philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
I didn't exactly have high hopes for either of these, but I wasn't expecting either of them to be quite so unbearable.



Maleficent (2014)

Okay admittedly I was told that Angelina Jolie would be the only good thing about this and it's true, she really is the only good thing about this. Actually, I tell a lie, the special effects work is gorgeous and often kind of cool. But could we have the story unfold for itself for a bit without constantly having the gaps filled by voiceover narration? I found the whole thing felt like a bad adaptation of a book. It's like they had so many plot points to introduce and not enough time to fit them in, so the film would rush from one point to the next. It's like a story written by a child, rushing to all the important points in the story without spending the time to build any of them up.


Read more... )


Cuban Fury (2014)

Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, The World's End, Hyperdrive (TV)) and Chris O'Dowd (Calvary, FAQ About Time Travel, The IT Crowd (TV)) in a movie together! Just the idea of it sounded brilliant. Whatever the premise of the movie might be, those two would surely be awesome. How could they not be?



Well, pretty easily as it turns out. Chris O'Dowd is giving a highly animated comedic performance, but unfortunately nothing he is saying is funny. His lines simply don't make him anything other than an obnoxious bastard. It seems the writer worked on a few series of "Misfits" and that involved a lot of people being obnoxious to each other, but that's the difference really. Those characters were horrible to each other, whereas here it is very one-sided. Chris O'Dowd is mean, and Nick Frost's character just takes the abuse.
Read more... )

Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 2 "Into The Dalek"

On the plus side, this week's Doctor Who episode was a return to form. It reminded me of the episode "Dalek" from the first NuWho series. Also Capaldi has been allowed to calm down a bit this time and he's got a sort of Tom Baker element to him. I've not actually been that keen on Tom Baker's style, but what's good about this shift is that it is drastically different from the style of the last three Doctors and, in this episode at least, it seems to be working.
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Best of Men (2012 TV Movie)

Sure, it's a made-for-tv movie and it feels like it. Nevertheless, the performances are so good and everything is just handled so well that I just felt joy from beginning to end. There's not a lot in the way of impressive directorial flourishes, but there is a good story told well and emotionally engaging as all hell.



At the centre of it all is Eddie Marsan playing the true-life figure, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, a German doctor who is finally allowed to treat spinal patients in Britain during the latter half of World War II. Marsan has a very wide range as an actor, but this is definitely my favourite performance from him so far.


Click here for the rest of the review... )



Labyrinth (2012 TV Series)

Oh dear me Christopher Smith, what happened?

Christopher Smith has become one of my favourite directors. While there's a decidedly annoying decision for one of the scenes in his first movie "Creep" it was nevertheless a pretty cool debut. He followed it up with "Severance" which I saw in the cinema upon its release. Not realising that it was the same director, nor how great it would be, I missed "Triangle" in cinemas (not least because I thought it was about the Bermuda Triangle - which it isn't). And his latest film "Black Death", with Sean Bean, was one of the better "medieval horror" films of late (others being "Centurion", "Valhalla Rising", "Season of the Witch", "Solomon Kane" and arguably also "13 Assassins").



It's been a rather long wait since "Black Death" and it seems that Christopher Smith has tried to transition to tv. (Something it seems that the very similar director Neil Marshall has already successfully managed by directing the excellent 'Blackwater' episode of "Game of Thrones" and starting the series "Black Sails", which I hope will be rather less disappointing than this was.) Unfortunately he seems to have chosen a 'Da Vinci Code' knockoff. I remembered seeing Kate Mosse's book "Labyrinth" in bookshops and I always thought it came before Dan Brown's cheesy bestseller. But it seems I was mistaken.

What's perhaps most annoying of all is that "Labyrinth" is about the massacre of the Cathars in the 13th Century. It's a really interesting historical event to base a drama around. Unfortunately Kate Mosse's book is instead about some kind of mystical books supposedly connected with the Holy Grail. To be frank, I'd rather be watching the bleeding Indiana Jones movie if we are going to go that goofy.



Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


There's been this thing recently where newcomers to Doctor Who are getting upset whenever the actor playing the Doctor changes and instantly complaining about the new replacement. They are also realising that the one they like the best often has some connection with when they began to watch the show. "That was MY Doctor" they say.

I can get behind this theory pretty easily because personally MY Doctor has always been Sylvester McCoy. A lot of old school Whovians thought he was a bad choice, but for me he defined what Doctor Who is supposed to be. This Doctor had a mixture of silliness and darkness to him. He has an odd way of speaking which I did not realise at the time was a result of him covering up his remote Scottish accent. As a result he has a tendency to roll his rs which is actually something I've always loved about his performance.



The first Doctor Who story I ever saw was "Remembrance of the Daleks", but I hadn't realised at the time quite how important it was that I came to Doctor Who at that precise time. My first ever Doctor Who storyline was also a number of other firsts:
- The first (and actually the only) Doctor Who story where Sylvester McCoy confronts the Daleks.
- The first Doctor Who story to actually SHOW how Daleks get up stairs.
- The first Doctor Who story to feature Ace as the fully fledged new companion.



I thought Ace was great straight away. Sure, she was a tomboy essentially. She wears a black bomber jacket, she makes explosives and she can handle a baseball bat pretty well. She's a companion who is prepared to face right up to a Dalek shouting "Who are you calling small?" She actually has a love interest in "Remembrance of the Daleks" but I wasn't concerned with that and was happy when it didn't work out. After all, at just five years old I wasn't interested in lovey-dovey stuff.

I had a brief stint working my way through re-watching some of the series I saw as a child. I've also checked out a few other Cybermen-related classic Who storylines.


Doctor Who - Dragonfire

Okay, sorry, what? This cannot be Doctor Who. It is so ridiculous obvious that it is a television studio and a very brightly lit one at that. Doctor Who is being offered a treasure map (seriously?) and his companion is loudly and enthusiastically hamming it up like a cheery enthusiastic primary school drama teacher.



The introduction of Ace here is just weird. This is the first story where she turns up, but she doesn't become the companion until the very end. She's only just met the Doctor, but she gets started right away calling the Doctor "Professor"; a trend that would get existing Whovians extremely annoyed.

To read more about "Dragonfire" click here... )



Doctor Who - Genesis of the Daleks

Naturally I have already seen "Remembrance of the Daleks" a million times and I think its an absolutely wonderful Dalek story, so I decided to skip that one here. However, I would absolutely recommend it to anyone. "Remembrance of the Daleks" is pretty definitely my favourite Doctor Who story of all time.

However, I decided to try out a classic Dalek story to see how well it stands up by comparison to Remembrance of the Daleks. I checked out "Genesis of the Daleks", the first story to ever feature the creator of the Daleks: Davros.



To read more about "Genesis Of The Daleks" click here... )


Doctor Who - The Happiness Patrol

This is definitely a step down in quality from the "Remembrance of the Daleks" storyline, but it's nothing like as slow and boring as "Dragonfire" and Ace is still awesome. On a planet in the future, the government has a strict rule that everyone must always be happy. Anything negative or sad is banned and punishable by death.

I'd heard that this was supposed to be a critique of Thatcherism, but Thatcher would certainly have no trouble letting experience sadness. It's not until towards the end of the final episode that we finally have a confrontation with the Doctor which gives us some idea how Thatcher might have any relation to the dictator on this planet at all. I mean sure, we see protests by workers, but that's hardly unique to Thatcher.



To read more about "The Happiness Patrol" click here... )


Doctor Who - The Greatest Show In The Galaxy

This storyline is creepy as hell. The story takes a long while to actually get going, but what we DO get is a clear sense that something is seriously wrong with the Psychic Circus which Ace and the Doctor are visiting. This is Doctor Who with evil clowns and our first view of the main evil clown is when we see a black hearse driving along and see him revealed within when he winds down the driver-side electric window. Meanwhile we see other workers from the circus making a run for it but, apparently, being tracked by kites with a giant eye painted on them.

Creeeeeepy!



To read more about "The Greatest Show In The Galaxy" click here... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
When I went to see Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing", one trailer stood out. It's a trailer for the "Alan Partridge" movie. Now I don't know how well this is going to do. Alan Partridge isn't a character who has been on tv for a while and I'm pretty sure he's not well known in America.

Alan Patridge is perhaps the most well-loved character to be created by the legendary comedian Steve Coogan. I don't know what films of his people would be most likely to have seen. "24 Hour Party People"? (I've never seen that one.) "A Cock And Bull Story"? (That one's pretty obscure.) "The Parole Officer." (Even if you have seen that one, it's really not Coogan at his best.) Perhaps the best examples to point out are "In The Loop" where he is the guy who owns the collapsing wall. I felt he was in danger of stealing the show there, even with just a tiny role. Another high profile example is "Tropic Thunder" where he is the director (named "Damien Cockburn") who, um, disappears early on in the movie. (Personally not really a big "Tropic Thunder" fan to be honest.)



I remembered seeing adverts on tv promoting "Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Patridge" back in 1994 and unfortunately I didn't realise it was a comedy at the time. It's misleading that it initially appears to be a typical chat show and it takes a short while to recognise that the whole thing is a complete send-up. The host is self-centred and consistently massaging his own ego and in spite of seemingly promoting a politically correct show, constantly reveals casual bigotry, misogyny and general ignorance. His guests either hate him, discover that they hate him during the show or like him for the wrong reasons.



I've since caught up on this initial appearance of the character "Alan Partridge" including the excellent 'Christmas Special' (entitled "Knowing Me Knowing Yule with Alan Patridge"). The final conclusion of the Christmas special is shown as a flashback at the beginning of the first series of "I'm Alan Patridge" with a BBC executive (played by the awesome David Schneider) insisting "you shall never work in television again!" So how can there be any more shows? Because Alan moves to radio! Working on Radio Norwich (for non-UKers, that's a pretty mundane area btw) we spend very little time seeing how ridiculous he is as a radio broadcaster, spending a lot more time watching Alan Partridge have meetings and try to salvage his fledgling career. It's been a long time, but I remember absolutely loving the first series of "I'm Alan Patridge" in 1997, though I'm not certain whether I saw the second series which apparently aired in 2002.



Now the Alan Patridge movie seems to show him still working in radio. Unsurprisingly he decides to backstab one of his co-workers to get him made redundant, but he then becomes a hostage in an armed siege. Alan Partridge is a delightful combination of horrible, egotistical and stupid. As an audience we love to watch him make a fool of himself and suffer for it. This looks like it'll be hilarious...


(video link)


TV Shows Update:

I don't talk much about tv shows because I generally wait until they reach DVD before I watch them. So here are my comments on all the shows I've enjoyed in the past few years:


Game Of Thrones
I've finished the first two seasons and I kinda love it. A bit weirded out by the sex bits, but I don't think you need to focus on that so much. Clearly Peter Dinklage, Charles Dance and whatshername, the girl character, *googles* Arya Stark, are the most awesome parts of it. I tried reading the first book before watching the first series and couldn't get into it at all. I am better with faces than names and after the initial part of the book where every character I've been introduced to promptly dies, the author then gives me a bunch of names to remember without describing what any of those characters are like. I then struggled to work out who was who and got wholly frustrated. Yeah, I didn't really give it much of a chance, but even my mum whose a big reader seemed thankful to have been introduced to some of the main characters in the initial tv episodes before she dove into the book series. I loved Neil Marshall's episode "Blackwater"


Party Down
My main reason for checking this out was because I heard it had a reference to "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" before the book was written. And it's true. In the version they describe in the relevant episode Edgar Allen Poe and Abraham Lincoln both hunt vampires together. Essentially the series is about washed-up actors and writers who work in catering to make some money. I gained additional enjoyment when watching "Wreck-It Ralph" as a result of gaining familiarity with her in "Party Down". She's great.


Girls
So far I've only seen season 1, but it's pretty cool. Interestingly Lena Dunham has a short cameo in Ti West's horror-comedy "The Innkeepers". It might as well be Hannah from "Girls" though she's essentially just known as "that annoying girl who works at the coffee shop" in the movie. (Actually she's also credited as "911 voice operator" in Ti West's other movie "The House Of The Devil".) Lena Dunham both wrote and stars in the series "Girls" and while she's pretty, she has a refreshingly normal figure for a protagonist that young on American television. Pretty much every character in Girls has massive flaws, including the central protagonist and that's part of why the series is so enjoyable. Nearly episode seems to feature Hannah having awful sex with her weird boyfriend - which is um, unique. This is equal parts drama and comedy, but the comedy is funny enough to make those moments worth the wait - and in a good episode, you really won't be waiting long.


Miranda
Okay, enough of the American stuff. While we are on the subject of less conventional body types in female protagonists, it seems like perfect time to talk about Miranda Hart. I first saw her in the tv series "Hyperdrive", a sci-fi comedy series which slightly recaptured the magic that "Red Dwarf" now appears to have thoroughly lost. (For me, "Red Dwarf" only has six series worth mentioning. Ending ironically with the words "To Be Continued...") In "Hyperdrive" Miranda's character was a stickler for the rules and in one episode tries to spark up an old romance with a childhood friend from the Camp for Young Agnostics she used to go to.

Alongside Sarah Hadland who used to regularly feature in "Mitchell and Webb" sketches, Miranda (in the tv series) runs a joke shop which she paid for with her life savings. Miranda is a character who gets flustered by social expectations and just wants to enjoy herself without the pressures of life getting in the way. She is an extremely tall and quite large woman and so many of the jokes are connected with her insecurity about her appearance and the way she is regularly put down because she doesn't conform to classic beauty standards. Some people hate this series, but it's just so sweet and endearing that I don't understand how they can feel that way. Each to their own I guess.

I've onlys seen series one of "Miranda" so far, but I actually first found out about it through the Christmas specials.

About Another Sixteen TV Series Listed Under The Cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Trance (2001)


Background on Joe Ahearne



My knowledge of Joe Ahearne began when I discovered that he wrote and directed several episodes of the hit series ThisLife about a group of lawyers. I then discovered his cool tv series about modern day vampires "Ultraviolet" (not to be confused with Milla Jovovich's cheesy action movie), which also starred Jack Davenport and Idris Elba, as well as Susannah Harker (who is in the tv movie of "Trance" reviewed below).



Read more... )

Review of Joe Ahearne's tv movie "Trance"

The premise of Trance, as you can tell from the remake's trailer, is that an art thief forgets where he has hidden the painting because of a blow to the head causing amnesia. Having realised that no amount of brute force can ever get someone to reveal something that they simply cannot remember, the head honcho of the operation decides to try dabbling in hypnotism. As you might expect, this is an utter failure.

It is at this point in the story that they realise that they need a professional. However, it's not long before the professional realises what is really going on and insists that she receive a cut of the spoils.
Read more... )

Comparisons with the new trailer



(video link)

On the one hand, I think this could really be a great return to form for Danny Boyle. I haven't really liked any films from Boyle since "28 Days Later" and even then I thought it was problematic. His best films for me are still "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting". Joe Ahearne is still credited as writer on IMDB rather than just writer of the original screenplay or story, so I hope that means he's directly involved in this project. Meanwhile Danny Boyle has brought back writer John Hodge who he used for all his early movies but stopped using after "The Beach". Danny Boyle's neat little imagery from Trainspotting could work really well here and it looks like Boyle is going to make full use of that style.



Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Director Showcase: Joe Dante


Okay, it's taken a while, but what follows are reviews for every single movie Joe Dante has ever made. This is also available as three separate posts at [livejournal.com profile] candycorncomm.




Read more... )



(video link)

So is that everything worth seeing in the film then? Well... not quite. There's a number of very good scenes. But first of all I feel that I ought to explain what definitely ISN'T any good in this film.

1) Brendan Fraser....

*gasp* "But he's really funny in other stuff!" ... Um.... that's what everyone was thinking, right? Heck, I was. I thought he was really good in "The Mummy Returns" (Just me? Okay....), I thought he was pretty funny in "Bedazzled" (especially after that one wish where he can suddenly speak Spanish) and I don't think anyone can deny that he made some of the funniest guest appearances on Scrubs.

But in this Looney Tunes movie? I'm afraid I didn't find him funny at all. He occasionally had a funny line and I'd listen to it and only notice that it was a funny line after the pause for laughter had passed me by. He just seemed to have no comic timing.

The problem wasn't even the script. Bugs and Daffy's banter with one another would often be pretty funny, but Brendan? *shrugs*

2) Third act problems. Yeah, movies often have that, but I have to say that in the last act I vaguely remember a runaway train and a bomb and all sorts, but I have absolutely no idea what actually happened. That is really NOT good.

3) Steve Martin. All previous problems pale by comparison to this one. If there was one person who sucked all the humour out of the movie it was Steve Martin. Basically times my issues with Brendan Fraser in this movie by about one million. He not only failed to show any ability in terms of comic timing, but actively lowered the mood of the whole film. I am actually prepared to go out on a limb and say that this film might be worth recommending if it weren't for Steve Martin's presence in it.

So, with the negatives out of the way, let's talk about what is good in this film.

1) Timothy Dalton. He has some rather naff stuff to do in the final act of the film, but when he first appears leaving a video message for his son (played by Brendan Fraser. Yeah, moving on.... ) while simultaneously fighting bad guys and hurling grenades, he's just awesome.

2) The whole scene in Area 52. Turns out Kevin McCarthy is only doing a cameo, but it's great all the same. Meanwhile the head of the Area 52 operation is led by Joan Cusack (who is brilliant). When the monsters escape naturally, what with Joe Dante being a classic horror movie geek, one of them comes from "This Island Earth". (Not only did they redo the Metaluna Mutant brilliantly, but one of the guys involved has a deviantart account.)

3) Obviously with Kevin McCarthy, Joan Cusack and some rather awesome monster effects all compounded into one point, I'm struggling a little to top that with this third point. However, I think it needs to be noted that the banter from Bugs and Daffy in the movie is actually really good. Admittedly you are talking to the guy who finds the new Giant Robot Love song absolutely hilarious, but the point is that a movie centred around Bugs and Daffy needs to make the most of its central characters and I think, to be absolutely fair, this movie does.

Sadly, I have to finish by admitting that this film sucks. I'm still putting MOST of the blame on Steve Martin, but he can't be blamed for all of the problems. Not all of the slapstick running around works. There's a random music number that falls rather flat and the whole thing is a bit lacking wind in its sails. Still, as I said, there are several bits that are quite inspired. Once you've seen the Psycho reenacment above and the Area 52 scene you've pretty much seen the best the film has to offer. Even if you count the odd little good bits elsewhere in the film, we're talking about a 90 minute movie with no plot of which two thirds is basically filler between jokes. That's really not very good.

Though interestingly the deleted scenes show that this was clearly a pretty compromised work. Just check out how Joe Dante originally wanted the movie to begin!

D-


Masters of Horror: Homecoming (2005)

Now this was pretty fun. Joe Dante is quite keen on combining horror and comedy, but that's not really what he did here. By his own admission, the horror only really comes from the concept: zombies. (We all love zombies, right?) I'm not going to give away what the zombies do, but it seems that Joe Dante was pissed off by George Dubyah Bush's presidency as much as the rest of us. Robert Picardo gets to be Karl Rove and Thea Gill gets to be absolutely incredible as Anne Coulter.

Admittedly none of the characters are known as the figures they are blatantly playing within the short film, but they don't need to be. If there's one thing you don't have to worry about here, it's subtlety. The message is fairly straightforward and there's no risk of a reference to Fox News or Guantanemo Bay passing you by. However, it's all a pretty clever idea and while the amount of time that's passed might take the impact away a little bit, the whole concept is quite amusing. I actually wish there'd been even more Thea Gill though. Her whole performance is absolutely brilliant. (IMDB reckons that one of the four things she's most well-known for is starring in a Uwe Boll movie. Someone seriously needs to correct this and fast.)

The ending of this is a bit cheesy, but then again so is the whole thing. It's cheesy satire from start to finish, but it's funny and original and, what can I say? I loved it.

B+


Trapped Ashes (2006)

To be absolutely fair to Joe Dante, this is five stories directed by five different people i.e. not him. All he is responsible for is the join in between and those joining bits are great. It's all the same actors, but somehow they seem to be much more entertaining when Joe Dante is directing. No surprise there... However, what holds together Joe Dante's connecting scenes is an excellent performance from Henry Gibson, one of Joe Dante's regular actors (like Dick Miller and Robert Picardo).

Of the individual stories in Trapped Ashes the best has to be the killer breasts storyline, directed by the recently deceased Ken Russell. It's really great fun and to be honest it's the only reason to watch Trapped Ashes. (Joe Dante's section isn't allowed to get very exciting in case it detracts from the main action. Even though it's actually more interesting than the short films even without much in the way of effects work.) I'm ashamed to say that of Ken Russell's work I've only really seen this and "Altered States" (oh my goodness I hated that film - particularly when a short clip from it was giving me nightmares as a small child).

So yeah, the other stories are boring and I wasn't too impressed by the acting either. All in all this was pretty lame and one good story wasn't going to save it.

E-


Masters of Horror: The Screwfly Solution (2006)

Okay, so while Homecoming was only horror in terms of concept and was mainly played for laughs, this is absolutely horrific and has no humour at all. By the end, I suddenly realised that this is the most miserable film in Joe Dante's entire filmography. It's not bad, but it doesn't really feel like enough happens.

The premise is that something introduced into the atmosphere has caused men affected by it to kill every single woman they come into contact with. The men affected come up with a new misogynist sort of anti-procreation cult to justify their behaviour called "Sons of Adam". The situation is compared to a method used to reduce the population of screwflies.

Nothing wrong with the acting. Like I said, it doesn't feel like the story really goes anywhere. All in all this is actually pretty good, but oh my goodness it's so blooming miserable. Ugh.

So yeah, pretty solidly good episode. Don't watch when depressed.

B-


The Hole (2009)
I have already written a review for "The Hole". It was originally posted here. I've re-posted the review below:

An attempt at horror-for-kids. Though we shouldn't think this is some new experiment. This is, after all, coming to us from the director of "Gremlins". (And the love interest is called Julie too!)

Two boys and their single mother have moved to a rural setting and aren't happy with the change. What's more there's a random hole under the house that, when they first find it, is covered by a trap door bolted to the ground by about five or six large padlocks. The hole definitely has something supernatural about it, but what is it?

Weird stuff starts happening (which began to raise my "ghosts without proper rules" alarm), but it's quite a tight script with everything linking together rather nicely. Some of the lines pull you out of the action a bit. The idea of the girl next door whose just been had an encounter with a strange young girl in white who "doesn't want to die" happily saying a few hours later "You've got a gateway to hell in your basement... and that is very cool!" Still, there's no doubting that this is great fun, acted well and well worth watching.



It's got everything you'd expect from the this sort of film, it flows well and it's imaginatively put together. It's just not a masterpiece.

B+ (Very good. Not quite excellent)


X-posted in parts here, here and here.
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
That's right. I've now discovered....



Garth Marenghi's "Darkplace" (2004)

Each episode of this Channel Four TV show begins with the following lines:
"I'm Garth Marenghi. Author. Dreamweaver. Visionary. Plus actor. You're about to enter the world of my imagination. You are entering my Darkplace."

Actually that's not quite the beginning of each episode. The very beginning of each episode involves Garth Marenghi explaining something about his ideas as a horror writer. That's because (we are told) the "Darkplace" is a classic series lost in the 80s, but now being given a re-release by Channel Four. This time around the episodes are interspersed with interviews with the cast.

Read more... )

Finally, for any Doctor Who fans here's a rather awesome treat. The Doctor Who intro redone, Darkplace style:



(video link)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

I have now worked my way through Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou's "The Bible's Buried Secrets" and I f---ing LOVE it.



I think the great thing about it is that, while she is often stating outright what popular scholars will more often cover with more guarded language, she doesn't end up saying anything terribly controversial. During the second episode there was one point where I thought she'd skipped a step in her argument.... because she had. Intentionally. By the end of the episode she'd filled in the blanks and the argument was pretty solid.

She has clear and careful arguments which are rooted in the historical evidence and she's always careful to remind us that history and archeology is an ever shifting discipline which has to cater to new evidence constantly. She makes clear where she has strong backing in his discipline and where she is going out on a limb.

And to think there are people on the blogosphere comparing her to blooming Dan Brown. (This guy's a symbologist <A what?> and he's discovering patterns in symbols and numbers. <Based on historical evidence?> -No, based on patterns in symbols and numbers. I just said. <Well that's stupid isn't it?> - No, it's brilliant. Look he's discovered that Jesus was politically important <bollocks> and that he had a wife <based on bollocks> and that the female protagonist is Jesus' direct heir <which after two thousand years means precisely bollocks>. -Well it's an exciting enough story, right? <No, the writing's bollocks too.>)

The choice of topics has been pretty cool too. Did King David really exist as the powerful king he is described as in the Bible? What function might tales about King David have served? Were the Israelites always monotheists? When might they have shifted to monotheism and why? But perhaps the real kicker (and the thing that I suppose has earnt her the Dan Brown comparison) is whether God had a wife. Her issues with the influence of patriarchy on ancient stories carry on with her criticisim of the way Eve is presented in the Garden of Eden story. Along with that she asks: What elements are read into the Garden of Eden story today that are not even in the text? Was there a real Garden of Eden? Did the story have political relevance?

Also interesting is the number of people responding not with "BLASPHEMY!" but rather with "well yeah... of course". People being shocked by the claim that King David never existed, that Yahweh had a wife and that the Garden of Eden was originally a temple would be unsurprising. To hear them saying that this is all obvious is a bit of a shock.

Now going round the internet there is no shortage of people trying to poke holes in Dr.Stavrakopoulou's arguments. There are claims that she doesn't show alternative viewpoints. (Not only does each show feature at least one viewpoint from each of the Abrahmaic religions, but she often disagrees with scholars in religion and/or archeology too.) There are claims that her accounts are too superficial. (A dodgy argument when we are dealing with a TV programme for a typical layman audience with only a single hour on each of the three big topics.) There are claims that she is putting forth the arguments as her own innovations. (She also speaks to scholars/archeologists who agree with her arguments and are working on the vital evidence. The title of her programme "The Bible's Buried Secrets" means that the evidence for her claims is found in archeology i.e. "buried", not that she's uncovering some kind of conspiracy.) So yeah, some people are wrong on the internet. Big surprise.



Francesca Stavrakopoulou's Three Claims

Claim One: King David was a myth.
(Youtube link for part one of episode one)

Read more... )



Claim Two: God had a wife
(Youtube link for part one of episode two)

Read more... )



Claim Three: The Garden of Eden is the Temple in Jerusalem
(Youtube link for part one of episode three)

Read more... )



Stavrakopoulou VS Widdecombe

Read more... )



Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou has an article about Abraham here:
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-bible-a-history/articles/abrahams-inheritance

I'm putting her book on my Christmas list:
http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Religious-Diversity-Ancient-Israel-Judah-Francesca-Stavrakopoulou/9780567032164

Also, you can find my transcript of her appearance on the radio programme "Museum of Curiosity" here:
http://fatpie42.livejournal.com/128831.html

And I'm really interested to see what she has to say in the future. Awesome stuff....

philosoraptor42: (Default)

The Shadow Line - Episode 1

I thought this was supposed to be fantastic British TV? A while back I was rather unimpressed by the series Luther, but the writing didn't feel as hackneyed in that and the characters were far more engaging than anything in this.

Here are some of the elements that bugged me:
- Bad guys who speak like they're in a bad Guy Ritchie movie.
- A female character who gives another officer a seriously hard time for simply doing his job (he was checking an ID ffs!) because she's "feisty".
- Dialogue that sounds like its intended for the audience rather than a genuine conversation.
- Mother of a murder victim who spells out the obvious slowly and clearly for us, presumably to show how distraut she finds the news. This comes across as annoying rather than heart-wrenching.
- Information provided disorientatingly slowly at some points and condescendingly quickly at others.
- The most ridiculously unrealistic press conference I have ever seen. When "Sherlock" seems more realistic than your ultra-serious gritty police drama, it might be time to rethink things a bit.
- Christopher Ecclestone. Look we all remember how good he was in "Cracker" and "Shallow Grave", but that was a long time ago and I think he might have lost it. Sure he was alright in Doctor Who, but he wasn't anything special. I think the really bad moment for his career was when Nicolas Cage out-acted him in "Gone in Sixty Seconds".

Okay, to be quite frank I think the main problem with this series is the writing. Whoever wrote this cannot do dialogue. And please tell me this isn't getting another series. I want Chiwetel Ejiofor to make better use of his time. He's wasted in this.
philosoraptor42: (Default)



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Also, Family Guy: Something Something Dark Side
Watched about 15 minutes before giving up due to a distinct absence of humour. What the hell happened to that show?
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Okay, this sort of a follow up to my review of John Carpenter's episode: "Cigarette Burns".
In the Masters Of Horror series major horror directors are given a choice of hour-long scripts and the opportunity to impress us with a short film. I have now seen four of these: "Ciggerette Burns", "Sick Girl", "Pro-Life" and "The Black Cat".

Ciggerette Burns

(click image for imdb link)

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Sick Girl


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Pro-Life


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The Black Cat


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philosoraptor42: (Default)

Been there. Got the t-shirt. Meh....

I've finally finished the Final Season of the epic re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. (Actually I finished it a while ago and felt a bit unsure what to say.) Parts of it were really good. It wasn’t until half way through the extra long season finale that I realised that things weren't right and that they were only going to get worse from here on in. Instead of leaving us with the sense of mystery we had all through the series, the decision is made to reveal new stuff to us, not introduce it properly and then finish with a big Deus Ex Machina which makes no damn sense.

Also, my summing up under the cut is going to be SPOILERIFIC so if you intend to watch the whole BSG series and you don't want any spoilers I suggest you stick this in your memories and come back when you've finished....

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philosoraptor42: (Default)


The extras on the DVD involved people raving about how "important" what they were doing was and how there wasn't enough drama that opposed the current political climate. I really have no idea how they thought that this was any better. There's a speech about supporting socialism at the beginning and Margaret Thatcher appears on tv at one point, but asides from that the tv series seems entirely irrelevant to politics.

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philosoraptor42: (Default)
Ah, watching the new incarnation of Doctor Who has been a somewhat punishing experience, but then again so has been my trips of nostalgia into old classic Doctor Who series. Oddly enough the standard for me has always been the Sylvester McCoy story "Remembrance Of The Daleks" which was my first ever Doctor Who story.

The new Doctor Who series has been a mixture of absolutely fantastic moments and horrendously cringe-worthy moments (often in the same episode and sometimes even in the exact same moment). In this degree, it's not really so different from the classic series I guess. Still it's been notable that some of the best episodes have been from Stephen Moffat and some of the most awful episodes (especially the series finales unfortunately) have been from Russell T. Davies.

Still Davies has done some good episodes. He co-wrote the Children Of Earth series which took the Christmas Invasion intro scenario of threatening extra-terrestrials making demands of the government and looked at what happens if Doctor Who doesn't turn up straight away and kiss it all better. (I realise that die-hard Torchwood fans were often disappointed by COE, but as someone coming to the series without the background of the previous two Torchwood series I thought it was brilliant.) He also wrote Midnight which was an absolutely fantastic exploration of a simple but effective idea. (The lack of long speeches from the Doctor and the simple realism of the little gang of characters involved makes me seriously doubt that Davies actually wrote it.) We would have thought that when making the final finale of Doctor Who ever, he'd be on his best behaviour..... Yeah whatever...

(BTW I'm not bothering with big caps lock spoiler alerts. This is your lot. I'm going to presume you've seen it already, so if you haven't then you read on at your own risk.)

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philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)



(Read the movie review...) )





(The following review includes a short summary of the endings of the four Doctor Who series, each one written by Russell T. Davies. Spoiler tags are made as clear as possible and the relevant section is placed after the main body of the review and my rating for this TV series. You have been warned. As always there will be as little in the way of spoilers for the programme I am actually reviewing as possible.)

(Read the series review...) )

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