Saturday, 29 April 2017

We Don't Go Back #47: Eye of the Devil (1966)

Some films and TV shows are subject to a strange external force; a tragic event or a person related to these media carries an influence that subtly warps the thing itself, so it's actually impossible to watch it in the way you might have done when it was first released. And Eye of the Devil, adapted from Philip Loraine's novel Day of the Arrow and directed by J. Lee (The Guns of Navarone) Thompson, is a classic example. It is hard to find on DVD in the UK; you have to get a Region 1 import.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

We Don't Go Back #46: Detectorists (2014-15)

Acknowledgement: I found Detectorists thanks to the Folk Horror Revival group on Facebook (and if you are coming from there, sincere thanks). Detectorists has been seen two seasons on BBC4, and a Christmas special, amounting to 13 episodes. There's going to be a third season soon, but for the time being you can find all the current episodes on Netflix. It's also available on DVD.

Beneath golden sunshine, two men walk across a field, holding metal detectors. One of the devices beeps, and the shorter man crouches, and with a trowel carefully uncovers his find. It's a ring pull.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Inner Worlds: Love, Politics and Role-Playing Games

I've now published Inner Worlds: Love, Politics and Role-Playing Games, a short monograph compiling the essays I published last autumn on the imaginative spaces of role-playing games, in which I wax lyrical on politics, social mechanics, sex, magic and imagination, and ask the question: "is it really OK?"

(Spoilers: yes.)

It's not yet available in print form (and while somehow I can't imagine there being much call for the print version I'm going to have a bundle of printed copies at May's Swansea Comics and Games Convention). You can buy Inner Worlds here.

Friday, 21 April 2017

We Don't Go Back #45: Viy (1967)

I'm not terribly up on Russian literature, but the one partial exception to that regrettable blindspot is Nikolai Gogol, of whom over the years I've read a handful of things: Dead Souls, The Government Inspector, and a short story called “Viy”.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Cult Cinema #6: The Master (2012)

I could do a whole series on its own where I look at documentaries about Scientology.

But the truth is, I feel that unless it's a pretty interesting work of art in its own right, a documentary film speaks largely for itself, and most reviews of documentaries end up tackling style and underlying agendas. Since the vast majority of documentaries about Scientology start with the base assumption that Scientology is awful and then try to give you evidence to back that up, my critical MO has little to add. Louis Theroux bringing his schtick to a film about Scientology, for example, isn't without value, but I don't have a whole lot to add to that.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

We Don't Go Back #44a: Get Out (2017)

I've literally just come out of the cinema, having seen Jordan Peele's feted horror Get Out, and this is really a placeholder for a more complete essay for when I've seen it a second time.

You should take the opportunity to see it.

Monday, 17 April 2017

To crowdfund or not to crowdfund

So I decided to just go ahead and release this is not a picture. You can buy it here.

This is, if you've missed it, a collection of short supernatural fiction, and I didn't Kickstarter it this time. Why was that?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

We Don't Go Back #43: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1989)

Two things about today's entry: I have been privileged to have spent the week in London, enjoying the kind hospitality of Jon and Gina, and it's been lovely, a time to catch up with some of the people I know in London, but sadly not all because there are only so many people you can see in three days. Anyway, the second thing is that one of the many highlights of this week has been the chance to accompany Jon to BFI South Bank to see a showing of Wes Craven's 1989 film The Serpent and the Rainbow, so if there's a scarcity of screenshots, that's because you can't put one of the National Film Theatres into your laptop.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

On a Thousand Walls #7: Repo Man (1984)

(This post is also #1 in I Blame Society, a new, occasional series where I'll write about things I have liked since I was a kid.)
So I'm the sort of person who shows movies to friends. Inevitably I'll get round to showing them my favourite films. Because you do.

And when you love a thing, you become a bit blind, a bit deaf. When a new batch of international students moved into my house in September last, I showed a couple of them Excalibur, and at the end there was an exchange with one of the lads went like this:
Thanat: Yeah, that was good. So, uh, you've seen that film a lot of times?
Me: Um. Was I joining in with the dialogue?
Thanat: A bit.
And I don't know, there are some films I have just loved since I was a teenager and I've adored them so profoundly over the years that I am blind to their flaws.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

We Don't Go Back #41: Winter's Bone (2010)

I suppose what I need to say when I say some of the things I'm going to say about the USA in writing about Winter's Bone, is that it doesn't come from any place of imagined superiority. If there's anything we've learned in the last two years it's that the faultlines in British society are fully as deep and ragged as those on the other side of the Atlantic; they're just in different places, and when Liam Fox said the other week that we're the only Western nation who didn't have anything from our last hundred years of history we needed to sweep under the carpet, this was only because we've been so good at having already swept it under the carpet. Britons are profoundly ignorant about their own history.

But the faultlines are different.

Monday, 3 April 2017

We Don't Go Back #40: Midwinter of the Spirit (2015)

This isn't the first adaptation of a novel I've covered in this series, nor is it the first adaptation of a book I've not read, but I suppose Midwinter of the Spirit, the television serial, first broadcast in October 2015, is the first example I've looked at of an adaptation of a currently running genre series that has committed fans.