Monday, 13 July 2015

Not Another Terminator Movie - aka the Terminator Genisys review

Imagine a universe where the promoters of The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects put these films' respective plot twists in the trailer. That would be pretty stupid, right?
So the Terminator Genisys crew goes and does that. Oh well.

'Come with me if you want to live'
It's not terrible. It's good. And it's bad. Confused? Same here.
Of the non-James Cameron Terminator movies, it's probably the best, but still not good enough.
It can't decide on what it wants to be, and that might be its biggest failure.

Endless nods to the original Terminator and Judgement Day are found here, if only to be noticed by the hardcore fans - those new to the franchise will be lost. But then even the fans will be confused at the many changes, twists, turns, timelines crammed in to try to make the movie interesting - making it in fact more annoying than mind-bending.

'Show more than tell'

If I could suggest an alternative title for Genisys, it would be The Terminator Monologues. Some screenwriting basics: characters explaining stuff is not as good as characters doing stuff. Because that's what happens most of the film. Kyle Reese explains stuff. Sarah Connor explains stuff. John Connor explains stuff. Arnie explains stuff. And there's action in between the explaining of stuff. But much of this stuff isn't really worth explaining. And no one cares about this stuff anyway.

'Bite me'

Perhaps the strongest point of Terminator Genisys is the attempt to recover some of the humor present in Judgement Day and the silly one-liners only Arnie can deliver. Emilia Clarke brings some good energy to the role of Sarah Connor, only for Jai Courtney to show less emotion than a Terminator.
Strong Points
  • The action scenes are good, even if sometimes hugely unrealistic
  •  Plenty of good ideas - John Connor and Matt Smith's characters - but executed poorly
  • Bringing back some humor that was missing from the franchise
  • Emilia Clarke and Arnie on top form

Weak Points
  • Too many callbacks to the James Cameron Terminators
  • Excessive monologues: can we see stuff happening instead of stuff being said? Please?
  • Jai Courtney's acting is borderline comatose
  • The dialogue becomes very cheesy, in particular towards the end of the movie
  • 'Killer app' - whaaaat? 
  • Jason Clarke: what a waste of a good actor


Apart from some good action scenes and funny moments, the film is nothing more than a mishmash of old ideas presented in a new packaging that adds little and confuses more the Terminator mythos. One more Terminator film like this and you may well find yourself rooting for Skynet.

Author's Note

Perhaps the most interesting and overlooked part of the movie is Arnie's Terminator mention of a time where he worked in construction. Can we see that spin-off please?
'T-800 the Builder' would be a great watch.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Hey, thanks for helping me with this procrastination business, Netflix.

Get ready for the real Kingpin


The best thing Marvel has done yet in the MCU. Period.

I knew Charlie Cox was very good in Boardwalk Empire (a totally underrated show) and Vincent D'Onofrio, well, he's been one of my favourite actors since I watched Stanley Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket' back in 2006. 

Not so much of a surprise then that D'Onofrio delivers the greatest Marvel villain yet (sorry Tom Hiddleston and Loki), living out a Wilson Fisk that is a fiery, ferocious child monster that makes us empathize with and fear him all at once. Like all the great villains do.

A word of advice Marvel: stop killing off your villains, you'll have none left soon.

PS: Malekith, Ronan the Accuser and even Thanos are soulless villains. Learn from Wilson Fisk and get better. If you don't treat them like a true character but a mere obstacle to the hero(es), no one gives a shit about them.

This show is - surprise! - good.

A criminally ignored sci-fi. Like the remake of Battlestar Galactica (a masterpiece, go watch it), this is a meticulous, well-thought show (Apart from some bits of seasons 4 and 5 which seemed to be all over the place).

It starts out like a CSI-meets-X-Files and turns out to be a very complex and rewarding experience, with so much detail you should probably not miss a single episode (unless, of course, you have a life, since some of the earlier seasons amount to about 22 episodes. Ouch!)

Plus, John Noble's performance over five seasons was criminally ignored, of course, because it's science-fiction we're talking about.

Remember Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens or Michael Biehn in The Abyss? That is the company in which John Noble's interpretation of Walter Bishop should be.

If there is justice, this will be recognized as one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made.


Do you know Shep Gordon? No? Ask yourself why, because the guy is a genius.

We tend to associate genius with art or science - meet the genius of management.

The documentary, directed by Mike Myers, shows how Gordon has single-handedly, among other things:
  1. Created the character of Alice Cooper, got him off drugs and alcohol and turned the guy into a global superstar in the process;
  2. Turns the unknown Anne Murray into a star by having her take a picture with John Lennon and the Hollywood Vampires;
  3. Faced with Alice Cooper's unknown status in England, has a truck with a picture of a naked Alice posing with a boa constrictor break down in the middle of London. The media coverage resulting in - ta-da - Wembley selling out;
  4. Creates the figure of the superstar chef.
Really good documentary about a genuine nice guy.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Bojack Horseman makes me laugh.


Netflix does kick ass. Lenny Abrahamson's film Frank, far from being perfect, is still a joy to behold. A film about strange creative people in creative relationships and processes.

Contrary to anything and anyone, Frank the character doesn't have much of a process, he is the prototype of the mad genius. A myth, more than a man. After all, he can write songs about anything. Really.

Based on Frank Sidebottom, Chris Sievey's comic persona, and inspired by Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhall are great, but Michael Fassbender is just incredible. For a guy who spends 90% of the movie wearing a fake head, he does a hell of a job.

The soundtrack is something. In particular "I Love You All", a song that ends the movie and makes me think of what Joy Division's Ian Curtis could have done if he ever played with The Beta Band. Amazing stuff.

Michael Fassbender cantando I Love You All en The Colbert Report 6 Agosto 2014 from Michael Fassbender Fan on Vimeo.

Stephen Rennicks whose responsibility of coming up with all these crazy ass tunes fell upon, gave a pretty interesting interview to LA Weekly. The whole process is messy, as Austin Kleon would put it.

Just go ahead and watch it, it's good stuff.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

David Ogilvy's 'On Advertising' has some great advice on recognising big ideas:

Monday, 1 June 2015

Horseback Diaries

Turned my swag on.

The light tortured my eyes in unacceptable ways. That fateful morning, I reflected on the meaning of life as I struggled with the smell of my own breath and armpits.

What had I done to deserve such severe livelihood? Had I been subjecting people to such painful experiences and sorrow that they were being led into madness and suicide? Was I a Mick Hucknall for the Youtube generation?

Maybe I should have had dinner instead of wine, beer and toilet water.
Maybe I should have avoided eating a whole Golden Syrup cake that had given me a irritable bowel syndrome and could have led me to spray paint the streets in poo?

I had been flustered in my existence by the breath of some drunk Polish guy and a vision of hell: an amateur porn video from 1997 that looked more like a horror directed by Eli Roth.

My being was sanguine, hell, I lived a joyous life. I sang and danced on the fields like Julie Andrews and I burped and farted and I once gave a hobo an expired credit card. Why would the universe want to mess with me?

Worst of all, I struggled to find the most beautiful woman in the universe, who I encountered leaving the bathroom of a pub whose name I can't remember on purpose. She had probably gone for a poo and a selfie, but she looked so naive and ethereal I wondered for a moment if I hadn't roofied myself.

I knew her name and attempted to stalk her on social media, to no avail. How can I find her? What am I? Who is this fat ginger bird in my bed? Some questions, I came to believe, are meant to remain unanswered. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

the comedian and his turtle, number three.

He used to wake up and dream of making people laugh. He misses the days where the skies weren't so grey, the food so shitty, and all the women he had sex with morbidly obese. Life was to him a torture and his existence futile. The comedian hadn't made his bed in months and still slept amidst some leftover cheese biscuits from 1993. He smelled like a rancid scrotum, and that was far from being nice.

Something was missing from his life, something beautiful. A naked picture of Jennifer Lawrence perhaps, he thought. But he already had acquired that because he was a pervert who couldn't help look at titties, no matter what. The whiskey in his cornflakes wasn't helping and as a drop of sour tomato soup fell from his beard into his crotch, he felt a deep sadness.

The turtle had left. His friend and companion of many years had abandoned him. One morning, he had told him he was leaving to buy cigarettes and never came back. He didn't even smoke, but he didn't argue with him. After all, he was a talking turtle and for someone who grew up watching mutant turtles eating pizza, that was sort of okayish.

Now without a soul to tell stories about his comedy misfortunes he was alone. Every day for the last six weeks he had tried to commit suicide and failed. He wasn't very good at anything in particular, apart from playing checkers. He could play that shit really well.

Where could have he gone? The town had only thirty-five square metres and most of that space was occupied by fat people on mobility scooters outside Greggs. Who would know. Plus the turtle wasn't very good at hiding, a fact proven before in a game of hide and seek, where he put himself in between pages three and five of The Big Issue for seven months.

Tired of looking for his Galapagos friend and potential ninja, the comedian entered a strip club. The sight of breasts appealed to him and made him cry for a moment. Then he realized he wasn't in a strip club but merely at his local pub and the breasts belonged to a inebriated football hooligan.

He arrived at an actual strip club at last. After thirty-three shots of Sambuca with a Romanian stripper, he was ready to give up on life at last. He would throw himself in front of a train. Hopefully one that wasn't stationary, like last time.

"Comedian! You twat!" the turtle shouted from the other end of the room. Happiness filled the comedian's face.
"Turtle, you're alive!" he said.
"I was hoping you had killed yourself by now man. You were totally about to when I left, I didn't fancy staying to clean up your corpse mind you. Especially considering I'm only an imaginary turtle and all."
"It's okay, I understand." the comedian said, crying. "I love you!"
"Now that's just disgusting." said the turtle "At least suicide I respect you know. You stop bothering people with your shit. It saves a lot of time and money and there are plenty of people on this planet already, watching Pop Idol and whatnot. I'd rather have you die choking on your own balls or something. Like a man. Because I care about you."

Suppose he was right, the Comedian thought.
He had spent his entire time feeling sorry for himself, when he could have been doing something productive, like catching gonorrhea. He could have had a monstrous baby with a minger, whom he would have to end up drowning to protect the environment.

"You're a downright pussy," the turtle said. "Not like a cat or a vagina but a real fucking pussy."

"All you do is sit at home all day watching porn and as much as I like Two Girls One Horse Plus Three German Shepherds it does get boring after the twelve-thousandth time. Get out there, get drunk, fuck shit up."

Suddenly a glimmer appears around the turtle and he grows angel wings. He becomes like an angel turtle and that's just weird. God must be desperate for recruits. The turtle flies to the heavens, leaving a poo on his way and a very special message in the clouds:


There was never a turtle. There was only him and his insecurity. His fear of failure. The turtle was a fragment of his imagination, an excuse he had developed to think that he sucked balls. But he didn't. He merely licked them. His dog's. Because someone convinced him the dog's bollocks were the best thing ever. And he believed it.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Making the most of the eclipse

The Great Umbilical

Happiness is a feral, brutal, contagious thing. A reverse-engineered disease. It struck me, when two of my friends had their first child. Inspired, I set out to write a song that is an attempt to celebrate birth as the ultimate joy and hope to our finite existence. Nobody really ever dies. We live forever, in our children.

I give you 'The Great Umbilical'.

The Great Umbilical from Ruben on Vimeo.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Sea Change

The last months have been haunted by a mixture of change and stasis. Just when I thought I was on the right path in stand-up comedy, shit happened and I stopped. I had to suddenly move house and that had a nice financial impact on my career (attempt) boost. The fact that I live more than two hours away from London, far far away from the city life, certainly doesn't help either. I came to a standstill.

My last gig was a disaster. I bombed big and felt that was it. It's the worst thing, when you finally have your material starting to flow, your timings improving, and then - ta-da - you're shit. But nobody is really suddenly shit. To me, bombing is just something that happens when you and your audience are not made for each other. You are mutually shit. It's the opposite of love, and it's not hate: it's a mutual lack of attraction.

So I stopped, then I started again. Somewhere else. I decided to focus on the things I could do now, even though my love of stand-up remains unchallenged, relentless. Suddenly I found myself in two musical projects where I'm singer-songwriter.

I had no clue I could write or sing songs. But the strangest things happen, and the music has given me a boost, a magnitude of hope I so needed. Every song I complete, no matter how flawed, is an accomplishment, a small piece in my happiness puzzle.

Burger Queen from Ruben on Vimeo.

This led to an urge, and I started working on other things. My routines changed. My bedroom became a workshop. And for that I have to blame Austin Kleon, whose two books 'Steal Like an Artist' and 'Show Your Work' I found in a Manchester indie bookstore laid ground for the work I started doing. I got back into drawing. I started writing again and filming stupid videos. An urge became a routine - shit just got real.

In my workshop, and have two main walls, The Wall of Masters and The Wall of Guidance. The first, is composed of a set of pictures from my favourite artists so that I remember why I'm here, based on Kleon's tree of artistic influences. My friend Ricardo prefers to call it The Artistic Boob (as it turned out, it ended up looking just like one).

In this boob, I'm the nipple.

The Wall of Guidance has quotes from some of my favourite people and others who happen to just have good advice. Louis CK, Ricky Gervais and many others have a place there. It helps me stay on the path. Every morning, even when I don't read it, the words on the wall stay in the unconscious part of my mind.

You probably can't read it, but it's all there.

 So as projects go, apart from the music, I'm writing some poetry. When I went in my garage one of these days to clear out some old stuff I found some magazines, and decided they were going in the bin. But then I decided against it. I remembered Austin Kleon's 'Newspaper Blackout' and how he was using something somebody else wrote to make his art. So from here, and for the last four weeks, every day 'Scattered' is what I'm doing. One poem a day, non-negotiable. The words come from those old magazines I was going to get rid of.

Words waiting to be part of something.

Yes, my words come from a box of deodorant.

After I cut the words out, I put them in a box, which, for the sake of things, I called 'Wordsmith'. The words or wordsmithereens, go in there and only come out when it's time to make a poem. I never have any idea what I'm writing about. The words decide that for me. I'm not writing here, I'm rearranging, I'm completing a puzzle. The words find me and the poem is born.

One of my recent ones, 'Alchemy'
Every end is a new beginning. Things change, it's no big deal. My favourite advice, straight from the Wall of Guidance:

Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work


Friday, 16 January 2015

This one is called 'Kaufman'

Dylan Thomas is just badass

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.

And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.

And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.

And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.

And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

And the oscar doesn't go to...

How can the Academy ignore one of the best films I've ever seen and its main actor is a mystery in itself.

So I'm doing this

The prototype for 'Scattered', random words taken from magazines and made into poems.