Where Angels Play

When I get around to listing my top ten films of the year, 24 Hour Party People will probably be in the higher reaches. It’s a hopeless, shambolic documentary that somehow manages to be truthful whilst being completely open that it is making half of the story up as it goes along. And having lived in Manchester for three years, I love the portrayal of the city in all of its chaotic glory. Anyway, the DVD is out on January 27th, and it seems to be a worthwhile purchase:

  • Tony Wilson Commentary (audio)
  • Steve Coogan and Producer Andrew Eaton Commentary (audio)
  • Artists Commentary (Video - commentary was filmed
  • The film playing in a box on the right hand side) will include Rowetta, Peter Hook, members of Durutti Column and A Certain Ratio sitting in a Manchester bar
  • Sleeve Notes - a Who’s Who guide to the film
  • 24 Deleted Scenes
  • Interviews with cast and crew
  • Michael Winterbottom Documentary
  • Central Station artwork designs and commentary
  • Peter Saville artwork designs and commentary with Tony Wilson
  • New Order Music Video
  • Genesis of 24 Hour Party People - featurette
  • The Real Tony Wilson - Featurette
  • Playing People who are still alive - featurette

Good Idea...Bad Idea

Good Idea: Planning your time so as not to be overwhelmed by an impending deadline, the exam on Tuesday, and the marking.

Bad Idea: Having a brief look at the homework assignment, and realising that the deadline is tomorrow. Not Wednesday. Cue six hours of pain…

currently playing: Imani Coppola - It’s all About Me, Me, and Me


I was going to do this at the end of my last post, but I can’t imagine anybody making to the end of that little rant. Trailers that I remember from earlier today:

The Recruit - Okay, so it started out promisingly (Al Pacino and Colin Farell), but it ended up telling me so much of the plot that I don’t feel any inclination to seeing what it’s like with 100 minutes of padding.

Antwone Fisher - I’m getting cynical. Throughout the entire trailer, with Denzel being a concerned analyst to a troubled young Navy officer, I could only hear “OSCAR! GIVE ME ANOTHER OSCAR!” in my head. I blame my British upbringing, obviously.

The Life of David Gale - Kate Winslet and Kevin Spacey? Can I give them my money now? With me paying double if Alan Parker does a shot for shot remake of the finale from Bugsy somewhere in the film? So it’s a serious examination about the death penalty; does that mean that there can’t be a song-and-dance number? I think not.

The Emperor’s Club - Does the world need Dead Poets’ Society II? Really? If it begins with the class committing suicide en masse, I’m in. The trailer doesn’t give most hope of that, unfortunately…

Adaptation - Oooh! Nicolas Cage as a moody Southerner writer! With an identical twin! This is about a writer, Charlie Kaufman, who is trying to adapt a book into a film, and puts himself in the film. The actual film is written by Charlie Kaufman, and arose from his difficulties in trying to adapt a book. Should I mention at this point that Kaufman wrote Being John Malkovich? And that this is directed by Spike Jonze?

currently playing: Dubstar - Song No. 9

"You know what's wrong with you?"

I was intending on going to Raleigh Airport to get my tickets reconfirmed today, but I made the fatal mistake of stopping off at Southpoint Mall, not realising that the buses only stop there every two hours, instead of the hourly interval everywhere else. As I told my professor that I’d be available at a certain hour, there was no way I would be able to get back in time if I waited for the next bus to the airport, so I decided that the only sensible option was to go to the movies.

Punch-Drunk Love. Paul Thomas Anderson, 90 minutes runtime, and Adam Sandler. An unlikely combination, but strangely enjoyable, even if it was fairly slight on the plot front. And I loved the Philip Seymour Hoffman scenes (if only because twenty or so minutes in, I started wondering, ‘where’s Hoffman?’, and he turned up in the next scene). Anderson has got a lovely eye for beautiful shots, exemplified by the gorgeous Hawaii reunion scene that forms part of the poster for the film. Don’t be put off by the presence of Sandler; he’s rather restrained here. And quite funny. Shocking, I know. Never underestimate the power of pudding, that’s all I’m saying.

Now, I admit that I’m probably not the best person to give an opinion on this film; Charade is one of my favourite movies. It has a great mystery, solid and twisted plotting, superb pacing provided by Stanley Donen’s direction, a typically excellent Mancini score, and fantastic dialogue delivered by two actors who light up the screen with their wit and charm. The Truth About Charlie takes all this and manages to produce a dull, soulless facsimile, albeit with the correct copyright notice this time around. Remember Ronan Keating’s cover of A Fairytale of New York? Yes. It’s that bad.

The structure of Peter Stone’s screenplay has been almost completely removed from the film. The cold opening of the original is replaced with a less interesting expanded version of Charlie’s death, which manages to tell us as much in three minutes as Donen did in thirty seconds. It then follows the original (roughly) right up until the end of the police station scene. After that, Charlie veers away from Stone’s script, sometimes lifting little pieces of dialogue, but not much more. The discovery of the secret is handled very differently (due to some important parts of exposition and foreshadowing being left out of the new film), and manages to lose quite a bit of the impact in contrast to the original. And then there’s the ending, of which I’ll complain about later.

The worst flaw of the film is that it completely changes the relationship between the two leads. In Charade, Hepburn and Grant spend the film trading barbs and bickering to comic effect. In Charlie, Wahlberg looks like he’s having trouble remembering what country he’s in, never mind his lines, and while Thandie Newton gives the best performance in the film, the new script saddles her with terrible dialogue (has any British person in the last ten years asked for a ‘ciggie’? Do we really need “he was an orphan - an only child”?), and not much to do but look lost, as all the witty exchanges found in the original screenplay have been removed from the update.

So, the leads aren’t interesting. What about the bad guys? Well, they’ve received a make-over, with one now being Asian, and another a woman. No problems with that. Except they seem to do a lot less than they did in the original, and are far less menacing. Ho-hum. It didn’t need the part where Regina seems to feel sorry for the woman, either (after all, she had spent most of the film prior to that point threatening her life).

I understand that Demme wanted to recreate the film using the techniques of the French New Wave movement. It even sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea. However, after thirty minutes, I wanted to get a rivet gun and bolt the camera to the ground. There comes a point where it’s no longer clever and fun, just plain irritating.

And what about the ending? Now, it would be fairly simple to follow the original ending, wouldn’t it? After all, it was fairly suspenseful and entertaining. Or, I suppose, you can construct one of the most ludicrous Mexican stand-off scenes for many years, complete with a ham-fisted resolution. Oh, wait. And, just for kicks, you could eliminate the final surprise of the film, making the coda seem like dead weight. You will? Thanks.

Please go see Punch-Drunk Love instead. I would suggest that you get a copy of the excellent Criterion Charade DVD, which has a wonderful commentary by Donen and Stone as part of the extras. I would, but as part of the making of The Truth About Charlie, Universal revoked the rights to their Charade print from Criterion, so the DVD is now out-of-print. Which, of course, makes me dislike the new film even more, or at least the group at Universal who thought that it would be fun to withdraw the print. The useless, cretinous morons.

Yes, I’m biased. But there were a few other people in the theatre as well, who probably don’t have the same interest/obsession (delete as applicable), and they came out saying it was one of the worst films they had seen for a long time. Remember, we need to stop Wahlberg now, before he starts on The Italian Job….

currently playing: Spiritualized - Ladies And Gentleman, We Are Floating in Space (Original version)

Marvel, we would like a full size poster, please.


Skinning The Competition…Alive!

If only Radio 1 wasn’t considering letting them go when their contract is up next year….

After four rewrites, several false starts, and many vicious epithets hurled at the screen, I finally have a threaded proxy server that can handle 30,000 requests/hour. Of course it would be much better if I was in this position last week, but at least I can now finally finish the assignment.

Spent most of today in my normal post-Great-Time fit of depression, not particularly helped by oversleeping, having a rather bad headache all through the morning, and managing to get my shoelaces caught in my chair (and no, I have no idea how it happened, or why it took me five minutes to untangle the lace from the wheel). Embarrassingly, I almost fell asleep during the Compilers lecture as well. The chairs in that room are just too comfortable.

This week’s Buffy was a continuity fan’s dream. References to Angel, Xander’s role in Becoming Part 2, a flashback to ‘Once More With Feeling’ (with a new song!), and Dark Willow? Cool.

Global Frequency #1 turned out to be something of a disappointment. Like Ellis’ recent Planetary/JLA, it felt extremely rushed, and the plot seemed to be little more than a slight scaffold for Warren’s latest readings from New Scientist. I still like the concept though, so I’ll give it a few more issues to improve…

Mogwai - Take Me Somewhere Nice

A Flash of Clean White Hope

They say that music has become plastic and anodyne. They say that music is no longer political. They’re reduced to hyping rather mediocre bands, proclaiming them as the next big thing, despite the insipid 70s New York sound.

These people are Wrong, and Not To Be Trusted.

Sleater-Kinney played Carrboro last night. I’ve been eager to see them live for over four years now, ever since hearing ‘Little Babies’ as a Mark ‘n’ Lard record of the week.. Expectations? After that long, it would have to be one of the greatest concerts I had ever attended.

It was.

One of the benefits of arriving at least thirty minutes before the doors open is that you can normally get a good position in front of the stage. So I found myself less than an arm’s length away from Carrie as the concert began. That didn’t last long, as I let some short people go in front of me after the first song, but it was cool nonetheless.

They were absolutely fantastic. Playing most of their new album and a selection of old songs (sadly neglecting ‘The Hot Rock’, but they played ‘I Want To Be Your Joey Ramone’, so all is forgiven), they were even more energetic in person than on their records. Carrie was a Rock ‘n’ Roll God, pulling off poses that make Paul Simonon look tame in comparison, and dancing across the stage with a horizontal moon-walk (while staying playing the guitar, naturally). Corin was slightly more restrained, but just as irresistible. And then there was Janet. She was fabulous, ranging from the controlled precision of ‘One Beat’, to her showcase wild drum solo towards the end of the set.

They finished with a blistering version of ‘Step Aside’ that had everybody (and I mean everybody) dancing to the Motown-tinged beat. Of course, they came back for an encore, finally ending with ‘Little Babies’ and a roof-raising ‘Dig Me Out’.

Sleater-Kinney are probably one of the best bands on the planet today. But you won’t find them on the cover of Rolling Stone, or the NME, despite the critical acclaim that they have received on the past few years. They’ll never be hyped as much as The Strokes. Partly, this is down to them sticking to the independent record label KillRockStars rather than moving to a major (unlike certain bands), but I can’t help feeling that the a major part of this is the ’s are icky’ factor. So they remain one of rock’s best kept secrets.

I’m still partially deaf in one ear. Every bone in my body aches. But Carrie winked at me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

UPDATE: Pictures (a few, anyway) here

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Lions And Tigers



A Goldfish Named George

The funny.

Slight correction to the holiday dates - I’m only going to be staying until January 6th, as classes begin on the 7th, and I suppose I shouldn’t be missing them.

It looks like I’m going to become the Official Supplier of Robot Goodness to the V Forum, as Diamond will no longer be shipping any of the Transformers mini-series to any location outside of North America. And there’s no UK distributor yet (and even when one is found, you can be sure that they’ll resize the comic to the standard UK comic size), so British readers have to find black market back channels to get their Giant Robots fix.

Someone lock my credit cards away. Yes, I know they serve no use. But they’re so cute. Just try and tell me you don’t want to see Mr. Pink trying to outrace Amelie on a Tron lightcycle. You can’t, can you?

currently playing - Saint Etienne - I Was Born On Christmas Day

Try Not To Breathe

Still slightly terrified. But look! A squirrel!


I wish I had something exciting to talk to you about, but my absence for the past few days has been due to 10+ hour days of revising, supplemented by wandering around a very empty residence hall. Not many people hang around in the fall break apparently.

The backlog of films I want to see seems to be growing. Currently, the list is: Bowling For Columbine, The Rules of Attraction, Punch-Drunk Love, and The Truth About Charlie. Three of these films have been out for two weeks now, but they don’t seem to be in a hurry to make it down to the Triangle region. The DVD list is getting longer as well; this week should see The Killer and Battle Royale arriving at Bicester, and we’re getting closer to the release dates for Roman Holiday and Sunset Boulevard. I refuse to submit to the authority of the Christmas Zone. Unless threats are made, of course….

currently playing: Echobelly - Car Fiction - French Version