"An archaeologist"

TV Right, stop whatever you're doing for ten minutes and watch this. It's the animated prequel to the next audio series of Doctor Who spin-off Professor Bernice Summerfield. And I'd make it full screen:

Some back story for the uninitiated: created by new series writer Paul Cornell (Father's Day, Human Nature) and voiced by Lisa Bowerman, Summerfield's adventures began in the pages of the original Doctor Who novels published in the late 90s when the was "terminally" off air (she was the companion in the original novel version of Human Nature), and was a companion of the Seventh (McCoy) Doctor. After splitting with the character she continued in her own series of books which then transferred to audio drama cd for the Big Finish company and were instrumental in getting them to the license to produce original stories featuring the classic Doctors.

The audio adventures for Bernice have run for over ten years; I haven't heard most of them, but the style is rather closer to the British comic book tradition, very 2000 AD. An archaeologist, she's somewhat an forerunner to River Song though she's only rarely been reunited with the Doctor and always seemingly in the right order. She's shifted away from her day job in recent years and this short film is an attempt to draw her back in that direction, smartly referencing Lara Croft to a degree and producing the kind of chase which couldn't be accomplished as well in audio. Smart.

Her nemesis it seems is now Irving Braxiatel, her one time boss, owner of private museum, the Braxiatel Collection (mentioned briefly in the classic series Paris set story City of Death). Brax is a timelord and loomed large in the spin-off Whoniverse having been a major character in both the Bernice plays and the Gallifrey series (about Romana II's presidency) oscillating between malevolence and benevolence and is voiced by Miles Richardson, Ian's son (and sounds exactly like his father when he's playing the older version). Oh and he's the Doctor's brother. Best mention that too.


Music Jewel Kilcher and Sarah Palin. The secret "history".

I still have that poetry book.

a direct translation from the original Swedish

Film On to the Swedish film sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire. Leaving aside the sexual content which some viewers might still find disturbing, with the exception of one particularly titillating scene, here's what I thought went right, or at least what I thought directly after watching it this afternoon:

#1: Naomi Rapace who plays "goth" computer hacker Lisbeth is still a star in the making and this film is probably more entertaining because it’s her story right the way through, even if that story is a Swedish version of The Fugitive. The sense of danger which accompanies her presence in most scenes raises the film beyond its more obvious tv origins. As the revelations about Lisbeth’s past tumble out, it makes her performance across the two films even more impressive since it was all implicit in performance in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

#2: The title makes better sense this time (because it’s a direct translation from the original Swedish) and there’s a scene were we can see the visceral nature of fire as the camera lingers on a blaze, it’s given the symbolic importance that a director like Vincent Ward or C├ędric Klapisch would be pleased with. Of course, in a crime thriller such symbolism recedes in importance, but this is a “film” which is happier in its own skin as a noir b-movie (useful coincidences and emphatic intercutting included) unlike the first piece which took material which seemed better suited to this style and approached it like, well, a truly evil Midsummer Murders.

#3: It’s just the right length as a "film" and it's less obvious as to where the extra material had been cut out for the running time. The shift from the first to the second episode of the original television version is less obvious and my guess is that what we have here is the lions share of the second with much of the time spent by a young journalist in researching his article and the police side of an investigation were both casualties. It also ends rather abruptly in a nice 70s manner, which suggests it has lost a wrap up scene.

#4: It's much better structured at least in terms of character. By keeping the two leads apart for the whole film, it makes each of them seem as prominent as the other, though obviously Blomkvist spends most of his time filling in back story and explaining some of Lisbeth’s actions so actually on this occasion Lisbeth keeps most of her narrative agency. The Empire Strikes Back looms large for various reasons. It also just about passes The Bechdel Test unless there’s a special sub-clause rooted in the queer theory branch of film studies.

#5: It's better structured its story development, with most information hard fought for and with a sense of peril. Over and over again when the investigation reaches a stand-still, Lisbeth mostly leaves the comfort of cyberspace and has to physically follow the trail of information geographically. It shares plenty of elements with the Sandra Bullock headliner The Net, though Lisbeth is far more pro-active in hitting against the force that done wrong her.

#6: It’ll be interesting to see how the film translates as a US remake, since it’s difficult to see Daniel Craig spending quite so much time sitting around looking at files and chatting with witnesses. I can see at least one character whose participation will be reduced to give Craig one decent action sequence since that’s what the audience will be expecting; the Swedish versions are still generally perceived to be art house, whereas the US version is very much a Hollywood genre production.

I appreciate that this is another lazy list and not some fully formed film criticism, but unlike Philip French who as ever manages to spoil the first three quarters of the run time in the space of a paragraph (and mention EM Forster), I’ve decided that it’s the kind of work which needs to be experienced with as little foreknowledge as possible. I’ve probably given too much away already. Reading through the comments and reviews elsewhere, there’s as wide a spectrum of opinion for this as Inception from the very kind to the downright hostile. Though the praise for Naomi Rapace is pretty universal.

The next film is out in November followed presumably by another blu-ray. After that, the smart marketing idea would be for a release of the longer Swedish Millenium television series with English subtitles either for broadcast on BBC Four or the home market or both. Certainly they’re the version I’ll be waiting for, to see if the lesions in narrative of the first film are explained and what the extra hours runtime in the second is filled with. Like the six-hour version of Das Boot, the two can exist separately; but I suspect that once I’ve seen the longer version, these cinema editions will seem less important somehow.

you still had to visit a shop

Music Following on from the news of the downing of Blockbuster USA, here's something I really didn't know. At some point in the early nineties they attempted the Spotify model of music distribution, though rather than having unlimited music on your desktop, you still had to visit a shop:
"In 1992, the suits at Blockbuster Inc. realized music was another viable form of entertainment people liked to spend money on. Thus, they bought up two already existing retail music chains—Sound Warehouse and Music Plus—and founded Blockbuster Music. The gimmick at Blockbuster Music was you could listen to any album in the store before you bought it. Actually, the way I remember it, you could listen to every album in the store if you had the time, even if you didn’t buy squat. Each BM location had a lengthy bar set up in the outlet’s center; you picked out one or three or eight CDs, brought them up to the sullen teenage employee “tending” the bar, plopped your ass on a stool, put on the headphones, and let the collected works of John Fogerty or any given Sparks bootleg wash over you like so much warm gin. There were no predetermined time limits, you weren’t really pressured to buy what you were listening to (at least I never was), and the space was large enough to comfortably accommodate plenty of greasy music nerds with questionable hygiene.
Unsurprisingly the chain was sold off not long afterwards. People weren't buying the music as well.

"what YouTube was originally set up for"

Memes 0 Views: The Best of the Bottom of the Barrel is tumblr blog which collects together videos with zero or next to no views. It should be horrible, but instead demonstrates the fleeting and random nature of web fame and that anyone could be Paul "Yosemite Bear" Vasquez or like, whoever.

It's also a reminder of what YouTube was originally set up for, which contrary to popular belief wasn't watching Orm & Cheep at one o'clock in the morning but to allow ordinary people to upload slithers of their lives, or the version of their lives they want the world to see.

Clips like this:

Of course, once they've been posted on 0 Views their non-obscurity is assured [via].

"you know this Dr Pam, I don't know too much about her"

Showbiz I'm not really a fan of these kinds of stories, but I am a fan of misunderstandings. The Guardian reports that Katie Price pulled out of an interview with Dr Pamela Connelly at the Edinburgh Festival today. They don't add much detail as to why, but they don't really have after including the following three paragraphs in an interview with Price last Monday which was presumably the point of the interview last Monday given that The Guardian is sponsoring the event:
It is in this context, then, that she will give a live televised interview to Dr Pamela Stephenson Connolly at the Edinburgh television festival later this month. Connolly's Shrink Rap series of celebrity encounters are notionally psychotherapeutic, and more searching than the OK! interviews with which Price is more familiar, so I'm curious to know why she has agreed to it. But it transpires that Price is under the impression that her interviewer will be someone else altogether – an agony aunt called Dr Pam from a commercial radio station.

"Now, you know this Dr Pam, I don't know too much about her, did she used to do Heart? Was she the agony aunt from that? She's got long blond hair? Yeah, I used to listen to her on Heart, she's got an American accent? Yeah I used to like listening to her, she was quite reasonable." I ask if she has laid down any advance parameters or rules for the encounter.

"No, I never do that, never," she says flatly. "I don't mind anyone asking me any questions, I've got nothing to hide. I like it to be as real as it is, that's what I call an interview. I'm not someone who's like right, you can't ask this, that, this, that, this, that. It's got to be a real interview. I've literally got nothing to hide. You can ask any question you like."
Oh dear. Was it after the interview? When the interview was published? Or was it when she reached Edinburgh? At what point did Katie change her mind and will we see it in an ITV2 documentary?