Posts from 19th January 2005

19
Jan 05

Sideways

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Sideways

I went to my first movie preview tonight. My pal Andrew got me in on a screening of Alexander Payne’s new movie – we’d both loved the last two he made, so were looking forward to this. I’d read an ILE thread about it, which was kind of tepidly positive, but I thought this was a magnificent film, a masterpiece even.

It’s a quiet film, a tale of a middle-aged rather nebbishy guy, a wine expert and would-be novelist, taking an old pal, an ex-minor-soap star and more laddish guy, on a trip round Californian vineyards, tasting wine and eating good food, before he acts as best man in this guy’s wedding. They’re very different people, on mostly incompatible wavelengths, both fucking up in their own ways. There’s no big action or great revelations or large plot to explain, it’s just people doing stuff and getting a lot of it wrong.

What makes it so great is its precision: the cinematography, direction, script, performances, every moment is nailed. He captures every detail perfectly. Loads of people can do moments of deep human sadness; and loads can do comedy; but a director who can make them both work together, simultaneously, is a rare thing and something to be treasured (see also Larry McMurtry, the best novelist I’ve read at this). It’s not as broad and sledgehammer as The Office or Alan Partridge, which also managed those moments, it’s much more ordinary and human and delicate than that. This film moved me, and I laughed out loud loads of times.

I’m not sure how reliant Payne is on writer-collaborator Jim Taylor, but after seeing only three of his movies (I missed his first, Citizen Ruth), I’m convinced that Payne is a genuinely major talent, a director who will make a great many wonderful movies – someone with that good an eye and ear can surely not go very wrong? (Yeah, I realise I may regret that, but I don’t think so.)

Avenging the Avengers

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Avenging the Avengers

On Saturday I decided to watch The Avengers movie on Channel 5, the first time I’d seen it since it came out back in 1998 and in complete defiance of the general critical opinion that it’s The Worst Movie Ever Made And No Mistake. Now maybe I’m missing something here, but it’s by no means that bad. In fact, it’s not even The Worst Movie Exhuming An Old 60s Spy Series (Val Kilmer in The Saint anyone?).

In all fairness to the tastemakers, it’s not great. I went to see it on the day of release as I was big fan of the original, and have to admit I came out pretty disappointed. Throughout the film’s production, there was a genuine sense of excitement, compounded by those great pictures of Fiennes and Thurman in costume and the fantastic trailer, both of which indicated that the show had been updated with a great deal of care and respect for the series. As I walked into that cinema, the only dissenting voice was a newspaper article that was a little sniffy about the lack of a press preview and a report on Radio 1 stating that the biggest celebrity at the launch party was Sian Lloyd (and even she didn’t stay long).

So what went wrong? Watching it seven years on, it’s still a deeply flawed film, but if you believe the critical savaging it’s had over the years you’d think it misfires on just about every level. Not a bit of it. The design and photography are absolutely stunning, hitting you at every turn with beautifully constructed surrealist images. The scene in which Steed walks across Sir August’s garden to reach the phone box while a snowstorm picks up is absolutely gorgeous, as is Emma’s dilemma on the Escher-esque staircase and Sean Connery chairing a meeting full of teddy bears. The construction of a spotless, practically deserted Little England is carried off with honours, giving the film genuine atmosphere.

The script, too, is actually very true to the series, with a couple of exceptions (the occasional lapses into crude innuendo, Steed and Emma’s utterly unwarranted kiss). You can well imagine Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg breathing life into the dialogue, and therein lies one of the central problems of the film: it’s actually being delivered by Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, who fail to ignite any of the chemistry that Macnee and Rigg had (and which would often paper over some incredibly unnaturalistic dialogue). Fiennes seems to be attempting a Macnee impersonation, but ultimately ends up sounding stiff and mannered, whilst Thurman puts all her energies into her plummy English and comes off charmless. I think much of the film’s failure can be laid at the doors of these two. The Steed and Emma of the movie are poseurs, trying to maintain a level of detached cool, whereas in the TV series you got the sense that they really loved what they were doing.

But the biggest crime lies in the editing. Apparently about an hour was carelessly lopped out of the film (including scenes that were in the trailer) after a disastrous preview screening in Arizona (!), while Michael Kamen’s score was dumped in favour of a very generic one. Over a third of the film is missing, and consequently so is any sense of coherene. There’s now no explanation for why stuff happens, and the film’s climax is a bewildering and ultimately uninvolving blur.

I for one would love to see the original director’s cut of this film. No amount of re-editing can save Fiennes and Thurman’s appalling performances, but I’d like to see some of the film’s inventive images given some breathing space. As it stands, The Avengers is no classic and falls flat as often as it shines, but when it does shine it hints at a potential that seems to have gone unfulfilled. Seven years after the event, I can see little to justify the critical bile the film continues to receive, but maybe in the years to come it will be chalked up as one of Hollywood’s more interesting failures.

Music in Sams Pubs, RIP

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Music in Sams Pubs, RIP

It was the best of times…

Pop into The Blue Posts, Newman Street for a quick one then go for a wander round the record shops. Return to the Blue Posts just in time to find “Yoo Doo Right” by Can beginning, and continuing for 20 minutes while various contented old soaks muttered along.

It was the worst of times…

Meet up in the Bricklayers’ Arms one cold January evening. OK Computer is playing, all the way through. Bit miserable really, but they’ll put something else on next. Album ends. Pause – enough time for a CD to be changed. And then – OK Computer. And then…

cookingforengineers.com

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 555 views

cookingforengineers.com
What it says on the URL, really. I like the table format for recipes, there are articles on equipment (knives, boards, etc) which are dry but extensive, how to freeze meats, etc. There are only a couple of article I could find that would be better suited to sister blog PBS, such as Simple Investigation of Cooking Bacon Everywhich Way and a short article onthe scoville (unit of chillli hotness).

(scuse if this has been blogged b4, i did do a google, innit)

“Some people are dicks, and pussies don’t like dicks because they get fucked by them. And then there are arseholes…”

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“Some people are dicks, and pussies don’t like dicks because they get fucked by them. And then there are arseholes…”

The logic inherent in Parker & Stone’s scatalogical analogy espoused in Team America : World Police is one of the most amusing parts of the film, and certainly one of the best written. The question though, as most people afeared of the film try to work out, is what are Parker & Stone themselves. Dicks, Pussies or Arseholes?

Just because the lead characters are firmly dicks we cannot assume that their creators are. If dicks are fundamentally right leaning conservatives, this allows us to identify pussies with the left leaning libertarian cause. But even this crude dichotomy, which might mirror a crude dichotomy artificially placed on politics is somehow not satisfying. Parker & Stone know this, and why do they know this? Because they are the arseholes. And sometimes arseholes shit all over everything. Which is exactly what they are doing here when you think about it.

Great cats though.

CAMPAIGNING UPDATE!

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CAMPAIGNING UPDATE!

Further news reaches us of badness ahead for Sam Smiths houses. Having watched a fair bit of football during euro 2004 at the Blue Posts, Newman Street, and seen the big screen showing all sorts over the course of our visits, we thought it the perfect place to watch the replay tonight, never too busy, but always a bit of atmos, low likelihood of extreme partisan crowd (unless royal mail fc were playing I suppose). However, as the match is rather important to me at least, I broke one of the fundamental pub laws and PHONED AHEAD.

Viewers, I’m glad I did, as not only are they not showing it, but the big screen has been removed! “It’s our new policy” said the rather sad voice on the end of the phone “no telly and no music.” This has been seen in a couple of other Sam Smiths houses recently as well…

I can only assume that SS are trying to wetherspoonify themselves, which seems like the biggest mistake ever. The wetherspoon backlash is so strong already that they themselves have realised that people LIKE telly and music, which now appear in several of their pubs (not to mention the whole lloyds phenomenon). The joy of sam smiths pubs was, although they were all similar, they still managed some individuality and homeliness and were warm and welcoming places as a result,* a quirky oasis of funny beers and scintilla cola. They are never going to compete with wetherspoons on price to get people through the door, even though they are very cheap. I for one would pay ‘2.00 for a pint of bitter and ‘2.20 for a flatman** (still hardly “london” prices) if it meant the pubs retained what makes them special.

(for any of you interested we are going to The Golden Lion on Dean Street instead, from about 6ish, upstairs probably, UP THE BLEDDY CITY!!)

*three goats heads in oxford possible exception to this, it’s always freezing in there
**TM AlanT

More on Exeter City’s efforts in the past couple of years

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More on Exeter City’s efforts in the past couple of years to get where they are today from Neil Le Milliere, known to many FreakyTrigger types. You cannot help but get excited for tonights game, especially after Burnley’s win last night (marred by constant shots of Alistair Campbell caper in the stands).

One question comes out of Neil’s piece though. Sure this supporters trust thing is hard, but there seems to be a slight degree of curlishness with regards to potential local benefactors. Yes it might be nice if Noel Edmonds or Nigel Mansell bunged them a bit of money, but in the current situation Exeter is run by the fans and paid for by the fans. They are not reliant on any one major benefactor, shareholder or chairman. Grecian fans know what it is like to hit rock bottom; do they really want to be part of Crinkly Bottom too?

Day 7: The Darkness AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

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Day 7: The Darkness
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

I like to think of myself as a strong, capable woman. I have stamina. I can endure much. Why once I even fought my way through an entire stadiums worth of David Bowie fans to get to the front and throw a specially modified lollipop at him. It took him out for three months, which was more than worth it. But the last day, trapped in the solid blackness of this cargo container would be enough to break any woman. It would be, if that was all that had happened.

What with the darkness all over and around me (see note below to how repugnant this idea is to me), and just enough booze left in my body to lull be to sleep, I put my head down almost instantly. I am not sure how long I slept for. All I know is that was shaken awake by a calamitous crashing noise. The container, and therefoe I assume the boat, was pitching wildly in the ocean. On a number of occasions I was tossed against the walls of the container, and it was hard to remain on my feet. I could hear muffled shouts and screams from the Jonah outside, including some cursing of my name which I found most disconcerting. At least I did until there was another roaring sound and the wall of the container found my head almost instantly. I was too unconscious to be disconcerted at this point.

When I came to, the violence upon the container had ceased. Indeed all seemed much too calm, as even the quietest seas would not surely be this calm. I spent much time rapping on the walls, something which just seems to echo loudly around me and attract no-one’s attention at all. I have given up the rapping as a bad job (and indeed it is one of the worst jobs you can have, just below public executioner) because it sounded too much like a performance of Stomp.

I have had to come to the only conclusion one could draw from this solidity, silence and lack of company. My container was somehow thrown free of the ship and I have landed somewhere. But there is no way out of this container, I am firmly locked in. Will my intrepid journey end here, trapped in the darkness without food, or drink. Frankly a drink would do me.


The Darkness

Queen were taking the piss a bit. They were called Queen after all.
And yet The Darkness are like Queen but with supposed added irony. Where is the room for the irony. There is no room in the Queen bandwagon to even slip the slightest smidgen of irony down the back of the sofa. If a bands job is being the pompiest, silliest rock band on the planet – surely the way to go is to try and be more serious than them.

So let us suggest that this is what The Darkness are doing. That people only think they are being funny because that is inherent in the musical style. The singing high, the fireplace guitar solos, the stupid Sci-Fi iconography. Cheap, secondhand bollocks which are barely covered by a spandex jumpsuit. As opposed to Justin Hawkins’ bollocks which are clearly not covered by his silly spandex jumpsuit.

Permission To Land? Who granted it? A song about a scary East Anglian dog? These are not the things a pop career are made of. Get Your Hands Off Of That Guitar – Motherfucker.

SCIENCE FUNDED PURELY FOR THE COMEDY OF THE TABLOID HEADLINE THAT WOULD RESULT #45yt03v9

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SCIENCE FUNDED PURELY FOR THE COMEDY OF THE TABLOID HEADLINE THAT WOULD RESULT #45yt03v9:

“Not Making Your Bed Is Good For You” (from my lovely CeeFax yesterday mornin, where it wz bumped by actual real world horror rather quickly)

apparently mites prefer the moist warmth of made bed EW EW and feed on the human skin scales EW EW EW EW EW