Thursday, 29 May 2014

Interview in Bright Lights


Check out the interview here: http://brightlightsfilm.com/book-torture-porn-talking-dr-steve-jones/#.U4c8__lSYSV

Mattie Do Needs Money

Few films are produced in Laos. Given that Chanthaly was apparently the first Lao horror film and the first Lao feature film directed by a woman, the industry would obviously benefit from funding to help create more. Mattie Do is hoping to raise $30k USD to make her follow-up feature Dearest Sister (Nong Hak). Check out the appeal video below and spread the word. 


If you donate $1k, Mattie will put you up in her guesthouse for a week and you can be a production assistant on the film. $5k will bag you a part in the movie ("Skeevy Sex Tourist") 



To prove I'm putting my money where my mouth is:


...but wait...how much did I donate? Will I be credited as an executive producer...?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

UKitten

Someone sick of UKIP's media domination has created a Chrome extension that replaces images of Nigel Farage with images of kittens
I am not convinced that denial is the best strategy in the face of right-wing domination at the polling station. Besides which, UKitten will prevent people seeing gems such as this:
(If you have UKitten installed, I presume you'll just see a kitten above - in which case, you are missing out)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Trailer Trash: The Lock In (2014)

A found footage film about teens who take a porn mag (*gasp*) into a church... what could possibly happen? DEMONS, I tell you!!
Looks terrible awesome

At least this one was completed (available to stream from the official site). For anyone wondering whatever happened to the found footage anti-porn film Harmless (which I posted about last year), its kickstarter page says it all.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Found (2012) Banned in Australia

Monster Pictures have a habit of picking u controversial films, and Found (2012) is apparently no exception. The film has just been banned in Australia. Found was due for release in the UK on September 29th (it currently is available to pre-order on Amazon UK), but the BBFC have not yet certified the film. We'll see.


Monday, 19 May 2014

15 Second Review: Ghost Whisperer Seasons 1-5

Much like Quantum Leap (which I also recently finished re-watching) Ghost Whisperer's strength lies in its exploration of human relationships rather than in its genre trappings (here horror, science fiction in Quantum Leap). That is, under the show's aesthetics lies a series of melancholic stories about misunderstandings, revenge, and the inability to "set things right" after death. Despite this plus side, Ghost Whisperer pales in comparison with the bulk of quality television drama available. Some of the effects are surprisingly good, but the series is never scary (in fact Melinda's continual teacherly cries of "stop it!" dispel any sense of threat). Jennifer Love Hewitt is fine in her role as the lead protagonist, although the character is so righteous and sweet  that she ultimately comes across as infallible. That trait is amplified by the continual flourishing of her ill-staffed and customer-less antiques business: even that survives unscathed. In consolation, the role cannot have been perfect to play: I presume the amount of crying JLH had to do on the show really took its toll after a awhile. The series is also hampered by its "ghost of the week" structure, which grows repetitive very quickly. The series is much more compelling when following a running arc, but those arcs are mishandled; they are usually relegated to the final two episodes of any season, and so fall flat. The "Jim" arc running through season 4 is much stronger as a hook, although that story-line is resolved early, leaving the last few episodes of the season floundering. Other established threads such as "the town under the town" or the "missing shadow" season 3 cliffhanger are ignored. Perhaps I am just jealous of Prof. Payne; a character who leaves the series to embark on a seemingly endless sabbatical and is never heard of again. Season 5 is hampered by the presence of an annoying child, some garbage about "shadows and shinies", and a climax so unthrilling that I was sure that there must be another disc in the box-set (...there wasn't). The writing is generally weak: it is hard to engage with the plotlines of any particular mystery story when the audience is four minutes ahead of the protagonists and the ghosts seem to be purposefully unhelpful in solving their own problems. In sum, Ghost Whisperer flounders in its own mediocrity. It is not all bad, but it just is not incredibly good. Give that there are so many great TV series available, set this one low on your priority list. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Cultural Oddities: The Beards

Given that we've reached "peak beard", it is unsurprising that someone has written a beard anthem. However, I wasn't expecting The Beards, a band who exclusively write beard related material. Check out their Soundcloud to enjoy tracks such as "I Like Beards", "Touch Me in the Beard", "Damn, That's a Nice Beard", "Hey You, Grow a Beard" and the classic "I Have a Beard and it Looks Really Good". I realise I'm biased, but I'm pretty sure this is amazing.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

fMRI Scan Data Invalidated?

If the authors of this article in Human Brain Mapping are right, much of the recent buzz around fMRI data  - which has been touted in some circles as a potential pathway towards unlocking the brain's "secrets" - may have to be revised.

Below is the abstract:
Respiration phase-locks to fast stimulus presentations: Implications for the interpretation of posterior midline "deactivations"

Huijbers W1, Pennartz CM, Beldzik E, Domagalik A, Vinck M, Hofman WF, Cabeza R, Daselaar SM.

The posterior midline region (PMR)-considered a core of the default mode network-is deactivated during successful performance in different cognitive tasks. The extent of PMR-deactivations is correlated with task-demands and associated with successful performance in various cognitive domains. In the domain of episodic memory, functional MRI (fMRI) studies found that PMR-deactivations reliably predict learning (successful encoding). Yet it is unclear what explains this relation. One intriguing possibility is that PMR-deactivations are partially mediated by respiratory artifacts. There is evidence that the fMRI signal in PMR is particularly prone to respiratory artifacts, because of its large surrounding blood vessels. As respiratory fluctuations have been shown to track changes in attention, it is critical for the general interpretation of fMRI results to clarify the relation between respiratory fluctuations, cognitive performance, and fMRI signal. Here, we investigated this issue by measuring respiration during word encoding, together with a breath-holding condition during fMRI-scanning. Stimulus-locked respiratory analyses showed that respiratory fluctuations predicted successful encoding via a respiratory phase-locking mechanism. At the same time, the fMRI analyses showed that PMR-deactivations associated with learning were reduced during breath-holding and correlated with individual differences in the respiratory phase-locking effect during normal breathing. A left frontal region-used as a control region-did not show these effects. These findings indicate that respiration is a critical factor in explaining the link between PMR-deactivation and successful cognitive performance. Further research is necessary to demonstrate whether our findings are restricted to episodic memory encoding, or also extend to other cognitive domains. Hum Brain Mapp, 2014. © 2014.

Sunday, 11 May 2014