Posts from February 2012

Feb 12

13 Worst Films Of 2011: 3: Horrible By Name

Do You See2 comments • 563 views

There is a reason why comedies always seem to come out strongly in a list like this. When a comedy succeeds, it can be as sublime as cinema get (academy take note). When a comedy is average it often feels like a let down, the moments between the laughs become almost tragic pauses. But when a comedy sets up a decent idea, is stuffed with good players and then suddenly goes off to squander its own idea and end up in a oddly misogynistic backwater, well that is a remarkable let down. And can a film that has Colin Farrell looking like this really be all bad. OK, there was the Jennifer Aniston factor but even including that the answer is yes – this film is horrible.

Feb 12

Brief Times at Hardwicke House

Do You See2 comments • 709 views

Today is the twenty fifth anniversary of the very first airing of Hardwicke House. And tomorrow is the twenty fifth anniversary of the very last.



Hardwicke House was a star filled, high-profile comedy set in a comprehensive – Grange Hill shone through the prism of ITV sitcom.  But it was their new, late night flavour of sitcom, tinged with fashionable ‘anarchy’ – the snarkiness and mock brutality that had almost become standard in the the thrall of of alternative comedy.  A later, unbroadcast episode even featured the Comic Strip stamp of approval: cameos from Mayall and Edmonson.  ITV had great faith in it, showing the first extended episode the day before its regular, weekly slot.

It had plenty of jokes, but what it became notorious for was the callousness of teachers and pupils alike.  In one episode a teacher tricks a new girl into electrocuting herself, while elsewhere the school hard boy, played by a youngish Kevin Allan, forces his victims to eat raw liver.

Feb 12

guess my theory: icke nearly right (= still wrong) dept

FT7 comments • 434 views

Feb 12

Best Brit Awards ever?

Do You See + FT35 comments • 1,276 views

Consider the evidence.

Adele, James Corden and George Michael at the Brit Awards 2012

Feb 12

vrywan kin c ur playin it RONG

FT1 comment • 289 views

… in which Everett True gets the internet to do his PhD homework for him =:)

ET is crowd-sourcing responses to questions that relate to his thesis, which is about music-writing and the internet. Question #2 was “what is the role of the music critic?” — and he’s kicked off the debate with an answer I sent him some time last year. Which in turn links back to my review of Marcello’s book, which drew a distinction between the critic’s role and the reviewer’s. (Yesterday’s was on trolling…)

Feb 12

Pixels Equals Profit: Tune-Yards and the Demystification of Graphical User Interfaces

FT5 comments • 637 views

It’s been a long while since I last picked up my guitar, but every so often I’ll go to a gig that makes me consider making music again. This can be for a number of reasons:

1) The music is SO BAD I think to myself ‘I can do way better than this’ (aka the ‘Free Trade Hall‘ rule).
2) The dudes on stage look like they’re having fun, which temporarily blots out the memories of driving a hire van 800 miles in three days and not being able to find .012 gauge strings ANYWHERE in Nottingham on a Sunday morning.
3) The musicians are making excellent music in an achievable (for me) fashion, e.g. pressing buttons on a laptop, playing rudimentary chords or basslines, saying words in a monotonous voice (aka the Elastica rule).

Feb 12

music, poetry, parkinson’s disease

FT6 comments • 2,025 views

(This piece was written to coincide with Mike Dibb’s documentary on the jazz saxophonist Barbara Thompson, and how Parkinson’s disease affects her playing life. The first time I saw it, at a screening last year, I knew I wanted to write something about my father, his Parkinson’s and the poem printed below the fold. I’d hoped a newspaper would run it — because I think the general topic’s important as well as interesting, and because I know Mike likes the poem — but though I sent proposals to several, and the finished piece to a couple, it was always going to be a complex balance of getting the proposal right, getting the piece right, getting the right section of the right paper, and getting the timing of my pitch right (not too early, not too late). I knew it was a long shot — it falls somewhat between tidy journalistic categories (poetry & music & health & family) — and in the event, I missed too many lead-times to find time to hustle an appropriate slot for it. So here it is. Update: Barbara Thompson: Playing Against Time, aired on BBC4, Sunday 19 February, 9-10.15pm UK time, but should still be viewable on via BBC iplayer for a while.)

A scientist and teacher by profession, my father had been an excellent amateur calligrapher in his youth, and an artist in ink, as well as an occasional poet. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1967, but a badly shaky writing hand was the earliest symptom, some time before that, and he had to switch to his other hand to teach himself how to write from scratch, giving up drawing for ever. The condition takes you through cycles of capability — from flail to freeze and back — that mean that you are all too often not to be able to get your limbs to do the most ordinary things, such as picking up the pills which will cycle you through blessed mid-way periods of balance for a while, but then out again into the opposite unbalanced state. The effect on anything more deftly ambitious will eventually be devastating, but for some the slow on-set of the disease will mean — as my father’s poem below suggests — that the passions and possibilities of your art have become intimately tangled with Parkinson’s itself, how you feel about it, how you work with it; what you want to do, what you can no longer do. And in fact he lived with it — as did we, his family — for 43 years, an unusually long time.

Feb 12

13 Worst Films Of 2011: 5 /4 : Ships & Monsters

FT18 comments • 1,565 views

Yo ho ho and a bottle of dumb. My joint fourth worst films of last year are additions to franchises, which use boats, monsters and lack any real plot logic. Both films are adapted from books, one ridiculously loosely, the other relatively slavishly. But in both cases I left the cinema rubbing my head wondering why it was ever made. And then I looked at the box office results and it was more than clear why. The movie business love franchises, even faltering franchises, an box office is king. But empty special effects sequences tied together do not make a film, and be it a franchise extension or a relatively tedious point in a franchise wind down, ships and monsters aren’t enough for me.

Feb 12

13 Worst Films Of 2011: 6: Occupy The Upper West Side

Do You See2 comments • 484 views

Last year only one fiction film really engaged with the issues around Occupy Wall Street. Set in New York, the 99%, the disenfranchised took on a fictional banker to strike a blow for the little man, the trodden on, the people who did follow the rules. And what a banker – an obscene penthouse occupying, master of the universe with an hugely bad taste swimming pool, Steve McQueen’s car from Bullitt in his apartment and has the leering air of Hawkeye from M*A*S*H. Cos its Alan Alda. This recession revenge film plays with the class struggle by subtly giving us flawed middle management heroes – those who organise the revolution here are the squeezed middle, not even those at the bottom of the ladder. Except, well, Eddie Murphy phones in a lousy eighties performance and did I mention the whole thing is directed by Brett Ratner.

Feb 12

Time Reconsidered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Who Eps: #17 EARTHSHOCK

FT6 comments • 1,019 views

or “You Will be Very Crumpled”

… being a show-by-show TARDIS-esque (ie in effect random) exploration of Doctor Who Soup to Nuts, begun at LJ’s diggerdydum community, and crossposted at FT.

aka the Sorrows of Young Adric, in which everyone’s favourite wooden doughy doe-eyed teen brainiac hatemonkey Adults Up and Takes One for Evolution, cleverly time-slipping an otherwise entirely unremarkable production-line Cyberman planet-bomb into the actual original Alvarez Impact… At this most traumatically significant transition-time for Likeable 5ive and his Famously Too-Numerous Pals, why not mark/muffle/muddle the Breaking of the Fellowship with the first starring role in kid’s pop culture for the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event? Anyway, EarthSoXoR was an ep I’ve heard a LOT, but never seen: SO NOW READ ON