Scene Unseen:
A Knight's Tale: Chaucer's Wife

Film Like the High Fidelity scene I featured a few weeks ago, this feels like it would have been one of the moments audiences talked about as they left the cinema. It doesn't move the story forward or tell you anything you might need to know for the rest of the film to work, but its about character and even though I love the film, I think director Brian Helgeland and editor Kevin Stitt really dropped the ball when they failed to include this. Thank goodness for dvd.

Apart from anything else it features Olivia Williams in a cameo role. Most visible via her appearance as the object of Max's affection in Rushmore, Williams, like her co-star for this scene Laura Fraser is just one of those actresses which really makes a show pick up when she's around. A naked Chaucer is followed into a barn by his cohorts who think he's lost at gambling again. Actually he's enjoying a night with his wife Phillipa (Williams) (a character which doesn't exist in the theatrical cut at all because this scene is missing) and has just popped out for an apple. As they appear through the door to berrate the poet they're startled to find her under the covers and she proceeds to introduce herself by demonstrating her knowledge of them before offering them a bite from her forbidden fruit. Nothing much happens here. Its actually about giving Chaucer's character texture -- that he's not just a wideboy but also a committed husband. Its a Whedonesque surprise designed to create a re-appraisal of his character. There is also a great last line: "They seem much more fun than those boring old pilgrims you hung out with last year..."

The justification given in the filmmaker's commentary is that it appeared just before the grand finale joust in London and slowed up the momentum of the film. I would argue though that it might have increased the emotion of an already heady conclusion because we would have seen what all these people are working for, and also why Chaucer, who according to this film is the most charismatic man alive doesn't have hundreds of women following him around.
TV Ian Jones from 'Off The Telly' describes the process of producing his new book 'Morning Glory':
"The ensuing interview, conducted within (Greg) Dyke's sparsely furnished huge office, didn't get off to the best of starts when an opening gambit asking after the nature of his views on breakfast telly before he joined TV-am elicited the snap response: "Never thought about it. I had no views." This, while Dyke was wandering around his room, moving random bits of paper about, and looking pained. Once he'd sat down, though, his answers instantly became far more engaging, and to the point. "We were penniless," he recalled of TV-am, "it was a bankrupt organisation. If I'd understood what trading insolvently meant, that's what we were doing."
On a completely unrelated topic, did anyone see the seminal episode of Have I Got News For You tonight? If you missed it I'd recommend you catch the repeat. An unrepentant Robert Kilroy-Silk made Paul Merton so angry that at one point I thought he was seriously going to thump him. Only he could make fury look so effortlessly amusing.
Life To some extent I've shut myself off from the news. It's not because I don't care or that I'm not interested. It's just that I feel lost -- as though there is so much I need to know before having the merest hint of an understanding of what is happening in the world. There is also the issue of trust -- I know I'm not getting the full story and that what information I am receiving is being packaged to some degree to make it 'interesting' without it being totally accurate. A version of the truth depending upon who is saying it. Which is why independent journalists can be so important, pushing the unheard of or unknown or off message through the cracks in the media wall. Brazillian photographer's Anderson Schneider portfolio of work essaying Iraq a year after the last war shows images of things which I hadn't seen or heard about in the times I've listen to PM on Radio 4 or the BBC News as they talk about politicians and big decisions. This portfolio considers the daily lives of the people. I for some reason the fact that I couldn't find anything to buy in the Virgin Megastore sale today seems totally unimportant. [Thanks to James Longley for the link]

Lucy gasped, her body falling forward. I grabbed her hand, steadying her.
Who we hated now.
I ran.
I banged on his door. It opened.
Mark grimaced. I looked over his shoulder, to the table. Her ex-boyfriend passed the inhaler to me.
I smiled.
I ran.
Moments Lucy was breathing again.

[Apparently I wrote this last June. I have no idea why. I don't know what it means. The things you find on your hard disk.]
Life At about the time I started my A-Levels at school an acute tiredness decended. It wasn't narcolepsy -- I didn't fall asleep standing up, but I'd feel tired throughout the day hankering for bedtime. It's something I felt right throughout my university years and somewhere I forgot how it felt to be awake -- fully awake. To the point that if I was awake at all, ever I probably didn't know -- was it just a case of feeling less sleepy or something else. It's a feeling which hasn't left me since. I know that its ironic that I'm writing this paragraph on a weblog with this title, but truly the two are not connected. The point I'm hankering for is -- is anyone out there actually awake -- or does everyone work their way through the day in a general state of tiredness with moments of clarity? Is it the shock of the new? And how come I feel this way even if like this week I'm up at 6 in the morning after 6 hours sleep or on a normal week when I get seven or eight?
H2G2 Douglas Adams always said that his screenplay for the film would be the same story as elsewhere but feature scenes which didn't appear or were only hinted at. At Martin Freeman's website, we find that the first scene being filmed is the party at which Arthur meets Trillian. It was apparently the audition scene, which means there was dialogue and means for the first time we'll get to see the earthman completely fail to get off with her. I just hope the immortal line has been kept so I can hear Sam Rockwell saying: "Hey babe, why don't you come up with me? I'm from another planet...." [from here]
TV The BBC viewer complaints findings are always good for a laugh. Not in a chocolate ice-cream down the front of a white t-shirt way, but it does give an idea of what the British public will moan about if given the chance. For example, I wonder how this meeting went between Radio One bosses and one of their top DJs:
Sara Cox
BBC Radio 1, 10 February 2004

The complaint
A listener complained that Sara Cox had endorsed the support for Senator Kerry’s bid for the US presidency expressed by Chris Martin of Coldplay at the previous night’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

In unscripted comments intended to express enthusiasm for a British success in the Grammy Awards, Sara Cox went beyond reporting Chris Martin’s remarks and in effect endorsed them.

Further action
The management of Radio 1 reminded Sara Cox of the importance of maintaining due impartiality on controversial matters.
Which should possibly have read...
Further action
The management of Radio 1 asked Sara Cox to get a personality transplant.
Elsewhere we see them in a rather sensitive position...
BBC News (10pm)
BBC One, 12 November 2003

The complaint
In introducing a piece on the bombing of an Italian base in Iraq, the newsreader said the attack had been carried out by “those still loyal to Saddam Hussein”. A viewer complained that there was no basis for this statement.

In fact, the affiliations of those who carried out the attack were unknown (as the report itself went on to say).

Further action
Programme teams have been reminded of the need for accuracy in reporting the complex situation in Iraq.
Understatement. And finally an example of what happens when you don't read those pesky emails you keep harranging viewers for before you put it out on air:
BBC One, 9 November 2003

The complaint
Two viewers complained that an invitation to suggest names for the new baby of the Earl and Countess of Wessex had attracted inappropriate and hurtful messages which should not have been broadcast.

Most of the suggestions for names were serious, and those which were more light-hearted were innocuous. But the suggestion that the baby be named 'Leech' and a subsequent message suggesting a connection between her premature birth and the controversy surrounding Prince Charles were inappropriate in such a context, and at a time when there was concern about the well-being of the baby.

Further action
The Editor of Breakfast reminded the programme team of the particular issues of taste which arise in relation to stories about the Royal Family and children.
See also repeated complaints about Only Fools And Horses which fail to be about how its not funny any more...
Film James Gunn wrote the Scooby-Doo which according the title of the magazine makes him a Movie Maker. Here he talks about the process of creation:
"I knew there was a strong possibility of a sequel--it's one of the key reasons I didn't have Scooby beheaded at the end of Scooby-Doo 1. But, yeah, Scooby 2 was easier than Scooby 1 in every way. I went into it being extremely familiar with the cast, the director, the producers, their strengths and weaknesses. I also knew what worked in the first film and what didn't. Scooby-Doo 2 and Tromeo & Juliet have been my two best creative and professional experiences thus far, primarily because my roles went beyond those of a typical screenwriter, and I was involved in every step of the process. Also, the casts and crews of both films are among some of my best friends today. "
Seems like a nice chap actually. So what happened?
Fashion It's the weblog stand-by ... pictures of cats. But its not the felines themselves which is the issue, but what they're wearing. Even more disturbing. There are actual people. Alive. Who think its a really cute thing to do. Something really do needed to be translated by The Babel Fish:
"Large burst of laughter you are not wrong, super - it does with appearance of lovely chick transformation set! ! With felt cloth of yellow and orange two-tone, very the pop it is finished in impression. The feather of the chick which wears the point and has been attached to both sides of the thing. Please try looking at the profile which the cat wears! The extent which is blown out unintentionally, ??? the ? ? to be hugely, is, because - ? wearing ones, you can install also the muffler where ?? of the chick is attached, with the magic tape, installation and removal is the can tongue!
Rather like photos from a war zone, these are images which will stay with me for the rest of my life. [Thanks a lot Paul.]
TV [The following review contains moments of total jabbering incoherence. You have been warned.]

Firefly. Where do I begin. There are times, now and then, when something new arrives, be it music, painting, scientific discovery, film or tv which just makes me take a step back (metaphoric or otherwise) and go - 'Ooooh!' Something is so good, so in-tune, that it sucks me in and creates an indefinable something which is impossible to put into words without sounding like either a pretentious idiot or a yabbering nutcase. Without a doubt it is one of the best pieces of television ever created and the heartbreaking thing is no one but a few interested souls have seen it. This should have been as important a step in tv terms as The X-Files, or before that Hill Street Blues. Instead it was cancelled before anyone got a chance to see it.

Over the last couple of days I've tried to describe the series to people. It's a western set in the future with spaceships and horses. They swear all the way through it but in Chinese. One of the main characters is a Shepherd or holy man and another is a Companion or prostitute. It's about a group of interplanetary traders trying to make their way. And there are no aliens. No sound in space. And funny in a Douglas Adams / The Simpsons way and in places better than Star Wars. It sounds ridiculous and the blank faces I've been getting are heartbreaking.

Basically its impossible for me to review it. I feel like I'm too close, unable to express rational thought. I can't see its failings. No its only failing is that it strives to be utterly original in the face of overwhelming banality. At no point does it do anything if it can't be done interestingly. For example, the afformentioned Shepherd somehow has a genius knowledge of weapons and vehicles. Being a Companion is a legal and respectable trade. The comedy relief pilot is married to the amazonian second in command but he can be utterly serious when need be and she can be a laugh riot. And time after time you'll think an episode is about one thing and it'll be turned on its head and it'll actually be about something else even more extra-ordinary. That cack like Andromeda continues and this does explains why the world is still run by the children of morons.

It's not often I will recommend something unconditionally, but here I am. Just buy it. Its 25 pounds at Amazon on DVD, and Tesco have got it in store for 30. It's a bargain. If you like sci-fi - buy it. If you like Buffy or Angel buy it. If you like comedy adventure - buy it. If you simply want to take a chance to see something extra-ordinary - buy it. Think of it as an investment. Even though by the end you'll be a wreck because you won't understand why something so right could only last for so few episodes, and you want to know what happens next, you'll be heartened to know a film is coming next year, which hopefully answer some of the questions. So think of it as an investment, so that when all of your friends are talking about it you can smugly say you were there first. Or if you want to be a real friend invite them along now for the ride.

[For a more studied and coherent review look here. The conclusion says everything I have in a neater fashion:
"The fact that Firefly was made at all is a cause for celebration. The fact that the show was cancelled is something to mourn, a tragic waste of an excellent cast, sharp writing and fascinating possibilities. At least we have these disks to remember the show by, complemented by extras that demonstrate the passion and commitment that went into the show. Buy, fall in love, but beware that, come the end of the last episode, your heart will be broken.
As the Mutant Enemy logo monster says: "Grr arrg"]
Plug! My friend Fani Polyzoi is looking for employment in the UK, something in languages, translation. Her native language is Greek but she's studied Classics a lot. Her CV can be looked at here in Microsoft Word format.