Hey y’all I started a new blog!

So I’ve had mixed feelings about this blog and I’ve been meaning to try out some more vitriol driven writing, in the vein of early Charlie Brooker. So I’ve started a new blog called Political Suicide. I’ll be writing on a much narrower field of subjects mostly pop-culture and politics, although my first post covers writing on the internet.

So I may still post to Habitual Writing but mostly when I want to write about something more serious or to document work that I posted to Inglourious Fiction.

This is just a message to the few followers I have on here that I will be blogging on a much more regular basis on more topical things at https://politicalsuicideblog.wordpress.com/ so head on over and see what kind of horrible things I’ll be writing. Please share my work if you like it, I honestly think it has improved and is worth having a read of, especially if you’re into a more cynical style of writing.

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Dracula Untold review

Dracula Untold is one of those films you’ll find yourself questioning after having seen the film. Not that the plot issues won’t be noticeable at first but the acting is all around good to very good so you won’t question them for long. Visually the film resembles Game of Thrones with occasional winks at 300. In terms of plot it mirrors the latter.

The plot centres around a heroic version of Vlad the Impaler played by Luke Evans, here resembling a cross between Kit Harington and Orlando Bloom. In this film Dracula tries out the vampire curse for a trial period (presumably it comes with a guarantee) in a desperate effort to save Transylvania from some really dumb Turkish invaders. Although considering the limited amount of time he has vampire powers for he still apparently has time to sit in a tent for a bit and get some moping out of the way.

Sadly not much stands out in Dracula Untold, save for a villainous performance from Charles Dance. A lot of it goes the way you might imagine it goes, but being formulaic isn’t the issue. The action scenes are dull or hastily edited, very few characters get developed, the internal logic is scatter shot, and the overall premise is in need of some reworking. All these issues make the film seem very rushed.

But I don’t really dislike this film. There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense but it’s pretty engaging and a sincere, although the lack of blood in pursuit of a PG-13 rating is irksome. I can’t really say that I recommend Dracula Untold, maybe wait for it on DVD if you’re desperate for fantasy battles or new vampire films (but you’re somehow okay with a lack of blood).

One of the biggest problems I have with the film is its incredibly casual relationship with logic. For instance to prevent his troops from getting scared of Dracula the Turkish Sultan decides to blindfold his entire army, claiming “What you can’t see, can’t scare you” (I’m paraphrasing), since when has that ever been true; apart from in Daredevil. Also the film pushes the concept of silver being the weakness of vampires, which I guess is fine, the “rules” of vampires get redefined all the time, but I’m fairly certain a silver sword is not going to make for an effective weapon. Much of the weaknesses of vampires are ill defined in the film, I wasn’t sure how much Dracula needed covering from direct sunlight; at some points it looks like he can be protected with toilet paper and Kleenex.

Apparently Universal are hoping to relaunch their old movie monsters so they could have another try at a big crossover film, and seeing them stumble at the first hurdle makes me doubt we’ll be seeing it any time soon.

Positives
The acting is all around decent and the premise of Dracula fighting in a medieval setting is enough to carry this short feature.

Negatives

The plot is convenient, the action and warfare scenes are average at best and illogical and stupid at worst. Hardly any of the side characters are developed beyond being generally nice people, not helped by some shoddy dialogue.

Bottom line

Meh. There honestly isn’t that much to talk about besides the gaping plot holes. But there is sincerity to the film that’s actually quite rare in many genre films these days. Very little is played for comedy and despite being predictable it actually steers clear from many of the clichés you might expect from a fantasy film.

Score: 5/10

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Horns review.

Have you ever wondered what Daniel Radcliffe would look like playing a villain or anti-hero? Well Horns is here to answer that question…It’s bad. I initially had mixed feelings about Horns because I was actually enjoying some of the mystery and premise. Too bad the rest of the film is a floundering mess.

The premise sounded pretty interesting. Daniel Radcliffe plays Ig Perrish (seriously?) whose girlfriend is found murdered, and he is the prime suspect. Almost everyone in the small logging town Ig lives in believes he is guilty. Suddenly, without any explanation, Ig starts to grow horns and people begin confessing their sins and doing terrible things around him. That, right there, is an interesting setup for a murder mystery. Ig can make people confess, but the power puts him at risk.

Right from the beginning, the film has some serious script problems. The film suffers from cringe inducing dialogue and pacing that throws suspense and build-up out of the window, along with subtlety. The opening scene is barely a minute long and that is all we see of Ig’s girlfriend prior to her being killed. The rest of her screen time is taken up in flashbacks that do nothing to help characterize their relationship. Their entire relationship isn’t wholly unbelievable but we’re never presented with a reason to care about Ig’s girlfriend (she has a name, but remembering it would suggest anything about her stuck with me). We’re told about how nice she is and we occasionally see flashbacks of her and Ig Perrish saying how much they love each other, but not much beyond that. In that respect, it suffers the same problem Twilight suffers, the script gives nothing for the onscreen couple to do beyond drool at each other.

The decent moments of the film are the mystery and the dark humour. Sometimes Ig’s strange powers can force people to do whatever sinful or debauched act they secretly want to do, and sometimes this makes for some amusing moments. The mystery of who killed Ig’s girlfriend has a few red herrings and spanners in the works lending ambiguity to whether or not it might be him. That said there’s not enough of either of these things. The dark comedy is hit-and-miss, and the mystery ends up raising more questions when the film reaches its ludicrous conclusion.

Horns is littered with Biblical allusions and symbolism, all of which is dreadfully simplified and contrived. Throughout a large portion of the film, Ig carries around a pitchfork for no real reason beyond “Do you get it? He’s turning into the devil, do you get it?” No, strangely enough having the main character sprout devil horns and cuddling snakes was far too complex a metaphor.

The performances are all pretty lousy, but I wonder how much of that is because of the ridiculous lines the script has the actors say. Many of the characters throughout the film don’t seem too bothered about Ig’s horns; the film’s explanation is a throwaway line that equates to people forgetting the horns when they look away. I actually kind of like this idea, but it does very little to explain why people look bored whenever Ig shows up, possibly because they heard his crowbarred narration and are starting to zone out.

I got the idea that no one involved in this film has any idea how illegal drugs or the murder trials work. We see nothing of Ig’s trial, or the police investigation. Ig never takes any real initiative, with the ability to make people confess you’d think he’d go around with a camera or a Dictaphone, but no. He expects people to take his word that people are lying, which they occasionally do, as the plot demands.

Give this one a pass, unless you REALLY need to watch Daniel Radcliffe in something or were looking for a film that resembles a rejected lab experiment attempting to splice together Twin PeaksGone Girl, and Twilight.

Pros

I found Daniel Radcliffe’s acting to be fairly decent and David Morse is also pretty good. You can have a little bit of fun guessing who the real killer is and laughing at the dark humour (when it isn’t being kinda maybe not sure if homophobic).

Cons

The pacing and the script are all over the place. The final act contains a hacky heel turn and a deus ex machina fight, much of plot holes could be easily explained with a single line of dialogue but go completely unchallenged, the flashbacks are mostly tedious and felt way too long, the relationship the audience is supposed to care about consists of people saying how nice the couple were together. The whole film falls apart like it was stuck together with used sticky tape.

3/10

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Adaptation Analysis- Blade Runner

(For this review I’ll be looking at the directors cut)

I don’t think it’s been mentioned enough times that I like Philip K Dick. A vastly under appreciated writer when he was alive he died relatively poor. Also he died just before the first of many adaptations of his work was completed, Blade Runner, an adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Not gonna lie, the movie title is catchier.

Both are the story of an Earth in a state of decay. Like other Philip K Dick works, off world colonization is cynically presented as the future of humanity. The humans in off world colonies use androids as servants or slave labour. In the novel they are called Andys, in the film they are called Replicants. Once again, slightly cooler sounding name. However the androids have emotions (except for empathy) and often try to break free of their lives of bondage to go to Earth and live as fugitives. Six androids leave Mars for Earth and are tracked by the Bounty Hunter/Blade Runner Rick Deckard. Both works bring up the question of where the boundary between android and human lie.

Apparently Philip K Dick really liked what Ridley Scott was doing with the production of Blade Runner despite the fact that Ridley Scott had never read the book. Through my extensive research of five seconds on Wikipedia I found out that instead of reading the novel, Ridley Scott just sat down with Philip K Dick and discussed it with him instead. Honestly one really does get that feeling from experiencing both. Huge swathes of the book are removed from the film. Despite this I think of Blade Runner as a faithful adaptation. Both works discuss the nature of empathy and how it relates to being human. The novel discusses this through the religion of Mercerism. Mercerism is a religion where people share emotions through an electronic box placed in almost every home. The device establishes emotional equilibrium with everyone using it at the time. There is a scene where Deckard’s wife uses the box because she is elated, she feels a moral imperative to share this happiness with others at the cost of her own. Mercerism is noticeably absent from the film so instead the film relies more heavily on the relationship between Rick Deckard and Rachel, a replicant whose been implanted with false memories in order to believe that she is human. The two have a romantic relationship that is far deeper than the one explored in the novel. In the novel she is more what we expect from a being devoid of empathy, she acts as a pawn of the Rosen Corporation (the company that makes androids, in the film they are called the Tyrell corporation) in stopping Deckard from killing (retiring) the escaped androids. She does this by sleeping with Deckard to distract him. However in the film they sleep together for less duplicitous reasons. It’s a more loving relationship than what we see in the novel. Deckard in the film decides to run off with Rachel after he has exposed to her the shattering news that she’s not a real human, her memories are fake. He immediately feels sorry for doing this and attempts to make up for it, falling for her in the process, in spite of the fact that she isn’t a real human.

Like with most Philip K Dick works there is no small amount of ambiguity when it comes to whether or not the reality you are presented with is the one you are supposed to believe. The reality we call into question here is whether or not Deckard is human. Both show us that androids can be given fake memories. The novel shows the lengths the Rosen Corporation goes to in maintaining the illusion to the androids who are none the wiser, whereas the film shows the emotional impact of unaware androids discovering their true nature. Both shiny sides to a brilliant coin. But the question is raised as to whether or not Rick Deckard is human. Philip K Dick said yes. On the flip side, Ridley Scott said no. I take both sides with both works, but not because the creators said so. Personally I believe the story of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has more weight to it and is far more morally ambiguous if Rick Deckard is human. Rick Deckard’s biggest desire seems to be fitting in, he does display empathy but he’s often cold and distant, especially considering the work he does. In the novel, pets are presented as a means of displaying ones humanity, the fact that you care for an animal is seen as very human. Deckard uses this pretty coldly as a status symbol over anything else. His flirtations with empathy don’t disguise his cold nature and one realises he isn’t too far off from the androids he hunts down. With the film I tend to believe that Deckard is a replicant, partially because less focus is given to empathy being the defining factor between humans and androids, partly because more emphasis is placed on how memory can replicated, but mostly because of this theory: http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/teamt/leon-thomas/renegade-cut/41976-blade-runner-and-the-memories-of-gaff

Not only does this theory make for interesting musing, but it also establishes a human connection between replicants and humans.

Some people see Blade Runner as an unfaithful adaptation. One that chops up the source material. Well I’d have to agree that it chops up the source material but I believe the film hits all the right notes. The atmosphere of both is very bleak, especially the parts with Isidore. A sense of a crumbling high tech city is captured quite brilliantly here. I see this adaptation as symbiotic. It take the concept and themes of the novel and explores them in different ways. That’s not easy to accomplish but I feel Ridley Scott pulled it off, so there’s a film that can veer in a slightly different direction to the novel without being a complete misfire.

 

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Nineties nostalgia.

Now that generation Y has grown up and left home it’s been remarkably quick at getting nostalgic. You can’t go five minutes without someone popping on their rose tinted spectacles to talk about how they remember Nokias or how owning a Nintendo 64 was great. I didn’t have a Nintendo 64, presumably because my parents saw the controller and thought to themselves “Andrew doesn’t have three hands, lets get him a Playstation instead.” A wise move on their part because I regarded the N64 controller with contempt and still do (regardless of how good the console may have been the controller was bloody awful, you can admit it).

For the most part I have no time for nostalgia. Especially from my parents’ generation. “I remember when a bag of chips cost you three shillings”. That’s all well and good but you’re also getting bleary eyed at pre-decimalized currency so I wonder how well placed this nostalgia is. Personally I’d love to live in this halcyon paradise the middle aged and elderly cooked up, just to compare it to today. Despite the embellishment they add I’d still probably prefer today, due to the incredible gift of high speed internet and the fact that racism isn’t quite the accepted hobby it used to be.

Trying to unite everybody in widespread nostalgia just irritates and confuses me. Surely everyone’s nostalgia is unique, so why the sudden rush to label nineties childhood? The rampant nostalgia for the nineties just has a bunch of people mentioning that stuff existed a few years back. Wow the Lion King movie came out a while ago, I’m practically senile.

My point is that very few people from my generation seem to enjoy explaining why they’re nostalgic for something. So here’s a list of things from the nineties (and early 2000’s because I was only eight when the decade ended) that I’m genuinely nostalgic for.

1) Top of the Pops
Being associated with a paedophile in garish clothes doesn’t make this show look good in hindsight. In fact it wasn’t good. It was frequently awful. But it was a staple of my childhood for a long time. I was kind of sad to see it go. I won’t pretend it’s just a nineties thing, I get that it’d been an institution for years. But it was a fairly regular occurrence at my house that my dad would make curry and him, me and my sister would sit around wondering why all the music was so shit. Thus a snarky arsehole was born. I remember trying to persuade my dad and sister to watch it so we could crack jokes at it, they’d refuse for a while but eventually cave since nothing else was on. Whereupon I’d try to be clever by saying it was all crap.

2) Robot Wars
This is a show I find actually does pretty well in hindsight. Alright the fights aren’t as climactic as you expect but dammit commentator Jonathon Pearce is selling it like it’s the bloody apocalypse. His commentary is so engrossing it makes me think about watching football if only to hear his hyper excited voice. All the people involved really try to get into their respective roles, Philippa Forrester, Julia Reed, and Jayne Middlemiss all tried their best to act alluring around people trying to be boring. And Craig Charles just goes nuts, he’s like a metalhead on speed. He always acts overly enthusiastic around people who never have much to say. A typical end of match interview went something like this.
Craig: What a match! Death Hunter, you guys were incredible! That is a hell of a machine you guys have built there. So what were your tactics?
Death Hunter: Well we were thinking of basically just trying to get them near the house robots really.
Craig: Yeah well, once Sir Killalot gets his hands on you there’s no going back is there?
Death Hunter: Yeah…
Craig: Well done guys you’re now through to the SERIES SEMI-FINAL! (crowd cheers) How do you feel?
Death Hunter: Pretty good. We were hoping we’d get through.

How can you not love that?

3) Dungeon Keeper 2
One of my favourite games of all time. I mean what can I say about this game? Well it had a deliciously dark sense of humour, the gameplay was fun and strategic keeping you constantly busy, it was easy to pick up and play but as your dungeon got bigger it helped to use more advanced tactics to micromanage it. The design was cartoonish but still steeped in its dark roots. Nothing is more satisfying than saving up for a great big prison to stick good guys in so they don’t stink up the corridors with their slimy corpses.

4) Point and click/FMV Games
Something that hasn’t aged well. The association with Full Motion Video is probably one of the reasons the point and click genre is dying. I was always really rubbish at these games (save for the Muppet Treasure Island one which was basically a slideshow of the film) but they still hold a special place in my withered heart. There’s something incredibly charming about the way characters would revert from one passive pose to the next, like a poorly made looping gif that also happened to be grainy. And the less said about the acting the better. The minute I figure out how I can make these games work on my laptop I’m probably going to be gone for a day (most of it spent looking up lets plays of the games because I’m shit at them). Won’t be playing the movie tie-in ones though, unless I get lost on the Starship Titanic again.

5) Pokemon
Blah blah blah Pokemon was a thing. Seriously though, credit where it is due, Nintendo didn’t create a wave in pop culture and marketing, it created a tsunami with a lasting impact upon the impressionable minds of a generation. My first memories of Pokemon was seeing an advert on television and completely not getting the idea. I thought it was a cartoon about balls and somehow monsters were involved. I thought it was going to be shit. And you know what? It was.
Yeah, Pokemon the anime? Doesn’t hold up. It barely made sense at the best of times and the movie was hypocritical with its message. The games however totally do. I, like every child, never played the card game properly, but looking at the rules now? I wish I had, energy cards weren’t so annoying to get once you figured out what they were for. I dabble in CCGs now but nothing will compare to that rush of picking out I used to get as a child. The Gameboy Game? Still good.

Things I’m less nostalgic for from the nineties include: Slobodan Milošević being alive, Teletubies, Gaelic television (I lived in Scotland), Golden Grahams being seen as the cool alternative to Cinnamon Grahams, The Spice Girls, being completely out of the loop with Dragon Ball Z, and being too young to understand television scheduling.

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Five “issues” I had with my Creative Writing degree.

****DISCLAIMER. The author actually enjoyed The Creative Writing Course he did and doesn’t mean half the mean spirited things said. The other half he did mean. Because he’s mean. Seriously though, best three years of my life.****
A while ago I told my friends I was doing a Creative Writing course and after the initial reaction of “Why would you ever do that?” some people were actually surprised to see that I went ahead and did it. Shortly after a couple of friends from back home decided to do the same, hah! Now I can stand on the lofty tower of experience and act snobby around my old friends.

1) You will NEVER be a best seller. Lecturers mostly consist of writers who’s primary income is not writing. This is hardly a surprise as there are only so many people to whom writing is a primary source of income. It’s also something they will tell you about over and over. The disparity between really rich authors and the rest is quite astounding. Not unnaturally the lecturers don’t want to hype you up by giving you a set list of what will make a best seller because no one is quite sure what will be a best seller. And more often than not best sellers tend to be disposable easy reading, so having entire classes creating disposable easy reading won’t result in a bunch of best sellers, it’ll end up being mediocre at best. So the lecturers try to impart some kind of artistic merit upon their students, for better or worse.

2) Grades depend heavily upon the individual tastes of the marker. A sadly true facet of any arts degree is how much your tastes and the tastes of the lecturers match. The best you can hope for is a decent variety of teaching staff with varying tastes. I’ve had short stories that I thought were mediocre get high praise whereas stories I spent half a year working on get sniffed at. It’s hard to tell what a lecturer is going to enjoy, I found the best way to gauge their reaction was to book a tutorial with the lecturers and talk about your ideas first. For instance one of our lecturers seemed to have a preemptive disdain for anything that wasn’t realism or poetry. Naturally he’s not the right lecturer to give my science fiction work to. That said on my course there was one genre that seemed to rank incredibly highly on everyone’s favourite kind of writing and that was post-modernism.

3) Post-Modernism. You either get it or you don’t. Apparently one of my favourite authors, Philip K Dick, is Post-Modern. But out of the glut of stuff our lecturers showed us I couldn’t anything resembling his work. Experimental writing is just one of those things you’ll have to learn about. And you’ll hate it. If you don’t hate it then everyone hates you for being a simpering sack of pretentiousness (I’m kind of kidding). There’s something incredibly backwards about telling people to break the rules. I tried but apparently my fourth wall breaking bit about a dinosaur having a chat with me about where to find a fish and chip shop wasn’t quite weird or rule breaking enough. Occasionally something decent will get recommended but more often than not the end of the lecture will just end up having lots of confused and irritated students. Maybe I’m just bitter.

4) All aboard the hate train! When I was doing my course the hate train for Twilight was just pulling out of the station and some of our classes devolved into people bashing the train window trying to get in to say their piece about a book everyone realised was crap two years ago. It happened every other lecture, someone would bring up the damn book and then the class would morph into some demented gladiatorial arena with everyone cheering on the murder of that one person who thought it was alright. I thought it was all over until Fifty Shades of Grey came out and renewed everyone’s loathing for demographic pandering bollocks. Perhaps now that’s gone the massive amounts of bile staining the floors of classrooms and lecture theaters will come to an end, but I don’t reckon so, doubtless something else will come along to ensure the lecturers never get to talk about post-modern writers because everyone has boarded a new locomotive of seething anger.

5) An honest workshop is hard to come by. No one will ever say to your face “You are terrible”. The worst criticism I ever had from a classmate was “It’s not my thing” because he didn’t like fantasy. This means it’s hard to tell if someone is genuinely enjoying your work unless you’ve written comedy. Mostly people will offer vague praise with the occasional critique of the odd sentence. Behind your back however someone will no doubt say “You know that Andrew, across from Dave?” “Yeah?” “You ever read some of his poems?” “Uh-huh.” “Is it just me or are they a bit shit?” Once that first barrier breaks it’s all they’ll talk about. It’s hard to tell what genuinely annoys people about your writing unless you find people who you can really trust to be honest. The trouble with finding honest people is that the lecturer will then do the school teacher thing where they try to get everyone to mingle with people they’ve never met and the entire process for finding a trustworthy critic begins again.

Ways to cope with some of these issues.

1) Just accept this. If writing is what you want to do then money won’t be a motivating factor. Some of the best artists in the world had to get second jobs to make ends meet. Writing jobs aren’t the easiest to come by, but with the internet being a thing they are more numerous now, with companies wanting content writers etc. Mostly people who want you to write in a clear, eligible, and grammatically correct fashion.

2) This isn’t always a bad thing. If it weren’t for this fact I wouldn’t have tried different styles and read different books. I could have been stuck in a niche for a long time. If you came into Creative Writing with a very specific idea about what you want your book to be then the course can be an eye opener to new possibilities. Alternatively it could just make you more sure of what it is you want to write, in which case what harm did it do? That said your sprawling sci-fi epic might not get all the feedback you want because you’re trying to bow to a specific lecturer’s tastes. That said if you manage to get a decent grade in a genre you dislike you can always come away with the comfort that you can write well in something, which could have some potential if you keep at it.

3) Ehh, it is rather ignorant to write off all of experimental writing but I can guarantee most students will hate it. Still it’s worth having a look at. Not everyone is going to enjoy a trip to London but it’s worth going. Personally I found both to be confusing and so full of crap that it’s difficult to focus. I didn’t learn nothing from experimental writing. There are plenty of techniques to pick up, cut-up, stream of consciousness, non-linear story telling etc. Some of the ideas you’ll like and some you’ll hate. Personally I loathed a novel where only two chapters had an order, the beginning and end, the rest could be put together in any order, I regarded it as a terrible idea.

4) Message boards, forums, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging sites. Go and whine on one of those. I was enjoying some of the hatred towards populist shite for a while until it started being every other lecture. Then I stopped caring. Apathy swiftly turned into antipathy and I desperately wanted the topic of conversation in seminars to be anything else, whatever the lecturer had planned might be nice. If you find you’re ranting about a specific book you hate every lecture you are part of the problem and are a boring person. Read something else. Because the moment THAT book gets mentioned everyone else in the class is hoping it’s passed by the sensitive ears of Boring McDullpants and they all collectively switch off the moment their hand goes up.

5) I’d say be honest with people but the moment you shit on someone’s work they’ll be waiting for a chance to shit on you. This happened with presentations. One person grilled all the other students, saying how shit they thought their idea was, and then when they went up all the questions weren’t from curious classmates but from rapid rage monsters wanting to show up the poor bastard. If it’s a presentation be polite and reserve your criticism for the genuinely constructive. Most people hate presentations. As for critiquing work I’d save it for the really glaring issues you have with the work they are showing you. If you absolutely loath what they are showing you then just pick out a few especially loathsome parts. Some people like licorice after all, and there will be one person in the class hailing the stuff you hate as brilliant; best you can do it advise they take away the extraneous bits of awful to make it slightly less awful. They aren’t going to change their whole style for you remember. They do that for the lecturers.

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ABCs of Death.

ABCs of Death is a curious film my friend showed me on Netflix. It’s an anthology of 26 short vignettes by different directors all centered around adult concepts. It’s got a rather unfair low rating on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, something I will not stand for because this movie is completely and totally OK.

If I summarise the plot driven shorts I’ll spoil their plots, so I’ll try not to give anything away.

I’m rather fond of the old anthology films from the 1980s like Creepshow and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. They’ve got a rather camp charm and occasionally do offer genuine scares. The trouble with vignettes is there’s often very little time to establish character and without empathy it’s hard to establish true fear for a character’s safety. This is the primary problem with ABCs of Death, the vignettes are so short that I don’t particularly care for the characters because I know bugger all about them, so when they’re chopped to tiny bits I don’t care. The first one is a rather dull sit, where a woman tries to torture a bed ridden man to death because of the apocalypse or some nonsense. And while it’s true there is some rather dull sits a fair chunk of the film is surprisingly good, ranging from funny, to poignant, to disturbing. R is for Removed stuck out as a rather brilliant metaphor for the strain put upon creatives by corporate crowd pleasers. J is for Jidai-geki was weirdly funny and cartoonish with decent practical effects, taking something a somber and dour as ritual suicide (sepuku) and giving it a tongue in cheek tone.

But that doesn’t detract from the bad parts. O is for Orgasm is as boring and pandering as you think it would be. Oooh artsy montage of a pretty lady sensually rubbing her body, shot against a black background whilst she sighs. This would be trite even for a music video. It’s hard to say new things about what humanity has been doing since before it gained sentience but one would think a prerequisite to say anything on the subject would first be to actually experience it. Yes, that was a lengthy way of calling the director a virgin.

W is for WTF! is just baffling. Not because it’s a series of incoherent images, but because it made it into the final cut and the film’s producer didn’t throw it out for being lazy. Literally, they tell you they had no ideas and then it gets inter cut with wild and wacky imagery. And when what comes next is arguably the most disturbing part of the whole film it really shows up this segment.

So the two parts you may have heard of were X is for XXL and L is for Libido. X is for XXL made me wince a lot more because despite the camera cutting away during much of the… cutting, we are still are shown something very visceral and very uncomfortable through some good practical effects. Although it’s not awfully realistic, I’m built out of small twigs and hair so it’s hard for me to relate but I don’t think people openly jeer in the faces of large women. L is for Libido just made questions for me. My friend was really disturbed by it but I ended up asking myself questions about the secret society. How big are the breaks between rounds? It seems to be quite a bit if the protagonist can jizz that much, but he gets progressively tired so maybe he’s sleep deprived. When were they told to start masturbating? And is this a tournament where his opponents have all jerked off to things or are they new? X is for XXL is more tight (for want of a better word) and shows you everything you need to know leaving very little to the imagination. It’s grotesque and tragic.

The animated sections have a strange obsession with toilet humour and I have to applaud a better approach to toilet humour from small indie directors than whatever Happy Madison shits out and gets paid shitloads for (mention shit a lot and get paid shitloads… poop). Because the humour in toilet humour first comes from the humour, not from the mere mention of human fecal matter with the assumption that we’ll all guffaw loudly and finally experience relief as a cultural boundary is flushed away. That cultural boundary disappeared long ago, I’m part of a generation that was sold a series of super hero books based on toilet humour when we were ten, poop humour needs to actually tell a joke. Fortunately the animated shorts in ABCs of Death are both funny and delightfully weird.

By the end of it I was rather surprised. For some reason I was expecting more nudity. Maybe I’m just a filthy pervert corrupted by Game of Thrones. But then the ending came along and it battered me over the head with gratuitous amounts of tits, dicks, and weird imagery. From what I could glean it was about Japanese-American relations and how someone exploits some other person and it was honestly too difficult to focus when a Japanese woman has a punch up against a big boobied blonde woman with a giant strap on flopping around. You’ll have to excuse my lack of insight into this bit, but I find it hard to analyse when Ilsa She Wolf of the SS strips off, puts on a two foot cock, and shoves it in the camera.

As a sci-fi fan I got a vibe of Dangerous Visions from the whole thing. Now, of course Dangerous Visions is more intelligent all around (although some parts of this film could easily replace parts of Dangerous Visions). The whole thing has a kind of auteur feel to it, despite having numerous directors. Like Dangerous Visions the editor/producer set out to make something that would shock and push boundaries. But unlike Dangerous Visions I feel it might just be trying to be shocking for the sake of attention, whereas Dangerous Visions was testing the waters of a new writing style. I feel like the most shocking parts were shocking because they made me think, not because I thought “Oh heck that looks rather grim”. This actually raises a good point about shocking imagery, I regard myself as rather hard to shock and so the best way to shock me is to show me grim stuff and make me think about it. Why is this person doing this? Is there an escape? Am I like that? Which is what the best bits of this film did.

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