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2016 in Screencaps: Rio Bravo (1959)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

Still going down the Tarantino rabbit hole. This is one of QT’s favourite ‘hang out’ movies, i.e. it’s a film where you ‘hang out’ with the characters.

Not what I was expecting at all. Doesn’t feel like a classic western, despite the setting and the presence of John Wayne. It’s more of a frothy buddy movie with a element of romance and the occasional burst of bloody violence (as well as a musical segment with Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson).

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2016 in Screencaps: Rolling Thunder (1977)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

Another Tarantino favourite (he named his short-lived distribution company after it), this is a classic 70s revenge flick that’s worth a watch if only for the insanely young Tommy Lee Jones. It’s a cut above pulpy grindhouse thanks to the Paul Schrader screenplay and William Devane’s performance as damaged ‘Nam veteran Major Charles Rane.

Dark in every sense. Sawn off shotguns. Sharpened claw hands. Minimal dialogue.

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2016 in Screencaps: Jackie Brown (1997)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

On a bit of a Tarantino tear at the moment, post-Hateful Eight. As I was reading all the features and reviews for Hateful Eight I kept seeing references to Jackie Brown being QT’s best/most accomplished/underrated film; and I hadn’t seen it in a while (how was this released 19 years ago?!), so I thought I’d go back and revisit it.

Lots of blues and greens. Bridget Fonda’s toes. Sam Jackson’s hair. A great soundtrack. The inevitable car boot shot. No Red Apple cigarettes as far as I can see.

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2016 in Screencaps: The Driver (1978)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

The Driver is a criminal versus cop thriller starring Ryan O’Neal and Bruce Dern (I was prompted to watch this after seeing Bruce Dern in The Hateful Eight). It’s written and directed by Walter Hill of The Getaway and The Warriors, he also directed some episodes of Deadwood.

There’s more screeching car tyres than there is dialogue, it has characters called Fingers, Split and Frizzy, and there’s a good few Michael Mann-ish cityscapes (come to think of it there’s quite a few Heat similarities).

And, yes, one of the actors in it is called Frank Bruno.

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Interesting and inspiring this week

Above, the beautiful video for the equally beautiful song by Low, Make it Stop. One of my favourite songs of the year so far, and one that (beware: unusual honesty ahead) I listened to a lot at the beginning of the year when I was going through a bit of a rough patch. Don’t know why I told you that, but there you go.

And talking of tough times (I’m a regular barrel of laughs this week aren’t I?) Riding motorcycles into storms, and other inefficient therapies is a terrific blog pot by Joel Johnson about the difference between running away from things and running into your future, no matter how terrifying that might be.

In this article for the NY Times David Carr writes an obituary for the ‘media bundle’. I know that sound a bit dull but trust me, it’s not. It’s about how digital audiences are destroying traditional, inefficient business models and what that means for the future of media content.

This i09 post is about fans of The Hunger Games discovering info about the next film by looking at the sets via Google Earth. I’m not a Hunger Games fan (hard to believe, I know), but put that next to the fact that in the past week various fans of Daft Punk have been creating ‘false’ versions of their new single by editing together snippets from around the Web, and there is definitely something interesting there about fanaticism, technology and hype… I’m just not entirely sure what it is yet.

Finally this week: Takashi Murakami is a mad genius, and his new film looks equally bonkers.

Interesting and inspiring this week

A friend recommended the documentary Marwencol to me a few months ago (I tend to ask most people what their favourite documentaries are to see what kind of person they are and to get some good recommendations). So for a few weeks I just had the word ‘Marwencol’ written down somewhere and no idea what it referred to. And then I remembered, found it, watched it and fell in love. I’m not going to say much about it because I don’t want to spoil it (I’d even say maybe don’t watch the trailer), suffice to say it’s touching, funny and fascinating in equal measure.

Another documentary that I’m dying to see, but which isn’t out yet is the Ricky Jay documentary Deceptive Practice. I remember seeing Ricky Jay (alongside people like David Berglas and James RAndi) for the first time on a late night Channel 4 programme The Secret Cabaret when I was a kid and he made a massive impression on me then, and still does. Watch the trailer to find out why.

Every now and again FACT magazine upload old articles from their ink and paper day to their website. The latest is their Essential Arthur Russell feature. Really good stuff.

Just so you know, The Walking Dead and Toy Story are essentially the same story.

Books read in March

A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

I think I was expecting too much from this book. I’d heard names like Palahniuk, Updike, and Hornby thrown about in relation to its author, and heard good things about the tone and the aims of the novel. And while I enjoyed the book, it’s not one that will stick with me and I wouldn’t necessarily go out and recommend it to everyone I know.

It should have struck a chord with me – it’s about thirty-something guy, working in tech (sort of), it’s about fathers and sons (a theme which I tend to gravitate towards), and it’s about proper grown up relationship stuff. It just felt a little diluted and a little arch and a little overlong for me to fall in love with it.

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D. T. Max

I am not that much of a David Foster Wallace fan. I appreciate his genius, and his style, and (now) his story, but his way of presenting fiction never connected with me as much as it did others (I actually preferred his non-fiction stuff).

This a good autobiography though. It rips along with a real sense of Wallace’s personality in every paragraph, and you always feel that Max has a good grasp of what happened and he’s spoken to the right people. It is flawed though, and I think its main flaw is that it concentrates almost entirely on Wallace’s work to the detriment of the rest of his life. Especially his relationships. When an autobiography chucks away a comment about the author attempting to push his ex-girlfriend out of a moving car as if he were tossing out a cigarette, then there’s something seriously wrong with its priorities I think.

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

I read this because I fell into a bit of a Wikipedia-hole after reading around Wallace and literary theory. It’s an incredible treatise on what modern fiction should and could be, and the way it’s written is just mesmerising and truly unique. It got me all fired up and I think I highlighted more passages in it than I have any other book I’ve read. Recommended.

The Private Eye by Marcos Martin and writer Brian K. Vaughan

I’m cheating a little bit here, because this isn’t even a full graphic novel, never mind a book, but I really really enjoyed this first issue of artist Marcos Martin and writer Brian K. Vaughan’s experiment to deliver this DRM-free story directly to readers and let them pay whatever they want for it.

It’s about a near future where every dirty little secret held online has spilled into the real world and, as a result, privacy is considered a sacred right and everyone has a secret identity. Go download it now. We need more brave little experiments like this.

Being interviewed about community management and transmedia

A few weeks Jonathan Kahn of Lucid Plot and Confab London, London Content Strategy Meetup, Dare conference and countless other interesting things, interviewed me for his podcast.

Over the course of about 40 minutes I say things like:

“Can you not just show the social media lovely unicorn dreams section.”

and…

“It was next to my face. That doesn’t mean I wrote it.”

But I also say some stuff that you might find interesting and useful.

You can listen to it here.

Inspiring and interesting this week

Lots of music stuff to get to this week. But before we get into that, you have to watch the video embedded above. It’s one of the most moving things I’ve seen for a long time.

Are you back? Have you wiped the tears off your cheeks and taken a deep breath? Okay then…

I found that video via Mat Osman who also happens to be the bass player for Suede… who have a new album out. Bloodsports (Spotify link) is out now and is well worth a listen. I was dancing round my kitchen to it just this morning.

At another end of the musical spectrum we have Justin Timberlake and his new single Suit and Tie. And, of course, there’s a Four Tet remix of it, why wouldn’t there be?

Via the still brilliant Boing Boing comes this video, described simply as “College student asks if he can play piano for Billy Joel and Joel says OK. The results are fabulous!”

One of my favourite music blogs right now is Last Gas Station, and their weekly Off the Road show never fails to lift my Monday. The latest show is embedded below, you can get more here.

And finally something non-music-related. A fantastic blog post about true customer service: Why I cycled a hundred miles to meet my first customer.

Books read in February

I only got through three books in February… and one of those was a comic. Also, I haven’t finished Will Self’s Umbrella, which I started in January. It’s been a rough-ish month with a lot going on, and the thought of immersing myself in a postmodern tale of locked-in syndrome while on a slow train from south east London at 7:30 in the morning somehow lost its appeal. I’ll pick it up again soon though.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Not the most fun book I’ve read so far this year (that title is still held by Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour book store), but definitely a close second. I heard so many good things about this book last year, and even bought it as a present for people that I thought would enjoy it, I just didn’t get round to buying it myself. I wish I’d read it sooner, it’s a great concept, well-written and begging to be turned into a movie. I’m just sad I didn’t read it into time to enter the Delorean competition.

Seven Deadly Sins – My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh

I’ve become a cycling fan in the past five years or so, which means my family and friends have a much easier time when it comes to buying me Christmas presents these days (I didn’t really have a favourite sport up until my early 30s). I was really looking forward to this account of the Times’ journalists obsessive attempts to expose and outwit Lance Armstrong, but unfortunately the book is a bit of a letdown. Looking at the Amazon reviews it seems that Walsh has used a lot of the material he has already used in his previous two books on the subjects (neither of which I’ve read) and there’s a definite sense that 7 Deadly Sins has been compiled quickly to take advantage of Armstrong’s recent confessions, and that the editing has suffered as a result.

The timelines in the book jump around a lot. There are numerous repetitions throughout, sometimes word for word. Walsh also repeats himself stylistically, using the same structure and phrases more than once. Even the layout of the book suffers. Towards the end of the book there’s a timeline (there obviously wasn’t enough time to pull the facts and quotes together into, you know… real paragraphs that make sense) that’s supplemented by pullquotes so the text is squeezed around the page, making it look ugly and tricky to follow.

It’s a shame, and maybe future editions will correct the mistakes to make this a less frustrating experience.

Batman: Death of the Family by Snott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Scott Snyder is turning into one of my favourite comic writers, and his work on the latest Batman series has done nothing to make me feel any less enamoured. In Death of the Family Snyder takes on the ultimate Batman vilian, The Joker and manages it with aplomb, bringing the requisite discomfort, creepiness and ink black humour to the character along with a new sense of postmodern self-awareness that lifts the plot above the usual “I’ll get you this time” hoakeyness. And the art is great too.

It’s so good I’m, going to go back and reread it very soon (I have a tendency to read comics too quickly so I try and make the effort with the good ones).