Ranking Drones – Muse

Drones: Amazon.co.uk: Music

By the time Drones came along I had mostly stopped caring about Muse. I still bought it on day one, but I probably waited a few weeks before listening to it, and maybe only listened to it twice in that first year. Part of that is down to how I consume music. I’m still a CD guy when it comes to buying, and I very rarely use stuff like Spotify for new music. I used to convert my CDs to play on Ipod, but by 2015 I’d slowed down on this nonsense too. Plus I’m old, and I struggle to care as much about music unless it has some immediacy for me at a melodic, emotional, or conceptual level. Drones didn’t appeal to me on any of these levels, it didn’t jump out at me screaming to be heard; it cowered in the corner shouting military slogans. Having survived a stint in the military in my youth, such things are ridiculous to me. It’s also a case of having heard the same riffs, the same approach to music and melody, and the same type of songs done better before, plus the band and their thematic content somehow seemed more juvenile and adolescent than ever. There are still a few decent tunes in there – it’s still Muse for Bellamy’s sake – so of course they’re not suddenly shit, but as a whole due to where I was and the overall samey nature of the thing, it comes across as distinctly average.

  1. Revolt.
  2. Mercy.
  3. Aftermath.
  4. Reapers.
  5. The Globalist.
  6. Dead Inside.
  7. Psycho.
  8. The Handler.
  9. Drones
  10. Defector.
  11. JFK.
  12. Drill Sergeant

Let us know what you think of Drones in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Top 17 Movies Of 1993!

17: Falling Down (US/France/UK) Joel Schumacher

Schumacher continued the 80s success of the likes of The Lost Boys and St Elmo’s Fire into the 90s, with Falling Down probably his best film of the decade. It reinvented Michael Douglas, casting him as a classic anti-hero and the sort of bloke we have all wished we would like to be at some point. Maybe that’s a tad too far, but which of us have not wanted to just say ‘fuck it’ and go on a rampage around the city? Schumacher nails the atmosphere of sweaty 90s LA, a boiling pot of race, pressure, and violence, and manages to make the film action packed, violent, funny, and smart all at once.

16: Mrs Doubtfire (US) Chris Columbus

It’s a family film with its fair share of risque humour thanks to a tour de force performance from Robin Williams. Not all of the jokes land, as it always the case when Williams was given free reign, but when there are so many and when they are delivered with such pace, you barely notice. It’s also another charming watch and kids and older members will find plenty to enjoy.

15: Schindler’s List (US) Steven Spielberg

A contender for the finest war movie ever made, and for the best movie of the decade, Schindler’s List is obviously an exhausting, difficult, but important watch. There are two must watches for everyone on my list today – both are by Spielberg, and this is one of them.

14: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (US) Lasse Hallstrom

Johnny Depp’s star was on the rise, and this was another notch on his bedpost. Lasse Hallstrom was looking for a US hit while Juliette Lewis was another hot property. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was not the sort of film which was ever going to be a hit, but even before it took on a cult status it was clear to any viewer that it was a powerful and humble and perfectly well made and well acted drama. Naturally it was the film which broke DiCaprio, his film stealing performance earning an Oscar nomination. People have maybe forgotten this one now, but with the star power involved its a hidden gem which will continue to be discovered.

13: Cliffhanger (US/France/Italy) Renny Harlin

Arnie had exploded into the new decade making sure that the 80s action hero still had a place in the new, more self aware era. His 90s exploits had not been successful so he found a new action vehicle with up and coming director Renny Harlin. It’s basically Die Hard on a mountain, but it has plenty of action, plenty of violence, a classic batch of hammy villains, and lots of one-liners – in short, everything you want in an action movie, with the added bonus of great scenery and spectacle.

12: Benny And Joon (US) Jeremiah S Chechik

Another offbeat character for Depp to tackle, this is the less mainstream version of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? It’s one of a select few romances or Rom Coms that I hold dear, and another film for people who have maybe forgotten what a great actor Depp is should check out.

11: Dazed And Confused (US) Richard Linklater

Linklater always makes watchable movies, regardless of genre, but his best movies are those which feel like a group of best mates hanging out – with Dazed And Confused being the prime example. Like the movie itself, you can stick it on and just chill. The various characters, the various groups all somehow feel like personal friends and Linklater has a way of making you feel like part of the gang, even as a guy from Northern Ireland who wasn’t alive in the time period predicted. You don’t even need the performances to be good – they are – but you do need the soundtrack and the setting to echo the vibe – it does.

10: The Vanishing (US) George Sluizer

Frequently named as one of the, if not worst, but least most unnecessary and least interesting remakes of all time, The Vanishing still remains for me a gripping and eerie watch. Sure, it’s not as powerful as the original but I saw this one first and those first impressions are hard to shake. Remember, this is a favourites list, not what I think is the best. What I still love about this remake is the cast – Bridges, Sutherland, Bullock, and Travis are all committed and Sluzier does a great job of maintaining the mystery and tension of the original. While the ending is a prime example of Americanisation, I don’t necessarily mind. Sure it would have been cool if they’d shot alternative endings or went with something similar to the original, but the original is still there to enjoy in all its bleak glory.

9: Carlito’s Way (US) Brian De Palma

Carlito’s Way is one of those latter day Mafia movies which was still flying the flag for the sort of violent stylized thriller which would become out of vogue once Pulp Fiction came along. It’s not as good as Goodfellas, and not as memorable as Scarface, but it’s just as engaging with the benefit of being more underseen – get ahead of your mates and stick this one on your movie night list once Lockdown is over and enjoy Pacino, Sean Penn and Leguizamo, acting to Eleven while De Palma cranks up the tension.

8: The Nightmare Before Christmas (US) Henry Selick

I’ve spoken about this movie plenty of times on other lists on this site; it’s great.

7: A Perfect World (US) Clint Eastwood

Clint had been directing for about 80 years by the time he made A Perfect World, and had been acting for roughly 300 years on top of that. His follow up to the universally acclaimed Unforgiven is a light crime drama which I prefer to his masterful Western. I’ve always suspected the light tone came from Kevin Costner’s involvement and that another actor may have brought a more cynical vibe, but Costner and Eastwood were a perfect match and foil for one another, and created one of the least seen finest movies of the 90s. Assuming most reading this list may not be familiar with this movie – it follows two escaped convicts in early 60s Texas who pick up a hostage in the form of a young Jehovah’s Witness boy completely innocent of the ways of the world. What begins is a road movie mixed with coming of age mixed with buddy comedy mixed with violent thriller as Costner learns responsibility from the boy and the boy learns right and wrong from the criminal, all while Texas Ranger Eastwood and criminologist Laura Dern chase them down. It’s an incredibly, unforgivingly (ha) underrated film with a terrific cast, nuanced, funny, touching, and never bogged down by its 2 hour plus running time.

6: Demolition Man (US) Marco Brambilla

I’ve spoken plenty about this one on the blog before – it features in my Top Ten Stallone movies.

5: Last Action Hero (US) John McTiernan

I’ve spoken plenty about this one on the blog before – it features in my Top Ten Arnie movies.

4: Body Snatchers (US) Abel Ferrara

It gets undue hate for not being as good as the 70s or 50s version. Don’t sleep on it. It’s in my favourite movies of the decade list… I think. If it’s not, it’s fantastically grim vision of the famous story with a more claustrophobic setting.

3: True Romance (US) Tony Scott

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

2: Tombstone (US) George P Cosmatos

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

1: Jurassic Park (US) Steven Spielberg

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1994!

Greetings, Glancers! As you’ll have seen in my other 1994 post, this was one of my favourite years for Cinema with maybe more personal favourites than any other year. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a steaming pile of turds as well. Hold your nose, and dive in below.

Ashes Of Time

Wong Kar Wai is a director of phenomenal visual talent. Nevertheless, I do find his movies can be hit and miss in terms of character and storytelling – but sometimes his films use characters and story as a mere backdrop for metaphor and suggestion. Ashes Of Time is a mesmerising and bewildering affair – frequently gorgeous, but ultimately dull. The Redux version is a little more fluid, but the shorter running time still feels like a slog. It’s not surprising that Wong Kar Wai would make a Wuxia film with very little action, so if you’re coming to this expecting Crouching Tiger you’re likely to be disappointed and more than a little confused when instead you get Solaris with swords. The story follows a nomadic swordsman who interacts with various characters in separate yet intertwining chapters, as he works through love, loss, and longing. I think.

Baby’s Day Out

It is what it is. I’m sure kids at the time got a kick out of the antics of a baby being chased around New York by hapless criminals, and I’ve no doubt this would work well as an animation with a decent script, but as it stands it’s a bit of a mess.

Beverly Hills Cop III

I was never the biggest Beverly Hills Cop fan in the world, but the first two movies are classic 80s Action comedies. It’s rare that the third entry in a franchise is good, and it’s even more rare when there has been a significant gap between the second and third. It’s disappointing because there’s a good cast with (some) returning faces, it’s directed by John Landis, and it’s set in an amusement park – all things I approve of. Each of these normally positive attributes is spun into a negative – Murphy seems disinterested, Judge Reinhold is too old to be pulling the same shtick, Landis was on a major downturn in quality, and the setting isn’t used in any sort of interesting way. It’s simply not as funny or energetic as the others and the low stakes of the story mean we don’t care about any of it.

The Flintstones

I was never a huge fan of the show, but it was one of those ‘well there’s nothing else on TV on Sunday morning and I refuse to get out of bed yet’ cartoons so I still watched it. To the film’s credit, it kind of nails the look and the cast, but it also looks very cheap and some of the casting choices are miserable. I could see a bigger budget remake of this doing well now, just make sure the cast are all good fits rather than the 80% on show here. Obviously the story needs to be interesting and there needs to be jokes – both lacking in the 90s version.

Four Weddings And A Funeral

The bastard which started it all. After this the world was crying out for soppy British Rom Coms and Hugh Grants. It fares better than much of what followed in its wake and it does have a collection of British stars who deserve recognition for performances elsewhere. But it’s very dull, very foppish, hits all the quirky notes which nauseate my mind, body, and soul, and like all Rom Coms no matter how you dress it up they all end up in the same spot. I’d like just for once for the Rom Com to end in a shocking, completely random tragedy with no resolution or happy ending – just boom – wtf – end credits.

Junior

Another one of Arnie’s experiments at branching out from just punching heads off and exploding shit. Which is fine, some of those were good. Increasingly though you now look back at Arnie’s mid 90s output and think ‘man, you were still in peak physical condition, why didn’t you make another action movie’. Lets not forget – T2, Total Recall, True Lies, Last Action Hero, even End Of Days were all ostensibly action movies but which elevated the genre and did something different. Eraser and The Sixth Day tried but were not very good. An average Arnie action movie is still better than whatever bollocks this is, a diluted comedy free from the laughs of Kindergarten Cop and the charm of Twins, with added romance. It’s watchable, as Arnie always is, and there’s great cast support, but there’s nothing memorable, no laughs, no one-liners, nothing exciting or funny – the one joke (man gets pregnant) could have worked with any actor. Arnie could have made one more great action movie in that period – a true Expendables, King Conan, his version of I Am Legend. Sigh.

Muriel’s Wedding

It’s Australian Four Weddings. But somehow even more for women.

Mission To Moscow

I’ll defend the Police Academy series to the death. Even number 5 which didn’t know how to recover from Guttenberg leaving the series, and 6 which wasn’t very good. Mission To Moscow is basically unforgivable. There’s another fake Mahoney, most of the cast has buggered off, and it’s extremely cartoonish. Rather than being a series of loosely connected vignettes highlighting the ridiculous characters, this one somehow tries to focus more on plot, but forgets to make the plot interesting or coherent. There aren’t really any laughs – I mean, I’ll laugh watching Lassard do anything, even if that is him trying to communicate with Russian jugglers or whatever he’s doing here – and there’s a bit where fake Mahoney’s moustache goes ‘woop’…. you can see I’m struggling here. The most interesting thing is that we have Ron Perlman doing his finest Zangief impression, Christopher Lee as a Russian Cop, and Claire Forlani looking effing gorgeous. It’s best to forget this exists.

Renaissance Man

Danny DeVito – what were you thinking?

Sirens

It’s more Hugh Grant. Lets be honest, there’s only one reason anyone would watch this, and if anyone does foolishly watch this for that one reason, they’re going to be sorely disappointed. It’s about an English Church dude who goes to Australia and is shocked to see boobs. It’s somehow less interesting than that sounds.

Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed any of the films listed above, and feel free to share the movies of 1994 which you couldn’t stand!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1995!

12 Monkeys' Speaks to Our Current Crisis - Hollywood in Toto

12 Monkeys

We’re coming in hot today, with the beloved by most 12 Monkeys, Terry Gilliam’s crazed tale of time travelling, airports, disease, and Brad Pitt’s hilarious attempts at acting. I have an amount of admiration for 12 Monkeys but a deeper look unravels what a shambles the plot is, and the twists are of the usual sort you find in time-travel movies. I came to the film late, spurred on by heaps of praise by people whose opinions usually mesh with my own. It’s good, but it’s not movie of the year good. If there’s any lesson here, it’s probably that your friends are dicks and you can’t trust their recommendations. BECAUSE THEY’RE A FUTURE VERSION OF YOU. But yeah, one of Brad Pitt’s early attempts at ‘big, real, acting’ following the much more interesting Kalifornia and Interview With The Vampire, are hilarious and I will never understand how he was nominated for any Award, never mind an Oscar.

When Nature Calls

I love the first Ace Ventura. I don’t love the second. Less interesting story, a re-tread of jokes and one-liners which were already over-stated by the time the second film was announced, but beyond that it’s simply more of the same. Normally I would say ‘bring it on’, but I would have much preferred more of the same of The Mask or Dumb And Dumber, or more of the same of Ace Ventura, but with some effort.

Assassins

I’m still not sure how you bring together 1995 Antonio Banderas, Sly Stallone, and give a Wachowski’s story about guns and killings and hitmen to Richard Donner, and make it a dull slog. It’s such a nothing story – the Wachowskis had clearly been watching a lot of John Woo movies and thought they could make their own take on homoerotic machismo (plus guns), but forgot to make it interesting, then everyone else involved didn’t bother giving it any style or attempt to flesh out the characters or assign any sense to whatever the hell was going on.

Get Shorty

Another one of the post Pulp Fiction movies which every studio was pumping out between 1995 and 2000, but this one comes with some genuine cred, based on a story by Elmore Leonard. Cool cast too. I don’t know why ‘cool’ is equated to jazz in movies, when any music fan knows that jazz actually equates to ‘shit’, so we’re subjected to a shitty score, people in sunglasses, dialogue which feels as if the characters are ripping pages from a bad book of poetry and passing them to one another instead of speaking. It’s a hideous bore too, though every time I’ve seen it has been late at night when I’ve already been tired.

Haunted

Haunted may be the most boring, sleep inducing movie of all time. There was a lot of it this year – it’s as if they knew Desperado and Goldeneye were coming out this year and thought ‘why bother’.

Moonlight And Valentino

I get there’s a market for this sort of thing – lonely, middle aged housewives for example – and because I’m not one of those, Moonlight And Valentino was never going to do anything for me. It’s not even good enough for any awkward ‘look, it’s John Bon Jovi’ laughs. As with any other year, there were a number of equally unacceptable shitty rom coms/dramas/costume nonsese that I could have added in this spot – The Englishman Who Climbed A Hill, The Scarlet Letter, Sabrina, Miami Rhapsody etc, but this one commits the cardinal crime of being such an up itself story of unrealistic soap opera relationships that you can neither take it seriously, not laugh at it. Plus it has Gwyneth Paltrow.

Nine Months

I’m surprised this didn’t have Gwyneth Paltrow, but it does have Hugh Grant which is essentially the same thing. It’s a remake of a French film where the comedy simply doesn’t translate. The story is basically about your typical bloke, drifting along, happy with his life, career, relationship who knocks up his girlfriend and begins freaking out. The Simpsons did it better in a single episode. Not only does the humour not translate, there is no attempt to attune the humour in any way, Hugh Grant will never be funny (unless he’s attacking snake people), and like every movie of its ilk you know precisely how it’s going to end from the moment the opening credits run. It’s a shame, as this year had a few decent movies in this genre – While You Were Sleeping, Waiting To Exile….. and Showgirls.

Rob Roy

What a load. Of. SHITE.

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar!

Another film where we have to whip out the checklist of things I don’t like; ridiculous name. Quirky camp comedy. Drag. Stockard Channing. Being tame. The only thing going for it are a few interesting cast choices and the fact that it’s a road movie, but those aren’t enough to save it.

Village Of The Damned

Carpenter was on the verge of checking out by this point. I feel like if he had achieved a hit with this, regardless of quality, he would have been more prolific throughout the rest of the decade and into the 2000s. To be fair, it had a lot of positives going in – unusual cast, the genre is precisely in Carpenter’s wheelhouse, and Carpenter has a track record of making good remakes. I would have loved Carpenter to have tackled a Bodysnatchers story, but Abel Ferrera got there first. Instead, he updates the 1960 British classic of the same name. Sadly it’s clear that Carpenter doesn’t give a shit – there’s none of his usual style or flair, the characters don’t feel like real people or even caricatures, and it’s dull. Even the Soundtrack doesn’t help. It does provide some darker twists which set it apart from the original, but it’s a disappoint on all fronts. It was a failure at the Box Office too, and so Carpenter stopped caring about movies.

Let us know in the comments what your least favourite movies of 1995 are!

Ranking The 2nd Law – Muse

Muse – The 2nd Law (2012, Vinyl) - Discogs

Similar to the last album, this is a more consistent affair without a single song I strongly dislike, but with few clear highs. My number 1 is head and shoulders above the others, the next eight songs are roughly similar in my estimation, and then the last few are a step further behind.

1.Madness

2. Follow Me.

3. Save Me.

4. Panic Station.

5. Big Freeze.

6. Animals.

7. Unsustainable.

8. Survival.

9. Supremacy.

10. Liquid State.

11. Isolated System.

12. Explorers.

13. Prelude.

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Resistance By Muse

Muse – The Resistance (2009, Gatefold Card Sleeve, CD) - Discogs I think this is the first Muse album where there isn’t a song I can point to and say ‘I don’t like that one’. However, there are fewer highs than any album so far. The title track is one of their best, but most of the songs are middling and forgettable. The Exogenesis piece I anticipated was going to be wonderful and the perfect next step for a band as overblown as Muse to take, but it’s a little bland and turns out it’s not the sort of thing I want from Muse. This also represents the turning point in my fandom timeframe – I began to not care as much about the band as I had in their (and my) earlier days. No bad songs, but if someone told me to sing a bit from anything other than my top two picks, I wouldn’t be able to.
  1. Resistance
  2. Undisclosed Desires.
  3. MK Ultra.
  4. Unnatural Selection.
  5. Guiding Light.
  6. Uprising.
  7. I Belong To You (Mon Couer S’Ouvre a Ta Voix).
  8. United States Of Eurasia (and Collateral Damage).
  9. Exogenesis.
Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking Black Holes And Revelations – Muse

Muse – Black Holes And Revelations (2009, Vinyl) - Discogs

The problem with Black Holes And Revelations is that there’s Knights Of Cydonia and there’s everything else. That song is so obviously the highlight that nothing else comes close. The singles are good and it’s a thoroughly consistent album, but fewer of the non-singles stand out as much as non-singles from other albums. The band finally overcome their habit of putting a shitty song in the last position, over-compensating perhaps by putting their best song in that spot. They still have not overcome the dreary, slow ballads – but thankfully there’s only a single culprit in Soldier’s Poem.

  1. Knights Of Cydonia
  2. Starlight.
  3. Map Of The Problematique.
  4. Exo Politics.
  5. Assassin.
  6. City Of Delusion.
  7. Invincible.
  8. Take A Bow.
  9. Supermassive Black Hole.
  10. Hoodoo.
  11. Soldier’s Poem.

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking Absolution By Muse

See the source image

Just before Hullaballoo was released was my peak Muse fandom. Their live album dulled some of that enthusiasm, and coupled with me getting into other bands and doing other things, my excitement over Absolution was maybe not as high as it could have been. I still loved the album and the singles when they first came out, and it was the first time I began to see how popular they were becoming, with people I knew suddenly mentioning them as new favourites, having previously ignored them when I’d brought them up years before. The power of popularity. It’s a good album, however, there is absolutely (absolutionly?) no reason for this album to include both Ruled By Secrecy and Blackout; they’re basically the same song. By the same token, why have Interlude and Intro as separate tracks and not just part of the song that they bridge into? To looks like proggy twats?

  1. Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist.
  2. Time Is Running Out.
  3. Sing For Absolution.
  4. Falling Away With You.
  5. Apocalypse Please
  6. Stockholm Syndrome
  7. Hysteria.
  8. Endlessly.
  9. The Small Print
  10. Butterflies and Hurricanes.
  11. Blackout.
  12. Ruled By Secrecy.
  13. Interlude.
  14. Intro

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking Origin Of Symmetry – Muse

Lets face it – Origin Of Symmetry is peak Muse. Sure they would continue to find greater success, have bigger hits, and continually add inches to their boner for overblown epic sounds, but this is the moment they cemented themselves as genuine big boys. The bands I mentioned in my previous post – JJ72, My Vitriol, they failed at their second hurdle by failing to reach new audiences and keep their original fans happy. Muse chucked everything at their sophomore, including the kitchen sink they nicked from their intergalactic pirate voyages, and the result is an entirely flawless first half, followed by a very flawed second.

  1. Citizen Erased
  2. New Born
  3. Plug In Baby
  4. Space Dementia
  5. Bliss
  6. Hyper Music
  7. Darkshines
  8. Micro Cuts
  9. Megalomania
  10. Screenager
  11. Feeling Good

Feel free to leave your rankings in the comments!

Ranking The Songs: Muse – Showbiz

I get it; lists. They’re disposable and stinky, like the biodegradable wipes I’ve been using to cleanse my son’s rear after the tenth explosive bum incident of the day. But unlike those, lists are also quite appealing – to the masses, to the lowest common denominator, and to the genuine fans of whatever the hell I’m listing. Today, whatever the hell I’m listing is the songs of Muse’s debut album Showbiz.

I rather enjoyed this album when it was released a lifetime ago, but the band have since surpassed it. I was an early adopter to Muse – coming at a time when my own musical adventures were branching out and I was always on the prowl for some new act to obsess over. I liked the early songs that I heard, and then Unintended stole my maudlin little teenage heart. It was a great period for British rock – Muse, JJ72, My Vitriol, and others were announcing themselves at this time, but of course it all got fucked up when shite like The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, brought their populist bland-tastic albums into the charts ensuring that any true originals got overlooked and decided to go become Accountants instead. And now look. JUST LOOK AT YOUR BELOVED ROCK NOW. Yeah, it’s your fault. Showbiz then… here are some things:

  1. Unintended
  2. Showbiz
  3. Escape
  4. Muscle Museum
  5. Sunburn
  6. Filip
  7. Uno
  8. Cave
  9. Sober
  10. Overdue
  11. Hate This And I’ll Love You
  12. Falling Down

Does this match your ranking? If not, why – why are you wrong? Let us know in the word bits below!