A stand-up comedian is mostly his or her own writer, director and star performer. Unlike any other art form, there is no safety net and no private rehearsal. In its singular realisation, stand-up comedy only works live on a stage – in front of often-hostile audiences. For most people baring their soul and being heckled would be a life-changing trauma, for stand-ups it’s a nightly hazard.
The very idea of standing on a stage in front of strangers and trying to make them laugh, fills me with utter dread. I imagine it’s the same for most people, and is most likely reason the subject stand-up comedy is so fascinating and rife for a documentary.
Dying laughing is a British produced documentarty, about the life of a stand-up comic and although it sometimes treads familar territory-the loneliness of the road, the anguish of your set dying etc, directors Paul Toogood & Lloyd Stanton achieve a startling level of intimacy in a series of riveting interviews with the masters of comedy. What follows is an in-depth discussion about the emotional andpsychological highs and lows of life on the road.
Dying laughing is an emotional rollercoaster, which fully encapsulates the life of a performer. Chris Rock says comedians are “the last philosophers.” and, to a certain extent, he’s right. We follow this trend, with some of the most loved and respected comedians, whom speak candidly about their loves, their peevs and ultimately, their lust for being a stand-up comedian.
The film can feel a little self-indulgent at times, however that just adds to its charm. At no point do you want the interviews to stop. This is a great film, that gives an insight into the psyche of a wordsmith.
One of the most interesting character’s in Doctor Who’s history is, Captain Jack Harkness. The con man-come immortal-time traveling adventurer, with a wink and a swagger.
Altough we got to see more of the character in Torchwood, I’d always wanted a Captain Jack spin-off. I wanted to know what happened after The Doctor and Rose left him. Finally, Big Finish have answered that question.
The Year After I Died by Guy Adams.
As the title suggests, this story takes place a year after ‘The Parting of the Ways’. We’re presented with a very different Jack, he’s tortued, trying to lead a quiet life, he’s living alone and has shun human contact. He’s also trying to figure out how he survived the Dalek attack and why The Doctor and Rose abandoned him.
His quiet life is turned upside down when a young reporter named Silo Crook (Shvorne Marks) comes investigating, he again finds himself tasked with saving humanity.
‘The Year After I Died’works extremely well as a direct sequel to ‘The Parting of Ways’. It builds on the story told in the series 1 finale, but doesn’t fall into to the sequel trap of telling the same story. As far as opening stories go, this is a great installment. John Barrowman shins in this, delivering the most subjude/reluctant version of captain Jack we’ve ever seen. This is a very well-written story, with great performances. I would like to see more set in this timeline.
Wednesday’s for Beginners by James Goss.
After reprising her role as Jackie Tyler for ‘The Ninth Doctor Chronicles’, Camille Codouri returns as everyone’s favourie mum.
The first 15 minutes focus on Jackie Tyler, as she pushes the story forward with monologue. We learn what happens when Rose is away and we experience the true pain and lonliness she feels, it’s heart breaking.
Soon after, she meets her “handsome American stalker” (Captain Jack) and the story really kicks into gear.
Jackie and Jack make a great duo, Barrowman and Coduri have chemistry to spare and clearly had a blast recording this. Fun and flirtacious inuendo are a bounded around and it’s an absolute joy to listen to.
Jackie’s feeling of isolation and loneliness really resonates and is perfectally juxtaposed with the adventure angle.
Deep down, this is a fun adventure that will have you howling with laughter.
One Enchanted Evening by James Goss.
This story takes place mere minutes after the Doctor leaves Jack in the bar in ‘The End of Time’.
It turns out the Tenth Doctor wasn’t just trying to get the pair laid, he had an ulterior motive.
Jack and Alonso are both in dark places, Jack had just murdered his grandson, Steven, to save man kind and obviously feels a lot of guilt. Alonso had just walked off the Titanic, a broken man. Feeling he should have been braver, more like The Doctor.
The pair bond over the course of an hour, as they work to save a spaceship from being destroyed. The villain is voiced by Katy Manning, whois camping it up no end and clearly having the time of her life.
Although the villain feels very generic, character wise this is the best in the box set. Captain Jack and Midshipman Frame both help each other exorcise their demons.
This is a character driven story, that allows both characters the redemption they feel they need.
Month 25 by Guy Adams.
This is the story we’ve spent 12 years waiting for. When we were first introduced to Captain Jack (12 years ago!) we learned he was a former time agent, with two years of his memory missing. Now, we’re finally getting some answers. We even learn his real name..
I’m a long time fan of Guy Adam’s work with Big Finish, but this could well be his best story. It’s gripping spy/conspiracy drama, that some how manages to be laugh out loud funny. This is well-written and well acted. Barrowman perfectly manages to speak the way we imagine a twenty-something Captain Jack would speak.
‘The Lives of Captain Jack’ is a remarkable set, which I highly recommend. John Barrowman delivers some absolutely stunning performances.
James Goss and Guy Adams have managed to take such a well-known character and find new ways to make him to grow and mature, as well as answering questions fans have had for well over a decade.
It’s a must have box set, let’s hope this becomes an annual release. Maybe Jack could even meet a certain Professor Song…
Your opinion on John Wick: Chapter 2, will depend entirely on what you enjoyed about the original.
If you loved the simplistic nature of the storyline, then you may be a little disappointed with this outing. However, if you loved the world building that took place in the first movie. I think you’ll love this.
The first film can be explained in a lift, one week after his wife dies of cancer, a retired hit man is randomly targeted by the son of Russian gangster-which results in the death of John Wick’s dog and the theft of his vintage mustang. Grief-stricken and angry, he seeks revenge.
John Wick: Chapter 2, is a little harder to summarise, it’s essentially a film of four parts.
Part one picks up a few days after the events of John Wick. Wick is clearing up his unfinished business with the Russian mob. He wants his beloved 1969 Mustang returned to him. He faces off against Peter Stormare, as the brother of Viggo (the mob boss from the first film).
Part two: The next morning Wick is visited by Italian mobster, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who presents him with a “marker” from a previous debt. His mission is to assassinate D’Antonio’s sister.
Part three: The sister is protected by probably the only man who could be considered John Wick’s equal, Cassian (Common).
Part four: After completing his mission, Wick is double-crossed by D’Antonio; who puts out a contract on him, worth $7 million. He’s now targeted by Cassian and every other assassin in New York.
Winston (Ian McShane) has a bigger role, as the operator of “The Continental” a luxury hotel that is a safe haven for people who would otherwise be killing.
Reeves and Common both have a burning commitment to their roles. The martial arts choreography is a sight to behold. They also share a number of incredibly humorous scenes, one of which involves both men discreetly trying to shoot each other, with silencers across a busy New York subway station.
Everyone involved in the film gets how absurd it is. But they fully commit and take it seriously. Many of the people involved in this project, also worked on The Matrix and that visual style and chorography shows. The audience is encouraged to laugh at its excesses.
It does what any decent sequel should, it justifies its reason for being and, expands on the established mythology.
It plays to Reeves’ strengths. He may be an actor of limited range, but when you need a moody good-looking action hero, there’s few better.
Forget Neo, forget Ted. Keanu Reeves will forever and always be John Wick.
John Wick:Chapter Two is out in the UK 17th February 2017.
In 1999, The Blair Witch Project shook Hollywood to its very core, two young filmmakers managed to break new ground and breathe life into the found footage sub-genre. As well as breaking box office records, it was the first movie to realise the true potential of Internet marketing.
Like with most franchises that have a dud sequel, Blair Witch pretends Book of Shadows never happened and serves as a direct sequel to the original.
The new film focuses on James (James Allen McCune) who happens to be the younger brother of, Heather, who disappeared in the first film. James and his film student girlfriend Lisa (Callie Hernandez) find a video on the internet, which convinces James that even after twenty years, Heather may still be alive.
James decides that no matter how remote a chance, he has to take it. So he and Lisa, along with their friends Peter (Brandon Scott) and Ashley (Corbin Reid) head into the woods in Burkittsville, Maryland (formerly Blair), where they meet local odd-couple Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry), who posted the video online.
From there on in, the film is pretty much a rehash of all the things that made The Blair Witch Project so original. We get stick figures, piles of rocks, handprints and steady-cam POV footage of actors running through the woods, whilst screaming.
Back in ’99 this all felt fresh original, but now it’s been done to death. Apart from slightly expanding the mythology surrounding the stick figures, there’s nothing innovative here.
This feels less like a sequel and more like a modern day remake, the slow-burn of the original, along with rawness of the grainy footage has been replaced by quick glossy digital cuts. Nothing about this film feels found, it’s sleek and well-crafted, to maximise the profits from the YouTube generation.
The fact that James is Heather’s brother is entirely tangential and unnecessary.
I suppose in many ways, this film is poetic. The Blair Witch Project kick started the found footage sub-genre, it’s only fitting that Blair Witch is the final nail in its coffin.
Martyn and I attended the screening of Gladiator at The Royal Albert Hall. The event was electric, we had such a great time. Thanks to The Royal Albert Hall for the invite. Please check out the Vlog below,
For the past year Big Finish has released a number of audios connected to the modern series of Doctor Who, with the likes of Torchwood, The Churchill years , The War Doctor and The diaries of River Song. However, this is probably the most highly anticipated audio of 2016. Not only does it see the return of the extremely popular David Tennant, as the Tenth Doctor. It sees the return of fan favourite Catherine Tate, as Donna Noble. It also marks the first time Big Finish have been allowed to use a Doctor from ‘Nu-Who’.
Technophobia by Matt Fitton
It’s 2010 and The Doctor and Donna are in London to visit the Technology Museum. Things don’t go to plan and the TARDIS duo quickly find themselves in the thick of it.
Exhibits are attacking visitors, and people across London are running scared of technology. The most brilliant mind in the UK, can no longer work a pencil. Below the streets of London, the Koggnossenti are plotting and waiting, poised to attack.
Long-time Big Finish writer, Matt Fitton has done it again. This is another outstanding audio from him. It must have been a daunting prospect, to pen the first new story for Tennant and Tate, and he bought his A-game.
Of the three, this is the most remiescent of the Russell T Davies era. Technophobia has the essence, wit, style and emotional substance of Series 4. But rather than try to sound like an episode from that era, Big Finish have found a way to take everything that worked in 2008 and craft it into their own vision.
Fitton also manages to subvert the “technology going wrong” genre. You think the story is going one way, when it goes an unexpected route. This has engaging supporting characters, witty dialogue and a captivating story. Fitton perfectly manages to capture the relationship between the Doctor and Donna.
The Tenth Doctor Adventures can be purchased via Amazon.