- Coronations are dull things
- You read enough Vertigo comics in your youth (or, last week) and you have had sufficient for the next decade of ingénue audience identification figures having a world of wonder shown to them by an unreliable trickster.
- You’re no longer in your late teens, and you’re a little irked at another piece of culture that insists that the secrets of life and the universe are locked in hearts that, looking back, you remember as a little underdone.
The main problem with sequels, particularly those in the middle of an Actual Trilogy (one part then a bigger sequel cut in half) is trying to figure out what it was in the first film that worked, that gave it the boost which made your terrifying opportunity possible. Some filmmakers keep it together (Back To The Future), some completely lose the plot (Matrix, of course).
Gore Verbinski has gotten around this by making Dead Man’s Chest an extended 12″ remix of the first Pirates of the Carribbean film. The fundamental groove remains the same, though it would appear that we may have something of a breakdown on the er, B-Side. The new elements – Voodoo, Cthuhloid monsters, David Schofield as a particularly nasty representative of the East India Trading Company – flourish. And some of the old hooks are polished in the mix (was Jack Davenport really this good as the second villain in the original?). Fights, effects, the central three characters, all build on the original, suggesting that the first step was recognising it as one of the best put-together action films of the last twenty years. A solid foundation, not the sort of thing that you could just chuck, eg, Chow Yun-Fat into and hope for the best.
In other news, Chow Yun-Fat’s in the next one.
I’ve been trying to help a friend find the name for using a placeholder subject in a sentence. “It’s three o clock”, “There’s food on the table” etc. OED not an astonishing amount of use, but does classify the first one: ‘it’ can be used in the normal subject position when referring to time, distance or weather!
The Wallace & Gromit film is so well written and paced (though since they took a day to make 2-3 seconds, you can see why they’d need a joke every couple of days) that I thought “Why don’t they make movies like this any more?”. Then I remembered that they did, and I was watching one, and had missed two jokes.
- Though it’s always nice to see Steve Buscemi again, the real surprise is the reappearance, in the film’s best and biggest joke, of an indie character actor (verging on leading man) who’s not been seen for some time now. My respect for the fellow involved has gone up considerably.
- Scarlet Johansen basically plays the point of view of someone who’s picked up the film at random in a video store in five years time, while Ewan is the stand-in for someone who’s seen the trailer. Theres a good half-hour where most of the dialogue between them is “C’mon!” as he drags her on towards another cool thing that he knows is coming.
- All the complaints about murder porn that were thrown at Michael Bay’s last film, Bad Boys 2 are appropriate here as well. In fact, the main culprit is another highspeed chase along a motorway with stuff been thrown off cars.
- If the Chief Scientist in charge of Science (as opposed to in charge of being Eeeevil) looks familiar, then you’ve probably seen Constantine. Max Baker hasn’t been in much else, he’s just got one of those instantly noticable character actor faces. Which is why he’s in Pirates of the Caribbean 2, hooray!
- In fact, it was only when the Chief Scientist in charge of being Eeeevil went down to face our hero, by himself, with a gun, that I realised the film which had been flickering in and out of memory: Paycheck. This is a better film in nearly every way, but probably not enough to make it a really good one.
- More uncredited work for Mary Castro, a living testament to the viability of niche work in big screen cinema.
- Despite what certain other reviews on this site say, there is indeed an Island in the Island. It just doesn’t matter at all.
Because I’m a boring old sci-fi rockist, I didn’t get as much out of the new Doctor Who as most. Great start, lovely economy etc, but building up a series-wide theme to a climax written by Enya caused me to consider it a bit of a shame. Next series might be better, though.
Then earlier this week, for obscure reasons, I was looking for the Glastonbury ’99 live version of Orbital’s Doctor Who theme. It turns out that the studio version on The Altogether was a bit.. obvious, and missing the phenomenal build-up. So for thematic reasons, on to You Lot from the next album. A fine work-out – banging then bleepy then synthy for two and a half minutes, then SITTING UP IN MY CHAIR as the sample from The Second Coming starts, thinking “Yes! More of this! Another 100 series of this man being the Doctor.. aw bollocks”.
And then reading this letter from London (contains topical material) and hearing it read by Christopher Ecclestone, realising that himself and Russell T. Davies have created a character, and given name (and substance) to a voice inside us, furious and smart and good. Which is, yeah, is fantastic.
I don’t expect the new Doctor to be entirely like that, but that’s okay, I’ve got the old one either way.
Guess my theory:
Now this makes it unique among film that aren’t already direct by Gilliam, but the comparison doesn’t do it any favours. Mostly because the visual styles are so close, from the beautiful Shynola-made guide animations in between scenes, to the rubbery Jim Henson aliens. But also because it’s an exploration of the eternal battle between the English and the British, between a sensible hero and a surreal bureaucracy, through space rather than time or dream, and because it’s about beautiful English cynicism as it spreads through the universe.
This actually explains the most interesting casting. Zaphod is fanstasically annoyed, Ford is permanently hung-over, Alan Rickman hits the one note of Marvin bang on the head, and Trillian is… well, Trillian is a good reference point for Arthur, as in the books. But Martin Freeman basically plays Arthur as a repeat of his role in The Office, the last great examination of modern English/Britishness. And Bill Nighy steals the show as Slartibartfast, happy and excited to be doing work that he is entirely sure is of no use whatsoever.
A bit of water can make a lot of difference, and the one separating Ireland (Sky comes with the basic cable package, which also supplies life-giving BBC/ITV/CH4) and England (where I understand it’s a more exotic option) can lead to strange sights. But I couldn’t really get my head around a spot on the BBC morning news show about the new craze that’s sweeping the nation, the local knock-off of Sky’s Donald Trump-fronted The Apprentice. Ten minutes of pretending that this was the most original idea on television, and a complete refusal to even entertain the notion that there might be a naturally-comparable show. “I was down the pub recently, and one bloke forgot a drinks order, and the tother one turned to him and said “You’re fired!”. It’s really catching on!”
Also, while I am behind the times in a lot of ways, when did they start having ten-minute puff-pieces on Breakfast for other BBC programs?
On Team America: World Police
- Politics I: Any real ideology is eclipsed by the need to make things funny.
- Politics II: If they were really evil republicans with an axe to grind, wouldn’t they attack people loved by the left and hated by the right, like Greg Palast and Robert Fisk, not clowns like Sean Penn and Michael Moore?
- The accuracy of the pimp’s mustache on Sean Penn makes him more ridiculous than anything he does in the film.
- Parker and Stone are now, as they have always been, the leading proponents of Baran’s Law: Repetition improves all comedy.