On the sheet

Caffeine If only all coffee shops were this cool. Mugshots in Philadelphia have an 'on the sheet' dinner and a movie deal were they show classic films and tv on a screen in the place -- over September they've a My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks festival. That's like so, like amazing ... or something.

Not my hero

TV "Yikes! It felt like there wasn't an outline, like the writers simply jumped from joke to joke, from scene to scene, without a sense of telling a coherent story. Imagine a chain, zigging or zagging with every link -- that's what the structure felt like. What were the writers saying about environmentalism, the force of public opinion, or the loyalty and support of a spouse? These were all touched on -- picked up, held into the light, and then put back down as the chain linked off in a new direction." -- Jane Espenson (us tv writer of Buffy, Firefly and The Gilmore Girls) discovers My Hero.


Music PopJustice has some pertinant things to say about the not actually defunct Top of the Pops (Top of the Pops 2 is returning and will feature live acts which is pretty much the format that the mothershipshow had).


TV I know it was a fortnight ago, but I can't believe I missed this incident. Richard & Judy had a piece about blogging and invited Dave Gorman, Emily Bell and Petite Anglais. And of course because it was about blogging we can read what they thought of the experience...

Bob? Not you too Bob.

TV "The sound of Huw Edwards grappling with the responsibility of delivering one of the most absurd speeches in the history of Doctor Who ("Not you too, Bob! ... It's not just about hope, it's about love! ... They've reappeared!") confirmed that the historic practice of the newsreader cameo is alive, if not necessarily kicking, in 2006." -- Ian Jones goes cameo spotting.

Or to quote the end of the speech from Fear Her, because I never get tired of hearing it:

"I suppose it's much more than a torch now. It's a beacon. It's a beacon of hope and fortitude and courage. And it's a beacon of love."

Here is the best speech in old Doctor Who. Let's see how they compare. To set the scene, The Doctor has just landed on a massive Ark in Space (see what they did there?) filled with frozen people waiting to head off into the stars. Tom Baker's walking amonst them waving his arms around.

"Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only been a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenseless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable... indomitable."

Not really the same is it? Oh well. Perhaps I'm just cranky this evening. Huw's been doing a lot of News 24 duty lately (that's the channel that always features in DW) which I can only assume is the BBC's attempt to make all of Doctor Who totally canonical, what with the appearance of BBC3 and all. Expect David Tennant to be lighting the Olympic flame come 2012 just to be certain.

Back on topic, but Working Title's film Wimbledon is chock full of DJ cameos, particularly Danny Baker a man who can adlib for hours yet still manages to sound just slightly wrong when handed a script with some plot details to read ...


Metafilter Single best post ever. Really. It's the kind of writing so good that could end the site. Based on this I think.

Fair's fair

Books In the afternoon I went to the book fair at St. Anne's Square in Manchester City Centre. Around twenty stalls from small publishers. Given that I literally have about a hundred books still to read I hadn't intended to buy anything, but then I noticed a small hardback book describing the history of theatre in Buxton, which because it is such a specific topic will probably be fascinating. I also bumped into one of Fani's old university friends and somehow managed to end up chatting to him about my dissertation. Of course he mentioned a film I hadn't thought of that would have proved one of my contentions after its finished and waiting to be bound. Of course he did. As I was passing into the cinema to see Betty Page afterwards I noticed a poster on the wall for new Australian film Look Both Ways which has a magazine quote that says something like 'Magnolia mixed with Crash and Six Feet Under'. So it's a hyperlink film then? Good job I mentioned it in my appendix...

There and back again.

Life The university have been randomly sending me literature about using their computer based self service registration system next year, which is odd and a concern because now that today I've put my dissertation in for binding, I was under the impresion that my course was over and my second academic career was coming to an end.

Even as I was printing the thing out I spotted the odd mistake that I had to go back and repair even having previously proofread it, on the screen, printed out and upside down. My hands shook as I handed it in over the hatch in the library and payed the binding charge, with questions flying through my brain -- what if I've missed something, made some major error, got the pagination wrong, how much will I be penalised because I've put a comma instead of a full stop in the bibliography?

Not much more I can do now, except to wander what I'm going to do next. Because I'm the kind of person who hasn't learned to multi-task very well, I've been concentrating on my dissertation over the summer and little else and now I'm at the abyss looking downwards. It's funny how it's ten years since I graduated last time and here I am again. I know it isn't quite the same because I have all those years of experience in a range of different jobs and I'm sure that there's a job out there that can take advantage of all my talents. Does the BFI run a call centre were people can call asking for on the spot film reviews?

Thought not.


Film Gretchen Mol is one those actresses that buzzes around Hollywood doing good work in supporting roles without actually catching fire. For years Empire Magazine has included her in their 'Next Big Thing' photo shoots and she appears on film posters standing next to everyone from Matt Damon to Rachel Weisz as they head off into the stratosphere. In a recent interview she said she was happy just to find one or two good roles a year. Hopefully The Notorious Bettie Page will be her star maker and she'll find much more than that. It's a plum role (if you pardon the expression) and she plays with great expression and passion, and importantly, naturalism.

The film takes a quasi-biographical approach to the subject, supplying enough back story for audiences to understand that the pre-modelling Betty Page was wronged by men -- her father, her husband, random strangers -- but falls short of saying that this was the rational for her profession. From there the plot focuses on the most important moments of her career and the gentle slip from fairly tame cover shots, to nudity to bondage carefully mapping out the impression that as far as Page was concerned they were just jobs -- it was the rest of the world that saw them as distinct and separate worlds expressing the dark corners of man's desires.

Although Mol's is a towering and compelling performance, she's ably helped by an impressive guest cast that includes the ever dependable Lili Taylor as a photographer and David Strathairn as the judge presiding over the case of whether images of Page are obscene in a part that almost feels like the evil twin brother of Ed Morrow. The film is chock full of underated actors who like Mol have been appearing in films and television for years without really getting the nod; Joss Whedon favourite Jonathan M. Woodward (he was the man with the message in the Firefly episode The Message), John Cullum, who played Holling in Northern Exposure, and Sarah Paulson familiar from American Gothic and Deadwood are all in there in larger and smaller roles, providing the perfect landscape to Paige's story.

Perhaps for budgetary reasons, director Mary Harron follows George Clooney's lead from Good Night and Good Luck in presenting the story in quite simple terms, much of it appearing in crisp black and white. Contemporary establishing stock footage is intercut with interior shots, emphasising the artificial, but not with the kitschiness that could so easily have unbalanced the film and sent it into camp territory. The expected montage sequences of Page on the page also cut back on men buying the magazines furtively and instead emphasise the beauty and lustre of the photography. The first infusion of colour is during one such montage in its breathtaking. Colour in the film seems to be expressing Paige's inner self, only bursting forth when she's not being contrained by outside forces. Was Paige really unaware of the effects that he photographs were having on men? The infusion of spirituality near the climax suggests that she did, but cleverly the film is careful not to make an argument either way. It's really up to the audience to decide, but the evidence is all here to make a constructive argument either way.


Photography Amazing picture, just magical. "Today, if it is clear, Manhattan will flood dramatically with sunlight just as the Sun sets precisely on the centerline of every street. Usually, the tall buildings that line the gridded streets of New York City's tallest borough will hide the setting Sun. This effect makes Manhattan a type of modern Stonehenge, although only aligned to about 30 degrees east of north." [via]


Travel With the end of university already, I've booked a day in London for no reason other than because it was only £16.50 return with my railcard, which seems especially cheap. I have no plans on what I'll be doing with the day since none of the major galleries seem to have an exhibition I'd like to see and The Globe's play for that day is A Comedy of Errors which is something I've never been in love with.

Can anyone recommend any really excellent attractions that are off the beaten track that are worth visiting? I saw most of the South Bank when I went on a meander this time last year, but I'm sure there's something I missed. Theatre or cinema related would be a plus.

Of course I could just buy a copy of Time Out.


About Time for the half-yearly delurking post. If you've just started reading recently it would be nice if you could say hello and if you're in the mood answer the following questions...

(1) Who the hell are you?
(2) How did you find me?
(3) What do you like about the blog?

Thanks for reading ...

Been there before where that look lands.

About A bizarre case of writer's block precludes a decent review of Almodovar's Volver tonight, so I thought I'd treat you to the following which I'd completely forgotten about until three days ago when it was found at the back of a drawer. Time was once that I would write poetry and I somehow manage to hammer out a bit of verse about once a year.

About nine years ago, age of twenty-one, I was on holiday at a caravan site in Wales and wierdly there was a day trip to Ireland, including the peaceful village of Avoka (site of the filming of BBC's Ballykissangel) and Dublin were we got to spend two hours at the end of the day shopping whilst during closing time. We visited one of those Irish pubs that largely do tourist business and this led me to writing the following. It's true in the way that Mel Brooks often says his stories are.
That Way

One final drink before I go,
A stout I order - out it flows,
I turned around - and there you were
Your long black hair and that stare.

The barman smiles, he understands,
Been there before where that look lands.
I, however, feel like crying -
I've not long left, you think I'm buying.

I take a gulp, I cannot look,
The signs are there, but I want to duck
Away, behind the bar somewhere,
I shut my eyes, to block your dare.

I drink again, I feel you close,
A drenching perfumed overdose,
Your lace is warm against my shoulder,
I'll remember that when I get older.

'Hello', you say, in Irish whisper,
Your cigarette lit with a Vesta.
For a fragile second, you're like a singer
Unreal thought, but I let it linger.

You don't reply, and keep on smiling
As you press on, walking past.
My head turns with you, I start frowning
I'm filled with envy - I've faded fast.

Of course he's everything I'm not,
His long blonde hair and such a fop.
No good for you, I've little doubt,
But that's what love is all about.

He cups your ear and whispers lightly,
You cock your head smiling brightly.
You kiss him hard, so passionate,
It isn't me, but that's your fate.

You don't turn back, no more looks,
Reach to my pocket for a book.
Offers more hope than reality.
If dreams came true, were would we be?
Chock full of mixed messages. Is the line 'Been there before were that look lands' implying that this apparition has slept with everyone in the pub including the barman or that he's been sleeping with her boyfriend? I like that the rhythm and rhyming couplets are distrupted when 'I' realise that she's not interested in me after all. But the final (hey what the hell) stanza doesn't really work.

Next week, it you're particularly unlucky I'll treat you to my schoolboy attempt at iambic pentameter ...

Met them?

Blog! Inevitably I'm going to link to Radio Four's Meet The Bloggers which began this week by interviewing Annie Mole and Anna Pickard. There's something really rather disconcerting about hearing someone whose blog you've been reading for what feels like centuries talking about that vocation and saying many of the things you'd say yourself. Anna even spends a couple of minutes talking through something like The Rules. At least I've now got the voices that I should be hearing when I read her blogposts.

Sincere attempts

Film "They were sincere attempts. I think Kafka was a failure. King of the Hill. The Underneath is a failure. I should have done that very differently. I've made movies since then that don't work for people -- there are a lot of people that don't like Full Frontal, don't like Bubble. But I feel like I got what I was after with those films, I understood what I was trying to do. They succeeded on their own terms. But the earlier films, I just hadn't hit the next level yet." -- Steven Soderbergh doesn't rate much of his career. I think that means I really am the only person in the world people who honestly thinks he hasn't made a bad film. I thought there were two of us. [via]


Film The problem with Snakes On A Plane is that its fundamentally audience sensitive. Its probably best seen at midnight with an irony savvy audience; there needs to be laughter during the unintentionally funny moments, laughter during the intentionally funny moments and cheering when Samuel L Jackson says the infamous line about not wanted to see any more cobras. If, as I did, you're watching it at the crappiest of multiplexes, with about ten teenagers who seem more interested in talking to their 'mates' on their 'mobys' than enjoying the filmic experience, what you're left with is quite an average action adventure film that can't decide whether it wants to be a creature feature, a disaster or blaxploitation film, that looks a bit cheap in places that wishes it was good enough to be a B picture. I can't imagine what it would be like watching it on dvd at home.

Actually I'm hoping that the dvd release features this cut and the version that was constructed before the internets began their work. I'd love to know exactly what has been added to the film and taken away - for example whether the actual snakes were set up in much greater detail in the version of the film where the actual threat wasn't so apparent in the title. One of the subplot I'm certain was jettisoned is the antagonistic status of air hostess Tiffany who seems to play most of her scenes in a fairly shifty way as though she's a plant for the bad guy - trying to entice the witness downstairs and 'accidentally' releasing the snakes into the compartment. In fact in places pre-publicity actually filled in plot details that weren?t apparent in the actual film.

The snakes are sporadically good, but the green POV shots are less thrilling than they should be. Samuel L Jackson is good value (as always) and Julianna Margulies gives a better performance than the film probably deserves. The rest of the cast is a who's who of almost familiar faces, particularly Rachel Blanchard who played Cher in the tv version of the film Clueless (and UK?s own Peep Show). But none of this can draw away from the fact that it's a Frankstein's monster of a picture constructed from the corpse of a different film. Watch as characters appear from nowhere just to get killed! Be thrilled as characters change their personality from shot to shot! Guffaw at the wild changes in tone! Glare as you realise which bits of footage came from the most publicized week of reshoots in film history!

What a disappointment.


Shakespeare "It has now been slightly over 24 hours since Big Damn Histories kicked off, and I am halfway through 1 Henry VI."

I've been meaning to post this since June. For her birthday weekend, Lea decided to watch a cycle of Shakespeare's Historicals using the 80s BBC productions. In one sitting. And blog the effects. The final tally probably tells most of the story:

Hours of sleep: 13.5
Total running time of marathon: 49.5 hours

As does the fact that I have to link to it like this...

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four

Hardcore. Favourite comments:

"I think I sorta have a random crush on Bernard Hill, even though he has funny hair in this and he's playing a character with serious anger-management issues (he's the Duke of York)."

"When staging battle scenes, it is always nice to have the action occur within the frame rather than entirely on either side of it."

"I have just one thing to say about this production, and that is: how on earth did they manage to stretch out Henry V so that it is 37 hours long?"

Scene Unseen:

Uexpected Visitors

Tony Scott's Enemy of the State is one of the few action films of the late 90s that has improved with age. Whilst some of the chase scenes look a bit tired, all of the performances are brilliantly entertaining from a dream cast, and the themes regarding surveillance and just how much privacy a human being is allowed in the modern world has turned out to be quite prescient. Watching chapter three of the dvd in particular will make you shudder though as lawyer Robert Dean's wife Carla harangues the television during a fictional episode of Larry King Live in which a Congressman Sam Albert is talking about the Privacy Bill at the centre of the film.
Baby .. listen to this fascist gas bag?

Uh oh.
Then we hear on the television ?
Congressman Sam Albert:
Freedom always existed in a very precarious balance. When buildings start blowing up, people's priorities start to change.

He's got a point there sweety.


I mean who is this idiot?

He is talking about ending personal privacy. Do you want your phone tapped?

I'm not planning on blowing up the country.

(sarcastic) Well how do we know until we've heard all your dirty little secrets?

You're just gonna have to trust me.

Oh I know, we'll just tap the criminals. We won't suspend the rights of the good citizens.


Then who decides which is which?

I think you should.

Y'know Bobby, you should take this more seriously.

Honey, I think you're taking it seriously enough for the both of us. And half the people on the block.
Back to the TV ...
Congressman Sam Albert:
Tens of millions of foreign nationals living within our borders and many of these people consider the united states their enemy and they see acts of terrorism as ...

Carla and Bobby's arguments seem to mirror the general view of the subject throughout the world now - some of us saying that we should really watch out because surveillance is beginning to control out lives whereas some simply don't seem to care too much and just want to get on with our lives (just as Bobby keeps blending). The Congressman introduces a further interest that surveillance is necessary to catch the terrorists who (and remember this was 1998) are living in our borders, hate us and want to blow up our buildings. Enemy of the State is filled with these, what were then thematic mcguffins, now political hot potatoes, in a script that I would argue simply could not been written or made in the post 9/11 Hollywood. Now that I've used the single figure-slash-double figure, here it is again on Jon Voight's character Thomas Reynolds's photo id. It's his date of birth.


Lonely One

Film/TV/Whatever All I'm to say on the lonelygirl15 thing is -- if she was wired enough to be using YouTube, wouldn't she be aware of the phenomena that has built up around her and have mentioned it on one of the videos? As in "I'm not fake" etc? If it is viral marketing and they were really, really clever, shouldn't they have created a new film that does just that? If it is the work of indie filmmakers wouldn't it be more potent if we knew it was a work of fiction, that way we could enjoy it using suspension of disbelief rather than status of denial?


Life "I cannot admit when I need help." I actually wrote something yesterday which I really meant to post but after thinking about it for two minutes decided not to. It may appear, but really I have to think about it some more because of the implications. Which is a tease I know, but it's not the content, but the tone. What it means rather than what it says. In the meantime, this girl encapsulates some of the things I want to say. Which is lucky. For me at least.

I've just been for walk around the park and literally saw the weather change from being quite pleasant really to so cold that jogs were stopped to a stroll and were actually slower than I am. A family were feeding the fowl at the lake and some of the geese were up on the bank literally ripping the bread from their hands. One or two of them trotted up towards me and glared at me, as though I was invading their space because I had the affrontary not to have food. I kept walking. One of them had shifty eyes.

Whose struggle?

Books "I've got nothing against the Jews. My last wife was a Jew." You just know this conversation isn't going to go well...

Repetition of the word award

TV Good lord, Kelly MacDonald can now have Emmy Award Winning slapped before her name in trailers -- for The Girl In The Cafe, the Richard Curtis drama about a G8 summit that was broadcast around the time of the real G8 summit. This must have been real 'the British are coming' kind of ceremony with the excellent Elizabeth I doing a mini-sweep too. Only in America though would The Daily Show be considered Variety, and would one award show give another award show an award ...

Ophelia (1851-1852) by John Everett Millais

Detailed mini-site from Tate Britain about the painting. Included fun quiz about the painting of the fictional suicide.

The Perfect 10.

TV The Empty Child & The Doctor Dances wins Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by James Hawes. Wikipedia entry lists the competition and here is the vote breakdown. Seems to have been a close run thing with Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus. [via]

Update: On his blog, Paul Cornell describes picking up the award on behalf of Steven Moffat.


Blog! Emily Dubberley has updated her blog:
"And yes, I admit it, since I've moved to Brighton I've been selfishly 'having a life' with lots of new Brighton lovely people, and horribly neglecting London mates (sorry). But Brighton is fun and new and nice and there's beaches and barbecues and dogs to walk and beer. And all of those things are good."
It's almost like bumping into a long lost acquantance in the street. What have you been up to? Really? Listen, I've got to dash off now but can I get your new number? We should have lunch some time and catch up properly...