Beyond Teen Movies

What’s a Geek to watch at the cinema as we approach the end of January? There’s actually a reason to turn off Netflix as we have this weekend’s ‘Ex_Machina’ (robot-lady ethical thriller penned by the excellent Alex Garland) prior to next weekend’s big Disney release ‘Big Hero 6′ (kinda-robot blow-up ‘healer’ thang develops friendship with young boy). I want them both, I want them now.

ex_machina big hero 6
But, oh, wait – what’s this?! If you’re a fan of teen movies (and who isn’t?!) then there’s one other film you HAVE to make time for this week or next.

‘Beyond Clueless’, a documentary by Charlie Lyne and narrated by Fairuza Balk (any ‘The Craft’ fans up in heya?!), documents the classic teen flicks of days gone by (the good, the bad, the cult and everything in between), recognising their place in pop culture and what they have to say about those brilliant/horrible years we’re all subjected to.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the weirdos who hang about on the fringes – everything from ‘Heathers’ and ‘Rushmore’ to ‘Donnie Darko’ and, of course, ‘The Breakfast Club’ – but I enjoy a mediocre teen flick generally as much as I’ll enjoy a fantastic entry in any other genre. And, as I get older, I still find enjoyment in the likes of ‘Mean Girls’, ‘Easy A’ and ‘Detention’, sharper and funnier than most comedies aimed at so-called adults.

‘Beyond Clueless’, with its equally enticing soundtrack from the undervalued (and John Hughes-indebted) Summer Camp, KNOWS that the teen movie is the underdog of the genre world – and this is its moment to shine at prom, taking the Homecoming title sans bucket o’ pig’s blood. Catch the trailer below then hunt down a screening, you Veronica you!

Happy Björk-day!

Those naughty hackers. Nowadays, a ‘leak’ isn’t necessarily a household disaster or an embarrassing bodily malfunction (Geek forbid!); nope, it’s just as likely to refer to the illegal file-sharing of new music from A-list artists, and not necessarily the intended final versions of the songs. Madonna found out the hard way when new tracks from this year’s  ‘Rebel Heart’ were first heard in demo form when she was the victim of one such leak late last year.

Björk Vulnicura
Sometimes though, despite the whole violation-of-the-artist thing, it does actually work out for music fans. Following pre-release circulation of songs from her new album ‘Vulnicura’, Björk today rush-released the album in its entirety on iTunes to beat the hackers at their own game – no doubt pleasing her legion of fans in the process. If the music is out there illegally, why prolong the wait for the genuine music lovers who still BUY the bloody stuff?

A ‘heartbreak’ album with the Icelandic singer’s usual sonic shape-shifting twist, ‘Vulnicura’ is one of the year’s must-listens. I know I’m off to iTunes right after I post this – you too?

Trailer Tuesday: Uncharted Tombs

Something a bit different this week (hey, the movies are getting enough hype in the run-up to the Oscars), and following yesterday’s promising Geek-nip in the form of new X-capades – but it’s not all about TV resurrections, because two of this boy’s favourite video game franchises are getting retooled and all next-gen shiny at the end of the year.

Yep, the original raider of tombs Lara Croft will be running, leaping, climbing and shooting her way through an Xbox One vs. PS4 battle with her younger, hairier successor Nathan Drake – who himself is not averse to a copious amount of running, leaping, climbing and shooting. But who to choose?

Of course, it’ll be both (bearing in mind I don’t own a single next-gen console yet, hmm) but this does feel more personal than most console clashes, primarily because these two series share so many gameplay elements and are both being released just before next Xmas. A whiff of Blur vs. Oasis, if you ask me. It’s a hard one to judge: ‘Uncharted’ has just got better, more ambitious and more fun with each entry and, following Naughty Dog’s awe-inspiring ‘The Last of Us’, it’s likely that ‘A Thief’s End’ (a true end for Drake?!) will be darker, unpredictable and more cinematic than ever; meanwhile, the stalwart ‘Tomb Raider’ series may have shown signs of having raided one too many tombs by the mid-2000s but a couple of recent strong entries, namely 2012’s spit-and-polish reboot, mean ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ could mean the girl comes out on top.

Both trailers suggest EPIC, with stirringly scored teaser trailers that manage to do what movie trailers no longer seem to want to do: tease! Although I grew up with Lara, my allegiance is currently with Drake, purely because of the odd decision by the developer (based on a new Microsoft partnership) to release the game exclusively on Xbox first of all, despite the character beginning life on PlayStation. My dutiful sense of nostalgia there, but then again I can understand the lack of business sense in releasing two action-adventure exclusives on the same machine, days apart – especially when both involve a hella lot of cave-ransackin’.

Either way, the two trailers have me starting my next-gen funds already. Which one is your winner?

VS.

Blue Monday, Little Green Men

Ah, January. Part of me feels you get a bad rap, part of me feels your detractors are fully justified in their hatred. Today is unofficially known as ‘Blue Monday’, the flip to Black Friday’s intoxicating blend of impulse sale buys and retail-based violence; what that means is we’re all poor, we’re all housebound, and we can’t see the impending summer through the SAD-inflicting pitch blackness of 2015’s cold snap start and bare, bare trees. Heck, if you were to look at this very blog, you’d guess Blue Monday got an early start, such is the lazy fugue state I’ve been occupying since the bell tolled midnight on Jan 1st. Write for pleasure? Pfft, there’s boxsets and leftover chocolates to gorge on. Chance is I might have been confused as one of these Smurf wannabes in the past coupla weeks.

blue myself january

But it’s not all bad. The Starks and co. would have you believe winter is coming (and that overblown fantasy saga happens to be back in April if that’s your bag o’ dragons) but the sun will shine on us once again. Case in point? On this very blue day, mere months after the Lynch legion were given an early Xmas prezzie in the shape of promised new ‘Twin Peaks’ episodes, Fox have confirmed they are intent on opening up ‘The X-Files’ once again.

mulder and scully

OMG!! That stands for Oh My Gillian btw, seeing as this tentative announcement is not merely pointing to a rebooted recast remake, but has creative minds hoping for a reunion between Duchovny and Anderson as the original. Now, the second movie in 2008 was lacklustre – and, before we start seeking the truth that is out there all over again, remember this is still rumour mill stage – but this could be up there with new ‘Jurassic Park’ and aforementioned ‘Twin Peaks’ (still never seen ‘Star Wars’ so can’t comment there) as a nostalgia nuke to get excited about. Push the button, Chris Carter and TV-land people!

All together now…

Christmas Campesinos!

Deck the halls, feed the world, and have yourself a merry little Christmas! Festive music runs the gamut from cheeseboard whiffy to just plain brilliant, so it’s always nice to sit down with a mince pie or five and listen to some new Crimbo choons – and hope for the best.

Thankfully, the new short-but-sweet EP from indie-pop folksters Los Campesinos! (aptly titled ‘A Los Campesinos! Christmas’) doesn’t outstay its welcome, filling your ears like an all-the-trimmings turkey dinner fills your belly on Christmas Day – only you won’t be so stuffed you’ll feel sick after.

Other than a tongue-in-cheek cover of ‘It’ll Be Lonely This Christmas’, the collection comprises five LC originals that put bells and whistles on the band’s usual blend of folk, indie rock and tantalisingly twee songwriting. The highlight is ‘Kindle a Flame in Her Heart’ which mixes a Pixies influence with ’90s grunge guitars, with a lovelorn chorus that captures the bittersweet hangover of Christmases past.

Check out my Los Campesinos! review.

Giveaway: Guardians of Christmas

It’s very likely on any self-respecting geek’s Christmas list already, but a festive treat is on its way to one lucky reader in the form of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. Whether you’re the only person not to have seen one of the biggest films of the year, or you just want to re-live the insanely idiosyncratic intergalactic adventure all over again, you may be interested to know I have one DVD copy of the Marvel blockbuster to give away this Christmas.

guardians of the galaxy

It’s very simple to be in with a chance of winning. All you have to do is the following:

1) Head over to Twitter during the festive period and follow @nicetogeekyou.

2) Retweet any one of the giveaway-related Tweets I’ll be sending out over the next few weeks before giveaway entry closes on 09/01/2015.

You KNOW you wanna see the New Year in by sticking on a DVD and enjoying the hi-jinx of a talking tree and wisecracks delivered by a renegade raccoon! So, what are you waiting for? Good luck.

Prize Giveaway Terms & Conditions
Prize giveaway open to anyone in the UK aged 18 or over. Entry closes 11:59pm on 09/01/2015. One winner will be chosen at random and notified shortly thereafter via Twitter, whereupon a postal address for delivery of prize will be requested. Entry method as described above: to be considered eligible, you must follow @nicetogeekyou on Twitter and have retweeted at least one of the daily @nicetogeekyou tweets promoting the giveaway. The prize is as stated, with no alternative offered unless the advertised prize becomes unavailable. If a response is not received from the selected winner within 7 days, that winner will effectively forfeit his/her prize and another winner will be selected in his/her place. Entry constitutes full and unconditional acceptance of these Terms & Conditions.

Trailer Tuesday: Apocalypse New

It’s not exactly festive unless you’re a massive horror fan (which I am, so ding dong merrily on high!) but this week’s slice of upcoming cinema is the final instalment to the bloody great ‘[REC]’ franchise.

Already a hit with gore hound critics at film fests this year, ‘REC 4: Apocalypse’ returns its focus to intrepid journalist Ángela who is very likely regretting entering that doomed apartment building in the first movie. The last time we saw her, she was possessed by the film’s Big Bad and intent on inciting the titular apocalypse. As the clip below suggests, an attempt to quarantine the demonic source of the evil relocates the action to a boat, no doubt as doomed as the apartment block and the previous film’s wedding setup – but therein lies the fun, as the futile bid to stop the spread of the virus results in lots of claret hitting the fan.

And it’s out January 2nd – Happy Friggin’ New Year!!! :-)

Albums of 2014

So, if you’re anything like me, you will have asked Santa to bring you lots of CDs (or iTunes vouchers, you modern maniac) in order to catch up on the year’s best music. Despite trying my hardest, there are a fair few critically lauded long-players that have managed to slip me by, so come Boxing Day I’ll be playing catch-up living inside my Sennheisers.

With just over a week to go until the big day, there’s time to get your orders in if you too are looking for some much-needed new music. In need of inspiration? Here’s one Geek’s choice playlist for the year, covering everything from skewed indie rock (alt-J, Jack White), sumptuous songwriters (Perfume Genius, Tori Amos, Owen Pallett) and lovely ladies (Lana, Lykke and Jenny Lewis).

There’s something here for everyone, and all of it is pretty damn awesome. Happy listening!

2014 music