No. 1 Duke Street is the Richmondiest place you can go for breakfast in the whole of Richmond, because while the food is excellent there’s also a tense, uptight feel to the place that no amount of complimentary cucumber water, wicker chairs and deep, soft sofas can mask. Like Richmond in general, No. 1 Duke Street is a place for people who think they’re pretty cool and liberal and trendy but would lose their shit if the coffee machine at Waitrose was out of order. →
Following Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange is the third Marvel film in a row that’s left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied. Not nearly as weird as publicity would have us believe, the film papers over a well-worn story template and bland characters with some kaleidoscope effects and not a lot else. →
Ostensibly a police procedural set in Gotham City before the appearance of Batman, Gotham is a frustratingly difficult series to enjoy or recommend, with a scattershot approach to storytelling that makes trying to keep on top of things pointless, and drifting so far from the source it’s a wonder the showrunners didn’t just make the fully-fledged Batman series they so obviously wanted to. But, credit where credit’s due; there’s a lot here to like despite the flaws. →
I was always going to appreciate No Man’s Sky. The look of the game is pure ‘70s sci-fi trash, all orange clouds and acid rain, the hardware chunky and brightly coloured with just a bit of smudge around the edges. The soundtrack as well matches perfectly, all pop and synth and twang. That’s just the surface, though: to fully appreciate the game, I first had to understand what sort of game it is. →
My appreciation of the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four films comes from a single scene in Silver Surfer, where Mr. Fantastic has begrudgingly gone to his own bachelor party, and we cut to him being a big nerd, surrounded by attractive twentysomething women and talking about something scientific. “…it expanded exponentially into what became the universe we know,” he explains. “Wow, you're really smart!” replies one of the women. “Thanks, Candy. That means a lot to me.” →
In a year of summer films that have struggled to elicit much more of a reaction than “ok, and?” from me — the deeply-flawed Warcraft has so far been my pick of the blockbusters — Ghostbusters at least feels like it was made by people who cared about it. The end result can be a little uneven, but it gets by with fun characters, a great script, and a liberal application of the 1984 soundtrack to kick my withered nostalgia gland happily into life. →
How much you'll get out of Warcraft: The Beginning may depend on how much you're willing to engage with the fantasy genre itself; the film is serious-faced high-fantasy and isn't ashamed of it. This is fine. Where the film wobbles is in being a prequel rather than simply the first in a series, a film that explains how the war between humans and orcs came about without that war ever having presented on film. Unashamedly presenting fantasy film tropes is one thing; assuming an existing audience investment in videogame source material is another. →
Notes on a train
A recent trip to Oxfordshire let me try out the recently-refurbished ‘GWR’ trains, introduced…
Remembering David Cameron
As a history graduate, I’m interested in how we remember political figures, and how our memories of…
A misanthrope abroad
Back in 2010 I wrote about how hard I found it to go on holiday for a variety of reasons, but the last few…
On the function of dictionaries
Those asking for nature words to be reinstated in a junior dictionary are wasting their time. Dictionaries describe contemporary usage; by the time you want a word to mean something else, it’s probably too late.
January is the most miserable month of the year. It’s dark when you leave for work and it’s dark…
Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse
Throughout my whole adult life, there have always been X-Men films, so when the 20th Century Fox fanfare…
Captain America: Civil War
My feelings on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War…
Survive The Walking Dead
I’ve had to accept that The Walking Dead isn’t going to tell the story I want it to tell. Whether…
Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four
I didn’t hate Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, though it offers up so many reasons to do so. In its…
I didn’t see Star Wars: The Force Awakens because on the day I planned to see it, it was raining. There…
Granger & Co. OttolenghiDaylesford
Generally, I try not to get into queues with people who don’t mind they’re in a queue. A queue is…
Breakfast at The Putney Canteen
A recent move to the south-west of London opened up a rich seam of easily-accessible breakfast venues in…
Breakfast at Berners Tavern
If you’re going to make me book a table in advance for breakfast, you ought to be offering something…
Breakfast at Damson & Co.
Though no part of Soho can really be considered ‘off the beaten path’, stumbling upon Damson…
Breakfast at Kopapa
I had every intention of writing about breakfast at the Tapa Room, a Marylebone restaurant with an unusual…
What kind of a game is L.A. Noire?
I wrote recently about how infrequently I replay videogames, and how small the selection of games that get…
Blinded by the light
One of the many problems of renting a home in London is that all expenses are generally spared, so although…
Final Fantasy VII and replaying games
I re-watch films frequently, I re-read books occasionally, and I re-play games almost never unless it’s a…
The secret 3DS player
The StreetPass feature on the Nintendo 3DS encourages you to take your handheld out and about with you,…
Animal Crossing and aspirational living
One of the key features in the latest Animal Crossing is the Happy Home Showcase, in which the houses…
- Arrival: Wonderful. Thoughtful, intelligent, contemplative sci-fi. Amy Adams is exceptional.
- The Incredible Melting Man: Just…shit.
- The Martian: Not much more than “some scenes from the book, filmed”, but it’s as polished, funny & moving as the book, so all is well.
- The Big Sleep: One of the all-time greats, so perfect it almost makes me angry.
- Set the Thames on Fire: A funny, surreal, affecting fantasy set in a future, drowning London. Sadly does also feature Noel Fielding.
- Whisky Galore!: It’s a bit of a one-joke affair but has all the cosy charm & comfort you’d expect from an Ealing comedy, so I won’t complain.
- Mad Max 2: Road Warrior: I never get tired of it. It may actually be the perfect film.
- Archipelago: Just the kind of stuck-up cringeworthy middle-class drama I like. Awkward and uncomfortable throughout, this is just delightful.
- The Exorcist: My first viewing; sadly, years of parodies and references have robbed the original of any impact. It’s probably fine.
- Tammy: Bit of a first-draft feel but with Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates & Toni Collette, it’s a strong, funny cast.
- Men and Chicken: Danish dark comedy that’s grotesque but also stupidly funny. Mads Mikkelsen has never been less appealing.
- The Fly (1986): A grotesque, horrifying warning to us all about the perils of skipping the peer review process.
- Frankenstein (1931): An adaptation that unavoidably feels a bit slight now, but it’s about as perfect as it could be, all things considered.
- The Faculty: It’s an unashamed Body Snatchers rip-off but it’s so much fun I can’t fault it. A great, weird cast as well.
- The Frighteners: Terrific from start to finish. Michael J. Fox is brilliant, Jeffrey Combs utterly batshit. Even the effects have aged well.
- Doctor Strange: Looks and sounds great, shame about the seen-it-all-before story.
- My Name is Bruce: While Bruce Campbell is always enjoyable to watch, the rest of this film is abysmal. Racist, sexist, and not even funny.
- The Invisible Man (1933): Taken as a dark comedy rather than a horror, this holds up well. Stupid fun, and the effects aren’t bad either.
- Matinee: Not one of Joe Dante’s best, with a slew of forgettable teen leads. John Goodman and Robert Picardo always fun to watch though.
- Candyman: More thoughtful and introspective than your typical slasher horror, but still with enough gore and scare to suffice. Good stuff.
- Green Room: Brutal, terrifying, exhausting. Patrick Stewart at his most nightmarish. Anton Yelchin superb; will be sadly missed.
- Frankenstein (2015): Decent lo-fi adaptation by Bernard Rose. Strong casting — Carrie-Anne Moss, Danny Huston — make this worth seeking out.
- When Animals Dream: Slow & sleepy Danish werewolf film. Doesn’t do much that’s new with the idea, but what it does, it does solidly enough.
- Lifeforce: Utterly brilliant-awful schlock. Great sets, effects, soundtrack, some scenery-chewing performances. I never tire of it.
- Mad Max: I love it, but now feels oddly like a fairly sedate prequel to the series rather than simply the first film. Still great though.