The Love Actually Sequel is for charity.



Film As you will have noticed from the many click bait articles which have slipstreamed in its stead containing what amount to a synopsis and screenshots for people without the patience to sit through ten minutes of moving images with sound, a Love Actually sequel was broadcast during this year's Comic Relief. I did not watch Comic Relief. Comic Relief stopped actually being comic relief many years ago when budgets were clearly cut and many of the comedians I actually liked retired in favour of the kinds of people who turn up on comedy panel shows. Oh and when paradoxically they stopped doing special versions of comedy panel shows.

But I did dip in after seeing High Plains Drifter for the Love Actually sequel if only so that I wasn't going to be spoilt by the many click bait articles which have slipstreamed in its stead containing what amount to a synopsis and screenshots. Perhaps it would provide an magical epilogue to the original monstrosity with the ability to retrospectively nullify some of its crimes. In the event, caught between homage, parody and straight sequel and shot in a televisual style on 16:9 digi-cameras, well, no, no it didn't. The moment at the end of the making of documentary on the Spaced dvd which showed what happened next for Tim and Daisy was more relevant and essential.

Yet it feels like I should provide some analysis, not least because thanks to discovering the joy of reading and binging on Star Trek, this blog has lately become without form and void just as I feared it might do at some point. Linking to the same bloody film review and old blog posts on Twitter isn't the same thing. To provide some structure I'll reuse some of the subject headings from that same bloody film review even though most of them probably won't fit. There's not a lot you can do with a ten minute piece. On the upside, unlike the content of that original post, I don't have the final mark for a post-graduate degree counting on it being coherent.

It’s not a romantic comedy.

Still isn't. One of the inherent problems with sequels to romantic comedies is that narrative unity has already been fulfilled first time around. That's why there tends to be so few of them, there's nothing less amusing than watching the same couple fall in love again. That's why they generally seek to focus on some other couple who're related to the main characters from the original film, as per This is 40 or My Big Fat Greek Wedding II. The reason the Before ... trilogy works is because the first film didn't provide a solid ending, there was a moment of doubt, something which could be picked up later in the unplanned sequel.

Love Actually again isn't trying to be a rom-com in the strictest sense, setting itself up to follow the pattern of Richard Linklater's films and the Cold Feet revival. What are these beloved characters doing now? As with both those examples, in the answer in this text is getting old, although with the slim running time there precious little space to enter into any profound discussions about the implications of ageing. About as close as the script comes to such is Liam Neeson's Daniel acting like a Outbin clicker "You won't believe how old your son looks now ..."

Though it's noticeable that all of the original film's featured hetro couples are still together after fourteen years. The huge mistep is in killing off Gregor Fisher's manager character offscreen and in an offhand comic way. His ambiguous relationship with Bill Nighy's Billy Mac was one of the film's few truly poignant moments and to plop that revelation into the middle of this seems ill advised and somewhat ruins the conclusion of that storyline depending on how canonical you consider this sequel to be. There'll be fan arguments on discussion boards for years to come. "But it was for charity and featured the Eastenders!" "Yes, but it's the Rani's third tv appearance!" That sort of thing.

It’s poorly edited.

Arguable. Mainly a series of sketches, there is some motioning towards the structure of the original film with some cross cutting between some characters single scenes and the sections featuring Hugh's PM and Atkinson's angel (or whatever he's supposed to be). But there's no sense of time. Is the car ride between Jamie and Aurelia supposed to happening while the shop assistant is filling the bag or are we supposed to assume that they're disembodied sketches, the cross cutting between mirroring the approach used frequently in The League of Gentlemen or The Fast Show?

Presumably the idea is to create an increased longevity to that shop scene but the point of the scene in the original film, other than providing levity to a moment about a man buying a present for his potential mistress, was that due to the longevity, the audience, like Alan Rickman's character was stuck in that moment watching the shenanigans as they pressed on and on and on. Cutting away here kills the joke stone dead. Not that it was especially funny to begin with due to the lack of surprises.  Especially when Curtis cut to the massive queue outside.  Didn't see that coming.  At all.

They’re barely characters.

Quadruply true here. Imagine if you'd been lucky enough to have never seen Love Actually before watching what amounts to a series of callbacks to (admittedly for some) beloved scenes. None of it really makes any sense and only goes to highlight as I indicated in the original review, just how much they're simply playing versions of the kinds of roles they've played elsewhere.

It's also notable that most of the male actors in here haven't changed the kinds of roles they play that much in the meantime. Most of them have simply shifted into more character rather than leading men roles, with the exception of Liam Neeson who has become an all the skills action hero something none of us expected.  I miss the man who made Kinsey.

It’s less funny and even a bit creepy the second time around.

Good god, the Andrew Lincoln section makes that original storyline even worse. Now we can watch the original film safe in the knowledge that stalkery Mark is going to return in fourteen years to essentially shame Juliet for not choosing him in the first place and then boasting that he's married Kate Moss. Who actually turns up so she can be part of the reveal. I appreciate this is supposed to be funny and charming and a homage to the Claudia Schiffer cameo in the original film and has a metafictional element in which the idiot boards talk the viewer but the fact that Richard Curtis still doesn't get why all of this is horrendous, unfunny, creepy and sinister does him no credit.  In this month Empire, during an interview with Paul Feig he even mentions someone calling this the "the stalker scene" to his face.  He knows.  He knows.  And yet here we are again.

It’s about middle class white men seducing their employees.

This sequel only goes to remind us of this and even uses their change of status as a source of humour. "I liked you best when you worked for me" he says. Christ. Oh how they must reminisce. "Remember when I used to pay you a salary?" There's no indication as to whether Aurelia has her own job now and without much more evidence it's not fair of me to speculate.  But that is a lot of children.  Hopefully they share the caring duties.

Nearly all of the men are creeps anyway.

Fucks sake Jamie haven't you learnt Portugese yet? You've been married to her for over a decade and her English is amazing. Your children know the language better than you do. I appreciate this was the point of that scene and writing is hard and finding something new to do with this couple was probably tough but it makes Jamie look even more foolish than he did in the original film and that's saying something.  Admittedly that's not creepy in the Mark sense, but another definition is "slow steady movement, especially when imperceptible" which seems to fit the bill here.

The only two “main” female characters have unhappy endings.

Almost all of the female characters are still in supporting roles and used to create a moment of surprise, Natalie bursting in on her husband dancing, Kate Moss's cameo and Joanna's reveal (It literally is "Here's Love Actually's Olivia Olsen all grown up! Photos on pages 3, 4 & 8").  Incidentally, in that same EMPIRE interview, Richard Curtis says the Laura Linney storyline from the first film is something he's most proud of.  He still doesn't get it, even now.

Assuming they’re main characters at all.

The one exception is Aurelia who has one of the longer speeches and funniest reactions in the piece (making Jamie's lack of language skills somewhat forgivable).  A glance at the IMDb indicates Lúcia Moniz has been in solid work on Portugese television since 2003.  Good for her.

It has a stunning lack of diversity.

Still somewhat true in a lead character sense due to the casting choices from the original film. Chiwetel Ejiofor remains on the sidelines. Gregor Fisher's potentially gay character has been killed off.  But the supporting cast is exceedingly diverse, notably the boy who acts as straight person for Atkinson's antics and the press pack in the press conference at number 10, although that is still overwhelmingly white (probably simply reflecting the industry more than anything given how many of the people in the crowd were invited from actual news organisations).

Three redeeming features:

(1)  "And Piers Morgan's still alive." Oh burn and the only genuinely laugh out loud funny moment due to its audacity.  Morgan spent Comic Relief Day in a vow of silence.  I wonder if that broke when he sat watching this and heard that comment.  It's amazing he wasn't straight on Twitter saying nasty things about Hacked Off again or whatever.

(2)  Hugh's final speech, which he plays beautifully, recalling his superb performance in Curse of the Fatal Death.  Curtis knows how to write this stuff still at least and the message, as Mark Kermode also says, that everything is going to be alright in the end, is just the sort of thing we all need to hear right now.  Plus the Elf joke which I'm sure pleased Gary Bainbridge who hates that film just as much as I hate Love Actually.

(3)  It was short.

In Conclusion

There was a time when I adored Love Actually, before having to take it apart frame by frame for my dissertation and I'd be lying if I didn't say that there was something Proustian about revisiting these characters or that re-hearing the Shakespeare in Love theme at the end didn't make me sigh.  Some people still love this film and I can't hold that against them.  Indeed this almost made me want to go back and watch it again after ten years.  Perhaps I'm just afraid I'll like it too.

My Favourite Film of 1906.



Film After last week’s early sound experiment, here’s a colour filmmaking system from 1906.

George Albert Smith’s documentary Tartans of Scottish Clans is mostly simply that, shots of tartan patterns with their identifying labels, with a last minute twist.

Smith is utilising a two colour process he invented.

Kinemacolor projects a black and white image behind alternating red and green filters.

The Wikipedia page has a more detailed explanation along with further examples.



Jenny Slate on Chris Evans.

Film On Monday, The Guardian's G2 published an astonishingly invasive interview with Jake Gyllenhaal in which the interviewer asked the actor about his relationship with Taylor Swift and then proceeded to essentially force an argument by persisting then wondering why the whole process went south. The interviewer clearly hoped to get a scoop and the actor didn't want to give him one, knowing that anything he said would enter the feedback loop on celebrity "news" websites.

For what it's worth, I think that in that kind of situation, if the actor wants to talk about their relationship they will, but there's no point pressing them on it, especially if they've otherwise given an indication of being a private person. Plus, frankly, it's probably none of our business. I'd rather hear an actor talk about the work and process and how they do their job, which is also in the interview to some extent but with less depth once Gyllenhaal is on the defensive.

If, however, they actually want to talk about their private life then that's fine, especially if it's as fascinating as this piece about Jenny Slate who recently got out of a relationship with Chris "Captain America" Evans. On the one hand, I'm slightly concerned about the extent to which his privacy is being broken here, the details of his life which are now in the public domain. But on the other she still clearly adores him and more importantly, there's nothing in here which contradicts his public image:
"Evans and Slate met at her chemistry read — the audition in which it’s determined whether two romantic leads play well together — and they instantly got along. “I remember him saying to me, ‘You’re going to be one of my closest friends.’ I was just like, ‘Man, I fucking hope this isn’t a lie, because I’m going to be devastated if this guy isn’t my friend.’ ” The first time they went out to dinner, as co-workers getting to know each other, she remembers insisting they split the bill over Evans’s strenuous objections. “If you take away my preferences, you take away my freedom,” she says she told him. “Then I was like, Oh, man, is this dude going to be like, ‘Ugh, this bra-burner.’ Instead, he was like, ‘Tell me more.’"
Of course, now he's probably going to be asked about the contents of this interview and so the feedback loop begins again.

Hadley Freeman on Love Actually.

Film After a slightly confused (slightly?) column about trans identity at the weekend (see this Twitter thread for key objections), Hadley Freeman's back re-iterating many of the same points from my old Love Actually post (which is here in case you haven't read it):
"My best friend and I went to see it on the day it opened, excited as babes on Christmas Day. We loved Notting Hill, and we adored Four Weddings and a Funeral, and sure, they were basically odes to the Oxbridge-educated, but they had charm and clever scripts. And those movies only had one plot line – this new one had nine! That meant it would be nine times as awesome, right? Wrong. We emerged from the cinema with faces frozen like Munch’s Scream, and silently went our separate ways. We called each other later to check in on one another, like victims of a terrible disaster."
Unlike Hadley I actually liked Love Actually at first. Saw it twice at the cinema, asked for the dvd at Christmas (etc etc) and it wasn't until I studied it for the dissertation I noticed how disdainful it is. Let's see if the Comic Relief sequel acts as a corrective.

My Favourite Film of 1907.



Film It’s 1907 and here’s singer Jean Noté performing the French national anthem with synchronous sound. The Jazz Singer’s generally thought of as being the first sound film, and although it’s true that it was the first to utilise a technique which was commercial repeatable, the director Georges Mendel achieving a similar effect over a decade earlier. One can well imagine if this was shown in cinemas, the audience taking to their feet and singing along. Just remarkable.



But this still isn't the earliest. William Dickson was experimenting with sound in the mid-late 1890s.

"one of Scotland's best-kept secrets"



Logan: 11 Revelations From Director James Mangold:
“I gave them many escape valves. We take place in 2029, and X-Men Apocalypse ends in 2024. There’s five blank years there that are wide open to seeing how things got from here to there. Or else you could do what I would advocate, which is imagine a different world and create a new movie, and you don’t need the permission of the other movies.”

What bookstore employees do behind your back:
"With noise at a premium in libraries and bookshops, much of any fun to be had there needs to be visual."

Bothy-bagging: Scotland's best-kept secrets revealed:
"Bothies - remote shelters in the wilderness where walkers can spend the night free of charge - have long been one of Scotland's best-kept secrets. A new book has revealed the location of 80 of the mountain huts. For more than 50 years the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) has maintained an eclectic network of shelters across the wilderness areas of Scotland."

Steven Moffat speaks with TV Drama about his work on the hit drama series Doctor Who and Sherlock:

"A lifelong Doctor Who fan, Steven Moffat began writing for the series when it was reintroduced in 2005 after 16 years off the air. Five years later he was elevated to head writer and executive producer of the iconic British sci-fi hit. At the same time, Moffat was working with fellow Who writer Mark Gatiss on making a contemporary drama based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s quintessentially British detective Sherlock Holmes. Over the course of just 13 episodes in four seasons, Sherlock became a worldwide viewing phenomenon and racked up a Peabody and multiple BAFTA and Emmy wins."

Phoebe Fox: 'I'm always playing bloody aristocrats!'
"In Simon Godwin’s riotous, rowdy new Twelfth Night at the National Theatre, Phoebe Fox wanted to give her Olivia a bit more to do. “There’s a whole scene in a drag club and a massive fight breaks out,” she explains cheerfully. “On the sly, I said to the guy who choreographed the fight, ‘Look, I know I’m nobility, so I wouldn’t, but do you think I could get a punch in there?’” He happily obliged. “So I walk in, deck a girl, and then start speaking. I loved that.”"

London Calling:
Zebras.



Life  Here's a cautionary tale about planning ahead and checking destination details.  Yesterday was my monthly visit to London.  The day in summary: Abbey Road (see below), 221b Baker Street, Notting Hill for Portobello Road and the book shop from the film Notting Hill, what remains of BBC Television Centre, Westfield shopping centre and Brick Lane.  Find above my evening meal, the most expensive burger they have on the menu at Ed's Easy Diner back at Euston Station.  The NUS extra alumni card allows you to get 50% off food.  I shall not be eating properly again for a week.

To Abbey Road and the chance to visit a Beatles landmark that isn't in Liverpool and experience what it must be like for tourists to take the bus out to Penny Lane and discover with some disappointment that it's just a suburban street (and that the lyrics of the song are really describing the bottom end of Church Road and the junction with Smithdown Road).  As expected Abbey Road is just a suburban street.  Nevertheless it's still exciting to see an iconic cultural landmark.  I'll get to the Tower of London eventually.

After a glance at the tube map, it seemed logical that Abbey Road, home of the zebra crossing on The Beatles album cover and the recording studio would be next to the DLR station called Abbey Road. I was even quite proud that I managed to work out a route from Euston which meant I didn't need to repeat my DLR journey from last month and mostly utilise the Northern Line instead. On the way there I began listen to album itself and was full of excitement as I skipped up the steps from the platform the station only to be confronted with this:



Stop giggling Londoners.  No actually don't.  It was my own fault.  On the upside TfL are kind enough to provide this punning sign knowing full well that there are enough stupid people in the world who (a) have looked at the actual album cover thought this suburban area would be anywhere near dockland and indeed that all of the musicians would actually travel out to the Dockland to work and so (b) made this journey.

After adding an extra hour's travel time there and back again, I did eventually make it to Abbey Road turning the corner just as the final track of the album, The End reached its conclusion a coincidence you could just plan.  This was my first listen right the way through and although it's enjoyable for the most part, it mirrors most pop records in that its obvious to see why those songs were chosen for singles.

The Studios own website have a CCTV camera set up so its possible to see yourself cross the road and so here's the back of me dodging traffic:



There's a lot of traffic dodging, a constant stream of tourists to the spot and most of them, at some point, walk into the middle of the zebra crossing to create the pose made famous in the publicity campaign for the last series of Doctor Who. After watching the mess of honking horns and near death photography for a while, a tourist couple asked me to take their photograph, which I obliged, standing in the middle of the road just long enough for them to get into the position. Then they offered to do the same:



No, I have no idea either. Or who she is. But that's rather the problem. Everyone wants to have their picture taken alone but there are too many people so you end up with shots like these.  But enjoy my normcore and scruffy hair nonetheless.

The crossing works in reverse to how its supposed to.  The traffic doesn't stop until someone is actually walking across it.  Presumably if the cards actually stopped and waited for people to cross or get their picture taken as per every other zebra crossing, they'd be there a very long time.

My Favourite Film of 1908.



Film Here’s a comment from underneath this YouTube bootleg of Segundo de Chomón’s La maison ensorcelée (potential English titles, The Witch House or The House of Ghosts or The Haunted House). Scrainbow1234 says, “4:50 inception lol” which is shorthand for noticing the similarity between the way in which the entire house shifts backwards and forwards taking the people and contents with it and the famous corridor action sequences from Inception.

Having watched the scene through a couple of times, I’m fairly sure they were shot in a similar way, the entire set on a “gimbal” with people on either side shifting back and forth causing the floor to up tip backwards and forwards. But I’m still not quite certain. There’s something about the way the bed moves and the actors which means that I’d also theorise that it’s the camera which is moving and the bed is being shifted back and forth by wire or the acrobatic talents of the people. Or both.

But I like not knowing. It makes the scene much more compelling. As discussed a couple of weeks ago, digital verisimilitude has led some films and filmmakers to become far less compelling that they might have been or once were. We assume everything is digital so we’re less wowed by the ingenuity of film makers despite the fact that often just as much ingenuity is required in order to create the rendering and textures.

That’s certainly impacted on my enjoyment of horror films. More often than not, I find myself unfrightened for much of the time because I know full well that the monster or action on screen has been designed and created, I’m unable to embrace my suspension of disbelief. Jump cuts are idiotic. Sometimes I’m even annoyed when the horror intrudes when I’m enjoying the company of the characters or the setting so much. It Follows. The Conjuring. The Visit.

Only now and then is there a film which creeps me out precisely because I can’t account for what I’m seeing. The artifice is still there and probably intellectually I know that it’s all fake, all of it, but there are incidents which don’t seem to fit, weren’t anticipated and my brain does what it should do and freaks out. The emergence of the antagonist in Sinister, the middle section of Silent House, The Awakening, Unfriended, As Above So Below. The VVitch

La maison ensorcelée isn’t scary at all, but despite its often humorous intent it is creepy because of the element of surprise, the unexpected and the sense of it being an artefact of an earlier era. Director Jennifer Kent thought as much too and included a section of this silent in The Babadook, another film which did manage to scare me because of its weirdness. If only more filmmakers realised that it’s never about the CGI monster. It’s about us.

"a forum for anonymous rage"



Mary Adams and other BBC female pioneers who inspired my love for Natural History:
"If you ask someone to describe what a wildlife filmmaker looks like, I suspect they’d paint a portrait of a man with a beard and a big camera wearing camouflage gear. But I’m a wildlife filmmaker - I’m a petite, 38-year old woman, and there are plenty of others like me."

Death threats and angry chefs – when restaurant reviews go wrong:
"Eating nice food for a living sounds great, but there are downsides: from being unmasked to finding out, after you’ve published a glowing review, that there were rodents in the kitchen. The UK’s top critics spill the beans."

Thor: Ragnarok actress Tessa Thompson talks redefining Valkyrie:
"EW talked to Thompson about reimagining the role, training like Linda Hamilton, and finding the right sized cape."

'Buffy' at 20: Joss Whedon Talks TV Today, Reboot Fatigue and the Trouble With Binging:
"The internet often appears to exist for just two purposes. It provides a forum for anonymous rage and, maybe less frequently, it can be communal spot by the pop culture fireplace — where people can warm their hands at the embers of nostalgia. On Friday, it will probably bend toward the latter."

Art of the Title: My So-Called Life (1994)
"Go now, go."

"a cheerleader going into an alley"



Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 20: the thrilling, brilliant birth of TV as art:
"Twenty years on, the brilliance of Joss Whedon’s funny, tragic seven-season synthesis of most film and TV genres, literary conceits and pop cultural tropes remains undimmed."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a feminist parable for everyone – including me:
"Anthony Stewart Head: Twenty years after we started, I see that our series gave flesh (and horns) to the demons we all face in life: teenage Buffy’s storylines transcended age or gender."

And here are some archive links from this blog. This blog is old. The first three were written after transmission.

Season Five Review:
"The actual teaser was an actualization of the idea which Creator Joss Wheadon has sited as his reason for creating the film and show – a cheerleader going into an alley and able to surprise her attacker with her funny and martial arts. As the scene played out it was clear that the world was on her shoulders."

Season Six Review:
"The seasonal structure of the series is actually fairly brave. A main arc based about a 'big bad' which runs through all twenty-two episodes, weaving its way through the stand alone episodes. It's a middle ground between the Classic Star Trek model in which the reset switch in the characters is effectively pressed at the end of each episode no matter how life changing the moment and The X-Files in which a conspiracy story carried on interminably for nine series and still wasn't resolved. It gives the seasons a form very similar to film, albeit over a much more extended period. By having a massive foe it also offers a good shorthand of good guy / bad guy for casual viewers."

Season Seven Review:
"Then the season plot kicked in and things began to go all floopy, the balance thrown asunder. Xander started making big speeches. Willow began to worry about her witchcraft and the burden of responsibility again weighed heavy on Buffy's shoulders. The obsession with Spike showed itself again, the premise of the show being stretched again as the VAMPIRE who had KILLED PEOPLE was kept alive because he was a main character who was popular. The fact that all the fun had left him seasons ago when he was neuter didn't matter. I'm not anti-Spike. He's a great character. I'm just anti-whattheydidtohim."

rewatching all of the television series on which Joss Whedon has had overall creative control
"My expected appreciation curve for Buffy: The Vampire Slayer was that after a barnstorming first three seasons, the show would become a rather patchier affair in which individual piece of classic television usually written and directed by Whedon himself (Hush, The Body, Once More With Feeling) provided a scaffold for less compelling overall story arcs and baddies, with the Nerd Trio in Season Six, and Season Six actually the nadir."

Mystery Music March in April: Once More With Feeling – The Cast of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer:
"I just love Once More With Feeling. Fans of musical theatre probably look down their nose at it and can see the broad shoulders of the giants it’s balancing on but the only musical I can sing along to from top to bottom and which (and I do think this is important) has an emotional content I can relate to. The problem I often have with musicals is that no matter how good the book, or how much empathy can be generated through the touching emotional break, the songs themselves are meaningless outside of their context."

"inspiring women"



F-rated: IMDb introduces classification system to highlight work by women:
"Rating awarded to Frozen, American Honey and others, as database adopts system to raise profile of movies written by, directed by and starring women."

Ten Modern Women who helped to change the world:
"On International Women’s Day a new book, Modern Women: 52 Pioneers casts a light on inspiring women who have helped change the world for the better. BIDISHA picks out her personal top ten and talks to the author about the challenges women still face."

Lisa Scott-Lee interview: “We said — it’s twenty years of Steps, what can we do to make it special?”
"Are you hoping for B-List at Capital?"

The 1947 Fuel Crisis and the BBC:
"It now seems like an incredible tale from the dim and distant past, but because of a national fuel shortage during the harsh winter of early 1947, the BBC Television Service and the Third Programme, precursor to Radio 3, closed down for several weeks to conserve electricity."

And then the Strangest Thing Happened: What is Adam Curtis doing?
"WHEN ADAM CURTIS’S NEW DOCUMENTARY HyperNormalisation premiered on the BBC’s online iPlayer service last fall, the journalist Chris Applegate compiled an Adam Curtis Bingo card that circulated widely on Twitter and Facebook."

When is Logan set?

Film Just returned from seeing Logan. I don't quite have a coherent opinion about it yet, although my suspicion is less impressed than some, but it'll be interesting to know how that changes after a second viewing when I'm more prepared for the tone and the surprises are anything but.

With everything which happens, it's probably worth returning to the X-Men chronology questions which this blog has been wrestling with in recent years and exactly which order in which the Fox MARVEL films are supposed to be viewed.

As such this will necessitate spoilers, so here's the Deadpool mini-feature, which oddly enough didn't appear in front of the screening I attended. Perhaps it was just a US thing. Anyway ... enjoy this gap for glancing away ...



Brutal. Not as brutal as Logan though.

Anyway, previously we discussed although it seems like the best way to watch the films is by following Logan's consciousness as it bounces around time:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men
X-Men 2
X-Men 3 (or whatever it's called in your end of the world)
The Wolverine
First Class
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Apocalypse
Fan4stic
Deadpool

Although as I later discovered after actually watching the films in this order parts of the rebooted films negate Origins even though it's set before them.  Shrug.

Incidentally, this guy at Cinefix pretty much follows this template then makes the mistake of assuming the Logan who turns up at the end of DoFP has lived through all the years again, when in fact its some other version of him, the one who's a berserker in Apocalypse, who then has his brain wiped over by the original Logan when his consciousness returns from the past into the altered future.

So where does this leave the film Logan?

[Brief sidebar.  In the original timeline, Logan was perfectly healthy right into the future whereas here he's noticeably older and dying of adamantium poisoning.  Is it possible that because he was freed in Apocalypse in a different way and possibly earlier to that established in the other films it was before the end of his treatment and not given the necessary ability to counteract the cumulative effects of having the metal in his body?]

As the Cinefix guy notices if the end of DoFP is set in 2023 and Logan is set in 2029, that means that within six years everything goes to shit for the mutants, Richard E Grant's doctor has done for them through the food supply in a way which the sentinels didn't quite manage in the original.  Plus there's a suspicion that Xavier's accidentally destroyed the school and killed the X-Men through his mental earthquake shock thingy.

Oh fuck is this a depressing film.

But there's nothing in here to say that any rewatch of the series shouldn't end on Logan.  Various bits of film mythology are mentioned but interestingly everything is suggested.  Nothing is specific.  None of the other X-Men are named.  Not even Jean.  Or the events which led this Logan to being in this body with Xavier aware of the change.

Oh fuck this is a depressing film.

Because that means that whatever happens in the next X-film and anything else in this 'verse, we know that none of it matters.  However much Brian Singer or whoever wants to guide the story towards the epilogue of DoFP, six years after that Xavier's going to be murdered by X-24 and Logan will die defending his daughter.  I did warn you.

Some have suggested that it's set in the original timeline which doesn't make much sense given that everyone was going to die anyway until Wolverine succeeded.  Plus the information in here doesn't tally with what's in there.

The other possibility is that it's a What If? type story or that its set in a kind of "real" timeline in which the other films have the same veracity as the comic books which are mentioned.  But that's not really satisfactory either.

Fox has effectively murdered one of its major franchises just as it was getting going again.

Which isn't to say I wouldn't be interested in seeing another film set afterwards with all of these genetically engineered mutants on the run in Canada.

My Favourite Film of 1909.



Film There’s a spectacular moment during Charles Kent’s eight minute version of A Midsummer Night Dream which I’m still yet unable to explain. When Oberon tasks Puck to seek the flower which will the source of the night’s romantic farce and his servant says he’ll “I'll put a girdle round about the earth, In forty minutes” (not that the intertitle says this), the nymph is shown floating quickly into the sky then briefly speeding across the spinning earth before landing where the plant must be. Then the action is repeated as Puck makes the return journey.

The incident takes seconds, but even watching the shoddy capture of the film from the Wikipedia page, I’m enchanted. Perhaps the child is being whisked upwards on a wire. Perhaps we’re seeing a double or triple exposure when they’re circumnavigating the globe. But even now, I want to believe. With the rest of the film looking like it could have been filmed in some ancient time, I want to believe that what I’m watching is documentary evidence of fairies even if the effect is about as convincing as the papercuts of fairies at the bottom of a garden.

Special effects are rarely this awe inspiring of late. Watching the average film, even outside the sci-fi genre is to see a screen filled with computer graphics utilised to create the most mundane objects and vehicles. That has the effect of making the viewer assume that everything they’re seeing outside of the actors had their origin inside a computer which means that quite often the film makers then have to release set footage to show that actually a large proportion of what we’re seeing was created practically.

There’s not much which can be done about this now. When the remake/prequel to The Thing is shot with some perfectly reasonable and often brilliant practical effects but the studio orders they replaced with inferior digital effects because it’s what the audience expects (leading to the film being thoroughly trashed precisely because of how awful those intruder effects look) there’s no real chance of going back. I actually quite liked that film by the way and would be eager to see the version which hasn’t been visually bowdlerised.

There are exceptions both CGI and practical. Ant Man’s decent into the micro-verse. The corridors of Inception’s dream sequences. Every part of Gravity. But so inured are we wanting to see something extra special that when Doctor Strange didn’t quite deliver on showing us something we hadn’t seen before or rather that wasn’t simply another painted landscape we were disappointed especially given the hype about the visual leap of what we were about to see. When we see Rogue One, we’re somewhat impressed but quick to say, it’s fine but it’s not quite right. Not yet.

None of which is meant to denigrate the artists who work on something like Gods of Egypt; they’re creating the best work they can within the time and budget, directorial expectations and technological limitations. But I do miss the time when you’d see something happen in a film and be not quite sure how it was achieved, that there wasn’t a catch-all explanation however accurate that was. Say what you like about the remake of Point Break, but did you know that most of those stunts were filmed in actuality? Remarkable.

"the brink of de-extinction"



The unexpected emotions of a second pregnancy:
"My husband and I are sitting side-by-side on the sofa, silently staring at the wall. A few minutes ago, I waved a positive pregnancy test at him. He said “Well, then”, I said “yep,” and that’s about when the wordless wall appreciation began."

Sheryl Crow Talks Return to Nineties Roots on Upcoming LP:
"A little over three years ago, Sheryl Crow took her career in a radically different direction with the release of her debut country LP, Feels Like Home. Despite a relentless touring schedule and promotional campaign, the album didn't make much of an impression with country fans and no single placed higher than Number 72 on the Hot 100. "It was still a great experience and I learned a lot," says Crow. "But I gotta say that the country market is commerce at its most fully realized. Right now, I want to have an experience that feels detached from anything in commerce."

Nice try, Virgin Press Office, but…
"The thing about the Press Offices of TV companies is that they want you to write nice things about their programmes. To do that, they give you nice things, hoping to persuade you."

Billion-Dollar Baby: Resurrecting the Mammoth:
"The woolly mammoth is on the brink of de-extinction, but is it worth the cost to bring it back?"

Chinese studios to take on Kurosawa script:

"Chinese studios announced on Wednesday in Beijing that they are going to make a film out of a script by late Japanese film master Akira Kurosawa. Huayi Brothers Media and CKF Pictures will collaborate on "The Mask of the Black Death," a posthumous script by Akira Kurosawa, who died in 1998 and made many influential film classics such as "Seven Samurai" (1954) and "Ran" (1985)."

"the turn of this decade"



Lost and Found: My 1994 Story:
"The first months of 1994 found me slogging through East Village snow drifts in New York City. I was living in a friend of a friend's sublet in Alphabet City, which was just then finding its tentative way from smackhead rookery to bourgie boutiqueland. Those cold, chaotic streets mirrored my internal landscape: the demise of a long love affair had left me enervated and unmoored. I was also jobless, with my first big TV presenting job on Channel 4's pop culture car crash The Word now in my rear view mirror."

The Voyager Golden Record Experience:
"We at Damn Interesting have put together an online simulation of what an alien civilization might see and hear upon decoding one of the records, assuming that their seeing and hearing abilities are similar to our own. For the best experience, a laptop or desktop screen size is recommended. We share these sounds and images under the “fair use” exception to copyright law due to the historical significance of the media. You can launch the interactive now, or read on for more background and technical detail."

‘Sense8’: Netflix Reassembling Cast After Options Had Expired, Raising Prospects For Season 3:
"Season 2 of Netflix’s sci-fi drama series Sense8, from Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, is set to debut May 5. It comes almost two years after the first season premiered on June 5, 2015, a year and nine months after the series was renewed for a second season, and eight months after the second season wrapped its marathon filming in more than a dozen locations across four continents."

The History of the Comic That Inspired Logan and Revolutionized the Marvel Brand:
"It’s hard to pick which scene in “Old Man Logan” is the wildest. The epic tale was first published by Marvel Comics in the pages of X-Men spinoff series Wolverine at the turn of this decade and is a huge influence on this weekend’s superhero tentpole picture Logan. It remains as shocking today as it was when it came out, a decade ago."

The New 'DuckTales' Cartoon Starring David Tennant Looks Pretty Dang Fun:
"Now that we can see a little of what Tennant, Bobby Moynihan, Danny Pudi, and Ben Schwartz have in store for us we're feeling ready for this duck-blur of a nostalgia trip."

"The world was a bit simpler when I was a kid."



British Sell-A-Con:
"The world was a bit simpler when I was a kid. I was brought up in Stafford, which is in the West Midlands. Which meant that the Midlands Electricity Board provided our electricity. and Stafford is in England which is a part of Britain and so, naturally, British Gas provided our gas. And British Telecom provided our telephone line. Simple."

What’s in Subway’s chicken? Hint: Maybe only 50% chicken:
"Subway says its chicken should be 99% chicken and is looking into it."

My Black Is Not Your Black, And That’s Okay:
"As a 30-something year old black woman, I pride myself on having embraced my differences. This was not so much the case back in my mid-20s when I was struggling with my so-called “otherness” during a time when most people were trying to figure out who they are. I don’t eat fried chicken (anymore, at least). I do yoga. I obsess over Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I can express at length the differences between Aerosmith and Guns ‘N Roses. Kayaking and wine tasting are two of my favorite things to do. I have never once used the words “cray” or “twerk” in conversation. In fact, I’m still a bit foggy on what those words are even supposed to mean."

A Victorian Era Criminal Leads Police On A High Speed Bicycle Chase:
"In September of 1896, British newspapers reported the remarkable use of a bicycle in a New Jersey murder case. The case involved two men who had both emigrated to America from London in the early 1890s. One of these men was a farmer named Mr. Haggett who settled down with his family on a farm near Somerville. The other man was a fellow named Mr. Clossen who Haggett employed as a farm laborer. Sometime in 1896, Haggett caught Clossen stealing. In consequence, he not only fired him from his job, but also refused to pay him the thirty dollars in wages that Clossen believed he was owed."

A Hello Kitty Plane Exists And It's Adorable:
"Book your tickets! There’s a Hello Kitty jet and it’s beyond cute. Taiwanese airline company EVA Air teamed up with toy manufacturer Sanrio to design a "magic jet," totally decked out in our favorite cartoon kitty. Not only are the exterior of the jets themselves decorated with cute Hello Kitty images, absolutely everything on board, from tickets to toilet paper, are Hello Kitty-themed."

"ride-hailing platforms"



Anybody but Griffith:
"How did the norms of storytelling technique develop between 1908 and 1920? More specifically, I hoped to trace out an array of stylistic options emerging for the feature film. What range of choice governed staging, framing, editing, and kindred film techniques?"

Wrongbestfilmgate was a moment of pure chaos – my night of shocks at the Oscars:
"The Guardian film critic’s first Academy Awards ceremony delivered selfies, supercharged excitement and an upset that left everyone dazed."

Challenging sexist jokes can be difficult - but this is why we must speak up:
"Last week, I found myself battling a sexist joke for the first time in my adult life. Yes, battling! The joke wasn’t made towards me, per se, but was actually made in the body of an article written by a male writer…which somehow felt worse. I won’t get into details here, but I’ll just say that this joke was about sexually harassing women in the workplace. More specifically, that we would enjoy being harassed — if our male coworkers could simply muster the guts to do so."

Cosmic blast from the past:
"Three decades ago, a massive stellar explosion sent shockwaves not only through space but also through the astronomical community. SN 1987A was the closest observed supernova to Earth since the invention of the telescope and has become by far the best studied of all time, revolutionising our understanding of the explosive death of massive stars."

A Better Way to Fight Discrimination in the Sharing Economy:
"The sharing economy has a discrimination problem. Studies have shown that the sharing economy isn’t as open as we think: People of color are discriminated against on platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft. A study of ride-hailing platforms found that black passengers were subjected to longer wait times and higher cancelation rates than white passengers. A study of Airbnb found that guests with African-American-sounding names were 16% less likely to be accepted by hosts than guests with white-sounding names."

Meet TV's First Non-Binary-Gender Character: Asia Kate Dillon of Showtime's 'Billions':

"Asia Kate Dillon uses the pronouns "they, their and them." Because, like their onscreen character Taylor Mason on Showtime’s Billions, Dillon self-identifies as nonbinary. And thanks to this groundbreaking role, these are pronouns that more people will hopefully feel more comfortable using in the very near future."

"a stalwart in genre projects"



Julie Benz on her numerous TV deaths, from Dexter to Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Angel:
"Julie Benz got her start as an actress when she was still in her teens, shifting back and forth between movies and TV and racking up a wide variety of credits in a relatively short amount of time. But it was her work with Joss Whedon—first on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, then on Angel—that put her on the map. Since then, Benz has remained a stalwart in genre projects, appearing in sci-fi series (Defiance) and superhero shows (No Ordinary Family). She’s also earned considerable acclaim for her stint on Dexter and has also turned up in more than a few horror films, the most recent of which, Havenhurst, is out now."

Social Media Are Driving Americans Insane:
"If you pull out your phone to check Twitter while waiting for the light to change, or read e-mails while brushing your teeth, you might be what the American Psychological Association calls a “constant checker.” And chances are, it’s hurting your mental health."

Emma Thompson: 'Too soon' to do Love Actually sequel after Alan Rickman's death:
"Emma Thompson has spoken for the first time about why she isn't taking part in the upcoming Love Actually sequel."

The Worst Mission Statement Of All Time:
"It might not mean that much to you, but 55 Regent Street is one of London’s most iconic retail addresses. It’s the building facing Piccadilly Circus, formed of a wedge between Regent Street and Piccadilly. [...] It was the department store Swan & Edgar until 1982. Later it was Tower Records, then the Virgin Megastore, until that become Zavvi. Now, it’s a clothes shop called The Sting. And in the window of The Sting, on the Piccadilly side, is displayed the worst mission statement of all time." [via]


Bar's ban on men chatting up women: is it feminism gone too far, or Don Draper redux?

"A bar in Australia’s capital city Canberra has banned men from approaching women."