I’m Still Alive

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I’ve been incredibly busy at the minute and I do apologise. I hope to get sorted very soon and be back. Thanks to everyone who has been so understanding. You rock.

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I’m feeling Good

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I’ve been absent again lately, but please let mr explain. The weather has been glorious and I’ve been stepping up my fitness. I have started running again and going on long walks. And I must say I’m feeling good at the minute. I will be back very soon, just wanted to stop by and reassure you all that I’m still alive.

Escape from New York

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The ever wonderful Gill invited me to take part in a blogathon to honour Kurt Russell and I simply couldn’t refuse.

Director

John Carpenter

Starring

  • Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken
  • Lee Van Cleef as Bob Hauk
  • Ernest Borgnine as Cabbie
  • Adrienne Barbeau as Maggie
  • Harry Dean Stanton as Brain
  • Isaac Hayes as The Duke
  • Donald Pleasence as the President

John Carpenter’s science-fiction action film Escape from New York is rightfully held in high regard for its vision and plot. And with atmosphere, imagination and a bad ass lead character to boot, it’s hard to disagree.

The year is a then futuristic 1997. Manhattan Island has been turned into a maximum security prison where once you go in, you never come out. In the main area that was once the central hub, anarchy reigns supreme with violence and destruction. When the President’s plane is hijacked and he crash lands in Manhattan, he is taken hostage by the local crime boss The Duke and his goons. He was supposed to be attending a peace summit with the Soviet Union, but that goes completely out the window with the events that unfurl. Sneaky and manipulative Commissioner Bob Hauk then strong arms the most unlikely person ever to rescue the President from an almost certain death. That person is Snake Plissken, a cynical ex soldier, serving time for theft. Snake is understandably not at all on board with this plan. But after being told that if he rescues the President within 24 hours he could be pardoned, he accepts reluctantly. Though Hauk makes sure he will do it as he has micro explosives implanted in Snake’s neck that will detonate if he doesn’t complete the mission. Hauk knows that Snake would use the opportunity to escape but has him by a tight leash now. With time ticking away, Snake enters the city where he encounters violence from various factions and some assistance by a rag tag group of renegades. They consist of a joking cab driver, hard edged lady and know all.

John Carpenter keeps events imaginative and engaging, with his ingenuity on clear display. I’ve always admired what he brings to a movie and he has the story be one that is very taut and entertaining. Some will say that the film has dated parts, which it does in areas, but the anachronistic touches really add to the oddball personality of the film that it isn’t easy to see why it’s a cult movie. Carpenter plays up the outlandish aspects of the story and the desecration of humanity, mainly in the case of Snake and his no cares attitude towards everything. On the visual front, the practical effects have aged well, with the shots of New York through a futuristic lens being particularly inspired. We get a grimy dystopia to witness and one that has certainly influenced many a film since. Escape from New York is often billed in some quarters as an action movie(which in many cases it is), but for me it’s more about the moody atmosphere than anything else. The cyberpunk echoes and vision of a world in free fall really make sure that Escape from New York is a film to remember. John Carpenter himself provides the pulsing electronic score that compliments the futuristic setting and has just the right notes of darkness there too.

Kurt Russell completely owns the screen as the growling, scowling yet sardonically witty bad ass that is Snake. Russell provides the cynicism and swagger of a man who doesn’t believe in anything and is proud of it. He is ironically the last person you’d think of to rescue a president and that is what ultimately drives the plot. Seriously, Snake ranks as one of the most charismatic and bad ass anti heroes there is. Lee Van Cleef is on nasty form as the scheming and controlling Comissioner who uses Snake to his own advantage. Ernest Borgnine, Adrienne Barbeau and Harry Dean Stanton flesh out the crew that Snake falls in with excellently.With some serious style, Isaac Hayes rocks it portraying the crime boss who stands in the way of Snake succeeding. And there’s Donald Pleasence appearing as the President, who it is revealed is not as squeaky clean as he seemed.

Exciting, inventive and engrossing, Escape from New York is John Carpenter at his imaginative and full blooded best, aided by a fine performance from Kurt Russell as one of cinema’s best anti-heroes.

It

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Director

Andy Muschietti

Starring

  • Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise
  • Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough
  • Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh
  • Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier
  • Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom
  • Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak
  • Wyatt Oleff as Stan Uris
  • Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon

A very successful adaptation of the Stephen King classic, It has great development in characters alongside the horror that makes it both a coming of age tale and a creepy horror.

It’s the 80’s and in the town of Derry, Maine, everyone is shocked when youngster Georgie is taken and presumably killed by an unknown evil. His brother Bill feels guilty about it as he was too sick to go out and play with his brother the day of the horrible event. Bill finds some comfort in his group of friends; loudmouth Richie, quiet, skeptical Stan and hypochondriac Eddie, who are all outcasts in a way. Summer vacation begins and Bill is still refusing to believe that his brother is dead. But as summer continues, soon something sinister takes hold and begins tormenting him and his friends. Add to this that numerous children are going missing much in the way that Georgie did and the gang are spearheaded into investigation. Around this time, Beverly Marsh( who is derided by others for alleged promiscuity, but in actual fact is being abused by her father), becomes part of the group . The group is later joined by two other lost souls in the form of loner Ben and orphaned Mike. They become known as The Losers Club. All of them are plagued by terrifying visions; making them vow to unearth what it is that causes these terrifying occurrences. Along with this, each has a variety of issues of a personal nature to deal with on a daily basis. What they discover is that the thing that took Georgie is in fact a manifestation of fear, that often takes the form of an evil clown called Pennywise. It feeds on fear every twenty-seven years and it’s targets are children. It’s all a matter of if these seven kids can defeat such evil before it’s too late.

Andy Muschietti is an accomplished director and his effective and sturdy direction that gets to the heart of the battle to overcome evil and fear is one that truly captures the imagination. He makes the film a fun but frightening ride that has the time to invest you with the people populating it and can be emotionally in tune too. From the start, this manages to carve out its own triumph and stand out . It was previously adapted as a mini series that is held in high regard and at first I wasn’t sure whether this would work. But happily, it does work and marks itself as something excellent and different. Whereas the series had two timelines, this version sticks to a setting of the 80’s. The era proves very effective as a certain level of nostalgia is very apparent thanks to many pop culture references and the visuals. With strange angles and fine lighting, there’s a genuine atmosphere to It right from the start. The visual side is a major string in the bow of an impressive film and one I highly enjoyed. Quite a lot of scenes really stand out, particularly the ones of the fear inducing variety, such as Beverly being assaulted by stands of hair down the plug hole, an intense confrontation with the creature and a sensational finale in the sewer where battle commences. Crucially, It is just as much a coming of age story as it is one of horror. The kids all have their own issues to deal with along the way. From controlling mothers to abusive fathers and being an orphan, these tribulations can often be just as frightening as the approaching evil. I appreciated this approach that deepened the pre-adolescent characters and had me rooting for them. Which isn’t to say the horror moments aren’t effective, quite the opposite in fact. It all builds gradually, showing us Pennywise and other visions at first slowly and then with great momentum and maximum scares. And while CGI is employed, it never overshadow proceedings at all, if anything it enhances the terror at play. And Pennywise is a seriously eerie thing to behold it must be said. With a stomach churning voice and seriously terrifying appearance, he’s the stuff of nightmares. A sensational music score and sound design underline everything with creepiness and soul, largely stemming from how chilling it is and how amazingly it employs sonic trickery to unleash horror. The only niggle I have with the film is that it runs a bit too long. Other than that, I’m a massive fan.

The cast make for a fine ensemble, with the biggest impacts being made by Jaeden Lieberher as the leader of the club and Sophia Lillis portraying the only girl who captures the attention of all. But there is seriously no weak link in this talented cast of youngsters who each have a moment to shine. I really enjoyed all of their performances as they fleshed out their troubled characters brilliantly.  And of course there is Bill Skarsgård; ably stepping into Tim Curry’s shoes as the nightmarish Pennywise. He’s super disturbing and enthralling, relishing the sheer evilness of the part.

An accomplished and convincing horror, with a lot of humanity in it and characters you root, It is exemplary horror movie making with a heart.

My Bucket List

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Now before anyone asks, no I’m not dying or seriously ill. When I say bucket list, it’s all the things I want to do. It was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend the other day that had nothing to do with death. Anyway, I think we all have those things that we want to do in life. My list hopefully is fun for you:

  • I want to visit Brazil for the carnival
  • I want to get a body piercing
  • I want to purchase an Aston Martin
  • I want to meet someone famous
  • I want to meet at least one of my followers in person

So what do you think?