Saturday, 23 November 2013


AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME kind of reminded me of Tim Burton's ED Wood without Johnny Depp's heroic sense of non-achievement and with Dr Who #1 Bill Hartnell in the Lugosi role.

It is literally an adventure in space and time, shown as one final adventure for a forgotten and rapidly aging actor who is already a relic from another era. It is an emotional ride but should not to be missed by anyone, let alone Who fans. Actor's are all convincingly versions of the originals and it is supremely written by Mark Gatiss, who amongst many other notable achievements is co-creator of BBCs SHERLOCK.

One of the supreme ironies of this kind of drama is that the world of the early 1960s now looks far more alien than the alien environments being portrayed. It does struggle to get across the warmth of Hartnell beyond the grumpy stills. I'm Pertwee era but when I finally caught up with Unearthly Child I thought it one of the best.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Marvel One-Shot: Don't Wait Up Tony

Around a large table in a sumptuous high tech multi million dollar environment Stark Enterprises CEO PEPPER POTTS and DR. JANE FOSTER. enjoy a glass of wine over what looks like a very expensive meal.
Nearby DARCY LEWIS pours herself another large glass of red wine from a carafe.

But it's Asgard Jane.. surely...

Oh sure, it is amazing, on so many levels. But try and get a Burrito for breakfast .. I guess if I talked to Volstagg..

<interrups, slurring>
You can't get Burritos for breakfast in London either.

Pepper and Foster ignore her and continue to talk about Asgard. Darcy gets up from the table with her wine glass and approaches a dancing head up display filled with lights and graphics. This is run by JARVIS.

<waving her hand at the graphics> So err.. Jarvis.. are you an actual artificial intelligence?

I believe Mr Stark would refer to me as a Cognitive Simulant

<struggling to be interested>
What's the difference exactly?

Miss Lewis according to my records you took a political science major?

Science. Yeah. Political Science.

<wearily> Then yes - I'm an artificial intelligence.

Darcy has lost interest. She plays with the music controls on the headup display. Jarvis tries to protest.
As Duran Duran comes on Darcy kicks of her shoes, climbs onto the table and starts to dance.
The song is "Is There Something I should Know?"

Jane ties to apologise to Pepper but Pepper is smiling

Sorry its jetlag

no it isn't

I like this song

<considers her wine and the remains of the meal>
We're not used to high living

She doesn't pay me

No I don't pay her
<some inebriated guilt leaks out>
You know Darcy we should talk about that

Darcy shrugs

<returns to Pepper>
So are you going to give me the S.H.I.E.L.D. sales pitch?

I don't do sales. We have a Division for that. Its fair to say though that we've seen the best of them and you've seen the worst.

You make  S.H.I.E.L.D.  sound like the I.R.S.

I wouldn't have taken you for one of the anti-government types

Is  S.H.I.E.L.D. government though? Who are they?

<still dancing>
 I didn't vote for them

TONY STARK enters. He is surprised.

Well rather than wait for us all to bump into each other in some extreme situation that you or S.H.I.E.L.D , Steve, or Bruce or...

Jane's boyfriend

.. kicks off I thought we'd bring everyone together here for a civilised

Girls night out?

Well, night in - for me.

<looks around Stark Tower interior> : For us, this is definitely a night out

Is there a reason Jane's boyfriend isn't here?

Yes. I didn't invite him.

You socially snubbed an Asgardian? You should be running S.H.I.E.L.D.

I know 

<Stark tastes wine from carafe>

Is that the Domaine le Roy '64?

<mischievous smile>
How would you know if it was?

<Tony runs the wine over his palate - it's just not interesting enough a subject for him>. Oh - OK

<raises a toast to Foster and Lewis>
Dr Foster, I've admired you work

I know - You tried to make it a compulsory purchase through S.H.I.E.L.D. after New Mexico.

I thought you needed supporting

I need to be left alone

Be nice to talk some time.. about .. I could ask your opinion of ..String Theory?

<looking surprised/amused> String theory?.. sure.. I could ask your opinion of.. biplanes?

<Pepper beams>
It's nice to have guests isn't it?

You two have obviously really hit it off

It is an honour to meet Tony Stark

<ignores her, raises his glass and smiles at Darcy>

<Darcy gives a snarky smile in return and adjusts her glasses>

Careful on the table, it can double as an automated medical facility. So, three of you - hardly a party?

We've left the other two, we think they have some issues to work out

<Camera pans to balcony, behind soundproof glass NATASHA ROMANOV and BETTY ROSS, have not touched their drinks and are in heated discussion. Betty is wiping away tears.>

<Stark and Foster have in an instant science competitive edge>

It's a shame you weren't around to see more of the action in New York

I've seen plenty of similar since

Word is you are working with Eric Solveig again

He is a genius in the field. A valuable member of my team

He's also a diagnosed schizophrenic dabbling in a new science we barely know

I would guess he's already forgotten more on the subject of wormhole tech than you'll ever know

Well that much is true. And the fact that that British papers call Solvieg is a traitor to the human race isn't an issue?

I've known Eric for years and he built a life on sound science and being a human being without selling any weapons

<Darcy and Foster high five each other and Darcy climbs down from the table>

You should meet Banner, he's high on the morals as well. I'd try and keep the irritant levels to a minimum with him though.

<Stark leaves, with a wink at Darcy. She grimaces back at him>

<to Pepper>
I've got to ask - what do you see in that guy?

He's obviously not your type


Well, he's smart - but not that smart. There is one technical challenge he'll never work out.

Is it taking a crap in the Iron Man suit?

No he got around that early on
<face wrinkles>
no the one thing he'll never solve is the thing that looks back at him from the bathroom mirror every day.

So he's your technical challenge?  

No. I'm CEO of Stark. These days he's just my hobby.

"Behind every great man there is a great women"

We are not behind them, its just that they are standing in front of us

I could relate to that better if mine wasn't immortal

And somehow Tony Stark isn't doing it for you either Darcy


<Darcy looks warily at Pepper>

well you know that story about my dad being a mechanic in Oakland 

<the other two stop and loop at Darcy. who takes a huge glug of wine>

Well.. yeah.. ok.. errr .. promise you won't freak out

<she knows just has not faced up to it>
Go on..

Oh what the hell
<looks directly at Jane>
Tony Stark is my dad

 I could have written a review of THOR : THE DARK WORLD but instead I though I'd post this to show my appreciation of a really fun movie
it was inspired by

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sandra Bullock and Jane Fonda (Gravity review)

Watch Sandra Bullock strip off in space like Barbarella and pilot a Soyuz like it's the Millennium Falcon! - Seriously - it is rarely you see a mature actress, absolutely not trying to do anything but survive, look fantastic, AND act the pants off everyone else in the movie.

Admittedly that is pretty much only George Clooney, who only seems to be repeating his characters from the coffee ads. Clooney does perform a warm role in a cold movie but really serves to set up emotional scenes so Bullock can hit them for six. Really nice to hear Ed Harris again as the voice of Mission Control (as he was in Apollo 13).

If you don't see GRAVITY on a big screen you will really kick yourself. The first movie I've ever seen that I forgot I was watching in 3D, it makes Avatar look like House of Wax.

Steven Price's jaw dropping soundtrack never seems to get mentioned. It seems to be half way beween Hans Zimmers work for Christopher Nolan films and Ligetti's 2001 music. Another reason to see this in a decent cinema.

I think it is time to say that director Alfonso Cuarón, after Children of Men, is a genius. The 3D we should be paying attention to here not that seen by the audience (great as it is) it is the dimensions used by the director, as this film has no up or down for nearly it's entire length. Cuarón uses the entire screen and all the dizzying perspective like a zero-G Hitchcock. Even the very soundlessness of vacuum itself is used for dramatic effect, as astronauts try to deliberately and careful unhook themselves in the foreground, unaware that high speed mass destruction is happening just over their shoulder.

Much as I've gone into overload on Pacific Rim, and Rush recently Gravity is a classic movie that will be half as good on on a small screen. Likely it will be referenced for years just for the technical detail
"piloting the Shenzou will be just like the Soyuz" (no it isn't)

Other matters
It would be churlish of me to mention Jane Fonda's Barbarella without noting her cameo on The Newsroom recently.

We regularly talk now about US cable mini-series being on the same level as great movies. I wouldn't put Aaron Soorkin's The Newsroom at the very top, much as I love it myself, but Jane Fonda's lightening bolt intervention at the end of S2 is the best cameo I've ever seen in an HBO series.
If you've followed this plot for a while it is based on CBS news and Dan Rather being mysteriously setup and discredited as they investigated Geroge W Bush. When the Newsroom debacle hits the fan in the face of Network owner Leona Lansing you'll just want to stand up and cheer.
Climax of The Newsroom S2E7 "Red Team III"

And thanks to Vue Islington
Back to Gravity - I've seen Pacific Rim, Rush and now Gravity at Vue Islington and hugely enjoyed all three. Quality of movies helps (all groundbreakers I think in their respective genres, Gravity is a stone cold classic movie full stop) but the seats, the quality of the screen, the sound and great and friendly staff all helped make for a great night out. Ordinarily I would be looking for an indie cinema first off but I needed serious visuals and sound for these movies and this well run example of a chain cinema delivered each time.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Paul McGann and Richard E Grant go on holiday to Space by mistake (Dr Who courtesy of i09)

Classic reaction to Night of the Doctor, which establishes that Paul McGann (8th Doctor) and Richard E Grant (Great Intelligence) are now both in the cast of Doctor Who
"As it turns out, the 'Time War' was really just a euphemism for The Doctor & The Great Intelligence's booze-&-drug-fueled roadtrip."

from I09 poster N29_W95

who goes on to post possible earlier incarnation of similar

I had not seen this before and I laughed so much I hurt my face

Monday, 11 November 2013

Where to get inspiration for hopeless creative projects

You are staring at a lot of work, you are not sure if it will ever be recognised or understood, but you have to write it. If it isn't written it will stick in your mind like a fishbone for years. You have to get it down but you need reassurance that even the most seemingly worthless project is worth it somehow.

Here are three movies I always go back to that convince me my latest doomed creative project somehow cosmically has to happen, all featuring creative disaster from which nuggets of beauty make them more worthwhile than most of the crap out there. They sound grim, I find them all hilarious and hugely inspirational.!
Classic music documentary featuring two feuding indie pop bands that were once great friends. One will make it (briefly) big, the other will fallout apart in hilarious acrimony. Which one will be remembered in posterity?
Infamous Manchester fop Tony Wilson wants to create a record company in which there are no contracts and artists have all the power. It is a disaster on almost every level but gives birth to the UK dance scene.

and of course
Even the man universally regarded as the worst film director of all time deserves to make his terrible terrible stuff his own way, with his own unique vision.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Funk Custard : The Wolverine, 6music on Saturday mornings and the increasing obsolescence of the idiot box

Comic book movies have no respect for comic plotlines, and decent radio (with it's kid sidekick the internet) is making broadcast tv very disposable

Life really is minuses and pluses. Sometimes you have to be ready to take all the pluses that fall your way and ignore the minuses as soon as possible.

Example, last night finally caught up with The Wolverine (extended cut). Supposedly based on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's classic berserker rippin Nippon Noir tale of the X-Men's Wolverine in Japan. The new movie was a crushing disappointment, almost as bad as the previous Wolverine effort. It prompted the increasingly familiar comic book fan reaction :

"How did they screw THAT story up?"

What should've been Robert Mitchum in The Yakuza with adamantium claws is another junevile superpowers drama with a take on the character than can only be described as adolescent. So he's indestructible now? FFS. Among the dramatic misssteps right from the off is Japanese prison camp guard as sympathtic character and icy cold Yakuza daughter Mariko, the love of Logan's life, is now a skinny model with all the intensity of frozen saki.

And two seconds watching the lame fight scenes show the ripping fury of the original tale has been largely ignored.

Positives? The principals are all good, with standouts from Rila Fukushima as Yukio and Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper. I would hope to see both again in better movies. Hugh Jackman is ok again as Logan but we never seem to see him go the full red eye that this role needs. What hurts particularly is this movie was all great potential, James Mangold is a good director and last I heard the Chris (Usual Suspects, Day of the Gun) McQuarrie script was nailing the original property. Who knows what happened but it seems a long way from a Chris McQuarrie screenplay.

For all the great respect shown to these comic characters in this modern golden era of comics films there is next to none for the storytelling in the original material. We've seen real classic tales like the Dark Pheonix (X Men 3), Galactus (in Rise of the Silver Surfer) the Elektra saga (in Daredevil/Elektra) and most recently Garth Ennis's great Extremis (Iron Man 3) all butchered by Hollywood screenwriters so far. Will I be alive to see those classic story-lines adapted properly? I doubt it.

So next morning walking up after that was grim but, look around and the pluses this morning are there. Just happen to be stuck in sorting the Exmoor house and the brand new Hughie Morgan Saturday morning show is on. I can't lie and say I've been a fan of his band, or himself before ('interesting' character obviously) but I'm there now for this show. This is what Saturday mornings have needed for years, just the right amount of attitude and swagger to kick a slow Saturday's arse right into gear. I'm almost tempted to say this is the best thing to happen to my generation at this time of the week since since TISWAS - it just swaps custard for Funk.
And he's got Harry Shearer on next week. I really must catch up with Le Show in the meantime.

I could rattle on about any number of 6 music shows, Stuart and Maconie, Tom Ravenscroft and LL are just my personal favourites, but these days you just take them as a given. They are all great and an indicator that having the radio on is much better company that an attention grabbing tv blaring moronic adverts every ten minutes.  If even the Hughie Long show is a must listen then that goggle box in the corner really is becoming a relic.

This may be a sign of the times. I haven't replaced the tv in this place and I'm not sorry. Were once the tv had our whole attention, now we are most likely to be primarily messing with laptops and Ipads and the idiot box which needs to be muted every time an ad break comes on (increasing the volume of ads I think is banned in the US I think) is just a painful distraction. Radio, 6 music at least,  is much more more likely a nice background mood generator. Even setting aside the actual quality of the stuff presented to us these days by tv broadcasters the future of radio as a support to our online activity must be looking very bright.