The Lion King (2019)

lion2I should have hated this with a passion. When I first heard of it, I was pretty incredulous. Remaking the animation classic The Lion King seems rather akin to remaking Citizen Kane or Blade Runner or The Godfather. I’m not necessarily comparing the Disney original to those other films regards quality or reputation you understand, but really, whats the point remaking a film that is perfectly fine by itself?


Not that anyone would admit it, but the entire point, the central reason any of these recent Disney live-action remakes of their animation classics exist, is as an exercise in making money. To be fair, the reason ANY film is made is in order to make money, any artistic value is almost incidental, possibly accidental, as long as a film is made that gets bums on cinema seats or downloads and streams clogging the internet. Disney of course is enabling a new stream of fresh content for its Disney+ service as well as updating its back catalogue for generations that think those old flicks are rather dated and the animation rather old-fashioned compared to the dazzle of contemporary stuff.

The animated Lion King of course was released in 1994, just twenty-five years ago. Its been a long time since I last saw it- back in the days of DVD I think, so my memory of it is rather hazy. Watching this new 2019 version brought it all back mind, because its pretty much the same movie, Or at least it seems to be. I suspect there are more differences than audiences realise, many tweaks and updates that pass us by, but on the whole its the same movie, except that it looks so astonishing.

Astonishing really is the word for these visuals, mind. Watching this in 4K UHD is a pretty breathtaking experience, particularly on a OLED panel. I doubt it looked anything like as good as this at my local Cineworld. There is bad CGI and good CGI of course, and this is very, very good CGI. They can do anything, it seems, fake anything, when given sufficient money and time to get it right. When NASA (or its Chinese equivalent) gets somebody back on the moon, and the conspiracy theorists bring back their claims at fakery and hoaxes – well, maybe they might be onto something, because they really could do that now. In The Lion King, you’ll believe a Lion can sing.

Or maybe not. There is a curious uncanny valley being brought back here, in just the same way as the virtual thespians of  Final Fantasy; The Spirits Within didn’t wholly convince. The CGI creations here are much superior and more convincing (often its like you’re watching outtakes of the BBC’s Planet Earth or The Blue Planet etc), but the issue here is seeing such realistic creatures doing such odd things like following the directors instructions or talking and singing. Its weird how watching hand-drawn animated characters doing such stuff rather suspends disbelief and enthrals us, and yet seeing something that looks so real doing it looks so odd.

Fortunately another curious thing is that, as its based so closely on a film that simply worked, this astonishing-looking, albeit weird and possibly ill-judged remake inevitably works too. Its difficult to love and easy to distrust, but its hard not to get swept up by it anyway. It looks so ravishing it works a strange magic. I’m still deeply sceptical and suspicious of Disney and these live-action/CGI remakes, and still rather feel these new editions will be forgotten long before the originals- the cynic in me has a few doubts however, thinking I’m giving the younger generations and my fellow viewers too much credit. Maybe they will actually prefer the new films and the originals will fade into obscurity, lost in some hard-to-find corner of the Disney+ service. That would be a terrible thing but one has to wonder.


The Mule

muleWe should be grateful that Clint Eastwood is still around, and that he’s still making movies (really, between him and Ridley Scott, we’re given some sober reminders that the Old School can still hold their own at times). In The Mule he even puts himself in front of the camera, taking the lead for the first time since Gran Torino (I may be wrong there, but I think I have got that right). Its a curious thing seeing him in this. Sure, the years have weathered him and its alarming, seeing a screen icon such as he showing the toll of years just as we mere mortals do in the Real World.

Inevitably however, that status of screen icon, and all the cinematic history his face represents, can cast its own dark shade upon everything he now does. The Mule is a decent, efficient and entertaining film, but it is no classic, and while it is likely one of the better efforts of his later years, it cannot help but pale compared to his best films, his best roles- particularly those whose reputations lie more in what they represent than their actual quality. Against that kind of comparison, even the greats can falter.

So I’ll watch films like The Mule and be thankful that I have lived in a world and a time in which Clint Eastwood has plied his craft, both in front of and behind the camera, and while he may not equal the names like Jack Lemmon, Sergio Leone, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder or James Stewart,  still working today there are far lesser than he with greater status than they deserve- its just the way the world is. For my part I’ll just savour the films and the fact he’s still around. And as far as The Mule is concerned, it may not be anything astonishing or contain too many surprises, its still a welcome reminder of when films all had beginnings, middles and endings, and didn’t feel the need for capes and superpowers or CGI spectacle. Eastwood may be overshadowed by the decades of cinematic history behind him, but its a fine reminder of it too.


What amazed me about An American Werewolf in London

maxresdefaultTwenty years- I hadn’t seen this film in more than twenty years. That’s no judgement on the film itself- I think I’d just seen it so many times on VHS when it was such a popular rental that I’d just worn myself out on it, I guess; indeed I never bought it on DVD, or Blu-ray until this new Arrow edition (boasting corrected audio and remastered picture, as well as boatloads of extras). Seeing an old film at its best, or better than previous formats managed, is always a temptation of course- its why so many of us get suckered into the dreaded double-triple-dip, especially when Amazon has a sale on.

So how did the film measure up over the years? Pretty damn well really. Of course its dated but that is all part of the charm of such films- character actors so familiar (particularly to us British viewers) looking so astonishingly young (I’d never realised, for instance, that a very young Rik Mayall featured in the early pub scene) and of course all those old cars in street scenes etc. Its almost looking at an old forgotten world.

Which is partly what amazed me about it: I was oddly fascinated by the decor in Nurse Alex Prices apartment, and in particular the small b&w CRT television sitting in a corner. Of course there was a time when televisions were small and not huge screens bolted onto walls,  it seems almost cute and arcane, how things used to be. Nurse Alex was too busy in her career and didn’t have more than three channels and no video recorder either- what on Earth would she want with a big television anyway? Probably why she kept books and actually read them.

So when David is biding time while Alex is at work, he switches on that ancient artefact of what approximated a television back then, and of course as its the daytime, the BBC channel is transmitting the old test card. Wowza. Those were the days.

So anyway, that’s what probably amazed me the most, re-watching An American Werewolf in London– not the still-impressive Rick Baker transformation make-up or the gentle pace of the film, or the fact that the whole cast were pretty uniformly great, or that Jenny Agutter was as beautiful as I remembered and probably the best thing in the whole film, oddly enough- no, it was that old b&w television and seeing that old test card. Its a funny thing, watching old movies again (does An American Werewolf in London, released in 1981, even qualify as an ‘old’ movie? There’s a debate for another day).

Blade Runner Production Designer Lawrence G.Paull has died

This month, of all months, I’ve courted the likelihood of writing several posts related to Blade Runner, due to the significance of it being November 2019. Hadn’t really considered having to write a post like this one- another member of the Blade Runner creative team has passed away; Lawrence G Paull, the production designer who helped create that incredibly vivid dystopian world of  the 1982 classic, died last Sunday in California, at the age of 81.

As someone who to this today can powerfully recall the impact that the film had on viewers back in 1982, I fully realise it is impossible for people who weren’t around back then to understand just how much of an impact that film and its extraordinary production design had. Of course I’m the first person to argue that the Oscars are wholly irrelevant as a judge of a films worth, but its a testament to that very fact that while Blade Runner was deservedly nominated for the Oscar for Best production Design in 1982, it lost to Gandhi. Gandhi– hardly a film for the ages or one that influenced very many films afterwards, whereas the long shadow of Blade Runner on both genre and non-genre films has stretched on for decades.

Fair enough, I’m obviously biased on that front.

Anyway, I just wanted to note on Lawrence G.Paull’s passing. I’ve seen his name on the title credits of the film so many times over the years every time I’ve watched it, his name so familiar, like all those others on those credits, several of which have been inevitably lost to us as the years increasingly take their toll. Paull certainly created something special with his team on Blade Runner and its obviously something he was proud of. I believe he was not happy at the marketing people pushing Syd Mead as being the ‘face’ of Blade Runner’s visuals, as if Mead created and designed everything himself. It may have seemed a wise marketing move but it did the production team a disservice, something I hope had been rectified over the years since as Blade Runner became reconsidered and reappraised.


Happy 80th, Wendy

wendy5I’m quite utterly amazed to read that its Wendy Carlos’ 80th birthday today. Good lord. I really didn’t need another reminder of the years rolling by, but there you go.

So Wendy Carlos. My first encounter with her electronic soundscapes dates back, like for many people I expect, to her 1982 score for the Disney film Tron. Its simply how most of my Star Wars generation first encountered her work, although she was actually most famous for her breakthrough work in the late 1960s pioneering electronic music through her Switched-On Bach recordings, in which she used a Moog synthesizer to record electronic versions of Bach concertos. The first Switched-On Bach album won three Grammys and sold more than one million copies – the first classical album to go platinum. It was the moment electronic music truly arrived, and the synthesizer became considered a genuine musical instrument. Not long after she released an original work, Sonic Seasonings, an ambient double-album that curiously predated Brian Eno’s ambient music by a few years.

wendy4Carlos caught the eye (or more aptly, the ear) of Stanley Kubrick who recruited her to record music for his film Clockwork Orange, and later, his film The Shining, and her music lends both films a pretty unique atmosphere and soundscape that helps them stand apart from other films to this day. The revised and expanded edition of the Clockwork Orange soundtrack released in 2000 is an amazing piece of work- like most of her music I’d hesitate to call it easy listening, its often complex and challenging but there’s something utterly mesmerising about the near-fourteen minute epic Timesteps that opens the album, a piece of music  inspired by the book that she wrote before she ever started work on the film score.

As I have stated, I first became aware of her music through the Tron soundtrack, an orchestral/electronic hybrid of a score that had as unique a sonic identity as the films computer-aided visuals. I had a copy of the album for Christmas that 1982 and loved listening to it on headphones- I damn near wore that vinyl album out and would spend many years waiting for it to come out on CD. The score features one of the most achingly beautiful love themes that ever graced a movie- its  one of those soundtracks that is much better than the movie it was written for.

Mwendy3y exploration and appreciation of her music post-Tron didn’t really start until around 1994 when she started releasing her back catalogue on East Side Digital in beautifully mastered and presented new editions. I think I read somewhere that her label, CBS/Sony sold her entire back-catalogue back to her believing it was no longer commercial enough to warrant future release, incredibly. Her Switched-On Bach albums featured in a deluxe box-set that remains one of the most finely-crafted CD sets that I have ever owned, with a wonderfully thorough book to accompany it. For several years back then I would buy her releases and read her notes and news/commentary on her website, which even now, although not updated since 2009 remains a fascinating source of information and a glimpse of everything someone like, say, Vangelis, has never been. She was so open and warm on her website, its easy to suggest now that she was well ahead of her time in how she engaged with her fans and curated her musical legacy.

wendy1Over the last ten years, however, she seems to have been enjoying an unannounced retirement, the energy and enthusiasm of those releases in the 1990s through to 2009 (including Tron finally on CD in 2002, hurrah!) unexpectedly fading away to Vangelis-like silence. Today her name has faded into a strange obscurity, her music sadly going out of print and commanding some daft prices on the second-hand market. Of course, her retirement is perfectly understandable and deserved, albeit its a pity she seems to have felt the need to distance herself from the public eye and her fans in particular.

Fortunately of course I still have these CDs to listen to and celebrate her work. I hope she is well and perhaps even still making music. Happy 80th, Wendy.



Spider-Man: Far From Home 4K UHD

This is Wrong.

At the close of this film prior to the end-credits going up there is a dedication to the memory of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, co-creators of Spider-Man who both passed away before this film was released (I say ‘co-creators’ but it took several decades for Ditko to get his due, and even then grudgingly, I suspect, but Marvel and Hollywood caught up with the comic fans eventually).

Its a fine sentiment noting their passing, but the makers of this film needn’t have bothered, because the Spider-Man of this film has practically nothing at all in common with the Lee/Ditko comic-books of the 1960s. As a reader of the original Spider-Man comics of the 1960 and 1970s, its my biggest gripe with both this film, its predecessor and the recent Avengers films. This ain’t my Spidey. Indeed this film is more National Lampoon than Ditko-era web-slinging.

Before I get side-tracked waxing lyrical regards the miss-appropriation of cultural icons, I’ll happily concede that Marvel Studios is evidently updating the character/s of the comics for the benefit of contemporary social trends and to reflect our modern times. I will point out that to my mind, the best Superman movie is Richard Donner’s 1978 classic, simply because it remained mostly faithful to the original 1930s strips and maintained a sense of olde-Americana that possibly felt old-fashioned even in 1978, and stands far superior to the edgier/darker/slicker takes of the Man of Steel of more recent years. I’d also raise Rogue One as the best Star Wars film of the Disney era simply because it felt most like original Star Wars. Sure, you can move these franchises on, update them, but they should still feel authentic.

As a super-hero film, Far From Home is okay. Its funny, its efficient, its fairly-well  made barring its excessive reliance on CGI spectacle over old-fashioned drama, albeit unfortunately it has all the tension of an episode of Knight Rider…  Really, its nothing particularly special. Casting aside my chief gripe that it in no way resembles the Spider-Man of my youth, I’d just like to point out that it would be fairer to re title it Iron Boy: Far From Home, regards its endlessly irritating compulsion to reference his mentor Iron Man/Tony Stark, who sacrificed himself in Avengers: Endgame in episode 22 (?) of this Marvel Cinematic Saga (whatever happened to just making single movies?). As in the earlier Marvel Studios films featuring Spider-Man, I’m really bothered by this- in the comics, Spidey never needed a mentor.

This is REALLY wrong: Spidey never got the girl. That was the whole point.

But hey ho, this is Spider Man 2019. So its funny, its energetic, its… its got more Spider-Costumes than Batman has gadgets in his utility belt. At one point Iron Boy leaps out of plane and a Spider-Chute bursts out of his ass, or something. What the hell has any of this film got to do with what Lee and Ditko were doing years ago? Not an awful lot.

Oh I don’t know. At least Homecoming had a decent bad guy. I’m not sure what this one has. This film’s Mysterio character feels as authentic as its Spider Man to be honest, and I never really accepted him or his team of stooges or the conceit of his staged ‘fake’ monster attacks. I suppose you either buy into all that holograms/drones nonsense (where so the sound effects come from?) or you don’t, and lets face it, modern audiences aren’t the kind to second-guess or think about anything they are watching as long as its big and loud enough to keep them away from their mobile smartphones. Its funny that we have a Nick Fury in this for the whole movie but it turns out he isn’t Nick Fury, as if it was a clever meta-statement on Spidey not being Spidey and Mysterio not being Mysterio. everything is some kind of doppelganger, an imperfect fake.  And don’t get me started on Marisa Tomei’s  ‘hot’ Aunt May, I still can’t get my head around that even after so many movies, nor the romance between her and Favreau’s ‘Happy’ Hogan. And everyone seems to know that Peter is Spider-Man, its almost an inside joke calling it a secret identity, as everyone who knows him figures it out, lessening the shock as it gets totally spilled in the movie’s cliffhanger ending to the general public. 

As regards the 4k UHD disc, the film looks gorgeous, truly spectacular. I may pick many faults with the film itself but I can’t really do so with this really impressive disc. The Dolby Vision HDR really gives the whole film a sense of  depth and the night-scenes in particular really do impress. Its a beautiful-looking film and a major positive for the format. So great disc, shame really about the film. Not a disaster by any means, but it sure as hell ain’t Spidey, not in my book. 

Apollo 11 4K UHD

APOLLO11AThis was one of my most anticipated titles of 2019- coming on the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, when I heard about it early this year,  I figured it would be a great film to watch and celebrate the event. Alas, the vagaries of independent distribution resulted in those of us on this side of the pond missing out, with the disc release delayed until November while our Stateside cousins enjoyed the Blu-ray release in time for the Big Day.

A few months ago though came a surprising development- it was announced that the film would be getting a 4K UHD release as well as on the usual DVD/Blu-ray formats, a rare situation of us getting a better release (many reviews of the R1 Blu-ray remarking on the odd mystery of there being no 4K disc at the time of that release). So hey- maybe it would be worth the wait after all.


Well, it would appear that this 4K release isn’t as perfect as might have been hoped. A pink push is evident and the HDR a little overblown in sections, although to be honest, when I watched it unaware of any issues I just put it down to the period film-stock, and it certainly looks very 1960s with those over-saturated colours so familiar from films from the period (I’m thinking stuff like The Prisoner tv series on Blu-ray). There just seemed something oddly authentic about it.

I delayed writing this post because I intended to watch the Blu-ray disc of the film to compare how it looks but I’ve not had the time to give it a spin, so I’m afraid I’ll have to write a subsequent post when I have done so. Apparently these issues with the HDR is shared with all 4K editions, whether on this disc or on streaming and downloads so its inherent in the master supplied to all vendors. Its certainly odd and would appear to be a result of all the different film-stock sources being used in the film being given the same HDR pass. I cannot understand why this issue wasn’t raised during the films theatrical presentations as I would imagine they would use this same 4K master, but perhaps not- I gather that 2K does surprisingly seem the norm with many theatrical presentations now.

What I can say is that to my eyes the film looked pretty spectacular in 4K, with immense detail in sections (the film is put together from numerous sources, 16mm, 35mm and 65mm and even 70mm, the latter formats obviously demonstrating a huge step up in quality that takes the breath away). I was hugely satisfied with the disc, and having seen countless docs using NASA footage of the landings etc its the best-looking one I have ever seen (maybe the Blu-ray, minus the HDR,  looks even better, go figure. Thankfully its in the same box so there’s a win-win of sorts).

At any rate, I didn’t want to delay my review of the film itself any longer, because this film is just amazing and brilliantly well done. Its basically a successor to Al Reinert’s already pretty definitive film about the Apollo missions, For All Mankind, which assembled footage from the various moon missions into a compendium of a trip to the moon, using just that footage and  recollections by the Astronauts supplemented by a wonderfully evocative score by Brian Eno. For Apollo 11 Todd Douglas Miller and his team takes this approach just a step further, using footage (mostly) from just that one mission, and using a soundtrack of  ‘in the moment’ NASA recordings taken from the communications loops  that has been painstakingly restored and matched to the visuals assembles it in a riveting ‘you are there’ docudrama.

apoll11bIts fascinating, its uplifting, its intimidating… the film does offer new insights on the sheer scale and ambition of the endeavour, and the knowledge all of this was done half a century ago with the technologies of the time just boggles the mind, frankly.

I’ve seen so much footage from the NASA archives on film over the years, including the pretty-much complete Spacecraft Films releases on DVD years ago that dedicated several discs to each individual mission with complete EVAs etc. but Apollo 11 nevertheless has imagery I’ve never seen before, and what I have seen before is presented in unprecedented clarity. Its a marvellous film that perhaps loses some points for not having a soundtrack to match that of Brian Eno in For All Mankind. I suppose it could be argued this film doesn’t need such sonic atmospheres, but I missed it (imagine if the film had sufficient resources that Vangelis had been tasked with scoring it- hell, he’d possibly have even done it for free, he loves all this space stuff and working for NASA).

Likewise if ever a film demanded a proper budget for special features and in particular multiple audio commentaries, this is it- its a terribly wasted opportunity that this disc release fails to have any supplements of any depth. In a sad reflection of how home formats are going, I’ve read that the iTunes version of the film actually does have a commentary track. That’s madness, pure and simple- the collectors who buy discs are those most likely to listen to audio commentaries, not those jocks content with streaming or downloading films. This film should be on physical disc with that track and others- purely as an historical document, especially in this year of all years, the film merited the effort. Maybe a special edition will surface in a few years, but as it is, its a very poor show that demonstrates small-thinking. If a film like this on the 50th Anniversary year of the moon landing does not merit a sizeable budget for supplementary material, then something is terribly wrong.

Agh, here I am bitching about extras when according to most video purists on the web, I should be demanding a disc with a corrected HDR master. Oh well, we’re never happy I guess, although baring some revelation watching the standard Blu-ray, I really do like this 4K disc. I just know a special edition with bumper special features is inevitable at some point down the line as long as physical formats are still around (which is what irks me the most, as there is no guarantee of that, and this might have been our only shot at it).

Brilliant documentary film though. Absolutely brilliant. I only wish there was a three-hour extended edition with shots of all the engineering involved assembling the Saturn V etc…there you go, I’m moaning again. We’re never happy.



The King

thekingOne thing is certain about this gloomy, low-key, decidedly modern take on Henry V: Timothée Chalemet is a future superstar, and his performance here in the title role has me so intensely excited for Villeneuve’s Dune next year that its almost painful knowing that film is still over a year away. If his Paul Atreides is as dark and moody and charismatic as his young Hal here, we will be in for something truly special. He can hold the viewers attention with a frown or a stare, and is surprisingly adept physically considering his slender boyish frame- he commands the film in every scene he is in, holding his own despite the great cast that threatens to steal the film from him.

If only the film was the sum of its parts. Certainly, it looks great, with beautiful cinematography and excellent art direction and set design. It sounds even better, with an absolutely gorgeous score by Nicholas Britell that deserves Oscar attention but will no doubt be ignored. It runs over two hours so never feels particularly rushed, the editing as deft as one could hope for, giving the scenes time to breathe, and the performances opportunity to shine.  As for those performances, Chalemet as I’ve noted is excellent, but he is ably supported by a terrific cast – Ben Mendelssohn, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, all in very fine form. This film should be great.

But something seems missing. I suspect its the fault of a script that really fails to ignite, but also feel that the choice may be deliberate- this film could easily have descended into the formulaic theatrics of Braveheart or Gladiator or so many other stirring historical epics that sweep people away with spectacle and stirring words and OTT performances. This film is very low-key, a gloomy, almost melancholic take on material many will be familiar with, albeit more sincere adaptations of the bard. I would imagine its an attempt to be fresh and ‘new’ but it ironically works against it.

It’s a difficult thing, sometimes, having seen so many films, I’m certain it colours my perception of new films, possibly unfairly. Someone younger than twenty, say, coming to this film having seen few if any historical dramas might come away absolutely impressed and overwhelmed in a very positive way. A whole new generation might connect with this film in ways I cannot fathom, seeing things in Chalemet’s performance that reflects the modern world and how their generation sees it through this tale of a distant past. Something, for me, was missing, however, and I’ve been quite perturbed by it. There’s possibly nothing as frustrating as a good film that might have been truly great. Nothing quite as puzzling as trying to find what is missing and not being certain. As I’ve noted, I suspect its really a matter of the script and its focus on keeping things realistic and reducing the tendency for theatrics. I applaud the intent but wonder if it was ill-judged, but in any case, I am sure I will return to this film again, and that’s not something you can often say about Netflix Originals.

Watching Watchmen: Episode Three

watch3“Hello. Hello? I can’t hear you, but I know you’re there. I have a joke for you. I know what you’re thinking, but this is a funny one. Damon Lindelof, you remember him? The guy who ruined Prometheus and co-wrote that horrible Star Trek Into Darkness, and was show runner of Lost who dragged that thing out to THAT ending. Well, he’s making a new show now, based on Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic book/graphic novel… the damn thing’s almost an actual sacred thing to comic book fans. You may have seen the movie. I KNOW you’ve seen the movie. You’re keeping quiet but I know you’re a big fan of that Snyder fella, well anyway, this show is kind of like that film but its not. Its really more to do with the Moore book, but it feels like the film and borrows its title font and how it throws episode titles up on the screen and it visually owes something to it…

“Well a lot of the third episode, it centres on a phone booth, and Laurie Blake is on the phone to Dr Manhattan, who’s on Mars ignoring everybody. Or he’s SUPPOSED to be on Mars but who knows for sure, Dr Manhattan is like God, he could be Everywhere. So Laurie -yes, she’s the Silk Spectre in the original book, but she’s 30-odd years older now and spandex costumes aren’t her thing anymore- well, she’s sold out to The Man, and she’s working for the Feds like her dad the Comedian did, or was that the CIA? Anyway, she’s hunting costumed heroes now, instead of being one. Set a thief to catch a thief, something like that. 

“Well, where was I? No, the question was rhetorical, I don’t expect you to say anything, but I know you’re listening. So Laurie is cracking a joke to her ex-lover, ex-costumed team-mate who’s maybe on Mars on the other end of the phone. Yeah, people can phone God in this show. I guess it cuts out the Middle-man, all that clergy nonsense. God is listening, they say, but they say it as ‘Dr Manhattan is listening’ but of course its all a matter of faith, the phone call just like prayer- maybe prayer for the 21st Century. I wonder if they charge Laurie’s credit card? Is it free, like reverse-charges or something? I guess God/Dr Manhattan would be good for it. Anyway, I reckon Dr Manhattan IS listening ‘cos he damn near drops a car on Laurie’s head at the end of the episode. No, that’s not the joke. Not this joke.

“No, this joke… hasn’t exactly got its punchline yet. Well, you see, this series so far, and this episode especially… its got all sorts of Easter Eggs for fans. There’s Laurie of course, and there’s mention of her boyfriend -her other boyfriend, this gal got around in her day- who was the Nite Owl II, who’s in prison now, apparently, and if Laurie does this job for this Presidential hopeful who hires her, well, he may be able to get her old beau Dan out of jail. So off she goes to Tulsa, where eps 1 & 2 took place. 

“I know, you’re waiting for the joke. I’ll get to it, honestly. Did I say it was funny? Well, maybe its more ‘funny peculiar’ you know how it is. See, the weird thing is, this show is deliberately arch and off-centre but in the Real World we got Trump with his thumb on the Nuclear Button and Boris over here in charge of Old Blighty, and Putin flexing his fishing muscles over in Russia, its kinda hard for film-makers and show-runners to trump reality, pardon the pun. We’re living in a Strange World so a show has to be VERY strange to seem strange, you know? Jeremy Irons, he actually gets into his Ozymandias costume in this episode, yeah, like in the comic, not the film version, and it kinda comes off like that 1960s Batman show, you know?I think that may have been deliberate, but yeah, Jeremy Irons in a superhero costume, how strange is that? As strange as Laurie carrying a giant Dr Manhattan dildo in her briefcase? I know, what kind of show is this?

watch4“So the episode returns to the main storyline with the Seventh Cavalry possibly being responsible for the death of the chief of the Tulsa Police and Laurie is investigating it and attends the funeral, and yeah, it continues the ‘Chief Judd Crawford shadowing the Comedian’s murder mystery’ thing by the funeral being very like the Comedians, except there’s a suicide bomber and it all gets messy. And Laurie knows something was in Judd’s closet but it seems Angela took it away. The two ladies don’t get along its like an Alpha Males thing, sorry, Alpha Females thing, very 21st Century. 

“Is this going somewhere I hear you ask? Well, no, I don’t hear you really, obviously, as you’re not talking and no, I’m not sure. You see, while this is a very (surprisingly) good show, it has our boy Lindelof behind it and he doesn’t end things well. Frankly he’s a bloody joke at endings. Oh no, did I drop the punchline already? Well you see the jokes still possibly on us. This is episode three and there is still six left and I’m fairly certain Jeremy Irons is being held captive on Mars or somewhere in space and fairly certain Dr Manhattan is behind it, and if Jeremy -sorry Adrian Veidt- gets out then humanity could be in trouble, but really there’s six episodes left and we’re all searching for clues and hints and wondering What It Means and Whats Going On and the irony is, when we get to the end we might have custard on our faces, this is Lindelof we’re talking about here. The joke might be on us, as we get carried away actually enjoying this thing until he pulls the rug from under us.

“I mean maybe the punchline is that there is no punchline and its all a big tease with a cliffhanger ending to leave us gagging for a second season. That would be cruel, almost as cruel as how GOT ended, but its a cruel world, you know? Disney owns Fox so the Mouse owns the Alien, I don’t know what Walt would have thought of THAT. But there’s something wrong about that, and yeah just how twisted do you think HBO could be, after what they pulled with GOT? 

“Goodness I’m babbling now and this call must be costing a fortune. Did I mention I’ve done this on reverse charge? No? Ha, well, maybe that’s a good enough joke. Possibly not really but maybe its good enough for now. We’ll see how funny things are after episode nine. I’m really enjoying this show right now though, so maybe I’ll give you another call next week…. 


Blade Runner Orchestral Suite

Here’s something I’m really in two minds about; the Danish National Symphony Orchestra performing a suite of Blade Runner music live in concert, a recording coming soon on Blu-ray and Compact Disc. Its… interesting.

Like the New American Orchestra recording that came out way back in 1982, there’s something that just sounds ‘off’ with someone other than Vangelis playing these themes, although I do like the choral elements, they certainly seem to add something.Why they feel the need for a narrator to mimic the irritation of the dialogue that annoyed so much in Vangelis’ original 1994 soundtrack release just seems weird, though. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Greek maestro insisted on it just to further annoy the fans. But hey ho, Happy November, 2019….