Thursday, 25 November 2010

Reviews: BLACK DEATH (2010)

I’m not gay or anything, but if Sean Bean ever came up to me and said ‘Hey Laurence, you wanna do it?”, well I would have dropped my trousers and jumped on the bed before you could say ‘Major Sharpe’.

Having said this you could probably guess that I’m something of a fan of Sean Bean, and in one of his most recent films the big, chisel-featured, blonde-haired Yorkshireman once more manages to pull off an epic performance in a film which for all we know could have been about one of his ancestors. The film ‘Black Death’ takes places in England during the afore mentioned plague and tells the story of a young monk who goes in search of his lover whilst escorting the duke of manliness to a village that, through some means, has escaped the wrath of the plague that’s becoming more of a nuisance than Chavs with access to air-horns. Sean Bean features as the captain of a band of religious zealots armed with swords, axes and the medieval equivalent of the Batmobile, whose mission is to find the village and hunt down the 14th Century representation of Lord Voldemort, on the basis that the cunt exists.

Despite the front cover of the DVD (I didn’t get to see it in the cinema because as far as I’m aware it was only on for about two seconds before the DVD release), Sean Bean’s character Ulric takes a secondary role to that played by Eddie Redmayne, that of Osmund, who’s faith through being a monk is tested to the ultimate limit and eventually corrupted through the actions of the antagonist, a witch called Langiva (played by Carice von Houten). The storyline was gripping and the acting was superb, with every actor giving their characters distinct personalities whilst retaining the same kind of grit and ultra-manly fight scenes that Sean Bean practically created (despite the fact that there’s only really one and a bit).

Overall I must say I enjoyed BLACK DEATH. Christopher Smith very kindly gave us a dark, haunting film with captivating performances from both the actors and the stunt doubles (not that Sean Bean requires such a commodity), with some legendary recurring stars (Tim McInnery for one), as well as some fresh talent in the form of Kimberly Nixon, who’s portrayal of Averill (Osmund’s lover) was definitely a star attraction. My only problem with the film, and yes, there IS one, is that there seems to be a lack of any real development as far as the characters go. Indeed, it seems that the only characters who receive any kind of backstory, aside from Ulric, are the men in his…is platoon the right word? Anyway yeah, Ulric’s only history is revealed about halfway through the film and takes about five seconds to get over with before we get right back to the main plot. As much as I applaud the attention-stealing storyline, the action with more grit than a road in winter and the hulking Aryan oozing of raw-manliness leading it all, the film BLACK DEATH disappoints in terms of its character development. I still rank it as being quite high on my list of films that meet my approval, but the writer inside me notices these things and won’t shut up until force-fed chips and Relentless Inferno…together!

Regards, the Beard.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Come to the Dark Side: Part 1

Now, I’ve always been something of an ‘odd-one-out’ in terms of friends. I have many of course, but during the traumatic eight years of secondary/high school and college combined, made considerably less so towards the end by a combination of the school finally giving a toss and me hitting a student in the face (Yes, violence DOES work kids, but choose your moments), I developed a distain for ‘mainstream’ culture and developed interests (including your mother) such as the supernatural, history, folklore and fantasy and different music that, given the circumstances, would otherwise have made me into a ‘goth kid’. Numerous factors prevented the transformation however, and only this year did I adopt a more ‘gothic’ look in terms of fashion. So having said this I’m sure there’s many out there who doubt whether or not I’m worthy to be making a post like this, but if so then please do say. Besides, I feel my experiences are relevant to anyone who’s had difficulty with their identity like I have.

Ok, to start off, I’d first like to address the most important issue in regards to the goth subcultures as a whole. ‘What is goth?’. Well, goth is a number of things, but the most obvious and relevant meaning in this particular context is that of a fashion and music movement which originated in the 1980s, which much deprived from the very similar ‘punk’ subgenre (which, despite popular opinion, is NOT dead, just hungover). Thus, piercings, boots, jackets, jewellery and music will be very similar (One of my friends once remarked that goths are when punks and hippies have babies). Now, this is only the physical aspect of the subculture, what REALLY counts is the spiritual element that distinguishes goths (for example, some may be afraid of needles/unable to afford certain items of clothing etc, which is perfectly acceptable and doesn’t make you any less goth). The mindset of a goth is:

• Open-mindedness
• Appreciation for art and literature
• A fascination with darkness/the supernatural/death etc
• Disregard for mainstream culture (unless it’s something that’s actually good)

Just remember, not all goths are moody or suicidal. That’s a common misconception, as well as many other aspects of the gothic subculture that many people simply do not, or choose not, to understand. Another important thing to remember is that you should not become moody or depressive just for the sake of becoming a goth, and to always remain polite when talking to what you mat regard as an outsider. Seriously, the gothic subculture receives enough underserved bad press without anyone adding to it.

Anyways, I hope this has been a good starter. I intend to cover other aspects of this amazing subculture in due course, but if there’s anything you’d like me to cover in particular then by all means leave a comment, send me a message, sky-write a request, and I’ll be happy to respond.

Regards, the Beard

So much dust...

And I'm back again.

I apologise once more for the lack of updates recently, mainly as a result of having crap internet and nothing to rant about for the past month and most of the summer. However, since becoming a student of English and Creative Writing in Lancaster, I am now finding the time to blog as well as shit to rip on, from books, movies and games to more controversial stuff like politicians, Twilight fans and your mother.

Stay tuned chaps

Regards, the Beard