Lockdown Links #11.

New on the streaming services.

Hustlers, one of the best films from last year, has been added Amazon Prime.

Season Four of Veronica Mars is now on Starz Play (which I'm incredibly nervous to watch).

Daily Dose of Doctor Who.

Making Doctor Who
"The Lively Arts goes behind the scenes of the UK's biggest sci-fi show." (and extended clip from Whose Doctor Who.)


A message to our readers (from Sight and Sound): we’re here to stay:
"How we’re planning for the Covid-19 quarantine – from special issues to a new email Weekly Film Bulletin."

Amazon Teams With SXSW to Launch a Virtual Fest:
"The films will stream for free on the platform over 10 days, likely in late April."

‘Star Trek: Picard’ Finale Sparks Philosophical Fan Debate — Is Picard Still Picard?
"Article contains SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Picard season one finale."

Lola Álvarez Bravo’s 117th Birthday:
"Today’s Doodle celebrates one of Mexico’s first professional female photographers, Lola Álvarez Bravo, on her 117th birthday. Known for her portraits of public figures, as well as street photography chronicling decades of Mexican life, she is considered one of the country’s pioneers of modernist photography." (Google Images search)

What are the earliest produced films based on comics?
"Searching the Library of Congress for early examples of comic strip adaptations on film!"

The Worm is Back!
"The original NASA insignia is one of the most powerful symbols in the world. A bold, patriotic red chevron wing piercing a blue sphere, representing a planet, with white stars, and an orbiting spacecraft. Today, we know it as “the meatball.” However, with 1970’s technology, it was a difficult icon to reproduce, print, and many people considered it a complicated metaphor in what was considered, then, a modern aerospace era."

Osskah (Short Trips: Snapshots).

Prose Reminiscent of the parliament of birds sequence from The Scarlett Empress, Gary Owen's story describes an encounter between the Time Lord and an avian creature in which they share each other's stories. Told from the bird's point of view, the language is frequently metaphoric, the Doctor described as "specific healer" with the sonic and TARDIS gifted with a whole thesaurus full of synonyms.  The umbrella theme of the anthology was to offer these "snapshots" of what happens when the Doctor enters people's lives and this is very effective in offering a very alien perspective.  Placement: It's unusual in that it implies Eighth has been knocked off course during a mission for the Time Lords who're currently fighting a "storm in heaven" which implies the author is imagining what this incarnation is up to during the Time War.  So just to be on the safe side, even though this was published in 2007 long before Night of the Doctor, I'm putting it in the mix there anyway.

The Thirteenth Book I've Read This Year.

Books Rather like the Arden Shakespeares, The Black Archive has an eclectic author led format. Some include a thorough commentary on the production of the show, teasing out facts which haven't already been uncovered by Andrew Pixley, a Fact or Fiction from the monthly report to the subscribers or the Production Subtitles on the shiny disc. Others, acknowledging that those things exist, choose to spin-off a series of essays inspired by the story, considering its place with the canon of Doctor Who and wider science fiction.

Una McCormack's four essays on The Curse of Fenric cover its part in Thatcher's downfall (ish), compares it to other Who stories set during World War II or consuming its iconography, how its representation of women compares to elsewhere in the franchise and science fiction in general and finally the Doctor's development into a deity of sorts.  Lucidly and accessibly written, there are few assertions in here which I can take issue with and its frequently eye opening, especially on the status of modern companions and other narrative decisions.

Having recently watched Fenric in the context of the recent revelations in the revival of the series, you can see how script editor Andrew Cartmel laid the groundwork even if JNT squashed (on religious grounds), his idea of suggesting the Doctor as a powerful God-like being who existed before the Time Lords.  Retrospectively you can almost imagine that the Seventh Doctor is at least unconsciously aware of his previous life and has an insight which few Doctors before or since have been able to tap into.

The book is also a treasured possession because Una has been kind enough to mention me in the acknowledgements for pointing her towards one of the sources she used, looking completely out of place against the other luminaries such as Ian Briggs (the writer of Fenric), our lord the aforementioned Mr Pixley and various other academics and spin-off writers.  I had no idea until someone pointed it out to me on the social medias and it made what had been quite a grim day much, much brighter.

Lockdown Links #10

New on the streaming services.

Classic indie Big Night, directed by Stanley Tucci, has been added to Netflix. Although perhaps not the best film to watch now that we're all fighting over home delivery slots at supermarkets, if you can stomach it, you'll be introduced to the timpano, a glorious mound of Italian food which you'll probably add to you bucket list for when the apocalypse is over. The Guardian posted a celebration of the film back in 2016.

"Daily" Dose of Doctor Who.

Press Play - a new short story by Pete McTighe:

[A useful advert for Britbox and the iPlayer.]


The Classical Companion Collection:
"In circumstances like these, radio is everyone's friend. So, to help everyone be entertained and diverted – and perhaps teased a bit in the "little grey cells" department – here you'll find links to special collections of music (produced in collaboration with BBC Archive), fun and useful articles and podcasts, and some of Radio 3's best online quizzes."

How the coronavirus hit cinema:
"Like every other part of life, the business of making and showing films has been disrupted in extraordinary ways – and nobody knows what the future will bring."

National Museums Liverpool Virtual tours:
"Have you ever wanted a museum or exhibition all to yourself? Now you can explore at your own pace with our 3D virtual tours. Discover the wonders of our museums, galleries and exhibitions below." [Features the International Slavery Museum and from the World Museum, World Cultures, Dinosaurs and Natural World. -- ed.]

Star Trek’s New Science Advisor Dr. Erin Macdonald On Putting The Sci In Sci-Fi:
"Dr. Erin Macdonald calls herself a “Tattooed Scottish-American N7 Slytherin Rebel from Starfleet.” As an astrophysicist, she worked on the LIGO project that searches the cosmos for gravitational waves. Among her tattoos is a beautiful illustration of the USS Voyager. She regularly hosts science talks at conventions – including the recent Star Trek cruise, which ended just a week or so before the coronavirus shut down the industry – and late last year became Star Trek’s official science consultant, beginning with season 3 of Discovery."

Stuck inside these four walls: Chamber cinema for a plague year:
"We’re in the midst of a wondrous national experiment: What will Americans do without sports? Movies come to fill the void, and websites teem with recommendations for lockdown viewing. Among them are movies about pandemics, about personal relationships, and of course about all those vistas, urban or rural, that we can no longer visit in person."

Some Shakespeare.

The page's the thing – take it from Shakespeare's earliest readers:
"With theatres closed, now is the time to find pleasure in Shakespeare’s texts. His first fans used them for chat-up lines – and read the plays without the baggage of Bardolatry."

Today's Album.

The Twelfth Book I've Read This Year.

Books This thrilling disquisition on how broadcasting during World War II shaped the BBC has really struck a chord as the same organisation, albeit with much more than a single radio station has entered a similar kind of war footing.  Once again it's getting the government's message across to the public whilst providing the necessary scrutiny when necessary, educating, entertaining and informing.  During the war, the BBC proved its worth and once again, just weeks after it seemed like it was due to be wound up, it's confirming its importance again.

Other elements resonate.  The work of the "black ops" teams filling the continental airwaves with radio stations authentic enough to convince the local population that they could sneak in propaganda and untruths are exactly the tactics employed now by fake news sites, combining standard news with the extravagant conspiracy theory.  There's also a thread throughout about how the BBC's independence is forever under threat and how the people they seek to perlustrate are often also the ones with the capacity to defenestration it.  It's a dense read but comes highly recommended.

Digital Voxpops #1

Comment When the soaps come back, should they acknowledge that time has moved on or try to pick up from the second they finished?

Agree on all of this. Although I don't watch the traditional soaps, I am still concerned about how television and film drama in general will look after all of this has happened. Rather like 9/11 and other major events, it's sure to colour what we watch and how it's produced.  The industrial nature of soap production (if you see what I mean) could give an indication of which way this will go, especially since unlike say, Doctor Who, they notionally happen on Earth-1218.

Depending on how they're left, it would seem strange for the soaps to return and not acknowledge something happened especially since it won't happen immediately even after the end of the lockdown. There'll still be a considerable lead time between production and broadcast even assuming that episodes are being written in the mean time with writers and producers meetings happening via Zoom.

But how do you tackle it sensitively?  Having characters die off screen during the hiatus could be seen as insensitive given the number of deaths that have occurred in real life, but to have everyone survive would also break the suspension of disbelief.  It's such a difficult process to navigate.  As Mags suggests, it could be that there'll a good few people looking to see how the The Archers handles it especially as it has the luxury of remaining in production during lockdown.

Lockdown Links #9

Livestreaming Your Art:
"Jason Crouch walks you through some of the potential issues and shining opportunities involved in streaming performances."

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins reveals why she didn’t want to direct Thor: The Dark World:
"The director shares why she really left the Thor sequel all those years ago."

[Editor's note: To save you the click, it's because she didn't think the script was workable and didn't want to be blamed for the mess which came out the other end which would be doubly difficult because she's a woman and that would be the assumed reason. I watched This Changes Everything about women in Hollywood and as that documentary demonstrates, despite Thor: The Dark World doing huge box office (which everyone forgets) because it was thought to be a critical failure, she wouldn't have been allowed to make another film again.]

Todd Haynes’s Masterpiece “Safe” Is Now a Tale of Two Plagues:
"Todd Haynes’s 1995 masterpiece, “Safe,” begins with the camera crawling at something like the speed limit through a meticulous stretch of twilit upscale suburbia that a credit somewhat redundantly identifies as California’s San Fernando Valley, and much more helpfully as 1987."

Why coronavirus might save the BBC:
"It seems the distant past now, but just a few weeks ago there was very real talk of the end of the BBC. Then the virus hit."

BBC Sounds - an audio treasure trove for everyone in the coming months:
"Now more than ever, we know people want things which make them laugh and smile, tell them what’s going on and help support their health, education and wellbeing."

Coronavirus has exposed the reality of a world without work:
"This pandemic is throwing into stark relief a treacherous fact: we depend on employment, both for survival and a sense of self."

Congratulations, Your Kids Are Now Your Coworkers:
"Tips on how to survive the lockdown with your children and sanity intact—by a veteran of working from home."

DC finally reveals the alternate BATMAN: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY art in which Jason Todd lived A rare peak at true DC Comics history:
"Batman: A Death in the Family, the seminal four-part storyline by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy, and John Costanza, saw the end of Jason Todd as the second Robin at the hands of The Joker — and over 5,000 fans who voted in a phone-in poll to kill him off."

How One Arthouse Theater Rebranded as "Digital Drive-In" to Stay Afloat:
"When Coral Gables Art Cinema was forced to close its doors on March 18, co-executive director Brenda Moe decided to take it digital, inviting patrons to "drive in" to flicks on the theater's website instead: “We have to be clever to keep our doors open.""