Music Personally I think the Kate Nash/Lily Allen/Gabriella Cilmi/whimsyoverload Lena was a worthy winner and we got the pasting we deserved. The songs seemed to exist in different decades [video via].
"How come people are allowed to buy taxis if they aren’t taxi drivers? It means they get to drive in the bus lane, that’s not fair! I don’t think they’re supposed to drive in the bus lane, but they do. Stephen Fry and Prince Philip have black cabs too, I wonder if they drive in bus lanes? I bet they bloody do. I would."My parents have always said that if they won the lottery they'd buy a taxi and get someone else to drive it. I wonder how that fits into this world view.
It's certainly no substitute for being at a repertory festival like the one organised recently by TCM in LA which took pains to show films that weren't even available on dvd or had only recently been restored. Slant Magazine's Dennis Cozzalio's report of the event is a dense, anecdotal masterpiece, which speaks not just of the films and study, but the people he met and the nuts and bolts of simply getting through the door:
"Sunnyside Up concluded around 12:15 a.m., just early enough for me to catch the last train out of Hollywood. On the short journey back to Universal City where my car was parked I struck up a happy conversation with a festival worker who was headed home to North Hollywood. She told me how excited she was to be working the festival—unlike many other festivals for which she had volunteered, here she was actually getting paid. I told her a little about Esther Williams and my own sense of excitement, and after that brief train ride whenever we'd run into each other, as we did several times over the next few days, I noticed we both always seemed to be smiling. [...] I spent the rest of the journey home trying to convince myself that this festival wasn't just some giddy figment of my Technicolor-addled imagination, that it really was happening, and reminding myself just how lucky I was to get to be part of it."In short, Cozzalio makes this sound like the Woodstock of classic film [via].
This fortnight's running list for the BBC's Red Button service has been released and includes a welcome addition to BBC Two's new bringing the bard to the kids series When Romeo Met Juliet. The entire production is being presented in its entirety afterwards:
When Romeo Met Juliet
One city, two schools, eight weeks and a slot in a major theatre to put on a professional production of Shakespeare's most famous love story. What will happen when Romeo meets Juliet?
In BBC Two's new three-part series, Paul Roseby, the Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre, brings together two schools from opposite sides of the same city in a unique experiment. Each school will be cast as one of the two feuding families at the heart of the play. Romeo and his Montague clan come from a Coventry city centre comprehensive while Juliet and the Capulets are from a Catholic school in the city's northern suburbs.
The unique Shakespeare performance by the two schools that forms the climax of When Romeo Met Juliet is available in its entirety on the red button, complete with special programme notes. Filmed live at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre and screened to an audience outside as well as inside, it features an original score performed by a band made up of pupils from both schools.
Friday 18th June, 9.55pm - 4am (19th)(see above)
(Not available on Freesat)
Vortigern was obviously not a theatrical masterpiece, regardless of who had written it. The first hint of disaster came in the third act, when a bit player—a skeptic, like Kemble—overplayed his lines for laughs. The crowd grew more restive in the final act, when Kemble as King Vortigern addressed Death with mock solemnity:The full text of the play with a preface by Ireland's father, who was still convinced of its authenticity years after his son had confessed, is available elsewhere on-line.
O! then thou dost ope wide thy hideous jaws,
And with rude laughter, and fantastic tricks,
Thou clapp’st thy rattling fingers to thy sides;
And when this solemn mockery is ended—
The last line he intoned in a ghoulish, drawn-out voice, which provoked several minutes of laughter and whistling. Kemble repeated the line—leaving no doubt as to what mockery he was referring to—and the crowd erupted again. The performance might have ended there, but Kemble stepped forward to ask the audience to permit the show to go on.
Film "Exposition Is A Pill That Must Be Sugar-Coated" I can't help feeling, on seeing this interview with Hitch, that when fans of Doctor Who say things like "Oh, well Amy's not very well developed as a character..." they're either not paying attention or assume that character development consists of a three minute speech by way of introduction in which they explain themselves in totality.
One of the key archives is at The Library of Congress which is responsible for over six million audio-visual items, many of which are unique. Ken Weissman, Supervisor of the Library's Film Preservation Laboratory talks at some length and fascinating detail about their work which is generally about numbers. Here he is on how long they'll be able to store the work for future generations:
"Several years ago, the Image Permanence Institute developed the concept of Preservation Index (PI). This is a measure of how ambient temperature and relative humidity affect decay, and is expressed in years.He also writes at some length about the difference between digital and hard copy storage, like me coming down on the side of the latter, generally because of the logistics of storing and shifting the massive data files required and their in-built ephemera [via].
We have differing conditions depending upon the materials stored in them and their use. Our nitrate film is stored at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, with 30% relative humidity. This equates to a Preservation Index of 655 years.
For non-nitrate film preservation masters (also known as “safety film”), we store at 25 degrees Fahrenheit, 30% relative humidity, for a PI of 2125 years. All of our new film preservation masters go into this storage environment.
The remainder of our collection includes magnetic tapes of all types and flavors, both audio and video — Edison cylinders, wire recordings, metal stampers, etc. You name it, we probably have it. These are stored at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, 30% relative humidity, for a PI of 429 years, and in some cases, at 50 degrees, 30% relative humidity, for a PI of 244 years.
TV David Simon hates how New York and LA seem to have become the be-all end-all of film and television narratives in the US. Much the same problem has developed in the UK -- new cop shows are almost exclusively set in London. The Chinese Detective would not be commissioned now.
"The movie's visual style is arthritic. Director Michael Patrick King covers the sitcom dialogue by dutifully cutting back and forth to whoever is speaking. A sample of Carrie's realistic dialogue in a marital argument: "You knew when I married you I was more Coco Chanel than coq au vin." Carrie also narrates the film, providing useful guidelines for those challenged by its intricacies. Sample: "Later that day, Big and I arrived home."His final point is something I wonder about women's magazine all of the time.
In the nineteenth century, serial novels worked hard to accommodate themselves to industrial daily life. As the bourgeois workday rigidified into something like a nine-to-five, leisure time became repetitive as well. Serialization allowed people to set aside time for reading at evenly spaced intervals, and thus helped to keep the alternating sequence of work and leisure running smoothly along. Interruptions in the publication of a serial work could be very upsetting. When Dickens failed to produce an installment of Pickwick in June 1837, his publishers sent out notices all over, and the July number included an explanation refuting rumors that he had gone insane and died. Apparently, readers could not have imagined a less catastrophic explanation for the interruption of their favorite novel.Perhaps its a good job that more than one writer is working on Buffy Season Eight. Later on there's a perfect description of Lost which sadly turned up too late for me to write about it in my dissertation about genre and narrative in hyperlink drama:
"Lost also dismantles (or at least ignores) the boundaries separating serial television’s well-established collection of genres. A typical episode may begin with an emergency medical procedure, like E.R. in a jungle hut. But then someone will discover a bomb, or a computer station, or a plane in a tree, and lead Jack and his still-recovering patient on a police-style chase. Then someone will be interrogated and tortured, à la 24, until a creature made of thick smoke bursts out of the ground and interrupts everything. Then, flashing variously forward and backward, we spend time with the Korean mob or African drug-runners. Then everybody time-travels, gets sick in the process, and needs Jack to put the gun down and become a doctor again. [...] Lost provides the delirious feeling of watching serial television swallow itself whole."Sadly, the final paragraph of my conclusion mentioned Six Degrees as the possible future instead. Incidentally, no I haven't seen the finale season yet. I don't have Sky. I'm wating for the blu-ray release [via].
"It’s not so much that I am now almost certainly going to be fired. Since I found out how much the model Sophie Anderton used to earn as a high-class call girl, my commitment to continuing as a writer at The Times has been touch and go anyway, to be honest.It's a brilliant piece of writing, emotional, exciting and has an unexpected twist in the middle which sends it in another direction. If there's a better pop interview this year, I'll be very surprised. Probably deserves a Pulitzer.
It’s more that I am genuinely devastated to have blown it so spectacularly. Since I saw Gaga play Poker Face at Glastonbury Festival last year, I have been a properly, hawkishly devoted admirer.
But, as Scott Matthewman notes, come June/July when the great Murdoch paywall is built around The Times website, it's also the kind of writing which will fall into obscurity on-line pretty quickly:
"Online, I would have to read a lot more content from the Times’ website than just Moran’s article to make the £1 for 24 hours’ access of comparable value to buying a print newspaper. And to be honest, that’s not really how my reading consumption on the web works: I tend to read articles from all sorts of newspaper sites, blogs and other web sources. A lot of that comes to me via Google Reader, through which I have subscribed to web feeds from a whole array of different websites. An increasing amount, though, comes at the recommendation of others, people I communicate with regularly and trust via Twitter and Facebook. Likewise, I share links, such as Moran’s, that I think people may like to read."Of course my reasons for not buying The Times are ideological. Which is a completely different, and not inconsistent, discussion for some other time.
The space is split into two areas, sectioned off with cotton curtain. On the right we hear the taxi ride through an early morning blizzard of someone called Dimitri and in the other (where I used to get my hair cut) the midday bells from the ancient convent of Suzdal cry out. Both play at the same time, and the chimes intermingle with the rev of the engines; standing in front of the information table in the middle of the shop its not hard to imagine that you’re chasing through the streets past the church, especially with the natural bustle of Liverpool bleeding in from outside.
If the idea brings to mind Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet in which that number of speakers are arranged about the white cube producing some Tallis polyphony or even a home cinema system, the execution is rather more rustic. The walls and floorboards of each room are filled with home made speakers cobbled together from found Russian wood and antique loudspeakers bought second hand which means that the resulting noise changes depending on where the listener is standing, which certainly works better with the hopeful beating of the bells.
One final technical note: both installations stopped just as I entered and as the invigilator lifted up the black wooden box at the heart of the work, I was amazed to discover an old Sony Playstation lying on top of an amplifier with a remote control converter sticking out of the front. Apparently they’re in widespread use in just this kind of art, because the sound chip inside is more flexible than that of an ordinary cd player and superior even to the later PS models. Which also meant I was able to hear the old Sony start-up jingle in greater clarity than ever before.
Sounds like pretty much every film Godard's made since the 60s, especially Éloge de l'amour. At some point Godard parted company with narrative and it's almost as though he can't bare to look it in the face again. When the first trailer turned up online, someone helpfully went through and translated the dialogue which based on Kermode's review isn't what the director wanted at all.
As ever the images are remarkable, especially the scenes on the ship with their primary colours and the shot of the woman on the wall being shadowed by the spinning fan. But even in translation the dialogue is impenetrable, like John Sessions improvising Godard on an old episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
The final trailer eschewed dialogue in favour of simply cramming the entire film into a single minute by just speeding up the footage:
If this does get picked up against Mark's prediction I expect as ever with Godard I'm going to be simultaneously enchanted and appalled, and in this case watching as people at the Cornerhouse run to the back of the screen to complain about the lack of subtitles.
She times carefully how everything seems to fit into place in the meagre time that the Doctor and friends have before the Silurians turn up and the preparation can't literally, logically, happen within that short space of time. The series is replete with these kinds of time shifts, not least Amy's recording in The Beast Below and the construction of the space spitfires in Victory of the Daleks.
My current pet theory (which is somewhat developed by an infamous moment in Flesh and Stone) is that all of these conveniences are being contrived by a future version of the Doctor double backing on his own timeline and fixing things rather like Bill and Ted at the close of their Excellent Adventure.
In other words, I envisage a scene here were one of the characters finds a convenient stash of equipment somewhere which has been left by future Doctor and that the boy's picture MaryAnn talks about was aided by that same man. How that explains the apparent future versions of Amy & Rory here, I'm not sure.
But fans seem willing to believe that the Doctor is witholding information all over the shop anyway and/or flat out lying for some reason. As MaryAnn notes in the rest of her detailed blog post, the scanning of Amy also gives further evidence that there isn't something quite right about her either
These details show that the whole series is working at far higher narrative order than any of the first four and that includes the bees. But let's also not forget the detailed theories that spun out of Bad Wolf and what a shambles that turned out to be.
"The child themselves might become He-Man or some of the other characters through Halloween dress-ups and the web is full of yellowing family photographs of children of my son's generation physically embodying the heroes of their programs. Their mothers (or in my son's case, their grandmothers) might be coaxed into decorating birthday cakes with images copied from He-Man coloring books. And those lacking coloring books (or possessing artistic temperaments) would draw their own pictures of these characters which gave another tangible form to their fantasy lives. My son wrote countless stories which he dictated to his mother and I about He-Man and in the process, he moved from playing with physical objects to playing with words and with the basic building blocks of narratives."The ropiness of some of the animation in the tv series would certainly have been a catalyst for some of this, though of course that also made the characters easier to draw. I wonder if new television shows which are far more information rich (visually as well as in terms of describing a context) is still having the same effect.
Whilst we attempt to wrap our brains around that revelation (and thank the Lord Rassilon that Dixon didn't appear in the first episode of Doctor Who as is rumoured making the Whoniverse a figment of the copper's walking life too), TV Cream surprises us with the revelation that BBC2 had an idea that melded the two series in 1998. Welcome to The Black and Blue Lamp which sounds like an utter treat and demands a Network dvd release ASAP.
Which is my way of saying that contrary to the Twitter reaction (you know who you are) tonight’s closing title squeeze was greeted with applause from me which considering my historic enmity with writer Chris Chibnall and director Ashley Way (who was also on early Torchwood and so will be forever guilty by association) was rather a surprise. I’ll admit to being charmed from top to bottom and though I’ll also admit to a couple of retrospective reservations (which we’ll come to) this was more or less everything I’d want and expect from an episode of Doctor Who. We're even still in the countryside.
Before you ram issue 413 of Doctor Who Magazine down my throat (or some other orifice) and shout “What does that make The Caves of Androzani?” I will add that so far this isn’t the best story ever and no matter how good episode nine is it still won’t be. City of Death wuz robbed. But what it does deliver is a good old fashioned love letter to the Pertwee era and a reminder that even in this new(ish) version of the franchise with Steven Moffat’s fairy tale noodlings burrowing through it, that he’s still interested sometimes in offering a good old fashioned alien invasion story with a moral pulse, a tribute to the Silurian’s original creator Malcolm Hulke (albeit with a shorter miniskirt than Katie might have risked).
There is just something very comforting about an episode that throws out all of the post-modern tricks we’ve become accustomed to and goes about the business of showing us as traditional a Who story as possible that unlike The Waters of Mars which reported the standard Proppian/Dickian/Daviesian elements as a way of foregrounding the impending doom of the Doctor’s alien morality, just wants to leave us entertained. For all the lush photography and rustic charm with a few obvious exceptions, parts of this episode look like we should be viewing them through the same gausy quality of episodes which now only exist in off-air NTSC copies down to the BBC Micro inspired graphic of the lizard's flatulence propulsion.
Just once the Eleventh Doctor is allowed to gradually follow the mystery, from the initial clue of the blue grass, through to breaking into an industrial building then gaining the trust of some scientist who’s experiment has rattled the cage of something other, with his companions becoming separated so that they can discover some bits of plot (nice moment for Rory in the grave) before falling into some peril (literally in Amy’s case) and taking refuge in a church up some other devil's end. Arguably we have seen set ups in other episodes built on the Doctor’s own curiosity (notably The Beast Below), none of them as been quite this bald in execution. About the only deviation is the Pertweevian cliché of the Doctor's perennial capture being turned on its head with his antagonist finding herself in the cell instead.
Dr Nasreen Chaudhry and her new boyfriend Tony seem designed to merge the main early 70s bystander character types, like Ruth from The Time Monster finding something in common with Bert from The Green Death. Of course, if this was a proper homage there would be a stereotypical Tory presence on hand tutting as the drilling was stopped for whatever reason (though given that this story is set in 2020 and depending on your optimism at the present climate it might as well be a Lib Dem – Chris Hulme’s in charge of the environment now after all). Their role is arguably substituted with the fantastically named Ambrose whose collection of domestic weaponry is meant to suggest she’ll be the one to go Stahlman in the next episode, though it's clearly a front and Rory will be the on wielding the axe.
Despite what some fans my suggest, we haven’t seen enough of the new Silurian/Eocenes yet to really judge. One of the b-list monsters along with the Sontarans, their reputation has grown large enough for us to forget that they’ve only appeared in two television stories and only one good story at that. For fans I’d argue, it’s Hulke’s Target novelisation which has sealed their reputation and perhaps their infrequent contradictory appearances in spin-off media, including The Coup, that amazing preview that came free with DWM for the audio UNIT spin-off in which a new knighted Brigadier attempts to help them be mankind’s first contact with alien life, only to have humanity dismiss them as men in rubber suits!
a new knighted Brigadier
Understandably the redesign, neatly another new branch of the species so as not to tread on what’s gone before employs the Star Trek/Frontier in Space appliance of allowing us to see the actor’s faces. Taking into account the compensating mask which will no doubt come into play more in the next episode as way of cutting down on make-up requirements (and to give Forbidden Planet a bumber Christmas), that does mean that they may lack the enigmatic features of the likes of Ichtar and the wonderfully impractical flashing light but allows them a much wider range of emotions as seen in the interrogation scene we’ll discuss later. They’re also more agile. The scenes in the graveyard are gripping stuff, their Raston Robot like silhouette a perfectly alien shape against the stone and greenery. Plus, doubters at least the reinvention of the Myrka hinted at in Confidential didn't come to pass.
It’s not all that straightforward though, with Moffat’s hand can be seen elsewhere. As well as the idea of an every day piece of landscape become a portal of doom (and having had my own adventures I can tell you being pulled into the earth is no fun so exactly like being born), the spectre of older Amy and Rory on the hill are an incursion from the main story arc and ripe to reconfigure the story from an alternative viewpoint, perhaps shot in similar style to a similar scene between Harry Potter and Hermione Granger in the film version of The Prison of Azkaban (somewhat oddly since Rory is probably fulfilling the Ron Weasley role in the rest of the series) were the two watched their recent past spinning out unable to interfere.
All of the talk of fixed points in history in the trailer for Cold Blood suggests were heading back into time in flux “This is The Waters of Mars, really…” territory next week, which brings me to that retrospective reservation. The deleted scene, the one revealed in Doctor Who Confidential which if you didn’t see it shows the Doctor and Amy’s walk to the mine. Something has clearly gone awry if the first cut of an episode is fifteen minutes too long (did no one notice at the scripting stage?) and one casualty was what looked it should have been one of the best scenes of the season (and certainly would have made up for the paucity of Amy in the rest of the episode – was the she biggest causality of the cutting massacre?).
In the clips we saw, the Doctor and Amy are simply talking and laughing and joking about and talking about the main arc and Rory in the TARDIS in a way that they haven’t really since the first episode of this series. The performances are relaxed and fresh and lensed in a beautiful mix of steady-cam mid-shot from the front and heading off into the distance from the back. In this kind of show, these are the kinds of character scenes which people remember far longer than a bit of running (cf, the domestic chat between the Doctor and Rose in The Impossible Planet) and though I understand why such a long sequence had to be chopped for timing at that point in the episode, it’s a pity that it couldn’t have been tucked in somewhere else by way of a flashback.
Nevertheless with the strength of the writing elsewhere, there were enough other good character moments for the Doctor to go some way in making up for this aboration. If Chibnall’s interpretation sailed very close to the Tenth axis with a few of His catchphrases creeping in (“I love a mine.”/“You are beautiful!”), he did give Matt Smith another opportunity to demonstrate his facility for working with children (“No, they’re afraid of me.”), his fallibility in letting the child spin off on his own and the very calm unwrapping of a villain’s armoury of bullshit we’ve already seen in The Vampire of Venice, his cross-legged, calm, unflappable intelligence more than a match Alaya’s thorn in the paw pretence, quietly elucidation her options but knowing full well, based on previous experience that she has war in her heart and that if he’s not careful it can’t end well.
Unlike this episode. Since the more typical traditional body horror of Amy’s upcoming prospective dissection may have proved too much in these sensitive times (that infamous clip of Whitehouse commenting on The Deadly Assassin having gone airborne), the chosen, more nu-Who cliffhanger with its reveal of the lizard city, like a golden version of the Gungan city (if I can risk jinxing things with a comparison like that unless the next episode reveals a giant Silurian/Eocene leader with I’M BRIAN BLESSED!’S voice) is just the kind of epic imagery beloved of the comic strips (and the novels – can anyone confirm, since I haven’t read it, if this is what Hulke had in mind in The Cave Monsters?) and with its lava pools a reminder that they’re very much not from the amphibious end of the species. If the designs in the next episode can extrapolate this vista properly, we’re in for a treat.
Next Week: Into the pit. No, not that one.