Posts from 21st July 2004

Jul 04

[/emerges from XFM induced catatonia]

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 242 views

[/emerges from XFM induced catatonia]

Tatwatch and Square Table back tomorrow. For now, the news (no news to most I’m sure) that “Dry Your Eyes” is apparently going to be No.1 on Sunday*. Crikey.

*(and credit where it’s due, Mr. Carlin was the first to predict it. “No way”, I thought at the time. In fact I would have put money on it not going Top 5 – too spoken word, too stark. Thank goodness I didn’t.)

i’ll have it in a

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 153 views

i’ll have it in a glass plz

FT Top 100 Films 58: BLACK CAT WHITE CAT

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FT Top 100 Films

Initial memories? You can’t really get past the the perfection of the farce which destroys the toilet, dumping the auld fella in the shit. But if you want to, then you can also marvel at a film where a pig eats a car, everything is second hand and the gangsters are the most ludicrous organisation you’ll set your eyes on. So what kind of film is Black Cat White Cat? Its a Yugoslavian comedy. Or at least a former Yugoslavian comedy, where much of the bitterness and violence of the 1990’s in that region is turned into total farce.
A lucid dream of a film, it always stays on the right side of reality to convince you that yes, that girl did just pull out a nail with her sphincter. The mess, the squalor, the ingenuity of the lead character – and his equal temptation by greed sets up a nice redemptive plot. But there is no side road or distraction that this film won’t take to get a laugh. Much of its set-up comes from physical humour reminiscent of silent films (perhaps why it travels so well). But it does go to show that the appelation gross-out means nothing when it comes to a works artistic value. Under the fart gags is a serious plea for tolerance.
Oh, and the love scenes. The look of love is captured perfectly in the scene set in the sunflower field. Sensuous, sweet and unsurprisingly funny. A film about community, a film about the ridiculousness of the dark side of human nature – it also culminates in one of the best wedding scenes I have ever seen. Start with the gypsy tradition, move on to the horror of the wrong people marrying, go via impending farce and end up dumping someone in a pit of shit. Which he later wipes off with a duck. Which does wonders for your long term memory.

Tom says:

Black Cat White Cat has one of the most perfect soundtrack moments I can remember. The grotesque Balkan gangster is sitting in a car with his floozies, doing coke and getting pumped up. On the stereo a ghastly, brash Euro-techno tune, “Pitbull Terrier”. The guy sings along, pushing his medallion-man chest out at the camera – “I am a PITBULL!” “Terrier!” simper the backing vox. Every time I read about Eastern European crime now it’s that scene I think of: shiny, crass, flooded with new money, ridiculous but frightening. Where on earth did the director find such an awful but perfect song? Simple – he wrote it himself.

There is no shortage of adaptations that suffer from comparisons to their source material, but Uli Edel’s misguided Last Exit to Brooklyn suffers more acutely than most.

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There is no shortage of adaptations that suffer from comparisons to their source material, but Uli Edel’s misguided Last Exit to Brooklyn suffers more acutely than most. I’d hate to think that any novel is unfilmable, but perhaps I just like a challenge. Edel tries too hard to carve a more traditional narrative out of the wasted detritus of Selby’s oppressive Brooklyn, and the attention to detail which made the book so compelling/repulsive is drowned out almost entirely. The potentially explosive set-pieces culled from the book (such as Tralala’s final bout of drunken exhibitionism or Harry’s crucifixion) aren’t enough to sustain this scattershot view of 50’s hell as a story. They flounder as plot-markers, and it’s frustrating because you can too easily see how they could have retained their original power, had they been given room to develop.

Jennifer Jason Leigh is indeed impressive, only ever allowing the slightest glimmer of morality to shine through all the promiscuity and assault. Unfortunately this isn’t enough, in an adaptation that has failed to capture the book’s all-pervading sense of nihilism and anxiety. Without hitting the dreadful lows of the book, it doesn’t really feel like the film is about anything, at least nothing interesting enough to maintain interest and justify the violence. And the less said about the contrived ending the better. Although I suppose a contrived ending is the least that could be expected from a film that ties up a loose-end of a character by simply running them over.

Kinda scary

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 1,075 views

Kinda scary 

… until you reach the end of the article and find out how big they are.

So there is this Italian restaurant on Battersea High Street

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 541 views

So there is this Italian restaurant on Battersea High Street. And it is apparently quite nice, but obviously needs the punters in. Because certain nights of the week it will do you half price food. Those nights are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Oh, and a new board has just popped up to say Saturday as well.

Now I am all in favour of cheap food. I am just less in favour of getting to the restaurant knowing that if I had gone on a different night it would have been cheaper. Especially if two of those nights are traditionally the two busiest nights of the week. In fact I was so annoyed by this I said fuck it. Which meant my companion suggested the restaurant over the road named after Thailand’s second city.

Grumbleweed Facts

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Grumbleweed Facts for Andrew. I remember nothing about them.

More on Bass and the art of titles

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I was about to moan about the number of Saul Bass press releases-cum-articles doing the rounds when I found this voice of reason in, of all places, the Guardian. Title sequences are obviously important, but importing auteurism into this particular field is surely one beating too many for the expiring horse of classic Hollywood. Especially when Bass’ seminal sequences for Hitchcock (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho; 1958-1959-1960) are unthinkable without Bernard Herrmann’s music. What’s worse is the r0ck1sm in statements like this: ‘Influenced by their innovations, emulators had tried too hard to impress, and the couple felt the art had been devalued: “It got to a point where it seemed that everybody got up there before the film and did a tap dance.”‘ I guess it’s a border issue, to be decided by judges more refined than me, how far a title sequences can impress before it’s ‘showing off’, but one recent example I was happy to see again was for ‘Panic Room’, the incredible 3-disc box-set of which I hope to watch as soon as I have six weeks free. The link between these thoughts being provided by the magic of interweb technology…

The Advert Channel

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The Advert Channel: standard pub ‘what if’ joke comes true. I particularly like the idea that there will be actual adverts inbetween the, um, other adverts.

ELVIS PRESLEY – “Surrender”

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#119, 3rd June 1961

For once an Elvis record isn’t scuppered by the choice of song – this nervy Latin pop is a welcome step up from the catastrophic “Wooden Heart”. Rather it’s Presley’s own performance that feels misjudged. He sings “Surrender” as if it was “It’s Now Or Never” part two – more shag-or-bust ultimatum-throwing – but the song feels more subtle than that blockbuster did, and the vibrato Elvis piles on sabotages that. He could have sung it predatory or sung it desperate: instead he tries for cod-operatic romance and the result is a hotchpotch. It’s not Elvis’ worst Number One but it’s the first where he doesn’t really sound like he’s trying.