• GREAT MOVIES: Best in Show (2000)

    Best in Show is, by a slender margin, the best of Christopher Guest's 'mockumentaries'. It brings together most of his legendary comic ensemble (Harry Shearer is a notable absentee), and had them firing on absolutely all cylinders. If the end result isn't quite the funniest film ever made, it is nonetheless one of the most ridiculously amusing things you will ever see in your life.

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  • SUPERHERO MOVIES: Good, Bad & Elektra

    In this episode: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

    For Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon had a pretty straightforward brief: simply come up with a worthy successor to one of the most successful movies of all time, whilst simultaneously setting up an entire cycle of new Marvel films. Oh, and expand the Avengers' ranks whilst keeping the established characters (and actors) in the limelight. That he succeeded with such apparent effortlessness shows just how skilled a film-maker Mr Whedon can be.

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  • STRATOS 4: Star Wrekkin'

    As you may know if you've visited this blog, like, ever, my absolute numero uno amine is Strike Witches (q.v. all over the shop). I didn't believe such a bizarre concept as Strike Witches could have been arrived at spontaneously, so I've sort of been looking for likely antecedents, and I think I may have found one in Stratos 4. Certainly, when it comes to mashing together disparate elements, Stratos 4 is right up there with the best of them. And yet, curiously, the show doesn't really do anything to separate itself from the pack.

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  • SNAP BOOK REVIEW: 'Lullabies for Little Criminals' by Heather O'Neill

    In recent times there has been a voyeuristic sub-genre of confessionals from people who've had really shitty lives. Dave Pelzer's A Boy Called It was the prototype, ushering in a vast array of biographies from those abused by parents and pimps, priests and politicians; exacting literary retribution with the help of a small army of ghostwriters. Lullabies for Little Criminals is a fictionalised, though no less authentic, contribution which at least attempts to put a new spin on what is an increasingly predictable set of traumas.

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  • OBVIOUS BIRDS #71: Little Owl (Athene noctua)

    The Little Owl is such a familiar feature of our countryside that it comes as something of a shock to learn that it is not native to Britain. It was in fact introduced during the Victorian Era, which makes it at once historically remote from our current age, but also a disconcertingly recent interloper.

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