Balnacra Arts by Vicky Stonebridge

Films & TV, a round up of January’s viewing.

We watch a shameful about of films & drama series in the dark, cold winter months. After a day working on the computer and the frustrations of the internet. It is nice to wrap up under a duvet, next to the heater & watch some rubbish. We don’t watch TV and like many people this year, cancelled out BBC licence for political reasons, There may be occasional good documentaries on TV, the sinister social engineering of adverts and “reality” shows, the utter bias of any news, the programmes that stir up hatred and blame against minority groups, the freak pointing shows, the gender and age bias, the … No TV is nasty & toxic. So I cherry pick the zeitgeist via the internet for information instead. I’d like to say that I sit in my garret writing poems, reading philosophy and painting all the time instead, but no, we watch a shameful amount of entertainment, through Netflix, amazon prime ( booo hiss pay your taxes Amazon ) and youtube. But to re-claim some pious points, I do usually do something crafty while we do this, crochet, sewing, weaving etc.  When I was a youth, I used to love all those old black & white films that were screened in the afternoons, but I was always too busy doing stuff & living a young persons life to sit around watching stuff. I’d joke that when I’m old and in an Old folks home, I’d catch up on all the films I missed. There were a few chunks of my childhood when we didn’t have television, we certainly didn’t watch videos, I didn’t watch anything over my student years, or those young mother years living away from the madding crowd. So I think that the old age I joked about, has come early. Health stuff has taken away a lot of my previous energy to be up and about doing things, and so I am catching up with trashy viewing now. It’s great.

I get frustrated that I soon forget what I have or haven’t watched, unless it is something spectacular. I’m not a fan of reviews, because I have little interest in other people’s opinions beyond the jist of what something is about . But I thought I’d start to write up some of what I watch to try & make it less ‘throwaway’. We’re at the viewing stage where Andy is introducing me to all his favorite films & I am gradually facing horror genres I would not have touched with a barge pole previously. There are still some I won’t watch, but usually it is worse in my head. A break through for me in being able to watch gore, was playing an extra in some sort of horror film a couple of years ago, we had such a laugh running about screaming with fake wounds and blood, That I can now see the extras and effects when I watch nasties rather that thinking of it as real, like some of the stuff I saw in my real life fire brigade work. Meanwhile I’m introducing Andy to my favorites, some russian films, & box sets. We tend to explore genres in batches as one film leads to another one to dig out. This month has been a ‘blacksploitation’ season ( Not real Blacksploitation, they’re on the list, but films about Black history ) , last night was ‘clown night’.

So some of January’s viewing was this:

Twelve years a slave– 2013. A free man gets kidnapped and enslaved. A proper film, that i recommend everyone watch. heartbreaking, angering and shameful history. great performances.

Boyz in da Hood – 1991, strange storytelling in places, i was a bit lost by some time jumps, but very engaging & heartbreaking. Youths trying to make their way in a rough neighbour hood. Look out for some great lines from Laurence Fishbourne.

Red Tails – 2012. About an all black american spitfire squadon in WW2. cheesily told, interesting true story, some good main characters, while white characters dialogue was the hammiest rubbish. Watchable but predictable, made us go read the true story though.

Glory – 1989. American civil war, a company of black enlisted men is formed as a political exercise. again, watchable but nothing too challenging, But the story behind it was worth reading up. spoiled by the colonel, Matthew Broderick with the face & charisma of a 12 yr old.

The Wire. 2002. series 1. forgot how good this was, love it.

disenfranchised youth night;

La Haine, french, black & white 1995 stunning film about teens, tensions, riots & violence. Great performances. Powerful. Not a cheery film.

Dog Pound. 2010. More cliched, but engaging and heartbreaking story following three youths in ‘juvey’ in the USA. Doesn’t make the criminal justice system look too good.

on the french theme,
Goal of the dead, 2014. a different zombie film, zombies and football ? very enjoyable, funny, sweet and does the satire that zombie films should all be about very well.

Zombie hunter. 2013. Oh dear. trying to be grindhouse exploitation with fancy effects & edits, Danny Trejo on the cover is a bit misleading ( isn’t it always ? ) but the acting drags into back into dire generic trash asylum type horror. a team of stunningly awfully conceived characters read out their scripts against predictable gory deaths and purple spattered non dynamic hamminess. so quite enjoyable then.

Troll. 1986. Not as brilliantly ‘worst film ever’ as Troll 2. But very funny nevertheless, More fantasy than Horror, lots of slimey trolls and goblin puppets, kind of cute. The main characters are HARRY POTTER snr and jnr, I repeat-made in 1986. Would it be heresy to accuse some contemporary writers of plagiarism? Better not in case a mob of fans & lawyers come at me with pitchforks.

Killer Klowns from outer space– 1988. gives you what it says on the tin, your young teen kids would kind this funny, not too splattery, very ridiculous, mildly entertaining, not suitable for anyone with a clown phobia.

Restless natives- a charming 1985 tale of two scottish teen lads with a clown & wolf mask on a motorbike, who hijack & rob from coach loads of tourists. Funny and sweet in that ‘angels share’ or ‘local hero’ sort of scottish way.

Plague Dogs. animated version of Richard Adams book. brilliant, but do not watch if you are feeling fragile, like Adam’s Watership down, it will leave you traumatised. I’d read the book as a kid and that was probably the start of my animal rights, anti- vivisection stance. Not an easy story. animation & voice acting was great. beautifully textured scenes and backgrounds, very expressive animation on the animals. It will break your heart.

Dark star. a 1974 classic sci-fi comedy in space. a team of guys stranded far far away & things are not going well. Easy to see where so many familiar sci-fi motifs later came from, It looks crude now, but was clearly very influental. I loved it.

Top secret – 1984 If you like the humour of airplane & naked gun, you’ll like this. preposterous, un-PC and visual pun laden, with a baby Val kilmer as an elvis style rock star ..er fighting nazi’s in east germany..or something. The cow in the wellies is just classic. very funny.

sometimes we just click on something random, 5 along and 1 up ( that is my excuse & I’m sticking to it ) ;

Sabatage-2014. Arnie leads a maverick bunch of crazy black ops, cartels, corruption, bad guys and explosions. Not too bad actually.

Empire State. 2013. Dwayne the rock in is role as nice guy cop, in this true story of a massive Heist, told from the point of view of the security guy who may or may not have been not such a nice guy as he was portrayed. watchable but a bit unsatisfying.

Twin peaks, season 1. 1990. yep, still brilliant & mad.

Nathan Barley- only 1 season was made, hilarious and oh, so depressing, because it predicted the future. yes the idiots won. watch it! look out of an early baby Cumerbatch in it too. Charlie Brooker & Chris Morris, rip into contemporary idiocy.

Black sails,– 2014. Its pirates set before treasure island, an origins story, gorgeous costumes, fantastic sets, but season 1 left us bored and disengaged, plot seems to be held together by titillation, pouty girls & blokes so gravelly they can’t talk. some characters like Billy Bones are preposterous, all the acting charisma of David Beckham, clearly cast on the basis of his biceps. However, we are still watching and my series 2, have started to be interested in what happens next, a little. ( opening credits are marvelous though )

Arrow season 3. 2014.and the Flash season 1- 2014.really enjoying these two, they’ve managed to be quite different, while having cross overs and being set in the same world, Arrow is more dark & great fighting choreography & Flash is more weird ‘metahumans’, and the inevitable emotional conflicts ( yawn ) . enjoying.

Gotham- 2014. great! dark, grimey & the characters stand up well, doesn’t rely on fan familiarity.

The snow is on the ground, so i dare say we’ll have some more viewing before spring & the outdoors lures me away! Tune in for the next smashing episode !

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