Category Archives: Reviews

What I’ve been reading lately, part 23

The Enemy — Desmond Bagley

Bagley wrote about a dozen novels, all thrillers, and most of them excellent. They were written in the 70s and 80s, so they have dated in some respects — not least where then-cutting-edge technology is involved, but if you can overlook that they remain gripping and enjoyable.

The Enemy, alongside Running Blind and The Freedom Trap, is among the best of his books. (On the other hand, his last two novels, published posthumously, are the worst, and best avoided except for completion’s sake.)
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Judge Dredd (1995) vs. Dredd (2012)

As a long-time 2000 AD fan (I read it from Prog 1 and stayed with it for three or four years) I’ve been reading David Bishop and Karl Stock’s fascinating Thrill-Power Overload: 2000 AD — the first forty years [amazon.com, amazon.co.uk]. When I reached the section about the 1995 Judge Dredd film starring Sylvester “Rambo” Stallone, I was interested enough to watch it; and having seen that, I was interested to see the 2012 take starring Karl “Éomer” Urban.

So how do they measure up?

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Six films: Casablanca, Thor, Blade Runner, La La Land, Der UntergangPsycho

For one reason and another, I’ve been watching a lot of films recently. Here are the most recent half dozen, in the order I watched them, with brief comments on each. I have to say it’s been a good run: I really enjoyed all six.

Casablanca (1942)


A genuinely excellent film, though as always with all-time classics not quite as good as its reputation would lead you to think. Much hangs on the raw charisma of Humphrey Bogart (as Rick) and Ingrid Bergman (as Ilsa); Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo radiates all the charisma of formica, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s kind of the point that Rick and Ilsa are magnetically attracted but she is bound to Victor.

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Watch Rick and Morty

A while back, I read a tweet that said something like “Rick and Morty has more ideas in a single episode than most series do in a whole season”. (I wish I could find that tweet, but I can’t.) [UPDATE! Chris R found it, and here it is!]

That claim caught my imagination, so I watched the first season. You should watch it, too.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 22

Saga of the Swamp Thing — Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Toteben

I re-read this as part of my Alan Moore phase — following on from his Watchmen and Complete Future Shocks, and Andrew Rilstone’s Who Sent The Sentinels?, last time. It’s a fascinating read, having more in common with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics than with Moore’s usual work, with its dependence on supernatural themes and general feeling of being more horror than fantasy.

Swamp Thing had been a moderately successful DC Comics character from 1972 and 1976. Continue reading

The Good Life (1975-1978)

The Good Life is the archetypal 1970s British sitcom: a pleasant story about likeable people doing nice things. The story is negligible. (90% of it happens in the first episode, where Tom quits his job on his 40th birthday to go self-sufficient with his wife, Barbara.) When there is conflict, it’s quickly resolved.

Cast of The Good Life. Left: Tom and Barbara Good (played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall). Right: Jerry and Margo Leadbetter (played by Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith).

So it ought to be dismissable fluff; and in a way, it is. But it’s delightful dismissable fluff, and that makes it very easy watching.

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Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection

I watched the first episode of this program tonight. Verdict: disappointing. It’s clear that Blumenthal truly is an extraordinary chef, and must have unique and valuable insights into how cookery works; but In Search of Perfection doesn’t tell us what they are.

In the first episode, he cooks bangers and mash (followed by treacle tart). There is a lot of messing about visiting pig farms and suchlike before we get down to business. He makes his own sausages by what seems a ludicrously over-complex method that involves toast stock. There is lot going on; but we never find out why any of it is going on.

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