Two Houses
previously: 1, 2, 3 ...

Film Woody Allen's new film Anything Else has a poster. Judging by the artwork you can imagine the voiceover on the trailer saying ... "A new teen comedy from Woody Allen!?!" Can I put a vote in for a return to his older serious ones?
Art Deanimated, the current show from Martin Arnold at the FACT centre Liverpool plays about with film and images and the perception they create within the view. The most effective piece is a development of The Suffering of Joan of Arc, a 1928 silent film from Carl Theodor Dreyer. Arnold takes the one iconic image of the film, the face of Joan and with some computer trickery randomizes the emotions which flash across her face. So her expression shimmers from happiness to fear and back again and we are left trying to decide what she is reacting to. As a viewer we sympathise with the character even though with this context we’ve no idea what she’s reacting to (because the isn’t actually reacting to anything). Martin Scorsese gave Sharon Stone a tape of this film when he was making Casino as an emotional reference for her. I wonder how manic her work might have been had she only seen this.
TV The new CMB channel which has been promoing on channel 22 for months has been scrapped. At least I think it has. This article seems to go around the houses with the explaination. [Digital Spy, discussion]
TV e.r. was playing about with time again this week (after that episode in which Kovach’s day was played backwards). In this a day and night shift on the day of an eclipse played simultaneously (with cross cutting though, not a Timecode style split screen). Considering this show has been knock about for ten years, it’s good to see they’re not afraid the experiment and this largely worked. We saw the opening of a trauma and the aftermath playing simultaneously (playing unnervingly like the moment in Don’t Look Now when Sutherland and Christie are shown both during and after sex). Something which stopped it being the perfect examination of form Flip-flop is was Rocket Romano’s amputation which whilst touching felt like it should have been in the previous week’s episode. It’s good that Noah Wyle is still around after all these years. When all of the hype dies down and the show floats into syndication we’ll be able to see that it’s greatest achievement was to show the life and career of one man over many years, from the nervous wreck who couldn’t suture on his first day to the strong will who shouted down his boss when she was interrupting her when he was taking an important personal call. It’s all going Salvador next week which should be treat.
Architecture Bluff House: "The entire site is considered living space, with rooms formed both inside and out. A Zen-inspired garden court is cradled in the hollow between the street and the open, ell-shaped house, whose shorter, pavilion leg adjoins the minimally landscaped garden. A narrow entry links this leg to the longer leg of the ell. This larger but visually subordinate cedar-clad element contains the garage, kitchen, and utility rooms." As a highrise flat dweller this sounds very inviting...
Who Flip-Flop "I mean it's got Bonnie Langford in it, it's bound to be rubbish!" Well no actually. This is one of the most original entertaining and mind bending Doctor Who stories ever, the dramatic equivalent of a mobeus strip. The Doctor and Mel arrive on a planet where everyone already knows them and discover that it?s because a time paradox which they are about to initiate means they have already been there. It?s a rumination on the idea that of we could go back in time to change history whether the new timeline we create would be any better or worse than the one we have. It?s one of those stories which Who phobics will find fascinating; if you loved Groundhog Day, Momento and Run, Lola Run this is just for you.
Art One of the joys I miss about University is the annual poster sale early in the first term. The sunflower poster I still have on my wall is from one those, as is Grand Central Station. But it never occured to me that the posters on sale were copywrited images and the originators were getting credit. Although it's obviously not on the same scale as file swapping, the pirating of these images is increasingly becoming a concern especially since very high quality images are available online. New Scientist looks at the issue from the point of view of The National Gallery, who recently digitised a large section of their collection in hi-definition for study online. If anyone does decide to try and make money by reproducing and selling on the images there isn't actually anything they could do about it, as digital watermarking the things would violate what the project was about in first place. Shame.
Music When I was in Paris last year it was startling to see that CD singles in the chart didn't have any of the extra tracks we see in the UK. A Norah Jones single had simply the release track and nothing else. And they were the same price. Apart from feeling very lucky I wondered how continental visitors felt when they came here and saw what we have, and wondered what the internet import trade was from places like I like that singles here have to 'b' sides and a video. What I don't like is the price. Four pounds feels very steep and lately I've taken to buying albums in sales which I should have heard already for about £6- instead (hence my recent spate of buying World Music Rough Guides which are in sale at HMV currently -- more on which another time).

The massive dip in sales has been noted, and although it's taken for granted that downloading has some effect, this intelligent article from the The Guardian describes some of the other factors. For example, one of the known ways of promoting a single, airplay is increasing impacting -- they offer the example of a Pink song knocking around for thirteen weeks before release then not doing too well because the listener had heard it already (music on demand tv channels on Sky and Freeview aren't noted but I'm sure they're an issue as well).

There are some interesting solutions offered. One record company is seriously considering the release of all their singles on DVD format. Not too bad, although considering the sheer lack of invention in the promo of late this isn't so attractive. Watching VH-1 and seeing the sheer wacky inventiveness at play for something like the Pet Shop Boy's It's A Sin then clicking to Mtv Hits for yet another helping of hip-hop artists standing around in street shouting and gesturing into the camera hardly inspires confidence. The other option is to cut standard price of the single overall but decreasing what you're going to get -- to some extent follow the Paris model, returning to the A/B. If it means I'm going to get an album track and something new and shiny then fine, lovely. But if it's going to be Avril Lavigne failing to single coherently live again but only once rather than three times, no thank you.

I don't know what the answer is here. When I stand looking at the singles wall in Virgin every Monday and see what passes for our musicians beaming out, portrait shot after portrait shot I don't wonder that I was listening to Paris Café Music on my walkman today. I think that the reason that singles are experiencing a drop in sales is that we're just bored with what we're being offered. Like other forms of entertainment, musical taste has diversified to such an extent nothing being released on single has a universal appeal. I'm probably sounding like an old man, but I can't actually think of any song which is in the chart this week. I'm only 28. If they want to survive and increase sales, they should be selling to me as well. And I'm just not buying it.
Film Again someone captures everything I felt about a film, basically reviewing it so I don't have to. Spy Kids 3D: Game Over is a bizarre entry in what looks like a franchise that will run and run (until the kids grow up). Cue MaryAnn Johnson:
"I think this may be Robert Rodriguez's payback for how Tron warped all our brains as kids, because this is an absolutely insane movie: breathlessly illogical, daringly gaudy, audaciously awful. It's like a movie made by a crazy person who's gone off his meds and so fully believes that purple sounds like butterflies and bananas share with him the secrets of the universe. It's like an Ed Wood movie, so earnest and so desperately sure of itself in all its nutty, clueless glory, so obviously flown in from another planet at great expense. Imagine Wood had made The Matrix, with some hilariously tacked-on emotionalism and increasingly incomprehensible plotting and tons of crap flying out at you in red- and- blue 3-D, and you've got it."
Actually for me it was like a big screen remake of The Adventure Game featuring bizarre celebrity guests. I hope if there is a Spy Kids 4 next year Rob returns to the clearer storytelling of the previous films. With more Banderas and Guilermo. Although I suspect that his next step is to cut out the actors altogether. Shame.
Quiz! Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer? Who codes? You decide ...[via Metafilter]
Books Sometimes I wish that books had cheat codes, so that I could do something about the fact I?m still trying to complete Bitch by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Short term readers with long memories will know I adored her two self confessionals, but this, which she wrote during her cocaine frenzy is an utter chore. But I'm not going to give up. Three chapters and 200 pages to go ...
TV Anyone who's had to sit through hours of UK Style on Sky will know that Trading Spaces which was referenced on last week's episode of e.r. is the US version of Changing Rooms. The show is in it's fourth series over there, and whereas here general embarassment ensues when the people hate their new living arrangements, over there they revel in it. They've even released a new compilation DVD, They Hated It. The Almada Times-Star (no really) have a short piece about these characters who don't think that all chrome is perfect for the lounge. I think part of the problem is that the designers on that show all look a bit shifty -- whereas here Linda Barker caves if her victims don't like the bright pink she's picked for the walls, there they don't have a choice, as though a WWF wrestler is just off camera waiting to colour co-ordinate them physically with the room. The final shock is that it appears on something called 'The Learning Channel'. Seriously, what is this teaching you? [via the indispensable Tv Tattle]
Life Sometimes, some things are just wrong. Sometimes you gave to omit the context. Sometimes you end up not making much sense. Sometimes, though, you really have to say something.