Posts from 6th March 2005

Mar 05

THE HOLLIES – “I’m Alive”

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#198, 26th June 1965

Solid beat-groups-to-order record which I’d guess lands unerringly in the “had to be there” box. If this hit you at a certain age or in the right situation then maybe something would spark – but what pop song can’t you say that about? Everything about “I’m Alive” is well done but the Hollies throw away their best hook in the intro and the drummer only really starts having fun in the last ten seconds. In between is a song which to my first-time ears sounds like a reasonable exercise in a waning style, and a chorus that protests too much.

Beware of the disco!

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 664 views

Watch out, Spider-Man!

Too late!

What is the secret of his awesome power??

The cover of this masterpiece.

Danger: logo abuse!

Walking With Myths

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Walking With Myths has been my #1 why-isn’t-this-on-TV idea for years now: using spiffy CGI beast-animation technology to bring to life loads of fake animals* with a narration that asks if and why people believed in them in the first place. Now it – or a close approximation – has actually been made, and I missed it! Bah! The pretend-they’re-real approach is not precisely the one I might have taken, though, as certainly in the case of dragons I’m much more interested in the cultural anthropology of dragon-legends and dragon-belief. Did anyone see a ‘dragon’; if so what did they actually see; if not how did the myth spread?

*every time WMM is mentioned in the pub it is rightly stated that all the creatures in Walking With Dinosaurs and Walking With Beasts were made up anyway. But you know what I mean.

The Last Dragon

Do You SeePost a comment • 321 views

The Last Dragon

I can’t decide whether this was a phenomenally stupid or fantastically brilliant idea. Obviously we are used to drama-doc versions of scientific discoveries, and we are accustomed now to CGI versions of wildlife documentaries – Walking With Dinosaurs was a huge success with its speculative but mostly solidly founded representations of how dinosaurs lived. What this show did was take those two things and intertwine them, and its really fresh idea was to make it about something where there is no evidence of its reality: dragons.

We get a young palaeontologist examining new finds and starting to conclude that dragons were real, tracking down leads, working out the biology that allowed these giant creatures to fly and even to breathe fire. In parallel with this, we get a wildlife-style CGI presentation of dragons in action.

And that’s the selling point here: dragons flying around, breathing flame, killing medieval knights (there was a bit too much keenness to tick off all the famous dragon reference points – they barely held back from naming St George in one of these scenes), hunting tigers in forests and, best of all, battling a tyrannosaurus.

It was a bit shoddy in some ways: the money and care spent on the dramatisations wasn’t really proportional to the glories of the CGI, so we had third-rate acting, and there was some lousy scripting in both strands – I cringed at “Fire was the ace that kept dragons one step ahead of the competition.” In what sense does an ace keep someone a step ahead? Still, it was a pleasure to watch, for the most part, and I wonder if this will herald a new subgenre, if there are similar shows about Nessie and Yetis and so on to come.

Call that an ‘influence’?

Do You SeePost a comment • 364 views

Call that an ‘influence’?

It’s odd and unpredictable, the personal influences that can mar a film. I just watched Nasima Oshima’s Gohatto, a rather lovely and tense film of love and jealousy among a samurai corps. There’s some tremendous acting and beautiful photography, but there were several things that marred my enjoyment of it, my ability to keep focussed, to stay with its mood.

1. The TV schedule write-up I had read suggested that homosexuality raising its head in the macho world of the samurai was the subject of the film. This is a modern Western projection, and one that makes no sense at all in older Japanese times – the film gets this right, but the blurb had set me to looking for this, checking the film’s understanding and honesty.

2. ‘Sergeant’ Yamazaki kept making me think of a merger of motorcycle manufacturers.

3. ‘Captain’ (I’m shoving those quotes in because the translations are very inexact) Inoue is clearly intended as a slightly pitiful and hapless figure, but the strong resemblance to Duane Doberman of Bilko’s motor pool exaggerated that rather more than was desirable.

4. I don’t like to laugh at foreign names, but when a serious and tense talk between senior officers leads up to “Do they know who the murderer was?” “They think it was a Satsuma…” I can’t really help it. The image of a samurai warrior being assassinated by a small orange is too compelling.

I was quite keen to write this because my last FT piece (on the Brown Wedge) was about wholesale copying of someone else’s style, and really the above is the kind of ‘influence’ that I mostly find more intriguing: the influences on a work that were not in any way influences on anyone making it, ones that are more personal to a viewer – maybe because they show a lot of things about how art works and is read that isn’t included in the conventional accounts and analyses.

The Physics Detective Part Seven — Ludmilla, I Am Your Father

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 463 views

The Physics Detective Part Seven — Ludmilla, I Am Your Father

Truly, we are not worthy. I thought I had concocted a scandalous resolution to this story, but it turns out that my dirty thoughts have been soundly trumped. Clearly, the likes of Professor Spaldin are ten times the scientist that I am. The gender-reversed Oedipal insinuations really take the cake, and leave my comparatively pithy ideas in their dust.

There are three more installments — how will they top this?