the familiar font.

Film The poster for Woody's latest has appeared. Movieline has a far larger version:

Other than the retro Polish silhouette styling (would it be this way if Nicole Kidman had still been in the cast?) the most striking element is the prominence it gives to the name of the director. As I've noted previously, for the past few years, Woody's name has only appeared in the credit line at the bottom as though to hide his participation, the only hint being the familiar font.  Now here it is right below the title.

The List:
45. Photograph printed in the local newspaper.

Clearly, I'm the only person in Liverpool to turn to this page and not look straight at the man in the Batman costume. I haven't seen the back of my head for a few months, and now it's been photographed twice in the same week by somebody else and mores to the point on the second occasion printed in the local newspaper. I'm the one in the white t-shirt. As you can see I had my hair cut in the intervening days.

45. Photograph printed in the local newspaper.

look again

Film Another Inception interview, this time with costume designer Jeffrey Kurland. You've seen the film by now haven't you?
"COF: How much does costume reflect the inner machinations of the plot, particularly in a film such as Inception? For example, Cobb’s children are wearing the same clothes at the end of the story as they are in his dream ‘memory’ throughout the film. Is there something to be interpreted here?

JK: Costume design reflects greatly on the movement of the plot, most significantly through character development. Character development is at the forefront of costume design. The characters move the story along and with the director and the actor the costume designer helps to set the film’s emotional tone in a visual way. In a more physical sense the costumes’ style and color help to keep the story on track, keeping a check on time and place.

On to the second part of your question, the children’s clothing is different in the final scene… look again ...
And with that millions of internet theorists suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Not me. The "evidence" throughout the rest of the film is too weighted in a particular direction.

"without giving too much away"

TV More Sherlock coverage, Den of Geek interviews co-creator Mark Gatiss, reveals why the pilot was reshot (veiled suggestion it was #guyritchiesfault) and why the short series:
"We hadn't plotted six episodes. We had some vague ideas of where we'd go. So, it's not like we had to [change] the entire thing. It's about upping the scale of the threat. But without giving too much away, what we'd like to do if we get some more is tackle some of the favourite stuff. And what that would mean, if we could, would be to start then making it feel like our version. So, if anybody was to say you're doing Moriarty too quickly, it's really about not deferring your pleasures, you know? Why wait for season five?"

it may become rather big.

Elsewhere Ever wanting to increase my media empire like some benign Rupert Murdoch, I've been trying to decide how create a useful twitter feed for The Hamlet Weblog that wasn't simply Hamlet related news that would just as well be served through posting on the actual blog.

After much thought (well I am on holiday) my brainwave was to use the machinery behind @liverpoolblogs to create a similar list of blogs and news websites related to Shakespeare, in the full knowledge that since this is a global exercise it may become rather big.

So now there's a @shakespearelogs which some of you may find useful and now actually seems to be working after a few early teething problems.  I'm also keeping a list of the collected feeds on an extra column at The Hamlet Weblog which now also has a slightly clunky "featuring Shakespeare Blogs" subheading.

Just so that this post has some actual content, the word "machine" for all of its post-industrial connotation was original popularised by Shakespeare. It's in the letter that Hamlet sends Ophelia which is subsequently read to Claudius and Gertrude as proof that the man is mad:
"'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers;
I have not art to reckon my groans: but that
I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu.
'Thine evermore most dear lady, whilst
this machine is to him, HAMLET.'"
"Machine" in this context means the bodily functions, the mechanism by which a human being moves about. Though obviously there might be a sexual connotation. There usually is.

I cried

Music I cried when listening to this last Saturday night. I cried again watching it just now. It's the crack in Dench's voice, a rare moment when she allows her age to show.

I might only be thirty-five, but at the moment I feel ancient.

Review: Ignite Liverpool 3

Liverpool Life Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking (assuming boring someone’s ear off about some or film other doesn’t count), I didn’t take up the invitation to speak at last night's Ignite 3 event at Liverpool’s Static Gallery, which is just as well since, with only five minutes to fill and the need to time the presentation to the shuffling of Power Point slides every fifteen seconds I would suspect I’d get a bit lost. There is a skill to speaking passionately about a subject you’re passionate about to the point and without repetition or deviation and seemingly naturally which I’ve never quite mastered (confirming that boring someone’s ear off about some film or other really doesn’t count).

Taking place in the concrete basement of a small warehouse, this Ignite had the atmosphere of a 60s gathering, albeit without a waft of fuddy cigarette smoke and someone throwing up in the corner. Certainly describing the event to a taxi driver on my way into town (I was running late) I did manage to make it sound like the oddest of group behaviours, him only really being convinced when I said “It’s an internet thing” as though that explains everything. In hindsight what I could have suggested is that it’s a kind of verbal blogging, and indeed sifting through short pieces about disparate subject was rather like navigating the news feeds in Google Reader. An internet thing.

The majority of the talks were (perhaps correctly given the title of the event) designed to inspire. Mandy Philips followed Danny Wallace’s lead via the Jim Carey film The Yes Men and decided to say yes to everything for a year which led to her running the first Liverpool Twestival, the gathering which surely led to all of these subsequent events and reignited a cheekiness in her that we should all learn from. David Bartlett described his house renovation and how he needed to learn new skills to survive. Ella Wredenfors's talk about cannibalism was just as inspiring in its own way, not in terms of the best way to cook up human flesh, but the obsession to solve the mystery of what happened to the arctic explorer Sir John Franklin Story and his men.

But there was also a huge sense of fun. Alex Nolan’s system’s failure approach to Batman’s villains was delivered in full costume, the Adam West model perhaps to underscore the irony of his own surname in relation to the dark knight. Rosie Harris’s warnings about the dangers of homicidal cows was possibly the funniest of the evening through some clever timing and brilliantly pitched slides sending up the nature of the irrelevant guff that usually appears as bullet points. The vast range of topics is on their website. The actual talks will also be uploaded very soon. But just for now, here’s Deena Denaro’s entertaining Nokia Subvertisement created to criticise a competition that the company was running about social conscience (despite its actions in Iran) that inadvertantly found itself being selected …

See also: Alistair Houghton's coverage of the event which has actual quotes.

"hardly ever with their meeting scene intact."

TV Probably the best, certainly the most comprehensive review I've seen of the BBC's new Sherlock is this escapade from Dave Rolinson which offers close comparison with a range of previous screen versions noting one of its more valuable attributes:
"A Study in Scarlet was the first Holmes story written and published, and through Watson’s prose we experience Holmes and his methods through their first meeting – however, despite being the subject of the first full-length Holmes adaptation in 1914, it is rarely adapted, and hardly ever with their meeting scene intact. It was written quickly during March and April 1886, but Doyle found the story difficult to sell, and it eventually appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in December 1887. Although it and its follow-up The Sign of Four were successful, it was the episodic short stories in the Strand, illustrated by Sidney Paget, that cemented Holmes as a household name and form the basis of many adaptations."
Serial characters rarely inspire faithful adaptations. When Casino Royale was originally suggested as a Bond reboot, for a brief moment it was going to be a period piece recreating the details of Fleming's original novel with the rest of the franchise flowing from that. Then, unfortunately, the producers appear to have seen the Bourne series, and we've seen the results.

Kevin Kline on his Hamlet, other characters

In being interviewed about his new film The Extra Man, in which he offers us his aging playwright, Kline talks to Movieline about his attitude to theatre acting, straying inevitably ...
Can an actor have his or her work stolen?
Sure, but I think it’s a compliment. It’s emulation. I saw Hamlet once, and I thought, “This guy saw our production, because he’s stolen… not acting things, but certain costume things, certain period things. I guess I wouldn’t say “stole.” Maybe “borrowed.” I did a production of Hamlet that was quasi-modern dress. Why? The budget. Because if we did it in Elizabethan garb it would have been cheesy Elizabethan costumes. Better to get good versions of a more contemporary [style]. And also because Shakespeare, when he did it, he did it on a bare stage — which is how I directed it — and he used contemporary clothes. Little pieces of this and that might suggest a period. Olivier did Hamlet the film in black and white. Why? Because he was having a row with Technicolor. In retrospect, though, we say “Black and white! That’s the only way to do Shakespeare. Black and white is not real.” Shakespeare’s not real! People don’t talk like that! It’s not natural! But as I say, when you’re doing those parts, it’s what works for you.


You will have noticed, if you read the blog through the page rather than RSS feed, that I've changed the layout slightly to accommodate a new experiment.

One of my other projects is Liverpool Blogs, an attempt to collection together a list of all the blogs in my home city with a connected twitter feed.

Shakespeare Blogs is an attempt to do the same for Shakespeare weblogs and news websites. If you aren't listed, please do email at the address to the right.

The experiment also has its own twitter feed which should automatically update whenever something new is posted to one of these website which can be followed @shakespearelogs.

Why @shakespearelogs? Because twitter wouldn't allow the extra 'b'. Not enough characters.

Then I turned around, and they were all wearing eyepatches ...

The List:
34. Attend a private view in a storm

Last Friday night I attended the private view for the photographers of Fab Collective's new exhibition at the roofless St Luke's Church, Having a do. As ever the imagery is of an extraordinarily high quality and gains extra atmosphere in this unusual setting. The Daily Post has a good preview which includes some of the photos on display.

As you can see from the photo, the party also happened in the middle of a rain storm, which accounts for why you can't really see Pete's photo in this now traditional shot of me and him gazing at his work. We couldn't quite decide how to stand under his umbrella. Time to knock another experience off the list:

34. Attend a private view in a storm

"Talk about an omen!"

TV I haven't seen this linked anywhere else, so here's Katherine Jenkins blogging about winning the role in Doctor Who:
"As I’m sure you will have heard by now, I’m set to be in the Doctor Who Christmas Special! I’ve never acted before in my life so was really nervous at the audition. I was absolutely blown away when I was told I had got the job! Talk about the icing on my 30th birthday cake! The weird thing was that after my audition, and during my birthday stay at the manor house, I bumped into Dr Who aka Matt Smith, he was staying at the same place as me. Talk about an omen! Since getting the job I’ve been so busy filming but it’s been an incredible learning experience and such an honour to be part of something so iconic. I’m absolutely sworn to secrecy and can’t give anything away about my character, but I will say I look great in a Dalek costume, hahaha. You’re in for a treat this Christmas!"
Key piece of information: she had to audition so she's isn't necessarily doing it just because she's Katherine Jenkins but because she might have a bit of acting talent. Good for her.
About I've updated that ever popular IMAX review with some extra content, an email from some who contacted Odeon about their disappointment. I've posted it as is since the cinema chain's response tells its own story, especially about IMAX not being about screen size and the audience experience differing depending upon where someone is sitting in the auditorium.

this blog's ninth birthday

About Last week, on the 29th July in fact, was this blog's ninth birthday. As we've discussed before, if blogs have something akin to dog years, six is retirement age, nine is one foot in the grave. That I'm not planning on stopping any time obviously means that the blog years comparison doesn't quite work, but it does offer some indication as to the longevity of feeling listless. Few blogs have carried on this long.

Popularity has ebbed and flowed with quality, I think. I still don't really know how many people read the blog. Sometimes it feels like there's only a couple of you, and sometimes I'll be in the middle of a party which is unrelated to anything online and someone will tell me they know the blog without me prompting them, which suggests thousands. I expect it's somewhere in between. Not that these things are important. Not at all.

But yes, rest assured that I'll still be here for the turn of the decade, gaia or whoever willing.  I have mad egotistical plans on how to mark it (the kind of mad egotistical plans which require at least six month's planning)  which I'll reveal over the next six months.  In the meantime, if I don't know you and you do read this blog, why not say hello and comment below? 

when digital channels slide off air

TV It's quite comforting to know that when digital channels slide off air as BBC Parliament did last night at around midnight, that the only recourse for filling in is some text created on a BBC Micro superimposed over the shot from an analogue camera plonked on top of (I think) television centre.

It's like one of those nightmarish messages for Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes. If you watched for long enough, a tube train passed through somewhere in the foreground.
Liverpool Life One of the best FARK link lines ever. The comments are also magical.

"Twitter’s over capacity"

Music Entertaining interview with Paloma Faith at PopJustice. That's entertaining with a slight hint of danger (if can believe it):
"You’re saying that but I call your attention to Exhibit A: a photograph of you on stage at Glastonbury almost being lifted off the stage by two massive helium balloons. That doesn’t scream modesty. That screams “LOOK AT ME”. It screams “LOOK AT ME I’M THE ONE WITH TWO MASSIVE BALLOONS ON MY BACK”.
But I think anybody who’s a musician who pretends they’re all downbeat and stuff, they’re all desperate for attention. Any musician who tells you that they don’t like the attention is CHATTING A LOAD OF SHIT. The difference is, I’m honest about it. And yes I will buy two four metre by four metre helium balloons to prove that point.

Do you know what that balloons thing at Glastonbury looked like? You know when Twitter’s over capacity and it’s got the fail whale being lifted by the birds?
I don’t have that problem on Twitter.
Apart from some of the music, what's not to like about Paloma Faith?

Blessed live and unleashed.

Music Brian Blessed to adlib between songs at opera concert where he's meeting the performers for the first time:
"Those early memories are why Blessed is particularly looking forward to returning to the resort tomorrow. He has agreed to host the inaugural gala of Scarborough's new open air theatre, introducing Dame Kiri te Kanawa and José Carreras and providing a little padding between the music. He has looked at the programme, scribbled down a few notes, but he is not one for scripts and those lucky to have tickets will be treated to Blessed live and unleashed.

"Any chance I have to get back to Yorkshire my heart rejoices," he says. "Truly, it is the centre of the Earth to me. The merest glimpse of the moors makes me feel alive and breathing in the sea air lifts the spirit.

"I have never met Dame Kiri or José Carreras, so that will be a treat and when I think of hearing the Huddersfield Choral Society together with the Orchestra of Opera North, I am in heaven. It will be absolutely fabulous."
Fantastic interview overall. He's a classically trained opera singer himself and was coached by the real Pavarotti when he sang Nessum Dorma on Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes. There's an image (and noise probably) worth savouring.

"retains the window"

Comics David Bordwell investigates the mise-en-scene of Hergé's Tin Tin comics as he would a film and finds some strong similarities:
"The massive balloon at the top of the first frame in this series obliges Hergé to push his figures quite low, but he compensates by letting them lean on the bottom edge as if it were the desktop. (Hergé likewise often makes his characters stand directly on the frameline.) The first panel retains the window frame. The second, another over-the-shoulder shot but even tighter than the first, introduces the shutters in a prominent position behind Zloty. These shutters prime the third frame. They now anchor a crucial action: the Fakir is lurking outside those shutters."
The only other comic strip I've seen studied in this way is Watchmen and I'd be interested to know if the average comic book could be opened up to this kind of scrutiny. Presumably since many artists are influenced by film (as Bordwell suggests here about Hergé) many of the same rules would apply.

"a complete wreck"

Film Lucy Punch this to say of the morning that she discovered she was replacing Nicole Kidman in Woody's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger:
"I got a phone call the next day and I was completely delirious, a complete maniac. I was screaming. Within half an hour I had locked myself out of my apartment in my semi pajamas and I was a complete wreck, but I didn’t even care because I was so happy. I went to see my manager and he said we should go somewhere and have champagne and celebrate but he was like, you look awful so we can’t go anywhere. I was in flip flops and half pajamas. I hadn’t worked in a year and I got really close, and I had been on hold for stuff that had fallen through, so it made it even more special."
Lucy Punch's life is like a Raymond Allen sitcom. Betty. Can't wait.

a beetroot stain

Life Having just inflicted a beetroot stain on a new white t-shirt, I was pleased to find this page at the Channel 4 website, proving that the channel is still good for something other than Misfits and The IT Crowd. As well as reminding us to use cold water so as not to stick the stain, it suggests:
"If you’re not able to strip off (maybe you’re dining out?) then ask for a little liquid detergent and dab it on with warm water. Another idea is to take a piece of white bread and dampen it with water, then place it over the beetroot stain to soak it up. Rinse when you get the chance, then wash in the machine as normal. If the clothing can’t be washed, hot foot it to the dry cleaners a soon as possible."
This together with the next suggestion "a good scrub" and the stains have gone. Just to show that not all beetroot stains are evil beetroot stains, this anarchy website suggests that in some situations staining a t-shirt on purpose can be quite fashionable.

Jude Law interviewed about his Hamlet in new book.

New from Nick Hern Books is "Shakespeare on Stage: Thirteen Leading Actors in Thirteen Key Roles" by Julian Curry, a collection of interviews.

As well as the "establishment" actors you'd expect (Dench, McKellan, Jacobi, Pigott-Smith, Stewart and Mirren) there are a couple of wildcards.

According to the Amazon blurb, "Kevin Spacey (brings) an American perspective to playing Richard II" and the Hamlet is Jude Law.

Law did offer some publicity for his Donmar Warehouse appearance, this Telegraph interview being typical, but as is the way with these things, they were full of generalities, not much about the specific choices made, conscious not to give too much away.  

Having missed the production, I'm very keen to hear about those things, so Curry's book, which the blurb says "is a mini masterclass in playing that role, aimed at other actors, students of Shakespeare, and audiences of the plays" sounds like it will very useful.

What did Law think of his work in hindsight?

"Shakespeare on Stage" is published on 19th August 2010.

Hapi-D in India.

To Kolkata in India, where Fourth Bell Theatres are staging a spoof, Hapi-D:
"Hapi-D is a meta-theatre. It’s sort of like a comedy of errors, based on a group who attempts to enact Hamlet, which is one of the most well recognised tragedies by Shakespeare” Fourth Bell actress and member Debleena Tripathi told IBNS.

The group said the play is about seven odd people of an ambiguous theatre group who are caught unawares by an unwelcome audience as the star-cast is either too shy to act or busy playing carom.

58. Royston Farrell

TV Someone extracts the michael out of British names for a change in the form of BBC crew members. Inevitably, some Doctor Who writers/producers make the list:
" 59. Nicholas Hawtrey

58. Royston Farrell

57. Prentis Hancock

56. Terrance Dicks

55. Nigel Humphreys

54. Mervyn Pinfield"
The criteria isn't entirely clear -- Jemima Rooper and Celestia Fox are included but not Fenella Woolgar (or Benedict Cumberbatch for that matter), but I think we can quite happily add this to the list of things which are #worththelicensefee.

Meanwhile, the Executive Vice President and Chairman, EMEA, APAC and the Americas of Sun Microsystems is Crawford Beveridge. And he's Scottish, so it counts.