"Joel Cohen"

Film Bill Murray's Reddit AMA was predictably brilliant. Here are just his answers which includes an extended anecdote about making Garfield:
"I only read a few pages of it, and I kind of wanted to do a cartoon movie, because I had looked at the screenplay and it said "Joel Cohen" on it.

"And I wasn't thinking clearly, but it was spelled Cohen, not Coen.

"I love the Coen brothers movies. I think that Joel Coen is a wonderful comedic mind.

So I didn't really bother to finish the script, I thought "he's great, I'll do it." So then it was months before i got around to actually doing it, and I remember i had to go to a screening room in somewhere, and watch the movie and start working. And because they had had trouble contacting me, they asked my friend Bobby to help corral the whole situation together. So Bobby was there, and you know when you're looping a movie you're rerecording to a picture?"
And things spiral onward from there. I agree with him about Jennifer Love Hewlett too. I just wish her agent or her had a better eye for material so that when she plays Audrey Hepburn in a biopic people watch it for the right reasons.

"Hey, isn’t that Uma Thurman over there?"

Commerce Rizzoli, the (in)famous bookshop at 31 West Fifty-seventh Street in New York is looking for a new home thanks to the news that its building and a few others are to be demolished to make way for yet another skyscraper.  Jon Michaud laments its passing in The New Yorker:
"Frequented by celebrities, top-name designers, wealthy New Yorkers, and foreign businessmen, the customers were, to say the least, demanding. The proximity to prominence—Hey, isn’t that Uma Thurman over there? Look out, Lagerfeld just walked in—and the baroque d├ęcor helped to compensate for the poor pay, the short lunch breaks, and the occasional verbal abuse from those we served. During my years there, Madonna, Michael Jackson, the Queen of Thailand, and Elton John all dropped in. Oriana Fallaci had an office on the sixth floor and would storm in and out as if war had just been declared. We learned to affect nonchalance in the presence of such glamour. When David Bowie came up to the register one afternoon, my colleague Lara Tomlin (now an illustrator whose work has appeared in The New Yorker) looked at the name on his credit card—David Jones—and quipped, “Hey, weren’t you in the Monkees?” (For the record, Bowie was a good sport. He laughed.)"

The Films I've Watched This Year #1

Film Right then, let's see how this goes. For reasons which will become more apparent towards the end of the year, I'm going to try and keep a running record of the films I've watched in 2014. Nothing too orderly and with any particular format, sometimes it might even be just a list, but it would be good to keep some kind of record and I might as well post it on this blog so it's all in one place. Of course, it's the 17th of the month already so I'm a bit behind but let me enter my mind palace and try to remember ...

Babylon AD
After Earth
Everest (IMAX Experience)
Ready To Fly
I Married A Witch
The Sacrifice
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
World War Z

Having been ill for most of January so far, bedridden, a cold, this list isn't as long as it could be and because I'm only covering film, this doesn't mention the time spent watching the UK and US versions of House of Cards one after the other or Doctor Who's Scream of the Shalka.

My current personal mini-festival is films set in the future, which explains all of the apocalyptic visions. Apart from Ready To Fly, the stand out forgotten film on that list is Lawrence Kasden's Dreamcatcher in which what amount to the four boys are gifted special psychological powers which in their future become really important during an alien invasion - it's essentially Stand-By-Me meets The Fog meets Outbreak. Oddball, flawed but really rather brilliant. It's definitely worth seeing if you have any interest in Sherlock, because Damian Lewis's character (and that's quite some performance in and of itself) has his own mind palace whose manifestation within the film as a kind of baroque archive must certainly have been an influence of Gatiss and Moffat or at least their production designers.

Spending two nights watching Tarkovsky was probably a bit much, though Stalker still manages to have one of my favourite comedy moments in all of cinema (the telephone) and The Sacrifice one of the most spectacular climaxes which shows unimaginable film making craft considering, as far as I can see, it's all one shot and no easy chance of a remake (the house). As for much of everything else, it just goes to show that audience, presumably because of ticket prices, expect too much of their films. After Earth isn't that bad. It's an old fashioned ticking clock chase film with some interesting performance choices that's only really weighted down by the unnecessarily epic prologue which suggests its going to be something it isn't. As for World War Z: $125m budget and it still ends up in Wales with a solution Torchwood would have rejected and a Dr Who actor. Amazing.

"It's only a gameshow..."

TV Back in the day, over a hundred years ago, prolific Doctor Who writer Jonathan Morris's first article in the parish journal, and cover story mind you, was a voluminous piece theorising that the franchise has many passing and direct similarities to game shows. He's just posted it to his blog and it's as amazingly bonkers as you might expect:
"Let us take one story at random. The Celestial Toymaker. Our heroes find themselves trapped in a realm where they are presented with a series of sub-vaudeville comedy routines. There is slapstick, there is a lacklustre dance number, there is an unfunny fat comedian. Each routine ends with the presentation of a cryptic rhyming clue – which may or may not lead to success - and the enigmatic host of the realm has a habit of repeatedly counting backwards. It is clearly the template for 3-2-1 with Ted Rogers [which began twelve short years later]. The only difference being that the entertainers in The Celestial Toymaker were reduced to mindless playthings forced to endlessly re-enact the same tired routines, whilst in 3-2-1 Chris Emmett and Louise English would merely return to ‘Puss In Boots’ in Hull."
Later, as Morris notes, in Bad Wolf, Russell T Davies turned Doctor Who into an actual gameshow, indeed many of them in fact. Plus there have been the dozens of special episodes of The Weakest Link and Pointless featuring various cast members.

The proper Oscars 2013 post.

Film With that business over with, here are my guesses. Which most of them are because as usual I haven't seen most of the films. The full list of nominations is here.

Best Picture:
Should win: ''Gravity"
Will win: ''12 Years a Slave"

[Gravity is the most important film of this decade so far in terms of innovation and re-engineering how films are made and what they're capable of. The academy rarely rewards those.]

Should win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"
Will win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"

Should win: Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"
Will win: Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"

[Having seen just what Bullock (and Clooney for that matter) had to deal with in terms of harnesses and only being able to work within such a narrow band AND produce that performance, she deserves the award. But since everyone has been saying Blanchett will win the Oscar for at least a year, Blanchett will win the Oscar. My guess on the Hanks outrage is that like Soderbergh's directing nomination in the year of Traffic and Erin Brockovich, the vote was split between Captain Philips and Saving Mr Banks.]

Supporting Actor:
Should win: Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"
Will win: Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"

Supporting Actress:
Should win: Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"
Will win: Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"

[Though frankly I've no idea. The academy's cruel enough to give it to Lawrence just see if she trips on the stairs again.]

Should win: Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"
Will win: Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"

[See above. But it's not really fair because I haven't see 12 Years a Slave. Does it have the potential to change how films are made? But then again, I thought, There Will Be Blood would be a gamechanger to. No one cared.]

Foreign Language Film:
Should win: "The Hunt," Denmark
Will win: "The Great Beauty," Italy

8. Adapted Screenplay:
Should win: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, "Before Midnight"
Will win: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, "Philomena"

[Or any of the others. This feels like a consolation category.]

Original Screenplay:
Should win: Spike Jonze, "Her"
Will win: Woody Allen, "Blue Jasmine"

[Or any of the others. This feels like a consolation category. Though it's worth noting that this shows that Jonze is capable of producing interesting work without Charlie Kaufmann, that auteur theory continues to be on shaky ground.]

Animated Feature Film:
Should win: "Ernest & Celestine"
Will win: "Frozen"

Production Design:
Should win: "Gravity"
Will win: "American Hustle"

Should win: ''Gravity"
Will win: ''Gravity"

Sound Mixing:
Should win: ''Gravity"
Will win: ''Gravity"

Sound Editing:
Should win: ''Gravity"
Will win: ''Gravity"

Original Score:
Should win: "Gravity," Steven Price
Will win: "Saving Mr. Banks," Thomas Newman.

Original Song:
Should win: "Let It Go" from "Frozen," Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez;
Will win: "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.

Should win: "American Hustle"
Will win: ''12 Years a Slave"

Documentary Feature:
Should win: "The Act of Killing"
Will win: "The Act of Killing"

Film Editing:
Should win: ''Gravity"
Will win: ''Gravity"

Makeup and Hairstyling:
Should win: "The Lone Ranger"
Will win: "Dallas Buyers Club"

Visual Effects:
Should win: ''Gravity"
Will win: ''Gravity"

[I'm going to stick my neck out and say Gravity will sweep the technical nominations. Or at least it should.]

All of which said, for all my admiration for Gravity and despite what I've said above, I think it'll either sweep or the academy will use all of these categories to reward the films they can't higher up the list.

"Let's ignore Angela. She can't help herself. She's the product of a two parent household."

Film Just watched the Oscar nominations and I'll post some wild guesses later. But how could we ever have thought, back in the day, that:

... would beat ...

... to an Academy Award nomination?

"I knew the way you know about a good melon."

Food  Tokyo's $100 melon shop:
"On its online marketplace, Sun Fruits lays out why you'd want to pay this much for one of the most basic ingredients in an American fruit salad: The melons are hand-pampered by a small agricultural producer to give them a "consistently high quality" and a "noble, elegant taste." Each has a profile as circular as a Euclidean proof, and they're so sensitive to their environment that Sun Fruits asks you to store them in a cool location away from sunlight, like fine wine."

Malfi by Candlelight.

Theatre One of the questions about during the run up to the opening of the Sam Wannamaker Theatre, the indoor Jacobean space which has finally been added to Shakespeare's Globe was the use of candles and what that would look like in practice.

 Now the BBC has a perfectly atmospheric short interview with the reconstruction architect John Greenfield who explains the implications the candles have on performance and how they'll work as a piece of technology in practice.

Of most interest are the shots of the cast of the new production of The Duchess of Malfi, including Gemma Arterton, in costume,  underscoring just how small the stage is relatively and how this has this intimacy of a modern studio theatre.

Does anyone know if these are to be recorded for dvd release?

Elizabeth Wurtzel on The Bachelor US. On a weekly basis.

TV Nerve has asked Elizabeth Wurtzel to provide weekly reviews for this season of The Bachelor. Yes, indeed. Well done all:
"Here is the truth, and the answer to Shakespeare's question: There is a lot in a name. If your parents want your life to be substantial, they give you a serious name, like mine or anything else biblical or Anglo-Saxon. And if your parents are hoping you will someday have plump silicone breast implants, that you will someday be a personal trainer, that if it all works out you will someday be a contestant on The Bachelor, and who knows what else they hope for, then they name you Christy or Kelly, or anything that ends in an "i." That's just the way it goes. I'm sure there is a fine neurosurgeon somewhere named Kyli –but I'm not completely sure. In the mean time, here is how bachelorette Christy describes her favorite type of dancing: "Is drunk dancing a type?" They say blondes have more fun, and I bet they do. "

Ready To Fly.

Film If the web has opened my eyes to anything, and social media in particular lately, it's the quote how much discrimination women have to endure and particular the kinds of discrimination which amounts to old dudes telling women that they know what's best for them. One especially egregious example surrounds the Winter Olympics and women's ski jumping. Despite the sport's deep history in across both genders, the IOC decided that out of all the sports in the Winter Olympics, women should not be allowed to ski jump. It's a similar situation to boxing in the Summer games and the reasons disappointingly similar, amounting to "we won't let you do it in case you get hurt", even though it's really up to a person themselves to decide if they want to have the risk and even though they're already putting themselves "at risk" in every other tournament as though they didn't exist.  Oh and also in many cases out performing the men.

Ready To Fly is the story of the women's ski jumping flighting for inclusion in the Winter Olympics, focusing in particular on Lindsey Van, one of its greatest proponents.  Apparently a fairly typical example of the kind of sport documentary which turn up in recommendations of Netflix, it does indeed include the usual montages of competitions, and isn't the usual thing I'd bother with when there's still another episode of House of Cards to see.  But continue watching, as I did, and you'll find hidden beneath a really empowering story of another group of women having to fight for equality, incredulously seeking an approval which has already be conferred on women in other disciplines and men in theirs, forever being knocked back for reasons which look for all the world look like nothing but spite or those old dudes reaffirming an authority which they see ebbing away.

It's not perfect, it's a bit rough and ready.  There's an interminable section about fundraising which seems to go on forever and although it exists to show the team bonding is about as interesting as finding yourself watching a video of complete strangers at a party you didn't attend.  There's also a sense after a while that the real action, in other words the process of negotiation for the sport's including in the Olympics is happening elsewhere and could do with a few more expository contributors.  But the focus of the piece always returns to Lindsey Van, a remarkable young athlete who at one point seems to have the fate of her sport resting on her shoulders, but never seems to lose her levity and at one point makes a life decision which is entirely breathtaking and will make you wonder, just as it did for me, whether you're just doing enough or at the very least, doing it wrong.

Ready To Fly is on Netflix but nowhere else as far as I can see. :(