Sunday, 21 June 2015

Frank Sidebottom - Five Years Gone

Hard to believe, but it has been five years since the wonderful Chris Sievey was taken from us.
There's not a day goes by that I personally don't think about the fun, laughs and great music the man gave us, and no doubt I bore friends with stories of him far too often.
Since his passing, the world has come to appreciate both Chris' music and the iconic image of Frank Sidebottom more and more. The Michael Fassbender film Frank opened even more doors for people to check out the legend, despite merely being 'inspired' by the great man's story.
A book, written by legendary rock journalist Mick Middles, entitled Out of His Head covers a lot of ground for those looking to delve deeper into the Frank/Chris mythos, and is highly recommended.
we continue to remember the man as he was, and mourn the loss to the world, and more so his family and friends.
Chris, as always, I salute you. I'll sink a few for you for old times' sake.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Book Review: UFOs of the First World War by Nigel Watson

While UFO sightings may seem to be a common thing (whatever your view on their legitimacy) in our generation, this new book takes a look at the spate of recorded instances from just before the turn of the century up to the end of the First World War.
This was a time, of course, when man was actually taking to the skies very successfully. While the late Victorians had stories of hot air balloons and airships, the war brought winged fighting machines. And as seeing things in the sky were a new experience, could it be that this set off fertile imaginations. Ancient man had to try to understand the Sun and the stars, but these new-fangled inventions could prove to be too much for the average person to comprehend at the time.
So this book sets out to discuss the recorded instances of ‘sightings’, keeping them well within context of the time. Detailing the events in as much first-hand accounts as possible, it’s a surprisingly eye-opening read. So much so that it could even be fascinating to those with an interest in war history. And while it’s clear the author is a firm believer in flying saucers – or whatever you’d call them – the text is very much fact-based, and far from preachy or condescending.
Unlike the previous book of Watson’s that I reviewed, The Haynes UFO Investigations Manual, this work is more for those serious about sightings and the phenomena. Yes, it’s a dense, almost clinical read, but that’s not to say it’s not a riveting one. The only complaint is one for which there is no answer – the lack of photographic evidence from the time – so it’s certainly not a fault of the book. There are illustrations – of varying quality, but interesting – but it’s the insightful text which keeps you reading page after page.
While I’m not sure it would make a believer out of you, it certainly is food for thought.   

8 out of 10 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Short Film Review: POSTPARTUM (2015) Directed by Izzy Lee

Izzy Lee is no stranger to this blog, having reviewed two of her earlier shorts, Legitimate (2013) and Picket (2014). Both of those films contained a strong sociopolitical message and earmarked Izzy as a director to content with in the future. With her latest short, Postpartum she points the lens at another important issue, but yet again, given a macabre and sinister twist.
Diana (Diana Porter) hasn't seen her friend Holly (Kasey Lansdale) for months; with calls unanswered and deeply worried, she heads over to her apartment to see what's wrong. An eviction notice is taped to the front door. Even more concerned now, she hammers on the door, until Holly opens up. She’s angry at all the noise, and is looking incredibly dishevelled; it’s as though she hasn’t slept in a while. It transpires that her baby is sick; “Baby?” Diana clearly didn’t know her friend was expecting. She’s even more concerned when Holly winces – holding her head as if attempting to block out some agonising noise – then looks up, with maniacally glazed eyes, “He’s stopped”. Diana sees the room has been ransacked, and there’s a putrid smell which has her gagging. She’s clearly concerned for the welfare of the baby as well as her friend, who is obviously very unwell too.

As it’s only a seven minute film, it’s not really fair to divulge much more of the story. You could probably guess certain elements anyway, particularly given the title. What you won’t guess is how twisted it gets, and there’s more than a few shocks in store along the way within the brief running time. 
With an remarkably immersive sound design (thanks to all-rounder Bryan McKay – who also handles the fluid and natural cinematography), and complementary score by Shayne Gryn, which is never overpowering or obvious, it’s a joy to watch no matter how grim and disturbing the subject and visuals are.
Izzy Lee is part of a new breed of horror directors (who, I’ve no doubt, could also turn their hands to other genres too) coming up at the moment. What’s brilliant, and purely co-incidental, is this young blood are mainly female. Alongside now-established talent such as the Soska Sisters, we have directors such as Izzy, Maude Michaud (Dys-), Jill Sixx Gevargizian (Call Girl), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), among many others who form this new breed of director who are making this genre exciting again. Gender is irrelevant, as it should be, and these filmmakers are pulling no punches with what they are depicting on screen. 
If there’s any sense and justice in the world (yeah, I know there isn’t, but I can hope) film festivals the globe over will pick up Postpartum to add to their roster. With many more projects in the pipeline for release later this year, and after being fundamental in the fundraising for the bronze bust of Edgar Allan Poe that now proudly sits in the Boston Public Library, Izzy Lee is going to be a name you will be hearing more of, and for all the right reasons. In the meantime, sales of clingfilm will be going through the roof...

8 out of 10

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Script Review: Half Chance by David McCool

Now it’s not often you are given a script to review, but that’s what has happened here, so forgive me if it’s a kind of vague essay as I really don’t want to be revealing too much about the content, or the secrets. Half Chance comes from David McCool, who wrote, directed, and starred in the recent short A Bloodstained Butterfly, which I really enjoyed. Although this wasn’t the final shooting script, I managed to get a good idea of where it was coming from and what to expect, and was easily visualised.
It tells the story Matt, who has just moved to a small town and when visiting a small cafĂ© meets a beautiful waitress, Alison, who he has an instant attraction to, and with whom they have so much in common, as well as an uneasy feeling that they’ve met before. Their initial meeting is disrupted by an uncouth idiot, Edward, barging in drunk and demanding a drink. Despite threatening Alison (and Matt, who attempts to stick up for her) with a chainsaw chain, he is sent on his way, and the pair hook up and begin a relationship. Unfortunately, a particularly romantic date turns sour when the bully Edward once again comes on the scene.
Now, from that description, you may well be thinking, ‘So what?’ Well, what it would be unfair for me to reveal is how the narrative takes a drastic turn for the strange, culminating in what could well be an amazing Twilight Zone-esq tale which would bend minds as well as tug at the heartstrings.
This is certainly a story which needs to be made, and I look forward to being on the front line of the reviews once it is!
For more information on David McCool, check out his website. You can view his first short – an incredibly inventive and effective diversion entitled Sparks below.