"And who is the real Megan Fox? She is very different than the academy nominee and winning actors we’ve all worked around. She’s as about ungracious a person as you can ever fathom. She shows little interest in the crew members around her. We work to make her look good in every way, but she's absolutely never appreciative of anyone’s hard work. Never a thank you. All the crewmembers have stopped saying hi to Ms. Princess because she never says hello back. It gets tiring. Many think she just really hates the process of being an actress."That was originally posted at Bay's own website but has since been removed. Someone in the comments at the link says that they're one of the crew members and based on a thorough textual analysis (!) that the director must have written it himself. I think it's done with a certain level of irony and probably should be read in this voice. Actors and directors can be such cards. Ahaaha.
"Being a theatre critic and not a music critic, you must have strayed into the Gaiety by mistake last Monday night, possibly looking for the rear entrance to Neary’s pub, but you certainly arrived with the word “prejudice” burned into your furrowed brow. How it must have galled you to hear the rapturous welcome I received at the start of the show; how you must have writhed at every standing ovation; how you must have cringed at every call of “Chris, we love you”The paper is already calling it Chrisgate and in this blog entry suggest musician and critic may meet. Someone should record that meeting, the wearing handshake, the forced politeness, oh yes, that will be something to see.
"Symptoms of reader's block include half-heartedly picking up books, skimming the blurb and listlessly replacing them without even opening the covers; wandering into Waterstone's and running a wan hand over the piles of 3 for 2s on the first table and wandering out again; and hours spent gazing with mounting consternation round plentifully stocked bookcases, whose numerous volumes customarily whisper coquettishly to you of their charms, metaphorically sashaying their hips and beckoning you towards their hidden treasures within, but whose voices are now unaccountably silent."I can sympathise, but I'm often afflicted by a related malady, viewers block, or a disaffection from watching films. Impossible you may think, but like Lucy (and Neil Gaiman's) extensive library of books, I have thousands of movies, but when I have a spare couple of hours it's sometimes near impossible to choose something.
I'll stand dumbstruck at the boxes unable to decide. Big Night or The Fountain? In The Line of Fire or The Sun? Something challenging or ... not. That's why I like Lovefilm and boxsets and watching a director's life in films, because there is only one thing I can watch next, the element of choice and uncertainty is removed.
Danny Morris, formerly of Eton Road at Liverpool Twestival, originally uploaded by feelinglistless.
Liverpool Life Some of you pop culture archivists may be interested to see that the entertainment at Thursday night's Liverpool Twestival was -- well you can see from the title of the post. During the height of Eton Road's mania I passed through Lime Street and saw dozens of their female supporters wearing t-shirts seeing them onto a Virgin train bound for London and the following day's X-Factor.
It was a very good night, if slightly less manic than the first. It's far easier when you recognise faces, when you have the space between meetings to talk about, something in common, though I did find myself bashing a couple of people's ears off about Dollhouse and how I thought Derren Brown predicted the lottery numbers. Neverless I felt more relax and more confident, which is a very good thing.
The event raised £622.10 for Clatterbridge Hospital, which is a good thing too.
I produced a quiz for the night, but I think it might have been a bit too cryptic. The clue was mostly supposed to be in the question, but I suspect that you would also have needed to know what the inside of my brain looked like, which is something few people should dare to contemplate, especially me.
Just for fun, here are those questions. No googling! I'll post the answers tomorrow:
1. Whose poem adorns the fountain in Williamson Square?
2. In which century was Liverpool founded?
3. What was The Beatles’ first single?
4. What was ironic about the choice of Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral?
5. How did Norway feed Liverpool?
6. Who lived at 59 Rodney Street?
7. Who were W. E. Barclay and John McKenna?
8. What was the mascot of the International Garden Festival in 1984?
9. Who directed the film “Of Time and the City”, about his childhood living in Liverpool?
10. Where at this moment in Liverpool city centre will you find Major-General William Earle?
Arguably the best of the films is this sci-fi offering from Michael Radford. It's too short for me to spoil by offering a plot synopsis, but it is well worth ten minutes of your life, even if only to see Roland Gift from The Fine Young Cannibals and Daniel Craig playing astronauts:
Sometimes the most epic of dramas can fit snuggly into ten minutes.
Liverpool Life Stricken by one of the hottest days in Liverpool this year, the Smirnoff Ice Sculpture had already half melted by the time I got there, though the result is still quite pretty in its own way especially in the dusk light. It looks a bit like Liverpool Cathedral with a square base. Luckily, photos were taken earlier in the day. More of my photos here.
"The concept will be piloted at the HMV store in Wimbledon, London, and is expected to open in Autumn 2009. The hmvcurzon will potentially operate up to three screens across a combined total of more than 200 seats, and will mainly utilise the non-trading space on the store’s second floor. The cinema will be accessible via the HMV store during the day, but will have its own dedicated entrance outside of normal trading hours."New cinema for Bold Street or Liverpool One? Oh.
Film Having watched Hitchcock’s career, it’s quite easy to see what Alfred Hitchcock was trying to do with The Wrong Man. Just as Saboteur was a summation of his British talkies, The Wrong Man seems like a late reconfiguration of three of his earliest films: The Lodger, Blackmail and Murder! In challenging himself by selecting an outrageous true story, Hitch wanted to make the film look at realistic as possible and to achieve this, either consciously or not, he recalls the framing, shading and directorial flourishes of those previous classics, especially Blackmail as he often simply rests the camera on, in this case, the titular shadow chaser Henry Fonda, whose sullen face constantly reminds up of the unfolding injustice. No wonder the director himself turns up in the opening moments to explain what he was trying to achieve (his most obvious cameo!) and why the film did particularly well in Europe (Jean-Luc Godard wrote volumes of criticism about it). It’s particularly noteworthy that Hitch tells the whole film from Fonda’s point of view, even in the courtroom scenes were the proceedings continue about him in the middle distance, the legalise deliberately heightened so as to become the foreign language it must seem to him.
The psychological games continue in Vertigo, a film I didn’t really understand until university where I had to study it in conjunction with the modern French work Place Vendôme (by Nicole Garcia) which was visually heavily influenced by Hitchcock’s film, with Catherine Deneuve’s character in particular sporting Kim Novak’s hairstyle and fashions. In her seminal essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", feminist theorist Laura Mulvey talks about ‘the gaze’. Put simply, that’s the moment in a film when a nice lady appears and the director cuts to a bloke whose very impressed with what he’s seeing and it’s through him that our appreciation of the woman is defined. In Vertigo, we’re offered a window into Jimmy Stewart’s mental state by the look he gives Novak at various points in the story – from chaste attraction to dangerous obsession making Vertigo Hitchcock’s most complex film. It’s also a perfect example of what the director talks about when he says he prefers suspense to surprise; a hack might have withheld the secret of Novak’s duality through to the end; Hitch takes time to explain what has occurred to the audience so that we instead agonise over what Stewart’s reaction will be and how this single piece of information will either save him or tip the lapsed police officer over the edge.
Peter Bradshaw says some useful things about its filmic qualities. My heart nearly exploded during the beautifully acted moment when the passengers look each other in the eye, as though the girl who'll live is saying good-bye to the girl who won't, one of those split seconds which lasts a lifetime. I'm not sure I could watch the whole of the half hour version.
"Thrift, Horatio, thrift!"
One of the features I always meant to bring to the blog, but failed to due to other distractions, was reviews of the various published editions of the play. Let’s begin. As well as the colouring book and paper dolls, Dover were also good enough to send copies of their version of the play itself, part of their Thrift Edition series, publishing the world’s literature at a nominal price. Already out is a straight reprint of just the play, UK price £1.50, which these days is cheaper than a Penguin.
This is a copy of the text from the 1892 complete works published by MacMillan and Co which combines the Second Quarto with the First Folio and means the gravediggers are still listed as Clowns. Some modern thought suggests that the different versions of the play don’t contain errors but an expression of Shakespeare revising his work later, but as a cheap entry level edition this is very good, drafting in annotations from Alexander Schmidt’s Shakespeare-Lexicon and it’s to Dover’s credit that they take the time to list their sources.
Coming to the UK in November is the Dover Thrift Study Edition (pictured), priced £4.95 which includes the same text married with a reprint of the “literary analysis and perspectives from MAXnotes for Hamlet, published in 2000 by Research & Education Association Inc, Piscataway, New Jersey”. Prepared by Joanne K. Miller from the Department of English, Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana (the United States is a big place) the study guide is split into three sections, an introduction to Shakespeare and the play, a tour of the play noting points of interest and a bibliography (which is really a list of sources).
Since I’m a fan, not an educator, I’m not sure how qualified I am to say whether the guide is detailed enough for today’s students (insert discussion about working to the test). Miller’s text is pitched lower than the nerdier excesses of the Arden editions but less arcane than the Signet Classic from which she has sourced some of her material. In other words, it isn’t afraid to throw about the acronyms (Q1, Q3, F1) and is happy to explain that Shakespeare based the play on earlier works. The rest of the ensuing guide is broken up into summary and analysis of each scene, coupled with quiz questions.
The main element I've noticed is that the play is treated very much as a text rather than a script; there's nothing I can see about how the play might be cut for stage and the implications that has on how we view Hamlet’s personality and for example whether he’s aware that he’s being watched during “To Be…” It’s arguable that this is irrelevant for the purposes of secondary education, which is largely about developing the child’s analytical as well as language skills, but its non-inclusion demonstrates a streamlined approach to this study of the play which also lacks the inclusion of previous critical opinion; Dover Wilson and Leavis are nowhere to be seen.
How is it, my lord?
If I was looking for an introduction to the play this would be good enough. One of the problems I encountered at school was because of the weight of critical opinion, the mass of text that surrounded the plays almost submerging them as entities, I did get terribly confused about the essentials of the story and what each scene is basically about. The slightly confusing York Notes lent a hand but ultimately I failed my English Literature A-Level (N-grade). I’m not saying this kind of straightforward study guide would have been the sticky plaster on the gash in my brain were cognitive understanding was spilling out amid exam pressure, but it might have helped
Hamlet. Dover Thrift Edition. Dover Publications. ISBN: 978-0486272788.
Hamlet. Dover Thrift Study Edition. Dover Publications. ISBN: 978-0486475721.
"Nothing says telly in 1997 quite like an untucked lime-green shirt, does it? What we have here is a quite magnificent clip from 5’s Company, the low-budget afternoon gabfest from the original dodgy-reception-and-Tim-Vine incarnation of Channel 5."What I'd really like to see is the Andrew O'Connor gameshow which ran on Sky in the early nineties Anything For Money in which members of the public were offered increasing amounts of cash to do outrageous things (the contestants then had guess how high the bribe would be). Connection: Dale Winton was one of the plants.
This episode of the US version should offer an idea of what it was like.
It's the Liverpool launch of Green Apple Smirnoff and Lime Smirnoff and to celebrate, they've commissioned giant ice sculptures which will be unveiling five huge ice sculptures across the UK on the 11th September recreating iconic landmarks. Glasgow will receive an Armadillo, Manchester's will be a the Urbis Centre, the Forth Bridge will be reconstructed in Edinburgh. Covent Garden piazza will be an ice sculpture of London’s skyline featuring Canary Wharf, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, St. Pauls Cathedral and The Gherkin.
Liverpool One will be home to an ice replica of the top of the Liver Building. Here is an artist's impression, though the location seems to have changed (see below).
As they say in their email: "We’d also like to invite your readers to the launch site where the first 20 readers quoting your blog name arriving at the ice sculpture from 6pm will be entered into a prize draw to win Green Apple Smirnoff and Lime Smirnoff take home packs to share with friends."
Yes indeed. Turn up and shout 'feeling listless' at someone and you might receive free alcoholic beverages. Might I suggest you phrase it more as a question than an answer. So "Feeling listless?" rather than "Feeling listless (sigh)" See what happens.
The address is: Liverpool One, in front of John Lewis, Urban Outfitters and Virgin Megastore. L1 8JQ.
There isn't much else in the way of describing what else will be happening. I think it will look rather like that scene in Groundhog Day. Though with more alcohol, more ice, more people and no Bill Murray or Andi MacDowell. Or Groundhog.
The installations will see some of the world’s top ice sculptors, Duncan and Jamie Hamilton, Ben Edson, Jack Hackney and Darren Jackson work through the night to carve the structures from a mix of clear and white ice. The ice blocks for the sculptures, being prepared in giant freezers at the Hamilton’s workshop in South West London, will be transported to each location on the 11th September. Upon arrival, they’ll be slotted into place and shaped into their illustrious designs, incorporating limes, green apples and frozen bottles of Smirnoff flavoured vodka.
Sculptor Duncan Hamilton comments: “We were delighted to be asked to work with Smirnoff Flavours. This is the first time we have been asked to design and produce a project of this scale. The challenge to present such unique large sculptures in five city centres, at the same time and on the same day is wonderful.”
Michael Martin, spokesperson for Smirnoff vodka comments: “We wanted to do something original and exciting and resolutely iconic to mark the launch of Lime Smirnoff and Green Apple Smirnoff in the UK. When we saw what the Hamiltons had in store, we were blown away. Make sure you get to see the sculptures before they melt and check out the new flavours of Smirnoff which you can try in many bars around the country!”
Does anyone know what the drains are like at Liverpool One?
Plenty has already been written online by better writers than me about what went wrong, the extent to which studio interference wrecked Whedon’s vision (again) and how he keeps working for Fox Television even to an extent his relationship with them is somewhat like Michelangelo and the Pope in the film the Agony and the Ecstasy when the artist was trying to paint the Sistine Chapel with the Holy Father continually making his job more difficult by suggesting some new things, here and there.
Hackles greeted the announcement that he would be working with them again after the Firefly debarkle and as Whedon listed the problems himself on Whedoneque, it looked like we were watching the slow death of another of Joss’s series. Having visited the whole series then the (largely) unaired pilot I think problem was, and neither Whedon or the studio saw this, that having decided upon an exciting and interesting concept, no one seemed to know how to communicate it without the result looking shallow, dirty or hateful and mumbled.
[Spoilers ahead, by the way, if you haven't watched the series yet. Great big ones.]
As Whedon admits on the commentaries, he has a set of political beliefs as well as ideas on how quality television should be (no boats) which means that in the unaired pilot he’s desperate not to make the Dollhouse look like it's simply peddling in rubber women made of flesh. So we see Echo in all kinds of non-sexual “parts” and there are long discussions about the implications of what the doll house is and how altruistic it could be. And does all of that whilst introducing the ensemble and setting up the idea of an FBI agent trying to discover if the place really exists.
It doesn’t work. There’s too much information and none of the characters get a proper entrance and importantly by the end of the episode we don’t really care about any of them, there’s no Willow or Kaylee or Cordelia for us to sympathise with. It should be Echo, but because her personality is wiped and she has no sense of identity, and we don’t know who she was before she joined the Dollhouse, the viewer is oddly divorced from the action. These are probably the notes which the studio gave Whedon and a ton of others as he went into production on the rest of the series, main one being “slow down”.
Which he does with plenty of correctives. Elements of that pilot are smeared all over the rest of the series. We do find out about who Caroline is, more about the Dollhouse, and the conspiracy elements are injected. But even in the opening five episodes of the series however superficially entertaining they are, in a desperate attempt to not make the show anything like the rest of dramatic television, they toss out, at least initially, all of those tropes which make the rest of dramatic television immediately accessible, which is brave, exciting, experimental, but ultimately self defeating in terms of building audience confidence.
Here’s what Dollhouse needed at the beginning, which would have solved all of the problems.
An origin story. Forgive me if all this looks a bit rushed. It is.
Since Eliza Dushku is essentially the lead, the first episode should have been the story of how Caroline became Echo. The teaser would have been the animal lab break-in from the Echoes episode.
The first act Adele attempts to convince her to join (with security guy Lawrence as the expositional spring board). She’s shown about by Adele and Boyd, after perhaps seeing the altruistic benefits the house can have and hearing about the death of her boyfriend she decides to take the treatment.
Act Two is the first treatment, introducing Topher and the Doctor and the concepts of what will happen. But we cutaway before the treatment is complete and importantly nothing is said about the vacant version of Echo. In other words, it implied that what we're seeing is The Matrix skillset additions with added personality or what we see during the Russian language lift scene in Epitaph One.
Acts Three-Five Echo’s first mission which looks like the kind of thing which might help with her grief over the death of her boyfriend. But there’s no La Femme Nikita montage showing her being trained which should show that something is very wrong and we do not give away that when she’s not Caroline, that she’s a void, until the very end, the last scene being the usual “Was I asleep?” conversation.
And threading through that the FBI agent’s story demonstrating that the Dollhouse is something of a mythic organisation, but noting that the reason he can’t make progress is because the high status clients who are using the service are also protecting it.
Yes, I know that looks hackneyed and like everything else on television. It’s the pilot of Alias and to an extent Torchwood and any number of series and if done badly it might suggest that the Dollhouse is some kind of sinister organisation like SD6 who are now taking advantage of Caroline/Echo. But Boyd’s presence grounds it somewhat – how bad can this place be if he works for it – and there is still the same level of ambiguity as to the premise. It’s used often because it works and sometimes you have to make the status quo to break it.
It also has a point of view, someone introducing us to the world, Rachel in first episode of Friends, Xander and Willow in Buffy, River and Simon in Firefly, the Doctor's companions. That’s what the show lacked at the start (something like Battlestar Galactica doesn’t need them because they’re about the shift from one status quo to another, all of the characters are essentially point of view figures for the audience). Another approach would be to have Boyd somehow entering the status quo and it being the story of how he becomes Echo’s handler.
That's all past and gone, old news. The show is active so to speak and heading into its second year. It's to Whedon's credit that even with the confused opening he has made the show as gripping as it is by the end even though like Torchwood we're ultimately being asked to sympathise with characters who work for a very dark organisation. Dollhouse deals with massive thematic questions related to identity and belief and fantasy and slavery and the implications technology has on society. There aren't many shows prepared to think about these issues on a long term basis.
Ever on the look out for unusual ways in which Hamlet can been communicated, I find myself looking at the play in paper doll form. As you’ll know, paper dolls are the two dimensional equivalent of dollies, the way that little girls and I expect some boys played dress up before the invention of plastic. They’re of no fixed origin, with evidence of kimonoed versions cropping up in ancient Japan and Balinese designs dating back to biblical times. They first became popular in Europe during the eighteenth century and Milton Bradley made them popular in the US from 1920 onwards (wiki). Virtual versions have followed.
It says in the introduction to this book from Dover Publications that its been the dream of artist Tom Tierney to create a paper doll set featuring Shakespeare’s characters. Judging by the product list on his website he’s something of an expert and enthusiast and a google search reveals hundreds of examples of his work. Tierney’s the illustrator who created the Barack Obama and John McCain dolls during the presidential campaign last year. His latest publication features Obama and his family, part of a presidential series.
The best way to review a book of paper dolls would be to find a pair of scissors and cut out the figures and costumes. But being practically challenge, I’ve decided to simply look at the pictures. On page three of the book are the dolls themselves, Richard and Elizabeth, or Richard Geer and Julie Andrews or Heath Ledger and Jennifer Garner. I’m opinion oscillating but it’s impossible to see these images and not attempt to assign an identity. Elizabeth Taylor then? Elizabeth Hurley? They're painted in a simple comic book style, with their hands close to their chest presumably to allow for some flexibility in the shape of the costumes.
The rest of the book features those costumes. As Hamlet, Richard finds himself tunic’d all in black, clasping the skull to his stomach and wearing a wig which seems to have been borrowed from Adam, prince of Eternia and defender of the secrets of Castle Greyskull (He-Man). Elizabeth’s Ophelia is already gripped by madness, is draped in a white nightdress with long golden hair and clasping those flowers which are often imaginary depending upon the budget of the production. Of the all plays features in the book, it is noticable that Hamlet is about the only one where the apparel so clearly orientates the characters to a particular point in the play.
At the back of the book is a short synopsis of the plays which manages to offer the plot of Hamlet in about seventy words and confirms which part of each story is being illustrated. As ever, Fortinbras is cut. But if I was of a certain age, as with the colouring book I reviewed the other day, I’d probably find all of this fascinating. The only improvement I might have made would have been to include a short extract to give children to act from, but on reflection the lack of such only means they have to pick up a copy of the play which has to be for the good.
Great Characters from Shakespeare - Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney. Dover Publications. ISBN: 978-0486413303.
"I've been to premieres. I've done Hollywood. I've done all that sort of thing. But it pales into insignificance when you're in a bus shelter in Unst. It's a remarkable place to see a film. I can't think of anywhere more extraordinary."Also: Northern exposure
Then, in the comments section of the post, the author, offers some feed back to the blogger, essentially saying that Lazlo has missed the point, which is that it was supposed to be a pastiche, and lists all the people who've liked the book including Harlan Ellison, and essentially becomes a bit unstuck.
I'll let you enjoy the resulting fu-yung. It isn't pretty and neither party comes out of it that well. [via, via]
"The title credits roll over a scene of condensed, symbolic wishing: Hollywood as dream factory. Hepburn is standing, very slim, in a long, black column dress with a glittering, enormous collar necklace and the trademark black sunglasses that Jackie O would adopt a few years later. (Jackie O's supposedly iconic looks markedly resemble Hepburn's from a few years earlier.) The camera encourages us to gaze longingly with her through the Tiffany's window at diamonds and other jewels; and then she strolls up the street, munching the doughnut that we know is probably the only doughnut Hepburn ever ate in her life. But it is precisely these little touches of normality, of the ordinary, that humanised Hepburn's image."Which almost captures the scene perfectly, except, and this is a point of order, isn't Holly eating a croissant? Isn't she enjoying a coffee and croissant? This lady seems to think so. Through the magic of the internet, the scene in question:
If it is a croissant (and without this turning into the Zebruder film in terms of analysis I think it is) doesn't that simply add to Holly's transformation, part of her New York affectation, a demonstration of her subsuming her identity in yet another way? I also think we're meant to interpret that this is Holly's typical morning routine, the comforts which keep her going until she can find her way home.
I know. It's unfair to pick out one detail in what is otherwise a very enjoyable feature. Perhaps I'm just sensitive because it's one of my favourite scenes in cinema, one of the reasons I began eating croissant, why I'm probably going to do just that right now. And from the quality of that clip it could just as well be a Danish pastry. I don't know what that would imply.