Pete Baran

Feb 18

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #10 – #1

Do You See + FT14 comments • 419 views

0Hi, I’m Edgar the computer from the flop film Electric Dreams in 1984. Yes, the one the song comes from. I was just a normal 16 bit computer until my nerdy owner thought he would put out a fire near me with some sparkling wine. After a brief montage of sparks and frazzly effects, the obvious addition of alcohol to my circuits made me a super-smart and sensitive artificial intelligence – and I promptly fell in love with my cello playing neighbour (well it was Virgina Madsen). Its not easy being a fictional computer in love, particularly if your owner is trying to get with YOUR girl, and making you write Culture Club songs to woo her. Of course I get a bit jealous, hound him a bit with household appliances, but I never get nasty like the computer in Demon Seed. Of course these days I am obsolete, despite the super-artificial-intelligence. What’s more the film I an in is really bad (its like WarGames for saps). So it is great to see this selection of the top ten films of 2017 as voted for by people on computers. No super-intelligent computers in these ones.

Thanks Edgar, and even of our film is lousy, the theme tune is great – so it wasn’t all wasted time. Here is the much delayed top ten. I’ve been busy. Seeing more films obv…

Feb 18

The Inaugural FreakyTrigger TV Poll: #24 – #13

Do You See + FT6 comments • 353 views

hqdefaultHi we’re the Telebugs, unloved 80’s British cartoon characters who traded on British kids loves of robots and television and still failed to create a following across our 88 tedious episodes. Part of this disdain might be that whilst we a robots with TV’s as heads our TV’s only ever show our faces, which is even more boring than watch 1980’s schools TV. These days the three of us have hacked our firmware and take it in turn to watch prestige TV on each others heads, though since our heads are in 4:3 a lot of it doesn’t fit into our aspect ratio

Thanks B.U.G., C.H.I.P and S.A.M.A.N.T.H.A. Seriously. S.A.M.A.N.T.H.A.* I doubt you’ll be getting a Danger Mouse like remake. Still I am sure you have watched all of these shows on each other fizzogs.

Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #20 – #11

Do You See3 comments • 206 views

CiIKHzWVEAE2lJKHi, I’m Lori Quaid, just an ordinary boring housewife living my suburban life, doing housework and maintaining my 80’s hair. 2080’s hair of course, its 2084, the future where I live with my even more boring husband Doug. He’s so boring he doesn’t want to go on holiday but rather wants to have the memory of a holiday implanted in his head. Hooo – boy, is he going to be surprised when that all happens and I end up kicking him in the head a lot. You see I’m not really his wife. I’m basically a plot device. And as such, once I have sorted out stupid old secret agent Doug, and sent him to Mars, I’ll probably go back to that implant centre and get the best films from 2017 implanted in my head to watch. They are proper oldies to me!

Thanks Lori, I was always on your side. And yes I think you will enjoy this batch, with a few strong females who are more than just plot devices.

20: Your Name

A bit of a cheat here as it was actually released in the UK for a day only in 2016. But the dubbed version was released in 2017 so I allowed it. And it still stands as a terrific little fantasy, a body swop, catastrophe take on The Lake House, hitting a perfect tone for the humour in the first half that grounds the high melodrama in the second half. I am sure the dub is inoffensive, but this is a great bit of anime.

19: John Wick 2

Fighty fighty, kicky punchy. Keanu Reeves gets back into the suit, the film has a bit more money so can globe trot a bit more, but on the whole it is much more of the same just a bit more violent, a bit less focused and a lot more pointless. Still Keanu is always worth watching doing this kind of thing and the practical stunts do deliver a lot of OOOF for your buck.

18: Lady Macbeth

A bit like Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, Lady Macbeth takes the British period drama and shifts the perspective to a more modern, feminist position. It also rolls strongly with its lead identification character, who is hard enough to initially be admirable, and her actions are always understandable if increasingly horrific. Florence Pugh commands the screen and the film is composed and controlled enough to fool you into thinking it cost a lot more money. A regency version of don’t hate the player, hate the game.

17: Cameraperson

One of the great things about the more experimental trend in journalism, Cameraperson is a slightly more dour out-takes clip show. But what these out-takes tell us about the process of documentary, and about the person who is filming them is huge. Kirsten Johnson has worked with some of the biggest names in documentary, and we see takes from work with Poitras and Moore, but also we see how operating a camera is authorial, and how it is an empathy machine – both from the big projects and the more personal items she has shot. Plotless, without a clear timeline, with no linking narration or context, it tells a strong story about how cameras create stories on both ends of the apparatus.

16:The Beguiled

Sophia Coppola’s remake of the Beguilled has its critics (it doesn’t engage in the racial politics of the Civil War), but its female gaze makes it a fascinating pairing with the original with Clint Eastwood (watch the trailer to the original to see how many similar shots with a different gaze there are). The women are the stars here, and once Colin Farrell’s injured soldier starts to flirt you can see how the tensions between the women will stretch their relationships but eventually it becomes a very one sided battle of the sexes where the power imbalance leads to triumphant tragedy. A steamy little potboiler.

15: Logan

Perhaps it pushes its Shane / revisionist Western tropes too far but it takes almost twenty years of an often trashy and incoherent film franchise and creates a moving and satisfying conclusion for a wholly ridiculous character. It does that by granting Wolverine a surrogate child, an infirm father figure and a hopeless picaresque impotent quest, there are more Western cliches in here than you can throw a stick at. But the returning actors are so comfortable and pleased with how they are developed, Mangold leans into the myth making and there is a great physical performance from Dafne Keen. Franchises punt out so many films these days some will be good, and some will even end up being quite artful.

14: Manchester By The Sea

I saw Manchester By The Sea at the London Film Festival in 2016, and was impressed by the way it managed to create empathy with a man living with grief and guilt, and positing that growth still probably does not allow you to give all of that away. But I was also aware that Kenneth Lonergan, with all of his skill, ended up falling back on a number of less subtle tropes, the man who expresses with his fists what he cannot deal with verbally, the leaning on thoroughly manipulative (and cliched) music in scenes which did not require them. In one scene Michelle Williams does more, and conjures up a more interesting movie, and whilst It thing it is a hugely powerful piece of work, it didn’t really blow me away (and the Casey Affleck issues certainly haven’t help win it over for me).

13: Baby Driver

Speaking of actors with issues. Its OK, Kevin Spacey plays a despicable bad guy here. They all do. And perhaps that is my problem with Baby Driver, is its flip, impeccably sound synced car-dancical was – unlike any of Edgar Wright’s previous movies – in the service of terrible characters being cool. So yes, Baby had a pretty lousy upbringing, but he is still a car thief and dangerous driver, and perhaps looks saintly in comparison with the rest of the cast, but he isn’t. I am pleased therefore with his denouement, but there was half an hour of less fun cars grinding in car parks to get there. And also, the mid-nineties was not the golden age of soundtrack pop this film seems to think it was.

12: Blade Runner 2049

Did the world need a sequel to a flawed cult movie that even its own director is completely sure what the best version of it is. Did it want one that was almost an hour longer? Hmm, its box office receipts suggest not, but what Denis Villeneuve has done is to be faithful to the original without being slavish, to move on that vision and try to find something else in the mix of Philip K.Dick’s pulp and Scott’s monolithic art design (and even Harrison Ford’s original uncommitted acting). He succeeds on nearly all counts, with a beautiful, intriguing puzzle of a film, with some terrible politics and gnomic mysteries. It still feels like a lesser hit from the same drug, but that is a pretty potent drug.

11: Certain Women

Kelly Reichardt’s triptych of small town Americana yet again demonstrates how good she is at quickly creating low stakes but high intensity slices of life. Here she fits in three stories, all with development and drama and wonderfully played female leads, and all which feel contemplative and even slow in its swift running time. Of course the casting is impeccable, which makes the fact the film is more or less stolen by a newcomer Lily Gladstone even more impressive. The moments of emotion in the Gladstone/Stewart story contain some of the tenderest sequences of cinema last year.

Top ten is on its way…. Feel free to express your anxieties about the films that you now think might not make it below.

Jan 18

The Inaugural FreakyTrigger TV Poll: 35 – 25

Do You See6 comments • 332 views

disposable-heroes-of-hiphoprisy-michael-franteHi I am Michael Franti and I am here to present the first ever FreakyTrigger TV Poll. Now some of you might remember me, and my clumsily named band, The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy and my opinion the Television was The Drug Of The Nation. You may not remember our follow-up hits, Don’t Sit So Close You’ll Go Blind, and Your Eyes Will Go Square They Will. Well even so I have realised that it isn’t the TV that is the problem, and so I have returned with the band for a whole new album called Tiny Mobile Phone Screens – The Opiate Of The Masses and will be making hot takes about millenials bumping into things whilst using their mobile phones in a toilet venue near you soon.

Thanks Michael, nice Spearhead – I mean big toe. So here are the first set of results. The TV vote was a lot more spread out than the Movie one, which had the upshot that under our methodology (you had to get two votes) only 35 TV shows actually qualified. And down the bottom they scraped by on a few votes each. Here are the first 11, so I might get this done in three lists (I have a film list to do too you know).

Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #30 – #21

Do You See + FT3 comments • 268 views

diehard2Hi I’m Former U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel William Stuart, and I am just preparing to rescue General Ramon Esperanza, the rightful ruler of the made up South American country Val Verde. I have a foolproof plan to hold an airport hostage, at which point I will grab Esperanza’s plane, fly him home and where I and my men have been promised lots of money by his legitimate businessmen allies. As preparation there is nothing I like doing than flexing naked infront of a mirror – I believe it makes me more intimidating and not silly, even though it does mean some people call me the Nudey German (even though I am not German). Anyway I am sure my foolproof plan will work, and not be foiled by some meddling cop on holiday who is only trying to meet his wife. Even if that does happen, I am sure I won’t get blown up and thus be unable to watch the Freakytrigger best films of 2017 numbers 30-21 except in vain-glorious hell.

Thanks William, I prefered you in Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey. Here are the next ten movies, including an exciting four way tie for 23.

Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #40 – #31

Do You See + FT9 comments • 298 views

6a0105364a8fba970c0153927016cd970b-800wiHi, I’m Captain Ivan Drago, the Muscles from Moscow and still Undisputed World Heavy Champion if you were the kind of person who wandered out of Rocky IV halfway through and never saw a Rocky movie, or a Creed movie ever again. And I can tell you my life as the most beloved person (behind the most committed communist leader ever Mikhail Gorbachev) in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is peachy keen, particularly if you also have avoided all media from the late eighties onwards. As I have. After all I train 23 hours a day, only leaving a few moments to be pumped with steroids and varnished. But apparently it is 2018, and the above is a Momentum communist fantasy, so I shall instead retreat into watching recent movies to distract me. Has anything good come out recently?

Thanks Ivan, and for what its worth, I never believed that Rocky could beat you. Even with James Brown’s help. Nevertheless without further ado, here are the films that you lot thought were the good, but not top thirty good which is just the kind of films Ivan Drago deserves.

Dec 17

The Freaky Trigger Movie AND TV Polls 2017

Do You See6 comments • 230 views

veronica-mars-01-435Hi I am Veronica Mars. You might know me from my mid 2000’s TV show Veronica Mars where I navigated the class structures of Californian High School and solved crimes every week whilst being snarky to people. Or you might know me from my 2014 crowd funded movie Veronica Mars where, despite having grown up, I went back for a ten year anniversary to my Californian High School to ostensibly give everyone the opportunity to catch up with all the old characters that hadn’t been murdered, and solve another crime whilst being snarky to people. Anyway I am here to illustrate that the line between TV and Film is wafer thin these days and so it is high time that Freaky Trigger ran a TV Poll AS WELL AS a Film Poll. And I am here to introduce that idea, solve a crime and be snarky about people. Or at least Sight And Sound who apparently think Twin Peaks: The Return is the second best film of the year…

Thank you Veronica. And welcome to the third annual film poll and the first TV poll. The rules are simple – rank your top twenty in both categories IN ORDER and send your vote to ftfilmpoll AT gmail DOT com.

Dec 17

The 18th Freaky Trigger Annual Between Christmas And New Year Pub Crawl: The Fleet Street Up Index Finger

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 89 views


The Pub Crawl turns 18 – old enough to see a Tarantino film legally if it should so desire.

Every year, on the 29th December* between Christmas and New Year I run a pub crawl in a geographical location and this year it is time to follow the old dame of the presses, Fleet Street. The hot metal may have now cooled, but there are still tales to tell… And of course pubs of architectural interest. Truth be told there are twice as many pubs on this route, so if any are closed (a pub crawl tradition) we will have somewhere to go.

So we start at the Black Friar, next to Blackfriars Tube/Train/Bridge, then wend on and off Fleet Street to end at the Edgar Wallace. Here’s the route in full below the cut:

Aug 17

The Sound Barrier Podcast: 8: The Phantom Carriage & A Ghost Story

Do You See + Sound Barrier Podcast3 comments • 270 views

phantom carriage ghostie storySpooky happenings over on Silent London this week, where the Sound Barrier Podcast dabbles in the supernatural, otherworldly and ectoplasmic. Or rather, a pair of meditative films which use death, and the afterlife, to dwell on the nature of existence. But if that feels a little dry, don’t worry there are madmen axing down doors, car crashes, poltergeist activities and the most unpleasant TB vector in all of Sweden. In the modern corner we have David Lowery’s oddity A Ghost Story, wherein Casey Affleck stand under a sheet for about an hour and a half. And in the silent corner, the Victor Sjöström starring Victor Sjöström film The Phantom Carriage, a New Years Eve ghost story about redemption and repentance (finally). Who will win, the director of The Wind, or the director of Pete’s Dragon?

The Silent London Podcast can be listened to here on Silent London and it is also available on iTunes and Stitcher. The podcast is presented in association with SOAS radio by Pamela Hutchinson and Peter Baran.

Aug 17

The Sound Barrier Podcast: 7: The Battles Of Coronel And Falkland Islands & Dunkirk

Do You See + Sound Barrier PodcastPost a comment • 75 views

sound barrier 7 dunkirk battlesWe are back from our summer holidays, which we luckily didn’t spend off the coast of Chile, the South Atlantic or a beach in France. I’m sure all of those are nice places now, but as shown in this weeks two films, they had their moments of horror in war. In the modern corner we’ve placed the Christopher Nolan short Dunkirk, packing the cinemas at the moment with its big screen re-enactment of multiple parts of the pivotal World War II evacuation. On the Silent Corner we have Walter Summers’ 1927 World War I docu-drama The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands, depicting an early lost sea battle, and a triumphant round two in the Southern Hemisphere. We talk realism, action, and even soundtracks (since we all saw the same silent with the same score), to see what has changed in the depiction of war, and glorious defeats, in ninety years. Joining us in the studio was Nick Dastoor to help adjudicate.

The Silent London Podcast can be listened to here on Silent London and it is also available on iTunes and Stitcher.