Posts from October 2009
I saw three films last week set in Tokyo. None of them, not even the one with the city in the title, would claim to be about Tokyo, but they ended up creating a triptych of Tokyo which, more than any individual film, reminded me of that crazy city. After all Ozu’s Tokyo Story is not about Tokyo, but still manages to say something about it. So while none of these films were all that great, its worth having a look at them to see what they can tell us about Tokyo.
With Tokyo Gore Police, its simple. It is a crazy ass film. It knows it is crazy, it wants to be. And often in those moments of self conscious madness and pride that we see the real madness of an impossibly large city like Tokyo. Its the madness of being out of control and not caring.
Tokyo Gore Police is a future set splatter pic which tries to give itself a few airs and graces via the medium of satire. A number of interspersed commercials about the privatised police force however does not dress up what is a gratuitous gore feature, especially if you’ve seen Robocop or Starship Troopers.
Well, after a week of hard conventioneering, I’m back in the saddle to talk about ‘Drive My Car’.
Soothing stuff and fun to play, as I remember. I bashed this one out before I left, in the hope that I’d have time to write a column on it while I was away, but even after I got back on Wednesday I was still too dead to do more than gaze listlessly at it. Even now, I’m just going to cobble together some random thoughts and hope I can pull myself together enough to keep the momentum up until Budokan ends, the sessions start and things really get crazy. Anyway, a few spoilers:
SPOILER: There is no car.
An occasional series where we mock the nonsense written on crisp packets.
“It takes a more adventurous homegrown spud to volunteer for our sizzling Jamaican Jerk Chicken. Some spuds simply ‘dreaded’ not being picked so they went back to their roots (man!) to prove their worth. But the ones in this bag just chilled out ‘cos they knew they ware far better than the rest of the others.”
Well done Walkers, skirting accusations of racism and cultural stereotyping in three needless sentences to add nothing to a bag of crisps that tastes just like you mixed up the roast chicken powder with the picked onion powder.
When I was a kid, I used to get great School reports. High marks for attainment through the whole booklet, nice phrases. The only letdown was under physical education where I would often get an A for effort, but a 4 or 5 for attainment. When it came to sports, I was just no good. This was highlighted in my final report where my PE teacher basically said “STOP DOING SPORT, YOU ARE ON A HIDING TO NOTHING”. He was right.
I say this in relation to awful Brit gangster film Dead Man Running because it is produced by Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand. What more do I need to add to that sentence to make you realise this film could never ever be any good? OK, 50 Cent is in it. Danny Dyer rocks up too, but doesn’t play the lead. But really concentrate on British Gangster Comedy produced by premiership footballers.
Repopulate happens while Tom is away to try and chivvy more comments on some of our older entries that may seem poorly represented. The original haloscan comments have been lost, so we did have a lot to say about these tracks, they are just lost in the mists of internet.
And today is a twofer: the voting is difficult so please don’t even try but since Guy Mitchell and Tommy Steele both charted consecutively with Singing The Blues, Tom thought he would tackle them together. So you can too. Who whistles best? Which is more lairy? Do you like Tommy, or Guy Mitchell more. Click through for debate.
(This is a series in which FT contributors read the ghost stories of M. R. James. Hey! It is not going as slowly as some FT series! But er yes, it has taken me quite a time to get round to this one. If you want to read it first — and do, bcz there will be SPOILERS — it can be found here.)
It’s all about the numbers, obviously, so let’s begin there. This is a nicely turned haunted-room tale, with four very excellent aspects to it, and five oddities. Actually it’s a subvariant of the haunted-room tale. The classic would be something like F.Marion Crawford’s “The Upper Berth“, where those who stay overnight in Room 105 on the ship Kamtschatka encounter something pretty grisly, and respond accordingly. This subvarant is probably better termed the “hauntING room tale”, as it’s less a matter of the unsuspecting visitor to the house being at certain times troubled by the room’s occupant, as of the building being at certain times troubled by the room.
During the 00s pop boom there was much talk of “blankness” as a vocal quality – the kind of competent, unaffected but largely inexpressive singing women like Rachel Stevens do on their records. This was making a virtue of necessity to some extent – Stevens, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and Girls Aloud en masse simply didn’t have barnstorming voices. But also I guess a subset of pop fans don’t really like singing all that much, they don’t want it to get in the way of the hooks or the ‘production ideas’, and certainly Rachel Stevens’ voice never did.
Whatever I found whimsical and interesting about Wes Anderson’s early films (mainly Rushmore to be fair) had worn its welcome remarkably thin by the the time The Darjeeling Limited came around. They were always nice to look at, and the soundtracks were fun but the parade of actors I usually quite like being dull and self obsessed was enough to drive me mad. So I went to see The Fantastic Mr Fox expecting to be a wee bit irritated by it, but looking forward to some hopefully competent stop motion animation.
All I can say is, its a golden age for kids films. Alongside Up, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, The Fantastic Mr Fox makes it possible for kids to believe that every film ever released will be great. It appears that by making an adaptation, making a kids film, and probably making a laborious stop-motion film has released the best in Wes.
I give every entry on Popular a mark out of 10, and at the end of each year’s worth of entries you get the chance to vote for any YOU would have given 6 or more out of 10 to.
My highest rated tracks were Madonna and Dead Or Alive, with 9 each. Shakin’ Stevens, Midge Ure and UB40 all got 2s.
Use the comments box to discuss the year in general, critics and readers polls at the time, etc etc. (Hopefully you’ll find plenty to talk about cos the next entry won’t be up until a week on Monday!)
Mid-August Lunch is a perfect little film. A nice, short palate cleanser of a film about the small moments of happiness and love in the most banal of situations. Giovanni is a middle aged man still living / caring for his mother who is a stubborn battleaxe in her own way. As a favour to a friend he also looks after his mother for a couple of nights, which soon opens up to the man being surrounded by four elderly women with very definite idea about how things should be. And especially how things could be cooked. And there is not much more to it than that, except a few nice cinematic asides of a deserted italian city in the unbearable heat. It does not want to make a grand statement about the care of the elderly, generation divide or even the status of the older woman in Italy. You can talk about that, but you can just enjoy the short movie.