Overall, 2015 was a highly satisfactory cultural year for me. I went to some cracking musical events including gigs by: The Prodigy, Johnny Marr and the Nozstock Festival. I attended the theatre more times than ever before notably Gypsy, View From The Bridge and Oppenheimer and watched some fine live comedy by Paul Foot and Stewart Lee. I also witnessed some marvellous television shows, both new and on catch-up including: Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle 3, Better Call Saul, Daredevil, Going Clear, American Horror Story (Seasons 1 & 2), South Park, Doctor Who, Gomorrah, Fargo (Season 1) to name a few.

Of course, the cinema remains my church; the hallowed place at which I preserve my holiest of prayer and last year was very enjoyable. Some big blockbuster films like Spectre and The Force Awakens were decent entertainment but not as great as many said. Marvel continued to hoover up the profits on behalf of Disney and their Age of Ultron was a decent enough episode in the franchise. So, here are my favouritest films I saw last year. They are not necessarily the best or most artsy but they are the ones where I left the cinema feeling uplifted intellectually and emotionally.  Either that or they were just bloody good entertainment!

Here they are in alphabetical order with marks out of 11 plus a quote from my original review.


ANT-MAN (2015)

“It’s simplistic narrative-wise but what it does have is a fizzing script full of zingers and comedic moments as well as some great action set-pieces built around a complex but well-orchestrated final act heist.” (Mark: 8.5 out of 11)


“This is a stunning drama which leaves you battered and burnt emotionally.  It’s about a civil war in Africa and the child soldiers whom are ripped from their families and made to fight for despotic mad men. Don’t watch if you are easily upset.” (Mark: 9 out of 11)

BIRDMAN (2014)

“. . .an intellectual and artsy dark comedy about loads of stuff involving: celebrity, identity, artistic credibility, insanity, family, f*cked up egos, vanity as well as analysing the creative process. It is NOT a superhero film but a satire on that kind of thing” (Mark: 9/11)

CAROL (2015)

“Todd Haynes beautifully shot and designed period love story has a standout performance from Cate Blanchett and great support from Rooney Mara. . . poetic storytelling, deft direction, stunning design and photography plus the cinematic score of the year from Carter Burwell.”  (Mark: 8.5/11)

DHEEPAN (2015)

“. . . brilliant character study about immigrants in France, attempting to forge a life in the crime-ridden estates of Paris. What starts as a humane tale of survival crosses over into explosive thriller territory by the end.” (Mark: 9/11)


“A powerful and haunting tragedy with incredibly subtle direction, this complex psychological thriller which shines a light on billionaire John DuPont and his fascination with fraternal Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz” (Mark: 9/11)

JOHN WICK (2014)

“As John Wick, Keanu Reeves absolutely blows the back doors off as a “retired” assassin who rampages after the gangsters who killed his dog.” (Mark: 8.5/11)



“Pitch perfect pace and delivery by cast and crew as the script hybridizes kitchen sink, action and spy genres. To quote the parlance of our age: “The film is well sick, bruv!” (Mark: 9/11)



“It’s weird, wonderful and very funny as Colin Farrell plays a single man – in the not-too-distant-future – who has a limited time to find a mate or he’ll be turned into an animal of his choice. Obviously, he chooses the eponymous crustacean and what ensues is a peculiarly dark and hilarious satire of human relationships and dating mores. . . “ (Mark: 9.5/11)



“There isn’t really any plot to speak of on the Fury Road but what you get is an incredible visual feast with carnage galore and some incredible stunts in a barren yet beautiful desert setting.  Hardy and Theron share great chemistry within the action and Miller executes some mesmerising moments of dialogue-free pure cinema.” (Mark: 9.5/11)


“. . .if you like any of the following: TimeCrimes (2007), Looper (2012), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), Time After Time (1979), Back to the Future (1985), The Terminator (1984), Doctor Who etcetera… then do watch this one. It’s a fine low-budget time-travel film starring Ethan Hawke and breakout performance from brilliant Sarah Snook.” (Mark: 9/11)

WHIPLASH (2014) 

“Echoes of Officer and a Gentlemen (1992) and Full Metal Jacket (1987) with the fearsome Drill Sergeant battering the young grunts but at a middle-class music school – sterling stuff! (Mark: 9/11)


WILD TALES (2015) 

“. . . delivers a dark sarcasm and hilarity via six separate stories concerning themes of: revenge, political corruption, class division and bloody violence! It opens with a breath-taking little prologue featuring a horrific incident on a plane and culminates in arguably the wildest tale when the Bride goes on the rampage at her wedding. The film delivers a full deck of twists that master of the macabre Roald Dahl would be proud of.” (Mark: 10/11)



This will be my final Screenwash in this format. From next year I won’t review EVERYTHING I have seen but do a more qualitative review of something I really loved or hated with a little round-up of other stuff. I think it’s good to mix up the format in order to keep it fresh for 2016. Anyway, along with battling flu I managed to watch quite a lot of stuff in December at the cinema and via the usual channels. Marks as usual are out of eleven!



This show is disgusting but I love it.  A true must for horror show addicts with all manner of death and mayhem in two seasons of sick, perverse and grim nastiness. Both Murder House and Asylum are the stuff nightmares are made of. Highly recommended. (Mark: 9 out of 11)


Thor stars in a Michael Mann cyber-thriller which was panned by critics but isn’t actually that bad. Hacker-action dramas never quite come off on the big screen but Chris Hemsworth and some okay twists make this worth watching I guess. (Mark: 6 out of 11)


Todd Haynes beautifully shot and designed period love story has a standout performance from Cate Blanchett and great support from Rooney Mara. The majestic score and perfect direction make this filmmaking of the highest quality and Oscars beckon come award season. The story could have been slightly more dramatic in places but Haynes goes for mood and subtlety rather than soapy melodrama and is to be commended for such a stylish work of film art. (Mark: 8.5 out of 11)


They don’t make them like this epic love story anymore. Beautiful Julie Christie and dashing Omar Sharif are red-star crossed lovers caught amidst the bullets and snow of revolutionary and war-torn Russia. This is stunning and epic filmmaking from David Lean with a haunting score and incredible cinematography. (Mark: 8.5 out of 11)

FOCUS (2015) – NOW TV

I like a good con film and this one starring attractive couple Will Smith and Margot Robbie is a fast-paced and fun double-twister with ups and downs and turns and burns throughout. (Mark: 7 out of 11)


This is a tremendously odd yet moving character study of Frank, the leader of an experimental rock band who happens to wear a papier-mache head to mask him from the world. Domnhall Gleeson excels as the keyboardist coerced into the mayhem as he attempts to apply order to a chaotic creative process. Yet, Michael Fassbender is phenomenal as the tragic and titular lead. (Mark: 8.5 out of 11)


Excellent naturalistic drama centred on the final day in the life of Oscar Grant who was shot by police at Fruitvale Station when out on New Year’s Eve. It’s a touching film about an ordinary guy in the wrong place at the wrong time with fine direction and performances. (Mark: 8 out of 11)

THE GIFT (2015)

Joel Edgerton’s creepy film was an excellent exercise in subtle and horrifying low-key thrills as his seemingly meek character unhinges Rachel Hall and Jason Bateman’s middle class world.  This was an excellent slowburner with a wonderful reveal at the end and relied on subtle twists rather than over-the-top action. (Mark: 8 out of 11)


Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1970s stoner detective adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel is stylish and narratively obtuse and doesn’t really add up to much by the end really. However, Anderson is always an interesting director and throws himself at the material with gusto and Joaquin Phoenix’s spirited performance drags you through a pretty pointless exercise in style over content. (Mark: 6.5 out of 11)


Sondheim’s musical gets the Hollywood treatment and it’s big, loud and clever but not really my cup of tea. The meta-references were great as we get: Cinderella, Jack, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Prince Charming all thrown into a heady narrative mix which didn’t quite pay off on the big screen. While the direction is spirited and the musical numbers flawless, it all fell flat as a story for me despite the great cast. (Mark: 6.5 out of 11)


If you like alternative fairytale films then do check out this devilish Christmas film. It’s kind of like Evil Dead 2 meets Bad Santa with a bit of Jaws and Gremlins too. Both funny and scary throughout it’s full of nasty Christmas creatures and is a perfect anathema to those sickly feel-good Christmas stories clogging up the arteries of cinema and TV schedule. (Mark: 8 out of 11)


This is a silly but impressive cop/martial arts 80s pastiche with pumping soundtrack and ultra-violence from Swedish filmmaker David Sandberg.  (Mark: 7 out of 11)


One off Christmas special found Luther “hiding” from the world waiting for contact from Alice. He’s in for a long wait though as it would appear she has been killed in Amsterdam – or has she?!  It was formulaic yet enjoyable cop-genre stuff with Idris Elba owning the screening as he hunts Alice’s killers plus a lunatic serial-murderer.  (Mark: 7 out of 11)

MACBETH (1971)

I’m studying Macbeth to help my son with his GCSE’s and Polanski’s version is a very decent stab at the Bard’s gloomy Scottish masterpiece.  Having seen Fassbender and Cotillard excel in an atmospheric version earlier in 2015, this one is equally bloody and venomous as the foolish Scottish laird falls foul of murder and ambition as his plotting backfires spectacularly. (Mark: 7 out of 11)


Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic nun musical is an opposites-attract-love-story tied up with a formidable musical presentation beautifully performed, choreographed, directed and lit. Julie Andrews is phenomenal in the lead opposite fussy but handsome Christopher Plummer. This is an old favourite with classic songs which definitely stand the test of time. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)


Bong Joon Ho’s impressive socialist Sci-fi actioner is highly original in concept and delivery as a disparate bunch of renegades – including: Jamie Bell, Chris Evans and John Hurt – attempt to gain control of a never-stopping train. Surprisingly never released in the UK I had to order my Blu Ray from New Zealand and it was worth the wait as the film constantly surprises with a decent mix of intelligent action and brutal violence. (Mark: 8 out of 11)


JJ Abrams Star Wars reboot broke not only the internet but also box office records worldwide. It’s a safe and impressive spectacle with – aside from the young hipster Jedi bad guy – bland leads and the best actor jettisoned early (Oscar Isaac) for an uneasy mix of older characters and young ones. The action was breathtaking though and brilliantly done, however, the story was a retread of A New Hope (with female Luke) plus a series of glaring plot holes. Still, loads of action and great bad guys made this a fun blockbuster. (Mark: 7 out of 11)


Dystopian, near-future Aussie Western boasts hard-bitten performances from Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It’s a simple story about a man hunting for his car and the power remains in the understated nihilistic drama and bleak, dusty landscapes. Not a lot happens but it does so with a quiet, memorable power. (Mark: 8 out of 11)

TAKEN 3 (2014) – NOW TV

Liam Neeson smashes up more bad guys in this not-too-bad B-movie thriller. This time the baddies have killed his wife and stitched him up as prime suspect – but will he get out of it!?  What do you think?  Silly, formulaic but watchable stuff!  (Mark: 6 out of 11)


Reliable hard man Jason Statham’s latest B-movie has a very good supporting cast and is passably entertaining but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Having said that Las Vegas always makes an interesting cinematic setting and as a character study of a destructive gambler it works okay. (Mark: 6 out of 11)


This is a gloriously over-the-top grindhouse feature with an alcoholic cop who turns into a vicious lycanthrope hell-bent on murdering those who break the law. It’s stupendously silly but very entertaining nonetheless with some funny blood-letting and howling gore. (Mark: 7 out of 11)




If you go to the Doctor Who Facebook page or YouTube or Radio Times or other online forums, you will find a fanatical passion for the Timelord usually reserved for football teams or religions.  Much of it is high praise, constructive criticism and healthy debates involving: timey-wimey stuff; various plot explanations; merits of favourite Doctors or companions; and that “the old classics are better than the new ones” exclamations etc.  Moreover, there’s also a very negative faction who think they should play two up front, sack the manager, that God is a construct so people can control humanity and your mum’s a dick. Sorry, wrong forums.

Actually, the main negatives from the current Who detractor-fans are: the writing has gone downhill since Moffat took over as show-runner; Capaldi is too old as the Doctor; Clara is a rubbish companion and should die (they got their wish); Season 8 was diabolical and worse than cancer; plus other gripes.  Well, I don’t subscribe to hysteria and hyperbole; after all it’s just a TV show that I enjoy very much.  I do agree though that Season 8 was a bit off due to the Danny Pink/Clara romantic arc that dragged the show into Hollyoaks territory. Furthermore, Moffat was still finding Capaldi’s “voice” as the Doctor too so Season 8 was hit and miss indeed. Yet, there were still some great episodes such as: Listen, Dark Water, Flatline and the joyously dark Mummy on the Orient Express.

As a show-runner the negativity toward Moffat is boring.  He has an excellent imagination and eye for a concept and has written some incredible episodes over the years, many of which I covered in my epic Doctor Who blog tribute that can be revisited here:

Plus, as captain of the Doctor Who ship it is a big responsibility to avoid sinking such a revered national treasure. Indeed, while I don’t like some of Moffat’s tricksy ret-con leaps, at least he strives for originality within a genre formula and more often than not produces moments of brilliant television.

Basically, Doctor Who is a mainstream sci-fi, family TV drama with comedy sprinkled in and as such I watch for entertainment purposes. But it so often is more than that as it offers a grand look at history, space, end of worlds, universes and existence itself. Season 8’s narrative arc involved Missy/Master (splendid Michelle Gomez) wreaking havoc on the new Doctor, who with his new face, had to decide whether he “was a good man”. Well, he decided that he was and in Season 9 he found he had a mission statement too: “I’m the Doctor and I save people”.  The only problem was the Doctor’s actions created the Hybrid or did they? Well, it created the Hybrid arc which permeated a series of mainly two-parters which on the whole were just wonderful. Hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.


The episode opening was a bit of a minefield; literally a minefield of actual “hand” grenades threatening a young boy who happened to be Dalek creator Davros.  We were in Genesis of the Daleks territory where imperious Tom Baker was sent back in time to kill the Daleks at birth.  It was a showstopper and the episode was full of fine moments as Missy popped up again (thought she was dead) with The Doctor’s “confession dial” in hand and having nabbed Clara she went on the hunting for the Doctor.  They found him playing guitar, wearing some neat, gimmicky sonic-sunglasses before he came face-to-face with a dying Davros keen on revitalising himself.

The hybrid theme popped up here with the Doctor using Timelord regenerative energy to reignite the Dalek’s and foster Davros’ wicked plan, which off course backfires on him. Plus, Clara was abused by Missy and made to inhabit an evil Dalek during their escape echoing Oswald’s first appearance from Asylum of the Daleks.  Overall, it was a cracking opening and Capaldi’s little chats with Davros were full of tension and irony.  I especially loved the Dalek sewers full of horrible monsters out for revenge on their Master.  Michelle Gomez shone as the bullying spinster while Capaldi begins with an authority and confidence that became a feature of the season.


Toby Whithouse has created some entertaining Doctor Who episodes including: School Reunion and Vampires of Venice and this two-parter was equally so.  I mean who doesn’t love a ghost story set on an Underwater Base in the future.  Indeed, it’s temporally very tricky and has some wonderful moments and brilliant end-of-episode cliff-hanger where the Doctor himself must die to solve the mystery.

I’m a sucker for paradoxes and these episodes are full of them as the Doctor travels back from 2119 to 1980, crossing his own timeline in order to foil the future ghosts of which he is one. Before the flood he ultimately faces the nefarious Fisher King who is intent on an awakening and having his wicked way with the Earth.  Some wonderful moments include: the scary hollow-eyed ghosts; the deaf character Cass lip-reading the ghosts; some heart-stopping cat-and-mouse chases around the base; the Doctor “cue” cards which prompt more tactful responses; plus the perplexing yet sparkling puzzle box narrative which wraps up an overall fast-paced and fun episode.    


This loose double-header began with a standard Dr Who set-up as he and Clara met with the Vikings and then entered into a war with the space-race, the Mire.  Cue a Seven Samurai style “defending the village” story which featured the wonderful actress Maisie Williams as young Viking storyteller, Ashildr.  There were some great one-liners and humour to be had as well as some soul searching by the Doctor as he conversed with a baby.  The end battle was a bit farcical as the Doctor turns the Mire’s technology against them involving, believe it or not, the Benny Hill theme tune.

The episode then went from okay to amazing when tragedy struck as the Doctor had an incredible epiphany following Ashildr’s death. Using the Mire tech he brings her back to life and there’s the rub because she is now immortal. We then get an incredible montage which finds Ashildr pass through the years unchanged by time. Indeed, the Hybrid theme rears itself again and in The Girl Who Died, the Doctor met Ashildr again and she was now known as ‘Me’.  Williams was brilliant in this episode and her ‘Me’ was an entirely different character: a bitter, world-weary person ravaged by time, experience and loss.  Plot wise the second-part was kind of weak but in terms of character it was very powerful. Now, the Doctor had created a new foe that like him was an ‘immortal’ time-traveller. However, ‘Me’ wasn’t necessarily on the side of good as we would discover later in the series.


In this two-parter the writers showed that primetime television doesn’t have to just be whimsical as the Doctor took on Zygon extremists determined to destroy all humans.  The episode, picking up the plot from Day of the Doctor, was political, allegorical and powerful, with the Doctor acting ultimately as peacekeeper in an attempt to prevent human and Zygon armies from destroying the world. With clear parallels to the current refugee crisis, rise of ISIS and the gung-ho nature of Western Governments the Doctor weaves between the factions as “President of the World” and tricksy Zygons who are body-snatching humans.  There’s some great action and suspense in this two-parter with suspicion falling on friends and neighbours.

The Zygon episodes were full of memorable moments, notably the performances of Ingrid Oliver as Osgood and Jenna Coleman as Evil Clara AKA Bonnie.  Both gave nuanced characterisations in their respective roles and of course both were human/Zygon hybrids.  Coleman especially was excellent and she ultimately revelled in playing a bad girl.  The denouement, however, belonged to Capaldi as he attempts to broker peace amidst the warmongering. He delivers an incredible speech about “Truth or Consequences” of going to war and echoes his pain of feeling following the destructive Time War.


This Mark Gatiss written episode was kind of hung out to dry and thrown away following the previously brilliant two-parters.  While I’m not a fan of found footage horror films this was an interesting experiment which really could have done with another part to wrap up the loose ends.  Stand-out elements included:  a wonderfully unhinged and unreliable narrator in Reece Shearsmith; some witty repartee between Clara and the Doctor; some lovely Macbeth quotes, plus some silly but fun Sandmen monsters which were created from the sleep in our eyes.  Pilloried online by fans I enjoyed the silliness but it felt unfinished as an episode and I hope we get to see Shearsmith’s Dr Rassmussen and his Morpheus monsters again next season.


In a rather interesting spoiler, prior to the start of the season, it was announced that Jenna Coleman would be leaving the show to pursue other acting challenges.  Thus, the episodes were filled with the drama of wondering when Clara’s end would come.   Well, this rather brilliant episode is when it occurred as Rigsy (from Season 8 episode Flatline) popped up with a weird tattoo on his neck. Now this wasn’t a Croydon tramp stamp but rather a countdown to death – Rigsy’s death!  Of course, the Doctor and Clara set about tracking down the people responsible and found themselves in a secret street which housed all sorts of space migrants; like a galactic version of Casablanca. The “mayor” of the street was Ashildr/”Me” who was back doing the bidding of a hidden enemy. Jenna Coleman is brilliant as Clara. As her arrogance causes her demise she begs the Doctor NOT to seek revenge. Yet her death is so dramatic and touching and the Doctor can do nothing to save her, although you sense he will try and bring her back somehow. He won’t give up on Clara: he has a “duty of care” after all.


Peter Capaldi is a triumph in Season 9.  He owns every scene, episode, speech and every furrow of his crinkled brow and sparkle in his eye betrays an actor making the character his own.  I wouldn’t have reignited my love of the Tardis had Capaldi not been cast.  So, after the apparently up-and-down Season 8, which I actually enjoyed mostly, Capaldi, show-runner Steven Moffat, writers, cast and production team  gave us a season full of highs, some dips but overall some stunning and brave television. This was none more so witnessed in the Heaven Sent episode where the Doctor was trapped in his own version of hell.  In an Escheresque prison in which the walls and cells moved the Timelord had to face his demons and death over and over again. It was an episode full of scares and haunting images as the Doctor dies again and again to escape the “confession” trap laid by the Timelords.  In fact, Moffat probably over-eggs the pudding by having the Doctor “live” for over 4 billion years within the parallel hell, but you have to admire the Doctor’s desire for retribution.

Having escaped to, of all places, Gallifrey the Doctor discovers head honcho Timelord, Rassilon, is behind his torture as they were desperate to know about the whereabouts of the “Hybrid”. Quickly dispatching him and the Gallifreyan Council off into exile the Doctor then sets about retrieving Clara from beyond the “Raven”. Here Moffat then does his favourite thing of retroactively rewriting the past by bringing her back in between heartbeats. So, technically she is dead but physically functioning.  Clara and the Doctor then go on the run until the end of time and find immortal “Me” as the only person left alive. The Doctor and “Me” debate the nature of the hybrid before the Doctor decides it is wise, as he has gone “too far”, to blank his mind of Clara thus saving her and ending their partnership.  Overall, it was a heady mix of emotion and science fantasy which didn’t quite gel for me, plus the Hybrid arc was ultimately and classic Macguffin device overall. But Moffat knows how to ratchet up the pace and the concepts and by the end I felt quite giddy.  Clara and “Me” headed off back to Gallifrey, the long way round, and the Doctor headed off alone. Had he forgotten the “impossible girl” – I doubt it somehow!


So with a tremendous raft of episodes in the bank for Season 9 the Husbands of River Song Christmas special was a fluffy addendum to the season.  It was a kind of heist/romance involving stolen heads and villainous space-ships full of mercenaries. It passed the time amusingly save for a wonderfully soppy ending when the Doctor bid fond farewell to his wife, River.  But it was no more than a tasty cherry on the season as a whole, which was a big triumphant and brilliant time cake full of memorable and outstanding ingredients delivered by the awesome Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.



**This contains massive spoilers and offensive language**

Up until 2013 I had only watched a handful of episodes of the irreverent and scurrilous animated show South Park. But since then I have caught up with a hell of a lot of episodes and it has become one of my favourite ever TV programmes and a new season of Trey Parker’s vicious satire is always a highlight of my cultural year. Moreover, one of my most efficient and extensive blog articles was Respect My Authoritah which listed my favouritest seventeen episodes up to Season 16.  Which if you can be arsed can be read here:

Seasons 17 and 18 have come and gone since I wrote that and they had some terrific episodes including my own personal favourites: Informative Murder Porn, Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers, Game of Thrones parodies Black Friday/Song of Ass and Fire, Freemium Isn’t Free, Grounded Vindaloop and #Happy Holograms.  What these and many other previous episodes contained was a keen knowledge of cultural, social and political issues with two parodic fingers on the pulse of the zeitgeist, ripping into many media and political targets. This of course was done while continuing the misadventures of Kenny, Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Randy, Sharon, Mr Garrison and other inhabitants of South Park.

What Season 18 did especially well was to link the episodes with call backs to previous events forming a narrative continuum as opposed to just funny stand alone episodes. This allowed for much joy to be had through individual and connected gags as well more satisfying storytelling. Trey Parker obviously felt this worked so he continued this trend with the whole of Season 19. In fact I felt that this season was the most complete and satisfactory in regard to the humour, themes, continuity and narrative. My teenage son says the earlier ones were much funnier and ruder and less political and perhaps he is right, but I defy anyone to find a more scathing and funny satirical show on TV at the moment.

Season 19 began with Stunning and Brave; and we got a brand NEW character in PC Principal.  It’s risky to bring in new elements to an established show but this character hit the ground running with his muscular Jock-look, frat-boy speech and aggressive politically-correct motivations. The writing illustrated the apparent rise of left-leaning-liberal-movements in society and social media which while having decent motives, have become as fascistic in their application of their ideologies as much as right wingers. Indeed it could be argued people have become scared of saying anything in case it’s racist or sexist or offensive and positive discrimination has become so prominent to blind us to character deficiencies.  Indeed, the episode parodies transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner who has been proclaimed a societal heroine. However, one may argue she is essentially just another media whore seeking attention in any way they can.

Caitlyn Jenner would pop us a running gag and mate of Garrison in the next episode, Where has My Country Gone. The disgraced teacher Garrison is in despair at the Canadian immigrants spoiling his country, so he politicizes himself vowing to fuck all immigrants to death. Eventually he ends up in Canada where it has been revealed that Canadians have fled their country because a Donald Trump like “joke” politician actually won the Presidency.  Garrison fucks fake-Trump to death and this “policy” propels him forward as a Presidential candidate with Jenner alongside him.

What Trey Parker does so well is highlight the ridiculous but dangerous nature of soapbox politics and so-called immigration perspectives. Of course, freedom of speech is important but when a wealthy man shouts loudest we must be wary that apathy and inaction by the majority are his weapons too. The use of the Canadians as the whipping boys of South Park is a recurring theme and of course they are merely symbols for attitudes toward all non-Americans.  There’s also a touching “Romeo and Juliet” subplot involving the ever-innocent Butters and his Canadian love.

Having Garrison run on an anti-immigration ticket causes South Park to be ridiculed on television. The shamed residents led by Randy and the Mayor then attempt upward mobility and get a Whole Foods opened in the town. Such social snobbery satirizes the preposterous idea that where you shop makes you a better person.  As such within the episodes City Part of Town and You’re Not Yelping we get some brutal satire at the expense of gentrification and narcissistic individualist behaviour in which people attempt to give their life meaning by elevating their social shopping status or writing pretentious restaurant reviews. As someone who writes reviews for their own enjoyment I did find it particularly hilarious when Gerald Broflovski (Kyle’s Dad) disappears up his own arsehole while writing his Yelp review.

I personally loved the scathing critique of apparent “hipster” culture and gentrification which invaded this season.  I don’t think it’s because I am old and the hipster is supposedly new and cool. No, it’s because they seem to try too hard to be right on plus why should SOMEONE else’s idea of style be all pervasive. Indeed, the episode Safe Space also rabidly attacks charity and the guilt-induced tactics used on Randy; can it not be free choice rather than a system of control over who one gives money to. Meanwhile, poor Butters suffers once again as he hallucinates via sleep deprivation having had to edit the social media accounts of Cartman, Vin Diesel, Steven Seagal and many more celebrities because of fat shaming. Of course, bullying of any kind is a wicked thing but what Safe Space says is that it’s part of reality and we must change our reality rather than simply edit out all that is negative about our lives.

The next episode Tweek x Craig (which calls back to the 3rd season episode Tweek vs. Craig) finds Trey Parker innovatively incorporating satire of Japanese yaoi art while examining the different parental perspectives when an offspring is thought to be gay.  The episode is hilarious in the stereotypical portrayals of the Chinese but more importantly the ridiculous lengths people will go to appear non-homophobic. Cartman also ends up in “love” too as he finally falls in love with himself; not a pretty sight in the bathroom.

What the season arguably lacked was a great ensemble episode of the boys and their particularly brutally honest and funny interactions; however, we got that with Naughty Ninjas.  Here Kenny and Token then Stan, Kyle, Butters etc. and then Cartman (and then not Cartman) become Ninjas but get mistaken for ISIS by typically idiotic and ignorant South Park residents. The subplot involving police brutality is hilarious as police methods are seen as barbaric and over-the-top in these times of tolerance. Yet, when a tough job has to be done such as clear junkies and homeless away from the Whole Foods, understanding will always needs a baton and jackboot to do its dirty work.

The final triptych of episodes — Sponsored Content, Truth & Advertising and PC Principal: Final Justice — dovetailed all the characters and themes of the previous seven into a wholly satisfying end to the season. Trey Parker’s main target was the oppressive and aggressive nature of advertising which, while a necessary industrial evil has become so sneaky it brainwashes us subliminally reading our search engines and attacking us at every window. The episodes had satirical digs at social-justice warriors and gun control, with a plot that revolved around Leslie a “human” advert that has gone sentient and was attempting to control South Park and the world.  Full of fun surprises and nods to sci-fi classics like Bladerunner (1982) and The Terminator (1984), PC Principal ultimately ends up being a kind of action hero. Overall, the message seems to be that in controlled bursts political correctness is appropriate but we must be wary to avoid following trends and always retain an individual perspective.

Season 19 was a triumph of savage satire, cogent narrative, zeitgeist references, brilliant songs and of course, some gloriously offensive humour. It poses many questions in relation to political correctness and trendsetting progressivism. I personally feel that with the amount of morons and ignoramuses in the world who like nothing more than to oppress people due to their race, country of birth or colour of their skin, political correctness is necessary. However, it is important that such ideologies are not used to make everything homogenized and bland and that freedom of speech is permitted. Ultimately, we can check our privilege but definitely not check our humour because what’s life without it?  Indeed what’s life without South Park:  no life at all?



“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Frederic Nietzsche


I have over the years always wondered why I am alive. I mean: what’s the point of life?  Why are humans here at all?  Are we just animals or are we meant for something more?  God or faith is one such thing that has papered over those cracks for some people. However, I am not a religious person as I prefer to believe in my own eyes, ears and experience. I am open to theories and hypothesis but do not require ideological brainwashing to help me get through the day.

Blasphemy it may be but much of my spirituality is gained from worshipping movies, music, sport and other cultural interests.  Of course, family and loved ones are the priority and quite rightly give my life meaning and structure.  But what keeps a person going from one day to the next?  Money, work, exercise, drugs, travel, hobbies and the sheer desire just to stay alive are up there.  Indeed, fear of the abyss can be another powerful reason to keep going; death is a great motivator!

Generally speaking my philosophy is be good to others, don’t be a cunt and if you can’t be positive make sure your negativity is either funny or interesting. I don’t need a God or a set of spurious ideologies to live my life. But, what I do like though from year-to-year is some kind of creative or personal target with which to propel me through the months. It gives me focus and takes my mind off death. There’s also a delusion in my psychology that perhaps one day my creative ability could get rewarded either in some form of employment or financial reward. You never know! Miracles do happen.

Targets of late have included:

  • Lose weight and get fit.
  • Start a diary where I record my events and thoughts through the year.
  • Write and produce a cultural blog reviewing films, shows and events.
  • Give up smoking.
  • Write and perform comedy at one of the Fringe Festivals.
  • Write, film and edit my own short film productions.
  • To train and achieve a 10 mile distance run within a 12 month period.
  • Do something for a Charity.

I can honestly say I have achieved these targets over the last ten years and in 2015 I decided to set myself another goal. On top of continuing my blog and diary and fitness routines I decided I would set about writing TWELVE short film screenplays in a year. Given I have a full-time job and am a parent this is quite a big ask. But on December 21st 2015 I hit this target! Good for me!!

So, for my own benefit I have listed the short screenplays I have written and the ideas behind them.  Here’s to 2016: small victories are the way forward!

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PAUL MORRIS is owed money by his so-called friend GODDARD and desperately needs it back. However, he’s in for a very long wait.


This is a snapshot story of friendship and betrayal. I wanted to write something that was simple to shoot and also a kind of homage to the opening sequence of Once Upon a Time in America.



Comedy short satirising film shows incorporating reviews, clips and trailers of classic and upcoming film releases.


METRO LIVE is a bold, colourful and fun new TV channel serving London. It’s youthful and energetic and punchy and its USP is many of the shows are presented ‘LIVE’.  SCREENWASH is its ‘LIVE’ weekly movie review show.

The show takes the structure of new movie release reviews; classic DVD/movie reviews; articles on featured movie director/actor; an artistic strand where he champions a gay/lesbian/black Eastern European filmmaker etc.; movie news and forthcoming presentations including trailers; competitions etc.

I basically wanted to embrace my love of movies through quick fire comedy sketches structured within a review show format. I also wanted to satirise the contemporary hipster styles and pretentious nature of arthouse reviewers. It’s probably my most ambitious script as it also incorporates a crumbling relationship between the presenters of the programme.



Postman, JOHN MILLER, gets trapped in a spatial loop on a building stairwell and can find no way of escape.


This story is classic-one-location-short-film-low-budget-territory with a Postman trapped in a spatial-time-loop unable to escape. I was inspired by my love of Dr Who as well as the notion of characters being trapped by circumstances and a dead-end job.




MARTHA FOLEY wakes up one day and finds her every sound, movement and action is replaced by a movie sound effect.


When I was editing my comedy documentary The Rock ‘N’ Droll Experience I used some sound effects and I got the idea from that. I just liked the idea of experimenting with the form and content of sound effects. It’s a simple, silly idea with which to have fun with so for example our protagonist yawns and it sound like a duck quack. There’s no depth involved just a one-joke short.



At the cinema ALICE and her boyfriend JOHN are terrorised by the noises made by fellow filmgoer, DARREN. When an argument ensues between them the characters from the film also take umbrage as chaos ensues.


This was inspired by my own experience of rude crisp and popcorn munchers at the cinema. So I set out to write something ridiculous and funny that deals with that particular pet hatred of mine. The idea of the characters on the cinema screen coming to life and interacting with “real” people is not new and clearly influenced by Woody Allen’s classic Purple Rose of Cairo.



Two strangers reach out for each other on Beachy Head.


This is a very heavy drama about the desire to commit suicide. My filmmaking partner Gary O’Brien suggested I write something about an older man and younger woman but without any suggestion of anything sleazy.  On TV and film older males are often characterised as “dirty old men” and he wanted to portray something nobler. Lastly, I had visited Beachy Head recently and found it to be a beautiful place tinged with a suggestion of tragedy as it is apparently a suicide spot for people in the UK.




HOSTAGE and KIDNAPPER find themselves attracted to each other in twisty crime drama.


Essentially an extended sketch I wanted to write something that was risqué and a little bit saucy so utilised oft-used kidnapping scenario for a dark story with a twist in the tale.



Workaholic JONATHAN LAKE finds himself terrorised by a Shredder while working late at the office.


As someone who has spent long hours missing their family at a dead end job I wanted to do a simple morality horror story. Here the main character is committing more time to work than his family and the Shredder is a necessary evil to remind of what is actually more important.  The horror genre is always good for symbolism of this sort and this film is silly but with a serious message.




The up-and down journey of a bike from the United Kingdom to Africa.


In Britain, millions of bikes are thrown away or lie unused in sheds, whilst many people in Africa have no access to transport of any kind. So, I wanted to chart the story of a bike from the UK and follow its journey to a new home in Africa. A bit of a preachy one this one with a serious message as in the UK and Western world we take so much for granted and chuck things without making proper use of their potential.




SADIE CORT plots evil revenge on the sex-addicted boyfriend who did her wrong!


Good old-fashioned revenge story here with a little twist. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and Roald Dahl this is a sweetly plotted two-hander which I really enjoyed writing because it’s funny and involves bloody death.



Having killed his father and made it look like a suicide, SIMON BORG is hunted down by the tie he strangled GERRY BORG with.


Similar to The Shredder this finds an inanimate object – a Tie – taking on anthropomorphic powers and wreaking havoc.  It’s obviously ridiculous but I like the idea of an object representing an emotion or feeling; and in this case it is guilt.  Also, I love the idea of playing this one straight with heavy drama and homage to Jaws (1975) thrown in.




Following a mysterious time-slip,  KEVIN MANN’S life is thrown into flux when he finds out he has a double.


This idea was inspired by the many doppelganger films and stories around and I wanted to have a go at one of those. I also wanted to write something about a really normal, “boring” person and how they might react to having another version of themselves in existence.




Here’s another filmic sojourn into the roles of one of my favouritest actors. Last time I looked at Robert DeNiro while today it’s the difficult-to-spell yet ultra-talented Jake Gyllenhaal. Jake was a former child actor who has progressed into one of the finest leading acting stars around. Here are SIX of his best roles.



This genre-busting maelstrom of sci-fi-time-travel-teen-rites-of-passage-meets-weird-super-anti-hero movie is obtuse but powerful. Gyllenhaal confirmed himself as a dark, brooding force of nature as the young American being haunted by strange emotions and demonic rabbits. Gyllenhaal’s bravura performance somehow knitted together the string of imaginative concepts and pain of growing up, making this a mesmerizing cult classic.


This beautiful heartbreaker incredibly lost the Best Film Oscar to Crash (2005); but we all know there is no justice in the world kids!   Jake Gyllenhaal’s flashy cowboy falls for Heath Ledger’s less verbose ranch hand in a moving story of forbidden love within a masculine western setting. Gyllenhaal and Ledger are incredible with Ang Lee directing Annie Proux’s story with a deft and wistful touch. Much is made that this is a “gay” film but it is not – it is a very human story which will break the heart of anyone who has struggled in love.

ZODIAC (2007)

While frustrating in terms of satisfactory narrative closure (because it’s a true story, Paul!), David Fincher’s crime classic contains a series of brilliant burnt-out-obsessive performances from Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jnr and Mark Ruffalo. Each character becomes fixated on the identity of the vicious and random Zodiac killer including Gyllenhaal’s comic-strip artist. It’s a slow-burning film which benefits from Fincher’s shadowy style and there’s a palpable sense of creeping paranoia throughout which chills the bones.


I loved this fast-paced, sci-fi actioner with a twist-in-the-tale from Moon (2009) director Duncan Jones.  It’s basically Groundhog Day-on-a-train as Gyllenhaal plays a soldier stuck in an eight-minute-loop trying to both foil a terrorist attack and discover where his identity has gone. The action fizzes along and as the plot twists and turns rarely allowing you to catch breath.  Gyllenhaal carries the film with both physical and emotional power right up to the breathtaking surprise ending.


It was a tough choice between this brilliant crime story and Gyllenhaal’s doppleganging performance in Denis Villeneuve’s weirdly compelling Enemy (2013); however, I chose this one as the story was so enjoyable. Fantastic acting from our mate Jake as the preposterously named Detective Loki tracking down Hugh Jackman’s kidnapped young daughter and her friend. Jackman and Gyllenhaal are both full of obsessive angst and rage in a taut thriller which had me gripped throughout.


Gyllenhaal should’ve been Oscar nominated for this incredible turn as sociopathic self-starting media-bloodhound Lou Bloom. His rendition of Bloom was of a ghost; a shell of a man with little in the way of backstory and yet through his dynamic performance we absorb the horror of his character. I was drawn in so much by Gyllenhaal’s magnetic performance, and the film is a compelling satire on the parasitic press as vampires draining the life out of humanity.



“It’s the end of the World as we know it – and I feel fine!” Michael Stipe

Driven by a romantic fog and a momentary lack of aforethought I bought tickets for a Singlonga Sound of Music (1965) event for my girlfriend’s birthday recently. It’s her favourite musical and I thought: try it – you might enjoy it. Well, I liked the film: an opposites-attract-love-story tied up with a formidable musical presentation beautifully performed, choreographed, directed and lit.

But what I did not enjoy was the preposterous introduction/warm-up compered by a rubbish Drag Queen plus a plethora of drunken morons dressed up as: nuns, Maria, Austrians, brown-paper-and-strings, and a goat!  Actually, I must say, some of the costumes were impressive; but, call me a stick-in-the-mud, I don’t need to fancy-dress up to enjoy something because I have no desire to externalise my personality. I can actually use my brain and a thing called imagination. Still, each to their own I suppose.

Anyway, once the awful horror-show introduction was over the film itself – even the Singalonga aspect – was pretty bearable! The Sound of Music is a good film!  But my underlying memory of the night is of a drunken man dressed as a Nun shouting at the Prince Charles Cinema employee complaining that a member of staff had been rude to his party because they were texting during the film.  His exact words were:

“Your staff are out of order! I want a full apology or we’re going on Social Media to complain.  We’re going on Facebook! THIS WILL GO VIRAL! THEN YOU’LL BE SORRY!!”

And at that moment in time in the Prince Charles Cinema Foyer, as I sipped my Hobgoblin ale from a plastic cup, I recalled idiot global governments bombing hell out of Syria while viewing this over-lubricated Man-Nun yelling; and I just thought we’re doomed as a species aren’t we?! Perhaps not today or tomorrow but, irrespective of all the great things humans have achieved, Judgement Day is inevitable.

What kind of future do you want, Paul, I asked myself?  Why not have a look at some visions of the Apocalypse as seen on the film and television screens. I mean you have to hand it to humanity; it’s able to distract itself from the possible end of the world by creating stories and entertainment ABOUT the end of the world!   Here’s some of the best I could think of.



Poor old Charlton Heston never had much luck with the future as his characters often ended up as dystopic visions of hell. Such films included: Soylent Green (1973), Omega Man (1971) and the classic Planet of the Apes where simian humanoids are running the place enslaving the savage natives.


In between the road-raging original and this brilliant sequel there was some kind of global nuclear meltdown hitherto bringing about a dusty wasteland where fuel is God and humans will kill to get their hands on it!  Mmmm. . . doesn’t sound like now at all does it?


Bloody Internet, sorry Skynet!  We create these wonderful computers to help us with everyday life including our Missile Defence Systems and they turn on us!  Only one man – who hasn’t been born yet – can save us from a life of death and slavery at the hands of the machines. What do you mean: it’s better than your current life?!


Damned Artificial Intelligence enslaving humanity and feasting on our fluids and organs for energy in some sick, twisted vision of a futuristic Harvest festival. Then again, compared to some of the shitty office jobs I’ve had I think I’d choose the Matrix over those; just don’t tell me I’m in the Matrix so I can use films and TV to distract me from my physical torment!


Pissed off that he cannot get the latest Nintendo Wii, impatient Eric Cartman accidentally freezes himself and ends up in a no-religion 2546 future where talking Sea Otters and humans battle it out in a wickedly-funny-Richard-Dawkins-bashing-Buck-Rogers-parodying-classic-two-parter.


In this future we will basically live in the water, grow gills and dirt will be our most priceless commodity. Well, that’s what will occur according to this apocalyptic-polar-ice-caps-melting-earth-swimming-pool-with-pirates movie. At the time it was one of the most expensive film flops in history but actually wasn’t bad with Kevin Costner playing a soaked version of Mad Max.


Seeing someone close to you die in front of your eyes as a child is not a future you really need is it?  Following the opening of this brilliant film prisoners are sent back in time to find the cause of the deadly viral apocalypse. The awesome mind of Terry Gilliam filtering Chris Marker’s classic short La Jetée makes this an intelligent and exciting end-of-the-world blockbuster.


Of course, up and down and across the years the Doctor and his companion(s) have witnessed the end of Earth and time itself on many occasions. In this episode though Rose, in her first adventure with Christopher Eccelston’s Doctor, sees the apocalypse via a satellite station called Platform One. The Sun has expanded yet the destruction of Earth has never looked so stunning, sad or beautiful.


Thoughts on Cinema, TV and Life!