Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
A slight return in the GWG series to provide, if you will, a GGWG - a Gif Girls With Guns - with Linda Marlowe as Harriet Zapper in Big Zapper, Lindsay Shonteff's cult 1973 (s)exploitation nonsense.
Wasn't she a stunner back then?
Monday, 29 October 2012
Sunday, 28 October 2012
Watching it at the cinema (Warrington, 1999, with my sister - a massive Brosnan fan; I despair) I was bowled over by the sheer scope and spectacle of the opening sequence. For a long time the pre credit opener had been a mini movie in itself but TWINE went one further in making it the longest pre credit opening sequence in Bond (so far) and by staging enough bangs, explosions, double crossing, globe trotting, sex, comedy and chases (from foot to motorboats on the Thames, to London road and ultimately to a hot air balloon above the then infant Millennium Dome) to make a Bond movie right there off the opening bat.
At the time I was stunned. As the sequence began to close with Bond gripping a hold of the Dome structure, clearly beaten and broken whilst Garbage's excellent and suitably retro sounding theme tune brassily pumped out in pleasing cinema stereo, I took a breath. Assaulted by such a visual and audio onslaught of riches. I was, to quote the awful pun, in 00 Heaven. From then on, I long believed this was the finest opener to any Bond movie.
Though the film itself was pants.
Of course it was pants. What could possibly come along in the 1 hour and 40 minutes that followed to top that sequence? Robert Caryle was good, but his Begbie in Trainspotting was scarier! And fellow Scot also pretending to be a Russian, Robbie Coltrane was wasted. Oh and Brosnan was still a weak and too smug Bond. Let is not even speak of Denise Richards in her Lara Croft kit with an implausible name even for Fleming.
Watching the opening again today, I felt like I'd been transported back, Christmas Carol style, to a childhood Christmas, only to find it wasn't as great as I'd remembered. It couldn't be. These things live in your head after all. Not that the spectacle wasn't still brilliant it was. But crucially, it was too much. What I thought was the only redeeming feature of this film actually proved to be its downfall, and very nearly the whole Bond series downfall too. It's too pumped, too overblown, too self satisfied, too too too much. Hell, it even has a cameo from a traffic warden reality TV celebrity of the time! The World Is Not Enough may have been the film's title, but it was more than enough. Way more than enough. You can have too much of a good thing. It was only right that after one more spin of the wheel, Brosnan's Bond, and the over inflated spectacle of this era was put to rest. Bond had started to resemble it's own spoof, namely Casino Royale, the 1967 film. And that was wrong. When Bond came back, in the real, long awaited adaptation of Fleming's Casino Royale it was leaner, meaner and crucially more believable. It was Daniel Craig in black and white, killing a slippery MI6 traitor and thereby gaining his 00. It was simple, and all the more enjoyable for it. When the stunts came - the magnificent Parkour chase - the audience felt they had earned it and they were seeing it more in context with the story. It wasn't just tacked on because that was what was expected.
Ultimately TWINE's opener is a ode to the turn of the century, a triumphant self congratulatory cheer for the Blair generation and its icon; The Dome. Great at the time, but best left in the past, and to our memories. Things can only get better and thankfully, they did.
And the film is still pants.
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Just perfect, but by God, so sad.
Everything ended exactly as it should have done; Tucker sadly burnt out, Glen washing his hands of the whole sorry lot (and it's always a joy to see James Smith 'go Peter Finch') Nicola doomed to suffer indignity after indignity, Stuart - the perfect embodiment of Steve Hilton style 'guru' guff - sacked, the Lib Dems and Tories still struggling away at DoSAC, with Terri (who will never escape!) and the eternally opportunistic Ollie climbing the greasy pole to Malcolm's role, happy for now, but doomed to suffer the same fates as him.
There's always the small slim chance it will return and that Malcolm will live to fight another day, it remained open ended I suppose, but if it were to end for good here, it's done it admirably. Thanks to everyone, all the cast, crew and writers (and to Chris Langham too, without whom the whole thing wouldn't have gotten to where it stood now, however much some try to forget it) Thanks for seven years of some of the best comedy drama ever. Because that's what it was really, despite my title it was not a 'sitcom', it could never be pegged in such a narrow category. It was too brilliant for that.
And hey, there's always VEEP from now on at least.
Friday, 26 October 2012
Thursday, 25 October 2012
One of the most beautiful modern day folk/protest songs, Shipbuilding was written by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer for Robert Wyatt in 1982. Its lyrics pinpoint the tragic contradiction of the Falklands War bringing about work and prosperity to the declining shipyards of the Clyde, the Tyne, Belfast etc whilst at the same time bringing loss to those areas, as men went off to fight in the conflict.
'Shipping on the Clyde', John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1881
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
A poster I proudly own upon my wall, In The Loop , the cinematic spin off of the BBC's The Thick Of It, is not only a fabulous continuation of said satire and a fabulous film in its own right, it is also a fabulous film poster, perfectly capturing the style of Obama's 'Yes We Can' campaign and turning it on its head by converting it to a negative and attributing it to the master of spin, Iago with a Blackberry himself, Malcolm Tucker (mesmerisingly played by Peter Capaldi)
The Thick Of It's fourth and in all possibility final series concludes this Saturday. I shall weep in mourning for the loss of one of the most intelligent, savagely funny programmes of all time.
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Because my previous posts featuring Terry Graham (Vinyl Terry and What A Night) having been proving quite popular, here's some more of her work at Fiesta
Note how the same shoot contradicts Terry's info - one caption states her vital stats as 36-32-35 whilst another says 37-22-36! One states she's from Norfolk, the other from Norwich
Following on from the post about the excellent poster art of The Prince And The Showgirl...
My Week With Marilyn is a rather nice film that promises more than it ultimately delivers. The first half is clearly the strongest and benefits greatly from the nostalgia, the set up and, especially, the talented cast firing on all cylinders and having their share of the screen.
The second half concentrates more on the fling between Redmayne's Colin Clark and Williams as Monroe. But in focusing squarely on this romantic element the film starts to suffer, which is worrying for what is essentially a romantic drama. If the film would have continued to provide the on set colour of the making of The Prince and The Showgirl complete with a menagerie of acting talent including Branagh and the wonderful Judi Dench - who, after several strong scenes early on seems forgotten about, leaving the audience feeling short changed - then maybe the enjoyment I gained initially would have carried on all the way to the end credits. However, in serving up an almost Princess Diana style metaphor; a hackneyed tale of a vulnerable beautiful innocent 'celeb' being sneered at by the British (acting) Establishment, before ultimately winning them over, my enthusiasm started to wane. One thing that did increase around this stage however was my irritation that Marilyn's real enemies, namely Hollywood and the circle around her who fed her pills and booze, serving to further her anxieties until her tragic and untimely death, were left unexplored and kept away from the firing line. A bigger story with more obvious and guilty villains has been evaded here.
One of the joys of a well made British film is to see many familiar faces up on the screen and My Week With Marilyn is no exception. Actors from the stage, TV and cinema, all with great track records are wheeled in at regular intervals, often for just a few lines. A Michael Kitchen and Philip Jackson here, a Jim Carter and Peter Wight there, as well as, in progressively bigger (though ultimately shallow, squandered) roles, Toby Jones, Zoe Wanamaker, Dominic Cooper and Dougray Scott. The only person who seems rather pointless and adrift in it all is Emma Watson who, away from the Harry Potter hype, utterly fails to convince in the small role she is given. A star too far perhaps?
In the lead role Michelle Williams gets to showcase her Monroe, whilst not especially looking all that much like her. Despite this she equips herself rather well in what is surely a difficult and all too iconic part. She offers both the public persona Monroe, complete with baby voice and pout, as well as a more serious characterisation which one can readily believe to be her private persona. It's a performance that is only occasionally eggy, an obvious pitfall, and that it is only occasionally is quite a feat. I don't think she deserved an Oscar, but the nomination was correct. Ditto Branagh who gets to imitate one of his life's heroes and indeed, immortal rivals; Olivier. His imitation is a great work of mimicry and respect, his delivery of dialogue at times sounding so clipped as to seem foreign (and I'm referring to him as Larry not as Larry as The Prince, who was, of course, meant to be foreign) Lastly Eddie Redmayne serves the plot well being a wholesome, handsome enough lead who seems realistically love/starstruck in equal measure.
One for fans of films like An Education and The Boat That Rocked but ultimately some tighter direction from Simon Curtis and a more even handed focus to the script may have benefited and enabled it to be the equal in terms of quality with those aforementioned films.
Monday, 22 October 2012
I love this artwork, it's so sensual; the way Olivier grips and kisses Monroe, the way she slinks into his hold, the way the medal is pinned so suggestively, so cheekily to her breast, it's all so utterly sexy. Does it reflect the film? Hell no! The Prince And The Showgirl is a rather delightful twee farce of its time. But back then poster art was there to sell the stars, and Hollywood in general, not the film. That's why both Olivier and Monroe are essentially out of character.
The background of The Prince And The Showgirl of course is the subject of the 2011 film My Week With Marilyn, which starred Michelle Williams as Monroe, Kenneth Branagh as Olivier and Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark. It details the supposed affair Monroe had with Clark who was the young third assistant director and whose memoirs the film is based upon. Clark was the brother of Alan Clark, the historian and host of the BBC's Civilisation and the uncle of the delightful Tory rogue Alan Clark MP, famed for his own 'Diaries'.
Today's been a day of painting. First, DIY and the skirting boards painted in the morning, and then this afternoon painting for leisure - something I haven't done or indeed felt like doing in ages. But, as the autumnal afternoons take hold, something draws me back to the canvas, and after some prelim sketches last week, I've been painting like a demon today (helped along with Billy Bragg on the CD player) and loving it! It's not complete yet, but I'm dead pleased with what I've got down already. It's a portrait of Nye Bevan, which - all being well - I'll try and share on here when done.
Nye : Inspiration for my painting.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
Doctor Who girl Sophie Aldred in a series of shoots used as a template for the New Adventures novels which though artistically great were somewhat tastefully dubious. Pneumatically enhancing Aldred to clearly make certain fantasies come true.
For what it's worth, I prefer Ace/Aldred like this...
Picspam praise of the divine Sarah Sutton, who at just 21 commenced the role of Nyssa in Doctor Who. Beautiful on a Pre Raphaelite level, talented and blessed with a lovely bum, Sarah I salute you