Category Archives: Reviews

Jerry Springer: The Opera: the review

Because of a cancelled flight, I have a very rare evening of solitude (sitting around in an airport hotel) with no immediate demands on my time. Being an enormous fan of Stewart Lee, I took the opportunity to watch Jerry Springer: The Opera, which he co-wrote the words for (along with composer Richard Thomas).

jsto

Well, that was two hours wasted.

Continue reading

Two film reviews: The Desolation of Smaug and The Desolation of Smaug

I’m just back from seeing The Desolation of Smaug with the family and I’m really not sure what to think. I enjoyed lots of things about it, but still left feeling very dissatisfied. I liked the Tolkien material very much; and I liked the comic barrels-and-dragons action-adventure lots, too. But I can’t for the life of me figure out what they’re doing in the same film.

The entrance to Laketown

The entrance to Laketown

Continue reading

What I’ve been listening to in 2012

But Mike, 2013 is nearly over!

True; but I won’t be able to tell you until 2014 what I’ve been listening to in 2013, so this is the moment to publish my much-delayed 2012 list.

vintage-av4-advanced-bass-guitar-sunburstl

Last year, I did this across a sequence of twelve separate posts (introduction, ten individual albums starting here, and a summary). That felt like a bit of a slog, and half of the album posts garnered no comments at all; so this year we’re back to the more compact format that I used for the 2010 list.

Continue reading

James Bond movies, part 6: Pierce Brosnan

[This series has been dormant for a while, but here is the penultimate part. To refresh your memory, see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.]

I have two confessions to make about Brosnan’s four Bond films.

pierce-07

First, they all blend into one in my mind in a way that none of the others’ films do. It’s pretty easy to keep (say) Thunderball and You Only Live Twice separate; or Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only. But while I remember seeing Brosnan in a sequence where he’s chasing a nuclear bomb down the inside of an oil pipeline, I can’t honestly remember if it was Tomorrow Never Dies or The World Is Not Enough.

Continue reading

The reason Doctor Who is the best thing on TV

[A revised and improved version of this essay appears in my book The Eleventh Doctor: a critical ramble through Matt Smith’s tenure in Doctor Who.]

Here’s the real reason that Doctor Who is, by a huge margin, the best thing on television. Even a rather forgettable episode like The Rings of Akhaten can provoke such different reviews as (in chronological order) Millennium’s, Andrew Whickey’s, mine and Andrew Rilstone’s.

Meet_the_brand_new_Doctor_Who_aliens_from_The_Rings_of_Akhaten

Continue reading

The Bells of Saint John (Doctor Who series 7, episode 6)

[A revised and improved version of this essay appears in my book The Eleventh Doctor: a critical ramble through Matt Smith’s tenure in Doctor Who.]

And so we’re under way with the second half of Series 7 — which really feels like Series 8, as it’s separated by the best part of a year from the first half, and has a new companion replacing the much-loved Amy and Rory. (In fact, we were under way a bit more than two weeks ago, but I’ve been insanely busy and not in a position to blog about the series until now.)

BOSJ-prequel

Continue reading

Some thoughts on The Hobbit, part 1: An Unexpected Journey

I saw The Hobbit this afternoon with my family, and on the whole thoroughly enjoyed it. It certainly avoided the trap I’d most feared — that by being a two-and-three-quarter-hour film of the first third of a not-particularly long book, it would feel padded. Instead, the time was managed well and the slower-than-usual pace gave the film time to breathe.

TheHobbit_021

Continue reading