Weekly Ramble No. 11

Okay, so I just want to get this one out of the way first, since it deserves no more of my time. I spent over two hours watching the pile of steaming bullshit that is Now You See Me 2 and basically agree with everything in this breakdown from those guys at ‘Everything Wrong With…’:

Watching this 20min bitch-fest was certainly more enjoyable and entertaining than watching the film. Moving on… Entirely more entertaining were the remaining two episodes of series 3 of Black Mirror on Netflix.

‘Men Against Fire’ was a look into advanced technology and augmented reality in a near-future military. the story came across as a skilful mash-up by DJ Charlie Brooker of Nazi ideology, the Bourne Ultimatum and a Vietnam movie, although it was based in a European rural location. It was another excellently bleak piece of writing with good performances from Madeline Brewer (Orange is the New Black) as an indoctrinated army grunt and Malachi Kirby, who I vaguely recognise from a Dr Who episode, as the lead whose implants go glitchy.

‘Hated in the Nation’ is a feature length finale for the third series and features the familiar faces of Faye Marsay (Game of Thrones), Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting) and Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange). It is the story of hate figures and their haters (using social media to show their hate) having justice dispensed upon them in the form of robotic killer bees. It was a great finale and I can’t wait for the next series to arrive on our screens. In the mean time I will cherrypick some episodes to watch again with Siggy.

On normal television Homeland has finally got interesting. We’re a couple of episodes behind after our trip to Dublin and Siggy having another weekend away, but we’ve finally seen some proper action. A bomb has gone off in the city and Peter Quinn has gone fully PTSD paranoid and kicked some ass. Carrie has found herself in the middle of a big conspiracy on American soil and the title all of a sudden becomes more relevant that ever.

Seems perhaps that recent events would suggest that terrorists would in fact go for a low-fi approach and the makers were obviously banking on Hilary Clinton winning the election, so when it was once imitating real life it now seems a little divergent. However sometimes I feel it’s better to watch a fiction than dwell on what’s really happening out there.

On disc, I watched one episode of Star Wars: Rebels Season 2 and then Star Wars: Clone Wars The Lost Missions arrived from Germany so I shelved Rebels for the week. There’s an English language option for the menus on The Lost Mission, the dialogue is in the original English and it was a lot cheaper than buying it from the US. Plus it was guaranteed to work in my player. The boxed set includes what got made for Season 6 before it was canned and for a fan of the show it is essential viewing. It deals with the following important topics:

  • How the clones could eventually bring themselves to execute Order 66 to wipe out the Jedi in Episode III
  • The difference between the ‘living force’ and the ‘cosmic force’ and further insight into the nature of midichlorians
  • The fate of Sifo Dyas, the Jedi who ordered the clone army to be created
  • How Yoda is able to manifest himself after his death in the same way as Obi Wan and Anakin (and Qui-Gon Jinn in Clone Wars).

There’s an Ashoka Tano sized hole in most episodes but she does make a fleeting appearance as an illusion in the trials of Yoda and there’s some excellent referencing of events in Episode III and beyond in some of his visions. There is only one extra but it is a valuable one – a short but touching mini-documentary about the making of the show, the staff at Skywalker ranch and George Lucas’s involvement.

Book-wise, I’m plugging on with The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. ‘A Death’ is a did-he-didn’t-he? Western story of a man accused of killing a young girl after a couple of afternoon drinks. More interesting perhaps than the tale, which has a flat twist, is King’s decision to tell this story in a rather passive style not at all like his usual writing.

It’s another short one that had me craving for something longer to get my teeth into like a dog wolfing down a cocktail sausage when he really wants a juicy bone. Can you hear my TWSS alarm going off? So far the bazaar hasn’t really gripped me like previous collections such as Different Seasons or Full Dark, No Stars, but I carried on.

‘The Bone Church’ is a rare Robert Browning-esque poem – King is not known for publishing his poetry. It’s an oddly laid out tale told from the point of view of the sole survivor of a trip into the jungle to find an elephant graveyard. It’s enjoyable once it gets into it’s stride (or the reader gets used to the layout) with the memorable line ‘there’s maps inside your maps’.

In ‘Morality’ Nora is made an offer she can’t refuse – a life changing amount of money for her and struggling husband Chad – if she films herself committing a sin for the viewing pleasure of the rich old man she is primary carer for. The sin is done – an act of violence against an innocent as opposed to anything sexual – and the story becomes one of the breakdown of Nora’s character as a result.

I found the tale disappointingly tame and as a morality piece rather predictable. I’m 186 pages into this collection I’m wondering if I’m going to continue to be disappointed. Am I expecting too much, have I become desensitised to the type of horrors revealed, or has King gone off the boil? I hope not. We’ll see; there’s over 300 pages to go.

Meanwhile I’m still reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – a big book in Kindle format. I’m thoroughly enjoying it as it’s unlike anything I normally read. I’m also making good progress with reading Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces book at lunchtimes in work.

In terms of listening, we’re not entirely unexpectedly having a bit of a Depeche Mode phase in our house and cars, and on Spotify I’ve been unimpressed by 3/4 of The Gorrilaz recent track releases. Seems I may have irreversibly slipped off the cutting edge with Mr Albarn et al this time.

Image: taken by me at a ComicCon event in 2012.

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