“Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome” finds its way to syfy at last!

(image via www.bleedingcool.com)

 

It all started way back in 2003 when a boldly re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, stripped of all its late 70s cheesiness (for which I still retain a great fondness, I have to admit), and bulked up with stellar scripts, imaginative narrative and superb acting blasted onto our screens.

From the moment the mini-series that began it all showed the 12 colonial worlds being blown to smithereens by the avenging Cylons, and a remnant humanity fleeing for their lives in the hope of finding sanctuary on the much-mytholgised Earth, I was hooked and remained so for the entire duration of the four series sci-fi sensation.

I found the ending ingeniously clever and an elegant and fitting way to wrap things up but of course like any nearly obsessive fan, I longed for more from the world of Adama, Starbuck and the blighted planets of the colony.

 

(image via battlestar-blog.livejournal.com)

 

Caprica went some way to satisfying that craving with a gritty, unflinching drama that took place 58 years before the events of Battlestar Galactica and showed how humanity unwittingly sowed the seeds of their own almost-destruction by creating the Cylons.

It was bold, imaginative, perhaps a little dark and morose at times, but it underlined how even the most innocent and well-intentioned of decisions can come back to haunt anyone; in this case all of humanity.

Alas low ratings sealed its fate and on October 27, 2010, syfy cancelled the series and that I thought was that.

But then around the same time as the cancellation came word about another prequel to Battlestar Galactica called Flesh and Chrome – technically Caprica was a prequel although in terms of direct connection to the storyline, F & C is a much closer fit – which was grand in scope as this statement from executive producer Michael Taylor, quoted on chicagotribune.com made clear:

“It’s a story that will take us to new corners of the ‘Battlestar’ world (or worlds), and yet it aims to be a very contemporary war movie in a lot of ways. I would say I’m thinking as much of Afghanistan and Iraq–the reality of ‘Hurt Locker’, Sebastian Junger’s ‘Restrepo’, and similar movies–as I am about about the largely implied past of ‘Battlestar’.”

 

A young William Adama (Luke Pasqualino) pictured on the flight with a fellow pilot (image via tubefilter.com)

 

Originally envisioned as a 9-10 episodes of 10 minutes duration each, and intended for online distribution only, its aim was to tell the story of one William Adama, newly assigned to one of the most powerful warships in the colonial fleet, the Galactica against the backdrop of the first Cylon war.

However syfy indicated towards the end of 2010 that they would broadcast it instead which began one of those annoying back and forth bouts of indecision about whether to use the televisual or online channels till it looked like Flesh and Chrome would simply remain an un-viewed concept, caught in creative limbo.

Thank the gods, sense has now prevailed, and after showing the episodes online on the MachinaPrime site (the first episode debuted on November 9, 2012), syfy will finally air the show as a two hour telecast on Sunday, 10 February 2013 in the USA with a DVD/Bluray release of the show set to release on 19 February.

Battlestar Galactica looks as slick and spectacular as any of syfy’s digital productions before it – Sanctuary was also a standout in this regard – and it looks like this could be the BSG prequel that will finally, at least for a little while, assuage that craving for another instalment in the fearsome never-ending battle between man and machine.

 

“The Muppets … Again” … again! (Plot + first official image)

Ricky Gervaise with Miss Piggy and Kermit in the first publicity shot for the “The Muppets … Again” (image via sfx.co.uk)

 

This time The Muppets are going global. traipsing across the globe on a grand adventure evoking all the delightfully silly charm and sophistication of 60s crime and spy capers like The Pink Panther (1963) and Casino Royale (1967).

And there will be action and intrigue and no doubt humour and mayhem aplenty as Kermit indicated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“The idea of this film is that our gang is on this global tour, and we’re selling out these grand theaters all over Europe — in Berlin, Madrid, London — but we sort of get into a little bit of trouble when we run across my doppleganger. He’s the world’s number one criminal, Constantine, and he happens to look an awful lot like me.”

The plot recalls in all the best ways The Muppet Caper (1981) which saw Kermit and the gang hot on the trail of a jewel thief, eventually emerging triumphant (of course) but only after much hilarity and over-the-top hi-jinks.

 

The Muppets (image via insidemovies.ew.com)

 

I’d expect that this movie will carry with it much the same spirit of that movie, and its siblings as well as their great comeback effort, The Muppets, helped along by the presence of James Bobbin as director and Flight of the Conchords songwriter Bret McKenzie who penned the Oscar-winning song “Man or Muppet?” from The Muppets.

Alas we don’t have star and massive Muppets fan Jason Segel along for the ride, nor Amy Adams as his delightful love interest, but we do have Ricky Gervais as Constantine’s evil sidekick (every cartoon-ish bad guy needs one), 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey as a Russian guard and Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell as an Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (MR Dunphy with a French accent? Yes please!), who will no doubt play the part of trusty ally to our intrepid and much loved Muppets.

And with a no doubt cracklingly good script by Bobin and Nicholas Stoller, who wrote the screenplay for The Five-Year Engagement, we will have a movie everyone will love as Bobin enthusiastically predicted in this statement from the official press release.

“It’s great to be back working with the Muppets. Some of them even remember my name occasionally now. As for the movie, it’s a tip of the hat to the old-school crime capers of the ’60s, but featuring a frog, a pig, a bear and a dog – no panthers, even pink ones – along with the usual Muppet-y mix of mayhem, music and laughs.”

 

Miss Piggy and Kermit star in the upcoming destined-to-be-a-classic film “The Muppets Again” (image via hollywoodreporter.com)

 

With the promise of some “surprising celebrity cameos”, The Muppets … Again! is due for release on March 21, 2014 with filming already underway, according to the press release, “in London and in Hollywood, as well as in the famed Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, just outside of London.”

All of that wonderful news already has me humming …

“It’s time to play the music
It’s time to light the lights
It’s time to meet the Muppets …”

And I daresay I will be singing it all the way till March next year.

 

First impressions: “The Mindy Project”

(image via lipmag.com)

 

One of the great drawbacks about living in Australia – next to, of course, the great many advantages (he says patriotically while balancing on a wombat and holding a stubby of beer) – is that some TV shows take quite a while to reach our shores.

While this can work to our benefit at times – we don’t waste time getting invested in shows that die quickly such as Pan Am or Last Resort since by the time they reach us they are already cancelled or on life support – it also means that we spend months reading about fun or creatively rich TV shows without seeing a second of footage.

This dynamic has been ameliorated somewhat in recent years by the fast tracking of shows, primarily by cable TV, which can have much-awaited TV series on our screens in as little as 36 hours after the US screening (The Walking Dead being a case in point).

 

The full cast of “The Mindy Project” (image via the saint-online.com)

 

But for reasons known only to the TV gods, The Mindy Project, which thankfully is doing reasonably well in its time slot (though it hardly be classed as a runaway hit) in the USA, wasn’t afforded such a speedy trip on our screens and only made its debut last night.

And for the most part it was worth the wait.

The brainchild of Mindy Kaling, who has found fame, and possibly fortune (a question for her accountant should I ever meet him or her) in recent years, through her appearance as Kelly Kapoor in the US version of The Office, and her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, the less-than-imaginatively named sitcom shows a great deal of promise with a well-put together pilot episode that does an effective job of introducing us to the premise, and characters and even providing more than the usual quota of first show laughs in the process.

 

(image via uwire.com)

 

(I find very few sitcom pilots generally lead to an avalanche of guffaws since they are mainly concerned, and rightly so with setting up the premise and introducing us to the characters so that bounteous laughs may be had, hopefully from, episode two.)

Revolving around a rather socially and romantically hapless ob/gyn called, wait for it, Mindy, who has a lifelong love of romantic comedies, and a rather unfortunate tendency to see life through the rose-coloured lens of these movies.

It leads her into a doomed relationship with a doctor at the hospital which ends when he falls for the woman who sells bagels in the hospital lobby and has more child-bearing years ahead of her than Mindy (a sore point for her as a single woman of 31) and at whose wedding this accomplished young professional woman, with a soft heart who takes on more uninsured cases than she can afford, delivers a spectacularly inappropriately speech to the bride and groom, while still possessing the nous to grab a full magnum of champagne as she makes her dramatic exit.

 

In full wedding speech mode (image via blog.zap2it.com)

 

Unfortunately whatever glory she seized for herself with her defiant “f**k you” speech to her former fiance, is literally and figuratively diluted, when she loses control of the bicycle on which she makes her getaway, green-sequined dress and all, and plunges into suburbanite’s swimming pool where she has a surreal and rather testy conversation with a child’s Barbie doll about the less-than-perfect state of her life.

Resolving to improve her life – which includes taking on more insured patients, dressing better for first dates (with the unasked for help of her male colleague, and I would suspect figure of series-long URST – Unresolved Sexual Tension for those not acronym-inclined, Dan Castellano played by Chris Messina) whose advice she publicly spurns but privately embraces; much to her chagrin he catches her in the lift on the way to her date and discovers she has changed outfits), and not continuing her on again/off again f**k buddy relationship with her good-looking but shallow English colleague, Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks).

 

 

Of course none of that quite goes to plan, encountering the fate of many iron clad resolutions made in crisis, but she finishes the episode convinced that the days ahead will be far better than the days leading up to her wedding-induced meltdown.

Being a sitcom naturally, it is to be hoped that this fervent half-glass-full self belief will be proved wrong again and again and that she will have far more steps back than successful steps forward, hopefully accompanied by far too many poor drinking and romantic companion choices.

While the ditzy unlucky-in-love femme fatale is not exactly a wildly original trope in sitcoms, and its use has led to allegations that The Mindy Project and its network comedy mate, New Girl, are slapping feminism in the face with every joke they make, the fact is that many professionally people, regardless of their sex, don’t always manage to be as successful in love as they are in their profession of choice.

And frankly this disparity is funny, very funny, and The Mindy Project looks like it aims to make much use of it, and use it well.

 

(image via thetvwatercooler.wordpress.com)

 

While I am not yet entirely convinced that Mindy is a likeable enough character to hold my interest over the longterm, or that the relationships with her colleagues and even her best friend aren’t more adversarial than appealing, or that it can make proper use of the deliciously off-the-wall jokes that promise much but deliver little (this could be the fault of simply trying to cram too many jokes and set ups into one pilot episode which is hardly an indictable offence), the show holds enough comedic potential and appeal to keep me watching to see if there is a guffaw-rich payoff down the episodic road.

After all, many shows I’ve watched like New Girl, Fringe and Stargate SG1 have started off slowly and grown into very fine shows indeed so I will place my faith (for now at least) in the comic abilities of the talented Mindy Kaling and the talented team of actors and writers she has assembled and pray that Mindy doesn’t get her life together for some time yet.

 

 

Movies in a hurry! Movie pictograms from H57

E.T. (image via mymodernmet.com)

 

My lord there are some enormously creative, visionary people out there!

Take Gianmarco Milesi and Matteo Civaschi from design studio H57 in Milan, Italy and the authors of lifeinfiveseconds) who have gained themselves quite a following with their imaginative Star Wars typography posters.

I discovered their work on the amazing site mymodernmet.com which is where, in their own words, “where art enthusiasts and trendspotters connect over creative ideas.”

You have to check out the site for all manner of wonderful things that will enthrall and beguile you.

What grabbed my attention though was these amazing movie posters which distill movies down to their basic story lines with an elegance and simplicity, and more than little humour which was the intention as Matteo Civaschi told mymodernmet.com:

“Squeezing all of these things into a few icons is fun. In the case of particularly long movies or sagas (like The Lord of the Rings), the final result is even funnier.”

Hope you enjoy these posters and seeing your favourite movies in a totally different light.

 

Lord of the Rings (image via mymodernmet.com)

 

The Matrix (image via mymodernmet.com)

 

Sneak Peek: Steven Moffat spills on what’s up next for “Dr Who”

(image via doctorwhotv.co.uk)

 

Ah March 30 2013, you seem so far away.

After having my Dr Who yearnings satisfied by the Christmas special, “The Snowmen” with its sentient snow, disgruntled Time Lord and overly curious nanny, I am once again staring down the barrel of months of no TARDIS-driven grand adventures in time and space.

But fear not Andrew! (Yes I am addressing myself in third person which, my therapist assures me is totally normal … totally normal … really.)

In a semi-revealing interview with the good people at sfx.co.uk – understandably you can’t have too many spoilers or all the suspense, the LOOOONG hours of suspense between now and April, will be diminished somewhat – promised eight stand alone episodes with no cliffhanger-laden two parters causing us angst.

In keeping with the fact that second half of the seventh season of Dr Who premieres pretty much in line with the venerable franchise’s 50th anniversary, the episodes are all being billed as “huge”, and very much in keeping with the new cinematic sensibilities the show now wears with pride (complete withy cinema-worthy posters, no less for each episode).

 

The Cybermen return in episode 712, “The Last Cyberman”, looking a little different (apparently they’ve been re-designed somewhat) but just as scary (image via doctorwhotv.co.uk)

 

As far as story lines go, there’s a whole of very creative genre-hopping going on as Steve Moffat explained at sfx.co.uk:

“We have Doctor Who taking on the modern urban thriller, which is not very much like anyone else’s modern urban thriller!

“We’ve got your base-under-siege story in a new way.

“We’ve gone all-out to give you a fantastic alien planet, which is looking absolutely amazing.

“We’ve got a cracking ghost story, a really cracking ghost story.”

 

And there is the promise of a rip-roaring action-packed finale with everything but the galactic kitchen sink in it!

Yes it’s a while till April but sounds like it will be well and truly worth the wait.

* You can get running updates on the episodes and rumoured story lines at doctor whotv.co.uk.

And finally the trailer for part 2. I did feature in my “The Snowmen” review but it’s so much fun to watch that I have included it again!

 

Movie review: “Zero Dark Thirty”

(image via impawards.com)

 

Zero Dark Thirty, Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow’s first movie since the much-acclaimed Hurt Locker (2009), is in many ways a very brave movie.

In an era where fact is often obscured by rabidly-argued opinion, and everyone seems to have fractured into tribalised camps sniping and trolling each other with vengeful alacrity from behind fortified positions, it dares to tell the story of the CIA’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden in the aftermath of the horrific, and era-defining events of 9/11, and the terrorist attacks that followed it over the subsequent decade.

For its trouble, of course, it has attracted a firestorm of stinging criticism, primarily that it glorifies torture, overplaying its dubious effectiveness as a means of information gathering, while at the same time propagating still further the line peddled by the so-called right wing “Hawks” in the American establishment that these and other measures not usually employed (at least publicly) by Western democracies were necessary if the USA and its allies were to adequately respond to the hit-and-run attacked by their elusive new enemy, Al-Qaeda.

 

The symbolism in “Zero Dark Thirty” is potent. Here Jessica Chastain who stars as the hero of the hour (or rather decade) CIA operative, Maya stands next to an American flag during a briefing at CIA HQ (image via psmag.com)

 

Regardless of the veracity of these claims, and frankly Zero Dark Thirty does not at any time come across as a tub-thumping ode to American might and power – if anything it underscores how much on the back foot the USA was for much of the decade that followed the start of the “War on terror” – Kathryn Bigelow and the team behind this movie were never going to emerge controversy-free from addressing a story as recent and incendiary, not to mention, loaded with political and emotional baggage, as this one.

It is as controversial a tale as they come.

Commencing with a dark image-free screen, and eerie goose bump-inducing replays of the frantic calls to emergency services in New York City in the minutes and hours following the attacks on the World Trade Centre, Zero Dark Thirty almost immediately finds itself in hot water.

And not, I believe, out of any cheap and tawdry attempt to generate controversy for the sake of it.

 

The CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, Joseph Bradley (Kyle Chandler) and Dan (Jason Clarke) discuss tactics in the relative safety of the US Embassy (Image via aceshowbiz.com)

 

Rather the scenes of matter-of-fact torture by CIA operative Dan (Jason Clarke) that follow this sombre opening, at one of the organisation’s notorious Black Sites, so named because they were off-the-grid locations used to prosecute underground projects sanctioned by the US Government, were part of the tactics employed routinely during this period.

Not to have included them would have smacked of whitewashing and the gutting of history, and they had to be included in the recounting of the history of this period if the movie was to be even remotely accurate.

Of course they are harrowing, uncomfortable scenes to watch, but rather than glorifying torture, the scenes very quickly make it clear that this type of ill-human tactic meted out on detainees was of dubious value as no one could be sure that what they were being told by people anxious to avoid being stripped naked, or locked in small boxes for days on end without food or water or sleep, was in any way true.

Time and again prisoners contradict each other in a desperate attempt to avoid humiliation and pain, and even when their stories do corroborate, it becomes hard to separate fact from fiction in the hazy world of this war, which is unlike any before it.

 

Finding an enemy who is perfectly adept at hiding proves to be a major challenge for the CIA team pursuing it (image via awardsdaily.com)

 

Granted there is no explicit condemnation of torture by any of the characters and even Maya (Jessica Chastain) who watches on shocked the first time she witnesses a prisoner being tortured, employs the tactic with enthusiasm as the movie goes on, but you don’t one when showing these scenes essentially means the use of torture indicts itself.

Bigelow’s willingness to include well-documented but controversial elements of the hunt for Bin Laden is symptomatic of a movie that pulls no punches.

Throughout the recounting of the decade-long, and often fruitless, attempt to find Bin Laden and enact not so much justice as plain good old-fashioned revenge, the filmmaker doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is.

 

Jessica Chastain as Maya is the beating heart of the story of “Zero Dark Thirty” (image via showbiz411.com)

 

Of course, there are many who allege that she is doing nothing of the kind, and that the “based on actual events” tag line that accompanies Zero Dark Thirty and movies like it that purport to document historical events such as Argo, is worth little given that so much of the narrative has been made up for the sole purpose of creating a gripping drama.

But the fact it, Hollywood should never be relied upon as a history teacher, and while I understand the argument that people will walk away thinking this is exactly how this chapter in American history actually played out, and thus movie makers have a responsibility to be as faithful to the actual events as possible, the reality is some allowances must be made when you’re trying to tell a story like this.

Having said that, the drama that results is, much of the same, rather anti-climactic and lacking in rigour and verve.

Understandably relating events in a linear way, the movie moves from 2001 through the bombings and attacks in Khobar, Saudi Arabia (2004), the London bombings (2007), and even the tragic events at Camp Chapman in Afghanistan in 2009, and all the one-step forward, and 10-steps-back in the CIA’s stop-start attempts to find and apprehend Bin Laden, since they build up a picture of the mammoth efforts taken to blunt the power of the Al-Qaeda machine.

 

Joel Edgerton who plays Patrick, the Red Squadron Leader, is one of the commandos who storms the compound in Abbottabad in what is a very slickly executed sequence (image via filmofilia.com)

 

Unfortunately this results in a rather lacklustre forward narrative, and coupled with some rather one-note characterisation – Maya is the only character who develops any real complexity and even she is never really presented as a fully-formed human being – and perfunctory relationships between all the major characters which lack any real sense of connection, means that by the time you reach the admittedly well done final part of the movie when the Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, you are left feeling like a detached observer rather than intricately involved in the action.

And that’s a pity because the story the movie tells is a gripping one and should have had you sitting on the edge of your seat throughout.

 

With Osama Bin Laden dead, and the project that consumed her every waking hour for a decade complete, Maya finds herself in that bittersweet place where success and a sense of loss of purpose co-mingle (image via theatlantic.com)

 

It is not though a bad movie, and I found myself drawn into the world it detailed sufficiently that I enjoyed the movie, but it does suffer from a limp narrative, and a general dramatic listlessness which detracts somewhat from the fine performances  throughout, especially by Jessica Chastain who thoroughly deserved her Oscar nomination.

Zero Dark Thirty is certainly worth your time as a dramatic experience, but I still can’t help but feel that it’s main problem is not so much the alleged controversial subject matter so much as the way it has been presented, and that it could have been so much more.

A little extra dramatic spark, tighter storytelling and attention to characterisation would have made all the difference and made this as memorable a movie as Hurt Locker before it.

 

 

Sneak peek: “Trance” movie trailer + poster

(image via hypable.com)

 

Anyone fancy a trippy rummage around James McAvoy’s mind?

Yes? (As if you wouldn’t want to!)

Well then you’re in luck!

The handsome actor, who surely must have a brain worth poking around in, is starring in Danny Boyle’s new trippy psychological thriller, Trance, as Simon, a fine art auctioneer who, after engineering the theft of a priceless Goya painting from an art auction, suffers a violent knock on the head by underworld boss Franck (Vincent Cassel) and promptly forgets where he stashed the purloined artwork.

Despite constant threats from Franck and the gang, he sticks to the line that he has amnesia – I suspect he may simply be conveniently using the attack to keep the art for himself by faking memory loss but part of the mystery, of course, is whether he does or doesn’t really recall the painting’s location – f0rcing Frank to bring in a charismatic hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to do the aforementioned brian rummaging so he can finally get his hands on the stolen artwork.

Naturally enough, extracting the required information isn’t as easy as everyone assumed, as this extract from the film’s plot summary makes abundantly clear:

“… as they journey deeper into Simon’s jumbled psyche the boundaries between reality and hypnotic suggestion begin to blur and the stakes rise faster and far more dangerously than any of the players could have anticipated.” (hypable.com)

 

James McAvoy as art auctioneer Simon may or may not remember where he stashed some stolen artwork (image via upcoming-movies.com)

 

Trance certainly promises to be a very different type of thriller than the usual fare, especially with its Inception-esque overtones, and that’s exactly what Danny Boyle, director/producer of Transpotting, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire, among others, was aiming for as he told USA Today:

“It begins like that [an old-fashioned conventional caper film]. But it takes the idea of a stolen painting and develops into something sleeker and more psychological, with twists and turns.”

He goes on to say:

“I wanted to do an updated noir, give it a contemporary spin in terms of emotion. Noir is usually cold. I wanted it to be more emotionally charged.”

 

 

It certainly sounds like something out of the box and well worth waiting for.

The movie opens on March 27 in the UK, with international dates to follow.

In the meantime, I will be with James McAvoy helping him to, you know, remember

“Haven” : Normal has left the building

(image via redcarpetcrash.com)

 

Right.

So let’s say your housemate/husband/wife/erudite pet has been watching a show for 3 seasons and while you have caught glimpses here and there, you haven’t had time to stop and watch an episode due to life being crazy/more TV shows that you know what to do with / your shock at having a pet who watches and appreciate good television.

And finally one night when you can’t be bothered cracking open the novel you’re reading or starting on the box set of Bored to Death (which by the way I desperately want to watch when I can lazily watch episode after episode till my eyes bleed and my sides split from endless laughter … and when of course I have time to get to the emergency ward of the local hospital), you sit down and finally take in an episode of the show … from season 3.

Yes season 3 people.

As in many episodes down the track from the pilot which is where, traditionally, most folks, accustomed as they are to linear experiences of things, start their viewing journeys.

 

The three main cast members of “Haven” (L-R) – Lucas Bryant as Nathan Wuornos of Haven PD, Emily Rose as Audrey Parker, ex-FBI agent and Eric Balfour as Duke Crocker, town smuggler (image via tibisiris.blogspot.com)

 

But, as I have realised time and again, I am not most people (which may or may not be a good thing) and so as my housemate settled in for episode 7 of Haven season 3 the other night, I hung around and watched it with him.

And then because it was part 1 of a two-parter titled “Magic Hour”, I stuck around and watch part 2, and then naturally the episode that followed, “Sarah” because by then, in the space of two episodes nowhere near the start of the show, I had fallen in love with this quirky town and it’s troubled but engaging inhabitants.

And that, my friends, says about much about the quality of the writing, acting and storytelling of this unique syfy series.

Loosely based on a Stephen King novella called The Colorado Kid, and possessing much of the eerie mythos that populates this talented writer’s work (it regularly weaves references to his writing into episodes), Haven is a town populated by people with supernatural abilities referred to as the Troubles and their fellows townspeople who have sworn to ensure these accursed folks cause no harm to others.

Into this decidedly unusual town, where the dead can come back to life, and you can send someone travelling through time at the flick of a hand – beats stringing a whole lot of wires and tin cans together any day – walks ex-FBI agent Audrey Walker (Emily Rose) who discovers that there is more to her life, and those of the people she meets in the town, that she could ever have guessed.

 

Another day, another weird death that doesn’t subscribe to the usual norms (image via fandomania.com)

 

Naturally enough I am so completely hooked now that I shall have to find time – 3a.m. next Thursday is looking good right at this point – to start watching all the episodes I have missed, and loathe though I am to subscribe to societal norms, it is highly I will start with, yes, the pilot.

I know.

I am freakin’ renegade.

* Haven has been renewed for a fourth 13 episode season which kicks off sometime this year.

 

 

Music review: “A is for Alpine” – Alpine

Alpine (image via theaureview.com)

 

I love accidental discoveries.

The joy of finding something utterly unexpected when you’re digging around for something else entirely, or perhaps not even looking for anything at all, is what keeps life interesting and elevates unremarkable moments into the pantheon of memorable points in time.

And so it was with up-and-coming – or its highly unlikely given the buzz they’re generating, already here – Melbourne band, Alpine, comprised of co-lead singers Lou James and Phoebe Baker, and Christian O’Brien (guitar), Ryan Lamb (bass), Tim Royall (keys) and Phil Tucker (drums), who’ve been around since 2009, who somehow snuck on to my iTunes suggestion list when I purchased the song “On Your Side” by New Gods.

Always intrigued by what constitutes “something you might like to listen to” by the algorithm that governs iTunes song suggestions (ah yes the words “algorithm” and “art” go so well together don’t they? Yep like “rose” and “truck” really) , I let curiosity carry me forward and clicked on the Alpine link and was immediately entranced by music so melodic and richly harmonious that the decision to buy the entire album took about 4.5 nanoseconds.

 

The creative, soothing green of the album cover, “A is for Alpine” (image via israbox.com)

 

I am not entirely sure how I managed to miss news of the band, whose debut album A is For Alpine zoomed straight to number on the Australian iTunes chart when it was released in August 2012 – it also managed a very respectable 11 on the ARIA chart – but frankly at that point I didn’t care.

For after months of wondering when a new artist would come along that would truly sweep off my feet (much like Coldplay, Royksopp, MNDR and Regina Spector once did), here was a group of people channelling music so extravagantly melodious and beautiful, with some delightfully intriguing alternative pop flourishes that elevated it well above any easy listening music comparisons, that I had to listen to as many tracks as I could before sleep claimed me.

Usually I simply download, and sample the album or albums the next morning on my morning commute but there was something compelling about this band’s music that demanded it be listened to there and then.

 

(image via air.org.au)

 

And clearly I am not alone since given the chart success so far, which has delighted the band no end as this quote from Lou James, taken from an article on the musicians by Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury, attests:

“I was just hoping it might possibly get in the charts, so reaching number one on iTunes was just mind-blowing and so surreal.

“And number 11 on the ARIA chart still thrills me, because we don’t get played on mainstream radio or anything like that. We were ahead of Adele and other huge artists, and that really blew my mind.

“To think that people are intrigued by the sounds we’re making and enjoy them, makes me so happy.”

What makes Alpine so listenable is the fact that their melodies meld seamlessly with their harmonies, surprising and delighting with unexpected twists and turns, with lyrics as poetic and evocative as their music is beguiling.

It is rich, intelligent and impossibly gorgeous music that transports you far away from the banalities of life and to a rare and beautiful place that I pretty much plan on making my second home.

One listen and there’s a good chance you’ll be making moving plans too.

 

 

 

Phoenix rise with new album “Bankrupt!”

Phoenix (image via factmag.com)

 

One of my favourite bands in the entire world – it could be the universe but having failed to leave orbit, I can testify to the complete veracity of that claim; although as a child, I had no such reticence, and proclaimed everything to be “the best in the universe” – French alternative rock band, Phoenix, have announced the name of their new album, due in April this year on Glassnote Records (also home to Mumford and Sons).

It will be called Bankrupt! and comes complete with a vibrant flashing announcement on their website that, in all seriousness, comes with a warning that it may induce epilepsy.

Eye-searing colours and movement aside, the announcement on their site comes complete with a 54 second snippet of music that may or may be from a song on the album.

It could simply be some creative doodling, and even if that’s all it is, it is damn creative doodling and whets my appetite for the album to come.

 

(image via spin.com)

 

The follow up to 2009’s critically and commercially well-received Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it is being talked by Glassnote’s label head Daniel Glass, who is quoted on Billboard as saying:

“It’s very hard to beat Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but this could be revolutionary.”

It is hard to imagine the talented threesome of Thomas Mars, Deck d’Arcy, Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz coming up with anything less than revolutionary and it’s a fair bet I will have this album on high rotation through most of April.

iPod – you have been warned.