I’m still flummoxed as to the existence of complete movies on established, corporate sites such as google video for films that are not in the public domain – for example Threads is here but is out on DVD – how comes these don’t get taken down? Strange. Either way, this is probably one of the most frightening films ever made – no incidental music, a documentary feel that seems unique to 1980′s BBC TV, and based on a real study undertaken by the UK government in the early 80′s – sweet dreams. Maybe this will make you feel better.
I stumbled across this site recently and am amazed at the volume of material it holds. I’ve fired up ‘Casino Royale’ (which is quite good so far) and whilst the quality isn’t fantastic, it’s certainly watchable.
Here’s a full Radiohead gig, from OK Computer time.
I thought these were excellent – I dare you to make some up and leave them in strategic places around your office. Not that I’m advocating Fight Club style activites mind…..
Well, that’s that over for another year then. Bit of a non-event for me this year, my brother went to his girlfriends for Christmas Day so there was just three of us for dinner and everything, and we only opened our presents (towels, socks, aftershave, Mark IV Tac-Nuke Launcher etc.) yesterday so the whole affair was a bit of a non-starter – especially as I was back in work today.
The highlight present-wise was probably this which I’m looking forward to firing up shortly. The prospect of battling Galactus pushes all my nerd buttons – Excelsior!! In other news I also located the absolute best on-line insult during my browsing over the past few days so friends and foes beware - I am stockpiling material for the new year already.
In terms of films, I’ve had to resort to my personal collection and on-line membership as once again TV has come up with exactly zero films worth watching that haven’t been on before. I got through:
- A couple of Isabelle Huppert films, Loulou and La Separation, the first film fairly pointless and unengaging and the second a competently acted and directed middle class drama,
- A Minor Threat live DVD which was hysterical – 22 track gigs fly by in 30 minutes by these east coast noise pioneers, and the stage diving is simply jaw-dropping (it gets going at 01:21)
- King Kong – the second remake – actually a bit of a chore to sit through a second time, still quite sad at the end though (aaaahhhhh….)
- The Wind That Shakes The Barley – superb, quintessential Loach – perhaps not one for your Daily Mail reading Gran given it’s pro-republican tendencies although in seriousness it’s not that straightforward – to divulge anymore would lead to severe spoilers.
- The Proposition – one of the films of the year and certainly one of the best Australian movies ever made.
Right, I’m off to save the multiverse from the nefarious plots of Dr. Doom – wish me luck.
What a day. I promise not to bore you all with work stuff but today I was up at 4.30am due to good ole insomnia – a perennial bane of mine. I decided to go into work early and then soldiered on through a staggering seven hour back to back schedule of interviews so I could appoint a minion. In at 6.30am, left work at 5.10pm. So now I need some fun:
Lost films here. I’ve seen about half of them which I think is pretty good as some of them are quite esoteric and therefore difficult to see.
Vintage Onion. I really think many of the staff writers have moved onto other things as they very rarely produce laugh out loud pieces as funny as this anymore.
Finally, a bit of a downer – from Free Will Productions (which hopefully eliminates any conspiracy theory concerns) here is a sobering examination of the war. Given Blair’s pathetic current attempts to bolster his historical standing as his premiereship comes to a close, this is a apt antidote. Don’t even get me started on the ludicrous excuses for the BAE corruption inquiry being curiously dropped….
Merry Xmas Hive-Slaves !! Be sure to be more productive next year….
Enough movies already !! I do have other interests you know. For instance…..um….err…..well, I’ll get back to you on that one. OK, here’s some….
Comedy !! 59 Monty Python sketches.
The best of the year lists have started to surface, here are the most popular (which isn’t to say the best) viral videos. ifilm tends to crash for me, but if you’re that bothered I’m sure you can track most of these down on youtube.
Speaking of youtube – urban ninja !! Beats you Mr. Stokes.
My NFT renaissance continues, and last night I had the pleasure of observing Mark Lawson interview crypto-leftie conspiracy nutjob Oliver Stone. The interview was quite good, and Lawson did a good job of examining Stone’s role as the pre-eminent celluloid chronicler of post war US culture and politics. It wasn’t good as the David Lean Lecture I linked to a while ago, but an entertaining evening nonetheless. Stone made a bit of a unusual comment on the headlines he saw as he exited Heathrow – ‘Strangler loose in Ipswich, wow I love England, it’s like you’re stuck in a time warp – you still have stranglers, its like Jack the Ripper again….’
Stone was quite amusing when discussing the current global situation. When pressed he made the point that he has shied away from tackling the Iraq war as it is (finally) being reported so well by documentaries and more importantly on the web via sites such as the ubiquitous youtube. Any big film would be redundant by the time it came out, given that you need to give a subject a chance to breathe – any film made in say, 2003 would already be woefully out of date considering the relevations that are hitting the US press on a almost daily basis. Oliver Stone flies in to the UK the day before the release of the Diana inquest? Where’s my silver foil beanie?
Lawson spent some time on the masterpiece JFK – a film which had a profound impact on me when I saw at the cinema way back in 1991. At the time I was already developing strong suspicions of exactly how corporations, governments and big businesses operate in the world, and some of these thoughts were crystallised by this visual tour de force. I have since matured – to my mind there are some serious problems with some of it’s allegations (according to a recent BBC documentary Oswald was a good shot, and they proved that you could get off three rounds in the time frame presented by the Zapruder) film – but that’s another blog entry.
I think American Cinematographer elected it the best edited American movie in history, and when you consider the volume of material that is communicated I must agree. Great movie, suspect conclusions.
You’ll also no doubt be glad to hear that yet another version of Alexander is being released next year, a 3 hour 45 minute cut which fractures the existing narrative and loses the chronological structure of both the original and directors cut. I actually didn’t mind the film, even a sub-par Stone movie has it’s attractions – but I think I’ll give this a miss.
Saw The Dead beforehand, and to be honest it was quite dull, but redeems itself with a quite moving ending. A fitting coda to anyone’s career, particularly a director who was wheel-chair bound during shooting – everyone knew it was his final project.
Some pictures from new defence intelligence HQ in Moscow - Bob Kane should sue. I wonder if they have a bat-signal? And finally, here is the legendary Christmas Special that is once again doing the rounds. Ah, my first Star Wars link – I intend to make it my last. This atrocity may even be worse than Episode III, but it’s a close call.
EDIT – What did you get? 26 – 50 for me.
Travis: Yeah, well. Naw, I don’t know. I just wanna go out. I really, you know, I really wanna, I got some bad ideas in my head, I just…
Wizard: Look, look at it this way, you know uh, a man, a man takes a job, you know, and that job, I mean like that, and that it becomes what he is. You know like uh, you do a thing and that’s what you are. Like I’ve been a, I’ve been a cabbie for seventeen years, ten years at night and I still don’t own my own cab. You know why? ‘Cause I don’t want to. I must be what I, what I want. You know, to be on the night shift drivin’ somebody else’s cab. Understand? You, you, you become, you get a job, you you become the job. One guy lives in Brooklyn, one guy lives in Sutton Place, you get a lawyer, another guy’s a doctor, another guy dies, another guy gets well, and you know, people are born. I envy you your youth. Go out and get laid. Get drunk, you know, do anything. ‘Cause you got no choice anyway. I mean we’re all fucked, more or less you know.
Travis: Yeah, I don’t know. That’s about the dumbest thing I ever heard.
Oh damn, after Altman another respected figure moves on to the great screening room in the sky. I’ll always remember his superb turn as Wizard in Taxi Driver (as above), as the unashamed bigot in ‘Monster’s Ball‘ and of course as the monster in ‘Young Frankenstein‘ - ”PUUUTTN OUUNN THAAA WRIIITTZZ!” . I recently got the original Hunter S. Thompson movie ‘Where the Buffalo Roam‘ and while his performance as the good doctor’s lawyer was significantly more restrained than Del Toro’s in ‘Fear & Loathing’ he rescues a deeply mediocre film.
This reminds to track down one of Paul Schrader’s early films – ‘Hardcore‘ – another ‘Searchers‘ influenced picture. I saw it on Channel 4 many years ago, and I’m pretty sure it’s deleted in the UK – off to ebay it is then…….
Oh, and new 300 trailer here.
Lynch’s new movie is imminent, and boy does it look special. I’ve only just got round to seeing the trailer and haven’t quite recovered yet. As well as the usual Lynch acting troupe, (Laura Dern, Harry Dean Stanton, Grace Zabriskie) I was surprised to see Nastassja Kinski, William H Macy and Julia Ormond in the cast. Oh, and Naomi Watts as a talking rabbit. Now I’m scared again.
I have been purposefully staying away from reviews and articles on this for fear of spoilers – I still remember reading an article on Willem Dafoe back in 1990 which in a aside carefully pointed out in detail the gruesome end his character experiences in ‘Wild at Heart’. I hate spoilers.
Roll on February for 172 minutes of sheer mindfuckery from the world’s premiere mindfucker. Keeping with the strange theme, Michel Gondry solves a rubik’s cube - with his feet. How did he do it?
Let me begin by saying this is not ‘the Citizen Kane of fantasy film’ (as Kermode has proclaimed), it is not ‘a film that will change your life’ – it is very, very good – but it ain’t gonna change the medium. That said, it is a superb genre film and a candidate for film of the year.
Del Toro explores similar territory to The Devils Backbone (which I haven’t seen, but it looks good) and examines the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of a dreamer – a child who evidently finds comfort in her imagination from the terrible realities of a world in the midst of suffering, violence, personal upheaval and death. I love films like this, where you are whisked away to ‘somewhere’ else, unquestioningly, and become fully absorbed in the unfolding tale. This is a contemporary fairy tale that isn’t cynical, self referential, and is not marred with any knowing smirks to the audience. And rightly so.
I thought some of the visual cues were culled from Cocteau, and if you’re going to steal (sorry, I mean homage) then steal from the best. The movements between the real and fantasy worlds are effortlessly portrayed, and Del Torro revels in his creature and character designs – some quite unique and unsettling beasts are on show here. It’s one of those pictures you have to see at the cinema – and the ending is superbly executed.
On a tangent, I finally tracked down the exquisite ‘Belle et la Bete‘ earlier this year and it exceeded all my expectations – it is stunning. You’ll all be glad to hear I am preparing a ‘Films Of The Year’ post – split between new releases and things I’ve caught on DVD – Belle is on the second list. Jonathan Ross? Pah – stick with the Mint.
No unifying theme, just some general stuff that has been hanging around in my bookmarks, aimlessly mooching around, kicking at rocks, staring distractedly at it’s nails etc etc……
First off, a design for possibly the coolest building ever.
Something to help with those Cthulhu dreams.
Sweet Revenge – finally, those unstoppable rocks from ‘Asteroids’ get their own back. Did you know the highest score ever recorded for Asteroids is 41,336,440 which takes over 27 hours to reach? Well, then you’ve learnt something today. Be sure to use that in your next meeting as a illustrative example of the results of hard-work and dedication. It’s bound to impress that foxy blonde from procurement.
An illuminating interview with the dudes behind South Park. Like most, I think I lost interest in South Park a good many years ago, but their recent efforts seem to be getting under just about everyone’s skin which must be a good sign. If you wish to take your life in your hands, I dare you to seek out the Muhammad episode.
Following on from the weekend, it appears that uber band Big Black only reformed for a one off gig in celebration of Touch & Go’s 25th anniversary. God bless the internet to have that live footage. Can’t wait for the documentary to become available.
Now, this is just sick – a mum befriends her son on the internet by posing as 17 year old on Bebo, he falls for her. Years of therapy, schoolyard beatings will not doubt ensue. Nice of her to publish this in a daily, national newspaper too eh? As it was put on metafilter – ‘OK. That’s just a bit weird. *backs slowly away from the internet*’…
Another poster replies to the story by explaining that his sister-in-law sent her son an email inquiring as to his preference for dinner that evening. His email response:
“This is so gay. Never email me again.”
I’m still laughing at that one…..
This needs some research…..later…….confused…….
Attended an interview and Q&A with Angelica Huston last night at the superlative National Film Theatre, offically the best cinema complex in the world (no talking, no food, no phones, no children, no late admissions – perfect). The event was the centrepiece of a two month retrospective of John Huston’s work, and as such much of the questions revolved around her relationship with her father, particularly the difficulties she had with conjuring a performance on his swansong picture ‘The Dead’.
Angelica was a very effective raconteur, taking on the questions and revealing some interesting insights into her career and work with Woody, Wes and most amusingly (well, for me and Nick) her appearance in the sadly overlooked Ice Pirates. OK, it’s not overlooked, it’s just rubbish – but it was funny nonetheless. Still, you’d think most ‘serious’ actors would have avoided such disclosures. For the record, I think Crimes and Misdemeanors is Woody’s best film – and of course I’m always right.
Happily for me, the last question revolved around a discussion of one of her best roles as ‘Lily’ in one of my favourite noir/crime films – ‘The Grifters’. She explained that she was still reeling from her recent breakup with ‘Jack’ at the time, and as such pushed that experience into her complex performance of a morally bankrupt character who was willing to ‘cannablise her children’ for the ole greenbacks. As I have previously mentioned, I love con-man movies and ‘The Grifters‘ is one of the best I’ve seen. Angelica (see, we’re already on first name terms now) spoke quite superbly about how on some projects everything gels – the director, actors, production designers etc. really engage with the material and produce something genuinely memorable – and that makes it all worthwhile.
She also revealed that she’s flying out to India in January to do a cameo role in Wes Anderson’s new picture – a quick check reveals that this production isn’t on IMDB – weird. Apparently she makes a cameo in the final scenes of this film as a ‘Colonel Kurtz Nun’ – you heard it here first.
I do love these events, and I gave myself a pat on the back for finally renewing my NFT membership so I can attend more next year. Like Jane Fonda who I saw in conversation a couple of years ago, it’s quite odd to see these people in the flesh, especially when you consider (film nerd mode) that you are engaging with Hollywood ‘royalty’ – the Huston’s and Fonda’s can trace a line all the back to the begining of the ‘talkies’ (with Walter and Henry) and for me that’s cool.
I also have tickets to see Oliver Stone at a similar event next week – so I’ll be happy to pass on any conspiracy questions you feel need answering.
EDIT – Transcript of the evening here.
Semiotic analysis (fourth post down) of a recent Amex Red magazine campaign. Less obvious, but much the same goal – to extract the gullable from their cash, under the aegis of doing good for others. Discuss.
I got the above link from a nice JG Ballard site – the Cronenberg ‘Alien’ via Ballard adapation is great fun. I wonder if Alan Dean Foster is still going strong? Well, yes. A very good film & TV news blog, and finally some genuine fun. That is all.
Science Fiction Bookclub’s list of the fifty most significant science fiction/fantasy novels publishede between 1953 and 2002: Apparently, you’re supposed to bold the ones you’ve read, italicise the ones you didn’t finish,
strikethrough the ones you hated and mark the ones you lurved with an asterisk*.
I’ve finished every book I’ve read, with the (dis)honorable exception of ‘Battlefield Earth’ so no italics for me…
1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien *
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson *
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick *
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury *
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson *
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in theHigh Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien *
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut *
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner*
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock *
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
I love movies with twists. Caper movies, robbery movies, con-man movies, supernatural movies – if they have a decently structured and immaculately revealed twist then I’m generally happy, regardless of the quality of the rest of the picture. I guess it’s like an intellectual challenge, except in narrative form – sudoku or crosswords bore me rigid, but tell me that a new movie has a great twist in it then I’ll be knocking on the box office kiosk come opening weekend. I guessed it was two killers in Scream about 20 minutes in, that Bruce Willis was without a pulse in The Sixth Sense and <SPOLIER ALERT> that they were conning the con man in Nine Queens . A movie like The Prestige is certain to intrigue, and I’m happy to report that this is a smart, well constructed (if a bit overlong) film which has the audacity to explore the notion that the very fact of watching a movie revolves around the audience embracing a necessary illusion…..
Christian Bale and High Jackman (the first time I’ve seen him worthy of a leading man role) play duelling magicians in a sepia hued Europe on the cusp of the 20th century. As the story weaves through the challenges and tricks the two protagonists unleash on each other, Nolan also explore the gulf between reality and fantasy, science and belief against an intriguing backdrop of a world uncertainly embracing the twin evolving marvels of science and technology. The dual motif structure is reflected on many levels of the film – as the story unfolds and the twists are revealed, you’ll understand what I mean….
It’s not perfect – the delectable Scarlett Johansson is sorely underused (what has happened to her career? The Island, Match Point, and now this? Sack her agent) and I honestly can’t remember what happened to her character – she seems to vanish about 45 minutes before the final denouement. Andy Serkis continues his shifty side-kick career as Alley, henchman to David Bowie’s Nicoli Tesla - a real world cult figure. Don’t let the critics put you off, the accent is not that bad. All in all, a very entertaining, smart and thought-provoking movie. I’d welcome thoughts and opinions in the comments field – although I warn you who haven’t seen it that there will inevitably be major spoilers so avoid if you intend to see it.
For my money, it’s always a sign of quality to see Ricky Jay in a movie, even if only for a cameo as another magician in The Prestige. The man is one of the leading close hand magicians in the world, and in fact advises movie makers on technical special effects and tricks that can be performed ‘in-camera’ – given the glut of CGI polluting our screens these days this makes him something of a unique figure. He can actually throw playing cards into fruit and was until recently the world record holder – 190 feet distance at a speed of 90mph. Does this make him a portly real world Bullseye?
I also managed to catch saw Pan’s Labyrinth this week, but that is another story….