What I’m Listening To: Podcasts #3

I love me a podcast as you know. I love making them and I love listening to them.

Say It Five Times podcast has been quiet for a while now. In fact, we have decided to stop doing it for now and probably forever. Not for any reason other than I had too much on at the time and I started to not enjoy it, which was the opposite of its purpose.

On reflection, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted either so I very much hope to be looking into refining and picking it up again in the New Year. Right now I’m thinking this will be with a fresh new name, outlook and mission statement. I’ll go into this in way more detail when I know more but for now watch this space, ‘cos I’ll be back and so will at least one of my co-hosts – and yes, we will still be more or less horror themed.

Eek!

In the meantime, here’s a little run down of what I’m listening to on my travels to and from work.

The Black Tapes

The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. Do you believe?

There’s something really likeable about host Alex Reagan and honestly, this podcast has brought me a lot of joy over the last couple of weeks. It is seriously spooky and there have been times I’ve been listening in the dark and then really wished I wasn’t.

Currently focused on the “black tapes” of paranormal investigator Dr. Richard Strand, which contain supposedly unsolved supernatural (or not) phenomena – and the personal life of the enigmatic man himself, whose wife went missing under mysterious circumstances – it’s seriously addictive.

You can learn more about the fictional series here.

Homecoming

Homecoming centres on a caseworker at an experimental facility, her ambitious supervisor, and a soldier eager to re-join civilian life — presented in an enigmatic collage of telephone calls, therapy sessions, and overheard conversations.

I accidentally stumbled across this one and stayed for Catherine Keener’s wonderfully familiar voice. I’m only one episode or so in so far but it’s a compelling story.

Heidi Bergman is a full-time waitress who has returned home to care for her mother whose health is failing. She used to be a caseworker for Homecoming though, a program designed to help soldiers who have returned from tour re-acclimatise back into their former lives. When she is approached at her new place of work, it all kicks off again – or so I’m expecting. Other voice talent includes Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer – and this six part radio series has also since been made into an Prime Original TV show starring Julia Roberts.

You can learn more about the fictional series here.

The Losers’ Club

The Losers’ Club is a weekly podcast for Constant Readers of Stephen King to dig deep into his oeuvre and the myriad TV, film, print, and stage adaptations of his work.

Gee, I wonder what this one has to offer me, a horror geek and Stephen King obsessive (but not purist)? LOL.

Again I haven’t listened to all the episodes but the ones I have I have thoroughly enjoyed. The most recent episode for me was an examination of Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep and was very detailed. Although my recent review was mostly positive, having had time to let the dust settle and listen to a couple of other opinions, I agree with a lot of what the hosts here say about what does and doesn’t work well.

So I Got to Thinking

A hilarious new podcast from bestselling author and journalist Juno Dawson and the editor of QX Magazine Dylan B Jones. Each week, the friends (and sexperts) rewatch the classic HBO sitcom Sex and the City and then attempt to answer Carrie Bradshaw’s soul-searching, and occasionally ridiculous, questions for the modern day.

Juno Dawson lives in Brighton and I really want to meet her. I love that this podcast re-examines beloved episodes of SATC from the start, pondering the earnest questions Miss Bradshaw herself is considering in each. With questions such as “Can woman have sex like men?” and “Is there a war between Singles and Couples?”, do they stand up in 2019?

Well the answer so far is sort of yes and kind of no, exactly as you’d expect. The episodes are really fun to revisit, particularly as an avid SATC fan and in the hands of these two brilliant hosts, it’s one of my current favourites. The good news is that there are tonnes of episodes still to be explored so this should go on for a long time. I also really appreciate the LGBT lens in which the hosts examine certain scenarios given their own life experiences.

No Sleep Podcast

The No Sleep Podcast is an anthology horror fiction podcast. WARNING: This is a horror fiction podcast. It is intended for mature adults, not the faint of heart. Join us at your own risk…

One of the things I love to do the most but have had to stop as my nightmares got a bit too much is to read No Sleep stories on Reddit. This is the audio version of doing just that and I am treading very lightly for the aforementioned reason.

There are too many episodes to go through by name but there’s bound to be something that taps into your personal fears and keeps you awake at night, why not give it a go?

There’s a helpful guide to getting started with No Sleep here.


And in addition to the five new blogs mentioned above, I am still finding time to slot in the regulars. I can’t let those slip for every new young buck that comes into view.

Also listening to: My Dad Wrote a PornoThe Guilty FeministCriminalHow Did This Get Made?The Evolution of Horror

What are your favourite podcasts?

Behind Again

I’m still reviewing Halloween movies here firmly in December and that’s because I’ve been busy and lazy, a wonderful combination. So I’m going to have to squish some of my To Do list into one post, which I kind of hate but what can you do?

Here’s what I’ve been watching since the end of October:

Halloween

I waited for what feels like forever for this 40th anniversary sequel and… I can’t say I was disappointed. A lot of it doesn’t work, some of it spectacularly (looking at you fake Doctor Loomis/terrible podcasters) but all in all David Gordon Green‘s offering is a lot of fun and that’s what I wanted.

Jamie Lee is dope as the deeply affected, original Final Girl™ Laurie Strode. A lifetime of paranoia has made her into a reclusive survivalist and she is barely holding onto her family as a result. But what happens when all that preparation finally comes to fruition? Well, you’ll find out when Michael Myers busts out of the institution that has held him for the last four decades – and the whole thing is as gory and tense as you’d imagine. Plus, there’s something truly disconcerting about the humanisation of The Shape just before shit kicks off.

My Rating

4.5/5. Probably for nostalgia more than anything.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

In my opinion this movie suffers for not featuring enough Jack Black but IT’s Jeremy Ray Taylor does a fine job as a mini version of the man himself. If I’m honest, I don’t remember too much about the plot (I think because I saw The House with a Clock in its Walls right before it and they’ve sort of blended into one) but I did enjoy its childlike Halloween wonder.

The effects are very good – plenty of inventive monsters and sadistic gummy bears – the kids are fantastic and Slappy is a dollop of mischievous fun. I think I’ll always be here for the Goosebumps movies honestly, they’re charming. I’ll definitely be hitting this up with a re-watch as soon as possible.

My Rating

3.5/5. Witches be crazy.

The Hate U Give

Based on the YA novel by Angie Thomas which I have half read, THUG is a pretty solid adaptation, if a little heavy-handed in its delivery. Starring the ridiculously talented Amandla Stenberg as our main protagonist Starr and the ridiculously cool Regina Hall as Starr’s ferocious mother Lisa, this movie examines subject matter that is all too relevant. I enjoyed the ride and also cried like a baby throughout.

While I could never understand what Starr and her family and community have to deal with, I was pumping the air with triumph as Starr stood up for herself and her lost friends in the most dramatic, tense scenes imaginable. Not only does this movie look at the horror of racism and police brutality, it also hones in on the insidiousness of subconscious prejudice, particularly within Starr’s own friendship group. Russell Hornsby is fantastic too as Starr’s wise old ex-gang member father.

My Rating

4/5. Powerful stuff.

Slaughterhouse Rulez

Meh. This, sadly, was a steaming pile of nothingness and given the cast, I’m surprised. It’s just not that memorable, funny or endearing – and takes an age to get going. When it does there are a couple of okay moments but there’s not enough to make it worth the effort. Sorry, Nick Frost, I still love you.

My Rating

2.5/5. A real stinker.

Widows

My takeaway from this is that Viola Davis should be cast in every film from now on. Literally every single one. As freshly widowed Veronica, she is mesmerising – the perfect blend of vulnerability and strength – I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She is matched perfectly though by Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, who steals scenes left and right, even from the Queen herself.

I enjoyed this film very much, it follows the lives of a handful of women left devastated by the death of their husbands, a band of bank robbers. But as with most crime capers, there are twists at every turn and danger lurking in every shadow, not least the terrifying Manning Brothers, Jatemme and Jamal (played, respectively, by two of my favourite actors, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry).

My Rating

4/5. Girl power at its finest.

***

What have you been watching?

American Animals

American Animals (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

I feel like I had to work extra hard to catch this movie in the theater (by going to another one). The Odeon showed it for what felt like ten minutes before pulling it due to lack of interest so I had to seek it out. It was worth it.

Based on the true story of four acquaintances who attempt to pull off an extraordinary heist based on a load of crime caper movies they’ve watched as homework, it’s a really interesting ride. Spliced with interviews with all the real life ‘characters’, including all four robbers, it builds up to the day of the robbery from its moment of conception.

The fictional Spencer (Barry Keoghan) works in a supermarket and is dissatisfied with his lot in life. Waiting for something to come along and render his existence special somehow, an idea is born the day he visits Transylvania University and sets his sights on John James Audubon’s The Birds of America as well as a collection of other rare books (including Darwin’s The Origin of Species).

The first edition of Katie Price’s Being Jordan sure was a rare and priceless gem

Initially just intrigued that such rare artifacts could fetch such a pretty penny, Barry mentions it to his best friend Warren (Evan Peters) who takes a grain of an idea and runs with it. Warren himself is a wild card and you could argue is the main instigator of the plan, though he might deny it (and more or less does on camera via the real Warren Lipka).

The boys find themselves involved in a world they’ve never experienced before, taking meetings with fences and buyers (when Warren travels to Amsterdam), doing their research (all manner of heist movies, including Reservoir Dogs) and generally focusing all their attentions on their mission to steal the priceless books and sell them on.

When they realise they’ll need more help, they enlist the assistance of Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas (Blake Jenner) though both are kind of reluctant participants, particularly when it comes to any sort of violence, a dash of which they’ll need to deal with the one person standing in the way of their prize – librarian Betty Jean ‘BJ’ Gooch (Ann Dowd).

Can they pull it off or are they doomed from the start? As the story gains momentum, the relationship these men share are tested to the max and they are forced to deal with their own individual feelings of guilt, failure and regret.

Take That were trying a new look for their long awaited reunion

I bloody loved American Animals. I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t Evan Peters that initially pulled me in but I also love a good heist movie. Especially one based on a true story and one that examines four normal real life characters and their motivations. The whole concept of wanting that one incredible thing to happen is very relatable and the fact that we get to see interviews with their families reminds us of the consequences of their actions.

Barry Keoghan is amazing as Spencer and he sold his character to me the most. I really enjoy him as an actor, having really been creeped out by his role in The Killing of a Sacred Deer so I’m quite interested to see more of him.

Hereditary‘s Ann Dowd is great as always, though we don’t see nearly enough of her. During the will-they-won’t-they heist scene, she is heartbreaking in her vulnerability and it left me feeling genuinely uncomfortable. I definitely recommend this film which is subtly stylised in its look but also holds up as a dark and genuinely tense crime caper.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Searching

Searching (2018)

This morning I learnt that there’s a name for films using this all-on-the-screen format and it’s “Screen life”. So not only is this an interesting film, it’s also been highly educational. Kinda.

Anywho, Searching is a very tense thriller in which David Kim (the gorgeous John Cho) fights tooth and nail to find his daughter Margot (Michelle La), who has mysteriously disappeared. As he picks at the threads of her life, he realises he barely knows her at all – which doesn’t help when he’s expected to unravel the truth about what happened to her.

With the help of determined Detective Vick (Debra Messing), David delves deeper into Margot’s social media account, messages and emails to paint a picture of where his daughter might be – and who she really is.

I really enjoyed this though I will admit to getting an inkling of the truth half way through. That said it makes you doubt every character you come into contact with, even David himself. And while it centers around Margot’s disappearance it also sets up their relationship really well. The beginning is genuinely touching and gave me the feels not ten minutes in.

I’m trying very hard not to hone in on any of the details for a reason but this was impressive and the screen life format kept my interest throughout, much as it does in Unfriended. I think it might get tired quicker than found footage but here it successfully builds up suspense – and makes you want to upgrade your five-year-old acer laptop for something quicker and shinier (just me?).

My Rating

4/5.

The Equalizer 2

The Equalizer 2 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?

*Minor spoilers*

McCall (Denzel Washington) is what my brother once called me: a groupie for the underdog. Not that he goes around sleeping with them you understand, it’s more that he has a very specific recipe for vengeance on behalf of those who have been wronged and might not be in a position to dish it out themselves. Among his assignments are a trip to Istanbul to recover a kidnapped child and a little light rape revenge.

Fans of the first Equalizer film (2014) probably remember it better than I do but this follows a similar pattern. Where back in ’14 McCall was just starting his new ‘quiet’ life, he is now quite settled in a nice block with good neighbours and a community that knows his face. He is well-loved and just ticking along doing his thing when things get real quick and this time, it’s fucking personal.

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“Whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good man…”

This sequel focuses also on Melissa Leo‘s Susan Plummer, long-time friend of McCall’s and all round boss bitch. When she uncovers too much about a certain crime and something nasty happens, it’s up to our boy Robert McCall to put two and two together and fight for his friend – will he? Of course he bloody will.

Meanwhile closer to home, will McCall also keep his pal and neighbour Miles (Ashton Sanders) on the straight and narrow? I’ll always be here for action, the more elaborate the better so I don’t mind when McCall puts down the bad guys without breaking a sweat, he’s a hero after all – but sometimes it does get a little bit laughable. Like, Denzel babe you’re in your sixties, have a little break.

However, the final action segment shot by the beach during a raging storm really conjures up an atmosphere and I think that’s the element that lifted this film from simply okay to very good.

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“I’m sorry you lost that fight with The Mountain buddy…”

This was, like Mission: Impossible – Fall Out, a well crafted caper and I enjoyed myself. Denzel is always top-notch, even in films I really don’t care for (Fences) so no shocker there – but his support in the form of Leo, Sanders and The Prince of Dorne himself, Pedro Pascal is pretty excellent too.

Roll on Part 3.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Oh YEAH.

A female-ccentric heist movie with all the glamorous trimmings and then some, this movie is a blast from start to finish. And while I was always living for the cast and the fact boys were pissed off about yet another all female-remake, I’m happy that it’s also genuinely a good movie.

Obviously I can’t pick a favourite from the cast because that would be impossible but I can say that each of Debbie Ocean’s crew get enough screen time to make you love them and that is no mean feat. Where Ocean’s 11 and it’s sequels were slick and enjoyable, Ocean’s 8 dials it down a little bit and just focuses on the fabulousness.

oceans-8-cast-women

It is a lot of fun and is stunning to look at with a wardrobe across the board to die for. The chemistry too makes it even better, though some (male) film critics have criticised the lack of it. I do not see their point at all.

The plot is not too taxing and while some of it is a little far-fetched, I don’t think any of us are here for that anyway, so who cares? What we care about is fit women getting one up on ex-boyfriends, ride or die friendship and the fulfillment of destiny, even if that destiny is just to be a really, really good criminal.

I’m in love with all eight women and I’d watch this movie again and again, if only to study the way Cate Blanchett wears her fringe because it is sublime. I also really enjoyed seeing Anne Hathaway in a sassier role, she’s a very sexy lady.

Damn, it every single one of them is hotter than Hell.

Anne-Hathaway-Oceans-8

My Rating

4.5/5.

Winter Reading List ❄️

Putzel (4)

I didn’t do so badly with my Autumn Reading List, crossing off all but one of the books I’d planned to read.

I’ve been reviewing them where I can on the #onewomanbookclub tag (which you can access via the menu up there at the top, if you wish). And now it’s Winter and that means I’m even less inclined to leave the confines of my cosy, messy flat unless I absolutely have to – perfect reading conditions.

Here are the books I’m planning to devour over the next few months. You might notice a theme:

Little Deaths

I’m a few chapters in and this already has me hooked. I bought this because I thought it was the next book by The Girls author Emma Cline. It’s not, and I’m an idiot but it was a happy accident as this is written beautifully and has a sheen of mystique to it that I so far love.

Oh, the synopsis? Ruth Malone is an attractive single mother of two kids who go missing one day in 1965. When the police make a horrifying discovery, all eyes point to the woman in charge of their care – and her provocative appearance and ‘questionable” lifestyle do not go in her favour.

Because of course they don’t.

The Devotion of Suspect X

This book had me at ‘The Japanese Stieg Larsson’ tbh. Which is one of the taglines printed on the cover. I didn’t even look deeply into what it was about, just clicked buy and here we are.

For those interested this is Amazon’s synopsis, in a nutshell:

Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one day, her comfortable world is shattered.

It’s well rated and it’s been compared to one of my favourite authors so I doubt I’ll be disappointed. I’m a massive fan of Asian cinema (mainly Korean) so I’m expecting to be blown away. No pressure, Mr Higashino.

Final Girls

I’m cheating a little bit by including this on the list as I’ve just finished it. I thought it was worth a mention anyway. I’m intrigued always by the concept of the Final Girl and this takes that a little bit further by offering us three real life versions.

When the original FG, Lisa seemingly kills herself, it’s up to her fellow club members to find out what the fudge happened, and why. Given that our main FG, Quincy Carpenter has a massive hole in her own memories of that night at Pine Cottage… she might already have more than her fair share to contend with.

I think I’m going to review this in a couple of days so you can find out if I like it or not. Spoiler alert – it was okay.

Alex

This was passed on to me by my lovely friend Alice and I can’t wait to get stuck in. She handed me a pile of horrid sounding thrillers which is both amazing and a little disconcerting. The comfort I get from reading/watching horror/thrillers is hard to explain and sometimes feels like my dirty little secret so when someone else just gets it, it is amazing but odd.

Amazon’s synopsis:

Alex Prévost – kidnapped, beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a wooden cage – is in no position to bargain. Her abductor’s only desire is to watch her die.

Doesn’t sound like a walk in the park now, does it?

Six Four

Another Japanese crime thriller that is meant to be unique and fantastic. I couldn’t be more in. Again, I haven’t really done too much digging about this one but I am expecting to be impressed.

Amazon’s synopsis:

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

The Roanoke Girls

Sometimes, when I see a book has been recommended by the Richard and Judy Book Club it makes me want to avoid it. But this looks too good to pass up. Another book about family secrets and mysterious girls – delicious.

Amazon’s synopsis:

The girls of the Roanoke family – beautiful, rich, mysterious – seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them that’s never spoken.

Ooooooooooooooh!

Under the Skin

Last but not least, a book I’ve been intending to pick up for a long time, even before I saw the deeply weird film versionWhat Page Are You On mentioned it in their episode about book to film adaptations and I took from that that this is far more accessible than the Scarlett Johansson starring movie (which I loved but found very hard going).

I’m not a massive sci-fi nerd really (besides Star Wars) but I think the earthly setting and seductiveness of main character Isserley will keep me gripped. Here’s hoping.

What are you guys reading? Let me know!

What I’m Listening To: Podcasts

scar

I am a very easily influenced person. This means that I am constantly being inspired by other people on books, films and things to listen to (as well as make-up, fashion, anything).

About a year or so ago I feel in love with Serial and it started me on my podcast journey, which has been nothing short of joyful tbh. Most of what I listen to has a true crime vibe because that’s what I dig and there’s nowt more queer than folk, etc but I also love film based content (such as the mighty Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review which I’ve definitely mentioned before).

Once I’d rinsed Serial, I was left adrift until I started to listen to the wise words of Twitter (my favourite space on the internet, yo). So many recommendations come from there and now I have a cornucopia of choice.

This is what I’ve been listening to recently:

TW: I highly recommend all these podcasts, however some contain triggering events and language that should be approached with caution.

Criminal

There are 42 episodes in this podcast so far and each one is a real gem. Even the ones which have slightly less dramatic subject matter are compelling. Each story is about a crime and these range from the absolutely fantastical to plain bizarre.

I’m working backwards (after finding it easier to listen on Soundcloud) and am currently on episode 23. My favourite stories so far have been Angie, The Stay and P.D.I.D (which made me furious). Special mention to the bonkers Animal Instincts and Dropping Like Flies – honestly, you’ll learn things you’re never even imagined here.

Criminal was co-created by Lauren Spohrer, Phoebe Judge and Eric Mennel, and launched in January 2014 – and I have to say I really like Phoebe’s approach to the weird and wonderful people she speaks to.

I recommend this series if you’re new to crime podcasts because the shorter episodes are very easy to digest but I warn you: they’re crazy addictive.

Sword and Scale

Sword and Scale is similar to Criminal in the sense that it covers true crime stories but the episodes are longer and seem much heavier for that. Maybe it’s just me.

I’m new to this one but have so far enjoyed (if that’s the word) some astonishing tales, including Episodes 63 & 64, which tell the horrifying story of Doctor Macneill, a handsome and charming man with a dark heart and Episodes 5 & 6 which outline a conspiracy so heinous your head might explode (I’m still thinking about it).

Special thanks to Bethany for talking about this podcast (also Criminal) and then mentioning the latter episodes. I Twitter-dropped and followed your recommendation.

serial-social-logo

Serial (Season 2)

Serial Season 1 told us the story of Adnan Syed, a high school senior accused of (and imprisoned for) killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. It was fascinating and addictive and my first regular foray into this medium.

When I found out there was a second season I was stoked but it’s a separate and very different story this time around. This time we study Sargent Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier who was captured and then held prisoner by the Taliban.

Now, as with the first season it has to be said that the story isn’t clear-cut and things as they say may not be what they seem. I’m only a few episodes in but am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Who knows what my final opinion on Bergdahl will be, or whether we’ll ever know the truth about what really happened the day he was captured? It doesn’t really matter though, this is his story and it’s addictive.

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How Did This Get Made?

Bar our friendship, I think HDTGM is the greatest gift Meghan of That’s Lightletainment has ever given me. It’s brilliant and right up my street.

Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (all actors themselves) love bad movies and talk about them passionately with special guests on the regs. I absolutely love June (from Burning Love mostly) but the trio together make horrible films, such as Glitter, The Wicker Man (remake) and Crank 2: High Voltage three times more hilarious and enjoyable.

My favourites so far have been: Rhinestone (a film starring Dolly and Sly Stallone, what more do you need?), Barb Wire and Catwoman. Very special mention to one of my all-time favourite bad movies, I Know Who Killed Me (honestly, ask me how much I love it). Oh god, and check out the episode on Deep Blue Sea which is epic.

The best thing about this podcast is that there are so many episodes I still have to watch. Honestly, there’s not enough time in the day for podcast listening.

Read more about Meghan’s podcast recommendations here.

So that’s what gets me through my working day. I’ve not been organised enough to get these on my iPod/phone yet but I know when I do I will look at walking/working out in a whole new light.

Are you a podcast listener? What do you recommend? Go! ❤