Saturday, 21 June 2014

Book Review - Hatchet Job By Mark Kermode

Hatchet Job
By Mark Kermode


I wonder if I'd get on with Mark Kermode if I ever met him. I think I probably would, even though I often disagree with him. Disagreeing with a critic is something that keeps the film community's heart beating, and while this book talks a great deal about the changing times and the changing opinion of critics, it also makes a a good arguement for their continued existence. Expertise is a big factor in the usefulness of a film critic in this day and age where film companies are now using random tweets from dubious sources on their advertising.

With the rise of online critics, the professionals have had to deal with a lot of competition from idiots like myself (see my now-defunct film site, Diary Of A Genre Addict, for my own examples), and Hatchet Job takes a look at how this has changed the film industry a little, and how it has certainly changed the public view of dedicated critics.

While not as venomous as his previous book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex or as funny as his near-legendary It's Only A Movie, Hatchet Job is nevertheless a thoroughly entertaining read for film lovers and popular culture historians.

Once again, the anecdotes are the most entertaining part (especially the "Well? Say it to my face!" conversation, which is a delight), but Kermode gets his point across well and with plenty of knowledge to back up his arguements. Do we still need professional critics? yes we do. The word 'professional' is the key.

While bog standard film nuts like me may well enjoy spouting off about films blindly into the ether, the pros have a more tangible audience, even now in the digital age. It would be a shame to see them vanish entirely. Especially as then there would be less books like this satisfying and well-written volume. With Hatchet Job, Mark Kermode reinforces his status as the UK's best film critic with a quiff.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

NEW NOVEL COMING IN OCTOBER


A project I have always wanted to share with you. 
A story that has lived with me for my entire adult life. 
A dark urban fantasy like no other. 
It's time to show the world what I'm really capable of.

October 2014.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

DELAIN - 'Stardust' music video

The new DELAIN album, 'The Human Contradiction', is getting some great reviews from around the world, and after a few listens I agree the praise is well deserved. The album isn't very immediate, instead improving with successive plays. 'Stardust' is one of the more versatile cuts from the disc, and proof that symphonic metal continues to evolve.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

METAL IS NOT TO BLAME


Following the tragic stabbing of the much loved teacher Anne Maguire at a Leeds high school, many media outlets are picking up on the fact that the boy responsible was both a metal fan and an avid gamer. Since the metal genre was born it has been blamed for all manner of ills in the world, murder, rape, crimes of every description, the warping of youth, the perversion of ideals and possibly even the downfall of civilisation itself. Well, what utter nonsense. You could just as well blame biscuits or flatulence for those same things.

Yes, metal often has a negative outlook, but it's more as social commentary and personal catharsis rather than a call to arms to slaughter people. If people are unhinged to start with, some loud music with confrontational or tasteless lyrics isn't going to tip them over the edge. The edge has already whizzed past them long ago.

The argument that metal causes crimes and mental disorders is as old as the music itself and remains unfounded. What about hip hop? Video games? Ultra-violent films? They don't create lunatics. None of these things do. The lunatics are already there, right around the world, and metal or any other media played no part in making them act a certain way. High profile court cases involving acts like Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne went nowhere in the 80s, and still the accusations come up whenever something terrible happens. The Columbine shootings come to mind as well, considering the media's association of the lunatics responsible with alternative culture.

It is all part of a pathetic need for sections of the media to find a reason, a scapegoat which can easily have the finger pointed at it in order to give a reason where there really isn't one. Society creates its own monsters. Be it a lack of medical and psychological understanding in our communities, a lack of compassion for people in need of serious help, or just plain old ignorance, the blame for these atrocities isn't to be squared at music or art or tomatoes or race or shoelaces or reality TV.

If people want to bring up the early 90s and the Black Metal controversy involving church burnings, murders, assault and the rest, then they're welcome to. The people involved in those occurrences were already psychologically troubled. Some issues with society can indeed be traced back to the media output that people consume, such as body image issues and unrealistic lifestyle aspirations through reality TV and fashion magazines, a skewed sense of monetary value, views on gender, orientation and suchlike are all being directly screwed up.

Niche genre music doesn't cause social ills. If anything it helps to prevent them. Metal is a genre which offers positivity through a negative release, catharsis instead of incitement. Exploration and entertainment rather than instruction. Art isn't a cause. It's an outlet. It's not a reason for terrible things happening, and yet once again it is being brought in as a scapegoat.

How can one of the most technical, intelligent and nuanced forms of musical expression be seen as an element in the cause of a terrible incident like this? You can bet a lot of our government doesn't like metal, and they go to war to murder thousands of people at a time. At home they ruin the lives of the country with misguided policies and well-documented corruption. Can we blame that on something too? Public school? An upper class out of touch with reality? Metal isn't to blame. Music never is.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

STREAM OF PASSION - "A War Of Our Own" video

Stream of Passion are an interesting band who stick out as one of the best of the whole female fronted symphonic/pseudo gothic metal genre. I've followed them since their first album and have always been impressed. This new material sounds like they have another winner on their hands.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: THE END


It is with a heavy heart that I must bring my comic book movie column, PANELS TO FRAMES, to an end for the foreseeable future. Created for the sight LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX, the column has been continuing here since LITM was taken offline for some important maintenance several months ago.

I feel that the column has run its course, especially with its true home out of action for so long. Plus, there are so many other people doing the same thing that I'm not contributing a great deal of use with the column right now.

I wish the LITM crew all the best of luck for when the site returns to active duty. And a big thanks to everyone who read PANELS TO FRAMES throughout its run. I'll see you at the cinema.

Monday, 17 March 2014

VHS ATE MY BRAIN - NOW AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE VIA AMAZON

Following on from the news of VHS ATE MY BRAIN's limited run of signed and numbered paperbacks selling out, I figured I should really post about the standard paperback being available to order NOW from whichever version of Amazon you use! Released through Amazon/Createspace, the 6x9 matte-cover paperback of VHS ATE MY BRAIN is just the thing to quench your thirst for retro/trash/horror video nostalgia. So please do check it out if you haven't already.

VHS ATE MY BRAIN on Amazon UK

VHS ATE MY BRAIN on Amazon US

Or just visit your Amazon of choice!

Many thanks from your humbled and slightly shocked geek,
Andrew