Sunday, 26 September 2010

TAPE 211 - New short from Pete Middleton Pictures

Writer/Director Pete Middleton is a figure that many aspiring filmmakers really should investigate. His work is seen by countless thousands of people online, and is highly regarded by those viewers. The output of Mr. Middleton and his varied cast and crew (usually including the talents of actor and writer Aidey Pugh) is astonishing, but the really impressive thing about these films is their varied content and subject matter. Middleton has created a number of thrillers, dramas, comedies, horror pieces and monologues, and all of them are produced with the same amount of enthusiasm and skill.

TAPE 211 is the latest horror/thriller film from Pete and Co, and stars Vickie Powell alongside the inimitable Mr Pugh. It's a powerful and unsettling film, and well worth watching if you have any interest in independent cinema. After all, it's with indie films that we will discover our future icons.

The only real drawback to the production is a slightly flat recording of the dialogue, but that's a technical and budgetary issue rather than any problem with the cast. Check it out, and then check out more of the work these incredibly talented and driven people have brought to life. It's amazing what can be done with a tiny budget, as long as the talent is there.

(Click on the image above to visit the Pete Middleton Pictures YouTube Channel)

WARNING: Tape 211 contains harrowing material and is not suitable for children.

Friday, 24 September 2010

GeekBeat #39

Gotta love the Flip camera. I'd love it if a few more pieces of tech were that user-friendly. Now with an external mic it's even more of a no-brainer.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

DIGG: 4 The Record

See what I did there? For the record, I really like the new incarnation of DIGG, even though a fair few people have been having a few issues with it since the new version went live. A lot of users have been having some functionality issues with the site, and others have been talking about the loss of some features in favour of new ones.

Me? I've had no problems with Digg V4, and while it's not 100% perfect for the way I use the web, it's pretty damn close. I like the way it works, the way it looks and the new content I am being offered in my feed. The layout is simple and clean, and although it's not ideal for everyone yet, this is a progressive thing that is still in a state of transition (as with a lot of stuff online).

I'm not a coder or hardcore web design geek - I'm just a user. As a Digg user, I really enjoy the experience on the site, and Digg 4 is 9thus far) proving to be a more enjoyable and useful site for me to visit. Mind you, it does need more dudes sat side by side on sofas with laptops. MOAR!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Orianthi - "Believe" (2010 UK Edition)

“Believe (UK edition)”
Genre: Pop Rock/Pop/Melodic Rock

I've been looking forward to this one. Orianthi Panagaris is a name that is gaining a great deal of attention all over the world lately (and not just because she was Michael Jackson's guitarist for the 'This Is It' tour, which sadly never happened due to the star's death). I'm not much of a Jackson fan to be honest, so the first I heard of her was an endorsement from none other than Carlos Santana, who said that she was pretty much the heir to his guitar style. High praise indeed.

Then I heard that there was an instrumental duet with Steve Vai on her 'Believe' album, and I had to check her out. I bought the track 'According To You' long before its UK release, and was hooked by the perfect pop chorus and the delightfully OTT guitar solo. It was like P!nk covering Van Halen, and I hoped the album would bring more of the same. Does it?

Mostly. The album has some truly spectacular guitar work from Orianthi, and her vocals are pretty solid too, but there's not enough danger on the album. It's a strong pop rock record, but it could have been a classic had there been a bit less polish and a few more rough edges. 'Shut Up and Kiss Me' and 'Bad News' have some great hooks and superb musicianship, but tracks like 'Suffocated' and the rather painful cover of John Waites' 'Missing You' tarnish the album's good points.

Orianthi's guitar tone is sublime, recalling both Carlos Santana and Joe Satriani, sometimes in the same track. The 'Highly Strung' instrumental with Steve Vai is brilliant- a good, old fashioned rock track that sees the two guitarists facing off and having some fun. It's not a mind-blowing shred-fest, but it packs a real punch, and another instrumental track like this would have really been a boon to the CD.

As a long-term fan of guitar based music I must admit that I'm a little underwhelmed by the album, but I need to remember that it's a pop record rather than a rock album, and I'm used to rather heavier stuff, so I'm a bit biased. Take P!nk and classic rock act Heart, add some shred and some beautifully gentle lead work, and you have this CD. A great entry-level album for young fans to discover smoking guitar solos through, and a good melodic listen, if nothing earth-shaking.


Buy Orianthi - "Believe" on Amazon

Friday, 17 September 2010

Review: Tamara Drewe (2010)

Based on the comic strip by Posy Simmonds which ran weekly in The Guardian, the film version of Tamara Drewe does feel something like a series of three-panel strips. The scenes seem to be very short, making for some fantastic vignettes, but the pace of the editing and the gentle ebb of the story makes for something of a disjointed viewing experience. That's not to say that it's not a good watch. Quite the contrary, Tamara Drewe is a funny, engaging comedy drama with an exceptional cast and some truly biting dialogue.

The film follows the goings-on around a small village where a famous crime novelist plays host to a writer's retreat in the grounds of his huge farmhouse. A young journalist, the eponymous Tamara Drewe (played with much pouting by Gemma Arterton), returns to the village to sell off her family home and ends up causing all manner of chaos (and sleeping with almost everyone in the film). Add Dominic Cooper as a superstar drummer, cows, Tamsin Grieg being fantastic, intrigue, drama, laughs and two foul-mouthed schoolgirls, and you have a film that is highly enjoyable, even if you're not quite sure why.

There is little in the way of story progression for much of the film's running time, and it's not until the last quarter of an hour that things start to gel together. I really enjoyed it, though. I think this is largely down to the cast, all of whom play their parts with a great deal of reality. There are a few moments that almost seem improvised, such is the natural flow of the cast's chemistry. The characters are nicely complicated, too. No cookie-cutter stereotypes here (despite what some reviews will tell you).

I mean, take Tamara herself for example. Throughout the film's running time, you're not really sure what to make of her. At times she's sweet, then irritating, then downright foul, and back to sweet again. Y'know, this is no bad thing, as people are like that out here in the real world, too. Luke Evans turns in a fine performance as rugged rural type Andy Cobb, without being cartoonish. He comes across as a person who has been dealt some rough hands, and is just getting on with things. It's a nice touch.

Tamara Drewe is based loosely on Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd, but you really don't need to be into your dusty old tomes to enjoy it (which is of great help to me, what with me being a pleb in the eyes of many). The subdued script and the slow pace (despite the quick scenes) has no doubt turned a lot of people off it, but as a whole, the Tamara Drewe film is well worth watching, but possibly only if you are English, of a certain age (i.e. over 25) and not expecting a rip-roaring comedy. It's a gentle film with some great ideas behind it, and it's nice to see that Gemmma Arterton has more to her arsenal than just blockbusters and James Bond. If anything, the film could have been improved by having about fifteen minutes cut out of it. Aside from that, Tamara is well worth your time.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I'm excited to bring you news of a forthcoming new release from me! My next book release is to be DEAD THING, a brutal supernatural horror novella, which will be available in paberback and ebook formats in early October- just in time for Halloween!

Here's the official synopsis...

A Novella By Andrew Hawnt


A nameless entity is causing mayhem amidst the grey streets of an English inner city. It leaps from one host body to another, transforming each host into a bloodthirsty killer, then as it moves on to another body, it will chase down and slaughter its previous host.

The police involved with investigating the bizarre series of murders has enlisted an eccentric paranormal specialist, Patrick, who leads them on a desperate chase to track down the entity and stop the mayhem.

The formless creature enters a man, Kevin, whose long-term illness sickens it, and the entity leaves him before turning him into a killer. Now, Kevin has been caught up in the madness, and must work alongside Patrick and the police both to stay alive and to stop the thing that is turning ordinary people into monsters.

The creature knows it is being chased, and it is far from pleased. A rampage begins, and the city begins to run red with the blood of innocents. The race is on to find the dead thing's source and destroy it, or else countless more will die...


More news soon!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

CLiNT issue 1

It's good to see a new anthology title hit UK shelves. Aside from 2000ad and the Judge Dredd Megazine, there's no British title widely available for comics readers to lap up. Sure, there's the current incarnation of Tripwire, but it's a quest in itself to even find a copy, which is a shame as it's decent. CLiNT is the new anthology magazine from comics star Mark Waid and his merry gang, and features some great stuff including the exclusive first part of KICK-ASS 2, a reprint of TURF issue 1 and some truly superb original material.

The magazine looks fantastic, but there still needs to be some tweaking before it's just right. There are a couple of bits of it that are more 'Men's mag' than comic, and these would ideally be replaced with creator interviews or something like that, rather than 'celebrities' and 'hot celebrity mums'. And THERE IS NO NEED FOR JIMMY CARR TO EVER APPEAR IN ANYTHING. Seriously. He's about as entertaining as severe thrush.

While it's not perfect, I must urge anyone with a love for ballsy graphic storytelling to buy this title and support what there is of the UK industry. Remember, there's more to comics than just the US titles. CLiNT is off to a very good start. Now, a bit less filler and some more meaty content, please.

(PS: speaking of anthology titles, I really miss OVERKILL. Remember that?)