The Films I've Watched This Year #19

Film Is this late? Usually I've been knocking these out on a Friday night, but I bought myself an iPad Mini yesterday which as anyone who's bought anything vaguely technological enough to be close to what seems like magic to a thirty-nine year old will know, such things make time can slip away.  I'm still trying to work out how it will fit into how I consume information and read and everything but I do at least now feel like part of the twenty-first century even if I'm also yet to decide if that is a good thing.  I also have the same kind of rush in finally owning an Apple product as when I finally bought a Walkman, a Gameboy and gain broadband internet, of somehow in the parlance of Veronica Mars, joining the 09ers.  Oh and having finished the curiously disappointing first season of Continuum, which begins like a version of Life of Mars in which someone visits our time from the future then manages to gain its inherent problems of having to deal with also being a cop show, I've begun again with Veronica Mars.  I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?  iPads?  See - my concentration is already shot to pieces and I've only had it twenty-four hours.

There was also the matter of the Agents of SHIELD season finale on Channel 4 which much to the surprise of the younger version who'd written the whole thing off by episode five was, well, aces.  As with many Whedonesque shows (he did co-create the thing), all it took was a single episode for the whole thing to cohere, for us to start to properly care about the characters and for everything to sing.  For Dollhouse it was Man in the Street, on Angel it was Hero and SHIELD had its Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  In the fallout from the film, with a direction to write towards and like Dollhouse, not having to be one type of show in order service a different kind of show further into the season, SHIELD became must watch television, if not to the extent that Torchwood became Children of Earth, but at least glancing in that direction doing things like not including Fitz in the final hero walk so that his condition is kept ambiguous.  Next season will presumably be about the team seeking out the mcguffins aplenty Hydra busted out of the stores, but without a hierarchy, there's now the latitude for it to be a rather more flexible thing investigating the 'verse.

The Selfish Giant
The Good German
Ocean's 13
Reservoir Dogs
Frances Ha

Weird old week in which I managed to see three modern films made in black and white amd a film in which everyone is wearing black and white but other than that, no real theme.  The surprising entries are presumably Hero (finally!) and Reservoir Dogs which I watched as part of my Century of Chinese Cinema season because film theorist David Bordwell mentions them in this tiff talk in relation to how martial arts films and Hong Kong action films have influenced western filmmakers.  What few people seem to remember is that it for a time Dogs was effectively banned from video release by the BBFC which means it was one of the last films to continue to have legs in cinemas years after its original release and I believe ending up making more money at the box office in the UK than in the US.  I saw it first at the Cottage Road Cinema in Leeds then months later as part of a midnight double bill with True Romance back in the mid-90s.  As so often happens, with twenty years distance and eight seasons of Jack Bauer doing much crueller stuff on television, not to mention Game of Thrones, it's almost impossible to see what the fuss was about.  I thought it was silly back then too.

Bubble's not one of my favourite Soderbergh films, my reaction somewhat similar to how others view Full Frontal and Ocean's 12, "I can see what he's try to do but..."  The construction is just right, it's how you'd expect, casting choices are fine as are the thematically resonant shot choices and structure and he's obviously attempting a low budget morality tale somewhat in the style of Robert Bresson.  But it never really sings in the way that it possible needed to as the vanguard of an experiment to offer a film in multiple format from cinema to dvd on the day of release.  For a more dramatic view on this, I'd recommend this other entertainingly tetchy tiff discussion about the implications of video on demand in which the heads of two different film companies (one of whom financed Bubble in a previous life) become hilariously passive aggressive, some might describe it as entering into a dick swinging contest, with that Ed Burns literally stuck in the middle and they all look at Philip Knatchbull, the CEO of Curzon Artificial Eye with his suggestion that it doesn't matter where the screen is or how big because they're all the same as though he's an alien who's dropped in from another plant.

The Good German does sing, though I can see why it's underappreciated.  The misconception, which to be fair was engendered by the marketing and the final scenes, is that Soderbergh is trying to create a sort of Casablanca moralistically updated in the style of Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven.  But the structure, in which the characters focus shifts between characters is entirely European and the photography of the city in particular is much closer to the Italian neorealists which gives it a much more independent flavour (as well as The Third Man).  Plus the performances, though purposefully a bit arch in places are generally post-Brando.  But it's impossible to see how this would have worked if the director and actors had set out to entirely mimic their sources.  The reviews were vicious, though even the positive examples are also wrong.  Why should, as Geoff Andrew in Time Out suggests, all films have "characters who might engage our sympathies" and especially this one in which Soderbergh's clearly contrasting the irony of his black and white form with the grey of his protagonists?

Thence to Ocean's Thirteen, which I defended at length here on its release and still stands up. I did have one paragraph of criticism which is worth highlighting: "It's not entirely above reproach. The storyline, another casino heist, does not have the emotional punch of the first and to a degree second films. In addition, anyone paying attention could work out what twists there are in the climax. Although the entire crew is back minus the ladies, not everyone has that much to do with Bernie Mac in particular being particularly hard done by. Now and then it seems just a little bit too pleased with itself, but that smacks of confidence more than anything else."  What I now see is that it's Soderbergh's western.  It's about a bunch of guys riding into town to avenge an old friend who's double crossed by the big cheese.  The hats, guns and horses version of this is The Magnificent Seven or one of its sequels.  Here it's ingenious thievery rather than murder which ultimately brings the antagonist down.  Expect a post when I've completed this project all about Soderbergh and genre, though I can't quite place Bubble. It seems like mumblecore but it was already in production before that happened.

Nebraska's another one of Alexander Payne's road movies.  In my like rather than love column (Election and Sideways are his magnum opuses), it was still enough for me to want to hug my Dad as soon as possible.  The photography, from Phedon Papamichael, is simply remarkable, almost every shot composed like something from Life Magazine, the opening scene in which Bruce Dern is walking towards the camera is framed with the centre of the horizon, and the middle of the road, at the exact centre of the frame which I don't remember seeing before.  Papamichael's having an odd career.  As well as collaborating with Payne, his DP work on either side of Nebraska are The Monuments Men and This is 40, and that's been pretty much the pattern, a mix of quality indies and mainstream comedies.  Bio-Dome was one of his.  Patch Adams too.  The underrated Knight and Day.  He's also directed five films of his own, none of which seems to have been distributed in the UK, some of them starring Adam Goldberg.  Incidentally, Nebraska marks the start of another viewing project, of watching films with US states in the title, one for each.

Frances Ha.  Oh Frances Ha.  Frances Ha is one of those films I've been putting off and putting off simply because I have a strong feeling that I'm going to love them but I'm almost too scared to watch them in case the anticipation was more enjoyable than the hour and a half I spend in its company.  Then it turned up on Netflix, Greta Gerwig stood in my watch list clicking her fingers every time I opened the app so I realised there wasn't much else I could do.  I was not disappointed.  I did love it.  Of course, I was meant to, it's a celebration of French New Wave, Woody Allen, mumblecore, has multiple random (though integral) dance numbers, a female protagonist in the form of Greta Gerwig and is essentially her earlier film Lola Versus done properly.  Indeed, it's almost feels like a reaction to Lola, a film in which she plays a similar character but who ultimately won't find fulfilment without a man.  We're told throughout this that Frances is amongst the undateable and as a young woman at The New Yorker Q&A notes, there aren't many films in which women are allowed to go through the emotions she does here where men and finding love and all of that are beside the point.

I should probably write a "genre games" post about this (though frankly I should write a "genre games" post about anything) but we must be in the territory of there being a genre of film about female protagonists in cities.  Bits of Frances Ha clearly pay a debt to Cleo 5 to 7.  There's also Cedric Klapish's When The Cat's Away.  Amelie.  Nobody's Daughter Hae-won.  Slaves of New York.  Tiny Apartments obviously.  20 30 40.  Yeast.  Black Swan.  Not enough for a corpus yet I suspect and it's probably a mix of semantic and syntactic, there being first act turning point which is most often someone being kicked out of their apartment or dumped by their boyfriend (or both), the final resolution being the character finding themselves somehow, reaching an equilibrium most often in the shift to proper adulthood or indeed all too often finding a new boyfriend.  In that way it's possible to suggest what doesn't fit.  When Harry Met Sally doesn't.  Neither does Friends With Benefits.  Hannah Takes The Stairs doesn't either oddly because it's a love triangle.  Rom coms are right out.  For once in Frances Ha we have a work which is both entirely familiar yet completely fresh.

The Feeling Listless Soundtrack 1.0
What's Up?

Written by Linda Perry
[from the single: 'What's Up?', Alex, 1993]

There are few words. Strangely not in the mood the write, except to offer my condolences to any American readers, and anyone else effected by this. I've sent a circular email to anyone I know may be a regular reader, but to anyone I don't know -- take care of yourself, on today off all days... [11th]

The train this morning was almost silent as people read the collected stories of yesterday in their newspapers of choice. Silent except for the chatter of two girls more interested in their lipsticks and shoes, in denial, unable possibly to grasp the enormity of the events we've witnessed. Eventually, the hush consumed them as well. This is something which has affected everybody. Something changed yesterday. [12th]

The bus to the station was deathly quiet again this morning. Apart from a baby crying. It is getting easier to live now, although everything is still in the back of my mind. I simply can't understand why this has affected me, whilst my co-workers and people I see about seem to be able to get on with their lives efficiently. My Mum said it was because of 'The way you are.' I wonder what that means. I think I'm mostly filled with foreboding about the days and months ahead. Even in Liverpool this will never go away -- everyone is connected somehow. I was one of the few to volunteer to take calls tomorrow during the three minutes silence, for those who don't want to respect it (although I can't imagine who). I think the thing which will stand after this is 'perspective'. Suddenly, all of the little niggling things which seemed really important on Monday just don't seem to matter now. It occurred to me earlier I haven't listened to any music since Tuesday morning. I should go do that. [13th]

Observed the three minutes silence in the end today anyway -- strange to be doing so in the kind of office those people lost their lives in. Just underlined how lucky we are to be alive. [14th]

As news gatherers begin to acknowledge there is other news happening, I too find it's possible to write and think about other things. I do agree with sentiments at the end of this article that everything has changed. The world doesn't seem as interested in showbiz types and soap operas -- real life dramas have become much more potent.[15th]

People are describing this time as the aftermath. After what? This isn't over yet. Not yet. This is a pause. A respite. A moment of reflection. A preparation for the coming whatever. [17th]

[Commentary: I'm on shaky ground. Should I condemn the younger version of me for being facile enough to juxtaposing these blog post excerpts with this 90s anthem? Well ... I think there's probably more to condemn in the content of the posts themselves in the way they attempted to transfer my own emotions, to everyone else in the world, but I don't think most of them say anything which wasn't communicated somewhere else at the time in some way.  I do remember the moment when The Onion published their famous article and I do think there is a cycle when horrendous events occur that we do wonder if we'll ever get back to being able to thinking about trivialities and not feel guilty about it.  It's worth pointing out that by 9/12 I was noting that PJ Harvey had won the Mercury Music Prize and by the Sunday I was concerned for welfare of some locals.]

Some other foxes who've appeared in Doctor Who.

TV In an attempt to scoop Buzzfeed, here are some other foxes who've appeared in Doctor Who:

Emilia Fox

"Emilia Fox (born 31 July 1974) played Berenice in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio story Nevermore and Lady Winters in the Doctor Who video game The Gunpowder Plot. She is the daughter of Joanna David, the niece of James Fox and the cousin-in-law of Billie Piper." [Source: TARDIS Databank]

Oswald Fox

Oswald Fox was a resident of Poseidon 8 in the game, "Shadows of the Vashta Nerada". "When the sickness struck, Oswald locked down the entire community in order to prevent it from spreading before he could evacuate the entire commuity to the surface through life pods. He stopped after the Eleventh Doctor informed him that they would be infested with Vashta Nerada." [source: TARDIS Databank]

Julian Fox

Julian Fox played Peter Hamilton in the Doctor Who story Death to the Daleks. [source: TARDIS Databank]

Richard Fox

"Richard Fox and Lauren Yason provided music and sound design for Big Finish Productions." [source: TARDIS Databank]


"Foxgrove was a village in Hertfordshire, England. and was where Sarah Jane Smith lived the first three months of her life. Foxgrove was known for the ruins of a Cistercian abbey. The local newspaper was the Hertfordshire Times. The village had at least one police box. The village was also located at a weak point on the Web of Time. (TV: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith)." [source: TARDIS Databank]

The indigenous population of the planet Iwa

"(The) first time "Susan" and her grandfather met humans was on the planet Iwa. They were separated. In his search for Susan, the Doctor found a human medical colony. The principal work of the facility, called "the Refuge", was to rehabilitate patients identified as "Future Deviants". By undergoing dream therapy, it was hoped that such individuals would not become criminals. The Doctor soon learned the residents were besieged by fox-like aliens who could disintegrate and reconstitute their bodies." [source: TARDIS databank and the novel Frayed by Tara Simms.]

Plus Fox Broadcasting Company who decided to broadcast the TV movie opposite the last episode of Roseanne. I'll stop now.

Clearly Minty.

TV Shockwaves through the Twittersphere this morning as Doctor Who's official account this morning posted:

The instareaction under that tweet ranged between "OMG this is the most exciting thing ever!" (I'm paraphrasing) to agreement with my reaction of "Who?"

This was quickly followed by a quote and photo:

Which is in truth when I noticed this happening and when I asked "Who?"

The replies under that are even harsher asking why they're hiring someone making their acting debut when there are quote "thousands of excellent experienced actors out there. Why go with a novice in a high profile series?"

Why indeed, though some people have short memories. People said much the same thing when Billie Piper was hired and look what happened there.

Anyway, let's work the story:


In the world where Wikipedia exists it's easy to find these things out. It says:

"Louisa Rose Allen, better known by her stage name Foxes, is a British singer and songwriter originally from Southampton and now based in London. She is best known for her featured vocals on Zedd's song "Clarity", which peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs, and "Let Go for Tonight" which entered the UK Singles Chart at number seven on 8 March 2014. On 26 January 2014, she won her first Grammy Award: Best Dance Recording at the 56th Grammy Awards for "Clarity"."

So she's a bit like Peter Davison, forced to change her name from Louise Allen because there was already someone around with a similar name (and the same middle name).


She's a musician. I'm listening to the album on the Spotifys and it's a bit Gildaire, bit Lena, bit Kate Bush, bit Little Boots and lots of might just grow on me. Here's one of her pop videos. On reflection, I do recognise it from somewhere.  I'll now spend the rest of the day trying to remind myself as to exactly where:


No idea on the actual episode yet, who she'll be playing or how the big the role is. For all we know it might be as small as Mike Skinner's cameo.


Series begins transmitting in August but lord knows what order the recording blocks are in this time.  Actually it's probably in Doctor Who Magazine but I can't remember where I left it and there's no way I'm visiting Gallifrey Base to check.


Aha. Well, the above video has 9,915,826 views on YouTube so she's not unknown. The single reached number seven in the pop charts in the UK. But she's won a Grammy which puts her in the area of being successful in the US and my guess is that there's a certain element of international casting in this, that it'll be a much bigger story across the atlantic.  In other words, she the Peri of the Moffat era.  Ish.


How do these things happen?  Kylie was cast because she's Kylie and because her friend/employee Will was a massive Who fan.  Plus as the wikipage for her album says: "Foxes is currently on a 16-date tour in England, Scotland and Ireland, which started 24 February 2014 and will end on 24 May."  So that explains some of the scheduling...

Updated 10:26am: The BBC programme page has a quote:
"I can't believe I’m actually going to be in an episode of Doctor Who! Especially as it all came about from a chance meeting. I was playing a gig and got chatting to the show’s production team who’d been watching my performance. I was telling them how much I loved Doctor Who and next thing they invited me to be on it. I couldn’t think of a better place to make my acting debut than on one of the UK’s most iconic shows!"
Amazing. There's also a Moffaty quote:
"We are completely thrilled that the amazingly talented Foxes is joining us on board ... well, you'll see. Let’s just say, the Doctor is finally catching up on his phone calls."
"D'jar wanner kum wiv me?" etc.

The Oxford Malfi.

Theatre The University of Oxford as a small resource page for John Webster with ebooks, essays and the audio of a lecture given by Emma Smith specifically about Malfi:
"In dramatizing a woman's sexual choices in a notably sympathetic manner, this tragedy articulates perennial questions about female autonomy and class distinction."
The lecture is featured in a series of collections which includes related material: Feminist Approaches to Literature, Questioning Genre and Shakespeare’s Contemporary dramatists.

Women's roles in Jacobean drama.

Radio Glancing backwards through the BBC's archives for material about John Webster and The Duchess of Malfi, I didn't find much other than a few pieces from Woman's Hour. This interview with Imogen Stubbs from 2006. Phyllida Lloyd talking about the play in 2003 when she was directing it at the National. But perhaps the most interesting is this ten minutes on women's roles Jacobean drama in general from 2006 featuring interviews with Olivia Williams, Hayley Atwell and Penelope Wilton:
"As its name suggests Jacobean drama dates from the reign of James I. The big names include Thomas Middleton, John Webster and John Ford, who revelled in writing crowd-pleasing melodramas as full-blooded as any horror movie.

"They're aptly called revenge tragedies, with murder triggering revenge leading to more grisly deaths and a high body count at the final curtain. Judi Herman has been looking at the key roles women play in these tragedies, with Lisa Hopkins, Professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University."
It's from the old, old version of the BBC website so the clip is in Real Media format but once you've downloaded the link, the stream should open fine in the separate player.

Williams is talking about the Cheek by Jowl touring production of The Changling.  There's more interviews on their website including a pre-infamy Tom Hiddleston who was so little known then, Billington didn't mention him in his Guardian review.

Lost Horizon. Found.

TV BBC Four's latest "collection" is of old Horizon programmes to celebrate the programme's fiftieth year. They're introduced by Professor Alice Roberts:
"Looking back at the films, with the benefit of hindsight, we might feel that some programmes lacked objectivity or balance. But these programmes were reflecting real concerns - concerns expressed by scientists themselves about the potentially negative impacts of emerging technology on human populations, other species, and the planet as a whole. In subsequent series, alongside the presentation of more straightforward subjects such as new discoveries, Horizon continued to deal with areas of concern and controversy. The series accepted that, while science and technology could provide solutions, they could also become a source of problems. This, I believe, is one of the real strengths of this long-running series, and the reason that it is still such a trusted platform."
I dip in and out of Horizon in general, which is I suppose how it should be. There's been a tendency more recently to make sure everything is understandable to everyone, whereas in its heyday it assumed a certain knowledge of the world and I've always much prefered being in a state of slight ignorance and therefore with the capacity to learn than to have everything explained - though I appreciate it's a fine balance.

This is a good selection of programmes. The first episode about Buckminster Fuller is in there though it's the later programme from the early 90s which really had me watching Horizon, with its memorable shots of a wind-up football on legs.  Plus it's especially helpful that this "new" archive material is available through the iPlayer now, watchable through the television app.  As ever the clips section of the programme pages is full of gems too.

John Webster and Lance Parkin on UKIP.

Politics Not really, not Webster anyway.  But watching the BBC's glorious capture of the Globe's recent production of The Duchess of Malfi, I was drawn to these lines from very late in the day or rather play as Delio surveys the dead human wreckage around his ankles:
"These wretched eminent things
Leave no more fame behind 'em, than should one
Fall in a frost, and leave his print in snow ;
As soon as the sun shines, it ever melts,
Both form and matter."
That's UKIP isn't it? Or at least let's hope so. Lance Parkin seems to think so even if he doesn't reference Malfi.  But he says something similar in many more words:
"UKIP are on the march, seeing a surge in support in the local government elections and getting the most number of seats in the European elections.

"It would be easy to see this as representing a sea change in British politics. And because it’s the line of least resistance, that is what the political pundits have done. Labour won 44% of the council seats, the Tories 36%. They apparently need to ‘learn lessons’ from UKIP who didn’t quite win 4%, who have no chance of winning a single seat at the general election next year, and whose share of the vote actually fell.

"UKIP is an optical illusion, a mirage. Once you work out where those votes came from, the prevailing narrative on UKIP collapses."
Political parties have in their power to discover why people didn't vote for them. They can go into the country and ask the 65% who didn't vote on Thursday why they didn't, which will presumably be a mix of apathy and not having the time or not even knowing that it was polling day due to both apathy and time.

They could ask UKIP supporters why they voted UKIP which will also be due to apathy and also as Lance identifies protest votes.  We can imagine that the number of Kippers who voted for them because of their policies is probably pretty low, largely because it's almost impossible to articulate them.

These things are possible. But they won't. They'll instead spend the next year reconfiguring their policies on the assumption that they'll make themselves attractive to the 11% of the British population who did vote UKIP even though objectively it's madness to ignore the interests of the 89% who didn't vote for them.  Sigh.

Molly Ringwald shows The Breakfast Club to her own daughter.

Film Though of course, because it's This American Life, it reaches much deeper than that. Astonishingly good radio.

The Films I've Watched This Year #18

Film Evening. Here are the usual excuses for why this list is short (or at least I think looks short). Saturday night I watched the BBC's Museums at Night stream which wasn't bad for a first try even if in the Martha Kearney presented chunks there was no sense of this being a live event beyond technical hitches, nothing to evoke the atmosphere of the Imperial War Museum North opening late, plus given the event it was only when it focused on the workings of the museum that it really seemed to make sense. What's becoming my regular Monday night burst of culture was as I mentioned previously Amanda Vickery's immensely enjoyable corrective on the history of women in art, The Story of Woman and Art grinning right through the section about one of my top ten favourite painters Elizabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun (even if the programme insisted on missing out her second name) (I also think I'm a little bit in love with Amanda Vickery now too and her expressive vowels).  Then I spent the whole day on Thursday night in a church hall with two complete strangers working as a poll clerk at the local and European elections and that brings us back to here.

Ocean's Twelve
The Lucky Ones
Naked Weapon
Rock of Ages
The Last Samurai
Jack Reacher

Not a bad week overall, certainly nothing so horrendously bad that I'm having to Brillo my braincells, no What To Expect When You're Expecting.  Rock of Ages is a bit of a patience tester but even then, the songs are pretty well turned out and as an adaptation of a jukebox stage musical it can and will only ever be as good as that jukebox stage musical.  It's also not a film you can say very much about.  Debbie Gibson appears as an extra, interestingly credited as Debbie Gibson rather than Deborah which is what she shifted to in her "sexy" phase post the Anything is Possible album, released the utterly horrendous Shock Your Momma and I discovered Amy Grant instead (!).  There are discussions to be had presumably about the objectification and codification of women and most of the men come across as complete assholes too even the one's we're ostensibly supposed to be rooting for.  Perhaps the most interesting performance is from Tom Cruise who offers just the right level of menace as the "rock god" figure, dialing down all of his natural charisma so that when he does show a glimmer of humanity it really shines.

Despite his public image, I'm happy to admit to still being a fan of Cruise as a screen presence because of that natural charisma  As with all of those 90s megastars (see also Hanks, Costner, Smith and Reeves), there's a lack of interchangeability, of not really being able to imagine anyone else in a given part.  That's especially true of The Last Samurai in which he's able to engender our sympathy despite having been part of the extermination of the Native Americans.  Granted that's a function of the historically bullshit Dances with Samurai storyline, but there are few other actors who can switch from convincing action to acting quite this successfully.  Anyone else would seem miscast.  A young Harrison Ford possibly, not that Cruise himself is getting any younger.  I've been trying to remember why I haven't seen Samuvtar before.  Perhaps I was on a Kurasawa curve and decided I didn't want to see this distorted Hollywoodisation of it.  Now it's just made me want to watch more Samurai films.

Plugging my Cruise gaps also led me to Jack Reacher which is far better than any of the reviews suggested.  A good old fashioned, 90s style thriller with Alan J Pakula style trimmings (All The President's Men score on the temp track much?), again it's another tour-de-force for the actor as he's called up on to be an entirely blank man with no name figure and compelling enough for us to care about.  Not having read the Lee Child book (obviously), I hadn't realised the extent to which it's essentially another iteration of the Doctor Who myth, of the stranger who "just wants to be left alone" but feels compelled to help either because someone's asked for him or simply because he's there.  But it's exciting, screamingly funny in places and has Robert Duvall being Robert Duvall a lot and Rosamund Pike essentially playing the same role as Demi Moore in A Few Good Men.  It's also thoroughly a Chris McQuarrie film; the rhythms of his monologues and the structure of the flashbacks are straight out The Usual Suspects, with sections like the "victims" montage creating a sense of trying to produce something more than a simple action adventure piece.

Over the summer I'm going to attempt to watch as much of the Toronto International Film Festival and BFI's Century of Chinese Cinema selections as I can, but after trying to stream something from Netflix and Amazon Instant Video and finding some utterly unwatchable cropped and poorly dubbed prints ended up with Naked Weapon which is not on their list but stars Maggie Q in what amounts to a Chinese version of Sexpionage (sometimes called Secret Weapons) crossed with Nikita (which is of course interesting because Q would go on to actually star in a television version of Nikita).  It's mainly an exploitation piece (apparently a sequel come remake of something called Naked Killer), cue further discussions about the objectification and codification of women, but the script goes out of its way to make the protagonists sympathetic dimensional figures and there are some pretty neat action and fight sequences even if there's an astonishingly high body count (apparently the director Wong Jing's a bit notorious).  If nothing else it's wetted my appetite for the rest of the summer and seeing some of the classics of the form instead.

The Lucky Ones didn't receive a theatrical release in the UK and like Married Life from a few weeks ago I wouldn't have known about its existence if it hadn't starred Rachel McAdams.  It's a treat.  McAdams and Michael Peña play soldiers on leave who, joined by army retiree Tim Robbins, find themselves stranded at an airport and decide to drive across country to their various homes and fates and realise there's a big difference between expectations and actuality.  Unlike most road movies, there's no ticking clock, the three characters shift from A to B to C and across the alphabet searching for happiness and bonding and we simply enjoy being in their company.  Of the three it's McAdams who's acting her pants off in the period when she was still dabbling with character roles, as a Southern baptist who despite the death of her boyfriend has a solid belief that life will work out.  It's mostly light comedy with some drama with little indication that director Neil Burger's next two films would be Limitless and Divergent.

And so to Ocean's Twelve, which is still one of my favourite films, the one you're all still wrong about just as I'm entirely correct.  Watched in the context of Full Frontal, the Julia Roberts affair makes better sense since it's a "mainstream" version of the film within a film material there.  On the audio commentary, Soderbergh explains that the original script, presumably the "Honour Amongst Thieves" draft, Roberts's character was supposed to imitate an old Romanov princess but that they decided that the concept of having Roberts's character play Julia Roberts was too delicious not to attempt.  I agree.  It's also extremely brave of them to put most of the main cast in a prison cell for the finale of the story.  Robert McKee would presumably hate that.  But all three films are essentially about a single protagonist with numerous facets anyway so it's quiet successfully having it all ways.  The imdb trivia page for the film is massive.  Linus's Dad was originally played by Peter Fonda but he was edited out.  George Clooney was only two years old then me when this was shot.  But he looks so much older...

The City of Death.

TV Whit Stillman's latest project is The Cosmopolitans, an Amazon productions pilot starring Chloe Sevigny. The two of them talk to New York Magazine about what it's about:
"“It’s supposed to be open-ended so people want more episodes,” he says. “But I think it works fine — that if this is the only thing we get to do, it will be nice. It’s sort of Metropolitan meets Barcelona in Paris.” He looks at his brunch partner and adds, “With some Last Days of Disco thrown in.”

“Sprinkled!” says Chloë Sevigny, who starred in that 1998 Stillman film."
The article also brings news that Sevigny and Stillman are working on another film, "a Jane Austen pastiche called Love and Friendship, which will also star Sienna Miller".  You wait a decade for one Whit Stillman film and ...