Posts from 25th August 2004

25
Aug 04

Great Teletext TV Listings Of Our Time

Do You See1 comment • 1,041 views

Great Teletext TV Listings Of Our Time

1640 BRILLIANT CREATURES A girl reveals how she was trapped in a toilet by a spitting cobra

FT Top 100 Films 40: GINGER SNAPS

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,316 views

FT Top 100 Films
40: GINGER SNAPS

Odd that I was talking about Catwoman earlier, as here is a film where a girl turns into a wolf. Not Wolfgurl, and this is certainly no superhero movie. This is probably the smartest werewolf movie since An American Werewolf In London, making a story leap so obvious that it is surprising it had never been made before. The werewolf comes with the moooon, periodic like. Regular as clockwork. And for a girl going through puberty, who knows if the changes wrought by lycanthropy have also been summoned by your hormones. Is the heightened sense of smell and urge to rip the throat out of passers-by just, as the Mum here says, all part of becoming a woman?

The audience know that this is not the case, but there are more than enough early scenes where Ginger’s snapping (oh, its literal this film) is pretty average teenage behaviour. She becomes wild and unmanageable: the message is not all that clever but since the director happily plays the film to its logical conclusion it pleases. It understands its twin genre conventions (teen outsider movie and werewolf movie) and milks them to the end. Even with the rubbish, rubbery monster suit.

Ginger Snaps is cheap movie. Which may suggest a problem inherent with doing a low budget creature feature. All well and good until you get to the creature (which is why zombies are so good for lo-budget). Since An American Werewolf In London, you cannot just put a bloke in a wolf suit. Or in this case a woman in a wolf suit. Unfortuantely that is all they can afford, no bone crunching transformation scenes, just a great big dog. It does not let the film down (and certainly isn’t as bad as the CGI werewolf in Van Helsing) but does remind the viewer that all the indie low budget atmosphere in the world cannot make up for a crap monster. But at least this does not do anything as crass as getting Ginger to eat dog food from the can.

THE HIGHWAYMEN – “Michael”

Popular12 comments • 2,003 views

#127, 14th October 1961

I can only assume the Great British Record Buying Public had had a collectively tough day. They got home, put their feet up, their coat on a hook, their cocoa by their side and their copy of “Michael” on the gramophone. And they were soothed. Fifteen years later we were still rowing the boat ashore, Hallelujah, in school assemblies.

If you look at the list of 1961 Number Ones you see no consensus, no binding thread or trend, Elvis hit the top regularly but the songs he used skipped haphazard from style to style. Instrumentals, death dramas, folk songs, throwbacks and teenage girls swap back and forth at the top of the chart, diverse and directionless. A lot of the songs are pretty bad: “Michael” isn’t, I think it’s sweet and sincere (and the whistling is so pretty), but the idea of such a modest song at the top of the pop charts is odd. Not unpleasant, just odd.

THE SHADOWS – “Kon-Tiki”

Popular16 comments • 2,288 views

#126, 7th October 1961

The title hints at exotica, and The Shadows’ instrumental fantasies are escapism of a kind, but the Kon-Tiki expedition wasn’t celebrating the mysteries of the Other, just solving them. Thor Heyerdahl’s exploits would have been familiar to the Shadows from childhood – they were the right age to have been caught up in the Thormania of the early 50s – but what did Kon-Tiki stand for? Endeavour, drive, heroics, curiosity, clean-limbed struggle, a deep respect for simplicity. It’s an apt title for one of the band’s more straightforward and bracing hits – listen to that echo and twang and breathe in the salt Pacific air!

Womens Pole Vault Final

TMFDPost a comment • 225 views

Womens Pole Vault Final

It had everything; intense competition between two Russians who can’t stand each other, a world record and a contestant knocking off the bar with her boob. It’s a strange looking, unnatural event and I think a clean one, where drugs are unlikely to add value.

It was a two-horse race, both in terms of medals and aesthetics. At 4.70m Isinbayeva smacked into the bar and looked beaten. She had one jump remaining and took a risk, raising the bar to 4.80m and gliding over with ease. Feofanova had to clear the same to stay in touch. She gave up in mid-air.

Isinbayeva vaulted 4.91m to extend her own world record, screaming in delight as she flipped over the bar.

Catwoman

Do You SeePost a comment • 459 views

So there are these women right, who throughout history have worn cat masks. All of whom, one imagines, were brought back to life by stinky cat breath and then went leaping around like – well actually not like a cat because cats can’t climb sheer walls, or jump eighty feet and do capoeira. Or so the opening sequence of Egyptian cats and burnt witches would have us believe.

Yes. Catwoman is a very silly film. Unfortunately, in the right mood, it is also entertainingly silly. The big problem with its lack of success is because no-one believes you are going in to see an entertainingly silly film. Instead they believe that you either
a) Really like superheroes (and hence are sad)
b) Want to get off on Halle Berry’s arse clad in leather (and hence are sad)

The latter set are in for disappointment. Berry’s odd twitchy cat act is anything but sexy. Catwoman (even this knocked off idea of catwoman) is not a “method acting” part. It is probably more important to be sexy than to actually be like a cat. From the point you see Berry eating tuna from the can you kind of go off her as a newly liberated woman with special powers. The costume is embarrassing, the poor CGI is daft and none of it hangs together plotwise. Which of course does not stop it being the half-arsed producers idea of what a superhero film should be (a bit of Spiderman, a bit of X-Men, drop the Batman faux seriousness). Even down to its last minute – oh hold on, let’s leave it open for a sequel that will NEVER COME this is film-makers lying to themselves constantly that they have not only made an okay action film (they haven’t) but something which has something to say about feminism (they really really haven’t). But as the Onion article had it, not even the worst film I have seen this summer.

From the travel news

Blog 7Post a comment • 276 views

From the travel news on the radio this morning, but not on the various websites (as far as I can see) came the important intelligence: Canada Water tube station was closed. The reason: an unusual smell.

Why choose today? How did they know when to re-open?

I wonder what the unusual smell smelled like.

WHO REVIEWS: #5, #6, #7

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 373 views

Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible – Marc Platt (7/10)
(TARDIS crew: 7th, Ace; VILLAIN: The Process)

Cat’s Cradle: Warhead – Andrew Cartmel (7/10)
(TARDIS crew: 7th, Ace; VILLAIN: Butler Institute, Mathew O’Hara)

Cat’s Cradle: Witch Mark – Andrew Hunt (2/10)
(TARDIS crew: 7th, Ace; VILLAIN: Some random Welsh gits)

The first four New Adventurers gave Whovians the epic Timewyrm, chasing all around the galaxy and even into the Doctor’s mind. The next three books all bear the “Cat’s Cradle” moniker and was poised to be another multi-book saga.

So what went wrong?

The three books have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Time’s Crucible is a base-under-siege pastiche mixed in with some startling revelations about ancient Gallifrey. Warhead is a near-future ecoterror story. Witch Mark is a parallel universe exercise in fairyland fuckwittery. The linking device is a silver cat that represents the TARDIS but only actually impacts the plot of Time’s Crucible. Events in Time’s Crucible have a negligible impact on the setup of Witch Mark, but Warhead could have occurred at anytime without causing any real continuity hiccups. As an overarching epic, these three books fail completely.

So why publish them with Cat’s Cradle in the titles? I can understand not wanting to do another “Doctor and Ace hunt down a threat” multipart story; variety is the spice of life, after all. However, there isn’t even a thematic link or a “the events of one story lead into another” setup going on; I have no idea what Peter Darvill-Evans was thinking when he tried to shoehorn these books together (beyond “HAHA STUPID FANBOYS I TAKE YOUR CASH AND FLEE LIKE WIND”).

Individually, two of the books work very well. Time’s Crucible sets a deeply claustrophobic mood by stranding Ace in a nightmarish, time-ravaged landscape with no Doctor, no TARDIS, a bunch of amnesiac explorers from Gallifrey’s history called Phazels and a gigantic, disgusting datavore that calls itself The Process. Platt does an excellent job of revealing twist after twist, springing revelations about where the action is taking place, why The Process is making the Phazels look for the Future, and where the Process’s creepy humanoid guard with the insect heads actually came from, all while meshing in the Ancient Gallifrey plot that explains the emergence of rationalism and time travel and gives some startling details about pre-Time Lord life. Warhead goes for a different type of harrowing, evoking an Earth not too far removed from our reality but full of neat little future ideas, like the holographic answering machine. Cartmel’s Doctor is firmly in chessmaster mode, maneuvering character after character in a grand scheme to stop the schemes of a severely disturbed businessman and his plan to cheat death by forcibly downloading humanity into a supercomputer. The most interesting part of the story revolves around Justine, a neo-Luddite teen obsessed with nature and witchcraft, and Vincent, the Whoniverse’s most fascinating psychokinetic who channels emotions into fearsome mental powers.

Then there’s good old Witch Mark. Poor, sad, horrifyingly bad Witch Mark. The book is packed with stereotype after stereotype, what with the stranger-hating Welsh farmers, the two American backpackers that seem to have actually come from 50s London, the Peter-Davison-in-“All Creatures Great And Small”-esque vet, the helpful old couple in the inn, the surly humans in the fairy realm, the wise, gentle unicorns, the staid trolls, etc etc etc. The vestiges of a great plot lurk in this mess (the fairy realm is collapsing and the inhabitants there, along with the Welshmen, are attempting to infiltrate Earth, creating conflict both on Earth between the UK and the transplants and between the fairyland humans and the fairy creatures, all exacerbated by witches using the situation for their own gain) but the book seem to be actively conspiring to hide this from you. Glaring plot holes fly all over the place, including one particular howler that isn’t resolved for another 49 books. This was the last book I needed to complete my New Adventures collection; I still have conflicting emotions about having spent money for this nonsense.

In the end, we have two very good books and one shockingly bad book, all more pessimistic in tone and setting than the previous four novels. Apparently, adults don’t like fun very much (and it only gets grimmer from here).