of the band, you’ll enjoy.

Mondo Vulgare

Horror thoughts and essays, written with a critic’s precision and a fan’s love. Come here not for mere reviews, but more thought-provoking talking points.

Elena Square Eyes 

I can’t vouch for whether her seeing orbs are round or of the cube variety, but she does write about books and movies and other stuff you like. She doesn’t just review new stuff, which I like.

Emmakwall

This 21st Century Clarissa helps explain it all for us – movies, soundtracks, and funnies. Go climb in her window (or just click the link above for a less creepy alternative).

Perpetually Past Due

Book, music, and movie reviews, and the odd bit of personal stuff too, again with reviews coming late to the party which I can appreciate.

Steve For The Deaf

Songs. Lots and lots of songs. Seemingly at random, but probably not. He writes about music in a more superior way than my repetitive ramblings, plus the blog is prettier.

Stuff And That

They do stuff and that. They like to say yo. What do you get if you cross a Yo and a Yo? Paper cuts.

Jordan And Eddie

Movie reviews from down under. Yes, that’s right – they live in a sewer.

Established 82.com

He was established in 82. I was 83. We went to school together, but don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret. Wait – ah, balls.

Cinematic Coffee

I don’t like coffee, but I like this blog. John has a huge love for film and a wide knowledge of cinema which puts the rest of us to shame. He doesn’t have enough followers, so go do the thing.

Want to check out these blogs? Click da linx! Want me to share your blog here? Send me money! Want to comment? Slap one in below!

My Blog – March 2019

As promised, this month I’m going to do a few of my own questions or answers. Some generic, some ZANY! Many of these probably come up in that ‘Complete Questions’ book I mentioned last month, but that’s fine. I’ve probably mentioned a lot of these before too, in other posts. Before that, March is going to be Movie month here at The Spac Hole, so fewer music posts and more movie reviews.

Yo, Nightman! What’s your favourite film?

You mean you haven’t been looking at my painstaking posts of favourite films from every year? You better handle that, son. My favourite films include Star Wars, The Terminator, T2, Robocop, The Thing, Predator, Police Academy, Dumb and Dumber, Ringu, Battle Royale, Conan The Barbarian. Basically anything with guns and gore.

Yeah, I’ve been meaning to do that Nightman, promise. But who’s your favourite band?

My favourite bands/artists include Manic Street Preachers, Guns’n’Roses, Alice Cooper, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, The Bangles, The Gathering, The Music, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Iron Maiden…

K, cool, my dad likes some of them. Do you like reading?

Young whippersnapper. My favourite authors include Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Roald Dahl, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Banana Yoshimoto, Haruki Murakami, Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Louis MacNeice, Christina Rossetti.

Who? Are they part of the MCU? Forget that, what else do you do?

One thing I enjoy doing currently is watching various Youtubers react to my favourite stuff. This mainly falls into two categories – people watching Buffy for the first time and rap fans listening to metal for the first time. I don’t like reactors who simply watch shows and don’t give any real thoughts or commentary, and I don’t like reactors who simply listen to a song and gawp open mouthed at how good it is – it seems (is) false. I want to hear why you like or don’t like something. I don’t want to look at your face. I’d like to see more people (any people) react to Twin Peaks. The problem with these reactors is they all react to the same shows. Carve your own niche.

I like Pewdiepie. You seem like a great guy, tell me something random. 

Wha, Pewdi – I like literally low-key can’t even. Please reevaluate your life and make better decisions. Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed about myself IRL is that some people have a habit of becoming very attached to me (through no choice of my own) but then that connection gradually evaporates. I don’t mean like a regular friendship which fades over time or that gets rekindled every so often. It’s like an instant infatuation, like finding your new favourite TV show that you obsess over for a year and tell all your friends about, but then by the time the third season comes along you’ve kind of given up on it even though it hasn’t changed. I think people see something in me and suck it dry (matron). I don’t mean that to sound harsh or condescending to them or myself – it’s just the way it is. I become central and important in their lives, and then I become nothing. It doesn’t really matter how I feel about it all. I notice it now when it’s starting to happen, and sometimes I push it away or go out of my way to try to not let it happen. It sucks when someone becomes important in your life and then later you either never see them again, or when you do see them it’s like all the good stuff never happened. I didn’t quite mean that to sound so melodramatic and cliched… that’s not quite what I’m going for here.

Yeah? Dry your eyes. I’m getting bored now, and you kinda weirded me out with that. What I really want to know is wh-

One thing I used to love doing when I was younger was creating my own football tournaments with playing cards. Yes, I created entire histories and back stories for playing cards. My team was the King Of Diamonds. I would roll up tiny pieces of paper – the best was the foil from inside Soft Mints/Soft Fruits sweet wrappers, and using them as a football. I would have season long leagues and cups with these cards, recording every result and seeing who won at the end. I would set up goals in my bedroom and have a match between two playing cards. Each card would have two shots on goal, so the maximum any team could score was two. One would get two chances at scoring, while the other card acted as goalie. Then they would swap. In cup competitions if it ended in a draw, it would go to sudden death penalties. I started expanding it from playing cards to other card sets that I owned – Warhammer’s Citadel Playing Cards, Top Trumps, Nintendo character cards I got free from magazines, they all had their own leagues etc, then the best from each would qualify at the end for a World Cup type tournament. I loved it.

O…k… I think I’m going to go now

Wuh… wait. come back! Oh. Aww. Ah well. Another month, and another reason for everyone to back slowly away from me and my blog. Come on, I’m spilling the beans, so how about you? What embarrassing stuff do you do now which provides no value other than entertaining yourself. What about when you were young? I don’t know you and you don’t know me, so it doesn’t matter if we share these secrets. Maybe it’ll make you feel better – though it will almost certainly make you feel considerably worse. Toodles!

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the defintion into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attentino to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

My Blog – February 2019

Look! Look at this! I’m being all regular, and I haven’t even eaten any brown bread this week! Poo jokes aside, welcome back to my monthly post about Gawd knows what. As a heads-up, I’ll try to post more music related stuff this month – I have a bunch of posts written this time last year which I haven’t published yet, so expect more of my thoughts on Bowie, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Roxette, Chart Music from various years, and maybe a couple from the Top 1000 Series.

So, I was looking for a list of questions to introduce myself on my blog (even though I’ve been at it for nearly a decade) when I found this site about ‘the three questions who need to ask yourself’ about why your blog isn’t successful – you know, typical click-bait stuff. Not being interested in making money off this thing or worrying whether I get nineteen or nine hundred views a day (I’ve had both), I clicked on it anyway to see what angle the article took. It was about making readers subscribe rather than just visit once, and their number one key to success for this was making sure that the viewer knew what your blog was about at first glance. Makes sense – if it’s a movie blog, give it a movie related title and drown it in movie pics, right? Naturally being obtuse, my blog name doesn’t make sense and it goes out of its way to not be about anything. That says almost everything you need to know about me. Regardless – lets get on to some random questions about me!

Note – before looking, I have a feeling what these questions are going to be like, so next month I’ll probably devise some questions myself. I’m shamelessly nicking these questions from other blogs, so don’t @ me. I don’t know what that means.

Note part deux – a simple Google search uncovered a book called ‘The Complete Book Of Questions’ by Garry Poole. I might dip into that too and answer a few every month. Enough talk, question me up!

  1. What are your nicknames? What do you prefer to be called?

Well, truth be told, my actual name is not Carlos Nightman. Shocker, right? I don’t know of too many (any) people named Carlos from Northern Ireland. That’s where I’m from, by the way. I don’t have an Irish sounding name either, so no Paddy McSpud here. I’ve had a variety of nicknames over the years – Nightman of course, Sonic, Pandy, Appleskin, Skin, Droid, etc, but the one which sticks most is Mal. It’s Latin for evil, and I did Latin in school for seven years. What do I prefer to be called? I have no preference… names are silly.

2. What books on your shelf are begging to be read?

Can books beg? A brief glance at the shelf behind where I’m typing this contains an Arnold Schwarzenegger biography, a Bruce Dickinson biography, a few recent Stephen King and Anne Rice novels, some oldies by Clive Barker which I haven’t started yet, a couple of volumes from The Black Library, Joe Hill, Fever by Deon Meyer, Madness Is Better Than Defeat by Ned Beauman, From The Fatherland With Love by Ryu Murakami, and South Of The Border by Haruki Murakami. My neck is getting sore twisting to see the shelf, so that’s enough. I’ll get to them all, no preference as to what comes next. Oh yeah, there’s a tonne of Buffy books too – those semi-official tie-ins. I started buying those second hand from Belfast’s charity shops, haven’t read any yet but they’re probably terrible.

3. How often do you doodle?

Never. I’m not a child.

4. What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep? Toss and Turn? Try to get up and do something productive?

I’ve always had trouble sleeping. That’s not entirely accurate. It’s getting to sleep in the first place that’s the problem, ever since I was a young child, and it’s never gone away. When I was older I used to leave the house and walk around the streets and town at night and enjoy the peace. There’s something about lying down and not being able to sleep which causes dark and troubling thoughts to well up inside and envelop you, but walking around seems to free my mind and push that crap away. My mattress is uncomfortable at the moment so I get sore if I stay away for too long. My wife is usually asleep within 1 minute of turning her lamp off, which is something I cannot fathom. I’ll be tired all day, but as soon as it hits 10pm, become startlingly awake. Nowadays I can’t really get up, because I’ll wake everyone else and the cat will want fed. I just force myself to sleep, but try to read or watch something till I can’t keep my eyes open – doesn’t always work because I want to keep reading/watching.

5. How many days could you last in solitary confinement? How would you do it?

Are you kidding. When I was younger, this was my dream. My ideal world had no-one else in it. Or maybe a handful of people I liked. Of course now I have my own family. I could happily be with them and never see anyone else. Before them, I could easily go indefinitely without speaking to or seeing another human. I go out of my way to avoid most people in person – not because I don’t like them, or I’m shy, or awkward or anything, more because I prefer it that way and I like to do my own stuff without being interrupted. So in this fantasy scenario, if I was placed in solitary confinement I would probably thrive and create a cure for, I don’t know, world hunger or Aids or reality television.

6. Do you save old greeting cards and letters? Throw them away?

I used to, but now I don’t care as much. I keep some which mean something to me. I’m 35 at the time of writing, so I left school 17 years ago. School crushes and funny shit from then… I keep a few of those cards. I used to physically write out text messages and emails from those days. Cards now, like Christmas and Birthdays etc. I’d rather people didn’t waste the paper and money. I keep the Birthday cards my kids get, some day they might want to see them again.

7. Who is the biggest pack rat you know?

I have absolutely no idea what this means. What is a pack rat? Is this a political thing or something about someone you don’t like?

8. When making an entrance in to a party, do you make your presence known? Do you slip in and look for someone you know? Do you sneak in quietly and find a safe spot to roost?

These are very American questions. This is Northern Ireland (bitch), we don’t do parties. These questions are very much catered towards the cutesy little creative wallflower so that they can tell us all how precious and offbeat they are. Having said that, I’ve never been big on social gatherings, again because I’d rather do my own thing. I don’t have much interest in meeting new people or doing whatever people are supposed to do. I’d much rather be in the pub or house with people I already like. I’d need to go back to University for examples of me turning up at what this question refers to. I have a thing about never being late, so I’m usually there early or exactly on time. I wouldn’t be going to a party if I didn’t know someone there. There is no sneaking or looking for safe spots. I go in. I drink. I talk. I sleep on the floor. I go home the next day. Sometimes there are shrooms and scarecrows.

9. What is your strongest sense? If you had to give one up, which would it be?

Assuming you’re talking about the big five, not my sense that a ninja could be about to attack at any moment? I wear glasses because I’m short-sighted, but I’m really good at seeing things which people miss. Like, I’ll be the first to find a cat in a crowded street, or I notice little things or details which others miss. I do have very good hearing though. For example, we’ll be watching TV at night with the doors closed, maybe people are talking, and I’ll know someone is coming to the door because I’ll hear a car door closing at the bottom of the drive. This is a great trick and people are frequently, genuinely amazed by it. Can’t give up hearing or sight or touch… though being able to live without physical pain would be great. Taste I could live without I guess, but it’s got to be smell. People say it’s the best sense for memory, but that’s complete balls. You know what the best sense for memories is? Remembering.

10. How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror?

Almost never. I should shave every day, but I usually do it once a week. So I check then. I brush my teeth away from the bathroom, I never do anything to my hair, I don’t wear make-up, I wear whatever is lying on the floor. I have absolutely no reason to look in the mirror.

That should do for now. Feel free to answer these questions yourself and slap them in the comments. Now you know me a little more, hopefully I haven’t scared anyone off. I know I come across as a dick when answering these things, but really, you’d love me if you met me.

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the defintion into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attentino to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

 

My Blog – January 2019

People love crap like this, right?
People love crap like this, right?

And now for something completely different. I usually don’t do these sorts of self-promotional things, if that’s what this is. I don’t go out of my way to share on Twitter or Facebook or try to advertise what I write here (though I do sometimes share links to the fan pages I’m on), mainly because it’s for me and also I like the idea of people just randomly stumbling upon the blog and liking it. I don’t want to be the centre of, or even the outskirts of attention, but I’m not some clammed up introvert either who falls to pieces when someone looks at me. I do think a lot of what I write is more interesting (and dare I say better) than many of the blogs out there who do similar stuff – in fact, I’ve unfollowed a few movie review blogs for being little more than a synopsis of the film, a couple of lines about personal feelings, a final score, and wondering how they have followers in the high hundreds or even thousands.

But that’s fine – this isn’t jealousy or a cry for attention. If you happen to come here, great. If you happen to come back, that’s fantastic and I am truly thankful for those of you who stop by regularly or comment or like whatever I post. I do believe that all art is selfish and while no blog could ever be considered art, you get what I mean. If you have your own blog – write it for yourself first. If you’re after money or likes or clicks or whatever, that stuff should be secondary, not the main goal of putting finger to keyboard, and you’re probably someone I’m not going to be interested in. Would I like more people to follow me, and comment on my posts? Of course. I’m not so far up my own ass that I’m going to turn people away and pretend that I don’t like compliments – everyone does. I’d love for this place to be more of a community and have more people waiting with baited breath for my next life-changing post… but then I’d probably have to put in more effort. That’s the thing with me – at least when it comes to this blog – I write whatever comes into my head in the moment, and post it. I rarely plan, I almost never rewrite, but I do write posts months in advance, then come back and add a screenshot or run spell-check, and then post. A lot of the blogs I follow – it’s obvious you guys but a lot more effort in to make your writing more engaging, more eloquent, and bursting to the rafters with more metaphors than a drunken Irishman. The irony being that I am a drunken Irishman and don’t care.

The point of it all. If you’re a regular visitor – one of my beloved Glancers – then you know the score. If you’re new here, then you probably stumble around the home page looking for something interesting before checking out the About page. If you’re a bot or if you stumbled here looking for big breasted Japanese women then may I hand you over to one of the internet’s many more specialized sites? For everyone, new or just passing through, I’m going to try to post something like this once a month – not as rambling and needless as this – but just a recap of what I do on the blog. Maybe I’ll give some info of what has been happening in my life or a preview of upcoming attractions. For example – I went for a promotion recently, didn’t get it, and now I have to train the person who did get it. Ain’t that a slap in the nuts?

For now I’m going to give a semi-exhaustive list of the various categories I write about. Feel free to click around the site. Feel free to share my blog. Tell your mother. Tell your dog! Everyone is welcome, and there’s bound to be something for everyone. A lot of the info below is copied and pasted from my About Page, but if I post this once a month it’ll be easy to see for whoever miraculously materializes here.

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the defintion into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attentino to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

That’s that. Congrats if you got through it. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see me write about, or if there are any ideas concerning blogging or life you’d be interested in hearing my thoughts on!

Still Walking

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Like many others, I am an Otaku horror nerd; I love everything horror, and I love everything Japan, and have for as long as I can remember. Between bouts of decapitation and and viscera I like to slow things, and if there is a people who know a thing or two about slow paced dramas, it’s the Japanese. Still Walking, even in its title, suggests a leisurely pace and features all of the poignant, emotive, and thought-provoking moments I look for to cleanse myself of the darkness which I have bore witness to.

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, one of Japan’s most famous and respected directors of his generation, Still Walking is a ruminating drama on family, aging, life, and death. The story is set almost entirely in a single house over the course of roughly 24 hours as three generations of a family meet to commemorate the death of one of their own, fifteen years earlier. I was expecting the film to center on one character or specific set, but Koreeda avoids this and instead shows how each person present has coped over the time since the death and how their lives have been changed.

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The parents of the son who died are symbolic of how Westerners would view some elements of Japanese society – they don’t show their emotions often and instead prefer to withdraw from discussions about grief and possible arguments. It is particularly the father, played by Yoshio Harada, who clearly harbors ill feelings and guilt but cannot vocalize them while his wife (Kirin Kiki) seems more keen to remember the good times. Their remaining son (Hiroshi Abe) has unresolved feelings of anger as he feels he has always been rated second best versus the brother, both when he was alive and even more now he is dead – he didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and become a local doctor. He dreads attending these events as he doesn’t want to be there and feels his parents resent the fact that he lived when his brother died – and the drama is increased by the fact that he has married a widow (who has her own son). Naturally, this causes tension for the mother and father. On the flip side we have the sister (played by You – Ehika Yukiko and her extraordinary voice) and her husband and children who offer a comedic and neutral ground. Throughout all this the metaphor of walking and progression is prevalent – the father always walks round the town every day, even though he is getting slower and more reluctant, the mother always takes the long and brutally steep walk to her son’s grave, and the other characters continue to carry and cope with their respective burdens – what else can you do?

This isn’t the easiest film to review as I can either give more paragraphs outlining plot, yet there isn’t much to say of the plot aside from what is given above. The performances all feel genuine and the direction veers between claustrophobic and freeing when necessary – we get both interior and exterior shots of the cramped conditions the family live and talk in, and there is a visual and tonal difference between the conversations about the negative and harsh stuff versus those more pleasant, happy, or sad memories – the tense speeches usually in a car or a cramped room, and escaping or resolving those by stepping out into the world. The film doesn’t sound exciting on paper, but it does weave an unusual spell over the viewer – perhaps it’s because all of us have encountered feelings or situations like this in the past, or on a regular basis, perhaps it’s a combination of the performances, Koreeda’s skill, and how lovely the film looks. If you are familiar with the director’s work or have been looking for a place to start, if you are at all interested in Japanese film or culture, or if you simply want a break from action, gore, convoluted plots, and gritty blockbusters, give Still Walking a chance.

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Have you seen Still Walking – how does it rate alongside Koreeda’s other work? Let us know in the comments!

Top 10 Tuesdays – Sad TV and Movie Themes

Warning – if you don’t want to cry today, turn away now.

You all know the sound
You all know the sound

Indulge me. Grief is the great equalizer; Everyone will experience it, and all of us will hate it. We are all born, and we all die. Years from now everyone who ever knew your name will be dust, forgotten and unspoken. Yet, if we all realized the absurdity of the needless causes of grief – murder, war, hatred, then grief itself would recoil and become less of a leather-winged, human-condition encompassing wound, and instead be a mere arbitrary necessity. When we hurt, others hurt. When we kill, we kill ourselves. If we can truly empathize, then we will learn to avoid all causes of grief. If we all knew sadness every day, then there would be no more pain; if we were all depressed, maybe then we’d all be happy.

Nothing makes me so overwhelmingly sad as hearing music which evokes memories both beautiful, happy, and tragic. As much as I love listening to songs, writing songs, it’s always instrumental music from TV and movies which destroy me the most. I have deeply rooted issues with the passing of time, with not doing the things I used to do, and most importantly not being with the people I used to be with, as I suspect many of you reading this do. Listening to any of the pieces below (and many more besides) is always a heartbreaking experience for me, but it’s also cathartic – sometimes we need to scream and hurt or curl up in a ball. So, just for a change from my usual silly posts and ‘comedy-based’ musings, here are some pieces of music which are extremely important in my life, and which also happen to be some of the most beautiful, touching pieces I have ever heard – I may do a second list some time because there are so many. One final note – there will be SPOILERS below so if you haven’t completed and of the films or shows listed below, you may want to skip those entries.

Departures

Departures2008

I got the list down to twelve, but I couldn’t get it any lower than eleven, so here we are. Departures won the Oscar for best Foreign Film at the 2009 Academy Awards, but didn’t pick up a nomination for Best Music. Composer/God Joe Hisaishi creates a stunning soundtrack based heavily around the cello (which is an important instrument within the story), with several recurring motifs that recall several fragile moments from the film – love, grief, aging, guilt, loss are all covered in the story, and while the music evokes similar feelings it veers towards a more hopeful tone.The twinkling pianos, the swell of strings, and the lonesome cello in tracks such as Goodbye Cello, Shine Of Snow 1 and 2, and in the best example Beautiful Dead 1 and 2 tend to make me feel warm inside, but when watched alongside the movie never fail to cause tears to well up. Like most, if not all of the pieces on this list, they work perfectly as wonderful standalone pieces, but are all the more powerful if you’ve seen the movie/show. Here’s a link to Beautiful Dead 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TCpeGf3U58&index=10&list=PL93A4C925ACB5984C

Airwolf

People forget what a poignant show (and movie) Airwolf was. Lumped in with other successful action shows of the 80s such as Knightrider, The A-Team, Streethawk, etc it by far had the most heart and depth of storytelling. It’s a show about a man who believes that everyone he ever gets close too emotionally will die, and the series seems to suggest it’s all true – his parents died when he was young, his first real girlfriend died in a car crash, and then he lost his brother in Vietnam (MIA). The movie shows Stringfellow as a tragic figure, capable only of distancing himself from people and sometimes serenading the local wildlife from his cabin in the middle of nowhere, but when he falls for Gabrielle we know it isn’t going to end well. Sylvester Levay wrote the kick-ass theme music we all know, but he also created Gabrielle’s Theme, a piece so sad that it doesn’t even need us to remember her final scenes and death. It’s a piece that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever lost someone they love – it’s incredibly simple, short, and while many will balk at the synth original, if you can find yourself an orchestral version you’ll spend the rest of the day looking for hugs. Here’s a decent version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm1npa_2DhI 

The Simpsons

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Jesus, just reading the comments on the YouTube videos for this post is hurting me. A few of you may be thinking ‘when was The Simpsons ever emotional, but any hardcore fans will know the piece of music I’m about to talk about – one so tender and simple and fitting to the episode it ends. I have a looping of this track on as I write, but I have to keep stopping to think, remember, or wipe away a tear. It’s the specially written end credits for the episode Mother Simpson where Homer finally gets his mother back, only to lose her again. The episode explains much of Homer’s childlike character, and that final shot of him sitting on his car watching the stars while this music plays is one of the all time great Simpsons moments – it’s all the more tragic now that the show has become so butchered over the last decade and more that moments like this are forgotten. If the show had ended here, it would have gone down in history as one of the finest Television endings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6su0Jgwhb4

James Bond

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I’ll cheat a little here and include a few entries from a few films. I’ve always maintained (I may be the only one) that 007 is a tragic figure, not the misogynist killer, womanizing sociopath many think he is. There are a few moments throughout the Bond canon which highlight the fact that he wants to quit, to put it all away and think about himself and the person he loves, but the nature of his work and life will never allow him any stability or lasting relationship. My favourite Bond films feature these moments – For Your Eyes Only, Goldeneye, You Only Live Twice, Casino Royale to name a few. In Goldeneye we see this revelation quite clearly, with Eric Serra’s aptly named That’s What Keeps You Alone – named after Natalya’s response to James’s stoic ‘That’s what keeps me alive’. For a film that has a lot of metallic and industrial sounds in its soundtrack, this piece is a standout, shocking in its richness. Haunting in its honesty rather than any sentimental soaring of strings, it’s a brilliant, thought-provoking piece never far from my mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebtj1hjFoYI&list=PLBYN0G9h_13HeGW1sFbrc2mvDMzdyZjQF&index=12 (nerd bonus – I always used to listen to this in tandem with the Resident Evil 2 game end credits theme as they felt very similar to me)

Perhaps even more obvious from a tragic standpoint is Casino Royale, which sees Bond lose someone he cares deeply about, like he did previously in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. David Arnold gives us old school Bond tones with a harder 21st Century edge, offsetting the melodic mystery of tracks like Solange with the painful piano and string hooks of Vesper and of course Death Of Vesper. This one doesn’t give me as many real life feels as others in this post, but it brings me back immediately to Vesper’s sacrifice and Bond yet again covering up his pain. When contrasted with the gorgeous City Of Lovers, those softer moments are brutal – such potential, hope, and love, crushed in a few inevitable moments. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upamEEDq2XM&list=PLIVs6sKfvkuQP6znMZFux3OF2g2gtRuix&index=14

My final Bond track is from Tomorrow Never Dies – not a film which is remembered for being all that sad, but Teri Hatcher’s character is another who pays the ultimate price for getting too close to the man we’re all supposed to want to be. The Last Goodbye, but particularly the swell in Paris And Bond (by David Arnold again) are both effectively tearjerking pieces which remind us of our own painful memories. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_s4S6ynvcg&index=5&list=PL3CD06F1ABB7B659C

The Stand

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King’s opus is probably my favourite book and adaptation, packed with characters you will fall in love with and whose deaths will leave a hole which will never be filled. WG Snuffy Walden’s guitar-laden, folksy, all American soundtrack is superb from start to finish, with perfect journey music – many of the tracks instantly fill my head if I am heading out for a walk when there is no-one else around, when the streets are empty. There’s that sense of swinging a bag over your shoulder and lighting out, of not looking back, but never forgetting. Moreover, we know the road ahead will be nigh-on impossible, that we, all of us as individuals, as a species, are ill-equipped to deal with what we are dealt, that there will be unforgivable, unimaginable anguish, grief upon grief, and joy so unspeakable that words become absurd – there will be a future we don’t want, we know that, but when it comes we do not give up, we do not break, we overcome, and we stand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCYb3lX9g4g&list=PLAsfPvIbzO_sKDnDkI13NG9Zxg7dG-COD&index=12

Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks to me has always been a show based on horror, featuring some of the most frightening and upsetting scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Much of the show is rooted in comedy and in ironically twisting the over the top sentimentality of the TV soaps of the time, but in the real moments of sadness there is frustration, sadness, anger, fear, and perhaps most of all, confusion and detachment – two feelings that most people who have not been near death for a while, or ever, overlook. When someone dies, or even when someone leaves, our actions and the actions of those around us seem bizarre and alien, ghostly and purposeless. In these moments it is utterly impossible for the person suffering, or those on the sidelines to understand the loss, because none of us truly understand mortality. Badalamenti’s jazzy score is dreamlike, airy, slow, and soft and while it pulls at the heartstrings as well as any weepie, it is the understanding of the confusion – the understanding that we cannot grasp what has happened, that makes it stand out. There is a void, a literal, sickening void, and we can do nothing about it aside from skirt the rim and vaguely feel aware that the abyss beyond is somewhere we should not be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQg5WUhMP90&list=PL413F2BBFBCDD6C43&index=2

Conan The Barbarian

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If you know me via this blog, or if you know me in reality (whatever that is) then you must be aware of my love for both Arnie, and for Conan, more specifically the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack which is so obviously the greatest movie soundtrack ever made that any argument otherwise is akin to arguing with a bullet. While Poledouris fills every scene with bombastic, thunderous epicness, he creates a number of more emotional tracks, from Funeral Pyre to The Leaving to Orphans Of Doom. I think the most impactful for me, from a darker place, is Wifeing – even though it’s the love theme of the movie, it is rent with doom and blackened with inevitability. When we all finally give ourselves up to the dust, and when Crom decides he is finished with us, it would be the utmost reward to have a piece such as this played to our memory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMxamoHkAbY&list=PL6559658E698E288D&index=15

T1/T2

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Inevitable, eh? Brad Fiedel’s score for both T1 and T2 are distinct from other movies of their period, and from each other, though both stem from an industrial, darkly technological place. While we all know and love the main themes, which deserve to top any movie music list. Instead, I’m going to pick two other pieces, a piano track from The Terminator which is arguably the track which set me out on this path at an early age, and the intro from T2, the true intro. Yes yes yes, the piano track is basically the main theme readjusted for piano, and yes yes yes it’s a sex scene, but it’s essentially the reason for the story existing – a love story and a story of survival, survival of a couple who barely know each other but are already deeply in love, and the survival of our species. The way the track, and the scene start out, with Reese admitting his feelings (a struggle for a man who only knows pain and death), the realisation that he travelled through time to be with Sarah, and the soft, single piano notes slowing morphing, liquid metal like into melodies, until Sarah joins Reese by the window as the familiar theme comes into view and they tumble into pain. Sometimes I think I’ve never heard a more perfect piece of music, especially when played to that scene. It hurts every single time I hear it, and my love of it only grows. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaUomynGeao&list=PL5C555376D7A573AD&index=13

My pick from T2 is difficult to describe and difficult to find as it doesn’t appear on the movie soundtrack. In the link below it starts at around 23 seconds. When I say it’s the intro scene, people will likely think of Sarah’s monologue over the future war scene, before the glorious, fire-scorched title sequence begins (God, even typing that makes me want to scream ‘T2 is the best film ever’ and watch it again). That’s not what I’m talking about – before that, the very first scene, of traffic heading in and out of LA, and kids playing on swings – it’s roughly 30 seconds long, and the music takes up slightly less than that. The music is basically six notes, and can barely be called music, but it is awesome – I must have listened to it hundreds of times, and watched those 30 seconds over and over, to the point that I often see those cars when I close my eyes. It seems like a throwaway scene, but to me it conveys a billion feelings – one of which is the loss of civilization and humanity. There’s something more otherworldly about those cars than there is in the juxtaposed image of a skeleton sitting in a nuked shell of a car which comes moments later. The message is obvious, showing the before and after effects of war, but it may be the most poignant example of this ever filmed, and those dreadful, plodding six notes, are so dark and bleak that Fiedel and Cameron seem to be saying that there’s no hope for us. Obviously the rest of the film is one big hope-fest, but that opening minute or so it absolutely crushing to me. When that scene eventually merges with the title sequence, I get shivers every time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4hY9BdG6SA

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The Incredible Hulk

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No list such as this would be complete without The Lonely Man by Joe Harnell, possibly the SADDEST piece of music ever written. Now, I’ve loved this theme my whole life, long before Family Guy ripped the arse out of it. The original Hulk series and the accompanying movies with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno were a massive part of my childhood, and I already have my girls watching them (they may call it ‘Greenboy’ instead of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ but they get it). Hulk will always be David Banner to me, and Banner will always be Bixby. This piece is so haunting and soul-rending that only a crab would fail to tear-up while listening to it. It’s all the more effective now, knowing about Bixby’s life and feeding your own experiences into the notes; it isn’t just about a man who can never possibly fit in, and will never be able to love or escape his demon, but it’s about all of us, the roads we travel, and the people we must leave behind whether we choose to or not.

Lost

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Shannon. Boone. Ana Lucia. Charlie. Locke. Rousseau. Alex. Michael. Daniel. Juliet. Sayid. Sun. Jin. Jack. Repeat those names while listening to Life And Death by Michael Giacchino. Remember what they did, the good and the bad. Remember the smiles they gave each other and the ones you unashamedly gave in response. Replace those names with the friends and family you lost. Never forget. This track, and its variations are all extremely evocative for those who watched the show from start to finish, but as a standalone piece of music it blends all of the feelings and responses we endure from the point of life slipping away, through all of the memories and the shock, and finally into the acceptance and acquiescence where the pain is never dulled but where we may learn to smile on occasion rather than hollow ourselves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twHXrNtG-7c

Buffy

Throughout his run on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Christophe Beck wove some spectacular music to chart the battlefield of adolescence and the tribulations of adulthood. Each episode is packed with music, incidental and otherwise, and while most of the music showcases and enhances the comedic and action scenes, it is his reflective and emotional creations which do the most damage. In Season 2, the Buffy and Angel love theme would pop up infrequently during a particularly romantic moment, always sounding haunting and in hindsight so gut-churning that it’s a wonder none of us knew at that point that so much would end in heartache. Once it gets the full rendition as Close Your Eyes in the Season Finale, anyone who isn’t a quivering mess on the floor must have fallen asleep during I, Robot…You, Jane and never emerged again. But before we get there, lets recall some of the other tracks which I listen to at least once a week as a punishment and cleansing. Waking Willow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rhg8WOy3Csalso appears in the Season 2 Finale (possibly the greatest two-parter in TV history) and is strong enough on its own to be the main tearjerker theme for any series with its lilting piano seguing into string middle. Move immediately from that to Remembering Jenny (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NjXEDyzFskand I lose all power to type until the track has ended. It’s such a simple piece, made all the better (worse?) by the fact that Anthony Head provides the male vocals. It’s the sound of a funeral, the funeral of a life stolen, with all the bitterness and hopelessness one would assume to find. I’ve always said that, had Buffy ended at The Gift then it would have been a perfect, apt place to finish. Then again I’ve said the same about Graduation Day. Sacrifice (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMktTe3VlE0), which sees the return of Christophe Beck, closes the final episode of Season 5 (again I’ve listened to it twice already while trying to type this) is a flawless piece of music and another flawless example of how music can mirror and enhance what is happening on-screen as Buffy gives a final speech, hugs her sister goodbye, and leaps to her death to save the world.

But back to Season 2’s Close Your Eyes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5C92qy7mX8). My words to describe my feelings for this are futile. Is it the best piece of instrumental music I’ve ever heard? Probably. Does it reduce me to tears at the slightest provocation? Yes. It will always kill me and I’ll always come back for more. All of the many dark moments in this silly thing we call entertainment I recall with this track in my mind, and many of dark moments I’ve experienced in reality are sombered (unborn words are the best), purified, increased, and beaten back by it. It’s a piece that deserves to be heard by millions more than those who know it, but it is of course best experienced by watching Buffy to get the full impact.

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Let us know in the comments below which pieces of instrumental music break your heart, and which tracks have brought you through tough times. Remember folks, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.

The Boss Of It All

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With his latest film(review originally written a few years ago), Lars Von Trier shows us his lighter side albeit with his trademark weirdness and use of new directorial techniques. The Boss Of It All is the story of a man in a situation he has little or no grasp of, and the fun lies in how he handles himself when surrounding by unusual problems. Although, this being Von Trier, there is more going on than such a basic plot- The director himself interrupts the story at several points, giving the film the feeling of a ‘play within a play’. He is running the show for us, while the characters of Ravn and Svend try to run the show (in a dramatic and theatrical way) for their employees. To distance us further from a film with an everyday, realistic setting, Von trier makes sure every character is slightly unhinged (though endearing)and uses a camera technique known as Automavision. This (explained more fully on the DVD) is a technique whereby a camera is placed, a button on a computer is clicked, and the camera will pan, move, and zoom randomly within a shot, without the director having any influence. Some may say this is gimmicky, even lazy- taking away the director’s skill, but it adds to the absurdity the film- characters talking off screen, suddenly cuts and movements, and the camera framing only part of someone’s body. These restrictions are frequent in his work, and throughout the film there are self-referential moments- one character mentions live being like a Dogma film.

Ravn is the owner of a small, succesful IT company in Denmark. He is greedy though, and wants to sell to an Icelandic buyer and at the same time make sure that he gets all the credit and earnings from his employees’ work over the years. However, none of his co-workers know that he is the owner, and in order for the deal to take place, there must be an owner. He hires his friend Svend, a failed actor and lover of the mysterious Gambini to play the role of The Boss Of It All who after years of absence has decided to show his face. So far, so Shakespeare. Svend has no idea about IT, management, or indeed what his character is like or is supposed to have said or done in the past. This causes most of the laughs in the film. Little goes according to plan, and soon Svend grows to like his workers and doesn’t want to see them exploited.

The film has many zany and ironic moments, mostly to do with the work-place. Buzz-words are thrown about in such a way to show how silly they are (I am only too aware of 80-20 syndrome). Team meetings are shown as almost worthless, workers get screwed over repeatedly, and above it all is a Boss who just wants to be Your Friend- a big, cuddly bear, though he has done nothing to deserve it. Each of the characters is acted to perfection, and they all have their amusing quirks- from Mr ‘Autumn is muggy’ to Mrs ‘Scream when the photocopier starts’. They are all likeable, and for a comedy of this nature that is important. By the end of the film, with it’s slightly unexpected ending, Von Trier gives a little summary of the two ways we may feel when it is over; he was right.

The DVD contains a brief interview section, notes on Automavision, a gallery, and an interesting short film. For fans of European cinema, or offbeat comedies, this is sure to please. Von Trier fans may be split- it is not as dark or controversial as some previous films which people may or may not be happy about- but it is definately more accessible than some other efforts. If that means he finds a wider audience, then it can only be good.