Mixed Media, Friday 7 August 2015

Following a tip-off on jwz’s blog, I’ve been listening to a lot of Veruca Salt lately, especially their new album Ghost Notes, and IV from 2006.

Also, Sleater-Kinney’s new album No Cities To Love has been out since January. I just realized that I’ve been listening to it for a good few months now, but have neglected to mention it here. I didn’t get into Sleater-Kinney first time round, before they split up in 2006. Remedying that now. No Cities to Love is stomping and excellent. Kicking myself that I missed them when they played Paradiso in March 🙁

On TV, Abi and I have finished watching season 3 of the US House of Cards. We’ve started on the original UK series now. I watched the original mini-series long, long time ago, but had forgotten most of it. We’re half-way through To Play The King now. I don’t think it has aged as well as House of Cards.

Films, quickly, in a big long batch:

  • Minions: Decent
  • Terminator: Genisys: Better than the critics would have you think
  • 2 Guns: Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington have fun in this. I enjoy watching them in general, but the film itself was flimsy.
  • An Honest Liar: Poignant documentary of James Randi, one of my heroes
  • The Voices: REALLY WEIRD. Tries to walk a very fine line between sitcom-ish comedy, sympathy for a character suffering from schizophrenia, and serial killer fandom. Falls off the line a lot. Very uncomfortable watching.
  • Adventureland: Amusing coming-of-age comedy. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart play well together on screen; I’m looking forward to seeing them together again in American Ultra
  • Coherence: Excellent. Intense, low-budget science fiction that relies on a simple idea and good characterisation rather than special effects. 6 people, one house. No-one has to save the world.
  • Blackfish: Strong, sometimes manipulative documentary about the marine amusement parks that keep orca whales for spectacle. I didn’t mind the manipulation, because I’m on their side.
  • Ant-Man: Throwaway fun. Lots of Edgar-Wrightish touches, even thought he wasn’t able to see the project all the way through. Pity that every single character is a colossal stereotype.
  • Mission: Impossible:: Rogue Nation: Spectacular action, well balanced between plot tension, stunts, and laughs.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: Much better than it had any right to be. Composed and aristocratic, irreverent and wild. Some jaw-droppingly choreographed and filmed action scenes. Watched this with Alex & Fiona at home yesterday evening; Fiona watched it on the iPad again today.

I read Ernest Cline’s Armada in a single day last week — I haven’t read a book in a single day for ages. It’s good, but not as good as Ready Player One. One improvement over his debut is that the pop- and videogame-culture references are optional extras this time round, rather than integral to the plot. (You don’t have to have an intimate knowledge of Rush’s 2112 to understand the second half of the book.) It tries to bite off more than it can chew, though. The first half promises a lot, revealing layer upon layer of secrecy. When it hits the bedrock of the reality as posited, it carries on to a reasonably satisfying action climax…but it never goes even deeper. It could have been truly mind-bending, but it chooses a simpler pay-off instead. The fact that I had to finish it in a single day says how much I enjoyed it, though.

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