Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Bountyhunting: In Hyperdrive.

WARNING: This is a mash-up. It's Star Wars fan-fiction, written in the style of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. I absolutely adore both so it comes from a place of genuine love, but be aware that the second of these influences means that the post contains some of the foulest language ever to appear on this blog. If the swearing will be a problem for you, there are lots of far less profane posts right here. For everyone else, strap in...

Photo credit: Electronic Arts.

Ah do wish ma bandage-faced chum The Deng Heap would just admit he's usin again. It's fuckin obvious tae everyone. When he's snortin the spice he comes up in this rash roond his face. It's fuckin mingin so he wears the bandages tae try an hide that. Daft shite hasnae twigged it just draws more attention tae it. But when he starts wi the full stim-packs - that's when his skin really takes a dive an you're glad ay those wraps jist so ye dinnae have tae look at it.

It disnae help that Dengs is a fuckin liability in that state, an'aw. Nae use havin him on a job when he cannae find his own erse wi both hands. An the fuckin smell. You do NOT want to be stakin out a target when Dengar's incoherent AND sheddin...

We don't need that radge shite cramping our shtyle with the ladiesh, do we Mishter Fett?
No Doctor Jonesh Shenior, we mosht shertainly do not.
Becaushe who do we trusht with our reputation?
Why, no one of courshe.
Not even ourshelvesh?
. . .

Dengs used tae be a fuckin player, man. An a winner an aw. We made a guid team. We still could be, but... well, it's no professional that's aw. Costin the crew money is one thing, dentin the credibility is quite a-fuckin-nother. Ah suppose aw the time ah'm hangin aroond wi they losers everyone can see how fuckin great ah am. No, onwards an upwards as young Boab goes fae strength tae strength.

Bossko's no much fuckin better. He's on a thing for Aldera brandy at the moment, thinks it makes him look classy wi the chickies. Ah mean aye, it's expensive an aw, especially since the place blew up, but that's just a marketin gimmick. They make that pish tae licence on every planet wi a distillery. Might as well drink blue fuckin milk fir aw the street cred it gies ye. No that I'd advise bringin that up wi the cunt, mind you. If Bossk's go one solid quality it's that he'll bring any situation tae a heid before ye've had time tae order a second roond. It's just managin that solid quality that's the problem.

But fuck all that. The sun is shinin, the game is on and I am in hyperdrive, hyper-fuckin-drive. A couple of gigs have just landed fae oor friends in the Empire, an ah've go some guard work on wi Jabba. It's mebbe a little demeanin fir someone as recognisable as masel, then again it's guid fir punters tae see that ah'm connected. It's a decent hourly rate, anyways.

That's no the only reason ah'm daein it, mind. The Hutt's go intel that that radge cunt Solo's back in town, right efter he flushed a load ay Jabba's gear he was carryin when the Imps showed up. So Jabba wants tae go by the dockin bays an have a word - in person likes - an needs a bit ay muscle on standby. Well ah'm happy tae help.

Why the fuck Solo's back here ay all places is beyond me, but ah'm up fir watchin the two ay them tiptoe their way around no slottin one another right aff the bat. Efter aw, Jabba disnae know it was me that put the Star Destroyer Commander ontae the Falcon's cargo, an Solo disnae know it was me that picked up the gear in a stolen shuttle efter he shited it an punched lightspeed. It's probably a good thing the famous Fett visor will be coverin the fuckin grin on ma face. A shiteload ay spice fir free, an plenty ay contacts fir movin it on at premium prices. Ka-fuckin-ching.

It's all business, of course. All product. All cashflow.

But there'sh shtill that voishe, ishn't there Misther Fett? The promishe? The Spishe?
That there ish, Doctor Jonesh, but we're better than that today.
That'sh what we shaid yeshterday...
. . .

An ah get it. Ah've been there, we aw have. Most ay us, anyways.

Spice is the only honest drug. It disnae alter yir consciousness, it expands it. You become a sortay voyeuristic parasite, able tae read everyone's thoughts, fears, dreams. And it is fucking superb. Aw of a sudden ye're connected tae everyone in the room, in the buildin, in the town. An in a town like Eisley, that's quite a fuckin thing. Every pit ay despair, every nefarious deed, every height ay ecstasy, you are THERE, you are bein those people and you are fuckin CONNECTED, man. This must be what the Force feels like.

An then last time, ah did it.

Ma consciousness drifted right out an was drawn tae some Jedi cunt, out past the dunes. An what's worse is, HE KNEW, no like aw the others. It wis like he looked straight back intae me. How the fuck is that auld bastard even alive out there? Then aw of a sudden ah'm ten years old an back in that arena, starin intae mah da's lid. He's gone. Deid. Ah've just watched ma da - ma only fuckin family - get murdered by a fuckin Jedi. Cut doon like a fuckin rag doll. Heid slashed clean off. It's there an then that ah make this vow; that I am goin tae wipe those pious shites OUT, any fuckin way ah can.

An ah think aboot that moment every day when ah put the helmet on, an it disnae go away when ah take it off. Ah dinnae need tae relive it on mah downtime when ah'm off mah box.

An that's why ah'm daein this. Ah am goin tae take every last one ay they cunts down. If ah can make a wedge ay credits along the way then aw the better, but first an foremost it's aw aboot that mission. Because that's it, ah've found fuck all else - nuthin - tae fill this screamin Sarlacc pit in the center ay ma chest, pullin me in like a fuckin black hole...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Bountyhunting: The First Kill In Ages.

WARNING: This is a mash-up. It's Star Wars fan-fiction, written in the style of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. I absolutely adore both so it comes from a place of genuine love, but be aware that the second of these influences means that the post contains some of the foulest language ever to appear on this blog. If the swearing will be a problem for you, there are lots of far less profane posts right here. For everyone else, strap in...

Photo credit: Lucasfilm archives.

Ah can already tell, it's goin tae be one ay those nights. Ah prefer it busier, but ah can make it work even when the diner's deid like this. Bodano's sittin lookin bored. Dex is in the kitchen, preparin food he hopes will be eaten. Ah'm jist waitin by the bar, tryin ma best tae drag it oot. It's all too easy.

Three guys come in, obviously drunk. Imperials. A Vice Admiral and two Captains. Their uniforms might say officer-class, but the way they're actin suggests the opposite. Ah'm no sure where they've been roond here tae get intae such a state, but we're happy ay the business. Not many places in the toon like their sort, not that anywhere can really '"ban" the Imps and they'd be stupit tae even try. But the grey-suits aren't shy wi showin oaf their hireys. Plus it tends tae keep oot the local trouble, so management's happy.

— Table for three, Alderaan brandy and Andoan wine, none of your piss, sais the tallest one. He's a mean lookin prick and he's a regular in here. The other two aren't quite as cocky. Younger, lower-rankin, although ah'm sure they'd be cunts in thir ain right given the chance. Bodano keeps his face Sabaac-straight and sits them far enough back fir they tae feel like they've go an swanky table, and fir us tae ken they're ootay immediate sight ay other punters walkin in.

Of course it's me that's got'tae deal wi them fae now. Nae bother, that's ma joab. And sure enough, the ranks might range but they're all cut from the same shite-stained cloth. Barkin fir more drinks, orderin things they think are outrageously indulgent even though this is a diner in fuckin Anchorhead.

— What do you call a good looking woman on Tatooine? one ay the Captains sneers.

— A tourist!! the other one chimes, leavin it a beat too late while makin sure he wisnae steppin oan the toes ay the boss man at the table by answerin. The Vice Admiral's not bothered though, he's happy feelin like he's the maist important prick in the sector.

— Oh I don't know though, he comes back at them while he's looking at me, — I wouldn't kick that one out of my quarters... what time are you finishing tonight girlie? he grins. Ah jist smile and mumble somethin aboot workin the overnight shift as there's a big liner due in before sunrise-one, but ah'm fuckin seethin by now. Ah'm keepin ma eye oan this cunt awright.

At one point they're actin like they're aboot tae send their mains back tae the kitchen. Nothin wrang wi them, they're just bein erseholes fir the sake ay it. Ah manage tae smooth things over wi a line aboot 'distinguished guests'. That seems tae work. Guid. Ah've pit too much intae this joab for it tae go wrang this late oan. They're not anglin fir money oaf the bill - that's somethin that the plebs dae - they jist want tae feel superior.

So the tall one goes tae the fresher - he's been a couple ay times actually - and he comes back lookin green as a fuckin Duros. It disnae stop him bein a prize winnin dick, but at least he's not walkin oot. More brandy. Aye, that'll see ye right. By this point his Captains are too pished to see that somethin's not right wi their man.

Then halfway through dessert, the big streak ay pish makes fir the fresher - again - and jist slaps tae the flair. Ah'm worried he's hit his heid oan the way doon but naw, he's groanin and startin tae choke on his thick, swollen tongue. The Captains are awake now. Baith Hoth-white and not knowin whae tae call. One ay them jist fuckin bolts; ah'll bet he's great oan the battlefield. Obviously, as the attentive waitress ah dae what ah can. We've a medkit oot the back, but it looks like it's too late fir that. He's tryin tae breathe through his nose but even that's nae use as his eyes dull over.

The thing is, Vice Admiral Screed - whatever the holonet will say - wisnae poisoned. Sortay. It's jist that the particular Alderaanian brandy he demands develops a reactive sediment if it's not stored correctly. And that particular bottle ah've been usin tae serve the cunt all night certainly wisnae. Ah saw tae that. The sediment's not poisonous, though. But it sure as fuck reacts badly wi Colo Claw Fish and the enzymes in the Meiloorun glaze ah managed tae swap oot at the last minute when Dex wisnae lookin.

Jist bad luck, they'll say. Naebody could ay predicted it. The diner should be fine. Not that ah'll be aroond tae find oot.

It's a bold Hutt who puts a price on an Imperial heid. It's arguably an idiot whae collects it, but a girl's gottae make a livin. Huntin's aboot patience and not all joabs need a trigger. In all the confusion ah wis able tae take a swab as well as proof ay ID, and the proof ay death will be indisputable soon enough. After that ah can collect payment anonymously - minus handlin and cryptography fees - and that should take care ay the setup fir ma next joab. Ah'll need a small crew, but Dengs'll be ma 'in' there.

See, lettin some radge cowboy shite think he's killed ye is easy. Lyin low so that everyone else thinks that is easy an'aw. Humans are everywhere in this galaxy, near-humans jist as much, so blendin in as a normal punter is a piece ay pish. But the temptation tae get back intae the game? That's the killer. And watchin liabilities like Bossk and Fett cleanin up wi all the grace ay a toddler wi a gaffi stick? That's jist fuckin insultin.

Naw, it's time Aurra Sing finally stepped back intae the spotlight.
There's work tae be done.

It's all too easy.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Bountyhunting: Summer In Mos Eisley.

WARNING: This is a mash-up. It's Star Wars fan-fiction, written in the style of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. I absolutely adore both so it comes from a place of genuine love, but be aware that the second of these influences means that the post contains some of the foulest language ever to appear on this blog. If the swearing will be a problem for you, there are lots of far less profane posts right here. For everyone else, strap in...

Photo credit: Sideshow/Kotobukiya.

Greedo looks well. He boonces intae Chalmun's wi a smooth jaunt that suggests while he moves quietly, there's a surplus ay energy aboot tae come burstin oot. Ah've seen it look like nerves before, bit today he comes aff like he's full ay purpose. Makes a nice change.

— Awright Dengs, he sais. There's a smile in his voice. That's unusual bit ah'm no gonnae fling it back at'im.
— Aye, ah sais. — Been up tae much?
— Jist gettin by man, tryin tae dae ma best in this toon, ken? It's no easy, likesay. His voice cracks at the end. He puts his bottle on the table and sits doon wi the shadow ay a wince.

Now ah see that Greedo doesnae look sae well. Ah've met enough Rodians tae know that their eyes shouldnae be that cloudy, even oan a disease infested shite hole like Tatooine. He's lived here since he wis a bairn so ah think ah've taken it fir granted, bit the air cannae be guid fir him. He needs mair moisture, regular swamp-baths. That skin, though. That's no the air, that's him back oan the spice.

— Jist back fae Jabba's likes, he's go'a few new joabs oan, he sais. That's nae guid either. Any pickup fae the Hutt is likely tae be the dirtiest bastard at the lowest price goin. That fat fucker didnae get where he is by bein magnanimous. Still, at least oor boy's tryin tae work, an it's definitely better than takin hits fae the Empire.

It's shite bein a boonty hunter. Some people hate the Empire. Ah don't, they're just wankers. We, on the other hand, come crawlin fir scraps from wankers. Like abused spouses slopin home wi their heeds hangin low, wonderin how 'they' can make things better and no get belted again. Fer an absolute pittance, the Imps huv goat us scourin the systems fir smugglers they cannae be ersed tae deal with, even though it's their ain slack approach tae "galactic security" that's created these channels tae begin wi. We're basically huntin oor ain until some moff pulls oor names oot ay a hat. We're the scum o'the fuckin galaxy. Cannae even pick a decent culture to be the low-paid, legally disposable enforcers of.

— There's guild joabs still comin through though, ah tells Rodes. — Go'tae be safer, man.
— Aye, they're no gien things mah way at the minute likesay. Fell behind wi ma dues last year and they've pit me aff the list, man. Bit ah've go'tae work cause ah need the poppy, ken? His eyes start tae make a pleadin look wi that last sentence. Like he's aboot tae tap me fir cash. Ah've goat tae shut that shite doon pronto.

— We can help wi yer subs man, me and Bossko ken a few people an'aw. Bit yuv goat tae keep yer action clean, aye?
— Ah ken whit ye mean Dengs. He's more quiet now, almost confessional. — Ah'm jist... daein a bit ay gear at the moment, man. Jist at nights, ken? Tae wind doon an that. It's no like it wis, though.

Like fuck it's no. The problem is that spice slows Rodes doon. No physically, if anythin he's quicker than ever when he's high, bit the decision makin behind that. He jist dithers aboot, like he's in a trance or somethin. That's no guid oan a joab, it'll get ye killed. An'if a target disnae take him oot, Bossk probably will. The Trando's a volatile bastard at the best ay times, bit get between him an'a payaff and he'll chib ye like it wis yir ain heed oan the puck. The Rodian's handy tae have aroond though. Ah mean he's slight so he's nae guid in a proper swedge, an the spice jist makes him thinner. If anyone comes inside his firin arc then Rodes is goin on his erse at a minimum. Bit he's always been shite-hoat wi guns. Pistol, rifle, rocket launcher; if it's go'a trigger, that Greedo'll get the joab done. Bit whit use is that whin he's too spaced oot tae pull it?

No, between his precarious profession and his personality problems, this will not end well for the Rodian. And wuv bin doon this road so many times it's practically named efter him. Ah like'im bit ah can jist feel it. It's a deed end this time. Greedo will not survive summer in Mos Eisley.

Aye ah cannae talk, bit still. Ah've bin known tae dabble fae time tae time, bit spice disnae affect humans the same way. Well no quite the same anyways. An'ah see the attraction, it's the simplicity. When yir oan spice, yuv only go one worry: stimmin. When yir aff it, yir suddenly obliged tae worry about all sorts ay other shite. Go'a target, too much chasin; ha'nae go'a target, nae money fir hyperfuel. Go'ay lassie, cannae get away tae work; ha'nae go'ay lassie... well, ye end up here in doontoon Mos Eisley fixin that.

Ah'm okay, though. Playin it cool wi Aurra Sing at the moment. Ah think ah'm in there, bit ah dinnae want tae move too fast an'blow it. She keeps hangin aroond'aes so ah mist be daein somethin right. No that ye can really build relationships oan the hunt. Ye can barely build acquaintanceships.

— Nae friends in this game, awnly associates, as Boab says. Mind, enough ay his associates huv been shafted over the years that ah'm pretty sure there are nae fuckers left who want tae be his friend tae start wi. He's guid tae huv inside the tent pissin oot, bit that's aboot it. Still, sooner or later it'll be mah name comin up oan an Imperial chain code an'ah fuckin know that Boab'll be first in line tae pick that'n up.

Mebbe ah can git oot. Bit ah'll need mair cash, an'ah can only dae that by stayin in. This shite's too complicated. There's all sorts ay reasons to be oot o'the boonty huntin' business, aye. Bit then, who needs reasons when yuv goat spice..?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

2020: A Year In (lack of) Review

2020: A Year In (lack of) Review.

A Year In (lack of) Review

How long does it take to break a habit? 21 days? 66 days? 254? It's no secret that I've tried, albeit unsuccessfully, on several occasions to cut down on the number of posts here at World Of Blackout. Since beginning film reviews in 2011, they quickly became a hobby that turned into a dedication, and from there into a passion and at times a habit. A time-draining obligation, rather than something to be enjoyed for the hell of it. Because if I don't watch everything (within reason), how can I find unexpected gems hidden among the filler?

As noted at some length previously, the past-time which was intended to make me look at film differently had done just that, but the flipside of the coin is that a movie left not analysed can feel like it hasn't been seen at all. Because I watch(ed) far too many to be able to remember the minute details of why the bad ones were so unenjoyable. That's where the blog comes in handy*1. Very much a written version of 'pics or it didn't happen'.


Anyway. 2020. After my usual flurry of cinema visits in the first quarter and amid rising concern about The Unpleasantness, I sat in screen five of my local on March 17th to watch a screening of The Mandalorian. I didn't return to my second-favourite building in Didcot until August 2nd. 139 days later. The cinema had been closed for most of the intervening time, of course, but even so. And it was Star Wars which pulled me back, rather than the raft of archive programming Warner Bros had supplied to cinemas in lieu of July's 'new' content. I watched a few movies there after that, largely in almost-deserted auditoria*2, but have to admit that under the circumstances didn't feel entirely comfortable there. Don't get me wrong, Cineworld were doing everything they damned well could to keep the doors open while keeping their customers as safe as possible but y'know: a virus is still a virus, no matter how well intentioned the hazard tape and perspex screens are. Because you can't safeguard against people, as we've found out. I visited the cinema 44 times in 2020, the lowest since this reviewing-project began. It turns out, all that was needed to change my cycle was a global pandemic and its associated teetering economic collapse. Not exactly what I'd have wished for, but that's what we got.

Nonetheless, after over fourth months away, the habit was broken.

And properly broken. Because I wasn't really writing about movies I watched at home, either. The cinema itself has always been my focus for the blog; the time-specific event nature of being in that big room at 8pm as the lights go down and no one's allowed to talk to each other or look at their phones or ask where they know that actor from*3 or press pause to go to the toilet*4. The bottom line is that I don't have the concentration or self-discipline to sit down in the house at X o'clock and watch a film and concentrate entirely on it. That's what I use the cinema for. I need the routine, the ritual, of cinema to get the most out of a movie. It seems if I can flop down in the house and watch one at any time then I just won't.

As the first lockdown took hold, the more macabre side of my personality saw me opening the pages of H.P. Lovecraft*5 and managing a mini viewing-season of movies inspired by his works. Alas, what remained of a release schedule during the year felt largely uninspiring, and did not prompt more small-screen forays.


And so, what else of this poster-boy for the dictionary entry of annus horribilis? Well, with the lockdown leading to a sort of background hum of anxiety resulting in no extended periods of concentration on artistic pursuits; being lucky enough to have a job which means I could work from home 90% of the time and spend the other 10% in the office when it's deserted at the weekends; and my brain replacing one 'get me out of the house' addiction for another in the form of a frankly-insane-sounding fitness challenge (because if I'm not at the pictures, the time's got to go somewhere), it's been fairly quiet around Blackout Towers. Other family-based factors came into play in the middle of the year (non Pandemic-related, but made all the more complicated by that situation) to ensure that 2020 will be a year best forgotten, as soon as we're able. Oh, there is also my podcast.

Actually, under the circumstances I don't think that one hyperlink is fanfare enough. The podcast is called THE PEGGY MOUNT CALAMITY HOUR, and while there's a review 'aspect' to it, it's basically me and the magnificent Doctor Velvet taking the piss out of TV programmes from the 1970s and 1980s. I'd struggle to label it as Comedy™, but there is laughter (and booze) throughout. As of New Year's Eve we'll have cranked out 27 episodes in 2020, and we're very proud of it. You can listen/subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Podbean, Mixcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn, YouTube, or even just bellow at your smart-speak and it'll play it (apparently). I should also point out that the podcast isn't intended to replace this blog, it just sort of has so far. It's definitely a different thing, though.

But hey, you came here because this is a review-site and I promised what little there was of a year to review. As in movies, not the year itself. And I did see some, although it feels like a lifetime ago. So let's have a look at what happened in the first two-and-a-bit months of 2020...


The Good...

The year kicked off with a much-anticipated outing which I appeared to give a relatively lukewarm reception, yet it's one I'd revisit another two times at the cinema (as well as going on a location-hunting pub-crawl!), then watch countless times after its release on DVD*6. The Gentlemen is far from perfect, but it's bloody good fun in an outlandish, self-contained way.

On a more unearthly bent, The Lighthouse is a stark, surreal and symbolistic masterpiece of art at the top of its game. Just under two hours of monochrome madness in an almost square aspect ratio, it's a film which is probably best appreciated than outright enjoyed, but every single frame is precisely what director Robert Eggers intended, and there's a purity to that which can't be beaten. Similarly, Saint Maud is a razor-tight slice of absolute paranoid perfection for fans of full-blown psychological horror.

And coming back to reality with a muted claustrophobic bump, Nick Rowland's Calm With Horses is an indie-drama set in rural Ireland which features performances worthy of the best intense city-centric crime thrillers. Barry Keogh and Niamh Algar play intricate, understated to support to the masterful Cosmo Jarvis, with the rest of the cast turning in roles which feel like Twin Town has been relocated to Craggy Island. It's beautifully bleak and not to be approached lightly.

But to put a real smile on your face, Armando Iannucci's The Personal History Of David Copperfield is, frankly, an absolute fucking joy. It's the film 2020 needed before it realised it was going to be 2020.

Other flicks which were Better-Than-Expected include the almost-inexplicably fun Sonic The Hedgehog, canine frontier-adventure The Call Of The Wild, Blumhouse's very (and very welcome) 21st century take on The Invisible Man, and the same studio's balls-to-the-wall revision of that old trope, The Hunt.


The Bad...

In the wise words of our friend Tanya, let's not fuck around. There was enough crap in the first quarter of 2020 to do us for the rest of the year; God alone knows what it would have been like if plague hadn't intervened. Michael Winterbottom's continuing collaboration with Steve Coogan went the full gleeful-self-indulgence in Greed, picking the broadest target that even early 2020 had to offer, and still managing to miss on account of Sony not actually wanting to slag off the retail industry, presumably on account of them having such a heavy stake in that as well. A lack of direction, narrative coherence and character-building make this one of the very worst films of even a limited bunch.

I say 'one of' because if anyone's going to fling glitter-strewn shit at a blanket and hope that enough sticks to be recognisable as a picture, it's going to be our friends at DC. Yes, Harley Quinn And The Fundamentally Unmarketable Title careered into our cinemas in February looking like a run down Ford Fiesta that had been smeared in glue and then used to ram-raid Claire's Accessories. With a story as aimless as the 'writer's room ADHD mood-board' which spawned it, this hastily assembled bolt-on to Suicide Squad set out on a mission to just have Fun™ but didn't even possess the basic organisation to achieve that. I went lightly on it at the time, but the taste it's left in my mouth over the intervening months demonstrates the full power of The Battleship Curve to chilling effect.

And speaking of effects, the year wouldn't be complete without a CGI migraine, punted out by Sony once more, and fronted by what convention dictates must be termed An Actor if only because he moves so he can't be proper wooden scenery. I refer, of course, to Dame Vin Diesel in Bloodshot, the crap movie's crap movie, a two-hour seizure-inducing screensaver, a constipated-faced girlfriend-fridging microcosm of everything that's wrong with the sausage-machine production of action cinema hoping to coast on the ticket-buying audience's goodwill. "Oh, this might be good!". It fucking isn't. Bloodshot is actively and unapologetically A Bad Film, and I feel no remorse in singling it out for abuse. No one forced me to watch it true, but no one forced Sony to make the fucking thing either. We play the hands we're dealt and we live with those choices. Vin Diesel chose to do this.

Oh and Dolittle. Christ.
Humanity deserves an asteroid, never mind a virus.


...and The Indifferent.

Okay, these are the tricky ones. The movies which make reviewing movies more difficult. There are usually some passable things to find within them, but the overall product is so insubstantial or mediocre than you know that you couldn't truthfully recommend anyone go out of their way to pay to watch them at a cinema. In fact, these are the movies which would also make for an absolute non-event of an evening indoors as well. There's not much to gush about but they're not atrocious enough for a good old-fashioned hate-watch. It's films like these which wear down my enthusiasm for cinema. 2020 was no different.

The year kicks off with awards-baiting season of course, and Bombshell, Just Mercy, Richard Jewell and Dark Waters all brought the most lacklustre methodology to highly emotive and morally righteous real-life stories. Basically, they're cinema for people who are interested in current affairs but not enough to watch the news.

Over in the land of make-believe, Spies In Disguise was a straight-to-video animated sequel which managed to land in theatres without the benefit of a much-stronger forebear, relying instead on Will Smith's name adorning the poster in what must have been an intense "one day in a recording studio" on his part. The Rhythm Section featured Blake Lively doing far better than Jude Law in an espionage procedural that's the equivalent of a roll of beige wallpaper, while everyone's favourite cardboard cutout Kristen Stewart leads a no-star cast through the grindingly adequate Aliens Underwater For People Who Haven't Already Seen Aliens Or The Abyss Or The Two Dozen Movies Exactly Like Them. At least Dave Bautista was precisely as one-note as he was always going to be in My Spy. I suppose I can't complain about that.

As for the rest of the year, with its mix of limited theatrical and straight-to-streaming releases as studios struggled to find a way, well lets just say that 2020 was great for burying things as Bang Average as Unhinged and Bill & Ted Face The Music*7 and The New Mutants - Fox's X-Menverse swansong that is every bit as woefully muddled as that troubled franchise deserves.

I've had enough of 2020 cinema and I was only there for about a quarter of it.


I have no fucking clue, in all honesty. How would I? This year has burned me out and obviously the worst of it isn't over just because the calendar changes. With the UK currently in Tier 3/4 restrictions and on the verge of another full lockdown, it will be some time before my local cinema re-opens its doors*8. And when that happens, I want to be there. Or more accurately, I want to want to be there. But that's not ready for happening just yet, which is just as well because neither am I. DC's Wonder Woman 1984 and Pixar's Soul are currently doing the release-rounds, and I have little interest in even watching either, let alone writing about them.

World Of Blackout still stands of course, and I have at least two themed movie seasons of home-viewing literally sitting on the shelf waiting to go. I just don't currently have the mental bandwidth to give those the scrutiny they deserve. Despite me sporadically looking for 'an out' from movie reviewing, and despite this shit-show of a year then providing me with one, I'm not done yet. Like Cthulhu, I'm just resting. Waiting. It's all cyclical, and soon enough it will begin again in all its monstrous glory, no doubt*9.

Until then (and to use the phrase that's become the vacuously retooled Keep Calm And Carry On poster for 2020), stay fucking safe, yeah?

Oxford, 2020.

So, instead of any cinematic content I can be arsed to actually write about, here's my seven question round-up of the year itself, instead...

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
Absolutely not.

Even the 2020 end-of-year clip show from Channel 5 will be unwatchable in its entirety. And not just because it's from Channel 5

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
No, it is an exercise best left alone, as and when we can do so safely.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
2020 is like a collaboration between Steven Soderbergh, Roland Emmerich, Michael Bay and Elizabeth Banks, brought to terrible life.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
The one saving grace of 2020 is that I think we can all agree on how fucking dreadful it was.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There's been a faint screaming pretty much every day in the back of my head since around mid-February if that counts?

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 0: I saw The Rise Of Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back and even The Mandalorian in the cinema in 2020.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
And that's being fucking generous, frankly.

*1 People who've met me in what we'll laughingly refer to as 'real life' will attest to the fact that while I can (indeed will) talk for hours on end about movies, conversations on cinematic stinkers are frequently punctuated with me going "right, let me just get my notes up" then going through a laundry-list of complaints I posted masquerading as a review at some point. No apologies for this. Pointing out that a film is crap is a tweet; pointing out why it's crap is a review. [ BACK ]

*2 The comparatively solitary nature of this was absolutely fucking fine by me of course, as that's how I prefer my screenings at the best of times. But it's no good when that attendance level applies to most performances and you're trying to keep a business afloat with re-runs of movies that people have either on the shelf at home, or one press of a Netflix/Amazon-shaped button away. I can hardly blame people for staying at home during a global pandemic, I was one of them. [ BACK ]

*3 Doesn't stop them of course. In the same way that signs stating "Customers must wear face coverings at all times, unless eating or drinking" are apparently translated as "Yeah, just buy a bag of popcorn and sit with it on your lap in the belief that this means you don't have to wear a mask even though you stopped eating it ten minutes into the film, you germy fuck.". Did I mention that I didn't feel entirely comfortable being back in the cinema? Because people? Tenet was busy to the point where I basically didn't dare breathe for two and half hours. [ BACK ]

*4 Although I'm sure that's in development somewhere. Built-in voting buttons on the seats where enough punters can get the film paused at any point so they can chat about the bits they don't understand while they sit with their shoes off. Did I mention that I'm not really missing the cinema at the moment? Because people? [ BACK ]

*5 An author of whom it's fair to say I like the idea of, rather than the actuality. Even leaving aside the more problematic elements of the man and how those infused his works, I've always found Lovecraft's prose somewhat inaccessible. While dripping dread antiquarian atmosphere, his inefficient paragraphs are far too long and feature way too many adjectives; the very epitome of style over content. Although it's become even more apparent over the years that this is now almost exactly how I myself am prone to writing. If only old Howard Phillips had employed sarcastic footnotes rather than xenophobia, we'd basically be on the same shelf, I'm sure. Yes, I'm saying I'm as good as H.P. Lovecraft. I told you this year had broken my brain. [ BACK ]

*6 Y'see, this is my brain. I've got Guy Ritchie's other gangster-flicks on DVD, so The Gentlemen has to be on DVD as well. I'm not going to re-buy them all on BluRay because I think they're perfectly enjoyable at standard-def on my laptop or the smaller telly in the spare room. My entire DVD/BluRay collection is split along these lines, until you get to Star Wars where I've got them on all formats. [ BACK ]

*7 I have to say I'm particularly impressed with the critical omertà surrounding Bill & Ted 3, joining the likes of Anchorman 2 and Zombieland: Double-Tap in being sequels to much-loved forebears which aren't particularly egregious, but that really have no fucking right existing. The world is precisely no better nor worse off for these movies existing, and it's easier to just politely not talk about them. [ BACK ]

*8 If, indeed, it's even able to do so. I mean I really don't want to be overly negative, but fans of cinema - even lapsed ones like me - are keeping an eye on this shit. [ BACK ]

*9 I mean here's me giving it all "Oh I'm not writing, I've got nothing to say!" - this blog post was only going to be three paragraphs, maybe four. And now look at it. And yeah you're right, I haven't mentioned 'those important films', 1917, Parasite or Tenet. Well, 1917 is very good but just doesn't seem to warrant mentioning above somehow, the relentless horror of war overshadowed by the rest of 2020. Parasite is basically fine. I can see it's great on a technical and intellectual level, it just didn't connect with me on an emotional one. And as for Tenet, let's just say it's not what a burned-out brain needs in a year like this. Mind you, Flash Gordon probably is and I still maintain that film is wilfully dreadful. I am however delighted that other people have fun with it after all these years.

Anyway, thank you for reading these footnotes. You've missed them this year, haven't you? The footnotes? I know I have.
[ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.