All posts by bryanajparry

About bryanajparry

I'm a failing writer who hasn't quite given up the dream of becoming a success. Can you fix it for me to become a successful writer?

Star Trek: Discovery #StarTrekDiscovery @StarTrekNetflix #StarTrekDay @startrekcbs

I’m a big Star Trek fan. “Bitterly disappointed” by the way Star Trek: Enterprise was given short shrift in marketing and timeslots, and then summarily cancelled after four seasons, is an understatement of how I felt. And that was in 2005; I had barely lost my virginity back then, whereas now I am a married man with thick tufts of chest hair that drip with testosterone. Yes, twelve long years I’d been in purgatory waiting for even a sign of a new Star Trek series — until last year, when the announcement was made. But I couldn’t get my hopes up as it wouldn’t be the first big project to get canned. Yet here it is, at last. Star Trek: Discovery aired last night on Netflix. I can’t wait to watch episodes one and two tonight (right after I finish grooming my manly facial hair). But I’m nervous — will it be a Game of Thrones (=perfection), or a Stargate Universe (=all gear, no idea)?

A new Trek series was sorely needed to fill a particular gap. Not only is it a massive franchise with a hardcore fanbase, but the success of the recent films means there might be a new non-Trek audience primed and ready — although, in all fairness, the enthusiasm for the new films has kind of fizzled out now. But whatever.

The other reason why a new series is needed is that all previous Treks existed in the years BBG. That is, Before Battlestar: Galactica. That show was epoch defining and heralded the dawn of a new era (the 2004-2009 version, not the campy 70s thing). It moved us into a brave new world. Yes, yes, yes, it had all the secks, violence, and swearing (if “frack” counts) that now typify shows like Game of Thrones. But it was the format that set it apart. Gone were the 20+ episodes a season, countless dud eps which basically filled space, and the one-off episodes that didn’t advance the central plot of the series — if there even was a central plot. We were into a new world where quality triumphed over quantity; ten episodes of pure, relentless, story. One story arc for the whole show.

All previous Treks existed in this BBG world. This is outmoded and isn’t how TV works anymore. To make it worse, back then, the budgets were also poor, lending a kind of crummy homemade look to much Sci-Fi; I remember even as a twelve year old cringing at how the solid metal armour of the Jaffa in Stargate: SG1 would betray it’s Styrofoam prop nature and literally bend in a fight. Also, the quality of the acting has gone up: just try to remember TV before the Kiefer Sutherland thrillride 24; big film stars just did not do TV, it was a step down. How times change!

Visually, Star Trek: Discovery looks phenomenal. But we’ll just have to see if it is a matter of style over substance. As a Trek disciple, I hope to goodness the show is great and gets a good long run. Otherwise, by the time they come up with a new Star Trek series, I’ll probably have regrown my virginity, for I’ll be a shrivelled, middle-aged man.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/ST_DSC.svg

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TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 7 and Look Ahead to Season 8 #GoTS7 #GoTS8 #SpoilerSweats

This post has some spoilers!!!!!

SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS?

I started this season of Game of Thrones intending to write spoiler-free reviews of each and every episode. Seven episodes, rather than the usual ten, means it should have been pretty easy. However, as you can tell, I gave up after episode three; in trying to write my episode four review, I simply found it impossible to not reveal stuff. Even not saying stuff says stuff. After all, if I suddenly stop mentioning a certain character, what conclusion would you draw? (Hmm, Bryan hasn’t mentioned Ned Stark for a bit…)

The lesson is that for season eight I will post full reviews, spoilers and all.

BEST MOMENTS?

Best episode of season seven had to be the final episode. Jaime has finally switched sides, apparently, which looked likely for a while now. Daenerys is still good, but is showing increasing signs of haughty regalitis. And we finally found out what we kind of knew already, ish, but which hadn’t been spelled out: John Snow is in fact a Targaryean, nephew of Daenerys, and the true heir to the Iron Throne. Just as this is officially revealed, we see Dany reveal her bits to John, just before they pump. So that’s going to be awkward over the coffee table in morning. The sight of an undead dragon destroying the wall was also a stand-out moment from the season.

That leads me to what I think was the most iconic, most “oh, nooo” moment of the whole season: Viserion the dragon becoming undead. As soon as we knew the dragons would be heading north, I was like, “Ooh, nooo”; one dying was always on the cards. Great moment, and we know that we are in store for some epic battles come season eight. Some people poo-pooed it by saying, ‘Erm, plothole! How could they get chains that big to drag the dead dragon!?’ To which my only answer is, ‘Erm, dragons you find believable, large metal chains not so much…?’

Other great moments include Leanna smugly telling Jaime that she dunnit. The captive undead spazzing out in front of Cersei. The capture of Ellaria Sand and her subsequent imprisonment by a mentally stable Cersei.

Many complained that this season was full-on with no development. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing; everything has been moved into place, and now we begin the rush to the end.

SEASON EIGHT?

Nothing would surprise me were it to happen in season eight. Including:

  • The white walkers taking over and destroying Westeros / the World.
  • Cersei winning, Jon and Daenerys dying.
  • Dany going schitz on power / refusing to bend the knee to Jon.
  • Ned Stark, or anyone of our other favourite dead characters, coming back in white walker form for an emotional, zombie-esque, ‘I don’t know if I can kill you! I still see the real you in that skelly shell!’ moment of emotional, heart-tugging drama.
  • Sam, in a kind of epilogue to the final episode of season eight, being the only one left alive, sat there Bilbo Baggins style with a pipe, now a very old man, explaining to the young hobbitses the true story of what happened. Y’know, the Song of Ice and Fire, as he will come to call it.
  • An apparently happy ending, with Sansa, Arya, Dany, and Jon co-ruling the seven kingdoms in peace, white walkers ended once and for all, slavery outlawed, feudalism abolished, a healthcare system free at the point of use guaranteed to all people of working age who pay a regular National Insurance contribution, and iPads for everyone — but just then, some crazy mothers from Essos appear in their ships on the horizon, dun dun dun! End of the world as we know it.
  • The Children of the Forest come back, Ewok-style, and fuck everyone’s shit up. After all, they made the white walkers to protect themselves from men! Perhaps they’ll be on the white walkers’ side.
  • The Dothraki go nuts and start raping and pillaging, as they are wont, which turns the layfolk against the Dany-Jon biumvirate, perhaps necessitating Jon or Sansa to backstab.
  • The good guys win a Pyrrhic victory; Westeros is so ruined by everything that there isn’t much of a world to rule over now. And the weakened Pyrrhic victors, Team Stark-Targaryean are left open to attack from foreign marauders.
  • Half the real life cast die in a kind of Munich Air disaster and/or nuclear war with North Korea means that we never get a proper final season eight.

I just hope whatever they do, it isn’t a perfect happy ending. I just think that would not suit the world that’s been built up. Even if things end “well” (= white walkers and Cersei being killed, some good guys staying alive), I can’t see everyone remaining unscathed. One or more of Dany, Jon, Arya, Sansa have to die, and die horribly. And the hard won peace must be on a knife-edge, some new danger suggesting itself.

As much as this series is based on mediaeval English history (War of the Roses and such), I keep thinking Alexander the Conqueror; single-handedly reshaped the world order, and for a brief moment there was the promise of westerners and easterners inter-marrying and becoming a single culture ruled forever by Alexander and his heirs in a sort of Pax Alexanderna — only for it to all fall apart at once and his generals squabble and split the empire up. That’s sort of how I see things moving.

In any case, a whole year or more for season eight! How am I going to cope?? Oh, hang on… 😎

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://wikiofthrones.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Game-of-Thrones-season-7-fan-posters-16.jpg

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 #GoTS7 #SpoilerSweats

Note: gotta say, I’m starting to struggle at keeping these reviews SPOILER FREE without being absurdly vague…

Episode 3 was the best of Season 7 so far. Not quite good enough to be a five star smash, but more exciting than eps 1 and 2. It’s entitled “The Queen’s Justice”, but which Queen? This was definitely an episode where powerful women had their say, shall we say. Indeed, the trend is continued whereby we are left in no doubt that the most powerful characters in Westeros are all women; perhaps a ploy from the writers to distract from the ample amount of bewbs present in the early series.

Cersei showed, once again, what a sadistic and calculating woman she can be. Daenerys is definitely starting to display more of that distinctly regal side. Somebody dies — but not before delivering a satisfying piece of revenge. There’s some top quality military outwitting going on. And, unfortunately, the most boring storyline of all made a showing: Bran, of three-eyed raven fame, has turned up spouting yet more gibberish; this plot thread better have a satisfying resolution.

I’m loving how the series is now zipping along. Now that most of the characters are dead, and the rest have all mostly hooked up, everything is happening in a handful of locations. It’s really starting to gear up for the great finale.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.fiz-x.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Game-of-Thrones-Season-7-2-1.jpg

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 #GoTS7 #SpoilerSweats

Note: this aims to be a spoiler-free episode review…

Episode 2, “Stormborn”, was exciting stuff! A lot happened. Daenerys showed yet more of the steeliness she flashed in episodes 7.1 and 6.10. She even presumptuously demands that someone else “bend the knee”. Theon, known to his close friends as “Reek”, gets an opportunity to showcase his newfound confidence and courage. Happily, the show gets back to basics: by bringing us some hawt seks. Well, naked bods, boobies and all, and a bit of heavy petting. And we witness everyone’s favourite (read: nobody’s favourite) Samwise Gamgee rip-off, err, Sam, perform a rather disturbing Cronenbergesque operation. There’s also a shocking bit of carnage to finish the episode. In short, everything Game of Thrones fans love and crave.

Also notable was just how slow pre-broadband Westerosi communications technology was. We see different people get news about various developments at vastly different times. It’s something we don’t think about, but was a key factor back then… in the Middle Ages(??)

On the downside, the funny-cum-disgusting camerawork shtick from Episode 7.1, which saw canteen food and sloppy chamber pots quickly intercut, was repeated in a different context in this episode. I hope this isn’t the start of meta, distracting, drawing-attention-to-itself direction. You can have too much of a good thing.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.fiz-x.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Game-of-Thrones-Season-7-2-1.jpg

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 #GoTS7 #SpoilerSweats

Hmm, how to do a Game of Thrones episode review with no spoilers? Well, here we go.

Season 7 of the visual crack that is Game of Thrones kicked off yesterday. Unlike the last six seasons which had ten episodes apiece, this time we’ll get seven. But we’re promised they will be more epic than ever. I’m not disappointed, but actually really respect this decision: none of the old, ‘Well, we have to fill ten episodes, so let’s just stretch it all out a bit’. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss are clearly all about quality over quantity.

As for last night’s episode, it was no “Red Wedding”, but it was no “Lord Snow” either: it was solid, entertaining, and oh so tense. And it began with a truly arresting scene which was horrifying, brilliant, and delightful all at once. Let’s just say that revenge is a dish best served cold.

As for the rest of the episode, nothing much happened. But at the same time, a lot happened. Pieces got moved around the board, and the episode felt very much like the calm before the storm. Shit is about to go down, big time, and we were left in no doubt that this was the last moments before it all kicks off.

More than that, many possible future developments were hinted at: new alliances, old alliances fracturing. Very exciting.

On a weird side-note, one man band Ed Sheeran made a jarring cameo as a, erm, musician. And who was that beside him but Thomas “This Is England” Turngoose. I don’t know which was more distracting! Sheeran’s performance itself was actually alright and non-intrusive. But because the Twitterverse melted down beforehand, my attention was drawn to him: I couldn’t help but get tunnel vision and keep repeating in my own head “OMG! That’s ED SHEERAN!!!”. If no one had gone on about it beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it was him at all. Strangely, though, Sheeran got upset by the reactions to his cameo and has quit Twitter. I find it weird that a ridiculously talented, rich, adored singer would, at this stage, have such thin skin. But no worries: if you’re reading this, Ed, for I know you surely are, then chin up — you were no David “King Arthur” Beckham.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.fiz-x.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Game-of-Thrones-Season-7-2-1.jpg

Game of Thrones Season 7 #GoTS7 #SpoilerSweats

As everyone knows, probably even out-of-touch politicians who need to watch The Zeitgeist Tapes, the show that made swords and sorcery mainstream and thereby robbed nerds of our one defining in-group characteristic, Game of Thrones, is back! Season seven kicks off this Sunday.

What can I say about GoT that hasn’t already been said? Not a lot, really, as  much has been made of how close to televisual crack it is. I cannot wait, and I’m starting to get the “spoiler sweats”; y’know, the terror that someone will tell me what happens before I get home and watch the latest episode myself. Indeed, GoT has got a little bit stressful the past couple of years; instead of catching up when I can (*damn life commitments!), as I used to, I feel like I have to drop everything and watch each episode ASAP lest it be ruined… which itself ruins it a tad.

Other thoughts?

Even though I loooooooooooooove the show, I’m not as addicted as I was before; I didn’t suffer this past twelve months with no GoT as I have in the past. I also do not see how the ending can possibly top the series itself; I feel like even the best series ender of all time wouldn’t top what has come. Also, I can’t see how they can please everybody when the series winds up with season 8. Why? Because some people want to see a “happy ending”, with Jon and Daenerys getting hitched, crushing the forces of darkness, and ushering in a Summer that never ends. Others, and this includes me, feel that this would be an unsatisfactory ending and totally not in keeping with the rest of the show. I feel that only an end of pure depressiveness would be in keeping with the overall show; perhaps the “good” guys do win, but in their turn get corrupted, perhaps with Daenerys becoming every bit as despotic as her forebears. There is also another risk posed to the finale we all hope for, and it’s what I call the “Pirates of the Carribean Effect”. This is where, in an attempt to become “EPIC!”, films and TV shows get so overbloated, so full of whizz-bangs, that they drown in a sea of their own CGI and pompous self-importance.

Well, whatever the future holds for GoT in seasons seven and eight, I would love to see some spin offs. Indeed, I almost can’t see this not happening. So many tales to delve into.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://i.ndtvimg.com/i/2017-03/game-of-thrones-season-7_650x400_61489120378.jpg

Film RE-view: Crash (2004) [SPOILERS!!!]

This RE-view has spoilers

WHY RE-VIEW?

Crash is about racism in America today and the different forms and faces it takes. Institutional, white-on-black, black-on-white, conscious, unconscious bias, rich, poor, and all between: the film was awarded three Oscars for its in-your-face message. It confronted racial tensions in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Various story strands are interwoven in what I can only call a Love Actually ensemble stylee — although the film seems to think itself more Pulp Fiction. Yes, a whiff of self-satisfaction, self-righteousness, and self-congratulation emanate from this flick. And that’s why I gave it 2/5 when it came out. But a friend kept begging me to give it a second look. So finally I did.

THE GOOD

It’s true, there are some great moments. The sweet story of the protective cloak that a father tells his daughter stands out as genuinely touching and believable. The film is well directed and the plot well structured. You can’t fault writer-director Paul Haggis for his mastery over the craft. And despite the large cast, there is good character development, and the film is well paced and zips along nicely. Despite this, some characters are completely extraneous and should have been cut. Particularly, the roles played by Sandra Bullock and her on-screen husband.

THE BAD

The film is also very funny in places. Although I strongly suspect that was unintentional. Either way, it’s certainly odd. The two African American car-jackers provide much of this unintentional comic relief. They drive around procrastinating on race and racism, like a crap Travolta-Jackson Pulp Fiction rip-off duo, whilst their actions confirm the negative stereotypes that they rail against.

This is the worst thing is that nobody reacts normally. Everybody is ready to fly off the handle over the slightest thing. It’s this constant hysteria that jarred so badly thirteen years ago and jars so badly now. And in these sobre days, where 9/11 is now history, we can see this film for what it is. Over-the-top characters and cartoonish racism are par for the course. Everyone constantly make shouty outbursts laced with racial slurs that seem shoe-horned in and never genuine. Example: “So tell me, who gathered these remarkably different cultures together and taught them all to park their cars on their lawns” says a black man whilst hanging out of the back of a Hispanic woman…. Another example: a moronic, obnoxious Iranian shopkeeper — driven to rudeness by post-9/11 hysteria and racism, we are meant to think — does not do what his locksmith told him to, consequently gets robbed, and then does what anyone would: get a gun and go shoot a child… I mean, seriously, we never see him get pushed to that breaking point. By opting for pure melodrama at every turn, the message that racism comes in many forms, not just the obvious KKK lynch ’em kind, is completely undermined.

IN CONCLUSION: OVER-HYPED

I still think the hype and the three Oscars were overboard. Right after watching this again, Midnight Express came on the telly. So I watched that — also, for the first time in ten years or so. Wow, that is what a multiple Oscar winner is all about (despite an equally dubious portrayal of race), not this melodramatic, unrealistic portrayal of racism designed to exorcise middle class white America’s racial and 9/11 demons. Crash was the kind of film America needed in 2004, but that doesn’t mean it lived up to the hype. Crash‘s ideology and surreal histrionic racism are just as jarring as ever. But I have a renewed appreciation for the craft of this film and the moments when it is believable. For that, it earns an improved mark: 3/5.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/x0zz5XjT9FkZqoktcb7zGdbx8la.jpg

100 Word Film Review: The Blind Side (2009)

The Blind Side is the true story of a wealthy WASP family, headed by Mater Familias Sandra Bullock, who take in a seventeen year old homeless black kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Battling social prejudice, lavishing him with clothes and an education, this is altruism at its best — or is there an ulterior motive? A prestigious football scholarship is at stake.

This fish-out-of-water tale has plenty of heart. Success is never a foregone conclusion. Tight scripting earnt this flick an Oscar nom for best screenplay, Bullock herself won Best Actress for her subtle, humane, and convincing portrayal.

4/5

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image http://truesportsmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/the_blind_side1.jpg

150 Word Film Review: Honeymoon (2014)

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Honeymoon stars the ridiculously lovely Rose Leslie (a.k.a. “Ygritte”, of Game of Thrones fame) and Harry Treadaway as can’t-keep-their-hands-off-each-other newlyweds Bea and Paul. Honeymooning in Bea’s family cabin in the woods, things start to unravel quickly for the young couple after Paul wakes up to find his wife sleepwalking in the forest. Despite Bea claiming no memory, it soon becomes clear that something very bad happened that night.

So what did happen in the woods? The film never spells it out. But it doesn’t matter; the nocturnal events are merely a device to explore what becomes of a healthy and seemingly rock solid relationship when one partner is violated in some way.

Brilliant and deeply unsettling, the off-centre performances heighten the tension. Honeymoon gave me repeated goosebumps and made me shiver almost endlessly. Horrific and disturbing. Perhaps the finest American horror film in years.

© 2015-2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/db/Honeymoon_film_poster.jpg

review originally appeared at https://doggerelizer.com/2015/08/17/150honeymoon/

Film Review: Cabin Fever (2016) @thefilmreview @KermodeMovie

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Ah, the great tradition of the horror film remake: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, 2003), The Last House on the Left (1972, 2009), Carrie (1976, 2013), Poltergeist (1982, 2015) and now… Cabin Fever. When I first heard they’d be rebooting the thirteen year old Eli Roth flick, I thought it was an actual joke. The 2002 original was hardly a classic, and surely thirteen years was just too soon. At least with those dodgy English language remakes (Ring, Let Me In), there’s some vaguely-justifiable kind of point: more familiar actors, setting, language. Cabin Fever version 2016 might just be the most pointless remake ever.

I was at least hoping writer Randy Pearlstein would take Eli Roth’s concept in a completely different direction, give it a different spin: do a number like the Scissor Sisters did to Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. But instead they’ve done a Madonna American Pie.

It really is the same film. A bunch of young adults go to a cabin in the woods but they all start getting mysteriously ill with a flesh-eating sickness: hence the punny title, Cabin Fever. The same horror shocks as the original (the razor scene, anybody?), the same OTT humour (violent hillbilly locals). But at least the lead characters in the Travis Zariwny directed reboot are not annoying. In fact, they’re quite believable — by horror movie standards, at least. I mean, one character does try to get help by peering in the window at a love-making couple, and promptly gets chased away for being a pervert, instead of just, y’know, knocking on the door. The slightly (like 10%) heightened realism affects the humour, too: the jokes just aren’t quite as zany and funny as the original (for example, there’s no sign of everyone’s favourite line “shootin’ niggas”).

All in all, I thought 2002 Cabin Fever was entertaining if pretty poor. I gave it two stars. 2016 Cabin Fever is still pretty funny, though not quite as much, and it’s still pretty horror-ish, yet slightly more believable. Good fun. A slight improvement over the original. But seriously: no more remakes of decade old non-classics, please. What next? A remake of Osunsanmi’s 2009 The Fourth Kind? Another Hitcher Reboot?

3/5

© 2016-2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

review originally appeared on my other blog here: https://doggerelizer.com/2016/02/19/film-review-cabin-fever-2016-thefilmreview-kermodemovie/

featured image from http://www.tribute.ca/images/videos/cabin-fever-trailer-14806-large.jpg