Category Archives: Reviews

Potted Film Review: Fractured (2019)

MV5BZTE0MWE4NzMtMzc4Ny00NWE4LTg2OTQtZmIyNDdhZjdiZmJhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY0MTE3NzU@._V1_UY268_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Starring: Sam Worthington, Lily Rabe

Sometimes movies try to be too clever for their own good, and the writers will throw up any number of roadblocks and red herrings just to ensure the viewer doesn’t figure out what is going on.

Fractured is a psychological thriller and could very easily have been one of those movies, but instead it kept me on the hook right until the end, even if I had pretty much (mostly) figured out what was going on before the credits rolled.

Although it does change things up a bit, what’s on offer here is not an original concept – and to say too much about the plot would be to spoil it, so I won’t – but it’s all done very well, to the point where the movie is thoroughly engrossing throughout.

Recommended ⇑

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The Less Famous Comic Called Russell…

Last night I went to see the British comic, Russell Kane. I have only seen a handful of comedians perform on stage because I can be quite particular about who I find funny, but I’m glad I went. The guy is pretty good.

He took to the stage at 7.30 (at the newly refurbished Music Hall here in Aberdeen) and maybe a hundred thousand words later, he was out of there by 10. No support; no elaborate stage. Just him and a microphone.

You see, Russell Kane likes to talk. And talk. And talk. Now that would just come off as annoying if he didn’t have anything interesting to say, but thankfully Kane has a lot of stories to tell, most of which had me laughing and nodding in agreement – whether it was the misuse of social media, the (un)importance of greeting cards, or his wife’s drunken antics.

Recommended if he comes to your town, and you’re short of a smile.

Night Shift #6 – The Boogeyman…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 4,900

As I am discovering with a lot of the stories in Night Shift, The Boogeyman is very straightforward, which I am sure has a lot to do with how young and inexperienced King was when he wrote these. No matter, such literary limitations often makes for a more focused tale, and the narrative here is pretty solid as a result.

The Boogeyman is set entirely in a therapy session with the central character taking the blame for the death of his three children, because he believes that he has allowed the titular boogeyman into their home. What follows is the conversation between doctor and patient as they both try to work through what has actualy happened.

This is a simple story that is possibly a little longer than it needs to be – because there isn’t much meat on the bone – but it’s a fun read, and worth your time if you want to dig in to the collection.

Recommended ⇓

Potted Film Review: Backtrace (2018)

Starring: Matthew Modine, Sylvester Stallone

I am an unapologetic Stallone fan, but he has made a lot of less than stellar movies. Backtrace – in which he plays a supporting role as a cop still working a case from the best part of a decade earlier – is one of them.

His performance (for what there is of it) is fine, as are those of the rest of the cast, but from start to finish this by-the-numbers crime thriller feels like a movie you would find at the bottom of the bargain bin in your local supermarket. It’s not a terrible movie, or a great embarrassment on anyone’s resume… but it’s just a completely forgettable ninety minutes.

Not Recommended ⇓

Night Shift #5 – The Mangler…

619i-4slsfl645695221..jpgWord count – 7,000

An industrial laundry press is possessed and kills anyone who gets too close to it. Yes, the premise of The Mangler is very silly, which is not to say that silly ideas can’t work, but it does mean the story is already fighting an uphill battle even before we turn the first page.

This would not have been so bad had it been well written, but unfortunately I can see the immaturity and inexperience of the author in the words. Actually, King does name-drop the titular model of laundry press as a Hadley-Watson Model-6 Speed Ironer and Folder, so there is something approaching research in here, and an attempt to ground the story in the real world – as much as such a ridiculous idea can be – but the dialogue is painful in places and some of the narration is equally awkward.

Such is the absurdity of the story, The Mangler would have been much more acceptable as a spoof. If I thought that King was trying to make us laugh, this would at least have some merit, but I don’t think he is in on the joke.

Not Recommended ⇓

Eagles, Chapter IV – One of These Nights (1975)

Members: Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner

One of These Nights inarguably marks a change in sound for the Eagles, and – following their first three heavily country influenced releases – it would begin a trilogy of more rock-oriented albums.

Don Felder may not have been the man who made that happen, but his guitar was certainly a great influence on their music. Bernie Leadon is lost in this line-up, and his departure after this album – while sad – almost feels like the shackles have been loosened for a band that were moving in a different direction by now.

One of These Nights (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Henley
A bona-fide Eagles classic with super harmonies and a great guitar sound throughout. It’s like they introduced disco to rock and discovered this song in the process. 9

Too Many Hands (Randy Meisner / Don Felder)
Lead – Meisner
Meisner may be the one singing here, but this song has Felder’s fingerprints and fretboard all over it. It starts off strong but loses it a little towards the end. 7

Hollywood Waltz (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Bernie Leadon / Tom Leadon)
Lead – Henley
A very deliberate and sombre song. I like it, but there isn’t enough here for me to latch onto. Henley is competent on vocals, but I get the feeling he is sleepwalking through this one. 6

Journey of the Sorcerer (Bernie Leadon)
instrumental
The Eagles didn’t release many instrumental tracks during their run, and this is both the longest and the best one they ever did. Oddly, this may be the high point of Leadon’s tenure with the band, but it’s a track that would have fit better a couple of albums ago. 7

Lyin’ Eyes (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey
A mellow Eagles classic which stays in second gear all the way through, but it tells a good and relatable story. It’s a simple lyric, and you may think it goes on a verse too long, but it’s hard to fault the sincerity of it. 7

Take it to the Limit (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Randy Meisner)
Lead – Meisner
This song may not be the best one Meisner performed with the Eagles, but it is the greatest single contribution that he made to the legacy of the band. 8

Visions (Don Henley / Don Felder)
Lead – Felder
The only Felder lead vocal is a good one. His weakness as a singer is masked by the music and the rest of the boys accompanying him. 7

After the Thrill is Gone (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey & Henley
This is a solid (but far from inspired) shared vocal, and one of their less celebrated collaborations, with Frey finding his home on the verses and Henley taking on the more emotional bridge work. 7

I Wish You Peace (Bernie Leadon / Patti Davis)
Lead – Leadon
The final Leadon vocal, and it feels like the rest of the guys were throwing him a bone here. It’s not bad, but this is a track for a different album. 6

Overall: 71%
There may be a few Eagles standards here, but One of These Nights is the only genuinely great song on the album. Fortunately, the other tracks are pretty good across the board, putting this right up there with Desperado on the scorecard.

Potted Film Review: Let’s Be Cops (2014)

Let's_Be_Cops_posterStarring: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr.

Jake and Damon have chemistry together, in much the way that two old friends would have. This is undoubtedly at least in part as a result of their time together on the comedy show, New Girl… which was probably the thinking behind throwing them together in this movie.

The basic premise of Let’s Be Cops promises more than it delivers, but the plot goes exactly where you think it will, so you’re unlikely to be too surprised. There’s not a lot in this movie that’s fresh, and not a great many big laughs either, but it is amusing enough for the time that it is on screen: just doesn’t expect it to distinguish itself from the pack.

Recommended (slightly)⇑