JBS’s Media Roll-call of 2018 (reinstated, with fanciness!)

Rekindling a tradition I guess I’ve started for myself, I’ve figured out a way to put together a list of all the films, TV and books that I’ve pointed my eye-stalks at this year – and the fanciness is that for 2019 and beyond I can write the summaries as the year goes by rather than madly having to plough through them in January, meaning You The Reader get to read what I thought to say at the actual time, rather than some boring glassy-eyed half-rememberance written months afterward.

But for now, here’s some boring glassy-eyed half-rememberances written months afterward…

There’s not much in the first half of the year, because I couldn’t be arsed keeping notes – then a flurry of activity in July owing to a return trip to Bali (always fecund space for media), and then I discovered a couple of WordPress plugins that would help me do all this tracking & noting. Good times.

39 movies. 26 TV series. 6 books. Smell that? That’s achievement.

January

January 17th, 2018

It's hard to claim that a film like this was ridiculous or over-the-top when you consider the franchise it's building on... and maybe it was a product of our enthusiasm for the 2nd film and how much we felt it had improved on the 1st film. But this really had us sitting there thinking, "OK, well this is happening...".  The highlight I think was learning that the bad-girl band they were touring with were called Evermoist. 👎

February

February 3rd, 2018

One of the most difficult to get into series I think I've ever seen, but once you're inside, HOLD ON - the story twists and turns, and the story you think you're watching one episode is nothing like what you're looking at 3 or 4 eps later. Richly told, intelligent sci-fi - loved it! 👍

May

May 22nd, 2018
Biography :: Graham Farmelo

Thorough biography of pioneering quantum physicist Paul Dirac - regarded by his peers as one of the greatest brains of the modern age, but somewhat lacking in personal PR skills. I found it utterly gripping as not only a window into the lives of his peers & mentors (Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Erwin Schrodinger, and soforth), but also a fascinating glimpse into life in the early-mid 20th century. Can you imagine that Dirac more or less discovered antimatter purely by thinking his way around some equations and theorising its existence to make the equations work?! And also, by total chance, it transpired that he was born & grew up in Bristol!

July

July 12th, 2018

Why's Bruce Willis doing stuff like this?  I guess it pays the bills...  I haven't seen the original Charles Bronson film this is a remake of, but it's a sort of "one-man-gets-pushed-too-far-and-takes-justice-into-his-own-hands" affair which I suspect has been mined so many times since 1973 that this film loses any sense of relevance it may have had.  Or maybe Bruce Willis does so much of that "normal guy forced into action/violence by his circumstances" that it becomes a Bruce Willis film rather than an engaging story. 👎

July 12th, 2018

Silly & implausible fun about a couple and their friends who hyper-competitively play board games, and a oneupmanship prank that goes awry turning it into high adventure. Jason Bateman's everyman is played with an almost Leslie Nielsen degree of straight-down-the-lineness inviting the massive amount of suspension of disbelief that this film needs for the story to get going.  I quite enjoyed it though. 👍

July 12th, 2018

Impressive if only for the ability of the cast (The Rock, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan) to commit to some utterly absurd roles. I definitely enjoyed this much more than the original Jumanji film, and spent a lot of the time distracted & wondering when it became such a milestone film that it demanded a remake. Very silly though, and perfect long-haul flight fodder. 👍

July 12th, 2018

I really, really wanted to like this - Armando Ianucci at the helm, and Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin & other legends in the cast - but I couldn't get behind the humour, and wasn't well-heeled enough in the historical context to get it from that side either.  Perhaps another case of a poorly chosen film for a long haul flight. Possibly also I might have been affected by just having read a fairly scathing newspaper column on the insensitivity of the film - not in that I agreed particularly, but because I was probably analysing it too much to see what the columnist was on about rather than just going with it. 👎

July 12th, 2018

What's not to love about the comic-book, choreographed to near balletic perfection violence of John Wick? I don't think this film sought to raise the stakes from its predecessor: in my mind it was just more of the same, and that's a simplistic story basis ornamented with scene after scene of punishing video-game-like gunfight scenes. This film delves more into the structure, hierarchy, ritual and operation of the assassins' community referenced in the first film, and the only thing I was disappointed by was to learn John Wick 3 won't be out til May 2019.👍👍

July 12th, 2018

Comic book superhero films generally shit me to tears... but I still feel compelled to try them occasionally to see what the hype's all about and see if they've ever caught up with my expectations of what film should be.  This film did not do that. Seeing the formation of a "super team", akin to parallel franchises, this gets the DC universe characters together - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman...  I guess the biggest fault in all of this is having to establish the character of each of the protagonists so the audience can understand the journey each of them take but having so little time to do that AS WELL AS feeding the requirement these spectacular films have of Things Constantly Happening.  Just ends up as a great big montage of Who Gives A Shit. 👎

July 12th, 2018

For a show which I genuinely had run out of steam in 1997, the opportunity to watch the latest stuff on a flight seemed a worthwhile one to take. And out of duty & love for the old stuff I persevered for 2.5 episodes, before ultimately writing it off as a waste of time. I wish it weren't so. 👎

July 12th, 2018

Bloody compelling future/sci-fi which I daresay I don't need to summarise because EVERYONE'S watched it, seemingly. Gripping story, exceptionally well told - however it often borders on torture porn... like, what level of extremism will we "the audience" be complicit in accepting by watching it in order to follow the story? Often uncomfortable, sometimes possibly unnecessarily so. 👍

July 12th, 2018

Watching on an aircraft seat-back was undoubtably the wrong format for taking in this dramatic romance/biography about a man's relationship with an American actress throughout their lives. In truth, the main reason I watched this was because I know the film's producer through our whisky club connections, and I wanted to see what he does at work. Very moving film, definitely worth another go on a proper-sized telly, without the interruption of a crap meal being thrust at me part way through. 👍

July 12th, 2018

Ongoing high-stakes game of cat & mouse between hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod and USDA Chuck Rhoades.  We've been following this for a while now and are very much caught up in it. Corporate malfeasance, deviousness, intrigue... 👍

July 12th, 2018

Another adventure in optimism by me after hearing loads of critical acclaim - I couldn't get on with Black Panther, either. I think I get the reasons for which this film's culturally significant, but at the root of it I still just didn't think it was a very good film.  Plus I get the ache whenever a whole culture is depicted as talking slowly and being very earnest about everything.  👎

July 19th, 2018

Very short informational series on the origins & etymology of some of your favourite common English swears, told by the erudite & eloquent Susie Dent, from Countdown's Dictionary Corner. Magnificent television. 👍

July 20th, 2018

Mockumentary-style show about life working at the BBC, very much in the vein of Twenty Twelve, or by necessity of extension, The Games. Whilst it really hits home if you know anyone who does work at the Beeb, the hyperextension of modern workplace bullshit is a symphony of delicious to anyone in a corporate office in 21st century Britain. Sublime, and season 3 was the perfect way for them to finish this off. 👍👍

July 20th, 2018

This has been our real gem-find on Netflix, yet so few people in the UK appear to have picked up on it! A brilliant ensemble cast playing their way through ridiculous storylines, as the worst characters in the world... at the risk of describing 2 things as "sublime" in rapid succession, it just is. And only 20 mins an episode! 👍👍

July 20th, 2018

The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling give it their all in another season in spite of Marc Maron's character's directorial laziness. That tells you nothing, really. Just watch it. 👍👍

July 23rd, 2018

Utter bollocks. 👎

August

August 1st, 2018

We chose this totally at random off Netflix without having heard or read anything about it, purely on the strength of it having Frances McDormand in the lead role.  Captivating film with some great performances, in a sort of Coen-esque story replete with moral ambiguity and people doing the best they could under the circumstances. Well worth a look! 👍👍

August 5th, 2018

Should've been called "The Internshit". Charmless hack where a couple of sales veterans stumble into a Google internship competition and struggle along, occasionally getting payoff from their balls-out bullshitting ways over the introverted nerdiness of their colleagues. Predictable rubbish with any redemption arcs in the script being overshadowed by the fact they're both complete pricks. Other reviews describe it as "119 minutes of product placement". 👎

August 8th, 2018

Oh god, this is that one where the hypercompetitive careerwoman gets pissed and ends up on a honeymoon cruise with her estranged father, isn't it...  You can pretty much guess the rest from there. I think we watched this because it had Kristen Bell in the lead, and it really makes you wonder what the film industry's like when people as talented as her have to say yes to shit like this to get the bills paid. 👎

August 12th, 2018

Biographical drama recreating one of the flights from the September 11 terrorist attack, notable in that it used little-known actors and not Tom Hanks.  Oddly compelling given that you already knew the outcome, and equally hard to fathom the fragmentation of information flow between emergency services in such a scenario... one assumes that in an event as recent as 2001 emergency comms and procedures would already be streamlined, but at least that was one hugely positive outcome from the event. 👍

August 12th, 2018

Engaging if sometimes historically questionable biographic drama about the life of Alan Turing and his time working at Bletchley Park cracking the ENIGMA code as used by the Germans in WW2. 👍👍

August 22nd, 2018

Matt Groening's much-hyped medieval fantasy show: I went in with the best will in the world, but couldn't get past more than 2 episodes. I think it was partially that despite having an absolute gun roster of voice talent, the voices all felt recycled from other shows (which I find very distracting)... and also that the writing came across a bit consciously controversial - like what South Park do, only they nail it every time. Maybe I should give this another go (and judging from the amount of fun John DiMaggio has making it, maybe it gets better?). 👎

August 22nd, 2018

Billy Bob Thornton's fallen-off-the-rails lawyer in his second season, with a pretty convoluted story, some incredible characters (as in, how'd a screenwriter come up with this stuff?!), and a fairly engaging way to tell an against-all-odds story. 👍

August 22nd, 2018

US-transplanted UK comedian & international sex symbol John Oliver continues to highlight some of the complexities of issues in the USA in a way that provokes a fair bit of gawping & forehead-slapping ("HOW DID IT EVER COME TO THIS?!") in his consistently hilarious and thought-needling way.  I have no idea how he summons the fortitude to keep doing this show, but am genuinely glad he does.  👍👍

August 22nd, 2018

Fascinating documentary into the life of possibly the most comic-book figure of the 80s: pro wrestler and actor Andre Roussimoff, "The Giant". Getting a look behind the curtain at the lives of wrestlers is always fairly abnormal topic matter, but this was magnified (in many respects) in the case of this 7-foot-and-then-some Frenchman. Re-watching footage from iconic Wrestlemania matches it became clear that he was in incredible pain throughout most of it, and nobody had any idea or control over whether he'd follow the scripted storyline. An absolute legend. 👍

August 22nd, 2018

I should really stop watching Pixar films...  although this was an unintentional watching as a friend's kid had it on telly on a Sunday morning as we were getting ourselves moving for the day. I guess by necessity a company that big in the entertainment scene HAS to do this - but it always disappoints me to see films and stories which are obviously designed and finessed by a committee. You might start with an interesting story, but then formulas and archetypes are applied and overlaid, ensuring that the film has maximum bankable opportunity for video game conversion, merchandising, and spinoffs. And being a cynical adult who notices this therefore makes it very hard to get caught up in the simple wonder of the movie.  That, and a gnawing background sensation pondering how much of this film was an invention - in the same way that Mexico City's Day of the Dead parade was invented for a Bond film. 👎

August 30th, 2018

(Is it a bad sign that I had to google this to remember what it was?) If anyone else was to float me the concept of seeing a comedy about head injuries & body positivity I'd probably make you a directional recommendation, however the ace in the hole here is the lead role being played by the unstoppable Amy Schumer. 👍

September

September 3rd, 2018

I think Bridget Christie's wonderful, and ridiculous - and this was the first full show of hers I'd ever seen, outside of the circuit piece she used to do dressed as an ant. Excellent feminist material without - I think - pandering to women only, or too much man-bashing. Intelligent and enjoyable stuff. More! 👍

September 3rd, 2018
Politics :: Daniel Hannan

I bought this book in order to access a well researched & referenced perspective on the "Leave" side of the European Referendum discussion: the author being a Conservative MEP, and one of the people caught up in the phrase "the architects of Brexit". Whilst the book laid out the argument (or, at least, the author's argument) in much clearer terms than I'd ever heard anyone articulate previously I still found that I viscerally disagreed with around 80% of it. However I'll detail all of that in a separate blog post, because it's longer than I intended to express here.  Eventually.  Probably.

September 12th, 2018

ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD IS THE BEST SHOW EVER AND BRUCE CAMPBELL IS MY IDOL. Made with the same aesthetic and spirit as the best bits of Evil Dead, this series is every fanboy's dream. And because I've had to buy it all on DVD, I can go back and rewatch all of it... 👍👍

September 19th, 2018

The one obvious exception to my antipathy towards the comic book superhero genre - the wisecracking, convention-busting maniac in the red spandex. And it's also really, really dark in parts. But the good news is that the sequel's on par with the original film. Not the hero we need, but the hero we deserve. 👍👍

September 25th, 2018

Could have so easily trodden into the tedious path of prequels and "Chubby... Hmm..." moments, but turned out to be a quite well thought out & detailed plot, and not *too* much "GO USA!". A relatively nuanced view of the genesis of terrorism - although kinda leaves you wondering if we're all fucked just because we're venegeful humans. We're very keen for a second series. 👍

October

October 15th, 2018

Another Star Wars film, another excuse for me to grumble about why they're nowhere near as good as they used to be. This one's the backstory about what made Han Solo into who he was, and as with all of these is packed with "Chubby, Hmm" moments* - I really wish they'd focus on just telling a story rather than shoehorning in opportunities to reference elements of other films. The best summary of the shortfallings of this film was a mate of mine said to me the day after I saw it, "What was the bad guy's name?"... and that, my friends, is the mark of Storytelling Fail. 👎 * defined by film critic Mark Kermode as "a tendency, particularly with biopics or prequels, to clumsily foreshadow plot developments that we, the viewer, are expecting to occur"

October 15th, 2018

Our old everyman chum Jason Bateman is back, this time without a comedic backing and set in the tense world of money laundering and drug cartels in Missouri. Laura Linney also performing a tour de force. You really find yourself wishing Marty could catch a break now and then. 👍👍

October 15th, 2018

Series playing out the scenario where successful company founder father dies (potentially) and leaves bickering family with power struggle and management responsibility. Kinda made me think of a non-comedic Arrested Development; all of the dysfunction and ineptitude, but much more at stake. Decent enough watch, but the series was pulled from streaming before we got around to finishing it. 👍

October 15th, 2018

Not sure what it is with vignettes/short stories - perhaps TV's post-Sopranos trend toward longer narrative & character arcs has conditioned my brain not to enjoy short snapshots; although in this case sometimes they're blissfully short. A real mixed bag, and critically slated.  👎

October 30th, 2018

Breaking Bad is a series of amazing moral ambiguity, and also probably the one thing that I'm the last person on the planet to have watched. I *love* shows where character's explored to the point where you find yourself hoping a character succeeds despite them doing reprehensible acts because you can empathise with how they got there. I know that BB is only going to get bleaker, but I feel this is worth sticking with. 👍

October 30th, 2018

Probably the film of 2018 that got the most people talking - though a necessarily whitewashed version of the truth of it, it was a nonetheless engaging biopic about the formation and career of Queen, centred on the life of Freddie Mercury. The soundtrack has been on high rotation 'round ours of late, although it's only just in reading up on it now I've realised that it was comprised of mostly unreleased Queen recordings, rather than recreations done by the movie cast. I *thought* they'd done a preternaturally good job...  👍👍

October 30th, 2018

I think we ought to chalk this one up to "Jason trying new things". And gloss over the fact that it turned out I'd seen it before. Kind of like a Love Actually for millennials... except in this one not everyone's white. 👎

October 30th, 2018

The mockumentary precursor to W1A, I didn't realise I'd previously sledged this as "a poor man's The Games", following reports that some Brits had more or less ripped off the peerless work of John Clarke & co in their near-perfect Sydney-based comedy. Nevertheless, the cast do an admirable job and the piece when viewed in its own right and not in the shadow of its immeasurably superior antecedent is a cracker. 👍👍

November

November 7th, 2018

Canberra-based political intrigue based on Australia-US-China relations, featuring an actress who I kept thinking "looked a lot like Olivia Dunham from Fringe, only less boring" until I googled it and found it was the same actress. Quite well-executed, and I didn't even find the accents too annoying! Daniel Wyllie's character seemed all too real as the kind of pillock I wish wasn't in Australian politics but yet seems to be ubiquitous, and Alan Dale's PM seemed infinitely more statesmanlike than anyone on the scene in real life at the minute.  No Jeb Bartlett though... 👍

November 28th, 2018

Utter irredeemable faeces. Nobody needed to make this film. 👎👎

December

December 1st, 2018
Science :: Helen Czerski

Marvellous bit of science communication, this! Throughout its 280-odd pages it touches on a vast number of scientific phenomena, and each is explained in an approachable, easy, and humorous conversational style. My only complaint is that it didn't go into more detail on any of the topics it glanced across - if you could produce a physics textbook written as approachably as this I think we'd have a lot more physicists on the planet...

December 1st, 2018
Bristol, History :: James MacVeigh

A historical dig through around 45 of Bristol's oldest pubs, covering both central buildings and further afield. A little inconsistent in its detail - some pubs turned up really interesting stories of events or people connected with the place, whereas others almost transparently highlighted the fact that the author had gone to the prison records as his primary source. Worth a look and probably not a bad jumping-off point for further research on some of Bristol's people & institutions.

December 3rd, 2018
Beer :: James Morton

After half a lifetime of talking about it and watching other friends of mine doing it, m'colleague Adrian and I took the plunge (and, advantage of THE BLACK FRIDAY SALES) and bought some elaborate homebrewing kit.  With any hobby comes the inevitable purchase of the first book you buy to tell you how to do it.  This is ours.  As in, owing to a lack of communication we both bought the same book.

December 3rd, 2018

Mindless action thriller starring loads of buildings in London being blown up, and Gerard Butler. Widely panned as being "effortlessly racist", but I'd contend that cinema's so full of 2-dimensional plotlines and villains that anyone who correlated this with real life in any way possibly hasn't engaged their faculties properly. Not that one wants engaged faculties in order to watch this. Oh, and GO USA! 👍

December 3rd, 2018

Really interesting scifi/thriller/comedy about a near-future world and some disparate folks undergoing psychoactive drug trials, which is really difficult to explain but definitely made for a few hours of excellent viewing. Reminded me a lot of Brazil, but with more modernly interpreted retro-future features.  If THAT makes any sense. 👍

December 3rd, 2018

Having watched London Has Fallen, we figured it made sense to then watch the film that it was a sequel to. Much like its postcessor (*shrugs* could be a word?), it stars loads of things being blown up, and Gerard Butler. GO USA! Just, y'know, try to ignore the total frigging implausibility of how they managed to get a load of gun-packin' terrorists into the White House. 👍

December 3rd, 2018

Following season 1's captivating "reveal by numbers" tale of a murderess who has no recollection of why she did it, we were excited to latch on to Season 2... A very different pace, but still following the "seemingly open-and-shut case" format involving a son, a cult, and historical beef that unwound like pulling at an errant jumper thread. A solid followup, and happily a standalone story - but not quite up to its predecessor. 👍

December 3rd, 2018

Intriguing Australian comedy/drama about sisters brought together after discovering that the scientist heading up the IVF clinic was "enriching the mix", and the nature/nurture conflicts arising from learning you have an unknown number of siblings. Neat premise, and some fairly complex characters hanging off it, making for quite a good watch! 👍

December 4th, 2018

I'll admit to being a sucker for anything with the Coens' imprimatur on, and this was a deliciously quirky if somewhat oddly formatted piece. Can't say that all 6 of the short stories really grabbed me, and in fact having established the format with the despatch of the titular Scruggs, I found myself wanting to know a lot more about him!  Liz gave this one a swerve, because he was the singular most annoying cowboy-figure I think cinema's ever seen. Although I found it hard watching Liam Neeson in anything Western-styled without it making me think of him lying unconscious with a daisy up his arse from A Million Ways To Die In The West. 👍

December 6th, 2018

Circuit comedians improvise a set on a spontaneously-given list of topics as if it's their actual material - I have to say, I was massively disappointed by this. Having heard a few comedians in podcasts refer to it as pure adrenaline-fuelled craziness, when I saw it it just sort of seemed like an improv game to me, except one which featured standups instead of improvisers. Overall I enjoyed all of the UK comics' contributions much more than the US ones, although Robin Williams and Greg Proops outshone every single other one I saw, and presumably then because they're already master improvisers. So yeah, it's improv.

December 13th, 2018

The hands-down must-see Netflix show of 2018 - whilst plenty fanciful/ludicrous, contained some great characters and plot, and I think portrayed an assertive & confident protagonist (who admittedly kept inexplicably wanting to go back to her husband in spite of everything else about her nature). Great production values, and a really perky/snappy delivery makes it a vivacious hit. We counted down the days for 2 months, then mainlined the lot in 48 hours... and then only because we paced ourselves. 👍👍

December 17th, 2018

Box office silliness led by Jason Bateman's long-suffering everyman - I was a bit surprised at just *how* ridiculous the plot of this would get, although it seemed proportionate given the presence of TJ Miller, playing... well, TJ Miller. 👍

December 20th, 2018

Katherine Ryan has been on the comedy circuit for probably around 10 years now but I think in the last few has really found her rhythm with her brand of near-deadpan delivery of intellectually justified no-helmet, no-net leaps of comical wrongness. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for her appearances. 👍👍

December 20th, 2018

Didn't make it all the way through this one... Really wanted to like it, and I still maintain I think Joan Rivers is amazing - but this really left my cheese out in the wind. 👎

December 20th, 2018

Schumer taking absolutely no prisoners in her usual way in this standup show, however it's fair to say that the set wasn't her "usual" style - instead getting pretty clinical about sex. Kinda felt a bit like Eddie Murphy's "Raw" and "Delirious" shows, insofar as it's the sort of thing that adolescents might clandestinely quote or play to each other behind the bike sheds out of pure disbelief that anyone might record material like that - and Schumer pre-marked it by saying that all good comedians have one special in them where they get dressed up in leather and talk about stuff they probably regret for the rest of their career. I'm on the fence about this one - I didn't really like the material, but I loved the way she delivers, and the meta-sense of her doing that show at all.

December 20th, 2018

Jimmy Carr comperes Katherine Ryan and DL Hughely plus rotating guests - along with woefully underused stats expert Mona Chalabi - in a US-based panel game about solving one of the world's problems. Mainly a platform for the standups, who consistently outshine Jimmy. Really notable as a vector for getting a regular fix of Katherine Ryan, who's just wonderful. 👍

December 22nd, 2018

Australian drama set at the US/Australian joint surveillance & intelligence base near Alice Springs: has plenty of "NEED TO KNOW" security stuff and covert nonsense, and layers and layers of hierarchy, but on the whole presents an approachable approximation of day-to-day life in the kind of place that's only ever glimpsed in Tom Clancy stories usually. Happily it's not a whitewashed story, and includes reference/consideration/meaningful contribution & representation from the region's Aboriginal community, as well as the "new" factor of Chinese eco-political interest. We'll be looking out for more on this. 👍

December 25th, 2018

The quintessential Christmas film. What else need I say? Although definitely worth a rewatch, because it's easy to forget what Bruce Willis looked like with hair. He must've been just on his way out from Moonlighting on this film - this really was his breakthrough role, before there was such a thing as Bruce Willis films. I mean, it's no Hudson Hawk, but still... a classic! 👍👍

December 25th, 2018

So, taking the famous concept of using a character from a well-loved film and then plonking them in the middle of something that shares almost no DNA with the original is what's happened here. Less of a slightly-above-average-Joe pushed by circumstance into a perilous situation, and more of a one-man-wrecking-ball. It's like John McClane wants to be in a different film to everyone else here. I was amused by the notion of Colm Meaney playing a British pilot though. And John Amos playing a special forces major, rather than selling crap hamburgers. Undoubtedly the most interesting thing that's ever happened at Washington Dulles though. 👎

December 25th, 2018

A return to form, which is bound to happen once you get SAMUEL L. JACKSON in the mix. This felt *much* more like it fit with the original Die Hard in terms of character, and it also provided a plotline which could be ripped off variously in Batman films of the future. Jeremy Irons did a standup job as an eloquent/cerebral bad guy, albeit with some weirdness right at the end. It was only while watching this that I realised I'd not seen the whole thing all the way through before, and then remembered the horrific day of laying around in a New South Wales Scout Hall with a XXXX hangover on the OzMoot 95 mountain biking expedition... 👍

December 25th, 2018

Everything'll be fine, as long as you're a rich white man. (Godammit, isn't Emma Thompson wonderful though?!) 👎

December 26th, 2018

Was this Justin Long's first film as a grownup? Eurgh. What a mess. Gripping grimly onto the premise that COMPUTERS CAN CONTROL EVERYTHING we're on a rollercoaster to disaster, which goes via an inexplicable Kevin Smith cameo to eventually Bruce Willis trying to converge his Christmas Die Hard-y-ness with that of Australia's equivalent, True Lies (seriously, in Australia in the late 90's/early 2000's, True Lies was screened on terrestrial TV at least 5 times a year and twice over Crimbo) - with a Schwarzenegger-esque leap onto a F35 fighter jet in the finale. Wank. 👎

December 26th, 2018

We only watched this to counterbalance the craptasticness of a couple of the Die Hard films and to get us prepared to accept the final load we'd get in Part 5. But aside from Anna Kendrick being nearly expressionless throughout, PP#2 remains ACA-MAZING! 👍👍

December 27th, 2018

Bruce Willis goes on holiday to Russia, and then some bullshit happens, and I don't really know because I fell asleep a few times during it and it was nonsense. McClane protesteth many times that he was "only here on vacation", and even managed to squeeze in a few "motherfuckers" - presumably to try to rub on a bit of Samuel L. Jackson's magic sauce. Oh, we are all now SO looking forward to Die Hard 6* (Assignment: Miami Beach?). 👎👎 * wouldn't you know it - it's going to be a prequel/reboot! How very unexpected.

December 31st, 2018

Post-apocalyptic thriller in which Michael Jackson (played by Sandra Bullock) runs away from NOTHING to try to get to safety. Meanwhile the story zips back and forth in time explaining why everyone's afraid of NOTHING (haven't been so scared of NOTHING since The Neverending Story...). Didn't have that much going on story-wise, so seemed to me like another one of these Netflix exercises in seeing just how much tension and turmoil an audience will permit themselves to be put through (see also: The Handmaid's Tale).  Literally, an emotional rollercoaster. But pretty well-executed. 👍

December 31st, 2018
Psychology :: Robin Ince

Managed to *just* sneak this one in under the 2018 radar - Robin Ince has for a long time been one of my favourite comedians, and one whom I've watched reinvent himself and develop since first seeing him in 2006, and seeing his general demeanour grow to be much more tempestuous - alongside a keen developing interest in science. So it was a welcome message to hear he'd written a book probing into the psychology and physiognomy of comedians' brains: modelled very much around his own psyche, mind, and brain, but also interviewing fellow comics and scientists alike. I think he's written something very special here.