Follow by email

Friday, 29 November 2019

The Irishman is a gold standard mobster flick.....

The Irishman opens with a shot that calls to mind another Scorsese materpiece, Goodfellas - the latter used a voyeuristic camera to track behind Henry Hill as he parades his new girlfriend through the neighbourhood, all pastel shades and slick jet black hair. It was a scene that celebrated youth and mob culture. It was a celebration of a way of life that was abhorrent to right minded people and yet at the same time strangely alluring. And now comes the opening shot of The Irishman which turns that scene on its head by creeping through a Catholic OAP home, meandering past wheelchairs occupied by men with ancient lines upon their faces, dim soon to be extinguished glows in their eyes, snakes around orderlies to come to rest on the aged face of Robert De Niro in the role of real life gangster, Frank Sheeran - the man who actually confessed to killing union boss, Jimmy Hoffa. It's a scene that laments the inevitability of aging and perhaps pines a little over the extinction of the old school mobster. The stylishly suited, slicked back but ultimately deadly wise guys have gone, been replaced by gold toothed, bling dragging, steriod chested thugs.

The Irishman is based on the book,  I Heard you Paint Houses (a euphemism for splattering blood over the walls) by Charles Brandt which was the story of mob enforcer, Frank Sheeran. Before Sheeran died in  2003, he confessed to his part in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, claiming to have redecorated the walls with his brains and this confession provoked an FBI investigation. The ensuring investigation revealed that blood splatter was found in the house where Hoffa was supposedly murdered but being thirty years old, the DNA was unable to be conclusive. Officially the FBI have never closed the case but the story depicted in the book and now the film seems entirely credible.

Back to the movie though - It is quite excellent and doesn't feel like its mammoth running time, giving that the audience are in the hands of absolute masters both in front of and behind the camera. It's great to see De Niro and Pacino, two of the finest actors in the world, sharing so much screen time ( I remember the excitement when Michael Mann's brilliant crime thriller, Heat was first released. Part of the thrill was finally seeing De Niro and Pacino on screen together, sharing scenes but as good as the movie was it was dissapointing that their time on screen together was so brief) and marveling at the way each performance feeds the other. De Niro is somewhat subdued in his portrayal of the average working stiff who finds himself elevated to professional criminal, whilst Pacino turns his Jimmy Hoffa up past eleven. Both performances are pitch perfect - likewise with Joe Pesci who provides a brooding grandfatherly figure,a man who is both endearing and sinister as mob boss, Russel Bufalino.

Director, Scorsese recently stirred up controversy when he stated that Superhero movies, specifically Marvel movies are not really cinema at all -  “I was asked a question about Marvel movies. I answered it. I said that I’ve tried to watch a few of them and that they’re not for me, that they seem to me to be closer to theme parks than they are to movies as I’ve known and loved them throughout my life.” - well, the Irishman is the most persuasive addendum to Scorsese's argument yet. There is a real sense of danger in this movie, of people who come across with the trappings of real life. So is the Irishman better than any of the Avengers CGI- fests? Of course it fucking is! What kind of fucking schmuck asks a question like that?

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Bomber Braddock is Back!

The character of Matt Braddock first appeared in The Rover Comic back in 1952 - I wasn't even born then and I first came across the character in the 1970's when he appeared in The Victor. The character was popular enough that he even appeared in Warlord and several of his stories have been published in graphic novel format under the title, I flew with Braddock.

Braddock was known for his fearless nature, superb piloting skills and no-nonsense attitude. He had no time for petty rules and regulations, and remained at the rank of sergeant, refusing to be promoted to an officer rank. However this didn't stop him from standing up to incompetent superiors, or defending other enlisted men from overzealous courts-martial. He spent almost as much time clashing with superior officers as the Germans, and on two occasions in I Flew With Braddock he came fairly close to being court-martialled for assaulting a superior officer (although one incident was a misunderstanding and the other was under severe provocation). The narrator of these stories was his hero-worshipping navigator, George Bourne (a Dr. Watson-type narrator, a relatively sophisticated device for juvenile fiction).
Braddock was so highly regarded that he had carte blanche to pick his own flight crew, and was frequently called upon to advise high-ranking commanders of the RAF. Braddock flew several types of aircraft, but his most prominent command was the Lancaster Bomber "F Fox". At the start of I Flew With Braddock the crew was Braddock and Bourne, co-pilot and flight engineer 'Ham' Hancox, bomb aimer Tom Tanner, radio operator 'Nicker' Brown, mid-upper gunner 'Hoppy' Robinson, and tail gunner Les Howe. Les Howe clashed with Braddock early on and was replaced by 'Baa' Lamb, and later 'Hoppy' Robinson was badly injured in a raid and replaced by Arthur Atkins.
Vintage Braddock from The Victor

The  character makes a welcome return in the pages of Commando Books - this week, in Commando issue 5267 Braddock stars in a story entitled, Demons. This follows on from issue 5259 which featured a story simply entitled Braddock.

Issue 5267 Braddock: Demons is on sale now in both physical and electronic format

Friday, 4 October 2019

Lord Peter Flint is back after nearly thirty years!!! Commando Comics brings back a classic character

To men of a certain age, those who grew up reading British adventure comics, the name of Lord Peter Flint will be a familiar one. The character, a kind of war-time James Bond, first appeared in the premier issue of Warlord comic way back in 1974 - I was eight years old at the time. The strip quickly became the flagship story with the comic even launching a Warlord club in which you, the reader, could join and become a Warlord agent - in the issue dated July 4th 1981 it cost a 30p postal order to join the top secret Warlord club and for this you would get a code book, a membership card and a rather spiffing badge.

Warlord Comic ran some great stories over the years - it was published weekly between 1974 and 1996 - and many characters became favourites - Union Jack Jackson, Killer Kane,  Major Heinz Falken and many others but Lord Peter Flint, Codenamed Warlord remained the centerpiece of the comic.

It was therefore great news to learn that Commando Comics, the UK's longest running comic series which has been publishing non-stop since 1961, recently brought the character back to action in the pages of its digest sized Commando books.

The return of Peter Flint, entitled Codename Warlord was published this August and was written by Iain McLaughlin, a scribe who in his younger days had been a fan of the character.

"The first issue of Warlord came out on a week when I was off school with a stinker of a cold. My dad bought me this new comic to cheer me up a bit - and also so he could read it himself. I read that issue of Warlord and I was hooked. After that, I read every issue for the next six or seven years. A huge part of what kept me reading was Codename Warlord with Lord Peter Flint. He was part James Bond, part Scarlet Pimpernel and completely brilliant. The scripts and the art came together to tell wonderful, gripping stories that stick in the memory even to this day. When I was asked to come up with ideas to bring Lord Peter Flint to the pages of Commando I leaped at the chance. Flint is a fantastic character with so much potential for the kind of fantastic adventure stories Commando is famous for. I hope the readers have as much fun reading Flint's return as I had writing it,"  Iain McLaughlin

 The re-birth was successful enough that a second book featuring the character, Codename Warlord: Ship of Fools was published only last month.

The welcome return of the character has been met with a strong response and Commando have revealed that other classic characters from its extensive archives will soon see print in the pages of Commando Comic - me, I'm eager to see the return of Union Jack Jackson and his Irish-American sidekick.

Tally Ho, Chaps!!!

The Harpe Brothers: America's first serial killers

Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin has suggested that his state really needs to capitalize on the connection to the Harpe brothers, America's first serial killers after reading a report on how much revenue Jack the Ripper tours bring into London on an annual basis.

The brothers killed at least 39 people and they had a signature move - they would remove a victim's stomach, open up the chest cavity and bizarrely fill it with rocks.

You can read up on the brothers HERE

Monday, 23 September 2019

Libraries boost eBook sales

When publisher Macmillan took the step of allowing libraries only one digital copy of their new eBooks over fears that sales would be affected if libraries were allowed to hire out multiple copies at once, the library trade were angered. Steve Potash, the CEO of OverDrive, the American company which provides digital rights management for libraries, called the movie, horse shit.

Well now there seems to be data that proves that Macmillan were wrong to worry and the library rentals actually impacts positively on eBook sales. Rebecca Miller recently revealed the results of a survey in  Library Journal  and the results were positive for digital publishing.

  • 42 percent of US adults surveyed reported that they had bought the same book they had previously borrowed from a library, a number that jumps to 60 percent among millennials.
  • 70 percent reported that they had bought another book by an author whose other works they’d borrowed from a library, a number that jumps to 75.4, 76.1, and 77.2 for Gen X, Gen Z, and millennials, respectively.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Is Picard to die in new Star Trek

Rumors are that CBS have committed to a second season of its latest Star Trek spin-off series, Picard but without Patrick Stewert whose character is to die at the climax of the first season. Claims, made by  YouTuber Doomcock, who boasts about having a source within CBS,  suggests that a ship would then be named the USS Picard allowing the show to continue.

Doomcock said on You Tube - “Oh hell yes they are going to kill Picard Picard is the only reason anyone would ever watch this s***. But here comes the part that will make fans heads explode. The worst part you can imagine. Are you ready gang? Get this. There will be a Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard.They do that because Patrick Stewart costs too much money, dude. They are bleeding money at CBS. And there is no way with the anemic ratings and the subscriber money they are getting on CBS All Access that they can afford Sir Patrick for another season.They are going to kill Picard. And his ragtag crew of attractive and marketable ragamuffins will miss him b******* about his daggum lombego so much, they will name their stolen star ship U.S.S. Picard. And they will have more adventures aboard the U.S.S. Picard in Season 2. Boldly going where lots of fashion models have gone before.”

Rambo author draws first blood against Stallone movie

Author David Morrell, creator of Rambo, has come out  against the latest movie in the franchise, Rambo Last Blood.

 'I felt degraded and dehumanized after I left the theater. In 2016 Sly and I had numerous lengthy telephone conversations about creating what he described as a “soulful” Rambo. Then he stopped communicating with me. One element of our conversations is in the new film (the search for the missing child as an example of the family he never had), but instead of being soulful, this new movie lacks one. I felt I was less a human being for having seen it, and today that’s an unfortunate message.'  Morrell wrote on his Facebook page

The film, the fifth in the franchise, sees Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo in a quest to rescue a girl held captive by a criminal gang in Mexico. And it has left critics perplexed over its depiction of Mexico as a criminal wasteland, however in fairness the Rambo movies have never been meant to be taken seriously and best work if the viewer accepts the gung ho nonsense for what it is.

Morrell and Stallone in better days

'The film is a mess, resembling a 1976 James Mitchum (Robert Mitchum’s son) film called TRACKDOWN, which has almost the same plot, in which a Montana rancher gets even with sex traffickers (in this case in Los Angeles), who have kidnapped a young female relative. That film is typical of ultra-violent 1970s exploitation “grindhouse” films, the technique of which RAMBO: LAST BLOOD resembles. The sets here look cheap. The direction is awkward. The script is filled with explanatory dialogue (“she was like the family I never had” or words to that effect—we get it—explanation not required, and this from an actor/writer who prides himself on communicating visually rather than through unnecessary words). The music has that droning synthetic sound that TV dramas use to support needless, tedious dialogue. The characters are post-it-note caricatures. Rambo could be called John Smith, and the film wouldn’t change. It assumes the audience is familiar with Rambo’s background whereas anyone under 40 will wonder what on earth is going on with those tunnels. From multiple perspective, this film fails miserably. The best I can say is that the first two minutes were promising.' Morrell from his Facebook post.

The critics have been no kinder and have called the direction, lethargic and the acting and writing, risible. Empire Magazine claimed that fans should put their headbands to half mast and remember better days, because this new Rambo is a damp squib, while The Observer dismissed the film, claimit it was  nothing but cheap and nasty carnage.

The press have made much out of the original author's dislike for the film with the New York Times claiming that Morrell is ashamed to be associated with Stallone's take on the character, though in truth the author actually said that he was embarrassed to have his name associated with the movie rather than Stallone himself.