The Moffat Master Plan – Series 6 (part 2)

Warning – Some very minor spoilers for The Hand of Fear, and The Androids of Tara. Major spoilers for important bits of series five, six, and seven.
Also major spoilers for
The Tomorrow People episode, Hitler’s Last Secret.

Well, after a big gap, here is part three of my investigation of Steven Moffat’s story arcs.  Part two dealt with the first story of Series Six, and originally this part was to deal with the rest of that series, until I realised how overwhelmingly convoluted and inconsistent it was.  So now this bit will take us up to the penultimate story, and part three will be all about The Wedding of River Song.

(Late edit – Grant commented that I was applying a level of scrutiny that most stories wouldn’t hold up to – and he’s right.  So in order to be sightly fairer, I have coloured the bits that don’t really relate directly to the story or character arcs but are in fact individual episodic or story flaws.  So if you’re just interested in the arc bits, ignore the rest.)

 

Rory looks on in horror as the Doctor cold-bloodedly kills an innocent being for no very good reason.

So, after events in Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon we get various cameos with Madam Kovarian, and then we get The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People. It’s a story about how Gangers are really, really honestly living sentient beings after all, and killing them is wrong, wrong, so terribly wrong.

That ends with the Doctor choosing to kill the Ganger of Amy.

Just because.

He say he needed enough information to block the signal to the Flesh.  The Doctor has already waited through a few stories previously, so it’s a bit off that once he has confirmed the Ganger origins and that Amy is a Ganger, he pretty much immediately chooses to kill her, rather than keep her alive and try to track the signal animating her.

But it was a nice, cool, shock ending.  One that helped make the Doctor look, at best, like a massive, unfeeling hypocrite.  At worst he’s a murderer.  Would the Doctor have dispatched an actual living being like that?  Oh wait, he spent the last two episodes arguing that the Gangers were real, living, feeling beings, so the answer must be yes.

I think it would have been more shocking if they way came up with to deal with Ganger Jennifer, that also took out the Gangers of the Doctor, Cleaves, and Amy.  There’s a lot of drama to be had from that, especially if it turns out the Doctor didn’t know for sure, so he’s almost as stunned and shocked as Rory.  And it avoids turning the Doctor into a cold-blooded killer.

But that’s not as cool or surprising, and one should always jettison good character stuff for cool.

So then we come to…   Continue reading

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195. Sons of Steel (1988): A Torture Cinema “Adventure” w/ Danny Oz

I had a ball doing this podcast. The folks at Skiffy and Fanty are lovely, passionate, and a bit mad. We spent hours talking about one of my favourite Australian science fiction time travel musical films ever, Sons of Steel.

It’s a 3 hour podcast, twice as long as the film itself.  No wonder I was exhausted by the end of it!

The Skiffy and Fanty Show

80s hair bands, nuclear submarines, and mutant grunts, oh my!  In celebration of Australian cinema, we’re joined by Danny Oz to discuss his favorite terrible movie ever, Sons of Steel.  Trust me, you won’t want to miss this episode…

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below):

Episode 195 — Download (MP3)

Sons of Steel Poster

Show Notes:

You can also support this podcast by signing up for a one month free trial at Audible.  Doing so helps us, gives you a change to try out Audible’s service, and brings joy to everyone.

Our new intro music is “Time Flux” by Revolution Void (

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AM1200

AM1200 – 8/10

am-1200

Nicely made and atmospheric short film. It’s kind of hard to say much about the plot without spoiling it, and I generally believe the less you know about a film going in, the better. Certainly if I’d looked at the IMDB synopsis of the plot, I’d have figured out the ending early on.

What I will tell you is it’s well directed, I liked the story, and being a short film means it fills its 40 minutes well. The acting is all good, and it’s well worth your time to check out. There’s a small amount of gore, which is all the more horrifying because it is a small amount. The atmosphere of the movie is such that I found myself constantly on the lookout for things hidden in the dark, or fleetingly glimpsed.

I was originally told the only way to get a copy of this was to download it, and so I did. I’ve since managed to track down the website and will be buying a copy on DVD. It’s well-made enough to have earned my cash, and it’s a film I will enjoy occasionally showing to people.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

Die, Monster, Die!

Die, Monster, Die! – 7/10

Die-Poster

It starts off making use of a bunch of ever-popular tropes – the village that won’t talk to strangers about stuff, the menacing old house that doesn’t welcome visitors, an odd past, secrets, people disappearing or going mad… and the film handles all these things well. It’s weird, creepy, forced, and over-the-top in all the right ways.

On top of that, most of the performances are good, the sets are lovely, the direction fair, and while slow, it keeps one interested. There are also some lovely effects in the greenhouse scene later in the film. Most of the film’s chills and scares come from its over all creepiness.

I say most because it all comes tumbling down in the last third. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a “cursed family” movie, a “science gone wrong,” one, or what. And just when it decides it wants to rationalise everything is right when the things that happen within the film cease to make much sense.

The movie also makes the decision that building a creepy atmosphere is no longer good enough, time to break out the cheap jump-scares that are there for no other purpose. It does know that it has “monster” right there in the title, so it better give us one, no matter how nonsensical the reasons why.

It’s a variable adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Colour Out Of Space, and definitely worth a look, just keep expectations low so when the ending comes along you’re prepared for the drop in story-telling.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

Intruders

Intruders – 7/10

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This is a film made or broken by its ending. If you like or accept the conceit, the film will hold up better than if you don’t.

It’s certainly weird and creepy, with some great moments and concepts. Basic idea is two children in different countries visited by a strange and scary creature. To say more is to spoil the film.

In the end, I think it took the less interesting option with the storytelling, which is a shame because there’s some really great ideas in it. I do think it’s a worthwhile film to see, but your mileage may vary.

At some point I may do a follow up post full of spoilers talking about how it failed to use some of its more interesting ideas.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

Rare Exports – A Christmas Story

Rare Exports – A Christmas Story – 8/10

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Went for one of the creepier posters for this one.

 

This one is less cosmic horror and more a mildly humourous semi-Lovecraftian take on Father Christmas. Essentially it’s “What if Santa was an Great Old One?” It’s entertaining and clever, and it plays with its ideas in a couple of unexpected ways.

Not overly horrific, it aims more for being odd and strange. Probably the most haunting image in the film is that of a naked, scrawny old bearded man. With no effects work and little more than stillness and nice direction, some moments with him are really creepy.

Over all, not very cosmic, but with a little nasty horror and some not too over the top humour, it’s a great watch. Can’t wait until my kids are old enough to see this dark, strange Christmas movie.

rare exports_safety_instructions

 

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

I’m back and angry…

Hello gentle reader.  Sorry to have been away so long.  December was busy, a virus ran through our house, and then I had to go interstate to visit sick relatives and bereaved friends, and post-trip I was pretty bloody tired.

So what brought me back out again?  What was it that got me all fired up and angry?  What got me so very annoyed that I could not avoid hitting the keyboard?

Steven Bloody Moffat!

So that’s why I love myself. But enough about me. Why do YOU love me?

I read this today – “Steven Moffat has defended criticisms that his stories contain plot holes.

In an interview with BBC Radio 2, Moffat addressed the issue for both Sherlock and Doctor Who and explained that he thinks clever viewers are able to join the dots themselves and don’t always need an on screen explanation.

He said: “I think people have come to think a plot hole is something which isn’t explained on screen. A plot hole is actually something that can’t be explained.

“Sometimes you expect the audience to put two and two together for themselves. For Sherlock, and indeed Doctor Who, I’ve always made the assumption that the audience is clever.”

That’s the whole of it, but here’s a link to the site.

What I dislike about this is the cynical, utterly transparent, manipulative intent of his comments.  What he’s essentially saying is, “No, it’s not that I’m leaving plot holes, it’s that people who criticise my writing aren’t very clever, unlike people who like what I do.”

It’s Moffat attempting his own version of The Emperor’s New Clothes. [1]

He’s broadly attempting to do two things.  One is to make people think twice before criticising him, lest they be perceived as being a bit dim.  The other is to bolster the support of those who enjoy his writing in an uncritical way, by telling them that by enjoying what he does, they must be more clever than those who are critical.

Well, I’m bloody calling him on it. Continue reading

The Moffat Master Plan – Series 6 (part 1)

Warning – Some spoilers for Pyramids of Mars, Father’s Day, and Waters of Mars. Major spoilers for important bits of series five, six, and seven.

Okay, welcome to part two of my investigation of Steven Moffat’s story arcs and writing, and how it holds together.

Hint = it doesn’t.

This article will only be about the first story of series six because there’s a lot to say. But the series certainly started strong…

Boy, I hope we don’t completely screw up this iconic scene later in the season…

Impossible Astronaut While at Lake Silencio, Amy spots a figure on a hill. It’s a Silent. But even though it’s incredibly likely that she’s seen the footage of the moon landing at some point in her life, she doesn’t immediately try to kill it on sight. Continue reading

Possession (minor spoilers)

Possession – 8/10

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Some people will see this film and think it’s an amazing piece of cinema. Some will see it and find it dreadful. Both views are correct.

Depending on my mood when I saw Possession, I could find it falling anywhere between those two extremes. It’s… a difficult one. People throw around the term ‘mindfuck’ for films with clever twists or disturbing ideas – I think I will now ask anyone using the term how those films stack up against Possession, because I’ve seen few films as psychologically gruelling as this one.

Most of the characters in the film are unlikeable and strange. This is something I’ve complained about in other movies and yet here it is also kind of the point. Early in the film we get to watch to odd, troubled, and unsympathetic characters as their marriage disintegrates horribly. It’s awful in all the ways it should be and a very uncomfortable watch.

From there it spirals into madness. Hard to tell if it’s the film-maker’s or the characters’ or the breakdown of the universe. Despite the title, you’re (probably) watching allegory.

Full credit has to go to Isabelle Adjani for playing her part as the disturbed, and disturbing Anna, with such unflinching, unwavering, mania. There are long, long sequences where she will act out what must have been a truly exhausting scene, physically and emotionally, without the camera ever cutting away. The scene in the subway quickly gets past uncomfortable, moves on to gruelling, and keeps on going way beyond that. She won awards for this and other films, and I’m not surprised. She’s an amazing actress.

Sam Neill does a solid job too, as Mark, who spends much of his time broken and unlikeable. His mood and attitudes vary, but you’re never completely on his side even when his wife is cruel to him.

Credit too must go to writer/director Andrzej Zulawski for filming long unbroken takes which give things a visceral quality. It’s a bit like watching a car crash, you can’t tear your eyes away as events unfold infront of you in terrible and unexpected ways.

One of the things I like about it is that it doesn’t give you any answers. You can’t tell if it’s real, if the film is from the point of view of the madness of its characters, or all shot in Symbolism-Vision. It’s a film that more than earns its right to be called a mindfuck movie, and depending on your mood you’ll hate it or appreciate it, but you probably won’t like it. I’ve seen several reviews by people who said they felt violated by the movie. It’s a strong term to use, but I can see exactly where they are coming from.

It’s not a nice film, and it will likely stay with you. I could easily have given it anywhere between 9/10 or 6/10, in the end I settled on 8 because that’s what I feel at the time of writing. Ask me again tomorrow, it will probably get a different score.

I never want to see it again, and yet I will probably buy a copy because it truly is an amazing piece of cinema that, when I feel strong enough, I will certainly want to revisit.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

Dagon

Dagon – 8/10

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The first third of Dagon is a little… unengaging. The protagonist isn’t very likeable, and neither is his girlfriend, though she is better than him. So I watched as it meandered along, waiting for it to pick up.

And pick up it did. Things quickly take on a surreal, creepy and dangerous bent, and to some degree, even with his irritating character, the protagonist starts to come into his own. He’s still not that likeable, but at least what is after him is even less likeable.

The film suffers in a few ways. I don’t think Ezra Godden, who plays Paul, is that good. The scripting of his character is variable, but even when it’s good it often feels like he plays it wrong. The best performance comes from Francisco Rabal, and it’s a testament to him as an actor that he’s so good even though he’s hard to understand as he struggles with the English dialogue.

Macarena Gómez is quite good. She has a nicely unusual face, and plays her part quite well. The film also uses computer graphics to achieve some moments, but sensibly uses them sparingly, and to good effect.

While it gets some things wrong, once it gets up to speed it does a fair job of carrying the audience along with it, even when it gets slightly silly. Bad things happen, and no-one comes out of it too well. There’s some gore, but it is nowhere near as horrible as the situation. Not to everyone’s taste, but certainly it captures the tone of hopelessness and and unknowable horror well.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.