Weekly Ramble No. 33

There wasn’t an episode of Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams on Channel 4 yesterday because they chose to show the Formula 1 instead. Lewis Hamilton won again. Whoopee Doo! I didn’t watch it, but I did watch an odd bunch of stuff on my telly-box. Preacher on Amazon and Bojack Horseman on Netflix were shared watching with Siggy and I was very pleased to start watching Mr Robot Season Three on Amazon. One of these days I will force Siggy to watch it through from the start with me as I’m convinced she will like it.

Lady GaGa’s Five Foot Two documentary on Netflix was rather more interesting than the patched together George Michael documentary last week on Channel 4. Both have left me listening to Wham! Final in the car and GaGa’s Joanne album (the release of which I completely overlooked as I had inadvertently not chosen to follow her on Spotify despite her being my guilty pleasure ever since ‘Paparazzi’ landed). I’m listening to the jazzy album she did with Tony Bennett called Cheek to Cheek while I’m typing this and it’s slightly distracting if I’m honest. Not a big fan of that style of music tbh.

Joanne is a lot different to her other pop albums thanks perhaps to Mark Ronson’s involvement and is reflection on her stripped back personal appearance in just a black teeshirt, cut off denim and sometimes a pink cowboy hat. There’s a lot more acoustic sounding instrumentation and the album showcases GaGa’s excellent voice rather than any groundbreaking electronic dance music. Sure some tracks such as ‘Perfect Illusion’ fall a little flat, but when they’re surrounded by the likes of ‘Million Reasons’, the heartfelt ‘Joanne’ and ‘A-YO’ it makes a pretty good album.

Five Foot Two is a revealing look into her life during the recording of the album and the preparations for the Superbowl half-time performance. It’s amazing how driven she is for instance getting make up done for an interview in a hospital room while a medical specialist is injecting her with pain killing drugs to stop her chronic full-body pain she’s suffered since breaking her hip a few years ago. I just thought throughout that she could do with a good holiday and some sleep. She seemed far more sane in the documentary than her interview on Graham Norton would lead you to believe and she seems to have put a lot of her past demons well and truly behind her. The documentary seemed a lot more honest than the rather sanitised George Michael documentary that Siggy and I watched last week.

It was a disappointment not to see her Superbowl performance included in the documentary but it was easy enough to find on YouTube and she rocked it. While I was on YouTube I found the three Blade Runner 2049 shorts:

Black Out 2022 was created by legendary anime director Shinichiro Watanabe and tells the action-packed story of the Replicants after the events of Blade Runner and the EMP-induced blackout experienced by Los Angeles with spinners crashing from the sky and Tyrell’s databases getting wiped out to cover Deckard and Rachael’s tracks. It’s the longest of the shorts and definitely the best. The other two are live action starring two of the stars of the film.

Nexus Dawn is set in 2036 and focuses on Tyrell’s successor, Wallace (Jared Leto) in a meeting with government officials to discuss the embargo on the construction of new replicants. The embargo is in place because of their terrorist activities in 2022. Wallace demonstrates that a new model of Nexus replicants will obey orders to the letter and are identified by a code in their right eyeballs.

2048 follows a replicant called Sapper (Dave Bautista). Sapper sells some kind of worms in a typical Blade Runnery market place and then defends the honour of a woman and her young daughter by beating their attackers to a pulp. This display leads to a pesky informant calling the cops to report that he’s seen a rogue skin job which I guess leads to K checking out his grub farm in Blade Runner 2049.

On the subject of science fiction sequels, Siggy and I watched Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. It was pretty laughable, badly acted, badly written with a hugely predictable screenplay-by-numbers ending featuring an ultimate sacrifice, resurrection and hero’s reward all within five minutes of the final credits thankfully rolling. It would be nice to see a live-action film based on the storyline of the original console games rather than the hyperreal kick-assery of Milla Jovovich with Paul W. S. Anderson’s awful penchant for a million cuts in each fight sequence – it was almost nausea inducing at times. The creature designs were pretty good but I’m not a big fan of zombie films at the best of times and this certainly was more like the worst of times. Thank God it purports to be the final warmed up dog’s dinner on the conveyor belt.

Science fiction of a more contemporary nature was played out in the awfully titled I Origins which I recorded off Film4 some time ago and finally got around to watching. This tells the tale of some scientists who discover that people’s irises aren’t all unique as we have been led to believe. Moreover, the person with the duplicate eyes appears to possibly be a reincarnation of sorts of the previous ‘owner’ (who is dead) because they remember things from the other person’s life. To add a love story to the plot, the scientist’s dead wife, who he loved truly madly deeply, gets her legs chopped off by a malfunctioning elevator and dies in his arms. They then discover her irises have been recorded in India in the eyes of a street urchin. It’s a pretty good film.

Force Majeure on the other hand isn’t so good. I’d go so far as to say that it is pretty bloody boring. Again recorded off Film4 month’s ago this film of a family’s skiing holiday was recommended on Adam Buxton’s podcast. The whole film revolves around a controlled avalanche that nearly but doesn’t engulf a restaurant balcony where the family are eating lunch. The husband does a runner instead of trying to protect his family. His wife can’t recover from his behaviour but in the end the issue seems to be resolved. There’s lots of slow shots on the interior of the hotel and the ski slopes which means I can label it as an ‘arty farty’ subtitled film. It would’ve had Siggy asleep within quarter of an hour if I was foolish enough to suggest she watched it with me. As it was, I watched it in about five sections as I found the slow pacing extremely tiresome.

In terms of reading, I whizzed through Tommy Rhattigan’s 1963 A Slice of Bread and Jam. Billed on the cover as one boy’s year of adventure, crippling poverty, abuse and an encounter with The Moors Murderers, it is actually a condensation of events happening in and around Manchester in the early sixties when Tommy was around 7 year’s old and living with his many brothers and sisters.

The stories are told with an Irishman’s gift for the gab and a penchant for a little exaggeration for comic effect. It’s a real eye-opener in terms of it’s portrayal of the abject poverty experienced by the Irish in the terraced streets of an almost derelict Hulme where children were sent to beg, steal and scrounge rather than go to school and the money they earned was drunk away by abusive alcoholic parents. Rhattigan’s close shave with Myra Hindley and Ian Brady is just one tale in a series of tales that showcase his ability to survive through it all.

Image: detail from image by Marco Forno (Unsplash.com)

 

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