Spank's LFF Diary, Sunday 16/10/2016
MOSTLYFILM: London Korean Film Festival 2016

Simian Substitute Site Of The Month November 2016: Monkeys With Fire


Comics: October's always a bit of a bugger when it comes to these Month End posts. Most of what I've been doing during the month has already been written about in the London Film Festival reports - Wrap Party coming soon, promise - or will be covered in future posts relating to MostlyFilm, BrewDogging or that Alan Moore novel I mentioned last time. It's probably why this month, any spare time I've had has been spent revisiting things I've written about before. For example, the comic Preacher - or more specifically, its artist and co-creator Steve Dillon, who died recently at the tragically early age of 54. When people rave about comics artists, they usually talk about how they cope with huge visual challenges set by writers, like drawing futuristic cityscapes and so on. Writers like Garth Ennis, on the other hand, would set challenges like this: 'what would a polar bear look like immediately after being punched in the face by the Punisher?' Dillon nailed it, as he always did. Read any article about Dillon's style and the word 'acting' always comes up: the characters he drew were giving a performance, and he wanted that performance to be as true to life as he could make it. This sequence from Preacher is a great example of his approach - it's just three people in a truck talking and listening to music, but look at the sheer amount we learn about the characters from their facial expressions. Dillon was a world-class visual storyteller, and the world of comics is a lot poorer for his loss.

Radio: Back in January 1999, I wrote a piece about Chris Morris' late-night radio comedy Blue Jam, picking out some highlights from series 1 and 2 in anticipation of the just-starting series 3. Nearly 18 years later, series 3 of Blue Jam is finally getting its first repeat run, at 11pm on Friday nights on Radio 4 Extra. It'll also be sitting around on the iPlayer for four weeks after transmission, of course. In the years since it was first broadcast, a compilation CD of the best sketches has been released, and we've also had the TV remake Jam. But the radio version features Morris' concept in its most satisfying form - a dense mix of ambient music and bleak comedy, where it's easy to miss where one ends and the other begins. It'll be interesting to see how Blue Jam's rampant darkness comes across these days: it takes a little while to tune back in to the show's unique frequency, and episode 1's opening sketch involving a man who's been "gangraped in the bottom by a gang of street puffs" certainly pulls you up short. Maybe Adam and Joe were right all along.

Telly: This one requires a little less effort to remember when I last wrote about it: four months ago, in fact. As I've said before, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an intense drama series about depression and obsession, so carefully disguised as a musical romantic comedy that people seem to keep mistaking it for one. I've finally managed to catch up with the rest of the first season, watching most of it on another long-haul Emirates flight (where they almost wrecked an entire subplot with one ridiculously prudish bit of editing), and mopping up the last couple of episodes on Netflix. As season finales go, this one's pretty great, in that it manages to resolve all the major plotlines from the previous weeks and then - in a single short tag scene - opens up a whole new direction for season 2. Which makes it all the more delightful to discover that Netflix have picked up the just-started season 2 for the UK, and are releasing the latest episodes a mere two days after their US transmission. From the first one, it looks like season 2's going to be a rather different beast from season 1, from the opening title song and downwards. But all the key components we know and love about the show are still there, with the Beyonce pastiche of Love Kernels a specific highlight of the premiere. At least I'll be able to watch this season without pesky airlines cutting out the good bits, and that's got to be an improvement.

In the meantime, your Simian Substitute Site Of The Month for November 2016 is Monkeys With Fire, a webstore dedicated to tabletop gaming. Board games, card games, dice games, miniature games and roleplaying games: if it's non-digital in form, they've probably got it here somewhere. There's not much more to be said about them apart from that, so have a visit and see what you can find.

Coming up later this month: as hinted above, we'll be wrapping up the LFF, indulging in more BrewDogging, posting a couple of MostlyFilm reviews and backup material, and plenty more besides. As ever, the comments box is open below for any general blathering you may have.


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