Stuff I’m watching right now to stay sane…

Ah yes, sanity, it’s an interesting subject right now and like the elevator industry for me it has it’s ups an downs… The truth is and although ‘governments’ are trying to get folks back to work and out of lock down, it isn’t over yet, not for a long while and personally I’m staying in for the near and possibly distant future. 

Just how am I staying sane every other day in this emerging world of being inside and sat on one’s posterior? It’s simple really, I’m re watching a lot of stuff that I liked in the past so here are a few recommendations that have been keeping me distracted from my own sanity…

Life on Mars – Series by BBC – Available via Netflix 

BBC One - Life on Mars

It’s hard for even me to accept that 2006 is over 15 years ago but facts and age realisations aside because Life on Mars is somewhat of a time travelling gem in my eyes. This is because the show has aged rather well and portrays 1970’s Manchester through the eyes of Detective Sam Tyler who is run over in the present day and wakes up there – it’s a pretty genius and ‘out there’ concept that works. Sam must survive life in the 70’s as a detective and find a way home.

There’s a level of authenticity about the whole thing and not to mention the atmosphere is captured well. Now I was born in the late 80’s but after watching it beside my Old man back in the day who left school in ’74, he can vouch for the authenticity of what is a police procedural show that captures the times and has a side serving of science fiction/Bowie-esqe weirdness. Because it arrived in 2006 there isn’t a lot of PC stuff which makes for more realism and if you do watch it, the show is dominated by a great performance from Phillip Glenister who plays the boozing, scruff snatching, say what he want’s DCI Gene Hunt and not to mention the soundtrack is golden!

The X-Files (Season 2) – Available on Amazon Prime 

Without doubt Sci fi television what not be what it is today without Mulder and Scully’s antics. I’m currently near the end of Season 2 and this show overall is still very watchable and stands up to today’s standards. Just the stand alone capers these agents find themselves in make for some great 45 minute escapism with a hint of the weird.

Amazon.com: The X-Files: Season 2: David Duchovny, Gillian ...

Spotlight – Netflix 

Although it’s not a show, Spotlight is a great film that has been on my sights for a while and so the other day I spent an evening watching what is a gripping roller coaster of deception and unravelling of truth. The film follows a group of investigative journalists in Boston who uncover the truth about a racket of sexual abusers in the Catholic church.

Spotlight (film) - Wikipedia

What hit me the most was how determined these journalists were in finding the truth. They weren’t looking to create a story, they were proper journalists – unlike many in the media we see today. It just reminds us how there can be responsible ways news can be reported as opposed to the fear mongering, bad news churning machines most outlets are today.

The cast is stellar, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo head up a great film and story which will keep you gripped.

The Walking Dead – Season 3 – Available of many platforms 

The Walking Dead season 3: All named character deaths

It’s such a shame this show became what it did, but back in the day in the earlier seasons this show had a heart and soul. It portrayed horror and the struggle of surviving. The characters and their arcs were like nothing we had seen in the genre. It was beyond a soap opera, it was an art that the actors wonderfully created. The acting in this thing has always been great and recently I have been working my way through what is a show that I keep close to my heart- up to season 6 anyway.

For those who have never tasted water from the walking dead well, try the first few season and you’ll understand.

Aliens – DVD 

Aliens (1986) – Deep Focus Review – Movie Reviews, Critical Essays ...

Possibly the finest hour of space action. Aliens is the blockbuster sequel to possibly the finest hour of space horror and they are both in my top 10. James Cameron directs what is both action and horror fused together by the unknown of what a small team of mercenaries and a survivor from last time face. The cast, the production design, the action, the suspense all of it still hold up very well today for what is a film that released way back in 1986. The extended version isn’t that much longer than the cinematic version so it’s worth a look. Of course Sigourney Weaver sealed her place in the action hero hall of fame. Watch it, you will not be disappointed.

And so that wraps up the things I’ve been watching to stay sane. What have you been doing to stay sane? 

Lock down Survival Binge-watch Recommendations

I love me some good TV and the longer a series is the better. Call me a character development buff because I am, and seeing as many places all around the globe are facing lock down situations this is a perfect opportunity to kick back and watch some good shows!

Here are my binge watching recommendations for surviving lock down!

For a show that started way back in 1993 you would have thought as a 90’s kid I would be down with the X-files but the truth is (no pun intended), I have only just started watching it!

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Now my Mrs finds the show’s theme a little eerie and vividly remembers being scared by the Simpsons X-files episode (which was awesome too) but I will admit this show is great and even for something on the more retro scale it holds up quite well.

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s my upshot…

‘Fox Mulder’ (A young David Duchovny) plays a ‘believer’ of a Special Agent in the FBI who spends his time investigating the macabre to the paranormal and everything else in between. These investigations are known as the X-files and Agent ‘Dana Scully’ (an even younger Gillian Anderson) is tasked with finding out if the x-files is a viable resource in the FBI while inadvertently being swept up in the storm of belief.

Their on screen chemistry works incredibly well and very early on they become good friends, their partnership carries the show in what follows a monster of the week formula (anything and everything in sci-fi) while also delving into a longer ‘the man is always watching’ type story arc.

The main selling point is that the X-files is available on at least one platform wherever you are in the world and the amount of episodes (8 series worth) is a sure fire way to spend lock down and survive it! 

We’re going to continue with the Sci-fi theme and look at what I consider to be the best ever Robot fiction show and possibly story…

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Westworld ticks nearly every damn box available for a show with such a high quality. I was blown away by the first season which introduces us to a distant future world with a living, breathing and gun toting amusement park; hence the name of the show.

Guests pay money to basically live and stay in a Red Dead Redemption type world; they can befriend people, go on quests and pretty much do what they like. The world is populated by ‘people’ who are in fact very real looking robots and this is where the performances grip you.

Evan Rachel Wood is exceptional in this as ‘Dolores’ and for television it’s an all star cast including James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and the one and only Anthony Hopkins who brings a master class level of acting to this show that explores the morality of robots in confinement who are forced to do everything over and over again.

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Evan Rachel Wood

The first season is just the tip of an incredible underbelly with twists and turns but most importantly, revelations! Even for those who think sci fi isn’t their cup of tea, the performances and story will grip you, trust me! 

There are currently 2 seasons available with the 3rd currently being broadcast over the next few weeks!

We’re going to take an almost swerve in another direction now and head into true crime which is a genre if done well that I cannot look away from.

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes sheds a brand new murderous light over one of the most infamous serial killers of the 20th century. This show also introduces it to a brand new generation of folks like me who was born the year (spoiler alert) Ted Bundy was executed…

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The tapes consist of interviews Bundy did while on death row as he reflects on a life that involved brutally murdering many many women. For a 4 part series it manages to cover in detail his chronology in doing what he did. It’s stylishly cut and put together with archive footage and interviews that make it a chilling but ever so addictive binge watch!

Available on Netflix this one will distract you for a while! 

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Continuing with the Netflix documentary theme this one you’ll find to be absurd and a little bit harrowing because the Devil Next Door is like something from a film but it actually happened. Quoting the google (because this pretty much covers it), a Cleveland Grandfather is brought to Trial in Israel, accused of being the infamous Nazi death camp guard Ivan the Terrible…

Trust me when I say this one is addictive, gripping and of course it pays homage to the so many people who faced atrocities during WW2 who still deserve to be remembered for what they went through. Here’s my full review… 

It’s not all Netflix originals or HBO because here at the Hall of Information we have to give credit where credit is due and AMC have put together some awesome shows over the years. Even if it has fallen out of favor from me The Walking Dead is a binge watch institution and I am going out on a limb to say, just watch the first 5 seasons…

 

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The characters, the setting, the special effects, the story and hell the theme song along with everything else cannot be faulted with the first 5 season of TWD. Considering what’s happening just outside our windows this one will capture your imagination and heart.

Seeing as the amount of time we’re all going to be in lock down may change, you shall probably be seeing more television rec’s quite soon! 

Have you got a binge watching recommendation for lock down?

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #58

I’m sad but proud. After spending ten consecutive years performing for my community drama club I have hung up my ‘acting’ boots – they were a fine pair of acting boots, very comfortable in fact and the parts I have trod on that stage will stay with me for life. The truth is I thought I would be a lot more upset but I guess the pride and happiness of what has been achieved in those years is shining brighter than anything else. And the real truth is, I’m not leaving for good, I’m just leaving the stage…

Over the past couple of years the Iver Heath Drama Club has entrusted me to write their annual pantomime shows; a leap in its own right and possibly the greatest compliment my writing and myself has ever received. That’s what I am going to continue doing, writing stories which is the dream that was forged out of performing for that wonderful club. I vowed to that family to pledge my pages, my pen and my stories – a deal that I will honour for as long as I write.

As a performer I got the perfect ending on that stage, having adapted our own version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs I was then cast as the Magic Mirror which is apt because ten years ago it was my first role. Sometimes things go full circle. This time around I gave that role more meaning and along with everything I had gained on that stage it became the epitome of all of me. Even though it sounds like this was all about me, it wasn’t and this ending was about passing on the torch, or crown to those who deserve it.

While the high of the most successful IHDC show begins to wear away I shall recede back into writing stories and reading some truly wonderful stories on my TBR list. While one door closes many other will open not just for me but for those who let me belong to what is a fantastic community run club. I have already drafted next years script!

And just remember this;

The greatest stories aren’t the ones we read,

The greatest stories aren’t the ones we write,

The greatest stories are the ones that we live.

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Stranger Things: A review: More like Better things

So many of us know that one day the post-apocalyptic survivors will consist of Trump, Google and Netflix.

Right now I’m happy with the latter surviving especially if they keep providing decent original series like Stranger Things. An eight part mystery horror set in 80’s small town America. The cliché boxes are literally being ticked as the first few minutes of the show play out, what I can say is that on this occasion, cliché is your friend.

stranger things

We don’t do spoilers here at the Hall of information, but we do our best to persuade you, valuable reader, to go out there and watch the shit I watch. Then we can converse over a few vodkas one lunch time about such things. Yes, my lunchtimes are wild.

So the Duffer brothers have done their absolute best to bring you all a show which from the very beginning pays homage to Stephen King and John Carpenter style story telling . This is also completed by the postmodern synthy type music that plays as we see the red neon writing that reads this show’s title. There are numerous 80’s greats that this show tributes, something which JJ Abrams tried to do with super 8 but just missed the mark.

Some of these tributes include the goonies with a great group of leading kids whose characters contribute to believable situations in an unbelievable situation. When they are not on their bikes they are forever referencing geek stuff such as dungeons and dragons, Star Wars and x men stuff.. An escaped mystery girl with telekinetic powers even mirrors Carrie in some senses.

The first billed actress Winona Ryder plays an older single mum struggling to meet ends when her youngest of two sons mysteriously goes missing. Although she does over play it sometimes, her performance is mostly positive.

The town’s nearby department of energy are more than just a power station and so the premise of mystery along with this kid going missing quickly ensues.

We see the town’s rugged and somewhat over the hill police chief, very well depicted by David Harbour bring a performance of a man whose witnessed great loss but will do anything to find this missing kid. His solo scenes are something which can only be described as a joy to watch, all the more reason to get behind him. His chemistry with Winona Ryder make two brilliant leads along with some of the older kids. All of them with one goal. To find out what happened to this missing boy and what is going on in their town.

Even just as a look back at a time of such rich pop culture makes Stranger Things probably the hottest show on Netflix right now. The music, clothes, cars and look are all something an immense amount of effort has gone into.

We’ve all seen orange is the new black, now its time for horror to rule for a while.

The pacing, atmosphere and characterization are well achieved by the writer/director brothers who have brought an instant cult classic which I urge you all to watch. Yes you may cower behind the sofa but you’ll be better for it.

It really is about time that we stopped relying on House, Buffy and breaking bad to re watch for viewing pleasure. There is new stuff and its good.

The show can either be seen as a stand alone or with plenty of stories left open. If a season two is on the cards, it has my vote.