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Showing posts from December, 2017

Why I Love 2017 in Created Things

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2017, in some ways, wasn't a great year for me. I lost my father eight months ago, and have had some personal shit that didn't work out so well.  Luckily the year in created things was pretty great. I have listed my favourite music, video games, movies and television shows below. I close with a look at the best created work of any medium or genre.

MUSIC



ALBUM OF THE YEAR:Drake - More Life. Drake's best album, neck and neck with Take Care. A beautiful array of styles. Stunning production and hooks for days and days. He is the quintessential modern rapper/R&B artist. Flow into melody into flow with melody. More Life features some of Drake's best melodies in a career that has been full of them. Passionfruit is a highlight, as are Teenage Fever, Fake Love and Madiba Rhythm. Destroys Kendrick Lamar with a musical acumen that, for as good as Kendrick's lyrical chops are, Lamar just can't compete with. The best rapper alive today and one of the very best artist…

Why I Love The Black Dahlia

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"All right, listen up. No reporters view the body. You photo men - finish taking your pictures now. Coroner's men - put a sheet on the body as soon as they are done. We set up a perimeter six feet back. Any reporter crosses it - arrest him. Now gentlemen, before this gets out of hand, let's put the kibosh on something. With publicity, you get confessions. With confessions, you get crazies, liars, and false leads. So, we keep some things quiet. The uh, ear to ear facial lacerations, disembowelment - you keep this information to yourselves. Not your wives, not your girlfriends, and no other officers, and I mean no... Bleichert, what the hell are you doing here? Where the hell's Blanchard?" "He's right here."

The Black Dahlia directed by Brian DePalma and adapted from the novel by James Ellroy got a bum rap. It was reviewed very badly and was received poorly by the audience. When I first saw the movie, I found it disappointing, considering th…

Why I Love Twin Peaks The Return Music Pt 1: Shadow & Mississippi

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"Shadow, take me down
Shadow, take me down with you

For the last time
For the last time
For the last time
For the last time

You're in the water
I'm standing on the shore
Still thinking that I hear your voice
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?

For the last time
For the last time
For the last time
For the last time."

David Lynch has always had a deep feeling for music in his work. Think of Blue Velvet and its prominent use of the title track and In Dreams by Roy Orbison. Or think of the use of Locomotion in INLAND EMPIRE. Twin Peaks The Return has, in every episode a performance by a band or artist that reflects the story that was told in that episode. This is usually concluding the episode, but a few have it earlier. This is such a good idea, echoing in many ways the way Saturday Night Live showcase new musical guests every week. The music every episode evokes the mystical and mystifying quality of Twin Peaks. I will discuss two of my favourite musica…

Why I Love INLAND EMPIRE

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"Cast out this wicked dream that has seized my heart."

INLAND EMPIRE was before Twin Peaks The Return, David Lynch's masterpiece. A three hour epic exploring the human condition through many different stories that all come together in the end, expressing something truly profound about how we deal with trauma and the transformative power of art. INLAND EMPIRE is not for the faint hearted. It is the most challenging, hypnotic and mesmerizing film of David Lynch's career. There is about an hour of (close to) normality and then the bottom drops out and you are consumed by the terror and horror of a world gone wrong. I am not going to attempt to put everything in a linear timeline here. I am just going to try to express why the film is so moving, so terrifying and so damn beautiful.

Let's start with the basics. Laura Dern plays an actor named Nikki. She gets a part in a movie that is said to be her comeback role. The film has a strange history, as Jeremy Irons' …

Why I Love James Ellroy Pt 3: The Big Nowhere

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"The fire spread back and upward; the house became a giant sheet of flame. Buzz got in his car and drove away, red glow lighting up the windshield. He took back streets northbound until the glow disappeared and he heard sirens whirring in the opposite direction. When the noise died, he was climbing into the foothills, Los Angeles was just a neon smear in his rear-view mirror. He touched his future there on the seat: sawed-off, heroin, a hundred and fifty grand. It didn't feel right, so he turned on the radio and found a hillbilly station. The music was too soft and too sad, like a lament for a time when it all came cheap. He listened anyway. the songs made him think of himself and Mal and poor Danny Upshaw. Hardcases, rogue cops and Red chasers. Three dangerous men gone for parts unknown."

The Big Nowhere is the second title in the L.A. Quartet. It is my second favourite after The Black Dahlia. It follows three characters, young Danny Upshaw a policeman with the Los Ang…

Why I Love About Time AKA Why I Love My Father

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"I just try to live every day as if I've deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life."

About Time, released in 2013 and written and directed by Richard Curtis, is a beautiful bit of movie making. Curtis, who you will know from classic comedies like Blackadder and gorgeous comedy dramas like The Boat That Rocked, is someone who knows how to combine big laughs with moments that will just about make you cry. About Time is one such movie. About Time is a film about a man who discovers that he has the ability to travel back in time. Through using this ability he sets his life on the right track, as well as helping those closest to him get the lives they deserve. As you will know, I lost my father about eight months ago, and as much as I adored the love story between Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams, I hold this movie close to my heart for what it says about fathers and sons.  Bill Nighy's advice to his s…

Why I Love Revenge of the Sith

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"This is where the fun begins."

I unironically like the Star Wars prequels. I know this isn't a popular thing to say, but it's true nonetheless. I saw Episode I: The Phantom Menace when it was released in 1999 and I was immediately pulled into this fantastical world of evil robots and delicious light saber battles. I don't love The Phantom Menace anymore, but I do think it has a lot going for it, in spite of some terrible artistic choices. The pod-race is a brilliant and thrilling thing. The fight between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi is probably the best of the entire series. Episode II similarly had some great moments. I particularly like the detective mission that Obi-Wan undertakes to discover the reasons for a clone army. 

I am not going to bother getting into the flaws of Episodes I and II here, as this isn't a Why I Hate article. Sufficed to say however that there were many issues with the casting of the movies, as well as some endemic …

Why I Love Re-Animator

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"Cat dead. Details later."

Re-Animator, directed by Stuart Gordon is one of my favourite Horror movies of all time. It is an hilarious, brutal and delightfully gory film. When I first saw Re-Animator, it blew my tiny mind. I was a late comer to the party, but once I saw it, I became its most ardent fan. Stuart Gordon has made some of the greatest, most inventive Horror movies of all time. From Beyond, Stuck and the Masters of Horror adaptation of Dreams in the Witch House are all savagely good movies, but it is Re-Animator most of all that marks Gordon as one of the great Horror directors of the last thirty years. Re-Animator is essentially a re-telling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Herbert West played by the classic B-Movie King Jeffrey Combs, seeks to prove that there can be life after death. Combs is such a joy to watch. He pulls the funniest moments out of a deliriously violent scenario. You're either a Jeffrey Combs guy or a Bruce Campbell guy, and as much as …

Why I Love The X-Files

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"The truth is out there."

The X-Files followed Twin Peaks and preceded Lost as a cultural phenomenon that wrapped people up in glorious mythology and mystery. While the show undeniably went on too long, it remains a stunning exaltation of the power of the question. What is out there in the dark? Delicious things, friends. Delicious things. The X-Files began its run in 1993, just two years after Twin Peaks ended its original run. Of course, those of us who adore Twin Peaks will be aware that David Duchovny first debuted as an FBI agent in that beautiful and original show. The X-Files shares a lot with Twin Peaks, namely its reverence for the mystery, and not providing easy answers to complex questions. I didn't really watch The X-Files during its original run, though I did see a few select episodes through my aunt. I discovered the full genius of the show in and around the time that I first watched Twin Peaks and Lost, in and around 2005.

I watched the entire run in one …

Why I Love Psycho

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"We all go a little mad sometimes."

Alfred Hitchcock was a master. You know this and so do I. Everything he did was precise; dead on and on point. Psycho is probably his most famous movie and for good reason. It defined, in many ways, what a modern Horror movie could be. From the stunning carnage of the shower scene to a twist ending that set the standard for all twist obsessed movies, Psycho is a masterpiece from start to finish. Anthony Perkins in a seriously iconic performance, provokes sympathy mixed with intense fear. As a person who has had issues with mental health, I found Perkins' acting job seriously disturbing, for the very real feelings of familiarity that it provoked in me.

Psycho is remembered of course for its famous shower scene, one of the best edited, shot, conceived and performed Horror scenes in history. It raised the bar for what was acceptable in terms of violence, and pretty much created the Slasher sub-genre. It is still shocking today, not becau…

Why I Love Bridesmaids

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"Hey! How's it going?" "It's going great. It's going great. I'm on the mend. You know I just got some pins in my legs believe it or not? Pins in my legs, can still do this right? Fell off a cruise ship but I'm back." "Oh shit!" "Yeah oh shit! Yeah oh shit! Took a hard, hard violent fall. Kind of pin balled down, hit a lot of railings, broke a lot of shit. I didn't... I'm not going to say I survived, I'm going to say I thrived. I met a dolphin down there. And I swear to God that dolphin looked, not at me, but into my soul. Into my goddamn soul Annie. And said "I'm saving you Megan," not with his mouth but he said it, I'm assuming telepathically."

Bridesmaids is one of the greatest comedies of the last decade. Kristen Wiig and her writing partner Annie Mumolo were nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and probably deserved to win (though I must say that I adore Midnight in Paris which won that y…

Why I Love Fill Me In and Personal

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"I was checking this girl next door
When her parents went out
She phoned said, "hey boy, come on right around"
So I knock at the door
You was standin' with a bottle of red wine, ready to pour
Dressed in long black satin. lace to the floor
So I went in, then we sat down start kissing, caressing
Told me about jacuzzi, sounded interesting
So we jumped right in
All calls diverted to answer phone
Please leave a message after the tone
I mean me and her parents were kind of cool
But they ran a fine line between me and you
We were just doing things young people in love do
Parents tryna find out what we were up to Saying why were you creeping around late last night
Why did I see two shadows moving in your bedroom light
Now you're dressed in black
When I left you were dressed in white
Can you fill me in?
Calls diverted to answer phone
Red wine bottle, half the contents gone
When I returned, Jacuzzi turned on
Can you fill me in?" Craig David doesn't get enough credit. He is one of th…

Why I Love Get Out

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"If I could, I would have voted for Obama for a third term."

Get Out is a film that makes me uncomfortable. Not just because it is a terrific Horror movie, and builds tension and scares extremely well, but because of what it says about me. Some of the things I love the most, and have talked about on The City is Blinking, come from Black culture. My favourite music is R&B and I have long stood up for the genre in the face of condescending nonsense about how it was too base and low down. I am in case you didn't know, a white Irishman, but I can honestly say that I never thought anything negative about someone because of the colour of their skin. At least not in a way that I was aware of. And I guess that's one of the points of the movie. You can feel like you are racially enlightened but be guilty of benefiting from institutional racism. Not that it's a choice, necessarily, but that awareness gives you a better chance of making changes that benefit all.

Get Ou…

Why I Love James Ellroy Pt 2: The Black Dahlia

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"To Geneva Hilliker Ellroy 1915-1958. Mother: Twenty-nine Years Later, This Valediction in Blood."

"I never knew her in life. She exists for me through others, in evidence of the ways her death drove them. Working backwards, seeking only facts, I reconstructed her as a sad little girl and a whore, at best a could-have-been - a tag that might equally apply to me. I wish I could have granted her an anonymous end, relegated her to a few terse words on a homicide dick's summary report, carbon to the coroner's office, more paperwork to take her to potter's field. The only thing wrong with the wish is that she wouldn't have wanted it that way. As brutal as the facts were, she would have wanted all of them known. And since I owe her a great deal and am the only one who does know the entire story, I have undertaken the writing of this memoir."

The Black Dahlia is the greatest piece of Noir fiction in history. It is a towering, dizzying achievement. The Bla…

Why I Love James Ellroy Pt 1: Perfidia

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"War. Blood libel. Twenty-three days, this storm, reminiscenza. It was for all of them and him most of all. It was a transcendental memoire. Here we were in Los Angeles. We were at odds with one another and afire with crazed duty. We were as one and bound by a terrible allegiance in the time of Pearl Harbor."

James Ellroy is the greatest Noir writer in history. There, I said it. Welcome to an ongoing series here on The City Is Blinking where I will explore the work of James Ellroy and try to explain why he is the best writer of Noir of all time. I first read James Ellroy after being recommended his work by my uncle Bill. I started with The Black Dahlia and the other books in the L.A. Quartet: The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential and White Jazz. I very quickly realized that Ellroy was exactly suited to my love of Noir and murder mysteries. Here was a man with true grit. He didn't shy away from subject matter that most would fumble. His prose is direct, profane and full of …