Sunday, October 08, 2023

Review: The Daily Doctor

Part of the BBC's book offerings for the sixtieth anniversary of Doctor Who comes The Daily Doctor: 365¼ Whoniversal Meditations on Life and How to Live It by Simon Guerrier and Peter Anghelides.

It's a tough book to review and I am friends with both the authors, and what I can say from the outset is that they set themselves a challenge and a half in doing this book ... and perhaps that is why Steve Tribe, originally announced as the author, dropped out ...

But that challenge is a double edged sword ... as while it is impressive to draw and spin life lessons off the slightest of mentions, dialogue, or happenings in the show ... some of them are a little too tenuous and seem clutching at straws to make up the numbers.

We have a lesson for every day of the year, and if there is a plan at foot here to match events/stories with dates then I can't see it ... it seems pretty random. At least Valentines day has a love-based one, even if it is about Susan leaving and 'letting love go' ... so not very happy.

I was considering how one might approach creating such a book ... probably thinking through each episode initially to find what 'lessons' there might be therein, but also searching through the transcript archive looking for keywords which might prompt a 'lesson' too ...

On the plus side, I enjoyed reading and dipping through it ... but on the negative, it's slight, and the text tends to tell you the plot of whichever story they have chosen the quote from (which of course I already know), with a skew towards whatever the 'lesson' is, and then give you the 'lesson' in the last sentence ... It's also all very serious, a step away from the flippant '365¼' in the title (I'm not sure what the ¼ lesson is to be honest - we don't have one for 29th Feb, but there is an extra 'Saying Goodbye' one at the end - which, rather oddly, given the number of great 'goodbyes' there are in the show itself, comes from the audio story The Pescatons!)

The design is nice, the layout loose and friendly ... but it feels very much like a filler book. Why does this book exist? Did it need to be written/compiled? The answer is tricky ...

Perhaps for the fan who might like to read and be enlightened each day with some words of wisdom from the show ... a good stocking filler for the year ahead ...

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Review: Red 11 (2018)

We stumbled across Red 11 on Prime ... at the time it had one 5 star review and we smiled and said, yeah, like that's from the director's mum!  But then we looked closer and saw the director was one Robert Rodriguez, the man behind one of the greatest zombie films, Planet Terror ... and also the man who brought us From Dusk Till Dawn and Machete!  So we thought ... nothing to lose!

It turns out that Red 11 is something rather good. It's a sort of sci fi thriller set in a hospital where a chap volunteers to be part of a medical trial - earning $7k at the end for his trouble. The issue is that the trial seems very suspicious, with the various people taking part in different trials being given different coloured t-shirts - his is red, and he is number 11 in his trial, hence the title.

As we progress, so it starts to get wierd with some of the people starting to display telekenetic powers ... and what is it all about, who is running it ... and why ... and will Red 11 get out alive!

Red 11 is an accomplished and enjoyable thriller, well made and directed and with some great moments. I loved the subverting of the 'wall' by the inclusion of a character called Score, who has a small keyboard and who actually provides the music for the film as it progresses ... with themes for the characters and action and so on ...

But there's more ... in a short intro to the film Rodriguez explains that he made the film himself, with only his son, for $7k ... all the actors, crew and so on presumably all worked for nothing, and he also wrote, directed, produced, edited, and did the music himself. There are no other credits, so presumably he also graded it and did the titles and ... and ... basically EVERYTHING.

Now that's impressive. Very impressive.

So if you're interested in the genre, and want to see how a low budget film could be put together for next to nothing ... give it a look!

There's also a series on Prime called Rebel Without a Crew which breaks down his production process and shows just how the film was made ... again, excellent stuff for any would be film maker ...