Comic Book Review – SHAFT #5 (2015)

SHAFT #5 (15 April 2015, Dynamite Entertainment) ∗∗∗∗∗
Shaft Created by Ernest Tidyman
Written and Lettered by David F. Walker
Illustrated by Bilquis Evely
Coloured by Daniela Miwa
Cover A by Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz and Ivan Nunes

Shaft #5 CowanShaft has tracked down Marisol DuPree and gets enough information from her to trace the package Arletha has hidden away. He discovers the package is some photos of DuPree, who had fallen into prostitution, with various businessmen including an official from the Port Authority. Shaft realises he has been caught in the middle of a blackmail plot and politics around the finalised location of the World Trade Center, originally planned for Harlem. Shaft is now looking to play two factions off against each other as he seeks revenge for Arletha’s death.

The Shaft comic book series maintains its high standard with another great read with both the script and artwork in tune with the late 1960s period NYC setting. This edition sets things up nicely for the finale (Shaft #6 is due out imminently). Walker has brought the plot strands together nicely and the character of Shaft has been evolving to that we see in Ernest Tidyman’s original novel. This prequel has been a great ride and the pay-off promises to be a satisfying one.

Doctor Who Retrospective 1.2 – THE END OF THE WORLD (2005)

THE END OF THE WORLD
1 episode / 45m / 2 April 2005
Rating: ∗∗∗½
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Euros Lyn
Cast: Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Simon Day (Steward), Yasmin Bannerman (Jabe), Jimmy Vee (Moxx of Balhoon), Zoë Wanamaker (Cassandra), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Beccy Armory (Raffalo), Sara Stewart (Computer Voice), Silas Carson (Alien Voices).
Plot: The Doctor takes Rose on her first voyage through time, to the year Five Billion. The Sun is about to expand, and swallow the Earth. But amongst the alien races gathering to watch on Platform One, a murderer is at work. Who is controlling the mysterious and deadly Spiders?
The End of the WorldComment: This story moves into the far future and gets the chance to show off the excellent CGI visual effects from The Mill. Having introduced Rose in the first episode the focus here moves to the Doctor and we discover his race has been destroyed in a great war and he is the last Time Lord. We are introduced to an array of wealthy species who have paid to come to witness Earth’s destruction to an expanding sun from an orbiting space station. Cassandra (wonderfully voiced by Wanamaker) is the last human whose vanity has reduced to all vestiges of humanity being removes and what’s left is skin stretched tightly across a frame. The Face of Boe is also introduced and we will find out more about him/her as the series progresses. A special note for Lyn’s direction, which is a significant improvement over Boak’s for ROSE. Here, the humour is better managed and the tension builds nicely through the tightly edited finale as the station’s shields are sabotaged. Eccleston balances his performance between humour and gravitas, clumsy at the former but excelling at the latter and Piper continues to impress as Rose.

Doctor Who Retrospective 1.1 – ROSE (2005)

2015 is the 10th anniversary of the return of one of British TV’s most historic shows – Doctor Who. Having also recently celebrated 50 years since its inception in 1963, the show continues to delight fans both old and new. To celebrate I have decided to revisit each episode from the re-launch masterminded by Russell T Davies, so here goes…

ROSE
1 episode / 45m / 26 March 2005
Rating: ∗∗∗
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Keith Boak
Cast: Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Mark Benton (Clive), Elli Garnett (Caroline), Adam McCoy (Clive’s Son), Alan Ruscoe, Paul Casey, David Sant, Elizabeth Fost, Helen Otway (Autons), Nicholas Briggs (Nestene Voice).Rose
Plot: Rose Tyler is just an ordinary shop worker living an ordinary life in 21st century Britain. But that life is turned upside down when a strange man calling himself The Doctor drags her into an alien invasion attempt!
Comment: Introductory stories are always difficult to pull off due to the elements they are required to juggle – not least of which are the introduction of the main characters to the audience and the tone they set for the series. The stories are therefore often of secondary importance as a result and this is no exception with a lot to cram into its 45-minute running time. On the whole the episode works well in its purpose, although some of the comedy is played too broadly – notably Clarke’s Mickey and the CGI burping dustbin. The climax is well staged however as the Auton dummies spring to life in a busy shopping centre and wreak havoc as the Doctor tries to negotiate with the Nestene Consiousness. Eccleston is an atypical Doctor, simply costumed in a battered leather jacket, and merely hints here at the range he would display as the series progressed. Reference is made to his northern accent. Tyler is excellent as Rose as is Coduri as her mother, the flirty Jackie.

Film Review Round-up – COWBOYS & ALIENS (2011); THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (1985) and REBECCA (1940)

10531351-1322658704-826498Cowboys & Aliens (2011; USA; DeLuxe; 119m) ∗∗∗  d. Jon Favreau; w. Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby; ph. Matthew Libatique; m. Harry Gregson-Williams.  Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Abigail Spencer, Buck Taylor, Matthew Taylor, Cooper Taylor, Clancy Brown, Paul Dano, Chris Browning, Adam Beach, Sam Rockwell, Ana de la Reguera, Noah Ringer, Brian Duffy, Keith Carradine, Walton Goggins. A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way. Starts out well but quickly descends into formula. Technical aspects are strong and Ford and Craig add much needed weight to an otherwise uninspired story.  Based on the comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Extended version runs to 135m. [12]

41WAWC1EV0LPurple Rose of Cairo, The (1985; USA; DuArt; 82m) ∗∗∗½  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Gordon Willis; m. Dick Hyman.  Cast: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Van Johnson, Alexander H. Cohen, Dianne Wiest, Zoe Caldwell, John Wood, Milo O’Shea, Deborah Rush, Edward Herrmann, Karen Akers, Michael Tucker, Glenn Headly. In 1930s New Jersey, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world. Clever fantasy comedy with sharp observations about the importance of escapism in the cinema during the depression era and wry observations about the Hollywood machine. [PG]

3003_frontRebecca (1940; USA; B&W; 130m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Alfred Hitchcock; w. Robert E. Sherwood, Joan Harrison, Philip MacDonald, Michael Hogan; ph. George Barnes; m. Franz Waxman.  Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny, C. Aubrey Smith, Gladys Cooper. A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband’s dead first wife. Absorbing and atmospheric mystery drama brilliantly acted and directed with evocative cinematography. Winner of Oscars for Best Picture and Best Cinematography, and received nominations for nine additional Oscars. Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier. [PG]

Tony Banks Compilation out in July

tb-actf-bigNews has been released that Tony Banks, keyboard player from Genesis, will be releasing a 4-CD compilation, on 6 July through Esoteric Records, followed by a bi-monthly re-release of his back catalogue.

The compilation, entitled A Chord Too Far, will include three previously unreleased demos and a new track along with songs and music spanning his long solo career.

Track List:

CD1

  1. Rebirth – From Soundtracks
  2. At The Edge Of Night – From The Fugitive
  3. Walls Of Sound – From Strictly Inc.
  4. Lion Of Symmetry – From Soundtracks
  5. The More I Hide It – From Bankstatement
  6. Shortcut To Somewhere – From Soundtracks
  7. The Waters Of Lethe – From A Curious Feeling
  8. I Wanna Change The Score – From Still
  9. Water Out Of Wine – From Still
  10. Something To Live For – From Strictly Inc.
  11. By You – From The Fugitive
  12. Never Let Me Know – From Strictly Inc.
  13. Thirty Three’s – From The Fugitive

CD2

  1. Charity Balls – From Strictly Inc.
  2. An Island In The Darkness – From Strictly Inc.
  3. The Border – From Bankstatement
  4. Lucky Me – From A Curious Feeling
  5. Another Murder Of A Day – From Still
  6. Moving Under – From The Fugitive
  7. Still It Takes Me By Surprise – From Still
  8. Red Day On Blue Street – From Still
  9. After The Lie – From A Curious Feeling
  10. Redwing – From Soundtracks

CD3

  1. Queen Of Darkness – From Bankstatement
  2. A Piece Of You – From Strictly Inc.
  3. Big Man – From Bankstatement
  4. Angel Face – From Still
  5. This Is Love – From The Fugitive
  6. I’ll Be Waiting – From Bankstatement
  7. Back To Back – From Still
  8. For A While – From A Curious Feeling
  9. Throwback – From Bankstatement
  10. You Call This Victory – From Soundtracks
  11. And The Wheels Keep Turning – From The Fugitive
  12. You – From A Curious Feeling
  13. The Final Curtain – From Still

CD4

  1. Blade – From Six Pieces For Orchestra
  2. Black Down – From Seven
  3. Siren – From Six Pieces For Orchestra
  4. Earthlight – From Seven
  5. From The Undertow – From A Curious Feeling
  6. Spring Tide – Demo
  7. Neap Tide – Demo
  8. City Of Gold – Demo
  9. The Chase – From The Wicked Lady
  10. Kit Taken – From The Wicked Lady
  11. Poppet
  12. The Wicked Lady – From The Wicked Lady

Shaft #6 Preview available on Google Books

Shaft #6Whilst I still await delivery of Shaft #5 a preview of the final instalment of David Walker’s series, due out on 13 May, has been posted on Google Books. The cover artwork uses a publicity photo of Richard Roundtree as its basis. Not sure if the scan on the right is the official Cover A.

The blurb reads: The critically acclaimed comic book debut of Shaft comes to a violent end in a hard-boiled climax of retribution, revenge, and betrayal. The first big case of private detective John Shaft’s career has come with a high price. Shaft has it all figured out, but the bodies haven’t finished dropping, and there are still scores to settle. With the ghosts of his past looking over his shoulder, and his enemies in his sights, Shaft makes his final play.

Film Review Round-up – THE EIGER SANCTION (1975); THE FOG (1980) and LAST MAN STANDING (1996)

119934094Eiger Sanction, The (1975; USA; Technicolor; 123m) ∗∗∗  d. Clint Eastwood; w. Hal Dresner, Warren Murphy, Rod Whitaker; ph. Frank Stanley; m. John Williams.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, Jack Cassidy, Thayer David, Vonetta McGee, Heidi Bruhl, Reiner Schone, Michael Grimm, Jean-Pierre Bernard, Brenda Venus, Gregory Walcott, Candice Rialson, Elaine Shore, Dan Howard, Jack Kosslyn. A classical art professor and collector, who doubles as a professional assassin, is coerced out of retirement to avenge the murder of an old friend. Lame spy story is not one of Eastwood’s best efforts but is rescued by spectacular and thrilling mountain-climbing scenes. Eastwood did all of his own stunts. Based on the novel by Rod Whitaker (as Trevanian). [15]

images (2)Fog, The (1980; USA; Metrocolor; 90m) ∗∗∗∗  d. John Carpenter; w. John Carpenter, Debra Hill; ph. Dean Cundey; m. John Carpenter.  Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Houseman, Tom Atkins, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, George “Buck” Flower, Jim Haynie, James Canning, Ty Mitchell, John F. Goff, Regina Waldon, Darrow Igus. A Northern California fishing town, built 100 years ago over an old leper colony, is the target for revenge by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths. Creepy, atmospheric and with more than its fair share of shocks. Carpenter nicely ratchets up the tension and a game cast keep the viewer engaged. Eerie score by Carpenter heightens the fear factor. Remade in 2005. [15]

298841-lastmanstandingLast Man Standing (1996; USA; DeLuxe; 101m) ∗∗½  d. Walter Hill; w. Walter Hill; ph. Lloyd Ahern II; m. Ry Cooder.  Cast: Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern, William Sanderson, Christopher Walken, David Patrick Kelly, Michael Imperioli, Karina Lombard, Ned Eisenberg, Alexandra Powers, Ken Jenkins, R.D. Call, Ted Markland, Patrick Kilpatrick, Luis Contreras, Leslie Mann. A drifting gunslinger-for-hire finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between the Irish and Italian mafia in a Prohibition era ghost town. Cartoon violence abounds in this tale of cross and double-cross. Willis is effective, but it is difficult to connect with any of the characters. Re-working of Akira Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO (1961) (story by Ryûzô Kikushima and Kurosawa), which in turn was remade as FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964). [15]

Film Review Round-up – THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (2014); HORSE FEATHERS (1932) and FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964)

B00R3DO58KHobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The (2014; New Zealand/USA; Colour; 144m) ∗∗∗½  d. Peter Jackson; w. Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro; ph. Andrew Lesnie; m. Howard Shore. Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Aidan Turner, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Ryan Gage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Jed Brophy, Stephen Hunter, John Callen, Adam Brown, Dean O’Gorman, William Kircher, Peter Hambleton, Mark Hadlow, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Billy Connolly, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Ian Holm, Sylvester McCoy, Manu Bennett. As the dwarves dwell in the mountains, forces of Orcs and Elves descend on them, bringing possibility of a war that threatens all of Middle-earth. Bilbo must take it upon himself to end the conflict, but his actions may come at a terrible cost. Spectacular, action-packed finale, which is light on plot and characterisation and includes some implausible set-pieces. This is essentially one long battle. The visuals are stunning, however. Based on the novel “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

220px-HorseFeaHorse Feathers (1932; USA; B&W; 68m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Norman Z. McLeod; w. Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, S.J. Perelman, Will B. Johnstone; ph. Ray June; m. John Leipold.  Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Thelma Todd, David Landau, Florine McKinney, Nat Pendleton, James Pierce, Robert Greig. Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley U, hires bumblers Baravelli and Pinky to help his school win the big football game against rival Darwin U. Fast and furious Marxian lunacy with the gags flowing thick and fast. This one of their most sustained funny films. Although the present running time (68m) is very close to that of the original (70m), there are still a few bits and pieces and lines of dialogue missing due to re-editing in 1935 in order to bring the film up to Production Code standards. [U]

518oyd3UP1L._SY300_Fistful of Dollars (1964; Italy/Spain/West Germany; Technicolor; 99m) ∗∗∗½  d. Sergio Leone; w. Víctor Andrés Catena, Jaime Comas Gil, Sergio Leone; ph. Massimo Dallamano, Federico G. Larraya; m. Ennio Morricone; ed. Roberto Cinquini, Alfonso Santacana.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Mario Brega, Gian Maria Volonte, Marianne Koch, Jose Calvo, Wolfgang Lukschy, Joseph Egger, Sieghardt Rupp, Antonio Prieto, Margarita Lozano, Daniel Martin, Benito Stefanelli, Bruno Carotenuto, Aldo Sambrell. A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge. First of Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy is relatively low key compared to its successors, but highly influential on the genre. Eastwood’s presence is immediately apparent and the story is told with economy and style. A remake of YOJIMBO (1961), which itself was based on the as yet unadapted 1929 novel “Red Harvest” by Dashiell Hammett. Not released in the US until 1967. Original title: PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI. Followed by FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965). [15]

Book Review – THE SILKWORM (2014) by Robert Galbraith

THE SILKWORM by ROBERT GALBRAITH (2014, Sphere, Paperback, 584pp) ∗∗∗∗
      Blurb: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
      But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

51nAhDhrL8LBy now it’s a well-known fact that author Robert Galbraith, who wrote the well-received The Cuckoo Calling, is in fact J.K. Rowling. For her second book featuring Afghanistan vet turned private eye, Cormoran Strike, Rowling weaves a tight mystery plot around the murder of a controversial novelist. The literary world is one very familiar to Rowling and she has a great amount of fun painting colourful characters.

There is something reassuringly old-fashioned about the structure of this book, which broadly sticks to the multiple suspect formula of the genre. Where Rowling wins out is in her depiction of her roguish one-legged hero, his professional relationship with his assistant, Robin and in the almost caricature cast of suspects. The writing is easy and the managing of the plot clever.

Film Review Round-up – BLACK PATCH (1957); INTERSTELLAR (2014) and GO WEST (1940)

113027-338Black Patch (1957; USA; B&W; 82m) ∗∗∗  d. Allen H. Miner; w. Leo Gordon; ph. Edward Colman; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: George Montgomery, Diane Brewster, Tom Pittman, Leo Gordon, House Peters Jr., Jorge Treviño, Lynn Cartwright, Peter Brocco, Ted Jacques, Strother Martin, Gilman Rankin, Ned Glass, John O’Malley, Stanley Adams, Sebastian Cabot. A one-eyed marshal finds himself accused of a killing due to his past relationship with the dead man’s wife, prompting a young gunslinger to set out to avenge his death.  Unusual western is a heavy-handed and only partially successful attempt to capitalise on psychological elements popular at the time in the genre. The first film scored by Jerry Goldsmith. [PG]

images (1)Interstellar (2014; USA/UK; Colour; 169m) ∗∗∗½  d. Christopher Nolan; w. Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan; ph. Hoyte van Hoytema; m. Hans Zimmer.  Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, David Gyasi, Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy, Timothée Chalamet, Topher Grace, David Oyelowo, Ellen Burstyn. A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to find a potentially habitable planet that will sustain humanity. Big concept sci-fi knows how to play a crowd, gets by on strong lead performances and holds attention despite its script failing to fully realise the potential of the ideas explored. Won Oscar for Best Visual Effects (Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher). Based on a story by Kip Thorne. [12]

download (5)Go West (1940; USA; B&W; 80m) ∗∗∗½  d. Edward Buzzell; w. Irving Brecher; ph. Leonard Smith; m. George Bassman, George Stoll; ed. Blanche Sewell.  Cast: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, John Carroll, Diana Lewis, Walter Woolf King, Robert Barrat, Tully Marshall, June MacCloy, George Lessey. The Marx Brothers come to the rescue in the Wild West when a young man, trying to settle an old family feud so he can marry the girl he loves, runs afoul of crooks. One of the later Marx comedies, has a bland story but some splendid gags – notably the train chase climax. [U]