Posts from 14th July 2004

14
Jul 04

What does the latest round of Guiness (Extra Cold) adverts suggest

Do You SeePost a comment • 276 views

What does the latest round of Guiness (Extra Cold) adverts (a follow-up pastiche compilation of previous classic Guiness ads) suggest? That they’ve run out of ideas and are squeezing the last drops of the black stuff (not Bovril) from the damp bar cloth? Or is it an inspired celebratory reinforcement of the ideas and themes that have been tossed our way the last fifteen or so years by the marketeers?

Perhaps both in that they seem keen to signal the end of an era for the brand, possibly to culminate somehow with the fact that Guiness is no longer brewed in the UK at all – a major business change that I’m not sure regular drinkers of the stuff here will really notice. The ads on the other hand are easily noticed and indeed it’s somewhat remarkable the way the latest ones grab you with the exact single reference you would surely have placed on them (e.g. the fish on the bicycle – referring to an advert from the mid-late 90s – not a term they invented but seeing one on screen I’d be surprised if nobody instantly realised they were watching a ‘new’ Guiness ad…the image and the product becoming synonomous with each other in the process, or at least you would think that was the intention). More extraordinary is the re-appearance of Rutger Hauer who I thought was dead for some reason (probably a consequence of having done apparently nothing in the last 15 years, other than the odd ad for Irish stout…around 15 years ago).

These familiar references are enjoyable to see again though, representing the more thoughtful side of DYS thinking – a reward of sorts for those who’ve been paying attention to and enjoying the campaigns all this time, if not those who go one better by actually consuming the drink. One of the more popular adverts (‘Swimmer’ featuring the cheating brother vs the pint and effectively spawning a number one hit in ‘Mambo No 5’ has yet to be referenced as far as I’ve seen) and the ‘meaning of life’ one with the talking squirrel remain favourites here. All this enough to keep me interested (as far as ad-spotting goes) in seeing what they do next.

Brilliant People of Television

Do You See2 comments • 836 views

Brilliant People of Television1: Ptolemy Dean

I was quite pleased when Restoration came back to our screens last night. Now, yes it’s a good thing that old buildings are being saved and returned to their former glory or put to some new use. Though, sometimes I think things look better as ruins…

Anyway, the best thing about Restoration is Ptolemy Dean, a man completely devoid of cynicism and named after an ancient astronomer. Ptolemy and his pal Marianne visit the buildings that are potential restoration winners, and have look around. To Ptolemy everything is marvelous and wonderful, it’s great to see someone so enthusiastic about their work, I mean how excited can someone get about a hole where a wrought iron post would have been, or how a rug has a label? (Answer: VERY!) And to top it all off he paints a watercolour of the building, he’s like a cross between Tony Hart and Patrick Moore.

Okay, just wanted to give some props, now I must think of some more potential “Brilliant People of Television”.

FT Top 100 Films 63: THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,360 views

FT Top 100 Films
63: THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS

What do I like about the Royal Tenenbaums? There is only one thing I really, really like about it (there are lots of little things I like a bit about it but I must admit the whole thing did not overwhelm me). What I like about the Royal Tenenbaums is the font.

For some reason, Wes Anderson, has decided to use predominantly one font in the movie. It is rounded, sans serif and very similar to the font that Ed Ruscha settled on in the late sixties for about three hundred of his “word paintings”. The liberal appliction of this font signals that we are in Anderson’s world, that his rules apply. It is a lovely, designerly way of doing this, and successfully helps slip you into twee whimsy mode.

My problem is that twee whimsy mode is not altogether that interesting for me. This is not a film about dysfunctional families, nor is a film about the stress of being a child prodigy. It is about this family, these prodigies, in this Wes Anderson world which – unlike Rushmore – seems totally isolated from any outside world. The characters prance and gavotte for our amusement, and I was amused. But there was never really a point I gave a fuck.

Except for the font. The font, especially on the Hospital, suggested there might be a better world, a better designed world, where nothing would hurt – ever. Because I wouldn’t give a fuck. Cinematic prozac.

Elsewhere

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 266 views

Elsewhere:

Horror.

Not entirely sure about this.

Really not sure about this – and a little surprised given the author’s campaign against ‘indie drabness’

Back!

Nostalgia post hints (in comments) at intriguing question – the technological possibilities (web/txt/etc) for organising impromptu parties/raves are never-better: is this actually happening? (Clearly I’d have no idea.)

Oh dear, a tale of woe from the copa America

TMFDPost a comment • 400 views

Oh dear, a tale of woe from the copa America

Let’s hope they keep flying as some of the football has been great. It must be such a burden on a country though, to put such a tournament together, makes you wonder that love of footie apart, why do they host tournaments. In fact, that’s a question that could be asked about a lot of major sporting events, I mean, I doubt if there’s going to be much profit derived from the Athens Olympics. And I know it’s not just about the money, there’s prestige etc, but what price prestige when you’re bankrupt?

Question for ILB (when it returns)

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 285 views

Question for ILB (when it returns): how much of a book do you need to read before you can say you have read it?

(inspired by flippant qn in Orange list comments)

Those Mean Girls posts not quite in full.

Do You SeePost a comment • 706 views

Those Mean Girls posts not quite in full. I have written and discarded three posts about Mean Girls, which suggests that I think this might be the most important film of the year. It is not. It is instead a rather good, smart teen comedy which happens to stand at what I think is the crossroads of its own genre. Its position therefore undermines its own effectiveness, as it is no longer possible for a teen movie simply to be JUST a teen movie. The only proof I have to offer is how seriously I am bloody taking it. Bah!

Post 1 tried to do a Mean Things to say about Mean Girls: The five mean things I though of were:
1: It is not as good as Popular.
2: The girls are not mean enough.
3: Cady (Lindsey Lohan) would not be invited into “The Plastics”.
4: It is not as good as Clueless.
5: Tina Fey must love herself.

Okay, 1 and 4 are basically the same idea, criticizing something for what it is not (and is definately a mean thing to do). The Clueless diss is easy, since Clueless is a teen movie, an adaptation of Emma and Beverly Hills 90210 parody all at once. Not only does it have more going on, it is a lot less interested in its happy ending and is told from the P.O.V. of a popular girl. The newcomer plot of Mean Girls gives it much less moral ambiguity. The Popular diss is a bit harder to justify, but I hold that the nature of High School is something that is better documented in a television series. Mean Girls is too tied into its narrative arc to get its chops into any real character issues. The truth is that High School rarely has the neat resolution of Mean Girls, people are damaged by it and whilst nice bits of character growth can happen, it is not the norm. And quirk for quirk, mean for mean – Popular wins out.

Mean for mean (2), the girls in Mean Girls are not mean enough. The height of their meanness seems to be writing a book about how crap other people are. Which is not VERY mean. As for (3) – Lindsey Lohan has a girl next door kind of look that just does not fit the Plastics. They do not appear to need a fourth member, and Cady’s infiltrate and destroy policy just does not convince. The Lacoste polo shirt would surely have been enough to ban her.

(5) – Tina Fey loving herself was just me being plain mean. But the nice teacher who sorts stuff out character seems a little bit 1970’s for this kind of drama. Writing that role for yourself seems narcissistic.

So the second post was overly allegorical trying to make a comparison between the teen movie genre and the western. The parallel was trying to do a back to basics, John Wayne oater in the mid-seventies. It was a lousy parallel, but there is still some truth in the idea. Mean Girls brings next to nothing new to the teen movie. It might be a very well executed teen movie (it is) but the twiddly bits – here the anthropology angle – is never really developed properly. Perhaps by showing us how much smarter it could have been, it infuriated me more.

The third attempt was a deconstruction of the high school genre. Its rules are so rigid now that almost every aspect of it can be ignored (a la Buffy say) and remain in genre with the vaguest of nods. Can the genre therefore stand such a bold and obvious restatement of the rules as Mean Girls. The reason it can is because the audience for Mean Girls of course is contemporary with its protagonists. The audience for Mean Girls is the tween’s, the eight to eleven year olds. Which is where my real problem lays. This film has the clothes of a sophisticated deconstruction, but is really just another episode of Lizzie McGuire. Clueless was made for a teenage audience, Mean Girls is not. It may be considerably more raunchy that say The Breakfast Club (it is), but it is by and large a parent friendly, kid friendly retelling of the basic high school myth.

Every one of those posts had a caveat saying how much I liked it by the way. This is Post 4. That was the caveat.

Orange Prize for fiction compiled a vote of the living library of top 50 essential contemporary reads

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 227 views

The Orange Prize for fiction compiled a vote of the living library of top 50 essential contemporary reads.

To be in, you needed to be well thought of by bookish sorts (the survey was undertaken during the Hay festival) and not dead.

Most of the work in Tom Friedman’s current show

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 168 views

Most of the work in Tom Friedman’s current show at the South London Gallery is entertaining enough without being breathtaking, or even especially exciting. Much of it consists of plays on perspective: several boxes of Cheerios spliced to form the cereal box equivalent to the stretch limo; a tiny man made of quarter-inch wooden cubes perches precariously on a globe made of the same; on the floor sits a picture of a museum plinth with an old bone (and more) which looks like it should turn optical-illusion real if looked at from the correct angle…. the correct angle doesn’t seem to exist.

Some of the fun is to be found in the titles of the work. Many are named Untitled (with a description of the work in brackets), like “Untitled (aluminium foil guitarist)”, which is a flimsy foil Kravitzalike, and a hyper-real butterfly feeding on a small pile of horse dung, called “True Love 2004 (butterfly on shit)”.

One piece in particular, though, has what Marcello would refer to as “punctum”. A huge human figure, maybe thirteen feet tall, indistinct and blue, looks down to a tiny, more detailed man at his feet. The tiny man, no more than three inches tall, looks up at the giant. Halfway inbetween, we’re both giant and dwarfed and the whole piece seems a gentle take on sympathy, or empathy, or both.

The best news of all, mind, is that the South London Gallery is open again. It’s had a lengthy spell of closure for refurbishment and I’ve missed the old place. The refurb doesn’t seem to have changed much about the exhibition space, though it’s improved accessibility and included a cute little cafe which smells of nice coffee. Welcome Back SLG!

Fool’s Told

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 604 views

In a priceless interview with Pete ‘Just Researching’ Townshend about what a bully he thinks Michael Moore is, the following priceless line is thrown out.

“…he’ll have to work very, very hard to convince me that a man with a camera is going to change the world more effectively than a man with a guitar.”

Hmm, I’m thinking of all those people who have got out of prison because of the Rough Justice TV show. I’m thinking of a approbation put upon China after Tianamen Square. Oh, what about the footage of the Ethiopian famine in the 1980’s (which admittedly caused Live Aid and changed the world for the worse.). Neil Armstrong on the moon changed a lot of peoples perspective. Footage of the Vietnam war was rather effective in changing some government policies.

Whereas Townshend and his trusty world changing guitar have done the following
a) Logged on to paedophile websites for “research purposes”
b) Pissed on an album cover
c) Made Tommy: a ridiculous rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind kid who can somehow play pinball
d) Allowed his music to be used as the theme tune to CSI (made by notorious camera user Jerry Bruckheimer)
e) Hoped he would die before he got old.

Well, at least I agreed with e).