gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

My preferred serve at the moment is—no really, trust me on this—whisky and cream soda. Get yourself a nice smoky Islay blend (Black Bottle is good, plus the purchase of it pisses off Donald Trump; Islay Mist is far superior if you can find it), pack an old-fashioned glass with plenty of ice, and add cream soda. Since I am a posh New Town bastard these days, none of the supermarkets round here sell cream soda. I have to walk for twenty minutes before I can get to the grotty kind of shop that has a proper shelf full of Barr's products. It is worth the walk.

There is a commonly held belief that one shouldn't add mixers to single malts. This view is incorrect. You still shouldn't, ever, add mixer to single malts, unless you have a really good reason, which I often do. In defiance of this naive view, I have tried the same pour with Smokehead. Smokehead is a single malt (Scuttlebutt has it that it's a seven-year-old vatted Ardbeg with a dash of 10yo), but it still doesn't work as well in this serve as Islay Mist, which is a bloody fantastic drop for a blend, and cheap too, if you can find it.

Limited Edition, single hogshead, Ximenez finish cask strength 1996 Ben Riach: bloody marvellous. This is the bottle I was saving for when Maggie died, and now I finally have something for which I should thank the horrendous old bitch. Worth waiting for. Not a lot of point in my reviewing this, since most of you will never get to drink any. I have bottle no. 112 of 310, and this one's not coming round again. But nonetheless: bloody marvellous. Tart apple, hint of stewed raisins, and strong acetone on the nose; incredibly sticky mouthfeel, with a touch of burnt golden syrup on the palate; lighter notes and the sherry and oak all come out when you add a drop of water. The concentrated essence of apfelstrudel in a glass. Bloody beautiful. Thanks, Mags. Please feel free to die again any time you like.

Now, who's up for clubbing together to buy a cask of something nice, so that we may drink it when Gideon Osborne is finally deservingly assassinated?

I had a whisky recently that tasted exactly like Scarlett Johansson. I'm not kidding, that's what it tasted like. Or possibly it tasted like how she looks. Unfortunately I can't remember anything else about it, not even the whisky's name, or how it could possibly taste like that, or how I would know. Must have been a good one.

Many of you will know of my fondness for Lidl's finest Ben Bracken single malt. Lovely fresh vanilla cream notes, hint of lemon sherrrrbert, and it's about eighteen quid a bottle. Scuttlebutt has it that it's the last expression from the mothballed Tamnavulin distillery, but if that's true then I'm not sure where they're still getting the stuff from, since Tamnavulin reopened in 2007.

Vaguely related, today's find has been Aldi's finest, Glen Marnoch 12yo Highland single malt. There's no such place as Glen Marnoch and Internet is suspiciously silent on where this stuff came from. It's spent some time in a sherry cask, without question. Dry white pepper and old wizened cinnamon sticks on the nose. Packed full of fresh fruits—watermelon, guava, tropical fruit salad—citrus, and a warm welcoming sherry length to it. Nice long smoky finish with a little ethanol kick at the end. And the whole thing comes in at under twenty quid.

I'm starting to like Aldi. Their weinerschnitzel is good too.

gominokouhai: (Default)

This weekend I'm off to see Brand New Yes, Prime Minister at the King's Theatre. Nigel Hawthorne being sadly unavailable, Sir Humphrey is being played by Simon Williams. As you all know, Simon Williams played Group Captain ‘Chunky’ Gilmore (although why his men call him Chunky I don't know) in Remembrance of the Daleks. So, in preparation, tonight has been Remembrance-fest here at Apocalypse Laboratories. I can confirm that Simon Williams is likely to be a bloody brilliant Sir Humphrey. I'll let you know for certain after Saturday.

Remembrance was also the last of Michael Sheard's six appearances on Doctor Who. By this point he'd been in basically everything that's ever been filmed. Brilliant actor and, so I gather, a thoroughly decent bloke.

You all remember the creepy girl who, it turns out, was operating the Renegade Dalek Faction battle computer all along:

She's the one on the right.

There's something we've been missing here, and it's more important than Dalek invasion fleets imperilling 1960s London. Witness:

Dalek Battle Computer

The Stig

The conspiracy goes deeper. Clearly, when the Black Stig fell off that aircraft carrier and was replaced, the new Stig came from the Imperial Dalek Faction. The colours tell you everything you need to know.

It turns out that the Beeb already had this idea. They tried to warn us.

I'd review Remembrance properly but, basically: Ace beats a Dalek to death with a superpowered baseball bat. What else is there to say?

gominokouhai: (Default)

Apparently they're remaking The Day of the Triffids. I loved the book: I remember reading it on my way home from school. That wouldn't be a particularly interesting story, but I cycled.

The franchise is rather beloved across the pond, witters patronizing Yank David Ehrlich, and maybe the closest thing the British have to a genuinely iconic monster. I'm not so sure about that. We've got Daleks and Cybermen. We've got Sontarans, Haemovores, Silurians, Sea Devils, Rutans, Terileptils, and the Nestene Consciousness. I could go on for some time in this vein, from Autons to Zygons, so perhaps I should move on.

The British need a mobile nettle as their iconic monster? We've got Mr Hyde. We've got freaking Dracula. (Okay, Bram Stoker was Irish. It's close.) And we gave the world Margaret Thatcher. We're doing pretty well for monsters.

The 1962 movie took huge liberties with the book and is notable only for having Janette Scott in it, whom, it should be noted, I really got hot when I saw. Based on the trailer, though, it seems that all she gets to do is swoon over Howard Keel. I think I can safely give that a miss.

I'm off to watch the 1981 BBC adaptation again. There are two seconds of sub-par special effects and one bad hairstyle, but apart from that, it's pretty much perfect.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Today I was accosted by a black-market delicatessen. Ratty-looking bloke pulls me aside as I'm leaving the supermarket, asks me if I'm looking forward to Christmas. (The answer, as ever, is no.) He offers me all manner of otherworldly festive delights. I am resistant. He suggests I might like to buy something for the Missis. While he's talking, a packet of corned beef falls out of his jacket.

You're selling me corned beef for Christmas? Happy Yuletide, Darling. I bought you this token of my affection from a dodgy man at the bus stop.

Vaguely related: yesterday in the Scotsman there was a letter complaining that the letters complaining that Christmas starts earlier every year are starting earlier every year. I am tempted to take this further opportunity to determine the depth of the Scotsman's call stack.


Cut for: spoilers for the third <cite>Alien</cite> film, and use of the R-word in a non-triggering context )

(Ever the voice of reason, [personal profile] scotm informs me that Brassed Off wasn't made until four years after Alien3, so such an elevator pitch is unlikely. The solution is obvious: David Fincher travelled back in time after seeing Brassed Off to pitch Alien3 to Fox. The residual time-dilation effects are why the film runs so slowly.)

The dramatic possibilities of grimdark Brassed Off in space, with gore are legion, and were totally neglected in Alien3. I think it's time we explored this vision now.

Disaster strikes tightly-knit community of the mining planet of Sheffield-426. The colliery has been shut down because of the xenomorph attacks. Destitution is rife; also, eviscerated corpses are everywhere. There's a comic-relief mortuary worker who's the only person still in employment. Fortunately, the Space Miners rediscover their spirit—and perhaps even a little romance—when they find they can defeat the alien with the power of SONG! Pom, pom, parp.

It's scared of fire! Quickly, play the trumpet section from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown!

I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A Space Tuba, with over- and under-mounted thirty-millimeter trombones.

In Space, nobody can hear you do the glissando from the Wallace and Gromit theme.

I think I've figured out where Alien3 went wrong. In the first film, it crept around killing people. In the second film, it turned lights on and off, so it could operate simple machinery. The aliens were getting smarter. In the third film, the alien kills off all the characters in descending order of interestingness, leaving it a bloody mess full of insipid redshirts by the half-way point. Thus, the xenomorph provides literary critique on the script of the film itself. Presumably, by Alien Resurrection, the alien has become intelligent enough to write fart jokes into new episodes of Doctor Who.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Frisky and Mannish were amazing, as ever. It being the finale for the School of Pop, it was a little melancholy, too. Still, The College Years is still on, and if anything it's better. Edinburgh people: go.

(Here's the trailer in case you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Then: stargazing! It was cloudy. We saw a single Perseid. One lousy meteor. It was a bloody good one though; a big chunky one with a trail of smoke following it, looking like the shooting stars you get in cartoons. Lovely.

Thus, since astronomy was a bit of a washout, I leave you with a snippet of medieval history:

Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror (known as William the Bastard before 1066), instigated his first insurrection against his father in 1077, aged about 24, when his younger brothers emptied a chamberpot over his head. Apparently they'd grown bored of playing at dice and decided that this would be a good way to liven up a dull afternoon. Yeah, and you laugh at what Harry gets up to in the tabloids these days.

Angry that William failed to punish his brothers sufficiently, Robert rode forth the next day and attempted to capture the castle at Rouen. Like you do. It didn't go well. Basically it's not a good idea to pick a fight with a man called the Conqueror, especially not if that man is also called the Bastard, and especially not if that man is also your dad. (Rumours that one of Duke William's other names was Lord Will-spank-the-shit-out-of-you-when-I-get-you-home remain unconfirmed.)

Anyway, bottom line, Robert didn't get to be King after William died. We got William II instead. On such matters as that tenth-century pisspot do the fates of empires turn.

(Lord Will-spank-the-shit-out-of-you-when-I-get-you-home would make an excellent character on Knightmare.)

gominokouhai: (Default)

Lalalala mimimimimimi.

Sex and the City 1 )

One star. It does a couple of things, but it does none of them remotely well.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Independently-ratified journalistic integrity FTW.

I totally got published on a website I don't run myself. Form an orderly queue, ladies, there's enough pajh to go around.

Reminds me, I must get on with my Erasing David review.

Four Lions

Thu, Apr. 29th, 2010 16:38
gominokouhai: (Default)

Apparently Chris Morris says that attempting to create controversy is one of the most boring things you can do. It seems odd, then, that he never sits down and thinks: for my next project, I'll write about the droll antics of a cartoon dog. Instead, for his first feature film, he's taken on the popular subjects of Islamic extremism and suicide bombing. A rollicking good time is guaranteed for all.

Morris is doubtless going to receive unending flak from the same people who spectacularly missed the point of Paedogeddon by claiming that it was making light of a taboo topic. But terrorism is comedy and has been for some years now. Remember the Glasgow Airport attacks? Two idiots drove their car into a bollard, a wee jakey baggage-handler having a fag break kicked them in the nutsacks, and they fell over. While on fire. That's not terrorism, that's slapstick. With a provenance like that, a film like Four Lions can't fail to have comedy value. But is it good satire?

It doesn't have to be. Morris' satire is uncompromising and uncomfortable; it goes beyond amusing into disturbing when he depicts a bunch of bizarrely stupid people, then turns the mirror around and says, That's You, That Is. You squirm in your seat and maybe come away with a different view of the world, but you don't laugh. This is why I've always preferred The Day Today to Brass Eye; it's sillier, and it bites less. No one can deny that Morris' satire bites with the viciousness of the deadliest shark, but you don't always want to settle down and watch a fun comedy only to find, halfway through, that your arm's hanging off.

So in tackling the very current and pertinent subject of Islamic terrorism, Morris has wisely chosen to use it only as a setting. This isn't a film about terrorism, it's a film about dysfunctional group dynamics. The characters are jihadists, but they might as well be a five-a-side football club or a scout group engaged in some crazy caper. Actually, thinking about it, they might as well be The Young Ones. There's the bossy one, the thick one, the cool one, and the slightly-saner one. As they bumble and bicker their way through doctrinal disputes and IED manufacture, we get to see some wonderfully-drawn character moments and learn convoluted new insults amongst the immensely quotable dialogue.

The plot follows our eponymous Lions through the tribulations of martyrdom: building suicide bombs, trial runs, selecting targets, and avoiding detection. Everything is presented in such a straightforward way that when they finally start to execute their plan in the final reel, it comes as a jarring shift in tone. The awkward juxtaposition of domestic comedy with real horror perfectly mirrors the characters' own feelings towards the end of the story, and thus was probably intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Morris may not always be subtle, but he knows his craft.

There's some incredibly effective use of hand-held camerawork to create an immersive feel, and not in the usual, tired manner in which they lazily emulate the fly-on-the-wall documentary. Since the characters spend half of the film pointing cameras at each other, when your point of view wobbles it simply means that you're standing in the living room with them, a fifth uncredited co-conspirator with another camcorder. The performances are genuine and natural: the characters are just blokes who happen to be making explosives on their allotment.

If anything, that's the message of the film. Terrorists are human beings, just like you: which means that, just like you, they're incompetent, clueless, and foolish, vainly stumbling through life in a harebrained struggle to find some sense to make of it all, an attempt that's ultimately doomed to be an utter failure. Most of the kneejerk criticism from the tabloids is going to be about the fact that the film portrays terrorists in a sympathetic light, but what it's actually doing is portraying people with bitter, nihilistic cynicism, in a heartwarming sort of way.

The climactic scenes are set at a major public event such as that where terrorism might conceivably take place (no spoilers here). They feel like a bit of a copout, as if it's an attempt to cram some extra humour into the film by having everybody in silly costumes at the end. If so, it's a wasted effort: the film is hilarious without help. I laughed a lot. And because it wouldn't be a Chris Morris production unless it made me feel horrendously uncomfortable in some way or other, I laughed a lot, realised with horror what nightmarish events I was laughing at, and then started to laugh at that instead.

It's a very British film. I think it's a very important film, but only in an incidental way. Mostly it's a film with brilliant characterization. If it horrifies us then it's because we find ourselves relating to and engaging with monsters, but we did that in Frankenstein, Downfall, and Dr Strangelove. Sometimes it's good to stare into the abyss, and to realise that the abyss is pathetic.

Just like you.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Saw Beowulf yesterday in glorious 3D-o-vision™. Got the nerd glasses and everything. Should have sat farther towards the back of the theatre, really, because the bit I was looking forward to was when everyone in unison slips on the nerd glasses and, in unison, goes oooohhhh.

Also, if I'd sat farther back, I would have been able to throw things at the junkie sitting behing me who thought that the entire film was an opportunity for him to provide a running commentary to his mates. I didn't say anything, because I was too busy going oooohhhh.

Spoilers, but spoilers for a millennium-old piece of our common literary heritage )

Just as Beowulf is now a flawed hero, Beowulf as a film is flawed but heroic. The directorial shortcomings of the movie are the sort of thing that will be fixed when there is less starry-eyed obsession with the tech, and that will come as the tech matures. It indicates to us—and, hopefully, to Hollywood—that there's still no substitute for a rattling good story and a process of catering to the audience's expectations, or subverting them as required.

And it demonstrates that there's hope yet for my career as a prettyboy action-hero starlet.

And it has Angelina Jolie, dripping wet and naked as the day she was born, lasciviously schmoozing the camera in glorious 3D-o-vision™. And the film is a 12A. If I was twelve years old when I watched this, I would have died on the spot. I'm still feeling a little bit wobbly as it is.

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