Filming the unfilmable?
"George Roy Hill's marvellous adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, which switches back and forth from the bombing of Dresden, a German POW camp, post-war America and the fictional planet of Tralfamadore, where the hero Billy Pilgrim is taken by aliens and forced to mate in a glass dome with film star Montana Wildhack (the impossibly pneumatic Valerie Perrine). As adaptations of strange and "unfilmable" novels go, this is one of the finest. And, incidentally, as alien-abduction experiences go, Pilgrim's is many notches above the usual rectal-probing favoured by our intergalactic cousins."It's all a matter of approach.
Life On my way home tonight I saw a girl who was the spitting image of Julie Delpy. What I should have done is tried to talk her into walking around Sefton Park with me for a few hours when we could have talked about politics, religion and our history. Well I might have done if I hadn't noticed her as I was getting off the bus. Some things are (not) meant to be.
Film Movie Pooper gives away the end of films. Even those which don't actually feature a twist. [via]
Space Was the Space Shuttle programme a hopeless case? Maciej Ceglowski argues that it's a directionless endeavour which lacks that important exploratory factor. Which would make it worthwhile.
"This brings up a delicate point about justifying manned missions with science. In order to make any straight-faced claims about being cost effective, you have to cart an awful lot of science with you into orbit, which in turns means you need to make the experiments as easy to operate as possible. But if the experiments are all automated, you remove the rationale for sending a manned mission in the first place. Apart from question-begging experiments on the physiology of space flight, there is little you can do to resolve this dilemma. In essence, each 'pure science' Shuttle science mission consists of several dozen automated experiments alongside an enormous, irrelevant, repeated experiment in keeping a group of primates alive and healthy outside the atmosphere."I absolutely see his point. What we're talking about is NASA's continuining mission to prove that man can exist in space. We've done that. But what's next? But something I've learnt myself these past few months is patience -- there's no point trying to jump into things unless you're ready. We just aren't ready yet. Isn't the human race boring?
Who I've been keeping my timelord writing elsewhere lately but I wanted to just let those with a passing interest in on something. BBC7, which is the digital talk station will be running the award winning series of Doctor Who audio dramas starting Saturday at 6:30pm and 12:30am. This time it's the Paul McGann model and they're totally recommendable -- I've waxed lyrical before, but much of this stuff is better than the old television series ever was and in many cases just as good as the new tv series. The official BBC site has an excellent preview and trailer page which includes a specially recorded and funny scene setter from McGann. The BBC7 website is going to be having episodes on listen again for the week afterwards as part of their listen again. I believe readers abroad can also have access that way.
TV The official BBC site as had a makeover to promote the Eighth Doctor's adventures on BBC7. I'm excited again, and I've got the uncut cd of the first story 'Storm Warning' sitting on my bookshelf. There's an excellent trailer especially recorded with Paul McGann ('I don't sound northern enough?') and a mini-history lesson which fills in all the back story which the new series ran away from. Anyone think it might be popular enough to be promoted to one of the main channels in the near future?
Blogs My Dad's just shouted in from the other room: "I was listening to Radio 2 earlier and there was this person they have in every week to talk about the internet and he says that a new blog is created every 10 seconds and there is a website which tracks them." There's a new kind of world that's taking over ...
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005
The main problem is the story. The Zygons turn up in Victorian London and by pretending to be a group of humans and breeding a group of cyborg dinosaurs they're hoping to clear the planet and start their species anew after the destruction of their own homeworld. It really isn't that gripping is it? So the writer, Mark Morris, develops a certain amount of atmosphere, but it's largely trading on the reader's memory of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and The Talons of Weng Chiang. Certain moments from that story are replayed; The Doctor's run in with the police; all of the messing about in the sewers; giant dopey animals. The first few hundred pages work very hard to set up the mystery, because the aliens actually printed on the cover we're hardly surprised when they turn up. It's the visual equivalent of calling your story Dalek and having the The Doctor make the shocking discovery that a Dalek is involved. Ironically, he doesn't seem all that surprised here when he sees the Zygons - perhaps he's seen the cover as well.
Particularly unforgivably we don't care too much for many of the characters. I did sympathise with Tom, the destitute man who turned up in the opening few pages dragging his injured self to the factory he'd been let go from hoping his boss, Mr Seers, would have a change of heart was pretty gut wrenching. But he was dispatched by a monster fairly early on. After that, from Emmeline the daughter of Seers through to some grave robbers, we simply don't see them as anything more than plot devices or an extra pair of hands when a plan is being carried out by The Doctor. Even dear Lightfoot is a shadow, a series of responses. He's like a quasi-Brigadeer but with more old fashioned skepticism. Only in the epilogue, as we hear about the aftermath of the invasion and his resegnation of the death toll do we get a sense of the man.
I could describe Sam in a similar way, but I think it's more of a fundamental problem with the character. What the new series discovered with Rose, is that if she's going to be at The Doctor's side, she's going to have her own ideas on what's happen, her own approach to the situation, rightly or wrongly. She has to have her own story each time. Perhaps I'm spoilt, but Sam fits into the traditional companion role far too well, to the point that she's blanded out. Here, much is done language wise to try and mask the fact that she's spending most of the adventure asking The Doctor about what's happening, what he's doing and why he's doing it. At one point he says "I know you want to help, Sam, but I honestly don't have the time to explain everything. Just this once I'm afraid you're going to have to leave it up to me." It takes him until page 222. I would have said it much more quickly. It's almost as though the author is justifying the fact that she superfluous to the story and basically an irritant.
Luckily, The Doctor is about the only reason to continue reading. There is something about him which makes him writer proof. There is some great business in the factory when he's trying to get to see the Zygon clone of Mr Seers and I loved the bit at the end when he decided that the best way to save London from the cyborg dinosaurs was to attract them back to the TARDIS and fill the place up with them. In this book he's an amalgam, trading on his previous incarnations - a bit of the Venusian Lullaby here, a jelly baby there. It's true to the TV movie I suppose. But all too often he drops a continuity reference and the reader is pulled out of the action.
The book's one great moment is when The Doctor decides to poison the Zygon's nutriant supply with a sleeping agent which turns out to be pure poison. I can entirely imagine the moment when he stands amongst their corpses on the ship realizing what he's done, a champion of life bringing inadvertent death to his foes, his peaceful solution gone sour. The aftermath in which the one surviving Zygon, Tuval comes to terms with what has happened and continues to work with The Doctor because he knows the whole situation is wrong.
Paul Leonard's Genocide is next with the return of Jo Grant which should be good. Certainly it can't be any worse than this. Oh well.
Life I'm in a wierd sort of limbo, waiting for the end of work. Whenever anyone asks why I'm leaving work I've found myself saying 'I have other things I want to do.' Someone replied today: 'Well you're still young.' Well I'm thirty. But I thought for a minute and actually I am still young. I think of all the different things I managed to fit into my twenties and it's entirely possible that I'll end up doing just as many things in this new personal decade. Thirty-one in three months though, so I'd best get started.
Plug! Last night one time interviewee on this very site, Danny Wallace, sent me (and I suspect a bunch of people) the following email reminder for his new adventure:
"My dear friends,There was also a flyer:
It is I, Danny Wallace, your pal.
Just thought I'd let you know about something you may or may not be interested in.
My first (and perhaps only) BBC series has its first outing on Wednesday night. It's at 10pm, on BBC2. Afterwards, the more bored and lonely of you may be delighted to hear that you can press the red
button and I'll be mucking about, live, inside your telly. I will steal all your buttons and make a nasty smear on the inside of your screen.
Anyway. See what you think. I'm starting my own country. I'm now a King.
PS. Here's a link to a show teaser, which includes my awe-inspiring
TV All of the spoilery photos have been turning up at Outpost Gallifrey, but now BBC News are reporting that filming has started on the new series. Not something they tend to do for things like 'Silent Witness' really. Hopefully they'll leave let the crew get on with their work. That page also includes a link to a video interview with Mr Tennant, although much of anything he has to say is in the text. Don't look if you're really, really scared of spoilers like the names of alien races you've never heardof before...
That Day In all that happened on Friday I missed the wierd coincidence that I handed my notice on this weblog's fourth birthday. Looking at those first few days, it's not surprising how little has changed blogwise, I'm still linking to much the same sources and talking about the same subjects. Although with less exclaimation marks. I don't know if my readership has increased all that much, but I'm certainly hearing from people more. Days I remember all my life ...
TV Excellent huge interview with Joss Whedon which concentrates on his film work, particular script doctoring. Lot's of new information. I mean the man once pitched for Batman ...
" It was right when they first starting talking about making another 'Batman' movie, and there was no director attached. And I can tell you exactly when I pitched it because - funny little story - my agent said, 'You know, I wouldn?t call you. I know you don?t want to do other people?s stuff, but it?s Batman, and I figured I?d mention it. They want to do something.' I?m like, 'Well, I guess you?d have to ?Year-One? it because, I mean, you can?t go any further in the direction they?ve gone.' He?s like, 'Well, y?know, whatever.' I?m like, 'Y?know, I?m not going to think about it.' And then I talked to my wife, and she?s like, 'Dude.' And she doesn?t even like comic books. She was like, 'No. Are you kidding? It?s Batman!'"Careful with the bit about 'Serenity' though. Very spoilery. [via]
The Road To Beijing Michelle Dillon came seventh in the Salford Triathlon. [about]
Business I've spotted an error I daren't edit in this list of fictional companies at the Wikipedia. 'Cyberdyne Systems' was a computer games company in the Eighties which produced the superlative C64 game Creatures. That said I think they got their name from the movies so -- well -- I don't know. [via]
Film There is a horrifying paragraph in this Wired article about the switch from celluloid to digital projection in North America:
"Advocates of the shift to digital exhibition say theater owners also would benefit from new flexibility: If a movie sells out in one theater, an owner can quickly switch other screens to that feature to accommodate the unexpected demand. And if a supposed blockbuster turns out to be a bomb, it can be yanked from screens just as instantly -- no new prints from the studio, no reel swaps."Anyone care to list the film makers who would never have had a career if this had been in effect years ago?
News In the middle of everything, I forgot about Friday lunch time. Still getting over a busy morning I was passing through Clayton Square in Liverpool which was filled with people standing around looking at the Big Screen. I looked up too and saw the giant red banner: "London Bombs" with a ticker reading "Police operation beginning." As usual though, the sound is turned almost completely off and it's clear that people are thinking that London is being attacked again. There are shots of the authorities in protective gear outside houses. But slowly, on mass, the crowd gets out their mobile phones and ring someone near a television. As they discover that it's about arresting the suspects the crowd disperses. The police are getting on with their work and so are we.
TV Or not. This week I didn't watch any television live other than some news here and there. Oh hold on, I did see some show on Friday night in which Nick Knowles threw luggage around on a bungie rope to see how durable it was (not very but excellent fun). I saw a recording of Extras (very good) and worked my way through six hours of a documentary about Broadway musicals I recorded on BBC Four a few months ago (why do Americans feel the need to make sure that every point is made five or six times lest we lose the thread?). Odd.