Thursday, November 30, 2006

Naked chef?

That Jamie Oliver’s got nothing on me.

Untitled post with an unrelated picture of me in it

reflection.jpgThere's a documentary about Adam Ant on TV tonight. It's the first episode of a two-parter. But it's only on ITV London, which we don't get as a default channel. However, I have a sneaking feeling that I should be able to see it on channel no. 900-and-something on Sky. You just have to keep on going past all the porn channels and past about a dozen regional BBC variations and you'll find it tucked away there somewhere. Fingers crossed it'll work.

What's the name of the show? Well, you remember this post from September, where I mentioned the book, audio book, and CD compilation all called Stand & Deliver? Now they've made good on the promise of the DVD collection too, but have cut some of the most desirable tracks and retitled it from the sublime Digital Tenderness. They're calling it Stand & Deliver, with the same picture as those aforementioned three products. And the documentary tonight: Stand & Deliver.

For fuck's sake: I've got more imagination in the tip of my cock. Can you believe some lame-ass marketing motherfucker must've come up with this shit. FUCKWITS!

So, why not watch it if you can? You can laugh at how fat and psycho Adam looks these days. Yes, yes, I know it clashes with Night Watch on Film 4, which also came recommended by yours truly... Well you can't blame me for bad scheduling. That really is beyond my control.

Anyway, I'll probably try to do another post before the end of the day, since I think this probably isn't everyone's cup of tea. Good news about the DVD collection, though, isn't it? It's on my Christmas list.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wednesday stuff

I'm having one of those don't-really-know-what-to-blog-about moments today. What makes this especially frustrating is that I don't have a huge amount of things to do. Oh, the irony: time on my hands, but nothing in my head... I'll put together, then, a little list of things that have crossed my mind in recent days.

• When I did that list of famous people I've met or seen in the street, one person I left off is a guy I wrote and recorded some songs with a good few years ago. He's not yet famous, but he has been continuing to write and record his own stuff and looks to be on the verge of a breakthrough. This leaves me faced with a dilemma. Do I e-mail him and say, "Hey, congrats on the success. How's it going?" Or do I wait till he has a No.1 single then try to sell the recordings of me and him together?

• With Wife and I heading off to Seville, Spain, in just over a month's time, we really need to take a few Spanish lessons, just so we have a vague idea of what the natives are saying to us. Trouble is, I keep forgetting to phone potential tutors. I'll do it right after this post, promise.

• A couple of weeks ago, I accidentally e-mailed a colleague from my blogaboutnowt address. I didn't realize until he phoned me up and asked, "Are you Blog About Nowt?" I didn't know where to put myself. Now, if someone I knew e-mailed me with an obvious blog type e-mail address, I know I'd check it out. So I'm sure he has. It's all a bit embarrassing, isn't it?

• On Saturday, while I was working, I spilled the tiniest amount of coffee on my keyboard. Ten minutes later, my keyboard started doing funny things. It wouldn't stop doing funny things. Now I'm using the keyboard from my old computer, feeling very glad that I haven't yet managed to sell it. I'm told, though, that if you get coffee in your keyboard, you should run in under a tap (faucet) for a few seconds, and then leave it upside down in the airing cupboard for a couple of days. It seems that it's not the liquid that's bad for it, but the stickiness of a substance -- coffee, for example.

• I haven't called my mum in ages. The last time we spoke, I found her very distant and uncommunicative. I feel bad for saying it, but I kind of feel it's her turn to call me. Especially given that I've never spoken to her new beau and don't particularly want that first conversation to be one where he happens to pick up the phone. Talk about awkward moments...

• A project I've been working on for the past three to four months is finally at an end. Tonight I want to drink Prosecco to celebrate. It's been a tough, tough, tough project -- possibly the toughest I've ever had.

• I've started buying Christmas presents for Wife. In fact, I've even started giving them to her, too. First one was yesterday. Listen up, girlie: that's the only one you get before Christmas, 'kay?

• The other day I bought that film Hostel on DVD. I've not watched it yet. I know it's going to be grisly and gory. I also know it's not as grisly and gory as the publicity would lead you to believe. But I still have reservations about watching it for some reason. I think it's more that the premise is so believable in concept. Still, it was only £7.

• I am hoping to take Friday off. That'll be nice. Not sure what to do yet, but it'll likely involve shopping and eating.

• I've been meaning to do a post about porn for ages, but it's proving difficult to find the right angle. No pun intended.

• There's washing up waiting for me. I should really do it. But I have to call Spanish teachers first.

• When I took the rubbish out to the bin, Cat went into the alley behind the house. He's not come back yet. Although I know he's perfectly safe and can easily jump the wall to come back in, I'm never entirely happy until he returns. This is one reason I know I'd be a terrible overprotective parent.

That's all for now.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Movie time!

I've fallen a bit behind with film reviews (such as they are) lately, and I've got a bit of a backlog, so without further ado, let's get on with them.

From Hell
I approached this film with caution, since I know it's been disowned by comic-book legend Alan Moore, who wrote the original graphic novel on which it is based. He was also the man behind The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta, and he has also disowned those two films too. So it's safe to say that this man believes film-makers are doing a disservice to his stories. That said, I am a sucker for Johnny Depp films, even ones in which he adopts dodgy Cockney accents. At least his Cockney wasn't as bad as Heather Graham's Irish attempt. Who knew we had travelled such a short distance from the days of Dick Van Dyke as the chimney sweep? I like Jack the Ripper tales, though, and as it happens I don't think this was too bad. Opium wasn't Depp's only addiction, and when he fell for Graham's whore, I couldn't help but wonder whether absinthe makes the heart grow fonder. This one gets a throat-slashing 62 points.

Hercules in New York
It would be unfair to score this since I really saw only 20 minutes or so over lunch the other day. This is Arnold Schwarzenegger's first movie role, and he is so fresh-faced that it's hard to believe that he had even started shaving. This is unmissable if you get the chance. So terribly bad that it's great. In the scenes I saw, Arnie, playing Greek god Hercules, demonstrated his all-round prowess to a New York athletics team, before going off for a horse-and-carriage ride through Central Park with the daughter of the team's coach. Meanwhile, a European brown bear escapes from the zoo and finds its way into the park, whereupon Arnie wrestles and boxes the beats to the ground, thankfully subduing rather than killing it (not like that cunt from Metallica, who goes shooting bears in Russia for fun). The great thing about the bear scene, which takes place after dinner one autumn evening, is that it moves from dead-of-night-darkness to midday daylight. Fucking insane! This fish-out-of-water tale is really the forerunner of Borat, but 30 years earlier. Not scored.

Historias Mínimas (Minimal Stories)
From the maker of Bombón El Perro comes another wonderful little flick. I enjoyed this much more than Bombón because I wasn't expecting danger at every turn. It's a story of three folk from the same small Patagonian town heading to the city, some 200 miles away, for various reasons. There's barely a word more suitable for this than just "delightful". In the best possible way. Not much happens really for us as viewers; the journey here is all about the characters. I can't say fairer than 75 for this one.

Night Watch
This is currently in rotation on Film 4 in the UK, so if vampires are your thing, why not check it out? It's a Russian movie, apparently the first in a trilogy, and it was actually quite enjoyable. Not wholly original, though, since it clearly draws a lot of influence from both the Blade and Highlander franchises. What I will say, though, is that it is über-fucking-stylish. Also, I watch quite a lot of subtitled movies, and this one absolutely takes the cake for its subtitling. The humble text at the bottom of the screen almost becomes a character in its own right: coloured red it shifts in the water like the blood flowing from a child's nose; when a computer geek talks, the letters appear on screen one word at a time, as though being typed; when someone shouts, the words grow to half the size of the screen; when a character gasps, the words shimmer and flutter. They also sit on a plane somewhere within the action, so a person might walk past and wipe the words away as they move. The subtitling in this movie is great. And the movie's okay, too. A blood-sucking 64 out of 100.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Roll up, roll up! Get your fortune told here! No purchase necessary!

Fortune cookies
Ever wish you could get your fortune-cookie fortune without having to ingest all that dodgy monosodium glutamate that's part and parcel of most Chinese-takeaway food? Well, now you can!

Red and I have tidied up the kitchen a bit, and what did we find but 27 unopened fortune cookies (there's some of them above, look). Rather than just throw them all out, we thought we'd share with our blog buddies.

Now, listen up, I ain't gonna eat 'em. Me or the missus will open them up one by one at random, pulled from a carrier bag in the order you apply for one. Just leave a comment, and we'll open one on your behalf. What could be easier? Fortunes told, lucky numbers issued, no hassle. Don't say I never give you nuffink. And I got through a whole post without using the word cunt. How's that, then?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Woolworths gift vouchers

You all know that I've decided to do gift vouchers for Christmas this year. And the general consensus appears to be for Woolworths. Makes sense, I suppose, since you can get virtually anything there.

I used to love Woolworths as a kid. When my mum would take us into town when she was grocery shopping, I would either go to Woolies and check out the toys or to a shop called The [town name] Bookseller and check out the books. Sadly, that independent boutique shop is no longer extant. Progress meant that it had to become a fuck-off huge WHSmith.

Digress, digress, digress.

Anyhoo, Wife and I head into Woolies on our local high street. And I ask for the vouchers. But I'm told that they no longer do vouchers in the traditional sense; instead I have to buy swipecard-type affairs, which they load with credit to the value that I request. "It's easier," I'm (un)reliably informed.

I think on this as I'm leaving the shop with my frankly uninspiring-looking gifts. I've just spent almost £200, and all I've got to show for it is six credit-card-size pieces of plastic. And they don't even say on them how much they are "worth". "You'll have to tell the recipient," I was told.

How can this be better than pieces of paper that say "I am worth £20" on them? Oh yeah, I know. It's because when you give this to someone, they'll go, "Gee, thanks, um what the fuck do I do with this? Oh, I know I'll put it in the kitchen drawer and forget about it for six months, then when I next see it I'll think it's a bit of cheap tat and throw it in the bin."

Yes, dear readers, that is why it's easier. Because it ends up never being redeemed, and Woolworths ends up making money out of selling you nothing. What a shower of cunts.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Christmas No.1?

I have just written this this afternoon. I suggest it for the collaboration of James Blunt, Coldplay, and Cliff Richard, as per Red's comment in my last post. Enjoy!

"Cunts Anonymous (We Are The Cunts)"

As Christmas draws near
And the snow is here and thickening
It's just the time of year
For a song that's really sickening.

We've gathered all your faves
Collected them together
Forget about your raves
This song will last forever.

Oh we are the cunts
We are the cunts
We are we are we are the cunts
We'll say it all again
It's not enough just once
We are we are we are we are
We are we are the cunts.

You'll hear this song in nightclubs
You'll hear it in your car
You'll listen for the mention
Of a special shining star.

But the only star we care about
Is on our dressing-room doors
We're not in it for religion
Nor for a worthy cause.

Rpt Chorus.

Middle 8:
So buy buy buy it while can
A copy for your mother and another for your nan
Buy buy buy it for yourself
A great way to increase our personal wealth.

And as Christmas flies by
And as we reach New Year
Listening to this song again
Will drive you to the beer.

Rpt Chorus to fade.

Why? Why for the love of God, why?

I heard about this a few weeks ago, but I really hoped it was a horrible lie. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a bit of Green Day. Obviously American Idiot is their best album by a mile, and even that gets a bit boring in the last third.

But I abso-fucking-lutely have to draw the line when they team up with those cunts U2. I just cannot bear those fuckheads.

Why would Green Day do that? And for what? To record a damn cover version of a boring song by The Skids -- a band whose contribution to music pretty much began and ended with "Into the Valley", which, granted, is a fucking classic.

What a sad crock of shite. Maybe I can make this the first item of my list of what not to give thanks for, now that it's the day after Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cape Haute and Rue Ander

Don't they sound like exotic locations: Cape Haute and Rue Ander? The one could be a French-speaking part of Africa and the other a tiny side street in Paris, maybe. But they're not, are they? I'm just being very silly, aren't I? They are, rather, pretty rubbish clues to my two movie reviews this Thursday morn.

First up, Cape Haute, or Capote as it may be known to some of you.

To be fair, my knowledge of Truman Capote pretty much begins and ends with what I learned during this movie. Of course, I already knew that he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood and that both of those books had been turned into successful movies. But beyond that, zilch, zero, nada, niente. But I'd been looking forward to the Oscar-winning tour de force performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as the eponymous scribe.

The plot is simple: It's 1959, and author Capote goes on a magazine-column mission to report on the shock random murder of an entire family in a small town in the middle of nowhere. But when the perpetrators are tracked down and arrested, Capote's involvement grows, as does the scope of his article, which turns into a book: "the first non-fiction novel".

But he can't finish his book until the legal process is over. The ending of the story dictates the ending of his story, you see. And a string of appeals drags the process out and tries Capote's patience. It is here that we start to see Capote as nothing more than a self-serving arrogant prick, and yet his charm and intelligence are such that you know he would be good fun to hang out with, as long as the booze supply was limited.

I thought this was a truly great film. Naturally Hoffman was a standout. But then he is probably the finest actor working in the world today. Catherine Keener, as Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was great, too. I think she is a fantastic actor, and time after time I get so pissed off at how underused she is in everything. People should go to the gallows for the talent they waste when employing her for a job, seriously. And Chris Cooper, too: great job.

In fact, this has landed a spot in my list of Films You Should Watch If You Want To Know How To Act: it's right up there with Citizen Kane and Raging Bull. Kudos to Hoffman.

The film doesn't fully hold up to the lead performance, but then how could it? But I do believe that in years to come we will ask ourselves, "How the hell did Brokeback Mountain beat this to Best Movie?"

The Blog About Nowt score for this flick is a shotgun-pumping 82 out of 100.

And so to Rue Ander, or rather Shooting Dogs, which is set in Rwanda and is about the genocide there in 1994.

It's obvious that I'm going to compare this with Hotel Rwanda, which I watched a wee while back. Much of the background info is obviously the same, but the setting is new: this time we're in a technical college rather than a hotel, and the heroes of the hour are a Catholic priest and his young protegé.

Immediately after watching it, I felt that it wasn't as strong as that other film. For example, I hated the young male lead. Hated, hated, hated. Maybe it's a class thing, but he just came across as an annoying wimpy ponce, which, granted, the script kind of implied he was, when his character says something like: "I grew up with everything, so I came here to give something back. Sometimes I give myself a pat on the shoulder and say, 'You're starring in your own Oxfam ad'." Indeed, he realizes what a terrible cliché he is. Still, it didn't stop me from finding him annoying as fuck.

And John Hurt as the priest. I don't know... I just don't get priests. He just came across as a deluded, crazy old fool.

Of course, all of this can't take away from the horrific situation that people like this were living through. But at the end of the day, most of them walked away back to their safe European homes and left the locals to be machete'd to death. Nice. This period in such recent history should be a huge blot on the UN's conscience. But I fear it is merely indicative of what a shitty, toothless waste of space it really is.

On the plus side, this film at least didn't have the happy Hollywood ending that Hotel Rwanda had (I'm talking within the setting of the film, rather than of the war itself, obviously), and I can't help thinking how much better this film might have been if made by the team behind that other movie and with different actors. (Although even this film had to have a tacked-on "five years later" happy coda.)

Bottom line: Good horrible story, unappealing actors, annoying epilogue. 62 out of 100

To see how these two films rank alongside all the others I've reviewed in these pages, check out this post.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Coffee break

coffee break
There's nothing better towards the arse end of a working day than a good cup of black coffee (in a Cornishware cup and saucer, of course... we are English, after all) and a few slices of Madeira cake.

I read recently that Madeira cake goes very well with a glass of Madeira, too. In the same article I also read that people who live on the island of Madeira refer to Madeira cake as English cake. Can that be true? If so, well, that's pretty fucked up.

HP HP Why? Because we care. We do care, don’t we?

Long-term-ish readers will remember this post about HP Sauce moving to Holland, back in August.

Well, my blogmate Karen has brought a petition to my attention. If you're based in the UK, you can click through and follow her link to sign up and keep HP British.

A fleeting moment

Wednesday breaks
This red sky lasted about 20 seconds, pre-sunrise, at about 7:15 this morning. I'm glad I photographed it when I had the chance.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pearly kings ’n’ queens ’n’ me

Pearly kings 'n' queens 'n' me

Monday, November 20, 2006

I forgot to tell you about my bargain

Went to Lillywhites in Piccadilly Circus. They're selling Converse hi-tops for half price:
£17.49 / US$33 / C$38 / €26 / Aus$43 / PHP1,652.

And they've got half sizes. (By the way, is that enough conversions for y'all?)

Sure, the choice of colours is limited, but who can resist at that price? Not I.

Oh, how I love Mondays. Not that this post has anything to do with that, but...

Wow, three days without a post. Excluding holidays, that must be a Blog About Nowt record. Not a record I'm particularly proud of. My goal for this year is to hit my 500th post before Christmas. It should be doable, as long as I don't go taking three-day breaks. Loser.

Thanks to everyone who chipped in with suggestions of what to do with my family for Christmas. It really was much appreciated.

I'll tell y'all a little secret. Ten years ago I had a hernia operation, and whenever I get stressed the site of the op gives me some serious gyp that I could do without. Like a sharp pain. Not constant, but it just hits you when you're least expecting it. I first realized this was stress-related only about a year ago when some friends and their two kids came to visit. The kids were up in everything, running and jumping around, and frankly being a big pain in the ass. Towards the end of their stay I was in some serious discomfort but kept a brave face. Within minutes of waving them off the pain subsided and was fine for the rest of the evening etc.

Last week, while dealing with the turmoil that was in my head over gifts and shit, I had a couple of days where I was in the same discomfort. By Friday morning I had decided simply to buy vouchers for everyone and be done with it. Pain gone. In both senses of the word.

Red and I met up with the aforementioned foursome yesterday, anyway, and all went fine. It was good to see my dad, obviously. He's not a bad ol' stick. We saw London's Pearly Kings and Queens and had our pictures taken with them; Red rode the carousel in Covent Garden, which is part of the Christmas schtick they've got going on; and we ate at Hamburger Union. I think Red will post some pics of some of this stuff at her blog later today or tomorrow.

Then she and I, once we'd stuck the family in a taxi, headed down to the Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. This has become a recent tradition of sorts. We went two years ago but missed it last year, so we wanted to make sure we caught it this year. Always worth a look, and really not badly priced at £6 a head. Just a shame that so many people think it's appropriate to take their children in with them. Let's be fair, a photography exhibition is no place for kids: they just don't have the patience to be quiet and respectful for the roughly 90 minutes or so needed to see all the photos. They go running around, shouting and screaming, and pissing everyone off.

After that we headed home, ate the remains of Saturday night's pizza, and watched Capote.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Family fun

It's been a while since I wrote this post about meeting my dad's new woman, and this follow-up. In the meantime, my mum, too, has moved on and has now shacked up with her new man. I've not met him yet. I was due to meet him sometime around now, but work commitments have forced a change of plan.

What I want to know is: What do all these new family members mean for my pocket at Christmas? My dad has effectively added three people to the family, while my mum has added one with a couple of grown-up sons.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not the tight-fisted type. Indeed, I enjoy spending money on people who are close to me and who I like. The fact that I have only one person close to me and who I like is neither here nor there, all right?

But bugger me if not only do I really not have the time to buy gifts for people I've never met, I also don't really have the inclination. I've tried to bring the subject up with my mum, saying stuff like, "Y'know, what with one thing and another, why don't we just not bother with buying stuff for one another?" But she just won't wear it. It was suggested by one of my siblings that she may feel this way because, what with the family being splintered so much already this year, cancelling Christmas may be like another slap in the face.

Anyways, I'm going to meet one more member of my extended family on Sunday. My dad is coming to London with his missus and her daughter. And the grandma. Who can't walk very far. Oh, how do I get myself into these things?! I sound like a cunt, don't I? I know I do, but I don't mean to. I like to meet new family members one at a time, given the choice. It makes it less stressful all round. The girl will probably be okay and everything, as much as I hate kids. And the gran will probably okay, too. I don't have anything against old people. My own grandparents are great, as are many older people I've met over the years, such as parents of friends and stuff. It's just... well, I like to be free with my language, and I can't help but feel I might be a little compromised with an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old in tow.

Is that the only reason? Well, no, probably not. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with my own feelings of insecurity faced with the possibility of usurpers coming in and depriving me of my father's attention. But fuck that shit, it's the cunting cussing that counts, right?

Quick film review

How I Killed My Father, aka My Father and I
It was all right, I suppose. Put the missus to sleep, though.
59 out of 100?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When you wish upon a star

Watching the local news while eating my lunch, I chanced upon some cricket story. Now, I really don't give a toss about sport in general and cricket in particular, so I was only half listening. But it seems that some bloke who plays for a Sussex cricket club has decided to stay with his team after initially saying he was leaving.

Four people were interviewed to give us their opinions, and one woman said that the news was great and that she "couldn't wish for anything better".

Imagine that: she could not wish for anything better. A nice big diamond ring? World peace? A cure for cancer? Nah, fuck all that, she wants her cricket captain back. What a cunt.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Whatever became of...? #3

In the third of this occasional series, I ask you to cast your mind waaaaay back to the summer of 1982. You may remember a certain duo that had two Top 20 UK hits and, beyond that, very little else.

"Shotgun, gimme gimme low-down fun, boy," were the words with which they opened their biggest hit, which went on to tell us all about the Duke himself getting some interracial shagging action:

John Wayne, in lover's lane, making whoopee with his squaw,
But his bullet belt starts getting in the way, it's making his life a bore.
So she says to him, "Take off that thing, it's getting right between us."
- "Now listen, honey, I can't do that, not even for you, my sweetness."
- "Well, Big John, if that's a fact, then how d'you propose we do our act?
If that's the way it's gonna be, then get the hell out of my teepee."

You'll be pleased to hear that Big John manages to persuade Speckled Hen to let him stay by informing her, not in so many words, that he will instead take her doggie style.

Ah, the indisputable charms of 1980s pop music. Who said romance was dead?

Haysi Fantayzee, much like the aforementioned romance, are also far from dead. The male member, Jeremy, is a DJ type and he's got some stuff going on this year apparently. (But then has-beens always say that, don't they?) And the girlie one, Kate, returned to photography, the career she left behind when pop stardom beckoned, only to later tell her, "Nah, only joking!"

See, who says you don't learn useful shit at this blog?

As a postscript, I'd also like to draw your attention to a point at which the lyrics to "John Wayne Is Big Leggy" tell us: "He knows what's right, and he knows that God is with him cos he's white". Remind you of any currently serving US president, perhaps?

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Sunday

Friday, November 10, 2006

TV sucks; films rule

All I'm doing at the moment is working and watching films. I love watching films. It's way better than watching TV, for example. With a few exceptions, such as great wildlife series that have taken years to make, or the occasional documentary, television is mostly shit. Sure, we all watch the odd reality show or soap or whatever, but deep down we know it's shit. We watch it just for the escapism, or to look at someone less fortunate than ourselves, glad that we're not in their shoes.

But films are art. It may sound shallow, but I can never truly trust someone who says they don't like films. Y'know, people have actually said to me that they can't watch films. They don't have the attention span. Or they're just "not interested". Huh? I don't get that. It doesn't matter what you are into in life, there is a film for you, just as there is a book for you, or a painting, or even a TV show. To simply be "not interested" in films is ridiculous.

So -- didn't you just know it? -- all of this preamble is leading up to yet another film review (such as they are). The film I watched most recently (two nights ago) is a rare second viewing. Rare these days, that is. I used to rewatch films often, but not so much now.

Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street is a real class act that works on several levels. Despite being a film noir, this was actually made more than a decade after The Maltese Falcon, and this distance has helped Fuller to get a bit post-modern on the genre. There is a humour throughout the picture that you just don't see much of in those earlier noirs. The speed with which Candy falls in love with Skip, for example, is laughable, but you go with it because you know you're going to get paid off in spades later. But not in Sam Spades, because this is Fuller's world, and the detective can never be the guy you root for.

The plot revolves around some pickpocketed microfilm of US governmental secrets that is on its way to being sold to the Commies. Well, it's 1953, folks, and the red threat was all around. But this isn't really the point. The microfilm is the MacGuffin that drives the story. Don't get me wrong -- the story is slight, but what do you expect in 80 mins?

What you should expect is fun and action and the subversive take that Fuller brings to all his pictures. Never one to shy away from the ugly truth, Fuller takes the Bogart-style slaps across women's faces that are so commonplace in noir and shows us the deep bruising and swollen jaws that follow. The wide-angle tracking shot that Fuller uses to shoot the brawl between Candy and her traitor boyfriend Joey is a real eye-opener. It's brief, but in these days of fast cutting and close-ups and half the time not having a clue where you're supposed to be looking, this approach looks as fresh now as it did then. Gritty and real. A true tussle unfolding before you in real time.

Aaahh, you know, I liked this film. It's not a great film, as I said, in terms of story, but it's a simple tale brilliantly told and expertly made. If you're not familiar with Fuller's work, pour yourself a Scotch on the rocks, get your best dame beside you, and check this out. Shit, even if you like Fuller and you know this film well, why not pour yourself a Scotch on the rocks, get your best dame beside you, and check this out again?

What's the scores on the doors, then? I'll give it 72.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I need a day off.

me looking well rough

I've lost track of how long it's been since I had a full day off. Certainly it's more than three months, including 12- to 14-hour days and weekends, too. It's taken its toll, as you can see. Just a month ago, my hair was a flowing, luxurious mane, like the baby Lion King's dad before he got killed. And my eyes look like pissholes in the snow with a couple of suitcases nearby, where once they were a glorious sky blue with no bags beneath them.

I currently look, as we say here in the UK, as rough as a badger's arse.

Where is my day off? Where is my holiday? Luckily, in the absence of both, we have alcohol in the house. And we all know alcohol is renowned for its healing and rejuvenating properties, don't we?

... and another film

Last night I watched The Beat That My Heart Skipped, a French remake of a 1970s movie called Fingers, which starred Harvey Keitel. I didn't realize it was a remake until the end, but "serious" film mags like Sight & Sound had been saying glorious things about The Beat That My Heart Skipped, such as it being the best film of 2005.

As it happens, it was all right. I liked it, but it wasn't even the best film I've seen in the past week, let alone of a whole year.

The lead actor, Romain Duris, was very good, though, and reminded me initially of Colin Farrell, then, later on, of a Mean Streets-era Robert De Niro. The film is probably worth watching for this guy alone.

Good film, but don't believe the hype. I score this 70.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Films of the past few days

Caché (Hidden)
Michael Haneke is fast becoming one of my favourite directors. I think of him as the David Lynch of "foreign" cinema. Indeed, so much so that this movie starts with a couple receiving video tapes of their house under surveillance, à la Lynch's Lost Highway. A little further in, a dinner guest tells a story about a dog, the punchline of which is identical to Jack Nance's canine tale in Wild at Heart. A fair amount of the film plays out in near darkness, as does much of Lynch's oeuvre, especially the last third, apparently, of his upcoming Inland Empire. So, is Haneke a dirty robbing bastard? Well, I rather think not. What he is is a great film-maker creating often challenging pieces of work that play with notions of time and personal interrelations. Hidden sees a return to the theme of rewinding time, in this case, videotape, much as he did so brilliantly in one key scene in Funny Games. It also adds fuel to my belief that he is obsessed with doorways. I really liked this film, despite having to watch it in three sittings. Just think how much more I would have liked it in one. 80 out of 100.

The Omen
Previously I've only ever seen snippets of The Omen, like, 25 years ago. We all know what The Omen is about, don't we? The devil's son is "adopted" by Lee Remick and Gregory Peck and marks the beginning of the end of the world, apparently. I've gotta say, despite being a pretty old movie, this was still quite good. You have to ignore the fashions of the time, of course, but the story is strong and the film well acted. Hell, it's even got Patrick Troughton in it, who was the second Doctor Who, back in the '60s! Speaking of the 60s, I'll give this 62 points.

Last Party 2000
Philip Seymour Hoffmann fronts this documentary following the 2000 US elections, the ones that Bush and his brother rigged so that Dubya would win the presidency. It's pretty much what you would expect, given that we all know the outcome only too well, but it is interesting, and there are some great quote, like this one from GWB himself: "If we don't win the state of Florida, my brother Jeb will be in big trouble." Oh, that plays great now, don't it, Georgie Boy? There are also celeb talking heads such as Noam Chomsky, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Bill Maher, and others. Somewhat of its time, this film, but interesting nonetheless. 62 points.

Dog Soldiers
The British film industry has been closely tied to horror for some 40 years, and Dog Soldiers was widely held up as a return to form on its initial release. I saw this on the Sci-Fi channel, and unfortunately it was pan-and-scanned and had commercial breaks, but at least it wasn't cut for language or violence. It was a reasonably enjoyable romp, played well by all concerned, and it was far better than the director's next film, The Descent. A middling 60 for this.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Ace of Spades, the Ace of Spades

saddam.JPGAh, just when you thought things could barely get any worse in Iraq, they give Saddam the death penalty. He is to be hanged for crimes against humanity.

Fuck me, it's sure to be mayhem over there in the coming days, isn't it? I mean, isn't it? Is this not a no-brainer?

Wife and I were talking about this over breakfast this morning, before they had passed the sentence, and we were saying how strange it is that Baghdad has become synonymous with all these terrible things over the past few years. Sure, Saddam was in power for 35 years, but we in our insulated cocoons knew little of what was going on. As children, we saw Baghdad as this wonderful, magical, exotic city of flying carpets and beautiful palaces. Now look at it. It's a great shame.

I don't know how I feel about Saddam being sentenced to death. I'm not really against the death penalty, truth be told, in cases where there is absolutely no question over someone's guilt of horrific crimes against people. That said, it's easier to feel that way in a country that doesn't use it. All I'm thinking right now is that it seems a barbaric thing to do, and death by hanging more so than lethal injection or firing squad, the latter being Saddam's preferred choice. In the meantime, of course, he's appealing. Well, wouldn't you?

Of course, I would add to this that the whole thing is bullshit. While Saddam has rightly been found guilty of heinous acts, the fact remains that this whole thing never would have happened if the US-led war had not gone ahead, which it shouldn't have on the reasons that were given. Nobody actually gave a fuck while he was killing people, and yet as soon as someone lied about WMDs, we were there like a shot. Ends justify the means? Maybe. But it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Anyway, whenever the death penalty is on the agenda, I find myself thinking of the following song.

"Let Him Dangle", Elvis Costello

Bentley said to Craig, "Let him have it, Chris."
They still don't know today just what he meant by this.
Craig fired the pistol, but he was too young to swing,
So the police took Bentley and the very next thing
Let him dangle.
Let him dangle.

Bentley had surrendered, he was under arrest,
When he gave Chris Craig that fatal request.
"Craig shot Sidney Miles, he took Bentley's word,"
The prosecution claimed as they charged them with murder.
Let him dangle.
Let him dangle.

They say Derek Bentley was easily led.
Well, what's that to the woman that Sidney Miles wed?
Though guilty was the verdict, and Craig had shot him dead,
The gallows were for Bentley, and still she never said,
"Let him dangle,
Let him dangle."

Well it's hard to imagine it's the times that have changed
When there's a murder in the kitchen that is brutal and strange.
If killing anybody is a terrible crime,
Why does this bloodthirsty chorus come round from time to time?
Let him dangle.

Not many people thought that Bentley would hang,
But the word never came, the phone never rang.
Outside Wandsworth Prison there was horror and hate
As the hangman shook Bentley's hand to calculate his weight.
Let him dangle.

From a welfare state to society murder,
"Bring back the noose" is all that is heard
Whenever those swine are under attack,
But it won't make you even,
It won't bring him back.

Let him dangle.
Let him dangle (string him up).

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Happy Birthday, Adam Ant

Adam Ant is 52 years old today, not 83 as Lee suggested in yesterday's comment. I've been a fan since 1980 and the "Kings of the Wild Frontier" single. I still buy everything new that comes out. My first tattoo was one kinda like the one you see here: a heart with a sword through it, and the words Pure Sex. I got it done in 1990 to celebrate ten years of listening to Antmusic.

Happy Birthday, Adam!

Photograph © Mick Mercer.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

(I’m) Almost Famous (too)

This is for Camie, in response to her post about celeb encounters. They are in no particular order except that the first ten are people that I've actually met, while the rest are people I've passed in the street or seen round and about.

1. Paul Daniels, British "magician" (I was a kid)
2. Adam Ant, fucking icon
3. Derek Jarman, gay film-maker extraordinaire
4. Mark Wingett (DC Carver from The Bill); he saw a play I was in and complimented my performance
5. Jane Bodie, who is apparently now one of Australia's most important playwrights; was one of my closest friends for a couple of years in my mid-20s
6. Valerie Colgan: she was in Aliens and was one of my acting teachers
7. Esther Hall, from the UK Queer As Folk and the recent BT ads; she auditioned for a play I was co-producing/co-directing
8. Rhino from the UK's Gladiators show; he complimented me on my Manics T-shirt
9. Debbie Isitt, film-maker
10. Susan Powell, BBC weathergirl; not seen her for about 20 years, but we used to live in the same street and go to the same school

11. Marc Almond (almost bumped right into him on Camden High Street)
12. Diego Abatantuono, Italian acting god
13. Lucio Dalla, Italian singer
14. Keith Flint of Prodigy, dressed in country-gent garb at the airport
15. Mark Addy, eating pizza close by
16,17,18,19. Ian Broudie, Kylie Minogue, and two people from EastEnders at a Manics gig at the Royal Albert Hall
20. Carol Vorderman
21. Russell Crowe at Wagamama
22. Justine Elastica at an Adam Ant gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire
23. Jackie Mason, eating at Artie's Deli in NYC
24. Chris Lowe, Pet Shop Boy, on Islington's Upper Street
25. Gary Olsen (RIP), of 2 Point 4 Children fame: sat next to him on the Tube
26. Ken Livingstone, London Mayor, on Old Compton Street, Soho.
27. Robert Powell, aka Jesus, on his way to the video store where Red used to work
28. Sister Wendy Beckett
29. that bloke out of Crowded House trying to find his guitar at the airport
30. Stefan Dennis (Paul from Neighbours)
31. Jennilee (from Britain's Next Top Model); she was entering our local Sainsbury's supermarket as we were leaving
32. some bloke out of Hollyoaks in Tesco Metro, Covent Garden
33. Shadow from the UK's Gladiators show outside Tesco Metro, Covent Garden
34. Tom Baker, former Doctor Who
35. Simon King, BBC wildlife genius
36. Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow: I spoke to her on the phone; does that count?
37. Ricky Gervais at an ATM in Camden Town
38. Bill Paterson, British actor, in Soho Square not long after Truly, Madly, Deeply came out
39. Phil Davis, excellent British actor and star of Quadrophenia and Face; he was standing in the doorway of the now-long-gone Dillons bookshop on Long Acre. He's short
40. Samantha Morton
41. Graham Norton
42. Giorgio Locatelli, celeb chef, at his restaurant; he signed a leaving card for a friend who was going back to Australia
43. Simon Callow, genius Brit actor and Orson Welles biographer, who is sadly probably most famous for Four Weddings and a Funeral. Saw him at Leicester Square Tube station
44. Helen Baxendale, actress from Cold Feet and Friends, outside Ed's Diner in Old Compton Street, with a man and a baby in a pushchair
45. Jason Priestley, of Beverly Hills 90210 fame, in The Maple Leaf pub, in Covent Garden, one lunchtime


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints’ Day

It would have been my father-in-law's birthday today. He was a great and kind man, too often (i.e., always) putting others before himself. I knew him for just six or seven years, but he was always a true gent.

I've written and rewritten several things here, but I've deleted them all in favour of saying simply: Some people are born on exactly the right day of the year.

Red has, of course, paid full tribute over at her blog.

Who links to me?