NetflixFest!: “Top Picks For Brad”

Behold! Brad The Binge-Watcher?! 

“Hi Brad! Thanks for joining Netflix. You’re all set to start enjoying TV programmes and films. We’re here to help if you need it” – Netflix. 

What do bloggers do when they don’t blog? 

They watch Netflix!

Yes, as a special birthday treat this year, Brad finally signed up to the top streaming service.

At last.

Had originally intended to join last September, but my laptop detected a virus so immediately denied access to the site. Besides, the urge to unwind “in front of the telly” after loooong increasingly-difficult days refuses to go away, despite hundreds of unappealing terrestrial and satellite channels now churning out a seemingly inexhaustible supply of the most insufferable pap!  

Lately, summoning the concentration and energy to sit through entire movies and novels has become an unnecessary pain (grief! Even the quality and quantity of my writing has suffered); therefore, the demand for individual TV episodes to offer me more taut writing and direction has become more pressing than ever. 

Okey-dokey, let’s see what Netflix served me during these past few weeks:

 

Takeshi Kovacs: “I didn’t ask you to bring me back into this world.” 

Laurens Bancroft: “All I ask of you is that you solve a murder.” 

Takeshi Kovacs: “Whose?” 

Laurens Bancroft: “Mine.” 

Heard some encouraging publicity surrounding Altered Carbona “futuristic thriller” based on the 2002 cyberpunk novel by Richard Morgan. It looked Blade Runneresque, but a tad rougher. Set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored, a prisoner, known as Takeshi Kovacs, returns to life in a new body and must solve a mind-bending murder to win his freedom.

Yeah, methinks, let’s give this a go.

However, after a brutal and brooding first half, the pilot episode proved too much of a hefty slog to sit through. Sheesh, if Brad WANTS to be belaboured continuously, monotonously, with unsavoury dialogue and uncontrollable violence, he can hang out any time @ Granny Turnip’s gaff down in our own village! For me, the whole point of watching Netflix shows during the late-night hours is the chance to ESCAPE into bizarre and/or intriguing (hopefully well-written!) worlds, away from the tedium, shocks and inconveniences of “real” life. 

The last slice of SF to bring an unsuspecting fella out of a 200-year carbon-freeze was Woody Allen’s Sleeper, an altogether more clever and rib-ticklingly funny adventure.

Takeshi Kovacs? 

Nah, gimme Takeshi’s Castle any day, man! 😉

 

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED ALTERED CARBON:

Lost In Space:

This version of the classic ’60s series has been totally revamped for the SJW crowd to such an extent that the makers forgot that annoying little matter known as The Script… It took me FOUR attempts to slog through the pilot episode, so felt no compulsion to click onto Episode 2. It’s oh-so-woke it ‘urts…

The Umbrella Academy:

“What if Wes Anderson made a superhero movie?” This intriguing – and, let’s face it, one heckuvan irresistible! – pitch drew me towards this series (based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name), but the pilot episode’s languid pace proved to be such an unexpected struggle. A pity, as one really hoped to enjoy this…

But never fear! 

It still resides on My List, so there is plenty of time and opportunity to return and reassess it. Besides, Pogo is quite an intriguing character, so am looking forward to catch more of him 🙂

Suicide Squad:

Oh, Good Lord, no. Avoiding this rubbish at the cinema became one of my Greatest Achievements of 2016… 

 

The Royal Cake-Maker: “I think you will be very pleased with the revised cake, Your Highness!”

King Zog: “Nice likeness, competent lattice-work; moving down… Sugar columns seem structurally-sound; back looks good, and just a cursory glance at the bottom tier and it says: “Get Bent Dad.” Isn’t that- WHAT?!! 

BEAN!!”

Matt Groening’s latest animation project: Disenchantment, intended as animated fare for adults, caught my eye upon its release last August. 

Even me Mum laughed when she first saw the portrait of its goofy-toothed anti-heroine: Princess Tiabeanie (or Bean for short). Her co-anarchists: Elfo and Luci (that weird cat!) are irresistible; thankfully, the snazzy scripts are uproariously funny, with lines and visual gags delivered at a rate more rapid-fire than yer standard trebuchet. And it’s difficult to select a fav character – another promising sign! Hard to believe it’s received mixed reviews – roll on Season Two already!

They didn’t have to put Bowie on the trailer – this already held a high place on my Watchlist.

Actually, one had wolfed down the whole Season before completing the first episode of Altered CarbonPerhaps the latter should have invested in a laughing horse… 

Elfo: “You do the slightest thing here and everyone freaks out! It’s like they’ve all got peppermint sticks up their asses.”

Kissy: “Ooh yeah! Your whining really turns me on…!” 

The Elf King: “Kissy! What in humping heaven is going on?!” 

Kissy: “Nothing, father!”

The Elf King: “Weirdo doesn’t take his pants off for nothing! Elfo! This is the last straw! You’re going to be punished!” 

Elfo: “What are you going to do? Give me a paddling with a big wallypop?” 

 

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED DISENCHANTMENT:

GLOW: 

From elves to leotards?? Now that makes sense… …

Suicide Squad:

Hey… didn’t we already-? How does enjoying a medieval fantasy cartoon make me want to watch THIS as well?! No Thank You! 

Black Lightning: 

Sure, why not? At the very least, it’ll be interesting to compare this with Marvel’s very own hot-headed, Harlem hard-hitter: Luke Cage.

OHO! Speaking of that bullet-proof bro… 

 

“Sweet Christmas!” – Luke Cage.  

Back in the day, one ish of Power Man and Iron Fist somehow found its way into my initial stash of comics, and into my heart. A considerable portion of my recent Bronze Age expeditions has concentrated on acquiring more ishs.

Why? 

In addition to being brash and super-tough, Luke Cage had an amusing penchant for yellow silk shirts and the peculiar habit of yelling: “Christmas!” during the more shocking moments of any of his action-packed capers. Both seasons of his TV series couldn’t possibly incorporate those particular character traits.

Or could they…? 

Mike Colter nails the indestructible titular protagonist, and the supporting cast – especially Alfre Woodard as the local corrupt politician and Mahershala Ali as her gangland cousin: Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes – are also impressive. And, of course, the theme tune is pretty slinky too.

It isn’t until the excellent Episode 4: Step Into The Arena, that we discover how Luke acquired his super-strength and bulletproof skin. Realising that he now has the power to punch through walls with his bare fists, he yes! – utters the above cool line. During his prison-break, he nabs some clothes from a washing line, including yes! – a yellow silk shirt. 

Ultimately, you’ve got one happy viewer here 🙂

Good gravy, Ms Evans – playing herself as one of the acts @ Cottonmouth‘s club – certainly knows how to get on the good foot!

Ain’t it funky now!

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED LUKE CAGE:

Iron Fist: 

It’s great to learn that Luke’s partner in Heroes For Hire acquired his own TV series too, but personally, not too sure about the choice of actor for the titular role, though. Nevertheless, will sample the pilot and take it from there. Ta very much! 

Jessica Jones:

Bronze Age Boy here is unfamiliar with this particular modern Marvel character, but you can’t escape those rave reviews for this series, now into its third season. So, naturally, one is curious to find out what all the fuss is about.

The Defenders: 

Oh yes please! Despite NOT featuring Dr. Strange, nor Valkyrie (not even The Hulk!), once Luke and Jessica’s respective series have been gorged, then this will be the logical progression.

Suicide Squad:

Aww… and you were doing so well… …

 

Landry: “We’re not going to stay and fight?!” 

Godfrey: “There are too many of them! We must make sure the Grail is safe!” 

Landry: “What about Acre?!”

Godfrey: “All is lost. We meet at the docks. Get the Grail! NOW!” 

Personally, this next choice is rather special.

Templar History has fascinated me for several years. Here in Southern England, a 900-year-old Templar church still holds regular services in the adjacent village; and in the next town, what had served as the regional House of Templars lies at the bottom of the river (that changed course over 400 years ago.)

Fortunately, Knightfall (originally shown on History channel) made for engrossing viewing. Beginning with a suitably cinematic portrayal of the Siege of Acre in 1291, the ensuing drama of intrigue and infamy, brotherhood and betrayal, never lets up.

Of course, there is another – more urgent! – reason for gorging on this opening season. In an intrepid – albeit shrewd – piece of casting, Season Two is graced by the addition to the cast of none other than Mark Hamill! For the last few years, this first-generation Star Wars follower hoped to catch a wizened, bearded Master impart his sage advice to young initiates…

Never realized that such a joyous spectacle would come, instead, in the most unlikely form of a drama series set in medieval France! 

Worryingly, it’s been a whole month since completing Season One, and there’s still no dickie bird as to when Netflix plan to play Season Two. Hmm, would subjecting myself to Suicide Squad help… rectify this matter? Uff, seems such a hefty price to pay…

This, below, is just a sample of what we’re missing:

Say! Who gets the tingles when he says: “…an impenetrable force“?! 😉

 

BECAUSE BRAD WATCHED KNIGHTFALL

A Series Of Unfortunate Events: 

Sounds like it could be the title to my Autobiography… Actually, that esteemed tome will be known as:

“From Brad To Worse: How To Survive A Whole Night Stuck In A Flamin’ Elevator Wth Marky “Mark” Frickin’ Wahlberg” 

Harrowing reading? Uff, tell me about it…

Transformers: The Last Knight: 

BWAHAHAHAHA!! Oh go away… Actually, best move on pretty sharpish meself before they recommend

Suicide Squad:

GAH!! Phooey, fiddlesticks and flapdoodle!! (Oof, pardon my FrenchOh, fer cake’s sake, this is gettin’ RIDICULOUS. Honestly, what part of “No Means No” don’tcha fellas NOT understand…?!

Ash Vs. The Evil Dead: 

AHA! My dear Netflix, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship…

 

Ash: “Yeah, we were just passing through – thought we’d pop in and say hi!” 

Kelly’s Mum: “Why are you covered in blood?”  

Ash: “Um, we hit a deer on the way up here, and when I tried to pull it out of the grill, the sucker just exploded all over us…! So we had to cut it up with my chainsaw… arm.”

Kelly’s Pop: “I’m actually a hunter and I’ve never seen a deer explode.”

Ash: “Well, maybe you’re not huntin’ the right deer…”  

WAHEY!!

Now THIS is more like it!

Confession time: Ash Vs. The Evil Dead was my Second Main Reason for signing up to NetflixYou can probably guess what the First happened to be; let’s just say that: in forthcoming Posts, Things will be getting a whole lot Stranger on Bradscribe 😉

Ash Williams is one of the legendary characters in horror movie history and, as you may recall, holds an eternally-reserved place in Brad’s Badass Brigade Three decades after the original cinematic mayhem, this series opens with Ash Williams – played as always by the irrepressible Bruce Campbell – trying to carry on a “normal” life, hidden away in some deadend trailer park, “working” at a local DIY depot. Yet after some decidedly dodgy pot-addled shenanigans, the NecronomIcon is inadvertently opened once more, and a new wave of deadites lurch forth into our long-sufferin’ mortal plain.

And before you can say: “Suicide Squad is a right loada’ cobblers!!” Ash has reverted to his old uncompromising ways: shooting! slashing! mincing! and screwing! his trusty chainsaw back onto ol’ stumpy to gain the upper (ahem) hand.

Yay, the brawling badass with the boomstick is back!! 

And what a barmy, Bradshit bonkers – but brilliant! – bloodfest this series is too. It’s great to see Sam Raimi return to ensure that this wild and wacky ride works, and hear Bruce Campbell spout some truly hilarious one-liners in his own inimitable style. Such a supercool soundtrack too! 

It is one of those immutable laws: whatever Ash gets up to, Brad will always be keen to see what develops!

There was a time (many many moons ago, you understand!) when the goriest horror vids passed thro my rickety ol’ VCR; but, eventually, it seemed as though one had “grown out” of such explicit tomfoolery…

Nevertheless, the prospect of an Evil Dead TV series seemed just too groovy to resist.

Well, really!

A fella of my age?! Indulging in such an outrageous, gory, undeniably imbecilic freakshow?!

HELL yeah! Guilty as charged, baby! 😉

Ash: “You were right, no more running.”

Pablo: “It’s good to see you, Jefe!”

Ash: “Good to be back.” 

Pablo: “How does it feel?” 

Ash: Groovy…”

 

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Magic Sword – In The Face Of Evil: MARVEL Music Monday

Here We Go!

“So much has happened since I last saw you! I lost my hammer, like yesterday, so that’s still fresh. Then I went on a journey of self-discovery. Then I met you” – Thor. 

 

This live set by Brad’s new fav band: Magic Sword was performed in Phoenix, Arizona on 19 October 2016, about a few months before this track appeared on the trailer for

Thor: Ragnarok. 

Enjoy! 

 

“Mmm mmm mmm, he’s wonderful. It is a he…?” – The Grandmaster.  

 

Vivian Stanshall’s biG GRunt – 11 Mustachioed Daughters!

Manic Music Monday Continues – With A Black Sabbath Pastiche 

Why can’t I be different and unusual… like everyone else?” – Vivian Stanshall.

 

In compiling this week’s thrilling instalment of Manic Music Monday, only one influential individual came to mind.

Vivian Stanshall (1943-1995), highly eccentric, “as-English-as-tuppence” singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and side-splitting wit, most famous for writing and performing with The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. 

Wnen he wasn’t hanging out with John and Paul of The Beatles, getting up to wacky japes with Keith Moon of The Who, and recording his debut solo album with Traffic’s Steve Winwood, he toiled away – over several years – on an ingenious, seminal work: Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, an episodic surrealist radio serial especially recorded for BBC Radio 1’s John Peel show, chronicling the bizarre – but unfailingly hilarious, and highly recommended – (mis)adventures of inebriated and irascible old codger: Sir Henry Rawlinson. 

This Christmas, it has been great getting reacquainted with this blinking-bonkers masterpiece. 

Did some rummaging around online, and eventually discovered this obscure gem.

biG GRunt was “one of a number of short-lived groups” Viv formed following the demise of The Bonzos, but considering these groups featured the same core personnel, it could be argued that they’re essentially the same band masquerading under a variety of names. 

This rare performance (recorded in 1970) appeared on a BBC4 documentary about this exceptionally gifted inductee of the Bradscribe Hall of Fame: 

 

“We first met in a big Irish pub in South London, the New Cross Arms … Vivian was quite plump in those days, wearing Billy Bunter check trousers, a Victorian frock coat, horrible little oval, violet-tinted pince-nez glasses; he had a euphonium under his arm, and large, rubber false ears. And I thought, well, this is an interesting character… 

“He was – is – in terms of what he’s left behind, a national treasure…” – Neil Innes. 

 

“Curses! Birdman Is More Powerful Than I Expected!”

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

riggan

“How did we end up here? This place is horrible! Smells like balls” – Riggan Thomson. 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Not exactly, but it just swooped down from nowhere, winning critics’ hearts, rallying cinema-goers back into the popcorn parlours and even revitalising ol’ Batman’s career, before flying off again with no less than four Oscars in its clutches. Grand Budapest Hotel got four as well, but this one’s haul was more prestigious.

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the sensational black comedy drama from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu which fully deserved the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars respectively. It stars Michael Keaton as washed-up thesp Riggan Thomson, who is famous only for all three Birdman blockbusters, but they happened twenty years ago. Desperate to produce something intellectual and more fulfilling, he produces his own unlikely adaptation of a Raymond Carver drama on Broadway.  

Having already covered superhero movies here and here, it seems only fair to cover this movie. Besides the fact that Birdman makes for a truly awesome viewing experience, it latches onto the current overwhelming fad for superhero movies, but lets off a few gripes at this inescapable blockbuster genre at the expense of more potentially artistic and cerebral cinematic fare. Most tellingly, it managed to produce something refreshingly unlike other stuff hitting our screens these days…

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“Do not go to Birdman to relax. It stars Michael Keaton, who has always behaved onscreen as if he [had] a raging mosquito bite somewhere on his person but could not quite locate it… The Bat-Mantle has rested uneasily on Keaton’s shoulders ever since” – newyorker.com/magazine/   

The script is clever enough – there were quite a few engaging one-liners and two-way spats. A clever symbolic illustration of Riggan’s mental downfall is reflected in having the deep and menacing voice of the Birdman alter ego goading the actor as he broods in his dressing room.

Special mention goes to Edward Norton, as Mike Shiner – a dependable, but conceited, oaf of an actor. Talk about wanting to get noticed – he even comes out with snazzy lil gems such as: “Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige,” just on the off-chance that it’ll get quoted by Bradscribe! Close, but no bold font, bud… 

Equally impressive is Emma Stone’s gutsy performance as Sam, Riggan’s daughter/PA. Particularly affecting is her wailing diatribe about her father’s need to be relevant, and the rooftop exchanges with Shiner (Norton). 

Heck, not only is Birdman a cynical retort to celebrity and comicbook movies, but it reveals a weirdly compelling soap opera set backstage in a Broadway theatre. The much-heralded “flying scene” is made extra-special with the use of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No.2 in E Minor Op. 27. Reassuringly, it is an exuberant reminder of what modern cinema can – and should – produce.

and-the-oscar-goes-to-could-birdman-be-the-first-superhero-movie-nominated-for-best-picturejpg

“And I thought the ego is a tyrant, and I thought that would be a cool thing to portray in a film” – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Having departed the UK a few days after Birdman’s release on Boxing Day, shockingly it would not get released in Thailand until the beginning of February – what a dilemma!

These last few mad and delirious days have been spent in the fabulous Garden City of Singapore, where there is a greater choice of big screen delights to catch up with. You wouldn’t believe it, but on my first night, the first two cinemas checked out DID NOT show Birdman!! Come on! Where’s the respect for Oscar winners, already?! How is this Post going to get done?! Got Followers waiting – nay, crying out – for my comments on this brilliant exposition of acting and celebrity in the Facebook/Twitter Age.

It’s been good to be back in Singapore again; it is humid, hospitable, offers a more eclectic variety of movies at its numerous cineplexes… and doesn’t smell of balls… 

Apart from the costumed Birdman spouting into the camera that cinema-goers these days “crave this shit, they love blood. They love action,” it must be said that there is another demographic who crave something different and refreshing. Innaritu’s Birdman could not have come at a more opportune time. Talky? It’s well-written material, especially the jibe about Jeremy Renner and “his cape.” Depressing? We are on an uneasy ride through Riggan’s own mental turmoil. No matter how troubling these scenes may be to watch, it still makes for riveting drama. And philosophical? Nothing like a good study of general and fundamental problems as long as it’s handled properly… 

But hey, in that magic moment when Riggan clicks his fingers and all hell – literally – breaks loose, there is more marvel and mayhem than some of the top comicbook movies it digs in the ribs…

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919861-birdman

“It is a film that has been widely hailed by the critics, despite – I am sorry to say – depicting critics as fatuous, shallow, parasitic and prejudiced” – Peter Bradshaw.  

You’ll be happy – and relieved – to learn that Birdman didn’t incite yours truly enough to go marching through Singapore’s main shopping district in just his underpants… but as you well know, Birdman does give you that buzz which only well-crafted movies can deliver.

Riggan’s heartfelt plea to try and achieve something important in his life struck a profound chord with me. This blogger happens to be on a similar mission this week, to produce something meaningful, and stay relevant in rapidly changing techno-environs. Because – let’s face it – none of us want to be afflicted with the Kate Winslet Syndrome: being famous only for something done twenty years ago. There’s more to life than wasting time making silly videos and hoping they “go viral”… 

To think Riggan – wallowing in self-pity – laments: “I’m nothing. I’m not even here.” But… you made one heck of a lasting impression here, man! Good for you! You’re a movie star, man! 

And let’s be honest: we’re going to watch this instant classic again AND AGAIN just to hear you screech! 

Couldn't leave without this priceless scene, could we?
Couldn’t leave without this priceless scene, could we?

“That’s not the first time I’ve wandered through Times Square in just my underpants. Wait… you’ve never done that?! I thought everyone had…” Michael Keaton. 

Up, up an’ away, man!