"so battered"

Film Another film archive discovery story, which though not as tenuous or impossible as the Metropolis restoration, shows that the difference between an important film existing or not existing is a simple and strange as the number of prints in existence:
"Almost as quickly as it built a cult reputation, the film [Sara Driver's adaptation of a Paul Bowles short story] fell from view, the victim of a leak in a New Jersey warehouse that destroyed Ms. Driver’s negative. That left her with only one film-festival print so battered that it would barely run through a projector. When museums and art house theaters called over the years asking to show it, she would turn them down, not wanting the film to be seen in such bad shape."
Yet more hope that Marco Polo is still out there. Somewhere.

"an audio diary of his life"

History Art From Analog: 20 Years Of Voice Mail Makes A Movie:
"If there's one thing Mark Craig never did, it was hit "erase" on his answering machine. "When Craig got an answering machine in 1985, he wouldn't erase. He'd just replace the tape and throw the old one into a shoebox. Twenty years later, he had amassed hours and hours of what was, effectively, an audio diary of his life."
The resulting film is just twenty-three minutes but this has the potential to be a valuable social history archive.

"the local village car park in Devon"

Food Potato launched into space:
"The "spacechip" – named Spudnik2 – was then tied to a helium weather balloon with a camera attached and launched from the local village car park in Devon."
Then the Taterians, sensing one of their own was being tortured, sent a rescue mission/invasion force to earth and wiped out the human race.
Elsewhere I review this week's The Sarah Jane Adventures. That is all.

"Whimsical Short Films Unit"

TV The Apprentice production team's early experimentation with Dr Who soundtracks:
"Following on from last week’s shock melange ‘twixt The Apprentice and some incidental music from Dr Who story ‘Daleks in Manhattan’, TV Cream’s Whimsical Short Films Unit has been toiling hard on the predictable flight of fancy that is: Hey! What would have happened if the production team had used some music from old Dr Who on the show?!"
This is a work of genius, especially the second one. TV Cream has offered some utterly vintage work lately.

Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith.

TV Back in the distant past, in mid-October when I was still exactly in my mid-thirties, it seemed as though the production team were taking the brave step of writing out Luke and K9 in an effort to move away from the too easy deus ex machina style story conclusions which have tin-dogged the series from the start. Luke may have stuck around as a dismodied head and shoulders on a flatscreen, making fleeting appearances to justify his continued presence in the introduction ("Boy GEEENIUUUS"), but the stories since have arguably been more thrilling because, with one obvious exception, the remaining attic allies have needed to rely somewhat on their wits, putting the clues together without too many easy answers (even to the point of taking Mr Smith out of the equation for this or that reason) and a fair bit of trial and error.

Which makes me wonder whether Clay and Gareth, in crafting the conclusion to Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith and this season are being entirely serious when offering a solution that requires the combined effort of Luke, K9, Mr Smith and newbie electronic soap tray Mr White and a return to the worst excesses of previous stories: the kind of easy research leaps Lisbeth Salander would be proud of, action sequences lasting what seems like mere seconds piled one on top of another in which characters shift geographical area in moments and not always through teleportation and a villain that requires the emotional fallout from a fake global terror to be destroy. Epic concepts like Clyde trapped in the orbital golfball which would have been explored over whole episodes in the old Doctor Who (and did in the case of The Space Pirates) are ushered in and out all too soon.

As ever I was simultaneously elated and appalled, especially since the first episode is actually a quite sensitive (well sensitive for this panto) portrayal of Alzheimer’s or at least the stresses of watching a trusted friend or family member getting old. Who of us hasn’t forgotten something or witnessed someone else forgetting something really rather major like the current residency of their son and wondered – are we or they alright? Lis wonderfully demonstrated first the denial to friends, denial to oneself before acceptance and the decision on whether to fight or relent and let nature take its course.

Of course, in the real world none of this is brought about by a milfian temptress in a red sports car with matching couture. Like Samantha Bond and Suranne Jones before her, Julie Graham senses rightly or wrongly (it oscilates) that this isn’t the place for subtlety though she manages in the first episode to just about convince us that Ruby could be a potential replacement for Sarah Jane, cleverly approximating some of Lis’s business (the walk, the stance, the flick of the hair). By the cliffhanger, the needs of the show kick in of course and it's as though Kate O’Mara is in the room (not least because Ruby’s plan, to steal people’s life essences wasn’t a million miles away from the real Rani’s in her first adventure, if you squint).

Ultimately ranking about a seven on the Zaroff scale you still have to applaud the determination with which Graham sells the Katesh’s gastroschisis state and the boggle eyed notion of a stomach which exists outside an alien’s body, the writers sadly failing to have Clyde suggest it as useful alternative to a gastric band. What I would have liked to have seen would have been a proper battle of wills between Ruby and Sarah Jane the latter having already lost her wits before the former reached ascendancy. Would I be wrong in suggesting that the title character has been even less present this series, mostly falling into her old form of having to be rescued? In nearly ever story this year she seems to have been zapped or put through some sort of mental torture.

Which brings us back to doe in which I also expected the Doctor to arrive for good measure. Whilst its true that both Rani and Clyde also have a hand in the solution, there’s always something slightly unedifying about a character who’s previously had little input on a story charging and saving the day. Perhaps Luke’s still ill-advised scarf is meant to hide the chord which is being used to dangle him in like the original gods that would be brought in at the close of a Euripidian Greek tragedy. Aristotle hated this approach to drama and said so in Poetics where he proposed (radically for 335 BCE) that the resolution of the plot must always spring from the internal actions of the play, a model which has worked for much of the rest of the series.

Or as Hitchcock says, if you show a gun in the opening reel it has to have gone off by the end. What just about makes it saleable (other than the fact that Luke did at least put in an appearance in the first episode) is Tommy Knight’s burst of adolescent vitriol, his character bawling out Rani like a refugee from a John Osbourne play, as though what we’re actually seeing is the result of some whole other unseen narrative which is happening at Oxford, with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as the main villain (a tricky bugger once you’ve reached the middle section). When he later clumsily tells Rani that he loves her, it begins to seem almost exactly like my university experience.

But predictably amid all the shouting and running, the best scene is the quiet moment between Rani and her mum, in which Gita describes quite logically the jealousy of seeing her daughter palling about over the road with this second mother figure and the secret they clearly have between them, Mina Anwar perhaps suggesting, just as she did with the alternative version of the character in The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith that the feckles, flowery, “HELLO SARAH!” version of her character is an act or defence mechanism and that, eep, Gita might have hidden depths which is quite a contrast to Graham’s gurning from across the road. It’s this contrast which has, on the whole, made this series such a joy.

Next Time: I don't know. Time's caught up with us.

The List:
31. Given property advice by property expert Sarah Beeny.

Property Sarah Beeny gave a live chat to The Guardian earlier. I asked:

To which she replied:

31. Given property advice by property expert Sarah Beeny. (sort of)

"official organ"

Games I'd been considering buying a Nintendo Wii in order to play their new Doctor Who game but wanted to wait and see what a proper games magazine thought of it.  Enter Nintendo's official organ.
"Clearly made by people who hate games, sci-fi, and everything decent about humanity."
Oh. Oh well. That saves me a couple of hundred pounds then [via].

"Luke, Vader, Father, David and Prowse"

Film Another example for the file marked "If the internet existed in the 70s".

In 1977/78, David Prowse told a fanzine and later a local newspaper that Darth Vader was Luke's father two or three years before the release of The Empire Strikes Back a story which doesn't seem to have been picked up or carried outside of the relative readerships of those particular organs.

Now, this would have been all over the web within seconds, with Luke, Vader, Father, David and Prowse trending high on Twitter for days.

"I had a similar call the other day"

Justice Webologist receives one of those phone calls:
"Had another call today from a firm telling me that my computer was generating errors caused by malware, which was caused because my security warranty was out of date. I had a similar call the other day, and knowing it to be a scam I asked them which computer was causing a problem, and said that there were over 300 computers in my office and they could not all be faulty. The man that called hung up."
Well worth reading even if you think you're someone who is especially web-literate, if only so that you can help others watch out for the signs.

"for one night only"

Music What I especially love about this, other than Daniel Radcliffe bringing Tom Lehrer back to British television, for one night only, is that he obviously knows it through the same version as me, the Evening Wasted live album and has to stop himself from quoting Lehrer's jokes. "I hope you're all taking notes because there'll be a short quiz next period", "Can we have the next slide, please?" etc.

"these are forbidden words"

Film An entertainingly freewheeling interview with Christian Bale in Esquire during which the journo takes the actor to task for the format restrictions he's been handed:
ESQUIRE: Sometimes the ground needs to be prepared. And you've laid down these onerous rules on me — all I can do is a Q&A.

Actually, these are forbidden words that you are reading right now. Bale is in the habit of requesting that his media interviews be printed in a Q&A format. He also prefers to conduct them at the same five-star luxury hotel in Los Angeles, and makes it known that he dislikes personal questions.

BALE: You don't like that?

ESQUIRE: No! I don't like being told what to do.

BALE: I'll tell you why. Basically, it's somebody who got stuck having to interview me who really wants to be a novelist, so they're writing these novellas and I was like, "It's not true, that didn't happen, they just made all that up! Why don't they just go ahead and be a novelist instead of bothering with interviewing me?"

ESQUIRE: So you want to be perceived accurately, but you also don't want to give any details. You realize that those two things contradict each other.

BALE: No, it's simpler than that. I want to be able to just act and never do any interview, but I don't have the balls to stand up to the studio and say, "I'm never doing another interview in my life!" So I tip my hat and go, "Okay mister! All right mister! I'll go do the salesman job!"
Though Esquire attempts to turn his restriction against him, Bale does have point.  Sometimes interviews are more about the writer than the subject.  Jon Ronson's five minutes with Justin Bieber manages to get the balance just right.

Review 2010: Call For Entries: The Opinion Engine

Everything will be okay.

It's that time of year. Again.

Each December, as some of you will know, I try to write (or ask you to write) a series of posts grouped around a single theme or mode. Sometimes these are epic projects that cover the entire month, otherwise it's simply something to fill the days between Christmas and New Year.

This year I want to try to be epic. Again.

What I would like is for you to suggest topics for me to offer an opinion about.

Could be anything. Something cultural, a film, a book or some music. A current affairs story. A person. A concept. Even just a word.

You can be as specific as possible, phrase the suggestion as a question. Or simply a sentence or a title.

There are no restrictions although I reserve to the right not to use it or to ask you to come up with something else if I simply can't find the inspiration or feel as though I've covered it already somewhere in the past nine and half years of my blog. Unless I've changed my mind. I do that a lot.

Some readers will notice that this is a variation of what happened in Review 2006 though with slightly less restrictions. You could have a look at that if you're looking for ideas.

You will of course receive credit for your suggestion and links to your website/twitter account/anything you're trying to publicise.

I want to try and post something for every day in December so will have to start writing now so that I have something "banked".

You can contact me through the usual virtual channels:





names people have thought i am called (a complete list) (probably)

Life In approximate order:



Ian (a lot) (seriously, even when I've sent them an email signed with Stuart) (I mean I know I ostentatiously use my middle name on occasion/always but it's weird how people's eyes seem to scan to Ian ignoring the bit before it)



[inspired by]