Posts from March 2013
Doctor Who: The Bells Of St John
This one came off as a remix of a few previous companion-intro episodes. Disembodied intelligence and London landmark from Rose, whimsical Doctor and companion-as-kid backstory (well, sort of) from Eleventh Hour, and hardass businesswoman villain plus everyday-menace plot from the Adipose one.
For the puzzled: Japanese schoolgirls re-enacting magical martial arts moves from manga, photographing and uploading them. For the record: AMAZING.
(<---I love the pile of schoolbags.)
A third album in as many years – for all that they were an honest phenomenon now, for all the still-spiralling popularity, Take That kept their workrate brutally high. Invisiblity is death in pop, and in the pre-net era visibility meant product. Commercially, said product would be as close to a cert as one could want, so even amidst the Stakhanovite grinning and flexing there might be room for experiment. Namely, a seven-minute video to show off the boys’ comedic talents (which proved feeble) and a chance for Gary to do an R&B number.
Reliably, Julian Temple still really annoys me. It was already a third of the way in when I switched his Doctor Feelgood doc (I’d only just got in and hadn’t realised BBC4 were screening it tonight), but I was watching because Bob Stanley had told me he liked it. Bob’s judgments are good, and I was probably grumbling about past Temple action when he stepped in to rep for Oil City Confidential: long ago I wrote this about The Filth and the Fury (the word “dinosaur” subbed in there unwanted unpleasingly, grrr), and this about Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten (JSTOR sub need, I’m afraid, grrr bah). So yes, I’m still really quite grumpy about these, the first especially.
But then I’m way over-invested in how people write and think about the Pistols, and if I’ve warmed to posh dead Joe a little, I still dislike the Clash enough that anything that doesn’t at least somewhat reflect my irritations is going to bug me. Both times there’s seriously the problem of placing yourself retroactively onside with the lads — of treating a long-ago victory as a battle still courageously to be fought and won. But with Feelgood the issue of belatedly declaring yourself a warrior on behalf of the correctly direction of history isn’t actually quite so much of an issue — like many supposed precursors of punk, their vanishment was by and large the price of its triumph — so I was willing to concede (or at least imagine) that Temple might do well by them.
Well, he does and he doesn’t.
I saw Theatre Of Blood for the first time tonight, at a BFI Screen Epiphanies showing (you will be unsurprised to discover it was a favourite of one of the League Of Gentlemen, Reese Sheersmith). I know this is far too late in life to watch such a delightfully well made black comedy, but I enjoyed it thoroughly with the additional frisson of having the directors family sitting behind me. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, Theatre Of Blood is a wickedly dark horror comedy where Vincent Price plays Edward Lionheart, a classical actor/manager who specialises exclusively in Shakespeare who runs foul of the 1970 London Critic Circle. Thought dead from suicide, he returns to bump each of the critics off in a suitably Shakespearian fashion. Hammy, gory and with a wonderful 70’s Who’s Who cast, it is a treat – with a delightful central premise. In particular it overcomes the biggest problem in black comedies, how to balance sympathy for the central murderer without being voyeuristically complicit. Here all we meed to know is in the opening line with Michael Hordern’s critic, a pompous ass bemoaning that his best crack against an actress had been cut from his review. These are critics, and self-satisfied ones at that, who the audience have no difficulty in agreeing deserve their fates. Price is so delicious as the lead, given an extra dimension by Diana Rigg’s devoted daughter, and the critics are so grotesque, that you worry some may escape. So you get gore, imaginative deaths, and Vincent Price delivering ten of Shakespeare’s finest roles (also a bout of fencing on trampolines!*). By the end of which you appreciate the bitter irony that you still root for Lionheart even though through these performances you know the critics were actually right. He is pretty terrible.
Being of my unoriginal, gadfly, generation, and enjoying the film thoroughly, my first thought on exiting the cinema was of a remake. If you were to do a remake, who would star?
So the great clear out happened. WHat went from an Aladdin’s Cave of the lost and misplaced briefly had bare shelves. We even got rid of the duvet. So the Lost Property Office took a short hiatus for a few weeks whilst we patiently waited for the students in the area to start losing things again. And what a bunch of losers they turned out to be, from law pupillage guides, to bodice ripping fantasy yarns. Oh and a pair of pants, there is always a pair of pants. How do people lose pants? Seriously.
But as ever I digress, like we always do on the show. So in this weeks show, we discuss anti-abortionists, cats, cat castration, basically a whole fistful of sexual reproductive issues. And you don’t want that in your fist. This weeks guest is Marna Gilligan, FreakyTrigger’s queen of cheese. Watch her delve with gusto into the all new lost property office.
Young Avengers 2, by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen (post will contain SPOILERS)
Let’s think about pop and parents for a moment.
Pop from the 50s on may have been about the generation gap, but it was rarely about the generation gap. Parents showed up occasionally as a force of denial, a brick wall, an elemental “no”, but from the start – “Yakety Yak”, say – they’re a figure of fun, too. Gradually they fade from the picture entirely – the dramas and crises, the lusts and dreams of pop are played out in a world emptied of parents. Parents become ever less threatening, more petty, more ludicrous. As the generations turn, they also become the people who failed – and were failed by – pop, fans themselves in some laughable old time, long gone. But now? Aw Mom you’re just jealous it’s the BEAS-TIE-BOYS.
And yet some trace element remains of real struggles, a genuine gap in which the Midwich Cuckoo boomers – hip to pop – faced a parental force whose own shaping experiences (wartime, the depression) were utterly alien. The unbending parental authority of the American 50s and 60s quickly passed into pop culture myth, so much so that it’s impossible for someone like me, born to post-hippie parents, to truly comprehend how real it might have been. But as a myth it lingers, pop’s chthonic enemy from pre-Beatles deep time, remembered in certain phrases or ritual gestures.