Posts from 2nd June 2004

Jun 04

disaster movie howler&spoiler: look away now!!

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 951 views

disaster movie howler&spoiler: look away now!!

OK in DAY AFTER TOMORROW it is very poorly explained why there is suddenly a tidal wave. Surely as more water became ice ABOVE sea level, sea level wd drop not rise?

The Day After Tomorrow

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The Day After Tomorrow

Brrrrr! Wrap up warm!


Why are cinematic portrayals of librarians always so cliched? – Oh the precious books! Don’t burn the precious books! philistines! – I was thinking that I’d burn the books without hesitation, and would probably say “no, not the chairs, these books will burn much better”. I’m a terrible librarian :(


WOW! Wind Chill Factor!!! Brrrrr!

PPPS (Thursday morning)

Oh yeah! At one stage I was thinking it’d be great if there were Pompei style frozen bodies littered around, and low and behold there they were!

well i say it’s ART so bite me

The Brown Wedge1 comment • 349 views

well i say it’s ART so bite me

newscaster jon snow on c4 news just now: “to pursue the metaphor, is there not a danger that you’re crying wolf before the stable door is bolted?”

RICKY VALANCE – “Tell Laura I Love Her”

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#107, 1st October 1960

Death ballads aren’t really about the unfortunate who dies. Listen to Valance’s pallid, picky enunciation; listen to the way he caresses every detail – “he was the youngest driver there”; “as they pulled him from the twisted wreck” – the way he almost licks the word “flames”. Valance’s graveside manners are those of a voyeur, sighing and wringing his hands as the guillotine falls. This morbid fascination with youth cut down recurs whenever youth is admired – only the circumstances change, from Little Nell through the gilded boy poets of 1914 to teenage lovers whose deaths prove their passion. There was always a Valance in attendance, to paint, sculpt or sing the pitiful details.

(Of course the dead didn’t have to be real, often weren’t, though it’s interesting that the death ballad in Britain stopped selling well in the 80s, when tabloid reporting of real death became more intrusive and more sentimental. The goggle-eyed pieties of the balladeers could hardly compete.)

The form is ghoulish, then, but the records can be good – indeed grand. The fatal climaxes of the Shangri-La’s hits are some of the most effective constructs in all pop. Even so they still seem a bit camp now – it’s hard somehow for death songs not to. Ricky Valance is no Shangri-La, though his “Tell Laura” leaves a (somewhat clammy) imprint on you even so.

Postscript: Joe Meek heard the American original of this and recorded not only another version but also a Brit-clone of the answer song, “Tell Tommy I Miss Him”. Both flopped, but Meek wasn’t finished with death songs and within a year would have released the best example ever to top the British chart.

THE SHADOWS – “Apache”

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#106, 27th August 1960

Hot weather music: languid and evocative but also precise and unshowy, every note placed with minimum energy for maximum effect. The echo on the lead guitar does two things – it conjures a shimmer of desert heat, and it also emphasises the fingerwork. It’s very easy to see why people loved the Shadows – their expertise and simplicity beckons you to find a guitar and try “Apache” yourself.

The Post-TV Diaries: Part 2

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The Post-TV Diaries: Part 2

Now that I don’t have one, I see television EVERYWHERE. I feel like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense. My days are full of annoying glimpses of Eastenders in the launderette, Hell’s Kitchen at my grandmother’s house (and my word, wasn’t ignorance bliss), tennis and football in the pub, CNN at work… not to mention every radio station being saturated with adverts and references to TV, which I simply hadn’t noticed before. When did television become acceptable wallpaper for our entire lives? I can run, but I bloody well can’t hide.

Brian Cox is Swiss Toni is Agamemnon

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Brian Cox is Swiss Toni is Agamemnon. From the near opening moment of Troy when this fact is revealed you know the whole affair will be ludicrous. Appreciated as a film version of a orally told tale makes things a lot easier. After all, Homer probably did voices to distinguish the characters. It probably makes sense of the part about fifteen pages in where Agamemnon says “You know winning a war is much like sleeping with a beautiful woman”.

I was worried that everyone would do those terribly British accents reserved for heritage films. No fear. Pitt wanders back and forth between sulky Kansas schoolkid to sulky Bertie Wooster. As for Krueger who plays Helen, her accent really is that scary. Because after all, these deeds will go down in HISTORY (everyone seems far too aware of this), despite this version of the Trojan war being three thousand six hundred and thirty days shorter than the original, an incident wise much less interesting.

Instead the film is propped up by Eric Bana playing the sensible, nice but doomed Hector, and Sean Bean’s Odysseus. Bean’s motivation is clear. Post Lord Of The Rings he has realised that the money is in the sequels, and certainly he would get much more screen time in the Odyssey. Bana is probably trying to make up for everyone hating the Hulk. In the end though the film falls between the stools of being too faithful (sticking to the basic storyline) and too Hollywood (glinting teeth, not so much gayness). The Iliad is, without the Gods*, a bit of a rubbish story with no real heroes to speak of. From the petulant Achilles to the warlike Agamemnon the Greek’s are all pretty unpleasant. And the Trojan’s are the bad guys (for which read they lose).

*The best way to save Troy (as a film, the city is long gone by now) is to add a God’s commentary track on to the DVD, with a pissed off Apollo being indignant at his statues desecration and Poseidon getting all arsey about the wooden horse.

FT Top 100 Films 90. Mars Attacks! (Tim Burton, 1997 )

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[Rescued Notes, Unaltered, from a Decommissioned Contemporary Review (the editor changed his mind and gave it to K!m Newm4n, a lovely chap labouring under the burden of having seen EVERY HORROR and SCI-FI MOVIE EVAH MADE!!)]

If Independence Day was largescale, impressive, smooth, slow and very very straight, Mars Attacks! is its evil punk-rock twin: the stories sometimes matches so closely scene-for-scene that one has to consider industrial espionage. At every point Mars Attacks! opts for a niggling, nastyminded, demonic assault – often as engagingly infantile in spirit as said Martian attack – on every stalwartly dated all-American value Independence Day traded in, from military knowhow, to family, to respect for High Office (if not for high officials). In Burton’s radically disaffected view, the phrase “Iwo Jima” must be so much oversold gibberish – as is the idea that a megabucks SFX movie should deliver to the paying audience the goodies and the gags it’s promised them, narrative-wise.

A riot of eyepopping Burton-esque designer colour, Mars Attacks! often seems to put the cash on the screen purely to mock those who handed it over to the director: the crowds who gather to welcome the Martians in Nevada organise themselves into colourcoded sectors for no purpose except unbiddable auteur whim. Meanwhile, star cameos are cut off at the knees (a couple none too soon, [Jack] Nicholson’s in particular); set pieces are skimped and subplots tossed aside. Illustrating worldwide reaction to the landing, a montage of stock footage – of the Mohammedan faithful at prayer, for example – is as sloppily, contemptuously edited together as in any dud disaster pic you ever saw. Biting in clotted rage at the hand that feeds, Burton demolishes Hollywood – for what? Their platitudinous dismissiveness to the trash he loves? Or the ease with which he won their support? Who does he revile more, the public who flocked Batman, or himself, for being able to make them flock?

If Tim Burton’s Ed Wood was Ed Wood’s Hollywood redemption, Mars Attacks! is surely Wood’s revenge, a story with no more coherence or inner truth to it than Plan 9 From Outer Space – that’s had x-squillion dollars poured into a budget that trashes everything 50s America held holy (Presidents, patriotism, the military, the family), with squint-shots taken at much held holy by others, coming later: liberals and hippies who welcome the Martians.

ILM etc.: the usual whining about films that are all special effects and no humanity.
[This baffled me for a moment also!! But ILM here = Industrial Light and Magic obv ]

Utterly conflicted in his love of trash – is this all a joke at our expense, or is it our salvation – Burton carefully orchestrates gags which are little more than a gleeful squeak of delight at the ludicrous fact that he Tim Burton been allotted all this cash (the colour-coded crowd who gather to welcome the Martians in the desert: their careful patterning, whether computer-generated or through the costuming of real-time extras, serves only one purpose – to demonstrate that Burton has been given the resources to pattern them,

(Cheese = feel)
[best critical slogan ever!!]

Were any human polities this technologically threatening, this inscrutable and this insane, at such a date? No slant-eyed Jap, no commie red or yellow, no Nazi, even, was this gigglingly fiendish purely for the sake of it (their leader would rather be in the line of human fire instigating mayhem and carnage, than safe back in his saucer)

Bulbous-domed, they wear their purple-and-orange grey matter on the outside, after the fashion of the Metalunans (This Island Earth, 1955): but while these latter outworlders were passive, intellectual, friendly and tall, the invaders in Mars Attacks! are none of these, being more of a kind with that genocidal fellow-Martian brainiac, Dan Dare’s little green nemesis The Mekon.

As sexless as the humans in 50s alien-invasion flicks, they appear find the very idea of women a fabulous joke,

Perpetually described in mainstream bios as “alienated”, Burton makes clear where his affections lie: it’s no accident that Lisa Marie – a gorgeously strange cartoon of a woman on and off screen, and his real-life throb of some years standing –

To save America, it became necessary to destroy it: the Washington DC appartment building that the Williams? family live in is now open to the elements, in hommage to [xxx]’s back-to-nature satire Themroc

(the passengers, mostly black, breaking into spontaneous applause)

extruding spidery legs and a ramp like an unfurling metal tongue.

Hiroshima and the torched body: guilt displacement.

Matching polka-dot fur [xxx] chairs


Pumpkin Publog2 comments • 1,000 views


The sports question is often a groaner for those of us who are rubbish at sport. This next question was particularly annoying last night because even when you work out what the question refers to, you still need additional knowledge. (And inspired guess got it though).

Q. If it was Sunderland in 1979 and Villa in 1981, who was it in 1980?