Three Thousand Years Of Longing (2022)

The cinema poster for Three Thousand Years Of Longing. Idris Elba towers behind Tilda Swinton, around the edges of the frame are assorted historical figures.

I missed this in the cinema so I gave an excited but slightly worried squeak when I saw it had come on to Amazon tonight. Would I like it?

Since my life isn’t long enough to waste writing negative reviews, you know that I loved it.

I was looking forward to it because I’m a huge fan of George Miller. You know, the guy who wrote and directed the Mad Max films. You say, ‘oh the ACTION director’ and then I counter with Babe, Babe: Pig In The City, Happy Feet 1 & 2 and, of course he produced the outrageously overlooked The Year My Voice Broke and its sequel, Flirting. How’s that for a fucking CV? This motherfucker has more range than twenty average filmmakers.

Sheba has her very hairy legs shaved by a servant while the Djinn kisses her.

From the first narration by the, er, Narratologist, 3KYOL hooked me and each scene plunged the barbs deeper into my stupid mouth. As ever, I’m going to try and keep spoilers to a minimum but what I can talk about is the richness of this film. The basic plot you need to know is this: woman who is a professional analyst of myths finds a Djinn, a genie. And he needs her to make three wishes.

This is a film, like The Banshees Of Inishirin or Everything Everywhere All At Once, that makes you realise how truly awful most cinema blockbusters are. How pretentious, smug, asinine and hugely, hugely lazy they’ve become. And I don’t just mean Marvel and DC, though they seem to be trademarking smug complacency as a film genre lately.

A huge room full of colourfully-dressed people. A sultan has his favourite concubine drawn up by his servants.

Born into this ‘will this lukewarm vomit do?’ film culture, 3KYOL is a defiant howl, a shriek, a refutation of the erasure of wonder and intricacy from cinema. The mise-en-scene is marvellous, we’re transported from one story to the next and each is a pageant of saturated colours, and supernatural sounds, of scenes that look painted as much as filmed. The score, by Junkie XL, supports the stories incredibly well and I’ve been listening to it again whilst writing this. It’s going to be a future favourite, for sure.

But the faultless CGI, the haunting music, all would be empty bluster if it wasn’t balanced by the story. Here, the writers (Miller and Augusta Gore) weave the whole arc of the film out of a series of smaller stories that are like the courses in a sumptuous meal. You never want to stop eating as you’re enjoying each dish so much but you also want to know the whole meal, to hold the experience in your head as well as belly. I really did not want this film to be over, I loved the stories of the Djinn’s fall so much. Each had that fairytale inevitably that the best stories do; they have their own undeniable flow and power and the best writers know they can never guide them, they can only move out of the way or be drowned.

On the left, Tilda Swinton, on the right, Idris Elba with pointy ears as he is portraying a Djinn. A still from the film Three Thousand Years Of Longing.

The film (because, yes, hold on, I must remember, this is a film) uses the growing relationship of Swinton and Elba as its trunk. This could have all gone terribly wrong had either of them not had the chops or if their union had lacked chemistry. But they do and it does not. So they sell the heart of the whole film: this is a love story about love stories and about love and the love of stories. This layering, of a Narratologist telling her love story and even, as we see in a couple of scenes, occasionally lying is delightfully complex. It’s a confounding puzzle that I’m sure I will love more with each viewing as I see yet more layers I missed this first time round. The slow burn of the central couple keeps us guessing as much in their body acting as in the words they use. I loved their approach/retreat confusion, it was so endearing and thus the sweeter when it was broken. Again, layers. Swinton and Elba are adult lovers, they have a depth and realism in this fantasy film that’s sadly missing from most ‘realistic’ cinema. I can’t tell you how much it means to me, to see people acting as real lovers do. Maybe we’re only allowed to see this in fantasy now? If so, what does that say about our culture?

On the left, a woman screams, on the right some kind of spider demon gnashes its dripping maw

This film made my heart leap and soar. I wanted so, so much for the lead characters. In the sub-stories, I was entranced by every idiosyncratic detail and many of the images are now with me forever. Which is why this is great cinema. In his direction, in his storytelling about storytelling, Miller has yet again broken through the boundaries of the form without explicitly breaking the fourth wall. As much as the Everycity of Babe: Pig In The City, he’s stretching and warping what we usually accept as part of the film we are served. This is what Miller does – he’s the motherfucker that gave us Erik’s Opera and Will & Bill The Krill. He is perhaps one of the most adept living storytellers, able to operate on multiple narrative levels concurrently while others can’t even manage one.

But more importantly, this is a beautiful film about love and honesty and hurt and the things we all put away in boxes, some named, some un-named. Anyone who has ever loved and lost will see a part of their story in this film, somewhere. It’s an entreaty as much as it’s a warning, it’s an invitation to feel and be free, to take that chance and make that connection.

Does it have a happy ending?

That depends on who you are and what you want from your stories about love.

The End Of Carnival Row

Vignette and Philo, almost kissing, face to face, her wings are extended

It’s hard to believe I first wrote about Carnival Row four years ago.

A lot has happened in this human world since 2019. I mean, hoo boy, a lot.

I’m a different person to the one who wrote that review. My health has been seemingly permanently impaired. Also my heart.

So, I returned to the Row with not a few worries and reservations. Would my initial love be betrayed by a lack of substance compared to the first series? Could the show elaborate on the themes that first engaged me without wearing them threadbare?

My fears were baseless.

If anything, this last series has made me wish for more, for other chances to visit the world it’s set in which is, yes, often terrible but also often wondrous. I love the Fae and I would love to hear more about the different types, their lore and histories up to the steampunk setting of Carnival Row. There is so much richness here to be mined, you could easily set six or more spin-off series just within the history we’ve heard so far.

Agreus and Imogen sitting on the bank of a river, seemingly looking round. They are both dishevelled.

This series, Carnival Row has concentrated equally on the intra-human politics as the Fae/human. We have the conflict with the New Dawn, Carnival Row’s version of a commie uprising and the way it causes mayhem internationally but also within the previously impermeable love of Imogen and Agreus. It was fascinating to see them struggle with the racial prejudice of their homeland versus the class hatred of the New Dawn.

Personally, I’m always going to be a New Dawn supporter, if only because Agreus’ bizarre Randian monologue sounds like a thirteen-year-old Trumpian. Joanne Whalley totally inhabited Leonora (hmmm… sounds like, Leon, no?) with exactly the right balance of intellect and passion to make a passable charismatic revolutionary.

Leonora, leader of the New Dawn, confers with the Sparas.

I particularly loved the ending – the writers gave a decent conclusion to the major drama points about the assassin Sparas and pogrom in the Row whilst still having a decent, solid epilogue. There’s one scene, when Imogen and Agreus kiss in public at their light show, that is perfect. The entire crowd clap but one lady looks shocked and hesitant until her husband elbows her into joining the applause. And, just like that, society has changed. What was once shocking is now the norm and what was once the norm is now impolite. It’s a wonderfully observed bit that says more in five seconds about contemporary society than decades of other dramas.

Philo’s speech to Parliament was, I believe, written specifically to make me cry. Me and every other person who’s ever had to live between two cultures, between two worlds. Anyone who’s ever been othered by the majority, who’s longed to fit in and, finally, realised that they will never fit in. You will always, always, always be an outsider. I’d like to think I’d make the same choice Philo did but I don’t know if I’m that good or that principled.

Jonah, now chancellor and Sophie Longerbane sitting by his side.

If I had one wish it’s that Sophie and Jonah had found happiness. Yes, it was still an excellent storyline and helped delineate the overall New Dawn arc but, my god, I just wanted her to succeed and for Jonah to be seduced by her obvious fire. That’s a ship I’d sail on, yep.

But then, against all the odds, we did finally get Vignette and Tourmaline. I was so sure either one or both would die in the battle or be shredded by the Sparas, I had my cushion up near my eyes during all those bits. But, woah, they made it! I admit, I did tear up at their wedding even though it was 100% Fae whimsy overdrive.

Millworthy and Philo stroll down a sunny, happy Carnival Row.

I grinned and laughed and cried at Philo’s last amble down the row. I feel like I know this place, like I know its people. I can’t believe they’re just going to put it all inside the story box and that’s it, done, goodbye forever, fuckers.

To see the Row, happy again, full of colour, open and with no nets is so joyful. It’s so full of life and possibilities and this hodgepodge of different peoples all just rubbing along, it is juicily vibrant. I wish I lived there rather than here and now.

I really do.

“What happens next?”

“I suppose we’ll have to find out.”

Home Again (2017)

If you want a feel good film that might make you shed a lil tear of awh but leaves you smiling, this should do the job!

There are romances, there are kisses, there are un-requited passions but there is only one really ridiculous sequence, the rest is very lifelike. The film delivers the hardest thing: make drama seem like everyday life while still being drama.

Excellent performances all round, a hugely refreshing absence of 1950s gender stereotypes and.. you know… some realness in the fantasy!

Above all, it’s an ensemble piece and great to watch a group of actors just having such great chemistry with each other, including the kids who are just too sweet!

Cyberpunk 2077 – A Review After Playing for 130+ Hours

Well, I finished it. It had a nice, elegiac ending.

It’s such a mixed game. For the graphic designers, I’d easily give them 11/10 as there’s so much work and love gone into every little detail of the game. It’s just sad a lot of it takes time to rez in or disappears in front of you, totally spoiling the immersion

The same with the sound design – there’s some lovely touches but they become lost in NPCs talking over an incoming phone call or eerily silent gunfights / running / vehicles.

This is a game that bothered to mocap a really fat bloke walking but then clunkily replicates that on screen so you have a synchronised team of fat blokes.

So much time and trouble over the minutiae of a game, far, far more than a lot of others but the actual bones (NPC AI, cop AI, rendering) are all broken and jutting out awkwardly, probably in a T-pose.

And if you’re a PS4 player… well, CP2077 is to Horizon Zero Dawn as Paul Blart: Mall Cop is to Serpico. The narrative is never more than kid level, YA would be a stretch as that implies more ambiguity and fewer archetypes/cliches.

tl;dr – damn, you could have been sooooo good, what a fucking missed opportunity…

My Very Short Review Of The Sony Xperia 5

I had high hopes for this phone, I’m looking to replace my Samsung Note 10 Plus because the in-screen fingerprint sensor basically is shite.

So, unboxed the Sony, lovely lovely, booted aaaaand…

What a wonderful start!

Okay… let’s reboot. Hmmm… seems a bit hot at the back. Ah, I’m sure it’ll be okay…

…..aaaaand back in the box you go, Sony Xperia 5, you dodgy piece of crap…

Carnival Row

I wasn’t expecting much of Carnival Row. I put it on just to have something to watch while eating my tea. The foundations of my prejudice were twofold. First, that many Amazon Originals are as lethargic and under-edited as their Netflix cousins, second, the casting of Cara Delevingne.

If that sounds mean, you’re misunderstanding. I think Delevingne is a good actress and, obviously, a great beauty. Had she been born earlier, she would surely have been a megastar of the old studio system, a Harlow, a Hepburn. But she seems to have a knack for picking…. not great projects. Valerian, Suicide Squad, Pan… I think the last film where she actually got to display her talent and not merely her looks was Paper Towns and that was way back in 2015.

So, it makes me truly happy to say that, finally, Delevingne has both a role and a project worthy of her. Rene Echevarria’s Carnival Row is a fantasy set in a quasi-Victorian world. The world is divided between humans and the Fae, mythical beings such as fairies, kobolds and satyrs. Not steampunk, steampuck. Delevingne plays Vignette, a fairy who was once in love with a human soldier called Philo (short for Rycroft Philostrate, played by Orlando Bloom). Thinking him dead in the war, she is greatly put out when she pitches up in the city of Burgue to discover him hale, hearty and now a police inspector:

Their romance; the fights, the kisses, the misunderstandings is sweet, believable and, unlike most fictional couples, I didn’t want to vomit every time they were being flirty (see Valerian). Bloom’s gruff ‘copper wiv ah ‘eart of gold’ is a charming foil to Delevingne’s peppery, ferociously focussed fairy.

If this was it, Carnival Row would have enough to keep me watching. But where it excels is that this is only one of several stories which it skillfully interleaves such that the viewer never tires of one particular thread.

Pictured above are Agreus Astrayon (puck) and Imogen Spurnrose (human). Their story is a delicious slow burn with plunges into quality bickering and hugely entertaining high-society cringefests.


If I had a subheading for Carnival Row, it would be FORBIDDEN PASSIONS. It delights in exploring the constructed world’s societal norms / taboos and those who dare to break them. Whether it’s incest, homosexuality or inter-species sex, Carnival Row is going to go there.

Oh yes. It’s like your browser history.

Repeatedly, characters in Carnival Row walk to the edge of what is normal, what is allowed, what is polite and then cross that line. The most poignant of these moments is between various couples and these exchanges are the most affecting of the whole show. I’m lucky enough to know the electric, transformative power that kind of an intimate relationship can have. This is the only television drama I’ve yet seen to depict that with more reverence than prurience. If you’ve ever looked into someone’s eyes and shivered because they are changing you, stretching you, freeing you in ways you could not previously countenance, you will find yourself in Carnival Row, as I did. There is an emotional realism in this fantasy show that outdoes numerous plodding, ‘realistic’ Scandi crime dramas.

Carnival Row is a better show than Game of Thrones. It has better writing, better acting, better direction and, crucially, it’s about something more than closeness to a book or fan service.

Not just something, it’s about the most important questions humans can consider. It’s about morality, it’s about law, government, immigration, xenophobia. It’s about those in power who use chaos and pain for their own gains, whatever the cost in lives lost and tears shed.

I’ve just watched the end of the last episode of series one and it had me in bits. Delevingne and Bloom were perfect in the final scene, their story was the lynchpin of all those interweaving storylines finally coming together. Carnival Row is compelling without sinking into mawkishness. It makes cogent, informed and insightful points about our contemporary world, the antithesis of clunky ‘message’ shows which ulitmately render evil banal and the viewer apathetic. In the bestest way, this is destabilising, unsettling TV.

Carnival Row is easily the best TV of 2019. It will probably become one of my favourite shows ever (as long as subsequent seasons don’t piss on this head start). So, like all the best people of the Burgue do, ignore your prejudices and give Carnival Row a go.

My Review Of The ASUS ROG Strix GL703GM-EE063T 17.3-Inch FHD 120 Hz with 3 ms Screen Gaming Laptop (Black) (Intel i7-8750H Processor, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB PCI-E SSD + 1 TB HDD, NVidia GTX 1060 6 GB, Windows 10)

I don’t doubt the gaming calibre of the latop; it’s all there. What I do doubt is that anyone could use it as a daily PC without being driven insane by the (stereo) fans. From the get go, this machine was like standing behind an RB211 and that was with it doing nothing. Literally nothing, all apps shut. As soon as you fire up a browser, you’re caught up in even more noise and there’s a little old lady threatening to get you and your little dog too.

I went into the settings. I switched the fans into what Asus egregiously call ‘silent’ mode. Hey, Asus, if that’s silent then I’m a gherkin. I went online, SURELY people aren’t putting up with this fan noise, there must be a hack, some kind of BIOS setting I’d missed or peekypokey work-around.

Nope. The most helpful post suggested wearing headphones whilst playing games.

Look, with the Nvidia and the 120Hz and the RGB blah blah, there’s no doubt this is capable of delivering solid gaming performance but I cannot recommend this machine for any other purpose than playing a very loud game. With headphones on.

I’ve since returned this machine to Amazon and am typing this review on it’s replacement: a Lenovo P71. Boring, no RGB. BUT it is absolutely whisper quiet as I’m typing this, my central heating is way louder. Waaay better trackpad too.


Destination Star Trek 2018

So, last weekend was the long-awaited DST 2018. When I say long-awaited, I booked the hotel room over eighteen months ago. And then, finally, it was time! Like DST 2016, my bff Nat went with me. This is us: 

DST 2018 - 101

This is the second time DST has been held in the NEC at Brum and it was much better organised than last time. We didn’t have to queue at all for registration and were soon in Hall 5 on Friday afternoon where we saw this: 

DST 2018 - 003

WHAT A MASSIVE HALL! Have Showmasters gone mad? Well, no, Fridays are never busy for DST, it turns out that around 14,000 people were going to attend on Saturday. So, Friday evening was actually a chill day to walk around and grab impulse buys of maybe huge amounts of fudge. 

There are different tiers available for DST but I only ever book the base one; entry and that’s it. This is because although I do love seeing famous Trek actors, I’m not a collector type. I go to DST to hang out with other Trekkies and to make new friends. Or to meet people I’ve chatted with in the online groups IRL for the first time, like this feller: 

DST 2018 - 032

For me, meeting people who UNDERSTAND and laugh when I wave my arms around and shout, “FISH! PROTEIN! FRESH FROM THE SEA!” is delightful. In a life of outsiderness, I feel I belong, just for a weekend.

I met so many lovely geeks, we couldn’t speak fast enough to get our geekness out! We discussed David Warner, James Cromwell, Servalan, Warehouse 13, SAMANTHA CARTER, whether Larry Niven should have got royalties from Microsoft for Halo or is that more of a Banks’ Orbital? 

And then, wandering around the con… LOOK AT ALL THE COSPLAYERS: 

DST 2018 - 072

DST 2018 - 021

DST 2018 - 006

DST 2018 - 127

The feeling of camaraderie, the inclusivity and sheer IDGAFness of Trekkies at DST has to be experienced first-hand to believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been with a more mixed bunch of people. I say that after every DST but it both remains true and becomes truer, paradoxically. 

I believe that because Discovery has done so well, Trek is now undergoing a resurgence not seen since the 2009 Kelvin reboot. But, unlike then, DST is up and running, a huge convention that attracts fans from as far away as Australia. A huge number of the Discovery cast were at DST 2018 and judging from the number of Disco tees and full-on cosplays I saw, they can congratulate themselves that the baton has been securely passed to them, no fumbles. Their success has created whole new cadres of Trekkies who’ve gone online, wanting to meet other fans. And now they can do that IRL too. 

So many of the posts I saw were from people who’d never been to any kind of con before at all, like me in 2012 with the first DST. And the follow-up posts I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly positive: the new fans have found the family of Trek. They’ve found that we don’t care if you’ve loved Trek for five minutes or fifty years, if you’re a fan, you’re a fan. (As long as you interact civilly.)

Look at these faces: 

DST 2018 - 104

DST 2018 - 091

DST 2018 - 089

DST 2018 - 085

DST 2018 - 081

These beautiful geeks are the reason I went to DST 2018 and will be going to DST 2019. They are my people and I love them! 

Live long and prosper! ??????

Gotham And Mr. J

Cameron Monaghan has already been in a load of series that I love; The Mentalist, Fringe, Numb3rs, Monk, Malcolm In The Middle.

But seeing him here portraying a young… you-know-who… well, he’s certainly got great things ahead of him.

Meanwhile, Gotham unbelievably gets better every episode, the writing is absolutely spot-on. The ensemble cast is spectacular, no weak links whatsoever. And the DC universe has a wonderful show here which is an open invitation to newbies, drawing them into decades of drama.

As a Marvel fan, I only wish there was something of this calibre for our universe – we’re owning the big screen at the moment but small screen we’re way behind. Daredevil is a step in the right direction but it’s Netflix-only at the mo and I doubt it’ll have the Marvel equivalent of the gamut of characters thatGotham fields.

Gotham – I have no idea what they’ll do next episode. And, in a world overflowing with painfully prurient procedurals, that’s why it’s brilliant telly.