The Films I've Watched This Year #28

Film Idling the other evening between Commonwealth Games events I typed "opening ceremony" into Youtube. As well as discovering the Olympics channels archives whole matches and sessions from the London games after clicking on full coverage of the Danny Boyle spectacular, I found a wealth of similar events from across the world both on their own associative channels and the less official. I expect if you're the kind of person I am, you could become quite addicted to discovering the introductory evening of the Asian Games in Doha in 2006 or Barcelona 1992.

Presumably this was a valuable resource for Boyle and co and for David Zolkwer, the creative director of the Glasgow 2014 ceremony (who's primary decision must have been "How early do with deploy Barrowman?").  Having seen enough of them live, there's clearly going to be a genre-like aspect to them, similar themes and ideas which appear in all of them beyond the necessary.  Many is the history of the nation we've seen inscribed through modern dance, the legendary rock singer making a cameo appearance.  Boyle and Zolkwer included these elements but with a twist.  Wonder what we'll get tomorrow night.

Running with Scissors

As Charlie "Ultraculture" Lyne's otherwise exemplary review of the dvd in today's Guardian demonstrates, like Bee Season, The Juror and August Rush before it, Noah is one of those films which if you're tasked with describing it to a friend who hasn't had the pleasure makes you sound completely mad.  I've tried.  I got as far as "there are these angels which have been banished to Earth and become Rock Lords" before I realised that I was beginning to disbelieve exactly what I'd seen, even though I had in fact seen it.  But unlike those three spectaculars, but like Darren Aronofsky's equally bonkers The Fountain, it's a film I want to see again.

Partly it's because for all its run time and epic scale, it's a fairly simplistic story that looks backwards to the biblical epics of old.  Man is tasked by his God to build what must be a dimensionally transcendental boat in order to save all of nature from flood which is about the wash the smear of the humanity from the Earth,  The smear doesn't like the idea and wants in, but the flood comes before they can do much about it.  Then Noah's handed a series of choices which challenge his faith in the Father, his family and a few other fs and if you paid attention in RE at school you know the rest.

The photography is remarkable.  Pulling everything from renaissance paintings to Ralph Bakshi animations to indeed the London 2012 opening ceremony there are moments of both transcendental beauty and horror.  Next time I see a Andrew Graham Dixon figure who may even be Andrew Graham Dixon remarking on how cinematic a Hieronymus Bosch painting is, I'll be able to nod sagely because now I've seen it filmed.  Probably a bit spoilery but the shot of the last vestiges of humanity clinging to a rock are imprinted now.  I don't think I've seen anything quite so beautiful and hopeless in film before.

What's also gratifying is the how the film bothers to take a view on God within the narrative.  All too often biblical epics in an attempt to provide inclusivity prevaricate on the existence of a creator, often undermining the narrative.  Noah's quite clear on this.  Within this setting God exists.  It's source material says so, and so the film does too.  This frees Aronofsky up to explore the nature of faith and see above.  When the various miracles happen, when the flood comes, there's no doubt as to the cause.  Given the amount of religion there is in the film, I'm astonished as to why anyone with faith could object.

Where Aronofsky cleverly leaves some ambiguity is as to when or where this is happening.  There are sequences which could imply that what we're seeing is happening in the far future or some alternative reality or the kind of realm of legends inhabited by Camelot, Star Wars, Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. He also embraces the theological theory that physics and natural selection could be the tools with which God created the heavens and the earth, that the seven days are as much about poetry and storytelling as the literal truth of the kind which leads to "museums" about creationism.  Perhaps that's why.

I began blogging because I did.

About I began blogging because I did. I've written lengthy rationalisations all over the place but in the end they come down to because it seemed like a good idea at the time and no one else in Liverpool seemed to be doing it (though as I found out a couple of years later there were a couple) (Imperial Doughnut).

Partly it provided some structure to the day having something to do at bedtime. I was only able to get online for about three hours after 9pm at night due to a family agreement that we'd get the internet so long as I didn't dial-up during the prime time for phone calls and BT surftime was limited to evenings and weekends anyway.

I've now been doing it for a third of my life. It's at the stage where ending it is very tempting but self defeating. I'm still getting plenty of opportunities because of the blog, and it provides a purpose when purpose is otherwise lacking. I wish I hadn't felt quite so isolated right at the beginning, when I was apparently part of a scene and didn't properly know.

Fennel tea please.


Bit Touching?

Music Looks like MKS are recording again, whatever that means. Through the magic of Twitter and Keisha retweeting things we have this:

This Instagram featuring music which sounds new though its vintage isn't clear and ...

Can we get together properly this time? Please?

The Feeling Listless Soundtrack 1.0:
Stray Thoughts.

Written by Eleanor McEvoy
[from: 'Eleanor McEvoy', Geffen, 1997]

Music I lost my mobile phone on the train to work this morning. I’d moved it into my fleece pocket in case it rang so that I could hear it and as I alighted at the station I felt into my pocket for my season ticket and realised the phone wasn’t there. I dashed back onto the train to where I was sitting and it wasn’t on the seat and the lady who was sitting there wasn’t too forthcoming as she read the newspaper I’d left on the table. I was distraught. It felt like I’d lost a part of my life – as though there was a gap in my mind somehow.

On the platform I ran to the stationmaster. No one had handed it in. Then it occurred to me – I knew the number. He drew out his phone and I dialed the number. I listened. It rang. And rang. Then my own voice spoke, my answering service like a plea in the darkness ‘Hi! It’s Stuart. You know what to do…’

Where was it? Who had it?

I headed into work, stopping off at a telephone kiosk on the way to call the number again. It rang again, but less than last time. I met a former manager. We chatted on the walk up to work. I managed to keep the conversation going but all I could think about was the phone.

In work I took the nearest phone and called the number again. By this time, my hands were shaking. Someone answered.

‘Hello?’ I said. ‘I think I lost this phone, and you’ve picked it up.’

‘Actually,’ said the voice, ‘I’m the guard on the train – your phone was handed in by an elderly couple.’ I remembered them, sitting opposite me, his cloth cap, her bright yellow coat. I’ll never say anything bad about pensioners again.

The guard sent the phone back to Lime Street on the next train and I picked it up tonight, offering the somewhat appropriate password, ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’. When it was back in my hands, I kissed it lightly. I’ll never lose my phone again.

Something I neglected to mention. This is the day that everyone decided to call my mobile phone. Which was sitting in the lost property office at Lime Street Station. So everyone who called, from my Mum and Dad, to my friend and his friend spoke to the old gentleman in the lost property office, bewildering all of them with his gruff voice and tales of my lost phone. Apparently when my Mum called later on to find out when they close (yes, that’s right) he sounded as though he was about to throw it under the rails if anyone rang again…. Incidentally my ringer is ‘Enola Gay’ by OMD – I hope he’s never been in a war …. [Originally posted 28th December 2001].

[Commentary: I think at this point I was just plucking out any old posts to go with the tracks, unless the above is suppose to constitute "stray thoughts". Certainly actually having Enola Gay as the track here would seem to be more apt. This is the first Spotify embed. Sorry. The version on Youtube is awful. The version on the original mix cd was the b-side to McEvoy's Apologise single and acapella. Imagine this without the bagpipes, essentially.

The anecdote is entirely true and as a result I still have the telephone number of a public telephone box on Oxford Road in Manchester stored on my sim card.  I'd call it now and then for fun at night to see if anyone answered and now and then someone did.  I always remember the glee of answering a ringing call box and the people who answered always seemed amazed and delighted.  Haven't tried it in a while.  Such things have lost their novelty.]

My first three blog posts.

About A Twitter conversation which led to this post at Mike's blog about longevity has reminded me that I need to do something about my archives which for the past few years have seemed a bit misleading because the first three posts from 2000 are from the pre-feeling listless days. So I'm going to put them into draft and post their content here instead. Here then is my first attempt at a blog:


Published on 19/11/2000:

Before getting myself ‘on-line’ I hadn’t realised actually how difficult it is to build a website. I mean you visit the web café at your local library or a Cyber-café, and you visit these sites and just feel yourself yawning at how mediocre they all seem. Until you actually try and do it yourself.  So you’ve got a modem. Yes. And you’ve got an idea. Yes. Have you got the software? Well I’ve Word 2000. (pause) Not an ideal choice, but since you don’t want to fork out £400 for Dreamweaver, it’ll have to do. Have you got any web space. About 10 meg. (pause) Really. You’ll have to be a bit frugal. So not photo galleries. Won’t need them. What’s your idea? It seems a lot of unusual things happen to normal people like me, but these get lost eventually. I think it would be great if people had somewhere to send them so everyone can read them. (pause) O.K. A bit odd, and slightly new age, but it might be fun. What now? Well go and create the thing. Right. (four weeks later) Finished. Better get it uploaded to the ftp site . . The what? And so it goes on). I’ve got nothing but admiration for everyone now. So don’t worry, the site will improve. I just thought it important to start collecting stories now. So why haven’t you clicked on the menu yet?

Published on 07/12/2000:

The panto season is in full swing. A quick glance of the What’s On brochures presents night after night of glimmering entertainment. At the Stafford Gatehouse, Hinge & Bracket are Queen Rowena Rat and Fairy Maybelle in ‘Dick Wittington (and his amazing cat)’ also featuring Lance from Neighbours as the eponymous Dick. At The Tameside Hippodrome we have the Gladiator, Hunter as Aladdin in ‘The Fourth Protocol’ (just kidding) with Irene from Home and Away as the Genie of the Ring and Frank Williams as Widow Twanky (you know, the Vicar from ‘Dad’s Army’. The Regent Theatre of Stoke-on-Trent pays host to the double decker pleasures of Russ Abbot as Doctor Dolittle and Paul Nicholas (of Just Good Friends fame) in ‘Peter Pan’. But perhaps the cream of the crop (not counting of course Julie Goodyear as the queen in ‘Snow White’ at the Manchester Opera House) is Aladdin at the Crew Lycium, offering such luminaries as TV’s Otis the Aardvark, Rod Jane and indeed Freddy (although not seemingly the original Freddy (oh Bunny), Greg Donaldson (you know THE BILL’s DC Tom Proctor), Emma Steadman (Bruce’s dolly dealer) and the unforgettable Hugo Myatt.

Published on 12/12/2000:

It’s Christmas, you know. Well almost. When I was growing up, certain things would flag it for me. At school the nativity play, then the carol concerts. Then there would be Christmas Fair at school. Then the Christmas Radio Time. Well at least that’s still around, even if its given into rampant commercialism, what with Harry Potter on the cover and everything – not that Santa in his big red Coca-Cola hood wasn’t an rampant ad for soft drinks of course. So without giving too much away (in case anyone reading uses the TV schedules as a tradition as well), what broad strokes have we to look forward in the coming weeks. I think the general consensus amongst the channels is ‘Another chance to see . . .’ which is a polite way of saying ‘We’re stuffing the channel with repeats because you’ll watch them anyway . . .’ At the proper millennium there also seems to be a hell of a lot of costume dramas around. I mean more than usual . . . should that have happened last year?


That's better.

Mark Ayres Live!

Music Having been watching sport, I entirely missed the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's set in Glasgow as part of the BBC at the Quay festival. Luckily it's just been uploaded to the BBC iPlayer for us all to enjoy for the next three weeks. Click here.  That's not all, BBC at the Quay has its own programme page with three other concerts available including Capercaillie.


TV Vicki C-M fronts BBC Four's latest trailer offering acres of nostalgia for her Balderdash & Piffle days. However much I love Only Connect, that she hasn't found another presenter led documentary series to front is a tragedy. Something like a history of the press would be perfect.

No wonder they're called Everyman Cinemas.

Film The Metquarter will soon have a three (four) (for events) screen cinema built in, brought to us by Everyman Cinemas, the operators of the Screen on the Green, the new venue at Selfridges amongst others. New cinema, more cinemas are always good, or tend to always be a good thing and I was right with it (even though it's not showing anything that different to FACT or the Odeon) until the final quote in the Liverpool Confidential article:
Everyman says its mission is to create “a truly unique and memorable cinema experience that exceeds expectations and reaches the highest standards possible in quality, comfort and entertainment … where you can you enjoy a cinematic experience, swap your soft drink for a nice glass of red wine and a slice of freshly made pizza and where the cinema feels almost like a home from home”.
Yes, sorry, but fuck that.  One of the reasons I've stopped going to the cinema as much is because of assholes treating the place as "a home from home".  If I want "a home" I'll stay "at home".  Plus given the cinemas will have capacity of 325 seats, the screens won't be that much bigger than the one I'm watching the athletics on now.  Though I will certainly give it a go and report back, especially if they have an PR freebies....

"to democratise theatre"

Theatre Having been wilfully trying to narrow my interests in the hopes of some sanity, I missed this, as John Wyver suggests, game changing article from Michael Billingham about filmed theatre:
"It's not quite the same as National Theatre Live, where cinemagoers vicariously attend a single performance. Digital's Ghosts, I'm told, was shot over three successive evenings during the show's run at the Trafalgar Studios. But, whatever the process, the result is to democratise theatre. It's not just that the performance can be seen worldwide. The key point is that everyone now has the best seat in the house."
As ever there are some wilfully stupid comments from people who clearly live in London and already have access to this material and can't appreciate what it must be like for those of us everywhere else in the world who wouldn't otherwise. There is of course the extra ring of people who would also like to see blu-ray releases or streaming access to the NT Live material, now that it has been filmed and there are HD copies in the archive, but that's a different battle.

Conventional Twitter List.

TV In the idle moments between the sports in which I'm really interested (in other words the sports which I just have on in the background) (bowls) I've been wickering away at a Doctor Who related twitter list, attempting to create a kind of digital Doctor Who convention. You may find it useful.

Essentially it's everyone connected with the making of the programme, some fandom and the like including spin-off creators and so forth. Now I'm off to watch the Badminton.