Do You See

30
Oct 04

London Film Festival

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London Film Festival: the hot news is, fuck the London Film Festival. It’s a kind of test case for reception theory: I used to think, sponsors be damned, here is an opportunity to watch lots of skill films. But such is the intensity of branding and general Murdoch fannydangle that my old position is no longer tenable. I’m not going to play the viral game and say what the ‘hot’ films are. I saw some good films and some bad, but I would have seen them eventually, in my own time, and without pressure at some point anyway. No film is ‘discovered’ at the London Film Festival: most of them have been bought for distribution already. This is true of the Cambridge Film Festival, which I boosted here. But that had charm, and an enthusiastic audience: this has awful non-fans. Last night I overheard a conversation along the lines of ‘I kind of got confused between [Faye Wong] and [Gong Li]’ — from someeone who had seen ’2046′ already at Cannes, ie who was likely High Up in the film world. Possibly I like going for days out (ie to Cambridge) more than to films. I dunno. Martin Luther was right.

It won stuff at Cannes

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It won stuff at Cannes, is tremendously over the top and violent and yet the film that Oldboy reminded me of the most was Amélie. Not just because it employs a visual toolbox which encompasses state of the art digital trickery along with some wonderfully choreographed camerawork. But that the film drifts in and out of the conscious thoughts of our lead Oh-Dae-Su, often picking up his hallucinations, flights of fancies and torture along the way.

Also like Amélie this is at its heart an unlikely romance. What with the films revenge film trappings the romance seems hugely out of place (which is why I managed to guess its significance). That said it is a cute counterpoint to the driven lead.

Oldboy is a frequently ludicrous thriller whose overall audaciousness married with some knife-edge acting makes it thoroughly enjoyable. If you like films where people eat octopuses whole, giant ants ride the subway and people get their teeth pulled out with a claw hammer. I might suggest therefore that if any of those things put you ill at ease, then Oldboy might not be for you. It certainly lacked the focus (and no nonsense title) of the same directors previous Sympathy For Mr Vengeance. What it loses in pathos, it gains in entertainment. But it is in its heart just a a violent Korean version of Amélie.

29
Oct 04

Channel 4: Not Rubbish

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Channel 4: Not Rubbish

04:35 Honda F4-Stroke Powerboat Race Series

Navigational errors cause race upsets in the penultimate rounds of the 2004 Honda Formula 4-Stroke 150hp championship at the Honda British Grand Prix in Plymouth.

Perhaps I should explain. It’s now been a solid six weeks since I last properly watched telly, and what with impending essay deadlines and so on it seemed only right that I started to look through the TV listings to wonder upon what I might be missing, hence that little beauty above. Channel 4 has also been running the Hall Of Fame thing, which it is probably better that I avoided since I don’t need another reason to want to punch people in the face. How very nice of them to have finally banished that horrendous myth that music in the 1980’s might have involved synthesisers or homosexuals.

On BBC2, we notice that HeadJam has now become Vernon Kay’s HeadJam, Balamory’s somehow lost ten minutes, The Smoking Room’s transferred itself across, I am actually quite annoyed that I’ve not seen “Who Do You Think You Are?”, and just generally pissed off that the BBC doesn’t have highlights on its site like what say Comedy Centraldoes, as I spent most of the night before watching clips of the Daily Show and wishing it could be on over here. Instead:

9:00 pm Dead Ringers
American Election Special: Impressionists Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens and Kevin Connelly tackle the US elections, with their versions of John Kerry, Michael Moore, and rap MC George W Bush.

Essay it is, then.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

A sadly lacking game. Six or so out of ten. Come back Driv3r, all is forgiven.

Oh alright, bigger review coming.

28
Oct 04

The problem with short films

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The problem with short films is that you nearly always see them in collections. I remember at the Dublin Film Festival seeing a whole day of shorts, mainly local ones, that the only ones that really stuck out were the really ropey ones. A good short is often subtle, quirky, clever. A shit short is usually tedious, obvious and badly acted.

Coffee And Cigarettes is a collection of similarly themed Jim Jarmusch shorts filmed in black and white with various famous and semi famous actors. They all take place as chats over coffee and ciggies, usually on slightly surreal topics (Tom Waits and the RZA revealing their other lives as emergency doctors f’rinstance). Problem is eleven very similar shorts over an hour and ahalf get rather boring. Visually they are not all that interesting and beyond the celeb spotting the segments rarely have even a basic storyline (the Alfred Molina Steve Coogan one would have been good if Spider-Man had not made Molina a bigger star). The film is only good as its worse segment (a really clunky girl reading a gun magazine bit) which means the whole is rather clunky.

Stay behind after class

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Stay behind after class

So, the fourth series of teachers has started on C4 with very little fanfare. I guess everyone else round here has given up on it, but I saw the beginning of the first ep on Tuesday. Since Andrew Lincoln (or Egg, as he’s still called round my house) left, Kurt and Brian had gone from comic relief to absolute stars, the reason for the programme to exist. But, hold on, they’re not in the new series (neither is the twatty bloke who was in the chewing gum commercial), the actors going on to other things. “How will they get round this?” meg and I wondered. We certainly didn’t expect them to ACTUALLY PISS ON THE CHARACTERS’ ACTUAL GRAVES, which happened within five minutes of the programme starting. There was no explanation as to how they died, neither do I think there will be in forthcoming eps, but then again, I won’t be watching so it doesn’t really matter…

27
Oct 04

A magazine editor once gave me a very severe look…

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A magazine editor once gave me a very severe look when I told him ‘Century of the Self’ was better than any movie in 2002. I don’t think he owned a TV. I like what I’ve seen of Adam Curtis’ newie ‘Century of PH34R’ or something, which isn’t much ‘cos Tescos home delivery have been messing me about. But do I score for recognizing his nice use of, um, score? Morricone’s ‘Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion’. Subliminal, man.

Notcied at the National (ITV – ahem) Television Awards last night

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Notcied at the National (ITV – ahem) Television Awards last night was how one particular channel seemed to do better than all the others. Indeed I would be hard pushed to think of anyone who worked on a BBC show who won an award. That is fine however, ITV may well have been the better channel over the last year, certainly in terms of soaps, or serial drama as it likes to be known so it does not get picked on by reality TV*.

However when one looks at the “Special Recognition Award” winners in its history, a trend is very clear:

1995: Julie Goodyear
1996: David Jason
1997: Robson Green
1998: John Thaw
1999: Michael Barrymore
2000: Chris Tarrant
2001: Des O’Connor
2002: Ant & Dec (!!!!)
2003: Sir Trevor McDonald
2004: Caroline Quentin

An odd list, notable for containing people who seem to have big ITV hits at the time, or people who have just been wooed on big contracts who need a sweetner (Robson Green and this years winner Caroline Quentin fit that bill). As this award is not nominated by the public, it is at the behest of the ITV boardroom to see who they need buttering up this year.

*Which is a seperate section by itself, won again by Big Brother. Question was put though why Wife Swap was not in the Reality Show catagory and instead was allowed to win the best Factual Show award.

Can you make a successful film with a couple of good actors

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Can you make a successful film with a couple of good actors in the back garden of a stately home? Only if your source material is really top notch, and unfortunately The Triumph Of Love’s source materially is a ropey old 18th Century French farce. Cross dressing, mistaken identity, the full whack. And without anything like a successful denoument: the fun appears to be in winding its characters up into a fever pitch of tension, and then dropping all but the supposed romantic lead in some unpleasant shit. Not what I expect from quality farce, but perhaps I have seen too much Frasier.

Mira Sorvino does not help matters by being really attractive but completely unconvincing as a boy. It is at least a credit to the piece that the very wise philosopher (Ben Kingsley) who she tries to fool does not fall for this appalling disguise. That he falls for her sexual wiles is equally convincing, an old bloke being told of undying love by a fit bit of stuff is something philosophers rarely get. But when the moment of discovery (basically Sorvino has asked every other character to marry her) there seems to be a grand climb down. Not even a vicar in the cupboard or two inappropriate people clinching in the dark.

It was a play, and on film remains a play (by Marviaux). It acknowledges this by occasionally turning the camera on to a modern day audience sitting in the garden, a nice bit of self commentary which is about the only stylistic quirk the film has. But as a document of a play it stumbles on the key point that the play is not very good. If your players are great, but are made to perform poor material the end result will still err on the side of lousy, and sit on the shelf like this has for three years. Not a triumph at all.

26
Oct 04

Broadcasting legend John Peel dead

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Broadcasting legend John Peel dead
From the BBC Newsroom:
Radio 1 DJ John Peel has died at the age of 65. He was on holiday in Peru with his wife Sheila when he suffered a massive heart attack in a hotel. John had been on Radio 1 since it went on air in 1967. The network’s controller Andy Parfitt said “John Peel was a broadcasting legend. I am deeply saddened by his death as are all who work at Radio 1. John’s influence has towered over the development of popular music for nearly four decades and his contribution to modern music and music culture is immeasurable. He will be hugely missed. ”