so hidden far into the mix

Music Yes, I know but look this is outrageous -- through the magic of YouTube we can hear what a difference a voice makes. Sugababes's next single About A Girl, firstly in its Keisha vintage (with an erroneous shot of Mutya), then the hasty Jade Ewan rerecord. Note that after reading the Siobhan interview I have generally lost interest, so this is just a scientific study:

Leaving aside that it's like trying to find strawberries in a plate of offal, I do think you can hear a quality in Keisha's voice which is missing from the other vocalists, but it's so hidden far into the mix you do have to listen a couple of times to notice. Which is good for the record company because they can say that there's continuity despite the replacement shuffle.

Except it's also indicative of how wayward the project is now. The reason the original original line-up worked so well is because it was three amazing, unusual, distinctive vocals which somehow blended together. To be honest, vocally, if About A Girl didn't have Sugababes plastered all over it you wouldn't be able to say which group had recorded it.

Liverpool music scene

Liverpool Life The Guardian has a short report about the Liverpool music scene.


About I've simplified the about list in the sidebar to the blog and added a feedburner counter (the number of people reading via RSS) which at time of writing says 164.


Hello everybody.

dvd cover for the RSC production

The thrillingly evocative dvd cover for the RSC production has been released:

I love this. Usually it's Hamlet and the skull (see top right for what I was expecting) or the washed out face of the actor. This cuts straight to one of the symbolic heart of the play, the fracturing of Hamlet's personality and how he has to split himself into pieces in order to survive (the irony being that it doesn't work). Plus, look at that certificate. I'm hoping for a particularly bloody duel at the end.

The DVD is now available for pre-order direct from the RSC.

the long night I’ve spent in Liverpool

Life Many is the long night I’ve spent in Liverpool, but last night was The Long Night (part of the Abandon Normal Devices festival) with dozens of arts venues across the city holding open their doors until late in the evening. It’s a fantastic idea, though with so much happening in such a short span, you’re always missing something and if you’re like me and don’t like to miss anything if can leave you in a bit of a daze or even worse looking like the Roman god Janus with a migraine. I think I might even have contracted a touch of Whitworths, that rare condition which leads me to insensibility during art gallery visits though as you'll read the fact that my sense were constantly assaulted didn't help. Stumbling about from venue to venue I think I somehow managing during the course of the night to give Robin the impression that I’m only really interested in free alcohol (I hardly ever drink) and mash part of somebody’s artwork (again I have to press the point, I hardly ever drink).

First stop The Walker and their new Bridget Riley show, Flashback. Riley is one of those artists whose work I admire without necessarily being a fan. This is artwork created using a set of principles, an initial idea taken through to fruition without deviation or improvisation. That takes some mental discipline and I do like the idea of Bridget Riley working doggedly in her studio against established expectations to create these geometric shapes, static images often filled with movement, but find them very hard to look at. It certainly was last night, her seminal Movement In Squares which looks like a chessboard being pulled into a singularity, making me feel like the primal William Hurt in Altered States. At least this show offers a variety of her work, from the cataract inducing Cataract series through to her signature Ecclesia, showing that she’s just as much about wavy lines as vertical lines of colour and that she’s still pursuing an ideal of colour representation even in her later work.

The Empire Theatre were offering tours, Natalie from the education department weaving a history of the building around an explanation of how, as a receiving venue, it manages to present such a variety of touring productions from Opera to Webber. The tour included fascinatingly complex explanation of the lighting system by the crew and some of the stage craft involved in modifying each show for the venue, noting that set designers aren’t always clued up on the need for flexibility, which explains why some productions can look a bit crushed or spare depending upon the size of the stage. Once again my perceptions were bent by this visually deceptive space. From the middle of the stalls the stage looks very large, but in fact the performance area is foreshortened, the space the actors have to move about far less than you’d expect. Plus the auditorium is actually partially underground, explaining why an audience of a couple of thousand can fit into an edifice which simply doesn’t look large enough from the outside. Insert Tardis related cliché here.

At the Bluecoat is Under The Volcano, a group show responding to the work of Wirral born artist Malcolm Lowry. I will need to return to take a proper look, but my highlights so far are a room containing Cian Quale’s black and white home movie footage of the Isle of Man ferry unfolding from a human activated projector which brought back memories of a similar crossing I took as a child and Julian Cooper has three paintings from his Under The Volcano series illustrating scenes from Lowry’s semi-autobiographical novel. Local artists were selling their work in the courtyard outside. I bought a card featuring a rather fine line drawing of the Palm House in Sefton Park from Lianne Mellor, who I’ve promised to mention again when her website is up and running.

By now, I was flagging. Flagging so much in fact that I didn’t fancy the stairs within the exhibition space, but then couldn’t initially work the lift, whose control panel is about the most complicated that I’ve seen. It’s so complicated that they’ve actually included extra instructions on what to press:

Yes, I took photographs. Eventually I realised that you need to press button 2 to reach the “first” floor and button 4 to reach the “second” floor (and obviously G for ground). It’s to do with the vagaries of the building’s design – there is in fact a proper first and third floor, only accessible from the other end of the building, which this lift doesn’t stop at. They’re invisible here. It seems to me that it would be a lot less hassle (at least for the weary traveller) to simply replace the numbers on the buttons 2 and 4 with 1 and 2. It might not be architecturally accurate but it saves having to take the Krypton Factor mental challenge just to go up.

It’s at the Old Barbershop, at my old barbers in fact, next door, which is now The Lost Soul and Stranger Service Station that my foot inflicted the blow on the artwork, a paper design across the concrete floor which was partnered by a canvas piece on the wall. I stepped closer to scrutinise its geometric lines, didn’t look and down, and oh dear. The artist, Bernadette, was very gracious and not as cross as I might have been. We had a rather surprising discussion when I said her work reminded me of some of the works in Working With Nature: Traditional Thought in Contemporary Art from Korea which was at Tate Liverpool in 1992 (and I credit with developing my artist awareness which led me to getting my A-Level which meant I got to go to university first time around and well, everything in life is connected) and she said that she’s already had a very similar conversation with someone else. I’m still a vandal though.

Thence briefly to the Open Eye Gallery and their new exhibition from Duane Hopkins, Sunday. This features a series of videos of a disaffected youngster in various levels of repose, on a roundabout, looking into space, bored, who is then reflected across to the other side of the screen to create a mirror image sometimes interacting with himself, with each figure apparently in a time loop suggesting that there’s no escape from the existence they’re slotted into. Combined with the atonal music which permeates the space, despite the technicolour images it’s an especially melancholic piece and was difficult to spend too much time with. I’d imagine it’s a particularly difficult show to supervise the aural and visual assault difficult to take for too long, especially in the necessarily darkened space. But the intensity is important. It rattles the sense so that the visitor pays attention to what they’re seeing placing them right in the moment. As a filmmaker, Hopkins is aware of the tricks of the trade, how suture bonds the viewer to the image for the greatest effect.

The sensory overload continued in the Media Lounge at FACT which has been transformed into an epilepsy inducing three dimensional zoetrope in which what looks like tiny plastic Michael Jacksons dance before your very eyes. It’s the kind of surprising work with has been FACT’s hallmark during its twenty year history. Last night was the birthday party and though I missed the main thrust of the party, I did manage to grab a glass of champagne, and a cake from FACT’s Stuart who I met at the Twestival the other week. Outside in Arthouse Square is KMA's Stranger Attractors. Intelligent light is projected on the pavement which we can interact with creating new shapes which are then video projected onto the wall of FACT making us active participants in the artwork. At the end of the night as groggily I watched dancers spinning about the beams showing the pedestrians how its done (accompanied by a saxophonist), I decided that it been just the right kind of night, one there should be more of, that I should have even more of, a long night in Liverpool.

horrendously miscast

Film It has been remarked that the finale of this summer's sci-fi spectacular Torchwood: Children of Earth was replete with Hitchcock references, not least in scene where Gwen and Rhys were helping the children to escape their estate and take refuge in the barn, which if you added a mass of feathers and squawking you have a pretty good recreation of the scene in The Birds when the schoolkids are running for their lives. Of all the films in Hitchcock’s canon, this is the one which seems to have been borrowed from most extensively by other directors, from the heroes being trapped in a confined space and being menaced from the outside to the tonal impression of nature revenging itself against the human race for some unconscious crime – replace the gulls and ravens with zombies and you have a George Romero film. Contrary to her reputation, Tippi Hedron isn’t awful though she does bare a striking resemblance to Paris Hilton which if you’re in the wrong mood can make the scenes were city girl Melanie Daniels is being viciously pecked unintentionally funny.

No such fun with Marnie, which doesn’t work. In 1995, director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) made Miami Rhapsody, a film which seems designed to copy Woody Allen, from the titles to the shooting style to casting Mia Farrow in a lead role. It has none of Allen’s wit, gives Naomi Campbell an acting role and it’s a travesty that its deemed worthy of a dvd release when Ken Branagh’s rather more subtle homage, In The Bleak Midwinter remains deleted. Marnie gives the impression of being a similar attempt to create a Hitchcock film by a different director who doesn’t quite understand the director’s style (unlike, say, Paul Verhoven). The reasons are numerous; it’s too long, Hedron’s blank performance does nothing to engage our sympathy, Connery is horrendously miscast, it’s too long, the story about a confidence trickster who gets caught is predicated on too many coincidences which the director doesn’t justify well enough in thematic terms. And tossing out his rulebook on suspense, the director drops in a surprise at the conclusion which though surprising is also anticlimactic. Have I mentioned that it’s too long?

no-one forgives that first bully in their lives

Music More Sugababes coverage:

David Ottewell of the Manchester Evening News likens them to Theseus's ship, a more sophisticated version of Trigger's broom.

Mutya told Lorraine Kelly on GMTV: "I mean, it would be different if Keisha had stayed in it and someone else had gone - then it would be the Sugababes. But wow, I suppose now there's no original Sugababes we should just all reform again." (which is you can imagine is quote which has been picked up by a hundred other news sites).

Digital Spy suggests it really was a coup with Heidi filling in for Boris Yeltzin (presumably).

PopJustice notices that what constitutes the Sugababes right now are already making a video for the next single and wonder (quite rightly) how it's all gone so badly wrong.

Meanwhile, a week ago (or earlier) Siobhan gave this rather fabulous interview in which she spoke about the group post her:
"The band is so malleable. They are just three people that will be maneuvered by the people around them. That's why I can never look to their success and admire it or want that. Whatever producer they work with, they sound like. Whatever photographer they work with, they look like their work. I think that works for pop, but you can lose your soul in that. "Who are you?" "What do you write about?" How have they been on the scene for so long and people not know anything about them? That works as a product but that's never what I wanted. "
Then she talks rather movingly about the reasons she left and how Keisha "never wanted (her) in that band and made (her) life a living hell" and how "no-one forgives that first bully in their lives, do they? No-one does. Even when you’re fifty. Though, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter. You meet so many people in the world. Why would I need to reconcile with that person? I don’t even know if she would want to."

It's true, you never do forget your first bullies. Or most of the ones that follow, to be honest.

Siobhan then goes on to say lots of nice things about Mutya. And talks about recording new material. Chances of a reunion? 30%.

Enough, enough now. Unless something really outrageous happens.

panic, panic

Music In Song For Mutya, ex-Sugababe Mutya sang: "But don't react now, you can't go back now / Don't panic, panic, Muteeyaa, just look ahead now." Well, yes, unless someone asks for your opinion:
"[Jade] would be a lot better as a soloist," she told the BBC. "She's got an amazing voice." With the new Sugababes, Buena suggested, "it [will] kind of seem like [she's] the frontline, [with] two backing singers."
I wasn't old enough to enjoy the fallout from The Beatles, but this is become more entertainingly catty by the day. The audio for the Mutya interview is about ten minutes into this "bullet-in". Or should be ...

We await Siobhan's opinion with baited breath, I'm sure. I do hope she doesn't decide to rise above it all.

Doctor Who has no Gene Roddenberry-like figure.

TV Allyn Gibson explains the differences between Doctor Who and Star Trek fans:
"Doctor Who has no Gene Roddenberry-like figure. Yes, Who fans can talk about different producers and different script editors, but Star Trek is, somewhat inaccurately, seen as Roddenberry’s baby, and fandom has long assigned him credit for things he had little, if any, involvement in."
In some respects Trek is like Who in that various producers have had their own ideas as to the kinds of stories which should be told. But the field is far narrower -- Michael Piller's Next Generation, Ron Moore's DS9 and Jeri Taylor's Voyager aren't that different. Not as different as Williams's Who or Cartmel's Who.

I wonder if someone could define the differences between the fans of Girls Aloud and Sugababes.

Maybe not.

the undoubted ‘find’ of the visit

Museums Writing in Public Art Collection in North-West England, Edward Morris is very enamoured of Salford Museum and Art Gallery, since it was one of the first museums to be founded after the passing of the 1845 act which allowed councils to set up such institutions if their populations numbered more than ten thousand, beating both Birmingham and Manchester, though not Liverpool (of course). The gallery was also the first to be set up in park land, inhabiting Lark Hill Mansion in Peel Park and has since enjoyed a number of extensions with the Langworthy Wing ultimately making the available space far greater than most municipal museums of the time. It’s not the easiest of buildings to find. There’s no signage from Salford Crescent Railway Station which is more interested in telling University of Salford students were their lectures are. I went in completely the wrong direction to begin with.

The present building was one of the extensions in fact, the original sadly deemed “structurally unsound” by the twentieth century, which could account for why the display space for the permanent painting collection is mainly a single room, the Victorian Gallery (the rest of the museum filled with temporary exhibitions and “Lark Hill Place” a recreation of an old street). As ever, the collection is the result of a series of bequests and purchases with, as the title for the gallery suggests, the interest tilting towards close of the nineteenth century and until Lowry came along. Like many of these municipal collections it’s a mish-mash of styles and subjects, mixing local subjects and landscapes with the mythical and though there aren’t any ‘named’ works, there’s certainly some exceptional work here.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Peel Park on the 10th October 1851. Hundreds of people turned out to see them in a carnival-like atmosphere as illustrated by G.E.O Hayes’s Visit of The Queen and Prince Consort to Peel Park 10th October 1851 as close to photo journalist as painting can be. Painting journalism, then. What’s remarkable is that rather than showing the royals in close-up, he places us in the crowd; perhaps this was the spot from which the painter was sketching (unless he pissed off a lot of people by crushing his massive canvas in amongst them). We’re right in the middle of the action and just like a photograph, the crowds in the background are impressionistic and lose focus and there’s a genuinely feeling of movement throughout. It’s also a valuable glimpse of the area now that the land has been taken away and turned into the University of Salford.

Outside the Victorian Gallery, given its own display area is Arthur Perigal’s rather magnificent painting depicting the Manchester Fancy Dress Ball in 1828. The culmination of a Manchester Festival of Music in 1828, it features the portraits of some three hundred people who each paid a guinea to appear along with the three thousand odd other guests. Like a massive Peter Blake Beatles album cover, the scene is filled with hundreds of miniature representations of historical figures from Julius Caesar and Alexander to Queen Anne and the King of Hearts. Just as Hayes’s painting suggests photography, this is painting as collage; the accompanying text explains that Perigal only sparingly pre-prepared his composition, simply filling the foreground with the multitudes, presumable as they paid for their appearance. Which is a rather awesome leap of faith but does mean that only now than do the figures interact with each other. Except for in one corner where a love triangle between Oscar Wilde, Napoleon and a lady in green is developing.

Forbidden love also seems to the order of the day in Philip Calderon’s The Queen of the Tournament. A fairly standard courtly wench in a long flowing golden gown is conferring a knighthood on the bearded winner of said jousting contest Which should be perfectly innocent, except the ladies-in-waiting surrounding the scene are all gossiping with each other, their knowing looks suggesting that there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Like Waterhouse, Calderon was influenced by the pre-Raphaelites but would later move on to join the St John's Wood Clique which also included the likes of William Frederick (And When Did You Last See Your Father?) Yeames concentrating on historical and contemporary realist subjects. There’s no date with this painting but it does seem to be from a transitional period; such tournaments did take place and unlike the ethereal beauties of Waterhouse’s work, there’s a realism to these faces making them seem like there’s the same element of dress up seen in Perigal’s painting.

J.C. Dollman’s Famine (1908) is one of those works which, if you’re at the other end of the room, you have to see it first suggest to confirm what you’re seeing. A tall, skeletal being in a long grey cloak raises a bony hand to rally teaming army battalions of wolves and ravens across a ravaged land. Read that sentence again and reflect. About the scariest image I’ve seen inside a municipal art gallery, this looks a like the source of a hundred heavy metal album covers, the evil canine eyes illuminated by the significantly unpresented moon looking ready to leap from the canvas and create mayhem on the other paintings in the gallery. Such images were not unusual for Dollman as this image search demonstrates. I’ve no idea what’s going on with the woman trying to order the chimps about. Standing apart from every other painting in the collection, Famine is the undoubted ‘find’ of the visit. Edward suggests it’s “a useful corrective to the general view of late Victorian and Edwardian art as cosy, genial and complacent” and he’s absolutely correct and how cruel to display it so close to the structurally similar image of Victoria’s visit, somehow underscoring the pessimism which slowly gripped the nation during her long reign.

"Only I can lead you to safety."


"They have evolved." (snigger)
"There has been cylon civil war. A new and more lethal species of cylon has emerged."
"Only I can lead you to safety."
"You care for no one but your quest for power."
"I will not stand by and watching the human race bow down and be defeated.."

Didn't all of the dialogue in this turn up at some point during the Ron Moore remake? [via]

my lowly status

TV Jason Scott talks about what it's like to be on TV:
"There is a schedule. You see that you and your cat will be scheduled near Matt Damon. This is rather surprising. You look around for Matt Damon. The joke is on you, famous cat owner on TV, because Matt Damon’s interview was recorded several days ago and he is not here. Ha ha."
Despite my lowly status, I believe that people who read this blog have been on tv also. Corroboration please. Did you also fail to meet Matt Damon?

obituary for the Sugababes

Music Rather lovely obituary for the Sugababes:
"It is a rather miserable, undignified end to a band who fell together at school, made their name with a sophisticated pop sound and achieved what they did with a rare class. Pop which is invented in order to be a brand is often unpleasant. But Sugababes made pop whose values and attitudes were strong enough to inadvertently create a brand. Theirs was smart, British, soulful pop, occasionally arty but always melodic, lush and a cut above most of the rest."
I've read elsewhere that there was some discussion over royalties. But I'm also wondering if Keisha was fighting against the direction the group was taking and lost.

coin tosses

TV I've just received this audience request email. Not a joke:
Hello there!

We thought that you might be interested to know that tickets are now available for a brand new series in Manchester hosted by JLC himself! As with all of our shows, the tickets are FREE!

HEADS OR TAILS with Justin Lee Collins

Heads or Tails is a brand new prime-time game show hosted by Justin Lee Collins.

The game is based on contestants correctly calling the results of a series of 'Heads or Tails' coin flips to win a cash sum. On the way they can elicit the help and advice of relatives, friends and a celebrity guest as to what their call should be. The object is for the player to amass as much money and as many lives as they can into a prize fund that becomes the basis for a 'Double or Halve your Money' end game.

You, our audience, will be encouraged to actively support the player throughout.

If you would like to join us for this lively, fun show at Granada Studios, Manchester during October, then apply now!
Notice at no point does it call them coin tosses like everyone else in the galaxy. Wonder why.

How about Sugafree?

Music Regular reader will know that I've had an unecessary interest in the travails of the Sugababes. It seemed at the end of last week that Amelle was leaving with Eurovision's Jade Ewan taking her place, but finally today it was revealed that in fact Keisha is the one to attempt the solo career though it's looking like she was forced out:
"Although it was not my choice to leave, it's time to enter a new chapter in my life. I have nothing but positive things to say about the girls and I wish them the best of luck. I would like to state that there were no arguments, bullying or anything of the sort that led to this."
Which leaves the group without any of its original founding members, a curious state of affairs I'm sure you'll agree.

But here's the thing: I'm assuming Keisha is still contracted to the record company but if the solo career doesn't pan out, if they're happy enough to kick her from the Sugababes, they'll drop her like a stone. Mutya's solo career hasn't worked out that well (duet with George Michael on the album, I mean really) and (wait for it) Siobhan's last album Ghosts, the best you've never heard, was treated abominably and tanked also. Which would leave the original line-up to reform. If the All Saints or Spandau Ballet can get their act together for a last lap of the popverse what's to stop these three?

They'd just need to find a name. How about Sugafree?

Let's take a moment to remember them in happier times. On The Priory!

The sound is rotten but look -- possible first television appearance!

Updated! What happens to this now? Withdrawn and rerecorded? It'll be the Taller In Many Ways debarkle all over again, you mark my words. Expect a rerelease of Get Sexy in a matter of days.

sums up the differences

Social Networking This rather neat article from Uganda sums up the differences between Twitter and Facebook:
"I've also found that Twitter isn't something you can explain, and it's not something you can understand until you've used it for at least a few days. You have to use it to get it. I think that's because Twitter can be so many things to so many people. One person might use it as a marketing tool, another to stay in touch with friends, another to collaborate with co-workers, and still others to stay informed about their favourite Hollywood gossip, news and much more."
Pity it's anonymous.

Urgent Appeal.

The roof of Holy Trinity Church, the site of Shakespeare's tomb, is rotting. Work was being carried out in the rafters and masonry came away and nearly fell on visitors, of which I was one not too long ago:

Holy Trinity ChurchShakespeare's tomb at Holy Trinity ChurchShakespeare's memorial at Holy Trinity Church

£50,000 is required for repairs. They're having an appeal and I've already chipped in to save what feels as close as odds to being my parish church. Considering how much the bard has given me, seemed the decent thing to do to give him a structurally sound resting place.

They're having an appeal ...

Shakespeare The roof of Holy Trinity Church, the site of Shakespeare's tomb, is rotting. Work was being carried out in the rafters and masonry came away and nearly fell on visitors, of which I was one not too long ago:

Holy Trinity ChurchShakespeare's tomb at Holy Trinity ChurchShakespeare's memorial at Holy Trinity Church

£50,000 is required for repairs. They're having an appeal and I've already chipped in to save what feels as close as odds to being my parish church. Considering how much the bard has given me, seemed the decent thing to do to give him a structurally sound resting place.


TV Almost forgot. Also on Swing Vote:

Whose In It From Doctor Who?

John Debney conducted the music.

Also conducted the music on the TV Movie (with the Pertwee logo).

It’s all image not ideas these days, y’know?

Film Reading through the professional reviews of Joshua Michael Stern’s political satire Swing Vote, it’s fairly remarkable how little Frank Capra’s name is mentioned. I’d expected nearly every writer to have used the word Capresque somewhere, particularly since, if you’ve seen half of the director’s films (as they should have), you’d very clearly recognise the formula being deployed here of an everyman suddenly thrust into the position of mattering on a national scale and essaying how they cope when they’re being taken advantage of by those who’ve enjoyed the privileges they haven’t. It’s Meet John Doe, it’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, it’s Mr Smith Goes To Washington, it’s the populist hope that the ordinary bloke can still mean something, can make a difference.

Swing Vote’s ordinary bloke is deadbeat dad Kevin Costner (miscast in a role which would have been played by Adam Sandler five years ago), who through a narrative slight of hand becomes the only voter in the country who can decide the presidency (the circumstances through which this occurs go virtually unexplained at least on a national scale). He’s an independent, a disaffected voter who doesn’t care one way or other who leads the country, and the film largely concerns itself with the process the candidates go through in order to secure his support, the Washington circus pitching up outside his trailer as like Doe and Smith he goes on the j-word towards political awareness.

For a film about such big choices, it’s a shame that Stern and fellow screenwriter Jason Richman are unable to decide what their film should be. Is it a straight down the line bit of Capracorn or a knowing send-up? On the one hand, the scenes featuring Costner’s domestic life in which he’s largely taken care of by his hyperintelligent tweenie daughter are perfectly judged and have the ring of modern Capraeque master Gary Ross (Dave, Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) in their expression of the loss of innocence and the American dream. The daughter is played by the fabulous Madeline Carroll who steals most of her scenes including a rather good moment in which she faces down POTUS’s political advisor Stanley Tucci across a conference table.

Sadly the politico material looks like it’s drifted in from another film and unfortunately it’s more Wag The Dog or W than The American President or The West Wing. The intention seems to be to make both candidates look fairly stupid – Grammer is in full Frasier mode – and pliable as their respective political advisors Tucci and Nathan Lane lead them to toss out their ideological concerns in a desperate attempt to grab Costner’s vote. But none of this ever rings true and has an artificiality which undercuts whatever humour might be evident in seeing the Democrats making pro-choice ads or the Republicans supporting the environment.

And if all of that sounds a bit old hat anyway, it’s because it’s also the thematic underpinning of the great old 70s film The Candidate in which Robert Redford’s empty suit succeeded in swaying the electorate despite having few specific policies. It’s all image not ideas these days, y’know? Well, yes. Except that film and Capra’s work also took a polemical point of view (arguably on either side of the political divide) whereas Swing Vote is desperate not to choose. If Stern is attempting to show that there’s not much between the candidates as a way of demonstrating Costner’s independent perspective then he succeeds and manages not to alienate many audience members in the process. Hail the blanding out of modern filmmaking.

As the film grinds predictably onward and the circus absorbs Costner and his daughter’s life, it becomes clearer that the filmmakers aren’t interested in breaking from the Capra formula and just about every scene you’d expect to see is here, right down to the local reporter (Jean Arthur then, Paula Patton now) undergoing an ethical crisis and Costner’s big speech in which he demonstrates a hitherto unseen verbal dexterity. So closely is the template followed in fact that the final end is exactly how the great old director might have completed one of his films, on what seems like a moment of uncertainty. Except, nothing is uncertain in a Capra film, whereas once again in Swing Vote it looks as though the filmmakers have copped-out, saving themselves from making yet another choice.

No ... no, no, no, no,"

Film Small Wonders is a dvd compilation of short films, most of which deal with some kind of relationship. It has a fairly high strike rate but many would be spoilt if I said too much about them. The best is undoubtedly this entry, Nine 1/2 Minutes starring a pre-Who David Tennant and a post-Teachers Zoe Telford:

What's brilliant about this -- other than the premise -- is that it's willing to leave the whole story open to interpretation, leave it up to the audience to pick through the ambiguities. It's also worth watching a few times -- it has nuance and elements which only pay off on the second or third occasion which again isn't something a lot of these films have. Also, many times have we seen Tennant say "No ... no, no, no, no," like that in the past four years?

the little lost stepchild of literacy

Words National Punctuation Day. In the US. 24th September. The Pittsburgh Tribune has the story:
"For Jeff Rubin, spotting a punctuation error in a newspaper or book is like finding a fly in his soup. It renders the whole thing unfit for consumption. [...] "Punctuation is like the little lost stepchild of literacy," says Rubin, a former newspaper reporter living in Pinole, Calif.

It's a safe bet none of the world leaders meeting Thursday for the first day of the G-20 summit are aware that it's also National Punctuation Day. Rubin founded it in 2004 after he got fed up with seeing misplaced apostrophes and other transgressions by people who should know better — newspaper reporters and editors, book publishers and billboard advertisers. [...] "No one cares," he says. "That's my pet peeve, that a lot of people who are doing this don't care. Where's their pride? Where's their self-esteem? Where's their drive to get it right?"
The rest of the article has the tone of a religious debate. As is pointed out, language evolves and punctuation along with it. Not that there is any excuse for "dvd's" or "apple's".

lip services for "Sex, Lies"

Film A.O. Scott tries to confer auteur status on Steven Soderbergh ...
"There is a tension within “Solaris,” for example, between the austerity and abstraction of the European art-cinema tradition where its roots lie and the Hollywood genres of romantic melodrama and spaceship adventure toward which it is drawn. And there is an even deeper split within “Che” — between procedural rigor and political romanticism, or perhaps between the discipline of guerrilla filmmaking and the demands of the historical biopic."
... though despite lip services for "Sex, Lies" Scott totally ignores anything pre-Schizopolis. And Schizopolis for that matter.